Jacob and Jasper were facing off in the living room when I got home, glaring at each other, while Reneesme lay on the couch, asleep. I wondered what on earth was going on, what would have the boys so uptight while my daughter slept on in blissful ignorance.
Both boys were glaring, both were growling, both were very unhappy, though Jasper seemed more defensive in his position than offensive, as if he didn't actually want a fight. So what had Jasper done to make Jacob so angry with him?
"Touch her again, leech!" Jacob threatened with a snarl. I could see he was trying to control himself somewhat, he didn't want to phase in the middle of the living room. So Jasper had done something to Reneeseme. A panicked glance in her direction said she was fine. So then what was going on here?
"She asked for it." Jasper snapped, and Jacob lost it. He lunged for Jasper, phasing as he did, and knocked him down, his bared fangs inches from Jasper's throat. Jasper, on the other hand, was very still, refusing, apparently, even to defend himself.
"What is going on?" I snapped. "Jacob, get off of him! Go calm down, put some clothes on, and then we can work this out like civilized people." Jacob got off Jasper, but shot him a smug look as he darted upstairs.
Jasper rose gracefully from the floor, but refused to meet my eyes. What had he done to my daughter? What had made Jacob so furious? What had he done that he would no longer meet my eyes?
"Oh, Mom." Reneesme had woken up during the fight. "You're overreacting. Jacob is too, for that matter."
I rushed to my daughter's side, checking to make sure she was really alright. She seemed fine. I turned back to give Jasper a confused look. He steadfastly continued to avoid my gaze.
And Jacob was back, dressed. He growled at Jasper and moved to sit on the other side of Nessie on the couch. I took a deep breath, readying myself to find out what exactly had happened. "Now," I said, "what happened?"
Jacob growled again. "He bit her."
I was up and across the room in less than a second, my face mere inches from Jasper's. "What?" I demanded. Jasper flinched.
"Mom!" Reneesme interjected. "Please don't kill Uncle Jazzy. It's not his fault."
I turned to stare at her. "Not his fault?" He had bitten my beautiful baby girl. And she was suggesting that it was not his fault, but hers.
She sighed, "Yes, Mom. Not his fault. It was mine." As if anything she could do to provoke him would be justification for him to bite her.
The door swung open, and Edward stepped through, followed by my sisters and brother. Emmett looked around quickly and cursed. "We missed it! I wanted to see Jasper kick Jacob's butt."
Edward growled at him, and then turned to growl at Jasper. "Just because she asked you to is no excuse." He snarled. I felt frustrated. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, and I was still in the dark.
Alice stepped into the fray. "I told you he can't help it. I told you that four weeks ago when she decided to ask him."
Reneesme was indignant. "You told him, no fair, Auntie!" It was only Auntie when Reneesme was mad at her aunt, which was rarely. The rest of the time it was Auntie Alice.
"He saw it dear, I didn't tell him. And I told him he couldn't stop it anyway." Alice replied patiently. "Don't act surprised, Edward."
Emmett smirked. "And pay up. I told you he couldn't refuse her anything she wanted."
Edward growled. "That's supposed to be Jacob, not him."
"What is going on here?" I snapped at Edward finally, and the room went still, as if no one wanted to step up and confess whatever horrible thing Jasper had done to my daughter that the others had kept secret from me.
Jasper finally stepped forward. "I'll explain." He said.
"Good idea." Jacob sneered. "I'll watch while she tears you apart."
"Lay off, mutt." Rosalie retorted.
Jasper spoke again. "She's been asking me about this for four weeks, Bella." He said almost desperately, worried that perhaps I would try to tear him apart. "I didn't think it was a good idea and told her so, but…" He trailed off. Nobody in this house was very good at refusing Reneesme, unless it was something bad for her, and he seemed to enjoy doing whatever least little thing she desired even more than the others.
Reneesme sighed and moved to stand beside him. She lifted the left sleeve of her shirt to reveal a long, thin row of-bite marks?-encircling her upper arm in a band. I whipped around to glare at Jasper.
"It's okay, Mom." Reneesme assured me. "I've been on to him about this for weeks now. I really did ask him to do it. He tried to resist me, Mom, but he just couldn't help it. Please don't kill him."
"You're supposed to be the responsible uncle." I accused. "Emmett's supposed to be the one I have to worry about."
"Hey!" Emmett protested good-naturedly. He wasn't really a bad influence, he just wasn't as cautious as Jasper usually was.
Jasper ducked his head nervously, forcing himself not to eye his escape routes. He knew where they all were anyway.
"You bit her." I growled. "You bit my daughter. What were you thinking?"
Reneesme rolled her eyes. "Possibly that I'm fully mature now and not a baby any more and capable of making my own decisions on things?" She suggested.
"You stay out of this." I told her.
That was when Carlisle and Esme decided to show up and plunge the room once more into confusion. Once everything was explained, though, Esme said if there were to be anymore fighting we could take it outside, while Carlisle eyed the 'tattoo' critically.
"Well, it was carefully done, Jasper." He said at last. "No risk of complications, the skin is already healing nicely. You seem to have thought this through." I glared at him, and he shrugged.
"They'll talk later." Edward assured me, a hint of satisfaction in his voice.
Jasper snarled at him and turned on his heel, darting out the door in a flash, Alice right behind him. Rosalie and Emmett, realizing there would be no confrontation, slipped off upstairs, and Jacob stomped off while Edward took a look for himself at our daughter's 'tattoo.'
Esme touched my shoulder lightly, beckoning for me to follow her, and we slipped outside and far enough away from the house to have a private conversation. "You know," she said conversationally, "I remember when Edward decided he would try living the other way for a while. He left us for quite some time."
I was silent, waiting. I knew she had a point to this, and would get to it when the time was right. "And then Rosalie decided she wanted Emmett changed, that she wanted him." She sighed, and wondered where she was going with this. "And I remember when Alice decided she and Jasper had to leave our family." I remembered that, but what was her point?
She smiled at me fondly. "I guess what I'm trying to say, dear, is that our children will decide to do things, decide to try things. Some of these things will be good, some will be horrible. You want them to have the good, and you want to shelter them from the bad. But there comes a point, Bella, that you have to stand aside and let them make their own decisions, good and bad, and learn to do things themselves, and all you can do is stand by and love them as they make the decisions that sometimes break your heart."
"But this is stupid." I blurted. "And permanent. It's something she'll probably regret later."
Esme shook her head. "I'm not so sure. Did you ask her why she had him do it?" I shook my head, dumbfounded. It hadn't occurred to me she might even have a reason.
Esme smiled. "I heard her asking Jasper yesterday, and I did ask her why she wanted it. She said it was a symbol. She had a family, she had a coven. She had people that would face down the Volturi and more for her. She was safe, protected, loved."
I thought about that for a minute. "So what did you say to that?" I asked. If that was what it meant to her, perhaps it wasn't all that bad.
Esme grinned mischievously at me before replying. "I told her if it stood for all that, then maybe I'd get one." She giggled, then added thoughtfully, "Of course, Carlisle would have to do it instead, he would never put up with another male leaving marks on me."
I would have blushed, but I knew what she meant. Edward was very protective too.
"Thank you." I said to her, heading back inside. "Excuse me, please. I need to go talk to my daughter." I said as I slipped through the door. "And apologize to Jasper later." I added under my breath.
Disclaimer: Not mine!