Weeks passed and turned into months. I noticed little. I still drank, still moved, still spoke and smiled when the time called for it – I was no Marcus – but I lived my life with a reserved detachment, slightly amused by everything but taking no real interest. The only focus I had now was for power. Just as I had moved swiftly through the armies, so would I move through the ranks of the Volturi. I was already their golden hero, what with the birth of my son. They called him Caine. I had seen the child just after his birth and little since. It didn't matter.
We began trying for the second one shortly after his birth. Again, Demetri searched for the women while I stayed behind to proffer my masculine services, and again I lost control a few times in the beginning.
I liked the smallest ones best. The petite, lithe beauties, especially the ones with dark hair. The rush that came with bedding them…and the even bigger rush that came after with their sweet, swift death…was made even better by the little prickings of feeling I got whenever near them, feelings I thought I had long since silenced. It made me feel almost alive again. Sometimes I remembered why I felt this way. Sometimes the scent got to me too quickly to allow for any thought. Either way, they were dead soon after, and it was back to the cold monotony of my existence once more…at least until the next go-round.
It was later decided that the next woman would be mated with Demetri in the hopes of creating more gifted children. Thus, I was the one who had to take his place on the hunt for the next potential mother. A pack of us toured through southern Europe, scouring Spain and Portugal first before moving to the Mediterranean, deciding there to split up. I was assigned to Prague, where rumors of a tall, goddess-like woman with the ability to capture any man were beginning to reach the Volturi's ears.
The Golden City was beautiful, and the people there had a distinctive, cultured flavor that the people of Volterra did not. I will admit, I spent my first nights there gorging myself sick and didn't really get started hunting this mythical woman until the third twilight. Word said she hung around the cafes in the Lesser Quarter, and that was my first stop. There were many beautiful women indeed, but none that tickled my particular fancy. After another round of scanning the females, I left, taking a side street that would lead to the Old Town where she had also been sighted. Maybe there –
Fiery pain shot through my body like the sudden sting of venom that came with a newborn's bite. It was torture like I hadn't felt in a long time, not since the last time I had lost a limb – Texas, 1907. I toppled over and let out a groan as I hit the ground. The pain was still pulsing through me, as rhythmic as the heartbeat I had once had, and I opened my eyes to see two shadowy figures standing above me.
"Well, well, well," one of them muttered softly, "what a pleasant surprise finding you here, Jasper."
The streetlights hadn't yet come on, but I didn't need them to see who had attacked me. Rosalie, looking as perfect as always, was standing next to me, brandishing the leg she had ripped from my right socket – easily explaining the agony I was in. She was dressed in impractical white, looking like a torturous angel of mercy, especially with the dim twilight setting her hair a-glowing like a halo. Next to her, his arms folded across his chest, was Edward, playing the devil to her angel in all black, even his eyes. His hunger sent an animalistic wave of fear through me; I would need all my wits about me if I was to survive this.
"Surprise indeed," Edward murmured, one corner of his mouth curving up into a crooked grin. "When did the Volturi change their headquarters to Bohemia?"
I smirked at him through the pain. "When our potential mothers started gathering…"
The amused look on Rosalie's face halted my voice. Suddenly, it all made sense. Tales of a tall, beautiful woman…theories the Volturi were unable to trace…it wasn't a human, no, not at all. Such a female could only exist in our fantastical world.
"You? You were the ones spreading those rumors?!" I growled from my place on the floor, shoving myself up – but not for long. Rosalie reached down and tore my left arm off, leaving me lying prostrate before them, a painful snarl rumbling in my throat. I didn't miss them at all, I noted silently to myself, almost amused at the thought.
"Rosalie, enough." Edward's voice was harsh and commanding, but she laughed anyway, a sound as cold and cutting as a diamond.
"I didn't spread them," she replied as she threw my limbs into a pile above my head. "That would be our little genius of a brother."
Both of our stares moved to Edward. Unlike Rosalie, who was staring down at me with a mocking little smile on her face, he was blank and serious, all business in his blacked-out eyes.
"Hardly a genius," he said smoothly, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm even surprised your people didn't figure out the puzzle before we got you here."
"My people…oh, the Volturi." I smiled, ignoring my pain and replacing it with schadenfreude. "Yes, I suppose they have become my people…what with my fathering their new race and all."
Rosalie shook a bit at that and Edward threw her a glance. I could feel him willing her to be stronger, but she still looked ill at the thought of my newest position.
"Oh, you didn't know, Rosie?" I asked mockingly. "You should come over for supper and meet him."
"Him?" she repeated.
"Yes. Caine, my –"
"Stop," Edward commanded. "God, here I was, thinking that you'd at least be apologetic. For her."
He didn't nod to Rosalie, but I knew which 'her' he meant. I clenched my jaw and stared at him. I had blocked any thought of that woman from my mind; couldn't he do the same? Or at least grant me the courtesy of not having to think of her?
"But no," he continued. "I should have known better. I should have known you wouldn't make it a day without her. She was what made you strong. Without her, you're nothing. She's better off without you, if this is what you've become – a scrap. Meaningless. Worthless."
I kicked out with my remaining leg, swiping it towards Edward. I wasn't fast enough; he jumped just in time, landing hard on my knee and nearly breaking my limb off with his force. It hurt like hell, but I clammed up, refusing to let them know they were causing me any sort of pain. The physical sort I could almost ignore, but the emotional…their golden eyes were haunting me, reminding me of the pair I had seen turn to ash. How had they even found out about her? Did they know that I had –
"Of course we know, you bastard," Edward interrupted my thoughts. "Marcus sent Carlisle the ashes. Esme went into hysterics. Not like you care."
I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly. I was far beyond caring about anything now. Life had lost all meaning. So what if they destroyed me? I had contributed my services to the Volturi, and they had Demetri to father the rest of the children. Besides, did I really want to spend my eternity in servitude to someone else? My devotion days had ended when Alice had spurned me so long ago; the end could have come then, for all I cared. An image sprang up in my head, a sudden flash of jet hair and white skin and small hands and big eyes –
No. I had buried all that. I pushed those visions away and focused on the two immortals standing above me, the ones who so longed for my destruction. If they did…so be it. But I'd let them know exactly how I felt about them, how they had ruined her and ruined me, before I let them have the last laugh.
"Care?" I smirked. "I could care less about either of you. Any of you."
"The feeling is mutual. On every side," Edward said with his own crooked grin…a secretive grin.
Every side…? What did he mean?
His smile grew wider as he explained. "You could care less. We could too. Even the Volturi. You think you matter to them? You're their little sperm donor. Nothing more. This power you think you have? It doesn't exist and it never will."
I stared up at him, not speaking, returning to my carefully deadened state. I wasn't about to let him know he was hitting the tender spots.
"Oh, you don't like that, do you?" Edward teased coldly. "You were an absolute idiot for killing her. Not just because she loved you or because we loved her. Because Aro was using you."
"I chose –"
"Liar," he spat. "I've heard everything. He told you to murder her. And you were so fucking numb, so eager for his meaningless approval that you did it. Do you even know why he chose you? Caius could have easily done it. Why you?"
I didn't answer, though my mind had run rampant with this question time and again.
"Your killing her was the only way to keep us from all-out war," Edward explained. "Had it been Caius or Felix or anyone else, we would have attacked you all. Cullens against Volturi. But no, letting you do it meant we only had to take out one. Remove the bad blood. You were his pawn all along, and he obviously doesn't mind losing you. How does it feel to be the newborn now, Jasper?"
He was mocking, quiet, and cruel. But if this was to be my final end, I would not go down without a fight.
"So that's what this is?" I said through gritted teeth in an attempt at distraction. "A chance to purify the family?"
"Family?" he repeated, and his voice was like ice.
"Family," I replied, a cruel smile picking at my lips. "I learned from your example, brother. Running away, hurting those we love…it's what Cullen men do best."
"You were hardly a Cullen," Rosalie spat. She clenched her hands tight at her sides, and I could tell she longed to tear another part of me away. I sneered at her, welcoming the fight.
Edward leaned over me, staring down my sneer. "And any trace you had of being our family ended when you killed our sister."
"I killed your sister?" I pushed myself up as best I could with one arm, leaning against the wall next to me for support. "Alice may have died by my hands, but you signed her death warrant, brother dear."
Like a sudden flash of lightning, Edward's fist swung out, colliding with my cheek and slamming my head into the stone. Spots danced in front of my eyes for a few minutes, and I was back on the ground when my vision finally cleared. I stayed there for a moment, collecting myself, wanting to be fully primed for Edward's fury when I came to.
Edward crouched low, his face in mine. "Don't you dare to speak her name," he snarled, his pitch eyes furious.
"Alice, Alice, Alice," I cried, getting louder with each intonation of her name. "She was my wife! I can do as I please."
He was sure to be fuming; he and Alice had been exceptionally close – but we both knew he was just as much to blame for her death as I was. He had sent her to the executioner and I had performed the act. Yet it had been me she was cursing during her final moments. Perhaps that was for the best. Better for her to hate me as she died than for her to think I was something worth her care. And now I would be finished too. No matter. It was probably better this way.
This was how I knew it would end. I knew that if they heard what had happened, they would come for me. His taunts made sense – Aro knew I would be the only one ruined if I was the murderer. Now, that ruination was at hand. I almost welcomed it. I had already begun suspecting that my bid for power in the Volturi would be for naught, even before Edward's words. And I wasn't about to proffer my services to them any longer if I would go nowhere. Perhaps on some subconscious level, I knew that angering the Cullens was my one way out. They would do to me what no one would do for Edward. I looked forward to the destruction, a smile on my face as I went on tormenting my former sibling.
"She never would have left had it not been for you and your selfish choices, Edward," I said, anticipating the rise that would bring my death. "If you hadn't done all you did, turned your back on everyone for one silly girl, she would still be here. Face. The. Facts. You did this to her. Destroying me isn't going to help your guilt any."
As I was speaking, I kept my gaze locked on Edward's, though my mind was hard at work, willing my arm back to me. If I had both, I could have the advantage – the upper hand, if you will. I had dealt with enough silly little newborns to easily be able to fight Rosalie and Edward – and there was no way I was letting myself go down without a good battle first. Just another few inches more and I could reknit myself together –
But Rosalie caught sight of what I was doing and stomped an elegant heeled boot on my dismembered arm, leaning over to pick it up.
"I never took you for playing dirty, Jasper," she scolded in a light, airy voice as she stared at my scarred skin in her hands, "what with that military training and all."
"My playing dirty?" I raised an eyebrow. "Yes, well, I'm not the one who oh-so-casually calls her brother to tell him his girlfriend committed suicide."
I watched with pleasure as she cringed then turned my face to Edward.
"And I'm not the one who forced my family to move because of one silly little human. Or who brought half the race to death's door to protect that human again."
Edward bristled and opened his mouth to speak.
"No," I cut him off. "None of this would have happened had it not been for you. You and her."
"You blame her and I'll –"
"I'm happy to blame her! It's just as much her fault as it is yours! God, I should have killed her when I had the chance!"
A sudden crack resounded in my ears, the sound of stone-hard flesh meeting stone-hard flesh. I ignored the throb in my cheek and looked up at Rosalie, wielding my arm like a weapon – she had struck me with my own hand. And she looked immensely proud of herself for having done so.
"You may not have had any respect for my other sister," she said, forcing each word through her clenched jaw, "but I won't have you speak badly of Bella, you insolent prick."
"Language, twin of mine," I teased coldly.
"You are not my brother," she retorted, her eyes lit up like flame.
"I told her that," I went on. "She swore up and down that you would all be true to us, that we'd all still be family…and then she had that vision."
Rosalie couldn't resist the bait. "What vision?"
"Rose, don't," Edward warned her.
I smirked and ignored him, going on. "She saw you boxing up all our things. Taking down the pictures. She knew you didn't want her anymore. And when the people she had given up her freedom for had given up on her, she was done. Alice wanted to die. She begged for it. She –"
Rosalie watched carefully as I placed the last shred of Jasper's flesh on the pile.
"Make sure you got it all," she murmured, her eyes scanning the alley to check.
"I did," I replied. I had taken care to keep everything together, letting no piece go discarded. Now the man I had once called my brother lay in pieces, his foot lying on his torso, his fingers scattered near his knees, and his head staring blankly where it lay atop the heap.
"Let me do the honors," Rosalie asked, a chilling thrill in her voice I hardly recognized. I handed over the little book of matches carelessly, never taking my eyes from the pile of parts that still quivered ominously. She lit a match quickly, dropped it only the pile, and stood back to watch. I joined her at her side, my arms folded across my chest while hers were clasped in front of her like a gleeful little girl. I almost felt the same happiness – though mine was in that I had gotten my revenge, finally evened the score and made right for the inaction I had not taken to stop my sister and her worthless macabre husband. Rosalie's satisfaction…well, her thoughts were wandering to the macabre herself. Perhaps they were more twins than I thought, I mused with a little smirk as flame swallowed up the deadened face of the man who had murdered our angel.
Strangely, it was a bonding moment between my last remaining sister and I. We had both volunteered to go – Emmett had only just started his new classes, and Esme wouldn't hear of Carlisle going, nor would I allow Bella. I had worried at first how this trip would affect us both as individuals and as brother and sister. Rosalie and I had always been an interesting pair; for us to share such a feeling against the man who had been our brother was a strange emotion. It was rather nice, sharing that. Almost as nice as it was staring down at the pile of ashes where Jasper's body had just been.
"I'd love to kick it," Rosalie said in a satisfied, bored tone, "but I'd hate ruining my new boots."
I rolled my eyes. Even as we destroyed her twin, she was still Rosalie.
"Come on." I held out my arm for her. "I can't stand to look at him much longer."
With a dazzling smile and a cold little laugh, she slipped her arm in mine, and I led her away from the righteous destruction.
The night was still, but the wind picked up with the dawn and the air came off the river icy and cold. It swept through the side streets, blowing leaves and flags and litter and even ash. The little pile of remains no one had noticed swirled up into an eddy, a small whirling tornado of gray before it dissipated into the sky. There was not much left behind on the street other than a small ruby pendant on a silver chain.