I watched Jasper when he first joined our family. He worried me, and I kept a cautious eye on him.
It wasn't that I feared he might harm our family. I knew he was dangerous, his scars alone were proof enough of that. I could see he was a fighter, someone unused to peace. I could see it in the way he watched our every move, took note of almost every little detail. He had scoped out every possible exit or entrance within seconds of entering our home. He had sized every last one of us up, correctly labeling Edward and Emmett as the two most likely to attack. He had tensed, positioned so that he could intercept any one of us easily should the need arise. He hadn't even realized he was doing it.
But that didn't worry me. It had only taken me a couple of days to realize he would not purposely do anything to harm us. He was here with us for one reason only; Alice. She had brought him with her, and had found us. We had been her family even before we had actually met her. And for that reason, Jasper would not act against us. Because it was what Alice wanted.
Nor was I overly concerned that he might unintentionally harm us. True, he was nervous and tense, but he rarely strayed far from Alice's side, rarely spoke. He didn't interact much with the rest of us, in fact seemed content to disregard us entirely, and the rest of the family reciprocated the action, so I had little fear of some disagreement rising and him losing his temper before he realized our family was not given to violence. Alice seemed to try to keep him away from situations in the household that might cause him stress anyway.
What worried me was something else entirely. Something I had always kept in eye out for in the rest of my family, especially Rosalie, who had been so unhappy with our way of life, and Edward, who was so alone at times. Something I had mercifully not seen in them, but recognized the signs in Jasper the more I saw of him.
I didn't know what he had been or done before he had met Alice, but I could see that it caused him pain. Self-loathing, well hidden, was buried deep in him, gnawing at him. We all disliked what we were, what we had to do to survive, but this was something else. Something stronger, something that caused him to seek out my company rather than be left alone with his thoughts.
Depression, too, seemed to plague him, at least, on the rare occasions Alice was not with him. I had seen it in his eyes one night when Alice had gone hunting with Esme and Rosalie. Darkness, misery, despair. An agony that Alice's presence kept at bay, but that would threaten to consume him if given the chance.
There were at least a dozen other signs, little things that could mean something else entirely or even nothing at all, but worried me none the less. And so I kept an eye out for Jasper, watching to make sure he didn't get worse.
He didn't; in fact, he seemed to do better as time went by. He relaxed, and started socializing with the family, though he still didn't talk much. And he seemed better able to function without her always near. And maybe I had been mistaken, had been reading signs that weren't actually there.
I was glad to be wrong, truly I was. I knew that road, and hoped fervently that my family could avoid it. There was pain there, and suffering that left its mark. Jasper wasn't the only one with scars.
Six months after he had moved in I was sorry to discover that I had been right the first time, or at least, had been partially so.
A shriek from the living room had split the peace in the house. A door slammed, then another, and Edward was shouting.
"Carlisle, we have a problem!" My children had a tendency to understate the urgency of a situation with that phrase, and it alarmed me. I was down in the living room in seconds.
Edward held Alice in his arms, trying to comfort her. She looked devasted, panicked. Lost. "What is it?" I asked.
"Jasper slipped up again." Edward spoke quickly. "He's going to do something stupid." My worst fears had been confirmed, then, though Edward hadn't realized before what Jasper had been going to do. His eyes widened, a look of horror clouding his features.
"Where is he?" I asked. There was little time to spare.
"He's headed for the river." Edward nodded towards the back door. "Came in and went right back out."
Alice was shaking, nearly hysterical. "I'll stop him." I promised her as I darted out the back door and after Jasper.
"Be careful." Edward called after me.
I raced to the river, praying I wasn't too late, praying I would know the right words to say, the right actions to take. I found him, standing on the bank, staring at the house.
He stared at me, something clutched in his hand. A snarl emerged from his chest. "Get away." He told me flatly.
I stopped, hands spread wide in submission. "I just want to talk." I said.
He laughed, a short, barking laugh that held no humor. "I've heard that before." He said.
"Honest." I said. "That's all. No one else is with me, and I won't come any closer if you'll just talk to me."
He shook his head, a strange glint in his red eyes. He had killed another human, I realized. Was that what had brought this on? He toyed with the object in his hand, and I realized what it was.
He had figured it out. He knew exactly what he was doing. "Jasper, don't." I said desperately. His eyes locked on to mine, eyes filled with misery and anger and self-hatred, and pulled a match from the book. He struck the match and it lit, giving off a small light. Then he lowered it towards his wrist.
I didn't think, I didn't stop to reason anything out. I lunged at him, and slammed into him hard. I felt the heat against my skin as we fell, then the wetness of the river as we both landed with a splash.
We surfaced, and he let out an inhuman scream as he lunged at me. I didn't struggle, and didn't try to fight him as his hand found my throat and dragged me out of the river and held me pinned against a tree. I merely met his gaze, half-crazed as it was, and hoped we would both survive this, or at least that he would.
He moved as if to strike, then froze, staring at me, a puzzled expression on his face. We stayed like that, as if frozen in time, staring at each other. "Why don't you defend yourself?" He finally snarled, dropping me.
I straightened. "I came to stop you, not to kill you."
He frowned. "What business is it of yours?" He demanded.
"It affects my family." I replied calmly.
"I'm not in your family."
"Alice is." He flinched. He knew what his death would have done to her.
"I thought you said you wouldn't come any closer." He replied dully.
"If you would talk to me." I reminded him.
To my surprise, he sat down cross-legged. "So let's talk." He said acidly. I followed his example, taking a seat on the ground. He lifted his eyes to meet mine, his gaze steely. He swallowed; this was the only sign that he was nervous.
"What do you want me to say, Carlisle?" There was a sneer as he spoke my name. "Should I spill my guts, tell you everything? Should I tell you that I can feel the emotions of the humans as I kill them? That I can feel their fear, their terror, their anger, bitterness? Their regret, their sorrow? That I can remember the emotions of every human I've ever killed, from the first to the most recent? Should I tell you that my existence before I met Alice was a living hell? Should I go into all that?
"Or should I stick with Rosalie and her constant fury, her constant resentment? Or her sorrow, her pain? Her bitterness over how her life has turned out? Or maybe how Esme feels, at night, alone, when you're at work and she remembers her lost little boy? Or how every time I turn around I hurt Alice a little more through my own stupidity. How I had forgotten, before Alice, what it was to be happy myself, rather than to absorb it from someone else.
"Or maybe you'd rather hear about how I failed today, how I knew I shouldn't get any closer but did anyway, how I knew what would happen and still went after her. Bit her, Killed her."
He stared at me, his eyes unfocused, tortured. "I can't do this anymore, Carlisle. I know you mean well, I know it'll cause her pain. I know it'll hurt you too, and Esme. But I'm tired of all this." His eyes dropped to the ground. "I don't expect you to understand." He said bitterly.
"I understand." I told him. His head jerked up, and his eyes flashed defiantly. I held up a hand to stop him. "I understand the feeling that suicide is the only option." I explained, and saw his confusion. "It never occurred to me to try burning myself, though." I said thoughtfully. "I tried to starve myself. That only worked as long as there was nothing nearby to feed on." He was watching me with wide eyes, entranced.
I continued. "I tried stabbing myself, shooting myself, throwing myself off a cliff. None of that left even a mark. I even tried drowning myself before I realized I didn't actually need to breathe." I chuckled softly at that, though it wasn't really funny, as I raised my hands and began unbuttoning my shirt. "Eventually I tried something else." I said as I revealed the scars on my chest, not all of which were from the one who had changed me.
He stared in silent fascination, and moved closer, forgetting himself. He studied the scars, and I resisted the urge to flinch as his hand shot out and he began tracing them, starting with the ones afflicted by my creator, he who had bitten me. It seemed sacrilegious to think of him as my creator.
He finished them, and began tracing the more recent scars, his brow furrowed. "These are self inflicted." He marveled, looking up to meet my eyes. I nodded. "What happened? I mean, you…" He trailed off uncertainly.
"I couldn't keep it up." I said. "It weakened me enough to render me incapable of finishing the job, but not enough to kill me."
"I bit myself once." He said softly. "I don't know if I could have done that."
"Why?" I asked. Had he tried something like this before?
He shrugged. "Because someone told me to. To see if I would do it." He didn't offer to explain further.
We were getting off subject. I tried to steer the conversation back in the direction it should go. "I'm glad it didn't work, Jasper. I found love, and a family. I came to accept what had happened to me."
"How?" He asked desperately, his voice a harsh whisper.
"I decided that it didn't matter what I was. Or what I had done in the past. That no matter how hard it was, I would fight to be the kind of person I wanted to be."
"What if you can't be that person?" He asked slowly, reluctantly.
"Nobody is exactly the kind of person they want to be, Jasper." I told him kindly. "But that doesn't mean you can't come close, or that you should give up."
"I'll never be anything more than a monster." He said, and the certainty in his voice pierced my heart.
"You aren't a monster, Jasper." I said firmly. "I can see that." He didn't speak, and so I continued. "For one thing, no monster is capable of loving someone as strongly, as purely, and unselfishly as you love Alice. For another, a monster wouldn't care about the suffering of others. But it hurts you, Jasper, to feel the pain of others." He wasn't convinced. How could I get him to see the truth? That he wasn't some vile creature, that he was a person, just like the rest of us, hardly perfect, but trying anyway? Something he had said before came back to me, and I knew what to say.
"A monster wouldn't have bothered to know that my wife mourns for her lost son, and a monster wouldn't have put aside his own problems to try to comfort her. Someone who was a monster wouldn't care."
He frowned at me. "You know about that?" He asked.
"I know you helped my wife when I wasn't there for her." I replied.
"You were at work." He said, not even realizing he was trying to ease the guilt I felt for not being there.
"I wasn't with her." I said gently. "And you were. And for that I thank you."
He sat before me, suddenly awkward, suddenly uncomfortable. Then he sighed. "It isn't the first time, you know." He said. I nodded. "I tried to keep these thoughts away, tried to remind myself that things were getting better. And I try to keep going, and things are getting better. And then something happens, and-" He broke off, and took a ragged breath. "Sometimes it just seems so overwhelming."
"I know." I said. "But you don't have to face it alone, Jasper. I'll help any way I can." He looked away, uncomfortable with the idea. I cleared my throat, bringing his attention back to me. "Talk to Alice, then." I told him. "Let her help you. Trust her, rely on her. Use her strength."
He nodded slowly, uncertainly, licking his lips nervously. "I will." He said, standing. I stood as well. "Thank you." He said, almost shyly, and slipped off towards the house as if nothing had happened.
But Alice was fine by the time I returned, the two of them slipping out the other door. Edward smiled reassuringly before excusing himself and leaving me with Esme, who had come home while I was out.
"You told him?" She asked, taking in as much with a quick glance at my shirt. I had only partially buttoned it as I headed back to the house, and only enough to cover the scars I had inflicted on myself.
I nodded. "I did. I think it helped."
She smiled, and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Alice seemed to think so." She told me. "She was just calming down as I got home."
"Then you know-"
"What caused her to act that way, yes." She finished for me. She leaned her body into mine, and kissed me. "Thank you." She said.
"For what?" I asked, holding her in my embrace.
"For everything." She replied. "From loving me right down to what you did tonight." She kissed me again, more passionately this time, and I had to remind myself that we were in the living room.
I took her hand, and led her upstairs to our room.
Disclaimer: As always, the Twilight Saga and all involved belongeth not to me.