First and foremost, I'd like to point out that I'm very far from finished with Emmetts' part of this story. But, I momentarily ran out of ideas, so I decided to just go ahead and write a chapter for Jasper while I was waiting for inspiration. So, if any of you have any ideas for what else I can do for Emmett, or Edward and Jasper for that matter, you know I'm always looking for ideas.
I ran in the direction Edward had pointed me in, sprinting across the ground, dodging the thick trees as fast as I could manage, pushing myself more than I could ever remember doing, only stopping a few times to quickly inhale, trying to catch Jasper's scent, make sure I was still following the right path.
The heavy rain pounded against my body in sheets, but I ignored it completely. I could care about soaked clothes later. He needed me now.
I don't exactly know why I was the one running. Normally it was Alice who took off like a jet after him whenever something like this happened. Even though Alice was out of town right at the moment, on a shopping trip with Esme and Rosalie, I still didn't understand why it was me who fell next in line in responsibility for this. I would have thought Emmett would be the one to volunteer, seeing that his easy nature and warm personality made everyone—even someone like Jasper—feel more comfortable. By far, it was always Emmett who Jasper seemed the most leisurely around.
And yet there I was, running through the darkness, trying to catch up to him before he got too ahead of me.
And in a way, I was worried about how much help I'd really be capable of donating. When I said Jasper was the most leisurely around Emmett, I meant he stood there stiff with wary eyes, his past still refusing to leave room for trust to anyone but Alice. Things got even worse when it was someone else.
And in heavens' name, how was I supposed to know what he'd need from me? He hated being touched by anyone and everyone, so any kind of physical comfort I would have normally offered was immediately out of the question. He didn't like to talk about his feelings, strangely enough for someone with his genre of gift. Actually, he didn't like talking particularly at all, so that wasn't going to do much good. Asking him what he needed, what he wanted me to do, wasn't on my list, either. Every single time I tried going down that route, he'd brush me off with a thank you and as much of a smile as I thought I was ever going to get out of him.
It…unnerved me…to a certain extent, how opposed he was for asking for things. I wanted to help him; that was the Gods' honest truth. Every time I saw the trademark frown he always wore, I wanted to know. Every time I saw him clench his fists in pain when the emotions became too much for him, I wanted to know. Every time I came home from work to see everyone but him sitting together enjoying each others' company while he sat alone somewhere, I wanted to know. Time and time again I wanted to just shout out, "Please, just tell me what you need!" But that wouldn't fare too well. I asked. I asked as much as I could. 'Is there anything you need', 'Is there anything I can do for you', 'If you ever want anything, don't hesitate to ask', 'Do you have anything in particular you want me to get for you when I go out later'. It was always the same response. A response that I happened to know for a fact was a lie. "No thank you sir. I'm fine."
That was another thing. Sir. It was always sir. Always ma'am. Always Dr. Cullen or Mrs. Cullen. Always so formal.
I hated it.
Even on those rare occasions when he was actually out in public, and I introduced him. The yearning was always there. I always wanted so badly to say, "And this is Jasper, my son." But I knew for a fact that he wouldn't cope very well with being called my son. So that was all I said. "This is Jasper." Nothing more. And it was never "This is my father", either. He didn't even go so far as to call me his legal guardian. "This is Dr. Cullen." That was it. Followed by an awkward silence.
And I hated it.
I wanted more than anything to be as close to him as I was to my other children. I wanted to know how to make this transition easier for him. I wanted so, so badly to understand what he needed; wanted for him to tell me what he wanted, what his shallowest and deepest desires were. But he refused to tell me. "I'm fine sir." It was the most I got, and I knew that was a lie. He wasn't 'fine', unless our definitions of the word were dramatically different. He suffered each and every day; I could see it in his eyes. The thing that got under my skin was that he never said anything. He never verbalized the pain he went through—he tried to hide it.
It never changed. After over five years, nothing ever once went off the exact same route. Jasper Whitlock remained a complete mystery to everyone it seemed except Alice. Actually, even Alice knew he was keeping things from her, though what those things were, she was clueless towards.
And so, pacing through the forest trying to find him late at night in the pouring rain, I was completely clueless and absolutely terrified. Fear seemed to pound through my veins with every second that passed. If I didn't catch up to him; if he left, with the intent of never coming back, I didn't know what I'd do. Even after such a short time, it was impossible to imagine our family without Alice and Jasper. Not having one of them there would be just…wrong. And as formal as he was, that never once stopped me from considering him to be my son.
I couldn't lose a son. The idea of never seeing one of my children again was unbearable; one of the most effective torture methods I could think of.
I slowed to a quick walk, careful not to lose his smell, getting a grip on my bearings as I skimmed over the trees. I recognized this place. About fourteen miles from the house. Only a few minutes' run. Still too far for Edward to hear me if I needed his help.
That's when I spotted him.
He was sitting on a boulder next to the river that flowed through our backyard, seemingly oblivious to the harsh rain that was pelting him. His body was slouched over, elbows against his knees, face buried in his hands, normal curls straight against his neck, his bangs dripping with water down onto his face. Even with the almost ten yards that were separating us, I could feel the pain, anger, panic, turmoil, fear, and above all, desperation, from where I was.
I walked slowly forward, just barely restraining myself from running full speed and embracing him, telling him to never scare me like that again.
A leaf crunched under my foot and his head snapped up, my golden gaze meeting the red of his. He jumped up from his spot, backing up slightly, and I raised my hands, slowing my pace, but continued to walk forward. His breathing quickened as I neared, and he looked down to the ground in shame.
"I'm sorry Dr. Cullen," he mumbled quietly, his Texan accent more pronounced than usual, like it always was when he became stressed. "It won't happen again."
I tried not to let him feel the sudden pang of sympathy that rushed to my chest. It didn't take an expert to realize how much he hated it when people pitied him. I was no exception.
I stopped walking a few feet away from him, my hands still lingering in the air. "It's alright." I made my voice as gentle, as understanding as I could manage. "It happens to us all. Lapses are just a part of what we are."
He angrily brought his hand up to the back of his neck and fiercely started rubbing, not bothering to stop the annoyance that suddenly left him. He turned around slightly, as if debating to try and walk away, but then took a step back, seeming lost at what to do next. It was eerily similar to a child in a mall after losing sight of his parents, the only guide and protector in his life stripped away in an unfamiliar place.
"Jasper…" I reached out to comfort him before I remembered who I was dealing with, and he backed quickly away from my hand, and I could tell he had to consciously fight to not sink into a defensive crouch.
I didn't let him feel my sudden hurt, though I was used to this kind of resistance from him by now.
Giving up, I sat on the boulder he was previously at, my patient façade up in place. "Do you want to talk about it?"
I saw him shake his head once.
I tried again. "Edward said it happened when you were out hunting." I tried to show him I wasn't mad, just worried about him. "Jasper, I could have never expected you to not attack. Everyone else in the family would have done the same." He seemed to brush off my words, and I made my voice a bit harder. "You were hunting. Your instincts were already in control. It wasn't your decision, it was your body. Don't blame yourself for that."
He just stared at the ground, clearly not agreeing with me. This time I couldn't quite fully block the sympathy I felt; out of all of us, he tried the hardest, put in the most effort, and still ended up with the most pain.
Standing up, but not approaching him in fear he'd back away, I tried to make my voice as resolute as possible. "Let's get you home. You're completely soaked."
And that was the truth. His clothes clung to his body, easily defining his muscles, as his hair continued to drip down over his eyes, the blood from the incident earlier on remaining stained to his form.
He shook his head again, but didn't look up at me.
I crossed my arms. "Jasper, if you really think I'm leaving without you, then I highly suggest you reevaluate your plans. I came out here to find you and bring you back, and I don't intend on not following through with that."
He didn't answer. Didn't even shake his head this time.
My voice softened. "Do you need to hunt?" Although the understanding tone was quiet, I knew he could hear it through the rain that was picking up. "It can help, when our thoughts are getting the best of us, to allow instinct to take over for a while."
Sighing, I was about to take a step towards him, but once again reminded myself this was Jasper I was working with. "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it? I know you probably don't think it would help, but it usually does."
"No thank you sir."
Carefully keeping my patience in check, I tried once more. "We should head back."
He didn't move.
"Come on. We'll get you into the shower. The warmth will feel good. Some dry clothes."
He remained set in stone. "You go ahead."
"Apparently I didn't make it clear," I started softly. "That I'm not going anywhere without you." Using the one thing I could only think of having a chance to work, I went out on a limb. "Alice would want you to come home."
He shrugged, though couldn't quite fully hide the flash of pain in his eyes. "She'd live."
"You can't be serious. You're not honestly planning on leaving, are you?" He looked down further to the ground, blocking his face from my sight, as the fear that I wouldn't be able to stop him once again came crashing down on me. "Do you really believe I'm just about to leave you here alone?" My tone was incredulous, unable to comprehend he could think that, though the next words out of my mouth were soft, spoken mostly to myself. "You really don't understand how afraid I was, I still am, do you? How scary the idea of you leaving is to me. That you were okay."
My stomach filled with shame, though I knew it didn't belong to me, before he quickly realized what was happening. "I'm sorry sir."
Roughly rubbing a hand over my face, I struggled to keep my cool with his unresponsive attitude. "I don't want your apologies. As I said before, I just want you to come home. I just want to know that you're alright."
He nodded, though still refused to meet my gaze. "Yeah. Yeah I'm fine."
I watched him carefully, struggling once more to keep the pity at its minimum, though the sound of his broken voice made it hard to do. "Then why do I get the feeling that you're not?"
"Jasper, please, just tell me what you need," I practically begged, unconsciously taking a step forward.
He took a step back.
"You clearly don't want to go back to the house. Fine then, we don't have to. But I don't know what you need unless you tell me."
"Don't need anything." His voice, even to me, was nearly inaudible as the rain continued to pound against the mud and leaves of the forest floor.
I stared at him for a long moment, silently praying to God that He'd help me see how to deal with this boy. Have Him give me some small parcel of an idea as to what my next action was supposed to be. I knew the rest of my family. I knew how to comfort them in a situation like this, somewhat because they actually told me. I was clueless when it came to Jasper. I was clueless as to how to make his life easier, more bearable. Leave him alone? Just let him leave, walk out on the life he had begun to create with us? That was clearly what he wanted. Unfortunately that was also one of the only things I wasn't capable of doing.
And so I gambled with words. "I find that hard to believe, considering you're out here, completely drenched, looking absolutely miserable, instead of being at home where you should be, happy and content."
His fists and jaw clenched simultaneously. "I'm fine."
One more step forward.
One more step back.
"Just need to leave," he whispered. "Need to go somewhere where I can't disappoint Alice. Don't deserve to stay here with her, with any of you, when I can't even go out of the house alone without committing murder."
"Jasper," I sighed, but was interrupted.
"Why're you out here?"
I stared at him once more, though still couldn't see the expression hidden behind the bangs. "Haven't we already gone through this?" The confusion was palpable in my voice.
He shrugged. "Explained you were out here to bring me back." He looked up slightly, meeting my gaze for a millisecond before looking back down. "Why?"
My eyes narrowed as I continued staring, my uncertainty growing. "Because, Jasper. You know why. I don't want you to leave."
"What would it matter to you if I left?"
Those words made my thoughts snap to one thing. "You really don't get it, do you?" He looked up, startled, sensing my shock. "You really don't grasp how much I care about you." It came out murmured, a statement opposed to the question I had intended it to be, though all he could do was watch on, looking very much like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Sorry." He said quietly, no doubt doing a take back at the sudden pang of hurt I didn't get the chance to stop. "Just don't understand why you ain't mad, is all. Don't understand why you'd want me back after…" His voice faded out, covered by a sudden whiplash of wind, unknowing how to vocalize what exactly had happened before. After a few seconds of impenetrable silence, he looked down again, guilty. "Sorry."
"Jasper," I started, more sternly this time, making him once again make eye contact. "I don't want your apologies." Each word was ground out, making a hopefully lasting impression.
"But I ruined it," he mumbled slowly. "You're going to have to move because of me."
I shrugged. "You really think that matters?" Taking another step, I felt a surge of relief pass through me when he didn't back away this time. "You really think that something as trivial and unimportant as going to a new town is really going to make me mad at you?"
"I should've been stronger—"
"You were hunting," I restated boldly, no hesitation in my voice. "Even the best of us can easily mess up when we're hunting."
He dismissed the piece of information as if it were the most random, worthless fact I could have come up with. "I killed someone." His expression turned numb, completely void. "I killed someone. Why aren't you upset about that?"
I planned my answer carefully before I said anything. "It's a gruesome, yet sometimes inevitable part of what we are, as I've said before. In the end it doesn't really matter how many times we end up slipping, as long as we put the effort into it; into avoiding unpleasant incidences as much as we possibly can."
The words didn't seem to do much help for him. "I killed someone," he repeated, his voice completely blank.
All I could do was nod slowly. "Yes," I began hesitantly. "I know. But that doesn't matter."
"Probably had a wife. A family. And I—" His voice broke off, his expression completely helpless, and the rain streaming down his cheeks made a perfectly good replacement for the tears that should have been there.
"Tell me what you need me to do." It was practically a wail, my desperation to soothe his pain gnawing away at me.
He just shook his head. "Nothing. I'm fine."
And that's when it snapped.
The frustration that had been building up around those two sentences that had time and time again been told to me in lies let loose in one single growl. "Do not tell me that you are fine."
His expression turned into one of astonishment at the aggression in my voice. He quickly backpedaled, trying again. "But I am—"
"No, you are not." My tone rose, not willing to be drowned out by the storm. "I am sick, and tired of hearing that, time and time again." I took a step forward, though he was rooted in place by his shock. "One time, just one time, I want the truth. I don't want to hear 'I'm fine' anymore, and I don't want to hear 'I don't need anything', when you're clearly not and do!"
He just stared at me, wide eyed, seemingly unable to form any kind of response. At his utterly lost look, I felt momentarily bad for putting him into this position, though even I couldn't deny the relief at saying those words to him after years of wanting to. "For Gods' sake, just tell me what you need," I whispered.
He continued staring at me.
I was about to try again, when for the first time since I had met him, I got the truth.
"Punish me," he said, his normally quiet but strong voice breaking into a pitiful excuse for weak. "Hit me, beat me, starve me; tell me I'm not allowed to hunt for the next two months." His completely distraught eyes pleaded with mine. "Something."
My answer was short and simple. "No." I made a move to step towards him, raising my hand to grip his shoulder, something that would have normally comforted any other member of my family. He flinched, though didn't back away. It suddenly dawned on me that he thought I was going to slap him, and I quickly dropped my hand, resuming my old spot a few paces back. "Jasper," I began slowly, unsure. "I'm not Maria."
He looked back down, visibly disappointed. Even more obviously embarrassed.
I forced myself to stay in place, to not move towards him once more. "Jasper," I sighed, starting again. "I don't know everything she put you through, every torture she thought was a suitable punishment for things you didn't do…but it's not going to happen here." I licked my lips, watching him closely. "From what Alice has told me about her, we have very different ideas of how to lead a coven."
He dug his foot into the mud, trying to distract himself, but didn't say anything.
"Look," I began softly. "I'm sorry for what she did to you. I'm sorry for what you were forced to put up with. I'm sorry that she made it seem like that was the only way you could live your life." I gave one quick, humorless chuckle. "But we're not all like that." One more step closer to him. "Jasper, let me give you a new chance. If not for yourself then for me; let me have the opportunity to show you it's different here. Let me show you things have changed." I looked down. "Let me show you that you don't have to be afraid of me, like you were of her."
He didn't move. Just stood there, staring at the ground, still oblivious to the downpour. Finally he looked back up, pain written plainly on his face. "Dr. Cullen…" he hesitated. I didn't give him the chance to finish.
"No." My voice was strong, leaving no room for argument. "Why do you always do this?" He stared at me, his gaze one of confusion. "I'm closer to some of my patients than I am to you. Do you have any idea—" I cut myself off, momentarily unable to continue. "Do you have any idea how much that hurts?" He looked back down, uncomfortable. "I want to be closer to you Jasper, I want to understand you, but you're always—" My voice dropped to an almost whisper. "You're always pushing me away." It rose in anger once more. "It's always Dr. Cullen, Mr. Cullen, sir. Am I really that daunting to you, that intimidating, that you can't even call me by my first name?"
Running a hand through his hair, he glanced up at me, looking unsure of whether or not to say anything. "I'm sorry, but—"
"No," I interrupted. "I'm sorry." Holding his gaze firmly, I took one more step forward, silently daring him to move back. "I'm sorry for everything you've been forced to live through. I'm sorry that you grew up in war, that you were pushed down the wrong path by no fault of your own, that the past century of your life was completely thrown away at the hands of someone who couldn't have cared less about yourwell being." One more step forward. "But I'm not her." My brow furrowed. "I'm not about to let you walk out of here without putting up a fight. Whether you feel it or not, you belong here. You're a part of this family now. Families don't ban people when they make mistakes."
He looked down, a shadow crossing his face, which was beginning to somehow look paler than ever. "I know you wouldn't 'ban' me, but that doesn't make it impossible for me to leave myself, of my own accord. I just—" His gaze flashed back up, silently begging me to understand. "I don't deserve to stay here."
I looked at him in disbelief. "Jasper, this is ridiculous. Will you please just forgive yourself like the rest of us already have, and come back with me?"
He didn't move. "If you're worried what would happen to me if I left, well then don't be. I can take care of myself," he said quietly, his bright red orbs trying to show confidence, though that was hardly what I saw.
"Forgive me Jasper, but I really don't think that you can." His perfect face was beginning to look nauseous as the conversation carried on. "I know you think that you've got everything sorted out; that because you somehow managed to survive in the south for so long that you know what you're doing." A grim smile worked its' way onto my face, and I shook my head. "But you don't." Shrugging, I watched him carefully. "The fact of the matter is, you're not as old, as mature as you think you are. You're hardly more than a teenager. How long had you been twenty before you were changed? A month?" One more small step. "A week? You'll never even begin to comprehend how sorry I am about the things you were made to experience; the things nobody should ever have to experience; not even in dreams." One more chuckle. "But as much as you think that makes you mature, it doesn't. Just because you lived for so long without certain things, doesn't mean you don't still need them."
All he could do was stare at me, blinking rapidly, not fully comprehending what I was saying.
"You need someone to talk to; someone to let your guard down around once in a while. Someone to protect you. Someone to be there for you and stop you when you get an idea as stupid as leaving the people who love you most." I paused, relishing the words that I had wanted to leave my lips since the first time I had heard his story. "For Gods' sake, you need a father."
His stunned expression spoke every word that couldn't be said, his chest heaving heavily, trying to get more useless oxygen into his lungs as he looked on in silence.
Raising my hand, I pointed in the direction of the house, quickly composing a stern and unyielding face. "Now," I began, my voice too firm to be ignored, my teeth grinding together. "We are going to go home. You are going to get dried off and put on some decent clothes. Then the two of us are going to sit down, and have a very long discussion on how idiotic the notion of you leaving really is. Do I make myself clear?"
"Do I make myself clear young man?"
Slowly, he broke himself out of shock, nodding slowly, though the completely astonished look remained. "Okay," he whispered. "Alright Carlisle."
Yeah, I know, the ending was kind of rushed. My apologies. But in my defense I'm sick right now, and probably delusional, so…
Please review and let me know if this story's worth continuing!