He walked away from Maria without a second thought – those came later. He doubted himself and his decision, but never returned. He was almost hypnotised by the life promised to him by Peter and Charlotte, a life of peace and calm, never having to battle or fight, never having to gain another scar on his battered body. So hypnotised, he rose and left without looking back, following Peter blindly into a new world, a world similar to his hazy human memories, and so different to the clear vampire ones. They still only moved at night, hiding in abandoned buildings or caves during the bright southern sunlight, although as they moved further north the sunlight became much less intense and they spent a large amount of their time in forests anyway. They spent their nights running north, stopping only to hunt. He felt happier than he had in ages.
'Jazz?' Charlotte lightly touched his shoulder as she spoke.
His reaction was instantaneous, he leapt up and away from her, over to the other side of the clearing in the middle of the thickly grown forest they were currently in; he instinctively growled softly – a warning. As soon as his brain caught up with his body, he moved again, to sit back down on the log next to her.
'I'm sorry, Charlotte.'
He rested his forehead on one hand. While his brain had begun to relax, to realise that everything Peter had said had been true, no fighting, no war and terror and that smell of burning, his body refused to. His instincts were the same as they had been for the last near-hundred years: something touches you, get out of range, then turn and attack. It was hardest on Charlotte, having spent the least time in the south, his reactions were distressing to her, the fact that she couldn't ever touch his shoulder to get his attention, couldn't approach him without calling out his name first. Peter was wary, knowing of the danger that Charlotte would be in if Jasper didn't realise what was happening quickly enough. Jasper hated the tension and the fear, hated the mistrust and hated himself because, of course, Peter was right to be cautious. He was wild and unpredictable and violent and dangerous.
Charlotte's expression softened from shock and chagrin to caring with just a hint of pity. It didn't make Jasper feel any better.
'That's OK, Jazz. Peter just wanted to say that we're going to hunt now; do you want to join us? And tomorrow will be cloudy so we will be able to travel all day as well, so we should be back home soon.' The excitement in her voice was hard to contain.
'I'm OK, thanks, Charlotte. I hunted yesterday.'
He felt exhausted, exhausted from feeling depressed and from fighting to hide it at all times. It had improved, of course, with Maria he felt like this for up to 6 out of 7 days a week. Now it was down to maybe 2 or 3. When Peter and Charlotte went hunting, or when he went off on his own to hunt or to run was the only time he could let his emotions free. Because of his talent his emotions were projected around him, affecting others unless he was very careful. He supposed to others it was why he always seemed cold and distant.
He thought he was hiding his depression well. It would have continued, apart from Charlotte's insistance that they should all hunt together at least once a week. Because of this he had less time on his own, less time to let his emotions out, of course making his emotions harder to hide. He became even colder and more distant, pushing Charlotte away and shutting her out. Peter didn't try to talk to him, but in his eyes he looked at Jasper with sadness and concern.
He didn't answer, but Peter carried on. 'Jasper, look at me.'
He didn't want to, he found it easier to control himself when he didn't move.
'Jasper, we all hunted yesterday.'
The silence was his unspoken question, so?
'We hunted, and look at you. The same happened last week, and earlier this week when you hunted alone. It's the hunting, Jasper, that's what's doing this to you.'
He looked up then, and Peter flinched at the pain in his eyes. 'And what can I do about that, Pete? We hunt, we kill. It's in our nature, it's who we are, it's what we are.'
'It's different for you, Jasper. Your gift, your talent, whatever you want to call it...'
'Curse?' He offered dryly.
'You can feel them, can't you Jasper? You can feel their pain and fear, and you suffer with them in a way we don't.'
'And? Pete, what can we do about that? It's who I am. It's who I've always been and always will be.' It separates me. The unspoken statement hung between them, and the sudden weight of all Jasper's pain and loneliness suddenly escaped him and hit Peter, who staggered backwards until he caught himself
'I'm sorry, Jasper. Really.' He was, his remorse stronger than even the pain and depression Jasper was feeling. He turned to go, to leave into the forest and find Charlotte.
'I know you are, Pete.'
So he tried to hunt less, to starve himself until he couldn't take it anymore. But after years with Maria, of feeding on more than he needed every single day, his control was very limited. They were in the north now, in Peter and Charlotte's home area, but of course they were still travelling. Everyone travelled around, north or south. They had to plan their routes so carefully to avoid towns and cities during the days when he was starving because he had no control over himself. They didn't like it, he didn't like it either, forcing his friends to follow him and to change their plans around him. They wouldn't complain, they didn't even feel annoyed, but he did. He hated making them change their plans and what they wanted to do, just for him.
He wasn't worth it.
They couldn't see that.
He waited till they were all together, just resting in a clearing in the shade before carrying on. He told them flat out, that he was going to leave because it wasn't fair on them to always have to bend their plans around him.
Charlotte started to protest, but Peter stopped her. He could see in Jasper's eyes there was no chance of changing his mind.
Peter spoke to him once more before he left. 'Jasper... just be careful.'
He snorted. 'Pete, we're vampires. The living dead, immortal, moving rocks. No more. Nothing can hurt us.'
'Jasper, we can hurt ourselves.'
There was a silence before he spoke again.
'Stay in touch, yeah? I promised Charlotte you would. Maybe we'll come see you, in a few years.'
'Sure, Pete. Bye.'
It was different to leaving Maria. That was spontaneous, this was planned. That was going to something, this was leaving it behind. That was pure selfishness, this wasn't. Or at least, this mainly wasn't. As much as he tried to convince himself this was all for Peter and Charlotte, they didn't want to be carting him around, like something they couldn't get rid of, a burden. A small part of it though, was selfish. He was fed up of always trying to hide his depression, of having Charlotte fuss over him like a mother hen, of reading their emotions of nothing but pity. He didn't want that any more, so he left.
He'd never been without others, since his turning. Even when he and Maria weren't speaking, there were others around. Newborns, their names and faces imprinted on his memory, Jack, Charles, Elizabeth, even a Catherine. She had been one of the hardest to destroy when he was ordered to, why? Because she reminded him of his human life, and the lie about his wife.
He didn't like the new loneliness, but dreaded company as well. He took to wandering around the cities when his eyes were dark enough to be unnoticed (but before he was so thirsty he'd snap and kill someone in the middle of the street), just to see other people. Sometimes their emotions unsettled him, but even the many emotions in a city was better than his own depression.
He was in another city, he didn't know the name. He was just walking down the street when it began to rain. No human stood outside in the rain, if out they ran to their destination, so he couldn't stay as he was, drifting along. He looked around him. Shop, shop, apartments, diner, shop, apartments. The diner was his safest option.
He entered the warmth and the shelter, as a small black haired girl got of her stool by the counter to leave. He stepped aside slightly so she could get out the door, wondering if she knew it was raining.
She didn't leave, she stopped in front of him.
'You've kept me waiting a long time.'
'I'm sorry, ma'am.' Instinctive, polite apology, but he knew it was right. It fitted, somehow.
He touched his hat, and expected her to leave.
Instead, she held out her hand.
He didn't stop to think, ignored all the instincts that fought against contact as it led only to violence, ignored his past. He took her hand, and followed her into the rain.
Alice led Jasper out to start their new life together.
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight...
I am so sorry! The computer died and then I was in Wales and then it was this or French homework and geography coursework, and I'm afraid they had to be done first :( forgive me?