A/N: This is the journey of Jasper Whitlock. This is not a fluffy journey, but will be worth it in the end. This story is rated M for a reason, as there will be violence, sex, blood, vamp sex, bloodlust vamp sex, and a whole host of other mature shit. If you're not 18, you shouldn't be reading this. This means you, and you over there.
Many thanks to the Furious 5 who read the outline and first word vomit and told me it didn't suck.
Big kisses to Lolashoes, who encouraged me and flogged my dragging ass into gear, saving this chapter from the fire too many times to count. You did 11pm beta duties and special WC challenges. Get the Vegas tickets girl, I'll iron my dress.
Lastly, but most assuredly not least, to Mskathy. You gave this adoring stranger the opportunity to step off the sidelines and join in the fun of fanfiction by checking your grammar. I would not be doing this today had you not taken the chance, and I am forever grateful.
I don't own 'em, not at all.
"Jasper, it's almost time, honey," my mother's voice called from downstairs.
"OK, Mama, I'll be down shortly. I'm almost ready."
"Don't dally now, Jasper, today is an important day you know," she scolded. "The guests will start arrivin' in an hour and I need you down here to greet them."
"Yes, Mama. I'll be down directly." I turned back to the full length mirror in my bedroom, glancing over my appearance again. I smoothed my hair, the same color has her hair, and straightened my tie and jacket. I closed my eyes and allowed the feeling of dread to take over for just this moment, this one small window of solitude before I had to be the strong son to my mother and give my sister away to another man. I had the briefest of moments to reflect upon my past 17 years of life and happiness, before it would be forever changed.
My twin sister Olivia and I were born on the hottest day on record in August of 1843, on our cattle ranch near the town of Laredo, Texas. My mother, Elva, was a strong-willed woman with honey-blonde hair and flint grey eyes that she passed on to my sister and I. My father, Clarence, was a ranch man, tall and lean but muscular. He was of a quiet nature; pensive and intelligent. Daddy had a way of making people around him feel calm and peaceful. He was a fair and ethical man for the times, and though the needs of the ranch kept him away for long periods of time, he loved our Mama and us fiercely.
Our family was one of the few who didn't keep slaves for work. We lived close to the border of Mexico and Daddy and Mama became close with some of the natives when they first struck the land. Instead of fighting with the locals like most of the homesteaders, Daddy made friends with the menfolk there. His gentle demeanor and easy-going nature made it easy for them to like him. There were several families who lived close to their homestead, and before long they included Mama and Daddy into their extended family and helped Daddy start up the ranch. These families became our ranch hand families, the men helping Daddy with the cattle and the women helping Mama with the household. Livvie and I grew up surrounded by the rich culture of Mexico, cared for by the women of the ranch hands.
Livvie and I were very close. From the time we were born, we shared a special bond. It almost felt like we shared the same mind sometimes, almost as if we were 2 parts of the same person. Mama told us that we didn't speak with words until we were about 4 years old, preferring only the company of each other and our silent twin language. We refused to be separated; we slept together in the same bed, foreheads touching and hands clasped together every night. Daddy never minded, but Mama finally put her foot down when we were 6.
I was outside helping feed the cattle that day. The spring alfalfa smelled sweet and lush, the hot sun releasing the perfume into the air. The cattle had been to pasture all morning until Daddy and some of the men rounded them up and drove them home for the night. I had held the gate open for them to stampede through, taking my small job seriously.
"That's good, Son. Real good job." Daddy's eyes sparkled with pride, his smile gleaming down upon me. "Keep that gate open 'til they're all inside."
"Yes, sir!" I shouted, trying to make my small voice be heard over the lowing cattle.
Daddy ruffled my hair and helped me to close the gate. He placed his large hand upon my shoulder as we walked to the wheelbarrow full of hay.
I laughed as Daddy swung me up and tossed me on top of the pile of feed, giving me a short ride back to the corral to begin feeding.
"Jasper," he started hesitantly. I turned my attention to him. He wiped his face with his hankerchief, and placed it back into his pocket.
"Your Mama and I think it's time you and Olivia slept in your own rooms. You're gettin' too big to be carryin' on like babies, so tonight you are going to sleep in the room down the hall, and Livvie will stay in her room, do you understand?" His face was soft, but impassive.
I felt stunned, like someone had slapped me. Daddy kept staring at me, and I couldn't look away. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe. They're taking her away from me. They can't take her away from me.
"Jasper? Jasper, do you understand me, boy?" I heard Daddy from far away. My ears were ringing, my breath coming in shallow gasps now. I hadn't spent a night away from Olivia, not since the day we were born.
Terror flooded my veins, causing me to panic and run back towards the barn. I had to get away....
"Jasper? Jasper!!" Daddy screamed after me, but I didn't stop running until I made it to the safety of the barn. Once I got there, I collapsed on the floor and let all the anguish I was feeling out in a wild torrent.
"NO!NONONONONONONO!!!!!!!!" I screamed until I ran out of breath, my hands gripped into my hair on either side of my head. I cried and cried, unable to comprehend the decision that Mama had made. I staggered back to the barn door, collapsing onto my knees and retching into the dirt.
Daddy caught up with me then, kneeling down on the barn floor and gathering me up into his arms.
"Son, you need to stop now," he said, hugging me tightly ,his words firm. "You're gettin' too old to sleep with your sister. I know you are upset, but I need you to be a man about this. Especially for Livvie."
I was torn. I felt as if part of me was being ripped apart at just the thought of sleeping alone. The other part wanted to be strong and do what Mama and Daddy said was best for Livvie. I sat motionless for a moment, waging war between my mind and my heart.
My loyalty to Livvie and my need to make Mama and Daddy proud won out. I swiped a dirty hand across my eyes and set my mouth in a firm line, willing my voice not betray my heartbreak. "Yes, sir," I responded, and began to walk toward the house with a heavy heart.
When it was time for bed, I went to my room and changed into my nightclothes, the horror of what was to come slowly creeping up on me. I joined Mama, Daddy and Olivia in the family room to say our nightly prayers. I prayed that God would give me the strength not to cry, not to be afraid, even though it felt like my world was breaking apart. I prayed for him to keep Livvie safe at night, to keep the wind from frightening her. Livvie was scared of the dark and frightened of the sound of the wind through the trees. I would hold her hands and sing to her in our secret language to keep her fear at bay. I prayed for him to make my anguish worth it, because it was what Mama and Daddy said was best for her. I felt my small heart crack and I had to dig my fingernails into the backs of my clasped hands to keep from crying again.
Livvie kept nudging me all through our prayers, trying to get me to look at her. I couldn't look at her, knowing what was coming.
Mama and Daddy walked us down the hall towards the bedrooms. Livvie bounded into her room and jumped into the bed, the same as she did every night. She cozied into her side of the bed and looked to me, eyes bright and happy. "Aren't you coming to bed now, Jasper?" she asked in her tiny bird voice.
I looked to the floor, unable to form the words to answer her. Mama stepped in front of me then. "No, Olivia," she responded. "You are too big to be sleepin' with your brother. Jasper will be sleepin' in his own room from now on. It's time you both grew up a little." Her voice rang with finality.
Livvie's face went slack with shock. I waited for her screaming, her tears, but they didn't come. I raised my eyes to look at her, and I saw her face......change. Her face went from shock to....nothing. I was looking at Livvie, and she just wasn't there anymore. My pulse started to race, my mouth went dry.
Livvie took one long look at me, then laid her head down on her pillow. Not moving, not speaking. It was as if she just shut herself down. I ran down to my room, closing myself inside and surrendering to the burning pain I felt inside.
We lasted 2 days. Livvie remained motionless and catatonic in her room. She refused meals and refused to speak to Mama and Daddy. I raged and vented my pain and anger inside my room, crying and screaming my anguish until finally, Mama and Daddy couldn't take it anymore. They allowed us to reunite in the same room, however we had to sleep in separate beds. Livvie and I clung to each other for the rest of that day, refusing to be parted. Daddy moved my bed into Livvie's larger bedroom, and we slept the first night with our hands joined and our bodies in our own beds.
Olivia was my best friend and confidant, and besides Mama and Daddy the only person I felt emotionally bonded to. I was a sensitive child; hyperaware of my own emotions internally and to of the feelings of people around me. I had an inkling when someone felt happy, or sad, or angry. I knew what to do to make Mama smile if she seemed down. I knew to keep quiet if it felt like Daddy was angry. I couldn't tell you how I knew these things, it was something intangible. It was strongest with Livvie, and sometimes I think I could make her feel things, just from concentrating hard enough. Because I was so emotionally volatile, I sometimes couldn't quell the feelings inside me and I would become upset, fearful, angry. Olivia was the only person who could make everything inside me be still, just by touching my hand.
Mama taught us our lessons at home until we were about 6 or 7 and then Livvie and I went to school with the local children in Laredo. Mama and Daddy were both well educated people and it was important to them that their children be educated as well. My after-school time was spent working with the men on the ranch and playing with Livvie and the ranch hand kids. It was the men of the ranch that taught me work ethic and pride, the ways of ranching and other skills necessary for men.
When I was 9 years old, I came home from school with a black eye and a split lip. Mama surveyed me, and then looked at Livvie's dirt- and tear-streaked face.
"Jasper Whitlock, what happened here?" she asked tersely. I looked away, ashamed of the truth. I couldn't meet her eye as she glared at me.
Livvie came to my aid, like she always did. "Jasper was defendin' me, Mama," she said in a small voice. "Some boys were pickin' on me and pullin' my hair at school. Jasper came up and told them to leave me alone, said that was not the way to treat a lady," she spoke a little louder then, her eyes flitting to me in silent adoration.
"Those boys said I wasn't a lady and they could pull my hair if they wanted to. Jasper got angry and hit one of the boys, and then they all jumped on him," she finished, trying to keep her tears at bay. Olivia was ashamed that she didn't help me, but there was no way I would let those boys lay another finger on her.
Mama listened intently to Livvie's story, but kept her gaze fixed upon me the whole time. Her face was stone; immobile, flinty and hard.
"Thank you, Livvie," Mama said, drawing herself up and squaring her shoulders. "Put your books down and go help Inez in the kitchen, please," she said, still not looking away from my face. I kept my eyes trained on the floor, too ashamed to look up at her.
"Please, Mama, don't punish him...." Livvie began, before Mama cut her off sharply.
"Olivia, do as I say!" she said, nodding her head sharply towards the kitchen and casting her fiery gaze upon my sister briefly before returning it to me.
"Yes, Mama," Livvie said, turning abruptly and racing into the kitchen, dropping her books on the table on her way. I could hear her sobbing all the way down the hall. Olivia could not bear to see me punished for anything. She always tried to take the blame upon herself and spare me the rod, but I never let her. I would do anything to keep her safe; I would walk through fire if it meant she wouldn't be hurt.
Mama continued to keep her silent stare upon me for a few moments. I could feel her eyes boring into me, but I still couldn't look at her. My shame and sorrow at my failure was too much. Finally, she heaved a heavy sigh. "Jasper, look at me." Her voice was soft but commanding.
I finally lifted my eyes from the floor and met her gray ones. Instead of the raging anger I expected to see, Mama's face was conflicting swirl of pride and sorrow.
"Son," she began softly. "I am more proud of you than I can express. Your Daddy and I raised you to understand how women should be treated and you showed me today that you've been listenin' all this time. I'm sorry he's not here to help you learn how to stand up for yourself. Fighting is a man's business," she said, a sad look passing over her face. "This is something you're going to have to work out on your own. Now go wash up and get ready for your supper." She turned and walked back into the kitchen, but not before she gave me the most pointed and peculiar look.
I went into the washroom to clean up my face and wash my hands before supper. After drying my face on a towel, I looked into the mirror to survey the damage done. My eyes sharpened with a small wave of pride. For fighting with three boys at the same time, my face didn't look too bad. My lip was cut in a couple of places, and my eye was bruised and starting to swell. There was a dark patch spreading under my right jaw and my hair was disheveled and dirty.
I looked at my hands next, the hands that had seemed so strong before but now felt weak and helpless after my scuffle. The knuckles on my left hand were cut and scraped in places, but overall seemed intact. This made me feel weak, powerless. Had my hands held more damage, I could have confidently felt that I fought to the best of my ability, that I was able to teach those boys a lesson. Instead, the lack of damage to my prominent hand showed my inability to defend myself as a man, and my inability to keep my sister safe.
Livvie and I ate supper separately from Mama and Daddy. All the children from the ranch were fed together in the kitchen, seated at a long wooden table. Mama and Daddy took their supper in the formal dining room. We were not allowed in there, not until we were older and started entertaining company of our own. As I passed the dining room, I was struck again by how helpless I felt, how much like a child. Those boys were my age, yet they seemed more worldly, less infantile. I felt the shame and anger wash over me again as I continued down the hall.
I shuffled into the kitchen and took my place at the table. Livvie sat in her place on my right, sniffling and hiccuping. I turned to face her as she simultaneously turned and faced me. We leaned forward, letting our foreheads touch in silent comfort. This was our own way of sharing our love for each other, to give comfort to one another, to give each other strength. It is something we developed when we were very young and never gave up.
Inez carried our dinner to the table then, setting our plates in front of us. The other children came in to join us, putting an end to our private moment.
"Did Mama punish you, Jasper?" Olivia asked me quietly. I knew her tears were from her fear of me being punished and she was trying not to let on that she had been crying.
"Naw, Livvie," I reassured her. "Mama didn't punish me. Everything is fine."
"Thank you for helping me today, I was scared of those boys," she replied. I covered her hand with my own on top of the table.
"I'll always help you Livvie." She gave me a sweet smile and squeezed my hand in response.
We said our grace and began to eat our supper, laughing and talking with the other children. We varied in ages, but were virtually raised in a pack and were comfortable with each other. The conversations were a mixture of Spanish and English, all of us being able to speak both languages fluently. Most of the ranch hand children were close knit, and Livvie was attached to them as well. I was more standoffish than the others; the only one I was remotely close to was Olivia.
As we finished up our supper and prepared to do our evening chores, Inez pulled me aside.
"Niño Jasper," she began, drawing my full attention. "Juan quiere que lo ayudes está tarde en el establo. Él tiene trabajo extra para ti."
Jasper, Juan would like you to help him in the barn right away this evening. He has extra work for you.
"Sí, señora," I replied, hanging my head. Juan was the head of the ranch hands and Inez's husband. He was solely in charge of keeping me in line while I did my chores. He was a tough man, but fair and affectionate. Juan was like a second father to me, I was terrified at the thought of disappointing him somehow. My mind began to race, wondering why he was giving me extra work. Had Mama really been more disappointed in me than I thought? Did she ask him to punish me by making me do extra work? Did I forget to do something he asked me to? I began to panic, my mind rolling over the possible reasons when Inez
"Detnente! Stop, Jasper!" Inez snapped, clapping her hands together loudly. "Puedo sentir que tienes miedo!" "I can feel your fear!"
I tried to calm myself, to reign in my fear as Inez came closer. She placed both of her hands on my face gently. I looked up into her brown eyes and found her smiling at me.
"Don't worry. Everything is going to be fine," she assured me. "Juan is waiting for you out by the barn. Go." She nodded and gave me a slight push in the direction of the back door.