A/N: This little one shot is about the aftermath of Bella's disastrous birthday party in New Moon, as told from Jasper's perspective. We hear secondhand how he blames himself for his family's abandonment of Bella, but I thought it would make for a good one-shot to really delve into how is psyche coped with his actions. Jasper constantly struggles with his past and his talent, and he needs reassurance that he has overcome some of the previous atrocities of his vampire existence.
As always I love when you review. It really does help me develop my style and gives me great ideas for plotlines. In fact, JaspersDaughter made a suggestion which is partially responsible for the creation of this little fic.
Happy reading! ^_^
I struggled, but failed to gain control over the oppressive emotional atmosphere of the house. Irritation swirled with longing, which then melded with lingering desolation and agitation. Rage and resentment coupled only adding further to the caustic environment. Guilt and shame, however, rose above all else, becoming the crushing weight that caused my distinctive command to fall by the wayside, exposing my family to the overwhelming barrage of their emotions in conjunction with my own.
It seemed appropriate at this moment that I no longer controlled my own talent. I could not control even my most basic instincts, so why should I continue to manipulate the emotional climate. Horrific flashbacks spilled relentlessly from my battered psyche. I relived every appalling moment, shocked by my inexcusable behavior, shaken by the aftermath, but traumatized most by the immediate acceptance by my family of my actions.
No one else was surprised by my deeds; if fact, their relief was palpable, as if this atrocity realigned some fundamental truth of my existence which had been unsettled by my recent inexplicable ability to resist the call of human blood. I resented the relief that curled around the less savory emotions like smoke from a candle quickly extinguished. How could any of them feel relieved at a time such as this, when the very fabric which held our family together was unraveling alarmingly fast? I could almost see the threads giving way to the pressure, snapping apart, breaking our bonds to each other. Soon nothing would hold us together, not even ubiquitous obligation we felt to our supposed parents, something that had weathered all other rifts caused by various members over the years.
Terror now coursed through my body. In the less than a second I had destroyed not only the lives of my brother and his beloved, but also those of my entire family. I had brought such chaos into this house and yet no one had expressed any sort of anger or resentment toward me for my behavior. Surely they all knew I was to blame, and if they hadn't realized it yet, they would be required to admit it, to themselves and each other, before much longer.
Emotions crashed over me, like waves upon rocky cliffs, causing my body to tremble, willing me to escape to a less hostile environment lest I attack another member of the family and cause further harm. I could not, however, force myself from my self-created purgatory. I deserved to feel these emotions; I deserved to remain in this corner and let them batter me, reduce me to a pile of quivering limbs and devastate my already crumbling consciousness. I deserve this and so much more, but as the waves crashed higher and higher, spurned on by my inability to calm the viciously building cycle, the pressure became too much and without a glance toward my family, I bolted from the house, running desperately away from my own reality, praying fruitlessly that vampires could dream and this nightmare would fade into nothingness.
Mistress time held no sway over me as I continued my frantic pace toward what I hoped would be obliteration. For hours I ran, seeking no destination until my body no longer seem to share my mind's desire to run as far away as possible; I collapsed mid stride as huge sobs engulfed my lanky frame. I tore at my hair, clawed at the ground, and let out a piercing cry, frightening away any form of life within several miles.
It seemed I could not escape the emotional battleground upon which I was now a lonely unarmed soldier facing down a huge army of enemies. My eyes darted around, trying to determine the count of the imaginary opposition. Nothing in my years of fighting as both mortal and immortal had prepared me for this situation. I was a tactical master, cool under pressure, able to withstand situations under which most would fail. I had practice battling my inner demons, but I could not surmount the knowledge that I had managed to destroy what I loved most and that repair would not be possible, regardless of planning or effort. My touted skills were useless. I was useless. Nothing I could ever do in my existence could ever make amends for what I had done.
I took great gasping gulps of air, as if the unnecessary action would somehow provide some relief. I scrubbed at my itchy eyes, full of venomous tears that could never fall. Using a nearby tree to steady my still-shuddering form, I prepared to resume my escape when a sudden change in the air pressure to the left of my shoulder alerted me to the presence of another. Before they had a chance to take advantage of my vulnerability, I spun on my heel, grasped them tightly by the throat and slammed their form roughly into the tree.
For the second time in less than a day, I cursed my instincts. There before me, tawny eyes wide, but full of sorrow, trembled Esme, my beloved adoptive mother. She radiated pain, but no fear. As quickly as I had assaulted her, I released her prone form and watched her wilt a little, no doubt as result of my brutal handling. I dropped to my knees, unsure how I had managed to damn myself further when I was convinced I was already at the deepest level of hell. How far I had fallen in such a short amount of time. It was almost as if I had reverted back to the mindless machine of my vampire youth, except now I was painfully aware of the frightfulness of my being.
I could not even bear to raise my eyes to my mother, wishing to remain as ignorant as possible of the hurt I had caused her. I focused instead on her dainty feet, clad only in a pair of metallic flats; my dead heart clenched painfully at this reminder of my wife, who I had failed more than all the rest put together. I had wrenched her from her first and only friend. I was destroying her family, which she had worked so hard to find. And now, I was too much of a coward to even stay by her side and weather her emotional pain. My sobs returned full force and I barely noticed Esme's small feet closing the distance between us.
I felt her hand slide through my tangled hair, pulling my nearly limp form toward her. I put forth no resistance to her effort, knowing I owed her my acceptance of whatever punishment she deemed fit for all of my wrongdoings. I was surprised when she clutched me to her abdomen, pressing my face into soft cloth of her blouse and stroking my hair rhythmically.
"My Jasper. My baby boy." She murmured, her voice a little gravely from my rough treatment. "Hush now, darling. It will be all right. I'm here. It will be all right."
On any other day her calling me her baby boy would have amused me. Of all her "sons" I was in fact the oldest, by decades, but since I entered the family last, she considered me her youngest. Perhaps that was why she often showed more grace to me than to the others. Regardless of the reason, I clung to her, both physically and emotionally. She was still hurting, but her efforts were soothing me, providing a safe harbor where I was sure there would be none. She held me close all the while, eventually sinking to the ground so I could embrace her more fully, taking all she had to offer.
It could have been hours or merely minutes, but eventually she pulled away from me, stroking my face with her small, soft hands, so like my beautiful Alice I nearly lost the little control I had managed to regain. I tried to apologize for my inexcusable reaction.
"Esme," I croaked. "I didn't…I swear if I had known…I wouldn't have…please, I'm sorry…I…mom, forgive me? Please, please forgive me."
I could not even put into words how truly sorry I was, for hurting her, for demolishing her family, for every action of mine that had ever caused her pain. I needed her forgiveness desperately. I needed to know she still loved me despite my failings.
"Oh darling. I know. I know. But sweetheart, there is nothing to forgive. I should have made sure you knew I was here. I knew you wouldn't hurt me. Look, I'm fine."
Her forgiveness of my assault did little to assuage my guilt and shame. I was relieved to know I had cause no damage to her at that moment, but I knew she could not be so forgiving of the rest of my actions.
"I'm sorry I ran. I am such a coward." I admitted brokenly.
She wrenched my head to face her piercing eyes quickly and with more force than I thought she possessed.
"You are not a coward Jasper. And I never want to hear you call yourself such a vile term ever again. Do you understand me?"
"Yes'm." I replied, shocked.
"You face your fears and you battle your personal demons everyday and I am so very proud of you."
She would have continued if I had not interrupted her. I could not stomach her sincerity.
"But I ruined the family. I destroyed our happiness. How can you be proud of me? How can you stand there and say I am not a coward for running away today? How can you love me when I spoil everything I touch?"
"Oh my baby boy. You did no such thing. I will always love you, even when you fall. You are my son, now and for all eternity. We are all mourning our loss, and while you may have been a catalyst, your actions were not the ultimate factor in our leaving, as you well know."
"But," I interrupted her again, an action which my southern gentleman upbringing railed against. "I nearly killed her. If Edward hadn't pushed me out of the way, we'd all be at a funeral right now. It was just a single drop of blood. I should have been able to resist. I should have been able to flee instead of attacking her without thought."
"Jasper." She called, but I refused to meet her gaze again, afraid I would have finally convinced her of the monster I truly was. "Jasper, I need you to look at me, please?"
I could not deny my mother anything she asked, so I slowly raised my eyes once more.
"Darling, did it not occur to you there may be a reason, despite your recent success with your bloodlust, that you had no control that night? You've held yourself every other time Bella's blood tempted you. I spoke with Edward after you left the house today. He explained your sudden departure. You were overwhelmed by the emotions, yes?"
I nodded in agreement, picking up on her underlying excitement and understanding. My curiosity was piqued.
"Who is to say a similar environment did not exist that night?"
I failed to understand the association she was trying to make. The confusion etched on my face prompted her to explain further.
"Jasper, Edward, and now the rest of the family and I agree. The only reason your control failed you that night was because you were not contending with only your bloodlust. We all reacted to Bella's blood, and you were bombarded with the bloodlust of six vampires in addition to your own. Had the number been fewer, you would have held your ground."
"But how can you know that. I probably still would have attacked her. I'm dangerous Esme."
She smiled at my protest, confidence radiating off her in waves.
"I know, Jasper, because you already have. You were with Bella that night in the ballet studio, in the company of Emmett, Edward and Alice, all of whom admit to being tempted by her blood, and yet you maintained your control, so much so that you helped eliminate James while Bella bled freely only meters from you. Your control is astounding my darling son. You must believe me."
I stared into her eyes and tested her emotions to see if she was lying, a very uncommon action for Esme, but one that did occur on occasion if she felt it was the only way to comfort one of her children. I failed to detected deceit in her emotions or from her eyes. She spoke what she believed the truth. The tactician in me latched onto her logic and reasoning and began to disassemble the argument for any flaws. I could find none. Perhaps my mother had found the answer for which I had so desperately been searching.
My joy was short lived when I realized my culpability or lack thereof changed nothing. We had still abandoned Bella, the family was still falling apart, and there appeared to be nothing anyone could do about it except Edward, and his resolve had yet to waiver.
"What are we going to do?"
"I don't know sweetheart, but whatever happens, I need you to come home. I can't loose any more of my children." Her voice cracked and now Esme wept, her sorrow crashing through her carefully constructed calm. It had not occurred to me what my departure would do to my mother. I knew her greatest fear was loosing another child, and yet I had selfishly taken myself from her when she was already dealing with the loss of a daughter.
I held her close to my chest, hoping to offer her some of the comfort she had so readily bestowed on me. Her sobs were so forceful she shook my frame as well. Anguish slowly morphed to embarrassment when she realized she'd fallen to pieces.
"Oh, dear. Forgive me. I meant to comfort you and here you are holding me." She gave a weak laugh as she straightened her hair.
"S'nothing'" I drawled, trying to encourage her laughter and relieve a little of her embarrassment. "May I accompany the lady back home?"
She caught onto my game and tittered while replying, "I would be honored kind sir," before hooking her dainty arm through my own.
There was an unspoken acknowledgement that awaiting us at home would be the same atmosphere I had left. The family was mourning the loss of Bella and railing against Edward's handling of the situation. Tempers would be lost, words would be spoken in anger, and sensibilities would be offended.
I still harbored guilt over my part in causing the current condition of the family, and swore to myself then, I would find Bella someday, regardless of Edward's demand we stay away, and apologize to her for my actions. She deserved no less from me and nothing would keep me from explaining to her how sorry I was for causing her pain. Right now, however, my family needed me. I believed I had regained enough of my tenuous control to help assuage some of the emotional turmoil plaguing our home when I returned with Esme. If I could keep some sort of peace, there might just be a chance of mending my broken family. Alice and Esme deserved my best efforts for they above all others, truly appreciated and relied on our family.
With my resolve strengthened, I reentered the house, immediately feeling my beloved come crashing into my embrace. Before the emotions could overpower me again, I sent out a wave of reassurance and calm and was pleased with the result. It would take discipline, and a great deal of effort, but I could help my family through this upheaval. I embraced Alice a little tighter, drawing from some hidden inner strength I did not realize I possessed, effusing her with my intense love and relieving her of some of her emotional burden.
I would surmount the cacophony of raging emotions. I would overcome my past demons and conquer those elements of my talent that undermined my control. Never again would I run because in my small successes I could see my greater triumph: no longer was I Jasper Whitlock, a mindless killing machine in a power hungry coven- I was Jasper Hale, brother, son, and husband in the Cullen family, and at this moment my family needed me to be strong. I would hold our threadbare fabric together because I knew exactly what we had to loose, and that possibility could not be allowed to reach fruition. For once my skills and my ruthless determination would be put to good use, and perhaps, in the end, I could make amends for my past transgressions. For now, salvation came in the form of the tiny pixie held in my arms, her presence a soothing balm on my psychological wounds, and from the mother who loved me despite my failings.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this one-shot. Please review if you have a minute. Thanks for reading! ^_^