"For the Love of Jasper" One-Shot Contest
Title: Someone I needed
Pen name: Jabberwockylove
Existing work: N/A
Primary Players: Jasper/Alice
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its characters. No copyright infringement intended.
To see other entries in the "For the Love of Jasper" contest, please visit the C2: www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/For_the_Love_of_Jasper_Contest/72564/
A/N: This is something I've been working on intermittently for a while now, and this contest has given me the motivation to actually finish it. I hope you enjoy.
I smell her blood even before I am fully aware of her presence.
She patters quietly ahead of me in the far distance, lost in her own thoughts, completely unaware of the predator in her midst; utterly uncomprehending of the danger she is in.
My throat tightens, and I shudder convulsively as I begin a battle with my inner demons. My thirst is strong – almost unbearably so – but valiantly, I struggle against my baser instincts. To give in now would not be worth the pain that I know will come later. Torn, I stand rooted to the spot. My every instinct is telling me to go for it – to get what I need and damn the girl, but the little voice inside my head – the bane of my existence – is telling me to hold fast. He knows it's a losing battle; almost a century of gratuitous bloodshed means that I can no more leave this girl intact than live on human fare. Less than a second has passed, but every millisecond has so far been agonisingly painful.
A slight wind blows my way, and her scent hits me with a force that makes me stagger backwards. My head pulses as an uncontrollable flood of venom pools in my mouth, and like a marionette, my feet stalk forwards as if they are possessed. I want to stop. I try to stop. But the bloodlust is all-consuming, and my mind is no longer my own. I start to walk, gaining on her quickly.
She turns suddenly, and the dreamy smile on her face wavers. The change in her emotions – from tranquil and pensive to wary and apprehensive – hits me hard and holds me at bay for a split second, but my need pushes through. Nothing can hold me back now.
Her green eyes widen as they lock onto my face. I feel surprise and admiration emanating from her – admiration that turns quickly into fear as she takes in my eyes – now a dull, dark burgundy, converging on almost-black. But although that little voice inside me is telling me that this is wrong, that I should stop, it is quickly drowned out by the louder, more insistent voice telling me that I need this – that I need blood. I give in to that assertive voice. I always do. It takes whatever little willpower I have left to hold back, but quickly, I send out wave after wave of calm, and slowly, the horror dissipates from the girl's eyes until once again they are peaceful. A small smile hovers about her lips as her body physically relaxes. It's the least I can do for her. It's the last I can do for her.
Another light breeze wafts by, and I am instantly stripped of whatever vestiges of humanity I still possess. All my senses lock onto the pulsation in her neck, and venom once again fills my mouth. The pure, saccharine sweetness running like molten honey through my burning throat is the only thought left in my mind, and like a moth to a flame, my body flies forward – a single step covering the distance between us – and I lower my head, sink my teeth into her jugular, and drink, drink, drink.
It was at times like these that I wished I were a normal vampire. Not that I particularly revelled in being a vampire, but if I had to be a part of this heinous, monstrous reality, then being normal would no doubt have been infinitely preferable to being empathetic. After all, normal vampires didn't feel their victims' emotions swirling around them constantly. They weren't assaulted with the fear and horror their prey felt just before the life was literally sucked out of them, and they certainly didn't feel the crushing weight of their conscience bearing down upon them as they stared down at the body they had just drained; the life they had just extinguished.
I groaned, disgusted with myself.
What awful thing had I done in my past life to warrant this? It had to be some sort of divine retribution from the Gods that made me a monster privy to every single feeling my prey emitted.
I groaned again as my head sank heavily into my hands, and I wished, for the umpteenth time that, like normal vampires – like all the other vampires I knew – I could live for the moment and feed and feel absolutely nothing in doing so.
And why should I? They were just humans, and in a world where an established food chain was a part of life, it was only natural that predators like vampires – the top of the food chain – would feed on weaker, lesser beings like humans, right? After all, lions didn't stop and think every time they wanted a gazelle for lunch. Why should we be any different?
Because lions don't feel everything their prey is feeling, the small voice inside me whispered. And because to normal vampires, humans are nothing more than food. But you know better, Jasper, the voice insisted. Humans feel love, lust, envy, sorrow, fear and compassion, just like you do. You feel it every time they're near you. You used to be one of them. How can you kill something once you've felt what it feels?
I exhaled loudly and sucked in another unneeded breath. This conundrum was not new to me. Far from it. It was the same battle; the same argument; the same innate sense of guilt that assaulted me every time I killed a human to sustain my needs. But what could I do? The simple truth of the matter was that I was a vampire, and vampires needed blood.
But blood did not come cheap, at least for me. Blood was fear staring at me in the eyes, horror emanating from my victim's every orifice and swirling around me like an angry cloud. Blood was my conscience screaming at me to stop and telling me that no matter how I played it, it was a monstrous evil to kill something that felt as keenly as I did. Blood was the repulsion that filled me every time I realised, too late, that the body I'd just drained in a moment of gratuitous hunting was a mother who would never hold her children again; a husband who left behind a widow; a child whose disappearance would never be solved. Blood was the intense hate I felt for myself all the time – for the murderer – the monster – that I knew I was. And blood was a paradox. Because for most, blood loomed as a signifier of death. But for me and for others of my kind, blood was life.
I lifted my head, and involuntarily, my eyes strayed down onto the drained corpse in front of me. I clenched my hands into tight fists and squeezed my eyes shut, willing myself not to think about the now-lifeless bright green eyes; the serene smile playing about her mouth. With deep, shuddering breaths, I turned away from the body and stared out into the trees surrounding me. This, right here, was the reason I avoided places where humans congregated; the reason I had, for weeks, stayed almost exclusively within the confines of the deep bush. It was so easy to get lost that humans rarely wandered here. And yet, it had not been enough. In fact, my determination to avoid any form of human contact in an effort to save both them and myself seemed to be counter-productive. The more I stayed away from them, the thirstier I got and the more I craved blood. But going into human society was also impossible. The smallest whiff of blood when I was thirsty, and the unfortunate human's death warrant was signed. I was a one-man killing machine, and I hated myself for it.
Slowly, I picked up the corpse and got to my feet, walking deeper into the forest. I stopped at the base of a large oak tree and laid the body down on the ground. Using my hands, I worked quickly, digging a wide, deep hole in a matter of seconds. I picked up the body and laid it gently into the grave. "I'm sorry," I muttered as I shoved the mound of dirt I'd dug up back into place. "I'm truly sorry." With practised moves, I flung various bits of grass, twigs and leaves on top until the site was indistinguishable from the landscape around it. I didn't have to double check to know that I'd done a thorough job. Nobody would ever find this body now. I was a consummate professional at cleaning up after myself, and it sickened me to my very core. I turned my back to the tree, and without a glance backwards, sprinted as fast as I could. I'd been gifted the power of speed and agility; I could run for days on end and not feel tired. But try as I might, my conscience followed me, and I could not run away from it.
The rain was pelting down, the wind screeching in unrestrained glee as I made my way slowly down the emptying street, only semi-conscious of the humans around me opening umbrellas and running for shelter to avoid the wet. Despondently, still dwelling on my latest transgression from three days ago, I heaved a sigh and followed a cluster of people into the nearest café, the door tinkling in welcome before it clanged shut behind me.
The place was packed. Humans filled the small unit, chattering happily.
I clenched my jaw tightly as panic threatened to overwhelm me. Courtesy of my enhanced faculties, I could distinctly pick out each of the thirty beating hearts in the room and smell the individual scents of fresh blood pumping readily through thirty warm bodies. I was not thirsty, but that didn't matter. I didn't have to need blood to want it. My throat screamed in protest, and quickly, I held my breath, cutting off my olfactory senses completely. Relief flowed through me almost at once, but I still felt uncomfortable. There were too many people here, and if one of them happened to stand too close, well…the consequences simply did not bear thinking about. I stood by the door, away from the throng, and stared outside desperately. The rain had not ceased in the least. In fact, it was hammering down even harder than before. The streets outside were isolated; the only signs of life were people peering out from various shops and shelters. For me to leave now and simply walk out into the pouring rain without a jacket or umbrella would call unwanted attention to myself. Humans just didn't do that sort of thing. A mounting anxiety rose inside me at the prospect of being in such close proximity with so many humans for an indeterminate amount of time. I would slip up, sooner rather than later, and if I killed one person, I would have to kill them all. My conscience would have a field day.
Suddenly there was a light tap on my shoulder. It was a testament to my panicked state of mind that I had not noticed anyone approaching. I turned warily, still holding my breath, and then stiffened. A tiny pixie of a girl with a shock of spiky black hair framing her face stood in front of me, smiling expectantly. I froze in shock. It wasn't the fact that I immediately recognised her as being a vampire that held my attention, nor was it the unceasing waves of happiness – pure, untainted happiness – radiating from her that hit me over and over again until I fancied my insides almost warm. No, it was her eyes. They weren't black, red, burgundy or any variations of the sort. They were a warm amber, light ochre, gold. Gold? My mind spun. How is that possible? In my almost-a-century of vampiric life, I had never seen anything like it. Before I could speak, she spoke.
"You've kept me waiting a long time," she said, smiling easily at me.
And although I wondered what she meant by that remark, automatically, as if acting on some deeply ingrained impulse, I ducked my head. "I'm sorry, ma'am."
She let loose a tinkling laugh, and an unfamiliar feeling of delight rippled over me. I was transfixed. I had never heard-–or seen-–anything so beautiful in my life. She grinned conspiratorially, held out her hand, and without thinking, I took it. It was small, velvet-soft and unblemished; directly contrasting with the tiny crescent-shaped scars covering almost every inch of my body – eternal reminders of my violent upbringing. The girl brought her other hand round and laid it gently over mine, tracing the rough patterns lightly with the tips of her fingers, a small smile hovering about her mouth. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feel of her hands exploring mine. There was a sensualness I'd never experienced before. It wasn't that I had lacked for female company. Maria had been my companion in every way since she'd created me, and our relationship had been a very physical one. This was different, and although there was nothing sexual about it, it was infinitely better.
"Hello, Jasper," she said after a while, eyes shining. "I'm Alice. I'm so glad to have finally found you. You have no idea how long I've been searching." She gave my hand an affectionate squeeze. "I know you have questions – the gold eyes and all, not to mention how on earth I seem to know who you are – but don't worry. I'll explain everything. There's no hurry. We have all the time in the world, and so much to talk about. Oh, I'm just so happy you're here!" She smiled and tugged at my hand, leading me towards a table in the corner.
I followed in a daze.
I was 85 years old, and this was the first time I had ever felt joy. Despite my confusion as to who this mysterious Alice was, where she had come from and how she seemed to know me, the corners of my mouth turned up tentatively, and suddenly I was smiling. It was a strange sensation. The intense depression that haunted me after every hunt and in between was not conducive to leading an enjoyable life. Life was a worry, a burden; immortality a millstone around my neck. But as I stood holding her hand, staring at her staring back at me – pleasure, relief, curiosity and a myriad of other happy feelings emanating from her, I couldn't stop smiling. I didn't want to stop smiling. Because for the first time in my life – the first time that I could remember – the fog that loomed over me had lifted, and I felt right. My life thus far had governed in me a strong sense of suspicion and wariness, and I'd trusted no one, not even Maria, who had been my companion for over seven decades.
The girl sitting opposite me was different. Save for her name, I knew absolutely nothing about her. And yet, it didn't matter. From the first time I'd glanced into her strange golden eyes, heard her voice, her bubbling laughter, I'd known that she was someone I could trust. More than that, I knew she was someone I needed; someone who would finally help me shed the shackles I'd donned for 85 years; someone who would lead me along the path to salvation; who would help me turn from the person I was into the person I wanted to be – the person buried deep inside the monster. It was an extraordinary way to feel about a virtual stranger, but instinctively, I knew.
Alice chattered away at a thousand words a minute, but I didn't hear a thing. Her earlier words reverberated over and over again in my mind, weaving in and out of my own thoughts. We have all the time in the world. We have all the time in the world. We have all the time in the world. Impossibly, my smile widened. Life suddenly seemed not so bleak after all. Life was…hopeful.