"For the Love of Jasper" One-Shot Contest
Title: Wild Harvest
Pen name: Lady_M28/Lady M
Existing work: N/A
Primary Players: Jasper & Carlisle
Disclaimer: All things Twilight are owned by SM, I just took out some pretty vampire boys for a stroll.
To see other entries in the "For the Love of Jasper" contest, please visit the C2:
Whale Cove, NW Territories, Canada
It reminded me of home. Not the fact that the sun never really sets here this time of year, nor the polar bears which are currently in migration or the belugas from which the area derives its name, nor the constant thick cloud cover, or even the landscape itself. It's more of a feel. In the starkness, the ruggedness of the land, which neither man nor beast can truly tame. In the size and ferocity of our mosquito cousins. The feeling that while most things are transitory, this was not. That it had seen everything before and it will see all of them again.
Many would call that a comfort, in some ways perhaps it was. But it's also a reminder of who I am - or what I am - more precisely. And that while I might not have seen the dawning of the ages, I'll very likely see the ending of them. Not long ago that might've been reassuring to me. I never knew from one day to the next if my time had finally run out. Now it just seems what is. And yet it is no comfort, it's just the reality of what is.
Alice was truly happy here. Getting to know our new 'family,' something she'd never known. She seemed to have formed an almost instantaneous bond with Edward - once he got over his pique at her for stealing his room for us. And while I could feel the peace of this place, characterized most especially by the concern of Carlisle and the warmth of Esme; it was a peace that does not touch my inner self.
I tried to write a letter to Peter the other day, hoping that perhaps I could explain to my friend and brother what exactly this displacement I'd been feeling was. He'd probably laugh. Me, who has special insights into the feelings and emotions of all those who surround me is confounded by his own inner self. Peter just wanted an end to the madness, and I do appreciate the end of the constant cacophony of the last century, but that does not solve the conundrum of the void of never-ending time.
I felt his presence as he came across the tundra toward me. Worry, anxiety, anxiousness, all surrounded by the concern and caring that seemed to be innate to his nature.
"Jasper," he greeted me softly.
"Carlisle," I acknowledged, once he's standing beside me. I'm not sure what he's going to say, but I've felt him watching me since we first got here. They all have. And why would they not? I'd spent the last ninety years being the exact antithesis of what Carlisle Cullen had sought to be throughout his time as one of the never aging. The endless patterns of scars I never chose to wear telling my history as surely as the peace that radiates from Carlisle's being. It's not a surprise that he'd sought me out, nor that he would stand in what would seem, to an observer, to be companionable silence as the sun slipped just behind the horizon and then promptly emerged on the other side. If he was not born with his innate patience, his long existence had taught it to him.
"How do you stand it?" I finally ask.
"Stand what?" he replied.
It takes me some minutes to decide exactly what I want to say: "The quiet, the solitude, the calm...the never ending maw of time." I finally look over at him.
He chuckled, taking a moment to answer, "Yes, I can see where some might find the life we lead confusing. Especially considering how you lived the last century." He paused, turning to look at me, "I work, it brings me great satisfaction to do something I love. To be able to help others."
"Yes, well, be that as it may, it's not as if I can go work in the hospital with you," I mumbled in response.
"Ah, but my job is not the only thing that I pursue," he answered. "I read a great deal, correspond with friends I have made throughout my time. Esme and the family have made my life infinitely more happy and full since they have joined me. The last thirty odd years have been very different ones for me than the previous two hundred seventy. Esme finds her fulfillment in taking care of the family, Edward in his music and, like me; he has devoted much time to reading and study."
"Alice is so happy," I stated.
"And you are not?" he questioned. I can feel uncertainty from him for the first time.
I pause, not wanting him to think I'm ungrateful, or even that I don't want to be here, "I'm just not used to having nothin' to do, I suppose," I offered, though I feel this is only part of the equation.
"No, I suppose the constant activity of your last ninety..."
"You mean war and bloodlust," I interrupted, not wanting to shy away from my past. I might not want to revisit it, but it was what it was.
"Yes," he nodded.
He cut me off before I could really begin, raising his hand, "Jasper, I want you to know something, something I am not sure you realize." He looked me straight in the eye. "I did not choose to be what I am. Nonetheless, I chose how I would live my eternal life. I chose how I could live with myself, with what I am. But I also knew from the moment I woke to my reborn self what I was, I had choices that you never had. I have made my choice, it was the right one for me, and it is my great hope that as many of our kind as is possible will join my way of life. However, I do not judge those who choose to continue a more traditional diet. It is not my choice, but I do not consider those that do not make my choice to be sinful. I have friendships with many human feeders, some close, including Aro of the Volturi."
I nodded, having already been shown the portrait of him with the Volturi in his study.
"I don't know that I really chose…" I tried to begin.
"No," he interrupted sharply. "Much like Saul on the road to Damascus you made a choice once you saw the truth of your prior life…"
"I hate to disillusion you about myself, Carlisle," I cut him off, "but I didn't choose this life because I received an epiphany that humans as a food source is sinful." I didn't want to be less than honest with him; it seemed an imprudent way to begin our relationship. "It's more that once I discovered I didn't need them as food my melancholy was solved. However, I'll always know that human blood is more satisfying and delicious than any other mammals. I know the consequences - what it does to me, but I wonder if the pull will always exist?" I choose not to add that I had lost whatever faith I'd had in my human life long ago. How could a god of any compassion allow the things I'd been a participant in, and witness to, to happen?
"I may be a man of faith, but I am also one of practicality," Carlisle replied, a smile pulling at the left side of his mouth. "I am a doctor, after all. If I were strictly a man of faith I would believe He would be able to cure all disease and sickness, and my calling and comfort would be pointless. Which is a rather roundabout manner of saying it does not really matter to me what brought you to my lifestyle, or the reasons that might keep you faithful to it. It is enough to me that you have chosen. The rest will sort itself in time," he concluded, reaching down to pick up a smooth stone and launch it into the bay. Human eyes wouldn't have been able to see how far the stone flew.
"Kierkegaard said," he begins again, after a time: "'What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.'"
"Who?" I asked, rather intrigued by his statement. He seemed to be telling me to look within to know myself, something I never remembered doing while human, and a luxury never allowed since my rebirth.
"Søren Kierkegaard," he explained, "a Dutch writer and philosopher of the nineteenth century. Have you never heard of him? He died before you were changed."
"The name sounds very vaguely familiar," I offered, trying to reach back into the spider web covered memories of my human self. They have begun to come to me more clearly since getting away from the turmoil, but they are still ghosts and shapes, feelings, not something solid. "I haven't done much reading in recent years," I laughed quietly, and he joined me. "And when I was human I was more likely to enjoy the stories of Virgil and Homer, or the writings of Thucydides, over contemporary writers." I'd already pilfered many of the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans from Carlisle's study, enjoying refamiliarizing myself with many stories and writings I'd enjoyed during my days as a school boy.
"Quite understandable," he nodded, "very exciting and valorous stories. But I think perhaps the peace you seek might be realized through some study of some more modern writers. I have found that the human mind is an interesting and ever developing entity, not to be dismissed because they only use a small sliver of their capacity. There are lively human minds and thinkers worth the time we have to spend reading and thinking about what is being said.
"In fact there is even a new science of the inner mind called psychoanalysis that Edward has been reading about in the last few years, which you might be very interested in," he continued. "It does take time for us to get new writings, but part of my correspondence is with friends of mine like Eleazar who used to be with the Volturi Guard and has many contacts all over the world who keep him abreast on the latest scientific and philosophical developments, and popular writing as well. Why not come inside with me and I will give you some of Kierkegaard's writings and those of a newer writer that I really find of value, Fyodor Dostoyevsky."
We turned to head back to the rambling lodge we call home, and he continued. "I know some find great value in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Franz Kafka, but I cannot say I agree with much of what either had to say. I have heard that there are some very interesting new ideas coming out of Paris recently, but I have only read small pamphlets at this point. I am very interested in what these new thinkers have to say…"
"I don't agree that war lacks purpose," I offered. "It's not just about chaos, it's about many things." We've been discussing Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground, the first of the books he gave me that I'd finished. It was a book unlike anything else I had ever read. Jarring and harsh, no redeeming qualities to the main character. I hesitated to call him the 'hero' for there was nothing heroic about him. His paranoia and desire to met out and receive pain; they felt both familiar and repulsive. Even when he had a chance for some form of redemption, he choose otherwise.
"Really?" Carlisle asked.
"Yes, the Civil War was to protect individual and state rights, the southern wars were to control territory for the ability to feed," I returned.
"Ah, I'll put aside the Civil War, for now," he replied, a smile beginning to pull on one side of his face. "But I would say the southern wars into which you were born are unnecessary. They were about power…"
"They're about survival," I interrupted emphatically, leaning forward, jabbing my finger on his desk. "We've got tons of cattle ranches in Texas, humans need to eat, so do our kind. It's about food supply."
"But making the armies to control the areas necessitates more killing of innocents, so it was a cycle that fed itself, thus adding to the chaos," Carlisle cut in, leaning back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head. "Plus, how many times a night did you say it was common to feed?"
"Between two and four," I reminded him, though I know he knew the answer to the question.
"Do you not find that to be gluttonous?" he asked. "We need to feed once or twice a week, at most. To do so more than that is excessive."
"True, but you do get accustomed to feeding that often, makin' it necessary after a time," I replied, not wanting to completely concede to the wasteland that was my last century. It may have almost destroyed my peace of mind, but the thought that it was completely without purpose and depraved was something I'm not yet willing to do. As Peter said, I just needed to be away from the chaos.
"It is all a vicious cycle that feeds itself," he returned emphatically, sitting up. "The armies were built of erratic newborns that needed to feed frequently; they wrought destruction themselves, then they were destroyed as they lost their strength, beginning the cycle all over again. That is not even mentioning the actual destruction of the battles and fighting. Thus, what is gained? What was the purpose outside of chaos? What was the end result? Does it ever end?"
"I would agree with Kierkegaard's assessment of the Christendom, or the Church," I threw out. "Lookin' at what the Catholic Church's been throughout history. Before Luther, was the Church about savin' souls, or acquiring power? But I think the analogy can go further. Look at what caused the French Revolution. The decadence of the French royal court, versus the poverty of its citizenry. Or the Russian Revolution, same thing, where peasantry still existed."
"Or the American South," Edward interjected, looking over at me with a raised brow. "A war was fought, slavery outlawed, and yet, full citizenry was never allotted to those former slaves or their descendants.
"But do we even know if the coloreds can really thrive? It's been almost a century since the War and their circumstance hasn't really improved," I returned. I vaguely remembered the almost childlike quality of the Negros who worked for my family. It's not like any of them could have really gotten ahead if we'd a just cut them loose. I'm sure they all had no idea what to do with their newfound freedom when it was granted, if they'd even survived the war, that was.
"Have you read Fredrick Douglass, or Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston or Richard Wright? Ever heard the music of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or Cab Calloway's band. That is brilliance on display, they're some of the finest American musicians, period!" he emphatically returned, scrubbing his hands through his hair. Getting up to browse through the walls of books, he walked his fingers over several shelves, pulling out a couple of volumes, and handing them to me. "So, no, I don't think anyone is served by segregation or disparate rights. Look at places like New Orleans or Harlem, both are cultural centers of the United States, and that culture is lead by its colored citizenry. I don't think I have enjoyed anywhere as much as I did the period of time I spent in Harlem a few years ago. The music, the art, the writing it is just superb.
"You say it's been almost a century, and there has been little proof that those descending from slaves can thrive, but have they really been given a chance?" he continued, as I looked down to see he's handed me books entitled: Black Boy and Native Son. "Those whose ancestors were brought here in chains have to be given the chance to sink or swim on an equal footing, and that time is coming. You mention the French and Russian Revolutions; do you not see that same recipe bubbling in America right now? Carlisle?"
"I have nothing to add to this," he laughed.
"I have to admit, I very much identify with Vanya," I threw out. "Perhaps more so than any other literary character I've read before."
Carlisle chuckled, "I thought you might. Rationalist, atheist…"
"I actually think it was the madness that drew me to him," I admitted.
"Really?" he questioned, a line forming between his brows.
"Yeah," I took a moment, breathing slowly in and out so I could gather myself and then just thought out loud, crossing my arms over my chest. "I remember when I first woke up in this life, there was the thirst, which everyone goes through, but then there was the absolute pummeling of hostility, anxiousness, fear, confusion, panic, it was overwhelming, suffocating almost," I said, trying to convey the bedlam of being trapped inside my body and brain had been like when I first woke.
"It sounds similar to what Edward went through," Carlisle offered.
"We have spoken about it a bit," I nodded, "but one big difference for him is he only had to deal with you. Only having one other person would have been a huge difference, but also the fact that you didn't want anything hostile from him, that's what I think allowed him to learn to manage his gift more easily. I woke to someone that wanted something from me immediately, and once she realized I had a gift which could be useful to her, she wanted even more. And there was always a crowd, be it newborns, or humans. Silence was never my companion."
"Yes, that would be very different from Edward's awakening," he nodded, resting his nose against his tented fingers. "I tried to ease him into this life as smoothly as possible, and handled it with as much care and patience as I have anything in my time.
"But back to Vanya," he segued. "I can see where his rationalism would appeal to you. The descent into insanity could easily be something you identify with. And given your history, I can understand your empathy toward a character that deplores senseless suffering - even how his witness of said suffering might influence his lack of belief in God."
"You don't mind that if I consider myself anything it would be an atheist?" I posed. It was something we'd danced around, but never really spoken about. I think I fear that my atheism might alienate him, and by not bringing it up I could avoid that and the consequences of doing so.
"There is only one hard and fast rule in this family, to adhere to a non-human diet, or do your best to. Everything else is fungible," he replied folding his hands and resting his chin on them, his elbows on the desk. "I know everyone will not believe the same as I do, even Edward who has been with me the longest, or Esme who has brought so much joy into my life, do not believe the exact same things I do. So, no, I do not require that the entire family hold fast to my belief system. I just always hope that each day will bring us closer together.
"I do think your current atheism might be a natural outgrowth of the life you have led. The grace of the Lord wasn't exactly present," he continued. "I think without those little reminders of the good in this world we might be more ready to question, and even begin to believe grace doesn't exist."
"I would say your latter sentiment mirrors my thoughts exactly," I confirmed, moving my hands to rest on the arms of the chair.
"There is also nothing wrong with rationalism, it just shows you to be a sentient, discerning being," he carried on. "Further, I can see where the descent into madness would be something you would identify with. I would like to think that the implied climb out of it is your current path and the hopeful ending is my vision of your future," he ended with the beginnings of a smile.
"I suppose the fact that I've felt hopeful about the prospect of having a future is in and of itself great progress," I suggested, knowing this to be true. "It's a fairly new feeling for me."
"I definitely am beginning to get Emmett's preference for bear, it is much more flavorful than say, elk, moose, caribou, or deer of any sort," I grinned, looking over my shoulder to Carlisle. I had just finished draining a polar bear. "I also like the wolves we have hunted."
"They are carnivores, everyone tells me they taste more like human blood than herbivores," Carlisle replied.
"And yet, you only feed on herbivores," I posed, moving over next to him, gazing out over the bay. The men had gone hunting together for several days, heading further north toward Foxe Basin where there's a dense population of polar bears. Emmett, Edward and I had tracked bears and wolves; we'd even sampled seal and walrus. Carlisle had stuck to caribou. I had to admit it is rather fun to chase after a huge bear and know I am the superior being. To feel my power, my strength. Unlike feeding on humans, where there was none that ever felt like they'd stood a chance, and brought me nothing but melancholy and gloom. This reminded me of my faint memories of racing horses with my friends back in Texas. Flying across the plains and marshes near home. Hot, humid, wind whipping through my hair, without a care in the world.
"I choose to only consume that which I consumed in my human existence," he replied, pulling me out of my thoughts. "I do enjoy wild boar when we are in an area where they are native. It is a particular favorite of mine," he grinned. "But otherwise I don't consume the bears, wolves, or the mountain lions that the others prefer. Well, Edward in particular enjoys mountain lion, he also likes jaguar depending on the area where we have been in."
"What's a mountain lion?" I asked, not having encountered anything that brought that name to mind.
"They are a very large tan cat," he returned, measuring a little more than half way up his body to signify height, stretching his arms out wide, indicating length, "they look something like a female African lion, as they have no mane like the African males do. Very ferocious. Quite beautiful, as well. Native to all parts of North America."
"I think we might've referred to 'em as cougars in Texas," I provided, thinking about the ferocious cats that were abundant in much of the state and very plentiful in places like Big Bend. "When we get somewhere they're local I'll have to give 'em a try, they might be quite tasty. Do you have a reason for only feeding on those things you consumed when you were human?"
"As you know my father was an Anglican minister, he believed in the existence of witches and monsters, and actively sought to root them out…"
I listened carefully. I'd heard much of this already, first from Alice, and then from other members of the family, but to hear Carlisle tell his own experiences, and why he had chosen the life he had was somehow different for me.
"I would say Kierkegaard was right, the presence of doubt is what makes me have more surety of my path, or he would say faith in my choices," he finished.
"Have you been questioned by others of our kind very often?" I asked. This has interested me, his choice is so singular, and yet makes logical sense once it is explored.
"Oh, yes, of course," he chuckled in response, looking out over the horizon. "You know of my time with the Volturi, and my friendship with Aro. It was my first real instance of living amongst those of our kind which I would call, 'civilized.' It was a true revelation. And it made me question many of my suppositions."
"How so?" I interjected.
He took a moment to think, then said, "I thought that it was my lack of hunting of humans that gave me my civility, and yet they have that civility as well, and they adhere to the traditional diet. It took me a while to realize they are the exception rather than the rule. That my choice was the right one, for me. And ultimately it had allowed me to live the life I do, to find happiness in my work. My doubt cemented my belief in my choice.
"We are the largest coven outside of the Volturi themselves that I have ever heard of, even before you and Alice joined us. And we live together peacefully, as a family, not a coven ruled by the quest for blood and prey. Look at the four of us, if not for the lack of presence of guns we are just four outdoorsmen out tracking polar bears for sport. This camaraderie could never happen amongst human feeders. For me that is enough of a confirmation of the rightness of my choice to make me sure of my path."
As the haze of bloodlust waned, the panic set in. I'd drained two hunters.
…What am I going to do?....How do I explain this to the family?....to Carlisle?...
"Jasper," a voice cuts through fog of my anxiety. Carlisle. Of course Alice would have seen what happened as soon as I decided to feed on the hunters. What am I supposed to say to explain? "Emmett and Edward are on their way, we will make it appear as if a polar bear attacked. They are somewhat erratic, and if the hunters had gotten in the path of a newly awakened bear, they might very well have attacked."
"I'm so sorry," I mumbled, staring down at the ice and snow covered ground, trying to not look at my blood covered hands. I feel no anger or accusation from Carlisle, only concern and compassion. But I know he had to be disappointed.
"Jasper, this life is not without struggle, even for me," he returned quietly. "Mistakes happen, it is for each of us to gather strength and resolve for it to not happen again, when it does, that makes us stronger and more determined."
I heard Emmett and Edward approaching quickly, no accusation or resentment coming from either of them. "Man, when you fall off the wagon, you do it with style," Emmett offered with his usual joviality, making me groan.
"Or perhaps it is our basic id which we cannot fully control taking over and suppressing our conscious decisions," Edward mumbled. "Perhaps it is our lacking of a soul, our most basic and monstrous nature, which we cannot escape…"
"Eddie, I know you love to be our resident tortured soul most of the time," Emmett interrupted, earning a growl and a furious flash of his eyes from Edward. "I'm sure you'd pull a Van Gogh and cut off your ear if you could, to show the world your inner pain. But, honestly, sometimes a human is just tastier. You gotta admit that."
Everyone laughs nervously, but it had relieved the tension that surrounded us, breaking the pressure and panic that was pushing down on me.
"I thought y'all'd be angry," I whispered, after the laughter dies down, knowing all of them can hear me clearly, even over the whistling of the whipping wind.
"You are family, Jasper," Carlisle stated firmly. "We protect family. Always."
"Are you sure you don't need me to stay here?" she asked anxiously, perching herself on my knee, weaving her hand through my hair.
I know Alice won't leave my side if I ask her not to, she's been with me almost constantly for the past five days, but I also know she's been looking forward to this short trip with Esme and Rosalie for weeks. She'd managed to get all of our necessities at the small department store at Rankin Inlet, but this is her first ever shopping trip with the other girls, and I'm not about to let her miss it because of me. "Hon, there's no need to baby sit me, y'all go have fun in Toronto for a couple of days."
"If you're sure," she hedged, biting the side of her lip, moving a hand to fiddle with a button on my shirt. "Toronto isn't that far away."
"I am sure. Have fun with the girls," I nodded, stroking her smooth cheek.
"Okay," she conceded. "Don't get too lost in the Siberian winter," she continued, making both of us laugh. "You know, I read his Anna Karenin last week," she offered tapping the copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace I'm reading. "Or Anna Karenina, as Edward told me is the correct translation."
"Did you enjoy it?" I asked, I'm planning to read it once I finish.
"It was amazing, but just so incredibly sad," she replied, grinning. "But I suppose I can't spend eternity reading and rereading Jane Austen."
"I have to say, I find the transitional orange to be stranger than the red or burgundy of post feeding," Carlisle mused. We'd been talking about Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, which seemed appropriate. It's been three weeks since my 'encounter' with the hunters and my eyes are rapidly losing their redness and transitioning back to gold.
"Orange has never been a color that looked good on me," I threw out trying to make a small joke, which didn't really work. I began again after a moment, "Perhaps it's the fact that you're used to our kind having red eyes, but the orange is an indication of failure…"
"I don't view it as failure," he cut me off, moving to sit next to me on the edge of the long back porch of the lodge. It's the middle of the night and we'd been watching the aurora borealis, one of my favorite things since Alice and I'd arrived here. Tonight is the first night they had appeared in several months, the sky is awash in an eerie swirling green.
I radiated his frustration back toward him, "Carlisle, I know the family means everything to you, but I'm callin' a spade a spade. Unlike Raskolnikov I was never goin' to be able to cover up my crimes. The sign of guilt is right in the color of my eyes."
"The parallel you set up is far too easy," he threw back at me. "Is Alice not your Sonya? The one for whom you will find your redemption?"
"I'm not sure there's such a thing as redemption for those like me," I replied after a moment. Through all our discussions this one is the question that for me remains unanswered. Is there really any sort of a salvation for someone who had done the things I had done? I know Carlisle believes it to be so, but Edward believes we're all damned. If that's the case, then what is the point of it all? Why not give into our baser instincts? Yes, I have found more peace in this lifestyle, but the shame most of the family associates with 'slipping' is a new concept.
"Once again we come back to Saul, he persecuted the Christians, and God forgave him," he returned. "Christ gave salvation to the criminal with whom he was crucified, in Luke. I believe if our hearts are pure then we all can be offered grace, even when we sometimes fail.
"I suppose one of the reasons I am attracted to Dostoyevsky in the first place is, like him, I fear a world without the presence and grace of God," he continued, staring off into the distance. "The check on behavior that Belief brings. Look at the southern wars. Look at the atheistic state in what was once Russia. What they are doing to their own citizens."
"I understand and respect what you're sayin'," I offered in return. "And in you I see grace and forgiveness. But for me, that doesn't translate into belief." That is really one of the core disagreements we've had.
"Who knows," he chuckled, nodding, he understands my reluctance to embrace his beliefs, "perhaps in a few years you will change your mind. I can hope," he grinned, turning to look over at me.
"There is that," I smiled, sharing the comfortable silence between us.
"In the mean time," he said after a while, "there is nothing that says just because I believe in you we should not take precautions. Perhaps it is best for the time being that you feed often?"
"I think that'd be best," I conceded. I'm actually relieved by this suggestion. Emmett and Edward only feed once a week, Carlisle even less; I had been reluctant to bring up my fear that only feeding when they do might not work for me. I don't want to be the weak link. "I had been thinking of suggesting that myself."
"Perhaps as we go forward, as you become more accustomed to this lifestyle, we can test your limits…"
"Esme told me, while you were at work, that you've been offered a position at a hospital in Oxford," I said walking through the door of Carlisle's study, sitting opposite him.
"Yes," he grinned in return, his face reflecting the excitement radiating out from him. "Queen Mary Royal Hospital in Oxford has offered me a position."
"What does that mean for the rest of us? Well, I suppose for Alice and me to be more specific," I asked, somewhat unsure. Esme'd assured me earlier that the family as a whole would make the decision, and that everyone was expected to go if that was the choice of the majority, but I had to admit having my own doubts as to if I was really ready to live that close to humans. I can't, however, ignore Carlisle's excitement.
"We will have a family meeting after we hunt tonight," he began, "we all will make the decision together. As for you and Alice, you are both part of the family; my hope is that you choose to come with us if that is the decision we make. There are excellent prep schools in the area where I am sure we can get all of you enrolled. While the prospect of school might seem odd for you, the others have found it to be an easy way to live in an area for a good amount of time without raising too much suspicion And then I think both you and Edward, in particular, would very much enjoy matriculating at one of the Oxford colleges. I myself attended New College in another life."
"Before your change?" I questioned, he'd never offered this information.
"Yes," he nodded "the colleges were all strictly religious and theological institutions then, I studied there in preparation to succeed my father."
"I'm not sure I'm ready for such close living," I offered, after a few moments, being honest of my wariness at living that close and having that much interaction with humans. Despite the one slip, it's been fairly easy here; we're in the middle of nowhere, that's not likely in England.
"Jasper," he returned, looking straight at me, "I don't thing we will ever know if you are ready until you try. I know it will be a challenge, but I also know that it is one that I believe you are up for. And I want you to know this; I am not just saying I think you are ready because I would like to live in England again. We will continue to take the precautions that we have recently, but I think you are ready. And you will have the family to support you, and Alice, of course."
I nodded, feeling the sincerity of his confidence in me, which meant more to me than I could've anticipated the day we met.
"Esme and I would go first. Find a house for us outside of the city," he continued once he knows I've really taken in what he said.
"Well, if we're goin', then I think I should find my own way there, maybe by way of Greenland and Iceland, meet y'all there," I suggested after a moment. "I'm sure Alice would be happy to travel with me."
"Probably not a bad precaution," he returned, his head tilting to the side. "No I do not think you would do well either cooped up on a ship for a week or in one of the new passenger planes."
"No," I chuckled, shaking my head, "that sounds like a sure recipe for disaster."
"Emmett might even enjoy traveling by way of Iceland or Greenland," he mused. "And there is nothing wrong with taking precautions that is one of the keys to living this life…"
Mapledurham House, Mapledurham, Oxfordshire, England
I waited till Carlisle's odd friend Alistair left before going downstairs to knock on Carlisle's study door.
"Jasper," he smiled, turning from the mullioned window looking out toward the gardens. Esme is probably out there, she'd very much enjoyed taking up gardening since we moved here six years ago. "Come in." It had never struck me as coincidence that we rented a house outside Oxford that was a near contemporary of Carlisle. "What may I do for you?" his accent had become more pronounced and clipped in the six years he's been back in England.
"Actually, I was hopin' to do something for you," I smiled.
"Oh?" he chuckled, his smile widening.
"Yeah," I held out the book I brought with me. "This is one of the books I've read for my World War II class."
"They Thought They Were Free, by Milton Meyer," he read off the spine.
"It's about a small village in Southern Bavaria during the Nazi movement and its rise, how these ordinary men thought they're doing good, bein' patriotic, all the while being whipped into a monstrous frenzy and turnin' into people that they ultimately didn't even recognize," I relayed. "I thought you might enjoy it. I very much did."
"Sounds interesting. Perhaps they are teaching you something worthwhile at Merton after all. Who knew?" he quipped, making me laugh. The friendly rivalry that had developed between Edward and Carlisle's shared experience at New College and my decision to attend Merton is ongoing. "I will begin it tonight."
I turn to leave to head back upstairs - I still have a great deal of reading to do before my Early and Medieval English literature tutorial with Professor Tolkien tomorrow and after that more reading to do for my upcoming All Souls qualification exams - he called out softly, "Thank you, Jasper."
I smiled over my shoulder, sending out wordless acknowledgement in the way only I can, conveying more than I ever could verbally just how much I appreciated everything Carlisle had brought to my life.
(1) This is an idea that has rolled around in my brain for a while. Carlisle clearly completely trusts Jasper with the safety & security of the Cullen family. Edward even trusts Jasper with Bella's safety in Twilight. But they have lived such disparate lives when they meet, so how did they develop friendship & trust? The thing they seem to have in common is scholarship. Jasper studies philosophy at Cornell in NM, and SM says that his most distinctive trait is his scholarly nature. It would seem that this is a place to begin with the two of them, and Jasper has been out of any sort of loop for the better part of a century, I don't really see much sitting around reading philosophy, political pamphlets, poetry or novels in the environment Jasper lived in.
(2) Merton College was established in 1264, it is the oldest Oxford College, though this is somewhat disputed. New College (College of St. Mary) was established in 1379, and is the musical center of Oxford. It also has a very socially progressive motto, "Manners Makyth Man," (in English which is unique too) meaning neither heritage, property, nor money make a man, instead it is how he treats his fellow man that counts. I felt this fit Carlisle well.
(3) JRR Tolkien was both the Merton Professor of English Language & Literature, associated with Merton College, and the Rawlinson Professor of Anglo-Saxon, associated with Pembroke. For the purpose of this story he would be fulfilling his duties at Merton College. Tolkien retired from Merton in 1959.
(4) All Souls College is the only completely post graduate college at Oxford. Only a tiny handful of fellows are admitted each year, one would have to graduate at the very top of your class to even qualify to apply to attend (Current enrollment is 8 fellows to give you an idea).
(5) They Thought They Were Free, Milton Meyer, (1955) is an absolutely phenomenal book I read for a class during my undergraduate days. If you're a history buff I cannot recommend it strongly enough. It's one of the few non fiction books I have read again and again because I find myself wanting to revisit the lessons to be found within.
(6) Lastly, but very importantly, it's been almost 2 ½ years since I wrote or posted anything; so, I owe absolutely oodles of thanks & gratitude to the fantabulous FantasyMother for betaing this for me, and generally holding my hand through my shaking off the rust neurosis I went through. I seriously could not have done this without you.
This playlist is long, but it could be longer. I listened to many of my favorite (male) Texas country to write this, feeling the rooty & grittier feel of much of it really gives me the feel of Jasper. Well, that and some classic Willie, Waylon, & Jerry Jeff. Plus, if he's alive somewhere I know he would listen to Red Dirt music, rather than the crap that comes out of Nashville. He's a Texas boy! This is pretty extensive because I doubt many people who live outside of Texas or Oklahoma have ever heard of much, if any, of this stuff, so I thought I'd share.
New Year's Day, Charlie Robison; Walkin' Along the Fenceline, Wade Bowen; Lost Hotel, Wade Bowen; Broken Reflection, Wade Bowen; If We Ever Make It Home, Wade Bowen; Somewhere Beautiful, Wade Bowen; Why Makes Perfect Sense, Wade Bowen; Into the Arms of You, Wade Bowen; From Bad to Good, Wade Bowen; Stoned, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Comal County Blue, Jason Boland and the Stragglers; Outlaw Band, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; God Is Mad At Me, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Bottle By My Bed, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Down Here On Earth, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; One Cord Song, Stoney Larue; Solid Gone, Stoney Larue, The Road Goes on Forever & The Party Never Ends, Robert Earl Keen; I Love Being Lonesome, Roger Creager; These are the Good Ole Days, Roger Creager, I Got the Guns, Roger Creager; Long Way to Mexico, Roger Creager; Having Fun All Wrong, Roger Creager; Cryin' Moanin', Roger Creager, The Everclear Song, Roger Creager; Bad Case of the Blues, Roger Creager, Love is Crazy, Roger Creager; A Good Day For Sunsets, Roger Creager; Habit, Roger Creager; Man I Used To Be, Roger Creager; Cowboys & Sailors, Roger Creager; He Carries Me, Cory Morrow; Radiates, Cory Morrow, All Said & Done, Cory Morrow; Love Finds Everyone, Cory Morrow; Worth It, Cory Morrow; Gettin' Ready to Rain, Cory Morrow; Bulletproof, Reckless Kelly; Ragged as the Road, Reckless Kelly; Beat of Your Heart, Cory Morrow; Lawrence, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Dead Man, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Seventeen, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Ghost of a Man, Jack Ingram; Flutter, Jack Ingram; Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, Jack Ingram; Barbie Doll, Jack Ingram; Texas On My Mind, Pat Green; We've All Got Our Reasons, Pat Green; Crazy, Pat Green; Galleywinter, Pat Green; Carry On (Original Version), Pat Green; Beaumont, Hayes Carll, Bad Liver & a Broken Heart, Hayes Carll, It's a Shame, Hayes Carll; She Left Me for Jesus, Hayes Carll; Long Way Home, Hayes Carll; Middle of the Night, Charlie Robison; Beautiful Day, Charlie Robison, Down Again, Charlie Robison, Nothin' Better To Do, Charlie Robison, Reconsider, Charlie Robison; If the Rain Don't Stop, Charlie Robison; Barlight, Charlie Robison; Copperhead Road, Steve Earle; My Hometown, Charlie Robison; Live Forever, Billy Joe Shaver, Georgia on a Fast Train, Billy Joe Shaver; Pearl Snaps, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Last Country Song, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Time in Hell, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Lonely by Choice, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Somewhere Down in Texas, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Drinkin' Song, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; If I Ever Get Back to Oklahoma, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Alright, Jason Boland & the Stragglers; Gringo Honeymoon, Robert Earl Keen; Fifty Dollars & a Flask of Crown, Bleu Edmonson, Kick in the Head, Cross Canadian Ragweed
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