So, this is the itsy chapter that I uploaded by accident ahead of schedule. And, I think some of you might have missed the last chapter in the confusion. And for those who did read this chapter already, it has been altered a little from the last version because I wasn't happy with Jasper's lack of awareness with emotions and neither were some of you.
So, thanks to all my readers for being patient with me and I hope you enjoy this chapter.
Would you love a monsterman?
Could you understand beauty of the beast?
I would do it all for you,
would you do it all,
do it all for me?
Would You Love a Monsterman – Lordi
She was pushing me, she had to be. She had to be testing me. That had to be the reason she didn't stop running for nearly two days. But she wasn't feeling the least bit superior or competitive. She was, however, nervous and every once in a while I would feel a wave of her disgust. Had disposing of the newborn really disturbed her this much? I had barely thought of it.
But of course, she wasn't used to it. She hadn't learned to survive the way I had. She hadn't learned that our longevity depended solely upon whether or not you were able to kill your opponent before they killed you. No doubt she thought she was flawlessly immortal. No doubt she thought all of our kind enjoyed her many years. I swallowed back my bitterness before I let it seep into her. It wasn't her fault.
She stopped suddenly, collapsing into the snow a step ahead of me. She spread her arms and legs twice before sitting up and examining her surroundings. I stared at the depression she'd made in the snow; an angel. In Mexico, the stained-glass windows in all the Churches had been abundant with similar figures. But none of them had looked as lovely as Alice's with her beautiful pixie-like face passively taking in the jagged coastline ahead of us.
I sank into the snow next to her, careful not to ruin her snow angel, as I focused on dissipating the ache in my muscles and the hellfire in my throat. No, the physical exertion didn't help my thirst in the least. But when I'd watched her throw herself on that bull moose earlier, I'd hardly been able to suppress my disgust. And that was just at the thought of what she was ingesting. It had nothing to do with the cow she'd expected me to pounce on after she was done. How could she stand it?
"Do you want to cross it or go around?" I asked, nodding at the Hudson's Bay stretching icily out in front of us.
"Around, I think. I need to look at the Cullen's more closely. And you need to feed. Your eyes are black as coal." She answered, laying her hand on my arm comfortingly. She must have read my mind, or my suffering was so obvious that even she could pick it up.
"I don't think I have enough control to do it your way." I muttered self-depreciatingly as I took out my anger on a snow ball I'd just created. "I'll just end up in whatever town is nearest." And I didn't want to this time. I didn't want to disappoint her. I wanted to be able to do this her way. But I still couldn't stomach the revulsion I had felt as I'd watched her drain the moose.
"If you . . . need to." She whispered reluctantly. But I could feel the insincerity of it. She wouldn't be okay with it if I came back crimson eyed. She wouldn't be okay with it if I didn't even try. And, quite honestly, neither would I. What was the point of following her blindly if I wasn't even going to attempt this?
Her head snapped up suddenly and my instincts kicked in before I could examine the threat as I leaped to my feet. "What is it?"
She simply pointed out over the ice, "Take the bear. Unless you don't think you can?" She goaded. This time, I knew for certain she was testing me. She had the same look in her eye Maria always had when she'd set me a task. A look that had promised just reward for successful completion of the task.
I glared at the thought. This wasn't Maria. This was Alice. And the kinds of rewards I was thinking of were probably the last thing she was thinking of. Nonetheless, I turned on my heel and marched out on the ice to the bear. As I drew closer, with every step, I found myself trying to convince myself that the bear did smell more human. Who was I trying to kid? No, the bear didn't smell at all like I was used to. It didn't smell at all like a human. But it did smell a hell of a lot better than the moose.
And there was something exhilarating about hunting it, I thought, as I lowered into a crouch. There was something a bit exciting about hunting something that was just as instinctual as I was. There was something exciting about hunting something that was sure to fight back. Something that was . . . blissfully emotionless.
I forced myself on it, plunging my teeth into it's throat, as I reveled in the way I couldn't feel anything. I could taste it, and it was hot and wet, but altogether the wrong flavor. All the same, it was bearable. It wasn't repulsive and I was able to get it down. It was better than I was expecting, to say the least. But it definitely wasn't as good as human blood. And thanks to my perfect recall, I could remember every detail of just what I was missing
When it was dead, when there was nothing left to the pile of fur and claws and teeth that I wanted, I straightened up and returned to Alice, who was smiling at me radiantly. I could feel her pride and joy, but they irked me. As though she'd doubted I'd be able to manage it. "Happy?" I growled.
She studied my face for half a second before answering. "No."
"There wont be any polar bears left if you're waiting on me to be fully satiated." I grumbled. "It doesn't -"
"I know, Jasper." She cut me off quickly. "It's not the same. But it's better than senselessly murdering people. Or at least, I think it is."
I wouldn't have thought it was in her. I wouldn't have thought such a low blow was in her character. But there it was. If I didn't agree with her, I was a homicidal maniac. "I don't like being a murderer, Alice. It's not as though I enjoy it." I all but hissed at her.
"I know. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that." And she didn't. I knew she didn't, I could feel it. She hadn't meant to belittle my struggle, but she had, all the same. "Go get one more. Then I'll be happy. And I'll hopefully know better where we're going by the time you get back."
I'd been dismissed. I wanted to argue with her about it. I wanted to demand just from where she'd come up with the authority to order me to do anything, let alone the authority to govern my hunting practices. But I had the foresight enough to know I'd just end up sounding foolish and childish. Reluctantly, I trudged away to do her bidding.
I let my senses take over as I entered the trees. I had no idea where to find another one. I had never in my life been this far north before, and even if I had, polar bear locations would not have been something I would have been paying attention to.
I was tempted, for a moment, to simply hang around for a bit before returning to her and telling her that I'd found one. She'd never know it wasn't the truth. Except I would know. And I also knew that I would have kicked any belligerent newborn to try a stunt like that's ass into next week. So instead, I focused on what the bear had smelled like and took off at a jog through the trees. Bears liked trees, didn't they?
I had gone almost an hour without any sign of anything, except a moose that had made me want to wretch and a few deer who smelled even less appealing than the moose had. I almost wished I had asked her to come with me. But my pride would never have allowed it. Really, how hard could it be? It was the search for sustenance, after all. It was instinctual, more or less.
And then I caught the scent that scalded my throat and reminded me just how thirsty I was. I was off, feet moving gracefully over the uneven ground, as I closed in on my prey. I almost stopped, almost . . . no, that was a lie. I didn't so much as pause as I burst into the front yard of the secluded farmhouse. I was, however, surprised when I saw it. What kind of people have a house way out in the middle of nowhere?
But the surprise was nowhere near enough to make me stop. The door was still open as I began streaking across the yard. An old woman was putting her cat out for the night. She saw me a moment before I got to her and let out a terrified scream before I clamped my hand over her mouth and sank my teeth into her thin skin. The blood was old and heavily medicated, but it still slaked the fire burning in my throat.
There was shouting now and the distinct sound of a child crying as I felt the last drops of the womans blood escape her body. The air was thick with fear and anger, it felt almost suffocating, pressing in at me from every side, but I couldn't stop. It tasted so good even if it made my skin crawl with self-loathing. I felt dirty from the press of emotions around me, terror, fear, anger, disgust, despair. Each of them coated onto me like a layer of grime on my skin. I ignored the emotions as best as I could as I glutted myself on the old woman's blood, ending her aged life. And then there was a shot, the deafening crack of noise that usually heralded death. I felt the bullets impact as I turned around, felt the tiny metal casings compact against the granite of my chest before I fell upon the old man who still had the rifle clenched within his shaking hands. His blood pooled into my mouth, much the same as the old woman's; thin and heavily medicated.
That was when I saw the boy. His cries had fallen silent and he was watching me with stark horror on his face. He was young, but not a toddler. I guessed he was maybe nine years old, but I wasn't good at aging humans. It mattered very little to me anyway. What was important, was that he had young, strong, untainted blood in his veins.
I stared at the boy. I needed him. I swallowed the venom pooling in my mouth as it mixed with the last of the old man's blood. As the old man's body began to slump lifelessly, the boy took a slow, cautious step back. Then another. Then he turned his back on me and ran his terror piqued to an all time high. No doubt I was a monster from his nightmares.
I dropped the old man's corpse, it fell with a muffled thump on the thick carpet before racing after the boy. I caught him as he fumbled with the lock on the back door and sank my teeth into his shoulder, groaning with the ecstasy of the taste. Young, strong, innocent blood. And the scent of the boy overpowered me, like dirt and grass stains and worms.
Then . . .
It was a full minute later that I realized what I'd done. Staring down at the bloodless corpse of the boy, I was hit by a wave of guilt so strong it brought me to my knees. I'd failed her. I'd failed Alice. She'd set me the simplest of tasks and I'd failed. Miserably. I had hardly even tried. I should have been able to stop myself. I should have thought about what I was doing.
But it was the hunt. It was what I was made for. It was what I had done for nearly a century. And I had never met a vampire before in my life that was able to cut off mid-hunt unless their life was in danger. And mine most certainly hadn't been. I poked miserably at the hole in my shirt the bullet had left. No, I'd never been in even the slightest bit of peril. I was just a mindless animal when it came to my food. I always had been.
I couldn't go back to her now. Couldn't bear the look of disgust that would be in her eyes. I didn't want to see her anger. I didn't want to see the way I'd let her down. And I wasn't even thinking about why I cared so much what she thought. I just didn't want her to see me like this. But maybe I should. Maybe I should go back to her. Maybe I should let her see just how unfixable I was. Maybe I should let her know just how much of a lost cause I was.
And some part of me wanted to hear her angry words. Some part of me, the part of me that had been trying to push her away from the beginning, wanted to see her disgust and loathing. That part of me wanted to see her disappointment and the realization that she had been wrong about me all along.
That's why I got up. That's why I went back. So she could see how weak I was. So she could do the hard part and pull out of whatever it was that was springing up between us, before it got out of hand. Because I was too much of a coward to do it myself.