Five months have passed since Bella's birthday party. The Cullens are gone, but Jasper returns, not knowing what to expect. New Moon AU.

Chapter 1 Prologue

Jasper POV

Time flew by fast. Days turned into weeks, then months and suddenly it was January.

They say it's like that when you're having fun.

I wouldn't know. I could hardly remember the last time I had any (real) fun. Figuratively speaking, of course. After all, as a vampire I was equipped with a perfect memory, which, in my opinion, was more of a curse than a blessing. There were things I've seen and done, I would gladly erase from my mind. But I couldn't. I was forced to live with my memories, all of them, forever … or at least until someone would finally manage to get the better of me. Not to sound cocky or anything, but the odds of that ever happening were in fact rather slim.

Whatever …

Come to think of it, there was a moment, last spring, when we hunted down that tracker. Killing James, ripping him into pieces and setting him on fire - that was certainly enjoyable. Not that I took great pleasure in killing, not anymore at least, if ever, but back then I wanted to kill him thrice over. Not for pleasure, well okay maybe a little bit, but mostly to take vengeance. After all, James tried to kill a member of my family – a new one and a human to boot, but a member nonetheless. In my book, that was a good enough reason to take drastic measures.

No one was allowed to screw with my family.

Not even me.

Especially not me.

That's why I left. And even though it pained me to stay away, I had no intention of ever returning. How could I? I was barely able to look at myself in the mirror, much less face my family.

Minor correction, my former family, or at least that's what I assumed they were now. And rightly so, after what I did …

My mind was made up, but apparently Peter didn't get the memo.

He cornered me one day in the woods behind the house, catching me completely off guard. Admittedly, that was quite the accomplishment considering I was an empath. I really should have seen, or rather felt it coming. But I didn't. But then again, it wasn't really a surprise. I'd been far too preoccupied with myself to notice that Peter's patience had finally reached its limit.

Usually he tried to keep a tight lid on his feelings – mostly to spare me – but not right now. You didn't have to be an empath to see that he was pissed. His face spoke volumes, not to mention his tone of voice and stance.

"Jasper, you know Char and I love you, and respect you, but enough is enough." Typically Peter, never one to beat around the bush, he came straight to the point.

"I don't know what you mean."

"Nice try, Major." He snorted, seeing right through my feeble attempt of deflection. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. If you are aiming for the Sourpuss-of-the-Year award, congratulations, it's yours. Really, five months? That's a new record. Just suck it up and grow some pairs."

"Yeah …" I grunted in agreement. Peter was right. It was about time that I pulled myself together. Spending the last five months moping around had been a waste of time, not to mention shamefully embarrassing since there had been witnesses. Not that Peter or Charlotte would rub it in. Not to hurt me on purpose anyway, but still showing weakness like that was … inexcusable.

"I know, you miss your old life … even though I will never understand why." Peter said, with a shake of his head. I didn't comment on his jibe. We've been over this a thousand times. I knew where he and his mate stood when it came to the Cullens. "But I get it. You've spent the last fifty years with them. They were your family, your anchor. And now that it's gone, you feel lost."

"True." I agreed, even though it wasn't necessary to say it out loud. "But maybe it's for the best. Let's face it. Someone like me had no place among them."

"Maybe," Peter allowed, though I could tell that he was itching to say something entirely different. Something like, I told you so. But he didn't. "But even so, you need to say goodbye. You need to make amends. You need closure – once and for all." He insisted in his usual 'don't you dare try and fight me on this, I know better anyway' kind of way. And of course I gave in, like always, because I knew it was pointless to argue with Peter, especially when he was like that.

Peter sure was one of a kind. I wasn't exactly certain what his gift was, or if he even had a gift to begin with, but he was certainly special in his own way.

"I just know things." He said to me once, shrugging it off when I asked for details, clearly not willing to elucidate. Maybe he didn't even know what his gift was. I've never pushed the matter, just accepted him and his crazy quirks. But sometimes he just freaked me out with his insightfulness, the innuendos he threw at me, reluctant to put them into plain words.

But then again I've always known I could trust him, without reservation, even when we had totally different opinions about things. He'd quickly become my best friend. No wonder, after all we've been through together. He was the only person who knew every detail of my life and accepted me for who I was, and vice versa. We were brothers in the every sense of the word, well, almost every.

"And you probably want to get some of your clothes and your personal items back." He added as an afterthought.

Peter had a point. Not the part about my clothes. I couldn't care less about them, because I could easily buy new ones. But when I left Forks, I left in such a hurry that I hadn't been able to take any of my precious belongings with me. My guitar, my books, and the few reminders of my human life I've been able to hang on for all those years. Not only did I want them, I actually needed them back. And of course Peter knew this too.

I tried to tell him that I would be okay doing this trip on my own. But of course Peter had to disagree. "No fucking way. You are not ready to deal with them on your own."

Even without saying their names, I knew he was talking about Alice and Edward – my lovely wife and my dear brother. I thought about objecting, but going by Peter's persistent voice I knew that he wouldn't budge on this. And to be honest, I wasn't quite sure if I would be able handle the reunion all by myself. As short as it might be, it surely wouldn't be pleasant. And Peter's calming influence could turn out to be useful.

"Fine, be that way." I grumbled. No need to sound too eager accepting his offer … well other than laying emphasis on my pathetic display.

Needless to say, Peter wasn't fooled. He clapped me on the shoulder, chuckling as he walked back into the house.

A couple days later I sat on the porch in an old, but comfortable rocking chair, staring into space, once again lost in my thoughts. It was the night before our departure, and to be honest I was a bit nervous. Even after all the talking Peter, Char and I had done over the last days.

It was near dusk and still quite warm for the season. Not that it mattered, since my kind was pretty much impervious to temperature changes. But the warmth was still pleasant.

There was no need to look up, I could hear and feel Peter coming out to join me.

"We both should hunt before we leave tomorrow." He announced, and I agreed, although I wasn't really hungry. With a playful wink he added, "And of course, I need to say a proper goodbye to my wife. So please, take your time."

I groaned, rolling my eyes at him. He just smirked and turned around, reentering the house. I didn't linger, quickly making my escape into the nearby woods.

Peter's and Charlotte's relationship was very similar to Emmett's and Rose's, at least when it came down to the matter of sex. I was just glad that they at least were a little bit more understanding, more sympathetic to my current emotional state that they tried not to bother me too often with their lusty feelings. Hearing them was hard enough, but being able to sense and thus being forced to experience it myself, without actually experiencing it, was something I was so not in the mood for. Most of the times, I just took off leaving them alone in the house … for hours at the time, just to be safe. Just like now.

I didn't take me long to find a herd of deer. With pinpoint precision I took down the biggest one, draining it quickly before getting rid of the carcass. Even though Peter and Charlotte were feeding on humans I stuck to the animal diet. Funny, I hadn't even once slipped up in the last five months, although there was no one here to whom I had to prove myself ... well no one except me. Carlisle would be proud of me.

Carlisle.

I sat down on a tree stump, putting my head in my hands. Thinking about Carlisle brought back all the feelings of failure and disappointment right back to the surface. I'd tried very hard to bury the memories of that dreadful evening, the one event that had changed everything … Bella's 18th birthday party. But to no use, every time I closed my eyes I could still see the horrified expressions on each and everyone's face.

Esme, my mother, Carlisle, my father, Emmett, my brother, Rose, my sister – all of them had been shocked to the core. But the worst had been Edward and Alice. Besides the horror and disappointment, there was something else, underneath the surface. Something I couldn't put my finger on … Disgust? Fear? Realization? I still wasn't sure.

Why did Edward have to throw Bella into that table? Of course, I'd snapped. I just couldn't help it. The magnitude of all the emotions had been too much, clouding my judgment, making it impossible to make rational decisions. I had acted on pure instinct.

Emmett and Rose had dragged me outside right after, trying their best to calm me down. And in a way it had worked, but not in the way they had expected. Sure, as soon as I had been out of the house, the fog had lifted, my mind had been clearer. Clear enough to make a decision. Sitting there on damp grass in the backyard of the huge white house I realized that I could never back in, never face any of them. It had been all too much for me to handle and I knew what I needed to do. So I took off, and ran.

Sure it hadn't been the first time I'd screwed up but this time had been totally different. Draining a random human was one thing but when you try to kill a member of your own family – especially someone as innocent and lovely as Bella – then you undoubtedly were a monster. I just knew there was no way my family would forgive me for what I did. Hell, I couldn't even forgive myself.

When I came here all these months ago, on foot by the way, I had been shaking like a leaf. Sure Edward had always been the fastest in the family, but that night I had run faster than ever before. Driven by the need of putting as much distance between them and me, I had made it to Arizona in record time. The feelings of anger and self-hatred had been rolling of me in waves. I hadn't been able to get control of my own emotions. I'd really thought I might be losing my mind.

Of course, Peter had been happy to see me, considering that we had seen each other just a couple of times in the last decade, but as soon as he'd taken in my condition, he had shown nothing but concern and love. At that time I had been sure that his first thought had been that I had slipped up once again, but he hadn't voiced it. One look into my eyes probably had answered that question. But gladly, as soon as I had been in his presence I finally had been able to calm down completely, and get a hold of myself and my feelings.

The next two weeks Peter and Char had kept their distance, giving me time to settle in. They hadn't pushed me, hadn't forced me to answer questions, they'd most certainly had. In fact, we had barely seen each other in those days. Peter had sensed that I'd needed time and had given it to me, for which I had been very grateful. But finally, after 16 days, he'd cracked and demanded an explanation for my sudden appearance on his doorstep.

I told him everything, from the first moment Bella had entered my life to the night I'd tried to kill her. He'd had been very patient and attentive, listening to my story without interrupting me once. Even when I told him that I'd just took off shortly after the incident, he hadn't commented.

I had been such a coward then, and I still was. Afraid to face my family. I hadn't called them once in all these months, and what made it even worse they hadn't tried to contact me either. I was pretty sure Alice knew exactly where I was, and she still hadn't called. That fact just confirmed my suspicions. They all were still mad at me, disappointed in my behavior. And I couldn't blame them, because I felt the same. But I knew that it was time to make things right, apologize to them and put the past behind me. Otherwise, I knew I wouldn't be able to move forward. To wherever my future would take me...

With a sigh I stood up and slowly made my way back to the house.

Revised and reposted on May, 11th, 2013