Figure you out

The first time they meet, Jasper's eyes make Emmett frown and shift uncomfortably from one foot to the other. He's seen others like them certainly—the color of fresh blood as it just begins to dry and darken, bubbling with the need to kill, need to drink. But Jasper's eyes—they're mute and still, missing or hiding the monster every one of them has, even Carlisle. It isn't until he learns about Jasper's ability, feels it at work, that he starts to see the guilt and the frustration and the hope, pulsing in and out through the rise-and-fall fever of bloodlust. He doesn't really understand any of it, but at least he knows now that there's something under there, something he can grab in a fist, get under his fingernails if he just keeps digging.

The first time he takes Jasper out hunting, just the two of them, there's snow on the ground—a layer just thick enough to cover the fallen leaves and make the air smell like winter. The women are shopping, Carlisle's working a double shift at the hospital, and Edward's moping at his piano. It's the first time he's been alone with Jasper and he doesn't know what to say, if he should act loud and cheery and stupid because he still hasn't seen Jasper smile yet. It's been three weeks since he and Alice arrived.

They don't run or talk. Emmett trails behind, watches Jasper touch the trees and tilt his head to smell for prey. He curls his toes into white fluff (likes the perfect freedom of walking barefoot) that doesn't melt because his skin is cold enough.

Suddenly, Jasper darts forward and he's so surprised that it takes him at least a full second to catch up. When their footsteps align, he takes in a breath.

"Moose." He blinks. They haven't caught one of those in a while.

"I smelled it first." Jasper grins and catches Emmett off guard for the second time that day. His speed falters by a millisecond per stride and Jasper's already out of sight.

"Fuck," and then a wicked smile pulls on his lips. He's always been a sucker for competition.

Jasper isn't much faster than him, so when he reaches the clearing, he collides with his brother, shoulders making thunder through the trees, before Jasper can sink his teeth in. The moose flees but it won't make a difference to them. Emmett's not sure what he wants more—to eat or to win. And then there's something else too, that makes his skin itch, when he sees Jasper land on all fours and show his teeth.

The game doesn't last much longer. They catch and lose the moose three more times before Jasper sidesteps him (cleverly, but he'd never admit it) and puts an end to the animal's misery. Its thick, sweet fear travels northeast with the wind until there's none left.

He watches Jasper take the first drink and then lift his head up, licking wet lips but unable to catch all of it. It's messier with animals than humans, big ones especially because they have to bite wider and deeper, and Jasper isn't quite used to it yet. A thick drop of blood runs sluggishly from his mouth down his chin as he throws Emmett a loose grin, and it's then that Emmett thinks it suits him. That in this moment, Jasper's forgotten all about what he should be and what he's not, and it's kind of beautiful, the way his eyes (already half a shade lighter) crinkle so Emmett knows it's real, and how he doesn't wipe away the mess, just dips his head down to drink again.

Emmett doesn't move closer, just watches because he thinks he might ruin it—the little slice of freedom Jasper's stumbled upon (and with Emmett as the only witness, no one would ever believe it). It's these moments that he sorts into a compartment labeled Jasper so he can slowly fit the pieces together and figure Jasper out. He's pretty sure he has enough time on his hands.

Suddenly he catches another scent in the air, thinner and spicier than the moose but it calls to him just the same. Jasper's head snaps up; he smells it too.

"Rematch," Emmett crows and grabs onto a head start because there's no way he's losing twice in one day.