I do not own Twilight or any of its characters. I do not, in any way, profit from this fanfiction endeavor: all creative rights to the characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just copying off her coloring sheet.
This is a bit of a continuation from my other story, In My Power, but you should be able to read this on its own, also. If you are not familiar with the details of Jasper's past, I encourage you to read Chapter 13 of Eclipse, as I do not reiterate it within this account.
This has been finished since before Christmas, but ill health and subsequent complications have prevented me from posting it. Let's just say Christmas and New Years is extended, so that this, my present, might be considered to be timely for such celebrations. In my haste to get this posted for you, I did not run it by my beta, and I have not revised it since its original drafting. My most sincere apologies—for all of the aforementioned.
In a flurry of motion, a flash of white and yellow flew from its hiding place beyond the tree line, circling and separating us with well-practiced grace and power. My instinct to protect my mate had flared within me, already a full-blown blaze; a warning growl and my defensive posture released before I could recall them. All too late, I realized there had been no threat.
There hadn't been—but now, there was.
If it had ever been a fleeting thought that my life might become routine and predictable, as it was for so many vampires, there was infinite evidence that it never would.
Even as Emmett became more settled in the year and a half that followed his change — as much as he could while still a newborn— it was clear to us all, in that indescribable manner of certitude, that it was time to move on. Though Esme was saddened to say goodbye to our home, the first she had designed, she was more than excited by the prospect of creating something entirely new, while still integrating familiar elements.
Edward was content with the decision to uproot, and especially with the opportunity explore new territory with his family, as his lonesome, rebellious period had given him a permanent distaste for solo travel. Furthermore, he was also invested in sharing in my own hope for this venture—it had been over thirty years since I had attended medical school, and I intended to find a university at which to matriculate.
Edward and I were enrolled in the University of Oregon's Medical School in Portland for the Fall of 1937. Having purchased a large section of land in the vicinity of Hoquiam, Washington, it was far enough away from major cities to lessen the continuous struggle of my family with their bloodlust, yet close enough to Portland for my son and me to run for classes.
There we settled.
Much to the chagrin of the native wolves.
Eight years passed quickly and easily, and I was a newly, though actually renewed, licensed doctor. Edward chose not to do his residency, though I thought he would have made an excellent physician—the academic pursuit had been more interesting to him than the practice.
We celebrated by traveling north and spending the summer in Canada, hunting and spending long-desired time together as we'd not had in nearly a decade.
Predictably, though none of us could have guessed it, we came across a most unusual find in the Denali National Park—
Another coven of vampires, much like ourselves. As we shared our families' histories, it became startlingly clear that all I had ever fought to believe about our kind was true. My family was no longer alone in our beliefs, our way of life not unique, as we had once thought.
For the first time, it felt as though the burden of this unending battle with our darker natures was not placed solely on my shoulders, as the leader and supporter of my family—Eleazar made sure that was clear through every word and action in his dear friendship with me. We were allies, now, fighting a common, strong, and unyielding enemy; and together, we would continue to ensure our families' victory.
We stayed in Denali for many years, much to the delight of our newfound friends. Now as much a part of our family as Rosalie or Emmett, it was not unusual for disputes to arise among the younger members of the clan. Whereas Edward remained relatively solitary, especially under the unwelcome advances of Tanya, Kate, and Irina—sometimes all at once—Rosalie was hardly intimidated by any of their indelicate claims of erotic talent and made it known, well and frequently.
Though any major contests were, thankfully, avoided, it seemed to be almost impossible for six females to live in such close proximity without a multitude of heinous grievances being thrown about on any given day.
Though it seemed as only a moment, I looked to find that yet another half of a century had passed in my life, and the year nineteen hundred and fifty was settling in. The forests of Denali were heavy with winter, the snow deep, and the chilled air thin.
Rarely do moments seem weighty which are precariously balanced on the precipice of a new beginning—it was the twists and turns that I never saw coming that produced the biggest impact on my existence, and, consequently, that of those I love.
"Shh, shh—it's okay! It's all right!" The foreign, tinkling voice drifted in from outside, carried to me as swiftly as the scent of its owner.
My reading was forgotten as soon as my name passed through my wife's lips with a breath of concern, and I raced outside, only to have her meet me halfway. She nearly collided with me just in front of the porch, her hands slipping within mine as I asked what was the matter.
She didn't need to reply.
Standing not ten feet away was a small girl, no more than five feet tall. Her short, black hair was neatly curled under at the ends, barely reaching her chin, though jagged pieces had come loose from the style, possibly from running. An overjoyed expression graced the fine, gentle lines of her small face, in which was set two unmistakably golden eyes.
This small girl was a vampire—one that fed from animals. Was there yet more who sought our way of life?
And she was positively vibrating. Bouncing on the balls of her feet, her fists were clenched at her sides while her eyes darted nervously—or, perhaps, excitedly—between Esme and me. If a snarl had been in the place of her impossibly wide grin, I might have been wary of some sort of attack. I expected a small measure of suspicion with this girl's sudden appearance; yet, I felt nothing but happiness…and confusion, that I was so entirely devoid of concern.
My attention was split as I caught a second new scent: that of a male. It came indirectly from the girl, but the source was somewhere in the forest, some one hundred yards beyond where we stood. Though my eyes scanned the tree line, I heard no movement beyond the normal susurrus of the woods. Without a doubt, there was a mate with this stranger, and I was unsettled by the fact that he had not yet shown himself.
"Carlisle, I'm not sure…" My wife's again anxious voice regained my full attention, as I was certain she could also sense that something was not right with this situation.
Quite suddenly, the girl let out a high pitched squeal, and launched herself at us, arms stretched wide. "Esme!"
Without thought, though I didn't feel threatened, I pushed my wife behind me, bracing an arm before me to ward off the possible attack as a defensive growl formed in my throat.
My head whipped toward the sound of the masculine shout just as the tiny visitor's shoulder brushed my fingertips. Though there was no one in sight, she and I were pushed apart by a mighty force—and before I could even react, I was pinned, staring up into the battle-worn, snarling face of my attacker. Venom frothed at the corner of his mouth as he hissed, and several pieces of his haphazard, honey-colored hair fell into his furious expression while I fought to regain the freedom of at least one of my limbs.
His burgundy eyes widened in victory as my fear grew intensely with the realization that he did not mean to release me—
Worse yet, the feeling suddenly evolved to a petrifying terror as his hands took the proper position upon my head to remove it from my body.
I heard Esme's voice faintly, as though she were anesthetized, if it were possible. "No. Please…"
"Jasper! Stop it, you overprotective fool!" came the bell-like voice from above us.
Jasper, as she called him, froze for a moment before his head was wrenched backwards, quite suddenly. I could see the tiny Alice standing above us with a solid grip on his hair, firmly and repeatedly tugging to accentuate every word with a determinedly frustrated expression upon her fine features.
"That's Carlisle! You can't behead Carlisle!"
Shooting me an apologetic smile, she released the mane at the same moment her mate leapt from me. Had I not been so shaken, I might have admired the grace of the synchronous movements.
Esme was at my side, simultaneously assessing my state of being and helping me up, though I did not need the assistance.
As quickly as the frenzy had begun, it was as though it never had. A complete and total calm—unnatural and inappropriate, though it did not feel so—had settled over our small group. Though I was not one who was quick to anger, I had expected to feel a certain amount of offense at having been accosted so rudely.
I locked eyes with the young man who had been so malevolent only moments before, and he looked away, toward his mate. I could tell that surrender was not natural for him, in any form.
Alice was, again, the first to speak. "Sorry about that. I guess I just got a little too excited. Maybe we should do introductions before I start volunteering hugs."
"Yes," I agreed. "That is usually customary."
She giggled. "Oh, this is so much better than I thought it would be! I'm Alice—and you've already met Jasper…sort of."
"You're Dr. Carlisle and Esme Cullen, of course," she finished for me, and I blinked, taken aback. "Emmett and Edward…" she trailed off, her eyes looking in my direction, but unfocused.
"They're away, hunting," she finished for me. "It's a shame they can't be with us, but it'll be all the more exciting this way, trust me."
At that moment, Rosalie walked around the house in return from her morning with Kate and Irina. She froze when Alice turned to face her, while Jasper kept a wary eye on me.
"And Rosalie Hale! You're even more stunning in person. This is going to be just perfect!"
Rosalie's expression changed from curious to pleased. "I'm not sure what you mean by 'in person,' but thank you." She looked beyond Alice to Jasper before turning her gaze to me.
"Who invited the creep?"
Jasper's left cheek twitched. "Jasper Whitlock, ma'am," he nodded, his jaw tight.
Alice stepped closer to Rosalie and introduced herself. "We're going to be sisters. Isn't that marvelous?" Both girls disappeared in a cloud of snow as Alice threw herself, for the second time that day, and claimed her target in a hug.
Though I had half expected Rosalie to be madder than a wet cat, she and Alice stood—laughing.
"Alice, is it?" Rosalie sighed, collecting herself. The young woman in question affirmed it. "Would you mind telling me why I don't want to throw you into the nearest solid object?"
"Oh, that's Jasper—he's helping me out a bit. He's very talented."
"Talented?" I queried.
Once again, those piercing, scarlet eyes landed on me. He smiled lightly, the expression more sinister than it was friendly.
I was suddenly lost in the empty agony of despair, the likes of which I had not felt since the light of my family had entered my life. I was suddenly startlingly aware of the organ that lay like stone within my chest, every ounce feeling like a ton as it bore through my very soul, dragging me down—
Then, it was gone; replaced with the deep warmth and indescribable joy I felt whenever my wife was near me.
Still, that had barely taken hold before it, too, had mostly vanished—that is, until Esme put a hand to my forehead. "Are you all right, Carlisle?"
"You can manipulate emotion," I stated, more than asked.
Esme gasped. "You did that…to us…when…" she stuttered, a hand at her mouth in slight shock as she realized what had occurred during Jasper's would-be defense of is mate—when she had sounded so numb, though her words ought to have held the intensity of one who was about to see their spouse dismembered.
Jasper simply nodded, averting his gaze and looking slightly ashamed. Suddenly, Alice was at his side, her arms wrapped tightly—though awkwardly, for her limbs were small—about him.
"It's okay, Jasper. I told you: this is our new family, and they're going to love us—both of us."
"Yes, about that," I sighed. "I'm afraid we're still a bit in the dark—"
Alice's eyes widened. "Oh, of course. How silly of me! I can see the future—well, sort of—and I've been watching you for a while."
"Alice, that sounds menacing," Jasper warned.
"Yes, I suppose it does sound a little…"
Esme's hand found mine once more, and she smiled up at me quickly before addressing the two new arrivals. "Why don't we all go inside to discuss this? You both look like you could use a hot bath and some clean clothes."
Alice scurried over and surprised me with a fierce hug, taking both Esme's and my hands, and tugging us inside.
"Hurry up, then! Now that I don't have to wait, I simply can't!"
We talked through the night, Alice's seemingly endless verve enlivening what might have otherwise been a rather serious discourse. I began by telling my own tale, from my beginning in London to my starvation-induced epiphany, to a brief outline of my travels through Europe and the Americas.
The effervescent young woman was particularly interested in hearing about "her brothers and sisters," as she already referred to them. I wondered, vaguely, if my level of comfort with the idea had more to do with Jasper, or with the inevitability of it all—perhaps, after all these years, there was little left in this world to surprise me.
Once Edward, Esme, and Emmett's arrivals had been summarized, for I knew they would likely wish to tell their own versions, Alice delineated an impressively detailed account of her and Jasper's history.
"…that was two years ago that we finally met, and we've been looking for you ever since," Alice concluded.
"It was rather difficult for a while, because I tend to see the things that might be in addition to the things that have been even tentatively decided—it gets sticky trying to sort through it all. Nothing was absolute—until Jasper."
She smiled at him, then, the type of smile you upon which you almost feel an intruder; and though he only looked at her from the corner of his eye, a similar grin spread through his features. Her sanguinity was contagious to us, but to him, it was obviously irresistible.
Of course, Jasper's own tale had been extensively more involved, while also immensely lacking in detail—it was clear he still didn't trust us, proven further by the rigidity with which he sat beside Alice, one arm tightly wrapped around her, protectively, and the other's fist tightly clenched at his side.
Rosalie attempted to remain unimpressed, but I could tell her attention was completely captured—she hadn't touched her hair in hours. "So, you don't remember being human at all?"
"No," Alice sighed. "I've always hoped some vision would come, even the smallest intimation of a clue to who I was. But…nothing."
Alice seemed to acknowledge the awkward moment, yet chose to change the subject. "Ever since you decided to move to Alaska, we've been readying ourselves to meet you. As you can see, I've been practicing feeding from animals—even Jasper has been…trying."
She took his hand and kissed it, reassuringly. From his downcast gaze, his pale lids obscuring the outcome of his trial, it was obvious that his attempt had been futile. If he felt any indignation at the slightly condescending tone of Alice's comment, he remained silent and unresponsive.
I could feel nothing but compassion for him: it was clear that Alice had already made herself at home, and he was willing to stay wherever she was happy, despite his immense level of discomfort. My respect for this man was growing by the moment, despite our first encounter. I hoped the feeling wasn't of his own doing.
"Esme, I'm positively ready to burst," Alice wheedled. "For ten minutes, you've been about to offer me a tour of the house, and if I don't find out what room will be ours within the next five, I'm going to scream!"
As the three women stood, laughing, I couldn't help but feel as though this might be a good time to speak with Jasper—as much as I wanted to learn more about him, I knew it was wiser to gain his trust before attempting to pry. Though he was not as old as I, he seemed to have just as much experience, if not more. Clearly, the wars in which he had been had left more than just physical scars, and I had a feeling there were several wounds which would need to be reopened before they could heal.
With as little as I knew of him, I feared that might be a dangerous procedure, for anyone involved. Beyond the understandable "don't tread on me" attitude, there was a cruel edge to his ability, which made it difficult for me to want to trust him—regardless, I very much wanted to. In fact, I was almost certain that he needed me to, whether he acknowledged it or not.
He began to walk away with his wife, and I seized the brief opportunity.
"A moment, if you would, sir."
He stopped, placing a hand on Alice's shoulder to halt her progress, also. She brushed it off and turned in the same motion, walking backwards as she spoke.
"It's fine, Jasper. He just wants to talk."
"We've just been talking," he asserted, looking over his shoulder in suspicion, as his back was toward me.
Rosalie and Esme paused by the stairs, shooting each other confused glances as Alice trotted the short distance and leapt lightly, wrapping her arms around Jasper's neck and resting her forehead on his, her feet dangling about a foot and a half off the ground.
For several moments, they stared deeply into each other's eyes without the slightest movement to give away any communication that might have been taking place. They were as a painting: you could see the story in the still life; dark aligned with light, beautifully composed and contrasted in its silence.
And then, with a fluid motion, Jasper lowered her the ground, ducking his head to kiss her quickly before whispering, "All right, you win," and watching her walk back to join my wife and daughter.
As she floated up the stairs, for her small steps could hardly be considered mere walking, her song-like voice called, "I love you, too!"
As the former Major turned to me once again, his gaze accepting, yet guarded, I gestured to the front door. "Shall we?"
He nodded, seriously stating, "After you."
After so many years of abiding with my family, it was a stark reminder of reality, at the least, to be in the company of the "usual" sort of vampire again. So practiced was my family—and even Eleazar's coven—in the façade of humanity that Jasper's physical and conversational silence was almost uncomfortable. As we toured the area, and I explained our hunting patterns and regions of game, it was impossible not to notice how his blemished, granite-hewn features remained unchanged by my affable remarks or witty repartee.
It was difficult to draw him out, as he seemed more interested in keeping a firm grasp on his surroundings than in giving greater than one-word answers to my questions. Being honest and open was the best way to pique his interest, so I began a discussion about my family and its members. Not only a strategist, Jasper also seemed to be immensely intellectual, delving into the deeper ramifications of having a family with such gifted members; he viewed this as a sort of tactical strength; of this he was correct, however unimportant the matter was to us.
He was scheming, I could tell—silently collecting a profusion of personal arguments against our lifestyle, preparing to present them to Alice in the hope of leaving. He was not convinced, as she seemed to be, in the certainty of their future in our lives. His primary concern was for Alice's welfare; though, obviously, if he were not persuaded that this was in either of their interests, his forceful leadership would dictate that his decision overruled hers.
"You're concerned by my pointed questions," he stated. "Not that I blame you for distrusting me." His eyes scanned the area around us, so quickly I might have almost missed it. It might have been the longest sentence he had yet spoken.
"I think you will get along well with Edward," I speculated. "Either that, or you'll drive each other insane. You both seem to think your ability predisposes you to omniscience."
Jasper stopped in front of me, turning, his expression hardened. "Your concern has grown with each successive question I ask, which leads to the belief—"
"That I'm concerned you will leave."
He froze, cocking his head slightly to the side as he eyed me with confusion. "We've come without invitation, I attacked you, and, at the moment, Alice is preparing to take over your house. It ought to concern you that we will not leave."
I laughed, placing a hand on his shoulder. He flinched, but did not pull away, looking at the gesture as though it was foreign before squarely meeting my gaze.
"You are both here for a reason, and you are more than welcome. If Alice's ability is as she explained it, then I could not possibly be more delighted at the invasion. You can probably imagine, over the past fifty years, that I've learned not to argue with what is handed to me."
He grimaced. "Alice is overconfident."
I took a moment to consider the true meaning of his statement before acknowledging it aloud.
"You mean to say that you feel Alice is overconfident in you." He was completely still, no movement to give away any reaction to my statement. Either I had hit a nerve, or he was calculating a deliberate reply.
"I think you sell yourself short, Jasper—you are not as lost as you assume."
He snapped into motion again, creating an extra two feet of distance between us and squaring his shoulders, which, I didn't realize, had been much more relaxed.
"Actually," he stated without pause, "I just can't be any less than I am."
"And what are you?"
"I…" He was unable to finish, however brazen he might have begun, and I could see the defeat begin to settle in his eyes—it was only momentary, however. Surrender was not an option for him: perhaps he was, already, better suited to our lifestyle than he knew.
"I am not weak," he declared. "Nor am I stupid—both you and Eleazar have connections to the Volturi. Either you have created your covens for them—trapping potential pawns for their force—or you are collecting them for your own purposes, in rebellion. Either way, I have no wish to be caught in the middle of someone else's game. Not again."
Sighing, I realized now that, indeed, he had been wounded—deeply. His gentle and caring nature with Alice was proof enough that he was not simply a soldier. Someone with his ability, who personally experienced, and could manipulate, every joy and ache of those around him, yet chose to not maliciously abuse that power, could not have a heart of stone. No: beneath that cold and calculating exterior was a heart, a soul hewn of the purest gold, whether he remembered it or not.
Regardless, before me stood an intensely defensive, hostile character, and the iridescent scars that danced across his skin made him all the fiercer in his appearance. The pain sustained from such wounds was akin to a branding iron, and I could only imagine the strength he must have had to endure such agony. Yet, the prominence of Jasper's disfigurations spoke only to me of the pain that had not yet faded—the kind that no external mark could measure.
Without plot or agenda, I wanted to stop his suffering within; furthermore, I was almost certain that he was meant to find healing within the sanctuary of our home.
He wheeled, suddenly, turning back in the direction of the house.
"I don't need your pity," he ground out.
I followed, knowing he was finally listening. "I'm not giving it—I respect you far too much."
Jasper skidded to a halt, but did not turn to face me. I took it as a good sign: it was the first time he had allowed me to be in close proximity while not in his direct line of vision.
"You've no reason to respect me, unless you find my past deeds meritorious."
"You might think as much, particularly after our initial meeting," I replied, feeling the assurance flow through my every word. There could be no doubt in his mind that I was being entirely truthful. "However, it is rare for one of our kind to have the amount of faith that you possess, and I hold you in the highest regard for it."
"Faith?" he scoffed, looking at me over his shoulder. "You mistake me, sir."
"You came here with Alice. You are the dominant one in your relationship, are you not?" He nodded once, tense and keeping me in his sight as I walked to stand before him. "You could have overruled her suggestion to find our family, yet you did not. That speaks volumes of the faith you possess."
I could tell he was repressing a growl. "I trust her. She's the only one in this world who has never given me a reason not to."
"And love plays a great hand in that trust, does it not?" Though he did not react, I could see Jasper's eyes soften, the smallest amount of tension releasing around the scarlet orbs. I thought back to my own life before Esme, compared to what I was now after the transforming power of her love. "Speaking from experience, faith is the foundation of trust and love—none of them is mutually exclusive."
His gaze met mine squarely, giving nothing away. I could feel the defensiveness radiating from him, and I knew it was best to avoid discussing his mate until he trusted us better.
Slowly, and with caution, I stepped forward until I was within reach of him. He tensed, but did not recoil.
"And I don't mean to feel sorry for you," I explained, "though I can't help my compassion for all you've been through—I can't imagine such hell. But I have been in this world for a while, and I can attest to the fact that you will not find a more healing environment than you will within our family."
He deflated a little, though his intense aura did not.
"It won't work," he stated, definitively. "If it weren't for Alice, I wouldn't even be here. I doubt I would be much of anywhere." There was a slight tremor in his voice, nearly indistinguishable amidst its deeply accented lilt. It was the unmistakable sound of absolute hopelessness; I had heard it countless times within my own speech in the years and decades before Chicago.
He steadied himself quickly, however, and I couldn't help but wonder if he was drawing on some of my own current, serene state to assist. "She already fits so seamlessly into your coven. I fear this situation will do nothing but divide us, because I can never adjust to your…particular choice in diet.
"Make no mistake: I would do anything to make Alice happy. She's everything to me. But I will never be a part of your group; and, so far, I'm not sure I want to be. I know nature well enough to know that if something has not the will to change, it will not."
Immediately, I could see the weakness in his argument—Jasper could read others like the written word, yet he knew almost nothing of himself.
"I do not know you very well yet," I said. Jasper scoffed, but I ignored it. "However, I do know this, for you admitted it yourself: you left Maria's because you were…how did you put it? Unhappy?"
I mirrored the action, though the gesture was unconscious. My mind was otherwise engaged as I chose my words delicately. This man was clearly not one with whom to deal lightly—and he was obviously an enthusiast of action before consequence. Yet, I allowed my words to flow sincerely, however checked; any obvious attempt at diplomacy would distance him, being too close to his own experience of contest.
"You felt hopeless until you met Alice—which seems to indicate some degree of guilt. Would I be correct?"
Jasper scowled, clearly indicating that, again, I had brought the conversation into delicate territory. "My actions were unbefitting of such an honorable position—what Maria had done was wrong."
I grinned widely, for he had just verified my suspicions. "If you have such a sense of honor, of right and wrong, then would it not follow that you also possess some semblance of a conscience?"
He did not react.
"Of course," I granted, "as you said: if you do not possess the will to believe me, there is nothing I can say to convince you of the truth. But I would invite you to explore the possibility—and to stay with us while you do."
"We will stay, so long as there is no threat."
"To you and Alice?"
He nodded once, sternly.
I leaned against a nearby tree, though its support was unnecessary. Something in the familiarity of human habit was soothing to me at the present, and I let it flow through me, restoring my confidence. This was turning into a battle of wits for Jasper, and I did not wish to argue, only to encourage.
"You move too much," was all he said, eyeing me warily. "It's unsettling."
"You'll find we're all rather practiced in such effect—we often find ourselves in human company, and we wish to integrate more naturally."
"It is anything but natural."
It was an anticipated response, almost scripted in its widespread hold within the greater castes of our kind. I ignored the haut remark. "We digress. You think my family to be a threat?"
"I do not know yet. You seem to be fairly harmless, but we have yet to meet two of your males."
I laughed, already thinking of how Jasper would react to seeing the stupendous frame of our newest addition. "Edward and Emmett are hardly menacing. You may find Emmett likes to pick a fight, but it's only ever in sport."
"And this…Edward. He is the only one without a mate." It was a statement heavy with accusation.
Ah, so this was what concerned him—he feared Edward as a rival. "Yes, but—"
"Alice speaks of him often. Their association seems to be more established in her sight than any other, and it is disconcerting. Beyond that, I've found those with…psychological traits to be the most lethal in their tactics; not to be trusted."
"Edward is my oldest friend and closest companion, besides Esme, and I know you will see my estimation of him to be partial and subjective." Again, he silently affirmed his agreement. "However, you will find no contest with him once you have met—I can already tell you have much in common."
"Mutual interest does not infer mutual trust. He has not taken a mate yet, and I'll see him as dust before his eye wanders to mine."
Though his words were filled with ire, his expression of them was entirely calm—almost disturbingly so. It sparked the allusion of an idea within my thoughts, which soon cast light onto an understanding, which, until then, I did not realize that I knew.
"We seek the same thing that you do, Jasper," I recognized him informally. His eyes, which had been affixed to my person before, fell to the side. It was the first time I had outwardly used his appellation, and it was suddenly an incredibly important matter—or, at least, it was to Jasper, and he had chosen to share that sentiment with me: it bordered on that of being significant, or seeming pleased—but it was mixed with an absolute sense of urgency.
"What am I looking for?" he quietly asked. The question was almost more to himself; and I smiled, for I, too, had asked myself that many times.
A purpose, was often the answer I had found. However, now that I knew it—as the leader, father, husband, and, least of all, doctor that comprised Carlisle—there was a greater one, without and beyond it, for which each and every one of my kind strove, whether or not they knew it. It was what drove us to sate our almost perpetual thirst; to suppress our conscience and kill without thought or reason; to form covens; and yes, even to mate. Beyond security or greed, even surpassing happiness and love, there was one thing for which we reached—but it was that which most of our kind could never attain.
"Peace, sir," I replied.
Jasper mouthed the word silently, his gaze taking in the form of a snow-covered boulder to my left. Then, slowly, as the concept took hold, a light began to glow from within his ensanguined irises, spreading outward from the dilated pupils; his icy features melted as a March frost to an April dawn.
I moved forward, standing squarely before him and looking deeply into his guarded expression.
"I say none of this to convince you," I averred. "I can tell you are not a man to be told anything; nor would I want to. But since seeking peace and equilibrium is at the very heart of your ability, it seems only right that you should have that opportunity without needing to dictate it. If you are willing, at the least, to try to live as we do, I know you will find what you are looking for: because I have."
He straightened immeasurably at my statement, and all at once, it was inconceivable that he was ever anything but Major Whitlock.
I sensed first Esme, then Alice arriving from the east; as I looked into his downcast gaze, I could feel the hope rising within me along with the acceleration of the small woman's footsteps.
Or, perhaps, it was his.
Within a second's time, Alice leapt into Jasper's arms, kissing him soundly upon all eight scars that adorned his face. His lips parted into a wide grin as he held fast against the assault until, at last, she captured his lips.
"I consider this your official surrender, Whitlock!" she sang before launching another attack.
"My, she is quick!" Esme laughed as she caught up. Upon seeing the two so engaged, however, my wife shot me a mischievous look before copying the exploit and planting herself firmly within my embrace. The force sent us both backwards a few feet, and I found my back against a tree before I could catch myself, the shock sending a shower of snow from the branches above, coating us in a small avalanche of powder.
Alice giggled, "Looks like you're victorious, too, Esme!"
Esme smiled and turned within my arms to face the other couple, almost abashed. Though untamed in private, open displays of love often made her feel self-conscious. I, however, did not share that sentiment, and pulled her against me as I nuzzled her neck in retaliation.
"Yes, it seems as though I have," she shied away from my attentions, instead taking my hand and pulling me back toward the house. "You've got your Major, Alice, and I have my Surgeon General."
I couldn't help but contain my laugh, saluting, in jest, to Jasper as I passed. He nodded, a tight smile upon his mouth; however, he was also engaged: Alice was pulling him along at a rapid pace.
"You simply have to see our room—it has the most amazing view, and it's all prepared, so all we need to do is furnish it. Of course, you don't need to, but you're more than welcome to come to Anchorage to help Esme and Rosalie and me pick out the things we'll need…oh, never mind—you don't want to. But that's all right," she patted his arm, taking the necessary breath to continue. "You're going to love it. We've never actually had a room of our own, so I've taken great pains in ensuring that everything will be just perfect!"
With a squeal, she leapt upon his back, hugging him tightly about the shoulders. He chuckled, twisting and stretching with athletic prowess as he brought her to his front, an arm beneath her legs and another around her waist as she rested her head on his shoulder. He seemed perfectly content to never get a word in edgewise, so perhaps my estimation of him had been somewhat inaccurate—whereas I had thought him to be withdrawn because of his mistrust, it seemed it was just his nature: to observe and absorb, and interfere only when necessary.
"Yes, of course you'll carry me across the threshold once it's finished," Alice sighed, smiling at the house, for we were approaching it. "We can pretend we're married!"
Esme barely contained a gasp—I chuckled, knowing precisely what she was thinking. She and Alice seemed to share a meddlesome streak.
"You're not married?" she sighed. "Well, that just won't do…"
I had thought to leave it here, oh reader, but there were too many questions left in my mind. Therefore, it became a two-shot. Enjoy…