The End is Only the Beginning: A New Moon Contest

Title: How could I love him?

cheesebananas'n'twilight4Gail

After almost killing Bella at her birthday, Jasper comes to her house to apologize. But while he's there, he confesses his true feelings for her, and it turns out that they're mutual. But they don't know how to tell Edward and Alice – until Edward provides the perfect alibi...

I don't own Twilight, or the song that gets on everybody's nerves!

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Time for my birthday party. Yay, I thought sourly as Edward drove me to his house for the painfully unnecessary party Alice had insisted on throwing for me. Or, rather, for her benefit and enjoyment, and my impending discomfort.

Although she had promised not to go overboard, for her that probably meant no 3-tier birthday cakes. I sighed at the prospect of what she would do.

"Should I be afraid?" I asked Edward.

"Absolutely," he grinned. I groaned under my breath.

The rest of the relatively short journey passed uneventfully, and we pulled into the drive, where Alice was waiting. She yanked open my door before the car had come to a complete halt, and pulled me out impatiently. I was promptly dragged into the house.

"Happy birthday, Bella!" she announced.

Esme, Carlisle and Jasper were standing in the room, that much I'd expected. But Emmett and Rosalie were also present, Emmett grinning like an idiot at my presumably red face.

"Hey," I mumbled to them. "I thought you were in college halfway across the country!"

"We were. You didn't think we weren't gonna come back for your birthday, did you?" Emmett grinned. I rolled my eyes at him.

"Open your presents!" Alice demanded, dragging me to a small, decorated table by the arm. I would have bruises tomorrow.

Edward was back by then. He took my hand and squeezed it gently as Alice thrust a gaudily-wrapped package at me. I opened it up – a CD.

"That one's from me and Jasper," she told me.

"Thanks," I said, smiling.

"And this is from Carlisle and Esme." She handed me a smaller package.

"Damn," I exclaimed as my finger jerked against the wrapping. A bead of blood appeared.

The atmosphere in the room changed immediately. What had once been an infuriating but good-natured birthday party was now a scene from a horror movie. Edward threw me behind him and I could no longer see what was going on. He pushed me backwards just as I heard something – or someone – crash into him. He stumbled back a step while I was still reeling from the blow.

A sharp, stabbing pain shooting up my arm forced me to tear my frantic eyes from Edward's defensive figure. There was blood running down as far as my wrist.

Great, as if a damn papercut wasn't awful enough, I thought grumpily. I opened my scrunched-up eyes a fraction of an inch, and the sight had calmed some. The room was almost empty, apart from Edward and Carlisle. Edward was crouched in front of me, his eyes filled with concern and a touch of anger. That anger – and most of the concern – faded when I finally opened my eyes fully.

"Are you alright?" he asked me, obviously trying not to concentrate on the blood flowing freely from my arm. I nodded weakly, and he narrowed his eyes.

"Why did I even ask?" And with that, he scooped me up and sat me on a chair near Carlisle. I winced, and he smoothed my hair back from my face.

"What happened?" I asked. He looked at me quizzically, as if to ask how I didn't notice.

"Jasper," he replied darkly. Of course. He had the most trouble being a 'vegetarian'.

"Ah, Bella," said Carlisle, interrupting my silent musing. "I'm stitching you up yet again." He failed to suppress his resounding chuckle.

I blushed . If only I hadn't gotten the stupid papercut, I chastised myself. A stinging in my wrist alerted me to the fact that he was taking the glass shards out with a tweezers. I slid my other hand into Edward's to calm myself. He squeezed it gently.

"This will only hurt a bit," Carlisle assured me, sliding a long needle from a medical bag. I looked away and swallowed audibly.

"Can you honestly say that this is scarier than what just happened?" Edward whispered, a hint of a smile in his velvet voice.

"Of course," I countered, playing along, "that's a needle. Far scarier than a vampire."
I could imagine him raising his eyebrows, but I still didn't so much as incline my head in that direction as I knew I would throw up if I did.

Although, however hard it was for me, it was infinitely worse for Edward. How he could stand there so calmly while there was blood everywhere was a mystery to me.

"Edward, you can go if you like. You know..." I gestured to my arm.

"It's fine," he insisted. I opened my mouth to try to persuade him otherwise, but Carlisle beat me to it.

"I think it would be best if you did, Edward. Jasper is... Very disappointed with himself. I think you would have the best chance of getting through to him right now."

Edward sighed, resigned. He nodded sharply. He didn't want to let Carlisle down, or he would have protested more adamantly.

He rose fluidly and departed, leaving the room in silence. Carlisle had nothing to say as he stitched my arm up, until the end.

"Well, then, you're done. Shall I go and get Edward?" he asked, already moving to do so. I nodded, and thanked him.

"How's you're arm?" Edward asked as he led me to his car.

"Alright. How's Jasper?" I replied in the same tone.

"He's... ashamed. He probably won't get back for a few days, though. Just to be sure."

He didn't say it, but I heard the poignant "Thank goodness" at the end of his sentence as clearly as if he had.

"Edward?" I asked timidly.

"Yes?"

"Please don't give him a hard time on my behalf. He didn't mean to do it, and like you said, he feels terrible."

I don't know where the urge to defend Jasper came from, but it was for good reason. Edward would most definitely have given him a hard time if I hadn't asked him not to, and he probably still would.

"Okay," he replied after a few minutes of driving in silence, the only sound being my still-pounding heartbeat.

"Thanks," I whispered, knowing he could hear me. He didn't respond, but we had reached my house by then.

"You'll stay, won't you?" I asked, looking up at him with a look I hoped didn't seem too desperate. An emotion clouded his face, but I couldn't tell what it was.

"Sorry, Bella. I have to hunt."

I tried not to let my desolation show. I hated it when he had to go hunting. I could never sleep properly.

"Goodnight," he murmured, and leaned down to kiss me. I closed the distance between our lips in an instant.

He pulled away too soon, as usual.

"Goodnight," I whispered, but he was already driving away.

I entered the house, said a quick hello to Charlie and ascended the stairs to my bedroom, where I flopped onto my bed, fully-clothed, thinking about the events of that evening. Okay, so I was nearly killed. What's new there? Not a great deal.

I must have fallen asleep, because I woke with a start when I heard a light tapping on my window.

Edward! was my first thought. Maybe he had postponed his hunting trip until tomorrow night? I pulled the curtain out of the way, but leapt a foot in the air when I saw the silhouette framed in the dim moonlight.

Jasper? What's he doing here? I thought. It didn't occur to me until a few seconds later to open the window and find out.

When I did so, he didn't come straight in like I would have expected. He jut stayed there looking at the ground, as if he was embarrassed to meet my eyes.

"Er... Come in?" I said awkwardly. I took a step back, and he climbed inside.

"Hello," he said after about a minute of awkwardness.

"Hi," I replied.

"I, uh... I just wanted to apologize. You know, for earlier."

"It's alright."

I didn't know what else to say. I couldn't exactly get mad – it's not like he meant it, and it was ultimately my fault. But this answer didn't seem to satisfy Jasper's obvious guilt at all.

"No, Bella, it's not alright. It's about as far from alright as anything can get. I almost killed you. If that's alright, what's your idea of bad? How am I any better than – than James or anyone else who's ever come that close to murder?"

I tried to soothe him, for he was almost yelling now, but he carried on regardless.

"I am a murderer. I've taken innocent lives, but I swore to myself that it ended there. Never again. But look at me now!"

"Jasper, it's not your fault! I should have been more careful. I'm sorry."

He carried on in a softer voice, sensing how I didn't like his anger. I wasn't scared of him – I could never be afraid of Jasper, though I could see why some people might be.

"Bella, what would have happened if we weren't vampires? Maybe we wouldn't have found a band aid in time. But, no, because of me, you have stitches. I know, you may be used to stitches – you'd have to be, with your luck. But I'm sure you don't enjoy them.

"And it could have been so much worse. To be honest, with everything considered, you were lucky to get out with mere stitches. I nearly killed you. And... I don't like seeing you hurt."

That last line shocked me, but not as much as his next action. He grabbed my hands, leaned in and crushed his lips to mine.

My shock registered but for a moment, then I was kissing him back.

This is what it's like to live, I thought, forgetting about the trivial facts such as that I had a boyfriend, and this was his brother...

Edward...

The name made everything slot into place all of a sudden, as if I had been floating in space, and suddenly I'd found my place of orbit.

So, everything sorted, right? I would just tell Jasper to leave, and we could pretend it never happened. Right? I was, by now, asking myself desperately in the futile hope of finding a sufficient answer. But no matter what way I thought about it, I reached the same conclusion – I never wanted this to end. This was better – far better – than the best experience of my life. And so, I quietened my churning mind, and let myself enjoy it while it lasted.

Finally, he pulled away.

"I'm sorry. That was... wrong. Awfully so," he apologized, his deep golden eyes g=filled with remorse. I so wanted to correct him, to tell him that it was unequivocally right, but I knew it wouldn't help the situation.

"Don't be sorry," I whispered. "Just tell me – why?"

"That's a very broad question. Why... what? Why did I kiss you? Or, attacked you, really. That wasn't nice." Oh, it was. Trust me, it was very nice.

"Yes. Why did you kiss me?"

I emphasized the 'kiss' in the sentence. It was most definitely not an attack.

"I've loved you ever since I first laid my eyes on you. That's why," he said bitterly. "But I know you don't feel the same way." He gave a wan smile. "We can pretend this never happened, for your sake. I'm sorry, Bella."

He turned to leave.

"Wait," I choked out. "Don't go. Were you... were you serious?"

"Yes, I was. And I'm sorry. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

He spoke without turning around.

"Jasper, no. I... I love you, too."

My statement almost surprised me, but I found that it was true. I'd been masking my feelings all this time, never dreaming that I would ever have Jasper as anything more than a brother. And so, it was this crazy situation that surprised me more than my feelings.

"Really?" he whispered, his voice verging on skeptical.

"Yes. Really."

I closed the distance between us, and laid my head on his marble chest. He reached out and put his arms around me.

"Would you like me to stay?" he asked, tilting my face up.

"Yes."

I couldn't decline. I wanted it too much.

"Alright then." He lifted me up and lay me on the bed, and kissed my forehead. He sat on my rocking chair.

"Jasper?" I yawned.

"Yes?"

"What about Alice, and Edward?" He didn't answer for a few minutes, but when I was almost asleep, he murmured, "I don't know."

I drifted off almost immediately – I don't know how much it was helped by Jasper's ability. When I woke, he was still there – part of me had doubted, had wondered if last night was a dream. But apparently it wasn't, and I couldn't stop smiling when I saw that he had.

"You stayed," I said needlessly.

"Yeah, I suppose I did." He smiled a bitter smile.

"What's wrong?"

His behavior worried me. Did he regret his actions? Did he only stay to explain that to me, and was he going to just... leave? How could he expect me to forget the immense change that had gone through me the previous night.

The anxious questions were endless, but it took him a few minutes to come up with an answer.

"I'm wondering. How do you feel right now?"

"Shouldn't you know?"

"I should, but I don't. Your emotions are... swirling. And I don't know if that's good or bad." The expression on his face was indecipherable.

"It's good," I smiled. "I'm happy." He breathed a sigh of relief.

"What about you?" I frowned.

"I'm happy too. Delighted, even. But... I don't know, I just feel guilty."

"Yeah. Same here." What an understatement. I felt terrible, but still happy, like I'd done the right thing, which I most certainly hadn't.

"I still don't know what to do about them." 'Them' was obviously Edward and Alice. We were already at the 'us' and 'them' stage, then.

"Yeah," I repeated lamely. "Same here."

"Tell you what," he began. "Pretend nothing's the matter, for now, while I think of something."

"But won't Edward..."

"Read my mind?" That puzzled him. "I'll try not to think about it. But that will be... hard." A hint of a smile tugged at the edges of his lips.

His head suddenly jerked upwards as if he'd been electrocuted.

"He's coming."

I sprang out of bed and practically shoved him out the window. He pressed his lips against my forehead one final time.

"Goodbye," I whispered, but he was already gone.

I dressed quickly, and ran downstairs just as the doorbell rang.

"Hi," I said breathlessly (I hate running!), after opening the door wide.

"Hello," he replied, seeming amused by my flustered state. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah," I replied, grabbing my conveniently-placed bag.

Everything was fine until we had nearly reached the Volvo. Edward stiffened.

"Someone's been here."

"Don't be silly," I lied. I don't know how I managed to tell a convincing lie (Well, I thought it was convincing, anyway.), but it must have been the severity of my reason for lying. I couldn't let him know. I would when the time was right.

"I'm not being silly. This is serious."

"Edward, no one was in my room last night."

"How do you know?" he asked skeptically.

"I... couldn't sleep." He frowned.

"Do you want to skip? You could probably use some sleep."

"No, I'm fine."

"Still, though... It definitely smells like someone's been here."

"You're just paranoid," I laughed. He smiled too, but I could tell he didn't completely buy it.

School was drearier than usual. I couldn't think of anything but Jasper, and when I saw Alice at lunch, I couldn't help but blush. She regarded me suspiciously, but said nothing.

After school was worse. Edward came over, as per usual, and I found that... awkward. I didn't think I would – it should have been easy to pretend that nothing was amiss, but it wasn't.

The odd thing was, Edward wasn't acting completely normal either. He was detached, and distant. He didn't speak much, considering the fact that we had plenty to speak of. I waited the whole afternoon for him to address the previous day's events, but he never did. To be honest, it rather annoyed me. This would have left me devastated if not for... certain things. And, of course, he knew how upset I would be, and he didn't know that I wasn't upset, yet he still did it.

Is this confusing you? It's certainly confusing me. Not half as much as my incoherent feelings were, though.

Edward left soon after coming, promising to be back later. I didn't expect Jasper to come too, but he did. Bad move, really, considering the fact that Edward would be there in less than ten minutes from when he arrived. But in spite of that, I was thrilled to see him, as if it had all been a fading dream and I couldn't tell if it was real until he arrived.

Wonderful as it was, the look on his face told me it was bad news.

"You didn't think of anything?" I asked, not bothering with a greeting.

"No," he admitted. I tried not to be disappointed. After all, I hadn't expected him to come up with something at such short notice, but I had hoped.

"I'm sorry," he added.

I didn't try to comfort him with words, opting instead for a hug. We sat resting our heads on each other's shoulders for quite some time, but suddenly Jasper's head sprang up. The same word snapped me out of my dream-like state and threw things into reality again - "Edward."

I sprang from the bed, dragging Jasper with me, and pushed him out the door.

"Go out the front door as he's coming in. Don't go before, or he'll see you. Go!" I hissed.

"Goodnight," he smiled, and took off down the stairs.

"'Night," I whispered, even though he was already by the door. He probably heard me, though.

I was pretending to be asleep when Edward climbed through my window. I don't know when I actually dropped off. Soon afterwards, anyway. Sleep was fitful and, oddly, dreamless. It was a relief from the sharp reality of, well, reality. But I couldn't escape Edward when I woke up.

"Hey," I yawned.

"Hi," he smiled, but it didn't reached his eyes. What was up with him? I was seriously beginning to wonder.

He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead before leaving with a distant "see you later."

School was much the same as the day before – monotonous. But Alice wasn't there.

"Where's Alice?" I asked Edward in the parking lot.

"Jasper was very upset with himself – Alice has gone with him to Alaska so he has a chance to calm down."

I resisted the urge to ask where Alice really was – he couldn't know that I had seen Jasper.

He didn't even come over that day. I didn't ask why, and he didn't give the answer himself.

But Jasper did. I was wondering if he would come again. After getting over the initial shock of seeing him in my room, I cleared my throat and said hi.

"Hi," he smiled. "I have bad news... Or good news. I'm not sure."

"What is it?" I asked. He had roused my curiosity.

"Well, I've figured it out..."

Excellent. Now that he knew what to tell them, I wouldn't have to lie, and live in fear of people seeing through my pretense, anymore.

"That's great! What's bad about that?" I demanded.

"It was Edward who decided it for me. He... he's leaving, Bella. He thinks you're not safe with our kind, and he's making all of us come with him."

The last sentence was the only one that provoked a hitch in my otherwise steady breathing. All of them? As in, Jasper too?

"I didn't know how you would take it," he continued sadly, gauging my expression.

"When you say all of you..."

He looked up at me suddenly, realizing the reason behind my discomfort.

"I'll come back," he promised. My quick bout of anxiety was over almost as soon as it had started.

"Yay," was all I could think of to say. Jasper chuckled.

"I wasn't going to come today," he said suddenly, his words sharp and staccato. "I would have left a note. I know you found it hard, to feel so conflicted...

"But now that can end, right? I mean, you are happy? I know you can't exactly be elated, but you'll be alright, won't you? It's not like I can do anything to change Edward's mind. He's adamant. But if you like, I don't have to stay... I don't mind..."

Was he really so unsure of my feelings for him? Did he honestly believe that I would let him go without some sort of tantrum? Some empath he was.

"Ssh, calm down. Of course you're staying. There's no question. And I don't want you to change Edward's mind."

This seemed to placate him sufficiently.

"When?" I asked tentatively, wanting to avoid any question that might upset him again.

"Tomorrow, after school. I'm already gone, by the way," he grinned.

"Alaska?" I grinned.

"How did you know?"

"I asked Edward where Alice was, and he said that she was with you in Alaska with Tanya's family."

"Won't it be suspicious to Edward, and Alice, for that matter, if you're here?"

"Edward is staying in our old house, with Carlisle and Esme, for convenience. And Alice thinks I'm seeing some old friends, Peter and Charlotte."

"No, but are you... You know, staying in Forks? Later on."

"Yes. I won't tell Alice anything. She'll just think I've gone my own way."

He grimaced. I knew he hated hurting Alice.

"And Edward won't be with my family later. He won't be fit to be around anyone." He smiled a harsh smile to go with his cryptic remark.

"Why?" He had made me genuinely curious.

"He would murder me if he knew I was telling you... But I already told you he's leaving, so what do I have to lose?

"He's not leaving you because he doesn't want you. It's purely because he believes that you're not safe around him... But if you're not safe around him, I shudder to think of what he'd do if he knew..." He was talking mostly to himself now, but he then looked up as if he suddenly remembered that I was present, and continued in a normal tone of voice.

"He does love you, Bella, I can see that. It's killing him to know that he'll probably never see you again. I should know, and I've been trying to stay out of his way lately – he's making me suffer with him subconsciously. And, of course, I can't let anything slip..."

That's when the penny dropped. How did Edward not read Jasper's mind, and know all? Everything would be ruined – he'd rip Jasper to shreds. Literally.

Jasper picked up on my worry, and smoothed my hair.

"I've lived with Edward for a long time now, and if I haven't learned how to keep him out of my head by now, I've learned nothing," he smiled.

"How?" I wondered.

"It's a song he detests. I sing it in my mind constantly."

"Sing it!" I demanded. It couldn't be than annoying.

"I know a song that'll get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves. I know a song that'll get on your nerves, and it goes like this... I know a song that'll get on your nerves..."

He repeated the song, which sounded like the most fantastic melody in his voice, another three times. I was laughing out loud at the end of it, and so was Jasper.

"'Night, Bella," he said as I pulled the blankets tighter around me.

"'Night," I yawned.

I was alone when I awoke, but there was a crackling of paper under my head.

Sorry. I had to go, I didn't want to arouse suspicion. I'll see you later. Good luck with Edward.

~Jasper xx

I didn't allow myself to be sad. Not arousing suspicion, as Jasper said, was the most important thing. And I wouldn't need good luck with Edward. I wasn't going to let him leave without feeling very, very guilty. I would yell at him, I decided. He deserved it. As far as he knew, he was breaking my heart.

And, oddly, throughout school, I was anticipating the moment when I got to do just that. Edward was silent all day, which also bugged me. So I decided to make it as hard for him as possible at the end of the day.

"I'll follow you to your house, okay?" he asked, no waiting for a response.

"No, it's alright. You can go be with people you'd evidently rather spend time with. It's fine by me," I smiled.

"Bella..."

He didn't finish the sentence. A flash of pain shot across his carefully composed face, but not enough to make me reconsider my guilt trip.

"Okay, come if you want. I don't mind."

I gave a more genuine smile this time, a more trusting smile, because I now had a better way of going about it.

"Do you want to come for a walk with me?" Edward asked, gesturing towards the trail in the woods after we had gotten out of our separate cars.

"Sure," I said, grabbing his hand and entwining our fingers together. It felt wrong, but it was necessary. He didn't try to pull away.

He stopped with the road still in full view.

"We're leaving, Bella."

"Okay," I grinned. It was best to let him think that I thought I was coming, too.

"I mean my family and myself."

"I am part of your family, silly."

I retained my smile.

"Bella, I... I don't want you to come with me." I could see the pain in his expression as he said those words. I let my face crumple as well.

"But you said you loved me."

"I'm sorry, Bella."

With that, he walked away. At the top of my voice, I started yelling, "I know a song that'll get on your nerves..."

I kept on singing it for six verses, when he finally rushed back. Damn. I hadn't been expecting that.

"How did you know?" he breathed.

"I know things," I replied.

"You know so much about me." He said it so sadly that it almost made me sad. Almost.

"Bella, I – I can't leave. I'm not able. I do love you, and I do want you, and -"

"No."

"What?" He seemed honestly perplexed.

"I don't want you."

"Bella, please..."

"Goodbye, Edward."

OK, so maybe I had layered on the meanness a bit too thick, but I hardly regret it. I ran back to my house when he was gone, and Jasper was waiting outside. I ran right into his arms.

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