(A/n my hope with this chapter was to establish the relationship between Jasper and Bella a bit more and for her to realise that she's not the only one hurting. R&R as always guys, hope you enjoy =] )
"A friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else."
I rolled over again to check my clock quickly. Time seemed to flow differently for me now, defined by the events within it rather than the space it occupied.
Charlie had not been gone even an hour but it felt like a year. Jasper would take time to return.
I was left alone with my pain and my fear, feeling adrift on my bed like a tiny boat in a vast ocean.
Of course, I didn't manage to fall asleep and the minutes slipped by like treacle - each one a torture to me. I rolled over and groped blindly under the bed for the book I usually kept there.
Perhaps I could lose myself in a fantasy world until Jasper returned.
But I couldn't get into the story; the words swam in front of my eyes, taunting me with my inability. I slammed it shut and shoved it under the bed again, staying in my position of dangling over the edge to stare into the dusty darkness underneath.
My brain felt like it was running at a million miles an hour but yet it was still too slow. I felt at odds with myself and a little unsure of what to do next.
I yanked myself back onto the bed and walked over to my desk, grabbing my notepad and an old bitten pencil.
I didn't draw so much as sketch lines, shapes, and shading – stapling my feelings to the paper. The emotions that I couldn't express in life were expressed here in smudged pencil. Page after page was covered, turned over, and then the pristine white covered again. It felt good, like I was creating order out of chaos although in truth it was much the other way around.
I was so absorbed that at first I didn't hear Jasper's quiet tap on the window. My head jerked up when I heard it the second time and I put my notepad aside. However the pencil stayed with me, gripped between my teeth.
I pulled the window open, cold wind swirling around my bare feet and curling my toes.
Jasper was inside before I could blink but I took a moment to stare out at the cloudy sky before shutting myself in with my own fears.
"You seem a little… improved Bella?" Jasper had a tentative smile on his face, no doubt tasting the little peace and calm I had found in his absence. I noticed the change in the colour of his eyes – they were now light butterscotch.
I removed the pencil from my mouth to talk, dangling it between my fingers.
"A little I guess …" I shrugged then narrowed my eyes at him.
"That doesn't mean I've accepted this, or that you're welcome here."
I moved to sit cross-legged on my bed. He stood in the middle of my room, rigid in posture, as if he was still a soldier on parade.
I smiled at him, hoping to soften the blow my words had dealt.
"It's not that you're not welcome Jasper, it's the consequences this could have for us." I looked away from his beautiful eyes and face before I could be drawn in and dazzled.
"Pitiful as it is, I need you right now and you're the only one who understands. But that is…"
He interrupted me quickly, his voice deep and whiskey-smooth.
"Bella I gladly offer what little comfort I can give. And ask that I may take it in return. Without the constant consideration of what Alice has seen to colour our actions…"
He ran a hand through his curls and a ragged sigh escaped his perfect lips.
I pointed the pencil at him and waggled it.
"It's not possible for us to just waltz about as if nothing has happened Jasper."
I echoed his sigh.
I dropped my head into my hands and shook it, pressing my fingers into fireworks behind my eyes.
"I know what I believe in my heart is at odds to what everyone is telling me, but I can't just give up like that. I love him. He's the only one I could ever be with."
I removed my hands from my face and looked up to see Jasper still standing stiffly in the middle of the room, an odd look on his face.
"Sit down Jasper for goodness sake." My voice came out snappy and I sighed again, passing a hand over my face to erase the tension I could feel lingering there.
"I'm sorry. This whole situation is just weird for me. It must be even worse for you."
My next glance saw him sitting in the rocking chair, one booted foot resting on his other knee. He was a different shape to him – more long and lean. He reminded me of a jungle cat, all clean graceful lines. His amber eyes regarded me and I thought I caught a little tenderness in their depths before they iced over again.
"I know we haven't been that close Bella." An odd smile quirked his perfect lips. "Though I have to admit that was of my choosing."
I put my pencil in my mouth and looked at him, chewing thoughtfully.
"I'm not quite sure I know what you mean." It was all too easy to pick up his pattern of speech. It made me feel closer to him in an odd sort of way.
"I didn't trust myself with you Bella." He jerked his head back towards the window but even in that action his movements were smooth as if every joint had been oiled.
"I didn't ask to enter your room at first because I wasn't sure if I could control myself. I was planning on giving both of us more time. However," His eyes darkened noticeably and burned straight into mine, "once I felt your pain Bella, how could I stay away?"
I snorted, embarrassed at my weakness.
"A bit masochistic aren't you? Weren't you hurting enough already?" As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted to eat them back up again. We hadn't talked about his feelings at all– probably because he didn't want to discuss them with some human he hardly knew. I hurried to cover my mistake.
"Not that you have to talk about it or anything because I mean I haven't, but it's a bit of a stupid idea what with you being an empath and all because you can just feel what I'm feeling so there's really no point and I'm gonna shut up now."
I finished my mumbled sentence with a particularly vicious chew of my pencil and I saw Jasper's eyes flick to my mouth. He covered it quickly with a confused tilt of his head.
"Do you want to talk about it Bella?" His eyes had thawed out again and they were bright with some unknown emotion I couldn't read.
I didn't especially know where I stood with Jasper – before I guess I would have counted him as family. But with him gone I didn't really have much claim to that anymore.
I lay back on the bed to avoid the piercing glare of his eyes and instead stared at the ceiling again, leaving his question unanswered. I blew out a breath through my lips, sounding like a horse. It made me smile a little to hear Jasper's quiet laugh from behind me and I felt affection rise in my throat. I knew he could feel it but thankfully, he made no comment.
We sat in comfortable silence for a minute (or lay on my part) before I sat up suddenly.
"Oh God I've got school tomorrow. I can feel the roasting Jessica is going to give me already..."
I flopped back down with a groan.
"Just what I need, people reminding me that Ed…"
I trailed off but the rest of my unfinished sentence echoed around my head.
Edward is gone, Edward is gone…
The pain sliced through my chest again and I curled up, gasping for air. It seemed I couldn't have a few minutes with Jasper without bawling my eyes out at some point.
This time there was some anger mixed in with the pain. I wasn't sure if it was mine or his.
I seized on it, used it to wrestle myself back under control. When I opened my eyes again Jasper was crouched by the side of the bed with his hand hovering over my head. He certainly looked angry enough. Despite the fact it made him look horrifically vampiric I wasn't afraid because I knew the anger was on my behalf.
"If he wasn't my brother I'd kill him. Again." Jasper's statement was bald of emotion which somehow made it all the worse.
I think he attempted to send some calm my way but all I got was anger. He bared his teeth and growled, snapping to a standing position.
"What kind of man leaves his lover alone to cope with…" It was a rare thing to see Jasper struggle for words – it unsettled me.
"That. Whatever that may be. Bella I've not sensed that amount of pain in a long time. It's akin to the feelings of someone who's dying…"
His face lost all traces of anger as he bent to my level once again.
"You shouldn't have to deal with this Bella."
His eyes were soft with tenderness and concern instead of harsh with rage. I reached out a hand and touched it to his perfect marble cheek.
"It feels a little better already." I managed a wobbly smile for him.
He turned his head and placed a freezing kiss on my palm. I was unprepared for the rush of warmth it unleashed under my skin. I snapped my hand back to cradle it on my chest. He looked slightly amused.
"You were planning on dealing with this alone Bella… has that changed now?"
His cold fingers ghosted over my cheekbone, moving an errant curl to the side and lingering on my skin.
I struggled against the calm and intimate atmosphere that made me want to agree with whatever he said. I was sure I'd had some damn good reasons to disagree with him but they'd disappeared somewhere within the last minute or so.
I found my voice from somewhere dark within me.
"Don't underestimate me Jasper. I can cope just as well as you can."
His lips quirked in a bitter smile.
"Who says I'm coping at all? I think those trees can stand testament to that Bella."
"Well if I was strong enough I'd be ripping out trees too. I just don't see you crying all over the place."
"If it were not so desperately unoriginal I'd tell you I was crying on the inside."
He looked away then and I was sure if he could, he'd be blushing.
I teetered for a second because the question seemed risky but it rushed out before I could stop it.
"You really love her don't you?" I whispered - the situation seemed to call for it. His answer was quick and sure.
"I love her with all that I am Bella and everything I could be."
His eyes unfocused and he looked lost in his memory.
"We never had time to fall in love the conventional way. I was certainly looking for something to guide me, to tell me where to go and what to do. And in danced Alice with a whisper of a vision, a new peaceful life away from the atrocities I'd committed. Alice saved me in many ways. If vampires have souls then she holds mine in her hands…"
He looked at me again, his eyes bright with venom tears he could never shed. I was crying silently and he reached out to catch one of my tears on the tip of his icy finger. He shook it away violently and the quiet moment was lost. I sniffed and wiped my eyes quickly.
"Don't cry for me Bella. Of course she left me. I'm a monster, just a very dark shadow of the person I used to be. I can't count the number of people I've killed, the amount of times I've slipped up…" He turned away from me as he was speaking.
I interrupted him by taking his chin in my hand and turning his head straight towards me. I knew I wouldn't have been able to move him if he hadn't let me.
"But you're here now aren't you? I'm still breathing. Alice never blamed you Jasper so don't take it upon yourself to do it for her."
I tapped his nose with my finger and grinned at the surprised look on his face.
"Now let's both stop being so morbid, agreed?"
I held out my pinkie finger and rolled my eyes when he just looked at it, obviously confused. I grabbed his hand from where it rested on his thigh and hooked his finger with mine.
"Agreed." I attempted to look solemn but a little smile slipped out despite my best efforts.
"It really is good to have you here Jasper despite everything else that's going on."
I moved away from him then, feeling the moment had become too intense, and looked down at myself in surprise.
"Since when was I still in my pyjamas?"
Jasper was standing by this point looking a little amused.
"Well you're not exactly the brightest crayon in the box," I pointed at his outfit, "You do know it's about minus fifty-nine degrees outside don't you?"
He quirked an eyebrow at me and smirked.
"I think that's a slight exaggeration on your part if you'll excuse me saying so. And I don't feel the cold at all."
I stopped in the process of opening my wardrobe and cocked my hip.
"Unless you're hoping to watch it might be a good idea for you to leave now."
He was out of the door almost before I finished my sentence. I grinned and pulled out my comfy pair of black skinny leg jeans, throwing on an acid yellow t-shirt that was so bright it almost made your eyes hurt. There was little point bothering with shoes as I didn't plan on going outside and I much preferred walking barefoot when I was in the house.
I caught the exaggerated wince on Jasper's face as he returned through the door and smiled at me.
"That t-shirt is a tad… bright Bella."
I grinned at him, pulling it tight so he could see the smiley face scrawled on the front in glitter.
"Look, it's so you! The resemblance is uncanny!"
He mock frowned as he moved to stand next to me.
"I certainly do not look that insane. Or indeed that yellow."
I cracked up.
"Don't sulk; I'll buy you a matching one." I patted his shoulder comfortingly and threw myself back onto my bed, bouncing a few times before settling back on the pillows.
Jasper folded himself gracefully into a sitting position on the opposite end.
"What are your plans for today Bella?"
I frowned thoughtfully at him.
"I didn't really have any. Get the housework done and my homework finished. Forks isn't exactly the liveliest place on Earth in case you didn't notice."
"Your studies are important to you Bella?"
I shrugged, moving to dig beneath my bed for my school bag.
"I suppose so; I mean I want to go to a good college."
I felt my hand close around the strap and twisted back to throw my bag onto the bed with a heavy thump.
"I guess you didn't get much school work done when you were human – what with going into the army and all."
"True enough but I have learned much since. It is quite tiresome to sit through classes listening to the same thing you've heard numerous times before."
I grinned at him.
"Maybe I should just get you to do all my homework for me if you're so smart."
"I can certainly attempt to help."
I scowled at my Calculus book as I opened it.
"Then once more into the breach Major."