Paper Cut IV

"He wants us all…in the living room," Alice replied stiffly, her body regaining control. She blinked several times quickly, and then looked down at me. I could feel the waves of anxiety beginning to roll off of her, and I quickly realized that whatever Edward wanted to tell us wasn't good news.

In the back of my mind, I began to panic. Did he have difficulty being in the tiny truck with the fresh smell of her blood still drying along her wounds? I swallowed hard as my throat twitched just at the thought of her fragrant blood. My heart sank when I realized the answer to my own question – No. I was the only weak one here. I was the only one brainless, pathetic, and out of control enough to almost do such a thing. My family should abandon me or toss me out onto the street.

"Come on," she sighed sadly.

Using my unique capability, I tried to send her what little happiness I had reserved in my body; it wasn't much. I watched the mist that was my talent roll over towards my Alice, its calming clouds embracing her in my eyes. She couldn't see my gift the way I could, but I knew she could feel it.

"Please…now's not the time," she pleaded, dropping her eyes to the floor. Her tiny hand stilled against my chest, and she moved it in a few small circles before dropping it to her side. "It doesn't feel right," she admitted. I nodded. Alice rarely wanted to wallow in her sadness for any reason; if she wanted to now, I would allow it.

I stood slowly at a human's pace, my entire body dreading the trip down the stairs to the living room. The front door clicked shut softly, and I pressed my lips together to try to control my thoughts. I wanted to give Edward the most respect I could muster, considering I had almost murdered his mate in cold blood. I could hear him as he walked calmly to the center of the room where the atrocity had taken place just hours before.

"Would everyone please meet me in the living room?" he asked his tone controlled and low.

As I listened to his even, managed voice from upstairs, I had to admit that a small part of me expected him to be roaring and screaming and tossing furniture from one end of the house to the other. I expected him to curse me, hit me, and kick me in the gut for what I had done. The fact that he was demonstrating maturity and control in this situation shamed me even more than I already was. I followed Alice down the stairs like a dog that had been swatted with a newspaper for digging through the trash. It would have been easier to feel the way I did if he was carrying on and raging with anger and vicious hate. Instead his dull, lifeless, black eyes followed me as I entered the room. They were empty, void of all emotion and feeling.

I had never felt more like a monster in my entire existence.

Edward stood in the middle of the room, my family flashing into the room to stand around him like statues. I held my breath, fearful that the scent of Bella's blood still lingered there. The idea of having even one errant thought about the smell of her luscious blood in front of my brother horrified me. In my eyes, it would have been like dangling it in front of him. Alice stepped close to me, weaving her arm around mine where we stood. She looked up at me, silently telling me with her eyes that it was okay to breathe. Over the years, we had developed quite a few private signals that allowed my wife and her iron control to help me. Her love for the humans she so desperately wanted to be around and make friends with allowed her to have much better control than myself, yet another way she made me better.

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, 1975

I sat miserably at the lunch table, glaring down into the disgusting human food that I was being forced to pretend to consume. I wasn't even sure what it was…

"Meatloaf…apparently," Edward answered, rolling his eyes. I glanced down at the mushy looking goop on the aqua colored tray below me, the foul stench rising in small waves of heat off the fresh food. As disgusting as it was, the foul smell of the human food helped distract me from the scent of the much more alluring selections around me…

The cafeteria was filled to the brim with students that rainy day. Normally, we could eat outside if it was cloudy enough to help alleviate the suffering. The students paid less attention to what we were doing if we were outside. However, the rain had forced us indoors today, and we were stuck inside listening to alluring call of their frantically beating hearts. Lunch hour always did this to them; it excited them and made their blood flow quicker as they all talked and chattered excitedly.

A teenage girl flounced by, just feet away from me, tossing her long brunette hair over her shoulder. My nostrils flared as my throat surged with fire. There was no way I would make it…yes...yes I would...stop it…stop…I chided myself. I listened as my own teeth clicked tightly together as I regained control of myself.

Edward nodded at me silently, as if to say 'well done.' I smiled and nodded, leaning back in the plastic lunchroom chairs. I began to trace a pattern on top of the mush substance with my otherwise useless fork. I looked over at Emmett, who was casually sniffing the pea that was perfectly balanced on his own fork.

"Emmett," Rosalie said in warning. He grinned slyly, quickly flinging it in Edward's direction. Edward rolled his eyes again as he held up his hand to block it efficiently.

"Didn't your mother ever tell you to not play with your food?" Edward said, actually cracking a smile as he shot the same pea back at Emmett's face. They continued to laugh and tease each other to appear more human, and I congratulated them in my mind. I could barely get through lunch sometimes. All those bodies in one place…

Alice clicked her tongue once. It was quiet and quick, but I heard it. That was what she did when I was looking around hungrily…like I was in pain, just waiting for my next meal. She did it when I was looking too…vampire-ish. I sat back in my chair again, dropping my eyes to the tray in front of me. She sighed, her own little way of telling me 'good job.'

Over my years as a rogue vampire, there had been a short span of time where I considered what it would be like to integrate into the mainstream and interact with the humans that I had begun to fear so much. I feared them because I feared what I would do to them, so I stayed away. It was a time in my life after Peter and Charlotte, but before Alice, that I had thought about what it would be like to try to coexist with them without…well…indulging. It had seemed impossible to even consider at the time, and I had practically begun to wallow in loneliness before I had walked into that Philadelphia diner. Before Alice, I felt like I was drowning in my own self hatred and loathing, but she had come in and turned that all around. She had made it possible for me to live, not just exist.

We had been in school for nearly three months at that point; this was my first attempt at secondary education. Alice had been to school for almost fifteen years – she had even graduated once. My days at home waiting for her to come home from school seemed endless. I was free with Alice, but in many ways I was a prisoner, too. Anytime she left me to go shopping with Rosalie…to a picture with Esme…to school with my brothers and sisters…I had to stay home, hiding, like the pathetic monster that I was.

I had grown tired of it; I wanted to go to high school. I wanted to walk the hallways with my girl, proud to show her off as mine. I wanted to pass a note to her in class, sit next to her at lunch, give her a ride home from school….For the first time in my life, I had an opportunity to act my age and actually be a teenage boy, and I was shying away from it. I had had to admit to myself that I was afraid…of high school. Alice had practiced with me, coached me, encouraged me, and pleaded with me that I could actually achieve my goal of attending school. After half a decade of practice, I had made my first attempt. It was shaky, at best. The students knew to be leery of me; their instincts told them that I was something to be feared. However, it was harder for me than it was for Alice or Emmett, two of our family's most outgoing members. They just…made it look so natural that it was hard not be envious at times.

Alice sighed a little as another girl walked by. I looked up, alarmed. I hadn't even been watching her…was I doing something else frightening? My mind replayed what I had been doing the last few minutes, but all I could think of was the fact that I had been playing with my own serving of putrid smelling peas.

Edward caught my eye, shaking his head once discretely.

She didn't mean to sigh? I thought at him. He shook his head again, his eyes travelling across the cafeteria to rest on a group of girls sitting at round table in the center of the room, talking and giggling excitedly about some silly kegger they were going to out in the woods that weekend.

"We can go," I suggested to Alice, who was watching them out of the corner of her eye.

"Right," Rosalie muttered, picking apart her ham sandwich. Alice looked up at me, her eyes hopeful for a second. My dead heart broke a little when she looked back down, her expression somber.

"They would never think to invite me," she replied sadly, pressing her tiny lips together. I could smell the flavored chapstick on her lips as she chewed on them slightly. My Alice wanted so badly to have friends.

"We could go shopping this weekend instead," I said, wincing a little at my pained sounding voice. I hated shopping, with or without the temping aroma of humans around – it was just so boring. "I uh…need some more…dress shirts," I added hopefully.

Her expression softened, but she still looked over in the direction of our school's 'it' crowd of girls. I tried not to notice as her pale little hand rose subconsciously up to her head to pat down the spiky locks that I loved so much. The expression on her face was of pure disgust. I looked over at Edward.

Is she worried about hairstyles again? I thought at him. He nodded, glancing over at Rosalie. Our sister sat dully at the head of our lunch table, her blonde tresses styled in the latest fanned out fashion thanks to her new styling wand. By definition, she was probably the prettiest thing to ever grace these halls. And yet…she was still miserable, I thought. Edward nodded once in agreement, and no one even noticed.

As lunch droned on, Alice had to snap herself out of her daydreams of long hair to help me control myself several more times. I didn't care if she had short hair with some near-bald patches; I didn't care that she was pale, tiny, and could tell me what I was going to do before I did it. She was Alice, and she was mine, and that was all I needed.

I pulled myself out of the moment from the past, wondering if it had been a mistake to try to familiarize myself with humans at all in the first place. Looking back now, I wished I hadn't. I would do anything to take back what I had almost done earlier.

For the first time since Bella had left our home, I allowed myself to inhale cautiously, tasting the air around me. Relieved, I breathed in and out several times, trying to calm myself from the torrent of emotions being thrown at me by my family. They were confused, worried, and anxious about what Edward wanted.

I glanced at Esme, who met my eyes and smiled; it was tight, but warm just the same. I would have to thank her later for her obvious thorough cleaning of the living room. I know that it couldn't have been easy for her to clean up Bella's blood; however, that wasn't the type of task Esme would avoid in her own home. I knew that she had nowhere near the control that Carlisle possessed, yet we all knew that it was a goal of hers to follow in his footsteps into the medical world. She looked back at me, seeming to understand how I felt.

We all turned our attention to Edward, who stood in the center of the room.

"What is it, Edward?" Carlisle asked, his voice laced with concern. Worry oozed off of him, cloaking the room in a dismal haze as I watched, trying not to soak any of it in. Even though I deserved it.

"Jasper…" Edward finally said, looking over at me with his empty eyes. "Enough."

I blinked a few times, surprised that he had acknowledged me again so soon. If I was in his position…He glanced up at me, clearly instructing me with his sudden, sharp look that I needed to stop that thought right where it was.

"I…I've decided to ask something of you all that I never hoped I would have to. I…I'm asking you to leave Forks. For me," he finally said. Silence hung in the air like the dreary mists that cloaked our hometown. My chest began to tighten with sadness for our entire situation, Edward's in general. How could he leave Forks? Bella?

"What?" Esme squeaked, her hands flying up to cup her pale cheeks. If it was possible, she looked even paler than normal. Carlisle looked down at the floor, wrapping a reassuring arm around her shoulders.

Emmett's hand went up to rest on Rosalie's shoulder, who looked like she was suddenly going to explode. My eyes flew to Alice's face, which was somber and drawn as she listened to Edward speak.

"I want to leave as soon as possible, if we could. Please…" he added, his voice raspy and wracked with hurt. I sighed as I watched my brother stand before our family and ask for such an inconvenience. However, it was one I knew we would all do for him. They had all done if for me several times over the last half a century. I would give Edward this without grievance, but I knew that not all of us would be so understanding.

"What?" Rosalie hissed, her voice low and menacing. I watched as her golden eyes darkened with rage, which was never a good sign. Rosalie was actually quite dangerous when she was like this. Angry and ruthless, her rage could make her do something she would regret later. I had thanked the heavens several times throughout the years that I had not met Rosalie as a newborn in the South, for she was surely one of the few new vampires that would have frightened me.

"I've never asked this of you before," Edward replied quickly, his voice still monotone and emotionless. His eyes slowly flicked up to look at hers, and I could almost see the poison she was spewing at him with her thoughts. Fury and malice dripped off of her in the most horrible looking red and fiery haze, making its way towards me like a dark cloud would over a prairie just before the storm. I flinched as it hit me, wrapping me tightly in its grasp.

"It doesn't matter!" she insisted, her black eyes widening. "You cannot ask us to do this now!"

"Rose," Emmett said quietly, running his fingertips down her arm to soothe her. I could practically see her ignite.

"No, Emmett, let me say this."

We all watched as she stepped forward into the center of the room, Edward cowering away from her in disappointment and sadness as she began to speak. The harsh tones of her voice echoed off the high ceilings and glass windows, making us all cringe inwardly.

"Was I not the one who told you in the beginning that this was a bad idea?" she asked. She shifted her icy black gaze around the room. "Was I not the one who told all of you that this was a bad idea from the start for him to get involved with a human? She's not like us. She never will be…and yet you all stood idly by while he threw himself at her, divulging all of secrets. It's not like he's human, and they're breaking up and…she knows. She knows, Carlisle! She knows!

"I realize that, Rosalie, but we can trust Bella. She would never hurt us," our patriarch insisted. Esme looked up at his profile, her worried gaze following his eyes over to Rosalie.

"Rosalie, he fell in love with her," Esme said softly. "You can't expect Edward to always be alone…please, don't crucify him for falling in love with her-"

"No, Esme, I won't do that – but I will crucify him for betraying our family and bringing her here in the first place. We could be figuring out where to stash a body right now if we couldn't have stopped Jas-"

"Enough!"

Alice's shrill voice cut through all the chatter in the room, shocking us all. I watched as she moved forward towards Rosalie, even as upset as she was. I wasn't sure I didn't trust Rosalie to not attack someone right now in her agitated state.

"It was an accident, Rose," Alice replied, her tone firm and menacing. I lowered my head as my wife defended me and did my dirty work.

"Accident or not, if Edward wouldn't have brought the girl here, this would have never happened. Jasper was just doing what was natural. Edward is the one at fault, and now we're all paying for it."

"Rosalie, enough," Emmett pleaded, ever the peacemaker. Rosalie turned to spit fire at him with her gaze, and he sighed and closed his mouth, his hands flopping down at his sides in defeat.

"You know I'm right. Look me in the eye Emmett, and tell me that I'm not right," she insisted.

Emmett sighed again, backing away from her. "I can't fight this battle. I'll leave if Edward wants to…he's never asked me to leave for him before. He's had to leave because of me once…and I won't deny him that," Emmett insisted. I watched as his mood shifted to apologetic towards Rosalie, but his attitude towards Edward remained faithful and supportive. I pressed my lips together again, silently thanking my brother that always managed to surprise me. I would have never thought in a million years he would go against Rosalie in my and Edward's favor.

"Emmett!" she hissed. "I will not leave and start over as a sophomore in high school just because he wants to run away from his silly little human girlfriend again!" Rosalie insisted. She shifted her gaze back to Edward, who now rested against the banister.

"Babe, listen to him. We can't make him stay," Emmett argued back for once. Rosalie's eyes bulged and her perfect lips slammed together to form a straight line.

"Let him go by himself!" she hissed. "I don't want to start all over again! Think about it Emmett. Do you really want to sit through sophomore English one more time? Or gym class?"

Emmett sighed, and I could see his brain working. It was easy to see that he didn't, yet I could feel his feelings of loyalty towards our brother.

"I won't go," she huffed, crossing her arms in front of her chest. The room was silent for a few moments as she and Edward stared each other down. I was sure that the dialogue going on in their minds was quite loud.

"So you won't support me on this?" he confirmed, his voice raspy and thick. He glared at her, and then looked at our parents.

"Will none of you do this for me?" he pleaded softly. "I can't be around to hurt her anymore."

"Are you sure?" Esme whispered her eyes still wide. Edward nodded. I watched as Esme's eyes lowered sadly, and then moved back up to meet Carlisle's concerned face. I didn't need Edward's talent to tell what they were saying. Esme was undoubtedly upset to have to leave again; she loved this house in Forks much more than she had our previous Alaskan home. Carlisle had also reveled in the opportunity to practice medicine again after taking time off to live in our secluded home. I watched as Edward stiffened as his eyes shifted to look at Alice.

Alice.

I had never felt such feelings of grief and sorrow as the ones that were emulating from my wife at that second. It was almost as if the Swan girl really had died. I felt like I might as well have been standing at her funeral with my wife, instead of contemplating moving away from the girl. She clutched my arm with her tiny white hand, trying to keep her composure as waves of determination seeped from her. I realized then that she was torn between mourning for the loss of her only friend outside our kind, and trying to keep it together for our brother.

"We've never moved for you before Edward. If you…if you think that this is…what you need, then…I see no other option for us. If you go…I'll…follow," she finally stuttered, still gripping my forearm. I heard a heartbroken Esme sigh, her eyes moving around the interior of the house that we loved so dearly. Forks was one of the few homes we had had that really felt like just that- a home.

"Edward, there are other options," Carlisle finally said, breaking the silence in the room.

"No, there aren't," he said flatly. "I need to leave. We all do," he added, looking pointedly at each of us. I shuddered when his eyes met mine, and I tried not to come unraveled as he finally started to acknowledge me.

"Carlisle, we've been here too long as it is – you know this. We're all starting to look incriminating."

Carlisle pressed his lips into a thin line, his piercing golden eyes watching Edward. "If you believe we need to leave, then that is what we must do. I will support you on this. We all will," he said firmly, his eyes moving to Rosalie. I watched as she pulled her lips over her teeth, her black eyes growing en even darker shade of liquid onyx that only she could produce in her irises. I almost shivered at the sheer horror that was my sister sometimes.

"I want to leave right away," he continued. "A clean break. I will go tomorrow and tell her that we've decided to leave-"

"It'll be sunny tomorrow," Alice interjected, her voice barely a whisper. Edward looked at her, surprised. It was almost like he hadn't been counting on that.

"Then I'll wait until tomorrow night. Either way…it needs to be done."

I watched my wife as she tried to search the future for the outcome of tomorrow, but I could feel the frustrating waves as they rolled off of her. Had Edward's decision not been made? I waited and tested her mood again a few seconds later, but she answered my question.

"Edward…what part of that have you not decided?"

"Just how. It's going to happen, Alice," he said gently, but firmly. I watched as Edward's words sunk in, making her perfect, pristine little face threaten to crumple. I would be irate with my brother for hurting her if I wasn't on his side – and I was. I would miss Forks, and I would regret being the stepping-stone that gave him an excuse to leave Bella. And I would even miss having her around; however, I suddenly wanted to get as far away from Forks as possible. Edward's eyes moved up to meet mine, and I felt peaceful for a moment.

Edward, I will go and support you. After all...I caused this, and so I will do whatever I can to make this easier, I thought to him. His eyes flicked away, never acknowledging that I had had those thoughts towards him.

Rosalie stood like a marble statue in the center of the room, glaring at each of us for agreeing to leave with Edward so amicably. Emmett pawed at her wrist, trying to pull her away, until she finally hissed at Edward and turned on her heel.

"Be sure to find a new little human pet when we move this time, Edward. It just wouldn't be the same without one," she spat. "That way, we can all have this charming little experience again!" With that, she disappeared from the room, and I could hear her begin throwing things around in her room. Emmett gave Edward a sympathetic shrug, his large shoulders rising and falling with remorse for his mate's behavior. Edward nodded at him, and then turned his attention to our mother, who was silently crying imaginary tears against Carlisle.

"Esme," he began, and she lifted her head.

"Its okay, Edward. I should…I should start packing up," she said sadly, looking up at Carlisle. He nodded, rubbing her shoulder reassuringly.

"Yes, and I should inform the hospital of my…desire to leave Washington," he said. Esme nodded, and moved quickly to start her preparations to move. I could feel the feelings of slight resentment as she moved about the house like a whisper. Carlisle disappeared quickly, his feelings tinged with regret and disappointment to have to leave…or was he disappointed in me?

I watched as my family moved around me to make the usual preparations to leave our Forks home; however, I was waiting to see what Alice was going to do as she stood next to me, frozen like marble.

"Alice?" I asked gently. I tested the air around her to see how she felt, but her feelings seemed to be just as immobile and rigid as body currently was.

"Yes?" she suddenly said, breaking her trance to look up at me. "What is it?"

"A-are you alright?" I prodded. She gave me a stiff nod, her eyes darting around the room as her feelings of longing and sadness slammed into me. I blinked several times at the weight of it all, trying not to collapse at the sheer magnitude of her feelings. I wasn't sure if it was the actual emotions she was feeling that affected me so, or if it was the reason she was having these feelings in the first place. Either way, I knew it was because of me and that saddened me to the core. This was all my fault.

I watched as my wife moved towards the closet near the front door, removing her sleek, beige rain jacket from the hanger. She tossed it over her arm, her eyes darting up to look at me questioningly.

"No," Edward said sternly, running up to stand like a barrier in front of the door. She gaped at him in shock, looking between the two of us.

"You can't, Alice," he said. "This is not about you."

She started to growl at him possessively but bit it back. The rumbling sound still resonated in her small chest, menacing just the same. "She was my friend too, Edward," she hissed. Edward dropped his head, running his hand through his already mussed hair.

"She might see you…she'll know something is wrong," he insisted. I groaned inwardly as I realized what this was about – Alice wanted to go say goodbye to Bella.

"Don't insult me, Edward," she trilled, her chest rising and falling with each short puff of indignant air she sucked in. "I know how to not be seen. Will you really take this away from me?"

"It's not right, Alice. I need to be the one to do it. I will say goodbye for all of us," he said. She blew the air she held in her chest out her nostrils quickly, visibly upset.

"She was my friend, too," Alice huffed. "And I'm going to go say goodbye to her in my own way, now will you please move!"

Edward sighed, eying me from across the room. I did not need his gift to know what he was saying to me; it was a warning glare. I dropped my eyes as I flashed by him through the front door after Alice. I did not mistake the emotions that swirled around him as I quickly moved past him: possessiveness, anger, and sadness. I knew to keep my distance from her as my wife said goodbye.

"Not letting me say goodbye to my own best friend…ridiculous," she snarled as she followed after me. She knew that Edward was still within ear shot, and I didn't think she cared. Normally, I would have been raging with anger at my brother for being to cruel to my Alice; however, I was in no position to be angry with anyone.

I followed her all the way to Forks, although it wasn't hard to keep pace with her. My wife was usually one of the fastest in our family, her small legs working to propel her tiny body like a bullet. However, as I felt her mood I could tell that she was definitely prolonging this small journey to Bella Swan's house. Not that I could blame her; I know that if I ever had a friend besides my family members that it would, indeed, be hard to say goodbye. As if that would ever happen. I had to laugh at myself for having such an outlandish thought.

I had learned many words over the years to describe the feelings that I could gauge with my talent. Sadness, greed, guilt, joy, amazement, horror, anguish, exuberance, indifference, happiness…I had felt them all as my time as an immortal. However, nothing could have prepared me for the flavor of the air around my mate as she stood just behind the tree line of Charlie's lawn, hidden by the darkness. Her pale face stood out against the green of the woods, making her sudden onslaught of grief even harder to bear, as I could see it on her face.

I had never felt anything like what Alice was going through. It felt like she had just been told she would have to spend the rest of her existence in a bleak purgatory of nothingness, swallowed hole by the blackness of indifference and emptiness. In that moment, I could tell that Alice felt like she would never feel joy ever again.

It began to drizzle slightly as we stood in the forest, just out of sight from Bella's window. Alice stared at her solitary friend in this world as she ambled around her bedroom, hanging pictures and writing thank you notes.

I watched as she sucked in her breath slightly as Bella hung one of the pictures taken that night of her and Alice next to her desk.

A disbelieving 'oh' slipped from her mouth as she watched Bella push a thumbtack through the top of the photo, securing it to her small bulletin board.

"You alright?" I asked softly, watching her face carefully in the rain. She didn't say anything, only turning to look at me with her large golden eyes. The rain had pooled in her short, spiky hair, and slid to her eyes. The small drops of water lingered for a few seconds on the tops of her perfect cheeks before becoming too heavy and running down her marble features like real tears. It looked like my Alice was shedding tears; I had never seen anything to heartbreaking in all my years.

"If I could," I began softly, reaching out to touch her cheek, "I would cry in shame for what I have done to you. I would…I would cry for you, Alice," I finally choked out. It was the truth, and I could feel her soak in my feelings of sorrow and regret.

Her bottom lip began to tremble slightly, and I knew that if my wife was still human that her tears would have been spilling over her eyes at that moment. She was in my arms in a millisecond, her small hands grasping wildly at the front of my shirt as she sobbed silently; tearlessly.

"It's not fair, Jazz," she wept into my chest, clutching at me for dear life. I rubbed her back as she shook in my arms, trying to calm her with my talent. It was the least I could do, for I had never seen her come this undone in almost sixty years.

We stood in the dark forest for nearly an hour as my wife stared into the window of the human girl. When the warm glow of her desk lamp had finally been shut off and the room enveloped in darkness, Alice had finally turned to me and nodded, signaling that it was time to go. Home was the last place I wanted to be right now, but it was where duty was calling me. It was amazing, but I still had a strong sense of duty after over a century and a half after my military experience – sometimes it was the bane of my existence.

I followed her home through the misty woods, testing her mood as we went. She was plagued by something, although I wasn't sure what. What had she seen that was bothering her so?

As we ran, I thought about starting over. What would it be like this time? What story would we tell? What lies would we peddle in the new town? I shook my head to myself. I wasn't going to do that again. I was never going to put myself into these situations ever again where I would be tempted to kill the innocents around me. Hopefully Carlisle would understand my desire to not return to school. I would sit through hours alone, without Alice while she was at school if it meant that I would no longer be tempted to commit murders all around me. I would miss her, but I wouldn't risk losing my Alice ever again. I had gotten a brief taste of what that would be like earlier in the evening before I knew she would eventually forgive me, and I had no interest in repeating that ever again.

We arrived back at the house just in time to see Emmett pulling up with a U-Haul van. We usually left most of the furniture behind, but Esme always insisted on taking the important things with us; Edward's piano, Carlisle's cross, Rosalie's prized cherry bedroom set, Alice's gold plated mirror, and a few other belongings that had been with us for decades.

Walking into the house, I heard my wife heave a little sigh as she viewed the looming emptiness that was the living room. Most of our art, pictures, and cherished belongings were on display in the living room, and they had been stripped and packed neatly away by our mother. I followed her to Carlisle's study, where we could hear him speaking on the phone. Entering, we spied Esme hanging from the top shelf of the tall bookcases, collecting Carlisle's cherished books and wrapping them up carefully. He closed his cell phone, looking up at us as we entered.

"You're back," he stated, giving me a proud nod. I winced, looking down. Was I always to be the family handicap?

"I had to…" Alice trailed off, looking to the side at the steadily filling boxes as Esme packed at top speed.

"Carlisle, where will we go?" I asked. He smiled tightly at me, sharing a look with Esme.

"We've decided on New York – Rochester, specifically. Esme and I kept the house that we lived in while we were there in the twenties, and we're confident that we'll all be happy there," he stated hopefully.

Esme hopped down from the tall shelves, walking up to me cautiously. "It's still somewhat secluded. We've kept the land around it for years, so no one has built very close to it. It's a lovely house, I'm sure you'll love it as much as I always did. I thought for a moment I was going to shed real tears when Carlisle originally suggested selling it!" she smiled.

I looked at Alice, and she shrugged. "I suppose so," she mumbled, pressing her tiny pink lips together. Esme took both of her little hands in hers and squeezed them.

"You've always wanted to live in New York. There's lots to do and the city never sleeps…" Esme added, looking at her adopted child optimistically. I knew she was trying to soften the blow for my poor wife, but Alice wasn't taking the bait. She and I both knew that without Bella, she would be miserable.

Bella Swan had been the best friend my Alice had ever had, and I had heartlessly yanked that away from her in less than three seconds. Was there no end to my suffering?

"Would you mind living in Rochester? I think Rose would…I'm sure she would be grateful," Esme gently prodded, looking between the two of us.

Ah, so that's what this is. This is a ploy to pacify my outraged sister. I would play along…I knew that living with a scorned, upset Rosalie was nothing I was particularly interested in doing. Her vile feelings would seep out of her like poison, eventually suffocating and torturing me. It was easiest to live around her if she was at least appeased slightly, even if she was still angry. If living in her original hometown would help ease her anger, I would take it.

"Alice, we might like New York. I've always wanted to try being a Yankee," I joked gently, stroking her elbow. She sighed, her eyes darting up to meet mine. Would she be angry with me forever?

"I suppose that would be nice, Esme…that sounds lovely. I would really like to see your home in Rochester. You've always told me so much about it…It's time I saw it," Alice replied. I could sense her own feelings of duty and need to please as she said to our mother. Esme smiled weakly; she looked exhausted for the first time ever.

"Good then. I've already called the hospital and informed them that there was a family emergency to tend to in Los Angeles. All of my things will be sent to my P.O. Box there. Once they're there, I'll have them forwarded to New York."

"You're sure?" Esme asked, delicately wrapping up another one of his books. He nodded at her, his face somber.

"Yes…they understood. I think they were sad to see me go…but they understood."

"That's…good, I suppose," Esme admitted, sealing up another box. I looked at Alice, motioning towards the door. She went, and we flashed up the stairs to our bedroom that was still untouched.

"I'll pack…" she said slowly, fingering the dark drapes that lined the glass windows. I began to gather my things, but Alice's pale hand shot out and stopped me.

"No. I'll do it. Go talk to Edward," she said firmly. I looked up at her slowly, not bothering to move the hair out of my eyes that had fallen there. She stared at me as if she was challenging me to defy her wishes. I nodded dutifully, setting down the things I had gathered.

I would do anything for Alice.

I knew that I would have to talk to Edward eventually, and I wasn't putting it off. I wanted to give him time to cool down and regain his control. Edward was very logical and easy to deal with – if his temper was in check. Not that I could blame him. He had been changed at a mere seventeen years of age, and I had seen many boys in my human years that were that old that simply hadn't gained control of their emotions at that point. To be frozen at that age for all eternity…I shuddered at the mere thought.

As I walked down the hallway to Edward's room, I tried to clear my head of any errand thoughts and approach my brother with as much calm as I could.

Edward, may I come in? I asked in my mind. The door slowly swung open, and I could see Edward as he dashed around his bedroom, carelessly tossing and jamming his beloved possessions into the cardboard boxes we used for moving.

Shouldn't you be more careful with your things? I thought. He growled under his breath, shoving another row of old records into a bag.

Sorry. I would have come to talk to you sooner, but I thought…you might want some time.

He looked up at me, his black eyes on fire. "You're right. I did want some time," he snapped, picking his TV up off the wall. He set it down on the sofa, wrapping in a blanket a few times.

"Edward," I spoke out loud, "I can't even find words to tell you how sorry I am. I've…I've let you all down and…well that's just it. I've let everyone down."

He looked at me, his body stopping movement for a moment. Cocking his head, he disappeared out the open doors of his bedroom, and I followed. We ran away from the house, far enough that our conversation wouldn't be heard by our family members as they packed up our belongings.

We darted through the black forest, dodging trees as we ghosted along. Edward eventually stopped, turning to face me as I followed him into the small clearing. He didn't speak for a few moments, and the silence made me uneasy. I knew that he knew, but that was just Edward's way of doing things. If he wanted to make me uncomfortable, then I probably deserved it.

"You don't," he replied, his voice raspy. I looked at him, surprised, my eyes bulging. Why was he not acting angrier with me?

"You don't deserve my anger. My anger is for myself," he answered. I frowned. What on earth…

"Edward-"

"No, Jasper, listen. While your control did lapse…I've done some thinking I cannot blame you for what you did."

"Edward, I could have-"

"I KNOW what could have happened, Jasper. I am well aware. However…when I calmed down and thought about the situation, I realize that you have done nothing that you weren't supposed to do."

I was confused.

"I know," he replied in answer to my thought. "Jasper…we are killers. We are animals; murderers by nature. We only fight that urge to be seen as human and blend in. But we cannot hide what we truly are. We can try, but…sooner or later…we are what we are. I realize that now. You were…you were only doing what came naturally, Jasper. I won't hold that against you," he added quietly, his golden eyes flicking up to meet mine.

I shifted uneasily in the darkness. How could he be so blaze about all of this? I had practically-

He cut off my thought by waving his pale hand in the darkness. "No…Jasper…Please don't. I can't bear to listen to that. I know."

"So…Edward, you have every right to be upset." I was still confused. How was he not tearing me limb from limb?

"Don't think I'm not," he interjected. "I don't know what I would have done if I couldn't have stopped you earlier. I can't promise that I wouldn't have tried to kill you."

His words hung in the air for a few moments, and I felt the sorrow hanging off of them. I knew that he wouldn't have wanted to kill me, but I couldn't blame him. I knew I would kill for Alice. But would I kill Edward?

"Jasper…You cannot help what you did. As I said…as much as it pains me, you were only acting naturally. You were following your instinct. I am the one who is at fault for bringing a human around and tempting you for months. I'm not going to hold what you are against you."

"A monster," I muttered, kicking at the mossy ground beneath my feet. "I understand if you…want to be angry with me."

"No," Edward insisted quietly, glancing in the direction of our home. "I'm more angry with myself. I've put her in danger for far too long, and now it's time for me to leave her alone."

I paused, testing his mood. Was he certain about leaving Forks? He seemed to be…

"We're really leaving then?"

He nodded once. "Yes. I want the family to be back up and gone by dawn…and then I'll go tell her. I'll meet you in New York in a few days. I have something I want to do first," he replied. I inhaled slightly as his body began to take on a powerful golden haze that seemed to seethe with determination. What was he going to do?

"That's not important," he whispered, turning towards home.

"Edward, you know that I…I would do anything for you. If you need my help with something-"

"No, Jasper," he said quickly. "I have to do this on my own. You understand?"

I didn't say anything. My loyalty to my brother was strong, and I wanted nothing more than to help him in order to some way make up for what I had done.

"I thank you for that," Edward replied to my thought.

I knew that he wanted to say more, but my talent told me that he wasn't ready to do that. I knew that we had nothing but time, and whatever he wanted to say to me would come out eventually. Unfortunately, we had another daunting aspect waiting for us at home – an empty house.

We ran back, flashing through the darkness like two identical bolts of lightning, our feet barely touching the ground as we flew. I could sense that he just wanted to get this over with, and I couldn't blame him. I loved my home in Forks. It was one of the few places that did feel like home to me over the years, and I felt comfortable here. This would be a hard move for me, and for the rest of us.

Alice and the rest of the Cullens made me happy, but I doubted I would ever be fully complete. As I walked into the emptying house, I was hit with the various emotions of my family members as they packed up their belongings. My mind took me to a different time as I watched them move about the emptying house….

More than anything, I ached for a day when I could take Alice back to my home state of Texas as live there with her.

We could be out in the hot sun without fear of being seen, and we wouldn't be tempted to commit murders to the people around us.

I would build her a grand house in the country that we could live in for the rest of our lives, not having to worry about moving or being recognized.

Our children would come to visit on Sunday, brining our grandkids and great grandkids around for us to see.

We would be happy.

We would be human.

Edward glanced at me as he packed up his piano across the room. I bowed my head, ashamed at the thoughts in my mind. The first few years of my vampire life, it had been pounded into my head that I was a great warrior, a leader, a value to my kind – I should be proud for everything that I was.

But I wasn't.

I rarely let it show. I was struggling with the Cullen lifestyle enough, so why would I add in the desire to be human? I still had it, but I didn't like to let that be known. Rosalie, for example, wallowed in her misery every day because she wasn't what she wanted to be, and I never wanted to join her in that feeling. Just experiencing her feelings of sorrow and misery for her immortal body was bad enough to feel coming from her, much less have myself. And Alice…my wife had no idea what it was like to be human, and I had the feeling that she was content living how we did, as immortals. It would break her heart to know that I dreamed of us living a different way.

Emmett and Carlisle became off-white blurs as they carried box after box full of a lifetime of collectibles, artifacts, books, clothes, and memories to the moving van. Esme dashed around the house, making sure we had gotten everything that we needed. The house wasn't being sold right away; I had heard that from Carlisle. Part of him still believed Edward would change his mind, and despite the determined haze around my brother, I would have sided with Carlisle.

I wrinkled my eyebrows as Rosalie appeared in the doorway, her arms full of suitcases and dress bags galore. So typical…Rosalie, I thought. She was sure to glare menacingly at all of us in the room as she stalked past on her way to the truck.

Slowly, the sky began to lighten, and I knew that our time in Forks was up. Alice and I had spent the hours before dawn saying goodbye to our room, collecting our things, and packing my car. With five different cars, almost everyone would have to drive this time because of our hasty disappearance from Forks.

I started the vehicle, bringing the engine to life as the garage doors opened for the last time. As I rolled out of the bottom of the house, I watched as Alice turned to look behind us out the rearview window.

"No looking back," I gently reminded her. That had been our mantra over the years to help us cope with being nomads of sort.

"I can't help it."

My heart sank at her words, and I promised myself I would never let myself hurt her like this again. I was taking her away from her home, her friends, and most importantly, the closest semblance to a life that we had had in decades. My inner monster had nearly driven me to commit an atrocious murder in order to quell his wild thirst and for what – a few days at most? The sheer malice and embarrassment of it all shamed me to no end.

We drove away from our home, into the unknown again. We left in our wake a shattered human girl, an empty house, and dozens of people wondering about our strange disappearance.

And it was all because of a paper cut.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

There you go! Paper Cut is now complete! I worked really hard on this part, and I would like to thank my lovely friend ohmistars for beta-ing this for me. She did a wonderful job, and she's a great friend and muse for me, so thank you doll!

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