Author's Note: Here it is, the last chapter! Better late than never. Sorry, it's taken me so long to get it out here, but I wanted it to be perfect, and I absolutely love the way it turned out. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I liked writing it. Please let me know what you think of the work as a whole, as well as this chapter individually. And thank you so much to everyone who has been so loyal in reading this story despite the slow updates.
The sequal has been started and will definately be posted here sometime in the next couple weeks. The title for those who are interested in watching for it will be "Solid Rock and Sinking Sand." It will be set 20 years after TFWW ends, but I promise I will fill in the blanks of what happened during the interlude. Reviewers may just recieve a sneak peak.
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it's not mine.
Alice found it hard to believe that less than 24 hours ago her beloved husband had been fighting for his life and lives of their entire family. She knew there would be some who, even if told the story of his encounter with Winston, wouldn't believe that his life was ever truly at stake. After all, there was no real fighting, no punches thrown, no kicks, no physical scars. There were only the things that couldn't be seen by anyone other the two involved in the battle. Alice doubted that she would ever really know the full extent of the torture that Jasper had undergone to save the family from certain death by the Volturi. But she had felt a small part of it with him. He hadn't been able to keep himself from broadcasting the terrible emotions that Winston had been feeding him. And the whole family had felt it. She had already tried to work on damage control and made the rest of the family promise not to tell him what they felt. It would only make him feel more guilty than he already did for intentionally sending it to her and Peter, and in the end, to Cassandra. Only those who really knew Jasper would ever fully understand what those emotions must have been doing to him to force him to let them leak out like that. He was truly fighting for his life, fighting to breathe, fighting past unimaginable horrors just to survive and ensure the safety of all.
Jasper still wasn't fully recovered from his mental battle with Winston, but he was getting stronger with each additional hour that passed. He had hunted almost as soon as he could stand after the battle. She, Peter and Charlotte had followed him to make sure that he was ok. Edward and Bella would have followed as well if Carlisle hadn't ordered them to stay behind to make sure that the Volturi made good on their promise to leave without further incident.
Alice wasn't sure if Jasper would ever be the same again after what had happened with Winston. But maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. A vision of Jasper as an ER doctor filled her mind. It would have been an impossible situation just a few months ago. But after everything that had happened, Cassie coming into their lives, the mental attacks against her and Edward, and Jasper ultimately having to be the one to face off against Winston, now the vision was a possibility. Edward and Rosalie had both done it before, and now it was Jasper's turn to prove that a vampire doesn't have to be all bad, they can save human lives rather than take them. The vision continued, showing other ways in which Jasper's battle with Winston had changed him, changed his attitudes, and ultimately his role in the world. Jasper would be the epitome of Carlisle's all vamps can be a vegetarian campaign, and he would never slip again, never even be tempted to slip again. His control over his thirst would rival that of Carlisle's, perhaps even surpass it, if such a thing was possible. He would never have to be afraid of hurting another human again. It would be completely unfeasible for him to do so with this new attitude and control.
"We should check on Cassandra. She's been through a lot," Alice said absently as she cuddled deeper into Jasper's arms.
Jasper nodded just as distractedly, but didn't say anything. Before Alice had a chance to move, however, their door swung open to reveal a very tired looking Edward and an exhausted Bella.
"Hey, it's over, we won. I'd expect to feel a little more of a return of that new found love glow coming from you two," Jasper teased the newest Cullen couple.
"I guess it's disappeared to the same place as yours. Swallowed by the passage of time." Edward teased back.
"Don't worry, it won't take long for us all to get it back." Alice smiled knowingly, and the smile quickly spread to the other faces in the room.
"Jasper?" Bella started to ask in a suddenly serious tone, but waited for her brother to look up at her before continuing. "I know it's a little soon for this and everything, but Renesmee…She's been asking a lot of questions. Edward and I have told her what we can, but…will you talk to her? In a few days, I mean, when things settle down a bit more, and you're ready to. I wouldn't have asked, but Renesmee seems to think that you know something that Edward and I don't."
Jasper held up a single hand to stop Bella's rambling. "I'll talk to her. You really didn't even have to ask. There are things that she should hear from me. And I would rather it didn't wait, as long as that's ok with you, of course. In fact, before you say anything, there's something I need to tell the two of you, and the sooner I do it, the better." Taking an unnecessary breath, Jasper plunged ahead with what he knew would be the first of a string of difficult conversations. "I'm sorry, deeply sorry to both of you for making you live through that. I should have tried harder to focus everything on Winston, and should not have projected so much to the rest of the family." Alice saw that Edward was about to interrupt and sent him a mental warning to let Jasper get everything out first. "I know Alice probably made you promise to deny it, but I know better. In the state I was in, even what I was trying to purposefully send to her must have gone everywhere. So, I'm sorry that I hurt you guys. But I also want to thank you. Thank you for being there for me. I don't think that I would have made it through this without all of your support. It's too bad that Peter and Char left before I could tell them the same thing. As soon as they saw I was ok, and getting something to eat, they split…again." There was a tinge of sadness in his voice as he spoke about his oldest friends.
When no one spoke for several seconds, Edward broke the silence by clapping Jasper on the shoulder. "You've come a long way, bro. We all know you didn't want to hurt us and I know that you know that you couldn't have done anything differently and still defeated Winston. If anything, Jasper, we all owe you a debt of gratitude that can probably never be repaid. If you hadn't defeated Winston, then the Volturi would have killed us, or forced us to join them. Now, as it is, we've established ourselves in our own right. They won't try anything against us for a very long time, if ever again. They'll know that it will be futile. We've proven ourselves now, thanks to you."
Jasper nodded gratefully at Edward's encouragement. A slow smile started to spread across his face. "I'll go talk to Renesmee now."
As he left the room, Bella happily planted herself on the bed next to Alice in his place. "So, I believe that someone promised me an in depth review of other real mythological beings."
"Right, where did you want to start?" Alice conceded, making herself comfortable for what she knew was sure to be an interesting conversation.
"Wizards!" Bella announced after less than a second of pondering.
Edward, who still hadn't moved from his spot in the doorway, started to laugh loudly at his wife's declaration. "Ha. The only thing you need to know about Wizards is rules. They have a lot of rules."
"What sort of rules?" Bella asked her love eagerly.
At the same moment Alice rolled her eyes and told Edward, "Hey, she said she wanted to know about them, and there's more to Wizards than just rules. There's their terrible sense of fashion, for one."
While Alice and Edward continued to educate Bella on the ways of Wizards, Jasper was teaching Renesmee about something completely different. "I don't understand why it had to be you." The young half-vampire admitted.
"Because it couldn't have worked any other way. Aro insisted on a one on one battle. If your mom had gone up against Winston, it wouldn't have worked. It would have been like bouncing two balloons together. Her shield can be stolen by Winston, but it can't be manipulated by him. She would have been immune to half the abilities he had acquired. He could have tried tricking her emotions into making her believe that it was safe to lower her shield long enough to let him inside, and then he could have moved in with Jane's and Kate's abilities, but to what end? Winston gets a high off of using a vampire's ability against them. He couldn't have done that with your mom. He would have refused the dual because it wouldn't have been any fun for him. Besides, your mom wouldn't have been able to do anything against him either. Your dad and my Alice would have been in a similar situation. There's plenty that Winston could do to torture them, but both of their abilities are passive in nature. They would have been able to resist his manipulations and come out of it in one piece, but they wouldn't have been able to actively do anything against him. In my case, I could counter whatever he did to me. My ability is subtle, but powerful. It's both active and passive. In a one on one battle, it's best to have an active fighter on your side. And for that, sometimes, subtle is better."
Renesmee reached up and touched her uncle's cheek to replay a few of the most intense moments of the mental battle complete with her feelings at the time. Fear. Intense fear.
Jasper sighed and offered the girl a tired smile. "I'm sorry that I scared you. And I'm sorry that you had to witness all that. And most of all, I'm sorry that you had to feel everything along with me. I tried to avoid that, but I failed. It must have been very difficult for you at the time, but it's all over now, and I know you're not scared anymore. Nervous, yes. Worried, yes. But the fear's gone. Fear's funny like that. It always leaves us as quick as it comes. It doesn't linger past its immediate usefulness."
Renesmee's grin grew wide and she let Jasper feel all the rest of the emotions she was keeping hidden inside of her. Relief. Joy. Wonder. Awe. Admiration. Forgiveness. Encouragement. Thankfulness. Jasper was overcome by the buffet of emotions that the small girl was feeling. "Thank you for that," he whispered quietly to her and backed it up by sending a wave of contentment and peace her way.
"Uncle Jasper, I think you need to talk to Aunt Rose about this. It'll help her understand too." Nessie told the older man honestly.
Jasper was taken aback slightly at the suggestion. He knew that there were many members of the family he would have to talk to about what had happened, but Rose was at the bottom of the list as far as he knew. In his opinion, Rose, of everyone, would be the most willing to accept what had happened without needing further explanations. "Rosalie? Why? She knows what had to happen," he finally managed to say, but was interrupted by Nessie's hand on his cheek. The young girl had apparently overheard a conversation between Rosalie and Emmett. One that wasn't meant to be overheard and the words that his sister was sharing in confidence with his brother and her mate were hurtful and difficult for him to hear. But somehow, a part of Jasper understood why she said the things that she did, but he wasn't sure that he could change her thinking in just one conversation. Her words sprang from a very deep place in her soul, and he knew that it was a long time struggle that she faced with that part of who she was. He was surprised that he had never her talk about it out loud before. He could only feel what she did in the rare cases that she allowed her emotions to travel to that dark place. And Emmett would never betray anything that she told him in private.
Sensing that Jasper fully understood what she was trying to convey to him, Nessie removed her hand and gave her uncle a small smile. "She needs to hear it. Cassandra thinks so too."
"I'm not even going to ask how the two of you managed to overhear a private conversation like that without getting caught. But I would imagine that it's one of those times when being a child has its benefits. What you overheard, I don't know if it's going to be as simple as me opening up to her about this a little more to help her heal, but I will try talking to her. But if she doesn't want to listen, I can't make her."
"That you try is all I ask. I don't like it when she's like that. I don't like it when any of you are. Thank you, uncle Jasper." Nessie leaned in to give the Civil War Rebel a tight hug and a tiny kiss on the cheek. She slowly let him go, knowing that he had more people to talk to, and it was time for her to try to get some sleep.
Walking out of Renesmee's room, Jasper couldn't stop the small chuckle when he heard Edward, Alice, and Bella's conversation. Apparently, Bella was learning about the only wizard family the Cullen's knew, the Russo family. Unfortunately, he was a man on a mission and couldn't stop to join the conversation, and to correct the errors that Edward was making in the story. If he didn't talk to Rosalie now, he might lose his resolve to do so. It wasn't hard to find Rose. She was in the garage as usual. It was the one place that she considered to be hers. "Hey, Jasper." Rose greeted him when he approached Emmett's jeep. Looking down, Jasper could see her legs sticking out from underneath it as she worked. "If you're here about Alice's Porsche, then it's not done yet. There's still a couple dents I need to bang out and I really don't think she should drive it until…"
Jasper didn't need to hear the rest, and interrupted before Rosalie could tell him about the very specific Canary paint color that she had to special order from a shop in Belgium. Instead, he bent down and pulled Rose out from under the jeep by her ankles. "I'm not here about the car, Rose."
"Oh. Then, what's up?"
Jasper had to laugh at the casual question. "I guess we really have started to talk more like modern humans since meeting Bella."
"You wanted to talk about my language habits? That's a new one."
Jasper chuckled again. "No. I actually wanted to talk to you about Winston." He swallowed at the harsh anger coming from Rose at the mention of the guard's name. Clearly this topic was one that should have been talked about sooner rather than later. "I need to know what you think about everything, now that it's over. Your feelings have been all over the place, more so than usual, and Nessie overheard something that you were telling Emmett that has me a little concerned. She didn't mean to, but you know how it is in this house. I need you to talk to me about this, Rosalie. There's no point in trying to hide anything. You and I both know that the longer you deny things, the harder it gets."
Rosalie briefly considered ordering Jasper out of her garage, and demanding that he never mention Winston to her again that it was over and done, but the look on his face told her that it wouldn't do any good. They had this conversation before. He was the only one, besides Emmett, she could trust to talk to about things like this, her feelings. It helped that he already knew what she was feeling, and not just the persona she tried to portray to everyone else. He was her true brother in every sense of the word. And he had come to her this time. He was asking for this. "I don't know what Nessie overheard, or what she told you or showed you or whatever, but I can guess. So, fine, I'll talk to you about it. But it's a conversation we've had before and will continue to have over and over again for as long as it takes for one of us to break and give up on it. Can you handle that? Can you handle another re-hash of an age old argument? And can you handle it with me like this?" She hissed the last word at Jasper for emphasis.
He knew exactly what she meant by being like this. Emotional. "Yes, I can. And I promise you nothing but honesty." Jasper knew that he didn't need to clarify that honesty included emotional honesty as well. It was one of their unspoken rules during serious conversations like this one. He would let her feel everything, and not try to manipulate it, even if it hurt him to feel it with her. This was her chance to just feel.
Taking Jasper up on his offer, Rose forced all of her emotions to the surface and directed them all at his center. Anger, hurt, fear, defensiveness, fury, ire. She waited and watched as Jasper flinched and bit his lip as her emotions became more and more intense. She would be in big trouble with Alice later if her sister had seen this coming, but she didn't care. "Happy now, Jasper?" She growled at him. She was so raw at the moment, she knew that her brother wouldn't be able to answer her. "I'm angry and I'm hurt and not just because of Winston. Because of you. Because of Cassandra and Renesmee. They didn't deserve all of that. You could have dished it out to the rest of us all day, but when you dished it out to them, it crossed a line. Cassie especially didn't deserve it. She finally got a second chance at a happy life, and you ruined it! I supported you and Alice when you wanted to turn her because I thought that as young as she was, and as tragic as her short life had been so far, that it was her only chance at a happy life. Everyone deserves a happy life, and I trusted you and Alice to make sure that Cassie got one. Royce stole mine, and I can never get it back. But Cassie could. Things had finally started to calm down for us, and I thought for just an instant, that maybe it was all going to be ok. How wrong I was. We're truly monsters, giving innocent children a taste of the most tragic emotions. Sorrow, Jasper! Could you have possibly chosen a more damaging emotion to broadcast? You know what that does to me. If you had chosen anything else, I could have handled it much better. I shudder to think that my struggle was multiplied in the young mind of Cassie, ruining her second chance to be happy. I'm glad that you won, and all, if you can call it that, but what happens next time? You threw us under the bus! I can't handle that again, ever! And if I can't, then surely Cassie and Nessie can't. And before you say anything, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I know for a fact that the sorrow overload almost killed Esme, too. It's not fair, Jasper! Why should we have to suffer still?" By the time Rosalie finished her diatribe, Jasper had stopped breathing from the effort of handling her anger.
Finally, after a long, heavy silence, he took a small breath so that he could speak. His voice was quiet and soft, a vast contrast to the sharpness that Rose had used. "You're right. It's not fair. Not by a long shot. And if I had made a little more effort, I could have better discerned which emotions I was sending out, and made sure that only Alice and Peter received them, not you and not Nessie, I'll get to Cassie in a minute. I could have better controlled my broadcasting if I had just focused a little more, that is true. Unfortunately, I didn't have that kind of time, or that amount of energy. Winston wasn't just emotionally affecting me. He was alternating using Jane's and Kate's abilities to send me shockwaves of physical pain. I've never before thought that a vampire could pass out until I felt everything he was doing to me. All I could see was what Winston wanted me to see. When I started to allow the emotions to leak out, I thought that I was sending them all to Alice and Peter, but I couldn't see them, so I had to guess based on emotional footprints that they were the ones receiving the outpouring. I was apparently wrong, and I've been making apologies to the others for not having better control. But I owe you one of the biggest because, you're right. I do know what sorrow does to you, and if I could have forced a different outcome, I would have. But it was all I could do to stay focused on fighting Winston back, and not giving in to him completely. As for Cassie, I do still thank you for your support of me and Alice, and believe me when I say, I want nothing more than to give her a happy life. And I still will. I remind you that she has a mirror ability, Rose. I wanted to send her everything I could, knowing that she would simply reflect it outward and not feel any of it herself. I haven't talked to her yet, but if her ability worked right, then she didn't feel a thing. She didn't suffer a bit of emotional turmoil. It's not too late for her happy life. But I did talk to Nessie and she understands. She's recovered and she forgave me for what she felt during my broadcasting. I don't expect you to be able to do the same any time soon. I know it was worse for you. Emotions always are, and I understand that. But what you felt, Rose, was such a small portion of what he was doing to me. He threw everything at me all at once. He made me see things no one ever should. Things that were comparable to the newborn battles I led in Texas. I had to make a split second decision. I knew that if I didn't let something go, I would lose. So, I chose to let it go to Alice and Peter because I knew they could handle it. I hated it worse than anything, I hated hurting my love like that, but she would have rather me do that than lose. And Peter's my second, he expects it. That's when I thought about Cassie's mirror, so I expanded to include her, knowing she wouldn't get hurt. I'm so sorry that the rest of you were caught in the waves I didn't know I was broadcasting. I told Nessie that Winston likes to use a Vampire's ability against itself. He wanted to make me so emotional, I would crumble. And he almost succeeded. He never expected me to be able to break through enough to send any of it back to him. I had to decide if I should keep it all to myself and fight a longer, losing, battle or if I should seek help from my family and end the battle as quickly as I could. I hoped that I made my decision in time to give Alice enough warning that she could brace for it, and warn Peter. She would have stopped me if she had known I would be hurting everyone else too. But I asked her about it, and she said that she saw the decision, but not that everyone would be impacted by it, so don't hold anything against her. If something like this ever happens again, then we'll know better how to handle it. I'll know to take a little more time, so I can really focus on who I'm using to vent my pain to, Alice, and Peter if he's there. And anyone else who volunteers, but I promise that if possible, I will always leave you out of it. We didn't know what to expect this time. The Volturi were so careful to keep Alice and Edward out until it was too late to change anything. If there is a next time, we'll all be better prepared. And I hope that you'll forgive me for this time, but I know it was bad, and that will take time. And I also promise to leave Nessie out of it. If it would help you trust me again, then we can train, and practice. I'll take you and Alice and Nessie out to the woods, and try to focus on just sending to Alice and not you or Nessie. I'll do whatever it takes. And if it'll make you feel better, I'll even let you rip my arms off a few dozen times. I'm sorry I hurt you, Rose. You're my sister, I would never do that on purpose, and I hope that you can forgive and trust me again someday." Jasper finally finished his answers to Rosalie's anger. He could feel that she had calmed down almost entirely while he was talking.
Rosalie's voice was more civilized when she spoke again. "You're wrong about one thing. I think that Cassie did feel something. It's possible that her mirror distorted it, and you didn't realize it, but she did feel something. And it hurt her, so don't let her lie to you about it when you do talk to her. And I guess that you didn't do it on purpose, so ripping your arms off, while fun, isn't necessary. And, one more thing, this was never about trust."
"Isn't it? When it comes to you, isn't it always about trust? You mentioned Royce earlier. He didn't just steal your happy life, he stole your ability to trust. You hide it better than anyone else in the family, but I still feel the betrayal. And I'm the cause of it. I broke your trust that was so hard for us to earn in the first place. How could I be so careless as to let my emotional control break like that? How could I hurt the family who loves me so much like that? Why did I have to broadcast all of it at once? It is about trust. How can you ever trust me again? I wouldn't blame you if you couldn't."
Rosalie was silent for a long moment before blinking and finally responding. "I'm sorry you had to feel that. Betrayal is the worst, not sorrow. I thought I kept it buried deep enough, but I guess I didn't. And you're right, I do have a lot of trust issues because of Royce, and that alone is what it always comes back to, how could it not? I don't think that I've ever let myself fully trust anyone. Maybe Emmett, but only sometimes. I always pull it back after I let it go. But it hurt me when you started broadcasting, it did feel like another betrayal. But part of me also knows that you had to, that you had to release some of the burden if you had any hope of defeating Winston. And that's the part of me that just wants to give you a giant hug, and tell you that you have nothing to apologize for, but I can't do that. It hurts too much to trust. I think you understand that after Maria. Out of everybody, surely, you understand. How can you trust again after her? I like the idea of training with you, but not for you to learn to avoid me. For me to learn to accept it when you're forced to broadcast. I want to trust again. And I want to start with Emmett. But after that, I want to make sure that I never feel betrayed by my family again, and if that means sitting there and letting you spit sorrow at me for 15 hours, then so be it. You know one of the reasons why I insisted on letting me and Emmett take the girls to Scandinavia with us was because I was feeling left out. You and Alice and Edward and Bella had been training so closely together and you were learning how to help each other when Winston attacked and I was starting to feel a little useless. You probably already know this, but I pretended not to care because I cared so much. I want to be able to help in the future. I hate myself for getting so mad at you, and I don't want to resort back to that again. So, help me."
Jasper didn't hesitate before pulling Rose into a tight hug. "I'm so sorry, Rose. I missed everything. I had no idea you felt left out. We would have gladly welcomed you in training. I'm sorry, I didn't think to get you and Emmett involved in it. I guess I didn't do much in the way of working to earn your trust by not offering. I just didn't dig past your mask and you were helping with Nessie and Cassie and I assumed that was enough for you. I'm so sorry, Rose. I promise you, we will be working on this. On trust and betrayal and training. All of it. With the proper training, and once you open yourself to trusting, there's a lot you can help with. Just name the place and time when you're ready to start. Alice and Emmett can help too, if you want, but until you're more comfortable, we can leave everyone else out of it."
"Thank you, Jas," Rosalie whispered too quietly for human ears before pulling out of the hug. It was the point in a movie where everyone would be in tears, and part of her longed to be able to cry.
"I mean everything I say, and you're welcome. Now, there's just one more piece of business. Where is that husband of yours? I believe we had a little bet to settle."
Rose laughed and shook her head at the same instant that the object of Jasper's inquiry entered the garage. "And what bet would that be, dear brother?" Emmett called out, feigning innocence.
"Oh, you know what bet." Jasper drawled in a deep southern accent. "I seem to remember something about you spending no more than two months in Europe…"
"Hey, that's not fair! We were only two hours later leaving than the time we arrived, and it was out of our control. The plane had a mechanical failure during preflight checks. Besides, I thought we agreed to forget about that bet when it was clear Winston was delaying his attack."
"You shouldn't have cut it so close. Two hours is still two hours. And when have you ever known me to back out on a bet?"
"Alright, alright. Two hours late, and the guy goes nuts. Do you believe this?" He turned to Rose for sympathy, but only received an exasperated eye roll in return.
Jasper laughed at Emmett's attempt to feel angry. "You know better than to even try. It was a fair bet. Besides, your punishment isn't that bad. All you have to do is finance mine and Alice's next trip to Europe."
"Yeah, you two do need a getaway. But just to clarify, when you say finance, that's just plane tickets and hotel room, right? Her shopping trips still go on her credit card, right?" Jasper made an innocent face, but didn't say anything. "Right?"
"How about a shopping budget financed by you? Everything beyond that can go on her card."
"Fair enough," Emmett grumbled, calculating how much he could afford to give Alice for her shopping budget.
"Oh, and you will be springing for the top line suite with a Jacuzzi and everything and first class tickets." Jasper smirked as he talked.
"Shut up." Emmett teasingly called as he watched Jasper leave the garage.
"Em, can I talk to you about something before we go out? It's important." Rose's uncertain voice echoed in the garage as Jasper made his way back into the main house.
"Sure, Rosie, you can always talk to me about anything," Emmett reassured her. That was the last Jasper heard before bumping into Cassie in the kitchen.
"Just the girl I was looking for," Jasper offered his pseudo daughter a small smile. "Alice thinks we should talk. And so does Rosalie."
"There seems to be a lot of that going on tonight," Cassie mumbled as she took a seat at the kitchen bar and started to play with an apple from the basket of fresh fruit that always set on the counter.
"Well, when you live forever, and big things happen, it's usually best to deal with them right away. I told you that very early on in your newborn training. Remember, we don't let things simmer for too long, we talk them out before they have a chance to get a foothold."
"You mean like Rose's trust issue?"
"That was a private conversation. You weren't supposed to be listening in on it. That's pure manners you should have learned as a human. And since this isn't the first time you've eavesdropped on a personal conversation, I'm thinking I may need to add a manners class to your training."
"No, you don't have to. I know better than to listen in, and that's why I tuned the conversation right back out. I only heard a few words. Enough to know that neither of you would like it if I kept listening. I promise, I didn't really hear anything else. Just Rose admitting that she's never trusted any of you. Not even Emmett."
"Do me a favor, and never repeat that. I wish I could tell you to forget hearing it, but I know you can't, so just don't repeat it, ok?"
"Ok, I won't, I promise. So, my turn, now. This was a big thing that happened with Winston. But I don't really have anything lingering or stewing that I need to talk through. This was so much less intense than living out of a hospital. Most of my human memories are rapidly fading. But that, life in a hospital, that will never fade, not completely. This Winston thing was nothing compared to that, so I don't really need to talk about it or work through it or whatever. It happened, but now it's over. So, can we get back to my regular training now? Emmett worked with me on my focus some while we were gone, and I think I have a pretty good handle on it now, and want to try learning to fight."
"Not so fast, Cassie. You may not feel the need to talk about this, but I do. I'm going to ask you a single question, and I need an honest answer. I did something during my battle with Winston that's almost unforgivable, and I'll never forgive myself for it if I find out you're lying to me when you answer this question. During the battle, I started to broadcast the emotions that Winston was forcing me to feel. I honestly didn't mean to do it. And it's killing me that I let the rest of the family feel that pain. It'll take some time, but I'll get over it eventually. It was what had to be done for me to win. But worse than the uncontrollable broadcasting, I actually purposefully vented a huge chunk of those emotions directly to you. My thinking at the time was that your mirror would keep you from actually feeling any of it, and that it would simply be reflected harmlessly away from you. I started slowly, and monitored you, or at least I thought I was, and it seemed to be working, so I kept going. Your mirror was supposed to protect you. But my judgment was compromised and I was obviously not thinking correctly, and I reacted hastily and harshly, without really thinking about it. Cassie, I need to know if you felt anything. Please, tell me the truth here. Even if it was just for a second, I need to know. Did you feel my pain? Did I hurt you?" Jasper's voice was desperate and for a second, there was pure silence as he watched the changes Cassie's expression for any hints of what she was thinking. But all he had were her emotions, and they were worried and concerned.
"The truth? Ok, fine, I felt it. But only for about three or four seconds, and then my mirror must have kicked in, and I was ok. Do I hold it against you? Absolutely not. Like you said, it was what had to be done. And my mirror did protect me from the worst of it. It was just a few seconds, and then it was over, nothing I couldn't handle, and honestly, nothing I haven't felt before. I'm ok with it, really, and I would do it again. I would beg you to use me if it would help you. With a little more practice, I may even be able to get my mirror to the point where I wouldn't feel it for a second."
"Oh, crud, Cassie, I'm so sorry, so, so very sorry. I should never have…" Jasper's voice broke and he could only shake his head. "I'm supposed to keep you safe," he choked out in barely more than a whisper.
"And you have. I told you, I'm fine. I don't hold a grudge or anything against you. I couldn't. You kept us all safe from the Volturi and Winston. How could I begrudge that? I may be really young, a kid even, but there's a lot that dying so young taught me. Only worry about the big picture, and treasure every moment. Pick your battles and know what hills not to die on. There are some things more important than others, and those three seconds of pain, that's not important. You winning, that's what's important. If you need me to say it, then I will, you have my forgiveness and I still love you and trust you. You are still my Vampire Angel Brother, my immortal father, whichever one you prefer. It's just a title; the role is the same regardless. Can we go upstairs now? I want to play Uno."
Jasper didn't hesitate as he wrapped both arms around the young girl in tight hug. "Thank you. I did need to hear you say that. And I can feel you are being honest with me. And we are going to work on controlling your mirror because I never, ever, ever want to hurt you like that again. Even if it was just a few seconds, it was a few seconds too long. But for tonight, yes, we can go play Uno. But remember, Alice cheats, so try to keep your thoughts off your cards and be spontaneous with your choices. Don't plan ahead."
"I'll remember that." Knowing that Jasper still needed the contact, Cassie took his hand like any human little girl taking her father's hand, and let him lead the way up the stairs to his and Alice's room.
"Hey, you two. I saw you getting here three minutes ago, what happened?" Alice asked with a huge smile when the rest of her small family entered the room. She had sent Bella and Edward away four minutes ago when she saw Cassie demanding to play Uno with her and Jasper.
"I decided to listen to Rose," Jasper explained, hoping that Alice would understand.
"Oh." Alice's simple exclamation was enough to let him know that she did understand. "And?"
"And, she was right. But I'm ok. You'll be the first to know if I'm not, I promise."
"I forgive you too. For her."
"How did you…? Right. I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Interpretation," Cassie announced, interrupting the cryptic back and forth between the couple. "Rose said that I felt Jasper's broadcasting, and he was undecided on rather or not he wanted to ask me about it. When he did ask me about it, it put us three minutes behind getting up here to play Uno. Rose turned out to be right about me feeling it, but I forgave Jasper, so he doesn't feel quite so guilty about it, at least not right now, but the emotions may resurface later on, but he promises to deal with them when they do. And you forgave him for hurting me because you saw or just know that he's feeling so guilty about it, and he's almost afraid that you won't like him very much or be angry with him for it. So, you jumped the gun, and let him know it's ok, that you don't hold anything against him because of me. Am I close?"
Jasper's jaw dropped as he listened to Cassie talk. "When did she get so smart?" He asked Alice. "When did you get so smart?" He changed the question and directed it at Cassie.
"I told you, I may be a kid, but dying has its advantages when it comes to the whole mental emotional development thing."
The three shared a laugh, and Alice couldn't stop the grin as she spoke. "So, I guess it really is back to normal now."
Jasper grinned too as he answered. "Almost. We're vampires. There's never anything normal about that. But this is as normal as it gets."
Cassie smiled as she added her thoughts. "We aren't just vampires. We're Vampire Angels."
Alice laughed again. "Right. Vampire Angels."
Jasper whispered his agreement. "Vampire Angels. I'm starting to like that."
The three played Uno for the next hour, spending as much quality time together as they could. Throughout the Cullen house, they could hear the rest of the family in similar moments of togetherness. Esme and Carlisle were in their room, whispering sweet nothings to each other. Rose and Emmett were still in the garage, her face buried in his shoulder as close to tears as she could get. For the first time, she was fully trusting him with her soul, and this time, she wouldn't take it back. Bella and Edward had taken Nessie back to their cottage and were watching her sleep. They could all hear the soft patter of wolf paws, and knew that Jacob was close by, keeping watch over his imprint as well. It was then that Alice understood vampire or Vampire Angel, it didn't matter what they called themselves. What did matter was they were family, and she was part of that family, a family who loved each other and protected each other. Semantics aside, family was the heart of what everyone longed for, and regardless of the family's species title, the feeling, the meaning, of family was what mattered. She supposed that this realization alone was what made her a Vampire Angel because only an angel, and never a monster, would know the difference between names and titles and feelings and meanings. "This is my Vampire Angel family." She whispered the words to no one and to everyone. "My Vampire Angel family." She would repeat it until the whole world heard it and believed it. "My Vampire Angel family."