Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavor, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.
Jasper still recalled with teasing irony the last test question he had answered in his Biology class at Forks High.
"What criteria must be met in order for an entity to be considered living?"
Was he alive? Certainly he fell short by several measures as defined by Mr. Banner's limited world view. What question would have served him better was, what criteria must be met in order for an entity to be considered dead?
Now, therein lie the mystery.
Jasper had once been alive. He'd possessed his men's respect, a strong hand, and a compassionate heart. Maria changed all that. She had taken that compassion and molded Jasper into a weapon of her whims. He could still see the newborn's confused expressions when they realized their end had come and not at the hands of standoffish Maria, but in the brotherly embrace of their new lives' first friend and mentor.
And Jasper had done whatever she wished. Thinking she loved him, that she needed him not only for his abilities as an empath, but for his place in his heart, he never questioned and never argued. Maria was far older than him, had seen battles and wars that he could never have dreamed of. Her experiences and judgment meant she knew what she was doing, knew what must be done. So when she told Jasper a newborn's time had come, he knew that, while the emotions he felt in parallel to the castaway rendered him in two, Maria knew best.
And then one day, he realized she didn't. Leaving Maria hadn't been an easy decision, but it had been the right one. What Jasper had told Alice and the others was true to some degree; it was because of what he felt in carrying out Maria's wishes that had finally driven him out of her arms and into the wild. What he never shared with Alice, nor anyone else, is exactly what he felt in those times. At the end, what he felt... was numb. Yes, the despair, the confusion, the horror of the newborns seeped into his consciousness, but his response was to simply stop feeling.
Just like Maria had, long ago. She shielded herself from joy, from love, from bliss. Maria felt only anger, hate, and the need to control. In his numbness, Jasper let Maria's darkness become his own, and allowed her will to be conducted through him by proxy.
Numb- No response to stimuli. Unable to adapt to his environment. Dead.
But Alice had changed all that. She had brought him back, revived his desire to live, his need to thrive. For her, he had awoken from his unchanging state. He had seen beauty anew. He had been alive.
So in love with life and in a life with love, Jasper would have done anything to protect it. When Bella Swan had entered the periphery of the Cullens' world, the state of being "alive" became a predicament. Jasper responded to stimuli. A new organism had wandered into their environment. She sucked up resources, made changes to their organizational structure. Jasper had tried to reason with Edward, tell him that it wasn't wise, wasn't safe. He hadn't listened. What irked Jasper the most was that he understood why precisely Edward had become so pigheaded. Edward, too, had lingered in numbness for too long. Bella had poked him with a stick, made him react. But Jasper swore, if anything, anything of Bella's presence in their lives put his Alice in danger, there would be repercussions.
And now, Alice was dead.
The whole family had left at Edward's request, the justification being that it was for Bella's benefit. Jasper understood, however, it was for just as much their good as well. His attack on her hadn't been unexpected, only unpredicted. How long could one walk along the edge of the fire and not expect to get burned? Bella had it coming. Edward had it coming. When they left, Jasper had been relieved. It was only a matter of time before word got back to the Volturi, and they wouldn't take too kindly to the blatant disregard for regulations. But leaving Bella alive still set him uneasy.
She was still a variable, an unknown factor that could pop up to unbalance their equation at any moment. It wasn't that he wanted her to die, but he wouldn't deny that when Alice's vision had come, a certain sense of relief had filled him. He wasn't without sympathy for Edward, but it had set the equation back in balance. Bella was dead, and the Cullens were free from the burden of having her know their truth.
Alice rushed back to Forks, intending to comfort Charlie and make sure proper respects were made. Everything after that was still a mass of confusion in retrospect. Bella wasn't dead, only foolish. Edward, however, had thought she had perished. Bella, having stared death in the face and not liking its sneer, finally realized her short-sightedness of being so willing to throw away her humanity. She refused to go with Alice to Italy when the Edward's theatrics had taken him to the Volturi, choosing instead to stay in Forks with the mongrels. Alice rushed to Volterra, trying to convince Edward the vision was wrong, Bella was alive. Edward tempted the Volturi by exposing himself in public, showing his true being.
Alice couldn't overpower him, and she couldn't convince the Volturi otherwise. They had killed her when she stood between them and her beloved brother.
Was Jasper alive? He didn't know. He felt dead, felt a lack of reason to continue to live, to thrive. But after a short time, the numbness faded into despair, and despair into anger. Anger became rage, and rage demanded revenge.
He knew what he had to do, but knew he couldn't do it alone. In his eyes, there was only one choice. He needed a proxy, needed a new born. His wife was dead because of Edward's lover, so Jasper was going to make Edward's lover serve up the vendetta for his dead wife.
He was going to change Bella Swan into a vampire.
He was going to use her newborn strength to get revenge on the Volturi.
And then, when each of them lie in piles of ash and dust in the ancient Italian streets, he was going do what he had been trained to do and had done for so many years.
He was going to kill Bella Swan.