When I woke again, it was dusk. I was in a soft bed in a room I didn't recognize. The sheets were white and pressed flat, like the kind one would find in a hospital.
Jasper was sitting next to me on the bed, his hand resting on my forehead. Only, it felt different. It felt warm, and soft. And his skin was more iridescent than I remembered. His scars peaked out from the collar line of his black dress shirt, and they seemed darker than before. His eyes were brilliant and his hair was shinier and absolutely angelic in the way the curls fell around his face.
Maybe I died, and this was heaven.
"Drink," he ordered. He held a cup to my face and pushed a straw between my lips.
I wanted to push the cup away, and ask him if he'd died too. I wanted to tell him about how much I loved him, and how death wasn't so bad if he were there with me. But the second he spoke, I was thirsty. Thirstier than I'd ever been before. My throat was screaming for moisture. So I drank.
And it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted.
He smiled softly when I finished the whole cup in one long drink. "How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Awake," I said.
"And so you will be," he said. "Bella, do you remember what happened?"
"I died?" I asked.
"In a way," he said. "We tried, Bella. All of us tried. But Victoria got to you. She bit you. And there was no one there to get the venom out. By the time we got to you, it was probably too late for that anyway." He sighed. "Bella, I'm sorry. You've been changed."
"I'm one of you?" I asked.
"I remember Jacob. He wouldn't let you help me," I said.
"Jacob likely saved your life. Without Carlisle there to stop us, none of us could have saved you. I tried to be strong for you, Bella. But if Jacob hadn't kept us away..."
I pulled him down and kissed him. His lips were soft and warm, the way I imagined they were when he was human. His hand cupped my cheek and he let out a small moan.
"I need some time," I said, "but we'll figure this out. Won't we?"
"Together," he promised.
"Will you stay with me?" I asked.
"For as long as you want me," he said.
"How does forever sound to you?" I asked.
He grinned. "You still want a paper star every day of forever?" he asked as he pulled one out of his shirt pocket and dropped it into my hand.
"Who needs stars when I have you?" I asked.
I heard footsteps in the hall, and when they paused outside the door I gave Jasper a nod.
"Come on in," he said.
The door swung open, and standing in it was Edward. There was something different about him as well, and it wasn't just my sharp new senses. My stomach dropped a little. He paused, his mouth hanging open a bit, but he gathered himself.
"Jasper. Bella." He (unnecessarily) cleared his throat.
"What are you doing here?" I asked incredulously.
"Business," he said. His eyes glowed blood red.
"Vampires have a small government, you could call it," Jasper explained. "I'll tell you all about it later. Edward has joined them."
"You took a job with the government? No more repeating high school?" I asked.
"Part of my induction involved my memories being read," Edward said stiffly. "Of course, you were part of my memory. The government wanted to ensure that you either become vampire or..." He cleared his throat again. "I delayed the investigation as long as I could, but then I got a call about what happened. I'm here to make the official report, so your case can be closed."
"Why would they take your word for it? Aren't you too involved to be subjective?" I asked.
"As I said, they have their methods of ensuring accuracy," he said.
He gave me a brief examination, which included peering into my eyes, taking my pulse, and looking at the skin on my arm. He held my wrist in his hand after he finished, and looked up at me.
"Bella, I am sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have left."
"Thank you," I said. I didn't want to tell him that it was okay, because it wasn't. But if he hadn't, what would my life have been like? Would he have ran into the fire, the way Jasper did, for me? Would I have found myself the way I did with Jasper? Would I have ever listened to a jazz band or picked up a camera or learned to stand on my own two feet? Yes. The words "thank you" were perfect.
I smiled up at Jasper. He was gorgeous, and kind, and mine. Forever.
Sixteen years later...
The sun is bright, and I love the way it feels on my skin. I just finished eating (a bear that had been getting too close to town) and I could run back home, but the sun feels too amazing today. Besides, it's Jasper's turn to rock the baby.
Jasper has a way with a local attorney. I won't say what that way was, because I made it a point to stay uninvolved. Jasper calls it a "Good Cop Bad Cop" routine. Anyway, he set us up with a social worker. We've been foster parents for two years now, specializing in babies born to addicted mothers. These children struggle the most with establishing regular sleep patterns, but for two parents who don't require sleep this is rarely a problem.
The wedding was simple and beautiful, not long after I was turned. The honeymoon, and it was one hell of a honeymoon, lasted for a year. Jasper worried constantly that first year, so we kept to ourselves. He's seen so many newborn vampires and the havoc and chaos they cause. But he's never seen anyone like me. Turns out, my ability to keep my mind blocked from Edward was amplified after the transition. I had immense control over my bloodlust from the beginning, but Jasper wouldn't trust it completely until the one year anniversary came and went.
We still see the Cullens from time to time. Carlisle and Esme still travel with Emmett and Rosalie. Alice and her mate, Beau, travel with them off and on. Beau cannot pass for a high school kid, so they can't ever stay with the Cullens very long. Edward has gone his own way, though. He didn't come to the wedding, and we haven't seen him since the day I woke up as a vampire. Alice says that he keeps in touch with her, so I guess he just doesn't have anything to say to Jasper or me.
We visit with Peter and Charlotte as often as we can. We haven't had them over for the last two years, but we took a two week vacation last year to go to South America with them. Charlotte is probably my best friend. I owe her so much. She isn't as taken with the human things (family, art, music) and Jasper and I are, but she has an endless amount of stories about her life. And she's willing to listen to mine. Plus, she loves posing for pictures.
Renee doesn't know. Honestly, she hasn't made much time for me in the last sixteen years. She doesn't notice that I haven't aged when she does visit. I think I'll have to have the talk with her someday, but I'm putting it off.
Charlie knows. Well, he doesn't know that I eat frisky bears. He does know that something has changed, and I've changed. He knows that he'll never have biological grandchildren, but he's pretty thrilled to hold foster babies whenever he visits. Thanks to Jacob and his overzealous demonstration of the supernatural, Charlie knows that there is more going on in Forks than he realizes. But the Quileute boys don't phase much these days. All the vampires cleared out, so they are getting back to life as normal.
Jacob got married a few years ago. A pretty girl from the Reservation. They have a little boy of their own now. I was so terrified that he would never speak to me again after I changed, but he recognized the role he played in that. "If the only way for you to exist is for you to exist as a vampire, then I'd rather have you as a vampire than not at all," he'd said.
I walk up the back steps and enter our home through the kitchen. Jasper is in the family room, in the wooden rocking chair. A tow-headed little girl is wrapped in a blanket and curled up on his chest. He is humming some soothing tune, rocking her back and forth as the light from the window dances off his skin. He leans down and places a soft kiss on her tiny head. This man, who used to be so out of control that he couldn't sit in a car with the human me, can care for the most vulnerable among us now without an ounce of trepidation. This adventure, parenting or close to it, was not even in the realm of possibilities for either of us the night I woke up for the last time sixteen years ago. How far we've come.
Jasper looks up at me and smiles. His eyes are bright, and I know that he's thinking the same thing as I am. He can't wait for the sun to set so he can put the baby down to bed and take me out in our backyard. He wants to wrap up in a quilt, even though the night air can never cool us, and point out constellations to me. He's done it so many times over the years that I should have learned them all. And maybe I have. But that doesn't mean I don't want him to show me again. Because there is something solid and unwavering in the distant starlight.
Author's Note: Ladies, I did forget about this fiction for a long time. It's been a year since my last update. And you know what? When I opened the email account associated with FFN, I was shocked to see that people were still commenting and PMing me to ask about this fic. This is my very first fanfiction, and I never expected anyone to read it really. I can't tell you how much it warms my heart that it wasn't forgotten by all of you. So please accept my sincere apology and my honest love. It has been an honor and a pleasure.
I hope this ending wasn't too sentimental. This image of Jasper rocking a baby in the sunlight was one of the very first things I imagined when I came up with this fic. This was always the way it was going to end.