Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and it's characters. I simply enjoy playing in her sandbox.
Author's note: This one shot is a joint venture between Nessiee Oriaa Whitlock (yes, that's really her name!) and myself. In case the summary was not clear enough, this is an attempt at showcasing what Jasper might have felt as he waited for Alice, Edward and Bella to return from Italy in 'New Moon'.
Special thanks to Cullen818 for her wonderful beta skills.
It was a concept that no one understood better than my kind. It meant living on and on when the ones you love wither away and perish. It meant standing still while the world changed around you. It was everything to those who didn't have it, yet for those who fell under its curse, it meant nothing but crushing loneliness.
And in that dark abyss, I had found sunshine. Alice- vibrant and joyous, a rainbow in my monochromatic life.
I remembered that night clearly, though it had been decades ago.
The ramshackle old building with it's tired lights declaring it to be an 'al nig t café'. I stood before it, tired and defeated. I had never felt more lost in my existence than on that particular night on the outskirts of Philadelphia, fleeing from the land I was born in, from the ideals I had sworn to protect and the soil I had drenched in blood.
The ambitions of Major Jasper Whitlock had been crushed the day I ran into the wretched temptress that was Maria. In three days of excruciating pain, I had lost my soul and gained an eternity. I still wondered if it was a fair trade, not that I had an option at that time. I lost my humanity to turn into a creature Lucifer himself would detest, surviving by sucking the life force of the innocents.
With the change of my status came the change in my occupation. Gone was Major Jasper Whitlock of the confederate army, only to leave behind Jasper, second in command to his mistress Maria. I knew I had been destined to be a solider, but my battles shifted from the world of the living to the realm of the undead.
A lifetime of battles were fought, for food, territory and power. My gift became my curse and I did what I had to do to survive. It was the only way I knew. But again, the world had changed, a change brought about by strange and powerful creatures that called themselves the Volturi. I did the only thing I knew, I ran in order to survive and when I was lost, I found my way to redemption.
Even before entering the café, I knew something important waited inside; something that would change me forever. Given my peculiar gift, I knew most of the human minds inside were mundane, lost in the boredom of the daily life, their emotions barely fluctuated from the normal, yet something piqued my interest.
It was there, inside, beckoning me like a siren call- it was hope. Before I could step into the little place, I caught her scent. Among the delicious aromas of human blood, there was the zesty tang of orange blossoms and somehow, I knew I had found my purpose.
She must have sensed my presence too because the hope coming from her flared into something so much more powerful, something so strong I rocked back on my heels. It was love, pure and unadulterated, wrapping me in a warm cocoon, soothing the scars that would never fade.
She had jumped down from the stool by the bar, a beatific smile on her face as she wrapped her tiny form around me.
"Thank God!" She chirped. "I thought you would never show up. I've been waiting for you for ages!"
And that was that.
The tiny, waif-like pixie, with short dark hair had taken over my life and turned Jasper Whitlock into Jasper Cullen.
"Have faith, son. They will be here soon."
Carlisle's entreaty brought me back from my reverie as I waited for the plane carrying Edward, Bella and Alice to touch down at the Sea-Tac airport.
I hated airports. I detested the anxiety, the panic and the sheer chaos. I loathed the large crowds, tempting with their adrenaline pumping, hearts thumping and blood calling to me. Yet, nothing could hold my attention today. Alice was gone. To Italy.
I felt a chill run down my spine as I thought of her, small, vulnerable in Volterra. She was tough, I always knew that, but that did not lessen my fear, not when she was facing the oldest and most powerful vampire clan in the world.
The past seventy two hours had been tiring, exhausting and mind-numbing. I cursed Edward to the depths of hell for his foolishness, foolishness I could have empathized with if he hadn't endangered Alice.
It all comes back to you, Major. It all started with you and it's only fair you suffer the consequences.
The voice in my head sounded surprisingly like Peter's. While I loved the Cullens and respected Carlisle like a father figure, Peter was my brother, far more than Edward or Emmet could ever be. He understood me and where I came from. Like me, he had been born in a war and forged by the battles he fought alongside me in Maria's army. At that moment, I wished I could talk to him, confide in him that the events I had set in motion over eight months ago by attacking Bella had now come a full circle, threatening to rip away my reason for existence from me.
I clenched my fists in impotent rage as I remembered the day my loss of control had ripped apart my family. I had been weak and the bloodlust had overtaken me. I would have drank from my brother's mate that fateful September evening had I not been stopped by force. I had never been more ashamed of myself.
Bella, gentle soul that she was, forgave my actions with ease. While Edward had been insane with fury when I had attacked Bella, on calming down, he hadn't held a grudge against me. In all my shame and guilt, Alice had soothed my wounded confidence and shattered pride in the solitude of the woods.
I wondered if I could have controlled myself better that day had I known it would be the trigger of the separation I was facing now. I had offered to leave them in peace, it was the least I could do. I had apologized over and over again to anyone who would hear and what was worse, they had forgiven me even before I could apologize.
I had wanted to be able to apologize to Bella as well, but Edward had been adamant. He refused to allow anymore contact between the Cullens and Bella. Alice had been heart broken when he forbade her from seeing Bella, personally or in her visions. His decision to leave Forks and Bella behind ruined the ties that had held us together as a family.
We had gone our separate ways, me and Alice searching for her past while she continued to keep tabs on Bella through her visions despite Edward's warnings. I could feel her pain and loss at having to leave behind Bella. I could feel her frustration with Edward for his stubbornness. But deep down, I knew I agreed with Edward's actions. There was no place for a human in a coven of vampires. It was against nature and downright risky and he had finally seen what Rosalie and I had predicted that day when he saved her from being crushed under that van. Their relationship was impossible, despite their love for each other.
"You know I am really sorry about what happened, right? I never intended for either of them to be in any kind of danger."
I growled at Rosalie's subdued apology. While I had never approved of Edward and Bella's relationship whole-heartedly, I had also not been foolish enough to underestimate the intense feelings they held for each other. Their love rivaled that of any other immortal pair in our coven and that Rosalie's callousness played a role in endangering them infuriated me.
"You just hope that they come back safe and sound. If anything happens to Alice, you will regret it!" I stated even as Emmet let out a low warning growl.
"That is enough, Jasper," Carlisle warned. "They are safe and already air borne. They will be here soon. There's nothing to worry about".
Even as he said this, I could feel his anxiety and Esme's despair clearly. The mere fact that the Volturi were now aware of the situation and had seen Edward and Alice's gifts did not bode well for the future.
Alice's panic had known no bounds when she saw Bella jump off from the cliff and the complete absence of any further vision had prompted her to leave for Forks immediately. I still wondered why I had allowed her to go see Bella alone. Probably, it was the residual guilt; I still couldn't face the girl I had tried to kill. Like a fool, I had watched her drive away in Carlisle's Mercedes as I stayed back at our home in Forks. Then all hell had broken loose. Edward was in Italy, begging the Volturi to finish him off and Alice and Bella were on a flight to Italy.
I would have swum to Italy if I had had to, but three little words had stopped me.
Don't follow me.
The words glowed on the screen of my mobile phone as I read them for the umpteenth time in the past three days since she had been gone. The only message she had sent me before switching off her mobile for her flight.
I had talked to her when she called me from Volterra, sitting in the main chambers of the Volturi, waiting for sundown to leave that city of death. I would never be able to describe the sheer terror of knowing that she was surrounded by those who wouldn't think twice before ending her. I did not care if she assured me of her well-being a million times on the phone. I needed to see her, I needed to hold her and know for sure that she was safe.
"Man, I know you're worried, but can you tone it down a notch?" said a tense Emmet as he clenched and unclenched his fists continuously as he was wont to do when restless. I had been unconsciously projecting my fears onto others.
Why was it that when you were anxious, time slowed down to the pace of molasses? After what truly felt like an eternity, their flight was announced. They had landed, but I had yet to see her!
I scanned the oncoming crowds for her, that tiny bobbing dark head in a sea of millions… and finally I saw her, her golden eyes locked on mine, her love pouring off her in waves, crashing into me with an intensity I had never felt before as I returned the love I felt for her. Finally, she stood in front of me, her eyes boring into mine as I scanned her for any sign of injury. She smiled, as she knew what I was doing, but I didn't care. I didn't bother to analyze the maelstrom of emotions coming from the rest of the family, especially Edward and Bella. Nothing mattered more than the little pixie in front of me, her golden eyes bright, the sun of my dark life.
Silently we made our way to the car parked outside. Having her safe and sound beside me, brought back a torrent of emotions, the fear, the anxiety and the anger.
She took my hand and I looked at her, driving simply by memory. Finally, finally she allowed her fear to show.
"I had to know you were safe," she pleaded.
I nodded. "Never again," I intoned.
"Never again," she promised.
All was forgiven.
I was complete once again.
Author's note: Love it? Hate it? Let me know!