A/N: I have two wonderful and beautiful betas, Savannah_Vee & loula_ff, and I love them dearly. Thanks also to all my new friends on Twitter for helping me get this chapter done and encouraging me so much. Y'all are pretty great and I'm glad to know you all. ;)
Jasper was lounging at the top of a tall pine near, but not too near, the treaty line. It was quiet out here, acoustically and empathically. Emotions weren't just there or not there. They were more like gravity; you could never really escape them, only get a little distance.
He always came this far out when he needed a break. Here, everything felt muted. It was like all the emotions were ripples from a pebble but he was on the other side of the lake. Here, he could savor those fragile ripples. He enjoyed trying to place each one without being overwhelmed by any. This was his sanctuary.
And then it wasn't. Someone was headed his way fast and the heat of the anger they were putting off nearly startled the God of War himself from his perch. He took a deep breath and caught the scent of wolf on his tongue. Maybe he shouldn't be so close to the treaty line right now.
He started slowly climbing down the limbs, trying to catch sight of the wolf that was fast approaching. About halfway down, he finally caught sight of him. The wolf was russet brown and his fur moved like waves as he ran so fast. He was poetry in motion and Jasper wished, for a moment, he could see him a little bit closer. He should have remembered to be careful of what he wished for.
The wolf was running almost parallel to the treaty line before he caught Jasper's scent and headed toward him directly. It was definitely time to go.
Without descending any further, he leapt to the next tree, and the next, as fast as he could. He put a bit more distance between himself and the treaty line before checking to see if the wolf had ceased his pursuit or continued onto Cullen land.
A large growl came up from the ground directly below him. Damn that wolf was fast!
"You shouldn't be here!" Jasper called down. "I wasn't on your land, just near it. There's been no violation of your treaty."
He could feel the wolf's anger waning. He seemed to be trying to get himself under control. Jasper sent a small calm his way to help.
"There's no need for this to go any further. Head back to your land and I'll head home. We can forget about it entirely."
The wolf gave a small yip, seemed to take a deep breath, and turned to wander back the way he came. Instead of the anger Jasper felt when the wolf was approaching, the wolf was sending out waves of resignation and despair as he padded back for his own land. Jasper wondered for a moment what could have set the wolf on the rampage to begin with.
No way to know, he supposed, though for once he did envy Edward's power. He wished he knew what was bothering the troubled creature. He always got the what but never the why.
Jasper sighed and shrugged before turning to head back to the house. He needed to let Carlisle know what had happened in case the pack called about the incident.
The whole run back to the house, all Jasper could think about was what might have set the wolf off. He could ask Bella to check on him next time she visited but he wasn't sure which wolf it had been. Surely if it were one of her friends she'd know the color of his fur? He made a mental note to ask her when she got home.
As he stepped through the front door, Jasper found himself assaulted by Emmett's joy. He chuckled as he watched the big oaf do a happy dance for some victory on his Xbox. He loved his adopted brother and he admired the simplicity of his emotional waves but the intensity was enough to bring back the headache that he'd went out into the woods to lose.
"Hey, man! Come play some C. O. D. with me!"
"Not now, Emmett. I need to go see Carlisle first. Are the girls back yet?"
"Nah, they're still shopping. Rosie sent me a text a little while ago. She said something about Bella being ready to throttle your wife though. I don't know why Bells lets them talk her into going; she always ends up miserable and pissy, according to Rosie."
"She does it because she knows it makes Alice happy. I think we can all make the claim that we do things we hate because we want Alice happy," Jasper said with a look that told Emmett he'd best not repeat that to Alice.
"Yeah, yeah. Well, Carlisle's upstairs in his study still and I think Eddie's still hunting. Or maybe he's just avoiding me; I haven't seen him in hours."
Jasper nodded at Emmett and headed upstairs to find the family patriarch. There was little he loathed more than walking into that study, like the teenager he was pretending to be, to confess his transgressions. He managed to hold in the petulant sigh as he knocked on the door.
"Come in, Jasper," Carlisle called to him.
"Hey. Sorry to bother you," Jasper began as he stepped into the room.
"You're never a bother, Jasper. What can I do for you?" Carlisle asked, placing the medical text he'd been reading aside.
"I was out near the treaty line and I had a little encounter with one of the wolves. I don't think it'll be a big deal but I wanted to let you know, just in case it came up."
"What happened?" Carlisle asked, throwing off intense waves of concern.
"I was up in a tree, like I said, near the treaty line. The wolf came running toward the line madder than hell at Lord knows what. When he smelled me, he started my way. I came further onto our land and he followed. I stayed up in the tree but turned back to talk him down.
"He couldn't have been angry at me, because I felt him coming long before he could've smelled me. I think it was just my scent on top of his mood that set him off. Nothing really happened. I talked him down and sent him some calm and he was on his way back. I came straight on back up here to let you know, just in case, like I said."
"Jasper, why were you so close to the line to begin with?" Carlisle asked, getting that 'dad' look Jasper hated so much on his face.
"There's just a good place to sit out there that I like. It's far away from everything. There's normally never anyone that far out and it is still technically our land," Jasper explained in what he hoped was a respectful tone, when all he felt like doing was telling 'dad' that he was damn old enough to go where the hell he pleased.
Carlisle sighed. He was tired of trying to explain to Jasper that it was better to play it safe.
Jasper tried to rein in his annoyance at the emotions Carlisle was letting off.
"I'll just go to my library and do some reading then," Jasper trailed off and turned to leave.
"Just be careful, Jasper," Carlisle called after him, unintentionally sending frustration after him too.
Jasper stepped carefully down the hall and sat in a reading chair in his library. He didn't even bother grabbing something to read from the shelf. He knew he was too damn pissed off right now to read anyway, so he just sat and stared out the window, trying to calm down and not project too much.
This playing the teenager was getting way too damn old. He was no one's son to be scolded and he certainly didn't think he wanted to live this way any longer.
Alice always insisted this was where they were meant to be but if he was being honest, he didn't trust her to know a damn thing about him anymore. All she seemed interested in was pretending he was a Ken in her Dream House that she could dress up and order around.
He appreciated the lifestyle. He was glad to have found a diet he could tolerate and a support system to keep with it, but damn it he was getting real fed up with the fucking rules that went with it.
What he missed most about human life was sleep. He thought if he could just get some sleep he'd let his subconscious sort out all the bullshit and he could deal with life a little better. He wondered if a vampire even had a subconscious or whatever.
"Probably not," Edward called from the doorway, causing Jasper to jump. "Wow, you're jumpy today."
"How in the hell did you sneak up on me like that?"
"Guess you're losing your touch," Edward said with a shrug. "Heard anything from the girls?"
"Emmett got a text from Rose. I think my wife is torturing yours."
"So what's got you all philosophical today?" Edward asked, venturing further into the room.
"I don't want to talk about it. I'm going for a walk," Jasper answered, shoving past him and toward the stairs.
"Didn't you just get back?" Edward called after him.
"Yep," he answered without a pause as he took off down the stairs, out the door, and into the woods. The last thing he wanted was his "perfect" brother giving him tips on how to act and think.
"Fuck all of them," Jasper said aloud, once out of ear shot of the house, as he headed back to his sanctuary. He was done letting the family or the pack run him away from what he needed, and right now, he need the peace.
He got settled back up on his perch without any trouble. The scent of wolf still lingered but he found he didn't mind it so much. Maybe he was getting used to living this close to the pack, or maybe his visitor just didn't stink like the rest of them.
Either way, the spot was peaceful, and his again, and he thoroughly enjoyed sitting out there for the rest of the evening before heading back to the house to deal with the Cullens again.