A/N: The Twilight Universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing with stuff in it.
Much love to my Schwoogie-Muffin, HammerHips. If it weren't for her, Control and it's outtakes would never have gotten posted.
*This is an Outtake of my story "Control".
Outtake 1: First Sight
I wasn't looking forward to houseguests. We didn't usually have them. We weren't allowed them. But David was out of town on business and Mom had missed her twenty year reunion in June because he wouldn't let her go.
Somehow Rosalie and I got roped into entertaining, though.
They arrived just after nine in the morning on the hottest day of the summer—in the middle of July—in a beat-up old Ford Taurus. The man, Charlie, was tallish, but still shorter than me, with brown curly hair and brown eyes to match. He was Chief of Police in their Podunk Washington town and the stress of the job was evident in the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.
His nephew, Emmett, was all burly muscle and brown curls and blue eyes. Rosalie was smitten immediately, I could tell. He was a football player, by the Forks High Trojans T-shirt he was wearing and he was giving Rosalie this smirk like he knew exactly what she was thinking, but it was OK. He was thinking it about her.
And the kid? White blond hair and big green eyes… the shortest twelve year-old I'd ever seen at maybe four foot, five. Her eyes were on her pink high top Chucks and she was clutching a worn copy of 1984 like her life depended on it.
Bit young for Orwell, isn't she?
Mom led them in and introduced us. Sage was the kid's name. What the hell kind of a name is Sage? It's a fucking herb!
Jasper's not much better…
Stupid inner monologue.
Mom offered to take Charlie down to the fishing hut at the beach and introduce him to Aldo, who'd be happy to set him up with gear for the week. Rosalie and Emmett were already talking plans to catch a movie in town.
"Sage?" Charlie said. "You'll be OK here with Jasper?"
She shot me a careful look out of the corner of her eye and nodded. "Yes, Uncle Charlie." She half-whispered, her eyes on those pink shoes again.
Mom gave her a smile. "Sage, there's a park out beyond the back gate. There are usually some kids around your age hanging out there." She nodded again, but didn't reply.
They unloaded their bags (someone played guitar) and Charlie and Emmett took the guest room since it had two twins. Sage would use the trundle in Rosalie's room.
"Jasper?" Mom called from the top of the stairs. "Rose and Emmett have already gone. Charlie and I are heading out. You watch out for Sage, y'hear?"
"Yes, Mom." I replied, not bothering to look up from my most recently acquired Civil War book.
I heard the front door open and close, the start of a car, and then the back door open and close. I looked up in time to watch Sage crossing the yard to the back gate. Apparently, she'd decided maybe the park would be a good idea.
As much as I wasn't interested in making friends, knowing they'd be gone in a week and I'd never see them again, I couldn't help but watch the tiny girl. So small, so quiet, and though religion was certainly not my thing, I was sure that she must be the smallest Angel that Heaven had in stock.
She let herself out through the gate and broke into a run as she spotted some kids climbing on the jungle gym. She slowed as she got closer, waved, and called out to them, but I couldn't hear what she said, even with the window open. She was shifting and swaying. Making friends wasn't her forte either.
The biggest kid, I recognized him as a mini-asshole named Brady, said something and Sage's face immediately fell. He shoved past her and she hit the sand as the other kids followed. She just sat there in the sand with her eyes on those stupid pink high tops. After about five minutes, she made a swiping motion against her cheeks, stood, and marched with her back ramrod straight, back to the gate and then into the house.
I went back to my book.
A moment later, the screen door slammed again and a pink and black soccer ball collided with the fence. I watched her tear off after it, smiling slightly at the fact that she was giving her own commentary as she bobbed and weaved around the yard before kicking and nailing that same area of fence. I guess that was the goal.
For the next two hours, I half watched her and half read my book, listening to her commentary the entire time as McCarty continued to score. And then all of a sudden I was pulled from the past as she let out a frustrated shriek. I looked up to find her repeatedly kicking the ball as hard as she could at the fence, once, twice, three times… by the seventh, she was exhausted and the ball beaned her shoulder. She plopped down in the grass and began pounding it with her fists and it was then that I realized the tiny Angel wasn't as OK as I'd thought.
"Hate people. Hate Texas. Hate stupid parks and big dumb idiots and Emmett and Dad and everything."
She was flipping her shit in the backyard.
And then just as soon as she'd started, she just… stopped. Just stopped. And she sobbed and I felt my brow furrow as she stood and sat on the edge of the deck. I crawled across my bed and looked down at her through the window. She was just sitting there, her hair half-falling out of the ponytail she'd pulled it into, her legs swinging, wiping at her cheeks furiously as another sob escaped her.
"No one likes me." It was whispered. I wasn't even sure she meant to say it out loud, but there it was and she sobbed again as soon as she realized it had been spoken.
Sighing, I crawled off my bed and padded down the stairs and watched from the screen door as she sat there for the next half-hour, whispering self-deprecations to herself. She was too short, not pretty, too athletic, too smart, too dorky… she didn't have any parents.
I couldn't take it anymore. I opened the door and she immediately froze. "Hey, I was gonna make some lunch… you want some?"
Smooth. Very comforting.
I was a fifteen year-old novice when it came to dealing with girls who weren't related to me. I myself had few friends, none of them female. What the hell was I supposed to do with a tiny crier?
She took a deep breath. "No, thank you." She replied evenly. Her voice didn't betray even a hint of the fact that she'd been crying. She did this often. "But if you need help, I'm happy to." She added as I turned to go back inside. She was used to doing that too… helping… because just maybe someone would like her.
"I got it. Thanks." I headed into the kitchen and pulled out a box of mac'n'cheese and began prep.
That's what Rosalie called it. Maybe it would help? Maybe I could get her to eat some? Fifteen minutes and a burned finger later, I stepped outside again and put a bowl with half the mac'n'cheese down next to her before sitting in the lawn chair to the right of the door. Her head cocked to the side as she looked at it, stared at it actually, and then she picked it up.
"Thank you." She whispered, taking a bite. I didn't say anything, just ate my own. When she was done, she stood and turned to me. I stared back, keeping my face impassive. I wasn't sure how she'd feel knowing I heard her fit. "Can I wash your bowl for you?" she held out her tiny hand.
"No, but I'll wash yours." I told her evenly, taking it from her and standing. She stood, frozen, as I headed back inside. She was in exactly the same spot when I returned a few minutes later. "You wanna watch a movie? Or play a video game?" I asked through the screen. "I've got a pretty good selection." She just blinked at me. "Ever played Super Mario?" she shook her head. "Wanna try?" I didn't wait for an answer this time, I simply pushed the door open and she stepped inside, following me quietly up to my room.
As I began setting up the Super Nintendo, she stood in the doorway, her eyes on her shoes again.
Why pink? Of every color Converse makes shoes in, why pink?
"Come on." I patted the space next to me on my bed and held a controller out to her. She sat lightly on the edge of the bed and took the controller, running her fingers over the buttons. She'd seen one before, I could tell… but she'd never played. Maybe Emmett had one and he wasn't interested in sharing.
I sighed. "OK." I started the game and began guiding her through the buttons and the purpose of the game. After screaming and jumping after the first goomba hit her, she did quite well and she began to loosen up to the point that she began talking.
"I've never seen this game before." She told me honestly.
I smirked. "Maybe it came out before you were born."
Her chin jerked up in indignation. "I am twelve and a half. This game isn't that old."
I smiled. "No. No, it isn't." I thought a while as she tried to maintain Luigi's zig-zagging flight pattern across the board. "You like George Orwell?" she glanced at me briefly. "I saw your book."
"He's fascinating. Uncle Charlie says I can't read Animal Farm until I'm in high school though." She sighed as her turn ended. "It's really quite interesting, the way he mixes a totalitarian dictatorship with perceived freedom. It resembles Nazi Germany, in a fashion."
"I've never read the book." I admitted and she blushed fiercely. "But I have read Animal Farm." I offered. "I think you'll like it." She beamed at me.
She contented herself with looking around my room. "You like the Civil War." She commented quietly as her eyes fell to my overflowing bookcase.
"That obvious, huh?" I smiled and she blushed again. She was really kinda cool, this little Angel. "What position do you play?" she quirked an eyebrow at me. "In soccer?"
She blushed scarlet. "Goalie." She mumbled.
"Really? You seemed to be doing pretty good with the running and kicking." I commented and immediately gave myself a mental smack.
Now she knows I was watching her.
Her eyes flicked to my window as she realized my room overlooked the backyard. "It's because I'm short." She replied quietly. "If the ball goes two feet over my head, the goal doesn't count." Her face fell. "But Coach Granley said I can maybe play Forward next season." She added hopefully.
We continued playing until around six. Emmett and Rose had come back by three, but they ignored us and we ignored them. Mom and Charlie arrived back shortly before four and Mom started dinner. Sage offered to help, but Mom told her to keep on playing. I was kinda glad. I didn't like that she felt she had to help in order for people to like her.
She was quiet all through dinner. I had a feeling that was because of Emmett. He spoke for her. Whenever someone asked her a question, he was ready with an answer. It was annoying.
By nine, I was in my usual spot on the front porch swing with my guitar. Sage was somewhere in the house with everyone else.
"Uncle Charlie? Have you seen Ziggy?"
What the hell is a ziggy?
"Check the car, Kiddo. Maybe he fell out of your backpack?"
The screen door opened and Sage gave a small smile as she passed and headed for the rental. She opened the rear door and climbed in and across the seat, disappearing as she searched. She emerged triumphantly a moment later with a brown… something… and headed back for the house. She paused, however, on the steps.
"Is…" her eyes were wide. "Is that a… Fender Fifty-CE Resonator?" I nodded. "A real one?" I nodded again, smiling. "Wow." She breathed.
"You play?" I asked her and she nodded. "Well have a sit." She sat next to me on the swing and hugged what was apparently Ziggy to her chest.
It was a stuffed horse, old and tattered. One of its eyes had obviously fallen off and been replaced with a small black button. There were parts of the seam along his back that had obviously been re-stitched shut because the brown velveteen was tighter in areas and the stitching was by hand. Some of his mane had fallen out and Sage had braided it all together in an attempt to preserve what was left. There was a patch of pink cloth over the seam in his chest; obviously the cloth had become too frayed to stitch properly. I could tell Sage had done all the work herself to keep Ziggy in one piece… it was all done with love and care.
"Yes, I know I'm too old for a stuffed animal." She whispered and I realized I'd been staring at it too long. "Go ahead and laugh. Everyone does." Her voice was so small, so resigned. Everyone always did.
"Why would I laugh?" I asked. In truth, I really did want to laugh a little. I mean, she was twelve… but the more I thought about it, the more I realized Ziggy was probably the only friend this kid had. Her confused eyes met mine and I shrugged. "Ziggy, huh?"
She blushed. "His name's Ziggy Stardust… he scares away the Spiders from Mars." She mumbled. I knew the reference, but I had no clue how she knew the reference. "My dad named him… when I was little. Said that he'd scare away the spiders when he wasn't around."
I resisted the urge to point out that she was still little and simply smiled. "Wow. Pretty cool dad." I had to swallow the lump in my throat. I didn't really remember my dad. "Where is he?" I asked.
She looked away and made that swiping motion again. "He's… dead." She murmured.
"I'm sorry. My dad's dead too." She simply nodded. Unable to think of anything else to say for the moment, I began playing Frankie J's Daddy's Little Girl. She smiled. She knew the song. "You wanna play?" I asked, offering her the guitar.
She hesitated and I nodded for her to take it. She put Ziggy on the swing next to her and pulled the guitar across her lap. In that fraction of time, I noticed her pajamas. Navy blue pants and a T-shirt with a soccer ball on the front. They were boys' pajamas. Charlie obviously hadn't a clue how to shop for a girl. I suspected I wouldn't either.
She slipped the strap around her neck, got her fingers situated, and strummed, humming out a perfect A as she did. Her eyes were closed and she looked so peaceful, so relaxed, and she was smiling. She was beautiful.
The next morning, Emmett and Rose were off to the beach. Mom had to go into work. Charlie was off fishing. By the time I climbed out of bed, the house was practically deserted, except for Sage who was curled into a corner of the trundle bed, reading her book.
"Wanna go to the park?" I asked her and her eyes darkened slightly.
"I don't know." She answered quietly.
I shrugged. "Suit yourself, but I'm going to the park." And I did. I dressed and made my way out the back gate, knowing she felt that pull to me, just like I did to her. She'd follow me eventually.
Five minutes later, she did. In jeans and a sunshine yellow T-shirt with a silly cartoon rabbit and "It's Un-bunny-lievable!" on it and a pair of canary yellow Chucks that made her look like she had Tweety Bird feet… except tiny tiny tiny.
She sat on the swing next to me and I grinned. "I knew you couldn't resist."
"There's nothing else to do." She countered.
I smirked, stood, and grabbed the chains of her swing, pushing her gently. "You know what an Underdog is?"
"I don't live under a rock, Jasper."
Oh, we've got spunk this morning.
"Ever had an Underdog?" she shook her head and I grinned before grabbing the seat swing in earnest and pulling her as far back and as high as I could. "Ready?" I asked.
"Uh… yeah…" her voice was shaky and I could tell heights weren't her thing.
I ran forward and as the swing arched up again, I ducked and ran under her, smiling as I saw her face light up with that simple, stupid trick. I circled around and continued pushing her, taking her higher and lower, slower and faster, tossing in an Underdog every now and again for good measure as her hair flew out behind her, whipping my face and neck.
We went back inside for lunch around noon, and then each grabbed a book and went back to the park, climbing up into the fort to hide from the glaring sun.
"Where's your cousin Bella live?" I asked her as she yawned.
"With us… but she visits her mom in Arizona for the summer and some holidays."
"Do you get along with her?" I was trying to be nonchalant, but I was digging for anything. This kid had to have a friend somewhere.
She shrugged. "Mostly… but she's got her own friends and Emmett doesn't like me hanging around Jessica Stanley. He calls her a…" she thought a moment. "A Sloppy Slut."
I cocked an eyebrow. "Do you even know what a slut is?"
"When I asked Emmett, he told me it's what Jessica was, and when I asked Uncle Charlie, he just shook his head, so I looked it up in the dictionary. No one tells me anything." she spat the last part in irritation.
I shrugged. "Ask me whatever you want. I don't care."
She studied me for a long time over the battered 1984. Finally, her mouth popped open and she sucked in a breath. "How old are you?"
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
I could already tell that I may have made a mistake when I said she could ask anything.
"Have you ever kissed a girl?"
"Yes." I made an internal cringe at the memory.
"Why is the sky blue?"
"Because it reflects the water."
"Why is the water blue?" She was throwing anything she could think of at me. She was testing me. She wanted to prove herself correct that I had a limit, that I'd cave and ditch her.
"Because it reflects the sky."
"Why is the grass green?"
"Chlorophyll and light refraction."
"How come you speak with an accent and Rosalie doesn't?"
"She works hard not to. I don't care if someone doesn't like my accent."
"I like your accent. Why do you like the Civil War?"
"It's an interesting period of history for me." She was genuinely interested in me again.
"What's your favorite book?"
"Don't have one."
"Don't have one." I laughed. "Are we playing Twenty Questions?"
"Yes. Now shut-up and answer my questions."
I didn't have the heart to point out that I couldn't do both at once. She was just so excited that someone wanted to sit and talk to her and I couldn't bring myself to wipe the smile off her face for even a second.
The next day we walked down to the beach. I tried to coax her into the water, but she refused with a vehement shake of the head.
"You told me you go down to the beach all the time!" I cried.
"Yeah, and I sit on the beach! I don't go in the water, are you crazy? There are sharks in there and I read that Great Whites travel all the way from the southern tip of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico in the summer months because of the fish spawning. Do you see me? I'm not even an appetizer to a Great White!"
"Sage, I hardly think a shark's gonna get you in three feet of water." I tried to stifle my laugh.
"It could happen! What about Sand Sharks?"
I sighed and sat down in the sand with her.
The day after that, we spent playing guitar inside because it was raining. I didn't mind though, because I got to play around with her old Gibson Epiphone. It was rosewood, simple. It was her dad's. He taught her to play. It was old and had seen better days. She was saving to buy a newer one, so she could retire the Epiphone, have it serviced one last time, and put it away for safe keeping.
Tuesday, I took her to the music store in town and lifted her up so she could look at all the different guitars. I preferred Fenders and Samick's, but Sage was a Gibson fan all the way.
"This is your guitar." I told her, pointing out one of the brightest guitars in the Acoustic section. The center was buttercup yellow, but it faded to a fiery red the closer it got to the edges, and the pick guard had a beautiful design of gold hummingbirds and red honeysuckles.
"The Gibson Hummingbird? I don't know…" she was examining the price tag. "Well… it's an Epiphone…"
"That's your guitar. I guarantee you, that's the one you'll end up with." I put her on her feet and motioned for the clerk, Tyler, to come over. "Can we see the Hummingbird?" I asked.
"Sure thing." He pulled it off the rack and handed it to Sage.
She sat and strummed it for several minutes, humming softly to herself, her eyes closed, and I grinned as I watched the smile spread across her face. "This is my guitar." She said finally. "I wish I had enough for it now… but I guess I can put one on layaway at the store in Port Angeles."
"Told you." I replied smugly.
Wednesday I was surprised to find Collin, Jenks, and Jared, my only friends, on my doorstep. They wanted to head to the mall to trawl for girls.
"Come on, Jasper. You haven't been out with us in weeks." Collin whined, and then his eyes fixed on something behind me. "Who's the kid?"
I turned to see Sage pouring herself a glass of milk. "That's Sage." I said.
Jenks leaned around me and stared at her. "Jay, you're not like… doing stuff with her are you?"
"She's twelve." I hissed. "You're fucking sick!" I shoved him backward. "No, she's here visiting and I'm hanging out with her."
"You're babysitting." Jared replied lamely.
"No. I'm hanging out with her."
"Great, so you can ditch her for a day."
I hated the way he said that, and the fact that he'd even said it at all. I would not ditch her.
"It's OK, Jasper. You can go, I don't mind. I can read." Sage piped up from the kitchen. When I looked over my shoulder again, she wasn't in view, so she must've been hiding as she said it.
"Thanks, Sage, but we already have plans today." I called, turning back to the guys. "Sorry guys. See you next week." And I closed the door.
An hour and a half later, I was attempting to coax her into a small riding ring at Marker-Miller Ranch. She was frozen in place, her black Chucks refusing to move as her head shook from side to side and her eyes were wide with fear.
"He's not gonna hurt you." I wheedled. "Come on, I promise you won't get hurt."
"What if he throws me?"
"I won't let him." I held out my hand and she sighed and took it hesitantly. I led her into the ring and boosted her into the saddle of the old Paint horse named Bowie. I'd picked him because it reminded me of Ziggy. "Good, now take the reigns." I prompted, adjusting the stirrups for her.
An hour later, she was riding like a pro and I'd saddled my own horse to take her on a trail ride.
Thursday found us back at the park, reading because Emmett and Rosalie were sucking face on the couch. The air was heavy today, for some reason, and we realized why as soon as lightning split the sky. Before we could so much as react, the clouds opened up and began dumping rain. Sage shrieked and scrambled up into the fort with me right behind her.
"It'll let up in a minute." I told her, pushing my sopping wet hair off my forehead.
"Yeah… and then we can go back to the h-h-house and maybe h-h-have some t-tea." She shivered.
I pulled off my black Godsmack hoodie and handed it to her. "Here. It's still kinda dry."
She smiled and pulled it on over her head, flipping the hood up over her hair and sinking down into it, pulling it over her knees. "Thank you."
I smiled. "You're welcome."
"Jasper, do you have a nickname?"
"I don't either." She thought a minute. "Can I give you a nickname?"
"Sure." I smirked, wondering what she'd call me, but she was silent for a long time.
She sighed. "I think I'll call you Jazz."
"Jazz, huh?" she nodded. "You know I hate Jazz music, right?"
"Then you're just lame." She told me, cracking a smile. "But I'm still gonna call you Jazz." I grinned.
That night, I went to bed fairly early because I wanted to be up to see Sage off, but I woke up around three and laid there for a while. Finally, I got up, deciding I needed a snack and padded down the hall, stopping abruptly when I chanced a glance into Rose's room.
Rose was nowhere to be found, but neither was the trundle and there was a lump in the corner.
"Sage?" I asked and the lump moved. "Darlin', what are you doing on the floor?" I asked.
She sat up, looking sheepish. "The trundle's stuck."
"Did you tell Rose?"
She nodded. "She said she'd come in to fix it."
"How long ago was that?" I asked, fearing the answer.
Sage shrugged. "Just after eleven."
"I'll be back." I sighed. Instead of heading to the living room to bitch at Rose, which I knew would do no good, I simply headed back to my own room and yanked the trundle out from under my own bed. I spaced it a good ways away from my bed, in case my mom or Charlie or Emmett found us. I didn't want them thinking something had happened. I pulled out the spare sheets from the linen closet and made the bed up before placing one of my quilts on it. Sage was curled up again when I came back, but I just knelt down and scooped her up.
"Jazz, what are you doing?" she mumbled sleepily against my shoulder.
"There's a trundle in my room too. You shouldn't sleep on the floor. It's no good on your back." I laid her down on the spare bed and covered her up with the quilt before handing her one of my pillows. "Do you like the fan on?"
"I don't know… Rose doesn't use hers."
"Well, I'll turn it on, and if you don't like it, we can turn it off." She nodded her agreement, already half-asleep. "Goodnight, Sage."
"Night, Jasper." She mumbled.
We hugged goodbye the next day. I'd started the visit out determined not to care, thinking I'd never see these people again, but now I wasn't so sure. I had hope that maybe I'd see Sage again. I was going to miss her. She'd managed to wrap herself around my life so easily, and she hadn't even meant to.
A week later an envelope arrived for me. I never got mail.
I had to smile at the return address and then I opened it and pulled out the purple stationery. It was only a few lines:
We made it home safe. Thank you for spending time with me. You didn't have to, but it means so much to me.
Hugs and Love,
P.S. I have your hoodie and I'm not giving it back unless you write me back.
Somehow, I didn't think that'd be a problem.