A|N: Final exams were last week, so that's what was up with the no updates; the studying had to be done. Editing is so tedious, but I'm doing it. It's all coming along really well. One of my favorite relationships is really starting to develop in this one. Enjoy!
Note: Guest, I thank you for your review and your advice. Apostrophes are fickle things, but I love them. Since it's been brought to my attention, I'll fix it.
Upon writing this chapter, it occured to me that I kind of forgot about our newest couples that were added to the mix (Victoria/Riley and Felix/Alice). Sorry. I swear I'm working on my consistency.
Chapter 29: Healer
Slowly, my eyes fluttered open. Through the cloudy haze that was my vision, I could just barely make out the shape of the objects that surrounded me. It was annoying, having my sight blocked that way, but it was better than the darkness that had been surrounding me previously.
I sat up, no longer wanting to just lie there, and went to step down from whatever I was laying on—a bed, I thought—but nothing moved. My body did not feel like my own; it felt like some foreign object that I had no control over. It was just something that was for nothing more than to be looked at.
A loud, ear-piercing screech, something akin to nails on a chalkboard, echoed around in my ears, then, and I winced, pressing my hands against them tightly to block the sound; it hurt.
"Jasper, that's enough!" Charlotte yelled, disapproval coloring her tone. "You've pushed him far enough, okay? Give it a rest already." Her tone was light and sad as she continued, "Please."
There was a growl, and heated words were exchanged, but I pressed harder against my ears and tuned it all out—it was the only way I could focus on myself.
At least, I tried to focus on myself. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't recall anything prior to my waking up.
I shouldn't be able to "wake up." I shouldn't be able to forget. That just wasn't possible—not for vampires, at least. There were names and places that I remembered, but nothing that explained what was wrong with me.
"And I already fucking said I would!" Peter yelled, clearly aggravated and pissed off.
The next person to speak was, though it took me a moment or two to realize it, Emmett. "Look, we all just need to relax. Clearly this experience has shaken us all quite a bit, you especially, Jasper, so let's just all take a breather and head separate ways for a while, all right? An hour or two at the most."
"That sounds reasonable," said Riley in agreement.
A delicate, little snort came from Rosalie. "We're not the ones that need to take a breather, Emmett. It's him and his hypocryticlness..."
More words were exchanged, but I didn't bother to pay attention to them. Instead, I listened to their voices, and with that came a flood of memories all once—beginning to now.
My parents—all of our parents—they were back. They were helping us as best as they could.
Peter and I fighting had been fighting. He pushed my buttons; I wanted to hate him.
Jacob. I needed to call Jacob; I needed to grieve for the utter death of our friendship.
And Jasper, I thought rather bitterly. He's the reason I'm this way. They helped in some way. I know they did.
"Bella's awake, and she's angry," Jasper murmured.
A growl rippled through my chest at that, and my eyes rolled. If they couldn't figure that out on their own, then I didn't know why they bothered calling themselves vampires—the sleeping part, not the angry.
As their footsteps sounded on the steps, thunderous to my sensitive ears, I found myself suddenly standing, crouched low; I was ready to fight if need be. It may have been irrational, but I had awoken paralyzed, partially blind and failing to recall any previous memories while they were all fine and dandy—I didn't trust Jasper, and I sure as hell didn't trust them.
As I awaited their approach, which was taking far too long for my comfort, my mind began to drift. Something wasn't sitting right in the pit of my stomach. I thought I was missing something, still forgetting, but no matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn't come to me.
One of them pushed the door open, using a lot more force than was necessary, and I jumped. No longer in my crouch, I stood completely still, eyes wide—both scared and confused. My mind was now spiraling out of control from the copious amount of confusion, trying to put a puzzle together without all the pieces; flight or fight had become its mantra.
The thunderous footsteps, the door banging harshly against the wall—they triggered a memory in me so fierce that it scared me shitless.
And then I finally remembered it all.
"Oh. There was a storm." I gasped.
There was a storm, but not just any storm. It was my storm. I'd caused it; I'd created it. I destroyed the forest, our home—my home. The forest had become my home, and I ruined it. Jasper didn't hurt me; he saved me—from myself.
"Oh, God, what did I do?" I was still gasping, struggling to get the air into my lungs properly, though some part of my brain was trying to remind me that I didn't actually need to breathe.
Someone spoke up: "Now, Bella, don't you go gettin' yourself…"
I didn't stay to listen. Without thinking about it, I breezed past them, a ball of fury and anguish, and headed to the scene of my wrongdoings.
I felt his presence before I heard him. My instincts told me to stand up, to either run or fight because it wasn't smart to leave myself so vulnerable, but I did neither. I didn't have it in me. Instead, I curled into myself further, my fingers digging into the grass. The dirt was uncomfortable underneath my nails, but I couldn't let it go.
"I'm sorry," he said.
I whimpered. "I don't understand…"
My feet grew heavier and heavier with each step that I had taken and my resolve to see the damage I had caused weakened. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to, but I knew I needed to. There was no escaping that—I had no choice in the matter; I had to see.
Part of me hoped that the forest would still be intact, or that the mess wouldn't be too severe, but I knew better than that. I remembered the wild, unpredictable lightening, bright as it destroyed the trees around me. The thunder would never be forgotten, the way it shook the earth around me and rattled away in my ears, convincing me that they would implode. I could perfectly recall the fire and the way it felt against my skin—hot and unyielding.
Thinking about it shook me to my core, made me feel as if I were going to be physically sick. Thinking about it brought on a pesky ringing in my ears that wouldn't go away and a feeling that I was trapped inside my own ring of hell.
I didn't deserve that kind of hope.
But then I walked into the forest and nothing was as it should have been.
Or everything was exactly as it should have been, and that was what confused me.
There was no hint of destruction, no sign of death from the animals that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No, it was all just right. It looked even better than before, if that was possible. The birds were carefree in their trees, chirping away as if nothing had ever happened, and the other little critters were running around doing their own thing, although a lot of them had disappeared with my appearance. The grass was greener than I had ever seen it.
I walked into the forest expecting a complete disaster, but that wasn't at all what I got, and I just didn't understand why. I didn't conjure up the memory on my own! I knew it was real.
"You doubt yourself, Bella. Why?" he asked curiously, though I was sure he already knew the answer to that.
I frowned. "There's nothing here…except for life. That shouldn't be here! The animals should be off finding a new home; the trees should be gone or terribly marred. The grass shouldn't be so…green."
I was happy for the life that was still there, but it didn't make sense!
"Maybe it should be. Maybe you're just not understanding the full extent of what you did."
Finally, I released the grass and stood up, warily turning to face him. "I'm not."
"You know, I'm not at all surprised that you would go down the 'I'm crazy' road instead of the 'maybe I fixed my problem' one." Peter snorted. "Do you understand what I'm saying, or do I need to spell it out for you?"
I shrugged. "Just spell it out."
"You're a healer."
"I'm a w-what now?" I sputtered out, wondering if maybe I was going just a bit crazy. "A healer? I've never even heard of such a thing."
Peter seemed to be losing his patience with me quickly if his little huff and roll of the eyes was any indication. "Of course you haven't. You've only been a vampire for a short while, and no one's going to give you a rundown of every gift out there. There are too many. You're a healer, Bella. You can make things all better when they get a little boo-boo, all right?"
My eyes widened, though it wasn't from the shock of what he'd just told me (although that certainly played a big part).
"You're mad at me," I realized, taken aback by his tone.
He was known for his sarcasm and straightforwardness when the time called for it, but that wasn't the case, then. He wasn't being playful, he wasn't trying to make jokes—he was just being an asshole. Peter didn't condescend like that.
He rolled his eyes once more, and I didn't miss the way his hands balled into tight fists as he replied, "No."
"Yes, you are. Why are you so angry with me, Peter?" I asked quietly, looking down as I couldn't hold his stare any longer.
I don't know why it took me so long to see just how angry he was. His stiff posture should have been my first clue; his hard eyes my second. They were dark and...dead. Angry was such an understatement, though. He was pissed off—furious.
I looked back at him and frowned. "You apologized to me earlier."
"I'm not angry with you, and if I was, it wouldn't be because I had to say sorry," he muttered with yet another eye roll. "I know when I'm in the wrong, Bella, and I know when to apologize."
"Is it because of your fight with Jasper, then?" I questioned.
It wasn't hard to put two and two together. With Charlotte yelling at Jasper to stop, and Peter yelling that "he would," I knew Jasper must have taken out his frustration on Peter and no doubt demanded that he apologized.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to…"
The slight shake of Peter's head kept me from continuing. "It was my fault, Bella. I pushed too hard, and for that I am sorry, but stop thinking everything is about you. Yeah, the shit we're in right now is about you, but this isn't and it never will be. It's between me and your mate."
Instead of saying anything back, I just stared at him, trying to figure out what I was missing. Clearly he wasn't going to elaborate on what was going on between him and Jasper, but I didn't like being completely in the dark.
Peter stared back with the most indifferent expression I had ever seen on his face, his eyes being the only clue that was actually feeling something underneath that hard exterior of his.
My brain was working hard to figure him out.
I'd seen that look on other people before. I had even caught a glimpse of it in my own eyes in a mirror once…when I was trying to get away from Edward.
"You're scared." The words tasted sour on my tongue, and I thought I shuddered. When he nodded—so slightly that I just barely caught it—I did shudder. Peter, of all people, scared didn't fill me with hope. "But…I don't understand why," I mumbled.
Peter huffed. "Are you just completely out of it today or are you just stupid?"
"Stop being so mean!" I snapped. "I'm sorry that you're so upset, Peter. I'm sorry that you're scared, and I'd like to know why so I can try and make it better. I'm not going to know if you don't tell me. I won't read your mind. If you don't want to tell me, that's fine, but stop being an asshole."
A tense, awkward silence settled around us for a moment. He didn't seem to be looking at me anymore, but past me—thinking. A few minutes passed, and it was still quiet between us, but I could see his eyes softening up, his body relaxing slightly. He muttered something too low for my ears, but I was sure I'd heard "backbone" somewhere in there.
"Peter," I murmured, taking only one step forward. "Please…"
He sighed and roughly raked his hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to take my anger out on you. It's just…this situation we're in, I don't like it. This war shit or whatever, it doesn't sit well with me."
Again, I was more confused than ever. I didn't know much of his past, but I knew war was in it. I knew he was a survivor. I knew this one would be a piece of cake. If anyone came out alive, it would be him.
Peter would no doubt survive, and Jasper would be right by his side. Not only Jasper, but his…
"Charlotte," I whispered, eyes going wide.
Peter wasn't scared—
He was terrified.
He was terrified not for himself, but for Charlotte—his mate, his love; his life.
"Yeah," he mumbled.
I understood. Even though I knew Jasper was more than capable of taking care of himself, I was still out of my mind with fear that I would lose him.
Without thinking about it, I ran toward Peter and threw my arms around him, pulling him in for a tight hug. I didn't like that he was hurting or the way the fear seemed to be plaguing him. I didn't like the way it was turning him into someone that he wasn't, which was an asshole who didn't care about anyone else.
He didn't hug me back, but I refused to let go.
"I swear to you that as long as I am alive, no harm will come to your Charlotte," I whispered in his ear. Jasper would be upset if he ever came to know what I was doing—literally promising my life for the safety of someone else's mate—but I knew he would understand. "No matter what happens, I will protect her. I swear on my life I will."
We were all still clueless on what all I could do, I was still struggling with my control—with both the physical and emotional aspects of my existence—and I was still that naïve, little newborn who didn't know much of the world that she was thrown into, but that was something I would come through on.
The declaration was random, but it seemed right that I did it then.
His arms circled around me in his own embrace for a moment before quickly letting me go, and I stepped back, smiling. He wasn't much of a hugger, so I wouldn't push.
"Knowing someone else is looking out for Char…" He shook his head, running his hands through his hair. "Thank you, Bella."
He wasn't Jasper, but I swore I felt his relief—if only a little—and gratitude envelope me in an embrace that he wasn't so willing to give physically.
"So," I said after a moment of silence, smirking, "a healer, huh?"
The walk back to the house was slow—peaceful. There was no need, at that time, to rush. Besides, Peter was much better company than I had ever given him credit for. Sure, I knew him pretty well, I loved him as I did Emmett, but there was still a whole part of him that I just didn't understand or couldn't see, but I wanted to.
When we finally made it home, with a huff of exasperation, Peter turned to face me and asked, "Why the hell do you keep looking at me like that?"
"Do I? I'm sorry. It's just…I really like having you around, you know?" I laughed. "I've always liked you, but I'm now just getting interested in you, for lack of a better word. Why's that?"
He smiled. "You've never paid attention before."
He went in before I could get any words out in response, but it was for the better, I supposed: I didn't have anything to say to that. I followed after him, and we made our way to the living room where the others were gathered.
I immediately locked eyes with Jasper, searching for any sign that he was angry—maybe even scared —like Peter was, but there was nothing. He looked perfectly fine and that confused me. His friend—best friend, brother, I corrected— was clearly in distress,and they were, for some reason still unknown to me, pissed with each other, yet he was okay? It really didn't make sense to me.
Either he was a really good actor, or he honestly just wasn't worried about anything.
"Do you trust me again?" Jasper asked, moving to stand in front of me.
I wondered if my moment of wanting nothing to do with him affected him much more than he was letting on.
Pushing their issue aside, I shrugged, looking up at him through my eyelashes—coy. "I don't know. You did put me to sleep without my approval…"
"You did almost destroy an entire forest…" he countered.
I laughed quietly. "Touché. I have no reason to not trust you. When I first 'woke up' or whatever, I didn't understand, but I do now, and I'm okay with what you did."
"Good," was all he said before his lips were covering my own. When he finally pulled away from, albeit quite reluctantly, he rested his forehead against mine and smiled, saying, "I've wanted to do that for a good 24 hours now."
"24 hours?" I questioned, eyebrows rising. The time I'd been out didn't surprise me, but it wasn't exactly what I had been expecting. I was under the impression that it had only been an hour or two. "Huh. That was a really heavy load…"
"That's what she said!" Emmett yelled, laughing as if he had just told the funniest joke ever told.
I pulled away from Jasper, having almost forgotten that we weren't alone—almost—and rolled my eyes. "A real heavy load of lethargy, but thanks for that comic relief, Emm. It was hilarious."
"You know, another 24 without your sass and sarcasm wouldn't be so bad," he retorted, appearing extremely offended.
I grinned. "You'd go crazy if you didn't have me around, and we both know it."
Before Emmett could finish what he was saying, Charlotte stepped up to me, anxiousness coloring her face, and murmured, "Everything is okay?" her eyes darting back and forth between Peter and I.
"Everything is better than okay—it's perfect," I assured her, confused by her worry. "No hard feelings between the two of us, I promise."
"That's good. Things got pretty heated yesterday, and I didn't want there to be any grudges on either side," she said, offering up a smile.
I smiled back, but it was more forced than anything. Her reason was valid, but I didn't believe it. Obviously the problem wasn't just between Peter and Jasper. Sensing this, she shot me a peculiar look, and I knew we'd talk about it at a later date.
A brief awkward silence swept over us before Felix cleared his throat, exclaiming, "You're a healer!"
"I'm a healer!" I laughed.
Victoria smiled at me from where she sat with Riley, the two having not bothered to stand up and Peter and my's return like the others had. "This is exciting! When Jasper told us what you had done, we almost didn't believe him."
"You truly are something, Bella. Don't let that go to your head," Alice teased, laughing softly.
Everyone began to talk at once just, then, and I found myself still amazed at the fact that I no longer got overwhelmed by too many speaking together at once—that I could catch all of it was pretty cool, too. What amazed me the most were the things I learned:
Healers were rare creatures, male healers even more so; there were only a handful known of. For every healer, there was a different healing technique: sicknesses and diseases (they could cure you of a cold or cancer in seconds); physical (meaning they could fix anything from a broken bone to a shattered television); and lastly, nature, which was now my area of expertise. If something in nature was dying, I could fix it.
"Aw. I've always wanted to be a special snowflake and now look!" I exclaimed, giggling as I sat on the couch between Riley and Jasper.
Their response was a silmutaneous eye roll.
"I don't think she followed your advice, tesoro," Felix murmured to Alice, chuckling lightly.
"Of course she didn't! Bella's always been a little attention seeker!" shouted Rosalie, laughing loudly.
Charlotte argued, "No! Not Bella!"
"Yes! Bella!" Victoria and Rosalie chimed together.
They got laughs from everyone, and I rolled my eyes.
"Oh. The irony of you calling Bella out on being an 'attention seeker' is not lost on anyone of us, Rosalie! Of that I can assure you." Jasper smirking, easily dodging the pillow she halfheartedly threw his way. "And I don't know about everyone else, but I've got the feeling that Victoria isn't as innocent in the department of seeking as she would like us to believe."
Riley's cackle was a lot more amusing than Jasper's little jab. "Dude, you have no idea!"
Laughter rang out cheerily from all of us as Rosalie and Victoria began to protest, vigorously denying the claims against them.
As I sat there joking with the people that now made up my coven—my family—a feeling of pride, so vast the neither ocean nor the sky could contain it, filled me, and I felt as if the love that came with that pride was going to drown me. They all could have left eons ago, could have backed off and made sure their asses were covered, especially Alice and Victoria, but they didn't. They were still right there, preparing for a fight that they shouldn't have been forced into in the first place.
They weren't fearless, yet they still didn't take the chance to run when they could have. I was proud, and I was grateful, and they needed to know it.
With the clearing of my throat, I interrupted whatever Felix was about to say and all eyes were on me. Under the spotlight, I ducked my head, unable to keep eye-contact with any of them. "I've, uh, just been sitting here and thinking about how...amazing you all are. Seriously. I can't, I mean, I can, but still, I can't fathom what must be going through y'alls head when you look at me. You're putting your lives on the line because some higher power decided to make me this fucking vampire princess or whatever in the hell I really am.
I'm not stupid. I know I'm not the only reason you all are fighting so hard. I know you have your own agendas and reasons as well, but I want to say thank you anyway because I know part of the reason is me. I want you all to know that I am going to fight just as hard as all of you to see us through this shit storm. Thank you, I love you all, I'm so, so proud to have you on my side, and just...God, I'm rambling! I don't have the words. Just thank you, okay?"
The first one to speak was Emmett: "Leave it to Bella to completely butcher the happiness that was our time just moments ago by spewing some random speech of love and pride and, in so many words, death! Wonderful. You're welcome, Bella. And thank you, too. I wanted to spend the rest of my night paranoid and sulking." The sarcasm was thick, but his huge, shit-eating grin contradicted his words.
I laughed, venom filling my eyes instantly. Had I been able to cry correctly, I knew the tears would be next to impossible to stop. "I'm sorry," I choked out, laughing harder as the venom continued to pool. I couldn't cry, but my brain wasn't going to accept that.
"God, and know she's getting emotional!" Emmett chuckled.
"I'm sorry!" I apologized again. "I'm not purposely being this way! It's just...so fucking overwhelming, I swear. I think this is all me, though. I don't think I can blame this all on my being a newborn."
Jasper's arm tightened where it was around my waist, and his lips planted a soft kiss atop my head. I leaned into him further and smiled. I appreciated the way nothing else needed to be done or said to express just how far out feelings for each other went and would always go. Still, I turned my head to face him, lightly rubbing the tip of my nose along his cheek, my lips gently brushing against his, and breathed deeply, taking in his scent, before whispering an "I love you." I knew just how important it was to hear the words, whether he could feel it or not.
"Aww. We love you, too, Bella!" Rosalie squealed, finding the interruption of our little moment the funniest thing in the world.
I rolled my eyes but turned to grin at her. "Yeah. I'm starting to see that..."
Thereafter, the evening remained light, the atmosphere utterly free of worry. Any issues we had, whether we all knew about them or not, were pushed to the back of our minds. There was no elephant in the room. We weren't avoiding anything. The seriousness of our situation was beginning to hit us. A break before it was time for the next act was needed, so we welcomed it with open arms.
From across the room, Peter caught my eye. At some point, he'd isolated himself from the rest of us, opting to instead lean against the wall that was farthest away. Sensing my eyes on him, he opened his own and slowly raised his head from its resting position, turning it slightly to look at me. He raised a curious brow, and I smiled in return, soft and welcoming. With it, I wanted him to know that I was there to talk whenever he wanted or needed to but also that I wouldn't force it.
After it became apparent that I wasn't going to do anything more than that, he nodded, seeing what I was trying to portray, and then slipped out of the room. His footsteps up the stairs and the creak of his bed when he made it to his room was the last I heard from him the rest of that night.
When I turned my attention back to the others, it was Charlotte who caught my eye next. Her stare was unyielding, various emotions flickering through her eyes so fast that I didn't have time to properly identify them.
The rest of the week passed by without trouble, slower than usual, it seemed. It was quiet as well, which was unusual for a house full of vampires. Aside from Jasper, everyone left me alone. No trouble had transpired the remainder of the week, but the tension was still thick. I had a decision to make, and the others were more than happy to give me my space while I thought about it.
"They're all more than willing to go down whichever road you choose. It's your choice," Jasper whispered in my ear, kissing my cheek lightly. "No one's going to hate you if you don't go the way they want you to."
I looked up at him, and he smiled, gently trailing his thumb along my jaw. I closed my eyes and relaxed against his chest, sighing. I needed to get away, so Jasper and I found a small clearing and sat down, but the pressures of home followed me.
"I know that," I mumbled. "It's not them being upset with me that has me worried—scared."
"Then what is it?"
I rolled my eyes. "It's the consequences! No matter what I choose, there are going to be consequences, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with them. Is there a right or wrong here that I'm not seeing? No one's going to hate me, but will they never forgive me if I don't do what they're all wanting me to?"
The questions weren't rhetorical. When minutes went by without an answer from him, I turned around to face him, unnerved by his long silence, and frowned. "You've never been one to hold back what he thought, so don't do it now."
"You speak of me as if I have no self-control." He chuckled. "I know when it's appropriate to give my opinion and when it's not. Right now is one of those 'not' times."
"No, now is one of those times where I need your opinion more than ever! This is a relationship not a dictatorship, Jasper! I can't go making rash decisions without first knowing how my partner feels."
Again, he chuckled, nodding slowly as he asked, "You really what to hear what I have to say on this?"
"You're not going to like it," he warned.
I shrugged. "I'm prepared for the worst."
His loud laugh was his only response; however, it ended just as quickly as it had begun, and his eyes were suddenly cold and firm, unyielding in their seriousness, while his facial expression was hard as stone, free of any emotion. I shivered; the abruptness in which his demeanor could change never ceased to surprise me—frighten me, even, when I began to think about just why it was able to.
"You're fooling yourself if you believe we will all come out of this battle unscathed, Isabella"-his voice was grave and reprimanding, clearly disapproving of the way I'd been handling our newest situation-"you're even more foolish if you think not calling the boy and his pack of dogs is the wisest thing to do. You're much too childish and immature if you think that they will be left alone to their own devices after involving them so heavily in our affairs—if anything, the Volturi and their followers will go after them first as they are the easiest targets, no doubt."
My breath hitched in my throat, and my eyes widened. I had been under the impression that the pack would be safe. They knew less than I did before I was turned; going after them would be unjustifiable. It would be unfair, too, and surely no one wanted to be under a ruler—or rulers—that punished the innocent. Where was the rational thinking within the Volturi?
And if they went after the pack, what would happen to those who tended to them? What would happen to their imprints, mothers, fathers, siblings and friends? What would happen to the people that began asking too many questions? Would the Volturi they kill them all too?
That's a stupid question, I thought, bitter.
Had I really involved them too much? Jacob knew of my problems with Edward, and he knew of my growing closeness to Jasper and his friends and he, as far as he knew, thought Victoria was still after me, but that was all. Surely that wasn't enough reason to kill an entire family over, right?
Despite my visible internal conflict, Jasper continued: "Look at it this way: the safest place for them to be is here. Assuming that they're now being hunted by the Volturi, there's only so much they can do to protect their reservation. Consider their coming here killing three birds with one stone—their people will be safe, their pack will be under protection (by us) and we will have just added another ally under our belt.
You don't want to call them because you want to keep them safe and you don't want to cause further damage to your already fragile friendship with the kid. The truth of the matter is if you don't call them, all of that is going to happen and then some. You wanted my opinion, so here it is: whether you want to or not, you have to call your little friend and convince him to come and fight for our side. Right now, we can only assume the people in our corner are the Denali's and our own coven—that number is so small it's laughable. We need strong, angry fighters who have something to die for—the pack is just that.
Bella, I don't want anyone I care about dying because you decided to not call on your connections," he finished strongly, not bothering to tone down the harshness in his voice even as he watched me flinch at his words.
Part of me wanted to be angry with him, wanted to lose it like I had with Peter. He was doing the exact same thing that Peter had been doing, blaming me for our deaths—sentencing my friends to this hell that we were thrown into (Of course, that last tidbit didn't really matter—they were dying whether I made the call or not, apparently. Really, I was only responsible for our lives). What pissed me off was that he was able to do it without so much as an ounce of sympathy, not a hint of regret in his tone, and clearly wasn't going to apologize for it, yet he got upset with Peter and practically forced him to apologize to me.
But the rest of me knew better than to get angry. It would solve nothing, and he was right—they both were. We weren't going to win without numbers on our side. And if Jasper's assumption was correct, and the pack would end up in danger no matter what, then the safest place for them would be with us.
Was it the smartest thing to do, though? Did I have the right to ask them for such a thing?
No, I didn't.
"Like I said, it's your choice. Call them, don't call them—that's all up to you," Jasper said. "I'll back you no matter what."
I couldn't help the disbelieving snort that escaped me, and I couldn't quite contain my scowl.
"It may not seem like it, but I will." He offered me a smile that I wasn't so willing to return. He chuckled and pointed out, "You asked me how I felt, and that's it."
I did, and I regretted it the moment he opened his mouth.
"I can't remember his number," I said instead, the words leaving a feeling of dread and guilt within me in their wake. "I keep trying to remember, but I can't"
He pulled out his phone, played around with it for a few seconds, and then turned it so I could see the screen. Glaring back at me in bold letters was "Mutt," the only number listed under "M" in his contacts.
Why was it not surprising that he conveniently had it in his phone?
"Thanks," I muttered, warily taking the phone in to my own hands.
When it became clear that I wasn't going to do it, Jasper pressed on the name for me, and I sucked in a deep breath as it began to ring.
"Hello?" The voice on the line was deep, thick with disturbed sleep; it was unfamiliar to me. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Hello?" He paused just long enough for a response, but I said nothing. "If you're not going to speak, I'm going to hang up and try to forget about the pretentious asshole who thought it would be okay to call here at three in the Goddamn morning."
I looked toward Jasper, and he merely stared back, being absolutely no help whatsoever.
The decision was mine to make. He could hang up, and I would never have to call again. I would have to live with whatever consequences followed, and I would never be able to rid my mind of all the "what if"s, but I wouldn't have to pull them any deeper into this mess than they already were, either.
"All right. I'm hanging..."
I couldn't turn back: