A/N: This is unbeta'd so I'll apologize now. I've been having major writers block so this little story is me trying to get my feet wet again. Let me know what you think.
And who do you think you are
Running 'round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don't come back for me
Don't come back at all
'Jar of Hearts' Christina Perri
They say when you're in love everything changes. Birds sing and shit and colors are brighter. No one knows love like I do. I've made a living out of it. The poor little fucked up boy whose parents didn't love him. Shuttled around from foster home to foster home, each one being worse than the last.
At the age of 17 I was adopted by Carlisle and Esme Cullen. They were a rich well to do couple who couldn't have children. Since they were older, adopting a younger child wasn't possible. I became an unwitting pet project for Esme Cullen. A psychologist by trade she attempted to 'fix me' and since I was given everything money could buy I pretended to be 'fixed'. In her sweet, smothering, motherly way she told me I was moody and depressed. She counseled me in learning to love myself or some bullshit. Love is nothing more than a series of electrons that fire in the brain. Lust I can feel. Anger I can feel. Passion I can feel. Love is just a shitty emotion that people want to feel.
We're about to leave Chicago, Carlisle's work causes him to move frequently. Esme now stays home to be with me. As an eighteen year old senior in High School I don't know why she feels as if I'm a toddler and can't chew my own food but whatever. The constant moving gives me the perfect backdrop for my favorite game in the world. It's my job to teach as many sweet natured little girls that love is all a fairy tale. I woo them; I get them to fall in love with me. I'm the perfect boyfriend. Loving and attentive than I bed them and break their hearts.
Since I've started this game I've kept a book of all my conquests. On each page is a picture of one girl after the next. Every detail of the game is written down to how I wooed her, how I fucked her, and how I broke her heart. All 23 entries are broken and pitiful wastes of space now.
It's not only about sex. I've had women dropping their panties for me since I was 14 years old. The game and the chase of it excites me. It's like weeks and sometimes month's long foreplay before the big event. You would think the climax during sex would be the main event for me but no. It's after the sex. I'm mean and I turn into a bastard and I break their hearts until it can't be fixed, just like mine.
My first day at Forks High School in this rainy pundit town is uneventful. I've been keeping my eye out for the right kind of girl and so far all I've seen are vultures' circling around a fresh piece of meat, the meat being me. My hair is perfectly tousled and my body is lean and trim. I'm tall and handsome, I know it, and they know it. I'm also new which means I'm mysterious and sexy.
It's right after lunch in Biology where I meet my match. I always know when I've found my winner. She ignores me and blushes when I try to ask her about the assignment. I learn quickly that she's the town's sheriff's daughter. Newer to Forks herself having only been here a year she is quiet and unassuming. Her plain brown hair covers her face like a protective shield. Her eyes are the color of mud though I'll tell her they're chocolate because it's part of the game. Her body is thin and trim and when I bed her she will be easy to maneuver wherever I want her.
She's obviously a virgin which isn't surprising in the slightest. It's not a requirement for the game but it certainly makes it more interesting.
As if he's in on my game Mr. Banner the Biology teacher has issued an assignment where the person next to us is our lab partner. Bella will be my unwitting opponent before the end of the week. A few invites to my house where I can begin the wooing and it's all downhill for her from there.
Two weeks later I'm still wooing to no avail. It seems the harder I try the further away she becomes.
"You're trying to hard" she tells me, "Just get to know me and be yourself."
I've never been myself during the game because she wouldn't have anything to do with me then. So for the next month I edit, I tell her parts of me that are true and aren't a lie or a game. I only tell her the good stuff though.
After learning about how her mother decided she no longer wanted a daughter and shipped her off to live with her father, I felt bad for her. Her father a busy man who has no idea what to do with a teenage girl works when Bella is home and sleeps when she is at school. I believe he figures that if he ignores her that would be for the best. When she cries on my shoulder I feel as if I owe her something so I tell her about my childhood. My parents deserting me, being beaten by foster parents and the bigger kids. She cries for me and for the first time I feel a little lighter.
Bella is officially mine by Christmas. We exchange small but meaning full presents. Since her father is working she comes to my house for Christmas dinner. I've never brought a girl home for Esme and Carlisle to meet. They both love her which isn't surprising since she's a nice girl. It doesn't change anything though.
At least I don't think it does.
By Valentine's Day I have effectively wooed her. She loves me and tells me often, my reply is of the 'me too' variety. I never tell a girl I love her even for the game. We do the things that most couples do, dinner and movies. Popcorn and TV, she even invites my parents to join us when they are there. She's absolutely perfect and so from February to the second week of May I forget about the game. I don't know for sure when it happened but I actually fell for Bella Swan.
The night of graduation she offers her virginity to me. We go to a secret meadow behind her house that no one knows about. I'm kissing her and being gentle because I don't want to hurt her body.
It's a fact though that I'm lying to myself because I don't want to hurt her at all.
With every thrust into her she whimpers and claws at my back and I can't seem to remember why this game was such a good idea in the first place. After I have the most intense orgasm of my life she starts talking about our future. How we can both go to UW and live in an off campus apartment. How we can study and cook and make love all day. I can't tell her that it sounds like heaven to me because she is only a game. She doesn't know that while she plans to attend UW that I have already been accepted to Dartmouth.
I take her home that night after agreeing to the future that she wants because it's part of the game that I'm starting to forget. In an effort to remind myself of the game I return home and pull my book out from the loose floorboard in my room. A noise outside my window causes me to throw it haphazardly on the bed right before helping Bella through my window. She tells me she couldn't wait till tomorrow to see me. She's kissing my neck and unbuttoning my shirt and her hands are sliding into my hair and she's tugging. I lose my self in her smell and her taste and I forget about the book that is now shoved accidently on the floor.
This time she's on top. The lines of the game are blurring because I've never fucked the same girl twice, and for some reason I don't like to think of what Bella and I are doing as fucking. She's even better than the first time and when she looks right into my eyes as she comes I know what love feels like. It's not bull shit, it's not just some stupid emotion that people make up. It's real and for the first time in my life I'm relaxed and happy. I fall asleep with her head on my chest and wake up with her sitting beside me on the bed crying so hard she's shaking the bed.
In her hands is my book, my manual in how to be a bastard. Then she's yelling and screaming at me and hitting my chest when I try to pull her to me. She tugging her clothes on and she is stumbling because she's crying so hard she can't see.
"Wait." I tell her because I don't know what to do.
This is my game, my life. She doesn't get to hurt me, and right now she's hurting me so bad my chest is aching and it's hard to breath. So I do what I always do, I break her instead. I tell her she was just a fuck and that yes she was only a game. That when she leaves she will become the next page in my book and there will be many more after her. That she is nothing and that I never loved her.
I can see in her eyes that she believes me which makes no sense. I find it obvious that I'm lying shouldn't she see it too?
She leaves quietly and by that afternoon I'm on a flight to Boston. Esme and Carlisle don't understand but they agree that it's time to move on anyway. Carlisle is already being called to New York City for his next job.
For two years after leaving Bella I don't play the game. I think of her constantly and wonder how she's doing. She has no way of knowing where I am, I never told her I was going to Boston and my number is unlisted. I'm always afraid that some girl will break through her pain and decide to hurt me instead. Four years after leaving Bella I've completed a series of counseling sessions and attempted two honest relationship's both which failed miserably. After six years my psychologist suggests reaching out to Bella to apologize and make amends. That perhaps this is the reason I'm unable to move on.
One private detective and 12 hours later I have an address for one Bella Swan. It's a small house on a quiet tree lined street. I park across the street and down a few houses because she is sitting on the bottom porch step reading a book. She is still thin but she's curvier, her hair is pulled into a high ponytail and she's biting her lower lip as she reads. I roll down my window to get a better look at her and within seconds a blur comes running across the yard. A little girl of about 5 is dressed in a blue sundress. She's twirling around the yard barefoot and Bella is chasing her and laughing.
It's so obvious to me because I can see myself in her. She might have Bella's heart shaped face and porcelain skin but her hair is mine and from a distance I can tell she has my eye shape, color too maybe.
I'm just watching them spin and laugh and just being happy. I'm so entranced that I don't notice the car that has pulled into the driveway but I do hear the little girl, my daughter yell for him.
She is running straight at him and he lifts her into the air and plants kisses all over her face. She is giggling and kissing him back. He sets her down and then he's kissing Bella, kisses like they've been together forever, like they know everything about each other. This man with the funny bronzy colored hair has never hurt Bella. That I can tell from just looking at them. Bella is holding both of their hands and walking into the house and my little girl with the little blond ringlets is jumping up and down beside them.
I don't know how long I sit in my rental car. I debate on whether or not to go knock on the door or leave them be. The street is dark and Bella's house is illuminated with light, I can see their shadows moving through the windows. The lights downstairs turn off than the ones upstairs flicker on. Before long the entire house is dark. That sweet little girl is my daughter, I have the right to know her. On the same token though I never gave Bella the chance to let me know her.
In the end I drive off without ever having left the car. I'll let that man with the strange color hair who drives the safe silver Volvo take care of my girls, because that's what they are. They will always be my girls and the best thing for them is to give them a world where they can't be hurt.
I call Esme because it seems like the right thing to do. I tell her everything from a hotel phone in Seattle.
She tells me, "Jasper, come to Florida, Carlisle and I love you."
I don't know what will be next for me but wherever I go at least I know that the two most important people in my life are loved and cared for. Because life isn't a game, love isn't a prize to win or lose. Love is something that is held close to the heart and cherished. I love Bella Swan and the least I can do for her and my daughter is allow them to love without having to play a game.
Because in the end, collecting other people's hearts doesn't keep you safe from your own.