Another chapter… I know updates have been scarce these times…

Anyway, have fun with this one!

24

Carlisle POV

I am so proud of my son!

After what happened today I would never have thought I'd say something like this, but it appears that you have to take things in context. Obviously, when Alice and Jasper's friends brought back Edward barely alive, I had a huge shock and was about to throw Jasper out as any righteous father would when his first child was hurt so bad by someone else. I literally had to stop Esme from rushing out and going for Jasper's throat – I've never seen her so angry. However, Alice talked us out of it, and it looks like she also gave Edward some comfort when he was about to leave on his own. He has not yet told me what it is, but has become very thoughtful and quiet, also something I'm not used to, especially lately when he had become so self-righteous and pompous that he infuriated even his mother.

Now Bella arrived with Jasper and gave us the news about some nomad coven who were killing people just outside our radar and we figured that it must be James, about to make his move. Luckily we had Jasper and his friends there who came up with a plan, so we went looking for the nomads. I have no experience whatsoever with things like this, so we followed Jasper's lead. At his suggestion we left Charlotte with the women, to make sure nothing happened back home. Alice came along in order to use the communication line between her and Edward so we could fan out and cover more space in our search for the other vampires.

I was with Edward and Peter, checking the southern counties while Jasper, Emmett and Alice were heading northwest. After about two hours Edward and Peter stopped simultaneously and changed direction at top speed – apparently something was happening where the other group was.

When we had almost reached Port Angeles we came upon them in a forest clearing. There were signs of fires, thick acrid smoke still rising from several heaps of ashes, and there was quite a lot of tension in the air. Alice was comforting Emmett, and Jasper was standing by himself off to the side.

I checked on Emmett first, worried that he might recklessly have got himself into trouble, but when I came to him I found that he was only shaken to the core.

"What happened?" I asked.

"We found them, and Jasper … he … they were feeding on a human… so…" Emmett did not go on. Alice looked nauseous and was not talking either.

Edward came to my side. "Jasper charged in and killed them, I've just seen their memories", he said quietly.

I took a deep unneeded breath. That sight would be unsettling to anyone with humanity left. "Are they all gone then?" I asked Alice.

She shook her head, her eyes big and fearful.

I frowned turning to Jasper. "I don't understand. I thought…"

"I couldn't…" His voice was almost inaudible.

Emmett POV

Oh god, please, someone make these pictures go away! I want to wake up and find it's all been a bad dream! I would never have thought that people could get like that, not even vampires.

At first it all looked like a big adventure, and I was really looking forward to hunting some bad guys with Jasper. I was spoiling for a fight, wanting to try out all the new moves I had just learned.

We tracked them down in the vicinity of Port Angeles. The gurgling cries of some unfortunate human could be heard from quite a distance, so we doubled our speed and circled them. There were five of them, but knowing Jasper's fighting skills and relying on my own, I was not worried. You never need to worry for Alice anyway.

We were only a second behind Jasper, but by the time we had reached the clearing, all five of them were on the ground, holding their heads. Jasper must have sent feelings of horror and fear before he charged at the two guys – newborns by the look of them – who had been going at the human. In no time at all he had them dismembered, throwing a lighter at me with the order to set the remains on fire.

At the same time the leader of the coven, this James about whom Alice has told us, and another male, who looked about Carlisle's age finally managed to get out from under Jasper's spell and set out to attack him from two sides with the speed of light. Alice tried to get in between, but even for her they were too quick. Not however for Jasper, who simply turned on them and had the older one on the floor so that I could hold him down and fought on with James, a vicious type if ever there was one. The female who made up the fifth member of the group had taken one look at us and disappeared into thin air as soon as she could move again, so Alice could help me tear the black guy to bits. I don't like this, it's not like fighting at all, it hurts and I don't like hurting people who have done nothing to me.

Soon it became clear that James was no match for Jasper either, and it did not take long for us to have another tidy heap of vampire ready to be burned. The two newborns were already going up in smoke, which marred our view, so we almost missed the female suddenly dropping from a nearby tree and hurling herself at Jasper with a vengeance.

Then something strange happened: Jasper did not fight back, he just held her at arm's length, to be out of reach of her clawing hands trying to gouge out his eyes or shred him to pieces.

Alice was pushing me to light the heap that had been James, but I frowned at Jasper. "What's going on, brother?" No reaction. "Jasper?" Then I remembered that when he had been in his fighting state, Peter had addressed him differently. "Major? What should we do?"

He shook himself, let go of the female and took the lighter from me. Then he turned back to her. "Leave. GO away from this area and never come back into my sight. Understood?"

She nodded, kneeling with the remains of her friends already trying to put them back together.

"Are you out of your mind? Why were we looking for them in the first place when you were just letting them go?" Alice screeched at Jasper.

"I can't. The pain was too much…"

"What pain?" Alice looked clueless – at least this time for once it wasn't me having missed the crucial thing alone.

"She is his mate, the pain she felt when we were about to set him on fire was…" Jasper stopped talking and turned away.

The other vampires had used the time and left with what was left of the human. Of course they would need the blood to heal, and let's face it – that guy would not have been sane after what he had been through. Only…

"What about Alice? Isn't that James guy threatening to take her away from us?" I turned around looking for the direction in which we should follow them.

"Not if he values his life", Jasper said quietly. "I don't think she will let him."

I must have looked skeptical – after all, would one really be dictated to by a female? – and checked with my sister.

"No-o", Alice said slowly. "He just made the decision to leave and not to come back, and I don't see him coming back for me." Then she suddenly slumped like a balloon with the air gone.

I sat with her and tried not to look at the two pyres or remember the screeching metallic sounds of vampires being ripped apart. I felt a lot more comfortable when Carlisle arrived. Somehow he always manages to make things alright again.

We went back as soon as we were sure the fires were out. Like on the way out we were going in two groups. Only this time Jasper and Carlisle stayed back while the rest of us ran ahead. Edward and I grabbed some moose along the way – Edward really needs to feed after the day he's had, and even as a vampire I still find that food's the best comfort.

Carlisle POV

"Tell me what happened!" I said to Jasper when we were alone and jogging along in a comfortable trot.

"I just couldn't do it", he repeated after he had given me the bare facts in a concise military manner. "I have never been … comfortable with killing people; before… I just tuned out and let the monster rage, but now, with Bella and not needing to kill for food." He looked at me with desperate eyes. "You must hate me. I wanted to kill your son but did not manage to remove the threat from your daughter…"

"Jasper, I don't hate you. On the contrary, I'm proud of you."

Jasper stopped in mid-stride. "What?"

"You did not let the monster rule you, you gave in to your instinct for humanity when you did not rob that woman of her lover, and besides, from Emmett's reaction I doubt they will be seeking us out again anytime soon. This afternoon you were defending Bella against a bloodthirsty vampire, that's a completely different story. I don't think your reaction would have been much different when you were alive."

Jasper smiled. "Probably not, apart from the ripping. That would have been figuratively." Then he became serious again. "Would you really let me stay? What about Edward?"

"We will see. For the moment he is fine with it. Let's face it: it is part of the human experience, he is hurting, but I'm sure he has the resources to come to terms with the fact that Bella is with you."

"You are like areal father, do you know that?" Jasper asked.

"I hope so", I answered gruffly, trying to hide my emotions – a futile endeavor with an empath, which Jasper's grin told me. We spent the rest of the way in silence.

James's POV

I could not believe what had happened, and truth be told, it took quite some time for me to be coherent enough to actually have Victoria tell me exactly how things had played out.

"Ok", I said. "Change of plan. We're not going to do this."

"What?" Laurent and Victoria were incredulous.

"You heard me. I have just decided not to go back for Alice or these human-loving Cullens. Let's go!"

Several days later

"Now Victoria, tell me everything you can remember about the guy who took me down!"

"Well, you saw him, and the big brawny guy called him Jasper. And Major."

"Ah… Now that's interesting!"