Written for the Twilight fandom.

This is a canon, "missing moment" from New Moon, just after Edward leaves. It is written from Jasper's point of view as he tries to come to terms with the fallout from his lapse of control.

Rated T

Disclaimer: Twilight and its related characters are the creation of Stephanie Meyer. No infringement intended.

By: averysubtlegift

A Taste of Pain

(Jasper)

We were scattered. Scattered to and fro like so much chaff on the wind. Our family, as Alice would have called us, was breaking apart at the seams. I should have stayed and helped to work things out, to smooth the rough edges of emotions down to something manageable. Instead, for the first time in my existence, I took the cowards way out and ran.

I was still running.

As I ran, passing by trees and towns in flashes, I contemplated all the useless excuses I'd given for my actions. I attacked Bella. The one thing that was completely inexcusable, the one thing that could rip us apart this absolutely - and I had done it. I blamed my vampire nature. The blood lust had come roaring to life and I hadn't even tried to deny it. Having lived without limits for so very long, it felt like I always needed to work harder to retain control. And sometimes control was impossible. For me.

That was what it really boiled down to - me and my lack of control. Carlisle worked around humans and blood constantly, yet he never attacked a patient - even if he was up to his elbows in their delicious red life force. His control amazed me.

Before I found Alice, before I'd sat with Carlisle on countless nights discussing the possibility of taming the beast within, I never would have thought it possible to live without partaking in the blood of humans. Animal blood was a poor substitute for the rich and satisfying blood of people. Certainly, for me, there was the added emotional load that accompanied the feed, but I'd never really imagined denying myself forever. Carlisle's immense compassion helped him to see that it is not possible to escape the debt of taking so many lives. I was the proof of that statement.

Sometimes, on quiet nights, I have let myself run and let the emotions roll over me, the emotions attached to countless people in their final moments. There was anger and fear, rage and panic, fury and terror … and I let it wash over me, swirled into a cocktail that tasted bitter on my tongue. Worse than any of those emotions was the feeling that always came at the end. Resignation. The fight dies out, the eyes go blank and the rabid emotion pulls together into a little ball, leaving only the acquiescence to death in its place. That is the moment that has always tortured me the most. I imagine that letting myself experience all those awful feelings is a type of penance. These reparations are hollow though, they do not bring anyone back and my debt is still heavy. This was the truth that Carlisle was somehow wise enough to understand and sage enough to hold onto, despite his vampire instincts.

I slow myself up as I near my destination. I don't know that I had clearly resolved myself to coming here, originally. As I drew closer and closer, pulled by some force I couldn't name, I knew where I would wind up. I was returning to the scene of the crime, as it were. Maybe there were answers here that I couldn't find elsewhere.

Edward's scent was heavy in the trees outside of Bella's home. He had marked his territory well.

I wondered where he was now.

He'd been completely broken when he left. The anguish he felt crushed me. It was unbearable. Pain so deep and raw, with no end. It went on and on. There was nothing else.

Even after the devastation that my lapse had caused, I still struggled to fully grasp the hold this human had over Edward. The changes in him were profound. For the first time since I'd known him he seemed awake. His unbeating heart was brought back to life. I was grateful to Bella for being able to hold such sway over him. We all were. He deserved the happiness she had brought him. It wasn't this part of their relationship that I questioned. The emotional aspects all made sense to me, that was my realm, what I lived and breathed every moment. It was the physical aspect that confounded me. The restraint, the strength of will and resolve that Edward must have had to muster in order to be close to her were not something I could understand.

She was just a human.

That thought had been rattling around in my brain as I ran. It was a thought I'd never given the luxury of pondering in Edward's presence. He would have tried to tear me to shreds for thinking it. It wasn't callousness that brought the thought to my mind, it was curiosity. Edward wouldn't have believed that. He was rarely rational when it came to her.

And so I stood, in the shadows beneath her window. There was a pool of light spilling from the front window of the house, but her window was dark. She was in her room. I could hear her heart beating and I could smell the blood as it coursed through her body. I had no doubt that she was feeling the same sort of pain that Edward was, but I couldn't feel it so acutely as it was shrouded under the veil of sleep.

What was I doing here? What could I hope to accomplish? If I climbed in her window and begged her to forgive me, she would tell me that she already had, and it would be the truth. If I were to apologize she would claim fault. She accepted our nature for what it was. She wouldn't expect me to be sorry.

That was when it hit me. Understanding. She wasn't just a human, as I'd allowed myself to believe. Edward loved her. My brother had found happiness with her. She embraced him as he was, and in doing so, embraced us all. She understood the danger of walking into a house full of vampires, and she did it anyway. She loved Edward as fiercely as he loved her.

She wasn't just a human … I was just a monster. I let the crimson drops that had seeped out of her paper cut block everything else from my mind.

A horrible scream shredded the quiet of the night. My knees buckled as a wall of agony engulfed me. It was a pain so powerful that for a brief moment there was no other sensation. My eyes ceased their function, my limbs grew weak. I was taken over by the despair.

Bella's bedroom light came on. I heard her father's voice as he spoke to her in gentling tones. Her sobs continued, unabated.

This was the true measure of the destruction that I had wrecked.

I stood under her window, tasting her pain, until the sun began licking the sky with its first rays of light.