Extra Chapter – The Right Kind of Man

For Boo Whitlock—thanks for the reviews, the support, and the inspiration for this one shot.

Starting during the dash for the train, this is the story of Jasper and Alice.

Jasper POV

Crouching low behind a barrel, Jasper cursed out loud as the situation somehow got worse.

He'd instructed his own men to try and take Emmett and the Cullens alive, but it seemed that Aro Volturi hadn't given his posse the same instructions.

"That's my daughter—you're shooting at my daughter!" Sheriff Swan was yelling, though everyone else's attention was elsewhere.

Staying with his New Volterra counterpart, Jasper followed the cover down the street as best as he could. If someone managed to put a bullet in Bella Swan, he didn't doubt that Sheriff Swan would try something crazy. Not being a father himself, Jasper had no idea how it felt to watch your little girl being dragged down the road by a known murderer while they were being shot at from all sides, but looking at Swan's face gave him a pretty good idea.

"Rose!" Jasper heard a strangled yell in the distance, and then a bloodcurdling roar that could only come from Emmett.

Cursing again, he ran around the corner, pausing only to check that the coast was clear. Hurtling over the dirt, he saw Emmett charging at Aro Volturi, his men floundering—some of them struggling to reload, others stepping forward, their fists held up in readiness.

Emmett cut through them like a knife through butter, picking Aro up as if he were a child's ragdoll; the noise they made as they crashed into the wooden wall of the tanners would have been enough to make a lesser man sick to his stomach. It didn't stop there—still roaring, Emmett aimed a succession of powerful right hooks at the Volturi man's face.

"Goddamn it, Emmett," Jasper whispered under his breath, but froze as he saw one of Aro's men pull out his gun and fire. The Sheriff had to turn his head away as he watched Emmett drop to the floor.

How was he going to be able to tell Old Mrs McCarty? Jasper sucked air deep into his lungs as he remembered numerous childhood misadventures with Emmett and his brothers.

Realizing that he was now standing in the middle of the street without any cover, Jasper turned and saw a crumpled human being lying in the dust not far from where he stood. Her long blonde hair blowing like grass in the wind identified her before he recognized Dr. Cullen on his knees by his oldest daughter's side.

Looking in the direction of the train station, Jasper saw that the gunfight was moving further away. Should he follow it, or had he already decided that he wanted no more part of what it had become?

The Cullens are good people, he told himself. Repentance was a hellhole, but he'd never seen the likes of today. Somehow the lines of right and wrong had gotten all blurred again, and now the supposedly good guys were acting like villains. He found himself sympathizing more with those on the opposite side to where he'd started out.

Jasper came to a halt standing above Rosalie and the good doctor. "Is there anything I can do?"

The girl was panting, and there were a number of red wet patches on her blouse. "Daddy..." she gasped. "Emmett...is he okay? Don't let..him do anything...stupid."

Quickly, Dr. Cullen looked up at Jasper, warning him not to say a word. "Emmett's fine, Rose. Emmett's fine."

A flicker of a smile crossed her face, as her father unfastened her buttons and winced at the wounds. He then looked up at Jasper again, speaking with a low and serious tone. "I need to stay here with her. Please will you make sure my wife and my other daughter are okay? They're still in the house."

With a grave nod Jasper turned to go. He didn't need medical training to know that the doctor wasn't staying with his oldest child to treat her, but to say goodbye. His heart weighed heavy as he wondered how many others that didn't deserve to die would be making business for the local funeral parlour today.

When he saw a known thief jump out of the Cullens' back door, he broke into a sprint. Someone else ran out of the side door Emmett had burst through not twenty minutes earlier, their arms laden with what looked like a table cloth and a clock.

"Drop that!" the Sheriff yelled, firing his pistol in the air, but by then the boy had made it around the corner. When he stepped through the door frame himself, he saw that they hadn't been the only looters.

"Get out of this house now!" Jasper's anger was so clear that the opportunists stopped what they were doing. "What the hell is wrong with you people?"

Shamed faces shuffled past him, but he didn't doubt that one or two still had some of the Cullens' personal property tucked inside their coats or up their sleeves. He would have stopped them, but instead the sound of screams from upstairs caught his attention.

Pushing through the final looters, Jasper took the first flight of stairs three at a time, but grew more wary as he attempted the second flight.

In amongst women screaming he could hear men's voices—thick accented European. When he turned the corner, he was in time to see Alice Cullen's feet disappear through the loft hatch. Still high up the ladders was Mrs. Cullen, being clutched at by two unsavoury characters that Jasper had kept eyes on since they'd arrived in town a week ago.

They both had a grip of Esme Cullen's feet and dress and she tried to shake them off. As Sheriff Whitlock finally drew close he shouted, "Hey there!" All three pairs of eyes turned in his direction.

The strangers—Romanians, he'd thought he'd heard his deputy say—let Esme go. The force with which she had been pulling herself away and their sudden decision to leave her be unbalanced her, and she came crashing to the floor, bashing her head against the wall as she came down.

The twisted position of her neck told him that he didn't need to take a closer look.

Fighting back tears of frustration, Jasper squeezed his trigger finger instinctually. The bulkier, swarthier of the two stumbled against the wall, leaving a red smear as he slid down it.

As Jasper aimed in the direction of the other, the Romanian uttered something in his native tongue, and then said, "We did not kill her. We did not wish to do that, I swear."

Jasper snarled, "I know exactly what you intended to do. Downstairs" He motioned with his gun." I swear to God you're going to hang for this."

As his captive protested his innocence, Jasper marched him outside, but stopped when he saw a dazed and confused Charlie Swan.

"Sheriff Swan. Sheriff Swan!" Jasper yelled, and finally caught his attention. "Here are my keys—put this guy in the cells. Do you hear me?"

Sheriff Swan nodded, but not in a way that said that he was fully there in the moment. He was a broken man.

Not entirely sure of Sheriff Swan's competence, Jasper decided to leave his prisoner in his custody anyway. Heading back inside the house, he made his way back up both flights of stairs, and then climbed up the old wooden ladders to the loft.

As his head appeared through the square hole, something hard and breakable smashed over his head with a long crash, and for a second he thought that he was going to fall, too, until he found his footing and caught a rung with his hand.

He blasphemed loud, the palm of his hand pressing against where whatever it was struck him. His head throbbed and his hand came away red.

Attempting to climb up again, this time he was met with a scrambling teenager and a hail of wordless screams.

"Alice. Alice! Stop it—I'm here to help." Grabbing her wrists, he finally managed to keep the writhing girl from scratching his face. Once she was still, he looked down into her wild green eyes, and repeated it again. "I'm here to help."

A few breathless seconds later, sense came back to her, though her eyes were still wide and distressed.

"Who's Alice?" the girl asked.

~X~

If the shootout seemed surreal, crazy even, then it had nothing on the aftermath. Aro Volturi's men, Sheriff Swan, and various other people, familiar and strangers, came in and out of his office, most of them shouting.

Unsure of when he last managed to close his eyes for even a moment, eventually he had to give in and leave Sheriff Swan in charge. He stepped outside to find that it was still daylight, even if he wasn't sure of the exact day. The bright sun hurt his eyes.

Dizzy, he was very dizzy, and he could swear he was beginning to hear voices and see things that weren't there. He was sick and he knew it, but if he went to see a doctor that would mean facing Carlisle Cullen.

What was a little dizziness compared to what that man had gone through? He'd lost his wife, his oldest daughter, and his future son-in-law. A few hallucinations were nothing in comparison to losing so many people you loved.

Mrs. McCarty agreed as she walked up the street beside him, though Jasper knew she'd dropped down dead when Billy Black Wolf had given her the news of Emmett's death a day earlier.

The native had been indispensible over the last few days, doing whatever Jasper had told him, despite being wounded himself. If he managed to get through this with his wits and his badge still pinned to his chest, maybe he would offer him the Deputy's job. The previous holder of that title had perished during the gun fight.

Stumbling up onto the Cullens' porch, Jasper found himself knocking on the door. It took a while, but eventually the door opened. Dr. Cullen stood there, his eyes red and his face grey.

"I'm sorry but I'm afraid I'm not seeing any patients—Sheriff?" The doctor's face dropped its scowl as he recognized who it was knocking. "You don't look well. Come inside."

Jasper snorted. The doctor hardly looked well himself, yet he helped him into a chair and removed his hat. It didn't take Doctor Cullen long to find the wound on the top of the Sheriff's head.

"You're in a bad way, Sheriff. One moment—I'll get my equipment."

The doctor rushed out of the room and slurring, Jasper called after him, "I'll wait right here!"

By the time Carlisle came back, the sheriff was slouched in the chair, unconscious.

~X~

A while later, Jasper woke up in a dark room, a candle burning by his bed. His eyes caught movement in the corner of the room and he startled, then groaned as he felt his head throbbing at the sudden shift in position.

Reaching his fingers up to where it stung, Jasper found that part of his hair was gone, and most of his head was bandaged. Before he could touch the tender spot, the shadow spoke.

"Leave it be." The blond doctor stepped into the circle of flickering light. "It'll heal quicker."

Relaxing himself, Jasper put his sore head back on the pillow. "Doctor Cullen. Sorry, I didn't mean to impose on you like this."

Sad eyes rested on the sheriff. "You don't owe me an apology."

He fell silent for a while.

"When I came back to the house...with Rose...found my wife..." The doctor's voice broke and he shook his head. "I swore that no man that had been involved in what happened would ever be allowed through my door. Let what wounds they had gotten kill them, if that's what God wanted. He takes whoever pleases him—who am I to stand in his way?

"But you were the only one to come up and offer help that day, when I was holding my daughter...watching her die. When I climbed those steps and saw Esme I thought I'd lost everything. If it wasn't for you, I might have. I have only one thing to live for now and that's Alice."

As still as a statue, Jasper waited for Carlisle to wipe a tear from his eye and swallow the lump from his throat, then asked, "Alice. Is she okay?"

"Yes, physically." The doctor's face was still sullen. "Hardly a scratch on her. Her mind, however..."

Not knowing what to say, Jasper simply lowered his eyes. When he'd found her in the loft, she had no idea who or where she was.

"She didn't even recognise me when I treated her. She called me 'doctor' instead of 'Daddy' like she always used to." Carlisle nodded in his patient's direction. "You, however, she won't stop talking about. She wants to know where the tall man with the red and yellow hair is. She thinks you're a hero, even if she has no idea what you saved her from."

"She still doesn't remember a thing?"

Carlisle shook his head.

"Maybe if I speak to her—" Jasper tried to sit up again, but groaned and slid back down, a wash of cold, black, dizziness flowing over him.

"Rest," the doctor said as he walked over to the door. "You need it. I'll send Alice up with your breakfast in the morning. You can speak to her then."

~X~

When Jasper opened his eyes the room was bright and for a moment he had to squeeze his eyelids tight shut again while he adjusted. His head still felt hot and tender but much better than it had been.

"Wake up, sleepy head. It's past ten." A female voice spoke to him, and he looked to his left. Sat on a chair pulled up close to the bed was little Alice Cullen. Her voice sounded older than she looked, and she was unexpectedly full of smiles.

Grunting, Jasper sat up in bed. "Apologies, Ma'am."

"Don't apologise. It's you that has to eat the breakfast I made. It seems that I'm not a very good cook, or at the very least I've forgotten how." She handed over a bowl of lumpy looking porridge, but dutifully Jasper took it and dug straight in. There was a distinct burned taste about it, and he imagined that it hadn't been much better warm.

"It's..." He struggled to find the right word.

"Yes, I know. I had some myself." She chuckled. "Don't worry. It won't poison you—I don't think."

Discarding his meal, he propped himself up. "Well, maybe I'll not take any chances."

Alice laughed, and it was musical. The fact that she could smile answered Jasper's question before he could ask it.

"Are you okay? Have you remembered anything yet?"

The smile on her face drifted away, and she shook her head. "No, my first memory is still sitting in a dark loft, with you shaking me and telling me that you were there to help." Her chin lifted and she looked at the top of his head. "Apparently I did that. I got you good."

With an amused sniff, Jasper replied, "That you did."

Alice's face dropped. "I've not been very good company for my father. He worries about me—as if he didn't have enough on his mind. My sister...my mother...I can't say anything to make it better because I don't remember a single thing about them."

Jasper went to pat her hands but couldn't quite close the distance. "Just being here is probably a big help to him. He said as much last night."

"You think so? " Her tone told him that she didn't agree.

For a short while, they sat there in silence, and Jasper observed her for a while.

He'd always said that young Alice Cullen had something about her, and that when she grew into a woman she'd make a finer wife than her statuesque, curvaceous, blonde sister. Many a man had disagreed with him over a glass or two of whisky. Now Rosalie Cullen was gone before she'd been married, and it hit hard in his stomach when Jasper realized the pointlessness of the argument.

Alice, she had her mother's big green eyes, and where her mother and father had caramel or fair hair, Alice's hair was long, dark, and shiny. Before, he'd only ever seen it braided, but now it flowed around her shoulders, he fully appreciated just how beautiful she really was.

Though he'd seen her around a number of times, it was only now that he'd observed her up close. Where he'd always thought that she was around fifteen, he now saw that her slight height and thin limbs had lied to him.

"How old are you?" he asked allowed without realizing the words had passed his lips, and then he hung his head in shame, not least because he guessed that she probably didn't know herself.

"I—I don't remember. I don't remember a lot of things."

A male voice answered. "You're seventeen, Alice. Almost eighteen."

Carlisle Cullen appeared in the doorway and an awkwardness grew.

"I need to change your bandages, Sheriff. And if you're feeling up to it I may allow your visitor to come up."

"A visitor?" Jasper wondered who it might be. It seemed that Alice was equally as curious.

"Sheriff Swan—law enforcement matters, I guess. Repentance isn't a town that sits quietly by waiting for its sheriff to recover."

Alice reluctantly left the room, and as the doctor began removing the old bandages, he gave Jasper a pointed look in the eye.

"Remember, she's all I've got. Don't take her away from me."

Jasper opened and closed his mouth like a goldfish for a moment, and winced as his scalp felt tender. "No, sir. I haven't forgotten. A man doesn't forget an event like that lightly."

Unless they have amnesia, Jasper thought to himself. As flickering images of the second longest day of his life passed through his mind, he envied Alice Cullen's blankness.

~X~

Charlie Swan sat in the chair by the bed, toying with the hat in his hand. He wasn't as broken as he'd been the day of the shoot out, but the harrowed look in his eyes told that he was a changed man from when he'd first stepped foot in town. Repentance had a habit of doing that.

"Fifteen dead men and women—a lot of innocent bystanders. Aro Volturi has gone back to New Volterra in a bad way." For a split second, a look of distaste crossed Sheriff Swan's face which surprised Jasper. He'd had the New Volterra sheriff pegged as very much the Volturi's man—though he could understand how his opinions might have shifted recently. "A few wounded—the good doctor has agreed to amputate one of Billy Black Wolf's legs."

Jasper chewed on his lip for a while, and then asked, "What about your daughter? Billy's son? Have you heard from them?"

Wounded brown eyes stared back at Sheriff Whitlock. "Yes, Jake sent a message from Yuma. They're both fine. Bella's...gone through a lot and she's not thinking straight, but not a scratch on her. They're heading back this way on the next stage. Bella doesn't want to take the train...again."

Jasper nodded. The girl had survived—at least one good thing had come out of this. "Masen?"

Sheriff Swan shook his head.

The sombre moment passed and Jasper turned to more routine matters of law enforcement. Had they found some of the looters? Had there been any trouble since? It seemed that Riley Biers had gone missing in suspicious circumstances, with no witnesses or a body to be found.

"Am I still sheriff or has someone taken the position?"

Giving a humourless laugh, Charlie replied, "I don't think anyone would thank you for the job right now. I'm acting sheriff, and Billy is doing the best he can with his leg. When you're ready to come back, I'll gladly hand over the reins."

"You'll want to get back to New Volterra..."

That haunted look passed over Charlie Swan's face. "When I get back to my home in New Volterra I intend to retire immediately. I've seen too much—too many things that I can't reconcile myself with."

Jasper could sympathise with that. Repentance might be a mean town, but he'd take it over working for Aro Volturi any day...and those like him.

~X~

A while later, once Jasper had slowly began to ease himself back into the broken pieces of his old life, he was sat around the dinner table with his doctor and his daughter, who it seemed held somewhat of a growing infatuation with him.

"It'll be such a shame if he has to live somewhere else, Daddy," Alice pleaded, gesturing with her fork. "He rents rooms at the saloon and you know what it's like there. It'll be a wonder if he gets a wink of sleep. It won't be good for his recovery."

Jasper felt a little uncomfortable with Alice's enthusiasm, and turned to her father. "I'm not sure it will be entirely appropriate if I stay here for much longer. People might talk—"

"People can say what they like." Carlisle's usually soft voice was strong and authoritative, but then he shrank back. "I think what Alice is trying to say is that we've gotten used to having you around, Jasper. The house might feel a little...empty without you. We'd love you to stay if it suited you."

Jasper looked at the blond doctor and then his dark-haired daughter. "If you're sure it's no trouble, Dr. Cullen."

Alice grinned wide. "It's no trouble. Besides...you make me feel safe." There was no missing the flirtatious way in which she'd spoken.

Jasper almost choked on a morsel of food, and had to take a drink of water to wash it down.

Trying to change the subject, Jasper said, "I've asked Jacob Black Wolf to be my deputy. During...he proved himself to be quite the upstanding man."

"I'm sure he'll be an asset, Jasper," Dr. Cullen agreed. "I hear he has a new wife?"

"Yes." Jasper took another sip, knowing who his wife was and how she related to the elephant in the room.

"Who is Jacob Black Wolf, and who is he marrying? What are they like? Where are they staying?" Neither man rushed to answer Alice's questions, and after a while she started pouting. "Sometimes I just wish I could remember something about what happened. I can remember things like the fact the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, how to sew a button, and how to do a very bad job of cooking, but I hear names and...I try so hard to recall faces—especially the ones that I should know...but nothing."

"It may be a blessing that you can't remember." Jasper took another tentative mouthful.

"Your mind wants to forget, Alice. You saw a lot and it chose to black it out." Carlisle put a forkful of peas into his mouth.

"But I want to remember. For all I know my life began in that loft, just before I smashed a pitcher over Jasper's head."

"If and when God sees fit to bring your memories back, then he will do it in his own sweet time."

It was obvious to see that Alice wanted to talk about it more, but the look of pain on her father's face said that he was remembering enough for the both of them at that moment. Deflated, she wiped her mouth and excused herself from the table.

Feeling uncomfortable sitting at the table, Jasper went to do likewise but Carlisle bid him sit.

"It's been too long since I left my own front porch. Tell a little about what's going on in the town, Jasper. It might be good for me."

Because it was easier than silence, Jasper opened his mouth and a flood of information left him. Whether Carlisle was listening with genuine interest or because it was a distraction, it was hard to tell, but they sat there for quite some time.

"Old Alistair apparently got into an argument when he went over to New Volterra a few days ago, and when he came back he emptied that house of his and headed east. Never seen someone up sticks and leave so quickly."

Carlisle mumbled something to show that he was still listening.

"Oh, and the mayor has decided that he doesn't want to be re-elected for another term. He's found himself a much more lucrative deal working for Aro Volturi."

"It doesn't surprise me. He never seemed to have concern for anything more than lining his own pockets. It's about time we had someone who had Repentance's best interests at heart."

Chewing on the inside of his cheek, Jasper finally said what was on his mind. "You should run for mayor."

Carlisle jolted himself upright. "Me? No. Never."

"Why not you? This town owes you a lot. Not just over what happened but the years you've spent treating the ill. You're a good, honest man—"

Carlisle slammed his hand down on the table. "No.Iwillnot." Jasper had never seen him so angry. A lot had happened to be angry about, but the doctor always seemed to swallow it down before it got too far. "This town has taken everythingfrom me. I won't give it anything else. Not a damned thing!"

Jasper said nothing as Carlisle stared at him, red-faced. Instead, he pushed back his chair and slowly headed for the door. Before he passed through, the sheriff paused.

"Just seemed to me that you still cared, is all. Now, I can round up every man in that saloon, and everyone doing something they shouldn't, and maybe for one night Repentance might have a little peace. But if we're ever going to rest safely in our beds every night this town needs cleaning out from the dirt upwards.

"Now, I'm good at what I do. I can second guess what a criminal is thinking, and I can sling a gun reasonably well, but I'm not an educated man—I'm no good at fancy words and grand speeches. You could be."

Carlisle sat there in stony silence.

"If this town is going to change it's going to need more than one man trying to do it. You think on it, doctor."

Jasper closed the door quietly behind him and was halfway up the first flight of stairs when he heard something clatter to the floor in the dining room he'd left behind. Already aware that he'd said too much to the doctor who had shown him so much kindness, he decided to carry on up to bed. As he passed Alice's door, he pretended not to notice her eye through the crack.

Carlisle was too good of a man to hermit himself away like this, growing more and more bitter by the day. The sheriff wished he had half of that goodness himself.

Jasper knew enough of Carlisle now to see that he still had the capacity for compassion—after all, Repentance's sheriff had been a key player in the situation that had robbed the doctor of his family, and yet he received the best in medical care despite the rawness of Carlisle's loss.

He has it in him to great things, Jasper thought as he opened the door to his room and sat down on his mattress, pulling off his boots. People would see Doctor Cullen's ability to rise above as inspirational, and he could show others the way. He just had to realize it himself first.

Unbuttoning his shirt and removing his pants before climbing under his sheets, Jasper lay a while wondering whether his outburst in the dining room might have been more harmful than good.

~X~

A few months later, Jasper was sitting in his office talking with his deputy and a few men that helped if things got out of hand when the door flew open and in breezed Alice.

"Surprise! I brought lunch."

In her dainty hand Alice was holding up a wicker basket with a red and white cloth over the top. He nose wrinkled a little in disgust as she took in the heady atmosphere of testosterone and unwashed male, but then she decided to ignore it. "Don't worry—I didn't cook it myself."

The men suddenly straightened themselves, removed their hats, and mumbled a few pleasantries at the lady now in their midst, laying out plates of sandwiches and small cakes. On their way out the door, they helped themselves and made their excuses. One or two winking at their sheriff.

Once alone, Alice turned and smiled.

"I hope you don't mind me interrupting your meeting, but I found out something very important this morning."

"You remembered something?" When Alice's smile faltered, Jasper regretted the question, but she soon perked up once more.

"No...but Daddy told me this morning that today is my eighteenth birthday."

"Your birthday...I wish I'd known..." Jasper ran his hand through his hair, and wondered what kind of gift was appropriate for the daughter of the man who had barely spoken a word to you in months despite living under his roof.

"Don't be silly. You don't need to buy me anything. I have the perfect gift in mind and it will cost you absolutely nothing."

Alice's cheekiness made Jasper nervous. He could think of a number of "gifts" that cost nothing but would likely make him homeless. Just thinking of them made Jasper feel guilty, though he strongly suspected that Alice had intended to cause those exact thoughts.

"Sit," Alice commanded. Jasper did as he was told. "And while we eat you can give me my present. Something I don't have myself...memories. Tell me about your past."

Little Miss Cullen regularly asked for tales, but the truth was that much of Jasper's past beyond being a small boy and before he'd returned to Repentance weren't suitable for Alice's ears. Still, today was her birthday...how could he deny her?

"Okay, but whatever you do don't tell your father. Or anyone." Jasper knew she wouldn't, but he said it anyway just to be sure.

Feeling awkward, he told Alice about some of the times when he, Peter, and Maria had worked their way from town to town, travelling, seeing the world—or at least that had been the intention in the beginning. Peter had been much like himself, a younger brother of a family that didn't have quite enough to make ends meet, and who had decided to see what kind of a life they could make for themselves.

Initially it had been just the two of them, but then they'd met a girl called Maria in a seedy little place on the border. Maria was smart, savvy, and when she'd joined their little group, they'd abandoned good old fashioned odd-jobbing for less legal ways of making money—swindling people, mainly.

The Mexican girl had stolen Jasper's heart, and a strange kind of love triangle had formed between the group of friends, but Jasper left those sordid details out of the story—some things Jasper just wasn't ready to talk about. If Alice noticed how he sometimes cut himself short she didn't say, just sat there patiently listening, nibbling on a cake or a sandwich.

Once or twice things had gotten ugly, and because of a talent for violence that Jasper had discovered, he'd often found that it was left to him to fight their way out of a number of sticky messes. But he'd accepted that as the way of things—a fair exchange for the love of a good woman and the steadily increasing sums of money passing through their hands. Jasper spent a fair portion of his share on Maria—somehow it never seemed quite enough for her.

The trouble started when Peter had lost interest in their shared girlfriend, and fell for a quiet rancher's daughter called Charlotte. When he'd come by and told Jasper and Maria that he wanted to retire, to go straight and settle down with the woman he loved, Maria was furious.

In the end, Peter had stormed out, and after a night of passion harder than Jasper had ever known, his hopes of finally having Maria for himself had died.

"Kill him," she'd whispered in his ear. "Kill her. Please me." Then she'd proceeded to do things to him with her mouth Jasper had never even thought possible.

And that's when he realized—both he and Peter meant nothing to her, even after all they'd shared. Their friendship...the imagined love...the sex...all tools that Maria had used to make puppets out of her male companions. If it had been Jasper that'd had enough and wanted out, it would be Peter on the receiving end of her not-so-sweet nothings.

In the morning, he'd dressed himself, strapped on a gun belt, and walked out of the door, climbing on his horse to ride out to the ranch where Peter would be.

At first, Peter had welcomed him until he saw the look in his eyes.

He told them what Maria had asked, and that they needed to be gone and quickly. For a while Peter had refused, saying that he wouldn't leave Charlotte's family behind.

"Then take them with you, and all the cattle, too. Do what you have to do, and go. Just make sure you're gone before Maria sends our replacements out to look for us."

Jasper had turned his horse north, leaving behind all the wordly possessions he'd amassed with his friend and lover unless they were on his person. Eventually he'd found himself back in his home town of Repentance, and the rest was history, or so they said.

He'd gotten a letter from Peter and Charlotte a while back, congratulating him on becoming sheriff, and letting him know that they'd named their oldest boy after him. Though it was nice to hear from them, it was an unwelcome reminder of his past...and made him wonder if Maria was still alive, and whether she'd also heard where he was and what he was doing.

Maybe one day she'd show up on his doorstep...

After leaving the story on that cliff-hanger, Alice rewarded him with the biggest smile ever, and practically forced another cake into his mouth. Her eyes were all misty and full of awe, not the expression he had been expecting for such a dark tale.

"I envy you, having such exciting memories like that. You've lived, seen the world. I barely see anything unless it happens right outside my window."

Jasper nodded his head grimly. Alice had seen a lot more than she'd realized. Sometimes having a history could be painful, and there was no magic wand to take what you'd seen, heard, and done away afterward.

"Even if it was just for a day, I'd love to be able to remember my mother and my sister." She looked sheepish. "In the beginning, I used to smell their clothes, their dresses and such, just to see if that would bring anything back but it never did."

Jasper chewed slowly and said nothing—they'd had this discussion numerous times.

"Everyone tells me just how my mother was so kind and gentle, and how Rosalie was so perfect. Nothing. Always nothing."

"They tell you that Rosalie Cullen was beautiful, but no one is perfect. Your sister had thorns—she was a pistol. Full of fire." She'd often seemed angry, though Jasper knew of nothing for her to be angry about. All he knew was that her first fiancé had broken off their engagement, and the whole gang had been killed afterwards.

Alice's eyes grew wide with shock.

"I'm sorry. That was insensitive of me. I apologise." Jasper wished he could take back the words as Alice remained frozen into position.

Then she began to cry.

"Alice, I'm so sorry. I should never have said—"

His apology was cut off as she launched herself over the desk at him. Alice crushed her mouth against his as her arms wrapped around him tightly.

When she finally pulled away, it took a few stunned seconds for Jasper to realise that she wasn't sobbing, she was laughing.

"I remember. I remember."

Getting up out of his seat so Alice could sit in a more comfortable position than half on his knee, half in their middle of their lunch, Jasper watched her for a moment. How much did she remember? Had her memory really returned or was this a false alarm? Did she remember what had gone on that day or was there a devastating moment of clarity yet to come?

Alice was determined that she wasn't going to stay calm and seated, and instead leaped up so Jasper had no choice but to catch her. Overwhelmed by her elation, he found himself swept up and when she bent down to kiss him as he swung her round, he had no urge to stop her.

"Jasper, I've been thinking about what you said—"

At that exact moment, Carlisle chose to walk through the door of the sheriff's office. His eyes saw Jasper kissing a tearful Alice in an awkward looking clench, and it didn't take a genius to figure out that he came to a very wrong conclusion.

Jasper allowed Alice to slide to the floor, and she walked towards her father, arms held up. "Daddy, it's not what it looks like..."

Carlisle grabbed her by the hand, dragged her out of the building, and up the road to their house. Jasper followed.

"Carlisle. Doctor Cullen. Please listen for a moment."

Not stopping, Carlisle pulled Alice along. "I invited you into my home, treated you, and this is how you repay me?"

"Daddy! Just listen. We can explain."

Jasper suddenly became aware that they were creating a scene for the people on the street going about their business, and that it might come across the wrong way yet again.

As Carlisle climbed up the steps, Jasper slid through the rail and managed to stand in front of the door before the doctor could reach for the handle.

"Please, Doctor Cullen. Hear me out. I would never do anything to hurt or embarrass your daughter. I love her, and I promise you that my intentions are honourable."

Alice took a sharp intake of breath, but Carlisle only grew angrier.

"Get out of my way. You are no longer welcome under my roof, Sheriff Whitlock, and you're never to see my daughter again. Do you understand? Your kind has done enough damage. No more. Nomore."

Finally relenting and stepping out of the way, Jasper felt his chest crumble as the Cullens' door slammed shut. Inside it was eerily calm until he heard the sound of heavy footsteps up and down the stairs.

The door flew open and a roughly packed bundle of belongings was thrust into Jasper's hands.

"You want a bed to lie in and a woman to lie in it with you. Head that way." Carlisle pointed toward the saloon. "Now go, and never come back."

Crushed, Jasper took the long walk back to the sheriff's office, too stunned to notice whether people were looking or not. Once inside, he found a corner for his worldly possessions and sat down.

He'd said the words. Finally, he'd admitted what he'd known for a long while but hadn't dared to allow himself to dwell on. He knew that Alice felt something too, so why did he feel so hopeless?

Yes, they could elope—Carlisle couldn't keep Alice in that house forever and when he did, Jasper would be there...

As nice as the dream was, Jasper knew he couldn't break his promise. He'd said that he wouldn't take Alice away from her father—she was the only thing keeping him going. It would break Carlisle, and how could Alice ever love him if he allowed that to happen?

Feeling the emotional agony, Jasper pulled his hat down over his eyes and allowed it to wash over him.

~X~

At first, Jasper thought he was dreaming, but the knocking was too persistent. Opening his eyes, he found that it was sunset, and that he'd fallen asleep in his old position, feet up on the table and leaning back into his chair.

The knocking sounded again, and clumsily Jasper got to his feet.

He almost fell over when he saw the blond doctor waiting outside.

"May I come in?" he asked politely, much calmer than earlier in the day.

Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, Jasper motioned for him to step through the door and take a seat, and then wandered back around his desk across from him.

"It seems I owe you an apology for the way I acted earlier. I wasn't myself."

Jasper cautiously lowered himself into the chair. "That's okay. In the circumstances—"

"I don't like acting that way. I'm a man like any other, and a father so dependent on his daughter that when I saw...well, I'm sure you can guess what I saw...I saw red. You're not that type of man, Jasper. I should know it by now. You've proved it to me many times."

"I'm not perfect, Doctor Cullen, but you have to believe me when I say—"

"I do believe you. Alice explained everything. It seems that you have a knack for plain speaking that can bring a person back to their senses." Carlisle shifted in his seat. "If you hadn't already talked me into running for mayor myself, I'd back you all the way."

Jasper's eyebrows hit the rafters.

"I have to admit that I'd given up hope of Alice ever remembering anything, but speaking to her about Rose...and more comes back the more she talks..." He shifted awkwardly. "My family has dark secrets, ones that I thought I'd have to carry alone for the rest of my days. Being able to speak about my oldest daughter with someone who truly remembers her as she was is a gift I didn't think I'd ever have."

"Alice...is she okay?"

The doctor even managed a smile. "Alice is on top of the world. I don't think she knows which to thank you for first—helping her remember or saying that you love her. Either way, I think you've given her a birthday she'll never forget."

Jasper didn't dare to ask whether Alice had said anything about whether she loved him in return.

Carlisle took a deep breath. "You've made me realize that maybe I should wallow in what I've lost less, try not to be so bitter, and concentrate on what I still have...what I could gain." There was an expectant pause. "I've come to the conclusion that you could be a son-in-law that I can trust. And I know that you won't have to ask Alice twice should you be keen on the idea of officially joining the family."

Jasper's face wasn't wide enough for the grin that stretched across it. Somehow, when Doctor Cullen led him to his home, opening the door to find Alice biting her nails in the corridor, it grew even wider.

Jasper never did manage to officially propose to his future wife—instead her squeal as she ran to him was all the "yes" he needed.

~X~

THE END