Warning: Will contain disciplinary spanking of a teenage vampire. If you do not find this acceptable please move along. Thanks.
Disclaimer: All the wonderful Twilight characters that you recognize are property of Stephenie Meyer. I am very grateful that she is kind enough to loan them to us. I promise no loss of limbs or life though pain and angst are a given.
AN: This is a spin off from my story "What Could Possibly Go Wrong", but I believe it will end up being capable of standing on its own. This was supposed to be the epilogue before it took a wrong turn and decided to become its own story. Not quite sure how it's going to get to where it needs to be though it would appear that it will be a rather dark journey for our sweet solider boy. Here's hoping that Daddy will be able to help him find his way back before the darkness consumes him. Thanks to my wondrous beta, Splinter and Cullen1007 for being my sounding boards as to what to do with this ... detour. Hope that it's an enjoyable journey. At the very least it should be an interesting one.
"Hello, Amanda. How are you feeling this morning?" Carlisle smiled down at the pale little raven haired girl curled up on the hospital bed before giving her mother a slight nod as he thumbed through the chart in his hand.
"A little better."
"Doctor Cullen, Mandy has been complaining a lot about the pain. Isn't there something more that you can do for her?" The girl's mother wrung her hands anxiously as she stood next to the bed fidgeting.
"We have her on morphine to ease her pain, Mrs. Hayford. I assure you we are monitoring your daughter's condition very closely and will continue to do all that we can to keep her as comfortable as possible."
A soft groan, no doubt brought on by the mother's agitation, caused Carlisle to glance quickly at his son.
"Amanda, this is my son, Jasper. Is it alright with you if he assists me today?"
The tiny girl turned her bright blue eyes on Jasper and smiled. "Sure. He's kind of cute."
The boy pushed away the torment he was experiencing from the emotionally charged room and managed to give the little girl a cocky half smile. "Well you're right cute yourself there, little lady."
The girl ducked her head and giggled as Carlisle took a seat next to the bed and began to carefully remove the dressings covering her arm.
"What happened ta ya, pipsqueak?" Jasper cocked his head showing genuine interest in the girl's case.
"Daddy was frying some fish outside while I was running around playing, not watching where I was going as usual." She rolled her eyes as she admitted to her carelessness. "I tripped over the fryer and knocked it over; dumped oil all over my arm and leg."
Jasper whistled long and low. "Ouch. That don't sound good at all."
"Tell me about it." Amanda looked down for a few seconds then glanced back up at the young wheaten haired assistant. "Hey, you talk sort of funny."
"Amanda! That is not a nice thing to say," he mother admonished sharply.
"No harm, ma'am. Besides, it's true. I'm not from around these parts. I was born down in Texas."
"Ooo, you're a cowboy?" The girl's eyes brightened with wonder.
"I've run cows a time or two," he gave her a little wink.
"Jasper, please hand me some gauze pads," Carlisle requested quietly. When there was no response from his son, he looked up to find the boy deep in conversation about horses with his patient. The doctor sighed. "Jasper."
The stern edge to his father's soft tone quickly summoned the boy's attention. "I'm sorry, Papa, did you say somethin'?"
"Sterile gauze, son. Please hand me some so I can get this covered back up."
"Oh." He glanced away to avoid the disappointed look that he feared seeing in his father's eyes. Jasper pulled on some gloves before busying himself with opening packets of gauze. "Won't that stick to the wound?"
Amanda piped up before Carlisle had a chance to take a breath. "There is a wax antibacterial mesh thingy between me and the gauze. Keeps the gauze from sticking and is supposed to keep my arm and leg from getting all nasty and falling off."
Carlisle raised his eyes and smiled at his young patient. "It is so nice to know that at least someone around here listens to me."
Jasper huffed slightly as he rolled his eyes causing the little girl to break down into a fit of giggles.
"Jasper, what did you just do?"
"Nothing, Dr. Cullen. I didn't do a single thing; least not anything that can be proven." Jasper grinned as he gave the young girl a conspiratory wink.
Carlisle shot his son a look that caused their little patient to laugh even harder.
"Not cool, pipsqueak," Jasper whispered to the girl as he poked a finger into Amanda's side making her squirm while she slapped at his hand.
Ignoring the horseplay to the best of his ability, Carlisle finished up rewrapping his patient's wounds then got to his feet. Grasping her beneath the arms, he gently lifted the child up in the bed and straightened her blanket while Jasper fluffed her pillow. "Well, young lady, it appears that you are making a splendid recovery. I would like to keep you for another day or two just to make sure that there won't be any issues with infection." Carlisle glanced up at the girl's mother for a moment before returning his attention to his patient. "But if you keep improving at this rate you will be up and running in no time. That said, I want you to be more careful about what you run into from here on out. Doctor's orders. Deal?" The doctor held out his hand which the girl quickly took and shook firmly.
"Deal." She nodded and grinned at Carlisle and his assistant. "Oh, by the way, Doctor Cullen, feel free to bring your assistant back anytime."
Carlisle gave the girl a gentle smile as he nodded slightly before exiting the room.
"See ya around, kiddo. Maybe I'll come by tomorrow if you behave yourself and do what the doctor and nurses tell ya to." Jasper gave Amanda a quick tickle and ruffled her hair before ducking out the door behind his father.
Father and son walked down the hall in a comfortable silence until Jasper finally spoke. "She was nervous when she talked about her accident."
"Yes. Obviously, I can't feel it as you can, but I can read it in her body language."
"She did have an accident, right? I mean no one would purposely…" Jasper reached out and caught his father's arm bringing Carlisle to a halt. "Carlisle?"
Carlisle met his son's eyes then looked away with a sigh. "I have my suspicions, Jasper."
"And you haven't done anything?"
As Carlisle looked back at his son he was stung by the accusatory expression in the boy's eyes. "I have filed a report with Child Protection and I'm keeping her here where I know she is safe until they complete their investigation. There is little else that I can do."
"Like hell there isn't. You go get a man like that and…"
"And what, Son? There is no place for vigilantism here. You have to let the system work. If there is abuse it will be uncovered and the child will be put in foster care; not that I'm entirely enamored with that prospect either, but at least that should offer her a safer environment. It would be better to get both mother and child out of that situation, if things are indeed as they seem."
"This is bullshit, Carlisle!"
"You will lower your voice immediately. I will not have you causing a scene." Carlisle's voice was quiet and velvety smooth, but carried a warning tone that his son could not fail to notice.
Jasper gritted his teeth as he glared at his father and whispered, "That is complete and utter bullshit and you know it. The system is a hapless joke. The only way to help them is to go and take them out of there. I get that the mother is nervous too. I take it that she is on the receiving end of a back hand or three and needs to be rescued, but you can't leave that little girl at the mercy of her father or the fucking system."
Carlisle's eyes flashed as they began to blacken. "Watch your tone and mind that tongue, Jasper. If you don't think that this bothers me, you are sadly mistaken my boy. Do you realize how often cases like this come up? No, you don't. At this stage we don't know what is going on. There is no proof and the child has made no claims of abuse. Amanda Hayford very well could have been the victim of her own clumsiness and the only thing that her parents are guilty of is not keeping a closer eye on their child; something I'm obviously guilty of myself from time to time."
"This is different and you know it."
"No I don't and neither do you. It's easy to jump to conclusions, but what we need are facts. At this moment there are people at work gathering those facts and you have to trust them to do their job. You or I would make their tasks much more difficult if we were to try to take matters into our own hands."
Jasper turned away from his father. "How do you do it? How can you come in here day after day, see these horrors for what they are and be able to sit back and let it happen again? Where is that fathomless compassion right now?"
Carlisle rubbed his eyes as a groan of frustration escaped his throat. "Jasper, if you wish to continue discussing this, I suggest that we take it to my office. This is not the place for it."
"No. I'm done. That's fine. Let your people do their jobs and what not, but if something happens to that little girl it will all be on you." Jasper's eyes darkened as he growled softly. "And for the record, if that does happen, the so called father's ass is mine. His life won't be worth a plugged nickel."
Carlisle reached out and grabbed his son's wrist firmly. "You will do nothing. Right now, you are going to take a little break. Go outside. Take a walk. Clear your head, son because it seems that the ambient emotions are starting to wear on you and causing you not to think straight. Take as much time as you need, then when you are ready come back and have me paged. I would prefer that you not wander around the hospital by yourself right now. You've maintained excellent control today, but this emotional upheaval is taking a toll on you. We don't need any accidents."
"Jasper, do as I say." While spoken just above a whisper, Carlisle's words carried the full force of his authority.
Both men stared at one another for several seconds before Jasper finally nodded and headed towards the nearest door. As the boy stepped outside, Carlisle sighed heavily and ran his hand through his hair in an attempt to release the stress from the last few minutes from his body. Closing his eyes, he leaned against the wall, concentrating on the slow intake of air into his useless lungs.
"Are you alright, Dr. Cullen?"
"Yes, Gloria. Thank you for asking. Just had a minor misunderstanding with my son; nothing to worry about. Children have a tendency to be a bit hard headed sometimes." Carlisle opened his eyes trusting that the calming effect of his measured breathing had returned them to their golden color.
"Don't I know it," the gray haired nurse grinned. "Thank the Lord that boy of yours has a good head on his shoulders. You've done a fine job with him. He'll come around."
"I hope so. He really has been a big help today and I was enjoying getting to spend some extra time with him."
"Dr. Cullen, the way he was shadowing you makes me think that he could turn into a fine doctor one of these days. Patients seem to like him."
Carlisle smiled taking pride in the praise the aged nurse had for his son. Jasper did indeed have an excellent bedside manner. He had been attentive and helpful as an assistant, but he also managed to ease some of the patients' stress. Carlisle felt certain that the boy's gift was being put to use in many of those cases. A bit unorthodox at best, though anything that helped a patient relax stood to assist in speeding recovery; something that the physician would welcome with open arms.
"Well, I don't know that Jasper's interests really lie in the field of medicine, but I think it's good to expose my children to as many experiences and options as possible. He has a few days off from school so this seemed like a good way for me to keep an eye on him while letting him get a feel for what I do."
The nurse thought for a moment and nodded her agreement. "I do hope that he at least considers medicine. He seems to have a gift."
"Oh that he does, Gloria. That he does."
Carlisle exchanged clipboards with the nurse as they walked towards trauma and some new unfortunate individual whose condition or injury awaited his skills. While Gloria droned on about the patient's condition and history, the doctor half listened as he silently prayed that he had truly done well by Jasper. He hoped that given time to calm down, his son would come to realize that his was the right way of handling this situation. The last thing any of them needed was for his boy to go off on some unwarranted avenging crusade.
The doctor's last thought before shifting his focus to the case at hand was that he trusted and shared Gloria's opinion that Jasper did indeed have a good head on his shoulders, he just hoped that the boy would use it. He had to believe that he would then everything would work its way out and they would all be fine.
Pushing the exam room open he smiled at the patient on the gurney. "Hello, my name is Doctor Cullen. What brings you in to see us today?"