"But, Ma, Ah don't want no mo. Look at me." Jasper pushed back from the table and rubbed his belly. "Ah look like a tick fixin' ta pop."
"You look like no such thing and you didn't even finish that bowl of stew."
"Because ya kept addin' ta it while Ah was tryin' to eat."
Catherine sat down at the table with a relaxed look of contentment on her face. Her baby was back home and all was finally right again with her world. "You have no idea how worried we all were when you disappeared like that."
Jasper let his head fall. "Ah'm sorry, Ma. Ah wasn't thinkin' straight is all." The boy played a little with the food remaining in his bowl before he glanced back at his mother. "Never meant ta make ya worry. Ah thought that Ah could do good, but instead..." He sighed and averted his eyes as he grew more uncomfortable. "Bet Pa was mad as all git out."
"No, Jasper. He was worried. He was scared that something bad had happened to you and the longer you were gone the more frightened we both became."
Jasper shrank a little at his mother's words. "Ah was alright," he whispered almost to himself.
"Well, we couldn't know that." Catherine reached across the table and took hold of her son's hand. Almost reflexively Jasper looked up into his mother's eyes. "Don't you ever do anything so foolish again, Jasper Whitlock or so help me..." Her voice trailed off as she found herself choking back tears.
"Were you really ready ta whoop me like ya said ta Mr. Casey?"
"If I thought it would have done any good." His gentle mother nodded as she regained control over her emotions. Catherine watched her son as he withdrew and became lost in his thoughts. "Honey, why don't you go get yourself cleaned up some before your Pa gets home. You might feel a little better."
"Yes, ma'am." He pushed back from the table, but just as he was beginning to stand up the cabin door flew open and in stepped Monroe Whitlock, looking shocked at the sight of his son.
For several tense long seconds, father and son looked at one another, both seemingly afraid to move. Jasper's eyes grew wide and his blood turned to ice in his veins as a sudden fear took hold of him. A tiny voice whispered for him to run, but Jasper's feet refused to respond leaving him to tremble as his pent up energy fought to find a release.
Monroe exhaled forcibly, sounding like a snorting bull, and then walked towards his son with determination. Reaching out, he grabbed Jasper by the shoulders and pulled the boy towards him. With one arm wrapped around the youth's slender frame, he raked his fingers through his son's tangled blonde locks as he hugged him tightly against the lower part of his chest.
"Boy, don't ya ever scare me like that again, you hear?" Tears dampened the man's face as he embraced his wayward son.
Soft sobs came from the boy as he locked his arms around his father's waist. "Ah'm so sorry, Pa. Ah wanted to come home, but Ah didn't think ya would want me."
"How could you think such a fool thing, boy? Why would I not want ya? You're my boy; my pride and joy, Son. You're my best and brightest, Jasper and I couldn't ask for better. I would never turn you away."
Jasper's weeping racked his body as he released all his built up pain, sorrow and fear. He allowed himself to experience the full extent of the warmth of his father's healing love. His knees buckled and he felt himself begin to fall only to find himself quickly caught up and cradled in his father's strong arms as Monroe took a seat at the table. Jasper clutched his father's work shirt tightly as he curled up into a small ball against the man's broad chest while Monroe rocked him gently. Slowly the boy began to relax and quiet down.
"Monroe," Catherine spoke softly as she got up and moved closer to her husband and brushed a lock of hair out of her son's face. "He's exhausted. Why don't you let him rest for a while?"
The dark haired man looked up at his wife for a moment before nodding. Easily lifting his son, Monroe stood and carried Jasper to his waiting bed. Gently placing the young boy down, his father draped a quilt over him as Jasper burrowed into the soft feather mattress with a quiet sigh.
"Pa, Ah can't say how sorry Ah am."
"Shush, boy. You rest now. We'll be havin' a talk a bit later, but for now ya just rest up. Once your brothers get home from school, I doubt that there will be any restin' going on." Ruffling up Jasper's hair, he bent over and kissed his son's head. "Now, rest, boy. You stay here until I call or come git ya and don't get any wild notions about runnin' off again."
Jasper snuggled down as he nodded slightly. "Ah'm dun runnin', Pa." Looking up he met his father's warm dark eyes. "A real man don't run from his problems."
Monroe gave a little snort of laughter. "True enough, boy. Ya still gotta ways ta go, but you'll be growin' into a fine young man, Jasper. Now get some shut eye. That's my final word, boy."
"Yes, Pa." Jasper pulled the quilt around himself as he cuddled in, a light smile playing on his lips. Ah'll grow inta a man ya can be proud of, Pa. That's a promise.
"So you see, my Pa wasn't that harsh of a man; just very direct." A sheepish grin stole over Jasper's face. "That being said, I have to admit that you let me get away with a lot more than my Pa would have."
Carlisle cocked a brow and drew a breath to begin to speak, but his son quickly cut him off before he could start.
"Not that I have any problem with that at all, Papa. You do a fine job of keeping me in line and I wouldn't have you change a thing. I was just making the comparison, is all."
"That's good to know, Jazz, but I'll be happy to make adjustments to my technique if need be. I do understand that different people sometimes require different approaches if I am to achieve maximum results." Carlisle folded his arms over his chest as he raised a brow while giving Jasper a pointed look, but there was a teasing glimmer in his eyes which the solider happily noted.
"Well, I do thank you for that kindness, Sir, but there is no need to make special concessions for yours truly."
"I promise you, it won't be any trouble at all."
"No, I'm sure that it won't." Jasper cocked his head to the side as he grinned. "Though I might have to seriously rethink that no runnin' clause."
Carlisle shook his head as he chuckled softly. "You, young man, are much too smart for that."
"You'd like ta think that, but you know…history does have a rather nasty habit of repeating itself." Jasper gave his father a wink as his grin widened.
"So what you're telling me is that I am going to have to start keeping a closer eye on you to make sure that you don't start skipping school and turn into a human food bandit."
"With the lesson my Pa taught me that day, I don't think you have anything to worry about when it comes to those two things." Jasper's eyes narrowed slightly as he thought for a moment before adding, "Don't know what I would do with a platter of fried chicken anyway."
"Befriend some hungry wolves?"
"Hmm… it would do that." The boy grinned. "Might just buy me a free pass through their territory when needed."
"You stay out of their territory or I'll find a woodshed to take you to."
Jasper held out his hands as if to fend off the very idea. "Oh hell no, Papa. That is one experience that I don't care to have with you. Thankfully a switch won't do no good on my butt anymore, but a razor strop could still make an extremely rough and lasting impression. I hope to God that I never stray so far that you to feel the need to drag me out to a woodshed." The younger man shuddered at the idea.
"So why is just the idea of this rather simple shack more frightening than my study? Not that I want you to be frightened of me, of course, but it is a curiosity."
Jasper rubbed his thumb along his bottom lip thoughtfully before shaking his head. "I don't know. Just the memory of it, I suppose."
Carlisle didn't voice his question, but the expression in his eyes urged Jasper to elaborate.
"It was just…. I don't know. It was really the only place my Pa dished out a serious whoopin'. I mean, my siblings and I might have found ourselves getting cuffed out behind the barn or in a clearing if we decided to act the fool around our Pa, but it was nothing worse than that." Jasper suddenly rolled his eyes at a memory. "There was this one time that Nate and I got into a little… disagreement, you could say, at church. You wanna talk about a mistake.
We both got a little rap on the back of the head and once service let out, Pa excused us from the rest of the congregation to take a short hike down a bridle path. Man, we knew we were in trouble when Pa did the switch pickin' instead of having us do it. That wasn't pretty, but the worse of it was after a very uncomfortable ride back home, Pa snatched us out of that wagon by the scruff of our necks and drug both of us out to the woodshed for a dose of the strap." Jasper dipped his head slightly. "Never did act up in church again. No, Sah. That lesson was learned a really hard way."
Carlisle nodded as a sadness came over his features. "I'm well acquainted with a strap and can certainly empathize."
Jasper reached over to his father and touched him lightly on the arm in a comforting manner. "You suffered far worse," he spoke just above a whisper. "There is no justification for what happened to you. When I ended up on the receiving end it was with good reason." The solider gave a single nod to stress his words.
The patriarch smiled weakly. "Occasionally I gave my father reason enough."
Jasper smirked. "The saintly Carlisle Cullen, a hell raiser? Now that is a story I would love to hear tell one of these days."
"One day," Carlisle agreed. "For now though, I would rather hear your story."
"Let's see, where was I? My Pa put me down and I was out like a light. I woke when my brothers got home from school. Nate was all over me. You would have thought that I had been gone for years with the way he was carrying on. Jack was a bit better. They were quizzing me and then we got to goofing and wrestling around which proved to be my undoing.
We ended up loud enough that my Pa figured I must have had enough rest because it wasn't long after that when I heard my name being called. I knew that it was in my best interest to get my butt in gear so in very short order I found myself standing before my Pa."
"Jasper, we have some things to take care of." Monroe's tone was grave as he addressed his son. Reaching into his pocket he withdrew his pocketknife and held it out to his son. "We've got cutting out on ya classes, lyin', runnin' away from home, apparently turnin' thief and trespassin'. Only the Lord above knows what else ya got up to, boy." The tall muscular man ran his hand through his dark wavy hair before his expression hardened. "Go cut me three switches and make sure that they are all about as big around as ya finger. I do not want to have to send you back out. You don't want that either, so make sure that you git it right the first time."
"Three?" Jasper's breath hitched in his chest and his heart raced as he reached out to take the knife with a trembling hand.
"Think I might need a fourth?" Monroe cocked a brow as he gave Jasper a stern look.
The boy found it impossible to hold his father's gaze any longer and bowed his head. "No, Pa."
"I'll be expectin' ya in the woodshed. If ya get there first, you wait. Hear me, boy? I'm not gonna have to deal with you runnin' again, am I?"
"No, Sir. Ah'm dun with runnin'," Jasper stated once again, emphatically.
"Good to hear it. Now go on and git. I'll be there to deal wit' ya so we can be done with this all."
Jasper swallowed hard then whispered a soft, "Yes, Sir" before heading outside with his head hung low.
The boy's feet felt like they were made of lead as he walked towards the old gnarled hickory trees. This part of the ritual was nearly worse than the actual whipping; having to take an active role in his punishment.
"One of these days, all the reachable branches will be gone; then what?" Standing on the tips of his toes, Jasper reached up and took hold on one of the drooping lower limbs so he could pull it down towards him. Judging the diameter to be sufficient for its task, he snapped it off and made quick work of stripping away the side twigs and leaves until he was left with a very formidable punitive tool. Giving it a test swish, he shuddered at the whistle the switch made as it cut through the air then mumbled, "three?"
Having to provide his father with more than one switch generally meant that Monroe planned on continuing the punishment until the flexible rods broke on the boy's backside. The thought caused tears to form in Jasper's eyes, blurring his vision.
"Ah sure hope ya weaker than you look." Placing the switch off to the side he turned back to the task of securing two more.
As Jasper gathered up the three switches a thought formed in his mind. Running his thumb along one of the long slender stripped branches he quickly nicked out a tiny wedge of wood with the knife before he had a chance to lose his nerve. Rubbing some dirt over the cut to disguise the exposed wood, he shook his head. That aint right to be doin'. He eyed the weakened spot on the switch then sighed softly. My butt aint gonna last through three if Ah don't do somethin'. Nicking the next switch in the same manner he continued to berate himself. This is cowardly and ya aint no coward. The knife bit into the final branch. Lookin like today Ah am.
With his shoulders hunched and his head low, Jasper made his way towards the woodshed. Inhaling deeply he gathered the remains of his shattered nerve and pushed open the door. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the dimly lit interior, but he quickly made out the hulking shadow of his father sitting on the remains of a small stump.
Adrenaline flooded the boy's system causing his heart to beat rapidly and his skin to tingle. Forcing himself forward, he approached his father and handed over the switches as well as the man's pocket knife.
Monroe pocketed his knife then carefully flexed the switches and snapped them through the air. Finding them satisfactory, he placed two down while he pointed towards a low cord of wood with the third. "Git them britches down and bend yourself over there, Son. No point in talkin' about it any more. Might as well git right to it."
Drawing a shaky breath, Jasper unbuttoned his pants and pushed them down until they puddled around his ankles. As he began to lean over the stack of wood Monroe's voice stopped him.
"Jasper, ya know better than that. Drop those drawers, too. Ya aint doin' yourself any favors by making me tell ya every little thing."
"Sorry, Pa." Jasper's cheeks blushed brightly at the reprimand. Once his shorts joined his pants, the boy leaned over the woodpile while burying his face in his folded arms.
"Son, ya want to be a man so bad, then I expect ya to take this like a man."
"Yes, Sir." The boy slid a hand a little further under his head until he was able to grip the back of it between his teeth to help stifle his cries.
Stepping up to his son, Monroe lined the switch up and tapped it lightly against Jasper's pale behind a couple of times before drawing it back and quickly letting it fly. With an ominous whistle, the hickory switch flew effortlessly through the air until it came to a sudden stop on the boy's rump, cutting a line of white hot fire into his tender skin.
Jasper's body jerked, but he maintained his position while clamping down on his hand with his teeth. He didn't have much of a chance to recover before the second stroke fell drawing a grunt from the prone boy. Again and again lines of fire crisscrossed his backside until he heard the branch snap and fall to the ground.
Monroe stared at the broken switch for a moment then shrugged his shoulders and tossed it down before taking up its replacement. It was a good thing that he had told Jasper to cut several since he had not planned on having the blasted thing break. Drought must be wreaking havoc on the trees if they're this brittle. Here, I just wanted the boy to take a bit extra time so he would think about all that happened and realize how foolish he was. Never would have thought that I would have ended up needing a second one.
Readjusting his aim, Monroe snapped the switch a bit harder against Jasper's rapidly tenderizing rear end. Jasper jumped and groaned as the coppery taste of blood assaulted his senses. The harsh stroke had caused him to bite down hard enough to break his skin, but there was little else he could do to try to maintain some level of stoicism.
Another sharp strike and Jasper swore to himself that he would never disobey his parents again. Another welt rising across the backs of his thighs and tears flooded his eyes as his breath came out in an explosive huff. When the switch bit into the sensitive skin at the junction of his cheeks and thighs the boy couldn't stand it anymore. Jasper popped up from his position over the cord of wood as his hands flew back to rub out the fire blazing across his fanny.
His father gave him a few moments to regain control over himself before barking at the boy, "Git yourself back down, Jasper. You aint done here, yet."
"But Ah sure feel done, Pa. Well done at that."
"Jasper." The big man growled the boy's name and received almost immediate compliance from his son.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Jasper leaned back over the stack of wood and prayed that his whipping would be over soon. As if in answer to his prayer, the next stinging lick ended with another broken switch in his father's hand.
What the hell? Confusion was etched on the man's face as he ran his thumb over the broken end. Finding a strange anomaly he took a closer look at the remains of the switch before picking up the third one. Rolling the branch over in his hands he ran his fingers up and down it until he found a slight dip in the wood. Rubbing his thumbnail in the groove he dislodged some dirt and studied the nick.
"Stand up, Jasper." His voice was hard and cold sending a chill through his son. As Jasper turned around Monroe held the switch out for him to see. "Explain."
The boy swallowed hard as he glanced at the switch before turning his hurt puppy dog eyes on his father. "Explain what, Pa."
"Don't play dumb with me, boy."
"Ah'm not playin', Pa."
"Jasper Whitlock! Each lie makes matters worse for you."
Jasper sniffled as he tried to control his tears while he hung his head in shame. "Ah was afraid. Afraid that Ah wouldn't be able to take my lickin' and afraid of disappointin' you. Ah thought that if Ah could make 'em break quicker… Pa, Ah can't take the amount of licks that come before all three of 'em break. No matter how much it's deserved, Ah can't last. Ah don't wanna be weak, but Ah am." There was no point in trying to hide his traitorous tears any longer, so Jasper's grief and fear over took over his mind's attempt to be strong and the boy wept openly.
Monroe Whitlock crossed his arms as he watched his son break down. While his heart broke at the sight of his shaken boy, his expression remained impassive and stern. Grasping Jasper by the upper arm, he turned his son around and shoved him roughly back down over the stack of firewood as he reached out for the leather razor strop that hung on the wall.
"Ya wanna play games with me, boy? I'll be given you somethin' to cry about and by God, you will learn your lesson if it's the last thing you do."
Jasper howled as the leather strap viciously landed on his already battered behind. He tried to move away, but his father's calloused left hand held him down firmly while his right vigorously applied the strap.
"No, Pa. Stop. It hurts. Don't, please. Ah won't do it no mo'." Jasper cried out as he continued to struggle against the pressure on his back and the pain building across his posterior.
"You gonna be lyin' to me anymore, boy?"
"Nooooo. Ah swear."
"Ya gonna go to school like ya told to?"
"Yes, Pa. Ah'll go." Jasper twisted slightly trying to get away from the burning pain but the strap landed heavily on the backs of his thighs making him screech at the stinging blow.
"I'm not gonna have it, Jasper. I'll not be puttin' up with the lyin', stealin', runnin' away and all this deception. Am I gettin' that through that thick skull of yours?"
Jasper nodded his head as his tears choked off his voice.
"I expect better from you, boy. Ya best straighten your tail out and fly right or we'll be right back here again, 'cept I won't go so easy on you."
Easy? His energy depleted from fighting against his father's hold on him, Jasper collapsed across the wood and laid still as his body shook with his sobs.
After several more strokes from the strop, the pressure from his father's hand on his back lightened and the barrage ceased.
Monroe patted his son's shoulder. "It's over, Jasper. I'm hopin' this is the last time we have to address this type of behavior in you. Keep your word, Son. You wanna be a man, well then a man makes good on his word. I wouldn't whip a man, but I will whip my boy if he needs it. Once you're done needin'; only then will ya know that you're finally a man."
Monroe allowed his son to cry himself out a bit more before pulling him up onto his feet. "Get yourself dressed and go wash your face then come back up to the house. You're excused from your chores this evening, but ya best be turnin' in early tonight. You'll be needin' your sleep so you can get your butt back to school tomorrow, even if ya might not be doin' any sittin' while you're there."
Giving the boy's shoulder a light squeeze and a final pat, Monroe left the shed as he returned to his home and the simple rhythm of his life, leaving Jasper to settle himself and recover from his punishment at his own pace.
Carlisle sighed inwardly as his eyes reflected the sadness that he felt for his son. "I'm sorry, Son."
"What in tarnation for?"
"For causing you to have to relive that painful memory."
Jasper snorted as a smile broke across his face. "It was really painful at the time, but that was a long time ago; the memory aint all that bad."
"Your father seems to have been much more aggressive than your behavior warranted."
"Papa, you know as well as anyone just how hard my head can be. Sometimes that is the only way of softening it up enough to allow for new ideas to get in. I had to learn to behave myself. It was fittin' for my Pa to whip me into shape or else I may have just ended up getting worse and worse. Who knows where I would have ended up? I wouldn't have been surprised if I ended up having trouble with the law, by the way I was going."
Jasper shook his head at the sad shocked look that still marred Carlisle's face. "I can't say that I wouldn't have preferred a get out of jail free card, but I also can't say that I didn't deserved to have my butt whooped good and that is exactly what I got." He tipped his head a bit to the side as he grinned at Carlisle. "I got a whipping that I never forgot so my Pa accomplished what he set out to do. He made a lasting impression on me when it comes to knowing right from wrong. In the long run it made me a better man, Papa and I have no regret over what happened nor do I bear any animosity towards my Pa. None of us are born perfect. We just have our mistakes to learn from. We need someone to point them out to us from time to time so we grow up right."
"Once everything was said and done, did you feel forgiven by your father?"
"You mean since I wasn't comforted after," Jasper smirked. "Yes, I knew that I had paid for my stupidity and the slate was clear. My Pa wasn't much of a cuddling man. He figured that we knew he loved us so he didn't worry much about expressing it."
"Everyone has their own ways of expressing their love."
Carlisle sighed softly as he silently agreed. As long as Jasper had felt loved by his father,it wasn't his place to disagree. Thinking back to the first few times he had found the need to correct Jasper, Carlisle recalled how the boy would stiffen up in his arms when he tried to comfort him. The patriarch had always thought the reason for that response stemmed from his violent introduction into the vampire life, but learning that his son retained human childhood memories gave the doctor more to consider. He found himself extremely grateful that Jasper had come to not only accept his comfort but now the boy actually expected it and sought it out. That simple ritual meant a great deal to Carlisle. It was a way of finding peace with himself as well as a method of reassuring his errant children of his unfailing love. What would he have done if Jasper had continued to block him out? The very idea was enough to chill his soul.
Jasper cleared his throat drawing his father's attention back from the depths of his mind. "So do you feel just a bit better about yourself now, Papa? Have I managed to at least somewhat alleviate your worries about being too hard on me?"
Carlisle's soft golden gaze studied his son for a few moments before he glanced away.
"Really? Aw, come on, Carlisle." With a slight wince, Jasper sat up on the side of his bed and placed his hand on his father's shoulder. "Carlisle. Papa. Please look at me." Once the elder complied Jasper gave him a gentle smile. "I'm going to be straight with you. That hand of yours aint nothing to sneeze at, but it's hardly the worse thing in the world.
Yeah, when I screw up I do get a little twinge of something like fear, but seriously who wouldn't? Punishment, regardless of what form it takes, isn't something anyone looks forward to. If it was, then you would know that there was something seriously wrong with one of us."
Carlisle glanced away again as a light smile crossed his face.
Jasper let out a quiet groan and rubbed his eyes while a smirked curled his lips. "Hey now, what happens between mates is something completely different and you know it. That aint punishment, regardless of what it sounds like." The solider rubbed the back of his neck as he suddenly found himself in an uncomfortably awkward situation. "Sorry if we were a bit too loud the other night, but hey, it don't compare to Emmett and Rose when they get ta goin'."
"I agree, what happens between mates is completely different. Play is one thing; punishment is another." Carlisle nodded slightly and allowed the subject to drop in an effort to save his son from further embarrassment.
"Anyway… as I was trying to say, as formidable as your hand is, I have suffered through worse when you compare the incidents side by side. While I really do appreciate your concern, Papa, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. As long as I know what I did wrong, which you do an excellent job of letting me know, the chances of me withdrawing because I was punished are so remote it's not even worth mentioning."
Carlisle sat quietly for several minutes apparently deep in thought while his son waited patiently for a response. Softly releasing a held breath, the elder blonde spoke quietly, "There was something in your father's words that I found disturbing."
Jasper chuckled even though Carlisle's expression was serious. "Now why does that not surprise me? What in all of it disturbed you, Papa?"
Carlisle shifted in his chair and rubbed his forehead as he sighed. When he let his hand fall away Jasper noticed that his father's eyes were several shades darker; not quite black yet but a deep burnt brown showing his growing distress.
"When he said that he wouldn't whip a man …." Carlisle closed his eyes and turned his head slightly away from his son. "You say that he told you that you would be a man when you didn't need to be punished any longer."
Jasper cocked a brow as he watched his father growing more and more uneasy before his eyes. "That's right, but what of it?"
A muscle in Carlisle's jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth. Opening his eyes he met his son's bright amber gaze.
"Jasper, you do realize that I know you are a man. I'm sorry if you ever feel that I discredit that fact with the way I …."
The tension in the younger man's face melted away. His eyes twinkled with amusement as he smiled warmly at his father. Laughing, he placed a hand on the senior Cullen's arm and ducked his head slightly to meet his father's worried eyes. "That's what all this anxiety is about? You worry that I believe you see me as the child I was back then?"
"I don't want you to ever feel belittled or that I don't respect you as the man that I know you to be."
"Oh dear God, Carlisle! When have you ever belittled me?" Jasper shook his head in utter disbelief. "Have you made me feel like a child? Yes. Yes, you have, but that was when I was being childish. No one, least of all me, can blame you for that."
"But, Jasper…." In a blink, Carlisle found himself yanked up out of his seat and onto his feet before being wrapped tightly in his son's arms. "Well, this is different," he muttered quietly.
Jasper snickered. "Shoe is on the other foot for a change, huh?" The boy hugged his father until he felt the man begin to relax ever so slightly and return his hug while sighing softly. Releasing his hold, Jasper pushed Carlisle back to arm's length with his hands resting lightly on the older man's shoulders. "Now, old man, you are going to listen to me, and listen up good. I want you to stop worrying so dang much. We both understand that you have to keep me in line; hell, you have to keep every one of us in line and that's no short order.
Sure we may bitch and moan while trying to get ourselves out of whatever mess we landed in, but I know that I at least speak for Alice and myself when I say that we will never hold that against you. I seriously doubt that anyone else would either.
Old man, you are our leader. You hold this coven, this family, together; both you and Esme. Everything you do, including busting my tail, is for the betterment of this family and all of its members so don't be second guessing yourself so much. Each and every one of us has already put their trust in you. Now, it's time for you to trust yourself."
Jasper stared into his father's eyes as he gave a single nod.
Carlisle blinked several times as he slowly recovered from the dressing down he had just received from his son. Drawing a breath he narrowed his eyes. "Old man?"
Jasper quickly removed his hands from his father's shoulders and held them up in the air in a moment of surrender.
"Old man?" Carlisle took a step towards Jasper which the boy mirrored by taking a step back.
"You are older than me, Papa. Besides, I didn't think going the young man route was quite appropriate."
Carlisle cocked his head to the side. "And you think calling your father an old man was appropriate?" He took another step towards Jasper as he unbuttoned the cuff of his shirt and began to roll up his right sleeve.
Jasper took another step back as he shook his head. "Now that you put it in those words, probably not."
"Probably not?" The patriarch raised a brow as he advanced once again.
"Definitely not." Jasper retreated another step only to feel the bed hit him behind the knees causing him to fall on top of it. Hissing at the sudden contact to his rear end, he quickly recovered and rolled across the mattress, dropping to his feet on the other side.
"Come here, Jasper," Carlisle called softly as he crooked a finger at the boy.
"Ah respectfully decline that invitation, Sah."
"Jasper, your father has made a request of you. As an obedient son, you have to respond." Carlisle circled towards the foot of the bed effectively blocking his son between the bed and the wall. "Now, be a good lad and come here."
"Umm." Jasper kept his back towards the wall as his father slowly moved closer.
The boy's wide dark golden eyes locked on his father's noting a spark of mischief in their pale topaz depths.
"Come here, Son. It's for your own good."
"Ah'm sorry, Papa, but Ah hafta disagree." In a flash, Jasper skidded across the bed and was out the door racing down the stairs towards the protection of his mate and siblings.
Carlisle sat down on the bed and rolled with laughter. "Well that's one way to get him to join in family game night."
The elder inhaled deeply, held the breath for a few seconds then steadily exhaled as he allowed his son's words to echo in his head. Jasper was right, as usual. Carlisle's family did show complete faith in him and it was beyond time for him to acknowledge that same faith in himself.
Unlike so many covens, his clan was not held together by fear or manipulation, but by a much stronger force; love. His love for his family is what brought them together. That love returned from his mate and their children is what kept them strong. Their faith in him was born of this love and who was he to disagree?
"Emmett, my sweet love, why in the hell is that elk driving a steam roller drunk?" Rosalie's lyrical voice rang out from downstairs.
"It's not an elk and he's not driving anything drunk."
"Well, he sure as hell aint doin' it sober," Jasper's southern drawl sounded in his father's ears bringing a smile to Carlisle's face.
I think I might just have to join the game after all since I'm the only one who can figure out that boy's art.
Carlisle smiled as he got to his feet and rolled his sleeve back down. Buttoning his cuff, he headed out the room to enjoy some bonding time and create some lasting memories with the six people in this world that he loved most; his family.
AN: Monroe got a little bit too severe for Carlisle's taste when dealing with a little fragile human child, but everything worked out alright in the end and Jasper is in good shape. Considering that Jasper is fighting so hard to protect little Amanda in Dark Justice, we know that he didn't fall into that circle of abuse trap that so many do. Yet another reason that I don't feel like he was abused as a child. ;-)
Thank y'all for the reviews, adds, favorites and all that awesomeness. Not sure that I would tackle something like this again, though I do feel like I owe Jasper a story from Carlisle's past dealing with mischief that Daddy Vamp feels he was rightfully punished for. That will take a good bit a thought. Jasper's drawl though damn near killed me. I also need to apologize to my friends in Texas for butchering the accent. I'm the cousin from Louisiana so I have no room to talk.
Special thanks to Jasper1863Hale for the request and inspiration. Of course, also special thanks to Splinter for proofing this bit of silliness and putting up with/over looking all the intentional misspellings and mistakes. I know that had to make her eyes bleed more than once.