Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copywright infringiment is intended.
The oneiric vision of her ethereal grace fills his heart with longing. Her movements are light strokes of colour floating in the air, painting a symphony of coordinated dreams. There is poetry in her steps, carefully written odes singing praises to the magic she performs. The smile gracing her lips is a translucent portal to the beauty of her soul. The features he came to adore are composed into a mask of indescribable bliss. Up there, so far from him, she speaks to his barely acknowledged soul, planting images of long forgotten yearnings into his wary mind.
Alice. She is heaven and hell, just like she has always been. She is the one part of his former self that neither time nor the horrors of war were able to vanquish. In the darkest moments of his existence, when living or dying was a matter of holding on or letting go, it was the memory of her that kept him from slipping into oblivion. There is a tiny voice in the back of his mind whispering unholy pleas for mercy, but he isn't about to break his vow – Alice deserves better.
Forcing himself to stand up, he turns away from the stage, leaving behind the owner of his heart. He wants to scream at the unfairness of the world that denied him the love of his life, the other half of his soul. He wishes for a do over, another chance to make it right… and maybe become the sort of man who deserves the love of a good woman. However, life is more complicated than that and he is doomed to forever mourn the loss of what might have been.
Outside the theatre, his breathing is erratic as his heart lurches within his chest. He is familiar with these sensations, for he experiences them every time he walks away. Time hasn't dimmed the desperation of having to walk away from Alice – on the contrary, it has exacerbated the need to bask in her light, for there is no way of knowing if it will be the last time he gets to see her. At that sombre thought, his knees buckle under the strain of carrying his heavy heart. Falling to the ground he turns his teary eyes to the sky and prays for a reprieve from the pain. He feels it creeping up on him, but is unable to stop the torrent of memories. They are the bittersweet tale of his unbearable love for the sweet, lovely Alice.
It all started with innocent playground shenanigans. Jasper had always been a bit of a daredevil, but had always been hindered by the other kids' fear of punishment. For years he longed for a companion to his more adventurous endeavours, until it came the day when his prayers were answered. She was this little delicate thing wearing pink ribbons in her long, brown pigtails. Her pretty tutu was streaked with dirt and her smile was almost perfect, had it not been for some missing teeth. But what truly caught Jasper's attention was the frog she was flaunting in the face of a scared little girl. The moment their eyes connected something magical happened: they became friends.
From that day on, they terrorized the school's playground much to their mothers' dismay. Esme, Jasper's mother, even suggested that maybe the children shouldn't attend the same school. However, Alice's mom didn't agree, for she was a perceptive woman and could see the first seeds of true love already blooming in the kids' hearts. Being the romantic that she was, she even had Alice moved to Jasper's classroom.
Surprisingly, despite the closer proximity, the kids didn't raise hell, preferring to quietly sit together, shutting away the entire world. For some unfathomable reason, their inner devils were calmed by their connection, allowing them the freedom to just sit around and play like other children did. Their grades were good enough and their behaviour acceptable, so parents and teachers were happy to let them be.
Every day, after school, Jasper walked Alice to her ballet lessons. It wasn't something they had planned or even discussed; it was simply that one day he followed her there and kept on doing it day after day. He liked how she looked in her pink frilly things, the way she smiled while she danced. She was better than all the other little girls, at least that was what Jasper thought.
Jasper fondly remembers that time of innocent discovery – the joy he took in Alice's company and the weird feeling in his chest whenever she smiled. Throughout their childhood they were constant companions, best buddies and inseparable friends. Sometimes, he felt a pressure in the pit of his stomach, a need to touch her face or kiss her lips… but, despite the fact that he truly liked Alice, girls had cooties, so he refrained.
However, when puberty caught up with him, Jasper was no longer able to suppress his urges. His teenaged body yearned for things he would never impose on his sweet, dear friend. Those acts of depravity and degradation were reserved for other girls, who were more than happy to accommodate his needs. Alice was a precious angel, to be cuddled and worshipped, but never to be trifled with.
Every time he watched her dance he felt a pang in his heart. She was such a sensuous creature, even though she wasn't aware of her allure. And that was the most devastating thing about her: how oblivious she was to the power she yielded. He felt like he would be tainting her innocence, stealing a part of her that he wasn't meant to have, at least not yet. Maybe when she was older…
The cockiness of youth prevented him from seeing the heartbreak in Alice's eyes every time he walked away with another girl in his arms. He thought her too perfect to notice him, too innocent to be plagued by the same urges torturing his body, but he was wrong. Alice had bloomed into a beautiful young woman and other men didn't fail to notice her.
The first time she went on a date, Jasper sat on her porch for hours waiting for her return. Jealousy was an entity gnawing at his lovesick heart. How could she do that to him? Didn't she know? They were supposed to be together… in the future. He would enjoy life and take his pleasure within other girls' thighs while he waited for Alice to grow up. She wasn't supposed to mature just yet, and she certainly wasn't supposed to go out with other guys.
A noise brought him out of his musings – a car had just parked on the other side of the street. Inside, he could see the driver closing up on the passenger. It was a movement Jasper was very familiar with, for he had performed it countless times. Filled with rage, he crossed the street yanking Alice out of the car.
"Jasper? What…?" The confusion in her eyes was like a knife to his guts. How could she have been so oblivious to what they meant to each other? Didn't she care about him?
"How dare you, Alice?" Rage clouded his mind, and almost of its own volition his hands gripped her upper arms and shook her, none too gently.
Suddenly, she was yanked from his grasp, and he was pushed away by strong hands. The primal need to defeat his competition drove Jasper to the brink of madness, so much that he barely acknowledged the distressed calls of Alice, begging him to stop his assault on her date. However, he was brought out of his haze by the cruelest words Alice had ever uttered.
"I hate you, Jasper! I hate you; do you hear me? You are a monster!"
Looking into her eyes, he believed the veracity of her words. At that moment, she trembled with hatred, and it was completely directed at him.
"Do you want him, Alice? This pathetic excuse for a man?"
"He is a good man, Jasper, unlike you, he would never hurt me." It wasn't the words, but the sadness of her voice that made him realize the extent of his monstrosity. She didn't see things like he did; she was truly hurt by his actions. She didn't understand what she meant to him. Could he make her see? The answer came as lightning breaking his bleeding heart. He was no good for her; he never would be good enough for her.
So, it began his descent to hell. Indulging in pleasures of the flesh and drowning his sorrows in alcohol, Jasper tried to forget the sweet promise of his first and only love. He became the spoiled seed of their little town, the one who every mama avoided and every girl sought. Yes, he broke many hearts and did it mercilessly, for he didn't care about the type of woman who enjoyed his company – they were empty shells feigning fits of unjustified rebellion; besides none of them compared to sweet Alice.
Throughout the years, he caught glimpses of Alice, but never spoke to her. Knowing that he was the cause of the rift between them only added to his pain, for nothing would ever cut as deep as the knowledge of how much he hurt the love of his life. She seemed happy, healthy, well adjusted. Only once did he see her dancing – it was the day that changed the course of his life.
Seeing her looking so elegant, so happy, so perfect had twisted his heart and the pain that he had kept at bay by indulging his vices exploded out of his chest into pitiful wails of unbearable pain. Coming home he fell onto his bed and cried until his tired body lost conscience. When he woke up, he was surprised to see his grandfather sitting by his bed. He wasn't in the right frame of mind to deal with the old, sometimes senile, man, but Whitlocks were a stubborn lot, and his grandfather wasn't an exception.
"I know it's hard to believe, but I was in love once."
Damn, the old man was on one of his "moods" – Jasper hated his grandfather's tendency to get lost inside his own head; to reminisce about things nobody cared about. However, Jasper learned from past experiences that the best way to get rid of his grandfather was to indulge him and let him say his piece.
"It wasn't your grandmother, of course. The devil take that aggravating female, it was the most beautiful, perfect girl I've ever known. Bella, was her name. She was so sweet ... but I was young and reckless – I broke her heart. The day she walked away from me she said that she deserved a good man. And she was right, you know. The love of a good woman is something to be treasured, but it takes a good man to see this. If you want to deserve your Bella, you have to atone for your sins by becoming the sort of man she deserves."
Astonished, Jasper could only stand there, mesmerized by the lucidity of his fading grandfather. The man nobody paid attention to was the only one who guessed the truth of Jasper's heart.
"I lost my Bella because I wasn't man enough to fight for her. Don't lose your Bella, boy – you will regret it for a lifetime, I guarantee that."
That day Jasper joined the army. To his youthful mind it was the best way to give meaning to his life, to do something honourable, something worthy of Alice. However, his dreams of bravery perished, for the reality of taking lives wasn't something Jasper ever came to accept. No matter that his army buddies called it bravery, in his opinion he was a coward who took advantage of the weak.
His feelings of unworthiness kept him from seeking Alice's company. How could he possibly come to her with a tainted soul? He wasn't a good man. He was a shadow of what a woman like Alice deserved, so he kept away. But he couldn't resist her completely. Sometimes, he would watch one of her performances and dream ... Dream that he got to hold her in his arms and kiss her lips ... Dream that he was a good, deserving man …
However, sometimes the grief for the life he wasn't allowed to live became too much. Like right now, when he is so overwhelmed by emotion that he fails to realise he woman approaching him.
"Jasper? Is that you? Are you okay?"
Jasper feels despair washing over his black heart. Her sweet melodic voice was supposed to stay a memory ... he is a blackguard for allowing her anywhere near him. However, a part of him rejoices at her proximity. A part of him wants her to see him, to witness the extent of his devotion, his love. A part of him doesn't care about being good enough ... a part of him just wants to be with the love of his life.
"It is you! What are you doing here? Are you all right?"
"Oh, Alice ... I'm not okay; I haven't been okay in years ... not since the day you went on that date ... No, that's not right – I haven't been okay since the day I couldn't reconcile the desires of my heart and the ones of my body ... Alice, oh Alice ... "
"Jasper, come here let me help you up."
Yes, he is the worst kind of monster because he lost the war. As tarnished as he is, he will offer himself to Alice. In the depths of his heart he knows that he isn't a good man, but he also is a far cry from the inconsiderate youth he had been. He will treasure her, respect her, treat her like a princess if only she will have him. Taking her proffered hand, he rises from the floor and looks into her eyes.
Many questions swirl in her dark orbs, however it is the softness of her gaze that truly touches his heart. She leads him to a café nearby, and after ordering for both of them, he is granted her undivided attention.
"It has been a long time."
It isn't a question, nor an accusation – it is merely the truth. Did she miss him? He wonders… How should he respond to that? What was the right thing to say? Afraid of revealing too much, he opts for inane chattering.
"Yeah, I've been on the army. I'm a Major now, did you know?"
There is ice in her voice, and Jasper is disgruntled by the realization that he has hurt her once again.
"Shit, Alice. I'm sorry that's not how I meant to start this conversation. It's just that opening my heart is hard, so hard."
The waitress brings their drinks – green tea for her, cappuccino for him. After all these years, she still remembers how he likes his coffee. It brings him joy and elation – maybe there is still a chance at winning her favours.
Sipping her tea, Alice studies his eyes, his face. Seeming satisfied by what she finds there, she quietly waits for him to proceed.
"I've always been in love with you. I know it may be hard to believe given my past actions, but it is the truth. But being a boy, I tried to divide women into categories ... like women I can fool around with and women I want to marry. You belonged to the second category, so I never tried anything with you."
The next part would be the hardest. She would probably flip out and tell him to get lost. No woman in her right mind would want to stick around a chauvinistic pig like him ... or at least like he used to be. Would she forgive him? Should he lie? No, he strived to be a good man for years; he wouldn't falter now.
"I thought you didn't feel the urges I did. I thought you would sit around and wait for me; then we would get married and start a life – when I was ready, when you were ready… "
Seeing anger contort her beautiful face, he hurried to make clear how he regretted the boy he had been.
"It was wrong and unfair of me, but that's how I felt. I won't make excuses: I'm just telling you the truth."
At her slight nod, he continues.
"I was angry that you didn't want me, so I tried to forget you with other women, alcohol, occasionally even drugs. Nothing worked – I was consumed with the need I had for you. For years I avoided seeing you, but then one day I saw you dance and everything changed. My grandfather made me see how much of a monster I was, and that if I wanted to deserve you, I had to work hard."
Tears clouds his vision, but he doesn't let them fall. He needs to finish his story; he needs to make Alice understand how much she means to him.
"But I still am not a good man, Alice. I have blood on my hands and darkness in my soul. I love you, but I don't deserve you."
Her soft hands caress his cheek, and he was mesmerized by the love shinning in her eyes, the acceptance of her gesture. For a moment, he thinks he wants to die right then, just so he can forever retain the perfection of her touch.
"Jasper, was that the first time you watched me perform?"
"Of course not. Don't you remember all the afternoons I spent watching you dance?"
"Jasper ... "
The softness of her voice leaves him no alternative but to comply. He knows what she is asking ... would she be put out by the answer?
"No, Alice. I've seen you dance many times. Whenever I was in a city you were performing or on a leave ... whenever possible … "
At that Alice turns her head away and blindly gazes at the street outside. There is so much sadness in her face. Jasper is lost. He doesn't know what to do, how to comfort her ... Is she going to reject him? Is she put out by his stalkerish tendencies? Is she mourning the life they will never have? Why is she so sad?
Getting up from his chair, Jasper hugs her to his chest. For a long time, she just sobs all the pain within her soul, giving no indication of the source of her grief. Little by little, her breathing slows and soon she isn't crying anymore. She takes a deep breath and pushes Jasper away.
"I will never dance again. Tonight was my last performance."
There is so much uncertainty in her gaze that Jasper feels the need to take her within his arms and make everything hurting his beloved go away. But he knows she needs to exorcise her demons – she needs the space to tell what needs to be said.
"I have a heart condition Jasper. I can't dance anymore, and most likely I won't be able to have children either."
Though his heart is breaking for Alice, Jasper is relieved, for she isn't rejecting him. The unspoken question lingers in the air, and Jasper eagerly grasps his chance at finally becoming a good man. Yes, he has always dreamed about holding a baby of his own, but it pales in comparison to the amazing gift of having Alice in his life. It isn't even a choice – it is simply the way it is meant to be.
Pulling her up, he cups her endearing face and smiles. There is no need for words – she understands the message he is trying to convey. Putting his arms around her, Jasper basks in the glory of finally being with the other part of his soul. Alice, his Alice is within his arms reach, and he isn't about to waste the opportunity to taste her sweetness. The moment their lips connect, a single tear escapes Jasper's eye. He has finally found his way back home.
Unbeknown to the lovers, fate would gift them with two beautiful children – somehow Alice's strong heart will fight through two difficult pregnancies making their union complete.