Thanksgiving in Forks 1988
Renesmee runs into the kitchen where everyone is gathered "They're here! Aunt Alice and Uncle Jasper, They're here."
"Fantastic" Dad smiles. We've been waiting for them all day. Their plane was delayed from the start because there was rain and high winds in New York, so everyone is really anxious to see them and their munchkins.
We all grab coats and pile out to help them get their things inside.
Alice gets out of the driver's side of their rental car with a giddy smile on her face even after their long trip. Jasper gets out of the passenger's side and they are swept up in a whirlwind of hugs and handshakes.
Even after all these years Jasper still looks overwhelmed by it all.
"Let's get everything and everyone inside." I suggest reminding everyone it is too cold to be standing out here.
"What do you need?" I ask our newest arrivals.
"The bags are in the trunk." Alice pops it and Emmett and Edward grab what they can and Dad directs them where to put them. Jasper thanks them.
Alice unbuckles the baby from the carseat in the back and stands up holding a bright eyed one year old with brown curly hair.
"Oh my goodness look how handsome he's gotten. Can I take him?" Bella asks. "Hi Jackson, I'm Auntie Bella" Jackson goes into her out stretched arms and she holds him at her hip as Alice grabs the baby's things from the back seat and the floor. Mom coos at him, she is in full Grandma mode today and loving it.
Jasper reaches back in the car and grabs his cane. It's a pretty sleek wooden one he's been using regularly for about four years now. It makes him look every bit the college professor he is, I think.
Jasper opens the back passenger side door and unbuckles Odette from her car seat. "We're here pipsqueak wake up." He says softly. The little girl stretches and yawns and lets Jasper help her from her seat.
I haven't seen Dot in almost a year. We mailed her a birthday gift to New York for her forth birthday back in June. We wish we could have gone to her party but Emmett could't get away from the Restaurant and Alex and Ryan had camp.
Dot steps slowly out of the car, she's small with Alice's dark hair. It's long and wavy and she looks like a little china doll in her pink dress. She's just woken up and her eyes are wide as she's trying to figure out what all the commotion around her is. The look she has on her face is most definitely inherited from Jasper.
"Hi Dot." I bend down to her.
"Auntie Rose?" She says rubbing her eyes.
"How are you Pumpkin?"
"Hungry!" And just like that she's all smiles and ready to go.
"Well Uncle Emmett and your grandmother have got all sorts of good things cooking."
"Daddy said there would be lots of food!"
"Oh there will be." More than any of us need.
"Hi Dot!" The other children come running up. "You want to come play with us?" Jacob and Renesme are so good with the younger kids even though they're a few years older.
Dot looks to Jasper, which is also a very Jasper thing to do. Violet my youngest is just a year older than Odette she's been talking non stop for a week about getting to show her cousin Dot her new doll.
"Go on with your cousins." He tells her and she joins them happily.
Alice passes by with her arms full "We'll see you guys inside." as she and Bella hurry in to change Sonny.
I stand with Jasper and he grabs his briefcase or is it a satchel, I don't know, Carlisle gave it to him, maybe it's a messenger bag, it's got a shoulder strap that he wears across his chest. "Couldn't leave work at the office?"
"Not this time." He smiles at me with a mysteriously playful look in his eyes that makes me curious. He's such a mysterious jerk.
He locks up the car and follows me into the house. Inside I squeeze his arm and kiss him on the cheek before heading off to see where Alice took the baby. I have a great need to hold that cute little sprout.
In the house it is warm and comfortable. The foyer in empty. I can see the lights on in the rooms down the hall and hear everyone faintly talking. I enjoy this brief moment of quiet that is welcome after the hectic passed couple of days, packing, navigating the overrun airports and getting two little ones across the country.
I set my bag and my cane aside as I shrug off my coat and hang it on the rack where Esme likes them placed.
I breath and feel a weight lift off my shoulders. The stress of the day dissipates knowing that everyone is here and safe and happy.
We made it. It's good to be home.
I hear the footsteps before I see him. I know Edward is coming my way through the living room. I pick my things up.
"Good to see you." Edward comes around the corner. I offer my hand, which is my preferred greeting and he shakes it while claping me on the arm which is a very Carlisle gesture. Everyone spared me the hugs this time which I appreciate. I just spent about six hours on a plane and have had about all the contact I can take for right now.
It is good to see him it's been awhile since we've seen family. Being on two different coasts can do that. If Alice has her way that might change very soon. Which wouldn't be a bad thing.
I smile. "Good to see you." Edward nods in agreement.
"So you've got the next draft for me?" I do, I was practically pulling all nighters up until two days ago to get it ready. Alice has been wonderful, this book hasn't been like the others. There's been a lot of long nights and a lot of baggage with this one.
"Yes, and well, I think I'm ready for everyone to take a look at it." I'm nervous and excited and worried but I don't think there's anything else I can do to it.
"Wow, sounds good to me I think it's in a good place for them to take a look. Are you ready? There's going to be questions and it could be tough."
"I think so." I've been going over and over the questions I think they might have in my head for a long time and I answered all the ones Edward and Alice had without much difficulty, I think I'm ready.
"Ok well I've got your back."
"Thank you Edward." I say sincerely, he's been a big help.
"What's a brother for." He smiles. "So we put your bags upstairs in Rosalie's old room."
"Thanks I appreciate it."
"Yep, come on if we're missing too long they'll think we're shirking and we'll get put on KP."
I inwardly groan at his use of military jargon and it must be written on my face because he laughs and seems quite pleased with himself. I roll my eyes.
Edward and I head to the kitchen. It is noticeably hotter then the rest of the house and busy.
Emmett and Esme have lots of pots on the stove and timers ticking. Alice, has been so excited for this and she has jumped right in to help. With Rosalie looking after Sonny and Dot off with her cousins I'm not sure what to do with myself.
Dinner will be ready soon enough and it'll be a tornado of family like it usually is. For now I am content being out of the car.
I lean in the doorway and let everything go on around me, appreciating the wonderful domesticity our unconventional family has that I might never have believed existed anywhere except reruns of Leave it to Beaver if I hadn't seen it for myself.
I love watching Alice in her element.
She must sense me watching her, she smiles brightly in my direction. My heart always skips a beat when she looks at me like that. I still sometimes can't believe how lucky I've been.
"The turkey is done!" Emmett proclaims as he lifts the big roasting pan out of the oven. It smells excellent and my stomach growls.
"The tables are all set." Edward and Bella come in from the dining room. Bella starts filling a pitcher with water and Edward grabs the ice bucket.
"Then we need to get the things in bowls and get the children to wash their hands." Esme instructs.
"Jasper could you let them know?" Alice asks as she gets Esme's good bowls out of the cabinet.
"Certainly." I know where they likely are.
I head down the hall to the music room.
Edward moved the instruments out years ago and I don't know where the bed was moved to but Carlisle and Esme turned the room into a play room for their grandchildren.
And sure enough that's were all the kids are.
The room is bigger and brighter then I remember it being. The walls are a lighter color than they used to be and the only real furniture, that isn't child sized, is a rocking chair in the corner where Carlisle is currently positioned. Violet on one knee and Odette on the other reading a book as Rosalie and Emmett's boys and Renesmee and Jacob push toy cars around a track.
Dot sees me and jumps down from Carlisle's lap "Daddy, Grandpa is reading the funniest book come hear." She takes my hand and leads me into the room. I watch to avoid stepping on any cars or Legos.
"I'd love to hear it but the turkey is done and I think Gramma wants everyone to wash their hands."
"If dinner is ready we'll have to finish our story later." He lifts Violet off his knee. "Lets go guys, hand washing time." Carlisle prompts the other kids. Violet and Dot hurry off together and I'm waiting for Carlisle when Renesmee and Jacob come to stand by my side.
"Is it true this was your room Uncle Jasper?"
"It was when I first got here." I guess everyone did come to think of it as my room, even Edward after awhile.
"You and Aunt Alice weren't kids were you? You were adopted when you were older like me?" Jacob asks.
"Yes, we were even older than you. We were very lucky to come here and get to join such a nice family." We truly were.
"And we are so happy that you did." Carlisle smiles in away that I have come to recognize as fatherly.
I blink at him taken aback by his openness. Not because he hasn't expressed the sentiment before, he has many times in fact, but because I'm so bad at knowing what to do when anyone besides Alice or my children show caring like that. I try to say something to him but I'm at a loss.
I've know Carlisle for almost twenty years. He's saved my life and I respect him as much or more then anyone else I've ever known. He is my mentor, my friend and all I can seem to muster is a slight nod and a quietly voiced "Dad." as I look away from everyone and to the door.
He seems to understand just how much meaning the word holds. I glance to see the fatherly smile still on his face.
Tonight after dessert, Esme and I take the grandkids upstairs to get them ready for bed. When I come back downstairs everyone is talking around the dinner table except Jasper.
We've known Jasper has Asperger's Syndrome since 1980 when during his time at Columbia getting his masters the psychologist he was seeing for his PTSD suggested there was something more causing issues like sensory sensitivity, auditory processing disorder, a need for routine, and rules. The diagnosis was a revelation. It was one more clue to helping us understand and help Jasper.
Anymore it's pretty normal for him to slip away during family gatherings, he can only take so much before he's overwhelmed or exhausted.
I find him in the study. It's kind of dark in the room, there's only one light on, that's probably by choice. Jasper is lounging on the couch with Jackson sleeping on his shoulder.
I am amazed at how relaxed and calm he looks, fatherhood has been good for him in a lot of ways.
"I can't get over how big he's gotten." I say in a hushed voice.
"Yeah, growing fast." Jasper nods. He looks in my direction but his eyes don't met mine like my other children's would have. I know from all the reading I've done since his diagnosis that his lack of eye contact doesn't have anything to do with me, or him being nervous, in this instance it's more because he's tired and it would just be too much for him to take in all the information.
He rubs Sonny's back as the baby sighs heavily in his sleep.
"We've got the crib all set up for him upstairs in your and Alice's room."
"Thank you." Jasper says. He starts to move to get up.
"Let me." I offer and hold my arms out to take the baby. Jasper nods and hands him off to me gently. "Come on little man." I speak softly, Sonny snuggles into my shoulder and continues to sleep. He's such a content baby. "I'll take him up and we'll get him situated."
"Happy to do it. Relax, I know it's been a long trip."
Jasper sinks back into the couch bonelessly, I feel like I should be putting him to bed too.
"Do you need anything?"
"Hum?" He opens one eye. "no I'm good. Thank you."
As I carry Sonny on our way upstairs Alice pokes her head out from the kitchen. "Have you got him Dad?"
"Yep just going to put him down in the crib upstairs. Jasper is in the study."
"He said it was getting a bit loud for him, I'll check on him."
"He might be asleep by the time you get there." I joke.
She has a knowing smile on her face "At least he stayed a wake for dinner this time."
It takes a second for me to realize she's talking about their first time here after they'd come all the way from Philadelphia and Jasper had fallen asleep on the couch as soon as he'd gotten here. The look on her face makes it clear. My sweet Alice.
She kisses Sonny on the top of the head as she passes on her way down the hall and I head up the stairs.
Esme is shutting the door to the room where all the cousins, Renesme, Jacob, Alex, Ryan, Violet, and Dot are sleeping as I come down the hall.
"There's our baby boy." Esme coos. "All tuckered out from the trip." She walks with me to the room at the end of the hall.
"Just like his Daddy."
"How is Jasper?"
"I think he's fine just a little worn out. He needs a little rest and some quiet after the trip."
"That's understandable." We've been to New York to visit them a number of times and the cross country trip is always tiring.
I lay Jackson down in the crib. He likes to sleep with his arms over his head. It makes me wonder which one of his parents he got that from. I can just imagine baby Alice or baby Jasper doing the same.
"Hey Jazz, you doing ok?" I ask across the room. He doesn't open his eyes but I see the corners of his mouth twitch up and I know he heard me.
"Yeah" He drawls as I sit down on the couch with him. He lets our shoulders touch and I lay my head on his shoulder. We sit like that for a few minutes, each enjoying the quiet.
"The kids are all upstairs for the night. It might be a good time to tell everyone about the book if you're ready."
"Yeah." he nods, opening his eyes and sitting up. He runs his hands over his face.
I know he's been waiting anxiously for a chance to talk to the family about it.
He rubs the palms of his hands on his knees and then grabs his cane from where it's leaning on the arm of the couch. It usually helps him walk with very little limp but after this long trip he's pretty sore and it shows.
I grab his bag for him. He takes the hand I offer, squeezing it reassuringly.
We walk to the kitchen together. Jasper walks slowly, limps deeply, and yawns. I'm tired too even though I'm excited to be here I think it's nearly time for bed. It will feel so good to snuggle up and fall asleep tonight.
Jazz squints against the bright lights in the kitchen and Rosalie kindly adjusts the dimmer a bit. "Would you guys like to have some tea or coffee, we have decaf we can make."
"Hum, no thank you." I'll never sleep tonight if I do, Jasper declines too.
"What about with whiskey?" Emmett holds up the bottle. "We could have hot toddies." He waggles his eyebrows.
"Maybe another day Em." I suggest. "Jasper wants to share something with you all right now."
"What's going on, what's being shared?" Mom and Dad join us, back from helping the kids get settled.
"What's up man?" Emmett asks seriously.
"Nothing bad," Jasper assures them, "hum, just a new book."
"Whew ok... not another one about General Cincinnatus? It was interesting the first time bro but I don't think I can read anymore about ancient Rome." Rosalie whacks his arm. I can't help but chuckle, Jasper's mouth pulls to the left in his lopsided grin.
"No this is different...a little closer to home." Jasper opens his bag and pulls out six manilla envelops and Edward, the only other person here who really knows was this is about jumps up and takes them from him then passes them out. "I was hoping all of you could take a look at it before I send the finial to the publisher."
Bella slides her copy out. "Is this what you've been editing Edward?" Her expression is serious. She and I have been talking on the phone a lot about how serious and secretive Jasper and Edward have been about this book. I finally got to read it just before we left and I found out why this book has been different from Jasper's other's, this one is personal.
"What's it about Jasper?" Carlisle asks probably sensing that this is a bit different than Jasper's other book reveals. Jasper rubs at his eyes. Coming from the East Coast we're about two hours past our usual bed time now.
"The book's autobiographical."
"Really?" Carlisle holds the manuscript in his hands like it's suddenly precious.
"My plan is to change the names and locations and publish it as fiction under a pseudonym. You've got copies where nothing has been changed yet."
"Jasper are you sure about this?" Rosalie asks holding her envelop tight and not opening it. She's always been protective of him. I know she understands his past more than the rest of us because of similarities in her own. I asked Jazz the same question. He said he just felt compelled to tell this story, that he sat down to the typewriter to write and this seemed to be all that would come out.
"Yes, I'm sure. I just want you all to see it first."
"If you're sure son." Carlisle agrees. Jasper nods and stifles a yawn. That I think is enough for tonight.
"We're going to get ready for bed." I say and proceed to hug Esme and Carlisle and Bella and Everybody. Jasper stands back and waits for me, looking tired.
Jasper and Alice say goodnight and head upstairs. We're all left sitting looking at a printed history of Jasper, our resident mystery.
"He's been working really hard on this book. His publisher is convinced it'll be a best seller." Edward says as he puts his coffee mug in the sink.
"So you've already read it." Emmett asks.
"Come on Edward spill..." Emmett says what we'd all like to, as usual.
"I can tell you that he glosses over some of the Maria stuff." Edward speaks seriously. "He doesn't go into a lot of detail there. But there is some of it, so be prepared, it's not pretty. You're not gonna believe some of the Vietnam stuff. I couldn't believe it when I first read it."
"It's gonna be a long night." Emmett looks at his envelop and pours another cup of coffee.
"It's there Daddy." Dot points to the door where he had in fact left his cane.
"Thanks pip I'm glad I've got you to take care of me." He ruffles her hair and she grins at him.
Jasper and I follow Odette to what used to be the his room. She's been up since the sun and Mom and Bella generously told us we could stay in bed and sleep a bit longer while they watched the kids. "I want to show you the castle I built Daddy." She has him by the hand but doesn't hurry him. She's a very smart little girl.
The room is filled with toys and cousins. I am actively looking for a hospital position here in Washington, though I haven't mentioned it to anyone but Jasper... yet. I really think now is the time we should move back so Dot and Sonny can have all of their family around them.
We admire Dot's castle and Renesmee looks up from where she and Jacob are coloring.
"Aunt Alice what happened to your and Uncle Jasper's other families?" The question surprises me. It's an innocent enough question, one that I expect to answer for my children one day. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise it's coming from Renesmee, she's always been an intuitive and curious girl. Still it takes me aback and Jasper speaks up and answers her.
"Aunt Alice never knew her family and mine... they all past away."
"That's sad. Are you sad?" Our niece asks and causes Dot to wonder what's going on.
"Daddy are you sad?"
Jasper shakes his head and smiles to reassure her "I was sad but I don't have to be anymore because now I have more family than I could have ever imagined."
"That's a good ending for your book." Jacob suggests, I wonder if everyone has been talking about the book while we've been asleep.
"Yes, I think that would be." Jasper nods in agreement.
oh my word, I think I'm going to melt into an emotional puddle right here on the floor, I love how cute my Jasper is with kids.
Everyone is dealing with the book differently.
Bella and Rosalie had been very quiet this morning.
Esme has been hovering, she had apparently started to read the book and jumped from when Jasper was locked in the storm cellar by Maria to when he was bleeding out on the ground after the bombing of the base and she'd not been able to continue.
Carlisle is nursing a cup of coffee apparently having stayed up the latest to get through the whole book in one night and Emmett is making more pancakes than all of us can possibly eat.
Everyone is waiting for Jasper who either senses the tension and is purposefully elsewhere or who is soon to be blindsided.
He and Alice are laughing about something as they come into the kitchen but the laugh catches in his throat when he sees everyone. They all look at him but no one says anything for what seems like a long time. He starts to look worried.
I jump up from where I'm sitting and try to lighten the mood. "Morning guys. There's lots of pancakes if you want some and Dad just put another pot of coffee on."
Even though everyone has tried to reassure her this morning Esme can't help but get emotional. I told Jasper that he should be prepared for everyone to get emotional over his story. I don't think he totally understands just how many emotions his book would cause for the family and before he can move she's holding her arms out to him. "Can I have a hug."
He looks uncomfortable but obliges. "Yes, of course."
"Oh sweetheart" She emotes.
He hesitates but wraps his arms around her and lets her hold him.
He's told me before it's not that he doesn't understand what's being convayed with hugging, he understands and shares the sentiment he just doesn't like to be touched most of the time. It's too emotional, too physical, and too intimate. I guess I can understand his reasons, between his childhood and his Asperger's it makes sense.
Mom breaks their contact first and wipes at her eyes. "Sit, we need to talk." She directs him to a stool at the bar counter where he sits and Alice moves to stand behind him, her hands on his shoulders.
"I... I'm sor..."
"Don't apologize dear, you didn't do anything wrong." Mom moves around the bar and Carlisle wraps his arm around her shoulders. "It was just a lot."
"Geez man, I can't believe you're just telling us about all this war stuff now." Emmett says with an air of being offended as he pours orange juice, he hands one glass to Alice and sets the other in front of Jasper. Jasper grips the glass tight.
"What's written is only what's been made public in the past." Jasper says evenly.
"You mean there's more?"
"That's classified." There's a slight smile on Jasper's face but I'm sure he's only half joking.
"Haha very funny." Now Emmett really is indignant. He's asked Jasper for years, practically since the day we met, for Jasper to tell him about his time in the army and Jasper never gave much away. "Did you do anything in an office on a base?"
"I couldn't put all the boring everyday work in but yes, when I wasn't out on assignment. I was a sergeant in the staff office" Which is the only story we really heard before.
"I knew it, I knew you were a super secret spy soldier. I called it." Emmett gets loud.
"You said he was a ninja." I interject.
"Nooo that's what you said. I said super secret spy soldier and I wasn't wrong."
Jasper speaks up just to be heard but keeps his voice calm. "I was a military strategist that worked with special mission teams."
"I call shenanigans on all those chess games you won." Emmett says and Rose rolls her eyes.
"How are you? Are you alright and I'm not just talking about the war stuff." She asks.
"Yes, I'm alright. Like I said I'm going to change all the names in it. As far as anyone else reading it knows it's just fiction. I'm even planning to publish it under a pseudonym. We'll know the truth but no one else should."
"you are color blind right?" Emmett asks.
"Yes..." Jasper raises his eyebrow.
"What's the book called?" Bella speaks up from where she's been standing quiet by the sink.
"Shrapnel" He says confidently.
It's the first time I've heard him title it I think it's definitely fitting.