The looks on all the Cullens’ faces seeing me and Alice are basically astonished. I suppose mine should’ve looked similar. When the small vampire had told me we were going ‘home’, I had been confused. But never I would’ve imagined to find myself in front of an entire pack of vampire, that she didn’t even know.
I see a blond man coming toward us, smiling. The bronze-haired boy behind him nods, as to say they could trust us. I don’t know how he got that, but I’m glad he did.
We were going to have less problems.
After a good amount of explanations, about things that I was the first to ignore, the Cullens had welcomed us in their home, as if we were a part of them. I move like a robot, I don’t have a deep understanding of what’s going on around me. After Alice and I get settled, I see the head of that weird family, Carlisle, waving at me and asking me to talk. I get closer, diffident.
“Jasper...?” he starts off. I get annoyed, but I don’t protest.
“Whitlock, sir.” I say, as if I was talking to a superior. And, unknowingly, I know that’s how it is. He gazes into my eyes, and I do the same. For the first time since I’ve become a vampire, I feel out of place. My eyes are the only ones with those crimson nuances, now tending to black. Their irises instead are stained with amber, a colour I’ve never seen before in my kind.
“I don’t know whether Alice told you, but we don’t feed off humans, Jasper.” he murmurs, friendly. I open my eyes wide.
“And how do you survive?” I ask, incredulous.
“Animals.” he says, dry.
I examine the possibilities. Human blood has always been natural for me. Since the moment I’ve woken up from the agony of the transformation I’ve felt the mad craving for it, and I have never been deprived of it. The idea of feeding off animals seems absurd to me.
“It’s not possible. Vampires have always drunk human blood, you can’t...” he stops me with a sigh.
“Boy, try and understand. We’re here, permanently. You have to tell me if you can give up on what your own nature asks of you, to stay here.” he explain, a sort of affliction in his voice.
“I... I guess I have to think about it.” I whisper, pulling back. Carlisle gets closer, resting his hands on my shoulders. I’m hit by a wave of love that I’ve never felt before in my race. That man is simply good.
He keeps staring at me, until I run away, getting out in the garden. I grit my teeth.
I never run. I face my fears. But he’s been able to make me doubt of my certainties.
I’ve always believed a vampire’s prerogative to be blood. Instead, he’s got a family. He’s got someone to love, and who loves him.
I turn around and I feel it. He’s looking at me, he’s smiling. He’s sure I’ll decide to stay, a certainty I don’t even have.
My throat burns like never before. I feel the thirst of who’s deciding to forsake forever that heaven of senses that’s the hunt.
I get close to him.
“I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to.” I whisper. He laughs.
“None of us can. We’re immortals, but we’ve got our weaknesses.” he sighs. “But, for some weird reason, I trust you. I’m sure you’re not going to disappoint me.”
I wish I felt as sure as him. I feel like I don’t want to break that trust. I would’ve forced my nature, somehow.
We go back home. Carlisle put an arm around me.
After a few seconds, I smile to him.
It’s a new life.
Time is Just Time
I love my kids. They’re my family, they’re all I have. They’re the only reason behind an existence that, otherwise, would be drowned in greyness and emptiness.
Yet, I don’t deny they give me considerable worries.
I love them all. Even Jasper, despite what he might think.
Esme has always been very protective toward him. She fears that, since I’ve not been the one to turn him, he feels the bond less. This, together with the kind of life he’s lead before joining our family.
But I’ve never condemned him for it. On the contrary, I appreciate him because he’s managed to give up on his creed of almost a century in the name of our lifestyle which, I’m sure, must seem little exciting to him.
I go downstairs. I see him sitting still in front of the TV, I know he’s not watching, that he’s pondering. And perhaps, this is his biggest problem. He thinks too much.
I sit next to him, pretending I didn’t notice it.
“Something interesting?” I ask, pointing at the television. He shrugs.
“Baseball.” he answers, laconic. I sigh. At times, I envy Edward’s gift. Knowing what goes on in Jasper’s mind would make me a better father.
Or perhaps is a better father one who can dig in the recesses of his son’s mind without any external aid.
I wish I could understand your sickness with life, Jazz. I wish you would open yourself to me, even if you’ve never considered me a father, even if at times my strange way of living makes you feel in chains. I wish we were a happy family, a desire that has never been so different in nature than what another billion humans could have. We just have a little more time to build this happiness.
But you never cross my gaze, you’ve been trained, in life as in death, to be a soldier. Not a son.
So you run, you run from me, from your mother, from your siblings...
“I find shame to be a pretty useless thing.” I say, all of a sudden. He raises an eyebrow and smiles, sly. He has felt the feelings troubling me, and now feels closer to discover their nature.
“What are you referring to, Carlisle?” he asks. I shrug. I don’t want to attack, he’s already too much on the defensive.
“I was thinking about you. You feel ashamed.” he grimaces, as to belittle my words, but I don’t avert my eyes from his. I wait for him to give in, to scream, to get mad at me... that he reacts, at least.
“Am I? And, let’s hear it, what about?” he asks, with that mocking expression. I sigh. Esme won’t like this argument, when I’ll tell her about it.
“You’re ashamed of your past, Jasper. Of what you’ve done when you were with Maria. But you don’t have to, you...” he raises a hand to stop me, and I keep quiet. I see him turning sadder, and it takes him a few seconds before speaking.
“You’re wrong... dad.” he pronounces that last word with some difficulty. “I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done then. It’s what I had to do, I didn’t know right from wrong, I just obeyed to my thirst.” he stands and goes to the window, never looking at me in the eyes. “I’m ashamed of what I am now. I feel shame for what little control I have. For the fact that I have to keep a distance from Bella and from any human being.” he explains, calm.
“Jazz, that’s perfectly normal. You’re less trained than us, no one demands the same control we have.” I see him getting irritated, and I try to overcome the instinct to bite my lips.
“You always tell me the same thing. That it’s normal, that it takes time, that I have to get used to it. But I’m tired of waiting. I’ve got all the time in the world, but I have no use for it if I have to spend it in the anxiety of the minutes passing.” he says. I get closer, slowly. I put a hand on his shoulder, aware that he’d refuse any deeper contact.
“What we’ve never told you” I murmur “is that we’ll always be there, and that we’ll wait with you for it to pass, even if it takes centuries.” I smile. “I’ve spent so many years on this Earth that I’m sure that waiting for you will seem nothing, in comparison.” I say.
He doesn’t answer. He just hugs me.
Like a son with his father.
Not a Monster. Just a Son
Once I’m done stitching Bella up, I get upstairs to Alice’s and Jasper’s room. I knock.
“Come in.” my daughter’s voice says. I go inside and he’s there, sitting on the bed, his head in his hands.
I nod Alice to go, and in a silent assent the slips away. I sit next to my son, without a word.
We stay still for what humans would call ‘forever’, but that my nature allows me to identify as moments. He’s the first to talk, in the end, crushed by our own silence.
“I’ve got to leave here.” he says, bitter. I sigh. I knew he was going to say something like this. He always tries to see the glass half empty, to believe that he’s the cause of all the evil in the world. And tonight I’ve got to use my best faculties to make him understand he’s not the monster he thinks he is.
“Jasper, you’re not going anywhere. We’re a family, we’ve got to stick together.” my voice, apparently tender, can’t hide a deep tension, that his gift has certainly caught.
“We’re not a family. Bella is Edward’s girlfriend, he loves her and I was about to kill her tonight! It’s just a matter of time before it happens again, and I don’t want to risk ruining all of your lives just because I’m incapable of controlling an instinct so low as thirst!” he yells. I close my eyes and breathe in. It’s useless trying to make him think that everything’s okay, I’m aware of that.
But I’m also aware of the fact that he’s my son, and that I won’t let him slip through my fingers.
“Jasper, we’re all thirsty, we all shivered seeing and smelling Bella’s blood. And we ran. Don’t think you’re worse than us just because you don’t have the strength to run. You get used to everything, my son, and even those things that right now seem to pierce through your soul one day are just going to be memories, lost in some niche of your mind.” I tell him, determined. He grins.
“I don’t know what I am anymore. You all try to act like human beings, but we’re not, we never will be again, it’s a privilege that’s been stolen from us decades ago. I just I wish I could understand why my brakes are looser than yours.” he murmurs. I laugh.
“Because in a few years I’ll celebrate my four hundredth birthday, Jasper. That’s why, I’m begging you, listen to the secular creature: don’t escape now. You haven’t tried yourself enough yet.” I smile to him, and I think I see fewer shadows on his face.
“I’m not running away from all of you, Carlisle. I run from myself.” he says, simply.
“I know it.” I reply. I stand up and go toward the door. “You can ruminate on that all you want. But unless you cut yourself some slack, it’s not going to get better.” he frowns. “Try and live day by day. And when you feel the brakes stop working” I smile to him one more time “we’ll fix them together.” I finish, then I leave. The slightly lighter gaze on his face is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen today.
Scars from the Past
I’m horrified when I see his naked skin. As every time. I’ve seen the worst things imaginable during my career, but never something like this. They’re the marks of war, desperation, hatred. And they’re everywhere. Small white reprimands of a life that I’m hoping is starting to fade from his mind.
I hear him explaining to Bella about his existence before meeting Alice and us. It’s a story I know by heart, which details are all burned inside me. And yet I can’t help but be startled every time I hear it.
He’s the one who’s died in the less tragic way of all, but he’s also the one whose new life have given that pain that had before avoided.
I see Bella staring at him, both shocked and fascinated. She hears speaking about an unknown world, of a time that until now she had only just imagined.
And after all, I have to give it to Jasper, he’s quite a good orator. He captures you, you’d spend hours hearing him talk.
While I listen to him, leaning carelessly to the doorframe, I sigh. The upcoming war doesn’t make me happy, at all. I’m afraid for the fate of all of us, for Esme, so unsuited for the battle, for Alice, so small. And for Jasper himself. He’s a soldier, he’s always been, and I’m scared that his confidence won’t do him any good.
While he’s still talking he detects my mood, and his eyes meet mine for a split second. He looks mocking, he deems my fears unnecessary. I smile and shrug. I know he doesn’t understand, he can’t.
When he’s done talking to Bella, I take him aside.
“Carlisle, we’re stronger. They’re a bunch of neonates, we can beat them easily.” he tries to reassure me.
“Jasper, I know what’s your take on this. But you’re my family, and I can’t be serene at a time like this. If, even by mistake, something were to happen to one of you... I don’t know how I would react.” I explain, making him smile.
“Don’t think I don’t get that. Do you really believe I’m not worried about Alice or the others? But I trust our capabilities, and I’m sure we’ll do our best.” he says, with a tenderness that doesn’t really belong to him. Right now, he looks like the father and I the son. I pat him on his shoulder.
“You’re good, Jazz. In face-offs, I’ve never see anybody doing better than you. But can you please do me a favour?” I ask. He rolls his eyes.
“Of course, dad. What?”
“Be careful.” I look mildly scolding, and after a few seconds he bursts out laughing.
“Alright, dad. I’ll be careful.” he says, still laughing. “But don’t think for a second I’ll have any mercy on those vampires.” he adds, and he’s serious now. “They represent all I’ve left behind me years ago.”
“You’re better, Jazz.” I murmur. He doesn’t reply, and goes back to the others. We’ve got to come up with a plan, and training with the Quileutes. I see my sons smiling, like children who have been promised to be taken to Disneyland.
I shake my head and look once again at Jasper. He smiles.
We can make it. We’re a family.
And in the End, You’re There
They’re more than we were expecting. For the first time since this absurd story has begun, I thank the fact that the wolves are on our side.
I try to help everyone, and at the same time to kill all the vampires on my path. I’m worried about Alice, but my little moony seems to be doing more thank okay on her own.
I look quickly at the others. The battle is coming to an end, and no one seems to be hurt, aside from Jacob. That kid is way too impulsive and confident, always thought that.
When I see the last one of them I get close to her, murder in my eyes. I feel someone pulling on my arm, I turned around annoyed. It’s Carlisle.
“Jasper... please, look at her.” he says, compassion in his voice, not really fitting the context. I look at the vampire. She’s petite, and she’s shivering. Then I look at Carlisle again, impatient. I feel what he’s feeling.
“Carlisle, I know what you think, but we can’t help it. We don’t know what she could do once free. We have to eliminate her.” I see him hesitating. Rationally, he knows I’m right; he just can’t help but trying and save everyone.
Bella and Edward come out of the trees, and I see my brother turning up his nose; he doesn’t like it either. Carlisle, in the meantime, has gotten closer to the girl.
“What’s your name?” he asks.
“Bree.” she whispers, scared. She explains about Victoria’s plans, about how she’s turned them all with the sole aim of destroying the Cullens. While she talks, my desire to kill her becomes sharper, but I try to restrain myself.
She’s still talking when I see the thin and devilish features of Jane appearing on the path. We freeze, but Aro’s protégé cares little about us, and takes the girl.
We watch the guards kill her, and I see Carlisle lowering his eyes. I go next to him.
“You can’t help them all.” I whisper. He sighs.
“I know. But I can still try.” he says, defeated. I feel his pain, the vague feeling of injustice pervading him. Then he turns to face me and smiles. “But one could say I don’t fail all too often.” I laugh.
“Let’s say we’re all living proof of how you are... well, a good father.” could my blood flow, I think I would blush right now. I’ve never been an affectionate kind of guy, but I have this strange desire to reassure Carlisle.
“I’m proud of you, son. More than anyone. You’re the one who’s given up the most, who’s changed his essence to be a better person.” he tells me. I turn away, I can’t stand to look at him anymore.
When I dare eyeing his face again though, I smile.
“I love you, dad.” I murmur.
We go away together, slowly.
I’m proud of my family.