Edward tells Bella: "When we hunt, we give ourselves over to our senses." What does Jasper feel when he hunts? Bella talks to him about his feelings on a hunt.
Occurs between New Moon and Eclipse.
Huge amounts of thanks and virtual cookies to Bronzehairedgirl for all her hard work on this piece - she helped make it so much better. It's a good deal longer than it was to start with and you can thank or blame her for that. *grin*
disclaimer: I do not own the characters, or Twilight. They belong to Stephenie Meyer, and no copyright infringment is intended.
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I sat on one end of the sofa in our living room, half-heartedly trying to write the English assignment that was due on Monday. It wasn't that it was hard, far from it, but it was tedious, and I couldn't be bothered.
I glanced at Bella, curled up with a book at the other end of the sofa while she waited for Edward to return from a hunting trip later this evening. It was a shame, I thought, that one of the few times she had been allowed over, Edward was out. The only reason she was here today was that Charlie had been called away to a training course. He had informed Carlisle of this when he dropped Bella off, along with a request that either Carlisle or Esme supervise them at all times. Charlie really gave her a hard time these days.
"Can I ask you something, Jasper?" she said suddenly, interrupting my thought.
"Sure," I replied, "What sort of something?"
"What does it feel like, when you're hunting? Edward said you 'give yourselves over to your instincts.’ What's it like?"
The question startled me slightly, but I realized that as she was going to become one of us, Bella probably wanted to prepare herself. I paused for a moment to consider before I answered.
"The easiest way to explain would be to give you an example."
I paused, and Bella nodded for me to go on.
"Say I was hunting a deer. The first thing I use is my nose. I see if I can smell anything nearby. Normally, I can only smell things that are fairly close if I'm outside, and in the same room as me inside. When I'm hunting, that distance goes way up. I can smell things within about a mile radius. So from all the smells I'm exposed to at that point, I pay attention to anything injured, or close. This isn't the smell of the blood, you understand, that comes later. Then I basically just follow the scent until I'm a couple of hundred feet away, when I start to listen properly.”
I thought of all the sounds that surrounded me in the forest. It was enjoyable, hunting, when we were somewhere safe. I liked getting caught up in the chase, so long as there was no one getting hurt. I drew my thoughts back, and continued my explanation to Bella.
“I listen to the deer, paying attention to where it's going, how many there are together, do any of them have a limp, that sort of thing. I'd also be listening to see if anything was closer to me that might interfere. If I'm careful, I could get right up to an animal before it even notices me, but that's no fun. We have a philosophy that if we must do this, we can at least get some sport out of it. So, once the deer catches my scent, it'll run. It's about this point that my conscious thoughts disappear, if they haven't already done so.”
I had to admit that it was exciting, closing off my mind to other distractions, and focusing on one thing. But with the excitement came fear, a fear of being unable to return to myself. The thought of what would happen to me if I didn’t ‘come back’ bothered me almost every time I hunted. It had almost happened to Alice, before I met her, and it would be very easy for me to slip down to that level.
“It becomes just the deer, dashing through the trees, and me running behind it,” I said. “It's kind of like the forest on either side of me just blurs into nothingness, and all I see is the deer in front of me. But because I get so caught up in it, I can't even tell that it's a deer. I just see it as food. And then suddenly I'll catch it, and rip open the throat.”
I saw Bella give a shudder. “Sorry,” I apologized. She shook her head.
“No, it’s fine, carry on.” I’d felt a flash of queasiness, but she was calm again now and her curiosity had returned.
“I'll get the smell of blood in my lungs. It fills me up; pushes other thoughts out of my head. So I drink it. And it tastes so sweet, the only thing that makes me feel a bit better. It’s wonderful, feeling it trickle down my throat. But it never quite fills me up, no matter how much I drink...” I trailed off, feeling again the horror of this beautiful taste, the same way I did after any hunt. I looked at Bella.
She looked up into my eyes, and I saw my horror reflected in her own. I could feel it flowing out of her body, mixed with other emotions. There was a lot of sadness as well, which surprised me. And finally I detected a trace of fear.
“It’s horrible, knowing that the only way to feel truly satisfied is to take human blood, and end someone else’s existence. And the thought of what my family would say; if I gave in to the temptation. What Alice would think?”
A wave of sadness flowed up inside me at that idea, mixed with the love I always felt when I thought of Alice. I couldn’t bear the thought of the disappointment I’d see in her eyes if I slipped up. I would never be able to look at her again. If I was being honest with myself, that was one of the main reasons I abstained from eating humans. I would do anything for Alice.
I returned to my previous description. “Once the blood’s gone, my thoughts clear and I can take in my surroundings again. We have to dispose of the bodies, usually by burying them, or putting them under a tree. We can’t risk somebody finding them.
These feelings are all so much more powerful with humans, though. If I was hunting animals, and one of my family stopped me for some reason, I’d be able to come back to myself. I can’t do that very well with humans. It’s very hard for me to control myself normally, and impossible when I’m hunting unless someone physically intervenes.”
Bella nodded. “Edward said something about that. He said I couldn’t be anywhere near him when he was hunting.”
This didn’t surprise me much. We all knew how much Edward was risking every moment he spent with Bella, although he was much better at it now.
“He’s right,” I told her. “If you were close, he wouldn’t be able to stop himself. He wouldn’t register that it was you and not just any other… food source.” I hoped that was a good enough term to use. Even so, I saw Bella shudder, and felt fear around her. I knew it worried and saddened her that Edward desired her blood so much but she disguised her emotions well.
“The smell of the blood in humans is much stronger. We can smell it even when you aren’t bleeding. I can hear your heartbeat, pushing that blood around your body.”
I glanced at Bella again, certain there must be fear there that I was missing. “You sure you want me to carry on?”
“Yeah, it’s fine,” she said. I shook my head. Edward was right; she wasn’t scared enough. It was dangerous for her, this lack of fear. It wasn’t healthy. One day, she would get caught up in something that would break through this boundary, and I worried about how that would affect her.
She was clinging to my every word; an overwhelming feeling of curiosity was all I could detect. How could she just sit there and want to know more?
“Tell me more about the smell,” she asked.
“To me, the smell of you all is fairly similar. But it smells delicious, and sinks into my lungs every time I breathe in. It’s been a while now since I had human blood, but I can still remember the taste. And every time I’m near someone who’s bleeding, I remember that taste.
It tastes of rust, and salt, and something else I can’t really describe. It seems thicker than animal blood, and is far more filling. If I’m near human blood, I can’t reason anymore. I can’t even register that my family are trying to help when they get in my way. About the only thing I remember in that state is their names. I’ll fight them, because I can’t think of anything but the blood.”
I looked up to meet her eyes. “Like that time at your birthday.” She shuddered, betraying the emotions I managed to hide. The memory brought mainly pain and sadness to her, and some shock. I cursed myself for the thousandth time for losing my control that day, and forcing Edward to leave her. Even now, when he was back with her, you could see the damage the separation had done.
I spoke quicker now, ashamed of these memories.
“I couldn’t understand why Emmett and Edward wouldn’t let me near you. And the fact that Edward wasn’t even drinking from you made it so much more unfair. My only thoughts were about your blood, and how good it would be to taste it. I didn’t come back to myself until I’d been outside for a while. And then when I realized what I’d done, I was so furious with myself. I just had to get away for a while.”
I looked down into her innocent eyes again.
“I’m sorry, Bella. I really didn’t mean it.”
“I know, Jasper. I don’t blame you.”
I smiled at her. “Thank you, Bella. You should, though.”
She smiled back and slid along the sofa to give me a hug. “I trust you, Jasper. You’ll have to try harder to get rid of me than just using scare tactics.”
I grinned down at the girl beside me. After all I’d just told her, she still sat there. Edward couldn’t have chosen a better girl to love. If only he’d get a move on and change her.