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Doubt

Summary:
"I would put up with this twisted, corrupt lifestyle for Alice. Only for Alice." In 1950, Jasper and Alice finally find the Cullens. Alice fits right in, but Jasper has a hard time adapting. This the story of how Jasper came to think of the Cullens as family. Canon. Mostly in Jasper's POV. DIsclaimer: All the original characters and plots belong to Stephenie Meyer. However, the new content in my stories belong to me.


Notes:


8. Chapter 8: Pursuit

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Chapter 8: Pursuit

Nevada, Utah, Colorado…the states blurred together in my haste to get to Maria. I knew that Edward was pursuing me, and that only served to augment my haste. If I was lucky, I would be too far within Maria's territory before Edward was able to catch up. I was fast, but I knew that Edward was faster.

I skirted along the borders of New Mexico, and then I was in Texas. Almost immediately, I could smell the thick, cloying smell of the pyres of many a dead vampire. I gagged. In all my years as a vampire in Texas, I didn't have a single memory of the smell ever being absent.

I advanced cautiously, confident now that Edward would never be insane enough to venture so deep into Southern territory. My plan was risky, possibly suicidal- but I was confident that the combination of my scars, battle prowess, and reputation would be enough to keep me alive.

I had begun to trust the Cullens, even to like them- but Edward had changed all that. I saw them now for what they were really trying to do; once Edward had ferreted out all of my deepest secrets with his accursed mind reading, they would use Alice and I to help them conquer more territory. I had already met several covens that acted this way. Frankly, I knew that I should have known better, but Alice had persuaded me that these vampires were different, that they wouldn't try to use or hurt us for their own purposes. She had been wrong.

I stopped to feed just outside of Dallas. I started toward a pack of coyotes, but then hesitated. What the hell, I thought, wheeling around and hurtling toward the city. I would need all my strength if I were to confront Maria- she was one of the deadliest fighters I had ever seen. It was not for nothing that she was the possessor of one of the largest territories in the South.

Spotting an old tramp snoring drunkenly next to a dumpster, I dashed over and snapped his neck like a twig, crushing his vocal cords at the same time. The enormous ecstasy and relief of his blood quickly smothered the brief flash of terror and pain that followed. Animal blood tasted like wax next to this.

I heard a startled gasp. I whipped around, teeth bared, only to see Edward staring at my prey.

"What are you doing here?" I snarled.

"I'm here to convince you to come back," he replied.

I laughed harshly. "Good luck with that."

Edward sighed. "Jasper-"

"Go back to your family," I interrupted. "The South is no place for you."

Edward bristled. I had offended him. "Listen, Jasper-"

"Why should I?" I snarled. I thought back to Alice's expression after he had told her about the very thing that I was trying to protect her from. I trusted you. You have betrayed that trust. Why should I listen to you?

An unexpected rush of remorse made me break my chain of thought. I looked up. "I am sorry for that," Edward answered quietly. "It was not my place to tell her. I should never have done so, but she would have found out eventually."

I scoffed. "I would never have put her in that position."

"Speaking of Alice," Edward continued. "Are you just going to abandon her to us?

I flinched. "I wasn't planning to."

"Then why are you going back to your old coven?" Edward asked. Confusion was radiating off him in waves.

I never planned to return to that whore. My goal is to kill her. I thought honestly.

Realization and relief swept through his aura. "You weren't going back to Maria because…"

"I loved her as well as Alice? No," I finished. "I never loved her. Alice is the only woman I have ever truly loved."

Edward nodded. "Alice was getting worried. She saw you returning to Maria, but she didn't know the cause. She was afraid that you were going to leave us for her."

She has never understood the extent of the changes that she has caused in me, has she? I thought. I would never leave her. I love her more than life itself.

"I realize that," Edward responded quietly. "But how do you think she would feel if you die in the process of trying to protect her? She'd blame herself, of course. It is very likely that you will fail in your mission. Maria has a whole army of newborns protecting her. You are only one vampire, Jasper- you may be a match for Maria, but against thirty or so newborns, even you might not survive."

I faltered. As much as I hated to admit it, Edward was right. I had been so focused on protecting Alice that I hadn't thought about the possible dangers to myself. But why was he helping me? Edward had been against my joining his family from the very beginning. Why hadn't he just left me to execute my faulty plan, and be removed from his perfect life in the process?

"Alice has become like a sister to me," Edward explained. "I would never intentionally hurt her that way. Besides-" His mouth twisted up in a wry smile. "My life is far from perfect. You're not the only one who has willingly fed on human blood."

I was stunned. Edward, the one with near-perfect self-control, who acted like he knew everything in the world, who was always filled with self-loathing for some unknown reason, had rebelled against Carlisle? "But…why?" I asked.

"Yes, I suppose I have been rather arrogant, haven't I?" Edward commented dryly. "About a decade after Carlisle changed me, I was feeling like he was controlling my life. Why should I adhere to his vegetarian ways? I felt that I should be able to make my own choice as to who and what I could feed on. I left Carlisle and Esme, choosing instead to lead the life of a traditional vampire.

"I hunted only the criminals, the rapists, the robbers of the night. I thought that I was making the world a better place by taking their lives. I was wrong." A wave of regret crashed over me. I winced.

"Sorry," Edward apologized. "You see how much I regret my decision. It only took me a few years to return to Carlisle. The loss of so much human life, regardless of what monstrous deeds they had performed, was simply too much sacrifice. Hearing their thoughts as they died, living their memories and feeling their regrets through their eyes, was too much to bear." He smiled sadly. "In this aspect at least, we are alike."

I nodded once.

"But even I may not be able to completely sympathize with you. You feel everyone's emotions as if they were your own; I only heard their dying thoughts. I was even able to block out their thoughts to some measure" Edward mused. His golden eyes focused on my crimson ones. "You might want to feed before we return to Oregon," he noted. "We'll take our time getting back- your eyes will probably turn back to gold by the time we arrive. Only Alice will know."

"Thank you," I said quietly. Now that I was no longer bent on killing Maria, I discovered that I was missing Alice like part of my soul was gone. Part of me was screaming for me to just run back to Alice with my eyes as they were, damn the consequences; but the other part knew that Edward was right. I had already caused Carlisle and Esme enough stress today- there was no need to add to that with my foolhardy choice.

Edward suddenly spoke up. "You were wondering why I always seemed to hate myself so much?"

"Yes," I answered. "You have everything, not including a mate- peace, a family that loves you, extensive hunting grounds- what else could you possibly want?"

Edward gave a surprised laugh. "I suppose my lack of a mate could have been part of it. But to answer your question- I want to be human. Don't get me wrong; I love Carlisle and Esme as if they were truly my mother and father, but I believe that we have lost our souls."

I snorted. "If we have, then I am truly damned. It's impossible for Carlisle to have to suffer in hell- he's just too good. Of course we have a soul- how else could we love? How else could we truly live?"

"Perhaps you're right," Edward amended. "But remember- we are the undead."

I laughed. "Let's abandon such heavy topics for now. I need to hunt."

Edward grinned back. "You know, I never really thought of you as the philosophical type before. I suppose I was just too distracted by you as a potential threat to find out."

I smiled grimly and brushed a hand along my mangled neck. "I am a rather scary sight, aren't I?"

"Terrifying," Edward agreed. I growled and lunged at him. Laughing, we chased each other back across the suburbs, back to Oregon, where Alice was waiting.

Alice pounced on me as soon as we came within sight of the Cullen residence. "Never. Do. That. To. Me. Again." She growled, smacking me playfully on the head.

I winced theatrically, putting my hands up in surrender. "Sorry, darlin'."

Emmett burst through the front door, grinning widely. "Jasper! I thought you were never gonna show up! The last thing we need here is another sulky Edward."

Edward flew over and swatted him on the head. His hand connected with Emmett's skull with the sound of two boulders crashing together. "Hey!" Emmett complained.

I noticed Carlisle and Esme standing on the porch, hand in hand. I went up to them, Alice bouncing happily beside me. "I apologize for my actions, sir," I said contritely. "My decision was hasty, and I realize my mistake."

To my surprise, Esme stepped up and hugged me tightly. I drew in a sharp breath and stiffened. Reminding myself that this was Esme, not some crazed newborn, I awkwardly wrapped my arms around her and hugged her back. Her burst of instant happiness made me giddy. When she finally let go, I quickly smothered the goofy grin on my face, trying to retain some shreds of my dignity.

Like the very first day we met, Carlisle reached up and put his hand on my shoulder. I could feel his compassion radiating through him, washing into my body through his hand. "There's no need to apologize, son," he responded. "Edward-" Carlisle speared him with a piercing glare.- "should be the one to apologize."

"I have already forgiven him," I answered. "He was right- Alice did need to know about my past." This last part was directed at Edward, who glanced at me in disbelief.

Carlisle looked at him with surprise. Edward shrugged, grinning. "Let's just say that we had a little talk."

Carlisle nodded. "Come inside, Jasper. I imagine that Alice is dying to get you in some new clothes."

"You got that right," Alice grumbled. She tugged on my hand. "C'mon, Jazz- your clothes look terrible!" Suddenly, she froze, her eyes going blank.

Fear, shock, and anger exploded in an angry whirlwind from both Edward and Alice. I shook Alice's shoulders. "What? What do you see?"

She didn't respond. Urgently, I turned to Edward instead. "What happened?"

"She's coming," Edward and Alice whispered together. Emmett, Carlisle, and Esme were watching them with alarm.

"Wait a sec- who's coming? Who's she?" Emmett asked.

A cold finger seemed to run down my spine. I thought back to the last time someone had said something similar- the day when Sebastian and the newborns had attacked us in the clearing.

"She caught your scent in Dallas," Edward continued, his eyes still staring off into space. "She has three newborns with her- all trained, her best fighters. She also caught my scent- she doesn't know how many of us there are, so she brought them as backup. She's going to be here in three days."

"Who's she?" Emmett pressed. All eyes swiveled to me. Rosalie flashed down the stairs, linking her arm with Emmett's.

"Maria." Edward, Alice, and I spoke together.

Maria was coming.