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Connections

Summary:
The Cullens did not leave Forks after Bella's disastrous birthday; Jasper did. Heading south to once again join ranks with an army he never fathomed still existed, Jasper is thrown into a war against his past...and even against his own family. JasperxAlice with alternating POVs. A mature rating for violence and sexual content. (This story takes place after Bella's birthday but does not follow the events of New Moon.)


Notes:
Disclaimer: All canon characters belong to Stephenie Meyer and are works of her imagination. Plots and original characters are of my creating so please respect both of our writings!


1. Risk

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Chapter one: Risk

Jasper

Her blood fell so slowly to the floor it felt as though gravity wasn’t functioning. The small, red drop glistened in the light of the scented candles burning to Bella’s right. The cut that wounded her finger whispered sweet melodies to me. It called my name. It was for me. And I lunged. I didn’t even see Edward intervene. I was so focused on sinking my teeth into Bella’s sweet neck. Next thing I knew, my body was submerged in the piano and Emmett had a grip so tightly on my arm it felt like my bones were breaking under his fingertips.

The whole room sung of blood. Bella’s blood. I could almost taste the scent in my mouth. I twisted and turned in Emmett’s grip and now Rosalie held me as well. I was raging with such passion that I forgot who I was. And for a moment, just a moment, I was someone I hadn’t been in years.

Carlisle had rushed Bella out of the room, her blood that I wanted so desperately running out of a large gash just above her elbow. When Bella was out of harm’s way, I wrenched my body out of Emmett’s strong grip, an audible gasp coming from Rosalie as her grip was also broken. And I ran.

Where I thought I was going, I didn’t know. It wasn’t after Bella so the entire group didn’t find it necessary to follow. Except for Emmett, of course. One would think it would be Alice but she knew me better than that. She would give me time and space and only when I had regained my composure would she approach me. Her soft hands would stroke my face and her golden eyes would sparkle like topaz in the sun. But Emmett was all about confrontation and there wasn’t any way I was leaving without speaking with him.

“Jasper!” Emmett shouted as he dashed after me. “Jasper, wait.”

“Leave me alone, Emmett,” I warned. The trees and ground and bushes swirled together into a wonderland of brown and amber as I raced with speed that could match a bullet train. I didn’t want to talk to Emmett. I had almost killed the woman Edward considered his soul mate. I wanted to run away and burry my head so far deep into the sands of a distant beach that no one would ever be able to find me. I wanted to disappear. But Emmett was hot on my heels as he tried again to slow me down.

“Jasper, please,” Emmett begged. “Just talk to me. Please.”

Emmett would have followed me to the end of the world and since I didn’t know where I was going anyway I came to a halt at Emmett’s request. Emmett ran past me, and almost into me, surprised that I had actually stopped. Had we been humans, the both of us would be breathing so hard our lungs would have burst. Instead we both stood motionless, like statues in a museum.

“Jasper,” Emmett breathed. “You can’t be angry with yourself. It was a mistake-“

“A mistake that almost cost the woman of Edward’s dreams her life,” I said angrily.

“Well…yeah. But we stopped you. That didn’t happen.”

“You’re not always going to be there to stop me,” I reminded him, a sadness filling my voice that I couldn’t control.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, Jazz. But you should come back with me. We’ll talk to Edward. We will figure it out. If you run off, Alice will be worried.”

“Alice will understand,” I said and I knew I was right. “I need to be alone for a while, Emmett. This is my burden. I appreciate that you are concerned for me but the best thing for me right now is to be on my own.”

I let my powers work for me. Anger at myself was raging inside my chest but I let out a wave of calmness, like a soft mist, and I knew the soothing emotions would encourage Emmett to give in to my request. I saw Emmett’s muscles in his jaw relax and his fingers fell from the fist he had at his side. Emmett shook his head and gave me a look he sometimes gave to Edward when he knew his mind was being read.

“You’re using your voodoo on me,” Emmett said with a smirk. “It’s been too long, Jazz. I know how that works now. But…I guess I understand. We’ll be waiting for you.” Emmett fell silent. He stood momentarily in front of me and exchanged a sympathetic look before disappearing into the darkness of the woods.

For the first time in days I was alone. The hillside was a river of orange and yellow and red. Green leaves that usually decorated the Washington wilderness were now a season past as they began to fall gently to the ground. The sky was bright blue but patches of full, white clouds blew gently across the horizon. The sun would occasionally peak through the white wisps and my skin would sparkle like a thousand diamonds in the rays of light. I wandered my way to the western coast, far up the shore and away from La Push territory. The beach was deserted. The waves that crashed along the shore were cold and soon a thick curtain of ice and snow would silence the roaring sea. I had grown up in the heat of the south, where water melted away into the air the instant it touched the ground. The ocean was something foreign to me but something I had always admired. The sea was mindless but powerful and had no cares in the world but the steady rhythm of itself.

My hair blew across my face as I stared out across the endless Pacific. I felt the warmth of the sun fading fast from my face as I watched the first moments of the sunset begin. Sooner or later I would have to face my family and though I knew they would welcome me back as though nothing had happened, I dreaded the short trip back to Forks. But I couldn’t stand here at the edge of the world forever and hide; I had to go back.

It was dusk when I turned my face away from sea. The sky was now purple and blue and only a faint light lingered on the horizon. The forest was dark as I ran through the hillside and as I made my way through the trees and branches I could tell I was not alone. The scent and shadows were foreign to the land but somehow familiar to me. I stopped immediately, dirt and stones flying out from my feet as I skidded to a halt next to a huge Western Hemlock. Whatever was following me had stopped as well for the forest was silent. Only the flap of a little brown bat’s wings could be heard and the screech of an owl far in the distance. I groped the darkness for life, as I stood motionless.

“Show yourself,” I commanded. For a moment there was nothing other then my own breath but as I focused my eyes I saw a shadow creep out from behind the brush. I felt my body stiffen and my blood run cold through my veins. I knew the face. I recognized him the instant my eyes met his. But it couldn’t be.

“Hello Jasper.” His words were a soft slur, a southern drawl. Not my south but the south of Georgia, the old Georgia. He stood tall with dark, thick curls on his head and his eyes were red like the blood that had spilled from Bella’s arm. I had remembered him telling me that his blood was Greek but so many generations in the deep south had truly christened him a southern. His real name was Raleigh, a good English name. But when he stood beside me in 1864 the newborns used to call him “The Hawk”. It was Raleigh that swooped into the circles of newborns and chose the best, collected the few that were granted life. And those that weren’t hand chosen were disposed of by none other then myself. What a team we had once made.

I found myself crouching slightly as my hands curled into tight fists. The initial surprise of Raleigh’s presence in the woods of Forks had distracted me. I had forgotten who stood before me, who stood only miles from my family and from human beings. Raleigh immediately observed my stance but his body posture remained still as a soft chuckle escaped his lips.

“None of that now, Jasper. I see you after all these years and I don’t even get a proper greeting? Seems to me the north has worn down your manners, boy.”

“We didn’t exactly leave on proper terms,” I reminded him. “What is it that you want?”

“I have a message for you, Jasper Whitlock.”

“A message from who?” I asked but there was no need. I knew from whom the message came. Most of my body wanted to turn away and cover my ears and send him away. But there was some small shard, some small sliver of my being that eagerly yearned for this words. Her words.

“You know who. It was quiet for a while after you left but it’s not quiet anymore. The south’s alive again. It’s like old times.”

“This is the 21st century, Raleigh. Things are different,” I interrupted.

“Not so different,” Raleigh said as though he had some hidden wisdom that I lacked. “The technology these days only makes it easier. We’ve been waiting all these long years and the time has finally come. You and me, Jasper. Just as it was.”

I shuddered at his words as I felt my thoughts dip into utter disbelief. “You aren’t trying to tell me that you’re recreating a southern vampire army…”

“That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you. Well…not me, of course. I’m just the recruiter. But I don’t need to remind you who the boss is, do I?”

“Maria,” I whispered, as though speaking her name would somehow bring her to life in front of me. A smile that suited a snake slithered its way across Raleigh’s face and suddenly the crescent-shaped scars on my arms seemed to glow as memories of slaughter and blood and southern warfare shone like stars in my mind. For years I had tried to cover up my memories of the south and with only a few words the entirety of my history resurfaced.

It should have been easy. I knew what he wanted. He was here to recruit. Why else would he have tracked me down? I should have told him he was insane and sent him off, him and Maria and the rest of my southern past. But somehow Raleigh held me to my spot and I stared him down as though my eyes could destroy him and the news he brought with.

“You know why I’m here, Jasper.”

“I do. And you can leave without me…as soon as possible, please.”

Raleigh shook his head with that same sickly smile he frequently wore. “What’s your reason for staying, anyway?”

I felt my chest tighten as the anger I had calmed earlier rumbled through my body. I narrowed my eyes as I spoke. “It’s been over 100 years since I last saw you, Raleigh. You don’t know me anymore. Things have changed; I’ve changed.”

“And are you happy? Is this ‘lifestyle’ really any better? It’s torment for you. You weren’t meant to drink off of bear or moose like some kind of lowlife beast-”

“How do you know this?” I demanded from him. “How do you know about my life or how hard or easy it has been for me?”

“I have my ways,” he answered and his tone was dark and serious and his smile faded away like the sun. I suddenly realized we were standing in the dark, the deep dark of the woods. The moon was low in the sky and it was full and yellow and looked too heavy for the horizon. The moon was only visible through a clearing in the high canopy, beautiful Pacific Madrone trees and Western Hemlocks almost completely blocking the sky. Stars were surely twinkling high above Raleigh and I but I couldn’t seem them.

“Sheep don’t eat wolves, Jasper,” Raleigh stated. “We are what we are. You’re fooling yourself if you think any differently.”

A long, panicked howl ripped through the night and Raleigh turned his head in the direction of the sound. It was ominous, a warning. The wolves. I scowled in their general direction. The scent of Raleigh had traveled across the border, although currently where we stood was within my family’s territory. Nevertheless, I could almost hear the soft padding of paws against the dirt as the wolves drew closer to the boundary line.

“You should leave,” I warned. Raleigh had most likely never seen a thing such as what Jacob was but somehow he knew it was time to go.

“Ask yourself if you’re really happy here,” Raleigh said. “Did you make the right choice?”

“Yes,” I answered, almost growling as Raleigh attempted to patronize me.

“You risk the safety of others. You risk the exposure of your family. You suppress who you are and for what? For the taste of wild bear blood? But you’re right. You’ve made the right decision-“

“Get. Out!” I snarled. My body was tense, rock solid like one of the cliffs that decorated the beaches of La Push. I no longer had the upper hand on my emotions. Raleigh was beginning to get the best of me and I could no longer hide whatever ferocity was boiling in my veins. Raleigh’s blood was older but mine was stronger. He had been the judge of lives but I was the one who had taken them. He showed no weakness but the silence he kept reeked of fear and anxiety. But my former partner in crime had already accomplished what he had come to Forks to do. His words were tumbling through my head, doubt was pouring through the highways of my veins. Regardless of how far he ran, whether it was back to the south or to the outer most corners of this known universe, his words would remain.

“You know where to find us if you ever change your mind. You take care now, Jasper,” Raleigh almost whispered and like the brisk autumn wind, he disappeared into darkness. The howling was now unbearably loud. Four, five, who knows how many wolves were charging along the border. Raleigh had undoubtedly crossed boundary lines but I was in no place to play mediator with the dogs. I’d let them run around until they were exhausted, until their voices were too hoarse to make any sound.

I now was racing. I didn’t want to go home but for some reason my body was heading in that direction. What if Raleigh had spoken to the others? Had spoken to Alice? But it didn’t seem like him to play games. Either way, the sight of Rosalie and Esme standing on the front porch of the place I called home was a sign of great relief. There was no way of hiding my presence as I came shooting out of the woods like a missile. There was a look of worry spread out across Esme’s face and Rosalie stood with her arms crossed against her chest. I felt shamed as I approached my family and I turned my face from Esme so that her soft, loving gaze couldn’t find my eyes. Her emotions didn’t belong to anger or disappointment as I closed the space between her and myself. Relief and happiness were all that I could sense. Esme looked petite in my height as her hands came to grasp my face, a motherly touch that never failed to soothe me.

“Jasper,” Esme cooed, “I was worried you wouldn’t return.”

“You were worried for me? Why…aren’t you angry?” I questioned.

“Would you like me to be angry?”

“Of course not. I…that’s not…I only meant-“

“I know what you meant,” Esme asserted softly. “Your own shame is enough for the both of us. Forgive yourself, Jasper. It was a mistake and we’ve all made them.”

“Not this kind of mistake. Not to this degree. It wasn’t just some random person, Esme. I could have-”

Could have,” Rosalie emphasized, cutting into my words but staring off in a direction that was not mine. She took a long moment before turning to me to speak, her deep gold eyes catching the porch light like amber wheat basking in the sun. “But you didn’t. Emmett didn’t let you and neither did Carlisle or Edward. It’s the point of having this family, Jasper. There’s no reason to live together if we aren’t going to protect one another. It’s not as though we don’t know the risks of sharing each other’s company.”

The words sounded strange coming from Rosalie. Her sentences were hard and cold in tone but the actual words meant to comfort. It wasn’t like her to offer me condolences but for some reason, in this moment, she was doing so. I went to speak but found that no words were readily available. Risks, she had said. They took risks…and one of those risks involved me. My mind flashed back to the dark woods where Raleigh had found me and his words joined Rosalie’s and echoed through my head until I couldn’t tell the difference. Rosalie’s gaze had fallen from mine and she turned her back to the direction she was originally staring. It took me only moments to realize that some members of the household were conspicuously absent.

“Where are the others?” I asked suddenly.

“Edward, Carlisle, and Alice have gone to the border,” Esme answered. “There’s been some kind of disruption…the wolves were raging about a rouge vampire and Carlisle went to soothe the situation. Emmett is inside with Bella.”

My body stiffened. I had hoped to keep Raleigh’s little visit a secret but with Edward’s mind and Alice’s foresight, plus the multitude of adolescence wolves, I realized my plan had been foolish. The howling had seized and Raleigh’s scent was something of the past. Esme, Rosalie, and I stood silent in the porch light as clouds encircled and smothered the moon. Carlisle would return soon but it was Edward’s arrival I dreaded. What words could I offer to him? I’m sorry I almost pulverized the love of your life? As though Esme suddenly had obtained Edward’s power, she placed her hand on my shoulder and spoke.

“Edward does not harbor any ill feelings towards you,” Esme reassured. I could only nod my head with a feigned smile in response to Esme’s words.

Edward was not my only problem at the moment. Like the thunderstorm I could smell fast approaching, my mind rumbled and flashed as thousands of thoughts collided with one another. Everyone was taking a risk. I was a risk. Hours ago I had been so certain of my place, my choice, as I had been for the entirety of my time spent in Forks with my family. Was this not where I belonged? Every moment was a war between who I wanted to be and who I had been for all those long years I had spent with Maria.

I could hear Emmett rushing down the stairs as he made an appearance in the doorway. Carlisle and Edward were returning from the woods and when Alice trailed in from the behind she raced to my side almost immediately upon seeing my face. Voices all seemed to collide and fill the air as my family was reunited with one another. With my fingers entwined with Alice’s and the warm greetings of adopted parents and siblings, I should have felt completely home.

But the tiniest of strings, an invisible tugging at my heart, was somehow pulling me away…away from the hemlocks and cliffs and snows of the north to the deep, hot plains of the old Texas south.