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Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her?
Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.
14. Jasper - Cotton Wool
Word Count 4022
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“I like this room” Alice said to me as we were rolling around the floor of my room in the house I shared with Rosalie and Emmett while we were at the University of Alaska.
“There’s nothing in it” I smiled, thinking Alice was being sarcastic.
“I know, that’s why I like it. Nothing to get in the way, or to detract from this” she replied as she leant over to kiss me again. I did love this woman.
“I’ve decided that I don’t like Bella anymore” Alice grumbled after we had made love yet again.
“Why is that? Has she point blank refused you permission to revamp her closet?” I did know Alice so well, and I had a pretty good feel for Bella, too.
“No, it’s because she was not at all sympathetic to the fact that I would be miserable without you.” Alice was upset by that apparent betrayal.
It was wrong of me, but I laughed. “Given what she went through our separation is nothing. We knew we would see each other again in a few days. She thought she would have to wait seventy years to see Edward again.”
“I know that, but I still thought she would be sympathetic” she continued to grumble.
“And what use would that have been?”
“None, but I would least have known that my friend felt for me.”
I wondered how to reply without hurting Alice’s feelings. Should I point out that Bella went so long thinking us not her friends that it shouldn’t be surprising that she couldn’t act like a friend just yet? Just because we knew that Alice had always thought of Bella as her friend, Bella had no reason to know that. I still felt so guilty that we had given her every impression that it was the opposite. What was that human saying? ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’. We Cullens had certainly proved that, only Bella was the one who was in hell.
“Bella is in pain every second. I can feel the weight of it pressing down on her. When I saw her after school I needed to get away quickly because I could feel it pulling me down too. She wasn’t so bad when we were at her apartment, but it was still there. I expect she thinks our problems are so petty they’re barely worth mentioning, let alone getting upset over.”
“I know but it still hurt me that she didn’t sympathise” and Alice was hurt.
“If she can forgive me for trying to kill her, can you not forgive her for not being quite as empathic as you would like?” I tried to sound sympathetic.
“You know Jasper, sometimes I really don’t like it when you are all calm and reasonable.”
We knew everyone would have arrived at Tanya’s and were probably wondering where we were. Or perhaps they weren’t wondering at all and knew. I pitied poor Edward and Bella. Imagine wanting someone to the degree they wanted each other and not being able to do anything about it. Well, they could clearly do some things, hadn’t Bella already told us that, but how would I cope being with Alice all the time, loving her as I did, without being able to make love to her the way I just had - fiercely? I didn’t think for one moment that neither Edward or Bella didn’t want the other fiercely, you only had to see the way they looked at each other to know that they did, but to know that they could do very little with Bella locked in that broken body must be another kind of agony for them to live with.
We heard Rosalie’s ring tone on Alice’s ‘phone.
“You should have been here. It all went horribly wrong” were Rosalie’s opening words.
“What do you mean? How bad was it?” Alice asked.
“Bella’s rib cage broke while Carlisle was doing CPR after Kate tried to shock her; Irina ran off in a huff with Kate trying to catch her, and Tanya is debating on whether to cut the family connection with Emmett offering to make the decision easy for her.”
Alice and I heard the words, but didn’t want to believe them. We knew they would be upset at Laurent’s death, but it was years ago and to react like that! Alice asked for all the details.
“Rosalie was right” I said after Alice ended the call. “We should have been there.”
Alice agreed. But we knew Rosalie had wanted us there to enjoy the spectacle rather than for what I could have done to prevent it deteriorating to the point it did. And as for Bella: what did she think she was doing refusing medication? Our presence was clearly needed at home.
We arrived just before midnight. Everyone was there except for Carlisle.
“He’s still at the hospital with Bella” Edward said in reply to my silent question. “He said he’ll stay to monitor her personally, that she is sleeping and that she is fine. I spoke with her on the ‘phone while she was having her operation. She said it helped. Carlisle expects to bring her here in the morning and she’ll stay for a few days. Alice, if we can’t persuade her to take some time from school you’ll have to find a way to help her as much as you can.”
I could hear the desperation in Edward’s voice. Did the agony he was experiencing now outweigh the joy he felt while he was with Bella? I briefly thought of how it would feel to me if Alice was in Bella’s situation and knew that I would take any amount of agony to be with her while I could.
Edward, Alice and Esme went to Bella’s apartment to collect her things. While they were there, they packed everything up for the move to the house.
Alice told me how few things Bella had. Of course we always knew she never was one for wanting clothes, but I think we were all still surprised at how few personal items there were, mementoes, ‘photos, that sort of thing. There were a few books, something I thought there would be boxes of, and no music. That was going to be a problem.
“How are you going to get around the music problem Edward?” I asked.
“I’ve ordered an electronic piano so that I can play with ear phones in while she is doing school work or sleeping. It’s not ideal, but if she can accept that the piano is there, she might one day want to listen. It’s going to be a slow process, but I’ve got time.”
But, I wondered, did Bella?
Carlisle brought Bella to us just after six. He said it was after the shifts changed at the hospital so the new shift wouldn’t have been aware of what procedure she had.
She ate a banana and small yoghurt, then she took a pile of tablets, all without saying a word. I could feel the tension rising, I dreaded to think what was going through Edward’s mind.
The silence must have been getting to her.
“For goodness sake! Will you please all stop hovering? I have had a minor operative procedure. I was in pain, now I am not. I am a little sore and bruised, but it is nothing for anyone to worry about. I am fine!”
Everyone looked to Carlisle.
“It was not minor, you lost a lot of blood due to the blood thinners, you are still in pain which will not be eased until I can operate properly on your spine and you will continue to be sore and bruised for a good few days. For the next six hours, you will be carried to your bed, from your bed to the bathroom and from the bathroom back to your bed. I will reassess at noon. Edward?”
Carlisle was being very stern. They had probably been arguing all the way home about the level of care that Bella needed. I almost wished I had seen it.
Edward didn’t quite manage to hide his smile as he lifted Bella and went to take her to his room which now sported a bed.
“Oh dear, was she being very difficult?” Esme asked.
“Yes, very. She assures me that I had obviously been a vampire for too long because I had clearly forgotten that humans develop tolerance to things and she, like nearly every survivor of traumatic injuries, now had a tolerance for pain that meant she did not need mollycoddling. And would I please stop trying to jeopardise her future by trying to get her fired from her job? I have a superior brain so I should start using it to find different solutions to problems instead of assuming that there is only one solution. I even began to feel sorry for all her pupils.”
Emmett laughed at Carlisle’s words “Way to go Bad Ass Bella!”
I tried to calm Carlisle down.
“I noticed while we were at Tanya’s how she got us to think about her problem and solutions. Even though she was clearly in great pain she was still the teacher leading her pupils to solve the riddle instead of her telling us the answer. I expect she is an excellent teacher” Esme said.
Alice agreed that she was. Apparently, when Bella started most of the pupils thought she would be a pushover – the poor cripple. They were shocked when she proved she wasn’t. Alice thought it was the dead look in her eyes when they were trying to intimidate her that told them there was nothing they could do to frighten her. It had taken less than a week for everyone to know not to mess with her.
“I’m sorry, Alice but I’m going to have to ask you spend your lunch breaks with Bella next week to make sure she doesn’t do anything she shouldn’t” Carlisle said.
“That’s fine.” Alice actually sounded relieved.
Since Edward had decided not to go to school any more I knew that Alice spent most of her lunch breaks alone. Alice, like the rest of us, had never developed the knack of making human friends. We were aware that we had to be careful not to get too close so that they wouldn’t notice how different to them we were. But it would be nice to be able to make friendly acquaintances.
Perhaps once their relationship got past the ‘new’ stage Edward would feel able to return so that Alice would have some company.
We were all trying to be polite and pretend not to notice, but Edward was not faring very well against Bella’s will. Edward was trying to persuade her to sleep some more. Bella was telling him it wasn’t going to happen.
“Damn it Bella! Why do you always have to be so stubborn?”
“Because only a stubborn person could survive run ins with vampires, or a fight with a train. Now quit nagging and talk to me nicely. I shall no doubt want to sleep again shortly, but for now what I need is pleasant, relaxing conversation to help calm me and if you’re not up to it I’ll call for someone who is!”
“You know I do hope Edward is up to the task because I really do not want to be the one she calls for pleasant conversation” Esme said, her sympathy for Edward was clear.
“Perhaps a strategic retreat? There must be something we can do at the house?” Alice suggested.
“We could take her sofa across and fit its new cover” Esme offered.
It did not need five vampires to move one sofa, but that is how many volunteered. Poor Carlisle was told he had to stay at the house, “just in case” and the rest of us, except for Rosalie, went to play removals.
When we returned, having practically emptied Bella’s apartment so there was no need for her to return, all was quiet from Edward and Bella’s room. Alice and I went up for a quick word with Edward before we retired to our room for a few hours.
“Has she settled down to sleep now?” I asked quietly so as not to disturb her.
“No she has not” Bella was snide, while Edward raised his head to look at the ceiling as if calling on the deities to give him strength, or, more probably, patience. “She is waiting for someone to indulge her so that she can relax and then, if she is lucky, maybe get a little more sleep. But at the moment, instead of relaxing, she is debating the wisdom of hitting something even if that means that she will hurt herself. And Jasper, please stop doing that or she is going to be even more uptight when you leave the room!”
“Erm, Bella” Alice didn’t seem to know how to approach this bad tempered Bella. “Since you’re in a bad mood anyway, I can tell you that you greatly hurt my feelings by your lack of sympathy over my missing Jasper. And you don’t need to tell me that it is shallow of me given everything that you have suffered, but I still wanted you to know how I feel.”
“Alice, get your stone cold ass in here and listen.” This, I guessed, was a mixture of Bella the friend and Bella the teacher. “If I had been all soft sympathy you would have carried on through the rest of the week moping and being miserable. As it is, you got cross with me and spent the week being narky and mad. Believe me, narky and mad are easier to live with than mopey and miserable. Now go away and take him with you” she indicated me.
“I definitely do not like Bella anymore” Alice said when we were in our room.
“Maybe not, but you still love her” I said as I nibbled at the back of her neck.
“That is irrelevant” and she twisted to give me better access. “Did you know that Edward and Bella make love?”
“What? But they can’t! He could kill her! No, you must be wrong. We knew they indulged in heavy petting, but surely that’s all? Are they mad?”
“I take it that you didn’t know. According to Rosalie, Bella said that Edward had superior control and that Emmett might try it someday.”
“Superior control is not enough. You’ve heard what state her body is in, especially her heart. How can he risk her that way? I’m surprised Carlisle hasn’t taken him to task, or perhaps he will when Bella is out of the house. In fact if he doesn’t, I will. I’ll get Emmett to help me.” I was incensed.
“Jasper, you keep your nose out of other peoples’ love lives” Bella said most emphatically.
“Edward probably told her what you were thinking, although she might actually have heard herself since you were not exactly ...” Alice said as I left our room and went next door to Edward and Bella.
Carlisle also made his way to their room.
“Goodness, it’s getting like Grand Central Station in here” Bella was sarcastic.
“Carlisle, tell them that having sex is very dangerous for Bella” I demanded.
“Edward, you know that making love could be very dangerous for Bella” Carlisle was more conciliatory than I thought appropriate.
“Carlisle, you’ve just seen me naked from the waist up. Did I look like I have suffered any injuries as a result of intimacy with Edward?” Bella sounded long suffering.
“There were a couple of small bruises on your right arm that look like they may have been caused by fingers, but otherwise, no.”
“Have you been called out to restart my heart as a result of intimacy with Edward?”
“No, but that does not mean ....”
“Has Edward ever given you reason to believe that he would ever physically hurt me other than when pushing me out of the way of another danger?” Bella asked with a pointed look at me.
“Of course not!”
“Do you think that I would want to be with Edward if I thought he was ever going to hurt me?”
“To be frank, I’m not sure about that Bella.”
“Alright, I’ll give you that one, but Edward promised to never lie to me ever again. Do I have any reason to doubt his word?”
“No, not anymore.”
“He has said that he will do whatever I want, give me whatever I want. I want to enjoy a normal sex life with the man in my bed so Edward is bound to make love with me. Now since you all seem to think it is your business, let me tell you that Edward sometimes does find it a little difficult to control his excesses so we have taken certain precautions so that they may be directed safely. I could do what the old Victorian ladies used to and just lie back and enjoy while Edward does all the work, and sometimes I do do that. But sometimes I want to indulge myself, although I can’t do as much as I would like to, and it does mean that I end up feeling very stiff afterwards. But Edward knows how to take care of me so that the stiffness soon goes away. And my heart medication is always at hand just in case. Now unless any of you have any suggestions on how we can actually improve our sex life, butt out!”
I heard what she said, I even agreed with it. “But Bella, just because he hasn’t hurt you, or your heart hasn’t stopped, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Edward should be protecting you not putting you in more danger, however well intentioned.”
Bella sighed, I thought that meant she was about to agree with me. Edward gave a wry smile and shook his head.
“Jasper, Edward and you decided what was best for me twelve years ago. Look at how well that turned out. Edward has promised not to make decisions for me again. Only I have the right to decide what is best for me. I know my heart could stop any time, I couldn’t tell you how many times it has happened in the past year. I know my body is frail and not very supple at all. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have been in absolute agony in this past month. I know I could die tomorrow and Edward’s actions or inactions could have nothing whatsoever to do with it. I could even die in my sleep courtesy of a bad dream. Given that I am on borrowed time – Jasper, I am going to die, I should already be dead – why would I deny myself something that gives me pleasure? It is in my best interests to be happy. Making love with Edward makes me happy. Why would I want to live if I am unhappy and nothing but a burden?”
I hated the fact that I could understand exactly what Bella meant. Edward and I did decide for her before and, yes, that turned out real badly for her. But I needed her to be alive and well. And I would only admit it to myself, but if that meant she should live long and frustrated instead of short and happy, then I wanted it to be long and frustrated.
“Edward, you have my absolute sympathy. Bella is now going to firmly rule your household. You will be her slave” I acknowledged defeat.
“But there will never be a more contented slave” Edward agreed.
“Now that the drama is over, can you all please go and concentrate on your own sex lives for a while so that Edward and I can talk about ours in private?” Bella was back to being snide.
I let Alice drag me back to our room. I realised that I had made a bit of an exhibition of myself.
“Now Jasper, before we do as Bella bade us, would you like to tell me what that was really all about?” I should have known that Alice would pick me up on it.
I spoke very quietly, hoping that Edward would not hear my words or my thoughts, or if he did he kept them to himself. “I was brought up to believe a man should protect a woman. That often meant making decisions for her but as long as he had her best interests at heart she would come to no harm. I’m finding it real hard to accept that sometimes a man can be wrong. In fact in this case Edward and I were so wrong that Bella came to an awful lot of harm. My instincts tell me that Edward should therefore take even more care of Bella, wrap her in cotton wool as the saying goes, whether she wants him to or not. My head knows that Edward can only take care of Bella as much as she wants him to. I don’t know if you heard it, but I got the distinct impression that if Edward does not make love with Bella then she will walk, or die.”
“Yes, I heard it. If Edward cannot make love with her, then she will believe that he does not love her, that he is repulsed by her aging and broken body, that she is nought but a burden and that it is only his guilty conscience that demands he takes care of her. In those circumstances she will die because she has nothing else that makes it worth living in all that pain she’s in.”
“I really messed up twelve years ago didn’t I?”
“Jasper my love, you are not to blame for the instinct to go for blood” Alice tried to reassure me.
“No, I didn’t mean that. I really messed up when I didn’t insist that I should be the one to leave the family, or at least cease my interaction with Bella; when I didn’t insist that you must stay in contact with her as her friend; when I didn’t point out to Edward that the woman who would leave her family for him was not going to just move on.”
“We all messed up there. Edward had the right to make his decision for himself as did you. I should have made the decision for myself that I was going to stay in touch with Bella if she also wanted to remain in touch. And we’re still doing it now. No wonder she’s getting fractious. Bella knows how physically hard school is going to be next week. She is, or rather she was, grateful for any help we can give, but only to do what she wants. And what Bella wants, is to not miss any school if there is any possible way of being there. So instead of trying to tell her she shouldn’t be going to work, we should be talking about best ways to help her be at school.”
“I don’t know what I did to deserve such a terrifyingly clever woman to love, but I am so very grateful for it.”
While not as wild as Emmett and Rosalie, our loving was usually very physical in its nature. This time however it was slower and gentler. We worshipped each other’s body with fascination and not just passion. I finally understood how Edward and Bella could have a very pleasurable, even if not wild, sex life.
Alice did talk to Bella about how she could make life easier for her in school while she healed. That stance was clearly the one Bella appreciated; her mood improved no end. Carlisle also cottoned on: to get Bella to do what you wanted, you had to make her want it too. To get Bella to agree to stay with the family until she moved into her house with Edward, Carlisle told her it would help her keep up her strength making it easier for her to carry out her teaching duties effectively.