What if Bella had reacted differently after she saved Edward in Italy? Abandoned by the family, Bella slowly grew stronger in their absence and, even though she loves them all, Bella decides to hold the family responsible for their actions when she returns from Italy. Bella teaches them all that their choices have real consequences, ones that just might change everything… JxB O/S
[Bella, Jasper] [Rosalie, Emmett] – Complete
Twilight – Rated: T – English – Hurt/Comfort/Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 4,728
For those of you who don’t follow me on WP, I will be updating my True Blood story again, but I’m having some technical difficulties at the moment. The notebook I have it all saved on has decided to be a total brat and I don’t have the funds to fix it right now. Because I shattered the screen on my phone (which, by the way, I dare any of you not to instinctively toss your phone when a three inch long bug lands on it), it basically came down to a choice between buying a new phone or fixing my notebook. So, TPMK has been temporarily benched. The good news is, I had to find a way to keep myself entertained without it and I’ve been up to no good on my phone. I’ve actually got a few different stories in the works, but this was something I wrote tonight. It’s just a small little one shot that my muse prodded me into writing and I decided to share it with you all. Just a reminder, I love reading your reviews, but I write to entertain myself, so if you don’t like it? Well, that sucks, but please keep it to yourself because I happened to enjoy it! *snickers* Okay, I’ll shut up now.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters below. Stephanie Meyers proudly owns them all. I just have a country addiction and a soft spot for a certain tall, blonde Texan.
Bella was different.
Jasper noticed it the second she stepped off the plane from Italy. There was a strength there that had been sorely lacking when they left her behind in September, one stronger than steel. It was the kind of strength that only developed in people who had suffered at the world’s hands, those who had been beaten down and cut to pieces before they slowly got up and painstakingly pieced themselves back together.
She had a darker aura than he remembered and a fortitude that hinted at the loss she’d been through, the betrayal and abandonment she tasted. Somehow, all that suffering had made her stronger. The agonizing pain the coven had dealt her with their actions had set her soul on fire and when the flame finally cooled, she had hardened into something that Jasper found strikingly beautiful. Instead of letting that fire consume her, she let it remold her. She was a survivor now, thanks to their actions, and Jasper noticed.
How could he not?
The first thing Bella did when she got off the plane in Port Angeles was call a family meeting. She then let Carlisle and Esme hug her before looking at Emmett. She stared at him for a long moment, feeling such a disturbingly complicated mess of emotions that Jasper couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Her hard stare made Emmett shift uneasily and her disordered emotions settled a second before she finally took a step forward. Grabbing both Emmett and Rosalie by the hand, she started dragging them out the door of the airport as she softly called out over her shoulder, “I’m riding with Emmett and Rosalie. See you back at the house.”
An odd emotion rolled off of her as she confidently strode out the door, one Jasper couldn’t quite place. He liked the way it felt, though. It was like something had grabbed hold of him and literally lifted his soul into the air and he was oddly disappointed when she was no longer in range, making his soul plummet back down to the earth. It was a hypnotic feeling, one that resonated with him on a fundamental level.
For years, he’d been feeding off of Alice’s happiness, tasting her addicting, dizzying emotions like they were dishes at a delicious buffet. Jasper filled himself with them, soaking them up like a sponge, but the emotion that he just felt from Bella? He hadn’t taken hold of that, it had taken hold of him. It called to him, to some unknown part of him that he’d unintentionally buried. He could feel that part of him slowly opening its eyes and shaking off the last clinging tendrils of its deep slumber. He suddenly felt more aware than he had in decades, like Alice’s fluffy emotions couldn’t cloud his mind any longer. Edward gave him an odd, curious look, registering the sudden heightened clarity of his thoughts, and Jasper simply winked.
Stunned by Bella’s sudden departure, Carlisle and Esme waited until they could no longer hear her heartbeat before turning back to look at Alice and Edward with baffled expressions. They hadn’t really known what to expect when they saw Bella again, but that was certainly not it. She’d implied they were family, her family, by calling for a family meeting and she even seemed glad to see them, but she’d left so quickly after getting off the plane that it left them unsettled.
Edward merely shook his head, his eyes dark and a chaotic tangle of emotions rising in his chest. Alice, on the other hand, looked at them all sadly, her eyes lingering for a second on Jasper, and murmured, “Things are changing. Bella has picked a different path and the road she’s chosen doesn’t lead her back to Edward’s side. That’s over. She won’t change her mind.”
While Esme and Carlisle argued quietly with Alice and Edward over what Alice had seen, Jasper’s mind took off in a different direction entirely. He looked at the airport door again, deep in thought. Jasper was impressed, actually. It honestly wasn’t easy to stand up to Alice and Edward, especially when facing them both at the same time. After so many years with the Cullens, he knew it was nearly impossible to stick to your guns about something when Alice was trying her damnedest to change the outcome of that decision. To think that Bella had done it… well, it was the type of thing that made him sit up and take notice.
He finally figured it out at that moment, what that exhilarating emotion was that Bella felt as she walked out the door. It was freedom. She had felt so utterly free and, now that Jasper had tasted the feeling, he felt a soul deep craving for more.
Jasper tuned back into the conversation happening around him when Carlisle asked Alice what else she had seen in the future. A sharp spasm of pain ripped through her that had him reflexively pulling her into his side. Looking conflicted, she glanced up at him before turning to look at Carlisle and somberly revealed, “She’s forbidden me from looking. She knows I can’t stop every vision, but she told me to stop actively searching for anything to do with her. Bella said I had the opportunity to step in every day after we left, to change the lonely path we set her on, and I didn’t. Because I didn’t put an end to her suffering, she says I don’t have the right to seek out visions of her anymore.”
Alice finished that shocking announcement with a glare in Edward’s direction and the action made Jasper instinctively pull away from her. Alice didn’t even notice, too focused on mentally berating Edward. Jasper shook his head slightly in disappointment, realizing she still didn’t understand the lesson Bella was trying to teach her. Alice’s actions were her own and that was what Bella was trying to show her. She couldn’t blame Edward for the choices she made. Alice never once told them how badly Bella was suffering without them and she could’ve put a stop to it all with a simple phone call. Her gift was triggered by choices and, out of all of them, Alice should’ve realized which of the bad choices that the Cullens made were solely her own.
The house was eerily quiet when they finally followed Bella back to their old abode. At first, they all wondered if Bella had left, deciding to call it a day before they even made it to the driveway. Then their ears registered the sound of a heartbeat sedately pumping along and they followed the relaxing sound into the living room, where Emmett and Rosalie were sitting down on one of Esme’s comfy, white sofas. They stilled in their tracks once their eyes sought out Bella’s sleeping form, not quite believing what they were seeing. Bella was curled up in Rose’s lap, her arms tightly wrapped around her neck and her face tucked into the crook of it. What shocked them even more was the venom clouding Rose’s eyes and the way the fierce, normally stoic vampire clung to her in return.
Rose looked up at them helplessly when they stopped in front of her, tightening her hold on Bella like she was afraid they would try to take the human away from her. Emmett’s arm was tucked around her shoulders and he ran the fingers of his free hand gently through Bella’s hair, a look of utter shame on his face that made their hearts clench. The soothing motion of his fingers slowed when they stilled in front of him and he glanced at them out of the corner of his eye before resuming his tender strokes.
When Emmett finally spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically hoarse, “We never should’ve left. I only went along with you all because I thought it wouldn’t be long before Edward changed his mind, but…” he swallowed thickly and the light sound seemed to thunder in their ears, “letting her believe we abandoned her without a backward glance? If we’d only been gone for a mere moment while she felt like that, it still would’ve been too long.”
Esme fell to her knees in front of him and gently reached up to caress his face, quietly reassuring him, “We would’ve made you leave, Emmett. You didn’t have a choice.”
Emmett’s eyes teared up and he roughly shook his head, arguing in a low voice, “You’re wrong, Esme. I had a choice. Each and every single one of us did and Bella knows it. You couldn’t have stopped me if I wanted to stay or return for her when I finally realized Edward wasn’t coming back. I’m her brother. She expected me to be by her side, to support her when she felt like her world was caving in. She needed me and I wasn’t there.” His body shook with a silent sob and he choked out, “I hurt her the most. I hurt her more than Edward did. Love comes and goes. Family’s supposed to stay.”
Esme stroked his cheek softly and looked at Bella, her eyes beginning to brim with venom as realization set in. Rose instinctively pulled Bella closer to her, shying away from Esme in a futile effort to protect Bella from anymore harm, and the involuntary movement tore a soft cry from Esme’s throat.
Jasper could practically see the thought that ran through Rose’s mind when she shied away. It was a thought that often ran through his own over the last few months, one he hadn’t been brave enough to voice out of fear of hurting Esme. Looking at Bella now and the way she clung to Rose in her sleep, Jasper felt a flicker of shame over not saying something sooner. He’d never had a chance to form a bond with Bella, so he hadn’t felt right hurting someone he actually shared a bond with, but that newly awakened part of him tore into him at that moment, berating him for letting that sleeping angel suffer more than she should’ve.
Even now, Jasper was tempted to say it, to say what he should’ve all those months ago, but he held his tongue yet again, this time with the belief that saying the words was simply unnecessary. Esme caught the accusing look Rose gave her and was undoubtedly silently asking herself what Jasper wished he had.
What kind of mother leaves her daughter behind when her heart had just been shattered by the one she loved most?
Bella had made it clear from day one that she loved Esme like a mother and Jasper had even mentioned it to Esme on more than one occasion. How Bella felt about her was something Esme had always cherished, which was why Jasper couldn’t quite believe she was able to leave Bella behind just because Edward had decided it was for the best. He knew Esme’s thoughts often drifted to Bella, the girl she loved like a daughter, but this was the first time she actually realized what she had done by walking away. Esme ducked her head in shame and regret poured out of her as her small frame shuddered with a silent, heartbreaking sob.
Carlisle joined his mate on the floor and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in for a bittersweet embrace. As old as he was and as wise as he once thought himself to be, he hadn’t expected this. He hadn’t known just how deeply their actions would affect the beautiful girl sleeping in Rose’s lap. Emmett was right, they all had a choice and Carlisle knew he’d chosen wrong.
Rose met Jasper’s eyes as she cradled Bella’s sleeping form and that’s when he felt it. Whatever Bella said to them before she finally closed her tired, jet lagged eyes had taken a wrecking ball to Rose’s beliefs. She was in the process of internally rebuilding herself, forging something new from the pieces Bella had reduced her to, and a passionate love for Bella and unending loyalty was at the heart of it.
Rosalie wasn’t an easy person to connect with, so the fact that this new, stronger Bella had not only reached her, but changed her at a fundamental level? It was something that Jasper noticed.
Rose caught sight of his growing intrigue and her eyes hardened. A silent warning passed between them, one that no one else understood or picked up on. Rose’s emotions shifted to the fierce sense of protectiveness Jasper had always loved her for and his gaze wandered to Bella, taking in the heartbreakingly beautiful human who felt so at peace in the arms of a vampire that she’d actually fallen asleep. He met Rose’s eyes again and nodded slowly. He wouldn’t hurt her, she was a rare ray of light brought into a dark and ugly world. As ugly as their world was, Bella somehow found beauty in it and Jasper wouldn’t let anyone take that away from her.
In that moment, Jasper was positive Bella could be bleeding out and he wouldn’t lunge for her. Something inside him had shifted and the part of him that had been sleeping for the last few decades wanted to protect her at all costs.
Glancing at the rest of the family first, Jasper turned back to Rose and Emmett and asked curiously, “Do you know why she called a family meeting?”
Despite how guilty and ashamed he felt, Emmett couldn’t help smiling at Jasper’s question. Rose glanced at him, rolling her eyes, and explained, “The Volturi ruled against Edward and gave us a mandate, to either change her or kill her. She called a family meeting because she wanted to take a vote and let the coven decide if she should be changed-”
Grinning, Emmett cut in and added, “She changed her mind on the way over. At first, she decided it was wrong for Edward to be given the right to make that decision, that we all should have a say, but then she realized it’s not our choice either. It’s hers. She wants to be changed and decided the only say the family gets is who’ll be the one to do it. She said she’ll go back to Italy if one of us doesn’t step up and change her.” His gaze landed on Alice and Edward when Edward made a noise of disagreement and his voice took on a darker, more menacing tone, “It’s done. We don’t get to decide her future for her anymore.”
Jasper smothered a smile at the way Emmett’s warning gaze and scolding tone made Alice and Edward step back and hold their tongues. Leveraging the Volturi against them was a wise move, but he hadn’t expected Bella to make such a bold decision. She’d definitely changed since September and Jasper was oddly excited to find out just what else about Bella was different.
The Cullens slowly found themselves gathering around Bella after Emmett fell silent again, drawn in like planets orbiting the sun. They weren’t quite able to walk away from her yet, unable to bear losing sight of her after being cut off from her for so long. They knew now that it was going take a lot of hard work to regain her trust, that the choices they made had long lasting consequences, but they were determined to make it up to her somehow.
Even Alice seemed a little unsure around Bella, which was a little hard to believe since she knew what the future held. At first, Edward tried to sit next to Rosalie and therefore Bella, but Alice quickly shook her head and Rose’s gaze once again locked with Jasper’s. She silently begged him to fill that empty space and, as intrigued as he was, Jasper shook his head. Obviously, Bella had ripped into Emmett and Rose on their way home and he didn’t want to be next. Being the first thing she opened her eyes to seemed like a bad idea to him.
“Please,” Rose whispered, “you’re the only one who hasn’t hurt her, the only one she isn’t mad at.”
The other Cullens inwardly cringed at that and looked at Rose in astonishment. None were more astonished than Jasper himself and he slowly repeated, “She isn’t mad at me? I’m the one who tried to take a bite out of her!”
“She doesn’t blame you for that,” Emmett cut in. “Actually, she blames Alice and Edward.” Jasper, Alice, and Edward all sucked in breaths of surprise and focused on him. Emmett never once tore his gaze away from Bella while he explained, “You weren’t given a chance to adjust to her scent like everyone else was, Jazz. She’s Edward’s singer and she learned what that meant in Italy. If Edward could adjust, then so could you, but Edward and Alice kept Bella away from you. She told us she tried to give you the same chance to adjust, but every time she decided to talk to you about it, Edward or Alice stopped her.”
Confused, Jasper looked at his wife, who refused to meet his gaze. She felt guilty and Jasper didn’t like it, not one bit. Acting on instinct, he moved closer to Rose and Alice and Edward both tensed.
“That’s dangerous,” Edward hastily argued and Emmett let out a low warning growl. Jasper ignored him completely, keeping his eyes trained on his wife as he slowly sat down next to Bella. As he got closer, she tensed up even more. He once thought that tension she felt was worry over putting her best friend in harm’s way, but now? Jasper wasn’t so sure.
Out of nothing but morbid curiosity, he slowly reached for Bella’s hand, keeping his gaze on Alice. A second before he touched her, Alice looked up, venom in her eyes, and whispered, “Don’t. If you really love me, don’t do this.”
Jasper’s hand stilled. He did love Alice and he was torn. No matter how curious he was and how guilty Alice felt, Jasper just couldn’t bring himself to go against a request like that. What neither of them saw coming was fate taking things into her own hands. Bella shifted in her sleep and her arm brushed against Jasper’s outstretched fingers. Utter peace and completion flowed through them both and Jasper turned to look at the dainty human in surprise as she let out a relaxed, breathy sigh.
Alice was gone when he looked back up and Edward followed close on her heels. Jasper was torn for a second, tempted to chase her down and confront her, but when he looked back down at Bella, he decided he ultimately didn’t care. He’d only ever wanted Alice to be happy and if someone else could bring that happiness to her, he would’ve let her go, but Alice obviously hadn’t felt the same way. She was more worried about her own happiness than his and that stung.
Turning to face Bella completely, Jasper studied the sleeping girl for a moment before murmuring, “Give her to me, Rose.”
Rosalie didn’t need to be asked twice. Even if she hadn’t seen how dark Alice’s eyes turned when Bella moved in her sleep, she felt it when Bella’s already relaxed muscles melted even more. There was only one person’s touch that could make Rose melt that way and she knew at that moment that Alice and Edward had been keeping a huge secret from them all. Rose looked up at Jasper and studied him intently as she gingerly shifted Bella into his arms, taking note of the tender expression on his face as Bella instinctively curled into him. His emotions slowly leaked out into the room as he wrapped his arms around her and the entire room let out a sigh as the sheer peace he felt descended on them.
Esme and Carlisle exchanged a look when his emotions swept over them, realizing just how much things needed to change. They had let Edward and Alice guide the coven and the emotions Jasper felt with Bella in his arms told them just how much of a mistake that had been. Emmett was right, they all had a choice and they shouldn’t have let the decisions of two determine the actions of them all.
Bella slowly came to an hour later, feeling deliciously relaxed and well rested for the first time in months. She kept her eyes closed at first, relishing in the unfamiliar peaceful feeling, and let out a delighted sigh. She felt whole in a way she never had before and it made her instinctively tighten her grip on the vampire holding her. Tucking her face into the cool skin of his neck, she inhaled deeply, taking in a scent that caught her by surprise. For the first time in over a year, the heady scent of home surrounded her, one of desert winds and summer rains, and it called to her on a primal level, making her feel completely at ease. She exhaled slowly, savoring the comforting notes of home, and a shiver ran through the person holding her. It was then that her eyes flew open in realization. The person holding her didn’t smell like Emmett or Rosalie.
A deep chuckle escaped Jasper when he felt her awareness take hold and Bella slowly leaned back to look at him. Jasper steadily met her gaze and said seriously, “Rose said I’m the only one you’re not mad at.”
A giggle from behind her had Bella leaning back even further until she was looking up into Rosalie’s golden eyes. Smiling at her, Rose ran her fingers gently through her hair and whispered, “Hi, Bella.”
Bella smiled brightly at Rosalie, feeling a rush of affection that Jasper found addicting, and murmured, “Hi, Rose.”
She slowly pulled herself back up and studied Jasper in silence, looking deep in thought. He looked back at her just as thoughtfully, wondering what she was thinking. Seemingly out of nowhere, Bella asked, “Did you know you smell like Arizona, Jasper?” He shook his head and she nodded, “You do.” Catching him off guard, she tucked her face back into the crook of his neck and inhaled again, murmuring against his skin, “Like desert winds and summer rains. You smell like home.”
Jasper wasn’t quite sure when Bella had gotten so brave, but he liked it. He reflexively tightened his hold on her and shared a look of surprise with Rose before catching the shit-eating grin on Emmett’s face. Emmett might’ve felt torn up about missing out on the last few months of Bella’s life, but he had to admit he liked how much Bella had changed in the time they were gone. Without Alice and Edward there to dictate her actions, she’d really grown into her own. She even dressed differently, wearing flannel like her dad often did and the cowboy boots he hadn’t seen since her first day of school, when she first moved up from Arizona. The look reminded Emmett of Tennessee and probably appealed to Jasper’s inner Texan just as much as it appealed to his own country roots.
A slow smile crept across Jasper’s face as Bella leaned back to look at him again. His eyes darkened a shade as he met her gaze and murmured, “I guess we match then.”
Bella frowned and asked skeptically, “We do? I thought I smelled like freesia.”
Emmett snickered while a mirroring frown stole across Jasper’s face. He shook his head a little and asked, “Is that what Edward told you?”
When Bella nodded, his eyes lit up with a spark of mischief. Before she had a chance to react, he ducked down and tucked his face into the crook of her neck. He inhaled slowly, running his nose seductively over her carotid, and relished her reaction. Her breath hitched and a thrill ran through her, quickly followed by a surge of lust. Not once did her fear spike and he reveled in that knowledge. Adrenaline raced through her veins, but not a hint of fear.
Jasper paused for a second when he realized just how close his teeth were to her neck and noticed, with no little amount of astonishment, that his bloodlust hadn’t surged. It dawned on him then that this was only the second time he’d been in the same room with Bella without Edward being present. He’d only ever been alone with her once, in Phoenix, and he hadn’t noticed his lack of thirst a year ago; he’d been so worried at the time about James finding a way to get to Bella that the thought never even registered. All this time, Jasper thought he couldn’t control his thirst around Bella when, in reality, it was Edward’s unbearable bloodlust that he couldn’t move past.
Focusing on Bella again, Jasper slid his right hand into her hair, and gently supported her tilted head while he inhaled again. His Texan drawl slipped out when he remarked in a husky tone, “Desert wildflowers. That’s what ya smell like, darlin’.”
Another thrill ran through her when she picked up on his accent, one she hadn’t known he had. He smiled against her skin when he felt how much she liked it before schooling his face and slowly lifting his head. He lazily leaned back and met her chocolate eyes as she turned her head to look at him. Her gaze dropped to his lips for a second, sending a hit of adrenaline and a thrill rushing through his own veins, before she raised those doe like eyes of hers to his once more. Unaware of his actions, he tenderly ran his thumb over her jawline and Bella merely stared at him for a long moment. Finally regaining the use of her mouth, she murmured, “Why do I get the feeling I missed something?” and the entire room exploded with laughter.