Edward, I thought desperately.
He inclined his head slightly, acknowledging my thoughts, but didn't take his eyes from the wall.
How is he holding up?
The corners of his mouth briefly curved down, and a panicky feeling arose in my mind. I tried to glance at Jasper without moving my head. Future boredom in French flashed in my head, followed by the agonizing monotone of Murphy's AP American history lecture soon to come. I can't see anything concrete about Jasper; I guess it's good he hasn't decided to kill anyone yet.
Is there any danger?
While scanning, I saw nothing but ennui and chattering humans. Edward seemed to follow a crack on the ceiling very slowly to the left and right, a subtle shake of the head. Relief flooded my mind, and the scenes faded. The torture Jasper was enduring must be maddening for Edward. It's hard enough to control your own burning thirst; shouldering someone else's load is unimaginable.
Let me know if it gets too bad.
His eyes glanced up to the ceiling and back down, a nod only I notice. I owed him, but I didn't think about it. A favor of this magnitude required proper thanks, gifts even. There was no time for me to contemplate my gratitude gifts now, however. Edward would peek; and I had Jasper to concern myself over.
Thanks for doing this.
The cafeteria was full of potential tragedies, and Jasper was on the verge of committing one. Nothing concrete was coming to me though, except...like a break in programming, suddenly I saw Jasper get up and go to the little human who stopped to talk near the end of our table. Her short hair did nothing to hide her vulnerable neck from his razor kiss. I was about to lean forward and grab his hand, when I felt the jolt of Edward kicking his chair. The less-than-heartfelt apology and quick glare he leveled on Edward, betrayed his thoughts.
"You weren't going to do anything," I whispered to him, trying to ease his embarrassment. "I could see that."
I caught Edward's fleeting look as he tried to avoid giving my lie away.
"It helps if you think of them as people," I explained swiftly, much too quick for a human eavesdropper to understand. "Her name is Whitney, and she has a baby sister she adores. Her mother invited Esme to that garden party, do you remember?"
"I know who she is," Jasper snapped.
Agony for him welled up inside me; he wouldn't speak to me like that if he weren't fighting every moment with his nature. It came so much easier for me than the others. I think sometimes Jasper resented me for it. He didn't need me here, now, scrutinizing his every move. Edward even seemed to be annoyed with me. With a sigh, I got up and dumped my uneaten lunch. I knew he would follow when the others left. Even his anger and resentment wouldn't keep him from me for long. I could see him already, as we stand waiting for Matthews to unlock the classroom, his arm against the wall, leaning in to kiss my cheek. He will whisper his regrets about his previous tone, and I will forgive him before he asks. He loves me too much to hold me responsible for his anguish. I love him too much to give up on what could be a lost cause. If we are damned, at least we are damned together.
Jasper is all I have ever known. His angel's face was my first light when everything else was darkness and pain. He was so beautiful in my first memory that I didn't think he could have been real. I was terrified that the all-consuming burn of thirst would scorch the image of his face from my mind, but his face never left me. From the moment he took my hand we have been soul-bound. I would be lost without him. He has changed his whole existence for me, and has never once complained. He could easily make me feel his agonizing self-denial, but instead carries the burden alone. I wonder who I am to be deserving of someone so self-sacrificing.
My troubled musings brought me to the classroom door. The language arts hallway filled with milling humans. The crowded hallways were Jasper's worst temptation. I closed my eyes and looked for him. Thankfully, I see Emmett has decided to escort Jasper to me. I owe him now too. Sighing, I opened my eyes and watched as my beloved lithely turned the corner and walked as close to the wall as possible, trailing his fingers along the dull bricks. I waved to Emmett letting him know I could take it from here. Jasper rested his forearm against the wall and leaned down to whisper in my ear.
"I shouldn't have spoken to you like that, Lis," murmured Jasper, his lips brushing my jaw in a rare public show of affection, "You deserve better..."
His guilt must have been unbearable because he never uses my pet name in front of anyone. He was embarrassed to be too emotional in front of others, especially Emmett. He was sensitive to a fault, and didn't take to teasing about anything that had to do with me. If Emmett knew Jasper had a nickname for me, he would torment him mercilessly. Emmett's idea of a joke often revolved around making someone else uncomfortable, be it physically or emotionally. Only Edward knew, and he has always been considerate enough to pretend he didn't.
I silenced Jasper with a kiss, and let my eyes smile to show him all was forgiven. The irritated face of Mr. Matthews flashed in my head; he can see us from down the hall and has decided to give us a piece of his mind. Jasper felt the smirk pulling at the corner of my mouth, and deepened the kiss for show. I was surprised, but couldn't resist. We never did this, this high school hormonal behavior. The kiss stifled a giggle about to erupt at the scene that unfolded in my head. Matthews was going to start shouting in a minute...
"Cullen, Hale, this is neither the time nor the place!"
I broke off the kiss and the vision faded. Jasper sighed in resignation and restraint.
"Alice, I wanted to..."
"I forgive you already, Jazz. I know it's not you talking. It's just going to take some time."
The smile he bestowed upon me was so beautiful it almost broke my heart. Jasper so very rarely smiles, especially during our school charade. The constant battle he fought with his instincts required all of his focus. I wish I could take it from him, this burden I have chosen to put upon the two of us. He was so much bigger than I, had so much more physical strength, but we both know I am stronger when it comes to being around humans.
"I love you Lis. I'll see you after class."
He leaned down once more, right as Matthews approached, and kissed me. Immediately I saw Matthews will report to the principal after school about the PDA in the English and foreign language hallway. I accepted the farewell kiss because I needed the reassurance it brought me. Concerned, however, about the unwanted attention it would bring to the others, I was going to need damage control. Jasper pulled away and offered an apologetic shrug to an annoyed Mr. Matthews. I caught Jasper's eyes and nodded meaningfully towards the aggravated teacher. There were times when Jasper's ability to manipulate emotions was a godsend. Matthews visibly relaxed and the office scene came to me again: he was still complaining about teenagers "necking" in the halls but does not mention that it was the perfect Cullen kids. I thanked Jasper with a grateful smile, and he winked at me as he turned to walk to class. My anxiety for him returned as soon as he was out of sight, and I tried to settle into my seat.
AP French, for the third time. I figured since I was in Spanish 5 the last time we masqueraded as high school students, I should give French another go. Matthews' accent was atrocious, but his grammar was as flawless as mine. Occasionally, when he called on me, I was careful to mispronounce something so he felt significant. Unlike the majority of the teachers, he wasn't pleased by the success of the Cullen clan. He itched at any opportunity to prove we weren't perfect. He was lucky I found amusement in the visions of his banal home life when he chose to tell his wife about the little grammar mistake Alice Cullen made in class. It was odd that this is one of the few things that gave him pleasure.
The practice test that we were given was barely a distraction, thankfully. I could focus all of my attention towards Jasper. The visions fuzzed in: he decides he can hold out no longer, he must hunt. One moment I see him racing through the forest, whisper-soft through the trees, the next he is calm and satiated, laying next to me on an outcropping of rock, stargazing.
"That's it Jazz," I murmured to myself, "We will go this evening...you'll be fine for the rest of the day."
"Miss Cullen, veux-tu dire quelque chose?"
Dammit, that man.
"Non, merci Monsieur. J'ai parlé à moi-même."
"Oui Monsieur, je m'excuse"
I saw the petty triumph in his eyes, and for a brief moment I considered telling him exactly what I thought about him in every language I knew. I imagined Carlisle's patient voice, reminding me about tolerance towards those with short lives. "They can't help themselves." Suddenly a blinding flash of violence and pain crashes my reverie. I jump at the screaming and butchery in my head...Oh no, please no, Jasper. The vision was so appalling I almost begged out loud. It was like a flipbook, one stillshot, then another, and another in flashing, gory animation. The students who are still alive are too horrorstruck to move, their faces stippled with blood. Several others are facedown on tables, necks bent at unnatural angles. I brought my fist to my mouth to stifle a groan.
The scene cuts off, like a curtain being dropped on a horrific performance. Be strong Jasper, please, please, please. He must have changed his mind...why else would it have stopped? Where is Edward? He must have seen what Jasper was thinking of doing. Frantically, I strained to see what ending to prepare for. The vision was foggy; even though I was focusing everything I had on him. I see a novel resting inside of a textbook, a trick as old as formal education. The tattered cover and yellowing pages give the book away. I know what he will read, and why. I imagine the quote he will examine, over and over. The quote he always whispers to me when he's had a hard day: "De la bonne volonté...Où voulez-vous que j'en prenne? Je suis pourri." The French is so familiar to me I see it as English. Human feeling. That's beyond my range. I'm rotten to the core. He has decided to use literature and self-loathing as a distraction. Since his French is abysmal, his choice of reading material should hold his attention. I see no more violence, just melancholy and burning thirst. He will meet me after class with hungry eyes, his jaw tension-set. We will hunt tonight.