Alice had gone for a walk, saying I was messing with her visions as she's never been able to see clearly with me around and with James and Victoria after me, she needed to see. I didn't mind being alone with Jasper, even though we had never really talked, I've always felt a connection to him… one that I can't explain. I turned on the air conditioning in the hotel room and as soon as Jasper inhaled, he became rigid and froze. I sniffed the air and the only thing I smelled was some floral scent I couldn't identify.
"Jasper?" I inquired in concern.
"Jasper are you alright?" He was still sitting on the floor in front of the couch only now his knees were pulled tightly to his chest as he fisted his hair. He was trembling and his breaths were coming in shorter and quickened gasps. I didn't know what triggered it, but I knew Jasper was panicking.
"No! Please don't do this!" I heard him whimper out.
'Oh god, he's having a flashback.' I knew what I was about to do was dangerous since he wasn't aware of reality right now, but I could not, would not leave him alone in this without support so I wiggled in between him and the couch and wrapped my arms around him firmly from behind.
"It's okay Jasper… you're safe. It's over… you're safe." Tears streamed down my face as the skin to skin contact made his emotions as clear to me as my own and they were familiar enough that they were just like mine during a different time in my life. I knew the moment my skin met his what his flashback was about and I was angry. I was very angry that somebody as kind, as compassionate and as loving as Jasper ever knew that kind of pain. I was filled with a fierce protectiveness and empathy as I sadly did understand what he was going through as I had been there myself.
I fed my fingers through his hair with one hand and I kept the other hand firmly wrapped around his stomach to ground him. Sobs tore from my body, but I couldn't tell how much of it was from my own emotions and how much was from his.
"You're safe now Jasper. You're not alone. Your-you're not alone." I knew he was coming out of it when his breathing began to slow and his body muscles began to unclench but then I felt his shame and humiliation as he whispered a quick, "Sorry." And fled the room into the bedroom of the suite.
I doubted he realized he was projecting, but with the emotions he was sending off I couldn't let him beat himself up so I took a deep breath and prepared to do something I had never done before.
I knocked on the bedroom door. "Jay, you don't have to talk… I'd just like you to listen."
"Come in." Jasper said just loud enough for me to hear. I walked over to the bed and sat down next to him, but he spoke before I could.
"I'm sorry you had to see that." Jasper said with his eyes downcast.
Just because I know I'm doing the right thing, doesn't mean I wasn't still filled with shame over it, so my eyes were downcast too. "I'm not. I get them to Jasper, a lot more than I'd like to admit and afterward, I always feel like I'm crazy and fucked up and too broken to ever be fixed and that's nearly as hard to deal with. I've always had to go through them alone and I know how horrible that is. I'm glad I was here when it happened. No one should go through that alone." I could feel Jasper's eyes boring into me in concern, but I just stared at my fidgeting fingers. "I'm…" I had to break off and take another deep breath. "I'm going to tell you something that I haven't told anyone since I was six and that didn't even really count… I'm telling you because of the emotions I felt coming from you." Bella took a deep breath. "Jasper, I know those emotions very, very well."
"I know you do." Jasper mumbled, somehow sounding grieved, embarrassed and defensive all at once.
"My mother has always been irresponsible, which is why I was the one who handled the bills, the cooking, and the shopping." I drew my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. "Unfortunately, her irresponsibility also extended to men. She had a thing for degenerate men and they always had a thing for me. Many of her boyfriends were really only with her because they were interested in me." I wiped my tears onto the shoulder of my shirt. "When Renee was irresponsible with the bills or the shopping, there were steps I could take to either improve things or set it right, but the only thing I could do about the men was telling her. I didn't want her to know. I thought telling her would kill me. I didn't want anyone to know, but I needed it to stop. Jeremy was the first and I didn't understand any of it, but I knew it was wrong. I hadn't even started kindergarten yet when he started. I wanted him to stop and I was so sure Renee would pro-protect me." My voice breaking as a sob finally broke loose. "But she thought I was lying because I didn't want her to date." I shook my head, 'as if any 6 year old would come up with that?!' "Since she didn't believe me, it kept happening and I never told anyone again. I didn't fight or scream and a few months after it began, I didn't even cry anymore because I would just shut down. When she broke up with Jeremy there was always another one to follow in his footsteps, five in total. Five vile and disgusting animals who overwhelmed and destroyed me and my childhood. I did everything they said without a fight, even after I was old enough to know better because it was too late. I was already broken and if my own mother thought I was lying then why would anyone else believe me? I would get breaks in between the monsters. Sometimes a few weeks and sometimes months, but the first time in my life I've gone more than a year without being hurt like that was when I moved to Forks." Bella was now trembling under the weight of the memories and her emotions. She was struggling to prevent the memories from morphing into a flashback like Jasper's. Jasper could feel her struggle through his gift, so Jasper pulled her onto his lap and held her. "So… yeah, since I know those emotions so well, I wanted you to know that you're not alone Jasper."
"Thank you for telling me Bella. I'm so sorry you had to endure that and I really do appreciate you trusting me with this, but it's not the same thing." He mumbled into my hair. "I'm a guy that means I had to… ugh… nothing could've happened if I hadn't… and the fact that I... ugh!" Jasper didn't finish his thought but Bella understood completely.
"My first orgasm was forced on me at 9 years old. I didn't want to. I didn't enjoy it, but still, he knew how to make my body respond against my will. Hell, he seemed to be aiming for it. I always at least got a little wet, not because I wanted it, but because that's what the body does to prevent injury. It's a physiological reaction, not an emotional or mental one. Frankly, the hardest part for me to deal with was feeling like my own body betrayed me, feeling like something was wrong with me that it happened at all and the shame and self-hatred that it did. Just because someone knows how to get the person's body to react doesn't mean they were willing or consenting Jasper."
"I thought that there was something really wrong with me."
"No Jasper, nothing is wrong with you." Bella squeezed her arms more tightly around Jasper. "I swear... nothing is wrong with you."
"It was my sire, Maria. She was a vicious bitch and a master of torture, but she couldn't break me with her normal methods. What finally broke me, wasn't the constant bites or months of starvation or being torn apart… it was the shame, the self-hatred and the humiliation that finally did it. I shut down that first time and stopped feeling much of anything until Peter came along in 1898 He was one of the many newborns I sired but he quickly became more than that. I tried not to let my walls down, but he barreled his way straight through them." Jasper chuckled. "He became my best friend, my only friend. We even became lovers. After Peter and I became friends, I could feel again and I couldn't stop no matter how badly I wanted to. I convinced Maria Peter shouldn't be disposed of after his newborn year and he became my second in command. He was with me for more than fifty years and he was the only point of light in my dark life back then. In 1948 I sired a female named Charlotte. She was nearly as small as Alice but she was a fierce little thing. I felt Peter's instant pull to this newborn and she felt it too. It didn't take long for them to fall in love and after feeling what they felt for one another, I could no longer force myself to believe Maria's assurance that she loved me. You see, Maria always claimed that she hurt me how she did, to make me the fiercest and the strongest warrior in our world so she would never have to lose me. However, once I felt Peter and Charlotte's love, I knew what Maria felt for me wasn't love. What she felt was possession, greed, dominance, malice and a love of power and inflicting pain. I think part of me had needed to believe her lies... to believe I was loved." Jasper shook his head in disgust at himself before continuing. "The morning Maria ordered me to dispose of the group of newborns that Charlotte was from, I warned Peter and told him to be ready to run with her once I called her name. I didn't want to lose Peter. I was honestly terrified of losing him and I even toyed with the idea of killing Charlotte as ordered instead of letting them run, but I cared about him so much that I couldn't do that to him. He tried to convince me to go with them, begged me, but even as much as I wanted to, I knew if I went with them, she would send the entire army to hunt us down. I was her most valuable weapon and she would never let me go willingly and she would torture and kill both of them as a lesson to the entire army, and a way to hurt me even more and I cared too much about Peter to let that happen. My punishment for letting them escape was the most severe and long lasting I have ever endured and I nearly went completely mad. She tortured me nearly non-stop for months, but there was no relief when it was over, for I went right back to that desolate; only things seemed so much bleaker then before and it didn't help that Maria was exponentially more vicious towards me than she ever had been. She demoted me and promoted another officer to her second in command. I didn't care, but Diablo was as evil as Maria herself and she started allowing him to force me as well. I actually had less of a struggle dealing with that emotionally. With Maria, the self-hatred I felt whenever she got my body to respond was beyond overwhelming." Jasper ran his fingers roughly through his hair and Bella held him tighter. "I finally got to the point I couldn't take anymore and I just wanted to die. I decided that in two days, during the culling of the next batch of newborns, I was going to walk into the pyre. The night before was when Peter came back for me and I didn't even think about it, I just went with him. I had expected to be okay once I was free, but I got worse. I thought that just proved everything she had said was true."
"I didn't fall apart until after I was free either and I thought the same thing, so maybe it's not so abnormal."
"Maybe." Jasper said, a smile in his voice. He tightened his arms around Bella a little.
"Does anyone else know?" Bella asked him softly.
"Edward probably does, though I'm better at anyone at blocking him, well except for you. However, I don't know if he saw into my mind during any of my flashbacks. Peter knows, but only because of his gift. It's kind of like advanced intuition. He just knows shit. Streams of knowledge just flood his mind. It's how he knew I was getting ready to kill myself. So he knows, but I shut him down the moment he tried to bring it up. I've never told anyone, especially not Alice. I couldn't bear for her to know. It would be worse than anyone else knowing."
"Yeah, I understand that because it's how I feel about Edward finding out. I know me telling you this isn't going to change the emotions because logic and emotions don't usually play well with one another, but Jasper, you don't have a single God damned thing to be ashamed of. I'm truly in awe of your strength. I wish I had just half of the strength you've exhibited."
"I don't feel strong Bella. I feel anything but strong." Jasper shook his head again. "And you are strong Bella. You just faced your greatest fear to open up to me and let me know I wasn't alone. I know you don't see yourself clearly and I understand why, but you are strong Bella… my God, you have no idea how strong you really are. Rosalie's trauma left her bitter, hateful and angry. Mine left me suspicious of everyone and closed off; unable to really let anyone in. Even in the family, I'm always on the outside looking in. I love them all but I've never been able to let all my walls down around even then, even with my own mate. You survived a hell few can fathom and still you're the most loving, compassionate and selfless person I've ever met–supernatural beings included."
Bella wiped at the tears that had begun to race furiously down her face at his kind and heartfelt words. Jasper had made her feel stronger and more secure in herself than she ever had before, and he did so with just a couple of sentences. "Thank you Jasper."
"Any time Darlin'." Jasper pressed a soft kiss to her hair and smiled.
"Do you still get the flashbacks a lot or do they get better the longer you go being safe?" Bella asked softly, doing a poor job of hiding the hope in it.
Jasper sighed. "I don't get them as often, but when I do, they're just as bad."
"Oh," Bella said sadly.
"Am I really the only person you've ever told–I mean besides your mother?"
"Thank you." Jasper whispered.
"Thank you, Jasper. I wish you didn't understand but at the same time, I feel better knowing that someone does. Is that fucked up?"
"No Darlin', I'm feeling' the same way. Hearing' that it happens to females too helped more than anything ever has. You really are special Bella Swan."
"You too Jay."
"Yeah, well, if we're friends now you need a nickname and I'm not calling you Jazzy. I just won't."
Jasper burst out laughing. "I appreciate that darlin'. I've always hated that nickname, but everyone else still uses it." He continued to chuckle for a few more seconds. "You really want to be friends with me?"
"Of course I do. Look, I've always felt a connection to you even if I never understood it, but you also understand a part of me no one else knows. That's kind of a big deal. I trust you, and I care about you and I think you're pretty awesome, so why wouldn't I want to be your friend?"
"Thank you, Bella and I think you're pretty awesome too."
I felt my face heat up and Jasper started to laugh. I snuggled closer into him and relaxed some more. I was so glad I had opened up to Jasper. I had only meant it to help him, but it seems it helped us both.