Jasper's Interlude

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Before I met Alice, I don't think I knew a moment of peace.

As a human, I was brought up to be a confederate army captain during the civil war. My parents had been proud, both southern socialites who made their wealth off the backs of slaves, so proud their son was protecting their livelihood. I could hardly stomach it. I tried to make up for their sins, helping free the people they hurt. No one would question if a confederate captain was leading a group of slaves away, even if it was in the opposite direction to where they were supposed to be going. And if the enemy suddenly knew some of our plans during battle, then that was a coincidence too.

I'd avoided the actual battlefield for as long as possible, I couldn't stomach the idea of being near so much suffering. I didn't know it at the time, but I've been an empath all my life. My entire life I've been able to feel other people's emotions. Their pain, fear, suffering.

So when my father put me in this position, I knew I'd be able to help people. Even if it meant overthrowing everything my parents stood for. It was no secret my position was for prestige, hardly any socialites went to the battlefield, so I was not worried too much. All of my attention was focused on the tasks I was given by the Union, and making "supply runs".

But eventually, the confederacy began to lose. Which meant that every available soldier would fight in the front lines.

I ran away.

I don't remember exactly how much time I spent on the run, but eventually I was on Mexican soil. Dehydrated and exhausted, I was sure I had died. I could feel burning all over my skin, and many voices demanding I get up. I was sure I'd gone to hell, that my actions had not made up for my family's sins. To this day, I'm not entirely sure I was wrong. Because nothing could have prepared me for what came when I awoke.

I remember Maria, she changed me, she wanted territory. And she wanted an army to get it. An army of newborns, and she wanted me to get them for her. I'd refused at first, but she was far stronger than I was. So I gave in eventually, if only to make the pain stop.

I don't remember much after that, Carlisle says it's normal to have gaps in your memories during your first years. They're often based on instinct alone, and the days blur together, so he says. But I'm not sure that's the case with me. I remember voices, so many voices. I don't know who they belong to, or if they were the ones who gave me all my scars, but I don't want to remember. I don't want to know.

I remember escaping, if vaguely, with Peter and Charlotte. Two other newborns from Maria's army, and perhaps the only good thing to come from the whole ordeal. They were mates you see, though none of us knew the word at the time. We only knew that Peter and Charlotte loved each other so much that they wanted better for each other. So they risked everything to escape Maria.

I spent almost a decade with them while I got my bearings, but eventually I left on my own.

I couldn't stand being around people, I could feel their emotions, which only made it worse whenever I had to feed. I spent decades like that, alone, wandering from place to place, only focusing on my next meal. Trying to ignore the fear I felt every time I fed.

And then, it was 1948.

"Hi, I'm Alice!" I had to look down to see her. She was almost two feet shorter than me, her hair short and pointing in all directions, giving her a dark halo around her face. Large round eyes with ruby red irises looking up at me like she expected me to be here. Which she did.

But at the moment, none of that mattered.

Because I had finally understood Peter and Charlotte.

Before I could introduce myself she had already grabbed my hand and led me to dinner. We sat there for hours, she told me who she was, how she found me. I just listened to her talk, watching her excitement, and finally felt calm. That was the first time I felt everything stop, for just a moment. Like I didn't have to be afraid, I didn't have to look over my shoulder or worry about what came next. Because Alice knew.

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