It was Bella's birthday, supposed to be a joyous time in the Cullen household, but instead, the silence rang too loud for any of the inhabitants to withstand. The party had been taking place in the living room, but only six of the seven Cullens were still in the room.

Bella was sitting among the six, glaring holes into one of her fingertips, upon which lay a Band-aid. She was leaning into Edward, his arms holding her tightly, as if he believed one of his other family members would hurt her. He was glaring at the cut as well, but for different reasons. It was fifteen minutes since the offending cut had been made, fifteen minutes since the strongest action of that day, fifteen minutes had the silence rung out. And finally, Bella could not take the noiselessness any longer. She curled her cut hand into a fist and embraced Edward behind her, burying her face in his chest.

"I'm sorry, it's my fault." She murmured into him, and he couldn't believe what he had heard.

She was apologizing to him? Why should she be apologizing to him? If anyone should be apologizing, it was his bastard of a brother, for almost attacking her. It's not her fault that that idiot has never had any self control. Apparently, fifty years of all that work has done nothing, I shouldn't have ever let him near Bella.

Of course, he didn't express how furious he was at Jasper, as that would only make his Bella feel worse. "It's not your fault, love. You know, maybe it'd be best if you went home for awhile." As much as he didn't want to send Bella home, he knew she'd probably want to cool down, and get the attention off of her.

Bella nodded quietly, and left for the door. It wasn't until he could hear the faint rumble of her car driving away that Edward stood, the eyes of his family following him, and climbed the stairs to the bedrooms at vampire speed, passing his bedroom and continuing to Alice and Jasper's.

Jasper was in his bed, where Emmett had pushed him twenty minutes before. Sobbing.

The last time Jasper had "cried" was… twenty years ago, after he and Alice had fought. And that was nothing compared to this.

He hated himself. No, that was an understatement. He wished he'd never been changed. He wished there were no such thing as vampires, he'd never met the Cullens, he'd never met the horrid women who'd changed him. He had hoped that after he had self control, Bella wouldn't be a problem. Blood wouldn't affect him. He could be almost normal. Almost. But one thing would be most important: He wouldn't have to hurt people.

Jasper clutched the pillow to his face and wished he could be normal. He wanted to cry, but he could only give out tearless sobs.

How could he give into his hunger? All that practice with Carlisle had done nothing. He was taking longer than any of the others had by a long shot. Why was it impossible for him to stay calm?

He almost overlooked the anger and rage when it entered the room, because it was almost equal to his own. But he turned to Edward as his brother entered.

"Are you happy now?" Edward asked through gritted teeth. Jasper couldn't bare to look at him, let alone feel the anger directed at himself.

"I'm sorry." He whispered faintly.

"I'm glad." Edward replied. "All that work with Carlisle, fifty years, and this is what's come of it!" Edward, reading Jasper's mind, knew how much these words hurt his brother, and was glad of it. He had been hesitant of letting Bella near their newest vegetarian from the start, but this event had crossed the line. "I hate you."

Jasper, who was sitting up now, looked over his shoulder at Edward after hearing this, but when their eyes made contact, he looked down, ashamed. "I know." He replied shakily.

Edward, who had been standing in the doorway, walked over to Jasper, who was looking away from him. He grabbed Jasper's chin, forcing the younger brother to look at him. "Stay away from Bella."

Jasper nodded, and with that, Edward (pushing through his flabbergasted family watching from the doorway) left the room, and his brother, behind.

When Edward had left to… speak with Jasper, Alice had bit her lip to restrain herself from making him stop. She'd seen a vision of what would happen after this little talk, and didn't want to let anything happen, but she knew Edward wouldn't stop. She told the rest of her family to wait a few minutes after Edward left, then they could go up the stairs. When that time came, Alice ran faster than the rest.

"Stay away from Bella." Edward said, and Alice stepped through the door, Carlisle only a step behind her. Those two were the most worried, but Esme, Emmett, and Rosalie weren't far behind.

Jasper nodded to Edward, who then pushed through his family to barge out the door.

Alice almost gasped when she saw Jasper. He looked… he looked about to shut down. His head was in his pillow, and he was lying down again. Alice rushed over to him, embracing him. "Oh, Jasper!" He looked up to her, but didn't hug her back as she pulled him back up to stand.

Then, Alice, Carlisle, and Esme each found room to hug him, and he asked a question that had been gnawing on his mind. He turned to Carlisle.

"Why is it so hard for me?" He was not smiling, and the question was small and almost inaudible.

Carlisle looked at Jasper, and if he could cry, he would be. Although he wasn't the father of any of the children surrounding him, he sure felt it. He'd known them for enough time, at least, to be considered their father. He looked upon his son and smiled.

"It doesn't matter." Carlisle said, "What does, though, is that as long as you keep working, it won't be hard anymore."

Jasper took his "father's" words into consideration, but didn't believe them. "But all of the work, I ended it. It's like having to start all over again!"

Alice answered this question. She grinned. "Well, Jazz, when you have all eternity…" She kissed him on the cheek. "Starting over doesn't seem too bad."

... A few months later, after everyone is reuntited after New Moon, everyone had just returned home…

Jasper was sitting on the couch when Bella and Edward came through the garage, and he realized something. He hadn't talked at all to Bella since before the… birthday incident.

It seemed as though Bella realized this too, when she walked over to Jasper, almost timidly, receiving a confused glance from Edward.

"Hey… Jasper." Jasper looked up to her, feigning ignorance as to why she was acting so restrained. "I… I haven't talked to you since… you know."

Bella wanted to kick herself. That was a stupid thing to say, miss "state the obvious"!

But Jasper quickly spoke, "About that…" he started, a sideways glance at Edward. "I'm sorry… I just… lost control. It was my fault."

"I know, I forgive you." Bella said, not even having to think about it.

That was the last thing Jasper had expected her to say, and he came to the conclusion that she was either really insane, or very kind. (he hoped for the latter)

Bella knew how hard the event had been on him, and said, "Well, that's in the past."

Jasper was gracious for her acceptance. "Yea. Let's start over."