Lost and Found @missethompson
Savagery

After the conversation at the rocks Jasper wasn't so stand offish. Sometimes he would sit and watch, sometimes he would make conversation, but he didn't hide in the trees anymore. In some ways I was glad that Jasper was starting to come out of his shell after the picture that Peter had painted for me of the dark place that Jasper had been in before his and Charlotte's escape, in others I was agitated. While he was no longer trapped in his own mind, he was starting to ask questions like Peter and Charlotte. Questions I didn't want to deal with. Peter, Charlotte and Jasper despite the savagery they claimed to have lived in, still clung to their human traits. Like the desire to connect to others on a deeper level then what was offered in passing.

They wanted friendship and though they didn't speak so plainly, they wanted family. Despite their desires and their attempts to bring us closer, I wasn't completely comfortable with our ongoing companionship. Charlotte seemed to look to me like a mother or an older sister, something I didn't want and definitely couldn't provide. She wanted comfort and advice, things I couldn't give whether the situation be vampire or human given my experiences or lack thereof in either case. Peter wanted a leader, someone to show him the way, someone to look to when he didn't know what to do, another thing I couldn't do, his alternative was Jasper who was as much a stranger to the life of freedom as he was. The only thing I had accomplished during my life had been hiding and even that had been shattered when Peter and Charlotte came crashing into my life. There was nothing I could provide them other than my patience with their company.

As for Jasper I wasn't sure what he wanted from me quite yet. He didn't need a mother and he wasn't looking for someone to lead him. I could see Jasper's mind was always calculating, his eyes always observing and probably taking in things that I wouldn't even understand. Even when he spoke, every word was thought out and spoke with intent, a serious expression never leaving his face. I'd never liked puzzles and this was no exception.

I seemed to be spending more time than usual at the rock face, using my own human distraction to distance myself from the younger trio. I seemed to be caught in a near constant struggle between being content and aggravated. Contented with the better understanding I had of vampire behavior and of what exactly I was, but aggravated at the price this knowledge was costing me. The rock face seemed to be the only way I could get the relief from the aggravation since Peter and Charlotte tended to leave me be when I was here. Every now and again they would seek me out here but it usually was when they had something specific they wanted to discuss with me and not to make meaningless conversation.

I sighed when I felt Jasper's presence behind me. I silently hoped that today would be one of his quiet days. I was intent on recreating the little waterfall that had once been apart of the small stream that ran nearby. I tensely waited as I studiously ignored Jasper, refusing to invite the conversation while aware that his gift clued him in to my knowledge of his presence. His gift was another thing that I silently cursed. It gave him insight into me that Peter and Charlotte lacked, allowing him knowledge of me that I had always been able to hide before.

As he sat silently for a time without a notable sign of wanting to speak I began to relax, content to continue painting while he watched since he seemed just as content in the moment. But I was wrong, he had been using his gift to assess me, aware that I was not likely to receive him well when I was tensed and preparing myself for whatever he wanted to discuss. He had simply been waiting for me to relax before speaking and shattering the illusion of control I thought I had on my emotions.

"I haven't seen that waterfall around here, is it something you saw when you were human?" He inquired softly. I ground my teeth and felt the spike in aggravation that I had been trying to avoid.

"It no longer exists." I said shortly without sparing him a glance, the tension that had left my body with continued silence returning full force as I refused to turn and face him. He remained quiet for a while longer before speaking again.

"Is this the only place you've painted?" Jasper asked and I sighed. It seemed today he was intent on speaking and I gave in to the momentary disappointment before bracing myself for whatever he truly wanted to discuss because I highly doubted his interest was only in my art.

"No. I've painted in the cave on the southern part of the forest. Of course, I was forced to stop when I filled the walls. Here the rain washes the color away and I once again have a blank canvas. In the cave there was nothing to wash away the paint and I didn't want to run out of space again. I've painted this rock face hundreds of times." I said and heard Jasper's faint hum. This wasn't like our usual interactions. This was neither merely enjoying my silent company while observing my work nor was it idle conversation and curiosity. I could feel his eyes analyzing me, assessing how whatever he had on his mind was going to be received. His study of me was setting me on edge and I wanted it to stop immediately.

"Is there something you need?" I asked pointedly, caving to the aggravation but continued to refuse facing him as I set to finishing the details of the surrounding scenery that had once bordered the water.

"I'm still very curious about you, but I know Peter and Charlotte have inquired with few answers from you." Jasper said and I let a low growl rumble in my chest. I took my time to think as I finished the picture and cleaned the brush before setting it aside to dry and moved to face Jasper.

"Questions of my humanity?" I asked though I knew it could be of little else. My time as a vampire gave us little to discuss. Maybe with Jasper's gift I could make him understand, let him know why I wouldn't talk about it while not going into the details. I had no desire to share my pitiful story of humanity.

"Yes ma'am." He replied and I hummed my discontent with the topic and with the use of ma'am.

"What do you remember of being human, Jasper?" I asked and he seemed surprised. It took him a moment but he followed the change in the course of conversation.

"I remember the ranch my father owned. Brief memories of the time spent caring for the horses we bred and raised. I remember snippets of my parents. My mother used to play the violin and at night my father would read passages from the bible aloud to my brother, sisters and I. I can't remember my siblings' names, just vaguely remember the four of us playing in the fields when we were just youngins. The memories bring a bitter sweet feeling." He paused, thinking for a moment before continuing.

"I have a couple clear memories toward the end of my human life. I remember the looks on my parents faces when I told them I had enlisted with the Confederacy. My mother's tears and my father's pride though I knew he feared for me as much as my mother did. Several memories of battle, the screaming of men, the boom and smoke of the canons and rifle fire, the blood that bathed the ground. My strongest memories is of my final hours, I was helping to evacuate Galveston and stopped to offer aid when I came across three woman walking unaccompanied. One of those woman was Maria, she's the one that sired me." Jasper's eyes were almost glazed as he focused on his memories and I hummed as he finished speaking, his eyes refocusing on me with the sound.

"Sounds like your human life was one you were proud of." I stated and Jasper nodded.

"Despite my indifference and aggravation to the topic of humanity, I do not begrudge you, Charlotte or Peter, your human memories or the peace and happiness that those memories bring you. I simply do not share the same emotions when forced to recollect the life I lived before my rebirth. I often find myself wishing that I did not remember my human life." I tried to keep my voice even, to prevent emotions from reflecting in my words and Jasper's face pinched as he actively tried to understand.

"My upbringing was not joyous, there were no loving parents to shower me in affection, no siblings to share my time. I was a child of deceit, a move on my mother's chess board for power, my father did not claim me and as long as he did as my mother bid then she would continue to hide his transgression. Even with her power over my father she did not get everything she wanted and therefore when I became of age I was once again a pawn in her game of power though this time in the market of currency. If I wished to continued to live with a roof over my head and food in my stomach I had to be or do whatever she demanded of me. I lived a life of invisible shackles, invisible because they were not physical, but shackles all the same as they bound me. Everyone knew it, though they did nothing to help." I paused and noted the deep frown on Jasper's face. I was being intentionally vague and I'm sure this had not been what he had been expecting when he'd broached the topic.

"I've heard the three of you speak of your introduction to this new life. I agree that it was less than ideal, but I disagree that you lived to the degree of savagery that you claim. You all still cling to the remnants of your humanity, grasp those hazy memories like a dying man to life. Maria may have bent you but she did not break you the way you three seem to believe. There are so many things that I can think of that she could have done to truly turn you into a savage, one of which would have been denying Peter's companionship, by having you execute him like she had initially planned. Though she was far from kind she wasn't as cruel as she could have been, probably because she hasn't succumbed to the savagery that she believes she has. Her greed is just as human as clinging to your fond human memories." Jasper looked thoughtful though he didn't seem to completely agree with my assessment and probably never would.

"Unlike you I think of my rebirth into this world as a gift. The fire in my veins burned away the human weakness that had shackled me for so long. It gave me the power to break free and to take control from those that had broken and used me. When I awoke, I was alone and in complete darkness. My movements breaking the walls that surrounded me triggered the instinct to escape. It was only when I pulled myself free that I realized that the room that had surrounded me had been a coffin and I had been buried, left to succumb to my fate alone six feet under." A look of horror flashed across Jasper's face and I hated the pity I saw in his eyes.

"Unlike you, my sire did not stick around. I have no inkling what they looked like, why they chose to change me, of why they left me to fend for myself, but I've never felt resentment toward them, only gratitude. Having a sire would have likely deprived me of my revenge. In my waking hour I massacred my father first, then the occupants of the saloon, then the soiled doves that huddled together in the rooms above, and finally my mother. I reveled in the terror I brought her, the terror I could finally repay if only as a fraction of what she had inflicted on me. When the killing was done, I took great joy in burning it all to the ground, in watching everything my mother had spent her life building for herself turn to ash with her inside. As the remaining town folk attempted to fight the fire I fled to the trees and found my way here where I have contented myself ever since." I smiled indulgently at the story, the crystal clear memory of the terror that shook my mother to her core and the flames that burnt so bright as they purified that bastardized little town.

I looked to Jasper watching his expressions as he seemed to debate how to feel. I knew he desired to react as the human he had once been, to feel the horror that came with learning of a massacre, of lives lost for petty revenge, of listening to my confession with the stark absence of any semblance of remorse. But there was the other side, the vampire side of him that agreed with what I had done, the need for blood and violence, of taking revenge from those that had wronged you and refusing to regret anything because the horrid acts had not been done to innocents. An eye for an eye. A misdeed for a greater misdeed. He struggled to reconcile these two sides of himself and I understood, I likely would have reacted similarly should I have heard the same story when I was human.

"I don't expect you to understand quite yet, there are some things you would just have to experience for yourself to understand completely. But just know, I would do it again. Whether it be it for myself or for you, Peter or Charlotte. Savagery can have perks if you allow them. Savagery can set you free." I smiled and stepped further away from Jasper before running off further into the trees once again in search for the solace that I had come to love and associated with this place I had found and made my own so long ago. It was probably strange that it took ripping my life apart to find my happiness among the pieces but like I had said to Jasper, I held no remorse for what I had done and I would do it again without hesitation.

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