"Invisible?' I asked incredulously.
"Impossible!" I said and jumped down from the branch to the ground below. If he was going to speak of such ridiculousness I did not want to be in his presence.
"No, Abilene, stop!" He called but I didn't bother to listen.
"Please, Abilene, I can prove it!" He called and I stopped, turning quickly and bringing the two of us nose to nose.
"How would you be able to prove to me, that I turn invisible?" I spat at the lunacy of such a task.
"Easily. Come with me." Jasper grabbed my hand and pulled me with him to the pond he chose as his place of solace when he wanted some time alone. He pointed into the water where I could see myself and Jasper in the water.
"Right now, you're visible and you can see yourself in the water. Now do what you did when you were hiding from the three of us. Whatever you thought or felt, do it again." He said and I looked to him in disbelief.
"I hid high in the tree Jasper, that's all I did." I said and shook my head at the nonsense he was trying to make me believe.
"Just try, try it for a moment, just so you can see for yourself." He plead and I scowled but did as he asked. I pictured myself pressed flush against the trunk of a tall tree, making myself one with the tree as I pictured myself sinking into it and disappearing where no one would be able to find or disturb me.
"Look at the water." Jasper said after a moment. I looked down and gasped in surprise as I only saw Jasper in the water, he was looking toward the space where I knew I was standing but I couldn't see myself.
"Stop it, stop it, make it stop!" I cried moving away from the water and Jasper looked a little panicked as he looked around, but his eyes once again moving past me without seeing me.
"Abilene, listen to me. Whatever you were thinking or feeling before, do the opposite." He instructed and I quickly thought of myself escaping the tree, pushing away. I sighed in relief as Jasper's eyes finally focused on me and he quickly wrapped his arms around me, pulling me tight against his chest. He didn't let go till the last of the panic faded.
"How long have I been able to do that?' I asked, moving closer to the water and once again seeing myself. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time.
"The whole time we've known you." Jasper said and I looked to him questioningly.
"And none of you said anything before now?" I asked angrily and Jasper raised his hands in surrender.
"We assumed you knew. You've always made it a point of telling us so little about yourself, we concluded this was just one of the things you didn't want to talk about." He said and I shook my head.
"I didn't want to talk about being human. I always answered your questions about my life here afterwards, I told you everything I knew!" I yelled and within moments Peter and Charlotte appeared through the trees.
"What's going on?" Peter asked as he looked between Jasper and I.
"Abilene didn't know about her gift." Jasper stated, his eyes never leaving me as he spoke. Both Peter and Charlotte looked surprised.
"You didn't know?" Charlotte asked and I looked to her with a glare. Peter quickly pulled her behind him, shielding her from me as he had that first meeting.
"I believe that would mean no, Char." He said softly.
"You think that if I knew about this 'gift' that you would have seen me that night you showed up here?" I asked angrily and Charlotte looked hurt for a split second before she hid it.
"No, they wouldn't have and in return you would be slowly starving yourself to madness alone in this forest. So, maybe it's a good thing you didn't know about your gift." Jasper snapped and I returned my focus to him. The strangest sensation started in my chest as I glared at him and he glared down at me. I focused my thoughts as I had before and watched as my reflection disappeared from his eyes. Before he could register what I was doing I took off running through the trees. I knew it was a reasonable assumption that they would follow and diverted to the stream and ran through the water before coming to the lake in the eastern portion of the forest and diving deep. There was an underground stream that got its water from the lake and when I found it I swam through it till it opened up and I climbed out of the water and onto the stone floor of the deepest part of my cave filled with art.
The paintings in this portion of the cave were the newest, having been where I was forced to stop when I ran out of room and moved to the rock face. The walls held a colorful scene of fish and other water life that I had experienced in and around the lake. It was peaceful here, the only noise the lapping of the water against stone. I closed my eyes and let myself just be, not thinking, not feeling. Slowly the sensation in my chest released and I felt like I could breathe again.
The sensation had been nothing like I'd felt before and I knew I never wanted to feel it again. There was a train of thought that told me that the trio was probably looking for me and that it was unfair to hide from them. It wasn't their fault that I didn't know I disappeared when I didn't want to be seen. I knew it was cruel, but I couldn't bring myself to care at the moment. I needed the solitude that I had been lacking in the last several years, I need the time of isolation to get myself under control. It was times like this that I missed the years before Peter and Charlotte showed up, I never had to hide from my emotions before and I wasn't fond of the experience.
I'm not sure how long it was before I let myself focus on the things that were going on beyond the cave. The thickness of the rock walls was a buffer, I couldn't hear much and what I could hear was near the entrance of the cave. When I stood my clothes were almost dry. I gently wrung some of the water of the skirt before making my way toward the entrance. Stopping a couple paces from the mouth of the cave I listened intently. I didn't think I could handle interacting with the trio just yet, I wasn't going to return to my hiding place but neither was I going to actively seek them out.
I couldn't make out anyone calling my name or the sound of bodies racing through the trees so I took that as they were just as content to leave me be for a while longer and headed in the direction of my rock face. I was almost there was I caught a fresh scent. I stopped and took it in, identifying it as Jasper's scent. I debated going in another direction before squashing it. This was my home long before they knew it existed, I refused to run. I continued to the rock face and merely ignored Jasper's presence laid over one of the boulders as I gathered my paints and decided what I wanted to decorate the rock with this time.
Jasper didn't say anything as I started painting and as the sun started to dip he merely shifted to a sitting position on the rock that he seemed to favor when he chose to join me here. I tried to block his presence from my mind but I seemed to be acutely aware of him. I had been painting for hours and the sun had sunk beyond the horizon when he finally spoke. I heard him shift again before the sound of his inhale to warn me though I didn't turn, not sure if I wanted to engage in this conversation or not.
"I knew you'd come back here eventually." Jasper stated and I remained silent. Jasper let his words hang in the air for a long moment before he sighed.
"Are you going to act like I'm not here?" Jasper asked and I could hear the frustration in his voice.
"What do you want me to say?" I inquired without looking back at him.
"Do you see us the same way you see the humans from your past?" Jasper asked and I paused in my actions, slowly turning to look at Jasper. He stood rigidly several paces away, his arms crossed over his chest, his jaw clenched as he looked back at me determinedly.
"No. Why would you think that?" Unexpectedly grateful that Jasper could feel the genuineness of my confusion.
"Why else would you continue to lash out at us? Having heard your story I understand you far better then I did before, but I do not understand why you would act out against us when we've done nothing to provoke it. The only conclusion I can draw is that you think of us the same as the humans that hurt you, that you are trying to gain retribution for their actions through us." He said harshly and I shook my head.
"That is far from the truth! You are nothing like the humans I knew!" I cried and Jasper threw his arms out in frustration as he stormed closer.
"Then why wound us with your words?" He demanded.
"I was merely speaking the truth! Before I came to know Peter and Charlotte, my only pleasant interactions with another being had been Jonah! You now know how that turned out. He was used to bring me even more misery! Do you truly think ill of me for speaking the truth? Blame me for knowing myself? For knowing that if I had been aware of my ability that I would have hid and waited for them to move on?" The awful sensation was back in my chest and I could feel the pinch behind my eyes that meant I would have been crying if I had still been able.
"No, what I blame you for is speaking them in such a way that it sounds as if you resent our presence. For choosing to lash out at us, for inflicting the pain you were feeling upon us when it was not deserved." Jasper's voice was harsh as he glared down at me.
"That was not my intention!"
"Never the less, that's what happened and when you were forced to feel the very emotion you inflicted, you choose to run." He spat angrily and I realized then why he had waited for me here. Here I walked right into his trap, here he was able to prevent me from running again as he choose to inflict the pain again.
"So this is your revenge?" Anger bubbled in my chest, festering from the fresh lashing of pain.
"Very well." I said hollowly and tilted my head to the side before moving my hair out of the way.
"What are you doing?" Jasper asked sharply and I glared back at him.
"I've seen you and Peter fight. You always go for the neck. Go ahead, take your pound of flesh. You've made me aware that I was neither meant for humanity nor for vampirism. Do us all a favor and put us out of our collective misery." I shut my eyes, tilting my head more and waited for the pain that I was expecting would finally end it all.
Instead of the pain that I had been expecting I felt Jasper step away, I couldn't bring myself to open my eyes or ask why. The anger that had fester disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. Without the anger to hold me up I collapsed to the ground and let out the first sobs since I was human. I was once again being denied the mercy that death had been sure to bring and the pain in my chest only grew as I clutched my arms around myself.
I was startled when I felt arms wrap around me, pulling my close. My eyes snapped open to see Jasper's contrite face just before he brought me closer, pressing my face to his chest. I didn't understand the emotions this unlocked but before I knew what I was doing my own arms were around him and I was sobbing into his chest. His hand began to comb through my hair and he hummed a melody that I had never heard. We sat there entangled for a time till the sobs stopped and I once again had the energy to pull away.
"Despite our anger with you, we do not hate you, Abilene. And, we most certainly do not wish you dead." Jasper spoke softly though I could not bring myself to look at him quite yet to judge his sincerity.
"Abilene, please look at me." Jasper said and waited as it took me a moment to collect the courage to do so.
"You told me that it took you a long time to bring yourself to care about Peter and Charlotte. Though I believe that merely caring for them is how it began, it is not enough to describe what you feel for them now. Whether you can admit it to yourself or not, you love them and you may not believe it but we love you in return. You've hidden in savagery for too long, it's time to understand the human that still remains buried inside you." Jasper's dark gaze held steady with my as he spoke calmly. The conflict was already waging in my mind before he finished speaking but before I could speak Jasper was moving, pulling me up with him as he stood.
"But before we do that, we need to feed." Jasper left no room for argument as his hand clasped mine, when caught between running with or being dragged along my instinctively started moving with him. Though I wasn't happy to be leaving the refuge of my forest, for once I couldn't bring myself to fight it. If this, going hunting for prey, really meant so much to the three of them, then I felt that at least today I owed it to them to go along.