Author: socact PM
On their last day of college, tragedy strikes four friends. Will Bella find the strength to forgive? For the Love of Jasper Contest entry. Won 1st place in Judges contest. AH, Rated M for mature themes.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Hurt/Comfort - Jasper & Bella - Chapters: 14 - Words: 57,174 - Reviews: 689 - Favs: 426 - Follows: 191 - Updated: 05-20-10 - Published: 09-02-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5350504
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A/N: Hi everyone, I'm back with an outtake for Forgiven, as requested by ElleCC. She was generous enough to bid on an outtake in the original FGB auction, and here it is, finally!
As for the outtake, it takes place a few months after Bella's speech, and quite a while before the final chapter in Seattle. This is NOT an epilogue. Rated M for the usual.
Thank you as always for reading!
Disclaimer: Twilight is not mine.
"Bella, this is lame," Emmett frowned, lifting an eyebrow at the pink slosh in my cup. "Who made this for you?"
"He's too easy on you."
I smiled—not an easy feat under Emmett's withering gaze. "He knows me."
"He's pussy-whipped is what he is," Emmett grumbled, but there was a smirk in his voice. He left his empty beer on the table and headed for the back porch, where everyone was congregating despite the rain.
I leaned back in my chair, relishing a few seconds of quiet. It wasn't that crowds bothered me so much anymore; I just preferred it, sometimes, to indulge in a little bit of solitude. Or maybe I was just kidding myself. Maybe this was an escape, a means to avoid the inevitable.
Jasper had spared only a few details about his birthday party last year, maybe because he didn't remember, or maybe because it didn't matter. We both remembered the afternoon that followed, and all that it signified. And yet here I was, feeling once again like the very fragile foundation of my existence was slipping out from under me.
I whirled around, surprised and then relieved to see Rosalie's familiar face. Pregnancy suited her, as we all guessed it would. She had taken maternity wear to a whole new level.
"Oh, hey," I said, managing a smile. "What's up?"
She paused a second, clearly questioning the fake expression on my face. "Are you okay?"
I nodded, but my eyes dropped to my cup and it was clear I was lying—to myself, to her, to anyone who attempted to cheer me up. She sat down beside me, removing the cup from my hands as I continued to stare at the floor.
"He'll stay, you know," she said, her voice uncharacteristically soft, as close to an embrace as words could be.
"He has to go," I said, shaking my head. "Just because I'm not ready to face the real world doesn't mean he has to give it up, too."
"He doesn't want to go without you—"
"Yeah, well, people don't stay together forever, as we all know," I snapped, regretting the words as soon as they left my throat. Rosalie said nothing, her arm wrapping around my shoulders as my eyes burned and my chest tightened and my whole stupid, meaningless existence continued to unravel.
"He isn't leaving you," she said. "That isn't what this is about."
"I know," I sighed, choking on useless tears. "I know that, and that's why I told him to go."
"Seattle isn't even that far, Bella. He can drive back every weekend—"
"No, no driving…" I mumbled.
I looked up, acknowledging the comfort in her eyes as well as the gentle rebuke in her voice. I knew I deserved it. I couldn't feel sorry for myself forever.
"I want him to go, but I don't want him to go," I said. "Does that make sense?"
"Of course it does. It makes perfect sense."
"What if he forgets about me?"
"Uh…" she said, narrowing her eyes as if to say, yeah, that was a ridiculously inane comment that did not warrant an answer.
"Okay, fine, he won't forget about me," I said, and I couldn't help but smile at the look on her face. "But he'll be busy working, living in a big city, meeting new people, and I'll be here…"
"Here with Rosalie and Emmett, that lame-ass couple—"
"Shut up," I smiled, rolling my eyes. "I just feel like things will be…unbalanced."
"Then go with him."
It sounded so simple, that idea, that concept, those four simple words that had the power to solve everything. Jasper had asked me to come, had begged me, had tried to push me without breaking me down. He understood my limits better than anyone, and for some reason that only the depths of my being could explain, I wasn't ready.
"I can't," I whispered. "I just can't."
It was after two by the time the party broke up, leaving just the four of us on the back porch, surrounded by empty cups and distant voices and a lush, humid night. I could taste the end of summer, could hear it in the echo of the trees. No one ever thought of fall as the beginning of something. It was the end. Always the end. And on this night more than any other, I hated to see the summer go.
"Another epic party, as usual," Jasper said, breaking my silent reverie. Emmett just nodded, savoring the calm that followed the chaos. His attitude toward life was different than most; I could see that now, could even feel it in his presence. Maybe to him, every day was something extra. And if you lived like that, how could you ever be afraid of anything?
"What time are you heading out tomorrow?" Rosalie asked, her eyes drifting from Jasper to me. I breathed deeply, hoping for the hundredth time that night that Jasper hadn't noticed how upset I really was.
"Around lunch time," he said, glancing over at me. I dropped my gaze to my hands, taking comfort in the frayed sleeves of my sweatshirt and the opportunity for fidgeting it provided.
"You driving up?" Emmett asked.
Jasper took a short, shallow breath, but I didn't dare move or look up. We had talked about this countless times. And of course I'd never given him an answer, had never agreed to the one favor he'd ever asked of me.
"Maybe," he said, giving me an out I didn't deserve. "Not sure yet."
"Well how the hell are you going to get all your shit to Seattle?" Emmett asked, ignoring all the subtle clues of a touchy subject.
"Um—" Jasper stuttered.
"I'm going to drive him," I said, looking up to meet the cool, crystal blue of Jasper's eyes. I could see the surprise there, the skepticism, and finally, the faint glimmer of excitement.
"Oh," Emmett said, missing the silent exchange. But Rosalie caught it; a little smile had fallen on her lips, and for the first time all night, I felt almost hopeful.
"Well, then," Rosalie said, as she rose to her feet with a grace that I'd never possess, pregnant or not. "You two should get going with such a big drive ahead of you."
"Big drive?" Emmett thundered. "It's only three hours—"
"Maybe they need to prepare…" Rosalie countered, as my face flushed.
"Oh," Emmett smirked. "Well in that case, I'll finish this keg myself."
Jasper stood up and I followed, anxious to spare ourselves any more innuendos. Rosalie knew the details of our sexual relationship—or lack thereof, but Emmett liked to assume things. I knew he and Jasper were close, but I had no clue what guys talked about when it came to…that. A few key points? Minute details? Vivid anecdotes? I had no idea and honestly didn't want to know.
"Ready, Bella?" Jasper asked, his tone laced with the hint of nerves. I nodded and followed his lead, hugging our friends before walking down the steps and across the yard.
"Did you have a good birthday?" I asked, once we were out of earshot of the house.
"Of course," he said. "You were there this year."
I smiled at that, my whole body warming at the compliment. But then, it wasn't really a compliment. It was just a statement, a fact, a simple expression of feeling that meant everything to me because if Jasper said it, then he meant every word.
"I hardly got to talk to you, though," I said, glancing down once again at my feet. They sank in the mud, filling the night with the squish-squish of my footsteps.
"Yeah," he said. "What was up with that?"
"Well, you had to entertain your guests," I said, which was sort of a joke, and sort of true. I didn't want to mention the actual reason, which was that I'd been moping around in a corner for most of the night.
"Ah," he said, playing along. "Yeah, I guess that's the reason."
"Plus I wasn't the best of party-goers."
He stopped walking, and for a few seconds, the silence just festered there between us, begging the question of what we were and how things were changing and when we were actually going to talk about it. We had talked about it, of course. Many times. But only for a few tortured, angst-ridden minutes, until one of us changed the subject and settled for a few more days of false complacency.
"Bella, you know I'd stay—"
"And you know you have to go. This is what you've worked so hard for, Jasper. It's a great job in an amazing city doing something you love. You have no reason to stay."
"That isn't true," he said, his gaze burning into mine, his words clear and soft and defiant. He took a step forward and traced his fingers along my arm, from my elbow to my wrist to the bend of my fingers, which he held in his own. I tried to take a breath, but it caught and stalled and for a few seconds I wasn't breathing at all, because I needed him and wanted him and already missed him.
"I don't want you to go, Jasper," I finally managed to say, after what felt like hours.
"Why didn't you ever say it, Bella?" he asked, his voice quiet, almost broken. "Since the graduation, I just feel like you've been pushing me away, like there's this distance…"
"I know," I whispered. "I created it because I couldn't stand to see you go."
"Come with me."
"Jasper, I can't…I want to but I can't."
I turned away from him, stumbling on the mud as I made my way up to the road. He quickly caught up to me, his strides long and lean, so unlike my clumsy gait. When he took my hand again, I didn't protest. I just gave in to him, to us, to friends and maybe more, if only I knew how to let him in.
We walked the few blocks in a silence that wasn't quite easy, and it wasn't quite tense. I could see that the lights were off as my house came into view, which was a major step for Charlie. He trusted Jasper—trusted him more than anyone, which I think meant more to Jasper than he'd ever admit.
"I meant what I said about tomorrow," I said, as we made our way up my gravel driveway. "I want to drive you."
"Bella, it's a long drive, and moving sucks—"
"Are you turning me down?"
He smiled, but there was a sadness behind it, because he had asked me this question so many times before, and so many times had I turned him down.
"No," he said. "I would love it if you came."
"Well, I'll do better than come," I teased. "I'll be your chauffeur."
"Okay," he laughed. "Deal."
I looked down at our hands, our fingers intertwined, the heat from his palm seeping into mine. I looked up again because I didn't want to lose him, I didn't want to think about anything but all that the last year had brought us.
"I'll come by at ten," I said. "I'll bring breakfast."
He nodded once, his gaze falling to his mud-streaked shoes as his hand fell from mine. I noticed it immediately, the absence of comfort and warmth and intimacy. I wanted to kiss him then, to invite him in, to show him that the last thing I wanted was distance.
But instead I did nothing. Just watched him go, his hands in his pockets and his head down. These days, I tried not to cry. It was a sign of weakness, a meaningless waste of energy.
That night, I didn't care.
"Ooh, muffins," Jane squealed, her eyes lighting up like firecrackers. She swiped them from my hands, leaving me there at the front door while Jasper clamored down the stairs to rescue me.
"Jesus, Jane," he muttered, glaring at her as she inhaled one of the six blueberry muffins I'd brought for breakfast.
"It's okay," I said, dismissing her with a wave. "That's why I made six."
"Yeah, but they're too good to waste on her," he said, smirking at me as I stepped inside. Jasper and his sister had a kind of tempestuous relationship, to say the least. And I had to admit I wasn't a huge fan of Jane's. The day she found out I was dating Edward, well, shit hit the fan.
"You ready to go?" he asked. "I finished packing up early."
"Oh, um…sure. Are your parents here? I should say hello."
"Nah, they left last night, some conference in New York. I'll tell them you said hi."
"Okay," I said. While I respected Jasper's parents, I sometimes wondered what the hell they were thinking. If I ever left home, I knew Charlie would be there to say good-bye to me a hundred times over, and for that I was grateful.
Jasper went to retrieve the muffins, while I went out to the garage and tried to reacquaint myself with his car. He could drive, of course. But he didn't drive on highways anymore, and it would take us all day to get to Seattle if we took back roads. So in a way, I really was doing him a favor.
I climbed inside, adjusting the seat so my feet could actually reach the pedals. Every inch of the back seat and trunk was loaded with stuff, but he'd kept the rearview clear so I could see.
Just as I was about to turn on the ignition and fiddle with the radio, the passenger door open and Jasper's huge dog—named Gimp, because he had a bad leg—threw himself over the console and into my lap.
"Gimp!" Jasper yelled, while the dog continued to slather my face with kisses. "Get the fuck out of there!"
"It's okay," I laughed, as Gimp settled in for the long drive.
"Gimp, you can't come," Jasper scolded, and the dog reluctantly crawled out of the car while Jasper climbed in.
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I mean, if you were leaving me with Jane, I'd probably feel the same…"
He smiled, shaking his head as Gimp howled on the steps.
"Ah, fuck it," he said, opening the door wide. And with Gimp resting happily in Jasper's lap, we drove out of Forks and into the unknown.
I had only been to Seattle a handful of times in my twenty-four years, and it didn't look at all familiar when we got there. Jasper was renting a room in a three-bedroom place, and I realized as soon as I met his roommates that I didn't like the idea. Tanya was tall, blonde, and ridiculously gorgeous, and Laurent was quite possibly the best-dressed, most cosmopolitan young professional I'd ever met. These perfect beings did not jive with my idea of a typical craigslister.
Even so, I did my best not to show my discontent. It was cheaper to live with roommates, and more practical, and whatever, whatever, whatever. I just wished they were ugly and boring.
"Your roommates seem nice," I mumbled, which made Jasper smile. He knew me too well.
"Yeah," he said. "Although Tanya seems a little…"
He laughed, which must have made my face turn even redder than usual. "I was going to say talkative, but I guess vain works."
"Ugh," I groaned. "Well, at least she has a boyfriend."
"What do you mean?"
I froze, realizing too late what I'd implied. I really had made a mess of things, not to mention the fact that I was woefully transparent.
"Nothing," I mumbled, and even though he could have pushed it, could have gotten me to admit the fact that I hated the thought of him living with someone so attractive, he didn't.
"Do you want to get dinner?" he asked, while the blush on my cheeks faded and my racing heart slowed. "We could scope out the city a bit."
"I'd love that, I just…I don't want to take the bus back too late."
"Oh," he said. "Well, I mean, you don't have work tomorrow, right? I was thinking you could just stay, you know, for the night…so you don't have to go home in the dark."
I swallowed hard, searching for some kind of response and finding none. There were, of course, no romantic undertones to his request; it had been months since we'd gone there. But the fact that there weren't made me realize how badly I'd ruined things.
"I don't want to impose…" I said.
"Bella, this is my apartment, too. My roommates will understand."
I sighed, finding my answer in his warm blue eyes.
Tanya and Laurent, as it turned out, were both headed out for the night. I didn't understand people who went out seven nights a week, but apparently they existed. And I was grateful, because my time with Jasper was limited, and I didn't want to share it with anyone else.
"So, Bella," Jasper said, as we finished off the last of the muffins. "When does kindergarten start up again?"
I shrugged. "A couple of weeks, I think."
"You're not excited about it?"
"I am," I said, but my mind was elsewhere. I could only think of him here, working, doing something I might have done if I weren't so stunted in so many ways.
"Well, I mean, I don't think I want to do it forever."
"What about grad school?"
"I don't know," I mumbled, although I thought about it often enough. It always brought mixed feelings, because it reminded me of a different future, one that I had planned and imagined with someone else. It didn't seem fair that I should pursue something Edward had also wanted, no matter how illogical it sounded.
"Can you get your spot back?" he asked.
I nodded, recalling my last conversation with the dean. I could always defer, year after year after year, but eventually, as we both knew, I'd just give it up for good.
"Well, good," he said. "I rather liked the idea of calling you Dr. Swan."
"Only in academic circles," I said, smiling at the smirk on his lips. "That's the rule, for Ph.D.'s."
"Well screw the rules, a doctorate's a doctorate. I'd just call you Dr. Swan all the time, even when it's just the two of us, playing checkers or something."
He laughed, swiping the remnants of a muffin from my hands. "You're too slow," he explained. "Can't just savor these things, you know."
"You don't savor my cooking?" I asked, feigning hurt. I took a step closer, reaching for the food he had swiped.
"Hey, now," he said, holding it away from me while I grasped wildly for it. He had a solid six inches on me, which made it impossible for me to get very far in the quest for muffin victory.
"You're mean," I huffed, stamping my feet as I walked down the hall. I let myself into the last door, his room, which brought back memories of the last time I'd been in his bedroom. It felt so long ago now; it felt, more than anything, like we had wasted these last few months.
I could hear Jasper's footsteps as he followed me down the hall, but it was Gimp who rushed in first. He almost mowed me over, and I couldn't help but laugh as he tried to lick my face. I pushed him gently away, smelling something freaky on his breath. And I didn't want to smell…freaky.
"Gimp!" Jasper yelled, and the dog reluctantly obeyed, jumping off me and onto the floor. "Are you okay, Bella? I don't know what the hell's wrong with him sometimes—"
"I'm fine," I said, still laughing. Jasper joined me on the bed, his lovely, mussed blonde hair falling over his eyes.
"It's late," he said. "I know I wore you out today."
"You didn't wear me out."
His eyebrow went up, a little smile tugging at his lips. "This coming from the girl that goes to bed at 9 pm?"
"I'm not tired," I protested, although my eyelids were drooping. And since I was lying on a bed, I didn't want to just suddenly pass out.
"Yes you are," he said, his voice soft, almost liquid, and if he wanted to keep me awake, this wasn't the best way to do it.
"I don't want to sleep…I don't want to waste all that time…"
"Time sleeping is time well-spent, Bella."
"You know what I mean," I said, and I knew he did. I knew because his eyes were dark, and haunted, and unbearably sad, and my heart broke all over again.
"I'll take the bus home every weekend," he murmured, his fingers finding their way to my hair as my eyes closed, and his voice filled the silence. "And when I'm here, I'll think of you and miss you and count the hours until I can see you again."
"I'll be ready someday, Jasper…I'll move here…I promise you…"
"I'll wait, Bella. You know I will."
I opened my eyes to see his face as he lay beside me, his eyes soft and trusting, his frame so young and strong. I could picture him even now, standing by the phone in his house, waiting for me to answer once, just once, just so he could hear my voice. I remembered sitting at the kitchen table every day at noon, listening to the phone ring, begging my father to answer it even when he had a hundred other things to do. So many times I almost picked up, so many times I almost ran to his house in a pouring rain to tell him how badly I needed him back in my life. But I wasn't ready then. I wasn't ready and Jasper understood, like only the truest, closest friend ever could, that I needed more time.
"Why, Jasper?" I asked. "Why have you been so patient with me?"
He took a deep breath, his knuckles tracing the blush on my cheeks that rose with his touch.
"I love you, Bella," he whispered. "I think I've loved you for a very long time."
"I know what you had with Edward was special," he said, shushing me with his fingertips. "And in some ways, maybe I'm intimidated by that…like I'm not sure I can ever live up to him, or be to you what he always was—"
"You think I don't feel the same?" I asked, grasping his hand and pulling it towards me. "You and Alice, I always admired you, always saw how perfect you were for each other…but we're different people, Jasper. We're different individuals, and we're different together."
"Which means, yes, I loved Edward, but I love you, too."
"As a friend."
"For years, yes. But it's different now."
I let go of his hand, my fingers finding the curve of his jaw as I kissed him softly, sweetly, and it felt as natural and right as it always had, as if our bodies simply remembered what to do. Within seconds he was hovering over me, our kisses no longer soft but desperate and deep, his lips parting as I tasted the heat of his mouth, tinged with blueberries.
I had only ever been with one man, but it didn't scare me to be with someone else, it didn't feel wrong or unjust or unwarranted. My body craved it, my skin tingling with his touch, my breasts responding to the slow pass of his fingers. And I could feel, with a very welcome heat between my legs, how ready for him I was.
We said nothing for a while, my quiet gasps filling the room as he lifted my shirt above my head. His shirt quickly followed, and soon there were shirts and shoes and pants hanging on boxes, discarded and forgotten. But he hesitated as I grasped the buckle of his belt, his eyes meeting mine for just a second, just long enough for his expression to tell me everything.
"I want you, Jasper," I whispered, pulling him down to me. I kissed his mouth, his jaw, my lips grazing his ear so he could hear my voice. "Don't make me wait any longer."
"Come to Seattle," he breathed, his mouth hot and wet on my shoulder, his fingers unclasping my bra as he made his way down.
"Soon," I gasped, his hands like fire on my skin as I tried to form coherent words.
"Christmas," I breathed. "I promise you."
"I'll wait forever," he said, a trace of a smile touching his lips as I yanked at the belt and let it fall to the floor.
"Forever?" I asked, as my fingers worked the buttons on his jeans until I had enough room to reach inside and take him in my hand. He was clearly just as ready as I was, and a fluttering of nerves and desire rose in my chest.
"Fuck," he growled, never protesting as I removed his pants and boxers in one fell swoop. I continued to stroke him, remembering all at once the power I had to tease the opposite sex.
"Forever?" I asked again.
"Are we still talking about the same thing here?" he rasped, smirking as he swatted me away, reaching for the only article of clothing I had left.
He teased me for a while, grazing my clit with the lightest of touches. And then he pressed harder, and went faster, and then his fingers were inside me and I wasn't thinking or breathing or asking questions, I was just coming for the first time in over a year. And it must've taken me a solid five minutes to recover from it, because I was still catching my breath when I took him in my hand again, eliciting a deep groan from the back of his throat.
I ran my fingers up and down his length, pausing at the tip, somehow remembering after all this time what guys liked and wanted and couldn't get enough of. But I liked it, too, this absolute control over his own pleasure, the knowledge of what I could do to him and he to me.
"I'm going to come in your hand, Bella, if you don't stop that right now," he groaned, and I could feel him now, so hard against me, teasing the one place I wanted him most.
"I want you…" I gasped, leaning into him as he sat up, his hands coursing down my sides. "…to come…"
He grasped my hips, pulling me toward him as he pushed into me, slowly, carefully, knowing that I hadn't done this in a very long time, and never wanting to hurt me. But I was well beyond the point of pain, or discomfort, or patience. I wanted him hard and fast and deep, and so he answered, burying himself inside of me in one smooth stroke. I arched back and still he pulled me closer, falling into a rhythm that left me gasping his name. His fingers brought me to the edge, holding me there, until I could taste his words on my lips.
"Come where?" he asked, and although I was delirious with impending relief, I could almost hear the smirk in his voice.
"Inside me…" I said. "Jasper… yes…please…"
He found his release just seconds after I did, breathing my name as he came right where I'd asked him to. Within seconds Gimp was on top of us, panting in our faces, and Jasper was yelling and I was laughing and Gimp was banished to the foot of the bed.
"Gimp likes to cuddle," I remarked, which was enough to make Jasper smile. He lay beside me, his arm resting on my abdomen, his fingers twisting the damp curls of my hair.
"Do you?" he asked, and I could tell he was serious, could tell he really wanted to know.
"I like being close to you," I said.
"How about spooning?"
I opened my mouth to respond, but I could see now he was teasing. His lips had curled up in a mischievous smirk, and then he was grinning as a furious blush colored my skin.
"Well, for the record, I love spooning," I said, trying my best to sound serious.
"All right then," he said. "I shall take that into consideration."
I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder as Gimp watched Jasper with a jealous glint in his eye. Yes, Gimp definitely liked to cuddle. I wondered if this would be a problem in the future.
I sincerely hoped so.
"Yeah?" he asked, brushing the hair from my face so he could kiss my forehead. I tried not to think about tomorrow. I tried not to think about anything but right now, which happened because we were ready, because the world sometimes surprised you, because sometimes people came into your life for just a few years, and sometimes they stayed forever.
"I'd wait for you, too," I said. "If you needed me to."
"You don't have to," he said, his voice quiet now, coaxing me to sleep. "You already have me."
To those of you who endured twelve chapters of angst and made it all the way to this outtake, I hope you found the journey worthwhile.
Thank you as always for reading.