A/N: It's -counts- roughly six hours until our world is rocked again by fabulous writing from a fabulous writer about fabulous people, to which I can only say, "Squee!" This is a bit of fluff for Alice and Jasper (my next favorite couple after Edward and Bella) that's been rolling around in my head set before New Moon.
It was fun to write, to show how love turns even hard, scary Jasper into a pile of mush, just like the rest of us.
Be sure to drop down a review and let me know how I did; it IS the first story I've posted. Have fun, reading (both this and Breaking Dawn).
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the sandbox, but she's nice enough to share the sand.
Looking in the mirror was not an activity I partook in.
I could probably count on one hand the number of instances I had really spent more than a few scant seconds in the bathroom mirror. Had I deviated from my program, perchance I would have found myself more amenable to the image of my half-naked body. Then again, I thought fingering the jagged scar that ran up my left side (a gift from Maria's cohorts), familiarity breeds contempt.
And I held nothing but contempt for the battle scars all too familiar to that life that seemed like eons ago.
Familiar, too, were my attempts to hide the fact that even among vampires, and even among vampires with gifts, I was a freak. Much to my wife's chagrin, I owned nothing but sweaters and shirts with long sleeves. Even Edward had made mention of my monotonous wardrobe.
"It's too conspicuous. The humidity alone keeps the humans in t-shirts and shorts all summer," he had said, frowning at the green cashmere.
Conspicuous be damned, I thought now, seeing the hideous marks as if for the first time. The network of blemishes that(even by our standards) stood as pale beacons started at my neck and down my arms, my torso, and my legs. No one should have to endure looking at them.
Which brought me to what had induced me to my point-blank stand-off with my reflection.
Alice, like me, had been feeling the effects of the passion that simmered around my brother and his girlfriend in an opulent haze the previous night. And if I had…enhanced that emotion in the night as we clung to one another, I had heard no complaint from her.
Afterward, the genteel code instilled in me at birth and lying far from dormant within me had propelled me to cover her still quivering body with the only available thing at the time (as we had long since rolled onto the floor): my shirt, which lay on the carpet, wrinkled in the onslaught.
Sometime in the early morning, after Alice had dressed hastily and rushed downstairs to try her hand at breakfast for Bella, I lay in bed with only my trousers. And as I heard Bella beginning to wake, I sat up, ready (if not willing) to start another day in high school.
I crossed the room to the closet I shared with my wife—shared being used loosely here, as her wardrobe encompassed ninety-seven percent of the space. And in doing so, I had to walk directly before the large looking glass Esme had given Alice as one of our wedding gifts.
And so, here I stood, vaguely disgusted in the reminiscence that my body brought and wondering why I could not seem to move away from my reflection.
"Jazzy?" Alice voiced, poking her head just inside the door. When she saw me standing where I was, she smiled. "I love that mirror, too."
And, irrationally, because Alice had seen me far less clothed than my current state, I wanted to hide. In the harshness of the morning sun creeping through the blinds, my scars glowed even brighter than my skin so that I was merely a backdrop to the map of lines and cuts that peppered my body. Suddenl realization had my mind working quickly over the number of times we had made love in during the day, without the cover of night to mask my shame. "I need to dress," I grumbled, feeling foolish and wishing desperately that I had never taken that look in the mirror.
Ignorant bliss or not, I did not want Alice seeing me like this, when all it was doing was reminding me of the impure life I had led before she had rescued me.
Alice must have felt my anxiety, for she asked, "What's wrong, Jazz?"
"Nothing," I bit off. "I just have to get dressed for school."
My voice was harsher than I intended. Alice's face fell, contorting with hurt and I felt even angrier at myself for ever having put that expression on her lively visage. "We have plenty of time before school. I always have time for you."
The soft-spoken, humble words undid me. I could not control the words that tumbled from my lips. "Mary Alice…it does not concern you."
I realized my gaffe at the same time as she. A lifetime ago, I had attempted to detach myself from her with the same words, insistent that we not marry for fear that she would grow to resent and then hate me for not being able to be what she needed.
I knew if she could have wept, she would have. "I have no secrets from you." A deeper disappointment radiated from her and nearly crumpled me with its strength. "Why won't you just tell me what's bothering you?" she whispered.
I could almost hear my mothers—Esme and my birth mother—screeching at me for raising my voice at a lady. "Me!" I burst out. "I'm what's bothering me, so there is nothing you can do, Alice. Please."
But she pressed on as if she hadn't heard the latter part of my outburst. Confusion now dominated the sadness. "You? I don't understand."
Frustrated beyond belief, I flung my arms out wide, welcoming the sun's rays. "Have a look, then," I demanded.
More confusion. "What am I looking for?"
"These!" I fairly shouted the word, probing my skin roughly at the various marks. "These things that remind me of what I have done and convince me that I am not worthy to even stay in this house. Not worthy of these people, and," I panted, turning away from her. "Not worthy of you."
Silence. And Alice's shock was so great that for several seconds, I could not even read what she was feeling.
"You think…" Her voice wavered so that she had to start again. "You think that they repulse me?"
Correct the first time. "You said it, not me," I said.
She sank onto the floor, sighing. There was more agitation now than hurt, but I still felt its cold remains. "Idiot," she muttered. "You think that scars from a lifetime ago change the way I feel about you? How I have felt about you since before we even met?"
"Admit it," I said boldly, whirling back around.
Uncertainty. Damn it, about what? "Well…" And my heart sank to my feet. "Not the scars, no. But… there are certain physical attributes that I do have trouble with…"
Dear Lord. I had not even begun to think that there were other things about me that Alice disliked. The scars, yes. Perfectly fine when I myself detested them so greatly. But to think that there were—how had she worded it—"certain physical attributes that she had trouble with"…I had been correct. She had endured my imperfections for years, and by the look on her face, I could tell they were many.
Why had I put her through? A heart as pure and loving as Alice's should never have to suffer what she so obviously had in whatever I, her husband, lacked. "What?" I said so low I'm surprised she heard me.
"What attributes trouble you?" I had to know. To know whether these were things I could somehow rectify and really, truly be worthy of Alice.
"Jasper, do you really want to know?" She stood from the floor, walking towards me with an unfamiliar glint in her eye. "I don't want to hurt your feelings."
I had to sit. I did so on the edge of the bed we had shared, where I had probably disgusted her many a time with the attributes she had been uncomfortable disclosing until this point. "Yes," I heard myself say.
Alice eyed me speculatively, concealing her emotions. "Your chin," she blurted.
It was then when she finally let me see the true magnitude of what she was feeling that I realized the mischievousness in her countenance. Softly, tenderness exuding from her in tiny waves, she murmured, "Let me show you." And then she was above me, pressing me into the mattress with practiced expertise. She slithered up my torso until she was at eye-level with the offending part.
"It's just so…terrible." She robbed me of speech by setting her teeth just there. "Horrid," she whispered, peppering kisses up and down my jaw line. "The weak chin…and this… It just disgusts me." She licked daintily at the junction of my jaw and my neck and, feeling me shudder beneath her, began stroking in earnest with lithe whips of her tongue.
How could I have ever doubted her? The apology was already on my tongue. "Alice…"
"That reminds me." Alice abandoned my neck, gliding upward to my cheek. "This mouth." She took my bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled. "It never stops talking. I can hardly get a word in edgewise." Then a speculative gleam came into her eyes. "But maybe…just this once, I can shut you up."
Her lips toyed with mine, making me reach up, searching for the real kiss. And when it came, I lost all control of my body. Alice pressed her lips against my mouth with bruising force. I had heard of humans seeing stars behind their eyes after a kiss. I did not see stars.
I saw fireworks.
"More," she gasped. She plundered, holding me firmly to her and delighting my tongue into a dance with her own. We remained interlocked like that, her dominating and me boneless, for an immeasurable moment.
Then she wrenched herself away, muttering, "Abhorrent. Absolutely abhorrent." She paused, breathing just as hard as I, before saying, "I'm sorry, Jasper. But there's more."
Sweet Jesus. Would I survive this?
"On your stomach now," she commanded breathily. Dazed and disoriented, I could not process the words. Alice giggled quietly. "Roll over, Jasper."
Just as the sensuous feeling of her murmuring my name threatened to overwhelm me entirely, I froze. My back was the one place I knew the scars ran so close to one another—awful, raised scars that not even my body's healing system had been able to fade—that one could hardly see the skin beneath.
"Alice," I gasped.
She frowned. "You don't want me to answer your question?" But she didn't give me the opportunity to respond, flipping me with her deceivingly tiny body before I could think.
I held my breath, waiting for her to comment in horror. Never, I knew, in fifty-seven years of marriage had I exposed myself as I did now. I had been so careful not to show Alice my back, where I had fallen prey to many an unsportsmanlike attack in my first years in Maria's army.
The tiny hands I so adored began at my shoulders, hesitantly and with a kind of awe emanating from their mistress. Alice massaged the tension I was feeling away slowly, her voice catching when she finally spoke. "This…it doesn't in the slightest show strength or power. No, it deserves no respect from me at being able to carry the weight of the world. I—" She faltered and pressed her lips in the very center.
"Yes?" I was desperate for her words.
"I do not in any way adore you for being able to overcome what has given this." She was shaking above me. "Jasper, you can roll over now." It took several moments, but her voice was calmer and took on the seductive timbre once more, "I'm not nearly finished with your front."
She attacked my collarbone next, sucking on it so gently I almost believed I had imagined it. Alice took my shoulders in her small hands, squeezing and massaging affectionately. I almost drew away to hide the plethora of scars criss-crossing the items in question. Alice surveyed them with an emotion I could not name. Then she swiped at each individual mark with her tongue and blew cold air.
I shivered. "Scrawny shoulders," she was saying with her mouth still close enough to the sinew that I could feel every word. "And I hate this one most of all."
Alice walked her fingers across the planes of my chest, turning the muscle into nothing at all with the lightest caress. "It's such a shame that I don't get any pleasure at all seeing you shirtless. Maybe because of this…" She was touching the area so close to my nipple that my muscles jumped in anticipation. "Saggy and sad. But it's to be expected as we age, I suppose."
"I need to touch you." Was that voice mine? It was so gravelly and hoarse. "Alice, I need to put my hands on you."
She leaned back until the only thing I could feel was the scratchy material of her jeans at my waist. "I don't believe that I was part of the bargain," she said solemnly. "You asked a question of me, and now I'm answering." And with that, she lowered herself down my body, imprinting the words deep inside me as her mouth did wicked things. "So keep your hands to yourself, Jazzy."
She dipped her tongue slowly into my navel and nearly made me come off the bed. "Alice," I choked. "Alice, please…"
My begging was ignored. Alice continued her painstaking torture, though I could see a slight tremble in her hands no as she tickled the little hairs that began below my navel and disappeared under the seam of my trousers. Panting a little, she murmured, "This does not excite me in the slightest."
The lust burning inside of her fell over me not once, but over and over again until I had to clench my fists to keep from touching her.
"And then," Alice breathed against the muscles on my left side, skimming her lips lower and…oh, sweet Lord, even lower… "There's these awful love handles…"
"Love handles," I parroted blearily.
"Yes." She lifted her head to nod—I could see her expression aching to smile now that she had found a sore point. "Oh, I can hardly stand to look at you because of them."
"Love handles," I repeated.
She sighed heavily, dancing off me so quickly I didn't have even a second to clasp her back to me. "Jasper," she said holding a hand to her heart. "It really does pain me to say this, but we are what we are, sweetheart."
Her brilliant grin set my soul on fire and I found myself stalking across the room to close the distance between us.
"I do love you, though." Those words made me desire her more than anything she had done all morning. And it was nothing but the simple truth I felt from her for the first time all morning. And love. So much love, it made me dizzy. No, I did not deserve her for too many reasons to even think about. But I would spend the rest of eternity trying to be good enough for Mary Alice Brandon Whitlock Cullen. "Even with your love handles," she finished.
"I'll show you love handles," I growled. I saw only her, smelt, tasted only her. And heard only her chiming laughter when I pounced and pinned her—all but flinging her love at me through the endless golden depths of her eyes—to the bed.
We were very, very late for school that morning.
A/N: -whispers- I won't ruin the moment by blathering, except to say, "Please review!" Oh, and Megan, did I do okay with the fluff?