A/N: I know, another long delay. But I'm almost finished with the next chapter, so it shouldn't be as long. Thanks for all the reviews, and a special thanks to my long-suffering beta reader, The Sound and the Fury, who had to beta this chapter twice after I created rather large plot hole.
"You can't do that." The voice wasn't very loud, but it woke me up anyway. Fuck, again? "No, you aren't supposed to. Because that's what the court said. You can't do that."
I groaned and flopped a hand over the edge of the bed to try and pat his back. Sometimes I could cut him off right there and he would behave for the rest of the night. Otherwise he was next to impossible to settle.
But my hand passed through empty air. Shit, if he was already up and sleepwalking, I was in for it. He never hits or anything when he sleepwalks, but he's stubborn and doesn't always go back to bed when you want him to. Sometimes I follow him around for a while, just to see what he's up to. Usually it's nothing. He just walks around a little, and talks to himself, and then either lies down or comes back to bed. I always try to get him back to bed, because he'll just flop over in the hallway or the bathtub, and I'm always afraid someone will step on him in the morning. Or, worse, he'll get a peek at my girl naked.
I love the guy, but not enough to share Rose with him, even if it's only his eyes that touch her.
With a heavy sigh, I sat up and got ready to do a little midnight Jasper-chasing. I swear the guy has no idea what I go through for him on a regular basis.
Then again, when I think about everything Jasper has had to go through on a regular basis, getting up once a night doesn't seem so bad. Even when—Oh, sweet! Jasper hadn't even stood up yet. He was just balanced on his knees, talking to the wall. I leaned over and grabbed his shoulder. "Bedtime, Bro."
You have to say it just right with Jasper, or he gets all stubborn on you. I must have sounded way too demanding, because his head jerked around and looked straight at me. Except it wasn't really at me, more like through me, like I was some sort of ghost. It's kind of creepy, but I'm used to it by now. Plus, the way Jasper looks at you sometimes when he's awake is creepy, too.
"You're not the boss, either." He sounded like a kid when he said that, which was good. He needed to sound like a kid sometimes.
Also? This was great. Sometimes you could have a whole conversation with him when he was like this, and who would have thought that Jasper could be funny? "Who is the boss, then?"
"Carlisle. He's the boss and we listen to him." Then he gave me a quick grin, only I think the smile was more for himself, just aimed in my direction. "Just on the outside, though, never on the inside."
It would be funny, except it wasn't. It would have been funny if it were Alice, or Rosie, or even Edward. Someone who I knew didn't mean it and was just being playful.
But it's not funny with Jasper. He had just flat out told me that the only reason he listened to Carlisle was because he knew he had to. Not because he loved him, not because he trusted him, not even because he really respected him, just because he knew he had to. What did he think would happen if he didn't?
I knew the answer to that, of course. Beatings, getting burned, being thrown out of the house, even death. I wanted to tell him that it wasn't like that here, but I knew that he wouldn't believe me even if I did. I knew because I'd already tried it like a million times.
The worst part was, I almost had him believing me. Even though all of this bad shit had happened to him, Jasper was still hopeful that, this time, it would be better. He'd been here long enough to see almost all of us acting like bitches and spoiled brats, and to see that nothing much happens to us.
Then the trial came and Dad had to go and act like a huge asshole and undo all of my hard work. The worst part is, I'm still not really sure what happened. Everyone thinks that they know, but everyone knows something different. If you believe Rose, Carlisle all but mauled Jasper up in that study. I tell her that I do believe her, but I really don't. She'll always blame Carlisle, because he's the adult man. Whether it's really his fault or not, she always makes it like it is.
Edward, on the other hand, blames Jasper for getting out of control and freaking out. But he has the opposite problem. He never blames Carlisle, because he's a total Daddy's boy and he can never admit that Carlisle can do anything wrong.
Mom doesn't say anything except that it's a matter between Jasper and Dad, and that it's been resolved, so quit asking me about it, Emmett. She doesn't pretend that it didn't happen, but she won't tell us anything, either.
Don't get me wrong, I love my mom. Way, way more than I love my first mom, who was kind of a selfish bitch. I still love her, because I came out of her, and I think she did try to take care of me. I just don't think she knew how to do it, and she wasn't willing to learn. But as much as I love Esme, sometimes she has no idea what she's talking about. If things had been resolved, I wouldn't have to get up with Jasper every single night.
Dad doesn't say jack shit about what happened, but he feels terrible, whatever it was. That's how I know that Edward's wrong, and it was partly Dad's fault. See, I might look stupid, but I can put the clues together when I feel like it.
Alice isn't sure who to blame, or even if she should be blaming anyone. Of everyone, she's the one I agree with the most. Jasper hates it when people get too close to him, and Dad can be a little in your face without meaning to. And once things start, Jasper doesn't know how to tell someone to back off. He thinks he just has to take it, which is what he does. Except he can only take it for so long, and he ends up freaking out. I've been working on him standing up for himself, but it's really hard to teach a guy to do something in just a few months when he's been taught not to for his entire life.
Speaking of Jasper, he had just climbed to his feet. "Hey, Jas, don't do that." I tried not to sound so bossy, hoping that I wouldn't have to get up.
"Why? I'm hungry and I want some eggs." He sat down and went back to staring through me.
Yeah, because I was really going to let him sleepwalk his way down to the kitchen and play with a hot stove. But if I said that, he would get huffy and storm down there anyway. So I tried a different tack. "I'll make us some omelets, no problem. But why don't we talk first?"
"Sure. Do you know you have a giant bird on your shoulder? I think it's an emu." He reached out and made a swishing motion. "You know that thing will crap on you if you don't get it off."
See what I mean about him being funny? I brushed the air about four inches above my left shoulder. "Did I get it?"
He gawked at me. "It's on your other shoulder, Emmett." His tone suggested that he didn't think I was very bright.
At least he knew who I was. I'd been called everything for Peter to Aiden to Shelby when he got like this. I brushed my other shoulder. "How's that?"
His glassy eyes tracked something down to the floor. "I don't want it to peck me."
This was the first time an emu had made an appearance in our nighttime chats, and I was having trouble keeping from cracking up. I grabbed my pillow and swung it through the empty space a few times. "Go on! Go on, you evil emu!" I looked over at Jasper, who was watching me with a goofy smile. "Is he gone?"
"He's gone. Maybe he'll peck Carlisle." Then suddenly he was laughing hysterically, doubled over on the floor. "Peck! Peck! Peck, peck, peck!"
Even though he was being kind of mean, I had to laugh, too. Jasper doesn't laugh very often, and he never laughs like this when he's awake. Alice can make him laugh, at least most of the time, but it's always just a chuckle or two. This was a full out belly laugh. And it was kind of contagious. It would be really fun if Jasper laughed more often.
When I finished, I realized that he had gotten really quiet. I leaned over the side of my bed and, sure enough, he was passed back out on the floor. That was the weird part about his sleepwalking and sleeptalking episodes. He could be talking to you one second, and right back to sleep the next. But I'm a big believer in looking on the bright side, and at least I didn't have to get up with him tonight. "Night, dude."
The next morning was Saturday, which usually meant we all got to sleep in. But today we were going across the border so we could go camping. It was later than we usually went, but we'd had to go through all of this bullshit with Social Services before we could take Jasper across state lines. Usually a foster kid's biological parents can tell us we can't do it, but Jasper didn't have any. That should have made it easy, right? All we should have to do was tell Social Services where we were taking him, just in case, and off we'd go.
Of course it wasn't that easy. First they dragged their feet until we missed the first date. Then they didn't want him to go because they were concerned he would have a seizure and be several hours away from medical care. Apparently it doesn't matter that Jasper's meds work really well, and that he doesn't need to be taken to the hospital after his seizures, and that, oh yeah, Dad's a doctor! If it were me in charge, I would have told them that Jasper wouldn't have seizures if they had been paying attention and hadn't let his old foster mom bash his head in.
Dad kept trying, but no one wanted to let Jasper go with us. They kept telling us to send him to respite, which is kind of like babysitting for foster kids. The problem was, most foster parents won't take teenage boys, especially ones with medical problems. The only home that was willing to do it was three hours in the other direction.
Plus, how was Jasper supposed to feel like he was part of the family if we dumped him off somewhere any time the rest of us got to do anything fun? That's just mean.
Finally, Dad went all the way up to the top guy, and reminded him that not only had he taken Jasper when no one else would, but that he was a very important man in the community and did a lot for the foster system without any compensation. Wouldn't it be tragic if family circumstances forced him to stop doing that?
They changed their tune really quickly after that, and now Jasper was allowed to come, which was going to be cool. He'd never camped before, and had only spent a few nights outside. Mostly those were nights that Maria put him out of the house for some reason, but that was just between me and him.
Mom came in and woke us up at the buttcrack of dawn, which is always the worst part of the trips. Everyone's stumbling around and everyone's cranky and even though we always decide who's driving and where everyone's going to sit in the car the night before, no one remembers or likes their assigned spot. Today it was supposed to be Dad driving the SUV with me, Rose, Jasper, and Alice. We'd also have the three tents. Then Mom, Bella, and Edward were taking the little car and the rest of our gear.
Jasper and I were side by side at the bathroom sink, both brushing our teeth, when the first argument broke out. His balance is still a little off first thing in the morning, so he was leaning against me, his hip and shoulder touching mine. At Edward's raised voice he startled and spun, nearly falling over. I grabbed him by the shirt, which meant I smeared toothpaste all down the side of his arm. He glared at me, but craned his neck to see what was going on.
Today's episode of Cullen vs. Cullen was the result of Edward wanting to ride with Dad, because the SUV had a better sound system. I was hoping that Dad would tell him no way, because I didn't want to spend the next seven hours listening to classical shit.
By the time we had both spat and rinsed our mouths, Rosie was shouting that she would gladly trade places so she could ride with Esme. Jasper perked up. "Me, too. I'll trade!"
Lucky he didn't say it very loud, because that wasn't going to happen. We had specifically arranged it so Jasper would have to spend time with Dad. Well, not with with him, but at least in the same car. That way they had to be close, but Jasper would still feel totally safe, since there was no way for Dad to try and touch him. It was a little thing, but we had to start over with them. Rose wanted to trade with Edward because she didn't really want to be with Dad either, but that's normal.
It didn't take long for it to all get worked out. And by that I mean Dad told Edward that spots had been decided the night before and we weren't changing things now.
I nudged Jasper. "Grab your little bag."
We were in the car and ready to go by 5:12, which had to be some kind of record. Dad did a quick double check that we had all packed our little things, like toothbrushes and medication and deodorant (Geez, forget it one trip and the family never lets you forget it again), and we took off.
Rose was riding shotgun and acting as the navigator. I was in the far backseat, sneaking the Doritos that I had hidden under the seat the night before. Jasper and Alice had the middle seat, which meant I had a pretty good view of what they were doing.
And just so we're clear, I'm not one of those creepy guys who stares at other couples and jerks off or something. It's just that Jasper's my boy and all, but he has the social skills of a monkey. Alice doesn't always know the difference, and most of the time I don't think she cares when she does notice, but I usually try to head off his social problems at the pass.
Too bad there wasn't much to see today. Jasper had his head on Alice's shoulder, and, judging by the soft snoring, he had gone back to sleep. Lucky dude.
Since there was nothing else for me to look at, I kept watching them and thinking. Alice ran her fingers through Jasper's hair and down his neck, over and over again. It was kind of hypnotizing.
It was also kind of weird. Alice doesn't touch men, except for Dad. She doesn't even really like touching Edward or me very often, especially since we're not kids any more, and we've been siblings for, like . . . always. Well, it feels like always, but it's really only six years for me and eight for Edward.
But she touches Jasper. Light, gentle touches, rubbing his back or stroking his hair, but she touches him all the same. And let me tell you, she's wanting to touch a whole lot more than his back.
No one else in the family wants to think about it, but it's true. Alice is seventeen years old, for God's sake! When I was seventeen . . . well, when I was seventeen I had already been sleeping with Rosalie for a year, but that's not the point. The point was that I wanted to have sex, bad. So does she.
Yeah, I noticed. And, yeah, it's super gross to think about your sister wanting to have sex, but not thinking about it doesn't make it not true. I've seen the way she looks at Jasper when she doesn't think he can see her. She totally checks out his chest and ass. She sometimes also puts her hand under his shirt when she rubs his back. I know that those are tiny little things, but considering that this was Alice and Jasper, those things are pretty huge.
It was probably time I had another man-to-man talk with Jasper about sex. I don't think he knows much, and he'd die before he'd ask Dad anything. He could try asking Edward, but I think he and the Last American Virgin are going to have a tough time without some outside help. Just saying.
Actually, I might be able to nail two birds with one stone this weekend. By the way? Pun definitely intended. Since our family was too big and way too old to all fit in one tent, we now had three. Mom and Dad slept in the tiny one, then Rose and Alice shared a larger one, and Jasper, Edward and I had the biggest one.
Edward had been desperate to invite Bella, which was a whole new can of worms. Charlie hadn't been too excited about the thought of his baby girl spending a weekend with her boyfriend and his family, whom Charlie hardly knew.
In the end, though, Dad charmed him. Dad charms everyone, except for Jasper and Rose. We were supposed to call and update him every night, and I was sure Bella had to promise her father the moon and stars, but we were officially a family of eight for this trip instead of a family of six. I would've thought that it would be weird, but it felt kind of right.
Around nine, Rosie's cell phone buzzed, which meant that Mom and Edward were ready to stop for breakfast. Sweet; my Doritos were gone and I was starving! Alice woke Jasper, who startled and looked around groggily. She giggled and tapped him on the nose. "Breakfast, silly."
He didn't exactly giggle back, but he did laugh a little. That boy was über-whipped, which meant I really needed to have that talk with him. Rose gave me a parent kiss, which is the kind you give someone when you have an audience. If we don't, Dad starts blabbing about things like 'decency' and 'lewd behavior' and it kind of kills the mood.
Once we had ordered seven buffets and all sat down to eat, Edward made a second ploy to ride with Dad. Again he got turned down, which led to a spirited debate about the quality of the sound systems in American versus foreign-made cars. Normally I would have been all about that, but I was too busy watching Jasper to contribute much.
At home, it's a fight to get Jasper to eat enough. He'll eat whatever you put on his plate, at least most of the time, but he doesn't really ever seem hungry. He just eats because that's what you do when someone puts food in front of you. He never asks for seconds, but he'll eat them if you offer.
Looking at him, you would think that he doesn't have taste buds, either. He never tells you that he doesn't like something, even when he should. It took almost three weeks for Mom to notice that Jasper had to force himself not to gag when he ate fish. Further questioning revealed that he couldn't stand fish, but didn't want to make Mom mad by refusing it. To Jasper, it was better to make himself sick then risk angering the adults in the house.
Mom reassured him that she would be glad to make extra sides on fish nights for him, and that all he had to do was tell her he strongly disliked something and it wouldn't be put on his plate, but he seemed afraid to try that out.
Today, though, when presented with as much food as he could hold, plus enough for everyone else in the restaurant, he was eating like a horse. Plenty of bacon, French toast, and even those gross scrambled eggs you always get at buffets. He might even have been eating more than me, which might be some kind of record. Good; he was scrawny as hell and an extra ten pounds wouldn't hurt him any.
Hopefully he wouldn't get carsick, though. Edward used to get nasty carsick when he was younger, and there's just something about seeing or hearing someone else hurl that always makes me want to puke, too. I'm a big guy, but I have the stomach of a little girl.
We were almost done eating when Rose leaned over and wrapped her arm around Jasper's shoulders. "Jasper? Can I ask a favor of my favorite brother?"
She made sure that she said it loud enough for Edward to hear. He glanced over at Mom and Dad, to make sure that they weren't looking, then flipped her off. From the wince that suddenly crossed his face, I'm pretty sure that she kicked the shit of out him under the table.
Luckily, Jasper didn't notice. He loves Rosie, and I mean he loves her. Not like he loves Alice, but like Rosalie's his second (or third, or fourth, or fifth. Shit, I don't know how many moms Jasper's had by now) mom or something. Way, way more than he likes Esme. I wish I knew how she won his trust like that, so things would be easier for the rest of us. He would do anything for her, so I knew he would do whatever she asked.
Sure enough, he was staring adoringly at her and nodding. "Sure."
"I've got a little bit of a headache, and I'd like to be able to lie down for a while. Do you think you could take over the navigating duties for a little while? Alice gets nauseous if she reads a map in the car, and Emmett isn't allowed to do it after he drove us three hours in the wrong direction one time."
Did she have to tell him everything? I was trying to be a cool big brother here, and she should know better than to bring up the great '06 disaster.
As much as he loved Rose, Jasper did balk a little at the thought of being put in the front seat with Dad. He visibly squirmed. "I don't know how to read a map, so I'd probably get us way more lost than Emmett did."
"Please, Jas?" She gave him her most pitiful look and he nodded. There isn't a man alive who can stand up to Rose's sad eyes.
"I guess I could learn how. I mean, it can't be that hard, right? I'll trade seats with you." He said it in a nervous rush.
That's Rose for you. Everyone else was just going to let Jasper and Dad dance around each other, but she would actually make them interact. God, I love that girl.
As it turned out, Jasper was a pretty good navigator. He notices everything, all the time, so he doesn't get all distracted like the rest of us do. Dad spoke softly, and was very careful to never reach for him, but he heaped on plenty of praise. Even though I could tell he didn't really want to, Jasper was softening a little bit towards him. Hey, everyone likes getting complimented.
Since we didn't get lost this time, we actually made it to the campsite with enough time to spare. That was awesome, because if we got the tents set up fast enough, we might have some extra time to swim before we made dinner. Wait, could Jasper swim? I could teach him if not.
Like I've said before, I'm a prince among brothers.
Of course, it didn't actually happen that way. We were each supposed to set up our own tent, which is always kind of a race between us. Rose said that it wasn't fair because there were three of us boys now and we were so much bigger and stronger than them. Like life is fair, anyway.
Except it was really just me doing all the work. Eddie's kind of useless when it comes to this stuff, and Jasper had never done anything like this before. He tried, but I was the one who got everything together.
Mom and Dad won the tent race, which meant that they didn't have to do the crappy jobs like getting firewood and digging the latrine. They decided to go for a walk together instead. Joke's on them, since if they have to be all mushy and gross, we'd rather they be anywhere but around us.
Since the girls were chicks, they got the easy jobs, like unloading the food from the car and making a fire pit. Funny how they're strong and capable women ninety-nine percent of the time, but the minute they have to do something hard, they're screaming for one of us to do it. It must rock to be a girl.
I made Edward start in on the latrine, since it was his fault we didn't get done faster. He bitched a little, but I ignored him. "Jasper, come on, we're getting the firewood."
I didn't bother to look and see if he was following me, since I was sure that he was. Jasper will go along with anything, whether it's a good idea or not.
I made sure we were far enough away from the campsite that we wouldn't be overheard before I got around to asking what I really wanted to. "So, how are things with Alice?"
He blushed and shrugged his shoulders. "Good."
I waited, but apparently that was all he was going to say. "How was your date the other night?"
"Good." This time he must have gotten that I was looking for a little more, because he tried again. "She said I was really cute and creative, and she liked everything."
Jasper had spent two weeks ago in a panic, trying to figure out what to do about a date with Alice. He didn't want to do a double date, and he didn't want me to drive them and drop them off, and he didn't want anyone's help in deciding what to do. He wanted to plan it all himself.
It's actually a good thing that he has some pride and self-confidence, even if it does drive me crazy sometimes. Not that I actually had any good suggestions for him, but I would have at least tried. In the end, though, Jasper decided he would make Alice a picnic lunch, then take her on a walk up to a little lake on the property. Rose helped him make the lunch sandwiches, and I kept everyone distracted while they were gone. Mom and Dad have suddenly figured out that Alice isn't a baby any more, and they don't exactly like her and Jasper spending a lot of time together unsupervised. I could have told them that they were too late with this one, but it never hurts to let your parents think they're the ones in charge every once in a while.
Not that I thought Jasper and Alice were having sex. It was too early and they were both too scared. But they would. Not tonight, or next week, or maybe even six months from now, but eventually. Since Jasper was only slightly less repressed than Edward, I probably still had a while, but the sex was happening, whether anyone wanted to acknowledge it or not.
And let's face it: When it comes to sex? I am the MAN! I could tell Eddie and Jasper things that would shock them so badly they wouldn't be able to look at their girlfriends for a week. Positions, toys, tricks for not getting caught—I knew them all, and I was willing to share my wealth of knowledge with my brothers, whom I loved so very much. Plus it's fun to watch Edward turn purple.
"That's great. Did you kiss her?" I wanted him to be comfortable telling me things, but we were still in the stage where I had to give him a little nudge every once in a while.
"Yeah." He smiled big enough that I could see the dimple on one side. "A bunch of times. And I, uh . . ." He trailed off and made a few embarrassed gestures with his hands. "Never mind, it's private."
Normally I would agree, but I this was all part of the beautiful dance of helping my bro out but not having to hear him get to graphic about groping my sister. Plus, I had to make sure that he wasn't pushing things. He might not know how to say no to someone, but neither does Alice. She'd let a man use her because it wouldn't occur to her that he can't do that. "You did what?"
"I, um . . . I put my hand under her shirt." He must have seen my eyes get big, because he started babbling right away. "Not on her boobs! I swear, I didn't touch her boobs. I didn't even touch her bra! Just on her stomach, I promise!"
"Easy, dude, it's okay. I'm not Dad, and I'm not going to be upset." If I didn't stop him here, he might go into a total panic attack, and I didn't want to explain that to Dad. "What did she say when you did that?"
"Nothing." His ears were so red I could have used them as road flares. "But I think she liked it. I wouldn't make her do anything that she didn't like."
Usually, Jasper's the most mature kid in the house. Way more mature than me, and probably even a little more than Rose. If Dad threw him out on his ass tomorrow, he would know how to cook for himself, and clean, and could probably figure out most of what he needed to get by. Plus, he just has this way about him that makes you want to trust him and put him in charge.
Sometimes, though, it gets smacked home just how little he actually knows about some things. He's seventeen years old, almost eighteen, and he's never been to second base. That's really, really, sad. I patted his shoulder. "It's fine. I'm sure you're doing everything right."
He gave me a tentative smile. "I don't know. Sometimes I think so, but then I think that she deserves to be treated like a princess, and I don't think I can do it."
See? This was one of those times when he needed his big brother to teach him how to handle a woman. "I wouldn't say that in front of her. If you say that, all she'll hear is that you can't treat her the way she deserves, which she'll take to mean you think she should be treated poorly. Trust me on this one, there's nothing you can say that won't make her feel like crap. She loves you, dork, and you love her back. Quit worrying about who's good enough for who."
He still didn't look convinced, so I sat down, gesturing for him to do the same. "Look, Jas, I gotta be honest with you here. We're guys, which automatically means that we aren't good enough for our ladies. You think I'm good enough for Rosie? Hell, no! Look at me: I'm twenty and still in high school! I've failed two grades, and I've been close to failing another one. I'm clumsy and I'm way too big. She's like a goddess. But if I actually told her that, she'd kick my ass. Trust me, dude, chicks have this crazy ability to see the cool parts of us that we don't know are there."
"So just let her do whatever she wants?"
I gave him a hearty thump on the back. "Now you've got it." I compared his armload of sticks to mine. "That should be enough for a first load. Let's get back and see what the girls are up to." If I played this exactly right, we would have the wood gathered and still be back before Mom and Dad. Then Rose and I could sneak off for a little walk of our own. And by 'walk,' I mean 'booty call.'
The cooler was resting in between the three tents, and the fire pit was a perfect circle when we got back. Both Alice and Rose ran over to us like we were some sort of conquering heroes returning with the day's hunt, instead of just some sticks. Bella looked around hopefully for Edward, and hung back when she didn't see him. Jasper shuffled his load and held out a flower that he had managed to pick on the way back. "This is for you."
Alice all but swooned, and Rose shot me an evil glare. I gave the glare right back to Jasper, who was totally ignoring me. Okay, after Sex Ed, we needed to have a talk about not showing your brother up. Because, dude? Weak.
Though I had to give the boy some props for romance. Especially since he was probably going to be the only one getting a chance for it tonight.
Rose leaned over and kissed Jasper on the cheek. "You are so romantic. I wish that my boyfriend was romantic like that."
And there went the booty call. Damn. But there's no point in crying over missed opportunities, so I pulled out a deck of cards instead. "Come on Jas, I'll teach you how to play Rummy."
We were two games in when Edward came back, all sweaty and gross. "Thanks for the help, you assholes."
"We got the firewood, you dug the latrine. Everyone had a job, and you had to do yours. Do you want me to deal you in next hand?"
He accepted defeat. "Sure."
By the time Mom and Dad got back, all six of us were battling it out. Jasper and Rose were working together, using some weird system of hand signals and shoulder movements. I would call it cheating, but I don't think that there's any rule against there being teams in Rummy.
We made hot dogs for dinner, and it was great. No one fussed about the mosquitoes, no one complained about the amount of calories in the hot dogs, and, best of all, no one fought. Even Rose and Edward were polite.
Afterward, we had s'mores. Can you believe that Jasper had never toasted a s'more before? Of course, that meant that we had to toast the entire bag of marshmallows, just so he could taste everything from a marshmallow that was barely browned to one that had been lit on fire and burned black. He liked the one that was dark, but not charcoaled.
The entire time we were making dinner and having dessert, Dad was explaining things to Jasper about what we were doing. The rest of us already knew about fire safety, and basic camping skills, except maybe for Bella, but we listened along. Jasper pretended that he wasn't paying any attention, but I knew that he was.
Finally, it was time to retire to our tents. Dad made sure that Jasper took his pill, and we laid out our sleeping bags. No one said anything about it, but Edward and I made sure that Jasper was in the middle. Just in case he needed anything, we would both be there.
I waited until the lights in Mom and Dad's tent went out before I sat up. I knew that my brothers were both awake by their breathing. I leaned over and poked Jasper. "Get Eddie."
He passed the poke along. "Edward, Emmett wants you."
He rolled over, all grumpy and making a pissy face. "What?"
"Sit up. You, too, Jasper. We have to have a bro talk. And keep it quiet; we don't need the girls to hear us."
They both groaned and grumbled, but they did sit up. Jasper scrubbed at his eyes and Edward propped himself up against the side of tent. "What are we having a talk about?"
I was only going to get one chance to punk them both, so I waited until they were both focused on me. Then I grinned at them. "Sex."
There was no other word in the English language that could have caused the effect that it had on them. Jasper stiffened up and froze, his eyes going so wide that I could see my reflection in them. Edward turned purple (told ya so!) and squawked, "What?"
"Sex. Intercourse. Fucking. Making the beast with two backs. Wrangling that dangle. Shagging. Hopping on the good foot and doing the bad thing. The horizontal mambo. Do I need to keep going?"
"No!" Trust Edward to recover his voice first. "Why would you want to tell us this?"
"Because the two of you need to know. Of course, I could always get Dad to give you the lecture . . ."
He gave a big prissy sniffle. "Thank you for thinking of us, but neither one of us wants to hear it. Do we, Jasper?"
"Actually, I kind of do." Jasper's fingers were sunk so deeply into Frank's fur that they were all but invisible. "I don't want Carlisle to do it."
Now that it was two against one, Edward crumbled. "This is wrong."
"No, it isn't. This is practically tradition, with the older brother passing his knowledge down to the younger brothers. Sit back, ladies, and let the master share his tricks. Now, tell me how far you've gotten. You first, Jasper."
He squirmed. "Didn't we just talk about this?"
"Well, yeah, but we were talking about just that one date, not in general. Besides, Eddie wasn't there, and he needs to know, too. This is the honestly tent, and there are no secrets here." Yeah, I watched a lot of Dr. Phil while I was suspended.
"Itouchedherbra." Jasper said it as fast as he could. "Just the bottom of it, but I felt it."
Well, he hadn't mentioned that little tidbit the first time around. I sifted through my mental files to remember the first time I had groped a girl's bra. I think I was about thirteen. "Good. See, Eddie, we're all going to share. Now tell me about you and Bella."
"Not that far. Just kissing." He looked down as he spoke.
Really, Eddie? I mean, Jasper and Alice at least had an excuse. His only excuse was that he's kind of a prude. But I was here to educate, not act like a jerk, so I nodded at him. "Good. So we're starting from the beginning with both of you. You do get the basics, right?"
"Insert penis tab 'A' into vagina slot 'B,' got it." Jasper chuckled a little to break up the tension in the tent.
See what I mean about him having a sense of humor? "All right, at least you know that much."
Edward didn't laugh. Actually he didn't even seem to be listening to us. And when Eddie-boy is silent, that usually means that he's trying to figure out how to say what he wants to. "Something you want to share?"
"I think Bella wants more. She's kind of pushing for it."
Well, duh. Bella was probably dying of repressed lust. "Do you want more?"
"Kind of." He was doing that squirming thing that meant it was more than kind of. I wish he would just talk sometimes, because he really looked like a toddler that needed to pee.
"If you want more and she wants more, how come you aren't giving her more?" Jasper's voice was quiet, but curious.
"I . . . I don't want to suck at it. She's expecting something awesome, and I have no idea what I'm doing."
Never mind what I said about Jasper being the naïve one around here. Edward was worse. "Of course you're going to suck at it! Everyone sucks at it the first time. Even I sucked at it the first time. Of course, now I'm an expert, but the first time never goes as smoothly as you want it to. Which is why I keep telling you to get it out of the way now."
"But I want to respect her. Girls don't like a guy who's pushy." He was grasping at straws and he knew it.
"Girls also don't like a guy who doesn't listen to what they want. If she wants more, and you don't want to give it to her, you have to be honest about that. Anything else is disrespectful of her and her feelings." For once I sounded pretty darn smart.
"How do you know what she wants, though?" Jasper poked at my arm. "Do you just ask or something?"
"In your case, yes. Remember, Alice is my beloved baby sister, and if you make her cry, I will make you cry. That is not negotiable. She's been through a lot, so you need to be extra careful." It was up to Alice herself to tell him about the rape, and I couldn't force it.
"I already know about all of that." He was nodding to himself. "But I get you, just ask her."
Thank God she had already told him. "Eddie, you can just go for it. Believe me, if a girl doesn't want to, she'll let you know. Probably with a good slap to the face, but don't worry about it. It'll make a man out of you."
They were both staring at me now, totally enraptured, which meant I had to move quickly. "Let's start with safety. There is no excuse for not using protection. None. Neither one of you wants or needs a baby in your lives. And there may come a day when you want to sleep with other women, and, believe me, neither one of you wants me to pull out the pictures of what an STD will do to your junk."
"I've seen them." Edward spoke up quickly. "Believe me, Jasper, they're bad."
"I've seen them, too. Sex Ed is mandatory, and I was actually in school that week. It was horrible."
Oh, no, my dear brothers. Horrible was about to happen. "Good, so you both understand why protection is important. Now, do either one of you actually know how to use it?"
"No." They spoke simultaneously.
"Don't worry, I'll show you." I pulled out my little bag. "I've been planning this for a while."
I held out the foil square in one hand and ripped it open. "This is a condom. It comes all rolled up like this." In my other hand, I produced a banana. "All you have to do is figure out which way it rolls out, and there you go." I rolled the condom onto the banana smoothly. Trust me, I get plenty of practice. Like, ten times a week worth of practice. I am, after all, a stud."
Neither one of them said anything, though Jasper did make a little 'huh' noise in the back of this throat. Then he grinned. "Can I have the banana when you're done with it? I'm kind of hungry."
"In due time, Grasshopper." I held the banana out. "Now, these things come in different sizes. If you get it too big, it'll fall off or won't protect you. If it's too small, you're going to strangle your dick to death."
"If you tell us to drag our . . . penises out to be measured, I'm out of here. I'll go sleep in Mom and Dad's tent tonight." Edward sounded horrified, but I wasn't sure whether it was because of what I said or because he had to say the word 'penis.'
"No one in this tent wants to see your junk, bro. I'm just letting you know this for research purposes. Figuring out what size fits is all you. Now, when you're done, you have to make sure the condom doesn't fall off when you're pulling out. If it does, you're going to have to drive three towns over to their ER so no one tells Dad what you've been up to." That, by the way, was one of the more embarrassing nights of my life. "Tie the thing shut, and throw it away. Do not flush it or it might clog the pipes. Are the two of you getting all this, or should I write it down?"
They both mumbled that they got it, so I tossed Jasper the banana. "Break me off a piece of that, will you?"
He offered some to Edward as well, but was gently refused. Come on, Eddie, it's not like the condom touched the fruit part. "Do the two of you have any questions yet?"
They exchanged quick looks, neither one wanting to be the pervert who spoke up first. This time, though, Edward was the one who lost the staring contest. "How do you know what to do? You know, when you're . . . down there."
"Trial and error, my student, trial and error. Every woman is different, and they all have things that they like and don't like. They'll let you know when you've got it right."
There was a sudden horrified shriek from one tent over, making all three of us jump. Jasper's eyes went wide. "It's a mountain lion!"
For some stupid reason, Dad had thought that it was a good idea to talk to Jasper about all of the different wildlife we might encounter. He probably thought that my bro would appreciate knowing exactly what he might be seeing on our trip. This just proved that he has no idea what Jasper can and can't handle.
The reality was that Jasper fixated on the idea of being attacked by predators. I explained over and over to him that they wouldn't bother us. That we kept our food away from the campsite, and we didn't stray from the campsite after dark, when they were most likely to be active. We would be fine, but he didn't really believe me.
"Jas, that's a girl squeal, not a mountain lion squeal. They're probably giggling about Orlando Bloom or something like that." Edward tried to play it off, like he hadn't been just as startled as Jasper was.
Actually, that wasn't it, either. Rose and I were actually working as a team on this one. I was doing Sex Ed for the boys, because they desperately needed it, and Rose was hitting the girls. This way, no one got embarrassed by the parents, and no one ended up screwing things up for their first time.
"Maybe the girls are getting attacked by a mountain lion!" Jasper just wasn't going to let the thought go.
"No screaming. No mountain lion is going to get anyone, Jasper, I promise."
He relaxed, but only a tiny bit. "Are you sure?"
"Do you want to go check?" Leaving the tent right now would mean being devoured alive by mosquitoes, but it was still better than letting Jasper work himself up into a panic. This was supposed to be a fun trip, not one where he ended up freaked out and miserable.
He nodded weakly. "I'm just used to taking care of everyone. It freaks me out not to know what's happening."
I had already known that, but this was the first time he had said it out loud. "It's okay, dude. We can go check on them if it would make you feel better."
Edward already had his phone out. A shrill buzzing sounded from the other tent, and Rosalie's voice came over the speaker. "What do you want?"
He didn't give in to her bitch tone. "Jasper heard screaming and thought that a mountain lion was eating you. We were just checking up on you."
"Put Emmett on." Like I've said, Rose had never had much use for Edward.
I took the phone. "Hey, baby."
Her voice dropped so that no one else could hear. "I was trying to explain a blow job, and Alice freaked out. There were pictures."
Why hadn't I thought of that? Maybe I could convince her to send the porno over to the boys' tent for tomorrow night. Strictly for educational purposes, of course. "We haven't even gotten there yet. But I'll let Jasper know that you're all okay."
From across the tent, I could see him visibly relax. Well, that was something, at least. We were all okay, and that meant Jasper could lay down his arms for at least a little while. "Okay, we just wanted to know that you were fine. I love you and I'll see you tomorrow." Educating my socially and sexually confused brothers took precedence over a booty call.
"Good night, baby. I love you, too."
I slowly closed the phone and shot both boys a predatory look. "So, moving on to blow jobs . . ."