Chasing Paper

It was Tuesday.

It was Tuesday and I'm pretty sure Tuesday was dealing with a raging case of PMS. I must say, I expect more from you, Tuesday; this kind of thing is typical from Monday, but you usually come through for me. Not this Tuesday though, and I thought about holding a grudge because of it. This Tuesday was downright craptastic.

Jessica didn't get the daily sheets done the previous day (Monday, dear, I'm looking at you), which meant I had to scramble to get them done in the morning before our conference call. Following said call, an employee ran out of the office crying because she felt "too much pressure." She later came back to apologize. We had to sit together with a box of tissues wedged between us while I played psychologist, trying to figure out if she was really okay to return or if I should just send her home for the day. Dealing with Emily's emotional turmoil, on top of trying to actually do work, was not exactly a lovely way to round out the day. And it was raining. Rain and I don't get along.

The end of work was nearing though and Tuesday was going to have a chance at redemption. Around 4pm I got an email from Alice with the standard "TND" in the subject line. Seeing those three letters lightened my mood considerably.

My college friends and I started Tuesday Night Dinner when we all began working in the city together about two years ago. It started informally, meeting here and there after work for eating, drinking, and merriment. As life got progressively more hectic, we decided to make it a group date on every other Tuesday night.

The rules of TND were simple. First and most important, if for some ridiculous reason one of us wasn't able to meet up and left the others hanging, then next time we were out, the first round of drinks was on that person. Secondly, we had to try someplace different each outing. No repeats on Tuesdays. In a city as big as Philadelphia, it wasn't a difficult task. Although Emmett had chosen Cuba Libre twice and then attempted to feign ignorance when we called him out on it. He paid for that mistake – literally – when he was forced to pick up the bill on the second Cuba Libre visit. This week it was Alice's turn in the rotation and she picked Fork, a place in Old City that her co-worker raved about.

Emmett and Rosalie had to bail on us this particular week. For a good reason: they were going to a tasting with their wedding caterer. Of course, we didn't say it was a good reason. No, we gave them hell for it and they agreed to pick up the first round next week. They would have done the same to us, so we didn't bother feeling bad.

Since Tuesday evening had a shot at saving Tuesday day's ass, I gave it the benefit by drawing a dividing line between the two parts. I headed over to Market Street, hurriedly navigating through the slick streets and doing my best to teeter along the cobblestone sidewalk in heels. I'm a natural born klutz so I have to take extra care when I have both the elements and heels working against me. Proudly, I made it to Fork unscathed and found Alice and Edward already waiting outside the restaurant. Although Jasper hadn't yet arrived, we made the executive decision to head inside and get out of the rain. After a brief discussion about whether or not to sit at the bar, we settled on grabbing a table. The restaurant was filling up quickly and we didn't want to risk a wait.

Alice checked her cell phone for the tenth time in a matter of minutes. Jasper was running late and hadn't called, which we all knew wasn't like him. Meanwhile, we had a helicopter waitress hovering nearby, attempting to look attentive rather than antsy.

A few more minutes went by and Jasper still hadn't arrived. The rain was falling in a hard steady rhythm outside and we were grateful that we hadn't waited on the street for him. Patrons poured into the dining area, all shaking off the rain water and running fingers through their hair in an attempt to tame the damage the weather had done. We smiled to our waitress and she rushed over, looking relieved that we were ready with our drink orders. Alice ordered Jasper's for him, Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. It was from a brewery in Maryland that Jasper had discovered last year. He liked the fact that their slogan was "Off-centered stuff for off-centered people." He always kidded that he would fully support a local beer made especially for him.

"Maybe I should call him again? It's not like Jasper to be so late," Alice sighed and looked at her brother and me, uncertain of what course of action she should take.

"I'd give him a minute, Ali. The rain might have slowed him down a bit," I suggested as I watched our waitress carefully making her way back to the table with our assorted wines and beers. Just as I was going to suggest that she text him, I spotted Jasper near the front of the restaurant scanning the room. I caught his attention, waving him over while Alice turned in her seat and exclaimed, "There you are!"

"Guys! I'm so sorry I'm late. The rain is relentless, man." He took off his coat and hung it on the nearby rack, careful not to get any rainwater on any of us or the other diners nearby. Leaning over, he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and shook Edward's hand. Pulling out the chair next to Alice, he sat down and tilted his head toward her for a kiss. Despite the rain, he was in a good mood. Jasper was usually in a good mood but this was a very good mood. Jasper and his moods were contagious. Quickly glancing at the menu, he decided on his meal before snapping the pages shut. Observing the closed menus on our table, our waitress found her way back to us. After the food orders were placed, we all turned our interest to Jasper. The thrilled smile had not left his face.

"Okay, Jasper. What gives?" Edward was intrigued. We all were.

"Roger Waters tickets! The man is legendary. Peter and Charlotte aren't able to go. Something last minute came up with her family. I bought the tickets off of them for the show on Saturday."

Alice looked less than enthused. In fact, if it were possible, she looked downright bored. Her twin's face mirrored hers.

"Roger Waters? Is that the guy from…" she trailed off. She had no clue. Jasper was flabbergasted and looked like he might swallow his own tongue. His eyes caught mine, willing me to answer the asinine question.

"Pink Floyd," I supplied. "The show should be pretty amazing. The only thing better would be if Pink Floyd actually reunited but besides that time they reunited at Live 8, it's never going to happen. David Gilmour has already said he wants to focus on his solo material."

"Bella, we need to leave these Cullens behind. Let's run away together and get married. We can listen to Pink Floyd and eat salt and vinegar potato chips all day long." We both smiled at his potato chip reference. We used to share bags together when we were in college. Everyone else thought they were revolting and wouldn't come near us after we had devoured a bag. Their loss.

"You should take Bella with you," Alice suggested, sounding happy to have found an out.

"Bella? You in? I'll even get some S and V potato chips to sweeten the deal." Jasper's hair fell slightly over his eye as he looked at me expectantly.

Did I want to go? More than anything. But I'll admit the idea of it felt a bit strange. It had been so long since just Jasper and I had spent time together alone. We were together often but it seemed these days, it was always us being out with our other halves. I glanced at Edward and he seemed to be all for us going together too. Plus, hello! Roger freaking Waters.

"I'm in."

Hey, Tuesday day? You might want to grab the notes from Tuesday night because he just saved your ass.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday all played nicely with me yet I was enthusiastic to see my usual buddy, Saturday, since he had great potential this week. Jasper had called around noon and asked if I wanted to grab a bite to eat before going to the concert. Edward teased me about my "date" with Jasper. I tried not to blush.

It was a date with Jasper, in the platonic sense of the word. Platonic or not, it was weird to be talking about "dates" with Edward, even if he was kidding.

Jasper picked me up right at five and after chatting with Edward for a few minutes, we both donned our jackets and headed out to his car. He came to my side to open the door for me. Damn. Edward doesn't even do that anymore – automatic locks make it unnecessary, but Jasper didn't seem to mind. Waiting on my seat was a huge bag of salt and vinegar potato chips.

"Awww, Jasper! You remembered!"

"Of course I did. You think I would make an empty promise? Jasper don't play that!" He joked as he moved the bag to the backseat.

We headed to Chickie and Pete's for dinner before the concert. The hostess looked around and found a corner table away from the volume of the bar to seat us at. She smiled at us and winked at me. I awkwardly looked down while playing with the necklace Edward had given me for my most recent birthday. Did it really matter that the hostess thought we were out on a date? And why did it bother me?

We chatted through dinner, sharing crab fries, king crab legs, and cold shrimp. Whenever we came here with our significant others before games or shows, we always ended up with way too much food because no one could ever agree on what to share. But Jasper and I seemed to have a good thing going with our food choices: a symbiotic food relationship.

Of course, no time spent hanging out in our group was complete without reminiscing about college days. Topics from our past always made their way into present conversation. This time we fondly spoke of the time we went to New York together. The two of us ran through the streets to make it to a hole-in-the-wall where a favorite local band was playing their last set before taking a "hiatus." The lead singer made one solo album before his career fizzled and the band had scattered, finding success with other musicians. Jasper and I were both communications majors so we chatted about old classmates and what they were currently doing. Facebook kept us up-to-date with many people we normally wouldn't talk to otherwise and was good for the gossip.

The conversation at dinner flowed with ease and familiarity. It always did when I was with him. We always avoided one topic though, our life B.C.: Before Cullens, so he'd already taken me a bit by surprise by the aforementioned New York City trip. Not long into our days as freshmen, I found him sitting in the middle of the courtyard of our dorm, smoking an unfiltered Black and Mild. Not wanting to go into the confines of my 15x15 dorm room just yet, I sat next to him and we struck up a conversation about our shared public speaking class. The conversation flowed seamlessly that day long ago as well.

During that first conversation, I knew he was special and not like the other people I had met thus far at school when he told me he had officially decided he was turning over a new leaf in college. While everyone else was looking to go hog-wild with their new found freedom, he said he saw the way people changed in college and considered it not necessarily for the better. So his plan was to treat his body as a temple – no drinking, no smoking, no sexing. My curious eyes automatically focused to the second slim cigar he was currently smoking, resting between his lips. He smiled and told me that he just now came up with the plan and then implored me to join him in the cleansing cause. Knowing that this would bind us together, I told him I could back him in the cleansing experience. We joked that we'd be each other's sponsor and pinky swore, which we all know to be a legal and binding agreement.

For a little over a month, we held true to our vow. We'd go to class during the days and at night we'd go to the parties. We would watch the other students getting drunk and randomly hooking up thanks to beer goggles. We'd laugh at the people who would buy Blow Pops from us for ridiculous amounts of money because they were drunk. It was amusing and lucrative, all wrapped up into one.

Midterms snuck up on us and the vibe of the students changed from easy going and care free to a bit more high strung. After the week tested us, mentally and emotionally, we decided that the only logical thing to do would be to break our vow for one night and to get completely shit-faced.

And we did.

The night started out innocently enough. Jasper knew a few of the fraternity brothers at the closest house to campus. They were all playing beer pong, attempting to sink the white ping pong balls into red plastic SOLO cups, when we arrived. Soon our names were on the loose-leaf paper floating around the room to play the drinking sport game. I was partnered with a girlfriend of a fraternity brother and Jasper with her significant other. I hadn't played beer pong before but I was pretty good for a first-timer. Jasper spent much of the game attempting to throw the ball down the front of my shirt rather than into the cups on the table. The night wore on and we each got progressively drunker.

It's easier to say that I completely blacked out that night. That's what I told Jasper the next morning when we both woke up, naked, in his bed. He had groaned and said, "I feel like ass. Sunday, a little help here?"

Truth be told, I can remember everything. Every single hazy moment. The weaving piggy-back ride he gave me across the campus to our dorm. Attempting to right ourselves as we stumbled up the stairs to his room. His loud whisper assuring me that his roommate was home for the weekend. The shedding of clothing as though we couldn't disrobe fast enough and our skin couldn't meet quickly enough. We had always been very physically affectionate with each other but this obviously took it to an entirely different level. It wasn't romantic and it was far from perfect, it was raw and somewhat disturbing. It was completely and totally us. Yet, despite our close bond, I think embarrassment got the best of us. We pretended like what happened that night didn't affect us. We both put on a show, saying it was a one time thing and that we were totally fine with what transpired.

But it changed us and became the large elephant in the very small dorm room.

Not knowing how to resurrect what we once had, we started drifting apart. We didn't spend much one-on-one time together and never spoke about it. We were friendly but no longer the friends we once were. And even though I spent time with him around campus, I missed him. Then fate conspired against us a few years later when we both became involved with the Cullens around the same time.

We found ourselves hanging out once again on a daily basis; never denying the fact that we previously knew each other but never going into the intimate details. It was an unspoken rule that we would never mention it, to each other or to our significant others. That night was never spoken about and it didn't need to be. It would have only caused pain for our corresponding person and there was no point in hurting anyone involved when it was clearly a one time thing.

In recent years, it's almost as though part of our friendship had been completely lost because we were so wrapped up in being with our significant others and the couple-ness that comes along with that. We hadn't really had a chance to be the "Jasper and Bella" we once were because we were so busy playing our roles in our other couples. Maybe we were better off this way.

"Bella? You okay over there? Looks like you're a million miles away," Jasper asked as we finished our dinner. Not miles, just a few years. I assured him that I was fine and just thinking about the concert. Smiling at the thought of the show, Jasper grabbed the bill before I had a chance and gave the waitress his credit card. Despite my protests, he wasn't having it.

"Here you go. Just sign the top copy and the bottom copy is yours. You lovebirds have a good night!" the waitress cheerfully said her goodbye and was gone before I had a chance to correct her mistake. Jasper stood behind me and grabbed my jacket off my chair.

"Here, let me help you," he gently slipped the coat onto my waiting arms and patted my back.

What. The. Hell? This was feeling more and more like a date and less and less like a platonic date.

"Thanks?" Yes, it came out as a question.

We walked out of the restaurant into the crisp night air. It was already dark, signaling the days were beginning to get shorter. As soon as we got into the car, Jasper turned the heat up. The drive to the stadium wasn't a long one but we figured that it would be easier to have the car there rather than do the long walk later that night. I slid my jacket off as soon as we got into the car and tossed it into the back seat. He angled his car into the parking lot and paid the attendant. The place was teeming with people. From the looks of it, despite the cold, some had been there tailgating for hours. Surely their extra-curricular activities aided in keeping warm. Finally we were able to find a spot, albeit far away.

We got out the car and in our haste to get inside the stadium, I forgot something of vital importance.

"Jasper? My jacket," I said when we were halfway between the car and the arena.

"Oh! Where is it?"

"In the backseat of your car, keeping the potato chips company." I could be such an idiot sometimes. My teeth started to chatter from the cold.

Ignoring my protests, Jasper shrugged out of his jacket and insisted that I wear it. He placed it over my shoulders as I threaded my arms through the long sleeves. My hands were obscured by the sleeves so Jasper took it upon himself to zipper the jacket. Then before I knew what he was doing, he found my hidden left hand with his right and grabbed it. And once again we were running together, hand in hand, bringing back old memories of our time spent in New York City. So much had changed since then. I stumbled a bit but with Jasper's help I was able to keep my footing and not completely wipe out on the asphalt. My heart raced to keep up with the need to distribute oxygenated blood throughout my body. We ran toward the stadium entrance and before too long, we were breathlessly running up the steps.

"Why, don't you two make the cutest couple?" The older lady taking the tickets drank in the two of us standing there, me in his jacket. I dropped his hand.

"Oh no. We're not…" I trailed off, not really knowing how to explain that he was dating my best friend and I was living with her brother. I settled on, "it's platonic." Jasper looked on with amusement, not saying anything to confirm or deny my statement. Way to back me up there, buddy.

"Oh honey, don't worry. You will be!" She smiled at the both of us, misunderstanding me completely, as we headed past the gates and into the area.

The concert was amazing. The music wrapped around us and pulsated through us. We sang along and shared glances during our favorites. Lasers shot through the stadium and lit up the fog that was piped into the air. The two of us were on a music high, and perhaps a bit of a contact high as well, after we left. We were also shouting at each other since our ears hadn't quite recovered from the sound.

Jasper bounced along, walking backwards as we talked about our favorite parts of the show. We basically agreed that the whole damn show was amazing since we mentioned nearly every song that was played.

Getting back into the car, Jasper mentioned sharing our bag of chips. We drove to the school near Edward and my house, sat down on the swings and broke open the bag. The aroma assaulted our senses, both smell and sight. Our eyes started watering as we consume the pungent chips.

"Hey Bella, do you ever wonder…" his blue eyes caught my brown ones.

"Sometimes," I replied softly.

"And do you ever think about that night?" he asked.

"More than I should," I whispered.

We stared at each other for a moment, our breath visible in the cold night air. The unsaid words hung in the air, swirling around us. Who knows what things would have been like if we had zigged instead of zagged. We were where we were and who we were because of the choices we had made. We didn't need to find the answers to those questions, the unspoken words.

I broke the gaze and looked down at the mixture of dirt, pebbles, and tufts of grass on the ground. Avoiding the conversation, I pushed my legs forward and back until I gained enough momentum to take flight.

Silently Jasper reached into his coat pocket, taking his pack of Black and Mild's. Removing the filter, he smoked while I swung higher and higher.

After about five minutes, he asked quietly, "Are you ready?"

I stopped pumping and dragged my feet on the ground, pebbles flying up in protest of the sudden stop. Resting my head on the chain links holding the swing, I didn't say anything. Couldn't say anything.

"Let's get you home… to Edward."

We rode in silence to my house. My home with Edward. Our home. Jasper returned to his other half. Things were settling back into the way they were and would be. And although I laid warm in bed, snuggled next to Edward, my mind raced into the early hours of the morning and I couldn't think of anything apart from Jasper.

Sunday, a little help here?

A/N – The title comes from the Beatles song "Two of Us."
KrisBCullen – I owe you a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips (and many thanks!).
TheHeartofLifeIsGood – Sunday was obviously not kind to you or Reilly. Here's hoping Tuesday is behaving.
Thanks to Blue2185 and all of PTB. :)

To quote Pink Floyd: "Hello, is there anybody in there?"

Reviews are always appreciated! I'm thinking about continuing this - what say you?
ETA - I have continued this! Check out Here, There and Everywhere!