A/N: Many thanks to everyone who asked me to continue the one-shot I wrote for the Indies First Time Writers Challenge… which was just about everyone who reviewed, so I feel pretty good. :-) This chapter is short, but reveals some new and (hopefully) interesting developments on the o/s. Additional A/N at the bottom.
WARNING: This piece of fiction is rated MA (Mature Adults) for slash (a male/male relationship, for those not in-the-know), graphic language, and adult situations. There'll even be boy-nudity at some point. So please click away if you're not old enough for this, or if you ARE old enough but are a wuss about any of that stuff. Also, S. Meyer owns all Twilight-related material. Thanks for letting us play in your sandbox, Mrs. Meyer.
Chapter One – First Sight
"Loser!" Emmett McCarty bellowed out to me in friendly greeting, clearly audible over the dull roar created by the student body of Forks High School. I spotted him near the middle of the school auditorium and started toward him. The first morning assembly of the year looked like any other assembly, with kids socializing over the seats, roaming the aisles, tossing paper and pens at one another. I wove my way through the crowd and approached the spot where Emmett and the other guys were sitting. Mike Newton and Tyler Crowley were arm wrestling over the back of a chair, while Eric Yorkie texted on his cell phone, pressing keys with rapid-fire precision.
"Hey, Em," I said as I reached him. I clapped him on his solid bicep, swallowing hard over the tingle his sharp blue gaze elicited in my belly. After almost three months of separation, I'd hoped my reactions to him would have subsided. Apparently not.
"We missed you around here all summer, asshole. Your dad really screwed you over with that crappy internship, huh?" He returned the arm pounding, then blinked at me in surprise. "Jeez, Jasper. You been working out?"
I was kind of proud of my buff new body. It was one of the perks of spending the summer down in New Orleans, building houses for victims of Hurricane Katrina. My ex-Marine dad had called in a favor to get me the gig on short notice. I'd told the guys I'd been forced into going, but the truth was that I'd begged my father for the internship, desperate to leave Washington for a while.
"Yeah, manual labor will do that. I missed hanging out with you douches, though," I threw back at Emmett, smirking. "What did y'all do, sit around and play Call of Duty all day?"
"'Y'all?' That's cute, Whitlock." Emmett rumpled my hair before I could knock his hand away from my head. "Your Texas is showing."
Unh. Touch me again, Em. On second thought… don't.
"OK, you guys," Yorkie broke in, waving his phone. "Jessica Stanley and Angela Weber are confirmed for the party Labor Day weekend. That means that, assuming McCarty is holding out for Rosalie Hale, only Newton and Whitlock still need dates." Mike and Tyler snickered and nudged Emmett at the mention of Rosalie.
"I'll go with Bella Swan," I said without thinking. The other guys gave each other knowing looks.
"Hey, Jasper, you tap that yet?" Newton would be the one to ask.
"You gotten with Lauren yet, Mike? Or was all that talk at the end of last year just hot air?" I retorted. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
"Hell, he hasn't even talked to her all summer. Never called her. Pussy."
Mike's face turned red.
"Shut up, Tyler, you fag." He spat the word with venom, and I winced. "For your information, I'm no longer interested in Lauren Mallory. She's a total skank."
"Yeah, so he went out with Jessica, instead," Eric piped up. Now it was Tyler's turn to heat up.
"What the hell, Mike? You always ignored her before! Now that I said I was gonna call her, now you decide to go out with her?"
It looked like my distraction had worked a little too well.
Mike, unable to refute Tyler's accusation, turned on Eric instead.
"Hey, Yorkie, before you get your hopes up, I heard Angela has a thing for 'Chess-Club Cheney.'"
"Guys, guys!" Emmett broke in. "Chill. It's only the first day of school, for fuck's sake. There's plenty of new blood to choose from. Look, we're juniors. The seniors won't waste their time with underclassmen, and we outrank the sophomores, so we pretty much have our pick of the froshes. Have you seen some of those hotties?" His soothing words brought a temporary peace to our contentious group. Sometimes I thought the only reason we all hung around together was because we'd known each other for-fucking-ever, and it was just easier than making new friends.
Speaking of new friends… As I glanced around the auditorium, I saw a small, pale hand waving at me from across the wide aisle. I smiled, glad for the excuse to escape.
"Guys, I'll catch you later." They barely acknowledged me. Except for Emmett, who nodded and winked at me. Sigh.
I pushed my way out of the row and ambled across the wide aisle, plopping into a seat.
"Hey, Jazz." The slight girl next to me offered me a wide, genuine smile, shoving her long, chestnut hair behind her ears. I put my arm around her and squeezed her in a gentle hug.
"Wow," she said, pushing on my bicep. "Look at you, all muscle-bound. I don't see you for more than two months, and you go and get all He-Man on me." I met her grin with one of my own, flexing my arms dramatically. She giggled. God, I had really missed her.
"See what swinging a hammer all summer will get you?" I leaned back in the chair, stretching my long legs underneath the seat in front of me.
Her giggles turned into snickers.
"Swinging a hammer, eh? Is that, like, a euphemism of some kind, Jazz?"
I colored slightly, realizing too late the double entendre I'd let slip. She patted my arm again in reassurance.
"I think it's amazing that you spent your whole summer helping people. I want to hear all about it."
"It was cool. Totally unexpected. I mean, I didn't know how great it would be. I just wanted to get the fuck out of here…" I trailed off, trying and failing to keep my eyes from cutting back across the aisle. Bella nodded, her eyes brimming with sympathy. I pushed on, not wanting to continue that particular line of thought.
"I met some great people, and we had the best food every night. You have to see it, Bells. It's nowhere near the same city it was before Katrina, but it has, I dunno, this charm to it. The French Quarter wasn't damaged all that much in the storm, and it's full of life, while somehow being … just fucking wounded underneath at the same time." I prattled on for several minutes, telling her about my exploits in the city, the friends I'd made, and the two houses my group had built from the ground up for a couple of families who had lost almost everything they owned in the 2005 disaster. Bella encouraged me, locking her espresso eyes on my face and asking pertinent questions every so often.
The last warning bell rang, and Principal Martinez made his way up onto the auditorium stage. He fiddled with the microphone on the podium and rifled through a stack of papers. We students ignored him for the time being. It would take him at least five minutes to get ready to speak, and another five to get everyone to quiet down enough so we could hear him.
Meanwhile, Bella told me about her summer job at the Newton's Sporting Goods store in Port Angeles, and what a pain the commute had been every day from Forks. Mike's parents owned the chain, with locations throughout Washington, and he worked at the PA store alongside Bella for most of the summer. His parents wanted him to take over the business eventually, and insisted he learn everything from the ground up. He took the job seriously, but not so seriously that it prevented him from flirting with Bella. I laughed with her at that. Little did he know what a waste of time that was.
Someone coming in through the double doors at the other side of the room caught my eye. Uh-oh, somebody's late for school, I thought. Then I did a double-take, my jaw sliding open and my eyes widening.
He had thick, unruly brown hair that gleamed with red-gold highlights under the stark fluorescent lighting. His broad shoulders and chest strained under the plain black t-shirt he wore, tapering down to a slim waist and long legs highlighted by low-slung dark jeans. His face… Oh my god. He was stunning. Wide light eyes, straight nose, strong jaw. His mouth was pink and full, and I couldn't draw my stare away from it. His tongue flicked out, wetting his upper lip, as he glanced around uncertainly.
Where did he come from? I'd never been affected by someone like this, not even Em. My tongue felt baked, my mouth dessicated. My heart thundered in my chest as the beautiful boy's gaze swept carefully around the auditorium. I felt it coming toward me like a searchlight in the dark, and I held my breath, afraid to move, but not wanting to be pinned by the beam.
"Hey, loser!" My eyes snapped to Emmett, who had stood up to yell. The new boy swiveled his head to see where the epithet had come from and smiled. Suddenly, he radiated confidence as he turned and walked toward Emmett.
Huh. How does Em know him?
I mentally shook myself out of my trance before I could give myself away. Glancing furtively around me, I realized that I wasn't the only person watching the new boy saunter up the aisle. All of the heads that turned—besides mine, of course—belonged to females. Bella, however, was still recounting one of Newton's attempts to convince her to carpool with him to work.
The new boy reached the row of seats where Emmett was sitting with the rest of the gang. He laughed at something Mike said and slid into the row, heading in toward the seat I'd vacated a few minutes before. As he did, he looked up across the aisle and our eyes met.
I froze, unable to look away. He froze, too. His eyes widened and his lips parted almost imperceptibly. I couldn't read the expression on his face.
"Jasper? You OK?" Bella nudged my shoulder. I didn't move. The new boy's eyes darted to her, then back to me. I thought I saw his jaw tighten, but he quickly looked away, freeing me from his imprisoning stare. The whole thing couldn't have lasted more than five seconds, but it had felt like hours.
I released a shaky breath, suddenly remembering where I was. I turned back to Bella. Her expression was neutral, but I could see the concern crinkling the furrow between her brows. I gave her a half-smile, only one corner of my mouth quirking up. Her gaze flicked toward Emmett and the guys and back to me. I sighed, taking her hand in mine and twining our fingers.
I didn't have to say a word. My friend Bella knew.
A/N: What's great about doing a multi-chapter fic is that you can add so many layers and details that you just can't include in a o/s. What's hard about doing a multi-chapter fic is that you have to add so many layers and details that you just don't need in a o/s. Ah, the double-edged sword that is authorship. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little tease of a chapter. The next will be coming relatively soon, and will provide some background on the things that are only hinted at in this one. Thanks for reading, and reviews are always appreciated.