A/N: First and foremost, thank you to AngelaofAlagaesia, who I owe so much to. Not only has she been one of my biggest supporters for like, ever, but she won me in the Fandom Gives Back auction, and then requested something I never imagined anyone would – a JPOV from Paper Moon. Thank you for loving these boys, AoA.
Thank you to my beta, TwilightMundi, who tolerates my drunken writing and turns it into something sober people can comprehend.
A quick note: If you're a long time reader of Paper Moon, you should know that I've gone back and edited some names. I will post on my blog with a "key" of sorts. When I began writing this, I based it on a real location, and also used real names of the people that worked there. I was still so new to writing and so I can blame this error on my newbie ways, but it was time to correct it. I've changed the names away from the real people that work and socialize there, to Twi- characters, as it should be. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
I own nothing except my dirty little mind. All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
[This chapter takes place mostly during Chapter 16, which is from EPOV]
Tuesday – my favorite day of the week. What's not to love about Tuesdays? Monday's done and gone, work is lighter on Tuesdays, and best of all, Tuesday meant seeing Bella.
Most Tuesdays went the same – workout, breakfast, work, lunch, more work – then my day began. I would meet Bella at her house, where she was usually working on an early dinner. We'd talk about our days, and for this sliver of time, I could sometimes pretend that this was my life. This was the house I came home to. This was the woman that loved me the way I wanted and needed.
After we'd eaten and cleaned up, we'd carpool down to the equality center where we spent our Tuesday nights volunteering together. I would catch glimpses of her helping kids, either in a group setting or one on one.
That day, though, I was simply enjoying Bella's company as my best friend. We'd both been held up at work, so we couldn't get dinner before our time together. We agreed to meet at her place for the drive to the center. We hugged in greeting, then spent the drive chattering about our days and how things were going with Alice and Edward. It was nice to see Bella so happy and light.
When we arrived, Bella and I walked into the building hand in hand, as we sometimes did. This act no doubt confused any new staff or volunteers who would later find out that we weren't a couple, but it was just the way we were together. There was nothing remotely sexual about it – just two friends maintaining a physical connection.
Once inside, we met with the Director to find out how things were going. Because of Bella's pro bono work and my knowledge and expertise, we sometimes worked together with kids that had abusive homes, or needed more than just a safe place to hang out once a week.
Nothing needed immediate attention from Bella or me that day, so we wandered off to just hang with the kids and get our usual weekly things done. We each took on certain responsibilities to help with the functioning of the center. We did what we could in the community, with our time and money, to help give back to some of the resources we always wished had been available to us when we were younger and struggling.
Usually, I used this time to watch Bella. To observe the curve of her hip and the sway of her body as she walked. She would bend over a desk, revealing the swell of her breast, and I'd imagine my mouth below, capturing her nipple between my lips. Perhaps she'd sit at a desk, talking quietly on the phone, absentmindedly chewing the end of a pen, silently driving me insane. More than once, I'd been forced to retreat to the bathroom to adjust or relieve myself.
It was as if everything had shifted between us, though, and I saw her in a new light. I thought of Alice with her instead, and although I still required a slight adjustment (I'm a man, after all), I saw her differently. I saw the happiness that she radiated, the peace that she seemed to find overnight – these things that Alice had given her.
Mostly, though, I found my thoughts drifting to Edward.
What was he doing? How had his day been? Was he missing me, or thinking about me?
Deciding to be bold for once, I'd sent him a plant arrangement earlier in the day. I was overjoyed when I got an email from him thanking me. Knowing I'd need to work late, but not wanting to go another day without seeing him, I asked him to meet me for coffee the next night. When he agreed, I settled back into my comfort zone, knowing I'd see him again soon.
We'd talked about Edward's past and experiences with Adam the day before, and I felt such empathy for him. I could only imagine what it would feel like to have someone you'd once loved so deeply commit such an atrocity in the name of retribution. How could you ever even rationalize the whole relationship when someone did something so destructive and evil? I wondered when Adam had changed, or if he'd simply been a horrible person all along, and I couldn't help wanting to pepper Edward with clinical questions about him. I held back, though, giving him time.
It had been nice, albeit slightly Earth-shattering, to realize and acknowledge that my feelings for Bella had been misplaced all those years. When I heard Edward talking about Adam and reacted so strongly to seeing his pain, it clicked that my love for Bella had been something different. You couldn't force someone to love you back, and I'd simply held on for too long.
Shaking my head, I tuned back in to what I was working on. The night flew by, and soon Bella was finding me to make our way to dinner. I called Edward from the car to talk about our days. Even though we'd emailed back and forth several times, I still found myself missing him and wanting the same type of connection with him that I had with Bella. I wanted to talk to him even when I had nothing to say, really. His presence, even just on the phone, comforted and soothed me.
"Hey, J," he answered.
"Hello," I said, trying to keep the smirk from my voice. I'm sure I failed miserably.
"How was your night?"
"It was good. Mostly paperwork and boring shit, though I'm grateful for nights that don't involve drama," I said.
"I missed you today," he confessed. "I had a hard time concentrating on work when all I wanted to do was think about you."
This intrigued me. "Really?" I asked. All of this relationship stuff was so new. Thinking about someone, having them think about me. I wasn't sure anyone had ever genuinely missed me on a day-to-day basis, or expressed as much.
Edward hummed in acknowledgement, then said, "I just kept imagining us back in your bed."
They were words I'd never expected to hear from anyone – words referencing my bed – but somehow they didn't feel as scary as I thought they would. Again, I'd built them up to be way more in my head than they really were.
Reminding myself that Bella was in the car, I attempted to make my half of the discussion as vague as possible. "What would we do there?" I asked.
"I think I'd take my time with you," he said. "Investigate your body. Find your ticklish spots, maybe?"
Laughing, I responded, "Really?"
"Yeah, at least, that's where I'd begin. I don't want you laughing for too long, though. I'm sure I wouldn't be too tempted to waste my time with you like that anyway; we'd move on to the licking and nibbling and sucking rather quickly." His voice lowered slightly and got scratchy as he spoke. "You have such a nice, tight ass – maybe a little bite there, followed by a few more, with licks, up your back. Pinned beneath me," he mused. "That'd be interesting, no?"
My breathing had picked up, but I was still stuck in the fucking car with Bella. "Yeah," I said, exhaling.
"I kind of like torturing you with Bella there," Edward teased.
"Fuck you." I laughed, though, because I was enjoying his teasing, too.
"I sort of wish you would," he said, the teasing tone gone from his voice.
"Edward," I warned. It wasn't that I wanted to wait; I was ready. Hell, I was always ready. But I knew enough, enough about people and human nature, as well as enough about Edward, to know that he wasn't quite there yet.
"I know, I know," he sighed. "I'll let you get back to Bella, Jasper. See you tomorrow?"
"Yep," I confirmed. "I can't wait."
"Me either. Goodnight, Jasper."
Hanging up, I let my head rest back against the seat and closed my eyes. The rest of the ride was quiet. After a few minutes, I wondered what Bella was thinking about since it wasn't like her to be so quiet, but couldn't find it in myself to speak just yet, partially out of fear it was something negative about Edward and me. When we got to the restaurant and Bella had parked, I adjusted myself and gave my full attention back to Bella.
We walked inside and got a small table. I could sense she wanted to talk, so we spent the first few minutes concentrating on our menus, then tucked in to the conversation once we'd ordered. I watched as her eyes flickered in the candle light and soaked in the camaraderie of our friendship at that moment.
"So, are you excited about your date tomorrow?" I asked.
Bella's smile stretched ear-to-ear. "You have no idea."
"Where are you taking her?"
She tucked her hair back out of her face, sipping her iced tea before answering. "Melting Pot."
"Fun," I said. "All that chocolate. You girls are so into that dipping fondue shit," I teased.
"Oh, please, you love it when we go there. How are things going with Edward?" she asked. "Sounded pretty serious there on the phone."
"Things are going..." I paused to think about how I wanted to phrase it. It wasn't that I wanted to hold back, but I knew how Bella had reacted so far to whatever was happening with Edward, and I wanted to tread lightly. "Things are going well, actually. Who knows what will happen, but I promise I won't let it affect things for you at the office."
"Jasper, you know I care more about you than that. It's not about the office, it's about my best friend."
She reached across the table and grabbed my hand, holding it in hers. Our food arrived and we began to eat as we continued to talk.
"So how's work?" she asked.
"Ugh. Same problems, different day."
I'd been worried about a few of the kids, teens. One of them was a young girl that had been committed by her parents because of her depression, the other a boy a few years older. He'd been brought to our facility due to his anger and aggression with his parents and teachers, as well as a recent suicide attempt and some minor drug use. They'd formed a bond of friendship, and while that was usually encouraged, they were both in fragile emotional spots. As I saw them growing closer, the potential for disaster became sharper as well.
Bella knew I couldn't talk to her in specifics about the kids I helped, but sometimes I gave her vague information. It helped for me to have a safe place to talk, especially since she understood the legalities of me not saying much; she never questioned when I held back information because of similar attorney-client privileges in her work.
"There are these kids I'm worried about. I see them getting closer, and the way they look at each other... I can tell there's something more forming, you know?"
She nodded, taking another bite and humming in affirmation.
"I don't see how this can end well. Two kids in treatment so young. But what are my choices? I can't separate them, it's a small, semi-locked facility." I sighed. I'd worked in same-gender wards before, and the complications were so different there. Sure, we had sexual tension at times, and there was far more competition among certain girls for who was the most broken, or the thinnest, or whatever the case was that week.
"Plus, they push and encourage each other. At least, they have so far. He draws, and she encourages him to keep doing that, which is a good form of therapy and coping for him. They asked for privileges to go on a date together. A date! I mean, I know we can't stop teenage hormones, but..."
"Jas, baby, you're doing all you can. You care more than most people at that place, you know that. You're not just going through the motions; you care. You're giving pieces of yourself to these kids every day. It's not easy. I couldn't do what you do, which is why I fight my battles in court. At least there, I know I have a chance."
We ate in silence for a few minutes while I thought about the kids. My job was never easy, but I also tried to let it stay at the office. If I didn't, it would eat at me non-stop. There was a sort of routine to my life for a reason, my own coping mechanisms at work.
"Birthday party, huh?" I asked, shifting gears in the conversation.
"Don't remind me," she said, but was smiling that Cheshire cat grin again. "You're coming, right?"
"Of course. You know I wouldn't miss the chance to watch you squirm. Rose going?"
Bella nodded. "And Alice and Edward's brother, Emmett. Have you met him?"
"No," I said, shaking my head. "Edward and I have talked about him a little, though. He seems like a nice guy."
"Yeah," she said.
Watching her carefully as she finished eating, I noticed how deep in thought she was. I hadn't realized how well I'd learned to read her emotions, but there they were, all written across her face in the form of crinkled eyebrows and downturned, pouty lips.
"What is it?" I prodded. "And, do you want dessert?"
"No thanks, no dessert. And I just..." she paused and sighed. "What if I fuck this all up, Jasper? What if I can't be what Alice needs me to be? Never mind that it's only been barely a week. Who moves this insanely fast? It's like my common sense has gone out the window."
"You'll never know if you're going to fuck it up if you don't at least try," I said. "It's fast, sure, but who knows? All this time, you and I have done things a different way and it hasn't worked, right?" I waited for her to nod, then continued. "So maybe this is how it's supposed to be."
The rest of the night was quiet. Bella drove us back to our street and we parted ways without much fanfare. Exhausted from both work and volunteering, I collapsed into bed without even undressing. Thankfully, I got a full and restful night of sleep.
Work was shit the next day, and I anticipated my coffee date with Edward the entire time. I couldn't get out of work fast enough, and I was the first to arrive. As Edward walked in, I enjoyed the indulgent moment of watching his body move, seeing him interact with the barista, and then watching him stride toward me. A mix of emotions was bursting through me, but when Edward greeted me and asked me to tone my behavior down, I was immediately angry. I'd finally taken the next step with someone and he was asking me to go backwards? Hell no.
Asking if he'd missed me, I pouted a little and hoped to ease the tension. Then he asked when the last time I'd been out with a guy was, and I almost lost it.
"Never. Why does it matter?"
"Jasper, you've never been out, like on a date out, with a guy?"
"I don't tend to ask them on dates, Edward." The sting of the reminder that we were venturing into new territory didn't help the tension. Was he trying to throw it in my face that I was a fuck-them-and-leave-them type?
"You have no concept of what it means to be out," he whispered. "You get to lead this easy life with Bella, and everyone assumes you're straight. You take all of this for granted. You reach for my knee under the table, run your eyes over my body as I'm ordering my coffee, and don't give it a second thought. Do you know what it's like to have to fear that someone is going to hurt you because of who you love, Jasper?" His voice was still low, but so very full of anger. "Have you ever had someone hurl a homophobic comment at you, and then worry they will follow it up with their fists? Ever walk down the road and want so badly to hold your boyfriend's hand that it aches, but know that if you walk by the wrong person or people, the hate they spew will suck the joy of the moment right out? You take for granted what the outside world is like for us."
After his diatribe, I took a deep breath and composed myself. Knowing I couldn't keep the seething anger from my voice, I tried to select my words carefully.
"I might not have firsthand experience being 'out and proud' in public with someone, or hiding who I am, but have you completely forgotten what it is that I do every day? I hear about kids whose parents will never accept them because of who they are. I spend my Tuesday evenings volunteering at a center where they practically glare at me the entire time. Do you know how many comments I've heard about 'picking one side or the other'? I'm like the fucking redheaded step-child of the community. People look down on me from both sides! The breeders don't like me because I like cock and the fags think I'm derailing their efforts to be accepted by being wishy-washy." I knew I was saying hurtful, hateful things, but once I began, it was as if I couldn't stop; all the years of pain and hurt I'd felt, in a community that was supposed to embrace me, came falling out.
"No one accepts me for straddling both words, and so I get left out of both. Well, more like kicked out. Yet, here I am, giving my time, my energy, my money. I go to every Pride parade, I never pretend I am anything but who I am. And, fuck you, Edward, for implying that I should live my life differently. How is anyone supposed to get used to this reality and this world if you're constantly cowering in the corner with your Abercrombie smile, pretending so hard it hurts? If I want to hold your hand, I'm gonna grab it, I don't give a fuck where I am." I leaned a little closer to him. "If I want to kiss you, I'm gonna do it, because that's who I am. I try my damnedest to live an authentic life, and I've never been ashamed of being who I am. Not when I was whoring it up, and certainly not now that I might have an actual boyfriend."
As I spoke about the lack of acceptance of bi-sexuals in our community, and how I'd never hidden from anyone exactly what my preferences were, the anger only got greater. Not only did I have to deal with this every day from my colleagues, the volunteers at the center, and sometimes even myself late at night when I tried and tried to convince myself it would just be easier to be straight, but the guy I was falling for quickly wanted a piece of this fight, too?
When I was done speaking, I reached across the table to kiss him. I wanted him to know just how out I wanted and needed us to be. I couldn't hide who I was any more than I could hide that I was a man.
And so, I laid down the gauntlet right there at the table, before I got up to leave.
"If you can't handle that, maybe you need to rethink dating me."
The sadness crept up and over me as I walked out. Was I leaving the best thing I'd ever found? Would Edward understand, or hate me? I had to have faith that my demonstration would prove effective and worth it.
The entire drive back to work, I cursed and talked to myself out loud. Unable to call the one person who might understand, I worked until my phone rang, bringing me from my haze of thoughts. Listening to his voicemail, my heart clenched. As I paced the office, I thought about what the right thing to do was. He'd called and apologized; he made the first step. Wasn't it my turn, now, to be an adult and try to repair things? I knew I didn't want to discuss it via text, or even over the phone, so I took a chance and texted him back with a single word: address?
Surprised Edward lived so close, I knew it would only take me a few minutes to arrive at his doorstep. I checked my email one last time, dealt with the remaining paperwork I had to get done, and walked out the door a few minutes later. Taking my time, I drove carefully, not wanting to let my anger get the best of me.
When I arrived, I pushed past Edward and walked into his living room, taking a quick moment to survey his apartment.
"What you said today, it was completely unfair," I practically barked out.
"I know," he said quietly.
"I can't live like that, Edward." I was exasperated, using my hands to talk and gesturing wildly. "I can't go out to dinner with you and pretend. Or to the park. Or to your office."
Something deep inside of me wanted everything. I wanted it all, and I realized it right then. I didn't want a quick fuck anymore, I wanted real and true and passionate and everything, even if it meant fights like this. It would be worth it, I knew.
Edward's eyes softened as he spoke again. "I know." His body was slack, almost as if folding in on itself. The pain radiated from him, and only then did it occur to me that it wasn't as though Edward was ashamed. He'd been hurt, down to his very foundation, by the person he had trusted the most. He'd had his secrets (and lies) shared with everyone and anyone that would listen. Empathy bubbled to the surface, followed quickly by the need to reconfirm what we had. What we were. What we were becoming.
Pushing him against the wall, I pinned his body with mine, repeating important words to me. Reiterating what I wanted. Demanding what I needed.
"Edward, I don't want to pretend. I like you." Kissing him for emphasis, I almost gave in to my lust, and gave up the fight. But I carried on. "If I want to kiss you in public, I don't want to have to stop myself." I really, really didn't. When we were out, whose right was it for anyone else to tell us it wasn't okay to express our love in the exact same manner as straight people did? "I don't care who knows that I like you." Or more than like you, I thought. "Bedroom?"
My hips pressed to his, my arousal and desire evident, as I waited patiently for him to either navigate me to the room or tell me where it was. Finally, he seemed to realize what I said, and took my hand. Slowly, we walked as we unbuttoned, pulled down, and removed clothing.
As Edward fell to the bed, I collapsed on top of him, removing the last of our clothing. His hands shot to the drawer next to us, then produced a condom and a bottle of lube. Thankful our desire for each other was mutual, I groaned as he stroked me a few times, then unrolled the condom onto me.
Reaching out, I grabbed the bottle of lube and slicked my cock. Watching Edward, I tried to think about what I was doing, perhaps slow down. I wanted our first time to be so different, not just the same fucks as the others had been, but I was desperate for that connection.
Bending his legs, I spoke softly and whispered reassurances to him. Maybe even more to myself than him, but they were out there, out of my head, and into the universe. Placing the head of my dick where I wanted it most, I teased him for a moment. Just the tip sank in, and I shifted his legs so I could press my weight down on him a little more. I wanted to really be connected to him in that moment; intimately connected, not just fucking.
When he begged me, I held back from pushing straight in, still wanting to take my time. Easing more of my weight onto him, consequently pushing myself further in, I heard him groan softly. When he begged a second time, I couldn't help it.
"Please what, Edward?" I asked, knowing exactly what he meant.
"Please fuck me, Jasper," he said.
His voice was so confident, and so full of the same need and desire I felt. Watching him, eyes closed, face and body so full of pleasure, was amazing. But I wanted to see him, to look into his eyes and connect again in another way.
"Open your eyes, Edward," I commanded.
When he didn't, even after I repeated my request, I began to pull out tortuously slowly. The smile on my face grew when he finally opened them; he was just as shattered and needy as I was. It was perfect. He was perfect. In that moment, the both of us together, perfect.
Moving again, pressing into him, he grasped my face. Edward was frantic, needy with his kisses. His desire was obvious as I pushed further and sank into him. Carefully, I began to set a slow, enjoyable pace. Needing to make our connection in this sense last longer than a minute or two, I drew out the pleasure for us both.
Our mouths met in soft, warm kisses. My body pressed against his, and I felt his hand snake between us; the thought that he was going to stroke himself as I fucked him almost sent me over the edge. Holding on by the thin ledge of desire, I thrust harder and deeper, hopefully taking him closer with me. Finally, when I could hold on no more, I let go and stilled my movements. It was the sweetest moment I'd had with anyone, except perhaps Bella.
As I withdrew my body from his, I began to playfully nip at his neck. Slowly turning my nibbles harder, I was surprised he wasn't reacting. Suddenly, he seemed to come back to what we were doing, and he slapped me lightly.
Edward's lips met mine again, soft and slow. We kissed and touched, and loved each other for several minutes, and I couldn't help my brain comparing and contrasting with my one other loving, intimate experience again. When Edward asked if I was okay, I genuinely wasn't sure how to answer. Sure, on the surface I was fine, but I knew this experience with him had deeply and profoundly changed me.
His fingers tugged through my messy locks, twisting and playing as his nails scratched lightly. I wanted to purr, to hum, to show my appreciation in some way, but I was tangled in my thoughts still. Edward was caring for me in the exact way I needed without asking for anything in return, and just loving me as I was. Accepting me, and still wanting me, flaws and all.
As if someone flipped a switch, I felt back with him in that moment, his words from our phone call the other day snapping into my head. Grinning wickedly, I asked, "Edward, did you say something the other day on the phone about fucking me?"
My cock practically leapt with joy, even though it was entirely spent, when he replied. "I did, and I still do intend to fuck you, Jasper. Are you ready?" Hell. Fucking. Yes. I was ready. I hummed and he rolled us.
Surprising me again, Edward didn't move in for the kill. He was sweet and soft, kissing my face, my entire face, and then my neck and shoulders, moving on to my nipples. As he licked and blew his cool breath across them, I moaned softly. When he shifted lower, I got momentarily confused. Only when he pulled my legs off the bed, moving my torso to where he wanted it, and giving me a confident, sexy smirk, did I understand.
"Jasper, roll over and grab me a condom, please?"
I was glad for a moment of payback, and I took my time rolling the thin latex onto him, then stroking his cock up and down. Twisting my hand around his length, I watched his face as he reacted to what I was doing, and felt a sense of pride. When I'd had enough, I let go and laid back on the bed, more than ready for him. What would he look like as he came, I wondered. What next step of intensity would this bring to what was happening between us?
His hands trailed up my legs, touching and twisting against my skin, and he raised my legs to be flush against his body. Just this simple move, repositioning of our bodies, was so infinitely sexy. That he trusted me so much, and that I was letting him. He could have done anything in that moment.
Edward's nails scratched lightly across my balls, and my back arched up off the bed. He was teasing me in the best and worst ways, and I practically begged him to stop. Of course, he just continued further, bringing his hand to my body and teasing me more. It was a delicious, slow tease, just like I'd done to him. Deciding to lay back and allow someone to pay attention to my body, I relaxed and began to enjoy myself immensely.
Moments later, I felt him press against my lower half and move into me. It was exquisite, the only word I could think in that moment. Edward moved his body faster than I had, fucking me harder and less controlled, and that was just fine with me. Teasing him right back, I tightened my inner muscles around him several times, enjoying the feeling of his length sliding in and out of me, and the contrast and change I could provoke just with this small movement.
His body changed and shifted, and his thrusts became deeper, harder. I couldn't help the noises I was making; he was driving me insane. Stroking myself, I watched his face move and contort with the effort of our coupling. When I felt his hand cover mine, I knew I'd be done with, and very soon. Impressed with my own stamina, I gripped myself tighter and felt him do the same.
There was no time to grab a tissue, even if I had known where they were, and I came all over my stomach and chest. Edward muttered a few words, then slowed his movement. As he pulled back, the sensation of him leaving my body left me aching on every level.
Watching him get up and leave the bed, presumably to go to the bathroom, I found tissues and cleaned myself up quickly. While he was gone, I burrowed under the covers, making myself quite at home. Nearly asleep, I felt Edward's body slide in beside mine. He asked if I could stay the night, and I was too exhausted to show just how happy that made me, so instead, I gave a short answer and kissed his shoulder lightly.
Drifting to sleep, all I could think about was Edward. There was so much ahead of us, but we'd already progressed through several stages of a real relationship. For once, the urge to leave wasn't there. I didn't want to run, I wanted to be right where I was. I wanted to be there for a very long time, and although it scared me, the fear wasn't overwhelming. Two thoughts crossed my mind as I began to feel myself pulled under the haze of sleep: I couldn't wait for my real date with Edward the next day, and I couldn't wait to call Bella and not only talk to her about her date with Alice, but share with her the crushing happiness and hope I felt.