Disclaimer: I don't own it, but I like to manipulate them. Tis fun.
Okay, let me know what you think, yes?
He knew what time he would go over – four thirty. He knew he would bring her something simple, like a photo frame, or coffee, he wasn't sure. He also knew that he would be able to help her with the DIY – she looked as though she wasn't going to be particularly good at the whole physical work thing, and her hands weren't big enough to work on two things at once.
He left the house at a quarter past, wearing an old T-shirt – one of his favourites, and a pair of black jeans that were worn through just right. He wanted to be comfortable, really comfortable in the middle of one of the more uncomfortable situations of his life. He made his way through the garden, almost tripping over more than once because the remnants of the fence were quite roughly distributed all over the place.
When he finally got to Bella's back door, he didn't expect to be assaulted by a song he thought he had forgotten, the melody soon to be forever attached to the afternoon that was to follow. He knocked on the window, calling out to Bella, but getting no answer in return. Worried more that she had injured herself in the middle of putting up the shelves, he stepped into the house and called her name again.
"Bella?" He looked around the room to see if she was trapped under any furniture. It would sound funny to anyone looking in on the situation, but it was something Jasper genuinely was fretting about. "Are you okay?"
"Jasper?" She called back to him a few moments into the silence, the lull of the song ending, and the sound system in silence for a few seconds giving her the perfect opportunity, "I'm in the kitchen."
"Okay," A pause, and he followed her voice, stopping in the doorway to the kitchen as he caught the distinct flash of flesh leaning against the sideboard. "Er... You do know you're topless, right?"
"I'm wearing a bra," She said, without looking up at him, her eyes trained on the cloth in her right hand and the shirt in her left. "I slopped my coffee on myself," He frowned, wondering if that was going to be the only mishap she had today, or whether he needed to wrap her in bubble wrap for the evening. "So I wet my shirt... and then," She sighed, "Just bleh."
"Right," He nodded, trying as hard as he possibly could not to stare at the way the purple contrasted neatly with her skin. Going to run a hand through his hair, he tugged his hat off and stuck it in his back pocket, frowning as he realised she still hadn't put her shirt back on. "I'll get you another?"
"No," She shook her head, her back still to him, "Don't bother," She stopped and turned back to him, promptly tugging the top back over her head. It gave him the perfect glimpse of the skin of her stomach, and the bellybutton piercing she had regretted from age fourteen until ten minutes ago, because the second he looked at the bar, he hadn't taken his eyes from her. "Jasper?"
"Hmm?" He blinked a couple of times and glanced up at her, running a hand through his hair once more. "Sorry, Bella, did you say something?"
"No, just wondered if you wanted a drink."
"So you did say something..."
"Cheeky bastard." She turned and smacked him on the arm lightly, he laughed, "Or should I call you Captain Awesome?" Her eyebrow raised, she gestured at his shirt, and he immediately felt his face go bright red, his eyes looking everywhere but at her face. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, wearing something comfortable and familiar, but now he just felt childish. She was only messing with him, and had he been brave enough to look at her face, he would have seen the concern there that he was taking her so seriously. "Or..." She raised her hand to his chin, lightly knocking it so he would be looking at her if he dared lift his eyes, "Maybe I should call you Jazz Fantastic, because you offering to give me a hand today is exactly that."
"I-er..." He spluttered and ducked his head again, looking down at his bright green flip-flops. "I just didn't want you to be lonely." He murmured, and her heart caught in her throat. He sounded so young and vulnerable that she had to pull away before she did anything reckless.
"Come on," She smiled, "I'll even provide dinner if you're good at putting shelves up." She tugged at her hair, pulling it up into a simple bun, and grabbed his hand, pulling him up the stairs and into her spare room, the one that she wanted to double as a reading room. "As you can see," She waved her hand at the precarious shelf on the back wall, "I'm not very good at it. Are you?"
"Well," He laughed, though he didn't want to say no, even when he wasn't very good at DIY under normal circumstances, "I'll probably do better than you?"
"Exactly what I wanted to hear," She laughed, leading him to the corner. "Shelves, screws, drill..." She shrugged, "Go ahead, kid, make my day." She winked and turned toward the door, "I'm gonna go and get a couple of boxes, do you want a drink?"
"Yeah, okay," He smiled and nodded, lifting the drill and weighing it in his hand as he looked out for the brackets in the pack of shelves. "Cold, please, it's nice out today." She laughed and nodded.
"That's why I'm wearing the shorts," She laughed and he grinned, glancing down at the chequered fabric of her short-shorts. He had noticed that, but didn't want to mention it; just in case he was overstepping a boundary he wasn't quite sure of. "Oh, by the way," She said as she turned to the doorway, "I do like the shirt; I was only messing with you."
Jasper pressed his hands against the wall and dropped his forehead to his forearm as he tried to calm himself down. He was hot and sticky and had been working in that condition for the best part of two hours. Bella had filled up the shelves that he had fitted in less than five minutes, and though she had begun to help him, he had found that having the shorter woman standing in front of him, her back pressed up against his, was not only a hindrance to his eyeline, because he was determined to glance down her shirt every time she leaned back and looked up at him, rather than looking at where he was drilling, but was a problem because the more she pressed up against him, the more he had to back away. She seemed determined to get closer to him as he tried to focus on the actual carpentry, but was completely oblivious to his problem as she pulled away, and declared that it was time for another drink.
"Jasper? Is your mum alright?" She called upstairs as he raised his head and adjusted his jeans for what felt like the thousandth time. "It's gone six, will she want you back for dinner?"
"She's out tonight," He called back, "She had an appointment that Sue took her too, and they were going to have dinner together..." He looked down at his watch, "I doubt she'll be back before ten tonight," He smiled and set the drill down, only now realising that it had been precariously close to making a sizeable hole in his left temple as he straightened up and moved toward the door.
"Okay," Her voice was closer than he had expected, and he saw her stumbling up the stairs with a big tray of drinks, "Do you want to sit in my room?" She gestured at the room down the hallway, and he nodded, grinning back at her, before he stretched up to pull his back a little and try to touch the ceiling.
"You have a lot of books," He said as he curled up on her bed at her insistence, she wouldn't let him be uncomfortable or make him sit on the horrible wicker stool she had by her dresser – he would end up with red welts on his legs before long, and the denim would irritate it. As he sat back, she quirked an eyebrow at him as a gesture for him to continue, but he melted under her gaze, "I mean... you've got a lot of... like a library or something." He grinned and she shook her head.
"I don't have many," She shrugged, "It helps to know what you're going to be teaching, you know? I mean, I've got a lot of ones from uni, ones that I've annotated to death, you know?" Jasper nodded but was struck by something she'd said.
"You're a teacher?"
"I will be," She offered him a half smile and shrugged, "You sound surprised, don't you think I could teach?" She shoved him lightly with her shoulder and he shoved back, laughing.
"You don't look like a teacher, you know? None of the stuffy ones I know, anyway." A pause, "I could see you as one of those sexy ones, you know, the ones you see in por-" He closed his mouth and wrinkled his nose as he realised what he had been about to say. "Not that you look like a porn star, of course. You're gorgeous, but I mean, you're not a slut..." He dropped his head into his hands, the force of his movements making the bed shake and the tray in front of them move with it. Their drinks slopped and Bella had to lift the tray to stop her orange juice from spilling over the bedspread.
"Thanks, Jasper." She was laughing and shaking her head at the same time, "You know, you shouldn't put your foot in your mouth so often," A pause where she looked up at him and grinned, "And thanks for the backhanded compliment." She scrambled up on her knees and Jasper couldn't help but watch the way her legs shifted, and the muscles in her thighs contracted. He leaned over, picked up his drink and held it in his lap, thinking of hospitals, injections, doctors... and nurses. Sexy Bella nurses.
He dropped his head in his hands again, narrowly avoiding spilling his own water on his jeans in a most conspicuous place.
"You okay, Jazz Fantastic?" She asked softly, looking straight into his eyes and accounting for the bright pink flush that was all across his cheeks. "You look a little warm... you're not ill, are you? I'm not-" She ducked her head and rose, and when she looked at him next, her eyes were filled with worry and concern, "Sit there, I'll get you a cold flannel..."
"I'm fine, Bella, really." She shrugged and continued onto the doorway. "You don't have to-"
"I'm just being careful, Jasper, nothing wrong with that, is there?" She laughed lightly and grinned at him as he looked at her, "Just stay there, make yourself at home." She grinned again and walked down the hallway to the bathroom, silently calling herself an idiot, a moron, and feeling completely silly for feeling remotely turned on by that exchange.
Telling herself to pull it together, she stopped in the bathroom and ransacked her cupboard for a pair of hair-sticks and a band as she let the water run cool and dropped the flannel in. As she let the basin drain, she flicked her hair into a bun and grinned at herself in the mirror as she slightly adjusted the chopsticks in her hair and returned to her room, flannel in hand.
Jasper had his hands behind his head and his eyes closed as he was sitting comfortably, reclining against her pillows as he waited for Bella to come back. He heard her come in, and he felt the cool skin of her hand brush his forehead as the mattress dipped beside him and she flicked his hair away, lightly pressing the damp cloth to his forehead.
"Jasper?" She whispered quietly, "Are you awake?" He kept his eyes closed, though his mouth was running dry at her proximity to him. He could feel her breath against his cheek, but tried to ignore it, taking slow breaths as the mattress dipped away from him and he assumed she had risen, "Poor thing," She said to herself, "Must have been so tired... I probably asked too much of you on a Friday night, didn't I?" He heard a drawer open and blinked his eyes open quickly to see her searching through her drawers for something. He watched, barely keeping a sudden gasp suppressed as he saw her hair up in a definite-sexy-teacher bun, and her previously coffee-soaked shirt was hanging on the stool, leaving her in a bra and those short-shorts. He looked at her in the mirror slightly, and smiled as she saw him watching her, her face reddened, the dark flush spreading down to her neck and beyond.
She ducked her head and picked out an old t-shirt, tugging it over herself awkwardly and biting her bottom lip because she hadn't meant for him to see. She hadn't meant for him to realise she was about to change, and she hadn't meant to be half-clothed when he had opened his eyes. He smirked as he sat up fully and watched her, waiting for her to turn around.
"You're a demon harlot," Though his eyes were sparkling with mirth.
"I don't even know how old you are."
"Eighteen." He smiled at her, and her lips curved into a grin. "And you're nearly twenty three." She took a deep breath as he did the same, grinning up at her as he felt the atmosphere in the room change.
She sucked in a breath and took a single step forward at the same time as he knelt up on her bedspread. He was kneeling at her height. Her lips were level with his. They were inches apart. He watched her eyes close as she leaned in and he lifted his hand to her cheek as he stretched up.
"Bellaaaaah!" They practically exploded apart as the voice chimed in the background and Bella's flushed face told Jasper that this was not how she had expected to introduce him to whoever that was.
She buried her head in her hands and crouched down, resting on her heels as Jasper's hand found the space between her shoulder blades and his fingers massaged her gently, hoping she would calm down, and quickly, because he had no idea what to do.
"Bella? Who is that?" He asked as he swung his legs down from the bed, and pressed them to the floor. Quietly, she looked up at him, a deep blush in her cheeks and her eyes half-tearful, half embarrassed.
"Alice." She hissed, ducking again as the tinkling voice shrieked louder.
"BELLA!" There were almost thundering footsteps up the stairs, though the woman that appeared was less than five feet tall, Jasper was sure. Bella dropped to sit by his feet and rested her head against his knees, closing her eyes as he slid his fingers into her hair and lightly scratched her scalp. There was no question as to what they had been about to do, and that thought brought the pair of them a little more intimacy as they sat there, waiting to be discovered by Alice. "Bella, what're you – Oh! Hello!"
"Hi," Jasper nodded, "She's here." He pointed down toward Bella, and Alice's eyes grew to the size of saucepan as he realised exactly where he was pointing, "No! I don't mean... Bella, help me out here?"
"Sorry, Jasper, you're doing fine on your own." She intoned from where she was sitting on the floor. "Alice, this is Jasper, he lives next door. He was helping me put shelves up, and we were just gonna order dinner." She looked up at him and smiled weakly, mouthing an apology as he shrugged and smiled back at her, his hand squeezing her shoulder then offering to help her stand.
"Oh! I'm really sorry, Bella." She paused and ran a hand through her hair, "Edward said you might be lonely, and I just wondered if you wanted to watch a movie or something-"She shrugged, "I guess you're busy," Bella looked at the tiny woman and true to form, she was giving off the puppy-dog pout to end all puppy-dog pouts. "I'll just go..." She sing-songed sadly, giving jasper a forlorn look at the same time. "After driving all this way to see you..."
"Oh, Alice," Bella sighed, shaking her head and throwing herself onto her bed, narrowly avoiding the empty glasses they had been drinking over half an hour before. "I suppose there's room for three," She glanced over at Jasper, who nodded, "In my living room..."
The pair of them looked at each other and laughed, smiles lighting their faces and Alice quickly running across the room and jumping onto the bed, alighting neatly between Bella's feet, but with arms flailing, smacking Jasper lightly on the back.
"Hey! Alice!" Bella called, "No beating up the hotties." She winked and Alice laughed back at her.
"That means I'm out of bounds, but you're fresh meat, right, Bells?" Jasper joined in quickly, laughing as she pouted and crossed her arms over her chest.
"I think I should be offended by that." She said, when their laughter had finally subsided, "But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt," She laughed again, "By the way, Ali," the slight girl looked down at Bella and nodded, "How did you get in?"
She laughed and told her that in their haste to get upstairs, the duo must have left the door open, because it wasn't locked, and she took the liberty of shutting it behind her.
"Oh, well... alright." Bella laughed, but Jasper made a mental note to check every single room before he left tonight, just in case somebody had made their way in. "Dinner?"
"I'll be down in a minute, Bella," Jasper grinned as Alice made her way out of the door, but Bella hesitated, "but..." He stopped, unsure of what he was doing and really, really frightened about anything and everything that could lie ahead. "Come here?"
She complied, and he wrapped his arms around her, ducking his head and very slowly, very carefully pressed his lips to hers. She tasted like orange juice, he tasted like boy and home, and it scared them, because together, they had, even if they didn't know it, just crossed a line that had no way back.