**IMPORTANT**: I listed the last chapter and the epilogue at the same time. Make sure you're reading this only after you've read Chapter 15.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, they own me.

Two Years Later

There was no denying that Italy was gorgeous.

Peter Damon had worked his ass off since he was a teenager to earn the life he was currently living. Six months previous, his company had opened an office in Italy. As one of their top people, and an Italian speaker to boot, he'd been a shoe-in for this promotion.

He had a corner office. With a view.

Peter's company had bought out a smaller, independently run company in the city of Volterra. Currently, Peter's main job was working with the company's old owner, Aro Scarpinato, to assure a mutually beneficial, profitable transition.

But it was Aro's son, Demetri, who caught Peter's attention.

It wasn't just because Demetri was a natural leader. He commanded a room; he had a way of speaking that demanded everyone listen. He was naturally charming when handling accounts. He was firm, yet fair with the people under him. He was good at his job - driven to succeed and always met a challenge with gusto. At 28, he reminded Peter a lot of himself.

And fuck if he didn't look tasty in the Italian designer suits he wore.

That wasn't all that caught Peter's attention and held it. No, what really got under his skin - in that heated, titillating way - was the little things.

Demetri almost always seemed to choose the seat directly across from him during meetings. Peter would be listening to this report or that and suddenly would feel heat on his cheeks. A glance out of his peripheral vision would show that Demetri was looking up from under his eyelashes, a light smirk painting his features when he noticed Peter was looking back.

At first, Peter ignored it, sure he was seeing things.

Then Demetri stepped up his game. Pretending he was paying rapt attention, the Italian man would run the capped tip of his pen over his lips when he was sure Peter was watching. To everyone else he merely looked like he was caught up in whatever the speaker was talking about, but Peter couldn't help but think he did it on purpose.

Well, Demetri wasn't the only one who knew exactly how to use body language to get what he wanted. Peter started playing the game, stepping it up a notch. He would come up behind the slightly younger man, clapping him on the shoulder but letting his hand slide down his arm. He would lean into Demetri's personal space, innocently claiming a need for something just out of his reach.

And he would accidentally breathe gently into Demetri's ear when he did it.

"Mr. Damon, I was wondering if you had a few minutes to look over this report," Demetri approached him one afternoon, his alluring, accented voice unassumingly soft and gentlemanly.

"Hmmm," Peter pretended to consider it. "I don't know, Mr. Scarpinato," he said slowly, looking at his watch. "It doesn't seem like a report that takes only a few minutes would be very thorough. Perhaps you should reconsider your approach."

Demetri's ice blue eyes flashed with surprise before he calmed them into the easy going, invitingly open look he usually maintained. "I'm quite sure you won't be disappointed, Mr. Damon," he said in a low voice.

Peter regarded him, completely poised on the outside though his heart was threatening to pound out of his chest.

It had been so long since anyone, male or female, had made him feel so raw with energy and want. Oh, he had been with others since Jasper, but none for long, and none that had exuded a sexual presence that invaded Peter's every sense.

After what seemed like ages he nodded once at Demetri. "As it happens, I have the afternoon free," he said easily as he held the door to his office open."

Demetri walked through it at a practiced, slow gait, but the instant Peter had shut the door his measured demeanor slipped away. His hands grasped at Peter's waist, pulling the other man against him. His lips were hard and demanding. His body pinned Peter against the wall.

Then there was the scramble of hands tugging at belts, pulling at buttons, and tugging off clothes while they struggled to remain connected in some way.

They tasted and explored with hands and tongues and limbs twisted together.

Eventually, they both lay on the office's couch in varying states of undress, loosely tangled together and breathing hard.

"That was..." Demetri began, but trailed off.

"Ill advised?" Peter supplied, but his voice was gentle when he said it.

"Mmm." Demetri assented. They were both smarter than to think what they'd just done was the best course of action.

Not that either of them particularly regretted it.

They dressed and they talked - for hours.

Peter told Demetri about Jasper.

After that night, when Jasper had turned Peter down, he had told him, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know we could have something... sensational, Peter. But you and I, we've always been about wrong timing, and not knowing what we really need." He'd sighed, a little helpless.

"Look, I'll understand if you never do...but if you want to talk, really talk about why, text me. E-mail me. Whatever, I promise I'll answer this time." He had smiled, a sad smile with his full of wanting. Peter could see that Jasper wanted to touch him then, but he made a fist and jammed his hands into his pockets. "I am sorry, Peter."

It took Peter almost three months to text Jasper. Then, a month after that, he was in Chicago on business and agreed to meet with his former lover over lunch. He'd pushed aside the ache, because it still hurt quite a bit to see Jasper and not be able to touch him, and he asked for the rest of the story.

Jasper told him how Edward had not said a word about being together after that morning. Instead, he acted like the friend that he was. He sometimes went to see the band on Fridays but made sure to sit at the table with all of them, not just Jasper. He called every once in a while to ask if Jasper wanted to go to this event or that gallery, but he always made sure he tacked on "As a friend," to the end of his invitation so that there were no questions.

He wasn't waiting. He'd even gone on a date or two. But Edward was right when he'd said not a lot of people appealed to him in general. He was never impressed with his dates.

Jasper had started to think about the difference between Texas and Chicago. He knew it was true, what Edward had said before, that different areas tended to have different attitudes. Atmosphere and conditioning he'd called it.

Jasper could see that Edward struggled with the closed minded politics that the polite, laid back demeanor of many Texans didn't sit quite well with the younger man. It wasn't that the people of Texas were stupid. Many just preferred simplicity. Edward did not. Edward preferred to discuss and debate, in a respectful manner. He preferred to think about things.

Without a doubt, Jasper knew that Texas wouldn't hold Edward for long.

Four months after their last night together, Jasper called Edward and, feeling ridiculously nervous, invited the other man to a restaurant he wanted to try in Austin.

"As friends?" Edward had asked after a long pause.

"Friends...on a date," Jasper had responded.

Their relationship was good, strong, loving. He loved Edward well. "It's not the same, you know...as with you," Jasper told Peter. "I don't love him the same way I loved you."

It was like this. Jasper said he was still young, but he'd been in love three times in his short life. The way he figured it, it was possible for one person to love an infinite number of times in an infinite number of ways. What eluded a lot of couples was the fact that love was not all you needed in life.

The way Jasper had loved Alec was as natural as breathing. It was something that was fated - written into his life before he was even born. When he'd seen Alec for the first time, he'd fallen in love instantly. It wasn't attraction - lust. It was love, pure and true.

And look how that turned out.

Alice hadn't left him because their love wasn't strong enough. Jasper said that he could understand that now. Alice had left him because it wasn't all she needed. Everyone needed more than just love to have a full, happy life.

Loving Peter, Jasper said, was like climbing a mountain. God - it was exhilarating at the top. The view was unparalleled – the most magnificent thing you'd ever see in your life. But it was the kind of love that could kill you if you weren't equipped, just like the mountains were deadly to the ill advised. The unforgiving stone could easily tear your skin and leave your body cut and broken.

That's what it felt like, Jasper said, when Peter had called him that terrible name, and again when Peter had said, in so many words, loving Jasper wasn't worth the risk involved. He felt like he was tumbling down a mountain being torn to pieces before he was dashed on sharp, craggy rock.

He told Peter not to apologize. In so many ways, it was better that he had said no to begin with. He said that neither of them had been prepared to survive.

Jasper had thought he was strong enough, like the hikers that started up the mountain without supplies thinking they were stronger than nature. It had taken him weeks and then months of introspection to realize that he never could have been what Peter needed anymore than Peter could have been what he needed. Oh, loving Peter would have been the highest of highs – but what would their lives outside each other be?

Peter didn't have the strength Jasper needed to draw him out of a shell that he hadn't even realized he'd crawled into.

How could Jasper have taught Peter to be proud and confident when he was so insecure himself?

On the other hand, there was the way that he loved Edward. His love for Edward was like a mountain lake on a summer day. The waters were tranquil, with gentle waves lapping easily against rounded, pebbled rocks. Maybe it wasn't as breathtaking as being on top of the mountain, but there was a great beauty in the way the lake turned the surrounding land deep shades of green.

They were good for each other – he and Edward. On top of building and strengthening their own relationship, Edward had exposed Jasper to so many interests outside of them. Where Peter had never questioned that Jasper had his work and his music, Edward encouraged him to step outside that bubble.

Jasper had discovered a deep rooted passion for learning. It was something he'd almost forgotten about himself. When he was a boy, school had been exciting. He'd been an eager learner. All of that had been pushed aside after his hormones kicked in and life got too confusing. He'd effectively dropped out of school when his father had kicked him out of the house, and he'd left Houston for Austin. Even though he'd gone back and finished his degree some years later, he hadn't even thought about college or anything like that. Edward, just by virtue of the way he lived his own life, had opened his mind to a world of possibilities. Jasper found himself wondering if maybe there was something more fulfilling out there than teaching self-defense.

Now that he was learning to deal with the innate terror and paranoia that his father had literally beaten into him, Jasper was finding out that he had accidentally clung to too many labels. He wasn't just a singer. He wasn't just a teacher. There was so much more out there for him.

He and Edward were alike in that way. They were rewriting who they thought they were. They were well matched – each of their strengths compensating for where the other was weak.

"Won't you get bored just ...sitting by the lake?" Peter had asked, trying to keep hurt and incredulity out of his voice.

Jasper had smiled in that way of his – that smile that made Peter want to beg for another chance, even then. He'd smiled and said that sometimes you needed love to be steady because life already had all the excitement you could ask for.

He said, though, that even after all the pain, he would never, ever regret Peter. Then he continued, saying that, even if it seemed like it, it hadn't been an easy choice - deciding, once and for all, that they shouldn't be together.

It had taken two years and a lot of bitterness, but Peter could genuinely say that he didn't regret meeting Jasper.

"Are you still in contact with him?" Demetri asked.

Peter smiled. "We e-mail from time to time. He likes Chicago a great deal." He chuckled, and the fondness was easy to read on his face. "He told me recently that he understands my passion for my work a lot better now. He said that he never could quite wrap his head around how a job was such a huge factor in why I denied the love we could have had. But he does a lot of work for one of the history museums out there now, and he says he can't imagine losing that."

Demetri nodded in agreement. "Losing this," he gestured around the office, "would be losing a large part of who you are."

"Exactly," Peter agreed.

Then Demetri told his story. He spoke of his older brother, Felix, and how Felix was all that was man. He was broad where Demetri was slender, muscled where Demetri was merely nicely cut, completely masculine in demeanor where Demetri was refined - or you could call it metrosexual. He had a wife and two beautiful children.

Though he didn't say it directly, Demetri always got the same message from his father: Why can't you be more like your brother?

He didn't know what his father would think about his type. "People with dangly bits," Peter inserted, fondly remembering Jasper's description.

He certainly understood Peter's lingering fears about what it would mean for them - personally and professionally.

They both left the office with much to think about.

It was a couple of weeks later that Peter picked up the phone to find Demetri on the other line. There was a lecture being held at the University nearby and he knew of a fantastic little restaurant that they could have dinner in beforehand.

"As friends?" Peter asked, timid but wanting.

"Friends...on a date," Demetri had responded.

In his corner office with a view, Peter leaned back in his chair and smiled widely. "Yes. I'd like that."

A/N: And so we've come to the end of our tale. This was always the way it was going to end. I know the pairing said Jasper/Peter but that's because it was their story - not because they were going to end up together. They never were. I wrote OFF originally as a o/s but I always knew that this is how my boys were going to end up.

This fic would not he been possible without the support of jadedandboring, conversed, josieswan, bmango and the generous contributions of viewers like you.

What? Can't get enough of me? Lol. Current or upcoming projects you might be interested in (otherwise known as Kris has Fic ADHD)

Parenthetical Love - canon E/B. N/c everyone else (Peter and Jasper are a couple here)

My Life Extended - Jasper/Bella

The Swan Curse (name tentative) with tellingmelies - All canon but come on. Jasper and Bella are gonna be PIRATES and Edward is gonna be the governor's son. BWAH. Fun. Oh, it's a Pirates crossover. Jasper is Jack's son. Captain Jackson Sparrow anyone? (Will be available on tellingmelies' profile)

Notes on the Fridge with Conversed - Emmett/Jasper - PS...if you have not read the marvelousness that is anything that Conversed writes...get on that. Even Twinned is slashy, though it's innocent slashy... and it's amazing. (Will be available on Conversed's profile)

Let me know peoples. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Either way, thank you so much for taking this journey with me.