A/N: Recently, I took part in a little mini-fic challenge with a few friends. The requirements were simple – meet the challenge in 1,000 words or less (not counting prompts). I chose to do a drabble arc for my challenge, which was Edward/Jasper AU slash. It wasn't easy, but it let me tell a story that has been building in my mind for the last year or so. I hope to write it out fully some day, but here is a little taste. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to ahizelm, chele681, einfach_mich, and naelany for giving me the push I needed to write this!

Note that this is slash, so don't read if you don't like this sort of thing.


Age

September 13, 2073

Her vacant, wrinkled face turns toward the sound of my voice. I watch as her eyes flicker.

It is not recognition I see, but confusion.

I want to weep. I swallow needlessly, venom drying in my throat. How could I have ever thought I was winning by convincing her to remain human?

"Happy birthday, Bella," I murmur, trying to keep my voice steady.

I fail.

"Who are you?" Her smile is sweet but indulgent.

My eyes squeeze shut, a human response I thought myself long past.

"Now, Miss Bella," the nurse chides. "You know Edward. Your grandson?"

Trial

February 20, 2189

The smooth ivory beneath my fingertips is the only solace I have known in the desolate century since I buried my Bella. I play ceaselessly, stopping only to hunt.

Edward.

My fingers fall on discordant keys; unnecessary breath catches in my throat.

I've not heard the tenor of that mind since the day I lowered my wife's body to her final resting place.

It is not welcome now.

The piano bench crashes to the floor as I stand, flashing to the door. The hinges protest, creaking from disuse, and I am faced with a broken soul.

Jasper.

Fate

"What the hell happened?" My voice is low, threatening.

I snatch the answers from his mind despite his attempts to block me. Volturi threat. Alice sneaking away. Alice, alone.

Purple smoke rising from Alice's pyre.

"Why weren't you there?" I roar.

Fury is in his crimson eyes. "You should have been there. She couldn't have kept it from you."

Accusations hurl through the still forest, rebounding and doubling, but it is the sound of guilt.

From both of us.

He shoves a bundle into my arms. "Here. From Alice."

His voice breaks, and he turns away.

"Wait," I whisper. "Stay."

Innocence

November 9, 2201

I trace today's date on Alice's latest letter. For a decade, Jasper and I have coexisted, guided by Alice's visions. I wonder what advice she has now.

The top flap of the envelope reads, Open if… but the mystery is explained when three smaller envelopes fall into my lap. One says, You love him, and I blink when I see, You're in love with him.

I toss them both to the side and open You don't love him.

Stop fooling yourself. Try again.

I laugh for the first time in over a century, feeling something like warmth.

Secret

I sit in the middle of my useless bed, buried beneath Alice's letters as Jasper hunts. His eyes have regained their golden hue; I need to know why I keep thinking of them. The answers must be here.

I reread, poring through every word Alice wrote. I contemplate opening ones I'm not supposed to yet, but she knew that and wrote that I shouldn't.

I pull my hair in frustration.

And confusion.

And desire.

I saw it last night in Jasper's thoughts. Just a flash. My lips and his, mixed with ancient memories of another man.

What does it mean?

Guilt

I keep a tight rein on my guilt, cloaking it in indifference so that he won't wonder at its sudden spike.

How could I want him? How could I think of his lips, his hard body pressing against mine when a century has not erased the memory of Bella's touch?

How could I fantasize about an impossibility I never considered?

And how could I even entertain any of these thoughts when he grieves for my sister?

I am a monster.

Yet… I can't ignore the way I creep into his thoughts, the way his desire sometimes flares and then ebbs.

Stars

March 24, 2202

In the spring, wait for the first cloudless night after the equinox. Snow will still be on the ground. Go look at the stars.

Some of Alice's letters have become more vague the further into the future she reaches. This one is clear, if cryptic.

I listen.

Stepping out the back door, I see Jasper standing with his hands on the railing, his eyes on the sky.

I feel it, feel the pull when I study his profile, and I have to speak into the hush.

I step beside him. "I know," I whisper.

"You know what?"

Checkmate

"You're wrong," he denies flatly, but it's there in his head.

I tell him so.

"It's you. It's your fault," he retorts. "Do you think I can't feel your… lust? It's always there."

It all slams into me as his control slips – confusion, grief, anger, guilt, desire, passion… hope. I close my eyes, absorbing the blow.

When I open them, he is watching. "I never wanted…" I murmur and then try again. "It was there, Jasper, in your thoughts. It made me look at you differently, made me see…"

His mind is in turmoil; all I can do is wait.

Hope

"Jasper," I breathe. I can hear the difference, the way my voice tentatively caresses his name.

His eyes meet mine; I watch as he crumbles, his armor falling away. I'm stunned by the complexity of his thoughts – the guilt, the self-recrimination, the blinding pain for Alice… the hope of holding me.

I take a shallow breath, taste him on the air, and relax, struggling against the impulse to shield my emotions.

He inhales sharply. For me?

"For you," I whisper.

I miss her.

"I miss my wife, too."

He nods and closes his eyes.

Sympathy, both in thought and feeling.

Align

He takes the first step, and I watch as he moves at human speed. He stops in front of me, only inches away.

I don't hide my panic.

But neither do I hide the sheer want I feel.

A smile flickers on his face, settling there when I reach up to cup his cheek. It's been so long since I've felt this tingling of nervous anticipation. I let him feel that, too.

Yes, Edward, he answers my unspoken question.

I tilt my head as he lowers his, our lips brushing gently. I sigh softly as his arms wrap around me.