Entry For The Plot Bunny Contest
Story Name: A Night in Vienna
Word Count (not including header/author's note): 9806
To see other entries in the Plot Bunny Contest, please visit the following C2:
Plot Bunny: Edward, Seth, Jasper & Emmett are in a touring band together. Two of the four end up hooking up. How/why/when is up to you!
A/N: The big a/n will be at the bottom, but just to start: The idea that formed around this bunny sprung up after watching Before Sunrise. Hence the setting and the 'one day' time frame. I hope you enjoy!
p.s. Edward's Irish 'cause I like him that way. It starts off with his point of view.
The constant clinking of an abandoned beer bottle rolling along the floor woke me from my not-so-sound sleep. My neck was cricked at an odd angle and my feet were propped up on someones legs, though I didn't know whose since it was so dark in the back of the van.
Where were we? Hamburg? Munich?
Squinting my eyes out past the rain covered windows, I tried to make out a passing street sign, but everything was blurred from the rain and the speed at which we were cruising.
With a grunt, I shifted so that I could no longer see the windshield, and extended my long limbs further on top of whomever I was using as a prop pillow. I always hated when Emmett drove. He couldn't comprehend the meaning of the phrase 'speed limit' even if you explained it to him with pie charts and a spreadsheet.
My pillow moaned in his sleep and turned on the seat, his face falling into my lap. My body jerked with surprise, so not appreciating the headbutt to the nuts my bandmate just gave me. But Jasper—who I could now see clearly, what with his head of greasy, dark blond hair in my lap and all—didn't wake, and instead snaked his arms around my waist as he nuzzled his face into my stomach.
I felt like kneeing him in the balls, but since my knee was not positioned at the appropriate angle, I had to give up on that pipe dream. Besides, I didn't have the energy to shove him away, or to even find it in myself to care that the wanker currently drooling on me almost gave me a black eye the day before. Instead, I dropped my head back against the seat and tried to let sleep take me once again before I had to listen to Emmett abuse the gear shift any longer.
We woke to the sounds of the guitar cases and luggage being unloaded from the back while Emmett barked at us in his booming voice. Jasper shoved at me when he realized what position he was in, and I couldn't help but laugh at his one rosy cheek, imprinted with fabric lines from my shirt, as he wiped at his mouth and ran a hand through his hair. He looked disheveled and embarrassed, and it made me smile all the more. The word schadenfreude came to mind.
"Enjoy your nap?"
"Shut it." He pushed my legs off the seat as he stood and stalked out towards the hotel, lighting up as he went. Seth gave him a once over before handing him his guitar case, and turning his eyes back towards me. I shrugged and climbed out onto the sidewalk, happy to smell something other than the stank air of that rickety old van.
Later that morning our manager, Billy Black, phoned to inform the band that our e-tickets for Barcelona would be with the desk clerk at the hotel. We'd only crashed onto our newly adopted beds not ten minutes before; each one of us was more bleary-eyed than the last. Needless to say, it was a short phone call.
Not remembering the name of the city we were in, or even caring, I sank my body into the soft, down blanket of the bed the second I entered my room. I breathed in deep, enjoying the vanilla, lavender, fig, flowery, what-ever-the-fuck scent that had been used on the sheets. Having toured for months with three hygiene challenged boys, the chance to sleep in a clean bed every now and again was a luxury. Not to mention the bathroom that called to me from across the room like a siren luring me with the promise of hot water and fresh, individually packed soap that I in no way had to share.
Soiling a clean bed would be a real shame, I thought as I dragged my ass off the blankets and towards the gleaming white tile and chrome.
Peeling off my jeans was a scary experience. When I looked down at their worn, haggard appearance, I wondered when the last time was that they'd been washed. I soaked them in the sink while I stood for what felt like an hour under the hot spray of the shower head, letting the water wash away the grime and the grit of the road, soothing my sore muscles and helping to release the tension I felt everywhere in my body. My right hand also helped out with that last bit, though, I was too tired to put any real effort into it.
The phone in my room rang as I plopped down on the bed, wet hair dripping into my eyes, and towel sagging on my hips. I figured it'd be Emmett or Seth giving me an update on where or when we were going to grab some food. Jasper and I had been fighting since our show back in Dublin...
Christ, was that an awful night. Jasper hadn't talked me since, except to curse or bitch or throw a punch.
Needless to say, when I picked up the phone and heard none other than Jasper's voice on the line, I fell off the bed. Literally.
"What was that thud?" Jasper asked.
"Nuttin'. Something in the hall," I gritted out, rubbing my ass.
"Huh. We're heading out in twenty. Meet us in the lobby."
Jasper hung up the phone before I could even agree or say thanks for the call. I dropped the receiver to the floor and leaned back on the bed, contemplating how one of my closest friends for the past six years and I could have gotten to this point. We had started the band together, sat for days in my flat strumming up lyrics to songs, roomed together, found Billy to manage us...the bloody tour was even Jasper's idea!
With a grunt, I leaned back on the bed and tried to pinpoint in my memory exactly where my best friend became the man who now spoke to me in only monosyllabic sentences.
If it wasn't for my eejit friends back in Dublin and their bloody quips, maybe Jasper and I wouldn't be plotting out ways to kill each other with guitar straps. I always had a good time with the boys from Uni, but there really is a time and place for certain behavior, and sometimes after ten or twelve pints, the whole idea of tact just flies out the fucking window.
Such was the case on the night after our last show in Dublin. We'd met up with a bunch of lads from my short-lived university days during a celebratory pub crawl. I'd been plastered to Jasper's side the entire night, with one arm slung over his shoulder as we toasted our sold-out success in my favorite city. But, when the boys started talking shit, things went downhill. Fast.
Jasper didn't see their jabs as funny each time they'd make a remark about how close we stood on stage, how many times Jasper would lean into me, or how often we'd play off each other during a song. I was used to their somewhat relentless humor, and easily shrugged it off; celebrating was more important. I thought the same for Jasper, as he sat next to me in a booth, taking each thinly veiled joke with a smile and a slow nod of his head. He was sipping at a glass of Jameson and keeping up with their taunts like a pro the entire night. It was only after we parted from my severely inebriated school mates did his carefully constructed facade show any sign of wear.
Emmett, forever trying to be the group's mediator, piped up during our walk back to the hotel. The silence had become deafening, since Jasper wouldn't speak, and I was too wrapped up in my own head contemplating what those damn boys meant to say anything.
"Fun friends you got, Eddy. Eh?" He was trying to make light of situation, but he was failing. Miserably.
"They're a bunch of piss artists. I hadn't seen 'em since Uni, and now I know why."
I turned to look at Jasper beside me, only to realize that he'd stopped several paces back. Stress was evident in his stance. His jaw was taut and his fists were clenched. He was barely containing whatever storm was brewing inside him.
"You don't look fine," Emmett said. Seth, the ever silent observer attempted to place a consoling hand on Jasper's shoulder. He shrugged it off and stalked down a side street. We all followed.
"Where are you going?" Emmett asked.
"I just thought I'd take a different route back. Keep some distance between Edward and I, you know. Wouldn't want to insult anyone."
"They were shitfaced, Jas. They thought they were being funny," I repeated.
"Funny? Did any of us actually laugh tonight?"
"Why are you so bothered by this?"
"Why are you not bothered by it?"
"Because. They're just a bunch of wankers. I deal and I move on."
"Great. Well, clearly I don't deal as well as you do."
"Look. We're all knackered. Let's head back and sleep."
"You go. I'm gonna walk for a bit."
"Do you even know where you are?"
"Sure, I do," he said as he looked around without the slightest clue of his whereabouts.
I scoffed at him, folding my arms across my chest, and before I knew it, Jasper came flying at me.
"You're laughing now, too?"
He was inches from my face. I tried to put my hands on his arms to move him back, but he shirked my grip and stepped further towards me. Forcing me back, his anger unrelenting.
"Jasper," I breathed, stunned from seeing such emotion come out of him.
"Too close for you?"
I couldn't respond to that.
"Jasper," Seth finally spoke up, warning clear in his voice.
"What?" Jasper spat. Seth raised up his hands.
"Let's just take a step back for a minute."
"Yeah," I agreed. "Take a step back and calm the fuck down."
Jasper whipped back towards me. His fist connected with my stomach before I even realized what was happening, and I fell forward as all the air escaped my lungs in a pathetic wheeze. Jasper stepped back as I slid down his body, shoving me away when I tried to grab onto his sweatshirt to keep from tumbling. I crumpled without Jasper's support, hitting the cobblestone street with a wet thud.
"Now I'm calm."
He walked off then, and I let him go, too pissed and hurt to do anything else except curl into a ball in the puddle he'd left me in. I could hear Emmett running after him as Seth's long black hair pooled over me like a cape, his concerned face coming into view above me. I grimaced at the sight and turned away, not needing to see the understanding in his eyes. It made whatever just happened between Jasper and I seem too real, too weighted with meaning.
Whatever it had been, it'd been something I wasn't ready to accept. Something I wasn't even ready to comprehend.
When Emmett returned to the hotel that night, a plastered Jasper slung over his shoulder with a bloody nose and busted lip, I didn't even ask what had happened. I went back to the room I shared with Seth and fell onto the bed. Whatever snapped in Jasper that night had forever altered our relationship, causing a rift that I didn't know how to even begin to fix.
A loud banging interrupted my memory and I turned to look at the clock on the nightstand. It'd been a full half hour since Jasper's call.
"Shit." I jumped up off the floor and ran to throw on some clothes.
"Come onnnnn!" Emmett whined through the door while simultaneously hammering his fist into the wood. The boy had no sense of the word patience, but considering the fact that he was our drummer, I had to give him props for staying on the beat.
Ten seconds and Emmett was banging again. I sighed, resigned to the fact that I was going to need a lot of alcohol in order to deal with his uppity ass. It was only after the thirteenth shot I had at whatever pub we'd happen to stumble into later that night, did I realize I might not remember a few things come morning. When I woke up on the floor in a strange room with someone's boxers in my face, I knew I'd gone one drink too far. Maybe five.
"Jaysus." I rubbed my hands over my face, while turning away from the offending fabric I'd used as a pillow. My head ached, my body ached, my fucking eyes ached. Everything felt dried out and banged up. I'd become the human equivalent of an old Volkswagen left out in the rain to rust.
Someone groaned and I dragged my body up into a sitting position to investigate. Apparently, I wasn't alone.
"Jasper?" I croaked out. He turned slightly on the bed in front of me, his face coming into view just as I read the time on the clock on the nightstand.
"SHIT!" I jumped up, holding my head in my hands as I went. My body so wasn't agreeing with the fast paced movement, but it was apparently eleven o'clock in the morning, and our flight had been scheduled for eight. "Jasper, get up!"
Why, oh why was I yelling? Christ. Ow.
"Yeah, it's me."
"The fuck. You're in my room?"
"Nice. Morning to you too. Dick."
I slammed the door on my way out, not caring if Jasper realized that we most definitely had missed our flight. My head felt like a pin cushion being stuck with a never ending supply of needles as I trudged back to my room, becoming more incensed with each step.
Who the hell left me on the floor like that all night? More importantly, why the fuck had no one woken us? Didn't Emmett and Seth realize they were two band mates short of a full load? I mean, I knew Emmett was always one pair of tits away from distraction, so this kind of shit was expected from him. But Seth? He was the most observant person I knew, second only to Jasper. How did he let this get past him? Nothing got past Seth.
When I finally found my room after wandering tiny hallways with my hand permantly attached to my hair in confusion, I plopped down next to the night stand to check the service for messages; I needed answers. There were three voicemails waiting for me from Billy, Seth, and Emmett by the time I got through the menu. Christ, was this a royal fuckup.
Emmett's message was loud and indiscernible through the phone. Seth's was apologetic and not very forthcoming. And Billy's...Billy was the last person I wanted to hear from and the only one who had any answers: a necessary evil. I pressed the phone to my ear in concentration and prepared myself for the verbal tongue lashing that was about to befall me.
"'Morning Edward. Change of plans it seems, since neither you nor Jasper are here at the airport with us. I've scheduled you a new flight for tomorrow. The desk clerk has your train and e-tickets, and we have your bags. The only problem is that come noon, you're checked out of that hotel. Sorry bout that, but last minute scheduling and all. Hope you and Jasper can work something out. See you in a day or two." Click.
What. The. Fuck?
He wasn't mad. In fact, he sounded apologetic. Concerned even. And did he say noon? By noon we had to be out of here? Until tomorrow? Billy just left his two guitarists stranded on the streets of Vienna for a day?
I bent myself in two and put my head in between my knees. Jasper and I had less than an hour to get out of this place, and had only what was left in our pockets for the rest of the time we were stuck in this city. Vagabonds. Beatniks. It might seem poetic if I hadn't been so utterly burnt from the previous night.
I groaned into my hands. Jasper would kill me when he found out, and I had to tell him. I'd pull myself together and find some coffee first. I was going to need major caffeine to deal with the asshat Jasper was going to be today.
. . .
Rolling over in bed, I reached out blindly for the clock on the nightstand. When I read what time it was on the little screen, I threw the damn thing across the room with a growl. "Fuck!"
11:45AM. Our flight had been scheduled for way earlier than that. I couldn't remember exactly what time, since my head felt like I'd pounded it against concrete all night, but I knew it was early, earlier than eleven-fucking-forty-five.
A knock sounded at my door the next second, and I begrudgingly slumped out of bed to answer it. But when I wrenched the door open, ready to kill whoever was on the other side, I was met with empty air. There was no sign of life at all except a note at my feet.
We have to be out of here by noon. Billy and the guys have our bags, and we have a flight scheduled for tomorrow morning. Early. We're on our own till then.
I'll meet you in the lobby.
I crumbled the paper in my fist and threw it back out into the hall before slamming the door. Fifteen fucking minutes. He couldn't have woken me sooner? And what's with the note? Was he too scared to face me?
I fell back onto the bed, exhausted, and sick of my own frustration. I'd been treating Edward like shit since Dublin and I knew it. My anger just wouldn't abate. I hated feeling this worked up, this hostile all the time, but seeing him just brought back all those memories from that night. Those idiots made me doubt my friendship with Edward, made me feel guilty for being as close as we were, as if it was something sordid and wrong. And now, the only way I knew how to treat him was with anger, too scared to get close to him again.
It physically hurt to see him and not joke with him, be near him, touch him. Christ, I hadn't put my hands on him in weeks unless it was to try and get a swing at him.
I missed my friend.
A whimper escaped my sore throat and I quickly righted myself, scrubbing my face with my hands as I went. Enough of this wallowing in self-pity—I had ten minutes to get out of here, and I really needed a fucking shower.
. . .
I bounced on my heels, bit my nails, and worked my hands through my hair so much in the short time I had to wait for Jasper, I'm pretty sure the desk clerk thought I had drugs shoved up my asshole or something. I gave her a bright smile a few times that seemed to help, but she still watched me. It only made me more anxious.
At least she'd agreed to hold onto our tickets for us. I didn't want to risk taking them out into the city, in case our luck just kept on coming and we got robbed or something equally unfortunate.
It just seemed to be that kind of day.
When Jasper showed up in the lobby it was past noon, and we were on borrowed time. He carried a ratty notebook curled up in his left hand, and his wallet chain swung back and forth, dangling off his hip. I only had a couple of guitar picks, a few Euros, and my passport to my name. My wallet had been in my bags; the same bags that were now living the high life in Barcelona with Billy, Seth and Emmett. In other words, if I wanted to eat today, I'd have to mooch off Jasper.
"Do we at least get breakfast outta this place?" Jasper asked in lieu of a proper greeting. I snorted.
"Yeah. We would'a if we'd gotten up on time."
"Fucking..." he paused mid curse, his jaw set. "Fine. Let's just go." With that, he brushed past me, his body coming into contact with mine for mere seconds. Our hands grazed each others as he passed, and I jumped from the static shock that occurred. Jasper was oblivious.
I snatched a few guide maps from the front desk before following Jasper out onto the streets. If he was going to sulk all day, he was going to do it while seeing something interesting. No point in not exploring the city.
"I'm not going sight-seeing with you. This isn't a vacation," he snapped the second he saw the maps. I quirked an eyebrow at him.
"It's not, but what else are we gonna do?"
"Nothing? Wait? I don't know."
"You got a better idea?"
I laughed and held up the maps. Jasper turned on his heel and walked in the opposite direction.
"Where are you going?"
"Let's just try to not hate everything about each other for one day. Please."
Jasper stopped. His shoulders were hunched and his fists were clenched. I braced myself for the punch I knew was coming.
"What the hell is there in this town to see?"
"Um..." I scrambled, running my hand through my hair and trying to open up a guide pamphlet before he could take off again. "Coffee houses. There's a music venue near by, I think." I turned the map in my hands and squinted. Christ, there were a lot of streets.
"Fuck it. Never mind. Let's just walk."
I looked up, skeptical. "You sure?"
"Yeah. I mean, it's all old. Who cares."
He had a point.
Twenty minutes later, we were lost, sweaty from the heat of the day, and in desperate need of coffee. We hadn't come across any coffee bars or cafés, which I found incredibly ironic considering we were in fucking Vienna. Didn't they create coffee bars? What we had seen were dozens of little Italian Gelato parlors, just to add to the surreal nature of the city, as if we weren't discombobulated enough.
"Not enjoying myself," Jasper grumbled, after he'd stubbed his toe on a bit of cobblestone. I'd stopped to wash my hands in a small fountain, only to have an old lady scowl at me.
"Maybe if you weren't so fucking negative, you'd have a better experience." His brooding was wearing on me.
"Fuck you, okay? You could have woken me up."
"You blame me for passing out and not getting up on time? Pot meet kettle, asshole."
"You didn't have to drink so much last night."
I pffted at him. "Yeah, I did."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means it's hard to spend any amount of time around you without having the aid of alcohol in my system."
"Nice. That's not a dick thing to say at all."
"You treat me like shit, Jasper. How else am I supposed to handle it?"
"I do not treat you like shit!" He sounded indignant. I snorted; it only made Jasper more incensed and he lunged at me. I dodged him and he fell hard on the ground. Before I could think, I was hovering over him, worried that he'd hurt himself. He shoved me off the second he felt my hands on him.
"Get off me!" I jumped back as if I'd been burned.
Fine, I was done. I tried, but I was done. He'd shat on me enough, it was now my turn. I threw a map on the ground and turned without even looking behind me. The fucker needed a way to get back to our hotel for tomorrow, and I wasn't so far gone with my anger that I'd leave my best friend (ha!) stranded in a foreign city. No, our band mates had already done that, and once was enough for the both of us.
I walked until the sting of his rejection settled in my gut like a bad meal. I walked until my feet ached and my head no longer swam with thoughts of him. I walked until I didn't know where I was or didn't care. I walked until I collapsed on a bench, broke down and cried.
. . .
I watched him walk away with a pulling in my chest, as if he were tugging me along behind him by an invisible leash. The thought sickened me, but as much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn't. And the fact that he could just walk away without so much as a backwards glance killed me. I had turned my back on him, though, and now I knew how it felt.
Picking up the pamphlet he'd thrown on the ground, I read over what he'd left me: a map of the city. He'd left me a map despite his anger, and it only broke me more. I sat down hard against the fountain he'd just washed his hands in and closed my eyes. My head hurt too much to deal with the emotional pain he'd just inflicted on me. All I wanted was to be back in Dublin, to say sorry to him, to hold him instead of punch him. To talk to him instead of walking away, but I didn't, and I'd just lost him because of it.
Hours passed and I wandered the city, not straying too far from the fountain in the square where he'd left me. The depressing knowledge that Edward and I were no longer just separated by mental boundaries, but physical ones, weighed on me like a burden too heavy to carry.
At one point, I thought I saw him in a crowd on a large boulevard, his bronze hair glinting in the sun. I took off towards the enigma in the massive street, only to lose him once he'd turned down a side alley, vanishing from my view. I followed him, chased him, but to no avail, he was gone.
When I'd tried to find my way back through the winding streets to the fountain in the square, and didn't recognize my surroundings, I panicked. I needed to find it, it was my only tether to him, but it was a lost cause. No matter how hard I looked at the map, no matter how hard I ran, I couldn't find that little square. Finding that fountain was my last scrap of hope against not breaking down. I attempted to backtrack one last time, only to drag myself deeper into the confusion. The fountain was nowhere in sight and I gave up, slumping against a wall, defeated.
Closing my eyes, I let the emotion pull me under, blanketing me in its crushing weight. It felt hard to breathe, so I curled myself into a pathetic ball. Alone, crying and lost in a city I didn't know, without my friend, and with no place to go.
"You won't find him here."
My head shot up, and I looked at who'd spoken: A gypsy woman, with bangles on her wrists and scarves wrapped around her hair. She smelled of incense and with the heat of the day, it was dizzying. I blinked back at her, confused and disoriented by her sudden appearance.
"You won't find him here," she repeated, before sighing and pointing a jagged, ring covered finger to her left. "Donaukanal."
I followed with my eyes to where her finger lead, but when I looked back, she was gone. Only shadows laid in her wake.
Standing without knowing why, I walked in the direction the gypsy woman had pointed, my speed picking up as I went. Soon, I was running, needing to find something to ground me, pull me back to where things made sense and my world revolved correctly on its axis. I needed to find Edward.
. . .
I woke with a start as if someone had shocked me. Rubbing my face, I looked around, wondering where I was and how I'd gotten there; it all felt like a bad dream. But seeing the red clay on rooftops and the cobblestone beneath my feet reminded me of where I was, and how I'd gotten there: The fight, Jasper, walking away.
I'd walked away from Jasper.
Newly reoriented, and fully peeved with myself over my ardent stupidity, I sniffled away the last of my tears, stood up, brushed off my pants, and pulled out a map. Fuck this wallowing shit, I was going to keep myself busy. Distraction was key. It'd be my main theme of the day: Keep myself distracted from worrying about Jasper, from wondering where Jasper was, if he was okay, hungry, sad, angry...I groaned and looked at the map harder.
I wound myself out of a small back court to a boulevard named Donaukanal-Bundesstraße. Not that I could pronounce it, or anything. It was wide and open, and ran along a winding waterway; it reminded me of Paris. People milled around smiling, sipping coffee, going about their day, and all I could see in any of their faces was Jasper, hoping to find him in one of them.
Shaking my head, I looked down at the map and walked on. And on, and on it seemed. I had wanted to cross one of the several bridges I'd passed to the other side of the water but an odd instinct told me to stay put, and not to stray too far. Instead I turned inland, and trekked further, absorbing the changing scenery as I went.
I walked past a large, gothic cathedral that loomed above the square it was situated on. It shielded the passersby from the warm, sinking sun with its large main spire that reached skyward, creating shade for all below. I wandered down the sides streets of the great cathedral, chasing the sunlight, and taking in the color of the city at dusk. All the slate and stone and clay turned to hues of purple and rust, warm and melancholy, all at once.
When I finally found a café, the smell of coffee and pastry assaulting my senses, I smiled wide at its large windows, peeking a look inside the glass. Men in crisp white shirts behind the counter foamed milk and poured espresso, and waitresses in cropped black aprons delivered pastries on silver trays to rickety, dark wooden tables occupied by tourists and businessmen in suits wrinkled from the day. Chandeliers hung from the arched ceiling and golden light poured out onto the sidewalk. It was perfect, and yet my smile fell. I'd finally found a coffee house to help get rid of our hangovers with, and Jasper wasn't here to drink a cup with me.
Scowling, I walked on, ignoring the pangs of hunger in my gut.
. . .
By the time dusk had settled on the city, I was starved and hopeless. I hadn't found him. I'd walked up and down the curving banks of the canal for hours, hoping to spot him along a bridge or see him staring down at the water's edge from the railings above me.
He hadn't shown. What was I thinking, that that witch-woman would actually be right? Fortune tellers weren't real. Mind readers didn't exist...why was I hoping for something so ridiculous to actually come true?
Defeated, I wound my way back up into the city center, following the map Edward had left me, and took in what I could of the ancient town. I spotted a group of musicians, drunk and on parade as they marched their way though the streets with their heads held high and their laughter cutting through the air. I followed them, transfixed. They were young, vibrant and loud, and reminded me of my band mates and everything we used to be.
They all piled into a kaffee and filled up two tables with their laughter and life. A young girl in the band with short black hair that danced off her head in odd directions spotted me watching them and waved me over. I walked towards her without question, as if she were the Pied Piper and I a helpless child being lead by her song.
"You're a musician!" She spoke in perfect English with a beautiful accent; I blushed and nodded. How did she know?
Her cohorts all murmured short, clipped sentences with each other before a tall, blond man with gold eyes beckoned me to sit with them. The sprite of a dark-haired girl pulled out a chair next to her and I sat down, bewildered and perhaps a bit bewitched by her easy warmth and quick acceptance.
"You can play with us, yes?" The man said, offering a mandolin with a smile. I nodded without preamble.
Cups of black espresso were placed in front of us and plates of strudel were passed around the table as each member of this strange band of artists grabbed an instrument and started to strum, pick or hum. The black-haired girl swayed from side to side, playing a penny flute that suited her tiny fingers and bright eyes, while the blond man lead the harmony with a travel guitar he'd pulled from his backpack. The other two members worked a drum that reminded me of an Irish instrument Edward owned, and a small harmonica to round out their sound. No one in the café seemed to mind the sudden music, in fact the business men and locals all swayed their bodies to the beat as they read newspapers and puffed at their pipes.
I felt like I'd fallen into a different world. One where I belonged, but one where I didn't understand the language or my place, yet the people in front of me smiled and didn't judge, and I played on, happy to have strings to pluck and a rhythm to follow.
. . .
I was working my way back towards the canal when I heard music filtering through the air and down the streets towards me. It wasn't light or jovial, nothing a busker on a street corner would play, but instead, it was intense and pulsing. It made me walk faster, closer, needing to find the source of the sound.
Corner after corner passed, as I launched myself down street after street. Where was it coming from? I ran in circles, desperate to find its origin when a hand came down on my shoulder, halting me in my tracks. I turned to look at the person behind me, thinking for one quick moment that it might be Jasper, but no. It was a woman covered in bangles, rings, and gauzy fabrics hanging from every limb. Her eyes held a knowing glint that matched the smirk curving at her lips.
"What?" I asked, but she had already turned away, her soft laughter floating on behind her.
"What did you say?" I shouted. Her long arm shot behind her, pointing down a curve in the road I hadn't seen.
I took off without even looking back. At least I had a purpose, something to find, somewhere to run.
My feet skidded to a halt outside a café with dark windows and an open door. The music I'd been searching for poured out of it, and I stepped inside with heavy breaths, happy and anxious all at once.
Then, something unexpected happened: Jasper's voice filled the heady air. It curled around me and brought me forward, towards a table in the back of the smoke filled room from where the sounds emerged. Jasper was singing. Jasper was here.
With slow, deliberate steps, I walked closer, taking in the band of characters he'd assembled around him. A young black-haired girl was smiling at me, her eyes knowing, like the witch-woman's out in the square. I grinned at her, unable to help my emotions; she seemed so innocent and welcoming. The man next her bowed his head to greet me. A blonde girl at the front of the table with her back to me, and her nose held high, pushed out a chair with her foot, a smirk curving at her profile as if she'd been expecting my arrival.
Who were these people? How had Jasper found them?
I sat down hard, amazed and bewildered by the change of events. I'd been sweating, hungry and angry with myself only a moment ago, and here I was in a café surrounded by people, pastry, coffee, and Jasper sitting next to me with a smile on his face. His eyes were closed, hypnotized by the music he was playing: a Tom Waits song, set to the beat of a waltz. The entire café moved with the rhythm.
"Küssen," the black-haired girl said on a whisper, and I tiled my head in question. She merely smiled. "Küssen."
The same instinct that told me to stay on the left-hand side of the canal overtook me at the sound of her voice, and I turned towards Jasper with a sense of not being in control of my own body. My hands reached forward, my head tilted closer, my breath escaped my lips on a gasp, and I pulled his face to mine in a startling moment of sheer clarity.
"Jasper," I breathed a kiss to his mouth, silencing his voice and drawing it into me with my lips. The sound of the mandolin hitting his lap cut the melody short, and his eyes opened wide, halting my movement as his hands gripped my wrists.
I begged him with my eyes, not knowing what else to do; I was just as lost as he was. Do this with me Jasper, don't leave me alone in this. I need this. Please.
"Los," the girl told us. It sounded far off as Jasper's eyes searched mine, his nostrils flaring, his breathing heavy.
"Kiss me." Please, Jasper. His eyes flashed, bright and frightening while his fingers gripped harder on my wrists. I tried to keep his face in my hands, needing him close, but he shoved them away and the music died, ending with the slap of his hand on the table.
I breathed out a heavy breath, my head falling to my chest. I'd tried to accept something of myself, only to be shunned. It stung venom in my veins.
. . .
What the hell had Edward just done? And why was he lowering his head, why was he turning from me. No! I'd just found him. He'd just appeared by my side, wanting me. Christ, his lips were on mine before I even realized who was touching me or why. I was shocked and...Edward? Edward kissed me.
The chair scraped back as he tried to stand up from the table, but I grabbed his arm and pulled him down. Down, down, on top of me, on top of my lap, my hands shoving their way into his maddening hair, and my mouth finding his.
No, Edward, don't leave me. Never again. Don't leave me.
I kissed him with all that I had, as cheers erupted around us, and the music that I'd silenced with my fist was once again filling the air of the café. It twined around us like rope or string, binding us together, and it only made me kiss him harder. I lost myself in his mouth, his taste, his everything. This is what I had wanted, what I needed, what those idiots tried to take away from me, but now I had it.
We broke apart, gasping. Edward whimpered, and I sobbed at the sound, needing him back. Why wasn't he kissing me? I pulled his face down to mine again and fused my lips with his. My tongue pushed past teeth and breath, battling with his, wanting it so badly, I moaned.
The music played on, louder and faster, as we lost ourselves in the sound.
Here, in a foreign country, stranded in a strange city, and embraced by friends we hardly knew, Edward and I had found each other.
. . .
Never had I experienced such a rush of emotion. There, consumed by Jasper's arms and lips and warmth, I felt whole. Right. For the first time in months, maybe years, things made sense, and I was too disjointed from the rest of the world, too uninhibited by the freedom of anonymity thanks to the strangers around us to even care what this all meant. The only thing I knew was that I wanted what was in front of me; I wanted Jasper.
Together, we slumped down into a booth, next to the table of our new friends. Together, we pressed our bodies as close as they could be, draping legs over thighs and arms over shoulders, needing the feeling of each other so entirely, it was dizzying. The black-haired girl smiled and played on, while the blond ordered a round of drinks for everyone.
It felt like a celebration, a coming together of more than just people. "Slainté!" I called out and was met with a cry of "Prost!" in return.
We stayed and drank and played and kissed until the Bohemian owners kicked us out on the streets in the wee hours of the morning. Whatever Euros I had to my name were thrown onto the table, with endless amounts of thanks to our foreign friends, who only encouraged Jasper and I in our newfound infatuation with each other's lips, mouths, tongues, and hands.
"I don't want to stop touching you," I mumbled while nuzzling Jasper's neck as we stumbled through the square past the café.
"Don't." Jasper hugged me to him, but it felt like more. Something desperate, something needed, like air; I clung to him. We were emboldened by drink, and a lack of sleep. Nothing felt illicit or awkward; it was all intense and wanting. The need to make up for lost time hung over us like a cloud, and we slashed at it with our hands as we draped our arms around each other once more.
It still didn't feel close enough.
The little black-haired girl danced around us with her flute, egging us on. I smiled at her twirls and steps, her happy aura glowing in the darkness of the night. We followed her, and her friends, with smiles on our faces to wherever they'd lead us next.
. . .
We walked with the girl and her cohorts for a while through the steep, deserted streets, singing the lyrics of White Stripes songs to keep us company in the dark. I didn't know where we were headed, but I followed, blind and willing. Alcohol swirled in my gut, and the foreign imagery drifted past my vision. I knew nothing of the buildings, streets or people, but I knew the man next to me, and I wanted him.
My arm was draped over his shoulder, my breath hot at his ear, "I need to tell you something."
"What?" There was a small smile curving up one side of Edward's lips, I covered it with my own.
He moaned into the kiss, and I pulled him closer, pressing my body to his. There was nothing to inhibit us in that moment: no Emmett and Seth, no drunken fools, no judging eyes, only the two of us with a band of street artists encouraging our discovery.
Stumbling backward into a side alley, I sat down hard on a bench by a back door, illuminated by a street light. Edward followed, falling onto me, and straddling my lap in a haphazard way. I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face into his hair, nuzzling his neck, wanting to devour him whole.
"What are we doing?" His voice was a whisper, and sounded strained.
"I'm holding you."
Edward's hips shifted and the friction made me hiss.
"What are you doing, Edward?" The smile was clear in my tone.
"Dunno," he said, his head falling to my shoulder as his hips pushed into me again.
"I like it," I told him, encouraging him. I felt him nod against me and press down again. My hips thrust upwards to meet his, unable to stop myself; it felt too good.
Edward's head tilted back as he moaned and I snapped, standing up and launching us across the alley towards the opposite wall. His back slammed into the bricks, and his arms latched around me as one leg landed hard on the cobblestone while the other stayed secure around my waist. I moved into him, pushing and shoving with my hips, nothing felt close enough, nothing felt complete enough. I needed more.
I gripped onto his obnoxious hair as hard as I could and kissed him deep and long. He whimpered and tugged at my shirt, my back, my pants, my arms. Anything and everything we could touch, we did. The air vibrated around us as our movements turned frantic. The friction of our jeans sliding with our cocks an unbearable combination; I could barely breathe.
"I don't know what this is," Edward rasped, his breath hot on my throat.
"It's us," I growled. The tightening in my belly was becoming painful. I started to ride against Edward faster, with more need. He matched me, his hands falling to my ass, shoving me against him with increased force.
He was panting, his movements erratic. I was too close too fast and bit his shoulder to muffle the scream that was building in my throat.
Pounding my fist into the stone wall, I yelled into his neck, "coming!" before jerking and contorting into a frenzied mess of orgasming limbs.
Edward pulled my face to his and kissed me as I rode out the wave, his own hips still moving in an uneven pattern against me.
An idea crossed my mind as I looked into his eyes, seeing them heavy and dilated with lust. I didn't think about my next move, I just did it, as my hand dropped to his belt. I unlatched it, and unbuttoned his jeans before he even realized what was happening. My hand was on his cock the next second and my nostrils flared as I felt the velvet heat spread through my fingers. He was on fire, and I was holding him, throbbing in my hand.
"Come for me, Edward."
"Oh god," he cried as his head fell back against the wall and his hips surged and bucked. I ran my thumb over the tip of his erection, his cock already slick with pre-cum.
I was weak from my orgasm, delirious with sensation from what was happening, but seeing Edward come undone because of what I was doing to him was too much of a high to let go of. I pumped my hand at an unrelenting speed until he was pounding his own fist against the wall and biting his lip to hold back the sounds bubbling out of him. I kissed his mouth, forcing his teeth open to taste him.
"Let it out," I said.
And he did, roaring into the night as his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and hot liquid spurts of his cum erupted onto my hand and wrist. I smiled, amazed and satisfied beyond measure. The most gratifying sexual experience of my life had just occurred up against a stone wall in an old alleyway in Vienna with Edward, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
Edward slumped against me, and I held him close and tight, never wanting to let go. The sky had lightened around us, and the music of our friends had disappeared during our stolen time in the alley. I felt like I didn't know anything anymore except for the man in front of me.
I was fine with that.
"What time is it? The train. The plane..." Edward mumbled into my skin. I smiled.
"We'll be okay."
"We won't be. We're fine."
Edward was already falling asleep as I dragged us across the alley and sat us on the bench. I leaned back against the wall and his head stayed on my shoulder, his hair brushing my chin. I buttoned him up as best I could since his pants were still hanging half off of his hips, and I wiped my hand against the wall. We were two gross, homeless vagabonds on the streets, and yet I'd never felt so happy, secure. Life made sense again.
Edward woke about a half an hour later, and together we stumbled to our hotel—thanks to the maps we still had shoved into our back pockets—to pick up our tickets for the train and the airport
We sat next to each other in silence on the train, and slept curled around each other on the plane, not caring who saw or what they thought. The peace that had settled over us almost felt like a drug, but I didn't question it. The tension I'd been carrying with me throughout the past months since Dublin had abated, and I reveled in the quiet feeling.
The nerves only started up again when the plane touched down in Spain, and we peered out the window with matching looks of concern.
Leaving Vienna had been harder than I thought.
There was a short man holding up a sign with our names on it at the curb when we exited the airport, and we climbed into the car that had been idling next to him like a loyal, well trained dog, without a word. Billy had taken care of everything.
"Nothing changes, Jasper," Edward said when the cab pulled up to what we assumed was our hotel. I stared back at him, reassured and content for the moment with his statement. I nodded in silent agreement before turning to open the door...
Nothing would change.
We climbed out of the cab, side by side, and looked out at the flamboyant, swirling architecture of Barcelona. We'd finally made it, and we hadn't killed each other in the process. Quiet the opposite, in fact.
The euphoria of that accomplishment, however, was cut short the second Billy stepped outside the large brass doors of the hotel. His face was stern, and his hands were shoved into the pockets of his vest; he wanted to talk. I sighed. Seeing him brought the last twenty-four hours to a crashing halt.
The fantasy was over, and real life had just caught up with us.
No sooner had we all sat down in the hotel room did Billy start pontificating about the rest of the tour and promotions, as if we had never missed the plane the day before. I was too spent to care and shrugged it off, blaming my unease on jet lag.
Edward and I leaned forward on the sofa, resting our elbows on our knees, trying to listen, but feeling Edward's heat so close to me made that task rather difficult. I wanted to lean in and touch him, feel him close to me, but I held back. It was only when Billy mentioned something about our little detour not being entirely an accident, did my mind snap to attention.
The two of us stared back at him, slack jawed.
Billy looked down at the sight of our reaction, the rim of his cowboy hat covering his eyes. He'd just let slip that our lost weekend in Vienna had been planned? A ploy? Some predetermined "accidental" occurrence?
The natural high I'd been cruising on from the previous night died instantly.
"You what?" I yelled.
Billy's jaw tensed. "We left you...on purpose."
Seth spoke up before anyone else could. "The two of you were blind to what we saw."
I opened my mouth to fight back, an involuntary reaction, before realizing the meaning of his words. "Wait, what? Blind?"
"Yes." Seth was not known for being a lengthy conversationalist, but right then, I really needed a bit more than a 'yes' in form of an explanation. I felt like shaking the words out of him.
"Blind to what?" Edward asked.
Seth gave him a pointed look and said no more. Emmett was bouncing on his feet like a kid waiting to open presents on Christmas morning watching the interactions between everyone, and Billy was avoiding all eye contact.
"I guess he means...us. What we, uh, felt," I answered.
Edward's hard eyes softened and a small, shy smile came across his face as he looked down at his hands. I itched to touch him, but held back...again.
"That. There," Seth said. He was pointing at me, and I raised an eyebrow at him. "That look you just had on your face. That's why we left you in Vienna."
It was my turn to look down, not wanting to see Seth's knowing eyes. I was confused enough, thanks to the turn of events of the past day and a half, I didn't need Seth telling me in his own silent way that my infatuation with Edward was obvious to everyone but me.
Edward's fingers threaded through mine and I felt myself slump against his side. I'd just crossed the line of one too many revelations for a twenty-four hour period.
"I suggested it, if that helps any," Emmett confessed with a shrug.
"Why didn't you guys just tell us?" I asked.
"Tell you what? 'Oh hey, Jasper? You don't seem to realize it, but we're pretty sure that all this hostility you're rocking is really just a need for you to bone Eddy.' You would have fucking killed me, man."
I slouched further into Edward's side, needing the grounding feeling that came from being close to him. Even Emmett had figured me out, and yet I'd been blind to what I felt for Edward, just like Seth had said. Could I have been more of a tool? Christ.
"Well, we fixed it," Edward spoke up, his hand tightening in mine.
"So it would seem." Seth smiled at us, and Emmett put his hands into fists and humped the air with a goofy ass grin on his face. I guess our band mates didn't mind that two of their crew just switched teams?
Is that what had happened? Did I switch teams? Or had I always been like this and never picked up on the clues?
I shook my head, exhausted and pissed off at my brain for creating too many questions I didn't have answers to.
"Later," Edward whispered to me, and I looked up at him. "We'll deal with all this later." I nodded to him. That plan sounded good to me, I needed to stop thinking before my head exploded.
Billy clapped his hands, bringing us all back to attention. "Alright, we got a show to get to."
"Yeah, we do!" Emmett cried as he ran out the door and down the hall to God knows where. Seth stood up slowly from where he'd perched himself and watched me with concern. I gave him a reassuring smile. I was going to be fine; I had Edward.
Everything was going to be fine.
. . .
"You ready?" Emmett shouted over the din of the crowd, as we all stood backstage, waiting for our cue. The venue was small, but packed, and the audience sounded fit and willing for us to do whatever we wanted with them—which was to play the ever living shit out of our set list and leave them wet and craving more.
When the stagehand gave us the go-ahead, we took our places and wasted no time. Music erupted from every instrument and speaker, while the audience ate out of our hands and stomped the floorboards in appreciation. They devoured what we gave them, and I felt a sense of complete contentment encompass me as I played. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back, enjoying the feeling, knowing Jasper was next to me, knowing he was with me, like always.
This is where we all belonged, where it all made sense: on stage, together.
As if on cue, Jasper's shoulder leaned into mine and I turned into his body, aligning my spine with his, back to back. We pressed together and played our guitars, feeling the music through each other. My head fell back onto his shoulder and I turned my face towards his neck, breathing in the smell of his heat and his skin. My tongue slipped out to taste him, just as my hand slipped on the frets; I didn't care.
The audience screamed with approval at our little tryst before Jasper broke away with a cocky smile on his face, running towards the mic to sing the next line. I followed, addicted.
Swinging my guitar behind me on its strap, I stepped forward into his body, pressing myself against the length of him as he crooned into the microphone the lyrics I'd written him. The girls in the front row clapped and jumped at the display, and practically melted when I wrapped my arms around him and pulled his face to mine, kissing him in front of the world.
Our mouths opened with want and urgency. Tongues clashed, and moans escaped, being echoed by the mic as the crowd roared and clapped. It was all white noise compared to the sound of Jasper's gasp when I pulled away for air. He looked at me, stunned with swollen lips and dilated eyes, hungry for more.
I arched an eyebrow, challenging him.
"Pardon me just a minute," he said into the mic, smirking at the audience, before his hands grabbed my neck and pulled me to him. Our bodies clashed together, and our guitars clanged and sounded out a wallowing cry from the amps as he pushed into me, trying to get closer.
I laughed and kissed him hard, loving this feeling, needing it like a drug.
"Be with me," I asked, pulling away from his lips.
"I am with you," he said, smiling. "Always."
He kissed me again before I could respond, and wrapped his arms around me so tight, I think he bruised a rib. I didn't care, I squeezed him back, as Emmett pounded on the drums and the audience exploded into cheers.
We had to break away and start playing again. We had to finish the set, give the people before us what they'd come to see, but right then, I didn't care.
I had Jasper, and that was all I needed. Ever.
A/N: Okay, Epic a/n warning!
I gotta thank a few peeps: TuesdayMidnight, Beate73, and Veddersgirl all pow-wowed with me to help me research Vienna since I've never been. Daria, our resident Austrian, was also extremely patient with all my questions about the city, landmarks, translations...etc. Thank you girls so much! *hugs tight*
Riri, my loyal betalove, and Chicklette both beta'd. My PF, Fardareismai2, and Beate73 preread. Rmhale encouraged. I'm insecure, what can I say? lol *hugs, loves, gropes, and foozles to all*
And a HUGE Thank you to SorceressCirce, Il-Bel-Mondo, and Yogagal for hosting this frellawesome contest!
The "kaffee" Jasper and Edward reunite in is Café Alt Wein. It's real, bohemian, dark, and to my knowledge, still allows smoking. Though, music wouldn't normally be played inside, I took artistic license with that bit.
Donaukanal - a little offshoot of the Danube river that runs through the center part of the city.
Már odalent - "he's down there" in Hungarian (spoken by the witch-woman)
Küssen - "kiss him" in German
Los - "go ahead" in German
Prost! - a cheers in German
Slianté - a cheers in Irish
My prompt was rather simple, and I decided to go insane with it. I hope you enjoyed that insanity.
Thanks for reading!