A/N: Hello! Here's another story that's been floating around my head for a while. It would leave me alone so I needed to write it. To those reading 'That Which Cannot Remain Silent', don't worry I'm still working on it. This one will be more angsty than TWCRS. Sorry,but I'll try to lighten it up at times. Just be warned though.
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and all recognisable characters, no infringement is intended. Only the plot is mine.
Gaily I lived as ease and nature taught,
And spent my little life without a thought,
And am amazed that Death, that tyrant grim,
Should think of me, who never thought of him.
~René Francois Regnier
"Honey, I just want you to be taken care of."
"I know Mom, I just…" Jasper tried to breathe deeply, calming himself so he wouldn't start getting irritated, "I'm not ready for people to take care of me yet."
"I understand, but eventually you will need someone to take care of you. It scares me that you are alone."
"Well you're the one who moved to Washington, of all places," Jasper pointed out.
"And you should come be with us. Forks has one of the best doctors around, if anyone can treat you it's Dr. Cullen."
"Mom, no. I'm not ready for that yet."
"Then when will you be?" Margaret Whitlock yelled, "When will you be ready to admit that you need our help. It's not your fault Jasper. You are not weak, but you need help. You are my son, my only child and I won't watch you suffer alone."'
Jasper hated upsetting his mom. In many ways, she took his disease harder than he did. In the final stages of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Jasper had accepted that, while he would fight with everything he had, the inevitable outcome was his death. His mother, however, was unwilling to accept that.
Jasper had lived in Texas his entire life. When he moved to New Haven, Connecticut to attend Yale, his parents, for reasons Jasper still didn't understand, moved to Washington. As if that wasn't enough, they moved to the obscure town of Forks.
It was Jasper's junior year when he was diagnosed. He underwent chemo, and eventually went into remission. It went away for three wonderful years. However, his cancer returned several months ago, and the doctor's told him that it was worse this time. He was back in chemo every week and it was taking its toll.
He had friends who were willing to help of course, but they had families and careers to focus on. Jasper was very self-sufficient, but he knew that he needed help. Especially when he was having a bad day and could barely leave his bed. Even though he was twenty-five years old, having his mother take care of him sounded appealing.
"Please Jasper, let me help you. It's not so bad in Forks, it's relaxing and you'll love all the trees. You can go for walks; you always loved walking in the woods. And Dr. Cullen is an excellent doctor."
Jasper wanted to stay independent. He didn't want help from his mother, and he was perfectly happy with his doctor in New Haven. He wasn't ready to be babied. But perhaps a change of scenery would be nice. He could always keep his apartment and see how it went. If it turned out to be a disaster he could move back.
"Okay mom, we'll try it." Jasper heard his mom sigh with relief. If nothing else, this would make his mom feel better.
"Thank you sweetheart. I'll get the guest room fixed up for you, you can bring whatever you need, and I'll set up an appointment with Dr. Cullen for you."
"Okay, I'm going to talk to my editor. Maybe they'll still let me write my articles and email them in."
"Of course they will. Call your editor and let me know when you're coming. I'm so happy that you are finally doing this Jasper."
Jasper tried to smile, but wasn't able to. He still tried to sound happy for his mom though, "yeah, mom. I'll let you know. Bye."
Jasper hung up the phone. What had he done? Cancer was destroying everything. First it was his body, and now it was controlling his life. Yes, it would be nice to have his mother take care of him when he was too sick, but that also came with a price: moving back in with his parents.
Deciding that he should get everything over and done with, Jasper dialed his editor's number. As he waited for him to answer, Jasper pulled his suitcase out from underneath his bed.
"Matthews," his editor answered.
"Hey Matthews, it's Jasper." Jasper's editor was one of the few people who knew that Jasper was sick. Jasper didn't want people to pity him or tip-toe around him, but Matthew's needed to know for the days Jasper was too sick to come in to work.
Jasper had interned at the New Haven Register in his senior year and after graduation was offered a job. Over the years, he had managed to work his way up to the national news, one of the most prized positions. He loved his job and his co-workers; they were what had kept him in New Haven for so long.
"Hey Jasper, what's up?"
"Well," Jasper started, not knowing what to say, "I need to talk to you. About me."
"What about Jasper, are you okay?"
Gathering his courage, Jasper plunged in, "I'm getting sicker Matthews. And I'm going to go live with my parents for a while. Just to have someone look after me, you know."
"Okay, I understand. What do you want to do about work?"
"Well, I was hoping I could write my articles there and I'd email them to the copywriters. I know it's a hassle, but I love this job and I don't want to lose it."
Jasper waited anxiously for Matthews to answer, "Of course Jasper. You don't need to be here to do the national articles. You know our schedule, and I'll email you info about your beat."
"Thanks, Matthews. I owe you."
Jasper got off the phone with Matthews and immediately went to his computer to book a plane ticket. Dread filled him as he thought about how his life had turned out. It was a cruel trick, in his opinion. He called his mom to let her know that he would be arriving at the beginning of next week. When he hung up, he was unable to shake the sense that he had given over his freedom to become a prisoner.
Forks wasn't so bad. It was green and rainy, but Jasper expected that. When he first met his parents it was a joyful reunion. It had been months since he had seen his parents, and Jasper was truly happy to see them.
"How was the trip dear, did you sleep on the plane? Or eat? Are you hungry? If you think you can wait until we get home then I have some chicken to cook up, otherwise we can stop and get you something."
Jasper loved his mom dearly, but he wasn't used to having anyone other than a nurse hover over him. Five minutes off the plane and his mother was already fluttering about him.
"I'm fine mom. I don't need to eat anything. I can wait." Margaret nodded, looking him over. Jasper turned to give his father a hug.
"Hey son," Richard Whitlock said, "how are you feeling?"
"Fine, it's a good day," Jasper smiled.
They got Jasper's bags from baggage claim and walked to the parking ramp to get his parent's car. Jasper sat in the back seat, once again feeling like child while his parents sat up front.
"I've got you an appointment with Dr. Cullen on Wednesday morning. That gives you tomorrow to relax, unpack, and get used to the town a bit. I can drive you in, or if you feel comfortable you can borrow my car and drive yourself," his mother said. She rifled through her purse before pulling out a piece of paper, "This is his number for you to have."
"Thanks mom. I think I can drive myself. Unless it's hard to find?"
Margaret laughed, "Not at all. Forks is so small, you drive down the main street and the hospital is off to the left. If you hit dense forest, you've gone too far."
"And it's just a meeting? No treatment right?" Jasper checked. If there would be no treatment, there would be no reason for Margaret to drive him. He may have moved home, but Jasper was still determined to be as independent as possible.
"Yes, he just wants to meet with you. You might have some tests, but no treatments."
"Then I should be okay. If I have any problems I'll call you."
"Of course dear." Margaret said, before immediately launching into telling Jasper about the people in the town. Charlie Swan, the police chief; the local diner that they ate breakfast in every Sunday; and the Newton's who owned the outdoors store. Richard promised to take Jasper there to get a pair of hiking shoes and a jacket that would work with Forks' rainy weather so Jasper could walk in the woods without getting too cold.
Jasper tried to pay attention, but it was impossible. Too many thoughts were racing through his head, but the most prominent was that this would be a nice place to die. It was far away from his friends and the life he had built for himself, but his parents were here. Plus, he would be able to spend time in the forest, among all the green, which had always been his favourite colour. Jasper found that he was already looking forward to breathing in the pure forest air.
Before he knew it, they were pulling into the driveway. Jasper got out of the car and looked at his new home. It was two stories, painted light blue, and had a small porch in the front with a swing on it. Jasper's eyes lit up when he saw the swing. No matter how old he got, Jasper always loved swinging and trying to see how high he could get. There had been a porch swing at their home in Texas. At least, there had been until Jasper broke it. His parent's refused to get another swing for him after that. Jasper smiled at the memory, and began planning afternoons of seeing how high this swing would go. Robert brought Jasper's bags up to the porch before unlocking the door and ushering Jasper into the house.
"Welcome home son," Robert said, then he smiled and grasped Jasper's shoulder, "I know this is hard for you, but we are really glad you're here. I'll try to contain your mother so you can keep some control over your own life."
Jasper smiled, thanking his father for his effort even though they both knew if wouldn't do any good. Margaret was a force to be reckoned with, and neither of the men in her life would ever convince her to do something once she was committed to an idea. And her new commitment was to nurse her baby boy back to perfect health.
"Okay darling," Margaret's voice flitted into the house as she walked through the door. She grabbed Jasper's elbow and pulled him after her down the hallway, "here is the kitchen, right off the hallway. At the end is the living room and dining room as well has a half bathroom. And there's a closet for cleaning supplies. The vacuum and broom are in there if you ever need it. Upstairs are the rooms. Our room is at the top of the stairs and your room is at the end of the hall. I've fixed it up for you so it's ready for you to unpack and take a nap. You look a bit tired, dear. Oh, and your bathroom is across from your room. You have it all to yourself; your father and I have our own bathroom.
Jasper took it all in, but he had to agree with his mother. He was exhausted. It had been a good day, but all the traveling and new information had taken its toll.
"Thanks mom. I think I'll find my room and take a nap. You're right, I am tired." He kissed his mom on the cheek and walked up the stairs and down the hall. He found his room and was pleased that it was on the opposite side of the hall than his parent's room. At least he wouldn't have to share a wall with them. His mother had painted the walls a soft cream colour, which looked nice with his oak dresser and blue comforter. Best of all, in his opinion, was the window seat overlooking the forest in the back yard.
His father had already brought his suitcases to his room, so Jasper spent the next hour unpacking and making the room look more 'Jasper'. He unloaded his books on the bedside table and put some pictures of his friends and family on top of the dresser. Then he put his laptop on the other bedside table before sitting on the window seat.
He thought about his new home and new life and was surprised that he was relived to be in Forks. It was restricting, but the slow lifestyle was exactly what he was looking for. And it was nice to have his mother here, if only for someone to take care of him on his bad days. Jasper resolved that he would not mope. He would not get depressed or upset when his parents tried to help him. He would no longer look at this place as a prison.
Jasper got up to head to the bed when something caught his attention in the forest. He looked out at the trees, swearing there had been a flash of red, but nothing was there. Rubbing his eyes, he assumed that he was just tired and needed a nap. He looked at the trees, just to check again, but still nothing there. Shaking his head, Jasper decided his mind was playing tricks on him.
"Jasper," his mother called up the stairs, "We're going into town to have dinner. In all the excitement I forgot to go grocery shopping. When will you be ready?"
Jasper really didn't want to go into town and be stared at. He just wanted a quiet night at home so he could watch TV, catch up with his parents, and go to bed early. But if he admitted that, then his mother would baby him for the next few days, and that was something he desperately didn't want.
"I'm coming," he yelled down. He opened the drawers where he put his t-shirts and changed into a fresh one. He looked at himself in the mirror and tried to decide what ball cap to wear. He had adjusted to his hair loss easily as it wasn't the first time in had happened. He decided during his first round that he wouldn't wear a wig. He felt no need to hide what was going on, but he also didn't want it to be obvious. The day he received his diagnosis, he went out, shaved his head, and bought a brand new collection of ball caps. He settled on his favourite, his Yale cap that he had bought during his senior year. He smiled as he remembered his old life, then turned away from the mirror to start his new one.
The next day went by quickly for Jasper. His mother introduced him to the town the day after he arrived. They walked through the streets, his mother telling him all the little details about everyone they walked past. He met the Police Chief, Chief Swan, the owner of the diner his parents loved, Mrs. Rice, and was even able to sneak away from his parents long enough to take a walk in the woods.
Wednesday arrived, and Jasper was already dreading his doctor visit. He wasn't feeling in top form, but he was too stubborn to ask his mother to drive him. He would be fine. He drove to the hospital following his mother's instructions. As she had said, it wasn't hard to find. Jasper walked into the main office and stood in front of the receptionist, waiting for her to notice him. She appeared to be doing something on the computer, so Jasper waited for a minute before getting annoyed. He looked over the counter and saw that she was playing Solitaire. Well, that was the end of that, he thought.
Jasper cleared his throat and the woman finally looked up at him, "can I help you?"
"Yes, I'm Jasper Whitlock, I have an appointment with Dr. Cullen."
The woman tapped on the keys of the computer before nodding. She got a clipboard and pen and stuck an information request sheet on the board, "fill this out. When you're done bring it back to the desk. Dr. Cullen will be with you as soon as he can."
Jasper took a chair and looked at the sheet. It only asked for basic health information, age, weight, allergies, previous illnesses and surgeries. Jasper scoffed, but still took his time filling out the sheet. It was better than paging through a magazine only to be interrupted once he found an article he was actually interested in.
Jasper had been waiting for 10 minutes, when a voice reached his ears and caused him to stop what he was doing. He looked up and saw the most beautiful man in front of him. He was tall and a bit lanky with ghostly pale skin, but what caught Jasper's attention was his hair. It was a brilliant bronze colour, thick and sticking out as if a hand had been run through it many times. Or he had just been thoroughly fucked. Jasper wasn't sure which option he preferred. The man's eyes were a piercing gold, hidden behind black square-framed glasses.
"Are you Jasper Whitlock?" The man asked. Jasper nodded, feeling unable to speak to the man in front of him.
"I'm Dr. Edward Cullen, Dr. Cullen's son. He's busy at the moment with a patient, so he asked me to show you to a room and get your basic information. Would you come with me?" Jasper nodded again, and stupidly held out the clipboard to Dr. Edward Cullen.
"Oh, well, thank you. I'll just take this with me and put it in you file. This way." He walked away from Jasper, and Jasper had to blink and inhale deeply before he was able to follow.
They went into one of the rooms and Jasper sat on the examination table while Dr. Edward, as Jasper had suddenly taken to calling him, sat in front of a computer.
"Okay," Dr. Edward said, looking at the computer screen, "So you're here…"
"Because I have stage four cancer," Jasper said bluntly, not wanting to beat around the bush, "My parents moved up here a few years ago and I came here to spend my last amount of time with them."
Dr. Edward looked over at Jasper. There was tenderness on his face that Jasper didn't understand.
"So young," he heard Dr. Edward mutter under his breath.
"You're not much older than me," Jasper retorted, hating when people felt pity from him. A small smile flickered across the doctor's face before it was wiped away and the serious doctor returned.
"What have your doctors back home told you?" Dr. Edward asked.
"Shouldn't this be something I tell my real doctor? I thought you were just getting my basic info?" Jasper hated how he was treating this man who only appeared to have his best intentions in mind, but he had suffered too much with people asking questions because they thought it would make him feel better, or because they were trying to indulge their sick curiosity. Dr. Edward seemed to care, but he didn't know Jasper from Adam, and Jasper wasn't going to give any information out to just anyone. Though there was something about Edward that made Jasper want to tell him. Jasper didn't understand this and resisted the urge.
"Yes, I'm sorry I just…" Dr. Edward trailed off, "Let's get back, yes? Do you have any allergies?"
"Penicillin." Dr. Edward nodded before typing that into the system.
"And how are you feeling today?' Jasper didn't know if that was a question Dr. Edward was supposed to ask, but he felt a little guilty about how he had been acting, so he answered.
"I'm a little tired. And my stomach is queasy. I shouldn't complain; the past two days have been great. I can have a slightly bad day."
"How often do you get chemo?"
"My last cycle just ended. That's another reason why I came here now. I had just finished four weeks, every other day." Dr. Edward continued to watch Jasper, typing absolutely nothing into the computer.
"Aren't you going to enter that?" Jasper asked. He was uncomfortable with the scrutiny he was getting from the doctor. He had already told him more than he intended to, but something about Dr. Edward made him want to open up and talk.
Dr. Edward's eyes widened, as if he had been caught, but at what, Jasper had no idea, "I'll remember it," he said quickly," I'm going to take your vitals. My father should be in soon."
Jasper sat on the examination table as Dr. Edward checked him over. Halfway into his blood pressure being checked, the door opened and Dr. Cullen walked in. It briefly crossed Jasper's mind that he had majorly lucked out in getting the two hottest doctors in the US, but he pushed the thought aside so he wouldn't be caught staring at the handsome blonde doctor. Besides, he had always had a thing for redheads.
"Jasper? I'm Dr. Cullen, thank you for waiting. I hope Edward was able to get you comfortable?"
"I've got his vitals and medical history. Is there anything else you need?" Edward asked.
"No that should be fine. Thank you." Dr. Cullen looked at the computer, checking to make sure everything was filled in. But Jasper just watched Edward; he hadn't left the room yet, instead lingering at the door watching Jasper, as if unwilling to leave him alone.
Dr. Cullen looked up to talk to Jasper when he noticed his son was still in the room, "Yes Edward?"
Edward's lips tightened at getting caught and he left the room, muttering a goodbye as he left. Dr. Cullen turned back to Jasper with a smile spread across his face.
"How are you today, Jasper?"
"I'm good," Jasper said. He shifted on the table and winced when the paper crackled. After spending so much time in doctor's offices, he had grown to hate that sound.
"Wonderful, why don't you tell me about your treatment history." Jasper repeated everything that he had told Edward, leaving out the information that he had come to Forks to die. For some reason, that didn't seem like something he could tell Dr. Cullen. He still wasn't sure why he had told Edward.
"I'd like to get some x-rays of you today and then set up an appointment to discuss your options, okay?"
Dr. Cullen led Jasper down the hall to the x-ray room. By this time, Jasper's head was pounding and his vision was starting to blur. It had been too much today, and all Jasper wanted to do was go home and sleep. He didn't even notice when the x-ray was done, he was too intent on seeing straight. Only Dr. Cullen's voice, trying to set up an appointment, brought him back.
"Jasper, are you feeling alright?" Dr. Cullen asked, putting his hand on his shoulders. Jasper noticed how cold his hand was, and the drastic temperature change only made him feel worse. He pulled away and sat on the floor, trying to breathe as deeply as he could.
When his vision straightened out, Jasper looked back up at the concerned Dr. Cullen, "It's just… I have a headache and it was making me dizzy. But the dizziness has passed. I'm okay now."
Dr. Cullen didn't look convinced, "Do you have someone here with you? I don't want you driving home like this."
"I'm fine, Doctor, see," Jasper lifted himself off the floor, he was a little wobbly on his feet, but his vision remained normal.
"Be that as it may, I would feel more comfortable if someone drove you home. What about your mother?"
"She can't. I'm driving her car and my dad's at work. I'm fine doctor. Really."
Dr. Cullen smiled at him, "I can see you're determined Jasper, and I like that. But I'm putting my foot down. Come with me." He opened the door and let Jasper into the hallway first. As they walked, Jasper could feel Dr. Cullen's presence behind him and he felt like Dr. Cullen was just waiting for him to collapse. They walked into the waiting room and Dr. Cullen instructed Jasper to take a seat.
"Linda," Dr. Cullen said to the receptionist, "Would you page my son? Ask him to come up here. I need him to drive Jasper home."
"No, that's not necessary," Jasper protested, "I'm fine. There would be no use in him getting stuck at my house. I live on the other end of town, he'll have no way back."
"I imagine he'll enjoy a nice walk," Dr. Cullen said, the kind smile stretching across his face again, "Please Jasper? For my sanity as a Doctor, let Edward drive you home."
Jasper hesitated for a moment, caught between his desire to be independent and his desire to see the beautiful man again. Finally he gave into his desire to see Edward, "Fine Dr. Cullen."
"Thank you Jasper, and please call me Carlisle. I have a feeling we'll get to know each other very well." Jasper wasn't so sure about that, but he nodded anyway.
"Dad?" Edward said, walking into the room. His gaze flickered over Jasper for a moment before returning to his father.
"Edward, Jasper isn't feeling well and I need you to drive him home."
"Sure," Edward said. He walked over to Jasper, "may I have your car keys?"
Jasper fished his keys out of his pockets and handed them to Edward. He internally shivered when their fingers brushed and he thought he saw a reaction out of Edward. Jasper got up from his chair to leave while Edward watched his every movement.
"Thank you Dr—Carlisle. I'll see you in a few days." He said.
"Make sure you bring someone with you next time, just in case," Carlisle instructed before going back down the hall.
Jasper and Edward walked into the parking lot quietly, "Thanks for driving me," Jasper said.
Edward smiled at him, "I don't mind. Besides, it lets me get to know the new guy in town. Everyone's curious about you."
They had reached Jasper's car, and he groaned as they got in, "I just want to be left alone. I didn't come here for them."
"Why did you come, then?" Edward softly asked.
"I told you. My parents wanted me with them so they could take care of me. And I wasn't a fan of dying alone."
"What makes you think you're going to die?" Edward asked.
Jasper looked over at Edward and once again wondered why he cared, Edward's hands gripped the steering wheel, and there was an intense look on his face. Jasper could only assume that it was for him—nothing else had happened to cause that reaction—but he didn't know why.
"Besides my doctor's telling me so?" Jasper responded dryly.
"Doctor's can be wrong, trust me."
Jasper was quiet for a while, again wondering how much to tell him. Finally deciding that it couldn't hurt, and remembering his prior promise to not hide away and resent people, he answered, "I can feel it. In my body, in my mind. I can't do things as quickly as I normally would. I'm weaker. I'm tired all the time. Some nights I go to bed and I'm sure I'll never wake up. Or I'll wake up but I won't be functioning."
Jasper hadn't noticed that while he was talking, they had pulled into his driveway. Edward cut the engine and turned his body to face Jasper.
"What are you doing tonight?" Edward asked.
Edward took a deep breath, "I'm going to the movies tonight. I know you're probably tired and you aren't feeling well, but…" Edward stopped and closed his eyes, "if you do feel better, would you like to come? With me?"
Jasper was speechless. Well, not quite speechless, "like a date?"
Edward nodded before swallowing heavily, "yes, a date."
"Just to check. I just told you I'm going to die in a few months—maybe weeks. And you're asking me out on a date? How do you even know I'm gay?" Jasper enjoyed watching Edward open and close his mouth while he tried to answer.
"I just… know. And your sickness, well, I've been taught to hope. And I would really like to get to know you. Regardless of what will happen. So please. Will you go out with me tonight."
Jasper knew he shouldn't. It wasn't why he moved to Forks, and to start a romantic relationship at this point in his life was stupidity with a capital S. But Edward drew him in and against every rational bone in his body, Jasper wanted to know him. This was one thing that Jasper wouldn't let cancer take from him.
"Yes, if I feel better tonight." The brilliant smile on Edward's face made Jasper know at that moment that whatever would come, it would be worth it. They exchanged cell numbers with the promise that Jasper would call if he were still too sick to go and said goodbye. Jasper briefly wondered how Edward was going to get home, but the thought was lost as he headed straight upstairs to sleep for several hours. He was going to make sure he was healthy so he could see Edward that night.
Read and Review! Thanks. ~AJ Kelly