SLASH BACKSLASH ONE-SHOT CONTEST
Story Name: The Power of Time
Pen name: HereWithoutYou
Pairing: Edward & Jasper
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to SM, I merely borrow her characters to have some fun.
To see other entries in the "SLASH BACKSLASH" contest, please visit the C2: http:/www[dot]fanfiction[dot]net/c2/68069/3/0/1/
Walking through the sun bathed grass; my feet take me to my destiny, almost on their own. Even from far away, my eyes could only fix on one thing: the man with a mop of bronze hair laced with gray sitting on one of the benches near the small lake, watching the swans play in the water.
"Hello," I say gently as I came closer to the bench and sat down.
Looking up, he smiles back at me. "Hello."
We sit in silence for some time, both of us focused on the swans in front of us before I break the silence. "Do you want to hear a story?"
"Sure," he agrees easily and turns to face me.
~*~*~*~*~ Flashback – 38 years earlier ~*~*~*~*~
Groaning, Jasper rolled out of bed. Now that the stupid thunderstorm had awakened him, he needed to pee badly and couldn't fall back asleep anymore. Tiredly, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes with the heel of his hands as his feet carried him through the dark halls.
It was only his third day at the St. Augustin private boarding school in Chicago, Illinois. It had been his own decision, knowing that his parents didn't care anyway; his twelfth birthday, one day before the new school year started, was only further proof as Jasper had spent the day by himself without either of his parents acknowledging what day it was. They hadn't done it on purpose, they probably just had forgotten.
His parents, as part of Chicago's high society were barely ever at the big mansion they called home and couldn't care less what Jasper did as long as he behaved and didn't bring shame on the family name. Going to a private boarding school would only help enhance the picture of our sophisticated family. Let's just say that with his parent's wish to never have kids, going to St. Augustin had been the best decision for all of them.
Exiting the bathroom, he walked back towards his room; after only three days Jasper felt more at home here than he ever had at his family's mansion. Not even sharing the room with another student could put him off. He didn't mind sharing too much; his roommate Edward was the same age as him, but exceptionally quiet and shy. Jasper had first seen Edward in the student hall, his bronze hair standing out against the numerous blondes and brunettes as we all waited for the headmaster to welcome us to the new school year.
He was happy finding out that Edward was his assigned roommate and also a little surprised to find Edward content walking from class to class with him despite of them barely talking. The bronze haired boy seemed to be oblivious to the other students flocking him in the halls as they tried to befriend him as well.
Entering their room, Jasper stood still for a moment until his eyes adjusted to the dark room; he didn't want to turn the light on and wake Edward. Stepping further into the room though proved his worries unnecessary; the light wouldn't have woken Edward up because he already seemed to be awake.
Edward's whole body, even his head, had disappeared under the blanket as he kept shifting underneath. Walking forward until Jasper came to stand right in front of the bed, he noticed that Edward had stopped shifting; now he was shaking badly enough that the whole covers shook with him.
"Edward, are you okay?" the blonde whispered, praying that his voice wouldn't startle Edward further. When there was no visible reaction, he lay a hand on top of the covers and spoke again, "Edward? It's me, Jasper."
At first Jasper thought that Edward still wouldn't react, but then his bronze hair appeared from below the blanket, followed by green eyes; big and round with glistening tears.
"Sorry," the boy croaked and before Edward could continue, another thunder sounded directly above the school. He winced at the sound and shut his eyes tightly as he buried himself in the covers again.
It was easy for Jasper to remember his own fear of thunderstorms. He had hated how loud the thunder rolled through the huge Whitlock manor and the lightening had always made him imagine the trees outside of his bedroom window as big monster arms, reaching to catch him. One night their maid, whom Jasper had taken to call Nana, must've heard him cry. She had been sitting on his bed most of the night, holding him and stroking his hair until he had calmed down enough to fall asleep.
The simple comfort of another person had seemed to help Jasper enormously back then and within seconds he had made a decision. He did the only thing that had helped him; he lifted the covers and slid into bed next to Edward.
"Shh, it'll be over soon," Jasper soothed the other boy, rubbing circles on his back. It took a while before Edward's muscles started to relax under Jasper's hands and his breathing calmed down gradually as well. By the time Edward turned around to face Jasper, the storm had moved on and only distant thunder could be heard now. In the dim room, the embarrassment on Edward's face was plain to see.
"Look, there's no need to be ashamed," Jasper told him. He didn't respond, but he looked at the blonde as if to say Yeah you aren't the one cowering under the sheets, afraid of a thunderstorm.
"I've been afraid of thunderstorms, too," Jasper explained quietly, realizing only now that he had just crawled in bed with Edward without even asking his permission; probably another reason why the other boy was embarrassed. Climbing out of his bed, Jasper continued, "Our maid comforted me with back rubs when she found out and my fear lessened until it was gone; I really only wanted to help."
He was almost back in his own bed when Edward whispered, "Thank you for comforting me then."
Raising his gray eyes to meet green ones, Jasper saw a shy smile playing on Edward's lips. Lying down, he replied, "You are welcome. Sleep well."
The following day neither of them mentioned the nightly incident and everything went on as usual; they walked to classes and did their homework together in comfortable silence. Days passed and Edward's shyness subsided more with each day, especially when there were no other people around. They had become best friends and together they even befriended another group of students; Emmett, Jake, Seth, Rosalie, Alice and Bella. They had grown close as a group, but Edward and Jasper were practically joined at the hip. For the first time in his life Jasper had made friends.
Time ran and before Jasper knew what was happening, it was time for Christmas break. All his friends were packing to go home while he felt torn and distressed. Yes, they were his family, but they couldn't have cared less if Jasper came home for Christmas break or not and he really didn't want to go home.
Edward picked up on his mood easily and soon Jasper found himself explaining his relationship with his parents to Edward. Not only did he feel wary, explaining how there wasn't an actually relationship between them, also did it seem too good to be true when Edward believed everything Jasper told him. The blonde had expected at least some questioning, but Edward simply took his words for what they were; he trusted him.
"Come with me," Edward said suddenly.
It took Jasper a moment to comprehend that Edward had just invited him to spend their vacation with him and protested, "I can't impose on your family like that."
"Of course you can, I just invited you; my parents won't mind," Edward argued back and stood, walking towards the door and called over his shoulder before he left, "Start packing, I'll be back soon."
Then Jasper was left alone, sitting on his bed and sighing. Edward couldn't possibly make this come true, no matter how good a real Christmas celebration sounded. It was something Jasper had never before experienced, a quiet celebration within a family on Christmas evening; his parents were always busy on such days, running from one social event to another.
Spending the day with a loving family apparently wasn't in his cards Jasper thought and squished every bit of hope welling up in him. Leaning back on the bed, Jasper willed himself to let go of the last bit of hope he harbored; it would hurt less later on when he discovered that he couldn't go with Edward after all.
Minutes later, Edward came back; bursting into the room, his eyes glinting. Cocking his head, his gaze swept through the room before it fixed on Jasper and he spoke, "Why haven't you packed? My parents will be here in an hour to pick us up."
"What?" Jasper asked, not sure that he hadn't misheard.
With the amusement obvious in his face, Edward dragged the other boy off the bed. "I said, start packing because my parents pick us up in one hour. Have you gone deaf in the ten minutes I've been gone?" Edward teased.
In his daze, Jasper readily complied and started packing. It was hard to believe that everything seemed so easy all of a sudden. Just as Edward promised though; his parents really didn't mind Jasper's stay with them and over the course of their two week break, Esme and Carlisle behaved more like loving parents towards Jasper than his own parents ever did.
Every evening of those fourteen days, as Esme made them a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows before bedtime; Jasper wondered why Edward would visit a boarding school when he had a happy home like this. It took Jasper almost two months before he finally asked Edward about it.
They were lying in Edward's bed and Edward clung to him as the faint sounds of a storm moving further rang through the room; Jasper's hands caressing the mop of bronze hair. It was the middle of the night and Edward had found enough confidence to wake Jasper when the thunder started and now that he had mostly calmed, Jasper couldn't hold the question, which hadn't left his mind since they came back to school, any longer.
"Why are you at St. Augustin, Edward?" he asked. There was a long stretch of silence before he felt the need to elaborate. "I mean, your parents are great and I've been thinking that I couldn't find one reason why you would rather stay at a boarding school than spend your time with a family that loves you."
Another moment of silence passed and then Edward began to speak in quiet tones, "My father is a doctor you know that and he's not often at home, you only saw hints of it over our vacation. My mother volunteers a lot, she helps out in a lot of orphanages and it is time consuming as well. I don't begrudge my parents for it; I know they do it for a good cause. I love them both dearly and St. Augustin makes it easier for my parents to help others while I'm cared for."
"How can you do it so easily?" Jasper contemplated.
"There's not much to do," Edward said, smiling shyly. "It would be selfish to monopolize all their time when I know how much good they do and I don't want to be a selfish person. They make more than up for it on my vacations when they spend as much time with me as possible."
Awestruck by this revelation, it took Jasper several minutes to order his thoughts again. Could it be that he had done his parents injustice? Had he been selfish?
"Stop thinking about it, Jas," Edward murmured. "It's different with your parents; they go out, have fun and socialize. I'm not saying that they don't love you, but they don't care for you in such a strong manner that it is borderline neglect; no matter how bad it sounds."
"It's not that bad," Jasper assured him, sighing. "There's Nana, she always looked after me."
"It's not the same and we both know it."
It was not a topic that Jasper was comfortable with and while Edward knew all about his parents, he didn't want to talk about it any longer. Smiling slightly, he said, "Are you sure that you are only twelve? You sound so much older sometimes."
"Almost thirteen," Edward grinned as if that would make much of a difference. Nudging the other boy lightly, Edward added, "And you aren't any better."
Glad to see that he had calmed, now that the storm had moved away, Jasper quietly wished Edward good night and departed to his own bed. It was nice to see that it was easier for Edward to calm down after a thunderstorm now; luckily the physical comfort of back rubs appeared to help him and having his questions answered, gave Jasper a piece of mind that he hadn't felt since Christmas break. Jasper fell asleep as soon as he was comfortably nestled in the sheets.
Time flew and before Jasper even noticed how much had passed; his fifteenth birthday was around the corner. Like usual he spent his vacation with the Cullen family who had grown to be more of a family to Jasper than his blood parents. If he visited the Whitlock manor two weeks over a year, it was a lot. Edward and Jasper were still inseparable while Esme and Carlisle treated Jasper like their son; they couldn't be stopped from throwing him a birthday party either, no matter how much he protested.
A couple of days before the big day, everything changed. It was another stormy night with the sounds of thunder rolling through the room and lightening flashing as Jasper lay in Edward's bed, his hand raking through Edward's already unruly hair. Over the years Edward learned to be more and more rational about his fear of storms; he wasn't as close to panic attacks anymore and yet their ritual of Jasper calming him never ceased.
Normally they would talk about random things but tonight, Jasper wanted to ask for the first time in all those years why Edward was so afraid. It had become clear enough that his fear didn't result from childish fantasies like Jasper's. There was a story behind this which Jasper wanted to know. Edward was the most important person in his life, especially when Jasper realized that his feelings towards the other boy weren't of a strictly friendly nature anymore. He was beyond scared of these feelings and the only time he allowed himself to think about or indulge them, was when he was lying in bed with Edward.
Jasper was afraid to admit these feelings to himself, even in his own mind, and what his emotional state might mean. He didn't want to consider the possibilities of destroying a friendship so dear to him; the idea of Edward finding out about his impure feelings terrified him. But when Jasper was under the sheets next to Edward, he couldn't help but bask in the sensations of the warmth of Edward's skin or his enticing smell, clean and fresh. It reminded Jasper of the rain that wreaked havoc in the storms that weaved through their whole friendship.
"Edward, why are you afraid of the storms?" Jasper murmured, still running his fingers through Edward's soft locks.
Drawing a deep breath, Edward whispered, "When I was seven years old, there was a thunderstorm. Nothing major, just an ordinary storm, but the lightening set our house ablaze and while nobody was hurt, it was still terrible. There was fire everywhere and for a couple of painful moments I feared that none of us would get out of that house alive. Ever since, I can't seem to regain control of myself anymore as soon as I hear the first sounds of a storm. I start to panic and my breaths keep growing more unsteady the longer the storm goes on; I know it sounds silly."
"It doesn't," Jasper promised. "These are just the lasting signs of a trauma you endured. Was it here, in this house?"
"No, the little that wasn't destroyed by the fire was ruined by the water when the fire department arrived. My parents rebuilt," Edward explained in a whisper.
"I'm sorry," Jasper murmured as he felt his eyes become heavier and heavier. The only sounds left were Edward's breathing and the rain softly beating against the windows, coupled with the warmth of Edward's body heat, Jasper was mere seconds away from falling asleep as the contentment of the situation settled over him. The last thing he heard was Edward's quiet thank you before he fell asleep and for the first time in their friendship, Edward and Jasper fell asleep together in the same bed.
When the next morning rolled around and Jasper was still lying in bed with his eyes closed to avoid the morning sun, he had a moment to enjoy the warmth engulfing him before the events of the night came back to him. All on their own, his eyes shot open and Jasper found himself still in bed with Edward; Edward's body halfway trapped over his own. Luckily Edward was still asleep, otherwise Jasper didn't know how he would've explained the morning erection pressing into Edward's body.
Terrified that the bronze haired boy trapped over him could wake up any moment, Jasper tried to wriggle out underneath Edward, but he the only thing he accomplished, was that Edward tightened his arms around him. Jasper's heart was beating frantically as he prayed for Edward not to wake up. He wrapped his hand carefully around Edward's arm and lifted it when Edward's eyes shot open. Edward, too, needed a moment before it dawned on him where they were and his eyes widened in realization or maybe because of Jasper's morning wood pressed against him; Jasper couldn't tell.
The blonde couldn't form a coherent sentence, his mouth opening and closing again as no words came. Dashing out of the bed, Jasper hectically searched for clothes to put on because he had to get out of this room, he couldn't stand to see his friendship with Edward break apart.
"Jas," Edward whispered behind him, his hand curling around Jasper's shoulder. "Please, don't go. Let's talk about it."
"What's there to talk?" Jasper asked harshly, his voice rising. "You don't need to tell me that I overstepped my boundaries, nor the consequences of it; I can already picture them clearly enough."
"What are you talking about?" Edward demanded, his voice now growing in volume as well. "There are no consequences, Jasper, at least no bad ones."
Jasper couldn't understand what his friend was talking about; the mess in Jasper's mind was too big to figure out the riddles Edward spoke in. Buttoning his jeans and pulling a pullover over his head, Jasper started for the door but froze when Edward continued talking, "I-I-I… I'm in love with you, Jasper. I was afraid to tell you about it, afraid of a possible rejection."
No, Edward couldn't be speaking the truth. Not even Jasper's parents could love him, so how could Edward? Why would he make such a crude joke? Tears were blurring his vision as Jasper fled the room and out of the house; for hours he walked with no direction. The thoughts swirled in his head and the words that he'd lost the only family he ever had, repeated over and over again. Jasper was completely lost as what to do and just kept walking until his feet turned numb.
Dawn came around when Jasper realized that his feet had carried him back to the Cullen household. He stood in front of the house for a while longer until he noticed the dark clouds coming closer and all of a sudden he forgot every one of his worries. He needed to find Edward before the storm actually started, Edward's well being was much more important than Jasper's fear could ever be.
In the kitchen Jasper found Esme, who told him that Edward had gone for a walk a little while ago. He didn't stay long enough to explain things to her and ran back outside. Standing once more in front of the doors, Jasper had no clue where to go; he could be everywhere and then Jasper remembered Edward showing him the little wooden fort when they were thirteen. The first drops of rain were already falling and the first waves of growling thunder sounded through the air as Jasper ran towards the edge of the property.
As soon as the small wooden house was in sight, Jasper yelled his name, "Edward!"
Jasper had yelled his name three times before the mop of bronze hair appeared in the little doorway, too small for Edward to even stand straight. Accelerating his steps once more, Jasper was met by Edward half way as the rain beat down on him.
"Edward," he whispered, out of breath from his sprint when Jasper came to stand in front of the other boy. "I'm so sorry."
"Silly boy," Edward whispered back. "Why wouldn't you believe me?"
"Because you can't be in love with me," Jasper croaked, pain shooting through his body as his hope shattered again.
"But I do," Edward assured, his dark green eyes glittering. "I love you and I have for some time already."
"But," Jasper started to speak but got no further as Edward's lips pressed against his; soft and warm and urgent, everything he had dreamt of. Once Jasper overcame his shock, he kissed back with a new found determination.
Edward's tongue traced his lower lip and Jasper opened his mouth in compliance, his tongue darting out to meet Edward's. Their mouths kept moving passionately against each other while the rain beat down on them restlessly, but nothing mattered anymore; not the rain leaving which didn't leave an inch of them dry, nor the thunder sounding above them. Only Edward's heartbeat against his chest mattered and Edward's next words, "Be my boyfriend?"
In the course of knowing each other for almost forty years, most of it as a couple, they had had many rocky roads ahead of them. Some took longer to clear than others and some almost brought them to a forking; yet they had managed to overcome all the small obstacles and spent their lives together. Often Jasper wondered why their love story didn't entail grand details or ultimate confessions of love, like the ones you read about and saw in movies, until he remembered that a love story didn't need any of these; it just needed two people loving each other beyond doubt.
- End Flashback -
My words drift into silence as I regard the man next to me carefully. A small smile plays around his lips once more as he speaks, "That's a beautiful story, but who are you?"
My heart breaks as I hear the three little words that destroy my daily hope. Who are you? He couldn't remember and I worked hard to keep my face friendly, the pain buried deep inside of me before I answer him, "I'm Jasper." Then, too quietly for Edward to hear I add, "And I love you, even if you can't remember. "
I would remember for both of us, now and for as long as life would allow me.
There's something I'd like to explain about this story. There are many things in it that come from my own life; situations and expressions that remind me of myself or my friends. To tell you just a few examples…
The Alzheimer's disease and its varying forms are an illness I fear a lot. It's hard to love someone who can't remember you and I'm sure that most of you have seen "The Notebook" or read the book by Nicholas Sparks which initially gave me the idea of writing this… but in the end I see the pain in my friends eyes when she tells me that her grandmother couldn't remember her.
Jasper's level of maturity reminds me of another friend, not because his parents neglected him like Jasper's did but because his family went through a lot and it forced him to grow up way too fast.
The rain (thunder and lightning) often reoccurs in this story and there's no logical reason behind it but one; the first boy I was in love with. He told me, "Think about me when it rains." and I can't even remember anymore why he said it. Meanwhile seven years passed and until this day I remember him every time it rains.
And then there's the simplicity in love. No, it's not always easy but as I've said it in the story already, there don't need to be grand gestures; there just needs to be people loving each other which I was reminded of shortly ago.
Now, these were a few things that this story means to me. To some of you it might seem boring and dull but I hold it very dear to me. Let me know your thoughts regardless of good and bad.
All of this was very last, thus a huge thanks to Jasper's Darlin' Kathy for beta'ing this as fast as she did, you are awesome bb!