Title: The Kinsey Scale
Pairing: Edward/Jasper
Word count: 7,098
Rating: MA
Summary: Edward is madly in love with his roommate-who is not gay. ...or is he?
Edward decides he detests pop psychology.
A tale of botched seduction, cocktail confetti, subway songs, and dour uncles.


It goes like this: I am madly in love with him.

I know because his teeth are disgusting.

Fine, not disgusting. Crooked. The bottom row makes the Pyrenees look flat. Texan ranching families apparently don't believe in the suburban mandate of orthodontia. So, yes, fine. I'll confess: Those dental pearls are sickles, absent of symmetry, and yet I want to suck the sheen off each ghastly triangle.

I know I love him because when I'm messing with my keyboard, humming or fiddling or what have you, he'll come in strumming his guitar with an orange bandanna that says "Paco's Tacos" on his brow, and the way my fingers are pressing on the keys it's like sad, public masturbation, like my fingers are dicks being jerked with pathetic, indeterminate squalls, because I can't relax. If I do, I look at him. I look at him. I stop playing, and I have to beg off. That's why I make myself stay now no matter what. I won't let myself hurt him. It's better to make the face smile, bury my melancholic notes with turgid finger jerks. Let him sing.

I'll cry later.

I know I love him because when I see him with her, I hate myself. She's beautiful, and not in a boring way either. She has porcelain skin; a sharp, quick nose; and... if I'm honest... amazing hair. It's short, but the angel-black curls somehow make her look like a sylvan princess. It makes you want to touch her face. Kiss the top of her head. This is why I hate this soft little woman. Alice.

This is also why I tell her, when she asks, that yes, I could fuck her.

"Hmmm..." Her eyes do a sidewinder before they roll back. She's imagining herself as a journalist. She always does this. "But you don't like vag." It almost comes off as an accusation, like she's a daytime talk show host.

"But I can appreciate beauty." I award her with a seductive smile. "Fucking you would be like art in motion. I could handle that. After all, I'd die for art. I'm an artist. I get a hard-on for Picasso. I can get a hard-on for your pretty figure—although..."—I frown in apology—"we might have to do it from behind."

But Alice presses on, and I don't not notice the tinge of pink staining her cheeks. "So, that would make you a 5—I'd pegged you as a 6."

"I'm pretty sure I only get pegged because I'm a 10." I pout.

Jasper, flopped as he is in the recliner, laughs. "Not that scale, Edward. She's talking about the Kinsey scale."

I turn back to her. I quirk a brow.

Alice explains, "It's for my Sexuality class. The scale attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of their sexual activity at a given time. A 0 is completely heterosexual. A 6 is completely homosexual. A 3 is bisexual, etc."

"So, I'm a 5?" I deduce.

"On the scale."

"What are you?"

"A 3."

"Really?"

"Yes." She axes the final s on the word in a way that is uncharacteristically defensive, but then she shrugs. "Besides, Jasper's a..." She turns to look at him. "A 2 or a 3, we said?"

"2.5," Jasper says.

"Which is pretty much a 2," she says. D-e-f-e-n-s-i-v-e.

But I'm not listening with any real care. There a number that's echoing in my head. 2.5 - 2.5 - 2.5 Which is another way of saying that Jasper's had thoughts about men before. Read: Not completely straight. Maybe, he's even thought about...

I rise. I have to leave the room. They're staring at me, but I make an excuse about having forgotten an assignment.

Really, though, I flee. I can't handle his eyes right now.

-o-

For your information, I do not say yes every time someone grabs my cock and kisses me.

Of course not.

But... it was in the dark room, and it was Riley, golf-clubs-and-waxed-beavers-only-Riley, who groped me. It also didn't hurt that his biceps were perfect. He'd been talking to me for some time. I'd been ignoring him.

"These pictures are going to be great," he said.

"Great," I agreed.

"But geez, I guess, that's stupid for me to say. Your pictures are always really good."

"Thanks."

"I like them... the best. Of the whole class, I mean."

"That's really nice."

"Especially, the"—he swallowed—"the self-portraits. You're pretty hot normally, but you're also incredibly photogenic."

That's when I feel fingers on my forearm, and I realize that I have been propositioned. The line of dialog clicks.

I stand silent as I feel the fingers slide up my arm, and then there is the step forward, the closing of proximity. I let him. I let him lick against my neck and cup my ass as he breathes in overeager pants. I help him out when his fumbles with my jeans buttons become awkward yanks. He's messy when he sinks to his knees, but as far as dark room experimentation goes—it isn't bad.

For, with an imagination as wild as mine, I can imagine anything. In the darkness, I can replace one blond for another.

-o-

Riley's got his dick inside me, and my fingernails are snagged in the paisley distress of the recliner arms. The rocking of the chair is coinciding with the smacking of my prostrate. I am close, so close. That's why I don't hear the jangle of keys, the opening of the door.

When I see Jasper, it's the second after Riley's bitten into my shoulder to come. The pain from the bite has made me jerk—right—to face the doorway. Then it's like it's in slow motion, except that it's in less than a second: I'm coming and coming and shooting out, but my eyes are fixed on Jasper's. On his shocked blue eyes. On his hand that is searching the shape of the wall for support.

I close my eyes. Behind me, Riley pulls out with a hissed fuck. He flips us, and we're rocking in a tangle on the recliner.

I hear the slam of the door.

Riley's mad. He's not okay with Jasper knowing about his dalliance with cock.

Fuck him.

But whatever questions Riley's asking, whatever curses he's making—I shush him.

I just came, I just watched Jasper as I came, and right now, all I want is to be rocked in this over-sized chair.

-o-

Alice asks me for a threesome, and I spit Chambord and tequila across the coffee table. Jasper's in the kitchen, looking for a beer.

"No," I shake my head. "I don't do threesomes. Ever."

"Why not?"

"I'm selfish. It's supposed to be about me," I snip.

She sulks for a second, staring at me like she can break my resolve.

When I merely smirk, she turns away. "That's why I'm confused," she mutters low, almost like she doesn't want me to hear her, and Jasper comes into the room with his beer cuddled to his chest.

Jasper frowns though when he sees the pink alcohol trail across the table, but then he looks up at me and grins, if a bit tightly. "Edward, you really need to keep the fluids off the furniture."

I sputter, and Jasper laughs at my reaction, but Alice... Alice doesn't respond at all. She merely looks confused.

That's when I realize. He didn't tell her.

-o-

We haven't been talking much these past two weeks. Part of it is midterms. Part of it is Alice. Part of it has been that Jasper saw me getting fucked raw, and neither of us has weeded that part of the garden, so to speak.

But when I come in on Thursday night, and he's on his bed with his face smashed into the pillow, I know there's something more than normal amiss.

"Jasper..." I call, walking across the room toward him.

He doesn't say anything, just lies there. Perfect and beautiful and pillow-smooshed.

I sit on his bedside. "Hey, you all right? Was Banner's midterm awful, like you thought? I meant to ask Eric, but I forgot."

"Midterm was fine," is what I hear grumbled through the pillow.

"Things okay with Alice?"

He rolls over. His eyes are red, not red like he's been crying, but red like they've been open for too long, or like allergies season is in high swing. But it's not. It's the first full week of March and everything is still dead.

"Alice, she's..." He trails off. His hands start to reach for the pillow. He wants to flip back over and hide again.

I stop his hand. I grab it and pull it toward me, squeezing it firmly and resting it on my thigh.

Jasper knows I'm not leaving until I've heard it, so he continues. "Fuck. Alice's been on the sexuality kick, right?"

"I didn't notice." Sarcasm. "She's been soliciting group sex."

Jasper doesn't laugh. "I was... okay with it. I mean two girls, right?" He gives a weak chuckle.

I make zero attempts to hide my revulsion at the image. I'm probably not a 5. Or maybe a 5.5... Regardless, I say, "I take it the incident didn't go so well—since you're hiding in your pillow."

He nods. "At first, she kept saying that we'd switch it up. That we'd try it with a guy, and then a girl, but..." Jasper shook his head. "It was really stupid."

My mouth is dry. "So, who was the girl... the guy?"

"There was no guy." He doesn't look at me.

"Who was the girl?"

"Bella Swan. You might know her. She's an English major. You might have had her in a class?"

I shake my head.

"Well, she... and Alice..." He sighs. "They liked it better than I did. I mean, I liked the idea of it, but when it came time to act—I just told them I'd watch."

"Oh."

"Don't say 'oh' like that. It's too ominous."

"Um, I can't imagine it's good to watch your girlfriend get it on with someone else?"

"Yeah... I didn't like it. I mean, they were both beautiful, but it was them. It wasn't... whatever it was supposed to be, but I don't know, Alice seemed to have a really good time."

"She came in an angry torrent of girl love?"

"They both did."

"Right. So..."

"So?"

"Wanna get wasted?" I offer brightly.

"That's really not smart."

"Call it imbecility. Imbecility sounds like the highest form of stupid, doesn't it?"

Jasper snorts. "You're so..." His face breaks into a smile. "Let's get out of here."

-o-

I don't get to choose because this is Jasper's cheer-up session, so instead of going to the Mandarin Oriental where I could drink Kir Royales and nibble on petite egg rolls, Jasper convinces me to roll with the farm animals at the his favorite "dive bar."

When we enter, the bartender, better known as Leah, smiles idiotically at me, and greets, "It's Edward!" She thinks I'm funny because apparently, I never enter her establishment without a pout.

"I want something... blue," I announce. I brush off my bar stool before scooting forward.

"Miller Light," Jasper orders.

"Heathen!" I gasp at the blasphemy. "Don't let him imbibe that." I turn my pleading eyes toward Leah.

Jasper turns toward me, as is our routine. "I don't have your monthly allowance."

"Which is why I am paying for... a Brooklyn Lager or an Allagash. Oh wait, how about a Blue Moon?"

"Compromise. I'll get him the lager," Leah says, ignoring Jasper pointing at the Miller Light sign, and she heads off to the other end of the bar.

"But what if I don't want...?" Jasper trails off.

"You do," I say. "You may not know it yet, but you do."

Jasper gives me a weird look.

When Leah comes back with Jasper's beer, I point. "It's delicious. I know it."

"You don't even drink beer," Jasper grumbles as he takes a sip.

"But he reads brewery reviews," Leah says, grinning at the two of us as she wipes off the counter

Jasper doesn't even argue. "Somehow, I'm not surprised." He shakes his head, and then he takes a real drink.

Next thing I know, Leah has brought me my something blue. It has both a slice of grapefruit and a cherry bobbing at the top of the basin. I am absurdly pleased. I decide, as I do within fifteen minutes every time we come here, that I adore Leah more than life itself.

Jasper and I drain down our first drinks quickly.

Leah brings us another round, although I switch to "green."

We proceed to get skunk drunk.

-o-

"Edward, no," Leah answers me. "I'm not bringing you a Bloody Mary. That'd be disgusting. Besides, I'm trying to keep you on Tequila. If you switch around too much, you'll be sick."

"I want blood."

"What about another red drink?" she offers.

"But only the tomato looks really red. The rest look pinky."

"No."

"But I want the full rainbow!" I growl-whine, baring my teeth. I am vicious. Roar.

At my side, Jasper is giggling. His arm is crossed across his face, and he is giggling with little snorts on the lacquered bar.

Leah rolls her eyes, and repeats, "No."

"Fine, just bring me a shot," I grumble.

Leah sighs. "I'll bring you a final tequila shot, but then I'm cutting you off. Off. Got it?"

I bestow her with a solemn nod.

I happily slurp down my shot when it arrives. Jasper is now nursing a whiskey like a swaddled infant, close to his chest. He has refused to obey the beer-before-liquor-never-been-sicker rule.

-o-

When we finally leave, I'm singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in a terrible key, and Jasper has taken to pointing out all of the colors in the crayon box.

"Cinnamon."

"Periwinkle."

"Watermelon."

"Magenta." He's pointing at the late 1980's theme of our hallway's wallpaper.

"No that's fuchsia," I correct him.

"Fuck-you-sa," Jasper twists the syllables.

I laugh, although I also manage to figure out the keys to get into our apartment. I plug the key in and I turn and push. The door swings open, hits the wall, and bounces back. I get smacked in the head. I fall down.

I cry. Sort of. It's more like a grunt-whimper-whine.

Jasper pats my head, threatens the doorframe with a scary fist, and then slides down beside me. "We never made it into the living room," he says ponderously.

I lift up to observe this fact. The living room is far away. "Like eight feet," I whisper in dread.

Jasper's eyes go from mine to the start of the living room carpet, and he too finds the distance to be lengthy. "Should we crawl?" he asks.

"If I crawl, I might puke?"

"Crawl!" Jasper gives the battle cry and charges forward.

I lunge for him before he can get away.

"Edward," he complains. I have captured his ankle. It is mine now.

He tries to take it back, but I give no quarry. That is, until I sniff.

"You have bad feet smell." This is even worse than the crooked teeth. Because I find it endearing.

Jasper flips over on his elbows even as his ankle remains gripped in my clutches. "I need water. So do you, and you're putting a halt on my journey to the oasis." He gets twangy on the last few words as he points toward the kitchen.

His twang shall not undo me. "You have a very nice ankle even if it's smelly," I tell him.

Jasper sniffs. "You're the one who won't let go of my foot."

"I won it fair and square. I'm not letting go of it without a fight."

As I say these final words, the drunken haze in Jasper's eyes morphs into a calculating kind of glitter—but I'm prepared. In the next second, Jasper's leg is kicking in my arms. His other leg swings out, trying to knock me away, but I was a gymnast in high school. While he was playing with his ponies on the ranch, I was doing flips off the double bars.

This means I end up on top of him. Both of us are hissing out-of-breath giggles. We're laughing so hard that I'm shaking, and my arms are wobbling, which makes me decide that arms, as structural appendages, are pointless. They're just long floppy things, anyway, so I release them and more or less flop down onto my best friend, my roommate, Jasper.

Bad idea.

Jasper lets out an "Oomph" and another round of giggles, which would be funny except there's another problem.

Put my lower extremities against any man when I have my tequila-time goggles on, and I'll probably stone-up.

Put me against Jasper I-am-the-most-beautiful-of-all-God's-creatures and I'm an instant diamond. Extreme pressure. Heat. It's chemistry.

So, yes, "the elephant in the room" is what's in my pants and pressed up against my best friend.

I start to pull away almost immediately, except that as I am sliding down and away, I feel...

I stop. It's wrong, but I press against him again.

I have to know. I have to.

His grunt, and the way his lips press with the tiniest tip of bottom tooth showing. Yes. He's hard, too.

And more importantly, he hasn't moved away.

I climb back up him. He's watching me, dilated pupils seeming extra huge in the dark of the room. He's not tense. He's just so here.

"Jasper," I say.

He doesn't respond. He just looks at me.

"Jasssper," I repeat, and I let a smile creep onto my lips as I look down at him.

He smiles back at me, a toothy grin.

It's so silly. I want to kiss him. I tell him this. "I want to kiss you."

He keeps on looking at me with that deep-eyed stupor. It's not saying no.

So I do. I cup either side of his face. I tilt his chin up. I move in slowly. Our lips brush. We're perfectly aligned. Jasper gives a short gasp, and I nip gently, so very gently at his bottom lip.

Then I wait. Suspended.

He has to kiss me back. If he doesn't kiss me back, I'll go. This isn't about a simple seduction. It's about him. I want him. I want every stupid song and every stupid Crayola hue in his eyes, skin, hair. I want him to want me. Nothing short of that is worth it. This friendship isn't worth a simple one-off.

I love him too much.

At first, I'm not sure if it's the trembling of my own lips casting spit-fire about in my imagination or if it's Jasper. But then there's a real press of lips. I feel the crooked line catch of teeth against the skin of my bottom lip, and then I moan. It's loud, and ridiculous, but he kissed me back, and it's delicious like Christmas because my heart just exploded.

His lips are mine now. I decide this, and then decide it's okay to bite them. It's okay to pry them open with my own lips and drink them down.

I'm kissing him in a fury. It's open-mouthed and my tongue is cold in the air until it's melting in the steam of his mouth, and his hands. They're on me. They're not on the floor. They're on me. One is on my side and the other is on my ass.

He's as hard as I am, and yes, I may have sneaked a peak or ten at my roommate—he never locks the door, goddammit. But the feel of him against me. I'm thinking about size and length and feel and—I want to see.

I go for his button.

Jasper breaks the kiss. His eyes are wide. He looks...

But then the button is undone. The zipper is down—I have nimble fingers—and I'm gripping him, the whole silky length of him.

"Motherfucker," juts out of Jasper's lips, and his eyes are squeezed into folded fans even as his mouth is widened in an outtake of breath.

I kiss those filthy lips, and I grip him. I roll my thumb around his head and pump upwards.

Jasper's nails slice into the skin of my back. His mouth dives for my neck. I feel the subtle sink of teeth along my neck and the shiver of the accompanying moan.

I want more. More. More.

I slide down. I push his knees down, off of their grip on my sides and I scoot down him.

I lick him. I expect to hear a gasp, a thrilled exclamation.

But no.

I hear a "no." It's soft and barely discernible above his loud breathing, but it's a "no."

I almost choose not to believe it, but then Jasper says the word, "Alice."

I pull back, shaking my head. No, no, no. They are my words now. I have claimed them.

I sit up on my knees and cover my eyes with my fingers as I will it all to go away. My stomach starts to churn. I can't stop it from happening.

I vomit on the tiles of our entryway.

-o-

I am a coward.

It begins with me waking up the next morning on my bed. The sheets around me might feel silken, but all I feel are the flames. The burning filth of regret. More importantly, I have shit I can't fathom under my nails. There is scatter plot of blue, tequila-smelling droplets graphed down my left shoulder, and my mouth still tastes of puke, toothpaste, and heartbreak.

Jasper is on the recliner next to my bed. There's a glass of water next to him on the end table. His head is slumped to the side in my direction. Despite the chitty-chitty-bang-bang cacophony that I have made in my journey from my pillow to the center of the room, he has not moved. He remains out cold.

It's in this moment that I must choose. I could blame it on drunken imbecility, pretend I don't remember.

But it wasn't. But I do.

This is why I am the worst of cowards. I can't let go, but neither can I face it—him. I must flee with my over-sized keyboard and my crumbly peddler's cap smashed over my especially tragic hair.

The thing is I'm not sure exactly where I am going. I walk through the park, descend into the subway, and follow the "Uptown" signs. I almost never take the subway. Since the moment that all city taxis were required to take credit cards, I have not descended into the city depths.

I'm in my seat. There's a bored-looking Rasta chick across from me who's staring at me. Even though I give her the stink-eye, she just keeps staring at me. I decide she's smoked enough pot that her eyeballs won't move anymore. Then again, I suppose a broken, gay, Abercrombie-pretty man carrying a large musical instrument would be fascinating to a dirty, stinking stoner at six a.m. Fuck her.

I more or less play Eeny, meeny, miny, moe with the train stops. I might be in Queens. I could be in Harlem. Who knows? I just rush out the door in one burst of inspiration, making my way down the subway tunnel until it widens into a corridor, and then, without checking to see what scum is on the floor, I plop down. I turn on my keyboard and begin to play.

A note here, a note there. Random chorus. Half of a sad song.

I've been playing for at least ten minutes when I see a woman in a business suit, clutching a dollar and looking at me in confusion.

She thinks I'm playing for money.

I reach into my bag, search through until I find my box of colored pencils. I dump them into my bag and then I break the box in two and scrawl:

"No money. No pity. Please leave me to my pain — and piano playing."

I set this sign in front of the woman with a blank look. The woman reads the sign and then holds the crumpled dollar out to me anyway.

I give her my I-hate-all-vaginas-in-the-whole-damn-world look.

It doesn't seem to have the effect. She gives me a squiggled frown before walking away. I return to my keyboard, cranky, sad, and desperate to disappear in the notes, in the sounds of passing trains and rushing passerby. I want it all to end.

I am annoyed when I am yet again distracted. I feel a tap on my shoulder. I look up, and the face causes my piano playing to collapse in an awkward smattering of flats.

"Dr. Cullen?" I say, blinking.

"Hi, Edward."

"Hello."

Dr. Carlisle Cullen has nothing to do with photography or music. He teaches Biology. Yet, it's because he is probably the hottest forty-year-old male on the campus that I passed over "Ecology and the Earth" which would have been an idiot's A for his Honors Biology course. Yes, I sat in the front row. Yes, I definitely was a regular during office hours. Yes, I got an A, but what I really wanted was to be stripped naked and given an anatomy lecture while being videotaped—but "ahem." The great tragedy of this was that anatomy was second semester, not first, and Carlisle didn't teach it.

Not to mention, he is also a morally-bound 1 on that god-damned scale—which is why I have no idea why he's tapping me on the shoulder.

"Edward, are you okay?" he asks.

I frown at him because he obviously needs his PhD taken away if he's that thick.

Luckily for him, he recants the question. "Well, I see that you're not... but I thought you should note." He gives a quick jerk over his shoulder toward the pile that's amassed in front of my sign.

Someone has set down a small basket. It's filled with pieces of paper.

I lean forward and grab one. That's when I see the line-up that's surrounded me. Most of them are women and they're staring impatiently at Dr. Cullen.

I read the scrap.

212-789-6789. Ingrid.

P.S. "Hey babe, let's make a bunk bed you be on bottom I be on top."

I look toward the back of the group to see a rather tall woman waggling her eyeballs at me. Then I see the Adam's apple.

That's funny. I smirk. Then, I pick up another slip. This one is on orange paper. It says,

Tiffany - Green jacket front row.

She's cute. She has most excellent freckles and red hair, and if I were straight, I'd hit that. As it is, I hate pussy, so I turn to Carlisle. "I was very sad," I inform him.

He's giving me a knowing look, before frowning and saying, "Can I help you get back to campus?"

I sigh and think about it. Then someone catcalls. "Sing it or bring it!" It's a scary-looking cougar in a business suit.

"...or perhaps I can be your body guard." Carlisle chuckles lightly, but he's right. The crowd looks progressively more aggressive.

I pick up my keyboard in a hurry. I leave the basket and sign, despite the whined protests of a few and the booming yell of Ingrid.

I go back to face it with a tinge of studly pride.

-o-

Dr. Cullen drops me off at a coffee shop. He even buys me a mocha mint skinny latte, and tells me, "These things have a way of working out."

I don't believe him, but looking at his cheekbones is making me feel better. Even if Dr. Cullen doesn't want me, even if—J—he—doesn't—with me—there are other men. Other fish in the sea. I can make it.

These thoughts cause my eyes to swim with tears.

"I shouldn't have fallen in love with that straight fucker." I snot-sob into my elbow.

"Well," Dr. Cullen says uncomfortably, "you can't really choose with whom you fall in love."

I blow bubbles in my mint mocha through a coffee straw.

Even a hot biology professor cannot completely shed me of my misery.

-o-

I see Jasper later that day. He doesn't see me.

He's in the student union, sitting across from Alice. They're talking. Alice has her legs crossed on the bench, and she's toying with her chopsticks. It doesn't look heated, and I'm not close enough to make out the words on their lips.

I take this time to run back to the room. I grab my stuff, enough for a few days.

I plan on going somewhere better than a subway station this time.

-o-

Four days later, I'm out of boxer briefs, and when I try to buy them online—they are out of stock.

Also, I've been getting calls. From him. Calls that I don't answer, but also, he never leaves messages. It's just a little lullaby of Poker Face ding-a-linging on my iPhone, and then... nothing.

I am staying with my Uncle Marcus. Normally, I don't like staying with Marcus. He's so dour, but when I'm bleak, his bleakness is neutral water. You can sink in it, and you can't see the black from the black. It's nice. But then he decides to give me advice.

"You should talk to whoever it is."

"No."

"You don't answer your phone."

"So."

"Your presence, while not unwelcome, is uncheerful."

This catches my attention. Dear Uncle Marcus is giving me the same glum expression he always gives, but this time, he looks ever so...

"Am I annoying you?" I ask.

He sighs contemplatively and his eyes seem to roll along the curve of the ceiling. "Annoying, no, but I like you better when you have a bit more... pip, shall we say?"

I grimace at him. I most certainly do not have "pip."

"Why don't you hang out with your friend, that Jasper? He always seems to pep you up when whatever hoodlum you've been dating turns out to be more boring than unsalted oatmeal."

I just stare at him.

Uncle Marcus, whatever you might say about him, is not imperceptive. There's a long moment in which he eyes me over his teacup, and then he says, "I see."

"Yes."

"You know, it's funny. I always thought he wanted to bang you."

This causes me to spit tea onto the ginger cakes.

Marcus frowns down at the mix of spittle and ginger. "Unsanitary, but not unexpected. I'll have Martha clean up. I might have to regale her with exaggerated details of your love life"—he sighs—"she looks prim, but she eats it all up—so I don't think she'll be too cross about the mess."

"He doesn't want me," I say firmly.

"As you say," he sighs.

It pisses me off. "You're the one who prodded."

"I did. I did. It's only that people look at each other differently when backs are turned."

"You think you see this, though I don't."

Marcus shrugs. "It's just that I have no one to look at. I haven't for a long time."

He's talking about Auntie DiDi. We all loved her, and she left us.

It's enough to shut me up. At least Jasper still breathes.

-o-

It's around two in the afternoon that I feel the presence of eyes on my back.

I spin around, my eyes are searching the street. I don't see anyone because there are a lot of people. I am at the flea market, and I've been sorting through old magazines from the sixties, browsing for inspiration for my semester project.

I slowly turn back around. I flip through the pages a few times more, and then I raise my eyes to a mirror that lines the back booth of the stall. When I don't see anyone approaching me for a full two minutes, I switch booths. This new booth has old jewelry, engraved doorknobs, and the broken pieces of antique dolls. I am crouching down to search through some prints when the booth owner calls to me.

"Hey, that your boyfriend?"

"I'm here alone," I say, not looking up.

"Then who's the blondie?"

I stand and turn.

"Where?" I ask, searching the crowd.

"He was over there, by the Chinese massage tent."

I almost walk over there. There's a part of me that wants to ask—but then I realize, it could be Riley. It could be anyone, and if it were Jasper wanting to see me, why would he hide?

"He's not my boyfriend," I tell the guy.

"Looked like he wanted to be."

I give him what might pass for a smile.

-o-

I sneak back into the apartment while he has a midterm.

What I see stops me short. There is a trail. Like Reese's Pieces laid out for ET. Except not chocolate peanut butter droplets in 1970's colors. They are pictures.

The first one is the one I took. It's from freshman year. It's a picture of him laughing.

The next one is of us in a mirror with Emmett and his sister Rosalie. It makes me smile.

I realize what this is. Jasper's telling me that I matter, that he wants our friendship back. It hurts, but it's sweet.

There are more pictures. Me when I was dating that idiot Laurent. Another from when I was actually happy with this guy named Garrett. It's that picture that stopped me short. It's not my picture or Jasper's. I don't know where the hell he got this picture. But in the picture, Garrett has his arms looped about my neck, his thumb pressed against my jaw. Jasper is next to some girl—I think her name was Jane. She's holding his hand. She's smiling at him, but he's not looking. His gaze is fixed on me and Garrett, and if looks could kill...

I try to remember that night. We were drinking. We had lots of friendly banter.

There are more pictures. Pictures of the two of us laughing together.

A picture of me coming out of the water when we all went to the Bahamas.

I am not conceited when I say that I looked good.

It's the final set of pictures that confuse me. There's a picture of Alice. She's not with Jasper. She has her hand inter-looped with Bella's. They're leaning in close. The angle could be wrong but they look like they're on a brink of a kiss... Then the other shots. My empty bed. A sad-faced Leah. A broken bottle. Finally, there's the last picture. It's face down, so I have to flip it.

It's a picture of me. I'm twisted in my sheets. It must be the early morning. There's nothing particularly seductive about the picture. It's just sweet.

I am still holding the picture when he comes in. I don't hear him, because I didn't close the door. I just followed the pictures, so that's why he's less than five feet away from me when I finally see him.

He stops when I look up.

"I thought you were in class," I say.

"I finished early. We had a test."

"Oh, really?"

Jasper's tongue rolls up to touch the front of his top teeth, and he gives me one slow nod. "Really."

"You left me pictures." I point. There's indisputable evidence.

"I broke up with Alice."

I don't allow myself to hear any implication in this statement. What I do is pick up the Alice-Bella picture. I hold it up with a question mark on my face.

"That's one of the reasons."

"What was the other reason?" I suck at control and ignoring implications. The last word shakes before shattering.

Jasper doesn't look at me as he walks toward me, but he takes three steps and he's there, sitting next to me on my bed, and he reaches down and his fingers push through the photos until they single one out. It's the picture of me, sleeping.

"That's an interesting picture," I say.

Jasper nods. "It's gorgeous."

I muster a smile. "Very nice."

But then his hand grabs my hand. The grip is tight, almost pinching as he says, "You. Not the picture. I meant you. You're gorgeous."

"I'm..."

I don't get to finish the sentence. There's a jerk of movement and the sudden wafting of photographs spinning through the air, and I feel lips, Jasper's lips, upon mine. The tongue that pushes into my mouth has no small amount of violence, and the hands that grab my face, my hair—they smash us together. Our teeth smack, and it hurts, but then it doesn't. It's tender and anxious and so familiar that it's awkward.

"I'm sorry," Jasper whisper between kisses, "I'm sorry I had to say no."

"It's"—kiss—"okay"—kiss—"it's okay." Because really, Jasper's perfect body is on top of me—on his own volition—there's no Alice, and he's kissing me. Everything is very okay.

But then he does something that's not okay. He pulls back. He pulls back so that his bruised lips come into full view, and seem galaxies away. I try to lean up to kiss them, but he stops me. "I missed you. God, you shithead, don't ever leave me like that again."

"I was at Marcus's."

"I know."

This smells of a meddling uncle. "While I was out of class?" I will have the truth.

"He told me you'd need a grand gesture."

This garners a giggle—but not because it's true. It's just funny. Possibly true.

"So the pictures, they were the grand gesture?"

Jasper, coy little fucker that he is, smiles at me, and he lifts up. He scoots his knees up on either side so that he's sitting over my thighs. He's propped back so that he has to push his hair out of his eyes, but then his hands are on my sides. Double thumbs flip up the bottom of my shirt. They slide in from right and left until they close in on the spot just beneath my belly button. He looks so carefree and lazy that I almost miss his game.

Except that one finger slides up my happy trail, and the other pushes out my button. I'm squirming because my tummy is ticklish, but then I'm gasping, because a cold hand is sliding down, pushing out the zipper as it moves, and then he's holding me.

"No boxers?"

It takes me a minute. I unclench my teeth so I can say, "Why do you think I came back? I ran out of underwear."

I expect him to laugh, but instead he's just watching me, and his hand has started a slow descent and rise on my cock. It's enough to make me pull him down and make him kiss me.

He allows one kiss, and then he says, "I have a grand gesture," which means he slides off the bed onto his knees, and says, "come here."

I won't say I scramble, because I do not scramble, but I do move in a prompt fashion. I scoot to the edge, and I can tell he's nervous but determined, so when he grabs the sides of my jeans and pulls, I lift up, which means my cock springs free, and he grabs it, just grips it from top to bottom with wide spread fingers, and then his tongue flicks out with a delectable curly-cue, and this is the start of Jasper-my-Jasper, nobody-but-my-perfect-Jasper giving me a blow job.

I am aware that he's probably never done this before, so I am really trying to keep my hips still, to not try and take control of his mouth—because he feels amazing, and he's beautiful, and his eyes are focused away, because he's probably shy and embarrassed slightly with the newness.

I stop him for just a second. I grab him. I look at him. I kiss his forehead.

"It's okay—right? I wasn't doing it wrong." He doesn't understand.

"It's perfect. You're perfect, but you can look at me."

He stares at me for a long second.

"Okay."

And then he pulls me in to his mouth again with a long, dirty suck.

This time he doesn't look away. He just stares straight at me. He smacks his lips and swirls his tongue—and holy mother of fucking hell, he's beautiful.

He's going slowly, but I'm painfully close. He takes one particularly tight draw on me, and my fingers are digging channels in the mattress. I let out some small sound, like a yip, that makes him go faster.

I'm seeing the room start to spin when I realize that he's still looking at me. We're locked in a gaze, and my teeth are gritted and he's just working me over and over.

My stomach muscles tighten, and I whisper his name, and he pulls back as the tension shoots down.

Jasper's still holding me as I tense in his hand and then spill all over the floor. He watches it all with flicks of a smile between my cock and me.

Then it's over. I'm spent, and I have Jasper at my feet.

I pull my jeans off. I chuck them toward the hamper and I slide back on my bed and pat a spot. He slides in next to me, and I kiss him. I kiss his bright red lips. I'm very proud of those lips.

A moment passes. A moment that's short enough for him to curl against me and press his nose against my nose while a hand slides to grip my ass.

I'm so happy it hurts.

"So you like me," I say, looking down before looking up.

I get an eye roll.

"But you like girls more," I insist.

"How would you know that?"

"That—" Alice's "—scale. The Kinsey scale."

"Edward," Jasper groans, "forget about the scale."

I pout. The scale is how I knew about Jasper.

Jasper grips the side of my face. "It's pretty fucking simple. I like you. I want you. Nobody else."

"Not even Alice." I watch his reaction.

"You," he whispers.

This is how I end up kissing him into oblivion and stripping off the rest of his clothes. This is how new rules are enacted in our apartment (e.g., Jasper is only allowed to wear his orange bandanna to bed). Edward must not take naked pictures of Jasper without his permission, no matter the quality of the morning light.

This is how I end with a perfect 10.