Word count: 4,372
Summary: Winter nights and snowfall. Hats and gloves, scarves and socks. Warm when they touched, hot when they loved, cold when they parted...every time. He didn't want to be cold anymore. AH/OOC. Adult Content.
We never get a white Christmas in Boston. It never happens. It might this year though; it's been snowing for days and Christmas is the day after tomorrow. I should be inside, lounging on the sofa with the quilt my mom made and a cup of hot coffee. I could too, but I want to see Jasper as soon as he gets here, so I'm waiting on the curb in the falling snow, startling every time I see a cab and sagging when it passes by. I shove the sleeve of my grey wool coat up a little so I can see my watch. He's late. He's always late though. I smile as I imagine him hurrying through the airport at top speed, brushing by people because he left the house late or forgot his keys. I need him to get here because it's been months and I miss him and I want to wrap myself around him, get lost in his arms.
My pulse races when I see a taxi turn at the corner and my heart hammers in my chest when it eases to the side and pulls up in front of my building. I watch through the window as Jasper pays the driver and opens the door to climb out. He grabs his bag off the seat. It's small...he's not staying long this time.
Jasper and I have been together for two years, at least in our hearts. Physically, we've only spent stolen weekends and a few short vacation weeks in the same place. Jasper is in his last year of undergrad in Texas and I'm here in Boston doing my first year residency. We want to be together all the time, which isn't possible right now, so I treasure the time we get to spend with each other and spend the rest of the time missing him. I push it all out of my head and walk toward him; I need to be touching him and then I am. He drops his bag and I pull my gloves off, shoving them into my pocket, because I need his skin under my fingertips.
We don't even speak, we simply meet and connect like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, fitting perfectly because we are meant to be next to each other. There's still too much between us, thick coats and scarfs necessitated by the early cold snap. I can't feel him yet, not the way I want to, so I trace my fingers over his cheekbone and revel in the fact that he's here. It's been too long and before I know it he'll be gone again, but for now he's here so I pull him as tight as I can and just hold on.
"Edward, I missed you." His lips caress my ear and I feel a lump form in my throat. I can't talk so I squeeze him tighter and nod. He knows; it's the same for both of us. "Let's go inside. It's fucking freezing out here."
He gets a laugh out of me with that. Jasper hates the cold. He grew up in the South and he thinks seventy degrees is cold. I grew up here and as much as they can be a pain in the ass, I love New England winters. I prefer autumn, but Jasper is never able to come out during the fall. Someday I'll be able to show him my favorite time in my favorite place. Someday I'll get to sit with him on the Common and we'll drink coffee and watch the fire hued leaves drifting on the breeze. Someday.
"Whining already." I pull away and Jasper bends down to grab his bag, sliding the fingers of his hand between mine. It's always this way when he first gets in, this need to touch constantly. It's also the reason I will feel so empty when he leaves again. For now I want to enjoy the feel of him. We let go when we hit the stairs, the stairwell too narrow to walk side by side. With Jasper behind me, I can feel the weight of his eyes on me, right through the layers of wool, his gaze searing into my flesh. He only need to look at me and I burn.
Jasper huffs all the way up the stairs, muttering under his breath about buildings with elevators and thin air. "Are you ever going to upgrade, Edward? This place is going to get condemned one of these days." I know all the things he hates about this place; the old glass window panes that rattle, the way the whole building seems to sway when the winds howls at night, the ancient plumbing that takes a good ten minutes to get hot water up to my floor. They are the same things that I love, and there is so much more. The way the afternoon sun fills the living room with gold, the creaky hardwood floors, the giant claw-foot bathtub. This is home for me, and sometimes it's all that comforts me during the times we are apart.
"Not a chance. To know her is to love her, Jasper." My father taught me that a house is like a woman; be good to her and she will be good to you. Of course he also said something about bare wood floors being better than having the curtains match the carpet, but that was before I told my family I was gay.
My parents were incredibly supportive when I came out in college, although I think my dad was a little disappointed that he wasn't able to pass down all that he had learned about women. My mother told me to find my happiness wherever I could. She also told me that my father had never slept with anyone except her and that he was mostly full of shit. They had given me a wonderful portrait of what love looks like and encouraged me to paint it whatever colors I wanted. My love is the colors of the sand and the sky and the crimson red that looks so good on Jasper.
Jasper laughs lightly. We've been over this issue before. He thinks I should get a nicer place. I don't think I need to change my life to make him happy since he is only here a few times a year. It is the source of our only ongoing argument and, at the heart of it, what we are fighting about has nothing to do with what building I live in. It's about the fact that in six months Jasper will be done with school and we will have to decide where this is all going to go. As much as I long to be with him when he isn't here, I'm not going to beg him to come here, nor am I in a position to leave Boston to be with him. I have to finish my residency and Jasper is going to grad school. We could be in this holding pattern for years and neither of us are happy about it, but the alternative is worse.
I push open the door and hold it for Jasper, thrilling at how he brushes against me as he passes. He drops his bag and begins to shed the layers he is bundled in. He unwinds the scarf and pulls the knit cap off, draping them across the radiator in the corner to dry them. I stare at them, loving the dark red slashes atop the gunmetal because they mean Jasper is home. I don't ever wear red and he always does. He takes off his coat and hangs it on his hook, the one that is never used unless he is here. I've already made quick work of my outerwear, but he's still covered in a thick wool sweater and hiking boots. I smile because he is overdoing it a little; it's not that cold.
"What?" He watches me as he sits down and starts loosening the laces on his boots. "What are you smiling at?"
"You. You're dressed like you're scaling Everest, Jas. How many layers do you have on, anyway?" I walk into the kitchen, still smirking at him, and grab two mugs from the cabinet. I pour the coffee and before I can turn to get the cream from the refrigerator I feel Jasper pressed against my back, his hands winding around my waist. I grip the edge of the counter because it keeps me from melting into him and I lean back enough to remove any space left between us. I shiver as his cool lips find my neck and at the contrast of his tongue, hot on my skin. I can't keep myself from moaning at his touch.
I turn in the circle of his arms, pulling away only as much as I need to to move, not wanting to create any gaps. I need every inch of him on every inch of me. Once I'm facing him, he moves his hands to my hips, the tension radiating out of his fingertips and down to my bones. I forget sometimes that I'm not the only one who feels lonely and desperate when we aren't with each other. He pulls me closer, pushing me backwards with his body at the same time. He's hard against my thigh and soft against my jaw, the perfect counterbalance of want and need.
I'm always nervous the night before Jasper comes to visit, like we'll forget how to do this, forget where desire ends and love begins and exactly where they meet. We never do forget though. We do this like we were made to do it, hook and eye, meant to connect. He moves his mouth to mine, breathing and barely touching, mumbling about how I should find out exactly how many layers he has on and brushing against my lips with every word. He's waiting for me to meet him there, in that place where it's just time. And it is, it's time and I catch his words on my tongue, swallowing all the anxiety in the air and letting him in, letting him really be home.
There are four more layers; the thick wool sweater, the soft flannel button down, the thin white t-shirt and the unnecessary thermal top. Four layers, which when gone leave only his heart and mine. I strip them away without hurry because we have time and for tonight I let myself forget that we don't have much of it.
We stay in bed most of Christmas Eve day, sleeping and waking, drinking coffee and talking about whatever comes up. We both need a day of nothing except each other. Between school and traveling, he looks like he could sleep for a week, even more haggard than he usually is when he gets in. I spend hours watching him sleep, adjusting the blankets and wrapping myself around him when he looks cold. The apartment is drafty and there is always a chill in the air, which I'm used to but Jasper is not. My holding him close inevitably turns to soft touches and deep kisses and drifting fingers which then turns back into holding because he really is tired and we've already made up for lost time throughout the night.
We finally dress in the afternoon and leave the house for a bit, bundling up against the cold once again. Jasper isn't even be overdoing it this time with the layers, because when we step out into the street the air is so cold you can see the crystals in it and the sidewalk is icy and slick. We take the T and get off at Park Street, climbing up the stairs and out onto the Common. Winter in the city is not the stuff of postcards. When the sky blankets the world in white the city quickly turns to a dingy grey. The constant traffic turns the powdery flakes into a slushy, wet mess. It's not exactly Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, but as we walk across the Common what woods exist are lovely, and in the fading evening light, they are dark and look almost deep. And promises, there are those too, unspoken promises of later and soon enough.
Jasper starts to head in the direction of the Chinese place, since it's tradition. It's funny to think of it as a tradition because we've only been together on Christmas Eve once. Still, we went for Chinese last year so we'll get it this year too. We don't have Sunday mornings reading the paper over coffee. We don't have every other Friday drinks and dinner with friends. We don't have all the things we want, but we have this and I really need for it to feel like enough.
I grab his hand, trying to smile behind my muffler and pulling him with me across the Common. The snow is still fluttering down like falling stars, but not the kind you make wishes on. I want him to come with me and not ask questions, but that's not his way. "Where are we going?"
"I want to take you somewhere for a minute." It's not fall and the bright colored leaves are long gone, but I want my someday now. I keep tugging him along, the wool of his gloves slipping against mine. I grab hot chocolate at the concession stand before we reach the frog pond, the frozen surface covered with dozens of skaters, a rainbow array of figures dotting the ice, moving and spinning like a kaleidoscope. The flakes continue to drift down over all of it, softening the edges of the world. "This is it."
"This is what, Edward? I mean, it's nice. Freezing fucking cold and really nice. But what is it?" He circles his hands around the steaming cup and looks at me, waiting. He's cold and looks impatient, like he doesn't want to be here, then his eyes soften and he pulls down his scarf long enough to sip his drink and smile softly at me before pulling it up again.
"This is my favorite place, Jasper. This is where I come when I need a minute. This is where I come when I miss you too much. It's not my favorite time of year here, I love it best in autumn when it's crisp and cool, not too cold. You can get by with a sweatshirt and I come here for hours and watch the life all around me. You would love it here then, I think, and I want to show it to you then, but you're never here then and I didn't want to not show it to you this time in case..." I lose my words, they spin away from me and I stop.
He finds them. "In case..."
I can't answer because everything sounds like a guilt trip and I don't want to do that, not now, not to him. This isn't his fault, it's just how it is and I can't put this on him. I turn away and stare at the skaters again, their numbers dwindling as the darkness creeps in further. It's Christmas Eve, people are heading home to their families, their traditions. I turn back to say we should head to dinner but I don't get a word out because Jasper is right there, his mouth catching mine hard. It's not soft, the gentle hello of yesterday long gone. This is possessive and needful, his tongue the only warmth and it burns against mine, his teeth a tug against my skin, the wool of his scarf snagging on the day's growth on my jaw.
When he finally pulls away, he tilts his mouth to my ear. "Thank you for showing me, Edward. Now let's go home." His voice is rough and soft and filled with aching and in that moment I want him more than I ever have. We head back the way we came, more hurried now due to the dropping temperature and our need to be together.
We're seated on the train, the cars half empty at this point, the stores closed, last minute shopping over and done with. "Should we get dinner?"
Jasper shakes his head at me, locking his eyes with mine. He wants for nothing right now, save me. The shiver within me has nothing to do with the chill in the air.
"Are you sure? You've got to be hungry by now." I'm not stalling, I want nothing more than to blow of dinner entirely and be home with him, but we really have barely eaten all day.
"Twinkies. Above the the sink, on the left. They'll do." Jasper is the only person I know that shares my love of Twinkies, and he know where my stash is. How does he know? I try and remember if I've ever taken them out while he was around. I don't think so. While I'm trying to recall, the train pulls into the stop near my apartment and Jasper grabs my hand, leading me out into the night and up the short two blocks to my building. The wind whips around us, the heavy snowfall of earlier continuing and turning into a full blown Nor'easter. He takes the keys, unlocking the entry door and heading up the stairs first. I've never seen him make the climb so fast before and I stay right behind him. He goes to unlock the door, jiggling the key the way you need to because it sticks, and I wonder how he knows to do that.
I don't have time to think about it more because as soon as the door is closed and locked he's pressing me up against the wood, his mouth all over mine again, demanding and deep and seemingly endless. He pulls away and starts pulling off all of his outerwear, taking no care with it, tossing it to the ground. The scarf, the hat, the coat are all cast aside and I'm starting to unbutton my jacket when his hands are shoving mine out of the way. He moves quickly, pushing it off my shoulders and easing my sweater up over my head. He's not harsh or rough; he's hurried, unable to wait and I'm catching up to him. I want him, now. It doesn't matter that he's not here in the fall, he's here right now and I should be enjoying every second with him. It takes less than a minute and we're both left in only jeans.
I step toward him, close no longer enough. I need him, need his hands everywhere, need his mouth on me, now. I brush my fingers across his stomach, the muscles clenching under my hands, and he shivers. I could pretend it's all from me, but it really is chilly in the apartment. "Bed?"
He touches his lips to mine, once again just a brush. "Bed."
We leave the wake of discarded clothes in the living room, turning up the heat on the way, then undressing quietly in the dark. Between the storm that is still raging outside and the fact that it's Christmas Eve, the typically city noise is muffled to almost quiet. I climb back under the pile of blankets and wait for warmth, not from the covers, not from the radiator...from Jasper. He is what warms me, he is what takes the chill out of the air for me. He slides in next to me and the combined body temperature is noticeable, heating me, and then he's touching me, heating me more. He's been here for twenty eight hours and I finally feel like he's here, like he's mine again. I let go and let him take me over completely.
Nothing exists outside of us right now, nothing. It's his lips on mine, soft and strong. It's his hands on my skin, his nails scraping slightly over my chest and every ridge of fingerprint as he takes me in his hand, stroking me with the perfect rhythm that only he knows. It's his mouth everywhere, the parts that matter most and the parts that only matter to him. It's the weight of him on top of me, the delicious warmth of him reaching every part of me, making sure it will be good. It's the pressure, unending as it moves slowly from outside in, to inside out, to everywhere. It is just us, just this night, this hour, this moment and it's everything. He keeps us connected, movements slow and deliberate, angled and perfect and I'm there, coming apart while he talks softly in my ear, breathless from exertion and his own impending release. "I'll see it in the fall, Edward, I will."
Perfect becomes more perfect with moans of pleasure and whispers of love and then all is quiet. I'm on my side, facing the windows and watching the snow twisting and whirling against the ink sky. Jasper is behind me, still holding me while he sleeps. I pull away gently, not wanting to wake him and pull on sweats, heading out to the living room and wrap the quilt from the couch around me. I stand by the window and touch my fingers to the cold glass, hoping it will snow enough to ground all the planes at Logan for days so I can have more of him. The pane shakes against the pads of my fingers and I wonder if Jasper is right about this place. I concentrate on the noises around me, wanting to burn this into my brain, this night that will fade to dawn too fast. The gentle hiss of the radiator, the occasional car driving by below, the clock ticking away the time we have together. I hear the bells of a nearby church sound midnight and it's Christmas, white and wonderful for once.
"Merry Christmas, Edward." I turn and he's there, rumpled and tired looking and smiling.
"Merry Christmas. You don't have to get up, Jasper. I couldn't sleep and you should rest. You're traveling again...when? Tomorrow?" I know it's soon, he didn't pack for two weeks.
He ignores the question, walking over toward the closet. He opens the door and pulls a flat, wrapped box off the shelf before walking over toward me. He stands behind me, putting his arms around mine and resting the box against my chest. "It's officially Christmas. You should open it now."
I take the box and turn to him. He's quiet, nervous almost. "Jasper, what is..."
He backs away and heads into the kitchen. "Not saying a word. Open your gift, Edward." He comes back a minute later with the box of Twinkies and flops down on the couch. "Go on."
I sit down by his feet, which he promptly pushes under me for additional warmth. "Jasper, why aren't you wearing socks?"
"Edward, open the damn gift." He's laughing now and I open the box, pushing aside the tissue paper to reveal a pair of red wool socks. I look at him and he smiles, soft and slow and almost hinting at something.
"Socks. Um, they're great. Thank you." I don't know what to say. Jasper knows I hate red and I have a half dozen pairs of wool socks.
"You don't like them. It's fine, I love them." He reaches over and pulls them from the box, removing his feet from under me and slipping one on. He smirks up at me, his eyes light now. "There's more in the box." As he pulls on the second sock, I continue to stare at him.
"Did you buy me socks you knew I would hate so that you could steal them when you visit?" I'm laughing now, loving this Jasper as much as I do the sweet and sensual man I was with an hour ago.
"Actually, no. The socks were really always for me. Keep going."
I push aside the tissue paper and inside lies a key and envelope marked with the name and address of a local self-storage facility. I look up at him, not understanding this gift either. He's not smiling anymore; he's looking at me softly and with hope.
"I only packed for the weekend." I nod.
"You noticed." It's not a question and I nod again. "Figures, you notice everything. Edward, I didn't fly up to Boston, I drove."
"You came in a cab...from the airport." I'm lost, trying to figure out what he's talking about.
"I took a cab from there." He motions toward the envelope in my hand. "I finished school, Edward. I'm done."
"I started taking extra classes last spring and over the summer. I loaded up this semester so I could finish." My head is swimming with information and I can't process that he's done with school.
"So you can hang out for awhile?" Jasper moves closer to me on the couch, taking the envelope and key and placing them on the coffee table. The clank of the metal echoes throughout the still night. I search his face for the answer and then it's there. "Are you staying?"
The words settle over me like the snowflakes outside, melting into me one by one. Jasper is staying. He's not packing up tomorrow and leaving for another three months. He'll be here to read the Sunday paper over coffee, for every other Friday dinner and drinks with friends, for the Common in the fall when the leaves are everywhere. My mind halts, spinning then stopping. Fall. Grad school.
"Jasper, what about school?" I miss him, there are days it's too much to even think about but I'll be damned before I let him give this up to be here with me.
"BC, if they'll have me. If not, I'll find someplace. Don't worry, Edward. I didn't change my plans, just the geography."
"You're going to go to school here? In Boston?" I realize I sound ridiculous and Jasper moves closer, his lips barely touching mine, like before. "You're not going back home?"
He leans closer and breathes into my ear, into that spot where all the important things were said. "Edward, I'm already home."