Title: Raze
Pairing: Edward/Jasper, Edward/Jacob
Word Count: 4,956
Rating: M
Summary:
Scarred both physically & emotionally, Edward attempts to move past the loss of his partner. Broken and alone he seeks for comforting arms. Will he ever find them?


Raze – verb – to tear down; demolish; level to the ground


His ghost haunted me.

I don't know why it surprised me. I should have expected it today of all days. It shouted at me from every corner of every room, even though he himself had never set foot there.

I returned home from my shift at the station and immediately headed for the shower. I stripped while I waited for the water to warm, pausing to examine the scars that ran down the right side of my back, shoulders and bicep. An image of his eyes, worried and partially obscured behind the goggles of his safety helmet, flashed through my brain. I turned to step into the shower, trying to remember the good stuff. My shower stall was the only place that I let myself think of him.

My beautiful Jasper. My partner on the team and in life. My best friend. My lover.

I leaned my head forward and let the hot water sluice over the back of my neck and shoulders. Tears welled in my eyes as I remembered. Would I ever forget the startling blue of his eyes or the rolling sway of his old world Charlestonian accent? I clung desperately to the good memories.

The end of the shift often found us wired instead of exhausted. Jasper began pulling the ingredients for dinner out of the refrigerator as I dragged our bags to our bedroom. I emptied them into the laundry on the way and then headed to our bathroom for a quick shower.

I walked back into our bedroom naked, towel drying my hair and not paying attention until I heard Jasper clear his throat. I froze in shock, drinking in the sight in front of me.

He stood framed in the doorway. He'd changed from his jeans and t-shirt so that he was wearing only his heavy uniform coat, protective boots and pants. They were unbuttoned and his suspenders sagged around his hips, revealing his treasure trail and the sharp V below his waist. The black ink of the tattoo on his chest stood out in stark contrast to his creamy skin.

I was instantly hard. Hell, I think I even drooled a little bit.

"Well, hey darlin', I heard there was a fire in here that needed to be put out."

If he hadn't been so damn sexy, I would have snorted with laughter at the obvious line. Instead his words worked like magic to unfreeze my muscles and I was across the room in mere steps.

I attacked his skin with my mouth, sucking on his full bottom lip, nipping at his jaw line and biting the muscles in his shoulders as I pushed his coat off. He shoved me away and then hit his knees, drawing my cock into his mouth until I hit the back of his throat. I groaned and leaned over him, bracing my arms against the doorframe.

His name fell like a prayerful litany from my lips.

Within minutes, I was spilling my orgasm down his throat like an overeager teenager. He cleaned me with his tongue and then grinned up at me.

I pulled Jasper to me and kissed him deeply.

"Edward," he whispered, hesitating. "I need to be inside you tonight. Will you let me?"

I swallowed hard against the knot of trepidation that threatened to settle in my chest. I had bottomed for Jasper before, it wasn't new, but it was not my favorite position and he knew that.

But if he needed me that way, who was I to deny him?

I kissed him again, pushing his pants down as he kicked off his boots. I grabbed the lube and a condom from the table beside our bed. I lay on my stomach as he stroked his hands over me lovingly. I fought against the fear, stilling as he trailed his tongue down my spine.

"Turn over, love."

I flipped over and tried to relax as he pressed one and then two fingers into me. It didn't hurt as much as I remembered and I began to harden again, moaning slightly as his fingers moved inside me.

Jasper leaned down and took me in his mouth again. My breath began to shudder in and out.

I tensed once I heard the condom wrapper rip open, but soon relaxed again as he continued to stroke me. Jasper pushed in to me slowly, pressing forward to kiss me softly.

"I love you," he whispered, his voice strained as he attempted to hold still until I grew accustomed to him. I shifted my hips, letting him know I was okay before whispering that I loved him too.

He loved me slowly and sweetly, bringing me to a second climax before letting himself spill into the rubber. Jasper slipped out of me and collapsed on my chest. I stroked my hands through his blond hair as he caught his breath.

I loved him so completely. That was the last time I bottomed for anyone.

Ignoring my erection and the ache in my chest caused by the memory, I finished my shower quickly before dressing and heading to the kitchen for a quick dinner.

I turned on the television in the corner as I waited for my TV dinner to heat in the microwave. Flipping through the channels impatiently, I only paused when the Technicolor world of Oz filled the screen. My stomach turned as the memory of one of our earliest dates burst through my mental block.

I opened the door, nervous butterflies fluttering like crazy in my stomach. He stood there, grinning that gorgeous smile, holding a DVD case from the movie store. I hugged him, taking a moment to inhale. He smelled wonderfully like the leather of his jacket and cloves, and it was difficult to pull away.

"Edward, I brought you my favorite. I was hoping we could stay in tonight." He quirked one eyebrow up and winked at me. We settled in the living room, me sprawled on the couch, him on the floor in front of me.

I thought I would bust something, trying not to laugh as the old black and white movie came on the screen.

"Really, Jasper? The 'Wizard of Oz'? Isn't that a little cliché for a gay man's favorite movie?" I couldn't stop the small chuckle from escaping. He threw a decorative pillow at me.

"Edward, clichés are clichés for a reason. This movie is a classic and should be revered by all, gay or straight." He huffed out a breath and turned his back to me, concentrating on the screen. I frowned at the realization that I had really hurt his feelings.

"Aw, baby, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." I laid my hand on the back of his neck and rubbed gently. He leaned back into my touch.

"So what are you going to do to make it up to me?" Jasper turned and touched his lips to mine.

Dinner that night went uneaten, and we didn't get to see Dorothy make it to the Emerald City.

I shook my head as the beeping microwave pulled me out of my reverie. Appetite gone, I removed the plastic tray of what barely passed for food and dumped it directly into the trashcan. I wandered absentmindedly to the window, watching as the sun set over the city skyline.

One year and one day ago, I was a man who possessed everything I'd ever wanted. I worked a job that I loved, that made me feel like a hero on a daily basis. I returned home at the end of every shift with a man who soothed my often-turbulent emotions even as he caused my body to burn. Together, he and I owned a beautiful two-bedroom apartment in an artistic, funky part of town.

It wasn't perfect. The captain and other guys that worked with us at the firehouse didn't fully know that Jasper and I were lovers. We worked not to flaunt our relationship, and they let us live our lives in peace as we chose.

No, it wasn't a perfect life, but it was damn near as close to perfect as it could be.

Then came that Tuesday.

It started so normally. Jasper and I ate breakfast together and then grabbed our bags full of gear for our shift. We took the time for one last quick kiss before we ran out the door.

God, if I could just go back to kiss him one more time. If I only had one more chance to lengthen that kiss, one more chance to pull him to me and taste his mouth on mine. If I could have only known, I would have made that kiss last for hours, work schedule be damned.

But I didn't know. And so we headed off to work like we always did.

We were playing basketball in the yard behind the firehouse when the call came in. The game was sweaty and our hands roamed in completely inappropriate places, but I never could keep my hands off him. As soon as the alarm bell rang, Jasper dropped the ball and we sprinted inside to our lockers.

Within minutes we were on our way to a house fire. We worked smoothly as a team. Everyone from the captain down to the probie knew their roles and did their jobs. It wasn't until the mother ran up, screaming that her daughter was inside, that everything started to fall to hell. We switched gears instantly and went into full search and rescue mode.

Jasper and I were the entry team that day. We swept through the house together, searching every room for the little girl. I could see the fear in Jasper's eyes as we approached the back of the house and the last of the rooms that hadn't been searched. He went into the room first, dropping to his knees and brandishing his flashlight to check under the bed, which had already caught fire.

I moved to him and extended my hand to help him stand. And then my whole world fell apart as the beams in the ceiling gave way. They clipped my shoulder, knocking me sideways, but hit Jasper directly, burying him in burning debris.

I think I screamed. I know I dug frantically to try to unearth him. My uniform coat felt like an encumbrance and I tore it off, along with my helmet, in a futile attempt to see and move more easily. I ignored the smoke clouding my lungs and stinging my eyes. I paid no heed to the sparks settling on my clothing and searing into my skin. My only thought was getting to Jasper.

It was the second entry team that found us. They pulled me away, patting at my skin frantically, trying to extinguish the flames. I watched as James and Mike, two men I'd thought of as brothers-in-arms, unearthed Jasper. He lay limp, unmoving, as Mike scooped him up into his massive arms. James drew my unburned arm over his shoulders and the four of us made our way as quickly as possible out of the house.

The paramedics swarmed over us as soon as we hit the grass. I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye and turned my head to see the formerly frantic woman hugging her daughter to her, weeping softly.

I went mute.

The rest of the day was a blur of pain and fear. It was our best friend, Bella, who came to me in my hospital room to tell me that Jasper didn't make it. It was Bella who held me while we both wept out our sorrow.

The next day I lay in bed at the hospital in a haze of narcotics. One by one the rest of the members of our team came by to see me, to express their sympathy about Jasper, and to tell me to get well soon. Anger boiled in me because I knew that I would never be "well" again. I ignored them, and soon they left me alone. My grief made them uncomfortable. They couldn't process it within the bounds of what they knew of my relationship with Jasper.

The following three months passed me by in a fog. Jasper left a will, leaving everything to me except for a small amount of money to his favorite charity. But then, out of nowhere, a sister appeared to challenge the contents of the will.

Bella urged me to hire a lawyer, but I didn't have the energy for a fight and I didn't want Jasper's things or his money if I couldn't have him.

I let her have it all. Everything except for his sketchbook and his favorite sweatshirt emblazoned with the Citadel logo on the front. Those two items were so much a part of him that I couldn't bear to let them go. I hid them in my car when his sister showed up to pack his things.

I took a leave of absence from the station and, without Jasper's income, couldn't continue to afford the mortgage on the apartment. I sold it and moved to a studio across town. Within the space of ninety short days, my life looked completely different.

And I was continually haunted by the image of that homeowner clutching her daughter to her and weeping as she watched us. That little girl was never in that home. He died for nothing, because of a miscommunication. There were days that I thought I would go insane over that fact.

Eventually the fog lifted a bit. While most would think this was a good thing, really all it did was bring the pain into sharp focus for me. I went back to work and moved competently through my days. But the pain poked jagged holes in me until it took all of my energy to stay awake during my shifts. If I was home, I slept. I often forgot to eat and lost weight, turning my lean, muscled frame back into the gangly one I dealt with as a teenager.

And then, when the pain became unbearable, I stumbled upon a solution that sealed the holes, at least temporarily. Even as I began to pull away from Bella and my parents and every other important person in my life, I began to visit the bars again. I was still handsome and had no problem pulling in willing participants to help me forget, even if it was just for the moment.

I found that I could take a small amount of comfort in the arms and mouths of other beautiful boys. At first I would just let them suck me off in the back rooms of clubs.

The first time I went home with one, now nameless and faceless in my memory, I could barely get it up. It was only after I closed my eyes and pictured my Jasper, curled around me and filling me, that I was able to get hard enough to sheath myself and slip inside the willing guy waiting for me. After it was over and we had both come, I dressed quickly and slipped out the front door while he was in the bathroom cleaning up. I walked a couple of blocks, tears streaming down my face, before I had to stop and vomit into a trashcan.

The sense of betrayal was enormous and overwhelming. I felt like I'd cheated on Jasper, like I'd been unfaithful in the worst way imaginable. I cried and begged his forgiveness all the way home.

I'm sure anyone who saw me thought I was deranged.

It got better after that. After awhile I was able to separate my love for Jasper from my need for physical release.

Tears slid unchecked down my cheeks as my mind wandered back through the last year. I wondered briefly if every anniversary would be this difficult or if the first one was just especially painful.

The idea that I would never hold Jasper again, never touch him or kiss him, remained preposterous to me. My mind refused to wrap around it as fact. Even after a year, as I watched the moon rise over the city skyline that I loved, part of me continued to listen for his footsteps in the hall and his key in the door.

Later that evening, the summer night had cooled to bearable levels and the light breeze felt good where it brushed gently against my skin. I walked down the street toward my favorite bar, completely aware of the admiring glances of the people around me, but choosing to ignore them.

I hadn't bothered with my appearance; I dressed simply in jeans and a light blue, short-sleeved button down shirt. Hell, I couldn't even bother to shave, but if I'm honest, this all worked to my advantage. It set me apart from the desperate and too willing. If anything, I looked a little dangerous, which was good bait to reel in the big fish in the club.

I slipped through the front door of Play with a nod to Mark, working security at the door. He flashed a quick grin and then turned to card a couple of twinks who were trying to get in with fake IDs.

Even as I settled on a stool at the bar, my favorite bartender, Alec, was pouring my whiskey on the rocks and winking at me. I grinned appreciatively.

"How's it going tonight, Tony?" His drawl was reminiscent of Jasper's, but also completely different. His had more of an East Texas twang to it. I sipped from my glass before answering.

"Much better now, my friend," I replied, tipping my glass in his direction.

"Let me know if you need anything else," Alec called as he walked away to help someone else. I shook my head briefly as I watched him. He smiled easily at the patron in front of him. It was too bad that he was so happily married.

Normally this wouldn't necessarily be a deterrent for my attention, but the fact that Alec was happily married to a woman was definitely a problem. I shook my head again and turned on my stool to look around the bar.

It really was busy that night with a good mix of people. My eyes skimmed past a group of straight girls huddled together and giggling nervously. I sought out the dance floor, watching the glistening boys grind and writhe against each other in time with the heavy bass reverberating through the building.

I sighed once before turning back to the bar and finishing off my drink. Before I could look for him, Alec was back, pouring me another. Then he was off again.

I rubbed at my jaw roughly, wondering suddenly if I had the patience for the scene. But if I ever needed a distraction, it was at that moment.

No sooner had the thought passed through my brain then I felt a presence settle next to me. I turned and met his gaze; warm brown eyes regarded me solemnly. His body heat burned into my side and my mouth went dry. I swallowed ineffectually.

He towered over me, but not in an attempt to be intimidating or super-masculine. He was just tall with very broad shoulders. His ebony hair hung down to his shoulders and when he smiled, a dimple winked at me from his left cheek.

He just stared at me until I began to squirm under his steady gaze.

"Hello," I said finally, bringing my glass to my lips to wet my parched mouth.

"Hi," he replied softly. To my surprise, he burst out laughing and shook his head. "I'm sorry, man. I was just trying to think of something to say that wouldn't sound like the cheesiest pickup line ever."

I grinned at him and leaned in closer.

"Can I buy you a drink?"

Before I could move, he leaned over the bar to wave Alec over. He turned back to me.

"How about I buy you one instead?"

I nodded my acquiescence and let Alec refill my glass. I turned back to the man standing beside me.

"Thanks. I'm Tony, by the way." I held my hand out to him, enjoying the warmth as he enfolded it in his.

"Jacob. It's very nice to meet you, Tony." Jacob's gaze flickered down to my mouth and back up again. He blushed lightly under his honey colored skin.

I let my hand brush up against his on the bar. His skin was warm against mine and my heart gave a sudden lurch in my chest. I leaned in closer and inhaled. Jacob smelled phenomenal, like the whiskey we both were drinking and cinnamon gum. Very male.

I sat back and smiled again. "Will you dance with me, Jacob?"

Instead of answering me, Jacob looked over his shoulder to a couple of guys sitting together on a loveseat by the window. They watched us warily, but I couldn't tell what their connection to Jacob was.

He turned back to me, his grin faltering a bit. I cocked an eyebrow at him, still waiting for his answer about dancing.

"I'd rather sit and talk to you awhile, if that's ok, Tony."

Huh. That was new. I wasn't accustomed to having to talk to my targets before fucking them.

"Um, sure, I guess." I motioned to the couple sitting across the room. "Are they friends of yours?"

Beside me, Jacob's body relaxed and he laughed. "Yeah, the one in the striped shirt and Chucks is my cousin, Seth and that's his boyfriend, Peter, in the grey button down. They're a little….protective."

"Protective, huh? Are they afraid I'm going to steal your virtue?"

I expected him to laugh, but Jacob ducked his head and stared down into his glass. He swirled the amber liquid around a couple of times before taking a large swallow.

"To be honest, Tony, you have a bit of a reputation around here. Seth doesn't really like that I'm over here talking to you."

The feeling of shame was as unexpected as it was unwelcome. I looked away.

"Yeah, well, we all have our stories don't we?" I muttered.

Jacob looked up again, stricken. "Jesus, I wasn't trying to insult you or anything. Sorry, man."

I shook my head. "Nah, don't worry about it. It can't be insulting if it's true, right?" I cast around my mind trying to find a different subject. "So, Jacob, what do you do besides buy drinks for strangers of ill repute?" His laugh was quick and melodic.

"I'm a chef, actually." He named a restaurant downtown that Jasper and I had enjoyed on more than one occasion. The pain flashed through me, but disappeared before it could take root.

"Hey, I've eaten there. The food is excellent."

"Thanks. And what about you, Tony? What do you do besides steal the virtue of innocent boys?" I smirked at him.

"I'm actually a firefighter." I watched as Jacob's eyes glazed over. I didn't have to be a mind reader to know where his mind had wandered.

Eventually, as we chatted, we drifted closer and closer until our sides were pressed together. His body heat seared into me, but it was a pleasant burn.

Jacob had a wicked, dry sense of humor that had me bursting into loud laughter at regular intervals. His sharp observations of the men and women around us were insightful and clever, and I was astonished to find that I was truly enjoying myself with him.

I told him stories from the firehouse and some of the more ridiculous calls we'd been on. I stayed far away from memories of Jasper.

The techno dance music switched to a pop song with a slightly slower beat, and an awkward silence fell over us. I drained my glass and set it back down, trying to avoid his gaze.

Jacob caught my hand in his and ran his thumb over my knuckles. He nodded toward the dance floor where couples were moving in sinuous rhythms against each other.

"Will you dance with me, Tony?"

I nodded and he rose, pulling me up behind him. I tagged behind him like a child, completely entranced with the length of his legs and the movement of his broad shoulders under the cloth of his shirt.

Jacob stopped in the middle of the floor and tugged at me until I lined up perfectly against his body. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I matched the movements of his hips as they kept time to the song.

The music was dark and sensual, and the tension rose to an almost unbearable level between us as we danced. I could feel his heart thundering in his chest and knew that mine was beating an answering staccato.

He was slightly taller than me and I was able to turn and trail my lips lightly along the ridge of his ear. He shivered and his hands tightened at my waist. I closed my eyes and just breathed him in, warm and musky and male. So much more appetizing than the cologne that most men wore in places like this.

His hands moved from my waist to my back and then lower until they pressed me against him. Desire, thick and potent, swirled through my veins and I sighed.

Jacob pulled back slightly until his forehead rested against mine. Without saying a word, he pressed his lips to mine. I kissed him back greedily, opening my mouth, needing the taste of him on my tongue. I whimpered softly as his tongue stroked mine.

Once again it was Jacob in control, retreating as we both attempted to catch our breath. He buried his face in my neck.

"Tony," he whispered. His voice was gentle, soft against the background noise of music and chattering boys, but I heard the need in it and it snapped something inside of me.

I no longer wanted to be "Tony," the alpha male who needed to be in control and who fucked and forgot. For Jacob, I just wanted to be me. Edward. The man full of pain and hurt and insecurity, but also the man that Jasper had loved. I wanted to be worthy of both of them. I didn't want to hide behind walls anymore.

So I broke my number one bar rule.

I leaned away from Jacob and he straightened up, those warm brown eyes meeting mine. I cupped his face in my hands and pressed another short kiss to his full lips, praying that he wouldn't turn away in anger and disgust.

"Edward," I said, stroking my thumbs over his cheekbones. "My name is Edward. I only go by my middle name, Tony, in the bars. I don't want you to call me that anymore."

I watched as first confusion and then hurt swept over his beautiful face.

"I'm sorry I lied to you. But, I swear, that was the only thing."

I searched his eyes until I saw understanding settle over him. He pulled me in close again.

Over his shoulder, I saw Seth and Peter making their way toward us and dread flared in my stomach. Seth caught Jacob's arm and attempted to pull him away.

"Come on, Jake, we're leaving," he called over the music. Jacob backed away from me, but left his arm around my waist. He looked back and forth between Seth and me for a moment. Pressing a kiss to my cheek, he began to turn away.

Panicking, I caught his hand in mine and leaned in close to his ear so that he could hear me clearly. "Don't go yet. Please. Come home with me."

Jacob turned back to Seth and Peter and waved them away. "I'll meet you outside."

Seth pressed his mouth into a thin line, clearly upset that Jake was taking my side, even if only momentarily. Peter smiled and waved goodbye to me and then wrapped his arm around Seth, pulling him away.

My heart pounded in my chest as Jacob leaned in close to me again. He kissed me fiercely and I tangled my hands in his hair. A noise that could only be described as a growl rumbled through him as he broke contact.

"Edward, let's get something straight," he said, his breath ghosting through my hair making me shiver. "I'm not going to be some random one-night stand with you. That's not the way I am."

I looked up at him helplessly. I didn't want him to be a one-night stand, but I didn't know if I had it in me for anything else.

He grinned and then continued, "My phone number is in your back pocket. When you decide you want more than that, call me and we'll set something up." Jacob captured my hand and I groaned as he pressed it against his rock hard dick, trapped in denim. "I want very much to fuck you, but only on my terms. Oh, and Edward, when I do fuck you, we won't be playing a game of 'just the tip.'"

Jacob ran his tongue along the shell of my ear before pressing a firm kiss to my jaw.

Then, before I could move, he was gone, disappearing through the crowd. I stood there in shock, hard and aching and utterly alone.