- alternative ending II -
The voice is quiet, eerily so. But I still recognize it immediately.
The tears are running on my face and I can't understand anything but the fact that it's him, he's not gone, he's still there.
My heart sings as we weep, no words are necessary. Angela beside me smiles through her tears.
Finally someone else takes the phone from Jasper and says the words I've been longing to hear for so long; he'll be coming home in two days.
All my inner chaos is gone, all that is left is anticipation but even that feels calm now.
Angela is the one who calls Jasper's family and gets the details when all I can do is pace through the rooms of our home.
They had found the rebel camp and gotten the hostages out safely. Nobody gives information on the condition in which my husband is. That makes me more nervous than anything.
"Sometimes I wonder what it would've been like," Angela says the evening before Jasper should be coming home. "If Ben would've come home. I'll never know but I'm happy you'll get your husband back." Her smile is honest and full of her warmth.
The strange unmarked SUV that drops him off is creepy. It's like from a movie and it makes me nervous all over again. I haven't heard Jasper speak other than my name on the phone and his sister tells me he doesn't speak much at all. They tried to get through to him on the phone, unlike me. I preferred to wait, to see him for myself.
The skinny man who gets out of the car is a shadow of my vibrant husband. Suddenly I'm not just anxious, I'm scared. It's not the quality of his injuries I'm afraid of.
He flinches when I touch his arm, but I need to make sure he's real.
For the first week he speaks only the minimum and our home becomes a quiet place. Phones ringing feel like an insult towards our silence.
One morning I find him sitting on the window-seat with a mug of coffee in his pale, skinny hands.
"I'm trying my best, Edward." he says quietly and I sneak closer to kiss his temple.
He leans towards the touch before pulling away again and I give him his space, just like I do every night in our bed.
Weeks later we have to hire someone to take care of the calls and emails we get daily. Everyone wants him to make his experience public. They offer him deals for a book or a movie, appearances on talk shows and even Oprah wants him.
All I want is my husband back for real. All Jasper wants is to be left alone for now.
It goes on for weeks until one night he wakes up from another of his nightmares and I feel him curling up against my side for comfort.
The next morning he's willing to talk to me.
It's surreal, watching from behind the cameras as he's being interviewed in the one show he agreed to do. The old, confident Jasper is there for a moment as he recollects the worst weeks of his life and answers questions.
When the cameras go off, he walks into my arms and weeps, letting the mask fall. He's holding on by a thread.
I take him to the airport, this time canceling our flight and to rent a car. We need time for us, without interruptions.
The drive home takes two days, it's not enough but at least it's a start.
We spend two nights in hotels and Jasper makes me pick good ones. He says he doesn't want any dingy motels and I have to smile. It's the first real demand he's made since he got back.
The second night we get room service dinner and sit in our bath robes on the bed, watching stupid game shows on TV.
It feels good, almost like old times and I know Jasper feels it too. After we've eaten, he strips his robe and stretches on the bed with his eyes closed.
It's the first time I'm seeing him naked, with all his new scars and I take my time, kissing each of them.
The flood gates opened after that night. Jasper doesn't want to drive, doesn't trust himself enough yet, but as I drive the rest of the way home his hand is on my thigh.
When we stop for lunch, he sits next to me in the diner's booth. It's like he can't be close enough. It scares and elevates me at the same time.
When we get home, the first thing he does after we get inside is lock the door behind us. Then suddenly his lips latch on to mine and he growls into the kiss that bruises my lips.
He drags me towards the bedroom, stumbling with the buttons of my shirt and almost trips us both when he kicks his shoes off in the hall. I'm trying to go with the flow, but something in me resists. I'm not sure if this is right, if he's ready, if I'm ready.
"No talking," he growls against my neck as he pushes me to the bed and climbs on top of me.
Suddenly I'm incredibly aroused. The man hovering above me looks glorious, not scared or uncomfortable. He looks like my Jasper.
Maybe words are overrated anyway?
There is no hesitation or awkwardness. He prepares me with great care even if his movements lack finesse in his haste to get as close to me as possible. If he wasn't so clearly my Jasper in that moment, I would be scared of his intensity.
But I'm not scared, I'm waiting. When I can't wait anymore I pull him closer, wrap my legs around him and pull him into my body. My arms wrap around him too and we stay like that for a long time.
No words are needed, everything is right in our little world again.
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A/N: So, how was it?