'Love Actually' Contest
Title: The Moment I Can See It
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters or anything related to Twilight.
Image that inspired you: Prompt 19
There was no real reason for Edward to be sitting in a diner in… where was he? He glanced at the menu sitting in front of him; ah, Meredith, New Hampshire. There was no real reason for Edward to be sitting in a diner in Meredith, New Hampshire, but Dartmouth's graduation was looming closer and that morning, as he sat on Collis porch with his friends listening to them go on and on about their post-graduation arrangements, he just had to get away. So he got in his car and started driving east of Hanover, thinking that maybe he would drive to the coast to clear his head. But with every mile he drove he still failed miserably at his attempt not to contemplate the weight of the future.
Spring Break just ended and he had one term, eight short weeks, before becoming a college graduate and he felt… purposeless. His friends all had plans. Emmett was getting married and settling back in his home state of Tennessee. Jane and Alec were backpacking through Europe before starting work. Seth was moving to New York to be with his boyfriend. Edward was going to have a degree in music with a minor in education and absolutely no job or home to speak of.
Moving back to Chicago with his mom was laughable and he hadn't heard from his dad beyond the obligatory birthday and Christmas card in several years. He had been offered a few teaching positions in Boston and New York, but after spending his whole life in Chicago and then four blissful years in the small town of Hanover, he knew didn't really want to go back to a big city.
When he found himself driving through the lakefront town of Meredith, something about it caused him to stop. He parked along the waterfront, taking in the view of Lake Winnipesaukee and wandered around before the smell of greasy food lured him into George's Diner, a local joint that was winding down from its lunch hour.
A bell chimed over his head as he pushed through the door and a middle-aged waitress gave him a wide smile, "Seat yourself anywhere you like, hon."
Edward had nodded, giving her a polite smile as he slid into a booth near the front door, wanting to be able to see the lake. The diner was quaint and homey, exactly like he'd expect a small town diner to be. For the first time since arriving back at school after Spring Break he found himself relaxing, the weight of the future lifting just a bit.
A couple arguing quietly in a corner booth drew his attention back to the present. Their postures were all too familiar to him and with so many of his thoughts on his future he was unprepared for the reminder of his past, of his ten-year-old self, watching his parents have one of their more heated fights, bickering and tearing each other to pieces. He ran away from the house that day and it took them over four hours to notice and come find him. That night he had asked his mom why they stayed together if they were so unhappy. She told him they loved each other and that's what you do when you love someone. His dad left a week later.
Edward shook his head minutely at himself, shaking away the unwelcome memories of his childhood and exasperated by the inadequacy of love as exampled by the couple and, well, by every example of love he'd been given, actually. It wasn't that Edward didn't believe in love, he'd seen it over and over. He'd just never seen it last.
He opened the menu to George's Diner and, despite the lunch hour, decided to order breakfast. There was something about breakfast food that was comforting.
"Hi there. My name's Jasper and I'll…"
Edward glanced up at his server, Jasper, only to find his breath caught in his throat. Jasper seemed to be similarly affected as he'd trailed off during his introduction. Edward saw a small smile twitch at the corner of Jasper's lips, "…I'll be your server. Can I get you something to drink?"
Edward's breath came in pants as Jasper collapsed beside him. He was sweaty, and tired, and admittedly sore, but when Jasper brushed his matted hair from his forehead he could do nothing but grin.
He turned his head to take in the appearance of his normally tidy bedroom. Clothes littered the ground from his door, which he'd been unceremoniously shoved against when they first got to the room, passed his keyboard, where a pair of boxers had somehow landed, and culminated at the foot of his bed where the pairs of both their chucks were piled together. The sight of their shoes together in his room, like they belonged that way, made his smile grow wider.
"What are you so happy about?" Jasper asked.
"I just got laid, what's not to be happy about?" Edward grinned.
Jasper sighed contently. "Good point."
When Edward planned for Jasper to come visit him this weekend it really hadn't been Edward's intention to end up in bed, though the possibility might have crossed his mind a few times.
"I think I could get used to coming to visit you at school," Jasper chuckled.
Edward just nodded, "So could I." He took a moment to catalog Jasper's features. His eyes had drawn him in instantly. They were a deep blue and they constantly reflected Jasper's every emotion. But Edward's favorite feature of Jasper's was his mouth. His lips were soft and the perfect shade of pink-red and every quirk of them was so expressive. His smirk was nearly capable of making Edward come undone, but when Jasper really smiled it literally made Edward shiver; not to mention the things Jasper's mouth did when it was on him. God he loved that mouth.
His fingers drifted over the "mom" tattoo on his bicep, the kind that one typically found on burly biker types. Somehow it was fitting on Jasper and Edward was pleased when Jasper shivered at the sensation of Edward's fingertips on his arm. He let his fingers wander lower, to the tattoo over Jasper's hip, and this time it made him moan, Jasper's own hands moving to Edward's ass and grabbing it firmly.
Edward whimpered, making Jasper smirk. "Sorry, baby. You sore?"
"Maybe a little," Edward blushed. "It has been a while."
Jasper leaned down, sweetly claiming Edward's mouth and massaging his ass gently. His fingers lightly swept over Edward's still sensitive entrance and Edward moaned. Jasper pulled back a few inches so he could see Edward's face. "Are you too sore?" He asked, clearly wanting an answer in the negative.
Shaking his head, Edward leaned up to pull Jasper back into his kiss.
In a few short moments they were breathless and Edward squirmed under the sensation of being filled again so soon. Jasper stilled above him, letting him adjust, and ran his thumb lovingly over Edward's cheekbone, his fingers tracing his jaw. "Fuck, darlin'. So beautiful," he whispered before showing Edward just how beautiful he thought he was.
Edward rubbed his eyes, squinting in the bright sunlight. He had just finished his very last college lecture. He still had finals, but classes were over and he felt a small sense of accomplishment and a larger sense of what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life. Putting on his sunglasses he did a double take when he looked at the sidewalk in front of the Hop, the music building that housed a majority of his classes.
Jasper grinned and began walking toward him. Edward's answering grin was all the reassurance Jasper needed to know he wasn't overstepping any bounds by showing up unannounced.
"Hey darlin'. I know we talked this morning about you coming to see me this weekend, but I thought I could take you out for a celebratory lunch."
Edward nodded and murmured, "I'd like that," as he let Jasper tug him to his chest by his belt loops. They shared a chaste kiss and Edward marveled, not for the first time, that he was so comfortable with affection with Jasper.
They decided on a small café near campus and as they settled in Jasper made a show of putting his elbows on the table and propping his chin on his clasped hands. He fixed Edward with his patented smirk and Edward raised an eyebrow while fighting a smile, "Yes?"
"You gonna tell me what's wrong?" Jasper quirked an eyebrow at him.
Edward eyed him more shrewdly. "What do you mean?"
"I may not have known you for a long time, but you can't tell me something's not bothering you. I know you better than that," he explained.
Edward feared that he was gaping at Jasper like an idiot, but his mind seemed to be stuck on three little words, I know you. His whole life Edward had never felt truly known, not even by his parents. Well, especially not by his dad, but even his mom seemed more interested in her short-lived, post-marriage love affairs than in the affairs of her only son. But here was Jasper, looking in his eyes as if he were reading a book and Edward couldn't think of a single piece of evidence contrary to his claim. Jasper did know Edward, even without knowing all the intricacies of his background and his flaws that came with knowing a person for a long time.
Letting out a small sigh, Edward replied, "I just don't know what I'm going to do after graduation, that's all."
"You mean for a job?"
He nodded, rubbing a hand tiredly over his face. "A job, a house, my life."
They'd spoken very little about what would happen when Edward graduated, mainly because Edward avoided talking about it or changed the topic when it did come up. Jasper's relaxed posture stiffened for a moment and Edward looked up to see Jasper biting his lip, a very uncharacteristic nervous habit for his typically confident and gregarious boyfriend.
Jasper began tracing patterns in the tabletop, not looking up as he spoke, "I didn't want to say anything, I mean, I don't want you to think I expect anything or I don't think you can't figure this out on your own, but I was thinking…" he trailed off.
Edward remained quiet, knowing Jasper would get it out eventually.
"I just, you, I mean, you already have a drawer at my place and you seem to like Meredith when you're there and I have a friend that's on the Board of Directors at this music school..." Jasper was still looking at the table and Edward tugged on one of his hands, interrupting the patterns he was tracing, in order to get Jasper to look at him. When their eyes met Edward could plainly see Jasper's nerves, and was that a fear of rejection he sensed?
"J, are you asking me to move to Meredith after graduation? To move in with you?"
Jasper blushed and Edward didn't think he'd ever seen it before. "Yes. No. I mean, yes, I am, but it's just a thought. I understand if you have bigger plans or even if you want to move to Meredith, but not in with me. Whatever you want."
Edward had to bite his lip to keep from grinning. Jasper was never nervous or rambling or unsure and it was endearing to see him this way.
"What do you want?" Edward asked him seriously.
Jasper took a deep breath and seemed to relax a little as he spoke, "I want to be with you. I want to live with you and see you every day. I want to see where this goes." He emphasized his point by squeezing Edward's hand in his before lifting it to his mouth to brush a kiss on his knuckles, lightening the moment by winking flirtatiously.
Something akin to fear and excitement rushed through Edward. His immediate reaction was to say yes, he wanted those things too. But his rational side argued that living together would just mean more heartbreak later. It meant a level of commitment that he'd never really tried before and, consequently, a new level of devastation when it inevitably ended. He didn't want the arguments and the bitterness after years of loving each other, because he already knew he loved Jasper, deeply.
Before he realized he was doing it, Edward nodded. Jasper's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Yes?" He clarified hopefully.
Edward nodded again. "Yes."
Jasper let out his breath and a nervous laugh before pulling Edward's face to his for a kiss. "I thought for sure I was moving too fast and you were going to run out that door screamin'."
Edward smiled and kissed him again, unable to say that the thought hadn't crossed his mind, well, minus the screaming.
The last box was unpacked and the pizza box sitting on the coffee table was empty. Edward sat on his, their, couch and Jasper lay with his head in Edward's lap. The Discovery Channel was on in the background; a channel Edward learned early on was a favorite of Jasper's. Edward didn't pay it much attention as he ran his fingers through Jasper's sandy-colored hair, twirling the chaotic curls around his fingers. The fingers of his other hand were woven through Jasper's, who would unknowingly squeeze them when he found something about the special on penguins particularly entertaining.
The house was a quaint, colonial style that sat right on the edge of Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee. The first time Edward saw it, the same day as his fateful drive to Meredith, he was charmed by it. Jasper had asked him out for coffee, which turned in to dinner, and they spent the evening talking and walking by the waterfront. Edward learned that Jasper's dad died when he was sixteen. That he and his mom were very close even though she still lived in the South. And he learned that Jasper moved to the East Coast when he could no longer tolerate the small-mindedness of the people around him; he was driving around Meredith when he found this house with a for sale sign out front and it was love at first sight.
Edward still grinned when he thought about how Jasper had casually wound an arm around his waist for the first time as he talked about falling in love with this place.
Sitting on the couch now Edward could hardly believe this was his life, his love story. It felt like both forever and not a day had passed since the moment he first looked at Jasper and lost himself in his sapphire blue eyes.
Jasper laughed at something on TV and turned his head to look up at Edward, a content smile on his lips. "I love you, baby," he said casually, but earnestly.
Edward grinned, happy in this moment to imagine that it could be like this always. "I love you, too, J."
As Jasper turned back to the TV Edward found himself fervently wishing, for the first time in his life, that this love would last. He ignored, if only briefly, that he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"I'll tell him, mama. I love you, too." Jasper hung up the phone and moved to where Edward stood in the kitchen, stirring the sauce that Jasper had abandoned for his phone call. He kissed Edward on the cheek. "Sorry, darlin', you know how chatty my mom can be."
Edward chuckled and nodded, turning his head toward Jasper to get a proper kiss before returning his attention to checking the dinner Jasper started. They had always moved seamlessly around each other in the kitchen, finishing dishes the other had started and always working together to make meals when their schedules allowed. Tonight Edward had been teaching a later class at the New Hampshire Independent School of Music, so Jasper began on his own.
Assured that nothing was going to burn, Edward fully turned to Jasper, wrapping his arms around Jasper's waist. "What did your mom want you to tell me?"
Jasper loosened Edward's tie for him, knowing he hated staying dressed up for too long and he'd forgone getting relaxed in favor of helping with dinner when he walked in the door to find Jasper on the phone. "She just wanted me to tell you hi and that she loves you."
Edward smirked, he found it absurd that Jasper's mom loved him, but he never voiced the thought out loud. "I doubt that's all she said."
Jasper grinned, "Well, she might have mentioned something about how you better take good care of her baby, but I didn't bother to pass it along because you always do."
Edward snorted, "You're such a suck up."
"You love that I'm a suck up."
"I love that you suck something."
Jasper gave an exaggerated nod, "Yes you do."
As they grabbed plates and pulled things off the stove Jasper asked, "How's your mom?"
Edward paused in his walk to the table before assuming an air of nonchalance as he answered, "She's fine."
Edward got the sense that Jasper wasn't going to leave the topic alone and as they began eating Jasper continued his questions, "Are you planning a trip to see your mom anytime soon? I'd love to meet her."
Edward rolled his eyes. "I've been back to Chicago exactly once since I left for college. So no, I'm not planning a trip anytime soon. I'm sure you'll meet her someday."
What Edward didn't realize was that Jasper had been planning this conversation for a while. In fact, he was talking to his own mother about the fact that Edward was reluctant to open up about his parents when Edward came home. Jasper knew he was pushing Edward, but he was sick of dancing around the topic of his parents.
"Does your mom even know that we live together?" Jasper asked.
"Well I told her, but it probably doesn't mean much to her."
"Why not? Doesn't she care that her only son is living with his boyfriend?"
Edward sighed, obviously not wanting to talk about his lack of relationship with his mother. "No, Jasper, I really don't think she does. She's lived with her last, I don't know, six boyfriends? She's had a steady stream of them since my dad walked out on us so she probably assumes I treat relationships the same way she does."
"And how does she treat relationships, Edward?" Jasper was trying to keep his own frustration at bay, though he failed at completely keeping it out of his voice. It was obvious this was the crux of Edward's inability to give in to their relationship fully and Jasper knew there were times when Edward still held back.
"Like they're interchangeable!" Edward exclaimed. "She falls in and out of love frequently because working to stay in love is too painful. What's the point if you're just going to end up tearing each other apart?"
Edward was afraid to look up after hearing the shaky tone of his voice. He was didn't want to see dismissal in Jasper's eyes, or worse, agreement. He felt Jasper's hand on his knee, gently nudging him sideways in his chair so they would be face to face.
"Look at me," Jasper implored. Edward complied and found nothing but reassurance in Jasper's eyes. "Just because your parents didn't stay in love doesn't mean that we won't, Edward."
Edward just shook his head. "You don't know that, Jasper. In the end they fought about everything, said the worst things to each other and about each other. They fought so desperately to stay together and ended up being so cruel to one another. Love doesn't last, J, it just doesn't. I can't stand to ever be that cruel to you," he admitted defeatedly.
"Honey, anyone that's fighting with cruelty isn't fighting to stay together, they're just fighting. And no, we won't be madly in love every day for the rest of our lives." Edward tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his gut, he already knew this, it shouldn't be disappointing, but Jasper continued, "There will be days you'll want to throw me out on my ass for forgetting our anniversary or refusing to take anything seriously and there will be days that I'll yell at your for being impossibly moody and introverted. There will be times when we're more friends than lovers and we're afraid we've lost that spark. But none of that, none of it, means that I won't love you."
Jasper leaned back in his chair, pulling Edward with him so Edward sat in his lap. He gently tilted Edward's chin so he was looking him in the eyes. Jasper's expression was one of absolute earnestness as he explained, "Edward, I love you and that means that your happiness is my first priority. It means that I love you more than I love myself and that kind of love doesn't take work, it just is. Staying in love with you will take work, maintenance, like all relationships, but loving you, darlin', that's effortless."
The sinking feeling in Edward had dissipated, but he was still unsure he was capable of such love. "How do you know you love me like that, J? How do you know it's not some lengthy infatuation that will fade?"
"If this were infatuation it would have faded long before this conversation," Jasper smirked, tightening his grip on Edward's waist. "I've known you were a flight risk from day one and I wouldn't have risked my heart like that if I didn't know."
Edward nodded but continued to doubt himself. Jasper, being Jasper, knew this and forced Edward to look at him again. "Edward, I don't want to insult your mother or anything, but from what I gather neither she or your dad love anyone more than they love themselves."
Edward rolled his eyes, "Exactly! I'm their son, how can I help but be like them?"
"You are not your parents." Jasper said sternly, before softly adding, "I will tell you as many times as you need to hear it, babe; you are not your parents."
Edward shook his head, saying, "You don't know that."
Jasper grinned, making Edward eye him curiously. "I do know that. You said it yourself, you could never stand to be that cruel to me."
Edward dug through the contents of their closet for the third time. "Damn it." He walked out of their bedroom, pulling at the ends of his hair when he saw the time from the clock on their nightstand. "Jasper! Where the hell is my shirt?"
Jasper's amused voice drifted up from the couch, "Uh, you're gonna have to be more specific, babe."
Edward rolled his eyes and walked in the direction of the laundry room while he explained, "My white shirt, J. The one you borrowed last week that you promised you'd wash."
"I dunno, check the wash," Jasper dismissed.
Edward groaned. "Could you at least get your ass off the couch and help me look? I'm supposed to be out the door in five minutes!"
"Damn, Edward, calm down. You have other white shirts." Jasper sat up from his position on the couch in time to receive a glare from his obviously pissed off boyfriend. "Alright, alright, I'll help you look."
He stood and followed Edward to the laundry room, having the grace to look sheepish when they found Edward's white shirt laying in a heap on the floor. Edward huffed and stomped back to their bedroom, Jasper on his heels. "Sorry. If you want I got my nice shirt back from the dry cleaner's. You can wear it." He pulled the shirt from his half of the closet, holding it out to Edward.
Edward took the offered shirt wordlessly, still not bothering to hide his annoyance. Jasper watched as he dressed himself. He silently moved forward to tie Edward's tie when Edward proved too keyed up to do it himself. "I really am sorry, darlin'. I know how important these recitals are to you and your students."
"I know," Edward sighed. "It's okay. I just get so anxious for the kids. I want them to do well. I don't mean to take it out on you."
"You're not and I'm sure your students will be brilliant. How could they not be with you to teach them jazz piano?" Jasper's smile was contagious and Edward leaned in to kiss him chastely, murmuring, "suck up" on his lips. Jasper grinned; fighting the temptation to take the kiss any further knowing it would only prove to make him more late. "You know I wish I could be there, but I have to be at work early tomorrow."
Edward nodded, "I know. Don't worry about waiting up for me. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow." He stole another quick kiss before turning to leave.
Jasper gave him a playful smack on his ass. "You better. Try and enjoy yourself, darlin'. Love you."
"Love you, too." Edward caught one more glance as he headed out the door and that one glance was all it took for him to know he was wholly loved.
A warm breeze blew over Edward as he sat on the ground at the lake's edge. The sun was setting, casting a golden hue on everything around him, and sending flashes of light reflecting off the water's surface.
He heard the screen door to the back of the house open and close, but kept his focus on the lake in front of him. He barely heard Jasper's bare feet padding along the grass behind him when a beer was thrust in front of his line of sight. He took a long drag from the bottle as Jasper settled onto the ground behind him, placing one leg on each side of Edward.
Edward sighed contently, leaning back onto Jasper's chest and draping his arms around Jasper's bent knees. "Thanks for the beer."
Jasper dropped a kiss to the top of his head. "Anytime, babe."
"How was your day?" Edward turned his head up, trying to see Jasper's face behind him.
He watched the relaxed smile form on Jasper's lips. "Much better when I got home to find my fuckhot boyfriend enjoying the view from our backyard."
"You're always such a suck up," Edward laughed lazily, pressing a kiss to the underside of his jaw.
"And you always love it."
Edward hummed in response, unable to argue otherwise. He turned his head back toward the lake, staring out over the water and letting his thoughts wander as he and Jasper enjoyed the tranquility their lakefront home afforded them. Edward had come to love this lake. He loved watching Jasper swing his legs as he sat at the end of their small dock and he loved the sound of the rain hitting the lake's surface in a storm. He loved rowing out in their small rowboat together and he loved sitting just as they were on the grassy part of the bank where they could watch people sailing or fishing.
Long moments of peaceable silence passed between them before Jasper spoke quietly, "Darlin', can I ask you somethin'?"
Edward closed his eyes in contentment, "'Course. Anything."
"Will you marry me?"
Edward's eyes flew open and his head shot up, nearly knocking Jasper in the chin. He shifted around so he was facing him, still sitting between Jasper's knees. "Are you serious?"
Jasper smirked. "Yes."
Jasper chuckled. "Yes, seriously."
Edward continued to stare at him in disbelief. "You want to marry me?"
Jasper rolled his eyes in amused exasperation. "Yes, Edward I want to marry you. See?" Jasper held a silver band between his thumb and forefinger and Edward gaped at it in surprise. "Edward Anthony Masen, will you marry me?"
Edward nodded fervently, "Yes. God yes."
Jasper barely had a second to prepare as Edward launched himself forward, knocking them both flat on the ground. He fleetingly thought how grateful he was to live in New Hampshire where they could legally get married, because this had to be the best moment of his life.
Edward's shoulders tensed as he heard the front door open. These last few weeks had been hell. He had assumed there would be some sort of honeymoon period after getting engaged, but for reasons he couldn't understand they seemed to be fighting more than ever. Edward knew that Jasper was busy at his new job and neither of them were really into wedding planning, but he had no idea they were capable of this much animosity toward something that was supposed to make them happy. Somehow it was causing them to argue about the most inconsequential things.
Jasper closed the door quietly, obviously assuming Edward was asleep. Right, like he could just go to sleep and ignore everything that was happening. "You don't have to be quiet, Jasper. I'm right here."
Jasper froze for a second before moving fully into their living room. "Oh. I didn't think you'd wait up for me."
Edward sat up fully in the armchair. He'd been lounging across it with a book in a sorry attempt to pretend he wasn't angry or frustrated or scared. "I didn't know where the hell you were. Of course I waited up."
Rolling his eyes Jasper threw his coat over the arm of the couch. "Right, sorry. I guess I thought maybe you'd still be at your dinner thing."
"My dinner thing? You mean the fundraising dinner with the board of directors that you said you'd come to?"
Jasper ran a hand over his face, "I said I'd try to come, Edward."
"Yeah, and did you? It's one in the morning, where were you anyway?" Edward stood from the chair, tossing the book behind him on the seat.
"Some of the guys wanted to go out after work. You know I'm new at the company and I've bowed out too many times before; I felt like I should go." He shrugged, obviously trying to play it off as no big deal.
Edward scoffed, "That's bullshit. You just didn't want to come with me."
"When did I ever say I didn't want to go to your goddam fundraiser?"
"You didn't have to! Fuck, Jasper, how do you think I felt making up excuses all night for why my fiancé wasn't there when I'd said all week you would be!"
Jasper crossed his arms, scowling. "Oh good, I'm glad you really wanted me to be there with you, not that you just wanted me there for appearances."
Edward paced. "What appearances? Last time I checked engaged couples were supposed to go together to shit like this! Aren't you supposed to support my career?"
Jasper glared. "When have I ever not supported your career? I've sat through countless fucking recitals and attended ridiculous snooty concerts pretending to give a shit about whatever music movement y'all are studying!"
Edward stopped his pacing and rounded on Jasper. "Pretending? So you just pretend to give a shit about what I do?"
"Damn it, Edward, that's not what I said!"
They were standing a mere foot from each other at this point and it was a testament to how angry they were that neither had made a move to touch the other. Physical contact had always been a constant in their relationship and their current distance made Edward worry the chasm was deeper than he feared.
"Then what are you saying, Jasper?"
"I'm saying I don't enjoy standing around while your coworkers look down at me or pretend I don't exist just because I don't spend my days spouting off facts about dead fucking composers!"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Don't be so naïve, Edward. You can't tell me you haven't seen the looks you get when I'm with you! Everyone you know worships the fucking ground you and your Ivy League education walk on!"
Edward scoffed. "Everyone I know? I doubt that considering most of my friends went there too." He knew his sarcasm only served to piss off Jasper more when they were arguing.
"Exactly!" Jasper glared, getting in Edward's face.
"Oh my god, nobody cares that you didn't go to fucking Dartmouth, Jasper!"
"Wrong! Why are all of your friends constantly trying to get you to move the city? Constantly telling you that you should be doing more than this. I'm obviously holding you back, Edward! Ask any of your friends!" Edward knew this was Jasper's one insecurity when it came to their relationship, but he could only reassure Jasper in so many ways that he had no interest in life in the big city.
"God, Jasper, Seth told me about a position in the city one fucking time! And don't even talk about whose friends are more supportive. Your friends fucking laugh every time Peter throws himself at you when I'm standing right there." If Jasper's insecurity was that Edward wanted bigger things for his life, Edward's was that Jasper would find someone else. "It's not a secret he's in love with you and no one exactly discourages his pursuit!" Edward stumbled back a step as he came to a frightening realization. "Oh, god, were you out with Peter tonight?"
"No! I mean, yes, he was there, but I wasn't with Peter! How could you even say that to me!"
"How could I say that! You know how I feel about Peter. You know how Peter feels about you! What am I supposed to think when you blow me off to be where he is!"
"Goddam Edward, we've been through this! I don't want Peter!"
"Your actions tonight really prove that!" They were in each other's faces again.
"You're being ridiculous!"
"I'm being ridiculous? Fuck you." Edward pushed passed Jasper toward the front door, shrugging off Jasper's attempt to reach for him.
He slammed the door behind him, belatedly realizing that he was only wearing pajama pants. His bare feet felt cold on the grass as he stormed his way toward the lake, the reality of their argument settling in around him. He pushed the heels of his palms to his eyes in a vain attempt to stem the tears that were forming. This was it. This was the end. He fucking knew it would end like this.
Edward choked on a sob when he realized that he really had believed they would make it. He had finally believed and where did it get him? Here he was, half naked and struggling to keep his knees from buckling under him after walking away from the love of his life. In that moment he absolutely hated that he'd been right all along; the heartbreak was devastating.
Just as he was overcome with tears, he felt Jasper's warm hand on his shoulder. He tensed at the contact, not wanting to see the goodbye in Jasper's eyes, but was too weak to pull himself away, letting Jasper turn him so they were face to face. His eyes remained fixed on the ground, so he was surprised to feel Jasper wrap a hoodie around his shoulders and looked up sharply, only to find concern in Jasper's eyes.
"You're going to freeze out here, darlin'."
Edward pushed his arms into the sleeves and wiped the tears running down his cheeks as Jasper zipped it up for him. When the zip was pulled all the way up Jasper moved a hand to cup Edward's cheek, "I'm sorry, hon, I should have been there tonight."
Edward's head bobbed in some form of acknowledgment. He wanted to tell Jasper that he was sorry, too, that he knew Jasper didn't want Peter, but he was still trying to comprehend that Jasper hadn't come outside to say goodbye.
"Please, don't leave, Edward. Don't leave me. I don't know what I'd do without you."
It was the tears escaping Jasper's eyes that finally got through to Edward. He threw himself at Jasper, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and burying his face in Jasper's neck. "God, no, J. I'm not leaving you, baby. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I don't care if you never come to another recital or fundraiser ever again and I know you only want me, I know that. I know you'd never do that to me."
Jasper pulled back, forcing Edward to look at him by holding his face in both hands, thumbing away tears as they fell. "I will always only want you. Even when we're screaming at each other, I'm never going to want anyone else. I love you so fucking much."
"I love you, too."
They moved together simultaneously, mouths meeting in a bruising, reassuring kiss. Both of them held one another fiercely, pulling at clothing in an effort to get even closer.
Jasper pulled back again, breathless. "And you know I support your career, right?"
Edward nodded, "I know. And I know that some of the people I work with are pretentious bastards."
Jasper chuckled, "They really are."
They kissed again, reveling in the feel of each other, until Edward began shivering. Jasper reached for Edward's hand and pulled him back toward the house as he wound their fingers together. "Come on, darlin', I don't want you to get sick. You're not even wearing shoes."
Edward smiled, letting himself be tugged along behind Jasper, thinking that being wrong never felt so good. "J?"
"Can we just let your mom plan the wedding?"
"Oh my god, you read my mind."
Jasper brushed the remnants of rice out of Edward's hair, both of them unable to do anything but grin widely at one another. When most of the rice seemed to be out, Jasper laced Edward's hand in his and pulled him down the dock to the gazebo where they could be relatively alone while everything was prepared for their reception. It was the first time they were alone since their rehearsal dinner the night before and Edward was more than happy to let Jasper pull him into his embrace reveling in the moment.
"Husband." The word was barely more than a whisper as Jasper pressed a kiss to Edward's lips.
They faintly registered the clicking sound of a camera shutter invading their privacy, but they'd been subjected to hundreds of pictures already today, so they ignored it, knowing the purpose was to catch these moments anyway.
"Your mom really outdid herself today, J. Everything looks beautiful."
Jasper nodded his assent as he sat down, pulling Edward onto his lap. The whole ceremony and reception took place on the lawn at Mill Falls. Jasper's mother had planned everything down to the twinkling lights and hanging paper lanterns that would light the reception tent as the sun set. It was beyond beautiful.
"We really did it, we're really married, huh?"
Jasper laughed, "Yes, darlin', you're really stuck with me for the rest of your life."
Edward rolled his eyes, "Oh the horror."
They sat in peaceful silence for a while, the faint strains of string instruments floating down to them before dwindling over the ripples of the water. Edward laid his head on Jasper's shoulder, one hand idly fingering the hair that brushed Jasper's ear and the top of his collar. Jasper traced indecipherable patterns with his fingertips on the top of Edward's knee.
"Sometimes I was afraid I'd never get you here," Jasper murmured.
"Me too," Edward sighed. They were quiet again, the noise of their guests getting louder as everyone's excitement level increased with the prospect of a proper celebration.
"Edward?" Jasper's voice was still quiet.
"You know I'm going to love you until we're old and wrinkly and gray, right?"
"I'm never going to be gray, J."
Jasper chuckled. "Smart ass."
After another beat of silence Edward spoke softly, "I'm really glad you got me here, Jasper."
Jasper smiled. "Forever, darlin'."
Edward nodded against his neck and Jasper knew that Edward finally believed in forever.
Edward brought the last of the dinner dishes to the kitchen, setting them in the sink to wash later. The back screen door slammed shut and he cringed at the sound.
"Jack Masen Whitlock! What have I told you about slamming the door?" He reprimanded.
The sound of little feet came skidding to a stop a few feet from where he stood at the sink. "Sorry, Daddy. I came in to get my sailboat!"
Edward chuckled and ruffled his son's hair. "Alright, buddy. Grab a sweatshirt, too, please. It's getting cool out."
"Okay!" Jack shouted as he ran out of the kitchen.
At age three he was a bundle of energy and curiosity, and he had inherited Jasper's gregariousness in spades. He was already such a little charmer and Edward had the hardest time staying mad at him for anything, even putting a huge scratch in the baby grand piano.
A few moments later he heard the same little feet go running back outside, the door slamming again in Jack's wake.
"Sorry, Daddy!" He shouted as he ran toward the lake.
Edward could hear Jasper's voice drift in through the open windows. "Jack, you really need to listen to Dad when he tells you not to slam the door."
"I know, but, Daddy, I'm going sailing!"
Jasper laughed. "I know you're excited, kiddo. Be careful on the dock please, don't lean over too far."
Edward was amazed every day at how well he and Jasper had taken to parenting. He had his fears to begin with and at first insisted that Jasper be the only one to genetically father their kids, but Jasper, in his unfailingly patient Jasper way, had convinced him otherwise. And Haley, at age seven, was the spitting image of Edward, right down to her long pianist's fingers and her reserved nature.
Wiping his hands on his jeans, Edward moved outside to join his family. He couldn't hold in his laugh when he saw Jasper. He was wearing a crown made out of daisy chains.
"Laugh it up, darlin', she has one for you too." Jasper glared as he gestured to what appeared to be a pile of daisy chains sitting on their picnic table.
"Haley, stop! That's mine!" Jack whined from the dock.
Edward and Jasper looked over to see Haley had commandeered the remote control for Jack's miniature sailboat.
Jasper looked exasperated. "Haley, didn't you just say that you didn't want to sail?" He asked patiently, though his voice was raised so the kids would hear him. "If you want to sail a boat go get yours from your room."
Haley turned to give them both her most innocent look. "But Dad, I was just showing Jack the right way to do it."
Jasper gave her a look and Edward smirked; she was totally his daughter. Edward tried to look reproachful, "Hale, there's more than one way to sail a boat. Give it back to your brother, please, he was doing just fine."
"Okay, Daddy," she sighed and handed the remote control over to Jack. "Here, Jack."
She stood next to Jack then, helping him when he got the boat stuck on one of the posts and cheering for him when they pretended he was racing. She really was a great big sister and Edward couldn't help but marvel that this was his family.
He and Jasper stood in companionable silence as they watched their kids playing and laughing over the lake, their silhouettes outlined by the sunset.
"I love you, darlin'." Jasper reached over linking his pinky with Edward's.
"I love you, too, J. Always."
The clanging of silverware and dishes being washed pulled Edward's attention to his surroundings. His lunchtime breakfast was largely uneaten and his diet coke sat in a puddle of condensation. The few patrons that had been in the diner when he entered were gone now and he sat at the only occupied table.
He glanced toward the kitchen and saw his server, Jasper, smirking at him knowingly. Edward blushed to the tips of his ears and tried to play it off by taking a bite of his pancakes.
He watched as Jasper sauntered over to his table and pulled up a chair, flipping it around to straddle the back of it. "Hi."
Edward bit his lip, losing himself for a moment in the wake of Jasper's smile. In that moment he felt like he could see it all, his whole future, and he thought that, maybe, wandering into George's diner in Meredith, New Hampshire was the smartest thing he ever did.
He grinned and cleared his throat before he spoke, "Hi."
"What's your name, darlin'?"
Jasper grinned, "Well, Edward, I just clocked out. Can I take you out for coffee?"
AN: George's Diner is a real restaurant in Meredith, NH, but I've never been there so beyond the name I'm taking creative license.