I wrote this story for the Dirty Talking Jasper contest, from a prompt from my darling livinginadw – she has strange dreams, really. Check out all the other fabulous entries at http:/www . fanfiction . net/u/2651284/ . Many thanks to everyone who was kind enough to review.

The Edward in this story was inspired in part by an amazing website called Voices, set up by an equally amazing man, Jackson McCoy. Tragically, Jack died suddenly a few weeks ago, and we all miss him terribly. So this story is dedicated to Jack and his Voices; he knew that love is love, in all its forms, and he gave it generously and unconditionally. Please visit and support the site: https: /sites . google . com/site/notalonevoices/

As always, SM owns these boys. They own me.


Day 1: Monday

I stared at the stack of boxes piled haphazardly in the middle of what passed for a living room. It was my third move in under a year, and the chances were I'd be doing it all again in another three months.

New rule. Any box that hasn't been opened before I move again is not coming with me next time. I'll just leave the fucker behind.

I had less and less stuff each time I moved, but it was still too much. It depressed me, and I could tell that Emmett was going to stop offering to help me if I didn't shed more of it. What did I really need? A few clothes, a plate and mug, a kettle and a teaspoon. The really important stuff was in my messenger bag. Laptop, charger, smartphone, spare battery. God help me when I needed to replace any of that.

I looked around my new temporary abode. The word "home" was not going to apply here. It was much like the other places. A furnished flat, kitted out with the leftovers of other people's lives. A shabby sofa with sagging cushions, facing an empty wall where I would not be putting a television. A kitchenette with clean surfaces but dirt ingrained into the corners, where no amount of bleach could reach. Electric cooker, check. Peeling linoleum, check. Dripping tap, check.

The bedroom at least had a double this time. Mattress with questionable stains, yep, got that too. Dodgy looking bedside lamp with faded brown shade, check. Decrepit wardrobe with a door that won't quite close, check.

The bathroom was always the worst, and this one was no exception. I yanked down the mouldy shower curtain that hung over the bath, nearly pulling the rail out of the ceiling in the process. I considered the grime encrusted around the plughole and taps. The first couple of times, I had spent days scrubbing and cleaning before I even unpacked, but I just couldn't be bothered any more.

I looked around for a power socket and found that the only one in the bedroom was on the opposite wall from the bed. I shoved the bed into a new position nearer the socket, plugged my laptop in and went to find the box marked "bedding". I would unpack the rest tomorrow. Maybe.

Day 3: Wednesday

The curtains were too fucking thin. On the upside, I would be living somewhere else when summer came around, so at least I wasn't woken until after eight o'clock when the watery winter light started streaming through the translucent fabric. It was still too early for me though. The last place had been the same. I had nailed up one of my blankets over the window there. I wondered which box I had put it in. And hell only knows where the hammer was. I really was going to have to unpack.

By the time I had located the blanket, its edges now torn and fraying from the previous nail job, I had unpacked all of my meagre collection of clothes and shoes, and the even more pathetic shoe box that held my few tools, essentials for the running repairs I had to make in the wretched places I lived in. I could have afforded somewhere nicer if I hadn't minded sharing, but that was one thing I wasn't willing to compromise on.

I grabbed a rickety chair from the living room and balanced precariously, holding a dozen mismatched nails in my mouth while I hammered the blanket into place. The room was properly shaded now, the under-powered light bulb hanging uncovered from the ceiling cable barely lighting the corners. The room didn't look so bad, now that I couldn't see most of it.

I considered the pile of clothes on the floor. There were no drawers, so I opened the dodgy wardrobe, but there were no shelves either. The single rail was next to useless as I didn't own any hangers. I sighed and resorted to my usual technique; I sorted the clothes into three of the empty packing boxes – underwear, shirts, trousers – and went to put them in the bottom of the wardrobe. The first two slid in easily but the third jammed halfway. I took it out again and peered inside, trying to see what was blocking it. In my newly created gloom, I couldn't make anything out.

I reached my hand in blindly and pulled out a small case. It was like a tool box, about twice the size of my shoebox, but made of grey plastic with a small combination padlock holding it shut. I carried it over to my bed and tried to twist off the flimsy-looking lock, but it held firm. I tried prising it off with the a screwdriver, but that didn't work either. I turned the box over a couple of times, looking for a label or mark, hearing objects shift about inside, but there was no clue as to the contents.

Whatever. I shoved it under the bed and put the final packing box in place at the bottom of the wardrobe. And then I went back to bed.

Day 6: Saturday

Emmett came over with beer. I knew he wouldn't be staying very long, on account of the lack of television. He did this every couple of weeks; I couldn't tell if he was checking up on me out of guilt, or if he was genuinely concerned for my well being. He arrived early in the evening so he could still go out with his real friends afterwards. I sat on the uncomfortable sofa, drinking straight from the can, while he paced around, looking for something to occupy him in place of the missing visuals.

He scooped up the stack of mail that was piling up haphazardly on the worn carpet and started sorting through it, flipping the junk mail and leaflets back on to the floor.

"Most of this is addressed to some guy called J Hale," he commented, discarding three identical pizza delivery menus.

"Previous tenant, probably," I mumbled, uninterested.

"This one's for The Occupier," he went on. "You should open it."

I shrugged.

"Probably meant for Hale too."

Emmett stopped pacing and waited for me to look up at him. I gave him my best totally uninterested face but he couldn't stop himself.

"Edward, this is exactly what got you thrown out of the last place. What if it's for you? What if it's a bill or something important?"

"Emmett, I didn't pay the bills because I had no money, not because I wasn't aware that I owed them."

"I could have lent you the money," he huffed.

"Do we have to have this conversation again? You know I won't borrow money that I can't repay, so let's drop it, OK?"

Emmett stared at me and chugged his beer. He deliberately set down the empty can on the floor and tore open the envelope. He read the contents and waved it at me. It appeared to be a handwritten note.

"It's from the Hale guy," he said. "It says he left something here, wants to come pick it up."

I jumped up off the sofa and grabbed the paper out of his hand.

Hi to whoever is unfortunate enough to be living in my old shithole of a flat. I think I have left something behind. It's a small box with a padlock on it. The contents aren't that important but as I'm going to be back in London in a week or so I thought I'd pick it up if you still have it. Could you give me a call on the number below and let me know if that would be OK? Cheers.

Jasper Hale

I immediately went into the bedroom and retrieved the box from under the bed. I tossed it to Emmett, who went to work on the lock without needing to be asked. But the damn thing was so small and so tightly fixed to the box, he couldn't get a grip on it with his huge fingers. He wrestled with it for a few minutes, then shrugged and threw it back to me.

"You gonna give it back?" he asked.

"Not until I know what's in it," I replied, suddenly curious. "I think I've got a penknife somewhere. It's got to be possible to open it."

I started to open more packing boxes but Emmett was bored and we had drunk all his beer, so he left – he had already stayed longer than usual. I had absolutely nothing else to do, so I opened every damn box in the place, before I finally found my stupid boy scout penknife. The padlock was ridiculously tough for its size, and it took a few more minutes of brutal jamming and twisting before it finally gave in and I could open the mysterious box.

At first I didn't know what I was looking at. There were several smaller cardboard packages inside, with clear plastic windows, and one clear plastic bottle with a pump lid. I tipped them out on to the sofa where I was sitting, and when I finally realised what they were, I laughed.

Sex toys.

Oh, Mr. Jasper Hale. No wonder you wanted this back. How could you possibly forget it? I turned each carton over carefully, examining the descriptions on the labels and looking at the contents through the plastic.

How much can you tell about a person from their choice of sex toys? One plain straight vibrator, medium size: doesn't tell you much, neither does the bottle of water-based lubricant. One set of vibrating anal beads: a bit more adventurous, could be for him or her. One silicone cock ring: definitely more interesting. There was one larger box that had been at the bottom of the case which had fallen on it's front. The label at the back read "Big Boy" which told me nothing; when I turned it over I found myself looking at an oddly shaped black vibrator with four bulbous sections, and a curve that bent it almost in two. I read the description. Prostate massager. My cock twitched. This was definitely for him.

I checked the case again to see if I had missed anything. There was a small fabric sleeve at one side, which contained an envelope. I opened it carefully, oddly not wanting to damage it despite my destruction of the padlock earlier. Inside, there was a strip of black and white photographs, the kind you get from a photo booth. There were two men in each picture, laughing and pulling silly faces. Their heads were close together, touching at some point in each shot. It was clear that they were more than friends. Looking at them seemed somehow like more of an intrusion than everything else. I wondered which one of them was Jasper.

I felt a crazy lurch of jealousy. They had what I wanted. They had each other, they weren't hiding in some shitty flat, they were out somewhere, laughing together, taking stupid photos. Maybe they were holding hands, in public. Maybe they were even kissing, not caring who was watching. Maybe their families accepted them for who they were. I blinked back angry tears. It was pointless to speculate. Maybe they were as fucking miserable as I was.

I packed everything back into the box, except the photos, and contemplated the busted lock. I decided that I would very much like Mr. Hale to pay a visit to collect his box, but there wasn't any point in replacing the lock. I picked up my phone and looked at the number he had given. Thankfully it was a mobile. I didn't really want to talk to him. I thought for a minute and typed out a text.

Jasper. Got yr note. Have yr box at shithole flat. Am hm most days. Let me know when ur dropping by.

I thought about adding my name but decided against it, and pressed send.

I took the photos to bed and propped them up on the crappy lamp. I cued up a random movie on the laptop, put my earbuds in, and worked on distracting myself until I could sleep again.

Day 7: Sunday

I was woken by my phone ringing. This did not make me happy. Only three people on the planet knew my phone number, and one of them was the phone company. The second was Emmett, and the chances of him being conscious before me on a Sunday were minimal. The third, since yesterday, was one Mr. J. Hale.

I picked up the phone and looked at the number to confirm that it was Jasper's. It was just after ten in the morning. I let it go to voicemail, and waited for the service to call back. I considered putting it on silent and going back to sleep, but was now irritatingly awake, so it was probably pointless. When the call came through, I hit the speaker and put the phone down to listen to the message.

"Hi, this is a message for the person who texted me yesterday about picking up the box I left behind. I'll be in London next weekend so I could drop in on the Saturday if that works for you? Just let me know what time is best. Thanks. Oh and, what's your name? Just so I know when I meet you. Thanks again."

I touched the buttons to repeat the message and picked up the photos that were still by the bed. Jasper had a smooth, deep voice, and spoke with easy confidence. No hesitations or stumbling, despite leaving a message for a complete stranger. I looked at the pictures and tried to decide which of the two men he was.

The man on the left had short dark hair, cropped close but gelled into a low ridge along the centre of his skull. He was clean shaven and wore a striped scarf wound around his neck several times. He was pulling faces but had his eyes fixed on the camera in all the shots. The man on the right had longer, lighter hair, falling in unkempt strands over his ears. There was a hint of stubble along his jaw, hard to see in the small image, but more visible further down his bare throat. In all but one of the pictures he was looking at the other man, laughing or puckering up his lips, clear adoration in his eyes.

I replayed the message a third time and tried to match up the confident voice with the pictures, and decided it was probably Cropped Hair Man. Shame. I'd like to meet the other one. What for, I had no idea, as they were obviously a couple. I had become so isolated that just having contact with another person seemed ridiculously exciting.

On impulse I hit the call back button. Looking back, I don't understand what possessed me. I had never been very comfortable talking on the phone and had become even less so over the last year. But this seemed safe. I didn't know him, he didn't know me, and after he collected the box I would never see him again.

It rang only twice before the same voice answered with an enthusiastic hello. I sat up before answering, suddenly feeling strange talking while lying in bed, still holding the photos with the other hand.

"Er, hi," I managed to get out. "I, er, got your message about collecting your box."

"Oh great, thanks so much for calling back. Sorry to be such a pain, I can't believe I left it behind."

I suppressed a snort.

"Ah, it's no problem," I replied. "I don't go out much, so just text me or something, when you're on your way over."

"OK, that'll work," he agreed. "So, how are you enjoying the luxury accommodation?"

I smiled easily. I wasn't sure why he was prolonging the conversation but smiling felt great. I didn't do it very often these days.

"It's fabulous," I answered. "I'm thinking of buying the place."

He laughed, and the sound lifted me up, sending unfamiliar vibrations through my chest. I'd been talking to him for two minutes and I didn't want to stop. I wanted to make him laugh again. No wonder the other guy had been so besotted. Alternatively, maybe I was just pathetic.

"Well, maybe we could have a house-warming party for you," he said. "Fancy caterers and champagne, don't you think?"

"Absolutely," I replied. "I'll get out my best crystal."

"Well, I'll see you in a couple of weeks... Sorry, I still don't know your name."

My smile faded as I realised he was ending the conversation.

"Edward," I said. "It's Edward."

"It's a pleasure to talk to you, Edward," he said. "Oh – one question, I suppose I should ask. Did you open the box?"

I hesitated.

"Of course not," I lied, unconvincingly.

There was silence on the other end of the phone for a beat or two.

"Maybe you should." And he hung up.

Day 10: Wednesday

Jasper was fucking with my routine. I had spoken to him for less than five minutes and now couldn't get him out of my head. I needed more friends.

I didn't have much, but I had my routine. After I had left home with only what I could fit in my rucksack and the contents of my childhood savings account, I had tried very hard to work. I wanted to work, but there were simply no jobs that matched my qualifications. So I did the right thing. I worked minimum wage, shelf-stacking, call-answering, brick-carrying, back-breaking, mind-numbing anything. But there wasn't enough money in it to live on, and I couldn't get any benefits while I did it. After I got evicted from the first flat, I swallowed my pride and registered for benefits, and tried cash-in-hand, ask-no-questions, make-no-promises moonlighting, but someone reported me and although I got away with a warning, I wouldn't risk doing it again. So, now I was stuck. I knew I would go completely insane if I didn't have some order in my life, so now I had my routine.

Midday (ish) – wake up.

Drink coffee. Get dressed. Run.

I had stayed in roughly the same area so I knew my way around, but it had taken me a few days to work out some new routes from the flat. I used my phone as a music player and ran for a couple of hours if I could. It passed the time. It was free.

Mid-afternoon – shower. Wank.

Eat. Drink more coffee. Check job websites.

This was pretty pointless by now, but every now and again something would come up, and I would be one of hundreds applying for a job that I was over-qualified and under-experienced for.

Evening – listen to music. Surf the web. Watch movies.

Sometimes I lifted weights. I used to take pride in how I looked, but I did it less and less now.

Late - walk to 24-hour shop for supplies. Buy cheap food.

If you go to the shop after ten o'clock at night they have stuff on special offer that won't keep until the next day. I saw the same people every night, counting out their coins just like me.

Early morning – sleep. Finally. As much as possible.

But now, Jasper kept intruding.

When I was running, I kept wondering why he had asked me to open the box. When I was watching movies, I couldn't put his picture down, turning the little strip of photos over and over in my fingers. When I was trying to sleep, I could hear his voice, his laughter. In my dreams, I saw his body, felt his touch. I woke angry and frustrated and hard. I spent a lot of time in the shower. I didn't open the box again.

I knew rationally was that a lot of this was simply a face to attach my fantasies to. I could count all the gay men I knew on one hand, and they all lived back near my family home. Several of them had advised me against coming out before I was in a reasonably steady relationship. They said I would need the support. But I was sick to death of the pretending and pressure and the bigotry that was rife in a small, provincial army town. The macho, bullshit posturing, the sleazy, desperate women, it all made me depressed and despairing of ever living the way I wanted to. I thought it couldn't possibly be any worse if I was out. At least my mother would stop trying to marry me off to reproduce, and my so-called friends would stop throwing skanky women at me.

I was wrong, of course. It was so much worse. My friends didn't even pretend to try, they just ditched me faster than I could have imagined. My parents went from shock, to anger, to ignoring me, to finally hurling abuse and hatred. I kind of expected it from my dad, but to hear it coming from my mum was too much to bear. So I left and came to London, hoping that the diversity and sheer number of people would make things different.

It wasn't too bad at first. I had a little money saved up and I went out, met some people, had a little fun. But then the money ran out, and the few acquaintances I had made faded away. Maybe I should have listened to the guys back home, but I couldn't regret it. As awful as it was, at least I was me. I got an earring and a tattoo. I held my head high. I might have nothing but my routine and my pride, but that was all mine.

And now, I had a five minute conversation with a man I was pretty sure was gay, but probably in a relationship, and my routine was in serious jeopardy. All my frustration, sexual and otherwise, was looping endlessly around the sound of a silky voice and a grainy black and white photo.

In the end, it got to me. Having spent all day with Jasper in my head, I got to the shop late as usual and spent some of my meagre allowance on a small bottle of cheap brandy. It tasted like paint stripper and would give me one hell of a headache come the morning, and buying it meant that I would have no fresh food the next day. I downed half of it sitting on my bed, waiting for the fire in my throat to transform into warmth in my belly. And then I dialled.

It wasn't until the fifth or sixth ring that it occurred to me to look at the time. Two a.m. Shit. My semi-nocturnal lifestyle sometimes made me forget that most other people kept normal hours. I was about to hit the End button when the ringing stopped and a voice came on the line. His voice.

"Edward?" he said, his voice heavy with sleep.

"Hi," I managed to croak out. "Shit, I'm sorry I woke you, I didn't realise it was so late..."

"It's OK," he replied. "Just give me a minute."

I heard some shuffling and the click of a door shutting. I squeezed my eyes shut. Fuck fuck fuck. He was probably leaving the bedroom so as not to wake his boyfriend. I was such an idiot. I was once more on the verge of hanging up when he started speaking again.

"So, Edward, did you open the box?" he asked, the lightness back in his voice now that he was fully awake.

"No! I mean, yes, just not right now, I mean..."

I stopped. He was trying, not very successfully, to contain his laughter, and I could hear other noises, glass clinking, as if he was pouring a drink. As before, his good humour was infectious. I should have been hideously embarrassed, but instead I felt free. He was a complete stranger on the end of the phone, and if I made an utter fool of myself it really didn't matter. Once he had collected that ridiculous box of his I would never see him again anyway.

I relaxed back on to my pillows and took another swig of the scorching brandy, straight from the bottle.

"OK, I admit it," I confessed. "I had already opened it the last time we spoke."

"I knew it!" he crowed triumphantly. "And yet here you are, calling me again. I'm going to take that as a positive sign."

"Sign of what?" I asked, enjoying the heady feeling of being able to say whatever came into my head. Of being me.

"Oh, a sign that you're not some crazy, homophobic lunatic with a baseball bat," he chuckled.

"I could have been, though," I teased him. "I mean, you took quite a chance, telling me to open the box."

"I did not tell you to open it," he retorted. "I just suggested you should. And I had a pretty strong feeling that you already had, anyway. Anyway, you have to take chances sometimes, don't you?"

"Yes, you do," I agreed. "But sometimes they don't work out so well. Sometimes you end up living in a shithole flat making conversation with a complete stranger on the phone because you have no-one else to talk to."

There was a pause, and I mentally slapped myself, not wanting him to think I was only talking to him because I was such a loser that I had no friends.

"So, who is the other guy in the photos?" I asked brightly. "Is that your boyfriend?"

I figured I might as well know straight away.

"Yes and no," he answered. "He was, at the time the photograph was taken, but he isn't now."

"Oh, I see," I said, not seeing, but feeling pathetically giddy anyway. "So why do you keep his picture in your..." I struggled for an appropriate word. "Toy-box?"

I was rewarded with a deep chuckle, which went straight to my groin.

"Good question," he said. "I think it's always helpful to have an image in your head, don't you? Someone to think about while you're taking care of business, so to speak. Don't you think about someone in particular?"

I was deeply grateful that he couldn't see the deep shade of red which I was sure my face was now turning, as I recalled the detailed and specific images I had had in my head in the shower for the past few days. I avoided the question.

"So you think about your ex?"

"Yes, it's probably not very healthy," he sighed. "But he was really quite spectacular in bed. I try to remember the good stuff."

I realised I was holding the photographs, turning them over in the fingers of one hand in a movement that had become quite automatic over the past three days. I flipped them the right way up and looked at the pictures again. I felt the same twinge of jealously that had sparked the first time I saw them. They might not be together any more, but they had had fun, and companionship, and spectacular sex, while it lasted. All things I desperately wanted. Another thought occurred to me.

"Which one is you?" I asked. I had decided in my head that he was the darker man, and it was that face that had filled my fantasies, with an awesome imaginary body to match.

"In those photos? I'm on the right."

I frowned, not sure I was understanding correctly.

"On the right as you faced the camera?" I asked.

"No, on the right as you look at it. Longer hair."

There was an awkward silence, and then a resigned huff from Jasper.

"You thought I was Peter," he stated, flatly. I couldn't reply.

"I'm not surprised," he went on. "He's quite something to look at."

"It's not that," I said hurriedly. "I just, well I didn't know, and.."

"It's OK, Edward, you couldn't have known," he said, kindly. "At least you know what I look like. I have no idea what you look like, or how old you are, or the first thing about you. Look, it's really late and I have work in the morning. Would you call me again tomorrow? Maybe a little earlier? If you still want to talk to me, that is."

I swallowed. I really, really wanted to keep talking to him right now, but I sensed I was pushing my luck.

"I'd like that," I said quietly.

"Great. Sleep well, Edward."

"Goodnight, Jasper."

I put down my phone and studied the photographs again before carefully folding them down the centre. He would probably want them back, but he would have to put up with the crease. I turned Peter's face to the back, so all I could see was Jasper's adoring smile, his shining eyes, his pouty lips. I smiled some more. He probably thought I was disappointed but he couldn't be more wrong.

I picked up my phone again and flicked through the photos on the camera files until I found the one I was looking for. It was a close-up of me that Emmett had taken when I first got the phone. I had kept it because I was, vainly, rather pleased with it. It was right after I had moved out and I was happy and optimistic. I wasn't a bad looking guy, and the photo showed off my strong features and unruly hair, catching me in half a sly smile.

I selected the option to share the photo via text message and hoped that Jasper's phone had at least some visual capacity. I added a caption before I sent it.

I look like this. I'm 22. I'm gay. I'm single. I like loud music and old movies and running.

My dreams were still full of Jasper that night, but he had a different face.

Day 11: Thursday

I slept even later than usual. I normally couldn't sleep more than six hours at a time, so I was surprised to see it was after two o'clock when I woke. I felt strangely calm and peaceful, despite the foul taste in my mouth from the brandy. I ignored the gnawing growl in my empty stomach and lay in bed with my eyes closed for a while before moving. I was looking forward to running, but needed to get a move on – it would be dark in a few hours.

I rolled out of bed and grabbed my phone, hoping to see a message in response to my photo, but the inbox was empty. I swallowed down my disappointment, determined not to lose my good mood, and pulled on my running clothes. I flipped through my playlist for something loud and aggressive, and launched myself out of the front door.

I ran until it got dark, pushing myself harder and faster than I had in months. I didn't like running after dark, it wasn't a great neighbourhood, and with my music on I couldn't anticipate an attack if someone took a fancy to my phone. I stumbled back in to the flat on jelly legs and collapsed on the sofa, chest heaving and sweat running into my ears. I was tempted to just stay there indefinitely, but my stomach was caving in on itself with hunger, so I hauled myself upright and staggered to the kitchenette. I raided my emergency stash of energy drinks and threw a packet of plain rice into the ancient microwave. Sugar and starch. It would have to do.

I spent the next few hours trying to decide what time I should call him. I was torn between wanting to hear his voice as soon as possible, and needing to delay the experience, so that it would seem to last longer. I spent as long as I could in the shower, until the water ran cold. I felt strangely self-conscious, wanting to touch myself but hearing his voice, asking me about picturing someone, and I couldn't do it.

I pulled on warm clothes and got under my blankets, listening to music, catching up on news on the web. I missed being able to lie naked on the covers, but I couldn't afford to heat the flat to that kind of temperature. If it started snowing, I would be wearing a hat and gloves to bed. I was grateful that I had a bed, and warm clothes to wear in it.

I ate a protein bar that had been on special offer the week before, past its sell-by date, and wondered what he would be eating for dinner. He had lived in this place too, so he probably wasn't well off.

I decided to call him at nine. After dinner, before bed. That seemed reasonable. I counted the slow minutes. I had stopped chastising myself for being so excited about speaking to him after the first half hour of running. There was no-one to take the piss out of me, or care one way or the other. It was fun and I might as well enjoy it.

By the time it got to nine o'clock I was unable to lie still any longer, and started pacing around the bedroom. I made myself wait two more minutes and then touched the phone screen to call his number. He picked up straight away, as if he had been waiting for the call.

"Hi, Edward," he breathed, and I had to sit back down on the bed. Something about his voice just did strange things to my chest. I could hear his smile.

"Hi, Jasper," I replied, grinning like an idiot.

"I got your picture," he said. "And your bio. Very... succinct."

"You're welcome," I said. "I felt it was only fair, to even things up a little."

"I don't think we're very even, Edward," he said, his voice teasing. "I feel rather inadequate in the face of your deliciousness."

I choked.

"In fact," he went on. "I don't think I mind losing my photos of Peter nearly so much now that I have something else to look at."

Oh. My. God. The difficulty I'd had in the shower no longer seemed to be a problem. I was holding the phone to my ear with one hand and gripping my instant erection through the fabric of my sweat pants with the other.

I must have been silent for longer than appropriate because he sounded quite concerned when he spoke next.

"Edward? Are you still there? God, I have scared you off already?"

"No!" I croaked, my voice no longer functioning properly. "I'm here! I, just... shit, I wasn't expecting you to say that."

"Oh," he replied, the laughter back in his voice. "Well, what were you expecting? I'm sorry if I seem a little eager, I just thought, with the photo and the call last night, that this was exactly what you were expecting."

"Well, sort of, it's just, I thought we would, you know, talk about some other stuff first..." I trailed off, lamely. God, I sounded like a teenage girl.

Jasper laughed properly this time.

"Really?" he asked between chuckles that were making my dick harden even more in my hand. "You'd like us to get to know each other first? Maybe swap family history, school results, that sort of thing?"

I stayed quiet, closing my eyes, my smile returning to stretch across my face. I should probably be embarrassed but he was just so relaxed, he made me utterly comfortable.

"Listen Edward," he said, his voice more serious now. "Don't get me wrong, I would love to get to know you - you look gorgeous, you sound completely edible, and you were interested enough to call me at two in the morning. But right now I'm a hundred miles away, I've been looking at your picture all day, waiting for you to call, and I don't really think I have it in me to have a polite conversation."

Holy shit. I couldn't speak.

"So what do you think, Edward? I'm lying here stark bollock naked, will you talk to me? Or at least let me talk to you?"

Jesus fucking Christ. I crashed back on the bed, my feet still on the floor, feeling my heart pushing my ribs out each time it pulsed in my chest. All the images from my daytime fantasies and nighttime dreams flashed into my mind in rapid succession.

"OK," I barely whispered, my breathing ragged. "I'd like you to talk to me. I'm not sure I can talk back much, though."

"That's OK," he said, his voice lower, smoother, silkier. " Are you naked too?"

I shook my head automatically, despite knowing he couldn't see.

"No," I told him. "It's freezing in here."

"Oh yes, I remember," he said, thoughtfully. "Can you get in to bed?"

"OK, hang on," I agreed, putting the phone on the bedside table and burrowing under the blankets. It still wasn't warm enough to take any clothes off. I looked up at the thick blanket on the window, and leapt out of bed again, ripping it down from its nails, fraying the edges even more than before. I doubled it over and laid it over the bed before climbing back inside. Better. I snaked my hands down under the blankets and inside my trousers and boxers, lifting my hips to slide them down and then kicking my legs to get rid of them. My cock was still rock hard, the rough fabric of the blankets scratching against me, teasing but not providing any friction.

"I'm back," I said breathlessly into the phone, turning my head slightly to the side so I could wedge it under one ear.

"Warmer?" he asked.

"Warm enough," I answered, feeling my body start to relax under the weight of the blankets. Well, most of my body.

"If I was there you would definitely be warm enough," he breathed, and I inhaled sharply, closing my eyes. The things he could do to me with just his voice...

"If I was there, I'd be lying right next to you, warming you all the way down to your toes," he murmured. "I'd have my arms wrapped round you and I'd brush my fingers over your chest – can you do that for me, Edward? As if I was there?"

I placed one hand on my chest and rubbed experimentally. I felt a bit daft.

"Are you doing it? I'd be flicking my thumb over your nipple and licking your neck."

My neck shivered involuntarily and it didn't feel so silly any more. My cock twitched against the blankets and I was desperate to touch it, but I somehow felt I needed permission, that I could only do what he told me to.

"Are you doing it, Edward?" he asked again.

"Yes," I whispered. "I'm doing it."

"I think I'd stroke down your side and round to your ass," he said. "I'm sure I'd want to squeeze it, I bet you've got a beautiful, tight, round ass."

I forced myself to breathe evenly as I followed his instruction and reached round to my backside, rolling on to my side, taking the opportunity to press my aching cock in to the mattress. I squeezed and rubbed my buttock, sliding my smallest finger between my cheeks, wondering what his hand would feel like, kneading and exploring. I groaned quietly but my mouth was right next to the phone so he could hear me clearly.

"You like that, Edward?" he asked. "I hope you like that, because listening to you breathing and making those noises is making me so damn hard. If I was there you'd be able to feel my dick pressing in to your back, and I'd just have to reach round and slide my hand under your balls and right up over your gorgeous cock."

I didn't need telling twice, shifting so I could cup my balls and then stroke from the base to the tip of my cock, gliding my thumb over the head and moaning breathlessly. I was helpless, unable to contain the noises escaping me. I'd been waiting for this all day, needing it for so much longer than that. The momentary relief at finally touching myself, pushing into my tightly wrapped fingers, was overwhelmed by the tension that cranked up every time he spoke.

"Fuck," I breathed. "Fuck, Jasper..."

"You know I would," his voice was rougher now. "But if I was there I'd want to taste you first. Have you got my toy box there, Edward?"

I couldn't help my sharp intake of breath. What the hell was he planning?

He chuckled lightly at me.

"Don't worry, I was just going to suggest you found the lube," he explained. "Unless you have your own closer to hand?"

"Oh, right, of course," I snickered, partly relieved, partly disappointed. Maybe next time. God, I hoped there was going to be a next time.

I didn't want to let go with the hand now moving steadily over my cock, so I reached under the bed with my free hand, trying not to expose too much naked flesh outside the warmth of the bed. I managed to flip the lid of the box open and find the bottle without having to look.

"Got it," I breathed.

"Good," he said.

The sensation that had threatened to push me over the edge far to soon had receded slightly and I slowed my hand, breathing evenly. I almost thought I was under control under he started talking again.

"I'm think about pushing you on to your back," he murmured. "I'd spread your legs out for me and settle down between them so I could lick you right across the top of your cock – is there anything there for me Edward? Any delicious, salty wetness for me to taste?"

"Yes!" I gasped, feeling the slick fluid under my thumb. The way he said the word 'delicious' made me shiver all over. "Yes, Jesus, Jasper..."

"You'll need some of that lube now because I'm thinking about taking you right in to my mouth, really slowly. I'd lick all around, I'd get to know every last millimetre of you."

I pumped a generous amount on to my cock, flinching at the coldness and quickly smoothing it over myself to warm it up.

"Stroke yourself, Edward,"Jasper was saying. "Stroke slowly, but grip hard. Think about how I'd slide you in and out of my throat, I'd swallow and squeeze you in my mouth, I'd explore every inch of you with my tongue."

I could barely breathe. Part of my mind was lost in the dream of his mouth on me, his body pressing into me, his hands caressing me, but the rest of me was mesmerized by the thought of him lying naked on his bed, somewhere in another city, touching himself and murmuring dirty, fabulous fantasy into my ear.

"Use your other hand too, Edward," he crooned. "I'd be tugging down on your balls and rubbing behind them all the way up to your hole, but I wouldn't stop my mouth, slowly, slowly, in and out, grazing my teeth all the way up."

"Oh God, Jasper," I groaned. "Please, I need to..."

"Do it, Edward," he rasped. "I'm doing it too, God, the thought of you is driving me crazy. I'd be sucking and pumping and licking you as fast and hard as I could, I'd be thrusting my dick against your legs until I couldn't stand it any more, I want to be inside you, I want fill you up, I want to pound into you, I want to possess you, I want to... fuck... Edward..."

One hand was moving in a blur over my cock, the other gripping the sheets beneath me as I twisted and pressed my ear against my phone, desperate to hear his voice, desperate to come, desperate for this not to end so soon. His words became a mess of obscenity and incoherence, I couldn't hear him properly anyway over the sound of my own groaning and swearing until I suddenly erupted in a hot, blissful, tortured release. It seemed to go on in waves of almost painful pleasure, ripping out of my body, convulsing me as I let go of all the frustration and anger and hopelessness that had consumed me for so long.

I have no idea how long I lay there before I became aware of my surroundings again. My hand and stomach were sticky with cooling come, my blankets a similar mess. I laughed. I felt high. All the petty concerns and grievances of my daily life seemed irrelevant.

I remembered he was actually on the phone, not actually here with me. I scrambled to pick up the phone, looking at the screen. It said he was still there.

"Hello?" I said, slightly self-conscious for a moment.

"Hi," came his voice back, sounding lazy and sleepy.

I laughed again, not able to keep it in.

"So, that was fun," he said.

"Yes, yes it was," I replied, still snickering to myself.

"We could talk now, if you like?" he suggested.

"I think I need to go and clean up first," I protested. "And I hate to say this, but I really can't afford much longer on the phone."

"How about I call you back in a while?" he asked.

"I'd like that," I said, really meaning it.

"Half an hour?"

"Yeah OK, talk to you then."

I put the phone down as he broke the connection and considered emerging from my cocoon of blankets into the frigid night air. I didn't relish the thought of getting cold again. But I trusted Jasper to call me back later, and I knew he would warm me up with just the sound of his voice.

Day 13: Saturday

The routine was screwed. I didn't care.

I had talked to Jasper for hours on Thursday night. I insisted on telling him my school grades in excruciating detail, just to punish him for taking the piss out of me earlier. He paid me back with an entire family tree complete with character assassinations of at least a dozen cousins. He was so easy to talk to. We were laughing most of the time. It made me ecstatic and nervous all at the same time. It seemed pretty unlikely that I would meet someone so perfect for me under such bizarre circumstances. I reminded myself constantly to live in the moment.

We spent most of Friday connected by email or chat or text. So my running and web browsing had not happened. The shower, I managed to fit in.

I learned that he was older than me, but only by five years. He was also isolated from his parents but considered himself lucky to have a strong group of friends and extended family. He had been with Peter for three years and they had broken up about six months ago. He had lived in my flat for just a few weeks, in between selling his place and starting a new job further north. He had very nearly not written to get his box back. I was glad that he likes taking chances.

We hadn't talked in the evening as he had been driving down to London and staying with friends, so had no privacy. He kept me up-to-date with regular messages, each a sharp comment on his evening or a self-deprecating joke at his own expense. I tried to keep up, feeling I didn't have much to offer.

He was coming to visit some time in the afternoon, officially just to collect the box. I hoped like hell he would stay for a while. I hoped I would want him to stay when I met him.

I woke earlier than usual from a restless sleep and decided to run in the morning. I wasn't expecting him to arrive before lunchtime and it was better than pacing around the flat for hours. I ran a route I had worked out the week before, keeping my pace steady, not wanting to exhaust myself. I called it good after an hour and ran up the steps to the flat feeling light, not able to keep a smile from my face. I pulled out my key as I rounded the corner and stopped dead.

He was leaning against the wall, typing on his phone when he heard me and looked up. If I wasn't already short of breath I would have found it hard to inhale anyway. He was the same as his picture, but even more beautiful. Not quite as tall as me but with long legs covered in skinny faded jeans, and broad shoulders in a battered leather coat. He had cut his hair shorter and it showed off his wide blue eyes. His lips were full and impossibly pink, the scruff on his jaw more visible in the flesh. His face burst into a joyful grin as he shoved the phone into a pocket and pushed off the wall towards me. He started talking but I still had music screaming in my ears and had to yank out my ear-buds before I could hear him speak.

"... was just sending you a message, I escaped early and couldn't wait..." he tailed off, sheepishly, finally noticing my appearance.

I was still breathing heavily, and I had to lean forward with my hands on my knees as I tried to catch my breath. Sweat was sticking my singlet to my chest and back, my hair probably sticking out in all directions.

"Hi Jasper," I wheezed, when I could finally speak coherently.

"Hi," he replied, looking concerned. "Sorry, I didn't think, if this is a bad time..."

"No!" I cut in, sharply. "I just think I need a shower, if you don't mind waiting."

My heart was beating so hard as I looked up at him, and it wasn't only from the run. If he just took his box and left now I would crash so hard I wasn't sure if I would be able get up again.

He smiled slowly back at me, looking me up and down, and I gasped a little when I saw his tongue slip along his lower lip as he blatantly checked me out.

"Of course, Edward," he said finally. "Maybe I could be of assistance?"

I moved to the door and slid my key into the lock, standing right next to him, still breathing hard. I leaned in slightly and he responded immediately, brushing his lips so softly against mine it made me shiver down the length of my spine. I swallowed.

"That would be very helpful," I murmured, opening the door.

He stepped in behind me, kicking the door shut and turning me round with his hands on my hips. My whole body shuddered in anticipation. He leaned forward to kiss me again, and whispered against my lips just before they touched.

"Welcome home."


Thanks as ever to my marvellous betas, Hoochiemomma and EvilGiraffe82. They are quite astonishing wonderful.

Quite a few people who were kind enough to review this story when it was anon asked if I was going to continue it. I'd like to but I'm not quite sure where to take it, and want to finish Since first, so please put me on Story or Author alert just in case! Oh, and leave me a review here too. Please.