Title: The Coat
Which fairytale inspired you: Bearskin
Rating & Any Needed Warning: M
Summary: If you were told you could have anything you wanted by living in the wild for a year, would you do it? I did.
The war was over and I lost.
It wasn't the kind that rages in the Middle East. It was the kind fought in courts and board rooms. Pen and paper were the weapons of choice with lawyers to wield them. None of it mattered any more though. My battles were lost and so was my life.
The company that had been in my family for 200 years was now being ripped apart and sold to the highest bidder. The little money that I was going to receive would barely cover the court costs. My house and cars, save one, were already gone. I sold them to help fund my fight.
Some good that did.
Seattle was the last office to close and it felt too tight. I had to leave the city. I had to get out. It was rubbing my face in my failure.
It took weeks for the dust to settle. And now that it was all said and done, I ,Edward Masen, had $51.34 to my name. Not even enough to buy a shitty room to sleep for the night.
I took my 1984 Audi to the gas station and spent what I had left on gas. The money just managed to fill my tank with a few dollars to spare.
From there I just drove. Away from it all. Nothing filled my mind for the future as I drifted along the road. The only stops I made were to pay the tolls. It wasn't until I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror that I realized I had no Idea where I was.
I pulled over to the side of the road and hung my head. I had no more fight in me.
"Now Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" The officer asked.
"No Sir. I really don't."
"License and registration please." He asked as if he hadn't heard my answer.
As I waited for him to come back with my ticket I took the chance to look around and see where I was. I wasn't able to figure it out.
There was a tap at my window.
"Alright, looks like your record is clean and everything is on the up and up so I am going to let you off with a warning." He said kindly.
I looked at him for the first time and found a kind smile.
"Thank you," I said roughly. It was the first break I'd caught in months.
"Yeah, well, you look like you have been through enough." He didn't seem used to getting compliments either. "Just watch your speed."
I watched his cruiser pull away and read the side. I was close to a town called Forks. That was good to know. It was getting dark and I searched for a rest stop to sleep for the night.
I awoke the next morning with an ache in my neck but feeling a little better. After I cleaned up best I could in the bathrooms I decided to take a walk in the woods. I figured my car would be safe enough.
There was a small path I followed for the first little while, but when it ended, I decided to keep going. I took a break mid morning when the rain started and found shelter under a tree. It wasn't until my teeth chattered that I realized just how cold I'd gotten. I curled around myself to try to stay warm and listened to the sounds around me.
"Well, well, well. What do we have here?"
That was not was I was expecting to hear. I couldn't move more than my head if I wanted too. I was too cold.
"Oh, not going to answer? Well I'll just see for my self" The male voice said.
I felt a cold touch on my cheek. That was my first clue that something was not right.
"You are a special one, aren't you."
I shivered at the change in his tone. There was something hungry there. I found the strength to open my eyes and look.
I would have called him a beautiful angel if it wasn't for his eyes. They were red. He was pale with dark hair falling to his shoulders.
"I am going to do something special with you."
"W-w-whooo," was all I could get out
"All in good time my boy. Here is what I can offer you. I will give you enough money to get back your family's company ten times over if you can do the task I give you."
I didn't even try to speak. I just looked at at him expectantly.
A slow smile speed on his face and if I had just passed some test. "My task for you is to live out here in the woods with nothing more than this coat." He held up a full length leather trench coat.
I knew there was more so, again, I waited.
"My, you are very clever. You are not allowed to talk from the moment you put on this coat. You are not to remove the garment for any reason. You are not allowed to shave or cut your hair. I do realize you'll need provisions from time to time. This card," he held up black plastic, "should be enough to get you through. Once the year is up we will meet back here in this spot. I will see if you have done as I asked. If you have I will transfer the promised amount to your accounts and you will be free."
"F-f-ail?" My point was clear while my words were not.
His face came alive at the idea of me failing. "If you fail you and your soul are mine to do with as I please."
There it was. I already knew my answer but still took my time. He did not need to know what little I thought of life, how this forest would be a welcome home over the city, or that I believed souls were just a myth. Mankind was evil and only thought of themselves. I had nothing to lose.
Once I thought enough time has passed I turned my palm up and tried to reach for the coat.
"I shall see you in a year"
I kept on my path. Not giving much thought to them. It has been six months since I put this coat on and it was staring to get cold. I was heading into town for a warm meal and to get supplies to make it through the winter.
Most of the locals knew me to be harmless but every now and then a guy needing to prove his dick size would try to pick a fight with me.
It never ended well for them.
"I an talking to you!" He yelled.
I still ignored and walked into the store I was looking for. The bell chimed as I walked in. The guy at the counter looked up and smiled.
He was willing to put up with me because he knew I had money. He pulled out a pen and paper so we could get started. While I couldn't speak for a year, my demon said nothing of writing.
My trip was fast. I got a pack that could house a tent and sleeping bag for the impending weather. I was still trying to figure out the problem of getting a heat source as I left the store. I didn't hear the footsteps following me as I made my way back into the woods.
"This will teach you to ignore me!" Was all I heard before my world went black.
I woke feeling very heavy. I tried to sit up but realized my pack was still on making it almost impossible to do. I was stuck and couldn't yell for help. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe. I closed my eyes and welcomed the blackness.
All at once the weight was lifted and I was able to breath. I tried to sit up to gain my bearings and felt hands aiding me.
"Whoa, there. Those assholes got you pretty good."
I recognized the voice as the clerk from the camping store. I looked to the name tag he still had on.
"I am sorry I didn't get here sooner. I saw them following you a little too late." He was talking so fast it made me feel dizzy. It could have also been the head injury. "Alright, let's get you up and get you too a doctor."
I seized up. The hospital would require me to take off my coat. That wasn't going to happen. I stopped helping him and let myself fall back to the ground. If I was going to lose it would be on my terms.
"What? Come on, we need to get up. You are hurt." He argued.
I stayed seated and shook my head side to side ignoring the pain. I was not going.
"Look, fine. We don't have to go to the hospital but will you at least let me take you to my place so I can get you cleaned up?" He offered.
I agreed and we made our way.
He lived in a cabin not to far from the shop but far enough away that it seemed the only thing left for miles.
I took my shoes off and we entered.
"Sit" He pointed to a kitchen chair. He made quick work of cleaning me up and tried to get me to sleep on his couch. We compromised with me sleeping in his front lawn. I was still outside and still keeping my bargain while he was close by to check on me. I didn't understand why he cared but figured I would welcome it while it lasted.
We fell into a routine after that. I would stay close by his place. I could never stay more that a few nights in the same spot. I had grown used to moving frequently to stay safe from while animals and cruel men. It was nice in a way. I didn't have to go back into town when I needed things. I would just leave a list for Jasper with my card number and he would have them waiting for me on his porch the next day.
He would go out hiking with me on his days off. He never pushed me to share and I never offered. Sometimes he would talk to me while most times he was just content at having another person to share the sights with.
The first snow fall came six weeks into whatever we were doing. That morning I found a pile of dry wood next to a book and a note.
I know better than to ask you in. I thought you may get bored since you can't do much hiking. Let me know how you like it or if you need anything else.
The book was "Crime and Punishment" and it brought a smile to my face. I had read the book years ago in college but settled down into my tent nonetheless. I gave the book back with a note on what I thought. This continued for the rest of the winter.
As the snow began to to melt so did my hatred. I can't say it was just Jasper either. There was something about just being still that put into focus so many things that I never really had the time to see.
I was in one of those moods when I walked the familiar path to drop off the latest book when I noticed something missing. There was a book waiting for me but it was a notebook not a novel. I picked it up and opened to the first page.
I hope I'm not over stepping here but I want to know more about you... and well I want you to know more about me. If it is too much just leave the book here and we can carry one as always... but I'd like to try.
My had shook as I pulled out my pen I carried with me and wrote my answer.
Yes. I'd like that very much.
I hid in the bushes and waited for him to come home and find the note. The smile on his face when he read it was worth the back ache I had from squatting.
We carried on this way until the appointed year was up. Some days the questions were easy while other days were hard. I slowly found myself falling for a man I'd never spoken to but knew me better than anyone else in the world.
When the day finally came for me to go and claim my prize I found my heart hurting to leave behind Jasper. I left a note knowing it would take a few days to get everything worked out and didn't want him to worry.
I have to go away for a time. All is well with me. I would like to ask you on a date when I return. If you are willing please meet me at "The Lodge" in three days time. I'll be the one with the book.
I could not sit still as I waited for Jasper to get there. Getting my reward had proven much easier than I had thought. With just a simple touch he was able to see I had kept my word. He seemed truly happy I had made the best of it. He handed me the card to my new bank account as well as all the identification I would need in getting my life back.
The first thing I did was get myself cleaned up. Sure I had washed as best I could with a coat on but it left much to be desired.
My face felt naked without the beard to cover it and I missed the weight of my coat. Don't get me wrong I looked great in my three piece suit, but I had grown accustomed to the protection that coat had given me.
All my thoughts stopped though when Jasper walked in the door. He looked around the room and he eyes passed right over me. This was just one more reason for me to love him. He had come here expecting to be meet with a smelly scruff of a man.
I rose from my seat and made my way over to him at the bar.
"Mind if I sit here?" I asked in a scratchy voice. I was still not used to using it.
With out even looking up, he replied, "Actually I am waiting for someone."
Smiling, I slid my book into his view. It was the copy of 'Crime and Punishment' he's given me to read all those months ago. "I don't think he'll mind"
His eye snapped to mine and went wide. "Edward..." he whispered.
I could only nod afraid he might not like me this way. I started to grow more and more uncomfortable as he sat there just looking. Finally, I broke eye contact and resigned myself to the rejection.
"I'll go." I said softly and made to leave.
"NO!" Jasper shouted with little regard to the patrons. His hands shot out and grabbed mine, holding me in place. "It really is you?"
Again I could only nod. I hadn't been touched by another in over a year.
He lifted my chin and smiled. "Ok. Lets get to our date." Then he leaned in and whispered "If you are lucky I'll take you back to my place and show you the bed you refused to sleep in."