::WINNER OF THE HOST PICK IN THE VAMP/SLASH CONTEST:::
Title – All that's best of dark and bright
Author – Rhythm Junkie
Genre – A/U
Pairing – Jasper/Seth
Rating – M
Word Count – 6344
Summary – How do you blindside an empath? Be Seth.
Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight. All of it.
Love to my incredible one-of-a-kind beta PortiaKhalo.
Pop over and have a look at the entries: www(dot)vampslash(dot)wordpress(dot)com/the-contest
The title of this story is taken from a Byron poem.
Deep brown eyes turned up to gaze from under thick dark lashes. Jasper stared back at the boy kneeling in front of him, one hand on his thigh, the other on the waistband of his jeans, and shook his head almost imperceptibly. It made his dead heart clench to see the fall of rejection on that beautiful face. He tangled his hand in the boy's dark hair and tugged. The boy kept his eyes turned away until Jasper tugged a little more firmly, insistent that his gaze be met.
"Seth." He kept his voice gentle. "This isn't a game. This is your life we're talking about."
Seth's eyes flashed and he pulled himself up, giving himself a few inches of height on Jasper. "You think I don't know that?" He spat, anger making his cheeks flush in a way that Jasper couldn't help but find appealing. "You think I don't know that every time you turn me down and send me away?"
Jasper tried to reach out, tried to touch the warm skin inches from him but Seth danced out of his reach, graceful even in rage. He met Jasper's eyes and the hurt there made Jasper take an involuntary breath. In a swirl of hot flesh and soft hair, Seth was halfway across the clearing, the bunched muscles of his back mirroring his angry strides.
"Seth," Jasper called, "Please don't leave."
The boy vanished into the trees without a backward glance and Jasper slid to the forest floor, head in hands. He hated turning him away, hated being the one to say no, but he just couldn't take a risk with the life that had become so precious to him. They were built as mortal enemies and never had that been clearer that between him and Seth.
Jasper didn't quite know when it had happened, when this sweet naïve Native boy had shoe-horned himself into his dead heart. He remembered when Seth had started coming around, after the whole Jacob/Nessie/imprint fiasco. He hadn't paid too much attention, not really, but it was hard to stay aloof with Seth.
Seth, who was so sweet he would walk into the home of his sworn enemy with nothing but a smile and those ridiculous cut-off shorts, was just so damn easy to be around. Especially for an empath. It was rare for Jasper to feel anything but calm or excitement from the boy. He was, almost always, a one-emotion guy and it was just so restful that, after a few weeks of his presence, Jasper found himself gravitating to the boy whenever he was over, soaking up his uncomplicated aura.
Seth had gravitated toward Jasper too, interested in his scars, in his history and in his silence. Jasper had tried to deflect him at first but Seth was as impervious as a puppy, bounding back day after day with new questions and an increasing hunger for Jasper's knowledge. Jasper, for his part, was flattered. He was so used to being the weak link in the Cullen chain that this boy, with his easy trust and honest interest, took him completely off-guard.
It wasn't long before Seth was spending more time with Jasper than anyone else in the Cullen household. They spent hours in Jasper's study as he told stories of both human and vampire wars. Jasper found he could be more honest with this boy than he had been with anyone in his long life and, for the first time, didn't hold back on details. Seth listened to everything without judgement, asking questions periodically. Jasper was surprised, and more than a little pleased, to find no trace of anger, disgust or fear in Seth, just curiosity; and acceptance.
He sighed and stood, his eyes raking the now-empty clearing. The breeze still held a faint whiff of Seth's scent – salt-water and summer-hot grass – and Jasper found himself gulping it down greedily. He knew from the beginning that this tryst couldn't hold but he hadn't realised it would end so soon. He hadn't realised it would be so painful.
"You remember the first fight we had here?"
Seth's voice yanked Jasper from his gloomy thoughts and he whirled around, eyes finding the boy a few feet from him, cross-legged on the grass. His insides hurt at the sight of him, so young and so beautiful, watching with an expression Jasper wished he'd never had to see on that sweet face.
Jasper raked a hand through his curls, a nervous habit he'd picked up from Edward, and felt himself hovering between staying put and walking to the boy whose very presence pulled him in. He nodded at the question hanging in the air and was rewarded with a smile. Not a usual Seth smile, wide and full of life, but a ghost of it. It hurt Jasper to know he had caused that. He took a tentative step toward the boy on the grass and, receiving no rebuttal, crossed the rest of the space to sit cross-legged in front of him.
"You fought well for one so inexperienced," Jasper teased softly, and was gifted with a crinkle of Seth's eyebrow.
Jasper had noticed an edge of nervousness to Seth but didn't push him, waiting for the boy to come to him with whatever was troubling his head. Eventually the boy had approached him, all blushing glances and shuffling feet.
"Umm, I was wondering if maybe you could teach me to fight?" Seth had looked up at him through those eyelashes and added quickly, "Only if you have time and stuff" then trailed off, clearly embarrassed. Jasper had smiled, unable to say no to such a heartfelt plea.
Seth leaned in against him and Jasper fought the urge to purr at the contact. Even now, after everything that had happened between them, the blistering soak of heat from Seth's skin to his still made him gasp. Instead, he closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation as his perpetually cold skin slowly warmed from the outside in. It was the most divine feeling.
Hot lips on his collarbone made Jasper drop his head back, giving the boy greater access. He allowed himself to be tipped onto the grass and completely covered by Seth's solid frame. Hands inside his shirt, stroking his skin, left twin comet trails of warmth down his torso.
"Jasper," Seth whispered in his ear, his fingers already on the buttons of Jasper's jeans.
"Only hands Seth," Jasper murmured, voice both a warning and a plea. It turned into a groan in his chest as his jeans were unbuttoned and a hand seared its intent around his already hard cock.
Seth worked him slowly, an apology as much as a show of desire, his hand as tight down Jasper's jeans as the rest of his body was on top of him. He whispered quiet, sweet words of adulation in the vampire's ear, stroking and kissing him in the way he'd learned Jasper liked over the past few months.
Jasper lay prone beneath him, allowing him this modicum of control; an apology of sorts for refusing his earlier request. They ended like this so often; Seth begging, Jasper refusing, Seth then leaving only to return and apologise for his child-like behaviour with the only pleasure he could offer the beautiful dead thing pressed under his body. Seth tried, in these moments, to fill Jasper with heat inside and out. He reasoned, when Jasper's skin was warm from him, he could almost pretend that they were two normal boys, simply exploring each other. Nothing more.
It didn't last.
Jasper bucked against his hand once, twice, three times and then, hands fisted in Seth's dark hair, came hard in his jeans, spilling into Seth's waiting palm, an exquisite litany of profanities colouring the air around them. Seth took the opportunity to press his mouth against Jasper's, the post-orgasm bliss-out one of the few times he could get away with such an action. He felt Jasper move his mouth lazily against him and pressed more insistently.
Too short a time later, Jasper was gently disentangling himself from Seth's ardent embrace. Seth considered continuing to force their mouths together but the last time he'd tried that, frustrated and angry, it had ended with Jasper throwing him across the clearing and refusing his company for a week.
They sat together, shoulder to shoulder, watching the sunset until Jasper gently suggested Seth head home to sleep.
"You have patrol in the morning and your body needs the rest," he soothed, stroking a cool finger across the back of Seth's neck, making the boy shiver deliciously. Seth nodded, reluctant to leave the vampire's side but knowing his words came from affection. They stood and Jasper walked him to the treaty line, as he tended to do on the nights they spent in the clearing. He pressed his forehead to the boy's, trying to make up for the physicality they couldn't share, and pushed him gently toward home.
"Sleep sweet," he whispered to the retreating back, knowing the boy's sensitive ears would pick it up on the wind. He thought he saw his head bob in acknowledgement but he couldn't be sure.
There it was. An undercurrent of desire lacing Seth's usual emotions. Jasper squinted at the boy, trying to figure it out, when Seth charged suddenly. Jasper's momentary distraction helped Seth, who veered to the left before Jasper could get a read on him and barrelled into the vampire side-on. They went down in a clash of limbs, Seth managing to roll so that his torso pinned Jasper beneath him.
"I got you!" His eyes were glistening with triumph and Jasper couldn't help but smile at the open joy on his face. "I finally got you!"
"You did," Jasper agreed before moving and, in a blur of arms, pinned Seth below him, "But don't get cocky about it."
Seth had been looking up at him, surprise painted across those beautiful cheekbones, when Jasper felt it. Against his thigh. His own eyes widened and Seth's face deepened in colour as a fiery blush erupted across his already hot skin. He bucked Jasper off and took off running, exploding into wolf just before hitting tree cover, leaving a taken-aback Jasper sitting in the dirt.
"Make the decision Jazz."
Alice's voice pulled him out of his depressed reverie. She stood in the doorway, reserved and forlorn in a way he'd never seen. He opened his mouth to speak but she raised a hand to silence him.
"Make the decision, Jazz," she repeated, voice heavy with sorrow. He looked at the woman who had been his friend, his partner and his lover for so many years and allowed his desire to morph into a concrete choice. He watched as her amber eyes slid out of focus, knowing she was watching the future race beneath her eyelids.
Suddenly she was beside him, her face soft and imploring. Jasper held an unnecessary breath, waiting for her to seal his fate.
"He'll be fine Jazz," she whispered, "Everything will be fine."
"But what if he isn't?" Jasper felt the wave of his fear crash over him to spill from his mouth, "What if I hurt him? What if some venom gets onto him accidentally and he has a cut? What if the condom bursts?" The last one whispered against the ache in his cold chest at the thought of putting that sweet boy in any danger.
Alice's hand was smooth in his hair as she tangled her fingers in his curls and pulled his forehead to hers. Her breath was sweet on his face.
"It'll be fine, I swear," she whispered against his mouth, "And besides, you're going to check."
He knew the truth of her words as soon as she spoke them. He knew venom didn't eat through clothing but he didn't trust the thin sheath of rubber that would be the only thing to protect Seth from him.
"We don't even know if it'll hurt him." Alice's voice was low with sadness.
"I'm sorry," Jasper murmured against his wife's cheekbone and felt her head nod in response as her arms snaked around his waist and pulled him against her.
"This is just how it has to be," she replied and then, with a final kiss to his hair, she was gone, leaving Jasper to his thoughts.
It had been a week and he hadn't seen nor heard from Seth. Jacob and Quil spoke furtively with each other, shooting him glances behind his back. Embry shrugged and answered vaguely whenever the topic of Seth came up. Finally Jasper headed to the treaty line, knowing it was Sam's turn to run patrol and hoping to catch him.
"You should leave this alone."
Jasper jumped at the sound of the female wolf's voice, so lost in his worry that he hadn't registered her presence. He turned to her, sitting naked beneath a tree, half hidden in foliage. Her hair parted as she lifted her head, revealing her haunted eyes. Jasper said nothing.
"He'll be fine if you give him time."
"I just want to make sure he's okay," Jasper replied through gritted teeth. Leah's stare was beginning to unnerve him. He caught a whiff of Sam on the breeze and when he turned back to Leah she was gone.
Sam was reluctant to allow Jasper passage but it was clear from his emotions that he was worried about Seth and that this worry was enough for him to agree. This did nothing to alleviate Jasper's own worry.
"How is he?" Jasper asked as he and Sam walked side by side through the trees towards La Push. Sam was silent for so long that Jasper thought he wasn't going to answer, until he found his path blocked by six and a half feet of angry Native.
"I don't know what happened between you and him," he practically snarled, "but he hasn't left his house in a week. I've never seen him so…down." Jasper stared at Sam, both annoyed and pleased by the swirling protectiveness he was emanating. Sam raised a hand and rubbed his face wearily. "He's like a brother so just…fix this."
Sam stopped and pointed out a small house. "That's Seth's. We'll be here so … don't do anything dodgy."
Jasper rolled his eyes and walked toward the house Sam had indicated. The closer he got, the more his nerves spun. He stopped, surprised. It had been a long time since he'd felt nervous. He hovered, unsure of his next move, until a blast of wind engulfed him in salt-water and summer-hot grass. He was in Seth's room before he registered his own movements.
The boy was off the bed and vibrating before Jasper had a chance to open his mouth. He watched as total shock, followed swiftly by all-encompassing embarrassment, washed over Seth. Before Jasper could reassure him, he was hit by a huge wave of fear. He dropped instinctively, backing Seth into the corner and scanning the surrounding area for danger. Seth grabbed his shoulders and pulled him out of his crouch, eyes searching his frantically.
"What are you doing here?" His voice was high with distress. "If they catch you here they'll kill you! Are you crazy?"
"Seth…" Jasper tried to reassure the frantic boy but he wasn't listening, dragging Jasper to the window and practically throwing him out. Jasper had barely landed on his feet when Seth barrelled into him and started pulling him into the forest.
"Seth…" Jasper tried again to get the boy's attention but Seth simply redoubled his efforts to tug the vampire behind him. Jasper stopped fighting, simply allowing the boy to haul him wherever he intended. Before too long they were at the clearing. Seth let go of his arm and Jasper immediately missed the contact.
"You can't come to La Push," Seth shouted, "Have you lost your mind?"
Jasper was taken aback by the strength of emotion pouring from Seth. Worry, fear, anger, desire. Jasper felt his brows scrunch trying to work out exactly what was going on in the boy's head.
"Seth," he spoke patiently, trying to soothe him, "I had Sam's permission to enter La Push. I wanted to check on you. I was…worried."
For a moment they just stared at each other. Seth's determination hit Jasper as hard as Seth's mouth on his. Hot lips moulded to his own cold ones made Jasper stumble and Seth took the opportunity to back him into a tree, pressing against him, hands gripping his clothes.
Seth reared back, guilt engulfing him. Jasper could only stare, again completely taken by surprise by this boy.
"I'm sorry," Seth whispered, backing away, "I'm so…"
Jasper silenced Seth's words with his lips.
Japer found himself in the forest, far from treaty lines and hunting grounds, a bottle of lubricant and several brands of condoms in his hands. He was standing in the same place he had been for the past hour, still and silent as stone, trying to figure out what the hell to do. Alice had provided the items he currently held in his hands and told him that he'd have a good half a day of peace if he ran west for two hours. He ran for three, just to be sure.
"Anal sex is more vigorous than vaginal sex." Alice had spoken in a detached, clinical voice, ignoring Jasper's wince. "These are condoms made specifically for anal sex. I got a bunch of different sizes and shapes so you can test out which ones you feel most comfortable with. I got you a silicone-based, non-scented lubricant. I thought you'd appreciate not having to make that choice too."
Jasper wasn't sure of the correct etiquette for thanking your wife for providing the necessary tools for you to have sex with another man so he said nothing, simply nodding. He didn't miss that Alice failed to look at him during her speech. He listened intently, wincing as little as possible, as she spoke of rimming and stretching and scissoring and penetration, nodding in what he hoped were the correct places. In truth he was grateful that Alice had taken the time to find out the information. It saved him a job he hadn't been looking forward to.
"It'll be okay, Jazz, really." She'd kissed his lips tenderly and smiled before ushering him out of the door with her purchases.
The military man in him told him to just man up and get on with it. Jasper reached for his jeans and shucked them to his knees, chose a condom and did just that. He thought back to the early, awkward time after the first kiss with Seth. How things would be normal except for the tension that would spill over every few days, causing Seth to growl and pounce, pinning him down and exploring Jasper's skin with his hot mouth. How Jasper found himself sending bursts of lust to Seth on the in-between days to hurry him along. How they had progressed to hands and mouths and open jeans surprisingly quickly. These thoughts had the condoms thoroughly tested within an hour.
"You've got me off with your hand and your mouth but you won't kiss me properly!" Seth's voice was loud in the empty clearing, anger failing to mask the hurt in his tone. Jasper tried to send him some calm but it only served to make him angrier. "Don't try to manipulate me, I have a right to be mad," he growled.
"Seth, I can't kiss you the way you want." Jasper was aware his voice was pleading but he couldn't find it in him to care, so deeply did this sweet boy's pain affect him. "It's too dangerous."
"It wasn't dangerous for Bella," Seth had snarled back.
"That was different."
"Why?" Seth's face morphed into to something unpleasant. "Because she was a girl?"
Jasper swallowed back his temper. Sometimes he forgot that, despite Seth's physical appearance, he was still only a teenager. A teenager dealing with an attraction that he'd never expected.
"Seth," Jasper kept his voice soothing, "Bella was human. You are not. Bella would have been turned at worst from a kiss. You…" He trailed off, the sudden lump in his throat making it impossible to finish the thought. He couldn't fathom hurting the boy.
"Stop it." Seth's voice was fierce in his ear, arms tight around his back. "You're trying to talk yourself out of this and I won't let you."
"I could kill you," Jasper whispered, the agony of it twisting his tone. A vision of a dead Seth in his arms made Jasper shudder violently and Seth tighten his grip.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Seth chanted in his ear, "I won't try to kiss you again. I won't try to go down on you. Just please, don't…" He trailed off, burying his face in the crook of Jasper's neck instead. His anguish was torture to the vampire, who automatically pulled the boy into his arms and let him find what comfort he could in the embrace.
By the time Seth made it to the clearing, Jasper was practically shaking with nerves. His projected anxiety hit Seth as soon as he was in sight, his return of the emotion only making Jasper worse.
"What?" Seth pleaded, "What's wrong?"
In response, Jasper pressed his mouth to Seth's, burying his fingers in the boy's soft hair. Seth moaned against him as Jasper tugged, pulling him close until they were both swallowed by heat and chill and desire.
"Seth," Jasper whispered against his mouth, "Do you still want…"
Seth's eyes opened wide at the unfinished words, searching Jasper's face for any signs of deceit. Jasper projected as much honesty as he could.
"Really?" He breathed. It was clear he was having a hard time believing it. Jasper nodded, trying to bury his fear and focus on reassurance and sincerity.
"Yes I do."
Jasper nodded and they were both suddenly shy. Jasper made the first move, pulling Seth close, wrapping him in an embrace that would crush a mere mortal. Seth's hands were on his clothes instantly, as if afraid the vampire would change his mind. Jasper made no move to stop him, returning his ardour with equal fervour.
When they were both naked, Jasper let his eyes wander Seth's body, memorizing the exquisite curves and planes of him. Seth's slight blush brought him back to the present and gently he guided the boy to the floor, worshipping his burning skin with a cool tongue, making Seth moan at the sensation. Unable to stop himself, Jasper took the boy in his mouth. He loved the way Seth shivered beneath him, mumbling incoherently and burying his hands in Jasper's curls.
"Want to make you feel good," Seth murmured and Jasper could feel how much effort it took for him to string that sentence together. Gently he pulled the boy to his knees and guided him until he could rest his forearms on a nearby boulder. Jasper pushed the boy's legs apart and crawled between them, pressing his naked body flush against Seth like he'd wanted to since that first kiss.
Seth hissed and whimpered, arms reaching back to clutch at the vampire's exposed skin. Jasper smiled against his neck then kissed it gently, trailing lips and fingertips over his shoulders and back.
"You need to trust me now," he whispered against Seth's ear, unable to stop the tip of his tongue slipping out to trail its curve. Seth whined and pushed back. "Do you trust me?"
"Yes…yes." Seth's words were forced out from under the blanket of sensation enveloping him. Jasper whispered his intentions as he lubricated his fingers, guiding Seth through each movement so as not to surprise the boy.
The gasp as he pressed a finger inside Seth made him still completely, afraid he was causing pain. After a few seconds Seth's low voice asked, "Why did you stop?" and Jasper pressed on, using all the techniques Alice had described until Seth's whimpers of discomfort had turned to moans of want. Jasper had done a little research independent of Alice and, with that in mind, twisted his fingers accordingly.
He was rewarded with a low, insistent growl and a full body shudder as Seth's fingertips cracked the boulder he'd gripped involuntarily.
"That would be your sweet spot," Jasper sighed against the mumbling boy, stroking a little more. Seth shuddered again. "I assume it feels as good as I've been told it does?" Seth said nothing but Jasper could feel the waves of pleasure ricocheting through the boy's nerves, rendering him almost mute with want.
Using his free hand, Jasper rolled on the condom and applied the lubricant, both to himself and a little more to Seth. He removed his fingers slowly then leaned in to lick a line of perspiration from Seth's neck.
"Are you sure?" He asked again, needing to know.
"Yes…please…" Seth's voice was breathless with need, his entire body in overdrive for the vampire behind him.
"This is going to hurt a little bit," Jasper spoke softly, lining himself up and caressing the moaning boy simultaneously, "but I'll take it slowly and I'll stop if it's too much."
Gently he pressed forward, feeling himself sink into the beautiful boy kneeling in front of him. He paused, waiting for the discomfort to lessen, reaching around to stroke Seth. This ministration seemed to help and soon he was fully inside, the pleasure of his hand on Seth diminishing, and eventually overshadowing, the pain.
Jasper stayed still as he stroked the boy, relishing the tight heat of being completely held by another's body. It was a delicate torture, the urge to remain deep inside Seth warring with the urge to move against him until they both lost themselves to pleasure.
Seth pressing back against him made the decision and carefully Jasper began to move, pulling away slowly and sliding back. Seth moaned in a way that made Jasper move unconsciously faster, hands on the boys shoulders, face pressed against the back of his neck as he whispered soft words into soft black hair.
They stayed like this a while, enjoying the intimacy of their bodies so long denied, and the incredible pleasure spilling from skin to skin. Jasper discovered that Seth's breathy moan was the favourite sound of his long life and he prolonged their joining simply to hear it slip from his sweet lips.
Soon, too soon, Jasper knew both he and the boy needed more so he gently shifted angle and pressed in again, shuddering in delight when Seth whined. Keeping as much body-against-body contact as he could, and making sure each stroke had him caressing Seth's sweet spot, Jasper again gripped Seth in his hand and doubled his pleasure. He couldn't go as hard with Seth as he could with, say, Alice but this enforced slower pace only made the whole experience that much more delicious.
When Seth was an incoherent, stammering mess beneath him, Jasper pressed his lips to his ear and asked, "Won't you come for me sweet boy?"
Seth's resulting orgasm shook his body so violently that Jasper felt his bones vibrate. There was a moment of worry that maybe Seth would fall across that delicate line between human and animal but then he collapsed against the boulder, trembling abated. Jasper gathered his spent body to him and continued to stroke into him, sharing his devotion through touch rather than words, which escaped him in the surging burst of his own release.
His own orgasm was the highest he had ever been, sending Jasper careening over the edge, panting and growling, in a rushing torrent of sensation that shut out everything except his own body and that of the sweet boy pressed beneath him.
Slowly he withdrew then used his shirt to make sure nothing venom-related would get on Seth. He could hear Seth's steady breathing and still-accelerated heart behind him as he busied himself gathering their scattered clothing, trying to control his sudden surge of anxiety. When he finally forced himself to turn, arms full of their abandoned belongings, Seth was sitting against the boulder watching him. His emotions offered nothing but tenderness. He opened his arms.
Jasper dropped the clothes instantly and went to him, allowing the boy to pull him down and, back to chest, envelop him in a hot embrace.
He and Seth spent as much time together as their lives would allow. Sometimes they would fight, sometimes they would talk, sometimes they would sit in peaceful silence but always they would end their meetings naked and joined in the most exquisite of ways.
Jasper was happy. It was an odd sensation for him, so used to his aloof demeanour, to find excitement fizzing in his stomach at nothing at all. His suddenly frequent smile had taken a while to get used to, for all the family.
The only dark spot in Jasper's new reality was the fact that the happier he was, the sadder and more withdrawn Alice became. Jasper did his best to assure her he still loved her and wanted to be with her – all true – but she would give him weak smiles and awkward embraces in return. He couldn't coax her into their bed no matter how he tried. She would shake her head and run into the forest, regardless of the time or the level of her thirst. It hurt Jasper's heart to see her so downtrodden.
It had been four days since he and Seth had met last. No phone call. No texts. No attempt to communicate at all. He'd asked Jacob, Quil and Embry for an explanation for the absence but none of the trio would meet his eye. He went to the treaty line and asked permission to cross but Sam refused and would not be swayed. Jasper was hurt, angry, terrified. He paced the empty border, staring in the direction of Seth's house as if his will alone would bring the boy to him.
Jasper whirled at the sound of the female wolf's voice, once again too lost to be paying attention to his surroundings. She was standing this time, half hidden in shadow. It took a long moment before her words registered.
Jasper was before her in an instant, face twisted in a terrifying scowl. She didn't flinch. In fact she barely reacted at all, other than raising her eyes to his.
"What?" He barked. Again, she failed to react to him other than staring him down. For a reason he didn't understand, Jasper found himself peeling off his t-shirt and handing it to the she-wolf, who wrinkled her nose delicately before taking it from him and pulling it on. They stood, toe-to-toe, until Jasper sank to the ground. The she-wolf imitated him, close enough that their knees brushed. Jasper registered momentary surprise at this, Leah had never willingly touched any of them to his knowledge, but it was quickly lost in the tumult of his mind.
"He imprinted?" Even to Jasper, his voice held a quality that made his insides cringe. An edge of pain that suggested it was a mere glimpse of the iceberg. The she-wolf's haunted eyes were sympathetic. She stood, waiting for Jasper to follow. When he did, she handed him back his t-shirt and phased. Dumbly, he followed the wolf's treads. They ran together until dawn broke and the she-wolf delivered him to his doorstep, glancing at him with frighteningly understanding eyes before disappearing into the trees.
It was another three days before Seth got in touch, asking to meet at their clearing. Jasper made his way there slowly, the dread that had been twisting his gut since the meeting with the she-wolf exploding in a full-blown panic attack. He'd taken down half the house before he could rein himself in.
Seth was already there, he could smell him. Where once that smell had him running, now his steps slowed to snail pace. Jasper took deep breaths, as if to anchor himself, before dropping his head and forging into the clearing.
Seth was as beautiful as ever, wind rippling his hair in a way that made Jasper's fingers ache to plunge into it. Seth raised his eyes to the vampire and it was clear from his face that he wasn't sleeping. Despite himself, Jasper was across the space immediately, hand gently cupping Seth's jaw.
"Are you okay?"
His words, laced with concern and the hint of pain, brought tears to Seth's eyes which he tried to scrub away with the back of his hand. Jasper removed his hands from the boy's skin slowly, unable to stand touching him knowing he belonged to another. Seth's hand shot out and grabbed Jasper's retreating one, clinging fiercely.
"I'm sorry," he sobbed, his face scrunched in sorrow, "I didn't mean…"
"Shhh," Jasper whispered consolingly and, ignoring his own broken heart, pulled the boy into his embrace. His own eyes stung at the familiar soak of heat so he closed them tightly and willed away the grief.
"I don't know what to do." Seth sobbed against Jasper's neck. "I've been trying to find a solution but I don't know…"
"Seth," Jasper stopped the words gently, trying to keep his agony at bay, "You know what to do."
The boy pulled back to look at Jasper from wide brown eyes, his face a mask of confusion.
"Seth, you imprinted." Jasper felt his dead heart fissure at the admission but viciously pushed it down. "There is no choice."
Seth pushed him away violently, causing Jasper to stumble slightly. He looked at the boy's furious face in complete shock. He was vibrating with rage.
"I've avoided her for a week, too guilty to give in to the pull, sure I deserved the pain of separation from her, trying to find the words to tell you and you tell me it's no big deal?" Seth was yelling, his chest heaving, inches from phasing. Jasper backed away slowly, knowing if the boy phased and attacked that he wouldn't lift a hand to defend himself.
"Don't," Seth pleaded suddenly, all the anger gone from his body, "Don't run from me."
Jasper stood still as Seth approached cautiously, until they were mere inches apart. The tears streaking his beautiful skin made Jasper ache to hold him, to wipe them away, to do something, anything to bring his smile back. Seth's fists were in his shirt.
"I want you," he choked, "but the guilt at being here with you instead of with her is killing me. Even touching you feels wrong now. How can that be?" Seth looked at him imploringly. "How can something that was so perfect last week feel so wrong now?"
Jasper tried to untangle himself, hurt by Seth's words, but the boy wouldn't let go, fingers digging into stone flesh, trying to pull him closer, trying to repair the bond that had been so completely overridden.
"You have to let me go." Jasper had to force his mouth to form the words. "Your imprint is your priority now. You can't fight it. I can feel it. It was meant to be."
Jasper could feel it, the heavy shackle of Seth's soul to another, and it caused a tenderness in his chest that frightened him. Again he tried to free himself of Seth's grip, suddenly desperate to put distance between himself and this sweet boy who was killing him. He finally managed to step away, leaving Seth with his fingers still outstretched.
"No Seth." Jasper turned from him so he didn't have to see the play of emotions across the boy's face. "You shouldn't be here. You know where you should be."
"Jasper," Seth began but Jasper held up a hand to silence him.
"Please," the vampire begged, his voice breaking. He heard Seth's sharp intake of breath, felt him step forward to offer comfort. "You know where you should be."
They stood, the perfect distance apart, for several minutes until Seth finally turned and left Jasper to his misery. He heard the anguished howl from deep in the forest and it only served to break his heart a little more.
Jasper raised his head at the sight of the she-wolf crossing the Cullen's back garden. He knew she never willingly crossed into their territory, much less approached their home. None of the vampires present said anything but all eyes were trained on her as she walked to Jasper and folded up neatly on the grass next to him.
They sat silently and Jasper, who had finally understood that her words of caution weren't issued because Seth was her brother, was absurdly grateful that she didn't point out that she had warned him. She simply sat close enough to touch and projected peace in his direction.
"We're leaving, Alice and I," Jasper spoke finally, "to see some of Europe." He could hear how brittle his voice sounded. The she-wolf turned haunted eyes to his and Jasper knew, without a doubt, that his own were now a mirror of hers.
"Jacob mentioned Seth wasn't dealing well with … things," he forced out in a rush, "He should be happy and he's not. My presence is making him unhappy. I want to give him some … space. Let him enjoy his imprint." Imprint still came out sounding like a curse word but there was nothing Jasper could do about that.
"It hurts," Jasper whispered after a few minutes, knowing finally that this person, this girl sitting next to him, would understand. The she-wolf simply reached out and took his cold hand in her warm one. Jasper clung to her gratefully.
"How did you cope when you and..."
Leah's stiffening muscles alerted Jasper to the fact that he should be quiet. He trailed off, simply holding Leah's hand until her body slowly relaxed again. He could feel some of her residual pain lacing her emotions.
"You could join us," Jasper offered.
The she-wolf simply smiled.
Thank you for reading, do feel free to leave me your thoughts *hint hint*