ENTRY IN THE VAMPSLASH CONTEST
Title: The Beachhead
Word Count: 7800
Summary:VAMP SLASH CONTEST: Sometimes we don't get to choose whom we love. The lack of choice means nothing to the heart. "The heart has its reasons that Reason knows not." AU Pre-Twilight M for Adult situations
Read the other entries on the VampSlash Contest
Provincetown stretches into the Atlantic Ocean like a raised fist clenched in defiance. During the summer it's a tourist mecca. The sound of dance music pours out of the doors of the saloons and clubs and onto Commercial Street like a wave of honey, luring the pedestrians inside. The young and gay flood the town like locusts, along with the families, artists and beach-goers. The transvestites, in their sequins and boas, garner the most attention from the startled parents shepherding their kids back to the motels for the night or the staunch Boston Brahmins who've visited the Cape for generations. They're not the only ones, however, to cause a raised eyebrow, or an inward gasp. When Emmett rumbles into Provincetown on a hot, sultry night in August, riding his motorcycle up Commercial Street, people stop to watch him pass.
The powerful engine of the Harley throbs between his legs as he slowly weaves his way among the crowds. The shop-lined, one-way main street in Provincetown is narrow and jammed with summer tourists out shopping or club-hopping before they make their way back to their rented cottages and hotel rooms. Tanned college girls, working as waitresses for the summer, sashay down the streets in trios and quartets, checking out the head shops and dress stores. Young men in short shorts and body-hugging polo shirts make way for the single line of cars that prowl like beetles up the one-way street. The ocean, which is just on the far side of the line of stores, can be glimpsed in the occasional break between storefronts.
Emmett comes to a stop at the intersection by the pier and puts a leg out to balance the bike as he waits. He has a skull-cap helmet and despite the fact it's night, wrap-around sunglasses. He's dressed in his usual attire that is almost a uniform for him in the summer, black mesh shirt, black leather pants, black jackboots. The wide handlebars of his bike spread his arms and delineate the muscles of his powerful chest. In a street full of unordinary people, he stands out without making a move or a sound. There's a darkness that follows him, and people unconsciously shy away from him even as they stare, fascinated.
The traffic cop waves him on, and with a full-throated growl from the bike, he begins his slow weaving along the narrow street, dodging the crowds again. He takes a right onto a lesser-used side street and parks behind a building.
The infamous Atlantic House rises before him. Among the oldest gay establishments in the country, the front door of the dance club is busy with patrons of all types chatting excitedly in pairs or groups. But it's the darker doorway to the left that is his target. There are no windows or signs, and it's well enough away from the front door entrance that it seems unconnected.
It, however, is also a bar. Emmett opens the door, and several dozen heads turn as he does. It's a small, dark narrow room; the long wooden bar runs the length of it, and a few small tables on the opposing wall hold a few patrons. They're all male, mostly young and muscular, and with the exception of the bartender, all dressed in leather. Emmett leans against the bar, unabashedly looking back at those who continued to eye him, until they break their gaze to look away. The thumping bass from the dance club next door seeps through the walls.
The bald, hulking bartender steps over to him, polishing a glass with a towel.
"Jasper?" Emmett asks quietly.
The bartender juts his chin toward the back wall where there's a door. "Upstairs."
Emmett walks down the narrow aisle towards the back, feeling the patrons' eyes on him. More than one customer sighs as he passes, and several even subtly offer chairs, but he stalks past them. The door opens to a narrow, curving staircase and he ascends. At the top of the landing is a door, and just as Emmett reaches it, it flies open.
The man at the door is tall and blond, lean and wiry. His hair is parted in the middle and frames a face full of strength, deeply-honed perception and stoic endurance. He wears jeans that are low and tight, flaring at the boots on his feet. His shirt is a simple button-down Oxford. For Emmett, the sight of Jasper is beyond beautiful; it finally satisfies a gnawing hunger that has been eating at his soul. They stare at each other for a moment, drinking in the sight. Unnoticeable to human eyes are the tiny lines and scars on Jasper's face that Emmett knows so well. His finger tingles with the need to trace them.
"You came," Jasper speaks softly.
"You called," Emmett replies simply. He would have come through fire for Jasper. If Jasper wants him there, then that's where he will be. It doesn't matter what the source of these feelings are, they are nonetheless real. Realer than anything that Emmett has ever felt, even in the midst of love with Rosalie.
Jasper takes a step forward and pulls Emmett to him by the back of the neck. Their lips crash together in a rough, desperate kiss. Emmett groans almost silently as Jasper tastes him; their bodies clicking together like magnets. The kiss is so deep, it's almost painful, pushing their lips against their teeth, before they open their mouths and let their teeth click together. Emmett's hands raises to Jasper's hips as they feel again the connection that ties them together; a connection born in loss and fed with pain but still so sharp and vibrant. Distance and time have done nothing but make it stronger.
Emmett feels he could stand there forever, kissing Jasper, exploring his mouth with his tongue and Jasper's body with his hands. It's as if Emmett can finally breathe, finally feel whole. Jasper is feeling the same; well-being radiates from him like warmth from a fireplace. Jasper shifts so their foreheads touch, and their red eyes peer into the other's. "My brother," he whispers, his hand still on Emmett's neck.
"Brother," Emmett repeats. Not brothers by the mother of their birth, or even by their making as vampires, but brothers in the way of a squad of firemen or an army platoon. Irrevocably tied together, bound by something even deeper than romantic love. Brothers who would lay down their life for each other, who have had each other's lives in their hands. Yet the patina of physical desire hovers over it, until love and lust are all mixed together, uniting them inextricably together. Emmett's skin burns where Jasper's hand touches him, setting off pulsing waves of desire that wash through him, making him thirsty with need.
Beneath the simmering urgency, Jasper feels Emmett's soul opening, like a flower blooming. Since the time of his making, Emmett has changed radically. The naive, joking Tennessee boy that Emmett had once been is tempered by pain and experience and has disappeared into the dark, pensive vampire he's become. Emmett now keeps his heart and emotions buried, but with Jasper, he can open up, and all the love, lust, and loyalty that the big man has hidden away comes rushing out like a tidal wave, crashing over Jasper until he gasps with the immensity of it. It settles in him like a salve on a burn, and unconsciously, he starts to radiate it back. Emmett begins to grin widely.
"Come in," Jasper says, shifting his arm around Emmett and bringing him through the door. The apartment is large and light, furnished in low, comfortable-looking furniture. There is an open sliding glass door that leads to a small balcony that overlooks several low buildings with the water in the distance. The night breeze, laden with the smell of the ocean, tickles the sheer curtains open. There is a large, abstract painting above the sofa, vibrant and pulsing with color. Jasper drops his arm and walks across the room to turn down the stereo that was playing Mahler.
"Is that yours?" Emmett asks, admiring the painting. Somehow, Jasper has imbued the painting with his gift; the colors vibrate with emotion. The reds nearly leap off the canvas with passion and lust, the cool blues provide a background of regret and melancholy. It's signed J. A. Brandon, the pseudonym that Jasper paints under, a tribute to the woman missing from his life. In the small gestures like these, he keeps the memories of her alive in his mind.
A dozen years ago, Jasper's last sight of Alice had been of Felix and Demetri, guards of the Volturi, pulling her away from the house. The Volturi leader, Aro, was known for collecting vampires with psychic gifts for his guard, and Alice's clairvoyance had been a plum too tempting to be denied. The Guard had laughed when he and Emmett had sprung to Alice's defense, to try to prevent the Italians from taking her. In a terrible retribution that had amused the Volturi to no end, Aro had directed Chelsea to break the bonds between Emmett and his mate, Rosalie, and Jasper and Alice.
Alice had been screaming his name as the darkness that was Alec's gift descended on them. It was a blanket of complete sensory deprivation, horrifying in its totality. In what was the most terrifying moment of Jasper's life, he could still feel Alice's despair and fear through the darkness as they carried her away. When Emmett and Jasper were released, all but three of the Volturi had gone. Chelsea, whose psychic gift was the ability to create or destroy relationships between people, stood over them, smirking with Alec and Jane. Then, using her gift, she bound Jasper and Emmett together as tightly as lovers, with the same physical desires and a need for each other so immediate and consuming, it left them raw.
"Yes," Jasper says, turning and meeting Emmett's gaze. "I did it just after your last visit." Two years ago, then. These occasional visits are all that Jasper has allowed himself. Even if the binding between them is as real and as fresh as that day twelve years ago when it began, the source of these feelings tears at Jasper, and he fights it daily, sometimes hourly. Emmett's surrender came much quicker; now he waits on Jasper's acceptance.
Emmett sits down on the low sofa, his long legs stretched out, his jack boots marking the floor. In the quiet sophistication of Jasper's apartment, his dark leather and air of unconscious menace stand out like a gun on a curio cabinet. "How have you been?" He feels like he already knows; it's the same way he's been. Lonely. Bored. Empty. Constantly yearning.
Jasper and Emmett had wakened from Alec's fog, and as they feverishly began plans for a rescue, they'd accidentally brushed hands. The shock of that touch had passed through them like a bolt of electricity. Even Carlisle and Esme, sitting nearby, had felt the charge in the air and had turned from the computer to see Jasper and Emmett staring at each other with coal black eyes.
"What?" Emmett murmured, confused. His emotions were roiling in him, demanding some kind of action, screaming at him to get closer to Jasper. He took a step closer to Jasper−to do what, he had no idea.
Jasper, more aware of the nuances of the emotion, realized what the feelings in Emmett were and what his own meant. The devotion and affection he felt for Emmett had been overlaid with a consuming physical attraction so fierce, it was like a sword in his side, leaving him breathless. But it was more than just physical desire; it was the most impassioned need for intimacy he'd ever felt in a long life full of emotion. "No," he'd said, shaking his head in denial and backing away, aware that these feelings−though undeniably real−were not naturally evolved. "No. No. Oh, God, no."
Jasper ignores the question. "I bought this place last year. The atmosphere here-very bohemian. Lots of artists. I'm selling canvas as fast as I can paint it."
"Your entryway is certainly staffed with an interesting crowd." Emmett stretches an arm out along the top of the sofa.
"Yes, I think you and Marlon have started a trend."
Jasper nods to a framed poster on a far wall. It's the iconic picture of Marlon Brando in the The Wild Ones, dressed in leather, leaning over a motorcycle and looking at the camera with a mix of toughness and vulnerability. "He seems to have copied your style."
Emmett snorts. "I'd like to think I carry the look off better."
Jasper gazes at him, his eyes hungrily searching him. "You do. Oh, you do."
Jasper's sly grin is all it takes for Emmett, and his compulsion punches through his reserve. Faster than the eye can track, he jumps to Jasper in the middle of the room, reaching for him. Their kiss is rough, passionate, needy with desire. Emmett sucks on Jasper's tongue greedily. He fights the sudden temptation to rip Jasper's clothes off, to kneel before him and take him into his mouth, to see Jasper throw his head back in abandon. It's too much to see Jasper, yet not be able to follow his inclinations, to act on the feelings he has. He steps back, trying to control his feelings, unsure of what Jasper will allow. Emmett will always be the impulsive one; Jasper has a discipline as strong and straight as his backbone.
Jasper had left the Cullen house immediately, leaving Emmett still confused and aching for something he didn't understand and couldn't name. A week later, Jasper was back after his first rescue attempt had failed. He'd asked Emmett to take a walk with him out in the woods where they would have some privacy.
Emmett felt like he'd become borderline psychotic. He was confused and anxious about these new feelings; the only thing he recognized in himself was the anger at Jasper for going on the rescue attempt alone, for leaving him behind.
"Do you realize how stupid that was?" he'd yelled at Jasper.
"I couldn't have you along. You would have distracted me," Jasper said evenly.
"Distracted you? Distracted you?" Emmett punched through a tree in his anger. "How about supported you? How about helped you? I'm not a toddler, goddamnit!"
Jasper took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Underneath Emmett's anger, there was a huge knot of bewilderment. Emmett still didn't understand. "We've been changed."
"Changed? Changed how?"
Jasper stepped up to him and brought his hand to cup Emmett's face. His fingers brushed the dark, curly hair that surrounded Emmett's head like a dark angel's halo. It was a gesture he'd been dreaming about for days. "Tell me what you feel," he said gently.
Emmett was drawn to Jasper's hand like a magnet. Involuntarily, he gasped when it touched his cheek. He stared at Jasper's lips, fascinated by their smoothness. Suddenly a feeling crystallized out of the huge morass of unnamed emotions he'd been carrying. He knew he wanted to kiss Jasper, wanted to wrap him in his arms, to stroke his hair, to feel his body moving in rhythm with his own. His hands began to itch with the need to feel Jasper underneath them.
Dislodging Jasper's hand, Emmett shook his head, trying to stop the thoughts. This was wrong. He couldn't feel this way, especially about a man. Yet, the profound feelings were there, making Jasper fascinating and thrilling in a way he'd never imagined before. Emmett took a step backward, trying to deny the tidal wave of eroticism Jasper's touch had unleashed. It was Rosalie he was supposed to love, to want. Rosalie.
Jasper leaped forward, grabbing Emmett's shirt with in his hands and jerking him closer so they were chest to chest. "Tell me what you feel!" he roared.
Surprising even himself, Emmett grabbed Jasper's face in both hands and kissed him full on the lips. He lingered for a moment as the two of them panted with astonishment at the strength of the conflicting emotions: the overwhelming passion, the demands and denial of that passion, bewilderment, and guilt. Between Jasper's own stifling longings and his awareness of Emmett's as well, the haze of the need to couple, to meld was intense. Yet the understanding of what it would do to them, to the whole Cullen family lay underneath it like a subterranean pool of darkness. There would be no way the family could ever recover from this startling shift in dynamics.
"It's the Volturi," Jasper whispered. "Somehow, they've…bound us."
Emmett slid down to one knee, his mind racing to encompass what had been done to them, folding in on himself in pain. Jasper, feeling blanched and dazed, twisted out of Emmett's hands.
"We can ignore this," Jasper promised. "We'll just…" He ran a hand through his hair. "We can ignore this," he repeated through gritted teeth before walking away, leaving Emmett kneeling on the forest floor.
"I don't think I can," Emmett whispered to the leaves beneath his feet.
All too aware of the struggle within Emmett, Jasper exhales slowly, trying to keep his resolve. A brief grimace of pain crosses his face before he's able to compose himself. "Thank you again for coming."
"Of course." Emmett watches Jasper cross to the window. "I'm assuming you didn't ask me to come just to discuss my wardrobe." There is a barely disguised note of bitterness in his tone.
"This has been hard on me, too, Em," Jasper says softly from the window, not looking at him.
Emmett swallows the thousand retorts and arguments that spring to mind. He returns to his seat on the sofa. "I…I know."
"Have you seen Carlisle or the others lately?" Jasper asks.
Emmett picks at a loose thread on the sofa. "No, it's been years now."
Jasper had left the Cullen house for good a year after the Volturi attack. It was too painful to stay where Alice's non-presence was so haunting, to struggle with the feelings he wouldn't act on, and to watch Emmett and Rosalie deal with him as the involuntary intruder. He'd tried again and again to find some way to reach Alice, to bring her out of the Volturi tower, but they'd always known he was coming, a fact he took heart in, because it meant she was still alive. He'd also guessed that it was only her influence that could explain why they had not come after him as well. Perhaps, it had been his gift was not as valuable as hers was. Or perhaps she'd made the trade-off of leniency for him for the use of her gifts. He'd try, alone or with others he'd recruited, to get into their castle, only to feel Alec's darkness descend and he'd wake up alone in Greenland or Brazil, once in Antarctica.
Emmett, too, had left the coven for good after Rosalie had departed. Even with Jasper gone, Rosalie could feel the strength of emotions Emmett held for him. He'd never been skilled at the subterfuge of emotion; he was too straightforward. He'd tried to protect her, but she knew; she could feel his preoccupation during their intimate moments. She'd become second in Emmett's heart, a number that she couldn't abide. Rosalie had never been anything but first, and she couldn't tolerate the demotion, even if it was involuntary on Emmett's part. She'd left one morning, slipping out the house like a shadow. In a strange way, Emmett had been relieved. His loyalty, the center of his personality, would never have allowed him to abandon her first. He'd left the Cullens soon after, setting out to find Jasper.
"I heard they'd moved back to Chicago," Jasper says. 'They' would be Carlisle, Esme and Edward, the original members of the family that Carlisle had tried to knit together, only to have it pulled apart by the Volturi.
Emmett feels his chest tighten with mixed emotions. "Has there been any word from Alice?"
"No. I, uh…" Jasper brushes the curtains back from the window. "No," he says softly.
Emmett releases his breath. He'd storm Volterra single-handedly for Jasper if he wanted, but at the same time he can't help but feel conflicted at the thought of Alice's return. Alice out of the Volturi hands, yes. Alice back with Jasper, he doesn't want to think about. "Why did you call me?"
Jasper turns to him. "Someone is hunting in this area."
Emmett thinks it over. "Someone you know?"
"No. I don't think so. They're here, on the Cape." The Cape, although it stretches over seventy miles, is narrow−a thin strip of land curling into the ocean. The bodies found floating face down in the surf are causing consternation. Much to the chagrin of the local Chamber of Commerce, who fear the tourists may be scared off, the newspapers are full of speculation of a possible serial killer.
Emmett leans forward. "What do you know?"
"I've felt the shadow of at least two of them. They've been here for at least a month. They're reckless and sloppy. Their kills have been found."
"Do you think it could be…?"
Jasper turns suddenly and paces across the room.. He can't help the pain that rolls off him. It makes Emmett curl over himself as well. "The Volturi? No."
"They could be watching," Emmett suggests.
"No." Jasper wraps his arms around himself. "No. I'd know."
Jasper knew the tenor of the Volturi emotional mindscapes well. For years he had stalked them, trying to get a glimpse of Alice; they had defeated him away again and again. He'd finally stopped eight years ago. When the flight that would be his last landed in Rome, a young human had met him at the airport and handed him a note in Alice's writing.
I beg you to stop your efforts. Please know that I work for our reunion but our time is not yet! It will come all the quicker if you can cease your attempts. They serve to irritate Aro, and I can not arrange his leniency much longer. Know this, however, our time will arrive, and I will signal you when it is nearing.
Please gain what comfort you can from Emmett. He needs you.
Until the time we can be re-united and all is set to rights, know this: You have been and always will be the Captain of my heart.
I love you,
Turning around and getting back on the plane was the hardest thing he'd ever done. It was only his complete trust in Alice that had allowed him to do so.
He turns back to Emmett. "So, will you stay?"
Emmett rises off the sofa. "Do you think that's wise?'
Jasper looks at him, and the attraction between them spirals madly, feeding off each other until the air is thick with tension and need. "I don't care," he admits softly, in a kind of surrender. It's the first time Jasper has dropped his self-imposed discipline. Something in Jasper has softened; Emmett can tell.
Emmett takes a step forward with expectation, but before he can react, Jasper has pinned him against the wall. Emmett almost laughs with delight as Jasper forces a knee between his thighs and rubs his hips back and forth across Emmett's. Jasper slowly runs his hands up Emmett's chest, stopping to grab at the collar of Emmett's shirt.
"How attached are you to this shirt?" Jasper asks breathlessly.
Grinning, Emmett replies, "Not very."
"Good," Jasper murmurs before ripping the shirt down the middle, exposing the powerful chest underneath. He runs his hands up and down Emmett's sides, reveling in the feeling of the hard muscle.
Emmett throws his head back; Jasper's hands on him feel like the best kind of fire. This is what he waits for, dreams about.
Jasper pulls Emmett forward a step and then jumps so he can wrap his legs around Emmett's waist. Emmett's hands catch his ass and starts to squeeze the cheeks gently, fingering the center seam of his jeans. "The bedroom?" Emmett asks.
"Mmm, yes," Jasper agrees, his head in the crook of Emmett's neck. "The bedroom."
Jasper had gotten off the Alitalia plane in New York, and Emmett was at the gate. It was the first time they'd seen each other since Jasper had left the Cullens for good. "How did you know I'd be here?" Jasper asked as they walked through the terminal.
"Carlisle knew where to reach me. Alice had called him."
Jasper nodded, his face bleak. "She told me to stop." He pulled Alice's note out of a breast pocket and handed to Emmett.
Emmett frowned as he read the note. "Oh, Jas, I'm sorry." He knew how much it must have cost Jasper to walk away, to bide his time. For Jasper to wait meant a measure of trust in Alice that Emmett envied.
"She's right, you know," Emmett said softy as they continued walking through the terminal.
Jasper stopped, watching Emmett's back as he took a few steps more.
Emmett stopped as well and turned back to Jasper. In the crowded terminal, a family chattering in Spanish passed between them. So softly it could only be heard by Jasper, he said, "I do need you."
That simple sentence reverberated in Jasper. He knew, in a way most men did not, that reason was a weak second to emotion, that the heart ruled over the mind.
Jasper put his head down and started walking again. They continued out of the terminal without further words. Emmett wished he had Jasper's gift to know what he was feeling or even Edward's to search his thoughts. Jasper had gotten very good at concealing his emotions, living in a house full of psychics. "My motorcycle's over here," Emmett said. "Where to?"
"I seriously need a shower," Jasper said. "I feel like I've spent days on planes."
"There's a Holiday Inn up the road," Emmett pointed out.
"Nah. Let's get into Manhattan," Jasper suggested.
Emmett hopped onto the bike and started it up. Jasper climbed behind him and settled onto the seat. It was the first time they'd touched since the kiss at the Cullens', almost four years ago. Emmett closed his eyes, unable to stop the rush of feeling at the pressure of Jasper's thighs and stomach against him. He tried to fight it, knowing that Jasper would know every nuance of what was passing through him.
They checked into the Ritz. Emmett waited in the well-appointed sitting room, slouched into the sofa, watching TV as Jasper finished his shower. Jasper came out of the bathroom, a towel slung low around his hips, rubbing at his hair with another one.
"So, what's up?" Emmett asked. "Shall we hunt?" Cities were a good place to hunt−so many homeless, addicts, and criminals that wouldn't be missed.
"No," Jasper said, throwing the towel over the back of a chair. "Let's stay in tonight."
"Um, okay," Emmett said cautiously. "What did you have in mind?" His words nearly caught in his throat. He knew what he had in mind, but Jasper had given him no indication he'd be willing to do something like that. It was awkward, to say the least; this was a man he'd thought of as a brother for so long, now all he could think about was having him as a lover. Seeing Jasper in only a towel was making his throat dry and his head spin. For this one tall, lean man only, he would trade all the buxom, luscious women of the world.
Jasper crossed the room toward him, his eyes never leaving Emmett's. "I think you know." Jasper realized he'd come to a crossroads. Perhaps if they allowed themselves this one interlude, they could expunge these feelings. Maybe by giving in, they could glide through them and come to a more rational understanding. Part of him whispered that this could just be a lie he told himself to give into this overwhelming compulsion. Perhaps he was just too weary of fighting against himself. He couldn't even think anymore. He put all thought behind him and let himself fall into the gravity well of Emmett's attraction. Emmett was so beautiful he realized, so easy to love.
Emmett rose off the sofa. His body felt like it was starting to tingle from head to toe. "I do?" he whispered as Jasper reached out and caressed his cheek.
Jasper's hand trailed across Emmett's lips, and he slowly pushed his thumb inside Emmett's mouth. Emmett sucked on it gently and they both gasped with a rush of feeling. Jasper stepped closer and brushed his lips along Emmett's forehead and down the side of his face. For all of Emmett's bulk, Jasper still had an inch or two on him.
Emmett's arms closed automatically around Jasper, and he gasped at the feeling of Jasper's skin under his hands, of Jasper's chest and hips against his. "I've never wanted anybody like this," he murmured into Jasper's hair. It was strange; Jasper was so different from the curves and softness of Rosalie, yet so absolutely thrilling.
Putting his hands on either side of Emmett's face, Jasper kissed him slowly. "Mmhmmm," Emmett moaned under it, his knees nearly collapsing. It was the moment he'd been dreading−for he knew there would be no turning back−and yet dreaming of.
Jasper pulled back. He could feel the compulsion of Emmett's need, and it was feeding his own, burying all the shame and guilt associated with it underneath a sense of inevitable rightness. His heart, in ascendency, claimed victory over the dying protestations of his head. He took a step backward and loosened the towel around his hips, letting it drop to the floor.
Emmett's eyes dropped, and he swallowed at the sight of Jasper's erection. "So, what do we…? I mean, how do we…?" His eyes rose to Jasper's face. "I've never…"
"Me neither," Jasper said, grasping Emmett's hand and leading him toward the bed. "But we'll figure it out."
The bedroom of Jasper's apartment has French doors which open to the balcony. In the moonlight, Jasper's naked back gleams. He is on his knees on his bed, and Emmett stands behind him. Emmett runs a finger down his lean, pale back, eliciting a low moan from Jasper. Narrow shoulders, impossibly long back muscles, tight hips rounded by muscular buttocks. There is a crescent scar on the back of Jasper's left shoulder, and Emmett leans over to kiss it. Of the many scars that mark Jasper's body, this is the one that Emmett loves best. There's a proprietary feeling he has about that particular scar, as if no one else could possibly know and appreciate it the way Emmett does.
There was a time, years ago, when Emmett would have said that the epitome of sexuality was expressed in full, heavy breasts and a delicate waist curving to wide, feminine hips. But now it's the sight of that lean back, Jasper's head down, his knees open to receive him that haunts Emmett's waking dreams.
Emmett leans over and wraps his arm around Jasper's waist to palm the pulsing cock below. He rests his head on Jasper's back, reveling in Jasper's masculine scent of musk, cinnamon and vanilla. "I love you," he whispers. "I don't care why or how. I only know that I do."
They hadn't left the hotel for days. Now that they were finally acting on the feelings they'd been denying, it had all come out in a glorious, passionate rush. They'd spent hours in bed exploring each other and the new ways they were learning to be together. They'd asked the concierge to send up KY Jelly, tipping the embarrassed, bewildered bellhop generously. They'd agreed it was among mankind's better inventions. They'd fucked on the bed, in the shower, on the dresser, on the carpet–any surface had been fair game.
The late afternoon sun streamed in through the hotel window, setting their bodies glittering and throwing miniature rainbow refractions around the walls and ceiling of the hotel room. The two of them were stretched out naked on the bed. Jasper was on top of Emmett, holding his hands above his head. Their hardened cocks rubbed against each other, trapped against their bellies.
"What is it you like best?" Emmett murmured into Jasper's ear before playfully licking it. Emmett couldn't ever remember feeling so happy, so fulfilled. Having Jasper in his arms made his heart feel like it was going to jump out of his chest for joy. He felt giddy and feverish, calm and deeply centered all at once.
"Anything you do," Jasper said, rubbing his jaw against Emmett's like a cat scratching itself against the corner of a wall. Jasper was soaking up Emmett's feelings, basking in their glow. But for Jasper, it was all the more poignant, because he knew that it could only last while they hid away from the world, their family and themselves. Jasper rolled over onto his back, and Emmett instantly wanted to pull him back. He looked over at Emmett and his face was sad, serious. "The way you feel about me−it's so fierce."
"I am fierce," Emmett said, mischief in his eyes. "Fierce and demanding." He rolled quickly so he was on top, pinning Jasper beneath him, making Jasper laugh as he growled into his neck. He stilled for a moment. "Do you feel the same way about me?" he asked without raising his head.
"Yes. Yes, I do," Jasper said, making Emmett raise his head and smile widely. God help me, I do, Jasper thought silently.
Their interlude had been brief before Jasper felt the battle begin again between the longings of his heart and the demands of his mind. Even if he felt bereft of the love he'd once carried for Alice, he kept probing for it, searching for the absent devotion. His heart may not have remembered, but his head knew and would not let him forget it. And his pride was too strong to let the Volturi have the last laugh.
Emmett sat on the bed, unhappily watching Jasper repack his few things into his bag. "Tell me again why I can't go with you."
Jasper shook his head. "I can't, Em. They've already got Alice. If we're together, it feels like they win."
"They, being the Volturi?"
Jasper nodded, zipping up the small duffel bag.
Emmett jumped off the bed, trying to hold in his anger. He crossed to the window. "And so that they don't win, we lose as well?" He'd tried to talk Jasper out of this reasoning, but it was a battle he couldn't win.
Jasper picked up his bag and headed for the door. "I'll call you when I can," he said and slipped out of the door. The taste of guilt and shame was like ashes in his mouth.
Later, Emmett stands naked, leaning a forearm against the doorjamb, watching the morning sun sparkle off the ocean. The beach is populated with tourists, and the breeze gently pulses the gauzy curtain Emmett stands behind. On the bed, Jasper rolls to his side to admire Emmett. Classically muscled, Emmett's powerful buttocks jut below the Herculean proportions of his back and shoulders. He's always been clean shaven; his smooth, rounded pecs lead to the slightest trail of hair below his navel before it ends in a nest of curly black hair that holds his long, uncircumcised cock.
"Penny for your thoughts," Jasper says, on his side with a sheet pulled to his waist.
Without turning, Emmet answers. "I can't help it, Jas. I try to fight these feelings and I can't. Knowing how they began doesn't help me at all."
Jasper shifts so he is sitting up.
Emmett sighs. "I fuck other people, but that's all it is−fucking. Even my tastes have changed. I look for a partner in a crowd and now all I want are tall, blond men." He snorts and turns to Jasper. "Me. The ultimate hetero. Now all I'm drawn to are pale shadows of you."
"I'd hoped that we could find some way to reverse it," Jasper says. "But…"
"Don't you see? I don't−" He stops abruptly. He turns back to the window. "I don't know that I want to."
"Em." Jasper's voice is low and full of pain. "We can't let those Italian bastards manipulate us like−"
"I know!" Emmett interrupts him. "I know. I know. The hatred I feel for them burns like acid." He moves to the stuffed chair opposite the bed and sits down heavily in it, stretching one long leg out. "But it doesn't feel like manipulation. When I'm with you, I feel…right. The world feels right. When I'm gone, you're all I can think about."
"What can we do? Should we just give in? Admit they can treat us like puppets?"
Emmett puts his hand over his eyes. "I feel like I'm at war with myself. I can't stand this." He jumps up and begins to pace the room. "I'm not a complicated man. I can't feel one thing and do another. It's making me crazy." He sits down on the edge of the bed near Jasper and stares at the floor. "These are the most profound feelings of my life. They may have started with a wave of the hand of the Volturi, but they've taken on a life of their own." He puts his hand on Jasper's face so they look into each other's eyes. "If they waved their hand and took it all back tomorrow, I'd still love you."
"Oh, Em," Jasper breathes. "Maybe you're right. Maybe these short visits aren't the best thing for us."
Absolutely stricken, Emmett raises his head to meet Jasper's eyes. "Would you have us just ignore what's between us? I can't." His shoulders slump forward in resignation. "I can't," he repeats. "And I'm tired of trying."
Jasper feels Emmett's pain like a knife to his own chest. He shifts to Emmett's side so he can put his long arms around Emmett's shoulders. "No, no. That's not how I meant it." He squeezes tighter, resting his head on Emmett's shoulder. "Believe me, the visits are just as hard for me."
Emmett wraps his arm around Jasper, unsure if it's true, but hoping it is. "Seeing you for a day or so every few years, it's not enough and yet it's too much. When I leave, it feels like I'm ripping myself into pieces. If you say go, I will." In a quieter voice he continues, "I just don't know if I can keep coming back."
Jasper pauses, recognizing the despair in Emmett's voice. "Come," he finally says, abandoning his sheet and climbing off the bed. "I want to show you something."
Intrigued, Emmett follows him into what would have been a spare bedroom. There, an easel is set up in the middle of the room and canvases of every size are stacked against the walls. These are portraits of himself, Emmett realizes. Portraits of him laughing, of his profile, of him bending over a car, of him lying down, of him looking at the viewer. There are dozens of them. He steps over to a full-length, life-sized portrait of himself standing, one hand on his hip, a half-smile on his face. It's incredibly detailed, yet there's still some indefinable quality that makes him look twice. "You've made me look better than I am."
Emmett studies it again. He certainly isn't an art connoisseur, but besides the obvious selection of subject, there's some other thread tying them all together. It's the same quality he'd noticed in the abstract in the living room−each portrait conveyed the artist's passion, affection and even love for the subject. It's more than an idealization of him; it's an adulation. Again, and again he sees it as he looks around the room at each different permutation of his face. Here is the tangible proof of the depth of Jasper's feelings for him. It leaves him humbled, touched to his very core. He turns to Jasper, speechless.
Jasper has his hands on his hips. "I spend days in here, remembering your every eyelash, every pore. You've become my muse, my obsession." He takes a ragged breath inward, his own feelings becoming overwhelmed by Emmett's. "For hours I work on the curve of your cheek, the shape of your eye."
"Jasper…" Emmett breathes, nearly trembling with emotion.
"My head tells me that I shouldn't submit to the Volturi tricks, but my heart says it doesn't matter where these feelings are from. They just…are." Jasper reaches out and touches a brush resting on the easel. "I guess we aren't always allowed to choose who we love."
Emmett nods slightly, watching Jasper. "The heart has its reasons that Reason knows not," he quotes.
"Reason," Jasper murmurs, his hand trailing across the line of paint tins on the easel. "All these canvasses." He gestures at the stacks of paintings scattered around the room. "They're just wishes that you were here. And now that you are, when I see you standing among them, the choice becomes clear. "
Jasper walks back to the bedroom with Emmett trailing behind him. He sits down on the bed, leaning back on his hands and stretching his long legs out in front of him.
Emmett feels he's never seen anything so beautiful; this is the kind of male beauty that belongs in a museum. He holds his breath, waiting for Jasper to speak, knowing that what happens next will define his life.
"So stay, Emmett," Jasper says soberly. "Stay with me. Please."
Emmett swallows. "Stay?"
"Stay. Be with me. Not just for visits but all the time." He leans forward. "Love is never guaranteed. If we were human, I could lose you to a car when you stepped out on the street tomorrow." Jasper smiles crookedly, making Emmett nearly speechless. "I'm going to stop demanding that life hands me a warranty for love."
Emmett crosses the room and sits down next to him on the bed. "And the Volturi? And Alice?"
"Alice has no doubt seen this. When she's ready to leave the Volturi, we'll have to figure something out." He shrugs, pausing to gather his thoughts. "As to the Volturi, I don't care anymore. Why should we torture ourselves to provide them some meaningless gesture of spite?"
Emmett reaches out and lays a hand on Jasper's back. "You're sure of this?" He almost can't believe it. He feels he's been bashing against fate for so long, to suddenly be offered a foothold for his heart is more than he had hoped for.
Jasper nods. "Yes. Yes, I am." He smiles and shrugs. "You know, maybe that's why I chose P-town to live in."
Emmett eyebrows draw together in confusion.
"We'll fit in here." He puts a hand on Emmett's knee. "I think I was trying to tell myself something."
"We could live among penguins, and I wouldn't care." Emmett's eyes are shining with emotion.
Jasper looks down at the hand he has on Emmett's knee."You know I've always loved you. Maybe more brotherly-like at first, but still."
Emmett moves his hands in circles on Jasper's back. "Oh, I don't know. I kind of like the way you love me now."
Jasper laughs as he turns to Emmett and pushes him backwards on the bed by his shoulders. He swings his leg over Emmett's, straddling his lap, as Emmett lies back on the bed. Emmett runs his hands up and down Jasper's long thighs on either side of him.
Sliding his hands along Emmett's chest, Jasper pulls Emmett's arms above his head as he lies back. It brings Jasper close to Emmett's face. "Me, too," he murmurs into Emmett's ear, before kissing him deeply. He draws back an inch. "Penguins, huh?"
The warm breeze pushes the sounds of ocean waves and children frolicking past the curtains. Emmett's laughter rings in the room. The waves on the beach below them reach for the high tide line before withdrawing to try again, continuous and never-ending.
A/N The quote of Emmett's (and also in summary) is that of Blaise Pascal.
My undying gratitiude to Rachel and Meredith for all their editing skills and hand-holding! If there are any errors, it's only because I made them later.