Written as a contribution to the Japan Tsunami Relief efforts. See www(dot)fandomfightstsunami(dot)blogspot(dot)com for more information.
A/N Stephenie Meyer owns The Twilight Saga, its characters and everything else. I merely own the laptop on which I wrote this. Thanks to Beate73 and Zigster for betaing.
More often than not, he was sullen. It was such a shame because I know his smile would stop everyone dead in their tracks. He sat hunched at whatever table he occupied, hiding his face in a book or furiously rubbing the back of his neck as if it ached considerably.
I was quite fascinated with his neck.
Edward Masen came to Forks from Chicago after his father died. He and his mother were down and out and he was usually made fun of because of his social stature. They lived in an old, run-down house that his mother couldn't afford to fix up on a waitress' salary, and the meager paycheck Edward earned at Newton's Olympic Outfitters did very little to supplement.
Kids threw bits of paper at him when the teachers weren't looking and they picked on him relentlessly. My family told me not to intervene, not to draw attention to us. I had only very recently been able to control myself around him and that took a considerable amount of work, but I just couldn't sit back and watch this wretchedness continue.
I found him one day in a stairwell silently crying. When I made my presence known, he immediately stood up, scrubbed his face and asked, "What?"
"You look like you could use a friend."
He chuckled, shaking his head.
"And let me guess. You want to be my friend?"
"If you'd like."
I breathed in deeply, unnecessary, but I needed his scent in my lungs.
"You're Jasper Hale, right?" he asked.
"I am. And you're Edward Masen." It wasn't a question. I'd tasted his name on my tongue on many an occasion.
"So, are you only gonna be my friend in private where nobody has to know?" he asked with a sarcastic smirk.
"I'll be your friend however you want me to be."
Giving me a visual once-over, he asked, "Why?"
"Let's just say that I know what it's like to be different."
I was his friend in public as well as private but private was infinitely better. I didn't have to share him with everyone else. In public, others got to look at him, experience his essence, regardless of how they subtly or not-so-subtly raged against it. In private, he was mine. And that was just how I wanted it.
I learned that he played piano, quite beautifully, I might add. His melodies were haunting, his fingers deft as the mournful tunes filled my ears. I'd sometimes hum along, joining in his sorrow, and I'd sit beside him brushing my thumb against the artery in his neck. What would be a loving gesture under normal circumstances was an altogether different one for me. That wasn't to say that I didn't mean it as a loving gesture, it was just that fascination with his neck.
I belonged to the race of vampires. The thing of legend, the subject of horror films, the redheaded stepchild of the devil. I didn't believe we were damned, but far be it from others to have a similar faith.
My family satisfied our need for blood from animals—we abstained from drinking human blood. That was something I had only recently learned to do, which was why I struggled to be by Edward's side. His blood in particular called out to me. It sang to me, screamed my name and begged me to take it, to drink, fill my gullet, and be sated.
But it wasn't just Edward's blood that called to me.
I was helplessly, irrevocably in love with him.
I wanted to tell him as much as I continued to stroke the beautiful artery in his neck.
Instead, I just sighed his name.
His fingers slipped on the keys of the piano, creating a disjointed jangle of notes as he closed his eyes, leaning into the barely there touch of my finger. I replaced my finger with my mouth, brushing my lips across the sensitive skin there as he hitched in a breath. When his fingers slipped into my hair, I turned his head to properly kiss him, earning another hitched breath.
It was glorious.
His lips, a divine satin; plump and moist felt so unbelievably perfect against my own. His sweet, innocent whimper filled my mouth and I struggled with the desire to pull back and thank the deity that saw fit to bless me with such perfection. My tongue found his, tasted his mouth and explored his teeth. The taste of my friend, my love…there was no comparison.
When he finally pulled back, he nuzzled his face in my neck as his arms wound around my shoulders.
The next day at school I took his hand at every opportunity. If people picked on Edward before, they were relentless then. I answered every bigoted word slung our way with a kiss to Edward's hand, letting him know that I didn't care what they thought was wrong. To me, nothing was more right.
Edward sat a little straighter in his chair.
That weekend, Edward was fired from Newton's. Mike Newton's father couldn't cite homosexuality as his reason for letting him go. He instead reminded Edward that Washington was an "at will" state, which meant that businesses basically didn't need a reason to fire someone, nor did they need to give any kind of notice before doing so.
I might have slashed Mr. Newton's tires during sixth period in retribution.
Someone only laid a cruel hand on Edward once, that I knew of. There was a standoff with James during his gym class, the jerk claiming he didn't want a fairy on his team for a game of basketball. I heard the shouts all the way from downstairs, and I nearly gave away my family's secret with the speed at which I darted out of the classroom. When I spotted them, I saw red. James had his hand around Edward's neck, holding him against the wall, the gym teacher, futilely trying to pry them apart as my Edward choked. I wrapped my arm around James' neck from behind and yanked him off my friend. He choked in surprise, grappling at my arm as I swung him this way and that, growling threats, and swearing that I would end his life if he so much as harmed a hair on my boy's beautiful head. He finally relented and I dropped him in a heap on the gym floor before going over to check on Edward.
He struggled to catch his breath, his hands gently clasping his throat.
"Edward, are you okay?"
"I am now," he wheezed, smiling.
I didn't care who was watching, I kissed his forehead and pulled him to his feet.
The school called Edward's mother. She was frantic, of course, but was furious when she found out what started the fight.
"You're gay?" she asked as I felt Edward's hand tighten around my own.
"With him?" she asked, pointing at me, but refusing to look in my direction.
"Jasper's my best friend, Mom, and we're in love."
"In love? Do you realize what you're saying? You're in love with a boy? This business will not go on under my roof. You two are not going to continue to see each other if you want to live here."
"With all due respect, ma'am, he's welcome to live with me if you don't support our relationship."
Edward moved in that day.
And my family was furious.
It would only be a matter of time before he discovered our secret, and of course that came a lot sooner than planned when he expressed confusion over the lack of beds in the house.
"Where do you sleep?"
"Edward, look at me."
"We all are."
"What are you?" he asked, reaching out to touch my cheek. "You're always so cold, and you're paler than everybody else. The way you moved today in the gym, it wasn't right. What are you?"
He reached out to push my lip up and examine my teeth. I couldn't help but chuckle.
"You don't have fangs, so you're not a vampire."
He was getting nervous and started picking at a hangnail.
"Edward, you need to stop that."
"Stop what?" he asked, continuing to pick at it, not realizing that releasing the tiniest drop of blood would heighten my senses and that the amount of control I'd worked so hard to cultivate would have all been for naught.
I reached out to grab his hand, but it was too late. I smelled it as I brought his forefinger up to my mouth. My whole body shivered as it delighted in the smell of the crimson fluid. The look on his face was sheer confusion when I reached out my tongue to touch his finger right by the nail that he mangled, and I moaned at the taste of the tiny bit of blood on my tongue.
Before I could even think, my entire family was in the bedroom. I growled as I turned to look at them, and I heard Edward's worried voice say my name.
Turning back to look at him, my voice was dangerously low. "You were wrong, Edward. I may not have fangs, but I am a vampire."
To my surprise, he didn't pull his hand from me, instead he pulled me in his arms, hugging me tight.
"You're different, but I wouldn't change a thing about you," he whispered, and I hesitantly hugged him back. I held my breath, trying desperately not to breathe the scent of his blood into my lungs.
My family was worried about him sharing our secret with others, but Edward had no interest in doing so. The only thing that had been different between the two of us was Edward's living arrangements, and how he avoided picking at his hangnails, much to my delight on both accounts.
I loved watching him sleep as I had him wrapped in my arms, and I couldn't help but think about how wonderful it would be for him to be like me. Would he want that? Would he want to be with me forever? Could I handle him not wanting that? Could I spend an eternity without him?
The night of his eighteenth birthday, I decided to approach him, but he beat me to the punch.
"What's it like?" he asked.
"Turning into a vampire."
"It's scary and painful. There's this indescribable burn as your body changes over the course of several days. No matter what you do, you can't stop the pain. It's all-encompassing and you wholeheartedly believe it will never end.
"Wow," he said. "That's pretty vicious."
"But the end result? You live forever," I replied with a halfhearted chuckle.
"If you choose."
"Would you want me to be like you? Or stay human? Would you leave if I didn't want to change?"
"Most vampires aren't granted the choice of turning, but if you have one, which you do, I will not sway you one way or the other. And I absolutely would not leave if you chose to remain human. I love you."
"I'd certainly be content to live a long and happy life with you," he said with a sweet smile.
"If that's what you want, that's what I want."
The next morning, Alice came skipping through the front door singing.
I, of course, was suspicious.
"So, have you decided when?" she asked.
"Decided what?" we answered in unison.
"When you want to turn him, of course!"
We both looked at her wide-eyed.
"Oh, stop. One of you has already decided it because I can see Edward as one of us. You'll look positively stunning, Edward!" She grabbed both of his hands and started jumping up and down. "So, when? Who's gonna do it? You want me to do it? I can stop myself. Or Carlisle—he's had experience, he can do it."
"Edward?" I asked, turning to look at him.
"I have already decided. I want to be like you, Jasper."
I looked back and forth between Edward and Alice, not believing the words I'd heard but I was so giddy all the same.
"You sure you want this, Edward?"
"After graduation? So he doesn't have to worry about controlling himself at school?" Alice suggested.
"That sounds fine," Edward agreed, nodding his head.
I did my best to prepare him, to let him know how it was going to feel right after he turned, what he would need, how we would hunt. I couldn't wait to take him for his first hunting trip, to lead him through the woods and take down elk, mountain lions, maybe even bears. As a newborn, he would be incredibly strong, and if I had a heart, it would swell with pride to watch my boy hunt.
More than anything, I know his head would be held that much higher. It was certainly difficult for him to do it at graduation.
His mother never showed up.
"I know I should be grateful for the blessings I have, Jasper, but I just don't know how many more kicks in the back I can take."
I pulled him in my arms, right in the middle of the crowd milling around us, right in the midst of vulgar slurs and I kissed his head. "I don't know if it's any consolation to you, Edward, but I'm never going to do that to you. I'll never treat you that way, I'll never leave, I'll always be there." Kissing his lips, I added, "I'll always love you."
Back at home, in lieu of a graduation party, we prepared for a different kind of celebration, the beginning of Edward's new life with us. We had all hunted that morning, wary of the possibility that any of Edward's blood would be spilled, lest we be tempted to do more than just change the boy. We added extra blankets and pillows on the bed in our room, trying to make the atmosphere as absolutely comfortable as possible for Edward while he went through the change.
Edward was nervous, and I maintained a firm grip on his hand, repeatedly peppering his hair and face with kisses, and hugging him tight.
It was then that I became nervous. What if his feelings changed as well as his body? I wasn't always attracted to men. It was decades after my change that my preferences swayed. What if the same thing happened to him? What if he didn't want me anymore?
I suddenly didn't want to do this.
"Jasper, what's wrong?" he asked.
"I'm afraid everything is going to change."
Carlisle, our father-figure put a hand on my shoulder. "Not everything will change, Jasper."
I still wasn't convinced, but I couldn't talk Edward out of it. This was something he wanted and I had to hope that it would all work out for the best and I nodded to Carlisle who was deemed the one who would give Edward his fatal bite.
When he bared his teeth, I grabbed his shoulder.
Everyone fixed an exasperated gaze on me, including Edward.
"Let it be me. I want to be the one to change him."
"You sure you can handle that?" Carlisle asked.
By the look on Edward's face, he was already on board.
"I'm sure. I want to do it."
Carlisle stepped aside and I grabbed Edward, sealing his mouth with mine and kissing him desperately. I poured all the love I felt for him in that kiss, touching his neck with gentle fingertips as I tried to assure him that I didn't want to hurt him. When I pulled back, he looked at me with those sweet innocent eyes, green eyes that would turn the color of blood when he changed.
"This is forever, Edward. We can be together forever." I wanted that thought to stay with him during his change.
"I love you." I wanted that even more.
"I love you, too, Jasper."
I leaned forward and bit down on his neck, my teeth plunging into his artery, tasting the blood that called to me, the blood that finally flooded my mouth and I suddenly wanted to drink. As I drew from his neck, I was only vaguely aware of my family pulling me off my love, growling and kicking as Edward collapsed onto the bed.
And then I heard it.
Screaming…a pained wail that shattered what was left of my heart.
Carlisle rushed to Edward's side, bandaging the wound on his neck as his body arched off the bed in agony. I immediately rushed to the bed, pulled my boy into my arms and rocked him, fruitlessly trying to comfort him, knowing it wouldn't do any good, but I did it anyway.
"Edward, oh Edward, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I never wanted you to hurt. I just wanted to make it better, oh God how I wanted to make it better. I'm so sorry." I sobbed into his shirt as he continued to scream, my words falling on deaf ears as I stroked his hair and held him close, trying to absorb the pain I knew he was experiencing.
Throughout the course of his change, Carlisle periodically checked on him. Edward's voice had since grown hoarse, his screams nearly silent, but the jerks of his body let me knew that he still felt the torture my venom delivered, and I hated myself for it.
I was selfish. I wanted to have him forever, and now he was paying the price. I never wanted to cause him any pain—he had already endured enough. Friendship should have been enough. If I didn't express my love for him, he may not ever have gotten into a fight with James, his mother wouldn't have found out about his preference for boys, and he wouldn't have moved into my house, thus discovering my family's secret. He would have had no need to become one of us and he would be pain free. Lonely, possibly, but pain free.
Wasn't that really just a different kind of pain, though? To have no one share their love with you, to tell you that they ached for only you, and wanted to share forever with you?
On the third day, his skin was frigid, his body still with his eyes closed. I was terrified to wake him up, not sure how I would react to seeing a feral Edward. I knew he would have to hunt immediately, and I was still scared of how he would feel about me.
Even though I expected it, I was still shocked to see Edward's crimson eyes when they opened.
"Jasper," he sighed.
It was an unusually sunny day and the light poured through the window, casting an incandescent glow across his body, tiny points of brilliance reflecting off his granite skin. He looked at it with wonder.
"Is that supposed to happen?" he asked.
"Yes, Edward," I replied with a smile.
Just then, my family burst in through the door, anxious to see Edward in his new state, everyone asking at once how he felt.
"I feel fantastic!"
His hands touched all over his body as he laughed gleefully. I was surprised he wasn't like most newborns: wild and bloodthirsty, ready to leap at the first pulsing artery they could latch their teeth on to.
He was merely curious, and deliriously happy.
"You must be thirsty, Edward. Come on, let's hunt," I urged.
He shook his head.
Turning to my family, he politely asked for privacy, which we were quickly granted.
When the door shut, I looked at my love, the beautiful smile on his face, his vibrant red eyes, his messy auburn hair.
"Alice was right—you're stunning."
"Thank you," he said, laughing before he pulled me down onto the bed, lying on his side to face me.
"I just wanna stay here like this for a while. Can we do that?"
"Of course, but don't you feel the need to hunt?"
"Not really. I just need one thing."
He briefly kissed my lips.