SLASH BACKSLASH 3.0 CONTEST

Title: First Taste of Forever

Author: bmango

Pairing: Vamp, Jasper/Edward

Rating: M

Disclaimer: Twilight characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.

Warnings: Slash, rimming.

Word Count: 8788

A/N: Big thanks to katinki for beta-ing this for me.

Please see all entries at http: / / www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/ community/ Slash_Backslash_3_0/ 74941/14/0/1/

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Jasper sits silently in the crook of a tree in the middle of a cornfield, the dry leaves yellowed in the sun. No sounds around him except the occasional bird song or scampering rodent. No humans to avoid. No emotions to absorb and ignore.

He must be somewhere near the middle of the country, he figures. North for sure. It was the one direction he knew was safe when he left Maria's army. North is where only the hermits and nomads lived, she used to mention with disgust in her voice. No armies, no territories.

He is alone.

Complete bliss as far as Jasper is concerned.

He contemplates the sky through the leaves overhead, but it is perhaps still another three or four hours until darkness. Then he can continue on. To where, he has no idea, but it will be north, always north.

When the sun finally sets, Jasper can just discern a faint glow along the northern horizon, some great city in the distance with gas lamps lighting the streets. Since leaving the army, he has been avoiding the larger cities, but he suddenly has a certain urge to see humanity, maybe even to regain some of his own. And honestly, he's very curious how much city life has changed in the last fifty-odd years, since the time when he was human and could stroll safely down a sidewalk in the daylight.

Jumping from the tree, he makes a beeline through the field and runs through the sparse forests between the wide croplands and pastures. Soon, the farmland gives way to small plots with manicured yards and gardens and large houses next to broad roads made of hard packed earth. He is approaching civilization.

Slowing his pace when he feels humanity creeping in, the chance increasing that he will be spotted, he follows one of the larger roads aimed at the heart of the city. Even at this time of night, traffic increases on the roads as he approaches, motorized cars dangerously zipping by. He can see in the distance the outline of large brick buildings, all many stories above ground level and some seemingly reaching for the stars. Much has changed since his last foray into a northern town.

Having been in his self-imposed isolation, Jasper is momentarily overwhelmed by the intensity of it all: the lights illuminating the streets, flashing signs displaying the next theater production or concert, laughing and singing around every corner. Soon, he is able to compartmentalize the external emotions that are pushing and shoving him from every direction.

He spends the first night walking through the city, absorbing the hustle and bustle, the vitality that he's missed living in the caves surrounded by the death and destruction that Maria favored. By sunrise, although his head is pounding with the onslaught of human emotions, his heart is a little lighter.

He can handle this.

~~00~~

Two nights later, Jasper is not as sure. After trying unsuccessfully to stave off his thirst with mind games and the new sights, he finally caves to his instincts. Weeks of attempting to avoid this inevitability has not strengthened his will either.

Recognizing that the lonely and destitute still frequent the dark alleys and wharves of the city, he finds himself among the homeless and dirty one night, his thirst burning in his throat. He can feel their despair, their hopelessness, and he revels in it, joining them in their misery.

He knows how quickly that changes. The first bite, the first pull, and the fight to live will surface, and Jasper will be forced to absorb those emotions too. His own calm projection will waver as the human tries to claw and scrape to survive.

He swallows the venom in his throat that collects with the memory, pooling with half thirst and half nausea.

He must survive as well.

Waiting until the night is its blackest, Jasper begins his hunt, both excited for and loathing what is to come. Behind an abandoned warehouse, he finally finds her. A slumped pile of skin and bones with the scent of sex and men on her. He can smell the disease in her body, used too often and not cared for enough. She lifts a hand toward him, hope not even flickering in her mind, just pain and more pain.

He sighs and takes her hand, easing her physical pain as much as he can as he kneels in front of her. If she notices his cold touch, she gives no indication, her wide eyes not even focusing on him but somewhere far from this grimy alley.

Jasper leans closer, her warmth and blood calling to him, promising his burning thirst a few moments of relief. She leans away, but offers no resistance, her head tipped back against the grimy building. The first bite is always the hardest, but she only whimpers low in her throat as his teeth pierce her skin and he begins to pull her life into his mouth, swallowing greedily. He can taste the sickness in her, the infection in her blood, and he knows she would be dead soon with or without his assistance.

She slips into unconsciousness much sooner than is typical, but Jasper continues to drink until her heart stutters to a standstill, unable to give any more. Standing quickly, he gently folds her lifeless arms across her chest, and then scoffs at himself, wondering what exactly he's trying to accomplish.

Feeling a different presence behind him, Jasper turns swiftly, finding another vampire standing several yards away, the faint moonlight illuminating his light hair. Instinctively crouching and readying himself for battle, Jasper feels out this stranger, getting mixed messages of fear, calm and a hint of repulsion. When the other vampire's attention is drawn to the dead human, Jasper takes the advantage, lunging into the darkness. The vampire tries to avoid the attack, but too much training and too much fighting has honed Jasper's instincts to a sharp edge.

Jasper will not lose.

As he pins the stranger to the wall of the alley, he realizes that the vampire has not fought back at all, but has let Jasper pull and push him. Every interaction Jasper has had with vampires in the past has always involved some kind of challenge, a fight for dominance. But not this one.

Jasper tries to figure out this new puzzle, why this stranger is so different. But then he notices another abnormality. Staring into the other's eyes, Jasper has to refrain from taking a step back in surprise. Instead of the red irises that vampires have, golden eyes look back at him serenely.

"I do not wish to fight you." The vampire's emotions reflect his words, only calm and peace emanating from him.

Jasper is still suspicious, years of always anticipating an attack difficult to overcome. "Why are you here then?"

"I sometimes come here to help."

"Help who?"

The vampire's eyes dart to the woman lying lifeless on the ground, and Jasper grasps the vampire's shoulders tightly to stop himself from recoiling in horror. "Help her? Help humans?"

The vampire nods, a brief wave of sadness and compassion suffusing the air.

"But why?" Jasper still doesn't understand this vampire's motives and until he does, he's not letting go.

"Because I'm a doctor." This time Jasper cannot hide his shock, and the other vampire finally smiles. "I think we started on the wrong foot. I am Carlisle."

Jasper can tell that Carlisle would like to raise his hand to shake Jasper's, but as he is still pinned to the wall, it is impossible. And unusual. Jasper hasn't shaken another man's hand since he was human and he is still trying to wrap his head around all the other oddities concerning this vampire named Carlisle. The emotions swirling around him are as foreign on his tongue as the vampire's actions, although Jasper understands that this vampire seemingly has no intention of fighting.

"You must forgive me if I am not so quick to trust." Jasper loosens his grip on Carlisle and takes a step back.

"Of course." Carlisle does not move from the wall, staying absolutely still and only watching with his pale gold eyes.

Jasper curiosity eventually gets the better of him. Never has he met a vampire such as this, strange in attitude, voice, and appearance. "Why are your eyes yellow?"

"I know you must have many questions of me and I admit, I'm curious about you, too. It has been many years since I have met another vampire." Carlisle slowly raises an inviting hand. "Would you like to join me in my house? You can stay there through the daylight hours."

Jasper's eyes close briefly in wonder. This vampire, a complete stranger, is inviting him into his house. He never would have thought a thing possible.

"Unless you have some where else to be," Carlisle says hesitantly.

"No, I'm actually new to these parts. I wouldn't want to impose though." Jasper is surprised how quickly his manners resurface when faced with such an odd situation.

"Nonsense." The strange vampire looks up to the sky and the disappearing stars. "Come. Dawn is approaching, and I do not live close."

Struggling against his screaming instincts, Jasper decides to trust his head instead and join Carlisle for the day. "I believe I will take you up on your offer, but only for today."

Carlisle only nods his head and smiles warmly before turning and walking down a narrow alley to the left. Jasper follows warily, not able to completely abandon his training, and continues to keep a close emotional awareness on his companion. As they walk, Carlisle maintains a casual, one-sided conversation about businesses or streets they pass, giving Jasper somewhat of a tour. Jasper absorbs all the fairly useless information and despite himself, finds he enjoys listening to the foreign lilt in Carlisle's voice.

Eventually they arrive at a very unassuming townhouse. Carlisle walks calmly up the short flight of stairs to the front door, turning the lock and opening the door before turning back to Jasper and smiling. "Welcome to my humble home."

Jasper enters the house slowly and wonders briefly at Carlisle's choice of words. Home. When was the last time he felt anything like home?

Following the other vampire into a sitting room of sorts, Jasper sits in the chair Carlisle gestures to and looks around the room. The walls are lined by shelves stuffed with books of all sizes, piles of magazines, and knickknacks seemingly from all over the world. In the small spaces left, there are elegant paintings and tapestries.

A small click precedes the warm glow of a lamp, and Jasper turns to his host, frankly feeling a little out of his element. It's been so long since he's seen so much benign normalcy, and never surrounding one of his own kind. What kind of vampire is this that has time to read and the stability to own a house?

"Do you play?" Carlisle indicates a chess board laid on the table between them.

Jasper nods. "But it's been a very long time."

"I wouldn't ask, but I haven't had a decent opponent in decades." Carlisle's golden eyes hold Jasper's gaze steadily. "And I have a feeling you will be a worthy adversary."

Jasper tries to hide his smile, but the feeling of happiness and warmth in the room is almost as overwhelming as the swirl of humanity outside its walls. "I will do my best."

"I am sure that you will."

Carlisle sets the board, and soon the two of them are embroiled in the game of strategy and wits. They play several games in complete silence, and Jasper doesn't even notice the passage of the sunlight across the room or the return of the darkness outside.

It's only as Carlisle feels a small touch of anxiety that Jasper becomes aware of his surroundings outside the game. He glances up at his host, and Carlisle's eyes regard him calmly, no hint of the nervousness Jasper just felt.

"Why are you nervous?"

"I have nothing to be nervous about," Carlisle says, but then Jasper feels the small twinge again.

"Yes, you do. I can feel it, just a hint of...well, no not nervousness, lighter, more like anxiety or worry."

"You can feel my emotions?"

Jasper debates for a moment how to answer but knows that Carlisle is only looking for confirmation. He nods.

"Well, then I will admit I am a little worried about what happens next. If you haven't noticed, it's once again night, and I was hoping that you would be willing to stay. The chess games have been a lovely distraction, but we haven't even begun to talk."

Jasper glances out the windows briefly, darkness and freedom calling to him. Then he looks back to Carlisle, this otherworldly vampire with his books and his discussions and his hospitality.

"Actually, Carlisle, I would very much like to spend more time with you."

"Excellent."

They spend the night talking of their changes, their pasts, what they can remember of their human lives, and what they have made of their current existences. Jasper is amazed at the lengths that Carlisle has gone to to preserve his humanity, to try and make up for a sin that has never existed. He also feels Carlisle's sympathy and wonder as Jasper talks about suffering and war he has been part of and how he is trying to live now.

And for the first time since his change, Jasper doesn't dread his immortality. In fact, even though he isn't quite happy, for once he is content.

~~00~~

The next night, Carlisle must return to the hospital, and Jasper spends the night reading. The books and current newspapers collected on the shelves appeal to his desire to learn more about the human world he has abandoned for so long. He learns there is another war, the Great War, calling to the young men of this generation. He doesn't understand why so many, thousands, would fight for other lands, die for other countries. He fought a battle for his home, for his way of life. These wars between kingdoms across the ocean have no meaning for him. He resolves to talk to Carlisle about this when he returns. Perhaps his European perspective will shed some light on this.

However, when Carlisle returns in the early morning hours, Jasper cannot believe the change in the vampire's demeanor. His normal golden eyes are black, his clothes smelling of blood and death, and Jasper can feel the pain radiating from him. Jasper rushes to his side and helps him into the sitting room.

"What is it, Carlisle? What has happened?"

"I've waited too long to hunt." He closes his eyes, each movement seemingly almost too much. "I need to..."

"How can I help?" Jasper kneels next to the older vampire, worry tinging his voice.

"Just get me out of the city," Carlisle says as a wave of fear cascades over Jasper. "Please."

Without another word, Jasper helps him to the door and guides the weakened vampire through the city, avoiding the highly populated areas. As soon as they enter the woods north of the city, Carlisle shakes him off, running into the early morning light. Jasper catches up to him just as he fells a large deer, immediately biting and taking long pulls from the beast's thick neck.

Jasper recoils instinctively, understanding Carlisle's perspective on killing humans, but unable to stomach the smell of the animal, let alone the taste. Trying not to show his disgust, he helps Carlisle dispose of the creature when it is drained.

"Care to tell me what that was about?"

"I have not hunted in several days, and I find that I must hunt more regularly when I work around humans and only drink from animals. Especially on a night such as tonight..." Carlisle's emotions are all over the place, fear, loathing, anger, and hope all bubbling to the surface in rapid succession.

"Tonight? What happened?"

"An accident, a horrible accident. There were so many arriving at the hospital dead or dying. So much blood."

Jasper shudders to think what he would have done in that situation. Most likely there would just be more death and dying.

"What did you do?"

"I saved as many as I could, but it was just too much."

"You can't save them all." Jasper projects a wave of calm over the other vampire, hoping to still the tangling mass of emotions.

"Thank you, Jasper. And I know, but I have to try."

Carlisle's emotions even out after he has fed, but as they run back toward the city, Jasper's thoughts and emotions are still a whirl. Does Carlisle expect him to adopt the same diet? Could he even do that?

As if he can read Jasper's mind, Carlisle says, "Jasper, this is my life decision. I will not forbid you to feed in your own way, but I do ask that you be discreet and, well, humane."

Jasper's first instinct is to recoil, to let Carlisle know that it will never work. But then, he finally acknowledges what he had been ignoring. The other vampire's emotions are calm and steady, only satiation and a certain satisfaction. There is no remorse now and, during Carlisle's kill, there was no terror or anger or anguish battling against him. If Jasper could actually hunt this way, he would finally be free of the added heavy burden of his victim's emotions.

He would simply be feeding for sustenance.

Determined, Jasper addresses the older vampire. "Next time you hunt, take me with you. I will try your way."

Although Carlisle's smile is small, the happiness radiating from him is anything but. And for the second time in as many days, Jasper almost feels the same.

~~00~~

Over the following months, they learn to live with each other in a comfortable companionship. They talk and play chess and read together, often discussing the ongoing war and politics as they have very different perspectives on these subjects. Autumn fades into winter and spring, and finally summer is upon them again. Jasper goes hunting with Carlisle more often than not and is amazed that he is comfortable with his new diet and his new eye color. In fact, it is the most comfortable he has been with his existence ever. No fear, no pain, no terror to absorb, no calm to project to quell his prey.

Just blood. Thick, gamey blood, but blood all the same.

As summer crests and the days become shorter, yet hotter and more stifling. Jasper notices a new tension in Carlisle. He works longer and longer hours at the hospital, sometimes not coming home for days at a time, but even in these brief interludes, he keeps his silence.

Finally, unable to take the quiet brooding any longer, knowing what the papers have been alluding to, Jasper confronts him. "Why don't you talk to me?"

"There's nothing you can do, Jasper." Carlisle responds, turning to his private study and closing the door.

"Remember you can't save them all," Jasper says to the wood, knowing perfectly well that Carlisle can still hear him.

"Just this one, Jasper. I only want to save one."

Jasper wonders at this quiet statement, but decides to leave it alone.

The next night, there is no more wonder. Carlisle has brought a human home with him. A dying human. A changing human.

"Carlisle, what have you done? We can't have a newborn here!" Jasper rages as he enters the room. Then all of his protests die on his lips.

His eyes fall on the human on the bed and he is certain that this is what it feels like when you die and go to heaven. In one moment, his whole life and purpose seem to finally have a focus, an overwhelming urge to protect and keep and love surging through his body.

"His mother asked. Edward's mother. I couldn't say no." Carlisle is as full of remorse as the beautiful young man lying on the bed is full of pain.

"No, you couldn't have."

Jasper is surprised by his reaction as is Carlisle, but he immediately sits on the bed next to the man, taking the human's burning hand in his own.

"It will all be okay," Jasper whispers, unsure who he is trying to reassure. Jasper projects calm and watches the young man's furrowed brow relax, his writhing legs still, and his breathing ease.

"Thank you, Jasper."

~~00~~

Three days pass and Jasper does not leave Edward's side. Carlisle is often there too, but his duties at the hospital are increasing as more of the doctors succumb to this Spanish flu, the one the papers are calling a pandemic. Jasper doesn't mind as he has this overwhelming need to be here. Here holding this man's hand right now.

Jasper first feels the changes in the human's emotions turning from an all-encompassing pain as he gains the ability to separate himself from it. Jasper then notices the differences in Edward's skin as it hardens and smooths, and hears the change in his heartbeat as the rhythm falters and skips. The time is coming near.

Jasper is at once exhilarated to finally look upon this magnificent creature and scared that his feelings, his passion, will not be returned.

Carlisle steps into the room, lays a hand on Jasper's shoulder, and echoes the assurance he gave a few short days ago. "It will all be okay."

But this time, Jasper is the one who needs convincing. "How can you be so sure?"

"It's the way it has always been," comes the soft reply.

Jasper allows himself to hope for a moment, but then Edward's body convulses. The man's chest arches off the bed as his heart races, and then he collapses back. All is still.

There is nothing. No breathing. No heartbeats.

Suddenly, there is a blur of motion as Edward springs from the bed and plasters himself against the back wall, his hands covering his ears as he wails in pain.

"Jasper! Do something!" Carlisle orders, while the older vampires stare helplessly at the newborn.

After sending a great wave of calm at Edward, Jasper takes a cautious step forward. He doesn't understand the pain still emanating from the newborn. That should have stopped when his heart did. Edward whimpers and collapses onto the floor, his arms hugging his knees to his chest.

"Shh, Edward. We're here to help you."

"Please make it stop."

Jasper has to hold himself back as he hears Edward's voice for the first time. All he wants to do is gather the vampire in his arms and protect him from everything.

"Make what stop, Edward?" Carlisle asks, coming to Jasper's side, concern lacing his voice.

"The voices. All the voices. They won't stop. I can't make them stop. Please...please...just stop." Edward's muttering continues, a rambling liturgy of begging the voices to be silent, voices that no one else can hear.

Jasper and Carlisle exchange a worried look, and Carlisle nods briefly, acknowledging what they are both thinking.

Edward is a mind-reader.

~~00~~

As quickly as they can, they pack everything that is necessary, and Carlisle sends letters to the right people to have the house looked after until they can sort this out. Jasper has been able to put Edward into a kind of stupor, allowing him to sit curled up on the couch, watching the bustle around him. By only focusing on the task they are doing, Carlisle and Jasper have been able to calm the environment around Edward substantially as well.

At last they are able to leave, a full 24 hours after Edward's change was complete.

Jasper cautiously approaches the cowering newborn, keeping his thoughts and himself calm, projecting it as much as he can. Reaching a tentative hand forward, his fingers smooth over the younger vampire's shoulder, which stiffens under his touch.

"It's time, Edward."

The other vampire only nods, and then lifts his head slowly. "I'm not sure I'll be able to run yet."

Jasper has expected this, knowing that the barrage of thoughts still keep Edward off balance and unable to concentrate even on the simplest tasks. Jasper has to quickly rein in his thoughts before they travel down paths that the newborn is not prepared to see yet. Thoughts that involve him taking care of Edward, carrying him to somewhere safe and secluded, isolated from all that may cause him suffering. "Would you like some assistance then? Just until we get out of the city."

Edward nods again, and Jasper steps closer, helping the newborn to his feet before wrapping an arm around his waist.

"I know with skin contact, you can make me feel calmer." Edward's burgundy eyes seem to burn into Jasper's, intensity and pain there. "Could you do that?"

"Yes." Jasper's fingers inch under Edward's shirt and his fingertips skim across the bottom of ribs, skin he has been aching to touch. Projecting as much serenity and peacefulness into Edward as he can, he watches as the other vampire visibly relaxes, slouching slightly against him.

Taking a deep breath, he makes sure he has a good hold of Edward before they start down the stairs. Carlisle meets them at the bottom of the steps, two small satchels in his hands.

"Everything alright?"

Edward nods lazily and the threesome exit the house, slipping quietly into the night, away from the city and into the wilds. As soon as the last remnants of human emotion are left behind, Jasper eases his grip on Edward, letting the vampire return to his full awareness.

They stay far from cities and towns that may tempt the newborn, making their trip longer but safer. Somehow Edward has adopted easily to his diet of wild animal blood, felling several deer and a bear on their short trip. Jasper wonders briefly if it is because he has never tasted a human, but stops short of remembering the delicate flavor, knowing that Edward will see, taste and hear it all.

All the pleasure of drinking the sweet nectar.

All the horror of feeling the pain as if it is his own.

They soon reach Carlisle's cabin in the northern woods of Minnesota, and Jasper remains behind as the other two vampires go off to hunt at once, wanting Edward to be as sated as possible. Jasper had planned on joining them, but felt Edward's tension spike when he had the thought. Changing his mind, he told them he preferred a few moments to himself, and they sped off into the waning night.

As dawn approaches, Jasper settles himself onto the porch swing, watching the sky lighten and listening to the waking birds. No outside emotions filter through him, and he takes these few free moments to try and rationalize what has happened to him.

The moment Jasper saw Edward, it was as if fate had somehow always had this in mind. Jasper knows what it means. He knows the name of what happened but he doesn't want to pressure Edward or make him uncomfortable. Jasper understands that men loving each other wouldn't have crossed his mind as a human, but after years as a vampire, he has come to accept that love doesn't always take gender into account.

Love is almost too simple of a word.

How can four letters encompass all the passion and need and anxiety and happiness and warmth that Jasper feels every time Edward's gaze meets his?

He must somehow ensure that Edward is his without scaring away the newborn too quickly. With Edward's talent and his recent change, he could be highly unpredictable or volatile, and Jasper doesn't want to push him too hard and risk losing him now. Or ever.

Leaning his head back, Jasper tries to relax his mind again, forcing all thoughts out of his head before Edward and Carlisle return. Moments before he hears their soft footfalls, he feels Carlisle's tension and pride and Edward's wariness and residual thirst.

Jasper wants to run out and greet them, but keeps his actions calm, restrained. Standing slowly, he steps off the porch just as the other two vampires emerge from the forest. The soft early morning light filters through the leaves and casts glittering droplets of sun across Edward's skin. The beauty of him almost takes Jasper's breath away, and he has to concentrate to keep his thoughts clean.

"All is well?" Jasper asks cautiously, still curious about Carlisle's mixed emotions.

"Yes, everything went well."

"After you tackled me and prevented me from draining those trappers, you mean," Edward interjects, his misery and remorse bubbling to the surface.

"But you didn't kill them." Carlisle keeps his tone reassuring and light, but Edward still cringes.

Jasper recognizes the battle within Edward - the war between human morals and vampire instincts. Every newborn struggles with it even more as the instincts and thirst are exponentially stronger.

Jasper walks up to the pair, stopping directly in front of Edward and placing his hands on Edward's shoulders. "Listen to me. I have a lot of experience with newborns, and the urges you are feeling are just part of being a vampire. You did nothing wrong. You are feeling nothing wrong."

Edward nods slowly, but his emotions do not correspond; uncertainty and sadness still dominate.

"I could help you, you know," Jasper continues, wanting to help Edward any way he can. "I can go hunting with you next time."

Edward stiffens visibly, his emotions suddenly, strangely blank. "No, I think Carlisle can handle it just fine." He then turns, walking into the cabin without another word and shutting the door firmly behind him.

"What's going on?" Jasper asks, turning to Carlisle.

"I have my guesses, but right now I think we just give him some time."

Time, if nothing else, is something vampires have plenty of.

But weeks pass with Edward and Carlisle hunting together while Jasper hunts alone. And alone has never been so lonely before. They do keep busy though. They teach Edward chess. They follow the local newspapers when they can; news about the war and the flu is easiest to find. And when the shipment of books arrive, they read. They talk about almost everything.

They avoid the fact that Edward refuses to be alone with Jasper.

Until one day, Edward asks Carlisle to go hunting, and Carlisle looks up from his reading, a large tome of current medicinal practices and shakes his head.

"Carlisle! You know I need to hunt, and I'm still not sure I can be trusted out there on my own."

"I know you do and I know you can't. Take Jasper."

This gets Jasper's attention immediately, and he suddenly feels Edward's gaze turn on him. "You know why I can't do that, Carlisle."

"And I think you're being ridiculous. Take Jasper. You both could do with a long run."

Edward looks at Jasper cautiously, but Jasper says nothing, only offering a small smile which is not returned. He can feel Edward's emotions changing quicker than lightning, happy, angry, defiant, misery, restraint, and finally, resignation.

"Alright. Let's go."

Jasper tries to rein in his obvious happiness but he's certain he doesn't entirely succeed. As they leave the house, Edward turns east toward their normal hunting grounds, filled with herds of deer and elk.

"I think we should go north tonight," Jasper says, hoping that Edward agrees. While running somewhere in Canada one night, he had found this amazing lake, crystal clear with no one around, only forests and rivers and rocks. And bobcats.

And if it's one thing that Jasper has learned with this diet he tries to adhere to, it's that predators are infinitely better than their herbivorous counterparts.

Edward shrugs and waves a hand vaguely in Jasper's direction. "Lead the way then."

Without warning, Jasper starts running, the trees a blur by the time he hits the forest. Edward's frustration hits him quickly, but he just smiles as he hears the other vampire following him. Jasper continues his relentless pace, but Edward quickly catches up, pulling even with Jasper in a few short minutes. Jasper spares glances at the other vampire, noticing his quick gracefulness, his elegance as he weaves between the trees with little effort. Edward gives no sign that he notices, and Jasper can't tear his eyes away from the rhythmic bunching of Edward's muscles.

Watching Edward run is quickly becoming one of Jasper's favorite things.

When they hit the Canadian border, Jasper veers slightly west, heading toward the rock outcroppings ringing the serene and untouched lake. He decreases his pace as they near, not wanting to disturb the peace in the air that he knows awaits them there. Edward follows his lead, reducing his speed until they both emerge from the forest at a walk, slowly approaching the waters edge with the pale moon hanging above the pristine waters.

"Where are we?" Edward asks, his eyes moving quickly as if to memorize the place.

"Just some place I found. It seems peaceful here." Jasper leaps onto the rocks next to them, climbing the tall tumble of boulders. Edward follows with more caution, but soon joins him at the top.

A breeze sighs past them, bringing the scent of their prey.

Edward's head whips around in the direction of the wind, his nostrils flaring and his pupils dilating. "What is that?"

"That is what you will drink tonight." Jasper reaches for Edward's hand, but Edward yanks it away. "Sorry, I wasn't thinking." Jasper jumps off the boulder, landing heavily on the ground below and trying to keep his calm. "Coming?"

Edward gives a short growl and then follows Jasper's example. Then they are both racing toward the delectable scent, Edward's breaths coming in choppy pants as he follows the animal's trail. Jasper hears the bobcat ahead, it's deep growls mingling with Edward's, and slows to allow Edward the kill.

The newborn speeds ahead, bursting into a small clearing and taking down the cat in a flail of limbs and tail and claws. The cat shreds his clothing as Edward sinks his teeth into the flesh of its neck, his eyes closing as the first rush of blood enters his mouth.

Jasper is almost floored by the ecstasy that Edward is feeling, the relief and pleasure. For a moment, he fantasizes that Edward's emotions are for entirely different reasons, that he is part of them somehow. With that single stray thought, he feels Edward close himself off again, and he curses his stupidity.

Edward finishes the bobcat quickly, heaving the carcass off of himself and standing awkwardly, eying the remnants of his clothes.

"Well, that's the consequence of choosing prey that fights back, I suppose," Jasper says, trying very hard to not notice the cut of Edward's chest or the shape of his thighs.

"Thank you," Edward says in a small voice, turning his back on Jasper.

Jasper's frustration takes hold of him for a moment and he throws caution to the wind. Patience be damned. "Why do act like this toward me? What have I done?"

Edward visibly tenses but does not turn, and when he speaks it is to the forest and not at Jasper. "Your thoughts are wholly inappropriate. You cannot think the things you think."

"And what is it that I think that is so wrong? I never think anything around you."

"No, you don't any more. But you did."

"When?" But even as the question leaves his lips, he knows. There were those first few moments when they didn't know of Edward's gift.

"Yes, your thoughts and feelings were clear to me then, but also before."

"During your change? You could feel me?" Jasper's anxiety grows, he knows the moment he saw Edward his thoughts had changed, but he hadn't known he had a need to mask them.

"Honestly, I didn't know it was you, but I knew someone was caring for me. And this someone..." Edward stops, taking a deep breath and dragging his hand down his face.

"This someone what, Edward?" Jasper takes a single step forward, knowing that this revelation is everything, either good or bad, this is it.

"Loved me." Edward's shoulders sag as if he just gained the weight of the world, and how Jasper wants to lift that burden if only the vampire would let him.

"Why is that such a horrible thing?" Jasper whispers, so close now he could touch Edward with the slightest movement. "Why is it so bad to be loved?"

"Love itself isn't bad." Edward turns now, facing Jasper, fear and desperation clear in his eyes and voice. "But you are a man."

Jasper cringes as he remembers what he thought as a human, what had been drilled into him by his father, his preacher, everyone. But he has since learned that these beliefs, even if they applied to humans, which he highly doubts, they definitely do not apply to vampires.

"I'm not supposed to feel what I feel," Edward continues, his hands clenched at his sides.

"It's not wrong Edward. It's how it's meant to be. For us, and probably for humans too, although they're too stubborn to realize it. Love chooses us, and for vampires it means something even more."

Jasper raises his hand slowly, bringing his fingers to gently trace along Edward's jaw. The other vampire does not move, his eyes searching Jasper's for something. Jasper desperately hopes he finds it.

Jasper clears his thoughts, focusing entirely on his emotions, knowing they will be pure and unmistakable. Love, desire and need course through him, finally unleashed from their prison, and the strength almost brings him to his knees. And then he realizes why.

Because the emotions aren't only his own.

"Jasper, I don't know if-"

"I do," Jasper says with conviction, grabbing Edward's jaw tightly and pulling his entire body close before pressing his lips against the other vampire's.

At first, Edward seems frozen against him, but then he begins to relax. And then respond.

The smooth slide of lips against lips, a lick, a nip, a sharp inhale and mouths connecting closer, wetter, more. Jasper groans as Edward's fingers fist in his hair, pulling and tugging, and another arm wraps around his waist, bringing their bodies completely flush.

Edward breaks away from the kiss, suddenly backing away, shame warring with lust. "No, Jasper. This is wrong, so so wrong."

"Nothing this wrong would feel this right." Jasper steps forward, wrapping his arms around Edward's waist. "We are mates, Edward. I've known it from the moment I saw you. Nothing will ever be as good for you as I am."

Edward relaxes, his hands tentative against Jasper's back as his forehead falls to Jasper's shoulder. "But is Carlisle alright with this?"

"He is. Although he wouldn't have a say in this." Jasper tips Edward's chin up, ensuring that he has the vampire's full attention. "I am yours. Always."

Edward's eyes widen, the depth of what Jasper is saying finally hitting him. "Mine?"

Jasper nods, projecting his love. "Always."

"I can feel that." Edward touches the spot above his heart with his hand and then places his other palm on Jasper's chest.

Jasper holds his breath, barely willing to hope, but thinking he may have a chance to change his mate's mind.

Mate.

And as that one word flashes unbidden through Jasper's thoughts, everything seems to shift.

Edward's hesitance completely disappears and is replaced completely by desire and lust. Jasper has a split second to register the difference before he is slammed against a tree, the splintering wood protesting as Edward tackles him.

Wasting no time, Edward pulls and tugs and tears, until all of their clothes are in a heap of torn material at their feet.

Edward devours Jasper with his eyes. "You are so beautiful."

Jasper wants to react, to respond, but he is breathless and overwhelmed by the emotions washing over him. Edward pins Jasper's hands to the tree with his newborn strength, moving his teeth and lips over every inch of Jasper's exposed skin, seemingly mapping every curve and dip with his mouth.

Jasper is left panting and wanting, wanting to touch and wanting to kiss. His emotions and thoughts are a maelstrom of need and desire. Images of what he wants to be doing now or next time or any time filter through Jasper's mind, each picture more delicious and intimate than the next. He breaks free of the hold on his hands, pulling Edward's mouth into a desperate kiss, tongues sliding and slipping together as they feed off each other's lust.

Jasper's fingers lace through Edward's hair, pressing their mouths together almost painfully. Edward responds by lining his body up along Jasper's and grinding their hips together, each finding pleasure in the friction. Jasper gasps, releasing the kiss and allows his head to fall back against the bark of the tree. Licking a long stripe up Jasper's neck, Edward nibbles on his ear, his jaw, the junction of his neck and shoulder.

Jasper can't stop his hands from exploring all of Edward, his shoulders, his ribs, his hips, his back. Skin on skin doesn't even seem close enough and the burn of desire is becoming too much to hold back.

"Please, Edward." Even Jasper can hear the begging in his voice.

Edward pauses only a moment before shifting their positions, turning Jasper to face the tree and dropping to his knees behind him. Jasper braces himself quickly but is unprepared for the sensations that assault him as Edward lips and mouth continue their torture of his skin. Every touch becoming firmer, more possessive, more insistent. Edward's normal control is slipping inch by inch, and Jasper is loving every minute of it. Edward's fingers and mouth find Jasper's ass, and he is suddenly tentative again, his mind racing ahead of his feelings, and Jasper feels the leash tightening once more.

"No, Edward, let go. Feel."

Jasper gasps as Edward does as he requests. The flood gates open just as his tongue and mouth lick and kiss down Jasper's crack, at his entrance, pushing and sucking and tasting while his emotions run wild and rampant. Jasper almost laughs as this exact situation had been in his mind moments ago, but then all thoughts leave him as Edward does something wicked with his tongue.

Jasper bucks back against his mouth, needing to be closer, needing to feel everything, inside. He cries out when Edward slips a finger alongside his tongue, the venom lubricating the smooth strokes as the newborn continues his assault with his mouth. With one hand, Edward reaches down and begins sliding his hand up and down his own shaft. Jasper moans and shifts, trying to get a better view as Edward presses another finger inside and quickens his pace with both of his hands. Jasper knows this will be over quicker than he'd like, but there is no stopping their race to the finish now. As Edward's orgasm approaches, the raw lust coming from him, the unimpeded newborn emotion, pulses into Jasper, pushing him even close to the edge.

Jasper feels his impending release and, determined to have his mate there with him, begins sending his desire and heat back to Edward, creating an overwhelming tidal wave of emotion that swirls around them both as they cry out. Jasper's cock pulses without even being touched as Edward cries in pleasure behind him.

Jasper slowly descends from his high, his hands slipping from the tree trunk as Edward pulls him into his lap. Edward's hands rove smoothly over Jasper's skin, his lips gently kiss his temple, but he can still feel Edward's emotions, not dampened - if anything, stronger.

"How did you stay away from me so long? Doesn't it feel like this to you?"

Jasper almost chuckles, remembering the amount of restraint he had to maintain in the past few weeks. "Yes, but I'm not a newborn. Everything you feel is always stronger, more intense, and you have less ability to control it."

Edward puts a hand on Jasper's cheek, looking longingly into his mate's eyes. "I don't know if I can stop."

Jasper smirks. "I wouldn't want you to if you could."

Edward smiles and pulls Jasper into a heated kiss. The blond wraps his arms around Edward and then shifts, straddling his lap as they continue to explore each other's mouths. Jasper uses one hand to grab the back of Edward's neck, holding him in the kiss, and with the other he traces the long line of his body, feeling every rib before finally resting on the contour of his hip.

"I want you inside me," Jasper whispers against the other vampire's lips.

Edward whimpers and pulls Jasper closer, flexing his hips and rubbing their erections together in the tight space between their bellies. Edward's emotions are still too intense, still ruling all of his thoughts, and Jasper knows he'll have to guide his mate this time. Lifting onto his knees slightly, he wraps his fingers around Edward's cock, watching the vampire's eyes close and feeling the shocks of pleasure course through both their bodies.

"It's going to be over before we start." Edward mumbles, his eyes still shut.

"We're vampires, Edward. The word 'stamina' doesn't even apply here." He strokes Edward a couple more times and then lines him up before gently lowering himself onto Edward's length, sliding easily with the venom from Edward's previous exploration.

As soon as the backs of his thighs hit Edward's legs, Jasper can feel the tenuous control that the newborn had crumble, his emotions running high and rampant. Desire burns through them both as Edward grabs Jasper's hips, slamming up into him, thrusting with every bit of strength he has. Jasper digs his fingers into Edward's shoulders, steadying himself and encouraging his lover.

"You can't break me, Edward. Give me everything."

Edward's relentless pounding quickly brings them to the edge but then it continues to build beyond anything Jasper has ever felt. Both of them are growling and biting and grasping as the pleasure just increases. With all of their normal defenses swept out of the way, their emotions mix together - lust, desire, need, want... love.

Jasper growls when he feels the warmth of Edward's love surround him. Pulling his mate into a forceful kiss, teeth colliding and tongues pushing, nothing sweet but full of everything they can't put into words right now. Edward reaches between them, his long fingers encircling Jasper's cock, matching the rhythm he has set with his hips.

With one last roar, Edward pulses inside Jasper and sinks his teeth into the blond's shoulder, his animalistic urges overriding all other emotions. It's the last little push that Jasper needs and immediately he is clenching around Edward's length, his release spilling over Edward's hand. After a few moments, Edward gently lifts Jasper, rearranging them so the blond is sitting across his mate's lap as he leans against the base of the tree.

Jasper lays his head on Edward's shoulder, taking deep breaths and trying to calm himself, feeling the arms around him squeeze even harder.

"Jasper, please don't."

Jasper looks up surprised, seeing a tinge of sorrow in his lover's eyes. "Don't what?"

"Don't hide your emotions from me any longer. I can already feel you pulling back again."

Reaching up to trace Edward's jaw, Jasper kisses him sweetly. "I'll try, but it's been so long since I have allowed myself to feel."

"So many scars," Edward mumbles, placing a slow kiss on Jasper's shoulder where the fresh bite mark still burns slightly.

Jasper shifts uncomfortably, at once unsure of Edward's reaction and ashamed of his previous life. He moves to stand, but Edward stops him.

"No, don't be like that. These made you who you are, inside and out." He places a gentle hand on Jasper's chest. "And you are beautiful."

Jasper can feel Edward's emotions and knows there is no lie there. But it's almost too much, more than he ever thought his life could be. He knew his mate when he first saw him, knew they should be together, but never dreamed of this kind of acceptance, comfort, and love. After so long with nothing positive in his life, of doing so many horrible things, the simple touch of his lover, his mate, is almost more than he can handle.

"I love you," Edward whispers before placing a kiss over Jasper's heart, and the sincerity melts the last vestiges of Jasper's hesitance, all of his misgivings falling away. All that matters is Edward and their future together.

"And I love you." Forever.

With a smile that is pure joy, Edward pulls him impossibly closer and echoes Jasper's thought. "Forever."