Title: What Hurts the Most
Author: Layne Faire
Pairing: Jasper/ Edward
Rating, Disclaimer, and appropriate Warnings: rated M for M/M loving

Word Count: 3009

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

Much love to butterflybetty and nails233 for holding my hand.

I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house
That don't bother me
I can take a few tears now and then and just let them out
I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while
Even though going on with you gone still upsets me
There are days every now and again I pretend I'm ok
But that's not what gets me

Rain streams down the windows, a misty haze rising off the hot pavement, filling the air with the summer scent of wet concrete. Sitting on the window seat, I watch the rivulets move down the panes, racing to an unknown end, searching for a new path to continue their arduous descent. Heaving a sigh, I lean my forehead against the cool glass, the reflection of the tears rolling down my cheeks lost in the endless dark that settles over the late summer evening. It's been six months since you left, six months of sheer fucking hell. I thought I would have run out of tears by now, but the simplest things still bring on a fresh onslaught.

A part of me always worried you wouldn't stay, no matter how much I loved you, how much I gave of myself. So, I locked it away, a secret that I take out and examine daily, wondering what if. What if I'd told you the truth? What if I'd have fought harder, loved more? Would any of it had made a difference? Would you have gone anyway? I'd fooled myself into believing that if I didn't lay it all out, I'd preserve a piece of my heart. Instead, I've been left with endless questions and futile musings.

What hurts the most
Is being so close
And having so much to say
And watching you walk away

Only at night, when I can turn my back on the rest of the world, am I able to allow the grief free rein. By day, I put on a mask, a wry smile, pretending that I've moved on, that I've let you go. I answer their questions, accept their platitudes, while the knifing, red hot pain tears through my chest. No one ever looks past the fa├žade. If they did, they could see the pain in my eyes, pain so deep I'm sure it's burnt onto my soul.

I sat in the living room for hours after the door closed behind you that last night, the stars retreating with the moon, a bright sun rising to mock the blackness that filled my world. You were my sun, the light to my existence. The tears didn't come right away. I waited, certain you'd turn around and come back. But as the next day progressed, the shadows creeping across the floor, the harsh realization of your absence washed over me. The rush of pain had me gasping, my hand pressing against my chest, where it felt like it had been ripped open, my heart following you, leaving a gaping wound nothing could fill. The dust motes, swirling in the last rays of daylight, blurred before my eyes when the tears finally came. I curled into a ball on the floor, sobs racking my body. Then I saw it, its presence compounding my grief. The piano I'd given you.

In a rage, with a roar of anguish, impotent tears still tracking through the grime on my face, I exploded. I swept my hand across its polished surface, sheet music flying through the room, fluttering to the floor, discarded like I'd discarded everything important. The bench crashed against the wall, one elegantly carved leg still in my hand. I swung with relentless destruction, until, with my hands bloodied by the wires I'd yanked from inside, splinters from the shattered wood imbedded in my fingers, I collapsed in the devastation I'd wrought.

After hours of ignored phone calls, my friends found me in the disaster zone that had become my life. They'd tended to my bruised and battered hands, cleaned up the destruction, forced me to eat, tried to make me go to sleep. Even after all these months, sleep rarely comes to me. Instead, I wander aimlessly through a web of tangled memories and loss.

Swallowing against the ever-present lump in my throat, I turn away from the window. Across the room, my guitar sits on its stand, the dust on its body an accusation of its neglect. The empty space next to it a testament to the uncontrollable madness that consumed the first few days you were gone. I haven't been near the corner since the night you left. My music walked out the door right behind you. I guess it's impossible to find inspiration in a pit of emptiness.

Looking away from the silent censure, I stand and walk to the bedroom, our bedroom. Stepping into the closet, my hand drags across the few articles of clothing you left behind. They mingle in with mine, blending in a way we'd never managed to blend the rest of our lives. Your scent still permeates the confined space; if I close my eyes, it's as if you were standing right next to me. My heart clenches, the pain enveloping me once again.

It's hard to deal with the pain of losing you everywhere I go
But I'm doin' It
It's hard to force that smile when I see our old friends and I'm alone

Closing the door behind me, I wandered back into our desolate room. Here, unlike the rest of the house, where I'd tried to erase you from my life, I keep constant reminders of what we'd been. Pictures dot every surface, along with little trinkets that mean nothing to anyone, save you and I. The little jar of brightly colored beach glass, the varying shades of green so similar to the eyes in the picture that stood next to it. Ticket stubs from concerts we attended together, sitting on the grass, our hands entwined, your body leaning into mine. The battered piece of driftwood you found, the day you offered me everything.

"Jas! Look at this!" Your voice flowed over the ocean waves, carried on the sea breeze that moved the tall grasses on the dunes behind where I sat. Plopping down next to me on the blanket you'd stretched out on the sand, you laid the sun-bleached, pocked, natural sculpture in my hand. "Isn't it perfect? It reminds me of you."

I'd laughed at you at the time, not understanding then how much you knew the real me.

"How is it like me? It's just a piece of wood that's been beaten up by Mother Nature," I scoffed, turning it over in my hands, drawn to admire its intricate, accidental symmetry.

You settled your head in my lap, looking up at me with those perceptive eyes that saw so much more than I'd ever wanted you to. "Just like you, it's been to hell and back, and come out more beautiful because of it." Your hand touched my cheek, those long slender fingers moving to curl around my neck drawing my lips down to yours.

That day had been the beginning of the end. Shaking my head, I try to push the memory of that day away, but its persistence can't be denied. Falling to the floor, I clutch the wood to my chest, letting the memory engulf me, running through my mind in a loop. Our own tragedy, created by my hands, my words, my arrogance.

Holding you on the beach that day, I gave in to an urgency I'd never felt before. Our kisses moved quickly from tentative to seeking, my tongue delving deep into your mouth, stroking across your tongue, my fingers tangled in the messy bronzed strands of your hair. Pushing my hips against you, I poured every bit of emotion I'd ever felt into that kiss, trying to show you what I couldn't say. You reciprocated, your fingers digging into my hips, pulling me closer, my body aching for more. Our chests heaved, struggling for air when I released your mouth, your lips swollen from the force of my mouth on yours. You stroked a hand down my cheek, smoothing out the lines that a dissolute life had etched around my eyes, before tracing your thumb across my bottom lip.

Pulling it into my mouth, I nipped the calloused pad, before swirling my tongue around it. I watched your eyes darken, your nostrils flaring, your mouth falling open with a whispered moan. I'd forgotten the world around us, unaware of the dark rolling clouds moving across the sun, the rising wind blowing the sand in whirling tornadoes, the churning waves crashing against the shore. A large drop of rain hit my neck, the sudden cold shocking after the warmth of the afternoon sun, forcing us into the shelter of the hotel. Laughing, you'd pulled me with you, stumbling into the elevator, where you shoved me against the wall the minute the doors shut. I closed my eyes against the intimate reflection revealed to me in the polished metal, my body trembling with want.

Your hand trembled while you fumbled to run the key card through the reader on the door. I placed mine over top of it, guiding yours. The lock clicked, and I pushed the handle, letting it swing open in front of us. You took my hand, tugging me into the dimly lit hotel room, the late afternoon sun obscured by the heavy-laden storm clouds. The door slammed shut behind us, closing out the rest of the world. The beach gear slipped out of my hand, falling unnoticed to the floor, all my attention focuse on memorizing the intricate planes of your face. With nerves I'd never felt before, my fingers trembled when I touched you. Sliding one hand up your chest, I curled my fingers into your hair, pulling you closer to me. Overwhelmed by the raw emotion revealed in the depths of your green eyes, I closed mine against it. Your lips were soft under mine, yielding easily to my tongue when I pushed for more. It was my biggest flaw; I always pushed for more, taking everything yet giving nothing real in return. Your hands gripped my hips, your fingers digging into the skin at the top of my ass.

Walking you toward the bed, my lips never left yours, alternating between teasing caresses and deep, questing probes, my tongue stroking against yours. I wrapped my arms around you, gathering you tighter against me, while you pulled my hips hard against yours, aligning our bodies from chest to hip. No matter how hard I tried, though, it seemed I couldn't get close enough.

With ragged breaths, I released your mouth, tasting the skin of your jaw, before moving to your neck. You tilted your head back, allowing me better access. Running my tongue across your Adam's apple, my teeth nipped at the exposed skin. My hands ghosted across your back, causing you to shiver, before sliding across the broad expanse of your chest. Feeling your nipples pebble underneath them, I dipped my head to claim one, my teeth gently savaging the little bud. Moaning, your fingers slid under my waistband, stroking across the prominent bones of my hips, teasing through the cluster of curls below my navel.

Moving my hands lower, I tugged on the string of your swim trunks, the loosened fabric dipping lower on your narrow hip, while my mouth covered your other nipple. Easing my hand under the damp fabric, I stroked my fingers across the silken skin of your shaft to find the beads of moisture that had gathered on the hooded tip. Pushing your shorts down, I dropped my eyes to watch your erection spring free. Dropping to my knees, my tongue blazed a trail down the path of bronze curls on your abdomen. Your muscles quivered underneath, a muffled gasp falling from your lips when I reached the base of your shaft. Wrapping my hand around you, I lifted the turgid flesh to stroke my tongue up the thick vein running underneath. Giving my attention to the sac underneath, I massaged my tongue across it, sucking each globe into my mouth, before releasing them to the teasing ministrations of my hand. My lips wrapped around your hard cock, hollowing my cheeks while I accepted your length into my mouth, the tip hitting the back of my throat. Easing back, I flattened my tongue across the slit, lapping at the precum accumulating there. Your fingers tangled in my hair, your hips bucking against my face, while I bobbed up and down, swallowing when you entered my throat. Feeling you tighten underneath me, I let you fall from my mouth with a pop, ignoring the needy moan that escaped you.

Placing my hand on your chest, you sighed in understanding, falling to the bed and pulling yourself to the pillows piled across the top. Crawling over your body, I reached for the lube on the night table. You spread your legs, your hand stroking my arm while I applied a liberal coating across your tight hole. Easing a finger inside, I worked in and out, adding a second one when you thrust against me. Scissoring my fingers, I prepared you, before rolling a condom down my own throbbing erection. Aligning myself with your opening, I inched forward, breaching the tight band of muscles, my hips shaking as I tried not to thrust before you were ready. Holding my breath, I rocked back and forth, penetrating further on each forward movement until my balls rested against your hot flesh. Then, taking you in my hands, I stroked in unison to my thrusts, gasps and moans filling the air, my name falling from your lips when you begged for more. Lifting your legs, you wrapped them around me, pulling me deeper, until you came in hot spurts, the thick streams bathing my hand while I continued to pump you. Snapping my hips once, twice, three more times, I lunged forward, collapsing against you while I filled the condom with my own orgasm. Holding me close, your fingers traced the line of my spine, the words I feared most falling from your lips.

"I love you."

And never knowing
What could have been
And not seeing that loving you
Is what I was trying to do

I know it's my fault. You asked me for more, more than I'd ever given anyone else. I tried, in my way, to show you what I'd hidden deep inside myself. I'd given you everything you could have ever needed, everything except the one thing you wanted most of all. No matter how I tried, until you were gone, I couldn't say the words you needed to hear. I can say them now. Now that it's too late, now that you're too far away for them to make a difference.

I'd expected yelling. It was par for course in my life when the end eventually came. My lovers were only willing to put up with so much until they broke; exploding in angry tears and raised voices. Not you, though. You never raised your voice, even though the twitching muscle in your jaw gave away how hard you struggled to keep control. Your words still eat at me, the reality check that arrived too late for me to salvage what we had.

"I can't do this anymore. I can't fight the ghosts from your past and you don't want to. I'm not going to live my life waiting for things to change, waiting for you to see that this is what's real, what's true. Maybe someday you'll realize that who you are is not defined by what you have or what you can do for people. I just wish I could be here to see it."

You were done. You packed a suitcase, while I stood there in silence, still unable to say the one thing you needed to hear. You'd let me take from you until you couldn't stand it anymore. But, after months of pleading for more, months where I couldn't give what you needed, you'd finally had enough. I couldn't blame you. I never blamed any of them when they left. This time had been different, though. I'd wanted to be different. And yet, as you walked toward the door, pausing, giving me one last chance to convince you to stay, I said nothing. Never looking back, you quietly pulled the door shut behind you. The click of the latch settling into place echoed around the room; a room as silent as a tomb. Fitting, really, since the life I chose to live was just as hollow and lifeless.

Still Harder
Getting up, getting dressed, livin' with this regret
But I know if I could do it over
I would trade give away all the words that I saved in my heart
That I left unspoken

I knew it now, now that it was too late to change things. You are my life, the only one I've ever loved. Aimlessly, I wander through the aching solitude of the home we once shared, the echoes of your laughter in every room, the ghost of your presence haunting every corner. Collapsing onto the sofa, I wrap my arms around my chest, trying to hold myself together, to make it through one more day. Squeezing my eyes shut, I fight back more tears, worn out from the torrents I've already cried. Ignoring the sound of the door, certain another friend has shown up to beg me to eat, to force me out of my pain, I retreat into my mind to happier memories, your touch on my skin so real, your voice so clear.

"Jas, I'm home."