SLASH BACKSLASH 3.0 CONTEST
Title: In Repair
Pairing: Edward & Jasper
Rating, Disclaimer, and appropriate Warnings: M for some language and vivid fantasies. I don't own, Stephenie Meyer does.
Word Count: 9949
Please see all entries at .net/community/Slash_Backslash_3_0/74941/14/0/1/
"Jasper, if we don't leave right this second you're never going to have enough time to get everything done for tonight. Let's go!"
I glanced up from pretending to search for something in my bag to find Rosalie all skin tight jeans, hip cocked to the side, her fingers drumming on her thigh. I glanced around the emptying lecture hall, zeroed in on a head full of chaotic auburn hair and went back to my bag.
"Yeah, of course, I just need to make sure I have my…" I trailed off as suddenly Rosalie's legs weren't the only ones close by. A sneaker clad foot stopped just short of my backpack.
"Sorry, man," a warm voice said, causing my head to jerk up. For a moment I was caught by his bright, almost curious green eyes, until that is, a voice ordered him to move. I struggled to get my pack and myself out of the way, stupidly jumping out my seat, practically knocking into the man. He reached out with one hand on my bicep to steady me, as the other plunged into his this thick reddish brown hair, pulling it away from his forehead.
"Ed, let's go. Practice, remember?" the voice behind my classroom crush ordered. Edgave me a sheepish grin and pushed past with his friend close behind. I watched his casual gait slip down our row and out the door. Sighing softly, I pulled my pack over my shoulder, turning towards Rosalie who immediately rolled her eyes.
She shook her head in response and gave me a shove.
"Let's go lover boy," she ordered. I decided not to question the nickname. Instead, with a last look at the empty doorway I lead our way out.
It could be said that my kitchen was a disaster zone but I considered it one of my biggest accomplishments. As I looked from the pasta sauce running down the front of the stove to the unnecessary amount of dirty pots in the sink and the empty wine bottles that lined the counter, I knew they told the story of a successful evening and it wasn't showing signs of slowing down. My little apartment was finally brimming with the life I didn't know I'd been holding back.
I dropped the corkscrew into the drawer, nudging it closed with my hip just as a burst of laughter sounded from the adjoining room. The sound relaxed me further and I revelled in the sensation. With my eyes closed, I took a deep breath and committed the feeling to memory for the darker days that sometimes were hard to escape. With a shake of my head, I focused on the voices and caught the end of the story that had the women in the other room in a fit of giggles. I had to roll my eyes.
Peter just lovedtelling this one.
"So I've been on his case all game, he's good and pissed off when he goes up to bat. Without a look back, Jasper gets up to the plate, swings at the first pitch and smacks the hell out of the ball. Just hearing it, you knew it was going out of the park. He runs the bases, with that shit-eating grin in place. I don't think he could have wiped it off his face if he tried. That is, until he nears the dugout and there's not a sound to be heard. No one even looks at him and in case you don't know, Rose, pitchers aren't known for their home run hitting abilities. The team should have been losing it."
"Aww, you did this on his first college home run?" Rose asked, her voice softening but the laughter still present.
"Of course we did, it was beautiful. He hangs up his helmet and tries to keep his smile in check. He's tucking his hair behind his ears, looking down. The bench kept up the silent treatment for about five seconds before we all burst out yelling and mobbed him. He was flying pretty high after that," Peter finished and I could tell he was still proud of the rookie hazing he'd managed to orchestrate.
I grabbed the newly opened Bonny DoonSyrah from the counter and made my way into the dining room. Rosalie smiled and held up her empty wine glass. I refilled both Rose and Charlotte's glasses first before I paused in front of Peter with, what had he called it?
Oh right, my shit-eating grin.
"What?" he asked. I shrugged, filled his glass and took my seat. I got comfortable, finally topped my own glass and caught the dribble of red that spilled down the side of the glass with my thumb. Peter was still waiting on me when I looked up. "Well, out with it," he urged.
"Oh, it's nothing really, I just thought maybe while you're at it you should fill Rosalie in on how I went on to pitch a no hitter that very same game. How I was pretty much the talk of the school, even youwere pretty impressed if I recall correctly."
I raised my eyebrows and hid my smile behind the deep sip of red while I waited for Peter to react. I caught Char's glance and loved how her eyes lit up.
"Oh let's not get ahead of ourselves, Whitlock. Yeah, you were good but I think, no wait, I knowthey called my season epic. I hit .463, 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. Rose?"
Peter turned to her eagerly but with a halfhearted smile, Rose shrugged.
"I don't really like baseball all that much, sorry."
She looked apologetic but I still had to rub it in.
"That's my girl! You know what's important." I held my fist up for a bump and she met me in the middle. Peter waved us off and looked to Charlotte.
"You were definitely impressed, right babe? It's how I snagged you," Peter said and received a shrug from Charlotte.
"I'm pretty sure it was more about the way you filled out your uniform than how well you hit the ball," Charlotte informed him. Peter held his hand to his chest and shook his head but couldn't wipe his smile.
"Well, you can't leave it at that… Out with it, how did you two actually meet," Rosalie asked, elbows on the table, leaning into the conversation.
Knowing the story as if it were my own, I allowed my mind to wonder again. The wine was slipping down with ease. I could feel the buzz from my chest to the tips of my fingers and it slowed my brain enough that I could actually filter through some of the things that had been weighing down on me.
Preparing for Peter and Charlotte's visit this week had been a little overwhelming. It wasn't because of the last minute papers that were due or the fact that my midterms loomed near.
I tried very hard to believe that was the reason but I knew I was just lying to myself.
Pete and Char brought with them a part of my life that I tried to leave behind, a life that didn't coincide with who I was anymore and I didn't… still don't… know if I can reconcile both parts of myself.
I'm in a good place now. Seattle is treating me well, better than I could have hoped but it took two people from my past to realize I should work on both worlds. As soon as I saw Peter, all the good memories flooded back; leaving home for the first time, getting a scholarship to play my favourite sport, the Florida sun and the nights on the beach with friends…Except it also felt great to have him here, to show him I was doing better, that I've smiled a hell of a lot more in these last 10 months in Seattle than in the previous 10 and most of all, I'd made great strides in my physical therapy.
I glanced up to watch Rosalie grinning at Charlotte and tried to picture her back in Florida but my mind wouldn't let me go there. I wasn't the same man; we probably wouldn't have even been friends.
Suddenly I'm being pinched on my thigh, almost to the point of pain but I managed to keep the whimper to myself. I closed my hand over Rosalie's and marvelled how she continued her conversation with Charlotte, yet she clearly sensed my mood change. She turned her palm over, giving my hand a squeeze before letting it fall away.
Man, if she knew exactly what I'd been thinking she would have done more than pinch me. Who am I kidding, we would probably be friends in any circumstance. So where does that leave me?
Shit. I don't know.
What I did know, as I looked down at my somehow already empty glass, I needed more wine. As I poured the burgundy liquid, I noticed a newly formed bruise had blossomed into an ugly shade of that's going to be there awhile, blue, on my forearm.
Fucking, Diego, the defenseman on the floor hockey team I played yesterday can't keep his stick down. I continued to study my right arm, checking it for further injuries. I flexed, watching where tight, cut muscles used to be, have now transformed into softer lines.
I clenched my fist and watched the tendons pull and newer lithe, less sharp lines formed. I turned my arm around and traced the raised purple scar down from below my shoulder to well past my elbow. I flexed again, my t-shirt still pulled tight against my bicep.
"Jasper, I'm enjoying the gun show but what are you doing?" Pete's voice cracked through my physical inspection. I looked down at my arm and then up to Peter.
"Still looks good, huh?"
Pete rolled his eyes and grabbed a bread roll from the basket.
"I'm just saying, you keep eating those buns, you'll be as doughy as the bread." I had just enough time to raise my hand and catch the bun before it would have smacked my face. He grabbed another and ripped it open. I heard the girls' chuckle and he cracked a smile before biting into the bun.
"Does it still bother you?" Peter mumbled through chews.
I felt everyone's eyes on me, so I concentrated on myself and watched as I extended my arm as far as I could. It would never stretch out as far as it used to but all the hours spent in P.T. paid off and I had almost eighty-seven percent extension. A lot more than the doctors ever thought I would get. The scar looked bad but there wasn't any more pain, not physical anyway. My knee was another issue. Day to day it was fine but when I pushed it on the court or when I felt like punishing myself with an extra long jog, did I feel it? Yeah, I felt it but I liked the burn, it reminded me how lucky I was to still be able to do all the things I took for granted in the past.
Charlotte's tentative voice brought my eyes up and I had to smile at the concerned looks everyone was shooting me.
"Nah, feels great, actually."
I flexed my fingers and bent my arm for show before reaching for my wine. Rose eyed me curiously, Peter didn't seem satisfied and poor Charlotte just glanced between Peter and me nervously. She knew us too well, something had been building and it was just a matter of who was going to crack first.
Peter rubbed his thighs, a clear sign he was steeling himself to start on something serious. Well, I did love getting Peter riled up, so after a deep sip of wine I beat him to it.
"I talked to Tyler, you know," I said casually.
Peter's head shot up, he hadn't expected that.
Peter eyes darted over to the women before narrowing in on me.
I glanced over at Rosalie and was rewarded with an eye roll. It could have been because we discussed how this conversation should happen and this wasn't it. I could have breached the subject a little more delicately but as the alcohol coursed through my veins and warmed my skin, I leaned back in my chair and arched a brow.
"How could you? Why would you?" Peter exclaimed, ignoring Charlotte's hand that tightened around his.
I surprised myself with how calm I managed to stay. It took me months to call Tyler, or more precisely, call him back. There were months of over thinking, internalizing the blame until a night that was filled with too many drinks at the College Inn Pub. I ended up, a hot mess, on Rosalie's front porch and dropped it all on her. She sat by me the next day when I made the call and I've been trying to come to terms with it ever since.
I shortened the explanation a little and Peter clearly wasn't impressed as he leaned forward, voice rising.
"To understand what exactly?"
I hesitated, searching for the right answer and so, Peter continued with his brutal honesty.
"Jasper, he tried to kill you."
I watched his knuckles turn white even as Charlotte whispered something in his ear.
"He was confused," I offered lamely.
"He drove his Dodge, without hesitation, into oncoming traffic. He could have killed all of us. He took baseball away from you."
I rubbed my hand over the tightness in my chest as I thought about what he just said. I flashed back to my conversation with Tyler, all of the talking I had done with Rose and the counsellor she finally convinced me to see.
Charlotte was still urging Peter to relax but his hands remained on the table, leaning towards me, everyone else forgotten. With a deep breath I found my resolve and looked him in the eye.
"Did you know he had just started antidepressants? How unpredictable that can be in someone our age? The pressure put on us that season was unlike anything I'd ever felt and add to that he was questioning his sexuality."
I raised my hand before Peter could speak again.
"Look, I'm not excusing what he did. I'm just trying to understand the why."
Peter finally unclenched his fists, slowly resting his palms against the table. He studied me quietly.
"I needed to understand," I offered and his shoulders finally dropped a little as his hand curled around Charlotte's.
"I... I don't know how you do it," Peter stated plainly.
I was trying to do it, I'm not all the way there yet but he didn't need to know that yet.
"I've tried to look at it this way, if I look back at my life," but before I could continue, Rosalie finally spoke up.
"Oh no, he's getting philosophical. Where's the wine? I'm going to need it."
I narrowed my eyes at Rose, finding her bottom lip between her teeth as she suppressed a smile. A small giggled escaped from Charlotte and I was grateful some of the tension in the room had eased.
"It's right here, my dear. Would you like me to pour it?" I asked sweetly, pointing to the bottle with my middle finger, effectively flipping her the bird. She waved me off with a snort and proceeded to fill both of our glasses.
"As I was saying, I'm trying to accept the path my life is on. It's too draining to question it or to hold on to the negativity. I can't do it anymore. I know it's really cliché but there have been silver linings to the hard times in the past, I have to hope that this is no different."
At their patient silence, I allowed myself another sip of wine before continuing.
"It was really tough on my family at the time but when my father was hurt, it finally allowed us to settle in one place."
"Hell, Jasper. We're going that far back? Char and I do have to get home tomorrow," Peter joked and finally relaxed back in his seat. I launched my napkin at him and resumed where I left off.
"I would have never met you at the park, never learned to play ball in the first place. I might not have learned how important a friendship like ours is, to have someone accept me for exactly who and as I am. You helped me come out to my family."
I glanced up and saw that Charlotte eye's looked a little red rimmed, Pete secured an arm around her and smiled.
"Remember when your mom thought we were dating?"
I laughed at the memory of my mother making us keep the door to the basement opened.
"It took awhile to convince her otherwise."
Pete nodded but frowned after a moment.
"I get all that but how does it explain... Jasper, you loved baseball, probably even more than I do. Where is the good..." he trailed off and I could see that he struggled to remain calm.
"I still love baseball. I love remembering what it felt like to stare down the last batter before striking him out."
With my eyes closed I could almost believe I was on the mound, feeling the laces on the ball with the tips of my fingers. The sweat dripped down my back as I waited for Pete to signal what pitch he wanted.
"But don't you see! Aren't you angry he took that away?" Peter's voice broke through my haze and I slowly opened my eyes but didn't answer his question.
"Something had been off with Tyler for awhile. Even after the win he wasn't himself. I shouldn't have let him kiss me. He was drunk, I was -"
"Jasper Whitlock!" Charlotte raised her voice louder than I'd ever heard and looked me straight in the eye. "Don't you dare blame yourself for this mess. I told you in the hospital and I'm telling you one last time, after this I won't be responsible for my actions."
I was so shocked at her outburst, I held up my hands to hold her off. She quieted but kept her hard gaze on me.
"Shit, Char. No, I don't mean," I paused.
What did I mean?
"I'm not really... Just forget that. Look, trust me, I've run through the whole spectrum of emotions and I still don't know exactly where I stand. It sucked or it sucks but Seattle has been really good for me. That's what I want to concentrate on. I'm interested in what I'm learning, I keep busy doing things I love and I'm surrounded by some pretty decent people out here. I just couldn't hold onto the bitterness anymore, it hurt too much."
I only managed to keep eye contact with Charlotte and Peter for an extra beat before training my eyes on one of the plaid squares at the bottom of my shirt. I hadn't known what to say until the words tumbled out of my mouth and I just hoped they were enough. The silence lingered but I felt Rosalie's hand slide over my thigh and grip my own. She gave my two first fingers the tightest squeeze she could with her small hand and it was what I needed to look up again.
"Okay?" I asked my friends.
"Okay," both Peter and Charlotte responded softly.
I pushed away from the table but paused when the room swayed slightly. I placed my palms flat on the table, just to be safe. I caught another snort from Rose and narrowed my eyes at her.
"I'm fine. I just lifted my head too fast."
She nodded but kept her smile.
Again another nod but my eyes narrowed when hers turned more mischievous.
"What? You have something to say, say it." I pushed, defiantly grabbing my wine glass. She only smiled wider before speaking.
"Well... maybe on a lighter note we can talk about some of the decent people around here."
I had no idea where she was going with this but it was clear Rose knew exactly what she wanted to say. It definitely made me a little nervous but it couldn't have been any worse than what we had just gone through so I shrugged and brought the remainder of my wine to my lips.
"I would like to say that if Jasper had never come to Seattle, I'd never have the extreme pleasure of watching him turn ten shades of red during Exercise Science every Monday and Friday morning."
I nearly choked on my wine. As it was, half of it dribbled out of my mouth and down my chin. Without looking Rose dropped a napkin in front of me and continued on. I was too shocked to stop her. I was certain I'd been stealthy in my ogling of the gorgeous stranger, three rows back and five seats over from us.
I didn't watch him the entire class, only as he arrived, joking and smiling with the same annoying friend. His legs, like mine, stretch out long in front of him when he takes his seat. Maybe I looked a little when the lights were dimmed and the slides started. I'll admit to a quick glance before he'd leave for another few days. Sometimes, I'd let my mind settle on him a little longer, especially on the mornings when he'd come in, his normally auburn hair, wet and darkened from more than just the damp weather outside. His pale skin flushed, especially on the apples of his cheeks. In those moments I blocked out all possibilities that it was from extracurricular activities with a girlfriend and concentrated on all the other amazing scenarios.
I imagine he runs track or plays football, he likely has intense workouts in the morning and just manages to squeeze in a quick shower before class. It would be a shower that I could easily wake up for and slip into. I would press my naked chest to his back, my lips easily finding the skin just behind his ear as the warm water surrounded us. I wouldn't be able to resist teasing just a little, my thumb lazily brushing over a nipple, it tightening under my touch. My other hand resting over his abs, feeling them contract because of me. His hand would reach back, sliding from my hip to grip my thigh and he would groan my name, reminding me of our class. It would only take a slight shifting of my hips and my hand barely brushing over his hard cock to hear what I'd been waiting for. "Please," he would whisper desperately and I would give him anything he asked. So what if we arrived to class a little late from time to time.
My fantasy came to an unfortunate end as three consecutive napkins bounced off my face, landing in my lap. I look down and -
Awe, fucking, hell.
I automatically dropped my hands to cover an increasingly growing bulge and felt the telltale signs of a blush creeping up my neck and cheeks.
"HA! Exactly like that!" Rose exclaimed, pointing at me with a satisfied smirk. "That's when I know he's having a rather vivid fantasy and not just staring at the poor boy."
"I... I don't know what you're talking about," I trailed off weakly and faced three pairs of eyes with raised brows. I took a deep breath but expelled it just as quickly in defeat. I dropped my forehead to my arms on the table and slowly turned to look at Rose.
She leaned over and ruffled my hair a little before nodding.
"What's his name?" Charlotte asked softly. I moved to rest my chin on my folded arms and looked up at my friends.
"Edward," I mumbled but let a little smile spread to my lips.
That's when I knew the heavy portion of the night was over, that everyone was still talking, that it really was a success.
Now I just needed to steer the conversation away from my non-existent love life.
The warm breeze rustled the leaves on the maple trees that were interspersed throughout the small downtown park, a view of our campus just down the path. I could feel it on my face, brushing my hair over my eyes and tickling the exposed skin of my arms. I closed my eyes welcoming the feeling, tilting my head back to take advantage of the surprisingly warm late autumn sun and stretched my legs out in front of me. The moment was nice, albeit brief. Suddenly hands closed over my eyes and a quick kiss was pressed to my cheek. My lips fell into an easy grin, I already knew who was there by the sugary scent of bubblegum.
"Don't you look better today."
A bubble popped near my ear and the hands slid off my face to squeeze my shoulders before letting go. I opened my eyes but squinted against the sun filtering through the red and yellow leaves, tilting my head further back.
"Rose," I finally acknowledged. She snorted and plopped down beside me on the bench.
"Jasper," she responded lowering her voice, trying to look stern but only lasted a moment before breaking into a huge smile. "So how you doing, big guy?" she asked patting my stomach, clearly trying not to laugh, too hard. Although, as I continued to stare her down, she was clearly not doing anything about the smile that gave her intentions away. I rolled my eyes, pulling my aviators from my collar and slid them in place.
"I'm fine. Nothing I couldn't handle."
Her brow stayed raised.
"I'm sure your toilet would say otherwise. That was a lot of red wine,"
Before she could say anymore I covered her lips with my index finger.
"Shh, it's time for class."
Her eyes lit up but she pressed a quick kiss to my finger and let me pull her off the bench. We walked in a quiet, companionable silence up the path to the campus, before racing up to the front entrance, taking the stairs two at a time. We pushed passed the students leaving the building to wind our way down the narrow hall and to finally find ourselves in the same place we'd been seventy-two hours prior, staring up at the medium sized lecture hall.
"Want to change seats?" Rosalie asked as we made our way in. My phone had just buzzed in my pocket and so I may not have been paying as much attention as I should have been.
"Huh?" I mumbled.
"You know, so you can be closer to Edw…" she trailed off as I spun at her with wide eyes. I felt like I was fourteen and not twenty-four.
"Shut. It," I said wrapping my arm around her neck and pulling her towards me. She followed without a fight as I directed us to our regular seats, all the while checking our surroundings. I expelled a sigh of relief when I didn't spot the unruly hair and folded myself into the uncomfortable plastic chair.
"Oh! There he is," Rosalie pointed to the entry as Edward and who cares what his name is, brute of a friend ambled in. I slapped her hand away but kept my eyes trained on the direction she had pointed out.
Oh yes, it was one of those days, wet hair, rosy cheeks… I could imagine the clean soapy scent from here.
"Do you know how much fun this class is going to be now that you've confirmed what I suspected?" Rosalie asked as I try to ignore her, instead I pretended to flip through my book while really, I just watched Edward take the steps to my left two by two. Just before he went to turn down his isle, his friend caught him by the shoulder and whispered something into his ear that causes him to flush an even darker crimson. If it hadn't been so appealing on him I would have looked down by now, not wanting to push my luck but suddenly I'm caught by two pairs of eyes. Edward's are wide and alarmed and his friend's crinkled at the corners before he threw his head back and laughed. Edward pushed passed him angrily and took his seat without another look in my direction.
I wasn't sure if I'd ever been so humiliated in my life. They knew. They knew and that oaf was having a good laugh at my expense and I'd managed to creep out the object of my unrequited lust without even speaking to him.
I slunk further down in my seat and hoped for class to pass quickly. I could feel Rosalie staring at my dejected form but luckily professor Banner finally arrived, immediately picking up from last Friday. I kept my head down and diligently took notes for the remainder of the class.
"Alright, a lot of you have been asking and I guess it's time I talk to you about the final assignment," Banner said dropping his notes and coming around to rest against his desk. I perked up, slightly, knowing this was going to be a major part of the grade and I was curious as to what he had in store.
"I want you to pair up and pick a sport, preferably something you aren't as familiar with. I want you to study every aspect of it and create an exercise and development plan. So I'm looking for stretching and warm up, which muscles need strengthening, what are the most common injuries. Try and watch your sport live, talk to the athletes…" Banner trailed off reaching for some new papers as Rose leaned into me.
"Aren't we covering the Lacrosse game this weekend for Angela? Let's just do that," she whispered as I started to doodle at the bottom of my notes. I hummed in response, which was unacceptable to Rosalie who plucked the pen out of my hand and arched in eyebrow when I blinked up at her.
"Yes, that sounds like a fantastic idea, Rosalie," I said to humor her and all I got was her eyes narrowing on me.
"If anyone knows what they want right away, I'll just take note of it so that we don't have too many groups doing the same sport," Banner's voice broke through the small staring contest Rose and I were having and with that, I raised my hand. "?"
"Yes, Rosalie Hale and I will take Lacrosse," I said clearly, watched Banner take note of our selection and turned to smirk at Rosalie but the sight three rows back and five seats over turned my lips into a hard line. Edward's friend was again laughing, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively but this time Edward was eyeing me curiously. I broke the gaze first, quickly grabbing my things and shoving them into my pack.
"What the hell is going on?" Rosalie hissed, following my lead, clearing her things.
"I need to get out of here," I mumbled throwing my bag over my shoulder and excusing myself to quickly get past everyone in my isle. I could hear Rosalie doing the same behind me, so I didn't stop until she grabbed my arm outside of the classroom.
I opened my mouth to answer but heard Banner dismiss the class and stopped short. Rosalie frowned back towards the classroom before crossing her arms over her chest.
"Out with it. Right now," she ordered.
Just the thought of bumping into him again, now, has unsettled my stomach.
"I don't think so," I mumbled.
"What? Why not? I swear to God, Jasper, I'm not moving until you tell me what's up."
Students slowly started trickling out of the class and Rose followed my nervous gaze as I watched them.
"He knows," I whispered.
"Who knows what?" she huffed.
With another glance towards the classroom, I spotted them. They had just finished with Banner, Edward had his head down, shaking it as his friend clearly tried to get something across to him.
I needed to leave before he spotted me.
"Edward, look, he and his friend have figured me out and he's clearly not happy about it. I've been humiliated enough for one day. Can we please just leave?" I pleaded with her, eyeing the doorway with dread.
Any moment now.
"I don't know what's going on but you're coming over and explaining it all to me," she finally conceded and that was all I needed. I took her elbow and steered us away from the doorway.
"Um, Whitlock? Jas… Jasper?" a timid voice sounded behind me, causing every muscle in my body to seize up.
I wanted to keep walking but Rosalie was already turning. I was forced to follow her lead and came face to face with an extremely nervous looking Edward and his grinning friend. My fist tightened against the strap of my pack while I stuffed the other in my pocket to keep it from shaking.
"It is um, Jasper? Right? Do you have a minute?" he asked running his long fingers through his hair and leaving them to rest at the nape of his neck. I wanted to answer but his stupid friend, with his wide smile was distracting. Edward sensed the reason for my hesitation and with an exasperated sigh turned. "Emmett, please, please leave," Edward asked.
Emmett's eyes danced around to everyone but he remained in place.
"I think I'm just fine right here," he responded causing Edward to pinch the bridge of his nose and Rosalie to untangle herself from me.
"Emmett is it? Come with me," she ordered grabbing a hold of his wrist. This turn of his events knocked him off whatever game he was playing. He finally looked momentarily stunned.
"What?" he mumbled.
Rosalie gave one last tug and had Emmett following behind her like a small child being chastised. We both watched the scene unfold quietly before I finally brought my eyes back to Edward's. I was suddenly aware that we were pretty much alone in the long hallway and it made me nervous. I held my breath and waited for him to continue.
"Sorry about Emmett, he means well, he just really likes giving me a hard time," Edward stated, now playing with the straps of his backpack. He forced a smile and I nodded tightly, completely unsure of where this was going. "Right, I just wanted to offer my help," Edward started to explain which only left me waiting for him to continue and even more confused when a rising blush began to flush his skin.
"Your help with…" I trailed off hoping to prompt him.
"Oh, with Lacrosse," he finally bumbled out, eyes downcast for a moment before he looked up at me through his lashes. My eyes widened, I was completely taken off guard by the fragile look in his eyes. I clamped down on my bottom lip in order to fight the urge to lick them.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
"Why um, do you need a partner?" I asked when I finally found my voice.
"No, but since I play I thought…" he trailed off when what can only be shock spread across my face.
"You play?" I squeaked out, my voice raising a notch.
Not only did I look like stalker before…
Except now helooks embarrassed.
"Oh, I thought you knew. I play, here for the Huskies," he clarified and went back to running his fingers through his hair. "Look, if you decided you wanted some help, just come find me on the field. I'd be more than happy to, um, talk to you about it. We have a practice Friday at six," he said quickly, giving me a final nod before brushing past me. I watched him walk away and the words were out of my mouth before I even realized I wanted to say them.
"Sure, thanks, I'll be there," I said quietly but loud enough to have him stumbling and turning but not stopping. He slowed his pace as he continued to back away but the smile on his face was genuine.
I shrugged, still not quite convinced this exchange was really happening but let a smile tug at my lips.
He took a few more backwards steps before rocking back on his heels.
"I'm Edward, by the way," he added.
"I know," I mumbled, again, unable to stop myself but my reward was watching as his chest puffed up, his shoulders straightened and a crooked smile fell into place
"I know, you know," he said, his eyes lighting up. My mouth opened and closed but I couldn't come up with a reply. So instead I stood where I was and watched Edward give me one last nod, turn and casually stroll out of sight. I leaned my forehead against the cool concrete wall and let out a long shaky breath. I used to be a lot better at this, whatever this really was. I was too nervous to really let myself believe this could lead somewhere but I couldn't help the small flutters in stomach that felt a little like hope.
The sun was just setting past the horizon, its last rays filtering through the bleachers when Rose and I arrived. It finally felt more like autumn as the wind whipped up the fallen leaves and whistled through the narrow hall that lead into the stadium. I stuffed my hands in the front pocket of my hoodie as I slowed my pace.
"Oh come on, you baby," Rosalie teased, snapping a shot of before pulling me along.
We stepped out of the passageway into the open air field and I took a moment to look around. It wasn't quite like the Florida ballparks where you were surrounded by seats on all sides, rising high all around you. This field, mainly used for the football team to practice on was smaller, more open but the feeling of being in a sport arena remained and I realized it felt good. I took a deep breath of the cool crisp air and tilted my head towards the bleachers. Rosalie hummed her agreement, while snapping a few pictures of the Lacrosse players running through a drill on the field.
The stands were barren, Lacrosse practice not being high on anyone's Friday night plans. We took a seat a few rows up so we could get a good look at everyone on the field. I grabbed my notebook and pen from my bag and scanned the field, frowning when I couldn't spot Edward.
"I feel like a grade A, stalker," I mumbled, absently jotting down a few notes on the drills they were running.
"Nah, you have me as a buffer," Rosalie reasoned, taking a few more shots in quick succession.
"No, you just look like my weird loner friend, helping me stalk. You even have a camera," I countered and winced watching one player run into the other when he didn't change directions quick enough. I took a few more notes before turning to Rosalie when she scoffed.
"Weird loner friend? Speak for yourself. I have plenty of friends. I just take pity on your sorry ass from time to time. Plus I enjoy the show of you grooming yourself like a cat for Edward before every lecture," Rosalie said and snapped a picture of the nasty look I shot her. She turned away with a laugh and smiled.
"There he is, wave," she pointed to the sidelines and my hand raised without my permission.
I spotted Edward, looking up at us with what looked like a wide grin under his helmet. He raised his stick in salute and jogged back out onto the field.
"You can put your hand down now, Jasper," Rosalie whispered through a giggle and I wanted to die. I dropped my hand quickly and sat on it.
"You're such an asshole," I whispered through clenched teeth at Rosalie who was smiling and clicking away. She glanced back at me and took another picture before flashing me the LCD screen.
"See, like a cat," she said proudly. Looking at the screen, I can't help but laugh and roll my eyes at the sight of me sitting on one hand, while the other tucks a loose curl behind my ear.
The rest of the practice passes by quietly and quickly as we both finally started taking notes for class. So I may have been slightly distracted every time Edward ran sprints or clashed with someone for the ball but still feel I got some work done. I glanced over at Rose's notebook as she flipped to her fourth page of notes and drawings and then down to my single sheet of paper, half full.
Rosalie getting up beside me brings me back to the present. I closed my book, embarrassed.
"Are we taking off already?" I asked timidly.
"Well considering practice is over and everyone's leaving the field, I am too. You, on the other hand, are waiting for him," Rose said, pointing toward the field. I followed her finger, watching as Edward dropped his helmet on the sidelines and grinned up at me before taking the steps two at a time. Rosalie bent, placing a kiss to my cheek, whispering in my ear. "Relax. You'll be fine. We'll talk later."
I watched her pass Edward on the stairs, a curt nod to him before she threw one last smile my way and exited the stadium. I followed Edward with my eyes now. He wiped the sweat from his brow with the bottom of his jersey, revealing a flat, cut stomach and a thin trail of light brown hair that disappeared beneath the black gym shorts that sat low on his hips. I swallowed quickly before he dropped his shirt and came to sit beside me.
"Get a lot of information for the assignment?" Edward asked and I got the feeling he was making fun of me by the way his eyes crinkled at the sides but I wasn't offended.
"I think I have some creative things I can work with tonight," I responded but felt my blush rise up to my ears when Edward's eyebrows shot up. I shook my head and looked out to the field. I tried to calm my breathing and get my mind out of the gutter but it was extremely difficult. Edward hadn't shied away when he sat down beside me. He was close enough to feel the heat emanating from his body and I didn't mind that his soapy fresh scent mixed with the sheen of sweat that covered his body. It was masculine and warm and made me think of a hard work out. I swallowed a groan when his thigh bumped mine and caught his profile out of the corner of my eye. He was watching the field, just like I was, as if nothing had happened.
"Em's having a small party at his place tonight, with some of our teammates and friends. You're welcome to drop by, I could answer any questions you had or we could just have a beer?" Edward asked his voice light and carefree. His knee bumped mine again but this time he kept it there. I held my breath a moment while I ran through all the things that I wanted to say.
Are you asking me out?
Are you just being a nice guy?
Are you gay?
Are you going to hate me if I ask any of these questions?
I'm damaged goods Edward. I'm probably a lot more than you bargained for, especially if you aren't into guys.
I'd love to come. I'm dying to come actually.
Can I kiss you?
I watched as he licked his pink lips and waited patiently for my reply. I bounced my leg quickly and felt it brush his every time but he didn't move or turn in my direction, he allowed me my thoughts and for this I was grateful but unfortunately still weary.
"Ah maybe, I may have to go over some of these notes with Rosalie," I mumbled and continued to watch him out of the corner of my eye. I knew it was a lame response and he sure as hell knew it too but he didn't call me on it. He didn't say anything. His shoulders slumped slightly and he nodded his head absently. It only made me feel worse and my leg shake more. "Except maybe, uh, you could…" I trailed off, shaking my head. "Shit," I mumbled at my complete lack of social skills but suddenly Edward's hand was on my thigh, his fingers curving around it lightly. I was shocked into stillness. I looked up with wide eyes and met his sad green ones.
"Don't worry about it, Jasper. Some other time," he offered but didn't move his hand and I resisted the urge to either start shaking my leg tenfold or clamping my hand over his. He gave me my out and as soon as I had it, I knew I didn't want it.
"Could I have the address?" I asked quietly and watched as Edward intently studied my face. I licked my lips and felt some confidence return when his gaze dropped to them.
"Of course," he murmured and watched as I reached for my notebook. I was about to hand it over when I felt his hand twitch on my thigh, his fingers finding the upper straps of me knee brace. "Sports injury?" he asked.
"Something like that," I responded without explanation, surprised when he dropped it immediately. He traced the strap a last time, causing goosebumps to spread under my clothes before taking the notebook and pen, quickly jotting down the address. I watched with relief that I knew the area, it wasn't far from my place, an easy out if I worked up the courage to show in the first place.
He handed me back the book and I hastily stuffed it into my pack, following his lead when he stood up. We stood for a moment, face to face. I enjoyed that we were the same height, that I could easily watch the emotions that played in his eyes or that his lips were right thereand when I focused on them I could feel his breath come out in quicker pants against my own lips. If I parted my lips just so I could breathe some of him in. My fingers itched to reach out and grip his hip, to close the distance but as my thoughts spiralled towards the explicit a voice called through the tunnel and hit me like a bucket of ice. I pulled back abruptly and dropped my gaze to the floor just as I heard Edward throw out an oath.
"Ed! Are you still out here?"
Emmett popped into view, his head swivelling around before landing on us in the stands.
"Oh, sorry," he mumbled an actually looked apologetic this time. Huh.He was about to head back in but Edward called out to him.
"Hold up, bro, I'll be right there."
It was my turn to be shocked.
Edward shrugged somewhat apologetically.
"Fortunately and unfortunately at times," he responded and hurried to continue. "Anyway, you have the address. I'd lo… uh, hope to see you there tonight."
He didn't wait for a response. He reached out, gave my bicep a quick squeeze and was down the stairs and out of sight before I could even come up with a response. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and for the first time in a long time tried to remind myself of who I used to be.
I used to be able to literally charm the pants off any guy who was into me without a second thought. I was great at this. I used to do this all the time.
But as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I used to do this all the time, I knew it was a lie. I did casual and carefree because I didn't care enough about anyone to be serious. I had other priorities that came first and maybe that's what got me in trouble but this, this was different. This was a man that may be feeling more than I realized, that was treading carefully around me without really knowing me but seemed to care enough to try. This was a man I really, really wanted to know more about and thatwas all new to me.
Now I just needed to decide what I was going to do about it.
Clouds had slowly rolled in as the evening turned to night, blotting out the moon and bringing with them a mist that quickly dampened the evening. This was typical Pacific Northwest living and so I wasn't surprised to find the tree lined streets fairly busy with college students, going to parties, heading to the pubs. Their eagerness rubbed off on my own jittery feelings and I quickened my pace, popping my hood up to keep some of the rain away.
I was jogging across another street when my phone in my pocket vibrated. I was tempted to ignore it but seeing as I hadn't heard from Rose since a brief text after the practice I slowed and checked it out. My hand started shaking as soon as I saw the name on my phone, one new email:
My thumb ran back and forth over the screen as I debated sliding the phone opened or throwing it across the street. I wrapped my free hand around my middle while I stared down at the name, willing it away.
Tomorrow, I could deal with this tomorrow. Tonight was supposed to be about new beginnings not dealing with, with…
"FUCK," I yelled out loud, kicking the nearest pebble before unlocking the phone. The message opened immediately and with a deep breath I read.
I'm sure you don't want to hear from me again and I apologize if this brings you even more pain than you have already had to endure. I wanted you to know that I heard from Peter today. I know how angry he was and still is. I know the only reason he spoke to me is because of you, because he wants to help you through this mess and hope that he does.
I know finally contacting me had been difficult and I don't think I adequately thanked you for giving me an opportunity most don't think I warrant to try and explain myself to you. Jasper, you were a good friend and teammate, you're a good man and I will regret every day what happened. I just sincerely hope you can heal, that your life takes you to beautiful places and that you find love because I don't think I've met a man who deserves it more than you.
I am truly sorry, more than words will ever allow me to express.
I read the words once, twice, three times, I continued to read them until I felt the rain soak through my hoodie and the cold seeped into my skin. A horn that honked in the distance jarred me away from the phone to take in my surroundings. I was still standing on a street corner, just a block away from the party, soaked but suddenly feeling lighter and a thought running through my mind.
Maybe I did deserve a good man, a man who was waiting on me. Maybe it was time to dust the bat off and step up to the plate again.
I snorted at the thought despite myself and actually smiled. I slowly pocketed my phone and stared down the street. I easily spotted a house, a half a block away with lights blazing, cars parked out front and the slight hum of music. I rocked on my heels for just a moment before setting off on what felt like was the final leg of a marathon.
I talked myself up with each step I took. I smiled at the strangers milling around in the driveway, I high fived a wisp of a girl, with funky purple tinted sunglasses and spiky black hair who held the door opened for me as I walked by. I shrugged off my soaked sweater and draped it over the back of an empty chair. I rubbed my bare arms trying to regain some of the heat I'd lost outside as I glanced around the party and all that confidence evaporated as soon as I spotted Edward.
He looked good. He always looked good but I always caught him in his workout clothes, gym shorts or sweat pants. Now he was wearing slim fitting jeans that were almost thread bare at the thighs and polo tee, the same green as his eyes that hugged him in all the right places. Like I said, he looked good but he also looked pissed. He was arguing with someone on the phone while he held a dustpan full of broken glass. He looked intimidating and I could feel my chest tightening and new worries come flooding in.
He's not going to want to deal with my mess. How do I even start to tell someone what happened to me.
I rubbed my tightening chest, searching for somewhere I could get a least another moment of reprieve except he spotted me. He spotted me the exact same moment I spotted Seth and I had a choice. I could walk over and just say hello and hope for the best or I could stall and talk with Seth, a guy I knew well from the LGBT meetings I'd started attending when I started at U-Dub.
I knew what I should have done but I couldn't do it and so with downcast eyes I turned to Seth who was surprised to see me but greeted me warmly. I pretended not to notice Edward tossing the portable phone on the counter. I tried not to flinch when the broken glass, dustpan and all were shoved into the waiting garbage bin but I couldn't help my eyes as I watched him leave. He slammed the door without a look back.
"Hell, what got into him? He's usually so easy going," Seth asked to no one in particular as he too eyed the front door. He shrugged and went back to telling me about whatever exam he had just taken but I couldn't take my eyes off the front door.
I was ruining this before I even had a chance. I had to fix it.
"Ah Seth, just hold that thought, I need to go. Go after someone, sorry," I stumbled through a lame apology to a confused looking Seth and hurried out the front door.
Purple glasses girl was still outside but now perched on the railing, her feet dangling below. She let her glasses slide down her nose as she eyed me. Clearly finding whatever she was looking for, she slid the glasses back up and pointed to the left.
"He went that way. Hurry," she offered and went back to swinging her legs.
I looked left and spotted him about four houses down, hands jammed in his pockets, walking at a quick pace.
"Thank you!" I exclaimed and couldn't help the kiss I pressed to her forehead before launching myself down the four steps. I picked my pace into a jog and immediately closed the distance between Edward and I. Just as he's turned up a short walkway I finally worked up the courage and called his named. I watch his steps falter to a stop and I held my breath.
"Edward?" I asked again when he doesn't turn. "Please?"
In a move I'd begun to know all too well in too short a time, he folded in on himself, his shoulders slumped, his head down.
"It's okay Jasper, you don't have to do this, and I saw the look you gave me when you came in. Clearly, I make you uncomfortable that wasn't my goal at all. My night's gone from bad to worse, maybe we can do this another day or maybe we shouldn't do it at all," Edward words fell out in a rush as he jingled his keys.
We shouldn't do this at all? Okay, now I'm panicking.
I watched in horror as Edward took my silence as an agreement to what he'd just declared and kept on toward the front door. The further he walked, the tighter the feeling in my chest became. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and hurried after him, not stopping until I was pressed up against him. The unexpected shock of my chest against his back caused him to drop his keys and let out a shaky breath. I gripped his hips with suddenly steady hands and brought my lips to his ear.
"You don't make me uncomfortable. I make me uncomfortable. I get lost in my head and worry about what ifs and could be's. I'm dealing with a lot of shit that happened to me a few years back and it has really messed me up, more than I care to admit but I'm trying to work through it. I'm losing you before I even get the chance to have you. Just, please don't go," my whispered declarations leave me breathless and my heart pounding so loud I could feel it pulsing in my ears. I dropped my nose to the curve of his neck and gave it one long pass over the smooth skin in fear that I'd never have another chance.
Lightening my hold on his hips, I felt him begin to turn around and dropped by gaze to my feet. I couldn't bare it if rejection was all he had left for me but slowly his hands were on my face, his thumbs rubbing circles against my cheeks. He tilted my chin up, meeting my eyes with a determined stare.
"You want this?" he asked and I knew he meant him.
"More than you know."
"Life has thrown some things at you that you don't have a handle on yet but you are working on it?" he asked, taking a step closer. My hands tightened into fists in his shirt.
"Every day," I said with hopes that he truly believed me.
"Will you accept help? My help?"
Every question brought him closer. His lips just barely hovered over mine now, his fingers sunk into my hair.
"I'll try. I want to," I gave him the most honest answer I had and it seemed to be the right one as a smile slipped onto his lips.
"And do you want to kiss me?" he asked, his nose brushing mine, I felt when his tongue darted out to wet his lips.
"Yes! Terribly! All the time!" I declared in quick succession and felt more than heard the chuckle in his chest.
"Well okay then," he answered but I hesitated, pulling back to see his expression.
"Okay?" I asked and received practically a growl in response.
"Jasper. Kiss me. Now."
So I did.