Dedication: To Tkegl. Thank you for the prompt. It was fun. I hope you're pleased.
"Not going to the party, Riley?"
With a sigh, Riley came to a halt. He'd been hoping he could get to the door without Bree seeing him, but no such luck. Turning to face her, he put on a careful smile. "I don't feel like drinking tonight, that's all."
She rolled her eyes. "You lie like a rug, Biers." She grimaced, looking him over. "You're avoiding Whitlock. What you should be doing is going to that bar and showing him you don't need him to have a good time. Show him what he's missing."
Riley snorted softly, looking down. "What is he missing?" He shook his head. "Nothing's changed, Bree. I'm still a techie dweeb, good for a quick fuck, but not much else." He grimaced, knowing he'd let too much slip. He'd been trying to talk himself out of his hurt for days now, trying to chalk it all up to wounded pride.
The truth was, in the last few weeks, his minor infatuation with the blond haired agent had completely taken over his thoughts. He'd seen so many different sides of Jasper. True, not all of them had been attractive, particularly when the other man had let it be known how little he thought of Riley, but the picture as a whole was...
Well, Riley had an inkling that life could be really good. Not without its challenges, but interesting.
Jasper was the first man in a long time that had listened so intently to Riley's ramblings. Not only had he listened, but he'd actually processed what Riley was saying. A lot of men heard Riley's words and looked at the lack of confidence behind them as something that needed to be fixed. It was one of the reasons Riley had stopped dating. He was sick of the inevitable lectures about how he was such a catch.
Riley simply understood how the world worked and accepted it for what it was. He knew he was a good man, and that in a relationship, he would be kind and giving. He was the type of guy who would do anything for the man he loved. He had a lot to offer.
Just because he was a nice guy, though, didn't mean that all the men in the world would or should be falling over themselves to get to him. It didn't mean that just because he'd shared a handful of intimate moments with a man, that he should fall head over heels in love.
With a sigh, Riley looked at Bree and smiled a little. "What am I going to do in a room full of macho FBI agents anyway, huh? Can't exactly show anyone what they're missing if I can't pick up a guy of my own."
"Ah!" Bree said, holding a finger and waggling her eyebrows. "I took the liberty of doing some recon for you. I think you and Agent Clearwater would get along famously."
Riley wrinkled his nose. "Leah? Are you mental, Tanner? I know she's gruffer than most of the guys out there, but she still lacks the equipment I'm looking for."
"Not Leah, dumbass. Her little brother joined up, or hadn't you heard? Rookie is cute. His name is Seth, he's just about as sweet as pie, and he's ridiculously cut," Bree babbled excitedly. When Riley frowned, she sighed, looking exasperated. "Riley, seriously. You could do with a casual fuck to pass the time, work Whitlock out of your system. Seth is hot. If it weren't for Diego, I'd be all about lamenting the fact he bats for your team."
"Why do so many people think the key to everything is sex?" Riley muttered, running a restless hand through his hair. "I'll be fine," he insisted.
"You should still go," Bree said stubbornly. "I mean, it's kind of bullshit. Everyone is gonna be patting Whitlock on the back when you were the one who had to pull him back together."
Riley narrowed his eyes. "I knew I shouldn't have told you that," he muttered. "Bree, you can't tell anyone about that."
She put her hands up in a placating gesture. "I told you I wouldn't say anything. You know you can trust me. I'm just saying, you should make it a little difficult for him, that's all. If it weren't for you -"
"He would have managed," Riley interrupted, trying to temper the tone of his voice. Bree was grating on his nerves. "No one is invincible. It's only logical that he'd need a minute every once in a while, and no one should be alone through that. That's all."
Bree chuckled at him. "Oh, Riley. Your loyalty is hard to shake, isn't it?"
Riley didn't go home immediately. Instead, he drove around, trying to sort out his thoughts.
As he'd told Jasper, it seemed that Riley's viewpoint on the world made him easy to take advantage of. As a result, he was nervous and perhaps a little over cautious around people. It was, he'd admitted to himself on many a long night, a lonely existence.
Then again, he'd also done the casual sex thing. It wasn't hard, really, to find someone who was just looking for a quick fuck. It didn't take much talking to find a willing body. There was no waffling over compatibility. If physical affection were all he wanted, Riley could understand the appeal, but inevitably, when he invited a man to his bed with only sex in mind, the night ended with a feeling of emptiness as he looked on the near stranger next to him.
There was an old song lyric that had always struck him. If I must be lonely, I think I'd rather be alone.
But falling asleep next to Jasper, he'd felt...
Well, he hadn't felt empty.
Riley squirmed in his seat, tapping his fingers restlessly on the steering wheel.
During their sessions, Irina had lightly suggested that maybe Riley chose to fixate on these boys - men - who were unrealistic for him because it would be easier not to get invested. They would never choose him, so how could he ever have a lasting relationship, risk his heart to that degree?
The problem was that Jasper had cracked that first line of defense, slipped deeper into Riley's psyche, among other things. He wasn't the high school jock who had beat Riley senseless for even thinking to look on him that way. In fact, when Jasper realized Riley's attraction, he'd been tender and self-deprecating.
And there was the way Jasper had been with Alice. How easily he could have let go of the little girl, never thinking of her again. It couldn't have been easy for him to see her. After all, it was because of her that he'd been through hell.
Before all of this, perhaps Riley could have admitted that his attraction to Jasper was an attraction more to the idea of him - the fair haired hero - than the actual man. Now, though, it was personal.
Much, much harder to let go of.
Sighing, Riley pulled up to his place, trying to breathe through the ache at the center of his chest, trying to convince himself to let go of impossible daydreams.
Riley had almost gotten to his door before he registered the quick footfalls of someone approaching behind him. He spun, his heart rate accelerating with a rush of fear that turned into shock. "J...A-agent Whitlock?"
Jasper looked down for a moment, looking uncharacteristically nervous for reasons Riley couldn't even guess. "I, um. I think we're past this Agent Whitlock business, Riley. What do you think?"
"Yeah, okay," Riley murmured, rubbing the back of his head self consciously.
They stared at each other, the moment awkward. Jasper shifted his weight. "I... well. Can we talk?"
"Oh! Right, I'm sorry. I should invite you in, right?" Riley said, grimacing because he always felt even more bumbling than usual around Jasper.
Jasper just laughed. "Well, I don't know. After everything, I might not invite me in," he said softly.
Riley narrowed his eyes slightly, a little confused, but rather than ask what the other man meant, he stepped up to the door, sliding the key into the lock. "What is it they say? Water under the bridge?" he stepped inside, holding the door open for Jasper. "Anyway, what are you doing here?" he asked, not unkindly. "Shouldn't you be out celebrating?"
"Wasn't in the mood," Jasper answered with a shrug.
"Okay," Riley said slowly, not quite knowing what he was supposed to say or think in this situation. "So you came here?"
"Been waiting in my car for about an hour, now," Jasper said with a cheeky grin. "I was beginning to think you had a hot date."
Riley blushed before he could help it, looking down at his feet. "No, not me. I was just... Well, I wasn't doing much of anything to be honest. Do you want something to drink?"
"Sure. You have beer?"
"No, uh. I really hate that stuff," Riley admitted sheepishly. "I think I have some rum. But mostly, I have Mountain Dew."
"Yeah, it's kind of a nerd staple."
Jasper looked down, his lips pursed in a grin. "Yeah, sure. I haven't had that stuff since college."
Riley retrieved the cans, coming back out into the living room. Jasper was perusing his bookshelves with what appeared to be great curiosity.
"Thanks," Jasper murmured, taking the can without looking away from Riley's shelves. "I'd have taken you for a sci-fi buff. Isn't that the stereotype? But this is all non-fiction."
"Umm... would you understand what I meant if I said I like war? Not that I'd ever want to be in one... could you imagine me as some sort of army leader? I'd be horrible." Riley shook his head. "But the tactics of war, the reasons behind it..." He shrugged.
"I can understand that," Jasper said with a nod.
"But I prefer fantasy to sci-fi," Riley admitted.
Jasper looked up at him and grinned in that way that made Riley feel entirely too warm and tingly inside. "It's the dragon sex, right? Big lizards mating in mid-air."
Riley's lips quirked upward. "Nah... it's the dwarfs. They're just the right height, you know."
It took Jasper a minute to get it, but when he did, he threw his head back in laughter. Riley couldn't help the way he grinned stupidly, ridiculously happy that he could make Jasper laugh like that.
A minute later they were seated on Riley's couch, drinking quietly. Finally, Jasper sighed. "Look, I'm not good at this."
"What's this?" Riley asked softly.
Jasper grimaced. "Well, first thing's first... I really never apologized for the, uh, misunderstanding a couple of weeks ago." He looked up, holding Riley's gaze with utter sincerity. "I am truly sorry. I never meant to belittle you like that."
"Water under the bridge," Riley murmured again, looking down.
"You're very forgiving," Jasper observed. "So, obviously, this case has been... trying for me, and it's made me think a lot. They all praise me, and think I'm great at what I do - and I am... but I have to give credit where credit is due. I have to admit that, without you, I would have been off the Cullen case completely. Without you, I would probably be back out on leave."
Riley chuffed, blushing furiously. "I think you're underestimating yourself. You would have been fine."
Jasper's eyes were intense on his, so much so that Riley felt slightly dizzy. "I wouldn't have been fine, Riley. I was a mess." He frowned. "I am a mess," he amended quietly.
An odd expression came over his face then, and it took Riley a minute to realize that he wasn't the only one blushing.
"I've been over and over this in my head so many times..." Jasper muttered. "There's no way to say this without sounding like an idiot, but it's true." He looked Riley in the eye again, his expression soft, affectionate even. "Everyone thinks I'm a hero. Well, you're my hero."
Riley blinked sporadically, sure that he'd heard the words wrong. He opened his mouth, but his tongue was tied, his thoughts completely blank. He closed his mouth, then opened it again, only a strangled little noise coming out.
Jasper's smile was small but genuine. "You don't have to say anything. I'm just stating facts is all," he murmured, his eyes straying down, looking at Riley's lips.
Riley was suddenly very aware of how close they were sitting on the couch. When had that happened?
"Though, I do thank you for not laughing at me," Jasper continued, raising his hand and placing two fingers under Riley's chin.
"I um... I mean...," Riley stumbled, his lips open and his throat suddenly tight with nerves and anticipation. "It wasn't... it wasn't funny. It was..."
But how did he explain?
No one had ever told him something like that, and it made him happy. Happy and...
And Jasper was looking at him again, his eyes darkened. He tilted his head head forward slightly, waiting.
For a moment, Riley's mind was all want, and he held his breath, not quite able to grasp what he thought was about to happen. It had been minutes since he'd decided he needed to get past this, and yet here he was... If Jasper leaned in even another fraction of an inch, they would be kissing.
Riley breathed in, tasting the hot air the other man breathed out as his head spun crazily, vacillating between a want so desperate he wanted to cry out and fear because if he let this happen again, he was putting his heart on the line.
Swallowing hard past the lump in his throat, Riley reached out, tentatively wrapping Jasper's tie around and around his fingers. For one more second, he stared into the other man's eyes, and a stunning moment of clarity hit him.
Perhaps it was true that Jasper was a thousand times more confident than Riley would ever be. Maybe it was true that more people looked up to him. Arguably, Jasper was more handsome than Riley, definitely he was more fit.
But as Riley looked into the blond man's eyes, he recognized that he was just as scared. If their lips met this time, things would change. What that meant for each of them individually, and them as a pair, neither could tell.
Jasper was leaving it up to him to make the choice for both of them.
Closing his eyes, Riley pushed back every doubt and listened to his instincts. He tugged on Jasper's tie, and the blond man obeyed his silent direction, tilting his head and pressing his lips to Riley's.
The instant their lips met, Riley knew he'd made the right choice. It was a risk, and whatever they were about to get into wasn't going to be easy, but even in those first few seconds, it was already worth every moment of heartache he might face in the future.
When they were both breathless, their hands tangled up in each others dress shirts and tugging on ties, Jasper broke their kiss. "Take me to your bed," he growled, and anything Riley might have said was lost, lust instantly clouding every coherent thought in his head.
He nodded, licking his lips as he tried to catch his breath. "Okay," he agreed breathlessly, standing.
Jasper stood with him, his hands cupping Riley's face as he leaned forward, kissing him again sweetly, his tongue lapping. It reminded Riley of the first time they kissed and the way the other man had murmured, "sweet," against his skin.
Riley shivered, anticipation and want mingling with something distinctly more saccharine than that first kiss had been. Everything before had that certain edge of desperation - Jasper trying to outrun his fears and his perceived weakness. It was good - so good - but that was why the air had been thick with a bittersweet after taste when all was said and done.
This wasn't the same at all. Riley laughed breathlessly as Jasper let him go again only to wrap his arms around his waist. The blond man nuzzled his neck, kissing the sensitive skin at the nape while he pushed Riley forward, stumbling every few steps.
In his bedroom, Jasper spun him around again, walking him backward until Riley felt his bed at the back of his legs. He sat, staring up at the other man, and his breath caught.
Jasper was looking down at him with an inexplicable tenderness, almost as awed and thankful as Riley felt. The blond man raised his hand slowly, drawing the back of his knuckles down one of Riley's cheek, then the other. He traced the tip of his nose and ran the pad of his finger over Riley's full lips.
Swallowing thickly, Riley moved his fingers to the bottom button of Jasper's dress shirt, unbuttoning as he stared up. It was strange to communicate so silently, but it was amazing how many words he heard in their quiet actions. There was such affection in the way he smiled, threading his fingers through Riley's hair as the younger man unbuttoned and unzipped.
Riley ran his hands down Jasper's chest over his open shirt. He felt unusually brave. He knew well enough that vulnerability wasn't easy for a man like Jasper. Being a little bolder in bed was the least he could do, even though he felt hopelessly out of his depth.
When he stood again, they came together for another kiss. Riley pretended his hands weren't shaking as he pushed Jasper's pants down along with his boxers, feeling his hot length brush his fingers.
Moaning into his mouth, Jasper took over. How his fingers could be so deft, working the buttons of his shirt with ease even as his tongue urged Riley's mouth open, Riley couldn't quite understand. His kisses were thoroughly energetic. Riley wouldn't have had the presence of mind to keep up a kiss like this and undress a man at the same time.
"Do you have condoms?" Jasper asked, kissing a trail up to Riley's ear.
Riley huffed, trying to wrap his head around those words. His mind, among other things, was thick with lust. "I thought you were always prepared."
Jasper snickered, and kissed him sweetly again. "Jacket is the other room," he rumbled, placing kiss after kiss along Riley's cheekbone. "I'm really not in the mood to leave."
Swallowing most of a groan, Riley tried to think. "Nightstand," he finally murmured.
"Perfect." Jasper grinned, tugging Riley's shirt off his shoulders. Hooking his fingers in Riley's belt loops, the blond man tugged him forward so their bare chests brushed as they kissed. He pulled his pants down and off so they were both nude, cocks bumping. Jasper spun him around, and Riley gave a little gasp, wondering if it would be unattractive to beg.
He was so ready.
Jasper's hands were at his waist tracing small circles. He bent, kissing the side of Riley's neck, teasing with his teeth until the younger man whimpered with need. "Please," Riley whispered.
"Lay down," Jasper directed.
Complying, Riley first knelt and then laid forward on the bed, cradling his head in his arms. It was slightly nerve wracking, lying there exposed, but the bed dipped only a moment later, and he felt Jasper's warm hand flat on the small of his back.
Again, Jasper's touch was slow and tender. Almost too slow. Riley craved more, harder, but he also didn't want to ruin the moment. As much as he wanted Jasper inside him, now, the build up was its own kind of ecstasy.
There was Jasper, running his tongue up Riley's spine, eliciting little whines from the back of his throat.
There was the way the blond man let his weight press Riley into the bed as he reached across him, fumbling through the bric a brac in the nightstand drawer until he pulled out a condom and the lube Riley had there.
Riley sighed and moaned as Jasper entered him first with a finger, spreading the lube as he nipped lightly at his shoulder, and then with his thick length.
This was how lovers spoke, Riley realized, with their bodies and the sounds of their pleasure.
The way Jasper's lips brushed the shell of his ear as he moved inside him was intimate and wonderful, a titillation Riley could not have predicted. When he was close, Jasper buried his head at Riley's neck, his mouth open and breath hot and wet against his skin. He threaded their fingers together, squeezing tightly as he worked in and out of him at a fevered pace.
The way Jasper cried his name, muffled as it was with his lips on his skin, was one of the best moments of Riley's life.
Riley groaned, trying to figure out what had woken him from such a sound, deep sleep.
A cell phone was ringing close by. Something urgent. Maybe work at this time of night.
He tried to move but found himself anchored. There was a disgruntled groan of protest, and Riley woke further, remembering.
If he had to put words to what had happened that night, Riley could only think to say that he and Jasper had fucked themselves stupid before passing out cold in each others' arms.
He smiled widely and wiggled again, trying to remember where he'd put his phone. This time Jasper growled in his sleep, holding him only tighter.
"Jasper," he whispered, realizing abruptly that it was not his ringtone going off. "Your phone. It might be important."
Again Jasper groaned but he blinked, trying to wake up. "What?" he asked dumbly.
Riley had to laugh at the confused expression on his face. "Your phone is ringing. It might be important," he reiterated.
"Take a message," Jasper mumbled, attempting to go back to cuddling.
"Not your secretary," Riley admonished, rolling over and getting up. He ignored Jasper's groans as he looked around the room, trying to figure out where the sounds were coming from. "It must be important," he muttered. "They've called like three times now."
Finding the cell phone in Jasper's pants, he tossed it on the bed while the blond man dug the heels of palms into his eyes. He blinked blearily at the phone. "It's Dr. Ivanova," he muttered with a frown.
"I can..." Riley gestured to the door.
Jasper just shook his head. "No, this won't take long. Come back to bed."
It was amazing and slightly surreal to hear Jasper speak those words. He climbed back into bed, laying his head on his folded hands.
As Jasper spoke, he ran his fingers absently through Riley's hair. Riley would have purred if he could.
He had almost been lulled back to sleep when he picked up on the tone of Jasper's voice.
"I'm sorry I didn't call tonight, Doctor. I was otherwise occupied," Jasper said tightly. "But besides that... I think... Well, I don't think that this is going to work."
Riley's heart fell down into his stomach when he realized what was going on.
Letting Jasper know Irina's connection to the men who'd hurt him was a mistake. He'd been tactless. Careless.
Jasper hung up with a sigh, laying back down. He tilted his head, looking at Riley curiously.
"What are you thinking about, looking so serious?"
"I'm sorry," Riley murmured. "I shouldn't have told you about her."
"Yeah, you should have."
"No. I shouldn't have. I told you it didn't matter, but I understand why it does to you. And it's a set back." Riley frowned. "You don't need that."
"I don't need..." Jasper started to snap and then slumped back on the pillows. "Fuck," he said, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "That's... that's going to be hard."
Jasper threw an arm up, his expression wry. "Admitting I need help," he said softly.
"We both have our things," Riley observed, watching Jasper closely, waiting for him to bolt.
Jasper breathed in and out, deep and slow. He opened his eyes and when he looked at Riley he was smiling. "If you can be patient with me, we can figure this out," he said quietly.
Riley felt a grin tug at his lips. "I um... You know, I take a little patience, too."
Jasper laid his hand between them, palm up and open in an offer. "I can be patient, when I try."
Riley threaded their fingers together. "Yeah. Me, too."
A/N: I am more than likely going to do a futuretake, but for now, I mark this closed.
This fic could not have been accomplished without the love and support of plummy, jfka06, jadedandboring, and barburella. And all of you, of course, who make writing so worthwhile.
If you're so inclined, there's a lot of slash on my docket. All of it Jasper centric. I know for sure there's going to be a Jasper/Emmett fic called Notes on the Fridge that I'll be publishing shortly, probably after Wicked is complete. There is also a Jasper/Edward and a... a... a JasperCarlisleOMGWhoAmI I am almost certain to do.