Crescent Moon

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Prompt: Jasper's scars cover his body. His mate (slash pairing) wants to love on his scars, claim his scars, so they become representative of something beautiful. Biting them to create new scars is totally acceptable. Mate can be any vamp but preferably not Edward.

Rating: Rated M

Warning: In addition to lots of vampy slash, this story includes biting and scarification (an ancient form of body modification that involves inflicting designed and planned wounds to the body with the intention of leaving scars for aesthetic reasons). This is not cutting (a form of self-injury), but it may be a trigger nonetheless.

Disclaimer: This work of fanfiction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. (http : / / creative commons . org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

A/N: This is a very AU tale of what happened after Jasper's escape from Maria, told from his rescuer's POV. I am very grateful to the OP for the prompt and I hope you enjoy the story, even though it may not be exactly what you had in mind. Thanks also to TruceOver, who, as always, added depth and richness to my words, and to Conversed, who provided critical life support as a pre-reader.


1895

I met Peter and Charlotte as they crossed the grasslands of eastern Colorado. The seasons were changing and I was heading south, as I often did, to enjoy the warmth of milder climes while winter locked the north in its frozen embrace.

They were fleeing northward, having escaped the imprisonment of a vicious vampire named Maria. At first they were wary of me, believing me to be like those they had left behind. Having never known any other way of life, it took some time for them to accept my offer of hospitality – a shared campfire and an evening of fellowship – before moving on.

They kept me bewitched for many an hour, telling the stories of their change and their daring escape. I too had never known anything much beyond my own nomadic ways, and I sat by the fire, numb with horror, as they described the grisly practices of this vile oppressor.

Then they told me about Maria's general, about his military past, his loyalty to her, and the unbearable toll it was now taking on him due to his extraordinary empathic gift. Disgust and hatred filled their voices as they spoke of how Maria used that gift, a gift that to me sounded more like a curse. They told me how he had let them escape, and how they in turn longed to free him from that terrible place, aware that he was beginning to lose control over his gift. Peter was gravely concerned about his friend, fearful for his sanity if he remained much longer in the clutches of that despot.

I was immediately drawn to their incredible tale of this powerful, empathic commander who felt and manipulated everyone's emotions. I recognized a kindred spirit in their description of him as a fellow soldier who had once fought for what he believed in. I imagined a man that I had never met, standing strong before an army that wasn't his, drowning in newborns' confusion, pain, and blood lust day after day with no reprieve.

I understood Peter and Charlotte's dismay at having to leave their friend behind. The loss of my Maker so soon after my change still filled me with sorrow. Since his death, I had encountered very few other immortals, and then only for short periods of time. My existence as a solitary wanderer had been marked by such losses.

Perhaps they too had a gift – for storytelling, or persuasion – because I couldn't help but respond to their woeful tale. And when we parted company a few hours later, I did something quite unexpected: I offered to go and bring him out of bondage.

Although every ounce of good sense in my body told me that I should turn around and head north with them, I couldn't resist the call to arms to help this fellow warrior declare his independence and live free.

Jasper.

His name was like a whisper, filling my heart, calling out to me...


The first bite was unintended.

My one-man incursion into Mexico went far better than I anticipated. Maria's camp seemed almost deserted, its defenses too poorly manned to pose much of a threat to me. Later, I learned the reason: Maria had led a band of newborns on a raid to the north around Nuevo Laredo, while Jasper remained behind to begin training a new group. With so many newcomers around, it was easy to infiltrate the camp, and it didn't take long for me to locate his cabin.

It wasn't so much that the cabin was demarcated by any special signs of rank or other insignia, but rather I was struck by the ripples of sorrow that emanated from the interior, nearly bringing me to my knees. I called to him from outside and was granted permission to enter.

He was beautiful.

He stood tall – as tall as I was – and his hair fell nearly to his shoulders in soft flaxen waves. The lantern behind him created a golden halo around his head. I couldn't help smiling as I stared at his deep-set eyes and well-formed mouth, and I felt drawn to him like a moth to a flame. My silent admiration came back to me in tattered shreds of confusion, bristling with wariness as he waited for me to speak.

Once I told him why I was there, anger and disbelief radiated from him in waves, and I thought I might drown until I began to respond with stubborn insistence, as if swimming upstream against a strong current. When he allowed himself to begin feeling the first glimmer of hope, it was as if storm clouds had been swept away and distant stars became visible in the dark night.

Nonetheless, it was a heavy heart that he carried with him as we departed, a burden that slowed our escape. The pale sliver of a crescent moon, just beginning to wax toward fullness, cast the chilly desert in an eerie light as we angled away from the camp, traveling east toward Matamoros in an effort to avoid any contact with Maria's soldiers as they returned to Monterrey.

He didn't say much at first, other than "Thank you," but I felt his tension buffeting us both. Although we traveled unmolested through the silent desert, there was for many miles an itchiness between my shoulder blades, as if someone had a gun sight focused on my back – or his.

We crossed the Rio Grande into Texas two days later. We weren't moving as fast as we might have if we'd both been at the peak of our abilities. Although his eyes were ruby red from a recent feeding, I knew that I had depleted my reserves in my haste to reach him, and I feared that my flagging energies would leave us both vulnerable to attack if Maria decided to follow.

We found a bend in the river, with a sheltered spot for a campfire. Although we didn't need such things to warm us, I had always enjoyed the dancing, flickering firelight and the contemplative mood it evoked. I quickly built a small fire and left him there, then began my search for sustenance.

Eventually I came upon the ramshackle campsite of a feeble old miner who was snoring loudly, lost in whiskey-fueled dreams of the ever-elusive mother lode. The man moaned and thrashed as I gave myself up to the blood lust.

I had nearly forgotten about my companion until he approached me from behind, his scent upwind.

Having always hunted alone during the century since my change, I reacted violently when I suddenly became aware of his presence. I later learned that he had come to ask if he could share my prey, as we did so often after that strange night, but it was too late. I had already turned my head and snapped at him, my teeth coming down hard on the hand he had so recklessly extended toward my back.

Once I realized that it was him, I immediately freed his hand, mortified that I had attacked the very man I had come to rescue. He stood perfectly still for a moment, staring at his hand with a bemused expression on his face while he considered when it would be safe to move again.

Unsure of how all this would play out, I couldn't help but growl at him as he carefully circled around until he stood before me, chuckling a little, just out of reach. I was still clutching the nearly dead miner in one arm, feeling protective of my prey even as I considered offering the body to him in atonement.

His next reaction shocked me almost as much as biting him had. To my astonishment, he apologized for startling me, then flipped up the serape that he wore and started to roll up his shirtsleeve above the hand that I had bitten.

"You're not the first, brother," he said in a low voice as he slowly stepped forward and extended his arm toward me, "and you probably won't be the last."

My bite was clearly visible on the meaty part of his hand between thumb and forefinger, dripping with the miner's blood and glistening with venom. Overwhelmed with remorse, I gently lifted his hand in mine and brought it to my mouth, licking away the blood and venom, and sealing the ragged punctures made by my sharp teeth.

He shuddered, and I was strangely moved by a powerful feeling of – what was it? forgiveness? gratitude? – that washed over me as I tended to his wound.

Then my eyes took in what he had been trying to show me. The shock of my unintended attack had shaken me considerably, but I finally understood what he meant.

The exposed skin of his forearm was covered with scars, a welter of criss-crossing bite marks, some quite old and faded, others relatively new, still gleaming with a pearly opalescence that outlined every tooth mark with perfect clarity.

"Newborns."

I understood then that this was part of the terrible price he'd had to pay for serving as the commander of Maria's army.


The second bite was almost as much of a shock as the first.

Once across the border, we slowed our pace a bit as we traveled along the coast toward his hometown, seeking sustenance and getting to know each other. We argued about battle tactics, debated the nature and purpose of immortality, and shared our knowledge of the vampire world. Although he still suffered from guilt and self-loathing about the countless lives he had destroyed, I had a far different sense of him as a man of duty, honor, and loyalty. Slowly, as if he were walking out of a fog, he began to look at the world around him in a different light, as the reality of his freedom became more substantial and less dreamlike to him.

He didn't remember much about his human life, he told me, but he did recall the name of the town: Houston. It was the place he'd been heading for on that ill-fated night when Maria and her companions had stopped him on the road and changed his life forever.

It was just after sunset when we arrived at the cemetery, and the full moon was rising, huge and low on the horizon. I sat down on a marble bench and watched as Jasper made his way along the rows, looking for the Whitlock family memorial. Finally, he paused and stood silently in one spot, his hands covering his face. I felt his sorrow emanating from him in waves. Being an orphan when I was apprenticed to the man who had turned out to be my Maker, I had no memory of human parents. Nonetheless, I grieved for his loss.

He dropped his hands and looked over at me. We stayed like that for a long moment, staring at each other, taking in the magnitude of feeling. I sat there, wanting to spare him this pain – yet another reminder of what he had lost – but I could not wish that things had turned out differently for him. I was too selfish for that, too enraptured with being here with him now.

There it was again: that sense of gratitude I had felt from him before, now tinged with something else that I couldn't name. However, my body understood perfectly, and I felt a tightening in my loins that increased as he moved swiftly to close the distance between us, until he stood directly before me where I sat, smitten by being in such close proximity to him.

I reached for the hand that I had bitten, rubbing one thumb across the shiny new scar, then turning it so that I could see his palm.

"I've heard tell," I began in a low voice, "that palm readers call this the Mount of Mars. It shows struggle, and endurance." I continued rubbing across the underside of the scar in slow strokes, then bent to gently kiss it. "And this..." I kissed the older scars on his flesh between thumb and wrist. "This is the Mount of Venus, symbol of love and sensuality."

He shivered and myriad emotions swirled wildly around us. I hunkered down to weather the storm, hoping that I could be an anchor for him, a haven.

"She laughed." His voice broke as anguish overtook him. "She said that my scars were ugly – that I was ugly – and that she was the only one who would ever tolerate my ugliness." He closed his eyes as his shame washed over us both.

I looked up at his pale, beautiful face, luminous in the moonlight, and I would have wept if that were possible. Instead, I wrapped my arms around his waist, pulling him toward me and pressing my cheek against his body. I felt the taut muscles of his abdomen beneath his clothing, and took in his heady scent – a mixture of woodsmoke from our campfires and the sweet musk of his manliness.

All of these sensations intensified when I reached up with one hand and stroked the buttons of his pants, a tantalizing euphoria rising – from him, from me, volleying back and forth between us, building with each passing second – as I felt him harden beneath my touch.

"Please," I whispered.

I lifted the edge of the dusty serape he wore and he pulled it up and over his head, dropping it behind him. I slowly unbuttoned his vest, pushing it open until he let it slide off his shoulders and down his arms, landing on top of the serape. His suspenders were next, left hanging from his waistband as I tugged his shirttails out and slid my hands underneath, feeling his smooth muscles and the irregular ridges of scars – more scars than I had imagined.

He shivered when I touched him. At first, I felt a fistful of emotion – a brick wall of objection. Or was it rejection? Had I pushed too hard, too quickly? I looked up at him questioningly, surprised to see fear mixed with wanting in his eyes.

"I never –" he began, then paused, collecting his thoughts. He shuddered as I started to unbutton his pants, his hard length pressed against the fabric.

"I saw this once," he began again in a low voice. "Two newborn males lusted after each other almost as much as they craved human blood. I felt their desire, but I never understood it..." His hands stroked my hair, pulling off the leather thong that tied it back. "...Until now," he added, and I felt his fear ebb away as curiosity – and something deeply sensual – overtook it.

I pulled his pants and undergarment down to his knees and watched with fascination as his hard cock sprang free, standing nearly vertical, with a clear droplet issuing from the opening. I kissed his belly, his thighs, and then licked up along the vein and around the head, taking it into my mouth with a moan.

With both hands, he held my head still for a moment as my mouth engulfed him, our eyes locked. Then I began to flick my tongue along the underside while sucking him deeper, caught up in the emotions and sensations that ricocheted between us.

He groaned when I took my mouth off his cock in order to taste his balls, taking each into my mouth, relishing the exquisite feelings that he shared with me as he gave himself over completely to physical sensation.

I was kissing and licking the junction of his leg and scrotum with my hand wrapped around his cock, stroking vigorously, when he spoke again.

"Bite me there," he whispered, shocking me with his request.

"What?" Startled, I wasn't sure that I had heard him correctly.

"Bite me," he repeated with a groan as I tried to make sense of what he was asking. "Hard."

"Where?"

He touched the place that I had been licking. "Here," he said. "Right here."

I felt a low growl rise from my chest as I contemplated what he was offering me.

"Do it. Do it now." He said this in a commanding voice that sent ripples of pleasure surging through my body as I moved to follow his order, licking the pale skin, then kissing and sucking it as he gasped in anticipation. I opened my jaw to grasp the smooth flesh where his inner thigh met the outer edge of his scrotum, then took it between my teeth and bit down hard, tasting the venom that seeped from the wound.

His cries were a combination of agony and ecstasy, filling the silence of the cemetery, giving voice to his impending release. I took him into my mouth again as his hips began a vigorous thrusting, and I felt the tip of his cock hit the back of my throat as his hands gripped my head. His movements stopped suddenly as he held me in place, pressed up against him, filling my senses completely with the smell and taste and feel of him as his cock, hard and throbbing, pulsed for long seconds, his venomous essence filling my mouth until I swallowed it all.

I felt his bliss as if it were my own, ignoring my very hard cock, which was trapped beneath layers of wool and cotton, clamoring for a similar release. I continued to suck and lave his cock with all the tender affection that I could offer him, then licked at the wound I had left on his body, rejoicing in the knowledge that I had been able to give him a moment such as this, after all he had endured for so long. His hands stroked my hair as I licked the last bit of venom around the bite.

My bite.

There were no others on this secret part of his body, and I was profoundly moved that he had desired for me to mark him in this way.

Afterward, he pulled up his garments and sat down beside me as the moon continued its trek across the night sky. I contemplated the strange existence that had brought me to this moment, as if fate had decreed it, then wondered if there was some way I could leave him for a while in order to relieve my own desperate need. His sense of satiation was now mixed with a strange shyness. Perhaps he needed some time alone as well.

Then he turned toward me, took my face into his hands, and kissed me. It was a tender kiss at first, tentative and curious, a man's first kiss of another man, discovering the hard mouth opening up into the intricate dance of lips and tongues that only fueled the fire that was slowly building between us again.

"May I?" he whispered as his hand slid down to my cock, swollen with need but still constrained beneath my clothes.

"Oh yes," I breathed. "Please, Jasper. Touch me."

He unfastened my pants and reached inside. He smiled as his warm hand wrapped around my throbbing cock and began to explore it. I watched his hand – the very hand that I had bitten – as it pulled the foreskin up over the head, then pushed it back down after collecting the venom that seeped from the slit, using it to lubricate and speed up his movements even more. The scar from my bite shone in the moonlight, and there was a rawness to his skin where the underside of the scar rubbed against me, which served only to increase my ardor.

I moaned, then added my hand to show him the way. He sighed and leaned his head on my shoulder, watching our hands sliding up and down with increasing speed.

"May I?" he asked again, then bent to take the head into his mouth without waiting for my reply.

"Oh yes," I moaned as my hips came up off the bench in search of more. I could scarcely believe that his beautiful mouth was on my cock, his tongue circling the head and exploring the slit before taking me in deeper, nipping and licking and sucking as he went lower. At the same time, he continued to caress it around the base, then reached to take my balls into his hand, gently stroking and squeezing them, evoking more moans.

"Jasper, I'm – I'm coming," I warned, as I ran my fingers through his hair. He hummed in response, and with those vibrations, the venom surged out of my cock and into his waiting mouth. He spluttered and choked a bit, but quickly recovered, moaning as he swallowed around me, then licked me clean.

He sat back up and kissed me again, a quiet joy radiating from both of us. The shadow that had followed him up from Mexico, darkening his spirit, seemed to abate – for these few moments, at least. I could taste myself on his lips and wondered if I would ever get enough of his kisses or the taste of his venom on my lips. I had always known the dangers of venom – Jasper's scarred body proved it – but I had never realized that our very essence, the poison running through our veins, could be so addictive.

Perhaps it was just Jasper. He made me want more.

As the first mourning doves began to coo, heralding the coming dawn, we heard the groundskeeper open the gate in the distance and, after arranging our clothing, we departed from our private bower of discovery and passion. As we left the cemetery behind us, I felt a deep gratitude for that fateful day when I had met Peter and Charlotte on the road, and I knew that I wanted to be with this beautiful man for as long as he would have me.


The third time it happened, even he was shocked.

After leaving Houston, we made our way to New Orleans. I was anxious to show him the sights and sounds of this famous – and famously decadent – city, and help him learn ways of coping with our natural cravings while we moved inconspicuously among our prey. We found a comfortable apartment on the Rue Royale and took in the nightlife, never lacking for nourishment among the dregs of humanity we found around the port.

One night, as the moon waned, Jasper bid me follow him to the docks. I felt shards of excitement splintering all around him, as if he held a great secret close to his chest. Neither of us was in need of sustenance, so I was curious to know what this was all about.

Soon he pointed out a small man whose origins were clearly somewhere in the Orient. What looked, at first glance, like a decorative shirt turned out to be something else. He wore no shirt. Instead, a dragon was wrapped around his torso, the head poised to bite the nipple above his heart, the tail disappearing behind his back and down into his pants.

I was familiar with tattoos, but it was not ink that decorated the little man. I turned to Jasper with a questioning look. He held a finger to his lips as we followed the man back to a ship with Japanese markings. The man passed a watchman and went on board. We boarded separately, moving too quickly for even the watchful eyes of the guard to see, and went belowdecks.

The little man was nowhere to be seen. Once again Jasper gestured for silence as he beckoned me to follow him down a long corridor. I had the sense that there were few humans on board.

At last we came to a door that had a porthole window, much like the ones on the exterior of the ship. Jasper stopped in front of the door.

"We cannot go in. There will be blood, much blood, and it's best for all concerned if we keep this thick door between us. But I wanted you to see this."

I stepped up to the round window and looked inside. Clearly this was the ship's galley, where sailors normally took their meals. On this night, however, a man was lying face down on the table, stripped to the waist, with strong cords around his wrists that were then attached to rings built into the wall at one end of the table. On his back was a tracing of a coiled, striped snake, its mouth open and fangs dripping with venom at the man's right shoulder blade.

Intrigued, I watched as the little man proceeded to take out a very sharp knife and make a series of cuts, outlining the stripes, then peeling off the skin of every other stripe, from the snake's rattling tail to the base of its hooded head. Each strip of skin was about one inch high and two inches long. The man shrieked when the first strips were pulled off his back, but his shrieks soon subsided into moans as the pile of small, curling pieces of pink flesh slowly grew on the table next to his body.

The little man with the knife stopped periodically to dab at the blood that flowed from the man's back. It took the utmost effort on my part, as well as Jasper's, not to burst through the door and feast upon the bleeding man and his knife-wielding companion. I knew we would have to leave soon if anyone on the ship were to survive.

At last the man was finished. He cleaned his knife by wiping it off on the other man's shirt, then came out into the corridor. The blood-scented air wafting out of the galley nearly did me in. My head was pounding with a strong no, no, no, as I felt my resolve begin to waver. It was as if we had been handed a plate of the finest delicacies, but then turned up our noses and walked away...

By this time, Jasper had a hot gleam in his eye as he passed a bag of coins to the strange little man. He grabbed my arm and pulled me roughly down the corridor and off the ship. I could feel his mounting excitement as I went along with him, noticing that we were traveling away from the city and wondering what would happen next.

We followed along the banks of the Mississippi River until we came to a deserted plantation house, a mansion that had clearly been in ruins for decades, ever since the end of the War between the States. Once inside, he led me up the once-elegant stairway, now littered with trash and dusty from disuse, and took me into a huge bedroom, empty of everything except a frayed old carpet, but still echoing its former splendor.

He lit a fire in the fireplace, took a knife from his pocket and set it on the mantel, then turned to me.

"There's more to what we did in the cemetery, isn't there?" He punctuated his question with a kiss. "You would have done more if I had not been so... inexperienced... wouldn't you?" he asked as he began removing my garments.

I nodded.

"I saw it in Maria's camp, as I told you before," he continued, "but I couldn't imagine why two men would want to... join together in that way." He folded my clothing and piled it up on the floor, making a pillow, then gestured to me to lay down and rest my head upon it.

"Now I know. And I want what you want." He took off his own clothes, making a second pile next to the first.

I stared at him in astonishment as I saw for the first time the full measure of what he had suffered.

Scars covered his body like the fallen leaves that litter the forest floor in autumn. There was hardly a square inch of his skin that was left unmarked. What I had seen on his arm was duplicated on every other limb, on his torso and back. I tried not to think of the pain that each scar represented, the agony that he had suffered during all those years with Maria. I couldn't help but cry out in dismay, only to find myself quickly blanketed in the soothing warmth of his concern.

"That's all in the past," he said in a low voice. "The only pain I feel now is your distress about it."

He joined me on the carpet, pulling me close, his desire wrapping around my mind like the heat of an endless summer day. I had known the goodness of a man's skin against mine on more than one occasion since I was changed, but nothing surpassed the bliss I felt the first time our bodies touched, our chests sliding together like a kiss, our cocks rubbing in a holy friction that rapidly brought them to full hardness.

And then he kissed me. Unlike those exploratory kisses in the Houston moonlight, these were the kisses of a man on fire. Our hands roamed freely, taking in all the glorious sensations of muscle and skin, as our hips became increasingly insistent, pressing and grinding, making known the want, the need.

For hours, it seemed, we learned each other's bodies. Jasper's scars gleamed in the flickering firelight, giving him an otherworldly glow atop his pale beauty. An urgent desire for more was increasing, and I was pleased to feel him responsive to my fingers as they caressed his buttocks, then descended into the cleft, seeking that secret place where they circled and circled until he cried out for more. Gratefully, I rubbed one finger in the clear liquid that flowed from his cock, then gently pushed it inside him.

The warmth made me gasp. I didn't know if I would ever understand the conundrum that made us feel hard and cold to a human touch, yet left us pliant and warm for each other, but I would not question such contrasts if they allowed me to know this beautiful man in such a way.

He lifted his hips, reaching for more, and I soon added another finger, loving the stretch and heat and silky smoothness as the lust built up between us ever more intensely. However, as much as I loved to touch him in this way, my cock was now aching with anticipation and I knew I had waited for as long as I could. Withdrawing my fingers, I pushed his legs up toward his shoulders and rose above him, aligning myself with the only place on earth I wanted to be, and as we looked deeply into each other's eyes, I pressed slowly inside him.

My eyes rolled up into my head as I tried to absorb the overwhelming sensations bombarding me when I pushed deeper into the hot, tight core of his body. When he groaned and pulled me closer to him, I knew I had reached the place that would give us both the greatest pleasure.

We stayed that way for a long moment, as close as we could ever be. He reached down and wrapped his hand around his cock, which only added more fuel to the flames that already burned so brightly between us.

It was as if a signal shot had been fired and I began to thrust in earnest. Never before had I felt like this with anyone, not even with my Maker. Never had I dreamed that all of my deepest feelings could be revealed to and reciprocated by another. My hips moved in synchrony with my mind as it uttered one syllable: more, more, more, more..

I felt his lips as they kissed my throat, my neck, and suddenly I was seized with an urgent desire.

"Jasper," I gasped. "Please bite me. Right there."

His mouth was at the juncture of my neck and my shoulder. He stopped all movement as his shock reverberated between us. He took in a deep breath, as if sampling the air for any traces of doubt. Finding none, he wasted no further time inquiring aloud as to the sincerity of my plea. Nor did I spare a moment to question whose desire was being met. It made no difference; I wanted this as much as he did.

He bit down hard.

I might have thought that the shock of the bite would have distracted me from my carnal desires, but that was not at all the case. I felt his cock throbbing between us as he bit me, and it triggered my own release as I pounded into him relentlessly until I felt a delirium I had never known as my venom filled his body.

I felt his teeth withdraw from my skin, the tender lapping of his tongue as he sealed the wound. I bent down to kiss him as he gazed into my eyes, overwhelming us both with feelings of satiation, possession. My cock slid out of his body, slippery from my venomous release, and I leaned down to lick his essence from where it had landed on his chest.

It was then that I noticed the fine tracery of lines that I hadn't seen before, a dark contrast to the pale-within-pale of the scars on his chest and abdomen.

"What's this?" I asked, then felt a different kind of need radiating from him.

"You saw what he did," he said. "Now I want you to do it to me."

I stared at him in disbelief, my mind returning to the other two occasions I had marked him, the horror and regret of the first time, and the feral possessiveness of the second. He stood up to get the knife from the mantelpiece, then sat down next to me again.

He held out the knife, and I took it, while studying the new lines etched on his body. With the addition of those lines, the welter of scars became something else: The chaos of waves in a stormy sea crossed his abdomen, the spume flying off in stiff ocean gales. His chest became the sky, with a crescent moon high above the clouds. It reminded me of an exhibition of Japanese seascapes I had seen in San Francisco. With one finger, I traced the moon, wondering how I was going to be able to do this to him.

It wasn't as if such practices were unknown to me. When I lived among the tribes of the Eastern woodlands, I had seen how arrowheads and porcupine quills were used in sacred ceremonies to etch upon the skin. However, I had never been the one marking someone in that way.

He took my hand and kissed it. "This is how the moon looked when you came for me," he said in a voice filled with emotion. "When you saved me."

Cutting him was excruciating at first, the blasts of his pain nearly paralyzing me, convincing me that I should stop. But he held my hand in an iron grip and insisted that I continue. Gradually, just as I'd seen with the sailor on the ship, I felt his emotions changing, a mild euphoria emanating from him in waves.

Like the waves now emerging on his body.

Fortunately, he had realized that knife cuts on the body of an immortal would quickly heal and disappear, so he had me rub my venom into each cut, simulating the effects of a bite so that it would leave a new scar.

The most difficult part of the whole process, once I understood the depth of his desire for this transformation, was the disposal of the skin that had been removed. Unlike the bloodied strips that had been piled up on the table next to the sailor, curling as they dried, Jasper's skin was still living tissue, seeking to be reunited with its host. The first time I noticed a discarded strip of flesh that had begun moving toward Jasper's body, I nearly sliced through his abdomen. The hardest thing I've ever had to do in this strange immortal existence was to throw those pieces of Jasper into the fireplace, a horrifying reminder of what a living flame could do to us.

The day was far advanced by the time I finished. Jasper gazed at me with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. Still naked, we walked together down the grand hallway that connected all the rooms on the floor. At the end, remarkably, was an unbroken mirror. Although warped with the passage of time, it still showed us our reflection as we approached it. The closer we came, the more joy I felt emanating from him. The shadows that haunted him had receded for the moment, replaced, however briefly, by a sense of peace.

For a long time, we stood before the mirror in silence, marveling at the transformation rendered onto his skin, until at last he kissed my cheek and spoke.

"Thank you, Garrett."


A/N: Those of you who know me probably aren't the least bit surprised to learn that Jasper's rescuer was Garrett. I wrote three drabbles about this rescue during Round 4 of the Twilight Twenty-Five in Wanderer: The Garrett Chronicles, and I immediately saw this prompt as an opportunity to expand on the story alluded to in those drabbles. (For the curious among you, that would be Chapters 9, 11, and 15 [Trap, Return, and Stolen, respectively].) Also, my version of Garrett's change, and the loss of his Maker, are described in Chapter 1 of the Chronicles (Wander).

Thanks for reading!