I own the plot, Stephenie Meyer dreamed up Edward and his entourage.
This is a little sad and sometimes life just sucks. With that said, love is grand, wonderful and unfortunately something that can be lost.
Chartwilightmom and AnnaLund are my faithful pre-readers and Dazzled Eyes22 is the woman, who has a lot of patience for my stories. Thank you all, lovely ladies.
Life in Flashbacks
Jasper rolled over in bed, before reluctantly opening his eyes, and checking the time. It was 4:30 AM. He sighed in defeat, knowing it was useless to even try to go back to sleep. It wasn't going to happen.
Blindly, he fumbled for his glasses before hitting the switch for the light by his bed. He was cold and the bed never seemed warm enough anymore. Well, at least he didn't seem to get warm no matter how many layers of clothes he slept in. Pajama pants, an undershirt, and a long sleeved t-shirt all seemed to have just as much effect as no clothes at all.
He sat up and raked his hand through his overgrown hair. On his cheeks, he felt the ridiculously long stubble. At least, he managed to shave… once in a while.
The coffee maker was snarling in the kitchen, and sucking up those last drops of water, while Jasper was in the bathroom running the razor over his skin. That was one task down. It was more than he could manage to do some days. During those heavy and cruel days, he didn't even get out of bed. He just couldn't.
Pouring a cup of coffee, he checked his phone. He had five missed calls from last night. He always kept it on silence to avoid the sympathy calls that he didn't know how to handle, or that threatened his feebly thin self-control. Scrolling though them, he saw that Bella had called as usual, then Alice, his mother, and two calls from work. He didn't get back to any of them.
Walking through the house, he went to his office and sat down in front of the computer. He turned on the TV behind him, and left a news channel blaring as company. He fired up his email and logged into his only refuge from reality. It was here that he spent most of his hours cleaning up messes for people when their computer or software had nosedived into blackness. Jasper could fix just about anything. In some ways, it had its perks being a nerd. No one ever questioned his obsession with computers. Instead, they merely accepted that a man as bone pale as him with heavy glasses was a geek and didn't get out much.
Today was a good day. He had one hundred and fifty unanswered emails. Good thing that he worked from home, because it was the only reason he hadn't lost his job.
He skipped breakfast. In the beginning, he found it served one purpose. When he was starving, the ache in his chest dulled. That the numbers on the scale had dropped considerably didn't bother him. He was alone anyway.
Around 10 AM, he was on his fifth cup of coffee, but his head started to feel woozy. He quickly made a sandwich of dry bread and peanut butter, not really caring what he ate. He just knew he needed a little bit in his system to cope. Chewing slowly, Jasper stood in front of the sleek black piano staring at the pristine, clean top where two pictures were placed face down. He couldn't bear to see the couple in them. It didn't exist anymore. However, he had a hope deep in his gut that maybe someday, he would be able to let the frames stand tall again.
His chest ached and it was hard to breathe for a moment.
Taking a small bite, he carefully lifted one of the frames peeking at the couple. They were in love, so much in love that it hurt. Jasper quickly released the frame, so it dropped back onto the piano like his fingers had been burned.
The food in this mouth turned to gravel and he couldn't even swallow it. He spit it out into the trashcan and went to bed. He clutched the pillow to his chest, hoping it would ease the agony. Jasper was very much aware that he was a pathetic excuse for a man, but he couldn't seem to find his way out of this maze of darkness.
He closed his eyes, hoping the insomnia had taken a hike, just for an hour or so. He dozed off, not really sleeping, but more like he was catatonic.
"I'm glad you came to see me." His voice was dreary and his eyes dejected.
"It's not that I don't want to see you," Jasper murmured, barely being able to look at Edward's face because it hurt. "It's just that I feel like a jerk giving you the ultimatum."
Edward dropped his eyes staring into his coffee. "I understand why you did."
Jasper sighed, before he pushed up his glasses. There were so many things he didn't understand in his relationship. Why would someone like Edward like him? He was a dork, hardly a looker, and they lived in two very different worlds. Sure, they had some things in common, but in all honesty it wasn't a whole lot. All Jasper knew with absolute certainty was that he was in love, deeply in love.
"You shouldn't have to change your life for me. I don't think it was fair of me to make that demand on you. However, I also know that I can't accept what you do, well, not if we're supposed to be lovers. It's simply a hard limit for me," Jasper spoke mostly into the table, because the ache was tearing his chest apart like nothing he ever felt before. Jasper knew where he stood. He couldn't accept Edward's profession and how he made his money. It was that simple.
"I know," Edward said softly. "That's actually why we need to talk." He paused, which caught Jasper's interest. The beautiful man smiled when their eyes met. "I had a long talk with Emmett about the situation. I told him about us. I told him everything. We agreed on a few things. I won't make any more videos. I'm exclusively behind the camera and working in production from now on. I don't want to pull out completely, because you know that Emmett and I built the company."
Jasper's heart suddenly filled with hope. "I never asked you to leave the company."
"I know. Since I'm not in the cast anymore, will you consider taking me back?" The hope in Edward's voice was carefully controlled, and his eyes burned with sincerity.
This was new.
Jasper cleared his throat, but Edward beat him to it. "I'm ready to make a few changes if that means you and I can figure things out. I miss you so much that's it's not worth losing you over something that means nothing in the long run. I want to be with you… I need to be with you more than anything else."
Jasper put his hand over his mouth, while trying to conceal his huge smile. This was more than he ever dared to dream of.
Forcefully, Jasper pulled himself from the memories of that sunny day. Opening his eyes, he was just bone tired, tired of everything… and mostly tired of living… alone.
He had only ever been in love once. As a young man, there had been crushes on other men, flings, and affairs, but they had all been short-lived, except for one.
Jasper reached over, running his fingers lithely over the book that was placed on the bedside table. It was Edward's side of the bed. It was his book and it was still dog-eared about halfway though. Not a grain of dust was anywhere on his stuff. It was keep perfectly clean, dusted almost every day. Though it didn't help for Jasper to feel any kind of connection to Edward, it was one small desperate way to hold on to him. A large part of Jasper was dying, but he refused to let go. He just couldn't.
Jasper buried his head into Edward's pillow and let a shriek of agony rip from his lungs only to be muffled by the cushion. He was all alone in his despair, and all alone in the house.
"I love you," Jasper murmured into Edward's ear. Their staccato breaths came and went in sync, only to slowly subside.
"I know. I love you forever. I'm never letting you go," Edward whispered in return before his face broke into a breathtaking smile. Jasper loved that smile. It was like an eighth wonder of the world, and the best part of it was that Jasper was the one person, who could make his lover smile exactly like that.
Jasper crawled to his knees, before straddling Edward. Their skin was moist, which was evidence of their recent activity. Edward's neck was flushed with heat. Jasper entwined their fingers, while holding his lover down. "You better not. I don't want to be stuck with the mortgage on this house by myself."
"Is that all you think about, the money?" Edward teased, before kicking underneath Jasper.
"I never think about money. I don't know what I would do without you in my life. The mere thought scares me to death," Jasper murmured, suddenly choking on the fear. A part of him loathed himself for being so vulnerable, but he had always been like that with Edward. He never guarded his heart with him.
"I know, honey. Though, your fear is redundant, because I am just as lost without you. It's us forever. Just look at us now. Of all the things we want in life, there is one more thing we can cross off – this amazing house." Edward had wiggled his fingers from Jasper's to cradle his face. His eyes burned with sincerity.
"There another thing we can cross of the list… christening it." Jasper added playfully glancing at the bed that didn't even have sheets yet. It was just a bare mattress resting on the frame. They only moved in this morning and it was early in the afternoon. Not that any of that would stop them.
"Now get your naked ass off me, because we need to unpack some boxes. I, for one, would like to use my toothbrush at the end of the day. So for the rest of the afternoon, I'm totally immune to your charm and you're not allowed to seduce me." Edward's eyes were filled with joy and that smile was once again on his lips.
"Me seduce you? Ha!" Jasper barked.
No amount of coffee seemed to chase away the lifeless and heavy feeling in Jasper's head. He wanted more than anything to know that everything was okay, maybe just one hour where he wasn't dragging this bone deep and numbing pain around. Eventually, his cries of injustice ended and he lay broken and shattered in his bed. He couldn't get up again. He didn't have the energy. He closed his eyes, perhaps never to open them again.
The bed was oddly cold and too quiet. Jasper pulled the covers up to his chin summing it up to the fact that Edward must have gone for a run early in the morning. Pulling on the blankets, they were weighty and held down by something heavy. Okay, perhaps Edward hadn't gone running, but simply hogged the blankets.
Jasper yanked, while expecting Edward to protest, but he didn't.
Jasper turned around to his boyfriend. Edward's face looked peaceful with his lips slightly parted and his eyes closed. Jasper's smile was small when he looked at the beautiful man. He was gorgeous and absolutely stunning. Edward was madly in love with him, and Jasper knew that.
After a minute or so, it became clear that Edward was still, too still. Jasper reached out, touching Edward's cheek. It was cool to the touch, and he didn't stir. Jasper rubbed his eyes frantically and sat up. There weren't any movement from the other man and fear pooled in Jasper's stomach.
What was this?
"Edward?" he questioned hoarsely. "Honey?" Jasper's fingers traveled down Edward's neck and over the chilly skin that felt like it had been kissed by a winter's breeze. Jasper touched his still chest and panic started shooting though his veins. "Edward!" he called alarmed. Jasper's fingers trembled as he searched for a pulse on Edward's neck. There was none.
"Edward, wake up please. Stop this! This is not funny. You're scaring me." Jasper was on his knees shaking the cold and oddly stiff body. "Baby, come on. What are you doing?" He put his mouth to Edward's, while trying forcefully to push air into his lungs. It wasn't working. "Breathe, honey. Breathe for me, sweetheart." Jasper's tears landed on Edward's expressionless face as he desperately tried to force some life into the other man.
It didn't work.
Jasper came awake with another scream ripping through the bedroom. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep again. He sat up with his hand on his chest, feeling the furious palpitations of his heart. It took a good ten minutes for him to calm down and then reality washed over him. It wasn't just a nightmare. It was reality. Edward was gone. He'd died six months ago of brain aneurism in his sleep. Edward never felt a thing. He was merely just gone one moment, never to return.
In the bathroom, Jasper washed his face trying to get rid of the grogginess. He was a mess and he knew it.
Setting about the second part of his daily routine, he cleaned every surface of the house, while making sure Edward's belongings weren't debased and lying in filth. No, Jasper took care of their stuff and made sure that nothing was out of place.
The coffeemaker was snarling in the kitchen again, when suddenly the doorbell rang. It threw Jasper, because people knew better. In the beginning, friends and family had dropped by, while leaving food and offering words of comfort, but they didn't stick with it. Only two people dared to drop by unannounced. Bella, who was Edward's childhood friend, never gave up. Alice, his half sister, was just as perseverant. Jasper knew it was bound to be one of those two.
Throwing the door open, Jasper was stunned to see that it was Emmett who was leaning against the jamb. He was the man, who used to be Edward's business partner and eventually a good friend of theirs. It had been months since they had seen each other.
"Hi," Emmett said meekly, not in his usually boisterous tone.
"Hi," Jasper couldn't conjure up much more of a greeting. He was feeling exhausted from the nightmare and lack of sleep, and to be honest he really didn't want the company.
"Can I come in?" Emmett asked. "I won't stay long."
"Sure. I have some fresh coffee, if you'd like," Jasper answered somberly.
The two men stood in the kitchen, clearly not knowing what to say.
"How's work?" Jasper asked eventually. He didn't care much, even though he did own half of the production company now. Edward had left it to him in a will, and Jasper had left the matter at that. Once in a while, he noticed deposits into his account, but that was it for his involvement.
"It's good," Emmett answered. "We brought in some new guys that are working out well. Sales are up, too. Rosalie thinks we could expand to girls' videos too, but I don't know…" Emmett trailed off, while taking a sip of his coffee.
"How's Rosalie? And the kids?"
"They're good. Elizabeth just turned two."
Jasper closed his eyes in shame, remembering the pink invite with the princesses on it. "I'm so sorry. I completely forgot about that," Jasper muttered halfheartedly. He even forgotten to RSVP that he wasn't coming.
"That's okay. Bella got a present for her from you."
Jasper peeked up. "Really?"
Emmett laughed briefly. "Yeah, it was a doll that can cry, pee, and everything. It's pretty cool." Silence settled between them, and Jasper was feeling the pressure of being sociable weigh him down again. He wasn't up for this. "I miss him, too, you know," Emmett said quietly.
Oh, no. This was why Jasper didn't have company over. He looked down as tears welled in his eyes. He didn't want to be face to face with anyone when his measure of self-control was so frayed. He hated the pathetic breakdowns and the embarrassing displays of emotion. He didn't want to be so weak, but he was.
He felt Emmett's hand on his shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. It felt comforting. He wasn't used to physical contact anymore. He couldn't stop the break down that was blooming in his chest. He knew it was going to spill any second now and he was powerless to hold it back after the nightmare.
"Come here." Emmett said softly, while putting his arms around Jasper. The embrace was warm and friendly and it made everything hurt even worse. It was easier living as a recluse not giving into other people's sympathy. He could avoid these types of situations. "I didn't mean to put you on the spot like that. I'm sorry. It's just that he was like a brother to me, and then after he's gone you disappear too. We miss you too. So much."
Jasper snorted into Emmett's shirt, not being able to hold the barriers up anymore. His fingers dug into Emmett's shoulder needing something to hold him up. "I lost my soul mate, Emmett. I lost my whole world when he died. I don't know how to deal with that. I just want to have him back. I miss him so much and I want him to come back to me."
Emmett stroked Jasper's back. "I know." Jasper pulled out of the embrace feeling embarrassed. He removed his glasses, trying to clean his face from the tears. His breath trembled as he tried to control the outburst. Emmett spoke up again. "I'm going to be honest here. I don't think Edward would appreciate what you are doing to yourself. He would want you to still have a life."
"My life is gone," Jasper dismissed. "We were supposed to have a lifetime together and I got three years. It wasn't enough by a long shot. We were supposed to grow old together, be life partners and then everything falls apart when we're not even thirty years old. It's not fair."
"I know it's not, buddy. Edward would have wanted you to try to move on for him and for you."
Jasper sighed. He felt so broken "How?"
Emmett thought for less than a second. "Well, for a start, Rosalie, the kids and I are going to Hawaii next week. Come with us. The girls would love to play with you and they are wickedly good at distracting you from just about everything."
Jasper stared back wide-eyed at him. "I can't do that." The thought about leaving this house scared him more than anything. It would mean leaving the one place, where he sometimes caught a glimpse of Edward. He couldn't lose that.
"Sure you can. Book a plane ticket. We rented a house for two weeks. There's plenty of room."
Jasper shook his head.
"Just think about it, okay." Even though Jasper agreed to consider it, he knew he would end up saying no, but nevertheless he was touched by their kindness. "There are a lot of people out there who care about you and want to help, if you let them."
"Yeah," Jasper shrugged off his answer. He took a deep cleansing breath, and tried to make a joke to ease the tension and avoid another break down. "When the hell did this conversation get so deep?"
Emmett's blue eyes were soft and understanding. "Well, I have something for you." His expression turned a bit somber. Jasper felt his eyes turn dead, knowing more bad news were headed his way. "It's not what you think." Emmett pulled out a DVD cover from his pocket where there was an inscription on the front. Jasper took it carefully, instantly choking on the words.
This is what I see when I see you.
You're beautiful, graceful and above all so fucking sexy.
I love you forever.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Jasper's hands shook, as he read the words again and again. Tears made a comeback from hell, and he had to stop reading when his vision got too blurry.
"It's September," Jasper muttered when he could control his voice again.
"I found it yesterday. I was cleaning out his office. You're not the only one good at suppressing painful things. I found the file on his computer and the cover was in the top drawer. I watched some of it, because I could tell by the date that he was working on it when he died. I finished the edit, knowing how Edward would have done it. It wouldn't be right to have this lying around the company, because you're the rightful owner of that file."
"What is it?" Jasper asked warily.
Emmett's smile was warm, but a hint in his usual teasing nature was just in the layers below. "Something of a private matter. Think about it and you'll figure it out. Just know that this is the only copy, and the file has been deleted at the company."
Jasper's face suddenly turned bright red and his breath faltered. He knew exactly what this was. He knew it existed, but never had never seen it or thought about it since the day that it was made.
"I see you figured it out. In my line of business, I have seen a lot with the production company. I have seen Edward do a lot, but I assure you I have never seen him or it being done with this much love."
Jasper felt his face burning. "Since when have you become so delicate? You can say the word. It's just sex."
"No, it's not. That's not what's on that DVD." Emmett emptied his coffee cup. "I have to go. Rose and I are taking the kids to the beach this afternoon. I just wanted to give you that in person."
"Thank you," Jasper said carefully, while running his fingers along the rim of the cover.
The house was quiet again and Jasper's head was a black hole of emotions that he couldn't control or deal with. He left the DVD on the piano, next to the pictures that he couldn't even look at. If a picture was a problem then how was he supposed watch Edward and himself having sex on screen.
Edward's voice suddenly erupted inside Jasper's head, as if he were in the room.
"We don't have sex. We make love. There's a difference, Jasper."
"How so? It's just lust and a release," he countered.
"Is that all I am to you? A fuck? How can you be so blasé about this?" Edward asked, looking confused and hurt.
"Well, it's not exactly like you're a stranger to the concept of a fuck," Jasper bit back.
Edward glared at him irritated. "If you want travel down that road. No, I am not a stranger to that concept. I've probably been with more guys that you have even spoken to, so I know what I am talking about."
Anger flared between them, before brewing into full-blown argument. "That is exactly my point. You fuck guys for a living. It's sex that pays your bills. You may glorify it by adding that you own a part of the company, but it is what it is…and that is sex. Don't insult me by saying I'm any different," Jasper sneered.
Edward looked appalled all of a sudden. "You are different. Don't you get that? You're not just some guy that I'm thrown in a scene with."
"Really, well if I matter that much, then why the hell haven't you given up the porn?"
"I thought you said that what I do for a living isn't a problem for you." Each word was enunciated very clearly. Edward was merely repeating what Jasper had said not too long ago.
It turned eerily silent and it became suddenly clear why they were fighting. "It is now," Jasper whispered. It was a huge problem knowing what Edward did when he left his apartment in the morning. In the beginning, the novelty that someone like Edward was attracted to Jasper was just too much to resist. At that point, he had been more than willing to overlook a few details, but it wasn't enough anymore.
"What are you saying, Jasper?" Edward's eyes turned dark and sad.
"I'm saying that I'm in love with you."
Edward gaped, and the gleam in his eyes turned brighter, almost ecstatic to frank. "That is more than I ever dared to hope for." He smiled that heart-stopping smile of his. "That is exactly how I feel about you."
Jasper couldn't share Edward's joy just yet. "I'm also saying that if we were to try to have a future, you need to quit the porn and just be with me."
Edward's smile vanished. "Is that an ultimatum?"
"Yeah, I guess it is," Jasper murmured, knowing they hit a roadblock and there was no way back.
Jasper sat down at the piano and began ghosting his fingers over the keys. Haphazardly, he pressed one down, while listening to a singular tone fill the room. He didn't know how to play. It was Edward's baby and he had tried to teach him, but Jasper had been hopeless.
Jasper had learned to come to terms with Edward's profession as long as he wasn't in any videos. After the day when Edward quit and went into production only, Jasper didn't care, mainly because with every chance he got, Edward showed him that he was his man. Jasper knew he was loved.
Feeling a little braver, he reached out and picked up one of the frames. He stared at the picture. Edward was beautiful, excruciatingly so. Beside Edward in the frame, there was a mirrored image of himself… only better looking. Together looked happy. They were happy, in love with each other and in love with life when this picture had been taken. They had been traveling for the summer, while moving through the south of Europe. The picture was taken the day before they were flying home. They were lying on a beach near the small town of Frejus on the French Riviera. They had sand between their toes and their skin was sun-kissed. Jasper's sandy blond hair had turned lighter by the relentless sun and Edward's freckles had spread all over his nose. They beamed with big vivacious smiles that reached from their mouths to their eyes. They had wanted to travel the world together, hoping to plan one trip each year. They only traveled once before all the sand in their hourglass ran out.
Jasper set the picture down again, feeling horrible and empty. He missed Edward so much it obliterated everything around him.
He picked up the DVD, while feeling the smooth and cool plastic. He read Edward's sweet words again. He had died just before Valentine's Day. It made sense that Edward would write something like that, and it was definitely his handwriting. Jasper was never confident and never had much faith in himself, besides the things he could do with a computer. He was good at that. Edward, however, was extremely confident. It was evident in the way he carried himself. He was graceful and powerful at the same time. More importantly, he taught Jasper to see himself differently, perhaps a little bit like how Edward saw him. Edward never hid the fact that he thought Jasper was hot, glasses and all.
"You know that you're playing dirty right?" Jasper admonished when Edward dragged his tongue over the sensitive spot just below his ear. It felt so good when he did that.
Edward gave a tighter squeeze around Jasper's waist and then let go. He hopped up on the counter and took a swig of his coffee. "Okay, I'll stop coming on to you and just shamelessly beg instead."
"Begging and shamelessness often involves someone on their knees." Jasper cocked a brow, while placing himself between Edward's spread legs.
"I could get down on my knees for you, but I worry that I would just get distracted." He smirked. "To plead my case, why don't you just come to work with me and you can see for yourself that it's not that bad."
"Going with you to the House of Porn? I don't think so."
Edward frowned. "Quit calling it that. Why won't you come with me?"
"I don't belong in a place like that and to be frank, it scares me."
"First, I hate when you put yourself down, because you are hot, baby. Deal with it. Secondly, there's nothing to be afraid of, unless you're scared that you may see something that turns you on." Edward's hands drifted low, while grasping Jasper's ass and pulled him closer.
Jasper leaned his forehead against Edward's, savoring his lover's touch. Then he spoke quietly. "You're playing dirty again."
"Sorry, I just can't seem to keep my hands off you. Honey, come with me so that you can meet everyone. I want them to meet you. I don't want the two best things in my life to be divided like this."
"Fine," Jasper sighed. He kissed Edward softly, while biting back his moan when their tongues met. He pulled back, before palming Edward's face. "If I want to go, we leave, okay?"
Jasper had to admit the house from which Edward and Emmett ran their company wasn't as scary as he had thought. In his head, he had built it up to be something out of a horror story. However, it was nothing like that. The offices were clean, neat even and full of light. The screening and editing room was blacked out for viewing purposes and about ten people worked there, not counting the occasional performer brought in for a scene. Well, porn was a lucrative business, Jasper figured. He was actually glad to be proven wrong. His imagination had simply run a bit wild.
He met every one of the staff, because Edward made a point out of it. They answered questions and made statements like, 'are you dating' and 'so that's why you quit acting'. Jasper never failed to feel slightly bashful when Edward praised him for something or said that he was lucky that Jasper took him back. Apparently most of them knew that Jasper had broken up with Edward not too long ago when things got tricky.
During the afternoon, they moved through the house to the upstairs where there were three rooms used for filming. One was completely empty, while being redecorated. A second one was in use and Edward suggested they could just stand in the back and watch. Jasper was reluctant at first. The naked men on the bed made him uncomfortable, but they didn't seem to notice anything else but each other. Two cameras were rolling and a few people were scattered along the walls. Some were monitoring equipment while others were watching what was happening on the bed.
Jasper had never in his life seen anyone else have sex, well not counting his own very meager collection of two mediocre porn films that made out his private collection.
He couldn't help but watch the men on the bed, mesmerized by what was happening. He had expected to be appalled and disgusted, but he wasn't. If you removed the cameras, the lights and the people, the men might as well be two lonely souls having found company for a night.
"Seen enough or were you planning to stick around?" Edward whispered in his ear. His lover's breath suddenly seemed awfully hot as he brushed over Jasper's neck. He shook his head, while trying to snap out of his reverie.
"We can go."
On the way out of the room, Edward had a brief and hushed conversation with Emmett. Edward twined his fingers into Jasper's, before walking down the hall towards the stairwell. Bypassing the stairs, Jasper got slightly confused, but followed Edward anyway.
Edward closed the door to the unused room and turned the lock. He raked his teeth over his bottom lip as he fiddled with one of the two cameras. His green eyes were piercing and playful. "If I asked you to keep an open mind, would you?"
"That would depend on what you have in mind," Jasper hedged. He stood in the middle of the room just at the foot of the bed. It was actually a nice room. It was bright and decorated mostly in earthly colors. The bedspread looked expensive, like something you could have at home, definitely not some shady and dubious décor you'd expect from a House of Porn.
Edward moved to the other camera. He adjusted the stance and a small red light came on. That was when it hit Jasper what he was getting at.
"Oh, no!" He griped.
"No?" Jasper's resolve was put to the test by Edward's intense stare. Behind the camera, Edward slowly pulled his shirt off. "The choice is always yours, baby."
Jasper stared at his lover's sculptured chest and the boxers peaking over the waistband of his jeans. He was gorgeous. "You're playing dirty again," Jasper murmured, while staring shyly at the floor.
"Look at me, Jasper. Let me see you." They stared at each other for long seconds. Jasper's heart pounded, as he fiddled with the hem of his shirt. Mirroring Edward, he pulled it off. "Look at you, baby. You're so brave and so beautiful."
Edward sauntered over, almost prowling, before he skated his fingers over Jasper's naked shoulders. Anxiously, his eyes escaped to one of the cameras that also had a small red light flashing from the front.
Edward leaned down, while brushing light kisses along Jasper's collarbone. "Forget they are there. It's just us."
Jasper swallowed thickly. He remembered the smallest of details of their life with photographic memory, but Jasper couldn't recapture how it felt to kiss Edward. Besides, watching that movie would only make it clear how much of a mismatch they had really been.
On the dining room table, his phone hummed. He picked it up and looked at the caller ID - Alice. Jasper put the phone down again without answering. Maybe later, he would pick it up. Emmett had already witnessed how unstable he was and there was no need for another public breakdown today. They were so embarrassing. He wasn't the only person in the world that lost someone. His suffering was no worse than so many other people, so there was no reason to show the world that he couldn't handle it.
Jasper went to his computer and returned the emails that were still waiting for an answer. It was hard to concentrate, his mind kept escaping to the DVD and Edward in general.
Jasper sighed in frustration. "What am I even doing here?" he practically sneered at Alice.
"We're out boy hunting. I told you this." She rolled her eyes.
"We're in a gay bar. I hardly think anybody here is interested in your goodies, so you may want to rephrase that you are boy hunting for me. My answer to that is thanks, but no thanks. I can handle that on my own."
"You're kidding right. You haven't had a date in two years. You need to get out and get laid." Jasper glowered at her. "Okay, we stay for one drink," she pleaded.
"Fine," Jasper grumbled.
It didn't take long before Alice enthusiastically started pointing out men. It was humiliating. First of all, Jasper never went barhopping, because he always felt so out of place. Second of all, Alice was the only female there and that spoke volumes.
The bar was semi-crowded with people coming and going and ordering drinks as Jasper chewed his straw to bits. It was funny how slowly Alice was nursing her drink.
"What about him?" She gestured across the room to a man sat by himself at the end of the bar. He was rolling a beer coaster along the edge of the bar looking bored, as he emptied his beer. "He's cute."
"He's also probably taken or waiting for someone," Jasper stressed.
"Don't be such a sour puss." Alice leaned over the bar calling the bartender. Jasper stared mortified as a fresh beer was placed in front of the stranger and knowing his so-called friend and half sister, she had ordered it.
The stranger looked up and smiled, while raising his bottle. Jasper groaned loudly, while leaning his head into his hands as Alice beamed brightly. "Why can't you just leave well enough alone?"
"Because no one really wants to be alone all the time. Look, cheer up, okay. There's a whole world out there and you are missing it, while sitting in front of that computer screen all day. No one says that you will meet the love of your life in a place like this, but once in a while just go with what feels good for one night. It's not a crime to have a little fun."
"I just came over to thank you for this." An unfamiliar voice intruded.
Jasper was just about to spit something like 'thank her, not me' at the stranger, when he figured out how to annoy Alice. Jasper cocked a brow. "You're welcome." Jasper tried to smile, though it felt false.
"You mind if I join you?"
"Please do," Jasper answered before Alice could even get a word in. "I'm Jasper," he said holding out his hand.
"Edward." Jasper almost regretted his bravado when he noticed that the stranger was absolutely stunning… and so far out of his league.
"You looked a little tired sitting by yourself. Perhaps you had a hard day at work?" Jasper asked unusually chatty.
The perfect stranger smirked. He looked highly entertained. "You could say that. I just needed to unwind and do nothing for a bit."
"What do you do for a living?"
"Let me get you another beer, you were kind enough to offer me one. Maybe something for the lady?" Alice sipped her Cosmopolitan daintily, while Jasper watched with peaked interest every time Edward moved. He had such beautiful features and moved so gracefully. "Now to answer your question, I work in the adult entertainment industry. I own fifty percent of a small production company that makes gay porn," he answered without further ado.
Jasper picked up his jaw, and then pushed up his glasses.
Well, that wasn't your usual career.
Jasper kept throwing questions at Edward, mainly to exclude Alice from the conversation. It worked for the most part. The conversation flowed rather effortlessly to Jasper's great surprise. At the end of the night when Alice was about to fall asleep over the bar, Edward asked for Jasper's phone number. Jasper didn't ask in return to save himself the heartache when his call was never picked up. He'd tried that before.
The night that they met Edward had left out one tiny detail about his line of work. Sure, he owned a part of the company, but he was also on camera. It wasn't until the second date Edward had let that small piece of information slip. Completely enthralled, Jasper had thrown into the mix that he didn't care about his profession. Only time begged to differ.
It was dark when Jasper emptied his inbox again and he was left with nothing to do. The DVD still peaked his curiosity, but Jasper feared what watching that film would do to his fragile state of mind. Could he really sit in their living room and watch a sex tape they made almost three years ago? Would it be degrading or would it be a gateway to remembering some of the things that he lost? For a long time, Jasper desperately tried to recall what Edward's hand had felt like in his, or how they used to be curled up against each other at night with Edward's chest to his back. He tried to remember the tenor of Edward's voice and the way he used to let a soft moan slip when something tasted good or felt nice. Jasper was losing all those memories of the small things that made him Edward.
With a nauseating ache and uncontrolled anxiety, Jasper slipped the silver disk into the DVD player. He knew he wouldn't be able to finish watching this, but at least he could try. Wasn't it part of life to at least attempt to do something new and brave? He sat down in the middle of the room, on the floor, and childishly clutched a pillow to his chest to numb the ache mangling his heart. He could hardly breathe.
The screen flickered to life. The frame was still and the same words that he had read earlier flashed to the screen.
This is what I see when I see you.
You're beautiful, graceful and above all so fucking sexy.
I love you forever.
Happy Valentine's Day.
The screen changed again and Jasper's heart was pounding so hard it threatened to knock him unconscious. This was going to hurt, possibly so much that it would be Jasper who didn't wake up the next morning. He would be lying if he denied there was a small part of him that wanted that.
He focused on the screen, suddenly seeing himself in the room that he remembered. It was all earthy hues and nice decor. While focusing on himself on the screen, he noticed that he looked healthy, younger and a little anxious.
"If I asked you to keep an open mind, would you?" Jasper dropped the remote and it felt like he had been hit with a Taser gun. He gasped at the sound. Edward's melodic, but disembodied voice filtered into the room. Suddenly, it was like a balm washing over Jasper and soothing just some of his ache. His hands trembled fiercely when he picked up the remote, hit rewind and then pressed play again. "If I asked you to keep an open mind, would you?" Edward had such a beautiful voice.
"That would depend on what you have in mind." The Jasper on the screen asked suspiciously, as his eyes followed an out-of-frame Edward. He remembered this. Jasper watched a younger version of himself lose some of his composure and his mouth fell open. "Oh, no!" he warned.
"No?" There was a pause, and it was still only Edward's voice that commanded the stage. "The choice is always yours, baby."
On the screen, Jasper's gaze shifted and the intensity deepened, as his eyes were fixated away from the lens. "You're playing dirty again," his voice was soft as he lowered his eyes and looked down.
"Look at me, Jasper. Let me see you." Jasper sat on the floor, before closing his eyes and just relishing the simplicity and layers of Edward's pleasing voice. He scrolled back and pressed play several times. It almost felt like Edward was here with him again in their house. Jasper could almost feel his presence in the room, like he could breathe him in.
He opened his eyes, while not wanting to miss even the smallest part of the video when he was ready to move forward. Every cell of his body was standing at attention to see Edward, the man that had been reduced to nothing but a distant memory.
The Jasper on the screen looked indecisive before he pulled his shirt over his head with trembling hands.
"Look at you, baby. You're so brave and so beautiful."
Jasper lost his breath when Edward's back was suddenly blocking the screen. The sculptured muscles of his shoulders were prominent and the fluidness of his skin as he moved was something that Jasper instantly remembered. It was there crystal clear in his mind. It was in his heart how that back had felt against his palms. Jasper furiously wiped the coming tears refusing to let his vision blur.
He watched enraptured when Edward's mouth pressed to his shoulder and his lips gently dancing over his body. It was a strange, yet such powerful experience to watch this. It took his body back in time, because watching himself receive kisses from Edward was almost as good as the real thing. Just seeing it, he remembered how that felt. He suddenly remembered the smell of his skin, the moans in his ear and the feeling of their connection. Jasper was jolted back to a place where he remembered everything, not just only the words spoken.
Jasper's gaze connected with his own on the screen, piercing green to green. One set of eyes was a live and intrigued, whereas the other presumably looked dead on most days.
"Forget they are there. It's just us." Once again, Edward's voice coming over the speaker was overwhelming. Jasper breathed it all in.
"How do I do that?" On screen, Jasper asked with his gaze shifting to meet Edward's.
Edward looked over his shoulder straight into the camera for the first time. His eyes were wickedly seductive and so beautiful. Jasper's heart faltered for a moment. "By pretending, it's just us watching ourselves make love, because it will be someday," he said into the camera. He looked back at Jasper deftly running his fingers into the sandy blond hair. On screen, Jasper closed his eyes and lips parted. The younger version of himself sucked in a lungful of air. His eyes went to the camera again.
"Mind…" Edward tapped Jasper's temple. "Here…" Edward tapped his own head. "Heart…" he placed his palm on Jaspers chest. "Here with me." He finished touching his own chest. It was clear that Edward knew what he was doing and that Jasper was nervous.
The first kiss they shared was careful, soft, and reverent, but that changed. Before long, it was clear that video Jasper had forgotten all about the cameras and only saw one thing, Edward.
Sitting on the floor, Jasper cried silently as he watched himself and his partner make love, because that was exactly what was on that DVD - the physical evidence of their love.
"My beautiful man," Edward murmured.
Jasper answered with a deep sigh, leaning his forehead against Edward's. "I love you."
Suddenly, Jasper understood what Edward had said once that there was a difference between making love and fucking. It was clear as day when the two men stretched out on the bed with their limbs interlacing and hands exploring. Sometimes, their eyes opened and met and they smiled at each other, but it was the way they did it that made all the difference. The gentle whispers of affection and the small and sensual kissing mixed in with the physical and far more carnal part of the act all summed up to one thing. The men of the screen loved and adored each other. They were in love.
"It feels so good." Edward's words were just above a breath as their bodies rocked against each other.
"Yes, it does," Jasper agreed in that same soft and hushed tone.
Jasper was wrong. Edward and he weren't a mismatch, not at all. They had been equals, who were giving and taking and offering and receiving. It didn't matter that one was far more attractive in the flesh than the other. All that mattered was how easy it was to tell that they really did love each other and that they were equals in their love.
Much too soon, the screen turned black and once more Jasper was alone in the house. His face was soaked with tears, but strangely he felt better. Now he didn't need to imagine or think that he was deluding himself when he remembered that what they had had been real and bone deep. He had just witnessed it. No, now he had proof, tangible proof that once upon a time his beautiful Edward had loved him just as much as Jasper loved him back.
Jasper remembered Emmett's words. This was the only copy. This fragile little disc was the only copy. Almost panicking Jasper made four more copies, filing them in four different places in the house. He also secured the file on the computer and uploaded it to his phone. That way it was impossible for it to get lost. He wouldn't survive if that happened.
He showered for the better part of an hour and for once allowing his body to find some awkward solace in a release. This was the first time, since he lost fifty percent of himself. It made him feel better, just for a little while. Snuggled into bed, Jasper plugged his headphones into his phone watching and listening to their sweet words as they made love once more that night. It was a weird kind of satisfaction, but it was a fulfillment no matter how it was served.
Jasper woke the next morning at 9 AM. He had slept through the night. He felt better, much better, as if Edward wasn't so far away or so unreachable anymore. He was here. Though he was trapped in the small device in his hand, he was here. That was all that mattered.
Perhaps, he should flip the tables on himself. At least, he knew what it felt like to be loved, to have someone cherish him and adore him despite all his geeky tendencies. He'd learned how it felt to be with someone and be utterly vulnerable and embrace a person without reservations. He knew how to love. He had gotten to experience that much. Maybe just maybe, those three wonderful years they did have together was a blessing and not a curse, because for three years he had been with the person he loved more than life itself. It was far better than nothing at all.
Still in bed, Jasper punched in Emmett's number.
"Hello?" a female voice answered.
"Rosalie… it's Jasper," he said uncertainly.
"How are you, honey?" she sounded elated and surprised. "It's so good to hear from you."
Jasper smiled a little. "Pretty good actually. Uhm, Emmett came by yesterday…" he hedged not sure if the invitation was still valid.
"He told me."
"Did he tell you that he sort of asked me to come with you on holiday?"
"He mentioned that, too."
"Does the offer still stand?" Jasper carefully asked.
"Of course. We would love to have you. Does that mean you're saying yes?"
"Yeah, I think I need to get out of the house." What he meant to say was to get on with my life, but he saved that part for himself. Emmett was right that Edward would have hated to see Jasper do this to himself.
"Good for you," Rosalie cooed. They ended the conversation and Jasper lay in bed for a good half hour before he got up to get some breakfast.
Life could get better if he wanted it to. He wanted to live, if not for himself then for everything that Edward never got to experience. Jasper wanted to pick himself up by the boot straps and move on. He wanted to live for them. He would stop living his life in flashback.
Thank you for taking your time to read.