Dedication: To Barburella. You really are one of the most awesome people ever. How do you put up with me? I mean, if you don't understand how much I love you… the fact I'm writing Jasper and CARLISLE together… that should be enough love to last you the rest of your life.

Thanks: To jadedandboring who will probably be the only one who can stomach beta'ing this. And thanks to Naeleny, bmango, and dizzygrl28 all of whom held my hand while I whined and moaned and tried to find a title for this beast.

Disclaimer: Pretty sure SM would be almost as horrified as I am about what's about to happen here. Much love and respect to the lady for giving me these awesome characters to play with.

Jasper Whitlock was a royal pain in the ass.

Carlisle paced the length of the master bedroom, his hands in his hair, his thoughts wild, chaotic.

Good God, he hated this emotion.

For a moment, his head spun, and he was back in time, back under his father's roof where there was no such thing as calm, rational discussion. Every conversation in that house ended with screaming and more often than not, blows.

It got to the point where Carlisle's entire world was made up of varying degrees of anger. Most of the time it was a flicker of flame burning low at the very center of his chest. A kid at school would run into him and the flame would burn brightly for a second, maybe long enough that he'd shove the guy or fire off a smart-ass remark, but it was manageable.

Other times, though, that flame was a drop of light in an inferno. He knew the levels of anger. He knew what it was to be so furious there couldn't be enough destruction.

For so many years, anger and all its bedfellows were all he knew.

In the aftermath of his father casting him out for good, Carlisle had learned to temper that terrible emotion. He saw it now as a raging beast muzzled and tied tight. Calm, rationality, and empathy had come to him only through constant hard work.

And in one night, Jasper had undone all of that.

Carlisle closed his eyes, fighting to regain control. This is what he hated most: that his body was so not his own. His every instinct called for him fly right out his door and pick up right where he'd left off.

He'd had Jasper pinned up against the wall, his hands in fists, gripping the boy - the man - by his shirt. He'd shoved him hard, getting right up in his face, wanting, needing to intimidate him.

Jasper had only glared back, defiant as ever. As they stood there, Carlisle's body pinning Jasper's to the wall, the hard line of the younger man's mouth began to curl up at the corner. That cocky smirk. Carlisle so hated that cocky smirk.

Breathing in through his nose and out again, Carlisle sat heavily on his bed, his anger dwindling as his thoughts took another, more confusing turn. He rubbed the back of his neck, remembering how it had occurred to him that there was something different about this kind of anger - something he'd never experienced before.

In his memories from his teenage years, Carlisle's body had always tensed for a fight. The mechanics felt the same - his muscles curling, ready - but the aim felt different.

He didn't want to destroy.

What he wanted, he really wasn't quite sure.

Carlisle had been so riled up, he was absolutely poised for some kind of action, but after he had Jasper pinned, it was as though he short circuited. His body absolutely did not know what to do next.

The lull in action had given him just enough control to let go of the younger man and walk - well, run - away.

Back in control, the beast subdued, anger was beginning to morph into guilt.

Jasper had always shown remarkable aptitude in getting under people's skin. Carlisle had seen him use that power for good, or at the very least to wrap some sweet little boy around his finger. But he also had an uncanny ability to find weak points - every person had them.

With Carlisle, Jasper seemed to delight in stabbing a knife right where he was weakest and twisting. With a smile. With that cocky grin, to be exact.

Not for the first time, Carlisle reminded himself the boy - the man, he had to keep reminding himself - had a perfectly legitimate reason.

They were just ten years apart. Perhaps that wouldn't have meant anything particularly dire, except that Carlisle had married Jasper's mother. More years separated him from his wife than from his stepson, and that had always creeped said stepson out considerably.

When Jasper was seventeen, Carlisle had excused his behavior away as the stepfather factor mixed in with a healthy dose of teenage angst. Add to it the issue of the age gap, and it was no wonder Jasper acted the way he did.

But the boy was a man now. He was 21, home for the summer from college, and, this far into adulthood, he should have gained at least a little more maturity.

Carlisle hung his head, rubbing the back of his neck with shame.

Of course, once again circumstances called for a little delicacy. Jasper, after all, had very recently lost his mother.

Carlisle was only barely coping with Esme's death. He'd known it was coming, of course. Her illness had been long, and he'd known from the beginning how their story would end. It was one of the many reasons the age gap made no difference to them. Their time was always too precious to worry about such inconsequential things.

He'd known, but at Esme's request, they'd kept the truth from her son until the very end.

So while Carlisle had harbored some hope that they could help each other through this difficult time, it was also more than understandable that Jasper was as angry as ever.

Shaking his head ruefully, Carlisle considered the situation. He was, after all, the elder in their relationship. Whatever opinions he may have had regarding Jasper's maturity, it was no excuse not to turn the other cheek.

Properly contrite, Carlisle stood, squaring his shoulders as he walked to Jasper's room to apologize.

The door to Jasper's room was slightly ajar. Just as Carlisle lifted a hand to rap on it, he heard the younger man's laughter.

"Dude, you should have seen it. He was all flustered. He kept stuttering and trying to cover up that he was getting hard. He's a total perv, I swear." He paused, listening to the person on the other end of his phone while Carlisle silently reeled. "He makes it easy," Jasper snickered. "He's hot, too, and Jesus Christ... when he's all turned on... fuck."

Carlisle retreated, feeling...

Well, he didn't quite know.

The anger was back, though it was low to the ground and contained, at least for the time being. Whomever he was talking to, Jasper was outright lying. But why?

Probably more importantly, what was he supposed to do about it?

Back in his room, Carlisle pondered the younger man's words, wondering if it was best to confront him.

But no. He had to remember Jasper, though he obviously had a hard time acting the part, was an adult. It was not Carlisle's duty to guide him. Technically, it never had been.

His only responsibility was to himself.

To that end, Carlisle resolved to find his self control. What happened between them tonight, the yelling and the tussle that bordered on an odd edge of violence, would never happen again.

A/N: Okay. Okay. I need to warn you of a couple things.

One, this will start posting when My Biggest Mistake, My Greatest Salvation is done... which isn't far off. Only one chap and epilogue left.

Two, I know some people hate this, so I'm warning you right now. Carlisle is my hard limit. Like ... CODE RED hard limit. If you read Comfortable, you'll know that when I write Carlisle, I frequently end up freaking the fuck out in my author's notes. So uh... feel free to skip it, but yeah. It's gonna happen.

I'm already breathing into a paper bag.

SO. Initial thoughts? Worries? Concerns? Hopes?