I feel I should give a tissue warning with this story, folks.
Many thanks to dragontattoo75 for pre-reading, harrytwifan for the original beta work, and Dorchester for the wonderful new banner.
Edited and updated October 2013.
Without You by sue273
"I miss you so much, Edward." Jasper's voice echoes across the sparsely furnished living room.
Yet another afternoon had been spent slumped in their favorite two-seater sofa with no one to hear his cries of pain and anguish, or to console him in his grief. Without Edward beside him, Jasper is desperately cold and lonely. The house they once shared seems to reflect his sorrow, and does not offer any comfort in return.
Jasper knows he should move on, but he can't, not just yet. This is the home where he spent many happy years living with Edward.
In his usual dream-like state, Jasper's fingers trace the patterns on the arm of their comfy sofa. If he closes his eyes, he knows he could imagine the arms of his loving partner wrapped around him, his lips brushing against his own, and his body pressed close to his, full of need and desire. His life has been a blur for so long now, with too many lost hours spent recalling romantic moments they had shared together.
Letting himself recall the past; how Edward would caress him, and the numerous times he had come undone under Edward's touch on this very sofa, was one way Jasper allowed himself in the hope he would feel close to his soul mate again. Obviously, it is nowhere like the real thing had ever been, but Jasper has no other choice. Death cruelly separated the two friends … lovers … partners five long years ago. All he has left now are a few mementos scattered around their house, and memories of the times spent with each other.
Jasper's misty eyes roam around the empty shell of a room. Large cardboard cartons are stacked in the corner, half-heartedly packed with his belongings. Numerous framed photographs are still in their designated places, waiting to join the rest of his possessions, but this final step is just too unbearable. The memories these pictures contain narrate their happy life together; each one telling a story, a captured moment in time, once experienced, but never to be repeated or forgotten. Holidays, parties, days out, just the two of them gazing at each other with looks of love and longing.
Jasper's life has become meaningless and empty without that one special person with which to share his life. No more conversations or laughs. No more kisses or gentle touches. No more intimate, sensual contact with Edward ever to be experienced again. Jasper has indeed lost contact with everyone, for his family and friends have deserted him, too. He is completely alone in this Godforsaken world.
The sight of a half-full bottle of malt whiskey, Edward's favorite tipple, along with his cut-glass tumbler resting on the mantelpiece, lures Jasper out of his seat. He reaches out to touch them, but his hand falters. If only alcohol could numb his pain.
Next to it, Jasper glances at another framed photograph. Perhaps his most favorite one of all, relaxed and not posed for the camera. His eyes trace the outline of the two of them on a sun-kissed beach just before they went snorkeling with some friends. He recalls Edward's quip about going down, and the grins and knowing looks they have on their faces bring a faint smile to his pale lips. These distant figures look happy, never dreaming separation was just around the corner for them.
His eyes drift to the solitary gold ring nestling in its box next to the photograph. This would have been a physical sign of their commitment to each other, and their longing to be together forever. A sob makes its way to Jasper's throat. He chokes out an anguished cry into the silent room. "Why?"
As usual, Jasper loses track of the hours that pass him by. He is vaguely aware each day of the sun rising and later setting again. At least he knows today is special; he clearly remembers that. The lovingly arranged bouquet of white lilies and carnations, Edward's favorite, reminds Jasper it would have been the anniversary of their first date today. Not that he could ever forget. Edward is constantly in his thoughts and always will be.
Next to the vase, a canister of sleeping tablets rests, waiting.
"Life has no meaning or purpose without you," Jasper cries for the hundredth time since they were tragically parted. If only he could sleep for a few hours, perhaps he could erase some of his pain or better still, if he could end this lonely existence.
Without any strong religious convictions or a belief in the existence of heaven, Jasper hopes that Edward's beliefs are true. He recalls the time when Edward expressed his desire for them to spend eternity together. Their time together on this planet had been so short, he could only hope for something more lasting and permanent in the life beyond. Edward promised he would never leave him and would always be with him. Jasper is positive he meant in life as well as in death.
Jasper sighs loudly with regret for the years they could have shared together if they had not been so brutally separated. He had wanted to be by Edward's side forever. Both of them thought a lifetime would not be long enough, but they didn't even get that. Fate can be so cruel at times.
Perhaps tomorrow will be the day when he will finally move on, but Jasper holds little hope of that. He knows he will keenly cling to any remaining connection with Edward for as long as he possibly can. For it is in this very room that Jasper still senses Edward's presence. Occasionally, he believes he catches his scent drifting in the air at night. Jasper likes to believe Edward is here with him, even though he can no longer see him.
"Edward, I know you're still here," he whispers into the cool air. "Let me see you one more time, please. I'd give anything to be able to touch you again. Then perhaps I can let you go."
Not only this, but on many mornings as Jasper lies in their bed, he thinks he can make out the imprint left by Edward's form, and hopes his lover has spent the night snuggled alongside him, providing him with much needed comfort. Edward's pillows are often left in disarray, just as they had been when they used to sleep together.
After living with someone and then losing them, it is the little things that remind you of that person. Each evening, Edward would pull the curtains closed. Ever since, they are drawn, as if to remind Jasper that Edward is still present.
As if on cue, the wind breezes through the open window and ruffles the lightweight curtains framing the window. As twilight approaches, the moving drapes offer Jasper another connection to his beloved Edward.
Over the past five years, Jasper has spent many hours each night looking into this darkened room, hoping for a glimpse of Edward moving in the shadows. All he wishes for is a few moments to gaze upon his beautiful face. One final glimpse—that is all he desires.
Jasper wraps his arms across his heaving chest, seeking some comfort. He longs for the warmth of Edward's touch, but all he feels is the chilled evening air as he reaches out into the space around him in search of his lost lover.
"I can't go on without you," Jasper cries in desperation. "I need to see you again."
The curtains move in the icy breeze. The faint scent of Edward's essence startles him as much as the sight of the now closed curtains.
"It can't be," Jasper murmurs. His eyes cast a look at the drained whiskey glass. "Edward, are you really here?" he asks with uncertain hope in his voice.
The sound of the whiskey bottle crashing to the wooden floor confirms he is not alone.
"Oh, Jasper, my love." Edward's soft, velvety voice floats hauntingly towards him. "I miss you so much, even after all this time."
With his eyes darting around the room, Jasper finally focuses on a tall figure as he steps forward. This is no ghostly apparition—Edward is here. Indeed, he appears to have substance.
Gasping in delight, Jasper takes a step closer to him. "Edward, I can see you," he exclaims, almost in disbelief.
"Jasper, I know you're here with me. I can sense you." Edward expresses his elation with equal fervor as he too scans the room.
It has been five agonizing years since Jasper has seen his handsome face. The Edward standing before him appears pale and drawn, thinner than he remembers, but still so breathtakingly beautiful and dressed in Jasper's favorite dark blue shirt. Hardly daring to move in case he disappears, Jasper commits every aspect of Edward's appearance to his memory. He knows he will need to recall them on the lonely nights that undoubtedly lay ahead of him. He doesn't want to forget any part of this magical encounter.
Reaching out his arms to his long-lost lover, Jasper gasps, "Baby, can I touch you?" His mind is a whir with thoughts of being in Edward's arms again.
Edward steps closer until there is the tiniest gap between them. Looking into his misty green eyes shimmering with moisture, Jasper feels he is home at last. Emanating the same relief, Edward inhales, appearing to drink in his missing lover's features. His heavy breath, infused with whiskey, washes over Jasper, making him shiver uncontrollably.
"Let me hold you one more time," Edward requests in a whisper against his ear.
Collapsing into each other's arms, Edward feels warm and hard, and oh so real to Jasper as he clasps him closely to his body.
Their very first kiss all those years ago had been tentative, and tonight it is like their first time all over again. Not sure if this is a vision or ghostly dream, Jasper brushes his lips against Edward's, tasting and relishing him at once. The resulting moan echoing through the room encourages him to continue. Their lips move more possessively in a devouring kiss, causing a rapid stirring in Jasper's groin—something he has not felt for so long.
With his lips tracing over Edward's delicious skin, Jasper watches Edward tilt his head back, his eyes closed, letting himself absorb the wondrous sensations running through his body.
Their need for each other takes over and they both succumb to this pleasure willingly.
Not certain how long the encounter will last, Jasper intends to make the most of the time they have been given. "Let me make love to you to remind you how much I love you," Jasper purrs into Edward's mouth.
Without hesitation, Edward leads his soul mate upstairs to their bedroom. Just as he led him on the very first night they made love.
With the same words of comfort and reassurance, Jasper speaks of love and desire to his partner as they nestle on their bed.
Jasper tries not to wonder whether this is a dream or hallucination. He doesn't care, for he hasn't felt this wonderful in such a long time. And at this moment, it definitely feels real and tangible to him. Inhaling Edward's scent deeply, Jasper knows that Edward is here by his side.
"I always feel so cold without you, Jasper," Edward says, moving off the bed and walking over to close the window. He swiftly strips out of his clothes before getting back into bed alongside Jasper.
Resuming their familiar intimacy, Jasper hovers over Edward's lean body."Can you feel my touch, Edward?" This is a plea as much as a question.
Edward's head falls back with a soft moan of desire and need. "My darling, I want to feel you again."
Jasper takes his time savoring the moment of surreal pleasure. Not wanting to take his eyes from his lover, Jasper's lips, tongue and even his teeth skim over Edward's smooth skin. He feels so, so warm, and for the first time since their separation, Jasper feels whole again, here in bed with his beloved.
He moves to scrape a fingernail against a nipple and Edward arches his back in response. His fingers trail over smooth skin, relishing the sight as Edward's muscles contract and tense under his soft touch. His tongue follows his hand, leaving a ripple of gooseflesh in its wake. Stroking and caressing his erection with love, Jasper's tongue swirls around the head as Edward surrenders to him. He works up and down his length, enjoying the feel of his hardness and the soft silk of Edward's skin in his mouth.
As lovers, they varied who had topped depending on the other's needs. Jasper knows precisely what Edward needs right now and is determined to make this feel wonderful for him. Jasper's eyes close, succumbing to the joy of imparting pleasure to his partner. All Jasper wants is to make love to Edward and see him writhing in ecstasy beneath him again.
After spending time laving his cock, Jasper slides back up to Edward's face and traces his nose along Edward's throat, taking in his familiar scent, until he reaches his jaw and nips lightly at it, teasing him just as he used to.
Reaching down between them, Edward takes their cocks and strokes them slowly in unison, as Jasper continues to lick and suck over Edward's delicious skin until it is almost too much. Neither of them wishes to come like this. They desperately want to be joined as one.
"Do you remember the first time we made love on our first anniversary?"
Edward nods. "You entered me from behind. I want to see your face as you make love to me this time."
Releasing his hand, Edward's legs splay apart, an open invitation for Jasper to taste him and touch him lovingly. He kisses and worships him, until Edward is begging for more. Finally, settling between his thighs, Jasper eases himself into Edward, pausing to look into his soul mate's eyes. Still seeing love and longing, he glides effortlessly inside until they are completely joined.
They are one again.
Maintaining a slow sensual rhythm, Jasper gazes down on Edward's beautiful face.
"You are still the love of my life," Edward purrs into the space between them, and reaches down to stroke himself languidly in time with Jasper's deep thrusts.
"Is this how it used to feel when I made love to you?" Jasper asks, hope in his voice. To Jasper, everything feels real. Just like it used to feel.
"It feels so good, so real. As if you are actually here with me, Jasper." Edward's bottom lip quivers as he speaks. Jasper responds by taking Edward's moist lips into his mouth, his body continuing to move sensually over his lover.
As Jasper expects, the moment of their reunion draws rapidly to a close. Both succumb to the intensity of the connection. He could only wish this experience would last all night long. Instead, he watches his partner's face as Edward's body clenches and his hips roll, telling Jasper he is close.
As Edward erupts, releasing a stream of warm come over his own stomach, Jasper feels himself empty along with a cry of sadness. He has missed this intimacy, this connection, more than anything else, and he's frightened he will never feel it again.
Despite the extreme pleasure they have just experienced, as Jasper stills, he notices Edward is weeping.
"I miss being with you so much, Jasper. I can't go on without you." Edward rolls onto his side, facing away from Jasper. Tears are streaming down his forlorn face. "I wish you were still here with me. Our bed is so empty without you. I wish I could die, so I can be with you."
Edward turns again to sob into his pillow. "Why did you have to leave me?"
His muffled cries break Jasper's heart. If only he could go back in time to undo the night they were tragically parted.
Jasper attempts to offer him comfort, but it's as if Edward cannot see him or sense him anymore. Waiting for him to cry himself out, Jasper gazes over his lover's body. He strokes his warm skin with his own icy hand, watching the gooseflesh rise, this time not from passion, but a response to the chilling effect of Jasper's unearthly touch.
Edward's arms come to rest on the pillow by his head when the tears finally stop. Jasper's eyes drift to his left hand. The glint of the gold ring on Edward's fourth finger catches his eye and makes him gasp in astonishment.
Jasper reaches to touch the ring he bought for Edward five years ago, but never had the chance to slide it onto his finger.
Jasper's ring is downstairs on the mantle-piece, and Jasper knows he will never wear it. If only he had been given the opportunity to propose to Edward on that fateful evening, they could have spent all these years living in happiness together.
Edward turns his head towards Jasper, resting his face on the damp pillow. "What words would you have used when you offered me this ring?" Edward asks, with more tears sliding down his still wet cheeks. "You don't know how many times I've imagined what you would have said to me. I knew that evening you were going to propose to me. Why did that bus have to take you from me? As I sat alone in the restaurant this evening, I hoped it had all been a bad dream, and that you would walk through the door to celebrate our anniversary, Jasper. We should have been there celebrating our tenth anniversary tonight."
If Jasper could produce tears, even ghostly ones, he would have done so at this very moment. Instead, he kneels on the bed beside Edward and proposes to him, just as he had intended on the very night his life was tragically cut short.
He doesn't know if Edward can hear his words of love and adoration, nor the profound commitment he makes to his soul mate. What he does know is that he cannot let Edward suffer anymore because of him. He knows it is time to move on. He knows Edward still loves him and will always do so. He can only hope that one day they will be reunited. For now, Edward has his life to live, and he won't do that if he is still pining for Jasper.
Jasper doesn't want to let Edward go. Not now. Not ever. He yearns to take Edward with him, but he knows this is not possible yet. Edward has the rest of his life in front of him.
Edward rises half-heartedly from the bed and slips on a pair of jeans. As he leaves the room, Jasper hears him muttering to himself. "I don't want to live without you."
Jasper remembers the whiskey and the sleeping tablets downstairs, and panic immediately sets in. "Edward, it's not your time yet—don't do anything foolish!" Jasper follows him swiftly down the stairs.
As Jasper enters the living room, Edward is sobbing by the fireplace, rotating the canister of pills in his hand.
"Edward, no! You have so many other lives to touch. Please don't do this!" Jasper implores him selflessly, trying in vain to knock the container from his hand.
"Life is so meaningless without you, Jasper." Edward marches to the kitchen with Jasper trailing close behind.
After filling a glass with water, Edward opens the canister hurriedly, the pills scattering onto the floor.
Leaning against the sink, his head drooping, Edward sighs loudly. "I'm sorry, Jasper. I can't do this." He looks up, only to catch a glimpse of his own reflection in the kitchen window.
Jasper steps up closely behind him. With all of his might, he wraps his arms around his lover, willing for him to feel his touch again.
Edward's gasp surprises Jasper, their eyes meeting in the reflection.
"Jasper!" He blinks in disbelief. "I can see you."
Smiling at each other, they spend time absorbing the sight before them. Lovers embracing, just how it should have been and should always be.
"You kept your promise to me, Edward. You have been here all this time. I just didn't see you until this evening." Jasper finally comprehends the truth.
"You've been here with me all this time!" Edward says in amazement. "You never left me."
"I'll never leave you," Jasper promises. "But your time on Earth is short, so please don't waste it pining after me." Jasper realizes now what he has to do. "I don't want to hold you back anymore. I've got to go for now, Edward, so you can move on."
"You know I'd do anything to bring you back to me."
Jasper's heart is aching, but he knows what he has to say to put Edward's heart and soul at rest. "You can't go on with your life if I'm still here. I promise I'll be waiting for you. One day we'll be together again and for all eternity."
"I knew there had to be more than this earthly existence for us," Edward says, searching his soul mate's eyes.
At that moment, Jasper knows for certain he will see Edward again in the future, and at last, he feels peace within.
Edward weeps as he gazes into Jasper's diminishing eyes. He accepts that it's time for both of them to move on. "I'll think of you every day, I promise. But I'll see you later, sweetheart."
"Much later, Edward. Remember I will always love you," Jasper calls, hoping he can still be heard as his image fades on the darkened glass.
He tries to focus on the tears gliding down Edward's face, and the last thing Jasper hears are Edward's love-filled words.
"Happy anniversary, Jasper."
Author's Note: Yes, these are the same characters from Happy Anniversary, Jasper.