SLASH BACKSLASH 4.0 CONTEST - HOSTS' PICK AWARD!

Title: Ashes to Ashes

Pairing: Jasper/Garrett

Rating: M (NC-17)

Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight.

Warnings: Dub-con, a bit of voyeurism, implied death of a character

Word Count: 5,680

Summary: In the end of time there's nothing left for Jasper to go on for, so when two strangers spend a night by his side he welcomes the distraction.

Please see all entries at: slashbackslash (livejournal) dot com


A/N

AU. I've taken great liberties – both with the characters (their appearances, abilities, history) as well as the Universe itself. The Garrett in this story is different to how he's portrayed in film version of BD2. Here's how he looks for me: . /tumblr_lwvi3lknXc1qjlaa7o1_

Also, Breaking Dawn events didn't happen.

I want to thank my awesome beta's Detochkina (thank you so so much bb for all your time and comments and patience!) and sillygoose20 (sonofsilly) who pushed me to my limits and helped me to make this story better.

Any mistakes left are my own.

More A/N on the end.


Ashes to Ashes

The lizard stays motionless on the dried-out dirt between blades of thin grass – the only living representation of the world in the middle of the desert, its edges blurred in the heated air. Jasper doesn't dare move; he's as still as the lizard itself, afraid of scaring it. He observes the faint, rapid pulse of the lizard's chest as it breathes. They both bask in the heat of the blinding white sun. In a couple of hours all the heat will be gone, replaced by the darkness and frost of the night.

Jasper doesn't really mind the heat or the cold; it doesn't affect him either way. For him it's just a matter of preference. He's always liked the warmth – a Texan child addicted to sun.

The lizard swallows and Jasper blinks, trying to judge how much time has passed since the lizard appeared. He wishes he had the power to bend things around him to his will – then he'd be able to force the lizard to stay and keep him company through the days to come. He watches the small body, wondering if he is as dusted and gray as the animal, if he's turned into a lizard himself, stilled in the middle of nowhere, waiting for nothing.

Eventually, the shadows of the thin grass move and the lizard runs away in one fast motion, leaving Jasper alone. The only proof of it ever having been there is a barely visible trail of prints left behind. He sighs and lies down, looking up, directly at the blinding sun before closing his eyes - red, yellow and black spots dancing under his eyelids. He wishes the lizard had stayed. He wishes he felt life around him again instead of the emptiness of dried-out ground, abandoned by all that's alive.

He rolls onto his stomach and inhales the dirt, pretending that the soil smells of Texan fields. Maybe it was a forest or a green field once, but now there's only plain, flat land, extending for miles and miles, as far as sight can reach, only enhanced by some scarce blades of sharp colorless grass pointing out to the sky here and there, and old branches scattered around. There isn't even a whisper of wind. Jasper smiles bitterly when he realizes, not for the first time, that he misses even such a simple thing as the annoying buzz of bugs. But it's been ages, literally, since the meadows turned gray. There's no point in reliving the lost time. He knows it, but still, he indulges and at the same time punishes himself by allowing his thoughts to wander about, bringing back razor-sharp memories – of her delicate little fingers threading his hair, soft lips pressing to his, small breasts, soft and yielding under his palms. When memories are as vivid as the present, or even feel more real, how does one know what is now?

He used to think of his perfect memory a curse, but now he kind of likes it. It's like rereading favorite scenes in a well-known book. The trick is to block the bad moments and focus on the best ones.

Jasper picks on a lose thread on his jeans – they are almost totally worn out by now, faded, stiff from the dirt, with holes at the seams, and he may have to try to find something new next time he's near a human compound. It's hard to get decent jeans these days and Jasper is a bit sorry he'll have to part with this pair. He thinks that the world around him is just like those jeans – old and stretched, and full of holes. He remembers that everyone expected some kind of apocalypse to hit the Earth. He used to believe it would come, too. He thought there would be a huge war, something he would understand and maybe take part in. Instead, there was nothing but a slow decay – the gradual fall of the human race and the world surrounding it – till the point they're at now, when all that's alive is rare.

He sighs again and rolls back to face the sun. Not that long now before the darkness falls.

He hears and sees them long before they reach his spot next to a dried-out branch. He's prepared, sitting straight on the ground, aware of the surroundings, on guard even if it might not be necessary.

There are two of them: vampires, like him. Wanderers, as most of them are these days. It might go well and soon they'll be on their way, as it usually happens, or Jasper will have to fight. Either way is fine with Jasper. Anything is fine at this point, in the middle of this void Jasper's found himself in.

They approach him cautiously, judging his posture, probably assessing the possibility of him being a danger. He stands up calmly, his eyes fixed on them, his hands down along his body.

Jasper frowns. Usually he has no problem reading others, but, surprisingly, these two do not feel transparent to him. He eyes them more closely.

The male vampire is slim and tall, his long, straight, ash-blond hair hanging loosely. He looks very young, no more than twenty years old, maybe less, but so does Jasper, and yet he's been walking the Earth for centuries. Just like Jasper, the blond vampire is dressed only in an old-looking pair of jeans and is bare chested and barefoot. Jasper thinks that the boy resembles the lizard he's seen earlier – pale, ashen, as if he's lost all his colors, as if he's been washed out somehow, and all that's left is the grayish tone of his skin stretched over his sharp bones. The feeling Jasper gets from this boy is also muted – his emotions are subdued, barely there when Jasper prods deeper. It's as if trying to see a silhouette behind frosted glass – it's there, but blurry on the edges and untouchable. For Jasper, who relies so much on his gift of reading others, it's irritating and disturbing, putting him even more on guard.

The other vampire is a woman. She's almost as tall as Jasper, dark-skinned, with long, black, braided hair. She is almost naked, wearing only a loin cloth resembling a leather skirt, as worn-out as the jeans on her companion and matching the color of the desert around them. Tribal tattoos – black dots, circles, and lines, as well as patterns made from small scars – are covering her whole body and face. She must have obtained them while she was still human, so Jasper supposes that she must be either very old, dating back to first tribal cultures of the Earth, or much younger than he is, turned when humans started forming bands and enclaves again, dredging out their ways of life from long lost native civilizations.

When Jasper focuses on trying to decipher her emotions he's suddenly caught up in them, and he feels as if he's drowning in deep, dense and dark water. His limbs are heavy and restrained, and he can't move nor flee, captured in this trap, wanting desperately to shut himself off and keep as far from this woman as possible. The grip on his mind lets go as abruptly as it's started and Jasper realizes he's standing with his eyes shut tight. When he opens them to see the familiar surroundings the two vampires stand patiently in front of him. He can still sense the woman's strange aura – a flickering of dark emotions covering her, but it's less intense now, and no longer directed toward him. Jasper guesses she must have some kind of gift that he can't decipher. He's not sure he wants to know what it is.

"I'm Garrett," the male vampire says. His voice is cool and steady, somehow making Jasper think of mercury being heavily poured from one vessel into another. "And this is Zafrina." He motions toward the woman who stays still, not making any sound. "We'd like to spend the night here, if it's all right. We'll go in the morning. We prefer to travel by day."

Jasper is surprised to hear that, for there's no reason for the vampires to travel only in the daylight. But then he remembers his own preference for heat and the sun and just nods in acknowledgement.

"Jasper," he offers curtly and sits back on the ground. The introductions are over; there's no need to say anything more.

Jasper watches them silently as they gather up scarce dried pieces of bushes to make a pile out of them. Then, to Jasper's astonishment, Garrett produces an ancient cigarette lighter out of his jeans' pocket – with a metal wheel, a knot and nacre encrusted shell. He rubs it fast, producing a spark. The lighter is clearly empty, so there's no flame, but the spark is enough to set fire to a small bundle of dry tinder Zafrina holds in her hands.

Jasper has never seen vampires setting up a fire, but he's not one to question or judge. In fact, he likes it – the flicker of flames, the warmth it produces, the chaotic patterns of shadows it casts. It's almost as if it's alive, moving constantly and capturing Jasper's gaze, hypnotizing him. Still, he's curious.

"Why the fire?" he asks. He knows they don't need it. In fact they should fear it since it's one of the few forces that can harm an immortal.

Garrett shrugs. "It's what people have done since the beginning of time."

"You are not people," Jasper points out.

"We are the closest thing to what people used to be," Garret answers with a note of bitterness in his voice.

Jasper has to agree. He, too, can barely tell the humans apart from the animals nowadays. Sometimes the only indication is a slightly different pattern of emotional map. Still, occasionally he's wrong and the hunt leaves Jasper with a slight reddish glint in his eyes and a feeling of nausea for weeks.

Zafrina sits by the fire, extending her long legs in front of her. Garrett crouches on the other side of the fire and uses a stick to play with the flaming twigs. Jasper keeps his spot next to the dried-out branch, observing the other two.

"So, what are you doing here?" Garrett starts. "It's what, three hundred miles from the nearest enclave?"

Jasper nods, confirming.

"Not much to eat here," Garrett observes.

"No," Jasper agrees.

He could cut the discussion at this point, but something in the whole situation makes him want to share. After all, he won't see those two ever again, so there won't be any consequences to what he says tonight.

"Does it matter where we are? Everywhere is the same, anyway. It's just a place. I can as well wait for the world to end here," he says.

There's a shadow of a smile on Garrett's face. "The world will never end."

"Maybe so." It did for Jasper with the loss of Alice. "Maybe so," he repeats. "Let's just hope I won't be here for eternity, then."

Garrett looks at him, surprised.

"I'm just tired," Jasper admits honestly. "So tired. It's way after my time here. I need to pass."

If he were more like Edward he would have probably gone in search of the Volturi or some other vampire guard, but he's never been much for hysterical gestures. He's patient. He knows the final fight will come one day and he will be released.

Sometimes he wonders if the Cullens are still somewhere out there, trying to save the people they live among, or if they have perished like most of the undead. But that doesn't matter to him anymore. He chose to leave them long ago. He remembers the days after Alice's death – the constant pity and sorrow he'd felt from the family, Esme's reassuring gestures, Edward's self-blaming thoughts, Carlisle's silent pain. He recalls running until there was nowhere to run anymore, and days spent in a haze without noticing the world going on its way. Maybe now he'd be able to face them again, but so much time has passed, and they've moved so far apart that he sees no point in going back.

Zafrina says something Jasper can't understand and looks at Jasper speculatively. She holds her gaze on him for a longer while, leaning back on her hands. A flicker of an emotion, different from the deep black pitch Jasper has been trying hard to avoid, washes over Jasper, and suddenly Zafrina laughs, baring her white, sharp teeth. Her laugh is disturbing, rough and not human; it doesn't reflect amusement, but something else Jasper can't name just yet. Zafrina leans back to the fire and spits venom in it, making it hiss, and the sparks shoot up like in an old bad movie about witches.

It's ridiculous to fear it, Jasper thinks, but still he shivers, feeling as if something cold's crawling up his spine.

Zafrina laughs again, this time in a more natural way, and says something quickly to Garrett in her strange language that sounds more like clicking than words. Garrett shakes his head, watching Jasper. Zafrina speaks more, motioning to Jasper, her voice insisting, teeth flashing in the firelight. She nods towards Jasper, then to Garrett. Then, finally, she makes a gesture which is very clear to Jasper – pushing the finger of one hand into a circle made of her index finger and thumb of the other one.

"She wants us to fuck." Garrett explains to Jasper what doesn't need to be explained and rolls his eyes. Zafrina smiles again, nods and waves her hands, as if encouraging them to proceed.

It is an idiotic request, of course, but for some reason, unknown even to himself, Jasper doesn't find it repellent. He glances at the pale vampire – so calm and subtle with that beautiful face, long limbs and soft-looking white skin. Jasper can bet Garrett's hair feels silky when brushed through one's fingers; he can bet Garrett's skin is cool and smooth when stroked. He wouldn't mind a brief moment of closeness, of touching and feeling the touch, even if it's without a deeper meaning. In fact, he wants it badly.

He wants it so hard that he's willing to cheat in this game.

Slowly, not wanting to get caught, he sends a first wave of gentle arousal towards Garrett. He observes Garrett's lips parting a bit, his eyes half closing because this must feel nice, even if it's induced. He diverts Garrett's attention by asking, "Does Zafrina speak common language?"

"Oh yes," Garrett answers, but clearly he's having some trouble concentrating, what with Jasper capturing him with another, stronger wave of desire. "She just doesn't like it, so she uses hers. I don't mind." He speaks of her in a tone of reverence Jasper doesn't understand. To him the two vampires are totally different – Garrett appearing so gentle and reserved, and Zafrina's somehow dark and feral – and Jasper can't fathom why would they choose to travel together.

"You seem to be very fond of her," he observes, ignoring the fact that Zafrina is right next to them and surely listening.

"She's… I can't describe it, really. She's my savior, my force and my sustenance. I'd follow her anywhere." Garrett smiles lightly and Jasper wonders if maybe Zafrina and Garrett are mates and he shouldn't mess with whatever there is between those two. But it was Zafrina who suggested the sex, after all, Jasper thinks, a bit confused.

However, his musings are interrupted by Garrett, who has finally given in to Jasper's manipulations and moves closer, reaching out with his hand. Jasper should have been prepared for this, still he jumps at the first contact. Garrett's fingers are dry, smooth as marble. The touch is fleeting, barely there, but to Jasper it feels like his skin has been burned by the contact.

It's been so long since the last time, he thinks, trying to explain to himself why he's reacting this way.

Garrett traces Jasper's forearms with his fingertips, the motion faltering slightly at each one of Jasper's scars.

This should feel nice, Jasper tries to persuade himself as he closes his eyes. This is what he's asked for, what he's wanted, what he's manipulated Garrett into. He thought that he craved this slow and gentle touch, cautious and almost innocent. He should enjoy it, he should yearn for it, lean into it like a cat seeking attention. And yet it annoys him, makes him feel uncomfortable and irritated. He realizes he's gritting his teeth while he's trying to endure it. He'd prefer if Garrett just fucked him hard. He'd welcome the sudden stretch of his body around someone else's intrusion and the itchy burn of the venom inside. Or the other way - he'd like to claim this slim body and make the boy his. Maybe that would make him feel more real and more connected to this young man, who's being just too careful with him.

But he says nothing because Garrett, as if sensing Jasper's thoughts, suddenly drags his teeth along Jasper's forearm, pressing harder and cutting the hard skin in a long line that joins Jasper's scars together. The cut burns. Jasper hisses and grabs Garrett's hair in a tight grip, then pulls, holding Garrett's head up.

"Don't," he warns, but Garrett only looks straight at him, challenging him.

Jasper shoves Garrett to the ground, eliciting a small "umpf" sound out of him. He looks down at Garrett's hair, splayed in disarray on the dusty ground.

"I want…" Jasper starts and pauses, not sure how he's going to end this sentence. This Garrett boy is still hard to read. Even now, pinned under Jasper's body and clearly aroused, with his lips parted and gaze unfocused, he's a puzzle, and Jasper doesn't know what Garrett is really feeling.

It frustrates him, so he tries gaining better focus on Garrett's emotions, dig deeper in search of them. And yes, there it is, a slow flare of want somewhere underneath it all, increasing when Jasper runs his hands down Garrett's body, pressing his palms along the smooth skin of his bare arms and abdomen.

But that's not enough, Jasper thinks, as he slowly unbuttons first his and then Garrett's jeans, undressing them slowly until they're both naked and lying on the ground – Jasper covering Garrett with his body, skin to skin. Jasper reaches out with his gift and fills the boy up with desire – as raw and flaming as he can muster – until Garrett gasps and writhes helplessly underneath him.

"Can you feel it?" Jasper asks, holding Garrett's chin between his fingers, propping his face up. Maybe it would be a good time for a kiss, and Jasper leans down, brushing his lips against Garrett's, but then he backs out and stays with their mouths barely touching. He brings his hand between them instead and traces the shape of Garrett's lips, then forces the boy to open his mouth.

"Lick," he orders and Garrett obeys, his tongue slick around Jasper's fingers. Jasper reaches down, between Garrett's legs and behind, rubbing his wet fingers there, and making Garrett wince a little, because the venom prickles, Jasper knows it.

He grips Garrett's hips and holds him tight. As he opens him up slowly he doesn't let go of the hold, and he grips him even tighter when he enters Garrett and thrusts into him, covering them both in the cool dust that surrounds them on the desiccated ground.

Garrett feels solid and soft at the same time under Jasper's hands. He's pliant, letting Jasper do whatever he wants, obediently moving in the way Jasper guides him. But Jasper knows Garrett could break the grip and fight Jasper off if he really wanted to. He smells like a warmed-up sandstone, and Jasper inhales deep, with his mouth opened next to Garrett's neck, where the smell is the strongest.

Jasper can sense more and more of the boy's emotions – all touchable now – hot and sincere, wrapping Jasper up like a warm blanket. The little sounds Garrett makes, the way he clenches his fists pressed to Jasper's arms, the flash of his teeth when he opens his mouth – it all pushes Jasper into a frenzy, and his thrusts become deeper and faster. He loves that he can evoke so many feelings in this placid, icy boy and he can't contain himself any longer. Perhaps he's emitted the desire he feels, or perhaps Garrett was close, too, because when Jasper starts coming, Garrett shudders also, his cock trapped between their bodies wetting their skin.

They lie next to each other on their backs, Garrett with his eyes closed and face relaxed, calm, and unreadable to Jasper again. For some reason this makes Jasper sad; he wouldn't mind the boy staying as emotionally "awake" as he was just a few minutes ago. He's sorry it's all over already. The void that surrounds him in this desert seems to be sucking him in again and he's not sure he can fight it. He sighs and threads his fingers into Garrett's hair, playing with the strands, and enjoying the cool, smooth feeling.

Jasper turns his head and looks toward Zafrina, who still sits by the fire, watching the whole scene in silence. When their eyes lock, she smiles and murmurs something. Then she draws shallow lines on the dirt with her fingers. Her movements are fast and practiced. She picks up a scoop of earth and throws it into the air. After the dust descends Jasper looks again at Zafrina, who circles her index finger, motioning for Jasper to look around.

When he does, he sees Garrett leaning over him. The boy shines, even though there's not enough light for it, and the sun won't be up for another couple of hours. Garrett's skin is silvery, his gray hair looks as if it's been made from stardust. And there, behind his slim body, Jasper sees a shape of something else, something unimaginable, not possible – wings that also shimmer, big and yet soft looking, inviting Jasper to touch, to run his hands over them like cat's fur. Jasper reaches for them, but his fingers meet only void. He looks up at Garrett who just shakes his head. Garrett's fingers are now cold on Jasper's skin when he strokes his face and neck.

And suddenly it all makes sense to Jasper – the emotionally wiped out man, the black witch who accompanies him, the wings, the setting.

"You are Death, aren't you?" Jasper asks, keeping his gaze steady at the pale vampire. "And she's the Dark Angel coming for me. This is the end of my time."

Garrett doesn't answer; he's still stroking Jasper's hair at the nape of his neck, contemplative. But he doesn't seem surprised at the question, nor does he deny it. He just glances at Zafrina instead, and then he kisses Jasper, long and soft, making Jasper open up for him, yield and submit to his doings. Garrett's fingers first trace circles around Jasper's jaw, but then he moves them to Jasper's throat, wrapping them around the neck, and leaves them there, a steady weight on Jasper's skin.

"Is that what you want?" he asks.

"Does it matter what I want?" What is the point in Jasper's answering when the universe has its own plan for him.

"It always matters," Garrett says, moving his fingers along Jasper's body and arms, until he restrains Jasper's hands on the ground.

"Can I choose my own way of death, then?"

"That I can't answer. But we can be anywhere you want tonight. Just… tell me. Pick a place. What do you like?"

Jasper hesitates only for a second before he answers with certainty, "I like fields and green grass. The way they used to be once, remember? And I like forests. Water. This." He nods to Garrett's fingers wrapped around his wrist, nails digging lightly into his skin.

"Then you can have it." Garrett turns to Zafrina in silent request, and his wings grow bigger, spreading wide, opening over Jasper and clouding the view of the stars.

When they fold again, the desert is gone, replaced by trees and moss. Everything around is fresh and alive – Jasper can see brown branches above his head and the deep green of leaves moving in the light wind, lush and verdant while they flicker and twist. The light that filters through the leaves is soft and gentle on his eyes, so different from the blinding white of the desert's sun that he's grown accustomed to. He can hear birds chirping and flying around, distant sounds of small animals scampering, the flow of stream passing nearby, and the buzzing of mosquitoes.

He almost chokes, tearless, when he inhales the rich smell of the forest. His chest clenches – he shuts his eyes tight and tries not to cry, because this is something lost so long ago, along with the life he led and the ones he loved. The scent of moist, of mushrooms, moss, pine leaves and bark makes him heady. He thinks this must be Heaven, because if not this, then what is?

He feels press of fingers on his arms and looks at Garrett, who's still leaning over him.

"All right? This is all right?" Garrett asks.

"God, yes. Yes." Jasper nods, still feeling like he's going to break down at any moment. He realizes he clings to Garrett, digging his fingertips in his forearms, probably hurting him. "Sorry," he mutters as he releases his grip.

"That's okay."

"Is this my Heaven?" It can't be Hell – even though Jasper's always believed he was doomed. But it can't be bad – not when it's so beautiful. "Is this my Redemption?"

"Ah, Jasper…" Garrett starts. "Just take it the way it is now, okay? Nothing lasts. So take it now."

When Garrett leans down to kiss Jasper again, Jasper thinks that he could fall for this calm, reserved boy – in another time, another universe maybe. There's just something about Garrett that soothes everything inside of Jasper, makes him feel safe and like he belongs.

Figures, Jasper chuckles inwardly without humor, figures I'd fall for Death… He's been Death's ambassador for so many years, bringing the end to all the living and eternal ones he's destroyed during his existence.

Jasper wishes he had more time with Garrett, which is ironic, because time is something he's had too much of. He's learned to pass his days without acknowledging the time, otherwise he'd have gone insane. And now, every minute seems suddenly so valuable. When he looks at Garrett's pale face and feels the slow current of his emotions underneath the surface of restraint, he regrets that he won't be able to get to know Garrett better.

So he doesn't protest when this time around it's Garrett who pins Jasper to the ground, his long hair falling on Jasper's face in a gentle caress, his searching fingers prodding and slow – first on Jasper's buttocks and then between them. He gasps when Garrett licks his chest and abs and then goes lower, mouthing at Jasper's cock, venom dripping from Garrett's mouth and trickling down slowly. Jasper feels himself being spread as Garrett rubs the venom in, slicking Jasper over.

Neither does Jasper protest when he's being entered; he just closes his eyes and takes in all he can – how good it feels to be wanted again, how deliciously deep the thrusts go inside him, how Garrett's cock pulses when he spills. Jasper doesn't even care if he comes, but still he's grateful when Garrett's fingers wrap around him tightly and bring him off, giving him the last moments of fulfillment, bliss and oblivion.

But there's indeed almost no time left; the dawn is close and soon the desert will be flooded by the blinding light and heat. There won't be any warning, the sun will be high up just like that – as if it had been lit by a click of a button, and had not risen by itself.

Jasper feels Garrett's fingers on his eyelids and gives in, allows it to be what it's supposed to be - the final good-bye to the world. He is ready to pass the ultimate border between the living and the dead. The sounds of forest around him disappear, the splashing of water and swoosh of the trees melt away, the soft whistle of wind in Garrett's wings fades, until there's nothing but silence left.

When Jasper dares to open his eyes, he's all alone, back in his desert under the vicious, cruel sun, the dirt already heated up and burning his skin. He knows he hasn't dreamt – he can't sleep – but maybe he's gone crazy and hallucinated? Maybe he's spent too much time daydreaming, and his mind's started to twist and play tricks on him, creating images of places long gone and people who don't exist?

But when he looks around he sees the remains of the fire on the ground. Surely he hasn't lit it himself? So, maybe everything was real and he's already dead? Maybe this desert is his punishment, his Purgatory or Hell for his life lived in sin, and Death only wanted him to realize that?

He stands up and runs his hands through the ashes that are left from the fire. They are as hot as the surrounding dust. There are also footprints on the sand and a lingering scent of burned wood, mixed with the sweet trail of his one-night companions, and with something else he'll never forget - the memory of Garrett's warm to touch skin like a heated stone on a bright summer day, and of Garrett's sleek hair covered in the desert's dust. Jasper can smell it all over himself - on each part of him that Garrett has touched.

If they were real, Jasper feels sorry they've left him. He's never thought he'd be able to find anyone in his life again, not after losing his mate, but apparently time heals all, even for a vampire with his total recall, and he'd be willing to try to live and maybe love again.

He pulls his jeans on and sits on the ground near the ashes, turning his face toward the sun. He'll follow the footprints later, he thinks. He's got all the time in the world.

Miles up north two vampires maintain a steady rhythm as they walk, fast and soundless.

"That was beautiful – what you showed us last night. The forest, the wings..." Garrett says, glancing at Zafrina.

She just shrugs. But after a while she starts in her usual mixture of common and native languages Garrett's grown accustomed to during all the years they've travelled together, "He looked like he needed it. He wanted to meet his Aya. Know? Drink with the spirits, talk to them."

"Yes," Garrett says. He checks behind them as if he could still see Jasper in the desert somewhere in the distance. "Me too."

"You wanted to join ã? The dead ones?" Zafrina sounds surprised.

"No. I meant the rest of it - not the Death part. Although I understand why he did. And I wish I could be a saving angel, freeing those who we meet from all the tiredness and emptiness," he adds with a hint of sadness in his voice.

"You should stay with him. Know?"

Garrett looks at Zafrina, surprised. "Why?"

"Human enough for you. He is very human. And you match. You fucked good." She laughs.

Garrett smiles. "Right." But then he grows serious. "I can't leave you."

"Maybe it is time." Zafrina says. "I can't feed you with things not real forever. Not enough for you anymore. You are more and more cold. I make you see - he makes you feel."

Garrett nods. "It was nice to feel something again."

They march in silence afterwards, until the night falls and they stop, waiting for the sun to rise and warm them up again. They sit motionless next to each other, Garrett longing for his everyday portion of images Zafrina produces to make him think he's feeling something again.

"What would you do without me?" he asks, still not able to stop thinking about the golden-haired man they've left behind.

Zafrina smiles and pats Garrett's hand. "I will search for my sisters. Just like now. I will be fine. Here," she says. "I got something good for you tonight, my poranga."

Garrett smiles to the endearment. "It's you who are beautiful," he murmurs to Zafrina, as he spreads on the ground waiting for the images to hit him. When he sees Zafrina's home in the Amazon forest – as fresh and alive as if it were here and real – he knows it's her way of saying goodbye.

In the morning he kisses her on the lips, they hug, and Garrett turns, heading back south.


A/N

I want to thank everyone who voted for this fic, the judges and the hosts of SBS4.0. Thank you hosts for picking this story! I'm honoured and so happy!

This is probably my farewell to writing Twilight fanfiction. But I'll be in other fandoms - Merlin, Teen Wolf :) You can find me on Twitter, livejournal and A03 - I'm mssdare there.

And if you like this Jasper you might perhaps like my Under the Waves angsty fic - many aspects are similar.

Thank you once more.