My entry for the SWW Halloween Picture Prompt Competition. I placed 3rd, woohoo, so excited! Thanks to judges Delphius Fanfic, Nat Wood, and Alyse Masen for all their hard work, and to Arc Morpheus for a BADASS banner that I will link on my profile.
Thank you to my beta, Discordia81, and my pre-readers, dragontattoo75 and Nikita2009 - you ladies are rockstars.
Title: A Patient Eye
Number of picture prompt used: 4
Word Count: 7695
Summary: Garrett goes to the old barn when he needs space to think. Under shingles and old boards turned grey with age, he finds the silence he craves. Until the night a figure steps out of the woods.
Garrett goes to the old barn after supper when he needs space to think. The building straddles the corner of the northwest field, and is as far from the farmhouse as he can get without leaving the property. Under shingles and boards turned silvery grey with age, he finds the silence he craves.
Sitting at a table near the open door with a camping lantern, he watches the passage of the moon and stars across the sky. He breathes in the smell of ancient hay as the wind whispers through the trees beyond the fence, sounding like voices and, sometimes, laughter.
Often, he finds it hard to tear himself away from the barn; he would spend all night in the old building if he could. His absence would be noted, however, and so he returns to the warmth of his brother's house, and to the place he knows he should belong.
"What do you do out there, all by your lonesome?" Bella asks, handing him a mug of tea when he sits down at the kitchen table.
Garrett trains his eyes on his cup before answering. "Sit and think, mostly."
"You can't do that here?" Jasper's words are light, but there is an undertone of concern in his voice. "Are we too noisy for you?"
"No, it's not that."
Garrett can't bring himself to tell them that he feels like a stranger among the people he loves. Jasper and Bella are good to him. He is glad they dragged him along when they moved to Sequim, and the job on their horse farm is the best he has ever known. He should feel content and at home in this house filled with warmth. He doesn't. Garrett doesn't feel truly at home anywhere.
Jasper and Bella don't really know him; no one does. They have no idea how hard he has tried his whole life to fit in, or about the smile he has worn for years to mask his loneliness. They don't know about the awkward fumblings he endures with the girls he dates, or the bewilderment he feels after every encounter. They don't know how badly he yearns for closeness.
He has never felt the quiet joy he sees in Jasper's eyes when Bella smiles. He's never known the warmth of familiar kisses exchanged over morning coffee, or a comforting arm around his waist as he climbs the stairs to bed. A creeping despair sometimes comes over him when he watches his brother and Bella, and a terrible envy that forces him out to the old barn in the northwest field.
"About the Halloween party we're throwing..." Bella begins before trailing off. Her expression is thoughtful when she speaks again. "I was thinking we'd use the old barn, if you guys are okay with that."
Garrett scrubs his face with one hand, smiling tiredly. "Like a haunted house, you mean?"
"Sort of. We could decorate it and have a bonfire outside. It'd be fun, don't you think?" Her eyes move back and forth between the two men excitedly.
"Sounds great, baby," Jasper says with a smile.
"I'll do the decorating, Bell."
It's Garrett's turn to grin when two sets of surprised eyes turn toward him. "What? I helped Mama decorate the house for Halloween every year, in case you forgot. You just give me the stuff and I'll handle the rest. Trust me, it'll be great."
A slow smile grows on Bella's face. "Okay, Gar. You've got three weeks. Let's see what you can do."
The evenings grow colder and the leaves begin to change. Jasper encourages him to use the generator, but Garrett prefers the quiet to warmth. He carries a thermos of tea next to the camping lantern on his trips to the barn. He sets up more lanterns and sips the hot, sweet stuff while he cleans and hauls out old equipment, and listens to the whispers in the wind.
The moon is full on the night he looks up to see movement in the trees beyond the fence. He blinks when a figure walks out of the woods and moves steadily toward the barn. He knows he should be apprehensive at the unexpected sight. Instead, he feels only curiosity at each step the figure takes closer.
The man is tall and slim, dressed in simple, dark clothes that seem too light for the crisp night air. His angled features come together with startling harmony, and his large eyes shine in the moonlight. Garrett gets to his feet, his chest tightening as he stares at the man on the other side of the fence. The words he plans to speak fade on his tongue when the stranger smiles.
"I wasn't expecting to see anyone else out tonight." The man's low tenor voice is slightly rough, as if he hasn't spoken in some time.
"Ah, I... same here," Garrett stammers, feeling grateful for the darkness that conceals the color heating his cheeks. "I mean, I've never seen anyone out here at this time of night."
"I walk when I have trouble sleeping." The man steps forward to rest his hands on the top rail of the fence. His eyes move over Garrett's face before he smiles again. "I don't usually walk this way, though; thought I'd try a new route tonight for a change."
"And here you are."
"Here I am."
Garrett steps closer to the fence without meaning to.
"Do you... you live near here then?"
The man nods, his smile growing shyer somehow, but no less striking. "Yes, not far from here."
"And that happens to you a lot? Trouble sleeping, I mean?" Garrett's voice is hesitant, even as he takes another step forward.
"All the time, unfortunately."
Garrett's steps lead him just out of arm's reach of the man. The edges of the quiet world around them seem to fade as he locks eyes with the stranger. There is no cold wind, or hard ground beneath his feet, or barn behind his back. A feeling stirs in his chest, much like a hum, filling him slowly.
"Do you come out here often?"
"Yes." Garrett licks his lips. "I come out here to clear my head. To give my brother and his wife some privacy, too."
"You don't mind being alone?"
"I'm used to it."
Garrett's heart gives a little squeeze when a frown crosses the man's face.
"I could walk by here again. If you don't mind, that is."
"I'd like that," Garrett says, his face flushing again at his own eagerness.
The man chuckles softly, but his eyes are kind. "I'll come back tomorrow."
"It's late." The man's voice is surprisingly gentle. For a moment, he trains his eyes over Garrett's shoulder in the direction of Jasper's house. "I'm sure your family will be wondering where you are."
Garrett frowns, but knows the man is right; Jasper and Bella will be wondering where he is.
"I should probably get back. What about you, can you find your way?"
"My family knows where I am," the man says simply. He steps back away from the fence, an expression of wistfulness crossing his face before he takes a small flashlight from his pocket. "Don't worry; I won't get lost."
"What's your name?" Garrett's breath catches in his throat when a smile lights the man's face.
"See you tomorrow, Garrett," Edward says, raising a hand before turning toward the woods.
Garrett shivers when he steps inside the farmhouse door, blinking in surprise when his brother hurries out of the kitchen to meet him.
"Where were you?" Jasper's brow furrows. "I was about to come out there looking for you."
"Oh… I lost track of time," Garrett says, aware that he doesn't remember the walk back from the barn. He feels almost dazed. "Sorry, Jay; I didn't mean to worry you."
Jasper sighs and raises a hand to run through his hair. "It's okay. Look, just be careful walking around in the dark. I know you like it out there. I'd probably want a man cave too if I was stuck living with an old married couple."
"It's not like that," Garrett insists, shaking his head. His heart sinks at the thought that Jasper suspects he is unhappy. "And you're not old; you're only two years older than me."
Jasper's eyes are sympathetic. "Yeah, well, it is like that a little bit. It sucks that you're alone out here, Gar. If we lived a little closer to town, you'd have places to go. People to see..."
Garrett thinks of the tall man by the barn and feels strangely lighter. He also finds that he cannot tell his brother about Edward; the words won't come. He smiles instead, and nudges Jasper with his elbow.
"I'm fine, Jay," he says quietly. "Don't worry about me."
The next night, he sees movement in the trees after setting the lantern on the table in the barn. He walks out to find Edward by the fence, his eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. Garrett smiles to think that Edward was waiting for him.
"I wondered if I'd see you out here tonight." The right side of Edward's mouth lifts in a lopsided greeting.
Garrett stops a foot from the fence, his hands shoved in his pockets. Again, the world around them becomes insubstantial as he looks at the man before him. The space between the two men, however, crackles with energy. The hum returns, filling Garret's chest as he and Edward watch each other.
"I told you yesterday; I'm out here almost every night," Garrett says.
"So you did. I guess you could say I was hedging my bets, then."
"In case you were being polite... letting the insomniac roaming your woods down easy."
"I wouldn't do that," Garrett blurts out, his face flushing.
Edward frowns. "Wouldn't do what; let me down easy?"
"No, be polite." He shrugs and pulls one hand out of his pocket to rub at the back of his neck. "I live on a rural horse farm and spend most of my evenings alone in an abandoned barn. My social etiquette's kind of rusty."
The sound of Edward's laughter makes Garrett's throat tighten. He takes another step closer as a distant part of his brain wonders at how warm he feels, despite the chill in the air.
"You're doing fine, Garrett. I haven't seen any rusty manners yet."
"Yes, you have." He grimaces with embarrassment. "I'm making you stand outside in the dark. I haven't even asked you around the fence yet."
"Ask me now, then," Edward says, smiling softly.
So Garrett does.
When he explains why he is decorating the barn, Edward offers to help, falling in beside him to clear old boxes and sweep the floors. In the stronger light, Garrett notices that Edward's eyes are a silvery grey, almost the same color as the weathered boards of the old barn. There are strands of red in his brown hair, and tiny freckles scattered across his cheekbones. The corners of his eyes crinkle when he smiles, and his pink lips are pale and perfect.
Garrett swallows hard when he understands that he finds Edward more than handsome; the man may be, in fact, the loveliest creature he has ever seen. Despite this rather stupefying thought, Garrett feels... easy, with Edward. So much so, that words tumble out of him in a manner very out of character.
He tells Edward about his work on the horse farm. He describes the students and horses he most enjoys, smiling when Edward asks his questions about riding and roping. He talks about Jasper and Bella, and the families they left in Montana when they moved to Sequim.
"What's your brother like?" Edward's eyes are bright with curiosity.
"Jasper's... fearless. He's smart and cool, and just a good guy. He hung out with older kids when we were growing up, but he was the one telling them what to do. He's more of a leader than a follower. He was good at school and great at sports, and popular... especially with girls."
Garrett smiles. "Jay's always been one to shine."
"I'm the quiet one, I guess. That's what my parents say, anyway. I did better at school than Jay, but it wasn't really a big deal. I played sports and had friends, you know, like any guy."
A short silence falls between them and Garrett's cheeks heat when he realizes he doesn't want to talk about dating or why he is still alone. Edward's low voice surprises him.
"Were you happy?"
"Sure." He shrugs and pushes the broom over the boards. "I did okay, you know? Never wanted for anything, really. My mama says I shine, too; you just need a patient eye to see it."
"You miss her." Edward pauses in his work, his eyes trained on Garrett's.
"Sure. My dad, too. But there was nothing there for me, at home. I was glad when Jasper and Bella asked me to move here. I wanted a fresh start. Something... more."
"Did you find what you were looking for?"
Garrett looks down at the broom in his hand. "I'm working on it."
The two men meet at the old barn every night. Edward often emerges from the woods the moment Garrett puts down the lantern, and Garrett comes to count on that. He can't relax on the evenings when an hour or more passes without sign of the man in the dark clothes. He works anyway, hanging lights and moving hay bales, worrying his lips with his teeth until he hears the step he has been waiting for.
He basks in Edward's attention, and finds himself sharing things he has never told anyone, not even Jasper. He confesses to sometimes wondering if his life would be different had he gone away to school. That he wonders what will happen when Jasper and Bella start a family, and if he should move on. That he wants to know how it feels to be loved.
"Don't you know?" Edward asks with a frown.
"Not really." Garrett looks from Edward's penetrating gaze to the string of orange lights they are winding around a beam. "My family loves me, yeah. But I don't know what it's like... with someone."
Edward is quiet long enough that Garrett becomes nervous. He looks up, ready to take it all back, and closes his mouth when his sees an expression of great tenderness on Edward's face.
"You will." Edward reaches to run the tip of his finger slowly along the back of Garrett's hand.
Garrett's heart seems to swell in his chest, and his skin burns sweetly from Edward's touch.
"I'm going out of town for a few days," Edward tells him as they walk out of the barn the next evening.
Garrett's stomach slowly sinks. In the ten days that have passed since their first meeting, these talks have become important to him. "A few days?"
"Just three or four."
"That many, huh?"
"We'll be back before you have time to realize we're gone." Edward turns and smiles at the unspoken question in Garrett's eyes. "I'll be with my family."
Garrett frowns, realizing he has no idea what kind of family Edward means. The grey-eyed man doesn't give him much in the way of personal information, and somehow they always spend their evenings talking about Garrett. How can he know so little about this man after spending so many hours together?
"You never talk about them." Garrett shrugs when Edward's eyes widen in surprise. "Your family, I mean. I don't know really anything about you, Edward."
"I suppose you're right," the other man says slowly. His eyes move to the woods and back to Garrett's face, seeming to darken slightly.
"I'd like to know more," Garrett says, his throat aching when he realizes how true his statement is.
The corners of Edward's mouth quirk up in a small smile. He steps forward, close enough so that Garrett's nose fills with the scent of cedar and pine coming from Edward's clothes. Garrett blinks when the other man takes his hand and moves one cool thumb over his knuckles.
"We'll see," Edward murmurs.
Those soft words and the pressure on his fingers freeze Garrett to the spot. The hum he always feels around Edward explodes, stealing his breath. His mouth opens when he realizes that he wants very badly to feel more of Edward's touch. Desire coils in his belly, shooting through him like a rush of drugs in his blood. His heart pounds, his lungs ache, and his cock twitches. He bites back a groan when he realizes that he is hard.
"I'll see you in a few days, all right?" Edward's eyes move over Garrett's face, lingering for a long moment on his parted lips.
Garrett wants to shake his head 'no' and ask the man in front of him to stay. Instead, he takes a wavering breath, nodding as he tries to smile, while Edward lets go of his hand and heads for the woods.
He stands unmoving, long after the other man disappears into the trees.
"Garrett? What kept you?" Bella calls when he lets himself in.
He grunts and struggles with his coat until Bella and Jasper come to find him.
"What are you do- oh, gosh, Gar, you're half frozen," Bella scolds when she touches his hand. "You shouldn't have stayed out so late in this cold."
"I'm okay," he mumbles as they help him with his things. "I wanted to get a few important things done before I came back."
"Use the generator and the heaters next time, okay?"
"Bell, I'm fine. I'll just get to bed and that'll warm me up in no time."
"Are you sure?" Jasper looks unhappy when Garrett moves to the staircase. "Maybe you should drink something hot first."
"No, thanks, Jay," Garrett insists. "I'm tired and I just wanna go to sleep. I'll see you guys in the morning."
The weight of their stares follows him up the steps. The idea of sitting with them, sipping tea while his world has changed so completely, is impossible.
Craving warmth, Garrett strips and buries himself beneath a mound of quilts on his bed, his heart and mind racing. A man held his hand. A man made his heart pound and his breath stutter. Edward. Edward, a man, made his cock harden with a single touch that was unlike any he has ever known. Before tonight, he would never have thought such a thing possible. And he gasps to realize that he wants more. Much more.
He wants Edward's arms wrapped around him. To know the feeling of Edward's mouth and tongue against his. He wants to kiss the skin of Edward's throat and card his fingers through the red strands of Edward's hair. To watch Edward's long hands slide over his skin, pull him closer, and move between his legs, pumping his flesh with long, steady strokes.
"Oh, my God."
Garrett closes his eyes, shuddering and groaning as he palms his cock. He imagines Edward beside him in his bed, their breaths mixing in each other's mouths, their bodies pressed together. When he lifts the hand that Edward held to his face, he can smell traces of evergreen on his fingers. He comes hard, muffling his hoarse moan in his pillow as his dick pulses. He knows, God help him, he finally, finally knows how it feels to want and need.
Three days become four, and four days become five, without any sign of Edward.
Garrett feels wrong, somehow, as if his skin doesn't fit. He tries to eat and drink at scheduled times, though everything tastes like ash. He buries himself in work to avoid thinking of bright eyes and a smiling pink mouth. He spends extra time with his students and caring for the horses, taking some comfort in the mundane patterns of his days.
It's during the nighttime hours, however, that he feels lost.
Despite his labor-filled days, Garrett's sleep suffers, leaving him fatigued and out of sorts. Jasper and Bella's curious eyes follow him, taking in his unfinished meals and the circles under his eyes. The careful concern in their voices sets his teeth on edge and makes it impossible to spend much time in the farmhouse.
Garrett works slavishly at decorating the old barn, though his onetime haven seems too silent and barren without Edward's soft voice and laughter. When he can't take the silence anymore, he sits outside, propped up against the barn with his collar turned up against the chill. The moon wanes and the stars cross the sky while he watches the trees beyond the fence.
His body is sore with longing each night when he crawls into bed. His hands run over needy flesh, and he grunts at the intensity of his desire. He imagines a lean man beside him in the dark, and a low tenor voice murmuring against his skin. He shakes and bites his lip, whispering Edward's name before he comes.
The barn is nearly finished by the sixth evening. Garrett stops a moment to look at the space and smiles; it's beautiful. Hundreds of orange and yellow lights cast a bright glow over the space. They snake around the columns and along the walls, swinging in long strands from the hayloft and over every window. Round paper lanterns hang from the support beams overhead, while mounds of pumpkins and hay bales fill the corners.
It's late when he kills the lights and the generator, but still he sits against the barn, rubbing his head with his hands. His body is weary, and he feels the lack of sleep and food. His eyes close for several long moments before he hears a noise at his side.
"Garrett. Wake up," a measured voice breathes by his ear.
The smell of cedar and pine fill his nose. Awareness floods his body; buzzing in his chest and snapping open his eyes. He jerks upright, inhaling sharply when he meets a pair of grey eyes flashing with emotions he can't decipher.
"Can you stand?" Edward asks, his hands under the Garrett's elbows, urging him up.
"I- uh, y-yes," Garrett stammers, scrambling to his feet while the man in the dark clothes helps him.
"You should be inside." Edward's voice and face are grim as he reaches to snatch the lantern from the ground.
"I wasn't sleeping, I just..." Garrett sighs and takes the lantern handed to him. He is unable to hide his wounded tone. "Where have you been? I've... I was waiting for you."
Edward's expression softens. He steps to Garrett's side, moving one arm around his shoulders while the other comes to rest lightly on his waist. Garrett's breath catches in his throat as a wave of longing crashes over him; he couldn't look away from the man beside him if he wanted to.
"I'm sorry. It couldn't be helped." Edward's small smile does not reach his eyes; the melancholy in them makes Garrett's chest ache. "I didn't mean to be gone so long."
"Nothing. It feels good to see you." Edward's throat works as he swallows, and the arm around Garrett's shoulders tightens for a moment. "You look so tired."
"I am tired."
Days of sleepless nights and skimpy meals take their toll, even as Edward's words make Garrett smile. Without thought, he leans into the other man, exhaling when he realizes they fit together effortlessly. He threads his free arm around Edward's waist, and his head droops while his eyes drift closed. He knows he can trust Edward to guide him back toward the farmhouse.
"I missed you, Edward." He holds his breath when something soft brushes against his temple.
"I wish you wouldn't." Edward's voice is low and sad.
His eyes sting and it takes him a moment to speak past the lump in his throat. "Why?"
"I'm not good for you, Garrett."
"You don't know that."
Edward's breath ghosts over Garrett's cheek. "I know it very well. I have since we met. Knowing didn't stop me, though."
"Stop you?" Garrett asks, his head drifting slowly to rest on Edward's shoulder as they walk.
"From wanting to know you. From liking you… from missing you, too."
They walk the rest of the way to Jasper's house in silence. Garrett thinks how wonderful it would be to sleep now, leaning against the strong body beside him, when their steps slow and stop. He raises his head and blinks blearily to see that they are standing fifty yards from Jasper's house. Edward is staring at the farmhouse, his big eyes reflecting the lights from the windows, and the sorrow in his face is breathtaking. Garrett's heart creases with sudden fear that the man beside him will disappear again.
Edward smiles gently. "You're home, Garrett. I should get going… can you walk the rest of the way by yourself?"
Edward eases away, using his hands to steady Garrett when he sways a bit on his feet. He frowns in confusion when Garrett utters an unhappy sigh.
"Don't go," Garrett says abruptly. "I mean... don't disappear on me again, okay?"
His heart pounds, rattling his ribs as he and Edward watch one another for a long time.
"I'll be back tomorrow," Edward finally says, his voice rough.
Bella smiles after Garrett empties his breakfast plate in a matter of minutes the next morning. When he eyes the plate of muffins, she pushes the plate across the table.
"Jay already ate," she says at his raised eyebrow. "He left for the stables a while ago."
"Why so early?"
"We're going shopping for our Halloween costumes and meeting friends for dinner. Jay wants to be sure he's done in time to drive into town tonight."
Garrett nods thoughtfully as he chews and sips his coffee, glancing up when Bella clears her throat meaningfully and gives him an uncertain smile.
"Come with us. I know for a fact you don't have a costume yet."
Garrett shakes his head, chuckling when Bella pouts. "I'd just as soon finish the barn. Don't worry, I'll figure something out for a costume. I can always wear my hockey mask and wander around like Jason Voorhees."
"Ugh, no." Bella smiles at him fondly. "You look a lot better than you did yesterday. I thought you were going to fall down when you came in last night."
"Yeah. Haven't been sleeping well. Guess I finally got tired enough to pass out and stay out."
Garrett swallows his smile, remembering his body's hunger the night before as he smothered his cries with his pillow. He feels a prickle of surprise when Bella gives him a sharp look, seeming almost to look inside him.
"You were starting to look like a real zombie, sweetie," she says quietly before pushing back from the table to gather up the breakfast plates. "You seemed... sad. I was starting to worry that something was wrong."
Her voice is easy again when she takes the plates to the sink. "You tell me if you change your mind about dinner tonight, okay?"
"I don't understand." Garrett hears the pleading tone in his voice, but can't bring himself to care. Not when everything he had hoped to begin seems suddenly to be ending. "I invite you to the house and your answer is that you're leaving?"
Edward's grey eyes are pained. "I'm sorry. It would be better if I stopped coming here, Garrett."
Garrett's stomach drops right through the barn floor. "Better for you?"
"For you. I meant what I said last night: I'm not good for you. We shouldn't spend time together."
"Is that why you stayed away for those extra days? To let me get used to the idea of you being gone? Why did you come back at all?"
"I came back to say good-bye."
Garrett shakes his head slowly, refusing to accept the other man's words or the look of apology on his beautiful face.
"That's not what I want. It's not what you want, either, Edward. I know you. I can tell you like coming here, talking to me. Being around me, at least as much as I like being around you."
"That doesn't make it right," Edward says sadly, moving to stand. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
Garrett is on his feet and around the table almost before he realizes he is moving. His hands are on Edward's shoulders, pressing him back against the chair, and he swallows when the other man inhales sharply. The hum in Garrett's chest that he always feels with Edward grows and spreads, making his body tremble. He breathes in Edward's woodsy scent and realizes he feels incredibly warm.
"Don't," he murmurs, staring into eyes that almost never leave his mind. "Edward, please. You can't just leave."
Edward's hands come to rest almost gingerly on Garrett's hips. "You don't understand-"
"I don't want to understand. I don't want to know why you think it's better to stay away, or to know why we can't be here, together, right now."
"You don't know what you're saying." Edward's voice falters when Garrett's hands move to cup his cheeks. "You don't know what is best for yourself, Garrett, but I do."
Garrett looks at man below him for a long moment, breathing in and out as his heart thunders and Edward's hands creep slowly up to fist his coat.
"I don't care. I don't care what's best for me anymore, or what I should be doing or feeling. This, what's happening between us, is what feels right. It's what I want."
"I can't. You don't know what you're asking, Garrett."
"I'm asking you to be with me, Edward. I need to be with you."
"I'll hurt you," Edward whispers, bringing one hand to the back of Garrett's neck, gently drawing him closer.
"You won't. I trust you."
"Don't," Edward warns gently before pulling Garrett into his arms.
Garrett's body stills for a moment when he feels the soft pressure of Edward's lips on his own. Fire blooms inside him, stealing his breath. His eyes flutter closed as Edward kisses him, and he knows that he has never, never felt anything so wonderful.
Their mouths move together gently at first, and then with more force as the kiss deepens. Garrett winds his arms around Edward's neck, humming when the strong hand on the back of his neck slides into his hair. He moans loudly when Edward's tongue glides against his lips and he opens his mouth, heat blazing under his skin. The kiss is deep and wet, melting Garrett's bones while it hardens his cock.
"Jesus." He gasps and groans when the other man finally pulls away to press kisses against his jaw and neck. "Please, Edward. I need-"
"I need it, too," Edward murmurs against his throat. "So much."
Long hands move over Garrett's body, stoking the fire inside him higher. Garrett shudders, his mind spinning and filling with certainty now that what he wanted so badly is happening. This, the blazing heat and rightness is what was missing during those awkward moments with the girls back home. The rasp of whiskers against his cheek, the hard planes of muscle under his touch, the strong hands and arms around him, all of it is right.
"Please." Garrett is unsure what he is asking; he knows only that he wants more.
"Yes, sweet boy. I know."
Garrett opens his eyes when he feels a touch on the flies of his jeans, his breath stuttering as Edward's hand slips under the waist of his boxers. His body stiffens when those long fingers wrap around him and he calls out, his limbs trembling violently when his desire implodes.
Garrett leans to press his forehead against Edward's as the hand moves in long, slow pumps, just as he imagined. His hips move of their own accord, thrusting up into Edward's fist. Their eyes lock, their breaths mix, and Garrett knows that he could die in this moment, perfect and together and happy with this man.
"Oh, God!" he exclaims weakly, his orgasm curling down his spine before it crashes through him like a freight train.
White noise fills his ears and light flares behind his lids when the pleasure in his body expands to fill him and send him flying. He is dimly aware of his come pulsing over his skin and the strong arms anchoring him to the earth. A low tenor voice whispers lovingly in his ear before he smiles, and warm darkness covers him.
Garrett dreams of Edward. That Edward is beside him, their bodies wrapped together as they lie warm and snug in Garrett's bed.
Jumbled trains of speech thread through the dream, words that Garrett tries to hold before they vanish like vapor.
"...no idea I would feel this way... wouldn't have come to you that night if I'd known."
"I'm glad you did. So glad."
He feels the brush of lips against his neck and face, and moans softly when they meet his in a kiss, the smell of evergreen filling his nose and throat.
"There are so many things I want to show you... if only we had time."
"...give you all the time I have... all the time in the world."
Edward's hands and mouth stroke and suck his skin and cock, bringing him pleasure again and again. The earth tilts and the hum inside him grows so strong, it seems almost to overwhelm his heart.
"I wish I could stay, Garrett... be what you need. You'll forget me soon enough."
"...don't say that... I don't know myself without you."
Garrett struggles to wake, eager to hold on to the man that must be beside him and not a dream. Sweet kisses and caresses lull him back under, drawing the delicious oblivion around him like a shroud.
"Gar? You awake this time? Open your eyes, sweetie."
Garrett blinks, forcing his eyelids open when he feels a hand smooth the hair back from his forehead.
"Bell?" His tongue is thick and his heart pounds as he looks around in bewilderment. "What... what's going on?"
"Hey," she says soothingly, brushing her knuckles against his cheek. Her forehead puckers with concern. "You're sick, sweetie. You've been asleep all day. I heard you talking in your sleep again and came in to check on you."
Garrett stares into her brown eyes and swallows, abruptly aware of the heaviness in his head and body. His muscles are almost unbearably sore and his bones feel like they are filled with wet sand. The pains in his body, however, are nothing compared to the ache in his chest; Edward is nowhere to be seen. Before he can question whether he imagined the events of the night before, he inhales and freezes at the heavy smells of cedar and pine.
It happened. Edward was here, in this bed, with him.
Garrett feels the blood drain from his face as the conversations he thought were dreams come back in a rush, as well as the last words he remembers hearing.
Bella fusses over the rumpled bedding. "We got home last night and you were already in bed. When you didn't get up this morning, Jay came in to check on you and said you were feverish."
"What time is it now?" Garrett asks, his voice wavering.
Bella frowns at him. "Almost four. I thought you were awake a couple of times earlier, when you were mumbling, but you'd just fall back to sleep."
The silence between them seems very loud.
"I was talking in my sleep?" Garrett asks finally. "What did I say?"
Bella's smile is overly bright. "Not much that made sense, really. It must have been the fever, and you seem a lot cooler; the pills we've been giving you have helped."
Garrett grunts as he tries to sit up. He has to get to the barn. If he can get there, he can try to track Edward back through the woods.
"What are you doing?" Bella's hands fly immediately to his shoulders to still him.
"Gotta get up," he croaks out before falling back against the sheets. The exhaustion is too much. His throat tightens and his eyes sting when he closes them.
"Shh." Bella rubs the space between his shoulder blades when he rolls onto his side. "Let me call Jay, so he can help me get you up-"
"It's okay. I-I changed my mind. I just wanna sleep right now, Bell."
"Are you sure? I made some soup, you should eat some-"
"Bell, please." His voice is low and almost breaks on the second word. The sense of loss coursing through him is acute; he knows he cannot speak again without breaking down.
She's quiet for a moment, the hand on his back moving to stroke his hair.
"All right, sweetie. I'll come back in a couple of hours to check on you. I'll bring you something to eat then."
Garrett lies stiffly, listening to Bella move around as she straightens the few things in his room. When the door closes behind her, he relaxes into his misery. He breathes in the smell of evergreen lingering on sheets he wets with his tears.
He looks up when Bella and Jasper come downstairs in their Halloween costumes. In the three days since Edward left, Garrett hasn't left the house. The strange flu-like fatigue has lingered, forcing him to sleep for long stretches, and everything he eats is tasteless. Bella and Jasper keep him busy when he's awake, letting him carve jack-o-lanterns and fill party favor bags while they put the finishing touches on the decorations in the barn.
Tonight, they're dressed as vampires, with painted white faces and plastic fangs, and taking turns dabbing red paint at the corners of each other's mouths.
"How do we look?" Bella's dark eyes twinkle as she adjusts the collar on Jasper's cape.
"You look good." Garrett snorts when his brother bares his plastic fangs menacingly.
Bella's eyes narrow. "Good enough to win the prize at the party?"
"Yessss." Jasper pumps his fist, making his wife laugh. His expression sobers when he turns an appraising look on Garrett.
"You sure you don't want to come out there? I feel bad that we're kicking you out of your, um, haunt. Especially after all the work you did making it look good."
Garrett fakes a smile, aware from Jasper's expression that his brother is not entirely convinced.
"Naw, but thanks. I'm just gonna hang out here for a while before I go to bed. I'm still wiped."
"If you need anything, just text me, okay?" Bella says, patting her pocket. "I've got my phone right here and I know my signal works out there."
Her smile is radiant. "The barn looks amazing, Garrett. I can't believe how much work you did... all those lights and the lanterns. You should see it with all of the jack-o-lanterns now; it's perfect."
His heart twinges when he thinks of the hours he and Edward spent working and decorating. He makes himself smile again and this time it feels right.
"I'm glad you like it, Bell."
After Jasper and Bella leave, he sits on the porch swing, flanked by his sister-in-law's decorative scarecrow and more carved pumpkins. He watches cars arrive and park near the edge of the yard, disgorging crowds of costumed friends and clients, many with children in tow. He sees witches and goblins, ghosts and superheroes, even the odd werewolf and clown.
"Happy Halloween, Garrett!" they call, waiting for his wave before turning to follow the trail of jack-o-lanterns lighting the way to the northwest field.
Garrett trains his eyes along that trail, though the party is too far away from the farmhouse to see. He imagines he hears music and the excited chatter of the partygoers admiring each other's costumes and the decorations in the barn.
When the flow of arriving cars ebbs, he goes inside to grab the bag he packed earlier. He leaves a note on the kitchen table under Bella's favorite mug. What Jasper and Bella will make of his hurried apologies for leaving he can't imagine; he hardly knows his own mind anymore.
His emotions stay in check until he sits behind the wheel of his truck. He runs a hand over the duffel on the seat at his side while a lump rises in his throat and his eyes burn. He looks at the farmhouse through the windshield for a long moment before he starts the engine and turns the truck around toward the highway.
The wind is fierce on the cliffs near Sequim Beach, but the cold doesn't register on Garrett's body when he walks to the edge. He sits carefully, aware of his fatigue when he lets his legs dangle into space, and watches the surf roar over the beach below. His stomach flips when he hears a soft voice at his side, though he is not entirely surprised.
"What are you doing, Garrett?"
"I don't know." He closes his eyes, but his body responds to the man lowering himself to sit beside him. That familiar hum grows in his chest, and his hands shake before he twists them in his lap. "I left Jasper's."
"I couldn't stand being there. I thought... I thought I'd try to find you."
There is little light at the cliffs, but Garrett has no trouble seeing the man beside him when he opens his eyes. He can't help drinking in every detail eagerly: Edward's too light clothing, his hand so close to Garrett's thigh, the downturn of those perfect lips. He winces at the pain he sees in the other man's big eyes.
"It was a stupid idea. But I couldn't stand waiting any longer."
"Why are you here?" Edward asks gently.
"I'm trying to feel something. Anything except numb and hopeless. And lost. I don't want that." Garrett's voice grows sharp with bitterness. "Why are you here, Edward? You said goodbye already."
Edward licks his lips. "I know. I hurt you, and I'm sorry."
"But you're here now. Why? Were you there all along, just spying on me?"
"No!" Edward shakes his head quickly. "I did leave. But... I couldn't stop thinking about you. I just... I had to-"
Garrett's heart leaps with a fierce hope that he shuts down immediately. "You came back?"
Edward's eyes shine with emotion and his hand moves slowly to cup Garrett's cheek.
"I came back for you. I couldn't stay away."
"I don't want you to," Garrett murmurs after a moment, leaning into the other man's touch.
"I don't want to either. I want you with me, Garrett. Always."
Garrett can't hold back his relief at those words. He throws his arms around Edward's neck, his body sagging into the other man's embrace. A kiss against the corner of his eye makes him bite his lip.
"I want to be with you, too. God, so much, Edward."
"I know. But you must understand. If you come with me, it's forever. You'll be like me... become like me, and that will never change. You can't come back here, can't see your family, ever."
Garrett pulls back to look at the man in his arms, his heart breaking at the uncertainty he sees in Edward's face.
"I'm... I'm different from you, Garrett, I'm sure you know that by now. My family... my kind, we have watched your race for eons. We know well how fragile humans are. We are too strong for you, and only end up hurting you."
"But you were with me," Garrett protests, pressing his lips together when Edward shakes his head sadly.
"I saw you one night when I was walking and there was something about you... something that called me. So I came back the next night." Edward brushes the hair back from Garrett's forehead. "I should never have come out of the woods to talk to you. And the more I got to know you, the harder it was to stay away. I knew what I was doing was wrong, that it would only hurt you if I tried to get closer."
"Is that why I've been sick and weak?"
"Yes. Your body is not strong enough to bear mine for very long. I hated causing you pain."
"It hurt more when you walked away."
Guilt marks Edward's face. "I fell in love with you long before I ever kissed you, Garrett. Walking away from you was the hardest thing I've done in a very long time."
Garrett's heart seems to explode in his chest at Edward's words. He clutches at the man beside him, his voice rough as he begs.
"Don't do it again. I don't care where you are, Edward, just please, take me with you."
"Anywhere you want, my love. I'm yours, always."
"Do you think he's happy?" Jasper asks his wife.
"I do," she replies. She seems so sure, and her brown eyes gleam with knowledge that she doesn't share.
Jasper smiles, his eyes on Bella's round belly. If they have a boy, they plan to name the baby Garrett. This year's Halloween party in the barn will also be a baby shower.
"How do you know?"
"I don't for certain. But I think Gar knows what he's doing... and what he needs."
Jasper goes to the old barn with a pile of cards bearing stamps from around the world and dates from the last twelve months. He sits at the table near the open door with a lantern, looking at the cards, as the moon and stars cross the sky. He breathes in the lingering smells of old hay and evergreen, tracing his brother's words and signature on the cards with his finger. The wind stirs the trees beyond the fence, whispering like voices, and, sometimes, laughter.
Thank you for reading.
Note: Jason Voorhees is the main antagonist in the Friday the 13th series.