A/N: This was written for the Slash Writer's Workshop Prompt contest and won third place. Woot! I had a lot of fun working off a prompt.

Here was the prompt: Two very confirmed "tops" meet and really like each other. They go on a few dates, enjoy one another's company, start to see a future as a couple, and find out that they both top and refuse to bottom. Probably due to trauma or phobia. What happens? Do they break up or try to somehow work it out?

Benjamin had always had an affinity for soldiers, but there was something about this one that commanded notice and attention. Not a single guy in the club was oblivious to his presence. Charisma - the guy radiated it, even across the dance floor. There was an energy about him that was all heat, sex. From his smile - knee weakening and wide - to the cut of his long, lean body, there was nothing about him that didn't beg for touch.

Of course, Benjamin considered it just his luck that the super hot blond walked in the door beside a breathtaking beauty of a man with stunning green eyes. Oh how Benjamin coveted, watching them walk together to the bar. The bronze-haired man was a lucky one.

But as the night wore on, and Benjamin couldn't seem to keep his eyes to himself, he took in the body language of the two. The more he watched, the more certain he became that they weren't lovers.

Fair game, then.

Sure enough, when he sidled over, dancing around him until he got his attention, the blond-haired, buzz-cut soldier boy looked Benjamin over with assessing eyes. The appreciative, lascivious grin Benjamin earned ranked among the moments of his life he wouldn't ever forget. The thrill that ran down his spine made him shudder as he grinned back.

They'd "spoken" at first only with thrusts of their bodies on the dance floor, bumping, grinding. Benjamin made the first move of intent, pressing up onto the balls of his feet to kiss him hard, relishing the delicious feel of spiky hair beneath his fingers.

Not to be outdone, the soldier twined their fingers together, pulling him in the direction of the bathroom.

Mutual hand jobs were a hell of a way to say how do you do.

It was only when they'd found their release, their breath hot against each others necks, that they introduced themselves. "Seems like I should tell you..." he said between pants, the tip of his nose nuzzling the side of Benjamin's ear. "I'm Jasper Whitlock."

Chuckling and shivering at Jasper's stimulating touch. "Benjamin Mahmoud," he replied.

Pulling back, Jasper captured his lips in a long, slow, entirely too hot kiss before he finally untangled himself from Benjamin's embrace. His smile was all teeth, the look in his eyes fire. "Thanks for that, Benji."

And though Benjamin hated that nickname, he didn't protest. How could he when Jasper quickly stole one more kiss before he disappeared?


Benjamin didn't see Jasper again after that for a long time. He went to the club frequently, and no matter what encounters he had, who he ended up spending time with, he always searched the floor, hoping to spot his gorgeous soldier.

Jasper never showed. However, not too long after their single rendezvous, Benjamin did run into the same beautiful man Jasper had come in with that night.

They got to talking. As it turned out, Edward did not prefer the romantic company of men. In fact, he had a girlfriend named Bella with whom he was madly, desperately in love.

"But this is the second time you've been in here." Benjamin had been understandably confused.

"I've been in here a lot more than just twice." Edward laughed. "I've known Jasper a long time. He was tense. When he gets like that, he's got to take it out physically." He'd gestured around them. "This was a logical choice."

"But he's not here now."

"No. He's actually stationed in Virginia."

"But you're here now." Benjamin had raised an eyebrow, waiting for Edward to fill in the blanks.

The other man's grin was wicked then, more than a little cocky. "Don't take this from me." He'd nodded over Benjamin's shoulder. "But apparently I'm good bait."

When Benjamin turned around, he was greeted by the flirtatious grin of a ruggedly handsome man who introduced himself as Garrett Leatherby.


Garrett was great fun - Benjamin's first real relationship - but in the end, they couldn't make it work. Their relationship didn't last. They were both too alpha male. It made them incompatible in bed. It had worked at first because Garrett was the adventurous type. He hadn't minded taking his turn bottoming when their relationship was new and enthralling. It had become an issue toward the end. Not their only, but they'd had an argument or twenty over it.

His friendship with Edward, however, withstood the test of time.

That was how Benjamin happened to run into Jasper again. It was three years since their last meeting. Edward had finally secured a positive answer to his long-standing proposal - Bella had wanted to wait until she graduated - and to celebrate, he was treating all his friends to dinner.

Everyone was already seated when Benjamin arrived. He made his rounds, hugging Emmett and Rosalie, Jessica and Mike, Riley and Seth. The whole time, he was very aware of Jasper's eyes on him, drinking him in, watching with interest.

Watching with a look in his eyes that was making a hunger that had nothing to do with the delicious smells all around him churn in his stomach.

Finally, he got around to Edward and Bella.

"Bella ya gameela!" He kissed her cheek and hugged her close. "Does this mean I should give up on the fantasy you will finally realize you're too good for this asshole?"

She laughed and hugged him anyway. "I finally gave in when I realized I couldn't grow a cock just for you."

Grinning, Benjamin hugged her again to his side, kissing her cheek. "I may make an exception for you, adorabella. You and that filthy mouth."

"Hands off my fiancee." Edward hooked him around his arm, dragging him away.

"Oh, but he is proud, isn't he?" He gamely wrapped his arm around Edward's waist, pulling him closer. "Come here, mutheer ginsey. How's about one more kiss for old time's sake?" he leaned in, his lips puckered.

Edward pulled away, giving Benjamin a playful shove. "He probably called me the son of a pig."

"I would never," Benjamin said gravely. "Your mother is charming, and I wouldn't kick your father out of bed, I'll tell you that much." He smiled sweetly as Edward grimaced.

And then, Benjamin finally allowed himself to look directly at Jasper.

There was no mistaking the flirtation in his expression, the way his lips curled up one side of his face. "Well, hello there."

"Hello." Though inside his heart was pounding and his skin prickled with goosebumps, he was sure to put on his sexiest grin.

Again, Jasper's look was lascivious. He turned to Edward. "Obviously your taste in friends has improved. Where did you meet this one?"

Edward's eyebrows furrowed. "Jasper... do you not-"

"Hush now, Jasper Whitlock." Benjamin slid past Edward and Bella, putting his arm around Jasper and leaning in conspiratorially. "You're going to get our boy here in trouble. You think he wants his lovely Bella to know he picks up beautiful specimens like me in clubs where everyone, and I do mean everyone, wants to fuck him?"

Jasper looked confused for a fraction of a second before he looked abashed. Benjamin just smiled, nodding at the chair next to Jasper in a silent order. The blond man smirked but he did as he'd been commanded, moving down one seat to make room for Benjamin.

Dinner was good. It was nice to have something so beautiful to celebrate and great people to celebrate with. It was wonderful to watch a couple so completely in love. Actually, they were surrounded by couples in various stages of love.

It was infectious.

It was what Benjamin wanted - something steady. Something that could last.

He kept telling himself this when he felt Jasper's foot travel up the inside of his leg. He told himself this every time he started to return the gesture. He actually put his hand on Jasper's knee once, but he yanked it back.

But goodness, it did make him the definition of hot and bothered.

"Smoke break," he said with a smile, excusing himself from the table.

He headed outside, closing his eyes briefly as the cool Seattle air hit his face. It cleared his head a little, but then he heard the sound he'd been waiting for - the door opening. He turned slowly, already smiling.

"You really smoke?" Jasper asked.

Benjamin shook his head, stepping forward. "Of course not," he said and kissed the other man like he was water and Benjamin hadn't seen anything but sand in days. Jasper was quick to respond, his mouth opening, their tongues mingling and hands grasping.

And just as suddenly as he began the kiss, Benjamin ended it, stumbling, drunk with lust, away from Jasper. "I can't do this," he muttered, laughing nervously.

Jasper's lips were swollen, and if Benjamin weren't kicking himself for his scruples, he would have laughed at the way the other man blinked. He scrubbed a hand over the back of his neck. "Listen, if you're mad that I didn't recognize you-"

Benjamin gave him a playfully derisive stare. "It was a handjob in a club three years ago. I'm not that kind of drama queen."


Looking over at the blond man, Benjamin had to laugh. Good God, he was hot. Would it kill him to...

But no.

He began to walk to his car, deciding his willpower wasn't up to the task of resisting Jasper for the rest of the night, but he motioned for the other man to follow him so he could explain.

"Look, soldier boy. I feel like I've gotta be honest here because I'm throwing mixed signals. You are... crazy kinds of hot. The things I can think of doing to you..." He trailed off, raking his gaze up and down Jasper's' form appreciatively. He let his lips turn up in a suggestive leer. "Well. Let's just say I have no doubt I could make even a tough guy like you blush."

Jasper scoffed, but his eyes seemed to darken with desire. "That a fact?"

"Oh, believe me." Benjamin winked suggestively, leaning into the other man's personal space. When Jasper swayed forward, Benjamin took a step backward. "But..." Again he let his eyes wander, this time a little regretfully. "I think I'm over my mostly-anonymous bathroom sex stage. I like the benefits of something a little more serious." He grinned again. "So there it is. Point blank, I'm telling you I'm interested, but I'm not easy. If you want me, you're going to have to impress me."

He started to turn, got as far as opening his car door before he felt Jasper's fingers wrap around his wrist, spinning him around. Jasper was over him in a heartbeat. The door clicked shut behind Benjamin's back as he pressed himself against the car. Holding himself up with his hands on either side of Benjamin, Jasper hovered over him, almost but not quite touching.

For a prolonged moment, Benjamin couldn't think. He doubted he would have remembered his own name. His body was tensed, ready, waiting, though for what he couldn't have said. He was hyper-aware of the way Jasper's chest brushed his ever so lightly. In that moment, Jasper was absolutely in charge of the situation. If he'd told Benjamin to drop to his knees and service him, he would have done it in a heartbeat.

And that was what had Benjamin so frozen.

But Jasper only ducked his head, kissing his lips with a sweetness that left Benjamin aching.

Pulling back, Jasper smirked. He raised his hand, and Benjamin was shocked to find Jasper had lifted his cell phone right off him. As he watched, blinking stupidly, Jasper sent a quick text - likely sending himself Benjamin's number.

Coming back for another soft, too quick kiss, Jasper grinned at Benjamin. "When I think of something suitably impressive, I'll call you."

Then he walked away. From the swagger in his step, Benjamin knew the other man was well aware he was staring.


Jasper Whitlock did not struggle to find men willing to do just about anything he wanted. He knew he was sexy. And if being that good looking wasn't enough, all he had to do was take his dog tags out from under his shirt.

If anyone had told him he would fall into the old cliche, Jasper would have laughed. What need did he have to play those sort of games? But Benjamin's rejection made him indignant, and the second the other man had thrown down the gauntlet, Jasper picked up the challenge. He hadn't even thought twice about it.

And it was all about the challenge. After all, the attraction he felt for the other man was very clearly reciprocated. Their little rendezvous had been mutually beneficial. Obviously Benjamin hadn't forgotten him.

After he walked away from Benjamin that night at Edward and Bella's party, Jasper was determined not to call him. They weren't even remotely on the same page. Jasper was a lot of things, but he wasn't an asshole. If Benjamin was looking for a relationship, Jasper knew he shouldn't be anywhere near him.

But by then it was too late. Benjamin was under his skin, in his head. He kept replaying minutes from dinner. The man was charming, witty. Especially after he'd remembered their night together, the room felt, to Jasper, thick with sexual tension. As he'd silently flirted, running his foot along Benjamin's, he'd been wrapped up in the minute expressions on the other man's face: the lift of his chest as his breath quickened, the sly way his eyes shifted to Jasper only briefly, the subtle uptick of his lips when he returned the gesture, his foot sliding up Jasper's calf, without breaking his attentive stare at whomever happened to be speaking.

Jasper did call, reasoning to himself that dating wasn't the same as commitment. Why not, he asked himself. A date wouldn't hurt him.

Maybe it might be fun.

And it was.

In the interest of trying not to be an asshole, Jasper had been determined to rein in his natural charm lest he be accused of asking Benjamin on a date simply to seduce him. In fact, he took Benjamin to the zoo, thinking it was rather an innocent place. To his great surprise, Benjamin was all but bouncing in his seat as they drove there.

"The zoos in Egypt are... lacking," he explained. "I've always wanted to see what a good zoo looks like."

They had more fun than Jasper was expecting as a grown man. They fed the penguins, and he found himself cracking up as Benjamin waddled around behind one of them. They both were unreasonably charmed by the four little lion cubs tumbling over each other. The day rounded out with a fairly in depth discussion about red pandas versus black and white pandas.

Jasper had never really had occasion to date before. He'd never had trouble finding someone to get off with. He was young, and in the military. Why have a fellow pining for him back home?

And there were other reasons that not having anyone steady was a good idea in his particular case.

He was surprised to find how very sweet it could be. It warmed the cockles of his heart when Benjamin reached over, taking his hand as they walked, smiling a surprisingly shy little smile. His laugh was giddy when it started to rain, and they ran, hand in hand, for the awning of one of the little eateries. Benjamin automatically wrapped his arms around Jasper in a protective, warming gesture. There was such a pleasant sweetness to the whole day, Jasper found himself smiling even when he went home alone.

So it went for five dates. Dinners. A movie. A trip to the EMP Museum where they made shadow monsters at the sci-fi exhibit and posed for pictures in borrowed leather jackets atop a bitching Harley.

Little by little, Jasper was beginning to realize he was entirely enthralled by Benjamin. Those moments between them, sweet, innocent moments, were better than the clandestine encounters he'd had in the past. The fervent kisses they shared that weren't designed to whet their appetites for sex but rather to communicate physically the affection between them left Jasper grinning for days on end.

At first, Jasper didn't even think about sex.

But then, it got to the point where his desire was stoked. This was unique to him. It was lust not built off simple attraction and a need for release, but because he was honestly, truly enraptured by Benjamin. He couldn't get enough. The hunger in him was more than the ravenous heat of sex. It was a very specific craving only Benjamin could sate.

On their sixth date, Jasper invited Benjamin over. He'd slaved over a savory meal and a decadent dessert. Over dinner, Jasper marvelled at how easy it was to talk to the other man. He listened attentively, stroking his fingers over the table.

When they were both full, they moved their party to the living room and Jasper's couch.

They'd been drinking wine during dinner, but afterward, Jasper switched to whiskey. Looping his arm around Benjamin's shoulders, they got down to the serious business of making out.

Jasper pulled Benjamin down on top of him. He tilted the other man's chin up so he could nip and suck at his neck, his fingers beginning to wander. When he slipped his hands underneath Benjamin's shirt, alternately kneading and tickling, he murmured something that was a cross between English and Arabic babbling.

"Habeeby," he moaned. "What are you doing?"

Jasper had begun to undo the buttons of his shirt, still tilting his head up to kiss hungrily at Benjamin's throat. "Oh, baby," he growled, running his hands over the other man's chest. "I have plans for you."

"What plans?" Benjamin's voice was breathy.

"I'm going to get you naked." He pulled Benjamin's shirt off his shoulders. "And then," He ran his hands down his bare back. "I'm going to get me a little of this." He squeezed Benjamin's ass aggressively.

With a wild gasp, Benjamin pushed off his chest, making Jasper huff. He sat up, his eyes somewhat frantic.

Confused, Jasper reached for Benjamin, grabbing his wrists. "Babe, where are you going?"

Benjamin yanked his hands away, getting up and scrambling backward.

Calling his name, Jasper stood, automatically taking a few steps in his direction.

"Stay away from me." Normally, Benjamin's voice was smooth, low, sexy. His words now came out as a dangerous growl - feral, on edge.

"What are you-"

"Stay. Away. From me."

Jasper raised his hands in a placating gesture. "Okay. I'm not moving."

Benjamin blinked at him, and it took a minute for Jasper's drink addled mind to process that there was a sallow pallor behind his normally dark skin. He was breathing hard, and not in the good way. His eyes were wide.

A heavy silence hung between them.

"I'm leaving," Benjamin said finally, and he was a blur of motion in the next heartbeat.

Again Jasper called his name, but when he started to go after him, the other man only raised his hand, palms up in a stopping motion, the look on his face a warning.

Jasper stood still, watching helplessly as Benjamin left so fast he forgot his coat.

"What the fuck just happened?" he asked the silent house.


Two days later, Jasper was going out of his mind. Benjamin wasn't answering his phone calls. Frustrated, he ended up at Edward and Bella's place. At a loss for what to do - Edward had never seen or heard of Benjamin acting like that - his friends plied him with alcohol and let him sleep on the couch.

Jasper woke the next morning to the sounds and smells of breakfast being made. It was Sunday, he realized. Edward always hosted brunch on Sunday. His friends and family had a standing invitation as long as they brought a dish. It was his and Bella's answer to keeping their social life open even when life got complicated. Everyone was welcome, even in their pajamas.

When he toddled over to the kitchen, hung over and craving starches, Bella set a stack of pancakes and strong coffee in front of him. He gradually became aware of the company: just Carlisle, Edward's father, and a man he introduced as Garrett.


It took a full fifteen minutes for Jasper to remember where he'd heard Garrett's name before.

All at once, Jasper found himself in a unique position. Another benefit of not dating was the lack of this kind of drama. He'd never been jealous of another man, automatically wary. Once he realized this was Benjamin's ex, Jasper's gaze was more assessing.

But as much as he felt automatically haughty around the other man, he was also curious. Had Benjamin acted similarly with him? Maybe he could explain what the fuck had happened since Benjamin obviously wasn't inclined to tell him what he'd done.

Gently, Jasper prodded. He was a pretty charismatic person when he wanted to be. It was no great feat to get Garrett to talk. The breakup had been mutual with no bad blood between them.

"He had his... proclivities," Garrett said, his tone betraying a wistful fondness for Benjamin. His eyes flitted only briefly toward Carlisle before he continued. "The things that man could do in bed..." he whistled lowly. "But he was funny that way."

"What way is that?" Jasper prodded, hoping he didn't sound as eager as he felt.

Garrett studied him, his lip curled up on one corner. "It was just odd. He was adventurous until you got to the one place you'd only expect to go." He raised an eyebrow, as if the others should fill in the blanks with the obvious. "Then he was just as likely to jump out of bed all hot and bothered, but not in the good way." He shook his head, his lips pursed as if in regret.

Edward had the tact to change the subject then, and Jasper withdrew, deep in thought.

After breakfast, Carlisle caught his attention, motioning for Jasper to follow him into a little office area Edward and Bella kept. He looked pensive enough to make Jasper nervous. Maybe Carlisle wasn't his father, but he half expected a lecture when he finally began to speak.

"I hope you won't be angry," Carlisle said slowly. "Edward was concerned, and he told me a little of what you told him about Benjamin."

"I honestly have no idea what I did." For some reason, Jasper felt especially defensive.

Carlisle raised his head, offering Jasper a soft look. "That's just it. If I'm correct in my suspicions, you did nothing wrong." An uncertain expression crossed his face, and he drummed his fingertips on his desk. "Please take this with a grain of salt. Of course, I have no way of knowing if I'm correct. It's just that what you described... sounds very familiar to me. From what you and Garrett have said, I think Benjamin probably has at least mild PTSD."

Blinking, Jasper tried to process this. "You mean you think someone hurt him... that way?" His words were strangled in his throat. This was the last thing he would have thought, but it made sense.

He looked up, surprised when Carlisle's normally open, kind face turned hard, his eyes glinting with a dangerous edge. He breathed in through his nose and out again. He looked Jasper in the eyes, holding his gaze. "There are things my wife and I have chosen not to tell our children. We have our reasons."

"I understand," Jasper said sincerely, his stomach wringing like a rag.

Carlisle nodded curtly. "I'm not Esme's first husband." His words were clipped, his tone tight. "Edward knows that much. What he doesn't know is that her ex husband was a monster. He abused Esme both physically and sexually."

"Jesus." Jasper felt sick. His fists clenched at his sides. "I'm sorry."

They were both silent for a few seconds. Carlisle closed his eyes but nodded his thanks. "When we were first together, she was very skittish, especially when it came to physical intimacy."

He opened his eyes again, and the gentleness had returned to his features. "Again, all I'm saying is the behavior you and Garrett described is very similar to what we went through."

"No," Jasper's voice was raw, his mind reeling a mile a minute. "It makes a lot of sense. If I triggered something... a flashback maybe? That would explain... a lot."


Everytime Jasper's name appeared on his cell phone's screen, Benjamin's stomach did an uncomfortable flip flop. He was well aware he'd overreacted that night, but he was both too angry and too confused to back down just yet.

It was a worrisome quandary because he knew, sooner rather than later, it might be too late, and Jasper would move on. In all honesty, that was the last thing Benjamin wanted. These last couple of weeks had been among the best of his life. That was why he was trying to figure out what was bothering him, what had made him react so irrationally, but it was slow going.

He was scared. It took him the better part of four days to realize how scared he was and why.

It wasn't as though it was the first time anyone had touched him like that. In the past, he'd been uncomfortable - he knew he had every reason to be tense - but he'd never actually flipped out before. Typically it was a matter of a few awkward moments, a laughed off or sly diversion while Benjamin redirected his partner's attention elsewhere.

If Benjamin were to force himself to be honest, he might have to acknowledge what was beginning to occur to him: Jasper was a lot like Amun. A lot. Many of the characteristics that had drawn Benjamin to Amun were present in the blond man.

Most of Benjamin didn't want to acknowledge what that could mean. Amun had hurt him terribly; he didn't want to think Jasper was capable of doing what the other man had done.

So on the fifth day after their disastrous date, when Jasper showed up at his home, Benjamin almost didn't let him him in.

For a long handful of seconds after Benjamin opened the door, they only stared at each other. As much as he wished he could speak, Benjamin's tongue was twisted up and snarled in all the things he wanted to say, all the things he couldn't articulate. His throat was tight. There was a strange stinging sensation in his eyes that suggested he was dangerously, ridiculously close to crying, though he didn't have the first clue as to why.

Jasper's face was pinched, his eyes searching. He took a deep breath. "Please let me in."

His tone was so soft it was disarming. Benjamin's shoulders, taut to that point, relaxed, and he stepped silently away from the door, allowing Jasper to pass.

In a slow procession, they walked silently, side by side, to the living room. Benjamin sat in the armchair, folding himself up in what some part of him recognized was a defensive gesture.

Benjamin rubbed the back of his neck, wondering where his usual confidence was. He should be able to laugh this off, tell Jasper it wasn't a big deal. Instead, he felt jumpy and on edge.

Jasper was looking down at the floor, and Benjamin could see he was nervous too. The atmosphere was stifling.

Apropos of nothing, Jasper began to speak.

"When you and I met the first time a few years ago, I was in a bad place, a real bad place." The tempo of his words was halting, lurching forward and then slowing to an unnatural gait. "See, when I joined up, I made fast friends with another kid. Peter... Peter Damon was his name. Peter was good people through and through. I liked him enough that I didn't want to ruin our friendship by sleeping with him." He let those words linger, his eyes searching as if to assure himself that Benjamin understood.

Nodding shortly, Jasper continued. "You know... the whole thing about equality in the army... it's a lot easier said than done. Me, I was always very... careful about when and where I stepped out for my fun. Peter didn't go out of his way to make things obvious, but sometimes he let a little too much slip in what he said.

"So one night, our squad was all supposed to be out having a good time." Jasper's voice was getting consistently lower, gravelly. It might have been sexy in another setting, but Benjamin could tell what was coming next wasn't going to be pleasant. His own pulse was racing. "We'd all been drinking," Jasper continued. "And the other guys... Well, they caught Peter kissing one of the local boys."

The blood had visibly drained from Jasper's face. He looked like he was going to be sick or faint. "I..." He swallowed hard, his nostrils flaring. All Benjamin wanted to do was go to him, put his arms around him, but he was frozen in his seat. "They didn't know I was there. I really didn't know what was happening at first. I just couldn't understand what they were doing..."

His voice cracked, his shoulders slumped, and he leaned his elbows on his knees, hanging his head in his hands before he continued. "They... There were four of them and only one of Peter. They held him down and... each took... They took a turn with him."

When he raised his head, he wasn't looking at Benjamin. Really, his eyes were so unfocused, it was doubtful he was seeing anything at all. "The things they said... while they did what they did... They said it was what Peter wanted. They called him horrible names, told him he deserved what he got-"

"Why are you telling me this?" Benjamin could hardly breathe himself when he finally got the words out. He wanted to clamp his hands over his ears so he couldn't hear such horrible things. He wanted to run to Jasper and take him in his arms; it was obvious the man was in need of comfort.

Slowly, Jasper turned his head, fixing Benjamin with a heavy look. "I just." He trailed off, swallowing a few times before he tried again. "We all have our secrets. This one is mine. I've never told anyone about this." The guilt on his features was impossible to escape. "And if I ever made you feel... even remotely like that-"

"No," Benjamin said quickly, shaking his head vehemently. "No. Not like that."

They stared at each other, both of them a little breathless with emotion. Jasper got up and crossed the room, going to kneel in front of Benjamin. He took his hands. "I've never had a relationship," he said softly. "I've never really thought about it. But I really like the idea of something more. With you." He wound their fingers together. "Tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree here."

Not looking at the other man, Benjamin shook his head minutely, squeezing Jasper's hands. "I want the same thing." His voice was more timorous than he wanted.

"Then talk to me. Help me understand what I did."

Benjamin had to laugh. It wasn't a happy sound, but a wry, raw noise. He got to his feet, pacing away from Jasper.

"When I was sixteen, there was a man. Amun." His mind was blank, his tone lacking any sort of inflection as he spoke. "He was... I was very taken with him."

He shook his head hard and turned around. "Look. It was nothing. I... What happened with Amun was nothing like what happened with your friend. What he did wasn't against my will. It just went wrong. Amun, he was drunk. He didn't mean to hurt me."

They were both silent for a handful of moments, Benjamin trying to process, and Jasper looking distinctly like he had much to say but was holding back. Benjamin sighed. "I'm sorry. I am. The other night... It was the whiskey on your breath, and I just don't... I don't like people touching me like that."

For a long, tense second, Benjamin was sure Jasper would press. But the blond man only got to his feet, closing the distance between them. Benjamin tensed as he was wrapped carefully in Jasper's arms, and then he relaxed back, leaning his head against the other man's. They stood like this for a few moments before Jasper kissed his ear tenderly. "Will you let me make you dinner again tonight?"

Relief made it easier for Benjamin to breathe. He nodded. "Yeah."


For weeks, they danced around the elephant in the room.

It was far from unpleasant. Though it was a little awkward at first, they'd found their old dynamic easily enough. Jasper couldn't deny he enjoyed the other man's company. They always had a good time together no matter what they were doing.

But Jasper was increasingly aware of the larger issues at hand. As much as he tried to play it down, it was becoming very clear that Amun had left his mark on Benjamin. Bit by bit, Jasper was forming a clearer picture.

Benjamin had been a young boy and Amun well into his thirties when they met. Jasper was more than a little uncomfortable when he figured out he and Amun shared some characteristics - they were both military men, both charismatic and charming.

They both knew how to be in charge.

But Amun had unquestionably taken advantage of a boy much too young. He'd been downright domineering - jealous and controlling. In his naivete, Benjamin had mistaken that for love.

And he'd let Amun coax him into bed.

Benjamin insisted that the older man hadn't meant to hurt him. He'd been drunk and caught up in his passion and Benjamin hadn't said no. But when Amun took him, he was rough.

It simply didn't add up to Jasper. Amun had to have known Benjamin was a virgin. He shouldn't have gone near the boy in the first place, but if he was going to do it, he should have been careful. Attentive. His every thought should have been on Benjamin's comfort.

Benjamin finally admitted Amun had hurt him bad enough he'd had to see a doctor.

When he knew that, Jasper thought it was nothing short of a miracle Benjamin could stand to be touched at all.

It went a long way to explaining the dynamic of their burgeoning physical relationship. Benjamin did not like being out of control. He wanted to be the dominant partner. He was comfortable when it was him pushing Jasper down onto the couch or the bed. He was sexy and confident when it was his idea to wrap his mouth around Jasper's cock.

Jasper being able to reciprocate was slightly unnerving to him, but he could deal. As long as they tiptoed around the act of penetration, they were very compatible sexually.

Benjamin would often tease him, whispering huskily in his ear about the things he could do with his cock.

"I want to make you feel so good, habeeby," he'd rumbled, nibbling the shell of Jasper's ear.

There, though, they were at an impasse. Jasper had demons of his own.

It was why, though it drove him mad, Jasper could understand why Benjamin was in such denial about how badly Amun had taken advantage of him. Yes, perhaps the man had not had malicious intentions, but he had not been at all concerned with Benjamin's wellbeing.

But denial was powerful and consuming - Jasper knew this first hand.

What he'd witnessed, what he'd let happen to Peter, happened when he was nineteen years old. The first time he met Benjamin he was twenty-three. It had taken that long for the events to boil over, for his thoughts and his guilt and his fear to consume him to the point he couldn't put it off any longer; it had to be confronted.

It was a hard time for Jasper. He'd been going out of his skull, out of his skin, and he didn't know how to deal with it at all. Edward had tried to help, but there was only so much he could do when Jasper wouldn't talk.

Peter, unbelievably, had helped.

After being discharged from the Army, Jasper had tracked him down. It had been the lowest point in his life - confessing that he'd been there, that he had seen and hadn't said a word. What he wanted he didn't know. He just couldn't deal with the guilt anymore. He wanted Peter to condemn him, kick his ass... finally have his day.

But miraculously, Peter understood.

He'd looked Jasper right in the eye and said the words that shook him to his core. "You were scared. You were scared it would happen to you."

All these years later, and Jasper thought he understood his own psyche now. He'd grown up in foster homes - a damaged child who'd had one too many fathers telling him he wasn't a man. And then what he'd seen - those men driving into Peter, growling at him that the way he felt, the things he did made him less than a man, less than a human - had cemented the idea of what it was to be a man intp his subconscious.

To that day, Jasper had never let anyone penetrate him.

Logically, he knew it was ridiculous. Accepting another man into his body didn't make him lesser. He knew this. He had nothing but respect for the men who'd allowed him to enter them. He knew it was a gift.

But knowing these things and being okay with them happening to him were two very different concepts.


"Ya habib 'albi," Benjamin breathed, heartbroken for what the man beside him had witnessed.

He was sitting up in bed with Jasper, feeling horrible now that he'd been pushing. He'd tried to seduce him, but Jasper had stopped him.

The sex thing had started to become too much of a weight on them. Benjamin knew it was a little silly - their relationship was good, growing stronger every day - but he couldn't help but remember the problems that had arisen between him and Garrett. He didn't want to get to that point with Jasper.

It felt as though sex was a physical entity, a barrier between them. Now, Jasper had put definition to that barrier. Now he truly knew where they stood.

Turning his head, Benjamin kissed Jasper's cheek. He knew from the way the other man trembled it had been difficult for him to admit the things they'd spoken of. It was just a slight tremor, but obviously these issues ran bone deep.

Benjamin understood fear, reasonable or not, that went to the marrow of his bones. He understood when a feeling was simply part of him, part of who he was whether he liked it or not.

Jasper caught his fingers and brought his hands up, kissing his finger tips gently. "There's no rush, babe. You know that, right? I'm not unsatisfied. Are you?"

"No," Benjamin said softly, shaking his head. He shifted, wrapping his arms around Jasper and holding him close. "But you and I, we're both very physical people, Jasper." He knew himself. He was coming to know the other man better than anyone. "It will be an issue."

Taking his face in his hands, Jasper tilted his head and kissed Benjamin gently. "We'll figure it out. I promise."


Jasper had to acknowledge that Benjamin was right: they were both very physical people. He'd always enjoyed sex in all its permutations. It was killing him not to be able to express what he felt to the full extent of what they could do, who they could be together.

It was quite the mental block he grappled with. Ridiculous as it felt, it mattered to him. The idea of taking a man into his body raised his hackles. He heard the voices of the squad, of his foster fathers telling him what a man was, what a man did. It was stupid, but it was part of him.

And yet...

What had already passed between them was so beautiful - better than anything he'd experienced so far in his life. If anything, he felt all the more alive when they were together. How could embracing that be bad?

He'd straddled Benjamin on the couch one day. They were kissing. Jasper was utterly ravenous for the other man. He ground his hips down as Benjamin thrust up. Their kisses were bruising, their hands grasping.

Breathing hard, Jasper straightened up, his hands splayed flat against Benjamin's chest.

"Come back here," Benjamin growled, grabbing Jasper's face between his hands. He tugged his head, trying to bring him back, his lips seeking.

Jasper tilted his head, nipping at Benjamin's lips. He rested his mouth against the other man's, breathing in his breath. "Do you trust me?"

Benjamin's hands dropped to his waist, and he pulled back ever so slightly, blinking. "I..."

Now it was Jasper's turn to put his hands tenderly to Benjamin's cheeks. He kissed him soft, slow, showing Benjamin what he felt.

This was what Amun could never give him. This was real devotion, passion that was only Benjamin's.

"Trust me," Jasper said again, asking. Begging.

"Yes," Benjamin breathed, sighing against Jasper's lips.

Kissing Benjamin's cheek, he stood. "Stay," he commanded, giving him a little smirk before he moved quickly to the bedroom. He came back with a smile.

Benjamin's eyes honed in on the little bottle in Jasper's hand. His handsome face paled.

"Trust me," Jasper entreated, straddling him again. He reached between them, rubbing his palm over the bulge in Benjamin's jeans, making him gasp. "I want you to know," he said slowly as he rubbed in increasingly harder circles. "I trust you with me." He kissed him, a teasing kiss that left Benjamin whimpering for more, seeking when Jasper pulled back. "Benji. I'm falling in love with you."

Benjamin's breath caught, his eyes frozen on Jasper's for one, two heartbeats. Then he pushed forward, catching Jasper in a voracious kiss.

Their hunger was mutual, and Benjamin's hands were as aggressive as his lips. He lifted his hips when Jasper tugged at his pants, helping him slide them down along with his boxers. His fingers fumbled at Jasper's button, and soon they were both nude - skin to skin.

The sound of the lid to the lube snapping open was loud in the otherwise quiet room. Jasper didn't drop the other man's gaze as he spread the lube across his fingers and reached between them, stroking Benjamin's cock with long, strong strokes.

Wordless, Benjamin took the bottle from Jasper, understanding now what he wanted. He reached under him, teasing his balls with the tips of his fingers as he passed. His eyes intent on Jasper, he circled his asshole with a well lubricated finger.

A shudder went down Jasper's spine, more pleasure than nerves. His heart was pounding, his throat tight.

Benjamin's smile was adoring, and he kissed Jasper sweetly. "You can trust me, habeeby" he whispered. "And I love you, too."

Jasper breathed in, letting those beautiful words wash over him. Whatever nerves, whatever uncertainty lingered released its hold. He lifted his hips.

It was clear Benjamin wanted to take the role he was used to. He wanted to guide Jasper down onto him. He wanted to control the action, but he seemed to understand what Jasper needed.

Jasper took him in slowly, resting forehead to forehead as he did.

As he stretched, there was pain, but it wasn't a bad ache. It was well worth the soft words Benjamin whispered, his voice gravelly with want and love. "You are so fucking hot, habeeby," he murmured. "You can't imagine how it feels to be inside you." He pressed an open mouthed kiss to his lips, panting with the exertion of not moving.

Jasper huffed out a breath as he took Benjamin inside him completely. "Jesus Christ," he breathed, his arms wound around the other man's neck.

Benjamin's hands stroked up and down his back, comforting. "Will you let me make you feel good, ragly al-qowa - my man?"

Beyond words, Jasper nodded - a short jerk of his head. Benjamin tightened his hands around Jasper, rolling his hips in a gentle motion. Jasper gasped at the sensation.

"Do you like that?" Benjamin asked, setting an easy pace.

"Fuck," Jasper said, drawing the word out in a moan.

"You do." Beneath him, Benjamin grinned, thrusting up. His hands had found Jasper's hair, and he tugged lightly, tilting his head back so he could kiss his neck.

For a time there was relative silence. Jasper spoke only in whines and little cries. Benjamin's only sound was the light sucking noise as he pressed long kisses to Jasper's throat. Then there was the slap of their skin coming together.

Benjamin hadn't lied. He was good at what he did. Very good. He could read Jasper's body as well as any book. He knew when he could press harder, faster. He knew when to drag his teeth along Jasper's neck and when to soothe his skin with his tongue.

And he knew when the ache had subsided enough that it couldn't be discerned above the pleasure. He took Jasper's length in his hands, stroking even as his thrusts quickened.

Jasper came with a wild cry. He saw white. He saw stars. He yelled out a million nonsensical things, not the least of which was just how much he loved Benjamin and his fucking amazing cock.

Benjamin caught him in a breathless kiss, drowning his own cry of ecstasy against Jasper's mouth.

They rested, Jasper draped over Benjamin's form. Benjamin's hand was in his hair, scratching along the sweat-damped nape of his neck.

When he'd caught his breath, Jasper rolled so he was curled against Benjamin's side. He raised his hand, drawing the back of his knuckles down the other man's cheek.

Benjamin swallowed audibly, kissing Jasper's forehead with a great tenderness. "I... Thank you. It's a gift. I know this."

Jasper only hummed, his lids heavy as he rested his head on Benjamin's shoulder. He groped for his hand, tangling their fingers together, more content then he had ever thought possible.

For long minutes, they sat like this, happy together.

Then Jasper became aware of the tension in Benjamin's shoulders. "Babe?" He lifted his head reluctantly. "Are you okay?"

Benjamin wasn't looking at him. He was pale, nervous.

Jasper lifted his hand to the other man's cheek, stroking. "Babe?" he asked again.

"I just... I want to give myself to you that way." His words were quick, strung together as he blurted them out.

Smiling, Jasper tilted his head, kissing him long and slow - a serious kiss. "We have time. I'm not going anywhere."

That brought Benjamin's grin back. "Time is good." He stood, pulling Jasper up with him. "Come on, my beautiful man. Let me clean you up."

Happy beyond measure, Jasper let Benjamin lead him back to his room.

A/N: Many thanks to jessypt, barburella, and jfka06 for all their help. Jessy and Barbie helped me out with the Arabic terms.

Nat Wood made me a fabulous banner. You should check it out.