Story Title: Feels Like Forever
Penname: Addicted to Edward
Entry for: The Simple Slash Contest ( www. fanfiction u/2202863/)
Summary: Edward and Jasper spend their last few hours together the night before Jasper leaves for college.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Huge thanks to my betas, SueBob, bonnysammy, and idealistic4ever - they all were a huge help!
We lay in the grass in my backyard, staring up at the stars. Our fingers were interlocked between us. My parents, mercifully, allowed us to spend our last few hours together in private. At least, as private as my backyard could be. It was dark, at any rate. I doubted my parents could see us from the house, and I trusted they weren't spying on us, anyway.
"Edward, please talk to me. Don't shut me out. Not now."
My words were caught in my throat. For days, all I wanted to tell him was not to go, to stay here with me. Selfish, selfish words.
"I don't want you to leave," I said finally. My voice cracked and whatever had been holding my tears back finally broke. They flowed freely now, and the sobs choked off any other words I might have said.
"Come here," he whispered as he pulled me closer.
I buried my face against his chest. He released my hand and wrapped both arms around me, one hand stroking my hair. Just the simplest of touches from him could soothe me. He held me in silence for several minutes. Or was it hours? I couldn't be sure, except that I knew we didn't have that much time left to be together. I always lost track of time when we were together. Tonight, it felt like the minutes were slipping away faster and faster with every beat of my heart.
"I'm going to miss you so much, Jasper," I said into his chest. My words were so muffled I wasn't sure he'd be able to understand them.
"I'll miss you, too, but we can email each other every day, and I'll come back and visit every chance I get. This isn't goodbye forever."
I turned my head to rest my cheek on his now-wet shirt. "College isn't like high school. You're going to meet so many new people. You'll meet other guys…guys like us. You won't want to be tied down to your little boyfriend back in high school."
"The way I feel about you…" He paused. It was unlike Jasper to have trouble finding the words. "I can't imagine feeling this way about anyone else."
I sniffed. "That's 'cause you're only eighteen."
He chuckled. "That's right, and you're what? A hundred and eight or something like that?"
"I'm serious, Jazz. People change in college. I've seen it happen with Emmett's friends, the ones who left last year. He doesn't even talk to them anymore."
He continued to stroke my hair, his fingertips brushing against my scalp gently. "That won't happen to us. We have something special, something deeper."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I can't imagine my life without you in it." He stated it so simply, as if it were an obvious truth of the world.
"You can't predict the future."
"How do you know that you won't meet someone else?"
I rolled my eyes. "At our school? Please."
"You'll go to college, too, Edward, and you'll meet other guys."
I mulled that over. College was two years away for me. Jasper will have long-since forgotten about me by then. "Not the same," I muttered.
I could hear the genuine confusion in Jasper's voice. Could he really not see the difference in our situations? Or was he just trying to make me feel better?
My breath came out in a long, slow sigh as I tried to find the courage to put my feelings into words. I'd never told Jasper what really scared me about him leaving. Hearing him confirm what I knew to be true would devastate me, but he was leaving tomorrow. What did it matter if my life was over tonight or in the very near future?
"That's two years away. By then you'll have already found a new boyfriend, someone better." A few more tears trickled slowly down my cheeks as I tried to swallow my fears. "You won't have to settle for someone that's not good enough for you."
"Don't ever think that about yourself!" he chastised me. "You're more than good enough – you're perfect for me. I didn't settle for you, Edward, you're everything I want in a boyfriend."
I wanted to believe his words, that I was his perfect boyfriend. A little voice inside me warned me that the higher I got my hopes up, the harder I would fall later, but I ignored it. I was happy to live in a small bubble of happiness for just a little longer.
I snuggled deeper against him and drew small circles on his chest with my finger, listening to his heart beating beneath my ear. I breathed in the familiar scent of the laundry detergent his mom used. Would he use the same kind, or would he smell differently when he came home to visit? There were so many little details about Jasper that were special to me. I smiled in spite of my tears and said, "I'm going to miss your accent."
"I'll call you, every night if you want. Then I won't have to miss your Chicago accent, either." He said "Chicago" the way I said it, "Sh-CAW-go," rather than his usual "SHE-cah-go."
He had an answer for everything. I sighed and rolled over onto my back again, putting one arm under my head. Jasper propped himself up on his elbow. I turned my head to look at him. Our eyes locked and we spent another immeasurable moment just looking at each other. I wanted to study his face and remember it forever, as if this were the last time I'd ever see him.
"Aren't you even sad at all? Worried even a little bit?" I asked tentatively, turning to my side. I looked down at the grass between us, pulling a few strands out with my fingers. Part of me was afraid of his answer, afraid that he wasn't sad and wasn't worried because he didn't care for me as much I as cared for him. The other part chastised me for thinking such foolish things.
"Of course I'm sad. I'm going to miss you so, so much. But there's nothing to worry about because nothing's going to change between us." He put his finger under my chin and raised my head to look me in the eye. "Nothing," he repeated.
"You really believe that?"
"Yes, I do." He took my hand in his. "Edward, do you believe in soul mates?"
I didn't answer right away. Soul mates, love at first sight, even happily-ever-afters…they seemed to be the stuff of fairy tales and books and movies. Not real life. But I was acutely aware that no one I'd ever met made me feel the way Jasper made me feel. Like I mattered. Like my existence in this world was worth something.
So I gave him the only honest answer I could. "I don't know."
His lips curled into my favorite Jasper smile. It wasn't a wide smile, but it was the way he looked when he was thinking about something that truly mattered to him. "I believe that every person has that one perfect match out there in the world, but it's only the truly lucky ones that actually find that person." He squeezed my fingers. "I give thanks every day that I found you."
He was so sincere, so honest. I always had butterflies in my stomach when he looked at me so intensely, but it felt like there were hundred times as many butterflies in that moment. We'd never talked much about our actual relationship; it just was what it was. Being with Jasper just felt…right.
I didn't know how to respond. To hear that Jasper looked at me as his soul mate filled my eyes with an entirely different kind of tears. We never said the "L" word to each other. It was a word thrown around the hallways at school as commonly as any other four-letter word. And it didn't seem to mean anything. The same girl confessing her love to her boyfriend would turn around and tell another boy she loved him the next week after breaking up with her previous boyfriend. Jasper and I both rolled our eyes at that kind of thing.
I'd always felt we had something more between us, something that wasn't often found in high school relationships. But soul mates? That implied being together always. Forever. 'Til death do us part.
Not that I didn't want to be with Jasper forever. The idea of it was fascinating and made me want to scream for joy. But my pessimism refused to let me enjoy the moment fully. How could I possibly interest him once he met older, more sophisticated guys?
"Did I frighten you?" He bit his lip.
"No. I just…" I couldn't organize my thoughts well enough to put them into words. "That's just intense. I never thought about it that way."
He smiled. "'Intense' is exactly how I feel about you."
"Intense" was the way my heart felt as it hammered away a mile a minute when he said such sweet things. "So that's how you can be so calm? You don't believe there's anything in this world that could separate us?" I wished I could believe the same thing.
"Inside, I feel anything but calm. I don't want to leave you. I don't want to be limited to phone calls and emails. I don't want to not be able to see you anytime I want. But I'm trying to stay strong, for you."
"You've always been able to handle your emotions so much better than me." I'd meant it more as a compliment, but there was a hint of jealousy in my voice. Jasper could appear calm in the most stressful situations. I felt like my heart was on my sleeve because he always knew how I was feeling, even when I tried to hide it.
He grinned. "Comes with maturity. You'll get there."
I smirked. "I thought I was the old man in this relationship?"
He laughed. "Age and maturity are two very different things."
His laughter always spread to me, making me laugh, too. It felt good, but once the lighthearted moment passed, we were back to the melancholy silence.
He trailed a finger along my forehead, right on the hairline. "Did I ever tell you why I chose the University of Cincinnati?"
His finger continued down my cheek and traced my jaw. "Of the three colleges I was accepted to, it's the closest one. It's only a five-hour drive from Chicago."
He looked down at the grass and bit his lip, suddenly very shy. He drew in a breath and slowly raised his eyes back to mine. "U.C. also has a good music program."
I just stared at him, letting his words sink in, trying to understand the significance of them.
His finger began an upward path, retracing the line. "If you're still interested in pursuing music in college, I mean," he said when I didn't respond. His words came out in a rush. "Of course, I wouldn't expect you to base such an important decision on me. But the option is there…"
"Oh," I breathed, understanding. I hadn't given much thought yet to where I'd go to college, but going to the same one as Jasper was an appealing option. "You'd wait two years for me?"
"Haven't you heard anything I've told you tonight, silly boy?" he asked, playfully ruffling my hair. He turned serious again. "I'd wait a century for you, Edward."
Even before the words were completely out of his mouth, his hand cupped my face and his thumb rubbed gently along my cheek. He lowered his head slowly, so slowly it seemed unreal, and brushed his lips against mine.
I turned my body slightly so that I could reach my hand around to the back of his neck and tangle my fingers into the soft curls there. I sucked in his bottom lip, trailing my tongue against it. He eagerly parted his lips. My body tingled when the tip of his tongue touched mine.
I pulled him closer to me still, crushing our lips together. I wanted to remember every detail about him, memorize the way his mouth felt on mine, the way his lips tasted, the way his scent soothed me.
Then it was his turn to explore my mouth, kissing me as he never had before. It was a good thing I was lying down; my knees had gone so weak they wouldn't have supported any weight.
Our chests pressed together as his fingers wound their way into my hair. I wanted to pull him closer to me even though it seemed impossible. He held me as tightly as I held him, as if he were just as afraid of letting go as I was.
I never wanted to stop kissing him like this.
"Edward! Jasper!" my father called from the back door.
Reluctantly, we pulled our lips apart. He leaned his forehead against mine. I tried to catch my breath, but it seemed impossible after such a deep and passionate kiss. It wasn't our first open-mouthed kiss, but it'd never felt like that before. This felt…almost desperate.
"I guess it's time to go," he said softly.
"I guess so," I breathed.
He pressed his lips to mine one more time before pulling away. We stood and walked hand-in-hand back to the house and through the back door.
My parents were waiting by the front door, giving us every last moment of privacy they could. Even at sixteen, I knew how blessed I was to have such wonderful, understanding parents.
"You should get going, Jasper. It's nearly midnight, and you have a long day ahead of you," my father said.
"Midnight?" Jasper gasped, his eyes wide. We'd been outside far longer than either of us had realized.
Dad put his hand on his shoulder and smiled. "Relax. I called your parents two hours ago. We all agreed that, given the circumstances, a few extra hours wouldn't hurt anyone."
"Carlisle, Esme, thank you. For everything." Jasper's voice cracked and his eyes began to water. My strong, brave Jasper, who'd held me as I'd cried, was now breaking down. I squeezed his hand, rubbing soothing circles with my thumb, hoping to give back some of the strength he'd given me. "You've always been so wonderful to me, like second parents."
"Oh, Jasper," Mom said softly before pulling him into a tight hug. "We love you as if you were our own son." She reached up to kiss the top of his head and then held him at arm's length. "Come back and visit when you're home. You're always welcome here."
"I will," he promised, still holding back the tears. "I'll be back to visit at Thanksgiving, if not sooner."
Dad shook his hand. "Take care of yourself. And don't forget to study hard." He winked.
Jasper did a mock salute and tried to smile. "Yes, sir."
He turned to me. The tears still in his eyes nearly made me lose it again, but I vowed to be strong for him. I swallowed back the sobs that threatened to start.
We wrapped our arms around each other and hugged tightly, not caring that my parents were standing right there. They understood.
He touched my cheek. "I'll call you as soon as I can. I promise."
Then he was gone.
I stood at the window, my forehead pressed against the cool glass. I watched him walk down the driveway and get into his car. I watched him sit there for a moment before starting the engine.
And then I watched him drive away.
As soon as his taillights were around the corner and no longer visible, the tears started down my cheeks. I knew he was only going to his house, but it felt like he had already left for good. The realization that I didn't know when I'd see him again tore a hole across my chest.
Mom wrapped her arm around my shoulder and led me to the living room. We sat on the couch, and she pulled me into her arms.
"I know, baby," she cooed, rocking me gently.
I felt like I was six, rather than sixteen. "I miss him already, Mom," I sobbed.
"I know. I'm so sorry."
She held me late into the night. My tears had long since dried up, but my chest still heaved occasionally with dry sobs.
Finally, I pulled myself upright. "I guess I should go to bed."
She nodded. "Sleep will help; you'll see. Things will start to feel better tomorrow."
"Things will never feel better," I mumbled.
She patted my hand. "If you need anything, just ask. We're here for you, Edward."
"I know, Mom. Thank you. I love you." I hugged her one more time before heading upstairs to my room.
Dad must have already gone up to bed, for which I was grateful. It was one thing to cry like a baby with Mom. In front of Dad, it would have been mortifying. For the first time, I was glad Emmett left for college last week. I didn't even want to think about him seeing me like this.
A box sat in the middle of my bed. I held my breath as I opened the lid. It was full of photographs. Hundreds of them.
These were all of the photos my mother had taken of Jasper and me during the past year and a half. I hadn't realized just how many there were. She had even taken some of him when we first met, when we had just become friends. She must have known, even then, that there was something between us. She knew it even before we knew it ourselves.
I studied each photo, reliving the memory of each one. Doing homework together. Playing video games. Wrestling. Playing the piano for him. Pictures I never even realized she had taken.
Our first date. My sixteenth birthday. Jasper's eighteenth birthday. Jasper's senior prom, which we attended together. Jasper in his cap and gown, holding his diploma. Emmett and Jasper's graduation party.
Our entire relationship was laid out before me in a series of photographs, from those awkward first months, when I didn't dare touch him for fear of betraying my feelings, to the very intimate ones from this past summer, when we could spend hours just holding hands and talking or staring into each other's eyes.
I blushed as I realized my mother had not only seen those moments, but photographed them as well, immortalizing them. She'd known I'd want them someday. She always knew what I needed.
I wished there had been someone to take pictures of some of my other favorite moments, like the first time I saw him. It was last January and he was sitting alone in the library, studying. His honey-blond hair was long enough to hang in his eyes, and the ends curled into loose rings. All I'd wanted to do was run my fingers through his hair and see if it was as soft as it looked. I hadn't even realized I was staring at him until he looked up and caught me.
I noticed him in the cafeteria at lunch the next day, again sitting alone. I sat alone, too. My friends and I had drifted apart when they'd begun to notice which girls developed breasts first while I'd been fascinated by the way our voices were deepening and the stubble I sometimes saw on Emmett's friend Peter. None of them had ever said anything, but I'd felt uncomfortable with all the girl talk, and I'd been sure they wouldn't have wanted to talk about boys.
There was a small group of gays and lesbians in our school. I'd tried to join their group, but I just didn't fit in. They were very into "Gay Pride" and drew a lot of attention to themselves. I didn't want attention; I just wanted to be me.
So, I sat alone at lunch.
On the third day of secretly watching him in the cafeteria, Angela Weber sat next to me. Angela was a junior and the type of girl who was friendly with everyone. She usually sat with a large group of friends, but every now and then she'd sit with loners like me. Emmett had helped set her up with her boyfriend, Ben, last month, and since then, it'd seemed like she was extra-friendly towards me.
"Have you met the new kid yet?" she asked, nodding inconspicuously towards him.
"No," I said cautiously. It sounded like this conversation was heading toward gossip and that just didn't seem like her.
"He's in my English class. His name is Jasper and he's from Texas. You should talk to him."
"Geez, Edward, are you blind?" She rolled her eyes. "He can't take his eyes off you."
I glanced up at him and sure enough, he was watching us. He ducked his head before he had a chance to see me smile at him. What were the odds? Every time I'd looked over to him in the last three days, he never looked up. But according to Angela, he was always looking at me.
She just smiled.
The first time I spoke to him was the next day. I walked right up to his table, trying to ignore the butterflies in my stomach. "Can I sit with you?"
"Sure," was all he said, but he didn't drop his eyes back to his book right away.
I sat directly across from him. Now that I was closer, I realized he was much better looking than I'd originally noticed. His eyes were a dark shade of blue in contrast to his smooth, fair skin. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to calm my stomach well enough to even eat lunch.
After a few minutes of silence, I worked up the courage to talk to him. "My name's Edward. Edward Cullen."
"Jasper Whitlock. Nice to meet you."
"What are you reading?" I had no idea what else to say.
"It's a compilation of journal entries from soldiers during the Civil War."
"No, just for fun."
"I like your accent," I blurted out. I blushed as soon as I realized what I said.
He smiled, flashing a set of white, perfect teeth.
And that was all it took. After that, Jasper opened up to me and I opened up to him. We became inseparable. We talked about anything and everything, from the intricacies of the characters in our favorite TV shows to what policies we would change if we ran the country. He tutored me in History and I tutored him in Math. We both struggled with English.
But the one topic that never, ever came up was anything having to do with love, not until the day our relationship became more than friendship. That was another day I wished I had pictures of.
It was the night of Jasper's Junior Prom. He was laying on his stomach across his bed, his head at the foot, working on a Biology lab write-up. I was sprawled on the floor besides his bed, trying to make sense of Shakespeare.
"So you'd really rather sit at home and do homework than go to your prom?" I teased.
He stopped writing but didn't look up. "I didn't want to go alone."
"Wasn't there anyone you wanted to ask?" I regretted the question as soon as I asked. I didn't really want to know the answer. If Jasper was crushing on anyone, it would break my heart.
"There's only one person I would have asked, but I didn't have the nerve." He went back to his homework.
"Oh." I turned back to my book as well, trying to clear my sad expression before he noticed.
I felt his eyes on me a moment later, but I forced myself not to look at him, still trying to wipe the sadness out of my eyes.
"Hmmm?" I was afraid to open my mouth, afraid it would break my concentration.
"If I…" His voice trailed off. He sucked in a breath before trying again. "If I had asked you to prom, what would you have said?"
I stopped breathing. Slowly, I looked up at him. He was chewing his bottom lip as he waited for my answer. "I would have said," I began slowly, "that I've never danced with anyone before, but I'd want my first time to be with you."
He smiled so widely my heart skipped a beat. "Dance with me?"
"What? Here? Now?"
He laughed and climbed off his bed. He put a CD into his stereo and turned on the music. I recognized the beginning of "Thunder," the theme song of the prom.
He stood in front of me, holding out his hand. "Yes. Here. Now."
I rose to my feet and took his hand. It was incredibly soft and warm. I'd dreamed of holding Jasper's hand for a long time. The reality was even better.
He put his hands on my waist and I put mine on his shoulders. We swayed to the music awkwardly. It was awkward because I had no idea what I was doing, and I suspected Jasper didn't really either. It was awkward because there was limited floor space. But what wasn't awkward was being so close to him and looking into his eyes. It was the most natural feeling in the world.
"Boys Like Girls, huh?" I teased, referring to the band's name.
He winked. "Some boys."
When the song ended, I dropped my arms. He must have put it on repeat because it started again.
He gently took my hands into his. "Have I ever told you how beautiful you are?"
I couldn't answer. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even remember my own name because Jasper was slowly leaning towards me. His lips touched mine in the lightest, most gentle way. By the time I realized I should close my eyes, it was already over. It was the shortest, sweetest kiss ever, and it was perfect.
"I've never kissed anyone before, but I'm glad my first one was with you," he said softly.
The memory of our first kiss made me smile. I went through all the photos again, setting aside my very favorites and the ones I thought Jasper would like best, too. Tomorrow, I'd ask my mother for duplicates of them. As soon as I had Jasper's address at school, I'd mail them to him. I'd also get frames for my favorites, to keep in my room. And once school started, I'd take some in for my locker.
Daylight had started creeping in through my window by the time I crawled under the sheet. Sleep must have come soon, thanks to the emotional drain of the evening, because the next thing I knew, my mother was shaking me. I shielded my eyes against the bright light that flooded my room. It was probably afternoon already.
"I'm sorry to wake you, sweetie, but I knew you wouldn't want to miss this."
She handed me the phone and then left the room, closing the door behind her.
"Hello?" My voice was still thick with sleep.
"How's my favorite piano player?"
I bolted upright, suddenly wide awake. "Jasper!" The sound of his voice surrounded me in warmth. Somehow, I'd expected him to sound different now that he was there and no longer here, but his voice had the same honey-smooth quality. "I can't believe you called!"
"I told you I would." Jasper's simple words were followed by the most calming and reassuring sound in the world: his deep, throaty laughter. His voice, his words, his laughter, it was all a declaration of his faith in us, a promise for a future that I hadn't let myself even consider until that very moment.