I hope you don't mind me sending you a letter. They said it might help, to write it all down from start to finish. Might help them, they meant. But it didn't seem right to just tell them everything, put the whole business down for them to read. after all, it's not just my story, it's yours too. And between you and I, no one else ever needs to know.
I remember the first time I saw you Jasper, well I just thought you were an angel. I'd spent the afternoon wandering around aimlessly under the hot sun, trying to think of a reason not to go home. I was thirteen, and all skinny limbs, ripped jeans and greasy hair, not to mention a bad attitude. I was a loner by choice, and didn't everyone know it. It was getting towards dusk, and I had just turned in the direction of my street when I heard the shouts behind me. Mike Newton and his gang, walking down the street.
To say we had issues would be quite the understatement. They utterly loathed me, the feeling was fairly mutual, and as soon as I saw them I knew the afternoon had taken a turn for the worse. By the time they reached me, I was just waiting, resigned. As the first hit landed, I dropped to the ground, curled into foetal position, and waited for it all to stop. The blows were heavy, and it hurt. But only to a certain extent, because I was used to it by then. I could shut off, lock it all away. Like it wasn't happening at all.
All the same, i was beyond surprised when the beating abruptly cut off. I heard raised voices and a scuffle, but I was still dizzy from a kick in the head, and couldn't make it out. Next thing I knew, I was looking up into your bright blue eyes. The sun was shining behind your head, your golden waves forming a halo around your face. My breath caught in my throat, you looked so fierce as you towered over me, glowering as though you wondered why I was lying there on the sidewalk. Then suddenly your face split, and you shot me this dazzling smile. "Hey darlin' what you doin' down there?" You asked. I can still hear your rough southern drawl sounding out those words to this day.
I think I just shrugged or something. Like I said, I was a thirteen year old with serious attitude problems. Diagnosed with aspergers aged three, my social problems were not so much molehills as giant fucking mountains. Friends? I barely knew what the word meant. I was a freak, and an outcast. No one spoke to me, my own mother barely knew how to interact with me. Yet you were just standing there smiling like I was your favourite person in the world. Me, a stranger, lying there covered in blood.
You didn't offer me a hand, which I wouldn't have taken anyway. Instead you simply reached out and hauled up, before setting me gently on my feet. Now we were eye level, I could see we were the same age. You were taller though, and better built. I was scrawny and pale next to you. You were still looking at me, one eyebrow cocked. What did you expect? I couldn't work out if I was supposed to have said something, so instead I turned and started walking away. I heard you call after me, but it scared me so I just walked away faster.
It would have all ended there Jasper. That terrifies me today, to think of it. Would it have been a good thing? Perhaps. You would have left, we would not have spoken again. I didn't want anyone, you weren't the type to sign yourself up for a lost cause. But fate must have somehow intervened, because only ten minutes after I had gotten through my own front door, I was standing in the bathroom cleaning off the blood when I heard the doorbell ring. My mother answered it, and I nearly cracked my head on the mirror in shock when I heard the Texan accent coming from the porch. "Well good evening ma'am. I hope I've got the right address here, but my friend Edward left his wallet at mine this afternoon and I just swung by to drop it off. Am I in the right place?" I could only picture the shock on my mothers face. She knew I didn't have any friends. I jogged downstairs just in time to see her take that damn wallet from your outstretched hand.
You both turned to look at me, and you winked quickly. Now let me tell you something Jasper. One of the cornerstones of my disorder is an inability to read people's faces. By and by large, I get the big ones like happy and sad, but i sure as hell couldn't tell if someone was angry, confused or disappointed. Nine times out of ten and I'll be wrong. None of which explains why I was absolutely staggered, completely struck by the blatant, sudden hope in my mothers eyes. The desperate desire for me to make one, just one friend.
For the first time in my life I felt normal. Which might have been why I turned to you and smiled. "Thanks..." I quickly covered for not knowing your name. "Thanks. Do you want to come in?"
And that's where it started.
That long hot summer we were thirteen, well boy did you save my ass a hundred times over. After that first evening, where we just sat up in my room and played video games, we were inseparable. Without me saying a goddamn word, you understood me. You knew I had aspergers before I even mentioned it to you, although how the hell a kid like you knew about psychology I'll never know. I had hated people until I met you. You didn't talk when I didn't want it, you knew instinctively when to not get too close. You were so smart, you were on the same page as me...and you were hell bent on helping.
You told me how you and your mama had just moved to Washington from Texas, because your daddy kept beatin' on her all the time. You said it so cockily, with a shrug of the shoulders but I could see the pain in your eyes. I said nothing, because that was what I did best.
But nothing wasn't enough for you. You were determined that when we went back to school things would be different. You fuckin' taught me the stuff everyone else already knew. Hours you spent, hours up in my room forcing conversations. Teaching me to look you dead on in the eye while we talked, even though at first it made me want to cringe and duck my head away. Teaching me what slang meant, and how to use it in conversation. How when someone asked "is that the time?" The answer wasn't in fact that yes, that is the time, but that they were more than likely trying to leave the conversation. Which I didn't find encouraging at all, but here we go.
Mom got used to you being around pretty quickly. You never spoke about your home life, but the bruises that sometimes appeared on your arms told their own story. Mom just took you under her wing. You would arrive at breakfast time, and we'd spend the whole day together. Mostly in my room because I hated leaving the safety of my colour coordinated perfectly geometrically matching space. But on especially hot days you would persuade me to go down to the river. We had this secluded spot that no one else ever found, and we would shriek with laughter as we tickled each other mercilessly, and had the biggest water fights, before having competitions for who could have the best excuse for why our clothes were all wet again. In the evenings you would usually help mom with dinner. That was another thing you two had in common -you both loved cooking. I would sit at our large dining room table and watch you effortlessly chatting with my mom, and try to see how you did it. I loved her yes, but I couldn't compete with the ease with which you conversed.
Before it got dark you would leave. Always reluctantly, but determinedly. Mom and I asked you to stay over a hundred times, but the answer was always the same. "I can't. My mama will worry about me."
And so the summer passed. One day bled into the next, and before we knew it you were turning fourteen, and school was starting the following week. I was so scared to go back there. The summer had been like a dream, like something out of someone else's life. You had been so patient, and so gradual with the way you slowly worked your way into my life, that I could hardly remember a time when you hadn't been there, and I couldn't believe I had borne the loneliness so long.
The night before school started we were lying on my double bed, packing for school. Well, I was anyway. You were just lying on your back with your arms behind your head, watching the leaves fall from the big tree outside my window. "Come on Jasper, help!" I insisted as I carefully sorted all our new textbooks into colour coded alphabetical order, then prioritised them by year of publication. You just laughed at me, and continued gazing out the window. My aspergers had improved sure, but not so much that I knew what was going on in your head right now.
Then you spoke. "Edward...are you worried about school?" You said it nervously, chewing on your lip. Your usual cocky tone wasn't there so I knew it must really be bothering you. "Of course, like hell yes!" I exclaimed. I was absolutely shitting myself about another year of torture. You didn't look at me for a long moment, and then turned to face me.
"Do you think...that we'll be friends still, this time next year?" You asked quietly. I couldn't believe you were asking such a thing. You were the only thing holding together my world, my best friend, my partner in crime and the one who had dragged me out of the darkness. How could I possibly not see us together then?
You smiled at my obvious sincerity, then leaned over and deliberately knocked over a perfectly stacked and ordered pile of books. "Hey!" I cried, swatting your hand away. And so it continued, our last night of freedom.
Our freshman year wasn't nearly as bad as I had been anticipating. Mike Newton and his friends learnt to leave us alone pretty early on, after an incident involving a brawl in the hallway. It was the first period of the first day, and after showing you your homeroom I had started walking to class. Newton came up behind me and shoved me to the side into one of the lockers. My usual response would have been to run, but I was hemmed in on all sides by them. My heart was racing and I was shaking so hard I could barely stand. After a summer of your warmth, I had grown soft. Then suddenly like a miracle I heard your voice. It sounded like it was coming from far away, until before I knew it you had your arms around me holding me upright. I looked up through my blurring vision, to see Newton slumped against the locker opposite, blood pouring from his nose. As my sight cleared and stability returned to my legs I stood, pulling free from your arms. Smirking, I turned to you. There wasn't a scratch on you, and you returned my smile, before offering me your fist. That time last year I wouldn't have known what you meant or whether it was a threat. But you had taught me. My smile turning to one of pride, I raised my own fist to bump with yours.
After that everyone left us alone. We had most lessons together which was just how we liked it, and the whole world knew better than to mess with us. Term ended, and then there came the snow. That first Christmas we had, you stumbled into our living room out of nowhere in the middle of the day, with your eyes red from the cryin' and a huge black eye. Mom and dad took one look at you, and they knew. Mom made to get up but dad restrained her, and turned to you. "Well son, did you realise we couldn't get through a whole day without you?" He joked, and that's how I knew it was going to be okay. I silently moved beside you, and wrapped my arm around you. It was a bit odd. That was the most physical contact we'd ever had. Play wrestling didn't really count. But this, my arm around your broad muscular shoulders, as you shook slightly and tried to hold back tears. This was intense.
I had turned fourteen two weeks before Christmas, and I had my fair share of sexual exploration -with my hand that is. You brought porn magazines over for us to flick through when my parents weren't looking, and we talked dirty about what we'd like to do to the girls in the mags in typical schoolboy fashion. But none of it had really excited me. I had just put my lack of interest down to the aspergers, and the way I had always assumed I would never really be interested in anyone. Until I felt your strong back recline until you were cuddled up under my arm. I know it was a bad time, because you were still on the edge of tears from what your mother had done to you, and my parents were in the room. But suddenly, suddenly I was as hard as a fucking rock.
Dear god, I remember thinking. Dear god, I must be gay.
Well, that was a surprise I had to admit. I didn't take it so well at first, but I kept it hidden from you all that day, and then all the way through the following two years. They passed surprisingly quickly actually. Just you and me, best friends forever as we joked. I didn't dare tell you I hoped for more.
As we entered out junior year we began to take school a bit more seriously. You wanted to study history and I wanted to study music. To get into Ivy League, we were going to have to working fuckin' hard. Of course we were clever boys, but all the same. Our lazy days by the river were swapped that year for hours holed up in my bedroom studying. Me at my desk because everything had to be kept in order, and you sprawled on my bed as usual. To be honest I wouldn't have minded joining you, but that wouldn't help. Two years I had spent, after realising I was gay. Two years keeping my feelings for you locked tightly away where you or anyone else couldn't see it.
Sometimes you hugged me or slapped me on the back, and when I tripped over my own feet you never failed to reach out and pick me up. But I never initiated any physical contact, because it was just too hard to cope with. I didn't know if you were gay, hell you never talked about girls or guys. We were sixteen, and neither of us had ever had a relationship. You, well I think you were afraid to let anyone else into that dark world your mama made for you. And as for me, I had been in love with you an you alone from just about the second I saw you walk into our living room that Christmas Day.
As our junior year passed though it was getting harder. The knowledge that we might one day be parted tore at me like a knife. And things were getting worse with your mama. The bruises that used to appear once every few weeks were now a permanent fixture on your body, but you wouldn't let anyone see how bad it really was. Then one Saturday night after you had already left, my cell suddenly buzzed next to me. "U awake?" You had written. I replied in the affirmative and waited for a response. You didn't reply though, and I had just about given up and thought you had gone to sleep, when there was a tap on my window. I looked out in shock to see you, your lanky body dangling halfway out of the big tree outside my window. I couldn't make out anything but your shadow, but I knew it was you. I unlatched the window quickly, and then moved out the way so you could land inside. It was only then that I saw your face.
I think I gasped in shock. Your perfect features were cut and bleeding from a gash across your forehead, and the bruises marred every plane of your face. You must have been in agony, but you still managed to shoot that damn smile at me. "Evening Cullen" you winked.
I didn't speak, just moved towards you like a dream. I tugged at your shirt until you let me pull it carefully over your head, and I gasped at the damage on the rest of your body. The fury was rising in me for the fuckin' woman who had done this to you. How could she?!
I washed your cuts as tenderly as I could, and plastered you up. I gently rubbed lotion into your bruises, and when I was done, I just looked at you. Tears welled up in your startling blue eyes as you looked at me dead on. "Edward" you whispered. I looked at you for one long, endless moment. And then without conscious thought or desire, I pulled you to me, and my god did I crush my lips against yours.
For a long moment all I could register was the warmth. You lips were so firm and so soft at the same time, and it was better than everything I'd ever imagined in my fantasies. And then just as reality kicked in and I began to panic, I felt something. Undeniable and unmistakeable. You were kissing me back. I pulled back for a moment to look at you, to see if this was something you really wanted. You just smiled at me with those gorgeous lips that I couldn't take my eyes off. "We'll hell Cullen, I thought you were never gonna do that" you smirked.
It took a lot of time that night, you and me curled up in my bed as we talked. You told me everything she was doing to you and everything that happened. You told me how you knew even as that thirteen year old kid, that we were meant to be. How you waited, afraid I didn't feel the same way. How you realised I did, about a year ago. How you waited still, for me to be ready. And how you were afraid that it would never come to pass, and my Aspergers would leave me locked away inside my head forever.
But I had tasted your lips once now, and I was never turning back, no matter how much fear filled me. After all, you had been my everything and best friend for many years already. And suddenly we had become everything I had longed for.
The morning after, my mother saw your wounds and this time she couldn't be stopped. My parents took your mother to court to fight for your custody, and won. Social services only had to look at the wounds, and speak to your drunk mama before making their decision. The court took a few month to gather evidence, but when the decision was made it was all over. You were staying with me.
We didn't want to lie to my parents, after everything they had done for us. When you moved in just after your seventeenth birthday, we came clean about our relationship. They were shocked initially, and took a while to come around. They never tried to separate us or treat us differently, they simply took some time to discuss it between themselves, before coming up with a new set of household rules to encompass our relationship. We were just grateful that after everything that had happened, you were allowed to stay.
Our senior year passed in a haze of studying. I was top in the school, the one good thing to come out of my Aspergers. You were number two, but you had to work damn hard to get there. We were both accepted at UW in the last few months, and we began to prepare for our life outside of Forks. We had kept our relationship secret for the last year, as we had both had enough of conflict within the first year. Newton and the rest hadn't touched either of us since freshman year.
We sat out final exams with relative confidence, and then said goodbye to Forks High with no regrets. Returning for graduation was irritating, but my parents were so proud of how far we had both come that we had to put on a show. Tears were gushing down my mothers face as I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, and then we waited for Jasper Whitlock to officially graduate high school. We went out for a meal that evening, driving to Port Angeles to avoid the rest of the school. The atmosphere was light and happy, but you seemed nervous about something. I noticed your leg jerking under the table, and I put my hand on your knee soothingly. I went to the men's room, and when I came back I saw you deep in conversation with my parents. My father looked stern as he spoke to you, but my mother looked like she was about to cry. As I came close they stopped speaking and turned to smile at me, as I frowned suspiciously at you.
I found out what you had been talking about the very next day. You asked me if we should go for a drive. You had gotten your license a few months earlier, and I knew any chance to get behind the wheel was still exciting to you. You were still exuding that strange nervous energy from the night before, as we drove down to La Push. First Beach was empty and silent, just you and me and the waves crashing upon the shore. It made me think about us Jasper. We were so strong together, just like the waves nothing could stand in our way. Our solitude was self imposed, but we didn't mind. We filled each others every waking moment. After we both turned eighteen our parents allowed us to share a room, share my double bed where we lost our mutual virginity on our second anniversary, in a haze of heat and sweat, darkness, passion and moments that never ended. It was perfect, and so were you. So gentle and yet so passionate, I never doubted we were made for each other.
As we walked down the beach you held my hand, caressing me softly. You didn't say a word, which I appreciated. The call of the seabirds was enough. And then as we rounded the cove we came to an old upturned piece of driftwood, a natural seat on the shore. We had come here many times, and it was a place that had always meant a lot to us. Our place really.
You sat me down on a flattened area of the log, and I laughed at your firmness as you pushed me to sit. But there was a burning in your eyes that I had never seen before, and before I could ask you what it was, you had dropped to one knee in front of me. You took my hand, and made me look at you, and like in your eyes, there was a fierceness in your voice like nothing I had ever heard before. I still remember every single word you said to me that day Jasper. Every single one.
"Edward, don't say a word. Just listen. I love you, more than my own life. You are my entire world, my day and my night, and you hold me together. You have been there for me through the good, and you saved my life that night when the bad was the worst it had ever been. I will never ever love another person the way I do you, and I just have to know you feel the same way. Will you be mine forever? Will you marry me?"
I could barely breathe, and tears welled up behind my startled eyes. I looked at you as directly as you had taught me to, and took both your hands tightly in mine. "Yes Jasper, yes I will" I choked out.
The next few months were the happiest of my life. Mother threw herself into planning the wedding with you with the same kind of enthusiasm where you had once cooked together, both of you agreeing that I didn't need to be involved. I might have argued but I really didn't want anything to do with that side. All that mattered to me was that it was you.
The wedding day was magical. All our family and our friends came, miraculously putting aside their stereotype for our day. Newton and the boys stayed away though, for which I was grateful. In the end it was just you and me, side by side. I looked at you as I recited my vows, your eyes burning with the same intensity as the first time I had kissed you. I remembered my first thought; that you were an angel. The sun lit you up today as well, and I remember thinking I had been right all along. Yes my darling, you were an angel.
We went to college together, living in a small rented flat of campus. The years passed swiftly, filled with studying and partying. For the first time in our lives we made other friends, good friends who didn't care that we had no eyes for girls. Who admired our love for each other and our commitment. When we left college three years later we had no doubt that we would always know them.
You passed your history degree well, and applied for a teaching job, evening history classes with adults. You hoped the experience would let you eventually apply for a university position as lecturer. I found a position as a pianist in a relatively new but promising professional orchestra. After a year of rented accommodation we bought a house together. We were so happy with our lives, we really were. Your mother was gone, and ever moment we spent only brought us closer together. Our evenings were full of warmth, you cooking while I played piano to you, or simply sat on the counter and talked. Our night were filled with love and easy passion, two people meant to be together, living out their lives together.
Years passed, and we never ceased in our affection. But when we were twenty four, we decided that our little family of two needed to grow. After much discussion and legalities, we decided on adoption. The first time we set eyes on her we knew she was the one for us. The little four year old girl was sitting alone in the corner of her room, playing on a toy keyboard. We couldn't believe she was four when they told us, she seemed so much smaller. When we moved towards us she looked up at us and flinched back against the wall, cowering under her long dark hair, big eyes peering up at us.
It took a long time, but together we won the trust of our little Bella. She had been an abuse victim, to what extent we couldn't tell, but she was afraid of us. You helped more than me, I know. You knew what it was like to be where she was, and you were endlessly patient, looking after her during the day while writing your history papers. She was your little darling, the apple of your eye. And she was my daughter, my student and the only girl I ever loved. During her first year I began teaching her to play piano properly, and aside from myself I have never seen anyone take to it so fast.
I remember the moment I realised she was meant to be our daughter. How you leaned down to pick her up from that bed, and how her skinny little arms wound themselves around your neck. Looking at her bony face pressed against your soft cheek, I could see our future.
We were happy.
It happened one night though. It had to. My life had never been perfect, and those two years we had as a family with our little Bella, I could feel it was too good to be true.
It was the year Bella turned seven. You were taking her to her ballet lesson as I was running late with the orchestra, preparing for an upcoming tour. I remember driving home, worrying about who would take care of Bella while I was gone. Childcare was always our primary worry. It was only as I turned into the street that I wondered why the lights weren't on in our house. You should have returned hours ago.
I entered the house with a rising sense of dread, but still not a sound. The place was deserted. I tried your mobile but got nothing but voice mail. Maybe it was foolish to worry so, but my instinct was creating a sense of panic in me, and I called the ballet studio next. I can still remember how my heart clenched when the instructor told me you and Bella had left an hour ago.
I should have stayed home, waited. But I couldn't. Not when you two were still out there somewhere. Jumping back in the car, I reversed out the drive and headed in the direction of the ballet studio. It was quite a way out of town, down empty roads under the moonlight. It was dark and cold in the car, but I was single minded. I didn't need heater or radio.
Dark, so dark... but then I rounded a corner and suddenly it wasn't dark anymore. The flashing lights, red, blue and light cast vivid clarity on the scene. Voices were shouting everywhere and there were cars, an ambulance pulled to one side. The chaos was intense, i could barely make out a thing, or who any of the people running around shouting were. But I had no eyes for them. All I could see was the pile of twisted metal that used to be your pride and joy. You loved that car, fucking loved it. It was your baby, the first thing you had bought with your first ever pay check.
Crumpled, at the side of the road. I don't remember moving, undoing my seatbelt or opening the door, but suddenly I was running towards where I knew you must be, stumbling frantically, gasping with my hand outstretched in front of me. One of the police officers grabbed me before I could reach the scene, but I was screaming out your names. Over and over, my husband and my daughter.
"I'm so sorry" he kept saying. What did he mean? I didn't understand it at the time. I didn't know where you were, where my little Bella was. Why weren't they trying to save you? Then suddenly my eyes made sense of a long dark shape on the bank, with several officers clustered around. A body.
"No!" I think I must have screamed. Nobody and nothing could stop me as I sprinted towards you, forcing anyone and everyone out of my way. I reached your side, and I fell to my knees, praying, just praying you were okay.
You were my angel again. Your blonde hair scattered in a halo around your ice pale face, you blue eyes closed. I wanted to see your eyes. Why didn't you open them? I couldn't understand. I wanted to shake you, to make you look at me, see how worried you had made me. But you didn't move, you just stayed still. Your hands were cold by your sides, you didn't reach up to embrace me like you always had since that very first time. My husband, both the boy who had saved my life and the man who had become my life...he was gone.
The moment I realised that I was screaming, choking over your body as they tried gently to pull me away. I vomited by the side of the road, and then looked around frantically for Bella. Where was my daughter? Even more than seeing you, the sight of her tiny crumpled form as they zipped the bag over her face was too much for me. My entire life...over. Gone. You were my everything and now I had nothing.
I tried, I tried to reach her. I had to believe that if I could hold my little girl in my arms one more time she would wake up, with that bright sunny smile she reserved just for me. She had to. But they got to me first. They grabbed me firmly this time, and before I could break free, I felt a sharp pain in my arm...and everything went black.
I was unconscious for two years Jasper. Two years of a self induced coma, my body trying to protect my mind from the reality of what had happened. When I awoke, my mothers face was the first thing I saw. I didn't have to ask what had happened. I had seen it a thousand times in the sick distorted dreams that had filled my head. My beautiful husband and my little girl...both gone.
She tried to hold me, but I pushed her away. I couldn't stand human contact, it hurt my skin. She tried to talk to me but I didn't understand her words. What did she mean? I know she was upset, but when I looked at her face her expression meant nothing to me.
She left. She tried, but I couldn't speak to her, couldn't make eye contact. It hurt too much. After a few months she stopped coming back.
The nurses tried to talk, but I wouldn't. They moved me eventually. I think it was to the psychiatric ward, but I didn't really care. What did it matter? All that had mattered was you and now you were gone.
Years pass. Slowly.
New doctors, trying new things. They think they can fix me.
What fools, eh jasper?
You were the only one who could fix me.
But they told me to write this. They wanted to know what I could remember, what I thought had happened. Are they stupid? I remember, I remember everything.
I remember the feel of your large firm hand in mine. I remember the sound of your laugh. I remember the ache of desire when we made love, and I remember the sheer beauty of your face. I remember Bella's enormous brown eyes, and the way she could fit in both of our arms when we read to her. I remember her smile, all milk teeth and cheeky grins. I remember her sitting on my lap nestled against me as I taught her piano.
I will see you again Jasper, I promise. You are the love of my life, and none shall come between us.
I will see you soon, next time they leave me alone. Writing this has made me wonder why I am still here, when you are my whole world. You gave me life, and mine died when did.
Keep her safe for me Jas. It won't be long now. I'm coming.
Always and forever