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*****

Jasper Whitlock was my first.

He was my first real friend, my first best friend. He was the first person to hold my hand and comfort me when my mother died.

He was the first person I told when I realized I was gay. He was my first kiss, my first love. He was my first everything.

Well, almost everything.

I had one first left and tonight I was sharing it with Jasper.

*****

The sounds of summer floated in through my open window on the tail of a warm, gentle breeze, helping clear the sleepy fog from my mind. I could just make out the soft tic-tic-tic of a sprinkler watering the neighbor's lawn and the whir of bicycle tires riding past my window, the quiet sounds of early morning on a warm June day.

Summer…

It was the morning after my high school graduation and the official start of summer vacation. I couldn't believe the day was finally here but it was not the idea of two months of freedom before heading off to college or the thought of leaving all of the pettiness of high school behind that caused my lips to turn up in a lazy smile. As I began to stretch, my body preparing to start the day, my mind turned to the first conscious thought I had been having every day for almost seven years.

Jasper.

Just the thought of Jasper was enough to cause my heart to flutter and my pulse to race. He was my best friend, my boyfriend, my love. There was no other way to say it; Jasper was everything to me. From the moment we met, at the innocent age of eleven, I knew Jasper would be the most important person in my life. I relaxed back into my pillows and allowed my mind to wander back to our first meeting, remembering every detail as if it were yesterday.

-o-

It was an unusually mild September day. I was antsy, irritable and didn't want to be in school. It was the first day of the playoffs and I wanted nothing more than to be at the ballpark watching the Cubs make another hopeful run for the World Series.

It was lunchtime, often my least favorite part of the day. To add to my already bad mood, some of the older kids decided to take my comic books and I had nothing to do but stare at my lunch, listening to the conversations around me. Sure there were other kids at my table, but no one ever really had much to say to me. They weren't mean, for the most part, but we didn't have a lot in common. I was shy, quiet and studious, not particularly interested in horsing around with the other boys. The alternative, sitting around giggling with girls, was even less appealing.

Tired of feeling invisible, I got up to throw away my trash and was approached by the guidance counselor, Mrs. Cope. It took me by surprise when she asked me if I would show a new student around school. She told me that his name was Jasper, that he was my age and had just moved to Chicago. I had no idea why she had chosen me for this task. Aside from the kids at my lunch table, I didn't have any friends to introduce him to and help make him feel welcome. Maybe she'd taken pity on me and thought the new boy might want to be my friend.

Unable to think of any good reason to refuse her request, I reluctantly agreed to meet the new kid, show him around and walk with him to our shared history class. Walking into the school office, my eyes drifted to the row of chairs by Mrs. Cope's desk, and in an instant my world changed forever.

He was turned to the side, laughing at something the office secretary was saying. I took a moment to study him before introducing myself. Everything about his appearance seemed to be in direct contrast to my own. His hair fell over his forehead in soft, blond waves trying, but failing, to hide his piercing blue eyes. His bright, wide smile conveyed a joyful, excited confidence. I, on the other hand, was saddled with unruly auburn locks, plain green eyes and a pensive, determined set to my mouth. My smile was not even really a smile at all, but a hesitant, nervous grin. People would tell me I looked like I was constantly trying to figure something out, but just couldn't quite find the answer I was looking for.

In short, Jasper was everything I wasn't and I was drawn to him instantly.

"Hello. I'm Edward. Edward Masen?" I said shyly, my tone of voice rising at the end making my name sound like a question.

I was inexplicably flustered in his presence, but continued on. "You're Jasper, right? Mrs. Cope asked me to show you around. We have history class together and…," I trailed off.

He turned to face me and smiled. At that moment, I lost all hope of finishing my sentence. With that one grin, I was instantly at ease. It was almost as if Jasper could sense my nervousness and was doing everything he could to bolster my confidence.

"Hi, Edward. I'm Jasper. Jasper Whitlock," he said cheerfully, the smile never leaving his face. He gave a quick wave to the secretary, turned back to me and said, "Come on. Let's go."

We walked to class together that afternoon and I found myself wanting to know everything about Jasper, wanting him to know everything about me. It was strange. I was so used to being on the outside looking in that it never really occurred to me to try to make a true, best friend. I wasn't even sure what that meant, to be honest. Having a best friend was a new concept, but even then, I knew I wanted Jasper to be mine. Oddly enough, Jasper seemed to want the same thing and from that day on, he was.

Sixth grade became seventh and seventh became eighth. Jasper and I were inseparable and rarely did we hear one of our names without the other. It was amazing how much better life could be when you had a best friend. We played video games, went camping and watched movies. We even played baseball at the park on the weekends, though I knew that Jasper was a much better athlete and the kids only asked me to play because of him. It seemed as though we spent every waking moment just being together, or wishing that we were. No one thought anything of it, of course. We were two young and carefree boys, enjoying what life had to offer.

-o-

Even after all this time, I was amazed at how quickly Jasper and I became best friends. There were so many variables that could have changed everything yet here we were, six years later, closer than ever. All of the fond memories of our youth came flooding back to me as I lay in my bed and fit seamlessly into the atmosphere of this warm, summer day.

Startled by the sound of the telephone, I looked up and realized I had been daydreaming about the early days of my friendship with Jasper for hours. Missing the call, but receiving no message, I began moving about the house, washing my bedding and tidying up. As I waited for the laundry to dry, I set about tackling the task of writing out thank you notes for the graduation gifts I had received from family and friends. Knowing I needed something to take my mind off the nervous anticipation I felt about seeing Jasper tonight, I was suddenly grateful that my father had been so insistent about carrying on the tradition of sending hand-written notes.

As I stamped and addressed the last of my thank you cards, I thought about the quiet evening I had shared with my father the night before. He had been fortunate enough to be able to switch shifts with a colleague, exchanging last evening for the thirty-six hour shift he had started this morning. There were parties all over town last night but the only thing I wanted to do was spend time with my dad. I appreciated the closeness we'd shared throughout my high school years, especially under the most difficult of circumstances.

Looking back on yesterday's celebration, the sharp sting of loss began to eat away at me as I thought about what had been missing.

My mother.

My mind wandered to a particularly painful time in my life, one I didn't know how I would have survived without Jasper.

-o-

Jasper and I were in high school, relying on and supporting each other as we tried to find our way in such an intimidating new setting. Having Jasper by my side made the transition much easier than I expected and I eventually settled into a routine, even managing to make a few new friends. Months passed and things went on as usual until my world came crashing down around me with the sudden passing of my mother.

Jasper was there for me then, as he had been so many times before, doing what no one else could. He soothed me. He sat with me in silence and held my hand. When even that became more than I could bear, he put his arm around me, pulling me close, as I rested my head on his shoulder. Jasper understood without a word that I wasn't ready to talk, that I didn't really have anything to say. I closed myself off to everyone but him. He stayed at my house night after night, without question. It was clear to everyone that I wouldn't make it through this okay without Jasper, that I needed him.

Weeks later, when anger bubbled up through my overwhelming sadness, Jasper brought me to the batting cages, not to play but to throw and hit things, physically expelling my rage until all that was left was an exhausted teenage boy with tear-stained cheeks. When I screamed and sobbed about the unfairness of life, Jasper held me for what seemed like hours, never once shying away from my emotional outbursts, regardless of where they took place. It was almost as if he surrounded me in a protective bubble of friendship and love, absorbing the emotions pouring out of me and replacing them with calmness. Jasper instinctively knew what I needed and he gave it to me without question.

-o-

I felt the wetness of tears on my cheeks as I surfaced from those painful memories. Needing to feel closer to my mother, I spent part of my afternoon looking through photo albums and scrapbooks she had made over the years. It may have seemed silly for a young man to count these things among his most valued possessions, but to me they were some of the only remaining physical links I had to my mother and I cherished them. As I carefully put the books away, I thought about what a seemingly impossible challenge it had been to lose a parent at fourteen. I don't believe I was capable of appreciating all that Jasper had done for me at the time, but I knew I would never forget how he helped me heal by giving me limitless amounts of support, friendship and love.

Love.

As I felt my mouth turn up into the soft, crooked smile I saved just for Jasper, I realized I couldn't think of the word or hear it fall from my lips without immediately being reminded of him. I truly loved everything about him. We were young, both on the verge of turning eighteen, but I knew he was "it" for me. The thought of being with someone else was so foreign, something I couldn't, and had no desire to, comprehend. Sure, I had noticed other boys when I was discovering my sexuality, but as far as wanting and loving someone? It had always been Jasper.

I sighed, thinking of how we were so different but fit together seamlessly. My eyes landed on a framed photograph on the mantle and I marveled at how our contrasting looks played so well off of each other, he with his dark blond waves and perpetually sun-kissed skin and I with messy auburn locks and pale complexion, save for an ever-present flush to my cheeks. We were both tall and I suppose some would say I was handsome, but Jasper had become a truly beautiful man. My vision clouded for just an instant as I thought of those deep blue eyes and pouty, ruby lips that always looked freshly kissed, setting my heart racing once again. I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts, but memories of confessed secrets and our first kiss washed over me and I was powerless to stop them.

-o-

A year had passed since my mother's death and I gradually found myself returning to normal. We were fifteen, sophomores in high school, and Jasper and I were understandably closer than ever. All around us, hormones flared and bodies changed. Talk at our lunch table consisted of hushed whispers about who liked whom, dates and parties. It seemed as though the desire to pair off, hold hands and share stolen kisses overtook any and all rational thought in our little group of friends. I still preferred to sit quietly at the table, adding a comment here or there, absorbing and analyzing everything that was said while trying to make sense of it all.

As the days and weeks passed, I felt myself pulling away from our friends, contributing less and less to those daily discussions. No one took special notice, of course, except Jasper. On more than one occasion, he'd asked me what was wrong and if I needed to talk. He said it was okay if I wasn't interested in what the other kids were talking about and tried to coax me out of my shell. As much as I needed someone to talk to and needed him to be the one to help me figure things out, I just couldn't bring myself to open up to him. I didn't know how to tell him that it wasn't that I was immune to these newly awakened feelings but that it was the object of my new desires that caused me to withdraw just a little bit further into myself.

The realization that I was gay didn't come as a complete surprise. I had never really been all that much like the other kids, so why would my newly discovered sexuality be any different? While the other boys talked about girls and looked at magazines they snuck from their fathers' collections, I spent a little extra time in the locker room after gym, discreetly watching in wonder as the droplets of water from the shower spray ran down the lithe bodies of my classmates. Soft, glossy lips and developing curves couldn't hold a candle to broadening shoulders, firm, muscular asses and masculine scents. It was a minor miracle that my secret wasn't discovered as I gazed longingly at other boys during gym class, barely able tear my eyes away as I watched the long, lean muscles of beautiful backs stretching and flexing gracefully with every twist and turn of adolescent bodies in motion.

As quickly as I came to terms with this new, secret part of me, panic swept through my mind and settled in. I should have been worried about how my father would react or what would happen if anyone at school found out, but my only real fear was that Jasper would reject me if he knew that I was gay. The thought of losing him was more terrifying than any other possible repercussion and was compounded by the fact that there was a second, bigger part of my secret that I held closest to my heart. I knew, without a single doubt or hesitation, that Jasper was the most perfect and beautiful of all the boys. Almost simultaneously, I realized that I was in love with and wanted my best friend, loved and wanted him in a way I had never wanted another. It was this part of my secret that I kept buried deepest inside and caused me to pull away even further.

I couldn't pinpoint the exact moment when I realized I felt more than friendship for Jasper. In the five years that I had known him, I had always been drawn to him, even from that first day we met in sixth grade. It was easy to see why someone would be attracted to him. Jasper was warm and caring, smart and funny and he loved me and took care of me like no other. Of course I loved him; he was my best friend and everything to me.

Physically, it was impossible to think of Jasper as anything other than beautiful. He seemed to become more and more handsome every day, a little taller, stronger and more defined. There were times when I would catch myself staring at his face, his tall, lean body or his piercing blue eyes, losing focus on anything around me other than him. On the few occasions when he would catch my eye, he would flash me a small smile, acknowledging that he was aware I was looking at him, but never making me feel uncomfortable for being caught in the act. It was not the usual wide, bright grin that was so commonplace on his gorgeous face, but an almost imperceptible upturn of his lips I desperately hoped was just for me.

Even so, with all of the ways I found myself attracted to Jasper, there was no single look or touch that had set my heart and soul on fire, no zing of electricity that struck me out of the blue. No, the connection I felt with Jasper had always been there, from that very first day in elementary school, waiting patiently in the background for me to age and mature so I could see it for what it was.

I supposed my attraction to Jasper was more like a slow burn, working its way up at a leisurely pace, from a few occasional sparks of instantaneous friendship to the scorching fire I often felt in his presence. My feelings were so strong and all-encompassing that I had no choice but to put all of my faith in our connection, knowing I would not be able to keep them hidden from Jasper for much longer.

The opportunity to reveal my secrets came sooner than I imagined. It was a moment I had been anticipating and dreading for months. We were settled down in my room, watching movies, listening to music and just hanging out together. My father was working the night shift at the hospital and Jasper had jumped at dad's invitation to spend the weekend with me, telling me it had been too long since we'd had this kind of time together, just the two of us. I was a fool to think he hadn't noticed; Jasper noticed everything. It had been a long time since I had allowed myself to be alone and in such close proximity to Jasper, but there he sat before me, slightly distant with a pained expression on his face. He was my best friend and I had pushed him away, hurt him and made him feel the sting of rejection. It sickened me to think that I had caused Jasper even the tiniest bit of pain because of my cowardice. I knew I had been unfair, keeping him at arm's length when he had always supported me. Regardless of my new feelings for Jasper, and the risk I was taking in sharing those feelings with him, I owed it to him as my friend to tell him the truth.

I was sprawled out on my old couch, trying to appear relaxed, staring off into space as I prepared to spill my secrets. Taking a deep breath, I said a quiet prayer to whomever or whatever was up there watching over me, silently pleading for Jasper to understand.

Please, Jasper. I love you. Don't hate me.

"Jasper? Are you awake?" I whispered, torn between wanting him to respond and fearfully hoping for silence.

"Yeah," he replied sleepily.

"I need to tell you something," I mumbled, my voice breaking on the last word.

Jasper turned away from the television slowly, rising up on one elbow as he looked up at me from his spot on the floor.

"What is it Edward?" he questioned, a shadow of concern flitting across his face.

Now that the moment was imminent, my resolve wavered and I was once again paralyzed with the fear of rejection. My mouth was dry and I could barely breathe, not knowing how or where to begin. My eyes darted around the room, focusing anywhere but on Jasper's beautiful face. I couldn't bring myself to look into his eyes as I prepared to confess my secrets, fearful of the anger or disgust I might find in them. Desperate to have something to focus on other than the terror I felt in my heart, I sat up and twisted my hands in the throw that lay across the couch.

"I…I'm afraid," I said, so softly anyone else might have missed it.

Jasper turned off the television and pulled himself up onto the couch, sitting cross-legged so he was facing me with the points of his knees barely touching the outside of my thigh. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him brush his hair out of his eyes and take a deep breath before grasping one of my hands in his.

"Edward, please look at me," he said quietly, gently tracing the lines of my palm with his fingers. "You are my best friend, Edward, and there is nothing you can say that will ever change that. You can tell me anything, I promise."

The combination of his quiet words and gentle gestures immediately put me at ease. As had happened so many times before, Jasper knew exactly what to say and do to soothe my nerves and allow me to gather my thoughts.

Taking another deep breath and letting it out in a slow, measured exhale, I turned my body to face him, mimicking his childlike pose, and finally brought my eyes up to meet his.

"Jasper…I'm gay," I said, unable to hold the words in any longer.

The room was quiet except for the sound of Jasper's sharp intake of breath and the faint ticking of a clock somewhere in the background. Nervously looking upon his face, I waited for some kind of reaction, but his expression remained blank, devoid of any emotion. I sat perfectly still, waiting for him to say something, anything, for an immeasurable length of time. Finally, when I couldn't bear the silence any longer, I opened my mouth to speak only to be silenced again by the feel of him releasing my hand from his. The agony I felt at the loss of his soothing touch was crippling and instantaneous. I panicked and drew in a shaky breath followed by a choked sob.

The next instant, the most amazing warmth surrounded me as I felt Jasper throw himself at me, wrapping me tightly in his arms. I was so relieved, so happy that he was not rejecting me, that I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, bringing our upper bodies even closer, and burst into tears.

"Shhh…It's alright, Edward," he whispered over and over into the crook of my neck, holding me close and rubbing random patterns between my shoulder blades and down my back. I didn't know how long he held me like that, but I knew I never wanted him to let me go.

My tears eventually subsided and became occasional sniffles, but Jasper continued to hold me tightly in his arms, murmuring comforting words softly in my ear, "I'm here, Edward. I'm not going anywhere. Everything is going to be okay."

I had never felt so loved in my life.

I knew then that I could tell Jasper anything, that the biggest part of my secret which I had yet to reveal would not destroy our friendship. Feeling slightly ashamed for doubting him, I resolved to finish what I'd started.

"Jasper? There's more," I said quietly, my voice muffled as I continued to cling to him, turning my head ever so slightly so my lips were pressed into the soft skin of his neck.

He pulled back from my embrace just enough to rest his forehead against mine. I felt his warm breath on my face and I forced myself to look up at him through my lashes only to see the moisture of tears I hadn't known he'd shed on his flushed cheeks.

"Edward?" he said, so softly it could have been mistaken for an exhale.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"I have something to tell you too," he said quietly, his eyes closing briefly as if he was strengthening his resolve to speak.

I wanted to tell him that I needed to finish what I had started, that I had already come so far and had to see this through. My desire to be free from the crushing weight I had been carrying on my shoulders made my need to continue my confession that much stronger, but something in Jasper's expression told me that he needed to go first, and so I yielded to his request, pulling my face back just a bit further and nodded for him to continue.

Jasper's arms were still wrapped around my chest, his hands falling down my lower back. I tightened my grip around his shoulders as I felt him take a deep, steadying breath. He placed his forehead back against mine, allowing his eyes to flutter closed as he whispered, "I am too."

Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined hearing those words fall from Jasper's lips. I was stunned into silence, unable to think or move. It took me a few moments to realize that Jasper was shaking in my arms, threatening to fall apart just as I had moments before. As quickly as I realized my mistake, I did everything I could to bring his body even closer to mine as I clung to him with everything I had. We stayed wrapped up in each other's arms, comforting each other like no one else could, for what seemed like an eternity.

My thoughts were scattered as I pondered what this could mean, a million questions running through my mind.

Is this real? How long has he known? Why didn't he tell me sooner? What does this mean? Is it possible…?

I stopped myself at that final question, not willing to allow it to invade my mind. We had already revealed so much and my heart was in a delicate state. It would be too cruel a twist of fate if that final question was asked and answered in a way that would shatter my heart. I decided that I couldn't disclose any more to Jasper tonight, needing time to process what we had shared with one another so we could come to terms with the enormity of our confessions and consider what it might mean for our friendship.

I was so lost in thought, running over every possible scenario in my mind, that I almost didn't notice Jasper's grip loosening around my body. Pulling back slightly, he finally raised his eyes to meet mine. What I saw reflected back at me left me breathless.

All of the love, desire, want and need that I felt for Jasper was shining back at me from the depths of his beautiful blue eyes. I was lost in them for a moment, and again nearly missed the movement of Jasper's arm as it untangled from mine, making the slow journey up my back and over my shoulder, finally stopping to rest on my cheek. His hand gently cupped my face, fingers caressing my neck below my ear while the pad of his thumb brushed softly across my bottom lip. This tiny gesture set my body on fire and I felt every nerve ending stand at attention.

Jasper slowly and deliberately moved his face back toward mine, inch by agonizing inch. At the last moment, I saw his eyes flicker briefly to my mouth and his rosy pink tongue peek out to moisten his lips, leaving them glistening and ever so slightly parted. His mouth was so close to mine that I swore I could feel a charge of electricity bridging the gap between our waiting lips. I could taste his breath in my mouth as I barely heard him whisper, "Is this okay?"

My body released all of the nervous energy it had been harboring, relaxing my shoulders and allowing me to lean in just a little bit closer in eager anticipation of what was about to happen.

"Yes… please," I sighed desperately, and closed the distance between us.

Jasper's lips felt warm and firm and perfect as they brushed gently against mine. Over and over our lips met in chaste kisses as my mind tried to catch up with our words and actions. I wanted to be able to process what was happening, to make some sense of how we got to this place, but there was only one thought playing on a loop in my mind.

Jasper is kissing me…Jasper is kissing me….

I gave myself over to the delicious sensation of Jasper's lips pressing against mine. It was heaven, simply the best thing I had ever felt, and I wanted more. Our kisses became deeper, our mouths lingering on the other's longer with every kiss, until I was unable to resist opening my mouth to him and allowed my tongue to gently touch his bottom lip. Jasper released a quiet moan as our tongues met softly in the middle and we tasted each other for the first time. I felt my heart hammering in my chest as our soft kisses became more intimate and our tongues exchanged gentle caresses as we explored each other's mouth.

It was the perfect first kiss.

Although part of me never wanted the moment to end, I eventually became lightheaded and a little overwhelmed by the enormity of what had happened that night. We eventually pulled back from each other ever so slightly, as if neither of us wanted to be separated more than was absolutely necessary, and our kisses tapered off and ended with a few gentle pecks.

"Edward," Jasper sighed as he released a breath from his lungs. Our eyes met and I was rewarded with a tiny smile, the one that I had grown so fond of seeing on Jasper's beautiful face.

My smile.

Unable to say anything in return, I could only gaze at him in awe as I contemplated all that had happened and all that had been revealed, a blissful, crooked smile on my lips.

-o-

The sound of a neighbor's dog barking roused me from my thoughts and I realized that I was smiling my crooked smile again as I remembered feeling so overwhelmed with the events of the evening everything changed for Jasper and I. My last fading memory was of shy kisses as we'd climbed into my bed together for the first time, gazing at each other with looks of wonder as we'd drifted off to sleep.

Thoughts of Jasper sleeping in my bed brought me back to the present and I made my way to the laundry room, gathering the sheets and heading up the stairs to my room. Chuckling to myself, I thought of the other firsts Jasper and I had shared in my room which required washing my sheets. We were both so young and inexperienced then, and for the longest time we had been hesitant to go any further than marathon kissing sessions and the occasional exploration of each other's bodies over our clothes. As I began putting fresh linens on the bed, I felt my face flush at the memories of other, less innocent nights when our hormones overrode our desire to take things slowly leaving us bare under my covers, tentative touches and writhing bodies leading to messy fists and sticky stomachs.

Slipping the last pillow into the pillowcase, my eyes traveled to my desk and landed on a photograph of Jasper and I standing with my father in front of the tall, ivy-covered brick facade of Wrigley Field. I picked up the picture frame and took a seat on my couch. The picture had been taken at a late season Cubs game at the beginning of our Junior year and while the image itself was lovely, it brought back bittersweet memories of coming to terms with our relationship and coming out to our parents.

-o-

As wonderful as our alone time in my room had been, the first year we were together was the hardest; neither of us sure of how to act in public or who to tell about our new relationship. For a while, it was fun to have a secret, but eventually all of the hiding became too much for both Jasper and me. My dad had been working long, late hours at the hospital and although we'd gladly taken advantage of those nights to be together at my house, we'd hated lying to our parents more than anything else, even if they were just lies of omission.

By the beginning of our junior year, we had decided that we needed to tell someone if only for some guidance and support. Jasper and I agreed on telling my dad, as he and I were very close and he regarded Jasper as a second son. I had been so nervous about telling him about me, about us, but Jasper sat by my side on the sofa, holding my hand and soothing me with soft caresses. My father had listened patiently, waiting for us to finish speaking, and then gathered us both in a hug as he'd told us he loved us, pledging to support us in any way he could.

Our confidence bolstered, we'd decided to tell Jasper's parents. I had always gotten along with them, but they were more conservative than my father and we hadn't been sure how they were going to take the news. At first it had been very difficult for Jasper's parents to accept that he was gay. My father had reached out and invited Jasper's dad to join us at a Cubs game but he'd refused, letting us know he needed more time to get used to the idea of Jasper being gay and of us as a couple. Little by little, the tension and awkwardness had faded and a few months later, Jasper's parents had pulled him aside to tell him that they would never do anything that would cause them to lose their son, offering him, and us, their love and support.

-o-

Shaking my head to clear my thoughts once again, I rose from the couch and placed the frame back on the shelf above my desk. I glanced quickly at my alarm clock noting I only had about an hour until Jasper's arrival, marveling at just how much of my day I had spent thinking about our relationship. Gathering a change of clothing, I made my way into the bathroom and turned on the shower to allow the water to warm up. I stripped off my clothes and glanced at my reflection in the mirror as I rubbed my hand over my face, deciding to forego shaving as I recalled how much Jasper said he liked a little scruff.

Stepping under the shower head, I exhaled deeply as the hot water ran over my body and relaxed my muscles. Thoughts of making love with Jasper tonight, of being so close to him, filled my mind as I washed my hair and body, and I felt myself begin to harden. Tonight was too important and I wanted it to last as long as possible so I took myself in hand with long, smooth strokes as I thought about another first Jasper and I shared a little over a year ago, knowing it would bring me a much needed release.

-o-

We were lying on my bed kissing frantically late one evening, our busy schedules and observant parents preventing us from having any significant alone time in several days. Jasper was lying next to me, his upper body slightly angled over mine. In a matter of moments I felt him unbuttoning my shirt but I was so desperate to feel his touch on my bare skin that I pushed his hands away and pulled my shirt open, the last two buttons scattering across the room. I heard a faint chuckle as Jasper quickly removed his own shirt before resuming his attack on my lips.

"Anxious, are we?" he asked in a hushed voice laced with mirth.

Opening my mouth to respond, I was silenced by the feel of Jasper pinching my sensitive nipples between his fingers like he knew drove me crazy. With a loud groan, I pulled him closer to me, my fingers lacing through the soft waves at the back of his neck, crushing my lips to his.

After what seemed like an eternity, Jasper's lips left mine and began a slow and torturous journey from the corner of my mouth, across my cheek and down the side of my jaw, kissing and nibbling along the way, his hot breath washing over my face as he took my earlobe between his pouty lips.

I've missed you, baby," he whispered softly. "I can't ever seem to get enough of you. Your lips, your soft skin… Fuck, Edward. You taste so good." Jasper continued kissing and sucking on my delicate skin, enough to drive me wild but not leave lasting marks, never ceasing to tell me how much he loved me, how beautiful and sexy he thought I was, how much he wanted me, all while continuing to tease my nipples with his fingers. I thought I would go insane from all of the love and attention he was giving me.

"Oh God, Jasper," I groaned as he slowly licked down the column of my neck and over my collarbone, stopping only once to bite my shoulder softly, his quiet moan turning me on even more.

He shifted his body lower and took my right nipple into his mouth, sucking gently and swirling his tongue around the already hardened peak until I was squirming underneath him. Moving slowly, he licked across my chest to my left nipple, paying it the same attention as the right. All the while, Jasper's hands were caressing my face, then my sides, finally arriving at the buckle of my belt. He pulled the leather strap from my belt loop, released the buckle and pulled the belt completely open, his fingers moving quickly to undo the button and zipper of my pants. I was overwhelmed with sensation as my erection was freed from the confines of my jeans, the cool air of the room hitting my overheated, boxer-clad skin.

Jasper moved his body lower still, licking and sucking every inch of my exposed midsection until he reached the waistband of my underwear, pulling the elastic down bit by bit until I managed to place a hand gently on his shoulder.

"Jasper, what are you doing? I thought…," I trailed off, losing my train of thought as he grasped my jeans and boxers, pulling them down further as I instinctively lifted my hips to help him remove them completely. I laid there, completely bare, watching Jasper as he took in the sight of my cock, so hard with need for him. It was not the first time he had seen me fully exposed, but something in the way he was looking at me was different, his eyes darker and filled with desire as I had never seen them.

"Please, Edward," he whispered softly, licking his lips, unable to tear his eyes away or keep the hint of desperation from his voice. "I don't want to wait any longer. I want to do this for you. I need to taste you, Edward. Please."

Acutely aware of my need to feel him in my mouth, to taste him as no other had before, I wanted to tell him to stop and let me do this first, but his voice was so full of love and I wanted him so badly, I was unable to resist. I had wanted to give this to him, to do this for him to show him how much I loved him, but I realized that I would always grant him anything, even if what he wanted was to give something to me. Moving my hand to his face to gently stroke his cheek, I lifted his chin until his eyes met mine.

"Okay," I whispered back. "I love you, Jasper."

"I love you, Edward," he said quietly, his eyes shining with emotion as he brought himself back up to place a soft kiss on my lips, "so much."

Placing an extra pillow under my head, I watched as he moved down my body again, slowly lavishing every inch with wet kisses and licks. His perfect pink tongue darted out to swirl around my nipples for just a moment before placing a gentle kiss over my heart. Lower and lower he traveled again, kissing, sucking and nibbling every inch of my sweat-dampened skin until he reached my stomach and dipped his tongue into my navel.

Unable to hold back the moan that escaped my lips, I reached out to touch Jasper, one hand locked in his hair, the other firmly gripping the sheets as he journeyed lower still, my hard cock twitching in anticipation of what was about to happen. Jasper's tongue began sweeping across my abdomen with long, slow licks, traveling from one hipbone to the other, his mouth covering me in gentle bites.

I felt him take a deep breath followed by a wave of warm air flowing over the head of my cock as his tongue ran up the slit, taking in the drops of clear moisture that had accumulated there. Moaning softly, he closed his eyes for just a moment before he began licking up and down my length, over and over, the tip of his tongue passing over my slit and swirling underneath the head until I thought I was going to lose my mind.

"Jasper," I barely managed to get out. "Please, don't tease me. I'm not going to last much longer."

Feeling him nod ever so slightly, I gasped and gripped his hair tightly as he took me into his mouth for the first time, wrapping his ruby lips around the head of my cock, sucking gently. His mouth was so warm and so wet and his tongue was doing sinful things as it traveled around the rim of my head as he slowly got used to the feel of me in his mouth. He began moving his lips further and further down my shaft, increasing the suction as his flattened tongue caressed the underside of my length. Panting and writhing on the mattress, I watched as my cock disappeared into Jasper's mouth again and again, my fingers tightly grasping the fabric of the wrinkled sheets as I felt the familiar tightening of my stomach muscles.

"Jasper, baby, I'm going to come," I panted, barely able to breathe but needing to warn him.

Nodding his head once again, he sucked me even harder, quietly humming his encouragement as one hand pumped the base of my shaft while the other gently massaged my balls. I couldn't hold on any longer.

"Fuck, Jasper! Fuck!" I choked out as I squeezed my eyes shut, my hips rising off of the bed as I released into Jasper's mouth. My vision blurred and I gave myself over to the sensation as Jasper continued to stroke and suck me gently, moving his other hand up to caress my hip.

Slowly coming to my senses, I opened my eyes to see Jasper releasing my softening cock from his swollen lips. He smiled up at me, his eyes so full of love, and I had never wanted him more. Grasping his shoulders, I pulled him up to me and kissed him desperately, tasting myself on his tongue, needing him to know how much I loved him and how grateful I was for what he had just done.

Pulling back slightly, he touched his fingertips to his bruised lips and said, "Ouch…gently, baby."

Laughing quietly, I whispered my apologies as I helped Jasper remove the rest of his clothes. Wanting to make him feel as good as he'd just made me, I began to kiss down his body, surprised to feel him grasp my arms and pull me back up to face him.

"No, Edward, not tonight. I wanted to do that for you. You can return the favor tomorrow. Just…," he said as he took my hand in his, our fingers intertwined, and wrapped them around his length. I smiled, nodding, and began to stroke him slowly.

"Ungh, Edward. Nothing feels as good as your hands on me. I'm so close already, baby. You tasted so fucking good, Edward. I love how you felt in my mouth," he said, groaning as I ran my thumb under the rim of his head, increasing the speed and pressure of our strokes.

"I love you Jasper. You're so sexy. I can't wait to taste you and take you into my mouth. Soon, baby. Come for me, Jasper," I whispered. Jasper shuddered and I felt the warmth of his climax spill out onto our joined hands as I continued to stroke him through his orgasm.

We cleaned up quickly and returned to the warm cocoon of my bed, wrapping our arms around each other as we buried our faces in each other's neck, exchanging soft kisses and words of thanks and love before surrendering to sleep.

-o-

Coming hard to the memory of Jasper's mouth on me, I took a moment to collect myself before rinsing off and grabbing a towel from the rack. That had been the first of many times Jasper had worshiped me with his mouth and the memory was a special one I found myself going back to again and again. I quickly dried myself off, got dressed and made a brief stop in my room to shove a few things in my pocket before heading down the stairs.

The warmth of the early summer day had given way to a mild evening, perfect for sitting outside in front of a fire wrapped up in Jasper's arms. Walking out onto the back patio, I gathered wood and placed it in the fire pit. Pulling one of the double lounge chairs a bit closer, I grabbed a large fleece throw from the storage bench and gave the setup a quick once over before heading back inside. I heard a quiet knock on the front door and slowly made my way over to answer it.

Taking a deep breath, I turned the handle and opened the door, unable to contain my smile when I saw Jasper standing before me. After reliving so many memories throughout the day, I was overcome with emotion at seeing his beautiful face.

"Jasper," I said a little breathlessly as I pulled him to me, wrapping my arms around his neck.

"Hi baby," he said quietly, his arms encircling my waist and holding me even closer to his body.

"Is everything okay?" he asked as I buried my face in his neck.

Unable to speak, I simply nodded my head and held him close as we stood in the entryway for several long moments, reconnecting with each other. Eventually, I pulled back from our embrace placing a soft kiss on his lips before leading him into the house.

"Would you like to sit outside for a bit?" I asked, gesturing to the patio doors.

"Sure, Edward," he said as he took my hand and led me outside.

After lighting the fire, I turned and allowed my gaze to linger on Jasper as he reclined on the lounge chair, the flickering orange glow illuminating the golden curls surrounding his face.

"God, Jasper. You are so fucking gorgeous," I murmured, unable to keep the thought to myself because it was so true.

"Thank you, Edward. Come here," he whispered huskily and motioned for me to join him. Settling between his outstretched legs, I pulled the throw over us as he wrapped his arms around my waist, kissing me gently behind the ear. I relaxed into his embrace as we spoke about graduation, summer plans and what we had each done earlier in the day, laughing as we recalled some of our sillier times together over the past seven years.

Our conversation eventually trailed off, both of us enjoying the quiet of the evening and the soft sounds of the crackling fire. Turning my head to the side, I raised one arm behind me and gently pulled Jasper to my lips as I felt his hands travel underneath my t-shirt, his fingers gently trailing across the planes of my chest and stomach. Our kisses deepened but remained unhurried as our tongues tangled together lazily and Jasper's hands moved down to undo the buttons of my jeans. Turning my upper body towards him, I slid my hands around the back of his neck, my fingers twisting in his soft curls, as I felt his hand slip inside my boxers and begin to lightly stroke my length.

I couldn't help the quiet groan that escaped my lips and was suddenly grateful for the privacy that the remote location of my home provided. Pulling Jasper upright for just a moment, I smiled at the confused look on his face as I lowered the back of the lounge chair until it was completely flat.

"Trust me," I said softly.

"Always, Edward," he murmured as he laid back, pulling me on top of him so I was resting between his open legs, and returned his lips to mine. Our kisses became more and more heated as our hands wandered and we rid each other of most of our clothes. Finally, when we wore only our boxers under the warmth of the blanket, I rolled us over so Jasper was on top of me and our bodies were perfectly aligned. I began moving my hips in gentle arcs, slowly and sensually meeting his as our hardened cocks ground against each other again and again through the thin fabric.

"Fuck, Jasper," I moaned. "I don't want to wait any longer. Make love to me, Jasper, please. I need you so badly."

He pulled back enough to look at me and I saw equal parts of desire and fear waging a battle in his deep blue eyes.

"Edward, we've talked about this," he said quietly. "I thought we had decided that you would be on top first. I don't think I can. I don't know what to do and I'm afraid I'll hurt you. But you could..."

"No, Jasper. I know it's not what we talked about, but I need this from you," I said, my voice quiet but full of resolve. "No more waiting because we're scared. We both wanted to wait for the right moment and not give in to our teenage hormones, and we've done that, baby. This is about so much more than that to both of us now."

"It is, Edward, so much more. It's always been more than that for me," he said, conflict still raging in his eyes.

I nodded and kissed him softly, brushing my fingertips across his cheek while silently letting him know it had always been more for me too.

"We've done all we can to prepare for this, Jasper. It's time, for both of us. I want you to make love to me, tonight. I need to take you inside of me, to feel you in places that only belong to you."

"Edward," he groaned in response to my words. "You know how much I want you. I've never wanted anything more. But I'm so scared, baby. I'm afraid of hurting you. It would kill me if I hurt you, Edward."

"I know, Jasper. I'm scared too, but I want this. I love you. I want you," I murmured, placing open-mouthed kisses down his neck and across his collarbone, my warm breath leaving a moist trail in its wake.

"I belong to you, Jasper. I have since that first day in Mrs. Cope's office," I whispered. "We have been connected in so many ways since that day and I need to feel this new connection with you tonight. I know you would never hurt me. I trust you and know you will take care of me just like you always have, and I'll take care of you too. I love you, Jasper. Please."

I felt him tuck his face into the crook of my neck, seemingly calming himself with every breath of my scent. With an almost imperceptible nod, I barely heard him whisper, "Okay, Edward. I love you so much and want this too."

We pulled back, looking into each other's eyes in the glow of the flickering firelight and shared a small smile before our lips found their way back home to each other. Soft gentle brushes gave way to deep passionate kisses as our hands roamed freely over bare skin and our hips rose to meet in the middle again and again.

Slowly, I felt Jasper pull away as he rose to rid himself of his boxers. He climbed back up my body and began covering me in open-mouthed kisses as his tongue tasted every inch of my exposed skin. He traveled lower, stopping to tease my nipples with his tongue before making his way down to my stomach while his hands gently pulled my boxers down and away from my body. I couldn't contain my gasp as he looked up at me, eyes so full of love and lips inches from my cock, and whispered, "I love you Edward," before taking me into his mouth.

I should have been cold in the cooling evening air, but I was so happy and his mouth felt so good around me that I felt like my body was on fire and I had to stop him before I came right then.

"Jasper," I moaned, "my jeans...pocket."

Panting slightly, he pulled his mouth away from me and quirked his head questioningly before bending down and picking up my discarded jeans. Reaching into the front pocket, he groaned as he pulled out a condom and a small bottle of lube. I smiled reassuringly, my hand reaching out to take the small foil square from his hand.

"We can stop anytime, Edward. You have to tell me if I'm hurting you," he said, unable to keep the nervousness from his voice.

"I know, Jasper. I will…promise," I said as I nodded encouragingly.

I watched as he flipped the cap open and squeezed a few drops of lube on his fingers, rubbing them together to warm the liquid before lowering his head to take me into his mouth again. Moaning as he gently circled my entrance with his slick fingertips, my legs fell away to the sides, opening myself to him. Jasper's mouth alternated between gently sucking the head of my cock and licking up and down my length while he slipped one slick finger past my entrance, gently moving it in and out as he began to prepare my body for him. He gradually added a second finger and then a third and I could no longer hold still. The intensity was almost too much and I felt Jasper stop all of his movements as I let out a loud groan.

"Edward? Are you okay?" I heard him ask, concern evident in his voice.

"Jasper," I panted, not able to form another response. I took a deep breath and forced my eyes to meet his, knowing he needed reassurance before we could go on, nodding my head and saying, "I'm ready baby. Please...I need you now."

He exhaled loudly and I saw him smile in relief. I felt him remove his fingers from my body and instantly felt the loss. Sitting up slightly, I reached for the foil packet, tore it open and rolled the condom over Jasper's hard length. I poured a generous amount of lube into his palm and watched as he stroked himself, getting ready for me.

He kissed me and gently laid me back down, pulling my legs up over his arms with my thighs pressing into my chest, as I felt him line up the head of his cock with my entrance. Looking into his eyes, I whispered, "I'm ready. I love you Jasper."

"I'm ready too. I love you Edward," he said, his eyes never leaving mine as he finally, finally, pushed slowly into me.

Hissing at the intrusive feeling, I saw a look of panic on Jasper's face and felt him start to retreat. Placing my hands gently on his thighs, I shook my head, silently asking for just a moment to adjust.

"I'm okay, Jasper, really. Just go slow," I said as I bit the inside of my lip to keep from crying out.

"Fuck, Edward," he panted. "I'll try. Jesus, Edward, so fucking good, so warm…" he trailed off, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to maintain control.

Pulling Jasper closer, I took a deep breath and nodded to encourage him to keep going, feeling him filling me little by little until his pelvis met the backs of my thighs.

The sensation was like nothing I had ever felt before, the initial pain and discomfort gradually replaced by a feeling of being connected to Jasper in every way. Gasping, I took just a moment to become accustomed to this new feeling before moving my hips ever so slightly, letting him know I was ready.

"Fuck Jasper...please, baby…more…" I trailed off, not able to verbalize what I needed.

Pulling my legs around his waist, Jasper fell forward onto his elbows, kissing me frantically as he began to move inside of me, rocking back and forth, my cock captured between our sweat-slicked stomachs. His pace quickened incrementally and I knew neither of us would last much longer.

"Oh God, Jasper. I'm already so close," I moaned.

"Fuck, Edward. Me too. So good...so close," he babbled, completely lost in the experience.

Jasper shifted ever so slightly and I felt my stomach tighten instantly, the sensation so new and overwhelming I couldn't help but cry out as I came after only a few more strokes. Moments later, I felt Jasper go completely still above me as his orgasm ripped through him.

"Ungh... Fucking hell, Edward. Fuck..." he trailed off, collapsing on top of me, not caring about the mess between our exhausted bodies. When we regained control of our breathing, Jasper lifted himself up, pulling out of me while making sure to hold on to the condom. He removed it quickly and put it to the side, falling back onto me, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close.

I brushed the dampened curls off of his forehead and placed a few soft kisses on his face as we recovered silently for a few moments. I had never felt anything so wonderful or as powerful as sharing this with Jasper and I was completely overwhelmed. We lay on the chair quietly until the cooling night air began to chill our skin.

"Come on, baby. Let's go inside and clean up before bed," I said softly.

We straightened up the patio and made our way upstairs, taking a hot shower and washing and drying each other reverently, but not saying a word. As we crawled into my bed, I felt Jasper reach out for me and pull me into a tight embrace.

"Edward, thank you. Thank you for showing me that we were ready for this. I love you so much," he whispered as he kissed my chest and hugged me even closer to him.

"I love you, Jasper. Thank you for taking such good care of me and making our first time so perfect," I said quietly, placing a soft kiss on his lips.

With nothing left to say, we instinctively joined together in our familiar position, arms and legs intertwined with our faces buried in each other's neck, holding one another close as we slowly drifted off to sleep.