The whistle blew sharply, bringing everything to a halt as we all looked up at the referee to see what was up. A foul to be sure, but I had no idea as to who or what, as I’d been too focused on defending the goal. I could hear shouting and vaguely thought that I recognized Rosalie yelling, but dismissed it. Now was not the time for that, though I wanted to groan when Kirk got sent out after his third foul.

Eric jumped in to take his place, though he had to wait for Kirk’s twenty second penalty to tick away. The opposition was given a free shot, but missed thanks to Emmett, who threw the ball to Jasper as he was already far ahead from everyone else and heading toward the other goal. Bella and I weren’t far behind him and I felt a thrill of pleasure at knowing that our team was complete again and playing our best.
The three of us played the ball back and forth several times, running the clock before Bella scored a point right when the buzzer rang for half-time, putting us just ahead of the other team. It’d been a crazy game, but it was more fun than I’d had in a long time. I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard Felix bellow, “Go, Bella!” followed by several whistles.
Jasper and I grinned at each other as we swam to the side and got out of the pool. We had a few precious seconds to talk strategy during the change from one end of the pool to the other, and we were both going to switch out for Vicky and Tyler. The team huddled as we discussed what we’d done wrong – Kirk apologizing for being stupid and letting himself get put in the position he had – and what we would need to change in the second half in order to win. Our opposition was as good as we were, but we had more people to put in the water and we’d make use of it, ensuring our players were well-rested throughout the rest of the game.


After giving everyone instructions, Jasper and I took a seat next to each other on the bench. He waved at someone and when I looked at him, he was grinning like a loon and seemingly thrilled about something. Following his gaze, I instantly knew why. Mom, Dad, and Carolyn had shown up to watch us play and were sitting next to Rosalie.


Leaning over, I whispered to Jasper, “I’m glad they made it. Sorry you’re going to have to wait to talk to them, though.”


He shrugged, smiling. “That’s okay. I can’t believe she made it. That’s the first time she’s been to a game in… well, years, really. Not counting when she snuck in to see the game a few weeks ago, of course.”


Bumping his shoulder, I smiled at him to let him know I understood. The whistle indicated the start of the game and both our attention was diverted by watching it unfold. We were both on our feet, screaming to egg Eric on, he was miles ahead and had nothing but open water between him and the goalie. He didn’t waste any time and as soon as he was within reach, he brought the ball home, much to the goalie’s chagrin.


The other team was better than we thought, though. By the time the end of the fourth round came we were tied again, sending us into overtime. Jasper and I were both in the water, giving it our all, but it seemed that no matter what the team did, the others would catch up. So when the first of the two overtime periods ended, we’d tied the score 7-7.


With only ten seconds left on the clock in the final of the two rounds the crowd went crazy. I could feel the roar that went up when Jasper blocked the attempt at our goal and threw it to me, since I was furthest out and already heading toward the other side. Neither team had managed to score in this round, so I was determined to get a shot in before the whistle. Two guys were on my tail, though, doing their best to hinder me. One of them made a grab for my ankle, so I kicked as hard as I could in order to get away. Glancing at the clock, I saw the final seconds tick down. With a deep breath, I propelled myself as high out of the water as I could and lunged the ball at the goal right as the whistle blew.


For the briefest moment, I heard nothing as I watched the ball sail through the air before bouncing off the water and right under the goalie’s arm. The next moment, I was being mobbed by my teammates, and the noise in the hall was deafening. Once I surfaced again, both Jasper and Bella were hugging me awkwardly, and Bella screamed in my ear, “Way to go, Ed! We get to go to the finals now!”


I grinned, my eyes on Jasper’s face as he laughed. Times like this were precious to me, to see him so carefree and at ease. It was happening more and more, thankfully, but not often enough. We made our way out of the water and toward our families. Eric, Tyler, Vicky, and Demetri were being congratulated by their loved ones, which made me smile. It was always good to see the support we got from them.


Alice was chatting excitedly with Esme, and Rose had jumped into Emmett’s arms without giving him time to dry off, much to Jasper’s amusement. He shared a grin with Carolyn, who chuckled and rolled her eyes good-naturedly even as she hugged her son carefully in an effort not to get too wet. I just caught her soft, “I’m so proud of you, sweetheart,” as she pulled away.


Dad had given me a towel as soon as I’d reached them, and after rubbing it through my hair a few times and getting the worst off my body, he said, “Congrats, son. On to the finals next week, right?”


Nodding, I smiled. “Yep. If we’d lost this one, that would’ve been it for the season, but we get one more game now. Are you guys coming?” I asked as we hugged.


“Wouldn’t miss it, son. Wouldn’t miss it. Your mother and I were thinking we’d take the team out again after that match.”


“That sounds great, Dad. It’ll be nice to round the season off with a get-together like that. So what are your plans for today, then?”


Esme, who’d finished her conversation with Alice, stepped up to me and pulled my face down to kiss my cheek, murmuring, “You did well, honey. As for plans, we thought we might just go as a family today, unless you kids have plans already?”


“None that I’m aware of,” chimed in Jasper as he slid his arm around my waist. “Emmett, you and Rosie got plans yet?” he asked, turning to look at them.


Emmett, who’d not been paying attention to anything or anyone other than Rose, looked up. “What’s that? Oh, plans? Nope, we’re good, right baby?”


Rosalie just rolled her eyes, which seemed to be answer enough for Jasper as he grinned and said, “So where are we going?”


“How about that Indian place, Mom? Haven’t been there in a while, and they have room for a large group like us,” I suggested.


After checking with everyone, it was agreed that we’d head to Taste of India. Dad called ahead to get a table while Jasper, Emmett, and I hit the showers. Almost everyone was already getting dressed by the time we walked into the locker room to get our towels and shower gel, so the three of us took our time under the spray, talking about the game.


Jasper was talking excitedly about the last few seconds of the game as we turned the shower heads off and dried ourselves. “I still can’t believe how fucking close this game was! I thought for sure we’d end up in sudden death,” he said as we walked up to where we’d put our clothes.


Emmett was grinning as he tossed his towel on the bench. “I did, too, man.”


I’d just put my towel down as well and was grabbing my boxerbriefs when Jasper’s arms were suddenly around my waist and he lifted me off my feet – I could feel every inch of his naked skin burning against mine. “And then you scored the winning goal right at the buzzer,” he said, planting a big kiss on my neck as I laughed and tried to get my feet under me again.


“Hey, hey! I don’t need to see that, man. Keep that shit behind locked doors,” Emmett laughed, shaking his head.


I blushed as we both looked at him. I couldn’t see Jasper’s face, so had no idea how he felt about this, but I didn’t know what to say or do. Even when Alec and I had been together, we’d never flaunted our relationship in any way – at least, not beyond a hug or kiss on occasion, and always while dressed. Jasper still had his arms wrapped tight around me, and I could still feel his semi pressed against my thigh. Not to mention my own body’s response to being so close to him.


Emmett looked nothing but amused as he snorted, shaking his head again. “Chill, Copper Top. You know that if Rose were in here, I’d do the same. Was just giving you a hard time. Get dressed already,” he added as he pulled his shirt over his head. “I’m starving and I’d kill for some mango curry right now.”


Swallowing hard, I nodded but didn’t reply. Jasper surprised me when he planted another kiss on my neck, then turned to Emmett and said calmly, “Emmett, you better not do the same to my sister when I’m around. That’s something I don’t need to see. Besides, no one said you had to look, now did they? And the fact that you did is something that’s entirely between you and Rosalie.”


Emmett and I both stared at Jasper. Emmett burst out laughing. “Yeah, alright, Jazz.”


I gaped at Jasper. “Who are you, and what have you done with my boyfriend?” I asked quietly as I searched his eyes.


Jasper’s brow quirked up and he shrugged, grinning. “I’m the guy you fell in love with, and who’s finally coming into his own, darlin’,” he whispered, brushing his lips against mine.


My lips twitched up in a crooked smile as I cupped his cheek. “I can live with that,” I murmured.


Jasper and Emmett both laughed and Jasper said, “Well, I’m glad to hear that. Em’s right, though. I’m starving.”


With that, we hurried to get dressed and when we got to the others in the front hall, Emmett dropped his bag, grabbed Rose and spun her around before tipping her over in a Hollywood-worthy kiss. Everyone stared at them in silence. When he finally pulled back, Rose blinked up at him looking slightly dazed as she struggled to regain her breath. Jasper and I shared a look and burst out laughing, which caused attention to shift to us, instead.


“What’s going on?” asked Carolyn quietly, looking faintly amused.


Jasper shook his head, grinning. “Nothing, Momma, nothing. C’mon, lets get going, I’m hungry.”


It really had been a while since we’d last had dinner at Taste of India, but the atmosphere and the food were just as good as I remembered. Neither Jasper nor I could really decide on what to get, so we ended up getting several dishes and sharing them.


Even though we’d all spent Thanksgiving together just a couple of days ago, it was still nice to be out like this. I overheard Mom and Carolyn talk about Christmas, comparing traditions as we were waiting for dessert. Frowning, I stared down at my empty glass, kicking myself for not thinking about it before. Christmas was only a couple of weeks away and I had no idea what to get Jasper. We’d really barely spoken about the holiday at all, not counting Thanksgiving dinner and whether Emmett’d be able to wait that long to ask Rose – which, of course, he hadn’t.


Jasper leaned in and whispered in my ear, “What’s wrong, darlin’?”


I shivered as his breath fanned across my neck, then turned to smile at him. “Nothing. I just realized I probably should start thinking about what to get people for Christmas.”


Jasper’s fingers trailed at my nape as he thought for a moment, his eyes sliding from person to person before settling back on me. He smiled lazily. “We can go shopping tomorrow, if you like? I haven’t done any, either.”


“Sounds good.”


He squeezed my neck lightly. “We can talk tonight, bounce ideas around, okay?”


I nodded, but before I could say anything his attention was called by his mother, so I contented myself to listen and try to think of gifts.  By the time dinner was over and we were on our way home, I still hadn’t figured anything out. As soon as we walked in the door, Jasper looked around with a thoughtful expression.


“Hey, Edward, do you have any decorations?” he asked, turning to look at me as he dumped his bag by the door.


Frowning, I rubbed the back of my neck as I did the same. “Not really, no. I’ve never… really been home enough during the holiday season, since I lived alone. I usually spent my time at Mom and Dad’s, you know? Didn’t ever see the need to get my own before,” I admitted, blushing slightly.


Jasper hummed, nodding his understanding. Biting my lip, I wondered what was going through his mind. Putting a hand on his hip, I pulled him to me as I asked softly, “Did you want to do something, baby? This is your home now, too, after all.” A smile tugged at his lips and I added, “I kinda like the idea of doing something for Christmas with you.”


He chuckled, kissing my lips. “Thanks, I do, too. Somehow doesn’t really seem right not to, you know?”


I nodded. “Want to go take care of that tomorrow, since we’ll be out anyway?”


“Sounds like a plan,” he said as he pulled me along into the kitchen to grab something to drink before heading for the living room.


We sat and talked for a while, bouncing ideas back and forth about what to do for friends and family. It was nice, because the more we talked, the more it sank in that this Christmas, it wasn’t about what I did, but that it’d be us together. Jasper was just pondering on what to do for Rose when that realization hit me and I sank back into the couch, stunned but smiling. “You alright, sweetheart?” asked Jasper as he took my hand in his.


“Yeah,” I breathed. “It’s just… this is our first Christmas.”


Jasper’s eyebrows rose and he laughed lightly. “Yeah, it is, darlin’.”


I stared at him, letting that thought roll around my head for a moment. My smile widened as I thought, Our first of many. Suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to give him and promised myself I’d somehow make it happen. I knew marriage was out, legally, and in all honesty I wasn’t sure it was even something that either of us had any real interest in. That didn’t take away from the fact that I wanted to solidify us, to show him that I meant it when I said I loved him and wanted him.


I’d get Jasper two things. One, corny as it might seem, would be a Christmas ornament, maybe with a picture of the two of us. I’d have to talk to Alice, since I was certain she’d have something that might work from all the pictures she’d taken at Bella’s birthday party. The other thing I wanted to get him was a ring. Need to talk to Dad, see if he’ll let me go early or something if I don’t manage to sneak away for a while tomorrow.


Jasper was looking at me curiously. I grinned and bit my lip. It’d be hard to keep this from him, but I wanted it to be a surprise. “Nothing. Was just wondering what you’d like for Christmas,” I said – it wasn’t even untrue, because I was curious what he’d answer.


A faint blush tinted his cheeks as he shrugged and gazed down at his hands briefly. “I don’t want anything, darlin’. You’ve given me everything already,” he said quietly.


“Jasper,” I whispered, stunned. Cupping his cheek, I leaned in and kissed him reverently. He moaned softly as I shifted closer and straddled his lap. Resting my forehead against his, I breathed, “Love you, Jasper.”


He pecked my lips, murmuring, “I love you, too.”


Ducking my head, I kissed him again, needing to taste him – feel him. After a couple of minutes of just making out, it wasn’t enough anymore. I pulled back, trying to catch my breath. My voice sounded husky as I said, “Need you, baby. Take me to bed, please?”


Jasper nodded, urging me to my feet. Neither of us spoke as he guided us to the bedroom. We hastily undressed but as soon as we were naked, Jasper stilled us both, placing his hands on my hips as he watched me steadily. Taking a deep breath, he murmured, “Tell me what you want,” his own voice sounding low and filled with desire.


Cupping his neck, I pulled him closer and whispered against his lips, “I want you, baby. Want to feel you inside of me… please?”


He smiled, nodding. “Anything for you,” he murmured, kissing me deeply before pushing me down onto the bed. Before I could move back, however, he was down on his knees, his lips wrapped around the head of my cock, and I groaned.


“Jasper,” I croaked, letting my fingers twist around his curls.


He moaned softly, his eyes gazing up at mine as he took me in a little further with each bob of his head. I stared down at him, mesmerized by the sight of my cock disappearing into the warmth of his mouth. Ever since that first time he’d tried this, he’d gotten better at it and he seemed to love nothing more than to take me by surprise at times, like now. Before too long, my thighs were quivering with need as I tried to hold on – as much as I loved it when he gave head, I didn’t want to come like this tonight.


“Jazz,” I moaned, tugging at his hair. “Need you… please… too close, baby.”


I cried out when he groaned as he slowly released me, looking almost disappointed I’d made him stop. Closing my eyes, I tried to regain my composure. I was certain that one touch, even a gust of air over my wet cock would have me coming. When I opened my eyes again it was to see Jasper smiling smugly at me, and I laughed shakily.


“Lie back,” he urged gently, then followed me to the middle of the bed until he was hovering over me, a tender expression in his eyes. As always, Jasper took great care in prepping me, something that I dearly loved. No matter how things ended up, whether we fucked hard or made love slowly, he never failed to make me feel cared for.


I’d calmed down enough to not be on the brink anymore when he finally entered me. I relished the sensation of being filled by him. He moved his hands under my shoulders, covering me completely. Seeking out his lips, I wrapped my arms and legs around him, urging him closer still. He rolled his hips in small circles until I couldn’t stand it anymore. The way he moved inside of me, the feeling of my cock being trapped between us and the friction our bodies provided – it all drove me to the point where I wanted to scream. I was so close.


Jasper shifted slightly, just enough to brush against my prostate with regular strokes even as he kept me trapped beneath him. Ducking his head, he claimed my lips with such passion that I could have melted on the spot. When he bit lightly on my lip, I fell apart at the seams, my eyes closing and my back arching as I came; still he didn’t stop moving with me. When I opened my eyes again his gaze bore down on me and he whispered hoarsely, “God, Edward… love you.” He stilled as he came, then lowered himself on me so I could hold him.


Wrapping my arms around him again, I pressed my lips to his temple and slurred, “Love you, too, Jazz.”


We lay like that for a couple of minutes and I was half-asleep by the time Jasper moved to clean us up. I was out before he returned.


Shopping the next day was more fun than I’d anticipated. Jasper and I decided to go shopping for decorations first, as well as a tree. There was still plenty of time to figure out gifts but we wanted to be able to enjoy the holiday to the fullest. Neither of us had very much by way of inherited ornaments, so we basically started from scratch. We spent hours in a little seasonal Christmas shop, trying to decide on what look we wanted.


In the end, we went with a more classical feel since it’d suit the apartment best as well as our tastes, so we went home with bags of gold-, silver-, burgundy-, and ivory-colored ornaments and every other decoration we could think of. We’d had a friendly argument on whether to get an angel or a star, which I let him win. After all, how could I argue the idea of a guardian angel when I had him back in my life?


After we dropped the bags off in the car, we headed to the tree lot not far from the shop and took our time picking out the perfect Douglas fir. That done, we headed home, tired but excited to get everything put up. It took a bit of doing rearranging the furniture, and by the time we finally managed it, I was starving.


“Pizza?” I asked as I began putting the boxes of ornaments on the dining room table.


“Sure, I’ll call one in. What do you want?” asked Jasper, carefully unwrapping the angel.


“Hawaiian barbecue chicken sounds good.”


While he took care of the food, I started to put the lights on the tree, remembering from years past that that’s how Dad always did it. It took a lot longer than either of us had anticipated to get the tree decorated as well as the rest of the living room. We’d only stopped long enough to eat once the pizza arrived, and when we were finally finished decorating we were both too tired to really enjoy it for very long. We sat on the couch for a few minutes, cuddled up together as we stared at our very first Christmas tree, both of us a little overwhelmed by the experience, but also very happy. We went to bed not long after and fell asleep in each other’s arms.


The rest of the week went by much more quickly than I’d have liked. Something had gone wrong in the system that had a cascading effect, and I spent most of my time at work trying to figure out what the problem was. I’d only had time on Monday to call Alice and ask for her help before things had gone wrong, so I’d yet to get my other gift for Jasper straightened out. I even had to cancel my own appointment with Carmen, though Dad insisted I keep the joint one.


The first thing I saw when I came home was our tree. It always made me smile, and it filled me with joy to know that I was sharing this with Jasper. So despite the long and trying week, by the time Saturday rolled around, I actually felt relatively relaxed and content. Today would be our last match of the season against a team we knew to be very good. We’d be hard pressed to defeat them. I hadn’t seen the roster yet, so I wasn’t sure who was on their team, but we’d heard enough about them to know it’d be a tight game.


Jasper and I were laughing as we entered the swimming hall, Emmett and Felix close behind us. The other team was already in the water, warming up. As always I took in our competition, trying to gauge who to watch for, when I froze.


As if from somewhere far away, I heard Emmett say, “Fuck, what is he doing here?”