A/N: Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
“Here you go, sweetheart,” said Esme, handing me a cup of coffee even as Carolyn did the same to Jasper.
“Thanks, Mom,” I murmured, shifting in my seat. The DA had just left after going over a few last minute things before the trial started, and now we were left waiting to be called in. Jasper had been quiet all morning, looking paler than normal, but he’d insisted he was fine. I knew that now that he’d made up his mind to be here, he was determined to see it through.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t worried about him, though, and it seemed I wasn’t the only one. Everyone kept glancing at us. Jasper avoided meeting anyone’s eyes but mine, whereas I made it a point to connect with them. It seemed everyone was here: the entire team, Rose, Carolyn, and Mom. Dad had wanted to come but was unable to make it thanks to a meeting at work. To say I was grateful for their support was an understatement – it meant everything to me they were here. For me, but especially for Jasper.
They were all talking quietly among themselves, but I paid the conversations little mind. Rubbing Jasper’s back, I took a sip of my coffee before asking, “Are you sure you’re alright, sweetheart? You’re starting to look a little…”
My voice trailed off, uncertain how to proceed. Jasper, who was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, his cup cradled between both hands, turned his head to look at me. He nodded once, swallowing hard before saying so quietly I barely caught it, “I’ll be fine. Just… not looking forward to having to get in there and relive it all. Especially not in front of them, you know?”
That, I could understand only too well, but I didn’t get the chance to respond as they opened the courtroom, signaling they were almost ready to begin. We both drained our cups, tossing them into the trash can next to where we sat and got up. Jasper immediately reached for my hand, gripping it tight, though he showed no other outward sign of nerves. Taking a steadying breath, I squeezed his hand to let him know I was there for him, earning me a small smile as we walked through the doors and found a seat in the back of the room with the others spreading out around us.
Once the defendants were brought into the courtroom and had taken their seats, I paid little attention to the goings on, being too focused on Jasper to really care. He’d tensed at the first sight of them and not really relaxed even after the charges had been read. The men on trial refused to acknowledge anyone other than each other, their attorney, or the judge, it seemed, which was fine with me.
Despite knowing this was going to happen, Jasper still gasped when he was called to the stand. He shot me a panicked look, his fingers trembling as he let go and walked across the room to give his testimony. I watched him visibly rally himself with each step he took and by the time he was facing the crowd, there was nothing but stoic determination showing on his face. It made me so proud of him that I couldn’t help but smile, though it quickly faded once the questions started.
Hearing Jasper’s version of events brought it all back to me in a horrifying manner. It was strange, really. We’d talked about that night several times, both in and out of our sessions with Carmen, and while it had never been an easy topic, it was different this time. It took me a while to figure out why, but when the defense attorney began to grill him, I understood. The DA had been guiding him to recount what happened, not in any way to hurt the case of course, but to make sure all the points were hit. The defense attorney, however, did all he could to minimize the events, to create doubt as to what had happened and why, and Jasper’s reactions to it all cut me to the core.
By the time Jasper was allowed to step down, he was shaken, ashen faced, and equal parts angry and determined not to show them how upset he was. I could tell, though, and so could Rose, Carolyn, and Mom. As soon as he sat down beside me, I pulled him in for a sideways hug and kissed his temple. Jasper put his hand on my knee, squeezing it, his eyes closed as he took a few steadying breaths.
Angela was called to the stand next, followed by Emmett, Rosalie, Felix, and Bella before it was finally my turn. The defense attorney had tried to poke holes in everyone’s story, but each of them had said pretty much the same thing, corroborating the evidence. As the questions were directed at me, I felt the most useless of all because I’d simply not registered a lot of what had happened. The second I’d seen Jasper being beaten, my focus had been on him and him alone. Still, I was able to point out which of the defendants had been holding him, beating him, and egging the others on.
After I was dismissed, the judge called for a break and the DA came to talk to us for a bit. He thanked us for our testimonies and assured Jasper and me the trial would go quickly. I was both proud and worried when Jasper clenched his jaw, nodded, and said, “We’ll be here. For as long as it takes.”
The DA left after that, presumably to grab a quick bite to eat. Carolyn put a hand on Jasper’s shoulder and looked at us as she said quietly, “Come on. We can all go get something to eat. It’s not bad, and we don’t have much time, what with all of us here.”
She hugged her son, murmuring quietly in his ear, too low for me to hear but the tremulous smile on Jasper’s lips told me all I needed to know. As close as Jasper had gotten to my mother, and as close as he was to his sister, I was so grateful that he had Carolyn there for him, especially after everything that’d happened. She tugged at Jasper’s arm, urging him toward the cafeteria despite his claim that he wasn’t all that hungry. “You need to eat, sweetheart,” I heard her say.
Part of me resented that she maneuvered him away from me, but I understood it, too. Jasper was her son, after all, and I had to allow them a moment to themselves. Both Rose and Esme gave me knowing looks, and Rose patted my shoulder before following her mother and brother down the hall, Emmett by her side. Mom hooked her arm around my elbow, gently persuading me to follow suit. Blushing slightly, I cleared my throat and smiled sheepishly at her.
“Don’t worry about it, Edward. I get it. This is hard for you – all of you – but we have to stick together. We’ll get through this, I promise,” she said quietly.
Sighing, I ran my fingers through my hair. “I know, Mom.”
By the time we arrived in the cafeteria, the others had already put a few tables together so we could all sit near each other. Alice, Tanya, Bella and Felix were carrying trays of food over, while Ben and Angela followed with a couple of carafes of coffee and a tray of mugs, cream, and sugar. I could hear Jasper protesting as I took a seat next to him. “Guys, you shouldn’t have. We can pay for our own—”
Bella shot him a glare, instantly causing Jasper to shut up and me to chuckle, earning me a baleful stare of my own. “Sorry, baby,” I muttered, leaning in to kiss his cheek. “You might as well give up, though, because this is just how it goes. It’ll be our turn at some point, I’m sure,” I assured him.
Jasper slumped back in his seat and huffed, both hands lodged in his hair as he glanced around our little group. “All right, I guess,” he conceded. “Thanks, guys,” he added with a small smile.
Felix tossed him a tuna on rye sandwich, grinning. “You’re welcome. Now eat up, no wasting away on my watch,” he quipped with a wink.
Jasper snorted, shaking his head. “Yes, sir,” he replied with a mock-salute.
We ate, talked, and generally were able to relax a little, at least for a short while. When it was time to head back in it was almost as if a hush fell over our entire group and we headed back in silence. The rest of the afternoon – in fact, the rest of that whole week – went by in much the same way. Witnesses being called to testify, asked countless questions about what happened. Most everyone who’d shown up that first day returned over the next few days, both in a show of support for Jasper and in some cases as a precaution should they need to take the stand again.
The hardest thing for me to hear, Jasper’s testimony aside of course, was that of the doctor who’d tended his wounds in the ER. Perhaps it was the clinical way he spoke, so utterly detached from something so deeply personal to us, that just set me on edge. Still, I supposed it was a good thing as the DA assured us it was.
When we weren’t in court, Jasper and I were at Mom and Dad’s, with Rosalie, Emmett, and Carolyn not far from us at any given time. Bella, Felix, and – to my surprise – Bella’s Dad, Charlie stopped by frequently as well. Apparently Bella had filled him in on what was going on and asked him to stop by that first night of the trial, to talk a little more about what we might expect and to give his opinion on it all. He came back every time whenever Bella was there, which seemed to please her, which in turn made me happy. It was funny, though, to see Felix squirm every now and then when he caught Charlie’s attention.
“You know,” said Charlie at one point with a scowl so convincing it even had me fooled for a second, “I still don’t get how you could let my little girl get into that fight, Felix.”
Felix fidgeted, mumbling an apology even as Bella burst out in a fit of anger, “Dad! I can’t believe you! I’m a grown woman and can look after myself and—”
Charlie’s mustache twitched, giving him away. Emmett was the first to start laughing and pretty soon we all joined in – even Felix, who was still a bit flustered. Bella, too, but only after she’d smacked her father’s arm. Hard. “Ass,” I heard her mutter, causing me to laugh even more.
Watching Felix look so uncomfortable and out of sorts was amusing, but eventually I took pity on him. He really did love Bella and would do anything for her, so I decided to give him a break. “C’mon, Chief. You’ve seen Bells play water polo often enough to know she can hold her own. She’s your daughter, after all.”
Charlie huffed, but his pleasure at my words was obvious to everyone. Bella just rolled her eyes at me and mouthed, “Kiss-ass,” making me chuckle.
Jasper, who’d been mostly silent up until that point, glanced around at our friends and family and said quietly, “I can’t thank you all enough, you know. For being here. Both now, and that night. It… It means more than I can say.”
Rosalie rubbed Jasper’s back, whispering, “Always, brother mine.”
To hear her sentiment echoed by the others in some form or other made my heart swell. Seeing how well Jasper was holding up, all things considered, made me proud and hopeful. Tomorrow was to be the last day of the trial, according to the DA and he felt confident we’d get a conviction for all of them, though he wasn’t sure about jail time for all involved. The three who actively held and beat Jasper, sure, but the other two? Shaking my head, I forced away the thought they might walk and refocused on the conversation which had turned to Rose and Emmett’s upcoming wedding.
“—Finally decided on May fifth,” said Rosalie with a grin that matched Emmett’s.
Felix’s eyes nearly bugged out. “Are you serious? You’re having a Cinco de Mayo wedding?”
“Yep,” said Emmett. “Thought it’d be fun to have a themed wedding, so better dig up that sombrero, bud.”
Rosalie laughed, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t go quite that far, Em, but yeah. There’ll be plenty of Tequila and Corona, and an overall Mexican feel. What do you think, Jazzie?” she asked, glancing at her brother.
Jasper snuggled closer to me as he observed his sister and Emmett for a moment. Since I had my arm around his shoulders, I squeezed his arm. His eyes flashed briefly to mine and I winked. Jasper turned to look at Rosalie again with a grin and said, “That, Rosie, sounds perfect for you. Right, Momma?”
Carolyn looked bemused at her daughter, nodding. “If that’s what you want, sweetheart, we’ll make it happen.”
“Cool,” crowed Emmett, causing everyone to laugh. The rest of the evening, people kept pitching ideas for their wedding. It felt good to have a sense of normalcy again after the last few days. I was definitely looking forward to have life go back to normal again soon.
When Jasper and I finally drove home, he was quiet again, a pensive look on his face. He didn’t break the silence until we got in the elevator and said, “You think they’d like a honeymoon in Mexico as a wedding gift?”
Raising my eyebrows, I glanced at him. “I’m sure they’d love it. That’s a pretty big gift, though.”
Jasper nodded. “I was thinking maybe we could go in on it together? Momma, too? It’s not like we can’t really afford it, but you’re right, that is a huge expense.”
As I opened the door to our place, I offered, “We can talk to my parents, too. I’m sure between all of us, we can figure something out.”
Jasper frowned, pausing in his tracks on his way to the bedroom. “Your parents? Why?”
Wrapping my arms around his waist from behind, I kissed his neck, shrugging. “Why not? They care for Emmett and Rose, too. To them, they’re family.”
After mulling that over for a minute, he nodded again, yawning. “Okay, sounds like a plan.”
With that, we headed to bed, both of us exhausted beyond belief. The last thing that went through my mind before passing out was, Just one more day.
When we got to the courthouse the following day, everyone was there again, even my Dad. We were running late, so it didn’t surprise me to find we were the last ones to arrive. Rose walked up to Jasper, hugging him tight and murmuring quietly. I didn’t catch what she said, but Jasper’s hushed, “I’m all right,” left no doubt as to her question. When Rose turned to me with a frown, I assured her we were both fine, just tired as neither of us had slept very well the night before.
Satisfied, she let the matter drop, though she kept glancing at us both. Not that she got the opportunity to say anything else anyway, as court reconvened and everyone’s attention was pulled to the proceedings. The DA made his closing argument, followed by that of the defense attorney, after which the judge sent the jury out to deliberate.
The DA came up to our group with a confident smile. “Don’t worry, I don’t think they’ll take very long about this; it’s pretty open and shut.”
Carlisle nodded, thanking him quietly. As the DA walked off, Dad turned to the rest of us. “Cafeteria? I don’t think we should go very far, but at least there we’d be a little more comfortable, and I don’t know about you all, but I could do with some coffee.”
So we all trooped into the cafeteria as we had every day that week. and moved tables together so we could sit in a group. I was honestly too tired to pay much attention to who did what, I was simply grateful when a cup of steaming coffee was placed in front of me. Jasper leaned into me, resting his head on my shoulder even as I took a sip. Esme forced some muffins on both Jasper and me, after he admitted we’d skipped breakfast that morning.
I let the conversations of the others wash over me, content to just be surrounded by our friends and family and Jasper at my side. The entire time we were waiting, we were touching in some way, both of us needing the contact. Whenever I stopped to think about it, it still amazed me how far we’d come – how far Jasper‘d come – since we first got together. Staring down at my hand, I fiddled with my ring and smiled as I thought about Valentine’s Day. Jasper’s hand suddenly covering mine startled me out of my thoughts and I looked up to find him watching me with a fond smile.
“Love you,” he murmured.
Leaning in, I brushed my lips to his, whispering the same. Just as I pulled back, a clerk came to our table to let us know the jury was ready and court was reconvening. Almost as soon as we’d all taken our seats, the judge came in. My heart rate picked up and my palms got sweaty as we waited for the verdict. Jasper seemed almost as nervous as he grasped my hand and twined our fingers.
When the foreman stood, I squeezed Jasper’s hand, though my focus was on the man as he started to read. “We find the defendant, Kyle Morrison, guilty of all charges.” He paused, glancing up at the brief outburst from the defense.
Clearing his throat, the foreman continued. “We find the defendant, John Wilby, guilty of all charges.”
Again, there was an outburst, this time followed by the judge telling them to settle down and asking for the foreman to keep going, which he did. “We find the defendant, John Delaware, guilty of all charges.”
I glanced at Jasper briefly at that, wanting to see his reaction to learning at least the three that’d actively beaten and held him would be going to jail. His jaw was clenched, his attention completely focused on the foreman who was reading the next verdict.
“We find the defendant, Joseph Smith, guilty of all charges. We find the defendant, Terrence Hicks, guilty of all charges.”
As soon as the last words were out of his mouth, it was pandemonium. The defendants were shouting to a man about injustice and were digging themselves deeper as they tried to turn to us and started yelling and cussing, flinging even more of their vitriol our way.
Over all of it, the judge banged his gavel, calling for order. We quickly turned our attention to him, but it took a firm warning from the judge that if the defendants didn’t shut up they’d be held in contempt of court on top of what they were already facing before all five men settled down again. The judge proceeded to set down the date for the sentencing hearing, but I wasn’t paying any attention anymore. My head was buzzing with relief and pleasure that it was now over.
Next to me, Jasper sagged back in his chair with a breathless chuckle, shaking his head as if he couldn’t believe it was over. He turned to look at me and we smiled, nodding at practically the same time in acknowledgement of this moment. The loud bang of the judge’s gavel signaling they were done and we could go startled us. The others all congregated around us, hugging us each in turn until the DA stopped by to shake our hands and to wish us well, and to let us know his office’d be in touch with regards to the sentencing hearing.
The second we were on our feet, Jasper turned to me and hugged me so tight it hurt. Not that I cared, because I was holding on just as tight to him as I nestled my face in the crook of his neck and closed my eyes. How long we stood like that, I couldn’t say, since I was only vaguely aware of the others around us.
Somewhere, I heard Emmett say, “Hey, Ed,” several times, but I ignored it. It wasn’t until Emmett clasped a hand on my shoulder and shook it, saying, “Alright, Copper Top, enough. I know you’re ecstatic an’ all, but we gotta go. They do have other things to do here, you know.”
Scowling, I looked up, only to find Jasper giving Emmett a similarly sour expression. Emmett just grinned, clapping us both on the shoulder. “C’mon. Let’s get outta here so we can celebrate properly. What do you say?”
Torn, I turned to Jasper to see what he wanted to do. Part of me was all for going out to celebrate, but if I were completely honest, I wanted nothing more than to take Jasper home and just be. Just us. Jasper sighed, running his fingers through his hair as his eyes darted around, taking in the faces of our loved ones. Biting his lip, he took my hand in his and gave me an apologetic look as he said, “Yeah, sounds good. Least we can do, right?”
I nodded, understanding what he meant. After all, they’d been there for us the whole way through, so it didn’t sit right to not be with them now. Jasper’s smile was grateful as he brushed his lips against mine. We ended up at Papi’s where we hung out for a couple of hours before people started to drift away, until it was just our close family, including Bella and Felix.
At one point, Charlie called Bella on her cell to ask about the verdict and his, “Hell, yeah! Serves those sons of bitches right!” was overheard by us all and met with laughter. Bella was grinning from ear to ear as she agreed with her father. They talked for another minute or so and every now and then I noticed Bella’s eyes cut to Carolyn, then Jasper or Rose. Making a mental note to ask her about it later, I allowed myself to get pulled into a conversation with Emmett and Rose about their upcoming wedding.
It was late by the time we finally got home and both Jasper and I were exhausted. It felt a bit surreal to be home and know the trial was over, and that tomorrow we’d have to go shopping for a suit for Rosalie and Emmett’s wedding. Jasper took me by the hand after I locked the door and smiled, his thumb idly rubbing over my ring. “Hey,” he murmured.
“Hey.” Pulling him closer, I put my free hand on the back of his neck, my fingers tangling in the hair at his nape. We stood like that for a while, just gazing into each other’s eyes until finally I just had to kiss him. It was strange, but I felt a sense of freedom that thrilled me. With Jasper having been in the closet, and worrying about coming out to his parents, followed by that horrible night at the club, and then the trial looming over our heads… There’d always been something there, waiting to happen for so long, it seemed, and now it was all over. Jasper was out, he had his mother and sister, though he’d lost his father. And the ordeal of the attack was as good as behind us now.
Jasper wrapped his arms around me tightly, closing his eyes as he kissed me hungrily. Tired as I knew we both were, sleep was the furthest from my mind right then, especially when Jasper pushed me against the door and tilted his hips to mine. Groaning, I turned my head just enough to be able to talk. “Jazz,” I croaked, my eyes searching his feverishly as they popped open.
He nodded and without a word, grabbed my hand and headed to the bedroom, pulling me along. Every step I took, I could feel the energy building between us, so when we finally came to a halt by the bed, I felt ready to jump out of my skin. From the look of things, Jasper felt the same because he fumbled in his hurry to undress himself, his eyes never leaving mine as we both shed our clothes. When he reached for me, his hands were trembling. Before he could do or say anything, I claimed his mouth in a searing kiss, only pulling back when I had to catch my breath. My voice was hoarse, my cheeks flushed, and my heart was beating a mile-a-minute as I said, “Want you, Jasper. Take me and let go. Fuck me.”
His eyes widened at my words. “Are you sure—? he started, but I cut him off. “Please, Jazz.”
I wasn’t entirely sure why I needed that from him in that moment, I just knew that I did. There’d be time for being held and making love later. Right now, I wanted to be his. To be owned. Taken. Free.
Jasper’s eyes searched mine briefly, then, with a heated kiss he directed me onto the bed. “On your knees, baby,” he said with such certainty it made me shiver. “Hold on to the headboard.”
His hands were firm, warm, and unwavering as he touched me, roaming over my entire body before finally prepping me. All the while, Jasper kept speaking in a low, husky voice, telling me how much he loved me, wanted me. How grateful he was. By the time he’d sheathed his cock I was ready to beg for him to just get on with it already and when the head of his cock breached me, I cried out in relief.
For all that I’d asked him to let go and to fuck me, Jasper took it slow – at least, at first. It wasn’t until he was completely satisfied that my body’d accepted him that he really began to move. He covered my hands with his, our fingers entwined as much as was possibly in our current position. I relished the heat of his body so close to mine, the way his hips moved hard and fast, pushing me ever closer to the brink. His panting breath on my sweaty neck had me shivering.
“So good… fuck…”
I was beyond trying to figure out if the words had been mine or his. Either way, I couldn’t have agreed more, especially once Jasper’s hand wrapped around my shaft and began to jerk me off in time with every push of his hips. The dual sensations of his warm hand pulling my release from me and his cock driving deeper and harder into me sent me skyrocketing, and I came so hard, my vision blurred. Jasper followed behind after another couple of thrusts and then he slumped against me, completely out of breath and boneless. His weight was too much for my shaking limbs to bear and we both sank onto the bed in a heap and I knew no more.
The next thing I was aware of was waking up in the middle of the night, wondering how I’d ended up under the covers and on clean sheets to boot. A quick inspection told me I’d also been cleaned up. When I turned around, I saw Jasper asleep next to me, looking utterly relaxed and at peace. I smiled, snuggling up to him and putting my arm around his waist as I kissed his shoulder. It didn’t take me long to fall back asleep again.
Emmett showed up early the following morning, bearing coffee and donuts. There was a nervous energy that seemed to almost shimmer around him, something that amused both Jasper and me. It was easy to see Emmett was eager to get going, so I decided to torment him a little and take my time. We were seated around the kitchen island and Emmett was going over the itinerary for the day. Taking a slow sip of my coffee, I grinned. “What’s the matter, Em? Someone might think you were looking forward to the end of your bachelor ways.”
Emmett wadded up a napkin and tossed it at me, huffing a laugh. “Shut up, Copper Top. Like you have any room to talk.”
Glancing over at Jasper, I smiled. Jasper looked back at me with amusement, quirking a brow in silent question. Turning back to Emmett again, I chuckled. “When you’re right, you’re right. Seriously, though, it’s good to see you excited about this.”
Jasper chimed in, “You’ve been good for my sister, Emmett, I’ll give you that.”
Emmett ran his fingers through his hair, a shit-eating grin on his face as he said, “Not near as good as she’s been for me, Jazz. Believe me. I still can’t believe she said yes.”
Jasper chuckled and got up, patting Emmett’s shoulder as he passed by him on his way out of the kitchen in order to go get dressed. I finished up my coffee after popping the last of my donut into my mouth. Grabbing the trash, I disposed of it before following Jasper, and a few minutes later we were all headed out the door.
Shopping for a suit took much longer than I would’ve believed possible. Emmett had gotten strict instructions from Rose as to what would and would not be acceptable for the wedding party, so it took a bit of doing to find something for the three of us. We slogged through several stores before finally finding something Emmett was sure would meet with her approval. It was mid-afternoon by the time we’d all gotten fitted and had put a deposit on the order. All of the suits would need some adjusting, so we’d have to come back in a couple of weeks.
Jasper shook his head as we walked out of the store. “Man, am I glad we don’t have to deal with this kind of thing on a daily basis. I wonder how Rose is getting along in finding a dress.”
The girls were all out looking for clothes, too. I could only imagine how much worse it’d be for them and shuddered at the thought of having to go through store after store without any luck.
“I have no idea, but I’m sure they’ll figure it out,” said Emmett. “Wanna grab a bite?”
We ended up at the same McMenamins Jasper and I’d first gone to after we recognized each other and we both shared a knowing grin. We’d just put in our orders for drinks and appetizers when Emmett’s phone dinged. He glanced at it and snorted, shaking his head as he typed a response to the text. Closing his phone again, he looked up at our questioning faces. He rolled his eyes. “That was Rose. They didn’t have much luck and are giving up for today.”
His phone dinged again and after replying, he added, “Looks like they’ll be trying again next weekend. There’s an expo or something for weddings anyway, so hopefully they’ll have better luck.”
Jasper tried to keep a straight face as he took a sip of water and said, “Don’t think that’ll let you off the hook to go to that. Don’t those things usually last all weekend?”
“Nah, it’s cool, bro. I don’t mind going to that,” said Emmett.
Our conversation was put to a halt with the arrival of our food, and we spent the next hour or so talking about what was left to do, both for the wedding as well as for remodeling our apartment. By the time Emmett had dropped us off at home again, he’d elicited my promise to not do anything crazy for his bachelor’s party. “I don’t want a stripper or anything like that, okay?” he said.
Chuckling, I leaned against the car. “That’s fine by me. I have no interest in the kind of stripper you’d have liked anyway, and I doubt very much you’d have gone for my tastes,” I teased, earning me a smack on the arm from Jasper and a laugh from Emmett. Grinning, I pulled Jasper to me and kissed the side of his mouth, murmuring, “You know I’m joking. I’ve got you, baby.”
Jasper huffed, but wrapped his arms around me. Emmett was still laughing. “Yeah, okay, Ed. Anyway, I’d better get home. Thanks for today, guys.”
“Give Rosie a hug from me, ‘kay, Em?” said Jasper.
“Sure thing. Later.”
We watched as Emmett drove off and then made our way upstairs where we decided to turn in early, both of us worn out after the long day.