A/N: I hope you're all reading this because I NEED to clarify something. Edward and Jasper are NOT blood related. Jasper's parents died and Esme and Carlisle are like second parents to Jasper. I thought this was clear, but from the number of questions I got last chapter, it obviously isn't. They aren't related, I promise! Jasper isn't hallucinating his dead father; he just calls Carlisle 'dad' and Esme 'mom'.
Super mega awesome licks and thanks to my beta, siouxchef.
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I tucked Bella in and kissed her goodnight, once on the lips and once on the forehead. I crept back down the stairs and rubbed my eyes slightly before looking in the linen closet for a pillow and a blanket. I had spent enough time at the Cullen's to know my way around, thankfully. Once I had the things I needed for sleep, I made my way over to the couch.
I did a double take when I saw him sitting there.
“Jasper, have a seat.”
I was wary of his tone; I couldn't get a good read on it and it made me nervous. I sat across from him on the couch and gave him a curious glance. His hair was wet and he had red plaid long-sleeved flannel pajamas on, with a curiously relaxed expression, given the circumstances of the evening. Wonder if he had a few more fingers of scotch while he was upstairs.
“I couldn't help but overhear you talking to Bella. I came down for my book - I was just going to slip by you, get it and go back upstairs, but then I stopped to listen. I know it was wrong, but, well, I couldn't help it. I heard you talking about the future and working out some of your plans. I've spoken with Esme and she helped me to see things a little more clearly. I'm sorry that I reacted the way I did at first, but I hope the fact that you're still calling me 'dad' means that you understand, at least somewhat.”
When he looked at me, I could see the weariness in his face. This couldn't have been easy for him.
“Of course. I want you to be in our lives as much as Edward does. You know you've always been like a second father to me, more like a first at times. I value your thoughts and opinions, and the truth is, your approval would mean the world to me. To us. I understand if you can't give us your entire backing on the same night we dropped this giant bomb of information on you,” I chuckled slightly.
“Did you mean what you and Bella were talking about, just then?” he asked, confusion and worry written across his face now.
“Well, which part of it, dad? We covered a lot of topics, didn't we?”
I wasn't trying to be disrespectful, I just wanted to make sure I answered his specific question.
“Let's start from the beginning. First, let me reassure you that although I may not be completely comfortable with the idea of this yet, you were right to tell Bella that I will at least be civil. I would never do or say anything intentionally cruel, and I plan to apologize to Edward for my initial reaction to his... news. The two of them have the summer off, and you have matches to play in. Aside from this trip to Forks, do you have any travel plans?”
Really? He's asking me about travel plans for the summer?
“Not that I'm aware of. I just figured we would hang around Chicago, since we're hoping it's our last summer there.”
“Nice segue into our next topic,” he smirked. “Edward really wants to match here?” There was a hint of excitement in his voice and that made me so glad. It meant that underneath it all, he really was going to be happy to have us back.
“He very much does.” I switched to using formal names, wanting the conversation to take on a more even-leveled tone. I wanted him to understand that we were speaking not as father and son anymore, but as two people with a vested interested in Edward. “You raised him right, Carlisle, he wants his chosen family to be around his extended family. He loves and misses you and Esme a great deal, and he has surprised me recently by talking about babies and family and houses and...” I shook my head.
“Babies?” he whispered.
I nodded and smiled.
“Have you guys talked about that?”
“A little. We haven't worked out any details. I'll be upfront and honest, I am the one that has the least desire to bring babies into our lives, simply due to the complexity of it all. I'm not sure it's fair to the children, to ask them to carry a burden that we chose to bring upon ourselves, but at the end of the day, if those two want and need children to be whole, that's what we will all agree on.”
“Do you mind if I get a little more personal, Jasper?”
His eyebrows furrowed in child-like curiosity.
“No, Carlisle, go ahead.”
“Since you're the one that feels the least pull toward having children, does that mean that you're going to let them all be Edward's? How will you guys work that out?”
“Honestly, we haven't gotten into the... details of it all yet.” I thought for a moment. “But, no, I guess I'm a slight hypocrite, now that I think about it. If Bella is going to carry babies and bring them into our family, I would want at least one of them to be mine by blood. I don't think Edward or I will have any trouble loving and caring for the children that aren't ours by genetics.”
I mused for a moment about what Bella would look like, glowing and round-bellied. Vomiting and bossing us around. Wait, don't pregnant women get horny? Thank God there'd be two of us; Bella was enough for two on her own, I couldn't imagine her hormones amped up. I couldn't hold the laugh in, so I merely apologized after it escaped.
“I am completely fascinated by the technical aspects, I apologize Jasper. There are just so many different ways to set things up, my head is spinning at the choices you'll have to make. Moving away from babies, since that might be a few years away, what are you planning to do about marriage?”
“Well, Carlisle, Edward and I talk about that more than we discuss it with Bella, frankly. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why he wanted to tell you about us; after the last time we discussed it, we agreed that it would make more sense for Edward and Bella to get married. He has a public image to maintain and while I do as well, mine is probably better served as that of a single guy.”
Carlisle sort of tilted his head to the side and laughed to himself as he processed my words.
“You think you guys are ready for that step? Don't you think you'll feel left out, if they get married?”
“Sure, I'm going to feel left out. There are going to be times when the two of them go to a function as husband and wife, and it will sting. It already does. It hurts, but that moment of pain is worth knowing that they are two parts of me. Knowing that they come home to me and that not just the two of them together, but the three of us are what make the whole of our relationship. I think we're ready to talk about these things and really evaluate our options. And yeah, maybe we're ready to go there,” I paused to think for a moment, then smiled. “No, not just maybe... we are. We love and trust each other, and I want to spend the rest of my life with them. There is something so comforting and so warm about each of them. Frankly, I think I'm the lucky one. Why Bella would want to be with the two of us mystifies me, we drink beer, we're gross, we're sweaty, smelly men. Edward? He has to put up with me and my moods after games, especially if we lose.”
“Jasper, what if one of them wanted to bring someone else home?”
Carlisle had that look on his face again. He wasn't asking to be unkind, he was simply genuinely curious. I was glad he was peppering me with these questions, actually. It was good preparation for what we'd be up against.
“Well, we haven't ever discussed that, but my gut instinct is that it just wouldn't happen. From the very little research I've done, I know that there are some poly groups that ebb and flow, the quantity of people in them fluctuates and varies. For us? I don't see that as how we function. Esme pointed out a truth, earlier. Edward and I were in love before Bella showed up. If Bella ever decided to leave, I don't see that changing, we would still be in love with each other. I don't know if we would seek out another partner, but I can tell you that I think one woman and one man is the limit of what I can handle,” I laughed freely then, the mood seeming to lighten.
“If the two of them get married, does that mean they will be on the title to the house?”
“No, I think there are some ways around that; they might be the ones that initially apply for the mortgage, but I think we can do a Quit Claim Deed to add my name as well, so that we all have rights if something happens.”
“Do you think you'll have two houses, like that show, what is it called...” he looked off to the side, “Great Love?”
He looked at me triumphantly, as if he had just solved all of our problems by remembering how one family managed to work out the details. I laughed, not at him, just at the situation. Who knew a cable show would ever help explain my life.
“We won't have two houses like they do on Big Love, dad, because in that show there is one man in love with three women. The women care for each other, but aren't romantically involved. We all love each other and want to be... together, in every sense, so we just want one house.”
I could see the wheels turning in his brain as he mulled over my comments and emphasis. He turned a slight shade of pink and muttered a low “Oh!” as he must've mentally hit on the fact that we all sleep together. And sleep together. He changed the topic quickly, thankfully, not allowing my brain enough time to sift through all of the memories of us together and the thoughts I had of what our lives might look like in one house. The apartment was nice, mind you, but an entire house to ourselves? The idea was blissful.
“How will you work out banking and money?”
“Not sure yet. The idea that we're going to commit to each other is not necessarily new, but putting that plan into action is. I suspect we'll pool our money and have a budget setup so that none one feels as though anyone else's resources are being abused, or so that the lower income earner doesn't feel like they are asking or begging for money, you know?”
“Bella and Edward are still in college for that matter. You're okay with that?”
“Of course. Bella graduates this year and then she'll be ready to practice law if that's what she wants, or teach. Edward has a few more years of residency and such before he will be able to bring in an income. I think he wants to open a private practice, I'm not sure. But sure, I'm okay with being the primary breadwinner for now. Honestly, it makes me proud that I can help support them in any way, financial, emotional, whatever they need. It isn't exactly like Edward is a slouch, you know as well as I do that he has plenty of money at his disposal, as do I. Bella is in a different position than we are, financially, but her motivations are pure. She loved us before she knew, she doesn't abuse it by asking us for things. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I don't think she's ever asked for a single material thing from us.”
“Yes, well, I hate to say this, but even as much in love as the three of you are, it might be wise to look into some protection for yourselves and your money. I would say the same if it was just you marrying just one person, so don't be offended, and of course it's nothing personal against Bella.”
Carlisle's expression changed and I could tell he hadn't thought about protecting me from his own son.
“Of course, that's true. Even though he has money of his own, it would still be wise of you to protect your own assets.”
I had no fucking clue what we were going to do about money, but it wasn't going to get resolved that night, so I let that one go.
“I have so many more questions, but its getting late. Maybe we could all sit down and talk about this tomorrow?”
“I'd like that, dad. I'm sure Edward and Bella would as well. You've given me some good things to think about and I appreciate that. I don't want you to think there are things we won't talk to you about, because that's not the case – if you're going to be a support system in our lives, I know we all agree that it's important to be honest with you. Oh, but one last thing. I know Edward wanted to surprise Bella, if and when he decides to ask her to marry him, so maybe we could keep that one detail a secret for now?”
“Of course.” He nodded and stood, walking back toward the staircase. “And, Jasper?”
“Hmm?” I said.
“Thank you. For your honesty, for your trust and mostly, for loving Edward like I know you do.”
I smiled back at him and gave a small nod in acknowledgment. He turned and walked the rest of the way up the stairs, leaving me to fall into a not-so-comfortable slumber on the couch.