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Do You Ship Us? - 60. Falling Apart

Jasper wanders up the hallway, fumbling in his pockets for his key and cursing under his breath before attempting the door and realizing it was already unlocked. He walks in with a frown on his face, trying to remember if he’d locked it before he went out or not but soon notices that Ryan was the reason it was unlocked. His suitcase was sitting just beside the door and Ryan was pacing with his phone to his ear. Jasper takes a deep breath and continues inside, not sure what was about to come out of his mouth but mentally reminding himself of all the points that he had thought up that were worth talking about. The smell of tequila in the room was almost overwhelming as Jasper remembers the bottle, still half full that he’d spilt all over the bench and subsequently the floor which as he steps into the kitchen barefoot was obvious that his attempt at cleaning had been more smearing the alcohol. He grimaces at the sticky floor and lets out a heavy sigh which gains him Ryan’s attention.

“Oh my god you’re home. Where have you been?” Ryan shouts in a panicked tone, putting his phone down. “I’ve been calling you for ages.” He strides over to Jasper who cringes and rubs his forehead, ignoring Ryan and walking past him to get a bottle of water out of the cupboard. “Look, I get you’re mad at me but I am supposed to be getting on a flight in a couple of hours and...”

“Can you please not yell at me.” Jasper asks quietly, grabbing some pain killers and taking them quickly.

“I don’t mean to be yelling at you, but seriously, I’ve been so worried.” Ryan crosses his arms, taking a deep breath to calm himself down while watching Jasper with a sad expression.

“That’s nice of you.” Jasper says with a sarcastic tone, rolling his eyes and walking past Ryan again and heading towards the bedroom.

“I know you were upset about Damien but I was hoping we could at least sort this out before I leave. I don’t want to be away from you with this animosity between us.” Ryan starts following Jasper but stops as Jasper stops and turns back to Ryan, crossing his arms and looking at the floor.

“I’ve really tried to think about what to say to sort things out with you but I’m not sure I’m in the right mindset to fix things right now, because I am still just angry. And until I stop feeling angry, nothing good will come out of having this talk.” Jasper felt proud of himself for his calm composure as he delivered the speech he’d practiced the whole way home. Ryan however looked more worried than ever by the calmness, it was chilling how distant he felt from Jasper in this moment.

“I know that Damien showing up last night upset you…” Ryan starts talking but is quickly cut off again by Jasper scoffing loudly.

“Damien isn’t the one I’m upset at, actually.”

“No, I know you’re mad at me, but it’s because of him.”

“Sooner or later, you have to start taking responsibility for your own actions. You are the one who walked out of here last night to take care of your ex while I was here bawling my eyes out and questioning our relationship. You made that decision.” Jasper lectures, cringes at his own raised voice and wishing there was some way they could avoid this conversation, or that at least the pain killers would kick in faster.

“That’s what you’re mad about? Because you practically kicked me out, you told me to take care of him?” Ryan argues, trying to defend himself though Jasper was having none of it, shaking his head and scoffing as he turns away for only a second, knowing he was feeling more petty than reasonable at this point but his self-control was running out.

“Actually I’m pretty sure my exact words were ‘get rid of him’. I did not want you leaving with him.”

“Look no matter who he is to me and what he’s done I know what kind of person I am, and putting someone that is inebriated in a taxi and sending them off on their own is not the kind of person I am.”

“Good for you Ryan. Glad I’m the asshole in this.” Jasper rolls his eyes and turns around, considering walking away now before things got worse.

“I’m not saying that...” Ryan starts but the moment Jasper turns back at him, he’s silent.

“You could have called the police to take him.”

“Called the police to take home a drunk person?” Ryan frowns, Jasper stares at him confused that his suggestion was even being questioned. Jasper shakes his head and massages his forehead, he quickly takes a gulp of water though it does little to soothe the ache of dehydration.

“How did he find out where we live?” Jasper asks and Ryan is silent in thought, trying to work out the answer, his silence only adding to the infuriation Jasper felt rising in him. “He stalked us. Again. And what about that restraining order? I’m not saying call the police on a drunk guy I’m saying call the fucking police on your stalker ex that keeps turning up and interrupting our lives. He didn’t deserve to have you take him home, that’s what he wanted and you keep giving him what he wants. He deserves consequences for once in his life. I am sick and tired of this bullshit, I am sick of having you overlook all the bullshit he has done and letting him get between us. You could tell I was not happy last night and you still chose to make sure he was ok, over me.”

“Ok, I’m sorry that you felt that way but I was worried about you all night.” Ryan steps forward nervously, hoping that he could turn this around.

“While you were tucking him in bed?” Jasper asks, stepping backwards in time with Ryan’s step forward, to keep the distance between them.

“I got him into his place and left him on the couch and came straight back for you, but you weren’t here so if you’re going to start the conversation about being suspicious about what was happening, then imagine how I felt coming back here and waiting all night for you with no idea where you were and who with.” Ryan comments, seeing Jasper step away from him making him become defensive in desperation to get Jasper to see this from his perspective.

“I was at the bar down the road all night, and once they closed I did what sane drunk people do, and went to Macdonalds. Is that good enough for you? I wasn’t off cheating if that’s what you think, I was drinking at the bar by myself then eating nuggets to sober up. Amazingly I can actually leave the house, drunk and mad at you and still not end up cheating on you, which I am disgusted that you would have the nerve to imply.”

“I’m sorry that’s where my thoughts went when I got back here and spent the whole night calling you and waiting for you to come home. You seem to think that was what I was doing too…” Ryan again tries to move closer to Jasper by a few steps which go unnoticed as Jasper launches into his next rant with terrifying passion.

“Yeah because I don’t trust Damien, because last time you two were left alone together you did kiss him. I thought it could happen because you are unable to say no to him and he has no respect for our relationship. You don’t trust me when I disappear for a night because you couldn’t trust him whenever he did that to you. Ironically the reason both of us thought the other was cheating was because neither of us trust him. The difference is you were with the guy I don’t trust so I had a right to be concerned, you just don’t seem to get that Damien and I are different fucking people” Jasper snaps, furious to the point of feeling his head throbbing, but it wasn’t about to stop him saying his piece.

“I know you are it’s just...” Ryan stops as Jasper just raises his hand to cut him off.

“I’ve done nothing but prove that I have your back, even before we got together I was there for you against Chris, against gossip and reporters, against yourself. I have tried to tell you so many times that you are worth more than what he put you through and yet the first time I decide that fuck it, I want to go out and get drunk instead of wait around to have a reasonable conversation about my feelings, you act like I’m just discount Damien out fucking someone else to get back at you. Thanks for assuming I’ve got no pride, thanks for assuming that I’m just as bad as someone who used to cheat on you to keep you feeling worthless. I’m so glad that all my actions, all my words and all the time we’ve spent together just gets thrown out the window because no matter what, you’re so quick to forget that I’m not HIM.” Jasper runs his fingers through his hair and rubs his temples trying to relieve the pain of the incoming hangover that was being amplified by the anger he felt.

“I promise you I don’t mean think that of you.” Ryan looked shattered to realize that Jasper was so hurt by his assumption. “Just. Just tell me how to make this right. I will do anything to make this up to you.” He pleads, in his head he could fix this by wrapping his arms around Jasper and just telling him he was sorry, but Jasper did not look even close to ready to kiss and make up. He had his arms firmly crossed, almost as though he was holding himself back, the way he was looking at Ryan felt like it was putting crushing weight on Ryan’s shoulders and his jaw was tight with tension. There was no sign of weakness or that he.was going to bacl down any time soon and Ryan was regretting even trying to defend himself because he was ready to say whatever he needed to, to defuse the bomb he had set off the moment he took Damien home.

“How about you listen to me for once because I have listened to all of your insecurities and your confusing anxieties and I’ve supported you through all your lowest points of depression and I’ve asked for nothing in return but for you to not let your ex get between us and every single time he has, you’ve made out like it is out of your hands. I get that he’s mentally fucked with you to the point where drawing a line with him is hard, but I am drawing a line here and now. He has to be out of your life completely, or I will be because now it is starting to fuck with me and I cannot stand the person I am becoming because of him. I hate him and I hate the fact that I am questioning my own worth to you because of his constant involvement in your life. I am not a second fucking choice and I am done letting my feelings slide because I care so much about how it will effect you because caring about you more than myself has been detrimental to me and I’ve started to become a second hand victim of his behaviour. I’m not going to let that go on any longer, I’ve got to take care of myself.” Jasper's words, though cold towards Ryan, were surprisingly calm compared to moment ago but it didn’t bring relief like Ryan hoped, instead he now felt as though Jasper simply didn’t see a reason to continue anymore. For what feels like ages, Jasper and Ryan stand in suffocating silence, until Ryan finally gets the guts to ask what he was afraid to find out.

“So that’s it, you’re breaking up with me?” He states in a defeated tone, eyes going from the floor, to meet Jasper's steady gaze. Jasper just crosses his arms and looks up at the ceiling to avoid crying. “Jasper please, don’t do this.” Ryan walks over to him and places his hands on Jasper’s shoulders.

“Don’t try and guilt me Ryan I’m already feeling like shit about this.” Jasper shrugs his hands off him then turns and walks away a few steps, putting his hands over his face and taking deep breaths. “Look, I spent the whole night drinking and now I’m tired, full of alcohol and I have not had time to actually figure out how I feel about things so no, this isn’t us breaking up. I’m not going to make that kind of decision when I know my mental state is a mess. But I think It's best if we take a break from each other. Not to be with other people, but to be on our own and learn who we truly are and what we truly want. You need to focus on your dancing career and I need to focus on my music and when you get back we can talk about whether being together is actually what is best for both of us.” Jasper couldn’t look Ryan in the eyes as he spoke, each word came out just as he’d practiced in his head with only a few cracks in his voice as he attempted to say it with enough strength that Ryan would know he was being serious.

“I can cancel my flight and get one later today, tomorrow morning. I can make time to sort this out.” Ryan tells him desperately.

“You are not hearing me, I don’t want to sort things out right now.” Jasper rolls his eyes and turns away from Ryan, walking off to his bedroom, Ryan following quickly.

“Please don't send me away without…”

“For fuck sake Ryan!” Jasper spins around and glares at his boyfriend. “I don't want to talk about it right now. If you insist on an answer before you go, then you won’t like the answer I will give you. Leave me alone and when I feel like it, then I will talk but right now is not the time and I do not feel like being any more rational than I have already been. I told you I am not in the right mindset and if you don’t respect that then this relationship isn’t worth even talking about.” His sudden calmness sending a cold pang of anguish to rush through Ryan’s body. He felt like there was no good way to go about this, there was no way to win and only a minefield of ways to completely screw up the tiny chance he had that maybe with space, they might be able to work on this. As Ryan comes to accept his only option, he stares at Jasper in silence. His mind rushing as he tries to come to a conclusion about what would help right now, what to even say in response, only to let out a shaky breath and look down at his feet again.

“Ok.” He nods in defeat. “I’ll give you whatever space you need. Just, please call me when you are ready. I’ll be waiting, I’m desperate to make things better here and it’s going to kill me waiting but, if that’s what you need, then I owe you that. I need you to know, I love you and I believe what we have is worth fighting for. I am so sorry about Damien and I am so sorry that this has hurt you so much. I really hope you don’t give up on us.” He looks back up at Jasper who was the one looking at the ground now, only moving his eyes to look at his watch.

“You better go, or you’ll miss your flight.” He mutters, turning to the bed and climbing on it, his back turned to Ryan to show he had no more to say to him. Ryan watches him for a moment then turns and walks out, feeling like he was leaving behind his heart because every step away felt like he was becoming a mindless shell of a person. He would have no hope getting through this if he was able to feel anything, so as he leaves Jasper’s set of house keys on the bench, collects his suitcase and heads out the door, he takes a deep breath and tells himself to leave his problems at home. There was not going to be anything to gain from taking the shitstorm of emotions with him, so as he enters the lift he decides all he would do while he waited for a phone call from Jasper, was to dedicate himself completely to the show and his dance partner in a hopeful attempt to be completely distracted.



“Are you drunk at 10am?” Blake asks, sauntering in like he owned the place.

“What are you doing here?” Jasper turns around and wipes tears from his cheeks.

“Ryan gave me his key last night, since he’s away he figured you might like the company. Are you ok?” Blake drops his keys on the bench and goes straight over to Jasper, a concerned frown on his face as he eyes his best friend’s tear stricken cheeks.

“Not at all, thanks for asking.” Jasper shrugs, sniffling and covering his face with his hands. He had not been ready to face anyone, let alone Blake, who he couldn’t just bullshit some excuse to.

“He’ll be back before you know it. How was the big night?” Blake asks, intending on distracting Jasper from what he assumed was sadness from Ryan leaving.

“Oh. It was, yeah. Absolutely life altering.” Jasper sighs as he slowly drags his hands down his face, looking around for his water bottle that he’d some time ago thrown across the lounge room in what was a cathartic outburst of frustration at the time, but in the long scheme of things had only become an inconvenience.

“Wow, that good huh?” Blake smirks.

“No, that bad.” Jasper turns around to Blake. “I say life altering as in, I've been drunk for like 12 hours straight and listening to break up songs. While I try to justify whether breaking up is a reasonable response to Ryan taking his drunk as fuck ex home after he let himself into our place, after stalking us to find out where we live in the first place! Claiming Ryan didn’t break up with him so our whole relationship was Ryan cheating on him. So should I break up with him? You said you would be able to be my voice of reason so please. Please help me make this decision.” Jasper breaks down while he pleads, Blake stares at him in absolute disbelief and though his first feeling about it was pure anger that his friend had been hurt, he reigns it in because Jasper was clearly needing comfort.

“Um, that’s. That’s a lot to unpack. I’m so sorry that he’s put you through that shit, again. I don’t really know how you should move forward from here because honestly I would have tapped out the first time this guy turned up and Ryan took his side.” Blake shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair with an exasperated sigh as he tries to think reasonably about what to suggest Jasper do. Jasper just spins around in a circle, looking up at his ceiling thoughtfully.

“I guess I forgive that he is a good person, and I do get why he took Damien home, like I wanted him to just throw him out on his ass and leave him passed out in the hallway because I’m petty and that’s what I think he deserved. Actually no, I wanted Ryan to call the cops on the stalker and have him spend the night in jail because then, maybe then, he would learn to leave us the fuck alone. I get being considerate and thoughtful but I just can’t help the fear that I have associated with that whole mess of a relationship. It’s taken me until last night to realize it’s not jealousy or hatred or pettiness I feel about Damien in general, it is legitimately FEAR. I mean, when I am worried about something, I get mad and lash out, I just got so good at convincing myself it’s not that way that it took me so long to realize. Like how many times did I hit you for scaring me when we lived together? I don’t do ‘afraid’ I do ‘how dare you scare me’.” Jasper looks back towards Blake, swaying a little from dizziness and from the alcohol that was making his whole body feel like it was turning into jelly. Blake fakes a smile at Jasper, he hadn’t considered that point before but it all made so much sense, all the anger he felt towards Chris was out of a fear that their careers were being damaged or destroyed, that his reputation was being threatened. Everyone had judged him on being so annoyed by little things but it made sense and Blake felt disappointed in himself for not knowing better, that his friend he was worried about all these things and needed more reassurance instead of always just being told to calm down and get over it.

“I just thought you were a try hard badass.” Blake jokes, getting Jasper some water and walking over to him. Jasper groans at the sight of the water and sinks onto the couch in disgust, sitting on the water bottle he’d been looking for earlier, his head falling into his hands. “You know, I get the feeling you are so busy supporting Ryan’s mental health and emotional needs and reassuring him and he’s seeing you as the rock, right? You’re putting your energy into keeping him from his lows, and yet in the meantime, you’re slipping and thinking you have no one to be honest to.” Blake suggests. Jasper starts crying, confirming what Blake thought. Blake puts his arm around Jasper and gives him a comforting squeeze. “So lets pretend that there’s no heartbreak, and no emotional rollercoaster between now and you being single. Would you be happier, to not be dating Ryan, if it didn’t have to hurt to get to the stage where you are happy again?” Blake asks. Jasper looks up and sighs, wiping away his tears and sniffling back more. He’s silent for a few moments, takes a sip of water and shakes his head.

“I don’t know. But if I imagine a relationship with Ryan, where Damien doesn’t exist, I know we wouldn’t have the lows we’ve had. I wouldn’t feel the insecurity I feel.” Jasper answers sadly.

“Ok, so we’ll just get a time machine, go back to Damien’s conception and give his Dad some slightly off food so instead of impregnating anyone he spends that night throwing up his soul. Then Damien doesn’t exist and you and Ryan would be skipping off into the sunset together?” Blake shrugs. Jasper laughs at the suggestion, knowing if time travel was a thing Blake would absolutely have done this to many people he didn’t like. “Is he the biggest problem you guys have?” Blake asks.

“Yeah, I think so. I mean we do have other things to work on, obviously. But I do believe we can work anything out to be together, anything. But then Damien is brought up in conversation or turns up unannounced and I’m back to being afraid that I’m going to end up being the in between guy. The one Ryan finds strength with, and Damien sorts his shit out because of and then they are going to end up back together while I’m left here wondering if I was some kind of therapeutic experience they both needed to work out how to make things good between the two of them. I mean the whole time after they left last night, I was thinking about whether they were getting back together or just hooking up or something. I know Ryan loves me and I don’t want to think that he’d cheat on me, but, when it comes to Damien? It kinda seems like he will just give in to him. I am just really over this. I am over Damien getting between us and I am over wondering about Ryan. It shouldn’t be that hard.” Jasper gives a long, dramatic sigh. “I think I’m just gonna swear off relationships because I don’t need an emotional fuck around. Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m not made to be a boyfriend. Maybe I expect too much, I mean it’s not my right to tell someone else who they can and can’t be in contact with, if he wants to keep Damien in his life that’s his choice right? Even if it’s a bad one. That’s why I don’t think I’d be able to be a parent, watching a kid make stupid choices and accepting it’s their life and their choice wouldn’t be fantastic. Maybe, am I too controlling for a relationship, is that the problem?” Jasper’s confused rambling wasn’t helping him come to any conclusions, but it was concerning to Blake how much Jasper was putting blame back on himself about this issue.

“I’m thinking maybe you shouldn’t drink on your own, I’m a little worried about you.” Blake admits.

“Honestly, I decided to finish off the alcohol in the house and not buy any more. But please keep me accountable. You’re not meant to get a drinking problem when you get a boyfriend.”

“It’s not the best sign.” Blake sighs. “You know I’m always just a call away, and I’d rather sit here while you sob about your relationship problems, than know you’re over here dealing with it alone. You can be the angsty badass to anyone else, but if you need to get real and talk about stuff, I won’t judge you. I get being angry and wanting to throw things and scream into the abyss, but it’s just as badass to cry when things are too much.”

“You’d have thought you’d be a therapist.” Jasper laughs to himself.

“Hey if you need someone who gets it, pick a self-proclaimed, honorary emo. We’re more in touch with our feelings than you’d expect. I’ll be just as pissed as you are about your problems, am not afraid to get into a fight on your behalf and am guaranteed to have your back. Rain, hail or homicide.” Blake nudges Jasper.

“You’re going to use my emotional vulnerability to convert me into your cult aren’t you?” Jasper jokes.

“Well part of your indoctrination is to have a drinking problem and a saviour complex while sucking at taking care of yourself so there’s no ‘converting’ needed here, my job is to show you how to let out the feelings in a way that will make pre-teens turn their music up and nod along as they think, ‘this is so deep, this dude gets exactly how I feel’.”

“Sure, sign me up. If I can get a song out of this shitty feeling at least I’m making progress right? Because I’ve not been able to write even a bar of music that didn’t feel forced in months so my music career is going downhill too. My career, my relationship, my sanity, it’s all falling apart anyway, I literally have nothing left to lose.”

“Except you’re virginity.” Blake couldn’t help himself, the joke was out of his mouth before he could consider whether it’d be funny or not.

“Fuck you.” Jasper pushes him away. “Oooh I should be a fuck boy, right? How do you do that? It’s when you get feelings for someone that it ruins all the fun so maybe I need to not do the having feelings part. Or I could be abstinent for life, that’d make my parents real proud.” Jasper looks back at Blake and sighs. “Or maybe I should drink some water and go to bed.”

“Yeah look, I think pretty much everyone at some point, thinks that they should just be casual forever after shit goes down in a relationship. But I really don’t think that is your style.”

“I just want to have fun with the person I am with. I don’t want drama and exes and bullshit. I guess this next few months will be refreshing though, if I get through the next few months on my own, maybe I’ll feel better about being on my own when he does get back.” Jasper groans and rubs his head. “I’m going to have such a bad hangover. I was going to avoid it by just staying drunk but I guess I have to keep having a life and stop this self pity party.” He complains then gets up. “Ok, I’m going to go to bed. I’ve dragged this out long enough.”

“Good idea, I’m going to hang out here while you sleep to make sure you don’t throw up and drown in your own vomit.”

“You’re a true friend.” Jasper nods, stumbling his way to his bedroom.

Claire Rosalind
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Well, it’s hard to judge Ryan when this is all from Jasper’s perspective yet I can’t help seeing Ryan as a little manipulative. I mean I know he’s got real depression and insecurities yet part of me feels like he uses that as a crutch to justify his actions. He seemed like he was trying to use his issues as well as pity in order to get Jasper to forgive him. Jasper in my mind has every right to be angry at the way Ryan always lets Damien get away with his crap and seems unable to tell him no. I know this “talk” and subsequent break seems harsh yet it feels necessary. I hate to sound like a hallmark card but if it’s meant to be this will only strengthen their relationship going forward. 

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