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Do You Ship Us? - 93. Moving On?

“Married?” Jasper gawks. “You’re getting married? When?"

"Well we haven't set a date yet, but it will likely be soon. I know it seems like Flynn and I haven’t been together for that long. But it’s been over a year since we met and he’s made me feel so special and loved, and he treats Ellie like she’s his own, he has been acting like he's her dad so well I forget sometimes that he isn't." Grace continues rattling off Flynn’s good traits like Jasper needed any convincing that he was worthy of marrying his sister. He loved Grace and they were making this family thing work and that was all Jasper needed to know to approve of this guy marrying her. Flynn wasn't the problem at all.

“Listen. Not like I’m not happy for you. I just, the timing.” Jasper shakes his head confused, he couldn't imagine a worse moment for her and Flynn to start planning a wedding. It was so out of the blue

“I know. But I think. I think Flynn just wanted something good to look forward to, you know.” Grace sighs, sitting back and watching Ellie pull herself up on the coffee table, babbling happily to herself as she coasts along it towards Jasper who was sitting at the other end of the coffee table, holding her favourite teddy to entice her to walk over to him.

Yeah I guess.” Jasper shrugs. “Life is short as they say.”

“What about you and Ryan?” The name was heavy, it took Jasper's heart right from his chest and all the down to a pit of hell that all the good things in his life had disappeared to. He's thankful that Ellie makes it to him and snatches the teddy as Grace is asking, so he's able to distract his mind from all the thoughts that flooded into it as he heard the name he missed saying.

“What about us?” Jasper gets up from where he's sitting on the floor, walking over to the fridge and getting himself a bottle of 'water'. Having known Grace was coming around, he’d managed to make it until she’d actually arrived before starting to drink, and this was only because within 5 minutes of visiting she'd announced her engagement and unknowingly reminded him of his lack of.

“Well maybe it will help you guys as well. Have something else to focus on, you know?” Grace suggests obliviously, just the way Jasper liked it. Jasper hadn’t told anyone about himself and Ryan, truth was he had barely had a sober minute to think about it. The only person who knew was Leo, who Jasper had asked to come and pick him up from the hospital when he discharged himself hours after being taken involuntarily. Leo hadn't asked questions then, and he didn't ask questions when Jasper told him to call Ryan and help him get all of his shit out of his apartment. They hadn't seen each other since the panic attack, Jasper had gone down to the bar while Ryan packed and returned when Leo messaged to say the apartment was empty. Leo had earned himself a raise for his handling over the situation, discretion and respect for Jasper, even though he likely had some things to say after having had to listen to Ryan's side of things while they packed. Leo's unwavering loyalty was much appreciated, yet enabling him.

“No, I don’t think so.” Jasper shrugs and sips from his drink. To be honest he was a little bit disgusted himself, to hear that Blake's body had been in the ground for just over a week, and already his sister was thinking about marriage. Jasper couldn't think about anything other than how many fucking regrets he had and how much he wished he could change. A constant running commentary of how to do things better, going through his head only drowned out by the sweet release of intoxication. No one to interfere, no way to tell him he's being an idiot. If Blake were here, he'd have knocked sense into him by now, but that's just the thing. If Blake were here Jasper wouldn't be feeling so afraid of losing people he loved, to the point of pushing them away like this. "I'm not quite ready to just forget about it and move on, yet." He knew he was being a heartless dick, but he felt like that was his default attitude now.

“That’s not what we’re doing.” Grace replies horrified at how misinterpreted she was. He should feel bad, but he also knew Grace wouldn't take it too much to heart. It's not like anyone expected Jasper to greet them with a smile and be all sunshine and rainbows and if they did, well that was their problem. He wasn't putting on an act for anyone, this was where he was at and screw everyone else. His heart was so broken and all it craved was love but his brain wouldn't let him accept it from anyone. It was as though the more he loved someone, the harder he was making it for them to have any reason left to love him. A cruel inability to hold back his worst self around those that least deserved to cop it, just because he felt too vulnerable in the face of compassion and it terrified him.

“Look, Grace. I’m really happy that you and Flynn are in this place. I truly, truly am. I’m just so far from there. Honestly, the last thing on my mind is moving on.” Jasper groans as he stretches his arms up to the sky, pleased that he could stretch at least a little now, it was already 5 weeks since the accident, 4 weeks since Blake had died and 3 weeks since the funeral. Time was healing his bones, it was healing his bruises, but everything else felt like it was just decaying around him. No Blake, no Ryan, no reason to bother anymore.

It was easy to keep the break-up from Grace, he’d just tell her Ryan was at work or at the gym whenever she was visiting and she believed him. Of course his life had to keep going, so him being back at work was understandable. Jasper on the other hand had gone from a group of 4, to a duo to being completely on his own, so there was no pressure on him to get back to work any time soon, if ever. The thought of singing and performing without Blake felt blasphemous and he couldn’t imagine going back to it, carrying the weight of Blake’s absence on stage every night. Music without Blake was just noise, he hadn’t even been able to listen to any, let alone think about writing. No music, no reason to bother.

After successfully offending Grace enough that she was uncomfortable with him now, Jasper says goodbye to her and Ellie. Waving them off at the door with a fake smile. Though he’d still be a few weeks off the bones being fully repaired and wasn't as tender anymore, he wouldn't let anyone touch him. The last x-ray had shown that he was recovering beautifully and it’d only be another week before the cast could come off his arm, maybe two weeks before his ribs were healed enough that he didn’t have to be quite so wary of everything he was doing. What he could really use were Ryan's hands, massaging away the pain in his lower back, his shoulders and his neck. He'd lost count of the amount of times he'd woken up to find he'd been asleep on the couch, having passed out drunk again. Only days ago he'd woken up completely clothed still but soaked on the bed, apparently having been too wasted to take his clothes off for a shower and gone to bed without even attempting to take his wet clothes off or dry himself.

At least he had showered though. Not leaving the apartment gave him very little reason to think about his hygiene or appearance at all. He'd shower if he knew he was expecting company or for an appointment. It amounted to only 2-3 times a week though, and even that was mostly just standing under the water for a few minutes, drink in hand that he wouldn't put down to bother with soap. He also didn't care about this. He'd tried to remember of all the times he'd seen Ryan in one of his depressive episodes, there were times where he'd be 'too tired' to shower. Jasper hadn't judged him because he didn't understand being depressed enough, but now he got it. He got what being 'too tired' meant. It wasn't physical exhaustion, it was mental. The thought of doing anything felt like too much, so he'd just lie there, smoke another joint, have another drink and wallow in the fact he had nothing to live for, but had to keep living. An obligation to Grace and Ellie, an obligation to Ryan who would blame himself if Jasper took his life. Alive so no one else would be put through pain, instead he's left to suffer. An obligation to live, but not a will for it.

Once Grace is gone, Jasper locks the door behind her and goes into his bedroom, pulling out a joint from the bedside table and lighting it up. He draws in as much as he could with his still limited lung capacity, and holds it in his mouth for a few moments, lying down and exhaling slowly. This was the part of the day that he would always end up at, getting drunk or high, or both, then mentally going through the reasons why he resented everyone.

He understood Ryan was trying to do the right thing, but he was mortified to have been visited by paramedics, taken away, sedated and placed in a hospital bed. It'd brought back too many horrible feelings. The sheer PTSD of being out of control and in a hospital bed was a nightmare he'd never wanted to re-live, and in the midst of his absolute worst moment, Ryan sent him straight into the nightmare. He hadn't been able to bring himself to process that trauma yet. It was just too much. Everything was too much.

He draws in another deep breath, holding it until it hurt then letting it out, onto the next thought.

Had Luke and Simon not decided to quit the band, Jasper and Blake would have been having a band meeting instead of driving. No car, no accident. It was Luke and Simon’s fault Blake was dead. That was clearly unfair, they didn't deserve the blame, but the thought was still there and it had nowhere to go but circulate through Jasper's thoughts.

Another drag, another blow of smoke.

Then again, if Jasper was a real friend, a real proper attentive friend, he would have cared more about the headaches Blake was having while they were on tour. If he’d cared enough, if he just magically knew, maybe he could have had Blake visit a hospital and be assessed. Blake might have not had the seizure at all. It was all his fault, blood on Jasper’s hands.

And maybe the truck driver should have swerved sooner.

How long did it take paramedics to even get there?

Why did it take so long to get Blake out and to hospital, surely that could have been done faster?

Why wasn’t he just strong enough to push Blake aside and steer them in the other direction? Back to Jasper’s fault. It always came back to his fault. He was Blake's best friend, he went through it with him, he should have done more.

And the spiral is underway, rehashing every single plausible way things could have turned out differently while staring at his ceiling, joint in hand and not a single thing in the world he could do to change any of it

 

“Congratulations, Luke. He’s adorable.” Ryan smiles as Luke scrolls through photo after photo of his newborn sleeping. A completely enamored new parent.

“He’s a really good baby too, sleeps well. I mean 3-4 hours between feeds, but that’s pretty good as far as babies go, I’m told. And he’s already smiled at me, Fi is adamant it was just a gas smile but I will take it. He’s been cluster feeding at the moment so poor Fi is just exhausted constantly. Through the day he won’t let her put him down. She’s taking it all in her stride though, I am beyond impressed. I am absolutely in awe of her.” Luke gushes, he looked tired but so damn happy.

So what did you name him?” Simon asks.

“While Fluke is definitely going to stick as a nickname, we decided on Zak.” Luke replies, not taking his eyes off the photos on his phone.

“Can’t believe it, you’re a dad. First dad of the group.” Simon pats Luke’s back.

“I know. I can't believe how lucky we were that it happened for us. I can’t wait for them to get home, I have never felt such deep love, I never want to let them out of my sight.” Luke smiles then looks up at Ryan. “I sent Jasper a text but he didn’t reply.” He states.

"He's not exactly reaching out to people." Ryan fakes a smile and nods, he'd not heard from Jasper at all either, in fact he hadn't heard from anyone until this text came through about Zak's birth.

“How is he doing?” Simon asks, giving Ryan a pitying smile, he and Luke had talked a lot about the couple after the funeral, having seen the tension between them. Between Jasper leaving and Ryan leaving, he had assured the guys that he was doing alright and that he had nothing but understanding and compassion for what Jasper was going through. The last they had heard, Ryan was confident he at the very least, could withstand the pain of trying to support Jasper through his grief.

“I don’t know. He broke up with me.” Ryan's answer is very matter of fact. The only person he'd told was his mum and she'd been very comforting about it, stopping him from having his own panic attack every time he let himself think about Jasper crying alone in their apartment, while reminding him that he had done all he could do and would need to let Jasper come to him now. Ryan remembered what it was like, but god did it hurt to be on the receiving end of loving someone and having them shut you because they didn't want to burden you with their exhausting anguish.

“What the fuck? When did that happen?” Luke’s mouth drops open in shock, pocketing his phone to pay his full attention to Ryan now.

“I don’t really want to talk about it.” Ryan shakes his head. “We’re meant to be celebrating Zak’s birth.”

“Why though? Why did he break up with you?” Luke asks, not about to let Ryan deflect from himself right now. He already felt awfully selfish that they had been here for half an hour just looking at baby photos and he hadn't asked until now, about anyone else.

“He decided he didn’t want me around.”

“Ryan, seriously? Don't be stupid! I’m sure you know that he’s just pushing you away. What he needs right now is for you to be there with him.” Simon shakes his head at Ryan as though Ryan was a complete moron with no idea what he was doing. “Surely, you know that that’s not the right thing to do right now. He needs you.”

“You think I don’t know that? Thing is, we both know exactly what this is about. I know he’s just pushing me away and he knows he's just pushing me away and it's crushing me constantly that he has chosen to do this. But until he’s ready to actually talk and face this, there is nothing I can do. I've been him so many times, I never wanted him to be me. I know the best thing I can do for him right now is give him the space that he’s asking for.” Ryan wipes his hands over his face, remembering the despise and bitterness Jasper had had towards him when he’d dared try to reason with Jasper about breaking up. Jasper's walls were so high now, guarded with fear and rage and there was no way Ryan was getting through it. Not until Jasper had time to cool off and to accept that he needed help. If Jasper had any super power, it was the ability to avoid being vulnerable when it mattered most, this much had been true so many times before and Ryan wished he'd worked harder at it back then, so that Jasper could at least acknowledge his feelings now, but they never really crossed that bridge.

“Give him space? This is the worst possible time for you to be giving him any kind of space.” Simon argues. The thoughts of Jasper screaming at him to back off, leave him alone, get out of the house coming back to Ryan’s mind. It was easy for someone else to tell him what he should do, but they didn't know how bad it was.

“I’m sorry. Have you met Jasper?” Ryan scoffs, he’d been there for the whole fight, there was no one that could tell him he should have done more to stay. If they had seen it, they would understand why giving him space was the only option. The look in Jasper's eyes when he'd sent Ryan away, had not been a look to mess with. Ryan knew better than to keep pushing against the inevitable.

“I’ve known him longer than you have...” A pitiful attempt from Simon that even Luke rolls his eyes at but Ryan was furious at the implication that Simon was trying to make, that Ryan simply let Jasper go, as though he had just given up. Like it wasn't a daily battle with his mental health about whether or not to just go over there and force Jasper to let him stay. Simon had no idea, the struggle Ryan had to go through, reading back through his own journals of how he felt during panic attacks, getting advice from his mum while she cried at the memory of all the times she'd been in his shoes. Completely helpless, completely heart broken and having to just sit by and wait for it to pass because there was no way to get logic through to someone in that state. Ryan had a first hand understanding and perspective, he knew they didn't. But that didn't make it any more excusable to be saying such blatantly uneducated opinions about what he was or wasn't doing right.

“Are you seriously trying to say that you know him better than me? The person who was literally engaged to him.” Ryan snaps and Luke steps away, not even caring at this point if this turned into a full-blown fist fight, he was not getting involved. If Ryan threw a second punch, he might step in but the way Simon was going Luke wouldn’t stop Ryan throwing a first one.

“Yeah engaged, even though you knew he didn’t want that. You really never did get the hang of putting his needs above yours, did you? I did expect you to know him better. But apparently you don’t, if you think that abandoning him when he’s at his lowest is a smart idea.” Simon sneers.

“Again, have you met Jasper? I didn’t abandon him. The last thing I wanted to do was leave him right now, but forcing him to allow me to stay in his life would’ve just pushed him away more. You don’t win an argument with him at the best of times. Let alone when he’s at his lowest. There was no way I could have reasoned with him on this. He asked me to give him space, the best thing I can do is respect that.” Ryan answers infuriated.

“If you loved him...” Simon starts but is quickly interrupted.

“Do you have any idea how much it hurts to have someone break up with you, because they love you too much to put you through the suffering they are going through? How much it hurts to know that we did everything to make it through every problem just to have things fall apart over something we couldn’t control or change? He is broken. You saw him at the funeral, no tears, just anger. That’s what he was like from the moment we got home from the fucking hospital until the moment he screamed at me to get out of his house. I didn’t see him cry. We got through everything, we never thought we’d face this.” Ryan runs his fingers through his hair, clearly torn about what to do now, if he called or texted he wouldn’t get a reply, yet turning up at his house might make Jasper even more annoyed and the last thing he wanted to do was interrupt any improvement Jasper was making in coming to terms with Blake’s death.

“He’s not answering his phone.” Luke announces. While Ryan and Simon had been arguing he’d been in the corner trying to call. “If I’d known you guys broke up, I would have been keeping in contact with him, checking in. When did you break up? ‘Cause I haven’t heard from him since the funeral.” Luke admits looking guilty as he tries again to call Jasper, pacing as the phone goes straight to voicemail again.

“That night.” Ryan answers through gritted teeth. He'd thought at least someone would have checked in on him.

“Are you serious?” Simon starts to realize how bad this was, it wasn’t just a few days of no one hearing from him, or even trying to contact him.

“When was the last time you heard from him, Simon?” Ryan asks. Simon looks down guiltily too and shakes his head.

“Not since the funeral. Like Luke said. If I knew about you guys…” his words trail off as he realizes how pathetic his argument was after his spree of inappropriate remarks about Ryan’s lack of effort to take care of Jasper.

So no one has checked in on him in the last 3 weeks?” Ryan asks in an annoyed tone, though he was mostly just really worried. “And you have the nerve to criticize me. Talk about abandoning him.” Ryan scoffs.

“Well, we thought you were taking care of him.” Simon replies but Ryan casts him a glare that shuts him up before he can dig himself any further down the hole he’d been chipping away at since the start of the conversation.

“I guess this is what happens, this is exactly what you both set up when you would just send Blake to him every time he was going through something. You never stepped up and cared about him, you left it up to someone else and now he's lost the person he relied on, pushed away the only other person that would get it, and neither of you even thought to check because it was never up to you to give a shit before. I can’t believe this. 3 fucking weeks. You can't send a single text? Even if you thought I had it covered. You were meant to be his friends too, honestly this is disgraceful.” Ryan runs his hands over his face and turns away from the others, before he quickly turns back. “I’m going to have to go and check on him.” He declares as he turns away again, this time storming out of the room without another word, hoping that he would turn up and Jasper would at worst, open the door and slam it in his face, at best, actually talk to him.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Thing is...Ryan says Simon and Luke were supposed to be Jasper’s friends. “Supposed” being the the operative word. They may have worked closely with him, they never particularly liked him, did they? He was a co-worker - and we’ve seen how their personalities clashed from the beginning. They may have thought he was alright as a band member but they never hung out socially.
 

Both Simon and Luke have been kind of judgy of Jasper’s attitude, somewhat jealous of his ability to churn out pop songs that sell, and last but not least, possibly resentful that Jasper’s attitude is what got them out of their horrible contract with Chris. The attitude that they considered immature and petty. 
 

Knowing all this, is it really surprising they leaned on Jasper’s best friend to be their liaison? 
 

Generally, Simon’s concern sounds a little disingenuous.

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I'm really feeling for these two guys. I hope Jasper and get through his grief and get back with Ryan. For both their sanity. 

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Interesting chapter. It's seems ifcSimon and Luke never really saw Jasper as a friend, they always relied on Blake for everything. I hope Jasper and Ryan can get through this, they are good for each other.

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You are so right guys, I can’t say it better. 
I also thought it was strange that Simon and Luke did not come to the hospital. They are both superficial and selfish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everything Ryan said to Luke and Simon hit the Mark. Will they try to make some amends now?I wonder if they want to.

The next chapter promises to be even more tense

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