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Do You Ship Us? - 94. Rock Bottom

Ryan knocks on the door desperately, the whole trip over he had been anxious about whether Jasper would even open the door for him, but the moment he arrived he was determined to kick the door in if Jasper was too stubborn to acknowledge him. Not waiting patiently for a response, he lifts his hand to knock again just as Jasper opens it.

Woah, settle down.” Jasper flinches to avoid having Ryan accidentally smack him in the face. Ryan looks at him, frozen with surprise at how unrecognizably empty Jasper looked. The spark that was almost always in his eyes, whether he was flirting, scheming or messing around he always had that slightly mischievous glint in his eyes, it'd even been there after Blake died, manifesting through anger. Not today, today it was gone and he looked strangely absent. He'd also never seen him with stubble, in all the time Ryan had been with him, he'd rarely seen him more than slightly prickly. This wasn't how he presented himself usually, there was no effort or pride. Obviously self care was out the window. Jasper's hair was untidy, matted looking, and his clothes? What clothes? He was literally greeting someone at the door, in just his underwear and a silk dressing gown, wrapped around himself that he lets hang open casually as he sees who his visitor is.

"Jas..." Ryan could barely believe who he was looking at, how incredibly rapid Jasper had fallen to complete shit.

“You came here, why are you surprised to see me?” Jasper frowns and crosses his arms, barely able to look at Ryan either.

“I was just...” Ryan pauses again, looking Jasper up and down but trying to remind himself not to react too badly to his appearance. The way he looked, Ryan was very concerned about how bad Jasper must be feeling. Even so, Ryan finds himself stupidly asking anyway. “How are you?”

“Dandy. Surprised you came all the way here to ask, you could have saved yourself a trip and called an ambulance to check on me.” Jasper says sarcastically. Though his comment was laced with resentment, Ryan could see how sad Jasper was.

"I couldn't leave you in that state alone..." Ryan starts trying to explain but it was obvious Jasper wasn't interested in his explanation. "I'm sorry."

“Is that all? Because I’m not really in the mood for whatever this is that you’re here for.” Jasper rolls his eyes, kicking at the ground aimlessly.

“I have some more stuff here I had to get.” Ryan lies. Jasper pushes the door open wider to invite him in, but walks away from the door without another word. He lets the dressing gown fall from his shoulders, down his arms and he flings it carelessly onto the bench as he passes, it seemed he had only gotten 'dressed' to answer the door. Ryan walks in behind him, hating the feeling he got the moment he was inside what use to be their place, it felt so foreign already.

If depression had a smell, it'd be the combination of a stale room, masked poorly with scented sprays. The two distinct smells that were standing out above it all, were alcohol and weed. Neither of which should have been a surprise, but Ryan was filled with immediate disappointment. He'd hoped at the least, Jasper would have called on him before letting himself get this far down.

The bench was littered with empty bottles and his sink surprisingly empty though the bin was overflowing with paper plates and cup-a-noodles so clearly he wasn’t eating anything that required him to cook or clean up afterwards. Jasper had never been pedantically tidy, but he loved this place and always took pride in making sure it was at least presentable. Now it was as neglected as Jasper himself. Jasper slumps down on the couch and presses play on the show he was watching, no intention of speaking to Ryan at all apparently.

“Were you expecting me to help you pack?” He asks coldly, noticing Ryan was just standing there hesitantly.

“No, it’s not that.” Ryan’s face said enough, but Jasper didn’t seem to care at all about the disapproving way Ryan was eyeing the place. Ryan's eyes land on the joint Jasper is lighting up, also apparently not caring to just do that in front of Ryan.

“What? You take stuff for your bad times.” Jasper shrugs, catching Ryan's stare as he holds the joint in his mouth and lights it up, looking so casual about it, as though he'd been doing this for years.

“Yeah medication that my doctor prescri...”

“Fuck off.” Jasper rolls his eyes, turning back to the TV though he closes his eyes as he inhales deeply. Ryan watches, part of him wanting to walk over, snatch the joint from his lips and tell him not to be an idiot, but the other part of him understood he was using this to hide his pain. Even if it wasn't healthy.

“Have you been seeing anyone?” Ryan asks, on the track of thinking of healthier ways for Jasper to cope with his grief. Jasper looks at Ryan and laughs condescendingly. “I mean as in a therapist. You don’t have to tell me about anyone else, I just want to know you’re actually getting help.” Ryan clarifies quickly.

“It’s not your place to even ask, we’re not together. I’m literally not your problem to fix.” Jasper tells him, drawing in another breath, and popping his lips to let out little bursts of smoke to amuse himself.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t still care about you, you’re self medicating, it’s not good for you to do that. You can't just numb this away, you need to find a way to deal with it.” Ryan regretting coming over to see him, only because it was devastating to be this powerless in front of the person he loved beyond words. To see him acting like a complete stoner, lying on the couch in his underwear making a game out of smoking a joint. It was disheartening, it was deeply, deeply painful.

“I don’t know, this is the only way any part of my day even vaguely resembles feeling ‘good’.” Jasper shrugs. “If you don’t like it, get what you came for and piss off.” Jasper was so far from the person he'd spent the last year and a half falling in love with, planning a life with, making dreams come true with. And yet, Ryan recognized something in his behaviour that he could resonate with. The whole look, the whole attitude, it was quite simply depression driving him. Every moody response, every carelessly thrown thing in the apartment and every exhale of something he knew wasn't actually going to change how he felt about Blake's death. All of it, a white flag being waved in a fight against his mental health. Jasper wasn't controlling his life now, his shattered heart and his frustration and his weakness was, and it was taking him down as far as he'd let it. Ryan only hoped he couldn't fall lower than this, because it was already breaking him to see. With a deep breath, willing all of his strength to not abandon him now in the face of everything he'd hoped he wouldn't find locked away here, Ryan decides that he can handle this. That he wouldn't walk out of this apartment until he broke Jasper just enough, that he could get something through to him.

“You broke up with me and told me to leave, you’ve already pushed me away so you can drop this act. Is being a jerk helping you cope?” Ryan crosses his arms, hoping Jasper would at least soften if he knew Ryan was seeing through his act. Jasper holds his breath and closes his eyes before tilting his head back and slowly letting out the smoke he’d inhaled, deciding to ignore Ryan’s comment rather than respond, Ryan was right that he was being unnecessarily snappy as part of his act to push him away. “Are you getting it from Flynn?” He asks, gesturing at the joint Jasper is putting out on a saucer covered in ashes.

“Why the fuck would he talk to me?” Jasper scoffs. Ryan rubs his forehead and lets out a sigh, he’d expected seeing Jasper to be painful, but he didn’t expect this to be quite as devastating. “What exactly are you looking for?” Jasper asks, sitting up a little and giving a slight grunt as he does, his chest still a little tender. He was eyeing Ryan with a stare that felt very much like he was being trapped, baited to admit what his real intentions were. While Ryan tries to think of an answer that could pass for the truth, Jasper just gives a cocky smirk, finally a glimmer of the person Ryan knew, shining through the cracks. And it just had to be this side of him too. Of all the attitudes to prevail, the one that lived to challenge people, to call their bluff and push them to their limits and to show them he was always going to win. Ryan lost himself to that smirk so many times, and by the intensity of Jasper's eyes on him right now he could tell Jasper was thinking about that too. Ryan stays glued to his spot for long enough that Jasper just sinks back into the couch, with a sigh. Even with the tension and the longing for each other, nothing was going to make them think hooking up now would be a good idea. “Actually, it’s good that you’re here, because I’m going to put this place on the market soon, so this saves me having to get any obscure things of yours back to you down the track. Although I am yet to come across anything at all, so I’m not exactly sure what you think you’ve left here.” Jasper states very matter of fact, calling Ryan’s bluff on his reason for being here.

“You’re selling? Where are you going to live?” Ryan asks, no point defending his cover story, it'd been weak at best and they both knew it. From the moment he had opened the door, Jasper had known why Ryan was really here and still let him in so he was obviously open to talking, there was no reason to keep up the fâcade.

“Somewhere private where people won’t visit me.” Jasper says in a joking way, though his eyes go to Ryan again to make sure he got who it was being directed at.

“So you’re just going to go into hiding and drown out your sorrows?"

“Yes. That’s the plan. Do this but somewhere no one will turn up, lying about their intentions and pass judgement on me.” Jasper snaps back. Sitting up again to take out another joint.

“I’m not judging you I’m worried about you. It’s really difficult to see you like this and to know you won’t accept my help.” Ryan replies, unable to stand back anymore, he walks over and snatches the lighter from Jasper's hands before he can get it to the end of the joint.

“Oh I’m so sorry. I guess I should just get over it faster so that everyone else can move on too.” Jasper rolls his eyes, extending his hand for the lighter.

“That’s not what I’m saying and you know it! I support you needing your time, I support you going through this stage. I understand that you’re grieving and I’m not trying to rush you through it, I just want you to know you don’t have to go through this alone.”

“So I should just let you baby me through this so you feel better about it? I’m good thanks, I’d rather be alone right now.” Jasper fakes a smile at him, accepting defeat and throwing the joint back on the table.

“Blake wouldn’t want you going through this alone.” Ryan states.

“Don’t you fucking dare.” Jasper's mood turns harsh again, aggressive and defensive immediately. “Blake does not have a say in this, because he’s dead. So how dare you try to manipulate me by using his name. You have no right and on top of that, if you want me to live my life how he would have wanted, then I am already doing exactly that."

"You think he'd want you to be doing nothing with yourself but getting high? Because I really doubt that." Ryan corrects him.

"He’d want me to take care of myself, not worry about what anyone else wants or needs for me to be doing. I’m comfortable here at rock bottom, I’m sure as shit not going to drag myself out of it just because you don’t like seeing me like this. If this is too hard for you, then get your stuff and piss off. There’s a reason I didn’t want you around me while I’m like this.” Jasper admits as he turns his attention away from Ryan again as he feels tears starting to sting his eyes.

“I am not trying to manipulate you, I’m trying to remind you that he was always on your side defending your right to be supported through things. If you won’t let me support you then fine but turn to someone.” Ryan pleads.

“Like who?” Jasper snaps.

“Luke and Simon said they haven’t heard from you.” Ryan suggests.

“Yeah because they would give a shit about me." Jasper says sarcastically with a roll of his eyes. "We worked together, nothing more. The only times they ever cared about me, was when I was doing something they thought would damage the band. Now that they aren't part of the band anymore and my reputation has been slandered on every social media and in every magazine, what would they possibly want to do with me? I don’t want ‘thinking of you’ cards and pity from my ex co-workers." Jasper was so dejected, forcing himself to remain closed off and isolated in his suffering. Ryan could tell there was no way in this mood, he had any chance of getting Jasper to accept that he didn’t have to be alone in his grief.

“I may not have known him as long as you did, but I do know that Blake would be threatening to skin me alive if he knew you were hurting like this and I wasn’t doing everything in my power to be here for you. No matter what is happening with us.” Ryan walks over and sits on the edge of the coffee table in front of Jasper, who seemed to soften at what Ryan had said, knowing he was right.

“He would understand why I’m pushing you away.” Jasper sighs. “I have to take care of myself and I don’t do that well when I have other people I can focus on. I’ve pushed everyone away, so I can’t use anyone else as a distraction." He meant what he said, that he was better off not distracting himself. The problem was he wasn't dealing with it still, just like he'd never actually dealt with the trauma of being outed as gay before he was ready, like he had never actually dealt with whatever happened when his parents sent him to 'gay camp'. Both times he had been more worried about Ryan than himself and this was not so different, still worried about what he would be putting Ryan through if he had allowed him to stay and comfort him through his worst.

“And this isn't you distracting yourself?” Ryan asks. Jasper sighs again and looks away from Ryan, he seemed numb for a moment, looking down at his cast and tracing his finger over Blake's cockily scribed autograph. He was afraid of the cast being taken off, he was comforted by this, having a mark of Blake to hold onto. For a moment, Ryan thought Jasper was staying silent and waiting for him to leave, but he soon starts talking again.

“He was my family, when I didn’t have any family I could turn to. He was there for me at a time when I was sure I had no one and I let myself get so use to that comfort, the feeling that I had someone I could always rely on. He always had my back, made sure I was ok. I always felt safe with him, so now what am I supposed to do?” Jasper asks, though he didn’t want an answer. Ryan couldn't answer, because looking into Jasper's eyes all he could think was that he would be the exact same if he had lost Jasper for good. A small cheeky smile tugs at Jasper's lips before he starts speaking again. “Did I ever actually tell you about how Blake and I met?” He asks, it was the most genuine smile he'd seen on Jasper's face since before hearing the news of Blake's death.

“No, I assumed you met in the band.” Ryan admits with a shrug. "But I'd love to hear it." He encourages, not wanting the smile to ever leave Jasper's face again.

Kinda.” Jasper sighs happily to himself and sinks back into the couch, laying down and getting comfortable as he recalls the memory. “It was the day I got back from overseas, my parents didn’t even pick me up from the airport they were so ashamed of me. Even though they didn’t technically kick me out, I knew I wasn't going home. So I went straight to see Chris to beg him to sign me up under the label so I could start earning money and just make it on my own. I’d auditioned and been offered a contract but had gone away instead, so I felt like it was the best choice to sign up straight away when I got back. I turned up at the office, as I’m walking in with my suitcases and everything, I hear this music blaring and a car pulled up, this guy gets out, grabs out a guitar case and turns to me. His hair was gelled into spikes, blood red, he had a studded jacket on and ripped jeans and looked like a complete rockstar. He saw all my luggage and asked if he was in the wrong place, I was intimidated so I gave him a quick explanation about why I had my bags but he kept looking at his watch so I figured he didn’t want to hear my life story. He asked if I had an appointment, which I didn’t because I was just there to hope for the best, but he did and I told him he could go first. After he finished his audition, I went in and saw Chris, I ended up just signing a contract and being done within a few minutes, but when I came out he was waiting for me. He asked why I was so quick and I told him I just had to sign the contract, and he was like ‘woah shit, so you’re a legit musician?’ Then started quizzing me on my music taste, and being rightfully mortified that I had such a limited knowledge of what was actually good. I explained that my parents didn’t let me listen to secular music when I was growing up and were really against me being in the industry, which he took as me saying that I was rebelling against them to be a singer, and he told me that was really badass.” Jasper laughs to himself, a tear in his eyes as he thinks about it, the first time he'd heard Blake say what had soon become the running joke throughout their friendship.

“I can picture that being exactly how it went down.” Ryan smiles back at Jasper, relieved to hear him open up at least, and that he was starting with a positive memory too.

“That’s not even the good part. The good part was that he asked me if I would meet his brother when he came to pick him up, and tell him we were in a band together, because he had told Flynn that he was just coming in to sign paperwork and didn’t realize it was only an audition. I went along with it because Blake was the coolest person I had ever spoken to and I felt so lame in comparison. Plus he had just called me a badass so I felt like being a bit more rebellious.” Jasper laughs to himself as he recalls the moment. “So I went and met Flynn, told him I was Blake’s band mate and Blake tells him that I ran away from my religious family to be in a rock band and I shit you not Flynn laughed and said ‘damn that’s badass’. Then Blake asked Flynn if I could stay at their place, I didn't ask, he just knew I had nowhere else to go and offered me a place. I went back to theirs and the whole time they were asking me all about how I grew up, and my faith and oh they made the joke about me being their virgin sacrifice so that’s how that nickname came about. Then at some point Blake got a phone call and it was Chris, Flynn was out at the time, with a 'friend'. Blake was being rejected, but he asked Chris about being in a band rather than a solo artist, and he mentioned me, he started telling Chris that he and I knew each other and were friends that use to play in a band together. I just sat there really confused and he gets off the phone and turns to me and just goes 'so would you be cool with legit being in a band with me? Because I may have just talked Chris into us being in a band'. We both burst out laughing at the ridiculous situation and spent the rest of the night coming up with a backstory of our friendship.” Jasper laughs again and it's the most beautiful thing Ryan had seen in weeks. The glistening of the bittersweet tears in Jasper's eyes, the way his cheeks lifted up his face and the crinkle of smile wrinkles in the corners of his eyes and lips. Genuine happiness.

“No way! That can’t be real!” Ryan laughs in disbelief, Chris being manipulated into starting a band because of two scheming teenagers may just be the best twist in the whole saga of them challenging Chris together. He also adored the idea that Blake had taken him in, Blake had really been looking out for him right from the moment they met. He had no reason to have hung around waiting for a stranger, he could have just gone home, but he waited for Jasper and gave him somewhere to stay. Ryan had always appreciated the way Blake looked out for Jasper, but this gave him an even higher level of respect for the guy.

“You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.” Jasper grabs his phone and looks up the website of their band, going to the about section and handing it to Ryan.

The Obsolete began with Blake and Jasper, who auditioned independently by coincidence but upon running into each other, the duo decided to reunite the plans for a band that they had dreamed of before losing contact after graduating school. Luke and Simon were added after their independent auditions, to balance out the louder personalities.” Ryan reads, handing the phone back and shaking his head. Ryan couldn't imagine anything more fitting really. It made perfect sense, all of it. The way there had always been a separation between Jasper and Blake, to Luke and Simon. The way they always had each other's backs. It'd be them against the world from the start. “What was the backstory?” Ryan asks, loving that Jasper was letting him in on what was clearly a special memory. It meant a lot to him, that Jasper would share this with him.

“That I had seen him busking, which he use to do out the front of shopping centers, and we started bonding over music and hanging out, doing covers and writing music but because I wasn’t allowed to have a phone back then I just disappeared after graduating so we lost contact. We even did a bunch of spontaneous covers of songs that night and recorded them on his shitty old nokia phone so that we could show 'evidence' if we were asked. Just me and Blake jamming together, getting changed and doing our hair differently and doing another one, so it looked like we had known each other for ages. We spent the few weeks between then and out first actual day at the studio, going around and taking photos like we were long time best friends. We did a good job, convinced ourselves too. It felt like we went way back. Obviously our upbringings were wildly different but we had the same sense of humor, the same aspirations, I loved the music he always listened to and we bonded so much so fast it truly felt like we had known each other forever. It was so much fun really, living with him and Flynn. No rules in that household, we stayed up all night, ate whatever we felt like and spent so much time laughing and giving each other shit. I'd never been allowed to swear so for the first few days whenever I did they would mock me, so I learnt how to 'roast' people pretty fast in that household and we were just weirdly close and comfortable, really fast. It's wild to think it all came out of just a chance meeting. If my flight wasn't delayed I'd have been a solo artist working for Chris and Blake would have made his success some other way but he wouldn't have made a band with me and been my best friend because we wouldn't have met. Life works in mysterious ways, our paths crossed by luck and I'm so glad they did." Jasper sighs. Ryan was laughing at the thought of it. Two 19 year olds faking a friendship and literally bullshitting their way into the music industry and somehow becoming an international success and inseparable friends. No wonder Jasper felt like nothing without Blake. “Crazy hey? Luke and Simon don’t even know that Blake and I only knew each other for like a month before we met them. They bought the lie, they had to. We didn't trust them to not fuck it up and we didn't know what Chris was like then, but looking back, if he'd known we lied to him, we would have probably both been kicked out of the company. I regret putting up with a lot of his shit, but I don't regret all the good things that came with meeting that asshole. He introduced me to Blake, he introduced me to you. He was the worst, but he sure did give me all the things I needed to grow as a person, and all the people I needed to find the happiness I've taken for granted." Jasper gives a sigh again, feeling emotional once more as he thinks about how good his life had been just over a month ago. "It’s like Santa Clause though, you can’t tell anyone and ruin the story." Jasper winks at Ryan with a smile again. Ryan wished he could keep that smile on his face forever, keep the pain from ever returning and taking the happiness from his eyes.

“I won’t tell anyone.” Ryan promises. "Where are the photos and videos of you two being 'long time best friends' now?" He asks, he wanted to see them, to see if he could spot that they were strangers, selling a story. Knowing the way they were both so good at playing up their roles, he was interested to know if they were just naturally great at it, or it they developed that skill over time.

“Thanks. I hadn’t thought about it in forever but it’s one of my favourite old memories. I really don't remember where the photos and videos ended up. They probably died with that phone to be honest, haven't seen any of them in forever. I do sometimes forget that we completely faked our friendship to start the band. He stares up at the ceiling with a fond smile on his face, thinking about the shenanigans they had gotten up to.

“Maybe you should write about it? Help you remember everything forever.” Ryan suggests, he could see Jasper's emotions starting to change again, the happiness subsiding to make way for sadness. Their story was over now, all he could do was hold onto the memories he had, because he wouldn't be making any more of them.

“The real Blasper story.” Jasper muses as he meets Ryan’s eyes, his own filled with tears again. “Don’t worry about me ok? I know how it looks right now but its still fresh and I’m not ready to start moving forward. I am just taking my time in this stage. I know you care about me, but just let me do this my way, and my way is on my own. I will come out of this stage eventually but until then don’t worry about me. I promise I will be ok on my own and when I am out the other side I’ll reach out.”

“Fine but please reach out, I’m here for you no matter what it is.” Ryan sighs, he’d wanted so much more time than this but he didn’t want to push his luck and make Jasper feel forced to keep talking to him.

“No matter what, huh?” Jasper asks with a smirk. “That include 3am booty calls?” He jokes, Ryan smiles at the thought but before he could respond Jasper starts talking again. “Don’t worry I’m kidding.”

“Hey I called you when I was going to kill myself, so a booty call would be preferable to what I put you through.” Ryan replies, giving a shrug. He didn't truly mind what Jasper might call him for, he would be there for him.

“Mm, pretty sure a no strings attached hook-up would be a really good way to annihilate anything left that’s good between us, so trust me, I wouldn’t ruin that by making us meaningless.” The look in Jasper’s eyes as he spoke in past tense about him and Ryan, was heartbreaking. Jasper seemed to know that they were both thinking the same thing, and starts talking again, his tone soft and filled with regret. “I’m not the person you deserve. I’m so far from my best that I don’t even recognize myself and you’ve worked so hard on your own shit that I’d be holding you back. I am not happy, I’m not even close to being capable of loving myself right now, I know you think you could help but I can’t let you waste your life with me, when I don’t even know who I’m going to be when this pain stops feeling so constant. I would never forgive myself if I ruined the good time we had together, and I spend way too much time being so angry, that I’d lash out at you, I’d say things I don’t mean, I already have and I'm so sorry. You’re the last person I’d ever want to hurt and this is the only way I know how to make sure I can’t hurt you.” Jasper tells him, holding it together though his eyes were welling with tears.

“This hurts...” Ryan starts.

“Not more than it would to stay together while I’m the way I am. Not more than it would if I got to the other side of this hell only to find that I’d become so emotionally shut down that I didn’t love you anymore. I want to preserve things just the way they were, I don’t want to ruin it by having us end up resenting each other.” Ryan opens his mouth to reply but he couldn’t get his thoughts together enough to even know what he wanted to say. He was shattered but he had already assumed that Jasper was pushing him away just because he was grieving, and that they would get back together when Jasper was ready. Somehow despite having been in a dark place many times in his life, Ryan hadn’t considered that Jasper would emotionally shutdown. The fact he cared though, showed that he wasn’t shutting down as much as he maybe thought he was. Ryan takes a deep breath and turns to leave without another word, because he wanted to fight for them, but Jasper was not ready yet so there was no point pushing back on what he wanted.

As Ryan walks out, he hears the TV playing again, Jasper again using distraction to try and stop himself from doing what he really wanted, and telling Ryan to stay. With one more look into the apartment, Ryan closes the door behind himself and takes his phone out, sending a quick text to both Luke and Simon to let them know that Jasper was alive, but asking them to check in on him. Luke tries to call Ryan immediately but Ryan had someone else he needed to talk to so he dismisses it to make a phone call of his own.

“Ryan, how are you?” Grace answers quickly.

“Hey, I’ve just visited Jasper.” Ryan sighs.

“What do you mean you visited him?" Grace asks and Ryan realizes she didn't even know

“He didn't tell you? He broke up with me after the funeral." Ryan states and there is just a long bewildered silence on the other end of the phone. "I was just calling to check that you’re aware of how he is. He says he wants to be left alone but I’m worried about him.” Ryan explains. Grace is silent for another moment before letting out a sigh.

“Ryan, I am so sorry. I had no idea." She sighs.

"I gathered that. Probably best you act like you don't know until he tells you himself." Ryan sighs and rubs his forehead and chews his lips while he waits to be filled in on everything.

“How was he when you saw him?” Grace asks.

“He was smoking a joint while I was there. Didn't tell me where he's getting it from. I asked if it was Flynn but he shut that down pretty fast so I'm guessing it's Leo. What's going on with him and Flynn, is there a problem there?” Ryan asks, feeling anxious about her reply.

“No, no not on Flynn’s end. He’s been reaching out but Jasper thinks Flynn blames him for the accident or resents him for being the one that didn't die. Jasper’s shut him out completely, Flynn wants to be able to visit and make sure he's ok, but Jasper just won't accept that Flynn doesn't hate him.” Grace tells Ryan sadly. She was being torn between them. Ryan couldn't help but assume that a lot of good could probably come from Flynn and Jasper supporting each other. They were the ones with the heaviest loss and now knowing that Jasper had known Flynn as long as he'd known Blake, he felt really sorry for the fact Jasper wouldn't let him in at all. Jasper had just said that Blake was his family, but it sounded like Flynn was too.

“So is it just you that’s keeping an eye on him then?” Ryan asks, worried that Grace was carrying too much.

“Well...” Grace pauses leaving Ryan to feel as though his lungs were constricted so he couldn’t breathe while he waited for her to continue the answer. “Look, this isn’t going to sound good to you, but mum and dad have been taking him along to church lately and he seems to be finding comfort in that.” Grace’s answer was so unexpected that Ryan thought he’d misheard but his mind goes hazy as Grace keeps talking, explaining that they’d been stepping up and supporting Jasper. As she talks, Ryan leans his weight against the wall, feeling a wave of different emotions.

“Wait, hold on Grace. They aren’t taking advantage of the fact that he’s vulnerable right now, to try anything are they?” Ryan asks, he couldn't imagine Jasper, the guy he'd just seen throw off a dressing gown and lie on the couch in his underwear smoking a joint, going to church with his parents.

“Surprisingly no, they aren’t trying to force him into anything. They really do seem to be just be wanting to help him process what’s happened. They've really been a big part of our lives since the accident. Helping babysit Ellie to take the pressure off Flynn and I, and he's gone to church with them twice now, they are trying to improve their relationship with him. I think is was a reality check, that they could have lost him and how would they live with that after all the issues the last few years.” Grace answers. Ryan was relieved for a moment, but soon overcome with a feeling of complete loss, his heart aching as he tries to find the right words to be reasonable about this.

“Well if it’s helping, I’m so glad he’s got their support.” He says, Grace replies but Ryan wasn’t listening, too caught up in the thoughts that if Jasper and his family were finally sorting themselves out and reconnecting, there was no way he could come between them. He’d chosen Ryan over them once, but they weren’t trying to be a part of his life then. If his parents were trying to do the right thing now and support him, it felt like it’d be selfish to ruin that by hoping Jasper would find his way back into his arms. He felt like his heart was caving in as he finds the strength in his legs again to stand stronger and start walking away from Jasper’s door. He takes one last look up the hallway and takes a deep breath, he finally felt like this was the end. Ryan apologizes to Grace, asking her to let him know if they need anything, then hangs up the phone, leaving Jasper in the care of his family.

Claire Rosalind
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Great chapter. It seems like Jasper has finally reached rock bottom. He doesn't want Ryan's help at the moment, but he does appear to be getting help from his family.

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Now im worried about ryan... about what? I don't know... its just a feeling

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I'm worried about both of them.Ryan wants to be there but there things that happen where a person is never the same again there might come a time where Ryan has to be the one to move forward and I hope he has a support system if that happens.

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I don’t trust his parents at all. Grace is hardly a reliable source in this matter - she wants to believe their parents because she had a better relationship with them. If they still won’t accept Jasper as he is than how will their relationship improve once he’s on the other side of this? Will they go back to trying to turn him straight or just turn a blind eye?

My suspicion is he’s just doing this for Grace since we’ve seen that she and Ellie are the only ones he lets visit him. If church were actually helping *scoffs* we would see some kind of improvement by now but what he’s said to Ryan is the same as he was thinking in the beginning - just finally verbalized.

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It seems to me that Ryan's visit has accomplished something. Jasper told him the story of Blake and Jasper's meeting. This looks to me like a turning point. Jasper has now started verbalizing why Blake was important -- a key part of moving toward acceptance. Jasper will probably continue to cycle into anger and depression as the stages of grief are not as neat as a cursory look at the theory might suggest. Nevertheless, I take this as a hopeful sign.

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