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Do You Ship Us? - 97. Point of No Return

Jasper looks at them both confused, his brain trying desperately to comprehend what he was seeing. He was trying to convince him there was some good explanation for this but the surge of hurt that felt like it was climbing it's way up, making him sick to the stomach first, then his lungs were being constricted and soon his heart was too. There's a lump in his throat and it's almost reaching his tear ducts but he shakes his head, refusing to let himself cry in front of Ryan and his new whoever this guy was to him.

"Jas.." Ryan frowns at him. The guy beside him looks between the two uncomfortably, and Jasper decides he's done enough damage for one night. He may have ruined his own life tonight but he wasn't about to do that to Ryan.

“Don’t worry about it. Lovely to meet you, be good to him.” Jasper gives Ryan's new companion a kind smile despite mentally trying to erase him from existence, before turning around only to find that while he'd been distracted by this nightmare situation, Leo had driven off, not allowing him to escape this hell he was in now. So frantic, shoe-less, nauseated and on the verge of tears, Jasper was stranded and to make matters worse, he'd left his phone in the car too, so he couldn't even call for help. The only thing left to do, was run.

“Brayden, can you give us a minute?” Ryan asks calmly despite the fact Jasper was already halfway down the footpath. He wasn't in a rush to follow Jasper, not really. He knew he wouldn't get too far away.

"What about your mum?" Brayden asks quickly.

"I'll let her know." Ryan sighs, sounding tired as he continued talking quietly to Brayden. "It's complicated, just give me time." For Ryan to describe him as being 'complicated' felt very telling of how Ryan felt facing him now. Just a complicated part of his past, just another Damien. Jasper felt so bad that he was the new problem for Ryan to deal with, he deserved better than to have another recurring nightmare ex. He wanted to get out of here, the last thing he wanted to do was get in the way of Ryan having the life he deserved. But without Leo here to rescue him, his mind is racing as he tries to work out how to stop being an inconvenience on Ryan right now. If he could just combust right now, that would be ideal because he didn't know if he could face this situation at all. Not even the tiniest bit of him was ready to deal with actually closing the door on his life with Ryan, especially right now when it felt like he'd just found the key to let himself back in that door. This new guy that Jasper immediately wanted to never have to see ever again, Brayden, steps around Ryan to disappear back into the house without any further argument, only muttering his concerns about this change in their plans.

"No, no it's fine." Jasper insists. He'd been the one to tell Ryan to move on, he had literally asked him to do this, to be happy and to give up on them. And it's not like Jasper hadn't just done a much less classy version of moving on, with a complete stranger, so he had no right to be upset, literally no right. But he was, he was shattered to his core at the thought of having to let go of Ryan too when he was only just starting to let go of Blake.

“Jasper, wait.” Ryan sighs, heading out the door and down the footpath after him very calmly.

“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here.” Jasper was clearly confused about what to do, turning to walk down the street, then turning back around to walk in the other direction but bumping directly into Ryan instead. “Sorry.” He starts sobbing and drops to the pavement, realizing for the second time tonight he is lost and having to face the mistakes he's made. In his heart he wanted Ryan to have happiness, but in reality he wasn't ready to deal with it actually happening with someone else. Even when he'd insisted that it was the end for them, that Ryan had to find someone else, that there was no hope and no future, he still didn't quite believe that they wouldn't somehow find their way back to one another one day in the distance. He had thought maybe it'd be years before they had another chance, he hadn't thought he might be wanting that chance again so soon after pushing him away and that Ryan would find someone else so fast. For a brief moment he tries to force a positive out of the situation, with 'at least it isn't Damien' popping in his head, but at least if it were Damien, Jasper had a chance to win Ryan back.

"You came here for a reason, so talk to me." Ryan orders, apparently Leo wasn't the only one taking the stern approach with him tonight. Unlike Leo though, Ryan was trying to hide his empathy, not his frustration. It was strong of Ryan, to be guarded and not put himself out to be hurt again. At least Jasper had taught Ryan how to stay strong and not just cave in at the sight of someone he use to love. If only he had been able to be like this towards Damien all those times. Ironic that it's Jasper's behaviour he is finally able to stand up to.

"Which way did Leo go, did you see?" Jasper asks as he gets up, willing himself to be that strong. He tries to wipe the tears away fast enough to actually see where he is but it's all just a blur. "I'm so sorry. I'll go. I'll. Do you know which way it is to our... uh my place?" Jasper turns and starts walking again, not sure where he was going but needing to get a million light years away.

"You're not going walking around the streets. I can take you home if you like?" Ryan offers gently, following Jasper, afraid of letting him go off on his own in this state. Take him home, more irony that Leo had said that before driving Jasper here, his home, wherever Ryan was. Now Ryan was offering to take him to their place and Jasper knew two things about that idea. The first being that if he let Ryan take him home, he'd want Ryan to take advantage of the opportunity to try and convince him to come back. And the second being that he felt just as lost in that place as he did on a dark street in the middle of the night. It wasn't his home, it was the box he locked himself in ti keep things like this whole night, from happening.

"No it's not your problem. I'm not your problem. Please, just. I'll be fine, you go back and enjoy your night." Jasper replies as he turns again to face Ryan, this time he lets himself take in how Ryan looked. He had been too stunned earlier to really look, but now he didn't want to take his eyes off him. Ryan was dressed a nice balance of casual and formal, he looked like he wanted to make a good impression. Ready to take his date out. Jasper falls again to the ground, his knees simply buckling, he was completely overwhelmed by the night.

“Hey, come here.” Ryan crouches beside him, pulling him in for a hug. “Talk to me. What’s going on?” Ryan asks tenderly and it only makes Jasper hate himself as he draws the comparison to the night Damien turned up at their place, drunk and disorderly. Wanting a second chance regardless of how little he deserved it and how clear it was Ryan was better off without him. He hates himself so deeply for putting Ryan through it again.

“No, I’m fine. I’m just really drunk.” Jasper didn't actually feel at all drunk anymore, in many ways this night had been excruciating sobering. He was seeing things for what they were for once, his life was spiralling out of control, he was self destructing and it was ok until he'd been forced to face Blake's reality. He had thrown away everything in an attempt to make sure Blake knew he wasn't just moving on and hadn't lost a huge chunk of his life. He didn't want to be happy without Blake, he'd felt like he owed him misery. To feel the pain forever, as deeply as he could, in honour of Blake, but that wasn't honouring Blake at all, because he'd never ever want Jasper to be broken. He would understand him needing time, but not every minute of every hour of everyday. Not anymore. Jasper wipes his tears and tries to stand up, stumbling a little, more from exhaustion then anything else, but luckily Ryan gets up with Jasper so he's still holding him for balance. "It's all good." Jasper sighs, pulling away from Ryan.

“You know you don’t have to pretend with me, you’re clearly not ‘all good’.” Ryan rubs Jasper’s back to comfort him.

"I have to be, there's no other options." Jasper mutters. It may have been the most honest Jasper had been about how he was 'coping' with his pain. That he wasn't accepting it, he was just refusing to allow himself to actually reach that stage. It felt too soon to let go, and yet every single day felt like it dragged on so long that he could easily think Blake had been gone for so much longer. But this was what he did with everything, said he was ok and gone on trying to convince himself he really was. Ryan watches as Jasper's breathing starts getting short and rapid again, his crying uncontrollable as he tries to let that pain out, fighting against every brick that held up the wall he had to stop him crumbling in front of Ryan.

"Breathe with me." Ryan sounded like he was asking, probably worried about having Jasper flip out on him like he had last time he had a panic attack. But as Ryan gently takes and places Jasper's hand on his chest and holds his gaze, Jasper simply stares back at him trying to calm himself, feeling Ryan inhale slowly and forcing himself to copy, with each exhale Jasper pictures writing in the sand as the tide is coming in, breathing out being the waves that washed it away, leaving a clean slate. They are silent, other than the shaky breaths from Jasper and the heavy exhales from Ryan. Soon Jasper was breathing regularly again, able to dry his tear stricken eyes but unable to put aside the guilt he was feeling. There's a peaceful calmness between them as Jasper slowly pulls his hand back from Ryan's chest, hugging his legs in for comfort instead.

"Jas." One thing Jasper had never really acknowledged out loud, was how much his heart seemed to cling to Ryan calling him that. It was the gentle passion and affection in it, that made it feel like more than just a nickname, Ryan and Blake were the only two people in his life that ever called him that. It just felt loving and soft, it felt safe. "You know Blake wouldn't have wanted this for you." Ryan sighs.

"Yeah well I didn't want him to die but we can't always choose what people do." Jasper replies, sinking again the the gutter, feeling every bit as trash as he had expected. Ryan sits down beside him, nudging his shoulder gently.

"You're right, you can't choose what people do, and you can't choose when or how someone dies. But in comparison, Blake didn't choose for his life to end, but you get a choice. You get to choose how you live, you are the only one that gets to choose how you live. You can keep masking your problems, or you can choose to live the life Blake would want you to have." Ryan suggests. Jasper is silent as he considers it, thanks to the forceful push from Leo and Ryan saying the exact same thing now, Jasper knew that he couldn't go back to hiding his problems behind a substance. The only option, was to accept it and let it hurt. Let the pain out of his system and learn to live again. But he's still not convinced he can and he thinks he may never be fully convinced, that he can have happiness without Blake. Of course Blake would want him to, he knew that but how was he meant to be happy with such a hole in his heart.

“Sometimes. I catch myself feeling ok, like there's these moments where I just, forget that I'm meant to be miserable and then I hate myself for being fine.” Jasper admits, looking deep into Ryan’s eyes. He wanted to lose himself in them, to see what was going on in his head right now. Anyway don’t worry it’s not your problem, sorry to disturb you, I hope I haven't ruined your night. You deserve to be happy.” Jasper tells him, feeling completely pathetic.

“Why did you come here if you don’t want me to help you?” Ryan asks letting frustration slip from him again. He had every right to be mad, though he knew Jasper couldn't help how he was handling this loss. It just took him back to nights loosing sleep worrying about Damien who would rock up at his place high or drunk and unable to see any logic or be comforted in any way. He never wanted to go through that with someone again, least of all with Jasper.

“Well not to interrupt your evening. I didn’t realize you had someone over and I don’t want to get in the way of that because you deserve happiness, so much. You deserve it. You don’t deserve my drunk ass on your doorstep having a meltdown. This is exactly why I broke up with you, so that you could have all of that, without having any of this.” Jasper says gesturing to himself, the epitome of an unworthy mess as far as Jasper was concerned. He expected a response from Ryan and was maybe fishing for reassurance a little, but gets none. Instead after an uncomfortable silence Jasper glances at Ryan to see him looking up into the night sky, deep in thought. Jasper follows his eye-line and feels a breeze pass over his face that was peaceful, a full moon and a scattering of bright stars shining down on him, beauty in the darkness. Maybe there was something he could take from that, he considers.

“I really wish you didn’t push me away." Ryan speaks eventually, and his shoulders sink a little lower. "You have no idea how much I want to make this better for you, and how much it destroys me to see you thinking of yourself like you're unworthy of happiness and love." Ryan looks at Jasper and there's a longing in the way their eyes meet, but Ryan forces himself to look away again. "This is absolutely the time when you are the most worthy, the most deserving." Ryan sighs, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, he looks into Jasper's eyes again with a controlled reluctance, like he wanted more than anything to kiss him but knew he couldn't. That ship had sailed. Still, the feeling between them was there. The last night he'd spent with Jasper, the night neither of them had wanted to end, had left them both with this strong feeling like they were two pieces of the same machine, and apart they were just nothing. Jasper could see the strength it was taking for Ryan to resist and he hates himself for wanting to take advantage of the obvious weakness Ryan still had for him. He couldn't, he knew that. He'd come here to take Ryan back but Ryan wasn't his to take.

"I don't know, I think I'm a lost cause at this point." Jasper sighs.

"So what am I meant to do? Because if you say right now that you are ready for someone to help you then I will help you. But if you aren't ready then I can't do anything. I'm powerless." Ryan tells him. A lost look in his eyes begging for a final answer. Jasper wanted to throw himself at Ryan, tell him he is ready for help and that he wants Ryan to take him home, spend the night in his arms and never leave again. But there's a guy inside waiting for him, a guy that Jasper was once. Letting him go and talk to his ex, not realizing what that relationship was like, waiting for his boyfriend to come back and wondering if he was reconciling things with the ex. Jasper made that mistake with Ryan early on, and he wasn't about to put someone else through it. He may have been drawing similarities between himself and Damien all night, but if there was one thing he could do to prove he wouldn't stoop that low, it would be leaving Ryan to move on. Even if Jasper wanted nothing more than Ryan back in his life, he felt that he needed him to make the decision for him, and walk away. But his legs weren't moving, and his didn't feel strong enough to leave yet.

“I feel like I have lost everything. Losing him has, ruined me.” Jasper whispers and as he does an almost cinematic tear escapes his eye, sliding down his cheek leaving behind a glistening trail and it takes everything Ryan has not to lean over and wipe it away for him. “I miss Blake. I miss you. I miss me.” Jasper takes in a shaky breath and shudders as he lets it out again, trying not to let any more tears get through, he had cried enough tonight and could only imagine how gross and puffy his eyes were, how salty his cheeks must be from being streaked and he didn't even want to think about how dehydrated and weak he'd feel in the morning. His raw confession at least gave Ryan hope that he was getting close to coming around to a point of acceptance.

“You need to do something for yourself. Throw yourself into your music...” Ryan suggests gently.

“I can’t write music, every single song I think of is about him or... It hurts too much.” Jasper shakes his head and looks at Ryan who looks away from him and back up to the sky immediately, he knew he was the other subject of Jasper's song ideas and he couldn't look into those sad eyes anymore.

“Use that hurt, Jasper.” Ryan glances at him, hoping that Jasper could continue letting out his feelings.

“I can’t imagine using his death for my own profits.” Jasper scoffs, his own eyes going to his hands, fidgeting anxiously.

“There is a huge difference between using it for profit, and using it to help you grieve. Do you know how many artists out there use their pain to make their art, and their art as therapy for their pain You’re allowed to sing about it, you’re allowed to scream about it, you’re allowed to grieve in absolutely anyway you need to. The grief isn’t going to just go away, and if you’re not dealing with it then you’re never going to find your way out of it.” Ryan tells him. Jasper knew the longer he sat here the harder it was going to be to walk away. But he still needed to get something off his chest, because it didn't feel like he could talk about it with anyone else.

"You know, I imagine him talking to me, giving me advice and telling me what to do. But." Jasper pauses and picks at his fingernails. "I don't remember, I mean I do but I don't hear him in my head with his voice anymore. It's like I have forgotten how he sounded. It's stupid, isn't it. I feel like I'm just going slowly insane stuck inside my own brain, like it's trying to conjure up these conversations, trying to place him beside me on the couch, trying to show me his smile but it's all just my imagination. There are times where I swear I feel my phone buzz, or I hear a knock on the door and my first thought is that's he's finally out of surgery. He's finally coming home." Jasper tugs his sleeves over his hands and wipes his eyes and nose on the back of it. "I keep having this dream, that I am about to go on stage and he is there. I ask him what he was doing and he says he is waiting for me, that he didn't know where I was and thought I wasn't going to show up for the tour. It's like my brain hates me. It's no wonder I am constantly trying to shut it up." Jasper covers his face with his hands and sits in silence again.

"Oh Jas." Ryan sighs and places a hand on Jasper's back again, rubbing gently. Jasper leans into the touch, resting his head against Ryan's shoulder, Ryan's arms circle him and Jasper turns his body to let Ryan hug him properly. They hold onto each other for a few blissful moments, before Jasper pulls back again to wipe away another wave of silent tears.

"Ry. Can I ask you something?" Jasper asks.

"Of course?"

"Were you afraid of me? When I. When I was having a panic attack?" Jasper asks shakily, unable to look at him as he spoke. That night had hung over him, haunting him frequently. The way he felt, the things he thought and how he spoke and acted towards Ryan.

"I wasn't afraid of you. But it was scary seeing you like that. I never realized how they looked from the outside." Ryan answers calmly.

"I never realized how they felt from the inside." Jasper draws in a deep breath, holding it for a moment to try and calm the flood of emotions that had hit him when he was in Ryan's arms again, wishing he could call it home.

"I know." Ryan rubs Jasper back again. "Panic attacks are terrifying. Especially the first time you experience one. You don't know that it will fade, you don't know it'll feel ok later. You just know you can't breath and you can't think properly and it's feels like you're going to die. It's a truly, truly horrifying thing to go through." He sighs.

"Did you ever think you would hurt me? During one?" Jasper asks, looking down at his hands, ashamed of the thoughts that had run through his mind that night.

"No." Ryan says quickly, turning his head and looking at the way Jasper seems to sink into himself more at hearing Ryan had not felt that way. Ryan holds Jasper's shoulders and looks into his eyes. "But did the doctors' explain that to you? Any thoughts you had of hurting people, was intrusive thoughts. It's not who you are, it's not how you feel. That's the human instinct retaliating because you're so afraid, fight or flight. You don't think about hurting people because you are an awful, violent person. You think about it because you're afraid and your brain tells you to protect yourself, even from people you know you don't have to protect yourself from. Please don't hate yourself for things you had no control over." Ryan assures him.

"That was the worst experience of my life. You're the last person on the face of this stupid planet, that I would ever want to hurt. And even in trying not to, I know I have hurt you. I don't deserve for you to forgive me but, I hope..."

"Jasper you are so forgiven. Believe me, I have never once blamed you for how you are dealing with this. It's a tragedy that no one should ever have to go through and you're going through it. There's no right of wrong way to grieve." Ryan answers and Jasper pulls away, looking at Ryan and feeling his heart starting to crumble in his chest. Ryan was incorrect, there was a wrong way to grieve and it was bouncing between anger and denial over and over again until he'd made every mistake he could possibly make, being dragged by force into a graveyard by someone who's meant to just drive you places and then be dropped at the doorstep of the ex who is finally moving on, only to fall to the gutter and cry about how much you fucked up. That's the wrong way to do it. This had to be it, he had to make himself leave the comfort of Ryan's arms, so he could be happy. "Have you been talking to anyone about this stuff?" Ryan asks, interrupting Jasper's once again spiralling thought process.

"No one gets it." Jasper shakes his head dismissively and smooths the crinkles out of his clothes. "The last person I opened up to only cared until he got me to sleep with him.” Jasper covers his face with his hands.

"You told me to leave." Ryan begins to argue defensively.

"I didn't mean you." Jasper admits, standing up and adjusting his clothes anxiously. All he wanted was to go home and wash off the touch of the person who'd been the start of this nightmare of a night. That after a few showers he might be able to forget he ever did it. "Hey, I left my phone in Leo's car, I didn't think he'd drive off on me. Can you please call him to come and get me?" Jasper asks and starts chewing his nails, unable to look at Ryan now that he'd told him about his mistake. Ryan gets up silently, a little in shock as he feels around his pockets then mumbles that he'll be right back. He leaves Jasper standing outside on the curb and heads inside to find his phone.

"That was quicker than I expected." Brayden comments then moves the curtain to see Jasper's silhouette at the edge of the road. "Is he ok?" Brayden asks.

"Yeah. I'll be back soon then we can go, ok? I just need to get him a lift home." Ryan answers quickly then heads back outside, glancing back over his shoulder to see Brayden watching them both now through the window. Jasper doesn't turn around as Ryan approaches, simply staring at the stars and waiting to be safely in the back of Leo's car. "You need to take him home. Ok. See you soon, bye." Ryan hangs up, his eyes rest on Jasper, noticing his insecure stance, the constant adjustment of his clothes like he wasn't comfortable in them and the way Jasper was avoiding looking at him now. "Was it tonight?" Ryan asks, not sure if he wanted the answer or not, and he's not given one either, at least not verbally. Jasper's head drops in shame and he wipes more tears from his eyes before tugging again at his clothes. Ryan wanted to hold him that much harder, to cover the fact he’d been touched by someone else. He hated the thought of anyone else having their hands on Jasper's body and wished he could erase the memory of their touch from his skin. A jealousy coursing through him, combined with a deep seething hatred for whoever had taken advantage of his broken state for their own pleasure. Ryan's mind goes back to their last night together, the completely holistic intimacy they had shared and the way it felt as though they were limitless together. The hours kissing, fingertips gliding over every single inch of skin, igniting every nerve and finding new ways to enjoy each other without it even progressing to more. He'd never seen Jasper that vulnerable. It had been the most incredible experience, to share moments just counting each other's breaths, watching Jasper melt under his every touch. Ryan had accepted he'd never feel that level of closeness with any person ever again in his life, and he'd selfishly wished that for Jasper too, though he had hoped for nothing but genuine love from whoever the next lover would be. He was disappointed Jasper had been taken advantage of, and disappointed that Jasper had slept with someone, but it didn't seem like that needed to be said, Jasper was clearly upset enough himself.

Leo's car rolls up and Jasper turns around, opening the door for himself and getting in the back without another word to Ryan and all too soon the car lights are disappearing around the corner. Ryan gulps back the anguish that had filled him, and slides his hands in his pockets as he heads back inside, wishing he had no plans and could spend the rest of the night just lying in a confused state of numbness, thinking about what Jasper had said. He finds Brayden lying on the couch, phone in his hand looking relaxed.

"Sorry about that." Ryan apologizes, leaning against the door frame. "He's gone now."

“That was dramatic.” Brayden replies, putting his phone down and frowning at Ryan.

“Yeah, sorry.” Ryan wipes his face with his hands and gives a shrug.

“That was you infamous ex, right?”

“His best friend died pretty suddenly a few months ago, and he’s struggling. He just needed to talk about it." Ryan replies, trying to remain nonchalant about it.

“So it had nothing to do with the fact he's clearly still in love with you, then?" Brayden smiles at Ryan and gets up from the couch. Ryan clears his throat and stands up straight.

“He's not still in love with me, he told me that a while ago." Ryan shrugs, though he didn't believe for a moment, that Jasper wasn't still in love with him.

"Uh-huh." Brayden gives him a sceptical look and Ryan clears his throat again, walking off to find his car keys.

"Come on, my mum has been looking forward to meeting you. I'm not going to let this ruin the night.” Ryan states with a fake smile on his face, he'd try to keep it there all night and could only hope his mum wouldn't know or ask what was wrong.

"Are you sure you're up to it?" Brayden asks. "You look a little, stressed."

"You're not getting out of it." Ryan rolls his eyes and nods his head towards the door for Brayden to follow him out to his car.

“I’m not trying to get out of it, just, what if she hates me.” Brayden gets in the passenger seat of Ryan's car. Ryan rolls his eyes and shoots Brayden a smile.

“What’s to hate? She's been looking forward to this ever since I told her about you. She’s going to welcome you into the family, don’t worry."

This is the last of the really heavy grief focused chapters, I promise things start improving now that Jasper has reached a turning point.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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So how much time has passed since the chapter before last when he asked Ryan to leave? It hasn’t been clear - long enough for Ryan to meet someone and have them meet his mom...

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On 5/3/2021 at 8:40 AM, Israfil said:

So how much time has passed since the chapter before last when he asked Ryan to leave? It hasn’t been clear - long enough for Ryan to meet someone and have them meet his mom...

Sorry, I didn't realize I hadn't specified the time that had passed. I was writing it as being around a month later. I will make sure I edit that in somewhere.

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No please Ryan and Jasper really are still in love with each other and they need each other more than they know!

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