A flash fiction on the developing relationship between Jasper and Sebastian.
“Get out!” he roared.
Sebastian’s face finally looked afraid, which was what he wanted, but also what he didn’t want. But it was the only way to get him to leave.
“Jasper, calm down...”
“Fuck off!” he screamed now, towering over Sebastian. Sebastian was shorter by at least an inch, and it wasn’t too hard. “I don’t want to see your stupid, ignorant face again. Take your research and leave.” he threw the papers at him with such force they scattered on the floor like a fallen deck of cards. His grabbed his satchel and threw it out the door. “Take your disgusting bag with you.”
Sebastian looked shocked and disappointed. “Jasper, don’t be this way. Think rationally. I’m just trying to help…”
“I do not now, nor ever have, needed your help.” He told him, pushing him out the door, then slamming so hard the glass rattled in its frame.
He turned back to his desk and leaned on it heavily, panting hard. He couldn’t stop it, the panic building in his chest. If Sebastian had stayed another minute, he would have seen how his hand shook so hard he couldn’t type. He felt the sweat prickle in his armpits and the middle of his back. The feeling that thousands of little scurrying ants inside his skin was growing and the thoughts were getting increasingly senseless.
His arms gave in and he slumped to the floor, and he carefully turned himself around so that his back could lean against the desk. He brought his legs up as close as they could go and let his hands clutch at his hair, pulling hard enough to cause pain. But the pain kept him grounded, kept him from spiralling off. His eyes closed so tight he saw spots, and he stared into the darkness behind them, trying to calm himself down and failing. He bit his lip to keep the whimpers in, but nothing could stop the tears.
I need to be smaller, I need to be smaller… he chanted in his head.
Somewhere on the edge of his awareness, he heard the door open softly, then close. Near silent footsteps came close and stopped. He felt Sebastian’s hand touch his arms, featherlite.
“Jasper?” he asked quietly. But Jasper couldn’t uncurl, he had to stay tight.
“I would really like it if you went away.” His voice was muffled.
Sebastian didn’t reply to that. “Jasper, can you look at me?”
So Sebastian kneeled in front of him and touched him softly. Stroking his knees, his arms, travelling up to his hands where they fisted in his dark hair, and pulled at them gently until they let go. He pushed his hair back from his face and soothed the trembling in his shoulders until they slumped. When he finally let his legs unfold, Sebastian immediately pulled himself close so that he could hold him. Jasper was still crying, but that quiet crying that doesn’t stop, like someone left the tap on. He said nothing, only stroked small circles on his neck until he could breathe like a normal person again.
Jasper looked at Sebastian then, still feeling fragile but also annoyed.
“I told you to leave.”
Sebastian grinned, but it was watery. “So you did.”
Jasper shook his head, and made to get up, making his way of wobbly legs to his chair.
“Tea?” Asked Sebastian, though he was already making his way to the kitchen.
“Yes.” So much yes.
He leaned on his arms on the desk, still focussing on breathing, but feeling miles better. Usually he only felt the demons back away for a time, but this time he felt cleaner, though spent.
Sebastian had seen his meltdown, and he hadn’t walked away.
Soon he came back, with tea, and Jasper sipped it, enormously glad that he always made it with sugar, even though he never asked.
He sat in his usual seat across the office desk and sipped his own.
“Was it Charlie again?” he asked quietly.
Jasper felt himself stiffen, and his heart ache a bit. “Yes.”
“Do you want to tell me…?”
It wasn’t anything new. Charlie had summoned him, he had gone over to his flat, and found him with a guy, acting as if he hadn’t asked Jasper to come over. But lately, Jasper had just gotten tired of it. He shouted and Charlie reacted. But Charlie fought dirty, and was so much better at words. He said the things that hurt the most, the things that always cut Jasper to pieces and kept him under Charlie’s thumb. He closed his eyes, remembering, still hearing the words rattling around inside his head, like a malevolent echo. But it had been Sebastian’s wide eyes and tender questions that set him off. He couldn’t take it.
But Sebastian hadn’t left.
“Don’t go back.” Sebastian said suddenly, breaking into his reverie.
Jasper looked at him, wary. “What?”
“Don’t go back to him.” he said again. Jasper tried to turn the conversation. He put his tea down.
“Sebastian, this isn’t your problem, or your business. Just leave it.”
“No, listen.” Sebastian put his tea down too, and got up, to walk around the desk. He came to Jasper and swivelled his chair so that he was facing him, leaning over him while balancing on the two armrests.
Jasper couldn’t help but look directly at him, and his breathe began to quicken once more. If Sebastian wasn’t careful, he was going to kiss him, and then everything would be really be fucked.
“Please.” Sebastian whispered. “Don’t go back to him.”
And then he kissed him. Lightly, gently, questing.
They walked down the cobbled pathway, to the university’s duck pond, which lay in the middle of the grounds. It was man-made, but pretty in that it had a bridge over it and a benches surrounding it, and sometimes even ducks.
“So,” said Jasper into their comfortable silence. “You’re gay.”
Sebastian grinned at the joke. “Well, I suppose you could say that.”
“Suppose? You just spent the last thirty minutes kissing me.”
Sebastian looked at him them, a devious little glint in those eyes and Jasper felt a smile appear on his face. “Yes I did. But that’s not wat I meant. You could call me bisexual, if that makes you happier.”
Jasper looked confused. “Shouldn’t it make you happy?”
“No, I mean that I don’t really know what to call myself. I don’t like men or women, I like people. And when I find someone amazing, I just want to be with them.” He looked up at Jasper and he clenched his fists in his pockets, feeling light.
“I think that’s called pansexual.” He answered, trying not to act like a teenager.
Sebastian shrugged. “I don’t really care about labels. It’s a waste of time.”
“Labels help us define the world. Gives us direction.” Jasper mused, but Sebastian shook his head.
“No it’s stupid. As soon as you have a label, you have to follow these preconceived rules. Like you’re a spaceship in space, and you can only go visit certain planets. Even though you can visit any planet you want to.”
“What if you only like blue planets?”
“Then that’s you. But what if you like red planets and blue planets and yellow planets?”
“There are yellow planets?”
“Um, I think so..”
Jaspers face twisted into a perplexed frown. “That was a horrible metaphor.”
“Hey, I’m not the writer here.” He laughed.
They walked in companionable silence until they found a bench to sit on. Without asking, Sebastian found his hand and held it loosely. Jasper let him, because it felt warm and comforting and right.
“So, how long have you had panic attacks?” he asked.
Jasper stiffened. Why did Sebastian have to see everything about him that made him flawed?
“Since high school. Kicked in during exams.” He answered, and his knee began to jump. Sebastian gripped his hand then.
“You don’t have to be ashamed of it.”
“I’m not ashamed.”
“Yes you are.”
Jasper felt angry then, and pulled his hand away, leaning forward on his knees.
“Do you take something for it?” Sebastian asked quietly. Jasper rubbed his face with his hand roughly.
“I do, sometimes. When it gets bad.”
“Is it worse, because of Charlie?”
The question gave Jasper pause. He hadn’t really considered it before, but now that he thought about it, he had felt far more anxious in the three months since he had been with Charlie then he had before. And his worst attacks usually came after some argument with him.
When he didn’t answer Sebastian leaned forward too, trying to meet his eyes.
“It’s ok, Jasper.”
Jasper tried to ignore him. His knee began to jump again.
“How do you know about panic attacks anyway?” he asked, trying to move the conversation away.
“My mother used to have them. They got pretty bad sometimes. My father and I used to take care of her.”
Well that explained a few things then.
“I know you can’t take the meds on and off, you need to take them regularly.” He carried on pointedly.
Jasper swallowed. “I used to…” but then one night Charlie had seen him taking his pill, after a shower. When he found out what they were for, he called Jasper a pussy and flushed them down the toilet. He had had to wait twenty days before he could get a new script. It had been torture.
He heard the words echo in his head again.
Who would ever even want you? Defective fucking git.
His hands clenched together tightly, his nails digging into his flesh. But Sebastian’s hand came out and over them.
“Please don’t do that. I hate that.” He said. Jasper looked at him, torment in his face. “You think I don’t see, but I do. You always grab at the elbows of your jerseys, that’s why they are stretched and bigger than they should be. You pull a fist so tight you leave imprints of your fingernails in your palms. Your hair gets messy from when you pull at it. I see it. I watch you. I see you.”
Jasper felt equally horrified at his weakness being so obvious to this near stranger, and buoyant with delight that Sebastian, beautiful Sebastian, was watching him.
“I see you. And I think you’re amazing.” He whispered. He leaned his head forward until their foreheads touched, and miraculously, Jasper let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding, unclenched his teeth and felt the relief in his jaw.
“Amazing?” He asked, breathless.
Sebastian was looking at him with such open adoration he felt unworthy. He looked away and breathed in and out, slowly.
He told him about Charlie. Everything.
Sebastian was understandingly and predictably, appalled.
“Again, I have to ask, why you are with him?” he leaned back on the seat, hands in his pockets.
Jasper thought about it. “I think I met him at exactly the wrong moment.” He offered. “I had had a bad day. And he was sweet and sexy and into me.” he hesitated, then decided there was no point in hiding anything anymore. Best to be blunt. “My sister came to see me. My father was dying. She wanted me to visit him and I said no and things just exploded from there.”
Sebastian actually turned his whole body towards him.
“Dead now. Cancer.” He answered, picking at an invisible mark on his pants leg.
“I’m guessing you didn’t visit him.”
Jasper shook his head slowly. “No.”
“Do you regret it?”
Jasper didn’t even have to think. “No. He was a horrible human being. And he hated me.” He added matter-of-factly.
Sebastian was so openly curious it was amusing. “Because I was gay. Because I born. That sort of thing.” He shrugged then looked at him. “Are you enjoying this? Seeing what a mess I am?”
“What? No! I just like knowing more about you.”
Jasper smirked humourlessly. “But I am a fucking train wreck.” He said using Charlie’s words.
Sebastian shook his head so hard his hair bounced. “You have to stop that. We’re all a mess on some level.”
Jasper raised a disbelieving eyebrow at him, this golden sun-child.
Sebastian sighed and began to list on his fingers. “My mom had a nervous disorder. She was constantly on the verge of having an attack, but she had it bad, not like you. She once destroyed the kitchen with a golf club. Another time, she kidnapped me and tried to fly us to California. By the time I was eighteen I was so fed up I left as soon as I could for Thailand, and spent the next three years feeling guilty about it, and jumping from one country to the next. Eventually I went back, only to discover my dad had put her in her home after she tried to commit suicide. Again.”
But he wasn’t done. “I got into research because it was the only job I could do without tertiary education, and I had to work because my dad couldn’t pay the bill for the care home anymore after he got retrenched.” He wasn’t counting on his fingers anymore, just staring out over the pond, his hands for once unmoving. He glanced at Jasper, and looked sad but still smiling a bit.
“My mom eventually got it right. Swallowed enough pills to die. The home wasn’t a very good one, so they didn’t find her in time.” He shrugged again. He was always fucking shrugging, like he could displace the world problems by doing it. “My dad works and lives alone. I visit him sometimes. But it’s horrible and I’m a coward, so not often.”
Jasper thought he must be gaping at him. He felt annoyed with himself for being so self-absorbed, assuming that everyone other than him had a simple life. Suddenly it was like the Sebastian in front of him had gone from being a cardboard cut-out, to a real person. But it didn’t stop him from being beautiful.
“So that’s why you didn’t walk away? When I threw you out.” He asked.
“Hmmm?” he said, as if pulled from a reverie. “Well, I wanted to. After a whole life of it, you get tired of look after people. When you slammed the door, my first instinct was to run.” Sebastian looked at him with his head tilted to the side.
Jasper swallowed. “And then? You could have run. Anyone else would have.”
“Jasper, I’ve been trying to get you to break up with Charlie, bringing you tea, lunch, helping you with that book, even when you obviously didn’t want me there…” he laughed. “ I think I’ve been looking after you since I got here.”
Jasper felt shocked and disgusted. Was he so pathetic that Sebastian had to babysit him? Was it that obvious? His expression must have changed because Sebastian looked alarmed and reached both hands out to grab hi, stop him from leaving.
“No, not like that. Not like that. You’re not like her.”
“You kissed me because you have some sort of hero complex.”
“No! I kissed you because I wanted to. Because I wanted to for ages.” He held Jasper arms hard, not wanting him to go. “When you opened the door that first day, looking tall and angry and gorgeous, you were just… far more than I expected. Every day has been like that. More than I expected. I didn’t want to leave.”
He let go, when he was satisfied he wasn’t going to run. “I’m not trying to save you. But I believe everything happens for a reason. That I got sent to your door for a reason.” He looked up at him, eyes wide and apologetic. “And I also still, really want to kiss you.”
Jasper looked at him and admitted to himself that he would really like that too. Fuck, he was easy to lure.
“What if you’re worse for me than Charlie?” he asked, holding himself back.
Sebastian’s face fell, as if he had been slapped. His childlike face looked tragic. “I never thought of it…”
Jasper had a brief sense of perspective then; Sebastian thought he was just as much of a wreck as Jasper felt he himself was. It was ridiculous.
He leaned forward, carefully touching his face. “Maybe we can look after each other then.” He suggested, even though he was at a loss as to how he could ever be of value to this man.
Sebastian answering smile was also watery and broken. “Yeah. Let’s try.”
This time Jasper kissed him. And it was lovely. So lovely.
A week later
This time, Jasper texted first.
He had told Charlie to meet him at the club, just before happy hour. It was the best way to make sure he actually showed up.
“You could just ignore him?” Sebastian suggested while eating a sandwich, that afternoon. The crumbs spilled onto his lap then the carpet.
“Could you just use a fucking plate?” Jasper complained, shoving one towards him. Sebastian grinned without remorse, but picked up the plate and held it under his mouth while he ate. “And no, I think I need to do this myself. He always makes all the decisions, this one has to be mine.”
Sebastian only nodded, but his eyes shone. Jasper took strength from that, because he was actually quailing inside.
So he went alone to the club. The music as always was too loud, but he went to the bar and got a drink; some Dutch courage. Then he waited, thankful the bar wasn’t bustling quite yet. It was twenty minutes before Charlie came out to see him. He took pleasure in making him wait. But he sauntered up to him, looking as if he just tumbled out of bed, which he probably had, since he lived above the club. Jasper reflected that he once found Charlie’s just out of bed look magnetically sexy, but now…he just looked hungover.
Charlie had represented everything he couldn’t be. Uninhibited, voracious, sexy, confident. But looking at it now, after Sebastian and he had been talking more, he saw it differently. While Charlie was those things, (and he really was, it was what drew in his never ending stream of lays) most of Jasper’s hero worship came from him alone, and Charlie wasn’t to blame for that. He had put him up on a pedestal, wanting to be saved from himself, thinking Charlie could be that saviour. He made him feel wanted at first. But since then, he just made him feel optional, and worthless.
Still, his mouth went dry and he could feel his hands beginning to shake. His heart began uncomfortably fast rhythm, making him feel like there was a butterfly in his throat. But it wasn’t excitement or joy, because it was cold, like fear.
Charlie came up to him and didn’t even try to kiss him, instead slouching into the chair next to his at the bar. His rangy form was tightly muscled, like ropes on his bones, and his hair was permanently a touch too long. It had been adorable until Jasper learned he left it long on purpose. He lit a cigarette and dragged on it before looking at Jasper.
“Hey Jazz.” He drawled, sounding tired and bored.
“Hey Charlie.” Jasper answered, glad to hear his voice sounded normal.
“So, what did you want?” he asked, as if it didn’t matter.
Jasper took a deep breath; it had to be quick, or he would just get sucked in again. “Charlie, it’s done. I’m done.” He said, hating how cliché it was, but it couldn’t be said another way.
Charlie looked at him lazily, pulling on the cigarette again. “Sure.” He said, a low raspy chuckle coming from him as he did.
“No, really. We’re done.”
Charlie raised his eyebrows a bit, and they vanished in his fringe. “Oh really now? Didn’t think you had the guts to leave.”
Jasper closed his eyes, willing himself to keep his composure. He really couldn’t fall apart now, Charlie would tear into him and then things would never change.
“Well, I do. I just wanted to tell you myself.” He said, twisting the glass in his hand. “So no more texts, no more hitting anyone who comes close to me, no more….”
“Us?” Charlie finished for him, a smile in his tone. He looked at Jasper sidelong, grinning like the devil himself. “Come on Jazz, you don’t want that.” He stood up and pushed Jasper so that he could manoeuvre himself between his legs. He smelled like smoke and stale beer.
“You don’t want to leave. You just want me to be nicer, yeah?” he crooned in his ear, very close, his hands snaking their way around his waist onto his back, and Jasper cursed that he knew the ways he liked to be touched. That he knew anything about him at all. “Treat you better? You like me, you like what I do to you, that’s why you won’t leave…” he drawled lustily and Jasper leaned away, feeling desperate for air.
“I used to, but not now. I don’t want this anymore.” He tried, but Charlie laughed, and it was cruel, not kind.
“Please. I’m the only one who would have you.” he said, and leaned close again. “Remember the pills?” he whispered in his ear.
Jasper flinched, but suddenly it wasn’t hard to push Charlie away.
“I may be broken, but that doesn’t mean you get to break me some more.”
Charlie looked surprised now. “Excuse me?”
“I’m done. That’s all I came to say. Goodbye Charlie.”
Charlie eyes went wide, and Jasper could see how blood shot they were. It occurred to him now only that Charlie was just as fucked up as he was. It was so glaringly obvious, he felt an idiot for not seeing it before.
Misery loves company, Sebastian had said. Miserable people only feel happy when they are making others miserable.
Do I make you miserable?
Charlie grabbed his arm as he turned to the door. “Come on, Jazz. Don’t leave. We can make this up.”
“No, I’m done. I told you. You don’t know how to be better than you are, so all you do is make everyone else worse. And I’m tired of being your punching bag.”
The grip hardened painfully and Jasper winced.
“You’re just as broken as I am. That’s why you love me.”
“No. I’m broken, but I don’t love you. I thought I did, but I don’t.” he told him.
Charlie looked at him desperately. He lunged forward and tried to kiss him, but Jasper turned his face away before he could. He pushed him away, and Charlie stumbled back.
“I don’t want you anymore, Charlie!”
Charlie’s eyes bore the unfamiliar look of desperation.
“I’m done.” He said. And left.
Some weeks later.
Sebastian tumbled onto him, smoothly going from seated on the couch to practically in his lap.
The kisses were quick and warm and easy, Jasper meeting him halfway. It was so different with him. Everything was. Charlie had always make him work for it, but Sebastian just gave and gave and gave. He let him work his nimble fingers underneath his shirt, touching his stomach with warm hands, the trailing his nails around his waist and up his spine, making him shiver and bite his lower lip in appreciation.
The weeks following his and Charlie’s break up had allowed some healing. Sebastian never pushed, even though his joy of the fact was clear enough to see. He walked into his office in the mornings, whistling. He grinned that light-up-the-room grin all the time, and sometimes Jasper tried not to smile back, but it was hard.
They talked; about the book, about life, about all kinds of shit until time ran on without them. Jasper took him to see the museum, since he had never been, and Sebastian called it a date even though Jasper didn’t. Then Sebastian took them out for dinner, and that was a date. Always they kissed, and held hands as they walked. Charlie never came up.
Jasper had another melt down, when the book was nearing its completion. Sebastian found him in a knot on the floor of the kitchenette, holding a pillow against his face so that no one would hear him crying. Sebastian pulled him close, and whispered softly that it was alright, to breathe, just breathe.
“You’re going to leave.” Jasper gasped when he could breathe again.
“What?” Sebastian said, like it was the dumbest thing he had ever heard. “Why would I leave?”
“Because the book is almost finished. When it’s done and your contract is up, you have to leave.”
Sebastian snorted and Jasper looked at him, annoyed.
“Idiot. I’m not going to leave. I’m not a slave. I can go where I want.”
“But your job…”
“I’m a researcher, Jasper. I can do that anywhere.”
Jasper stared at him.
“So you’re not going to leave?”
“Jasper, I already cancelled my ticket.”
“I can’t believe you thought I was going to leave.”
Jasper clutched at his arm. “I had a moment.”
Sebastian kissed the top of his head and chuckled. Even though he was taller than Sebastian, he never felt like he was looking down on him. They always met in the middle.
A week later, he invited Sebastian to his flat, so he could make him dinner. And then afterwards they had moved to the couch, Sebastian drinking a beer he brought with him. Sebastian had just told him that the university had offered him a full time position, as a general staff research assistant. Which meant he could move there, live on campus.
“So should I take it?’ Sebastian asked, his eyes twinkling.
Jasper looked at him while leaning his head on the back of the couch. It was huge and pillowy. Jasper always found it hard to limit himself when it came to comfortable furniture.
“You’re joking right?” he replied with half a smile.
And then Sebastian was kissing him.
Unlike the times before, kissing in his office, on doorsteps, this time it became more. Sebastian never asked for more than he could give, and he sensed that the younger man was waiting. Waiting for him to heal, to be comfortable, and to be ok…
It was getting frustrating.
So Jasper gave back this time, tired of waiting. He kissed him back with such eagerness, that Sebastian gasped at first. He pulled off his shirt in one swift motion and dove right back into Jasper’s heat. Jasper let his hand grab at the soft curls on his head, finally let himself touch, and unable to stop now that he was. Sebastian’s skin was soft and gold, with tiny moles all over, like little constellations. He let him unbutton his shirt and kiss him in the crook of his neck, and he bit him in the same spot making him shudder.
“Fuck.” He rasped out.
“That’s the idea.” He replied.
Sebastian looked at him, his hair sticking up like tiny corkscrews. “That was crass.” He didn’t sound accusatory, he sounded surprised.
“Well I can’t be perfect all the time.” Jasper grinned.
Sebastian leaned over him, leaning over him so that he was haloed by the light. “You are to me.”
Japer swallowed, feeling the sensation of inevitability. Lust made space for something deeper, and tears pricked the backs of his eyes. Sebastian didn’t wait for an answer, but kissed him again, tender and loving, letting the fire build between them, pushing and grinding until Jasper couldn’t stand it.
“I have a bed.”
“Useful.” Was all Sebastian replied.
He followed Jasper to his bedroom, where a king size lay waiting for them, though they didn’t even look at it before landing. Once again Sebastian was on top of him, and it felt wonderful. He let him pull him arms up so that he could runs his hands over them and down his sides, pushing his pants off with a long, smooth, delicious movement.
Jasper panted. “Have you done this before?” he asked while Sebastian put kisses all over his chest.
“Are you sure?”
Sebastian laughed. “Jasper, I had a boyfriend once, but we never went this far.”
“Oh.” Light dawned. “Oh.” He pulled himself up on his elbows.
“So I could teach you.” he said, delighted.
Sebastian glowed. “Yes. I’d like that.”
This time Jasper reached for him and turned them around so that he was above him now, stretching his longer length against him. Sebastian closed his eyes and made a satisfied sound. And Jasper felt exhilarant.
“This is going to be fun, Sebastian.”
Sebastian stretched like a cat and Jasper noticed a mole under his elbow. But he paused.
“Sebastian are you sure?” he asked.
Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Are you serious?”
“Yes I am. I’ve been gay for as long as I can remember. I’m no virgin. But you…”
Sebastian relaxed his arms above is head on the bed and looked at Jasper fondly. “I know you won’t hurt me.”
Jasper sucked in a breath. “But I does hurt, at first…and how can you trust me, just like that?”
Sebastian shook his head like he was a fool. “Jasper, don’t you know?”
“I love you.”
Just like that.
Sebastian pulled him closer so he could whisper. “I know you’re thinking that you’re too much of a mess to love, but I do. All of you, all
Jasper felt broken and squeezed his eyes shut leaning into Sebastian’s touch. “I don’t think I can love you yet.”
Sebastian laughed a bit. “I think you already do. But if you don’t want to say so yet, it’s fine by me.”
Jasper still hadn’t opened his eyes.
“It’s fine.” he said. “By me.” Punctuating each word with a kiss. Eventually he drew Jasper back in, and he breathed his scent in like it was life itself. Sebastian was pliant and sweet and gave Jasper confidence when he faltered, told him it was alright when he cried a bit at the pain.
“It’s all beautiful, Jasper.” He said to his worried face. “All of it. You, me, us, and whatever we do. It’s all beautiful.”