Drama Fiction Sad

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Explicit Language, Mentions of Violence

Jasper takes a drag off his cigarette. When he licks his lips he feels like he can taste the bitterness of the tobacco on them so he purses them together, rubbing them clean. Then he takes another hit. 

His dark hair falls below his ears lazily, covering the pink scar at his right temple. Although he was freshly washed, his stubble gives him the appearance of raggedness, abetted by his stained shirt and shorts. Dark eyes rest on the skyline outside, looking past the city into a world made of memory. 

“Those things’ll kill you,” Calls his friend, if you could call him that. Colin would call them friends by circumstance. Jasper thinks he would call them allies at best, one step away from enemies.

The younger man is shorter than him, smaller than him, and at a glance seems made of fine china. He had once joked that Colin looked like one of those K-Pop Idols he saw online all the time, to which Colin told him he just looked that way in comparison to Jasper. Still, all of that fragility would vanish if anyone took the time to look into his eyes, cold as steel and void of weakness. 

“I could only hope,” He sighs. 

“What do you want?” Because Colin always wanted something. He was a man with an insatiable appetite married with little remorse when it came to consuming his share. He would suckle the marrow out of Jasper’s bones and then lick his fingers while the other bled at his feet if he thought it would appease the hollowness inside.

He waits for Jasper to flick out the cigarette before he starts, less as a matter of courtesy and more so because he detested the stench. Jasper smiled at the twitch of Colin’s nose when he blew the last cloud of smoke toward him.

“I have a job–”

“Fuck off.” 

He storms off to the kitchenette and Colin tails close behind him. 

“This is the last one, I mean it.” 

Jasper rolls his eyes. He slams a mug on the counter and pulls out a box of chamomile tea. 

“You say that every time.”

“I know, I know. Except this time I mean it. Really.” 

Colin’s face quirks up bemusedly at the tea. 

“Substitute for drinking. Figured one vice was enough,” He answers without the other asking. 

Colin scoffs at the idea of Jasper, gruff and gritty, delicately sipping tea. 

“Some of us are trying to be better. I am trying to be better.”

A flash of something close to sympathy gleams in Colin’s eyes, softening them around the edges. 

“And I applaud that, truly. I respect it.” 

A harsh laugh rips from Jasper’s throat. “But here you are disrespecting it. Come with your tail tucked to drag me out to the dog fight because you bit off more than you can chew.” 

“Nice work with the dog metaphor. Been reading more?” Colin quips venomously. 

“As a matter of fact, I have, you pompous jackass,” He whips around and jabs a finger at Colin’s chest, “I’m getting real sick of your attitude. Coming here, actin’ like you’re fuckin’ welcome in my house, my space, that I created to get away from you and your self-righteous bullshit.” Jasper closes in on Colin, boxing the other between the wall and the counter. 

He holds his ground, back straight, eyes trained intensely on Jasper’s. 

“You can blame me for everything if that makes you sleep better, but let’s not pretend like all of that shit wasn’t already inside you. You helped me because deep down you wanted to, not because I forced you. Cut the shit, Jasper.” 

Each word burned Jasper, making his blood boil and his muscles tense and flex, licked by fire. He thinks that he shouldn’t let it get to him, let Colin know that after all this time he still knows best what buttons to push. He crawls under Jasper’s skin like a roach, infecting him with deadly diseases until he will someday be as hollow as the other. Jasper hates it, and more than that, he hated that a dark, twisted part of him wanted that hollowness. He wanted to be empty of all the grudge he held inside, to be free of the pain that latched itself to his bones and wrapped itself around his brain. 

Colin could get to him like no other because he knew of that secret desire. He just wondered if it was powerful enough to overwhelm the good man left inside Jasper. 

Even caged in, Colin can’t help but to want to taunt him. Only through Jasper does he ever feel a semblance of what he once knew. As if he can vicariously feel the man’s anguish, his ire, and even his brief moments of joy. 

Jasper is inches from his face, breathing hard and heavy with unbridled rage. He’s pushed back the hair from his face, revealing the jagged scar. Gently, Colin raises his hand, as one would for a wild animal, and brushes his fingers against it. 

“Amazing,” He whispers, feeling the pulse of blood pumping at the temple, “All that and you only got away with this.” 

“I got lucky,” Jasper replies. “And so did you. What we did was stupid and it cost lives, Colin. They were our friends, damn it.”

The whine in his voice almost melts Colin’s heart. Deep under all the ice, lingers a twinge of sorrow for those friends. He ponders for a second about what Jasper had said earlier–stopping all of this and bettering himself. He’s sure that if he gives in right now, Jasper would open up to him again, allowing him into his space like before. He imagines a life spent atoning for his past. Or even just one where he lives normally with Jasper and learns to fill the hollowness through other means.

The dream is over before he blinks because he hears a ghost in his ear reminding him why he’s doing this; why Jasper is doing this. If he doesn’t finish it, then their friends die for nothing. Everyone dies for nothing if he doesn’t end it all.

Half to push Jasper and half out of misplaced spite, he releases the ugliness that had built inside him. 

Looking directly into Jasper’s expectant eyes, hand still smoothing over his cheek, he asks, “Tell me, Jasper, when you look at me like that, do you see her? Do we look alike or act alike, which is it?”

And like that, the walls build up, the man recoils, jerking himself out of Colin’s hold. 

Colin waits for the outburst, for the destruction followed by the relent. He’s played this game too many times with Jasper and now knows his next moves. 

Except, it doesn’t come. Instead, he is faced with something subdued and quiet. It is palpably sad and catches him off guard. 

Jasper’s face is dark, but not with that usual bitter contempt. It’s a sullen look that leaves Colin’s stomach churning uncomfortably. 

“I wish I could save you from yourself, but I can’t. I can only save myself.” Jasper chokes out with a heave of the chest. He closes his eyes and turns his back to Colin. 

“I’m done, I mean it. I don’t want to be that guy anymore, the one who can’t live with his own misery so he drags everyone else down into it. No job will bring them back, Colin. When I see Carrie again, I want her to be proud of me, and right now, she wouldn’t be.”

Those words strike a chord with Colin. A pang of shame rings through him. The emotion fills up his lungs and spills into his throat, the thickness of it preventing him from speaking. 

Jasper prepares his tea, not looking at him. 

“Get out. And don’t come back.”

And, for the first time ever, Colin listens. 

August 13, 2022 02:34

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