Summary: Two old lovers meeting again
Disclaimer: It's just fiction! None of the characterizations and events are fact. Similarities in those are not completely accidental, but can't be taken serious anyway.
Reviews: Would be very much appreciated
A/N: I just had to.
Chapter I: We Could Be Wrong, We Could Be Ready
Jason had given up the lifestyle of smoking and eating burgers and ice creams every single day. He was not sorry or ashamed he lived that way. He just felt it was time to shape up and get healthy. It was time to take full responsibility for what he did to his own body, and learn to care. He thought he could be so much more than he had been so far. He could be more appreciative and grateful for his health. And he found if he only tried, he could improve his shape and quality of life. It helped him clearing his head and find some peace of mind. He always knew he needed that. In the past, the efforts seemed too many and too hard to practice and to fit in his life. He now knew he was only keeping himself from having what he deserved for all the wrong reasons. He could point out most situations and tell where he went wrong. There was one situation where he wasn’t so sure.
John loved his electrical gadgets. His fingers were speeding, blasting random thoughts through his IPhone into the open. He spend hours talking to the world in small windows through portable devices while he didn't see a face for days, cause he locked himself up in his house, or studio, to finish a song. He told himself: contact in words, no matter how small and in what way, was contact nonetheless. He sometimes missed the expressions on faces, but he found it easier to express not to have to think of how his voice sounded during every word spoken. He was worried he was causing ripples of disgust or offense with his outburst sometimes. Usually, though, he only saw little evidence of possible damage caused. It didn't worry him too much. And he had Chad to keep him in check. So, all should still be fine in the world.
John blinked surprised at a small message appearing in his phone. It was a simple message: "What are you up to?" It was not the message that caused the surprised frown. It was the sender. The last time John checked, Jason didn't have his new phone number.
"Check my Twitter!" he responded too quickly to his own liking.
He kept his phone in his hand, staring at it, waiting to get a reply. He didn't have to wait long.
"I don't understand your twitter messages; you're just rambling on there."
"Did you actually check?"
John didn't mean to sound hostile, but he honestly didn't know how to approach this properly, for the situation had thrown him off guard. He was afraid he had scared Jason off, again. It stayed silent for a few minutes, which felt like hours. John couldn't suppress a relieved sigh when his phone blinked at him to announce a new message:
"I'm in town, wanna meet?"
John immediately clicked to reply, but let the cursor blink for several minutes. He was not sure. Yes, he wanted to see Jason. He was also afraid. What should they talk about? After all that happened, their meetings always seemed a little strained. Jason's presence always made John feel uncomfortable. With a deep sigh John started to formulate a reply:
'I'm in LA, I assume you are too? We can meet in....'
No, that was not it. He deleted the second sentence.
'You know cafe ....'
No. More backspacing.
'Where do you want to meet?'
John read the message silently whispering to himself: "I'm in LA, I assume you are too? Where do you want to meet?"
John's eyes let his eyes go over the words one more time, his finger ready to send the message. 'Do it now, before you change your mind', he told himself, while almost simultaneously sent the message.
Meanwhile a strange feeling was settling in his stomach. John wasn't sure it were nerves or butterflies.
"You're in the studio? Give me the address, I'll come to you."
The address; that John knew. This was going to be the easiest reply. Almost without thinking John send the address to Jason. Only afterwards, John realized he was to meet Jason again. It had been a long time since they spoke face to face.
It was nice to see him. Sun tanned. White, toothy smile. Slender and looking smart. Silent, mysterious, with so much going on in his head, and in his heart. That was all John could read in his eyes; the electrical pulses shooting and quivering. He didn’t know what they meant, or which effect they would have on Jason. John wasn’t sure Jason was happy to see him, how he felt about him, or about the situation they found themselves in. It was like staring into deep, dark water.
A flight of racing butterflies took possession of him. They forced him to run up to Jason, take him in his arms and lift him to hug tight. To never let go. It forced him to smash his lips against Jason’s, trying to catch Jason’s breath with his own. To consume him, starting with his tongue and then down, to his collarbone. It forced him to place his hands on inappropriate places to feel the warm skin. To lose himself in the arms of his long lost lover.
It almost forced him.
Half heartedly, Jason pointed inside: “Can I come in?” He was trying to act casual.
John was trying to act gracious, friendly, compassionate?
John wanted to get over himself and their past. He was so tired of all the acting; he was not an actor. He was a guitar player with his heart on his tongue.
Jason became muscle and patient, silent conversation. He became balance all on his own; he didn't need John as his counterweight anymore. John had been working out too, he became slender and in great condition. He didn't find that balance, however. That made him jealous.
Like he was always jealous of Jason's ability to sing with a voice, containing and insisting on serious matters, like heart breaks and love pains, or the lies he kept telling himself to suit his own mind. John had used Jason's voice as a painkiller many times.
He was jealous like he used to be jealous of Jason's ability to charm someone's pants off. Maybe John should smile more, or give more pets on backs and shoulders. He just couldn't stand the urge to be blunt and direct, to get his opinion out in the open without thinking about the consequences. John learnt the same lesson over and over again, while going on making the same mistakes. Jason learnt harder and made sure to fall in new and different pitfalls, all caused by still the same mistakes.
They both still held their problems on a string, floating above their heads like a balloon. Being pulled off the ground from time to time, to drop just as hard, as soon the wind died down and the balloon lost its lift.
Maybe John should start giving high fives, or fist bumps, like Jason did, playfully taking the rough edges away with camaraderie. John wished he could do that, but it just wasn't his style.
Jason got game, this time he was playing faster than John. He let his eyes wander through the room, mildly interested before settling his eyes and a friendly soft smile back on John. John tried too hard not to stumble or fall into habits of talking too much and too loud. He knew Jason really didn't care, but it was all in the game. He kept himself from talking at all and just signed Jason into the lounge where he had been busy trying to get Jason out of his mind. His guitar, the only witness in the room, stood proudly leaning against the couch. John wondered who knew more secrets, his guitar or Jason. They most certainly were rivals.
“Is there anything you wanted to say?” John informed matter of factly.
Jason turned at him with a surprised look on his face: “I just wanted to see you,” he replied.
“Is that so strange?”
John shove dirt into the carpet with his right food ashamed, not looking up at Jason. Jason was well ahead of him, daring to simply become friendly with John. No hard feelings. What happened has happened. They both made mistakes, but Jason had forgiven John for his part. Now it was John's turn to do the same. Jason trusted him to be able to forgive him and take new chances to learn to let each other live their own lives.
“No, it's great to see you again,” John started.
Jason only nodded, hiding from view what he was thinking. Could it be bad? Had he expected more from John? What did he expect of this meeting anyway?
John knew what to say, and how to act. He knew what he had to do.
"I know where we went wrong."
Jason nodded again, his face remained still.
"We can laugh about it now, can't we?"
Jason only smiled: "There wasn't that much to laugh."
"I know that, but that was silly. We were being silly."
"I don't regret us. We were a great team."
"You mean; we could have been?"
"No, we were a great team."
"You really belief that?"
"Yes! We've got potential."
Jason remained silent, his eyes locked on John's, dead on.
"Are you saying we should get back together?"
"I'm saying; we shouldn't have any reasons to avoid each other. I don't think we have any reasons...to avoid each other."
Jason caught the slight hesitation. He averted his eyes while another small smile was forming on his face.
"You're right, we don't have any reasons." At the end of the sentence his eyes were locked with John's again.
Chapter II: This Is Not the End, It's Only the Beginning
A smile was firmly plastered to Jason’s face. When he was making his way to the studio to meet John, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to achieve. He wasn’t sure why he decided he wanted to see John. He told himself he just wanted to make small talk. They made some conversation, deciding they had been silly. Big talk for a small talk. It was nice to know they were on the same wavelength.
Jason stretched his back and sighed contented. This went better than he’d expected, even though he didn’t know what he had expected. He couldn’t belief they were thinking about getting back together. There were enough reasons not to.
Jason always had the feeling; he was not good enough for John. He’s got the feeling John always wanted to change him. He kept telling Jason: ‘Don’t be such an idiot’, or ‘Grow up!’ or ‘Don’t be such a baby’. Or on a lighter note: ‘Maybe you could try wearing this’ or ‘Maybe you could try doing this’. Jason hated that. He wore, said and did the things the way he did, because that was simply who he was. John also always made him feel stupid, or at least not as bright as John was. He had the feeling John thought he was the lesser of them. That was humiliating. Jason cringed at the memories of watching John retreating into his own world where he didn’t need to spell things out to a dumb mind.
These negative thoughts made him fumble nervously with his clothes. He could hear John approaching with their drinks. Quickly he started to push those thoughts out of his mind and replace them with positive thoughts. This was worth a second try. John really was a great lover. He was courteous, sweet, full of passion, compassionate and caring. He made Jason feel wanted and loved.
And he was hot.
John spilled juice as he tried to serve two long drink glasses to the lounge. What did he say? Did he really want to give their relationship a try? It still bugged him Jason never seemed to acknowledge him. For a person so deep into practicing kindness, Jason was mean and self centered. Too many times John had the feeling their lives always somehow ended up being about how Jason felt and what Jason wanted to do. Every time John wanted to do something different, or something Jason wasn’t into, Jason would throw a tantrum. It always ended up in John running away, feeling betrayed but guilty.
Then there were the moments were Jason became completely unpredictable and irrational. There was no fighting him during these moments. John could come up with the strongest and truest arguments, but it wouldn’t hold any value to Jason. Jason would trample John’s heart without consideration and crush it in the most eloquent and humiliating way possible to leave him feeling betrayed and guilty, once again.
There must be a reason why John’s heart wanted to get back. There was the convenient truth of Jason being sweeter than candy. He bought John several watches; because he knew John loved watches.
He once left Polaroid pictures throughout the John’s whole house. It were pictures of himself with their favorite places, objects, or him pretending to be playing their favorite games. Some were saucy, others endearing. In the bedroom he left a Polaroid with text on it saying: ‘Don’t forget me’. And in return, he would carry his phone with camera around everywhere holding it up and talking to it wherever he went, so John could see his face as well.
They spend hours playing computer games, endearingly scowling each other whenever they lost a game. They spend hours watching Polaroid’s from their travels around the world, and reading letters to each other they had send or written to be send, but never did. They would laugh over the silliness of interviews, shows, their fans, their friends, and family and over being on the road. They spend hours just sitting in the sun, dreaming away and glancing at each other every 2 minutes. Smiling, feeling completely in peace and in love.
And he was hot!
John felt his mouth water just watching the mop of hair sticking out above the couch. He wanted to pull his fingers through it, to feel how thick and somehow soft it felt. With wobbly knees he approached Jason, the glasses ringing against each other on the tray. Jason looked up at him, his lips tight and his eyes dark. John hated not to be able to read Jason’s mind.
“You’re nervous? You’re shaking,” Jason asked as he took one glass off the tray.
“Long drink glasses filled to the brim make me nervous,” John grinned hoping he could distract Jason with a mindless joke.
See him sitting there, sipping from his drink all innocent. Watch him being at ease and comfortable. He looks so confident. Look at his arms; he must have been working out. He looks slender and healthy. Is he still into that spiritual stuff?
Jason could feel John’s stare burn. He lowered his glass and looked at John quizzically.
John jerked out of his thoughts into motion, long limbs shaking and spilling half of his drink onto his jeans. Comically he wiped at the stains spilling more juice. He felt so awkward. Jason just sat there, silently watching the scene playing out in front of him. His hands cupped around his glass held in his lap. One eyebrow raised. John really was nervous. Jason didn’t have anything to say, so he let John work it out with red cheeks in embarrassment.
John put his glass on the low table, then wiped again over the stains. There was no saving possible. With his hands in mid-air he looked at Jason through his long eyelashes, his head only slightly tilted. Jason’s expression had changed from immovable to a broad but closed grin. He was obviously holding back laughter.
“You’re laughing at me?” John tried to relieve the situation.
Now Jason couldn’t hold back anymore and he giggled: “Yes.”
John attempted a few more strokes, but the damage was done. Jason was still amused.
“Don’t worry, you’re still looking good.”
John grinned back at him: “I know, but thanks anyway.”
John settled back into his seat. The tension was lifted, at least a little. He became more and more convinced they could do this. This could actually work out. He let his eyes slowly glide over Jason’s body one more time.
“You’re looking good. You’ve been working out?”
Jason never took his eyes off of John. He saw John checking him out. He could even almost see the words forming in his head. More than anyone he knew how much trouble it caused John to think twice before speaking.
“Thanks. As a matter of fact, I have. I’m trying to stay in shape as much as possible. Touring can squeeze quite some energy out of you.”
That was all redundant information, as if John didn’t know. John just nodded in agreement.
“I’ve been working out a little too.”
“I can tell; you look great.”
It was still hard. It was hard to keep the conversation going. Both were running possible things to say through their heads. Both were searching for a way to get to the next level and become comfortable with one another again. They never thought it was so hard to not let the past interfere so fiercely.
A long break. Too long. They both sipped quietly their drinks, eyes avoiding contact. The silence was loud to their ears.
Jason tried to start the conversation all over: “So, what are you up to?”
“Any songs about me?”
“Yes,” John answered truthfully.
It shocked Jason; it threw him off. John noticed, kind of expected it, but his mouth was faster than his brains were. Like so often.
“I had to get a few things off of my chest. A lot has happened between us.”
Jason shifted in his seat, uncomfortable with this new gained knowledge.
“I know,” he agreed timidly.
The conversation fell flat for a second time; John felt stupid for the blunt phrasing and kept from explaining the how’s and the why’s, for the sake of a peaceful continuation.
Jason shifted in his seat some more. He had to get this out of the way: “Could we leave the past behind us, please?”
John sighed through gritted teeth. How could they? The past was something that happened. It was something you couldn’t throw away or dismiss with a single brush of the hand. And it showed so clear, only a few seconds ago. However, he couldn’t let this situation end badly. Not this time. There should be something they could do.
John started his first attempt to work things out: “Jason?”
Jason only turned his head slightly at John, looking at John from the corners of his eyes. His lips were shut tight, pressed into thin lines.
After another sigh, John continued: “If we want to make it work this time, we need to work things out.”
Jason shook his head: “I don’t know, John.”
“What do you mean, ‘You don’t know’? Don’t you want to get back together?”
“I usually don’t get back together with exes.”
“Because it’s stupid.”
“You know what’s stupid? Walking away from a relationship instead of putting some effort in.” John paused, waiting for Jason to reply, which he didn’t.
“Don’t walk away from me, Jason. We both know we can work things out. We can make things work.”
Now it was Jason’s turn to sigh. His eyes were filled with doubt.
“I don’t want to play this game, John. I know how it will go. First everything is roses and happiness, next thing you’re running away from me. I don’t need this. You better go fix your issues first.”
“My issues!?” John spat out.
“What about your issues!?”
“You are my issues, John!”
“Get out!!!” John was now screaming.
If Jason didn’t leave this instant, John wasn’t sure he would be able to keep himself in control. Gone were all the longings to have him back. Gone were John’s cravings to do things to Jason which were R rated.
Cautiously, Jason started to get up and get his stuff together. He swiftly let his eyes wander to John, but he didn’t dare too look him straight in the eyes.
“Fine,” he whispered as he started to walk out of the studio. He could hear John huffing behind him, like a bull aiming to hit the rodeo clown. When outside, Jason turned at John for the last time before leaving.
“We’ve got a good starting point this time, though.”
John’s mouth and eyes were dark with anger: “The end is not the beginning, Jason.”
Then he slapped the door shut in Jason’s face.
Chapter III: You’ve Got To Meet Me In the Middle
You hear it sometimes. You want to commit yourself to someone, but you end up breaking up. There was something so wrong about that.
John stood leaning against the door trying to get his breathing and his mind back in control. He couldn’t believe what just happened. That was never his intention. He couldn’t believe Jason let that happen. How could he have said that? John was mad and sad it ended this way. They might have a lot to work out; especially Jason. John still wanted him back, because he cared. He loved Jason. It couldn’t be any simpler.
Slowly he made his way back to the studio. He needed to get his head clear. He needed to distract himself from thinking over and over about what just happened. He could feel his fingers tingle with desire to play. The love which never let him down. The one he could play without ending up being blamed. His guitar never failed in soothing his mind.
It wasn’t the plan to play all afternoon. It wasn’t the plan to create even more half finished songs, or ideas waiting to be written into a song. It was the perfect way to relieve stress, to get his thoughts ordered and find back his initial peace of mind. That was all he asked for. Pen and paper, his guitar and the sound console gave him that. Helping John to get him out of his mind and move on. Jason was not worth raising blood pressure and calling off recording.
Jason’s encounter with John was still weighing heavy on Jason’s stomach. His feet felt heavier with every step. It was almost impossible to move forward; he was held back by John’s voice chanting continuously ‘What about your issues?’ Jason knew John was right, but going back there scared the shit out of Jason. He couldn’t face failure; failure was not an option. He could not take the blame, he just couldn’t. It couldn’t be true everything always was his mistake. He was not a bad person.
Jason dragged himself to the park to sit on a bench in the sun, trying to forget the stupidity he committed. He watched couples, young and old, happy and quarreling. They were all together. He was alone, sulking over a love he damaged himself. It became clear to him, if he wanted to get back, he had to say sorry. In the back of his head he always knew that.
“I was wrong.”
It was the rarest of sentences John ever heard from Jason. Jason was not the kind of person who apologized. He’d offend, he’d run, come back, and act as if nothing ever happened. John let that happen so many times, because he knew Jason really was sorry.
“You needed a whole week to figure that out?”
“No...” Jason was staring at his feet, because he was too ashamed to face John.
“I needed that week to figure out how I can make it up.”
John swallowed a lump of emotion; it got stuck in his throat. He didn’t want to give in too quickly; Jason didn’t deserve that. Thing was, John was touched by that last sentence.
“Let’s start over,” he suggested.
Jason sighed relieved: “Thank you.”
“This is not gonna be easy, Jason.”
“We’ve got a lot to work out.”
John studied Jason. He looked beaten. He looked like a little child, caught stealing some candy. He played with his fingers, his mouth slightly opened and his eyes averted from John. John wondered if he should invite him inside, though he didn’t feel like it.
After a while Jason looked up: “You want to come and have dinner with me this evening? I’ll cook.”
John’s eyes lit up in surprise: “Yes, that would be nice.”
Chad followed John roaming through his clothes interested. John hadn’t said much since he came back home. His mind seemed preoccupied with something. So far, Chad didn’t find out with what. To every question Chad only got an indefinable mumble. He knew John pretty well; still John surprised or confused him occasionally.
John pulled several pieces of clothing out of the closet. He tried everything on, judging himself in the mirror or looking at Chad expecting to get a judgment. Chad asked several times what the occasion was, to which John consequently answered: ‘Going out’. John put on another set of clothes and turned to Chad. Chad looked up at John frowning.
“What’s so damn special to get all dressed up for?”
“I told you; going out.”
“Can I come?”
John was already fiddling himself out of the clothes to try another combination. Without even looking up he muttered: “No.”
Chad leaned back propping himself up with his arms to continue watching John in his clothes-frenzy.
“Going out on a date?”
John dropped the shirt to the ground, finally turning his full attention to Chad: “Uhm, yeah...”
A victorious grin appeared on Chad’s face: “Is she hot? Do I know her? Who is it?”
John grimaced, a painful look in his eyes: “Uhm...”
“Who?” Chad encouraged John.
John dove back into the closet in a hurry while hardly audible muttering: “Jason.”
The grin fell off of Chad’s face. Did he hear right?
“Did you say ‘Jason’, as in Jason Mraz?” he inquired.
More indefinable muttering.
John leaped out of the closet, clenching a blue shirt in his fists. Irritated he eyed Chad: “It’s been a long time. A lot has happened since.”
“Have you forgotten what happened in the past?”
“No, but we are both grown ups and we can overcome these mistakes.”
Chad sighed. “I just think it’s not a good idea.”
John shot Chad another irritated glance before putting his full attention to buttoning his shirt.
John obviously wasn’t in the mood for discussion and maybe he was right. They were just boys, and they grew into men. A lot might have changed, for the best.
“That definitely looks smart. He’ll fall head over heels for you.”
John twirled around in front of the mirror taking a good look. Black jeans over a blue shirt, sneakers underneath. Not too formal, not too casual.
“Yeah?” he confirmed with a sliver of doubt.
Chad nodded: “Yeah.”
“You’re leaving, right?”
Billy pulled a face; it was the umpteenth time Jason asked. Maybe because it took Jason a lot of begging and several promises to clean his clothes and his bedroom for him, and cooking for the next two months.
“Yeah, yeah,” Billy confirmed.
“Good,” he got back to his cooking. Billy could tell Jason was nervous. He was running around, not finding any coordination. He replaced objects without reason, cleaned the table at least 5 times and screwed up the food he was cooking. Billy had watched Jason going through drama twice already. Burning food, dropping food, and making an overall mess of the kitchen. That was not Jason’s style at all. Jason was usually organized and tidy. Not today, he wasn’t.
“Who you’re cooking for?”
Jason acted as if he didn’t hear.
“Just a friend.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Okay,” Jason put a kettle down with a loud cling. “If you really must know, it’s John.”
Not knowing what to think Billy gazed at Jason. Slowly it dawned on him.
“Not Mayer again? Why?”
“Because I like him.”
“And I like Santa, but I’m not dating him.”
Jason’s face remained inmoved: “No, cause that would be weird.”
“Oh, c’mon Jason! You can get better.”
Jason shook his head and returned to the stove. “No, John is all I need.”
“Why would you go back to him? He’s an asshole. It’s not like he let you down once.”
“Knock it off, you’re not gonna change my mind.”
Billy slid off of the kitchen table shaking his head. He left Jason one last comment before disappearing to his room: “Think deep before you decide to take him back.”
Jason didn’t return a reply as he watched Billy walking away.
Jason almost tripped running his way to the front door after the bell rang. He was eager to please, it had to be perfect. He adjusted his composure before opening the door. He tried to look calm and in control, and friendly and welcoming.
John only needed the smallest of cracks to see Jason behind it. Like in slow motion the door opened to reveal an obviously nervous Jason. Despite his nerves he looked smashing in blue jeans and white shirt. John also noticed a stain on his sleeve, probably from cooking. He stared a little too long at it, Jason noticed John watching his sleeve. He blushed bright red when he realized his perfection was faltered by the brown sauce he was stirring. John looked perfect in blue and black, the brown belt perfecting his appearance. After all, John didn’t have to stir brown sauce.
Jason recollected his confidence and invited John in.
The hallway seemed smaller than John remembered. The house felt strangely familiar. John tried hard to remember where the living room was, and the kitchen. Slowly he made his way through the hallway looking around like had never been there. Jason led him into the living room where a table was made ready for dinner for two. John was impressed; it looked fancy.
“I hope the food is as good as the table looks,” he joked.
Jason smiled nervously and signed at the chair: “Sit down. You want wine?”
It happened all so fast. Jason pouring wine in a glass. Jason running into the kitchen to get food and running back in with a steaming hot bowl.
“I hope you like it.”
It started off not so smoothly. They found it hard to start conversation. Stoic they ate dinner, only exchanging words of compliments on the food and gratitude. If they really wanted to start over, they had to talk. Neither of them had the courage to start. They felt uneasy during dinner, but at least they could focus on eating. After dinner the silences became painful. Jason was the first to find some courage.
“I’m really sorry I blamed everything on you. I made mistakes as well.”
“Thank you for acknowledging that.”
John let his eyes glide over Jason’s frame. Jason grew into a man during John’s absence. He was not the fun loving and careless boy he used to be. The angelic features became stronger in appearance and some stubble covered Jason’s chin. His eyes didn’t change that much, those were still changeable and unreadable.
Jason also took the second step: “Where should we start?” his voice was timid and soft.
John’s was harder, firmer than Jason’s: “I can tell you my side.”
Jason remained still gazing at John. John checked for a reaction, and when he didn’t get one he started.
“You made me scared to do or say anything. I was always scared I’d upset you, because every time I said or do something you didn’t like, you starting yelling and making a scene. Also, I felt like we never did whatever I wanted, only what you wanted. You made me feel like I had to tip toe around you all the time. You were often irrational and unreasonable. I constantly had the feeling it had no use arguing with you, cause you always turned everything in your advance. You behaved like a cocky and spoiled little brat.”
Jason remained silent throughout John’s whole complaint. He didn’t know what to say. John made himself perfectly clear. It left Jason shaken in his seat. Never before anyone told him the truth so blunt and direct. There was nothing he could say.
John waited to see what Jason would do. To John’s surprise Jason didn’t protest. He let it dawn on him with wide eyes. John needed to know.
“You need to work on that. Let me have my say from time to time. I need you to do that if you want me back.”
Jason’s mouth opened gasping for air, still not able to form words.
John insisted on receiving a reply: “Can you do that for me?”
Jason’s eyes still wide, filled with pain and hope at the same time. He slowly nodded: “Yes, I can do that.” Then he let his head hang, still trying to catch his breath and his tears.
John felt the love he once felt for Jason rushing back. He stood to go sit down on his heels in front of Jason. Jason hands were tightly clenched into fists, his fingernails digging into his flesh. John put a hand on Jason’s shoulder pulling closer to embrace him. Jason indulged in the embrace hiding his face against John’s bare arm. They stayed like this for a while till Jason pulled free shaking his head.
“What do you want from me? Do you want me to change and disregard who I am?”
“I’m not asking you to disregard who you are.”
“It feels like you do, John. This is exactly why we broke up.”
“If you don’t want to change, than it has no use trying to work things out.”
“What about you? You could do some work as well.”
John stood up during the conversation losing the hope for a reunion. He was towering over Jason making Jason feel even smaller.
“Sit down, John. Now it’s my turn.”
John was afraid for the outcome. It wouldn’t be fair to not listen to what Jason had to say. Something told John it was about to get complicated. Reluctantly John went back to his own seat to let Jason have his say.
“You always make me feel stupid, as if I’m not worth it. You always patronize me. I’m a big boy, John. I can make my own decisions, and I do things my way. You just gonna have to accept me the way I am. Sure, I can work on a few things, but so should you.”
John bit his lip. He understood their problems with each other collided completely. Jason saw it too. They sat silently, not knowing what to do. This was hard. It seemed like they had to compromise to get somewhere. It was something they knew already, but they never knew how to stay happy within these compromises.
Jason sighed: “I don’t want to give up. What if I try to listen to you a bit better and you stop trying to change me completely? I’ll promise I’ll work on my behavior and become better.”
“I’ll try to accept your ways, but I can’t promise to keep quiet completely,” John agreed.
Jason nodded: “That’s fine. We can always talk, right?”
“Yes, we can. We’re gonna have to meet each other in the middle here.”
John was happy with the outcome; not so much with the doubt in Jason’s eyes. John was aware of the challenge they set to overcome. It was not going to be easy. Time would tell if they’d survive.
Chapter IV What We Want
The first time together since they got back together. They were still feeling a little uneasy. It didn’t flow naturally, like it once did. John thought it was a good idea to start off slowly. They were going to a remote place, where they could be without being followed all the time. The time would be all theirs and so would the place. No one to spoil or influence them; they had to make up their own minds. They had to talk a little more and find the best starting point. For as far the outlook was, in John’s opinion; they had some battles to fight. John was fearing the battles, though not as much he was fearing the outcome.
John picked Jason up to go to the airport. Jason’s best friend, Billy was watching them loading in Jason’s suitcase. John could tell he wasn’t excited about their reunion, like Chad hadn’t been either. It was none of their business; he and Jason knew why. John believed in them; they could make it happen. He wondered what Jason thought. Over the years John became quite good in reading people’s minds. Jason, however, was not a regular person. He spoke his mind in public, letting the world know how he thought about life. He was a master in making believe; people knew little about him. Truth was, of all the people John ever met, Jason was the one hardest to read. His heart might be open, but the path towards it was long and hardly accessible.
They didn’t talk much on the way to the airport. Just small conversations about the weather, the traveling ahead and where they were going. Then the silence returned. John's eyes were half on the road and half on Jason. Jason sat in the passenger's seat watching the world go by. He looked so damn pretty in his own way. John was amazed all over again. His appearance always calmed John down. There was no need for rush and restlessness. John missed the light in his eyes; they were shielded by sunglasses. The shades made him look cool in an unusual way. Jason's peaceful attitude made John calmer and happier. It made driving the few miles to the airport look like a walk in the sun. Still, John wasn't quite there with the peace.
He had to make conversation. He learnt to be silent around the people he loved most. He used to be able to be silent around Jason and be contented. They would sit side by side, both dreaming away. Nothing to interrupt they're being together so calm. Their parting made John restless. He forgot how to be comfortable around Jason. He was desperate to make conversation:
“Remember how it used to be?”
Jason turned his attention on John: “How it used to be?” he repeated.
John quickly returned his gaze back to the road, still not quite sure how to look Jason in the eyes. Jason’s questioning answer sounded like a complaint.
“Of course I remember how we used to be.”
Jason studied John's face; John pretended to be occupied by the traffic. To ask for something he already knew was apparently the sin. He acted as if he really didn’t know. He was pushing the wrong buttons. It was way too early to take the wrong path.
“It was a lot of fun,” Jason continued.
For an outsider it would have sounded not genuine. Jason’s face remained still, like so many times. It was part of his disguise, or his way of confusing people or keeping them at bay. John should be used to it by now, but it still unsettled him. Jason was a closed book. It left him guessing how Jason really felt about them as a couple.
Jason stared at the road with John, following the cars passing. He noticed John trying too hard concentrating, not on him, but on not paying too much attention to him. Jason could tell he was failing. He knew John was trying to see through him and failing. It wasn’t on purpose, or at least not completely on purpose. It was just he rather kept things to himself. Not everybody needed to know or understood how his system worked, or failed him. Maybe he was ashamed of who he was. He was trying, he was honestly trying. Maybe Jason didn’t believe. It wasn’t John he wasn’t sure about, it was himself or the way John tried to handle him. Jason needed John so bad. He could not tell, he could not show. Something was holding him back. But he needed to make this work.
“I want it back,” this was as far he could go.
John didn’t expect the conversation to continue: “What?”
“I want back what we used to have,” Jason explained. “We were good.”
A few summers back, when everything was still new and exciting. It was their first shared holiday. That summer, they couldn’t imagine a life without being that way. Jason loved John's high pitched laugh. John was unapologetic and always convinced of his own. He was weird in his sense of humor and it amused Jason. John brought his boyish quality to their relationship, as did Jason. It was their starting point. That was were they were together and understood. Them against coming of age.
John was still laughing when they got back to their hotel room: “Did you see her face?” he grinned at Jason.
Jason giggled a little: “Sure did. You are so funny, you tease you.”
“You want me to tease you?”
Jason hummed a positive sound.
John grabbed Jason's hip and pulled him close. Softly he pecked a kiss on his lips. They twirled around holding one another, like two lovers in a slow dance. Softly taking pieces of lips, cheeks, noses and chins between lips and teeth. Playfully showing how much they cared. They danced around the room, their hands dancing on bodies. John was the most eager; he put his hands underneath Jason's shirt. His hands stroking over hot skin. Touching and tickling, causing Goosebumps. Still kissing gently. Jason indulged in John's game and lifted his arms for John to pull the shirt over his head. The shirt got clumsily stuck under Jason's chin first and then under his nose before John managed to get it off of Jason. Their lips reconnecting as soon they were back out in the open.
Jason pushed his skinny body up against John. John held Jason's face in both hands showing affection. Jason buried his hands underneath John's shirt slowly pulling it up. Their lips breaking away to move the shirt over John's pouty lips. Jason caught them quick with his own after the shirt passed the lips. John blinded by shirt trusted on Jason's lips to guide him. Jason did a better job undoing John's shirt. Jason dropped the shirt and guided John away from the shirts to the next room. Dancing on, never losing contact. Their hands on their bodies, their lips gracing their faces.
It was great to know there was someone caring enough to try loving. It was great to have a buddy understanding completely where you come from. Someone so close to play with you. It was all said in touching.
Jason helped John getting rid of their pants. John kissed Jason’s forehead lovingly. He pulled the thin frame closer wanting, no needing to feel he was there with him. His hands in the small of Jason’s back. Moving from back to his sides and holding slim hips. Gently his hands up over his back and tickling his spine to find moving shoulder blades. Jason’s hands squeezing and massaging the soft flesh on John’s butt. Jason let John pulling him and pushing into him. He lifted his face to receive more kisses. John guided him backwards towards the bed. Jason sat down holding on to his underwear and pulling expecting John to join him. John put his knees on either side of Jason as he sat down in his lap. As soon as he could he took possession of Jason’s lips. John loved the feel of the soft lips between his. He loved the softness and sweetness, Jason’s tongue touching and darting over his lips and inside his mouth. John replaced his hands around Jason’s face. He could feel Jason’s hands around him, holding and caressing him. Slowly John pushed Jason over onto the soft bed. With one hand he caught himself, with the other hand holding Jason’s head controlling the speed in which they were falling. He crawled further up on Jason, adjusting to align with Jason’s body. Their lips never broke contact. Their eyes closed, allowing to escape to a safe world in which loving was all that existed.
John was losing himself in all the feelings. His mouth filled with the sweetness which was Jason. Jason’s chest lifting John gently and letting him descend. His body being pressed deeply into Jason’s. The excitement of close contact in sensitive areas. The excitement of feeling Jason was feeling the same way. John stroked fingers softly through Jason’s hair, showing affection and love. His other hand went discovering the surface of Jason’s tanned and steaming skin. John loved how Jason shivered a little as he ran his fingers along his side from his armpits down to his hips. In return Jason startled him with cold hands put on his back.
John let go of Jason’s lips to see a wicked smile. He could think of a million things to say, but he didn’t. Instead he returned his mouth to Jason’s to bite in his lip gently. He pushed his hard on into Jason receiving a moan as he met Jason’s. The rubbed against each other enjoying every movement, every friction and warmth. John popped his lips off of Jason’s to concentrate on his grinding. He opened his brown eyes to see Jason’s. They were a bright green surprising John. Their eyes locked, looking deep into each others eyes. Jason’s hands were warming on John’s back as he dug in his fingers. Their breathing growing faster and heavier, together in rhythm.
“John,” Jason’s voice startled John.
“You missed the exit.”
“Oh, sorry.” John felt lame for losing himself in a memory.
Jason was relieved he wasn’t the only one dreaming away.
The reasons of why rolled through John’s mind regularly. Maybe they got caught up in the smoke of Jason’s cigarettes or his joints. Maybe they got caught up in John’s rising star, or the sparking attention. They dwelled on the good times too long. They refused to see they were falling apart. It never is easy to end such a committed and deep relationship. Maybe altogether it was not meant to be, not at that point.
And now, they took a long time to find out they couldn’t do without. They refused to think of where they went wrong, let alone talk about it. The only thing they could think of, of doing, was starting over and see how it goes. It might be a dangerous approach, but it could work. The problems would show all and give them reason to think, and their past will give them the reason to act different. They decided to go this way without discussing it; it was simply how they would do it. John could tell by Jason’s nervous smile and the anxious eyes he agreed. John could tell by how Jason touched him as he tried to get his bag out of the car. Also the looks they exchanged made things clear.
Looking down to see the land like a blanket of colors swooping away. It was fascinating to see and trying to recognize places. It was traveling easier than traveling through life. John took the window seat, because he knew he needed the distraction more than Jason. Jason would probably doze off into a dream. John enjoyed the warmth coming from Jason. It kept reminding him Jason was close and with him. If he wanted to, he could touch him. He didn’t even have to reach out. It was great to know Jason was traveling with him. If only all the rest could be this simple.
Jason leaned slightly towards John to take a glance out of the window. Secretly he was trying to get closer to John. Their arms touched lightly. John turned his head to see Jason stretching his neck to look out of the window. Their faces were close; John resisted to kiss him. John was staring at him a little too obvious. Jason retreated when he had seen what he wanted to see. He looked John’s face up and down ending where his eyes were. He wasn’t smiling, but the expression John read in his eyes was enough to fulfill him with satisfaction. Jason should smile way more often. He looked so beautiful with a smile on his face. Maybe because the scarce times he smiled, he meant to; it wasn't a fake smile. John wished he could smile like that. He could only snigger, or laugh a high pitched crazed smile, of which he was secretly embarrassed.
Jason leaned back into his chair, his head flopping back against the headrest. John watched him silently. He looked so peaceful and sweet with his eyes closed and his breathing leveled. John let his eyes hungrily slide over Jason’s body. He was dressed casually, in real travel fashion. Jason was one of these persons who didn’t need to dress up to look great. This outfit of a simple white shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers made him look like the boy next door; the one you could always approach to ask if he could help for a minute.
John noticed the new tattoo on his left forearm before, but he didn’t get the chance to study it a little closer. Like an obsessed fan he tried to keep updated about Jason’s where’s and what’s. He couldn’t quit make out what the image was supposed to be. He could distinguish the figures of a male and a female and some written data around the male figure; the meaning of the tattoo got lost on him. It must mean something, cause Jason loved the symbolic meaning of images and expressions. John was so occupied with thinking of what it could mean; he didn’t notice Jason became beware of it.
“The male is me, the female my future partner.”
Startled John’s eyes widened; the meaning of the tattoo kind of bothered him.
“I was a coward for telling the guy it should be a sexless figure. Also I wasn’t sure what a sexless figure looks like.”
Jason paused giving John the chance to react. John’s only reaction was remaining from speaking or moving; his eyes fixated on Jason.
“John, I’m bi. You know that. Right now, I’m in love with you.”
John was still not able to react in any way.
“I promise I’m thinking of a way to fix it,” Jason tried one last time.
John turned away from Jason leaning back in his chair. His arms stiff on the armrests, trying hard not to touch Jason’s arm. Jason never meant to shut John out of his life; that tattoo was the result of a period in which Jason had grown tired of all the problems concerning dating someone of his own sex. He didn’t really regret it, because the meaning still rang clear for Jason and it was something he still stood for. He still hoped to find that one person, it didn’t necessarily have to be someone of the opposite sex.
“Johnny,” he whispered worried. “I’m gonna fix it, I promise.”
He softly touched John’s hand searching for reassurance. John pulled his hand away to put it on Jason’s giving him the reassurance.
Chapter V Friends, Lovers or Nothing?
The bungalow was small, though big enough for John and Jason. It had this typical holiday feel to it. They entered through the small hallway into the living room. The living room was surprisingly spacious and light. The entrance was right under the stairs; John had to watch out not to bump his head. It was a perfect place to keep their suitcases for now. The room was brightly lit by the sun. The sun came through three huge windows and a door in the back of the room. They reached from knee height till the ceiling and gave view on a wooden terrace and behind that a large lake. John calculated the sun would be there from morning till the afternoon. It was the perfect place to be in the morning; for having breakfast in the rising sun.
In the center of the room stood a table against the right wall with four chairs around it. On the left in a corner was a large lounge couch. It was the largest and comfiest couch John had ever seen. Jason was impressed too and tried the couch out immediately. He flopped down in a corner of the couch underlining the sheer size of it. Sitting in the far back of the corner Jason wasn’t able to put his feet on the ground. He signaled John to come sit with him adjusting his legs onto the couch stretching them out. He patted next to him:
“This couch is amazing!”
John, still standing and watching, watched Jason amused. He took his jacket off and put it on the table revealing his tattooed arms. Slowly he made his way to Jason and the couch looking for the best seat. He chose the other corner. Quietly he sank down in his corner seeing Jason being a bit disappointed from the corner of his eyes. Instantly he felt guilty to have chosen to sit alone instead with Jason.
“Why you’re sitting so far away?”
John was guilty. He pushed himself up to move closer to Jason. He hardly made it halfway through; Jason already grabbed him and pulled him right into his embrace.
An unconscious smile appeared on his face as he snuggled deeper into Jason’s side. Jason let John put his arms behind his back and around him to hug closer. Happy he rested his head on John’s shoulder. This was what he had been looking for, ever since he had lost John. John closed his eyes while he rested his cheek against Jason’s head. John could sit with Jason like that for the rest of the day. He listened to the small sounds of water coming from outside. He listened to Jason dozing off. Everything was in balance. John wished hard they would never change; he wished they would stay this way, even though he knew better.
He sat on the wooden terrace near the water, his legs folded and a grey sleeved notepad in his lap. He always wrote songs out of experience, or poetry, journals and short stories for that matter. It was the best way to get rid of frustration or to relieve stress from his own torture of being someone far from perfect. Like that afternoon. They arrived early in the holiday cottage, so they could go out and pick up some tourist guides and plan what they wanted to do. Instead they stayed on the couch huddled together enjoying the simplicity of doing nothing at all. No talking, no confrontation. No fighting over what they should do. They left their bags unpacked so they didn't have to chose their side of the bed, yet. They could hold life off for a while and pretend they were perfect lovers.
Jason was still dodging confrontation when John went hungry and figured they should do some shopping. He was staying silent having John decide they should order Chines food or pizza. As soon action had to be taken Jason retreated to the back of the house leaving John to it. He was too afraid he would spoil the perfection, so he unpacked his guitar to go sit on his own and play and write the first angst into a song. He couldn't stay out of the game; he was one of the contestants. For tonight he could keep it up. He'll let John chose his side of the bed and decide what they should do. Meanwhile Jason would drift off and dream how it should be.
The dim light filled the room with a yellow light softening the hard white walls of their bedroom. Jason was already under the clean, slightly stiff sheets. He watched John getting ready to get in. It was the first time since three years they shared a bed and a night. Sleeping together might be the most personal part in a relationship, it also was the easiest. Whatever happened in their sleep couldn't be held over their heads and tear them apart. Jason longed to feel John's body next to him. The warmth radiating through the sheets fueling Jason's desire. Jason loved feeling movement next to him, knowing John was life and a being capable of loving. He was not the one going to take the first step. He would stay quiet and still on his side waiting for John to turnover and face him.
John took longer than he normally would. It was the first time in three years he was going to spend a bed with Jason. Whenever he would turnover, Jason would be there; probably staring at him somehow expectantly. John stood with his back to the bed taking extra time to fold his clothes neatly on the chair. He sat down on the bed, still avoiding eye contact. Slowly he crawled facing his nightstand and the clock on it. He checked the clock then he let his body lay down. He pulled the sheets up to his chest and sighed as if he reviewed a day of hard work. He could feel Jason's eyes burning in his back. He had to turnover, Jason wouldn't let him fall asleep this way.
As if there were a million ways to turn over, John thought long before he actually did. When he did, Jason was there, wide eyed, his hands clutching the sheet to his chest. John went into these eyes drowning immediately. With another sigh he crawled closer to Jason. He put one arm over Jason's shoulder, the other one he slipped under Jason's side. Jason crawled into John and rested his head against John's shoulder.
“There we are.”
John stared at Jason's clean clothes folded on a low table, waiting for duty the next morning. John sniffed Jason's hair recognizing the characteristic smell belonging to Jason. The smell of the shampoo mixed with a light spicy odor and something John never managed to identify. It wasn't a bad smell, it was something different.
“Yes, there we are,” he mumbled into Jason's hair.
Jason's voice sounded muffled through the fabric of John's t-shirt: “Are you afraid?”
“Of us. Of how we're gonna do this?”
It didn't cross John's mind yet, to be afraid. He didn't want to be afraid, so he suppressed it. He was afraid though.
“I'm a little nervous, but we'll be fine. I promise you.”
John was slumbering, finally. He was too occupied thinking of Jason. Jason took a long time to fall asleep as well. They listened to each other breathing till Jason's breathing leveled. Only then John realized he had been tense. He had nearly been holding his breath and laying in such position ready to jump up. When Jason fell asleep John finally relaxed; he could feel the tension flowing away. At last John was comforted and relaxed enough to drift off himself. The dark blue night outside was beautiful; John saw it from his side of the bed. He could hear the water splashing against stones and bricks. It helped calming John, like the silence of the night. Slowly he drifted off into a dream. A dream about them. About what could happen and what he hoped for. Pieces of the passed day came by like Polaroids lined up to be seen. There was no cloud in the sky, there were no wrinkles in the water; everything was still and in peace.
The blow was unexpected and hard, right in the middle of John's face. He sat up right instantly. The dark was being in the way; John's mind couldn't decide what happened, why he was wide awake all of a sudden. Dazed John tried to clear his mind. His lips and his nose were glowing hot; it wasn't a dream, that blow actually happened. John tasted blood. He felt his glowing lip and winced when he touched his nose. More blood, now dripping on the bright white sheets. Slowly it dawned on John; he wasn't at home. He wasn't alone. He was in a holiday cottage with Jason. John looked to his left to see Jason wrestling the sheets. What was happening? Was he having a nightmare? It sure looked like it. Like in slow motion John reached out to Jason and shook his shoulder trying to wake him up. The result was Jason slapping wildly around him nearly hitting John in the face once more.
“J, wake up. You're having a nightmare.”
Jason wiped again John's hand roughly and put his hands against John's chest pushing John hard out of bed. John stood within a second to stare and check if he was awake. He didn't seem awake; he was back to wrestling the sheets. He was pleading someone to stop. It sounded desperate and scared. John climbed back upon the bed grabbing Jason tightly and shaking him hard.
“Jason, wake up!”
With a scream Jason sat right up in bed now fighting to get away from John's grip. John tried to calm him down raising his voice trying to get through to Jason. John tried to pull him closer to hold him, comfort him till the deafening silence fell on them. For a while Jason fought him, still scared not understanding where he was with who. It took John several minutes to make him understand and calm him down. Finally Jason collapsed into John's arms shaking.
They hadn't talked yet. Jason got up early. When John arose from the bed, Jason was swimming in the lake. John took his time waking up, getting dressed, making breakfast and coffee and remembering what happened that night. He didn't want to force Jason to talk, but he was really curious about what was going on. What had he been dreaming about? It must have been real bad. Jason was shaking violently and it took John at least an hour to calm him down enough to put him back under the sheets, and it took another hour to get him back to sleep. John had done all the talking; Jason never said a word.
With a fresh cup of coffee John went outside to watch Jason swim. It was amazingly beautiful outside. The lake reflected the sun and the light creating colorful and playful shapes on the walls. The trees and the flowers gave the whole lake area a paradise feel. There were birds singing everywhere and ducks swimming peacefully. John sipped his coffee and went sitting on the edge of the terrace. It was bliss sitting there like that, with his feet in the water. He watched Jason floating around with the ducks. He never turned back to see John. John felt something of pain around Jason. It was all around him. A feeling of worry crept upon him; if only he talked. What goes on in his head? Jason was always singing so he didn't have to talk about the things that mattered to him. John could never tell the difference between the things that were him and the things that were others he wrote about. It was another way of hiding and disguising his true identity. He often wrote about love. By doing so he could pretend that was what he was living not lacking. If only he would talk.
John stared at Jason feeling so far away from him. This was not what should happen. They came here to get closer, instead something happened which drove Jason away from John. This would be the perfect moment to search for constellation from John. Instead Jason kept it to himself and put it away deep where John wouldn't be able to reach it. Again Jason was leaving John guessing.
Jason swam back easy. He saw John sitting there, his hands around a big mug. He saw John's eyes. He wanted to take away the pain, the wonder and worry. There was no way he was going to tell John what happened last night. He was thankful for John to be there right then, but that was as far he could go.
“Are you all right?” the worry apparent in his voice.
Jason looked John in the eyes shortly. He was too ashamed and really didn't want to talk about his nightmare. John wanted to know, Jason knew that. He was not going to let go that easy.
“You want to talk about it?”
Jason shook his head, drops of water flying around: “I'm fine John.”
“You didn't look so fine last night.”
“It was just a nightmare, nothing to worry about.”
“What was it about?”
“John, stop it!” Jason was already getting a little annoyed.
He turned his back at John while he dried himself with a towel. He slipped on his flip flops smoothly and retreated inside. John watched him with a frown. If it wasn't that bad, then why didn't he want to talk about it? It seemed to be a big deal, why else was he fleeing?
John was still thinking of a way to make Jason talk when he heard him say: “If you stop talking about it I'll make you my latest specialty.”
John turned around; Jason was leaning against the door hanging half out of the house with a sweet grin. John melted seeing him like that despite the speedo Jason was wearing. Reluctant John agreed not to ask anymore. With a thumbs up and 'Great!' Jason went back to the kitchen to do whatever he was going to do. His voice sounded faint coming from the kitchen: “You're gonna love my chocomole!”