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Dear Jack,

Seven.

“Alex…You have to eat something.” Rian murmurs as he takes a seat beside me, a plate of steaming pasta and cheese sauce held tightly in his hands; which he offers towards me, but I just shake my head and wrap my arms tighter around my knees. This action just causes Rian to let out a frustrated sigh before looking at me pleadingly, willing me to just eat something. “Please? You don’t have to eat it all…Just a little bit would be something.”

I don’t say anything in response to him; I just remain as still and silent as possible. In all honesty, that’s all that I’ve been doing lately; sitting quietly, not uttering a single word to anyone. It’s been two weeks since my Grandma’s funeral, two weeks since I said goodbye to the last remaining family member that I had. I’ve finally stopped crying, it wasn’t getting me anywhere and to be honest, I don’t think that I have anything left in me to cry. Since my Grandma died I haven’t left the house, I haven’t been to any of my classes, not that I would have wanted to in the state that I was in but still, what irks me the most is the fact that not one single so called ‘friend’ or teacher at that University has been bothered to call and see why I haven’t been turning up. Except Rian of course, he’s been staying with me since he found me surrounded by the alcohol after brutally busting the front door open. In other words, he’s basically moved himself into my Grandma’s…into my house; which is a good thing because if he hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t still be here right now. I owe Rian a lot, probably a lot more than both he and I realize.

To say that I haven’t been myself would be the biggest understatement of the year. I’ve been so caught up in my grief that I haven’t been eating anything; I must admit that on more than one occasion Rian has had to force something down my throat to make sure that I have something. He’s even gone to the extreme of taking me to the hospital to get the doctors to put me on an IV drip so that I could recover from passing out due to the dehydration and of course from not eating. When I woke up attached to the IV drip the first time round, I couldn’t help but scowl at Rian for bringing me back to that place…to the place where my Grandma...I shut my eyes and shake my head vigorously, letting a few stray tears streak down my cheeks before hastily wiping them away with a trembling hand. I can’t think about that right now, and I most certainly can’t blame Rian for doing what he did. He saved my life, I just wish that I could get over this feeling of loss and emptiness so that I can start paying him back for everything but…it’s just too hard. I know that I’ve been through this before, I should be able to handle this, but my Grandma was the closest person in the family to me, she was there whenever I needed her for anything, she understood me and listened to my problems. Hell, she even took me in when my parents and brother died. Now she’s gone and I’m all alone for the second time ever in my life.

We both sit in silence for a few moments. Rian was sitting so that he was facing me; his eyes never leaving me for a single second whereas I was sitting so that I was huddled up at the furthest end of the couch, my bloodshot eyes staring at the plain white wall in front of me and all the while wishing that I could just fall asleep for a few hours without all of the nightmares appearing again. The smell of the pasta and cheese sauce that Rian had made for me was making me feel nauseous and I had to clench my eyes shut as the faint rumble of hunger caused a sharp pain to spread throughout my stomach and up to my chest. Letting out a small groan, I turn away from Rian and the food that he held out to me.

“Do we really have to keep going through this same routine every time that I bring you something to eat? Or do you just want to skip the passing out stage and have me take you straight back to the hospital for them to hook you up to yet another IV again?” Rian asks, his expression pleading but his voice tinted with a hard edge that made me flinch away from him. He must have spotted this little movement as the next thing I know, he’s speaking in a softer and more understanding tone. “Listen, I know that you’re hurting and that you’re feeling a little lost and empty inside but I want you to know that I’m here for you. I’ll listen to you and you know that I won’t leave you as that’s not what best friends do. I’m here and looking after you because I care about you…I’m worried about you, Alex.”

“I know that you are.” I reply in a small voice, my words breaking in parts from lack of use. I take in a deep breath and lick my lips before sitting up a little straighter, taking my time turning to face him as I mull his words over in my head. “I really appreciate all that you’ve done for me the past couple of weeks, seriously Rian you don’t know how grateful that I am for you staying with me. My Grandma was right when she said that you were good for me; you’re the only friend of mine, limited as they are, that she really approved of. I know that I haven’t exactly been the best of company lately…which is actually quite a big understatement but believe me I am trying to get myself back together again. It’s just going to take me a little more time and if it weren’t for you…”

“Alex, don’t. You don’t have to explain anything to me, I get it. It’s fine.” Rian says softly. He places the plate of pasta onto the coffee table and places a hand onto my shoulder, causing me to look up and stare into his dark chocolate coloured eyes. “Your Grandma was an absolutely incredible woman; I am honoured to have known her. Her passing affected a lot of people, but more so you as your bond with her was a strong and admirable one. I know that it’s not much comfort but she loved you and she did an outstanding job raising you; you’re a strong and care-free man, Alex. She’d be really proud of you. Don’t forget that, okay?”

I don’t know what to say in reply to him. Rian’s words made my throat close up and my eyes start to blur from the unshed tears. I was about to thank him when the sound of the front door being knocked broke through the silence. I breathe out a small sigh of relief and steady myself as Rian gets up to answer the door. I could hear him murmur something to whoever was at the door and after a few awkward exchanges with the person he closes the front door and returns to the lounge, soon followed by a tall, rather attractive raven-haired man dressed in a US Military Uniform. It takes me a moment to register who the man actually is and when I do, I jump up out of my seat, stumbling slightly over my own two feet as the dizziness and nausea sets in, Rian reaching out worriedly to steady me as the man behind him watches me carefully; a hint of sadness and concern visible within his dark brown eyes.

There was a few awkward minutes of silence in the room as Rian looked from me to the stranger that’s standing in the lounge doorway, his expression asking me if I knew the man at all. I let out a barely noticeable nod to let him know that I do kind of know him and that it’s okay to let go of me as I can stand on my own now, but he doesn’t loosen his grip from my waist; his eyes gazing over me to make sure that I don’t suddenly collapse to the antique rug that my Grandma insisted on buying when she took me on holiday to Rome the very first summer that I had moved over here in order to cheer me up from the disaster that occurred at the start of that year.

My throat feels as dry as sandpaper and my tongue feels numb. I miserably lick my lips and take in a deep breath, trying as hard as I can to bring up enough courage to stutter out the name of the man standing in front of me. After two failed attempts, I finally manage to choke out:

“J-Jack.”

As soon as the name left my lips, Rian’s head shot straight back to Jack as his jaw drops to the floor in disbelief.

“Jack?! As in the soldier that you write to…That Jack?” Rian asks me defensively as Jack nods lightly before taking a small step into the lounge, stopping after two steps as Rian tenses up as he tries to subtly step in front of me while still managing to hold onto my waist with a firm grip.

“Yeah, I…” I start to say, but Jack is quick to interrupt me in an attempt to explain himself.

“I know that I should have called first or at least waited a few days after returning home to get in contact with you but…This will probably sound a little strange but…I just had to make sure that you were alright.” Jack says speaking with a slight lisp as he anxiously looks between me and Rian, his eyes showing concern as he stares longingly at the broken shell of a man that is stood in front of him, a man who goes by the name of Alex Gaskarth.

As I listen to him speak, I can’t help but feel my cheeks burn; from embarrassment? Maybe. At the fact that Jack was concerned enough to come and make sure that I was alright? Most definitely. It made me feel all warm inside to know that someone other than Rian actually cares for me. It’s a little weird though as I don’t really know Jack all that well, I don’t know all that much about him and to have him worry about me, yeah it seems nice but it also raises a lot of questions, questions that I’m not sure that I want to know the answers to. I’m knocked back out of my thoughts by Rian gripping onto my waist tighter, causing me to wince at the pain of his nails cutting through my shirt.

“Give me a break! You want to make sure that he’s alright?” Rian asks him, scepticism in his voice as his eyes narrows and his voice goes up a decibel which makes me flinch and close my eyes, turning my head away from him. “Does he look fucking alright to you?! No, don’t even bother to answer that because I know what you’re going to say. ‘No, he doesn’t look alright’, well guess what? You’d be correct because he most certainly is not alright. He hasn’t been alright for weeks and you come in here as he’s starting to make some form of progress and you go ask a stupid question like that!”

“R-Rian…” I stutter when he takes a pause for breath, my hands working to try and loosen his grip on me.

“No, Alex. No. I’m not going to stand by and watch someone you barely know come in and ask stupid questions like ‘are you alright?’ because that’s only going to cause you more pain. I’m not going to let you go through that again, I made a promise to myself that I won’t let you go through that again.” Rian replies desperately before turning his head back round to face Jack with his breathing becoming more rapid and his face turns redder with rage as he carries on with his tangent. “If you honestly and genuinely care about Alex’s well-being, then fine I’ll stop right now and will apologise to you, but I know better and I’m not about to just let you walk in and expect Alex to be happy about it! I don’t know what you’re up to and believe me, I probably wouldn’t want to know, but because it concerns Alex I will make damn well sure that nothing is going to hurt him, and that includes you. So if you’ve come here for the sake of meeting him, getting him to open up to you and then you walk away from him, let me tell you right now where you can go.”

“Rian…” I try again to stop him, to calm him down but when he’s on a roll and this wound up, it’s hard to calm him down from it. That doesn’t mean that I can’t try to do it anyway. I’m in the process of opening my mouth again to say something to him but this time it’s Jack that attempts to speak up.

“I’m sorry if you feel that way, but that’s not…” Jack answers back, his voice staying completely level as he stares Rian down.

I have to say that I’m impressed with the way that he’s handling Rian’s verbal meltdown; it’s obvious that the time that he’s spent in the army has taught him to be self-disciplined when faced with a potential danger. I, of course, don’t see Rian as a potential danger or threat, but that doesn’t necessarily stop others from seeing that in him, especially when he’s this wound up.

“But that’s not, what?!” Rian growls, taking a step forward to Jack, trying his best to make him feel intimidated but from the way that Jack’s fingers are twitching, it’s clear that Rian’s just getting him pumped up for a fist-fight. I grab hold of Rian’s shirt to pull him back but he just grabs hold of my wrist and pulls me behind him out of Jack’s line of sight. “Let me make this absolutely clear. You are not going to hurt Alex.”

“I’m not here to hurt Alex. If you would let me get a word in edgeways, I’d be able to tell you the real reason for why I am here! I’m not here to cause trouble or to hurt him, I wouldn’t do that. I’m just here to see if Alex is alright, because I got the impression from his last letter to me that something really bad had happened and it seems as though my initiative was right to have gotten my friend to drop me off here. I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression of myself and my intentions, but I’m honestly not here to start any trouble. I only came to give Alex this…” Jack takes a breath as he reaches into his pocket and draws out a plain white envelope with my name scrawled neatly in italics on the front, which he places on the arm of the couch before continuing. “…and to ask him if he’d like to take a ten minute breather to come and get a coffee with me.”

My head shoots up and towards him at the last part. I wasn’t expecting him to ask me anything like that and going by the expression on Rian’s face, he wasn’t expecting Jack to say anything like that either. Rian took in a deep breath and managed to calm himself down a little, I took this chance to step out from behind him and position myself in between both him and Jack, just in case Rian got it into his head to rush at the man standing by the doorway. I mull Jack’s words over in my head for a second before making a decision. It’s about time that I showed my face to the outside world again, and it would do me some good to spend some time away from Rian for a bit, even if it’s for half an hour it will at least show him that I’m doing okay, or at least better than I was when he first found me a couple of weeks ago.

“Rian…Can you please go into the kitchen and leave me with Jack for a moment. Please?” I ask him quietly, keeping my gaze on Jack. “I need to go and take a quick shower and get changed. You should probably go and call your Mom, let her know that you’re alright and that you’ll drop by soon to see her.”

Rian opens his mouth to protest about me taking Jack up on his offer of coffee, but he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he steps up beside me and takes hold of my hand, squeezing it tightly to let me know that he’ll be here for me if I need him and that I should think this through before making any rash decisions. I just shake my head and squeeze his hand back lightly to say that its fine, that I’ve thought this through and that he doesn’t need to worry. For a few seconds, Rian just stands there, poised at my side before he finally nods and lets out a small sigh. He lets go of my hand and starts to walk towards the kitchen, narrowing his eyes at Jack as he passes.

As soon as Rian shuts the kitchen door, I close my eyes for a second and let out a short breath before opening them and gesturing for Jack to take a seat. I quickly let out an ‘I’ll just be five minutes’ to him before making my way into the hallway and up the stairs, my feet directing me towards the direction of the bathroom; which in general meant the shower. My Grandma always told me that presentation is the key to making a good impression and if I’m going to be spending some more time with Jack, then I should at least look somewhat more presentable and try to make up for the pitiful first impression that I have already given him. That is, if it isn’t too late.

Notes

Twitter: @LottieNightmare

Comments

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EarthToLottie; EarthToLottie;
4/27/15

i miss this story so much

JalexInMyButt JalexInMyButt
11/9/14

I LOVE THIS STORY AND I NEED MORE OF IT.

AllTimeSlut AllTimeSlut
5/17/14

@MakeMeLoveATL

Well, thank you :D

@Dean Winchester;
Yaaay! :D This story is awesome, by the way.

MakeMeLoveATL MakeMeLoveATL
5/10/14