"Jasper…? Still there?" my voice distorted through the phone.
"Yeah, I'm right here Rachel Stone. For you, always. Always…"
Bullshit Jasper. I know you. Something's wrong. I don't know what, but I will figure it out. You're always there for me, and now it's my turn to be there for you. "Are you still on campus? I'm at the table. Remember we'd meet up? I'll wait for you. As long as it takes."
"R-Rachel," his voice broke. "Do, do you think you can come to me? I'm above the library," he cried. I could hear him through the phone, breaking down into tears. First, he hyperventilated, losing that cool I always admired.
Whenever I thought of Jasper Bane, I imagined a rock. Inside that flesh and blood, a damaged little boy hid, one with hope, strength, and determination. But now? His demons finally won. My foolish illusions dispelled, I saw Jasper for his true self: a ticking time bomb.
His breaths labored from infinitesimal cracks rending into splintering gasps. A thump echoed on his end. "Jasper!" I screamed, running toward the school library.
Jasper, Jasper, Jasper. He's in a building only across from me, not that far. When I get there, in just a short amount of time, it'll be fine. This is Jasper, what can go wrong? I grimaced at that though. Who am I kidding, with him, anything can happen. Damn it! Now of all times? If only I didn't have my own slew of health problems. My doctor's warnings of overexertion raced through my brain.
Each pounding step resonated throughout my body, inflicting jolts of pain everywhere. Ragged breathing, my limbs flailing and steadily losing control, this suddenly felt less and less like a run and more and more like an unwinnable marathon. Despite how much it hurt, I couldn't fail. Not this time.
When I finally arrived, I thought began hallucinating. I saw nothing but blurry doubles and shadows crowding around, hearing piercing shrieks and heartrending howls shatter the otherwise eerily still air.
The sheer force of my own will kept me going, kept me alive.
"Jasper!" I called with every ounce of air in my lungs and energy still left in my rapidly depleting body. Listening for sobs, I found him. He stood on top of the roof, a gun in his trembling fingers. Rain pelted my cheeks. Not rain now, it rarely rains here. Tears. "Jas, stay right there!" I commanded. "I'm coming up."
Please don't do anything stupid, please don't do anything stupid, please don't do anything stupid!
I raced a life or death horserace, praying I found him before he broke completely. Every door I found refused budging. They already locked them all after school. "Then how the hell did he get up there," I muttered in bitter frustration.
"Why, why me, why Jasper, why any of this, WHY?!" A scream ripped my throat. My foot repeatedly kicked the brick building, my knuckles staining whitewashed walls a sickening crimson. It's my first year here, I don't even know my way around yet. Without Jasper, I don't know how I'd get anywhere.
It's pointless. I'm a failure. There's no possible way I can get him. How can I?
I'm a terrible friend. If only I realized his self-destruction sooner. He just always seemed so perfect; I never suspected anything. If anything happens, it'll be my fault. I was supposed to look after him, make sure he's alright, like he always does for me.
Warm tears streamed down my pale cheeks. No, I'm stronger than this. I can still do something. Jasper says he believes in me, and in a sense, saved me. The last thing I'll do is give up. I'd rather die. Wiping tears away, I ran again, ignoring my tattered breaths, failing body, pessimistic thoughts. Only Jasper occurred to me. His contagious laugh, warm hugs, soothing monotonous voice, kind words, and questionable jokes.
With only one way to the library roof, and only one entrance to the library, I did the only possible thing. Wrapping my hand in my jacket, inhaling, and Jasper's voice echoing in my head: whenever you punch, gather as much power as you can. Turn on the ball of your foot, jab through your target, and shout upon contact. It sounds ridiculous, but it'll help brace your body.
I punched a window; hurt like hell breaking it. Still, I cried in happiness and jumped through.
Sprinting, I closed the distance as fast as I possibly could, nearly tripping on the stairs and fallen if I hadn't gripped the rail for the life of me. Hurling the door open, I stopped dead at the mere sight of him. Back against a vent, hugging his knees, head buried in them, rocking back and forth, gun still in hand, he looked like a nightmare. "Jas…" I approached cautiously, still figuring out a solution. Jasper broke his form at the sound of my voice and bolted toward me.
Hiding his face in my shoulder, he spluttered my name. "Rachel, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry." Jasper lost control again, cried his heart out. Stunned, I did the only thing I could think of: comforted him. I reached my arms around his average build, rubbed his back, and slowly wrestled the gun from his hand.
"It's okay Jas," I whispered, feeling another tear drip down my cheek. "It's okay, everything's alright. I'm here now. Let it out," running my fingers through his coarse hair.
I've got him stabilized, somewhat at least. Now what? I'm usually at the receiving end of one of these things.
Leading him toward the stairs, I noticed a warning in the form of a sickeningly sweet crimson stain on my clothes. And Jasper's. "Jas," pointing at his sleeve, "what's up with your sleeve," fear creeping into my tone. His eyes darted back and forth in panic, wavering, imploding. Reaching for his arm, "you didn't, did you? Please tell me you didn't?"
He broke again. "I-I said I'm sorry, didn't I! I didn't mean to, I-I wasn't thinking, it just, just happened. I'M SORRY!" He crumpled to the floor, bursting into tears once more. No matter how much every fiber of my being screamed, protested, begged, admonished me, my hand lifted his sleeve. He tried shoving me, but in his emotional fit, couldn't, no matter his screaming and lashing. Large, bleeding cuts marred his skin. His black sweater absorbed most of it, but trails still seeped through his deeply tortured wrist.
"Jas…" I couldn't finish it. How unstable is he? "You, you said you were done with cutting. How did you even get a blade, I took them all away from you. What have you done?!" He can't even look me in the eye… Jasper… "Anything else?" I spat. "You've already gone this far, so what else? Might as well, considering your current state." He flinched as my arm swung in midair. He actually thought I would hit him. I felt like dying. Nothing could ever make me hurt him. And yet, my harsh words, seemingly verbal abuse, betrayed me.
If ever I saw dead eyes, this was it. He finally collapsed. My lecture destroyed him. The person who I owed the most, I returned the favor with a seal of self-destruction. "You don't mean that," he moaned. Thrashing and shrieking, he repeated those words over and over and over again. They felt like dull knives carving themselves into my heart.
"Hold on, w-"
"Ju-just stay away from me!" he pleaded as he crawled away.
In that moment, he resembled a doomed child. His wavy hair, tragically vulnerable expression, and half-dead body language tore me apart. I won't fail.Charging, I gripped him, pulled his face toward mine. He kicked and punched, damaging a few weak muscles. I choked in agony, suppressing any wails. My goal: saving Jasper.
Still, he noticed my misery and turned. "Rachel…" He spied my wounds. "Did I…?" He didn't even have to finish his sentence; he knew from my blank expression. Hand covering his mouth in terror, he apologized profusely. "You know I could never hurt you," he admitted, his hand brushing my cheek. "Well, not purposely," he wept, and then smiled sadly. Staring to the side, he gushed his secrets, spilled his guts to me. "I never dared telling you everything because I feared burdening you, but I guess," gesturing at both of us, "it's a little too late for that."
An unbearably long pause settled between us. "Jas-"
"Rachel. Can you please help me?"
Since when did he interrupt and not apologize? "Yes, Jasper, of course," I breathed in excitement." Finally, we're getting somewhere.
"End it for me," he stated flatly. Flatter than usual. He turned away, but I still noticed his quivering. Guiding my gun-holding hand, placing the barrel to his temple, "Do you think you can do this? I can't do it myself, nor can I imagine anyone else but you. So please, shoot me now."
Honestly, I wish I handled this better. All I did though: cry. My other hand grasped his shoulder, and every word I uttered lost any meaning on its journey into frightening nothing. Glaring at his chest, ignoring his words, I collided into rock bottom at terminal velocity, nothing remaining but fragments of what I once called Rachel Stone.
Jasper drew me into a tight embrace, hollowly begging for sweet release at last. But, I can't. I just can't. What do you think that will do to me huh? You'll be gone forever, and I'll be here, all alone. Without you, what will I have left? When I first met you, I felt lost. You became my salvation, and you just want me to murder that? Destroy my one true happiness? You selfish bastard. How could you expect me to sacrifice my life away just like that?
When I opened my mouth to speak my mind, Jasper kissed me. That seems like such an underwhelming understatement. Imagine your world falling into place all at once. It felt like all of my days spent with the Jasper Bane, but a million times better, compacted into one desperate, fleeting moment. I flinched in surprise, but kissed him back. The gun slipped from our fingers, and we wrapped our arms around another, safe in our cocoon of tender bodies and emotional trauma. Despite everything, I felt at peace, safe, content, pleased; I could go on and on. We lost track of time, absorbed in our little moment. It felt like two lifetimes, like we had some happy, romantic life. A future with Jasper flashed before my eyes: dates we'll never have, a possible marriage, fake children, eternal love throughout our old age - if either of us lived that long- and dying peacefully together.
We wrenched ourselves away from each other, panting. Jasper fixated his gaze at my eyes. "Rachel Stone: I love you. So please, at least do this one thing for me. Please." He clasped my hands and put the gun in them once more. Glancing at it, and then at me, he flashed his trademark smile. Joy, with a hint of pride, a dash of courage, and sorrow visible only to those he trusts.
Insult, plea, assumption, anger, frustration, bitterness, all died in my throat and heart. Despising our situation, cursing it, my body helped Jasper by backstabbing me. Everything seemed like out of a television set; I felt and saw everything, physically present, but something stole my control.
My grip on the gun tightened. "I love you, too, Jasper, always, and forever. For you, anything. Anything."
He smiled once more, tilted my head up toward him, kissed my forehead, and placed the gun to his temple once more. "Thank you, for letting it be by your hand. To die, will be an awfully great adventure."
Suppressing more tears, I somehow managed speaking. "Death is only an illusion; death is only the beginning; death is your last adventure."
I kissed him one last time, remembering him, soaking him in before nature crushed his existence, erased his scent, putrefied his skin, obliterated what once seemed indestructible.
I shut my eyes.
I pulled the trigger.
I killed Jasper Bane.
He fell to the ground with his usual unusual grace. A smile blessed his lips.
It took me a few moments to gather myself. In shock, everything blacked out. Oblivious to the rest of the world, I lay next to Jasper Bane, hugging him, like I would when I felt cold and he offered himself as a radiator. I buried my head in his chest, realizing it will never rise again. Bawling, reality slapped me. Jasper is gone, and all that's left of him is a teenage girl shedding tears over the boy she never imagined life without.
Raindrops pelted the back of my head, washing away the shock. I looked up at the morose sky. It's mourning him too. I'm not alone. How perfect, Jasper always did have a love-hate relationship with rain. I dipped my fingers into his blood, and wrote next to him in his own blood, Never Forget Jasper Bane.