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Passion part 8 by Fantasy Weaver


Note

1:Some adult content ahead.

Passion

Part eight


Open. Close. Open. Close. Open. Close. Open. Close. Open. CLOSE.

The final snap of the straight razor shutting lingered in the still air of the barbershop.

Jasper was thinking.

Usually, he would be talking or making bets with Kent. But the man was sick, and he still wasn’t any better. Apparently he had been rushing to the bathroom every five minutes for the past week or so. He had been to a doctor. Some bug or another was what Kent had told him.

How he wished the older man was here now. At least if he was, Jasper wouldn’t be in such a foul mood.

He was thinking of Sebastian.

Lately, the raven has been distancing himself from the barber. This was normal; he distanced himself a bit every time he worked on an art piece. But never this much. They hadn’t done anything drastic for months. The last time something even the tiniest bit exciting happened was when Sebastian had sheared him down. And that was what, two, three months ago?

The instances after were getting duller and duller. Shaving his boyfriend’s face was fun, so was trimming his split ends, but it wasn’t ENOUGH. No, that’s not true, it’s more the fact that Sebastian seemed uninterested that bothered him. Jasper couldn’t believe Sebastian didn’t feel that way as well.

Then only a few days ago. They had been alone in the shop together. Completely, and utterly ALONE, and nothing happened. He gave him a shampoo and that was it.

What could have brought this on?

And then Sebastian would not even give the slightest hint, not one clue, as to what he was doing for the private showing. That never happened. He would always play this little guessing game with him, and now he wasn’t. Why was this?

Was Sebastian really loosing such interest in him? In their relationship? Was that why he would stay for hours on end at his studio or at the gallery? Because he couldn’t stand being by him any longer?

Or was he over thinking this entirely?

A breath went into his lungs and was blown out in an attempt to calm himself. He wouldn’t panic. There must be some other reason Sebastian hasn’t been himself lately; there just had to be!

That one time he had eavesdropped at his studio came to mind…

They would have to talk this weekend.

XXXXX

Sebastian woke up because he was cold.

Dark, sleepy eyes blinked open to stare at the empty bed beside him. The sheets had been pulled back.

A look at the alarm clock showed it was nine in the morning. Jasper didn’t get out of bed until at least ten on the weekends. Why was he already up?

The raven got out of bed and tried rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. There was a chill in the apartment that didn’t come from cold. He shrugged an oversized t-shirt on and padded silently towards the kitchen.

And there Jasper sat. He had a cup of tea between his hands, though it looked like he hadn’t touched it for some time. It was half-full, yet no steam was rising from the mug. Lifting his eyes to the man’s pale face showed it to be emotionless. The red eyes seemed clouded over by something Sebastian couldn’t put a name to.

He was worried now.

Cautiously, he sat down across from Jasper at their table. The apartment was dreadfully silent. The only sound was the ticking clock. The only light in the room from the stove fan’s bulb. It casted eerie shadows in the yellow light. With the curtains to all their windows closed, the place was dark. This only added to the aura of unease that washed over Sebastian.

"You weren’t in bed this morning" Sebastian stated quietly, afraid to disturb the air.

The other man did little more than bat an eye. "We need to talk."

Sebastian’s heart leaped up to his throat.

He knew something like this would happen eventually. But why in the world did it have to happen now, when he was so close to his goal? He swallowed nervously, his throat feeling tight.

"Alright…" was his softly spoken response.

Jasper’s purple-red eyes seared into his own with an intensity that had him nearly cringing. The albino man then spoke. He spoke calmly, though there was an underlying tension in his baritone voice. "I feel like you’re avoiding me."

S**t. This wasn’t the conversation starter Sebastian had been expecting. Had he really been avoiding him? He didn’t know anymore, he was too concentrated on his masterpiece to actually dwell on such a trivial matter. Though, for Jasper, this wasn’t trivial. This was serious.

"I’m not avoiding you" Sebastian tried reassuring his lover, though this one seemed unimpressed. "I’m not! For god sake, I can’t even think about wanting to do that!"

"Then why are you doing it?"

"I’m not!" Jasper turned his face away. "Jasper, I swear, if you think I’m avoiding you, then I don’t realize it. What makes you think I’d do that?"

He still wasn’t looking at him. "You haven’t wanted your hair cut in months."

Sebastian’s eyes widened. This is exactly what he had been afraid of. No, he didn’t want this happening now! "Jasper, that’s…I…"

"You haven’t told me about your project, not a single thing, like you usually do."

"I-"

"You stay at your studio or the gallery all day every day. I barely get to see you when I come home now."

"Jasper!-"

"Then there’s that girl, Leah."

As the raven was about to retort, he stopped himself. Leah? What about Leah? What did she have to do with all this?

"W-what?"

Jasper’s red eyes turned to him then with a glare that was so unlike him. "Leah! The blonde girl who asked if you had a girlfriend and you said no!"

Sebastian thought about that encounter for a moment. He had been in his studio with the girl, almost two months back. That was when she had confessed to him.

Something clicked in his head. "You were there when she said that?"

Jasper got off his chair to pace agitatedly. "I was about to go inside your studio when I heard you talking with that girl. I was waiting until you two were finished before going in, but then she asked if you were taken. When you said no, I left. You were none the wiser."

Sebastian started panting. No! Jasper had it all wrong! "Jasper! I told her I didn’t have a girlfriend, then I said I had a boyfriend! If you had stayed-"

"Do you have any proof of that?"

He was getting angry now. Tears formed in his eyes, blurring his vision. "Do you think I would lie to you!?"

Jasper didn’t answer him. He had a scowl on his face.

Sebastian tried taking cleansing breaths, but all it did was make him dizzy. He sobbed. "I would never lie to you! I have my reasons for wanting to have my hair long, I have things I need to do at the gallery and if I’m avoiding you, then I’m not aware of it because I’m so scarred and stressed and-" he was rambling and breathing hard.

Jasper looked away from his lover. His arms were crossed on his chest, his finger nails digging into the skin on his arms.

Despite his furious mood, he still felt bad for making Sebastian cry.

He heard the raven go into their bedroom. There was some ruffling for a few minutes before the smaller man came back out dressed. He was carrying his bag on his shoulder and had his laptop bag with him as well.

"I’ll see you tonight" the man clipped silently before closing the apartment door behind him as he left.

As soon as he was out, Jasper fell to the floor.

He buried his hands in his short white hair.

What was happening to them?

XXXXX

For a week, they didn’t talk, they slept separately.

Sebastian slept in the bed. Jasper slept on the couch.

Or at least, they tried to sleep.

The gap between them was growing.

A dark chasm was forming.

XXXXX

The bell chimed as a customer came into the barbershop. Jasper turned to greet them, but stopped.

It was Scarlet and Nicolas. They were accompanied by another girl.

It was Leah.

Had Kent not been in the shop with him, Jasper thought he might have sent them out. He refrained from doing this however. He didn’t want to cause a scene.

"Jasper, can we talk with you?" Nicolas asked him. His blue eyes were hard and condescending. Sebastian had told them, it showed.

The barber turned towards the supply room. "Follow me" he stated.

The four entered the modest room. It turns out it was just a storage area. On the far right was a desk with various papers and manila folders. This was where business was done. And business was indeed about to be discussed, thought not pertaining to the barbershop. Rather, it was in regards to the barber and his lover.

Leah looked out of place among them. Not only did she know little about Sebastian’s friends, apparently the albino man before her was his boyfriend. And, according to Nicolas and Scarlet, the barber thought she was dating Sebastian behind his back. She felt small, unjustly attacked and accused of something she had no part in.

"Okay, first thing’s first" Scarlet announced, and before anyone could react, she slapped Jasper across the face, a loud snapping sound filling the air.

"F***!" Jasper cried. "What the hell was that for!?" He brought a hand to his smartening cheek.

"That, you bastard," Scarlet got on her tiptoes and glared furious green eyes at Jasper’s startled red ones, "was for making Sebastian cry! And this" she slapped him again, on the other cheek, "was for accusing him of something that’s not even true!"

The barber staggered backwards, grabbing onto a nearby tray of haircutting tools to steady himself. He stared at Scarlet who was rubbing her hand. She had slapped him hard enough to make him see stars.

Nicolas and Leah were just as stunned as he was. They were booth standing, mouth agape in horror.

"Okay, can we have a conversation like normal adults here?" Nicolas tried.

Jasper sent daggers at him with his eyes. "Did Sebastian send you?" he asked with a snarl.

"What? No!"

Scarlet straightened herself. "He doesn’t know we’re here. He would never come talk to you himself in the state he’s in. I wouldn’t either" she emphasized venomously.

"Okay guys calm down!" Nicolas rarely raised his voice, but this time he did, if only to stop the oncoming storm of hate.

The two settled down.

"Thank you" the blonde man sighed. Then he pinned Jasper with a serious expression. "Look, Jasper, there are things we know about Sebastian that you don’t. But I think both Scarlet and I can promise you that Sebastian’s not hiding anything important from you."

Scarlet crossed her arms. "And he certainly isn’t dating Leah here."

Jasper turned his attention to the silent girl. He raised a brow at her, as if to ask if that was true.

"J-Jasper "may I call you Jasper?" he nodded silently. "I don’t know what happened between you and Sebastian…but he told me about your relationship. I haven’t a-asked him to dump you or ch-cheat on you or anything…"

All at once, Jasper felt guilty. This girl looked like she was afraid of her own shadow. There was no way someone like her would even THINK of such a preposterous idea.

He should have listened to Sebastian. He had over-thought things completely, and their entire relationship had suffered because of it. God, why was he such a dick at such an inopportune time? Thinking of his lover made him feel even worse. What would Sebastian think of him now?

However, there was still something that bothered him.

"What is he hiding from me?"

Leah thought the question was aimed at her. "I’m sorry…?"

The barber directed the question to Scarlet and Nicolas. "What. Is. He. Hiding?"

Each of the words had been spoken in a clipped, clear tone. The woman and her friend gave each other looks.

"There’s only one thing he’s hiding from you" Nicolas said.

"And what might that be?"

Scarlet narrowed her eyes. "We promised not to tell. Besides, you’ll know soon enough anyway. That is, if you intend on staying with him."

Jasper thought about this. He never intended on leaving Sebastian, but now that the matter was out, he thought maybe he HAD wanted to leave him, for some stupid reason, over this stupid fight. But no, he couldn’t do that. Sebastian, despite their argument, was his everything. He couldn’t live without him.

"Look guys," Jasper sighed, "I might need some time to think about this. I don’t think I’ll be going to the private showing after this. I wouldn’t want to make him and Leah uncomfortable." Both Nicolas and Scarlet had horrified looks on their faces. "What?"

"Um… It’s just that," Scarlet started nervously.

Leah piped up silently, not really knowing what was going on. "I don’t mind if you come Jasper…"

"Jasper, come on, you can’t miss Sebastian’s art show!" the blonde man added quickly. "So you had a little fight; that doesn’t mean you have to exclude yourself from the art show! I mean even if Scarlet slapped you twice, she still likes you, I still like you-"

The barber was getting agitated himself. "Listen-"

"WE INSIST YOU COME" both Nicolas and Scarlet nearly shouted.

Jasper remained in stunned silence for a few seconds. "Why?" he slowly asked.

Before Nicolas could talk, Scarlet did. "Because it means the world to Sebastian when you’re there for him."

Red eyes widened marginally.

Jasper hung his head in shame. Of course. Sebastian was always so happy when he was there with him.

He wanted to go home.

XXXXX

Sebastian got home and removed his shoes. He brought a hand to his temple once his bag had been swung somewhere in the apartment. He had a headache. Everything could go down the drain if things continued as they were.

As he lifted his tired eyes, the raven was met with the sight of Jasper.

The barber looked as tired as he was. He didn’t know if it was just Jasper’s red eyes giving this impression, but it looked as though the man had been crying. His figure was slumped.

"Hey" he mouthed lowly.

Sebastian averted his gaze. "Hey…"

"I’m so sorry."

Sebastian felt the tears sting his eyes again. Jasper was sorry. He didn’t let the bitter laugh that wanted to escape him come out. He was leaving him wasn’t he?

As soon as that thought made its way to his mind, it flew out. Because Jasper, having taken the four steps to close the distance between them, crushed him in his arms.

"I’m such an idiot" the man spoke harshly, his hands fisting the material of Sebastian’s shirt.

Sebastian didn’t know what to say. All that left his mouth was a broken sob of relief. He took a shuddering breath. Jasper wasn’t leaving him. He was sorry. Oh god…

As he cried, he smiled, and laughed, and let every emotion loose.

XXXXX

"…and that would put an end to it."

Scarlet and Nicolas checked the minimal script again, making sure they were coming in and leaving at the right moment in the performance. The girl chewed on the end of her bright pink highlighter. Something was bothering her. Sebastian raised a brow, wanting to know what she was thinking.

"What makes you think he’ll do that?" the woman asked with a skeptical tone.

Sebastian flipped his own script back to the first page. "I can’t be certain he’ll do it, but if he doesn’t…" the raven trailed off as he pulled another three scripts from his book bag. These were distributed to his two friends.

Nicolas stared in shock at the new lines of text. "You were THIS prepared?"

Scarlet laughed. "You can’t be that surprised. This is Sebastian we’re talking about."

A twitch of the lip belonging of the man in question made Scarlet smile playfully. Clearing his throat, he redirected their attention to the papers in their hands.

"Anyways" he emphasized dryly, "read and memorize those too. We come back here tomorrow night to practice, since it’s the only time we have left together before Nicolas’ show" the blonde nodded, "and my private showing."

Once all business had been concluded between the three adults, each went their separate ways. Nicolas claimed he had a date with Haley -whom he had FINALLY decided to ask out- and Scarlet had a couple coming over to her in-town photo studio for wedding pictures. Sebastian stayed behind, taking his time to look at and rearrange his installations and drawings.

There were still things needing to be done, but those could only be done on the opening night. With a pleased smile, the man walked the small distance to the light switch, turned the overhead white lamps off, and admired the dark room.

In his mind’s eye, he could already picture how the end result would look. His body shook at the thought.

If one had come in the gallery room at that moment, and had by chance let their eyes rest on Sebastian, they may have thought the man was delirious. The less than sane smile splitting his face, the minor perspiration on his brow, and, most disturbing of all, the way his eyes were alight with what could have been described as twenty different emotions, made the raven seem like he had lost his mind to his art.

Sebastian, to someone who didn’t know him, looked like he had succumbed to insanity in his passion.

XXXXX

It was seven days before the private showing.

Every one of the finishing art students, a small total of eleven women and six men, had been asked to come to the museum of contemporary art, the gallery in which their art would be displayed. Every student knew very well what today was: John and Helen would view their masterpieces individually. They would get evaluated and questioned.

This was, for some, the make it or break it moment. If the instructors gave the word, their hard work could all be for nothing. Apparently, there was at least one student refused each year because their concept didn’t turn out right.

That thought alone made all of them shake in their boots. Sebastian had felt sick to his stomach, as he always did before big events like this. Even if it was only two people, those two people could possibly refuse his art altogether, and all his efforts would have been in vain.

Once all students had settled upon seeing their teachers enter the entrance hall to the gallery, both older adults looked at each other and nodded.

"We’ve explained this a lot of times already, so I don’t think we need to repeat ourselves" John started with his usual blunt way of speaking.

Helen took on from there. "Let’s not waste any time. We will call each of you to individually evaluate your projects. First up would be…" the older woman checked the list on her clipboard. "Leah Anderson."

‘Tough luck’ Sebastian thought. The blonde girl nervously led the teachers into the gallery to where she had installed her piece. Poor girl was the shiest, and probably one of the more nervous students, of the bunch and she was first. Of course she would be; her last name was the only one that started with an "A".

This left all other people assembled in the grand entrance hall to their thoughts. Some paced, other bit their nails in stress, some compulsively texted or reapplied their makeup. And yet others, like Sebastian, had to go empty their stomachs out.

It was the third time since that morning that the raven had been like this. He was hunched over the public toilet in the men’s bathroom, doing his best to hold his hair back in its ponytail. He coughed wetly, the only thing coming out of his body the viscous, burning, yellow substance that, if he recalled, was called bile.

He spit the bitter liquid out, trying his best to keep any more of it down. He gagged, his stomach seemingly sucked in, and one of his hand going to his abdomen in pain. Another fit of coughing ensued, but that was the end of it. It seemed his sickness had passed, at least, for now.

After flushing the toilet, Sebastian went to wash his hands and rinse his mouth. In the mirror, someone he barely knew stared back at him. He looked so exhausted. He tried smiling at himself in the glass, but it looked faked, forced. He frowned at his reflection. Ridiculous. He would be fine on the day of the showing, but for now, he had to wait.

The man went back out into the entrance hall. A glance to his right showed him something he wasn’t surprised to see.

Of all the seventeen students, the only ones who were unflinching, immovable and not the least bit worried -at least on the outside- were Charlie, Vanessa and Alex. Were they so blinded by their pride that they could not see the very real possibility of failure?

Oh what’s this his ears were picking up on? The three were making their own critical analysis, evidently, of the art pieces they had glimpsed during their regular visits to the other student’s studios. The way they spoke made them seem high and proud. They had no place to be judging, at least, not yet. Not while they haven’t even graduated yet.

True, they were entitled to their own opinions, but seeing as their opinions were all negative, perhaps their view point needed to be changed. Could they see nothing positive at all?

"Vanessa Connor!"

The tall young woman turned on her high heels to see the two teachers beckoning her over. She left for her evaluation. Beside her passed a relieved Leah.

Sebastian thought the girl looked a bit shaken up. He went by her side to offer a small smile.

"How’d it go?"

The girl sighed, a hand over her pounding heart. "It went better than I expected it would have…"

Sebastian recalled that Leah was good at making immersive environments. Hers however, compared to what he was doing, were much more complex. She enjoyed working with patterns to create psychedelic settings. Despite her subdued personality, she was very fluent in the art language, and her pieces were always explosive and dizzying.

He wondered what she had made this time around. Unlike other students, Sebastian had not found time to go see the bringing together of other master pieces. He had been much too focused on his own installation to even care about what others were doing. He would have to see what Leah had done later.

"Um, Sebastian?"

"Hm?" he got out of his thoughts to stare at her in question.

"You won’t be called for some time so…do you mind coming to see my installation? During the private showing there might be too many people so…" the blonde girl trailed off numerous times before looking up shyly at the taller person beside her.

Sebastian nodded. He had been intending to see it anyway. "Sure. Lead the way."

The two walked silently through the large gallery rooms, passing by other projects on their way to Leah’s installation.

They entered a dimly lit room. It was quite dark, but on the ground was a ridge of some sort. Upon closer inspection, it seemed Leah had been working in the gallery from the start. The floor had been modified to fit a shallow pool of water, two inches deep all over.

His gaze went over to Leah. The girl was taking her shoes and socks off so as to be bare foot. She made him do the same, then she told him to pad into the water.

At first, that’s what he did. The raven wasn’t sure what this was supposed to be yet, but he waited patiently until Leah explained herself. His feet absentmindedly shuffled in the room temperature water. He tried discerning what was supposed to happen, but came up with a blank.

He turned imploring eyes to the girl. She was standing still. "So, care to explain?"

She simply put her hands behind her back. The small movement this caused made small ripples surface at her feet. This caught his attention, and for a moment, the man had been sure there had been something shimmering on the surface of the water.

He narrowed his eyes in thought. She simply laughed lightly. "I give up. What is it?"

Leah simply said, "Don’t move."

Don’t move? Why?

Then it clicked.

His stormy eyes went to his feet, where the ripples were slowly fading and, eventually, there weren’t any at all. The surface of the water became still and calm, mirror like, and that’s when he saw it. In the water, there was a painted landscape. The colors were vivid; lime and emerald greens, pale, saturated blues and pinks and purples, among other hues, made the picture seem surreal.

He bent down to touch the floor under the shallow water. But all his fingers did was created more ripples, and they felt nothing but a smooth surface beneath the liquid. Was it a picture? Well, no it couldn’t be, because if he examined closely, he could see the dark grey floor beneath his feet. A projection? No, there were no devices nearby.

He scratched his head, thinking. Then how was it created? The ripples disappeared, and the landscape returned, almost like-

Oh.

Sebastian lifted his head.

It was a reflection.

Above, painted all over the ceiling, high up where no one would even lift their gaze, was the landscape. It wasn’t only painted, but artificial -colorful- trees had been hung upside down to create a much more 3D effect on the mirror surface beneath.

"Clever" Sebastian commented with a smirk. He returned his eyes down towards the girl. "So what is the meaning behind this?"

She shrugged. "I wanted to make something some people might never understand, because some people can’t stop and take in their surroundings. When there’s going to be a lot of people in here, it’ll be chaos. No one will understand. Until one person stops, and then that person will have to tell others to stop too. Until the whole room is still. Only then, when they stop rushing, when they stop their actions, when they start to think, will they be able to see this."

For someone who was shy, Leah expressed herself clearly in regards to her piece. Sebastian smiled, taken aback.

The moment was ruined by Alex barging in.

"Hey, John and Helen are going to see you now Sebastian."

Sebastian nodded. With a shrug to Leah, as if apologizing for the unfortunate event, he got out of the water and put his footwear back on -after attempting to dry his feet that is.

John and Helen were waiting at the entrance hall for him. With a wordless nod as a greeting, he led them to the furthest room, all the way in the back of the gallery.

"I just want to say that there are things which I’ll only be able to do on the opening night. I wrote that in the analysis you wanted I believe" he explained as they stopped before the threshold of the room.

John didn’t bat an eye. "Yes, you made that quite clear."

Helen started jotting notes down on the evaluation papers. "Alright then, whenever you’re ready."

Sebastian nodded, took a breath, and opened the doors to his masterpiece.

The only sound that was heard through the gallery was Helen’s pen dropping to the floor and John’s jaw slackening in disbelief.

Later, when the evaluation was done, the students were left to wonder what had happened for their teachers to look so distraught.




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