“Um… Hi.” Jasper muttered uncertainly as he lingered in the doorway.
“Jasper what the hell are you doing here?” Phoenix shook his head in disbelief as he stepped backward, allowing his brother to enter at last. Jasper left his duffel bag behind him on the front porch.
“I know, I know. It’s crazy but… I can explain? Kinda?” A small nervous laugh passed his lips as he turned his eyes toward his ex. “Hey, Tam… Wow, uh, you look really good, by the way.” He added awkwardly.
At last, Tam spoke. “You too.” He replied softly.
Phoenix realized with a jolt that this was the first time Tam and Jasper had seen each other in person in months. Oh God this is awkward.
“I’m sorry about this, I just…” Jasper shrugged, turning back toward his brother once more. “Can we sit down?”
Phoenix nodded and led him over toward the couch. Part of him was thrilled to see Jasper again, but he still couldn’t believe that his brother had flown across the freaking Atlantic ocean and arrived at his doorstep completely unannounced. Thank God Gigi’s not here… She’d flip!
“Jas… What’s going on?” Tam broke the uncomfortable silence. “Why are you here?”
Jasper took a slow, deep breath before replying. “This is gonna sound so dumb. And I guess it IS pretty dumb, actually…” He admitted. “But ever since you called me the other day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was like I was possessed or something. I was up all night thinking about it.”
“You. Us. This stupid ‘break’…” He paused for a moment. “I miss you, Tam. I want you back. And I knew I had to come tell you. In person.” He explained. “So I emailed my professors and said I had a family emergency… Then I basically drained my savings account and bought a ticket for the first flight I could find. I had to see you.”
“Wow.” Phoenix muttered. He genuinely couldn’t believe that his rational, level-headed brother had done something so foolish and rash. It was totally ridiculous. But oddly sweet, too.
Tam just shook his head. “Jas, I’m going back home in less than a week. You couldn’t just wait til then?”
“I know… I told you it was stupid.” Jasper’s cheeks grew slightly pink as he spoke. “I’m pretty sure I spent half the flight just asking myself ‘What are you doing?’ over and over again… But I just couldn’t wait. I couldn’t.” He reached out then, taking one of Tam’s hands in his. “I love you, Tam. And I’m so sorry for everything.”
Phoenix suddenly wished he knew how to make himself disappear. Yup, totally awkward…
“Jas… I love you too.” Tam replied at last. “And I want us to find a way to fix this.” He seemed to hesitate for a moment before finally releasing Jasper’s hand. “But…”
Jasper’s face fell instantly. “Why does there have to be a ‘but’?” He groaned softly in frustration as he spoke. “I love you and I feel like shit for everything that happened… And I finally wanna make it right again. That’s why I came all the way here for you, Tam.”
“I know.” Tam’s voice was pained. “And it’s probably one of the most romantic things you’ve ever done for me.” He admitted. “You totally got a nat 20 on this one.” He assured him gently. “I just wanna make sure you don’t think things are like, magically better now or something… This isn’t some low-level Boss we can just kill in one hit. One big romantic gesture isn’t enough to undo everything.”
“I know that. I never said it was.” There was a hint of a sharp edge to Jasper’s voice as he spoke. “Why do you always have to put words in my mouth?”
“I’m not!” Tam insisted. “I’m just… being realistic.”
Jasper raised an eyebrow at him. “You? Realistic?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Pfft. Come on, Tam…”
“What? Is that really so hard to believe?” Tam replied defensively. “I know you think you’re the mature one since you went off to uni… But you’re not the only one who grew up, Jas!”
Oh God, what’s happening? “Uh, remember, ‘I’ statements…” Phoenix muttered weakly.
His brother and best friend looked over at him as though noticing him for the first time.
Tam’s expression softened immediately. “Sorry, Phee.” He said seriously.
“Yeah, me too.” Jasper agreed. “And I’m sorry to you too, Tam.” He turned his gaze back toward his ex as he spoke. “I didn’t come all the way here to fight with you. That’s the last thing I want right now. I promise.”
“Me too.” Tam let out a soft sigh. “I’m sorry.”
Phoenix took a deep breath and rose from his seat. They both needed time to cool off… and he needed time to try and process what the hell was even going on right now.
“Look, Jasper’s had a really long day. I’m sure he’s super jetlagged and could use some rest. And Tam, I know I got you all worked up with that roleplay thing earlier…”
“Roleplay?” Jasper interjected.
Tam shook his head. “Not as fun as it sounds, trust me.” He explained quickly.
“So anyway, what I’m saying is, why don’t we get Jasper set up in a hotel for tonight and we can try talking more about this tomorrow? Like, after we’ve all had some time to rest and cool off?” Phoenix suggested, smiling hopefully.
To his relief, neither of them put up a fight. In fact, they were more than willing to go along with his plan. It took a couple of phone calls, but Phoenix managed to find his brother a hotel room less than fifteen minutes away.
Unfortunately, Jasper hadn’t been kidding about draining his savings account to fly there, so Phoenix got stuck with the bill. And even in the off-season, it definitely wasn’t cheap. Oh God, Gigi’s gonna kill me…
But, to his surprise, she didn’t.
Tam was already asleep by the time Gigi got home from her friend’s house. And when she tiptoed silently into the bedroom, Phoenix had a feeling she wasn’t expecting to find him still awake.
“You didn’t have to wait up for me.” She said softly as she took a seat beside him on the bed.
Gigi was so beautiful in the moonlight. Practically glowing. She looked so tired. Almost sad, even. But the look in her eyes was so loving too. Phoenix felt a rush of warmth at the sight. Maybe he was right. Maybe things really were getting better.
And how sweet and understanding she was when he explained the situation with Jasper only served to strengthen that feeling.
“You’re sure you don’t mind?” He asked her yet again. “I know it’s a lot of money…”
His wife shook her head. “He’s your brother, Phoenix. It’s fine.”
He let out a soft sigh of relief at her words. “Thank you.” Phoenix leaned forward to pull her in for a kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Gigi replied as they finally broke apart. “You know that, right?” She added softly.
His brow furrowed slightly at her words. What was she talking about? “Of course I do… What’s gotten into you tonight?” He teased.
Her laugh sounded so tired. “Too much wine, maybe.” She said with a shrug. “But I’m fine. Promise.”
Phoenix nodded in understanding. He’d been able to taste the wine on her lips when they kissed. “Well, I’m glad you and Lucy had fun tonight.”
“Yeah…” She paused for a moment. “And I’m glad you and Tam did too. Until Jasper showed up, I guess.” Her lips curled into a soft smile, but it vanished almost as quickly as it had come. “I’m gonna go take a shower, okay?” Gigi leaned forward to quickly brush her lips against his. “Goodnight.”
“Night.” He muttered sleepily against her lips.
Jeez, what a freaking day. Phoenix thought to himself as he finally laid his head against the pillow. But at least no one can say I’m having a boring Spring Break…