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eliza2000 ([personal profile] eliza2000) wrote2010-10-08 10:20 pm
Entry tags:

What Do You See? - Part two

Title: What Do You See? – Part 2
Author: Eliza2000
Pairing: Jared/Shannon, Shannon/OC (kinda)

Rating: R? NC-17? I forget. One of those two.
Summary: He says nothing. For a month, he says nothing, and then he can’t stand the silence anymore, the suspense.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit
Spoilers: For the rest of this whole ‘verse, pretty much
Warnings: M/m incestuous relationship, angst, cross-dressing
Word Count: 5264

Author’s Notes: Last in the What Do You See? series, part of the Scarlet Woman ‘verse.

Huge hugs and thank-yous to Lizz_88 and Kit84 for support and encouragement.


He says nothing. For a month, he says nothing, and then he can’t stand the silence anymore, the suspense. Because he knows this isn’t the end of it.
Scarlett has been with Jared for longer than Shannon’s been sleeping with him and he knows he wouldn’t just have gotten rid of her. Not after so long. Not when she means so much to him.
And he didn’t want her gone – this is what Jared won’t let her explain.
Every time Shannon’s working up to talking about her, Jared sees somehow and deflects. And he’s always been so good at that. And Shannon can’t take it.
Does he miss her? Does he miss Scarlett? Or does he miss what she was to Jared, how she made Jared?
He’s thinking the same things he was thinking back when he was sitting on the bathroom floor all that time ago, back before he made such a mess of things.
Who is he looking at when Scarlett stays?
Does he believe in Scarlett at all?
Or is this whole thing one giant roleplay that Shannon plays along with because it makes Jared happy, because Jared seems more comfortable as her, because it’s the only way he can get close to Jared sometimes?
Does he ever really see Scarlett at all?
Or is she always Jared?
He doesn’t know. All he does know is that he wants her back. He wants Jared back because Jared isn’t Jared without her. Even when he was being himself, he wasn’t so quiet, so withdrawn. He wasn’t so controlling, so forceful, so…masculine. And Shannon doesn’t like it.
He wants to go upstairs and yell at Jared, grab him and make him listen but he’s terrified.
He had his chance and he blew it. To say the least.
He doesn’t feel like he drove her out. He doesn’t feel like she left. He feels like he murdered her with his bare hands and hid the body, burned everything that belonged to her. He feels dizzy, feels ill.
And he knows that Jared must be feeling that – can’t help feeling that maybe this is his punishment and fine! Fine, he can deal with that. Only, God, he misses whatever it is he didn’t know he had when Scarlett was here.
Jared will never open up about it – he’d be surprised if Jared ever opened up about anything to him again. But he can’t go on like this, tearing himself up inside knowing that one day Jared will snap, because of him.
He goes upstairs, where Jared must be because he was there before. He goes to Jared’s room and tries to avoid feeling the disappointment that wells up inside of him when he sees nothing on the dresser but a comb.
And Jared hears him – must have heard him and it doesn’t surprise Shannon because Jared has ears like a bat – and rests his copy of Catcher in the Rye on his stomach.
“Hey,” he says.
Shannon nods a little.
“Hey,” he sighs back. “Can we talk?”
“Sure,” Jared answers, slipping a small, silk ribbon into the book as a bookmark before he puts it on the nightstand. “What about?”
Cold sweat on his forehead, damp palms, heart beating somewhere in the back of his throat and he has to say it, he just has to.
“Scarlett,” he croaks.
“What about her?” Jared asks and, dammit, how does he make his face so neutral?
Shannon has no idea what to say to Jared to make this right, doesn’t know what the right thing to say is. He doesn’t know what to say either because he’d hoped mentioning her would start the whole thing going, set the ball rolling. But Jared hasn’t picked up on that.
“She…She’s gone,” Shannon tells him lamely because, honestly, he’s got nothing else.
“Mmm,” Jared murmurs, nodding. “Yeah. You don’t have to worry about her anymore.”
And something in Shannon’s chest tightens, something in his stomach twists.
“I still worry about her,” he says.
Jared’s eyes narrow almost imperceptibly.
“You shouldn’t,” he murmurs. “She’s not going to come back.”
Shannon feels like crying, feels like begging for forgiveness or something. She not going to come back?
“But, I-”
“No,” Jared tells him firmly. “You don’t need to worry about her. It doesn’t matter what you think might happen, she’s gone. Okay? Out, left, over, done, whatever. Okay?”
And Jared goes blurry. There are actual tears in Shannon’s eyes and he tries to blink them back.
“No,” he rasps.
“No?” Jared says. “What do you mean, ‘no’?”
Shannon can’t speak his throat hurts so much and he doesn’t understand it himself but it’s true. He shakes his head and stares at the floor because he can’t explain. He can’t say the words that make it make sense because none of the words make sense to him.
“Shannon,” Jared says softly, sounding more and more afraid with every passing moment. “She’s…you don’t have to worry about her anymore. Okay? She’s gone. She’s really gone-”
“Stop it,” Shannon manages, and it sounds loud even to his own ears but it’s the only way he can speak. “Please, just stop it.”
“Stop what?” Jared asks, and he sounds so scared, so confused. “Shannon, I don’t get it, stop what?”
He knows he’s scaring Jared – just like Jared scares him when he acts like this – but he can’t help it. He can barely breathe, can barely think and it hurts.
“Stop…saying that.”
“Do you think I’m lying?”

“No!” Shannon yells.

“Then what-”
“I’m sorry,” he says, and then he says it again because it’s true. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I…I don’t understand and then there was everything you said and what I said …I just…I didn’t mean for her to go …”
When he dares to look up at Jared again, Jared is sitting completely still on the bed, frozen, staring at him.
“What?” he whispers.
“I didn’t want her to go!” Shannon answers. “I never wanted her gone I just don’t understand, and I wanted to under- I want to understand!”
Jared doesn’t say anything for a long time, and Shannon can’t think of anything else to say. He can’t think of anything that would make it clearer, of anything that would mean it made more sense – he doesn’t understand and he hates that he doesn’t understand but he didn’t want her gone and now he doesn’t know how to get her back.
And Jared reaches out with one hand and pats the quilt beside him.
“Come here and sit with me,” he says.
And Shannon is, for lack of a better word, stunned.
“What?” he asks because it’s the first thing his brain thinks of and he can’t stop it tumbling out.
“I want you to come here and sit with me,” Jared answers. “Please.”
Shannon hesitates, not knowing why he’s moving or why he doesn’t want to, but he knows he has to and he shuffles awkwardly towards the bed, towards Jared, and sits down.
“Closer than that,” Jared says softly. “I’m cold anyway.”
And that makes Shannon move – of course it does, it always does. He wants Jared to be happy, to be comfortable.
“We’re going to talk, Shannon, we have to,” Jared tells him, and Shannon can’t decided if he wants that more than anything or wants nothing less. “Because there’s one hell of a lot I don’t understand. And I know you’re the same.”
He is, he really is, but he just sits still, on the bed next to Jared, and doesn’t say a word.
“I can’t,” Shannon tells him. “I don’t…I mean, I can’t think of…”
Jared looks away, Shannon knows he does. Maybe he sees him out of the corner of his eye but, in reality, it’s more like he knows Jared well enough that he can tell what he’s doing even when he’s not looking.
“Then what are we going to do?” Jared asks, and Shannon doesn’t know.
That’s his whole problem.
“What were you doing with my makeup?” Jared says, and Shannon closes his eyes, swallowing hard.
“I don’t know,” Shannon says, and Jared sighs.
“You must have been doing something,” he says, “even if you were just looking at the colors.”
And Shannon still says nothing.
“Okay,” Jared says. “Then how about you tell me what you want from us?”
“You and Scarlett?” Shannon asks, daring to look at him, and Jared looks away.
“You and me,” he answers.
“Oh,” Shannon says. “I…I don’t know.”
“Shannon,” Jared whispers, “give me something to work with here, okay? Help me out.”
“I can’t!” Shannon tells him. “I can’t!”
“Then why did you come up here?”
And Shannon can’t tell him. He can’t form the words because he doesn’t understand. ‘I miss Scarlett’ is wrong, ‘I’m sorry’ is right but not enough, ‘to talk’ has already been said and he needs Jared to ask questions, ask more questions, ask more specific questions.
But Jared doesn’t.
He just closes his eyes and nods.
“Okay,” he whispers. “Then I guess there’s no point.”
And he picks up his book from the nightstand, pushes himself off his bed and walks away, out of his room and down the stairs. And Shannon fists both hands in his hair.
He can’t think of any way to make this right.
One more week passes.
Their lovemaking has dried up. It did a long time ago, weeks ago if he takes the time to think about it but he’s not thinking about it. He’s trying to find an opportunity – another opportunity – to try and talk to Jared.
Jared is different. He is and there’s no way Shannon can understand how but it’s true. He’s changed completely without having changed and Shannon wishes he knew what had changed. It scares him that he doesn’t.
They go to bed in separate rooms every night, don’t kiss hello and goodbye, don’t talk. But it’s more than that. Jared seems completely unfazed and it’s just not right.
They get up, they exist around each other and it seems perfect but then they go to bed at night and Shannon lies awake for hours wondering if Jared’s doing the same.
But, after that week, after waking up alone for so long, he doesn’t even see how he can speak to Jared anymore.
He wakes up and stares at the ceiling and, for the millionth time, he goes through it in his head – goes through what he wants to say to Jared.
But it’s all feelings, all emotions. None of it makes sense in words and all Shannon can see himself doing is pointing to his chest and saying ‘hurts.
He checks the time on the clock on the nightstand and it’s nine in the morning. He can’t hear Jared moving around downstairs but maybe he’s in the lab or the garden. He’s always awake these days.
He turns onto one side, considers getting comfortable and he sees, on the pillow where Jared used to rest his head, an envelope. Crisp, white, plain and simple, and it has his name written across the front.
He sits up and stares at it, terrified. He’s seen this movie, he’s read this book – nothing good can come of this. He always saw it as a coward’s way out but he’s more afraid of Jared’s words now than he ever has been before.
He snatches it up and tears it open, pulling the paper out from inside so quickly that it wrinkles, tears a little along one of the creases, and he unfolds it and shuts his eyes.
He sits still with the torn, wrinkled letter in shaking hands and he can’t open his eyes. It’s like when he was younger and he thought there were things in the dark and he’d sit up to face them and couldn’t bear to look.
When he opens his eyes, what feels like an age later, and reads, he sees he wasn’t wrong to be afraid.
I can’t stay anymore.
I thought it through and I can’t stay now. I don’t want to blame you for this, I don’t want to make this your fault – I should never have asked it of you in the first place.
And I tried to push it away. I never wanted to choose between you and the life I have to lead but it’s not a choice. And I hate myself more than anything that the only thing I can do is be myself. I don’t want to be this way and I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I can’t change it.
God help me, Shannon, I tried.
You were the first person I ever told – the only person I ever told. Tim and Tomo only know because they caught me. And I trusted you with that, Shannon. I gave you something I’ve never given anyone and you didn’t mean to throw it back at me, I know that.
But I can’t show you that side of me any longer. It feels so wrong to let you in now and I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know why you said those things and I don’t know what I did to make you say them.
But you were right.
And what’s worse is that I can’t even get her back. I wanted her back, I wanted to keep going but she doesn’t feel like me anymore. I don’t feel like her. I can’t dress that way or act that way because it’s different now. It feels…wrong.
And I can’t live that way. Maybe if it’s just me and her again, maybe I can make it work. Maybe I can work it out and come back.
But I can’t be here with you and without her. And I can’t have her while I have you.
So I can’t stay anymore.
I’m sorry.
He doesn’t recognise what he feels, doesn’t understand it.
There are no words to describe the anguish – he’s torn open and broken and it’s too late.
The ink is dry, the glue on the envelope was dry and he’s alone in his bed with nothing but a piece of paper to end his world.
He screams something at the paper – it might be ‘no,’ it might be ‘Jared,’ and then he’s moving because he has to be wrong – this has to be some kind of sick joke, this can’t be true can’t be real.
He can barely stand he’s so dizzy, barely stay upright he’s so ill but he has to. The car can’t be gone from the drive, Jared’s room can’t be empty, he can’t have packed and left in the night and he can’t have gone – he can’t mean this! He can’t mean this – they can work it out! They can talk about this, they can deal with this, they can come to a compromise, Shannon can apologize only, please, God, no!
What has he done!?
He makes it down the stairs and he can see both cars in the driveway but there’s a business card on the table in the hallway with a taxi company’s number emblazoned across the front.
He doesn’t know if he can call and ask where Jared went but Jared could have given a false name, Jared could have gone somewhere to catch another taxi or a bus or a plane or anything or he might have hitchhiked or walked and Shannon wouldn’t even know when he left even if they would give him the information, even if he did take a taxi.
He doesn’t know how to track Jared, doesn’t know how to begin to go about following him and it can’t be over, it can’t be over! How could it have come to this, how could he have let it come to this?
He picks up the phone and redials the last number and he gets a taxi company, gets someone talking to him about taxi fares and destinations and he slams the phone down and closes his eyes. He can feel wet warmth on his face and he can’t move to brush it away – doesn’t even want to.
It’s over.
It’s all over. And it’s all his fault.
Maybe Jared left something, maybe Jared forgot something or left a ticket stub or a receipt or a leaflet or something – anything – to give some indication of where he might have gone.
Shannon checks the bookshelf, shoving things aside and onto the floor in his search for something tangible, he checks through magazines, tries letting the phone directory fall open but it just opens at Tomo’s favourite fast-food place.
He stumbles into the living room and starts checking shelves and bookcases and tables and every other flat surface with papers on and then he sees it, huddled in a corner looking sheet white and shivering so violently that, when it hits Shannon what he’s seeing and he freezes, he can hear the repetitive whisper of material.
It’s Jared. And he’s never looked less like himself in his life.
His eyes are blank, empty, his skin is pale, like vellum, and he looks ill – seriously ill. His knees are hugged tight against his chest and he just stares up at Shannon, barely breathing, looks like he’s about to pass out or be violently sick.
And Shannon can’t even say his name.
Shannon can’t even move.
And Jared opens his mouth a little.
“I…” he croaks, and then his face creases up and he drops his head to his knees, shoulders shaking. “I tried to go.”
Shannon’s heart feels like it’s breaking all over again and he can’t imagine what Jared must be feeling.
“I tried to leave but I…I couldn’t go…I couldn’t go…”
He wants to hold him, wants to reach out and touch him, wants to gather him into his arms but he can’t move and, even if he could, he’s done this. Jared’s done this to himself and Shannon’s done it to him and none of it makes sense anymore.
“I wanted to go, I did,” Jared whispers, “but I couldn’t go – I tried so fucking hard…”
Shannon takes two unsteady steps and sinks onto his knees, and Jared doesn’t even look up.
“I’m packed, I-I called the cab, I…I couldn’t go, I just…I couldn’t walk out of the fucking door…”
He reaches out with one shaking hand and touches Jared’s shoulder, and Jared shrinks away from his touch with a gasp that sounds so full of pain.
“Don’t,” he whispers. “Please…please, don’t…”
And Shannon draws back, just as quickly as Jared drew away, desperate to touch him. But Jared’s murmuring to himself.

“Want it to be you…can’t be you, it’s already you…God…”

“Jared,” Shannon says again and it’s harder to say than before.
“I hate…hate it…all of it…why are we…why is it you..?”
“Please,” he whispers. “Please talk to me? Please, please, Jared, please talk to me-”
“It’s you!” Jared answers, head snapping up so he can stare at Shannon and there are tears streaking his face just like ones Shannon knows streak his own.
“Me?” Shannon whispers, “it’s me?”
“It was always you,” he says. “It was always fucking you and I…How can it be you?”
“I don’t understand,” he whispers, and Jared almost screams at him.
“I come to you! You’re who I come to! I feel like this and you save me! And, this time…this time it was you!”
Shannon can’t breathe. He knows that, knew that, knew it had to be something like that, knew Jared was hiding something but hearing him say the words…hearing him mean it…
“I gave you all of me!” Jared continues. “I trusted you with something I was ashamed of, something I can’t change and you…you…”
“I know,” Shannon whispers, reaching out again, shaking his head as he does because he does know. “I know, I-”
“Don’t touch me!” Jared answers. “You called me…”
And he coughs through a sob.
“I thought you loved me…”
Shannon’s eyes go wide and he…he can’t say a word.
“Shannon, I thought you loved me and you…What’s wrong with me?”
“I didn’t mean that,” Shannon tells him, shock snapping his brain into action. “I didn’t mean what’s wrong with you-”
“Then why did you say it?” Jared asks him.
“I…I don’t know-”
“You said it because it true,” Jared whispers, and Shannon can see there’s no hope in his eyes this time. “Admit it.”
And Shannon doesn’t want to. Shannon doesn’t want to tell him but it’s the truth and he sees it and hates it.
“I’m so sorry,” he says, and Jared hides his head again. “No, please, Jared-”
“I can’t stay here,” Jared says. “And I can’t leave here. And I…why? Why didn’t you tell me? Why couldn’t you just-”
“I was scared,” Shannon answers, trying to keep his voice steady enough that he can speak. “I was so scared and I didn’t understand and I love you, more than anything and I couldn’t understand what you were and I just…I wanted to help you-”
“You wanted to change me,” Jared moans. “I can’t change.”
“I didn’t,” Shannon says, and he shuffles closer because that’s the truth, too, “I didn’t want to change you, I never wanted to change you I just…I just wanted to understand! I just wanted to know why you…why she…I don’t know who she is, Jared. I don’t know who she is.”
And Jared lifts his head and stares at Shannon, stares right at him and doesn’t even blink.
“She’s me,” he says, and this time, Shannon hears it.
“Did you think,” Jared whispers, “that I honestly thought I could…that I thought I changed every time I…did that?”
Shannon can feel that his mouth is hanging open, that his eyes are wide.
“She’s you?” he whispers, and Jared looks away so quickly and with such a pained expression that it looks like Shannon slapped him in the face.
“I know who I am,” Jared tells him. “I’ve always known. And I wanted to be different but I couldn’t. And she was…she was different. She was what I wanted. She was always part of me. I didn’t have two minds, I wasn’t two fucking people it was just her. Me. I could be different. I could be stronger. I didn’t have to be so…I could say what I wanted when I was her.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Shannon whispers, his voice a plea. “You have to believe me. I love you, I love you so much and I love all of you, no matter what you want to be, what you are. I love you.”
Jared tips his head back as though he might laugh but he’s so far from laughing.
“How can I believe you? You called me wrong, you called me wrong and you told me…Shannon, she’s me. And I can’t change that.”
“I didn’t mean you were wrong, I just…I was scared, I was terrified and I didn’t understand – I just wanted to understand, Jared.”
“Understand what?” Jared asked. “Why did you have to know? Why couldn’t you just accept it?”
And Shannon shakes his head, swallowing past the ache in his throat.
“I love you,” he says again and he can feel his eyes stinging once more. “I love you so much and I love all of you and I wanted to know why.”
“Why?” Jared asks, and he’s confused, Shannon can hear it.
“Why you do it, why it made you happy, why it felt good. I wanted to know why you wanted it.”
Jared just stares at him, searching his face, and there, there is the glimmer of hope.
“What?” he whispers.
“That’s why!” Shannon says. “That’s why I went into her makeup-”
“My makeup-”
“That’s why!”
Jared shakes his head, still doesn’t understand and Shannon can see it. He can see it! He can see what the hell he’s been trying to say for days, for weeks.
“I went into your makeup because I just…I wanted to try and feel whatever it is you feel, I wanted to know why you do it, why it feels good, how it feels. I just…”
And he can’t breathe again. It hurts so much to speak, to understand and he wants Jared to know it, to feel it.
“I wanted to understand her,” he whispers. “And I was too scared to tell you, and I didn’t think I could handle it and I did it because it was so difficult that I was…I was afraid I’d lose you.”
“Lose me?” Jared whispers back and the hope is stronger and Shannon prays he doesn’t fuck this up again.
“I was so scared, Jared,” he breathes. “I was…I didn’t understand. I don’t understand but I…It doesn’t matter. I-I miss her…”
Jared shakes his head and claws at his face.
“You miss her?” he says, and he sounds confused, in pain, frustrated.
“I miss her,” Shannon says again, as softly as he can. “I miss you more than anything but…I miss her, too. Because she’s…I love you more than anything, I do. And if she comes with you then I’ll love her too. I already love her too because she…she’s you. Okay? I love you.”
And then he stops.
He can’t think of anything else to say – there isn’t anything else to say. And Jared looks away. He’s so obviously thinking about it and he takes so long. And yes, he has every right to take as long as he wants, but Shannon lets him because this is their breaking point. This is where it happens, this is where they make their decision. And it has to be the right one.
“I…” Jared whispers, after so long that Shannon had started to wonder if he’d ever speak again. “I don’t know…how to bring her back.”
Shannon closes his eyes, biting his lip.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers, and Jared nods.
“I know,” he says. “But I…I can’t help this. I don’t know what to think anymore. I know you didn’t…mean what you said. Not the way you said it. But I…you still said it and I-I can’t…I can’t show you that again. Not…not now.”
“You…you take as long as you need,” Shannon says, fighting back tears that have only just stopped.

“Shannon, I don’t know…if I can bring her back. She doesn’t feel right.”

“I don’t care what you decide,” Shannon says. “You know how I feel and I don’t care if you think I never deserve to see her again just…please, don’t let this…”
“I don’t know,” Jared tells him. “I don’t know if I…I can’t just let this go, Shannon.”
“I know,” Shannon nods. “I know and I’m so sorry but please-”
“It’s gonna…it’s gonna take me time. It’s gonna take…I don’t know how long it’s going take.”
Shannon almost reaches out to him again, stopping himself short, and Jared looks at him.
“Please,” he whispers.
He leans forward as Shannon leas forward and Shannon holds onto him, wraps his arms around him and holds onto him and Jared holds him back and shakes, crying silently into Shannon’s shoulder.
Shannon’s ruined everything, he knows he has. But please, God, please, this has to fix things, just start fixing things. It has to. 

Over the next few days, Jared unpacks his suitcase and stays in his room again.

He and Shannon talk things out the way they should have before.
They talk about the easy things, like Shannon missing Jared. Jared missing Shannon. It doesn’t change how they act around each other but, by the end of the next week, they’re talking properly again.
They talk about the difficult things, like Scarlett and who she is. That she was always Jared. It doesn’t make it any easier to talk about but, after a fortnight, Jared will sit next to Shannon on the couch, snuggle up to him.
They talk about the things neither of them want to address. How difficult it is for Shannon though he’s willing to try. How difficult it is for Jared, though he wants to make an effort. And it doesn’t change how awkward it feels but, after a month, Jared follows Shannon to his bed.
They don’t make love – Jared isn’t ready for that. But they talk into the small hours of the morning and hold each other close and touch innocently enough for the two of them – arms and faces, stroking spines and tangling legs.
And this is how it’s going to be. Slow, painful, never easy.
But Jared couldn’t leave and Shannon couldn’t let him.
It will always be that way.
After a year, they’re okay.
They’re still not what they were but it’s almost all there again. Shannon still keeps the photo album of all that time ago in a drawer under their bed.
And Jared knows it’s there, but Jared would.
And they don’t talk about it. Except when they’re talking about it.
But Shannon likes to take it out, on occasion, and flip through it, think of the first time. When everything was new and unusual and – dare he think it – more than a little kinky. But what the fuck does it matter now?
Some of the contents aren’t what might be expected, but he likes them all the same. They show him how pleasant it can be when it’s not all about sex. Although… 
When Jared walks into the bedroom, he finds Shannon still lying on his stomach on the bed, staring at his favorite photograph - his favorite one in the whole secret album, and it’s the one he stares at now.
All that time ago, all those years ago, in the hotel room after their party, after he carried Jared and didn’t know who he really was, after Jared came to him and stayed with him, when Shannon was taking photographs, just before Jared finished his cigarette, just before he left, someone or something made a noise in the street outside their hotel room.
They were high enough up that there was no need to worry about unwanted observers, but it had distracted Jared and, just for a moment, there was no posing, no coy little smiles or sexy little pouts. Shannon was close enough to get a head shot and it was just Jared, a nearly-finished cigarette in hand, happy and carefree and without any pretense.
Just Scarlett, before everything. Back when they were everything.
And Jared sits on the bed beside him, rolls onto his stomach and lies next to him with his feet in the air, crossed at the ankles, and they flip through the album together.
She’s here, she’s coming back to them slowly - Shannon can feel her. He can see her in the change in Jared’s gestures and, recently, Jared’s been wearing her coats, been wandering around the house in her sensible shoes. He’s lying on the bed next to Shannon with fishnets on under his skinny jeans and, tonight, they’ll make love.
“I love you,” Shannon says, and Jared looks at him, smiles.
“I love you, too,” he says, and kisses Shannon softly.
Then they go back to looking at the album because, whatever happens, he loves all of Jared. He’ll love Jared and Scarlett and he’ll love them because he means it.
And even if it takes her another year, another two, another ten, he’ll wait.
Because Jared needs Scarlett, needs Shannon to love Scarlett - and Shannon does. So Jared is learning to be Scarlett again because yes, it’s just her coats, just her shoes, just her fishnets.
But it’s a start