Chapter Twenty-Eight

After that last long gaze, Belle finally pulled away from her partner and, with one final glance, turned and left the room. Jason watched her go longingly, wanting to call her back, but knowing it wasn’t the right time. He knew had to let her go this time. Theirmoment had been just that - a moment. A long one, perhaps; a significant one, maybe, but it wasn’t meant to be anything more... yet.

As she turned the corner and walked out of view, Jason sighed and turned to go back into the room, but realized he was being watched. Ross was standing a few feet away, obviously on his way back to their room, watching Jason watch Belle.

Jason took a deep breath. Great. He’d been avoiding his roommate for quite awhile, and even more since the incident in the lobby, but it didn’t look like there was any escaping this time. Ross was headed right to the room, and he had that “We are goingto talk, now,” look on his face.

And the second he got into the room, that was exactly how he greeted his friend.

“We’re gonna talk,” he informed Jason, throwing his bag down on his bed. “Now.”

Jason didn’t even bother trying the excuse thing this time. Might as well face the music... he was beginning to get used to it, he thought bitterly.

“Okay, what the hell has been going on?!” Ross questioned. “Between what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard I’ve got this really strange story in my head, so you might as well clarify things before I think you’ve gone completely nuts.”

“Completely nuts sounds about right,” Jason replied glumly. “Actually, it might be a bit of an understatment.”

“No general statements,” Ross warned sternly. “I want the story. The whole story.”

“Tell me what you’ve heard first,” his friend said with a sigh. “It might cut a few hours off the story.”

“A few hours?” Ross asked warily.

“It’s a long story,” was all Jason could say.

“So I figured.” Ross shook his head. “Okay, you want to know what I heard? I’m warning you, man, it’s not exactly from the most reliable of sources... and some of it is not going to sound very... um, nice.”

“Forget nice,” Jason muttered. “It’s not a very nice story, anyhow. First, I have a question for you. Were you in the lobby that night?”

“No,” Ross answered. “Didn’t you notice?”

“I was so screwed up that I wouldn’t have noticed if the Queen of England was in that lobby.” Jason groaned. “Well, anyways, you were probably the only person who wasn’t there.”

“But I heard quite a bit,” Ross said carefully.

“Question number two,” Jason interrupted. “Did you... uh ... did he talk to you at all, after that?”

He?” Ross was confused, then struck with realization. “Oh. You mean... Colin, right?”

“Yeah.” Jason’s reply was barely audible.

“No,” his friend replied. “Jeff said he didn’t talk to anyone. He just left.”

“Yeah, I heard.” Another sigh from Jason’s corner.

“Okay, do you want to know what I heard or not?” Jason nodded, and Ross continued. “Can I be blunt?”

“Why are you asking me?” Jason retorted, giving him a look. “Yeah, go ahead, be as blunt as you please.”

“What I’ve heard is, Belle cheated on Colin. With you. That it was going on for quite a while, Colin found out, and blew up on her in front of everyone in the lobby that night.” Ross paused. “I know Colin left this morning. I also know that we wereroommates for over a month and I saw you very rarely at night, if at all, that you were acting very strange, and I’m guessing that had something to do with the whole deal.”

“That’s a pretty good summary,” Jason said with a bitter laugh.

“Well, if that’s the summary, why don’t you fill in the blanks for me?” Ross suggested. “Jay, we are supposed to be friends, right? Well, friends tell each other things. They don’t hide from the world. And I completely do not understand how you of all people got involved in something like this, so I think I’d like an explanation.”

“Like I said, it’s a long story,” Jason repeated. “I think it might just be easier if you ask questions and I answer.”

“Will you answer straight?” Ross asked, raising his eyebrows.

“As much as I’d rather not talk about it, yes,” Jason responded, flopping down onto his bed.

“Okay.” His friend thought for a minute. “When did it start.”

Jason calculated in his head. “Just over three months ago.”

“Three months ago?!” Ross repeated incredulously. “Before Worlds? That long ago?”

“Well, it didn’t exactly start before Worlds...” Jason trailed off.

“What do you mean, it didn’t exactly start?” Ross asked. “Did it start then, or not?”

“It started, but it didn’t.” Jason proceeded to tell the story of The Kiss, and how the entire affair had started, while his friend listened intently.

“God, one kiss, eh?” Ross shook his head once again. “Whoa. Talk about sparks flying!”

“It wasn’t sparks,” Jason replied ruefully. “It was... fireworks.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet.” Ross had to laugh. “You and Belle... who would’ve thought?” He then made a face and thought about what he’d just said. “Wait. Strike that. A lot of people.”

“Not me,” his friend sighed. “And I’ll bet not Belle, either.”

“Okay, so then you guys couldn’t stay away from each other ... then what?” Ross inquired.

“Then we promised we’d go on tour and really stay away from each other,” Jason said. “And gee, that really worked.”

“So you started sneaking around.” Things were beginning to clear up for Ross. “Okay, I get it. So that’s why you were around for the first week or so, and then started disappearing all the time. And then when Colin came...”

“We swore we had to stay away,” Jason filled in. “But that didn’t work too long, either.”

“You just couldn’t stay away from each other, could you?” Ross couldn’t help but tease a bit. “Once you guys got started...”

Jason threw a pillow at him.

“That’s not funny,” he replied, trying not to crack a smile. “Because you know what? It was absolutely 100% true.”

“You!” was all Ross could say. “Of all the people in the world to get tangled in something like *this*, you! I can barely believe it.”

“Gee, thanks,” Jason responded sarcastically.

“So, what now?” Ross asked, more subdued. “He’s gone. What are you going to do now?”

“Nothing.” Jason stared at the ceiling.

Nothing?” Ross repeated, baffled. “What do you mean, nothing?”

“Exactly what I said,” his friend answered. “I have to wait for her. I can’t do anything until she decides it’s really over.”

“And if it was?” Ross pressed.

“Then I’d tell her what I want to tell her,” Jason said carefully. “But I can’t... yet.”

“And what do you want to tell her?” Ross was getting exasperated. “C’mon, man, talk for more than a sentence at a time!”

“You know.” Jason was careful to avoid his friend’s eyes.

“I might know, but I’d like to hear you say it,” Ross said with a shrug.

“That I... that I love her.” Jason finally turned his glance away from the ceiling. “You know, that’s the first time I’ve said that out loud.”

“I had a feeling,” Ross said with a half-smile. “First time’s always the hardest, you know. It’ll get easier.”

“I hope so.” Jason absently looked towards the door and realized he was picturing Belle there, coming to him to tell him everything was going to be okay, that they could finally be together ... but he knew it wasn’t going to happen. “I’ve just got to wait now. It’s up to her.”

Onto Chapter 29
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