“No, I’m not secretly a millionaire.” Dylan laughed. The rich guy was my ex Jasper. You’ve read about him, right?” Who was Jasper? Ian had read about Niels and how… wait a minute.
“Jasper was the guy you were dating before the um…” Ian didn’t know how to say this.
“Would you tell me about that?” he said. Completely forgetting himself. This was going in a completely different direction than he had been expecting. He knew it wasn’t a fun story for Dylan to tell either, so he quickly added: “You don’t have to, of course.” But please do, I’m dying to know… he mentally added.
“It’s okay. You found out weeks ago, and you were probably wondering what my story was anyway. I know I would. So, sure, I’ll tell you.”
Ian’s heart jumped a little. Oh, god he’s gonna tell me. He’s going to open up. He trusts me. Oh my god he trusts me enough to share this insane horror story…
Dylan, seemingly having no idea about Ian’s mental implosion, started very calmly. “Jasper was my boyfriend in university. He studied medicine at the time. We dated for a bit, nothing serious at first. But then his parents died in a car crash, and he had no other family and we just... I don’t know. He needed me to be more, so it became more.
We started living together in his family’s mansion, yes they were that kind of family. Old riches, art, crazy heirlooms, Swiss bank accounts, you name it. But Jasper didn’t care about the money. He didn’t seem to care about anything anymore, and I tried to be there for him as best as I could. After my graduation I went to work, but Jasper never finished his education. He didn’t like me working either, said he had enough money so neither of us would have to. But as I said, that’s just not me. So I got a job as a psychologist.
Jasper didn’t use to be such a recluse either, but his parents’ death had really changed him. He wasn’t the same ambitious man I got to know. He locked himself up in that huge house, like a golden prison, neglecting his friends and trying to tie me down with it. It was hard. I loved him and I didn’t want to leave him, but it wasn’t okay like that. So I started trying to get him to go outside more. I took him to the pride parade, like when we were just dating, we went to bars together, hung out with my friends. But it didn’t really work for him, until he met someone new by himself.
This guy came to the house all the time and played videogames with Jasper when I was at work. I was really happy when Jasper told me. He seemed to be doing better, having a friend around the house. I met him over dinner one day and well…”
“Alarms went off?” Ian said, seeing where this story was going. Obviously, Dylan was being cheated on.
“Yeah well, you could say that. I fell completely head-over heels in love with the guy.”
“Oh, shit.” Ian didn’t know why he said that. Yeah, he did, because he knew what was going to happen, right? But somehow, there was something else too. Hearing Dylan say he fell madly in love with someone that wasn’t Ian, made him cringe.
“Yeah. And then Jasper said he had been thinking that the house was so big, and Niels didn’t have a place of his own. He proposed Niels would be living with us, since he was always there anyway.”
“Wait, was he suggesting what I think he was?” Ian asked. This was obviously turning into a multi-person arrangement… he hadn’t figured Dylan would be that adventurous, but hey, he could be wrong.
“No, he was not. I did ask him straight if there was something going on between the two of them, but he denied it and I believed him. But I still said I didn’t think it was a good idea, mainly because of my own feelings, which I didn’t tell him about. But Jasper persisted, saying it was his house and he made the rules. I was a little angry, of course, but Jasper was so much happier with Niels around that I accepted it for his sake.”
“How long before shit went sideways?” Ian asked. He knew what came next, but he wanted to hear it from Dylan.
“It took a while. We actually had a lot of fun together, our relationship even got better with Niels there. But I couldn’t shake the feelings I got when Niels and I were together. He had captivated me, it drove me crazy. Niels knew and just played right into it. One night, Jasper went to sleep halfway through a movie we were watching, and well… things happened.”
Okay, so Dylan cheated on his man. He hadn’t expected that from such a saint. But it was probably all Niels’s fault. He was the criminal who had played the both of them, right?
“Yeah, so I wanted to tell Jasper, but Niels told me I couldn’t, for we both would lose our home. So I gave in and tried to pretend it had never happened, but then it happened again.”
Hmm.. maybe Dylan was a bit of a jerk anyway. Or maybe all is fair in love and war, Ian wouldn’t know, he had experienced neither.
“I couldn’t stand myself being such an asshole, so I broke up with Jasper. I didn’t tell him about what had happened, because Niels begged me not to. In the end, it seemed I was worried about nothing, because Jasper never even asked why. He just said okay, and I moved out.”
“How crazy is that dude!? He just let you go without a fight?” Ian yelled out. Then realised what he had just said and tried to make his face look like he was joking.
Dylan chuckled and smiled his perfect smile.
“Ha, yeah well… I kind of thought that was for the best, since I had been an obvious jerk. As for his reasons... they were probably the same.
I kept seeing Niels though. Some part of me already knew the guy was poison, some part of me also knew he was fucking Jasper too. But I had never been so crazy about anyone, ever. So I kept accepting him back…
Then one day he showed up at my place with his bags packed. He said I was right, and he had moved out of Jaspers house as well. He said he loved me and wanted to make it work. He wanted us to move abroad, to the States or Argentina or something. I said yes, knowing full well something was off, but the idea of traveling the world with him just made me so happy… Two days of preparation later I received Jasper's letter.”
“It was a note warning me about Niels. Explaining that he had played us both, that he had ran away with Jasper’s money, that he had done that before to other people too. It said that the police were looking for him and I needed to stay away from him. I read the letter three times, and something within it confirmed a strange feeling I had been having from the get-go, but I hadn’t really given it any attention because well…” Dylan lifted his arm is an apologetical motion.
“You were crazy about him.” Ian said. It hurt to keep a straight face. This Niels was already dead, but otherwise Ian would’ve hunted him down and tortured him.
“I didn’t believe it at first. I thought it was Jasper being pissed, because he found out about us. So I called him. A policewoman answered his phone and told me Jasper had died of an overdose of painkillers. I completely panicked, and I told her about the letter. She confirmed Jasper had written the truth, so I told them Niels was with me."
Holy shit, Ian thought, but kept his mouth shut. He didn't want Dylan to stop talking, but he also wanted to hug him so bad. Ian couldn't imagine what it would feel like to have a phonecall like that... And the fact that he knew that wasn't even going to be the worst part... Ian felt his heart ache as Dylan stoically contunied his story.
"Niels had obviously heard my phone call and, as the sirens approached, told me how much he loved me. He said he had never loved anyone before, until he met me. Told me we were meant to be, soulmates, like Bonnie and Clyde."
Why did crazy people keep telling Dylan he was their soulmate?
"At first, I thought he was just saying things, trying to get me to call off the cops. But when he showed me the gun, I knew he wasn’t. ‘You’ll be mine forever’, was the last thing he said. Then he shot me. I woke up in a hospital two weeks later.”
Ian didn’t know how to respond to this. He looked at Dylan’s expression. Although he had told the story in a tone of voice that suggested he was talking about what he had for breakfast, there was emotion visible in his eyes, but Ian wasn’t sure what it was. Something complicated, understandably. Ian only then realised how worn out Dylan must actually be, emotionally. One second his thoughts went back to that heartbreaking sight of Dylan crying in the bar when he sung for him. And how special that must be... Ian really wanted to hold Dylan in his arms, stoke his hair... Lucky for Ian, there was a table in between them. So instead, Ian took Dylan’s hand and held it in both of his.
“How do you feel about all this now?” Ian asked, after minutes of silence.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be okay. Because it wasn’t okay. I still feel like a dick for betraying Jasper, walking out on him and just… I feel responsible for his death. Still.”
“Well, you’re not. Besides, he cheated on you too, right? Do you still hate him? That Niels bastard?” The name felt like venom on his lips. Ian was pretty sure he hated everyone called Niels right now, which wasn’t fair, but fuck all of them.
“He broke my heart, he really did. And that’s it, I guess. I don’t hate him anymore. I did: right after the incident I blamed him for everything. Convinced myself he had just been playing me, like everyone else, but now I’m not so sure. But whatever was going on in Niels' head, it doesn’t matter anyway. He broke my heart, and it took ages to pull some of the pieces back together again.”
“And then you found Sean and you married him, and eventually he killed himself too.” Ian said, and Dylan nodded. “Jezus Dylan. That’s so fucked up. I’m so sorry you had to go through that…”
“Says you! Your scar story is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever heard! At least I had a loving family to be there for me, you were all alone!” Dylan exclaimed. Then, apparently shaking by his own outburst, returned to his usual tone of voice, and added: “besides, it’s hard for me to feel anything nowadays. But your music really helps.”
That warmed Ian to the core. He felt himself too conscious of his raising pulse and sweating palms. It was, again, a blessing that there was a table in between them, because Ian had an overwhelming urge to kiss Dylan and that would be insanely stupid.
Instead he jumped up and opted for dessert. He had really outdone himself on that one. He had made blue cheese tarts with caramelized pears. It was risky, since Dylan had specifically stated he would never eat blue cheese, but that was what made it fun. They didn’t smell so pungent anymore, so technically Dylan couldn’t use his ‘if it smells don’t eat it’- principle on this one. Besides, Ian wasn’t going to tell them what was in it, until after he had taken a bite.