He and Shannon finished the Q&A and were soon backstage. He knew that Shannon was still worried about him, those familiar eyes searching his with question whenever they caught each other’s gazes. Jared wanted to tell him that everything was alright, that there wasn’t any need to be worried because it was all ridiculous anyways. He could say that, he could make sure that, albeit with reluctance, Shannon would give him his space. But Jared actually didn’t want that. He needed to hear someone tell him that things were the same as they always were and just because he had met someone that had somehow changed his way of thinking in such a short time that didn’t mean that things had to change.
Sitting down, his head resting back against the white wall a small breath escaped his lips, his hands folded in his lap. He wanted to block out any noise that fluttered through the building. He even wanted to block out the silence that wanted to reign inside of him. There were ways to get past this. There were moments that altered you but they weren’t always permanent even if you felt that they were. Like he said he was being entirely ridiculous. That explained all of this, Essie, the wind whispering through her hair, those glistening eyes, the brush of her lips, the yearning that was formed inside of him. He couldn’t grasp it, he had to let it go.
“Hey…” Shannon’s voice came to him as he sat on the couch across from him. He was leaning forward, hair falling in his eyes. There was concern there like there always was when it came to the both of them. He could read Jared so clearly and sometimes he wasn’t sure if that was such a good thing, they couldn’t keep anything from each other. But right now that was what Jared wanted. He wanted to pressed, wanted to find a good explanation somehow. “…Everything alright?”
Jared thought about it. Was everything alright? Physically he was fine, mentally he was alright but spiritually, internally there was something that plagued him. There was that loneliness that barred peace from entering your mind. There was that cold and hard fact that he had only just faced. The fact that he was by himself. That through his own coldness, his own need to protect himself he had distanced off everyone that could have potentially cared about him. He hadn’t done that tonight and yet tonight he had been pushed away. Was this a pattern that he was never going to get rid of? Never going to escape from?
“I’m fine.” He said, softly smiling over at him as he sank further back into the couch. His arms folded behind his head and his eyes steered away from Shannon and to an anonymous spot on the wall. Maybe if he said it enough he could get rid of that nagging feeling. He was lying. He knew he was lying but that was what he wanted to do. Lie to make everything go away. Wear a mask like he always did. He was Jared Leto, some random girl couldn’t get to him. He could have any girl in this city, couldn’t he? Any girl that had come to the venue tonight would have willingly offered him a moment between their legs. He was trying to find comfort in that.
Shannon stared at him a moment. There was worry there. Jared never disappeared from an important event, especially not one that involved the Echelon, especially not one that had to do with Artifact. He knew just as much as the next person just how important this film was to Jared. It hadn’t been anger that he had been feeling when he’d been busy entertaining the audience as they tried to get a hold of Jared in the back, it was worry. He wasn’t answering his phone, wasn’t anywhere to be found. He was one step away from having the police roam the city for his baby brother when he came on in through the front doors of the venue, smiling and waving as if nothing was out of place. But he could see it now, there in those wide blue eyes that he often found solace in. Something was bothering him and that alone made Shannon remain where he was.
Jared’s eyes caught Shannon’s just then and he laughed softly at the intent stare he was receiving. “What?” He questioned in the laugh, leaning forward to grab his bottle of water from off the table. Twisting off the cap he took a drink, swallowing it down before resting it between his legs. A sigh escaped his lips as he nodded, pushing back the wind weathered strands of his hair. “Alright, I’m sorry for being late. I’ll remember next time. Just…It slipped my mind.”
Shannon visibly rolled his eyes and Jared had to laugh at that. It was a rather rare action to catch his brother doing, especially now. Last time he’d seen it was when he and Jared were at a party and some actress had “fallen” into Jared’s lap and started discussing plans she had worked up in her head about him getting her some kind of work. That had been a few years ago and now it happened again. This was what Jared needed a moment to clear his head, to fall back into his routine, to lean on his brother when he needed him most.
“Nothing ever slips your mind. If something slips someone else’s mind you blow a shit fit. Don’t lie to me…what happened? Got caught up in some ex girlfriend you ran into? Met a new girl you don’t want me to know about and the two of you had hot enough sex that you were almost two hours late to your own premiere?” He questioned but wasn’t interrogating. “And why the hell didn’t you answer your phone? You know that’s what scared me most. You not answering your phone? That could have meant you were murdered or something.”
Jared chuckled and gave a shrug of his shoulders. His hand reached into his coat and he pulled out what was left of his phone and he nearly smiled at the sight of it, strangely enough. He could still feel her arms around him in that moment, those whispered words. Let go. He set the destroyed phone onto the table and then lifted his eyes to Shannon’s. “I think I should tell you something…” His voice had lowered, seeing as there were other people in the room.
Shannon nodded, staring at the phone for a moment in a bit of confusion. What exactly had destroyed his phone like that was obviously something- or someone that Jared wasn’t mad at. That was a higher point of confusion. Things definitely need to clarified. He gave his brother his full attention as he lifted his leg up onto the couch, resting his chin on his knee as he waited for Jared’s explanation. This had to be good, he wouldn’t settled for anything else.
Jared avoided his eyes, avoided seeing the expression on Shannon’s face period. He didn’t need to see the amusement or the disbelief until after he was finished. The words came flowing out quicker than he had originally thought they would. Saying it all made it seem so much more real. Recounting it all made Essie much more alive and breathing. He had tried to convince himself that maybe he’d hit his head, fallen into a sleep with the strangest, most beautiful and unbelievable dream. But this was real. Too real.
Finally the explanation came to an end and Jared found his brother’s eyes almost nervously. He bit at his nails, a habit he had vowed to never do again and yet there he was. He felt like something of a teenager again, coming to Shannon about a girl he used to like, coming to Shannon about the idea of dropping out, going to Shannon for just about everything. But this here was different. This was so much more bigger than all of that combined. He wasn’t sure why this was so altering but it was. Somehow it was.
For a moment Shannon just stared at Jared before a steady breath came whispering from his lips. He reached forward, fingering what was left of the phone before he carefully removing the SIM card that was left undamaged, thankfully. “And are you going back there?” He questioned, his voice not giving away anything at all as to what he was feeling, what he was possibly thinking.
That question was what he was anticipating. He wanted to, wanted to go into that falling building and slip inside, take her up in his arms and feel all those things he had felt tonight all over. He wanted to find purpose in her eyes again. But he shook his head nonetheless, all nervousness fading as he stood up. “No.” He said firmly and with finality.
“What? Why not?” Shannon questioned, eyes following Jared as he grabbed something to drink from the table nearby. The water was left abandoned on the couch, Shannon glanced towards it and knew that he’d just gotten up to find something to do with his anxiousness.
Jared twisted the cap off whatever he was holding and brought it to his lips. His mind rolled with excuses, filled with searching before he gave a shrug of his shoulders. “Because it’s stupid.” He replied as if that was really the only and most reasonable reason he could have found.
Shannon’s brows tensed and he shook his head. He walked on over to where Jared was and set the SIM card down onto the tables surface before lightly squeezing his brother’s shoulder. “Can’t keep running, Jay.” He softly told him, placing a pat on his back and then slipped out of the room.
Jared sighed, setting the bottle down and brought his fingers to rub lightly at his forehead. Somewhere inside he knew that Shannon was right, somewhere he knew that was something he had to understand and adapt to his life. But that’s what he did. He ran.