side pipe

7

The Basket furniture collection by Alain Gilles Studio

For the British Vincent Sheppard furniture company the Alain Gilles Studio created a modern interpretation of rattan furnitures. The Basket collection is an armchair and a side table. The side table is set together of a basket and a removable tablet. The rattan parts are supported by lacquered steel.

Out of all the Legends’ behaviour, I just can’t get past how - how angry I am with Martin Stein.

He knew Mick had been hallucinating Snart. He knew. Mick came to him early in the episode, saying he’s seeing Snart again, saying that he thinks it’s real - and Stein just - dismisses him. Doesn’t even take two seconds to consider whether some version of Snart is actually walking around (despite the Legion being literally composed of past versions of known supervillains, so it shouldn’t have been an entirely impossible thought) or, just as likely, that his team mate’s mental condition is deteriorating to the point where he needs serious help.

But no. Stein dismisses him.

And then, when it turns out that Snart was real and Mick, thinking him a hallucination, told him their plans, Stein is right there on the “blame Rory” train.

And the thing is? He’s the only one aboard who could have said “No, Mr. Rory has been hallucinating Snart before.” He could have said: “Mr. Rory came to me and told me he’d seen Snart again and thought he might have been real, and I dismissed him.” He could have said many things.

He chose to blame Mick.

Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the Legends acted like assholes as well, and the fact that at the end only Ray seemed to even be willing to admit that they’d behaved poorly towards Mick, well - some heroes they are. (And not too bright, either - Mick had told them straight up, that if it came to a choice between them and Len, he’d choose Len - and Sara still handed him the spear…)

The rest of the Legends were stupid and assholes this week. But honestly? Martin Stein? Is a terrible, awful, despicable excuse for a human being.

Way Better than Bumble (Spencer Reid x Reader)

Hi loves! Another Unbeta’d fluffy request fill for anon who wanted “request about reader is Garcia’s close friend and she sees the team out for drinks or something and she goes up to Garcia’s and gets introduced to the team & hits it off with Reid.” Hope you enjoy it! xx 


You tousled with your hair one last time before you grabbed your keys, thinking that it was as good as it was going to get (a conclusion you had to make each time you got ready to go out, if you were being honest). Half of you was excited at the prospect of meeting this guy from Bumble, but another half hated this. You and Michael had hit it off well enough on the app, he was good at keeping up conversation without being pushy or getting weird, but there was an awkwardness that you couldn’t shake. You didn’t even tell you best friend Penelope about the date, afraid to look desperate - or that Pen would try and set you up herself.

Keep reading

Knuckles : Boxer!Ashton (Part 9)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight  | Part Nine

- Knuckles Playlist


“Why would you keep this from me?”

“I didn’t know what to tell you,” you admitted. “It’s my problem, Ash, not yours.”

Your eyes mindlessly run over the popcorn texture of your ceiling as you lie stoically in bed, arms resting rigidly over your sore stomach that keeps clenching and tightening every time your thoughts take you a step closer to the edge of your emotional pit.

“When has that ever been how we handle things?” Ashton asked, offended. “Your problems are my problems, Y/n—what if you start failing classes?” he added. “What if you have to stay there for another semester to make up for them? You think that doesn’t affect me, too?”

“I’m not going to fail any classes.”

“You might at this rate.”

“You’re being a dick.”

“Baby, I’m being realistic!” Ashton exasperated, startling you. “This relationship is making you miserable.”

“It’s not our relationship,” you were quick to clarify. “It’s the distance, it just…it’s hard.”

Ashton didn’t speak for a while, the span of silence sizzling out the heat of the argument and allowing your jumbled thoughts to evaporate into a thinner layer of fog. You weren’t sure how you were expecting this conversation to go, but the path it ended up taking had to be one of the worst directions.

“It’s hard for me, too,” he eventually confessed, “but what it’s doing to you is fucking unhealthy.”

Another step closer to the pit. Your eyes close tightly for this one as your stomach flexes again, a weak set of brakes desperately squealing from struggling to stop the fast momentum.

“I’ll figure something out,” you croaked as an empty promise, only trying to reassure him and put an end to this conversation.

But Ashton could see right through you if he even heard you at all. “Y/n…”

“What?”

The line went silent for a long moment again. Your body began to shiver with anxiety, trembling more vehemently when you heard the cracked grumble of his voice restarting.

“This isn’t working.”

The brakes can’t do anything this time when the rocky border of the pit starts to crumble like a sinkhole, expanding the mass of the dark drop until it’s breaking apart the ground beneath you and you’re falling through. You turn on your side as the pipes burst and the sobbing initiates for what feels like the hundredth round tonight. Every release hurts worse than the last, core exhausted from endless tension, throat dry from shouts being muffled into your pillow, eyes red and puffy from rubbing them raw. You wish you could stop thinking about the stupid phone call, stop your own head from torturing you with the same replay of Ashton’s words, but being engrossed by him is what got you into this mess in the first place, and if you couldn’t control yourself when you were dating him, how were you supposed to now that you weren’t?


Ashton can’t sit still, frying the wooden floor beneath his feet with the friction of his incessant pacing. His scalp has numbed from how many times he’s tugged his hair in frantic thought, the battle between taking it all back and convincing himself that he did the right thing portrayed by every disarrayed strand. It’s not too late. He could ring you again and apologize, beg you to forget everything he just said, tell you he didn’t mean it, but none of it would be true. You need this whether you’re able to see it for yourself yet or not, and he needs to be firm in his decision no matter how badly he’d like to change his mind.

“You’re breaking up with me?”

Ashton’s heart wanted to explode in his chest, knowing immediately that the pain behind that question would stick around to haunt him for a long while. He could imagine the look you had on your face, the distressed creases in your forehead and hurt in your watering eyes; if he had to see that in person there’s no way he’d be able to go through with any of this.

“It doesn’t have to be forever,” he said, fighting the internal voice begging him to shut up. “Just until you graduate.”

“Why does it have to be at all?”

“Because it’s what’s best for you.”

“You are.” Your voice was so weak it was barely audible at that point, and Ashton could tell that you had started crying.

“Clearly I’m not,” he objected softly. “Not right now.”

There was no way for Ashton to escape being the bad guy. If he continued to keep you in this relationship, allowing you to rely on him as your one source of happiness while the rest of your life was pushed to the back burner, he was selfish. And if he completely removed himself from the equation, giving you the space you obviously needed to focus on yourself without having him as a distraction, well, he was just flat out breaking your heart.  

“Can we still talk?” you suggested hopelessly, not expecting to hear the answer you wanted but having to try for it anyway.

Ashton’s hand moved to cover his eyes, applying pressure to prevent his own heartache from leaking. “I’m still here if you need me, or if something ever happens…” he couldn’t finish his sentence, blocking his imagination from going that route. “But no, baby, we probably shouldn’t talk.”

Ashton pauses in front of his bedroom door and uses the side of his fist to punch it.

“Are you gonna see other people?” 

“Of course not,” he said, appalled that you could even consider that as a factor in his decision. “This is all so we can be together.”

“Really, because dumping me seems a bit counterproductive.” 

“I’m not dumping you,” he firmly denied. “I’m doing this for you.”

“Oh, save it.” 

You were mad at him when you hung up. Crying, but still mad. You probably threw your phone across the room and dove face first into the closest pillow to release a scream you wish Ashton could feel the wrath of. 

Well he’s mad, too. Mad that you’re choosing to ignore the reality of the situation, mad that he had no choice but to push you in the right direction. You should’ve been the one asking him for a break. You should’ve been the one to come up with the solution. It would’ve hurt all the same, but at least Ashton would have understood.

This is all so backwards.

Neither of you were planning on breaking up tonight. The topic came and went so quickly, it’s no wonder Ashton said a wrong thing or two along the way. Maybe you were rightfully angry. Was it ridiculous for him to propose that the two of you just pick up where you left off after a few months apart? Was it presumptuous to think that you would even want to come back to him once you’ve had all that time to move on? Was he setting himself up for the most typical of lies when he told you he wouldn’t be seeing anyone else in the meantime?

No, that one Ashton feels sure of. He doesn’t even want to begin to think of the damage that would cause between the two of you, and he certainly doesn’t want to entertain the idea of you messing around with some other guy.

But now that the thought’s been formed he can’t seem to shake it, which only boils his blood more. Ashton rolls his eyes up to the ceiling as his fingers drag over the skin by his mouth. He just granted you the freedom to fuck someone else if you wanted to. You could be scrolling through your contacts out of spite this very second in search of a one nighter; you could already have someone on their way over. 

Ashton picks up his phone and frantically unlocks it, pressing all the necessary places on the screen to pull up his conversation of text messages with you. When he finally gets there his thumbs hover over the keyboard but don’t type anything, the insanity of getting mad at you for something you haven’t done being forced to the surface of his conscious as he’s reunited with the last thing you sent him no more than 24 hours ago. 

A different emotion begins to permeate the unreasonable anger, taking over Ashton’s body in an almost refreshing way. It’s not happiness he feels, not even relief, but the same sadness that weighed on his chest during the part of the phone call where he announced that your relationship is no longer working: it was by no means easy, but it was the right do.

I love you most, the text reads.

It was your response to Ashton’s “I love you more,” which was his response to your initial “I love you.” The little back-and-forth had in some way or another become an addition to your and Ashton’s routine of saying goodbye to each other, and last night was one of the few instances where you managed to begin the tradition by telling Ashton you loved him first. The one who started it was always the one who finished it, and as a natural competitor most times Ashton beat you to commencement. His relentless victories never failed to earn a stubborn grunt and a pouty, “It wanted to say it first,” but Ashton found that it worked to just repeat himself until you agreed to play by the rules. 

You were the winner last night, though. You were the one who got to use the unbeatable “most.” And Ashton knows how hard you fought for that, how badly you’ve been wanting to steal that honor from him to spoil him with it instead.

Ashton’s shoulders slump as the last bit of tension leaves his muscles, realizing there’s no point in being angry. No matter what hoops you and Ashton have to jump through to be together, there’s no doubt in his mind that you two will, in fact, be together. Since he’s met you he’s felt like he’s been exactly where he belongs – maybe not physically with the miles and miles keeping the two of you separated, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually – every other part of him knew that the moment you came into his life was the moment he finally found his place.      

And much like the step that needed to be taken tonight to ensure that you and Ashton could still have a future together, the tie between the two of you may not always be easy, but it is right.      


You’re doing a bit better when you return to your room with the glass of water you fetched from the kitchen. It’s been about two hours since the phone call ended and nearly thirty minutes since you last cried. Your head has stopped throbbing, your heart rate has slowed. An uncomfortable rock still sits under your lungs, but at least you don’t have the energy to be mad anymore. 

Or so you thought.

When you set the glass on top of your nightstand your phone lights up beside it, displaying the only name that could stir any sort of emotion through you after the events of tonight. You’re surprised to see that he’s already breaking the no-talk rule considering he was the one who established it, and you have every sassy intention of using it against him when you bitterly swipe the screen to open the message.

But you can’t find the heart to do that after actually reading what he has to say.

You are capable of conquering the world, let alone me. I love you with and without a label. 

Tucking your legs under your blanket, you reread the two sentences over and over until you unintentionally have them memorized, the repetition calming you aside from the gentle sting in the center of your chest. You’re nowhere near ready to accept Ashton’s settlement, but a piece of you is reassured by the loyalty in his words. He wouldn’t have done what he did if he didn’t truly believe it was in your best interest, and if this is your chance at temporary closure, you suppose you want to take it.

I’ll do better in school, you reply.

The pending response dots pop up in seconds.

I know you will, angel. 

You swallow. Are you still going to come to the ceremony?

More ellipsis.

Wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

That’s that, then. The next time you can expect to see Ashton is at your graduation ceremony. 

Six months from now.


“Is this a good watermelon?”

Your eyes pull away from the carton of strawberries in your hands to assist Kennedy with her fruit inspection.

“Did you knock on it?”

She shoots you a puzzled look, reluctantly tapping her knuckles against the green skin and mumbling a smart-ass, “Anybody home?” before glancing your way again for a final verdict.

“Sounds ripe to me.”

Kennedy lets out an unenthused cheer and heaves the chosen melon from its brothers and sisters, walking over to the full cart in front of you with the intent to drop the heavy item on top of all the other groceries you’ve spent the last half an hour accumulating.

“Don’t, you’ll squish,” you shoo her away, deciding against the strawberries and placing them back on the shelf from which they came. “Just hold it.”

She sighs dramatically but does as she’s told, cradling the fruit against her stomach like a baby bump as you fold your completed grocery list and begin pushing the cart toward the store check out.

“Is this food really all for you?” Kennedy eyes the massive collection skeptically.

“Me and Calum,” you answer, scanning the maze of registers for the shortest line. “He pays me back for half of it.”

“Why doesn’t he ever do the shopping?”

“Because we’d be living off of ramen noodles and beer.” You settle the cart behind an older couple who’ve just started to load their groceries onto the conveyor belt. 

“He’s such a child,” Kennedy mumbles, plucking a Kit Kat bar from the candy rack that divides your lane from the one next to it and tossing it into the cart. “’Pay ya back.”

You smirk and roll your eyes, but they lock on something nearby before hitting full rotation, wiping your face clean and drawing your head farther to the left. How did you not see it before?

Opposing the shelves of candy is another rack of last minute purchases, half of it stored with chewing gum while the rest displays a selection of magazines. There are the usual celebrity-eating tabloids with their ridiculous headlines about the latest Kardashian rumor and how Brad “really feels” about Jennifer, but on the bottom row stands a magazine that you’re only familiar with because of an old subscription Calum used to have to it, and on the cover of that magazine poses a shirtless figure you’ve spent a little over the last year of your life, unbeknownst to the public, becoming intimately acquainted with.

Really?” Kennedy teases when you stand on your tip toes to grab a copy of Ashton’s feature and add it to your cart. 

“Shut up,” you retort, trying your best not to stare at the image no matter how badly your eyes have missed him. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a whole month since this picture was taken–since you last spoke to him. He looks good. A bit too photoshopped to perfection for your liking, but enough like himself that your stomach pinches at the familiar curves of his chiseled body. From his arms that don’t even need to be flexed to look defined, to his chest that is somehow the ideal combination of both strong and soft, all the way down to the v-shaped indents in his lower abdomens that vanish underneath his athletic shorts… God, the amount of times you’ve traced, licked, and kissed those lines… 

“Please, Y/n, you’re drooling.”

Kennedy plops the watermelon onto the open space of the conveyor belt that you hadn’t noticed became available.

“Sorry,” you mutter, placing the magazine face down as you begin the check out process.

“Don’t sweat it. I didn’t know he looked like that,” Kennedy remarks playfully. “Your poor vibrator’s probably falling apart by now.”

The male cashier who has to be at least 60 years old narrows his bushy eyebrows in distaste but continues to go about scanning your items quietly. Your cheeks heat with mortification over the public location in which Kennedy chose to make such a private – and loud – comment. 

“I don’t have one of those,” you say quickly and barely above a whisper, hyper aware that your conversation now has an audience. 

That doesn’t seem to faze Kennedy, though.

“What?!”

You glare at her as you pull your credit card out of your wallet and shove it into the scanner, every second the machine takes to register your information more painful and awkward than the last. 

“You were in a long distance relationship for how long and you’re telling me you never bought a–”

“Nope!”

Your cart is resupplied with your bagged purchases by a teenager at the end of the counter who is losing his absolute shit over the topic of discussion, deepening your humiliation. The cashier rips your receipt from the dispenser and you thank him as you snatch it from his hand, eager to be on your way outside and beat Kennedy to the car so you can leave her here. 

Unfortunately she keeps up with your pace, walking beside the cart while fishing through one of the bags for her candy bar until she finds it and rips it open. 

“You’re an embarrassment,” you tell her.

She laughs. “Seriously, babe, you don’t know what you’re missing,” she says in between bites of chocolate. “It’ll change your life.”

You unlock the trunk of your car and swing it open. “I didn’t say I was opposed… Just don’t think Orville Redenbacher in there appreciated the visual.”

Kennedy’s face lights up with excitement. “Well let’s go, then!”

“Go where?”

She pulls out her phone, Kit Kat bar in the other hand, uselessly standing to the side as you load the groceries into the car yourself, raises the phone to her lips, and proudly requests Siri’s assistance with, “Adult entertainment stores near me.” 


Well, Ashton was right: this is definitely not his scene.

But he’s determined to make the best of it anyway. He needs to. He can’t just go back home to an empty apartment where he’s got nothing better to do than think about you; he’s already spent far too many evenings occupying his time that way and it’s done nothing but make him miserable. He hasn’t felt like himself since splitting up with you – not that a party would help with that, but at least here he’ll be forced to socialize and talk about something other than you with someone other than his inner turmoil. 

Cheers suddenly and obnoxiously emit from the crowd surrounding the outdoor pool. Ashton glances at the area, promptly discovering the center of the commotion to be a round of chicken fight in the water between two girls sat on the shoulders of two men, the top of an undisturbed female participant nowhere to be seen.

“Vegas girls,” says one of the men from the circle of people that Ashton was sucked into shortly after arriving, raising his glass in approval of the girls’ behavior that has nothing to do with him. 

Other men from the group meet his toast with drinks of their own, resulting in Ashton standing out even more like a sore thumb with his crossed arms and vacant hands. Dennis, the host of the whole extravaganza and the one who encouraged Ashton to come, notices his trainee’s lack of beverage and pats him on the shoulder. 

“What’ll ya have?” Dennis asks, motioning toward the patio bar.

“Oh, I’m fine,” Ashton claims.

“Look, kid, one night of drinking won’t impair your game.”

“It’s not–”

“You’re at the top right now, you’ve earned it. I won’t be mad.”

“Really, I don’t–”

“Whiskey?”

“Not whiskey,” Ashton states stiffly, swallowing the sick lump in his throat from the mere mention of the drink. He has too many memories of the smell tainting his father’s alcoholic breath. If Ashton can’t get Dennis to take no for an answer, he’ll just have to choose the lesser of evils. “Gin.”

“And tonic?”

“Sure.”

Dennis finally accepts that order and strolls over to the bar to talk to the girl running it. Ashton is relieved to just get him off his back; he doesn’t even know if he likes gin, but he’ll nurse the damn drink all night if he has to.

His phone buzzes in his pocket and he digs it out gratefully. The point of coming to the party was to keep himself busy, yet he’s still open to any excuse that might pull him away from it. 

What a mess. He’s a mess. He doesn’t know what the hell he wants. 

That is, until he sees your name waiting for him on the screen. 

Ashton’s heart picks up in speed, his first thought convincing him that something’s wrong, that something bad must have happened. You’ve gone an entire month without contacting him, so why would you randomly text him now? His runs his thumb over the screen to pull up your full message and quickly scans it for the bad news. When he doesn’t find any telling key words, he starts at the beginning again and reads through it much slower.

Hi. Sorry, I know it’s late and that we’re not talking right now, but I wanted to show you something I picked up today.

Ashton let’s out a sigh of relief, permitting himself to breathe again. He uses both hands to type back.

It’s okay. What’d you get?

As he checks the time stamp to verify that you should still have your phone on you since your last message, the response bubbles make an appearance in the lower corner, but disappear before anything comes in. Ashton waits a few impatient seconds, debating on sending another question mark to give you the double text that you probably desire, but he doesn’t have to when a photo pops up from you instead.

He smiles, attempting to keep his lips together but ultimately failing and breaking into a small laugh. It’s a photo of the magazine he made the cover of, the comforter of your bed serving as the backdrop, and your little sock-sheltered toe accidentally peeking in at the bottom right.

Proud of you, Ash, the caption says. Though I’m not a fan of the missing freckles.

Ashton smirks, leaning his elbows on the tall table in front of him.

I told them you wouldn’t approve. Or at least he thought of it when he saw the photo they chose. One of the first things his eyes gravitated toward was how bare his shoulders looked without the freckles that litter them in person, and he knew that if you were to ever see the image, you would pick up on it too. You paid too much attention to them for their removal to go unnoticed, all those nights in bed tiredly touching and trying to count them to no success.  

Thinking about writing a formal complaint.

“You’re at a party, Irwin, act like it!” Dennis jokes out of nowhere, handing Ashton the cocktail he asked for and demanding a friendly cheers.

Ashton connects the rim of his glass to his trainer’s and takes an obligated sip, concealing an instinctual grimace upon determining that he does not like gin. Like a dog in a squirrel park, Dennis becomes distracted by someone else he knows before his cup is even drawn from his lips, and miraculously leaves Ashton alone without hassling him any further to enjoy himself, giving Ashton the chance to turn to his phone again.

He had a reply prepared in his head for the last thing you said, but when he comes back to the conversation there’s a brand new grey box.

What are you doing tonight?

And that’s when it crushes him that he can’t keep responding. It’s too easy to get sucked back into your gravity, too easy to unrestrain himself and talk to you whenever he wants. He’d like nothing more than to find a quiet spot to sit and play catch up, but it would defeat the entire purpose of the break and reset you both to square one. He can’t do that to you. He can’t do that to himself.  

So he hesitantly locks his phone, leaving your message unanswered, and shoves it back into his pocket to be forgotten. His gin and tonic feels ten pounds heavier in his hand, and after a moment of illogical contemplation, he raises the drink to his lips and downs every last drop. 


“Christ, you’re heavy.”

Ashton stumbles over the curb of the sidewalk and bumps his elbow against the open car door. “Ow?” He glances at the hand wrapped around his other bicep as if to ask why it hadn’t prevented his clumsy trip.

Sorry, if you wanted the Hulk you should’ve called him instead.”

“I didn’t call you,” Ashton argues, squatting to fit his large figure into the tiny vehicle’s passenger seat. His second foot is barely tucked inside before the door shuts beside him. He rests his head against the cushion of the chair, willing the pounding in his temples to subside. He’s never felt like this before. 

“Well you’re lucky Dennis did.” Ashton’s startled by her voice coming from the left of him now, having sworn she was just to his right. “Or you’d be sleeping in a ditch tonight.”

“I’d prefer the ditch,” he says, lolling his head to look at her. She ignores him, keeping her focus on the road ahead, and even in his current state of inebriation Ashton can tell he struck a nerve harsher than he meant to. “It’s a joke, Mia.”

“Funny.”

“Thanks for gettin’ me.”

She softens a bit at his gratitude, peeking at him briefly. His eyes are tired and weighed with depressants. “Just don’t puke in my car.”

“Not going to.”

Ashton takes a deep breath and runs a hand through his knotted hair. It’s getting longer, in need of a cut or he’ll have to start tying it back again. 

“I thought you didn’t drink,” Mia speculates.

“I don’t.”

“Then what’s the special occasion?”

He casts his gaze forward to watch the road pass underneath the car, but instantly regrets it because of the motion. No matter how straight of a line Mia’s driving, it won’t help Ashton’s head from spinning. 

“We broke up,” is all the explanation he has to offer.

Mia snaps her attention to the passenger seat, her expression unmistakably shocked yet void of sympathy. “Really?”

“Mmhm.”

“If it’s because I kissed you…”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Ashton coldly shuts her theory down. “Had nothing to do with you.”

Taken aback, Mia rolls her jaw, irritated by the certainty in his words. He didn’t even try to lay it on her nicely. “Well since I’m such a nonissue, how ‘bout giving me my job back?”

Ashton went through with firing her the morning after her intrusive mistake. She fought him on it, said it was merely a lapse in judgment and that nothing of the sort would ever happen again, but Ashton felt that it was wrong and too uncomfortable to keep her on the team. Not to mention he wasn’t in a very forgiving mood considering he made the decision the day after he parted ways with you. Overall the exchange with Mia could’ve gone better than it did, and the personal emotions behind it may have put Ashton and Mia on pretty bad terms, but it was final and he had no intention of changing his mind.

“Think not,” he mumbles. His ability to compose sentences is weakening along with the strength of his eyelids, sleep slowly egging him into it’s persuading comfort.

Mia lets him get a few minutes of rest in peace, appreciating the silence of the car ride so her mind can go to work. She’s pissed. Beyond pissed. She gets out of bed for a last minute phone call to make sure that her ex-boss gets home safely from a night of careless binge drinking, and he still has the audacity to be rude to her, the nerve to deny her a second chance, the insolence to laugh at the idea of her possibly causing a problem between him and his stupid girlfriend. That last one stings more than anything. 

She wakes him when they pull into his apartment complex, and he stirs in a state of drunk confusion. It’s evident he won’t be able to make it up the stairs on his own, so Mia has to aid him out of the car and toward his flat one step at a time. Getting past the front door is another difficult task, having to go on a hunt for his keys in his jacket and jeans and watch him scramble to fit the metal slate in the hole. When the door finally opens Mia guides Ashton to his room where the challenging journey finally comes to an end, and she leaves Ashton to fend for himself while she trudges into the kitchen for the glass of water she knows he’ll be desperate for in the morning.  

When she returns she’s only half surprised to see that Ashton is already knocked out in between the sheets, naked from the waist up as far as she can tell. She sets the glass on his bedside table and glares down at the snoozing boy, her temper changing under the influence of his sleeping innocence. He looks so much younger like this, so incapable of hurting her the way he did when he revoked her job or spoke down to her in the car. 

The bed sinks lower as Mia sits on it, bothered by the fringe hanging over Ashton’s eyes and wanting to brush it away for him. As she runs her fingers delicately through the sandy strands, she notices a faint glow reflecting off of Ashton’s chest, coming from the gap between the blanket and his torso. Mia gently peels the fabric away from him to expose the source of the light, finding none other than his phone resting haphazardly in his relaxed hand. She slips it from his fingers and takes a look at the screen, mischief surging through her veins. Ashton must’ve forgotten to reactivate his passcode, or fell asleep before he could, and left his text conversation with you open for Mia to go through like a child cheating on a test.

“Ca” was as far as Ashton typed in his alcohol inspired response, his body giving out before he could finish or press send. The anger Mia sported earlier starts to come flooding back twice as hard, Ashton’s remark about “flattering herself” enraging her all over again. What are you doing for him other than stressing him out and leading him to drink? Why does he love you so much when Mia is actually here, taking care of him while you’re miles away doing God knows what? What is it that he sees in you, and why can’t he get over it?

Mia decides that she’s going to do Ashton one more favor.

Your disregarded question about what he’s doing tonight sets up the perfect linkage for Mia’s plan. She scoots further onto the bed. She lowers the wide neck of her shirt to expose the tops of her shoulders and collarbones, and lies directly next to Ashton. She opens the camera on his phone. She holds the device out at a strategic angle, making sure to include Ashton’s unconscious, shirtless body in the frame while conveniently leaving out the rim of her own shirt, making them both look naked.

When she’s happy with the misleading photo she returns to your private conversation, plucking the safety pin out of the live grenade and tossing it into your relationship, using a single word to caption what Ashton’s been doing tonight:

Me.


You haven’t always been the type of person who needs background noise to fall asleep, but since you stopped sharing a bed with Ashton, and especially since you stopped having someone to say goodnight to, you’ve accepted that sound certainly makes the mission easier. You’ve tried using the twirl of the ceiling fan as your lullaby but declared that it’s not loud enough; you’ve tried music with and without lyrics, but couldn’t control your thoughts from syncing with the pace of the beat. A list of potential remedies, ranging from white noise to whale songs, were tested and failed through trial and error until one night you came across the holy answer to your prayers without even looking for it. 

And its name was Conan O’Brien. 

You had given up on your search of berceuse when you turned on your TV for some form of entertainment to keep you occupied while you couldn’t sleep. You hadn’t expected to doze off – you were actually enjoying O’Brien’s monologue and chuckling along to his jokes, but at some point in the night everything went black and you woke up hours later more rested than you’d been in months. It was a miracle, really, and you’ve been relying on it ever since. 

Tonight is no different. Teeth brushed, pajamas on, you’re settled into bed with the TV hanging on your wall flipped to the same old channel you pick every evening. Your cellphone isn’t far from you, left within arms reach in case Ashton decides to actually text you back, but your hopes of that have pretty much vanished since he probably already would have done so if he was going to at all. You admit that you were pushing the limits tonight by trying to carry the discussion on after its initial purpose, and you understand now that Ashton has more self-discipline than you do. Being ignored by him of all people strikes a particularly sensitive string in your heart, but you try not to dwell on it too much, assuring yourself that he’s not doing it because he wants to. 

Drowsiness is starting to hit you right on cue, true to your inability to make it past the show’s first celebrity guest. You close your eyes in one extended, tired blink, but flutter them wide open when your phone alerts you with a short vibration.

Your insides warm at the one name you love to see, thrilled that he’s texting you again on his own. Your body wakes up with anticipation and your mood lifts exponentially as you type in your passcode, eager to get to your inbox to read the late night thoughts that Ashton so kindly wanted to share with you. 

The 180 whiplash in the pit of your soul when you feast your eyes on what you actually received is the closest to dead you’ve ever felt.

Me.

All color drains from your face. Your lungs shrivel into raisins. Your heart stops working. Your blood solidifies to ice. Your vision blurs out of focus. Your brain short circuits. You feel nothing.

And then you feel everything. Your fingers start to shake. Your muscles twitch. Your jaw quivers. Your head is swelling with pressure and escaping in the form of hot tears. You need to punch something. You need to throw something. You need to yell.

Me.

Part of you wants to reply to the message while another part doesn’t want to give him or her the satisfaction. A third part of you wants to demand that Ashton never talks to you again while a fourth wants to hear him beg for forgiveness.   

No option feels like the right choice, so you abandon your phone for the magazine you purchased earlier, the one with Ashton’s lying face plastered across the cover. You take one last, good, infuriated look at his two-dimensional hazel eyes and savagely shred a line between them, ripping the cover in half and chucking the rest of the papers with all your might onto the floor. You’ve started crying harder and you hate yourself for it, sick of just how many tears you’ve shed lately over a boy who obviously no longer cares about you.

Me. 

You torture yourself with the evidence of Ashton’s hook up once more before impulsively diving into his contact information and definitively blocking his number. 

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine

Masterlist

Is that your donk or are you just happy to see me? Rowan Zorilla shows off his side pipe skills in the 100 degree Texas heat during the first stop of the Thrasher x Vans Scorchin’ Summer Tour 2017. 

Peep Burnout’s photo recap from the demo and look for the boys hitting OKC this Friday for a demo at the Matt Hoffman Skate Park. 

Photo: Burnett