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Littlelovestories

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About Littlelovestories

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  • Age in Years
    24
  • Gender
    Female
  • Sexuality
    Bisexual, leaning male
  • Favorite Genres
    Romance
  • Location
    Australia
  • Interests
    Listening to music, writing, Tae Kwon Do.

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  1. “Please welcome the guys from The Obselete!” The music show host introduces the guys who were all sitting on a lounge together. Everyone waves towards the camera recording the show. “Thanks for having us on your show.” Simon smiles at the host. “You’re so welcome. We’re very keen to see your new music video although I have to admit I’ve seen it myself and I think your fans will absolutely love it. Especially Ryan’s dance routine, I nearly needed a cold shower after watching it.” She jokes. “So did Ryan, since he nearly died of heatstroke during filming it.” Blake shrugs with a grin on his face. “Luckily we were able to get out of our suits before we all suffered the same fate.” “Wow, really? So it was the hottest dance routine then!” “It was so hot, I did genuinely think I was going to die. I have no idea how many different parts of this routine were cut and pasted together to look like I was alive and coping with the heat.” Ryan shakes his head, grabbing a water bottle and having a big sip of it as he remembers the thirst and heat he’d felt that day. “Well there you go, the music video that nearly killed Ryan. So Jasper, you’re newly single, I know you like to keep up with your fans as much as you can so you probably know all about the buzz in your fandom with speculations of you dating other members of the band?” The interviewer asks. Jasper just laughs then licks his lips and nods. “You say that like this hasn’t been going on while I was already dating.” He smirks.“ Obviously, you’ve got a bromance with Blake going on, but since Ryan joined the two of you have been really close too. We’ve actually got a poll going asking people who their OTP ship is in this band with you and the two top ones are 51% Blasper and 37% Rysper. Sorry Simon and Luke but you’re in a very low percent on this poll apparently only 12% of fans could see chemistry between you and Jasper.” “I love that we don’t even get a look in.” Luke comments to Simon. “Frankly not being one of Jasper’s top choices suits me just fine.” Simon states with a relieved sigh. “You guys are great and all, but we don’t have that kind of chemistry. Even the fans can tell, look at the polls. These guys have been clear about where to draw the line since early on. I know who I get away with flirting with and who will just look at me like I need to shut up. I think the most affectionate I’ve been with Simon is a high 5 and with Luke we may have touched hands trying to do our seatbelts up at the same time.” Jasper laughs then turns his attention back to Ryan and Blake, these two are the ones who don’t mind me invading their personal space or flirting with them.” Jasper leans against Blake and winks at Ryan. “Isn’t that right boys?” He sighs contently. “It’s pretty much like this all the time.” Blake shrugs. “I’ve basically just come to accept it.” “So if it were to be one of them, who would you most likely date?” The interviewer asks. “You want me to pick favorites? Really?” Jasper shakes his head, biting his lip and trying not to look flustered coming up with a response as he sits up straight. “Ok, for one, these two could not be further apart. I mean sitting between them is seriously like having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Here we have a guy who is actually not human, but is handcrafted and chiseled to perfection by actual angels.” He gestures at Ryan. “And on the other side we have a guy who is trapped in the emo stage, acts like the bad boy and introduced me to tequila, wants to go to hell ‘for fun’.” “We are very different people.” Blake laughs, putting his arm around Jasper. “I can’t believe we only have a 51% ship rate, you’ve been openly flirting with me for ages and Ryan is here for a few months and is already wrecking the hierarchy.” “Obviously, I’ve known you for longer, we’re such close friends and I’ve always loved you. I know what you're like when you like someone and you’re an absolute catch. He’s all tough on the outside but sweet on the inside. As a couple though, I mean our friendship is built on insults so I imagine we would be the exact same if we dated and that just wouldn’t be healthy. Also Blake is already taken so that kinda leaves eye-candy here by default.” Jasper checks out Ryan with a smirk. “I’m not complaining.” He shrugs. “And I totally didn’t mean to make you sound like a second choice, I mean I also don’t want to sound like a complete fangirl, but just looking at you, anyone would want to date you. You’re visually flawless, I really didn’t understand how attractive male dancers were. The idea of dancing making you less manly is so inaccurate, have you seen this guys’ muscles? Honestly, zoom in on his legs some time, or his biceps, actually lets get a petition going to have him flash his abs in every music video. I’ve seen him in nothing but a towel around his waist, still damp from a shower and that vision alone makes him not only the first choice, but the only choice. Looks aside though, he’s a gentle natured person but he also comes out with these one-liners every now and then that actually leave me speechless, which a lot of people aren’t able to do. He really takes me by surprise. I think in a relationship, we would really mesh well together and since meeting him I’ve noticed I’ve toned down some of my attitude a little bit, because he’s really just not the kind to have a confrontation with, so I don’t feel right arguing over little things with him.” “Ryan, how are you feeling about all that? Not going to walk around in a towel anymore?” The interviewer asks. “Well, actually I kinda think maybe we should get married?” Ryan suggests playfully, a grin on his face. Jasper just looks at him and starts laughing, licking his lips nervously and sighing while he thinks of how to respond. “See, most of the time he’s so quiet and shy, this is one of those lines where he surprises me and I don’t know what to say back. Maybe buy me a drink first.” Jasper suggests. “Alright, there you have it, Rysper shippers will be thrilled with that answer. As for the rest of your fans, get excited, because here comes their newest music video!” The host waves to the camera, as do the band on the couch before the camera goes off and they all shake hands with the host of the show, before heading back to the green room. “You know if you stopped flirting with everyone, you probably won’t be asked these gay questions.” Luke teases playfully on the way. “Where would be the fun in that?” Jasper shrugs, giving Ryan a cheeky smirk. “Well at least Ryan is the new target, I can get some of my masculinity back.” Blake jokes. Jasper slaps his arm and shakes his head. “Don’t be rude. It’s a privilege to be my target, it doesn’t make you any less masculine.” He states, looking over at Ryan who gives him a small smile and shrug to reassure him that Blake’s comment hadn’t put him off. They get to the green room and get out their phones to see how the fans were reacting to their newest music video. “Well Jasper, looks like they have gone ahead and started that petition.” Blake calls out, showing his phone to Ryan who just laughs and looks over at Jasper. “You can’t go from being a topless waiter at Hen’s parties, to being a prude. You were hired for being eye-candy and a dancer, I say, a shirtless dancing scene every now and then won’t kill you.” Jasper comments with a smirk, looking back at his phone and trawling twitter. “I don’t actually think ‘eye-candy’ is on my contract.” “Well, flashing your abs will be soon.” Jasper winks at him. “You know, I’m actually feeling a little left out. My self-esteem needs some of your flirting.” Blake orders, holding his phone out as he walks over to Jasper to take a photo together. “Blasper fans need this.” He states and the two pull faces at the camera. “So, you think we’d make a good couple?” Ryan smiles and leans against the door frame to Jasper’s bedroom. “Well, in theory.” Jasper nods, putting his note book down. “Ok, are you playing hard to get or something? You were very clear about your interest in me during the interview and now you’re saying we’d be good together ‘in theory’. Like it’s not something you actually want to do.” Ryan sighs, shaking his head. “I’m having fun.” Jasper shrugs, tapping the bed beside him, for Ryan to sit beside him. “Stop pushing the couple thing, I’m still getting use to the idea of liking guys. I just want to have fun, we don’t have to be dating.” “No Jasper, I want to date you, I don’t want to be your experiment.” Ryan walks away, closing Jasper’s bedroom door. Jasper sighs and gets up, opening the door and heading down the hall to the lounge room where Simon was sitting on his own watching T.V. “Where’s everyone?” Jasper asks, going straight to the fridge to get a drink for himself. “Luke is out with someone, Blake is out somewhere, Ryan just walked out, I’m assuming to the roof, he seems to like it up there.” Simon shrugs and looks over at Jasper who was just nodding impressed. “Do you tag us with GPS things?” Jasper asks sarcastically. “No, I’m just nice to everyone so they tell me things.” Simon replies. “Either that or you all think you’re not old enough to do things without answering first to an older adult. Come and talk to me.” Simon gives him a smile. Jasper walks over and takes a seat beside him on the couch. “What’s up?” “You and I have never really had a close relationship, I’ve always found you to be a lot more unnecessarily outspoken.” Simon sighs. “That’s a polite way of saying I’m bitchy.” Jasper frowns at him. “I don’t tend to build close relationships with people who are outspoken because I really try to be polite and considerate and respect people and I’ve wrongfully judged you because you care an awful lot about us and you’ve shown that time and time again, through the way you tried to warn us about Chris. The way you went about it was rude and I always hated the way you spoke to him, but you were right that he was using us and that he wasn’t treating us right. I just want you to know that I just thought you were super rude, but I can see now that you’re really just blunt.” Simon tells him with a sigh. “I didn’t describe that nicely, I’m sorry.” “That’s alright, I always kinda thought of you as bit of a pushover.” Jasper sips at his drink and smiles at Simon. “See that’s what I mean.” Simon laughs, he watches Jasper finish his drink and his amusement fades to a frown. “You know, he mentioned about your drinking the other day and none of us thought you had a problem, but you are worrying me a little bit.” Simon comments, Jasper looks at his empty glass and stands up from the lounge with a sigh. “I don’t have a drinking problem.” He says and puts his glass in the sink. “See, I can stop at one drink. I am just a freshly of drinking age guy, that is enjoying alcohol. And I think the reason everyone tells you everything is because you’re like the dad of the group, we all feel like we have to answer to you.” Jasper walks off back down the hallway annoyed. “What are you doing in my room?” Ryan asks as he opens his bedroom door and sees Jasper lying on his bed. “Did you know, for 21 years of my life, my only problem was that I was a shitty boyfriend with too much attitude. Now that I’m 21, I’m an alcoholic with commitment issues and my ‘attitude’ is probably going to be given the title of ‘anger issues’.” Jasper looks over at Ryan, hugging his pillow. “Do you think there’s something wrong with me?” He sighs. “I never said you had commitment issues.” Ryan frowns and closes the door behind himself. Jasper raises his eyebrow at him skeptically. “I didn’t. I just questioned why you didn’t want a relationship.” Ryan rolls his eyes and walks over to the bed. “We work together, live together and have people keeping tabs on us. Do you really think a relationship would work? What if we have a fight and working together gets affected by it? What if we get clingy with each other you get jealous when I playfully flirt with Blake? What if I am really just shitty at being a boyfriend and we break up and there’s all this dramatic tension between us and the entire band falls apart because of it? So much can go wrong.” Jasper sighs and sits up, watching Ryan consider what he’d said. “I use to be afraid of what if’s. Then I learned that I was just searching for excuses to avoid things. I won’t bring it up again, let me know when you want a relationship.” He opens the door and gestures for Jasper to leave the room. Jasper walks out disappointed and confused, crosses the hall into his own room and flops onto his bed, taking his phone out and going through Instagram. He comes across the clip from the interview that one of the fans had tagged as #Rysper #ship #Getmarried #SorryBlake Jasper clicks on the video and watches it, a little surprised with how forward he’d been. Maybe it was a bit much, but what amused him most was that Ryan was just smiling affectionately at him when he’d told him to buy him a drink first. Even though there were plenty of reasons his relationship with Beth hadn’t worked out, he’d never thought of their relationship as committed and barely thought of them as being old enough to be talking about a future together and marriage and kids. It was on her mind, sure, but Jasper always dismissed the idea on the pretense of their age and saying they should just have fun. Ryan was right, there was an underlying excuse, he didn’t love Beth. With Ryan though, that excuse seemed wrong because there was so much he knew he liked about the guy. At the core of it, after some thought, Jasper concludes that this time he was just afraid. Afraid of the other guys finding out, afraid of fans finding out, afraid of introducing Ryan as a boyfriend and having to face any backlash. He didn’t have to admit to anything if they weren’t a couple, but if they were, he’d have to admit he was in love with a guy, and that was the excuse. He didn’t want to have to admit those feelings to anyone else, vulnerability was never something he did well. He takes out his phone and sends Ryan a message. ‘You may have had time to work it all out and be comfortable but I’m not there yet. That’s my excuse.’ He sends it and a few moments later gets a simple reply, ‘Check out my insta.’ Jasper gets out of messages and scrolls back up his instagram to see a new photo come up, Ryan in bed winking at the camera, clearly shirtless but the photo didn’t go past his collar bones. #Goodnight #Sweetdreams, Jasper smirks and opens up his messages again. ‘Tease’ He sends and looks at the picture again. It would be sweet dreams indeed with that in mind. He turns out his light and undresses to his underwear before climbing in bed and taking another look at the picture, letting his mind wander, thinking about how easily he could cross the hall to Ryan’s room and if he had the confidence, what else could happen from there. As the thoughts come to his mind he finds himself letting one of his hands move under the sheets. “Jasper?” Blake burst into the room, startling him and Jasper drops his phone on his face, quickly grabbing it and getting out of the photo. “Jesus Christ Blake, ever heard of knocking?” Jasper snaps at him, rolling over onto his stomach and glaring at his friend. “Sorry, I saw your phone light and assumed you were still awake, were you...” Blake starts laughing and turns away. “I’m so sorry.” He gets out between laughs. “Hilarious. There better be a fire or something.” Jasper hides his face in his pillow embarrassed. “No, no fire.” Blake continues laughing, trying to calm himself so he could actually talk. “I just got back from a date with Beth.” He says in a much more serious tone. “Although you seem to be comfortably over her.” He snickers. “Oh, is that where you were? How was it?” Jasper lightens, sitting up and shoving his pillow on his lap. “Good. It was weird though. I don’t know, I only kissed her on the cheek when we got back to her place and she said she’d like to go out with me again so that’s good I guess. It wasn’t how I expected, we didn’t have much to talk about. I think she’s still a little hurt over you to be honest, we didn’t talk about you but you were the elephant in the room you know.” Blake shrugs. “Well I’m sure you’ll have her full attention soon enough.” Jasper gives him a reassuring smile. “Thanks. Thanks for being cool about all this too. I know it’s probably weird for you.” Blake sighs. “Walking in at a bad time to talk to me about your date with my ex-girlfriend, what’s weird about that?” Jasper says sarcastically. “5 guys living in a house together, I’m surprised this kind of thing hasn’t happened before.” Jasper shrugs it off. “Well, I will point out that the doors have an incredible invention, internal locks and I can’t speak for everyone, but I use mine if I don’t want to be disturbed. Just an idea.” Blake winks then presses the lock button and steps out of the room. “I’ll leave you to it.” He laughs to himself, closing the locked door behind him. Jasper just picks up his pillow and covers his face, groaning into it and falling back flat against his bed. He sighs and moves the pillow under his head, puts his phone on his bedside table and snuggles up ready to go to sleep. The mood was definitely gone after the interruption, nothing else to do but sleep and hope he could approach the topic of an actual relationship with Ryan tomorrow.
  2. “Did any of you properly read through this contract?” Taking a highlighter to the photocopied contract he was viewing, the solicitor sitting at his large desk with the name tag ‘Daniel Evans’ labeled on the table. Ryan, Luke, Simon, Jasper and Blake all sit before the desk in grey bucket chairs, waiting for some feedback on their futures. “I was sorta rushed into signing it.” Jasper answers with a shrug, playing with his hair, something that had become a nervous habit of his. “Same.” Blake nods. “I did read through it, but I was really excited and didn’t take my time with it.” Luke looks at the other guys who were all nodding, it’d been the same for everyone. Glancing over his glasses Daniel chews his lip and shakes his head. “You do know when you get handed a contract, you’re allowed to ask for time, you can take it home with you and go through it to see if there’s anything you agree or disagree with. Half the time my job is me looking over people’s contracts before they sign it to make sure there’s nothing there they should be aware of.” He explains to the group who looked like a bunch of kids in the principals office getting scolded, none of them were able to hold eye contact with Daniel for even a few seconds. They just felt like idiots to him and found it immensely embarrassing being told, so politely and calmly, that they’d been taken advantage of with the contracts. “He does have this way of making you feel like it’s the greatest decision you’ll make in your life, then staring at you until you sign things.” Jasper shrugs, shifting in his seat and casually skimming his eyes past the rest of the group, wanting to see Ryan who’d gone for a semi-formal look for this meeting, black pants and a white button up shirt that was quite snug around the muscles in his arms. The rest of the guys were dressed pretty casual, jeans and t-shirts. “People with something to hide, will always try to make you feel like you have to make a decision on the spot.” Daniel comments then puts the contract down on the desk in front of himself. “Do you write your own music?” He asks. “Yeah we do. Why?” Simon sits forward frowning as he watches Daniel re-read something on the contract before picking up the highlighter again and twirling it between his fingers, popping the lid off and striking it through another line of the contract. “Ok, so what I’m noticing here, on all your contracts, is a clause saying ‘I agree that the company owns all the music produced during the time this contract is valid.’” The solicitor reads then looks up at the group. “So, what does that mean?” Simon asks. “That means, you won’t be able to perform any of the music you’ve written under this label, after you separate from it. If I were you, I’d make sure you aren’t handing in any song ideas until you’ve decided what you’re doing about this.” “What? We can’t sing our own songs?” Blake scoffs, clenching his fists and jaw, he looks beside him at Jasper who was barely even reacting, though he’d been calling Chris’ bullshit from the start so it wasn’t such a surprise that he didn’t seem too bothered by any of the new revelations about the manipulation they were all under. “Not by the look of reading through this. You would be having to pay royalties to the company to perform their songs.” The solicitor sighs, placing down his highlighter and thinking for a moment about what he could their options would be. “That’s bullshit we wrote those songs, they are our songs.” Luke snaps, shaking his head and looking at the other members who shared his fury. Daniel opens up his laptop and types quickly, turning it around to show a simple google search answering who their music was copyrighted too, the company’s name. “Is there anything we can do to get our music back?” Blake was railed up now, mostly pissed at himself for not taking Jasper that seriously every single time he had brought up his suspicions. “Not without taking the company to court and buying the music from them. I’m not sure they would make that easy for you knowing that the alternative is receiving money from you every single time you perform them or every time your dedicated fans buy the records.” Daniel answers with a sigh, looking down at the contract again. “ ‘I agree that the company owns the right to control my social media presence for the sake of appearances.’ Quite an open-ended statement covering them for being able to use your information and make public what they wish.” Daniel tosses down the contract and chews his lip, watching the disappointment fall on the boys before him. “Are you serious? We signed this.” Blake scoffs, sitting forward in his seat and running his fingers through his hair. “Unfortunately, yes.” Daniel shrugs. “Do me a favour, next time you’re signing a contract, bring it to me and let me go through it. Let me take care of you in the future, because you guys have been screwed over with this label and I honestly would hate to see you get treated like that again. When you’re young and excited it’s easy to get caught up and be manipulated. You know you have the right to negotiate a contract and to take it home, take it to a solicitor and getting an opinion. Big companies will take advantage of people in your position.” He leans back in his seat and looks at the disheartened guys before him. None of them had anything to say now, all they could do is look at each other absolutely mortified that they had been put in this position, they felt disgusted by everything they were learning about all of this. “You know I didn’t think of him as manipulative until now.” Simon glances over at Jasper who was too pissed off to be smug that he was right. “What about our upcoming album?” Blake looks at their solicitor. “What would you suggest we do?” “Have you submitted lyric sheets yet?” Daniel asks, clicking his pen and making notes on his pad while the members sit lost, feeling like everything they had worked for up until now was lost and in vain. “Yes, but only as drafts.” Luke answers. “As in paper form?” “Yeah, he viewed them and passed them back to us.” Simon sighs. “If he doesn’t have any physical copies, then you need to decide on your plan of action. You either need to move fast to start this lawsuit so that you can have the rights to your own music, or stall on the next album coming out.” “Except my song, which we’ve already recorded and filmed a music video for so I guess that one is already lost to the label.” Simon grits his teeth and clenches his fist, furious that his hard work was in vein. “We’ll work something out Simon.” Luke reassures him though he didn’t feel totally confident himself. “There’s got to be some way to get them back.” Blake snaps. “I can think of some ways.” Jasper states quietly, looking at his nails and picking at them. “There you guys are. Where have you been all morning?” Christopher asks as the group return to their apartment. “A house visit? What are you doing here?” Luke mutters, stepping past him and unlocking the door. Everyone else walks in past Chris, leaving him to wait for them to all pass before he could come in. “Well I thought you’d like to know we’ve managed to make a music video out of the footage from the yacht the other day.” Christ walks in and holds up a USB. “Mind if I connect it to your TV so you can see it?” He asks. “Go for it.” Blake shrugs, turning the TV on and taking a seat on the couch, everyone was keen to see how it turned out but their talk with the lawyer this morning had made them feel nervous about being in the room with Chris. Jasper sits beside Ryan, giving him a smile and leaning against him a little, he felt good after having successfully opened everyone else’s eyes up to the shit that Chris was doing to them, he felt like all he wanted was some time with Ryan now, the only other thing he needed to sort out was the relationship they had. The music video was mostly footage of the guys messing around on the yacht together, but since Ryan had filmed his whole dance sequence over a dozen times, they had managed to cut the good parts and put them together to form a perfect version. Jasper leans away from Ryan, watching Ryan dancing with the bikini wearing dancers. “Poor Ryan.” Blake hits his arm softly. “You ended up being the only suit wearing tool on the boat.” “Just means I look higher class. The fans will assume I’m the rich one from the group of you.” Ryan replies confidently, casting a smirk at Jasper who just sighs and gets up from the lounge walking away from the group to get a drink. He looks at his watch and decides that despite it being only just past midday, he’d had a rough enough morning to justify alcohol. “It turned out good, don’t you think?” Chris asks the members with a grin. “I’m glad Jasper threw his little tantrum and got me to give you guys free range of the yacht in your own clothes, I think the fans will love the look of you guys just having fun.” Everyone looks around at each other confused. “Ok, what’s the deal, you look like someone died.” “Nothing.” Simon says quickly. “The music video looks great, when will it be released?” Simon asks. “By the end of the week.” Chris smiles. “So.” Jasper walks over with his drink in his hand. “Since it was my ‘tantrum’ that caused you to have such a successful video and save you having to pay to re-shoot the whole thing, does that mean I will get credited for this.” Jasper asks confidently. Chris looks at him with a frown, taking a moment to consider what Jasper had said. “Unless you’re more interested in your own financial gains over correctly crediting us for what we do in this band.” He shrugs and downs his drink quickly. “I would like more input from you all moving forward.” Chris finally answers. “Will we be credited for our input though?” “It will improve your future sales.” Chris shrugs. “Mm, still your gains though. Those sales don’t filter down to us.” Jasper rolls his eyes, putting his glass in the sink and walking off to his room. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room after he walked out. “Since when does Jasper day drink? Should I be worried?” Chris sighs, looking down the hallway towards Jasper’s room. “It’s not a problem.” Ryan gets up to go and see Jasper. “Where are you going?” Blake calls out. “To see Jasper?” Ryan answers nervously. “No, we have to plan what we are doing to celebrate your first music video being released.” Blake beams at him with devious excitement. “Before you get carried away, you’ll be doing a music show interview in a few days to release the new music video. Just fun, light hearted and brief before the new video debuts. I’ll talk through the details when you get in to the studio tomorrow. I’ll let you get back to your day off.” Chris takes the USB and walks to the door then pauses and looks back at the group. “Keep an eye on Jasper, I’m worried about his drinking.” He opens the door and walks out. “JASPER!” Simon demands, waiting only a few moments before shouting it again and getting a teenager type response with Jasper pulling his door open aggressively. “What?” Jasper steps out of his room. “Ryan’s just seen the first music video he’s ever been in, can you come out here and be proud of him with us?” Simon suggests. Jasper lightens up, walking back down the hall with a smile on his face, all the way up to Ryan. “I’m am proud of you.” He wraps his arms around Ryan. “And I envy those back up dancers.” He whispers. Ryan hugs him back trying not to make it all look too affectionate, although Jasper didn’t seem as concerned, holding him for longer than a normal friendly hug. “We’ll be debuting the video after an interview on one of those music shows in a few days and Chris thinks you’ve got a drinking problem Jasper, should we be worried?” Luke catches him up on what he missed after he walked out. “Oh, exciting. Wait until all those fangirls see your sexy dance moves.” Jasper pulls away from Ryan, wiggling his eyebrows at him. “In my full wrist to ankle suit. Yes, very sexy.” Ryan replies jokingly. “Are you saying suits aren’t the absolute most sexy thing a man can wear? Ovaries will be bursting all around the world, so the fangirls say.” Jasper smirks and turns to the other guys shrugging at them. “Does that not sound super painful to you?” Blake asks, shaking his head. “I think that’s the idea. Loving us is pain.” Luke jokes, dramatically grabbing at his heart and pulling a heartbroken expression. “Desirable and unattainable. I almost feel bad for them, surely we should be due to do a fan meet and greet with Ryan soon. Give him a chance to be asked to sign body parts and take photos with girls that are crying with excitement.” Blake suggests, grabbing himself a drink. “I’ll suggest it to Chris, see if we can organize something soon, I’m sure there’s plenty of eager fans that’d love the opportunity to meet us, especially since it has been a while since we’ve done one.” Simon takes his phone out to make a reminder note for himself to mention it the next day at work. “Anyway, what’s everyone’s plans for the afternoon?” He asks, getting up from the couch and going to get a bottle of water. “Drinking, since I’m clearly an alcoholic.” Jasper jokes but the look everyone gives him shoots him down. “I’m not.” Jasper rolls his eyes. “I go to the gym when I am stressed or in a bad place.” Simon suggests with a shrug. “Why don’t you come along?” “Yeah, do I look like I am the gym type?” Jasper laughs at the idea. “I made him go to a gym with me once. He complained the entire time and spent 20 minutes of the training session debating which mirror selfie to post on instagram to show his followers than he knew what a gym was.” Blake tells them. “I however need to punch some anger out so count me in.” “Me too.” Luke agrees. “Great, well lets all be adults and agree to deal with frustration in our own way. You healthy guys, go off and work out and I will drink and we will all feel better later in our own way.” Jasper shrugs with a grin on his face. “Have fun.” “Should we be worried about his drinking?” Luke asks quietly. “Nah, he’s been able to drink for like half a second. He’s just enjoying it. Besides, Ryan didn’t say he was coming with us, so at least he can keep an eye on Jasper, right?” Blake suggests to Ryan who just smiles at him and nods. “Yeah sure. I’ve got nothing else planned for the afternoon.”
  3. The trip home was perfect, without any pressure the guys were messing about on the yacht while the film crew got some candid playful footage. When Ryan was feeling better, he came out shirtless in his board shorts and as the sun was setting and the weather was cooling down he got the dancers over to practice their routine with him. The manager sat back watching them, having a few drinks and considering what to do with the day so it wouldn’t feel wasted. Depending on the look of the footage, a music video could be put together from the hour or so of the group playing around, being themselves. “Can we talk?” Blake finally pulls Jasper aside towards the end of the trip. Jasper nods and lets Blake lead him to a part of the yacht where they could be alone. “If this is about Ryan, he’s seriously not replacing you as my only best friend, you don’t have to worry.” Jasper jokes, nudging Blake. “You’re still the best.” “I hope you feel that way after we’ve had this conversation.” Blake sighs, looking over the side of the yacht and watching the sunsetting, turning the water gold. “Ok, that scares me. What’s going on?” Jasper steps back from him, sincerely concerned about what this could be about. “Jasper, I just wanted to tell you something. You’re my best friend and I don’t want to keep anything from you, I will always be honest and tell you the truth.” Blake looks at Jasper nervously. “Beth wants to go out to a bar with me.” Jasper looks at Blake feeling relieved and a little confused as to why this would be such a big problem for him. Jasper felt guilt wash over him, that Blake was worrying about him being upset over Beth, when he was having a lot of fun enjoying this flirting and kissing and whatever this was that he and Ryan were starting to develop. “Oh, right. Well that’s good, that’s like a dream come true for you.” Jasper looks away, wishing he could be honest with Blake too, but it was way too soon and he didn’t even know what their relationship was, to be able to explain it to Blake. He felt awful not telling Blake anything. “Are you sure that’s ok? I don’t want to upset you at all so if it’s not ok, just tell me.” Blake sighs, clearly guilt was hitting him too, about his part in this, probably assuming he had bothered Jasper. “It’s ok. I won’t go out with her until you are ready.” “No, go out with her. It really doesn’t upset me. I wasn’t in love with Beth, she deserves the best and you’re 100 times better than me at being a boyfriend. I’m taking time for myself anyway.” Jasper shakes his head and rubs his eyes, it’d been a long exhausting day and he was feeling trapped, on this yacht knowing that Blake deserved to know more than Jasper was ready to say. “Are you ok?” Blake asks. “No, this isn’t about you and Beth, but there’s stuff going on right now that I’m not in the right place to talk about so please, know we are good. Beth isn’t an issue and I promise I will talk to you in time.” Jasper tells him, stepping close and putting his arms out for a hug. Blake hugs him, pats his back and steps back again. “Are you alright? I get you mightn’t want to talk about it but whatever it is, I will support you and be there for you.” Blake asks, giving him a comforting smile. “I’m fine.” Jasper nods, trying to think of a way out of the conversation. “Have you told Ryan what it is?” Blake asks. “Careful Blake, your jealousy is showing.” Jasper teases, trying to deflect the conversation. “I told you, I’m not jealous, I just hope you have someone to talk to. I know what your family is like, so if you’re going through a hard time, I really just want to know you’re not going through it alone. I was a little worried the other week when you were talking about being an alcoholic.” Blake replies, placing his hand on Jasper’s shoulder. “Oh, no I’m not an alcoholic, that was a complete joke, there was nothing serious behind that. A few drinking nights isn’t something to be worried about. I feel really bad, not being able to tell you but I’m just not ready to talk about it right now. Please don’t worry about me, because I will be fine. I’m happy and I’m good and I’m not really worried about it, it’s just a personal thing to work through.” “Well I’m glad you’re ok at least.” “Guys! We’ve got to get changed and get our stuff together, we will be docking soon.” Simon calls out to Jasper and Blake, the two start walking back to the rest of the members in silence. Ryan was hanging back from Simon and Luke who’d already started making their way inside the cabin to get their belongings. Getting back to the apartment was a relief for everyone who’d used up all of their energy, but they had no idea what Jasper was about to drop on them. It was even more important after the day they had experienced, that they definitely needed to talk about what they wanted to do with the manager. Before he confronts the group, Ryan visits him in his bedroom. “Hey, how are you feeling?” Jasper asks. “Good. What did Blake want earlier?” Ryan asks him, taking a seat on his bed. “What is it with you two? He’s jealous when I spend time with you, you’re jealous when I spend time with him...” Jasper sighs, stretching his arms up. “I had no idea I was that special.” He says with a cheeky grin. “I’m not jealous, I was just wondering what he was talking to you about.” “Beth asked him out, he wanted to make sure I’m ok with them and then wanted to know if you made the first move or not.” Jasper jokes, watching Ryan’s range of emotions from shock and panic to rolling his eyes as he realizes Jasper is teasing. “Don’t do that to me.” Ryan throws the nearest pillow at Jasper who just laughs. “You’re getting better at taking my jokes.” Jasper grins at him. “Mm, well you’re getting predictable, I’ve started to learn that you treat everything like a joke.” Ryan shrugs and lies down on the bed. “Ouch. I don’t treat everything like it’s a joke. I’m about to have a very serious discussion with the guys about what they want to do with the manager. That isn’t a joke. Speaking of which how are you feeling?” “Still a little dehydrated but I’ll sleep it off.” Ryan looks over at Jasper. “And I appreciate you taking care of me today by the way. Are you nervous about talking to the guys?” “Well that depends, are you going to back me up?” Jasper asks. “Always.” Ryan smiles and props himself up on his elbows. Jasper gets up from the bed and reaches a hand out for Ryan. Ryan takes his hand but pulls Jasper on top of him instead, rolling them over and pinning him to the bed. “I noticed you staring at me and the dancers today. Were you jealous?” “We aren’t dating so how can I be jealous?” Jasper tries to shrug it off, he tries to sit up but Ryan doesn’t move so as soon as he lifts himself from the bed he finds himself kissing distance from Ryan’s lips. “Oh.” Ryan looks at Jasper’s lips with a smirk. “Well, if we’re not dating, then.” He moves off Jasper. “I guess that means kissing is off the table.” “Yeah.” Jasper gives a disappointed sigh. “But apparently teasing isn’t.” He mutters, gets up and straightens out his clothes and hair. “Come on.” He grabs the paperwork he’d collected the night before and opens the door. Ryan gets up and walks out behind Jasper, following him down the hallway and into the lounge room where Luke and Simon were discussing song lyrics while Blake argues about what he wanted to write and sing about. “It just doesn’t seem fair that I don’t get to actually express myself in this band. It’s all love songs and shit. Where’s the dark and gloomy? I have dark emotions I want to be able to sing about. I've written more than 12 songs that have been straight up rejected because apparently they wouldn't appeal to our target audience of screaming teen girls.” Blake complains loudly while he gets himself a drink. "There's no creative freedom and I'm sick of it." “You're right Blake, and you should be able to write and sing about what is important to you. We all should. But Chris isn’t interested in 'managing' this group, he wants to control us and manipulate us.” Jasper states and drops the files on the table. “Jasper.” Simon begins. “No, look. You can’t deny it all, where’s our income gone? We’re all sharing a place to live despite having broken record sales with our first album and a successful number of live performances. You can’t tell me, while that guy is turning up to work in a flash car everyday, and we are coming in one car together, that we are getting the share we are supposed to be from him. You can’t say that not letting Blake’s song ideas make it onto an album is ok. I don’t actually care if love songs sell better than dark songs because MCR built their career on writing songs like that and they were massively famous and still are. Blake said it himself that he feels like he was a Barbie doll when we were told how to dress and act. He makes you think you're making a decision that you want, but really you're making the decision he wants you to. Singing the songs he wants you to and he's 'advertising' us the way he wants to. Today's music video, up until he tried to hospitalize Ryan with heatstroke, did any of you honestly feel like it was going to feel like us up there singing? On a yacht, we can't even afford our own apartments. In pastel suits of all things? When would we ever dress that way. It wasn't us. What we did film, was us. We were having fun again, goofing around and being ourselves and just singing and enjoying it, that's what we wanted when we all signed up to join a band, isn't it? Are any of you 100% happy with his management of us since our first album?” Jasper asks, crossing his arms, watching the members all take in what he was saying. “Where are you going with this?” Luke asks, taking his file and flipping through it. “Does he know you have these?” “Well he left his office unlocked so these were practically public access. And I took them to a lawyer...” “You what? You’ve been to a lawyer about this already?” Simon lectures, getting up and grabbing his file. “Did you go through these?” “I only went through mine, to see what I had agreed to in the fine print. The lawyer I saw said we can 100% take him to court for misconduct.” Jasper informs them, holding up the information he’d collected. “I cannot believe you did this without consulting us.” Simon scoffs, snatching those forms from him too. “This is insane Jasper, you want us to take our manager to court.” “What is insane is wanting to continue to be treated like crap and taken advantage of. We need to decide what is good enough for us. I am making the decision that this is not what is good enough for me.” Jasper glances at Ryan behind him who nods. “He hasn’t particularly shown me much consideration, and I do believe he’s been using my mental illness to bring attention to the band.” Ryan steps forward. “I think Jasper has a point, we should be careful about it, but I think we need to take care of ourselves.” “Thank you Ryan.” Jasper nods and looks back at the others. “You brought MCR up and that’s pretty much where I decided that I can’t keep being held back. I don’t care what the rest of you do, I want to write and sing and produce the music that suits me and my style. If I can’t do that in this band, then I will go solo.” Blake sighs, taking his contract and shaking his head. “You're not serious about going solo?” Luke looks at Blake in disbelief. “You can’t be.” “I deserve to be able to do my own style of music.” Blake shrugs. "Like I said I've written enough for my own album already. It wouldn't take much, but a better company for me to move my career onto a different path. One that allows me to be myself, un-apologetically." “Blake no. There’s no way you are going solo. If you feel that seriously about this, we need to work something out because Jasper is right, if he is making us feel that unimportant that our views would be ignored and our health be ignored for the sake of popularity, then we do need to stand up to that.” Simon sighs, reading through his contract. "These contracts are binding for 3 years." He looks back over at Jasper. "We can contest that if we can prove our financial, mental and physical rights are being abused. Which I believe we can." Jasper answers confidently. "I think we should make an appointment to all see him together. This has to be a group decision Jasper, you can't run off making these kinds of decisions for the rest of us." Simon sighs and rubs his forehead. "Can you call whoever looked over these and organize a meeting for us." He asks, he sounded defeated and annoyed, which was understandable given Jasper had ambushed them with this information. Jasper just nods and takes out his phone, walking up the hall again to make the phone call.
  4. “Hey, how’d you go?” Ryan had been waiting up for Jasper, it’d been only half an hour since Blake had turned in for the night leaving him to wait alone. “So, I didn’t bother with the manager.” Jasper states, pulling out a chair at the table and throwing down a folder of forms. “I just snuck into his office and stole all our contracts, took them to a lawyer and explained the situation to see if we are able to get out of them and press charges against him for the mistreatment. He’s gone through them and decided we can build a case against him and end up separating him from the company so we still have a job, but we won’t be working under his abuse.” Jasper says, leaning back with a cocky smirk and putting his feet up on the table. “Shit.” Ryan looks at the folders before him. “Did, did you read all the files?” He asks. “Well no. Why, is there something in here you don’t want me to know?” Jasper asks, picking up the folder with Ryan’s name on it and passing it across the table for Ryan to read through. “I don’t think so, but whatever he has on file about me, he could potentially release to the public so it’s interesting to look at.” Ryan starts flipping through it, while Jasper just watches him with an interested expression. “Are you going to talk to the others about this?” Ryan asks. “Obviously, I can’t go behind their backs and speak for them about all this, for all I know they might be keeping quiet about much worse stuff than us.” Jasper shrugs and starts picking at his nails. “Worse than sleeping with one of their mothers’ on the pretense that it would keep them from killing themselves?” Ryan raises an eyebrow as he drops the folder back on the table. “Although I’m not too sure how to prove that one other than her word against his.” He sighs. “How would your mum feel about making that publicly known?” Jasper asks, his feet moving from the table to the floor as he leans his elbows on the table, his head tilted to the side as he stares at Ryan. “Better it come out this way, in defense against him, then he uses it to make a fool out of her when it suits him, right?” Ryan answers, he was frustrated to even imagine his Mum being used as a tool by the manager for some scheme. Jasper stands up and looks down the hallway, all the bedroom lights were off and there wasn’t a single sound. He boldly walks over to Ryan and presses a kiss hard against his lips, taking Ryan by surprise this time. The kiss was short but Jasper was clearly proud of himself for initiating it this time, stepping back and smiling brightly, his cheeks slightly pink as he lets out a relieved sigh. “What was that for?” Ryan asks. “I just thought we could practice the whole, kissing each other without needing an excuse to do so, thing.” Jasper winks at him, walking to the kitchen to get himself a drink. “That would mean you thought about what I said before you ran off, which for the amount of work you’ve done since you’ve been out, suggests you didn’t have much time to do.” Ryan comments, leaning back in the chair and watching Jasper who turns his attention back to him, holding his glass of water and looking down at it, trying to think of a not so desperate way to say he hadn’t needed much time to think it through. “Ok, maybe I thought it was a little sexy that you are standing up for yourself.” Jasper shrugs, sipping at his water nervously. “Was it too forward to suggest?” Ryan asks, fiddling with his hair and avoiding looking at Jasper. Jasper walks back to the table, setting the glass down on the table and walking over to Ryan, he sits against the table and sighs. “You know, my mum set me up with Beth. I didn’t ask her out, she didn’t ask me out. Before that I hadn’t dated anyone and never had to think about making a move or timing or any of that stuff, and I never had to live with her and be a decent boyfriend 24/7. I am so worried I am not going to live up to what you want from me and you’re going to see all of my flaws and we’ll ruin the band and our futures if this doesn’t work out.” Jasper admits, watching as Ryan just nods along with everything being said. “You’re right.” Ryan agrees. “It’s a bit complicated.” Jasper shrugs. “Yeah, the world could end if we date.” Ryan smirks. “I see, you’re mocking me.” Jasper gets down from the table and moves back to his water. “I’m just enjoying not being the one overthinking it all, for once.” Ryan teases, standing up from his seat and following Jasper, he places a hand on his shoulder and whispers in his ear. “I can wait for you.” His lips graze just below Jasper’s ear, sending tingles up Jasper’s spine. “If you’re not ready to be with me.” He slowly runs his hand down Jasper’s back, resting it on his hip. “Then we won’t be together.” He takes a step back, turning and walking away from Jasper, who was in a state of shock, his heart was pounding and he felt so hot his clothes restricting everywhere on his body. He turns around, looking down the hallway to see the low light of Ryan’s phone lighting up the somewhat forbidden room. Jasper takes out his phone and considers sending a text but no words came to mind. He turns back and drinks his water, returns it to the sink, turns the lights off and heads down the hall hesitating outside Ryan’s room first before heading to his. He sinks into his bed and closes his eyes, trying not to think about the way it felt for Ryan to kiss him, touch him and tease him like he had. “Pastel? Are you kidding me? There is no way in hell I am wearing that.” Blake crosses his arms and moves away from the rack of pastel coloured suits that he was supposed to wear. “Pastel suits on a boat, just so we look like complete dicks. That’s some kind of hell that I can’t even imagine being tormented through when I finally die. If I go to hell and am forced to wear pastel there I will consider the devil a real professional at torture.” “You’re wearing the green pastel suit, Jasper will be in the pink, Ryan in the Blue, Simon you’ll be in yellow, Luke, you will be wearing purple. Come on, get dressed, lets shoot this music video.” The manager claps his hands and turns and walks away. “I’m not wearing it.” Blake comments, shaking his head. “I wanted to be a singer, not a Barbie Doll. I’m not wearing something that doesn’t feel right to me. It’s so far from my style, I am absolutely not going to be caught dead in a green pastel suit.” “Well, at least you’re not in pastel pink.” Jasper pulls his suit off the rack and eyes it. “I think it’ll look good on you, bring out your innocence.” Ryan comments, Jasper rolls his eyes, holding his suit in front of himself and looking in the mirror to see how it’d look. He shrugs, it didn’t look too bad at all, but it did have an ‘innocent vibe’. It wasn’t something he would usually wear but he kind liked it. He was first to go and get changed into it to see how he looked. Once everyone was dressed, even an extremely reluctant Blake who did not look impressed at all to be in the suit. Ryan on the other hand, looked immaculate, the mission of not staring at him had become much harder now seeing him in a slim fitted suit. The group were herded to the deck where most of the music video would be filmed. Their first order of business was the dance section given to Ryan to perform. “How come the girls get to wear bikini’s and we are dressed head to toe?” Luke groans, fanning himself with his hand. “Drink up guys, it’s going to be a long day.” Simon passes chilled water bottles to the three of them. “How is he dancing in this heat?” Blake asks astonished. “He just wants to show us how hard he is trying.” Jasper sighs. “Hey.” Blake nudges Jasper. “Can we talk about last night?” He asks. Jasper just frowns at him, he had forgotten all about what Blake had walked in on the night before and hadn’t even asked Ryan about it when he’d gotten home, surely if they’d had a serious conversation Ryan would have mentioned something. “Are you mad at me?” Blake asks. “What would I be mad about?” Jasper asks, distractedly looking back towards Ryan who was dancing very closely with one of the girls. “You know, the Beth stuff.” Blake shrugs. “What? No we’re good, that’s all over now. I’ve barely thought about it.” Jasper shrugs, he gives Blake a smile before turning his attention back to Ryan. “Are you sure, you’ve been kinda avoiding me.” “No, no. Not intentionally I’ve just been caught up in other stuff.” Jasper assures him. “Yeah, you and Ryan have become really close.” Blake comments, Jasper looks at Blake, trying not to look too nervous about the statement. “I just want to make sure you still consider me a friend, that’s all. I’m glad you and Ryan are close, he needs someone to bond with in here, I just...” “Are you jealous I’ve been spending more time with Ryan?” Jasper light heartedly jokes, hoping the nature of their ‘friendship’ wouldn’t be questioned if he joked about him as Blake’s replacement. “Jealous isn’t the right word.” Blake laughs it off. “We’re seriously fine. Don’t stress, you’re my best friend, that hasn’t changed. Ryan has just been opening up to me a lot lately and we’ve become closer because of that. Sorry if it feels like I haven’t been as attentive to our friendship. We should do something some time, just us. Get out and have drinks or something.” Jasper suggests, his attention back on Ryan who seemed a bit off while the manager was talking to him. Ryan suddenly starts gagging and running to the side of the boat. “Oh, that’s not a good sign.” Luke mutters to Simon. Jasper heads over to check on their sick friend. “Are you alright?” Jasper asks as he approaches, tugging back Ryan’s jacket and helping him take it off. Jasper holds the jacket over his arm and rubs Ryan’s back while Ryan loosens the tie and struggles to undo his top button. “I get sea sick.” Ryan admits, gagging as he holds onto the rail on the side of the yacht again. “Ryan.” Jasper leans against the rail beside him. “Is there any part of this career that doesn’t inconvenience you?” He asks sarcastically, handing Ryan his water bottle. “Thanks.” Ryan sips at the water. “And, no. There isn’t.” Ryan answers back jokingly. Jasper smiles. “To my credit though, it is a million degrees, I’m in a suit and I’ve been dancing for the last hour in the middle of the hottest part of the day. I am actually convinced I am going to die on this yacht.” Ryan tells him. “Yeah, well I did say we would die of heat exhaustion in suits on a boat in the middle of the day. Everyone just thought I was being a little bitch.” Jasper looks away while Ryan starts gagging hard and brings up the water he’d just tried to drink. “Sorry.” Ryan comments. “Christopher is going to be annoyed with me, because he wanted me to do the whole routine again, but sexier. This is the opposite of sexy.” Ryan starts gagging again. “I thought it was well and truly sexy enough.” Jasper answers, smirking at Ryan. “You have gone completely pale. Are you going to keep throwing up over the side of our expensive pimp yacht or can I help you inside the cabin and give you some ice to eat?” He offers. “Are you going to help me undo all of these buttons too?” Ryan asks. “I will, but keep in mind, I’ve just listened to you vomit and may not be finding it that much of a turn on to help you undress right now.” Jasper rolls his eyes and puts his arm around Ryan, helping him walk towards the door of the air-conditioned cabin, the other members, the dancers, manager and film crews follow inside, everyone breathing a sigh of relief at the fresh cool air. “Is he ok?” The manager calls out. “Yeah, just, you know, heat stroke.” Jasper rolls his eyes, helping him to a row of seats and encouraging him to lie down. “Can someone get him a glass of ice?” Jasper orders. “Maybe some wet towels or something too?” Luke, Simon and Blake walk off to find the things Jasper had asked for. Jasper gets to work undoing the buttons down Ryan’s shirt, meanwhile the bikini wearing dancers were grabbing their robes to pull on because of how cold the room was. “Well if Ryan isn’t able to keep performing, we will just do your solo parts.” The manager suggests when the other members come back into the room. “Thanks guys.” Jasper smiles at them, taking the cup of ice and passing Ryan a piece, then placing a damp towel on his forehead. “Thanks.” Ryan mutters, appreciating the guys all working together to take care of him. “You’re bringing out the nice side of Jasper.” Blake comments, watching the way Jasper was showing so much care to Ryan. “Oh come on, plenty of your drunk nights have ended in me taking care of you too.” Jasper shakes his head, turning around and looking at his friends. “I take care of all of you, which is why I am saying right now on behalf of all of us, that we are not going out there in these hot suits to film for you. Ryan’s going to need to rest, we should all enjoy the ride back to the port in something more comfortable.” Jasper stands up and crosses his arms across his chest, not bothering to look at the manager, he had figured he was more likely to have the guys agree with him, than ever have that idiot swallow his pride and accept that what he was doing was wrong.
  5. No one seemed interested at all in where Jasper and Ryan had been all night, they hadn’t known about Ryan leaving early because of dramas with his Mum, so the assumption had been that he went out to celebrate without them. When Jasper told them he’d been out and drunk dialed Ryan they accepted it without any question at all. “Who else did you share this theory with Jasper?” Ryan shows him his phone with a headline claiming that he was doing drugs. “Oh my god, I only told the manager, I swear, that was months ago so why would he bring this up now?” Jasper asks confused. “It doesn’t even matter. This will completely ruin my reputation before I even get a chance to show people what I’m like.” Ryan states angrily scoffing. “It’ll be fine, I’ll help cover this all up.” Jasper assures him, standing up and taking his phone out of his pocket to find and read the story himself. “Thank you, for not just having my back and showing me respect, but instead, making claims about me that weren’t true and making me out to be a drug user to the public. I can’t believe you, you’re going to help me cover this up? You hide behind this ‘I’m not judgmental’ lie and try to convince everyone you’re being understanding and respectful when the truth is you don’t like me and you’re trying to ruin my future in the band. Good job Jasper. Thanks for being a complete jerk.” Ryan turns and starts storming out of the room. “Excuse me? I’ve covered your ass and been helping you since you joined, if you’re a negative person hellbent on only seeing the worst sides of people, that’s on you, not me. You’re really quick to lose trust in someone, that was something I said on the first day. Since then I’ve stuck up for you more times than you know about. No wonder you’re such a difficult person to get along with, that ‘everyone is out to get me and let me down’ attitude is fucking annoying. I am trying to help you. How can you get me so wrong? I literally spent the whole night trying to make you see that I cared about you.” Jasper argues, following him out of the room. “You only care because I’m part of the band.” Ryan snaps, not stopping his dramatic storm off. “No shit sherlock, this band is my career, it’s Blake’s career, it’s Simon’s career, it’s Luke’s career and we’re all doing the best we can to make it a fun experience for ourselves. If you think for one minute I’m going to let everyone suffer because of you, if you think I’m going to let our shit manager win by watching us struggle to hold your head above water, you’re sorely mistaken about the kind of person I am. I won’t let anything ruin what we have going for us and you are part of that. So even though you’re shitty with me I am going to try to do what I can to make this issue go away for you. So you’re very welcome.” Jasper stops in the hallway and bangs aggressively on the door of their manager. “Whatever.” Ryan shouts as he leaves Jasper behind in the hallway. “What’s going on Jasper?” Their manager pulls the door open. “You’re the only person I told about my thoughts on this, so how is there a gossip magazine sharing a story about it out now?” Jasper holds his phone in front of the manager’s face. “I will deal with it.” Chris sighs. “Will you really? You don’t look like a hero when you put out a fire you started yourself. We just want to perform for our fans, write song. All Ryan wants to do is share his dancing skills with us, and this petty stream of constant dramas is really infuriating. He deserves better than this. You have no idea how everything you’re doing is affecting him. Fix this, immediately and respectfully, unless you want me starting to spread stories to the gossip magazines about your personal life.” Jasper threatens, walking off shaking his head and trying to catch his breath. He was trying to excuse Ryan’s outburst, reminding himself that they’d both barely had any sleep and Ryan was probably projecting some of his sense of betrayal from what he’d found out last night. It made sense that he’d have his walls up at the first sign that someone was being deceitful. It didn’t make it hurt any less that Ryan had been so quick to push Jasper away after all his efforts the night before to make sure Ryan knew he had his back. “So I guess we’re done for the day?” Blake asks, interrupting the argument Jasper was having in his head. “I heard you upset Ryan, again. Just when I thought you guys were starting to be really close. What happened?” Blake puts his arm over Jasper’s shoulder comfortingly. “We need a new manager, he’s orchestrating problems for us.” Jasper sighs, looking back down the hallway where Simon and Luke were standing just outside the practice room, both look away as Jasper looks at them. “Did they send you to diffuse the bomb?” He smirks at Blake. “As your best friend, it’s my job to handle the bullshit with you, apparently. Although if it’s about our manager, the group should all be involved.” Blake turns them around and starts walking them back towards the other guys. “Why is Ryan mad at you if it’s something the manager did?” “Because I miss judged a situation and went to Chris about it, months ago. And it’s that situation that has come back to bite me. He has a right to be mad. But it’s everything else, you know? People always forget the good stuff when something bad comes up. I don’t deserve to have him hate me, for a mistake I made when we first met, and to disregard the efforts I’ve put towards helping him since.” Jasper felt guilty complaining about it, but he also wanted to hear someone back him up. “People are dicks. As someone with borderline anger issues yourself, I’m sure you get that in the heat of it, it’s not uncommon to overreact. Just apologize to him. You’re both adults, as scary as that is, not teenage girls. There’s no use making it into more than it is.” Blake pats his back as they stand back in front of Luke and Simon. “Everything alright?” Simon asks. “Apparently this one is on Chris. He’s framing Jasper to look bad.” Blake tells them confidently taking his best friend’s side in this issue, leaving the other two with not much choice but to make comments promising their support. Ryan knocks on the door of Jasper’s bedroom. Jasper calls out to come in, thinking it was Simon, he was the only one that usually knocked. Ryan walks in and Jasper is just sitting on his bed with his note pad in just his boxer shorts, hair still wet from his shower. “Ryan.” Jasper stashes his notepad under his pillow and reaches for the nearest shirt on the floor to pull it on. “I wanted to apologize for the way I was speaking to you earlier. I’ve got to tell you something.” Ryan sits on the bed beside Jasper. “They are anti-depressants. I’ve been on them since my suicide attempt.” Ryan frowns at Jasper, waiting for a reaction. “Ok, I don’t think any less of you.” Jasper tells him, placing a hand on Ryan’s knee comfortingly. Ryan holds Jasper’s hand and smiles. “I’m telling you, because the manager wants me to announce it to fix the situation with the media reports, but I wanted you to know first.” “What the fuck! You are fucking kidding me!” Jasper pulls away from Ryan and gets off the bed, storming over to look out the window, his arms crossed. “What are you mad about?” Ryan stands up and walks over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “He is using you Ryan. As a goddamn publicity stunt. Now I know why he announced the ‘drug’ thing in the first place. Attention for the group.” Jasper scoffs, shaking his head and turning to Ryan. “You deserve better than this bullshit. The shit you have already gone through, you really don’t need to be having your mental illness publicized like that, like it’s some kind of fucking game to him.” Jasper was furious, running his fingers through his hair. “You think that’s really what he’s doing?” Ryan steps back from Jasper, taken back by how annoyed Jasper was over something that wasn’t his own personal issue. “Are you ok? You seem really annoyed.” “He and I have problems going way back and I don’t trust him at all. Everything he does shits me off but this is really taking it next level, hurting you and purposefully forcing you to discuss your personal problems. He is a dick.” Jasper turns to his wardrobe and finds himself some pants and a clean shirt, getting dressed quickly. “What’d he do so wrong to you?” Ryan asks, sitting back on Jasper’s bed. “He’s used me as a publicity stunt in the past, you’ve mentioned your anxieties, you don’t seem like you’d be able to easily cope with him throwing your personal life into magazines to promote the band. But he’s the kind of manipulative scum that he doesn’t give a shit.” Jasper states then scoffs and shakes his head, grabbing his phone from his bedside table. “Bit late for that now.” Ryan covers his face with his hands, his breathing quickening as the intensity of the conversation starts taking it’s toll on him. “He knows about your anxiety, doesn’t he?” Jasper asks, trying to calm his own actions as he notices Ryan’s telltale anxiety attack sighs showing but his quick fused anger was building up. “Yes.” Ryan’s voice wavers, his throat dry. Jasper runs his fingers through his hair and sighs. “He knows you’re not good in crowds, so day one, he puts you in with us and leaves you all by yourself with a group of strangers. He organizes a press conference to show you off, giving you no option but to show yourself off in front of a room full of strangers. He knew your singing wasn’t up to scratch so he demanded you sing for an audience. He knew you and I didn’t get off to the best start so he made us work together. This has all been a set up. He set you up Ryan. He set you up to fail. He set you up to pass out from stress and anxiety. The anxiety pills falling from your pocket were a bonus, now he could continue the drama, yeah he’s on drugs maybe. The fact that they are anxiety pills is even better. Now you have to announce that too and he will make a big deal out of your every public appearance and act like he is fixing you as you get better at coping with the crowds and shit. This is fucked.” Jasper groans. “I’m sorry this has made you so angry.” Ryan states nervously, watching as Jasper paces. “I’ll be right back.” He sighs and walks out of the room quickly, slamming the door behind him and leaving Ryan to sit anxiously on the bed, worried about what Jasper was going to do. Jasper returns a moment later with a glass of water, he places it on the bedside table. “What are you doing?” Ryan asks. “Making sure you’ll be alright while I’m out.” Jasper smiles at Ryan. “Water and relax. I’m going to go and sort the manager out. “Jasper don’t.” Ryan grabs his hand, pulling him back. “I need to sort it out or he will keep treating you like this.” Jasper tells him quickly. “Calm down with me.” Ryan pleads, holding his hands gently. “He can’t get away with this, you can’t ask me to let him get away with this.” Jasper sighs, letting Ryan pull him closer. “I owe you an apology for the way I treated you today.” Ryan tells him letting go of Jasper’s hands. “No, I made that claim in the first place, I deserved for you to be annoyed about it and to blame you.” Jasper shakes his head, reaching back for Ryan’s hands. Ryan just caresses his cheek and places a very gentle kiss on his lips. Ryan smiles against Jasper’s lips as he feels Jasper pressing back harder, before he breaks the kiss. “Mm, so we’re doing apology kisses now?” Jasper asks, licking his lips and looking at Ryan’s and leaning in a little, wanting another taste of his lips. “Is that ok? If apology kisses aren’t your thing we can surely find other excuses to kiss.” Ryan tells him with a smirk. Jasper smiles and licks his lips again. “We’ve gone from an accidental kiss, to any excuses to kiss in a week. The way this is going you’ll be asking me to marry you by the end of the year.” Jasper jokes. “I don’t think so, I did tell you that you were fake and being a jerk earlier today. I’ve got anxiety, not Bipolar disorder. I am not sure I’ve known you long enough to be sure you’re marriage material.” Ryan teases, his playful personality felt like kryptonite to Jasper who knew there was something he had been intending to do before he was distracted with that kiss. Now all he wanted to do was to kiss him again and he had every intention of getting that, but he was nervous about leading. “Is it bad that I am trying to think about any excuse to ask you to kiss me again.” Jasper asks quietly. “You know if we were dating, we wouldn’t need any excuses.” Ryan suggests, taking Jasper by surprise, he goes completely silent. “So, wait. Are you attracted to me, like that?” Jasper asks sounding genuinely surprised. Now he didn’t want to leave the room, didn’t want to be out of reach of Ryan. The way Ryan was smiling at him, was so luring, he felt like tackling him back on the bed and letting himself get caught up in the moment. “I just think that maybe that’s a good step before you know, taking a step like proposing to you.” Ryan jokes, the look on Jasper’s face making Ryan feel nervous too. Jasper hops off Ryan’s lap, just in time for the bedroom door to be opened, pulling him from his momentary daydream, back to reality. There was no way they could hide in here, making out, that kind of thing couldn’t happen here, not while Blake was comfortable opening his door at any given moment. God forbid he walk in on anything happening between them, it was just lucky Ryan had surprised him with that question enough to make him take a step back or he very well could have walked in on them kissing. “Yes Blake, what can I do for you?” Jasper asks, overthinking if Blake would be suspicious of Ryan sitting on his bed, he shakes the thought away remembering plenty of times where Blake had been right where Ryan was, usually picking on him. It briefly crosses his mind that in all those moments, he hadn’t looked at Blake on his bed as someone he desired or as ‘tempting’, unlike the dark-haired man he couldn’t even look at now for fear of turning completely red. “What’s up?” Blake asks. “You came in here, you tell me?” Jasper asks back, a little too fast with an undertone of defensiveness. “You guys weren’t having a domestic in here were you?” Blake asks, giving a light-hearted chuckle at his own joke. “No.” They answer at the same time, before going uncomfortably silent again for a few moments. “I am going to go see our manager and have a word with him.” Jasper states, walking out quickly before things got any more awkward. “Is he ok?” Blake asks. Ryan shrugs and stands up, wanting to escape the room as well. “Hey, sorry, did I say something wrong?” “No, no, there’s just other stuff on my mind.” Ryan answers, hoping Blake would step out of the way of the door. “Anything I can help with?” Blake offers politely. “Do you think he is manipulative?” Ryan asks, realizing he wasn’t getting out of the room without having to talk to Blake. “Jasper? No, I think he’s too impulsive to be manipulative. Manipulative people think ahead about stuff way in advance, they plan things to hurt others. Jasper just doesn’t always think things through before he does and says stuff. He’s definitely not that forward thinking.” Blake frowns at him. “I didn’t mean Jasper.” Ryan laughs. “Ok, well I obviously missed the conversation where you guys were bitching about someone. I’m going to guess though, that you mean the manager? He’s a dick. Jasper has problems with him, he may be a little biased.” Blake advises, looking down at his feet for a moment, then looks back up at him. “Hey, so you and Jasper, what is going on there?” He asks. “What do you mean?” Ryan asks, feeling completely caught off guard. “He doesn’t talk to me much anymore but you guys seem to be spending lots of time together now so you’re probably more the person to talk to about this, is he mad at me still?” Blake sighs, Ryan looks completely relieved, having thought Blake somehow knew about them. “I don’t think he is mad at you.” Ryan tells him with a friendly smile. “I miss him.” Blake shrugs, putting his hands in his pockets. “Feels like we don’t have much of a friendship anymore but you guys are really close, so can you talk to him and ask him to talk to me?” Blake pleads. “You don’t need me to set up an opportunity for you to talk, he’s your best friend, I’m sure he’ll be thankful that you want to talk to him. He misses you too. Your friendship is important to him too.” “I can just tell he’s not completely comfortable with me now. I can’t help but feel like he’s pushing me away. Like even last night, he called you to go and pick him up, not me. Little stuff like that makes me feel like he just doesn’t feel as close to me. I am trying to show him I still care about him and want to be there for him, but he’s not really coming to me about stuff. Has he talked to Beth at all, do you know?” “He hasn’t mentioned speaking to her.” Ryan shrugs. Blake just nods then lets out a sigh. “I never wanted to have a falling out with a friend over a girl. It’s even stupider that she wasn’t my girl when this all started. I feel like I’ve wasted a friendship for nothing. I don’t want him to be weird around me forever.” “Give it time, I’m sure he’ll let you in on how he’s feeling when he is ready.” Ryan smiles at him, he felt bad that Blake didn’t know about Jasper yet, but coming out to friends wasn’t really where Jasper was out, since he’d barely started to accept it himself. “Hey, whatever you were upset about, Jasper’s actions don’t always come across nice, but his intentions usually are.” Blake tells him. “Usually?” Ryan laughs. “Well yeah, we’re all human, everyone fucks up from time to time. I’m trying to say though, he’s pretty much a nice guy. If you’re good to him, he’s good to you. Fuck him over and he might be bitter and vengeful. I wouldn’t want to be Chris right now, that’s for sure. Anyway, I’ll let you go to bed, you look pretty tired.” Blake states, turning and leaving Jasper’s room, Ryan follows him out and they go their separate ways in the hallway. The thought of Jasper doing something ‘bitter and vengeful’ to Chris was playing on his mind a bit, as he hoped that he wasn’t going to push things too far and do something that could get him in trouble. He didn’t need Jasper to risk his own place in the band to save his honor, as noble of a gesture it was.
  6. “Ry?” Jasper answers the phone with a groggy voice, wiping his eyes to look at his watch before lying back down, snuggling into his pillow, barely staying awake to hear Ryan speak. “I don’t know what to do.” Ryan says, his voice shaking. “At 2am? Maybe go to bed.” Jasper suggests with a yawn. “I’m scared Jasper. I’m so scared. My brain is screaming at me but I am scared it will hurt people.” Jasper starts waking properly as Ryan’s voice sends panic through his body to make him alert. Aware of his past, the way Ryan was speaking now was extremely unsettling. “Ry what’s going on?” He asks as he sits, flicking on his lamp and rubbing his eyes again. “I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I can’t keep doing this. It didn’t work last time but...” Ryan starts sobbing. “I want it to work but I am so scared it won’t. I don’t want to see my Mum cry again.” Jasper pulls back the sheets, jumping out of bed, adrenaline kicking in. “Ryan what are you doing?” He asks urgently, having seen Ryan leave with his Mum at the show, he had no idea where he could be or what had happened but he could hear how distressed Ryan was and knew he was capable of attempting to take his life if he felt he had no other choice. “I’m waiting for a train.” Ryan tells him with a strange calmness in his voice. “Where are you going?” Jasper felt almost relieved, though he was too awake to go back to bed now. “I just want it to work.” Ryan whispered, hauntingly calm. Jasper pauses as he realizes what he is saying. He quickly starts looking for some clothes, pulling on the first pants and a hoodie he can find. “What station are you at Ryan?” He asks as he races from his room and out the front door, headed for the station nearest to them which was only a short walk away, 5 minutes at best. “I’m sorry I called you.” Ryan replies, gulping back a sob, the sound of a train filling his ears. “Ryan I am telling you now, don’t do this. It didn’t work last time, all it did was traumatize your Mum and damage your vocal chords. This time could be worse, you could damage your whole body, and it won’t just be your Mum crying, you’ve got friends that care about you here and we will all be crying by your bedside too if you do this.” Jasper was running, hoping Ryan wouldn’t hear him breathing more heavily and panic then jump onto the tracks to avoid the chance of anyone stopping him. “I got scare last time, this time will be different.” Ryan was sobbing again, his sobs masking the sound of Jasper’s erratic breathing. “The train will be moving slow enough to stop coming in or leaving the station. It may leave you paraplegic or a vegetable. Is that better? Is it worth that risk? It didn’t work last time because it wasn’t meant to. You were meant to get the phone call and join the band and make new friends and have a life!” Jasper takes a moment to catch his breath as he reaches a street with a car approaching. He checks for traffic and crosses the road, running again as he turns the corner and sees the train station. “I only got in because my mum slept with the manager. And I don’t fit in,, I’m still the odd one out. I haven’t made friends, you hate me.” “If I hated you, I would have ignored the call, it’s 2am, I ignore anyone that calls me past midnight. Give me some credit.” Jasper jokes, his heart racing as he hears a whistle from the platform and sees the trainline lights flashing down the road, he didn’t have long until the train would be at the station. “You’re just trying to keep the reputation of being a nice guy so the fans don’t feel let down.” Ryan tells him. “Again, it’s 2am. There’s no fans watching me, I hope. I could have ignored your call without anyone knowing. I am on the phone with you because I care.” Jasper reassures him, he felt out of breath entering the station and hoping desperately that he was at the right place. “Why did you answer?” Ryan asks. “I don’t know. I just saw your name and answered. Why did you call me?” Jasper asks back, wanting to keep Ryan talking until he could get to him. “I hate making people worry about me. I wasn’t going to call anyone. I thought you’d ignore me. I wanted you to. Then I would...” Ryan stops himself, breaking down again. Jasper tries to hide his own tears, understanding that Ryan was hoping to be ignored so he’d have an excuse to step off the platform. He was as much the call for the final straw in his search for a reason to go ahead with this plan, as he was the call for help. “Well I’m glad you called me.” Jasper answers. Ryan was just sobbing on the other end, Jasper at a loss for words of comfort, found himself repeating the words ‘It’s ok, you’ll be alright. I’m here.” Over and over while Ryan cried. This went on for what felt like forever while Jasper looked for the first platform in the station, hoping Ryan had at least picked convenience for his suicide location. “I’m sorry Jasper. I, I shouldn’t have bothered you. I’m so sorry.” Ryan apologizes, the sound of a train coming into the station was heard through his phone but he could also hear it in the building, Jasper rushes down the stairs to the first platform begging silently that he would be fast enough. “Don’t be sorry. Don’t ever be sorry. I would rather a call from you, than one from the police telling me someone I care about felt too alone to live, any day. Never be sorry. Never.” Jasper assures him, his heart racing as he gets down to the platform and sees just one person standing on it at the very front. “You can’t fix me.” Ryan sniffles back tears, he was now staring at the train approaching him, his toes on the edge. “I am not trying to fix you Ry, I’m trying to make sure you know that your life is important to people. That your life matters and that whatever you are feeling, however hard it is to open up, I am here. If you need someone, I am here for you and I will always answer you. I will always listen and I will always care.” Jasper tells him. The train pulls into the station slowly and the door in front of Ryan opens but Ryan doesn’t notice, too busy crying, his toes still just over the line, his whole body shaking. “Take a step back.” Jasper begs. Ryan shakes his head, trying to compose himself again. “I can’t keep doing this.” Ryan was whispering through the tears now. “I’m sorry.” “Don’t you dare.” Jasper’s voice wasn’t coming through the phone now. He approaches Ryan slowly, trying to get his attention. Ryan drops his phone, not wanting to hear Jasper anymore he straightens his body and with numb calmness he looks at the train, looking along it and counting how many carriages he had to make his decision before he’d have to wait for the next train, only his attention is broken by the blonde in a burgundy hoodie and grey sweat pants, tears in his eyes and flushed red cheeks from running, walking up to him. “Ryan.” Jasper didn’t have to say anything else, Ryan just collapses to the ground in tears. Jasper runs to his side and sits beside him, the train pulls out from the station, the two barely notice it moving over the intensity of the moment. The final carriage passes them and they are left in silence in the station. “I am so sorry.” Ryan cries to Jasper. “Come on. Lets move away from the tracks.” Jasper suggests. Ryan makes no movement, his body felt too heavy to move and he was in a hysteric state. “I wanted to do it.” Ryan tells him. Jasper had nothing to say back. He just holds Ryan across the shoulders and hugs him like that until Ryan calms down enough to stand up as another train approaches them, though it’d barely felt like 10 minutes had passed. Over the speakers they are notified that this was the last train running for the night. “Lets get on this one alright?” Jasper says gently, Ryan nods, standing shakily, he felt like he was going to collapse again but he was willing himself to be strong while Jasper was beside him. He felt guilty enough for what he’d put him through, he didn’t need to add being a complete mess, to the drama. Once the train stops Jasper leads them to the closest door and they get on. It was abandoned at this time of the morning so they take the nearest seats and have the carriage to themselves. “I’m so sorry.” Ryan apologises again, Jasper sighs and undoes his jumper, slipping it off and placing it on the chair between him and Ryan, covering Ryan’s hand. “Aren’t you cold?” Ryan asks. “Priorities.” Jasper gives him a sweet smile as he slides his hand under the jumper and finds Ryan’s hand, holding it and rubbing the back of it with his thumb. “I think you need this more. How are you feeling?” He asks gently giving his hand a squeeze. “Lost.” Ryan mutters, glancing out the window briefly. “Where are we going?” “Where do you want to go?” Jasper asks. “I really don’t know.” Ryan answers, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. “I just want to go.” ` The train pulls into the station and Jasper nudges Ryan who’d been asleep for most of the travel, exhausted by his panic attack. It’d been a long hour for Jasper sitting in silence beside him wondering if he would be ok, his own body still full of adrenaline and fear, so there was no rest for him. “Where are we?” Ryan asks rubbing his eyes. “It’s a surprise.” Jasper answers with a smile, giving Ryan’s hand a squeeze before letting go picking up his jacket to put it on as he stands to exit the train. Ryan gets up and follows him out and onto the platform, walking a step behind him through the station and out onto the deserted street. The two cross the road to where there is a bush area. Jasper uses his phone to light up a pathway through the trees and within only a minute of leaving the station, they are standing on the moonlit beach with the sound of waves still distant as the tide is yet to come in. Jasper takes off his shoes and rolls up the bottom of his pants. Ryan does the same. “Wanna walk?” Jasper asks. Ryan doesn’t answer, he just starts heading up the beach, Jasper beside him. There was something calming and soothing about listening to the tide sweeping in, while the wind blows gently through the trees. Ryan could feel his senses kicking back in, taking a moment to appreciate the smell of the ocean, the feeling of sand under his feet and blowing through his hair and making his face feel fresh, all the sweat and tears from the stress of the night simply stolen away by the breeze. They didn’t feel as though they had walked for far or long before they notice the beach getting lighter, the sun not even tingeing the horizon yet but the sky turning a soft light blue, the night stars fading against the new light, only a few still visible. Without saying a single word they both turn and start walking back towards where they had started. “I’ve been struggling lately too.” Jasper finally speaks, he got the feeling Ryan wasn’t going to start this conversation but he had no intention of avoiding the subject. “Oh, why?” Ryan asks, glancing at Jasper who was hugging his jacket tight around himself, the breeze more chilly on the walk back as it washed the ocean closer to them. “Well, since the kiss. I haven’t told anyone else about it and it’s felt isolating not being able to talk to you about it either.” Jasper answers, Ryan could see he was trying to lead a brave ‘opening up’ conversation, but Ryan was grateful to have something else to think about it, that wasn’t his own problems. “So aside from the fact you and your girlfriend have the same taste in guys, what’s been stressing you out about it?” Ryan jokes, smiling at Jasper who smile back, stops walking and shrugs. “The fact that I have a taste in guys, in general.” Jasper answers, Ryan stops and looks at him, the sunrise wasn’t far off now and the beach was light enough that he could see Jasper’s face clearly. He didn’t look upset, as hard to read as ever, but certainly not like he was going to cry. “You’d never suspected?” Ryan asks. “I guess, when you grow up assuming you’re going to like girls, it’s easy to give excuses for the way you feel about guys. I’ve always found guys attractive and I’ve always felt weird about being sexual with a girl. But when Beth and I started dating, we were best friends and I thought the other feelings would come. I thought I’d move past just wanting to listen to her make jokes, or have her teach me dance moves, I loved the way we connected on dates, we really did match well. But I held off kissing her, and when she started wanting the relationship to progress I started backing out of it. I didn’t think it was anything other than I wasn’t ready for more.” Jasper hugs himself a little tighter, avoiding looking at Ryan’s face. “So you’re struggling to come to terms with the fact that you’re not straight?” Ryan crosses his arms. Jasper sighs and starts walking again, silent for a few moments before he finally spoke again. “Well I kissed you, so it makes sense that I should tell you about this stuff. I’ve already made a move on you, so I might as well be comfortable talking to you, right? And if you’re not into me then I hope you can be comfortable being my friend throughout this stage of my life. I’ve come to terms with it, I just haven’t had a chance to work out what that does for us. Honestly I’d just appreciate having you with me for support and comfort, even if that has to be only as a friend.” Jasper states, looking out across the water that was still as a sheet of glass but finally reaching the edges of the sand. The sky above was starting to turn light blue as the first of the morning sunrise begins lighting up the world for another day, light orange starts flooding the horizon, proceeding the sun. “You’ve been extremely hard to read since the moment I met you Jasper, which complicates things for me because I don’t feel attracted to people unless I have strong emotional connection first so our whole relationship has been up and down and I’ve felt really unsatisfying in your eyes, you thought less of me as a singer, you were annoyed at my addition to the band, you have used me for reasons to have a go at the manager over his opinion of your behavior. You kissed me, said it was a mistake and then kissed me again last night but I don’t know whether you did it because you like me or because you just wanted to explore the thought of being with a guy.” “Well it’s not like you got nothing out of the kiss right?” Jasper teases but Ryan didn’t seem amused by the comment. “I haven’t developed much of a connection with you. That being said, I have wanted to impress you, more than anyone since I started here. I am grateful for the times you have stood up for me and I am grateful for you being here for me tonight. I can see us probably getting close and potentially delving into those deeper feelings.” Ryan explains, looking anxiously at Jasper who was just watching the incoming tide, poker faced the whole time he was speaking. “Anyway. That’s enough about me.” Jasper stops and picks up a stick from the foreshore, turning his attention to Ryan. “There’s a few reasons I decided to come all the way here. Firstly, D’n’m’s on the beach, everyone opens up about stuff as they walk in the moonlight on a beach, it’s therapeutic. Secondly. When the tide comes in, you can do other therapeutic stuff. Like this.” Jasper stands a few steps from where the water was reaching and crouches down, writing in the sand with the stick, the words ‘I’m Gay’. He stands up and takes a deep breath. “Now we wait until the water takes away the thoughts that are stressing me out.” He says, watching the water wash in, cover the words at his feet and drag them away back into the ocean. Jasper smiles when the waves pull back showing the sand washed back smooth and clear. Jasper looks at Ryan who returns his smile. “You can put all your fears and worst thoughts, all your darkest secrets and all your deepest regrets on the sand, and the water will just come in and clean them away, leaving the beach just as perfect and beautiful as before. Think of yourself like the sand, let the thoughts be taken away calmly, and return yourself to the perfect, beautiful person that your stress and negative thoughts have stopped you from seeing.” Jasper looks at Ryan who was staring out to sea with a small smile on his face. “Here.” Jasper hands the stick to Ryan. “If you want to try it, or not.” Jasper shrugs. Ryan smiles at him, taking the stick and shaking his head. “Thank you.” He seemed lost for words as he turns back to the ocean and takes in a deep breath. “I’ll be just up there. Take as long as you need.” Jasper walks away back up the foreshore, not wanting to intrude on Ryan’s personal thoughts or struggles. He finds the path they had come in through and takes a seat in the sand to watch the sunrise while Ryan is busy. Jasper looks over the ocean, seeing the bright circle of light reflecting in the ocean, waves had started rolling in gently but the tide would be in fully soon enough and they would have to accept that the day was starting. A fresh, beautiful day, that he hoped Ryan could feel good about and maybe would be a turning point for him emotionally. It’d been a long night, but a very special night in many ways. He turns his head to see what Ryan was up to, a few meters up the beach from him, writing and watching the waves wash it all away. He’d been going for at least 10 minutes and seemed to be busily lost in thought, he clearly had a lot on his mind to still be writing in the sand. Ryan throws his stick into the waves and turns, walking towards Jasper with a smile on his face. “How do you feel?” Jasper asks as Ryan sits beside him. Instead of telling him, Ryan shows him. He leans in, turns Jasper’s face and collects his surprised lips in a gentle, slow kiss, deepening the kiss comfortably, enjoying the more passionate feeling. Jasper doesn’t pull away until he’s nearly out of breath and even then is reluctant to break the kiss, thinking if he suffocated like this it’d still be the best way to go. He savors the taste and the feel of Ryan’s lips. When their lips part they remain close, sharing a few smaller kisses before Ryan sighs, looking back towards the sunrise. Jasper stares at his face, wondering if this was how Ryan felt with all the times Jasper was unclear about his feelings. He wanted to beg Ryan to tell him what was going through his mind but his phone ruins the moment of peace as his alarm starts going off. “We should probably get back.” Ryan mutters, standing up and dusting the sand off himself then grabbing his shoes. Jasper turns his alarm off and looks up at Ryan, wanting to protest and pull him back down for another kiss, to insist they just spend the day kissing on the beach instead of returning to reality. Ryan reaches a hand out for Jasper to pull him up, Jasper stays silent on his thoughts, standing and getting ready to go back to the train station. “At least we can sleep on the train.” Jasper comments as he rubs his eyes and yawns, the night catching up to him. “I hope we don’t get in trouble.” “Psh, if anyone asks I’ll tell them I snuck out to meet up with the mystery person I kissed and you were unfortunately drunk dialed and asked to help me get home when I got lost.” Jasper shrugs, leading the way up the path again, a little grumpy about having to be on the train back to their everyday life, where they would have to go back to pretending they weren’t anything more than friends, and wondering whether that kiss, was Ryan’s way of showing him that they were something more than friends.
  7. “Ryan is going to meet us there. Are you guys ready to go?” Simon walks in with a grin in his black business style suit. He’d gone for a very professional style as usual, Luke was dressed how Fi suggested, black suit pants and white shirt with a black suit jacket and no tie, top button undone. Blake and Jasper were most casual, Jasper didn’t have a jacket, just a long shirt, vest and jeans but he had gone for a bowtie for the occasion, Blake was wearing jeans, a formal shirt and tie loosely hanging around his neck. “One last drink before we go!” Blake announces, pointing to the 4 shot glasses he had lined up on the bench. He lifts one up and clears his throat. “To the poor sucker hospitalized with food poisoning that gave us the performance time for tonight. Thanks for not getting better too soon.” He toasts. “That’s not funny Blake.” Simon scolds. “To us for being next on the list for a show, next time we will be formally invited.” Luke suggests. The four lift their shots and have them quickly. “Ok seriously, we’ve got to go.” Simon tells them, putting his glass in the sink and herding his friends out the door down to the limo that was waiting for them. “Do you think Ryan is coming separately because he’s bringing a date?” Blake asks Jasper as they climb in the limo. “I don’t know, he hasn’t really been talking to me lately.” Jasper mutters, sitting back on the sleek seats of the limo and trying to enjoy this moment without worrying about Ryan’s reason for avoiding him and wanting to turn up to this event alone. “You guys have been weird since the whole suicide thing, did you guys have a fight after that? He said he’d gone to apologize to you. Was it because you and Beth broke up and then you found out Ryan had kissed her?” Blake had every right to be curious but the more he talked about it the more annoyed Jasper felt himself becoming. “What if he comes with Beth!?” Blake gasps, looking at Jasper wide eyed. “Whatever is going on it’s clearly not our business or he’d have told us. Besides, he’s pretty upset that Beth used him and he had only kissed her thinking she was the girl he was talking to, when he’d really been talking to me. So I doubt he’d go out with her.” Jasper rolls his eyes, he was truthfully concerned now that Ryan could be bringing a date but there was no point worrying or wondering. He just plays with his hair, making sure it was staying how he’d styled it, fringe across his face almost reaching his eyes and the rest of his hair was pulled gelled down flat, he was looking forward to growing it a little longer and being able to do more with it. “One day we will bring dates.” Simon tries to joins in the conversation. “Easy for you to say, you’re the only one without a crush on someone who’s unattainable.” Luke comments with a sigh. The guys give him a sympathetic smile, knowing he’d dressed to impress Fi. “We really are a bunch of loners.” Blake laughs to himself amused at the idea. “Ok lets think more positively, so none of us have a love life, we are singers about to perform at this show and hopefully that will bring us more opportunities to improve our career. I mean we’re working on new songs for a new album, we’re learning some easy dance steps from Ryan, lets not forget how big a deal it is for him that he’s a part of this and that his skills are actually being used at last. He will be thrilled, and if given his past, I hope he has found someone to share in the victories and good times. He deserves it for all he’s gone through and by the sounds of it he didn’t have a good group of people around to support him back then. We have to do our best to show him this job is what he hoped it’d be.” After Simon speaks everyone is silent again for the rest of the drive, chatting excitedly as they arrive in the line-up of limousines, waiting for their turn to get out and be photographed. Simon leads the way out, they were each photographed individually and called aside by different interviewers for a few quick questions. “Have you pursued a relationship with the person that broke you and Beth up?” Jasper was asked, he knew he should have been prepared for these kinds of questions but he hadn’t thought up answers for them. “Just to be clear, the only person that ‘broke us up’ was myself. I realised I was wasting her time because I didn’t have the feelings she wanted me to have for her, something Blake often pointed out but I thought I just needed to give it more time. There was a person who helped me realise those feelings weren’t going to grow, they were simply not there. As friends, Beth and I make sense and work well, as a couple we just didn’t. Beth and I ended things, I kissed another person, there wasn’t any long going affair or attraction. We decide that our relationship wasn’t right for us. That person didn’t cause the break-up. I was the one that initiated the kiss and I was the one that made the decisions afterwards. I won’t let the blame be put on anyone else.” He tells her with a kind smile but sternness in his voice. “Ok but have you been dating this person since?” The woman asks. “No.” Jasper shrugs, looking over at Ryan who was walking over towards him, taking the attention from the lady interviewing Jasper. “Ryan! How about you, we don’t know a lot about you yet. You decided not to travel with the group tonight, did you didn’t bring anyone special with you?” The interviewer asks while Jasper tries not to stare too long at Ryan in a sleek black suit, tie and all. “Well actually I did.” Ryan answers happily. Jasper bites his lip, jealousy forming in his thoughts. “I invited my mum.” He tells them, pointing at a middle aged woman walking over to him in a modest dark blue dress, her hair pulled back into a tidy bun, silver jewellery graciously dangling from her ears and neck. Relief washes over Jasper who gives Ryan an adoring smile, thinking it cute that he’d brought his mum along. “Jules, you must be incredibly proud of your son.” “Oh you have no idea.” Jules answers, looking at her son with so much admiration Jasper couldn’t help but stare with a smile on his face too, he missed his mum as he watched them smiling and talking about their pride for one another. “We better get inside.” Ryan says, politely waving to the people watching him. He and his Mum link arms and start walking. Ryan looks at Jasper and smiles then puts his other arm out for Jasper to link with and walk inside together. “You look great.” Ryan tells him. “Thanks, you’re not too bad yourself.” Jasper replies. “I will have to steal your son for a moment while we get a few photos as a group before we head in.” Jasper tells Jules, who just beams at him. “He absolutely loves working with you boys, thank you so much for including him.” She hugs her boy and watches as he and Jasper join with the rest of the band, standing together with massive excited grins on their faces while the cameras flash. Once the next person as lined up for their photo the group moves inside where they are led through to the green rooms, Ryan’s mum is shown where to sit for the performance. After their show, and debrief with Chris everyone is allowed to relax and go wherever they like, Ryan disappears pretty fast, and Blake gets talking to a group of girls, Simon and Luke had gone to watch the rest of the performances so Jasper figured he could disappear without anyone noticing he and Ryan we mysteriously gone at the same time. He gets himself another drink and looks for way to the roof, since Ryan was most likely escaping the crowded room. “Hey.” Jasper finds Ryan standing upstairs on the rooftop of the building getting some fresh air. “Are you ok?” He asks, walking over and enjoying the cool breeze, it’d been hot inside since it was so crowded. “Yeah, just a little overwhelmed.” Ryan nods, glancing back at Jasper as he hears him curse, stumbling over his own feet. “Have you been having a good night?” “It’s been interesting, I was excited to start attending these kinds of events.” Jasper nods, standing beside Ryan, wondering how to turn this conversation into an excuse to lean against him or kiss him. “Cute touch bringing your mum here, she seems to be loving it and the fans are already talking about how sweet you are and pointing out that this means you’re single. Blake was joking that you were bringing a significant other.” Jasper sighs, nudging Ryan’s arm, Ryan smirks and nods. “And there are a lot of rumors I imagine, about the fact you’re here single too. I heard that lady asking if you were dating anyone.” Ryan comments. Jasper sighs again and gives a shrug. “I am sorry I said it was a mistake the other day, and that I played it down when asked about it tonight. Thank you for not being weird about it all.” Jasper smiles, reaching to place his hand on his Ryan’s shoulder. Ryan looks at Jasper with a nervous smile as he places his hand on top of Jasper’s. “Have you told the others who you kissed?” Ryan asks, Jasper shakes his head quickly. “Why not?” “I don’t know how they will react, I feel bad enough about the position it’s put you in.” Jasper looks at Ryan, desperately wanting to kiss him, he’d been wanting it since the moment he saw Ryan tonight, and having to be around him for the whole night, seeing how good he looked, just seemed unfair to go home without taking a chance and kissing him again. “Don’t be.” Ryan shrugs, taking Jasper’s hand from his shoulder and just holding it for a moment, rubbing his fingers. “You haven’t acted uncomfortable with me. I thought you would be, I mean I did kiss you.” Jasper frowns at his friend, a cheeky smile crossed Ryan’s face. “Hey, I never said I wasn’t ok with it.” He winks. “With what, me?” Jasper looks at him surprised and excited, that second kiss was looking much more possible. “Obviously I’m ok with you, but with you kissing me. I didn’t stop you when you did it. I just didn’t want to assume that it meant anything until I got to know you more. I wanted to see what kind of connection we had before I told you how it made me feel, because I know there’s feelings you have in the moment, feelings you have in the weeks afterwards and then your true feelings about something, they aren’t always the same thing. At the time, I was disappointed when you freaked out about it, afterwards I freaked out about having been ok with it and how we didn’t really know each other and you calling it a mistake really did disappoint me because I know it was kinda a heat of the moment thing but it didn’t feel like a mistake to me. Now we know each other a bit better and I’m ok about it and if there is that kind of connection from you then maybe we can do it again some time.” Ryan was nervous, his hand holding Jasper’s was shaking a little and his voice sounded dry. Jasper had gotten use to Ryan’s anxiety symptoms but Ryan had become so confident in their friendship, that this felt different, Ryan wasn’t usually nervous to talk to Jasper, so he could only assume it was the conversation making him nervous. He hands Ryan his drink, knowing the man was thirsty. Ryan takes the drink and sips at it. “Say something.” Ryan begs quietly, staring now at the drink in his hands. Jasper decides instead to just show Ryan how he felt, he moves a little closer, looks at Ryan’s eyes until the other held eye contact, then he closes his eyes and leans in, pressing his lips against Ryan’s. The kiss was soft, it was simple and it was more than enough of an answer. They kiss so slowly it felt as though the whole world had frozen neither of them wanted to break the kiss, until Ryan pulls back to breathe, having held his breath the moment Jasper’s lips touched his. “I’m going to get another drink, do you want anything while I'm down there?” Jasper smiles smugly, turning and walking away, his cheeks turning red and his heart racing. He couldn’t believe that had just happened, he’d kissed Ryan again, but this time, it was everything he had thought a first kiss should feel like. It felt like he’d never kissed anyone before, like he’d never even been alive in any moments before this one and his whole body was warmer, his heart beating so fast and he couldn’t stop smiling the whole way down to the bar. At the bar he could see the manager and Jules talking together, they turned and the manager put his hand on her back, leading her away from everyone else, down a small hallway. Jasper frowns, finding it suspicious and not trusting the manager at all, he decides to follow them, far enough behind that they didn’t notice him, the two walk into a room and close the door, Jasper stands outside the door listening in. “His singing isn’t up to scratch, he’s not improving.” Christopher was lying, Jasper had seen an improvement in Ryan’s vocal range, even though he was still quiet and limited. “Please keep giving him a chance, I can’t go through it again with him.” He hears Jules pleading tearfully. “I promised I would give him a few months to prove himself, it’s been two months.” “Please Chris, everyone loved the dancing tonight! He’s very talented.” Jules argues. “This isn’t a dance group, it’s a band. It’s vocals that matter and I’m sorry he’s not going to be able to record for the next album with his skills at this level.” Jasper was annoyed listening to these blatant lies, Ryan was an asset to the group, even though his inclusion had seemed impulsive to start with. “I will do anything. He needs this, he’s been so happy since he’s been in this band. He needs more time. He will be great, I promise.” Jules begs, she sounded desperate, no doubt afraid of Ryan ending up back in a dark place. Jasper takes a deep breath, wondering whether to tell Ryan his mum was the reason he’d gotten into the band. Instead he turns around and slowly walks back towards where he’d left Ryan, deciding to tell him his mum and the manager were talking. Ryan wouldn’t benefit from Jasper telling him what he’d overheard. Ryan was at the bar and saw Jasper straight away, walking out from the hallway. “Where’d you run off to?” Ryan asks, handing Jasper a drink. “I thought I owed you since you gave me yours.” He smiles. “Your mum and the manager disappeared down the hallway talking, I wanted to see where they went but I couldn’t.” Jasper lies, accepting the drink as Ryan doesn’t say anything, just hurries towards the hallway himself to see what was going on with them. The manager walks out of the hallway, looking the other way and doesn’t take any notice of Ryan approaching where he’d come from. Ryan rushes down the hallway and hears his mum crying in one of the rooms. “Mum? What’s going on?” Ryan rushes to her side and hugs her. “Oh nothing, I don’t want you worrying about anything darling, it’s fine.” She tells him, wiping her tears from her eyes and trying to stop herself from crying. “I am worried Mum, what’d he say to you? Jasper said the manager was here with you. Jasper thinks he’s manipulating all of us so if he is doing something to upset you then I want to know what it is. This band isn’t exactly the happily ever after I was hoping for, the manager does seem to be a little careless about our feelings too.” Ryan tells her quietly. “Ryan, please stick it out. I made sure the manager was still going to give you a position.” “How do you mean?” Ryan frowns at her. “I just, I made a deal with him to make sure he knew you’d be capable of singing well again. How is it going? You said Jasper’s been helping you get better.” Jules asks. “You were still very quiet tonight. But your dancing was fantastic.” “You made a deal? What kind of deal?” Ryan asks. “I thought he gave me a position because he thought I had the talent.” “He did. I just wanted to be sure.” Jules shrugs. “Mum, what did you do?” He begs for her to tell him. “You really think he’s manipulative?” She asks. “I’m starting to be more sure of it. What deal did you make?” He demands. “Can we talk about this at home? This isn’t the place.” She starts crying again, Ryan wraps his arms around her tightly until she calms down enough for them to leave without it drawing attention to them.
  8. Beth made a post on her social media, announcing that her relationship had ended with Jasper due to realizing the two were much better off as friends, also denying that he had kissed anyone prior to the break-up, her claim went back to say that they had agreed to end their romantic relationship due to realizing they weren’t able to make each other happy and that when Jasper had told her about the kiss she was happy for him that he was finding happiness for himself. It was polite of her to protect his image, even though they weren’t together and she had no reason to be protecting him. That was a relief, to wake up to the support of the fans given the cold atmosphere from his friends. “Aren’t you lucky that even after you stuffed her around and treated her like nothing, she defends you.” Blake says, clearly reading the reaction to the break-up. “Unbelievably lucky.” Jasper nods, preparing his breakfast and trying to keep to himself busy to avoid talking to everyone. He had read Beth’s post half a dozen times and tried to see where in it, there was even a hint of the girl that had hated him so much to insult him in such a harsh way last night. He’d put it down to in the moment anger and pain, obviously she’d been projecting her hurt onto him and though that wasn’t fair, it was at least understandable. “Hey why is Ryan not here?” Simon asks Jasper. “Oh, he felt uncomfortable about, everything.” Jasper shrugs. Thankfully no more questions were directed his way as Blake felt responsible for Ryan not being comfortable and discussed how he planned to apologize and convince Ryan that he was fine to be at home. Jasper was both desperate and anxious to see Ryan again, he didn’t know what he would do when he saw him but he knew he wanted to be near him. Jasper goes about the morning getting ready for the day as usual and, avoiding talking to anyone. Though the silence in the car drive over was almost suffocating, he was grateful to not be being quizzed over the night. As soon as they are parked, Jasper hurriedly gets out of the car and walks off ahead of the group to get inside. The other members were uncomfortable with the silence but had decided to give Jasper time to process his break-up before asking him about it. When they got into their usual room, Jasper wasn’t in there but Ryan was. “Ryan. Hi.” Blake approaches Ryan slowly, wanting to show him he wasn’t coming over for a fight.. “Look, I really wanted to apologize for last night, I shouldn’t have hit you. That was way out of line. Are you ok?” Ryan looks at Blake, his lip was a little swollen from being busted but he didn’t look bad other than that. “It’s alright, I understand, you were just mad.” Ryan shrugs. Blake frowns at how well Ryan had taken it. “I mean it’s not alright but I’m willing to accept your apology and move forward.” Ryan obviously could tell his first response was a little worrying. Blake nods at what he’s saying and looks down at his feet ashamed. “I was jealous, I have had a thing for Beth forever, she must have known how I felt, but she chose to kiss you the first time she met you. It just really annoys me.” Blake complains, looking at the door to make sure Jasper wasn’t going to walk in and hear him talking about it. “You’re a really great guy, I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but just know that I am not usually like that and I am so sorry that I took my anger out on you like that. It wasn’t ok and I will never do it again.” “To be honest, Blake, she kissed me on Jasper’s birthday. She knew who I was, I didn’t know her yet. I think she used me to get a point over to Jasper that if he didn’t want her she could find someone else. I’m pretty sure, given the strong friendship you’ve got with him and the way you feel about her, you wouldn’t have wanted to kiss her, only for her to be using you against your best friend. How is Jasper this morning?” Ryan asks, looking at Luke and Simon confused about Jasper not being there, he felt torn about whether he’d been right to walk out last night when Jasper needed support, or not and having Jasper not come in with the rest of the band made him think Jasper was not handling things ok. “He’s barely talking, thinks I am mad at him so he’s avoiding all of us. I can’t believe she kissed someone else first.” Blake scoffs, “they really weren’t a great couple. I just didn’t think they would start kissing other people before actually breaking up.” “Are you mad at him?” Ryan asks, Blake shakes his head and shrugs. “I don’t really know. I shouldn’t be, but he hurt her you know? I didn’t realise she was hurting him too though so I guess they both went about it the wrong way.” Blake sighs, looking over at the door as the manager walks into the room. “Well, maybe as his friend, check in with him, he was upset last night too, she’s not the only one hurting right now and there’s no reason you can’t be there for both of them. He deserves someone to be there for him.” Ryan suggests quietly, as the manager gets closer to the group. “What’s going on with Jasper and Beth. He won’t tell me anything.” Chris asks. “If he doesn’t want to tell you, maybe it’s not your business to know.” Blake defends his friend. Chris looks at Blake and smirks. “Did you break them up so you could date her?” He asks jokingly but the response from the room was ice cold, no one looked even the slightest bit amused. “I just want to know what’s going on within the group. They’ve broken up but there’s a lot of support for both of them from what I’ve seen.” He comments, taking his phone out. “Just wanted to see why he wasn’t making a statement himself.” “Respect that. He’ll talk about it when he’s ready. Where is he anyway?” Blake asks, assuming that Chris had already tried to get some information out of him. “In the other room.” The manager shrugs. “Anyway the other news is that we’ve been invited to perform next week at the music awards night, one of the performers is sick and unable to so they asked us to fill the spot. It will be just two songs, so get to work deciding on which ones you want to perform and Ryan, we’re going to need to see some dancing from you. Get the guys involved too. I want full rehearsals happening by the end of the day. And uh, if you want to bring Beth, I’m sure that’d make for a drama filled night.” Chris winks at Blake who just shakes his head in disgust. “I’ll go find Jasper.” Blake suggests but as soon as the manager is out of the room, the door opens again and Jasper walks in. “What’d I miss?” Jasper asks, faking his usual confidence, deciding to act like nothing had happened. “We’re performing at the music awards next week.” Blake announces. “What? Wasn’t the performers for that booked out before we debuted?” Jasper frowns. “Yeah but one has dropped out and we’ve been asked to fill their place. We’ve got to do two songs and Ryan is going to be making us dance.” Blake walks up to Jasper and puts his arms out for a hug. “Sorry I’ve been a jerk.” He says quietly. “I don’t blame you, but thanks.” Jasper answers, giving Blake an awkward hug, he wasn’t sure how to be now, if he came forward about what the reason behind his relationship not working out was, he was afraid they would be different around him, and that the occasional hug wouldn’t happen out of discomfort. He couldn’t help imagining how different things would be if everyone knew he’d kissed Ryan, and that all he wanted was to get the chance to do it again, to explore how it would feel a second time around. Without the chance to go off and spend time alone together because of this last minute show preparation, Jasper was searching for a chance to have a quiet conversation with Ryan without bringing too much attention to them. When the guys are ordering lunch, he moves over to Ryan asks how he is. “I’m alright. Are you ok?” Ryan asks, looking Jasper up and down. “I’m really sorry about the position I put you in last night.” Jasper says quietly. “Are you coming home tonight?” He asks. Ryan just shakes his head. “It’s better if I have space from the situation.” Ryan answers. “Sorry.” He sighs. “I wish I was able to read your mind.” Jasper sighs. “Hah, no you don’t. I have severe anxiety. Reading my mind would be like walking into a room full of people and having to listen to all their different conversations all at once.” Ryan tells Jasper who just looks at him stunned. “That sounds awful.” Jasper comments. “It legitimately is, as an introvert, it can be exhausting having to listen to all the thoughts flooding my head sometimes, that’s why I need space at the moment, I need to sort out my own head before I complicate it with anything else. I really just can’t hear anything from anyone right now.” Ryan admits. “How do you live like that?” Jasper couldn’t imagine, there was very few times in his life where he’d felt anxious and even then he could only remember feeling completely frozen and forgetful, not overwhelmed with exhausting thoughts. “With extreme difficulty.” Ryan shrugs, giving a fake smile. “Is that constant or just when your stressed?” “It’s constant, but when I’m stressed it’s like they are shouting. If you ever wonder why I talk so much when I’m stressed it’s because otherwise the thoughts keep getting louder. That’s why I passed out after the first conference. Anxiety is awful, be grateful you can’t relate.” Ryan tells him, looking over at the other members when they call out asking him and Jasper to come and choose what they wanted for lunch. “Wow, fuck that. I am definitely grateful not to have that. I do need to talk to you sometime though, about the other night. When you can, don’t stress about it though, maybe after the show.” He suggests. “Maybe.” Ryan answers. “Right now I need to focus on coming up with dance moves for the show this weekend. I need to focus on that. I will be able to do that better at home than with all you guys.” “Are you just trying to avoid me?” Jasper asks nervously. “I don’t know.” Ryan admits with a sigh and a shrug. “I know you probably need someone to talk to, but I don’t think that can be me right now. I wanted it to be, but I don’t think that’s a good idea anymore. I’m sorry.” He walks away, leaving Jasper feeling completely isolated again. He couldn’t think of anyone else in his life that he could talk to about this, and if Ryan didn’t want to talk to him he had no idea how to move past it all.
  9. Jasper must have snuck in late at night when everyone else was asleep, because everyone seemed surprised to see him when he walked out of his room the next morning. He and Ryan didn’t speak to each other all morning while they got ready for their appearance on a game show, Jasper was actively avoiding being too close to him. When they finally get into the car to travel over. Simon driving, Ryan in the passenger seat, Luke and Blake sitting in the back beside the doors and Jasper nominated to sit in the middle since he was smaller than the other two. While in the back he found it hard to avoid looking at Ryan, they hadn’t spoken since the kiss and he was honestly desperate to get some kind of clarity on whether or not Ryan hated him or was disgusted by him, or what exactly he was feeling about their friendship now. Most of the show went fine, they mostly played around doing some stupid games. Ryan and Jasper were able to interact without being awkward most of the time. Right up until they played a game of Truth or Punishment. “So you can either pick a truth or a punishment. We will ask you a question and if you don’t want to answer it, you spin the punishment wheel.” The host tells them with a devious smirk as he pulls the table cloth off the wheel before them, each ‘punishment’ option covered by a different coloured paper so they didn’t know what they were picking. “Jasper, who was your last kiss?” The man asks. Jasper licks his lips and looks at the wheel in front of him. “Spin the wheel.” He says quickly, pointing at the punishment he wanted to have to do in order to avoid answering. “Really? You’ve got a girlfriend, I think we all know who your last kiss was.” Blake teases, Jasper licks his lips again, staring at the board. The unsettling silence broken a few moments later. “So you want me to read the punishment card?” The host asks, realizing this had struck a chord with the members and everyone was now uncomfortable. Jasper just nods, not daring to look at anyone, they were all trying not to have judgmental looks on their faces, aside from Ryan who was completely deadpan, not wanting to fake a reaction in case that made him look suspicious. “I cannot believe you cheated on Beth, when did this happen? Recently?” Blake scolds Jasper who had been quiet since their segment on the show had finished. “Have you told her?” He asks. “I tried to call her this morning but she didn’t answer, I will tell her as soon as we get home.” Jasper runs his fingers through his hair, he was filled with shame, especially being confronted by Blake about it. “Have you been cheating for a while? Is that why you’ve been avoiding her?” “No, no it wasn’t intentional at all. I have been avoiding her though, because I haven’t been into the relationship in a long time. She knows that, I have been leading her on and I need to let her go. She deserves better than me. Someone like you.” Jasper tells him. Blake just shakes his head. “Don’t make this about me.” “I mean it Blake. I’m breaking things off with her, you should get your chance.” Jasper urges. “What about her? How much is this going to hurt Beth? You cheated on her. She will be heartbroken.” Blake lectures him. “I know I hurt her Blake! I didn’t mean to kiss someone else, it happened in a very intense moment and I realized I’m not in love with her, even though I tried. But it will be better this way, for both of us, and for you.” Jasper was trying to look at this positively but the glare Blake was giving him stopped him from speaking any more about it, for once he was actually grateful that the manager walked into the room. “Great job guys, Jasper, what’s going on with you and Beth, are you guys ok?” He asks with an ingenuine half smile. “None of your business.” Jasper shrugs and looks away, he was so ashamed that everyone knew he’d kissed someone that wasn’t his girlfriend, he’d never wanted to be seen as that type of person, he had never been that type of person before and yet all he could think about was how It'd felt to kiss Ryan. Guilt for cheating, confusion over who it was with. It wasn’t the first time he’d questioned himself, just the first time he’d had a definite answer to the question. “I just wanted to let you guys know we’re going to start filming for the new music video in just over a week. We’ll be doing Simon’s song, ‘The World Is Ours’, the setting will be on a yacht and Fiona will be in tomorrow to talk to you about the plans for your comeback style. You’ll be wearing suits, Ryan, we’ve got some dancers lined up, there’ll be a scene focusing on you and the dancers before the last chorus. We’ll be recording the song tomorrow, once it’s done you’ll be able to see where the dancing part fits in and can work the moves to the music.” The manager informs them then turns back to Jasper. “If you need to talk, you’re welcome to come and see me. It’s unlike you to be so quiet.” He says with a small laugh, but Jasper just shakes his head. “Thanks Christopher.” Simon speaks up for the silent group. Christopher nods and heads out shouting to get a good rest, big week ahead. “I am as surprised as he is that you didn’t say anything Jasper. Surely you’ve got an opinion?” Simon asks him, trying to lighten the mood in the room. “We’re too young to be acting like Sugar Daddies, lets leave the suits on a yacht look to Pitbull. Plus it’ll be a million degrees on a boat in the middle of the day. We’re all going to pass out from heat exhaustion. There better be alcohol on the yacht at least.” Jasper comments and both Simon and Luke give a laugh at his remark. Ryan still uncomfortably silent, and Blake making an effort to remain annoyed with Jasper. “What are you going to do with Beth?” Blake asks, keeping Jasper accountable for his mistake. Jasper pulls out his phone, 3 missed calls from Beth and multiple texts. She’d obviously watched the show as it was live to TV. He was dreading this conversation but he lifts his phone to his ear and listens to the call tone, waiting for her to answer but she lets it go to voicemail. “Beth, I’m so sorry, please talk to me. We should do this in person. I never meant to hurt you.” He says before hanging up the phone and sinking into the chair behind him, breaking down into tears. The guys all look at him surprised but it’s not long before Blake scoffs at the tears and walks out of the room, disgusted by his friend’s actions. Ryan just stands back awkwardly, he felt guilty too now that Jasper was crying. “What’s your plan Jas, do you need us to do anything?” Luke puts a hand on Jasper’s shoulder, speaking gently to him. “No.” Jasper sniffles back tears and wipes the dampness from his cheeks. “I didn’t love her, but I never wanted to hurt her like this. I just don’t know how to do this.” He starts crying again. “She deserves the truth, it might hurt her now, but it always comes out sooner or later. Be honest with her about how you feel.” Luke advises, Jasper nods, wiping his eyes again and looking over towards Ryan then stands up and takes a big breath. “Can we go? I wanna get out of here.” He states, grabbing his bag and looking at Simon. He was ready for the hell awkward car trip back to their apartment, he just didn’t know who would be worst to sit beside, his pissed off friend, or the guy he’d kissed. Once they were home Jasper was getting a taste of his own medicine, having his calls and texts to Beth ignored for once after months of doing it to her. The wait to confront it was making Jasper feel sick, and while he sat in his bedroom trying to get through to her, none of his friends came to check on him. He receives a text from Beth finally, saying she was at the door. Jasper jumps up from his bed, his head throbbing, his heart pounding and the sick feeling rising inside him again as he opens his bedroom door and starts walking with shaking legs towards the front door, taking no notice of the fact that his friends were all in the lounge area watching him. He opens the door. “Beth, hi.” Jasper says nervously. His gilfriend didn’t look upset, she just looked really mad. “Where’s Ryan?” Beth asks as she storms into the apartment, past Jasper and looks at Luke, Simon and Blake who were all staring until she looked at them. “Uh, in his room, I guess?” Jasper answers, shifting a little, nervous no doubt, about why Beth was asking about Ryan, he closes the front door and walks over towards Beth. “Can we talk in private?” He asks. “I’d like to meet him properly.” Beth states with a shrug, ignoring Jasper’s request. “Is that why you came over here?” Jasper frowns at her, really confused about what was going on. “No, Jasper, I came here to break up with you. I know you’ve been cheating on me, and I want to own up to something too. How close are you with Ryan? Good friends?” Beth asks, an undertone making Jasper increasingly anxious for her interest, he glances at the equally confused looks from his band mates. “We’re not that close. You’re here to break up with me, don’t tell me you want to introduce me to my friends before I do that because if you want anyone, Ryan’s not the one for you. However...” “Not for me? Are you sure?” Beth interrupts him. Jasper licks his lips and tilts his head to one side. “Fine.” Jasper shrugs. “Ryan~” He calls out, moments later the door to Ryan’s room opens and down the hallway walks the handsome guy, pulling a loose singlet on. Jasper doesn’t look at him, just looks at the floor, his arms crossed. He had a feeling he knew where this was going. “Hi.” Beth smiles at Ryan, Jasper looks from her over to Ryan who walks past her before looking at her face and stopping dead in his tracks. “Ryan, this is Beth, the girl I’ve been dating. Beth, this is our newbie Ryan.” Jasper introduces them but the silence between them and the uncomfortable look on Ryan’s face was telling that they had met before. “Beth are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Jasper looks at the smirk on her face. “I had no idea this was your girlfriend.” Ryan says quickly, gulping and biting his lip. “See I knew you were cheating on me so I don’t really feel bad about this, Ryan and I met each other the other week and...” “No, do not tell me what I think you’re about to say.” Jasper fake gags and looks between them. “You two hooked up?” Jasper asks Ryan who looked guiltily at the floor. “We kissed. I really didn’t know she was your girlfriend.” Ryan tells Jasper with an apologetic look on his face. “You fucking kissed her?” Blake suddenly gets in Ryan’s face, throwing a punch without hesitation and knocking his friend back. Ryan puts his hands up, shouting apologies, to the angry man that’d attacked him. Luke and Simon take the moment to intervene, dragging Blake from the apartment to cool off. “So you just kissed?” Jasper asks, glancing behind him at Ryan who’s lip was bleeding. Ryan nods, wiping the blood from his lip. “He’s a great kisser.” Beth says teasingly. Jasper just smiles and lets out a deep breath. “Yeah. He is.” He replies, Beth looks at him with a frown for a few moments before finally opening her mouth to reply. “For the record Beth, I wasn’t cheating on you. I was a shitty boyfriend, I was distant, I avoided having to see you and having to talk to you and I wasn’t interested in you. I should have been honest and ended things a lot earlier but the truth is I thought I would develop those feelings, it never actually crossed my mind that what I was doing was stringing you along. Ryan actually pointed it out to me last night and I was going to end it with you, I was planning on visiting you this afternoon to talk to you about us.” Jasper starts explaining but Beth was just staring open mouthed at him. “Why did you say Ryan was a good kisser?” Beth asks. “For the same reason I said he wasn’t right for you.” Jasper shrugs. “We kissed, last night. It was a mistake, it wasn’t intentional but it made me realize why things with us never worked. It was good.” Jasper says embarrassed that this was the first time Ryan was hearing this too since they hadn’t spoken since he’d walked out, and he’d been bluntly ignoring Ryan all day. “You’re gay? The speculations are all true.” Beth mutters disappointed. “I mean, I guess that’s what people will think but truthfully I didn’t know until it happened and...” “What about you, are you gay?” Beth asks Ryan. Jasper bites his lip, still not daring to look at Ryan, but honestly he was desperate to know the answer too. “I’m demisexual.” Ryan answers. “I don’t even know what that is.” Beth replies bitterly. “I develop attraction to people through an emotional connection. You caught me off guard and in a good mood. I was actually developing an emotion connection and attraction to a fan that was talking to me through a group, I hadn’t met her, I thought she was you.” “So you don’t even find me attractive?” She scoffs, looking away and shaking her head. “I think you’re beautiful, but I don’t know anything about you.” “This is bullshit. What about when you kissed him?” Beth snaps. “We have a connection but it’s not been clear whether he likes me or hates me so I don’t even know. It wasn’t my intention to get between either of you, I’m so sorry.” Ryan replies, looking at Jasper who still couldn’t bring himself to look back at Ryan. “Sounds about right, and he’ll never make it clear. I wasted so long wondering and here we are, you don’t even like girls.” Beth sneers at Jasper who again just shrugs. “I can’t believe this. I want nothing to do with you.” She storms past the two, to leave the apartment. “Beth wait.” Jasper reaches for her as she walks past him. “What? What could you possibly tell me that makes any of this feel any different than the absolute worst insult to an ex girlfriend?” Beth demands, her anger was something Jasper had never seen before, further giving him guilt for causing her to feel this way. “Just, Blake didn’t punch Ryan because he got between you and me, he punched him because he is jealous of him. Blake likes you. He always has. He would treat you well, he would be everything you need from a guy.” Jasper tells her. Beth doesn’t reply or look at Jasper, just walks out and slams the door behind her. Jasper finally turns around and sees Ryan sucking his swollen lip. “Are you ok?” He asks. “I don’t know.” Ryan answers with a sigh, shaking his head and running his fingers through his hair. “This is too much. I’m going to stay somewhere else for a while.” He starts heading up the hallway to his room. “Ry, please...” Jasper follows him a few paces. “I’m not hanging around for you to make ‘mistakes’ with. I can’t be here with you, I won’t let myself get hurt by your confusion.” Ryan tells him, looking at him sadly before closing his bedroom door. Leaving Jasper once again feeling like he was completely alone. Blake was mad at him, Ryan was mad at him. He turns and slowly walks back to the kitchen, grabbing whatever alcohol he came across first and pouring himself a drink, he takes it back to his room and sits on his bed. His head spinning with all that had just happened. For a moment he realizes he felt completely emotionally numb, he has a sip of his drink and places the glass beside his bed. He sinks down into the sheets, wrapping himself up firmly and letting out a deep breath. This had been a truly shit day, he’d never felt so lost and sorry for himself, even when he’d left the group after his birthday. He had no idea how he would be able to face anyone ever again. He knew he had no right to ask anything of Beth now, but he takes his phone out and types her a message. ‘I’m so sorry, but please don’t tell anyone. I haven’t even worked this out for myself yet, I would really appreciate this not being brought into the media right now.’ - Jasper It takes almost half an hour before she texts back. ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m way too ashamed to tell anyone I dated a fag.’ - Beth. Reading those words it sunk in that he felt the same, here he was accepting that he had enjoyed the kiss but calling it a mistake. Coming to terms with his feelings towards Ryan while wanting to hide them and suppress them from everyone including himself. He was ashamed of how he felt, he was devastated that the kiss had felt like everything he hadn’t felt through his relationship with a girl, with someone his parents thought was right for him. Someone he was meant to want to be with and build a life with and share intimate moments with and love. He had to let that go now, it wasn’t going to happen like that, it wasn’t going to be easy. He would be criticized, he would be hearing comments like Beth’s from fans that don’t approve, strangers in the street, he would be judged on this and he couldn’t even help it. He had to either allow himself to be strong enough to face it all and hope to be able to share that battle with someone strong enough to stand by his side. The unfortunate truth was that Ryan’s anxiety and fear of judgement when it came to perfectly normal and acceptable faults, made it seem highly unlikely he’d be able to face this with Jasper. He could spend his life alone or having relationships he couldn’t celebrate or talk about to anyone else. As he finally faces the truth of what his life could be now, he realizes he’s silently crying into his pillow. The fear hits him hard as he thinks to himself ‘will it always feel like this?’
  10. “Jasper, you’re back!” Blake shouts when their missing band member walks into the room. It’d been a week since he’d walked out of the practice room having argued with the manager and embarrassed himself with Ryan. “Yeah well, I kinda had to come back, since we’re going on that stupid game show thing tomorrow.” Jasper shrugs, walking past everyone, straight to his room to put his bag down, he runs into Ryan in the hallway and they two just give each other a fake smile but say nothing. Neither of them were too sure where things stood between them and the absence had only made their discomfort with each other grow. Jasper drops his bag on his bed and comes back out into the lounge and kitchen area where everyone was hanging out. It was weird to Jasper, seeing Ryan look comfortable sitting among the group for once, and feeling left out himself, as though they really had just replaced him while he was gone. “Excellent, thanks for coming back Jasper, I think we’re due for some team building, time.” Simon calls out. “Oh at least I am old enough to drink through these torture activities now.” Jasper sighs, going to the kitchen and pouring himself some of Blake’s tequila. “Hey, help yourself Jas. Don’t bother asking first.” Blake comments sarcastically. “Sorry, would you like a drink too?” Jasper offers. “Of my own tequila? Yes. I would love one, thank you.” Blake walks over to the bench and watches Jasper pour him a drink. “More, more, more, more, more, more. Ok enough.” Blake orders smirking at the expression on Jasper’s face, seeing how much he’d poured. “You’re not seriously able to drink all that without dying?” Jasper shakes his head. “Practice makes perfect.” Blake winks and takes the glass Jasper had poured for himself, and leaving the other glass with Jasper. “Drink up my friend.” Blake taps his glass against Jasper’s. “What do you think I’ve been doing the last week alone in a hotel? I understand why people become alcoholics now.” Jasper says quietly then gives a quick laugh but Blake just frowns at him. “You could have called me.” He reminds his friend, putting his arm around Jasper’s shoulders. “I’m always here for you dude.” Blake smiles at Jasper then walks into the lounge room. “I was just thinking, there’s been a bit of drama here lately, so we should take the time to get to know each other more.” Simon explains while Jasper walks over, following Blake to where everyone else was sitting, the couch was full so he takes a few steps back and sits on the bar stool beside the bench. He places his glass on the bench. “Oh great, so this is my fault.” He comments. “Does that mean I get to go first? Since I’ve made a lot of shitty decisions lately, tell me, what is the worst decision you have ever made?” Jasper asks, to no one in particular, but due to the tension between them, Ryan decides to answer the question. “Ok.” Ryan sits up a little and looks down at his hands. “So. Before I joined this group, I was actually a topless waiter, often invited to hen’s parties, or significant birthdays and whatever, basically I got paid to let drunk women do body shots off me and serve them drinks and all that.” “Wicked.” Blake laughs. “That is the opposite of what I’d call a bad decision.” “Yeah well the job itself wasn’t, but it wasn’t a fulfilling job at all. I was dealing with depression, my mum actually convinced me to take my singing and dancing more seriously so I started applying to companies. I got rejected a lot, obviously. It was after about 6 months, that I started going downhill. After just over a year, I came home one day and no one else was home, I went into the kitchen and pulled out a knife. I tried to slit my throat.” Ryan states, looking up to see the members reactions to his statement, everyone looked absolutely shocked. “I guess I was scared and just didn’t do it right or maybe it just wasn’t my time because I woke up 3 days later with my mum crying by my bedside.” “Holy shit.” Liam gawks at this uncomfortable story, everyone looking at one another baffled at how to respond to this sudden openness from Ryan who’d been very private about his life before the band. “The reason your manager didn’t tell you about me, is because he called to give me a position within this band, the same night as my suicide attempt. So I had a chance after all, but I had damaged my vocal chords so I couldn’t sing properly. I brought in a doctor’s assessment saying that my vocal chords have the potential of being fully capable of reaching all the notes I was able to before I attempted to take my life. My mum must have begged him to give me this job so I don’t try and do it again, but he did end up inviting me back and that’s when he told me he had a place for me to jump in and train myself up to be a part of this group.” Ryan tells them with a fake smile on his face. “Ryan, I-I'm...” Jasper starts, his eyes welling with tears from guilt, he knew he’d made it hard for Ryan to fit in and be a part of their band. “My turn to ask a question, right? Why are you stringing along your girlfriend?” He asks. Jasper could feel the anger and the hatred from Ryan, and rather than snap back he just takes a deep breath. “Because I’m obviously an awful person.” Jasper says quietly as he lifts the glass to his lips and chugs it in one long gulp, putting the glass back down then quickly rushes out of the room. “Ryan, Jasper didn’t intend on that question getting so deep. Since he’s not here to say it, and I think this is what he was going to say, so from him through me, he is so sorry that he opened that can of worms.” Simon apologizes. “Yeah to be fair none of us know that much about you to have any inclination of what you’ve been through, I’m sorry you’ve struggled, I’m sorry it got so bad for you, but that was a bit rough to bring up like this. Honestly you could have just opened up to Jasper about that in a peaceful conversation and maybe the two of you could have actually bonded over it instead of making it into a defensive statement. Just saying.” Blake comments, defending his friend as always. “I should apologize to him, it wasn’t fair to bring up his relationship like that.” Ryan stands up. “Where would he have gone?” He asks, everyone looks at Blake assuming he knew Jasper best. “Probably upstairs on the roof.” Blake sighs. Ryan just nods and starts walking towards the front door, it was silent behind him but he could only imagine his confession would be being discussed when he left the room. He takes a deep breath and walks out, accepting that he’d be talked about and heading to the stairs that lead to the roof. He’d spent a few nights up there himself getting fresh air and a fresh perspective when he couldn’t sleep, he could understand why Jasper would have gone there now too, it was relaxing to look out over the lights of the city buildings and realize how small a part of the world you were. Ryan pushes on the heavy door and sees Jasper straight away, he was facing the other way, “Jasper, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have brought up your relationship, that wasn’t fair of me.” Ryan calls out, walking towards Jasper who turns quickly at the sound of his voice and stumbles a little. “You’re sorry? I am the one that should be sorry.” Jasper replies sadly, he shakes his head and looks down at the ground ashamed, tears filling his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry, I’ve been hard on you but I had no idea what you’ve gone through to be here. I really hope you can forgive me. I had no idea.” “Well in your defense, I can understand a little. You were just trying to protect the band and I’m not a great singer, so you’ve got every right to have found that frustrating. You have helped me a lot and I’ve never blamed you for the way you felt about me. I have judged you for your relationship and it isn’t my business, it was rude for me to retaliate like that to you. I don’t know the details any more than you knew the details about my past.” Ryan was now just steps from Jasper and could see the tears that had run down his cheeks and left glistening streaks in the moonlight. “Well, in your defense, I barely understand my relationship and if I’m honest, I don’t really care about it. Not because I’m an awful person but I just don’t have feelings for her. Back at the start I tried, I really tried, I’m hoped they would develop and I’ve given up.” Jasper states. “I am stringing her along but I just don’t know how to end things without hurting her.” “I don’t have a lot of relationship experience, but I think the longer it goes on when there aren’t any feelings involved, the more it may hurt them.” Ryan shrugs, slipping his hands into his pockets. “Well yeah, but I don’t know what to tell her.” Jasper shrugs. “I’m just not even sure why I’m not attracted to her the way Blake is. He tells me all the time how lucky I am and how attractive she is and I look at her and I mean she’s pretty, she is really sweet and I get why guys would want her but I just don’t want her.” Jasper turns away again, running his hands over his face and groaning. “What do you want?” Ryan asks, standing right behind Jasper. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I want but it’s not her.” Jasper snaps, turning around and kissing Ryan before he even thinks about what he is doing. To his surprise Ryan kisses back, his hands holding Jaspers waist, keeping him from pulling away. The moment went for too long, so much longer than they both anticipated. They separate for a moment and Jasper backs away from Ryan, shaking his head. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” Jasper apologizes, tears filling his eyes again as he turns away from Ryan. Ryan lets him turn away, not even sure himself what was happening with Jasper right now. The emotion behind the kiss was hard to distinguish, it felt desperate, it felt sad, but Jasper couldn’t help but notice he felt a sense of freedom within himself, like the scattered dots in his heart had finally connected and his lifetime of hints finally made sense to him. It was as though he had known all his life, but somehow until now, he hadn’t let himself truly know. Now he couldn’t look past it anymore. “I... I shouldn’t have come back.” Jasper sighs, walking off. “Where are you going?” Ryan calls out, Jasper doesn’t answer, just exits from the roof, slamming the door behind him. Ryan goes after him, hurrying to catch up with Jasper. He gets to him on the steps, grabbing his arm before he can get further away. “Ryan I shouldn’t have.” Jasper starts. “Jasper listen. If you’re scared, that’s ok, if you’re confused, fine. You have a girlfriend, it’s complicated. Just know that whenever you are ready, I’m here.” Ryan tells him. Jasper pulls away and wipes the tears that were running down his cheeks. “I’ve been a jerk to you. Why would you want me to drag you into this?” “Because I’ve been waiting for you to.” Ryan smiles at Jasper. Jasper just stares at him for a moment, tears filling his eyes. “Just forget it, please.” Jasper storms off, not going into the dorms, but heading out of the building all together. Ryan sighs, walking after him for a few steps before deciding Jasper might just need space. He takes out his phone and sends him a text, making sure he knew that Ryan was there if he needed him, the last thing Jasper needed, was to feel alone while he was dealing with the confusion between his heart and his head.
  11. At the club, the group get straight to the bar, Jasper was keen for another tequila shot after having being disappointed by the beer but loving the shot Blake had insisted on before they left. Since he hadn’t gotten a birthday present for Jasper, Ryan insists on paying for the shots. “Happy birthday Jasper.” Ryan smiles at him, glad to see the enjoyment on the birthday boy’s face. “Wanna know an interesting fact?” Jasper asks, but before Ryan answers him he continues talking. “It’s not actually my birthday today.” He tells him. “What?” Ryan asks confused. Jasper just takes out his ID card and passes it to him. “February 29th.” Jasper shrugs. “I only have a birthday on my actual birthday every 4 years. Technically I’ve only passed my birth date five times and the next proper one will be when I turn 24.” Jasper smiles at Ryan. “Your turn for an interesting fact.” “I don’t have one that good.” Ryan takes a moment to think. “Although.” He shrugs. “I was born 9 months to the date, from when my parents met each other.” Ryan watches as Jasper squints at him, trying to work out what was interesting about that before his mouth drops open in an exaggerated gasp. “No WAY! When’s your birthday?” Jasper asks, an excited grin on his face as he listens to Ryan. “September 1st.” Ryan shrugs. Jasper counts on his fingers, and gives another dramatic gasp. “So your parents met and made you on New Years?” Jasper laughs. “Yep. They met at a New Years party, and were each other’s New Years kiss. Took me until about 17 years old to be like ‘hold on’ they were more than just New Years kisses.” Ryan and Jasper both laugh about it then Jasper looks over at his friends on the dance floor. “I’m going to go and dance. Are you going to join us? Shred up the dance floor with your professional dancer moves?” Jasper asks excitedly, placing his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “Maybe later, I might head outside for bit, I’m not really a fan of crowded areas.” “Don’t be out too long, I was hoping for a dance at some point.” Jasper tells him then finishes his drink. “Why is alcohol so good?” Jasper laughs to himself. “Anyway, you’re an interesting person. Thanks for the drink and the chat.” Jasper hugs him tight. “And thanks for coming out with me, I hope you have a good night too though, doing whatever is comfortable to you.” He shrugs then heads onto the dance floor. Ryan watches the guys dance for a few minutes then gets up and heads out towards the front door. The air outside the club was smokey and still filled with excited noise from those waiting in the line to go inside. “Ryan?” A woman sitting on the bench near the club, not dressed for a night out, calls his name. Ryan looks over and walks towards her. “Hey Ryan, you disappeared early last night, you should have seen how trashed Jasper was, I don’t think we’ll be doing much training today he is so hungover.” Blake grins as they all walk in the room, Jasper holding his head. “Tequila is evil.” He mutters as he walks in behind the rest of the group. Groaning as he pulls out a chair and flops into it. “I am never drinking again.” He claims. “You’re smart. You don’t drink much and you went home early and that’s smart. Although, you owe me a dance.” He points at Ryan who seemed really anxious. “Actually, I’m not so sure I was that smart last night.” Ryan sighs. “I did something after I left the club.” “What, while you were drunk?” Luke asks. “Doing shots was my bad decision last night.” “I wasn’t drunk, but when I left the club and met someone.” He starts. “I kissed a fan.” Ryan admits to the members who all look at him genuinely surprised. “What?” They ask collectively. “Was this in public?” Simon asks, taking out his phone and checking to see if anything was written about it on any fan forums. “It was outside the club.” Ryan nods. “She’s been talking to me through a fan group and said she was at the party last night. I didn’t expect to actually find her but I did and we kissed.” He shrugs. “You’ve been talking to a fan through a fan group? Ryan, I know this whole band thing is a new thing to you, but seriously, you must have known that wasn’t a smart idea. Our fans are great, some of them though, are a little weird and get a bit, stalker-ish., talking to fans beyond a ‘thanks for your support’ kind of reply is never a good idea.” Blake tells him, shaking his head and looking at Jasper who was just frowning at Ryan. “How many fans are you talking to?” Jasper asks calmly, standing up from the chair and walking over towards Ryan. “One. She’s been messaging since the show the other day.” Ryan looks at his feet, feeling the shame and the pressure from the group, disappointed with himself for doing something wrong. “That’s not the girl you kissed last night.” Jasper sighs, pulling his phone from his pocket and unlocking it. “I think it was, because she hasn’t spoken to me since we went out last night. I got one message just after midnight telling me she wished I hadn’t run off. But the thing was I didn’t run off on her, she ran off on me. She seemed to freak out about it, apologized and asked me not to talk about it.” Ryan frowns at his phone, looking blindly at the messages he’d received and sent. “Well that’s probably good, you shouldn’t get involved with fans, it’s never a good idea.” Simon lectures. “Ryan, this is the girl you’ve been talking to right?” Jasper steps forward and shows him his phone. Ryan looks at it confused, looking from Jasper to the phone and back again, their conversations on his screen. “How did you... You?” Ryan starts. “I don’t doubt you kissed someone, but it can’t have been her.” Jasper shakes his head, looking remorsefully at Ryan. “You’ve been catfishing me?” Ryan asks shocked, the rest of the group looks at Jasper equally confused. Blake snatches Jasper’s phone to read the messages but Jasper snatches it back quickly and smacks away Blake’s hand as he reaches for it again. He locks his phone quickly and puts it back in his pocket. “Mind your own business.” Jasper sneers at Blake, then turns his attention back to Ryan who had a look of disgust on his face. “I just wanted to get your confidence up. I’m sorry Ryan, it wasn’t malicious.” I didn’t expect you to keep talking to me and it would have upset you if a fan stopped replying, I got caught up and I should have stopped, I’m really sorry.” “You started the fangroup?” Ryan shakes his head, hurt and confused by his friends’ actions. “The people in the fangroup are legit your fans though, I started the group and everyone that joined is super keen on you.” Jasper tells him. “All the comments are from your real fans, they really do love you.” “That’s fucked.” “I’m sorry. But it did get your confidence up so...” “You manipulated me, you are tricking me into thinking I am actually liked.” Ryan runs his hands through his hair. “I actually started to think you were my friend. That I could fit in and be a part of this band. What you did was sick. I don’t want to be here anymore.” Ryan turns and storms out of the practice room, leaving a tense air around the other members.` “Good job Jasper, that really helped the situation.” Simon scoffs. “Well obviously someone likes him for real, because he kissed a real person.” Jasper offers but the glares from the other members shuts him down fast. “I really was just trying to help him.” “What kind of messages were you sending him?” Blake asks. “Just nice stuff telling him how good a dancer he was, how attractive he was, how much I couldn’t wait to hear him sing again. The kind of stuff he needs to hear from people. The kind of stuff we hear from our fans.” Jasper shrugs. “And?” “And none of your business Blake, seriously.” Jasper gets up and walks out quickly before he could be asked anything else. The manager stops him at the door. “Ahh just the person I was here to get. Ryan’s upset and I’m starting to see a pattern with that correlating with you somehow so what did you say this time?” The manager asks. “He told you that?” Jasper asks, crossing his arms across his chest. “You’re stirring up problems for this band.” The manager answers him with a sigh. “Me? I’m sorry this band was fine, we had no dramas until you decided to drop a new guy at the door and tell us we had to take him on. Why did you add Ryan to the band? Honestly. He isn’t ready to be a singer, he’s not confident enough to be performing and he is struggling to grasp the concept of public opinions. He doesn’t suit us at all. We’re all carrying him until he is ready, you shouldn’t have thrown him in like this. Sure employ him as a trainee and place him in a band when he is ready but don’t throw him in the deep end and expect him to swim, he is barely floating and we’re all barely floating now that we have to keep his head above water too. What was the plan?” Jasper snaps at him. “Jasper maybe you need to have a break from the band. Give him a fair chance without you around.” “Are you kidding me? No, fine. I do need a break. Thanks. Bye.” Jasper walks out, ignoring everyone that was calling out to him as he left. Jasper gets home, walking in right as Ryan is walking out with a packed bag. “You’re not leaving are you?” Jasper asks sadly, looking at the bag in Ryan’s hand. “I’m really sorry.” “Sorry doesn’t cut it Jasper, I have a really hard time opening up and getting close to people ok, a really hard time. You hid behind a false account and talked to me and that was deceitful. I am trying to fit in here and have struggled to make any kind of connection to you especially because to my face, you make it seem like I’m just not good enough, yet those messages you sent me as someone else, were what I would have liked to hear for real.” Ryan snaps, walking back towards Jasper, so passionately angry about the situation. “But if I’d said any of that as me, it wouldn’t have meant the same thing. I was honestly just trying to give you a confidence boost. I wasn’t trying to be deceitful.” Jasper speaks quietly, he felt awful for making Ryan feel so betrayed. “You know what, coming from you it would have meant more to me. Because I’m actively trying to seek your approval. You can keep telling yourself you had innocent intentions but Jasper, that was wrong, surely you knew it was wrong to do, or do you catfish all your friends?” Ryan asks, crossing his arms. “I don’t catfish people.” Jasper argues. “Honestly, why do you have a woman’s account anyway? If you don’t have it to catfish people?” Ryan asks. “Look, I use it to be involved in fangroups and to talk to fans without them knowing who I really am. It’s really just an easy way of being a part of the fandom without causing dramas.” Jasper shrugs. Taking his phone out and unlocking it, pressing a few buttons then passing it to Ryan. “See, you’re the only person I’ve messaged, you can go through all the pages I’m in, it’s all just fan groups and whatnot.” “I don’t want to go through your phone.” Ryan shakes his head, looking away from the phone. “Look, you shouldn’t be leaving alright. The manager has asked me to take a break so I’m going away, you should stay here, it’s more important that you stay, the manager was right, you deserve a chance here without me.” Jasper turns and starts walking towards his room to pack. “Jasper.” Ryan calls out, Jasper stops and turns to look back at him. “All the nice stuff you said, as her. Did you mean it or was it just part of the game?” Ryan asks. “About your talent and my belief in you? All true. The fangirling ‘I’m in love with you’ stuff was an act, and I’m sorry if that lead you on, and you kissed someone you thought was genuine. I didn’t intend on it being like that. You deserve better than that.” “That last message, saying you wish I hadn’t run off.” Ryan sighs, looking at his phone one more time, hovering over the option to delete or block the conversation. “From my party. I really enjoyed talking to you and getting to know you, as me. I was starting to get to know you properly and I wish we could have talked more but I was too caught up with the party and drinking. I went outside to get some fresh air shortly before we called it a night, I really hoped I would see you outside.” Jasper admits, feeling too vulnerable to look at Ryan. Ryan sighs and shakes his head. “I guess I should head back to the studio. Let you pack in peace.” Ryan turns and walks out of the apartment, shutting the door gently behind him. Jasper stands for a moment staring at the door, the gravity of all he’d done settling in, along with the throbbing of his hangover. He felt thankful to be home alone as he started feeling like he was about to throw up. Seeing him be the complete baby he was when he was sick, was the last thing he needed Ryan to see right now. Ryan lies in bed, his thoughts racing as he looks at the screen, re-reading the messages he’d been sending to Jasper’s fake account. He hovers over the keypad and types an angry message, deletes it and starts typing a new one, this time just frustrated and filled with emotions. He deletes that one and just gets out of the messages altogether. He sighs and sets his phone down annoyed. Wishing he knew how to handle this situation, he wanted to talk to Jasper, because something about the whole thing wasn’t sitting right with him. Jasper’s messages, the ‘fangirl’ style affectionate adoration for him, seemed different to the ones he’d read on his fan page. Since Jasper knew him and had been working so closely with him, sharing an apartment and everything, it just seemed like Jasper knew him too personally to say those kinds of things without any meaning behind them. Suddenly his phone lights up with a message notification. Ryan looks at it surprised, it was from Jasper on the girls’ account, at first Ryan felt like Jasper had some nerve messaging him, but he was frankly grateful to have not been the first one to send a message. ‘I just wanted to tell you how sincerely sorry I am and realized I don’t have your number. I understand if you hate me, you deserve the best and you’re really doing an awesome job. I hope you enjoy the time with the guys and I won’t bother you anymore. - Jasper’
  12. “Good morning.” Ryan smiles at Jasper as he walks in the door to the practice room. Jasper looks at him curiously. “Morning, what’s got you so happy?” Jasper asks, dumping his bag down and approaching his bandmate. “That fan page has over 3 thousand fans on it now. Look!” Ryan shows Jasper his phone excitedly, numerous photos and posts about him filled the page. “Uh, you’ve got horny fangirls. No wonder you seem pleased with yourself.” Jasper smiles, whirling around and pulling out some pieces of paper. “Hey, I wanted to say thank you, by the way. For yesterday. Trying to talk the manager out of making me sing, then covering for me and taking the attention off me in the interview, and then for standing up to the manager after it all too. I really appreciate it.” Ryan tells him, pocketing his phone and taking the papers that Jasper was holding out to him. “You’re welcome.” Jasper answers and after a moment of silence he gives a sigh. “Look, you’re still new and you probably feel grateful for him giving you this opportunity, don’t let him mistreat you he’s a manipulative and selfish jerk. If you’re too shy to stand up for yourself, he’ll walk all over and exploit you. You also don’t owe it to him, to be walked all over just because he took a chance on you.” Jasper was in a lecturing mood, fired up over the discussion. Ryan didn’t know what to say back, especially since Jasper seemed to know every obligatory feeling he’d been having towards his manager. “I kinda do owe him, I mean I’m nowhere near ready to be the singer he hired me to be, but he still went ahead and did it.” Ryan sighs, looking down at the papers in his hands. “Yeah well, lets hurry up and get your vocals up to scratch so that you stop feeling like you’re not good enough. Besides, 3 thousand fangirls talking about how amazing you were yesterday, even though you weren’t at your best. You’ve made your debut as a member, you’ve got fans and the only people you owe now, are those fans. You owe it to them to be as good as they expect you to be. He’s making money off you either way, the fans are dedicating time to google image searching you and writing fantasies about you.” Jasper winks at Ryan then clears his throat. “Have you done any vocal warm ups? I want to go through this song with you.” He brings the attention back to the lyrics they were both holding. “Oh are we singing properly today, not just practicing vocal exercises?” Ryan asks surprised to see a lyric sheet. “If we can practice an actual song, I can work out whether getting you to sing at a quieter tone will sound decent enough to be recorded. Since I said it was only a cold, fans are going to want to hear you sing soon and we’re prepping for our next album so we’ve got to have you singing on that at least a little bit.” Jasper tells him then clears his throat and straightens his posture, taking a deep breath and singing the first line, tapping his leg to keep the tempo. He looks at Ryan and nods, suggesting Ryan copy him. Ryan sings it a little gentler than Jasper and it sounded a little sexy being in a lower range. They experiment the whole song through in this echo fashion, then Jasper suggests they try it at the same time, singing in their different tones. This time they find that the difference between their voices makes for a smooth and gentle sound perfectly suited for the sweet song about love they were singing. When they finish Jasper just smiles at Ryan. “This is a beautiful song.” Ryan comments, impressed with how they had sounded together. “Thank you. I had imagined it to be more of a duet with Simon, I wrote it before you joined, but I’m thinking if you’re in it too, it’ll make for nice layering and also give the fans something to get excited about. Enough of your voice to tell you’re singing, not enough that they question your abilities.” “Oh really? I don’t want to ruin your duet though.” Ryan says quickly. “Why do you assume you would be ruining it?” Jasper frowns at him. “You’re going to have to start believing in yourself, if you want other people to believe in you.” “I know, I’m just not use to all this.” Ryan nods, looking at the ground again, Jasper could see his self-esteem was low, but didn’t have any idea how to help, since he’d never had this problem himself. “Well, fake it until you make it. This is your life now, it’s not going to be easier if you think you’re not worthy or good enough.” Jasper comments, running his fingers through his hair and taking his phone out. “You’re very lucky.” Ryan smiles politely at Jasper before taking his phone out as he hears it go off. “I wish I had your confidence.” “I can train your voice, I can’t train your thoughts, just gotta fake it until you make it. Anyway I need to pee so I’ll be back.” Jasper turns around and walks out of the room, a pep in his step. Ryan looks down at his phone, seeing a message sent to him by the person who’d started the fangroup, telling him she thought he was amazing. With a smile on his face, Ryan opens the message and hesitates on replying for a few moments while he considers whether he should be replying to fan messages at all. He decides to take the chance and send a message back, just a simple thank you, then he slips his phone into his pocket and holds the lyrics up again, practicing to himself while he waits for Jasper to come back. “Jasper!” Blake pops his head in the door and looks around. “Uh, he’s in the toilet.” Ryan tells him. “Oh, well come back into the other room, he can meet us there.” Blake shrugs, holding the door open for Ryan. “Right now? OK.” Ryan grabs his bag and water bottle and heads towards the door. “Jasper, my love, I’m stealing your poor student.” Blake calls out to his friend. “Rude.” Jasper scoffs and promptly runs right into Ryan who was exiting the room as Jasper was returning to it. “Woah.” Jasper steps back. “Sorry!” Ryan apologizes quickly. “Come on.” Blake links arms with Jasper and lets the door swing closed once Ryan is clear from the doorway. The three walk to the next room over where Luke and Simon were already digging into some Chinese food. “Oh no way you started without me!” Jasper ditches Blake and runs to the food. “Hey, how did practice go?” Simon smiles at Ryan. “Good! Ryan’s voice actually blends in nicely with mine and if he sings quietly, he sounds hot.” Jasper answers then looks over at Ryan who seemed a little embarrassed. “I just don’t know how to make him more confident.” “You’re old enough to drink aren’t you?” Blake places an arm over Ryan’s shoulders. “Yeah, I’m not big on alcohol though.” Ryan answers. “Well then, tomorrow night when we go clubbing, I expect you to get a little tipsy at least and show your dance moves on the floor for us. A good night out is just what we need.” Blake announces enthusiastically, walking with Ryan over to the picnic happening in the middle of the room. “It’s Jasper’s birthday tomorrow, the kid is finally old enough to drink like the rest of us.” “You’re only 8 months older than me Blake, come on.” Jasper rolls his eyes. “Yes and it’s been an amazing alcohol involved 8 months, I just can’t wait to see you a mess on the dancefloor.” Blake smirks, sitting beside him. “How old are you Ry?” Jasper asks. “22.” Ryan answers, licking his lips and accepting the food passed his way. “Woah, I feel weird now that I am training you and you’re older than me. You’re the same age as Luke. Simon is 23, Luke’s 22. Blake and I are 21.” Jasper says then bites into and burns his mouth on a curry puff. He starts fanning his mouth while Blake laughs and teasingly moves his water out of reach. “Truthfully, I’m not keen on babysitting your drunk ass. I’m not keen on clubbing at the best of times.” Luke states and everyone looks at Ryan as his phone goes off. “Sorry.” Ryan smiles and looks at his phone. “Oooooh, is that your girlfriend?” Blake goes from teasing Jasper to picking on Ryan. “No. It’s a fan.” Ryan shrugs, putting his phone in his pocket again. “What? Messaging you?” Simon frowns. “Yeah, she just sent me a message and I thanked her. I bet you get that all the time right?” Ryan suggests, looking at their stunned expressions. “Uh, yeah honey, you should probably not reply to fans messaging you on your personal account. That’s how you end up stalked, hacked and blackmailed.” Jasper grabs his water while Blake is distracted. “I didn’t think of that, I just wanted to thank her for believing in me.” Ryan pulls his phone out again and looks at the reply. ‘You’re so sexy, I bet you’re an amazing singer, I hope you’re feeling better!’ “We reply to fan mail sent to our post box, that keeps us safe from crazy fans. Unless you want them tracking your phone and setting up cameras in the shower, which, by the way, is the same shower we use so please don’t get us all stalked.” Blake offers some advice while grabbing food for himself. “Should I block her?” “No way, that’d make you look rude. Just make your personal accounts private and make a fan friendly account and only interact with fans through public posts and stuff.” Luke instructs. “Fans don’t expect a reply, so she’s probably either naively trusting you’re who she thinks you are, or, she probably thinks you’re a fake anyway. You’re practically catfishing her, don’t stress about it, maybe a little anonymous flirting will make you feel more confident. Just don’t confirm who you are and keep smiling like that.” Jasper winks at him. “Now eat, before I start on your food because I’m a slut for Chinese food and yours is enticing me, why don’t you put your phone down and have something to eat.” “Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” Jasper walks into their apartment with a pack of beers. “What, did you drink in the car?” Luke jokes at the over excited entrance. “No.” Blake answers for him. “But take him to the bottle shop and it’s seriously like setting a kid free in a candy store. The lady asked him for ID and he just whips it out and hands it over with this smirk on his face all like ‘It’s my birthday, today!’.” Blake overplays a re-enactment while their friends watched and laughed at Jasper’s expense. Jasper, clearly impossible to embarrass just walks past and puts his beers in the freezer. “Ever tried beer before?” Simon asks, leaning against the bench with a grin on his face. “No, but everyone drinks it so it can’t be too bad.” Jasper looked so pleased with himself that Simon doesn’t want to suggest otherwise, despite being certain that Jasper wouldn’t be so glad with his choice after the first sip. “Yeah, no I got the good stuff.” Blake places a bottle of tequila on the bench. “We’re all doing a shot before we go out. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.” He winks at Jasper who looks at the bottle disgusted. “Trust me, you’ll like it.” “How? It has worms in it.” Jasper screws his nose up in disgust. “Lets get one thing straight, entitled little birthday boy, I didn’t buy it for you. The worm is my treat for having to deal with your lightweight drunken ass all night.” Blake teases, putting his arm around Jasper’s shoulders and messing up his hair. “Oh how dare you buy something for your own enjoyment on my birthday, you’re soooo uninvited to the party.” Jasper pushes Blake away playfully and tidies his hair while he makes his way down the hallway to get ready for the night ahead. “Ok, so who wants to put bets on what kind of drunk he’s going to be? I’m going to say the emotional type because he’s generally void of any good emotions so surely when he is drunk it will kick up a notch.” Blake smirks at his friends who were all laughing about his comment. “That makes so much sense, I can’t imagine anything more fitting. We may actually see past the attitude tonight.” Simon smiles. "It's about time, really." “What do you think Ryan?” Luke asks. “Oh, I think probably overly social.” Ryan shrugs. “You know, the kind that only stops talking to drink, and then spills all of his drink dancing. Extra points if we have to talking him out of hitting someone that he bumps into.” “Also a very good guess, I could see him bumping someone and getting mad at them about it.” Blake laughs. “Anyone think he has an actual attitude problem?” Simon asks quietly. “It’s his birthday, lets not psychoanalyze him.” Blake rolls his eyes and reaches across the bench to turn on the speakers. He plugs his phone in and plays around to find a playlist suitable for the party, settling for Latest Hits. “Alright stop talking about me now.” Jasper shouts from the bathroom door, walking out of the bathroom dressed in black skin tight jeans and a button up white shirt, drying his hair with his towel. “Right, well I’m going for shower now.” Simon declares, pulling his shirt off on his way to the bathroom. “Do you go out much?” Luke asks Ryan. “No.” Ryan shrugs, then struggles to come up with a good reason for his answer. “I don’t really either.” Luke tells him quickly, noticing Ryan was a little uncomfortable. “You don’t have to stay out all night if it’s not your thing, Jasper will probably be too drunk to notice anyway.” Luke winks at him. “Yeah, I remember the first time I drank, pretty sure I was ready to go to bed by the 6th drink. I’ll be fine tonight, it’s easier when you have good company.” Ryan gives a fake confident smile. “Glad you’re starting to feel that way. We’ll get some drinks into you too and It'll be a great night.” Blake interjects on their conversation. “Alcohol brings everyone together.”
  13. “Welcome to the show.” “Thanks for having us.” Simon smiles warmly at the lady hosting them then turns his attention to the people standing in the audience. “And of course, a massive thanks to all of you for coming out and supporting us!” He shouts. “Welcome Ryan.” “Thank you.” Ryan smiles and gives a cute wave to the fans that scream. “What an introduction to you, so we got a bit of time to hear you sing, sorry to hear you haven’t been well lately. That dancing though, that was amazing. Did you plan that or improvise?” “Oh I kinda panicked because my voice was really bad so I made it up on the spot.” “What was it Jasper was whispering to you on stage?” The interviewer asks and a roar of screams came from the audience. Jasper turns and smirks at the audience. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” He says with a wink, earning him more screams. “He just told me not to strain my voice and to maybe do some dancing instead.” Ryan tells her, looking around a little confused. “Yeah guys, I did, so don’t go mixing up my words in your stories alright? It was innocent.” Jasper had his attention diverted to the audience, he loved playing with the fans heads like this, he cared very little for interviews, it was his fans he was interested in paying attention to. “What stories?” Ryan asks naiively and all the members just smile at him. “Oh, you’ve heard of fanfiction right? Because you’re famous now so people are writing about you.” Blake teases, nudging his arm with a devious smile. “There’s fanfiction about me already?” Ryan asks him with a frown. “Have you looked at you? Of course there’s fanfics about you already.” Jasper flirts, elated at the reactions he was getting from the fans behind them. “Have you read them?” Ryan looked genuinely shocked. “Well, you’ve been worked into one of the stories I’ve followed since just after we debuted. Our fans don’t waste time.” Jasper shrugs. “I didn’t read any of the others you were tagged in though. I have a few saved to read on long road trips.” “Oh, I’ll have to look when I get home.” Ryan smiles excitedly. “I should warn you, you’ll have to turn your safe search off to find some of them.” Jasper winks at him and watches shock wash over Ryan’s cheeks, his mouth falling open a little and his cheeks going slightly red. “Is it weird having fans write stories about you?” The interviewer asks. “I don’t read them.” Simon shrugs and looks beside him at Luke. “Jasper reads them to us every now and then, he finds the uh, stranger ones and reads those ones to us like some style of torture or something.” Luke answers, with a laugh. “You read them to the other guys?” The interviewer asks. “I do, when we are on a road trip and they can’t get away from me. Some of these guys are prudes. The bad ones are fun, and by bad I mean.... Well you guys know what you write, but seriously, I read so many of your stories and honestly I love that you take the time to write them, there’s a lot of talent out there and I support that. Just maybe make me a little bit less of a bitch.” Jasper suggests, with a shrug. “But they have to have some accuracy Jas, come on.” Blake comments and Jasper gives a dramatic fake gasp. “I’m not that bad.” Jasper rolls his eyes. “It’s ok, I still love you.” Blake winks at him. “Ryan what was your first opinion of these guys? How did everyone react to you?” The interviewer asks. “Oh fanfic authors are going to go wild.” Jasper sighs. Ryan smiles over at him, confidence rising in him. “I won’t tell them about how we met. Leave that to their imaginations then?” Ryan suggests. “I wouldn’t recommend leaving it up to their imaginations. I know what I’m the target of and what they will make me out to be like” Jasper answers. “Uh, well I met Simon, Luke and Blake first, the manager introduced me to them but Jasper was having a shower so he missed that introduction. Simon called him out and he thought the guys were joking about me being a new member.” “In my defense, we weren’t told that we were getting a new member. I may have come out with a line that I regret, now having to face him everyday.” Jasper admits with a laugh. “It was funny though. Not at the time, because I was super nervous and shy and wanted them to like me and it caught me so off guard.” “Well now I really want to know what you said.” The interviewer smiles, leaning forward a little to show her interest. “I won’t say exactly what it was but, I took one look at him, assumed he was a stripper and came out with a comment based on that assumption.” Jasper shrugs, looking over at Ryan who was clearly surprised that Jasper was talking about that embarrassing moment, obviously Jasper didn’t really care all that much, and seemed to be taking a lot of pleasure in the responses he was getting for his flirtatious comments and insinuations. Jasper and Blake exchange a few whispers and cheeky smiles while Simon talks about the group’s future with Ryan and whether they had begun planning the next album yet. Ryan and Luke were the only ones concentrating on what he was saying for the rest of the interview. The group wave to their fans and thank the news host for inviting them onto the show before heading off past the fans, Simon led the way through the audience and waits for the others to get through the hoard of screaming fans that had their arms out and were trying to touch them. Ryan was in the middle of the group, feeling well protected by the confidence of the members in front and behind him. “You did well. Good job.” Luke pats Ryan’s back once they are inside the news building, making their way to the dressing room out of sight from fans. “Thanks.” Ryan’s throat felt dry and he looked exhausted. “Good interview guys.” Chris claps at them as they walk into the dressing room. “We need to advertise Ryan more though, because he didn’t get a good chance today.” “Interesting word choice. He’s not a product.” Jasper comments as he walks past his manager with more attitude than usual, grabbing his bag and pulling out a fresh shirt and some cologne, he changes his top and sprays himself then pulls his phone out and looks at Twitter to see how the fans had reacted. “The fans seemed to like him.” Luke gives Ryan a comforting smile. “You heard the screams when you started dancing right? That would have boosted your confidence.” “I’ve been keeping an eye on social media and there’s not a lot of mention about him, we need to get more attention on Ryan.” Chris states, watching Jasper. “You’re looking right now aren’t you?” He asks. “Yes I am, but I think it’s good that the attention isn’t instant. I don’t think Ryan is really ready for that yet. Are you ready to be obsessed over and scrutinized over everything you do? Because once they know you exist you can’t hide in the shadows anymore, you have to be ready to be constantly on display for people.” Jasper warns him, Ryan swallows hard and wrings his hands together, giving a shrug that convinced no one. Jasper looks from him to the manager and then shrugs and looks back at his phone. “You’ve already thrown him in the deep end, lets let him learn to swim. You can advertise your newest product when he’s ready.” Jasper smirks, he loved being right, especially when he was arguing against the manager like this. “Jasper’s got a point.” Blake agrees, always quick to take his best friend’s side. “You look a bit pale Ryan, are you alright.” Simon asks, Jasper looks up from his phone again and grabs a bottle of water from the dressing table behind him, calls out ’here’ and waits for Ryan to look at him before throwing it gently in his direction. “Sit down and rest for a bit, I remember us all feeling a bit that way after our first public show.” Simon encourages him over to a chair. “Thanks.” Ryan nods and sits down, opening the water and taking a sip. The manager, turns and gives a heavy defeated sigh as he exits the room. “Idiot.” Jasper mutters after the door is closed. “The way you are going, Christopher is going to lose his patience with you soon. You need to tone it down.” Simon warns. “He wants us to ‘advertise’ Ryan, isn’t that a little showing of what he sees us as? He doesn’t care that Ryan is super stressed already about being put in the spotlight before he could do what was asked of him. He wants to show off his newest product. You can let him treat you that way if you like, but I won’t and I will call him out on it every time.” Jasper shrugs again then a smile creeps across his lips, he looks over at Ryan. “Looks like the advertising issue isn’t so urgent, someone’s made a fan page under your name. ‘Ryan Curtis Obselete’s Newest Hottie’.” Jasper reads the group name and turns his phone around to show the members who rush forward to see it. “Made 2 minutes ago, there’s already 60 people that have liked it.” “Seriously?” Ryan smiles as he looks at the page, seeing 4 more likes come up on the page as he views it. “Oh good, people like me.”
  14. The next week went by with an air of discomfort in the group, Jasper was barely talking to anyone at all outside of things that were directly relating to their music. Their manager announced that they would be doing a morning news interview and a mini show to introduce Ryan and let the fans get to know him more. Ryan was really anxious about the show, even though Jasper continually reminded him he wouldn’t be singing alone and that he would just sing quietly so his voice would blend in. They were all getting ready in the green room before their show when the manager walks in to make an announcement to the group. “So, the last song on the set list, is going to be Ryan’s to sing alone, to introduce him to the fans and show off his ability.” The manager announces with a devious smile as he watches the shock on everyone else’s face. “Uh...” Ryan starts and desperately looks to Jasper for help. “He’s not ready to perform, are you kidding me?” Jasper says bluntly, not even bothering to look at Ryan or the others, his eyes were burning with hatred towards the manager. “You take him for a quick warm up and run through.” The manager answers and starts walking away down the hallway. “A ‘quick warm up and run through’ isn’t going to do shit! He’s vocally not there. He cannot perform solo. He needs more training than what, two weeks worth?” Jasper storms after the manager with his defensive argument. “I’ve made my mind up Jasper.” The manager shouts over his shoulder. “Yeah you pulled the decision right out of your ass just like you woke up and decided to add him to the band. Don’t bother asking the other people this will effect.” “No one put you in charge Jasper, get off your high horse and do as you’re told.” “Well excuse the absolute shit out of me, but you asked me to vocally train him so I’ve been working with him to get his voice ready for less than two weeks. When was the last time you heard him sing? He isn’t ready and this will ruin us.” Jasper snaps, grabbing the manager’s shoulder. “Don’t lay a hand on me.” The manager turns to Jasper, his fist clenched and lifting to the bottom of his ribs before he stops himself going further because Blake was running to Jasper’s rescue, Jasper doesn’t back down, instead testing the manager by getting right in his face. “You work for me. You work under me. You are not responsible for making decisions about what is best for the band. I am looking at the big picture, this will be good for you all.” “And you think these stunts you’re pulling is what’s best for the band? What does it do for the band if I refuse to get on stage?” Jasper asks. “You let down a lot of your fans. Is it worth it for a temper tantrum?” The manager sneers. Blake puts his arm around Jasper and pulls him back. “He’ll be fine Jas, I’m sure you’ve got him to a point where he is capable of singing one song.” Blake suggests as he turns Jasper and starts walking him back down the hallway to where the members were with their heads peeking around the door. “Sorry Ryan, I tried but he’s determined to have you sing. You’ll just have to give it your absolute best and try not to panic.” Jasper stops in front of Ryan, crossing his arms. “Try not to panic, right. Yeah.” Ryan nods. “How long have we got?” Jasper looks over his shoulder at Blake. “10 minutes.” Blake shrugs, checking his phone to confirm it. “Come with me.” Jasper grabs Ryan by the hand and leads him to the next room, checking that it is open before walking inside with him. “Jasper, I’m so sorry but I am not ready to sing in front of people.” Ryan tells him, panic on his face as he fiddles with a titanium band on his thumb. “I don’t think I can. I really just don’t think I can do this. I sound like shit. Everyone will hate me, this will ruin the band. I don’t want to ruin it for you guys.” “I think that’s the most I’ve heard you talk since you joined the group.” Jasper comments, raising his eyebrows at Ryan’s panicked talking. “Sorry. Word vomit.” Ryan apologizes, covering his face with his hands and taking a deep breath. “When I get nervous...” “No offence, but we don’t have time for meltdowns and panic, you need to calm down, you’re going to have to sing so warm up your voice.” Jasper orders. Jasper looks down at his feet as the song starts and he listens to Ryan inhale, his weak voice beginning to sing, quiet even though he was holding a microphone. Jasper chews his lip then looks over at Ryan and smiles at him, knowing the fans would be shocked and that they would take this better if it seemed like the band were behind him on this. Ryan’s hand holding the microphone was shaking and he looked like he had tears forming in his eyes, Jasper silently begs his body not to react when he hears Ryan straining to try and sing louder for the mostly silent audience. While they’d been waiting to come out on stage Jasper had told the other’s to sing if Ryan was struggling. None of them seemed to think it was a good idea to go against the managers wishes but he figured they might understand better now. Jasper looks over at Blake who was staring at Ryan shocked, the other’s hadn’t heard him sing before so they were just as taken back as the rest of the audience. Blake notices Jasper looking at him and smiles back at him quickly, Jasper gives him a nod and wink then raises the microphone to his lips and comes in at the chorus with Ryan, covering his voice well and making the fans cheer for him. Blake joins in too and Simon and Luke follow suit. The whole group sounded awesome and the fans were all for it. Jasper walks over to Ryan and puts his hand on his shoulder as Simon takes over the verse, after the chorus, which was his verse anyway. Jasper puts the microphone by his side so the audience wouldn’t hear him, and leans in to whisper to Ryan. “Relax your voice, don’t strain it. Like we’ve practiced, gentle and quiet. Don’t force your voice to hit notes it can’t hit yet.” Ryan lets out a disappointed sigh and raises the microphone again, continuing the next verse more delicately and quietly as instructed. Jasper has his hand behind Ryan’s back, signaling the other members to join in on the song, singing their usual lines, Simon sings along with Ryan, his voice actually worked well with Ryan’s as it was a polarizing opposite, strong and confident ballad type. Ryan stops singing and turns to Jasper, leaning in to talk to him. “I can’t do this I’m sorry.” He takes a step and Jasper grabs his arm. “Don’t walk off. Remember what we talked about, they won’t like you if they don’t think you’re good for the band so don’t make them think that. Show them that you are deserving of your spot in the band. Make them see your worth.” Jasper orders quickly. Ryan looks at him and licks his lips then nods and passes Jasper his microphone. Jasper takes it, pretending like this was all planned. He takes a step away from Ryan. Jasper, Luke and Blake start singing at the chorus again. Ryan starts improvising some dance moves while his bandmates sing. The screams from the audience has the rest of the band looking over at him again, this time for a good reason. His dancing was brilliant. Ryan runs out of ideas of dance moves after the chorus. Jasper quickly returns to his side, handing him back the microphone and winking at him. Ryan nervously starts singing the last bridge before the final chorus. Jasper starts clapping, the other members joining in along with the audience. The clapping covered Ryan’s voice again and the final chorus was sung by all the members. The song finishes and Jasper pulls Ryan to the middle of the stage, taking his hand and raising their arms up, his other hand in Blakes. The group were in a line holding hands to bow off after their performance. “Big cheer for Ry, guys. He’s had a nasty cold the last few weeks but didn’t want to let you down.” Jasper lies to the fans who all cheer loudly in response. The members turn to Ryan and clap for him with big smiles on their faces. Ryan bows to the audience again. “Sorry.” Ryan apologizes to the fans, feeling as though he’d cheated them, there was a roar of applause and cheering again. “Thank you guys for an awesome show, we can’t wait to be back soon with our new album!” Simon takes over the goodbyes, as he usually did while the rest of the members just hang around. Luke starts leading them all off stage, once they were in the wings, Ryan hugs Jasper tight, his body shivering as he tries to hold back tears. “Thank you for covering for me.” Ryan sniffles. Jasper pats his back and nods. “All good, you’re one of us, we look out for each other. You shouldn’t have been put in that position.” Jasper replies. “Nicely done Jasper.” The manager interrupts them. “I have nothing to say to you right now.” Jasper scowls at their manager. “The ‘he has a cold’ line really won them over though. You’ve got the pity of the fans now Ryan. That’s a good thing, they will be defending you and building you up nw.” The manager shrugs, genuinely happy with how the show had ended. Ryan sighs and walks off, shaking his head. He had a headache and he didn’t want to be involved in this conversation at all. He did feel betrayed by the manager and didn’t want to have to talk to him at all right now. “You are despicable.” Jasper rolls his eyes at the manager. “You can’t act like that went well, you tried to ruin him, Ryan was about to walk the fuck off the stage embarrassed because you put pressure on him and demanded he do something he wasn’t capable of doing well just yet. Is that what you wanted?” “A little drama never hurt a band.” “Yeah but a singer that can’t sing sure does.”
  15. “Hello!” A young woman dressed in a grey suit, dyed red hair pulled back in a messy bun, large gold hoop earrings and a layer of bright make-up that made her look almost like a doll, enters the room where Simon, Luke and Ryan are waiting. “Hey Fifi.” Luke smiles at her, looking her up and down. “Good Morning. I didn’t know you were coming around today?” Simon frowns, tilting his head and frowning at her. “I was sent in to meet the new boy, since I hear you’re doing a T.V show performance next week.” Fi smiles at Ryan who was looking between her and his bandmates wondering what was going on. Jasper and Blake walk in the room laughing to each other about something. “You’re late.” Simon scolds them but they don’t seem to care. “Good morning to you too, Simon.” Blake rolls his eyes. “It’s only like, 5 past, we got held up in traffic.” “You didn't come home last night, I was worried.” Simon continues his lecture while Luke steps closer to Fi, engaging her in a conversation. “Sorry ‘mum’, next time I will text you.” Jasper assures him. “Hey Fi, what are you doing here? Did our manager forget to tell us another thing that was changing?” “I’m just here to meet Ryan, get an idea for what kind of style to go for with his outfit next week.” She answers him, looking him over, Jasper strolls over to Ryan’s side. “Ah yes, eye candy over here.” Jasper smirks and looks at Ryan. “Fi’s in charge of making sure we look good for basically any occasion where people will be looking at us, interviews and whatnot. She was away the last week or you would have met her before now. She’s the one we pitch outfit ideas to before shows and events and if you want your hair changed or anything you have to run it past her first.” Jasper explains to Ryan who nods while he listens. “You’ve got your work cut out here.” Jasper spins on his heel, turning his attention back to Fi. “I see that, I barely feel like I will deserve the pay rise.” Fi jokes. “You deserve it for having to put up with the rest of us.” Luke tells her, a big grin on his face and his eyes not looking away from her own smile. “She’s very single.” Jasper glances at Ryan with a devious smile. “No I’m not.” Fi looks disappointed with Jasper’s comment. “Oh did you meet a nice guy while you were away last week?” Jasper asks her, crossing his arms. “No...” Fi starts and the group shares a collective sigh. “Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you Ryan. I look forward to finding ways to show off all your best features. I should get going now, this wasn’t meant to be a long visit. I’ve got to go.” Fi turns, her head down as she quickly makes her way to the door, not looking back as she walks out. “You had to bring it up.” Luke scoffs, shaking his head at Jasper. “Didn’t she say she was leaving him? I didn’t think she was still seeing that moron.” Jasper retorts defensively. “Just maybe don’t ask about other people’s relationships.” Luke suggests with a shrug, putting his hands in his pockets and walking over to his phone on the bench. “Maybe you should stop crushing on women that are taken.” Jasper comments back. “You guys ask me about my relationship all the time, so don’t give me that shit.” “Because I’m genuinely astonished she hasn’t given up on you. I don’t know what Beth sees in you anyway, the way you treat her.” Luke snaps at Jasper, stepping closer to him in an attempt to be intimidating. “And yet I have a girlfriend, seems like I’m the only one capable of finding someone that isn’t already taken.” “And doing what with her? Since you decided you want to wait for marriage to do anything with her and find any excuse you can to ignore phone calls and to avoid seeing her, you even try to push it in Blake’s face by getting him to play the part of the caring boyfriend for you.” Luke was clearly being defensive, Jasper shrugs running his fingers through his hair and turning his attention to Ryan. “Did the manager say anything to you about whether we’re doing the vocal training stuff today or not?” He asks. “Oh I haven't seen him yet.” Ryan answers, by the looks on the other guys faces that was the first thing they’d heard him say all morning. Jasper nods and turns, walking towards the door before calling out that he would go and ask. As soon as Jasper is out of the room Simon smirks at Blake. “He’s never going to marry her is he?” He asks with a laugh. “Nah, but on the bright side, you never know when you need a virgin to sacrifice.” Blake shrugs, giving a laugh at his own joke. Jasper opens the door and calls out to Ryan. “He does want us to do vocal training every morning.” He tells him. Ryan nods, grabs his water bottle and nervously says a quiet goodbye to the other members, exiting the room and following Jasper into the next room. Jasper walks to the back, sits on the edge of the desk and watches Ryan walk with his head down. “Nervous again?” Jasper asks. “Not about singing.” Ryan shrugs and looks up at Jasper who smiles at him. “About singing in front of someone so intimidating?” Jasper guesses, smirking. “For the record. I use to tell people I was waiting until marriage until I worked out why I had no interest in being physical with anyone.” Ryan states, noticing Jasper’s smirk leave his face, he was looking down at the floor now, only looking at Ryan again as he stops talking. “Sorry. I know it’s not my business.” “No, it’s not. And just because the other guys are talking about it, doesn’t give you the right to. They have been my friends for ages and they know me better than you do. If you think commenting on my relationship is how you’re going to fit in here...” Jasper starts. “No, no that’s not what I meant, I just wanted you to know I understand and...” “I don’t want to talk about any of this, because you have no idea. Just sing.” Jasper orders then sighs, runs his fingers through his fringe and sighs again. “Sorry. I’m just in a bit annoyed about everything right now. It’s not personal. Don’t suppose you have anything that could calm me down.” He jokes, but Ryan didn’t seem impressed with the suggestion of sharing what Jasper had assumed was drugs. “Sorry, I’m not in the best mood this morning. Can we start again?” He asks. Ryan just nods, Jasper just turns around and takes a deep breath then turns back to Ryan and smiles at him. “Good morning.” He says. “Good morning.” Ryan laughs. “Have you warmed up your voice?” Jasper asks. “Not yet.” “That’s alright, we can warm up together, take it at your own pace, you know your limits.” Jasper starts leading them through warm ups. He was glad to be away from the others for the start of the day, hoping they wouldn’t still want to talk about him when he got back to them later. Any time he had to talk about his relationship he felt judged and frustrated because there was enough he didn’t understand about it himself, at least he could enjoy focusing on singing with someone who hadn’t known him long enough to judge him, yet.
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