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Do You Ship Us? - 1. Then There Were Five

“Hey, Jasper! Come out.”

Jasper is barely finished getting dressed as he hears himself being summoned. He heads out of the bathroom and down the short hallway of the shared apartment, running a comb through his short blonde and still damp hair as he walks towards his three housemates and a tall dark haired stranger. His eyes set on the way this man is dressed in a slick black formal suit, tie and all. Despite looking like he meant business, the man appeared anxious and uncomfortable with all the attention that he's receiving. His kind brown eyes set on Jasper, taking him in as he joins the rest of them in the lounge room. Jasper's eyes meet his and the man gives a nervous smile then looks away quickly.

“Oh you guys.” Jasper gives a cheeky smile as he eyes this new man. “You know my birthday isn’t until next month, you shouldn’t have.” He says flirtatiously, gaining the strangers attention again, though he looks away as soon as they make eye contact, intimidated a little by Jasper's confidence. “What? Not my birthday present?” Jasper jokes, smirking at the shirtless man on his left with jet black hair and ripped jeans, who simply nudges him and mouths 'no'.

“This is Ryan, as of today, he is a member of the band.” The man beside Ryan gives Jasper a stern look as if warning him to behave. A look he is more than use to and never actually works to deter him from whatever he is being warned against doing.

“Yeah ok Simon, who is he really?” Jasper asks, distractedly combing at his fringe. The group is silent for a few awkward moments while Jasper looks from the shirtless guy beside him, to Simon then back to the new 'member of the band'.

“No really.” Simon states with a serious tone, placing a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “Our manager just dropped by to introduce him but you were in the shower.”

“Are you serious?” Jasper asks, a combination of surprise and annoyance in his voice as he turns to the man beside him that stood beside him with an amuses smirk on his face.

“Why are you looking at me? If anyone is going to lie to you, it’s going to be me.” The guy nudges him and laughs.

“Oh shit.” Jasper covers his mouth, laughing too as he looks back at Simon and Ryan surprised, his face flushing pink as he makes eye contact with Ryan who looks equally embarrassed but manages a polite smile.

“Hi.” His voice comes out smooth, gentle and reserved.

“Hello.” Jasper nods, “I’m sorry about my comment, welcome to the band.” Jasper gives a shrug the exhales dramatically. “Ok, I’m going to go drown myself, but at least we have a new member who can step in and learn my lines straight away.” He states before turning and leaving the room with his hand over his mouth, mortified that he'd just shamelessly flirted with someone he had to now work with.

“Luke, make sure he doesn’t drown himself.” Simon orders, rubbing his forehead.

“He won’t, he’s just being dramatic.” Luke, who had been silent until now, gives a careless shrug, not bothering to go and check on him. “He’s not always like that..."

“Hahahaha don’t lie to the poor guy. Jasper can be quite flirty but that’s just his personality, and maybe a little too much time spent reading fanfiction about himself. If you’re not comfortable with it, just tell him and he will respect that. He doesn’t mean anything by it, he actually has a girlfriend believe it or not.” Blake smirks at Ryan.

“Blake, go get a shirt on and tell Jasper to hurry up, I'm sure Ryan wants to see the music side of this disaster we call a band.” Simon sends Blake off down the hallway then follows part way down, turning into the first room and leaving Ryan on his own to take in his surroundings. He'd been told that the group were put up in a company owned apartment but he hadn't actually pictured they would all be stuck in a place so small and crowded that it didn't even have a full kitchen. It looked more like a college style dormitory or a hotel room, than what Ryan had expected of a band being managed, that had released an album and had a huge following of loyal fans building up.

"You look uncomfortable, make yourself at home." Blake calls out as he returns back from down the hallway, pulling a shirt on and getting comfortable on the couch, lying across it taking up most of the space. Jasper walks out after Blake, he had his phone out, his eyes focused on it in a very deliberate way, avoiding looking at the man he'd embarrassed himself in front of only minutes ago. Blake's comment, pointing out how uncomfortable Ryan looked, only seemed to make him stand out more. It didn't help that Ryan is dressed so differently to everyone else. Jasper had gone for black skinny jeans, a white t-shirt and a button up black vest, Blake in his ripped jeans and a My Chemical Romance band shirt, Simon and Luke both also going for casual attire of jeans and t-shirts. Jasper stands by the door, glancing up at Ryan and smiling at how out of place he seems. Again their eyes meet and Jasper quickly diverts his attention back at his phone.

"Are we ready to go?" Simon comes back swinging a set of car keys around on his finger. Luke joins them and despite the fact Jasper is the one standing right by the door, he waits behind for Blake to get up from the couch and walk over before he turns to leave. Ryan follows Simon, he'd been told Simon was the leader of the group so he figured it'd make sense to stick by him. Though he didn't feel particularly comfortable beside them, he could tell by the way Jasper and Blake were hanging back laughing and talking quietly between each other, that they saw themselves as more of a duo, and after the blunder of his and Jasper's introduction he didn't feel at all like he would be able to join in with them. It had been daunting to imagine joining a group of four friends and trying to find where he would fit in, but somehow the group being split between two friendships, was worse. Simon gets in the drivers seat and Luke in the passenger seat of an old, grey sedan, again, not at all what Ryan had thought a group with the success their first album had received, to be driving, but he mentally reminds himself to be grateful of the opportunity and not question why they seemed to have very little to show from their debut's success.

"You're smaller, sit in the middle." Blake orders as he holds the back door open for Jasper who doesn't bother arguing and just slides into the car, Blake getting in behind him and closing the door, leaving Ryan to go to the other side and reluctantly get in and sit beside the one person he'd felt the most tension from.

"Hi." Jasper fakes a smile at Ryan as he fumbles with the seat belt buckle right against Ryan's hip.

"Sorry." Ryan moves as much as he could so Jasper could do up his seatbelt without having to accidentally touch him.

The silence became even more difficult to deal with once Simon started the car. They had the radio on, playing the hits for the day that despite being a car of musically inclined people, none of them commented on or sung along to what's being played. Other than the occasional whispering and quiet laughing that continued between Jasper and Blake the whole drive is just an agonizing time for Ryan's brain to play through every possible thing he could say to try and start a conversation, but the longer that went on the less normal he thought it would be to suddenly start talking. Of all the things he couldn't handle in life, a silent car ride with strangers he'd already made a confusingly mixed impression on, sat high on the list. Ryan looks out the window most of the drive, painfully aware of how loudly he is breathing and over conscious of the whispering happening right beside him, he's fairly sure he's imagining his name being said but he doesn't dare look at anyone or respond.

Simon pulls up in the parking lot of the company building after the most stressful 15 minutes of the day and Ryan lets out a deep breath, relieved to be getting out of this car and hoping that things would improve from here. He reaches to unbuckle his seat belt at the same time as Jasper does, brushing his hand against Jasper's. Jasper pulls his hand back and cringes, turning to Blake and laughing awkwardly while Ryan unbuckles his seat belt quickly, wondering how much it would take to die of embarrassment.

"So this is where we work." Luke gestures to the tall building they are parked outside of.

"I was here this morning signing the contract." Ryan nods.

"Not sure what would have been worse, us coming here and finding out we suddenly had a new member or him driving you all the way to our place, just to drop you off knowing we would be back here in literally less than an hour." Jasper rolls his eyes. Not sure how to take the comment, Ryan couldn't tell whether Jasper hated him or not. From flirting to ignoring him and now making a snide remark about it being a bad idea that they even had a new member, Jasper was sending such mixed signals.

“This is our practice room.” Simon introduces, taking the lead on showing Ryan around, since once again Jasper and Blake are just chatting between themselves. “Get use to it, you’ll practically spend your life here now.” Simon jokes as he opens the door that had a plaque on it that read, ‘The Obsolete’. The large room is lined on one wall with floor to ceiling mirrors, the other 3 walls completely bare and colourless. There's no windows showing the outside world, a table near the door held dozens of water bottles and a stereo but the room is otherwise empty, no musical equipment at all. Once again failing to meet the expectations Ryan had formed about what the life as a member of a boyband, would be like.

“There is a bathroom just down the hall. We usually take a break around 1pm and pick one of our unfortunate members to go and get lunch for everyone. Help yourself to water, remember which bottle is yours. Obviously we need to take care of our health for when we do a show, no one can afford a cold or even a sore throat. We will probably spend today re-working our songs to find lines for you to take.” Luke smiles politely at Ryan who just nods at what he is saying.

“That’s the manager’s problem for adding you at the end of our first album.” Jasper grabs a water bottle and looks at Ryan with a frown as he undoes the lid, not yet sure what to make of the new member. "So what exactly is it you're good at?" Jasper asks. Ryan looks at him nervously and licks his lips, opening his mouth to talk but hesitating on answering. Truth is he didn't feel worthy of being in the band at all and didn't really understand his own place yet. "Not singing, right?" Jasper teases light-heartedly.

"Jasper, don't be rude." Simon scolds him quickly, giving him a glare from across the room.

"I'm joking, obviously, because we haven't really heard him say much yet." Jasper replies, looking Ryan up and down again. "Looks can't be the only reason our manager picked him to join our group, so I just want to know what it is he's so good at that we needed, because we didn't chose him, we didn't feel like we were missing something that we needed a whole other member for. So what is so special about you?" He shrugs and takes a swig of the water, not waiting for Ryan's answer before walking over to join Blake who is standing in front of the mirror taking selfies.

“Oh good, you boys are here.” A tall man walks into the room, dressed in a plain black shirt, the company name printed on the breast of it, khaki pants and slip on black shoes, no socks.

“Who dresses you in the mornings?” Jasper scoffs at the sight of him.

“Careful with your attitude, as you can see there are other guys out there with talent.” The manager gives Jasper a warning look and already Ryan could feel the tension in the room rise.

“Yeah ok. Why didn’t you discuss it with us though? I mean it’s our band.” Jasper crosses his arms and walks back over once more. Even though their manager had the authority in the room, and from what Ryan had been told, Simon was the next person in line to speak for the band, Jasper had already proven to be the challenging one that had the most to say.

“If you want to go back to singing cover songs for Instagram, then I can leave you to make your own decisions, but frankly I don’t think you’ll get the same kind of coverage and career out of that. You put your trust in me when you signed to this label, I decided you needed something else and I found it in Ryan, I don’t have to run changes by you.” The manager steps forward into Jasper's personal space, trying to intimidate him but Jasper doesn't budge or even look away.

“We’re all eager to know more about him.” Simon states, trying to bring some positivity back into the room but with Jasper and the manager appearing to have a power battle through a staring contest at each other it's no surprise that his comment makes no impact.

"I hope you treat this new member with more respect than you treat me. I will not have you causing problems around here. Learn your place, or you will lose it." Chris warns Jasper, taking a step back and turning around to Simon. Ryan glances at Jasper who seemed very pleased with himself for 'winning' the power battle, he'd immediately turned around to mock his boss to Blake. Blake is smiling but has his finger to his lips to shush his friend before he could get into even more trouble. "What have you told them?" Chris asks Ryan directly, and all eyes fall on him.

“Uh, he’s barely said anything.” Jasper calls out, another glare from Simon that Jasper just shrugs off. He definitely came across cocky, but he was right.

“Sorry. I’m quiet around new people.” Ryan finally speaks again, his voice warm, deeper by a few tones than Jasper's and he could almost see on their faces that everyone is trying to place him vocally based on that one sentence. The groups’ voices were all different which is why they sounded so good singing together. Jasper had a sweet voice, very melodic, he suited anything from slow love ballads to pop songs, both angelic and fun depending on the mood of the song. Luke had been the power vocalist, he held the long notes and reached his potential fully when belting out his lines in a ballad, the more heartfelt the lyrics the more his voice could connect with it, his voice strong and powerful for emoting. Simon had the deepest voice, which seemed to be the only reason that he had been deemed to be in charge of the group that in reality he didn't actually have much control over. He usually sung behind Jasper a lot, just for the contrast of the two very different tones. Blake's part in the group didn't make much sense, he got to do rap parts if there were any, other than that he had a slightly more harsh voice when he sung and didn't get many lines because it didn't suit the style of music they had been doing so far, his potential completely stunted by being in a pop band when he'd be much more suited to rock or punk.

Though their music mostly consisted of vocals, and there were no instruments in the room, Ryan had found when he looked into them the night before, that Blake actually had incredible guitar skills, in fact his posts on Instagram were mostly of him playing guitar solos, just messing about and coming up with riffs and playing their songs acoustically. Ryan had also seen that Jasper could play piano though he'd not been able to find any videos of him playing. It was interesting that for a band with members that could play instruments, they didn't have any in the room and didn't appear to play in their own songs.

“Well, as you probably know, boy bands are all the craze so we really need to compete if we want to get you selling out shows. There’s no lie that your fanbase is mostly young women so including a man that has that sex appeal will get the whole group more attention. Ryan is also going to be helping bring some dance moves into what you do. His back ground is in dance and modelling.” The manager informs then, looking at his phone as it starts ringing. Jasper raises an eyebrow and looks over Ryan once again, considering the new context of who they had been lumped with.

“Sooo, he’s not a singer?” Blake asks confused.

“Not yet, his voice has potential, just like you all have potential to do some simple dance moves. It’s called variety and covering more bases. The more we can showcase, the bigger an audience we will get. I’ve got to take this. I’ll be back soon, be nice.” The manager directs his last command to Jasper who exaggerates an overly nice smile back as their manager excuses himself and leaves the room, answering his phone on the way out.

"Did he just lowkey say we have no sex appeal? Has he read the thirsty posts our fans are always making about us?" Blake asks Jasper, who throws his hands up in the air showing he's equally baffled by the remark.

“Like he even knows what sex appeal is, he walked in here looking like his 3 year old picked his clothes for him, so I’m going to let that comment slide and file it under, 'Chris saying shit for the sake of undermining our confidence'. But this is seriously ridiculous. We’re a band, we are meant to be showcasing music. We have plenty of fans. I can already dance, Beth teaches me all kinds of moves.” Jasper places his water bottle back on the table and moves into the middle of the room, as though he's about to show off his apparent dance skills.

“We don’t want to know about your imaginary sex life.” Blake pokes his tongue at Jasper who just pokes his tongue back and gives him the finger.

“I think this is a good thing, we get to increase our skill set and our audience, like Christopher said. Just be open minded Jasper, Ryan isn’t here to replace anyone, so don’t get defensive. This is about extending our potential.” Simon tells him and turns on the stereo.

“I’m not being closed minded, I just wish we were involved in deciding what happened with our band and I’m annoyed that we just had a new member dumped on our doorstep. I am open to change, as long as I know it is coming. But you’re right, since he’s not a singer my lines won’t be affected, but if he's not a singer then he better be a damn good dancer or else having him in the band is just going to ruin us, no offence.” Jasper shrugs at Ryan who seemed less sure of himself now that he'd been told what the manager's plans were for him, and seen the negative response to it from the members. “So, dance boy, are you going to show us your moves or what?” Jasper asks with a mischievous grin as he gestures for Ryan to take the floor.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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A dancer placed in a singing group with no input from the band itself: Does the manager really know best? You can't see dancing in a music studio, but Ryan's value will come through on the stage.  At least, Ryan's voice has potential. While Jasper is not overtly hostile, he clearly challenges Ryan's inclusion. Looking forward to the next chapter.

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I've been thinking about writing a boyband story these days, but you beat me to the punch! 😛


I really enjoyed the first chapter. I feel for Ryan, poor guy was dumped in the middle of a band where guys all already know each other and seem to be friends, plus he is shy around new people. Let's hope he won't be as shy when they have to perform on stage.


Jasper is definitely outspoken and prickly, but I understand him somewhat. 


Ah, the music industry, where manufactured boybands have to do whatever their managers say. I'm looking forward to more!

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