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Do You Ship Us? - 10. Mystery Girl

When the first shot starts kicking in Jasper takes over the music and it's somewhere between Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and 1D's "Rock Me" that Ryan starts to feel like Jasper should definitely not be going out clubbing, he did not want to see Jasper being oogled on the dance floor as he did body rolls and seductively ran his hands over his body the way he was now. His next song of choice, T.I's "Whatever You Like" and watching Jasper act like this was something else, singing like he's a rich sugar daddy while he's twerking. As Ryan's eyes are glued to every move of Jasper's body, continually being drawn back up to the definitely tipsy smile that made his cheeks lift until his eyes were like crescents. Blake's throwing sachets of sugar at him like it's money, an ironic amount of symbolism on how little money they actually had. Ryan was glad he was already dressed and ready because he didn't want to miss any of the show that Jasper was putting on and is hugely disappointed by the abrupt ending to Jasper singing and dancing around to Neyo's "Because Of You", which Jasper had been casting him looks while singing, aware that everyone one else was busily planning what to do when they got out.

Another shot at their place, a glass of champagne in the back of a limo and Jasper is stumbling straight through to the bar at the club, the group following behind him. Jasper was keen for another tequila shot despite being strongly advised against it by literally everyone. He was drunk and unstoppable, a mess of laughter and somehow more flirty than usual so everyone was keeping an eye on him while they were out. He already had a line of shots for everyone before they could tell the bartender not to serve him, so Ryan offers to pay and calls it his birthday present to Jasper, wisely though, ordering water as well and insisting Jasper had to drink it first.

"Gross, that's not alcoholic." Jasper sighs, he drinks the water then down the shot and leans against Ryan's shoulder. "You don't have to babysit me you know, and I do realize this isn't really your kind of scene, lots of people and all that, I hope you have fun tonight too." Jasper turns his head and looks up at Ryan's face with a sweet smile. He seemed relaxed, thanks to the alcohol and it hits Ryan that he'd not seen him genuinely 'relaxed' before. The club atmosphere was having the opposite effect on Ryan but as he's looking into Jasper's eyes he could almost forget he was surrounded by the sweaty bodies and loud voices of hundreds of strangers grinding against one another to mixes of dance hits from everywhere between the 90's to songs that were just on the latest hits playlist they had started the night listening to.

“Happy birthday Jasper.” Ryan smiles, 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, sitting up straight and taking out his wallet.

“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? Scandalous.” 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.

“Lets dance, I wanna see you shred up the dance floor with your professional dancer moves. Jasper says excitedly, taking Ryan's hand and getting up from his chair.

“Maybe later, I might head outside for bit, get some air, I’m not really a fan of crowded areas."

“Ok, but come and find me when you're good, I wanna dance with you. Why is alcohol so good?” Jasper laughs to himself. “Anyway, you’re an interesting person, I like you. Thanks for the drink and the chat. Jasper hugs him tight then disappears through the crowd and onto the dance floor where he is the center of attention in no time. This wasn't going to be the right setting for Ryan to get closer to him, so instead he just sits back and watches them dance for a few minutes then gets up and heads out towards the front door. He needed to clear his mind because he was aware that he still barely knew Jasper, and yet the sight of him was almost too much to bare. The air outside the club was smokey and still filled with excited noise from those waiting in the line to go inside. Almost instantly he feels relieved and his thoughts were clearer. Jasper was dating a girl, regardless of whether that was real or not, he wasn't single and Ryan knew he sure as hell shouldn't be making any kind of move on his band mate, they couldn't happen.

“Ryan?” A woman sitting on the bench near the club, not dressed for a night out, calls his name. Ryan looks over confused but recognizes the girl from the profile picture he'd been messaging. He smiles and walks over to her, sitting down. "You here for Jasper's birthday?" She asks.

"Yeah, but parties have never really been my thing." Ryan replies.

"Oh really? What's your thing then?"

 

“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 two electrolyte drinks against his face as if trying to absorb it through some form of osmosis, walking in behind the rest of the group and groaning as he pulls out a chair and flops into it.

"I am never drinking again.” He claims, opening one of the drinks and chugging like his life depended on it. “You’re smart. You didn'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 on edge.

“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.” Jasper breathes. "Tequila is evil."

"Don't blame tequila, it was the jaggerbom washed down with a Long Island Iced Tea that you can thank for your hangover." Blake smirks at Jasper who grimaces at the reminder. Ryan gives Jasper a look like he is surprised to even see him alive this morning but quickly goes back to thinking about his own error of judgement.

“I wasn’t drunk, but when I left the club I met someone.” He starts. “I kissed a fan.” Ryan admits to the members who all look at him genuinely surprised.

“What?” They ask collectively, and Jasper adjusts his position on the chair from sitting to draping himself over it, legs over one arm rest and head on the other, covering his face with his hand.

“Was this in public?” Simon asks, taking out his phone and checking to see if anything was written about it on any fan forums or photos circulating that could have been taken of it happening.

“It was outside the club.” Ryan nods. “She’s the one that has been talking to me. I didn’t expect to actually find her but I did and we kissed.” He shrugs and now Jasper is looking over at him, squinting through the brightness of the room.

“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 and hooking up with them..." Blake starts.

"We didn't hook up, just kissed then she ran off." Ryan quickly butts in.

“How many fans are you talking to?” Jasper asks calmly, standing up from the chair and walking over towards Ryan, stumbling a little.

“Just the one’s that'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 but he couldn't quite understand what he was even seeing. 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, not about to let their private conversations be read by anyone else.

“I just wanted to get your confidence up. I’m sorry Ryan, it wasn’t malicious, I just thought it would help. 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.” Jasper apologises sincerely.

“You started the fangroup?” Ryan shakes his head, hurt and confused by Jasper's actions, he steps away from him and shakes his head again, trying to catch up his brain with what was happening. “You manipulated me, you are tricking me into thinking I am actually liked.”

“The people in the fangroup are legit your fans though, I started the group but everyone that joined is super keen on you, all the likes, all the comments are from your real fans, they really do love you.” Jasper tells him, thinking he's being reassuring.

“That’s fucked.” Ryan swears and Jasper raises an eyebrow, surprised to hear the expletive from Ryan. “I actually started to think you might be starting to accept me. That I could fit in and be a part of this band. 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 snaps and walks out quickly before he could be asked anything else. Truthfully their conversations had been deeper, Ryan had been starting to open up to him, through her and Jasper could understand why Ryan was so hurt but he had never intended on him finding out. He'd been waiting for Ryan to lose interest, then it could have just faded off.

“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 as he stops Jasper at the door.

“Thanks for assuming the worst in me." Jasper rolls his eyes and crosses his arms.

“Ryan's saying he wants to quit. You’re stirring up problems for this band.” The manager answers him with an annoyed 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, this time neither of them laugh at the fact they have once again almost bumped into each other. Ryan doesn't even look at Jasper, just steps out of the way so Jasper can come in the room, then goes to step around him out the door.

“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 with you guys. Why didn't you just say that stuff to me as yourself?” 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.

“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.

"Is that really the only reason? Some of the stuff you said..." Ryan asks.

"I just wanted you to get more confident. I swear." Jasper tells him but there's an uncomfortable silence between them as Ryan considers whether to call his bluff or not, feeling like Jasper wasn't being completely honest about his own feelings.

“I guess I should head back to the studio. Let you pack in peace.” Ryan turns and walks out of the apartment with a heavy sigh laced with disappointment, 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’

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Oooh I did not see that coming! Love this chapter!

Ryan is kind and I'm sure he'll forgive Jasper for deceiving him. And Jasper is also showing his softer side, which is lovely! :)

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Hmmm. Now, Jasper is the one who's vulnerable. I agree with Ryan that the affection in the messages sounds unusual, and the only reason for Jasper to become vulnerable with Ryan is if he is truly harboring some affection for him.

 

So what will Jasper do now that he's been sidelined by the manager?

 

And what will Ryan do about his suspicions of Jasper's affection?

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Jasper is a little bipolar with his talking to the manager in a way that gives the impression he still doesn’t want Ryan in the band only to then get sad when Ryan was packing to leave. Obviously his words were colored by his anger at the manager though it would have hurt Ryan even more if he had overheard the conversation. I can understand why Ryan is so upset but while his method was horrible I can understand why Jasper convinced himself it was a good idea to catfish Ryan as he does need a confidence boost. Both characters seem to show signs of hidden feelings towards the other that neither may even be aware of themselves so the future will be an interesting one.

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