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Do You Ship Us? - 11. Personal Truths

“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 and no one had seen or heard from him since and truthfully they had barely talked about him when he wasn't there, other than asking if he'd reached out at all. Ryan suspected they weren't bringing it up around him, because of what Jasper had done.

“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. Ryan was glad he was back, he wanted to smooth things over in person and he hoped Jasper have been reflecting on his motives and might actually be ready to confront what had really led him to message Ryan from a woman's account. 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, clapping his hands together and rubbing them schemingly.

“Oh at least I am old enough to drink through these torture activities now.” Jasper states sarcastically, clearly his attitude hadn't improved, going to the kitchen and pouring himself some of Blake’s tequila.

“Hey, help yourself Jas. Don’t bother asking first.” Blake jokes and Jasper just rolls his eyes.

“Sorry, would you like a drink too?” He 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, it was the first time Jasper had smiled since he'd walked back in the door. He couldn't keep a straight face in front of Blake's nonsense.

“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 overloaded with tequila with Jasper. “Drink up my friend.” Blake taps his glass against Jasper’s and smirks as he walks off.

“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 turns back to him with a concerned frown.

“You could have called me.” He reminds his friend, putting his arm around Jasper’s shoulders. “I’m always here for you dude. What have I told you about pushing people away when you're going through shit?” Blake smiles at Jasper then walks into the lounge room with him.

“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, reluctant to be rejoining the group but 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 down and chews his lip thoughtfully.

“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 and a stripper, often invited to hen’s parties, or significant birthdays and whatever, basically I got paid to take my clothes off, let drunk women do body shots off me and serve them drinks and all that.”

“Wicked.” Blake laughs in delight at the idea. “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 felt lonely, there was no one there to stop me so 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 and silenced at the turn the story had taken. “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 in a hospital."

“Holy shit.” Luke 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, now it made sense, why he couldn't sing very well, why he was so hurt by Jasper's betrayal of trust and why he felt so afraid of not being good enough, not being accepted and letting everyone down.

“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. Everyone felt like they could have done better, they could have made Ryan's place in the band a bit easier if they had known the reasons that led to him being placed among them when he wasn't ready to perform. No one felt it more that Jasper.

“Ryan, I-I'm...” Jasper starts, his eyes welling with tears from guilt at his behavior towards Ryan.

“My turn to ask a question, right? Why are you stringing along your girlfriend?” Ryan asks, immediately knowing he was out of line but he'd already asked the question that he'd been hoping Jasper would have come home having thought about at least. He knew calling him out in front of everyone was wrong, and Jasper could feel the anger and the hatred from Ryan's tone. He deserved it, he concludes, for the way he'd betrayed Ryan's trust. Instead of snapping back, like he normally would he just concedes a sigh.

“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 it back down then quickly getting up and rushing out of the room dorm again.

“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, trying to break the uncomfortable silence but it's only escalated by the continued silence that followed.

“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.

“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. “He's 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, not looking across the city, or up at the stars but down at the pavement. his elbows resting on the cement barrier.

“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 don't deserve your forgiveness, but I promise if it's too hard to work with me, I will leave the band. You deserve it more than me.”

“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. I don't want you to leave the band, 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. His fringe falling over his eyes again as he stares down at the ground too ashamed to look at Ryan at all.

“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, kicking at the ground. “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 looks up at Ryan for a moment then looks down at the ground again. “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 as though annoyed at himself for not being in love with Beth.

“What do you want?” Ryan asks in a gentle tone, stepping forward and standing right behind Jasper.

“I don’t know." Jasper snaps and turns around, looking into Ryan's eyes with intensity. "I don’t know what I want but it’s not her.” He steps forward and kisses Ryan before he even thinks about what he is doing, as though just giving in to the desire that had been building since they met. Switching his brain off and letting the autopilot take control, showing him exactly which way to fly. To his surprise Ryan kisses back, his hands holding Jasper's waist, keeping him from pulling away. The moment went for too long, so much longer than they both anticipated and for a moment Jasper thinks they are only still kissing because the moment they stop they will have to talk about it, at least this way their lips were busy. One of Ryan's hands slides up to his neck and it's like it snaps Jasper back down from the clouds he was floating in, and to this roof where he stood, lips locked on a man he was supposed to be working with.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” Jasper breaks the kiss and steps back, apologizing quickly, tears filling his eyes again as he turns away from Ryan. 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 notice it. Now he couldn’t look past it anymore, not now that he had the taste of Ryan's lips, the softness of them and the surge of wanting that he'd never felt before. “I... I shouldn’t have come back.” Jasper shakes his head, overwhelmed and panicky about what was happening. He turns to start running off and Ryan follows after him quickly.

“Where are you going?” He 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. He wanted to pull Jasper close, to kiss him again softly, say something that somehow took away all the conflicting thoughts Jasper was having and just fast track him to acceptance but he knew it wouldn't be that simple. He had thought Jasper was just in denial, but he could see by the look on Jasper's face that it was more than that, that Jasper had just somehow not been at all aware. “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 softly, wishing it was enough to reassure Jasper that it was ok to feel the way he was feeling.

“I’ve been a jerk to you. Why would you want me to drag you into this?” Jasper pulls away and wipes the tears that were running down his cheeks.

“Because I’ve been waiting for you to.” Ryan smiles at Jasper. Jasper just stares at him for a moment, tears filling his eyes again and his mouth hanging open as he takes in Ryan's words. "Jas..." Ryan reaches for him again but Jasper recoils.

“Just forget it, please.” Jasper storms off, not going into the dorms, but heading out of the building all together.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Pivotal chapter, where Ryan reveals his suicide attempt and where Jasper reveals his gay feelings--his attraction to Ryan--and his confusion over those feelings. Hopefully, Ryan will help Jasper to understand and accept his feelings over the next several chapters. 😊  (Interesting how Jasper has gone from teacher to pupil--and vice versa for Ryan!)

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Well everything is out in the open now. Ryan’s suicide attempt and Jasper’s gay feelings towards Ryan. Let’s hope that the boys can overcome there problems.

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Such an eventful chapter! And what we've all been suspecting (and expecting), Jasper and Ryan reveal their true feelings for each other! Hyped for the next chapter! :)

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So Jasper's problems are revealed at last . No surprises there that he is mixed up and a real closet case and basket case to boot. Strange as it is it would seem that Ryan cares about and for him even after what  he has done to Ryan. Still Jasper is very much a walking muddled mixed up basket case. ONLY time will sort this out. My feeling at the moment is that JAS HAS DECIDED to separate from his lady friend but has no idea how to be a gentleman about. I also suspect she k owe it its going anywhere with Jas either. This will leave Blake to help her out.

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What a way to find out why Ryan has a hard time singing right now, as he admits he attempted suicide by slicing his throat which damaged his vocal cords. Jasper comes back and Ryan confronts him about his relationship with Beth only instead of answering Ryan he takes off for the roof and Ryan went looking for him in order to apologize for his remark about his relationship. Jasper stated that he didn’t know how to break up with Beth where she wouldn’t be hurt and Ryan mearly told him that the longer he strung her along the more hurt she would be, Jasper said he didn’t know what to say to her so she wouldn’t be hurt by the breakup. I think they both need to focus on the needs of the band as a whole not just as individuals, if they all work together and work hard they might just be better than they are right now. 

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