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Do You Ship Us? - 17. Heatstroke

“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 and Ryan had spent the time wisely, unable to sit still and wait any longer, he had pushed aside all the furniture in the lounge room to make room for him to practice choreography for the music video shoot coming up.

“So, I didn’t bother with the manager.” Jasper states, pulling out a chair at the table and throwing down a folder of forms with a dramatic splat. “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 abusive ass anymore.” Jasper says as he sits down and stretches his arms out with a groan then lean back with a cocky smirk and puts his feet up on the table, looking at Ryan and waiting for him to be impressed by the amount of mutiny he'd managed to commit in only a few hours.

“Shit.” Ryan looks at the folders before him, a little bit afraid of Jasper actually. “Did, did you read all the files?” He asks as he approaches the table and looks at the folders splayed carelessly across it.

“Well no, that's not my business and I only gave my contract to the lawyer guy, but I did steal all of them for good measure. I think we all deserve to know what we really signed up for." Jasper states as he picks up the folder with Ryan’s name on it and passes it across the table for Ryan to read through. "Why, is there something in here you don't want me to know about?" He asks jokingly.

“I don’t think so, but whatever he has on file about me, he could potentially release to the media, right? So it’s interesting to look at.” Ryan starts skimming through it, while Jasper just watches him with an interested expression. “Are you going to talk to the others about this?” Ryan asks, closing the folder and holding it to his chest.

“Obviously, I can’t go behind their backs and speak for them about all this.” Jasper shrugs and yawns, well overdue for a good nights' sleep. He went from the best night of his life so far, to stopping Ryan jumping in front of a train, to making out on the beach, to arguing with Ryan and the manager while hungover and exhausted no less, to planning a power move/shit storm to separate the band from their manager all in 24 hours and now that the adrenaline of it all was wearing off he wanted nothing more than to re-introduce his head to his pillow. "For all we know they are keeping worse secrets than us." He winks at Ryan.

“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. It's not like he made her sign a contract to keep it secret.” He sighs.

“Well if he didn't, then she could speak out about it. How would your mum feel about making that publicly known?” Jasper asks, his feet moving from the table to the floor as he leans forward, his head tilted to the side as he stares at Ryan curiously.

“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 disgusted 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, he had been lost in thought but was welcoming of the distraction. The kiss was quick 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 and where do you think you're going?” Ryan asks with a smile, wrapping an arm around Jasper and bringing him back in close.

“I just thought we could practice the whole, kissing each other without needing an excuse to do so, thing.” Jasper whispers, unable at this closeness to look anywhere but at Ryan's lips.

“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 in until their lips are almost touching.

“Ok, maybe I thought it was a little sexy that you are standing up for yourself and wanting to take Chris down with me.” Jasper shrugs. "I don't know about dating just yet, but I like the idea of you being my accomplice." He smirks.

“Was it too forward to suggest?” Ryan asks, stepping back and fiddling with his hair while avoiding looking at Jasper who was disappointed to have sudden distance between them, he bites his lip and sighs then walks into the kitchen and gets himself a glass of water, amused to think to himself that it was Ryan that had always been nervously holding onto a water bottle when talking to Jasper, but now that a relationship was on the cards Jasper found himself wanting to hide behind a convenient drink to sip at thoughtfully as an excuse to not talk. Except Ryan's giving him a look like he's not at all fooled. Jasper leans back against the table, one foot crossing the ankle of the the other, holding the glass and running his finger around the rim of it as he considers answering.

“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 with a neutral expression.

“You’re right.” Ryan agrees much easier than Jasper expected. In fact, too fast for his liking, he mustn't be that serious about it if he's that quick to throw in the towel on the whole idea.

“It’s a bit complicated.” Jasper shrugs and sips at his water and trying to hide his disappointment that Ryan was just agreeing with his excuse.

“Yeah, the world could end if we date.” Ryan cracks a smirk and Jasper rolls his eyes, though absolutely feeling like crushing Ryan under a kiss for his sarcastic response.

“I see, you’re mocking me.” Jasper smiles approvingly and has another sip of water. He was use to hiding a lot of his true feelings under excuses so knowing Ryan had it in him to challenge that did give him a burst of hope that maybe they could end up being more than just band mates that made out from time to time.

“I’m just enjoying not being the one overthinking it all, for once.” Ryan teases as he places a hand on his shoulder and leans in until 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. With a gentle click of the door Jasper is left catching his breath. It's not that he didn't want to date Ryan but it was all just happening really fast. It was only last night that he was actually thinking he could be fine with kissing a guy but introducing someone as his boyfriend felt like a step he wasn't ready for. He turns around in a circle as though waiting for an answer to show itself, looking down the hallway he could 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 collects the files before he 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. His head was spinning, half of him, specifically the half he knew least what to do with in a relationship with a man, wanted him to cross the hall and just make it happen. The other half thankfully contained his brain.

 

“Pastel? Are you kidding me? There is no way in hell I am wearing that.” Blake crosses his arms defiantly and moves away from the rack of pastel coloured suits that he was supposed to wear. Personally, he was considering throwing them over the side of the deck but Fi had probably spent a crazy amount of time getting these organized and he didn't want to ruin her hard work. “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 and go to real hell. If I go to hell and am forced to wear pastel there I will consider the devil a real professional at torture.”

"You've heard of 'Devil Wears Prada', now get ready for 'Devil Wears Pastel'." Jasper jokes, waving his hands in front of himself like he's presenting a heading.

“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 orange. Come on, get dressed, lets shoot this music video.” Simon claps his hands and turns and walks away before they could argue.

“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. We're a band, this is bullshit. I signed up to play music and get street cred, not be the 12 year old version of The -fucking- Wiggles.” He continues complaining.

“Well, at least you’re not in pastel pink.” Jasper pulls his suit off the rack and eyes it, trying not to feel like this was somehow deliberate. He kisses one guy and suddenly he's given the most feminine colour. It felt like a statement but he also knew Chris had always chosen to market him this way. He was afterall, the 'pretty boy' of the band and fans did love it when he dressed cutely.

“I think it’ll look good on you, bring out your innocence.” Ryan comments as he reaches past Jasper to take his blue suit off the rack, giving 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’. Honestly Jasper only wanted to put it on now to see what Ryan thought of it, and he hated himself for needing so much attention but was the first to get changed.

 

Once everyone was dressed, including an extremely reluctant Blake who did not look impressed at all to be in the suit, they are instructed out onto the deck. Ryan looked immaculate in a slim fitting blue suit, Jasper was actively trying to remind himself not to stare in front of everyone. Ryan on the other hand, didn't get much of a chance to acknowledge Jasper's look at all as he was thrown straight into a group of bikini wearing, tan skinned, blonde women in heels.

“How come the girls get to wear bikini’s and we are dressed head to toe?” Luke groans, fanning himself with his hand. They'd been standing on the deck doing absolutely nothing in direct sunlight while Chris instructed Ryan around to different areas of the decking area for the best camera angles. Alternating between dancing among the group, to one on one dance parts with each girl, at one point he had three of them running their hands over him at once and Jasper had surpassed jealousy. In fact he wasn't even mad anymore, he was entertaining himself with the thought that Chris was so into this because he wished he could have girls fighting over him.

“Drink up guys, it’s going to be a long day.” Simon passes chilled water bottles to the three of them as they stand around sweating and waiting for an opportunity to film their own parts.

“How is he dancing in this heat?” Blake asks astonished after he chugs down half a bottle of water in one go.

“He just wants to show us how hard he is trying.” Jasper sighs, he couldn't imagine how Ryan felt right now but he could see the determination on his face, but also the way he kept wiping sweat from his forehead and placing his hands on his knees to take a deep breath before he has to start the next set of moves.

“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, his question completely throwing Jasper.

“What would I be mad about?” He asks, distractedly looking back towards Ryan who was dancing very closely with one of the girls, hand on her waist and doing body rolls in sync with her.

“You know, the Beth stuff.” Blake shrugs, staring out at the ocean that was painful to even look at because the reflection of sunlight from the water was nearly blinding.

“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, maybe a little jealous actually. It was hard not to be as Ryan was dancing so provocatively with these girls and they were all standing back under the shade of an umbrella looking very pleased with themselves for getting to grind against him and be paid for it.

“Are you sure, you’ve been kinda avoiding me.” Jasper realizes Blake is still talking and feels immediately guilty for not listening.

“No, no. Not intentionally I’ve just been caught up in other stuff.” Jasper assures him, turning away from Ryan before a few bikini clad girls could 'trip in their heels and fall off the boat'. It was in everyone's safety that Jasper didn't pay any more attention to this atrocity that Chris kept referring to as their music video.

“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 casts Jasper a smile. "I just didn't know if you were feeling weird about things since Beth." Blake shrugs. Oh he had no idea how weird things had been since the break-up with Beth.

“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 him straight away, taking a bottle of water with him.

“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 with shaky fingers.

“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 and undoes the top two buttons for Ryan while he has another sip of water. “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 admits.

“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. “Chris 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 the rest of the buttons too?” Ryan asks, glancing down at his shirt that was soaked in sweat.

“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, ignoring the manager. He frankly thought it'd be better if today ended up being a huge waste of money for Chris, it's what he deserved for being such a careless jerk.

“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. Holding back your hair while you threw up." 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 takes off is jacket, throwing it on a seat and crossing 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.

Claire Rosalind
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The manager has certainly set up Ryan to develop heat stroke (dancing for an hour in a suit at the hottest time of day). His actions continue to border on the criminal, if they are not actually criminal (such as manipulating Ryan's mother into sex or placing Ryan into situations which will adversely affect his health). The sooner the group can dump this sleaze bag, the better. I wonder when, and how, the lawyer will act!

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I think the manager is trying to make sure that Ryan doesn’t make it with the band, and he’s going to do anything and everything he can to see it happen. Only he’s going to have a surprise for him when they take him to court and terminate his services as their manager for the things he’s doing. I think Jasper did the right thing when Ryan came to him about the posting in a gossip magazine about Ryan being on drugs he first went to the manager to get him to correct it before any damage was done, only later Jasper finds out that Ryan is supposed to tell the world he has an anxiety disorder and he has to take pills for it. Jasper was about to go do something to the manager and then changed his mind and went to the managers office and got their contracts and took them to a lawyer to get his opinion about their options as to whether they could get rid of the manager and still keep their jobs.

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