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Do You Ship Us? - 2. Fitting In?

The opportunity to show an example of what Ryan was so good at, that he'd be instantly injected into a band that were until this morning, strictly vocals, seemed like one he should have taken but the hesitation timed perfectly with an interruption from Chris, much to Ryan's relief and the disappointment and frustration of everyone else. Before Jasper had a chance to insist Ryan take the floor, the manager re-enters the room. Jasper turns away from everyone, crossing his arms and shaking his head, biting his lip to keep in the slew of comments milling around in his mind about how unfair their lack of control and choice in this matter continued to be, and that they were just operating on blind faith that Chris actually had good intentions about this change, as a pose to the other shitty changes he'd made and they had accepted since signing with the record label.

“Sorry about that. So the idea of today is that you’ll go through the songs from your first album with Ryan so he can learn them, then hopefully he can put together some simple dance moves to fit the music, in time I want to see full routines that you will all have to learn. I’ve just scheduled in a press conference for 2pm to introduce the new member of the group.” He states, putting his hands in his pockets and looking at the members, stopping at Jasper who Ryan is quickly learning he seemed to have a particular disdain towards. Not sure whether it stemmed from Jasper's behaviour towards him, or whether Chris had done something to warrant it, Ryan mentally notes to keep out of the drama between the two of them in order to stay in both their good books, something that sounded easier than it would be. “I don’t want your fans to be conflicted or think of Ryan as an intruder so please don’t give off any vibes or suggestions that you’re not happy about my decision.” He directs the statement at Jasper who puts his hands up in a defensive position.

"Whatever is best for the band." Jasper remarks, though from all his comments and actions so far Ryan didn't know whether Jasper would genuinely be able to keep his opinion to himself and act friendly or if he'd take the opportunity to cause problems, and by the warning frown Chris is giving him, neither did he.

“I’ll come back to get you guys at 1.30 to prepare for the conference.” Their manager turns on his heel and walks out of the room again. Everyone watches him leave then turns their attention to Jasper with equal doubt in his ability to behave himself in front of a crowd.

“What?” Jasper asks then sighs and rolls his eyes. “I don’t have a problem with you ok?” Jasper insists to Ryan, who couldn't believe he is about to be thrown in front of press, on his first goddamn day. “I just want to see what you’re good at, is that too much to ask?" Jasper frowns at Ryan.

“I’m not really dressed for dancing.” Ryan says quietly, his gentle voice making Jasper concede on his mission to see Ryan's skills, for now.

"Well, they are going to want to see you dance, so I hope you have something prepared to show off." Jasper states as he passes Ryan on his way back over to the mirror, wanting to inspect himself since he hadn't intended on today including a press conference. He wanted to look immaculate and since Ryan's face looked like it'd been hand crafted by angels, he felt a little threatened that his fans would jump ship and become Ryan's fans. If Ryan's looks took the attention though, at least Jasper felt sure his personality would bring them back, based purely on the fact that Ryan had so far shown only a quiet and reserved demeanour. Still, the mystery around Ryan couldn't be denied. The other members had their persona's worked out. Jasper, the pretty boy that loved himself maybe a little too much and lived to stir people up. Blake, the bad boy that would challenge how far Jasper's willing to take things in order to cause trouble. The two had fans wrapped around their fingers as they would bounce banter off each other until one of them broke or ran out of comebacks, no wonder Luke and Simon were lesser known. Luke's persona had always been the dreamy one, ever the gentleman, a complete contrast to Blake who's reputation should really be a turn off. Simon had the leadership thing going for him, only because no one else wanted to be responsible for all the boring parts of the interviews. From the outside perspective, Simon had control, but anyone inside the group understood that it only appeared that way because the rest of them were capable of just enjoying themselves and living in the moment. Simon had always been too much of a planner and never learnt to let go and relax. First impression of Ryan had left them all wondering what persona he'd become known for. He'd not get by on just being a hot dancer, their fans could be shallow at times, but you have to have a personality if you wanted more than just thirst comments acknowledging your existence in the group.

“Ok, we should probably get to know each other.” Simon suggests, clasping his hands together and strolling into the middle of the floor, the group groans, knowing where this is going. “You guys love my teambuilding exercises, right?" Simon smirks at them. “Let’s go around the circle and say something about us that no one else knows.” Truly his team building exercises were always over fast because of course they would get off track and turn it into a game of 'see how many times we can fuck this up before he gives up', between the painful to work with duo. BlaSper fans loved the chaos, Simon however? Not so much. In fact he pretty much despised them for having the audacity to not take their lives too seriously.

“Oh come on, we’ve played wayyyyy too many games of ‘never have I ever’ for there to be things most of you don’t know about me.” Blake jokes to his friends.

"Spoiler alert, Blake's slept with a lot of people in a lot of settings." Jasper spins around quickly and tells Ryan with a laugh. Ryan is speechless, not knowing these people enough to feel like he should be hearing about this kind of thing.

"Thanks, lets tell each other our worst qualities first." Blake rolls his eyes at Jasper who just pokes his tongue out at him.

"Oh like you're so private about that stuff." Jasper teases.

“Guys, can you stop being idiots for a minute, I don't think Ryan needs to hear about your sex lives, he didn't come here today to hear about that." Simon orders, pinching the bridge of his nose and looking over at Ryan apologetically.

"It does feel weird that this is like, the third thing I know about you." Ryan gives an amused chuckle as he looks over at Blake.

"The third thing? Surely you know more about him." Jasper raises his eyebrows at Ryan, surprised that Ryan didn't have at least a basic idea of who they were and what they were all like.

"Uh, well no actually." Ryan shrugs, he'd looked them up of course but hadn't wanted to have any pre-dispositions about any of them.

"This may just shock you Jasper, but not everyone is obsessed with you. Some people just live completely regular lives only hearing your voice over the radio while they are at the supermarket and they don't care at all about who they are listening to." Luke informs him with a smile, while Jasper acts completely insulted by his comment, placing a hand to his heart and gasping dramatically.

"Well, this is good, maybe we should just let Ryan ask us questions. He should get to know us." Simon states, taking a seat on the floor in the middle of the room, Blake, Luke and Jasper move over and join him. Ryan follows over too, sitting uncomfortably distant from the others. Jasper surprisingly, notices him and reaches his arm out, gently patting the ground closer to him.

"We don't bite, well, Blake does but only if he's roleplaying... Ow!" Jasper rubs his arm as Blake punches it to shut him up.

"How about you get your own sex life and stop talking about mine." Blake suggests.

"I would but I don't want to take away something that's 90% of your personality." Jasper smirks at him.

"90%? Bitch just because you while you were busy fearing the devil whispering naughty thoughts in your ear, I was out doing things the devil couldn't even dream of, doesn't mean I haven't outgrown my fuckboy stage. Leave 18 year old me out of this." And this is why nothing gets done in these bonding sessions, Jasper and Blake are completely lost in this friendly argument, ignorant of everyone around them.

"Sorry you lost your moves." Jasper continues.

"I didn't lose my moves, thank you very much. It's just now I'm famous, half the girls that want me are underage and the rest of the girls out there think I'm on the other team because someone keeps flirting with me on stage."

"I'm sorry you're image is so delicate that a few comments from me is enough to convince people that you're into guys. I had no idea my powers of seduction were so strong."

"This kind of banter never ends with these two so you'll learn to tune them out." Luke reassures Ryan, gesturing for him to move over beside him. Ryan shuffles closer to the group, sitting between Luke and Jasper.

"That's enough!" Simon cuts off whatever comment he had decided was too inappropriate between Jasper and Blake. "It's so distasteful to talk about that kind of thing in front of someone that is still practically a stranger. I wanted to do this to make him more comfortable, not less." Simon lectures while Jasper and Blake both look over at Ryan as though they had completely forgotten about him.

“Ok, I have a question, since you barely know us, have you actually listened to our music before?” Jasper asks, feeling like it should be a given for their new member to at least know of their music, if not of them personally.

"I did last night." Ryan nods. Jasper gawks at him, mind blown as he wonders again why Ryan had been placed in the band now. It made no sense before realizing Ryan had no idea who they were, but it made even less sense that with no prior knowledge he'd just been dropped into their group.

“Last night? That’s the first time you listened to our music? Surely you’d heard of us before then though, I mean we had a very successful first album, it’s been on the radio, playing at least one of our songs at least every hour on multiple channels. How can you not have heard us before now?” Jasper asks in disbelief.

“Maybe because you’re so graciously quiet about your success.” Ryan replies with a small smile on his face. Jasper scoffs, pauses, scoffs again then licks his lips and looks at Ryan, completely speechless.

“Wow, I’ve never seen Jasper without something to say. I’m going to like having Ryan here.” Simon states, pleased that finally someone had called him out on being a bit full of himself.

“You’re going to be that quiet guy that comes out with those excellent one liners aren’t you.” Blake gives an approving smile.

“So you didn’t do any research on us before you joined the band?” Jasper asks, ignoring his band-mates enjoyment of his momentarily derailed ego.

“No, I wanted to form my own opinions when I met you all.” Ryan answers then shrugs, as he speak Jasper notices him fiddling aimlessly with the cuff buttons on his shirt. "I only found out yesterday, that I'd be joining the band. So I didn’t really have much notice."

"Glad we've made a good impression then." Blake grits his teeth at Jasper and nudges him, taking him out of the almost trance he had fallen in, watching Ryan.

“Do you have any questions for us then?” Simon asks, everyone looks at him waiting. Ryan nervously sips at his water then clears his throat.

“Who picked the band name?” Ryan asks, everyone points to Blake.

“I was going through that angsty teenager stage.” Blake tells him.

"You say, as if you've left your angsty teen stage." Jasper comments.

"Look, the angst life chose me ok? It's not my fault." Blake replies and Simon groans at the guys getting off topic again. “Next question?” Blake asks quickly, rolling his eyes. It felt almost like Ryan was now in a job interview only the questions were in his hands.

“Who inspires your music?” Ryan asks, sipping at his water again.

“Uh, I don’t know lots of people. We all have different taste. Lyrically, I always idolized Queen.” Simon answers, seeing Jasper and Blake slipping into their own tangent through whispers. “But I’m a bit of an old soul like that.” Simon continues, staring at Jasper and Blake until they notice and shut up again.

“I'm inspired by more dark and brooding songs. When I said 'going through an angsty teen stage', I meant it’s following me to my grave.” Blake laughs at himself. “I’m only eyeliner away from being a proper 90’s punk, emo, whatever you categorize it as, singer.”

"I miss your emo, punk, eyeliner days. You use to be cool." Jasper sighs.

"Yeah, and not promote-able, apparently." Blake shrugs.

"I think that's a lack of good taste on Chris' part. Girls love the emo bad boy look. Totally promote-able." Jasper replies.

"One of these days, I'm going to bring it back." Blake nods to himself.

"Love how you could wear as much eye-liner as you wanted, and no one thought anything of it, but I make one suggestive comment and the world thinks you're gay." Jasper leads himself and Blake straight back down their own tangent about the fans that ship them and who is the one that is most guilty of perpetuating the coupling.

“What's your favourite song on the album?” Simon asks Ryan, who thinks about it for a moment, trying to remember what he’d been listening to before bed last night.

“Hear Me Out?” He answers, not at all confident he'd gotten the name of the song right.

“Really? I wrote that one.” Jasper grins, doing a little wiggle victory dance that Ryan liked his song best.

“I liked the progression of your voices in the chorus, how you start off singing it quietly, then the second time you sing it louder and the last time you are basically shouting it, it really suits the message of the song that everyone deserves to be heard.”

“Oh, that’s what you like about it?” Jasper pouts. “I just came up with the lyrics. We don't have much say after that.”

“Lets ask some good questions. Ryan, do you have a girlfriend?” Blake asks with a smirk, moving a little closer, clearly more interested in this topic.

“No.” Ryan replies with a shrug then adjusts his shirt collar and glances at Jasper before looking back at Blake.

“Why did you want to be a dancer?” Jasper asks, deciding it would be his turn to ask another question.

“Why did you decide to be a singer?” Ryan asks back, he and Jasper just look at each other for a moment. With Ryan's eyes on him Jasper felt a little nervous himself, a feeling he wasn't use to at all. “I didn’t want to just do a job to pay bills, I wanted a job that fulfilled me.”

“That’s a way better answer than mine. I got picked from a choir and told I had potential and signed up to a contract in this company.” Jasper tells him sounding almost embarrassed by his lame story.

“Second best thing that you've gotten from church choir, right Jasper." Blake nudges him.

"Second best?" Jasper frowns.

"Beth, you are actually such an ass. How can you forget about her?" Blake asks stunned.

“Do you want her? Because I could set you up if you want.” Jasper says sarcastically. “You’re a much better boyfriend to her than I am.” Jasper sighs, with just a hint of guilt.

“At this rate, I might as well be her boyfriend. Whenever you want me to start taking her on dates for you, let me know.” Blake winks at Jasper, he and Blake seemed caught up in their own conversation once again now and Simon had apparently given up on trying to refocus them, instead he and Luke start talking between themselves about song ideas for the next album and Ryan is once again left out of the conversations. He sits back, trying not to eaves drop on the very personal conversation Jasper and Blake were having in regards to Jasper’s relationship, but also feeling under-qualified to join in a conversation about what the next album should sound like.

He finds himself some space and sits down with his headphones in, listening to The Obsoletes first album, picturing how he’d choreograph moves for the songs. The members leave him alone, much to his mutual thankfulness and anxiety. He wanted to get along with them but the morning worth of trying to not freak out while in a group of strangers had quickly drained him so some time left alone felt like a holiday, just what he needed to socially recharge before he'd undoubtedly be back into a whirlwind of panic and stress.

It’s Jasper that yanks a headphone out, putting the bud in his ear instead as he takes a seat beside Ryan without asking permission. He starts instantly singing along to the song.

And so as your tears fall, I walk away, I know it hurts right now my darling but I promise you one day, you’ll find someone much better than me and he will be everything that I couldn’t be. Trust me~” He smiles at Ryan and pulls the headphone out of his ear. “Doing some research on us?” He asks. Ryan pauses the music and moves slightly away from Jasper, taking his headphone out and neatly wrapping it then putting it in a small case and back in his pocket.

“It’s good.” Ryan tells him with a smile. “I like the music.”

“Well that’s lucky isn’t it dance boy.” Jasper teases playfully. “We should really be practicing them for you so you know who sings what parts and how it all goes together but Luke should be back with some pizza soon so album revision can wait. It's been interesting watching you react to our songs though. I can’t believe you were added to the group without having listened to any of our music before.” Jasper's honestly doing Ryan’s head in, for the short period of time he’d known the guy, his energy had been completely drained in anxieties from this one guy’s comments and looks. The peaceful quiet alone time he’d enjoyed only minutes ago now ruined with the knowledge he had been being watched and possibly judged or picked on while out of earshot and not paying attention.

“Jasper, your girlfriend is calling.” Blake holds up Jasper's phone, the name BETH on screen. Jasper gets up and takes his phone from Blake after having to fight him briefly for it. Finally sensing Ryan’s discomfort, Simon decides to try and alleviate his concerns, moving over to sit by his side. If he had any idea how much it stressed Ryan to have people singling him out like this, he'd have let him be.

“You doing alright?” He asks quietly. "It's probably a lot to take in."

“Yeah.” Ryan shrugs. “Just not sure what I’m meant to be doing yet. He doesn’t like me does he?” Ryan looks over at the door as Jasper walks back in, stopping at the door and holding it open.

“We were just talking about it, he has a problem with the manager for not informing us of the plans to add another member, but it’s not at you. He is just a little blunt and sassy sometimes so it can come across like he’s being rude when really he’s just not thinking before he speaks.” Simon assures him. “Isn’t that right Jasper, you don’t have a problem with Ryan, you like him.” Simon sounded like a parent, trying to put words in the child’s mouth.

“Yes Mum. I promise I don’t have a problem with him. It’s just going to take time to adjust to the new step brother.” Jasper speaks in a mocking voice and rolls his eyes.

“See what I mean? Don't worry about him.” Simon nudges Ryan then stands up as Luke comes back in the room with three pizza boxes and two rolls of garlic bread balanced on top.

“What should I do at the press thing?” Ryan asks Simon, getting up and following him to the food.

“Do you have abs?” Jasper calls out, having heard the question and deciding to put in his two cents. “Dancers have nice bodies right? Flash them your abs and tell them you’re single. You’ll have fans in no time.” He winks.

“How would you know, you don’t have abs.” Blake pulls up Jasper's shirt and Jasper smacks his hand away.

“Ah see I'm blessed with a good metabolism so I don't need abs. Also the good thing about having a girlfriend is not needing to impress anyone anymore. I’ve got my future set up for me so I don’t need to worry about that crap.” Jasper shrugs.

“Are you scared?” Jasper asks point blank. Ryan looks at him and gulps then nods a little. “You’ve really got nothing to worry about. Just smile at the camera, tell them who you are and put on a show that you are confident and sure of your position with us. They will like you. What’s not to like, right?”

“Thanks.” Ryan smiles at Jasper, he had a beautiful smile, his chiselled jawline could only be made more perfect by the dimples that pitted in his cheeks when he smiled like that. Now that smile seemed infectious and Jasper found himself reflecting it.

“Yeah ok. I’m not the one you need to impress so save that smile for the cameras.” Jasper smirks back then looks away. “There’ll be fanfiction written about you by the end of the night, I’m sure.”

“Yeah, that’s when you know you’ve been accepted.” Luke jokes, opening the box of pizza and watching his friends grab at the food like starving vultures. Jasper and Blake grabbing a slice each and Jasper opens his camera, holds it up, making a face at it, Blake moves into the shot and they take a few photos together.

“Put that one on Instagram.” Blake points at the screen, once again they were caught up together and paying very little attention to the rest of the group. Ryan could see it would be hard to find a place for himself in this already established group, two clear friendships splitting them up. He hadn’t expected to be best friends straight away, but he had expected to at the very least, be feeling accepted in the group but between their distracted conversations among one another on topics he couldn’t comment on and just about everything Jasper had said and done so far making him constantly feel off guard, he really just didn’t know whether or not he could convince an audience that he was comfortable and confident in his place in The Obsolete.

Thanks to those of you who read and commented on the first chapter! I hope you continue to enjoy where this story goes!

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Nice to see a new chapter, I'm really enjoying the story so far!

The press conference should be the first big test for Ryan! The other guys seem quite accepting of him, even Jasper, so I think most of the problems are gonna come from Ryan's own insecurities.

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Just started reading but it has gotten my attention and seems to be off to a good start! 

Ryan is in a difficult situation that Christopher created and Jasper is very outspoken - but he seems to be coming around.  I'm enjoying the story so far!

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