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Do You Ship Us? - 5. Intimidating

“I know I sound awful.” Ryan turns away from Jasper, covering his face with his hands and letting out a groan before grabbing his water bottle and opening the lid, taking a sip and replacing the lid.

“No, not awful.” Jasper answers biting his lip and crossing his arms over his chest as he leans back against the wall behind him. “Is that, is that as loud as you can sing?” He asks.

“I’m a bit nervous.” Ryan tells him.

“I couldn’t tell.” Jasper raises an eyebrow, watching Ryan twist the bottle lid off and on, over and over. “Why are you nervous? You’re obviously talented, otherwise our manager wouldn’t have assigned you to the band.” Jasper attempts to be reassuring but on the inside he was so annoyed that he was missing out on whatever the other guys were doing, for this. He was beyond concerned that Ryan was only able to demonstrate his vocal abilities really quietly, and that he had to play the encouraging type to boost Ryan’s confidence just to get him to sing loud enough for him to properly know what he was dealing with.

“I’m not as good as you, obviously. You’re a little intimidating to sing in front of.” Ryan admits, putting the bottle down, only to pick it up again a moment later and continue playing with it.

“Intimidating?” Jasper uncrosses his arms and leans against the wall behind him, smiling at Ryan who seemed lost in front of him.

“Well, you’re a talented, established professional singer with a fanbase that I’m sure would eat me alive if you told them to. I really just want to make a good impression in this group so having to practically ask you to judge me and tell me if I am good enough, is really intimidating.” Ryan explains, once again placing the bottle down while he makes his point.

“Doesn’t say much for the trust you place in the manager who gave you a place here. Did you find him intimidating?” Jasper asks, snatching the bottle as Ryan reaches for it again, raising an eyebrow at Ryan. “It’s annoying me.” He states bluntly.

“Sorry.”

“Wow you do find me intimidating. I’ve never met someone who thought I was intimidating before. Jasper was bewildered and a little bit too pleased to have given that impression.

“I find a lot of people intimidating for different reasons. Of course the manager, but this is different, I don’t feel good enough to be here so your opinion is very important to me.” Ryan sighs. “I’ll try to sing louder.” He clears his throat.

“Really cute that you think of me as a professional singer. I’m only 20, I don’t feel old enough to be called a professional anything. But thank you, and I’m sure he hired you for more than your looks so don’t be shy. We’re only not going to like you if you’re not making us all look good and the only way you could let us down is by not putting your all into the group. We mess around a lot when we should be working but our first album was such a crazy success that we’re all really confident in our ability to produce more successful music. You kinda get the shit job of jumping in and hoping for the best, you just have to fake the confidence until you make it.” Jasper tells him, smiling to himself as Ryan reaches for the water bottle before remembering Jasper had it. Jasper hands it back to him.

“It’s a comfort thing.” Ryan mutters as he takes it back.

“I can tell.” Jasper smiles sweetly at Ryan, he was amused by Ryan, interested in his behavior and his personality. “I use to have things I’d cling to when I was uncomfortable. Probably still do. Thing is though, the fans will love you, I can tell you that already I mean you’ve seen yourself in the mirror right? That’s the first thing they will judge you on. From what I’ve seen and heard, I’m going to be honest, I’d just go with the dancing for a while because it’s better to show what you’re really good at and build a following for that, then it would be to possibly be quite harshly judged for what you need to work on, especially since you’re not keen on judgement.” Jasper advises.

So you don’t think I should sing?” Ryan asks, undoing the lid of the bottle and sipping at it.

“Not yet, wait until your voice has improved to a point that you are happy for the world to judge you on. Show your strengths, work on your weaknesses.” Jasper shrugs. “You need to be ready and confident before you go ahead and show the world otherwise they will eat you alive.”

“Thanks for the confidence boost.” Ryan gulps then takes another sip.

“Hey, I just don’t want you to be surprised alright. Public opinions can get vicious and we have some very protective fans. I’m sure you’ll be fine, but just be aware that they may not start off being accepting and welcoming of you, but if you show them you’re taking the band seriously and you want us to be successful then they will grow to love you. Are you up to singing a little louder?”

“I will try. The doctor said I need to work up to it.” Ryan answers embarrassed. “I damaged my vocal chords a few months ago so I am not able to jump straight back into singing.” The comment makes Jasper stand up straighter, looking at the man before him with his head tilted to the side as though seeing him in a different way. Damaged vocal chords explained the singing and maybe that's what the pills were for yesterday. He felt a zap of guilt run through him for being so harsh to judge this guy who was taking the lid on and off his water bottle anxiously every time Jasper would be silent and look at him too long. Aware that he's staring again, and that Ryan is losing some amount of confidence with every passing moment.

“No, it’s ok. Don’t strain yourself if you’ve damaged your vocal chords.” Jasper shakes his head and when he does his fringe falls slightly over his eyes, he looks back over at Ryan through his blonde hair and sees Ryan shift again as Jasper's eyes meet his, an action that makes Jasper smirk to himself.

“I could probably sing a little louder.” Ryan takes a deep breath and opens his mouth to start singing the line again but Jasper quickly interrupts, concerned that he's putting stress on him that will cause him more pain.

“Don't hurt yourself trying to impress me, I’ve heard vocal chord damage can be quite painful.” Jasper comments, brushing his fringe from his eyes now and watching Ryan with a curious intensity.

“It's only painful if I don’t warm up carefully enough.” Ryan answers, avoiding looking at Jasper completely now.

“Shit. How’d you damage them?”

“I don’t really want to talk about it, if that’s ok. I just want you to know that I am taking my place in the band seriously.” Ryan straightens up his stance and looks at Jasper with a determined expression. Jasper just smirks back at him. “What?” Ryan asks, the confidence disappearing immediately.

“I don’t know why I asked you to take it seriously, you’ve seen the amount of time wasting bullshit Blake and I get up to. We’re not exactly modeling the behaviour I am telling you that you have to show. Take it seriously enough that you make a good impression on the fans, but not so seriously that you forget that you’re meant to be having fun doing this.”

“So, so what do you want me to do to prove that I am not going to ruin the band?” Ryan asks with a sigh, casting Jasper a confused frown.

“Just gotta grow on me I guess. We barely know you and it’s a weird situation so it’s just going to take time. But even if I come across bitchy, know that it’s not a dig at you personally." Jasper tells him.

"Like how you are with Christopher?" Ryan questions and Jasper's gives him the most shit stirring grin.

"No, I hate him he's an asshole. That bitchiness is 100% me taking a dig at him. And please for the love of god don't call him Christopher, I know Simon does but I'm pretty sure Simon is wrapped around his dick." Jasper jokes, back peddling a little as he sees the even more confused look on Ryan's face. "Not literally, obviously. We're all straight here. Anyway, just know that I am going to help you any time you need because I don’t want to let down the fans. That’s the thing about a new member joining the team, you’re in it with us. We win together or we lose together. There’s no other options.” Jasper felt a little lighter about Ryan now, especially learning that Ryan’s singing issue was due to an injury, he wasn’t just ‘bad’. But most of all, Ryan’s behaviour in general had him intrigued. A handsome talented guy with no self confidence was a weird concept to him, he’d thought most attractive guys knew their worth in at least a shallow way, but Ryan seemed to really not understand that he was someone other’s would be jealous of and wish to be. His involvement in the band was keeping Jasper excited, he wanted to see how this would all play out but he was also weary of what he was learning about Ryan. The confidence, the injury, the viewing people as intimidating and being petrified of judgement seemed like a huge red flag that there was something in Ryan’s past that could be a real barrier to him being able to make a future with the band work. Most of all he wanted to know what this look was Ryan kept giving him, like he was a dear in headlights every time Jasper's eyes would burn into him.

“Jasper, the manager wants you guys in the band room for a meeting.” Luke calls out from the door, Jasper grabs his water bottle and walks ahead of Ryan, leading the way and considering what he’d learned. If he truly was easily intimidated by judgement and if this lack of confidence really wasn’t an act, then being in the public eye would be strenuous for him and could cause problems for the group. All his thoughts led back to was a general idea that Ryan wasn’t ready for what he was thrown into and wondering how he could help get his confidence up, or protect him from all the less glamorous parts of living life on the stage.

“Hey, thanks for your help today.” Ryan states as they get to the door, worried about Jasper’s deep thought and concerned expression.

“You’re welcome.” Jasper's reply bring him no comfort despite it being polite.

“Sorry it’s taken you away from the others for the morning.” Ryan apologizes, Jasper stops and turns around, catching Ryan off guard and they nearly collide. Ryan gulps and steps back while Jasper fixes a kind smile on his face.

“Don’t be sorry, just keep working on it so you can amaze the others, and the fans and it’s all worth it.” Jasper tells him in the most genuinely kind way he can muster but he knew from Ryan's face that it was somehow not enough. He opens the door letting Ryan walk in first and watching as he stiffens once the rest of the members are looking at him.

“How’d it go?” Simon asks as they enter the room. Ryan looks at Jasper, not sure he’d call it a success himself but Jasper had a smile on his face, probably at the sight of his friends, Ryan assumed.

“Well, he’s not too bad.” Jasper shrugs, walking right past Ryan and making his way to Blake’s side among the group.

“Not too bad? Coming from you, that’s almost a compliment?” Blake nudges Jasper with a smirk on his face. “You’re getting soft.”

“Oh, and are you getting jealous?” Jasper asks, giving Blake a playful pout that earns him a light whack to the shoulder.

“No, I like our relationship based on insults, idiot.” Blake shrugs.

“You’re a sucker for pain. You’d be the kind to ask to be belittled in the bedroom and told how unworthy you are.” Jasper pokes his tongue at Blake who just shrugs.

“Maybe that’s why I’m into my best friend’s girlfriend.” The room is silent for a moment, Jasper just staring at Blake not sure what to say to him, though Ryan was already putting it all together in his head. Jasper wasn't dating this girl for genuine love, having known him for all of maybe ten hours between yesterday and this morning, he very much doubted the 'we're all straight here' statement he'd made only a few minutes ago. Whether Jasper knew and was putting on an act, afraid of Ryan's judgement, or whether he was in some kind of denial, Ryan wasn't too sure. The door opens and the sound of footsteps steals the attention, much to everyone’s relief as an audible sigh comes from each of them.

“How’s the morning been?” The manager asks, pausing and looking at each one of them suspiciously as he notices the silence in the room. “You’re like a bunch of toddlers, it scares me when you’re quiet in here.”

“Speaking of scary, do I intimidate people?” Jasper asks Blake quietly, Blake just snorts and starts laughing. “I’ll take that as a no.” Jasper rolls his eyes, looking back at the manager who had a stern expression on his face, glaring at Jasper and Blake.

“But of course you two have something better to talk about?” He asks.

“Well that depends what you are here to talk about.” Jasper shrugs, crossing his arms, daring Chris to have a good reason to have come into the room. Ryan looks at the smirk on Jasper's face then over at the way the manager looked like he wanted to throw him out a window.

“We’re just talking about how Jasper is a bitch and thinks he is intimidating to others.” Blake announces, Ryan looks down at his bottle feeling a little bothered that Jasper was talking about what he'd said with someone else already and making a mental note to be more careful what he says to Jasper in the future. He undoes the lid again, having another small drink while Jasper just watches, an intrigued smile on his face. It was a nerves thing, and he’d enjoy pin pointing Ryan’s discomfort by watching for ticks like this in the future, and knowing when to step in and make him feel more comfortable. Getting to know Ryan was quickly becoming Jasper’s new hobby, and trying to understand Jasper's actions was becoming a challenge for Ryan.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Ryan is growing on Jasper, possibly because of his vulnerabilities. At least, Jasper is trying to regulate his inner bitch. 

 

Damaged vocal cords?  Why is Ryan so reticent about discussing the cause? (At least, he declines to share it at this juncture, and kudos to Jasper for not prying.)

 

Is Ryan seeing a counselor for his lack of self confidence/easy intimidation issues? (If not, maybe he should be.)  Also, what caused these issues to begin with and do they relate to the vocal cord injury?

 

While trying to overcome his hurdles by working for the band, Ryan is clearly in need of assistance, but will Jasper's intervention be enough?

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So, Ryan seems to have a lot of issues he needs to work on if he wants to succeed in this boyband. It seems he will be the biggest obstacle for himself. I like that Jasper is willing to help and give him advice.

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Well Jasper seems to be the "helping hand" that Ryan may need!!  It's seems to be a change of heart for him - so I only hope it is sincere.  I get the feeling that Ryan is very fragile, and if betrayed it could be devastating!!!  

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