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Do You Ship Us? - 53. Camping Trip

There was nothing Jasper wanted less than to be hiking up a mountain to spend the night camping, but this was Simon’s plan and the band had committed to trying to immerse themselves in each other’s interests for a week to help inspire them and connect them better. Apparently they would understand Simon somehow when they reached the top of this random hill they were trekking their heavy bags up. The smile on Simon’s face showed how important and meaningful this adventure was to him, so for his sake Jasper and Ryan were putting aside the last 24 hours of their lives and trying to act normal.

Also putting aside issues and acting normal was Luke, who had turned up with a black eye and broken nose taped in place, upon arriving they’d all been instructed to not talk about it until they were at the top. Simon had the idea to sit around the fire and talk about their woes there, which was bound to be a hoot given that Blake had more than his share of ‘woes’ he could bring up, Jasper had just seen his parents and Ryan had seen a glimpse of his issues, Ryan’s ever present depression which had definitely been triggered in their recent car trip and Luke who any other day of the week didn’t look like someone who had problems was proudly sporting medical tape and bruises that clearly had a big story behind them. Curiously, they’d never really heard much of Simon’s life, so this ‘deep conversation by the fire’ idea suggested they were in for a night of learning some dark secrets, low moments and drama from their most private member of the band.

“You two look wrecked, did you finally get laid?” Blake nudges Jasper, when they were halfway up the hill. Obviously noticing that Jasper and Ryan were both exhausted more than everyone else.

“Keeping the drama for the fire, remember?” Jasper jokes at Blake who rolls his eyes.

“If you want my advice? Just get drunk and get it over with.” Blake suggests and Jasper finally laughs for the first time since getting in the car that morning.

“That is literally the worst advice I’ve heard.” He glances over at Ryan who was watching them, looking almost hurt that Jasper was happy talking to someone else.

“Worked for me. Take the liquid courage and have a good time. No stress, no overthinking.” Blake shrugs.

“Mm, I’m trying this thing where I don’t just drink to avoid the things that stress me, and also have you met Ryan? I’m not the one that’s still saying no, he wants it to be special and wants us to wait for ‘the right time’.” Jasper lowers his voice as he speaks.

“Ohhhhh you guys are so gonna do it before he goes away hey, like Saturday night, your last night together before he goes. He’ll make it all romantic like you’re living in a romance movie. I see the plan now. I’ll come over after he leaves for the airport and you can tell me all about it with as few details as possible given the content.” Blake winks at him, Jasper just smiles at him and shakes his head, not wanting to let on how unlikely he felt that would be now. Of all people, Blake was the one he wanted to tell everything to right now, he could really use his advice, but this wasn’t the time.

The last part of the walk was challenging, unlike Ryan who’d been working out to get fit for his show, Jasper had just gotten by with the blessing of a slim physique and the closest he got to a work out, was dancing whenever the mood struck. By the way Simon confidently barely stopped for a breath it was clear this was pretty normal to him. Luke was keeping up quite easily but Blake and Jasper hung back trying not to look like they were dying, while unable to even talk through their puffed breaths. Once they finally hit a clearing of flat ground that Simon, Luke and Ryan had offloaded their bags at, they both simply collapse to the ground to catch their breath.

“This. Is why I don’t go outside.” Blake puffs.

“Are you guys going to help us with the tents?” Luke calls out.

“How is he not dead? Does Luke work out too or something?” Jasper sits up and looks over at Ryan, Simon and Luke who seemed way too relaxed for a bunch of people who’d just carried the heaviest bags to the top of a mountain.

“Pretty sure he use to play sports at school or something.” Blake staggers to his feet and reaches down to help Jasper up.

“No thanks, I’m just going to sleep here, my body has no will to move.” Jasper shakes his head.

“Oh he’s all yours. I tried.” Blake laughs and pats Ryan on the back as he approaches, Blake heads off to help the others.

“You ok?” Ryan crouches beside Jasper.

“You brought a wheel chair right?” Jasper jokes.

“Come on.” Ryan helps him up and pulls him in close, kissing him quickly on the lips. “It was good to see you happy before, what’d Blake say to get that laugh out of you earlier?”

“Oh, you don’t want to know. Trust me.” Jasper tells him, letting the hug last longer despite feeling like he should let Ryan go for good. “We should probably help them.” Jasper whispers when he finally gets the strength to pull himself from Ryan’s comforting arms.

“No, they’re in one tent, we’re in another. So you should help me.” Ryan smiles at him, gesturing at the tent bag he’d brought over. “If we can put this up without killing each other, we can get through anything.” Ryan gives a wink as he makes his light hearted joke. Jasper fakes a smile back and sighs.

“You’re lucky, I happen to be fantastic at these things. Given how much time I spent living in one overseas.” Jasper takes the lead and he and Ryan have theirs done in no time, finally they head back to the others who’d started on a fire. Blake was throwing sticks on it like he was preparing a bonfire, and stands back shouting victoriously when he lights it up successfully.

“So, Simon. What’s this place and what does it mean to you?” Luke asks, sounding extremely nasal and touching all around his nose gently.

“This is where my Dad brought my Mum to propose and where we spent almost all our family holidays. I also came here with my wife when she first visited the country and proposed to her here.” Simon smiles at the group.

“Well it’s a beautiful view so I can see why it’s such a special place.” Luke replies.

“I would reject the shit out of someone if they made me climb a hill to propose to me.” Jasper says quietly. Simon looks at him annoyed.

“It’s romantic.” He snaps.

“Yeah, sorry. That wasn’t a dig at you or your parents.” Jasper apologizes.

“Well I hope that doesn’t ruin your plans for the night Ryan.” Blake calls out to Ryan who was aggressively spraying himself with bug repellent.

“Of course not. Proposals should always be somewhere meaningful to the couple.” Ryan shouts back, throwing the bug repellent towards the tent and walking over to the group. “How did you propose?” He asks Simon.

“I serenaded her by the fire, then at the end of the song I gave her the ring.” Simon smiles fondly at the memory, while looking into the fire. “I came up here a bunch of times by myself for the day and would just sing my ideas for the perfect way to ask her, then when I had a song I liked written, I translated it to French and practiced that over and over until it sounded good. She was really impressed and emotional and it was beautiful.” Simon tells them.

“That’s really special.” Luke comments.

“Thanks. So that’s kinda why I wanted to bring you guys here, this is a special place for me, it holds a lot of great memories and it’s a great place, for me at least, to find musical inspiration.”

“Makes sense, It's really calming up here.” Ryan looks up at the sky, noticing the first stars appearing in the dusk. “A good place to clear your mind.” He comments quietly, lying down by the fire to continue staring into space. Jasper looks at him then up at the sky and wishes he felt the same way, genuinely confused as to how Ryan felt any kind of clarity right now, when he was questioning things in the best of times.

“Exactly.” Simon sighs and takes a seat by the fire beside Ryan.

“So just so I know before I go to sleep tonight, you proposed up here, did you guys go and screw in the tent we’re about to spend the night in?” Blake asks jokingly, although a subtle look of concern was on his teasing face.

“Don’t worry, we actually waited until marriage.” Simon answers.

“Oh what? Was she religious or something?” Blake asks, the concern now turning to curiosity. “Because if she was I’d love tips, how did you survive?”

“No, we talked about it early in the relationship and knew we were both on the same page with what we wanted together. I mean there were temptations but it was what worked for us.” Simon shrugs

“Helps that you guys lived apart right? Not as difficult when the option isn’t there. I feel like I can’t even be around Beth without feeling like I’m going insane.” Blake admits with a sigh as he turns his attention to Jasper. “I really want to respect her wishes to wait until marriage, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing when I am around her, if we kiss too much I have to make an excuse to leave because I feel like I’m going to unintentionally pressure her to change her mind on it. And she keeps talking about it, because she’s said she is considering not waiting because she knows I’m struggling but I don’t want her to give up something that is special to her, just for me. What if she did that and then we ended up breaking up and she regretted it, you know?” Blake sighs and though he was talking about a different topic, it sounded like too much of a coincidence, the way it was worded felt so pointed at Jasper and Ryan’s situation.

“Have we started story time?” Luke pipes up.

“Yes, please tell us what happened to you?” Simon directs the attention from Blake and though he had been hoping Jasper would have some useful things to say, Blake was more than happy for that to take a back seat to hear what was going on with Luke.

“Well, on the topic of proposals and marriages, Fi’s ex caught us together and we got into a fight.” Luke explains.

“Damn, I hope he got worse injuries.” Blake states, instantly railed at the thought of a fight.

“No, I didn’t throw a single punch, I was actually just standing in front of Fi so he couldn’t hit her, while I tried to talk him down in distraction so Fi could call the police. I’m pressing charges though.” Luke informs them, clearly happy with himself.

“Is she getting a restraining order?” Jasper asks, he couldn’t help but think of his sister and wonder if he should call her to check in, though he had told her he’d possibly not have reception so she wasn’t expecting to hear from him anyway.

“She’s filed a temporary order but they shared accounts so he’s frozen access to all of them. Also the house was in his name so he kicked her out. She and I are getting a place together.” Luke smiles and shrugs. “We’re also eloping on Saturday and you’re all invited.” He beams.

“What?” Everyone practically exclaims at the same time.

“Is she pregnant? Is this a shot gun wedding?” Blake teases.

“No, no. Not like that. Although, wanting a family is a big reason we are doing this so fast, Fi is actually infertile, and given how difficult and time draining the adoption process is we’re wanting to put our names down straight away. Hopefully we can have a baby or two but that’ll be a long work in progress unfortunately, usually people are on the list for years.” Luke was clearly sad to be talking about that aspect of things.

“This Saturday?” Ryan asks.

“Yeah we knew you were going away on Sunday so we thought why not just do it this weekend before you go away. Didn’t want you to miss it.” Luke smiles to Ryan, “You guys are practically family so it’s important for you guys to be there, her family won’t be able to make it and my parents think I’m making a mistake getting married so quickly but I have wanted to be with Fi forever and now that she’s finally mine I’m never letting her go. I want to make her life beautiful, no matter what that takes.”

“This is really making me think the cure to my problems is to marry Beth asap too. Since that’s the trend here. You guys better get married soon, you’ve been together for ages now.” Blake suggests to Ryan. Ryan just smiles at him and looks at Jasper.

“I’m quiet happy just enjoying this stage, not making things too serious.” He was clearly starting to feel like these topics were a bit too coincidental too. They were both unprepared for how close to home the conversation was about to turn.

“So eloping and planning a family, that’s a really big deal Luke, congrats.” Simon shakes Luke’s hand.

“Well like I said, it’ll take a long time for us but better to get onto that now and end up being parents earlier than expected, than miss some kind of lucky window by waiting.”

“Yeah, when my wife moves over here once her Visa is approved, we’re hoping to start trying for a baby too.” Simon answers.

“Yo, did you know Beth wants 5 kids?” Blake turns his attention back to Jasper who was completely deflated by the topic.

“5? Wow, no we never talked about it. I think she asked me about kids once and I said ‘ew’ then she argued that kids aren’t ‘ew' and I hadn’t been talking about the kid part so we never spoke about it again. Do you want that many?” Jasper asks.

“Never thought about it, but I guess why not? I reckon I could handle a small tribe of kids. Besides, it’s just the plan right? We might have two and decide that’s enough for us, or we might get to five and think we’re not done after all. I’m not ruling anything out.” Blake tells him.

“I’ve gotta pee.” Jasper lies and gets up, truthfully he just wanted to escape the conversation and get as far away as he could to cry, he hadn’t let himself yet, but he could feel himself losing control of his emotions. Jasper wanders off into the darkness of the trees and bushes off to the side of the campsite, holding his phone up to light his way as he gets far enough that he can still see the glimmer of the camp fire. He leans against a tree and allows himself to let out all the tears he’d been holding back all day. The combination of exhaustion, stress and fears had become overwhelming and he couldn’t keep it together anymore now that the opinions from his friends had added confusion to the mix of feelings he’d already been struggling against.

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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