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Do You Ship Us? - 6. Relationships

“Hello!” A young woman dressed in a grey suit, dyed red hair pulled back in a messy bun, large gold hoop earrings and a layer of bright make-up that made her look almost like a doll, enters the room where Simon, Luke and Ryan are waiting.

“Hey Fi.” Luke smiles at her. There was something about her presence that seemed to set off a spark in the room. It was like a bubble of energy had walked into the room, the dimples in her cheeks accentuating a heartfelt smile, and her bright green eyes were full of mischief. The moment she passes Luke Ryan catches him looking her up and down.

“Good Morning. I didn’t know you were coming around today?” Simon frowns, checking his watch distractedly as Jasper and Blake walk in the room laughing to each other about something, both with large Macdonalds' coffee cups in their hands.

“You’re late, again.” Simon scolds them but they don’t seem to care. Ryan had noticed that Jasper had two facial expressions, a look of that was fused between being confused and disappointed, and one that basically said 'try me'. The confused look was reserved for Ryan, the other one was what everyone else seemed to cop every minute of every day. Like he was just waiting for someone to say the right kind of remark he had a calculated comeback for. Ryan was somewhat convinced Jasper had a mental journal of surprising ways to insult or piss people off because he was shockingly good at it. Simon was often the receiver of it at the dorms, mostly because Luke clearly had the right idea of not falling for his taunting whereas Simon clearly thought he would at some point actually get through to him on how to behave properly. Jasper was immature, that was the biggest conclusion Ryan had drawn in his short amount of time knowing him. It was refreshing at times, to sit back and see the way Jasper and Blake bounced their banter off one another, but other times Ryan could see it as just being a pain for the sake of it and the other members getting tired of it.

“Good morning to you too, Simon.” Blake rolls his eyes. “It’s only like, 5 past which is pretty good for us you have to admit, we got held up in traffic.” Blake shrugs. The first day they had come to work as a group in Simon's car, three of them squished in the back. Since then Luke and Ryan had kept traveling to and from work in Simon's car, while Jasper and Blake would swan in unaware of the time most days and not giving even a third of a shit about it.

“You guys weren't home this morning I was worried.” Simon continues his lecture while Luke steps closer to Fi, engaging her in a conversation that was not so subtly filled with a barrage of compliments first.

“Sorry ‘mum’, next time I will text you.” Jasper assures him sarcastically.

"You say that every time!" Simon pinches the bridge of his nose, tired of him already today. There was something about the way Jasper was so blatantly cheeky that Ryan enjoyed. Though when he was on the receiving end of one of Jasper's remarks it'd sometimes keep him up at night, but he hadn't started to tire of seeing the ridiculous amount of fun Jasper was having at everyone else's expense, yet. He admired the confidence Jasper had, to carry himself with such an untouchable sense of cockiness.

"Yeah, and every time, we turn up with coffee, we're literally always just out getting coffee." Jasper replies with the fake smile he put on when he was only pretending to care what was being said to him. “Hey Fi, what are you doing here? Did our manager forget to tell us another thing that was changing?” Jasper asks, holding his coffee close to his heart like it was warming his whole soul.

“I was sent in to meet the new boy, since I hear you’re doing a T.V show performance next week.” Fi smiles at Ryan who was looking between her and his band mates wondering what was going on.

“Ah yes, eye candy over here.” Jasper smirks and looks at Ryan. “Fi’s in charge of making sure we look good for basically any occasion where people will be looking at us, interviews and whatnot. She was away the last week or you would have met her before now. She’s the one we pitch outfit ideas to before shows and events and if you want your hair changed or anything you have to run it past her first. Kiss goodbye your physical autonomy, yes, even that is not your choice anymore.” Jasper explains to Ryan who nods while he listens. “You’ve got your work cut out here.” Jasper spins on his heel, turning his attention back to Fi.

“I see that, I barely feel like I will deserve the pay rise.” Fi jokes playfully as she walks closer to Ryan. “You deserve it for having to put up with the rest of us.” Luke tells her, a big grin on his face and his eyes not looking away from her own smile.

"Don't mind me." Fi smiles as she looks at him like she's mapping out his features. Everything from the colour of his eyes, to the structure of his cheek bones and as she gently holds his chin and turns his head to see his profile Ryan flinches and steps back uncomfortably, giving an embarrassed laugh. "Sorry, I'm handsy. These guys are use to it." Fi apologizes and steps away, recognizing something in Ryan's reaction.

“She’s very single, just in case you're wondering.” Jasper glances at Ryan with a devious smile that makes him and Fi both take another step away from each other.

“No I’m not.” Fi's confidence falters for only a moment as she takes another step back then plucks a pen from her hair bun and pulls a note pad from her pocket, her eyes flicking from Ryan's face to the note pad as she writes.

“Oh did you meet a nice guy while you were away last week?” Jasper asks her, sipping at his coffee slowly.

“No...” Fi starts and the group shares a collective sigh. “Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you Ryan. I look forward to finding ways to show off all your best features, of which you have plenty."

"Wait until you see him shirtless." Jasper adds.

"I should get going now, this wasn’t meant to be a long visit. I’ve got to go.” Fi turns, her head down as she quickly makes her way to the door, not looking back as she walks out.

“You had to bring it up.” Luke scoffs, shaking his head at Jasper annoyed.

“Didn’t she say she was leaving him? I didn’t think she was still seeing that moron.” Jasper retorts defensively.

“Just maybe don’t ask about other people’s relationships.” Luke suggests with a shrug, putting his hands in his pockets and pulling his phone out.

“Maybe you should stop crushing on women that are taken.” Jasper comments back, as if it was somehow Luke's fault. “You guys ask me about my relationship all the time, so don’t give me that shit.”

“Because I’m genuinely astonished she hasn’t given up on you. I don’t know what Beth sees in you anyway, the way you treat her.” Luke snaps at Jasper, stepping closer to him in the first attempt Ryan had seen of Luke trying to call him out on his behaviour.

“And yet I have a girlfriend, seems like I’m the only one capable of finding someone that isn’t already taken.”

"Finding someone." Blake says with air quotes and Jasper shoots him a glare like he was about to share information the others weren't to know about, leading Ryan to wonder what exactly was the arrangement, Blake seemed to know but why not the rest of the group?

“And doing what with her? Since you decided you want to wait for marriage to do anything with her and find any excuse you can to ignore phone calls and to avoid seeing her, you even try to push it in Blake’s face by getting him to play the part of the caring boyfriend for you. Pretty sure you don't even like Beth.” Luke was clearly being defensive, Jasper shrugs running his fingers through his hair and turning his attention to Ryan.

“Did the manager say anything to you about whether we’re doing the vocal training stuff today or not?” He asks, trying to deflect from the accusations Luke were throwing his way, accusations that Ryan wanted to know more about, actually. Though in front of Jasper all he could do was default to following along with what Jasper wanted.

“Oh I haven't seen him yet.” Ryan answers, by the looks on the other guys faces that was the first thing they’d heard him say all morning. Jasper nods and turns, walking towards the door before calling out that he would go and ask. Anything to get out of this conversation. As soon as Jasper is out of the room Simon turns to Blake with a sly smile.

“He’s never going to marry her is he?” He asks.

“Nah, but on the bright side, you never know when you need a virgin to sacrifice.” Blake shrugs, giving a laugh at his own joke.

“He does want us to do vocal training every morning.” Jasper opens the door and calls out to Ryan. Ryan nods, grabs his water bottle and nervously says a quiet goodbye to the other members, exiting the room and following Jasper into the next room. Jasper walks to the back, sits on the edge of the desk and watches Ryan walk with his head down. “Nervous again?” Jasper asks.

“Not about singing.” Ryan shrugs and looks up at Jasper who smiles at him curiously.

“About singing in front of someone so intimidating?” Jasper guesses, chewing his lip. Still a little too pleased with himself, for all the wasted time everyone else spent challenging him back, he enjoyed the dynamic with Ryan. Ryan did too, because he suspected he was seeing a side of Jasper that the others didn't get to. The side that had an undertone of kindness to his comments. Because despite the comment about being 'intimidating', Jasper wasn't trying to use that against Ryan. In fact he'd make the joke and spend the rest of their morning encouraging him, advising him where he can improve and finding alternative ways for Ryan to sing so that he's voice wasn't strained. He cared, for someone that was a relentlessly careless person around everyone else.

With the conversation about Jasper's girlfriend on his mind though, Ryan felt like maybe this time he could give some advice, that he could let Jasper know that he doesn't have to hold onto the act around him.

“For the record. I use to tell people I was waiting until marriage until I worked out why I had no interest in being physical with anyone.” Ryan states, noticing Jasper’s smirk leave his face, he was looking down at the floor now, only looking at Ryan again as he stops talking.

"Uh, for the record, it’s not your business what I do in my relationship. And just because the other guys are talking about it, doesn’t give you the right to. They have been my friends for ages and they know me better than you do. If you think commenting on my relationship is how you’re going to fit in here...” Jasper starts, and Ryan realizes how wrong he had been in his judgement. Just because Jasper was a little kinder to him than everyone else, didn't mean they were friends. At all.

“No, no that’s not what I meant, I just wanted you to know I understand and...” Ryan tries to smooth things over, mortified for having caused tension between them.

“I don’t want to talk about any of this, because you have no idea. Just sing.” Jasper orders then sighs frustrated, he runs his fingers through his fringe and sighs again. “Sorry. I’m just in a bit annoyed about everything right now. It’s not personal. Don’t suppose you have anything that could calm me down.” He jokes, but Ryan didn’t seem impressed with the suggestion of sharing what Jasper had assumed was drugs. The air between them heavy with misunderstandings from both sides. “Sorry, I’m not in the best mood this morning. Can we start again?” He asks. Ryan just nods, Jasper just turns around and takes a deep breath then turns back to Ryan and smiles at him. “Good morning.” He says with a bright smile.

“Good morning.” Ryan laughs, relieved that they were moving on from that uncomfortable moment.

“Have you warmed up your voice?”

“Not yet.”

“That’s alright, we can warm up together, take it at your own pace, you know your limits.” Jasper starts leading them through warm ups. He was glad to be away from the others for the start of the day, hoping they wouldn’t still want to talk about him when he got back to them later. Any time he had to talk about his relationship he felt judged and frustrated because there was enough he didn’t understand about it himself, at least he could enjoy focusing on singing with someone who hadn’t known him long enough to judge him. Though what Ryan had said kept coming back to his mind, that telling people he was waiting until marriage was a convenient excuse for not having to confront why there was no spark when he was with Beth.

Claire Rosalind
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The tensions are rising... Jasper needs to work on his behavior, he has a short fuse. I feel like Ryan should've been paired up with any of the other boys for those vocal lessons. :P 

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