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Do You Ship Us? - 61. Replacements

“I knew you guys would turn up while I was out. I hope the drive was alright and that Flynn carried your stuff up. I just realized there was no real food in this place and I’ve got to have actual food to feed you.” Jasper calls out to Grace as he starts unpacking groceries.

“Jasper, seriously don’t fuss over me. I‘ve had enough of that for a life time the last week.” Grace mumbles annoyed as she gets up from the couch and waddles towards him, caressing her bump.

“I don’t think making sure I have food for us is fussing but ok.” Jasper rolls his eyes at her grumpiness and pulls out his phone.

“I can’t eat anything anyway, I have heartburn so bad that even water is painful to drink and all I want, ALL I WANT is soft serve ice-cream.” Grace whines.

“Did the nurses give you anything for heartburn and do you want me to go and get you ice-cream?” Jasper asks, glancing up from his phone. “How many weeks are you?” He asks.

“I can’t eat soft serve, it’s one of those things that pregnant people can’t have for whatever reason.” Grace throws her hands up in the air in despair then notices Jasper only half listening while he looks at his phone. “What are you doing?”

“I’m looking up hormonal phases during pregnancy.” Jasper replies with a cheeky smile as her jaw drops open.

“Are you kidding me! Are you serious right now? Oh my god it’s lucky you’re gay because you have no idea how to treat a pregnant woman. Rule number one, NEVER comment on hormones!” Grace snaps, she felt completely infuriated but Jasper was not taking her seriously one bit, making the mistake of laughing. “Are you laughing at me?”

“No, I’m laughing because it’s definitely lucky that I am never going to get anyone pregnant. All seriousness though, I’m not judging you for being hormonal or anything, I just want you to be comfortable here and I’ll do whatever I can to help you out. So the bedroom is yours, and is there anything I can get you for your heartburn?” Jasper asks, leading the way to his room.

“Ew I have to sleep in your room?” Grace gawks, following him reluctantly, scuffing her feet on the floor.

“I think you mean, thank you. I mean, where did you think you were going to sleep, on the couch? I might be insensitive but I’m not going to make a pregnant woman sleep on the couch.” Jasper tells her, watching her pull a disgusted face. “What?”

“It’s just, you and Ryan... that’s the bed you guys....”

“Sleep in?” Jasper asks, giving her a challenging look. “I bought brand new sheets for you and everything. If it’s any consolation, we haven’t fucked, so you don’t need to worry about sleeping in a bed two guys fucked in.” Jasper rolls his eyes annoyed.

“It’s not like that.”

“Sure it isn’t.” Jasper rolls his eyes again. “You’ve been here for like, 5 minutes and you’ve already made a joke about me being gay and gotten all grossed out at the idea of sleeping in a bed I shared with another man. As if it’s not like that.” Jasper walks away from Grace, not wanting to argue with her, whether he couldn’t be bothered or whether he didn’t feel as if it was worth the argument he didn’t know, but he simply had no drive for the fight.

“Did you have a bad day at work?” Grace asks, his mood impossible to not notice. Jasper shrugs and walks towards his bedroom.

“Haven’t been to work this week, it was meant to be Luke’s week to make us do stuff, but he went and got married so, bed, bathroom, through there.” He gestures to the door. “Help yourself to anything in the fridge and cupboards and whatnot, just let me know if I need to get anything for you. Sorry there’s not much variety of food, Ryan went a little, obsessive into health foods before he went away so we’ve got a house full of protein and cauliflower but please, please tell me your baby is craving jam doughnuts or something.” Jasper begs jokingly. Grace just laughs and shakes her head.

“I’m not very hungry. And everything is painful to eat anyway.” She sighs, looking down at the bump.

“What did the doctors say about your weight and size? Because you’re pretty small.” Jasper comments.

“It’s better than getting fat. Baby is fine, healthy. So there’s nothing to worry about.” Grace walks into the bedroom and frowns. “Why is this so boring in here? There’s no photos or anything. Are you sure you live here? It’s not very homely.”

“People still print out photos? I guess I didn’t want it to look too ‘gay’ for you.” He says sarcastically. Grace turns to him and gives a heavy sigh.

“Look, I’m sorry. I really don’t have a problem with you, I’m not one to talk about who you should and shouldn’t love. I just struggle to get my mind out of how we were raised.” Grace admits.

“I know, I get that.” Jasper crosses his arms and shrugs.

“Do you still believe in any of the stuff we were raised to believe in?” Grace asks.

“Oh, wow. Don’t make me regret deciding to quit drinking this week.” Jasper laughs nervously, wishing he did have a drink to hide behind right now.

“I guess you can’t really, given how you are now. I probably sound super hypocritical too, but I want to raise my daughter to be Christian. I don’t want her to turn out the way I did.” Grace comments. “But I also don’t want to be like Mum was to us.” She chews her lip and eyes Jasper curiously.

“I don’t think its hypocritical so much, more that it’s probably how every single parent thinks. Everyone wants to have good kids that grow into good people. No matter what we were taught though, we are good people. Honestly I do still find comfort in having a faith to believe in, I just resent that we were raised to be so hateful and judgemental towards people who didn’t fit a certain description. Taught to think we were flawed for having thoughts and feelings that were completely normal. The way they imposed all their ‘Gods Will’ crap on you about how to be a good wife and to submit to your husband and to have no voice in the relationship, no wonder you ended up not feeling empowered and strong enough to leave when things started going bad with your sperm donor. That kind of stuff I don’t agree with at all.” Jasper explains.

“But you still do believe there is a God?” Grace asks.

“I don’t believe that if there is some higher power out there with some perfect plan for our lives, then wouldn’t this all be part of his plan? I trust there is a reason for every single challenge and path we take, but I think it’s all part of what was planned for our lives. I don’t have all the answers, but I know I have this lifetime so I am not wasting it under the guise that I will have a good afterlife.” Jasper answers, Grace doesn’t say anything else, she just nods and looks around uncomfortably. “Cool, well if we’re done talking about why I’m not right and everything I do is condemning me to a life in hell, then I’m going to go and start dinner.” Jasper shrugs, turning and leaving the room. Grace follows him out and while he gets started grabbing out ingredients she notices a note book on the bench.

“Oooooh, is this your diary?” She reaches for it but Jasper makes no attempt to stop her.

“What am I, a 13 year old girl? It’s for song ideas.” He rolls his eyes. Grace grabs it and flips it open, flipping through the empty pages, looking up at Jasper confused. “Yeah, so song writing isn’t going so well at the moment. I just keep it near me at all times in case I get struck with inspiration because I’m getting desperate, we’re supposed to be all working on new albums, but I cannot think of a single chorus, let alone a whole mini album worth of songs. What’s more is we’re supposed to be doing whole weeks focusing on what inspires us and I don’t know how I’m going to do that when I don’t even know who I am right now.” He complains as he cuts things for dinner.

“How long has Ryan been gone?” Grace asks.

“A week, why?”

“Become a bit co-dependent have you?” She smiles as she asks, but Jasper doesn’t take it lightly.

“Honestly, I don’t know how long it’s been since I felt like I knew who I was and what I wanted. Probably since I auditioned for this fucking band. I came into this career with such high hopes and ambitions and then Chris just ruined it for us and there’s been so many changes and it feels like they’ve all been such big changes, who we work for, where I live, who I live with, you being pregnant, me being with Ryan in the first place. I’ve just really lost my sense of self and what my goal is. It’s surprisingly hard to try to write music when you’re overwhelmed by so many big life changes.” Jasper cuts a bit more aggressively, then sighs as he puts the pasta in a pot, throws the other ingredients into a pan and then gets started on mixing the sauce.

“Well, you were originally inspired in church, you use to love singing along at services. Then you would get in trouble at Sunday school because you’d keep singing and distract the group. You organized the choir yourself when you were 9 but fired the only 2 other kids that wanted to join you because of ‘artistic differences’. I distinctly remember you telling them that because I had to ask Mum what that phrase even meant.” Grace laughs while she thinks back to their childhood.

“None of that helps.” Jasper laughs too. “I can’t exactly get the guys singing bible songs, Blake will turn into flames if he sings them, I’m sure. That’s just one form of blasphemy too far.”

“Well no, but if you’re going through what inspired you musically, it’s part of your life. It doesn’t matter that you don’t listen to it anymore or believe it anymore. That’s just how it goes. Besides I think you only liked those songs because you were allowed to listen to and sing them. What about when you first started listening to regular pop music, that’s probably a huge part of your inspiration.”

“It was that time we snuck out to the school disco because the guy you liked asked you out. We were caught and grounded for a month, which was dumb because we never went anywhere anyway, other than school and church? We lost nothing. Then I realized if I got up really early on weekends I could watch music programs before they even woke up, those were good times. I felt like such a rebel.”

“We should sneak out to a club!” Grace suggests.

“You’re a bit too pregnant for clubbing don’t you think?” Jasper points at her tummy. Grace looks down and sighs then looks back up at Jasper and nods sadly. “Maybe when you’ve had the baby, we can leave Ryan to babysit and go out together. Might pump the breaks on his talking about having kids someday if he’s left alone to be sleepless with a screaming baby for a night.” Jasper jokes.

“Awww he wants kids? That’s amazing, our kids will grow up close in age!” Grace beams at him excitedly. Jasper just widens his eyes and shakes his head at her dramatically. “Why not? Come on, my baby is going to need company, it’d be awesome to have a cousin close in age, since she’ll likely be an only child for at least a long time. She’ll need company, remember how much fun we had growing up?” Grace urges.

“Girl, you’re not talking me into having a kid any time soon. I am nowhere near ready to even consider kids.”

“I’d have kids with Ryan.” Grace sighs dreamily.

“Uh-huh.” Jasper rolls his eyes. “I’ll remind you of that comment when you’re giving birth and we’ll see if having more kids is something you’re thinking about then.” He smiles as he watches Grace cringe at his words.

“Touche’.” She chews her lip. “Hey, speaking of Ryan’s moves though, isn’t it the first episode of his dance show tonight? What time does it start? What’s his dance partner like?” Grace asks, taking out her phone and looking it up for herself. “Jasper! You are the worst boyfriend, the show has already started!” Grace says as she gets up and goes to the TV, quickly turning it on and flicking to the right channel just as the introductions of all the dancers are finishing. Jasper could feel his heart racing as he refuses to look up at the tv upon hearing the first couple talking about what their first week of practice was like. He busies himself aggressively cleaning the dishes as he tries to put Grace’s words out of his head. Truth be told he did feel like the worst boyfriend for not being keen to watch Ryan make his TV debut but he was still feeling so incredibly hurt that he didn’t think he would be able to see him dancing with someone else without feeling like his fears were coming to fruition.


“Jasper!” Luke grins at him the moment Jasper walks into the living area of Luke and Fi’s house, that only a week ago was nothing but empty rooms with only wedding cake and champagne in the fridge. Tonight however it’d gone from being the place of a wedding ceremony to a fully decked out house party, which seemed overboard given that Jasper was the first person to arrive of only the handful of guests, but clearly Fi was going stir crazy waiting for a job to do and had taken her creative styling work out on their new home. Luke rushes over with a drink in hand and passes it to Jasper. “What do you think of the place now?” He asks as he throws his arms out dramatically gesturing at the room.

“Well I’ll have to see it without all the party lights and whatnot but It's definitely coming together isn’t it? Looks like a place people live in. How’d you pull this all off so quickly?”

“Didn’t you get a payment from Chris yet? I know me and Simon got our first of many cheques, mine was enough for the house deposit and Fi had been saving her payout from when Chris fired her for no reason. Well I say saving it, the moment we got our marriage certificate in the mail Fi started working on completely separating her finances from her ex and he was forced to un-freeze her account finally. Thanks to him her money has been dormant and just collecting interest for years so there was a silver lining on that fiasco.” Luke smiles admiringly as he looks around the room. “Oh, we watched the show last night too, how good was Ryan?! What a way to start the show, not bad for a first performance, right?!” Luke was so excitable, a side to him Jasper hadn’t really seen but obviously married life was going well for him, which only seemed to polarize the lack of enthusiasm Jasper was feeling about his own life.

“Of course, it’s his thing.” Jasper replies trying not to sound completely uninterested but also not wanting to give much room for the conversation to go further. “So what are we doing for your week of ‘influence’, because starting it with a house party is a pretty high bar to set.” Jasper attempts to lead the attention away from Ryan.

“Honestly, I have no idea. I swapped with Blake for this week because I’m still wrapping my head around my life today, let alone trying to go back to what led me here, you know?” Luke sighs contently.

“I know that feeling.” Jasper mutters under his breath.

“Anyway, what’d you think of his partner? I mean I know you 'aren't the jealous type' but…” Luke trails off momentarily as Blake walks in. “Blake will agree with me!”

“Don’t drag me into whatever drama you are starting. It’s too early and I’ve not started drinking yet.” Blake calls out, then catches Jasper’s eye and gives him a nod. “Are we here before Simon?” He asks, a look of genuine astonishment on his face.

“There’s a first for everything.” Jasper laughs as Blake walks up and high-fives him.

“He’d be so proud of us.” Blake fakes wiping a tear from his eye.

“If only he were here to see it.” Jasper says with a solemn tone, his joke cracking Blake up.

“We were talking about Ryan’s first performance, did you watch it?” Luke asks eagerly, interjecting the fun moment Blake and Jasper were having, Blake glances from Luke back at Jasper who fakes a smile to him and has a long sip of his drink.

“Yeah, what about it?” Blake asks.

“His dance partner is fine isn’t she. A little hard to concentrate on the dance when she was wearing that outfit, right?” Luke looks to Blake for support but Blake just rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Oh come on. You would have been looking, even Fi was commenting on her abs.” Luke preaches.

“Luke, come on dude. Read the room.” Blake cocks his head in Jasper’s direction while giving Luke a stern look. Jasper had moved away from them and was looking at a magazine on the coffee table in an attempt to distract himself from the conversation and then block them out. Luke’s shoulders drop and he looks back at Blake, realizing Jasper was not in the mood for to hear about Ryan’s partner.

“Ryan was awesome though, I bet you were proud of him.” Luke tries to turn the conversation back to something Jasper was comfortable with.

“Yeah.” Jasper answers. “Does she really have abs?” he asks, not sure he wanted to actually hear the answer.

“How did you not notice, she wasn’t wearing enough…” Luke stops as Blake drops his water bottle, pretending it was unintentional when both Luke and Jasper look at him, but he takes the opportunity to glare at Luke and mouth the words 'shut up' at him when Jasper turns away again.

“Look, I didn’t take much notice of her and in all honesty I don’t want to really. I am trying to take this time to focus on myself and part of that for me, is not indulging my curiosity and the subsequent paranoia or comparison that I am sure will come with seeing him with someone else every week for the whole competition. I watched last night, and the fact one of the judges said they had a 'natural chemistry' kept me awake for hours last night. That’s where it is at, I am trying to save myself unnecessary stress ok?”

“Sorry to have brought it up. I am sure he’s missing you anyway, definitely seemed like that when the host asked about you.” Luke gives him a comforting smile.

“Yeah sure, because if he’s off dancing with little Miss abs, all day everyday I’m sure he’s setting aside some time to think about me and the fact that I am more pizza and alcohol than person some days. Nothing more attractive. He’s probably really missing me, you’re right.” Jasper sighs pinching at his stomach. Blake walks over to him and smacks his hand.

“Don’t even start moron, all you’re pinching is skin.” He rolls his eyes. “And if he knows what’s good for him, he’ll be thinking about you every free second he has.” Blake tells him in a quieter voice so Luke couldn’t hear him.

“That’s not reassuring, because he doesn’t exactly have a track record of knowing what’s good for him.” Jasper mutters and crosses his arms. “I didn’t watch it. Exactly how hot is Ry’s dance partner?” Jasper gives Blake a stern look, demanding honesty from his best friend.

“Jasper.” Blake holds him by the shoulders, mirroring his serious expression. “She has a boyfriend, so does Ryan. Regardless of how attractive she is, you do not need to worry about it. In fact, imagine how her boyfriend probably feels knowing she’s partnered up with Ryan.” He says comfortingly, but before Jasper gets too long to feel reassured he kills it with his usual smart ass kind of comment. “I definitely picked the easier one to steal a girl from between the two of you.” Blake jokes.

“Well done, you tried.” Jasper pats Blake on the shoulder faking appreciation.

“I at the very least cheered you up, right?”

“How do you know she has a boyfriend?” Jasper asks, eying Blake suspiciously. Blake groans and tips his head back.

“You just have to ask a follow up question don’t you. I looked her up on Instagram alright.”

“Oh and Beth was cool with you looking at another woman’s page?”

“I think she’s just glad it was a woman I was looking at, would have probably bothered her more if I was looking at Ryan.” He smirks at Jasper as he rolls his eyes and continues his questioning.

“Is her boyfriend hot?”

“I wouldn’t sleep with him, does that help?” Blake asks.

“About as much as a screen door on a submarine.” Jasper rolls his eyes again. “Between him and Ry…”

“Good morning.” Simon strolls in casually. “Sorry I am late.” He smiles at the group and claps his hands together, rubbing them nervously. “I was inspired by Luke’s romantic gesture and the way Ryan performed the ceremony and decides I needed to do something. So, I would like to introduce you all to my wife.” Simon turns and gestures towards the door as a flawlessly stunning young woman walks in, nervously smiling at the guys before her. Blake’s mouth falls open and Luke makes a conscious attempt to not stare at her for too long. “This is Kara.” Simon introduces when she gets to his side, he sweeps his arm around her waist and holds her close.

“Hi, lovely to meet you, I’m Luke.” Luke waves from the other side of the room.

“I’m Jasper, this is Blake.” Jasper nudges Blake to snap him out of staring.

“Hello.” Kara smiles. “Simon’s told me a lot about you all.” She looks at Simon and he looks back at her, the warmth in the way they gazed at each other made Jasper turn away sadly.

“Just what I need, more happy couples rubbing it in my face.” He mutters to Blake.

“At least Ryan’s not here.” Blake shrugs, looking past Jasper at Kara.

“Why’s that?”

“Because she’s definitely hotter than his dance partner.” Blake comments quietly, Jasper scoffs and punches him playfully in the shoulder. “Ow.” Blake rubs his shoulder but doesn’t look away until Jasper hits him again. “Dude.” Blake glares at him.

“Dude.” Jasper mocks him. “Try to remember she’s married to one of your best friends and you’ve got a girlfriend.” He warns him quietly. “Where is she, by the way?”

“Working late.” Blake checks his watch. “Should be here soon.”

“What are you guys talking about?” Luke joins them, Jasper and Blake look over at Simon and Kara that were apparently ignorant to the fact that there were other people in the room, they were caught in a moment together kissing in the corner. “I feel like we’re all invading their privacy.” Luke lowers his voice even more and the three turn their attention away from the couple quickly. “I’m sure all he wants to do is spend time with his wife right now.”

“I wanna spend time with his wife.” Blake gets a third punch, this time right in the stomach making him keel over for a moment. “It’s a joke. Jeez.” Blake coughs, having had the wind momentarily knocked from him. “I use to laugh when you hit me, angry Jasper packs quite a punch.” Blake teases. “Speaking about spending time with people’s wives, I need to have a chat with Fi.” Blake excuses himself from Luke and Jasper and walks off to intercept Fi on her way into the room.

As the night rolls on, Jasper finds himself feeling detached from his friends, his mind kept wandering to Ryan and wondering what he was doing and whether enough time had passed to talk to him yet. The situation seemed worse because he was the only person in the room without a partner and while Blake was mindful of Jasper just after Beth arrived, as they all got into more drinks and lost in their own conversations and moods, the amount of time Jasper spent looking away uncomfortably while a couple was kissing in front of him became too frustrating to suffer through. When he finally gets to a point of thinking that no one would notice if he disappeared, he slips out of the house and decides to just take a walk and clear his head.

Curiosity gets the better of him and he takes a peek at Ryan’s instagram, seeing a photo of him and Kelsey backstage, holding up crossed fingers with a caption ‘Wish us luck! This week has been so incredible, and I’m so proud of us, can’t wait to show you what we can do!’ It was posted from Kelsey’s account, which led Jasper down the rabbit hole of scrolling back through her page, seeing all her photos and becoming increasingly stressed about how much time this flawless person was spending dancing with Ryan. When he finally gets off her page, and angrily stuffs his phone in his pocket, he realizes he’s been walking aimlessly for almost half an hour, in a neighborhood he didn’t know. There was noise coming from down the road which he feels himself gravitating towards, trusting he could at least work out where he was and be able to get an Uber from there.

As he approaches he finds that it’s a nightclub and before he knows it he is lining up, keeping his head down so strangers don’t draw attention to him if they recognize him. Jasper heads inside, glad that by this time of night the staff were probably already so done with people that they wouldn’t take notice of who he was, and the people inside were probably wasted and he could deny that he was ever there. It was fairly crowded so after he gets a drink he finds it easy to blend in on the dance floor and for the first time in a while he feels as though his problems were irrelevant and simple. Sip after sip, and song after song, the stress of the whole situation with Ryan fades away.

Jasper heads away from the dance floor for a drink of water, realizing he was starting to feel drunk. He finds himself amazed by the bartender there that was throwing cups around and making drinks like it was a performance. The bartender catches his eye and frowns at him, trying to work out who he was and for a moment Jasper is nervous then the guy approaches him at the bar and smiles.

“Seriously? Does Cruze just have a catalogue of people who look similar as back ups?” The bartender asks.

“What?” Jasper frowns and the bartender frowns at him. “Who’s Cruze?”

“You’re not Damien’s replacement?” The bartender asks and Jasper stares at him in complete disbelief. “My bad, what can I get you?”

@Copyright (2018), Claire Rosalind; All Rights Reserved.
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Luke truly isn’t that good at monitoring his mouth but nobody in the band is remotely as close to Jasper as Blake so he isn’t as good at reading his moods not to mention as a whole many of them often put their foot in it so 🤷🏻‍♂️ it was inevitable I guess. Jasper must be feeling confused & emotional as while the break felt necessary as Ryan needs a reality check that doesn’t make Jasper miss him any less. I don’t think he’d hook up with anyone else while he’s gone but people make mistakes so either one of them could potentially cross that line during their separation. Ugh, I’m not shocked that the sobriety didn’t last very long as Jasper is feeling very stressed though I’m somewhat disappointed. If it’s the same Damien that bit of info at the end is a surprise & a major coincidence. What’s Damien up to now?

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Who is Cruze ??? Tell me its not another name that Ryan uses...

Poor Jasper, I'm starting to think he needs help with all the drinking he's doing its not good, now he is going to be left wondering about what the bartender said to him....SMH, what a web.

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