“Oh you’re only 40 minutes late today, that’s an improvement.” Simon comments as Jasper walks in the room.
“You know if I knew the firstthingI’d hear this morning was a criticism, I wouldn’t have turned up at all.” Jasper was in another snappy mood, he’d been this way for the last number of weeks now, his mood had been deteriorating to a state of being nearly intolerable. Simon shoots Blake a look as though telling him to defuse the bomb that was Jasper.
“How long has Ryan been away for?” Luke asks with a friendly smile.
“7 and a half weeks.” Jasper answers, trying to act like it didn’t bother him despite having been able to answer without even thinking about it, like it wasn’t clear he’d been counting down.
“Wow, no wonder you’ve been extra bitchy.” Simon teases. Blake shakes his head, letting out a nervous laugh, he was not taking any responsibility for calming Jasper down after that comment.
“Excuse me?” Jasper crosses his arms and glares at Simon, absolutely fuming.
“I’m just saying, I know when you miss the person you love, it can get to you. I understand that...”
“You have no idea what I am feeling, so please don’t try and lecture me.” Jasper shakes his head and looks away, deciding against having this fight.
“Jas, I’m literally married to a woman in another country, I am use to going months without seeing her. I think I out of everyone, can relate. I’m trying to be, you know, there for you.” Simon frowns at Jasper’s anger.
“Yeah ok, do you usually have massive fights and leave things unresolved when she goes away so that you don’t actually know what is going on between the two of you and have to watch her every single week showing amazing chemistry with someone that is making them smile and laugh while you’ve not had a single fucking conversation? Can you relate to the things I am feeling? Really?” Jasper leaves everyone in a stunned silence for a few moments. Blake walks over and puts an arm around Jasper, holding him tightly, which even without a word was enough to make Jasper tear up. “This is bullshit. I’m sorry that my mind isn’t on the music but I have been avoiding talking to him so much that I’m starting to feel like I’m just waiting to find out that he’s not coming back for me.” He sobs.
“Have you seriously not spoken to him in 7 weeks?” Simon asks gently.
“What’d you fight about that was that bad?” Luke walks over to him too, everyone now focusing on comforting him.
“Every time I try to send him a message it starts off sounding so desperate and by the end of it, I’ve let all the feelings of being hurt through and I’m just saying things to make him feel like shit. I can’t send that to him, I mean have you guys been watching? He’s in the final four, so he’s at most going to be away for only 3 more weeks. I can’t send him a message now that puts him off and distracts or stresses him out. He needs to focus and enjoy this experience, not have me being a shit boyfriend, if he even still thinks of me as a boyfriend, and message him about my feelings now.” Jasper leans heavier against Blake as he tries to calm himself down, willing the tears away.
“Jasper, you just need to talk to him. Another 3 weeks of not knowing how he feels is a long time. No matter what you fought about, you both will benefit from closure and honestly, wasn’t he begging you to tell him if you still wanted to be with him before he left? He’s probably been shitting himself waiting to hear from you. For what it’s worth, you don’t know if he’s actually enjoying his time or if he’s out there lying awake at night going over everything and wishing he could have just handled his ex’s shit so much differently.” Blake gives Jasper a comforting squeeze, trying not to let his frustration at Ryan be too obvious while Jasper was obviously hurting.
“It can’t be that bad, you guys have been tweeting each other.” Luke comments, confused.
“Yeah to keep up appearances, if the public realized something was up then we’d have to deal with their opinions on what we are doing and I just want to work it out between ourselves. You saw the way our fans went after Blake when he made a joke about stealing me from Ryan, he got literal death threats. If people knew we weren’t good we would be copping that same kind of drama. I feel stupid about the whole fight, but I was just so sick of Damien turning up and Ryan thinking that being nice to him will stop him intruding on us again. I hate the whole situation!” Jasper takes a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling, trying to stop himself from crying.
“Maybe you should go home.” Simon sighs, realizing how badly he’d misread this situation and feeling immense guilt.
“NoI’ve already wasted enough of everyone’s time by being a sook about this.” Jasper wipes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“I mean, no offence but you’re not really helping anyone by moping around here either. You’ve skipped your turn to tell us all about what influences your music and you’ve not written a single song. Go home and write all your stupid thoughts down and when you’re done, pick the things that are actually constructive and send him just that part. Letdoof all the other thoughts that aren’t going to help.” Luke suggests. Jasper looks at him for a few long moments then rolls his eyes.
“Might even make a song out of it, or at least solve my writer’s block.” He jokes, rubbing his face and looking at all his friends again.
“You seriously need to talk to Ryan and sort your shit out. I’m sure It's not doing him any good either, not hearing from you either so go and work it out and come back tomorrow focused on something actually productive.” Simon orders. Jasper fakes a smile and nods, then turns and walks out without another word.
It had become something of a routine for Blake and Flynn to come over for dinner with Jasper and Grace since their first dinner together weeks back, although the ulterior motives were clear as day. Blake was basically babysitting Jasper to keep him from drinking which made it that much more torturous to sit and watch Grace and Flynn pretend that they weren’t interested in each other, tonight though after Jasper had been sent home to sort his relationship out, Blake had one more ulterior motive.
“Seriously, he’s in the top 4, this is the first semi final, you have to watch him.” Blake tells Jasper as he takes over with the tv remote, putting it on the channel that Ryan’s performance was on.
“Maybe he’ll stuff it all up, get eliminated and be on a flight home tomorrow.” Jasper shrugs, still faking complete disinterest, though he was almost glad he was being forced to watch Ryan finally. He was proud of course, that Ryan was in the top 4 but he was at a point where he had started resenting that Ryan was away for so long and much to his own guilt, he felt awful to even admit it, but the fact Ryan was respecting that Jasper had asked him not to contact him, was starting to piss him off. After 7 weeks he thought surely Ryan would crack and send him a message, and even though he’d asked for this break, he was annoyed that it didn’t seem to be bothering Ryan more.
“Just shut up and be impressed.” Blake orders, turning the volume up as the show starts. Jasper makes cynical and pessimistic comments the whole show, only falling silently as he sees Ryan and Kelsey’s practice week montage begin. Ryan looked happy, he and Kelsey laughing throughout their dance rehearsals. Jealousy was building inside him rapidly, which was bad luck considering how much worse it was about to get. As the lights come up on the stage and music starts playing, Jasper realizes what all the comments about Ryan and Kelsey’s chemistry were about. They danced together so flawlessly, which was unfortunate because this weeks’ challenge had been focusing on showing a seductive and sexy side. It felt like torture for the 4 minutes it went on for, Jasper lets out an annoyed sigh and sinks back against the couch.
“Maybe not the best one for you to watch.” Grace comments, breaking the silence. Jasper glares at Blake who puts his hands up defensively to plead innocence but Jasper just looks back at the TV as his boyfriend and his dance partner are congratulated by the host.
“Wow guys that wasincredible!What a performance! Now, tell me Ryan, what would Jasper have made of that?” The host asks, holding the microphone in front of Ryan who smiles and laughs then licks his lips.
“Look, Jasper’s not the jealous type, he’s in the entertainment industry and knows what it’s about, if anything he probably made notes of the things that we could have done to improve the performance.” Ryan answers smoothly. Jasper feels everyone in the room looking at him.
“See, they ask him that kind of stuff every week and he alwaysanswersthem so well.” Grace assures him then struggles to get up from the couch, Flynn helping her up.
“You ok?” Flynn asks gently.
“Ugh, get a room.” Jasper calls out then looks over at them. “Wait, I take that back.”
“I’m fine I’m just going to go to bed, this baby is in a really uncomfortable position. Goodnight guys.” Grace waves and disappears into Jasper’s bedroom.
“Soooo.” Blake turns to Jasper. “Sorry I made you watch that particular one, I swear that’s not how it’s been the rest of the time.”
“No, no. It’s fine. It’s been eye-opening.” Jasper says sarcastically.
“But seriously, what did you think?” Blake asks.
“What do you want me to say Blake? He’s good at what he does, obviously. He didn’t make it to the top 4 being a shit dancer.Clearlythey are good together, they are two very talented dancers in a show for dancers.” Jasper sighs. “I’m glad he’s doing well and having fun and they are getting along, but it’s honestly making me insecure so I didn’t enjoy that and I’ll probably be upall nightthinking about how it looked a little too natural the way they were ‘dancing’ just now.” He sighs again and crosses his arms.
“Come on it’s not like that though, she has a boyfriend and...”
“Yeah and my boyfriend was just borderline groping her on national TV. Forgive me for not being super pleased with that.” Jasper snaps frustrated.
“How can I make it up to you?” Blake asks.
“You don’t have to make it up to me, just go home and let me sulk.” Jasper suggests. Blake apologizes again and he and Flynn head out, leaving Jasper to his own thoughts. Although he had no intention of listening to any of his thoughts tonight. Like most nights, after Blake was gone and Grace in bed, Jasper heads out for some ‘fresh air’ that conveniently ended in him being in a bar. He felt bad sneaking around like this, but he was also convinced that it wasn’t such a bad thing.
“Hey, you’re here again.” A handsome guy sits beside Jasper at the bar.
“You too then, I guess.” Jasper shrugs and finishes his drink.
“Well I do work here.” The guy laughs back.
“Oh sorry, I’m having a bit of a self-pity phase so I haven’t paid much attention.” Jasper admits and looks across the bar to the bartender who was on his phone at the other end. “I guess I’m not the only one not paying attention.” He says sarcastically.
“Jethro.” The guy beside Jasper calls out to get the bartender’s attention then points at Jasper.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize you were finished already.” Jethro walks back to Jasper, takes the empty glass and asks if Jasper wants a refill as Jasper hands him money.
“That was passive aggressive.” Jasper comments under his breath.
“He’s got some stuff going on. What about you? You’ve been here pretty frequently lately, are you all good?”
“I’m fine.” Jasper shrugs, he didn’t know what he could realistically blame his mood on anymore, so the easiest answer was to brush it off.
“I’ve been working a bar long enough to know when someone isn’t ‘fine’.”
“It’s not your business.” Jasper states, starting on his new drink the moment it is placed in front of him, with a decent gulp.
“Sure, can I at least cheer you up?”
“Good luck, I’m pretty committed to being miserable tonight.” Jasper shrugs, having another big sip.
“Ah, a line of shots will loosen you up, you game?” There was a glimmer of something in his eyes, that drew Jasper in, the temptation impossible to ignore.
“Sure.” Jasper shrugs and watches at the man orders four tequila shots, placed with lemon wedges on the top and a salt shaker beside them. “Oh cool, I haven’t actually done it this way before.” Jasper sits up a little straighter.
“See, you’re excited already. Now, how much fun do you want to make this? Because if you want to make this really interesting, you can lick the salt off me, and suck the lemon wedge from my lips?” The man gives him a cheeky smile that was hard to refuse, he was very charismatic and led with such confidence that he was obviously aware that he was influential. He seemed like trouble, but Jasper was feeling particularly subjective to bad ideas tonight.
“That’s a bold suggestion from a stranger at the bar.” Jasper comments.
“The name is Harley, you?” Harley takes a lemon wedge and shot glass, passing it to Jasper.
“Well Jasper, now we’re not strangers. So where am I putting the salt?” Harley shoots him a smile as he grabs the salt shaker.