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Do You Ship Us? - 69. Marriage or Commitment Issues?

Over the next few weeks, Simon, Luke, Blake and Jasper all work hard on producing at least one of their singles, getting ready to finally put more music out and get the ball rolling on their comeback under the new label. Ryan was working with them, helping out wherever he saw an opportunity, but he wasn’t working on his own music, Jasper knew but Ryan hadn’t yet told the rest of the band that he was going to follow his dance career. He’d had a lot of opportunities come his way since the end of the show, all of which would mean more time away from Jasper which was the only reason he hadn’t taken up any of them of yet.

With music set to come out, the guys were starting to release some teasers to hype up their fans, and planning shows so there was a lot of excitement and focus simply because Mark was involving them so much in all the planning and giving them plenty of options as to what shows they wanted to appear on to sell their music and not questioning them on their choices. The guys felt empowered and motivated, and it was amazing to watch their enthusiasm and determination as they worked with such passion.

Having instruments in the room was bringing out a lot of new ideas, Luke had Jasper teach him some chords on the piano, and they were starting to incorporate each other’s strengths in their own song writing, Blake and Jasper were thrilled to show off and try to compose the instrumental parts to their friends lyrics. Even this felt like a massive step as they’d been in a system of submitting their lyrics and having the background music done the way Chris wanted. Luke had actually never thought about the music behind his lyrics other than knowing the tune in his head so hearing Jasper and Blake play along while he sung was a new favourite experiment. Obviously the highlight of any band session was Blake’s guitar solos that he would launch into at any given opportunity. He’d be playing his song and stuff up a single chord and just go off on an improvised tangent of chords, or his favourite, sneaking up behind someone, almost always Jasper, and scaring him by slamming out a loud note. Simon was the first with a whole mini album of 5 songs written, two that were solos that he’d been quick to record and was working on producing, the other three included parts for each of the other members to sing, which he’d not yet had a chance to get them all to work out because everyone was more interested in their own work. In some ways their individual projects were fantastic for bringing back their passion and focus, but with everyone so keen to work on their own songs it was hard to get anything complete as a group because everyone wanted to prioritize their own work.

Still, all things considered, with TV interviews lined up to promote their new work, shows planned and venues being booked ahead of the release of music, plus half a dozen songs each being planned for their personal albums, there was so much good going on that no one was worried about whether or not it’d all work out, everyone had something they hadn’t had in a long time, confidence in themselves and each other that it would all come together.

With teaser music released along with some photos there was an uproar of attention back on the band and it was bringing out a lot of drama, Chris would have been lapping it up if he was still profiting off it, but news had broken of his mistreatment and sexual harassment of some of the women that were signed to his label and that was the end of his career, along with his new charges the quiet settlement he’d forfeited to The Obsolete members were now common knowledge. Suffice to say he was finally getting what he deserved.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the only drama that had broken, in support of the members, the teenager that had seen Jasper and Blake the night of the fight with Grace’s ex, had posted about what he saw. He’d said with good intentions, to say how amazingly caring they both were towards him when he’d witnessed the fight, but the mention of Jasper in a physical fight went viral without correct context to back up his reasons and keeping Grace’s situation private while defending himself was proving difficult. Mark was great at coming up with tactics to address the issue without giving away actual information but the negative news was spiraling out of control with rumors.

“Good to see you’re stealing the spotlight again Jasper.” Simon jokes.

“Mm, well any time one of you wants the attention go right ahead and announce your secret marriages or something. I’m pretty over it.” Jasper comments, he’d been actively avoiding looking at or reading the speculations but had caught Ryan reading the articles that had started coming out today. The first few times, Ryan gave him a smile, but those started looking more forced by the end of the day.

“Everything ok?” Jasper asks, unable to ignore the silence as he and Ryan head home at the end of the day. Ryan nods slowly, but he was clearly holding his jaw tightly shut. “Ry?” Jasper asks again.

Isn’t it bothering you?” Ryan asks quickly. “All the rumors?”

“Rumors? No. I'm good.” Jasper shrugs.

How do you not care what people are saying about you?” Ryan sighs

Well I guess knowing my own side of the story they are talking shit about helps. Why? Are you starting to believe them?” Jasper asks trying to hide the insult in his voice.

“I don’t understand where these stories are coming from if there’s nothing behind them.” Ryan pauses as he thinks about what he was going to say next, but hearing the frustrated exhale from Jasper beside him he knows he’s already made the implication. “I just, if there’s something I need to know about, you would tell me about it right? Because…”

Ryan, I haven’t done anything behind your back. How social do you think I am? I don’t have friends and I barely have family. I’m not off having some kind of affair, come on. Be realistic. Stop fishing for a reason to let your anxiety win this fight. We’ve talked about this a dozen times, I know it doesn’t make it ok but do you really think I’d be keeping things from you if I was already prepared to tell you about the one time I actually did push things too far?” Jasper points out frustrated, leaving Ryan silent again in thought. The rest of the drive they don’t speak, when they get home and park the car, they both sit in silence for a moment before Jasper decides to break it again. Ryan I love you but you have got to start trusting me, because there’s always going to be stupid stuff like this come up as long as we are in the spotlight, you will have to learn to trust that I will always tell you the truth.” Jasper breathes.

“You promise?” Ryan asks, holding up the finger he wore his promise ring on.

“I promise.” Jasper does the same, smiling to himself. Ryan undoes his seatbelt, leaning over to kiss Jasper. “Are we good now?” Jasper asks once their lips part.

“We’re good.” Ryan replies, undoing Jasper’s seat belt and giving him a cheeky smile as he takes his hands and leans back into his seat, drawing Jasper over onto his lap.

“This is super uncomfortable.” Jasper laughs, his back pressed against the steering wheel and his head touching the roof of the car. “I don’t know what you were hoping for but I can’t move.” He tells Ryan, Ryan just smirks and lowers the seat back.

“Better?” He asks mischievously, Jasper leans forward on him more but couldn’t help but laugh at how far from practical this was. “Romantic movies really set me up for a lot of false expectations.” Ryan sighs. “Somehow in my head this was going to work out fine.”

“Horror movies set me up to believe that if we have sex in a car, we’ll be brutally murdered next.” Jasper says in a joking tone.

“Well the only thing getting killed right now is the mood.” Ryan laughs, Jasper presses his body against Ryan’s and kisses him deeply and slowly, their building hunger for one another naturally speeding up the kiss until eventually they are pulling away from each other breathless. “Well I think we’ve established that this is not going to work in here.” Ryan reaches for the door handle and opens it. Jasper climbs out and leans against the car while he waits for Ryan. The two hold hands, a knowing smile on their faces as they head up to their apartment. Jasper lets out a groan when he hears Eleanor’s cry as he and Ryan approach the door.

Wasn’t Grace meant to be at an appointment this afternoon?” Ryan sighs and lets go of Jasper’s hand.

“I thought so.” Jasper sighs.

“I might just head to the gym for a bit since we’re not going to have time to ourselves anyway.” Ryan states, pressing a kiss to Jasper’s cheek and walking off. Jasper sighs and walks inside alone, Grace looked stressed as she hurries about grabbing things and shoving them in a nappy bag.

“Hey. Need anything?” Jasper asks, heading over to Ellie and tickling her little feet. “Eleanor, I can hear you from the hallway, you do know you’re not dying right?” He asks in his baby voice. Ellie looks at him for a moment then continues screaming.

“I’ve got an appointment and I’m running late and she hasn’t napped and...” Grace starts sobbing. “I haven’t had a chance to do anything, I’m so sorry. I know there’s mess everywhere but she won’t let me put her down, all she does is scream if I’m not holding her.”

“Well I’m here so what do you need me to do?” Jasper asks.

“Nothing, nothing. I’ve got to go.” Grace wheels over the stroller and picks Ellie up, placing her in the stroller while Jasper cringes at the dramatic ear-piercing scream it causes. Grace rushes out the door taking the whirlwind of stress with her, the silence is momentarily overwhelming given the chaos he’d walked into. Jasper takes out his phone and sends Ryan a suggestive text to let him know Grace was gone but a second after he presses send he hears a knock on the door. Jasper walks over excited, imagining that Ryan had seen Grace leave and come back, but instead he’s greeted by Blake.

“What are you doing here?” Jasper frowns at him, stepping out of the way to let him in.

“Flynn’s downstairs taking Grace to an appointment so I hitched a ride. Am I interrupting anything?” Blake asks, peering around to see if Ryan was there.

“He’s at the gym so no.” Jasper shrugs. “Did you guys follow us here?” He asks as he and Blake walk back towards the lounge area.

“No, why? Were you doing something you shouldn’t have been?” Blake asks with raised eyebrows, straight to the point as he makes himself at home, helping himself to a can of coke from the fridge before heading to the couch.

“If by ‘doing something we shouldn’t’ you mean arguing about whether or not I am more trustworthy than gossip blogs, then yes. We absolutely were.” Jasper says sarcastically, Blake gives him a concerned look.

Oh so he’s off at the gym taking his anger out on a boxing bag then?” He suggests.

“Probably, but more because Grace was still here when we got home so we didn’t get any time to really make up.” Jasper states with an amused smile.

How have things been in that department? Guess it’s not super easy with Grace living here.” He comments, shifting the pile of baby clothes that had taken over Jasper’s couch so he could sit down.

We’re good.” Jasper answers vaguely, getting himself a drink of water. “We’re being mindful of Grace, I know she is trying to be fine with us but we aren’t pushing our luck, even the occasional kiss in front of her is a little awkward.” Jasper admits as he walks over to Blake, putting his drink down and starting to fold the baby clothes, putting them in a neat stack on the coffee table.

“That’s gotta be great for your sex life.” Blake says sarcastically. “Soooo, how has it been?”

“Do you really want to know, or are you just being polite?” Jasper asks with a sly smirk.

“The look on your face is making me both incredibly curious and a little afraid. Hit me, what’s going on?” Blake asks.

“Ok. So I think we’re normal but...”

“That alone is not giving me any confidence, what weird shit are you into already?”

“You know how some people say foreplay starts at breakfast, meaning you start a little teasing, continue all day and then by the end of the day you’re worked up and it’s more intense? We do that for days, competitively.” Jasper tells him with a grin. Blake looks at him surprised, soon fading to confused.

“What the hell is wrong with you two? You finally have sex and now you’ve made not having sex into a game? Was it that bad that it’s more fun to avoid it?”

“No! It’s just admittedly way too much fun to see what it takes to completely destroy his very impressive willpower. Jasper tells Blake who was hanging on his every word, incredibly amused by Jasper’s interesting sex life.

So what’s your record?” Blake asks.

“11 days.” Jasper shrugs.

“11! Are you shitting me?” Blake gasps at him.

“I know right, I was surprised at my own stubbornness but we called a truce at 11.” Jasper laughs.

I will not be able to look at you and Ryan flirting the same way ever again without feeling like a witness to your sick game.” Blake tells him, watching as Jasper puts the baby clothes away in a box beside the cot that was taking up a corner of the room, since it was a one bedroom apartment and Ryan was back, Grace was now the one sleeping on the couch and using the lounge room as her oversized bedroom/ nursery.

“In our defense, it’s more like 50% a game and 50% us just being continually interrupted or not having time or sneaking around being too difficult. I mean I wouldn’t want Grace to know, so it’s difficult to sneak off and spend time together without it being too obvious.” Jasper sighs, tidying up a few more out of Grace’s things.

“Right, like how sneaking off for 2 hours in the middle of band practice wasn’t at all obvious.” Blake teases him.

“You’re the only one that noticed.” Jasper shrugs. “And I would have told you anyway so I didn't really care.”

Everyone noticed and talked about it while you were gone, they just took the approach of pretending they didn’t. Anyway, on the topic of telling me things, why didn’t you tell me about you and Ryan making up? I said all that stuff and you probably thought I was being such a jerk because I thought you were over.” Blake and Jasper had been a little more distant since Ryan came back, from Jasper’s perspective it’d just been because he’d been so much busier between stealing all the spare time he had with Ryan, to helping Grace with Ellie and at work his focus was on the music he had finally been motivated to make, but Blake had been worried that what he had said about Ryan when he thought they were breaking up, had made things awkward.

“Honestly I was going to tell you but I wanted to know what you thought of Ryan, I figured you would be biased and tell me what I wanted to hear if you knew we were working things out.” Jasper answers, only realizing from Blake’s expression that he probably should have explained himself sooner.

So letting me think you had been with someone else, was how you decided to get an honest answer from me? You know me better than that, come on. Being blunt with people is part of my charm.” Blake rolls his eyes offended.

“How is you having so little faith in me, my fault. I never would have cheated on him, you know me better than that.” Jasper states confidently, turning Blake’s comment back on him.

Its not you I didn’t have faith in, it’s the alcoholic you that I doubted the morals of.”

“I wasn’t an alcoholic. I was never out of control because of it and I haven’t had any trouble not drinking since that night.” Jasper shrugs, but Blake just gives him a skeptical look. “Ok so I may have put a foot over the line and gone a little too far but I was never so off my face that I wasn’t able to control what I was doing.” Jasper argues, clearly having had this argument with himself enough to convince himself it was true.

So you were fully aware that licking a stranger in the bar was a step too far?” Blake asks doubtfully.

“At that moment I was playing with fire, I was deliberately seeing what my options were like and thinking maybe Ry and I were better off calling it but I realized how much I didn’t want that and left that situation before it went any further.” Jasper sighs, feeling guilty for even allowing himself to consider it, let alone act on the thought. It’d been on his mind a lot, now that Ryan was back and he knew how stupid it was. “Would you have seriously not judged me if I did cheat?” Jasper asks quietly, as though the thought had come out unintentionally.

“I wouldn’t have judged you. I stand by what I said that night, you are entitled to happiness and if you and Ryan weren’t going to continue dating, which I admittedly thought by that point that you wouldn’t, then of course being with someone else is not something I would have judged you for. I was prepared to just be there to support you through a break up and whatever drama would come along with that.” Blake assures him.

“And now? How do you feel about us being together?” Jasper asks nervously.

“I do like Ryan, I know you don’t think I do, but I honestly do like him. I just worry that you are carrying too much of the emotional responsibility and that he is still not 100% there for you because he’s still a little interested in his ex and he’s too full of doubt to stand by you when you need him to, like through this drama where if they get a sniff of doubt they will ruin your relationship by baiting you guys into a fight. I worry that he’s not going to be able to stand by you when you need his support because he’s kinda quick to turn on you rather than turn to you whenever shit goes down between you guys.” Blake tells him honestly

“Yeah.” Jasper sighs, unable to ignore the sad truth in Blake’s concerns. “He has actually really overcome a lot of the mental struggles he was having, without me. I think he needed that time apart to get his head around everything. Even with that night, he has been really good about it and he’s just talked about it whenever he’s felt insecure, I’m actually really impressed with how he’s been dealing with it. Not gonna lie it’s been basically the best time for us since he got back. We needed that time apart, we both learned some much needed truths and became stronger in ourselves so we’re much more ready to deal with things together.” Jasper can’t help but smile as he talks about how things had improved since Ryan came home. “I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, because our friendship is pretty heavily built on insults, but I really appreciate you.” Jasper tells him. Blake makes a fake gagging noise.

“Gay.” He jokes, probably the only person Jasper would accept that comment from. “Ryan’s turning you nice.

“Mm, speak of the devil.” Jasper smiles as he hears the door open. “Blake’s here.” Jasper calls out as Ryan walks in, before there’s any chance of inappropriate comments.

Oh hey Blake.” Ryan smiles as he walks into the room, pulling his sweaty shirt off and grabbing a glass of water.

“Sup. I’ll get out of your way.” Blake gets up to leave.

“You don’t need to rush off, I’m going for a shower now anyway so you might as well stay and keep Jasper company.” Ryan suggests, turning and walking off towards the bathroom. Blake looks at Jasper and laughs, shaking his head and standing up.

“Subtle.” Blake scoffs. “I can’t in good conscious stay here knowing I’m now officially a cockblock.” Blake starts towards the door, but before he gets there the door opens and Grace walks in, pushing the pram with Flynn following in behind her.

Oh you might as well stay now.” Jasper throws his hands up in the air and sighs, defeated.

“How many days has it been?” Blake asks casting him a knowing smirk.

“6.” Jasper replies spitefully.

“Ah yeah. The number that sounds most like what you want right now.” Blake replies in a whisper.

“We missed the appointment, they called to reschedule so we’ve just been talking, but Ellie finally fell to sleep so I had to bring her back. Anyway Flynn came up with this idea, he said he could forge a marriage certificate and we can pretend we’re married and he’s her dad and that way our parents can meet her and be a part of her life without judging me.” Grace grins at Jasper who just stares at them confused, taken aback by how out of the blue this had come up.

“Wait, roll it back. Forge a marriage certificate?” Jasper states a little sharply, Grace’s face drops at the lack of enthusiasm from Jasper.

“Ryan could sign it and...”

“Uh, no.” Jasper raises a hand to stop them. “Ryan’s not signing any fraudulent documents thanks. He’s not going to risk his reputation like that, are you kidding?” His statement came out cold and harsh.

“What’s wrong with that?” Grace asks defensively, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Forging a marriage certificate and pretending to be married? Oh, I don’t know, the whole thing?” Jasper answers, mirroring her actions.

“Why?” Grace demands.

“What do you mean, why? It’s insanity!” Jasper laughs at the question, he couldn’t believe she even needed an explanation from him.

“Well thank you but keep your commitment issues to yourself.” Grace rolls her eyes and Jasper steps back shocked.

“Excuse me? Commitment issues?” Jasper raises and eyebrow.

“I saw you when Ryan was away and you loved your time apart, you don’t want to get married. Even as a kid you never wanted it. You don’t want to settle down do you?” Grace snaps, and Flynn steps forward to move the pram away so Eleanor wouldn’t be woken up by her mother’s raised voice.

“No, I never wanted to settle. There’s a difference. And yeah sure, early on when Ryan was away I did enjoy my time to myself but not out of lack of love. We needed that time apart and honestly I enjoyed it that much more knowing that when he came back I wouldn’t have as much time to myself anymore because I would be spending all my free time with him.” Jasper explains, trying to keep himself from getting too frustrated.

“So why do you dodge the topic of marriage with him, if you’re so committed?” Grace asks with a sneer.

“Because we’re young? Because I’ve only just started to work out what I actually want in a relationship? Because if we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together, we can do that without having to rush into anything? Seriously does being realistic and not rushing mean I have commitment issues? I’ve been nothing but committed to Ryan since I met him, committed to helping him with his singing, committed to not letting our old boss treat him like shit, committed to making sure he knew people cared about him and had his back and since we started dating I’ve been committed to him romantically. We are just starting to learn our flaws so it’s way too soon to think about a lifelong lawful commitment, I mean if either of us turn out to be assholes we deserve to be able to walk away from that. What concerns me with you’re talking about is that you and Flynn can’t keep up this fâcade forever and mum and Dad feel the same way about divorce as they do about having a baby out of marriage so it’s not a lie you can get out of without any backlash. You will either disappoint them with the truth now, or a lie later, you can put it off but you can’t win. You have to do what’s right for you and Ellie, but don’t do it for them.” Jasper explains, drawing on all the calmness he could to not take it too personally. Grace looks at him for a long moment considering what he had said before letting out a heavy sigh, her eyes brimming with tears.

“Flynn, I’ll talk to you later, ok?” She says without looking at him.

“If you need anything let me know.” Flynn replies, signaling Blake to leave with him.

“Bye fuckface.” Blake gives Jasper a wave and follows Flynn out. Grace breaks down crying at the sound of the door clicking closed.

“I just want to be the best parent for her, and I’m failing her.” Grace falls to the ground sobbing and clutching her chest, as her breathing immediately starts being short. Jasper crouches in front of her, recognizing the panic attack and resting a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

“You’re not failing, you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself.” Jasper tells her calmly, making an effort to take extra deep breaths to help Grace calm her breathing in time with him.

“I need Mum. I need my Mum right now. What am I going to do, I told them where I am, I told them I have a husband and a baby and they are coming to see us in a few days. What am I going to do?” Grace looks into his eyes and Jasper’s calmness disappears.

“Wait you already told them? They are coming here?” Jasper asks mortified.

Claire Rosalind
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Oh no, poor Grace she really put her foot in it. She needs to come clean with her parents and let them know they can either accept her or never have any contact with their first grandchild.

I'm really thinking at this point that Ryan and Jasper should see a couples councilor, and that Ryan should see one privately....they still have a fair amount of issues to work through and I think that would definitely help them both.

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Grace has messed up big time, she needs to come  clean with the parents.

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Holy...all hell is going to break loose. I can’t believe Grace wants to forge a marriage certificate keyword being “forge” and has the crazy idea to pretend to be married only to say that Jasper has commitment issues when he strongly disagrees with her plan. I mean what does forging a marriage certificate and faking a relationship have to do with commitment? There’s no correlation and wow she’s already told this lie to her judgmental, homophobic parents who are now on their way to Jasper’s... I’m sure they’ll just love seeing her sharing the same house as a gay couple on top of being a single parent. 🤦🏻‍♂️ Poor Grace is to put it bluntly just plain stupid as she’s only making things worse for herself.

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