“Why are you so tired? What have you been up to?” Blake asks with a smirk.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Jasper winks back. “Ryan took me on a sunrise date, so I’ve been up since like 4am. You have a few hours before I turn into a demon from tiredness.” Jasper warns him as he walks over to Blake, looking down at the floor in thought.
“Sunrise date? That’s so cheesy and on brand for him.” Blake rolls his eyes with a smile.
“Mmm, I actually thought he was planning on proposing to be honest.” Jasper kicks at the ground. “Which is lucky, because you know me, if he had asked me that after making me get out of bed that early...” Jasper jokes, looking back at Blake who was now paying him full attention.
“You don’t think you would have said yes?” Blake asks. Jasper takes a moment to think about it, then shakes his head.
“I don’t know. I thought the only thing he was making me question was my sexuality, but I’m starting to really re-think a lot of things I thought I didn’t want. But I’m also thinking, things have been intense lately and tour will be a good time to have some time apart and work out what I really want. Any time I see Ryan with Ellie it makes me want to see him with kids that are mine and I know we’d have to get married for that because laws on adoption are stupid so...” Jasper sighs and gives a confused shrug, playing mindlessly with the promise ring on his finger. Blake sits back and crosses his arms, considering what Jasper needed to think about or hear right now.
“You guys have already beaten the odds a number of times and stuck together so what’s the real reason you aren’t sure about marriage?” Blake asks. Jasper looks at him and shrugs again. “Is it him you are doubting? Or is it the timing?”
“Idon’t know, because I know I’d be super hypocritical since I amjudgyabout people getting engaged really fast.” Jasper shrugs.
“That’s an excuse, not a reason.” Blake points out.
“Some of the stuff we’ve dealt with have been such big challenges for us as a couple and on our own but we’ve made it through all of them and are really strong together.I don’t know what I want, but then sometimes I also think I’m just still telling myself that because I’m scared of being that sure. Logically I don’t see the point in getting married, it doesn’t mean much to me, I’m secure, you know? It’s not my thing but it is Ryan’s. It means a lot to him, and he means a lot to me so...”Jasper looks at Blake who was just grinning at him. “Say something before I keep babbling.” Jasper whines.
“You’re in love~” Blake teases.
“Ok shut up.Nevermind. What are you up to, how’s the album going?” Jasper asks, taking the headphones from the desk in front of Blake and putting them on. “Play me something.” He orders. Blake flicks through and finds the newest song he’d finalized and hits play, watching Jasper’s reaction.
“That’s really good.” Jasper shouts, forgetting that he was the only one wearing headphones so Blake could hear him just fine.
“You know, not to be that clingy friend or anything, but I’m really looking forward to going on tour with you without Ryan.” Blake states happily, jabbing Jasper in the ribs with his elbow so it wouldn’t come across too affection.
“Is that because you’re clingy or because you don’t like Ryan.”Jasper jokes, taking the headphones off and passing them back to Blake. Blake scoffs and rolls his eyes, but decides not to bother trying to reiterate that he didn’thateRyan.
“Wellif those are the only two options then I mustjustbe clingy.” Blake shrugsand gives Jasper a look, and though Jasper was oblivious to the understanding Blake and Ryan had he was at least aware that ‘hate’ was not the right word to describe it, because the smile on his face basically said ‘I’m fucking with you’.“Last time, you and Ryan shared a room and I was bored shitless with Simon and Luke who go to bed at a respectable bed time.” Blake complainsin a dull tone.
“Sounds like fun.” Jasper says sarcastically. “Sothey don’t stay up late trolling fans and reading fanfiction? They just, sleep? Is that what responsible adults do? No wonder they don’t like us.”
“I know right, imagine being that boring.” Blake throws his hands up.
“Wellthis time around we can definitely fuck shit up like old times.” Jasper gives a mischievous grin.
“We should make a podcast or get a tattoo or BOTH!” Blake suggests excitedly.
“Yeahwhy not? Who’sgonnastop us? I’m down for that.”
“Letsget ‘Badass’ tattoos.OhI should get the ‘Bad’ and you should just get ‘Ass’ tattooed on you.” Blake laughs at his own idea way too hard, while Jasper just shakes his head.
“No to that particular idea, but I like the idea of ‘Badass’. But somewhere discreet.” Jasper suggests.
“On your actual ass. Or like atrampstamp.” Blake suggests.
“You know what, actually, now that I think of it this is not a good idea at all.” Jasper rolls his eyes at Blake’s amusement. “You’re an idiot.” He declares.
“Ohthere you two are.”Mark walks into the room with Ryan following him, Jasper and Blake turn their attention to their visitors, containing their laughter and trying to look like they are busily working on stuff.
“Mark, what’s up? I was just showing Jasper my last finalized song, this piece of perfection is ready for release.” Blake informs him.
“He’s hogging the desk, otherwise I’d be almost done too.” Jasper spins around in his chair and catches Ryan’s eye. “AlsoI’ve decided I probably should do a music video for my title track, because otherwise with you leaving the band and me putting out a song that isn’t completely dumbed down and clear, people will definitely think we are breaking up and I don’t want to be answering those kinds of questions.” Jasper gives Ryan a smile. “I can handle messing with the media, but I don’t want to give our fans a heart attack, and have Blake end up being hunted down again.” He winks.
“Nah they will hunt down the guy you met at the bar.” Blake shrugs.
“Should I, should I let him know I wrote a song about him?” Jasper asks Blake.
“About not wanting to fuck him? I don’t know. Maybe you owe him at least that much after licking salt off him and stealing his Uber.” Blake looks back at Jasper with a smirk. “Although there’s someone else you should probably be asking that question to.” He says in a fake whisper, cocking his head towards Ryan in a less than subtle hint. Jasper turns to Ryan with an innocent smile.
“If you think you should tell him about it, tell him. I don’t mind.” Ryan answers with a confident shrug.
“I feel like it’s the polite thing to do.” Jasper concludes, looking from Ryan, to Blake for reassurance but neither of them seemed to care.
“Some news for you both about Chris. Do you want to tell them?”Mark asks Ryan, rubbing his hands together enthusiastically. Jasper and Blake stare at Ryan confused and wait.
“He’s been arrested for abuse, sexual assault, money laundering, fraud and defamation.”Ryan announces with athrilled smile on his face.
“Wait what?” Blake asks stunned.
“It turns out your lawsuit against him instigated a more in-depth investigation and people have been coming forward with their own accusations.” Mark explains. Jasper takes his phone out and shoots Ryan a quick text, asking whether his Mum was one of the people coming forward about sexual assault. Ryan glances at his phone and shakes his head subtly before pocketing it again and giving Jasper a fake smile. "Also it seems like his right to the music is now in dispute, so you might actually end up being able to perform your old songs without paying him royalties, and start being paid the royalties he's been accepting from the songs you released with him."
"If we have our songs back in time for our tour, that'd be amazing!" Jasper gasps, excited that the fans who'd been supporting them through leaving Chris, may actually get to enjoy the songs they had been listening to all this time.
“I guess I can tick ‘start a revolution’ off my bucket list.” Blake jokes. “Do You HearthePeople Sing~” Blake starts singing as he punches his fist into the air. “Don’t look at me like that, it’s a musical about overthrowing a corrupt government, even emo’s know it.” Blake says as he notices the surprised look on Jasper’s face.
“Wehaveto do a cover of this.” Jasper suggests and with that, he and Blake are so busily distracted with screaming out the anthem theatrically that Mark turns to Ryan with a shrug and starts walking out, Ryan following.
“Hey!” Blake shouts out. “Ryan where are you going?” He asks.
“WellI actually only came in to make my statement about leaving the band.” Ryan answers, stopping in the doorway.
“Perfect! Gather the troops and ask Luke how quickly Fi would be able to throw together revolutionary France themed outfits for us.” Blake orders, snapping his fingers to hurry Ryan along. “What’s his job now? What does he do here?” Blake turns to Jasper with a frown as Ryan and Mark leave the room.
“Me.” Jasper shrugs.
“What?” Blake asks.
“What?” Jasper asks back innocently and looks around like the answer had come from somewhere else. He and Blake look at each other and burst out laughing again.
Within an hour, the whole band, including Ryan, were dressed in old fashioned clothes, belting out the lyrics to ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’. The video was done in one take, with everyone’s relief at the thought of Chris getting a second serve of what he deserved, making it easy to project the anger and passion for the video. They waste no time posting their cover without context, taking joy in the fact Ryan’s official statement was coming out immediately after and throw everyone into a tailspin.
Adding to it all, Jasper was pitching his music video idea to Mark for the song he wrote about struggling to be alone.
“So, I want to open it with Ryan on the beach by himself, dancing in the afternoon, all through until the sun sets and clips of that will be scattered throughout the video. For me, I’ll be on the beach, facing the ocean and playing the piano at night, through to dawn. That will set the polarizing theme of being out of sync with each other. While Ryan dances, I want a crowd to start forming around him and during my parts I want to have a crowd that starts disappearing until there’s only one person left that is completely silhouetted. As the sun sets on Ryan, I want him to turn away from the ocean and walk away through the crowd. When the last chorus ends the last person with me will come over and take my hand leading me away from the piano. I’ll let go of their hand after a few steps and turn back to the ocean, walking along the piano to where the person is sitting on the end of it with a blanket over their shoulders, I’ll stand in front of him with my back turned to him, he’ll wrap his arms and the blanket around me and I’ll turn around to kiss him, at that part the camera should be behind us so the audience can’t see his identity, but they can see us kissing with the sun about to rise. As the sun rises, the camera will come back around to beside us, I’ll be hugging him with my head in the way of his face so when I step back and look into his eyes at the “I’m finally home” line, you can see Ryan is the person I’m with. What do you think?” Jasper asks eagerly, looking at Ryan.
“It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into it.” Mark nods, while Jasper and Ryan share a look, knowing exactly where the inspiration had come from but much like how his song writing happened, once inspiration hit Jasper, the rest all fell into place so perfectly it seemed like it’d been planned and perfected for a long time. “I think we can definitely make thathappen,do you have a place in mind for the setting?” Mark and Jasper get to planning logistics of the music video idea, while Blake and Simon are busy keeping an eye on the reactions from their song cover.
‘It’s with great sadness that I am withdrawing from TheObseleteimmediately. They took me in and I cherish the relationships and the positive experiences but unfortunately for my mental health this lifestyle has been damaging. Please continue supporting their new music through this adjustment, the guys have worked hard and deserve all the love and attention. - Ryan Kurtis.’
The post went up in the late afternoon, with a photo Ryan took, carefully including Ellie’s cot in the background of the shot. If he was going to go intohibernationhe’d at least make it interesting by sparking one last rumor that he had a love child or something. Jasper smiles and puts his phone in his pocket then looks at the door of the bar, taking a deep breath and hoping there was going to be a photo of him walking in here right as Ryan’s statement had been posted. Fuel to a very easily ignited fire of rumors. He walks in and heads straight over to the bar, the guy that had been there the night he was drinking with Harley, was working behind the counter alone, it seemed.
“Hey, is Harley working tonight?” Jasper calls out to him. The guy goes to open his mouth but another voice answers.
“How do you know Harley?” The voice almost makes Jasper jump, stunned that he was even hearing him here. Damien walks back around the bar, putting down a drink tray he’d been carrying.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Jasper asks bewildered.
“Took your advice, got a job at a bar.” Damien shrugs.
“Ohand just so happened to be the one literally walking distance to my place.” Jasper scoffs.
“Of courseyou’d think that’s weird, but I knew someone here and he got me a job.”
“Did you know him, or sleep with him for a job?” Jasper gives a snarky reply.
“Speaking of sleeping with, how do you know Harley?” Damien asks again.
“I live down the road, how do you think I know him? I’ve been here before, a number of times. Although I guessnowI can’t come here anymore.” Jasper crosses his arms. “You better not be up tosomething,I don’t really believe this bullshit about just magically getting a job near us.”
“You don’t have to believe me, but seriously after the other week I just want to be a normal nobody. Do you know how much shit I’ve had to deal with lately because people know me now as Ryan’s ex?”
“You’re the one that made that claim on a live broadcast.”
“Babe, you left your phone at home.” Another familiar voice catches Jasper off guard and as he looks over at Harley and the words ‘babe’ and ‘home’ sink into his brain he feels like he’s living in a parallel universe. “Ohhey you.” Harley winks at Jasper and passes Damien his phone. Damien takes it pensively, his eyes staring at Jasper with a hint of jealousy.
“How do you guys know each other?” Damien asks, trying to sound simply curious but failing.
“We did shots together a few months ago. How is the boyfriend situation?” Harley asks, panic fills Jasper’s thoughts as he tries desperately to catch up with what was going on.
“Oh, boy troubles and heendsup here doing shots with you? I see.” Damien comments. “Anything else I should know?” Damien asks.
“No.” Jasper answers.
“I want to hear that from him.” Damien states, pointing at Harley who gives him a smirk, leaning on the bar and shrugging.
“This was before I met you.” Harley answers, not denying anything. “But it’s very sexy seeing you get jealous.” He winks and shifts a little closer to Jasper.
“Not him. Seriously tell me nothing happened.” Damien looks between Jasper and Damien.
“Why does it matter?” Harley teases Damien by avoiding answering.
“Because his boyfriend, the one he was having ‘problems’ with when he was doing shots with you, is my ex.” Damien answers through gritted teeth and in thatmomentJasper felt honestly like he didn’t know which of the three of them wanted to die more. Harley pulls back and looks at Jasper curiously, then back at Damien, taking in the seriousness of his face.
“Oh shit.” Harley lets out an amused laugh. “What’s wrong with this guy that he lost both of you?” He asks in a flirty tone.
“Harley I am not fucking around with this, tell me what happened with you and Jasper.” Damien asks desperately.
“He and I had a massive fight because Damien wouldn’t get the fuck out of our lives, I was in a shitty headspace because I didn’t know whether we were going to break up or not, because Damien caused him so muchturmoilhe has a hard time turning him away.” Jasper explains his side of the story defensively.
“I was there to apologize!” Damien defends himself. “And you’re a fucking hypocrite because you cheated on him too.”
“I didn’t cheat! We did shots and then I flew across the fucking country to cry in Ryan’s arms and tell him that I choose him over anyone and everyone because I love him and I never want to hurt him the way you did!” Jasper snaps back. Harley crosses his arms, watching the argument go on without interrupting.
“So doesRyanknow you were getting drunk with Harley?” Damien asks in a bitchy tone.
“Yeshe does, does Harley know that you are have a tendency to cheat and use people?” Jasper asks back equally bitchy.
“Is it my turn to talk?” Harley asks and Jasper and Damien both look at him and shut up. “Thank you. First of all, if you had any idea how much of a turn on this has all been, you’d blush. Secondly, no we didn’t do anything, this guy literally stole my uber.” Harley gestures at Jasper who looks relieved that Harley was clearing up the situation and not continuing to avoid answers in an attempt to toy with Damien. “Thirdly. Look, I try not to judge people on their pasts but help them learn from it, and polyamory suits us fine so don’t worry about me being cheated on, in fact I’d invite you for some hate sex with us but you have made it clear you’re not the open relationship kind, which I respect. Each to their own. Are you both good now?” Harley asks calmly smiling at the two of them.
“I didn’t come here to start anything, I just came here to tell you that I wrote a song about how I was feeling that night, and it references drinking in a bar with a stranger and hints at going home with him, before revealing nothing happened. I thought it’d be polite of me to let you know. That’s all I came here for.” Jasper tells Harley, then looks over at Damien who was standing behind the bar looking a little deflated.
“Ooh am I going to be famous?” Harley asks.
“Great, just what I want.” Damien shakes his head in disgust.
“I don’t name you or the bar, just an anonymous stranger. And since there’s already beef between us in the public eye, if anyone notices me here today, we can say we were just having another argument. It’s not inaccurateafter all.” Jasper shrugs and steps away from the bar. “Anywaythis has been sufficiently weird so I’m going to go and pretend none of this happened. Bye.” Jasper turns to walk out quickly, still processing it all.
“Seriously, you’re my kind of fun so don’t worry. If it were a competition you’d win.” Harley assures Damien, and though Jasper didn’t usually like hearing that he wasn’t good enough in someone’s eyes, he felt strangely warm at the thought that somehow in the strangest twist, Damien was more right for Harley than Jasper would ever be. There was something comforting in it for Jasper, knowing that Damien was taken and Jasper and Ryan wouldn’t have to worry about Damien anymore, and god would it be a funny anecdote when he told Ryan that his ex was now in an open relationship with the man Jasper had done shots with. Just another reason, they would never go to that bar ever again.