Fandom: House MD RPS
Pairing: Hugh Laurie/Robert Sean Leonard (mentions of Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry, Robert Sean Leonard/Gabriella Salick.)
Wordcount 14,483 (but it's a quick read.) Posted in two parts for length.
Disclaimer: This never happened (except the bits that did) and I'm not making any money for writing it.
Warnings: RPS-REAL PERSON SLASH-Including references to real people, their significant others, family members, children, co-stars, dogs, horses and agents. If this is going to bother you, please read something else.
Notes: Thanks to Beta Goddess Carol for telling me that it wasn't done when I thought it was and for every minor tweak and word selection we sweated over together. I couldn't do without you, hon. Hugs to all my gmail chatters and everyone on my f-list who put up with the whinging and whining along with way.
Summary: Three days in Hollywood. Includes The Usual Suspects along with The Who, Jay Leno, smut, angst, guilt, jealousy and a whole lot of name dropping.
Musical note: This is the link to Mad About The Boy which Hugh listens to in the story.
Mad about the boy,
I know it's stupid
To be mad about the boy.
I'm so ashamed of it
But must admit
The sleepless nights
I've had about the boy.
Fuck you, Noel Coward.
And a hardy fuckety fuck fuck to Stephen as well.
Hugh had tried to be honest with Stephen throughout the whole affair, which was difficult when it had taken a while for Hugh himself to realize how serious things had become. In return he’d gotten hostility, threats, and worst of all the full brunt of Stephen’s disapproval, a mighty thing in and of itself, when he needed Stephen to be there for him as a friend, not a spurned lover.
Bobby had the strange arrangement of his best friend and his best friend’s ex-wife, but at least he had someone to talk to. Hugh felt like there was no one he could confide in who wasn’t already involved in the situation. Emma? She’d probably read him the riot act on both Jo’s and Stephen’s behalf.
There’d been a moment the night before, in the middle of his patented spiel about how much more genteel it was working on British television -- “three hours and a break for tea” -- when he’d been terrified he might just turn to Leno and say, “You know, Jay, what I’d really like to talk about is the fact that I’ve fallen in love with Robert Sean Leonard. When I’m not having sex with him, I’m watching his movies and thinking about fucking him.”
Instead he got a round of applause for mentioning Ricky Gervais and the interview continued without damage to his marriage or career.
The luxury of waking up alone in his condo had lasted only as long as he remembered that he didn’t want to be alone. Things got worse when he checked a text message from Stephen regarding the reservations for dinner that night. Very funny, Stephen. Very, very funny.
Hugh puttered around the apartment, not dealing with editing notes, barely looking at the script for next week. He’d already called home where Jo was trying to sort out plans for the holidays and Charlie had taken an interest in the old man’s career, lobbying heavily for him to take the part in the movie because of the Keanu factor.
His big mistake was hitting shuffle on his iPod. There was Marianne Faithful growling her way through a song that reminded him of just what a pickle he’d actually gotten himself into.
On the silver screen
He melts my foolish heart
In every single scene.
Although I'm quite aware
That here and there
Are traces of that cad about the boy.
A ride on the bike might free his mind from the voice of Stephen telling him to give up something that was actually making him happy when it wasn’t making him miserable.
He’d planned to go north on 101 and feel the wind in his face for as long as possible before getting back to face the famous dinner date, complete with Stephen’s passive-aggressive manipulations. Apparently, the Triumph had other ideas. Maybe it had gotten so used to going from La Cienega to I-10 that before he knew it, he’d already taken exit 1-A and there was no turning back. He was on his way to Venice Beach.
Will it ever cloy
This odd diversity of misery and joy
I'm feeling quite insane
And young again
And all because
I'm mad about the boy.
Noel certainly had that bit right. Quite insane. Standing across the street from the cul-de-sac that led to Bobby’s beach house. Smoking. Waiting. Watching. Knowing that Bobby was in there with Gaby.
What did he expect? That Bobby would dump his fiancée just to satisfy Hugh’s ego? He didn’t know what was worse. Jealousy of Gaby or the bizarre moment of possessive fury that had flared up when Bobby mentioned his recurring dream -- not even a fantasy, just a dream -- of his friends Ethan and Keanu in a limousine.
He’d immediately demanded to know which one Bobby fancied and practically forced himself on the poor boy, although the boy hadn’t needed much forcing.
Fuck. He was getting aroused just remembering. No wonder he’d been saying Bobby’s name while groping Stephen. What if he did slip when he was back in London with Jo? Stephen was right. She’d never forgive him. Maybe the answer was to spend as little time at home as possible. Make his agent and Charlie happy at the same time. At least somebody would be.
A car came up the cul-de-sac and out toward Pacific. Hugh caught a glimpse and knew it was Gabriella, off to her event, alone.
He put his helmet back on for the brief ride to the house, hoping no one had been interested enough to recognize him and wonder why the star of a top-rated television program was lurking about on a street in Venice, California. Visiting his co-star was one thing -- they had some scenes in the next script that could stand some going over -- but the lurking thing was a bit dodgy.
Hugh parked the bike and rang the bell. For a few seconds, he worried that Bobby wasn’t home, that he was making a fool out of himself, turning into a…
Then the door opened and Bobby stood in the doorway looking uncomfortable, possibly because he was wearing a suit. Should he bother making some kind of excuse? I just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought we might run lines for a while. Who was he kidding?
“Gaby just left.” Hugh nodded as though this were news to him. “I’m meeting her there. I’ve never understood why I have get into a suit and tie when it’s all horses and dirt, but…”
So that Hugh would have the opportunity to pull Bobby toward him by the tie, something he never got to do when they were on set and Wilson’s ties were an almost irresistible target.
Bobby didn’t wear his suits as naturally as the character did, but that made him even more desirable. Hugh got a brief glimpse of rising eyebrows and Bobby grabbing for his glasses. He managed to maneuver them both inside the door before their lips were touching and his fingers were winding through Bobby’s faintly damp hair.
Had it only been three days? It felt more like three months, and it wasn’t just him. Bobby kissed back fiercely. Hugh knew they absolutely shouldn’t be doing this now, but stopping was impossible and it would have taken brute force to detach Bobby’s grip on his shoulders.
The bedroom was upstairs and Hugh’s jacket was gone before they even started up. Bobby’s suit jacket hit the floor shortly thereafter. He tried to get the buttons of Bobby’s shirt undone as quickly as possible, thinking this would be a desperate quickie, something to take the edge off Bobby’s nerves and relieve his own frustration.
So why was he naked and lying on his back while Bobby put him through slow, shuddering torture? Bobby was nipping at his neck, flicking his tongue against the hollow of Hugh’s throat and moving downwards as though they had hours. Hugh didn’t know how much build-up he could stand but he decided to close his eyes and find out.
Wet heat engulfed one nipple and fingernails grazed the other. Bobby hadn’t managed to get all his own clothes off before they reached the bed and Hugh felt the roughness of trousers against his legs, and smiled at the thought that the socks were probably on as well. The smile gave way to a groan as Bobby’s soft lips moved down his chest and stomach, fingers grasping his hips, and his hot breath was so, so close.
If there had been any rational thoughts he wished to express about the situation, they were long gone and all he could think was NOW but instead of the expected mouth on his cock, he felt the less-familiar sensation of his balls being licked and nuzzled and gently sucked. His legs spread and then -- Oh dear god! -- the tongue moving up and back, probing, lapping right against his arsehole, and that was almost too much. He started panting, legs shaking, toes curled with delight. He’d never asked Bobby to do this, certainly never expected…even Stephen wasn’t that keen. He briefly wondered what had inspired this act of …love? Was it a first or part of a last? The thought vanished as Bobby assumed his more usual position, propped on one elbow, gripping Hugh’s shaft while letting his lips and tongue slide over the head .
Hugh started thrusting into Bobby’s mouth and hand, finding a rhythm that Bobby picked up, building in speed and intensity, sucking, stroking, moaning until Hugh felt the release building and his whole body quivered as his head fell back and the world exploded and he knew that Bobby’s mouth was still on him until there was nothing left to give.
He was vaguely aware of Bobby stripping off the rest of his clothes, including the incriminating socks.
It was a toss-up as to what was sexier, Bobby’s voice or the sight of his body, now stark naked, lying face down, legs spread, repeating his plea.
“Please… Hugh… I need…”
Did the younger man expect him to produce an erection as though he were the star of some pornographic epic?
“Hands,” he grunted.
Of course. Far more sensible, given that there probably weren’t any condoms around the place following the great clean-up caper. Both the Trojans and the KY were currently residing in the boot of his car.
He found an unfamiliar bottle on the bedside table with the name of a famous spa on the label. There was a whiff of mint and lavender as he squeezed a generous dollop onto one palm and started spreading it onto both hands. He was about to get Bobby off using his girlfriend’s lotion. That shouldn’t be a turn-on, but it was. Even hotter was the gasp that Bobby could barely muffle against a pillow when Hugh ran two fingers along his crack before unceremoniously pushing both in at the same time.
“Oh god! Hugh!”
Bobby was on his knees, pushing back, demanding more.
Hugh had a brief flash of the first time he’d penetrated Bobby, using a single tentative finger, ridiculously worried about hurting him. Now he was clamoring for more and Hugh was happy to oblige. Three fingers moved in and out, making Bobby groan louder with each thrust, the heat around his fingers giving Hugh further fantasies of someday feeling the actual flesh against his cock.
Too damn tempting, he thought, glad he was unable to act on it at that moment.
“Fuck. Fuck. Come on, Hugh. More…please.”
Bobby hardly ever cursed out of the bedroom. Hugh loved knowing he could do this to him, the same way he loved knowing he was the only man that Bobby had been with and more selfishly wanted to keep it that way. Maybe that was why he responded with a sharp smack against Bobby’s arse before giving in with in the addition of his little finger.
Rhythm. Groaning. Heat. Lavender. Love. He loved Bobby. He loved fucking him.
Hugh reached between Bobby’s legs, squeezing his balls in time with the thrusts against his prostate, and then he lost track of everything except the heat and Bobby’s almost obscene moaning, which gave way to a protracted scream as he drove his fingers in deep and squeezed hard and felt Bobby’s orgasm against both hands.
How could anyone, Jo or Stephen or anyone else, ask him to give this up?
Oh really? Prepared to go public are you?
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up!
Mad about the boy…
All he wanted was to lie next to his lover, uninterrupted by jealous friends or dead writers or his own guilt. Was that too much to ask?
Didn’t Bobby have to be somewhere, rather than running his fingers through Hugh’s hair? Bobby’s hands felt good anywhere on his body, but Hugh would just as soon not have too much investigation up there. He hadn’t particularly appreciated that line about “What’s left of it,” in the previous season.
“I should get going.”
“It’s in Simi Valley. I’ll tell her I got lost or there was traffic or something. Want to go see some horse jumping?”
“Would that be wise?” Hugh answered, as though actually considering showing up with Bobby at his fiancée’s equestrian event was an actual possibility.
“You go to NASCAR races.”
“If you can promise a flaming crash, I’m right there.”
“So where are we going to dinner? I think Gaby’s more excited about this than about the contest.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Hugh? Is something wrong?” Bobby rose and began the process of reconstructing his apparel starting with the last things he’d taken off.
“The Ivy,” he replied, trying to keep all emotion out of his voice.
“What?” Bobby called from just outside the bedroom door where one of his shoes had landed.
“The Ivy. There’s one in London, but it’s no relation.”
“He got reservations at the Ivy on 24 hours notice? What is he, Harvey Weinstein’s bowling partner?” Bobby actually sounded impressed.
“He has his ways.”
Ways of pissing Hugh off. Ways of trying to make him feel guilty by reminding him of some very good times between them.
Hugh got out of bed to follow the clothing hunt as it moved through the hall and down the stairs. He reminded Bobby that his glasses were in the pocket of his jacket before that could become a cause for concern. No sooner were they both dressed, Bobby looking only slightly more disheveled than he had when Hugh arrived, than Hugh felt an impulse to grab him and start the whole process over again.
This time he let Bobby go with the slightest brush of lips before watching him drive off. They’d all meet later at the infernally named Ivy. Reservations were for seven and there was no way out.
Dinner out was nothing like what Gaby had expected, starting with the paparazzi outside and the number of movie stars she’d already recognized walking in. Will Smith. Vince Vaughn. Jennifer Aniston. They had a table near the fireplace in what seemed to be the main dining room.
Nathan Lane had stopped by to greet Bob and both Hugh and Stephen were waved at and air-kissed by people she didn’t recognize, all before they’d even had a chance to order drinks.
Bob always made it a point of honor to avoid this kind of thing. He’d go to Zabar’s but not Elaine’s and given what she’d heard about Hugh’s shyness, she had assumed they’d be dining in a more out-of-the-way location, certainly not a famous see-and-be-seen spot in the heart of LA.
She loved Bob’s unpretentiousness, but also thought his whole “I’m an actor, not a star” routine was just a little disingenuous. Nobody worked at their craft as hard as Bob had in order not to be seen.
Something was bothering him, she could tell. He’d been stressed out when he met her at the Gateway Equestrian Center, just in time to see the award presentation but late for the actual competition. He was full of apologies and tales of traffic, but she suspected he had just gotten lost.
It honestly didn’t matter. She appreciated the effort and the suit and especially the night out with Hugh and Stephen. It was all so lovely that the entrées had arrived before she really noticed the tension at the table.
Instead of digging in and enjoying his prime rib, Bob had decided to launch into a rant about how he was going to ask his agent to negotiate for less onscreen time so that he’d be able to go back to New York.
“I need to do a play, a workshop, a reading…something besides standing around with my hands in my pockets waiting to say paraneoplastic syndrome.
She’d already heard some of this. Ethan had called to bitch about Stoppard and Billy Crudup and god knows what else and that had set Bob off. She shook her head and caught Stephen’s eye. He twinkled back as if to say “what can you do.” He must have known what was coming, because of course Hugh now looked a bit wounded and Bob realized that he’d been denigrating their show and Hugh by association.
All right, maybe it wasn’t Shakespeare or O’Neill, but from what she’d seen it was much better than most of what was on television. As for the whole “getting back to New York,” she’d heard that before too and knew the pattern. After spending a week with dogs and a few hours rooting around his favorite book stores in the Village, he’d start getting a hankering for Los Angeles again.
She knew he loved working with Hugh, even if he hadn’t been very happy with Wilson’s actions of late. After all, he’d played some real bastards and Wilson was a sympathetic character, if somewhat misguided. Before she could point that out, Hugh chimed in with his own complaints about the current plotline, David Shore, the amount of time he was spending away from his children, an odd jibe about “your hero,” whatever that meant, and finished with something between a plea and threat that Bob not leave him alone with “Katie and the kids.” It struck her as something House might say, but sounded strange and almost vicious in Hugh’s British accent.
The crab cakes were starting to stick in her throat. Maybe she’d offended Hugh in some way. He’d never been anything but gracious and polite when she was on Bob’s arm at industry functions, although maybe his friendship with Bob didn’t actually extend to her. But then why had Jo wanted her to come over?
She turned to Stephen again, looking for answers or at least consolation. He’d been incredibly sweet and attentive all evening -- more than Bob, she hated to admit. He combined a shrug with a sigh and congratulated her on her showing in the competition.
“That is a result,” he said, smiling.
“Yes,” she agreed, relaxing in the glow of his charm.
“And where will you be lecturing next? Will the UK be graced with your presence again?”
She could have kissed Stephen Fry just then, not that he’d be interested. Instead she decided to share her good news.
“I don’t know if I’ll be back in England right away. First I’m taking Sandstone back to Germany and then…well, I’m making aliyah.”
Stephen blinked once.
“Emigrating to Israel,” she explained.
“Oh. Well then I suppose Mazel Tov is in order.”
“Yes,” she nodded, clinking wine glasses with Stephen and then Hugh and finally Bob, with an emphatic, “l’chaim.” As she was drinking, she caught Hugh and Bob staring at each other again.
Could they have had some sort of argument? Was Bob’s ego making a rare appearance and bristling at his supporting role? She wished he’d managed to keep a lid on it at least until she left again.
Hugh stood and excused himself in the general direction of the rest rooms. The atmosphere grew even more uncomfortable. Whatever was going on with Bob and Hugh clearly affected Bob and Stephen as well. That made sense. Hugh and Stephen went back a long way. One heard rumors that they were more than friends, but she discounted that kind of gossip. According to Bob, Hugh was completely devoted to his wife, and anyway Gaby knew a thing or two about malicious talk, being a sportswoman and therefore immediately suspect in some quarters.
“Well, Robert, that was quite a production you fellows did at the Old Vic last summer.”
Bob looked as though he had to translate from Urdu before thanking him. Gaby started to think she was going to be sick, a feeling that increased to certainty when she heard a familiar booming voice.
It was Uma, wearing something long and flowing that accentuated her height and chattering a mile a minute to Bob as if there were no one else at the table.
“Oh my god! What are you doing here? I’ve never seen you here. I thought I saw Hugh outside smoking, but then I thought it couldn’t possibly be him, but here you are and….” Bob, being polite, was on his feet, and Uma, being Uma, was all over him, hugging and kissing.
Her yammering stopped short as she absorbed the fact that he was not alone.
“Oh. You’re all here?”
Bob nodded hurriedly and presented Uma to Stephen.
“Charmed, Ms. Thurman.”
Stephen rose to kiss her hand, and Gaby tried very, very hard not to wish Ms. Thurman out of her sight. Instead Uma stood there, staring as though the sight of the three of them in one place didn’t compute in her vapid mind.
These people were all supposed to be actors? They reminded her of third-graders attempting to keep a secret.
Just when Gaby thought she was going to have to snap her fingers in Uma’s face, she appeared to come out of her trance, focusing her attention again on Bob, addressing him in an over-familiar way that set Gaby’s teeth on edge.
“Bobby, can I borrow you for a second? Quentin’s here and he’s dying to meet you. He’s a big fan.”
Bob’s mouth opened and he shook his head as though terrified. He couldn’t be that scared to meet Quentin Tarantino.
“No, Uma,” he scolded. “I’m at dinner. It would be rude.”
“Oh come on. Gabs, you don’t mind, do you?”
“Go,” Gaby urged. I think we can manage for a few moments without you.
She was just as happy to see him go, even with that annoying arm draped over his shoulder.
She immediately turned to Stephen, who looked mortified by the whole display.
“Will you please, for god’s sake, tell me what’s going on?”
Stephen’s expression betrayed his reluctance, which meant she was right. There was something to know.
“Look. Bob talks to Hugh. Hugh talks to you. No one tells me anything. It’s not fair.”
“No. It certainly isn’t.”
“Did they have a fight?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“About what? The show? Bob’s always saying he loves working with Hugh. He doesn’t want more scenes, but…”
“I’m afraid the matter isn’t at all professional.”
“Then what?” she demanded.
He sighed mournfully.
“I’m sure I’d have done the same thing, really. Hugh…he’s such a family man. He’s taken a rather dim view of your Robert’s behavior and told him so. I understand the whole thing turned rather ugly.”
Gaby didn’t know if she was going to cry or vomit but she was certainly going to curse.
“What fucking behavior? What the hell has he done? Is it drugs or something? I know he sometimes smokes pot with Ethan, but that’s not really a big deal.”
Stephen’s blue-gray eyes were full of pain and sympathy.
“It’s really not my place and of course it’s all hearsay…rumors, but Hugh seems quite disturbed. Of course he’ll be furious if he finds out I’ve told you…”
He reached over to take her hand, trying to comfort her as his words shattered her world.
“My dear, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you…”
“He’s a big fan,” Uma had said, dragging him away from the table at the worst possible moment to meet her friend/former boyfriend/Svengali, Quentin Tarantino. In this case “fan” did not mean, “Wow, I saw you in Long Day’s Journey and you blew me away,” or “I love you on House, even though you have almost nothing to do but be a whipping boy,” or even “Oh my God, Dead’s Poets Society changed my life.” In this case, it meant, “Oh wow, man, My Best Friend Is a Vampire! I love that movie. That and Lost Boys, best teen vampire movies ever.”
He tried not to feel disappointed. It was still Quentin Tarentino, talking to him, knowing at least something about his career.
Tarantino’s language was just as salty as his onscreen persona’s with most of the motherfuckers and cocksuckers and motherfucking cocksuckers reserved for the “suits” at Dimension who were pressuring him and Robert Rodriguez to take out all the “good stuff” in the final cut of Grindhouse. But as soon as they were done with that “fucking bullshit,” Quentin wanted to sit down and talk to him about something. In fact, according to Uma, they were going to watch the show at her place tonight.
Sure. OK. Whatever. He didn’t want to let himself get too carried away. There’d been plenty of disappointments for parts he didn’t get on the stage and screen. He’d call Scott in the morning and see if there was anything to this beyond, as Quentin would say, fucking bullshit. After all, he wasn’t really Tarantino movie material, was he?
The temporary thrill of talking to an A-list director faded away as he approached the table and found that Hugh hadn’t returned yet. In fact, he was coming from the other direction and the two of them were taking in the same tableau: Stephen and Gaby, alone together, with Stephen practically caressing Gaby’s hand as he looked into her eyes. If Bobby didn’t know better, he’d be getting jealous hackles up. Knowing better only made things worse. What the hell were they talking about and how could he find out without serious self-incrimination?
At least there would be no lingering over dessert and coffee. They were due at Lisa’s to watch the election returns. Her brownies were legendary on the House set. Not that he should be eating brownies anyway. Or prime rib. Or whatever the appetizer had been that he could no longer remember but knew was too rich anyway.
Just when he thought or at least hoped that he could at least get away from the overbearing, intimidating Mr. Fry, who’d already managed to snag the check, it turned out that Hugh and Stephen were planning to tag along to Lisa’s place in Brentwood.
“I thought we’d see your little democracy in action,” Stephen uttered in a tone so pompous Bobby was half tempted to take a punch at him, something extremely unlike him and for all he knew dangerous to his own health. It was Hugh who did the boxing and at that minute Bobby wasn’t sure whose side he would take.
“What the hell?” he sniped when they were in the car. “It’s not their damned election.”
“Just because Americans don’t give a damn about the rest of the world unless we’re busy invading it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is as shallow as we are,” she snapped back, reminding him that he had bigger problems than British gatecrashers.
“Right,” he said, thinking that he was in deep shit, but not knowing what kind. If Stephen had actually said something about him and Hugh…Would she still be in the car with him, speaking at all?
He was driving because it was late and he sort of knew the way, giving her the opportunity to make phone calls in at least three languages he didn’t understand. He put on NPR to try to get some idea of which way the election was going, but she quickly reached out to turn it off with a glare in his direction, still speaking fluent German, which always made her sound angry even if she wasn’t.
What kind of conversation was going on in Hugh’s Volvo, trailing behind them, he could only imagine. Gaby managed to keep up her conversations until they’d reached Brentwood.
Lisa greeted them in bare feet, jeans and a dark green sweater, with hugs, kisses and happy word of the Democrats making gains that looked very hopeful. Bobby couldn’t help notice the reaction as they entered and the party-goers, including actors, producers and writers, many of whom had Emmys on their resumes if not actual mantelpieces, positively gawked at the sight of Stephen Fry, temporarily ignoring the large screen TV tuned to CNN. Jesse, for one, looked awfully star struck.
“Where’s Jen?” he asked Lisa, searching for familiar faces.
“Other room. Watching the show.”
As advertised, he found Jennifer along with Josh Malina and some other people he thought he should recognize, but didn’t, sitting in the kitchen watching House MD on a small television set. Jen had Bug happily sitting on her lap. She smiled at him but didn’t seem inclined to disturb the cat by getting up.
He came around to glance at the set, grabbing a brownie on the way. It was the episode with the severely obese patient. He hadn’t worked with Pruitt at all, but it didn’t matter because he’d been absolutely giddy about his first scene with David Morse. He tried not to wonder how that scene would look to Quentin or for that matter to Uma. Uma would probably read some sexual innuendo into House squirting his tomato on Wilson’s lab-coat.
“If you want to meet Stephen Fry, now’s your big chance.” Josh got up instantly, practically skidding on the kitchen tiles on the way. Jennifer shrugged indifferently, winning Bobby’s love and admiration for at least five minutes. They both focused on the screen, where Cameron was actually showing more backbone than usual. He caught the rapt look of attention on Jen’s face and kept his Norma Desmond jokes to himself. So much for love and admiration.
“I’m going to go get some air,” he only half-lied. He needed oxygen, but he was really going to the backyard to spend time with Lisa’s other babies.
Wolf E. came running up immediately followed by Sandwich.
“Hey, guys. How ya doing.”
He crouched down to pet the dogs. They greeted him happily with hand licks and doggie kisses. Sometimes he came over here just to hang with Lisa’s pets when he missed his own too much.
“Where’s Bump? You here, Bumpers?” he called into the darkness. Bump was the shyest of the rescue dogs, but he wasn’t going to be left out of the festivities for long.
Maybe he could just ignore the whole rest of the party and stay out here until it was time to go home. He’d already heard a rousing cheer from the living room that he took to be confirmation that the Democrats would definitely take the house. Great. And in the end, so what? Two more years of Bush. Gaby was leaving. She was pissed at him for some reason that must have something to do with Stephen. Shit.
“I thought I might find you out here cheating on me.” It was Hugh.
“I know heavy petting when I see it.”
He stood up, and being that close to Hugh alone in the dark was almost too much. He wanted to kiss him, wanted Hugh’s arms around him, wanted to feel…That afternoon had been…God, he shouldn’t even be thinking about it. Not when Hugh was so damned close. Not while Gaby was inside. Not when he was tied up in knots of guilt and fear.
“Did you talk to Stephen? Do you know what he said to Gaby?”
“He’s being enigmatic. All he’ll say is that he wouldn’t do anything that might hurt Jo, which is of course another way of accusing me of doing just that.”
“I don’t want to hurt anybody.”
Hugh didn’t answer, and Bobby interpreted the silence to mean something along the lines of “you knew what you were getting into.” Except of course he hadn’t. Had no clue that he was going find himself begging for fingers up his ass, much less falling in love with their owner.
“Hugh…I don’t want to lose Gaby.”
What was he saying? Was it his turn to try and put an end to this? Was he about to say something that would leave both of them “hurting like bloody hell?”
Hugh was moving closer. Bobby could feel him even though they weren’t actually touching.
“What do you want, Bobby?”
Before he could say something stupid or noble or grab Hugh and shut him up, Gaby came through the door, sending the dogs scurrying away. It was hard to read her expression in the dim light available from the house, but her voice was tense, even though she moved into his arms for a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
“Bob…can we go home?”
“You don’t want to watch some more…?”
“I’m tired. It’s all starting to catch up. I’m just really, really tired.”
“I’m not surprised. You’ve had quite a day,” Hugh agreed. Gaby looked somewhat annoyed to find him there. Maybe she’d heard something. Or just seen them and read the body language.
“OK, honey, let’s go say goodbye to Lisa.”
He was breathing a sigh of relief at whatever bullet had been dodged for the time being when his cell phone went off in his jacket pocket and he pulled it out, with a pretty good idea who it was.
“Bobby! Oh my god. That was amazing. The look on your face when you realized he forged the signature. I thought you were going to cry.”
“Uma…” he tried to shut up her up long enough to ask what Quentin had thought. That’s when he caught the look on Gaby’s face and it was pure hurt and betrayal.
“It’s true,” she whispered, shaking her head slowly.
“No!” he screamed, but it was too late. Uma was talking about the tomato, Gaby had run inside and Bobby knew exactly what Stephen had told her.
Stephen couldn’t understand why Hugh was always complaining about Hollywood. He, for one, was having a thoroughly lovely evening, almost as much fun as the night he’d ended up chatting with Courtney Love. The guests at Ms. Edelstein’s party were most attentive as he bestowed bon mots between various bits of news, both good and bad, from around the country. The Aussie boy, he reckoned, could certainly be had, especially as his lady-love was currently more interested in whatever was going on in the kitchen.
The attention turned back to the election results as the numbers swung irrevocably to the Democratic column and glasses were raised.
From his vantage point on the sofa, Stephen noticed that neither Hugh nor his co-star were present to toast the victory. He was having too good a time to mention it – or to bring the mood down by reminding the assemblage that their rebellious founding fathers hadn’t had the sense to adopt the parliamentary form of government and they were still stuck with that lunatic for another two years. Why bother? Tonight was for happiness. Except for Gaby, of course. He’d felt a pang of conscience as he took her hand and told the slightest bit of a white lie about her Bob and a certain blonde siren.
You might say he’d been kind. After all, the bastard was cheating on her. And it had to be better for his future if he were thought to be sleeping with a glamorous female. Americans were still a bit squeamish about the other thing.
He could hardly believe the luck of Ms. Thurman making an actual appearance and young Robert proceeding to dig his own grave. Perhaps Gabriella would find herself a more deserving chap among those brawny Sabras.
Or maybe, just maybe, Robert would be able to convince her of his innocence and be frightened enough to break things off with Hugh. He knew the notion was rubbish, but it was too pretty a picture to abandon until he absolutely had to.
As he continued dispensing anecdotes, he lost track of time. Only when he saw a distraught Gaby moving toward the front door with a clearly panicked Robert following close after, did he glance down at his watch to see that it was a few minutes past ten. Awfully nice of Hugh to mention Ms. Thurman’s habit of making a call to Robert almost immediately after the broadcast and even nicer of her to follow suit. It was as if he’d choreographed the whole event himself. He allowed himself a few more steps of his internal victory dance until he was brought up short by the sight of Hugh looming over him, hands buried tightly in his jacket pockets.
“Moment of your time,” he muttered through gritted teeth, while Stephen was holding forth on the more ludicrous security precautions at Charles’ and Camilla’s wedding.
“Now?” he asked, feigning mild surprise at the interruption.
“Now.” There was a hint of menace in Hugh’s voice.
Stephen felt an unpleasant wave of guilt rising through his stomach and torso as he got up and followed Hugh into a hallway, hopefully out of earshot of the other guests.
Hugh’s gaze assaulted Stephen with the full force of his anger. Stephen tried to maintain his defiant self-righteousness, but quickly gave in, lowering his eyes.
“Fix this,” Hugh demanded coldly.
“Bit late, I think.”
“I know you better than that. I’m sure you left some loophole for yourself.”
“Why should I do anything for him?” he answered, hearing the petulance in his own voice. He knew where this was going.
“Not for him. For me.”
“Well, of course. Because I’ll do anything for you.”
“Stephen, you have to believe me. I never meant this to happen and I certainly didn’t do it to hurt you. If I wasn’t honest right away, it’s because I wasn’t honest with myself. I’ll always need you and I’ll always love you, but right now I need you to be my friend, because I can’t get through this…” he gestured around vaguely to indicate his Hollywood purgatory, “…without him.”
Stephen felt himself starting to break. Driven by anger and jealousy, he’d gone too far by a long shot. Hugh had always been like this and expecting anything else was pure self-destruction, leading to the dark place he’d been in and the bleakness he’d be facing when this was over.
He struggled to maintain the dignity that was rapidly eroding
“Someday?” he asked, hoping he didn’t sound too pathetic.
The best Hugh could concede was a shrug and a cool kiss placed on Stephen’s cheek, before pulling him out through the living room, a not-unpleasantly firm hand on his arm.
They smiled and waved as though making a simple, if abrupt, exit until they were out the front door. There was no sight of Robert or Gaby. Stephen felt a flicker of hope that he wouldn’t be forced to do this. Maybe they’d at least decided to have it out somewhere besides a street corner in an affluent Hollywood suburb. But Hugh continued steering him until they came upon the couple a block from Lisa’s home.
The fight had reached the “Give me the keys; I never want to see you again” phase. Robert’s tie was half off, his hair disheveled, and Gaby had tears streaking her face.
“Gaby, you have got to believe me.”
“No. I don’t. I can’t. Does everybody know? Do they all feel sorry for me? What about Ethan? Does he know? Should I call him?”
That was an impressive yelp.
“Gabriella, I need to speak with you.”
“Stephen?” She looked up at him as though he were her only friend in the world. “Can you please drive me home? This prick won’t give me the car keys.”
“Unfortunately, I’ve been deprived of my driving privileges. I’m at the mercy of this madman.”
The madman still had a hand on his arm with no apparent intention of relinquishing the grasp until peace was restored.
Gaby turned her gaze on Hugh with a mixture of anger and disgust.
“No,” he blurted, and Stephen realized he had to take charge before Hugh made a bigger hash of things.
“Gaby, please listen to me. It appears I made an error. I owe you and Robert a profound apology. I misunderstood and I shouldn’t have passed on such loathsome gossip. I'm terribly, terribly sorry.”
Gaby started shaking her head in what Stephen could only imagine was a mixture of disbelief and confusion. He felt Hugh’s fingers relax their grip, but it was Robert mouthing “thank you” that got the actual tears into his eyes, which was how he knew he’d finally done the right thing.
Bobby needed to talk to someone, but it was late, which meant it was even later in New York.
After a day of rehearsals, a yoga class, some kind of election festivities and who knows what else, Ethan probably wouldn’t appreciate a middle-of-the-night phone call.
Anyway, he could pretty much imagine the other end of the conversation, including the sleepy disorientation and annoyance followed by prurient interest.
He did what?
You and… but that’s crazy!
Why didn’t he just tell her about…oh!
…Just said it was all a mistake?
Did she believe him?
“I don’t know,” he said to himself, hanging up the mental phone.
Stephen had spoken eloquently and urgently, attempting to undo the damage caused by repeating the “base canard” regarding Bobby and Uma. He blamed it all on rumor, innuendo and a misunderstanding between himself and Hugh over the nature of Bobby and Uma’s friendship.
Hugh then weighed in, explaining that he had been misguided in his concerns over Bobby’s conversations with Uma when it was only innocent chatter about the show and the possibility of working together in Tarantino’s next production.
Finally Bobby had been allowed to speak for himself, telling Gaby how much he loved her and that no matter how much he missed her, even if he were going to (which he wasn’t) he would never, ever with Uma, because he knew how much that would hurt her. He tried not to think of Hugh, just feet away, listening to him declare undying love to his fiancée, and meaning it, until he remember that Hugh enacted similar scenes every time he went home to Jo, and meant them.
He supposed he was lucky Lisa’s street was secluded enough for the drama to play without interruption by tourists or paparazzi until Bobby was hoarse, Gaby had stopped shouting and Stephen appeared to be on the verge of tears with guilt and remorse. That was going to be Hugh’s problem to deal with. His was Gaby.
She’d finally agreed to get in the car and come back to Venice, even agreeing to his suggestion that she take a nice hot bath, unaware that he was using the time to change the sheets in case she was still in a suspicious frame of mind. He could barely look at the bed without thinking of what he’d done there with Hugh that afternoon and all the other times.
With the relief of getting out of the damned suit and back into a t-shirt and jeans came the thought that maybe he should have manned up and told Gaby the truth.
I’m not having an affair with Uma. (Are you crazy?) I’m fucking Hugh and I don’t think I can stop. Oh, by the way, I’ve fallen in love with him, but I still want to keep things the way they’ve always been between us. You’re okay with that, right?
He found her in the living room, sitting on the couch. She wore a pink terry-cloth robe and was idly playing with the remote control. The silence between them felt brittle. It was like being in an O’Neill play without the brilliant dialogue.
“Should I delete this?” she said sounding nearly normal.
He noticed that she had highlighted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the one with Hugh.
No. No. No. No!
“Oh, why not leave it. The Cheetah Girls were amazing.”
Gaby smiled at that. Bobby just hoped she wouldn’t look too closely at the list and notice “Inside The Actor’s Studio” still there from July. At least there was no way for her to tell how many times he’d watched it or what he’d been doing during some of them.
“You want some wine? It’s been a long day,” he offered, still not sure exactly where they stood.
She switched the set to live television, and started idly surfing through old movies and home shopping channels.
“I saw some herbal tea. That would be nice.”
He nodded, hesitant to leave her alone with the remote in case she landed on a Lifetime made-for-TV movie about a brilliant, accomplished woman and the scumbag who’s doing her dirt. He could end up dead and the audience would cheer.
“Bob,” she said softly, almost too calmly. Here it comes. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” he asked, mystified.
“I shouldn’t have gone off like that. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be friends with her.”
The mixture of guilt and relief was overwhelming.
“It’s OK. I’m sure it looked really bad. Especially if Stephen thought it was true.”
“But I know you. You wouldn’t do that. Stephen’s sweet, but sometimes he’s very sad and it makes him believe the worst about people.”
Bobby walked to the couch and Gaby rose to meet him for a hug.
“I love you, Bob.”
“Love you too.”
He meant it, still couldn’t imagine life without her, even if she was going to be in Israel while he was going to be in Hollywood…with Hugh.
“Just one thing.”
“You still want that tea?”
“If something does happen, someday, just promise me you won’t lie to me about it.”
“Of course not,” he agreed, knowing even that was a lie, because something had happened and he couldn’t stop. Hugh managed to make it work and so would he.
He just needed more practice.