Warnings/Author’s notes: Spoilers through the end of season two. Mentions of significant others. Appearances by the usual suspects and some new ones.
Disclaimer: It’s just a fantasy. It’s not the real thing. I’m not making any money.
Snogs and smooches and anything else she wants to Beta Goddess Carol, who never let me take the easy way out and always nurtures my Hugh & Bobby love.
Summary: Bobby gives an interview. Angst and smut ensue.
Word Count: 6966
The story so far:
Like A Hurricane
It took nearly three hours to shoot the first injection scene. There were several shots to set up and the guy from standards and practices was taking an almost obsessive interest in the proceedings. Nobody at Fox wanted to incur a Superbowl-size fine from the FCC.
Hugh found the process tedious, and he felt nothing but sympathy for Lisa. He remembered his own mortification on the set of “Fortysomething,” when it had been his turn to display his assets to the world. Lisa seemed to be handling the situation with good humor, no matter how many times she was asked to raise her skirt for the focus puller or the lighting guy.
Since they were the only actors on the set, they wound up chatting, or rather Lisa babbled nervously and Hugh listened, nodded and threw in an occasional remark where appropriate. Mostly Lisa was concerned with a fundraiser she was putting together for the Best Friends animal sanctuary and wondering where this story line was going and if they’d ever get around to calling action.
Then, out of nowhere she said, “You know Bobby’s going to London this summer? Him and Spacey are going to do some Eugene O’Neill workshops together at the Old Vic.”
Hugh did know. Bobby had mentioned it, somewhat shyly, over lunch a few days earlier. Hugh had wanted to tell Bobby how much he’d miss seeing him over the summer or mention the irony that Bobby would be in London while he was sweltering in Los Angeles. Instead he’d congratulated his friend and tried not to think about certain rumors he’d heard regarding Kevin Spacey.
“There’s been a lot of interest in O’Neill since that PBS thing. Did you ever get to see it?”
“Eventually,” he remarked casually
Over and over and over, he thought. Bobby’s bits, anyway. He’d practically memorized the monologue about the sea from “Long Day’s Journey”. Just the sound of Bobby’s voice…and now he had to convince the camera that House was (according to the script and the director) intrigued and somewhat aroused by the sight of Cuddy’s naked posterior.
That’s why they pay you the big bucks, Mr. Golden Globe winner, even if you can’t beat James Spader for an Emmy Award.
He wasn’t sure which was worse, that he actually cared a bit about the damned awards or that he was thinking in American again.
Why was Lisa mentioning this anyway? He could never tell if she knew anything, either about his feelings or what had actually happened, which had been absolutely nothing since last August when everything had happened wonderfully and ended horribly all in one night.
Things had finally gotten back to normal, or some Hollywood approximation of normal, and Hugh didn’t want to jeopardize that. He was quite unhappy about the script for the following week, which required him to punch Bobby. The fact that it was House hitting Wilson and that the scene was part of a delusion didn’t help. Even though he knew the scene would be choreographed so that no one got hurt, it still bothered him.
It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered what particular insanity had affected the creative team in the second season. The scene in this episode where he deliberately hurt the girl bothered him immensely, and he’d been dubious about the unfolding of the plot with Stacy. He wondered if it was the pressure of these ridiculously long seasons instead of the six- to ten-episode series he was used to. Who could keep up that kind of quality for twenty-four episodes?
He knew he wasn’t alone in that opinion. During the read-through for the episode where Cameron and Foreman were arguing about the medical journal article, he’d heard Omar and Jen humming the theme from “Jaws”. He’d shot a perplexed look at Bobby, who was trying not to crack up. Eventually, Bobby had provided an explanation of sorts, which left him shaking his head and smiling at the same time.
Just as Hugh was wondering if they’d ever get the scene over with, Martha Mitchell came in and apologized for the delays. She smiled sympathetically and promised Lisa they’d try and get through it as quickly as possible. To Hugh, she threw out the reminder about being “intrigued and somewhat aroused,” making him nervous about what exactly they had in store for next season and whether he should be buying shark repellent instead of shopping for a house in the Valley.
Lisa smiled at him over her shoulder. “Do you believe this?” she asked with an air of amusement.
And then the director called “action” and Hugh set about doing his job.
Good morning Los Angeles. This is KKJZ 88.92 on your dial. That was Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan with the quintet doing “Body and Soul”. It’s ten AM and it’s going to be a scorcher with temperatures in the 90’s all over the Valley, so put on your sunscreen and crank up the AC. We’ll be back at the top of the hour with shadow traffic. And now we have a classic track from Billie Holiday. This is “I Cried For You.”
Hugh had never expected any of this to happen. He’d done his audition tape in the bathroom of his room at the Kalahari Sands Hotel in Namibia because he thought the script for the “House MD” pilot was brilliant. He didn’t think he’d get a call, much less the part. Having been cast and signed a one-year contract, he certainly didn’t think the show would be any kind of success. He couldn’t have imagined that there would be a second season, or high enough ratings to guarantee a third season. He hadn’t planned on being a part of ridiculous polls like “sexiest doctor” or “hottest hottie” or whatever other insanity was going on this week.
He still wondered if he would have signed the first contract knowing that he’d end up spending so much time away from home. It had been nearly two years of missing Jo and the kids, punctuated by occasional trips to London that only made him more homesick when he left. He’d dithered over moving the family because he couldn’t let himself believe this was really happening. When asked he’d say, “Oh, the kids have their own lives. It would be really hard on them.” It was really his conviction that none of this was real and the show was getting canceled tomorrow.
And then there was Bobby.
The part of Wilson was the last major casting decision, so he hadn’t met Robert Sean Leonard until the first full cast read-through. He’d been struck by Bobby’s good looks and shy charm even before he realized just how good his acting was and what kind of chemistry he brought to the House/Wilson relationship.
Hugh certainly wasn’t planning any on-set romances. The last time he played that game the results had been disastrous. He told himself he was past that kind of thing and went on being typically arch, teasing and casually flirty with Bobby, thinking the young man wouldn’t even notice.
Who did I think I was fooling?
He needed to get out of bed. Jo was already out with the real estate agent looking at a property in Malibu and he was supposed to meet them at noon.
Last night’s end-of-season party had been a completely different affair from the year before. Fox had taken a private room at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, which meant the party was anything but private. Fancy dress, bad hors d’oeuvres, photographers and spouses. No piano. No private tiffs. No kisses in the Hollywood Hills.
Stop that. You’re the bastard who let it happen and then decided to do the right thing after you’d…
What is this? Beat up on Hugh day? I didn’t notice it on the calendar.
You brought it up. And look who’s feeling a bit frisky this morning.
No. No. No. Not now.
He decided to get up, have a cold shower and check his email. Anything but rehash what had happened at Bobby’s apartment in Woodland Hills and the look on Bobby’s face when Hugh told him it wasn’t going to happen again. It had made for a rough few months during the winter, which they’d gotten through like the professionals they were.
Things had eased up in March. Hugh felt like he had dodged a bullet, even though he didn’t deserve to. They’d had tremendous fun shooting the episode where they were wearing the tuxedos and playing poker. He was surprised to find that the final cut had included a scene of Wilson breaking into laughter when House said something about a barnacle. The barnacle was in the script, but the laughing affection on both of their faces was not.
Hugh had convinced himself that he’d gotten over thinking of Bobby as anything but a good friend and colleague. Then he’d seen him on that PBS special on Eugene O’Neill. Between the white shirt and the voice, it was like day one all over again.
But I didn’t do anything, he reminded himself in the shower. Just went on acting like nothing had ever happened.
Didn’t do anything? What about the DVDs?
I like to watch movies.
How many times can you watch “Tape” with the sound off?
It’s better that way.
And “Dead Poets Society?”
He was beautiful. Still is.
You need help.
I certainly need to stop talking to myself.
He dried off, got dressed and turned on his computer.
There was a message from Stephen. Good. That should be amusing. The subject line said only “! ?” The body of the of the message was a link:
Hugh clicked on it, assuming it would be a review of some play or show featuring a member of Stephen’s vast circle of friends, many of whom were also Hugh’s.
It wasn’t. It was an interview with Bobby, which was surprising because Bobby was fairly press-shy. Of course, he’d also been known to gripe about the lack of requests.
Hugh loathed giving interviews in any medium, but found himself doing them more and more frequently at the behest of his manager and agent. There was an offer on the table from “Inside The Actor’s Studio,” which he was resisting mightily.
The one thing he’d learned was to be glib, be charming, rattle off your canned lines and never give them anything of yourself. Bobby had been in the business long enough to know better, but apparently didn’t.
It wasn’t so bad that he was comparing the character of Wilson to King Lear’s fool, although that was a bit of a stretch. Speaking about a co-star was another matter.
“Hugh hates himself and he’s very funny about it.”
He was going to have a talk with the boy.
“I’m the luckiest man in Hollywood. I work only with Hugh pretty much, who’s great.”
Kind of him to say so. And after the interviewer, a Maureen Ryan who he didn’t remember ever talking to, said something about hearing Hugh’s voice on the phone,
“As we know, I’m straight, but yeah, it’s like, homina homina homina.”
Hugh took a deep breath. No wonder Stephen was using punctuation to chew him out. He wasn’t sure exactly what “homina homina homina” meant, but it was suggestive enough to raise the hackles. He’d confided in Stephen about his attraction and been read the riot act in return, which had played a major part in his not pursuing the affair, even after that incredible night.
He had Bobby’s number written down but had only called it on two occasions and made a point of not memorizing it. He dialed it now, assuming he’d get a machine and wondering what he would say if he did.
“Hello?” came a sleepy voice.
“Taking Rob Lowe’s advice, are you, Bobby?” he said, referencing a quote from the interview and trying not to think of Bobby in bed, specifically what he might or might not be wearing there.
He’d planned to immediately say something about the interview and ask Bobby to keep certain thoughts to himself or at least out of the press in the future. The sleepy voice threw him off
“What? Huh? (yawn) Hugh? What’s up? Sorry. I was sleeping.”
“Yes. I can tell. Do you think you could rouse yourself enough to drop by? I’d like to talk to you.”
“At your place? On Sweetzer?”
“My place for the time being. Can you come now?”
“Yeah. Sure. No problem. I’ll be (yawn) right there.”
“Please have some coffee first. I wouldn’t want you to kill anybody on the way over.”
Robert’s driving never failed to horrify Hugh whenever he witnessed it. That he managed to traverse the highways and byways of Southern California without actual carnage spoke to the existence of some higher power.
Then he realized he’d just invited Bobby back to his apartment.
Fine. I’ll just give him a piece of my mind and send him on his way.
He hung up and took the opportunity to make some tea and re-read the offending interview.
“I don’t know how he’s going to do it. To be that hard on yourself and be that disappointed in your own work. But as I said, and underline this four times, he’s wrong.”
You can underline it as many times as you like, Bobby. It won’t change anything. And when did you start knowing me so well? On the other hand, when did it become your business to tell the world at large? Because I really do not need to be getting disapproving punctuation from Stephen when I’m not doing anything.
He was jolted from his reverie by the sound of the buzzer. Had Bobby broken both the laws of God and California to get here quickly or had he lost track of time while brooding? He pushed the button by the door to allow Bobby past the front gate of the condo.
He waited some more, still trying to come up with a suitably chastising opening salvo to let his friend know how cross he was. Any planned comments went to dust when the knock came at the door and he opened it to find Bobby standing there in jeans, sneakers and a white button-down shirt, holding a large Starbucks cup. He might have made an attempt at hair brushing, but the cowlick was resisting any attempts at control. With the horn-rimmed glasses, sleepy eyes, and tousled hair, he looked, as always when out of “Wilson” garb, impossibly young.
“Any reason you got me up at this ungodly hour?” Bobby asked with an air of amusement. It was nearly eleven in the morning.
Hugh blinked a few times, reminding himself that he was annoyed with Bobby, no matter how damn good he looked. “Homina, homina, homina?” he asked accusingly.
At first Bobby looked confused, then slightly embarrassed, then defiant.
“What’s the problem, exactly?” he asked, taking a sip of what Hugh assumed was his usual grande low fat latte. And why do I know exactly what he drinks, anyway? “Everyone’s allowed to say how sexy you are except me? Lisa, Jennifer, Sela…”
“There’s a difference.”
“I’m going the ‘act so gay it couldn’t possibly be true’ route.”
“No. You’re not. And I don’t need to read that much about myself and what I think of the work.”
“Oh come on, Hugh. You wear your insecurity on your sleeve most of the time anyway.”
“Not for public consumption.”
“OK. I’m sorry about that. But not about saying how attractive you are. Both you and the character.”
“Please don’t do it again.”
“Why does this bother you so much?”
“And what about all your interviews?”
“Which interviews?” Hugh asked warily.
“When I was hurting like bloody hell as you so accurately put it, I got kind of stalkery and started Googling you. I read all the interviews that you and Stephen Fry are always giving about how much you love each other. He says stuff about you that makes ‘homina, homina, homina’ sound like a Bronx cheer.”
“Hardly the same thing. Everybody knows it’s a big joke,” he said quickly, mentally apologizing to Stephen for downplaying what was certainly not a big joke in his life.
“You don’t have to tell me about Stephen,” Bobby enunciated carefully, with the implication that he already knew.
“We are not going to have this conversation,” Hugh insisted, trying to keep an emotional edge out of his voice. “I can’t talk about it. It’s not fair.”
“But I have to come over here and defend myself to you for saying something out loud? I didn’t insinuate or imply anything. I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t, even though…” He didn’t need to spell out what he could have said.
Bobby waved his coffee cup about, indicating that he was looking for a place to get rid of it and walked further into the apartment without being invited. He had to notice the extra suitcases and other evidence that Hugh was no longer living a bachelor existence.
“Fine. Freedom of the press it is. Say whatever you like to whomever you like. Now please get out.”
He hated sounding that cold, but if it took pure rudeness to end what was becoming an uncomfortable conversation, so be it.
Bobby went into the kitchen and tossed the paper cup into a wastebasket, before returning to face Hugh, who was standing near the bed. Hugh wondered how he had ended up on the defensive.
Bobby continued speaking matter-of-factly, as though he hadn’t just been asked to leave.
“When I was on location doing ‘Much Ado’, I spent a lot of time with Emma. We were in this beautiful little town in Italy. Ken was working like a madman to bring it in under budget and keep the suits at bay, but he was also trying to get in Kate Beckinsale’s pants. Emma had to act like nothing was going on, so she hung out with me and Keanu and then Keanu would get some bee in his bonnet and disappear for hours and that just left the two of us and a bottle of Chianti.”
Hugh winced. Emma did like to talk, especially with a little wine in her.
“She talked about Cambridge and these friends of hers and how even when she was going out with one of them, she was really the outsider. That they were soulmates.”
Hugh didn’t bother refuting this. “What else did you learn from the lovely Emma?”
“Don’t get mad at her. She didn’t use names. Although one time she was crying and she slipped. She said if Jo could handle it, she should be able to. It didn’t make sense to me at the time.”
“And now it does?”
“Enough to know that there was something and it didn’t stop when you got married.”
“But it has since.” Except when it hasn’t. “And it doesn’t justify what happened between you and me.”
“I’m not asking it to. I’m not asking for anything. You’re the one who called me. Why are we having this conversation here anyway? There’s a Starbucks downstairs.”
“Unlike everybody else in this business, I don’t feel the need to conduct my personal life in public.”
“You could have just chewed me out over the phone.”
“That would be rude,” he answered, knowing exactly how ludicrous it sounded. In Hollywood, diets, divorces and deals were done via mobile.
“Maybe you wanted me back here for a reason.”
Bobby was clearly angry and had that challenging, taunting look in his eyes. The one that bypassed Hugh’s conscience and reminded him that the scorching lust he felt for his co-star was here, now and very real, as opposed to a nostalgic longing.
“Do you know that Uma calls me after every show?” Bobby demanded, as though he was supposed to know who exactly Uma was. Then it occurred to him that he did.
“Uma? As in ‘Oprah meet Uma’? The girl from ‘Tape’?”
“How do you even know that one? It was in the theaters for, like, two days and disappeared. Ethan did it as a favor to the director and I did it as a favor to Ethan. Anyway, she’s nuts about the show and she’s also just plain nuts if you ask me. She’s obsessed with the idea that House and Wilson either have or had or will have a thing going on. She calls me every Tuesday and makes these noises on the telephone.”
“It’s like getting an obscene phone call from a deranged thirteen-year-old. Last week they showed the one about the faith healer. You know that scene we did on the sidewalk set? The argument with the “functional vampire” speech? Uma said it was so intense on the screen, she thought we were going to grab each other right there on the sidewalk. And I told her she was crazy, just like I always do, but you know what? She was absolutely right. Because when we filmed it, I did want to grab you. Just like I do right now.”
Bobby took a step forward, invading Hugh’s personal space, making him hyper-aware of the bed that dominated the room.
He suddenly knew that if he closed his eyes, stepped forward or even smiled, there’d be no turning back. He replayed Stephen’s admonishment -- “This has to stop” -- and found it had lost any power over him. The power was all in the way Bobby was looking at him and the way that look made him feel.
Hugh had been struggling against this for nearly ten months for so many good reasons. He ran the checklist again. They were all still valid, but he was tired of fighting.
He looked at Bobby again. The expression on his face had deepened into something beyond desire. Now there was the sense of just how much Hugh was putting on the line. Bobby knew what he was asking and wanted it anyway. Perversely, Hugh found that as exciting as the desire itself.
He let himself smile and close his eyes and took a step forward all at the same time.
In an instant he was caught up in a whirlwind. Bobby’s arms grabbing him. A kiss so fierce and desperate and hungry that it made him realize that he’d been starving as well. As he tasted espresso and sugar and passion, Hugh wondered if it was possible to alleviate months of deprivation in a single kiss. Possible or not, Bobby seemed determined to try.
He’d never expected this to happen again. He’d certainly never expected Bobby to be this aggressive, to hold him so tightly or to absolutely devour his mouth until he could hardly breathe or think.
When he tried to do both, he found hands trying to unbutton his shirt, but he was beyond knowing or caring if they were his or Bobby’s. All his clothing was getting much too tight, especially the trousers. He’d planned on wearing a smart suit to convince the real estate agent of his worthiness to spend a small fortune on one of her Malibu properties and now all he wanted to do was get the blasted thing off. He needed to feel skin on skin and the bed was temptingly close.
The jacket and tie were off, the shirt open and Bobby’s beautiful hands on him, touching all the sensitive places he had apparently memorized in that one brief night and pushing him back onto the bed. Bobby lying on top of him, grinding their hips together, while his tongue invaded Hugh’s mouth again and again. Hugh opened himself up to the ravishment, trying not to wonder if Gaby got the same kind of kisses.
“Different this time, huh? I’ve had ten months to think about this.” Bobby’s eyes were gleaming or maybe just unfocused because the glasses were off. It took a second to absorb the words and almost immediately Bobby’s mouth was taking his yet again, making him more aroused and dizzier than he could remember in… well, he couldn’t remember at all.
Hugh couldn’t think straight, could barely breathe, and maybe it was better that way. If he couldn’t think, he didn’t have to take responsibility.
This time it was his clothing scattered everywhere, trousers only halfway down, socks not off, and Bobby now behind him, wrapping him in a blanket of heat, using his mouth and hands, stroking, pressing, not wanting to take no for an answer.
Part of him still thought he should stop. Apologize for letting it get this far again. That same part was a bit scared of what had been unleashed in Bobby and the equally voracious need that Bobby brought out in him. Especially now that his trousers and boxers were completely off. There was no hiding how much he wanted this. The hand stroking him was soft, but the grip strong, controlling the pace. The other hand had moved to the small of his back and was gently kneading the place where it sometimes throbbed after a long day of walking with House’s limp.
Arousal poured through him, along with the unavoidable guilt. He shouldn’t be doing this. He shouldn’t let Bobby do this. He shouldn’t be writhing against Bobby, letting the other’s heat burn into him. They were both…
Sounds were coming out of his mouth. Not proper words, just grunts and groans, and single syllables that meant nothing except “Oh god, I want you so much” and “Please, don’t stop” and “We should stop immediately.”
Bobby’s hand was moving faster, the grip tightening, making Hugh feel that Bobby knew every secret of his body. The idea both terrified and delighted him.
He felt hot breath on his neck. Bobby was clearly holding back from any contact that would leave a mark. Then Bobby’s voice in his ear, the voice from the documentary, the one that could reduce him to this same state of abject need every time he heard it: “Are you sure?” He knew the question wasn’t just ‘did he want to do this, here, now’. That ship had sailed and was going to dock in Bobby’s hand any second now.
The question was ‘if this happened, where did they go from here?’ Bobby was asking, begging, not to be shut out for another three months or ten months or a year, or until whenever Hugh’s lust overcame common sense again. Hugh knew he was right. He couldn’t go through another year of pain and guilt. He couldn’t look at Bobby every day at the studio. He couldn’t want him that badly and not have him.
Yes, he was betraying Jo. He’d deal with that guilt soon enough. This moment was theirs. “Yes,” he managed to gasp. Bobby squeezed harder and pumped faster and the other hand was moving into him, teasing and probing. Hugh felt his toes curl, realizing that this time his socks were on. That image, and Bobby’s final squeeze, pushed him over the edge.
He felt the sensation pulsing through his body, from his toes up through his legs, making his chest and arms throb. He cried out once, and gasped, feeling Bobby’s hand stay on him as he came hard, amazed again at how good it was when they were together.
Even before he’d gotten his breath or sanity back, he could feel Bobby’s hands, now slick with sweat and come, working their way up his legs to his arse, where they started teasing him again. One finger moving against the crack, just the way he’d… Such a good student, his Bobby, and there was no reason anymore to not think of him as “his Bobby,” because he so clearly was.
If he’d been able to speak, he might have told him not to worry. He didn’t need much preparation, he was ready. And then he realized what he was ready for, what the hardness he could feel behind him certainly meant.
He already had one betrayal on the day. Letting Bobby have him that way would be another. Only one person had ever done that. He had a brief flash of Stephen’s boundless capacity to be hurt. On the other hand, it had been a long time, years really, and Stephen now had his own harem. If he liked to get maudlin and imply that they were only consolation prizes, that was his problem.
Bobby must have sensed his turmoil. He didn’t ask anything this time. Just waited. Poised. Breathing hoarsely.
His Bobby was not a consolation prize. His Bobby was what he wanted. Inside him. Now.
He pushed back against the fingers to let Bobby know and was gratified to find that their communication remained perfect. They didn’t need to say anything, although Bobby decided to get chatty.
“I get it, you know,” he said almost conversationally, working a finger inside him. “I know you’re not leaving your wife. I’m not your soulmate. We’re not walking the red carpet together.”
“But,” Hugh replied, letting out a gasp, and feeling his eyes widen at Bobby’s skillful manipulation, “think what a smashing couple we’d make.”
“Uma’s on my case to go to the Emmy Awards this year. She thought I looked really good in my tuxedo in the poker tournament episode.”
“You did.” Hugh smiled at the memory and then let out a low groan. A second finger. The other hand cupping and caressing him back to hardness. He didn’t think it was even possible so soon, but the proof was right there, getting stronger by the minute. His body was hungry for more and Bobby was doing everything to make it happen again.
“Not as good as you did. This is OK?”
“Yes. It’s. UH. Yes. Like. That. Perfect. How on earth do you…?”
“Learned from the best.”
“Then get... ohhhgod... on with it.”
And then Bobby was pushing, pushing inside of him. Amazingly enough, he could still think.
“You told her, didn’t you? Uma.”
“Yeah. When something like that happens to you, you have to tell somebody.”
“I suppose so.”
He didn’t know how he could still talk, much less form coherent sentences. It had been so long since he’d had this particular feeling. So full. So hot. That it was Bobby meant everything. His Bobby, inside him, moving in and out, finding a tempo, telling him how long he’d been waiting, how much he’d dreamed of, how badly he wanted, and what he was going to… right now… and by that time, Hugh realized he was also. Again. This time letting it go on as long as it could, feeling the heat without and within, the fire in every part of his body burning through him until every need was satisfied. For now.
He lost track of time, caught up in the spell of what had happened, feeling the warmth of Bobby’s body next to his, until he heard something.
The phone was ringing. A real phone, not one of those annoying cellular phones that made one feel surrounded by a population of schizophrenics. The phone was next to his bed. He needed to get to it, but his arms were wrapped around a warm body that they didn’t want to let go of.
The ringing continued and Hugh suddenly remembered that before Bobby had walked in the door, there had been a very important something he was supposed to do today. Malibu. Real estate agent. Jo. Bloody hell.
He somehow got his arms back under his own direction and picked up the receiver.
“Hugh. What are you still doing there? We’re supposed to be looking at the Malibu house this afternoon.” Her voice was equal parts concern and irritation. “I’m here with Isabel Torres. The property’s lovely. I think we might even be able to convince the kids, once they get over their pouting. It’s the boys really. I rang them up early this morning. Rebecca’s already got a list of actors she wants you to introduce her to. Do you know anyone who knows Matthew McConnaughey?”
“Oh dear. Jo. I, I’m so sorry. I decided to check my email and then look at a few things and time just ran away from me.” Hugh hated lying to Jo, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t had practice. “Please apologize to Isabel. You two start lunch and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He felt exactly like the cad he’d been trying not to be for ten months.
“But the traffic…”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take the bike. Cuts plenty of time off the commute. Lane splitting and all.”
“All right. Please hurry. We might need to put down an offer today. Isabel and I will be at Gladstone’s on Pacific Coast Highway.”
Hugh wanted to say something smooth to cover his tracks. Something like “Order me a prawn cocktail”. However the sight of Bobby’s bare arse and legs as the rest of his body hung over the edge of the bed looking for something made the thought of anything with the word “cock” in it a very bad idea indeed.
“OK, I’m leaving now,” he finished feebly and hung up the phone, still entranced by the sight of Bobby’s naked body.
“What are you looking for?” he asked the beautifully smooth back.
“Glasses. I had to get them off before I kissed you, and I didn’t have time to put them somewhere, so I just kind of threw them. Unfortunately, I can’t see them when I’m not wearing-- ah, there they are.” Bobby pulled himself back onto the bed and turned to face him, clad only in his glasses. “Hugh, you need to get dressed, get going.”
“I need to get the bed a bit tidied.”
“I can do that for you.”
Hugh shook his head. Why did Bobby want to play this particular role in his life? How many people can I hurt in one day? This must be some kind of record. Jo. Stephen. And now Bobby. He must feel the same way I made him feel last time.
He shook himself out of a guilty daze and starting finding clothes to wear on the bike. He briefly wondered if he should take another shower? Did he smell of sex, of Bobby? He settled for a quick wash and an extra splash of aftershave. When he came out of the loo, he was faced with more uncomfortable questioning.
“So who did you tell?”
Bobby was trying to find all his clothing, while making the bed that they had demolished. “You agreed that when something that incredible happens, you have to tell someone. I told Uma. Who did you tell?”
Hugh shook his head. He still wanted to keep those two parts of his life as separate as possible. He’d forgotten how well Bobby was starting to know him.
“He wasn’t very happy about it, was he?”
Hugh busied himself hanging up the suit that he wasn’t going to wear.
“It’s OK. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t tell Jen.”
“Jen who?” For a second he had absolutely no idea. “Our little Jen? What makes you think I would tell her?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes she says things to me. Like she knows something. Or she smirks.”
Hugh did a double-take trying to envision Jennifer Morrison smirking.
“When we shot this one scene where Wilson was talking to Cameron about cheating. I had a line about ‘You’d be surprised what you can live with.’ It was when I was really feeling awful. She just kept looking at me funny.”
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” he said softly.
“Feeling awful or having Jennifer looking at me funny?”
They needed to talk about this more, but there was no time. Malibu awaited. “I was more concerned about Lisa having an inkling. She’s the savvy one, don’t you think?”
“Lisa?” Bobby said with a disbelieving grin. “Come on. I love Lisa, but she’s the last person who would notice anything unless it involves dogs.”
Hugh ran a hand over his face. Smooth, he realized. He wondered which one Bobby preferred.
Either they were completely obvious and everybody knew or they were paranoid and nobody had a clue. He went to the hall closet for his motorcycle boots and helmet. While putting the boots on, he caught Bobby smiling. He grinned back. Memories of a motorcycle ride he would never forget, followed by another round of guilt. He was putting everybody in an impossible position. Maybe there was still time to make it right.
“Bobby…” he started to say, and damned if Bobby didn’t know exactly what was coming. Hugh could hear the pain and anger waiting to spring up in Bobby’s voice.
“You said you were sure.”
That’s right. I did. And I am.
“I’m pretty sure I’m about to become a Californian, at least for the time being. I’m sure that I need to find a way to introduce my daughter to Matthew McConnaughy. I’m sure you’re off to London. Something about Eugene O’Neill.”
“And I’m sure I’m going to miss you horribly. I’m sure I’m going to find some way to do this again because I’m a selfish bastard, but I’m not sure it’s fair to ask you to be…”
“Your American bit on the side.” Hugh winced to hear it out loud. “I’m selfish too. I want you so much, I’ll take what I can get. You don’t get all the guilt. Some of it’s mine,” he finished seriously.
He could tell that Bobby was going to propel himself back into his arms, and then he’d never get to Malibu.
“When are you leaving for dear old Blighty?”
“What?” Obviously Bobby still needed British lessons.
Hugh started singing, knowing that would help defuse the tension. “Take me back to dear old Blighty. Put me on the train for London town. Take me over there. Drop me anywhere. Liverpool, Leeds or Birmingham, well I don’t care.” Bobby was smiling so broadly that Hugh was tempted to segue into “It’s a Long way to Tipperary.”
“Two weeks. Gaby’s meeting me there. She’s doing a series of lectures at the British Museum. We’re actually going to have a few months together.”
Hugh was watching Bobby intently. He’d gone from “I want you so much” to summer in London with his fiancée rather quickly.
Oh, no you don’t. You do not get to be jealous now.
“We got some friends in Bloomsbury…” Bobby caught his look and pursed his lips in obvious embarrassment. “Yeah. I know. Obviously, I still need to figure out…Are you getting back to London at all before we start shooting again?”
Hugh looked out the window, avoiding Bobby’s eyes and the question. Any quick hops across the pond would have to include a very serious, possibly unpleasant discussion with Stephen. He could only hope that Stephen didn’t develop a sudden interest in Eugene O’Neill. Considering Stephen’s protectiveness toward Jo and the kids and his somewhat proprietary attitude toward Hugh, the fact that Stephen and Bobby would be in the same city for any length of time made him nervous.
Actually, Bobby had it easy. If he’d made peace with what this situation said about his sexuality, he was only cheating on one woman, not his whole life.
He’d met Bobby’s fiancée. She was a beautiful woman of striking intelligence, clearly able to square being in love with maintaining careers that kept them separated for months at a time. Bobby shouldn’t be jeopardizing that relationship for this, whatever “this” turned out to be.
“You should marry that girl,” Hugh advised, appreciating the hypocrisy, but meaning it anyway.
“Because that solved all your problems.”
They were instantly staring at each other on the verge of either a fight or another ’I want to grab you right now’ moment. Hugh did the grabbing this time, wrapping his hands around Bobby’s head to give his fingers a last feeling of that soft hair. He buried himself in the kiss to remind Bobby of what they’d both be missing, just in case Kevin Spacey got any bright ideas. Then he pushed him away and practically marched him out the door.
Finally, he could think again. He seemed to have committed himself to something, although he wasn’t sure what.
Bobby was right about one thing. OK, more than one thing. He and Stephen had hidden in plain sight for years. Maybe Bobby’s “homina, homina, homina” wasn’t such a bad idea. And neither was Uma Thurman’s strange idea about the fictional characters.
Interviewers kept asking him who he thought House should be with. And if they didn’t ask, the fans always did. What if he said he thought House and Wilson should get together, but Bobby wasn’t interested? That would throw everybody off the scent.
I see your “homina homina homina” and raise you a “I think we have tremendous chemistry on screen, but Bobby’s too straight to deal with it.”
He picked up the phone and left a message for his agent saying he’d be happy to appear on “Inside The Actor’s Studio,” before grabbing his keys and leaving the apartment.
You really are a manipulative bastard, aren’t you? came the unbidden thought as he rode the lift down to the car park.
He hated it when his conscience sounded like Stephen.
It’s just a television interview.
You know what I mean.
I don’t need your help to feel guilty. I’m doing a perfectly good job on my own.
Hugh mounted the bike and turned the key in the ignition, drowning out the voices with the roar of the engine.
The things I do for you, Bobby, he thought, leaving for Malibu with a glint in his eye.
And yet more Hugh&Bobby this way