Word Count: 7444
Summary: What’s going on in Hugh’s trailer? Includes angst, smut, more angst and appearances by the Usual Suspects, among others.
Warning: This is RPS. That means it involves real people, including their real families, friends, and financial advisors. If that is going to upset or offend you, you may want to read something else.
Spoilers for "Meaning"
Disclaimer: It’s bullshit. I made it up. None of this happened and I’m not making any money for saying it did.
Crossposted for maximum exposure. Mods, feel free to delete if it doesn't meet criteria.
Thanks again and again and again to Beta Goddess Carol for going and staying on the journey with me.
The story so far:
Like A Hurricane
I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous. I’m not jealous.
Bobby tried to focus on a Malcolm Gladwell article in the New Yorker. He could have offered to run lines with Omar, who was engrossed in his script, but as usual Wilson and Foreman had no scenes together. What had he told that woman from the Chicago Tribune? “It’s great because I only work with Hugh.”
This week, he got to work with Lisa as well, which was always fun. He had two scenes with Lisa and a whopping seven with Hugh, which had caused his agent to practically explode with happiness and start babbling about contract negotiations. Bobby had merely highlighted his dialogue in yellow, enjoying the idea of Wilson and Cuddy picking cases for House, Wilson doing his “House’s conscience” schtick and even refusing to prescribe pain medication. He knew they’d have fun doing the skateboard scene, where House called Wilson “bitchy.”
It was the last scene of the script that stopped his hand in mid-highlight. “Just because he was right doesn’t mean he wasn’t wrong.” Bobby knew he could make it sound convincing, but that was just a vocal trick. Why would Wilson do such a thing? The next time one of his theater friends gave him shit about taking “easy money”, he’d remind them how difficult it was to maintain a sense of character over so many episodes with multiple writers. Until now, Wilson had been written consistently, if sparingly. Now his character was acting like a jerk and there was nothing Bobby could do but act Wilson’s jerkiness as honestly as possible and hope the next script would redeem him somehow.
It would have been nice to sit down with Hugh and see if he had similar misgivings, but it was understood that one didn’t go knocking on Hugh’s trailer door asking to rehearse or chat about character motivations. Hugh was insanely busy. Aside from his heavy shooting schedule, there were seemingly endless interviews, meetings, and the various responsibilities of being the star of a hit series. They were the kinds of obligations that Bobby had spent nearly twenty years avoiding. After “Dead Poets Society”, there’d been about a year of media attention, usually accompanied by something about being “the thinking woman’s sex symbol”. If he’d taken a big budget movie or popular television project then, things would have been very different. Luckily, he’d driven his agent crazy by insisting on sticking with theater and almost deliberately uncommercial movies.
So he had no right to be miffed about sharing a dressing room with Omar and Jesse while Hugh had a private trailer. What was griping his guts at the moment was the fact that the person who was in the trailer with Hugh was the same person who wasn’t sitting in the dressing room fighting with Omar over what music to play or which station to watch on the portable TV set.
Jesse had the privilege of hanging out in Hugh’s trailer because they were watching the Tour de France. One of the “sprinters” happened to be a fellow Aussie and Jesse was a big fan. To Bobby, it was just a bunch of guys in spandex. Shouldn’t they all be sprinting? He’d made it his business to grasp the finer points of Premier League Soccer -- Sorry, football -- but the appeal of watching a chem lab on wheels eluded him.
Not jealous. Certainly not of Jesse, even though Jesse was Australian and so was Audrey Cooke, a name Bobby wished he didn’t know. During his internet stalking period, between reading Hugh’s and Stephen’s “too gay to be serious” interviews, he’d come across the gossip about the affair that nearly broke up Hugh’s marriage. Hugh had once told him that he’d never hurt his wife and family that way again.
Certainly not over Jesse Spencer. Once he’d heard about Hugh’s “antipodean bum fluff” line it was hard to imagine Hugh taking Jesse the least bit seriously except as a nice guy to watch a bike race with. So why do I care about Jesse being in his trailer right now and not me? Because it felt like Hugh was shutting him out again, after promising he wouldn’t.
Of course that promise had been made at a particularly intimate moment. Bobby felt himself harden at the memory of practically throwing Hugh on the bed and stripping his clothes off and…
STOP! This wasn’t the time. A production assistant could come knocking on the door at any minute. He was scheduled to work on the back lot with Hugh this morning. The “nagging and wincing” scene, he called it.
“You’re lucky,” Omar said, slightly petulantly.
“Huh?” Bobby had the sudden scary feeling that Omar had been reading his mind, including the last part, which would have been more than embarrassing.
“You’ve got some good scenes. Me and Jesse? Nada. Might as well apply for unemployment.”
He’s got a point. I’m sitting here worrying about character development. At least I’ve got a character. Those three… “Hey, you’re not thinking of doing a George and Jorja, are you?”
“Never mind. Something I heard in--”
At that point, the expected knock on the dressing room door came, but it wasn’t a PA. It was Hugh, carrying House’s skateboard and dressed in a grey suit over a blue shirt with the collar and three buttons open. Bobby was already wearing Wilson’s buttoned up shirt and tie, which suddenly felt much tighter.
“Hello, gents. Omar, I believe you’re wanted on soundstage three.”
“How’s the big race?” Omar asked sarcastically, no more interested than Bobby was.
“McEwan came out of nowhere and smoked the whole pack. Jesse was so happy I thought he was going to throw a phone or something.”
“And they do it all again tomorrow?” Bobby tried to sound like he wasn’t just humoring the star of the show.
“For three weeks. Next week they go to the Pyrenees,” Hugh replied cheerfully.
Omar shook his head and left for another thankless scene with Jesse and Jennifer.
Bobby found himself alone with Hugh for the first time since…the last time they’d been together. There was something he desperately needed to say but the only words he managed to get out were an inane comment about Britain getting eliminated from the World Cup.
Hugh shut the door behind him and leaned against it, still holding the skateboard. “Just as well. If they’d actually won, Becks would have been knighted and then we’d all be stuck with Lady Posh.” He shuddered with mock horror.
“I was there for two months. If I never see another picture of those two again, I’ll be perfectly happy.” Bobby got up, ready to go do the scene, but there was a tall Englishman blocking his way, with an impish smile and impossibly blue eyes. “Any thoughts on the scene?” he asked, as if nothing were happening. “Because I…” and finally Hugh stopped the conversation by reaching out with his free hand and pulling Bobby close enough to brush their lips together, making him gasp with relief and frustration. The contact was momentary and nearly ephemeral, while Bobby wanted to spend hours reacquainting himself with Hugh’s mouth.
He managed to pull himself away long enough to mutter, “We can’t do this here.”
“All right,” Hugh agreed, a little too readily. “The folks at the Beeb never minded, but I guess they do things differently here.”
Bobby would have come up with a witty rejoinder if he weren’t trying to focus on the scene at hand instead of the promise of the kiss and the beginning of arousal it had engendered. He didn’t have a lab coat to hide behind.
“Shall we show them how it’s done?” said Hugh, pushing him away and opening the door behind him at the same time.
“At least no cane.”
“For the nonce. Now all I have to do is master this thing.”
“You have a stunt double.”
“Shhhh,” Hugh replied, finger to lips. Then he whispered, “What are you doing tonight?”
Bobby shrugged. Why bother saying anything?
Hugh nodded. “All right then. Tonight.”
Tonight, tonight. Won’t be just any night... tonight there will be no morning…oh shit. Bobby’s internal musical performance was interrupted by the realization that he had to tell Hugh what had happened in London. Now he had two things not to think about.
The exterior scenes with Hugh and the skateboard required multiple set-ups, extras, the stunt double and enough takes to satisfy Deran Sarafian’s artistic pretensions. Bobby was left with too much time on his hands not to think about what had happened in the dressing room. When he tried to push that memory out of his mind, he was left with what had happened in London and how he was going to tell Hugh about it. “Hugh, we’ve got a problem” was clearly unacceptable.
After a day on the back lot, the shooting schedule called for them to go back into the studio for the scene on the new balcony set. It was impossible to get through the first few takes without laughing. The set would appear to be much higher than it was, but they were really only a few feet above the floor. The script said that House was throwing grapes at the janitor, but there was no janitor in sight.
It was past six o’clock. Hugh started chucking his grapes at the cameraman and then at Deran when he came running in to bring the situation under control. This was no way to shoot a serious discussion of why House didn’t feel anything when a patient’s wife thanked him for being there during an operation. Bobby was trying to get into Wilson’s head and focus. He still wasn’t sure why Wilson was lecturing House about levels of happiness, a scene that would end in an operating room, making Wilson seem to be an even bigger yente. Be happy you’ve got the air time.
The director looked at his watch, then his call sheet, and mercifully announced they were done for tonight. Bobby was done, anyway. Deran wanted to Hugh to do some preliminary blocking for a scene with Jen, Jesse and Omar. Hugh favored Deran’s back with a fierce glare that only Bobby could see, while saying politely, “I’ll be right there.” When they were alone on that ridiculous platform passing for a balcony, Hugh said,
“My trailer, around eight, all right?”
He suddenly felt dizzy, as if they were ten stories up.
Bobby approached Hugh’s trailer trying not to feel like an obsessed stalker. I may be obsessed, but I’m not a stalker. The sun had just hit the horizon, producing an array of blinding colors and sending glints off Hugh’s Bonneville Triumph. The closest trailer, nearly fifty yards away, was Victor Garber’s.
He glanced around the lot to see if anyone was watching before reminding himself that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Just knocking on the door of a co-star and friend. It would probably be better if he stopped acting like he was about to do a drug deal in Washington Heights.
“Hugh,” he called, expecting the door to open and Hugh to appear, ready to take him for a motorcycle ride or suggest meeting elsewhere.
Bobby did not expect to turn the handle and have the door open to reveal Hugh, seated in a leather chair, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, feet bare, one hand resting casually on his crotch. He blinked and checked to see if he was wearing his glasses. While he’d spent long hours fantasizing about Hugh in various states of undress, this didn’t seem to be one of his. The large-screen TV showing CNN with the sound off was a giveaway.
“You might want to lock that door. You never know who’s likely to wander in.”
“Stray Australians can be such a nuisance.” Bobby hadn’t intended his voice to come out quite that harshly. Hugh fixed him with a lazy, lusty gaze that focused his mind sharply on the matter at hand. “Are you starting the party without me?”
“I wasn’t sure you were going to accept the invitation.”
That was ridiculous. The last time they’d been together, he’d been almost too needy, both physically and emotionally. Does he think I can say no to him? Anytime? Ever?
Had a single snap and a zipper ever sounded so loud? One of the questions he’d struggled with over the two years of this…whatever it was… between him and Hugh was whether the longing was emotional or purely physical. He’d never come up with a definitive answer, but at the moment, he’d have to say physical. The sight of Hugh revealing himself, wrapping his long fingers around his cock, took Bobby’s breath away and literally drove him to his knees in front of the chair. Everything he had to talk about vanished from his mind as he reached out like a hungry child, needing to feel the flesh he’d been missing.
A few stray thoughts ran through his mind – On your knees…American bit on the side…If my friends could see me now… – and then all was gone except the heat of Hugh in his hands, then his mouth. He’d been fighting the effects of that teasing kiss in the dressing room all day. Now that he was immersed in the smell of Hugh’s body and the sounds he made -- I’m making him moan like that -- he was incredibly aroused. He let his awareness of his own erection dance around the edges of his consciousness as he took Hugh deeply in his mouth, hollowing his cheeks slightly, lapping at his balls while stroking them with one hand. The other hand kept a firm grip on the base, making sure that Hugh was completely covered and licked and stroked and sucked, growing even bigger and harder in his mouth. This angle gave him all the control and he was willing to use it.
He raised himself up slightly, before pushing his head all the way down, his mouth now in contact with the fingers that were cradling Hugh’s balls. The response was instant and gratifying, an open-mouthed, feral sound, and Hugh’s whole body jerking upwards, telling Bobby yes, this is what I need, this is what you do to me.
Bobby rode out the wave and let Hugh’s body settle back into the chair. The grunts, the rigid heat against his tongue and the tightness under his fingers told the tale. He knew he could finish right there, clamp down with his lips and let Hugh come in his mouth, but he wasn’t sure that was the script for this evening.
Everybody called him that, and yet nobody made it sound the way Hugh did, especially at a time like this. He borrowed back one of his hands to verify just how hard this had made him. Harder than…too damn hard to go on like this much longer.
He let Hugh out of his mouth and looked up, trying to sound conversational. “Yeah?”
“I think you should join me up here.”
“Is there room?”
Hugh’s pants had landed on the floor, along with anything he might have been wearing under them. He unbuttoned the shirt but left it on, as if he knew how sexy it looked that way. He stood to help Bobby off the floor of the trailer. Once they were standing, nearly face to face, Hugh swept him into a tight embrace and a kiss full of need and longing. Bobby found himself gripping Hugh’s arms for support, because that dizzy feeling was hitting again. Hugh felt leaner and more muscular than he remembered. He noticed Hugh’s erection pressing against him through his own slacks and realized he was still dressed.
He struggled to get his t-shirt off, chagrined when it caught on his glasses. OK, you can do this. Shoes before pants, glasses before t-shirt. Very simple. Or it would have been if he was willing to waste a single moment that could have been spent with his hands somewhere on Hugh’s body rather than futzing with his own suddenly uncooperative clothing.
Bobby finally counted coup over his t-shirt and hoped he’d be able to figure out later where the glasses had landed. Finally, chest against chest. The feel of Hugh’s body that he’d missed so much even when he shouldn’t have. He held on as Hugh took his mouth in another kiss, this one hungrier, that would leave his lips swollen and scrapes on his face. They’d always done this when there was time for the marks to fade. Maybe Hugh was saying he didn’t care who knew, even if he didn’t realize he was saying it.
There were hands undoing his Dockers. He guessed they were Hugh’s because his own were on Hugh’s chest, trying to read his future in the pectorals. He ran into the pocket of Hugh’s shirt and found some familiar shapes. He smiled into Hugh’s mouth, embarrassed at his own enthusiasm for what was going to happen.
Once Bobby’s pants had given in to gravity, Hugh sat back down in the chair, taking Bobby with him. There really wasn’t enough room, but that made it even more fun to tangle their bodies together and find different ways to rub against each other. At the touch of a button, the whole thing leaned back, creating more room for arms and legs, and groping and grabbing. Bobby realized that Hugh’s hair was slightly damp. He’d taken a shower and put on just enough clothes for decency and waited. He’d been waiting for Bobby, while Bobby had been standing in the late evening sun, worrying about being seen. Another wave of lust worked its way through his body. Cocks were straining against each other in the confines of the leather. Doesn’t he have a bed in here? Or a cot or something?
Hugh’s hands were working their way into him. He hadn’t been aware of lube being applied, but either it was there or Hugh’s hands were naturally slippery when they made contact with his ass. Bobby’s mind was split between the present and last year, the first time he’d let Hugh… or anybody for that matter… but who knew he’d ever want anyone to do that? Then it had been a battle between fear and desire. Now it was nothing but lust. He wanted Hugh inside him now. Sooner than now. Inside him, deep, and hard and oh my god, it was still just a finger, no it was two fingers. He needed to pay attention or he was going to miss the whole thing and wouldn’t that be a shame?
When he did start paying attention, he realized it was three fingers, there was definitely lube and he was pushing back against those fingers, panting like a dog, sweating against the leather chair, and desperate.
“Oh, god. Please,” he begged, trusting Hugh to interpret the rest of the sentence without making him spell it out. The words didn’t come as easily as the desire. He buried his neediest sounds against Hugh’s shoulder, relishing the trace of soap and the sweat that had broken through since the shower.
“Need a bit of help.”
Bobby quickly realized the dilemma. Hugh had managed to get the condom out of his pocket with only one hand, but the other was still occupied, or at least three fingers were. Their eyes met and smiles were exchanged in the midst of all the sweat and steam. Bobby did not want those fingers moved until there was something to replace them with. He raised his eyebrows and smiled a toothy grin. Hugh brought the wrapper up to his mouth and Bobby bit down hard on one corner. It took a few tugs and another bite, but soon the unholy grail was revealed.
Once that task was accomplished, Hugh performed the next one with practiced ease. Bobby briefly wondered if he’d ever be able to feel Hugh inside him without benefit of latex, but drove that thought away, only to replace it with a more immediate concern. How the hell are we going to do this?
Hugh had already thought that out. With a series of subtly choreographed movements, he eased Bobby onto his lap, facing the television. Hugh’s hands wrapped around his waist. Bobby suddenly felt self-conscious after two months of big breakfasts, afternoon tea, and absolutely no time in a gym. He deflected the embarrassment with a joke. “Could you turn the set off? I don’t think I can do this in front of Anderson Cooper.”
“The remote’s a bit inaccessible right now. Just close your eyes and think of…”
Hugh lowered his voice into a hoarse whisper against Bobby’s ear.
“Think of me. Think of how much I’ve missed you. Think of how long I’ve wanted to do this.”
Bobby felt Hugh’s body tense up as he lifted them both slightly off the surface of the chair, pulled out his fingers and pushed his cock into Bobby. The transition was so seamless that Bobby barely noticed until Hugh was pulling him down, burying himself completely. Bobby opened his mouth to scream and found he had no breath to make a sound.
He closed his eyes, focusing on Hugh’s hands. They held onto his hips, helping him adjust and relax into the fullness. His whole body was trembling from the sensation, which he had to admit was painful, even if it was a pain he relished.
When he found a voice, he managed to rasp, “OK, it’s OK,” reassuring Hugh that he was ready for more. He was actually gratified that Hugh was willing to be rougher than their first time. No more kid gloves.
Hugh’s fingers pressed into the hollows between hip and thigh on either side. Bobby found himself raised and lowered, again and again. Nothing gentle. Nothing tentative. Everything Bobby had wanted. Being taken. Being fucked hard in a leather chair, by this man whose cultured speech was reduced to his name and a few rough obscenities.
One more rise and fall and Hugh held him firmly, almost too tightly in place. “Oh God, Bobby…So hot… Missed you…Now….I….Bobby.” Fingers dug into Bobby’s hips, releasing, then gripping again. Hugh was no longer speaking, because he’d busied his mouth against Bobby’s neck, sucking hard, maybe even unconsciously.
Bobby’s body had broken out in sweat and was finally acknowledging the pleasure of sexual release. He touched his chest and found the sticky evidence. He’d come without realizing it. That’s a new one. I’ll have to tell Hugh about it. If I can ever talk again. Or move.
Neither was imminent so he closed his eyes and leaned back against Hugh’s warm chest. Seconds stretched into minutes before Hugh stirred under him. The ride was over. Time to get off. No, I did that already. He forced his eyes open, which turned out to be a bad idea even without his glasses.
“For god’s sake, Hugh, turn off the set or change the channel. At least Anderson Cooper is good-looking, but Larry King?”
“No ogling pretty newsmen while you’re in my trailer,” Hugh admonished, easing Bobby back onto his own feet to begin the ceremonial “search for the glasses” that always followed these encounters.
“When are you due back in Malibu?” Bobby asked, while bending over to pick up his t-shirt, hoping the glasses would be in close proximity. He meant it as a casual reminder that he knew the score about his role in the scheme of things. “Are you having that house-warming party?” Hugh’s hesitation in answering should have been an immediate clue that something was wrong, but Bobby was too caught up in his own post-coital buzz to notice. “Have the kids come around yet?”
“There is no Malibu.”
“I’ve been there. DNC fundraiser at Martin Sheen’s place.”
“The kids were out here long enough to decide it wouldn’t be so bad to live in LA. We actually ran into Matthew McConaughey, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Lance Armstrong jogging on the beach. I thought Rebecca would faint dead away. Even Bill and Charlie looked impressed. We’d started the piles of paperwork to get them into school here. Then the whole deal fell through.” Hugh’s syllables were getting clipped, the way they did when he was extremely annoyed on the set.
“Financial advisers,” Hugh enunciated as though delivering a curse on all CPAs and their descendants unto the tenth generation.
Bobby meant it – he knew how much Hugh hated being away from his family – but some part of his brain couldn’t help thinking that it would be easier to keep doing this without Jo and the kids living in the same country. Except that it wouldn’t. He had to say this now or he never would. Bobby had planned this speech in his head for weeks. It still sounded lousy, but he couldn’t ask any of the House writers to help with rewrites.
He finished dressing and found Hugh looking at him. The same look that had first made him wonder if the star of the show saw him as something beyond a fellow actor and potential friend. He could barely talk when Hugh did that.
“Do you mind?” Hugh was already opening his cigarette case.
“It’s your trailer.”
Watching Hugh opening the trailer door reminded him how flimsy the structure was. How easy it would be for a passerby to hear or suspect something.
“I’ve got to tell you something.”
“Can I have my fag first?”
“Is that a joke?”
“Just a cigarette. Something about the first puff makes the world better for a second.”
The temperature had cooled since the afternoon, but a trace of humidity clung to the night air. Bobby found himself mesmerized by the sight of Hugh lighting up, taking his beloved first puff and blowing the smoke out in a stream straight upwards. He had to distract himself or he’d get hard all over again just watching Hugh Laurie smoke a cigarette as they walked through the parking lot.
“Maybe we should talk about the script. That way if anyone hears us…”
“The script is brilliant, but you’re going to get hate mail. I’ve seen the next one. It gets worse.”
“You may want to get a bodyguard. Look, I’m sorry I got upset about the Malibu thing.”
“Don’t worry about that. It’s something else. It happened this summer. I don’t even know how to say it.”
“Did Kevin Spacey make a pass at you?”
“What? No.” Bobby couldn’t tell if the hint of jealousy in Hugh’s voice was a joke or not. “I don’t think so. I mean, how long did it take me to figure you that you had designs?
We had two weeks to put the show together and half the time he was on the phone doing press for Superman or schmoozing Old Vic patrons.”
“I read the reviews. The Times was practically ecstatic.”
“The kids from RADA blew me away. Spacey got most of the people from the PBS show and a bunch of guest stars. We had Emma and Kenneth, on different nights, of course. Kenneth was terrified. He didn’t think a non-American could do O’Neill justice, but he was brilliant. We even got Pacino on opening night.”
Bobby took a breath, reliving the opening of every show, Edmund’s monologue about the sea from “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”. He was alone on stage in a single spot, hearing the audience rustle in anticipation, ready to spread the gospel of Eugene O’Neill and wondering if there was some possibility that Hugh might be out there watching.
The aimless wandering among the cars and trailers continued. Bobby didn’t bother mentioning that they were nowhere near his parking space. Hugh was obviously giving him time to get to the point.
“You should have seen the dressing room after the show. I didn’t even know half the people who showed up. I figured anyone with a British accent that I couldn’t remember must be a friend of yours. I owe you hugs and hellos from the entire UK. Madonna showed up twice. She has a British accent now, but I’m not sure she’s a friend of yours.”
Hugh wasn’t as impressed by Madonna has Bobby had been. “How’s Emma?”
“We did a scene from ’Strange Interlude’. She ate me alive.”
“I meant offstage.”
“She was great. All sweet and wonderful and ‘How’s Hugh? Give him my love, won’t you, dear? How dare he leave us for that horrible place?’”
Something was bothering Hugh besides Bobby’s imitation of Emma. Bobby had an idea, but there was no point reassuring him that Emma had no inkling about their relationship. The problem was more serious than that.
“The last show was pure insanity. Kevin said he had a super-special guest for closing night but wouldn’t tell me till the last minute. It was Uma. Uma Thurman and Kevin Spacey doing a scene from ‘The Hairy Ape’. Amazing. Not to mention the party at The Groucho. She refused to believe I didn’t have the new season scripts and she still can’t shut up about that whole ‘House and Wilson are in love’ thing. I think I’m going to change my cell number before the season starts.”
“Can she shut up otherwise?”
“She squeals on me, I squeal on her.”
Hugh had already finished his cigarette and started a second one with a faint air of impatience. It was getting late.
“It’s Gaby,” Bobby finally said. It still sounded lousy. “I think Gaby knows.”
Gaby had gone to every performance, sat through the nightly parade through his dressing room and patiently accompanied him while he played tourist at sites she was more than familiar with.
“I’ve never felt so close to her, but every time I heard your name or saw a picture, I couldn’t stop thinking about you.“
Hugh’s silence was accompanied by a deep dangerous drag on his cigarette.
“She did this series of lectures at the British Museum. ‘Cultural Imperialism: From the Elgin Marbles to the Beatles’. She’s like Madonna to the whole academic gang. One night, we’re at the wine and cheese meet and greet. She works those crowds like a pro. I see Gaby talking to this tall man. Giggling, whispering. I was so busy wondering what was going on that I didn’t even realize who it was for a few minutes, never mind that I spent last year watching everything you’ve ever been in.”
Bobby realized he was starting to sound hysterical. He made an effort to regain control of his voice.
“I still couldn’t believe it was him. There. Talking to my fiancée. I asked one of Gaby’s friends and he was very casual. ’Oh yes. Stephen Fry. You never know where he’ll turn up next.’”
“Did Stephen approach you?”
“No. Just kept talking to Gaby while I stood there staring like an idiot. Then he said something that looked serious. She shook her head and he left.”
“Fuck,” Hugh said, throwing a half-finished cigarette to the ground without stubbing it out. He started striding towards his trailer. Bobby doubled his own pace to keep up.
“All she would tell me is that he loved the lecture and talked to her in Latin. Out of the blue, that night, she asked if there was anything I needed to tell her. The next day she wanted to know if we were ever getting married. I told her I’d marry her any time, anywhere, but she sort of laughed it off, like she’d been joking all along. Please tell me I’m just being paranoid. Would he do that?”
“How do you think the papers got wind of me and Audrey?” Hugh snapped without slowing down the Fox lot death march.
Newsflash: You are now officially in too deep. If Hugh felt himself caught between his American bit on the side and his best friend and lover of long-standing, there was no doubt which way he’d land, especially if said friend was prepared to blow his world apart to maintain the status quo.
“I told you so that if you want to stop things between us…”
“I’ll get this sorted out,” Hugh’s voice had lowered to an angry hiss. “He can’t decide these things. I won’t let him do it again.”
They’d arrived back at the trailer in less than half the time the walk away had taken. Bobby was panting and starting to sweat. Gotta get back to the gym.
Hugh’s cell phone was in the pocket of a jacket, hung over a chair. .
“It must be five in the morning there.”
“Four.” Hugh held the phone to his ear, listening to a recording. “Stephen,” Hugh said warmly. “Something’s arisen here. I think we should have a chat. Ring me back when you get this. Don’t worry about the time.” He closed the phone, not quite returning his attention to Bobby. “He’ll call. He’s probably not asleep. Maybe not even alone.”
Bobby needed to break one of the unspoken rules between them.
“How do you and Jo manage? She knows some things, right?”
Hugh stared at his Motorola, as if willing it to ring and end a painful conversation for him.
“She’s an amazing woman. She married me when any other woman would and should have run miles in the other direction. She knew she was getting a moody bastard with certain habits that she’d have to turn a blind eye to. Anything that came with the original package. The smoking, for instance. But not new ones. If I cross that line, it’s the tears, the screaming and call the solicitor.”
“And Stephen gets to enforce that? Very convenient for him.” Bobby knew he was risking an invitation to the world outside, but suspected he was heading there anyway. He was sick of having to treat Stephen Fry like a god who couldn’t be mentioned or criticized.
“He was right about Audrey. I was completely out of control. If I hadn’t been faced with Jo leaving me and taking the kids, I might have left her. I really would have ruined my life.”
“Do you think he told Gaby?”
“Warning shot across the bow. He thinks it’s for my own good. At least that’s what he’s telling himself.”
Hugh sounded angry and distant.
Nice way to kill a hot night, Mr. Smooth.
“I should get going. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
Further words were lost in the force of Hugh’s mouth swooping down on his, perhaps trying to reassure but stirring up more confusion. What if this was a goodbye kiss? What if this was the last time he’d have Hugh’s hands on the back of his neck, taste the smoky breath that should have bothered him but didn’t, or get the chance to tug on Hugh’s hair pulling his face closer so he could feel the beard scratch his face?
Hugh’s cell phone played “Land of Hope and Glory” and he had to push Bobby away to grab the electronic interloper.
“Yes, Stephen. Glad you rang me back. Are you waking up or just getting in? It’s so hard to keep track of you. Hold on just a minute, will you?” He turned to Bobby with a smile. “I’ll take care of this. See you on the balcony tomorrow.”
Bobby was still tingling from the intensity of the kiss and had no idea how he was going to get to sleep, much less drive home. Hugh continued speaking jovially to Stephen as least until he was out of earshot. It was now completely dark, but he still looked around as he left Hugh’s trailer, wondering if he’d ever get back in.
He managed to drive back to his apartment without incident despite being completely distracted. He tried to imagine what Hugh and Stephen might be saying to each other. In his mind, it sounded like one of their sketches. Maybe those two guys who kept saying “Damn!” as the anger escalated on both sides of the Atlantic. Maybe it was more like Jeeves and Wooster and Stephen was completely in charge, manipulating Hugh for what he thought was Hugh’s own good. He might even have a point. There were Jo and the kids to consider. There was Gaby. Reputations. Careers. All the things that sex and need could override for just so long.
His nighttime rituals left him lying in bed listening to the thump of his own heart. Maybe he could call Ethan and chat for a while. But then he’d be starting with a basic dishonesty. If this went on much longer, he’d have to tell Ethan at least some of it. He wasn’t ready to have that conversation yet, especially if it was about to become unnecessary.
There was always Uma, but he didn’t know where she was right now or what time it might be there. Besides, she’d just ask what was happening with House and Wilson and he have to tell her Wilson was being a shit-heel. Once she stopped squawking about that, he’d be able to tell her about Hugh and Stephen. Yeah, good. I should I call my best friend’s ex-wife to mope about being dumped by a married man.
The next day’s shooting schedule was going to be a brute. He had to get some sleep. When David Sedaris didn’t help distract him, he wound up in the living room taking out his guitar. He hadn’t played in months and he could barely get his Yamaha in tune. In deference to his neighbors he remained unplugged as he played Beatles songs.
Someday when I’m lonely wishing you weren’t so far away, then I will remember things we said today.
He tried not to think about what Hugh might be telling him soon enough. Maybe it was just as well. This roller-coaster ride couldn’t go on. He couldn’t keep feeling a clench in his stomach every time he heard a motorcycle like the one going by his door right now. For all he knew Stephen was doing them all a favor, even if he was a self-centered bastard.
I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah. The girl that’s driving me mad is going away, yeah.
Before he could get to the chorus, there was a banging on the door. Oops. Even without an amp, he was probably playing too loud for families with small children or anybody with functional hearing. Gaby had asked, only half joking, when he was going to grow up and get a real house.
“Sorry,” he called through the door. “I didn’t realize how late it is. I’ll stop playing.”
“Please don’t,” came the familiar voice.
“Hugh? What are you doing here? It’s late.”
“You should let me in. Shouting through doors isn’t particularly discreet.”
Bobby opened the door and suddenly felt extremely aware of being in his t-shirt and boxers while Hugh was fully dressed, wearing his motorcycle jacket and boots.
Once Hugh was safely inside the door, Bobby expected some kind of gesture or embrace. It didn’t come. The longer Hugh went without touching him, the more obvious it was what had happened. It was over. Hugh wouldn’t risk his marriage, reputation, maybe not even Stephen’s friendship and Bobby didn’t want him to. Except if he was going to be completely honest, he did. If he said anything, it would be something like, “It’s over, right?” so instead he picked up his guitar and sat down to play the opening of “Over the Hills and Far Away” making it through two bars before he hit an absolute clunker.
He looked up to find Hugh staring at him in the dark room. The look again. What the hell was going on?
“We talked,” Hugh said calmly, finally joining Bobby on the couch. “Various epithets were flung about. Selfish prick. Spoiled child. I can’t quite remember which one I’m supposed to be. He gave me an ultimatum and I called his bluff. We achieved a stalemate.”
More like a mixed metaphor.
“So, that’s it, right?” Bobby wasn’t sure if he was feeling despair or relief. Then he realized it was anger. “Your friend won’t let go of you, so I have to?”
“Put down the guitar, Bobby.”
He hadn’t realized he was still holding it. “Why?”
“Because I can’t possibly kiss you until you do.”
That was certainly a good reason. He put the guitar down gently.
“I told Stephen that if he does anything to hurt you or your fiancée I shall never forgive him. It’s remarkable how loudly he can pout. On the other hand, if I do something stupid or indiscreet, he will feel perfectly justified in ringing up the Sun, the Mirror, the National Enquirer and Matt Drudge.”
Hugh moved within kissing distance, but did nothing. He just held Bobby’s gaze, making sure he understood the rules and the risks. Bobby’s only answer was to reach up and remove his glasses, giving Hugh complete freedom to reach one hand around the back of his neck and pull him close, letting their lips come together, mouths opening, soothing, but also inflaming. Bobby closed his eyes, feeling his bare arms against the rough leather. His body was gearing up for round two when Hugh pulled back. He tried not to let out an audible grunt of frustration.
“Hugh, that’s not fair.”
“Stubble burn on your face and extra bags under my eyes would both be bad ideas.”
Now you’re worried about my face?
“So why couldn’t you just tell me the good news on the phone instead of coming all the way over here? Is it some kind of test? What do I have to do to prove that I won’t do anything stupid?”
Bobby put his glasses on, bringing the reality – or insanity – of the situation back into focus. “I won’t give any more flip interviews. I’ll stay on the other side of the room during photo shoots. I’ll take your number off my speed dial in case someone gets hold of my phone. What else can I do?”
Hugh’s amused, affectionate smile instantly defused Bobby’s anger. He couldn’t be pissed when Hugh looked at him like that.
“You know, this would be considerably easier if one of us had an actual home to go to.”
“So you’re saying I should get a house to make it easier for us to screw without getting caught?”
“Precisely, although it doesn’t have to be a house. A condominium. Just something with a bit more privacy than this glorified motor lodge. Have you considered West Hollywood?”
Both of them living in West Hollywood? That was Hugh’s idea of being careful? Of doing nothing that would raise suspicions about their relationship? Bobby waited for a “Just kidding” or at least a smirk.. All he got was another heated kiss at the door that left him wondering how he was going to get to sleep and knowing exactly what the answer was.
He listened to the cough, hiccup and purr of the Triumph starting. Hopefully the neighbors thought it was a stray motorcycle hooligan, not the star of a top-rated television series leaving a rendezvous.
He went back to bed, wanting to think of Hugh’s mouth on his and remember what had happened in the trailer, what Hugh had implied could keep on happening as long as they were careful. His body responded, but his mind kept insisting that this wasn’t going to work.
They had to avoid triggering gaydars in a town where “Who’s the homo?” was practically an Olympic sport, because a single rumor in some idiot’s blog could spur Stephen into a destructive fit of pique.
They had to be so careful that no one could suspect anything in spite of the on-screen chemistry and real-life friendship, while Hugh blithely zipped around on his bike making insane suggestions about West Hollywood.
His hand worked quickly, trying to keep the images playing long enough to fend off his fears. This time he saw the scene in the dressing room from an angle where he didn’t notice his own flab. Watching a close-up of his own face as he was bounced up and down in the chair was almost as hot as experiencing it had been. He was able to get off in a rush of warmth that left him relaxed enough to get to sleep.
One last thought caught up with him before he nodded off.
No one can be that careful.
Next installment: Friends & Lovers