Pairing: John Barrowman/Jesse Spencer
Warnings: RPS RPS RPS. Real people. Real significant others. Real co-stars.
Disclaimer: This never happened and I'm not making any money for saying it did.
Notes: I've owed haldane this fic for over a year and I'm happy to offer it to her as a birthday present. Thanks to hllangel for beta and hand-holding, to vanillafluffy for beta and fic-naming, and second_silk for Australian imput.
Summary: Jesse gets a role on Torchwood. Something unexpected happens to him in Cardiff.
It wasn’t like he needed the money as much as he wanted some time out of the country.
Jesse had considered a trip home, but didn’t particularly relish a session with the local press every time he hit the beach or the attention of the fans, for that matter. Just a few weeks somewhere that nobody would be interested in asking what went wrong with him and Jennifer.
Getting a chance to work was a bonus. He’d felt practically unemployed for the past few months of shooting. Even Bobby had been getting more screen time. The paychecks kept coming and his agent insisted that there’d been reassurances that things would improve after the strike.
Meanwhile, Doris had told him in no uncertain terms to line up a gig, if he could, because the writer’s union was prepared to stay out until the Emmys and beyond.
He’d called up Vivian at CAA and asked if there were any offers on the table that came with an international plane ticket.
“Have you ever heard of Torchwood?"
“Should I have?”
“You know about Dr. Who, right?”
“Sure.” Jesse had seen episodes when he was growing up, but never really been a big science-fiction fan. He had vague memories of ridiculous dialogue and cheesy special effects. Then he remembered something he’d heard Kal talk about. “They’re doing a new version, right?”
“That’s right. And it’s being done by Russell T. Davies. It’s been such a hit that they did a spin-off show called Torchwood. They’ve got a guest spot coming up. It’s not a big part, but it’s got impact.”
“Would I be playing gay?” There was a pause. "I don’t mind, I mean if it’s Russell Davies and all.”
Vivian seemed reluctant to answer the question.
“Honestly, hon, it’s hard to say. Let me send you the script. You can decide for yourself.”
Jesse had already decided he’d take the job.
“So, am I going to London?”
Three weeks later, he was in a trench, dying in his lover’s arms during the Battle of the Somme.
Or rather, he was on a soundstage in Cardiff, emoting in front of a green screen, trying to imagine the sounds of battle that he was told would be filled in later, along with explosions and gunfire.
As far as the “lover” was concerned, his agent’s confusion was understandable. There was nothing in the script itself to indicate anything besides esprit de corps, but it was impossible to say lines like, “What will the world think about us? Will they understand what happened here?” and not imagine something, especially while looking into the eyes of John Barrowman.
Maybe it was looking at Barrowman, period.
He’d been standing outside the studio on his first day, still trying to figure out what “Torchwood” was actually about, and what his World War One story had to do with fighting aliens, when he first saw John; specifically John’s backside. The combination of the tailored pants and suspenders along with what nature had given made a breathtaking combination.
Before he could ask himself when he'd started looking at men’s arses that way, John had come over to introduce himself, with a firm handshake and broad smile. He’d seen the pictures, so he knew this was the series lead, and John seemed to know who he was too.
“My partner, Scott, might just find an excuse to drop by. He loves House. He says it’s the gayest show on American television.”
“Great,” Jesse replied, passing by the idea of House as a “gay” show, to being slightly taken aback by a leading man, casually referring to “my partner, Scott.” Even in Hollywood, you just didn’t hear that. Directors, producers, writers, and supporting actors, were able to be open depending on their personal comfort levels, but Jesse knew plenty of A-listers living in the closet.
“Of course, you’ll never be gayer than Torchwood, John announced, happily.
“Now, now, Torchwood isn’t gay, we’re just festive.”
That was Julie Gardner, coming to the rescue, assuming he wanted to be rescued.
“We’re not gay, we’re omni-sexual,” John retorted. “And loving it. “
They certainly had fun doing whatever it was they did. It only took Jesse one day on the set to figure out that much.
There was a certain resemblance between the House set and Torchwood. They were both tightly knit ensemble casts centred around a charismatic male lead. On the other hand, while there was a certain amount of humor during the shooting day, it was hard to imagine Hugh Laurie indulging in the very sophomoric level of humor that was a staple of the day in Cardiff, much less exposing his genitals, for the amusement of the gathered cast and crew.
For all the jokes about Cuddy’s breasts in the scripts, Lisa’s blouse always remained firmly in place. Unlike Eve Myles, who seemed happy to flash her “girls” nearly as often as John’s “boys” were on display, which was as much as Burn could be found making fart jokes and Gareth gyrating in his Elvis imitation.
Sheer madness seemed to hold sway until the director called “Action” and then the naughty bits were hidden and the cast was nothing but professional, managing to deliver dialogue that Jesse had to admit verged on the ludicrous. He’d often prided himself on managing to rattle off the medical lingo during the differential scenes, but you could hardly compare vasculitus, amyloidosis, or that old stand by lupus to trying to discuss an alien pregnancy or even a space whale.
The hardest part was standing around in his uniform, looking ghostly, except when he got to exchange looks with John.
Jesse had only been scheduled for a week of work. His role was to die in a flashback that Captain Jack was having in the course of an episode. No sooner had he effectively expired than Russell Davies himself had called to say that he’d seen the footage and it looked marvelous. Furthermore, would he mind staying around for a couple of weeks? Russell and Julie had been talking and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jack were continually haunted by the ghost of Corporal Westmark throughout the series, a noncorporeal corporal, as it were?
The strike wasn’t ending anytime soon, and even though Cardiff in November was bone-chillingly cold on the rare occasions he was out of doors, the idea of spending more time in the warmth of the Torchwood set, was irresistible, and a little more money wouldn’t hurt either. Mostly it was the chance to look at John and try to figure out exactly why he wanted to.
After the third week, he admitted to himself what he’d actually been feeling since the first day.
Jesse knew there had rumors about his sexuality as long as he’d been in the public eye, before he’d had sex with anyone. Back in the Neighbours days, he’d heard them all. Usually some combination of the casting couch and the “too pretty to be straight” line that had even made its way into a House script.
The fact was, he’d always and only been attracted to women, leading him to disappoint more than one fan, especially after Swimming Upstream was released. If he were interested in being “adventurous”, there were plenty of opportunities. He wasn’t. Not in the slightest. Until he saw John Barrowman from the rear..
Most especially, until he had to stand on the set in his uniform the day of the great kissing prank. Naoko had already clued him in as to what would happen. Ianto was crying and Jack would be attempting to console him with a kiss, which was presumably his modus operandi. Only the director wouldn’t be yelling cut. The kissing would go on until the two actors realised what was going on. Jesse had to be there because he and Jack were supposed to have one of those looks immediately after the kiss broke.
The kiss was never going to break, but Jesse had to stand there as though it was, in order for the gag to be successful, and practical jokes were an elevated art form on the Torchwood set.
So he stood and watched as John and Gareth kissed, and kissed and kept on kissing, making it look so real that Jesse had to wonder if Gareth was actually straight or just a really good actor. Either way, he was the luckiest man in all of Cardiff, Jesse thought, keeping his ghost face in place while his insides churned and his cock took way too much interest in the situation.
“You bastards!” John exclaimed, finally catching on, and breaking out in his distinctive, high-pitched giggle. “Motherfuckers. I can’t believe you did that,” he gasped, so taken aback, he reverted to the Scottish accent that Jesse had only heard once or twice around the set. He’d heard from John himself that it only came out when his family was around or during some moments of extreme stress.
“You sons of bitches,” Gareth agreed wholeheartedly, before collapsing in laughter, as well.
It took nearly 20 minutes for the hysteria to die down. By the time they actually shot the scene, with a two second kiss and a look between Jack and Westmark over Ianto’s head, Jesse had made his decision.
On his last day of shooting, he waited until his last scene was over and he’d said his goodbyes, promising to keep in touch and have them all out to his house in Beverly Hills, etc, etc. His tickets were booked and he was leaving, the wind and the sleet and going home, or at least back to Hollywood. If he was going to say something to John, now was the time.
Jesse knocked on John’s trailer door, feeling somewhat ridiculous, and not even sure what he was going to say. I’ve never been with a man in my life, but I can’t stop looking at your arse. Wanna fuck? Maybe not.
The first thing he noticed was that John looked tired. He had his glasses on, instead of the contacts that gave Captain Jack blue eyes to rival Hugh’s. His hair looked a bit rumpled, and the hooded sweatshirt and faded jeans were less impressive than Jack’s military look.
It didn’t matter.
“Hey, Jesse. What’s up?”
“I’m going home tomorrow.”
“I know. It’s been awesome having you here.”
“I need to tell you something.”
There was a momentary dark look on John’s face. Maybe he knew. He probably got this all the time. Just like Jesse trying to fend off the boys who’d gotten the wrong idea, except maybe it had been the right idea all along.
“Come on in. The dogs aren’t here today.”
Just as well, Jesse thought. Wouldn’t want the babies here while I’m propositioning daddy.
John sat down on his couch. There was a small table with a stack of glossies that John had obviously been signing. Jesse suddenly had second thoughts. John had so much going on….he was going to do Christmas Panto in Birmingham, there was an album coming out, he appeared on some kind of talent show, plus doing more publicity in a week than most of the House cast did in a month, or in some cases, even a year. Hard to believe that John was an established star with fans who practically stalked him, rather than some newcomer still trying to build a following. Did he really have the right to drop his sexual identity crisis in John’s lap?
The word “lap” sounded far too dirty in his mind and he found himself staring in that general direction.
When he realised it was unseemly to keep staring at John’s crotch, he looked up and found John focused rather intently at his chest. The half-smile on John’s face made him wonder if John had similar thoughts.
"Where did you get that shirt? I’d love to get one for David.”
Jesse was so nonplussed that for a second he had no idea what he was wearing and actually had to look down. It was his brown “Trust me, I’m a Doctor” t-shirt. Of course. David. David Tennant. The Doctor Who team was working just down the hall and both David and Catherine were frequent contributors to the general chaos of a day on Torchwood.
“There’s a store in Santa Monica. I’ll get you the address.”
“But that’s not why you’re here.”
He tried to think of a way to say it without playing the fool or the blushing virgin because he was neither. Except in this case, he was sort of both.
Deep breath. He could do this.
“I was engaged and she broke up with me.”
He hadn’t meant to start there at all, but it was as good a place as any. With Jennifer and how painful the breakup had been, especially when he had to see her on the set everyday and play the “still good friends” game that they’d both agreed on, to keep the others from feeling uncomfortable around them. That led into the strike and his concerns about the transitions in the show itself and somehow the fact that the sight of John’s arse had turned his world upside-down and in the end, in not so many words, "Wanna fuck?”
John listened, nodding now and again, letting Jesse get things off his chest that he’d been holding in for over six months, as well as the things that had only been brewing since that first day outside the studio. He didn’t seem shocked or upset or even surprised.
Jesse finished with another deep breath. Waiting. He didn’t know what John was going to say, but he suspected it would be something along the lines of “thanks, but no thanks”.
For the time being, John wasn’t saying anything, just looking into his eyes, making his chest feel tight. The silence was getting painful.
Then he moved forward and stroked the side of Jesse’s face. The touch nearly made Jesse gasp. His eyes closed as he felt a gentle kiss on the top of his head.
Rejection. The sweetest one possible, but still rejection. Fair enough. John was a “married” man. He had Scott had had him over to dinner several times and Scott was one of the nicest men he’d had ever met. He had no right to try and interfere, just because the sight of John’s arse had caused him to lose all reason.
“Jesse, I am so flattered, mostly that you came to me. And if things were different….I mean, I don’t have to tell you how hot you are, right? But Scott and I have rules and I just can’t do that.”
Well, that was awkward, but oddly cathartic.
“I understand, and I appreciate it.” Time for an attempt at humour. “I think I’ll just head back to the hotel for dinner and a quick wank.”
John was smirking the way he did when the boys were about to make an appearance, and his eyes were looking at him in a not-just-friendly way. “You could do that here.”
Jesse waited to see if John’s grin was about to change to the “gotcha” one. It didn’t.
“I take it you don’t mean dinner.”
“If you just want to jerk off while you’re looking at me. That would meet the ‘look–but-don’t-touch’ rule.”
From anybody else, it would be the most egotistical thing Jesse had ever heard in his life. From John, it made perfect sense. It was as close as he wasn’t going to get, so why the hell not? He could still see John and Gareth kissing and imagine what kissing John that way would feel like, even if he never got to do it.
He nodded and started undoing his jeans. Now it was John’s turn to stare, so Jesse slowed things down just enough to give John something to stare at
“Nice,” John said, in what appeared to be sincere admiration and Jesse accepted the compliment.
John kept looking as Jesse made a few preliminary tugs.
“Do you have any….”
Not only did John have lube, he had more than one kind. He must spend a lot of time alone in the trailer.
The idea of John, masturbating on this very couch was almost as arousing as the sight of John himself, seemingly transfixed by what Jesse was doing.
“Would you mind turning around?”
“Now you’re shy?”
“No. I just want to see your best side.”
“Now I’m insulted.”
“No, you’re not.”
This was how he was with women. Fun and flirty and not afraid to tease. Now that he knew where this was going, he could be that person with John. It felt good.
He knew what he wanted to do. There was a reason that John’s arse had this affect on him. Even though he hadn’t asked John to take his jeans off, he could imagine pulling them down to get to the flesh underneath.
Getting hard now, stroking. Breathing getting louder and heavier. John was giving him a little wiggle, reminding him exactly how great it would feel to get his cock up against those beautiful buttocks.
He didn’t know if he should talk or if sharing his fantasy would violate some part of John’s rules with Scott, so he kept it to himself, fueled by the nearness of John and the thought of touching him, believing that his hands could be the tightness of pulling John around his cock.
“You know, Scott thinks you are seriously gorgeous.” John ‘s voice was slightly muted. “He said it to me after you left last week.”
Jesse wasn’t quite sure how he felt about hearing Scott’s name in this situation, but his cock didn’t seem to have a problem with it.
“If he were here, the three of us could have a lot of fun together. Would you like that?”
Again, a quick check proved that Jesse’s libido wasn’t objecting to the words. Scott was nearly as good-looking as John and so what if he’d never had any kind of sex with even one man. Why not jump into a full-blown threesome fantasy?
He made the appropriate sounds to let John know he was on board and John went full steam ahead with it, the movement of his hands giving Jesse the idea that John had unbuttoned his jeans.
“I’d love to see him sucking your cock.”
“Then I could see the look on your face while he was getting you all wet for me.”
“Oh my god!”
“I’d be lying in the bed next to you, seeing you get so close, watching him almost make you come, but then I’d stop him because that part is for me.”
John’s breath was getting quick and he seemed to have a fast hand motion as well.
Jesse didn’t know how much more he could take or what he’d be given.
“Turn around,” he gasped.
John turned to face him, cock in hand, and that was some bloody cock. Seeing it hanging out casually on the set was one thing. This was a full erection, long and hard and John was wielding it like some kind of dangerous weapon.
Their eyes locked, paces matched. John kept talking.
“That’s it, Jesse. Think of Scott sucking you off. He’s on his knees between your legs and we’re looking at each other, just like this. Because I know that cock is going to be up my arse soon. You’re going to fuck me, Jesse, aren’t you?”
His “yes” was a whisper and his balls were tightening. He didn’t need John’s words or the sight of him anymore. Eyes closed tightly and the vision of John’s naked arse, spread wide for him and his cock entering, slowly, until he could feel the heat around him. This was what he’d been wanting since that first day and John was letting it happen.
His hand went into overdrive, the short hard pulls right at the top and John urging him on.
“Come on, Jesse, fuck me. Give it to me. Come on. Right now.”
Jesse felt the stickiness on his fingers as his body curled over into its own comfortable, relaxed warmth.
He forced his eyes open, not wanting to miss John’s climax, and was gifted with the sight of John’s face letting out a silent scream follow by the sound of a long whine and a few Scottish-inflected obscenities.
“OH! Fucking bloody hell.”
Jesse wasn’t sure there was much to add to that even if he could talk, so he let John continue his exclamations, and tried to keep his post-climax flush going as long as possible. He heard running water and shortly thereafter came the soothing feel of a warm, wet towel cleaning him off.
“Thank you,” he murmured. “for everything.”
“Hey, only the best for my personal ghost.”
“So, you think Jack and Corporal Westmark….?”
John had his pants up and his most self-confident smile back in place.
“No one can resist the Captain.”
Wasn’t that the truth? It was a good thing he was going home.
Amber was dying.
Bobby and Anne were acting their hearts out. Watching Bobby work on any given day was like an acting seminar, even when the scenes were trivial, and this was a master class. They were on the fourth take and each was more heart-rending then the last.
Jesse was watching, hoping to learn something, because he had nothing else to do. The strike had ended, but his personal drought of decent material hadn’t.
He felt his cell phone starting to vibrate and went into a hallway to take the call. International number. Something in the UK. Cardiff. John. No, it wouldn’t be John. They hadn’t talked since that afternoon in the trailer, and Jesse hadn’t taken any further steps in that direction. California seemed to have brought him back to his senses, making him one of the few people who could ever say that.
“Hello, Jesse. How are you?”
Julie. Excellent. Maybe she had some idea of when the shows were going to air and if they’d be asking him to go back to the UK for some publicity. He’d even sign glossies, if the BBC wanted him to, just for a chance to see John. Say hello. See Scott and pretend nothing had happened. Because it hadn’t, really.
“Jesse, I’m afraid I have some bad news. I was going to be a coward and tell Vivian, but I decided to do it myself. I hate to sound like the Doctor, but I am so, so sorry.”
“Julie? What on earth are you talking about? Is everyone all right? You sound like someone’s died.”
“What? I know. I was there on the soundstage.”
“No. It’s all gone. They’ve decided there isn’t time for it. They want to focus on other things in the episode and they feel that they’ve shown enough of Jack’s past relationships.”
“And the ghost stuff?”
“I’m sorry. It’s not you, Jesse. The work was brilliant. John is absolutely gutted.”
That was something, if it was true. He’d been in show business too long to believe most of what he heard.
“Julie, I don’t know what to say.”
“Well that’s the thing. We need you to say as little as possible.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Look, some our fans are completely mad. If they get wind of a whole part, a character from Jack’s life that got cut out, it’ll get on the internet and they’ll write stories and decide it should be part of the time-line. Or they’ll demand that the footage be shown. Westmark’s not just dead. He never existed. We’re going to get rid of anything. And we’d really appreciate it if you don’t tell anyone.”
“That’s very disappointing.”
“I know. I’m terribly sorry. You were a star and it’s complete rubbish that this is happening. I told Russell but he wants…well, never mind that. Sorry.”
That was a lot of “sorry” for one phone call.
Jesse tried to process a mix of emotions that included anger and disappointment, but finally settled on an odd sense of relief.
It would be like it never happened at all.