Title: Wrap Party
Fandom: House MD RPS
Pairing: Hugh Laurie/Robert Sean Leonard
Wordcount: 6713 (approx. )
Notes: Apologies to Jesse Spencer for maligned his singing.
Warnings: This is RPS, includes references to significant others and co-stars. None of this ever happened and I'm not making any money from saying it did. Thanks so much to beta_goddess for holding my hand through the series and beyond.
Summary: The first installment in my Hugh & Bobby series. This is how it all started.
Part 1 - My Dinner with Ethan
You know you’ve been in Los Angeles too long when you start to believe that the smog makes the sunsets prettier.
Mother Nature and the fossil fuel industry had outdone themselves on this particular June night, Robert thought. The yellow and purple striations swirled over Venice Beach, reminding him that Hollywood had more to offer than down payment on an actor’s soul. Either that or Ethan’s vegan cook was slipping hashish into the stir-fry.
Ethan came back onto the deck with two more beers. He gave Robert a friendly pat on the shoulder to shake him out of his sunset-induced reverie.
The past several months had found them trading places in their whirlwind schedules. Ethan had been in New York doing “Hurly-burly” on Broadway, while Robert found himself firmly ensconced in the land of the palm trees because a pilot he’d done on a whim (and a word from Ethan that Bryan Singer was a genius) had turned into a bona fide hit.
After sunset, they went into the house and Ethan brought out a pair of guitars. They sat on the floor of the living room strumming and singing the same songs they’d been playing together for fifteen years, since they first became friends while filming “Dead Poet’s Society”. Beatles songs, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course, their special double guitar arrangement of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. Robert played Ethan part of a ballad he was working on. Then they sat down to some serious shit-shooting. Ethan’s travels, new projects, kids. The painful demise of Robert’s theater company, negotiations for a much hoped for summer project, and finally the question Robert had been anticipating and dreading at the same time.
“What’s it like working with him?”
Robert started with the usual. “It’s amazing. He’s a total professional and just the nicest guy ever.”
“Dude, you’re talking to me, not Entertainment Tonight.”
“OK, OK. Well, he is all that stuff. And he’s so good, it’s scary. You can barely believe it’s the same guy from those TV shows we used to watch on channel 13. He’s doing the accent, which has to be a bitch, and he’s doing the limp. He’s got to rattle off pages of that medical bullshit and he makes it look so damn easy. There was this one scene…did you see the episode where he’s detoxing from the Vicodin?”
“The scene where he has to smash this pestle thing into his hand? It’s totally intense. He was on the phone with somebody about ten minutes before they shot it. He talked to the director, they blocked it out, rehearsed it once. First take, perfect. Angle change. Second take, perfect. Fucking amazing. The crew was applauding. I thought Jen was going to cry. And then he breaks character, does a little “tada” and a dance step. Everyone cracks up. If that were me, I’d be Monroe on the set of “The Misfits.” I’d want my acting coach and a closed set.”
“Not everyone’s a method prima donna.”
“But check this out. A week later, he’s going on Leno and he gets really nervous. He already knew he was going to talk about his motorcycle and about drivers in LA and how bad they are because they don’t look through the windows. He tried the bit out on everybody. Me, Jesse, Omar, and every extra in a pair of scrubs. I heard at least 10 different inflections of the “Wow.” Like he can’t do that take in his sleep?”
“What do they say? Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”
Robert agreed. Comedy had never been his forte. He was actually surprised at how funny some of his scenes with Hugh turned out. He took a swig of Sierra Nevada.
“You know what’s really hard? Feeling like I’m wasting my time out here.”
“Don’t knock it. You’re in a hit.”
“You don’t care about that shit. I’m not supposed to either. Mr. Young Serious Actor,” he said, mocking the pretensions of his youth. “I get the scripts and half the time I have less dialogue than anyone but Lisa and a couple of extras. The patients get more dialogue than I do.”
“No small parts, Bobby. Only small actors.”
“I keep telling myself the “Streetcar” story.”
“Brando boxing between scenes to keep his energy up?”
“The guy who played the doctor at the end of the play. Before opening night someone asked him what the play was about. He said it was about a doctor who comes to take a crazy lady to a mental hospital.”
“So the Tony-winning actor has a serious ego problem?”
“Yeah. Exactly. And the guy who should definitely win an Emmy seems to have no ego whatsoever. You want to hear something really weird?”
“I don’t want to see this on E-online tomorrow.”
“Very funny.” E-online had been a particular nemesis during the Ethan/Uma breakup.
“OK, I may be crazy, but I could swear he’s flirting with me.”
“Flirting? Like wink, wink, nudge, nudge, let’s do the horizontal mambo in my trailer?”
“More like a wink and a nod and here’s my trailer with pictures of my wife and kids everywhere, but I’m still giving you those looks that go on too long and if you catch me I make one of those self-deprecating comments about being surrounded by the most attractive cast on television except for Desperate Housewives.”
“Maybe he’s just being British?”
“British doesn’t mean gay. Just ask Jude Law.”
“Maybe he’s method acting?”
“Well, you know. Some people think those two characters are a little too friendly.”
“Who thinks that?”
“Well, Uma for one.”
“Uma watches the show?”
“Uma loves the show. She came to New York so we could all be together with the kids for a few months.”
“You guys are OK together?”
“As long as we don’t talk too much. Anyway, she’s nuts about the show. She really likes the Aussie kid. And she thinks you two guys are…you know.”
“And you know Bryan…”
“Bryan hasn’t said anything to me, except that Wilson is supposed to be House’s conscience. We did one scene where I’m feeling hurt and betrayed and I was having a really hard time finding it. The director, Bill Johnson, came over and just whispered in my ear “lover’s quarrel”, and I caught Hugh giving me one of those looks.”
“Did you find it?”
“Yeah. Next take.”
“If it’s working, just lie back and enjoy it. Take the money and run.”
“Remind me to come over more often for your fortune cookie wisdom.”
“You gonna be around next week for Roan’s birthday?”
“If the Joe Papp thing goes through, I’ll be in New York.”
“I hope it works out.”
“Me too. I need to get home. I need to get back onstage.”
“Hey, you want to get high? I’ve got some killer stuff.”
“How come you get to act like you’re still 25 and I’m turning into a grown-up?”
“You should get high more.”
“Gotta pass. Early call.”
“Your loss. I got this stuff from Keanu’s guy and he really knows some people.”
“Tell ya what. Give me some for the road. We’re finishing up the season tomorrow and we’re supposed to have a wrap party afterwards. Maybe I can tempt Mr. Laurie with some of your primo weed. Get him fucked up and find out what’s really going on.”
“Cool. Let me know what happens.”
Part 2 - I’ve Been to a Marvelous Party
It had been a long day. Or a bloody long day, as Hugh had allowed as shooting crawled on. The last scene involved all major cast members along with Sela Ward and Currie Graham. Currie had the easy part, being unconscious. Hugh and Sela were front and center. Robert was on the sidelines trying to decide why he didn’t like Sela. Either it was because she had incredible chemistry with Hugh or because she had none whatsoever. By the eighth, ninth and tenth takes, he had decided it was because she couldn’t remember her damn lines and was making everybody work late.
Finally came the blessed words, “That’s a wrap. We’re done, people,” followed by applause, cheers and mass hugging. Season one of House MD was over. They’d been picked up for another season. It was time to party.
The dancing was on sound stage 2, the food and booze were set up in the House office set and the cool kids were hanging out in the kitchen. In this case, the “kitchen” meant the House apartment set and the “cool kids” were Lisa Edelstein, Gerrit Van de Meer and David Shore, who were all huddled together on the couch laughing at something on David’s laptop. The coolest kid of all, Hugh Laurie, was playing piano, seemingly lost to the world, but he managed to acknowledge Robert’s entrance with one of those “us against the world” glances. The glances had become so familiar that Robert could no longer tell if they belonged to the characters or the actors.
“Parisian Pierrot, Society’s hero, The lord of the day, The Rue de la Paix is under your sway.”Robert was bursting to tell Hugh and the others his good news, but he held back. He didn’t want Hugh to stop singing. Besides, the Noel Coward songs usually meant that Mr. Laurie was in one of his darker moods. Robert empathized with any actor’s demons of self-doubt and insecurity. In Hugh’s case, add the dislocation and loneliness of being away from home and family for months at a time. It was amazing he didn’t get gloomy more often.
“Do sit down, dear boy,” Hugh said in his arch imitation of Noel Coward and patted the piano bench. He stopped playing and moved his hands up the keyboard to a new position.
“I’ve been to a marvelous party. I must say the fun was intense. We all had to do what the people we knew might be doing a hundred years hence.“Tell me, dear boy, do you think this outrageous shindig will land us all in the jailhouse or on front pages by morning?”
“Only if they get pictures of Jennifer trying to dance. It was like Elaine on Seinfeld. Jesse looked horrified. If anything breaks them up, that’ll be it. He managed to stop her just before Bryan showed up with Hugh Jackman.”
“One Hugh too many.”
“I think they’re still doing the Electric Slide.”
“We shall stay here then. They’ll never find us.” He segued into Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
Robert wished he didn’t have those weird thoughts running around in his head so he could just enjoy the moment.
“Do you want him to be flirting with you?” Ethan had asked, handing him three joints in a baggie. “I don’t know,” he’d said truthfully.
He looked over his shoulder at the couch. Lisa had left. Gerrit and David were deep in conversation. Maybe they were planning a plotline for next season that would deal with whatever it was that Uma thought she saw between House and Wilson.
“There are bad times just around the corner, there are dark clouds hurtling through the sky. And it’s no good whining about a silver lining for we know from experience that they won’t pass by.”“Are you OK?” Robert said, and immediately felt like a jerk. “Hollywood friendship” bore the same relationship to a real human connection as Asian/Latin/Fusion bore to anything edible. Hugh could pick up a phone and call his friend Stephen or his pal Emma or his wife Jo. Robert pressed on.“I’ve noticed that Mr. Coward only makes an appearance when something’s bothering you. If you want to talk about it…”
Hugh was now looking at him with all the intensity those gray-blue eyes were capable of. Robert suddenly wished he’d never been born, or at least never learned how to talk.
“Very perceptive. And nice of you. I’m sorry, Bobby. I do get into my moods, don’t I?”
“We all do.”
“This one is pretty petty.”
“Season 1 post-partum depression?”
“You’re flying home tomorrow?”
“Indeed. Ten hours with my lovely friends at BA. I do miss the Concorde. Not so comfortable, but it was fast.”
“Are Jo and the kids going to meet you at the airport?”
Hugh sighed deeply and ran a hand over his face, which was still covered with House’s trademark stubble. Robert had heard Hugh mention that the growth was uncomfortable.
“When are you going to come out…” Hugh raised his eyebrows, “from behind the mask?”
“Ah, yes.” He ran his hand over it again, a gesture Robert had seen on several of Hugh’s talk show appearances. He used it to buy a few seconds of sanity before actually dealing with the witlessness of Jay Leno or (shudder) Regis and Kelly.
“My lovely Jo prefers me smooth. I’ll just wait till I get to Heathrow and have a shower and shave in the arrivals lounge. Then I greet wife and children in barefaced glory.”
“Rebecca must be ecstatic that her dad’s coming home.”
“Actually she’s a bit ecstatic about something else. And that,” he said, deliberately hitting an ugly chord,” is why I find myself down in the proverbial dumps.”
“Your daughter has a boyfriend?”
“Not precisely. My daughter is mad for a singer named Robbie Williams. You’ve heard of him?”
Robert shook his head.
“Thus far, America remains uninfected, but he’s insanely popular in Europe for reasons that elude me. It turns out that young Robbie is giving a concert at Wembly this very Wednesday night. Rebecca went to Jo, who got my so-called best friend involved. Stephen managed to get VIP tickets including back-stage passes for the whole lot of us.”
“So now you have to go?”
“Or come up with a plausible excuse, but that’s not the point. I’m here doing this while my family is getting on quite well without me. If someone was going to make this dream come true, it should have been me, her father. Plus I would have hoped that I’d exposed her to enough good music that she’d have better taste than that. The boys have their band and they play loud, noisy, angry rock, exactly as it should be, but this is just tripe.”
“She’s a teenager. It’s her job to piss you off, especially if she can do it with her taste in music.”
“I suppose it’s what I get for giving the kids a fairy godfather. Frankly I think Stephen fancies the lad himself and he’s just encouraging my daughter so he has an excuse to get backstage himself.”
“I think he’s rubbish as a singer and just a lout as a human being, but he is a strapping fellow with a vast array of tattoos. He used to be in a truly loathsome boy band and he’s the only one to come out with any kind of career.”
“Like Justin Timberlake?”
Hugh looked puzzled. Robert was embarrassed for knowing who Justin Timberlake was, but not having heard of Robbie Williams. Meanwhile another authority on pop music chimed in with an Australian accent.
“Robbie’s the bomb. Take That was the best make-out music ever.”
Jesse Spencer felt obliged to follow too much information with too much singing. Actually, any singing would have been too much. “I just want you back for good, want you back, want you back, I want you back for goooood.”
The performance sent Gerrit and David running, presumably for the bar. The couch was now occupied by the kids who thought they were cool just because they were popular. Jennifer somehow managed to convince Jesse to stop singing. Omar just rolled his eyes over how goofy white people could be when they were tipsy.
“So,” said Robert, trying not to feel like the chaperone at a middle school mixer, “what’s everybody doing with our two months of freedom?”
Jen was doing a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. She’s not getting enough abuse on our show?
Jesse was going to Melbourne to see his family and take in some cricket games. And be chased by screaming teenage girls.
Omar was heading home to New York, followed by some time chillin’ in the Islands. I have nothing snippy to think about that.
Hugh shook his head. “Once this shindig ends I shall be incommunicado until I reappear in two months.” Unless I track you down at a Robbie Williams concert.
“Well then,” Robert said coyly. “At the risk of sounding horribly smug...”
“Spit it out already,” said Omar.
“I’m doing Henry IV parts one and two in repertory for Shakespeare in the Park.”
“Whoo-hoo. That is some cool shit.” He’d managed to impress Omar.
“And check this out. Falstaff? It’s going to be—you’ll like this, Hugh—Robbie Coltrane.”
That even got Jennifer and Jesse’s attention. What could be cooler than doing Shakespeare with Hagrid from the Harry Potter movies?
Robert waited for hearty congratulations from Hugh. Maybe a suggestion to say “hi” to the big fellow or some vulgar joke going back to their Alfresco days.
“Are you mad?”
No “dear boy”, no camp, not the hint of a joke.
“Bobby, I respect you immensely as a person, as an actor, but you are in no way ready to go against Big Robbie in Shakespeare. The night before your first rehearsal he will take you out for a friendly drink. The next day you will not remember your name, much less your lines. He’ll eat you alive.”
He looked at Jen, Jesse and Omar to make sure he wasn’t losing his mind. They appeared to be as stunned as he felt. If Hugh was joking, nobody else was in on it. None of them had ever seen Hugh Laurie act this way. Moody, sure, but out and out rude? Never.
Robert had heard enough. This party sucks, he thought, getting up. He found he could actually walk despite feeling like he’d been pole-axed. The party at the end of shooting “Swing Kids” had been amazing. Over two hundred cast and crewmembers on one of England’s biggest soundstages and a full big band. They had literally danced all night. He had been in great shape then. Now it was all he could do to hit Crunch a few times a week.
Working on autopilot, he threw out random “good nights”, “goodbyes”, and “good lucks” to anybody who might interfere with his leaving. He made his way out of the Fox studios and into the parking lot, which was illuminated by the surrounding lights of Century City. All he wanted to do was find his car and drive home so he could pack. He’d be flying out on a redeye the next night.
Alone in the parking lot, he realized that he hadn’t driven to work. Fox had sent over a car service. He’d been planning to grab a ride with Jen and Jesse. That would require going back inside and facing everybody. Shit, shit, shit.
He had his cell phone. He could call a cab. “Hi, can you pick me up in the middle of the Fox Studios parking lot?” Where the hell am I, anyway?
Next to a trailer. Hugh Laurie’s trailer. With Hugh’s motorcycle parked next to it. And guess who was coming after him in the darkness?
“Bobby…Bobby…I want to talk to you.”
Shit, shit, shit.
He turned around to see Hugh striding toward him, quickly covering the distance with those long legs.
“Bobby. Please. Let me explain myself.”
“I got it the first time. Maybe you don’t know that I played Romeo when I was 16. Maybe you didn’t see me do “Much Ado” with your buddies Ken and Emma. You don’t think I’m up to Shakespeare and you don’t think I can hold my own with a guy who’s making the big bucks playing a giant in the Harry Potter movies. If you think that, fine! I just can’t believe you’d say it in front of the others.” I thought we were closer than that.
He’d felt that the ten years in age that separated Hugh from him were less important than the 20 years or so separating Hugh from the rest of the cast. He’d believed that their roles on the show made them natural allies. Furthermore, if that flirting thing wasn’t just his imagination, then Hugh’s behavior was even more unfathomable.
“I’m sorry. I was just taking the piss. I didn’t mean a word of it.”
Robert shook his head. If his understanding of “taking the piss” was accurate, this wasn’t anything close. He was tempted to just drop the subject and pretend it didn’t matter. That would allow him to save enough face to go back inside and bum a lift back to his apartment.
“Are Jesse and Jennifer still in there?”
“I assume so. For one of those rough and tumble Aussies, Mr. Spencer can’t hold his liquor very well. I think he might be trying to start a brawl with Mr. Jackman and that can only end in tears.”
“Maybe Jen can give me a lift.”
“I’d say she has enough to deal with. I’ve got the bike here.”
“Don’t you want to go back to the party?”
“You call that a party?”
“No. Not really. “
“Then let me take you for a ride.”
“Another one,” said Robert pointedly.
Part 3 - Hollywood Nights
“I’ll be just a minute,” said Hugh, using an electronic key card to get into his trailer. There was just enough spillover light to see the Triumph Bonneville in all its bad-ass black glory. The powers that be at Fox were known to disapprove, simply because they didn’t want their star to get hurt and hold up production.
Hugh came out of the trailer wearing a bomber-style leather jacket and riding gloves. He carried two helmets and handed one to Robert.
“I thought the producers weren’t crazy about you riding.”
“To which I say, with full respect for their authority, that’s tough. I can’t imagine why they’d be the least concerned with my face. Yours, on the other hand, would be a loss. Don’t worry. I shall get you home safely. You’ll have to hold on tightly. No sissy bar. You’re all right with that, aren’t you?”
“Sure,” said Robert, nonchalantly, taking off his glasses to put on the helmet.
Great. Now I’m putting my life in his hands.
He’d ridden “bitch” on Ethan’s Harley plenty of times. That bike had a raised seat, making it simple to be a passenger without actually touching the driver. The Triumph put Robert in much closer proximity, upper and lower body. The whole arrangement felt incredibly intimate.
As the bike purred out on to the road, it occurred to him that the guy he had his arms around hadn’t asked where “home” was. He’d gotten an apartment in Woodland Hills, but there was no particular reason for Hugh to know that. Robert’s night vision was poor and he hadn’t put his glasses back on so the world went by in a blur. There was nothing to do but close his eyes and try not to be too aware of being so close.
He lost track of time and direction. At that hour, it was possible to cover miles quickly, unimpeded by the famous Los Angeles traffic.
Robert didn’t feel angry anymore. Maybe a little disappointed. Plus the temperature had dropped. They must be heading north. Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights” started running though his head. In those big city nights. In those high rolling hills. Above all the lights. With a passion that kills. Or something like that.
Hugh clearly knew his way around the cul de sacs and hairpin turns of Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon. He eventually parked on a shoulder. They got off the bike and took off the helmets. Robert inhaled the quintessential LA aroma of smog and gingko trees. The lights of the Valley spread out in a vast shimmering blur.
“Sometimes I actually like this town,” he admitted to himself and the only other person who might be listening, not bothering to mention that this was supposed to be a ride home and that he did not live in Beverly Hills.
“That’s the beginning of the slippery slope,” said Hugh, reaching into his jacket for cigarettes and lighter.
Robert put up a hand to stop him.
“Oh come on, Bobby,” Hugh said in exasperation. “You’re going to give me the smoking lecture? Out here?”
“No,” Robert replied, reaching into the pocket of his windbreaker for the baggie he’d gotten from Ethan. “I was just going to suggest a different smoke.”
Hugh looked surprised, then amused, then pleased.
“All right,” he said, accepting a joint.
Robert suddenly had qualms. “This may be pretty strong stuff. I don’t know what you’re used to, if anything.”
“I think I’ll be able to handle it,” Hugh said, putting the marijuana cigarette to his lips and lighting it. He took a deep drag and held it with practiced authority before letting it go. He handed the joint back to Robert with aplomb.
Robert blinked. “Do you do this a lot?”
Hugh shook his head. “I’m a father. I’m supposed to tell my kids not to…Wow! That is quite a bit…hmmmm.” Hugh’s eyes went wide followed by a smile that was equal parts toothy and goofy.
Robert took his first hit, somewhat gratified to see Hugh Laurie knocked for a momentary loop.
Farther off the road was a low stone wall. Hugh ambled towards it with Robert following. Hugh took back the joint for another deep drag.
“Shall I tell you,” he gasped after releasing the lungful and handing the joint back, “why I behaved in such a beastly fashion?”
Robert could feel himself starting to get giggly, but tried to keep a serious demeanor.
“Yeah. Actually. Please do. I can’t believe you really don’t think I can do it.”
“Of course you can do it. It’s just…Robbie.”
“I’m sure I’ve worked with bigger egos.”
“Yes, of course. With Ken twice even. But Robbie is…damn it. Did you ever see “Cracker”?
“The band? No wait, you mean the TV show? I don’t think so. Maybe once. On PBS? Oh, with Robbie. He was like a shrink, right?”
Robert offered Hugh the joint back. Hugh shook his head. Robert took a last puff and ground the roach out in the dirt.
“Forensic psychiatrist. He was bloody brilliant. You can watch any episode and you’re just blown away.”
“OK. He’s a good actor and I need to take him seriously. Got it.”
“It’s not just that. Think about it. Actor known for fluff and comedy takes on serious character. Fitz is addicted to cigarettes and gambling. He’s rude, he’s damaged, he brutally analyzes people and he always solves the mystery in the end. Sound familiar?”
“Slightly, but so what? You didn’t steal anything from him. David and Paul and everybody came up with this totally original idea.”
“I saw Robbie at the last Harry Potter opening. He sidled up to me and said, Welcome to the brilliant, cranky bastard club.” Hugh imitated Coltrane's broad Scottish accent. “But just remember, boyo, I was a bigger bastard and I was there first.”
“And that’s what this is about? A slight similarity in characters? That’s ridiculous.” Robert was struggling to stay serious, but the ganja giggles were starting to well up. “Just silly.”
“I overreacted. I could just see him treating you to a Cracker highlight reel of his biting wit and addictive behavior and maybe you wouldn’t have as much respect for what I’m doing.”
Hugh leaned back again the wall.
“You care what I think that much.”
Hugh dug his hands deep in the jacket pockets.
“I guess so.”
“Are you even the least bit high?” said Robert still trying to stifle laughter and suppress the unbidden thought that Hugh looked absolutely adorable with his slightly rueful smile.
“Oh, yes. This is your costar on drugs. Em would always beg people at parties not to get me high. I’d turn introspective and then start telling people the truth whether they wanted to hear it or not. You should have heard me at Ken and Em’s engagement party.”
“Have you been flirting with me?”
“All season. Since the first read-through. Every time we have a scene together. All those looks and innuendos. Is it all my imagination? Tell me, Hugh. While I’m fucked up and you’re telling the truth. What the hell is going on?”
Robert realized he was getting loud. He also remembered why he had more or less stopped using weed. After the giggles and before the munchies came the sexual aggression. The monster-from-the-id Robert who lived behind Bobby’s nerdy glasses and soft-spoken demeanor. He’d been seriously high the first time he had the nerve to put moves on the seemingly unapproachable Gwyneth. He was starting to feel it now, with no willowy blondes in sight.
Hugh looked at him with a mocking, almost wolfish grin, which combined with the stubble to make Robert worry about the full moon. “I was starting to think you hadn’t noticed.”
“Does it bother you?”
“I don’t know. I’m flattered, I guess. Why me?”
“I like you, Bobby. You’re smart, funny, and a damn good actor. I’m sure you know that you’re attractive.”
Not really, he wanted to say, but stopped himself.
“I’m not a pedophile.”
“Jen’s a woman.”
“And I’m a married man,” Hugh said, feigning moral outrage.
“So it’s safer to flirt with guys? And not to be pushy or anything, but is it just flirting? Is it a game? Do you want something to happen?” Down, boy, he told the monster who was starting to make his presence a physical reality.
“You know what’s great about everyone thinking you’re a big poofy Englishman? You can get away with just about anything.”
“What’s my excuse? I’m not English. I’ve always liked girls. I’m nearly forty and until you started looking at me with those eyes of yours, nothing else ever occurred to me.”
“Never?” Hugh looked mildly surprised.
“Casting couch? Avid fans?”
“I’ve had offers. After “Dead Poet’s Society” I got more fan mail and naked pictures from boys than you can imagine. You don’t even want to know what I got after “Swing Kids.” I just haven’t been interested.”
“Now I think I’m interested.”
“Then I should be flattered.”
“Good for you and your ego. What the hell am I going to do?” he asked somewhat desperately. He felt overwhelmed by sensations. The night air, the lights of Hollywood, his pounding heart, his dry mouth, and most of all incredible arousal. He couldn’t deny it. He was hot for a man, this man. Normally, he would have spent time analyzing the fact and wondering why it didn’t bother him beyond the frustration of the moment, but that frustration was becoming all-encompassing. Analysis would have to wait.
“You’d better do something,” Hugh said, still leaning against the wall.
“Because if I don’t, you won’t, right?”
Hugh’s only answer was another attempt to take out his cigarette case. Robert couldn’t hold back any longer. He reached out with a swift motion, grabbing the back of Hugh’s neck and pulling the taller man to him. He spread his fingers to cover as much of Hugh’s head as possible to prevent any escape. None was attempted. From the minute their lips met, there was no hesitation. Teeth nibbled, tongues explored. Hugh tasted like the tang of a gin and tonic with the slight aftertaste of smoke. Robert, the vehement nonsmoker, couldn’t get enough.
He was completely enveloped in heat and moisture and suction and the danger of being caught. He used his other arm to pull Hugh even closer. He barely felt the whiskers scratching his face, except as another sensation among so many, including the fleeting realization that even though he’d made the move, it was the man in his arms who had control of the situation. Their tongues and lips stayed locked in combat until Robert felt dizzy.
At that moment Hugh pulled his head away slightly, sucking hard on Robert’s lower lip before breaking contact so they could both take an oxygen break.
Robert didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to babble like some teenage girl and blurt out “Oh my god, that was fantastic,” even though it was exactly what he was feeling. Instead he heard himself say something equally ridiculous.
“You’ve done this before.”
“Yes. Sad to say, I’ve been kissing for years. It’s a filthy habit. I should get help.”
As far as Robert was concerned, Hugh needed no help at all. Either through luck or intuition, he had now found the single most sensitive spot on Robert’s neck and was launching a sustained attack. At the same time, he’d stealthily moved his hands downward and around the back of his co-star’s slacks. There was no way for Robert to pretend this wasn’t happening. He could hear himself moaning as the neck nibbling continued.
He knew he was hard and could feel equal pressure through Hugh’s jeans. This was real. This could go beyond flirting. Something could happen. Tonight. Robert wasn’t doing a great job of forming coherent thoughts, much less verbalizing them, but he had to get the words out at the risk of being a buzz killer.
“What about your wife?”
Hugh stopped driving Robert crazy by kissing his neck and started driving him crazy by fixing him with the hottest, sexiest, you-know-you-want-me-so-bad-you-can-tast
“It’s like those adverts I see all the time. What happens in Hollywood stays in Hollywood.”
“No. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens in Hollywood ends up in the National Enquirer. TV docs busted in drug-crazed tryst.”
“Then we should go to Las Vegas immediately.”
Hugh removed his hands from Robert’s ass and headed back to the bike leaving his friend confused and very frustrated.
“Are you OK to drive yet?”
“Hell no. I’m still stoned, I can’t see very well in the dark, and if you don’t mind my saying, I’m not even sure I can walk right now. Oh, and I don’t know how to drive a motorcycle.”
“Then I guess I’ll have to do it. Now which way is that airport?”
Part 4 - The Morning After
Robert woke up to the smell of coffee, followed by the voice of Hugh Laurie imitating a Brooklyn bartender. “Closing time, gents. I don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here.” Then a bit of Abfab: “Rise and shine, sweetie darling. Coffee and your glasses on the night table.”
The coffee tasted as good as it smelled. His glasses made him face reality. He was naked except for his socks. He spotted different articles of his clothing in and around the bed. Sunlight streamed in through a window but it didn’t appear to be the desert sun of Las Vegas, nor did the room look like a hotel.
“We didn’t make it to Vegas.”
“Nope. I didn’t have my passport. Couldn’t get out of town.”
They were clearly in Hugh’s West Hollywood apartment. He was packing two large trunks. Noel Coward sang plaintively from the CD player. “I’ll see you again, whenever spring breaks through again. Time may lie heavy between, but what has been is past forgetting.”
“What happens in West Hollywood ends up in The Advocate,” he said, trying not to sound worried.
“Feel free to claim a blackout.”
“No. I remember everything,” he said firmly and set about retrieving his clothing. “Everything” had meant hands. Hugh’s hands pulling his clothing off. Hugh’s long, deft, knowledgeable fingers. Hugh’s mouth finding every vulnerable spot. Robert remembered thinking he should have taken up some of those previous offers, then doubting they could have been this good. Some experience might have made him feel less awkward, though. Having a dick doesn’t necessarily mean you know what to do with someone else’s. Hugh had known exactly what to do and had done it expertly with his hands and mouth.
Luckily, he wouldn’t be seeing Hugh for a while. Watching him methodically folding sweaters was bad enough. If he had to go to the set and do one of those scenes that made Uma think House and Wilson were kind of gay, he’d be in trouble.
Give me Robbie Coltrane with Shakespeare on his side. That I can handle.
He found his slacks and boxers under the bed and went looking for the shirt. It had ended up under a pillow. Then he remembered what “everything” had not included.
Hugh was still focused on packing. Maybe a little too focused.
“Last night…uh…how come…this is…why didn’t we…?”
“I’m not a total cad. No shagging on the first date.”
“We’ve been dating for nine months.”
“No. That was flirting, and you made me do all the heavy lifting while you were being obtuse.”
“Excuse me for not guessing that my married male co-star wanted to hit on me.”
“You’re excused, but you’ll need to re-button that shirt.”
“Damn. Will there be a second date?”
“I should think so.”
“Should we talk about this?”
“More than you’re already talking? Not right now. I have a plane to catch. You have a redeye tonight?”
“Jetblue out of Long Beach. Can’t beat it. Five hours to brush up my Shakespeare.”
“Give Robbie my regards. But do watch out. If he can’t mess with your head by getting you falling down drunk, he just might try to fuck you up the arse.”
“On the first date?”
“On the first rehearsal. You’ll be staggering instead of swaggering. One way or another, he will try and screw you. He’s a lovely man but an absolutely ruthless actor. The other shoe is near the door.”
“Next time do manage to take your socks off. “
Robert found himself grinning.
“Because only sluts have sex with their socks on. Ethan used to say that about some of his groupies.”
“Funny. I got it from Stephen.”
Robert finished tying his shoes.
Stephen Fry, he thought. Hugh’s best friend, long-time writing partner, costar, fairy godfather to the kids.
He couldn’t ask. It was none of his business. He was dying to know.
Hugh slammed down the lid on the first trunk and gave him a knowing look. “Tell you what, Bobby. Let’s save the lists for another time. I’d hate for you to be disillusioned.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
“Do you want to call a cab?”
“I can get one outside.”
“The Advocate may be lurking by the door.”
“I never get recognized,” said Robert, zipping up his windbreaker.
They said good-bye with a hug, which became a kiss. The kiss was warm and sweet and sad. Hugh was wearing a bespoke suit. He was getting ready to fly home on British Airways, have a shave at Heathrow and be Jo’s husband and the kids’ dad and Stephen’s friend. In the meantime, Robert had Shakespeare and a brawny Scotsman to deal with. This time he noticed a sting from the stubble.
“Get me Robbie Williams’s autograph, OK?”
“Righto”, he replied with a headshake, clearly resigned to the ordeal. Robert was expecting a sarcastic comment, but Hugh seemed subdued, probably part of the transition. “Wait a minute. Let me give you something.” He went to the CD player and ejected the disc. He put it into a jewel box and gave it to Robert. “Wouldn’t want you to forget me while you’re wowing Central Park.”
Robert was touched. Clearly this had all meant something, although finding out exactly what would have to wait.
He walked out of the condominium building on Sweetzer and made a right onto Santa Monica. As expected, he found a taxi easily and gave the driver his address in Woodland Hills. The driver was a younger man, probably an aspiring actor who chose not to go the waiter route.
“You’re on that show, right? In the hospital.”
“Yeah. That’s me,” said Robert casually, but inwardly pleased.
“Grey’s Anatomy, right? That show rocks.”
Robert closed his eyes, then opened them quickly, remembering that he owed a friend a report.
What the hell am I going to tell Ethan?
Edited to add LJ cut and pimpage to the sequel:
If you liked this and you want it longer, hotter, smuttier and more angsty (with more Hugh/Stephen)
go immediately to :
Like A Hurricane