Pairing: John Barrowman/David Tennant
Notes: Written for The Merry Month of Masturbation, Day 25. Takes place during John's panto run in Birmingham. Welcome back the fabulous beta_goddess, with the whips and stilletos to get this one into shape.
All my previous John/David fics can be found HERE
Warnings: RPS!RPS!RPS! Real people, signficant others, pets, managers, co-stars etc.
Disclaimer: None of this ever happened and I'm not making any money for saying it did.
Summary: David comes to Birmingham looking for closure. John ends up with something unexpected. (Special guest appearance by Captain Jack.)
“I honestly never thought I’d ever say this, but you look like shite.”
Of course, John Barrowman looking like death warmed over was still hotter than pretty much anyone else on the planet. Lucky bastard.
“I feel worse than that,” John replied softly, hardly his usual effusive self. They were alone in John’s dressing room at the Hippodrome, and David could tell just how exhausted and drained John was after the night’s performance. He’d been able to see John sweating under the stage-lights, even while he was ice-skating.
The poor guy was giving his all twice a day when what he clearly needed was a week in bed, preferably someplace a damn sight warmer than Birmingham in January.
“You should take a night off, “ David suggested, knowing exactly what the answer would be.
John was putting a leather jacket over his sweatshirt, and a scarf around his neck in preparation for leaving the theatre.
“I know,” he said softly.
“It’s my show. They’re here to see me, not the puppet. I’m gonna let someone else stand there and do TARDIS jokes? I don’t think so. I mean anyone can play Hamlet.”
David tried not to look too taken aback at that assertion, but something must have shown on his face.
“Oh god! Did I even say that? I’m so sorry. “
And with that John came towards him for a hug, although not a kiss, as David couldn’t help noticing. It could be explained by John trying to protect David from his throat infection and the cold that he couldn’t shake, or perhaps it was something else, like just not wanting to kiss David any more.
Either one was fine; he just needed to know which one. That was why he’d driven up from London.
He waited as John called the security guard posted at the driveway, making sure the coast was clear and any potential autograph seekers had been diverted to the stage door, even though John wouldn’t be making an appearance there.
“You really are sick, aren’t you?”
John gave a slightly forlorn nod.
Nobody gave more time to his fans than John did, sometimes at the cost of schedules, his manager’s sanity and his own health. David knew that John wanted to be out there right now, signing autographs, giving hugs, posing for pictures and generally immersing himself in the greatest love affair between a performer and his followers that David had ever seen.
They left the dressing room at a brisk pace, with John receiving and throwing back, “Great shows” and “See you tomorrows,” but not stopping to actually talk to anyone. Completely out of character for John.
Perhaps this hadn’t been the best time for David to make the trip up to Brum. Certainly not a good time to have anything resembling a serious conversation about a relationship that wasn’t supposed to be serious and probably never should have happened at all, for so many reasons, beginning and ending with Scott. But it had, including a truly unforgettable opening night at Stratford, and David was willing to risk the weather and John’s germs to find out where he stood.
There hadn’t been any communication since late summer, not even a saucy text message. Maybe that was the message and he was just being thick about not getting it.
They got in the back seat of the Lincoln Towncar that the Hippodrome had provided for John’s use during the run of the show. One of the many perks they’d bestowed upon the man who was producing record-breaking profits for them.
“We’re on the way. See you soon. Love you, babe.” John was obviously talking to Scott. It was such a weird thing sometimes. The four of them being friends of a show-biz sort, if nothing else, and yet he and John had done things together that were clearly betrayals of their partners. It was one thing for David, because he’d never professed to be a master of monogamy, but something quite different for John, and David had to admit that was part of the thrill as well.
“He’s calling in my order to Minzu right now. He’ll have the hot and sour soup by the time I get there.” John was whispering now, clearly trying to preserve what was left of his voice. The best thing would be to stop talking altogether, but this was John and that was impossible.
“Scott’s been taking such good care of me. This thing has been kicking my arse. I couldn’t even sing at Andrew’s birthday celebration. It started just after that stupid radio thing…” John trailed off, shaking his head. “I thought Gavin was going to kill me. He said the Beeb was this close to canceling the variety show because I didn’t portray the right image.”
“What a load of rubbish! Who’d they think they were booking, Sir Cliff? It would have been more of a shocker if you didn’t air things out a little.”
“Not after they practically dared me to do it.”
David remembered hearing about the brou-ha-ha from Georgia. She’d had the same reaction as pretty much any sane person: an amused chuckle, and “Oh there goes John showing his bits again.”
Make that any sane person who hadn’t shared a few illicit moments with John and would very much prefer that no one else ever find out about them. For David, the reaction had been a tinge of fear. John was a funny, sexy, nearly irresistible guy who was capable of saying or doing anything, and might not be able to resist cracking a joke about how Captain Jack really was screwing the Doctor. Sure, everyone would laugh…maybe.
Either way, it felt like a wake-up call; a cease-and-desist order that he was happy enough to follow. Until he realised that John seemed to have reached the same conclusion.
So here he was watching Barrowman sweat in the backseat of a Lincoln, not sure if he felt like more of a prick or a twat for coming to Birmingham under false pretenses. Panto had never really been his thing.
“I meant to call. Lend some support.”
John appeared to be extremely interested in the same cup of tea he’d been sipping when David first showed up at the dressing room door. The chance of there being anything left in it was unlikely, but it gave John a prop, and an excuse to look at something besides David.
“It’s all right, boyo,” John said, emphasizing his natural accent. “I haven’t been calling either, have I?”
“So I noticed.”
John looked down and let out a sigh. It was pretty much all David needed to hear. Just as well, really. Loose cannon and all that. Now they could go back to being the friends they’d been before John kissed him one day in a hotel room.
“Jack told me things were getting out of hand.”
He gave John a look to make sure he’d understood right. That John was taking advice from his own fictional character. All actors have to be a bit schizophrenic -- David himself had been having conversations with Richard Burton right up until opening night -- but for Jack Harkness of all imaginary people to tell John that things were out of hand, that took a lot of brass.
“Jack” had to be a metaphor, a way for John’s conscience to tell him what he needed to do. John, although a flirt, was inherently monogamous, far more so than David, if he were being honest. Cheating on Scott must have been hard for John, whereas for David, it was mostly the whole “sex with a man” thing that had given him pause, however briefly.
“He just wants me out of the way so he can have a clear shot at that new young fellow.”
“Jack’s omnisexual, he’s not a paedophile. That kid looks like he’s what, fifteen?”
That was more like it. Share a laugh over Matt Smith’s insanely youthful looks and be on his way. He meant to, honestly. Except the limo made a sharp turn that left John and David touching at the leg, and John’s fever must have been contagious, because suddenly the enclosed back seat was far too warm, their faces much too close and David’s hand had landed on top of John’s thigh, close to the skin exposed by the ripped fabric at the knee.
Their eyes met, John’s beautifully grey behind his glasses. David knew he should move his hand, immediately, which he did, slowly and deliberately along the top of John’s leg, without breaking eye contact. He could see a smile breaking out, even though John was shaking his head.
“This isn’t the way to end something,” John said, the slightest quaver audible in his hoarse whisper.
“It’s how we started,” he replied, lowering his voice to match John’s. It had actually started with the first look at the first read-through, but the first time John had put a hand on his leg and touched him like this was the real catalyst for everything that had followed.
“We really shouldn’t.”
So said the man who’d fucked David in a dressing room with a horde of opening night well-wishers waiting just outside the door.
David nodded, waiting for John to give him an emphatic no, or for the smile to transition into a frown of disapproval. Instead he caught a glimpse of the naughty boy that John truly was, one whose brogue was growing thicker by the minute.
“We’re gonna be there in less than five minutes, the driver might notice something, and I’m so sick I haven’t been able to raise a stiffie in weeks.”
David leaned in closer so he could whisper in John’s ear.
That’s sounds like a challenge to me, laddie.”
John let himself into the suite at the Copthorne, feeling somewhat dazed. He was surprised by what David had done, but it was David and it was also goodbye, at least as far as that sort of thing was concerned. He tried to wipe off any hint of a guilty expression along with the sweat he could still feel on his upper lip.
The dogs ran up to greet him, CJ seeming to be in an especially frisky mood. He crouched down to say hi to the babies, briefly immersing himself in the attention, petting their soft coats and feeling the cold noses against his skin.
“Soup’s on,” said Scott, interrupting the love-fest of the dogs. John stood up to claim a hug and kiss. He was so tired, and it was good to be in their temporary home, together with the whole family.
“You’re burning up,” Scott noted, and John couldn’t help wondering if that was the infection or what happened in the car. “You really need to take a night off.”
John was getting really sick of hearing that, and didn’t bother answering. They’d been over it enough times for Scott to know how futile the conversation was.
“I promise. The minute the run is over, we’ll go lie on a beach for a month. Anywhere you want. Turks and Caicos, Necker Island, Fiji. Just point at a map and grab the Coppertone.”
Given his schedule, a week would be more like it. If they were lucky.
“Shhhhhhh. You need to rest your voice.”
“I know, but…”
“We’ll talk about it later. Eat your soup and take your antibiotics. I’ll take these boys out for a walk.”
John felt as guilty for not doing his fair share of the walkies as he did for what had happened with David, but he couldn’t go back out in the rain any more than he could stand outside in the cold at the stage door. Not until he felt healthier. Otherwise he really wouldn’t get through the run, and he couldn’t let that many people down.
Meanwhile, Scott appeared to have got awfully fond of his nightly chats with a group of local girls who’d taken to standing outside the hotel, hoping for a glimpse of John. Like the ones who were probably still waiting for him at the stage door, while he was up here, putting on a pair of ratty sweats and sipping hot and sour soup.
He closed his eyes inhaling the scent of the broth. Minzu wasn’t stingy with their ginger, which was why John liked theirs the best.
When he opened his eyes, he spotted Jack making himself comfortable on the couch. Somehow, John wasn’t surprised to see him there. Presumably he was lucky that the Captain hadn’t made an appearance while David was jerking him off in the back seat, re-enacting that first afternoon.
“You were doing fine without me.”
At least he wouldn’t have to strain his vocal chords.
Jack generally showed up to goad John into something he didn’t want to do. Like pursuing David and then ending things. So Jack should be happy. John had managed to break up with David and still gotten a hand-job out of it.
Very Jack-esque now that he thought about it, which he kind of wished he hadn’t. He didn’t want to be like that. It hadn’t been fair to Scott or Georgia, whether they knew about it or not. He’d never do anything like that again, he thought, looking at the couch to make sure Jack was getting the message, only Jack wasn’t there.
All John wanted to do was finish his soup and get into bed. Scott would be back soon and they’d watch some telly until he fell asleep. He knew he’d been pretty much no fun lately, and he really would find a way of making it up to Scott. Lots of ways, now that he knew the libido wasn’t totally decimated by this stupid infection, even if he was too beat to do much of anything else about it for the night.
He decided on a hot bath as well. Playing Robin Hood was exhausting. He had charley horses from the skating, sore muscles from the swordplay, and his knees were not thrilled at all with some of the dance routines. Time for a nice long soak, complete with Epsom salts, that would take some of the pain away as well as anything else incriminating.
Jack was waiting for him in the bathroom.
“What do you want?” he asked, with as much of a croak as he could muster.
John saw Jack’s “Hollywood” smile, the one he had created, being flashed at him in all its insolent glory.
You know, he said without speaking, and suddenly, horribly, John did.
If he had a voice, he would have yelled, but as it was all he could do was say it mentally, the way he would to one of the dogs if they made a mess on the carpet.
No. No. No.
“Keep telling yourself that. See ya round.”
John turned the water on until it ran hot enough to make steam, and hopefully scald that particular suggestion out of his consciousness. Cheating with David had been bad enough, but at least that was with a man. He’d had a crush and he acted on it. Stupid, but understandable.
But now Jack had unleashed something that was completely wrong, and unthinkable, and couldn’t be washed away.
He wanted Eve.