If you were clamouring for a sequel to "Wrap Party" and "Like A Hurricane", clamour no more. (The neighbors are complaining.)
Rating: Adult, but only for language
Notes: Inspired by House MD over the past two weeks and Robert Sean Leonard's appearance in The American Experience: Eugene O'Neill on PBS. A gift of love to Beta Goddess Carol who even did quick Beta on this without my asking her to.
Summary: HL watches television. RSL gets a phone call.
Comments: Please please please.
MONDAY, MARCH 27
Hugh hadn’t planned to watch. He knew it was on, of course. Bobby had mentioned being interviewed by Ric Burns’s crew during the run of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” back in 2003, before House MD was even a gleam in David Shore’s eye. Lisa had asked most of the cast over to watch.
“You need to get out more,” she said sounding too Cuddy-like for her own good.
“No!” he started loudly. Lisa started smiling and Hugh adjusted from House back to his own accent. “No. I need to get a good night’s sleep. Have you seen tomorrow’s shooting schedule? This man is a bloody slave driver.”
“Oh come on. You’ll be home before midnight. You won’t turn into a pumpkin, I promise.” Hugh was still trying to be polite when Lisa continued, “Bobby’s gonna be there,” as if that were the biggest temptation she could offer. Hugh didn’t like that tone one bit. If anybody on the set had an inkling that anything had ever happened, it would certainly be Lisa.
He was saved by the Aussie as Jesse showed up to confirm that he and Jen were going. Hugh slipped away and Lisa had enough sense not to bring it up again.
When he got back to his apartment and checked his email, there was a message from Stephen: “Memo to Messrs. Shore and Singer. Put up or shut up.” Stephen must have gotten his download of the previous week’s episode. Hugh could only imagine the reaction to what was coming up next, including what he suspected was a lengthy close-up after House deleted the voicemail. He hadn’t really talked to Bobby about the text, sub- or otherwise, of what was going on with the characters, but he’d noticed his co-star rolling his eyes a few times when they shot the scenes where they fought over food.
“This’ll do wonders for my butch image,” Bobby had remarked.
Hugh smiled, happy that Bobby felt comfortable enough to say that around him. Things had been as painful as expected, and then just tense, and finally almost normal. He remembered shooting the MRI scene and how he’d cracked up as Bobby did adlibs as “the voice of God” and somehow things seemed to be all right between them again.
Honestly, he hadn’t meant to watch it. He’d planned to have TiVo record it and then take a look over the weekend. He didn’t know very much about Eugene O’Neill. The theater arts department at Cambridge had given considerably short shrift to American playwrights back in his day, and probably still did.
He’d developed what he considered a particularly American bad habit of falling asleep with the television on. He knew it was an American habit because he thought of it as television rather than telly. Nothing seemed suitably soporific until he caught the opening music of something on Channel 58 and heard “Tonight on the American Experience…” followed by some quotes. Al Pacino looking rumpled. Liam Neeson looking intense. Then—a shot of adrenaline through his whole body—Bobby, in a white shirt, looking (he tried to shake the thought out of his head before it formed) absolutely gorgeous.
Damn. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t think that way any more. House had been renewed for a third season. Real estate agents were on the prowl finding a place for his family. There was absolutely no way he was going to get caught up in this again.
But Eugene O’Neill suddenly seemed the most fascinating subject imaginable. The show was actually quite informative, but never so much as when Bobby was on the screen either reciting dialogue or talking about “Long Day’s Journey” and O’Neill himself. Something about Bobby’s voice when he had dialogue deeper than what passed for great wit on American television started breaking through months of hard-won detachment. Toward the end there was a poetic speech about the sea that had Hugh barely breathing till it was done.
It was just as well he hadn’t made this a social occasion, especially if Bobby had actually shown up. As it was, Hugh wasn’t getting to sleep any time soon. He got up and looked in the bottom drawer where he’d conveniently lost some DVDs and just happened to remember where they were. He decided on “Tape”, with the sound off. He told himself that just looking, and possibly some touching, wouldn’t be breaking his promises to anybody.
TUESDAY, MARCH 28
He knew when she was going to call, practically to the minute. The show ended at 9:58 Pacific Standard Time. Three more minutes for commercials and previews. Go and check on the kids and do whatever else she had to do and then grab the phone. 10:15 PM and his cell phone started playing “Hard Day’s Night”. He flipped it open, Star Trek style, but made sure he held it away from his ear.
“Oh my god! That was awesome. I can’t believe he deleted the message. I mean I knew he’d do it, but I can’t believe it.”
Robert momentarily wondered how much one of the tabloids would pay for information that a thirty-six-year-old red-carpet goddess, Oscar-nominated actress and mother of two, could squeal like a fifteen-year-old when it came to the goings on of two characters on her favorite TV show.
“They are so going to do it. Tell me it’s gonna happen.”
“Uma. Calm down. I’m glad you like it, but they’re just friends. Really.”
“Oh yeah. You were nearly crying when he said he was throwing you out.”
“Come on, Bobby. No one does the almost crying voice like you.”
“Gee, thanks. Did you see the PBS thing?”
“Some of it. You looked good. Come on, please tell me they’re gonna do it.”
“Not in any of the scripts I’ve seen. Because they’re just friends.”
“Well, if you don’t want people to think you’re gay, you should stop doing that hands on the hips thing.”
“You know. That’s like the gayest thing ever.”
“It’s a gesture of defiance. I came up with it for when Wilson is standing up to House.”
“And it looks totally gay.”
“Fine. Why don’t you have Quentin put me in one of his movies so I can do something tough?”
“It’s hard to curse that much. You think you’re up to it?”
Robert was starting to remember why he’d always been leery of Ms. Thurman when Ethan and Uma were at their happiest. She was batshit crazy. He couldn’t wait for Ethan to get back into town so that he had the kids and it was Uma’s turn to jet off around the world someplace where she couldn’t bother him.
“Fuck you, motherfucker,” he tried half-heartedly. “Couldn’t I just kill a bunch of people?”
“I’ll see what I can do. So how’s it going with him?”
“I’m not playing Abbott and Costello games and I’m not talking about this. I told you because I needed to tell someone and now there’s nothing else to tell. It happened and it’s over. Hugh and I are friends. House and Wilson are friends and no, I’m not telling you what happens next week.”
“Oh, all right. Let’s see. Someone gets sick and they’re going to die if House can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. The first three things they try turn out to be wrong and then House figures it out because of some offhand remark that somebody makes. Oh yeah, he insults a lot of people.”
“You’re no fun.”
“Then why do you call me after every show?”
“Because I love the show and all my friends think I’m crazy.”
“Has it ever occurred to you they may have a point?”
“Fine. I’ll talk to ya next week.”
Robert closed his phone, shaking his head. Crazy woman, he thought to himself.
Most of his acting friends had called about the O’Neill thing to remind him that he was wasting his talent doing television. Nobody actually mentioned James Tyrone’s monologue about squandering his talent for money, but the parallel was there to be made if anybody wanted to.
Wait till Uma saw what was coming up next week. Her head would probably explode.
He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and noticed his full length mirror. He did the hands on hips gesture even though he was only wearing a tee shirt and Jockey shorts. It did NOT look gay, he told himself.
Just friends, he reminded himself one more time. Just friends.
Here's the next chapter if you're interested