Well, the inevitable has happened, and the Pythagoras!whumping has really got going in earnest now *rubs hands gleefully*. I even have a shiny new icon for the occasion! Poor Pythagoras, this is price you pay for being one of my favourites, and at the point when I have a hurt/comfort bingo card, no less... *evil grin*
Pairing/characters: Pythagoras, Jason (Pythagoras/OMC)
Warnings: Dub-con, violence.
Spoilers: Vague for 1.8 The Furies and 1.11 Hunger Pangs
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 2271
Summary: The wall is rough against his face, and he tries not to think about what is happening. What is being done to him.
AN: Fills the hc_bingo ‘Prostitution’ square on my hurt/comfort bingo card.
AN2: Thanks to clea2011 for second opinions.
Cross posted to AO3
The wall is rough against his face, and he tries not to think about what is happening. What is being done to him.
Instead, he thinks about home. He thinks about a store cupboard stocked with food, and good meals, and full bellies.
He tells himself this is necessary, reminds himself of all the reasons why his friends cannot do this, why it has to be him.
The stranger grunts, begins to thrust harder, faster, and he closes his eyes and thinks of triangles and tells himself over and over that he must not cry.
Jason woke when he heard the door open, and he rolled over to see Pythagoras creep in and stumble to his room in the dark. Jason frowned. It was the middle of the night. Where the hell had he been all this time?
The only reply was the curtain falling across his friend’s bedroom door. He never closed the curtain to his room.
Jason swung himself upright and sat on the edge of his bed. A deep snore rumbled from Hercules’ room, and Jason frowned. Pythagoras had walked out that afternoon after a blazing row with Hercules, and now he was sneaking back in the dark and refusing to speak to anyone. This wasn’t right. This was not normal behaviour from the man who Jason considered to be the best friend he had ever known.
The fact that Pythagoras had even raised his voice in anger at Hercules had been shocking enough. Oh they bickered, they argued, they took the piss out of each other all the time, but this was the first time Jason had ever seen them truly fight.
“What happened to the two loaves of bread we had in the cupboard?”
Hercules hadn’t even looked guilty.
“I had a little snack.”
“A little snack?” Pythagoras was incredulous. “That was two loaves of bread. They were supposed to last us for the next three days. I had meals all planned out to make them last.”
Hercules had simply shrugged.
That was the moment when Pythagoras had completely lost it.
“Right, so now what? What do you want me to do, Hercules? Go to the market and buy some more with all the money that we don’t have? Make meals out of air and water?”
“Oh, for pity’s sake, stop nagging,” Hercules had shot back.
Pythagoras had given that comment the respect he felt it deserved, which appeared to be precisely none, and started shouting again.
“How am I supposed to feed all three of us when all you ever do is eat, and drink, and take the money that is supposed to be shared and piss it up the bloody wall? I’ve had enough, Hercules. Enough.”
Before either Hercules or Jason had been able to do more than simply stare in shock, Pythagoras had slammed the door and was gone.
And now this. Jason hesitated a moment longer, and then got up and went across to Pythagoras’ room.
“Pythagoras? Are you okay?” he asked through the curtain.
“Can I come in?”
Jason stopped with his hand on the edge of the curtain.
“Pythagoras, you’re scaring me. What’s going on?”
Everything in his voice told Jason that was a lie.
He heard the sounds of water splashing, and then a hiss of pain, hastily bitten off.
“Right, I’m coming in.”
Pythagoras immediately started to protest, but Jason tugged the curtain aside and stepped into the room. Pythagoras stumbled as he moved to put the table between himself and Jason, and it took Jason a second to realise that he was pulling his trousers up. In the dim light from the window he could see a bowl of water on the table, and a cloth. When he looked up at Pythagoras the first thing he saw was the furious glare directed right at him, and the second was a bruised black eye.
“What happened? Who did that to you?”
“Get out, Jason.”
“No, not until you tell me what’s going on. Did someone attack you? Who was it?”
“Jason shut up!”
Jason was momentarily stunned into silence. Pythagoras finished adjusting his clothing, and then leaned heavily against the table.
“I’m sorry. Please, just go.”
“No. You’re really scaring me now. What happened? Why won’t you tell me?”
“Because we will all be happier if you do not know.”
Jason shook his head. He moved closer and reached for Pythagoras. The second he touched him Pythagoras flinched away.
Jason stared at him. This close, he could see that Pythagoras’ eye was a little swollen, and the bruise seemed to be spreading and darkening almost as he watched. That meant it was relatively fresh. He glanced down and in the silver glow of moonlight he noticed dark smears on the damp cloth. It took him a second to realise it was blood.
It was late and he had been dozing on and off for the last few hours, waiting for Pythagoras to return, and that was perhaps why his brain seemed slow to put everything together.
When he finally did, he wished he had not.
“Pythagoras, please, please tell me this isn’t what it looks like.”
“You have been attacked, haven’t you? And I don’t just mean a fight. Someone...” he struggled to find the right word. “Someone... forced you.”
Pythagoras was still leaning on the table, and he let his head drop, his eyes fixed on the cloth.
“No.” His voice sounded hollow. Defeated. “No, I was not forced. I offered. And afterwards, when I asked for the agreed money he refused, and when I argued he became violent.” Pythagoras glanced up and waved a hand vaguely in the direction of his black eye.
Jason gaped at him. He had no words. Never in a million years would he ever have imagined having this conversation with Pythagoras. Pythagoras, of all people.
Pythagoras held his gaze. “See? I told you we would all be happier if you did not know.”
“Why?” Jason managed to ask at last.
“Why do you think? We need the money.”
“Yes, but not like that.”
There was a sudden flash of anger in Pythagoras’ eyes.
“So I suppose right after I walked out, Hercules went off and found himself a job to pay for his own wine and pies, did he? Well? Did he?”
Jason shook his head. Of course that hadn’t happened. Jason felt a sudden flush of shame that he himself had not tried harder to get a job lately. It was just, they always seemed to manage, somehow. When things got tight, Pythagoras always seemed to find a little money from somewhere... oh.
“This isn’t the first time, is it?”
“It’s the first time it turned violent.”
“Don’t be flippant. Not about this.”
“What do you want me to say, Jason? We need to eat. We need money. Not one of us seems to be capable of holding down a regular job. It’s not like it’s every night, it’s only when things are really desperate.”
“Oh, so that makes it all right that you’re putting yourself in danger? That you’re selling yourself to strangers? Because you only do it when it’s really desperate, that makes it okay?”
“Of course it’s not okay. But it is necessary.”
“No. No, it really isn’t.” Jason took a breath and tried to calm himself. He could feel his temper slipping away with every word, and the last thing he wanted to do right then was cause another argument. “Pythagoras, you should have talked to us. If things were as bad as you say, then we need to sort it out together, all of us. It shouldn’t be up to you to deal with it, and especially not if this is your solution.”
“It’s better than all of us starving. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, of all people, what happened last time it got that bad.”
“No, this isn’t about me. Pythagoras, you got a black eye, but it could have been worse.” He suddenly remembered the cloth. “Scratch that, it is worse. You’re bleeding.”
Pythagoras shook his head. “No, the bleeding has stopped, it was barely anything. It’s just,” he paused. “It’s just been a while, since the last time.”
Jason took a deep breath. He couldn’t even imagine it. Hell, he didn’t want to imagine it. Pythagoras had been right about one thing – he really had been happier when he didn’t know the details.
“That’s not the point, and you know it. You could have been lying in an alleyway beaten to death and we wouldn’t have a clue where you were. I’d rather starve than let that happen, and if Hercules was here he’d say the same thing.”
“I doubt that.”
Jason deliberately chose to ignore that comment.
“But you know what? The fact that it turned nasty tonight isn’t the problem. The fact that you were out there at all, selling yourself, that’s the problem.”
Just the thought of it made Jason feel almost physically sick. The thought of anyone doing that was bad enough, but Pythagoras? Sweet, gentle, innocent Pythagoras. Or, apparently, not so innocent.
“Jason, please. If we’re just going to continue to argue over the same point, I would appreciate it if you would leave me alone, because right now all I want to do is get clean and go to bed.”
Where before there had been anger in his voice, now Pythagoras only sounded exhausted. Exhausted, and in pain.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Pythagoras shot him a look as if to say, are you serious? Then he said, “No. Thank you, but no.”
“Fine. We’ll finish this tomorrow, when Hercules is up.”
Jason was shocked by the vehemence in his voice.
“What?” But Jason had a feeling he knew what this was about.
“Hercules must never know about this. I couldn’t... He wouldn’t... Please, Jason. He cannot find out.”
The last time Jason could remember seeing that much fear and desperation in his friend’s eyes, they had been in the caves in the desert, and Pythagoras had been begging them to leave him to the Furies. It took Jason a second to really understand what was going on here, why Hercules finding out was so much worse than Jason himself knowing what Pythagoras had done.
It wasn’t just that Pythagoras was ashamed, although Jason suspected that was at least a part of it. Pythagoras and Hercules had been friends for a long time, and, much as he did his best to hide it under all the bluster, Hercules was protective of Pythagoras in a way that he wasn’t with Jason. If he found out that someone had done this to their friend, there was no telling what he might do in a fit of righteous anger and vengeance.
But it was more than that. Pythagoras had undoubtedly made his own choice to do what he did, but he would never have needed to if it hadn’t been for Hercules’ greed and selfishness. If Hercules knew, or even suspected, that Pythagoras had come to harm because of his thoughtlessness the guilt would tear him apart. By keeping it secret, Pythagoras was protecting Hercules as much as he was protecting himself.
Pythagoras was right; Hercules must never know about what had happened tonight.
Still, Jason hesitated to give Pythagoras his answer. It was never as obvious, but Jason had learned over time that Pythagoras could be just as stubborn as Hercules when he wanted to be, and Jason knew that if it came to it, if Pythagoras thought the situation was sufficiently desperate, he would go out and do the same thing again under the misguided belief that he was protecting his friends. Jason needed to find a way to stop that from happening, and, much as he disliked the thought of manipulating his friend, Jason could see an opportunity when it presented itself.
“All right,” Jason said. There was a flash of relief on Pythagoras’ face, but Jason held his hand up to stop him from speaking. “But you have to promise me something first. Promise me you won’t do this again. Swear to me this is the last time. If you do that, I give you my word that Hercules will never hear about it from me.”
Pythagoras held his gaze for several seconds, and Jason saw the moment when Pythagoras realised he had been beaten.
“I promise,” he said in a quiet voice
Jason nodded. That was good enough for him.
He almost turned to go, to give his friend the privacy he so obviously wanted, but something stopped him. With those last two words the fight seemed to have gone out of Pythagoras, and with it the tension and strength that had kept him going since he got home. He turned away, but not before Jason saw that he was shaking.
He stepped closer, reaching out again, but tentative, ready to back off if his friend showed any sign of discomfort.
“No, you’re really not.”
Jason slipped an arm around his thin shoulders and tugged him closer. Pythagoras resisted for a fraction of a second, and then he turned to Jason and let his head drop to rest on Jason’s shoulder. Jason wrapped him up in an embrace and soothed him like he would a frightened animal, one hand stroking Pythagoras’ back while the other came to rest on the back of his neck.
“It’s okay now, you’re safe.”
He knew that was probably not true, but right then it was what they both needed to believe.