Title: Conversations on a Balcony
Pairing/characters: Jason/Pythagoras, Hercules
Warnings: Language, angst, mention of past abusive relationship
Spoilers: General for series 1
Disclaimer: Not mine. BBC and Urban Myth Films own them.
Word count: approx 20,000 (total)
AN: Written for smallfandombang round 4. Thanks to small fandom bang for giving me the excuse to finally get this fic written. It is, of course, inspired by that scene in episode 1.6. Fic is set after the end of series 1 and before the beginning of series 2
AN2: Certain parts of this story may seem familiar to anyone who has read my fic A Million Little Things. That’s because A Million Little Things is pretty much my established headcanon backstory for Pythagoras and Hercules’ past together, so I figured why not use it again? This time we get things from Pythagoras’ point of view.
AN3: Thanks to fififolle and clea2011 for the beta. And huge thanks to Clea and Celeste for putting up with me wittering on about it for the last three months or so.
AN4: Go and look at the beautiful artwork created for this fic by kat_lair (or on AO3). It’s scattered throughout the fic as well, but please go and give the artist some feedback for all this lovely work.
Summary: It’s late at night, they are in the house by themselves, so Jason and Pythagoras talk. In a story told wholly through a series of late night conversations, often aided by alcohol, Jason and Pythagoras discuss anything and everything, from the not so serious (such as the time Jason tries to explain the internet), to subjects that are close to both their hearts. In doing so, they learn more about each other and their friendship grows.
But no matter how close they are, Jason knows they both have secrets. Jason still dare not tell Pythagoras the truth about who he is and where he comes from. And no matter how honest Pythagoras is about his sexuality and past relationships, Jason soon comes to believe that his friend is hiding a great heartache.
When matters come to a head one night, Jason must decide how much he is prepared to risk in order to save his relationship with the best friend he has ever known.
Fic on AO3
full size version of the book cover here
“Jason, what is...?” Pythagoras paused and frowned. “Int...er...net?”
Jason stopped, the cup halfway to his mouth, and tried not to panic.
“What?” he stalled.
“I heard you talking about it yesterday. When I was working on my equations, you muttered something about five minutes on the int er net and you would save me a lot of work.”
“Um...” Jason bought himself another few moments by actually getting the cup to his mouth and taking a slow drink from it.
They had been sitting on the balcony and drinking wine and chatting about inconsequential things for about half an hour when Pythagoras had dropped that particular can of worms into the conversation.
He glanced over the rim of his cup. Pythagoras was watching him with such an expression of genuine curiosity, Jason suddenly knew he had to say something. He couldn’t just sidestep this one, like he had with so many other accidental slips since he had arrived in Atlantis.
It was just, no matter how intelligent Pythagoras undoubtedly was, Jason had no idea how the hell to explain the internet to someone whose level of technological knowledge was barely out of the Bronze Age. What he needed was a way of describing it that didn’t just lead to even more questions, like what electricity and computers were.
Pythagoras began to frown, and Jason glanced around the room, desperate for inspiration. He spotted a pile of his friend’s scrolls weighted down on the table, the corners fluttering slightly in the breeze, and an idea started to form in his mind.
“It’s... it’s sort of like a magic box of scrolls.”
“Sort of like?”
“It’s really difficult to explain. But imagine you had a box about so big,” Jason put his cup down and demonstrated about the size and shape of a laptop with his hands. “And it contained all the scrolls in the world. Every bit of knowledge that anyone had ever written down.”
“It is not possible to fit that many scrolls in a box that size,” Pythagoras said, in almost exactly the same tone he had used when they first met, when he had questioned how a city could exist under the sea.
“That’s why it’s a magic box. The scrolls aren’t in there until you ask for them.”
Pythagoras didn’t dignify that with a reply, just a disbelieving raised eyebrow.
“No, stick with me on this.” Jason was getting into his stride now. He suspected the near half a flagon of wine he had already drunk might be helping a little.
“Okay, so you’re right. Obviously a box that size can’t fit all the knowledge in the world in it at the same time. But it’s magic. You have to ask it for the information that you want, and then when you open it, it will only contain the scrolls that are relevant to what you asked it.”
And about five thousand other things that aren’t even remotely relevant, but let’s not go into that, he thought to himself.
Pythagoras leaned forward, obviously intrigued, despite his scepticism.
“Let’s say, for instance, you wanted to know something about a particular herb,” Jason continued. “You type- I mean, you ask it for information about that herb, and then when you open the box, you find all sorts of scrolls about things to do with that herb. The more specific you are, the better the information. Say, if you just ask for general stuff about the herb, you’ll get all sorts of rubbish, and spend ages sorting through it to find anything useful. But if you ask it for medicinal uses for the herb, it will cut out a lot of the irrelevant ones and give you more of what you want.”
“And if I then closed the box and asked it for something different, those herb scrolls would disappear, and it would be filled with new scrolls about the new question?”
Jason grinned. “Exactly.”
“I have never heard of such a magic device. It sounds incredibly powerful; the ability to have a limitless library at your fingertips like that. Surely only wealthy and powerful men could have access to such a thing?”
“Actually, nearly everyone has one. And if they don’t there are public ones that people can use for free.”
Pythagoras gave him a suspicious stare for several seconds, and then grinned.
“I almost believed you for a moment!”
Jason knew he ought to have been relieved, but for a second he felt... disappointed. That made no sense, though. He wondered exactly how strong this wine was.
Pythagoras, still grinning, leaned across and poked his shoulder.
“You are getting as bad as Hercules with these stories.”
“Nobody is that bad,” Jason chuckled.
“Magic box of scrolls that everyone has access to!” Pythagoras poured himself some more wine, shaking his head in utter disbelief.
And right at that moment Jason wanted to show him. Jason desperately wanted to find a way to take Pythagoras back to the 21st century and show him his world. The thought of Pythagoras with access to the internet for even just an afternoon. The things he could accomplish! He wanted to show him computers and libraries and television. He wanted to feed him several bags of Haribo sweets and sit back and watch what happened, because the mental image of Pythagoras on a sugar and e-number high was both hilarious and slightly terrifying.
He wanted to not have to lie to his best friend any more.
It suddenly occurred to Jason that he had got away with it again. He had managed to sidestep the awkward question, and his secrets were still safe.
He couldn’t help but wonder how many more times Pythagoras would let him get away with it.