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
“So, Pythagoras, that girl today?”
Pythagoras looked confused.
“The one in the marketplace. Short, blond, pretty. Blatantly trying to chat you up.”
Jason couldn’t hide his amusement any longer, especially at the look of utter surprise and bewilderment on Pythagoras’ face.
“What? Don’t be ridiculous. We were just talking about the uses of herbs in cooking.”
“Pythagoras, she was standing so close to you that if she’d got any nearer she would have had to climb inside your shirt.” Jason smirked. “Actually, by the way she was looking at you, I think she wanted to do that anyway.”
Pythagoras shook his head and gulped down a large swig of wine.
“I doubt that very much,” he muttered.
“You really didn’t notice?” Jason knew his friend could sometimes be a little slow when it came to reading people, but even by Pythagoras’ standards this was an impressive display of obliviousness.
“Even if I had noticed, she wasn’t my type.”
That caught Jason’s attention. Quite frankly, the fact that Pythagoras even had a ‘type’ was news worth investigating further.
“Oh yeah? So what is your type, then?”
Pythagoras abruptly, and for no apparent reason, flushed an interesting shade of pink, and stopped meeting Jason’s eye.
“Oh, come on. You can’t say something like that and then not tell me.” Jason knew he was grinning but he couldn’t help it.
Pythagoras picked up his cup and took another drink. Finally he looked up and properly met Jason’s gaze.
“Tall. Dark. Intelligent.” He hesitated. “Male.”
Most of Jason’s brain functions screeched to an abrupt halt. It took him several seconds, and a slightly nervous raised eyebrow from Pythagoras, to realise he was doing an impression of a startled goldfish, and he quickly closed his mouth.
“You’re gay?” Jason finally managed.
Pythagoras frowned in confusion.
“What does my state of happiness have to do with this?”
“Sorry. Um, I mean, you like men?”
“Yes.” Pythagoras seemed to study Jason for a moment. “I’ve shocked you.”
“No!” Jason shook his head.
Pythagoras looked sceptical. Jason wasn’t entirely sure he blamed him.
“No,” Jason tried again. “No, shocked isn’t the right word. I’m surprised, yes. But I mean, it’s okay. It’s fine, really. I’m not-” He realised he was on the verge of babbling, and attempted to regroup before he could dig himself in any deeper.
Jason’s mind was whirling, several ideas and memories associated with Pythagoras rearranging themselves in his mind to fit this new revelation. He wasn’t so preoccupied that he couldn’t recognise the worry in his friend’s eyes, though.
“Honestly,” Jason smiled. “It was just a bit unexpected, that’s all.”
Pythagoras finally returned his smile and visibly relaxed.
Pythagoras preferred men. Jason let it sink in for another moment or two, and then frowned.
“So how come Hercules keeps making all those comments about you and women? He must know, surely?”
“Of course he knows. He’s just being Hercules.”
Yes, that sounded about right. Jason wondered, suddenly, if Hercules made some of those comments deliberately to maintain the secret and throw Jason, or anyone else, off the truth. Which begged the question of why? Jason knew different cultures in history had a less than welcoming approach to homosexuality, but what he knew of the ancient world, of Greece and Rome, suggested they were a little more open to possibilities.
“This might be a stupid question...” he said, still trying to work out what he wanted to say, or rather, how he wanted to say it.
“If you don’t know the answer then asking is not stupid.”
It never failed to amaze Jason how patient Pythagoras was with Jason’s lack of knowledge about things. He was never going to stop being grateful for that patience, either.
“Okay. So, it is allowed in Atlantis? Can two men, or two women, have a relationship? It’s not illegal or anything, is it?”
“Is it illegal where you’re from?”
“No. It used to be, years ago, but not any more.”
Pythagoras seemed to be thinking hard for a few moments. Then he made himself comfortable, cross-legged, and adopted what Jason had come to think of as his ‘teacher’ persona.
“It’s not actually illegal, but at the same time it’s not openly acceptable, either. Nobody looks twice if boys experiment, it’s almost expected. But for two adult men to have a relationship is different. It’s practical as much as anything. Males are expected to marry and have children and carry on the family name. Eldest males in particular might be expected to carry on the family profession, or take over the household.”
Jason gave him a sympathetic grimace.
“That must be awkward for you.”
“Actually, not really. I never had any intention of following my father’s profession. And when our mother died I told Arcas he could have the house in Samos if he wanted it. Truthfully, I think he might have gambled it away. But I’ve no doubt he’ll produce more than enough children to carry on the family. Either way, there’s no one to be disapproving of me.”
Not for the first time, Jason wished there was something he could say to make any of Pythagoras’ family history okay, but he didn’t have time to speak before Pythagoras was off again.
“Anyway, it’s easier if there are other male siblings. It can be overlooked and family obligations can be taken on by another male heir. It’s also easier in a place like Atlantis, a big city. It’s less... obvious.”
Jason nodded. No matter whether you lived in 21st century England or ancient Greece, small village mindsets were the same.
“But I’m guessing from what you’re saying that you still can’t be open about it, even in a place like this?”
Pythagoras shook his head.
“People will tolerate it, as long as it is kept private.”
“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” Jason muttered.
Pythagoras frowned in confusion.
“It was a policy in the army, I think, where I come from,” Jason explained.
“It does sum it up quite well,” Pythagoras agreed. “Although here, the army, or a band of warriors, is actually a place where it is more likely to be acceptable. Or so I’ve heard, anyway.”
Lots of fit young men gathered together away from everyone else, all that testosterone. Yeah, Jason could see that.
He filed all this new information away, intending to come back to it later. In the meantime, while all this was useful background information, what Jason was really interested in was how all of this impacted on his friend.
“So, do you, um... Have you got...?”
Pythagoras smirked and took pity on him.
“Am I currently having a relationship with a man that I have somehow managed to keep secret from you and Hercules?” Pythagoras smiled and Jason squirmed. “Not at the moment. Not for a while, actually. There was someone, but...”
He shrugged, but for a second Jason saw something in his eyes. Something that looked a lot like hurt.
“I’m sorry, I’m being nosy. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want.”
Pythagoras looked at him steadily and gave him a small smile.
“I don’t. Not right now, at any rate. It is late, and I think that is a conversation for another day.”
Jason wasn’t sure whether to feel awful for having touched an obviously raw nerve, or relieved that Pythagoras trusted him enough to share such personal information, someday, even if not right away.
He reached for the wine, and realised the flagon was empty. It had been one of those nights, apparently.
Pythagoras sighed and stretched, and leaned back against the wall.
“Jason, can I ask...?” There was a curious expression on his face. “You really hadn’t realised I liked men?”
“Not a clue,” Jason admitted.
Jason had a sudden suspicion that he was going to be reminded of this the next time he so much as thought about teasing Pythagoras for being oblivious and clueless.