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
“Do you think I am wasting my time with all this work on triangles?”
Jason turned so quickly he practically gave himself whiplash.
“What? Why would you even say that?”
Pythagoras huffed and picked at a loose thread on his sleeve.
“Hercules thinks I’m wasting my time. And even you roll your eyes every time I talk about it.”
“So what? It’s never bothered you before.”
At least, Jason hoped it had never bothered him. Pythagoras had always taken their gentle teasing in good spirits. Or at least that was what it looked like.
“It doesn’t bother me. Not really. But it does make me think, sometimes. What use is it? I have always found triangles and mathematics and geometry utterly fascinating, and I would happily spend hours researching and experimenting for nothing more than the simple pleasure of it. But it won’t get me a job. It won’t put food on the table.” He sighed and tugged at the thread until it snapped. “Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be worth anything.”
Jason gaped at him. Pythagoras, the man whose name would be associated with triangles for thousands of years... was talking about giving up on triangles?
Seemingly oblivious to Jason’s shock, Pythagoras frowned at the thread in his fingers.
“Sometimes even I think I might be wasting my time. I wonder what there can possibly be to discover that hasn’t already been found by men far better than me. And even if I did come across something important, who would even listen to me? Who would read my work? The only thing I am known for is being the unfortunate person who hangs around with the famous Jason and the infamous Hercules.”
Jason couldn’t listen to this for another second. He knelt in front of Pythagoras and grabbed his shoulders. Pythagoras looked up, his eyes wide and surprised.
“Listen to me, Pythagoras. Don’t ever think that. What you are doing is important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No matter how silly or pointless people think it is, you must not believe them. Do you understand?”
It was Pythagoras’ turn to stare in shock.
“Why?” he breathed.
Because if you don’t history will be completely rewritten and the whole of the space time continuum might implode.
“Because... because I believe you have a great destiny. I believe your work will be important, and will be remembered.”
“You have said that before, when you took the black stone. But how can you possibly know that, Jason?”
“I can’t explain it. Just trust me, okay?”
Jason squeezed Pythagoras’ shoulders. He was suddenly aware that his heart was pounding in his chest.
“I do trust you. You know I do. But sometimes...”
Pythagoras stopped and bit his lip. He never broke eye contact with Jason, though, and right at that moment Jason couldn’t have looked away if his life depended on it.
He didn’t want to ask, but the words escaped on a breath.
“But sometimes what?”
“The things you know. The things you can do. All the things you say you cannot explain. Sometimes-” he broke off again and abruptly gave Jason a smile that was all nervous show. “Let’s say I am glad that you are my friend and not my enemy.”
All of Jason’s thoughts slammed to a stop. He realised he was all but pinning Pythagoras against the wall and he let go as his head dropped. Shit. Shit.
“Jason? Jason, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean... I’m sorry.”
Jason rocked back on his heels to stand up but Pythagoras grabbed the front of his shirt and held him where he was. Pythagoras’ other hand caught Jason’s chin and forced him to look up and meet the other man’s gaze.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Jason, you are my friend and I trust you and it doesn’t matter where you came from or what you can do.”
There was nothing but apologetic sincerity in his friend’s blue eyes, and Jason wanted to believe him so much.
He wanted to, but he couldn’t.
“Jason, please believe me. Yes, I admit that I would like to understand more about you. If one day you decided to tell me about yourself then I would love to listen. But even if you never choose to share anything about your past that does not change how I feel about you. I trust you, and you are my friend, and I care about you.”
Jason had no idea what to say. No idea what he could do to put this right. And how had they ended up in a situation where Jason was the one keeping all the secrets, and yet Pythagoras was the one apologising?
For one tiny moment Jason felt the words forming in his head. How difficult would it be to just say it? I’m from another world. I’m from the future and that’s how I know all this crazy shit that you don’t understand.
“Pythagoras, I...” Say it, say it, say it. “I... I’m sorry,” Jason said.
Shit, he was such a bloody coward.
Pythagoras smiled again, and this time it was a genuine smile. The one that reached his eyes and never failed to make Jason feel warm and safe and wanted. Jason offered a tentative smile in return. Abruptly, Pythagoras seemed to realise that he was still holding onto the front of Jason’s shirt, and he let go so quickly that Jason almost lost his balance and had to put a hand out to stop himself ending up on his backside on the floor.
“So much for my brilliant reflexes,” Jason commented with a sheepish smile. “Remind me, how did we even get to this?”
Pythagoras’ brow furrowed for a moment. “Triangles,” he eventually said. “Triangles and destiny.”
Oh, yes. The little matter of not screwing up the space-time continuum by changing history.
“Triangles. Yes. That’s what I was saying. You need to stick with it, because I know how important triangles are to you. Because you without triangles is like... like Hercules without wine. Like day without night. Like Laurel without Hardy.”
“Never mind.” Jason grinned at him. “Just trust me, okay? You can’t give up.”
Pythagoras’ brow furrowed in confusion, and Jason could almost see that ridiculously big brain of his working things out.
“Listen,” Jason tried again. “Forget destiny. Forget what anyone else thinks about it. There are two good reasons that outweigh everything else, and those are that triangles are more important to you than anything else, and that working on them makes you happy. I can’t think of any better reason than that to do something.”
That was met with a raised eyebrow, but Pythagoras nodded and his mouth twitched into a smile.
“Sometimes you can be surprisingly wise, Jason.”
“Surprisingly? Oh, thanks.”
“You know what I mean. Sometimes you talk complete nonsense, but sometimes you are wise. I think what you have said in the last few minutes actually covers both of those options.”
Jason laughed with him, mostly because he was just happy to see his friend relaxed and smiling again. But still, maybe it was time to change the subject entirely. This conversation was too dangerous.
“We should probably start thinking about food. Hercules will be home soon.”
Jason stood up and held a hand out to Pythagoras, and hauled him to his feet. Jason turned and headed towards the main room, but Pythagoras didn’t follow him.
“You were wrong about something, Jason.”
Pythagoras’ voice was suddenly quite serious, and Jason stopped and turned to look at him. He was frowning, like he was trying to work something out.
“There are some things that I believe are more important than triangles.”
“Really? What things?”
At that moment, Jason’s stomach rumbled loudly. Pythagoras rolled his eyes.
“Well, right now, I think dinner is more important than triangles.”
He headed into the main room, and Jason watched him go. The timeline of history had been saved, but he couldn’t help wondering what he might have said if he wasn’t such a coward. Or what Pythagoras might have said if they had not been interrupted.