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
“Pythagoras, can I ask you something?”
Pythagoras turned from where he was leaning on the balcony and gave Jason a quizzical look.
“You can, and frequently do, ask me many things.”
Jason wandered over and leaned against the balcony frame beside him.
“Do you fancy the guy on the fish stall?”
Pythagoras gave him that look he did so well, the one with the raised eyebrows and the slightly bemused expression.
“You mean Diomedes?”
“Now, see, you know his name. That’s more than I do.”
“My knowing someone’s name leads you to believe that I... fancy... them?”
“No. You spending half the afternoon ogling him while I do practically all the shopping by myself leads me to believe that you fancy him.”
Pythagoras turned and leaned on the balcony and looked out over the city again, but Jason could see that he was smiling.
“I will admit that he is attractive. And perhaps I was paying more attention to the aesthetic qualities of his upper arm muscles than I was to the shopping. But I would not go so far as to say that I ‘fancied him’.”
Jason’s grin just got bigger.
“I knew it!”
It had taken Jason a while to work out what was so distracting Pythagoras on their shopping trip earlier that day, but once he had seen the man (Diomedes, apparently), and the way Pythagoras kept looking at him, it had suddenly all made sense. And what had Pythagoras said in that conversation a month or so ago? That he liked them tall and dark? Oh yeah, the guy on the fish stall fitted that type perfectly.
Jason hadn’t said anything at the time, not in so public a place as the market, but now they were home he couldn’t help himself.
“I’m not entirely sure why you find this so amusing,” Pythagoras said.
Jason clapped him on the shoulder.
“I’m not laughing. I’m happy for you. It’s good.”
Pythagoras threw him another one of those bemused looks.
“Me having yet another wholly unrequited attraction to someone makes you happy?”
Now it was Jason who frowned.
“Who said it was unrequited? Have you tried talking to him?”
“I don’t need to. And I don’t want to.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that even if he likes men, which is unlikely, the chance of him looking twice at me is so remote that it is not worth the risk. Besides which, just because I enjoy the view, does not mean I want to sample the merchandise.” He frowned. “And I am not entirely certain that metaphor worked the way I intended.”
Jason wasn’t sure which part of that statement to tackle first.
“You haven’t even tried and yet you’ve already convinced yourself that he won’t be interested?”
“I know he isn’t interested because he has shown absolutely no interest on any of the occasions that I have bought fish from him.”
Jason couldn’t help but notice that Pythagoras suddenly sounded defensive, his good humour slipping away with every moment.
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Jason said, somewhat more subdued than he had been a few minutes earlier.
“You didn’t upset me. But I think perhaps you misunderstood. Yes, Diomedes is attractive. Yes, I enjoy looking at him, but that is as far as it goes. I have no wish to start a relationship with him, and that has nothing to do with me assuming that he will reject me, and everything to do with the fact that I am simply not interested in him in that way.” He paused and gave Jason a rather lopsided smile. “To tell you the truth, on the few occasions we have spoken, I found him to be quite boring.”
Jason returned his smile.
“So it needs to be tall, dark and interesting. I’ll bear that in mind.”
“Jason, why are you so obsessed with my love life?”
Pythagoras just gave him a look of disbelief.
“I’m not. Really. I just...” He tried to work out what he wanted to say. “None of us seem to have much luck in that department. It would be nice if at least one of us was happy.”
Pythagoras’ expression softened at that, and Jason suddenly felt a warmth spreading through him that had very little to do with the early evening sun.
Then Pythagoras frowned again.
“So if I understand correctly... you think a pretty but boring man who perpetually stinks of fish would make me happy?”
Jason’s face fell. “Oh. I um...”
Pythagoras started to laugh and a moment later Jason joined him. Pythagoras slung an arm around Jason and pulled him close.
“Idiot,” he said, still chuckling.
Jason knew he was probably flushed bright red, but he hugged Pythagoras back.
“Not fair. I was trying to help.”
“I know,” Pythagoras said. “And I do appreciate it. Perhaps if all I wanted was a quickie in an alleyway I might have tried harder with him, but the truth is I am not interested in that sort of relationship. I want... I want something more meaningful. Something that is real.”
Jason opened his mouth to reply, but before he could find the right words an image popped into his mind of Pythagoras being shoved against an alley wall by Diomedes the fish seller, being kissed, being groped. Something curled in Jason’s belly that was neither warm nor happy at the thought. He felt... protective. Possessive, even. No, Jason was suddenly quite certain that he didn’t want the pretty fish seller anywhere near Pythagoras.
And what the fuck was all that about?
“I’m sorry,” Pythagoras said softly, his breath tickling Jason’s cheek. “That was probably more information than you really wanted.”
Jason wrapped his arms tighter around Pythagoras and pressed his nose into the other man’s hair.
“No. It’s fine. And you know what? One day you are going to have it. One day you will find someone who wants you, because you are brilliant and amazing. One day you will find someone who makes you happy again.”
Pythagoras’ breath caught for a second. He whispered something on the exhale that Jason couldn’t hear, but the arms around him squeezed gently.
It began to occur to Jason that he was not entirely sure what was going on here any more. The only thing he did know for certain was that the next time they went to the market, they were buying their fish from a different stall.