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 want me to do something with that shoulder for you?”
Jason was about to refuse, but he made the mistake of attempting to reach for a candle on the table, and winced as a spasm of pain shot through his shoulder and down his arm again.
Pythagoras obviously saw it.
“Sit down,” Pythagoras said. “And don’t move.”
Jason did as he was told and sat at the table in the balcony room. It would be dark soon, and he had intended to light the candles before night-time proper set in, but the truth was he could barely move his left arm, and anything that required two hands was becoming increasingly tricky as his shoulder had seized up over the last few hours.
Pythagoras came back with an armful of jars and bottles and set them on the table.
“Do you need a hand getting your top off?”
Jason struggled with it for a minute.
“Maybe,” he amended sheepishly.
Pythagoras just rolled his eyes and helped get his shirt off without jostling his shoulder any more than was necessary.
“It’s not actually bruised,” Pythagoras said, apparently more to himself than to Jason. “But considering the way you have been acting for the last few hours I suspect it must be sprained, at least.”
“It’s a bit stiff,” Jason admitted. “And it hurts whe- Ow!”
“Sorry,” Pythagoras froze with his fingers still pressed against the back of Jason’s shoulder. “Too hard?”
Jason braced himself against the table with his right arm, and tried to stay quiet as Pythagoras gently probed and investigated the injury.
“I’m going to rub some salve into it. It ought to help loosen the muscles, or at least stop them from stiffening any further.”
Jason nodded. Lots and lots of experience had taught him to just let Pythagoras get on with it when it came to dealing with injuries and ailments. Even without the benefits of 21st century medicine, Jason was always impressed by how much his friend could actually achieve just with his potions and herbal remedies.
He watched Pythagoras take a generous dollop of an oily looking paste, and wrinkled his nose at the sharp scent. He winced again when Pythagoras started massaging it into his shoulder.
“Sorry. I’m afraid there is no way of doing this that won’t hurt a little. I’ll try to be as gentle as I can.”
“I know you will. Thanks.”
“I think you should avoid sword practice for a few days as well.”
“That’s not going to help the next time we get attacked by bandits.”
“Neither will you putting your arm out of action for several weeks if you damage it further.”
Pythagoras sounded annoyed, and Jason tried to glance round and look at him, but couldn’t twist far enough without it hurting.
“You’re bossy tonight,” Jason commented, keeping his gaze firmly on the table in front of him.
“And you’re stubborn as usual.”
Pythagoras continued rubbing the salve into Jason’s shoulder, his fingers working methodically and carefully, continually adjusting the pressure in response to Jason’s reactions.
“Maybe I could sit and watch while you practice instead,” Jason said. He wanted to keep talking to distract himself from the pain.
Pythagoras snorted. “Me? Sword practice?”
“You should. You’re putting yourself in danger along with the rest of us every time we go out. You should be better at defending yourself.” Jason paused. “I worry, sometimes, that I might not be fast enough to get to you if you’re in trouble.”
For a moment Pythagoras’ fingers stilled against Jason’s skin.
“You always have so far.”
“So far, yes. What happens when I don’t? You need to be able to fight better.”
Pythagoras began to work again, this time pressing his thumbs into the muscles around the injury. Jason tensed, expecting another sharp spasm, and was surprised when all he felt was a persistent ache.
“I’m really not sure that’s my strong point,” Pythagoras pointed out.
“Exactly. Which is why you need to practice. I’ll work with you. You don’t need to turn into a great warrior anything. Just be able to defend yourself long enough for me or Hercules to get to you.”
Jason decided it was probably time to drop the subject. He would try again later, maybe when Hercules was around. He was sure Pythagoras wouldn’t be able to withstand both of them arguing for it.
It took him a minute or two to realise that Pythagoras had stopped focussing on his injured shoulder and was now gently massaging Jason’s neck and back. His fingers seemed to unerringly seek out all the tight muscles and then relentlessly worked to loosen them. Jason opened his mouth to speak up and say it wasn’t necessary, that he had done enough already, but right then Pythagoras’ skilful hands ran up and down his spine and Jason couldn’t contain a soft moan of pleasure.
Pythagoras only hesitated for a second, and then did it again, eventually settling his hands on Jason’s neck and upper back. He began to work again, and Jason felt the tension melt away. With all thoughts of protest gone, his eyes slid closed and he let his head drop forwards to give Pythagoras easier access.
“You’re not the only one who worries, you know,” Pythagoras said in a soft voice. “You are always throwing yourself into danger without a thought. Sometimes I can’t help but fear what might happen if one day you are injured beyond my ability to heal.”
Oh, that was not fair, saying something like that when Jason was so relaxed and comfortable.
“I’ll be fine,” he mumbled.
Pythagoras replied with a noncommittal hum. He was rubbing small circles at the base of Jason’s skull now, and it was sending wonderful warm sensations through his body. Jason could have quite happily fallen asleep right there.
“I’ll be careful,” Jason offered.
“No, you won’t,” Pythagoras said. “We both know you won’t because you can’t stop yourself if you think you have to dive into a fight to protect someone. I have accepted that. It doesn’t stop me worrying, though.”
“Sorry,” Jason mumbled.
Pythagoras huffed a small laugh.
“Between you and Hercules, I fear you will send me prematurely grey.”
Jason chuckled at that. Pythagoras ran his hands along Jason’s shoulders again, his touch feather-light across the injured left shoulder, and then he stepped away. Jason barely managed to prevent himself from whimpering when he realised the massage had stopped.
“How does it feel now?”
Jason forced himself to open his eyes and look up. He thought he must have lost track of time, because the room was darker than he remembered it being when Pythagoras had started examining his shoulder. Pythagoras was wiping the last of the oily salve from his hands with a cloth. He looked a little flushed, but maybe it was just the poor light.
Jason tentatively moved his shoulder. Still sore, but nowhere near as bad as it had been.
“Better. Good, actually. Thank you.”
Pythagoras just smiled.
“Don’t do anything silly until it has healed properly. I’ll have another look at it tomorrow.”
“You should let me do that for you sometime,” Jason said, the words coming out before he actually thought about it.
“I’m not the one with the strain injuries, usually.”
“No. I mean the other bit.”
Pythagoras might not get injured as regularly, but he did need to relax more. The more Jason thought about it, the more he was warming to the idea. Having Pythagoras shirtless and stretched out beneath him, Jason running his hands over that pale skin until their resident genius finally stopped thinking so hard and just chilled out.
“Oh. I, um... That would be nice,” Pythagoras said. He looked oddly flustered. But possibly not as flustered as Jason suddenly felt right then.
Jason tried to smile, but after a moment he couldn’t meet Pythagoras’ eye any longer. Shit. The last time he’d had thoughts like that... no, there was no way he could look at Pythagoras with that image still in his head.
It was almost a relief when Pythagoras gathered up his bottles and jars and went to put them away. As soon as he was out of the room, Jason let himself have a tiny little panic.
This was not good.