Title: Conversations on a Balcony
Pairing/characters: Jason/Pythagoras, Hercules, Pythagoras/OC (past), Jason/OC (past)
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
“How old were you when you first kissed a girl?” Jason smirked. “Or boy.”
Pythagoras raised his eyebrows, but he looked amused.
“Really? This is what you want to talk about tonight?”
“Yes. You said it was my turn to choose the topic of conversation, and this is my choice.” He grinned and prodded Pythagoras with his foot. “So come on. How old?”
Pythagoras rolled his eyes but returned Jason’s smile.
“Thirteen. And the first time was girl.” He paused and looked thoughtful. “That was actually the last time I ever kissed a girl as well.”
“Really?” Jason sipped his wine. Hercules had found a particularly potent variety recently, and Jason suspected that the fact he was no longer entirely sober was behind his ability to have this conversation tonight.
Pythagoras nodded but didn’t elaborate. He seemed lost in thought.
“So what about the first time you kissed a boy?”
Jason had to admit he was impressed.
“So what’s it like? What’s the difference?”
“Between a girl and a boy? At that age, not a lot of difference at all to be honest.” Pythagoras shrugged. “I imagine there would be quite a lot of differences as an adult, but I’m afraid I don’t know.”
Jason watched his friend as he leaned back against the wall and cradled his cup of wine in his lap. Despite his initial reaction, he did not seem the least bit uncomfortable with the topic of discussion. If anything, he seemed faintly amused.
Jason had to admit that he may possibly have developed a slight fixation on Pythagoras’ love life. For so long he had believed Hercules’ jokes about Pythagoras only loving triangles, and Jason has simply assumed that Pythagoras really was as uninterested in physical relationships as Hercules liked to imply.
Over the last few months, with everything he had learned about his friend, it was as if a whole new side to him had been revealed. No matter how much Pythagoras shared, Jason still wanted to know more.
Okay,” Jason said, smirking slightly. “How old when you lost your virginity?”
Pythagoras rolled his eyes at that.
“Yep. Come on, I need to know.” Jason figured he was probably pushing his luck, but what was the worst that could happen?
Pythagoras settled back and took a drink before he started to speak.
“Fifteen. I was fifteen the first time.”
Pythagoras paused briefly, his eyes fixed on the cup in his hands.
“It was also the first time I fell in love.” He snorted, and it was not a happy sound. “At least, I thought it was love.”
Even through the alcohol-induced good mood, Jason was not oblivious to the sudden change in his friend. He began to get a bad feeling about this.
“I was twelve when I killed my father,” Pythagoras continued. “By the time I was fifteen I couldn’t stay there any longer. I went to Aristodamos. He was a scholar and man of science in the city, and I studied with him and lived with him at his school. At first there was another boy, older than me, but he soon left and it was just me and Aristodamos.”
Aristo... that name sounded familiar, but Jason couldn’t remember where he had heard it before. The sense that this conversation might be a mistake was getting stronger, but before he could interrupt, Pythagoras was speaking again.
“He taught me mathematics and geometry, and it was a revelation, working with someone who cared about the same things that I was interested in. He made me feel like I wasn’t stupid for wanting to study them. He encouraged me. He praised my desire for knowledge and learning. No one had ever done that before.” Pythagoras played absently with the cup in his hands, his expression suggesting he was far away in his memories. “During the day he taught me about science and history and philosophy. And at night... well, at night he taught me other things.”
It took Jason a moment to fully understand what his friend meant. Had Pythagoras just admitted to losing his virginity at fifteen with his teacher?
“Are you telling me you slept with your teacher?”
Christ. Jason had been expecting this to be about another student, some other maths geek who had come along and stolen his friend’s teenage heart. Not his bloody teacher.
Jason knew the shock must have shown on his face, because Pythagoras was staring at him and quite frankly looked mystified at Jason’s reaction.
“Pythagoras, don’t you get it? He was your teacher and he took advantage of you.”
Pythagoras shook his head.
“He didn’t take advantage of me. I wanted him. I thought he wanted me. He made me believe that I was special.” He stopped, and Jason saw his expression morph into something that looked a lot like self-contempt. “Until I turned seventeen. And then another, younger, student came along. Suddenly Aristodamos’ attention shifted to the new boy. He stopped flattering me. I wasn’t needed any more.”
“Pythagoras.” Jason had no idea what to say to that. What he did know was that he wanted to punch this Aristodamos bastard.
Pythagoras let his head fall back against the wall. “I know what you’re thinking. I know. I was naive. I was a bloody idiot. It was never real. But it was to me. It was real to me, Jason. He was my first.”
Jason had no words. He wanted to rage. He wanted to make Pythagoras see how wrong that entire situation had been. He wanted to know how Pythagoras had turned out so kind and gentle and perfect, when he had spent half his childhood being fucked over by damn near every male authority figure in his life.
He said nothing, though. This was a different world, almost literally. They did things differently here. That didn’t make it right, and it didn’t make Jason any less angry, but there was no point pissing Pythagoras off by questioning what, to him, apparently seemed normal. Acceptable.
“I suppose, in a way, I should be grateful,” Pythagoras suddenly said, breaking the silence. “If it hadn’t ended like that I might never have got on that boat to Atlantis. And despite everything, I will never regret that.”
“Because you met Icarus here?”
“And Hercules. And you.”
He sighed and took another drink. Then he turned to Jason with a look that seemed determined to recover the good mood they had started the night with.
“So, how old were you for your first kiss?” Pythagoras asked.
It took Jason a moment longer to shake off the righteous anger he was still feeling, and he stalled, taking another sip of wine while he forced himself to calm down.
“Fourteen, I think.”
“Surely not! Jason with looks like yours I refuse to believe that no one was interested before then.”
For a moment, and with the lingering disquiet from Pythagoras’ story, Jason suspected that he was being mocked. He looked up, but the corners of Pythagoras’ mouth were turned up into a small, affectionate smile. Jason finally, properly relaxed.
“I was a late developer,” he admitted. “I was actually a bit short and funny looking until a really impressive growth spurt when I was fifteen. After that, I got a lot of interest.”
Pythagoras grinned. “I can’t imagine you looking anything other than perfectly handsome.”
“You’d be surprised,” Jason murmured.
“So I take it that you have never kissed a man?” Pythagoras asked.
“Never. Well, not in a sexual or romantic way.” Jason tried to blank the memory of Hercules attempting to kiss him out in the desert that one time.
Pythagoras nodded, like he had suspected as much. Then when he did look back at Jason the expression on his face could only be described as... mischievous.
Jason suspected that he would have been worried if he hadn’t drunk so much wine already.
“So, how old were you when you lost your virginity?”
Jason groaned, but it was more for show than anything else.
“Oh, come on. You know all about mine. And besides, you started this.”
Jason laughed. He supposed Pythagoras had a point. It wasn’t something he usually shared because it wasn’t exactly a high point of his life, but this was Pythagoras. He wouldn’t laugh, he wouldn’t judge, and quite honestly, it wasn’t any worse than Pythagoras’ first time story.
“Katie Johnson. I was seventeen, and she was in my class at sixth form college.” He caught the look of complete confusion on Pythagoras’ face, and amended it. “It’s a type of school where I’m from. For people who want to study further after they’ve had a basic education.”
Pythagoras nodded enthusiastically.
“I take it she wasn’t the teacher?” Pythagoras asked with a wicked grin.
“Absolutely not,” Jason grinned back. “She was one of the popular girls. You know, the ones at the top of the social pecking order.”
“And I expect you were the most popular boy at this school.”
“Actually, no. Not at all. I was the quiet one. I never thought someone like Katie Johnson would look at me twice. But then there was a party round at someone’s house, and they must have been feeling generous because I got invited as well, and Katie was there, and there was a lot of alcohol involved.”
“This does not sound very romantic,” Pythagoras observed.
Jason snorted. “It really wasn’t. Anyway, Katie was the one who came onto me, and I was flattered by the attention, and I’d had a few drinks so I didn’t see what was really going on at first. And I let her take me to one of the spare bedrooms and we... well, I don’t need to draw a diagram.”
Jason took another swig from his cup and realised it was empty. He frowned, waved it at Pythagoras until he poured some more, and Jason tried again.
“So, all that was fine. I strutted into school on Monday thinking I was finally in with the popular crowd. But when I tried to talk to Katie she just blanked me. But she was the only one who wasn’t looking at me and whispering whenever I walked past. And I couldn’t understand what was going on until I overheard some other girls talking about how Katie was bragging that she’d shagged the prettiest guy in school. And of course, she just happened to let it slip that I’d been a virgin as well. ”
“That’s all it was. She wasn’t even remotely interested. She just wanted another conquest to brag about. She wanted to be the first one to ‘bag the pretty one’.” He made little quotation marks in the air with his fingers, until he realised Pythagoras had no clue what that would mean.
Pythagoras patted his shoulder. “I’m sorry. You should have told me to shut up if you did not want to talk about this.”
“No, it’s fine,” Jason said quickly. “It was years ago. I don’t care any more. Yeah, it hurt at the time, but it’s not the end of the world. It just... I don’t know, made me wary. Made me second guess their motives every time anyone showed an interest. I suppose that explains why I never had a whole lot of long term relationships after that.”
“You cannot judge everyone by one person’s shallow standards.”
“I know. I know that. But it’s just...” Jason let his head fall back against the wall and closed his eyes.
“You and Hercules make all these comments about my looks. You think it must be so easy for me because I look good. Like I could just snap my fingers and have anyone I wanted. God, Pythagoras, I wish it was so easy.”
“Jason,” Pythagoras started, but Jason didn’t let him finish.
“You know, sometimes I wish I could find a way of telling whether someone really wants me, or whether they just want the status symbol of being with the pretty guy who also happens to be the famous slayer of the Minotaur and champion of the fucking arena. Like that’s the only thing I have to offer.”
Jason’s eyes snapped open when he felt Pythagoras’ hand on his jaw, forcing him to turn and look at Pythagoras. Pythagoras was on his knees now, looming over Jason, right in his face.
“Listen to me Jason. You are so much more than just a pretty face. You always have been, and you always will be. Anyone who cannot see that is not worth wasting your time on. Trust me.”
Pythagoras’ eyes burned with an intensity that Jason couldn’t look away from, and he found himself nodding. Only when Pythagoras finally seemed happy that Jason had got the message he finally let go and sat back down, suddenly looking a little embarrassed.
Jason waited for his heart to slow down. That had been unexpected.
“Hercules would die laughing if he could hear us talking,” Jason said to distract himself from the moment.
“True. Which is why we always wait for him to go out before we have these conversations.” Pythagoras sighed. “I know sometimes we have touched upon things that we would normally avoid, but I for one am glad that we can talk like this. Much as I love Hercules, there are some things that I cannot talk to him about.”
Jason turned to look at Pythagoras, curious. Pythagoras wasn’t meeting his eye, though. Jason decided that had to be deliberate.
“Me too,” he finally said. “He’d still piss himself laughing, though. Especially if he knew that out of the two of us, you’re the one with the most successful long term relationships.”
Pythagoras, the man who was so socially awkward that for a while Jason had all but convinced himself the man might even still be a virgin. Pythagoras, the man who, unlike Jason, was not afraid to give his heart completely to another, no matter how much he risked by doing so.
“You said yourself that you have had many relationships with women.”
“No, I said I had flings. I had casual relationships that lasted a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two. Maybe it’s a good thing that it never worked out with me and Ariadne. Imagine if I’d finally got to be with her, and then it had all fallen apart after a month because I’m just shit at relationships. Somehow I don’t think breaking the heart of the heir to the throne of Atlantis would be a great long term survival strategy.”
“That is quite a good point,” Pythagoras said.
Jason turned to look at him, and saw that Pythagoras was smirking again.
Jason felt himself begin to smile, and then they were both laughing together.
“I think I’m just doomed when it comes to women,” Jason said finally, as they calmed down and he caught his breath. “Hey, maybe you’ve got the right idea. Maybe I should try men instead.”
Pythagoras had just taken a mouthful of wine, which was a mistake because at Jason’s words he spluttered most of it back out into his hand and started coughing and choking. Jason slapped his back until he caught his breath again.
“What?” Pythagoras eventually managed. “I don’t think it’s that easy, you know. You said yourself you have never had any interest in men.”
“That’s not technically true,” Jason said, wondering even as he spoke whether this was a good idea.
Pythagoras just stared at him, his mouth open in a little ‘oh’, his eyes wide and an expression of utter shock on his face.
Jason wondered if that was what he had looked like the day that he had learned Pythagoras was gay. He rather hoped not, it looked bloody silly.
“Jason, tell me everything,” Pythagoras demanded, having apparently regained the ability to speak.
“There’s not a lot to tell.”
“Oh no. You don’t get away with that. If you do not tell me, then I will be forced to torture it out of you.”
Jason couldn’t help an amused incredulous look at that.
“Pythagoras, you couldn’t torture someone if your life depended on it.”
Pythagoras paused. Then that mischievous grin was back.
“Maybe not, but I could talk triangles at you all night. Hercules has often said that is worse than any form of torture he can imagine.”
Jason held his hand up in mock surrender. “No! Not the triangles! Please!”
He joked, but in truth, he liked to listen to Pythagoras talking about triangles and mathematics. He didn’t actually understand most of what he said, but that didn’t matter, because what he enjoyed was the way Pythagoras talked about it, the way his eyes lit up and he got so enthusiastic and passionate and excited until the words started to fall over themselves. In truth, Jason just liked seeing Pythagoras happy. But he wasn’t going to say that out loud.
Pythagoras settled down again, watching him intently. It was slightly unnerving.
Jason hesitated and tried to gather his thoughts. Then he began to tell Pythagoras something he had never shared with anyone, ever.
“It was a few years ago. He was called Daniel, and he was someone I met while I was working with my uncle Mac on the boats. Daniel was interested in all the same things as me – sailing, diving, marine archaeology. We hit it off pretty much straight away. We became close friends.”
Jason paused as he remembered those days that summer. The days out on the water together any chance they could get, the evenings drinking beer and eating pizza and heckling crappy films, and talking until the early hours.
He realised he was smiling to himself.
“It took me a while to realise that I was having, well, thoughts about him. Slightly more than platonic thoughts. Eventually thoughts turned into fantasies.”
Jason glanced at Pythagoras. The man was watching him intently, apparently captivated.
“What happened?” Pythagoras asked, when Jason stayed quiet for too long. “Did you tell him how you felt?”
“Hell no. Pythagoras, I was terrified. I did exactly the opposite of telling him – I started to distance myself from him, because I had no idea how to handle it. Eventually he gave up on trying to find out what was wrong with me and we drifted apart.”
Jason turned away and downed the rest of his wine, because it was easier than seeing the look of pity on Pythagoras’ face.
“Oh, Jason. I’m sorry.”
“I told you I was bloody useless at relationships. I don’t even know what was going on that summer. I’d never felt that way about a guy before. I’d spent my entire life thinking I was only interested in women, because that’s what was expected of me. No matter how supposedly liberated my land was, the default expectation of most of society was that I should want women, and I had never had cause to question that until I met Daniel. And when I did question it, the answer scared me so fucking much that I ran away.”
Pythagoras was nodding, and Jason could see the understanding in his eyes. Yeah, he knew exactly what Jason was talking about. Except for the part about being too scared to act on it. It was ironic, Jason reflected. For all that people claimed he, Jason, was a hero, when it came to matters of the heart, Pythagoras was probably the bravest man Jason had ever known.
“Jason, it’s not your fault. To discover something so unexpected when you are already grown and confident in your beliefs about yourself, that must be quite shocking and confusing. I knew my preference for men when I was young, and I was still experimenting. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you.” He hesitated, and when he spoke again, there was something in his eyes that Jason couldn’t place. “Perhaps if it happens again, you will be able to accept it more easily. It won’t be such a shock. Perhaps... you might consider acting on it.”
Jason made a noncommittal noise. Perhaps.
“How did we even start talking about this, anyway?” Jason said. He couldn’t deal with being under such scrutiny any longer. He didn’t want to hear whatever words of comfort or understanding Pythagoras might try to speak. He wanted to go back to the good mood they had started the night with.
“You insisted on talking about first kisses,” Pythagoras pointed out.
Pythagoras seemed strangely disappointed at the change of subject. Jason guessed he probably had a thousand questions he wanted to ask now. Questions that Jason wasn’t ready to answer, and he knew how much of a hypocrite that made him after the way he had grilled Pythagoras about his love life recently, but he just couldn’t right now.
“You know what is sad?” Jason said, more thinking out loud than anything. “I think the last person who kissed me was Hercules. When we were on the way to Helios.”
Pythagoras smiled. Then pulled a face.
“Actually I think Hercules was the last person who kissed me as well. When you were cursed and I’d just discovered the cure.”
“That doesn’t count, though, right? It wasn’t a proper kiss.” Because if it did count, that was a pretty horrifying reflection on the state of both their love lives.
“If it bothers you so much then no, it probably doesn’t count.”
“That’s not fair. Now you’re just humouring me.”
Pythagoras put on a mock patronising expression and patted Jason’s arm.
“Yes Jason, of course I am.”
An idea began to form in Jason’s brain. He grinned.
“You know what we need to do? We need to kiss each other.”
Pythagoras spluttered his wine across the room for the second time that night.
The idea was gaining momentum the more Jason thought about it, no doubt aided by the wine. This was a fantastic plan.
“Yeah. That way, Hercules won’t be the last person that we both kissed. And what you were saying about me getting used to the idea of having non-platonic thoughts about men. Well, you’re a guy and you know all about kissing men because you’re totally gay, so if I kiss you and it’s all right then I’ll know it won’t be a complete turn off if I do ever fancy another bloke. It’s a win-win situation.”
And if it meant he got to kiss Pythagoras as well, that was just a bonus, right?
He grinned at Pythagoras. Pythagoras stared back at him with an expression that couldn’t seem to decide whether it wanted to be shock or pure blind panic.
“Oh, come on, Pythagoras. It’s fine.”
He put his wine down and contemplated the best way to do it.
“Don’t you think you should wait until it’s someone who you really care about? It won’t be the same. In fact, it would be completely different. I don’t think-”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I care about you. And it’s not like we’re going to have sex or anything. It’s just a kiss.”
Before Pythagoras could come up with any other silly reasons to object, Jason closed the distance in one swift movement and ended up on his knees straddling Pythagoras’ legs. He plucked the cup from Pythagoras’ hand and put it down. Jason traced Pythagoras’ jaw with his finger, tilted his head up to make the angle easier, and then he leaned down and kissed him.
Pythagoras made a tiny whining sound and froze utterly beneath him. Through his alcohol-induced confidence, it began to occur to Jason that Pythagoras was possibly not entirely on board with this idea. He hesitated, their mouths still touching.
“Pythagoras?” he breathed. He wasn’t even sure what he was asking.
Without any warning, Pythagoras pressed up towards him and his mouth opened and he was kissing Jason back. Jason might have been the one who started this but he was suddenly aware that he was no longer the one in control. All he could do was go with it as Pythagoras pushed, probed, encouraged Jason to open his mouth as well, and... Oh. Oh god.
Pythagoras’ hand burrowed deep into Jason’s hair and held him in place. It was completely unnecessary; Jason couldn’t have stopped or pulled away if his life depended on it. He closed his eyes and followed where Pythagoras led him.
When they finally parted Jason was the one who whined, although it took him a moment to even realise he was the one who had made the sound. He tried to breathe again and opened his eyes and pulled back enough so that he could look at Pythagoras properly.
What he saw almost took his breath a second time.
Pythagoras’ blue eyes gazed at him with utterly unguarded hope and lust and lo-
The realisation must have shown in his expression because Pythagoras closed his eyes and turned away and made a choked sound.
“Pythagoras,” Jason breathed.
Jason had no idea what he wanted to say.
“Please get off me.”
Pythagoras’ voice was so quiet Jason almost didn’t hear him.
“Pythagoras, I...” He still had no bloody idea what to say because it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
“Get. Off. Me.”
Pythagoras was refusing to look at him, but there was no mistaking the barely contained anger in his voice. Jason scrambled backwards, but their legs were still half tangled when Pythagoras surged upright and tried to get to his feet.
“Pythagoras. Wait. Please. I-”
“I’m sorry, I have to-”
Pythagoras all but ran from the room. Jason stared after him, unable to move from the spot. The outer door slammed, and suddenly Jason was very, very sober.
Jason closed his eyes and pulled his knees up to his chest and covered his face with his hands.
Well, that answered the question of who was the latest bastard to have broken Pythagoras’ heart.
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