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
He looked round from the window in surprise. Pythagoras looked like he wanted to be just about anywhere but here in this room with him, but he was here, and there was a determination in his expression that Jason had not expected.
Jason offered him a smile. He hoped it looked reassuring, and not slightly terrified.
“I’m sorry,” Pythagoras said, looking him right in the eye.
Jason tried to interrupt but Pythagoras shook his head.
“No, Jason. Please. Let me say this. I shouldn’t have run off like that, and I shouldn’t have spent the last day avoiding you. It was stupid and it was cowardly, and it wasn’t fair to you.”
“I’m pretty sure I know why you reacted that way,” Jason said. He couldn’t let Pythagoras carry on apologising like that.
“That... that is what I suspected. Jason, I think you have probably realised how I feel about you.” Pythagoras paused, but not for long enough to allow Jason to speak. “I did not intend for you find out like that. To be perfectly honest, I never intended for you find out at all. I did not want to make you feel uncomfortable, or... well, I wanted to avoid precisely this.”
Right then he looked about as miserable as Jason had ever seen him.
“I want you to know I don’t expect anything from you. I hope... I hope this will not affect our friendship.”
Pythagoras stared at him, momentarily startled out of his monologue.
“Can I get a word in now?” Jason asked, trying to keep his tone light, even though his heart was pounding in his chest like he had just run a marathon.
Pythagoras looked like he was bracing himself for the worst.
Jason moved towards him, but stopped a few steps away.
“You do realise that you are making one great big massive assumption, don’t you?”
“That I don’t want the same thing.”
Pythagoras frowned in confusion.
Jason suspected Pythagoras had been playing and replaying all possible scenarios and permutations of how this conversation might go for the last day, because that was precisely what Jason had been doing himself. Apparently Pythagoras had not rehearsed this part of it.
Jason moved closer. Braced himself. His heart was racing and his stomach was twisting itself into knots. Forget the bloody Minotaur, or Circe or Heptarian. This was the bravest thing he had ever done.
“I’m sorry too,” Jason said, never breaking eye contact. “I’m sorry I made such a bloody mess of our first kiss. I was drunk and if I’d had any clue at all I wouldn’t have done it like that. So, if it’s all right with you, can we try it again? And I promise this time I’m not drunk, and I’m not experimenting, and I’m not joking.”
Pythagoras’ throat worked a couple of times but no words came out.
“Please say something,” Jason whispered.
Instead of speaking, Pythagoras closed the distance between them and reached up and slid his hand around the back of Jason’s head. He was breathing hard and his blue eyes were wide and his breath hitched when Jason stroked his hand along Pythagoras’ jaw.
Jason tilted his head and their lips met for the second time. The first time had been hard and desperate and greedy, but this... this kiss was slow and gentle, tentative, as if it would break under the slightest pressure.
Pythagoras pulled back and Jason barely stopped himself just following and kissing him again. They looked at each other, and Jason saw the questions there in his blue eyes. Questions and fear and... hope.
Jason understood exactly how he felt.
“Yes. Really.” Jason tried to offer him a reassuring smile.
Apparently satisfied, Pythagoras put both arms around Jason and pulled him closer and then they were kissing again. This time it was neither slow nor tentative. This time Pythagoras opened his mouth and Jason needed very little encouragement to respond. This time they did not hold back and it was frighteningly easy for Jason to lose himself in the perfect terrifying heat and want and need.
Somewhere in the part of his brain still capable of thought, Jason wondered why the hell he had ever thought this might not be a good idea.
When they finally parted for air, Pythagoras rested his forehead against Jason’s. Jason left his hand around the back of Pythagoras’ neck, his thumb stroking gently. His other hand had found its way around the man’s waist at some point and Jason didn’t even remember doing it. All he did know was that he had no intention of letting Pythagoras get too far away now.
“How long?” Pythagoras breathed.
“How long have you wanted...?”
Jason bit back a laugh. “A while. I don’t know. It sort of sneaked up on me. You?”
Pythagoras’ lips curled up into that lopsided smile. “You do not want to know how long.”
Did that mean...?
“Really?” Jason hesitated, and then went ahead and asked. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
“I think you know why. And I didn’t want to risk losing your friendship. I still don’t, no matter how this goes.”
“Well that’s good, because neither do I.”
Pythagoras’ smile grew bigger, more confident, and Jason couldn’t help it; he tugged him into another kiss. Brief, but full of promise. Jason thought he could get very used to this.
“Before we get much further, I should probably remind you about what I said last night, that I don’t have a great track record with relationships,” Jason said. He had no idea why he said it, and regretted it the second the words were out.
“If this is where you tell me that it is not too late to stop this, I think we are long past that point, Jason.”
Jason breathed deeply and nodded. In amongst the exhilaration he knew he was bloody scared. Not just of the fact that he had never done anything like this with a man before, although that by itself was undoubtedly part of the reason why he had taken so long to accept it, but more because this wasn’t just any man, this was Pythagoras. Jason had meant what he said to Hercules; he really, really did not want to hurt Pythagoras.
No one had ever looked at him the way Pythagoras did. No one had ever shown him such immediate and unconditional trust. Jason had spent most of his life holding back with people, not daring to show them how he really felt because that only made it so much easier for them to hurt him. Now, for the first time in his adult life, Jason knew how it felt to trust someone completely. It was terrifying. And incredible.
He looked up. Pythagoras was watching him intently, and Jason recognised worry when he saw it. Pythagoras and worry went hand in hand so much of the time.
“Jason... if you want to stop this-”
“No. No, of course I don’t.”
“Then what is it?”
“I want to tell you the truth about who I really am.”
Pythagoras made a quiet sound of shock, and his mouth fell open. Jason’s heart was racing again. He had honestly not known those words were going to come out before he heard himself speaking. But it was true. Right at that moment Jason wanted nothing more than to tell Pythagoras everything. Pythagoras deserved the truth.
“Jason, you don’t have to. I have never-”
“I know. You have no idea how much I appreciate the way you haven’t pushed about any of this for so long. I know I don’t have to tell you. But I want to. Pythagoras, I am tired of hiding the truth from you. I am tired of pretending and disguising things whenever I try to explain anything from my past. I don’t want to lie to you any more.”
Pythagoras’ breath caught. He watched Jason for what seemed like an eternity.
“Go ahead,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper.
“I’m from the future. Another world. I came through some sort of magic gateway between our two worlds, and the day that I met you was the first day I arrived here. But it gets weirder. The Oracle told me that I was born here in Atlantis, but my father took me to the other world when I was a baby, to protect me. That’s why I don’t understand so many things here that you take for granted. That’s why I sometimes forget and talk about things that you do not understand, things that exist in the world where I grew up but not in Atlantis.”
He paused for breath. Pythagoras’ hands were still wrapped around the back of his head, and Jason felt his hold tighten a fraction.
“The future?” Pythagoras prompted. “Is that how you seem to sometimes know things about Atlantis, or about... about me?”
“Where I grew up there are legends of Atlantis, the great city that angered the gods and was destroyed and sunk beneath the ocean because of it.”
Pythagoras’ eyes widened.
“The Oracle told me that it was my destiny to save Atlantis, to stop that from happening, but I don’t know how.”
“But if you come from the future where it has happened, then how can it be prevented? If it has happened then surely it cannot be changed?”
“I don’t know.” Jason heard the desperation creeping into his voice. “I don’t know if the world I came from is really the future, or if it’s a parallel world where things are similar but different. I don’t know!”
Pythagoras surged forward and kissed him again. It was the briefest touch of lips but Jason closed his eyes and leaned into it, and let Pythagoras hold him.
“Shhh. It’s all right, Jason.”
He wanted to believe that. He wanted to believe that so very much. But now that he was talking about it Jason could feel the confusion and panic creeping up on him that he normally kept locked away. It was all very well the Oracle going on about his destiny and telling him he was special. Actually telling him what the fuck he was supposed to do would have been more useful.
“There are so many things that I don’t know, or that I can’t explain. I don’t know what to do, Pythagoras. And why the hell are you being so calm about all of this?”
Pythagoras smiled at him.
“Because right now one of us has to be.”
Jason found himself smiling, and then he laughed. It was brittle, but it was genuine.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re brilliant?”
“Yes, actually. But it’s nice to hear sometimes.”
Pythagoras continued to hold his gaze, solid and reassuring and comforting. It was hard to believe that only a few minutes ago, Pythagoras had been the one who was nervous.
Jason felt the other man’s fingers playing absently with his hair. It was strangely grounding in amongst all this talk of destiny and destruction.
“Aren’t you...? I don’t know. Angry? Or scared?”
Pythagoras gave him that soft smile again.
“After nearly a decade of living with Hercules, I have almost infinite patience.”
Not for the first time, Jason felt a rush of gratitude that of all the houses in Atlantis, he had crash landed into this one, and into the arms of this man. Maybe that had been destiny as well.
“In the world where I grew up we don’t believe in fate or destiny. We don’t believe that the gods control our lives. We believe that we make our own decisions. But here, I don’t know.”
“No man can know his fate, Jason. All we can do is try to live our lives as best we can. If you have been chosen by the gods for something important then you cannot change that. But you can make your own choice how to deal with it. And you don’t have to do it alone. Whatever your destiny, Jason, I will be by your side.”
It took Jason a moment to find his voice after that.
“I’m not sure what I did to deserve you.”
Pythagoras gave him a small smile.
“I have thought the same thing almost every day since you arrived in my life.”
Jason felt himself flushing with heat, and couldn’t meet Pythagoras’ gaze any more. Pythagoras cleared his throat and when Jason looked up again he realised the other man was just as flushed as he was.
“Before we got distracted by talk of destiny, you intended to talk about your past, and the world you came from. I get the feeling there is a lot more that you want to tell me.”
Jason nodded. This was safer. He could talk about cars and planes and computers and running water and modern medicine. It was easier than talking about the other stuff.
“Lots more. It might take a while, though.”
“Then I suggest that we get a drink and sit down before we go any further. You can tell me everything that you want to share, and then we can work out how in the name of the gods to explain it all to Hercules.”
Oh, hell. That was a conversation Jason really didn’t want to think about.
“I don’t know how much of it will make sense.”
“Then it’s a good thing that we have a lot of time.”
Pythagoras let go but before he could move Jason tugged him back. He hesitated, suddenly unsure. After only a moment Pythagoras seemed to understand. Pythagoras’ arms slipped around his waist and he kissed Jason again, soft and reassuring and undemanding.
Jason decided he could get very, very used to this.
When they parted Pythagoras sighed and his breath ticked Jason’s cheek.
“That is wonderful, and I am absolutely not complaining. But it is also incredibly distracting,” Pythagoras said.
“I know.” Jason suspected he sounded quite smug, but really, who could blame him right then?
Pythagoras poked him with a finger. “You are the one who decided you wanted to tell me everything about your past. I’m not objecting to more kissing, far from it, but that’s really not fair.” He paused and smirked slightly. “Besides, I still want to know what int er net really is.”
Jason groaned. “How do you even still remember that?”
“Because your explanation was one of the worst excuses for a cover story that I have ever heard.”
Jason felt himself flushing with embarrassment, and buried his face in Pythagoras’ shoulder.
“It was really that bad?”
“It was terrible. But you can make it up to me with a proper explanation now.”
Jason looked up at him with his best approximation of puppy eyes.
“I could also make it up to you with more kissing?”
Pythagoras rolled his eyes and laughed.
“I expect that can be arranged as well.”
Jason grinned and stole one last kiss before Pythagoras went to fetch drinks. Much as he didn’t want to let go of Pythagoras now he had him, they were going to need wine. Jason got the feeling it was going to be a very long night.
A very long distracting night.