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fic: Good Luck Ritual

Title: Good Luck Ritual
Fandom: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (TV), modern AU
Pairing: Grant/Strange
Length: 1815
Rating: NC-17
Content notes: consent issues (effects of alcohol, group dynamics)
Author notes: AU of an AU (Medsoc Musical): same version of the characters, but a different plot. thanks to [personal profile] owl_by_night for encouraging me to write this. written for the Amnesty challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks, completing an unbroken three-year streak of challenges for that comm. (the badge for this is called The Unimaginable, which makes me grin.)

This whole thing is William’s fault. Obviously. Arthur’s the one in charge, as befits the show’s director. But it was William who’d proposed the game, as a good luck ritual.

He didn’t need to say what for: the cast and crew of Road Show had tacitly agreed not to talk about the awards nomination. They’d already done better with reviews and box office than an all-male student production of an obscure Sondheim musical had any right to expect at the Edinburgh Fringe. No point tempting Fate.

“All right,” Arthur said. “Everyone takes it in turn to touch the Chosen One, any way they like, until the timer goes. No unsafe sex practices or permanent marks, and no making him come. If you do, you take his place and we start again. Understood?”

They weren’t too drunk to know what they were doing, but just far enough from sober to agree to it. Of course it was Grant who got picked when they spun the bottle. He’d almost rebelled and said he wouldn’t do it, but then Jonathan bloody Strange said “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” and Grant’s fate was sealed. No way was he going to give that patronizing tosser the satisfaction of seeing him back down from a challenge. Bad enough having to act opposite him eight shows a week.

Arthur, Walter, Stephen, John S, John C… Grant’s not sure how long the game has been going on. He can’t work it out by adding up the turns, because Arthur doesn’t say how long each round’s going to last. All he knows is that the timer keeps going off when he’s close but not quite there.

It’s late in the game and he’s getting pretty desperate, caught between not wanting to come in front of everyone and also really, really needing to come. He’s a wrecked sweating mess, his t-shirt’s sticking to him, jeans round his ankles, he’s so hard it hurts, and oh fucking hell, here comes Jonathan Strange.

Jonathan strokes Grant's damp hair back from his face, which isn't what Grant was expecting at all. He doesn’t touch Grant anywhere else, but leans in and says, very quietly, "Can I kiss you?"

Grant opens his mouth to snap You know the rules. But what comes out instead is "Yes."

Jonathan kisses him, very gently at first, one hand cupping his jaw and the other at the nape of his neck. He shivers at the press of Jonathan's mouth against his, Jonathan's tongue licking at his lips, a gentle push like a question, and Grant opens to him, lets him in. The kiss is light and soft, tentative at first, then more confident but still careful and slow, Jonathan’s tongue rubbing against Grant's, making him ache for more and yet at the same time what he wants is precisely this. His hands are in Jonathan's hair, fingers tangling in his dark curls, this, yes, he's wanted this, god, nothing else matters, it's as if the room has fallen away, there's nothing but the two of them kissing and kissing and kissing, so sweet that it's almost unbearable, but not unbearable the way the others' teasing was. Because Jonathan’s not teasing at all, he's giving Grant exactly what he wants, what he needs, how the hell does he know that? Grant feels held and safe and completely cherished, this is crazy, he doesn't even like the guy but here he is kissing Jonathan Strange as if he would never stop, he doesn't want to stop, he wants this to go on for ever, just this, exactly this.

He's still hard but it's not hurting any more, because the pleasure of the kiss draws everything to itself. His lips are so sensitized now that every touch, every press, every stroke of Jonathan's tongue makes him want to cry out, and he moans softly and tightens his grip on Jonathan's hair. Jonathan presses a little harder into the kiss, his thumb stroking Grant’s jaw. Nothing but this, and it is everything. The world slows down to the unhurried pace of the kiss, Grant's breathing not ragged any more but deep. He could almost fall asleep right here, kissing Jonathan Strange, being kissed by Jonathan Strange, and oh, the loss when Jonathan draws back for a moment. Grant whimpers in protest and kisses him, pushes his tongue into Jonathan's mouth. Jonathan groans and sucks his tongue, and his fingers tighten on Grant's neck, he caresses the curve of Grant's ear, and Grant's hips jerk, fucking the air –

"Stop," Arthur says, as the timer goes off.

"What the fuck was that supposed to be?" William grumbles.

"Shut up, William," Grant says. It's a reflex. He's astonished he can say anything.

And then Jonathan is gone, gone to the other side of the room, and Grant feels bereft, but William’s hand is already on his cock. Grant hisses as he begins to stroke, quick and rough –

"Slow down," Arthur says. "Unless you want to finish him."

It's William, of course he wants to finish him. Probably pissed off it hasn't been his turn in the spotlight instead of Grant's. But he does as he's told. A detached part of Grant's mind notes this and wonders about William and Arthur, even as his body responds to the slower caresses.

He's close now, he can feel it's going to happen whether he wants it to or not. And his body wants it, needs it, Christ. He's fucking up into William's fist, his thighs trembling with the strain of it, his balls tightening.

"Yes!" William says, like he's watching England win the Six Nations, "yes, come on, you fucking beauty -"

Jonathan is watching him from across the room. Staring at his face, not at William's hand on his cock. Grant can hardly see straight by now, but he can see that much, and it undoes him. He closes his eyes and thrusts harder into William's fist, imagining Jonathan's hand on him, Jonathan kissing him as he strokes. Jonathan. He presses his fist against his mouth so he doesn't say it out loud, and he comes and he comes until there's nothing left of him, wrung out and exhausted.

He slumps to the floor, legs folding under him. He’s vaguely aware of William making a noisy fuss about having to take his place. It sounds more like boasting than complaining.

Someone brings Grant a glass of water, and he drinks it, and they take the glass away again. He could just fall asleep here, but he staggers to the bathroom to get cleaned up. He’s still splashing cold water on his face when Jonathan comes in.

“Are you OK?”

“Yeah,” Grant says. “More or less. That was –” He doesn’t have words for it.

“Weird?” Jonathan suggests. “Rough?”

“Too much,” Grant says, and Jonathan winces. “You were right, I could have tapped out of it.”

Jonathan shrugs. “Hard to say no, though.”

“I’m sorry I called you a patronizing tosser,” says Grant.

“Did you?”

“Oops,” Grant says, realizing he didn’t actually say it out loud the first time.

Jonathan is momentarily taken aback, then falls about laughing. “I’ve been called worse.”

Grant grins sheepishly. He still feels shaky, as if his legs might give way again.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jonathan says, catching him under the arms. “Come on.”

He holds on to Grant and steers him back to his bedroom. It’s the first time Grant’s been grateful to have the room next to the bathroom. Almost makes up for being disturbed every time someone decides to go for a piss in the middle of the night.

There’s nowhere to sit but on the bed, so they do, a bit awkwardly. Jonathan puts his arm around Grant’s shoulders. It doesn’t feel like a pass. Grant’s not sure if he’d like it to be.

“Breathe,” Jonathan says. “Come on, do your warm-up exercises. Hands on your belly and shh-shh-shhhh.”

Grant laughs, but the breathing helps to steady him.

“Just as well it’s nearly the end of the run,” says Jonathan. “Only three more goes of Brotherly Love.”

“Shit.” Grant hadn’t thought of that. Playing Jonathan’s brother who’s more than half in love with him is going to be seriously fucking embarrassing after this.

“Yeah,” Jonathan says. “Sorry.”

“Oh, like this would be any less awkward if you’d wanked me off instead,” Grant says.

Jonathan raises an eyebrow. He’s right, Grant realizes: the cast game’s the kind of thing you could put down to “Christ, was I drunk last night”, in a way the kissing isn’t. But also he doesn’t want to put it down to that. Which is seriously weird. He would never in a million years have expected to end up kissing Jonathan Strange, never mind wanting to kiss him again, the way he does right now. It’s true he’s had the occasional (maybe not so occasional) fantasy of fucking Strange up against a wall or making him suck his cock, when Strange had been even more bloody annoying than usual. But it never felt like something that could really happen. Christ, they could actually have sex. He feels hot all over, just thinking about it.

He presses his face against Jonathan’s shoulder, and Jonathan hugs him tighter. There’s a long silence. Grant’s not sure what’s supposed to happen now.

“It seems a bit daft saying I’d like to see more of you,” Jonathan says, which makes him snort. “I mean, I’m seeing you eight shows a week plus downtime as it is.”

“Yes,” Grant says.

“But when the run is over, I’d – like to see more of you. If that’s something you’d like too.”

Grant doesn’t have to think about it. “It is. I mean, yes, I would. Yes.”

“Really?” Jonathan says, obviously not expecting that.

“Really,” Grant says, and grins.

Jonathan gives a whoop of delight.

“Have to be sensible till the show’s over though,” Grant says.

“Of course,” says Jonathan, clearly meaning it.

Ridiculous to feel disappointed by that, but Grant does. Jonathan kisses the top of his head, and he snuggles closer.

“Kiss me again?”

Jonathan laughs. “This is you being sensible, is it?”

“You started it!”

“Yes I did, didn’t I?” Jonathan says, characteristically smug.

He kisses Grant again, tender and sweet.

“God, I’m shattered,” Grant says. “I think I need to crash.”

“OK,” says Jonathan. “Let’s get you into bed.”

He helps Grant off with his t-shirt and jeans, and pulls the covers up over him.

“See you in the morning,” he says, and kisses him goodnight. “Sleep tight.”

Grant lies awake for a while, warm and surprisingly content, half listening to the distant sounds from the sitting-room. William is going to take the piss out of him unmercifully about Jonathan in the morning, or possibly demand An Explanation, but he’s too happy to care. Three more shows and then… He drifts off to sleep.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/226569.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2017 06:57 am (UTC)
This doesn't seem like the kind of setting where deep connections are made, what with everyone having a go at Grant, but I love that he and Jonathan did connect, through that amazing kiss. Jonathan was able to separate himself from what the others were doing, and that said so much about his feelings for Grant. Love how Jonathan takes care of him after, and that they have plans for after the show to be together.

Nicely done!
Jul. 6th, 2017 11:12 am (UTC)
thank you - very glad you enjoyed it! this is the repurposed version of That Fic I Am Not Writing, and it took a different turn once it became a Grant/Strange AU, because in my AUs Jonathan ALWAYS has feelings for Grant, however unpromising the circumstances... *grins*
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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