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fic: A Man Of Disguises

Title: A Man Of Disguises
Fandom: Man In An Orange Shirt
Pairing: Michael Berryman/Thomas March
Rating: PG-13
Length: 450
Content notes: no warnings apply. Deals with some consequences of 1940s attitudes to homosexuality.
Author note: Thomas's point of view. Written for the Disguise challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks. Spoilers for Man In An Orange Shirt; thanks to [personal profile] owl_by_night for a very spirited critique upon the party, and to [profile] badlyknitted for a helpful conversation at [community profile] ffw_social.
Summary: Passing requires many disguises.

He's a man of disguises, Michael Berryman. See him disguised as a happy bridegroom, clasping hands with his bride while the registrar asks if anyone knows of any reason why these persons may not be joined together in marriage. Thomas says nothing, but the scream in his head is so loud it's a wonder the windows don't shatter. A happy bridegroom sobbing in the Gents before the wedding breakfast's over. Who kisses Thomas back so hard he nearly draws blood, clings to him as if he's drowning, then pushes him away when he tries to comfort him.

See him later, visiting Thomas in prison, disguised as a bank manager in his drab suit and ill-fitting bowler hat. It hurts to see what that woman's made of him, what he's made of himself. Just the one scar still from the cuts to his face, to remind Thomas of what he once was. The solemn schoolboy grown into a strapping soldier, his handsome captain, convalescing by his side in Italy, the air between them sweet with promise. The eager lover in his arms, in his bed, insatiable and joyous, fucking and being fucked, in Thomas’s studio and then at the cottage.

He can hardly believe it's the same man who sits across the table from him at visiting time, saying that he and Flora want Thomas to be the baby’s godfather when he gets out, it's rather a good way to stay in touch with people who matter. Being the fucking best man was bad enough. There’s no way Thomas is going to play godfather too, pretend to be just a friend of the family.

See Michael now, in a London department store, kitting his son out for boarding school, the well-dressed image of a respectable husband and father. The disguise is cracking: Thomas knows that look of furtive gratification. He's seen it on other men's faces, or his own, glimpsed in the mirror of a public lavatory. He wonders if Flora knows, or if she chooses not to; he suspects it's the latter. No more of that for him. Life in Cassis affords him different possibilities for pleasure.

He doesn't say, Come with me, or This is what you could have had. Still, the sight of Michael tugs at his heart. Somewhere in there, behind all the disguises, there's the man he loved. The man he painted at the cottage, happy and in love, wearing bright colours for the last time. A portrait keeps its secret, even if it is lost or hidden away for years. They may both be dead by the time his painting comes to light, but those who see it will know the truth about Michael Berryman.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/229740.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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