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fic: A Looker On

Title: A Looker On
Fandom: Slings & Arrows
Characters: Darren Nichols, Geoffrey Tennant
Length: 800
Content notes: no warnings apply
Rating: PG-13
Author note: Written for the Witness challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks; this one is for [personal profile] mekare, with thanks for encouraging me to write it. Title from Measure for Measure, Act V.
Summary: That’s the thing about actors, though, isn’t it? They always want an audience.

It was Krisztyna Miller’s fault that Darren and Geoffrey ended up in bed together, their first term at university. If pushed, Darren might grudgingly acknowledge the influence of that lethal vodka and blackcurrant punch. (He would never admit that the punch and its effects had any bearing on his decision to cut the Porter scene in his second year production of Macbeth: obviously there is no point in staging a comic scene where all the jokes are so long dead that it would tax the resources of Victor Frankenstein to reanimate them.) But if Ty Miller hadn’t done what she did to Geoffrey, none of this would ever have happened.

Ty made a dead set at Geoffrey from the table read for Measure for Measure, even though her regular boyfriend, Stephen Fenwick, directing the show and playing the Duke, was sitting right there watching it all. That’s the thing about actors, though, isn’t it? They always want an audience. Darren was going to direct, first chance he got. He’d take Barnardine for now, because you have to start somewhere and he wasn’t going to be crew for this bunch. Geoffrey, though… Geoffrey should have had a bigger part than Claudio, if the major roles hadn’t been stitched up before open auditions. Stephen and his cronies were the power behind the student drama scene, the only thing that could explain Ty’s casting as Isabella. Geoffrey, poor fool, was clearly seduced by the glamour of sleeping with the leading lady, since Darren couldn’t think so ill of him as to assume that his taste naturally ran to anaemic pre-Raphaelite redheads. (On discovering that Ty was short for Krisztyna, Darren started singing “Kris Miller, no, she will not let you go – LET HIM GO” at every opportunity, until Geoffrey threatened to strangle him if he didn’t shut the fuck up.)

Geoffrey was good as Claudio. Too good. He outshone Stephen, and Joe Gillespie, who played Angelo, and – no surprise there – Ty herself. Which, Darren assumed, was why she dumped him at the Measure cast party by getting back together very publicly with Stephen. Doing it at Geoffrey, Darren thought. She knows she’s not good enough for the part, and she’s taking it out on him.

“Do you mind?” Darren asked him, as they watched Ty and Stephen clambering all over each other to Robert Palmer’s Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor).

“Mind?” Geoffrey said. “Why should I mind?”

Darren had heard more convincing performances of indifference, but forbore to say so. Obviously Geoffrey wasn’t heartbroken – it hadn’t been that sort of relationship, though Geoffrey had been obnoxiously cheerful about it. But it couldn’t be pleasant, watching Ty’s display and wondering how her enmity and probably Stephen’s as well would affect his chances of getting cast in major productions next term. The sooner someone else – Darren Nichols, for example – started running things around here, the better.

“This punch is foul,” Darren said, grimacing. He was on his third cup, or possibly his fourth.

“Nobody’s forcing you to drink it,” Geoffrey pointed out, a little unsteadily. He was drinking faster than Darren, so probably on at least his fifth.

Darren heaved a sigh. “Christ, this is a boring party. Let’s go back to the dorms.”

“OK,” Geoffrey said. “Fuck, even listening to your stupid ideas about Brecht would be better than this.”

“My ideas about Brecht are perfectly sound,” Darren said, stung. “Yours, however –”

“Come on,” Geoffrey said, “let’s get out of here.”

Darren wasn’t going to argue with that. They stumbled out of the smoke-filled room into the freezing November air and made their way back to the dorms, lurching against each other occasionally.

Back in Darren’s room, they flopped onto the lumpy overstuffed couch, wrangling about the ending of the play and the right way to direct it (Geoffrey was wrong about this, as he always was about Shakespeare, but of course refused to admit Darren’s superior judgement). From there it was only a matter of time until the Brecht argument broke out again, which led to scuffling and wrestling (not for the first time) and from there to Darren biting Geoffrey’s neck and Geoffrey shoving his hand down Darren’s pants (very much for the first time).

Darren’s recollection of events after that was indistinct, though there were flashes of memory that made him wince the next morning, on top of a truly appalling hangover. Judging by Geoffrey’s expression, he felt much the same. Darren had a black eye and a split lip; Geoffrey had minor abrasions that would have been embarrassing to explain if they’d been bad enough to need medical attention. In a conversation that quite possibly set a new world record for postcoital awkwardness, they swore never to speak of this again and never to attempt a repeat performance.

Also posted at https://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/241620.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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