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fic: To beguile the time

Title: To beguile the time
Fandom: Slings & Arrows
Length: 900
Rating: PG
Content notes: no warnings apply
Author note: written for the Truth or Dare challenge at [community profile] fan_flashworks. Same 'verse as A Looker On; title from Macbeth, Act I Scene vii.
Summary: Cast parties are hell for a student director.

Cast parties are hell for a student director. Whatever power you’ve wielded disappears once the show is over, and you’re left at the mercy of a bunch of drunk actors with their grudges and petty spite. In the case of Darren Nichols’ second year production of Macbeth, this was even more obvious than usual, since the crew had taken themselves off somewhere, probably to play Dungeons and Dragons. The actors, with crashing predictability, got trashed on cheap wine and hard cider, and then First Witch (always the troublemaker) proposed a game of Truth or Dare. Darren’s scathing and entirely valid critique of drinking games in general and Truth or Dare in particular fell on deaf ears. Faced with a choice between joining in and leaving the party, knowing they’d tear him to pieces in his absence, he opted – unwisely as it turned out – to stay.

The game had probably lasted longer than the play by this point, and looked like stretching out to the crack of doom. If Darren had been in charge, the dares would have been less tediously unimaginative. Macduff had eaten five spoonfuls of mustard and was being sick in the bathroom. Banquo had taken a shower with his clothes on. Donalbain had pretended to be Timbits, which went on for a wearyingly long time until Lady Macduff finally guessed it. Duncan had depicted a human life through interpretive dance. Ross had failed to spell a word with his nose. Lady Macbeth had switched clothes with Young Siward for three rounds. The Truth questions were equally banal, though Fleance’s account of the most embarrassing thing his parents had caught him doing had a certain unexpected charm, as well as raising the levels of Schadenfreude in the room. Third Witch admitted to having a crush on Malcolm (barking up the wrong tree there, but Darren wasn’t going to tell her that). Second Witch, exercising her world class talent for the obvious, said that Mackers was the sexiest person in the cast (which caused Lady Macduff and Lady M to look daggers at her).

“Your turn, Geoffrey,” Lady Macduff said. “Truth or dare?”

“Truth,” Geoffrey said, with a sunny smile.

Bad idea, Darren thought, given the vindictive glint in Lois’s eye. Luckily she was going for Geoffrey and not him. She blamed them both for what happened with Maya, but it wasn’t Darren’s fault if Geoffrey had a penchant for sleeping with his leading ladies. It might have happened even if he had cast Lois instead of Maya as Lady M. Lois wasn’t good enough for Geoffrey anyway; she’d only have held him back. Maya was rumoured to be bisexual, so there was a chance she’d drop Geoffrey and go off with some woman or other. Not that that had any bearing on Darren’s casting decisions, which had of course been made purely on merit.

“Truth, then, Geoffrey, assuming you can remember what that looks like,” Lois said venomously. “Have you ever made out with a guy?”

Fuck. Darren’s mouth went dry. She couldn’t know about him and Geoffrey, could she? She wasn’t even in that Measure for Measure.

“Never,” Geoffrey said, with transparent sincerity.

The denial felt like a punch to the gut: Darren concentrated very hard on breathing normally and not throwing up. Was Geoffrey just flat-out lying? Had he buried what happened with Darren so deep that he didn’t even remember it? Did he not count it as making out? (The last of these options was too consoling for Darren to give it serious house room, though it was true they’d gone more or less straight from arguing to fighting to having terrible sex, pretty much bypassing the whole ‘making out’ thing.)

“Why does everyone keep asking about sex?” That was the Gentlewoman, of course, running true to form.

“Because those are the only interesting questions!” First Witch made an emphatic gesture with her plastic cup, splashing Old Man with hard cider.

“It’s Darren’s turn now,” Maya said, with all of the spine-chilling intensity she’d brought to Lady M. “Truth or dare?”


There were jeers at that, but not from Geoffrey, whose knee was pressed against Darren’s in the cramped circle. Darren felt him relax infinitesimally, and he knew. Geoffrey had lied. Geoffrey was relieved that Darren wasn’t going to tell.

“A dare for Darren,” Maya said, considering. “A worthy dare for our dear director.”

Shit. Possibly Darren had not thought this through. She was still angry with him for that thing where he made Lady M go on all fours like a cat, and that other thing with the balloons, though both of those choices were perfectly justified artistically.

“Kiss the person to your left,” Maya said, prompting a storm of whistles and catcalling.

That would be Geoffrey and hell no; not as a dare, not in front of the actors. Not after what Geoffrey said. Darren turned to his right and kissed Fleance, who at least (given his earlier revelations) was unlikely to punch him on the nose.

“You didn’t specify audience left or stage left,” Darren said, in response to the outraged cries of “Cheat!” He kissed Fleance again, and Fleance kissed him back.

And that, O Best Beloved, is how Lee Tillotson, cute as a button, camp as a row of tents, a remarkably undistinguished actor in whom Darren had no previous interest at all, became Darren Nichols’ first official boyfriend.

Also posted at https://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/241785.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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