Fandom: SGA RPS
Rating: G, pre-slash
Spoilers: DHs other projects, 3x17 Sunday, casting decisions for next season
Notes: Written for the picfor1000 challenge. A story in exactly a thousand words? Harder than it looks.
Summary: The business is always like this, but David still has a hard time dealing. So does Joe.
“Jesus, Joe. You do this to yourself by choice?”
David’s voice is a deepening whine. Joe cocks an eyebrow and pauses at the top of the hill. He breathes steadily in the chilly air, and looks over short tussocky grass and the dark green of conifers into the valley below.
“Hey, it’s your choice too,” he says, “You go running with Jane, don’t you?”
“Yes, but that’s different. It might have escaped your attention, but Jane is a girl. A wonderful, marvellous, patient girl, who puts up with my moaning, and – not incidentally – goes easy on me.”
Joe grins and lifts his heel onto the grass at the side of the trail. If they’re going to wait long enough for David to get his breath back then he needs to keep stretching. He’s not as young as he was. But then, are any of them?
“Hey, talk to me,” says David, his hand a sudden warmth on Joe’s elbow. “I thought that was what this was all about. Getting me out in the fresh air, getting me to open up.”
“Yeah,” says Joe, cautiously, “It was Torri’s idea.”
“Great, marvellous, fantastic – do I look like the kind of person who won’t talk about his feelings until he’s however many miles away from civilization? In fact, do I look like the kind of man who can’t talk about his feelings at all. I do, all the time! I emote! I express!”
David waves his arms for emphasis, and Joe thinks, just like McKay – and he’s about to say so, teasing, when David bounces on his toes, which completely ruins the effect. Joe shuts his mouth. He knew this was a bad idea, but at least it keeps Torri off his back.
“She’s trying to be supportive. While she still can.”
It’s too abrupt, but Joe’s finding this harder than he thought. He imagined they could just run, and they’d be too tired for talking. It would be a comfortable kind of manly closeness. And then he could tell Torri that David was fine, and then they can just get on with things.
“Look, I don’t know why you think I need supporting anyway. It’s Paul that’s leaving. Not me! McKay is just fine. Just dandy. I get postcards, dammit! Hundreds of them. McKay won’t be going anywhere.”
David’s face is getting red. He won’t look Joe in the eye. Joe feels that tug he gets when David lets him see something – anything – of his real self. He’s all sarcastic angles, and professional enthusiasm most of the time. Joe hates the ache he gets in his chest when David’s like this, hates it and loves it too – because this is Paul’s job, normally. Talking him down. Cheering him up. Joe’s not sure if he’s up to it, but he wants to be. He wants to be everything Paul is, wants it badly enough that he’s teased David into coming for this run, for formless, unknowable reasons. He’s blaming Torri, but that’s just for show.
He puts an uncertain hand on David’s shoulder and David stills. Joe can feel the heat radiating from David’s skin. He wants to fold him up and pull him close. They’re both actors – touchy-feely by profession and inclination, all air-kisses and breezy charm – but David and Joe have never been this way. He could be hefted into the air by Jason, or throw Rachel squealing into an armchair. But this… He and David don’t touch. It’s just the way of it. McKay and Sheppard do – head-smacks and tugs on the tac vest. A poke or two for reassurance. But right now, Joe doesn’t know what to do. David and Joe don’t have that. He wishes they did. He wonders what Paul would try.
“Hey, we should keep going. You’ll stiffen up,” says Joe.
He’s no good at this. Torri would kick his ass. The writer’s pick up on all sorts of things and it’s not just Sheppard who has a hard time… dealing. Joe already has a best friend on set. Jason drags him into all sorts of trouble, takes him skate-boarding and roller-blading. Joe, in turn, wants to take Jason surfing, skiing, even jet-boating – all the things his contract forbids him to indulge. Joe and Jason are buddies. He’s being greedy.
Paul would know what to say.
David’s pulse is slowing, under his palm. Joe shivers in the breeze that’s cooling his body, and watches David’s ridiculously long lashes blink at him.
“It’s so stupid,” says David, “Paul will be fine. The business is always like this.”
Joe nods, his throat closed.
“I’m going to miss him,” says David, frowning.
It could be any one of us, Joe wants to say, except he knows that’s not true. They always go for the most expendable. Stargate isn’t the kind of franchise that kills off its stars. Not its stars.
David huffs, a small sigh, like an exhalation, but he doesn’t seem to be impatient. He doesn’t seem to be pissed at Joe. At his utter inability to be Paul, to be what David needs. Instead David puts a hand on Joe’s shoulder, mirroring his own, and then David reels him in, pulling him into the hug, and Joe goes, his arms wrapping themselves around David’s middle, naturally, just like he’s always imagined. And it’s peaceful, and quiet, and David is blinding heat and solid comfort, all down Joe’s side.
Maybe Joe doesn’t need to be Paul. Maybe he and David can have their own thing, whatever that turns out to be. Maybe it’s been obvious all along, and Torri really does need to kick his ass.
It’s astonishingly intimate when David begins to speak, his voice buzzing into Joe’s ear, along his skin, and it makes him smile. It makes him grin at the sheer determination of the man.
“Star-crossed!” says David, “It’s the spin-off from ADB – I could pitch it for Paul. He’s perfect for it, hell, he’s already in it, and there’s always the potential to…”