|Serious about the Craft
Author: Bad Faery PM
Jason and Alexander reach a crossroads in their relationship. SlashRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Words: 5,090 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 12 - Published: 09-16-02 - Status: Complete - id: 970996
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jason jumped as Alexander's voice wafted out of the darkness. He'd thought the other man was already asleep, had tried to be quiet when he came in for fear of disturbing him. He glanced around the living room, finally seeing the vague outline of his lover sitting in one of the armchairs. "Alexander? What are you doing sitting here in the dark?"
"Waiting for you. Do you have any idea what time it is?"
Jason squinted at his watch. "Um... It's a little after one, I think. Shouldn't we go to bed? We've got an early call tomorrow."
"Oh yes. Commander Taggert and Lieutenant Madison are finally going to reveal their true feelings for each other. We wouldn't want to be late for that, now would we?"
Jason flinched at the cold edge in Alex's voice. "Alexander? What-"
He never got a chance to finish. "Tell me Jason, have you two been working hard? I never knew you as a method actor, is this the one place where you decided to make an exception?"
By this time the other man was on his feet in front of Jason. It was still too dark to make out his expression but he had the feeling that it would match the icy calm in his voice. "Is she as good a fuck as she was in the old days? I remember how much you two enjoyed each other."
Alex ignored his interjection. He continued on accusingly. "How long has it been going on Jason? I thought that kiss at the convention was just for the fans, was I wrong? You promised me that it was just for show, that you'd wanted it to be me. You said that if I promised to give us another shot, you'd never touch her again. It didn't last long did it? You never could decide which one of us you really wanted."
"Get out Jason. Go back to her bed. We're not doing this anymore."
"Alex, if you'd just listen-"
"To what? I've heard enough lies from you to last me a lifetime. Don't come back Jason. I don't want to see you outside the show again."
"Alexander..." Jason reached out, only to have his hand knocked away.
"Go away Jason. Just go away."
Gwen looked curiously at Jason when he walked onto the set the next morning. Even their skilled makeup artists hadn't fully banished the shadows from his eyes. It would never show up on tape but to a casual observer Jason looked like hell. "Jason, what on earth... Did you and Alex have another fight? Did he find out about-?"
He waved a hand dismissively. "Bad night. I don't want to talk about it, Gwen."
"You look like shit." She replied bluntly.
He winced. "Thank you ever so much. I needed to hear that."
Gwen's features softened as she took in Jason's haggard appearance. Impulsively she hugged him, holding on tightly and whispering in his ear, "If you need to talk..."
He sighed softly and nodded, his head bumping against her shoulder. Figuring that was the best she was going to get, Gwen kissed his hair lightly before releasing him. Jason walked away without another word, leaving her staring after him. She shook her head slightly before spotting Alex hovering by the command deck set. He was watching her intently and didn't respond to her wave of greeting. As she approached him to quiz him about the previous night's activities, he turned on heel and left the set. Gwen froze in place. "Shit. Here we go again..."
The day's shooting was a strained affair with none of the joking and roughhousing that was usually so prevalent on the set. Jason came alive only when the camera was rolling, the instant the director called 'Cut' he once again became a wordless automaton. Alex settled for staying as far away from the other actors as he could get, retreating to his chosen corner as often as possible. Fred and Gwen stared at the two uneasily, wondering at the cause of this latest down spiral in their always-stormy relationship. Even Guy snapped out of his fanboy-turned-actor glee enough to notice that something was wrong and managed to keep his mouth shut for once.
During setup for the final shot of the day, Jason approached Alex cautiously. "Alex? Can we talk about this please?"
"I don't think there's anything left to say." The other man shot back.
"No, but there is. If you'd just let me explain..."
"Explain what, Jason? That you'd been faithful to me for six whole months and couldn't take it anymore? That is pretty good for you, I'm surprised you lasted this long."
Jason sighed in exasperation. "Alex, for the last time, I wasn't-"
"You came in after midnight every night for over a week." At Jason's surprised look, Alex continued triumphantly. "You didn't think I noticed did you? You thought you were being so discrete. Well I'm sick of letting you make a fool of me. It's time for a change Jason. We've got a whole new series here. I think it's time I got a new life to go with it."
Alex waved an imperious hand. "Things can't go on like this Jason. I think two decades of misery is enough for any couple. I'll make your decision for you. Go back to Gwen."
Jason's face hardened. "Maybe you're right. Two decades is a damn long time. Have it your way Alex. Consider it over." He walked away without another word.
Alex stared after him for a moment. (He never did that before) Jason hadn't begged nearly as much as usual before giving up. And he'd never agreed with Alex's decision to call it off before. But the breakup was still fresh. He'd give Jason a while longer to suffer before agreeing to listen to his excuses. They'd be back together before the summer hiatus. And maybe if he held out long enough he'd scare Jason into giving up Gwen once and for all.
Alex spent the next six days pretending that Jason didn't exist until mercifully getting a day off. If he'd had to endure one more day of watching Jason and Gwen feign innocence he'd go out of his bloody mind. He wandered into the living room, carefully not looking at the armchair Jason had claimed as his own. (I don't miss him. He is a cheating, lying bastard and I do not miss him)
Was he with her now? If he closed his eyes he could see them together, could see Jason fumbling with the clasps of her uniform, caressing her breasts, leaning in to whisper in her ear. 'I love you Gwen, I always have. I'm sorry about Alex, it was a mistake, it didn't mean anything. Every time I was with him I wished it was you...'
With a moan of despair Alex scrubbed his fingers through his hair, trying to erase the vision from his mind. Maybe work wasn't so bad after all. At least when he was working he didn't have time to think...
Desperately he picked up the newspaper he'd dropped on the couch earlier. He flipped to the Arts sections, looking for something, anything to take his mind off his life. Most of it was pretty standard, details of an upcoming choral concert, a review of the latest Mamet production, an article about a showcase of acting students. (Might as well see what the competition's going to be)
He skimmed the article with vague interest until a sentence three-quarters of the way in caught his attention. "One of the evening's standout performances was Jason Nesmith, best known as Commander Taggert on the television program 'Galaxy Quest', in a scene from Harold Pinter's 'The Lover'. Nesmith proves that his acting range far eclipses his science fiction roles by showing a depth of emotion previously unsuspected. He perfectly captures the despair and desperation of a man whose marriage is falling apart around him while never overshadowing Pinter's artfully spare dialogue. One hopes that Nesmith chooses to take on more stage roles in the future."
Alex dropped the paper from shaking hands before bolting for the bathroom, convinced that he was going to vomit. (Oh God... He was- and I- Fuck. Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!)
Once the dry heaves subsided, coherent thought slowly returned. He brushed his teeth quickly and started the search for his car keys. He had to see Jason.
Alex wasn't quite sure what to do as he approached Jason's trailer. Should he knock? Or just go in? He had no idea what kind of welcome he'd receive either. Jason was certain to be upset, but he'd understand, wouldn't he? After all it *had* looked bad. He must realize that.
The door to Jason's trailer was open and if Alex craned his neck he could just see Jason sitting with his back to the door, apparently picking at his lunch. His hand hovered indecisively near the door frame for a moment before he opted to simply walk in, careful to make enough noise to announce his presence.
Jason didn't look up.
Alex moved to stand in front of his lover, studying him for a moment. The fine lines around his eyes were etched more deeply than they had been a week ago, a sure sign that he wasn't getting enough sleep. Otherwise he looked the same, the epitome of the dashingly handsome commander of the NSEA Protector. "Jason..."
Jason's eyes flickered to meet his briefly before once again focusing on his meal. "Alex."
All Alex's carefully rehearsed speeches flew from his mind at the dead tone of his lover's voice. He settled for the direct route, hoping to wake Jason out of his apathetic state. He dropped the paper in front of the other man, gesturing to the article that had shattered his perceptions. "That's where you were that night, wasn't it?"
Jason glanced at the paper and shrugged. "Yeah."
His suspicions confirmed, Alex closed his eyes in relief. "I don't- Why didn't you *tell* me?"
Still not looking up Jason answered him flatly, "I tried to, you weren't exactly in the mood to listen."
"Jason, I'm sorry." He wasn't sure what else to say. "I'm so sorry."
"Of course you are." Jason smiled bitterly. "Yesterday that might have been enough. But not now. Not when you have to read in the paper that you can trust me. If you hadn't seen that article you never would have believed me. Oh you would have taken me back eventually, but always played the martyr about it."
Alex tried to defend his actions. "But you must realize how it looked. I... I thought..."
"You thought I was screwing Gwen." Now Jason was staring at him curiously. "Why is that?"
A little surer of his footing, Alex tried again. "Jason the hours you were keeping, you were out late every night. What was I supposed to think?"
"You were supposed to think I was out late. Or you were supposed to ask me about it. Not just jump to the most damning conclusion you could find."
"And have to sit there and listen to you confirm it? I know how you and Gwen felt about each other. It didn't take much imagination to figure out what you were doing!"
Jason got to his feet, the apathetic facade a thing of the past. "That *wasn't* what I was doing! Dammit! Why are you so obsessed with the idea of me and Gwen? I slept with her once during the first season. It was just a fling and even if it wasn't, it was *months* before you and I got together! Am I going to have to pay for that one night stand for the rest of my life?"
"Gwen and I are friends." Jason cut him off. "I love her. I am *in love* with you. And I'm sick of always being the bad guy here. Yes, I made some mistakes with you. Yes, I'm arrogant and neglectful and I don't talk to you as much as I should. I'm not perfect. But you aren't either. It wasn't all my fault the first time this relationship fell apart and this time isn't all my fault either. Come back when you can take some responsibility for yourself."
Shocked at Jason's outburst, it took Alex a moment to find his voice. "If you would have just told me what you were doing-"
"You wanna know why I didn't, Alex? You really want to know?"
Jason sat back down and rubbed his temples with a tired sigh. "Because I didn't want you to see me fail. You're always making those little comments. You know the ones. I'm a hack, I'm an amateur, I'm not serious about the craft. I know I'm not a great actor Alex. That's your job. You've got the classical training, you've played Shakespeare. All I've ever had is the show. I thought that maybe if we were on more equal footing we might get along better. I wanted you to be able to respect the man you were sleeping with."
"Of course I res-"
"You *don't* Alex. You've always made it clear that I'm beneath you. That's why it kills you that I'm the star. Because you're the one with the talent, you're the one who deserves the spotlight and you don't get it."
Stunned, Alex shook his head slowly. "That's not it Jason. You don't understand, I... I-"
"Alex, stop." Jason looked at him steadily. "Just stop. This... We don't work. We get along for two months and then we fight and don't talk for two weeks. Then we do it all over again. We're destroying each other."
Quietly panicking, Alex asked, "What are you trying to say?"
Jason closed his eyes and confirmed his worst fears. "It's over Alexander. Really over. I can't do this anymore and I don't think you can either."
"I love you."
"I know you do. I love you too. But we're not right for each other. If we were, this wouldn't keep happening."
Alex tried again desperately, "Jason let's try again. Just one more time. We can make it work. It'll be different this time..."
Jason found the strength to smile. "Just like all the other 'just one more times'? I'll tell you the same thing you always told me. It won't be any different because we're still the same people. We both know it. Let's just let it go."
Alex dropped to his knees beside his lover. "Jason please-"
His words were halted as Jason placed a gentle hand over his mouth. "Don't Alex. You'll hate yourself for it." He replaced his hand with his lips for a tender farewell kiss. He stayed close for a moment, their breath mingling, before pulling away. "I have to get back to the set."
Alex remained motionless for a moment, before rising slowly. "All right." He nodded slightly. "I'll... um... see you later."
Jason didn't watch him leave.
Once again, Alex found himself wandering aimlessly through his home. This time there was no righteous anger to give him focus, only a vague emptiness that left him feeling more lost than ever before. His relationship with Jason had been the only constant in his life for over twenty years. Jobs came and went, his career floundered, but Jason was always there in the background.
Alex had assumed he always would be.
The emotions might not have always been good ones but they were always *there*. The love and rage that had burned in him had been the focal point of his existence for more than two decades. No matter what he was doing, nothing was more important to him than loving Jason, or hating him as the case might be. Their cycle of breaking and making up, which had started during the premiere season of "Galaxy Quest" had finally burned itself out.
(I didn't want it to be *over*. I just wanted to make him suffer a little. I would have taken him back. All he had to do was ask...)
But Jason didn't ask. Instead he'd taken the initiative for once and put an end to what he saw as an impossible situation.
(Oh and he suffered *so much*. I was the one left alone while he had Gwen and God knows who else...)
'I slept with her *once* during the first season!'
It wasn't possible. All those touches... All those lingering looks...
'It was just a fling...'
Could he really have been so wrong?
'Am I going to have to pay for that one night stand for the rest of my life?'
What if... What if Jason hadn't been lying all those years ago when he denied cheating on him with Gwen. Alex had been so sure. After all, she was beautiful and charming, exactly the right match for the charismatic Jason.
Everything that Alexander wasn't.
He hadn't believed Jason's protestations of innocence but he'd taken him back. Always believing that sooner or later he'd go back to her. After a while, Jason stopped denying the charges and wasn't that more proof? He couldn't even be bothered to lie anymore...
(Or maybe he just got sick of not being believed...)
The looks... The touches...
(Jason's a tactile person. He's like that with everybody. He was like that with you once, until you told him to stop in case someone figured out you were lovers...)
There was an easy way to find out. He could call Gwen, she'd prevaricate as long as she could but he'd wear her down in the end. She'd tell him what he wanted to know.
He managed to dial the first three digits of her telephone number when another snippet of Jason's diatribe flickered through his head.
'Not when you have to read in the paper that you can trust me... It won't be any different because we're still the same people...'
The receiver dropped from suddenly bloodless fingers as Jason's words finally hit home. He'd blamed Jason for everything, every problem, every obstacle. He'd considered himself the victim, the noble martyr, taking him back after countless wrongs. He'd never considered the effect his own actions had on Jason. The nearly constant accusations of unfaithfulness, the utter refusal to believe anything that didn't fit into the picture his mind had created. He'd been so certain that Jason really wanted Gwen that it hadn't occurred to him that Jason's explanations might actually be the truth. That the affairs could be no more than illusions produced by his own insecurities. That his... (Say it Alex) ...jealousy could have led to paranoia, seeing betrayal where none existed.
For the first time, Alex forced himself to cast off his long-suffering saint persona and take a good look at his own contributions to the relationship.
He didn't like what he saw.
He saw himself latching onto the flimsiest of evidence as proof positive that Jason was cheating on him. Turning a deaf ear to Jason's explanations. Explanations that, when viewed dispassionately, were perfectly plausible. Throwing Jason out of the house or leaving himself in a huff. Never agreeing to sit down and talk something out, preferring the dramatic scene to calm discussion.
It was as though blinders had been ripped off. No Jason's behavior wasn't perfect. He was too flirty with outsiders, too self-absorbed to notice the impact his actions had on his partner. He could be a total moron about other people's emotions. He was egocentric. He could be infuriatingly monosyllabic when the mood took him or annoyingly gregarious at the other extreme. He snored.
Alex was no prize himself.
He was snarky and acerbic. He bottled up everything until he couldn't contain it anymore and then exploded over something trivial. He hid his emotions behind layers of sarcasm and bitterness. He was prone to violent mood swings and pathological jealousy. He was scared to death of losing Jason.
So terrified that Jason would leave him that he always attacked first, seeing Jason's attempts at reparation as proof that he was loved. Holding Jason at arm's length in an attempt not to lose himself totally. The cracks about his acting ability just another way of pointing out faults, reminding himself not to fall any more deeply than he already had. It was a way of holding himself aloof so Jason's eventual departure from his life wouldn't destroy him.
(You know, for somebody who was determined to leave you, Jason spent a hell of a lot of time begging to be taken back)
The way Alex figured it, Jason had ended up begging for forgiveness an average of twice a year.
For twenty years.
Even Alex had to admit that that was quite a lot of effort for a relationship he was supposedly not committed to. In fact it looked downright... devoted. It appeared that he'd placed much more value on the relationship than Alex himself who, from his point of view, always seemed all too ready to throw it away.
'Come back when you can take some responsibility for yourself.'
For the first time in the history of their relationship, Alex was prepared to do just that.
Now the only problem was convincing Jason to listen to him.
Finding the right moment to approach Jason seemed to be an impossibility. In the midst of the chaos surrounding the filming of the first season's finale. Alex barely had a moment to himself. When he did, he found that Jason was always deep in discussion with the director or the producer or both at once. He looked infinitely more harried than Alex had ever seen him. For once, being the star didn't seem like such an enviable position.
Relations between them had improved on the set. Jason seemed to believe that their strained relationship was leading to poor morale among the rest of the troops. He went out of his way to be as pleasant and polite as humanly possible.
It was infuriating.
(It's like talking to a robot programmed for etiquette. All simple, bland good nature, no spark of life. If I didn't know better I'd think one of those personality-sucking aliens from the first show got him. Just came up, stuck its tongue in his ear and poof- no more Jason. Of course then Jason would be in the alien and be all slimy and that would be kind of disgusting if I ever wanted to have sex with him again...)
Briefly Alex reflected that his chosen profession led to some very odd flights of fancy. A vacation would be welcome in that respect. Unfortunately, if he didn't patch things up with Jason before that time, he'd have no excuse to see him again for months. Conventions were many things, what they weren't was conducive to private conversation.
Which meant he needed to fix this *now* or by the time he got a chance again Jason might have moved on. He skimmed the new script pages that Fred handed to him, more for a distraction than out of any real interest. One thing hadn't changed on the new show, the writers still weren't producing anything in the way of insightful, intelligent dialogue. Alex read a little further and froze.
Or maybe, he considered as a slow smile spread across his face, they were.
It was fast proving a month for marvels.
"Perfect." The director intoned from behind the monitor. "Now do it again."
Jason rolled his eyes in joking exasperation. "We've done it twelve times already. I think it's as good as it's going to get."
"Lucky thirteen Jason. Now quit whining and do it again."
Jason grinned and retook his mark, mentally preparing himself to do the scene again. He didn't really mind all the takes, despite his complaints. He wanted to give the fans the best show they could get, this was just another part of it. Plus he got to interact with Alexander one on one for awhile before the summer hiatus. He was going to miss this in the coming months.
Alex was taking the breakup better than Jason had anticipated. After his initial panic attack, he seemed to accept that it really was for the best. He still wasn't happy about it but he was dealing. Jason smiled sadly at the thought. He wasn't happy about it either but it was up to him to be the strong one when it came to this. Ending it was the right thing to do. For Alexander. For himself. And for everybody who had to come into contact with them. Driving each other crazy was one thing but he didn't want it to spill over onto the others.
New show. New life.
God he missed his old one.
But... It wasn't healthy, how they'd been before. People weren't supposed to fight that much. Jason wasn't sure but he thought that in love the good times were supposed to outnumber the bad ones.
'Two decades of misery is enough for any couple.'
He'd never really looked at it like that before. He'd never stepped back and looked at their whole relationship, choosing instead to concentrate on the present situation. The big picture was a scary one. He saw a history of bitterness, anger and frustration that didn't belong in any love affair. Oh sure, he knew that couples weren't supposed to love each other all the time but he didn't think they were supposed to hate each other quite as much as Alexander hated him.
If Alex had just tried to trust him a little, things would have been different. He'd tried to make it work, he really had, but it was wearing to always be on the defense. His fans thought the best of him, Alex thought the worse. Could anybody really blame him for finding the fans' adoration more and more attractive as time went on? Of course the more he'd humored them, the angrier Alex had gotten and...
Hell, his head hurt just thinking about it.
No, this was for the best. He just wished it didn't hurt quite so much.
"All right, here we go."
The director's voice pulled him out of his reverie. Jason took a deep breath and placed himself fully in the Taggert persona.
"According to all our laws, your actions should be punished by a court-martial."
Dr. Lazarus nodded slightly, accepting the condemnation. "I am aware of this."
Commander Taggart's steely persona broke as he pleaded with his friend. "Just give me a reason, anything, I can't help you if you won't let me."
Lazarus looked at him calmly. "I have my reasons Commander, but none that I am free to share with you."
Taggert sighed in resignation. "Then you leave me no choice."
"Commander, please." Lazarus held up a hand. "I ask you only for this. The most precious gift of all- trust. It is something you have never hesitated to bestow on me in the past, no matter how unworthy I was of it."
(Hey, that's not the line)
"Old friend you have never proven my faith in you was misplaced." Jason improvised, hoping to get the scene back on track. (Why isn't Dan calling 'cut'?)
"I am unworthy of your trust because I was never willing to return it."
(What the hell is he doing?)
"Old friend-" He tried again, only to be cut off.
"We have been so much more to each other than friends. I have given you my heart but held my soul in reserve. Now I would gift you with all that I am." Alex dropped gracefully to his knees. "I confess that I have been unworthy to be even your friend. I have rejected your kindness and thrown your generosity back into your face. I have been suspicious and insecure. I have attacked you for fear of losing you. I apologize for my past behavior and beg that you permit me to prove my faith in you. You have never hurt me Commander, instead I have hurt myself in your name."
(My God. Oh my God. I think he means it.)
Alex continued, "I cannot promise you perfection, but I can promise to try and put my faith in you, instead of in my own jealous suspicions. You know that you have my love. Now I wish to give you my trust."
Jason gaped for a moment before remembering that the camera was still rolling. He held a hand out to Alex, still kneeling before him. As he pulled the other man to his feet, he spoke, "I have never asked you for perfection, old friend. Your trust is the only thing I have ever wanted. With that gift we truly are invincible."
Alex leaned forward until only inches separated their lips. "You accept my gift, then?"
Jason grinned happily, "Oh I accept."
With those words Alex smiled, giving up the last pretense that it had been Dr. Lazarus speaking instead of Alexander Dane. He leaned forward, meeting Jason's lips in a kiss that went a long way towards banishing the shadows of their past. (No we're not perfect) he thought (But we're *us*)
For the moment, that was all that mattered.