Rating: PG-13 for language.

Pairing: Tony/Maxxie history implied.

Prompt: 003. Ends.

Disclaimer: I don't own Skins if you didn't know already.

Summary: At 21, Maxxie has finally left Bristol behind to pursue a budding career as a dancer in the West End when an unexpected face from the past shows up and threatens to stir things up again.

All the World's a Stage

Four weeks passed by before any of the old gang made the effort to come and see Maxxie in his stage debut. He was dancing as part of an ensemble piece in a new West End show. It ran March to June, ten weeks, and by the end of the second week he quickly lost hope of anyone showing up at all.

Chris though had come through and plonked himself down in the front row on the 30th night, whooping and cheering and making crude comments about the female dancers. Not unexpected of course. A belt would probably have covered more than the skirts they were wearing. All spandex, sequins and slutty moves, the heterosexual men of the world couldn't resist. That was what they were there for. The dancers were supposed to tease. Back to back, hips writhing provocatively, hands untameable.

The whole display always made Maxxie laugh and the girls enjoyed every second of it. Being someone else, even for a moment, it was an escape.

In the dressing room an entirely different story could be told. Emma and her 18-month-old son, her slick, black hair pulled back into a tight bun, dressed in pencil skirts and white shirts buttoned all the way to the top. His partner in crime and the nicest person you could ever ask to meet. She would sit on his dressing table before each show, legs swinging back and forth, her tortoiseshell framed glasses shoved on top of her head as she did his makeup for him.

Night after night he would sit there, watching his reflection in the mirror as she painted sweeping blue and white lines across his face, her touch so gentle. They would talk about her family, her upcoming wedding and moving house in the spring. She'd laugh and joke with him and tease him about his abysmal taste in men. 'Always picking the unattainable, aren't you, Max?'she would say. 'How many times do I need to tell you? That guy from Harry Potter does not want your phone number.'

During curtain calls she sat in his lap, feet up on the dressing table, reading the latest Mills and Boon novel. She would giggle, sigh and tear up at regular intervals and you could always tell when she stumbled across a sex scene, she'd go unusually quiet and her cheeks would flush slightly with pink.

The second time someone came to see him, one of the stage hands peered around the dressing room door during the interval and announced that he had a visitor. Emma perked up immediately, sitting up straight, her book hitting the dressing table with a loud thwack.

His visitor was the very last person he expected to see. Bold as brass, as tall as ever and holding a large bouquet of bright orange tiger lilies; Tony Stonem, the bane of his existence.

Emma didn't help matters when she slid out of his lap, reassuringly stroked his arm and leant down to whisper into his ear, 'I approve.' She flashed a smile in Tony's direction, pulled on the hem of her costume in an attempt to make herself decent and then headed off to talk to a few of the other girls.

He stared at Tony for a long moment, not bothering to move or even appear welcoming toward him.

'Well I was right with the flowers I see; you look like a right pansy,' said Tony, nodding over in his direction and cracking a smile.

Maxxie narrowed his eyes, muttering, 'You're a wanker.'

'You'd hate me if I were anything else.'

He hated that it were true.

With a sigh, he got up from his chair, perched on the edge of the dressing table instead and poured himself a glass of water from the jug beside him. 'What are you doing here, Tony?' he asked.

Tony's reply was quick and he laughed, laying the flowers down on the table by the door. 'Showing support, what the fuck does it look like I'm doing?!' he exclaimed.

Maxxie's eyebrows shot up and he downed the water in his hand, wishing for a moment it were vodka. They hadn't seen each other for almost two years. He'd left for London and that was supposed to have been it. Yet, here they were, straight back into the old routine and bickering like an old married couple as per usual. There had to be something he could say that didn't sound completely pathetic.

'I don't know why you're complaining, it's not as though anyone else has bothered to make the effort to come and see you,' tried Tony a moment later.

'Chris did.'

The argument had been quick and almost childlike in its delivery and he regretted it immediately because Tony's eyes lit up.

'Chris would.' He shrugged casually. 'Chris does whatever the fuck you tell him to do because he hasn't got anything else. He's hardly the piesta resistance in theatre goers, is he? Leering from the front row like some kind of rabid dog, eyes on stalks.'

'Think you're talking about someone else...'

And the conversation ended there.

Maxxie wanted to defend Chris, but found himself incapable, instead clenching his fist so tightly that his short nails cut into his palm.

An awkward pause followed and then Tony walked over and sat down in the chair he and Emma had vacated earlier. He placed his hands on his knees and looked up, holding Maxxie's gaze. 'I wanted to make up,' he explained in a soft voice that clearly belonged to someone else.

'You'll be lucky,' said Maxxie, standing his ground.

Tony shook his head, smirking as he replied, 'Not like that you tosser. Besides, I don't think Sophie would approve.'

Sophie, the new girlfriend, and the first time she had been mentioned by anyone properly. Up until now she'd purely been a few snippets of information, not a real human being. 'Tony's new girlfriend works in advertising,' Jal had told him in a phone call several weeks back (she had told him she couldn't come and see the show, too). 'She decorates cakes and comes from Croydon. She's older of course.' Maxxie had doubted that Sophie was anything special and wondered why Jal even wasted her time in telling him.

'One woman man now, Tone?' he asked dryly, knowing very well how jealous he sounded. Pouring himself another glass of water, he sat still and resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his own stupidity.

'Thought I'd try something new,' Tony laughed. He hadn't noticed. 'She's here tonight; you can meet her if you want. We could all go for a drink later, catch up maybe.'

'Think I'll pass.'

Silence again, uncomfortable and uncalled for really. It was eventually broken by the five minute call that came over the tannoy and then the excited chatter of his fellow dancers as they began to collect things together and make their way to the door.

Getting up from where he was sat, Maxxie gave Tony a hard look and then said, 'Let's face it, you're only sat here now because she suggested it. We're never going to be friends again after what happened; you know that, I know that, so why even bother trying.'

For a moment Tony looked as though he might reply, but then snapped his mouth shut and simply shrugged his shoulders. He knew he couldn't argue.

Turning away, Maxxie grabbed what he needed from the dressing table, laced his shoes back up and checked his makeup in the mirror.

Having finished changing into her outfit for the second half, Emma had been hovering around by the door waiting for a lull in their conversation. She looked embarrassed though, and clearly felt that she'd walked in on something she shouldn't have.

'Max?' she asked softly, taking advantage of the quiet. 'Are you ready to go?'

He ignored Tony sat there and joined her in the doorway, jamming a trilby hat onto his head, which she then proceeded to reposition for him with a smile.

Risking a glance at his old friend, Maxxie frowned and then, before leaving the room, supplied, 'It's over, Tony.'

And if that really had been true, it would have been fantastic.