Title: The Value of Horror Movies
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Pairings/Characters: All of MJN airdot…and bubbly, fluffy friendship! Mainly Martin and Douglas friendship-wise.
Spoilers: The usual. Spoilers for the film Blair Witch.
Summary: For this kinkmeme prompt: http: / cabinpres-fic . livejournal . com/728 . html? thread = 90584#t90584 . It turns out Douglas does have a fear after all. ...Of horror films.
Carolyn's really outdone herself this time, as Douglas is quick to point out when they arrive at the hotel and find out what she's done.
"A family room? Family room?"
"How glad I am that your hearing is up to scratch, Douglas," Carolyn says smoothly, taking the one room key. "Yes, we'll all be sharing a room, it's cheaper."
"Carolyn, you can't do that!" Martin is protesting, but Carolyn is already snorting derisively and leading the way to the lift. She is well aware that no one's going to quit if they can help it, no matter how many liberties she takes. Douglas and Martin swap an exasperated look, but follow grumpily. Arthur says into the silence of the lift, "Well, I for one think it's brilliant!" but no one answers him.
It's not as bad as it could be, actually. Arthur cheerfully volunteers to take the hard-as-a-brick sofa-bed and since sharing the double with Carolyn is unthinkable for all parties involved, she ends up with the single bed, and Martin and Douglas are left to squabble about who takes which side of the lumpy double bed. They eat their hastily bought dinners from the sandwich section of Tescos, all of them squashed up together on the double bed, then share a bottle of the hotel's cheapest wine and argue about what they're going to watch on TV. It's a bit like a very cheap holiday with your ridiculously dysfunctional family, Martin thinks, but he doesn't say it aloud. He's enjoying this; he always enjoys the domesticity they share with each other. It makes him feel a little less alone in the world.
Arthur beats Douglas in a game of rock-paper-scissors, shocking everyone, and thus promptly has the power of wielding the TV remote. He lies the wrong way on the bed and flicks through the channels, and Martin and Douglas shuffle backwards to the headboard to avoid his feet. Carolyn perches on the edge and drains the last of the wine slyly.
It turns out that the TV has every channel known to man on it, including one in Urdu, which boggles everyone, and Arthur is as indecisive about what he wants to watch as he is about everything else.
That is, until he finds a horror movies channel.
"Ooh, Blair Witch!" he says excitedly. "I've never seen it, does it have much to do with Downing Street?"
This earns Arthur a very careful look from the other three.
"Arthur," Martin says slowly. "Tell me you weren't going to suggest it was about Tony Blair…"
Arthur blinks. "Does it not then?"
"Arthur, it's a horror movie, what do you think?"
"Oh." Arthur pauses. "What is it about then?"
"I need another drink," Carolyn puts in.
"It's about a bunch of stupid teenagers getting lost in a forest, Arthur," Douglas says quickly. "It's boring, change the channel."
Martin shrugs. "It's all right, I mean, I thought it was a bit unnerving really, there's a lot of suspense - "
"Ooh, goodie!" Arthur says and settles back to watch the TV, where the beginning credits are just rolling.
"Seriously, Arthur, it's really dull, change the channel," Douglas says, but he is ignored, because the film has just started properly and Carolyn has turned off the lights.
It turns out that horror is just one more thing that fails to enter Arthur's almost impenetrable happy aura, because his reaction to most of the more creepy bits is to chuckle and dive back into his bag of crisps that he has by his side. Carolyn also seems utterly unmoved, a reaction probably helped by her second bottle of wine, and Martin is so bored that he feels himself just drifting off…when he realises that there is a distinct lack of jeering coming from Douglas's end.
Douglas has sneered his way through every film Martin has ever seen with him. He mocked the hell out of Love Actually (although he liked the bit with Rowan Atkinson), predicted and therefore consequently destroyed the ending of The Sixth Sense five minutes in, pointed out more discrepancies than Martin thought was possible in all the Die Hard films and judged Arnie in The Terminator as 'the most suicidal robot I've ever seen'. The only thing he hasn't made fun of is Snakes on a Plane and that's only because Martin was doing it for him ("No pilot - no one - in their right mind would ever not notice a bunch of snakes being put on their plane! Good God…!").
But now, he is suspiciously silent.
Martin glances over at Douglas, and maybe it is the light from the set or his eyes playing tricks on him, but Douglas is so pale that he looks positively wraith-like. He's staring at the screen with eyes so wide it's a wonder they're actually staying in his head at all, and any thoughts Martin might have had that he was ill are quickly erased when something screams in the film and Douglas's hands immediately fly to the duvet covers, twisting them around in his fists.
Douglas is scared.
It's an effort for Martin not to just let his jaw hang down. This is a double whammy of a shock - not only does Douglas have a weakness but it's a simple and in fact quite common one. If you'd asked Martin what he thought Douglas was afraid of, he'd have said something complicated, like drowning in an electrified tank surrounded by half a dozen bored sharks, or being held up at gunpoint in the Amazon rainforest. Something that was very unlikely to happen. And he would have said that only once you'd managed to convince him that Douglas had a fear of anything at all. But to be scared of horror films, that's…tame.
He's been thinking of Douglas in the terms of a super-human again. He really needs to stop doing that.
The woman on the screen opens a bundle of rags to reveal a mess of human blood and what looks to Martin like an ear. Arthur says loudly "Eurrch!" and Douglas jumps, his hand flying to Martin's arm and gripping on tightly.
Martin glances at Douglas, but Douglas doesn't even seem aware that he's done it, he's staring at the screen as if it's a venomous cobra about to descend on him. His nails bite into Martin's wrist.
Martin - for once in his life - takes pity on him.
"Arthur, change the channel," he says aloud. "The news is almost on."
"Aww, Skip…" Arthur complains, but Martin insists,
"Come on, it's really boring, plus I heard there might be strikes at Gatwick…"
It's a lie, but a lie that gets Carolyn's attention. "Arthur, go to the news," she orders.
Arthur grumbles but does as he's told, and soon the reassuring voice of the BBC is echoing through the room, replacing the screams and tones of horror. Douglas's hand on Martin's arm relaxes, but he doesn't let go. Martin, after a brief consideration, reaches over with his other hand and briefly squeezes Douglas's fingers.
Douglas looks at him, but Martin doesn't look back, and soon Douglas's acerbic comments are once more booming through the room, and everything is mercifully back to normal again.
When Arthur goes to sleep, Arthur really goes to sleep; as soon as his head hits the pillow, he's out like a light and he doesn't move until he's woken up.
He doesn't move but he does snore. Loudly.
Martin sighs and contemplates putting his pillow over his head. Or over Arthur's. Either way really…He turns over and notices that Douglas is also awake, lying flat on his back and staring up at the dark ceiling.
"I'm thinking perhaps a sock in his mouth," says Douglas gravely.
Martin considers this. "Don't want him to choke," he answers eventually. "Carolyn's sure to fire us if we kill her son."
Douglas exhales a loud breath, his chest rising and falling. "True."
There is a brief silence.
"You have too much of the covers," Martin says finally, pulling futilely at them.
Douglas snorts. "I'm bigger."
"I'm the Captain."
"And I'm the clever one who gets you out of all your problems, Captain."
Martin grins and relinquishes the covers. Arthur snuffles, turns briefly silent, then, just as they are hoping against hope, starts up again, louder than before. Both sigh.
"So," Martin says at last. "How long have you been scared of horror films?"
It's a big bed, so there's a lot of distance between them, but even so Martin can feel Douglas stiffen.
"It's fine, you know," he says.
"It's the suspense," Douglas snaps back. "I don't like knowing it's going to all go horribly wrong, all right?"
"All right," says Martin calmly.
There is another pause.
"Really?" says Douglas. "You're not going to laugh about how I'm a terrible coward, or point out my disgraceful unmanliness?"
Martin shrugs as well as he can whilst lying down. "Nope."
Another silence. "But I tease you mercilessly. About everything."
Martin considers this. "That's true, you do."
"But you're not going to tease me?"
"…Good Lord. Why?"
Martin sits up, plumps his pillow and folds it in half, sticking his head in it. Arthur's snores are nicely muffled. "Because," he says, "I'm nice, unlike you."
And he falls asleep.
Douglas stares at the ceiling for a very long time afterwards.
The next time Martin attempts to fly the plane without taking the brakes off first, Douglas says not a word.
Martin takes this for the gesture that it is.