The Reversed Passion of Matthew Bellamy
An almost inaudible cough in the distance. The first catchy notes of the melody. His colleagues surrounding him and chanting anxiously. Four long strides amongst them. There it comes. A sharp and decisive intake of breath. His moment.
“Why should you want to know? Don’t you mind about the future?”
The voice coming from the speakers slowly woke Dominic up. Stifling his yawn the best he could, he observed the panorama outside the plane; the lights and buildings of the ever busy New York city were already in view, so he had definitely awoken at the best moment. After making sure his safety belt was buckled, he picked up his forgotten magazine to read a bit before landing. He knew he should have used his time in the flight to catch up with emails, but it was too late for that now. Better to relax a bit before the hectic Christmas ahead and, after all, he had worked enough during the wasted hours spent in Chicago’s airport waiting for his delayed plane. Snow in New York was a bitch.
In spite of his careless previous attitude regarding work, he had intended to hurry off the plane but couldn’t; the people in the corridor retrieving their bags forced him to slow down. Therefore, he opted for switching his iPhone back on to see if he had received any messages.
The first notification came when he was waving at the attractive brunette air hostess. Before he had reached the start of the gangway his phone started vibrating and pinging non-stop. What could possibly have happened in the span of less than two hours to produce such an avalanche of emails, texts and missed calls?
Christopher Wolstenholme. Tom Kirk. Glen Rowe. Matt.
Without a hint of doubt, he overlooked everyone else messages, clicking on Matt’s name and reading the first text he had received; mere minutes after his plane had taken off.
Ian was in a car accident. Broke his leg, fuck.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he muttered under his breath, speeding up his steps even more without realizing it. More messages.
He can’t do it, oh fuck. Need me or Greg BLOODY FUCK.
Dom fuck where are you.
Then was when Matt must have realized that Dom was on a plane and then had resorted to email, probably hoping that Dom had access to WiFi on board. Oops. He opened his inbox.
OMG Dom just fucking read your emails or I’ll crush your bones. Reply to me ASAP. Chris, Kirk and Rowe are arguing, they don’t know who should get it.
FUCK Chris isn’t sure who he wants. Kirk suggested a face-off.
DOM READ YOUR BLOODY EMAILS FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Greg is still recovering from that laryngitis he can’t hit high notes. AM DESPERATE NERVOUS
fucking fuck fuck fck FUCK FCCCK AM JESUS
Dom stopped in his tracks and barely blinked an eye when someone bumped into him. He was petrified, staring at that single email, his heart beating madly. Am Jesus. I am Jesus. Matt was going to be Jesus.
Yeah, no wonder why everyone had been desperately trying to get in touch with him.
Allowing himself just a few more seconds before all hell broke loose, Dominic rubbed his eyes to push away all remaining hints of sleepiness and finally hit the call button to ring Matt.
A new star was going to shine on Christmas.
“But where is he? I got here as soon as I could get a cab…”
“Who knows? After we all tried to call you to discuss the contract several times. He ran off somewhere with Carrie Williams.” Tom Kirk, the director and a man known for managing to bring the best out of any actor, was clearly not amused with Matt’s exploits.
Dominic huffed, annoyed at the behavior of his friend and client. Really, how could he be so careless sometimes? This was big, he should be rehearsing his ass off. Instead, he was who knew where with Carrie, the singer who played Mary Magdalene. She was a big name in the industry and had soon got on with Matt; the two of them were nearly inseparable.
“Bellamy better show up at once, we need to start practicing with him…” remarked Chris Wolstenholme, the musical director;
who was he was usually a very chill person, but his voice showed a hint of apprehension. The fact that he was an old friend of Matt was possibly a factor; after all, there was too much at stake, and Matt couldn’t afford risking his budding reputation with a mediocre performance.
Fortunately, the door of the office opened at that very instant. Matt stood there with ruffled hair and rosy cheeks. As soon as he perceived the atmosphere in the room, his face fell, accordingly expressing some remorse at his prima donna antics.
“Sorry for fleeing… I needed a moment to think and as Dom wasn’t here yet…”
“Well, now here he is,” Rowe stated, shooting a warning glance to Tom Kirk before he initiated any confrontation. Time was running out and there wasn’t space for inane quarrels. “Mr. Howard has already inspected the new terms of your contract and approved everything. Take a look at it and sign it, so we can get this out of the way and you can go with Chris and Tom to rehearse.”
Matt nodded at the producer, taking the sheets of paper and scanning through the contents. Dom discreetly smiled when, only a few seconds later, Matt blindly reached for a pen and signed. He must have noticed his agent’s eyes on him, because he turned his head and slightly chuckled, assuring him wordlessly that he trusted Dom to have modified the contract to his liking.
After all, his new contract would only last until the Christmas show.
“Alright then!” Chris clapped once, quickly setting everybody in motion. “Matthew, come with me. We’ll run through the tracks to see whether we have to arrange anything to make it more comfortable for you. And I think Karen will need to be around as well; she mentioned to me she wanted to measure you again to be sure whether you fit into Ian’s costume.”
As Matthew was swept off with the two directors, both eager to commence the urgent rehearsals, he shot Dom a glance of pure and unmasked terror, before Tom closed the door.
“Good luck!” He shouted, hoping Matt would nonetheless hear it.
“Yes… Luck is what we’ll need.”
Dominic was diplomatic and professional enough to hide his discomfort for the preoccupation behind Rowe’s offhand comment.
With his best convincing grin he retorted, “Matt was born for this role, you’ll see.”
The corners of Glen’s mouth turned up a bit, but his face still appeared troubled, despite the obvious appreciation of Dom’s conviction.
“He’s got it in him, that’s undeniable. We wouldn’t have casted him as Ian Coleman’s second understudy if he wasn’t good. But Mr. Howard, Ian has been playing this role for eight months, how many times has Matt substituted him in that time?”
Dom stayed silent, tenaciously holding his gaze. He knew the answer all too well.
“Twice,” Glen replied to himself, “and only during Greg Jones’ tenure of the role in August, when Ian was on holidays.”
“Matthew is a professional and has been practicing on his own. He knows all the songs –“ Dom started to defend him, firmly believing in his capacities.
“Mr. Howard,” Glen extended his hands, conciliatory, “I know that your client is a rising star, with incredible vocal talents and top notch professionalism. I also know he had started to make a name for himself in the West End before coming here, and that his performances in August were very good. But -” inevitably, his voice became cold and Dom could see reflected on his expression just how much was at stake, “this will be the most important show of this production of Jesus Christ Superstar so far, as well as the most advertised one, and we’ve already disappointed those who wanted to see Coleman, substituting him instead for the fittest replacement there was available, but still, only a copy. Both Matt and you have to remember that if he has got the role it’s only because, right now, his voice is in better shape than Jones’… As the first understudy, he’d have been the natural choice, not Matt.”
“Well -” Dominic’s tone reflected only the tiniest bit of his inner anger at the producer’s stern, albeit true, words. “Matthew Bellamy might be only a Jesus understudy, but he’s still an excellent performer with years of experience that will make everyone forget Coleman, even if only for one night. And now Mr. Rowe,“ he curtly nodded in Glen’s direction, “if you don’t mind, I must go to the stage to see my client’s rehearsal.”
When Dominic was already outside his office, Glen sighed, dialing his assistant to check if she had already prepared the press statement about Coleman’s accident and Matthew Bellamy taking on the role.
“Let’s hope for some Christmas miracle…” He murmured while the line rang.
“You did brilliantly yesterday.”
“Dominic, I don’t pay you to lie to me.”
The blond rolled his eyes in annoyance, staring at the traffic jam that was blocking the avenue. Matt was a great singer and artist, and certainly a professional as he had promised Glen, but he was also the biggest perfectionist he had ever known. One note out of tune, one verbal slip, and he’d be obfuscated for the rest of the evening. Of course, his self-exigency had only increased the faster the Christmas show approached.
“I’m not lying to you, you tit! I was there the whole rehearsal, you were really good! I loved the confrontation with Judas during The Last Supper, it gave me chills.”
He glanced at Matt during a red light. His eyes were firmly on the road and – oh god no – he was pouting. Trademark Matthew Bellamy ‘I Don’t Like This’ Pout. He had known him long enough to sense the doubts that were populating his head.
“Matt, it’ll be a success,” he assured him calmly.
Matt, in reply, scowled. “And if it’s a failure I will be forever remembered as the Jesus who ruined the biggest Broadway Christmas charity show.”
“You all have spoiled it already, mate. You’re killing the man on his birthday.”
And there it was. Through the corner of his eye, he could see how Matt grinned thanks to his (frankly terrible) joke.
“Yeah, I know we aren’t doing the most Christmassy musical ever. An adaptation of A Christmas Carol or some other traditional good-feeling story would have been more suitable if they wanted to donate all profits from the tickets to charity.”
“Aye, but it wouldn’t look as ground-breaking on your CV.”
They remained in a comfortable silence for the rest of the ride. It wasn’t until they had arrived at the small private parking-lot of the Neil Simon Theater that Matt opened up again.
“They hate me.”
“What?” asked Dominic in surprise, the hand that was passing Matt his sports bag frozen in the air.
“Some actors, I heard them yesterday, after the rehearsal.” Taking the bag out of his hands carefully, Matt cautiously looked around to inspect his surroundings if someone was within earshot. “Paulo and Harry, two Apostles, right? They were chatting with Stephan and Sarah when I came back to the dressing room.”
Dom nodded, searching in his memory. “They were with you in the chorus of Jesus followers, isn’t it?”
“Yes. The point is, all four… Well, mainly Harry and Paulo, were complaining about how I was casted. You know, when Greg was the first understudy and the obvious choice.”
“Obvious choice if he wasn’t recovering from a laryngitis and couldn’t do the scream in Gethsemane,” Dom deadpanned. “They know someone in a bad vocal state can’t perform such an exigent role.”
Matt ignored his comment, his words accelerating and his tone dropping another notch, getting more and more frantic. “But she knew about Chris and I! She told the others and that gave them further reasons to dislike the decision.”
“What? Chris is an incredible professional and doubting his casting just because he has directed you in plays back in London and you’re friends is being incredibly thick… and even malicious.”
“For god’s sake Dom, don’t be so naïve!” Matt complained. “Of course they will talk! He’s my friend, I’m only a second understudy, and this is my first Broadway play. I’ve ended up playing one of the most stellar roles ever! They are on my back, waiting to see how badly I fuck up!”
There it was. Matt’s natural insecurity, that trait of his that Dom had known since they had been in high school and that never truly went away, no matter how many roles he played or how good the reviews were.
“Matthew, you’ve been nominated to a What’s On Stage award back home! You’d have big secondary roles waiting in the West End if you wanted to! You can do this!” he insisted, grabbing his shoulders by instinct trying to get some sense into his brain, to make him see himself in the same light Dom had.
Matt’s demeanor changed at once, his expression going from fear to nearly horror, and pulled away as if branded by a hot iron all over his body. The atmosphere around them suddenly felt sick and suffocating.
The elephant in the room was there again. Warning bells ringing in their minds, memories of what they both intended to ignore resurfacing.
Suddenly feeling too awkward and unable to speak, all Dom could do was clear his throat and avoid the other man’s gaze.
“I will… Yeah,” Matt babbled, vaguely gesturing towards the exit and walking away. When he finally was out, Dominic cursed under his breath, closing the door of his Mini with a heavy slam.
Things between them had been awkward since what had happened at Carrie William's birthday party not too long ago. Dom had sworn to himself that he wouldn't allow something like that to repeat itself, and yet, he'd just gone and done it. Matt had picked up on it too, obviously, and still felt as wound up about it as him. For the past two weeks they had been tiptoeing around each other, clearly thinking about it but still trying to ignore it. And yet, here they were again.
Matt was gone again and Dom was fuming.
How could it be possible that he managed to disappear so easily in a crowded theater? Dom suspected that Matt was avoiding him, probably hoping to bury once again that glimpse of The Issue that had been standing between them for a while but had resurfaced in the car park. He was also quite sure he was accompanied by Carrie. Their friendship had grown fast since the start of their run; in fact, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Matt had confided her with what had happened in the party. Dom felt his cheeks burn, dreading that someone else knew what a fool he had been.
It was exasperating. Rehearsal had been a standard one, Matt trying his hand with the songs that needed more actors on stage, and they had been mostly successful, although he had had some problems with the Temple scene; it involved choreography, the faithful swarming around Jesus while he visited the unholy market the Temple had been transformed into. Chris had been happy with his voice, as it was a short piece, but Tom had insisted for all of the chorus to give it more dramatics and Matt still wasn’t totally comfortable with being the center of the action rather than hidden in the ensemble.
After what Matt had told him, Dominic imagined he had perhaps taken the director’s feedback too seriously; the mild criticism feeding his detractors and fueling their annoyance at the duplication of rehearsals and changes of routines. Dom had been seated in the pit watching discretely, and still had felt the great amount of tension reigning among everyone. If they had already been concerned by the cameras (the show was being recorded for television and would be streamed in Easter), the pressure of adapting to a new lead and the accompanying media buzz was only intensifying their worries.
And thank God the only ones who would need to rehearse on the morning of Christmas’ Eve were going to be a small crew working with Matt. If the whole cast had to remain, Dom would have feared they’d eat his friend alive.
“Have you seen Matt?” He was dancing around everyone, probably pissing off some, asking for him. Most actors didn’t seem to care, and most members of the crew simply had been too busy with one thing or another to care about where Matt had gone to. It was already lunch break time, so Matt and Carrie would show up in the canteen. He wouldn’t go out for a bite without telling him, surely?
“Hey, Phil!” Dom rushed to catch Phil Seymour, the singer playing Judas. He had never really talked with him, but after seeing the way he looked at Carrie at her birthday party (no, Dom, don’t go there), his instinct told him he had a crush on her. Phil looked at him puzzled, probably wondering who the hell was after him.
“Yes…?” Furrowing his brow, he crossed his arms and took one step towards the door backstage, clearly indicating he wasn’t up for a chat.
“Congrats on that Heaven On Their Minds from yesterday… Anyway, have you seen Carrie?”
Bingo. Phil’s gesture opened and the glint in his eyes clearly told Dom he hadn’t been wrong at all.
“I saw her with Bellamy climbing the stairs a bit after we sang Everything’s Alright and Wolstenholme gave us the thumbs up. They said they were going to take a bit of air before lunch.” He sounded contrite, and Dominic had the impulse to reveal Matt’s sexual orientation right there to ease his mind, the actor obviously jealous of Matt’s escapades with Carrie, but he knew he didn’t have the right to do so.
“The stairs? Those?” Dom pointed to a narrow set right before the dressing rooms area. “Don’t they lead to a storage area?”
“Yeah, and special effects, and who knows what else. Lunch time, yeah?” He shrugged, rudely turning his back and leaving with an annoyed last glance at the British agent.
Dom didn’t have anything to lose, so he went up the stairs, hoping to eventually find the two singers. As he had believed, the stairs led to a set of rooms, some still in regular use, but many left for machinery and storing. He was shocked to find, at the end of the dimly corridor, another set of stairs; however, these were not intended for regular use if the emergency signs weren’t wrong. Nevertheless, and seeing nowhere else to go to, he advanced.
The heavy exit door was half opened, something blocking it from closing. A gust of icy wind filtered through the gap and Dominic shivered. If Matt was really out there (on a terrace? Most probably the idiot would be hanging with his ‘bestie’ on the rooftop of the bloody theater).
“… As if I didn’t have enough with that, now I also have to be Jesus Christ. Fucking brilliant…”
He knew he shouldn’t, but he could hardly help himself. Dominic stopped in his tracks, carefully avoiding to make any sound and throwing a look outside. He couldn’t see anyone, the gap either too narrow or them being out of his line of sight, but Carrie’s voice, higher pitched than Matt’s filtered inside easily.
“Don’t be so dramatic, Matt. This is unfortunate for Ian, but it’s a great opportunity for you. And about what happened at my party, frankly, you’re overthinking.”
“I’m not! He basically told me then and there that he wanted to fuck me! A pity fuck, how am I supposed to get past that?”
That was the last straw for Dominic. He was deeply embarrassed about what he had said at the party and couldn’t continue hearing the private conversation without attempting to explain himself. Or better, disregarding the topic until the show had taken place and they could approach it without adding further pressure to Matt’s already overwhelmed mind.
The rooftop of the theater was nondescript: some small columns here and there for the air vents, three large metal smokestacks at the far corner for the canteen and cafeteria and, at the right from the door a couple of half rotten and broken wooden crates that must had been there for ages. That’s where Matt and Carrie, who were looking at him as if they were seeing a ghost, had been hiding.
“Well, sorry to crash your little party,” Dominic said sarcastically, walking in long strides towards them.
“Dom! Why the hell are you here?” Coming out of his initial shock, Matt was sporting now an angry expression, his brow creased.
“May I remind you I’m your sodding agent? You can’t just run away after the rehearsal just like that!” Dom was shooting daggers with his eyes. “Weren’t you so worried about others thinking you had only got the role because you were a friend of Chris? Then show a bit more professionalism!”
Matt took the low blow stoically. “Fuck off, you aren’t my nanny! This is my lunch break and I spend it however I see fit!”
“Since when have you been hiding up here?” Dom enquired, before realization dawned on him. “You were out here yesterday before I arrived, right? That’s why your hair was so messy! You’re going to catch a bloody pneumonia, don’t you see those clouds?” Impetuously he pointed to the dark panorama of the sky; weather forecasts had been dead set on announcing proper winter storms and heavy snowfalls around Christmas time. “It’s going to start snowing any minute now, and here you are, risking your throat!”
Matt’s retort was silenced by a loud meow, and both of them turned to the sound. Dom was surprised to notice for the first time that Carrie had been holding a dark furred cat all along. The animal wouldn’t stop fidgeting in her arms, probably restless due to the alarming volume that their voices were reaching.
“Would you stop screaming like kindergarten kids? The cat is growing nervous and I don’t want him to ruin my new coat with his paws.”
“Sorry Car, better let me hold him now… Shit!” The animal had clearly had enough, so instead of willingly going into Matt’s arms he jumped and ran away, out of sight behind an air vent.
“Brilliant, Dominic, thank you very much.” Matt slowly clapped twice, budding rage permeating his every word. “Surely we won’t see him again for a few days, and as we’re leaving after the 25th, it will be an eternity before he will deign to show up on the roof again. Bravo!”
“For God’s sake Matt, it’s only a cat.” Dom was really annoyed by then and didn’t want to take more of Matt’s useless ramblings. Wind was growing stronger and he was freezing, his coat forgotten on the seat of his car.
“Yeah, yeah, ‘only a cat’, Mr. Howard said.” Matt imitated him comically, getting a step closer to him. “Because Mr. Howard is a cold-hearted piece of shit who doesn’t care whether Carrie and I have been befriending a poor stray cat for weeks now. Because,” Matt’s face was now so close to Dom’s he could feel his hot breath on his skin; his heart beating madly and his breath caught in his throat. “Mr. Howard is cold enough to go around joking about his best friend’s sexuality and not give a damn.”
Matt’s tone had been venomous, full of rage and buried resentment. Dominic wanted to scream at him, to shout the billions of thoughts that had been circulating in his brain since that cursed party, throw on his face the truths he had been guarding, but he couldn’t.
Matt’s eyes were layered with hurt before he mutely turned away, shot an apologetic glance at Carrie, and went away.
For Dominic it felt like hours, but only a few seconds passed until Carrie spoke out.
“Problems don’t go away simply by not solving them, Dominic. Reach out to him and speak!” The plea in her voice baffled him, but she didn’t let him reply. “Don’t explain your reasons to me. It’s Matt who must hear them. He’s under so much pressure right now and is terrified of what will happen on Christmas. He needs you.”
“And that was his way of showing it? Jumping to conclusions and not letting me explain? All I’ve ever done is worry about him!”
Carrie actually rolled her eyes condescendingly and Dom saw red.
“Look, I’ve had enough! When he wants to be an adult and discuss things without having to run away, I will! Until now, he obviously doesn’t need me as a friend, but as his manager.”
He knew he was being unreasonable, stubborn even. But he couldn’t bring himself to care, not with all the pain that Matt’s words had inflicted upon him.
A few weeks earlier
“He was a fucking cunt!”
“He was. You really have atrocious taste in men.”
“My taste in men is excellent, thank you very much.” Sloshing his drink around carelessly, Matt vehemently contradicted Dom, one of his favorite hobbies. “I’ve been terribly unlucky lately, it’s simple as that. Any man can have a bad streak.”
“That you’ve been, yes…” Dom wasn’t much more sober. His guard as well as his inhibitions were down, so he didn’t even hesitate (as he normally would) before happily throwing his right arm around Matt’s shoulders, dragging his friend closer. “You need to find a Calvin Klein model or something.”
“Or ‘something’?” Matt cackled, leaning against Dom to have easier access to his ear – music was blasting through the speakers of the bar and he had trouble making himself heard. “That sounded as if any object with a hole would suffice for me, mate.”
“I never judge, Matt. You could fuck a tree and I’d always, forever, support you.” He punctuated each of his last words with a nod of his head, following the music rhythm. However, the final shake was too strong, making him lose his balance and having to hold onto Matt’s shoulder to keep himself steady. They stared at each other for a moment, before bursting into manic giggles.
“Dammit, Dom! You spilt your drink on my arm!”
“Uh oh, sorry Matt.” Dom apologized, dismissing his glass on the nearest surface and rubbed his hand over his arm; a very poor attempt to clean the disaster. Matt was wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, and his skin felt warm and sticky against Dom’s fingers.
“I don’t think that will work…” Matt commented, his words barely audible amongst the loud dance music.
“Probably not. Your skin is hot.” Dom was transfixed, staring at Matt’s forearm. The changing lights bathed it in different colors and made it even more alluring. How would gin taste on it?
“I am hot,” Matt deadpanned. This pulled Dom out of his reverie, looking into the other man’s eyes. Matt was showing all the signs of being properly pissed; his blue gaze was boring into the blond’s with an intensity that roused Dom’s desires.
“I never said you weren’t.”
“So you do agree.”
Matt’s smile was a tease, a glint on his look that Dom had seen many times before, but never directed at him. They were flirting and it would have been a dream come true for him, if only they weren’t both drunk. Dom knew he should have been honest with Matt years ago and open up to him about how his heterosexuality had been in question for a long time. Perhaps since he had first seen him naked after one beach day back at home, when Dom was too young and stupid to admit any kind of physical attraction towards the same sex.
“No underwear models in sight, Bells? You need the confirmation of a…” the pause was almost imperceptible, but was still there to manifest the seed of doubt. Dom prayed for Matt to catch the hint. “… Straight man to reassure yourself?”
That made Matt laugh, casually stroking both of Dom’s shoulders, his gaze dropping to the wide amount of his chest visible through the V neck of his t-shirt.
“Don’t they say that everyone is a closeted bisexual after all?”
“Not in your case. Or have you, by any chance, got yourself a lady and never told me about it?”
With a roll of his eyes and an exasperated sigh that got lost amidst the background music, Matt dismissed the outrageous possibility. His fingers had moved by then to Dom’s necklace, playing with its shark tooth. His proximity was doing Dom’s head in.
“And what about you, Casanova? Played with someone else’s dick?”
That was it. Either confession time or brusque denial. Matt, I’m bisexual and crazy about you versus Mate, of course I haven’t. I cater to women only thank you very much. Dom couldn’t take his eyes off him.
“Why, are you offering?” His ‘be subtle’ game was strong.
However Matt was obviously not thrown off by his reply, if the sudden shortening of the gap between them was anything to go by. Their faces were dangerously close and Dom’s head was spinning.
“Feeling a bit curious?” Low and inciting, Matt’s voice was sending Dom’s senses into overdrive. Both were now looking at each other’s mouths.
“I’m not gay like you.”
The illusion was broken. First Matt looked at him baffled, but then he backed one step away, nervously rubbing the back of his neck and his other hand twitching at his side. Dom wanted to kick himself, to elaborate and explain his sentence, to clarify Matt that it didn’t mean what he had imagined. Years of hidden feelings and self struggle were difficult to express in words, and certainly not when his brain was covered in a thick drunken fog, mixed with a storm of desire.
“But we can fuck!” As in the movies, Dom saw in slow motion how Matt’s expression switched from confusion to absolute horror. This wasn’t going well; everything was coming out the wrong way!
He tried to hold to Matt, to grab his arm and make him understand what he needed to say. Matt batted his hand away before he could even graze his skin.
“You know, you’re my best friend! We could… If you need to…”
His cause was lost, even though he couldn’t give up. But Matt was averting his eyes, and some part of Dom’s brain was not so kindly informing him about how badly he had messed up what was supposed to be his coming out and impromptu declaration.
“Thanks for your self-sacrifice, but I can get someone for myself, I don’t need… favours.”
Matt was also very drunk, words slurred and barely audible, but the outrage behind them was clear enough to filter through Dom’s brain. The brunet looked around and soon spotted one make-up artist he usually couldn’t stand nearby. Poor excuse for dashing out, but they were past any slyness at that point. “Lucy’s there, I’ll better go and say hello.”
And with that he was gone; starting signal for Dom to wallow in his grief and run to the bar. He needed more alcohol to deal with that disaster.
“Shitting bloody cunting fuck!!”
Several people turned around disapprovingly, but Dom couldn’t care less. Anxiously looking at his watch, he cursed inwardly this time, tapping his foot.
One of the heaviest snowstorms so far was causing terrible traffic on the roads. He had preferred not to risk getting caught in any nerve-wrecking congestion, taking the subway instead. However, the service was slower on Christmas day and he was running very late; the doors had already opened, and it was terribly unprofessional of him, not to mention rude, to arrive at such a late hour.
He had almost stayed home.
Dom had been very tempted; after all, he hadn’t spoken to Matt since the confrontation up on top of the roof. After attending the rest of the rehearsal, he had hurried outside the theater, not caring about his earlier promise of giving Matt a lift back. Of course, they hadn’t been in contact the next morning and Dom had remained holed up in his apartment; the only reason why he had shown up merely half an hour before the wrap had been in order to avoid potential gossip. Matt had been receiving his last vocal instructions and indications from Chris; he had caught Dom lurking in a corner, but refused to engage in any sort of contact. There had been a very short toast after that and holiday greetings from everyone, and still they hadn’t crossed a single word between them. Dom hadn’t even wished good luck to Matt.
However, after a day of giving Matt the cold shoulder and receiving it back, Dom had had enough. That’s why he had came out of his bedroom, hurrying to shower and smartly dress himself, hoping not to be too late for the show.
The streets were fairly empty, most people having stayed in the warmth of their homes celebrating. Although the sidewalks showed signs of having been covered with salt early in the day, the never-stopping snow had covered them back again, forcing Dom to slow down against his will. The heavy snowflakes were surely wetting and ruining his hair, but he didn’t mind as he quickly covered the distance to the Neil Simon.
That street was far more crowded: solitary attendants were grouped at the entrance (probably waiting for their friends to arrive), some brave fans queuing at the ticket window hoping for last minute seats, and a nearly constant flux of cars and taxis dropping people at the door.
Wouldn’t it be better to simply cross the doors and go straight to the VIP box, where he knew his pass would allow him to stay if he wanted to? Was he really prepared to confront Matt instead of cowardly hiding among the relatives and friends of the rest of the cast?
He chewed on his lip. In all his time as Matt’s agent he had only missed the opening night of one of his musicals once - when his father had passed away. Today it wasn’t a first show, but the significance of it was equivalent and he knew he had to do things right. Matt had been his friend since they were teenagers, they’ve had each other’s back since then, and Dom had always been more than happy to make his profession the privilege of helping Matt build his promising career. They had always been a team, joined by the hip, endured success, disappointment, loss, pain, heartbreak. Somewhere along the line Dom had been shocked to find himself deeply infatuated with him, nursing a teenage-like crush on his life-long best friend. He had to battle that conviction along with the constant and ever present doubts regarding his sexuality, and it had been difficult; trying to balance work, friendship and unrequited feelings without any of the areas damaging the other was complex, and he had inexplicably succeeded at it. Until the party.
The choice was clear then. Stage door would it be.
Matt hadn’t called Dom, no matter how much had he wanted to. He felt hurt, but also knew he had stormed off without giving him a chance to explain. They had been avoiding the elephant in the room for too long, it was only natural that the tension had eventually manifested. And of course, the blow had been stronger than any of them had anticipated.
It couldn’t end like this. Dom was more than his best friend, more than his manager. Dom was…
He was there.
Blond hair a wet mess, coat damp and covered in snow, he looked out of breath and slightly embarrassed, but he had come to see him before his performance. As always.
“Sorry for intruding, I know I should’ve knocked…”
“Oh! No, it’s fine. I’m glad you… made it here,” Matt muttered, looking down and cursing himself. Could he be more obvious?
“There’s a raging snowstorm out there, I had to get on the subway to be in time…” Rambling. Usually Matt’s role, but he didn’t mind the change for once. Matt chuckled.
“A proper snowy Christmas then. As you always wanted when we were younger.”
Their eyes finally met, both grinning at the memory of tiresome Christmas parties that were always made better when they could finally get together the day after and browse through each other’s gifts.
“Look, Matt, I –” A voice filled the corridor outside the dressing room.
“Fifteen minutes everyone!”
Matt gasped, abruptly turning his head and checking his own appearance in the mirror. Hands gripped the edge of the table and thumbs tapped the surface; his pre-show ritual had to start.
“Break a leg, Bells.”
Just a simple squeeze of Matt’s shoulder was enough. The brunet closed his eyes as Dom left the room. A smile was slowly taking over. They would talk later, and everything would be alright.
The snow had grown heavier during the play. However, the wind had nearly stopped and the cold was more tolerable than before. Still, it wasn’t a good night to be outside, especially not after having sung for two hours. Dom knew that, and any other time he’d have berated Matt for it, but not this Christmas night. He wrapped his scarf more tightly around his neck and put his hands in his pockets.
“So, is he here then?”
“He is!” Matt happily cheered and Dominic walked towards him with a big smile. Matt was squatting down in front of the crates, meowing to attract the attention of the little animal.
“How long have you two come up here then?” he asked after a couple of minutes in silence. He was close enough to observe the tender way in which Matt was petting the cat, but not too much as to scare him.
Matt beamed when he looked up.
“About two months maybe, although Carrie had been coming way earlier. She found how easily it was to get here and used it as an escape when she was too keyed up after rehearsals. She showed me and I loved it. We found the cat a few weeks later and started bringing him food and water. The little fella is quite adorable, isn’t he?” True adoration painted Matt’s words; it made Dom feel warm inside.
“Why don’t you adopt him?” he asked out of the blue, and Matt’s eyes widened.
“No, I don’t know if I could take good care of him…” Insecurity resurfaced, but it was plainly obvious how much he liked the idea when he let the cat climb his shoulder and broadly grinned when he purred in his ear.
“After what you have done tonight, you can do absolutely everything you want to, Matt.”
Matt looked doubtful for another instant, but finally took the black cat in his arms and talked to him.
“What do you say? Coming with me?”
The cat responded with a loud meow, prompting the two men to start laughing.
“I think that’s a yes.”
“Indeed. Now, would you care to get inside before you catch a cold?” Matt huffed in mock annoyance, but stood up, firmly hugging the animal. “Besides, there’s a party waiting for a certain Matthew Bellamy, Superstar.”
They exchanged a look of complicity, happiness and… Perhaps something else.
“You know what? I might call him Snowy.”
“What? He’s as black as the night!” Dom protested, Matt having none of it.
“Who cares? It’s original and fits, it’s snowing! It’s a Christmassy name.”
Dom shrugged it off while Matt giggled. He opened the door and held it for Matt, but he wasn’t moving, absentmindedly looking at the skyscrapers with a frown of incredulity on his face.
“This is it, Dom, isn’t it? I’ve made it. Standing ovation on Broadway, I’ve proved all of them I’m where I am because I deserve it. Chris told me that Ian’s contract was only up to this special philanthropic show. What if they ask me to keep the role? And it’s also going to be on the telly later, oh my God!”
Dom beamed at him, solemnly nodding.
“They loved it. The public loved it, the team loved it, everyone loved it. This will put your name high up there, the almost unknown understudy that with little previous experience nailed Jesus. They paid to see Coleman and instead were gifted with your unique voice. You’ve made the difference this Christmas.”
Matt smirked lopsidedly, warmly gazing at Dom and finally stepping beneath the short ledge of the rooftop’s door.
“Merry Christmas, Dominic,” he whispered.
This time they were sober, but high on endorphins. Dom fixed his eyes on the numerous snowflakes poised over Matt’s bangs, rapidly melting away.
“Happy Christmas, Matt.”
New Year’s Eve
The party at Morgan’s house was about to reach its peak. Dom hadn’t seen their old classmate in nearly a year, so he was thrilled to finally catch up with him after all that time. Unfortunately, snow had been playing up again, delaying their flight to London and not giving them enough time to recover from jet lag, but they were nonetheless in good spirits.
Dom smiled when he caught Matt in the middle of a small crowd, rambling animatedly. He had never been especially fond of fame, but as soon as Morgan had effusively announced a toast before desserts, ‘in honor of the critical and public acclaim of his holiday Broadway’ Jesus Christ Superstar’, some guests had hurried to get more details from the new “star”. Although Matt was still processing the recent events, he was obviously happy to talk about the job he loved, and wasn’t as afraid as before to show a just amount of pride at his own achievements.
Matt was looking deadly gorgeous. Clad in a velvet deep blue suit that brought out his kohl lined eyes (Dom had nearly lost it when he had seen him the first time), he was posing himself as a temptation, hard to resist.
They hadn’t discussed The Issue yet. Dom had been almost certain that Matt would kiss him on the roof, but apparently that had been only wishful thinking on his part. An awkward half hug trying not to squish Snowy between their chests and that was it. The next couple of days had been filled with too much activity to allow them to sit down and talk: packing for their return to the UK, some press interviews for Matt, visits to the vet and filing paperwork for the cat’s adoption.
However, the loaded atmosphere had been lifted from their interactions, being substituted for a truce of sorts, both of them silently agreeing to talk when they were ready. And Dom felt on his gut that it was going to be tonight; in fact, it was his number one New Year resolution.
Tell Matt that you’re bisexual and have feelings for him.
“Dear guests!” Morgan announced with booming voice. “It’s almost midnight, so please grab a flute if you haven’t already and pay attention to the TV!”
Everyone followed his indications, getting close to the device and preparing themselves for the countdown. Matt was at Dom’s side, arms that weren’t holding their glasses nearly touching.
“Ready for 2017?” Dom asked.
“More than ever, especially after Chris’ email.” Matt winked, and Dom grinned ear-to-ear, catching the hidden meaning. The musical director had written Dom that very morning to wish them a prosperous New Year and hinted at the possibility of Matt taking the leading role for the next six months run. Nothing was signed yet, of course, but it was a firm offer.
“It will be your year, JC.” That made Matt snort, elbowing him.
“Oi please, none of that shit! My brother has made the same joke one million times already, and only by text! I can’t imagine when I got to Teignmouth tomorrow… By the way, have your resolutions ready yet?”
Dom’s stomach churned, inevitably looking at Matt’s mouth for a split second.
“I think they have been ready for a long time…”
Matt lifted an eyebrow, ready to interrogate him further, but in that moment the loud voice of the BBC’s speaker announced the final countdown. They joined the chorus of numbers and, when the Big Ben started chiming, Matt grabbed his hand.
The final peal rang and Dominic reacted on impulse. As a chorus of ‘happy New Year’s surged around them, he turned his head and his mouth found Matt’s.
Matt’s lips felt like home to his, heart soaring when Matt didn’t hesitate to kiss him back. It was tender, full of sentiment and sincerity.
When Matt pulled away shortly after, Dom didn’t have time to worry about what could have been the biggest mistake of his life, because he was grinning joyfully.
“Best way to start a year!” He lifted his flute. “Happy New Year, Dom.”
“Happy New Year, Matt!”
They couldn’t take his eyes off the other while they toasted. Pure happiness was showcasing in them.
Sadly, immediately after Morgan, and after him other guests, got to them. Both greeted the people automatically, drinking and smiling to everyone even though their attention wasn’t upon them. As soon as they had a break, Dom exchanged a meaningful glance with Matt and they sneaked away from the main party, finding a calm spot in the form of Morgan’s studio.
Matthew had barely closed the door before Dominic burst:
“I’m bisexual.” Matt’s expression showed a certain amount of surprise, but not as much as Dom had anticipated. “Aren’t you shocked in the slightest?”
“Sorta,” the brunet conceded, “but after that kiss… Well, I guess it explains some bits of your past behaviour.”
Dom nodded, sitting down on a sofa and patting the spot beside him. He was very pleased when Matt sat down with their thighs almost touching.
“It does, doesn’t it? What I did at the party…” He took a deep breath, bracing himself. “Look, I phrased it terribly. I didn’t mean to say those things. But I had been struggling with this for far too long, and you were looking stunning, and we were flirting and… I was that drunk that everything came out the wrong way. I never meant to insult your sexuality, or to make you feel uncomfortable.”
“The way you talked… It made me think you were offering yourself as a favour to me, you know?” Matt grimaced. “It would have been just a bad drunken joke if I didn’t…”
Dom knew what he wanted Matt to confess, but he remained silent, waiting for him to say the words aloud; however, he didn’t. Well, Dom wanted to be honest and if that helped Matt to open up, he wouldn’t object against it.
“I don’t know for how long I’ve liked you as more than a friend, Matt. Maybe since the beginning, deep down, but I only realised what exactly the fascination I felt for you meant when I accepted it was okay to be attracted to other men. But… you had already started going out with your ex. I couldn’t tell you back then.”
Out of all the reactions that Dom had anticipated, he hadn’t considered that Matt would start laughing.
“What the hell, Matt?”
“Sorry, sorry! Fuck Dom, you have to admit this is starting to look like a corny Christmas movie! Two characters pining for each other without knowing their feelings aren’t unrequited, unexpected drama, a Christmas miracle… and now a New Year’s kiss!” He had barely been able to properly articulate each word, cackling like a mad man and tears of mirth covering his eyes.
For a moment Dom was baffled, but when the ridiculousness of the situation also dawned on him, irrepressibly he guffawed.
They needed a long time to stop giggling but when they eventually did, Dom didn’t resist one last taunt:
“Christmas movies usually don’t include the death of Jesus though.”
Matt dismissed him with a wave. “Traditional Christmas films are boring. We gave them a twist, rock operas and all of that! Oh! And a black cat who isn’t jinxed!”
“A black cat that is oddly named Snowy.”
“Just piss off, will you?” With an amicable punch to Dom’s shoulder and two fingers raised at him, Matt stood and pointed to the door. “Shall we return to the party?”
“I want to cross out my second New Year’s resolution before that.”
A playful smile lit Matt’s features.
“I wonder if it’s the same one I have in mind…”
“Care to find out?”
“Only if you promise helping me to fulfill one of mine.”
Dominic lifted his eyebrows in question, hands tangling in Matt’s hair; finally where he had imagined them countless times.
“Become your personal gay sex-ed teacher.”
Dom’s grin was predatory.
“I believe that’s the natural progression for my resolution.”
Their mouths joined.