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Were he not Romeo call'd

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The New Burbage Theatre Festival isn't like high school, and thank fucking God for that. They don't really care what happened back then, either, though at the audition Nadine, the director, says, "Have you ever done this play before?"

Patrick has to say, "Yes," because he knows people who've been caught lying about their old roles who lost their jobs. Though mostly that was resume-padding, not resume-stripping-down.

"What was your role?" Nadine asks.

He wants to play it off as nothing, to wink and say, "Juliet," and forget that the program had the wrong name in it, back then. But he gets panicky at exactly the wrong time, and instead of managing to give the right line reading, he needs a couple of deep breaths first, and "Juliet" is practically a croak.

Nadine looks confused, but not upset. "Oh. Interesting."

That's when Geoffrey Tennant notices him--and he's heard about Geoffrey Tennant, hasn't everybody? He looks like he's waking up, and he sits forward on the very edge of his chair and gives Patrick a long look with one hand spread over his mouth, then smiles. "So you understand the play from both angles," Geoffrey says. "Juliet and how she's trapped in everything she doesn't want to be, the way her society holds her back from doing what she wants, being who she wants to be, pushes her down into the wrong role until the only thing left for her is to change her name and run away from home. Even though it kills her in the end."

Patrick stares at him--artistic director, clinically insane once, and maybe still--and wonders why he isn't directing the play himself if he understands Juliet so well. "Yeah. Really--just like that. So she goes for the wrong guy, who's not as bad as the person her family tells her is the right guy. And Romeo, he knows he's screwing up from the start. It's just that she's the least bad decision he's made in a long time, and he knows she's throwing it all away for him, too. They're at that place where the only thing they can do is jump in feet first, together, so they jump."

He gets the part.

*

And then there's Sarah, and that's a jump they take together without talking anywhere near enough--a rose by any other name might've taken the time to explain what she was going to find with her hand down his pants before they got there--but the way she looks at him when he's half-naked means they'll be fine when it's not just half.

"Does this mean I'm gay?" she asks afterward, with her head on his shoulder. "I don't feel gay."

"Me Romeo, you Juliet," he says. "How gay is that?"

She splutters and kisses him again. "So I'm not gay. Probably. Okay." Sarah tackles him onto the bed. "I can deal with bi. I think."

She nuzzles his collarbone and Patrick laughs. "You think you have problems--I'm starting to think I might be straight."

"Shit," Sarah says, and kisses him again. "Are you sure?"

"Nope. Let's give it another shot."

*

He talks to Darren before the Belkovsky, and it's just about the only actual conversation he's heard anyone have with Darren all season. "So, um. That's the thing," he says.

Darren counts on his fingers. "In the first place, even with the new costuming, there should be sufficient opacity to allow for your requirements. In the second place, I swear to you on all I hold holy and pure in this world that I will make sure that the lights are extinguished until everyone's clothing is replaced, and while there are some at this festival who would take an oath made on Foucault to be one in jest, I assure you that I mean nothing of the sort."

"But the--" Patrick doesn't look at him, doesn't want to say "groping" to his director, especially not his director who's been better about not taking gender as read than a lot of people, but--nakedness. "Someone's going to notice."

"I am certain that everyone in the cast will be sufficiently preoccupied with the general orgy of flesh-to-flesh contact that it will not occur to any of them to question your accoutrements or lack thereof, at least tonight. We have entirely too much to do before we open for them to be capable of that level of critical thought."

Patrick sighs. "And if they do notice?"

"Fuck them," Darren says, and smirks. "Not literally, in your case, but fuck their assumptions. When I inherited this broken-necked production and warped it, it was not because I felt that you were unequal to this intensely virile role."

"Thanks," Patrick says.

"Do you have your bathrobe? We should begin."

Patrick pats the grocery store sack next to himself. "Yes."

"Excellent. Go and change, and meet in the rehearsal hall in five minutes." Darren dismisses him with a gesture.

It takes longer than that for Patrick to decide to leave the binder in the dressing room, along with the packer, but his bathrobe is big enough to hide the change in his shape, and people are more likely to notice cloth than differently-shaped skin. He hopes.

*

The reviews are amazing, and the mentions of him are flattering. His passion, his grace, his expressions; he's earned them all.