?

Log in

No account? Create an account
do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Chaos fic: The Play's The Thing, ACT FOUR

February 1st, 2012 (11:09 am)
nervous

feeling: nervous

PROLOGUE
ACT ONE
ACT TWO
ACT THREE
ACT FOUR
ACT FIVE



Rick scrambled with Billy behind the stage, trying to get him what he needed for the next scene. “They’re changing everything,” Rick grumbled. “I don’t even know if I’ll be the one getting your props at dress rehearsal.”

Billy made a face. “Yes, well, unpredictability is the nature of stage production,” he said.

“But it was working just fine!” Rick exclaimed in frustration.

“For you, maybe,” Billy said with a shrug. “But there are many pieces at play that are hard to track. You may never know.”

Rick was silent for a moment, listening to the action on stage. Olivia was performing with the nurse.

Finally, Rick said, “Is that what you meant? When you said men like you and me weren’t meant for the happily ever after?”

Billy looked at the younger man and smiled. “So you do listen.”

Rick looked back, shaking his head. “She loves you.”

“She did once,” Billy contended. “A long time ago.”

“She still does,” Rick insisted. “So why are you throwing it away?”

Billy sighed, because he made it sound so simple. And maybe, at one point it had been. But the things he’d done, the things he’d left behind. It was more than Olivia. It was his entire life. And he couldn’t go back. No matter if he wanted to or not. “When I told you we weren’t meant for it, I meant it,” he told Rick. “I had it once and let it go, so I know something of regret on this front. You and Adele are meant for better, though.”

“You could be, too,” Rick said.

Billy shook his head. “I passed that point many years ago,” he said. Then he clapped Rick on the shoulder. “And that’s my cue.”

And with that, he went back on stage.

-o-

Olivia carried the production. Her performance was flawless, so inherent that even while watching from off stage, he often forgot it was just an act.

On her knees in Friar Laurence’s chamber, she grasped at the vial desperately. “O, tell not me of fear!” she begged.

And Billy remembered that conviction, remembered when she said that to him, remembered when it was more than just an act.

He thought maybe it could be that way again someday.

But, still, he knew that wasn’t for him to know.

-o-

With the final dress rehearsal and opening night tomorrow, Billy’s attentions were understandably divided. He had done all he could to nudge Pierre, but he figured maybe after rehearsal, he’d take the man out for a pint or two and see if that could cajole out the details once and for all.

In full dress, he checked his sword, fluffing his collar just so. He took a breath, watching as Samson and Gregory made their jokes down Verona’s square.

So when Pierre seized his arm, Billy was entirely caught off guard. He startled, trying to remember who he was and what act he was about to put on.

But one look at Pierre’s terrified eyes was enough to anchor him back to the mission.

“What is it?” Billy asked, drawing them away from the actors readying to enter for the fray.

Pierre swallowed convulsively. “What I said earlier, about doing something for myself,” he said, voice hushed and frantic. “I think I’ve made a horrible mistake.”

Billy frowned, and it wasn’t all an act. He knew the stakes were high, but for Pierre to be downright panicked suggested something else was amiss. “How’s that?”

Pierre wet his lips, looking around. “I just thought I could make a little extra money,” he explained. “That was all it was, and I didn’t figure much harm could come.”

Billy looked at him steadily, putting his hands on Pierre’s arms. “Tell me everything,” he said.

The Frenchman look helpless, but his shoulders slumped in defeat. “Do you know John? The stagehand?”

Billy nodded. “Of course,” he said. “The surly American. The disposition doesn’t suit him.”

“Well it’s because he’s not really a stagehand,” Pierre said. “I don’t actually know who he is, but he offered me money if I could just oversee the shipments and make sure that the last few packages always went off in a separate area where no one else can get at them.”

Billy nodded, face impassive.

Pierre shrugged helplessly. “And I thought, some extra money for my troubles was a worthwhile thing,” he said. “But I didn’t know what they were planning to do.”

“And what are they planning to do?” Billy asked, keenly aware of the actors moving toward the action, his cue approaching.

“They’re going to use the production’s private accommodations to ship drugs overseas and distribute them to select buyers,” he said. “Or, that’s what I thought.”

Billy hesitated, heart skipping a beat. Tybalt was on stage, taunting Benvolio. “But what’s really going on?”

Expression broken, Pierre shook his head. “They’re taking in a shipment of guns and ammunitions tonight,” he said. “And they plan to sell them to terrorists. Something about killing Americans with their own products; a sweet irony or something like that.”

Billy’s stomach twisted but he maintained his resolve. “Did he tell you that?”

“Yes,” Pierre hissed. “And I told him I wanted out. I said I’d give it all back but he refused. Said I had to finish or I was finished. And I don’t want to be a part of this, but I don’t know what to do. Who to trust.”

Billy squeezed his arm. “We’ll deal with this,” he promised.

“But how?” Pierre asked in despair.

Billy inclined his head, glancing back to where the Prince was entering with his entourage. “We’ll talk about that later, mate,” he said. “Just don’t do anything until rehearsal is over.”

“But it’s not safe,” Pierre said. “John, he’s acting very strange. How you say, suspicious? I’m not sure what he might do.”

Billy offered him a wide smile. “He can’t do much while we’re all on stage now, can he? Just stay close to the action and you’ll be fine.”

Pierre looked dubious but there was no time for further comfort. Billy looked around, trying to find Michael or Rick or Casey but there wasn’t time.

Lord and Lady Montague were on stage and it was his time to move. So Billy swallowed back his fears and doubts and stepped into the lights.

-o-

On stage, Billy played the part. He was good and able, fully capable of putting on a good show for any and all who may care to watch.

The trick to good acting was to immerse oneself in the character, to become the character. He was no longer Billy Collins, born and bruised in North Edinburgh, he was Romeo, a Montague of Verona, and that was all that mattered.

The story sounded familiar to him anyway. Star crossed lovers and foiled dreams and losing everything and then losing more.

So when Billy raged against the cruelness of fate, it was Romeo’s line but Billy’s inflection.

“Then, I defy you stars!”

It wasn’t going to work for Romeo; Billy doubted it would do him much good either.

Still, he had to try. He’d always try. If all the world was a stage, after all, then Billy could never let his defenses fall. In the play, in life – anywhere.

He couldn’t deny, not even as Romeo summoned the last of his courage, that such things always sounded better in iambic pentameter than they did in real life.

-o-

The climax was inevitable. Billy knew the story, but somehow it still took him by surprise.

Because there he was, just like young Romeo, in the ruins of a life he never got to claim. He was surrounded by those felled by his mistakes and he was alone except for his ready regrets.

The grief came naturally. There was simply no other emotion to feel.

At Olivia’s side, he was more than Romeo and she was more than Juliet. It didn’t matter, though – not anymore. He looked at her, remembering the way she looked when she slept in the morning. Remembering the way her brow furrowed as she rehearsed her lines. Remembering the sound of her laugh, the lilt of her voice, the set of her shoulders.

Remembering.

And after all these years, Billy finally let himself mourn.

For her, but more than that. For his job with MI6, for his life in the UK. For the man he’d once been and never could be again.

He lifted the vial, held it to his lips. He was scared, but certain. There was no other option.

“Here’s to my love,” he declared, pressing it to his lips and drinking it all down without a second thought or final reservation.

It was bitter, burning down his throat with an acidity that surprised him. It made his stomach roil and the spike of pain jolted his body, almost weakening his knees.

Still, he staggered forward, and grasped Olivia’s hand desperately in his own. “O true apothecary,” he said, “thy drugs are quick! Thus with a kiss –“

He pressed his lips to hers and then pulled back, wavering on his feet as he released her hand.

His breath was tight, his vision blurring. The words were stuck in his throat and it was work to get them out but they were important.

Gasping, he spluttered and spoke his last. “—I die.”

Then the pain overtook him and he spasmed once before falling to the floor and letting his eyes fall closed.

-o-

Afterward, he opened his eyes and saw Olivia right next to him. They were lying on the ground amid the props, the sound of the director yelling at the cast about their foul up of the finale. Billy could hear her, but couldn’t listen. All there was was Olivia.

She was staring at him, intent and amazed.

“That was an incredible performance,” she said.

“The best actors are the best liars,” he replied.

She shook her head, still on the ground, almost as if she had forgotten to move. “That’s not true,” she said. “The best actors are the ones who don’t have to act at all because they are the character, the part has been theirs since the beginning.”

Billy refused to blink. “How do you figure that?” he asked.

She didn’t smile, but she also didn’t look away. “Because I see it in you.”

-o-

The director was slow in her post-production talks. She was nervous about opening night, which Billy understood. The air was full of adrenaline, almost electric with the energy of the impending performance. When they were finally dismissed, Billy found himself more tired than he’d realized.

In fact, by the time he made it back to the dressing area, he was one of the last ones there. A few people nodded to him, told him they’d see him tomorrow, and Billy tried to rally his strength because he still had to find Pierre.

Somehow, his resolve wasn’t quite enough and he staggered, catching himself on one of the tables. Spots filled his vision and when he took a breath, he found his lungs struggling to comply.

Then, his stomach churned violently and his knees gave out as he wretched violently on all fours.

“Billy?” someone asked. There was a small expletive and the sound of feet moving toward him. “Billy!”

The world grayed out around the edges and when he came to, Olivia was there. Her face was pinched with panic and she shook her head. “Tell me what’s wrong,” she demanded, but it sounded like she was begging, too.

Billy took a breath but heard it wheeze in his chest. He wet his lips and tried to garner his strength. “Poison,” he said, the realization suddenly all too clear.

Her brow furrowed as she cradled him in her arms. “I don’t understand.”

“Got too close,” he said.

“To what?” she asked, a little desperate now.

Billy choked on his answer, his body convulsing.

She swore again. “Okay, okay,” she was saying, shifting around, ready to pull away. “Just let me—“

He shook his head, adamant that she understood. He grasped her wrist and willed her to look at him.

Wide eyed, she stopped. “Billy, I have to go get help,” she explained reasonably. “If you’ve been poisoned—“

He shook his head again, swallowing with difficulty, as breathing got harder. “I need to tell you,” he said.

“It can wait until after we—“

“No,” he said, the force of his voice nearly suffocating him. His breathing staggered but he persisted. “John knows. Pierre tipped me off.”

“I should get Michael—“

He held her wrist tightly with all the strength he had left. “The last shipment – it’s tonight,” Billy said between heaving breaths. “Not drugs. Guns. Supplying terrorists overseas.”

Olivia tried to pull away.

Billy held fast.

She shook her head. “I need to tell Michael.”

“But you need to know—“

“You can tell me later—“

“You need to know why I left!” he said, pushing the words out even as his body started to fade. “If I had stayed – with you – I would have cost you – everything. Spies can’t – be in public. No – photos. No – fame. You couldn’t have – couldn’t have been an actress. You would have – lost everything.”

Her face scrunched up and there were tears now, blurring her mascara. “But you were everything,” she said. “You were everything I wanted.”

He shook his head. “I couldn’t – couldn’t take it from you.”

“It was my choice,” she shot back as fresh tears spilled down her cheeks.

“That’s no choice,” Billy replied. Then he smiled, wanly. “I thought – all for the best.”

Her laugh was as much as sob as tears dripped from her nose. “You’re just like Romeo,” she chided. “An idiot, doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.”

It was good to see her smile, good to see her as she really was. No more acting. No more parts.

Then the pain struck him again and his body tensed as his lungs seized. He felt himself panicking as his air supply dwindled and his stomach threatened to turn itself out again.

“Billy!” she cried, holding him closer. “Billy!”

He tried to focus, tried to find her again, but it was all fading. When his eyes landed on her, everything slipped as the world tunneled.

Except her voice. Crystal clear. “Please, Billy,” she begged. “Don’t die.”

He smiled. The pain abated. The haze retreated. “My life were better ended by their hate than death prorogued,” he said, “wanting of thy love.”

The last words were no more than a whisper and when everything effused to white, he thought he might have heard applause over the sound of her tears.

-o-

He found himself in an abandoned playhouse. The seats were empty and for a moment, he was alone on the darkened stage.

When the spotlight came on, he felt exposed and naked under its harsh glow, but he didn’t know how to move.

He didn’t know his lines, though. Didn’t know what he was supposed to do at all.

Another light turned on, and Casey appeared. He had a long sword and red and yellow tights as he struck a pose of defiance. “Here’s my fiddlestick!” he said, waving his sword heartily. “Here’s that shall make you dance. Zounds, consorts!”

The light dimmed and another illuminated. Rick was there, done up in a dress five times too big. He looked sympathetic though, and he said, “I think you are happy in this second match for it excels your first.” Then he shrugged. “Or if it did not, your first is dead; or twere as good it were, as living here and you no use of it.”

The spotlight turned off and flashed again. Michael stood in full princely garb, head held high. “I will be deaf to pleading and excuses,” he declared. “Nor tears, nor prayers shall purchase our abuses.”

Then Michael was gone in the blackness and Billy was left alone in the glaring light.

With the other beam flashed again, Olivia was there, looking straight at him. She moved toward him and the spotlight followed her until the two beams shone as one and she stood directly in front of him. “And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay,” she said, she promised. “And follow thee my lord throughout the world.”

He moved to touch her, moved to kiss her, moved to be near her, but the lights went black and the curtain fell.

ACT FIVE

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 11:58 am (UTC)


Eeek for the dream at the end! And eek for the poison really having been poison!

////It wasn’t going to work for Romeo; Billy doubted it would do him much good either.////

Poor boy. I love their confessions to each other, his reasons why he gave her up.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I was quite pleased to find a way to put some h/c in there without it being the entire focus of the fic (which is what I usually do!).

And I'm glad you liked the backstory I gave for them :) As always, thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 24th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
LOVE this Act

I LOVE how you have divided this story into appropriate acts like a Shakespeare play. This Act is a particular favorite (for obvious reasons and you know what they are - hehehe) and particularly poignant as Billy tries to tell Rick that he and Adele are better together than he and Olivia and of course, the final and ultimate admission, waiting to be made about why Billy let her go. JUST WOW! It's the kind of self-sacrifice that makes complete sense and why I LOVE Billy painted in this light!

Fave Parts:


Billy sighed, because he made it sound so simple. And maybe, at one point it had been. But the things he’d done, the things he’d left behind. It was more than Olivia. It was his entire life. And he couldn’t go back. No matter if he wanted to or not. “When I told you we weren’t meant for it, I meant it,” he told Rick. “I had it once and let it go, so I know something of regret on this front. You and Adele are meant for better, though.”

“You could be, too,” Rick said.

-- *Sigh! Billy is SO NOBLE!

I LOVED this whole scene of course, but this was just so LOVELY:


“You need to know why I left!” he said, pushing the words out even as his body started to fade. “If I had stayed – with you – I would have cost you – everything. Spies can’t – be in public. No – photos. No – fame. You couldn’t have – couldn’t have been an actress. You would have – lost everything.”

Her face scrunched up and there were tears now, blurring her mascara. “But you were everything,” she said. “You were everything I wanted.”

He shook his head. “I couldn’t – couldn’t take it from you.”

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 27th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Re: LOVE this Act
billy likes

I had such fun writing this fic, so I'm glad you prompted it :) I have such a soft spot for this play and Billy really does fit the role of Romeo better than I had imagined when I first started. I've had someone request a follow up to this, which I'm sure would involve more romance and probably some angst and hurt, and somehow I think that'd be something you could get behind :)

And isn't noble Billy just the best? He kills me!

Thanks!

4 Read Comments