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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

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

February 1st, 2012 (11:15 am)
touched

feeling: touched

PROLOGUE
ACT ONE
ACT TWO
ACT THREE
ACT FOUR
ACT FIVE



When he woke up, Billy was a hospital bed.

Blinking, he realized he was in fact very much alive. His stomach hurt and his chest ached, but other than that, he seemed no worse for wear.

Then he remembered Olivia. He remembered Pierre and John and the mission and the poison, but mostly he remembered Olivia.

Any way it went, he had to go.

Moving to sit up, a wave of nausea overtook him and he found himself on his back again, sucking in deep breaths through his nose.

This time when he opened his eyes, Michael was looking at him quizzically. “That wasn’t very smart.”

Billy frowned. “The mission,” he said.

Michael smirked. “Taken care of,” he said. “Thanks to you.”

Michael stepped back and Billy’s eyes followed him. Casey was there, too, and Rick. Casey scoffed. “Not much thanks to you, though,” he said. “You nearly dying really threw a wrench into the works.”

Billy’s frown deepened. “The poison?”

“The prop was switched out with something real,” Rick explained. “The evidence is circumstantial but all signs point to John. He had access and he was the one that reassigned duties after he saw you poking around.”

“Surely you knew that it wasn’t a prop,” Casey said.

Billy considered that. “I was in the moment.”

“Until you collapsed in respiratory distress,” Michael quipped.

Billy rubbed at his aching chest unconsciously.

“You’re fine, though,” Rick assured him. “We still had the vial and the doctors were able to find the right antivenin pretty quickly.”

“Not until after your throat swelled closed and your heart stopped, of course,” Casey said crisply.

This did nothing to alleviate Billy’s frown.

Michael rolled his eyes. “It was all very dramatic,” he said. “You would have been impressed.”

And this was true, except there were still too many unanswered questions. “But the mission?”

“Taken care of,” Michael reported. “John is in custody along with his sellers. He’s already turning on the network he works for, so it’s a huge intelligence boon. Everything was a total success.”

This was good news. It was. So Billy wasn’t sure why it didn’t feel that way. He scrunched his nose, trying to sort it out. “But how?”

Michael collected a breath and Billy could see the traces of exhaustion he was clearly keeping at bay. “After you passed out, Olivia called us. While Casey made sure you stayed alive long enough for the ambulance to get there, we found Pierre. You were transferred to the hospital, he told us everything. We set up the bust with MI6, caught them all red-handed, and that was that.”

That was that. Nothing had been simple about this mission and yet there it was, summarized and wrapped neatly with a pretty little bow on top.

For once, life could be like literature, and all was well that ended well.

At least, that was the way it was supposed to be.

He looked up. “And Olivia?” he dared ask.

Michael hesitated and Casey shifted on his feet. Rick looked down.

It was Michael who swallowed and forced a smile. “She was here earlier, but she needed to get some rest for the show tomorrow,” he said. “It’s pretty late.”

“Or early,” Casey offered. “Depending on how you look at it.”

“But she did want to let you know that she wanted you to get better,” Rick offered.

Billy swallowed and tried not to let his disappointment show. Instead, he smiled. “The show must go on, eh?”

“For everyone else,” Michael agreed. “For us, it looks like it’s finally over.”

“Thank goodness,” Casey said. “Because no one there knows how to use normal English. It’s like being in another country without any of the perks.”

This caught Billy’s attention and he perked up as best he could in his weakened state. “But we’re central to the production,” he said.

Michael patted his arm gently. “I think they’ll survive.”

“But we owe it to our fellow cast mates,” Billy insisted.

“We saved them from their production being tarnished by the sale of drugs and guns,” Casey said. “I think they owe us.”

But Billy was adamant. “A play isn’t just some piece of nonsense you can peruse at your leisure and throw away,” he said. “It matters. It’s an age old art that deserves our respect and we would be cheating its integrity if we bailed out now.”

“Billy—“ Michael said, clearly trying to circumvent this conversation.

But this was an argument Michael wouldn’t win. This was a foe that Casey wouldn’t defeat. This was a problem that Rick wouldn’t reason through.

Theatre, much like life, wasn’t about logic. It was about emotion. It was about taking the things inside of you and putting them on display. It was about connecting with a character and then connecting with the world.

It was the best way to hide and also the best way to live.

For Billy, it was simply all there was. He started this, and this time, he had to finish it.

No matter what.

-o-

In this, though, success was a bitter thing. Billy had gained everything he had fought for in this mission, but in the end, he still had nothing. Resolution was like this, though. In life, many things came to a cold, dark end, irreversible and definitive.

On stage, Billy carried the weight with everything he had. In the end, he surrendered himself to the part, because that was what an actor did, what a spy did.

It was who Billy was.

In the final scene, Billy was sprawled on the ground. Next to him, Olivia was also limp. The cast stood around them and delivered the sad monologue.

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings,” the prince said. “The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.”

Everyone bowed their heads, for the tragedy seemed inevitable in retrospect.

And maybe it was, Billy thought.

“For never was a story of more woe,” the prince decreed, “than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

And as the curtain fell and applause rose, Billy didn’t dare move and Olivia was still and silent, even if he could feel her so close to him. But still he remained as the cast whooped, not even flinching when his hand was almost touching hers.

Then, as suddenly as it all began, it was finally over.

-o-

They had to drag him back on stage for curtain call, and Billy flushed furiously as they shoved him front and center. He stood awkwardly, holding his hand back to honor his cast mates as the audience roared.

Then Olivia was by him, holding his hand. Under the harsh lights, she was smiling and for a moment, their eyes met and the applause deafened them both.

Backstage was a flurry of kisses and congratulations. Someone popped a bottle of champagne and in the melee, Billy lost track of Olivia. As he wove his way through, Michael caught him and pulled him aside. Casey and Rick were there, along with Tennet, who was positively beaming.

“I actually can’t say which I find more impressive,” he said. “Your performance on stage or on this mission. I suppose I’ll just call it a wash.”

Billy sighed and let the adrenaline mellow his frustrations. He nodded. “It was a good tip,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Nor us, you,” Tennet said congenially.

“Wonderful,” Casey said. “Now if we’re done basking in the blow of western brotherhood, do you think we could go? I think the nurse just tried to grope me.”

Rick made a face.

Michael rolled his eyes. He nodded toward Tennet. “Good working with you on this one,” he said. “Next time, though, you’re the one who needs to put on the show.”

Tennet beamed. “Sounds lovely,” he said. “I look forward to it.”

Michael glanced at Billy before ushering the other two away. When they were gone, Billy shifted from foot to foot, still feeling a little woozy as he tried to smile at the agent.

Tennet adjusted his suit coat and pressed his lips together. “You did surprise me, Collins,” he said after a moment.

“I do have that effect on people,” Billy said.

“I read your file,” Tennet continued. “And I must say, your file doesn’t do you justice.”

“Ah,” Billy said. “So the portrait of traitorous criminality failed to live up to expectations.”

“Not exactly,” Tennet said. “They said you couldn’t be trusted or relied upon. They called you inconsistent and unnecessarily unpredictable.”

Billy cocked his head.

Tennet shrugged. “But you were invaluable to this mission,” he said. “It seems like the motherland might be a lesser place without you.”

Billy chortled. “The motherland seems to disagree.”

“For now,” Tennet agreed. “But maybe someday that will change.”

Billy doubted that, but didn’t trust himself to speak.

With that, Tennet extended his hand. “Next time may we meet on equal ground,” he said.

Billy took the hand, gripping it firmly. “Next time.”

And with that, Tennet was gone and Billy was where he had been all along.

-o-

She found him in the dressing room. He was cleaning out the few possessions he’d accidentally left there, especially in the haste of his hospital trip the day prior.

In the doorway, she stood, looking at him uncertainly. She was in her street clothes now, her makeup rubbed off.

Billy threw the last of his dirty clothes in the back, leaving his costume where it lay on the bench. He would leave it behind, just like most things.

Smiling back at her, he kept the emotions at bay. He remembered what he’d said, but that didn’t change the part he had to play, now more than ever. “I’ll be out of your way in a jiff. Then back on to your life of glamor.”

“There’s no rush,” she said. Her voice was thick but not with antagonism.

Billy shrugged lightly, zipping his bag as he regarded her cautiously. “You just dread the thought of hiring my replacement,” he joked. “Though don’t count out the lad that plays Peter. He does bring remarkable depth to the role.”

She didn’t seem amused. “That’s not what I meant.”

Billy hesitated and straightened. “What? We’re in the subtext now?” he prompted. “Because last I checked, the play is over. The mission is over.” He took a breath, steeling himself. “We’re over.”

The words seemed to hit her hard and she closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, they were bright. “I know,” she said, and her voice wavered. She pressed her lips together in an effort to control her crying. “And that was so much easier when I thought you were a worthless scoundrel.”

Putting his bag down, Billy sighed. “I shouldn’t have told you,” he said. “I just didn’t want you to think that I had abandoned you through any fault of your own. I didn’t want you to think that you were less than perfect.”

She shook her head, nose scrunched up. “That’s not fair,” she said, and the frustration made her voice thin. “Because I’ve spent the better part of a decade hating you because I didn’t know how to admit to loving you any more.”

That was what he’d wanted to hear. What he’d secretly hoped for, pined for, yearned for. And now that it was spoken, he didn’t know if it was worth it. If it was worth knowing the truth when nothing could ever be between them.

It was an effort, but he smiled. “Then maybe I do believe in star-crossed lovers after all,” he mused.

She laughed, even as a tear slipped down her cheek. “And these are our misadventured piteous overthrows?”

“Most certainly,” he said. Then he hesitated. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, Billy,” she said. “So am I.”

The apologies were important; the problem was, of course, that that was all there was because there were still a few simple truths to be had. Billy was still a spy and Olivia was still an actress. She had one life; he had another. They could never be.

That was the truth. That was their tragedy. Putting the bag down, he stepped closer to her. “You look amazing,” he said.

She looked away, wiping at her nose.

He stepped closer still. “And you’re better than I remember,” he said, making sure she listened. “You’ll have everything you ever wanted.”

She shook her head, looking up at him earnestly. “Not everything.”

He sighed. “You’ll forget me,” he said, lifting his hand and letting it linger in her hair. “You’ll move on. Meet someone better.”

“O, teach me how I should forget to think,” she said.

Taking a breath, he looked for the words. They never came. Her fingers wrapped in his and she inched forward until they were touching. He leaned down, eyes closed and she tilted her head up. Her breath was warm and sweet and their lips almost met, but not quite.

Instead, he deflated and she melted, their foreheads meeting in the pain of it all.

Because they knew. They had known before this started. The inevitability, though, didn’t make it any less tragic. Billy didn’t want to face it any more than she did.

It was hard to say how long they stood there, breathing together, but when Billy came back to his senses, he swallowed raggedly and opened his eyes, lifting his head. “This is goodbye, then,” he said.

She looked up at him. “And parting is such sweet sorrow.”

“Ah,” he said, his lips brushing her forehead. “A thousand times, good night.”

She shook her head, suddenly defiant. “I don’t need it a thousand times,” she said. “I just need it this once.”

And with that, she pressed up into him again, catching him in a kiss he didn’t fight. In it, he saw who they might have been, maybe who they were supposed to be, but whom they would ultimately never get the chance to be.

When she pulled away, he didn’t stop her. She lingered for a moment, but she didn’t speak as she turned toward the door and walked away.

-o-

Billy met the rest of his team on the empty stage. The crew had gone home; the audience had long departed.

When he approached, they studied him. Their concern was evident, for his health – for everything.

Awkward, he made his way across until he was standing right in front of them.

Michael’s eye was critical. “We’ve been waiting,” he said.

“We almost got kicked out by security,” Rick added.

Casey scowled for good measure. “So where have you been?” he groused. “This mission is finally over.”

Billy smiled ruefully. “Pardon, good friends, my business was great,” he said, shrugging just a little. “And in such a case as mine a man may strain courtesy.”

“I’ll be sure you strain a lot more than that if we don’t get out of here,” Casey said. “Soon.”

Rick snorted. “It has been an interesting mission.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Just another one for the books,” he said.

“Aye,” Billy agreed.

“So we good?” Michael prompted.

Billy took a breath. He thought about Olivia packing her bags and heading off to the next show. It hurt, but it made him smile. That was what she was meant to do: to act, to perform; to help people escape into another world because this world had pains aplenty.

Just like this was what he was meant to do: to act, to perform; to help people stay safe even when they didn’t know they were in danger.

It wasn’t fair, maybe, but fate rarely was. But it had gotten him this far, and standing there among his mates, he thought that couldn’t be so bad.

“Aye,” he said again.

“Great,” Casey said.

Rick gestured. “Shall we?”

Billy inclined his head. “O, He, that hath the steerage of my course, direct my sail,” he said with all the strength he could muster. “On, lusty gentlemen!”

There was a resounding silence.

Casey frowned and Rick cocked his head. Michael said, “Does that mean yes?”

Billy groaned as he walked past them, off the stage and back to the life that called to him still.

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Locked Door

Absolutely amazing from top to bottom. I'm deeply impressed by the way you weave the lines and the plot between the Shakespearean drama and the drama of Billy's life.
Olivia Drummond is a lovely character and her interactions with Billy are painfully honest and I can really fear their heartache.
I love the ending, because while i ends on a good note it still is not quite a happy end, just like real life is.
Stunning work.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
billy considers

I have an especially strong affinity for this play, so playing with the lines throughout was a lot of fun for me. I thought to bring in Olivia to the mix after I had the idea of working with Billy and Shakespeare, and I was quite happy with how it turned out. It's a bit more romantic than I usually care to dabble with, but it seemed in character for Billy as we know him.

In all, thanks for taking the time to read!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: February 2nd, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Billy dreams

Epic fic! Very clever use of the play entwining with the plot. And the ending was entirely appropriate - sad but believable ...

*Applauds and throws flowers*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:25 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I had way more fun writing this fic than I probably should have. But I love this play and I love Billy, so it sort of came together seamlessly for me :)

Thanks so much!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 12:13 pm (UTC)
James and Cat


I love Casey's grumping about not being able to understand the actors and how Billy insists that the show must go on with them.

Yay for Olivia and Billy getting to kiss and it being them, not in character! Glad that Tennet appreciated Billy too.

I won't beg for a sequel to this - instead I'll just imagine a time a few years down the track, where circumstances have changed for these lovers and they can be together again *G*

////I think the nurse just tried to grope me.////

LOL. Great observations and interweaving of the play with Billy's life!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
billy considers

First, I always love when you use that icon :)

I won't beg for a sequel to this - instead I'll just imagine a time a few years down the track, where circumstances have changed for these lovers and they can be together again *G*

LOL, finally a fic you're NOT going to make me write! Though I imagine you probably could because part of me really does pine to give Billy a happy ending. His situation is not nearly as tragic as Stephen's of course, but there's still plenty there I'd like to rectify.

Thanks!

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