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21 April 2008 @ 06:42 pm
Letters I've Written Never Meaning to Send  
Title: Letters I’ve Written Never Meaning to Send
Author: skyblue_reverie
Fandom: RPS
Pairing: Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie
Rating: R, I guess
Word Count: Approximately 1500
Summary: Hugh reacts to Stephen’s account of their meeting
Author's Notes: You may want to read/re-read Chapter One, The Beginning first because this is Hugh’s reaction to that and it won’t make much sense if it isn’t fresh in your mind. Humble gratitude as always to my beta-love Essie, the best beta (and friend) a girl could ever hope for. Fact and fanon checking (and helpful feedback) provided by the goddess of all things Hugh and Stephen, notatracer. Encouragement, handholding, and feedback by rivers_bend, ennui_blue_lite and libertine_68. Apologies to The Moody Blues for stealing their line for the title.
Disclaimer: As far as I know, never happened. And I only wish they were mine.
Feedback: is like oxygen.




18 April 2008
Los Angeles, California, United States

Dear Stephen,

Here I am, writing another of these bloody endless letters to you that I will never work up the balls to post. I've got quite a collection going. I wonder if Jo will ever find the ones at our place in London. I wonder if I half hope she will. But that's neither here nor there. I've just finished reading the first chapter of your new manuscript - your version of our meeting, and I found that I had something to say about it:

You bastard. You bloody, buggering, smug, self-serving bastard.

Where do I begin? You said you fell in love with me when we met. Well, by the time we met, Stephen, I was already more than halfway in love with you.

I knew you by reputation, naturally - everybody did. You were famous, or perhaps infamous, at Cambridge - your wit, intelligence and charm, or your pomposity, pretention and self-centeredness, depending upon whom was asked. You always were divisive. And, of course, you were famous for your sex life. Everyone knew you were homosexual, of course - you were not only open about it, you positively flaunted it.

I admired that tremendously, you know - your ability to be who you were, what you were, and damn the consequences and anyone who didn't like it. That was before I found out that it was all an act, that you were as much a fraud as I am. But in those days, before I even knew you, I thought you hung the moon. I wanted to be you, and failing that, I wanted desperately to be close to you, to be with you, just to exist in your orbit.

You were enthralling. I had never seen anyone as talented as you, or as charismatic. You were effortlessly funny, and of course astoundingly brilliant. You were mysterious - there were rumors that you had been to prison for some unknown but doubtless exciting and romantic act, and there were at least a dozen stories circulating at any given time about what that act might have been. Even your background was provocative - a Jew, it was whispered, half in fascination and half with anti-Semitic contempt.

I, on the other hand, was and am as thoroughly average as it is possible to be, your excrutiatingly over-flattering descriptions of me notwithstanding. Average face, average body, average intelligence, average personality. I am the standard British everyman. I am a chameleon. I am nobody.

Enough maudlin self-pity - my point was that you were most emphatically not nobody. And I wanted just to be near you, to bask in your reflected radiance.

I managed, finally, to talk Emma into introducing us. She resisted, you know. I think she realised, even then, how I felt about you and was trying to protect me. Women, I firmly believe, are wiser than men. But eventually I convinced her to introduce us, as you said, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1980.

As soon as you looked at me I felt the charge between us. I had never been on the receiving end of such flatteringly intense interest before, and I admit it went straight to my head. Both of them, actually. You were interested in me - not just in my body, I thought, but in me. You laughed at all of my jokes, you approved of the books I'd read, you wanted to know my thoughts and opinions, and you actually took them seriously.

And equally obviously you wanted me. Jesus, Stephen, you were as hard as a brick and nearly as big. No one could've missed it.

I’d never been with a man before you, you know. Well, of course the odd bit of fooling around at school - that goes without saying. But to actually pick up or be picked up by another bloke at a party and slip into a cupboard for a bit of slap-and-tickle? Never. My father would have died, or killed me. He once caught me jerking off to a sporting magazine - some photograph of a shirtless rugby player or the like - and I’ve never been able to forget the look of utter disgust on his face. I knew then that however big a disappointment I was to him, I could fall still further in his opinion, and I dreaded that. From that point on, I limited my romantic attentions solely to women. That was until I met you, and it all went to hell.

I couldn’t have resisted you if I’d wanted, and I didn’t want to anyway. I was dying just to touch you, to have your hands on me. Our five minutes in that coat cupboard was the most sublime sexual experience of my young life. Do you even remember what you said to me as we stood there together, having just given each other a - for me, at least - mind-blowing orgasm? I was wondering if now was the point that we kissed, or whether I should just vow my undying devotion to you and be done with it. You said in a voice cool with disdain and rich with amusement, “Well, that wasn't altogether unpleasant.”

I thought I would vomit, or die of humiliation. Possibly both.

I don’t even remember how I got myself out of there, or anything about the rest of the night. I knew I promised myself that I would never put myself in that position again - to be hurt - to be humiliated - like that by you. That was only the first of countless promises that I have broken on account of you.

I also swore to myself that I would never make any effort to see you again, and that promise lasted about as long as the rest of them. I sought you out in your rooms the next day - just to see you, to see if maybe I wasn’t totally alone in how I was feeling.

You didn’t remember our encounter. Stephen, you didn’t even remember my name. Or so I thought, until I read your manuscript thirty years later, you complete and utter arsehole. Thankfully, I somehow managed to hang on to some shreds of dignity and we actually began a discussion. Thus was born our relationship - the most twisted, intense, rewarding, suffocating, confusing, overpowering, miraculous thing in my life, then or now.

Why couldn’t you have been honest with me? Why couldn’t you have admitted that you wanted me, that you - dare I say it - loved me? Why will you never make yourself even the slightest bit vulnerable, even to me, even now? You’d like to present our story as if I were the one to break your heart and walk away from you into the arms of a woman. Stephen, you always kept me out, always pushed me away. You wanted me to give everything of myself to you, and you wanted to give nothing real of yourself to me, nothing that could ever be used to hurt you. When I asked you if I should marry Jo, after I found out that she was pregnant, I was longing for you to say no, that I should stay with you always, that I could support Jo in her decision but that I didn’t have to tie myself to her for the rest of my life. Instead, you just looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and said you were sure that I’d do the right and proper thing. I often wonder, Stephen, how our lives would have been different if you had been able to tell me the truth, to tell me what you really wanted from me, needed from me, just once.

But I digress. Back to your manuscript.

You said that you had night after night of erotic dreams, each one different. I had only one dream, and it was the same each night. You looked at me with your expressive and anguished eyes, and asked me why. Why I could not admit what we had, why I would not be with you openly, why I cheated on you with an endless parade of girls, why I couldn’t just accept your devotion and be happy. I had no answers for you. I still don’t. But that dream tormented me, and I dreaded going to bed each night because I knew you would be there, waiting for me, asking why. You deserved so much more than I gave you. But damn it, I deserved more than you gave me too.

And now here we are, middle-aged, one of us balding, the other going soft round the middle, and still neither of us can acknowledge what we have. Still giving each other mind-blowing orgasms every chance we get and still not admitting what we are to each other, publicly or privately. Still hurting each other in so many ways, subtle and deep.

And yet, despite it all, I love you, you insufferable sodding git. Always have, always will. Bastard.

Yours Ever,
Hugh

 
 
Where am I?: the comfy couch
How do I feel?: happyhappy
 
 
 
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:22 am (UTC)
I actually think I've read Hugh saying something about how S's hair color intimidated him, because it was so dark. o_0
Sky: [stephen] kingdom pan animatedskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
See, this is where my prejudices show, because I tend to think that some Brits are kinda xenophobic and anti-Semitic. (Based on some actual experience, if not my own - my grandmother is a holocaust survivor who fled Austria and ended up in England and she feels quite bitter that the Brits didn't really want the Jews there, didn't help out more, and the help that they did give was quite grudging.) So I'm sure that colored the way I wrote that passage. Not that Americans can't be anti-semitic - my mom and her sibs grew up in the U.S. with the kids in their schools throwing rocks at them and calling them "Christ-killers".

Note to all my British LJ-friends: I'm sorry! I love England! I love Brits! Most particularly two lovely gents named Hugh and Stephen! I apologize for any offense caused by this comment. :)
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
>See, this is where my prejudices show, because I tend to think that some Brits are kinda xenophobic and anti-Semitic.

Well, that's the thing - anti-Semitism is a racial issue more than a religious one, at root. And if S would've got whispered about, it'd probably be because of his racial essence, not whether or not he went to the synagogue. (Plus, people would probably know for a fact that he didn't.)
Sky: [stephen] stubble SF borderskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
Yes, but those same people who are anti-Semitic are the very ones who don't know to make a distinction between race and religion and are amazed when you tell them that you're an agnostic Jew.

Hmmm, I suppose I could change that word to "background" instead of "religion" to make it more generic... would that work better?
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
I think it would. I mean, yes, race and religion used to be tightly intertwined in the popular conscience - let's not forget the Irish Catholic - but still, it *was* already late 70s - early 80s...
Sky: [stephen] top hatskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:40 am (UTC)
Done, and thanks for pushing me to think about that issue! :)
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)
No problem. I love psuhing people. And thinking. And pushing people to think. It's a Jewish thing, amirite? XD
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - axmxz on April 22nd, 2008 06:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 06:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
Janettepotatofiend on April 22nd, 2008 08:07 am (UTC)
That is such a weird view, and I've noted it in many Americans. I'm a Jewish Brit myself, and I've never ever experienced anti-Semitism here. This is a country where all the money and a lot of the politicians are Jewish. Jews have been here since the Conquest, and under special protection from the monarch since the days of Richard I. It is often said that these longstanding British Jews - Sephardim - resented the influx of European Jews at the end of the 19th century and onwards, but that was when my family turned up and it certainly wasn't the case for them. In England, when they ask for your ethnic origin, there isn't generally a separate box for Jews as there is for weird things like 'White Irish' - I would just tick 'British'.

Sorry - just my two cents; I didn't mean it to be an attack! The story is beautiful, as always; sad and sharp. I love your writing.
Sky: [stephen] bw thoughtfulskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 08:24 am (UTC)
It's all very interesting, and I'm thrilled to learn how many fellow jews there are on my f-list! :D Yeah, I'm sure that all of our individual perceptions are colored by our/our loved ones' individual experiences, causing us to generalize. Here in the U.S. we don't have a box for Jewish either - I just tick "caucasian" or "white". It sorta goes back to what we were discussing above regarding whether Judaism is a religion or an ethnicity. Well, it's both, and for some people it's only one or the other, but some people don't understand that. I guess the people who make the forms don't get it either. (And then of course there's half-and-halfs like me and my husband - he's half filipino, half-white - which is a whole nother issue not covered by the stupid ticky-boxes.)

I welcome your two cents, and as I said, I really don't want to generalize about all Brits. I'm sure that there, as here, there are some who are anti-Semitic and the majority are not.

It's interesting that Stephen's mom has said that when he was growing up it was a big secret that the family was Jewish - that she was told by her mother as a matter of course "don't tell anyone you're Jewish" just as she'd be told "brush your teeth before you go to bed." So clearly his family at least had some fear of anti-Semitism, whether or not that fear was well-founded.

Anyway, thanks so much for the thoughtful comment and the very kind compliments. I'm just as proud of the thoughtful comment conversations this story has inspired as I am of the story itself! :)
Janettepotatofiend on April 22nd, 2008 08:58 am (UTC)
Oh, I totally agree that the background of one's family will always, necessarily, colour our perceptions of these things - and I'm sure that many recent immigrant Jews, such as Stephen's mother's family, were very afraid of anti-Semitism, especially at that time, when Jews had to be on their guard against anti-Semitism everywhere. My Nanna , on the other hand, always told me that her ancestors came to Britain rather than anywhere else because their hero was Benjamin Disraeli, and they thought they must be safe in a country that would elect an ethnically Jewish Prime Minister. But, of course, they arrived long before WW2, so that would alter the whole caste of the situation.

I hate ticky boxes anyway. :) I'm half-and-half myself - father is, or was, an Anglican. I was rather enjoying the comment threads to this post, as well! But you're quite welcome for the compliments on your fic, as well as my interference into the debate. :)
Sky: [stephen] pink shirt lovelyskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
My Nanna , on the other hand, always told me that her ancestors came to Britain rather than anywhere else because their hero was Benjamin Disraeli, and they thought they must be safe in a country that would elect an ethnically Jewish Prime Minister.

Aww, that's sweet. And awesome. And yeah, I think it'll be a long time before the U.S. elects a Jewish president - looks like we might have a (half - and the issue about whether he is "genuinely" black or should be called "black" is a WHOLE other topic - for the record, I think self-identification is really what counts in those instances) black president or a female president first. *crosses fingers for democrat in November*

I'm half-and-half myself - father is, or was, an Anglican.

Eeee, me toooo! My mom's Jewish, my dad was raised Episcopalian (which I understand is the American version of C of E) but my mom's much more religious/spiritual than my dad, and I connect much more with the Jewish side of things than the Christian, although I myself am not religious at all.

Naw, it's not interference - I'm happy to have you joining in the discussion! :D
Clifta FrizzellClifta Frizzell on February 28th, 2016 05:52 am (UTC)
I would think that Stephen's mother was a child during WWII and Britain was in real danger of being invaded by the Nazis. Her parents probably wanted to play down the fact that they were jewish just in case the Nazis got in so they wouldn't be sent to a concentration camp.
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
>This is a country where all the money and a lot of the politicians are Jewish.

That... almost sounds like internalized anti-Semitism...
Janettepotatofiend on April 23rd, 2008 07:12 am (UTC)
It's patriotic pro-Semitism. I'm a Jew; I like it when my people are in charge for once.
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 23rd, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
But what makes you think they are so overwhelmingly in charge: things Jews say about themselves or things goys say about Jews?
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 23rd, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - axmxz on April 23rd, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 23rd, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)