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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,

Where am I?: the comfy couch
How do I feel?: happyhappy
Sky: [fry & laurie] b&w facesskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:22 am (UTC)
Because it wouldn't make any difference, because he and Stephen have been hiding from each other so long that he can't break the habit now, because withholding his true reaction is his passive-aggressive way of getting revenge on Stephen for hurting him, because Stephen should know that this is the way it went down but his convenient memory has caused him to reconstruct the events differently and Hugh doesn't want to fight about it, but mostly, I think, because Hugh is terrified of what might happen if they were finally fully honest with each other and with themselves. I'm hoping that I can eventually get to that point in this series, but who knows. Those boys are so contrary. ;)
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
They are aren't they? It's all such a massive epic tragedy with them. The entirety of all pain inherent in human affective relationships borne by two stubborn, repressed fellows who are both the least and the most compatible people in the world...

((Not the real guys, naturally. The fictionalized ones. /disclaimer))
Sky: [stephen] hair ruffle animatedskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Not the real guys, naturally. The fictionalized ones. /disclaimer

Oh, naturally. *doffs tin hat for a moment*


*puts tin hat firmly back on*

They so need to listen to their fanboys & girls and we'd make them see how much they lurrrrve each other and neeeeed each other! :p
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
But if they had admitted things, and they *had* dealt with the repression, and they *had* overcome their respective tendencies to hide behind facades etc etc. - in short, if they had done all that from the start, all poetry would've been gone from their situation! Imagine 'Romeo and Juliet' where the families make their peace and co-organize the wedding in the first act! That'd be, like, good enough for a newspaper notice at most. And I bet the marriage itself would've really lasted all of six months, and then Romeo would've gone off with some other bint, and Juliet with some other bloke, and they'd only stay together for the sake of appearances...
Sky: [fry & laurie] legsskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
So, so true. They wouldn't be nearly so fascinating if they were two actor/comedians who were also romantic partners and had been for years, or if they were two actor/comedians who used to date but it didn't work out. The love denied thing is SO much more romantic... *le sigh*

But I'd be willing to forego the poetry of the situation if they could have a real life happy ending. :)
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 06:15 am (UTC)
Who said they didn't? I think they might've played it out better than they would have if they got together for good. Near constant heartache, thwarted desire and its occasional fulfillment, separation and reunion - this is all fuel for love... Whereas real life happy endings... ok, so there was this girl who lived in my dorm in college. And one day she told us how her parents met. It went something like this: "My mom lived in a village. My dad lived in a nearby village. He took her to a fair and bought her a red dress. Three days later, they married. They're celebrating twenty-three years together this year." Happy? Yes. Cute? Yes. Heart-warming? Yes. Romantic?... I woud say no.

I guess my question is, given that situation, with those two kinds of persons in those situations, could they have had a happy ending without somehow changing fundamentally?
Sky: [fry & laurie] legsskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
Well, I do think they would have to change. Change fundamentally? I dunno. I think people can change, but it isn't easy, and they have to really want to change, and they have to work at it. So could they do it? Maybe. I guess I'll find out, in my 'verse, if they can - but it might be different in your 'verse, or someone else's. It's all fun to explore, though.
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
My 'verse... you're going to laugh, but I'm actually writing a novel where the two protagonists are a sort of take on Fry and Laurie. Except they're Russian emigres with completely different life circumstances, and they meet in America. But the shy jock/smarmy charmer dynamic is there, as is the affection. And after thinking about their relationship for, like, a year, I finally decided that they are essentially not thwarted lovers but thwarted brothers.
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - axmxz on April 22nd, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
As to what happened if they were fully honest with each other - I get the feeling it might be a disaster for both of them. They'd probably lock in on each other to the extent of excluding everyone else of importance from their lives. What happens when you get your heart's overwhelming desire? Usually, you live to regret it. A lot.
Sky: [fry & laurie] whisperskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
Ack, now you're making me sad! But you may well be right. They are both so needy and intense that they'd probably tear each other apart. But I think if there's any hope for them, it's that now they're older and wiser and maybe they could gradually come to accept what they have and what they are without letting it consume them. *sniff*
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:42 am (UTC)
This is where one has to face the fact that "true love" and "eternal love" are usually not the same kind of love. Overwhelming and all-consuming love can be very destructive. In order for the couple to survive it intact, they'd have to mellow out or burn out.

This is, incidentally, why a close friendship can be so much more primal emotionally than a marriage. Imagine living with someone day in and day out, arguing over bills and how to arrange the furniture, and whether to get a pet, and whose turn it is to take the kids to the doctor. Resentment builds; a thousand irritants irritate; love deteriorates. Meanwhile, the best friend lives somewhere apart from all this and accepts you with open arms whenever you run crying to him. Even if you work with him - if the work is creative and brings you joy, this cements your relationship, giving you more and more every day to build on. The irritants of daily co-existence are not there or are minimized. And so your being with your spouse can effectively turn into a chore, whereas being with your best friend can be your soul's holiday.

Of course, this is in the ideal world... if one adds romance and all the other ambiguity into this, it could get mesy as hell.
Sky: [stephen] kingdom grin animatedskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
Definitely you're right that "eternal love" is NOT easy.

Imagine living with someone day in and day out, arguing over bills and how to arrange the furniture, and whether to get a pet, and whose turn it is to take the kids to the doctor.

Oh, trust me, I don't have to imagine this. I've been with my husband for twelve years. That's plenty of time for the new-love shine to wear off and the resentments to build on both sides. I do think that long-term relationships are possible, but definitely they are a ton of work and as you say, a close friendship (or even an extramarital romantic relationship) can seem so much better/easier because you can idealize it and not deal with the day-to-day crap.

So I can definitely see Hugh and Stephen idealizing their relationship and idealizing each other because they don't have to live with each other day in and day out, but I also think it's possible that if they were in an actual committed relationship they could make it work, with all the difficulty that involves. Of course, as you point out, it's equally likely that they'd burn out in a giant ball of emo-flame. :p

But the speculation sure is fun, no?
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
Oh, it's not a question for me whether a marriage can work or not. (I hope it can - only two years of married life under my belt so far, but I do like the boy. :) I'm sure it can. The question is, as *what*.

Think of what a marriage used to be, essentially: a merging of households. Or rather, the creation of a household with one field worker and one house-worker, and creation of kids to continue with both lines of work after the parents wear themselves out. There is nothing like romantic love in this! It isn't about a merging of bloody souls - it's practicality and companionship and *making do*. Surviving and procreating. Intense friendship, romantic friendship, and romantic love - all thes intense consuming emotions - they are something *else*. Perhaps not always, but a lot of the times. For every couple that married for love and *stayed* in love, there are hundreds who married for other reasons and stayed married (or didn't) for other reasons. Unplanned babies, financial hardship, need for community-approved sexual outlets - a score of things.

Households. They are... complicated. You know, men could establish them, way back in the days of the Byzantine enpire, I think. Oddly enough, it was like marriage in reverse: done to strangthen both men financially, but realy done because they wanted to live a life together. Whereas 'real' marriages prolly on the whole run the other way around: there's a whole lot of pretending that this is about love eternal, but in essence, it's a business deal.
Sky: [stephen] armskyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
Very, very interesting. I didn't know about the men setting up household in the Byzantine empire. That's oddly adorable. But yeah, real marriage, at least until very recently (and even sometimes now) is definitely a business transaction.

Oh, it's not a question for me whether a marriage can work or not...The question is, as *what*.

That's a very good question. I don't know the answer, and I'm sure it's different for everyone. But I'm enough of a romantic that I like to believe that for some people, true love can be eternal love. At least in fanfic. :p
Che Gorillaaxmxz on April 22nd, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
You know, I think this is actually a huge reason behind high divorce rates. People go into a marriage expecting fireworks for its entire duration. But fireworks are fun onlyt for the short time they last... beyond that, they just annoy you, give you a headache, befoul the atmosphere and make unbearable noise.

>But I'm enough of a romantic that I like to believe that for some people, true love can be eternal love. At least in fanfic. :p

See... okay, I think it can work like that. In the intensely loving sense. But it seems to works better in my head if the parties do no, in fact, live as lovers. Am I being Victorian? Bodily love being impure somehow?... I don't really want to be, but I think that's where I'm going... Hm.

The "old couple" comes to mind. The one that survived every peak and trough of their youth and middle age and are at a stage where they

a) feel no sexual desire for each other (I know that's not universally true in real life, but humor me),


b) absolutely cannot function without each other, having essentially merged over the course of their lives into a single being with two bodies.

That's where S and H are, in my mind. Or rather, no - this is where my idea of a Best Friendship is. Is that possible even?.. I think it might be. Russian men for some reason "fall" into friendships like that, like other people fall in love. It's a cultural thing. The Friend always comes before the Woman. Women comes and go; the Friend remains. And the same for females: The Girlfriend and the boys. And there might be intense passion and lust for the woman of the month, or boy of the year, but essentially, if one were to think rationally, *marriage* - stable, loving, utterly fulfilling keeping of a single household by two individuals - should be between two such friends and not between the two halves of such a friendship and their paramours.

I got it. Okay. Step one: find your soulmate. Step two, figure out if you two can live together in wedded bliss, genders and orientations matching up. Step three: if you *can't*, for whatever reason - if, for example, hypothetically, one of you is gay, the other straight, and you are both fellows - then one of you goes out, procreates, sets the *woman* up as a household, helps provide for the kids, pays friendly and conjugal visits - but lives with the Friend.

Man, sorting out human love is hard work. XD
(no subject) - skyblue_reverie on April 22nd, 2008 06:55 am (UTC) (Expand)