x_moonshine_x: (narnia ♥ p/c epic times)
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Title: When the Lights Begin to Fade (2/10).
Author: [livejournal.com profile] cloudysky.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia.
Pairing: Ben Barnes/William Moseley.
Rating: R.
Warnings: Real person slash.
Word count: 2,538.
Summary: What happens when the bright lights of fame begin to fade? What are you really left with? One minute you’re living in the lap of luxury, and the next, you’re living out of a suitcase and sleeping on your parents couch because they were certain you were never coming back. It’s time for a reality check. Sometimes slotting back into the real world is even harder than you think it’s going to be. When fame no longer comes knocking, it’s time to figure out what really matters. And it’s never what you expect.
Previous Parts: Here.

When the Lights Begin to Fade


Oxford Street in mid January, it was Ben’s worst nightmare. Yet, here he was, traipsing the length and breadth of it, list firmly in hand.

He had made the mistake of mentioning in passing to Kayla, Jack’s fiancée, that he didn’t have all that much to do at the moment and had been sitting around a lot. It seemed he’d been playing right into her hands by saying that though and the seconds he did, she’d been on him like a rabid dog, waving a ridiculously long list in front of his face, insisting he help out with things that still needed doing for the wedding if he was bored.

Right now he was on the hunt for the small patisserie who were going to be in charge of making Jack and Kayla’s wedding cake (amongst other things). He’d been directed firstly to Oxford Circus, then to turn left down Oxford Street, take the next right, followed by a left, another left, and then finally the second right. It should have been straight in front of him, but that would have been too easy of course. He wasn’t having much luck so far and this was the third time he’d been forced to walk back to Oxford Street and start all over again.

Some days he really, really hated London.

‘OK,’ Ben said softly to himself. ‘Let’s try this again.’

Bringing the map up in front of his face, eyebrows knitting together in confusion as he scrutinised it, he began to slowly make his way down the street he presumed was the correct one.

He was sure he’d been down here once before, but what the hell!

Twenty minutes later and he was back on Oxford Circus, map screwed up into a ball and shoved forcefully into his jacket pocket. It was no good, he needed coffee before he tried again, he was getting absolutely nowhere here. Hopefully a caffeine hit would help.

Ben set off down Regent Street, pace ample and Starbucks firmly in his sights. Well, firmly in his thoughts at least, he had a bit of a walk before he got there, but anything to get out of the cold.

He’d just passed the entrance to Hamley’s when he felt someone’s hand touch his shoulder, a gentle tap tap that knocked him from his reverie. He took a moment, mentally preparing himself to turn around and come face-to-face with an old fan from years back, but instead, found himself staring at someone he hadn’t seen for an awful long time. In fact, he couldn’t even remember how long it had been.

‘Thought it was you.’ The man stood in front of him laughed very softly, his pale eyes lighting up as he held out a hand in greeting.

Ben said nothing; instead he shook his head in disbelief and dived forward to embrace the other man in a hug, ignoring the polite gesture. He felt absolutely bloody ridiculous, but he didn’t want to let go for anything right now. William Moseley, an old co-star, an almost forgotten friend. But not anymore, it didn’t matter how long it had been since they’d seen each other, Ben would have recognised that smile anywhere.

He decided not to mention the hair, which Will still had no idea what he was doing with... apparently.

When he finally forced himself to break away from the hug, Ben managed nothing but an awkward laugh as he said, ‘Hollywood looks good on you, Will.’

‘Yeah?’ Will smiled, clearly embarrassed as he idly adjusted the scarf around his neck. ‘Thanks.’

Ben hesitated, hands going to his pockets for something to do. ‘It’s been a while,’ he said. ‘When was the last time I saw you?’

‘I don’t know, five years maybe, give or take six months.’ Shrugging his shoulders, Will glanced very briefly over his shoulder, smiled, and then a moment later, a small child appeared beside him. The young boy smiled, pulling on Will’s sleeve, his blue eyes twinkling. Will, however, failed to notice and continued talking, ‘I’m back in the country now though, for good. We’ll have to catch up sometime, get a coffee, a beer, whatever you fancy.’

‘Great,’ Ben responded, although his attention was now firmly fixed upon the young boy clinging onto Will’s leg. There was absolutely no doubt that this boy was looking as confused as Ben felt. ‘I’m sure there’s plenty to catch up on...’ he added.

Will nodded, but then it seemed to suddenly dawn on him where Ben’s gaze had been drawn, and he chuckled. ‘He’s not mine,’ he said simply. ‘If that’s what you were thinking. There isn’t quite that much to catch up on, believe me.’

‘Oh. No. I wasn’t--' Ben stopped himself mid sentence and brought a hand to his forehead, suddenly quite embarrassed.

Apparently it didn’t go unnoticed and Will began to laugh, laughter that the young boy beside him immediately joined in with, even if he didn’t know why. Soon Ben found himself falling in with them, moment of stupidity forgotten in an instant.

‘Actually...’ Will started, but his attention wavered as a blonde woman stepped up beside him.

It didn’t take Ben long to recognise the young woman as Will’s sister, Daisy, who was quite obviously the parent in this case. She reached down for the young boy’s hand (who, Ben quickly learnt, was called Simon) and pulled him towards her and out of Will’s way.

‘We could go for a coffee now, if you’re not too busy,’ continued Will finally, the relief written all over his face. ‘I was only tagging along on their shopping trip for something to do.’

From the corner of his eye, Ben noticed Daisy’s eyebrow rise and a second later she murmured playfully, ‘Oh, that’s right, Will, you go and abandon us the moment someone more interesting comes along. Of course we don’t mind.’

Will smiled, turning to her briefly. ‘He’s a cheaper date,’ he said.

‘Who said I was cheap?’ Ben chuckled, his eyebrows lifting as Will looked back.

‘Touché!’ Grinning, Daisy slapped Will playfully across the shoulder, and then added, ‘See you later, and don’t forget dinner tonight, OK?’

It took her a minute or so to prise her son away from Will once and for all, but when she had finally achieved the impossible, she offered a wave and dragged the youngster into the depths of Hamley’s, leaving them stood there in silence on the pavement. What happened next was entirely up to them it seemed... and Ben had no idea where to even start.

‘So...’ Will gestured down the street, his mouth curling up into a warm smile. ‘Coffee then?’

‘Coffee,’ repeated Ben.

Turning on his heel, Will falling into step beside him, Ben led the way down Regent Street and toward the closest Starbucks. They didn’t really say much on their walk there, too busy weaving their way in and out of the crowds and trying to avoid any unnecessary attention, but the silence was comfortable, even after all this time, so Ben didn’t mind.

Fifteen minutes later they had finally managed to settle down at a table in the corner of the coffee shop, drinks in front of them and the conversation flowing easily.

It turned out that Will had been back in the country for a good two weeks now; he was busy job hunting and decorating the flat he was renting. Funnily enough, it all sounded very familiar, but Ben held back the urge to laugh.

‘And what about you?’ asked Will, smiling softly as he placed his mug down.

Ben shrugged a shoulder. ‘I think I’ll just say that it’s definitely been better, and can we leave it at that?’ he responded, mirroring the smile. ‘Last year wasn’t the best and, so far, this one isn’t shaping up much better.’

‘Oh yes, because you can always judge how an entire year’s going to go by what you achieve in the first two weeks...’

‘Well... exactly.’ Laughing, Ben narrowed his eyes at the younger man.

His gaze shifting elsewhere now, settling abruptly on his hands, Will continued to reel off words of wisdom for a minute or two before he finally added, ‘So what if you have no money, life’s what you make it. If you’re going to sit and whinge then it’s not going to work out too well, no, but if you get out there and carry on, you never know what could happen.’

Ben stared at Will for several moments, and then shook his head in disbelief. ‘Since when did you get so wise?’

‘Since forever, you just never had the time of day to listen before,’ said Will honestly, although he was clearly trying to fight a smile.

‘Clearly I was an idiot then,’ Ben responded.

‘You won’t hear any arguments from me.’

OK, he’d set himself up for a fall there, but just this once he was quite happy to let it pass and instead, slipped deep into thought and into silence.

When he eventually brought himself back to the conversation it came even easier than before and they were soon ordering refills, Will helping him figure out where on earth this patisserie was supposed to be. It turned out that Will couldn’t make head nor tails of the directions either, but felt sure that between the two of them they would be able track it down before closing time came around.

That came as a small comfort to Ben at the very least.

In all honesty, once they’d set off, Ben realised that he was happy to have the company. Doing all of this alone had started to get to him. He’d been over thinking things that didn’t need over thinking and in retaliation, allowed himself to get complacent when there was no need to. His brother was getting married, everything was going right for him, but that didn’t mean that things wouldn’t pick up for Ben himself again (and perhaps even sooner than he expected).

‘Down here maybe?’

Will was pointing down a small cobbled street that led off to the left of them. It was pretty dark and dim, but there appeared to be a faint and welcoming glow in the windows lining either side, which gave Ben hope.

‘Doesn’t hurt to try,’ he said, striding past Will and ducking down into the passageway.

Sure enough the cobbled pavements were lined with shops – the proper old fashioned kind, with lead windows and steep sloping walls. They continued down the winding street slowly, looking in each window and checking every sign before, eventually, coming across the place that Ben had been searching all afternoon for.

Easy when you knew how.

Will flashed him a smile and chuckled. ‘See,’ he said. ‘Whatever would you do without me?’

With a shake of his head, Ben pushed the younger man playfully out of the way and opened the door, a little bell ringing somewhere in the back of the shop as he did so. He raised an eyebrow mischievously, and then made his way inside with Will following after him, the sweet scent of sugar invading their nostrils the further they went.

He had to admit, this place had looked like nothing from the outside, but appearances were most definitely deceiving in this case as the shop went back for miles.

‘Impressive...’ Will commented softly, his voice no louder than a whisper.

‘Can’t argue with that,’ Ben responded, looking back to him and smiling brightly.

They walked around, taking everything in, until they were joined by a young woman a couple of minutes later. ‘Sorry,’ she huffed, coming to a standstill beside the counter. ‘Didn’t hear you come in, we’re so busy at the moment.’ She laughed, moving to brush a piece of hair from her eyes and somehow managing to smudge icing sugar all over her face in the process.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ said Ben, taking charge of the situation. ‘We were in no rush.’

She nodded and her smile seemed genuine as she asked, ‘So, how can I help you today?’

‘I’ve been sent by my soon to be sister-in-law to see how her cake’s coming along,’ he explained. ‘Kayla Smith. You may have it down as the Barnes wedding, so Jack and Kayla...?’

‘Right.’ Another nod and she pulled out a small filing box, beginning to rifle through it. ‘So you would be?’ she added a moment later, not bothering to look up.

He hesitated and glanced to Will, who stifled a small laugh, almost daring him to just come out and say it.

‘Ben,’ he said finally, taking a step closer to the counter. ‘Ben Barnes. The groom’s brother.’

The girl stopped her flicking immediately and her gaze lifted from the filing box, settling on his face. Realisation dawned pretty quickly and within seconds her entire face flushed beetroot red. ‘Of course you are,’ she murmured, and then delved back into her box, pulling out a sheet of paper pronto. ‘Here we go!’

Looking to Will, Ben couldn’t help but laugh this time, but the girl at the counter was too ashamed now to even notice their amusement.

‘We actually made a start on the cake last night,’ she said then, smiling brightly. ‘Would you like to come through and have a look, see how it’s coming along? I don’t believe Kayla had decided on a definite design, so I’m sure your input would be greatly appreciated.’

‘Sure, we’d love to have a look,’ Ben answered, his mouth curling up into an impish grin. He glanced at Will and perked an eyebrow. ‘Looks like you’re going to get a chance to show off your artistic flair, Will. I know how you love that.’

Will’s eyes narrowed as they followed the girl through to the kitchen. ‘I may not have seen you for five years, but that doesn’t mean I won’t hit you the first chance I get,’ he said quietly.

Chuckling, Ben stopped walking very briefly, long enough to nudge the younger man, and then fell into step with the shop assistant they’d been following just as she reached the back room. The cake stood tall and proud before them, white icing that was lightly brushed with silver. They’d done a good job so far, without a doubt. It was impressive, really impressive, and knowing that they weren’t even done yet was a fact Ben simply couldn’t get his head around.

‘So what exactly did you need input on?’ he questioned when she gestured for them both to come closer.

The girl smiled, clearly over her earlier embarrassment and showing a new found confidence instead, something you could almost call cocky. ‘Eric will let you know,’ she said. ‘But I believe he hasn’t started on the decoration yet.’

‘Really?!’ Ben didn’t mean to sound so shocked, but he couldn’t help himself and even laughed at his own stupidity when all eyes were suddenly on him.

‘I take it you like it then?’ she asked, smile now plastered permanently onto her face.

He was going to say something else but Will, however, got there first and was the one to respond, grinning like a complete fool as he said, ‘Whatever would give you that impression?’
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