x_moonshine_x: (narnia ♥ peter king for now)
[personal profile] x_moonshine_x
Title: When the Lights Begin to Fade (3/10).
Author: [livejournal.com profile] cloudysky.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia.
Pairing: Ben Barnes/William Moseley.
Rating: R.
Warnings: Real person slash.
Word count: 2,087.
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

3.



‘God, this is gay... even for me.’

Ben looked up from what he was doing (sorting through fabric swatches) and perked an eyebrow. ‘I have absolutely no idea what you mean,’ he said, biting back a laugh. He held up a swatch of pink taffeta against his shirt. ‘What do you think of this one?’

A moment later, both he and Will fell into peals of laughter, and what they were supposed to be doing was soon forgotten.

‘It doesn’t matter what you say, I’m convinced this Kayla girl thinks she’s marrying you and not Jack,’ said Will, idly brushing a piece of fluff from his trouser leg.

‘How do you mean?’ Ben asked, shooting him a pointed look.

‘Well...’ the younger man continued. ‘Look at all this; it all seems a bit too high end for your Jack, doesn’t it? He was always a bit on the scruffy side whenever I saw him.’

‘Appearances can be deceiving, you know.’ Chuckling, Ben gave up entirely on what he was doing and dropped the book of swatches down onto the coffee table, reaching for his bottle of Coke instead. ‘Jack’s changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. She’s really brought something out in him.’

Will smiled, idly flicking through one of the wedding magazines on the table. ‘I can see that all right, who in their right mind would let their fiancé dress them in pink for their wedding day?’

OK, so Will had a point, and Ben couldn’t help the laughter that followed, once again. There was bringing out your feminine side, and then there was bringing out your feminine side, and all of this was beginning to verge on the ridiculous.

Jack had never really been one to care what anyone thought; he’d often have left the house in a pair of ripped jeans and a jumper that needed a good wash. But he didn’t care because that was who he was and if people didn’t like that, tough. Nowadays though, he spent the majority of his time in pristinely ironed shirts and chinos, overly polished brogues peeking out from underneath.

Pink shirts and ties though? Overkill; even for the new and improved Jack.

‘What exactly are they making you wear?’ asked Will suddenly – he’d clearly only just thought about this.

Ben blinked. ‘To be completely honest, I don’t actually know,’ he admitted. ‘Kayla hasn’t said anything to me about it yet. Although, I presume, it would have to be something similar to what Jack’s wearing.’

The snort of laughter that came from the other side of the living room made Ben jump slightly, but Will was quick to shake his head and throw his hands up in an apology. ‘I’m sorry,’ he spluttered. ‘But the thought of you in pink is just--' He didn’t finish, he couldn’t finish, he was laughing too hard. ‘God, are you really?’

‘Well, if you’re going to laugh, I’ll just give Kayla back this invite she wanted me to pass on,’ Ben supplied with a slight scowl in the younger man’s direction.

Will sobered immediately, his eyes lighting up. ‘I’m invited?’ he asked.

‘I know. I found it just as hard to believe as you.’ Shrugging his shoulders, Ben pulled out the invite and made to rip it in half. ‘But if you’re not going to take it seriously, I suppose I’ll get rid of this and tell Kayla you’re busy that day.’

Eyes narrowing, the younger man leapt forward and snatched the envelope from Ben’s outstretched hand. Ben let him have it, falling back into his seat and laughing softly as Will ripped it open feverishly. He couldn’t possibly have passed up the opportunity to tease; it was way too easy sometimes and he enjoyed it, perhaps a little too much.

‘Seeing as you’ve been helping out so much with the plans, I suppose Kayla thought you should come and see how it all turned out, take a look at your handiwork,’ said Ben, before flashing a mischievous grin. ‘Besides, you’ll look absolutely stunning in a pink shirt.’

Will stared at him for a long moment, and then tossed the invite without warning and dived across the coffee table, exclaiming with a laugh, ‘You complete and utter wanker.’

Ben wasn’t quick enough to avoid the blow and ended up getting smashed in the cheek by Will’s fist as he attempted to escape (or so he thought). As it turned out, the younger man had stumbled on the edge of the coffee table and gone bowling straight into him, practically head butting him in the face.

No one had ever claimed that Will was graceful in his actions.

Either way, it bloody well hurt... a lot.

‘If you’re quite done,’ Ben heard himself saying, scrambling back to his feet and straightening out his shirt with a gentle chuckle.

Will, who was now occupying the space he had vacated, slapped a hand to his mouth, holding back another explosion of laughter. ‘If you’re quite done?’ he repeated, words muffled behind his hand. ‘Since when did you start talking like--'

‘Like you?’ Ben questioned, cutting him off mid sentence and perking an eyebrow.

‘That was not what I was going to say,’ laughed Will.

‘No, I know.’ Ben flashed him a smile. ‘But it’s true though, you do talk like a bit of a toff sometimes. – well, you talk like a toff most of the time if I really think about it.’

‘It’s my accent, I can’t help it.’

With a shrug, Ben moved to sit on the edge of the coffee table directly in front of Will, and then leant forward, resting his arms on his thighs. ‘Are you going to come to the wedding then?’ he asked, completely changing the subject. ‘I could do with some company. And I know that my entire family will be there before you say it, but they’ll be too busy gushing all over Jack and his fantastic new wife to pay me an iota of attention. I’ll just be the guy who isn’t doing too well anymore and I don’t want to be subjected to where that might lead. Mum telling distant Aunts and Uncles how Ben’s fallen off the wagon or... something.’

Will looked at him for a long time until he said anything. ‘I don’t really have a choice, do I?’ he asked.

‘Not really.’ Ben laughed softly, and awkwardly. ‘But just think, free bar, free excuse to laugh at everyone.’

There was a collective moment of silence, and then Will shrugged his shoulders as he said reluctantly, ‘Fine, you’ve twisted my arm.’ He smiled. ‘I don’t really have to wear a pink shirt though, do I?’

‘If I have to wear a pink shirt, you’re bloody well wearing a pink shirt.’

‘Anyone would think it was the end of the world,’ Will chuckled. ‘No one’s going to question your masculinity, Ben.’

‘I wouldn’t be so sure about that,’ he responded, fixing the younger man with a playful stare. ‘Seeing as I’m taking you as my date.’

-

There was a collective moment of silence as Ben stepped from the fitting rooms. Three seconds later the laughter began and he immediately hid back behind the curtain.

‘No, come back!’ called Will, although his words were so thickly laced with mirth it was almost impossible to make anything out he said. ‘I’ll behave, I’m sorry, I really am sorry. You look great.’

When he re-emerged, Ben regarded the younger man with suspicion, one eyebrow raised as he peered at his own reflection for the first time. He could understand why Will had laughed, and he almost laughed himself. The pink shirt and cravat was throwing absolutely everything good about the outfit off, it didn’t matter what you did to try and hide it.

‘Well, now I know you’re lying,’ he said, casting a glance in Will’s direction and smiling.

Will grinned, walking up behind him, arms folded. ‘Would I lie to you?’

Looking back, be it fleetingly, Ben chuckled as he said, ‘Yes! Yes, I think you would.’ He shrugged, turning back to the mirror. ‘Go on then, what’s so great about this particular ensemble?’

There was a long pause, longer than Ben felt comfortable with, but soon the younger man stood behind him was laughing again. ‘Honestly?’ he queried and Ben nodded. ‘Your arse looks bloody fantastic in those trousers.’

‘And to anyone not likely to be looking at my arse?’

‘You’re wearing a pink shirt...’

Ben laughed and looked back to the mirror. ‘I can’t do anything about the pink shirt. Will you shut up about the pink shirt?’ he said, perking an eyebrow.

Holding his hands out in defence, although still chuckling away, Will said, ‘Just telling it how it is.’

Returning to the fitting rooms to change, deciding that Will’s opinion was likely to be the most honest one he’d ever get, Ben made up his mind to get the suit. There was nothing he could do about the pink shirt after all. It could have been worse, a lot worse, yesterday he’d seen what Jack was wearing for the wedding and had been in physical pain trying to stop himself from laughing so hard.

‘So,’ Ben said as he handed over his credit card to the cashier, ‘seeing as we’re all about giving opinions today, how do you fancy having a listen to my best man’s speech?’

Will smiled softly. ‘Are you sure you want an honest opinion on that one?’ he asked. ‘I can be pretty brutal, you know.’

Once he’d collected his things together and turned towards the door, Ben shrugged his shoulders and glanced in the younger man’s direction, amusement in his eyes. ‘Is that a promise?’ he teased. ‘I think I could probably do with a bit of brutality in my life.’

‘I think you could do with a lot of things,’ came the gentle response.

Looking at Will a moment as they made their way towards the car, Ben bit down anxiously on his lower lip. ‘Not sure I know what you mean,’ he said.

Will sighed, not in annoyance at least, but sighed all the same. ‘I’m not meaning to put my foot in it or anything, but you--’ he stopped, cutting himself short. ‘Where are all of your friend’s, or your girlfriend for that matter? Why are they not the ones stood here right now?’

It was, quite possibly, the one question Ben had been dreading and the one question he didn’t actually have an answer for. He didn’t know, he honestly didn’t know.

‘Can we not talk about that right now?’ Ben asked, hoping to save himself some dignity.

‘Sure.’ Apparently Will was easy over the matter. ‘But we have to talk about it someday. You’re always on your own and you’re always free to meet up and I know I’m in the exact same boat, but I’ve been living abroad and you haven’t. You know that isn’t right, Ben.’

Sighing very softly, Ben put everything away in the back of his car and shook his head. ‘I told you I was having a bad year so far, didn’t I?’

Will laughed – snorted – and murmured, ‘There’s bad, Ben, and then there’s downright ridiculous.’

‘And I’m verging on the ridiculous? Yeah, I get it, believe me. I don’t need to be told.’ Slamming the boot closed, he turned around to face the younger man, the hilarity of the situation written all over his face. ‘Things were shit. Things still are shit. I’m working on it though, I’ll get it all back again, and I do mean all of it.’

Ben could sense Will’s gaze on him before he even looked up, but he shrugged it off and slid into the front seat of the car. The younger man joined him shortly afterwards and, to begin with, they were both silent, letting Ben’s words hang in the air for a moment or two.

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to--’

‘You didn’t,’ Ben cut Will off, his eyes falling closed very briefly. ‘It’s me.’

The conversation ended there... abruptly.

It wouldn’t be the end of it, not by any stretch of the imagination, and Ben didn’t blame his friend for his concern. Will had always been that way inclined though – he wanted to help everyone. No problem was ever too big or too small. This time however, at least for a short while, Ben needed to figure things out alone and without any help from anyone else.
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