x_moonshine_x: (narnia ♥ caspian bow down)
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Posting this now to get it out of the way. Got a busy weekend ahead of me (for once).

Title: When the Lights Begin to Fade (4/10).
Author: [livejournal.com profile] cloudysky.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia.
Pairing: Ben Barnes/William Moseley.
Rating: R.
Warnings: Real person slash.
Word count: 3,601.
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.
A/N: Apologies in advance for the cheese at the end lol.

When the Lights Begin to Fade

4.


‘Can I interest you in some pink champagne, sir?’

The mouthful of vol-au-vent Will had just eaten went absolutely everywhere, he couldn’t stop it no matter how hard he tried. Any chance of controlling his laughter went completely out of the window the moment the waiter spoke and he sprayed puff pastry all over Ben’s suit.

‘Oh my God, you’re drunk already!’ was the first thing that was said.

Will was quick to counter this accusation as he said, ‘I am not drunk. Not even slightly.’

The waiter was still stood there; holding his try aloft in what Will presumed was supposed to be an alluring manner, but he was failing, in epic proportions.

Ben was the one to throw him a lifeline and took two glasses, offering a smile as the young man raced away as quickly as his feet would carry him.

‘What was that?’ he asked, speaking in hushed tones.

‘I can’t help it; everything’s so bloody pink at this wedding,’ said Will. He bit down on his lip (painfully hard) to stop another laugh escaping and began to brush the pastry from Ben’s shoulder. ‘Sorry about that.’

‘Will you stop it already?’ Ben stepped suddenly from his reach. ‘It’s like having a wife.’

This time Will perked an eyebrow and gave in to his chuckles, plucking a glass from one of Ben’s hands. ‘I presume one of these is mine,’ he said softly. ‘Thanks, love.’

The comment earned him a glare, but he couldn’t find the strength to care, he was having too much fun teasing today and this was only the beginning.

As for the service earlier that day, everything had gone to plan. Everyone was wearing pink but the bride and Jack didn’t pass out while reciting his vows. Couldn’t grumble really, a wedding was a wedding and so far, this one had gone without a hitch.

They were currently at the reception venue preparing for the sit down meal. After that it would be back to wherever they could find to freshen up before, finally, the evening reception and disco kicked off that night. Will was looking forward to tonight more than anything, this afternoon would be nothing more than people complaining that their fish took too long to come and Ben’s dad getting drunk before they’d even started on the speeches. Not to mention the fact that he knew he was about to find himself left alone.

However, there was a tiny moment which Will had to admit he was looking forward to, and that was Ben’s speech as best man. He’d heard it once before (he’d been talked into it a fortnight ago) and there was no doubt that it had changed again by now, but he knew it would be worth a listen.

If there was one thing Will could never get bored of, it was listening to the sound of that man’s voice – not that he’d ever admit that to Ben of course, his head was big enough already – but it was wonderful.

‘Oh, Jack’s waving at me... I better go.’ Ben was right in his ear as he spoke, trying his hardest to be heard over the din of family and friends. ‘I think Kayla said you were at table six,’ he added.

‘Right, table six, check.’ Will closed his eyes a moment, the feel of Ben’s lips brushing his skin distracting him, but then he nodded and looked up in time to see the older man run off. He sighed, glanced toward table six and murmured, ‘Let’s hope they have a good sense of humour then...’

As it turned out, his fellow occupants at table six had more than a sense of humour and consisted of Kayla’s Aunt Susan, Uncle Michael and cousins Jane and Sarah, two of Jack’s friends, Bobbie and Laura and last, but definitely not least, one of Ben and Jack’s distant relatives by the name of Harvey. Will was pretty sure that wasn’t his actual name, but that’s what he insisted people call him by and who was he to argue?

He was asked the usual questions, from who he knew in the wedding party, down to what he did for a living. The questions about his career were the worst, but he did his best to dodge them and spin the tables around onto somebody else as soon as was humanly possible.

Four courses and three glasses of champagne later, and the speeches began. There were the usual tears and tantrums, jokes that should have been funny, but really weren’t, and then they came to Ben...

It took Will several minutes to realise that Laura had been nudging him throughout the whole thing and when he eventually glanced back to her as Ben finished speaking, she was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

‘You two,’ she started, cheeks stained with pink. ‘You’re together, aren’t you?’

Will stared. ‘Us?’ he questioned. ‘Me and Ben, you mean?’

Nodding, Laura picked up her drink and took a sip before adding, ‘You look shocked.’ She smiled. ‘He was looking your way every other minute while we were in church, clearly couldn’t help himself. How on earth can you not have noticed? I don’t think he could have been any more obvious if he’d tried.’

The thing was though, Will really hadn’t noticed, and being told that one of his oldest friends appeared to have a thing for him, by someone else entirely (especially someone he didn’t even know), came as a bit of a shock.

‘Oh God, you really had no idea did you?’ Laura’s eyes were wide.

‘I – no, I really didn’t,’ he said finally, his gaze now drawn back toward Ben.

Ben was in the middle of a conversation with Jack, their heads bent low as they talked, but somehow he still seemed to sense Will was looking his way and glanced up, flashing a soft smile across the room.

Will returned the smile, briefly, and then turned back to Laura, murmuring, ‘Thank you.’

By the time they left the hall, it was getting on for six and time was ticking rapidly away until they all had to be back down again for the disco. Will followed Laura and Bobbie out, happy to engage in idle some chitchat until he could gain Ben’s attention and drag the older man away from his family once more.

And it turned out they made for pretty decent conversation, especially Laura and her laughable theories about Ben, of which he had now heard many. But, in the end, it didn’t take too long for the Barnes family to disperse, and Ben came to him unprompted.

‘I thought I’d never escape,’ Ben said, laughing as he laid a hand gently to Will’s arm. ‘Oh well, the worst is over now, right?’

‘Don’t know about that, wouldn’t say it was over by a long shot.’ Smiling up at him, Will lifted a shoulder in a casual and playful shrug. ‘They haven’t seen your dancing yet, and we both know how that’s likely to turn out.’

Ben opened his mouth, clearly ready to protest, but then seemed to change his mind as a bright smile appeared on his face. ‘Sounds like a challenge to me!’ he said.

With a soft laugh, Will shook his head, not gracing that with a response, and started for the staircase. He figured he’d give the lifts a miss for now, everyone would be heading that way and he’d be stood there all night if he attempted it. Besides, his room was only on the second floor, there was no hardship in walking two flights of stairs and it was good exercise after all.

Several moments later though, he paused, realising that Ben hadn’t followed. ‘Coming?’ he asked.

Ben, who was now looking over at the dispersing crowd, appeared to shake himself out of some sort of daze before turning back to Will. ‘Sorry,’ he murmured. ‘Jack said he wanted me for something, but he seems to have run off again, so... Well, I guess not.’ He laughed lightly.

Taking several steps toward the older man and closing the gap between them slightly, Will bit down on his lip a second. ‘Is everything OK?’

‘Everything’s great.’ Ben smiled.

The smile seemed genuine enough, hesitation aside, so Will was happy to let it slide.

‘So,’ he said then, laughing. ‘Let me try this again. Are you coming?’

Ben nodded and fell into step with him a moment later, making light conversation as they made their way up the stairs. Mostly they talked about the wedding, the look on Jack’s face just after the vicar had pronounced them man and wife, and the way Auntie Sarah had managed to blow her nose rather dramatically at the very worst time.

It wasn’t until they reached Ben’s door that things became awkward. Will would have been quite happy to leave him there and say goodbye until later on (there was no sense in pushing anything), but just as he turned away, he felt Ben reach out and touch his arm and not five seconds later, he found himself stepping into his friend’s room.

‘I wanted to talk to you,’ said Ben, pushing the door to.

Will edged backwards very slowly, right until he found that he’d walked into the couch, so he sat down instead.

At first, they were both silent and Ben appeared to take this opportunity to shrug off his jacket and drape it (rather majestically) over the back of a chair. He paced the room a couple of times, folding and unfolding his arms as he went, his shoes scuffing against the carpet.

When he finally came to a standstill, the colour had drained from his face and Will was feeling anxious.

‘I’m just going to come out and say this, OK,’ murmured Ben, dropping his arms back down to his sides one final time. ‘I have to come out and say it.’

Will nodded and offered a smile of encouragement. ‘All right,’ he responded.

Ben’s eyes fell closed briefly and then, when he opened them again, he seemed to have gathered some kind of spirit from somewhere because he really did just come right out and say it.

‘I’m attracted to you,’ he said simply, bluntly. ‘I have been for a while now. I don’t know when it started, but I can’t stop fucking thinking about you anymore and it’s driving me crazy. This might be completely out of the blue... I don’t know. But I’m hoping to God this doesn’t freak you out, because it’s the last thing I want. I mean, you’re Will, you’re you, you’re--’

‘One of your closest friends right now,’ Will cut him off midsentence, getting back to his feet.

‘Exactly! I don’t want this, whatever it is, to fuck any of that up,’ Ben continued, slightly oblivious. ‘We’ve been getting on so well lately, getting on better than we ever have really, so this is... it’s inconvenient – really inconvenient. The timing of this is so incredibly bad, ridiculous even, and you’re probably thinking I’m a complete twat right now for even saying anything. I don’t know, maybe you don’t, and I hope you don’t.’ He stopped suddenly and looked away. ‘I’m going on a hell of a lot here so, you know, feel free to stop me at any moment so I can breathe or--’

This time Will stopped his babbling by placing a finger to his lips and the older man fell silent immediately. ‘Ben...’ he started softly. ‘Calm down and shut up.’

Will took his hand away again and smiled, and then without any further warning, leant in and pressed their lips together tenderly. And that was all he did to begin with, he wanted to let Ben take the reins, so told himself not to move another inch. He didn’t have to wait long for the older man to kiss him back though, and Ben’s sudden enthusiasm startled him somewhat.

But pressing himself closer, Will ignored it and brought his hands up to Ben’s chest, tugging gently on the fabric of his shirt in encouragement. He let the kiss deepen, slowly, his lips parting on a natural breath and his tongue exploring tentatively.

There was absolutely no reason to rush any of this and he knew that now.

When he finally pulled away to look at the man in front of him, he couldn’t help the soft laugh that escaped. Ben was stood there in some kind of idyllic daze, eyes still closed tight and his left eyebrow perked rather comically.

‘You can open your eyes now,’ said Will, grinning up at him. ‘Idiot.’

Ben’s eyes shot open as soon as he spoke, his cheeks flushing with colour. ‘Sorry,’ he laughed. ‘Just... yeah.’

‘Oh come on, I know I’m good, but that takes the biscuit.’ Will chuckled lightly, reaching a hand out toward the older man’s face and gently stroking Ben’s cheek with his fingertips.

Smiling softly, Ben’s eyes fell closed very briefly at Will’s touch, and then he sighed, bringing his own hand up and lacing their fingers together. ‘Took me by surprise I guess,’ he admitted. ‘Kind of the last thing I expected to happen today to be honest.’

Now that made no sense at all.

Will shook his head, loosing Ben’s hand slightly and pressing their fingertips together instead. ‘Why would think that?’

‘I don’t know.’ Ben hesitated as his gaze dropped down to their hands.

‘Don’t know much today, do you?’ With a smile, Will stepped back in close so that Ben was forced to look at him. ‘You honestly think I would have put up with all this chaos for just anyone? Because I wouldn’t, Ben, I really wouldn’t. I should have been out looking for work this past month, but instead I chose to spend it with you, helping with the plans of a wedding for a couple I don’t even know. Not well at least.’ He shrugged. ‘I did it so I had an excuse to spend time with you and if you haven’t figured that out by now... well; you really are more of an idiot than I first thought.’

Ben laughed, his gaze lifting to the ceiling a moment. ‘Thanks,’ he uttered.

‘Sorry, but it’s true,’ said Will.

‘I know...’

This time when Ben’s eyes met his, he didn’t seem quite as anxious and he smiled softly. It was the smile that Will had been waiting for, the one that lit up Ben’s entire face and told him exactly what he needed to know.

‘I suppose,’ Ben said, ‘I didn’t think you’d be interested in me now.’

‘Why?’ Will didn’t understand the logic behind that and shook his head.

‘Well, I’m not exactly in the prime of my youth anymore am I? My mother’s constantly berating me and telling me I need to settle down with a nice girl and it’s--’ Ben stopped and he sighed, heavily. ‘Why would you even want me?’

Will stared at him, agape, and then, before he started shouting out his response, reached out and cupped the older man’s face in his hand, kissing his lips once, twice, three times. ‘You really are silly, Ben Barnes,’ he whispered.

-

The champagne was flowing, the cake had been cut and the dance floor was filled with children sliding across it on their knees and ruining their clothes. Without a shadow of a doubt, the reception was in full swing and even Aunt Sarah was smiling (which was a very rare sight indeed).

‘Uncle Ben, Uncle Ben! Look at me! Look, look!’

Ben was currently being dragged by the sleeve into the middle of the madness, his cousin’s son leading the way like an excitable puppy. He also had no idea what he was supposed to be looking at seeing as all Charlie had done since reaching his destination was stand completely still on the spot.

‘Loooook!’

No, there was still nothing happening.

Ben risked a fleeting glance to Will (search for help and finding none) before turning his attention back to the matter in hand. ‘What Charlie?’ he asked, crouching down to the youngster’s level and flashing him a smile. ‘Tell me what I’m meant to be looking at.’

Charlie frowned, and then got on his tiptoes. ‘You’re not looking,’ he said defiantly.

‘I am looking.’ Ben was finding himself getting perplexed now. ‘See, I’m right here.’

‘No you’re not. You keep looking at him.’ The five year old stuck his hand out, pointing over in Will’s general direction, his mouth twisting into a deep frown. He didn’t come across as particularly happy that Ben’s attention was currently divided. ‘I haven’t seen you forever and ever and you won’t spend any time with me,’ he whined.

Exhaling very slowly, Ben reached out to hold Charlie’s face in his hands and fixed him with a playful stare. ‘Won’t spend any time with you?’ he repeated, chuckling softly. ‘I’ll show you won’t spend any time with you.’

Two seconds later he’d swept Charlie up into his arms and begun smothering his face in kisses, which were accepted with shrieks of delight and laughter.

By the time Ben had placed him back down on the floor again, he’d gained the attention of half the room at least and, from over by the buffet table, Will was smiling at him (beaming even).

He was about to head on over when he felt something tug on his trouser leg and glanced down to find Charlie’s younger sister, Lucy, clinging onto him. ‘Me now?’ she asked, her blue eyes wide as saucers with pre-emptive glee.

Ben gave in easily and not five minutes later, found himself surrounded by every child at the wedding and leading a conga around the room. He had no idea how it had even happened, but he didn’t care anymore, he was having way too much fun. Besides, the longer he kept this up, the more time he’d have later to spend with Will because he would have worn all the kids out.

By ten p.m., they’d all be asleep, no problem.

But of course, ten rolled around and he was still being pestered for dances from a few of the pre-teen girls. He didn’t have the heart to say no to them.

At eleven, he was finally able to call time on it and grabbed himself a drink (water, nothing more), collapsing into a chair off to the side of the dance floor. Will joined him moments later and laid his head on Ben’s shoulder. ‘Don’t think you’re done yet, Mr. Barnes,’ he whispered. ‘You still need to dance with me. You’re not getting out of that one, no way, no how.’

Ben smiled and turned his head just enough so that he could look Will in the eye. ‘Wouldn’t dream of it,’ he answered softly.

‘Good.’ Will grinned.

Ben had no idea how long they were sat like that, but he only realised that they hadn’t moved for quite sometime when his mother appeared out of nowhere to inform him that Jack and Kayla were leaving. They were both knocked back to reality quite abruptly, and if her sudden intrusion hadn’t done it, the look she gave them as she walked away certainly would have.

At first, he said nothing, but just as he was getting to his feet, he glanced to Will and he could see the apprehension written all over the younger man’s face.

‘It’ll be fine,’ murmured Ben. ‘No worries.’

Will nodded and stayed quiet, walking with him across the ballroom and to where Jack and Kayla were saying their goodbyes.

Quite a crowd had gathered, so it was easy to get lost in the sea of faces. Jack, however, was quick to spot them both and pulled Ben into a hug. Kayla joined him a moment later, gushing her thanks, while sobbing nosily into her handkerchief.

In fact, it all got a bit on the emotional side after that and Ben was glad when they finally left the room and his father bellowed, ‘Someone pass the whiskey!’ on his way to the bar.

Will took this opportunity to steal him away into a dark corner until the DJ decided to slow the pace of the music down. It took twenty minutes or so, but those twenty minutes weren’t wasted, not even slightly. They shared soft kisses and between the kisses, talked about where all of this left them after tonight. It wasn’t that Ben was worried about might happen when the drunken haze had lifted; he only wanted to make sure he wasn’t alone in how he felt.

He was pleased to find he wasn’t.

By the time they made it to the dance floor, an old Take That song was playing and Ben almost backed out again, right up until Will reached for his hand anyway and murmured soothingly, ‘Forget about them.’

Ben did as he was told and allowed himself to fall into Will’s embrace, the younger man’s head resting on his shoulder once more. He briefly noticed his mother looking in their direction, but blocked it out of his mind and let his eyes flutter closed, a soft smile curling onto his lips as he felt Will’s breath, warm against his neck.

‘Thank you...’whispered Will.

‘Thank you for what?’

‘For having the courage to say something today; we wouldn’t be here right now if you hadn’t.’

Smiling, Ben turned his head and let his lips brush against Will’s cheek. ‘You’re welcome...’ he said quietly. ‘And just so you know, I wouldn’t change it for the world.’
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