x_moonshine_x: (narnia ♥ peter king for now)
[personal profile] x_moonshine_x
Title: When the Lights Begin to Fade (6/10).
Author: [livejournal.com profile] cloudysky.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia.
Pairing: Ben Barnes/William Moseley.
Rating: R.
Warnings: Real person slash.
Word count: 2,325.
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

6.



‘Come in, sit down, I need to speak to you.’

Ben’s mother hadn’t sounded quite so serious since he’d been seventeen and she’d realised he was failing his maths A Level. It was worrying really, she’d always been very relaxed about everything, she was a psychologist, and she had to take everything in her stride – as did his father. But this, whatever this was, didn’t sound particularly good. He’d already been anxious coming here following their last meeting, but this was making things considerably worse.

Once Ben had done as instructed and she’d shut the door, joining him on the couch, he cleared his throat and asked, ‘What’s wrong?’

She didn’t respond at first, took a moment to smooth out her skirt and fluff up a cushion instead. But when she did look at him, he took notice. Whatever she was about to say, she was not going to say lightly. ‘Ben,’ she began softly, ‘you know that we love you, but are you entirely sure about the relationship you’re currently pursuing?’

He perked an eyebrow, that wasn’t what he’d expected. ‘With Will?’ he questioned, just to clarify.

His mother nodded, but said no more.

‘Of course I’m sure,’ he said. You could clearly hear the disbelief in his voice and he hoped that it registered with her. ‘Why on earth wouldn’t I be?’

‘You have been known to be a little impulsive sometimes.’ She smiled, almost amused – but he couldn’t bring himself to return the smile, there was nothing amusing about what she was saying to him.

‘Impulsive?’ repeated Ben. ‘You think my relationship with Will is me being impulsive?’

‘Ben, it completely understandable after what Becky--'

‘No!’ This time he cut across her, not giving her the chance to finish. ‘You have no idea what you’re saying. We’re talking about someone I’ve known for ten years here; this isn’t just a whim and it has absolutely nothing to do with Becky. It’s not as though Will’s a random guy I met in a club or--’ He stopped abruptly and laughed, realisation suddenly dawning. ‘No, of course, that’s not the problem, is it? The problem is that I’m in a relationship with a man. You wouldn’t be sat here now trying to lecture me if I were with a woman.’

She shook her head, hiding her face away in her hands a moment and he knew immediately that he’d hit the nail on the head, even though she’d flat-out deny it. ‘Now you know perfectly well we have no problems with...’ she trailed off, not able to finish the sentence, which made him think differently. ‘We think you’re making a mistake jumping in the deep end so soon.’

‘I’m thirty-five years old; you lost any right you had to tell me what to do over fifteen years ago!’ Ben answered, his voice saddening as he went on. ‘This isn’t something you get a say on. I’ve moved out again, I’m not bringing him here and, if I still were, you should be happy for me – for us.’

‘It’s not that we’re not happy for you, Ben. We’re concerned, that’s all,’ she told him, apparently not listening to a word he was saying. ‘Things aren’t particularly good for you at the moment and this probably won’t help matters. It’s too soon; you’re only just getting back on your feet, and this is not the best way to go about starting over.’

‘You know what.’ He sighed, getting back to his feet and heading towards the door, done with the conversation. ‘I don’t think it will change a damn thing, especially not make it any worse. If you can’t get it into your prejudiced head that I’m happy with another man, then it’s your problem, not mine.’

She seemed offended that he’d even said that, but he wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction.

‘So, if you’re done,’ Ben continued, heading for the door, ‘I’m going to go now and live my life how I want to and not how I’m told... if that’s all right with you, that is.’ His last few words dripped with sarcasm, but he couldn’t help it and he figured she deserved everything she got right now. ‘I’m so sorry that I’m not Jack,’ he added then, leaving her stood there completely dumbfounded.

It was mean, it was completely uncalled for, but he couldn’t keep it in anymore.

He’d always been sure his parents would stand by him through anything. It seemed now though that he’d found their one weakness. Despite knowing about his sexuality, they had never truly wanted him to settle down with a man. Have a bit of fun, play the field, sure. But as for settling down and playing house, they could only approve of him doing that with a woman. If there was one thing he’d never thought his parents were, it was narrow-minded, and now he had to accept that they were, plain and simple.

Well, his mother at the very least, but approaching his father would take time and careful execution. His mother had always been the one to wear the trousers in their particular relationship.

Ben went straight back to the flat after seeing his mother. He let himself in, made a cup of tea, and curled up in the middle of the bed with a book. Lying back, head buried amongst the pillows, he inhaled deeply, the faint scent of Will’s aftershave lingering on the fabric and making him smile. The younger man wouldn’t be home for another couple of hours, but he needed that comfortable familiarity above all else right now.

That was something he loved about being with Will, he could finally be himself. He could relax completely, bring down all those walls he’d built up over the years and just... be. They complimented each other. Something it had taken them a decade to realise. But it was worth it, it was all so, so worth it.

By the time Will let himself in, Ben was flat out on his back and fast asleep. Arguing with his mother earlier had knocked him for six and he’d been out like a light within twenty minutes of getting through the door, his book balanced haphazardly on his chest as he dozed. He hadn’t planned to sleep, but between the combination of next door’s TV and the book he was reading (which turned out wasn’t as gripping as he’d hoped), he’d been lulled into the land of nod with almost no choice in the matter.

He found himself awoken by the feel of Will’s fingers running through his hair, voice soft in his ear. ‘You’re so beautiful when you sleep,’ he was saying, ‘so beautiful...’

It was strange to hear those words, especially from someone who had been nothing more than a friend for so many years. Ben cherished them though and feigned sleep for a little while longer, enjoying the attention and affection coming from the younger man. He felt bad for doing so, but how could anyone resist a free compliment or two?

When he eventually opened his eyes, Will was lying alongside him, still watching. He smiled brightly upon realising Ben was awake. ‘Hi,’ he whispered. ‘I didn’t wake you, did I?’

Ben shook his head, figuring for now he’d keep the moment alive.

‘Good,’ answered Will. ‘I wanted to talk to you about something, but I thought I’d leave you to sleep a while. You obviously needed it; even me slamming the door on my way in didn’t wake you up.’

Closing his eyes, briefly, Ben hitched in a sharp breath at Will’s opening statement. He wanted to talk. Ben had heard those words one time too many already today. Will was definitely the last person he wanted to be uttering them to him again. ‘About what?’ he asked, tone warily.

Apparently Will noticed his trepidation and laughed, reaching out to gently touch his arm as he said, ‘Nothing bad, honestly.’

‘OK...’ Letting the breath he’d been holding go again, Ben allowed himself to relax and to join in with the laughter. ‘What is it then?’

‘Would you find it really weird if I got a job in a bar?’

Now that, was the very last question he’d expected to be asked.

‘A job in a bar?’ Ben repeated, his eyebrows knitting together in confusion. ‘Why would you--?’

‘Let me finish.’ Will chuckled, getting up from the bed and turning his attention to the task of making them both tea instead. ‘I’ll lay my cards on the table here and be blunt. I don’t have a job, you don’t have a job, neither of us has any real money and in case you haven’t realised it already, this place – no matter how grotty it is – isn’t going to pay for itself. So, I thought, for the time-being taking a job in a bar wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing I could do.’

It took a moment or two for what Will was saying to sink in and Ben soon found himself laughing. ‘I really can’t imagine you working behind a bar pulling pints,’ he admitted.

Will shot him a pointed look. ‘Well, if you’d care to do it instead, go ahead,’ he said. ‘Someone needs to earn some money round here and I--'

‘I didn’t mean it like that,’ Ben cut him off before he got carried away, and then offered a soft smile. ‘I wasn’t being down on the idea. I completely agree, we need to be doing something or we’re going to end up in an even worse situation than we are now and I’m sure that’s the last thing either of us wants.’

‘Well, exactly...’

Ben chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip for a moment, and then said, ‘I should try and find something, too.’ He shrugged, the thought of getting an ordinary job terrified him a little, but if that was what they needed to do. ‘Any ideas as to what?’

With a soft chuckle, Will came back over and handed him a mug of tea. ‘You want an honest answer to that?’ he asked.

‘Of course I do.’ Ben nodded, blowing into his mug to cool the liquid a little.

‘OK, well, I have absolutely no idea then.’

He’d asked for an honest answer.

‘Brilliant,’ said Ben with a light laugh. ‘We’re totally screwed if I have anything to do with it then.’

Will reached out, patting his arm sympathetically, although he was still laughing. ‘Maybe you could do something for your parents at their office, some admin work or... Well, I don’t know what else they’d need doing, but it’s an idea, right?’

Wishing he could enthuse about this idea, Ben merely nodded, but let a breath go slowly. There would be no point in keeping what had happened from Will, he’d already been keeping enough secrets.

‘It would be an absolutely great idea if my parents were still speaking to me. But, unfortunately, they’re not. My mother made it quite clear earlier on today that she wanted nothing more to do with me for as long as we’re together because (and I am paraphrasing here, but I’m pretty sure it’s what she meant) she thinks that I’ve lost my mind.’ He sighed. ‘Apparently having her oldest son settling down with a man wasn’t part of her plan.’

For a moment there was silence, but as Ben closed his eyes he felt Will’s arm slide around his shoulders and he was pulled close. ‘I’m sorry,’ he murmured. ‘You don’t deserve that.’

‘Nothing I can do about it though, is there?’ said Ben quietly. ‘And there is no way I’m giving you up.’

Will laughed; Ben felt the soft exhale of breath against his neck. ‘You’re sweet,’ he whispered. ‘But this is your family we’re talking about here and you can’t just accept that as read. Not that I’m saying you give me up, because obviously that’s the last thing I’d want, too, but you can’t let her get away with that.’

Pulling away from the embrace, eyes fluttering open, Ben sat back enough so he could look Will in the eye. ‘What do you suggest I do then?’ he asked.

‘Fight,’ said Will simply. ‘You need to fight.’

‘Easier said than done, my mother is a stubborn woman at the best of times, but when she’s really stuck on something... Well, it’s not going to change, no matter how hard I fight it.’ Ben shook his head in disbelief. ‘I still can’t believe this is happening, it’s the last thing I ever imagined she wanted to talk to me about today. She’s always been so proud of all my achievements and this is a complete turn around – a complete turn around.’

‘Don’t worry, you’ve got me by your side, we’ll talk her round.’

Ben sighed; realising now was probably the right moment to tell Will about Becky, she’d been featured in his argument with his mother after all. ‘She still sore I’m not with my ex girlfriend, too. They were very close,’ he said. ‘But she refuses to accept that it was Becky’s fault. She’s the one who left me, not the other way round. She dumped me the night I was going to propose. It doesn’t matter though how many times I tell Mum this, she’s still convinced I didn’t do enough to keep her in my life. I’m not so good at fighting for things, I tend to adopt the run and hide technique.’

‘Like I said though, Ben, you have me now, so no more running and definitely no hiding.’ Will smiled. ‘We do this together.’

Will’s confidence was touching, it really was, but Ben knew it was fruitless. There was absolutely no way they would be able to change his mother’s mind on their relationship. No, he had to choose now, it was his family or Will, and he knew exactly where he felt safest.
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