"Why do you look like that? What's wrong?"
"There was only one assassin last night, Noreat. No others were found. I had my guards search all over the palace and even through Highryn after I brought you back here, and their search came up empty."
I was the only target? I've only been in Geofek for a handful of weeks!"
"Which is probably why it is best for you to leave soon
Richard, laying along a bed with gauze wrapped around his shoulder, looked horror struck. His hand was currently lifted from the bed, clutching Thomas's own. The lights had been dimmed to simulate night time, a few spot lights gently shining where the candles were to help keep things visible. The night before, Richard had finished his scene with the dreaded Dream Eater, which in reality was nothing but a tennis ball on a stick. Now, he and Thomas were finishing up the first half of filming for the day. After this take, they would break for lunch (something that Richard was sorely grateful for, as he filmed through breakfast).
"Are you sure that leaving is my only choice?" he responded urgently.
"It is the only safe option at this point. Trust me when I say that I don't want you to leave, but if it will keep you safe
then I have to insist. I will not let you die." Thomas's face, ever perfectly on cue, was wrought with indecision and agony. The mere sight of it would have made Richard swoon, especially being so close to his own.
"I still owe you a treaty. We haven't even drawn up a draft. I promised you men for your conflict with Yman."
"Given the situation, a verbal agreement would satisfy me."
Normally in such a situation, Richard would focus everything he had on saying the lines and not getting lost in those dark, alluring eyes. He would do his damnedest to keep his heart from pounding so loud the boom above them could hear it. Today, he did the same, but for different reasons.
"But it would not satisfy me. Advisers are well versed in how to twist words and make a promise sound like a passing idea. They would find a way around our agreement. We have to have a treaty drawn up, and
" the young King dug around in a box on the floor of his mind for an idea, "you still owe me a walk along the river!"
It had been a week since the two returned to continue filming, and almost over a week and a half since Richard had found out a very ugly truth about the man he had so haphazardly fallen in love with. Where as before, Richard might have blindly believed that this graceful actor above him was flawless. Well... perhaps not that. No man was a saint. But he wouldn't have believed for a moment that this wonderful, talented man had ended his last marriage with an affair that lasted for almost all of it. In fact, if he had found out this information any other way, he may not have believed it still. But it was Thomas Clayborn himself, ever tactful, ever articulate Thomas, who had told him flat out that he had been unfaithful to his wife.
Doubt clouded Richard's mind ever since then. What else did he not know about Thomas? Almost everything, it seemed like. Was he a fool for falling for him? Yes, he supposed he was. What if, in his younger years, Thomas had been a playboy? What if he never regarded anyone else's feelings before? Thomas was a gorgeous man, and his allure was almost twice that of his beauty. Richard could only imagine what he might have looked like twenty five years ago. The sheer amount of admirers must have been overwhelming. He could just picture a young and vital Thomas, his hair still long, those lines on his face vanished... What color hair did he have, anyway? Black, Richard supposed. Yes. Thomas must have been the epitome of the "tall, dark and handsome" type that women fell head over heels for. He wondered just how many Thomas had kicked out of bed the next morning... Rather, how many he had sworn to call, before ever forgetting about them.
"I get the distinct feeling that I cannot convince you otherwise." There was a gentle relief in Thomas's voice that caused Richard to smile naturally, rather than as Noreat.
"You can talk until you're out of breath but I'm not leaving for another day."
"Then I won't waste my breath."
"Come over here already."
He watched as Thomas removed his ornate tunic. His eyes roamed that perfectly kept chest. Did he hate Thomas after knowing all this? He didn't know. After all, why should it even matter? Playboy or not, Thomas was straight as an arrow. It didn't matter if he cheated on a hundred wives. There would be no reason for Richard to worry about an unfaithful relationship that didn't even exist, was there? As directed, Richard let out a satisfied sigh and curled up into Thomas's arms. Despite the clouds in his mind, he found such solace with Thomas holding him like this. He silently wished that they could do this scene forever, and never have to return to the real world.
"How do you expect me to get any sleep when I get home without you?" He said quietly. Soon after, he quickly looked up, eyes wide and shocked at what he just said. He caught a glimpse of Thomas's smile, making his heart clench.
"I'm sorry," came his answer.
"You should be." With that, the two snuggled down close to each other, Richard melting into the man's chest.
"Cut! Break for lunch!"
Like a child being woken from a dream, Richard's world was taken from him as he and Thomas both sat up. Thankfully, he wore no makeup for this scene, so he wouldn't have to worry about messing up his lipstick during lunch. What an odd worry for a man. Shaking his head, he was given a robe to wear (he was only in his trousers) and was brightly told that the food was hot and ready. With an eager stomach, he made his way to the honey wagon. Thomas wasn't too far behind.
"Ah," said the older actor. "Roast beef sandwiches. Always an excellent choice." He watched through his peripheral as Thomas set himself up a plate. He admired and hated the fact that Thomas took this so lightly. After his confession, he made no changes to his behavior. He didn't know if it was his way of trying to make Richard feel comfortable, or if he really didn't care for others. A cold front came over him as he thought that. He wished for some kind of sign that it wasn't true. All he got was his usual smile, and those mysterious eyes. Why didn't he feel awkward in the slightest? Was it really not that big of a deal? It'd be different if this was something that happened years ago, but Thomas had just divorced a year ago. Surely he couldn't have gotten over it that quickly... This thought brought Richard back around to the idea that Thomas cared for no one, and he instantly became depressed.
He picked a bit of lettuce out of his sandwich, before taking a bite and turning to Thomas. The man was gone already, heading towards his trailer. The two usually ate lunch together in order to run lines and such, but lately, Thomas had taken to his trailer for food. When Richard asked, Thomas explained that he was in the middle of a good book. Understandably, there wasn't much time to read for pleasure on set, so Richard gave him his space. However, this also took away their special ten minutes or so before bed that they would be together, which brought Richard down even further. So after a week of eating alone (or at least without his co-star) Richard thought that maybe he could at least poke his head in and see what it was he was reading.
Plucking up the courage he'd need, Richard grabbed his food and shuffled himself to the trailer. He wondered if he should think of something to say. No, it'd be better if his words came naturally. So, with caution on his mind, he knocked on Thomas's door.
"Yes?" came the voice of his fellow actor. Richard pried the door open and stepped inside. Thomas was laid along his bed, his feet on top of one another. His sandwich sat on the bedside table, and in one hand he held an old paper back novel. Probably from the eighties, with the condition it was in. It almost surprised him to see in Thomas in such a relaxed position. He was always so noble and graceful... Seeing Richard step inside, Thomas smiled and put the book down, sitting up on the bed. "Hello Richard. Something I can help you with?"
Richard's mouth went dry. He cleared his throat and shifted from one foot to the other. "Hi," was all he could manage to spit out. Thomas kept his expectant smile. "Um..." He fumbled with his tongue. He hated how this man's stare managed to do such terrible things to him. As he continued to stumble, Thomas remained un-bothered. "It's... not my business," he finally said. That caught Thomas by surprise.
"What isn't?" he asked.
"Your... your marriage. It's not any of my business."
A silence sat between them before Thomas let out a small chuckle. "Did you come here just to say that?"
"N-no," Richard said, sheepishly. He felt himself getting smaller by the second. "It's just... well... I know you must have had your reasons."
"You-you aren't the type to just do something without really thinking..."
"Besides, I don't know the whole story anyway. I wasn't there."
Suddenly, a flash of frustration hit him. "Stop doing that!" he whined. How could he possibly get over this if Thomas kept that peaceful smile on his face? It flustered him just looking in his direction, so Richard stared at the floor now. "I'm sorry for butting in," he mumbled. "You shouldn't have had to tell me that information about yourself. It's not like... like it matters to me, right?" This time, Thomas said nothing. Richard hesitated before tilting his eyes upward, chancing a look at the man's face. It was blank now. His smile was gone. Richard continued. "It shouldn't matter to me what your love life is like. And it doesn't." That part was harder to say than he originally thought. "I just... thought I'd let you know that."
Thomas didn't say anything for a moment. The sounds of the set outside were so far away and hallowed now. It didn't feel like they were in reality anymore. They couldn't have been. The longer Richard awaited a reply, the dryer his mouth became, and the more anxiety he felt. He wished that Thomas would say something. Anything. Finally, that smile cracked on his wrinkled lips, and he stood.
"Still such a child," he said, turning to put his book away. "Very well, I appreciate it. Now go eat your lunch. I know how starved you must be." Just as he said it, Richard felt a very painful growl hit his stomach. It twisted it into knots, tormenting him for not eating his sandwich right away. He cleared his throat, ignoring it for now.
"Can I... eat it with you?" Thomas turned. "You're putting your book away. So um... you should be able to read with me for a little bit. Right?"
Thomas was taken off guard for a moment before laughing a bit. "Very well. The script's on the table." He gestured to his beside vanity. Quickly, as though he feared Thomas would change his mind, Richard grabbed Thomas's script and plopped himself on his pillows. His usual spot. Thomas sat on the other side of him, pulling his plate into his lap. Richard took a big bite of his own as he let Thomas decide which scene they would read for. That's when something else fell into thought. He fidgeted and took a breath.
"Thomas? I don't hate you. If that's what you're afraid of." Those words stopped him dead in his tracks, just before he was going to turn the page. "I really don't. There's plenty I don't know about you, but I know enough. You're not a bad person." There was a moment, as their eyes met, that Richard felt a sort of peaceful connection between the two. Odd, how his nerves began to settle during it. There was a silent understanding between the two. An urge welled within him, and without thinking it through, Richard scooted close and curled up into Thomas's side. It was warm and comfortable there, and he could hear the man's heartbeat. When he got no initial reaction from the actor, he was tempted to apologize and pull away. But soon after, that arm wrapped around Richard's shoulder, and Thomas settled his body into a much more comfortable position, the script held out for both of them.
"You are right on time tonight," came the voice of Zephyr, "thank goodness for small miracles."