Title: Friends (Beware! RPS!) Part 4 of "Season 3"
Author: Janet F. Caires-Lesgold
Feedback to: jfc@freeshell.org
Archive: Mailing list archives only--others please ask permission!
Category: Angst
Timeframe: Sometime after the filming of "Asylum"
Rating: R for language and suggestions of m/m sexual interaction
Pairing: Michael/Tom, Tom/Ian Somerhalder implied
Summary: A third wheel

DISCLAIMER: This story is just for the entertainment of my online friends and myself, not for any profit. It is pure fantasy and does not intend to reflect on the actual behavior or personalities of the people named herein. Please do not sue me for my little bit of fun!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Season 3" is a multi-story arc of my Quantum Fics series, which can be found elsewhere on this archive - Enjoy!

DEDICATION: For Tiff, who convinced me

COPYRIGHT: (C) Janet F. Caires-Lesgold, May 11, 2004, jfc@freeshell.org

Please don't redistribute or alter this story in any way without the express permission of the author. Thank you very much.



They're friends.

That's what Tom said: "I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine."

You came on set and there he was, ready to work, but staying too close to Tom most of the time. They were so comfortable together, like something had gone on between them that you didn't know about.

When did this happen? You want to take him aside and ask him, but your filming schedules have conflicted ever since the first of the year. He's never on the same soundstage you are, and just forget free time--it's nuts around here.

And if you were to speak to him about this, what the fuck would you say? "Hey, Tommy! I thought I knew you. You've been keeping secrets while I wasn't looking. Tell me more about this guy. How long have you been friends? What has he done that I'd know? Is he better in bed than I am?"

No. You can't do that. You don't know for sure that he's sleeping with the guy. But man, they've got some kind of connection. Sure, Tom's married, but he's not dead, right?

Married. There goes every last justification for your jealousy out the window. He's got a wife, so he could never be yours unconditionally anyway. Why does it feel like she just doesn't matter, at least not in this equation?

You have liked Tom for years, and even loved him for part of that time, which you had thought was mutual. You haven't been apart for that long. Picking up where you left off should be easy. But now here's this other person in his life and in his eyes. Is he also in his heart? Have you lost touch with him that much? Could he be in love with this stranger?

Have the two of them had adventures together? Are there inside jokes between them that nobody else gets? Doesn't everybody else see what's going on here, or are they just used to Tommy like that with guys?

Suspicions aside, all you know for sure is that they can look like they're the only two people in the room when they're in a crowd. No matter how far apart they are, they might as well be touching.

And now you've gotten a script for an upcoming episode, and you see you're doomed. You've got a scene alone with this guy in the mansion. Swell.

Wait. There's somebody at the door of your trailer. No time to dwell on what you've lost at the moment. Gotta go be nice.

"Hello?" you call as you open the door. Shit! It's him! The guy! Now what? "Mike! What's up?"

"Hey, Ian. You busy?"

"No--just looking over my new script. You wanna come in?"

He does, and you find him a place to sit. "So, do you play the piano?" he asks even before you can sit beside him.


Snatching the sheaf of paper out of your hand, he starts flipping to a particular page. "There--you're supposed to play classical piano. Do you?"

You settle back and read the text a little more closely. "Hmmm... I can usually crank out a decent 'Chopsticks', but that's about it. That's a plot point, isn't it?"

Mike's smile seems designed to cheer you up and calm you down all at once. "Don't panic. They'll edit somebody in. They even make it look like I can play pool when necessary." He waits, like you're supposed to pick up on a joke or something, but it goes right over your head. "Sorry. I guess it's true. Nobody sees my movies." A completely fake pout crosses his face, chased away quickly by a joking grin. "It's okay. I'm just yanking your chain."

You smile back, feeling a lot less threatened by this bald charmer than you had just a moment ago. "I think I could tell," you assure him.

"Tom was right about you," he says. If it had been a baseball, his statement would have knocked your cap off.

"He talked about me? He... What did he... Why?" As you listen to yourself, you can tell that none of that was what you wanted to ask.

The smile is almost the same, but the sudden gentleness in his eyes is surprising. "He said you were old friends. You did some modeling together or something?"


"It sounded like you had a grand time way back when. He told me you worked well together, and that you were good at what you did."

You try to control every muscle of your face, but feel yourself blush anyway. Has Tom gone into great detail about the little things you can do with your tongue? Just how dead are you?

He reaches out and grips your arm, sliding his hand carefully along your sleeve from shoulder to elbow. "He loved you then."

Tempted to go looking behind the batter's box for your head, you stare into his soft blue eyes. Then you see what you needed to know painted there with a subtle but unmistakable brush. "You love him now, don't you?"

"How could I not?" he chuckles, looking happily guilty. "Tom is just the other side of perfect. If only he had the grace to be obnoxious, right?"

The absurdity of his words coaxes a snort out of you. "At least he doesn't object to that quality in his friends and lovers..."

He laughs loudly, and his eyes twinkle conspiratorially. "Lucky us."

You can't help picturing this man in Tom's bed, under him, wrapped around him, and getting fucked through the mattress just like he used to do to you. "Lucky you, maybe," you reply, not caring if you sound bitter.

Quickly, he suppresses his humor and touches your back comfortingly. "He wouldn't shut up about you, bub. I could tell he was really excited to work with you again. If you thought there might still be something there..." His words fade, but the rest of his question hangs in the air anyway.

Time and distance and circumstance make the echo of a huge door closing firmly in your head. With a weird mixture of envy and contentment, you insist, "Don't be ridiculous. I've seen you two. He's yours. It's been too long since he was mine." His eyes still contain a little regret for making you uncomfortable, so you pat his hand reassuringly. "Make him happy. He deserves it."

Finally, he is speechless. You just stare at each other until his hesitant smile sparks one of your own. "I will. I'll take good care of him for you," he promises with a hopeful expression.

Smiling broadly, you answer, "I know--I have faith in you."

"Thanks, man," he adds, setting aside the papers in his lap and opening his arms to you.

"Thank you," you answer, giving him a sincere hug.

With a case of the warm fuzzies, you settle back and organize the script before you.

"Bet my 'Chopsticks' beats the socks off of yours," he murmurs threateningly, his sidelong glance bursting into a hearty snicker.

"Bet it does," you agree. At least Tom has excellent taste in friends.



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