John and Ben Affleck - Unexpected Meeting
(players only, takes place the night of December 16)
"No, thank you," John says to the twentieth offer of champagne in the last hour. Charity parties are, he thinks, even more boring than non-charity parties. At least at the latter it's possible to let his hair down a little, even though he can't drink right now. But it's all talking and people saying things they *really* don't mean about paintings or his singing or whatever inane topic of conversation the other person comes up with. He's close to pleading a headache and making an early exit - after all, he's still technically convalescing. Still, he takes another walk around the room, hoping against hope to find someone who might actually be interested in talking about something substantial enough for him *not* to go up to Amanda Jefferson - the lady in charge of the evening - and act drawn and pale so he can just get out of here.
He doesn't see the man until he literally collides with him, trying to get a closer look at a painting that's for sale. He's always up for new artwork.
"Sorry," he says, turning and looking at the man he's just run into. "Crowded..." he says. And he's oddly grateful for that when he looks into the deep brown eyes.
Ben is so busy studying the piece of artwork that he isn't even aware of John until he feels him collide. He lets out a small grunt at the impact and turns just enough to tell whoever it is off until he meets a set of incredible blue eyes. "No problem." he says softly. His attention is now only on the man in front of him who takes his breath away. "It is really crowded here. A good showing even if most people are here for the free champagne and not to actually look at the art or support the charity."
Moments ago, his attention was completely on the artwork but now he would have to admit if only to himself that he is one of those people who could care less about the art or charity although his interest certainly isn't free alcohol either. "Of course, I was only joking if you're one of the people here for the champagne." he says with a smile. He barely keeps himself from trying to catch his own reflection in one of the numerous glass windows in front of the gallery to make sure he looks okay. Chances are the man in front of him has no interest in him anyway. Just in case though, he widens his smile and holds out a hand in greeting. "I'm Ben by the way. I hope you weren't hurt by our collision."
"Oh, I know. I swear half of them only turn up because this is where the car stops," John says, his thought censor leaving him suddenly as he takes Ben's hand. "I'm John, and I wasn't hurt at all. It's not like most of this crowd has any reason to care one way or another if the money they donate goes anywhere outside these walls. And no, I'm definitely not here for the champagne. Can't actually have it right now." He doesn't explain that further, in case this is just a momentary encounter. This guy... Ben, probably isn't even interested in why he can't have champagne.
He is... stunning, John thinks as he takes a moment to actually look at Ben. Tall, well-built. He lays a bet with himself that there's no way he could be gay. His luck just isn't that good. And if he is, he's probably in the business, which means for John that he might as well not be. Or he's not kinky. There has to be a hitch. Somewhere. Though the last one is probably the easiest to work around, it's not like John would bring out leather whips on the first meeting. Maybe the second.
Ben keeps hold of the hand offered despite knowing he really should let go. This man is gorgeous though and Ben hears just a touch of an accent that is truly intriguing. Trying to be discreet, he allows himself a quick look at the man's body and has to contain his sudden need for a hands on exploration. In an effort to distract himself, he tilts his head slightly to the side and asks as seriously as he can manage. "You can't have champagne and you've actually made it through this party with your sanity intact? I'm in serious awe of you now. I'm also intrigued wondering why you can't have champagne tonight. I must admit I had to drink a glass just to have the courage to walk into the gallery. The things I'll do to see good art I suppose, although I guess it is a hazard of my job."
He looks down and realizes he is still holding John's hand. He fights to keep his embarrassment in check while reluctantly letting the hand go. Silently mourning the loss of the skin on skin contact, Ben looks back up into the blue eyes he knows he'll spend tonight dreaming about. "I don't think I've seen you around the art world before. Are you an artist?" He asks softly.
"Well, I'm not sure how intact my sanity actually is, but that's nothing to do with the party," John replies. "And I can't drink alcohol because I'm on medication - not for insanity. I was in hospital for a while. But you don't really want to hear about that, I suppose. Nothing more boring than a hospital stay, except talking about it." He's trying to keep this light, seeing where things will go. "Of course, half the press had to speculate that it was for more than it was. Would you like to find somewhere a little quieter?" He leads Ben through the crowd, finding a quieter alcove far away from the main party.
"That's better," he says, sinking onto the couch. "I should remember not to stand for too long. You asked me before if I was an artist?" John smiles. "No. I'm an actor-slash-singer-slash-dancer. At least most of the time."
"Well, I hope you're feeling a lot better now you're out of the hospital." he says with a small smile. As much as he wants to know why John was in the hospital and every other detail about him, especially if Ben has any chance whatsoever with him, he doesn't want to pry into something John isn't comfortable discussing. "I'm sure though there are things much more boring then talking about hospital stays. I've certainly heard several things more boring since being here tonight. For example, I was completely bored and never wanted to know the mating habits of one woman's dog and yet she still felt it was important to tell me about it - in great detail." He grins and sits down on the couch as well.
"That was a lot of slashes. You sound like an incredibly busy person and also one I fear I should've recognized immediately." he says looking slightly worried. "If you are someone dreadfully famous and I was supposed to know you on sight, please forgive my ignorance. I can only blame spending way too much time absorbed in my own world and not enough in the world everyone else lives in. The famous thing has always seemed odd to me I must admit."
"Better is a relative term," John says. "But generally, yes. I collapsed from exhaustion, but of course the press got it into its head - what there is of it - that there must be a more sinister reason. Guess it's one of the pitfalls of being out in the business." He hopes that wasn't too unsubtle, but he thought it would help gauge the situation. "I'm not *terribly* famous," he adds. "I do a lot of stage work, and I've done a few TV series and movies, but I'm not exactly Willem Dafoe in terms of name recognition. And you know, the famous thing sometimes seems odd to those of us who are supposed to be living it."
It takes Ben a moment to go over the words in his head again to verify he really heard what he thought he did and that it wasn't just his imagination taking him where he wanted it to go. "It seems to me that you'd have to be very exhausted to collapse from it. I certainly hope you're taking better care of yourself now and ignoring whatever the press has to say. It's not like the majority of them even understand what being out entails. It's really something you have to experience to understand, don't you think? I certainly have never been able to explain what it's like to anyone. Then again, I'm also not well-known in anything but the art circles so perhaps it's different for me."
Ben was hoping his words were calm and collected instead of showing the glimmer of excitement that had flared to life when he heard the other man mention being out. After all, this still didn't mean Ben had a chance for anything more then conversation although Ben was certainly hoping. "I still feel as if I should know you. I can't imagine anyone as good looking as you being anything but well known." he smiles slightly as he puts his interest out on the table.
"I was, and a part of it was my own fault, I thought I was getting the flu or something and ignored it. Not a good idea. And yes, I'm taking care of myself now. Not working at all until I feel ready to again and as for the press, well, they can go... I don't think I'll say it."
He can't help a smile as he responds. "Being out is sometimes more difficult than not being out, but I could never have hidden it if I'd tried."
A flare of heat moves though his body when Ben says he's good-looking. "Well, I would have thought that someone as attractive as you are might have been in the business too. But I'm glad you aren't. I've sworn off actors and musicians."
He smiles at the compliment even as he looks down hoping to hide the slightest tinge of red coloring his face. He still has a problem taking a compliment even at his age. "Something tells me there is a story behind why you have sworn off actors and musicians." he says trying to divert attention away from himself. He really prefers to learn as much as he can about John who intrigues him more and more as they talk. "Usually people swear off the entire gender, not just specific occupations. Although it's good for the men of the world that you haven't given up on everyone."
"So why is it more difficult to be out then to hide who you are? And why don't you think you would've been able to hide it if you wanted to?" he asks hoping he isn't being too nosy.
"There is a story," John says, moving a little closer to Ben, smiling at the blush. "Most of my... well, I wouldn't even call them relationships but there doesn't seem to be a better word, have been with men I've worked with. And they stopped the moment the project did, regardless of whether I was interested in continuing. And I realised, for them, it was all a part of the glamour of the show, it wasn't anything to do with me. I want someone who will see me when he looks at me. Someone... real." John smiles. "Sound like a romantic, don't I?"
He considers Ben's words. "I feel like I couldn't have hidden because I don't want to, not really. I mean, there are so many closeted actors, and I don't see the point, truly. And it's not like I've hurt for work. Just got to be myself. But being out, I'm always going to be referred to as gay first, then whatever else is noteworthy about me second. And that can hurt a little."
"You talk as if being a romantic is a bad thing. For a lot of people it is a definite bonus to have someone they're interested in be a romantic. There are a lot of us out there who are looking for someone who wants something real, something beyond tricks and having to hide behind whatever masks we normally wear." Ben says with a welcoming smile. He doesn't move closer to John, but he makes it known that he has no problems with the other man moving closer to him. "If anything, I think it sounds like you're very enlightened and mature in realizing what you do and do not want. Besides, someone outside of your business can probably give you the support and grounding you need to go out into a world that expects you to be whatever your image is."
"I can see though how the first thing people mention about you is your being gay would be annoying at the very least." he nods as he contemplates what it could be like. "I know I'd hate it if everyone mentioned something that has nothing to do with how well I can do my job every time I walked into a new museum or gallery."
"Not bad so much as... unrealistic, you would think," John replies. He's really enjoying talking - or is it flirting? - with Ben. "So you wouldn't mind if someone... who might want to take you out was a romantic? If they were looking for something real?" He gives Ben his best smouldering look, the one that had brought quite a few audience members to their knees. "As for being mature, it seems that the hospital stay was worth something. That's when I figured a lot of this out. And I also figured that if people saw me as gay, I might as well not let that stop me being what I want to be."
Ben swallows hard and slowly licks his lips trying to recover at least a little from what the smouldering look has done to him. "No." he says softly. "I wouldn't mind at all if someone who might want to take me out was a romantic. If anything, I'd probably welcome it especially if they were looking for something real and not just a fling."
He shifts slightly on the couch, turning his body more towards John. "I didn't have a stay in a hospital to help me figure things out, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about my life the past couple of years. I know I'm past the point where picking someone up for a night of sex and nothing else makes me happy or fulfilled. Now I know I need someone who I can talk to and want to spend time with in and out of bed. I guess you could say I'm to the point where I don't want to accept anything less then someone who at least is willing to make some kind of commitment that would be right for both of us if the right person comes along." he smirks slightly. "Of course, this has made me wildly popular with most of the men I've met lately. It's always interesting to see just how fast they can run in the other direction when anyone even mentions the idea of commitment."
He takes a deep breath in and out after he finishes talking, figuring this will be a good indicator of if he has any chance with John or not. It's not like he's saying he wants a commitment immediately, but he does want it known it's a possibility and if that isn't something John would consider it's better to find out now then down the line when Ben has his emotions invested.
"Would you consider going out with me?" John asks, after a long - but not in the least awkward - pause. "I would very much like to get to know you better, Ben. I've really enjoyed talking with you here and I don't really want to stop."
"I'm not looking for a night of sex either - though I'm not against the idea of it if it happens," he smiles again. "Playing it by ear feels right. I'm not only interested in taking you to bed, Ben. I want to talk to you. I could just talk all night and I'd be happy."
"As for commitment, I can't say what the future will bring. But I'm not running away. That's all I have to give you right now." John waits, not realising he's holding his breath, for Ben's answers.
"I would love to go out with you." Ben smiles and releases a small sigh of relief. "I certainly welcome the chance to get to know you better and talk to you more. What I've learned so far has only piqued my interest to know more. And if we happen to end up doing more then talking, well I wouldn't have a problem with that in the least."
"I hope you don't think I'm expecting commitment right away, because I'm not." he says a little embarrassed that his words might have been taken that way. "It's more that I want to be sure that you or whoever I consider going out with would be willing to consider that step if it becomes appropriate in the future. Your not running away and the chance to get to know you is all I can ask for now." he gives another grin.
John smiles at the sigh of relief. "It's always good to get past that... is something happening? isn't it?" he says. "I was nervous myself, to be honest. Anywhere in mind to go? I mean, if you want to do this tonight and I'm not presuming things I shouldn't about plans you may have. And I think more than talking is always... possible."
"I feel the same about commitment. It's certainly not going to happen right away, but I am open to the possibility, if it feels right later."
"I haven't made any plans beyond this event tonight or for the next couple of days if you're too tired now. I certainly don't want to be the cause of your getting sick again." Ben says softly. "So whenever is good for you is fine with me. If you're too tired now, I can give you my number at the hotel and you can call me. Or if you feel up to it and you're done here, we could head out now. Although I have to admit, I really don't know what's around here that well. It's been awhile since I've spent more then a couple days in the area and I'm usually working when I'm here." he purposefully doesn't mention anymore about doing more then talking for the moment since he's afraid even talking about it would make him want it more then he already does.
John smiles at Ben's concern for him, but he thinks about how he's really feeling, beyond the rush of heat in his body. "I probably shouldn't go dancing," he says. "We could maybe have a quiet dinner somewhere, but to be very honest, I'm not hungry," for food, he adds to himself, feeling that that rather silly double entendre wasn't necessary right now. "I'd really like to just keep talking," he says. "We could..." he hesitates a little, wondering if it's a good idea, but his instincts have worked so far. "We could go to my place and talk more, it's quieter and more relaxing than this place." John realises that he truly doesn't want to leave it here.
"Dinner and dancing can definitely wait for another time." Ben agrees readily. The idea of talking and getting to know more about the other man is highly appealing to Ben. "And getting out of here would be good. I've seen a couple people glancing your way over here already so I don't think we're going to be left alone much longer if we stay."
He considers the idea of going to the home of someone he just met and wonders briefly if it's a good idea. His instincts are saying that there wouldn't be a problem though and he really does want to grab this opportunity so he nods in agreement. "Your place would be very nice, thank you." he smiled slightly. "Is this the part where I ask you if you have your car here or if you'd like me to drive?"
"That's exactly what I was thinking," John nods, intercepting another glance and frowning slightly, as if in pain. "I will go and make my excuses, then. Do you want to come with me, or would you prefer it to be separately? I have a driver and car, but I can send them away if you would like to drive. Either is fine for me." He's not at all worried about Ben coming to his home, though he supposes he should be. But everything just feels right.
"I'm fairly certain that I won't need to make my excuses to as many people as you will, but if you don't mind the tag-along I have no problem with it." he smiles. "Otherwise someone may decide to get your attention by kidnapping you or something. You do seem to be the center of a lot of peoples attention here."
He stands up and shrugs. "Your car and driver would be fine. Probably much better then my rental car in any case. I just wasn't sure with your being sick if you took a cab or not."
"I hadn't noticed," John says, smiling at Ben as he stands. "I must have been... distracted. In a way I very much wanted to be," he adds. "I'd like the company," he adds. "Not that I'd let anyone kidnap me. Unless you were into that." Oh, shit. Was that too much of a hint? He doesn't know if that's too indicative of kink or not, he wouldn't care if it were just another pick-up but he'd been planning to be more subtle with Ben.
"The charity provided the driver. I was making noises about not coming because I didn't know if I'd be up to driving. So, shall we go?"
Ben grins just a little wickedly. "You know, I think I could get used to being a distraction for a man as sexy as you are. We might have to work up to the kidnapping thing though, I'm not sure if you're up for it tonight and truthfully, I'd probably need some tips on how to best kidnap someone first. Maybe that can be on the agenda for the second or third date?" He was being completely truthful about needing the tips but was also trying to joke it off just in case John was just teasing.
"We should definitely go then so I can practice my distraction technique more." He winked, holding out a hand to assist John up. Of course there was no ulterior motive at all in his gesture he thought with a grin.
"You can distract me any time - except when I'm working," John says, grinning back at Ben. "As for the kidnapping..." he hesitates, but figures that Ben isn't running off. "That's probably one of those things we need to talk about when we're alone. But the second or third date sounds very doable."
He takes Ben's hand and stands up, deciding not to let him go as he drags him around to all the people he has to say goodbye to. Which is the most exhausting thing he's done so far. Even the greetings weren't so bad. But he's managing okay and says goodbye to Amanda last, telling her that it was a wonderful party. Not quite lying through his teeth, he's very glad he came here because meeting Ben was worth every second of boredom. Probably every second of boredom at every one of these parties.
"I'm definitely looking forward to seeing you work." Ben mutters right before John drags him around to say goodbye. There are only a few people he knew at the event and by following along he is able to say goodbye to them without distracting John whom Ben can tell is getting exhausted from having to deal with the crowd.
He spends the time watching John closely, having figured out long ago you can find out a lot about someone by just watching how they interact with others. Ben can tell John is if not exactly lying, using his acting skills to enhance how good of a time he had. Then again, he thinks, maybe they'll both look back on this party as one they're very glad they didn't miss if what is between them actually goes anywhere.
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