|the_water_clock (the_water_clock) wrote,|
@ 2007-06-26 09:39 am UTC
|Entry tags:||[ canon: american idol ], [ pairing: ryan/simon ]|
Title: Stanley and Livingstone
Pairing: American Idol: Simon Cowell/Ryan Seacrest
Summary: In which Ryan and Simon realize that Africa changed everything. Set during Idol Gives Back week.
Length: 2000 words.
Disclaimer: People sort of own themselves, don't they? Which means this is a work of fiction.
Notes: Thank you to dana_kujan for the excellent beta! (I hate commas; could you tell?) I imagine that Ryan and Simon's African Honeymoon—you know, when Ryan said, "We learned how to have fun again"—had a lot to do with the copious amounts of Rymon we saw this year, and it was only now that I figured out how to write about it. Contains references to their fight over the Teri Hatcher mess, in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.
I am a white man in Africa
If I were to stay here
There'd be no one to save me.
-Neil Finn, "Dr. Livingstone" (Crowded House)
Ryan was in the booth, doing voiceovers for that night's news, when he glanced down at the vibrating Blackberry to see one of the 19E office numbers come up. He had no idea who—could be a PA asking him something unimportant, could be Bruce, could be anyone. So he checked the message, and it was Nigel, and Nigel calling on a Monday was an odd thing.
"Yeah, Ryan, phoning to see if you could come by after your program and check some rough cuts of the Africa packages. Give me a ring and let me know, won't you? Cheers thanks."
Odder still. Ryan wasn't a producer, didn't get to look at rough cuts in general, was lucky that Nigel trusted him to write his own voice over scripts. But the Africa packages would need almost no voice overs, he knew, because they'd done so many standups on site. There wouldn't be much more to say; the images spoke for themselves.
He called his dinner date, hoping he'd answer and not be in some meeting. "Hello," said that warm voice, in that tone he used for Ryan and Ryan only, that tone that said, "I always love it when you call, even when I don't."
"Nigel wants to see me tonight. Can we push back dinner a little?"
"He wanted to see me, too, actually," Simon replied. "I was going to text you."
"Oh." Simon wasn't a producer either—rather infamously—so that Nigel wanted to show him a rough cut made all of this that much stranger. "I think I'll be there around six, but I don't know how long he'll take."
"He told me to come by about seven."
Specifically after him, then. Ryan racked his brain for what this could possibly be about, as he and Simon hadn't given anything away while the cameras were rolling. They couldn't have; it wasn't as though Kenya was particularly gay-friendly. "Well."
"So, I'll see you there, and then I'll just wait for you, and you can give me a ride."
Simon was silent for a moment. "Yeah, let's do that. Jim drove me in, but I'll just ask him to drop off the convertible. But do you have anything to do while you wait?"
"Yeah, I need to write the countdown show, and that's all on the laptop anyway. I can use Nigel’s office."
"Right, well, I'll see you tonight then."
"Yeah." Ryan hung up, confirmed with Nigel, then went down to wardrobe still wondering what the hell was going on.
When Ryan got to 19E, Nigel was waiting for him in one of the editing closets. Strange to see him alone, not even a PA in the room, sitting in front of the Avid.
"Thanks so much for coming in," Nigel said, shaking his hand. "I know Mondays are busy for you, but I wanted you to see what we're showing on Wednesday, since you'll have your hands full the next two days getting ready for the show."
Ryan nodded. "Well, thanks, Nigel."
Nigel rolled the footage and Ryan saw Grauman again, strong little man, who'd made him think that if he had been abandoned with his sister, he'd have stepped up, too, and so he could see himself in Grauman immediately, deeply, and had had to call Meredith as soon as he got back.
"That's the package we'll use before Simon comes up on stage," Nigel said, and Ryan nodded. "This one is for later; I think you'll agree that you wouldn't want to have to follow it."
Ryan scowled slightly, confused, but turned back to the screen. And there was Emily, wonderful lady taking in all those children, and Simon doing his best British imperialist act, which American Ryan found simultaneously baffling and flat-out hilarious but probably more appropriate than anything he himself could manage. Atlanta had in no way prepared him for Africa; his black friends had longer lineages in the Georgia soil, even America, than he did. So about five seconds off the plane he went back to the way he'd been as an intern at sixteen, or on his first television show with Merv: gut instincts guiding him, senses honed until he was all reaction. He would process what had happened in the night, writing it all down by hand in a journal. But this time he had Simon, and so he wrote it all over Simon's body, too.
And then, oh, God. Emma.
Emma in that little room, and Simon storming out to collapse against the wall, and oh, hell, there was that second, that nanosecond of Ryan himself, after he left the room to look for Simon, turning his head, and—
"I know it's a bit cheesy, doing that in slo-mo," Nigel was saying, and his voice seemed far away, "but there isn't much footage there."
Ryan nodded absently…
When Simon ran out of the room, Ryan signaled the producer to keep the cameras on himself and not follow Simon. He apologized to Emma's friend, assured her that they'd help her, thanked her for her time, even got Emma to acknowledge his presence before leaving the tiny room, overheated and stuffy and smelling of death.
The cameras followed Ryan out, followed his eyes as he turned and saw Simon, squatting against the wall and crying. He told the cameras to turn off, shouted at them really—"I SAID CUT"—and made sure that red light was off. The producer said that everyone needed a break anyway, and walked the crew back to the trucks.
Ryan knelt down in the dirt in front of Simon. "Darlin'? Darlin', it's me and no one is watching but you have to look at me."
Simon raised his head, and Ryan could see the wet tracks against his dusty skin.
"It's okay, sweetheart. Tonight, I'll come in and get you, but it's not about us right now. We both have to put our masks on and help them. Once we're alone I'll rip that mask off and take you by the hand and lead you out of there. But right now you have to get it together. Do you hear me, darlin'? Tell me you hear me."
Simon nodded, sniffed, wiped his face with both hands, large and covering his cheeks and eyes.
Simon pulled his hands back down, resting them on his knees, just a centimeter from Ryan's, though they daren't touch. His eyes, which had been liquid just moments before, were back to being glittering little black diamonds. "I heard you."
"I'm in there with you, darlin'."
"Okay, c'mon," Ryan said, standing up and reaching out his hand to help him up, and Simon looked down at their hands as he stood before letting go quickly as he must. But Ryan kept the sense memory for the rest of the day, and he knew Simon did, too, for he kept his left hand balled in a fist, as though he still had Ryan's hand in his and was hanging on for dear life.
When Ryan looked up at the screen again, he saw Simon the British Imperialist taking command, this time of getting Ruth to the hospital. Nigel was saying, "We'll need your voice over for this bit, to say what happened to Ruth later," and Ryan nodded, sadly.
"The other bit," Nigel went on, "is the malaria piece, but that's just you in it." He looked at Ryan. "Are you all right with this?" he asked.
"Yeah, I mean, you were right. I wouldn't have wanted to be onstage after that package."
"No, we'll cut to Ellen, probably, after that. But Ryan," he continued, "do you think he'll be all right with this?"
Ryan had suspected that Nigel suspected, especially after that US Magazine quote, but now Ryan knew that he knew, and probably had known since the fight they'd had over Teri Hatcher, and wondered what Simon did or didn't tell him in Nigel's car that night. "Well, you're asking him later, aren't you?"
"Yes, but now I'm asking you."
Ryan looked up at the screen, and Nigel had scanned back to that moment, with Ryan looking over his shoulder and Simon in the distance. "I think so," Ryan answered, carefully. "You can't really tell what he's doing, anyway."
"Well, thanks much, Ryan," Nigel said, and they both stood. "I do appreciate it. Can I get a car for you?"
"No," Ryan said, and looked Nigel square in the eye. "Simon is driving us home after he sees this. I thought I'd wait for him in your office, if I can use your desk for a while? I have a script to write anyway."
Nigel stared back, and Ryan could see that he knew that Ryan knew he knew, and that Ryan knew he didn't give a damn thing away just then. "Perfectly fine," Nigel said. "Do you need an internet connection?"
"No, I downloaded everything I need," he said.
Simon was waiting outside the editing closet, and Ryan couldn't help but grab his hand as he walked past him, and hope that Simon could keep it with him.
Later, as Simon drove them home, Ryan said, "So, did you tell him, or did he work it out on his own?"
Simon smiled a little. "Nigel has known me for years," he said. "When he gave me that ride, that night you and I were fighting, I didn't have to tell him. He said he'd seen me pull a lot of shit through the years but he hoped I loved you, for all of our sakes, because if I didn't he'd personally see that I was killed, and he really didn't need to oversee a contract killing and a heartbroken host on top of two hit television shows."
Ryan nodded, wondering at Nigel's protectiveness of him. "So, he doesn't have a problem with it, apparently."
"Well, he wouldn't, would he?" Simon replied, grinning. "So, I said, yeah, I love Ryan, don't worry about it."
"Wait, so you told him before you told me?" Ryan asked.
"I didn't mean to," Simon replied. "I thought I'd already told you."
Ryan replied to this by holding up his left hand for Simon to talk to.
Ryan raised an eyebrow.
Simon's eyes were on the road, so he raised his right hand up to clasp Ryan's. And then he sang, "It's such a feeling that my love, I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide."
Ryan wanted to laugh at Simon's horrible singing, but he couldn't get a chuckle out because his throat was too tight with everything that he'd felt that evening, and with Simon even saying all of this out loud, so instead he swallowed and said, "'I Want to Hold Your Hand.' I always thought he said, 'I get high', not 'I can't hide.'"
And Simon did laugh, but oddly, laughter didn't break the mood, but made it even sweeter, and he said, "No, Ryan," in his impatient way, and Ryan was pleased.
The next day there were flowers in his office after the radio show, a little pot of African violets, and a card that said, "Thank you for holding my hand, on three continents no less," and beneath it a quote:
My love was infinite, if spring make it more.
Ryan googled it, then called Simon. "John Donne? I thought you didn't pay attention at school because you were too busy making trouble."
"I didn't," Simon said. "Nigel gave me the quote, last night."
"Oh, well, that's all right then," he said. "Thank you, they're really lovely."
"Well, it will be a rough week," Simon said.
"And we can't hold hands on stage. In fact, I don't even want you to look at me, while I'm up there."
"I won't be able to hold it together if you do. No more masks for me."
"Not even African ones?" Ryan asked, joking, only not really.
Simon laughed, too, but there was steel in his voice when he replied, "Not even African ones. Not any more."