A love story for the ages! An intimate confession! An epic quest! And happily ever after on the horizon ...
Jason Mirelli loves Colby Kent. And Colby loves him. They’ve told the world. And Colby’s recovered from injury, so they’re back at work and back on set. Jason just might have everything he’s ever dreamed of, with a serious leading role, an epic love story, and Colby safe and happy in his arms -- but they only have two weeks of filming to go. He’s afraid of the dream falling apart, and he knows Colby has a secret to confess -- one that could transform both the ending of their movie and their future together.
Colby never got around to telling Jason his final secret before his accident on set. Now that he’s recovered, he plans to -- he wants to share his writing and his silent script doctor work with the man he loves. Besides, he’s rewritten this script to give their characters a proper happy ending. But he’s nervous about making changes to a classic novel, and he wants the author’s approval.
Colby’s hoping to seek out the famously reclusive author in question, but first he’ll need to trust Jason with this last piece of himself. If he can, he and Jason might finally find their happily-ever-after both on screen and off -- for their characters and for themselves.
Jason steadied Colby and himself as best he could. His heart hadn’t calmed down yet. Slamming into his ribs -- seeing Colby come running through a doorway, eyes wide, breath quick -- hearing Colby ask for help –
But Colby’s eyes were bright. Energized, eager, holiday-morning blue. Not afraid. And Colby’s hand on his arm was exuberant, not frightened.
He registered the script pages in Colby’s other hand. He searched Colby’s face.
“I’ve saved them, you see,” Colby was saying, voice tripping all over itself in excitement, accent rippling and delighted. “I’ve worked it out, how to find the happy ending, and I’m very sorry you’ll have to lose an arm, but that won’t be too dreadful, we’ll sort it out, and then Stephen can come home and they can both sail away together, but if I’m going to change anything that drastic I do want to explain why, so that’s why I need your help, but anyway, here, tell me whether you think it’s all right --”
“You’re okay,” Jason said.
“Oh.” Colby blinked at him, then smiled. Will’s dressing gown slid off one shoulder; Jason almost moved to tug it back up, but Colby already was, unselfconsciously graceful. “Yes. Very much okay.”
“You ... saved Will and Stephen?” He took script pages as Colby thrust them at him. “You changed the ending?”
“Yes, I had to -- I couldn’t let them be tragic -- yes, go on, read it --”
Serenity, tactfully, had wandered down the antique hallway and was pretending to be texting; she was glancing their way a lot, though. Night fell like a slowing carousel around them, through tall curtain-framed windows full of stars.
Jason kept an arm around Colby, who believed in happy endings. Found the beginning of the new scenes, in Colby’s flowing penmanship.
After a minute he said, “Holy shit yes.”
“Yes, I thought so too, did you like the bit when Stephen --”
“Hang on, I’m not done --” It was good. It was so good. He wanted to leap headlong into Colby’s scribbled scenes, to plunge into this imagined historical future. He could see it all; he could see himself playing it out, knowing exactly the quaking weight in Stephen’s steps toward Will’s townhouse, so fearful and so hopeful, reunion only a possibility until it became triumphantly real ...
He knew how Stephen would gather Will close with his one good arm, and how the tears would burn: Will lived, Will still wanted him, they would face the rebuilding of their lives together now and always.
He drew a breath. His chest ached, because Colby had written words that reached in and gripped his heart and shook it apart and then soothed it into a soft safe rhythm again.
He looked up, and found Colby watching him, and reached out. Pulled Colby in for a kiss: profound and thorough and full of reverence. Saying everything he didn’t know how to, aloud.
He tipped their heads together, after. He breathed, “This is right.”
“Yes,” Colby said. “Yes. It’s a good history -- two men getting to be happy together, because they did, they could, we have to tell those stories --”
“But it’s also so right for them. What they do with the house, with their lives --”
“I wanted it,” Colby said, “to feel like joy.” In Jason’s arms he looked like joy too, wrapped up in an embroidered period dressing gown, with rumpled hair.
“It does,” Jason said. “It does.”
“But to make that change ...” Colby hesitated, excitement not dimmed but reshaped. “First we’ll have to tell Jill, of course. It’ll alter the tone of the film.”
“She’ll love it. I love it.”
“I think she will -- we’d talked about the ending before, and I’d said I wasn’t entirely happy with it -- but it’ll mean a longer shoot. I can put more money into it, that’s not a problem, but we’ll be asking the crew to extend their commitment. I’ll understand if some of them can’t, of course.”
Jason mentally skipped over the financing comment. It was a reminder -- Colby had a hell of a lot of money even compared to Jason’s action-hero income, enough to casually fling at a production in need and deem not a problem -- but he’d already made some sort of peace with that. He knew about the complications that came with Colby’s background, the cost of it all, and he knew Colby used it to help people.
More importantly, he guessed that most if not all of their crew would stay on. If not for the paycheck, for Colby. For their leader. “Bet they’ll want to. This is big. This kind of story. Telling it.”
“That’s the other part. I know how much the novel means to the people who love it.” Colby squared shoulders under Will’s wardrobe. “I think, in order to do this ... we should go and find George Forrest and ask. Not permission, precisely -- he gave that when we agreed on the rights, and he said he didn’t want to be very involved -- not bothered by whatever nonsense you come up with, was how he put it -- but I’d like some sort of ...”
“Perhaps. I want to be respectful. I’ll show him my version, and he can even comment, I’d not mind, he knows Will and Stephen the best -- I wonder if he’d like shortbread, or raspberry tarts, as a sort of gift --”
The next realization hit Jason’s brain like a falling ton of Regency-era bricks. “Colby?”