Nathaniel checked the mirror again, making sure that the faint traces of wax burns were fully gone. His lips were full and somewhat bruised-looking, enhanced with some clever stage make-up. He had done his eyes, too, and his hair was clipped up, ready for the moment he let the Rapunzel-long locks loose on stage. The marks were gone, his skin as smooth as always. He made his way into the quiet room, his robe loose on him. He wasn't do to go on stage for a while yet. He waved to Jason as he came it.
Jason looked up as he entered and gave him a small smile and a halfhearted wave. Ordinarily, the site of any of his coworkers dolled up for the stage would be more than enough to catch his interest, but not tonight. He was too exhausted after the day's earlier events, and, quite frankly, the fact that it was Nathaniel didn't help. Still, he cast an appraising look over the leopard and came up with approval. "They must be thrilled to have you back," he said with a more genuine, more Jason-like smile. "How did we ever remain open without you?"
Nathaniel smiled warmly. He had missed Jason so much..."Jean-Claude's resourceful. He would have found a way to keep the doors open." He slipped down on the couch next to him. "And there's still plenty to draw them in; I heard that applause out there." He propped his arm on the back of the couch comfortably. "How are you, Jason? Things okay with the baby and everything?"
Jason smiled back, drawing up his feet to give Nate room to sit. He folded them under his lap, resting against the back of the couch lightly. "Anna's fantastic," he enthused. "I think she's already learning to roll over." It was, of course, far too early for her to learn that particular skill, but the six people he'd told previously had been too amused at his eagerness to correct him. "How about with you? Are you feeling ok with all the extra stress of being back?"
Nathaniel's purple eyes twinkled. "Are you kidding? This isn't stress; this is the vacation." He was happy to hear that Anna was doing okay. Jason seemed to be more in control of his attachment to the baby, not like he was before under the charm that bound him to her from the moment he touched her. "I'm fine," he continued. "I hope I can babysit some time soon, too. You should come by the house; I have a ton of food. "
Jason grinned slightly. "I'm sure she misses her uncle Nath," he agreed, even though he knew that really Anna only had need for him. Still, it was nice of the leopard to offer. "Let me know when you're free and we'll work something out."
He stretched, settling back in slowly. "Where were you this afternoon, anyway? I was kind of surprised not to see you..." As soon as he said it, he realized he should have kept his mouth shut. What if Zane hadn't wanted Nathaniel to know....? But no, he was turning over a new leaf. At least that was what he'd said. If that was the case he'd have to deal with everyone knowing.
Nathaniel frowned. "I was at home. Where was I supposed to be?"
Ohshit. Yeah, he definitely should have kept his mouth shut. "I... never mind, it's not important," he backtracked, but he glanced up through his lashes and eyed the leopard. "You didn't get a phone call from Zane?" he couldn't resist asking.
"No," Nathaniel answered slowly. He had gone to sleep after Stephen and Gregory had left, and slept until around 4 in the afternoon, when Cherry and Merle had shown up. He had run out of the house late. He had rifled through the mail, and saw that there were a couple of letters for him; not fan mail, because that didn't come to the house. He hadn't even had time to open them. "Something's wrong. Is Zane okay?" he asked.
Jason sighed, looking down and picking at the couch. "I guess so. I..." he was just going to have to go ahead and and spill this out, Nathaniel had a right to know. "Zane is going twelve-step on us or something... He asked a bunch of us to Lils's office to tell us he was using again." Jason shook his head, the longer strands of his hair whipping against his face. "Like we didn't know already."
Nathaniel sat back with a relieved sigh. "Is that all? I knew he was using again. I'm glad he's getting help. I've offered so many times to take him to meetings with me." He picked at the edge of his robe. "I just hope he stays with it this time."
"I think he will," Jason said a little bitterly. It was really unlike him to be this upset, especially about Zane making a change for the better. He scuffed one foot along the floor.
Nathaniel gave Jason wide, soft eyes. "Are *you* okay, Jason? You've been through a hell of a lot, too, recently."
Nath's concern caused Jason to start breaking down. He pulled up his knees and turned away from the leopard so that Nath couldn't see. He didn't know the half of it. "Zane's moving in with Raphael," he said finally, his voice a little dull.
Nathaniel blinked. "Moving in, with the Rat King?" he asked, puzzled. Raphael had been sort of a mentor to Zane on occasion, but there seemed to be more than keeping the Zane clean and sober implied. "Why wouldn't Zane tell me that?" he wondered. "I'm happy for him; Raphael's a good role model for him."
Jason snickered some, keeping it soft and under his breath. He shook his head and hugged his knees tighter. "I don't think he's looking for a father-figure, Nath."
Nathaniel looked truly startled at that. "What?" he blurted.
Immediately, Jase felt horrible. He shouldn't be taking this out on Nathaniel. Hell, it wasn't even his business. He shrugged. "Forget it, I never should have brought it up in the first place. I just... assumed you'd know."
Nathaniel drew into the couch, as if he could shrink into it. "Know what? That Zane and Raphael are fucking each other?" He shook his head. "No, he hadn't mentioned that." His thoughts turned back to nearly two weeks ago, before Alec kidnapped him, back to the hysterical phone call from Zane, back to the moment at the Circus when they had last been together and Zane's leaving, the knowledge Zane would be shooting up or getting drunk, that Zane would turn to Narcissus In Chains for his gratification because he hadn't been able to truly top him. "Ogod, I've really, really lost him this time," he whispered. "He's gone. He doesn't need me anymore."
Jason curled further into himself with ever word Nath spoke. Oh, god, what had he done? As awkward as things could get between the three of them, he'd completely forgotten that Nathaniel did love Zane just as much as he did. "I don't know they are for sure," he tried, reaching out a hand to the leopard. "Maybe I just missed something. It might not be..." He shrugged.
Nathaniel drew up his knees and wrapped his arms around himself. He was shaking with the effort to hold back his emotions, to not cry and ruin his make-up. Fuck, he had to get on stage later... "No, there was stuff from before, Jase..." His voice trailed off into a long silence. Applause, whistles and hooting drifted in from the front. When he continued, his voice was more controlled, soft and calm. "Jason, it's okay. I'm glad you told me. I just wasn't expecting it, that's all."
Jase scooted over, wrapping his arms around Nath and hugging him. "Don't cry. If you cry I'll cry and we'll ruin your pretty makeup and we'll get it all over the couch and then Jean-Claude or Asher will flay us," he joked weakly, snuggling under the leopard's arm and petting the tail of his long, tied up hair.
"I know. Raphael, huh? Just kind of... came out of no where." Jason sighed, resting his chin on Nathaniel's shoulder. "It's funny. I always figured when I lost him it would be to you." He shrugged softly.
Nathaniel leaned his head on Jason's, his expression lost. "No-one gets lost to me," he murmured. He gave Jason a quick, strong hug then he got up and wandered around the quiet room absently. He went to the lockers near the hall to the dressing rooms, opening and closing them with a dull rhythm. The last time he had been in the quiet room had been the night he was kidnapped. He opened his locker and the stack of the forgotten mail greeted him, sitting in a messy pile. He grabbed it, if only to have something to do.
One of the envelopes had Zane's handwriting on it. He drew it out of the pile carefully, putting the rest back. He stood there just looking at it before shaking himself out of it. "I should read this alone," he said. "I'll be in one of the booths."
Byron chose that moment to come traipsing back in from the stage, picking bills from the straps of his costume, his cheeks very vaguely flushed from exertion. "Bloody hell, the women out there are crazy tonight!" he exclaimed, though his fanged grinned belied his complaint. "Wotcher, Jason?" he nodded to the werewolf. "What's bothering our kitty-cat?" he asked, noting how quickly Nathaniel slid away.
Jase watched Nath go over the tops of his knees and started noticeably when Byron came banging in. "No idea," he muttered, pressing his head down.
"Bollocks." Byron said sweetly, counting up his take quickly and trying to slip on his robe at the same time. "What's going on? Don't leave a poor vamp in the dark, eh?"
Byron was someone Jason could safely offend or ignore as he chose without wrecking every relationship in his life. He pressed himself closer into the couch. "Told ya I don't know," he muttered. "Ask someone else."
Byron rolled his eyes, grin fading. "Fine, be that way. But someone had better go on next before the crowd decides to come back here for their fix of preternatural hotties."
Jason shrugged. "Nath's set." he grunted. Whether the cat went on or not wasn't his problem. He pulled a pillow into his lap and pressed his face into it.
Byron sighed and plopped down next to the werewolf, a motion that somehow still managed to graceful. He slipped a hand over Jason's back, rubbing a little. "Oy, what's wrong with you? You're not the doom-and-gloom type... that's Requiem's job."
Jason shrugged, looking up at him. "Nothing. We just got some bad news is all," he muttered into the pillow. But he straightened up some and fixed a happier expression on his face. "So they're still wild out there, huh?"
Byron nodded, accepting the change of subject for now. "Oh yeah... like wolves... no offense." he winked. "Up to a little switch off with Nath since he seems uninclined to remember he has a job at the moment?"
Jason nodded. "Sure, if you think it'd help. Let me just get a costume and fix up my makeup." He got up and began moving around the room, gathering the things he needed. "Or we could just force you back out there... don't they want an encore?"
"I need a rest, duckie... much more and I'll start sweating... and blood sweat tends to creep some of them out, you know." he pointed out, wiping his brow and showing him the faintly red stain that coated his palm.
"Yes, but it's so tasty," Jason grinned, taking his palm in his own hands and darting his tongue out to lick away the stain playfully. The sad Jason of before had completely disappeared; back was the flirty, sassy werewolf everyone was so accustomed to. His stage mask was back firmly in place.
"Git." Byron said, swatting at Jason's rear as the werewolf stood and headed for the mirrors. "Well, you can lick me all you like, love." he winked.
Jason giggled. "Maybe later. They're calling for blood out there." He winked. "Although I'm sure they'd love to see that, too." He fixed his eyeliner briefly, then bounced over to Byron, leaning in and kissing his cheek, then bouncing back. "Well, do I look fit for the masses?"
"Delicious, duckie." he grinned. "Could just eat you up, I could."