Who: Ben, Fitz and Dom What: Secret Hollywood Parties When: 6 August, Night Where: Hollywood Hills Rating: Medium (themes) Status: Complete
Ben stood in front of the mirror in the costume’s tent, he liked this mirror because it gave him a full length view of what he was wearing instead of just the small one that the mirror in his and Fitz’s wagon would show. Tonight he wanted to look smart and that he belonged at this party that Domino had managed to secure an invite to, these people were different from the snobby party types that he was used to, he wasn’t sure if they’d see through the disguise or if they’d just be interested in someone a bit exotic.
He had decided to keep his beard, but was trimmed and a bit of this new product used to style his hair, which had also gotten a bit of a cut from Fitz, the only person he had trusted for years to do anything to his hair. He was dressed in a simple black suit with a burgundy vest and tie and a white shirt underneath, it was of a more modern style than he was used to but it was comfortable and he looked good in it. After one last look at himself he smiled at his reflection and walked back to the wagon for his shoes and also to check on Fitz.
Fitz was a bit nervous for the normally social butterfly he was. Around the carnival was one thing, people he knew, strangers, it didn’t matter it was a safe place. Visiting town, that was a large place he could easily ‘escape’ to somewhere if things turned- besides, he was normally pimping out the carnival when he went into town so it was all just a performance. But a party, even with Ben there, he felt apprehensive. He was wearing one of his suits, but had made slight alterations to the ensemble to match the current style. He finished buttoning up his vest and straightened his tie when Ben walked in. “Are you sure you want me to go like this? Wouldn’t you rather Pierre join you?” He asked, fiddling with his sleeve that he’d rolled up while he’d gotten ready.
Walking up behind Fitz, Ben wrapped his arms loosely around his husband's shoulders. "I would love you to join me like this, but if you'd be more comfortable as Pierre then it would be okay." A kiss to Fitz's cheek. It was strange seeing the other man so flustered, but Ben knew why, that party in Paris has been playing over and over again in his mind but he kept telling himself this was different, there would be no displays of affection, he didn't know what kind of people Dom associated with. "You look beautiful dressed up, mon amour.”
He leaned back onto his warm husband's chest, head turning to steal a kiss. “Well, I wouldn’t want our new friend to get any ideas.” He said, trying to play off his nerves lightly.
Fitz nodded and turned to face Ben, unrolling his sleeves. “You look quite charming tonight. May be hard to stay away.” He said, reaching up to brush a hand over Ben’s scruffy cheek before he moved to button his cuffs.
Ben was sure that Domino would be all over him if Fitz wasn't there, one of the reasons he preferred having his husband there as a human and not a stoat, although it would be amusing to see little Pierre growling and biting the charmer.
"As do you. Thank you again for doing my hair, I can never get it looking as nice as you do." As Fitz was buttoning his cuffs Ben pushed back that curl only for it to fall back down a moment later. "I hope that we don't stand out at this party dressed like this."
“If we do, we’ll just tell them we’re performers.” He laughed. Gesturing for Ben to sit so he could finish the man up.
Just as he’d finished with Ben’s do and grabbed his coat off the bed, a knock came at their wagon door. “I’ll get it, you finish.” He said as Ben was still putting his nice shoes on. Fitz moved to the door and he slipped his jacket on and was met with the wide grin of one of the new men around.
Domino was dressed sharply, his hat in hand as the door opened. “Car’s warmed up and waiting Gents.” he said, with a gesture down the stairs. “Whenever you’re ready.” He made no move to hide his eyeball evaluation of the two men. They were quite nice to look at. Edi just sighed, she was getting used to his stray thoughts by that point.
Fitz was right, they could always make up some story, they had in the past and gotten away with it. He sat and closed his eyes as Fitz finished fixing up his hair, he did love how those long fingers felt skimming across his scalp. Ben knew he was the luckiest man alive.
He was putting his shoes on when he heard Domino's voice telling them that he was ready when they were. Getting up, he pulled his coat back on and gave Fitz a playful pat on the bottom before closing the door of their wagon. "Let us see what Hollywood has to offer."
The drive was a bit of a ways out there. They went into the hills where houses with large lots sat, secluded from their neighbors. Domino gave a brief idea of how the night would go, introductions and then dinner followed by the rest of the night being open to drink and socialize. He told them that they’d be special guests of Scotty Bowers, and that during dinner all decorum should be held- to a point. Basically to follow the lead of the host’s conversation. Depending on who the guests were, would depend on what was spoken of.
They arrived at the party and were greeted by Scotty who introduced them all to George Stevens, Hollywood Director. Domino was introduced as a good friend with wonderful talent and a voice ‘to die for’, Dom appreciated the compliment as one could always hope to be thought of for the director's next film. Fitz and Ben were introduced as new friends from the carnival Zion Mystique. It seemed that the sudden appearance of the carnival going up overnight without warning had all of Hollywood gossiping. Mr. Stevens seemed to be very interested in getting to know the two men better and even sat them nearer to him at the table.
During dinner there were stories shared about projects people had worked on together, were working on or just behind the scenes antics. The wives of many of the guests asked questions of the more famous people as if this was their chance to find out something new about the film elite. At one point the conversation moved to the carnival and Mr. Stevens got both Fitz and Ben to talk a little about the carnival. Fitz squeezed Ben’s hand under the table and did the majority of the talking as he was used to it from the times he helped to promote it when they first arrived in a town. Everyone seemed marveled at them and thoroughly entertained. Dominic nodded to the men approvingly and Scotty looked impressed.
After dinner was over, the wives all retired home to let the men stay and ‘talk business’. Once they were gone, the doorbell rang and Scotty got up. Many of the men all turned to the door to see what was about to enter and many ogled at the line up of young men who entered. All shirtless, wearing yellow/gold bow ties and white pants. Mr. Stevens got up and clapped his hands. “Alright men, drinks out back. Let us put on some music and have some fun.”
Once the room started to empty, Domino moved over to Fitz and Ben and placed a hand on either of their shoulders. “Don’t worry boys, this is a safe space. Have fun.” He chuckled as a man tapped him on the shoulder. “Harold! I didn’t know you were showing up to this. Looking good tonight.” He went arm in arm with the older man who probably could have been his grandfather and looked back at the two boys, sharing with them a wink.
Fitz’s eyes followed Dom and then looked to Ben, a bit confused. “This is… unexpected.”
Ben sat quietly through dinner, already this was different to the parties that he was used to, this was a sit down meal with others and not just a night filled with canapes, drinks and talking. He gave Fitz's hand l more than one squeeze as the topic of Zion was discussed, nervous or not Fitz had said it better than Ben could have.
He was as shocked as Fitz when the line of shirtless men entered the house and more so when other guests took the hand of one of these men and went out to the party out the back. When Domino told them that it was a safe place Ben looked over at Fitz. "Oui…" He took Fitz's hand in his and walked out to where the real party was getting held.
He hadn't expected to walk into a courtyard with a large pool and the other male guests happily getting 'acquainted' with the half dressed men. "Oh mon!" He exclaimed.
Fitz felt dizzy for a moment, as he took it all in. It was very… busy. His fingers tightened around Ben’s as for a moment it felt like they were back in New Orleans watching the parade. It was still enough to make him feel out of place, but accepted at the same time. How strange to have such tragically conflicting emotions.
A man who’s name he couldn’t remember but he did remember someone mentioning him being a writer, waved a hand to the two men and beckoned them over. Fitz looked at Ben and shrugged slightly before they both joined the man at the poolside. “You boys look absolutely thrown. Not expecting a party like this, were you?” He asked, waving to one of the servers. “Get these two boys a nice drink to loosen them up a bit.”
There was this voice in the back of Ben’s head wondering if this was all some kind of trap, were they all going to get arrested at any moment, or was it really all that it appeared to be - a party for men who like other men. Did the wives of some of these men know what went on or did they just turn a blind eye to it all. The questions were swimming and he would definitely have to ask Domino about it all once the night was over.
“No. We were not.” Ben admitted, a few moments later a glass of some kind of alcoholic beverage was handed to him and he nodded his thanks to the server before turning his attention for a moment to Fitz and then to the writer. “We were almost arrested once, we’re just… not used to this kind of openness.”
“Sit, sit.” He said, gesturing to the lounge chair next to him. “I’m sure we’ve all had that fear. But this is private property and many of us pay handsomely to the police union to keep our parties private. There are a lot of powerful men here, trust me… it’s not something the police captain wants to answer to. So, with no worries, you two can sit and tell me all about this fabulous circus I’ve heard about.”
His thumb ran over the edge of his glass. “Carnival.” Fitz corrected as he sat down.
“It’s a carnival, not a circus. A circus has a main tent where everyone gathers to see many shows all presented as one. We have shows all over, you get to choose what you want to see and what you don’t.” He explained.
“I see. And I heard you say during dinner you are performers in the show?”
Fitz was quite the talker, really he should be a bally for a show and not just manning the game or food stalls, but Ben knew that it was what his husband preferred and did bring in quite a bit from the games. Sitting down on the lounge chair he moved the glass over to his other hand and took Fitz’s free hand in his, wanting some kind of contact.
“We all have jobs to do. I perform in the ‘Ten in One’ show, we all have a little show that we perform on the stage to entertain the crowds that visit. We have a strongman, a wind dancer and I’m a firebreather.”
“That sounds interesting, I don’t suppose you would be willing to give us a demonstration a bit later?”
“It is better that I am sober, I don’t think we need the fire department interrupting the party.” He smiled at the man and then winked at Fitz. Not far away were a line of torches on sticks that seemed to surround the perimeter of the pool, after taking a sip from his drink Ben stood up and walked over to the nearest one. Taking a few seconds to channel his element he ‘breathed’ out and a large fireball erupted from the torch, to anyone else it would seem as if he had some kind of flammable alcohol or something in his mouth to create such a feat but Fitz would know better, he wasn’t sure what Domino knew. There were a few exclamations and Ben did a little bow before returning to the lounge with Fitz.
Fitz smiled as Ben performed, he never gave himself enough credit. He had a knack for the spotlight. Fitz could watch him all night.
The writer seemed very impressed, applauding the man as he sat up and patted the loud seat next to him. “That was marvelous, simply marvelous. I must say I’ve not seen such tricks back when the vaudeville players still toured- before the war. Before pictures became so lucrative.”
He looked at his husband as the writer seemed to want his attention. He knew neither of them wanted to make a scene in such a place, his look seemed to tell Ben that the choice was his.
Ben had developed the knack for performance, but still at the end of it all when the people left and Zion closed up it left him feeling somewhat drained, he didn’t like the limelight as much as some others might.
He sat and listened as the writer told him of the days ‘before the war’ reminding himself that this time too was just after a war but not the one that he and Fitz had both managed to escape from. “That is what we are trying to recreate, take people back to a time where life was simple and Hollywood was not what it is today.” In reality of course that was the time that they were both used to and hoped that they’d get back there soon enough, even this era was still too strange for Ben.
He saw the look and gave Fitz a little nod to say that he understood, Ben would happily talk the night away but any other interests only included Fitz, no one else.
Oh, Fitz knew that Ben was his and his alone, but he was okay with him placating the old man’s desire to flirt. He’d suffered it many times when he’d attended parties as ‘Pierre’ and Ben had to be charming for all the ladies looking for an eligible bachelor. Seeing Ben stay by his side made him smile though and in a bout of courage, he reached out and took ahold of Ben’s hand. Their rings met for a brief moment and the older gentleman seemed to understand. “You two are a lovely couple.” He said, his voice a bit hushed out of habit. “I must say all the old codgers like myself would be envious that you are both taken.”
Fitz smiled, brushing that stray lock out of his face at the compliment. “We know it means nothin’ t’the law now.” He chose his words carefully as to not confuse the man with regards to their peculiar situation. “But, we like the symbol of them.” His thumb brushed over the ring on Ben’s finger.
“Like a reminder of each other.” The writer clapped once in joy, understanding. “That’s beautiful- and something I may steal.” He winked with a laugh. “Now please, my boys, you must tell me about where you’re from.” The two men exchanged looks. “Oh please, your accents are clear give aways.” He waved his hand in their direction. “Now share, what was it like over there during the war?”
“Oh…” Fitz looked at Ben, trying to think quickly on his feet. “We wouldn’ know. Been here since ‘fore the war.” Which wasn’t a complete lie.
“Okay then, what was it like before then?” The man relented, still hungry to find out about the foregin lands.
How Ben came to deserve such an understanding partner was still beyond him, to not only go to parties in a form where he was unable to speak his mind but also see the person he loved flirt with others. He loved Fitz more than anything in the world and he knew that nothing could get in between them.
Ben flashed a smile at Fitz when the older man spoke in hushed tones about them all being jealous that they were taken, at least here people would hopefully understand exactly what the matching rings meant, even if it was no longer legal, it was indeed the symbolism of them. Ben belonged to Fitz, and Fitz to Ben, law or not they were together - forever.
When asked about where they were from and what was it like during the war Ben was grateful that Fitz answered the question for him, while he knew that his parents had gotten through the first war alright, he wasn’t sure if they had made it through the second which was what was on people’s minds now, but he would just talk as if they were talking about the same war.
“My family were in textiles, there were a few smaller factories that produced different fabrics but I was not involved in running any of them, I was more the person who talked to other companies about purchasing our fabrics for their garments.” Ben said, it was the truth, in a way. “I used to get invited to all kinds of gatherings and parties and guess I was a bit of a Paris socialite, helping the family business.”
He didn’t really want to say why he left Paris, but they did have a reason that they used when others asked ’to explore the rest of the world/. “I met my beloved Fitz here one evening, I caught him trying to steal something from me, I was going to call the police but there was just something about him that stopped me doing so.” Fitz could add his own spin to the tale if he wished.
“My life didn’t start until that night.” Fitz said with a goofy smile. It was easier than sharing the hard childhood he had, not as glamorous as Ben’s and based on the things he’d seen change in America in such a short time, could have given them away. “I was living on the street at the time.” The older man made a sympathetic sound. “An’ with what could’ve been the end a my life, I was given a job an’ a roof… an’ eventually the love a’my life.” He looked upon Ben fondly as their audience placed a hand over his heart and faux fanned away some tears.
“You two are too much, I swear. Do not be surprised if your story gets retold as some beautiful movie.” He laughed. “So, why come to America, sounds like you boys had it alright.”
Fitz looked at Ben for a sign of his feelings. This was a different place. “We didn’ave much choice.” The shifter answered honestly. “Le’s jus’ say we wasn’ as careful as we shoulda been.” The man seemed to consider that a moment before nodding, understanding. A man who had clearly experienced being persecuted for who he loved.
As Fitz told his part, especially the part about finding the love of his life Ben gave his husband’s forearm a gentle rub and leaned in a bit, hands still linked together. They were both lucky that night.
Ben felt more comfortable in their present company than he had for quite a while, he didn’t mind sharing a bit more than they usually did. “If we had stayed in France and faced the consequences of our actions I very much doubt that either of us would be here today, especially not as we are.” Which he was grateful everyday for.
He smirked a bit as he glanced over at Fitz. “At least I know why the mademoiselles back in Paris never interested me.” Ben chuckled softly.
He couldn’t resist. Fitz leaned in and kissed his husband. His heart pounded in his chest, even at Zion—until recently—they’d never kissed in front of others. The writer smiled and got up from his lounge, a hand placed on either of their shoulders. “You two have fun. I’m going to go get one of those young men. Who knows- maybe my life will start today.” He laughed heartily as he walked away.
Fitz put a hand to the elemental’s face as he pulled back to look upon the man. Shock at the public display, he arched an eyebrow behind that stray lock that had fallen back.