Shadow of the Templar: Shock To The System, pt. 1
On timeline: after chapter 47 of High Fidelity
"Folks, before we go any farther, there's something I need you all to know." Simon hesitated, then shook his head. "About Archer and me."
Filling in the elision in which Simon comes clean to his team about his relationship with Jeremy.
And now that he'd said the first part, the rest was... well, not easy, but once again accessible, more or less. Simon glanced around, looking from one face to the next, and found himself able to read them like very short books: Nate curious and mildly confused, Dave having what looked like one hell of an 'a-ha' moment over there, Mike already wearing half a grin and searching his mental gutter for just the right dirty joke (which he would certainly live to regret making), Sandra somewhere between wary and downright shocked, and Johnny, well, unreadable. "Aw, shit," Mike said, right on cue. "Whaddaya need to tell us about Archer now? I mean, shit, that shit is done, so 'less you're gonna be tellin' us he's your secret fairy lover or some shit, I ain't sure what's so important"
Sandra and Johnny hit him at the same moment. Sandra smacked his shoulder while Johnny kicked his ankle, which resulted in Mike making the most startled yelp ever, but Simon barely heard it because all of a sudden everything was painfully hilarious and he'd dropped his face into his arms and cracked right the fuck up. In the face of his near-hysterical laughter everyone went quiet again. By the time Simon got hold of himself they were all staring at him, now wearing identical confused, worried expressions. "Sorry," he said, wiping a hand down his face, wincing a bit at the residual sting of his not-a-sunburn. "Sorry. I got it. It's just... aw, shit" and he cracked up again.
Looking back, later on, he thought that Johnny probably got it right then, with Mike a few denial-ridden steps behind. At the time, though, Simon was desperately trying to get himself under controlhe was actually frighteningly close to real hysteria, he thought, so nerved up and so aware of the chasm gaping in front of himand when he finally got himself back under control Johnny's eyes were narrowed and Mike was staring off into space, poleaxed. "Okay," Simon said, fighting down the residual tremors. "Okay. Yeah. I'm just saying... yeah, that is what I'm going to be telling you, okay?"
Even then it took Nate a few frowning seconds to get it. Simon knew when he did, of course, because his eyes went widetwo hugely-magnified blue-and-white circles behind his glassesand then Nate more or less snatched his glasses off his face and set about cleaning them on his shirt-tail with a frightening, almost Rich-like intensity. Color burned high in his cheeks.
"Yeah," Simon said. The hysteria was gone, as suddenly as it had arrived. He felt... perfectly calm. "Archer and I have been hooking up for just about two years now. And before you ask, he's not my boyfriend and I'm not going to gay-marry him or anything, God forbid, but... well, after the shit he and I just put you all through, I thought it was way past time to come clean. That's all."
The silence from his team was total. After a long, frozen moment Mike shifted, putting a hand over his mouth in a gesture which was about half 'fifties housewife shock' and half 'gonna throw up'and he blushed. Simon had never thought it possible. "Oh, man," Mike said, his voice small and wavery. "Oh... man."
"I should have told you all a long time ago," Simon added, as long as he had their attention. "I should have told you, and I'm sorry. I mean, sure, technically it's my private life and my private dick, but we also maintain a vaguely-professional relationship with the guy and therefore you guys had a right to know. Especially after these last few weeks. So... sorry. Also, Jesus, somebody say something already, it's like attending a conference full of barn owls."
It was, too. Five pairs of wide eyes focused in unblinking fascination on Simon's face"I don't know what to say," Nate said, trying his best to follow orders.
"That's fair, Specs," said Simon. "Look, it doesn't change anything. Or it shouldn't. But... I guess I ought to let you guys have some time to digest, huh?" Absently he patted the top of Sandra's chair, then pushed himself upright. "I'm gonna try and get some more sleep," he said. "Also, you know, you guys rock, and... seriously, thank you all. From the bottom of my heart or whatever."
Without further ado he picked his way back to the very back of the plane, settling into his seat and waiting for his heart to stop rabbiting along.
This version of the story is slightly different from the version on the community, as I indulged myself and gave it another edit before posting it.