Josh Holloway/Naveen Andrews
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Josh has to find out about Barbara and Naveen third-hand, which, in retrospect, is what really fucking pisses him off.
It was sudden, apparently, from what he overhears Jorge telling Dom: Naveen flew out to surprise Barbara over hiatus, went to New York to see her opening night of the play she was doing. He found her at her apartment with some reporter from the Times. It was all very civil and amicable; the three of them sat around and had a discussion, for Christ's sake. Then – according to Jorge – Naveen had gotten stinking, fuck-you drunk and ended up at Ian's apartment.
"How do you know all this?" Dom had asked, and while that wasn't the interesting part of the conversation, it had been, you know, a good question.
"I called the other night," Jorge had said, "and Naveen answered the phone." Which Naveen never does; he's got some kind of weird thing about answering someone else's phone. "He didn't say anything, but – dude, you can just tell, you know?"
On anyone else, Josh would call bullshit, but Jorge's got some kind of weird sixth sense when it comes to reading people from what they don't say, how they don't interact with each other. He was the first one to figure out about Dom and Evie, and that was after one afternoon doing promo photos.
"Is he going to be staying there, d'you think?" Dom had asked – casual as anything, except not really, because Dom likes Naveen and hates Ian. He'd like to avoid all contact, if he could. He's managing pretty well so far.
"I'm not sure," Jorge had said, and when Josh squinted and tilted his head a little more to the right – no, don't mind me, just over here playing pool, totally not listening in – he could see Jorge shrug one shoulder. "Probably 'til he comes back, but I don't know. He wasn't saying a lot, and it's not like I could just come out and ask him."
In the back of his head, Josh had thought, hmmn.
Which is how, a week before hiatus was over, Josh finds himself on the phone at 2:30 in the morning hearing a pissy 28-year-old mutter "Holloway, you asshole, do you know what time it is out here?"
"Not really," Josh says. "Put Naveen on."
Very long pause. "Naveen isn't here."
"Oh, for Christ's sake. Who told you? Jorge? It was Jorge, wasn't it?"
In the background, Josh can hear someone saying something very quietly – too quietly, as it turns out, for him to understand.
"You're both morons," Ian mutters, but he's got the tone in his voice that says he's giving in. Josh smiles.
"And you're a bitch. Put him on."
There's a very short pause, then: "Josh?" Naveen says, sounding half-awake. Josh feels guilty for a couple of seconds. Then he reminds himself that he'd had to hear about this from Dom via Jorge via a pool game, and bam! no more guilt.
"Hey," Josh says, tucking the phone between his shoulder and his chin. "Everything all right, man?"
"Fine," Naveen says, and if it wasn't for the way he sounds, Josh could almost believe him. Of course, it doesn't help that Naveen's one of those guys who always says he's fine even when he's not.
"Uh huh," Josh says. "Listen, I was thinking – Yessica's going out of town for a couple of days, and I'm still a little freaked out being here by myself." That part isn't a lie. Being robbed at gunpoint in your own house will do that to you. "You mind staying here 'til she gets back?"
"Of course," Naveen says. "But surely Dominic or Jorge—"
"Jorge's out of town," Josh says, "and if I have Dom over he'll bring Evie." Not that he doesn't love Evie to death, but if he wanted to watch the two of them make out for two days straight, he can just start looking around when shooting starts up again.
There's a very short silence. Josh pretends he's not holding his breath and waiting for an answer.
"I think I can be on the first flight out tomorrow," Naveen finally says. "Let me make some calls. I'll call you back." A brief burst of nothing, then a dial tone.
Josh lets out a long breath, then clicks his phone off and goes to start straightening up the guest room.
Josh picks Naveen up at the airport, and almost doesn't recognize him at first. His hair's the same length – he had to sign a contract not to significantly alter his appearance in any way for the duration of the show, same as the rest of them – but the beard's gone and he looks exhausted, and not just because he's had a 14-hour plane ride, either.
The ride back to Josh's house is fairly quiet; Naveen doesn't seem like he wants to do a lot of talking, and Josh has never been one for pointless small talk. He keeps to the speed limit, partly because the whole thing with Michelle and Cynthia is still making everyone twitchy about driving in town but mostly because Naveen has a tendency to clutch at the dashboard and mutter under his breath if whoever's driving is going too fast.
The traffic's not too bad, but the airport to Josh's house is still forty-five minutes. He and Naveen hustle in the bags – not too many; Naveen is not a heavy packer – and drop them in the guest room, then head into the living room for a drink. Josh pours them both a scotch and water. Naveen takes it with a small, absent smile and sips it carefully, like he wants to make it last.
"I'm sorry," Josh says suddenly. "About Barbara, I mean."
And just like that, the tension drains away from Naveen. It's like he's been waiting for it, and who knows? Maybe he has. "It's fine," he says, setting his drink down on the table. He scrubs at his face with his hands. "I probably could have seen it coming. We've been apart for so long now. I've been out here—"
"Yeah, and she's been in Vancouver," Josh says. "And Los Angeles, Chicago, and now she's in New York. And has she ever once come out here? No." For visits, a couple of times, but not for any decent length of time.
Naveen looks at him. "She's been busy."
Josh snorts. "Doing what? Because the last I saw, man, it's not like she's got offers rolling in, if you know what I mean."
Naveen's mouth thins out into a straight line, the way it does when he's upset or getting that way. "That's not fair," he says.
"I don't have to be fair to Barbara," Josh says, taking a long drink of scotch and water. "I'm not her friend. Although, you know, times like this, I have to wonder why the hell I'm trying to console you when you don't want to hear it."
"Exactly," Naveen says, "I don't want to hear it." He reaches for his drink, drains it in one swallow. Josh wonders exactly how many days in a row he's been sober since it happened. He's pretty sure it isn't more than one.
Josh has been Naveen's friend for almost two years now. He knows what the guy's like; he knows what he likes and what he doesn't like, and how he reacts to bad news. He's never been one to crawl into a bottle and start hanging drapes, but then, Josh has never seen him break up with someone before, either.
Fuck it, Josh thinks. The best thing to do is get Naveen angry, let him take it out on someone besides himself. He's pretty sure Naveen wouldn't actually hurt him, and there's enough time before shooting starts up again to let the bruises fade. Time for him to take one for the team, so to speak.
"Still," Josh says lightly, "if she's done it once, she's probably done it before now, too? Right? All those cold, lonely months in Canada—"
"Canada isn't the North Pole," Naveen says, voice going tight and careful. It's the way he speaks with strangers, and something about that pisses Josh off to no end.
"—without you around, and maybe she started looking around. Right?" Josh asks. "Maybe she's not this golden figure you should put on a pedestal; maybe she's just someone who screwed you over, someone whose good name isn't your business anymore. That's what you're thinking, right?"
"I'm thinking you should shut your mouth," Naveen says. His voice is still tight, but his hands are loose, not balled into fists, so Josh is pretty sure he won't get punched.
Dammit. The whole point of this was to make him angry enough to fight, to get it out of his system. Josh lowers his voice, narrows his eyes. There's a little of Sawyer in this, maybe, but Sawyer didn't just appear out of thin air; part of him is in Josh, the way part of Sayid is in Naveen.
"Or what? You're gonna make—" Josh starts, but before he can finish Naveen leans over and kisses him hard on the mouth.
Yeah. Pretty sure he's not getting punched.
This hasn't happened before; this is a new thing. Josh has only been married a little while and Naveen's been with Barbara for what seems like a hundred years, and everyone knows there are lines you just don't cross. You don't shit where you eat, you don't piss off the producers, and you don't fuck people you work with: none of those things ever ends well, no matter how great the middle might be. Dom and Evie seem happy now, but everyone knows about the betting pool on when they're going to break up. Mixing business with pleasure never, ever ends well. This is still weird and new to Josh, but he knows this is not a Good Idea.
Not that that's stopping him. But he knows it's a bad idea going in, so maybe it won't end as badly as he's thinking it will.
It's brutal, more like being in a fight than having sex. Naveen slides a hand under his jeans, wrapping solidly around his dick; Josh counters with a bite to Naveen's shoulder and arching sharply against him, fucking his hand. He's pretty sure Naveen's other hand is in his own pants, and if it's not, fuck him. Pun intended.
Brutal, and fast. Josh isn't sure if that's because it's been too long since Naveen last had sex or what, but Josh can feel other man's weight pressing up against him, hard and sharp in a way his wife isn't, and honestly, he's missed it. He has no illusions about this being permanent, but it's happening now, and something about the thought makes him let out a low, shaky breath and come.
He's not sure how long his brain's offline – five seconds, maybe ten – before he blinks away the pretty lights playing on the inside of his eyes and leans over, putting his mouth against Naveen's ear. "Maybe if you ask nicely next time," he whispers, "I'll let you fuck me."
Naveen hisses something that's not quite a word and comes. Josh can feel it against his skin, wetness and warmth spreading against the low edge of his stomach. It'll be clammy before too long, but right this second just the idea of getting up and finding a washcloth sounds like entirely too much work.
Eventually, the panting trails off into more regular breathing. If Josh listens hard, he can hear the sprinklers click on outside.
Finally, Naveen says, "Well."
"I've had better," Josh says automatically, and claps a hand over his mouth. Not that it's not true, but it's just so rude.
"I've just been thrown over by my lover and been on a plane for 14 hours," Naveen says, raising an eyebrow at him. Without the beard, he looks more like Naveen and less like Sayid. It's weird that that distinction should be so important, but it is. "Give me a little warning, and I'll see if I can do better." He grins. "I'd like to think so," he murmurs, and lifts his head to kiss Josh on the mouth.
"Don't," Josh says, turning his head at the last second.
The grin falls away. Naveen arches an eyebrow at him. "So you don't kiss them, then," he says. He's trying to keep his voice light, and he's failing miserably. "Should I turn my back and let you leave the money on the nightstand, or would you like to shower first?"
Josh rolls over and mutters, "Fuck you too, asshole." He rubs a hand over his face and wishes he had a cigarette. He doesn't wish he could take this back, though. It's been a long time coming, and maybe – maybe – it's out of his system now.
There's silence for maybe a minute, until Naveen turns onto his side, facing Josh head on. "If I'd said something," he says quietly, "you'd have flown out in a heartbeat, wouldn't you?"
Josh snorts. "No." He waits a second longer than he should before he says, "A couple. Maybe."
Naveen smiles. "You're such a bitch," he says, but there's no anger in it.
This time, when he goes to kiss Josh on the mouth, Josh lets him.