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Method Acting (Decipher Reflections From Reality)

By:
Zhailei (amidalashari)

For:
Fandom:
One Tree Hill

Pairing:
James Lafferty/Bethany Joy Galeotti

Rating:
PG

Notes:
References episodes up to 6:10 - Even Fairy Tale Characters Would Be Jealous, but no real spoilers.

Summary:
Her life is measured out in almosts. (She almost took a risk, once, but it was only fiction.) Five times fiction and reality were almost the same thing.

 
Mark does this thing, where he likes to incorporate stuff from real life into the show. James plays basketball. Hilarie's a VJ. She sings. It's kind of cool, sometimes, lends an air of authenticity to some of the things they do on the show.

Sometimes, it makes everything a little bit confusing.

-

James likes to play ball between takes, tossing around the basketball on the river court set. Sometimes he plays with Chad, or Lee, or Mark, and sometimes he tries to convince the rest of the cast to join in. Joy can usually get out of it; say she's hungry, or she needs her makeup touched up, or she has to run lines. James can be persistent, though, smiling in that easy way like he's being charming completely by accident, and it isn't long before she runs out of excuses, or at least ones he'll accept.

She smiles warily when he approaches her with the ball, casts around for Sophia or Hilarie or even Chad. It's rare, but they're inconveniently alone, and she still hasn't thought up a good lie by the time he reaches her.

"Come on," he says, as if he knows exactly what she's thinking. "I'm not letting you get out of it."

"I'm really not very good," she says, and it's a last-ditch effort.

His smile doesn't waver.

After a minute, she rolls her eyes, and takes the ball from him. "All right, fine. But don't say I didn't warn you."

He shrugs like he thinks she's exaggerating, and she makes an attempt at dribbling the ball. It flies from her hand, rolling slowly down the court.

"I told you," she says, and doesn't look around to see his expression.

She's not much better at shooting, and the first few times the ball falls short or bounces uselessly against the backboard. Finally she tosses it, granny-style, and smiles up at James triumphantly as it goes in.

She realises too late that they're not alone any more, and she can hear the sound of clapping (and even without looking at his expression, she could swear it's mocking her) as she turns around to see Mark watching them.

"I never knew you were such a basketball star," he says, and she resists the urge to stick her tongue out like a child. "I might have to use that in the show."

Unfortunately, Mark also likes to make good on his promises, and the incident is still fresh in her mind when the new script arrives. When they start shooting, he smiles at her like he's waiting for her to protest, but if she can't be good at everything, she'd like to think she at least has a sense of humour about herself.

She doesn't have to try very hard to make it look like she sucks, and James grins at her in a way that's only half Nathan. His hands are steady on her hips, guiding her movements, his body pressed up against hers in a way that's kind of hard to ignore.

When she misses, it has very little to do with acting.

-

Mark thinks it's funny, putting her in a cheerleading uniform.

James doesn't seem to mind, either.

She never really thought he'd be able to work this one into the script - if there's anything Haley's not, it's the cheerleading type - but she's got to give him some credit. When the man puts his mind to something, there's no stopping him.

She's spent enough time in these things that she doesn't feel self-conscious, but that doesn't quite stop her being aware of the way James' eyes linger on her. He's barely out of high school, she rationalises. Of course he has cheerleader fantasies. He grins at her when she catches him looking (and really, can't he at least pretend to be a little embarrassed?), and she smiles back almost in spite of herself. Besides, she does look pretty hot, and it's not as if she's going to begrudge him the occasional glance.

The routine is easy enough to learn, harder to mess up in a way that looks natural. Thankfully, the rehearsal scene doesn't take long to film, and when they move on to the performance, Mark assures her she'll mostly be in the background. At any rate, it gives her something to focus on besides the way she's sure James is watching from the sidelines, and she'll be damned if she's going to let that distract her. Even if he is looking at her every time she turns around.

She's nearing exhaustion by the time they wrap; she'd forgotten, a little, how tiring it can be. She doesn't hesitate before making her way to the refreshments table set up by the side of the court, and she leans gratefully against the table as she takes a glass of water.

"You looked good out there," someone says behind her, and she turns around. She tries to hide the brief flicker of disappointment when she sees Chad, and this, she thinks, whatever this is, is getting a little annoying.

"Thanks," she says, offering him a tired smile.

"I'm not sure if I should call you Haley or Marni." He's grinning like he's found a new way to tease her, and she raises an eyebrow.

"That depends," she says, "on how much time you want to spend explaining to people why you're so familiar with a movie about teenage cheerleaders."

He gestures around them, like what kind of show do you think we're working on now?, but he doesn't press the subject, and when she yawns, he smiles and lets her go.

She's not so tired the next day that she can't make it onto the set early, and she watches with a perfectly normal level of interest - and, okay, maybe a little admiration - as James does his basketball thing. When it's her turn to rush onto the court, she flings herself at him with no more and no less enthusiasm than is warranted by the scene, and she doesn't bother to wonder if James' smile is scripted.

Because, really, debating to herself whether or not she has a crush on her eighteen-year-old co-worker is the last thing she needs to be doing.

-

It's not like she hasn't spent weeks talking to Mark about this. It's not like she hasn't wished for this, worked for it, and it's definitely not as if it wasn't at least partly her idea in the first place. Still, now that it's real and official and happening, she can't help feeling a little conflicted about the whole thing.

She's excited about going on tour. She is. It's just that -

It's just that she's going to miss working on the show, is all.

She's already filmed most of her scenes for the rest of the season, scarce though they are, and part of her can't help wondering if it might have been easier just to sneak off into the night, the way Haley did. No fanfare, no goodbyes, and no time to second-guess her decision.

Sophia might not have been too happy with that idea, though. She broaches the idea of a party, which is exactly what Joy doesn't want, and in the end, they reach a compromise; something small, just the five of them.

They end up holding the get-together - she refuses to call it a party - a week before she leaves. There are a couple of makeshift decorations in place, generic banners with Good Luck and Congratulations printed on them; she'd roll her eyes, but Sophia's smiling so genuinely it's hard not to be a little taken in. It's also hard not to remember what she's going to miss most about this place, even if she's only going to be gone a few months. Somehow, it seems like longer.

After the first round of drinks mixed by James, who's a little over-generous in his measurements, Hilarie takes over, but it's still not long before Joy's feeling a little tipsy. She waves away a refill, but she has a feeling the damage has already been done, something that's illustrated sharply when she doesn't object as much as she probably should to James' suggestion that they play I Never.

"What are you, in high school?" she asks, and he shrugs. It's probably meant as a reference to the show, but all it really does is remind her how young he is. Sophia seems to like the idea, though, and before she can really protest further she's sitting at the edge of a rough circle with a fresh drink beside her.

She wonders, as she listens half-heartedly to the non-confessions the others make, how long it will be before this gets back to Mark.

The game is brought to a premature end as Hilarie declares that she's never slept with a co-star. Chad and Sophia grab their drinks, looking somewhat accusingly at Hilarie before abruptly finding other things to do. Joy can't really say she minds the disruption, and she's sipping almost idly from her cup when James comes over to sit beside her.

"Are you excited?" he asks without preamble, which brings an unexpected smile to her lips.

"Yeah," she says, leaning back to rest on the couch. "Yeah, I am."

"It won't be the same without you," he offers, which she's not so sure is true; they're wrapping soon, after all, and in a few weeks there won't be anyone left to miss her.

Still it makes her smile, and when his attempts to get comfortable bring him closer to her, she doesn't make an effort to move away. She thinks maybe that means she's drunk too much already, and hastily puts her drink aside. James doesn't seem to notice, chatting happily about home and family and his plans for the break.

By the time she realises he's asked her a question, he's staring at her intently, his face a little closer to hers than she's entirely sure she's comfortable with. She demurs quickly, shifting away slightly, and something clicks in his expression; not hurt, exactly, more like understanding, and she breathes a small sigh of relief.

"Come on," he says, suddenly taking her hand. Her chest tightens a little at the contact, and she has a second to wonder if maybe she shouldn't be reckless for once. Then she remembers the game, Chad and Sophia and everything else, and how quickly these things can get out of control. "Let's dance."

She lets him pull her up towards the centre of the room, and she can't help smiling when he starts dancing, moving in jerky, erratic motions not quite in time to the beat.

She's going to miss this.

-

Things have definitely changed by the time they come back from hiatus.

(Like: Chad and Sophia got married. She hopes it works out for them. Not that it matters to her, personally, but Sophia's a friend.)

Something about the dynamic between her and James seems to have shifted, too, and it takes them a few weeks to reconnect. She supposes it's only natural; she's been gone a while, and Nathan and Haley aren't what they used to be. By now, she's used to having some of that rub off. But he's still looking at her in a way that's kind of new - not like he's mad at her, but something else, and she doesn't look too hard to try to figure out what it is.

In the end, she doesn't have to.

He's panting a little as he scoops her up off the floor; a little overdramatically, and she shoves him playfully. Her hand brushes his, and for a moment, she thinks maybe he's going to take it, but then he shakes his head softly and takes a step back.

"So," he says, and if his voice is maybe a little too casual, she pretends not to notice. "You still haven't told me about the tour."

She's not really surprised at the topic of conversation; he hasn't really asked her about it before now, and she knows she hasn't provided many details. Okay, dates and songs and crowds and how thrilling it all was, but maybe not the really important stuff. She tries not to think that there might be a reason for that.

"It was great," she says, shrugging like there's not much more to tell. "What do you want to know?"

He looks down at her, straight into her eyes, and she swallows, as if maybe she already knows. "Did anything interesting happen?"

"Define interesting," she says, laughing a little, but it comes out kind of weird, high-pitched and nervous-sounding. Which, she isn't nervous. She honestly doesn't know why she would be. "I mean, there was the time the tour bus broke down, and we had to wait on the side of the road for something like six hours for someone to come and fix it. Or the time I was on stage, and I swear I nearly forgot all the lyrics, and you would not believe how much you can panic in less than a second."

At this point, she's faintly aware that she's on the verge of starting to ramble, and she decides that the rest of the crazy tour stories can probably wait until they're not standing on the edge of the set in between filming. James doesn't seem to notice, though, and he's smiling in a way she's pretty sure has nothing to do with amusement as he steps forward.

And then he settles a hand on her hip, and she knows, really knows, what all of this is about.

I've missed my shot, she thinks dully. To answer the question he didn't quite ask, to say what she should have said as soon as she got back.

Or maybe he's missed his.

"Nice eyeliner," she says, because she can't think of anything else; it's a lame deflection, but it seems to work, and his hand drops back to his side.

"Yeah," he says, and rubs at his face a little, as if he wasn't just almost hitting on her. "At least Batman's better than Tommy Lee."

She laughs, because it seems like that's what's required, and she doesn't quite meet his eyes.

Maybe tomorrow, she'll let it slip to Sophia that she met someone.

-

The concert tie-in has almost become a trademark by now, as much a part of the show as basketball and teen pregnancy and Sophia's dating habits. It feels good to be singing again, on stage and in front of a crowd, and it's almost effortless to launch into the song, lose herself in the music.

Michael's been on the set before, but it's different, exciting, to have him be a part of it, however obliquely. She's still grinning when she comes off the stage, the familiar rush she gets from performing, and she's barely made it off to the sidelines when James comes up beside her.

"You looked good out there," he says, and she beams at him, still flushed and a little breathless.

"It's a great crowd."

"It's a pretty good band, too." His eyes are focused somewhere past her shoulder, and she glances around, sees Michael talking to Sophia at the edge of a group of people.

It brings back memories in kind of a rush; ones that make her smile, now, as much as not. It's kind of inevitable, she thinks, working this close to people. Sometimes the lines start to blur.

"Yeah," she says, and when she looks back up at him, James is smiling, too. "I guess these things work out, in the end."

He looks like he's going to say something else, but then she feels a pair of arms wrap around her from behind, strong and familiar. She turns to give Michael a quick kiss, and when she looks back around, James' expression is unreadable.

"I should go," he says, and then he smiles again, easy and reassuring. "You did good," he says, as much to Michael as to her, and she isn't entirely sure what he's talking about.

Maybe it doesn't matter, in the end.

 Comments

 Left By:
Guest (Anonymous)

At:
2009-01-02 00:34:47

 
Oh, oh. Thank you so much! I wasn't really sure what to expect with this pairing (disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about their real lives), but I appreciate so much that it's UST, and angsty, which is just an added bonus. I like that Joy can't quite put her finger on what's going on between them; that even with the mutual attraction going on doesn't change the fact that they're in very different stages of their lives.So, yes, I love this. Thank you!


 Left By:
At:
2009-01-02 00:35:43

 
The above comment was me, obviously. :)