The first thing Karen Gillan asks him is not 'What's it like being the Doctor?' (awesome), or 'did you get your eyes from your mother?' ('yes, but I promised to give them back' -- or 'no, but this blouse used to be hers' -- he's not sure which is cleverer). It's "Is it true Arthur Darvill will sleep with anyone?"
As first questions go, it's a little disappointing.
"Well, he hasn't slept with me," he blurts out, confirming once again how not clever he is.
The truth is, actually, that Arthur will sleep on anyone. Left alone for twenty minutes while Matt and Karen get quizzed by the Confidential folks, and they inevitably come back to find him asleep, crammed into some corner or just draped over a handy set piece. Or a rigger. He can fall asleep on any mode of transport, too -- Steven raises an eyebrow at the third straight trip to a location where Arthur's out within five minutes, head bumping against the shoulder of the person next to him, neck at an uncomfortable angle. But he always wakes up with even the slightest nudge, bumping back against whatever hand taps against him, mumbling some vague acknowledgement and moving easily to get back to work.
He falls asleep crammed between Matt and Karen on the couch in Karen's flat, when they're done working on lines and are just goofing off, eating pasta and watching BBC Three. Matt's halfway through his argument about why Gavin & Stacey should only have been two series when he realizes Karen is distracted.
Arthur's head is tipped onto his shoulder -- he hadn't noticed, really, with the way they were already all pressed together, but now that his attention's been drawn to it, he can feel the faint warmth of his breath. He breaks off mid-word, not sure what to do.
"He's not got, like, narcolepsy or something, does he?" Karen asks quietly. She makes no move to wake him.
He forces himself to shake his head, to keep himself from freezing up entirely. "I don't think so." Something like that he'd probably mention. As it is, Arthur never apologizes for the sudden outbursts of napping. Half the time he doesn't mention them at all. But he can't remember Arthur sleeping quite so often the last time they'd worked together. He'd question the man, but he's afraid that would bring it to a stop.
Maybe Karen is too, because she never asks either.
Arthur is an.txtredible human being -- not only because he's exactly Matt's type (tall, skinny, and oblivious), but because he learns his lines most quickly while stoned. He'd told Matt this off-hand during Sharks, but they'd both been mostly off-book by the time rehearsals had started, so he hadn't seen it in action, not like this.
Arthur hands him the script. Matt hasn't even looked at his yet, and he and Arthur have been together the whole time .txte they were handed off. Arthur's only read it the once, after two and a half joints -- the half because it's just polite to share, even if Matt usually only ever has a puff or two. He's a little paranoid about being caught out; his mum would bend his ear off if she caught him at it, never mind that he's twenty six and playing a man who sees pink elephants professionally.
But it is pretty good weed, and he's buzzed and happy and Arthur's kicked his feet into his lap, and he can't be even the tiniest bit mad as the man rattles off his half of the dialogue easily -- a couple paraphrases here and there, but definitely a better first run than when they get new pages brought fresh to them on the set.
"That is.txtredibly unfair." He scowls.
Arthur laughs. "It doesn't always work. But when it does, it's like I can see what's happening, it's actually happening to me. So I'm not remembering a script, I'm remembering what happened."
"Yeah, but do you remember it how the director wants it to go?" he asks. "Or what if they change the lines?"
Arthur shrugs. "Then I remembered wrong."
Matt frowns, trying to figure out how that would work. But it doesn't, and he must look a little stuck, because Arthur laughs. "It's all right, like I said, it doesn't even always work for me." He pokes Matt's stomach with one socked foot.
Maybe it's the pot. Maybe it's the way Arthur's looking at him with dry amusement and a wicked smile. Maybe it's just the perfect moment -- probably it's the pot. He grasps Arthur's foot, then his knee, and almost climbs over him and the footstool to kiss him.
Arthur grabs him before he knocks them both over -- by the time he'd been on set a week, everyone knew how clumsy he could be -- an arm over his shoulder, the other yanking at his belt-loops. His mouth is warm and smoky, sharp teeth and soft tongue, and then apparently he was closer to the edge of the couch than he'd thought because his knee misses its footing and then his hip is slipping down except for the hard yank as Arthur jerks him back into him, and now he's laughing into his mouth, and no, no -- he's pulling away, laughing harder now, one collarbone exposed in the v-neck of his shirt, throat looking so inviting, but --
"Why'd you stop?" he asks, and no, that is not a whine in his voice.
Arthur runs his hand through Matt's hair, ruffling it and pushing it out of his face. He's still laughing as he drops a kiss on his forehead and slips out from underneath him. "This is worse than when Kaz outdrank you at the pub. Let me see what you've got in your fridge."
Arthur goes to raid Matt's fridge while Matt stares after him in confusion and tries to not fall off the couch again. And that, somehow, is the end of that.
Everybody falls for a costar at least once in their career. Usually more than once. It's easy to do -- actors are actors because they want praise and attention, and if they're good, and you have any sort of chemistry between your characters, it's bound to happen. The press would claim it's always a disaster; backstage chatter would gleefully call it a trainwreck waiting to happen.
But it does work out sometimes. Enough that people are always willing to give it a go, and there's more trainwrecks for the next generation to gossip about. He's been guilty of it himself a time or two.
Falling for both of them should make it easier to keep himself at a distance from both of them. Instead it seems to be doing the opposite.
Trogir is exciting -- filming on location is always exciting -- but none of them speak Croatian, or Russian, or even more than a scant few phrases of Italian. So they do a couple of guided tours, but for the most part they're just kind of there, playing awkward tourist, going out in bunches if they go out at all. Enough people speak English that they can get by, but Matt always feels vaguely guilty about it.
They're eating in tonight, gathered in Arthur's room to play his favored game of guessing what's happening in the local television programs. Arthur's got an advantage on them; he's had more time off .txte he's only filming one episode.
"I think those two are sleeping together."
"I think they all are," Kaz replies. "It's a soap -- isn't it?"
Matt hums noncommittally. "All I'm sure of is it's not the news."
"They're either sleeping together or they're siblings," Arthur decides.
"Does one really rule out the other?"
"For it to air this early in the night, probably."
They can't figure out much else, besides that somebody's in a hospital, so the telly fades into background noise as they move on to other topics -- the most ridiculous thing they've ever acted in, how the modeling industry is worse, Arthur's band, guitars. Kazza's in the middle of a story about the first time she kissed a girl, complete with hand gestures and kissing faces. Arthur laughs and slides down the bed until his head is on Matt's hip, almost in his lap. Matt concentrates on Kaz's story to keep from kissing him.
"Oh my god, you have a crush on Arthur, don't you?" Karen blurts out. Matt .txtes. Not because Karen noticed, but because Arthur is standing right next to them. They came here together.
"Matt's got a crush on the girl at Starbucks with seventeen ear piercings and a barcode wedding ring tattoo," Arthur says with a slight roll of his eyes. "And one on you, Kaz, and on Danny --"
"Everybody's got a crush on Danny," Kaz says dismissively.
Arthur nods. "I never thought I'd be so glad to work on a show with so many explosions." There is a collective silent moment of appreciation before Arthur continues. "So thanks for finally noticing I have a pulse, Kaz."
Karen rolls her eyes. "You're supposed to be my fiancé, the shine's worn off."
Matt ignores Arthur's gasp of mock indignation and takes his latté from Tracey -- she's got the sparkly purple gauges in today, and is giving him the side-eye. She must have heard them talking. He drops an extra fiver in the tip jar and tries to usher the lot of them away before it gets any worse.
Of course, if he has a crush on Arthur, he's absolutely infatuated with Karen. Kaz is -- amazing, breathtaking, funny and smart and gorgeous, and every other lovestruck adjective he can think of. A small part of him is selfishly glad that he got almost three months of filming with her to himself.
They're in Margam Park, and it's night, and pouring down absolute buckets. Lucky Kaz is bundled up in a blanket for this scene, and Arthur's got that awesome cloak, but the Doctor is supposed to be heedless of all consequences of weather, so Matt's got to brave it out in the tweed coat. He's at least able to put something underneath, but that doesn't do much in the face of the rain. So he stays out of the rain as much as possible, huddling in the properties trailer, which is the only one set up near to the filming area -- makeup had taken over a corner, but there's no point in doing anything in here when it's just going to get washed out as soon as you step outside, so the three of them have taken it over while the crew sets up an awning and moves things around.
Arthur's actually looking his script over. Kaz nudges him. "What's up with you? Usually you've got this stuff down stone cold."
"Had to learn this one the old fashioned way." Arthur makes a face. "There's a lot of stuff in this one I'd rather keep a clear head for."
Kaz grimaces, and Matt nods in sympathy. Arthur always seems to have a handle on the marijuana thing, but thinking you're a plastic machine or have just killed someone isn't something you should be thinking if something does go wrong.
"Can't help with all the time travel bits, either," he says, and again Arthur nods.
"That just did not make any sense the first time I tried to read it. I had to put it all on scraps of paper to sort it out. Made a lot more sense at the read-through."
"Yeah, I think it makes more sense when you can see it. Or, you know, once you've got all the way through it." Kaz kicks her heels against the open side of the trailer, and more mud flakes off. "Steven's pretty forgiving with the improv, though, so long as you've got the gist of it down, it shouldn't take too many takes. We've been going at a pretty fast clip."
"Yeah, just keep insisting that you're Rory, and we should be good," Matt jokes.
Arthur fake-socks him in the arm. "Oh, like half your lines aren't the same thing as the other half."
He knocks Arthur in the shoulder. "Yeah, but we're not filming them in order."
Arthur knocks him harder, sending him into Kaz, who catches herself on the outside lip of the door. "Watch it," she says, before pushing him back, and the chain swings the other way until Arthur's the one catching himself. "Not appreciated, Darvo."
Arthur points at Matt. "He started it."
"I did not!" He raises his hands in defense. "And what, are we five now?"
"Oh, you're always five -- mentally at least." Kaz is saved from being pushed out the door by them finally being called back to set.
He wakes to the muzzy realization that someone is talking, and the light is coming into his room from the wrong angle. He usually shuts the curtains, though, .txte not-infrequent night shoots means cat-naps during the day often enough. But his brain still insists something is off, and now there's no going back to sleep.
He squints into the light and blearily recognizes the hotel room in -- Inverness? Is that where they are? Bus tours are all well and good in theory, but he's desperately glad there's only three days of this. He's not made for seven hours of sitting still in a moving vehicle.
The lights are all on, as is the TV. Now that his sleepiness is receding, Matt remembers Karen coming into his room, claiming to have too much energy to sleep. But she's asleep on the other side of the ridiculously large bed, splayed out on top of the covers. Obviously it had caught up with her after all. He looks for the clock -- nearly 1 AM. He should probably send her back to her own room to sleep, but she's already asleep, and the bed is more than big enough for two...
It's easy to con.txte himself, and he tugs the blankets and sheets out from underneath her and settles them on top instead. She mutters a little under her breath but otherwise doesn't rouse, so he finds something guest-appropriate to sleep in before turning off the TV and the lights.
It's warm under the sheets.
He wakes again in the morning proper, with a headache and a weight on his chest. He regrets going back to sleep.
"Turn that off," Kaz says, not moving her head from his chest. He puts a hand to her head before he can think better of it, but she doesn't complain.
"We do actually have to be downstairs in --" he checks the clock. "Half an hour."
"So that's another ten minutes of sleep," she replies.
He tries to slide out from underneath her. "I need coffee." Karen rumbles out an.txtoherent protest. "Staying up was your idea," he reminds her, and realizes he's petting her hair.
So he runs away. But at least he puts on the coffee maker for her first.
It's impossible to impress Karen in any way. Somehow he gets stuck immediately in the 'goof' category -- well, no, it's easy to see how, but it's disappointing. Just once he'd like to impress her over something, instead of getting a snort and a funny face. Though he loves those too. She makes the best faces. And she's almost as good a dancer as him.
So he settles for mercilessly teasing her, but everyone knows what that means by now, right?
Maybe not, because he's not sure what it means when she mocks him right back.
New York is -- chaotic. Several people said it's just like London, but he doesn't find that true at all. The streets are crammed with people on tiny sidewalks, and shouting out of cabs, and when everyone ignores each other on the train, it's not a polite kind of ignoring, but a hateful one. And the pigeons hate him. He's nearly been shat on three times in one day.
Kazza's having a much better time than him -- maybe it's that she's had less sleep, and so she just doesn't see how horrible this place is. Or maybe she's just a better actor than him. She's got her Confidential camera with her, and they're wandering around Central Park, shooting footage of each other, and whatever catches their eye. It's more for themselves than Confidential; he's pretty sure they don't use most of the stuff they pull off their cameras, not when they've got a professional camera crew following them half the time.
"It's too bad Arthur couldn't come," Karen remarks, training the camera on him momentarily. "It feels strange doing this without him."
He shrugs. "They're trying to keep his role in the series a secret, which makes sense, with all the --" he waves a hand, in case Confidential does decide to use some of this. "Because technically, you're the one who's the companion."
Karen makes a face. "Oh, he is too -- he's just as good at shrieking as me." Which is true. "And he's been hanging around with us so much anyway. He's been watching a lot of the pickups, or filming for .txtent, or he was just in the Blue Box."
He'd noticed Arthur was around the lot often, but he hadn't realized it had been that much. Then again, half the time, the three of them were spending time together outside of work, either at the pub or at one of their flats, so of course Arthur was there too, drinking a pint or reading through scripts and discussing motivation and falling asleep half on Karen's lap. He's not sure what to think about that. "Got to have you to myself some time," he says instead.
Karen leans in to kiss his cheek. She smells nice -- familiar. He feels a sudden deep moment of something like homesickness. Not for home, exactly, but for the overstuffed couch in his flat, with the television on mute and the lights off, Arthur's head in his lap and his feet in Karen's, her knees knocking against his thigh, laughter in the corners of her mouth.
He tangles his fingers in hers and kisses her cheek in return, her hair whipping against his skin, and he wonders if she has any idea that he's fallen for her.
After the fans and the interviews and the signings and the fans and the screening and the fans and the screaming and the dinner and champagne and maybe more fans, he can't even keep track any more, Matt is too wired to sleep, all hyped up on adrenaline and endorphins, like the biggest opening night of his life, so when Karen comes into his hotel room and stammers "Oh my god, we're household names on two continents," the only thing he can do in response is kiss her.
Kaz is about the same height as him, so there's no awkward dip or lean to it, and she grabs him back at once, and they're kissing like teenagers, clumsy and fumbling and all over each other. They've kissed on-camera for the show, but while that was showy and probably a little more intimate than originally intended, this is passionate and wild, with a lot more tongue and Karen's already gone a lot further than a hand on his inner thigh. She squeezes his arse and he falls over in surprise -- fortunately onto the bed, especially .txte he takes her with him.
Kaz laughs, though, doesn't snap out of it and realize that this is all a terrible idea. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't, right now he doesn't care. Her hair is falling between them, getting in his face and in their mouths, and failing at tucking it behind her ears he gives in and maneuvers them onto their sides. He's got absolutely no idea how to get her dress off so he goes for his own shirt, and she gets his intent, because soon she's slipping free of the pink fabric, the long skirt pooling around her like a pearl in an oyster.
He removes her bra himself, that he can manage. Her nipples are already peaked with arousal, and he takes one into his mouth, flicking and teasing the other with his fingers before reversing the treatment. She gasps as his breath ghosts over her wet flesh. "Oh, fuck." Her accent has thickened with her breathlessness. "You can keep doing that for, like, an hour."
"I'd like to do a lot more than just this," he says, and gives a cheeky raise of his eyebrows before setting his teeth around one nipple, and her laugh turns into a shriek.
She grabs his shoulders. "Right, definitely want more. But this works for me pretty well too, yeah." She rolls her hips up against his, and it's his turn to curse. "Condom?"
He blows his hair out of his eyes and gives her a look. "I wasn't exactly planning this, Kazza."
"No excited fans throwing them at you?" She laughs at the face he makes at that. "All right, fine. Rain check? Neither of us are going to be able to sneak off to whatever they have instead of Boots." He has a fleeting mental image of buying condoms online and a brown paper parcel arriving at his door before his attention is returned to the matter at hand by Karen's own hand. Her hand is just tracing lightly around the head of his cock, but the sensation sends shudders through him.
"Rain check, right. In the mean time, back to plan A." Karen's breasts aren't the only thing he's thinking about, though, and he finds the slight hem of her knickers and moves it aside to brush two fingers along her folds. She's nicely wet, so he adds another finger, fucking her with his hand while his mouth closes over one breast again.
"Ohhhhh! Good plan," she manages. She's set up a quick rhythm, the snap of her hips in opposition to the thrust of her hand, and he can't keep the point and counterpoint, so he winds up thrusting half into her hand, half against her hip as he works her, but neither of them last very long, messy kisses landing on nose and chin as often as lips before he pulls away because he just has to taste her -- he pulls her knickers down past her thighs and a few hard licks sends her coming, cursing like a sailor and nearly giving him a nosebleed with the hard rocking of her hips. He finishes himself off, hot streaks of come on his thighs and the bedsheets and his hand, and oh god, the two of them are an absolute wreck.
He wants to do it again as soon as possible.
Of course they're whisked away the next morning before they even have a chance for breakfast, let alone to talk about anything, and then it's back to Cardiff and jet lag and filming and by this point Matt's not sure who's supposed to say something first, or how to ask if that rain check's still good, and they're filming Amy and Rory's wedding and Alex keeps giving him these knowing looks. It can't be that she's figured it out, though, because there's not much to figure out -- he and Kazza were pretty good mates even before New York, and everything's slid back to normal so much so that he's half con.txted he dreamed it. It's like the universe is teasing him.
Kaz finally puts his mind to rest at the wedding photo shoot. They're on a break, sipping water out of champagne glasses. "You have any plans for your next day off?" She taps her fingers along the glass.
"Nothing except catching up on my sleep. You?"
"That, yeah, and I should clean up my flat, it's an absolute tip. I suspect I'll probably spend the entire day in."
She doesn't sound upset, so he gives her a curious look. A quick raise of her eyebrows and he catches on. "Well, let me know if you start going stir-crazy, and I might be kind enough to come relieve your boredom."
She laughs. "What a generous offer." Her eyes catch on something off on the other side of the costume trailer, and he sees Arthur coming out from behind it, top hat in hand. "Do you still have a crush on him?" she asks, quieter.
He's not sure what to say, and it must show on his face.
"Yeah, so do I," she says, with a slightly defiant look.
He gives her a tentative smile. "Well, let me know if you have more luck than I did."
Karen sobers a little. "Is this the kind of thing that requires lots of alcohol? Because that wasn't my plan, but we could do that -- was he awful? I can't imagine Arthur being a tosspot at all, but --"
"No, nothing like that," he hastens to reassure her. "He just -- didn't seem to think I meant it. And, well," he shrugs. Arthur's headed their way, though, so he doesn't say more, but he does feel a slight bit of pleasure when Kaz socks him in the arm when he sits down.
His crush on Arthur is obvious, overstated. His love for Karen is built on admiration, and a deep, deep fondness. She makes him laugh, leaves him surprised that she wasn't always there by his side.
He's not sure how he's going to stand it when she goes.
Arthur finds out like this.
Filming is over, and so is the first rush of promotion -- they're a month into episodes airing, and have gathered at Kaz's flat to watch Vampires in Venice, at Arthur's request. Usually they don't all gather like this, after all, they've seen it. But Arthur's phone has been buzzing for days with messages from his mates from drama school and various productions, and he claims a fear of causing someone bodily harm if he has to go through the evening by himself.
So they're at Kazza's, with beer and takeout. Arthur may have smoked up a little beforehand as well, judging by the faint sweet smell he brings in with him. They've kept up with each other socially, peripherally, texts and emails and a phone call here and there. But they haven't had a chance to hang out together with no deadlines. So they're catching each other up on the stuff that hasn't made it into messages, when Arthur drops a quiet observational bomb.
"Wait, so are the two of you a couple or not?" Matt nearly spits his beer out, and Kaz starts coughing. "Becuase I thought you were, the way you were acting around the set, but neither of you strike me as the type to fool around for the hell of it, and you haven't seen each other in weeks."
"Oh, like you haven't gone a month without seeing someone you're dating," Karen says.
Matt doesn't outright deny it either, though Kaz's use of the term 'dating' gives him quiet pleasure. "I resent the implication that I'm not the type to fool around. I fool around all the time."
"No you don't."
"All right, I don't. But I could."
"No you couldn't."
"What do you know, Darvo, you think he doesn't like blokes," Kaz snorts. Arthur hesitates at the non-sequitur.
"What makes you think I'm sleeping with Kazza anyway?" Matt asks, because he'd rather let that point go than agonize over it.
"Please, the two of you are all over each other whenever I see you together," Arthur says dismissively. "I don't know how everyone's not talking about it."
"Probably because we've always been like that?" he hazards. He's not sure what Arthur's getting at. "Really, I treat Kaz the same as I treat you."
"And we've only been having sex .txte New York," Kaz adds.
Arthur blinks. "Then you're hiding it better than I thought." He licks his lips. "Damn."
"So you thought we were having sex this whole time?" Karen realizes.
"Yeah." Regret tinges his voice. "Guess I missed my shot."
Matt's about to ask 'with who?' when Karen says "Why don't we give you two more tries?"
"Two --?" Arthur looks from Karen to Matt, carefully blank face starting to open. "Oh." He sets his beer down on the ground, uncurving his spine a little. "Yeah, all right."
Matt doesn't even realize he was holding his breath until he lets it go in a big gust. Kaz is laughing and doing the same. She tugs Arthur in by the wrist and kisses him, slow and sweet and full of light.
Arthur is the king of subtlety and understatement. He hides truth with sarcasm so dry it cracks like parchment, and he can communicate entire paragraphs of thoughts with a look -- usually a dirty one. And he gives the best blowjobs Matt's ever experienced.
It should probably be harder to be in love with two people at once. But Arthur was right -- Matt loves easily, and often. The degree changes, and he doesn't always act on it, but this is the first time in a while that he's fallen like this -- he wants both of them, and he wants it for longer than a night, or a week, or a few months of filming.
He hates this part of acting -- meeting someone so perfect, and knowing that it's only for a few months, or, if you're lucky, a couple years. But Doctor Who is something special, isn't it? You can't get away from it. There's always some meetup or press event or maybe a book to record, an excuse, a reason you can't leave it behind. They drag you back for specials twenty years after you've retired from the role. And Tom Baker married his costar, didn't he?
It's okay for him to be a little bit clingy with Karen and Arthur, then. They're part of the magic.
Once Arthur joins them, the ball seems to start rolling. And it picks up pace quickly. They still don't see each other every day, but every week or so there's something -- a radio interview, a BBC ad with Karen, running into Arthur outside the recording studio, running away from Steven during a dubbing session. Sneaking kisses in hallway corners, in-jokes taking on an additional double meaning. So while he misses the everyday interaction, he doesn't miss them properly.
And they do meet on their own time as well -- they watch a few more episodes together; birthday gatherings; Arthur calls him about something exciting about his band that Matt still doesn't understand because Arthur was very, very high; a few profitable shopping trips, though nothing to beat the pheasant jumper. Kaz invents a new scoring system for competitive oral sex, and Arthur trolls Twitter and finds new uses for tinfoil.
So it shouldn't feel so damn good to be back in the cramped little rental flat in Cardiff, knocking on Karen's door. She screams when she sees him, and wraps him up in a hug.
"Hello, neighbor!" He pulls back after a moment, feeling giddy, to offer her his 'housewarming' present. "Pineapple's still a thing, right?" It's just a plastic throwaway container from Tescos, but then again, the flat's a rental. And he's hungry.
She takes it with a laugh. "Yeah, it's a thing. You can put it on your part of the pizza, if nothing else. Come on in."
Arthur pulls his head out of the fridge to give him a hug as well, and a beer. "Hey, mate. Haven't seen you in a while."
"Weeks. Unacceptable." They settle down to the serious debate of what constitutes proper toppings on a pizza, both their own preferences and their characters'. That transitions into guessing at what Steven has planned for the series, informed half by conversations and half by gossip. Arthur's feet are in his lap and Karen is playing with his already wild hair.
It feels like home.
Matt's watching Karen and Arthur -- they've been filming scenes in the TARDIS this week, for several episodes, so there's been plenty of down time between shots as the crew resets and costumes and makeup do their thing. Arthur seems to be taking advantage of this to play a prank on Karen. He's not sure what, and feels a bit relieved for the plausible deniability. Arthur catches him looking on one of his trips out of Kaz's trailer and winks at him, but seems content to leave Matt in the dark on this one.
Nothing seems odd at first, though maybe Karen looks confused a couple times, but she could be thinking about something serious, or maybe Piers was asking her about interviews again. But then after lunch, she asks him about the fish.
"Have you seen any fish around?"
"No, I think it's shepherd's pie today," he replies. "We almost never have fish." Except that one time that they actually served fish fingers and custard.
"No, not like food fish. Pet fish."
"You have a pet fish?"
"No," She says, starting to sound irritated. "I don't. But there was one in my trailer earlier. Twice, actually. But it was a different fish."
"You're sure?" He hadn't seen Arthur carrying anything, but that has to have been what he was up to.
"Yeah, I'm sure. The first one was your basic goldfish type thing. The other one was blue, with all these floaty bits."
"They're fish, Kaz, all of it floats," Arthur says, but doesn't stop walking. Karen whips around to stare at him suspiciously for a moment, but eventually turns back to Matt. He waits a moment, until suspicion starts to settle on her brow again.
"No, no fish for me. Why is someone giving you fish?"
"They're not. They're always gone again when I go back." He has nothing to offer to that, so Karen puts it aside.
Until, of course, she comes back from yet another change and shrieks. It's not a scared shriek, just an annoyed one, but when Matt turns around, he's not surprised to see a white fish -- an angelfish? -- sitting in a small glass bowl on the TARDIS console.
"Why are there fish everywhere?" she shrieks.
"It's one fish, Karen," Arthur says, in a tone that might sound soothing to the uninitiated.
"No it's not! That's, like, five fishes! Someone --" and she must start to suspect "-- drew fish all over my script. I found pictures of fish in all the pockets of my coat. There were fish in my trailer. What is going on?"
Of course no one has anything to say to that. The fish isn't even on the console any more when they get back, moved aside by the crew, no doubt. Matt shoots Arthur a questioning look. Arthur just grins.
Later, Matt hears Paul humming the Jaws theme from inside the Ood suit. But that might just be a c.txtidence.
Arthur's released at the same time as him and Kaz, but he still manages to beat them back to Kaz's flat. Because when they walk in the door, Arthur's sitting on the couch, wearing some sort of one-piece fish costume, and there's five different glass bowls with different tropical fish in them littered about the room. Karen shrieks and jumps onto the couch, beating at Arthur with her fists.
Arthur's too busy laughing to really fight her off, but Karen's laughing too, and eventually she stops, still straddling his waist. "What the hell, Darvo?"
"One of my old flatmates was in town to do some recordings down the road from the studio. She collects tropical fish, has one of those really huge aquariums. She'd fill a whole wall if she could, I think. But yeah, she asked me to watch them for a day, .txte she'd be busy." He shrugs. "So I thought I'd have a little fun with it, let them tour the set. They're hardy enough to stand up to a little travel, and they're big fans of yours, Kazza."
Karen frowns at him, still expecting a trick. "Really."
"Yeah, they're easily attracted to pale luminous objects."
She shrieks and attacks him again.
There's a piano in the house they're filming in, so of course that's where Arthur is. Put him in a room with a musical instrument, and he gravitates towards it. He's plonking out something that might be that stupidly popular song by The Killers, but with a lot more chords.
"Hiding out from Confidential?" Matt asks quietly, in case that's not the answer. It's what he's doing, though.
"I'd forgot how much they bum around."
He nods. "I've found it helps if you talk about really boring things. There's only so much of that they can film before they give up."
"There's very little I want to chat about with you that's boring." He tilts his head to look up at Matt. "And by 'chat about' I mean 'do.'"
Matt feels a blush rising on his cheeks. He really should be able to control it -- Arthur and Kaz cause it enough in him, but they rarely do so while they're working. "Oh you," he says, just to say something.
Arthur smirks, and changes key smoothly, the tune becoming a more recognizable 'I've Just Seen a Face.' Matt sits down next to him, pressed against his shoulder, hip and knee, and listens to him play, fingers dancing over the keys.
Karen and Arthur are both the layabout type, so he's nearly always the first one up. While this usually helps streamline the process of three people sharing a bathroom in a flat meant for one, he's distracted this morning by the fact that Kaz has chosen to wake Arthur up with a blowjob. He keeps leaning out of the door of the bathroom, returning only reluctantly to spit or grab floss. His teeth are probably over clean by now, really.
Kaz sits up, still stroking Arthur with one hand, and remarks, "You know, wake-up sex only works if certain participants actually 'wake up.'"
"Oh," Arthur says, and there's this strange note of disappointment in his voice that he can't hide. Matt steps into the doorway to look at him. Karen's got a half confused, half concerned expression on her face, which should look ridiculous while she's naked and straddling Arthur's thighs, but it doesn't even register. Arthur's thrown his arm over his face, and for a moment no one's sure what to say.
Matt goes first, because he's wearing the most clothing. Barely. He rubs the last bits of facial scrub off and tosses the towel over his shoulder. "Arthur?" He sits on the edge of the bed and runs his fingers over Arthur's. "Is this a Thing? It's all right, everyone has Things --"
Arthur pulls away, slipping out from under Karen like a fish. "Leave it," he says. "It's not important." He stops at the door, just remembering his nudity. "Fuck." He grabs his jeans from yesterday and yanks them on, not bothering with anything else.
"Arthur, talk to us," Karen demands.
"Just leave it, please." Arthur sounds tired. "I don't want to talk about it, but I don't want to fight, either. I'd like this to finish with us at least friends --" he bites off the words, the click of his teeth audible.
"Finish what? Arthur, you're overreacting --" Matt starts, standing up as well.
"Just tell him, Kaz."
"Kaz?" Matt turns, his heart starting to race.
Karen sighs, and sits down properly, crossing her legs under her, pulling the sheet up to her waist. "I've been talking with Steven --" No. He's been avoiding thinking about this, and now is not a good time. No. "-- And this is going to be my last series. Our last series. We might do a few episodes of the next one, they're still talking about how to split up the schedule, but..." She shrugs. "That's it. I wanted to make sure we ended on a high note, before it got too repetitive."
He bites his lip. He doesn't know what to say, but the reflex to joke takes care of that for him. "Should've thought of that before he had Rory die in almost every --" there's a click as the front door closes and he looks away from her. Arthur's gone. "Did he seriously just sneak out while you were breaking up with me?"
Kaz turns from frowning at the door to frown at him. "I'm not breaking up with you. Arthur and I have both talked about this, and we're not --"
"Maybe you need to talk to him again, because that's not the impression I just got." He can't help snapping.
"I don't know what Arthur's problem is, but he was fine when we talked yesterday, unless you --" Karen stops and throws herself backwards on the bed, her hands coming up over her face. She lets out a quiet scream behind them, and Matt's caught between wanting to run away and wanting to touch her knee, to fix something, make her take it back.
Her hands slide down. "I'm sorry," she says. "I kept trying to find a good time to tell you, but there's never going to be one." She laughs. "Might as well pick the worst time possible." She holds a hand out to him, and he can't help but take it, let her pull him in, sprawl all over her, like he could pin her down. But she's got him wrapped around her finger, and she knows it. She kisses him, and he gives in to it immediately, a sudden clock ticking down over every moment he has with her. With Arthur.
He pulls away reluctantly. "Arthur --"
Kaz sighs. "That, I really have no idea about."
As if that morning wasn't bad enough, Arthur gets tenser and tenser as the day goes on. People are starting to step gingerly around him, though at least no one really has any idea why he's so tense. It's been a bad day all around the shoot -- the recent blizzard has made road conditions horrible, the director injured himself on the ice so he's hobbling around and they're behind schedule, and they're shooting on location at Caerphilly Castle, so there's no insulation and no god damn heat. Matt's frozen through but he's frozen a smile on as well, whereas Arthur seems to be taking out whatever's wrong on anyone who gets near him, and the Red Rad.
Matt's torn between trying to give him some kind of support and just letting him get it all out of his system. He can't remember seeing Arthur ever upset like this before. He flips between sitting in stony silence or talking continuously to Confidential whenever Matt or Kaz try to talk to him, and they quickly give up. Arthur's relaxed enough when the camera's on him, it's only when they're breaking for longer than four or five minutes that the tension seeps back into his shoulders. If this thing spills from offstage onto the camera, they're well and truly done for.
So he and Karen escape outside to play a few rounds of not-horseshoes with the rest of the cast, then to do a bit for Confidential while the others do some filming without them. Matt's aware that he's sticking with Karen like glue, but she doesn't seem to mind, playing into his over-the-top teasing. It's dangerously close to flirting on camera, but she doesn't back off one bit.
They make their way back to the unit setup slowly. Arthur hasn't joined them at all, and the schedule's had him free for the last half hour. Matt bumps Karen with his hip. "What do you want to do about this?"
She frowns. "I don't know. Arthur's never acted like this before -- certainly not about a blowjob. So it has to be what I said, but I'm not sure what about it he took badly -- and if he won't say, I don't know what I can do."
He nods, and brushes a quick kiss across her cheek. "We'll catch him after shooting ends. And meantime, stick close to him when we can. Don't let him push you off."
"Ha," Karen mutters. "Easier said than done."
So he makes one more stab at it when Confidential pushes the three of them together, asking how the day's been. Matt's got no polite answer so he just repeats the question, like he's the one giving the interview. Arthur's apparently got no such qualms any more. His bitter response is said in that dry tone that leaves people unsure if it's sarcasm or truth, and they usually take it for sarcasm. But it's not, not in this case. Matt laughs it off for the camera, but inside his stomach clenches, and he just wants to shake Arthur.
Matt finds himself losing patience with Arthur's sour mood quickly. He's glad that the Confidential crew has either finally noticed the bad mood or is just choosing to lay low -- after a year and a half of filming it's beginning to feel less like a backstage special and more like an in-house version of media control. He'd prefer to be in a mood if that's how he's feeling, rather than have to button it all up.
And he is in a mood, and Kaz is in a mood, and of course it's not just whatever's upset Arthur, it's the fact that they're leaving, but the entirety of the regular crew is starting to give them uncertain looks as they pick up on the tension, and none of them can say a thing. It's probably only the fact that their characters are all supposed to be at odds with each other in these episodes that prevents the game from being given away entirely. Still, it's ridiculous, and exactly the thing everyone means when they talk about what a bad idea it is to have sex with someone you're working with. He should've kept with the football plan -- the only potential failure there involved bodily injury.
Arthur frankly looks miserable as well, but it's Karen's concerned report that apparently no one has caught Arthur napping on anyone .txte this whole thing started that he finally loses it. "Right, we need to have a talk with him, whether he wants it or not."
Karen nods. "Intervention time."
Kaz ambushes Arthur once they're back at the studio -- there's too many people around, he can't kick up a fuss without drawing too much attention. She corrals him into his trailer, where they can have at least a modicum of privacy. Matt waits inside, to make sure no one else is there with other business. But it's dinner time, so they're in luck. As soon as the two of them are inside, he reaches past them to turn the rarely-used lock.
Arthur half collapses against the wall, his face a mess of conflicting emotions. Mostly, though, he looks tired -- like he's waiting for bad news and just wants to have it over with.
Matt pulls him forward into a full-body hug, wrapping his arms around the other man and burying his face in his neck. Arthur just kind of lets him, offering no resistance whatsoever. But at least he's not pulling away, so he takes that as a good sign and holds on, breathing in the sharp scent of his skin, the chemical smell of hair product and makeup remover.
"Shouting me down's not going to work this time, this isn't Sharks, mate," he says at last.
Arthur laughs weakly, finally grabbing hold of whatever part of Matt he can reach, his grip tight. "Sorry, I'm sorry -- it's my stupid head, once I get started I just can't manage to work my way backwards."
Karen reaches around Matt to kiss Arthur on the temple. "That's what other people are for, numpty. Getting your head on straight." Matt unfolds one arm to wrap around her instead, which gives Arthur a chance to get his arms up as well, and they're quickly tangled in a three-way hug around Arthur. It should be awkward, but none of them care. All the fight has gone out of Arthur, instead he's soaking in all the affection he can.
It's probably a good five minutes before Karen pulls back. She cups Arthur's head in her hands and kisses him briefly on the lips. "Right. Explain yourself. And don't worry about sounding stupid or anything, because you've already done the stupid part; that's over and done with, okay?" She sits down on the bed, still holding his hands, while Matt continues his human octopus impression, because he can. "Trying to throw this all on me was totally not cool."
"Sorry," Arthur apologizes at once. "I didn't mean to. I just -- one idea latched onto the other, and I thought once you knew, that really would be the end of it -- it's stupid, it really is," he insists. "But a couple people I've been with in the past have taken it the wrong way, so now I try to avoid it. But Kazza, you hit it right on the head."
She frowns. "About the blowjobs, or leaving?"
"Neither." Arthur laughs, a little rusty. "I just, um, I like sex better when I'm not awake."
Matt doesn't let go of him, because this is obviously not a good moment to do so, but he wishes he could see Arthur's face. "How does that work?" he asks, unable to picture it. "For you, I mean."
Arthur's quiet for a moment before he replies. "You know how ridiculous it is to film things like sex scenes. There's a dozen people watching you and offering critiques. All the ridiculous parts of sex just get more and more apparent when you have to look at it objectively. I can't turn that part of my brain off any more. Too often I'm thinking about whether something looks good, and not how it makes me feel, or how it makes the other person feel. I can push it down, but it takes some work." Matt thinks about this. He definitely gets what Arthur's talking about -- the number of jokes he and Karen made just for a scene with one awkward kiss, the few live plays he'd done that had intimate scenes -- the only ones where he truly prayed that he'd never have to work with an understudy. "But if I can get my brain to let go, and skip over the analytical part of my mind, then there's just the pleasure part. It kind of... seeps into your head, the good bits."
"Does the pot do that for you, too?" Karen asks.
"Yeah," Arthur says at once. He's relaxed back into Matt completely as he's explained, tension seeping away as they listen. His voice has brightened a little as well, lost its hesitancy. "Like with the scripts. It takes me out of an analytical place and instead I'm just there."
Matt finds himself nodding along, as it suddenly all clicks together for him. "The constant napping."
Arthur blushes. "Actually, I just like the excuse to get handsy."
That breaks the last of the tension as Matt and Karen start laughing. He finally lets go of Arthur, and they join Kaz on the bed. She kisses Arthur, and Matt kisses them both.
He's got months, maybe a year left, depending on how filming's spread out. That's -- well, it's better than nothing. It's time to think. Plan.
It's probably for the best that they don't tell Confidential about the two-day mini vacation they have over winter hols, never leaving Matt's flat, or putting on more than a bathrobe. So they just say they didn't even talk to each other over the break.
The amount of talking was minimal, so it's nearly true.
They're not filming any scenes with Arthur this afternoon -- Rory's currently unconscious in the hold of an alien medical bay, so he's off to do some audio work instead. So it's just him and Kazza eating lunch together.
"You ready for tomorrow?" he asks her. They're filming the medical bay tomorrow, and there's a lot of intense work planned.
"I think so." She nods. "We'll see how it goes." She wiggles her script a little. "And you get to continue your love affair with the TARDIS."
He laughs. "I thought that bit was lovely, actually."
Kaz grins back at him. "You would. Arthur was right, you really do fall in love easily, don't you?"
He looks at her carefully. "Maybe I just meet a lot of amazing people." Her cheeks brighten a little, which just makes him grin harder. He taps her foot with his. She taps back, a little harder, and soon they're engaged in a full on foot-war and laughing instead of eating. Kaz play-smacks him with her script, and from there it's a full body fight, like 9-year-olds on a playground.
"They never show the prep part of this in the pornos, I had no idea it would be this elaborate," Karen complains. "It's almost as bad as the flying harnesses."
"You've never done this before?" Matt rebuckles one of the straps at her thigh, just because he can.
"I told you, my one girlfriend was strictly anti-cock, even fake plastic ones." She wiggles her hips, and the cock in question sways with the movement.
"It would probably be impolite to say she was missing out," he allows, "but this is.txtredibly sexy." He kisses her inner thigh, working his way up, behind the silicone and leather of the strap-on and harness, to her vulva. She lets him explore for a minute, then pushes him off.
"Stop, or we'll never make it out of the room, and that's not really the goal, is it?"
"No," he agrees, sinking back to his knees for a moment before standing. Kaz is definitely satisfied with the harness now, though, so she turns off the lights and they slip back into the dark bedroom.
There's some dim light from down the hall, and the window, enough to see Arthur asleep on the bed. The amber of the streetlamps highlights the shallow curves of his shoulders, the muscles of his back. He's breathing deep and even -- the same way he was all day when they were filming the scenes in the alien medical bay. Matt had been thinking about their plan every spare second, and from the way Arthur was constantly leaning into him or Kaz whenever he got the chance, he wouldn't be surprised if Arthur had as well.
He brushes a hand over Arthur's back, pulling the sheet down with him. There's no reaction from Arthur -- definitely asleep. He slides onto the bed then, and cups Arthur's face to kiss him. His lips are slack, sleep-soft, but he's warm, and pliant in a way that still suggests strength behind it, so it's not as strange as Matt thought it might be. He can kiss Arthur for as long as he wants, without the man laughing and urging him on to other things.
He pauses as the bed shifts when Karen joins them, and between the two of them they arrange Arthur so he's more on his side than his chest, facing Matt, one leg curled up a little, knee crossed over Matt's, a slight embrace that also gives Kaz more room to work. She kisses the back of Arthur's neck and smiles over his shoulder at Matt. He grins back at her, and then she's kissing him as well.
He kisses Arthur again, and Arthur's subconscious is starting to get with the picture, as he starts to wrap himself around Matt, leaning into the touch, seeking more. Then Kaz starts to stroke over his back, his arse, his thighs, and the soft sigh of breath becomes an actual moan.
Definitely more responsive. Arthur's usually pretty quiet. But not tonight. His breath is ragged and sharp as Kaz opens him up with her fingers, stretching him and brushing against his prostate with slow strokes. Arthur's hard, white-knuckled fingers grasping at Matt and the sheets. He's gone, looking abandoned in a way he never does, absolutely lost in it. Matt kisses him hard on the mouth, forcing his breathing into something less rapid, rolling his hips and grinding their erections together, to see what that does.
Kaz's eyes are bright with excitement now, she's whispering a steady stream of words to Arthur and him -- "yes, just like that, that's gorgeous. Oh my god, Arthur, fuck, you have such a pretty arse, I'm going to fuck it so hard. You're going to love it." She fucks her way into him, and Matt can feel Arthur's body react, just take it. "So good."
Arthur moans into Matt's mouth, and his eyes are still closed, there's no way he can be asleep, he never sleeps this deeply, but he's absolutely pliant in their hands as they set up a rhythm, fucking him like a toy. Matt doesn't last long at all before he's coming, and the slick of semen between them just allows Arthur to grind harder. He reaches a hand between them to stroke Arthur, hard strokes, jerking him off faster and faster. Kaz grabs his hips and changes her angle slightly. "Come on, come for me, Arthur. Do it."
She reaches around and wraps her hand around Matt's on Arthur's cock and then it's a quick one-two, and Arthur lets out an actual shout, his eyes flying open as he comes explosively, all over the three of them in long pulses.
Arthur seems to be in some kind of stunned recovery mode as Kaz slips out of him, sliding onto his back and just staring at the ceiling. Matt's not entirely sure what to make of it, so he folds his hand around Arthur's as he leans over him to help Kaz out of the harness. Her quim is sopping wet, and and it's no work at all before she comes, hot and sharp on his tongue.
They're all just a worn-out pile after that, Matt laid out over Arthur's thighs and knobby knees, his head on Kaz's stomach. But nobody moves, or pushes him off, until eventually he recovers and slides off on his own. Arthur makes a vague grab at him, and recaptures his hand, but that's all he can manage for another moment as his entire body rebels against the idea of moving. Another moment, though, and he's able to rearrange himself until his head lands on the pillow next to Arthur's.
Arthur kisses his cheek softly. "You realize we still have most of a week left filming on this set, and I'm not going to be able to think of anything else, right?"
"God, don't remind me," Karen mutters. She curls herself around Arthur's back, arms sliding around his waist. "I'm just glad we're done with the CPR scene." Arthur laughs, and she kisses the back of his neck again.
"I can't believe you don't have any food in here." Arthur's digging through the cupboards of Matt's kitchen again.
"I have plenty of food," he protests without getting up.
"Wheat germ is not food." He can hear the eye-roll from here. "You've got a box of pasta noodles, a thing of wheat germ and what is this? Soy sauce. How do you live?"
"Take out. And groceries on the week-end, but I wasn't here the last one, remember?" Karen laughs at that. "Oh, don't you laugh. You weren't here either, and it was your fault I didn't get back in time to do anything more than a dozen loads of laundry."
"I thought you had a laundry service."
"Not anymore. My pants started disappearing."
"Um, that might have been me." Matt turns to stare at Karen. She bites back a smile.
"Oh good, if Kaz cops to it, that means I don't have to, right?"
He whips his head around. Arthur's leaning through the doorway, a bowl of something in one hand, grinning madly.
"Have the two of you been conspiring to steal my pants?"
"I had no idea she was going after them, actually." Arthur shrugs, and flops back down onto the couch with the two of them, holding his cereal carefully. "But it's not like I can steal your sweaters and not have you notice."
"Actually, you might be able to get away with that," Kaz corrects him. "I can't, though, definitely."
"I'm sleeping with a bunch of thieves." Then he thinks of something. "Have you nicked anything of Arthur's?"
"Nope. Haven't had a chance."
Arthur laughs. "And Kazza would definitely notice if her underthings started turning up in odd places."
"You get your own fancy knickers, Darvo. I like mine, and I'm not sharing."
"Don't tempt him," Matt says, trying not to picture it.
"Hey, you're the one of us who already has pink pants." Arthur nudges his knee.
"No, see, I'm not color-blind, so I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're pink."
"Pink isn't even an actual color!"
"Are you going to go that route?" Arthur laughs. "That's like arguing that 'their' isn't an acceptable possessive noun. You're technically correct, but only total anoraks give a damn. Besides, are you really ashamed to have pink underwear?"
He gives in. "No. Not really." Now they're both laughing at him. Arthur gives up on the cereal and sets it on the table.
"Well that's Christmas presents for the both of you sorted, then," Karen says. "Fancy knickers all around."
"Ooh, can I get animal print, please?" Arthur asks. He's turned towards them on the sofa, and propped his chin up on Matt's shoulder. He's probably going to nod off any minute now.
"Done." Kaz turns to Matt. "Any special requests?"
Kaz stares at him narrowly. "You're working your way to a 'bigger on the inside' joke, aren't you?"
He laughs, caught, and she smacks him lightly on the shoulder. Arthur groans. "Think of something original, mate."
"Hey, I'm the Doctor, I can make that claim if I want to."
"No," Kaz says. "You're Matt. And we like you that way."
He ducks his head.
"That's right. Not subject to cancellation or production limitations --" Arthur puts in.
"-- And able to use the phone or come for a visit when the camera stops filming." Karen finishes.
He looks at her carefully. Arthur pokes him in the side and smiles up at him.
"We're not quite done with Doctor Who. I'm still figuring out exactly how I want to finish up." Karen slings an arm around Matt's shoulder. "But Doctor Who is television. It's fiction. This is real. And yeah, it'll be different, not working together any more. But being apart doesn't mean you stop loving someone, does it?"
"No," he says slowly.
"So there it is. Anything else is details."
Some 'details.' But she's right -- he can't imagine not loving Karen or Arthur, no matter what they're doing or where they are. It's the reason he falls so hard and so fast. He's never been good at falling out of love.
"Leave it for later," Arthur says from his shoulder. Tempting devil. "If you spend all your time worrying about later, you'll never get anything done now." Arthur yawns. "Besides, if you're going to worry about anything, it really should be the contents of your cupboard."
"I told you, I haven't been home much," he says, letting it drop. "Besides, the two of you seem to be food thieves as well as pants thieves." Not that he minds.
"You know, they have that online as well," Kaz says. She starts mocking his online shopping habits as Arthur drops off almost in his lap, but he's only listening enough to argue. The rest of him is soaking in this perfect moment and looking forward, for the first time in a while, to what might be next.