The Green Room

The room was, it must be admitted, well furnished and comfortable. It was a bit spacious, but that was more due to the necessities of space of the adjoining room to the west. The room on the east was smaller, but all were painted with the same dull, green paint. There was a table set up along one wall with a coffee pot, hot water pot for tea, and mugs. At certain times during the day there would be platters of food -- and at other times in the day there would be platters of condoms, toys, and various knick-knacks to assist those needing to rehearse their scenes.

The room's occupants all lounged around in differing degrees of impatience and resignation, as they waited to see who would be called on next. A knock on the door drew all their attentions, but any hopefulness was shattered when the door opened and two new people walked in.

"Is this the right place?" The shorter of the two men asked. He was holding a slip of paper, which he glanced at before looking back at the men gathered in the room.

A tall, dark-haired man with a pronounced Chicago accent groaned. "Not another one," he said in disgust.

"Calm down," hissed the man beside him.

"Yeah, like you have any room to talk. 200 pages later you're still going strong." This was from a man on the other side of the room -- tall, hair cropped short, with a decidedly military bearing.

"Hey, you're the ones who got the call last time so I wouldn't complain," the dark-haired man shot back.

This elicited a snort from a shorter, curly-haired man. "Yeah. A whole half a scene. Not even two hours. And this was after what? A whole month of you being called? Or has it been two? If I were you I'd appreciate the break."

"Oh, like that was our fault your scene got cut short." The Italian responded.

Back at the doorway, the two newcomers exchanged a look. "I guess this is the right place." His friend nodded warily. Suddenly a third figure appeared behind them -- literally, as he flashed into the room. The man, clad in black leather and wearing a dangerous-looking sword, gave the room a dismissive look. "Well, isn't this cozy?"

The occupants of the room looked at the newcomer in confusion for a moment, then the light-haired man wearing glasses and dressed in a green military coverall -- and who had anything but a military bearing -- ventured, "Threesome?"

The curly-haired man nodded in agreement. "Looks like. Man, you'd think centaurs would be kinky enough for them!"

The blonde sitting beside the Italian shot him a quelling look. "You got something against centaurs, boy?"

The man shook his head, but shrugged as well, as if to say 'not like I'm going to admit it in front of you'.

The last man who had yet to speak, laughed at this point. The blonde turned his quelling look to him. "You have a problem?"

"Me? Not at all -- we've got one of our own in the works." He nodded towards the adjacent room. "It promises to be... interesting."

The Italian gave his partner a fond smile. "You can say that again. Lemme know if you want any pointers -- centaurs can be tricky to handle."

"Handle?" The blonde turned his frown on his partner.

By this time the three newcomers were simply staring, from one man to the next, in growing bewilderment. "Maybe we're in the wrong place," the tallest of the three suggested.

The guy sitting next to the man in glasses, who was wearing an identical uniform shook his head. "Oh, this is the right place," he assured them. "Though you'll probably wish it wasn't soon enough."

"I'm Daniel," the man in glasses said, then nodded to his companion. "That's Jack."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Hercules. This is Iolaus, and that's Ares." He said the last with a hint of distaste, almost hidden by politeness.

"The Iolaus?" Daniel repeated, with an interested expression.

Iolaus grinned, and stuck his tongue out at Hercules.

"Cool," the curly-haired guy piped up. "Blair," he said, then added with a grin, "The big guy glowering in the corner's Jim."

"I'm not glowering." Jim glowered at his partner. He gave the three newcomers a nod. Ares looked him over once, then glowered back.

Blair laughed. "He is way better at that than you are, Jim."

Iolaus looked at the last two remaining of the room's occupants. "And you would be?"

The Italian just glared. Blair laughed again. "He's better than you too, Joe."

Joe didn't reply, but his partner answered Iolaus. "This is Joe, I'm Levon. Welcome to the Green Room, boys."

Ares gave Levon a glower. "I'm not a boy."

Levon stared at him for a moment, then looked at Blair. "I think you're right."

"Little touchy aren't you?" Joe asked Ares.

Ares stalked over, pretending to be unaware of how every man in the room glanced at least once to his leather pants as he moved. "I was in my temple, planning a glorious campaign to rid the world of this irritating little general once and for all -- him and his elephants -- when I get told to drop everything and show up here. For what? To stand around and wait!"

"Join the club," Jack muttered.

"Hey, we certainly didn't ask you here," Joe told Ares. "We were doing just fine without you."

"Ignore him," Daniel advised. "He's been out of sorts ever since he got blown up."

"Blown up?" Iolaus asked, then shook his head. "I don't want to know, do I?"

Hercules looked at Jack. "What did you mean, we'd wish this wasn't the right place? I thought we were here because--" He stopped suddenly, and faintly blushed.

Iolaus giggled.

Joe rolled his eyes. "Great. Another giggler."

"Hey! What's wrong with giggling?" Blair challenged.

"I just think it's cute they finally found someone who blushes. Besides him, of course." Jack gave his own partner a side glance. Daniel glared. And blushed.

Jim, meanwhile, had walked over to Joe and was towering over the man where he sat on one of the couches. "If you have a problem...."

"And what if I did?" Joe responded glaring back. "Tone down the blessed protector act, why don't you, Ellison. The kid's not going to fall apart 'cause I made fun of the way he laughs."

Levon grabbed Joe's arm, holding him down. "Will you stop, already? You've been at everyone's throat for a week, now."

Joe sighed and then slowly untensed. "You know why."

"I know why." Levon put his arm around his partner, and pulled him close. "But yelling at them ain't gonna help."

Blair had, by this time, walked up beside Jim and taken him by the arm. As he tugged Jim back, he gave Levon and Joe an apologetic look. "Sorry... he's really frustrated, you know? Trying to protect me from my own past isn't easy."

As Levon and Blair pulled their respective partners aside, things in the room quieted. Daniel took the moment to approach Iolaus. "Would you mind if I asked you something?"

"Sure," Iolaus answered. "Go ahead."

"Well, I've done some studies of the ancient civilizations, and I'm a little confused about which account of the.. uh.. Chicken incident is really true."

Iolaus rolled his eyes and Ares stalked over. "I'll tell you what really happened--"

Hercules grabbed Ares by the collar, and hauled him back. "The man said he wanted the truth, Ares. Go simmer down."

Jack gave each of them a long, measuring look. "You guys can't be a threesome."

Ares snorted. "Hardly. What would someone like me be doing with someone like him?" The word dripped derision as he nodded towards Hercules.

"Then what are all of you doing here?" Daniel asked, confused.

Both Hercules and Ares turned and looked at Iolaus, who fidgeted then shrugged and said, "They couldn't make up their minds who they wanted me with."

Jack laughed. Iolaus turned and demanded, "What's so funny?"

"I'm sorry... but geez -- are they both really your type?"

Iolaus looked from Hercules, muscular tanned body in brown leather pants to Ares, muscular tanned body in black leather pants. He shrugged.

Jack nodded. "I withdraw the question."

There was silence for an awkward moment.

"They're taking longer than usual to make up their minds," Blair observed.

Jack snorted. "Yeah, right. What's their average? An hour?"

"Well they don't normally sit down and start talking about it seriously, for a while." Daniel interjected.

"And the longer they take the more likely they'll do something with plot," Joe added.

"They do stuff with plots most of the time," Blair pointed out.

Jim snorted. "Not on purpose though."

Blair gave him a grin. "I still want to do the one where I'm a dragon. Most of the plot is already sketched out."

Jim gave him a look. "Are you kidding? That's a gen story! I wouldn't be able to touch you without arresting myself."

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Everyone in the room turned, as the door between their room and the west room opened. A head stuck in. "Sorry to bug you guys but we're out of coffee. Can we...?" He waved a hand towards the coffee pot.

"Sure, man. Help yourself." Blair waved the newcomer over to the coffee pot in the corner.

The three ancient Greeks stared at the man. Finally, when he'd taken the full pot and left, Hercules asked, "Why did that man look like a painting?"

"He's a cartoon."

"Don't ask," Jim advised Hercules as the latter opened his mouth. "You really don't want to know."

"Huh. Okay."

Iolaus, on the other hand, was looking at the now closed door curiously. "Hey, isn't that the room we were supposed to be in?"

"Be glad you're in here, and not in there," Jim interupted him. "You stand a much better chance of getting anything at all once you get in here."

"Yeah," Blair agreed. "That one is entirely too fickle." He stopped speaking, suddenly, and began to unobtrusively scratch at the rash which had inexplicably appeared. Jim sighed, and whispered that he needed to stop saying things like that.

"And the other one's not?" Joe asked. "She keeps saying she's going to write us more but we just end up waiting and waiting..."

Jack nodded. "Tell me about it. If it hadn't been for that crossover..."

Blair shrugged. "I've never noticed a problem."

"Of course not," Joe sniffed. "You're in every one of her wip aren't you?"

"Not Aftermath," Blair pointed out.

Even Jim laughed at that. "I'm not sure that counts, Chief. That one is from her pre-slash days and has been sitting untouched for two years."

"At least you have some written down," Iolaus pointed out, his earlier good humour fading.

"I wouldn't worry," Daniel said. "The fact that you're here indicates you'll be getting at least one."

"If they can decide who to pair him with," Ares said, moving over where he could loom over Iolaus, and leered. Iolaus leered back cheerfully. Hercules rolled his eyes.

"And if you can get their attention off the centaur stuff long enough," Blair added.

"Hey!" Levon stood. "Like you didn't have two years' worth before we ever got here."

Joe added, "It isn't our fault that's the only thing getting any decent responses."

Blair frowned. "That's not true. Spiritbabies did pretty well."

"Yeah, for a four page story." Joe shook his head.

"What about Destiny's Bond? That did fantastically." Daniel interjected.

"You're just happy because she promised you the sequel." Joe griped at him.

Hercules stepped over to Jack and asked in a low voice. "Is it always like this?"

Jack nodded. "More or less."

"Wonderful." Hercules muttered, giving the bickering couples a brief glance. He went back over to stand by Iolaus' side. "You want to stick around?" He asked doubtfully.

Iolaus hesitated. "It sounds like we have a better chance of getting a story in here than where we were. And we haven't even been invited to the other room. We were still just hanging around in the corridor." He gestured towards the door to the east. "What do you think?"

Hercules considered, then nodded. "You're probably right. Although we did get that offer of a print story--"

"Yeah, but that's supposed to be a short, one-off. If we're here, we might get the chance at a series like their centaur one." He nodded at Joe and Levon, who were no longer arguing with Jim and Blair, but still exchanging occasional glares. "So we'll stay," Iolaus said with a decisive nod. Decision made he wandered over to see what this "coffee" drink tasted like.

Ares followed him, giving his half-brother a threatening, 'he's gonna be mine and you know it' smirk. Iolaus slapped Ares' hand, though, when he tried to steal his coffee mug.

Before the room could descend into chaos, there was a knock at the door.

Everybody's head swiveled to the entrance just as the door was opened and two newcomers walked in. The taller of the two was almost 6' with a muscular build, dark hair and blue eyes and was wearing a smirk as he swaggered in. His companion was an inch or two shorter, with a lot lighter build, curly red-brown hair, green eyes and an asymetrical face caused by a ruined cheekbone.

"Is this the right place?" The shorter of the two men asked in a distinctly British accent, as he eyed a slip of paper uncertainly.