RPF Title: Closure
Movie: 24th day (Spoilers for the movie obviously, hope you have seen it. Or all this would not make sense.. like at all. Movie's bloody good btw.)
Characters: Scott Speedman and James Marsden
Characters: Scott Speedman and James Marsden
Author Notes: Real Person. My first. The boys are more physically affectionate than *most* men their age today. But its just kidding around. No slash intended hehe. Wrote this after I saw The 24th day and, well… the ending of the movie just… leaves you wanting for more. But its not easy to write an ending for this particular story. Instead I ended up with a lot of what if's and maybe's and wordy descriptions of confused emotions of both men at the end of the movie. And you don’t wanna read that crap. Then somehow *this* came out. How do you move on from such a thought provoking movie? How do you just… get on with your lives like it was just a fictitious series of events? And then I wondered if I as part of the audience feels this need for some kind of closure so strongly, what of the actors who lived the parts so vividly? Ack, maybe its just a job for them, they do their thing and go home, who knows. Me… I’m just venting again. Spoilers ahead for the movie, needless to say.
Disclaimer: No infringement intended. All people are their own people, I don’t know them. And since I don’t, I’m guessing this is not how they behave in real lives. I’m sorry for the shameless borrowing of their personas. No money involved, except the amount I spent on the DVD.
Last scene, last shot of the movie. Course there may be re-takes of other stuff in the coming days. But officially, as of now, this was it… they were done.
He was done. Or so he told himself. But it sure didn’t feel like it. In fact, James Marsden felt nowhere remotely near the outermost periphery of *done*. He felt… out of sorts, incomplete.
James ran, out of the dingy little room set they had been working on these last few days. Okay not exactly ran… rushed, straight into his designated *green room*, didn’t slam the door. It simply wasn’t like him to slam doors. Dan, his character probably would. Or maybe he wouldn’t… he was too smoothly subtle for overt displays like that. Or was he? What would he do? How would he react? How is he feeling *currently*… like right this minute… now that he knows he’s positive? What the fuck is going through his head?
Being the diligent character student that he was, James had a pretty good idea, but the thoughts were all so damn complicated and… messed up he was having trouble sorting and rationalizing everything. So often the actor wished he could be a switch-on-switch-off kind of performer like he’d seen so many stalwarts to be. But he just wasn’t. And even now, minutes after the last *and cut* from Tony, he still couldn’t shake himself out of it… he was still Dan.
And Dan was feeling so… so fucked up.
He paced the length of the little room, wheezing with fury, and shock and pain and betrayal and guilt and shock and… god this couldn’t be happening to him! This just couldn’t!
“Get a grip Marsden.”
He muttered to himself over and over and it wasn’t working. He needed to curb this, this turbulence inside of him. It didn’t make sense! It was complete nonsense. James wasn’t Dan. James wasn’t in denial about anything. James wasn’t HIV positive.
His thoughts were interrupted by a sound rap on the door.
“Jimmy you in there?’
Tom. No… damnit. Scott. Scott Speedman his co-actor on the film. Not Tom.
“Yeah come in.”
Dan stopped pacing. James stood leaning by the dresser rubbing his temple with his right hand knuckles just as Scott walked in.
“Hey… you alright buddy?”
What a weird thing to ask.
“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Scott Speedman wasn’t looking in James’ direction when the scene was wrapped up. That was the requirement, to not look at Dan even after he screams at Tom to do so. How could he? Tom knew what he would see if he turned around… the last of Dan’s denials shattering to splinters around his tired, trembling body. The last of his incessant white lies spilling down those high cheekbones with the water from his eyes. His very last struggles to avoid and ignore the truth. And Tom really wasn’t interested in all of that. He had his own truckloads of guilt and pain to deal with.
So Tom didn’t. Turn around that is. But just as Scott did, when Tony his director called out to wrap it up amid all the clapping and the cheering and the pats on his back… he noticed someone important missing. Tony took note of his other star’s sudden rapid exit but probably in his sheer understanding of how these things worked… decided to let James be.
But Scott was worried.
It’d been a short schedule, small cast, small movie. Ambitious yeah, but not *that* ambitious. Over the last few days of shooting, he’d observed his famed (more than himself for sure) colleague go through the motions of comfortably easing into Dan, his character’s persona. Amazing how he went from James Marsden to Dan *something*, Tony alone knows what… but he could hardly remember ever seeing him switch back.
These last few days in Philadelphia, living in the same hotel next door to each other, eating and hanging out together… the duo had become pretty close friends. And Speedman knew, by virtue of that friendship how intensely James felt about his role in the movie.
“Tony, something’s up. I should go check on Jim”
The director was busy frowning at the playback and didn’t look up.
“Go ahead. I’ll join you in a minute.”
So here he was, Scott in James’ room. And looking at the forced demeanor of his friend, he knew it’d been the right thing to do.
“James you’re doing it again.”
Scott let out a gasp of mild frustration.
“Working yourself up into a fit! You always do that after an intense scene.”
James was equally irritated at his act of nonchalance having failed so miserably.
“Not….! Not after every scene! Okay so it happens once in a while but you know me, I can't help it.”
“Yes I do know.”
Scott brought his temper under control and moved closer to Jim.
“And this one was particularly hard to work through I can understand that.”
Jim couldn’t look at him yet.
“Jimmy it's just a movie. A fucking movie! It's not real.”
Jimmy flinched at that, and looked at Scott for once.
“Thank you so much for stating the obvious, I am ever so grateful to you.”
Scott refused to acknowledge the sarcasm.
“Well right now with you being so anal about it… somebody had better make it damn obvious if it aint.”
James didn’t reply, just looked away again.
Scott realized his friend was clamming up again and backtracked.
“Jimmy. What’s on your mind? Talk to me dude.”
And Jimmy tried. He really did, but nothing came out.
“You’re not Dan dude. You’re Jimmy Marsden the actor. Whatever just happened, didn’t happen to you.”
And that was the trigger needed.
“I know that Scott. That’s not the point.”
“Then what is?’
“The point is that… damn it. The point is that there are thousands maybe millions of Dan out there! Living their lives so dangerously, in complete denial. And they’re nothing short of killers on the loose. They’re… it's very disturbing.”
Scott considered the barely traceable quiver in his friend’s voice, the drooping shoulders, the lowered eyes… and weighed it against the words being uttered.
He stepped closer to the dresser and went to stand beside James leaning against it.
“That’s true. I can understand you feeling helpless about the situation and wanting to do something about it. And I know you already do! You have that HIV awareness campaign you’re part of aren’t you? And you donate to research funds twice a year. You’ve known for years HIV is real and the Dans of the world are as real as they can get.”
Scott pursed his lips, waiting for his friend to add more. He didn’t.
“Jim the idea of this movie is not to condemn people like Dan as villains or killers. It is to shock them out of their destructive denials by portraying a worst case scenario.”
James nodded vigorously.
“Yes I understand that but… what next? What happens *after* they’ve been shocked and frightened to an inch of their lives and been delivered the ultimate sentence? What happens then?”
Scott sighed deeply. He put a lanky arm across his friend’s shoulders, almost holding him up.
“I thought you were okay with the script. Hell you loved it.”
James didn’t understand the question, he looked sideways at his friend with his brows furrowed… his confusion and misery plainly evident in his beautiful face.
“The slightly ambiguous ending? Open to interpretation?”
“Yeah sure I’m okay with it. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Scott just… looked at him. James squirmed under the weight of the bigger man’s arm around him.
“Alright so I am not fine with it *right now* okay? Reading the scene is so much different than actually shooting it. For the last three days we’ve been rehearsing this, building up to this… this point in the story. And putting myself in Dan’s shoes… feeling whatever it is Dan would feel knowing that all his lies and affectations have been exposed… knowing he wasn’t the victim after all… that he’s HIV positive… and that he’s responsible for so many… so goddamn many lives ruined. Because of his cowardice, and his carelessness. All fucking him!”
Scott tightened his hold on the slightly trembling frame beside him. James had worked himself up big time this time. And Scott could understand it in part.
“Jimmy hey… it's okay. I realize you’ve practically become Dan for the duration of this movie. And you knew all this before you accepted the role, you knew he was the one responsible anyway. But it's probably just hitting you now, at the very end of it all.”
Jimmy had his eyes closed, threw his head back into Scott’s shoulder and let it rest there.
“You rationalized, you got into the character… you believed in every word, every thought that was Dan’s. And being Dan, you’re probably feeling some part of the burden of that immense guilt yourself, and probably looking for a suitable explanation. A reason for his denial, his careless behavior. You’re probably hoping for some sort of redeeming factor in this whole gig that would make you feel better about yourself. Rather your *Dan* self right?”
Jimmy exhaled loudly, nodding, frowning again.
“Yes and no. I mean yeah, I knew Dan was the proverbial *bad guy* of the movie. But this story doesn’t allow you to look at stuff in black and white does it. Somewhere down the line, the grays completely overwhelmed my understanding of the character and now, I’m not so sure whether to feel sorry for me… for Dan or just be like.. great. He deserved it anyway. I can't… I don’t know how to… how to move on from Dan, leave him at this… very frightening, very lonely, and extremely distressing point in his life and just… forget about him?”
Jimmy looked up into Scott’s face anxious for an answer. Scott waited.
“I need to get closure on this one dude.”
Scott and James had been encouraged to become physically comfortable with each other during the course of the shooting. There weren’t many love scenes but overall, it was what you’d call a *hands-on* movie since one was the kidnapper, another the hostage. With all the manhandling going on, the initial reservations of the men had gradually disappeared. So it wasn’t weird or squicky at all for James and Scott to stand this close to each other.
Scott rubbed his friend’s back awhile before enveloping his shoulders again, trying to comfort him and encourage him to keep talking.
“What… what would you do?”
“I mean Tom. Sure he kind of empathizes with Dan now since he’s tested positive but… he would never forgive Dan would be? *Could* he?”
Scott gave that a thought, bit his lower lip.
“Honestly, I think on the 26th day, he blames himself more than he blames Dan. He is more introspective at this point, the shock’s probably worn off… thanks to Dan and his constant arguments which forced him to like… really *think* about stuff you know.”
James was listening.
“I think he would never really forgive Dan, no… he couldn’t. But then he wouldn’t ever forgive himself either. And yet, his compassion for people in general would never let him harm Dan in any way. Because he knows that Dan’s being punished enough as it is.”
James wasn’t particularly satisfied with the answer, because it only highlighted the confusion even Tom would have in terms of how he would deal with Dan. And wouldn’t Dan feel angry at having been proven wrong and a liar, while Tom was right all along?
“Oh sure, Tom’s the better man, the *good* guy. And Dan’s the fucking brat!”
Scott couldn’t help but chuckle at the whine in Jimmy’s tone, but he knew it was fake. He just squeezed the man closer to himself.
“You wanna know what my closure would be?”
James looked up into his face.
“If I were Tom, I would remember what happened to my wife. Remember how angry he was at the doctor at the hospital? How he just gave her the news and let her go like it was nothing more than a common cold?”
James merely nodded.
“See I would probably let Dan stick around for longer in the apartment, if he wanted to, that is and deal with the news. And if Dan left, I would have followed him… made sure he didn’t do anything stupid. Like run any lights you know what I mean?”
James swallowed. Hard.
“You would do that? For a serial killer?”
Scott breathed, thought about it again, and reached to the same conclusion again.
“I would do that for a victim. Same as me.”
Jimmy stared at him, wide-eyed another moment before smiling sadly and looking away.
“What happens then? They become friends or somethin?”
Now Scott really chuckled. Jimmy heard the husky amusement in his friend’s voice and felt rather foolish having over-reacted in comparison.
“I wouldn’t go that far Jimbo. Dunno really. Could they ever be friends? Maybe. Tom’s a nice guy. But maybe Dan would be too embarrassed and guilty to wanna be around him. It’d be too painful a reminder to him of all the pain he’s caused.”
Jimmy nodded, in agreement.
“Maybe that ought to be his penance. Maybe Tom *should* keep him around so Dan *will* be tortured for the rest of his shortened life.”
Scott stood up straight, exasperated, unsettling James from his place on his shoulder.
“You have to understand people like Dan aren’t *evil*. They’re just too damn scared to face reality. They live in the fantasy that all the bad stuff in life only happens to other people, not them! And you know what, this world is full of people like Dan. Not just in terms of sex and protection. Men, women who cross roads carelessly trusting the guy behind the wheel to not be drunk or rash or both. Guys who smoke, do drugs thinking they had everything under control and that they wouldn’t ever get addicted! Dan’s not the bad guy, he’s just… he’s made mistakes, serious ones. Lethal ones yeah but he’s only human.”
“He’s human *scum*.”
Scott was not sure how to react to such anger. His friend really was taking this personally.
And James got off the dresser and started to pace again. Which is exactly when Tony knocked and without waiting for an answer, walked in.
“Hey dinner’s here. You guys haven’t changed yet?”
Nope. Both were still in their character costumes. And neither replied. Tony gave them a second. Two. Three.
“Alright out with it. What’s up?”
Scott couldn’t think of much to say except…
“Jimmy wants an ending.”
“What do you mean Jimmy wants an ending? We have a perfectly nice ending!”
James had stopped pacing and glared at Scott for his bluntness.
“Don’t listen to him Tony. I’ve mangled the last of his grey cells with my constant whining, leaving him completely incapable of saying anything sensible right now.”
Scott just snorted and studied his friend. James had straightened up in presence of Tony… he wouldn’t show his vulnerable side to anyone except him and Scott felt grateful and touched by the trust his friend showed in him.
Tony looked at one, then the other.
“Alright. Fine, we’ll make an ending for you.”
Both the actors looked up at their director, in total surprise.
“Umm… after Dan reads the report, he drops to his knees and breaks down.”
James wanted to interrupt right here but didn’t get the chance.
“Then… Tom picks him up, like a bride and carries him to the bedroom. Course we’ll have to have another set for the bedroom.”
James’ jaw dropped open.
“Then Tom puts the grieving boy in the middle of the bed and takes off all his clothes which, we’ll manage to get *soiled* somehow, and then he holds him while Dan bawls his eyes out.”
“Wait there’s more. Then when Dan stops howling they figure, what the hell. And they make out but before it gets really graphic the camera pans out and… roll in credits. How’s that?”
Scott had to turn away to control his uncontrollable laughter. James had, by now recognized the gag at his expense.
“That was very insensitive and distasteful of you Tony.”
Tony wore a seriously astounded look on his face.
“You don’t like it? Fine here’s another one… “
James snorted and shook his head in surrender.
“After Dan sees the results, he still doesn’t buy it. And he’s fighting it big time. And he lashes out at Tom for mind-fucking him and all that shit.”
James glared at Scott, who is quiet now and listening intently but still smirking.
“Now our man you see is very compassionate and a real peacetime hero but everyone has their limits right? So when Dan says something real nasty and impolite, Tom loses it and… and…”
James winced and hid his face in his hands.
“… and he puts Dan across his lap right then and there and spanks him. And that’s where we end.. on a good old American ass whupping the brat deserves. Like that?”
Scott is not even bothering to hide his laughter anymore.
“Can we do rehearsals for this? Like several?”
“Not funny Speedman!”
James was really angry, the other two men could see. He was red in the face, gritting his teeth and for some reason… that made the men laugh only harder.
James turned in a huff to walk out of the room.
“Hey hey… hold on. Jimmy wait!”
Scott was at his side in a flash, whirled the smaller man around and enfolded him in his arms… not letting him go. James didn’t stand a chance.
“Let me go Scott.”
“Shh… we were just kidding.”
“Just let go of me.”
“Please just stay. Please. It's okay.”
James struggled half-heartedly, then gave up. Buried his face in Scott’s shoulder for a long while trying to control the blushing. That is until Tony spoke up again. This time the tone of his voice was indicative of his seriousness.
“I wrote this story years ago Jimmy. I’ve lived with it for so long, and have felt the same confusion, the same strange mix of revulsion and compassion for Daniel all this time. I know what you’re feeling because I feel it too. Because the audience will feel it too. And they *need* to. You cant condone carelessness like that in today’s day but at the same time you shouldn’t be indifferent to the suffering of an HIV positive man.”
James made a move to separate and Scott let him this time, but he didn’t wander too far. Tony continued now that he had Jimmy’s undivided attention.
“God I must have written like a hundred and six different endings”
The actors smiled at their director. Scott piped up.
“Any chance there might have been hundred and *seven*?”
And the trio laughed softly at the feebly funny version of an intense conversation from the script. After a moment’s silence, Tony addressed James again.
“Frankly Jim, I don’t know what the ideal ending should be. Because what’s ideal to me, may not be ideal to you.”
“And I thought the message of the movie would get *diluted* somehow if you go beyond this point in the story. I… really don’t want that to happen.”
James lowered his eyes and nodded.
“I completely understand Tony. I don’t want you to change your script. The end is intentionally open to interpretation and people will recognize and appreciate that. They will create their own after-stories. Guess I need to do the same.”
“No issues then? We good?”
James did feel much better. Talking about it with his friends had helped him make peace with the Dan inside him.
Tony turned around to leave.
“Good. Then you don’t mind if we shoot it again? I like the cuts don’t worry about that. Just wanna see if we can do better with natural light. Okay? 7 am tomorrow morning. Sharp.”
And he was gone. Leaving James staring agape after him.
Scott bit back a groan himself. He was tired and sleepy and wanted to go home to his girlfriend, but mostly he understood what Jimmy would be putting himself through again and he wasn’t happy about that.
“That sucks man.”
He studied Jimmy’s profile, the man seemed wary but overall, okay really.
“Hmm. Ack, it's okay. Cool it with the *fatherly* concern Speedman. Stop looking at me like that.”
Scott had never been so relieved to hear the biting sarcasm in his friend’s voice before.
“Hey no I was just wondering…”
James smirked and put his hands on his waist, then turned to face his friend.
“About whether you’d be interested in dry-running any of the… endings Tony suggested? Could be fun, and you never know Tony might actually like it and use it!”
“Comin’ out of the closet are you Speedman?”
Scott flashed his best impish grin.
“What can I say Marsden, you’re *gorgeous*.”
James saw the grin, the look in his friend’s eyes… and dashed for the door. But he wasn’t fast enough. Scott grabbed him by the waist from behind and hauled him onto the large couch by the dresser jumping on top of him. They'd had their fun before with rehearsing and finally shooting the playful jostling scene before, and gotten pretty much into it. Even now as they wrestled like school kids, they couldn’t stop laughing breathlessly. Scott for his part relieved his new buddy of three months was back to his normal cheerful self.
“Turn over Dan, let's practice the ass whupping first.”
“I knew it, I knew you were jealous I got more screen time than you did.”
“Sure you did! Even if it's you hogtied for like only ninety minutes of the film.”
“You liked it didn’t ya? Me all tied up no place to go, you got off on it you fucking perv!”
The wrestling ceased for a moment, only a moment.
“No… don’t even think it. Tickling isn’t manly remember? Not the ribs! Not the ribs!! Oww okay! Stop Speedman!!!”
A/N: TOTAL crack I know. Will never EVER happen I KNOW! :P Fact that's precisely why I wrote it :D