Title: The Play’s The Thing – Sequel to ‘The Young Performers’
Characters: Jack, Ianto, Andy, assorted OCs
Word Count: 1187
Summary: The three boys work and play their way through Secondary School, learning a lot about all kinds of things along the way.
Warnings: Completely AU, set in a universe where Torchwood doesn’t exist.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Play.
Beta: The wonderful zazajb, my advisor in all things school related. Thanks so much, your advice and assistance have been invaluable!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: This is the fourth in a series of AU stories for different prompts on my bingo card, following Jack and Ianto through their school years and beyond. There are seven in total, of wildly varying lengths, this one being the longest.A/N2: Yes, I know the quote I’ve used as the title of this one is from a different play by Shakespeare, but it still seemed apt for this part of the story.
At the start of the summer term, Jack was talking to Mr Atkins, who would be in joint charge of the Year 10 production of Romeo and Juliet. They’d been discussing the upcoming auditions, so Jack had taken the opportunity to say what was on his mind.
“Well, I think I’d make a good Juliet.”
Mr Atkins looked startled.
“Good heavens, Jack, we can’t go re-writing Shakespeare! I’ll admit it’s an intriguingly avant-garde idea, but it’s quite impossible. Juliet is the woman and Romeo is the man; we can’t simply switch the roles around, the audience would never accept it!”
“Oh, but I wasn’t suggesting…”
Mr Atkins cut him off.
“Never mind, Jack, perhaps some other time it will be possible to do something a bit more adventurous, but for this year’s play it’s probably best if we stick with tradition. Anyway, I’m already considering Ianto for the role of Romeo. Why don’t you audition for Mercutio? The character would fit your personality rather well, I think.”
Jack sighed; foiled again. Would he ever get to play one of his dream roles?
“Okay, Mr Atkins, I’ll do that. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, Jack. It’s good to see young people so determined to follow their dreams. You and Ianto are an inspiration. Oh my, there’s the bell for class. You’d better hurry along. I’ll see you both at the auditions,” and with that he strode away.
“Well, you gave it your best shot,” said Ianto, walking up to his friend.
“Wasn’t good enough though, was it? There’s always some reason why I can’t have the role I really want. Fate is cruel.”
“Yeah. You’re right though, you’d have made an awesome Juliet.”
“You really think so?”
“Of course! I’d never lie to you, Jack.”
“I know you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t either; I’ll always tell you the truth, I promise.”
Ianto smiled at him.
“I already know that. You’re my best friend, Jack. I trust you more than anyone. Always have, and always will. Now come on, if we’re not careful we’ll be late for class. The last thing we need is to land ourselves in detention.”
The older they got, the more professional the school auditions became. Students were encouraged to audition for more than one role and got callbacks for the ones they were short-listed for. That meant the audition process this time lasted two days because there were so many people interested in taking part, and understudies needed to be cast as well as the principal players.
Both of the boys were among the dozen or so students auditioning for Romeo. As Mr Atkins suggested, Jack also tried out for Mercutio while Ianto read for Benvolio. They each got callbacks for both roles, so had to stay behind after school again the following day, where they ran into Andy who was up for the part of Tybalt.
This time, the potential Romeos had to read with each of the three possible Juliets. Jack wasn’t at all surprised when Ianto was announced as Romeo, with one of the other boys as his understudy. Juliet was to be played by Emma Lewis, a girl they’d seen before but didn’t really know. She seemed nice enough, though Ianto was a bit uncertain about performing the more romantic aspects of the role with her.
“Do you think I’ll be expected to kiss her?” he asked Jack in a worried whisper.
“I don’t know. But if you do, at least she’s pretty,” Jack replied, also keeping his voice to a whisper.
Ianto glanced surreptitiously at the girl in question.
“Is she? Can’t say I really noticed one way or the other.”
Jack shrugged diffidently.
“Well, John Hart thinks she is.”
“John’s taste is suspect at best, Jack. Have you seen his dog? It’s a French poodle called Candy, it wears a little red bow in its… whatever that tuft on top of its head is called. John thinks it looks cute!” Ianto sounded horrified. “I really don’t think I want to trust his opinion on anything, least of all whether or not a girl is pretty.”
Struggling not to laugh at his flustered friend, Jack tried to calm Ianto down.
“Look, I’m sure you’ll be fine. You don’t even know yet if you’ll have to kiss her at all and anyway, it’s just a kiss. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?”
“Because I’ve never kissed a girl, what if I do it wrong?”
“I don’t think it’s possible to do it wrong.”
“Have you ever kissed a girl? I mean, you’ve never mentioned it to me…”
“Umm, well, no. Not really.”
“What d’you mean, ‘not really’?”
“I kissed Becky Miller on the cheek when I was five.”
“I hardly think that counts!”
“I guess you’re right.” Jack sighed heavily. “Maybe you’d better practice, just in case.”
Ianto’s eyes widened in horror and he glanced over at Emma, who caught him looking and smiled back, blushing slightly.
“Not with her, dummy. Look, I could be a stand-in for Juliet; you know, if you wanted.”
Turning back to his best friend, a relieved smile spread across Ianto’s face.
“Thanks, Jack, that’d be great. You sure you wouldn’t mind?” he added, a little shyly.
“’Course not! We’ve always helped each other rehearse; why should this be any different?”
Before Ianto could reply, they were interrupted by Mr Atkins as he called out the rest of the castings.
“You’ll be playing Mercutio.”
“Brilliant! Thanks, Mr Atkins.”
“I’d like you to play Tybalt.”
“Cool!” Andy ambled over to Jack and Ianto. “Hey, Jack, this means I get to kill you on stage!”
“No need to sound so bloody cheerful about it, Andy,” Jack laughed. “Guess that means we get to choreograph another swordfight.”
“Looks that way. It’ll be just like the old days, the three of us rehearsing together. Been a while since we’ve done that.”
“It has. Best make the most of it though,” Ianto added. “There’s not an end of year play for Year 11 students because of exams, so this’ll be our last until college.”
The three friends looked at each other.
“I guess that makes sense,” said Jack. “We’ll probably all be too busy revising. Can’t believe we only have one more year before GCSEs.”
“What’ll you do after?” asked Andy as the three of them left the hall and headed out to their bikes for the ride home.
“Jack and I want to do a drama course at the local college, then hopefully get into drama school.” Ianto’s enthusiasm was clear and Jack nodded agreement.
“It’s pretty much been our dream since we were little kids. What about you?”
“I want to join the police force, so I reckon I’ll try to study something like psychology. That’s got to be useful for a cop, right?”
“We’re probably the wrong people to ask,” Ianto deadpanned. “We’re already certifiable.”
“True, that,” Andy chuckled. “So, can we get together at the weekend to work on the swordfight?”
“I’ll call you later, let you know when would be best.”
“Great, see you two tomorrow.”
“Yep! Bye, Andy.”
Continued in Part 3