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They went to Los Angeles. It wasn't a place Kate expected to like; in fact, she thought she'd hate it, that her pale skin would burn and peel in the California sun and she'd spend all her time in Jack's modest estate in the hills, never venturing outside into the harsh, critical world of the LA scene.
She was wrong. It was probably Jack's connections more than anything (and she didn't want to look too closely at that) but news of her Ophelia (because people paid attention to New Burbage, even as they also gossiped about it) reached the LA theater world and she was offered a role in Mamet's new play, the perfect introduction to the West Coast stage for an up-and-coming young actress.
She grew to enjoy the palm tree-lined boulevards and the perfect weather. She and Jack ordered take-out sushi and read bad scripts in horrible Russian accents at each other over mojitos at the poolside. The sex was still incredible, and if Kate hadn't given much thought to how this might work when she threw caution and her career to the wind and got into that limousine with Jack, she didn't regret the choice that she made.
When her show opened, the critics hailed her as a fresh, bold new face and cut her to ribbons as they deconstructed her inexperience, her youth, and her connection to Hollywood action stars. Jack fed her muffins and brought her tissues, and she went back onstage with an aggressive new agent and a false confidence that eventually grew into real strength.
At the parties for her show and for Jack's new movie (which didn't co-star Madonna; instead Sarah Jessica Parker signed on for the role, and Kate and Matthew Broderick talked shop over curry), Jack smiled and demurred the stage roles that came for him, saying he had a film starting in three weeks and his schedule wouldn't work out, really sorry, maybe another time; but Kate knew that nothing would live up to Hamlet for him, and she--well, she didn't understand not returning to the theater. But she still held his hand when someone said wistfully that they wished they'd seen the production in its first run.
More than anything, Jack wanted to get away from Shakespeare.
He'd done it--he'd proved himself capable of taking on the big guy, getting some credibility and having something else for Ari Gold to slap onto his resume. He was proud of that. But he was still working out the ways in which playing Hamlet had changed him. He didn't always recognize himself in the mirror, even though the wan color he'd had (from vomiting almost every night before going onstage, thinking "to be or not to be, to be or not to be" over and over again) had disappeared and in the tabloid pictures he looked healthy again.
Kate was good for him, he knew that much. She never let him take himself too seriously, calling him a loser with a twinkle in her eye and threatening to buy him Doctor Who pajamas if he kept thinking with the lights off in the living room. He wasn't lonely anymore, and the best part was that he'd never realized he *was* lonely. It took Kate to make him realize what he was missing, and then he had her, so the past didn't matter anyway.
The paparazzi loved getting pictures of them walking the dogs down the street and going to lunches with Jake Gyllenhaal and other young celebrities that Kate had somehow managed to befriend at parties with her wide smile and general ignorance of all things Hollywood. That was another thing Jack loved about her--she didn't grow up wanting the bright lights of the Hollywood sign. She grew up dreaming of curtain calls and halogen light cans and that's all she ever saw, so the glitter and shine of Los Angeles didn't mean much to her, as long as there was a stage for her to act on. It made her stand out from everyone else, and her constant optimism and good spirit made her the darling of every theater director. He was just happy that she was happy. He had worried that she would be miserable out here, away from her childhood dream company.
As their projects were wrapping, Ari forwarded scripts to him. He could do another set of action movies if he wanted, and there was buzz that Warner was looking for someone to play the Green Lantern as the next big superhero after Aquaman. Kate just laughed at him when he asked her to imagine him in a green jumpsuit, but later, after tickling had been called in and Leno had been watched, she turned to him and said, "Is that really what you want to do, Jack? Martial arts and glowing rings?" He'd wanted credibility just so he wouldn't have to do things like this anymore, not if he didn't want to.
So he sent all the scripts back and said that he wanted something different, something better, maybe something like that Pablo Escobar film Vinny Chase was doing, or a method thing like Viggo's new flick. The scripts didn't come in quite as fast, and he sent back a lot of duds until he was down to one or two that really looked interesting, rough and unsafe and possibly able to tank his career.
One of the last ones he was looking at was a gritty, character-driven film about a man who found something close to love passing through Mississippi and then, through circumstances, had to leave; it was full of dust and soybeans and cotton shirts, blinding sun and open highways. There was something about the character's isolation, his self-ignorance and more than a little self-loathing that appealed to Jack, and when he gave the script to Kate to read, she came back to him with her lips pursed and the crease between her brows in heavy outline. She said, "You have to do this."
And he agreed with her, but he still asked, "Why?"
She gave him a soft kiss and looked at him with real seriousness. "Because you're still young enough to play Romeo."
When Jack was shooting his Academy Award-winning World War I biopic, a cheeky journalist asked him a few leading questions about his longtime partner, Kate McNab, who was currently headlining a production of "Othello" at The Globe during the summer season. He dodged them, like he always had before, but there must have been something about his mood that day that moved him to answer one question truthfully.
"What do you think is the key to keeping your ten-year relationship together?" the journalist asked, crossing her legs and turning her very pointy shoe semi-threateningly towards his knee.
He took a minute to think about it and then decided, what the hell. "Well, we're both actors," he said slowly, "and that could be very challenging. But I think it's because we work in different mediums that helps our relationship stay so strong. I've never really thought about stage acting again, and Kate has never wanted to work on movies. We each have our own thing, but it still keeps us connected. We understand each other, and we can help each other through tough spots. But we're never doing the same thing at the same time, which takes some stress off our relationship."
The journalist's tongue clacked a little, and Jack shifted in his chair, belatedly worrying that he'd given too much away and what his manager was going to say to him when this showed up on Channel Four later that evening.
"You were on the stage once--"
"Yes," he said slowly, surprised someone knew on this side of the ocean, "I did a production of Hamlet at New Burbage, with the remarkable director, Geoffrey Tennant."
"Where you met Kate," the journalist confirmed. She waited a beat before asking, "Have you ever wanted to go back?"
They returned to the New Burbage stage together a full twelve years after they'd left. Kate and Jack had come back more than once to see the shows Geoffrey had directed over the years, but it took a special, impassioned request from him for their schedules to be cleared. "I want you both to play ''Beatrice and Benedick' he said over the phone, his perfect diction and grand, timbered voice rattling through the tinny speakers. "I've seen your most recent work. I think you can do better than that here with me. I think it's time you come home."
Kate was easily convinced. It took more persuading for Jack.
"Jack," Geoffrey said, and Jack could almost see him, grey threads shooting through the hair on his head, wild as ever, black coat haphazardly flying as Geoffrey paced before his desk, where the skull of Oliver Wells sat, an After Eight mint stuffed rakishly into its mouth. "Jack, I know how you feel. It took me seven years to come back here, but I had a mental breakdown as an excuse. It's worth it to you, I promise. It is worth it for you to come back here and let me bring this character out of you. You've gone very far since Hamlet, but there is still something lying dormant inside of you, some shine you've yet to tap into, and every time I read "That a woman conceived me, I thank her;/that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks:/but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle/in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me./Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none;/and the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor,' well. I only hear you saying those lines."
It was too hard for Jack to say no to one of the few directors he truly valued; and no one had ever been able to sway Geoffrey anyway when he truly wanted something. "Are you still crazy?" Jack wondered aloud.
He could hear Geoffrey smile. "There's no other way to be."
Someone knocked at the door of Kate's dressing room, and when she called, "Come in!" she was completely surprised to see Ellen, in costume, reflected in her dresser mirror. "Hi!" Kate said, turning to smile at her.
"I just wanted to--oh, god, your makeup's not done, sorry!" Ellen said, coming forward into the room anyway.
Kate brushed her words away. "It's fine, it's fine! I'm almost done," she said. "Are you looking forward to the opening?"
"It seems I've finally been relegated to the parts I always dreaded," Ellen said, waving her hand airily in the perfect air of her Margaret. "But somehow, with Geoffrey, even the most minimal of parts are elevated to greatness." Her mouth twisted into a wry smile. "It's one of the things that's kept me here."
"It's your home, Ellen," Kate said encouragingly, applying powder to her face.
The room was silent for a moment before Ellen finally coughed once and said, "Kate, I have played the part of Beatrice four separate times, and I wanted to tell you one thing before you go onstage." She paused before continuing, "You and Jack make this play more alive than I have ever seen or experienced it. Well, other than when Geoffrey and I took the stage." Though she was obviously uncomfortable, she kept on. "I had no idea when I told you to chase after this dream of love all those years ago that you would actually do it. That it would last this long. I suppose I'm," she laughed a little, "I suppose I'm envious.
"But I wanted to tell you this so that when you step onstage for the first time and you look at Jack, at your Benedick, you understand that this production isn't just for the audience. You've done something that this festival has sorely needed for the past few years." Her fingers came to rest on Kate's chin, and Kate felt strangely young again, like the fourth fairy in the Dream she once had been. "Break a leg."
"You too," said Kate to Ellen's retreating back, her voice catching a little. She turned back to her dresser and looked at the black-and-white picture of her and Jack as Ophelia and Hamlet that she always kept with her and had stuck in her mirror. This did feel like coming home.