Title: The Way to a Man's Heart
Pairing: Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Karl Urban, Elijah Wood, Sean Bean.
Summary: Orlando does some baking.
Notes: An off the wall AU with some of my favourite guys. Hope you enjoy.
Post-reveal Notes: Many thanks to ismenin and itstonedme for their encouragement, honest feedback and many many betas.
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
The Way to a Man's Heart
'Cream the softened butter with one cup of sugar,' reads Orlando. He looks into the bowl on the counter and pokes a finger into the pale yellow brick.
"Butter softened. Check."
He glances at the recipe again, while absent-mindedly wiping the tip of his finger on his apron.
'One cup,' he confirms before reaching into the topmost cupboard for the sugar. It takes some hunting to find and when he pulls out the bag, it's suspiciously light. He unrolls the crumpled paper and peers inside. With more hope than conviction, he tips it over the measuring cup and shakes.
He wishes there was someone else he could blame for putting the empty bag back in the cupboard, but there isn't.
He wishes there was someone else he could send to the shop for more sugar, but there isn't.
He wishes there was someone who would welcome him back from the shop in nothing but an apron and a grin, but there isn't one of those either.
He's beginning to lose the 'Domestic Goddess' buzz that had started while he was watching Nigella whip up what she called 'Way to a Man's Heart Cookies.'
If he doesn't go now, it'll be all over but the crying.
He takes off the apron and picks up the car keys. He glances at the measuring cup and in a split second decides that it is environmentally irresponsible to drive twenty minutes, round-trip, for one poxy cup of sugar.
He puts down the car keys and picks up the measuring cup.
Orlando's been living in the block of flats for over six months but he doesn't know anyone yet. Sure he's seen them in the hallway and in the car park but for some reason hasn't done much more than say, 'Hi,' or agree that 'Yeah, the weather is crap.'
But that is going to change.
It's time to meet the neighbours.
'This looks promising,' thinks Orlando when the door to Number 7 swings open.
The owner of Number 7 is a few years older than Orlando with dark shaggy hair flecked grey, and piercing blue eyes. He's bare-chested as well as bare-footed, with the bit in between covered by a worn pair of combat trousers. Orlando heartily approves.
"Hi," he says. "I'm Orlando from Number 6."
"I know," says the guy. It's not quite the appropriate response, but Orlando is too busy noticing what appears to be a machete strapped to the guy's right thigh to be overly concerned.
"It's Virgo, right?" says Orlando forcing his eyes up to the guy's face.
"Ah, right. Viggo. Sorry."
"No problem. You got the syllables right. Most people don't."
"What can I do for you?" prompts Viggo.
Orlando holds up the measuring cup with an engaging grin. "I'm doing some baking and ran out of sugar. Could I borrow a cup, please?"
"'Fraid not," says Viggo.
Orlando's grin fades. That's unexpected. "Oh, um, okay."
Endearments? So soon? A little quick perhaps and not to mention out of character, but he decides, encouraging none the less. "Yes?" Orlando responds brightly.
"I don't use sugar," growls Viggo. "I keep bees."
Orlando's eyes flick down to the machete. He has the feeling that Viggo is so hard that he probably slaughters the bees himself. He frowns. Or do you milk bees? Whatever. Either way, Viggo is hard.
Orlando drags himself back to the topic at hand. "Um, but the recipe calls for sugar."
"Who are you using?"
Viggo snorts dismissively. "With tits like that? Of course she uses sugar. I expect she uses butter in her pastry as well."
'Now just hang on a minute,' thinks Orlando defensively. He loves pastry made with butter. And Nigella's tits, for that matter. They're so deliciously unapologetic. In fact, if Orlando were going to sleep with a woman, which he isn't, it would be someone like Nigella -- a woman with generous curves and a huge plate of cookies.
He suspects her blowjobs are to die for and her recipes are so do-able.
"What about you?"
"Doesn't he cook road kill?"
"Yeah. That and human placenta."
Orlando makes a short involuntary retch.
"Don't knock it till you've tried it."
After a quick stop back at his flat, Orlando's breath is once again minty fresh as he knocks on the door of Number 8. The 'Hi, I'm Orlando from Number 6' dies on his lips as the door swings open, just as the 'Yes?' from the owner of Number 8 never becomes more than a sharp indrawn breath.
There is a moment, a mere millisecond, when Orlando can only marvel at the golden vision of manliness before him, before they are on each other like ravening beasts. Teeth click and lips slide roughly against each other as they grapple in the hallway. Number 8 has one hand on Orlando's ass and the other hooked under his left knee. Orlando has wrapped his left leg around Number 8's right thigh and the hand not holding the measuring cup is trying to slide under his shirt.
It's all going remarkably well until Orlando opens his eyes briefly and notices that they appear to have an audience. Three young women are studying them, arms akimbo, from the doorway of the flat.
"Dad," they say in weary unison. "Put the delivery boy down, come back inside and finish your tea." They then roll their eyes at each other and go back into the flat.
"Daughters," Number 8 explains sheepishly, letting Orlando slide down his body until he has both feet on the floor again.
'Delivery boy?' wonders Orlando as they step apart.
"So, what can I do for you?" says Number 8's mouth, while his expressive eyes are saying, 'I could shag you senseless, if you fancied.
'I'm not dismissing the idea out of hand, but I think I need to get to know you a little better,' say Orlando's eyes, while his mouth is saying, "You couldn't lend me a cup of sugar, could you?"
Number 8 glances over his shoulder into the flat and then gives Orlando a sly look. "Actually, the ex-wives will be picking up the daughters soon. Could you wait until then? I could bring it around to yours. "
Orlando is torn. Not only is he thoroughly discombobulated by the use of 'ex-wife' in the plural form, but he thinks he's finally got the gist of the delivery boy comment.
On the other hand, how often does one get the chance to be shagged senseless? By a golden demi-god, at that?
The score pretty much even, so Orlando pulls out his litmus test of compatibility.
"Um, what do you think of Nigella Lawson?"
"Great tits," responds Number 8 fervently.
'YES!' thinks Orlando.
"But, I'm not much of a gardener myself."
'How could anyone possibly mistake Charlie Dimmock for Nigella?' fumes Orlando on the doorstep of Number 9.
Nigella would never go braless.
He gives himself a mental shake to dislodge the image and knocks briskly on the door of Number 9.
The door is opened by a tall silver-haired gentleman dressed in a winter white ensemble that makes him look positively celestial. The embroidered slippers only heighten the affect.
"Hi. I'm Orlando from Number 6."
"Good evening, Orlando" says Number 9, smiling graciously. "I'm Sir Ian, and you may call me Sir Ian," he adds and holds out a beautifully manicured hand.
Orlando is unsure if he should shake it or kiss it, but opts for the former. "I'm please to meet you, Sir Ian," he replies. He feels as gauche as a school boy under Sir Ian's expectant gaze. He fumbles the measuring cup awkwardly between his fingers and drops it with a dull thud onto the exquisite Turkish rug that serves as Sir Ian's front door mat. He's utterly tongue-tied as he picks it back up and gives it a quick polish with the hem of his shirt.
Sir Ian watches his discomfort indulgently for a moment before prompting gently, "And how may I help you, Orlando?"
"I'm doing some baking and ran out of sugar. May I please borrow a cup?"
"But of course," says Sir Ian, stepping back from the door and ushering Orlando in.
Orlando toes off his shoes, and follows Sir Ian silently across the thick pile of the carpet. It's the same colour as Sir Ian's trousers. The apartment is impressively furnished in a quirky mix of antique and modern. Along with the carpet, the rest of soft furnishings are also white. It would look quite stark, decides Orlando, if it weren't for the accents of bright blue, which appear to be exactly the same shade as Sir Ian's eyes.
Sir Ian takes a seat in the large high backed armchair and crosses his long legs elegantly.
He gestures toward the sofa and when Orlando is perched gingerly on its vast expanse of pristine whiteness, Sir Ian addresses him.
"So, you are baking," says Sir Ian approvingly. "I believe that cooking is a much desired accomplishment in a young man." He picks up a small silver bell from the table next to him and rings it. "I myself, however, do not cook."
After a moment, footsteps are heard in the hallway and a tall, dark and thoroughly handsome man storms in. His black t-shirt and trousers are partially covered by a spotless white apron. He is only made more impressive by the fact that he is brandishing a large wooden spoon.
Orlando doesn't think he's ever seen anything so hot in his entire life.
"If that bloody soufflé falls, Ian, I will beat that bony arse of yours until you... oh, hey. How's it goin'?" he asks as Orlando leaps to his feet.
Ian gestures grandly from one to the other. "Orlando, Karl. Karl, Orlando," he introduces.
"Gidday," says Karl lowering the spoon and giving Orlando a one hundred per cent ozone free smile.
"Karl 'does for me' as they so quaintly put it in New Zealand," explains Sir Ian. "Karl is a chef."
"Wow," says Orlando wide-eyed and very much impressed. Karl was pretty sexy to begin with but this has just knocked him off the Richter Scale. He might even have a cookbook out! "I'm so sorry to interrupt you."
Orlando knows he shouldn't ask, but he might never have this opportunity again. "What do you think of Nigella?"
"Nigella?" repeats Karl looking puzzled.
"Oh, Nigella is marvellous," interjects Sir Ian. "Nigella Lawson, Karl." Sir Ian turns to Orlando. "Karl is fresh from the Antipodes and hasn't yet had the pleasure." Then he leans forward conspiratorially. "Do you know, the last time Nigella and I met was at the reception for the Duchess of Devonshire. Not a soul there could keep their eyes off her magnificent bosoms. How we laughed in the pantry whilst hiding from that horrid Greek ambassador. Oh, and her fellatio is to die for." Smiling to himself, Sir Ian shakes his head gently at the memory. "Now, where were we?" he asks, looking from Orlando to Karl and back again.
"Um, sugar?" says Orlando, torn between wondering if any of that could possibly be true and just 'what exactly was it?' that made her fellatio so memorable.
"Ah, yes. Well, I'm sure Karl will assist you admirably. Won't you Karl?"
"No worries," Karl says again, then turns on his heel and stalks back toward the kitchen.
"Thank you, Sir Ian," says Orlando over his shoulder as he hurries after Karl.
"Do see Orlando out when you're done, Karl," calls Sir Ian after them. "I shall be in the boudoir if you need to discuss the soufflé further."
Orlando arrives in the kitchen and it is just as he expected in all ways except one. The black marble surfaces gleam, the ultra-modern cupboards are brilliant white and the stainless steel appliances shine, but something is definitely missing. He looks uncomprehendingly at the cold, dark interior of the oven and then at Karl, who is leaning against the counter with an inscrutable look on his face.
"Where's the soufflé?" asks Orlando in confusion.
"At the restaurant down the road. Later on they'll be delivering a two course meal through the window, I'll keep it warm, plate it up and Ian gets his arse spanked for dessert."
Karl pushes off the counter and walks slowly over to Orlando. He takes the measuring cup out of his hands and sets it aside. Then he leans in close and whispers in Orlando's ear, "We've got about an hour before dinner arrives."
Karl drops his hands onto Orlando's hips and strokes his waist with his thumbs. "Oh, come on, Orlando. What did you think Ian meant when he said that I 'do' for him? That I dust and hoover? "
Well, yes actually, but he's not about to admit it under Karl's mocking gaze. "Of course not,'" he bluffs. "But you do cook, don't you?" he adds hopefully.
"Nope, not a sausage" says Karl with a rakish grin.
"Easy. I'm an actor, Orlando."
Orlando washes his hair for a second time. Ugh. He's never felt so dirty.
The cheek of that guy. Impersonating a chef! Orlando could kick himself for being so dense. He should have twigged that something was up when Karl had never heard of Nigella.
That's it. No more neighbours for him. Bugger global warming, he's driving to the shop. He's just pulling on his shirt when the doorbell rings.
Oh, for fuck's sake! If it's one of his bloody neighbours!
Orlando stomps to the door and flings it open.
"What?" he demands.
"Hi, I'm Elijah from number 10," says the young man on his doorstep, the cheerful smile slipping from his face.
"Could I borrow an egg, please?"
"Because I'm baking and ran out of eggs?" says Elijah cautiously.
"Who are you using?" Orlando asks suspiciously.
"Never heard of her," dismisses Orlando. 'Looo - ser' he thinks and looks at his watch impatiently.
"She's pretty big in America," says Elijah defensively.
"Well, you're not in America now, boyo."
"Thanks for your help," says Elijah sarcastically before turning his back on Orlando and making a dignified retreat down the hallway.
Orlando glowers after him and frowns. 'Nice arse' he thinks grudgingly. He is only pissed off after all; it's not like he's gone blind or anything.
He takes one more quick peek before stepping back inside and closing the door.
'Too small,' he confirms. He'd normally throw something that size back in. Or use it as bait to attract something bigger. 'But,' Orlando has to admit, 'he did have encouragingly large feet.'
He picks up his jacket.
'Anyway,' reminisces Orlando smugly,' I certainly told him!' That big ole 'Have a Nice Day' grin had just slipped off his face and hidden that surprising little gap between his front teeth. The tip of Orlando's tongue pokes curiously at his own front teeth.
He wonders where he put his car keys.
'And the way those big blue eyes had narrowed and that plush little mouth had pursed when he'd dissed... What was her name? Oh, yeah, Martha ... was... was... '
He spots his car keys on the kitchen counter, right between his signed copy of 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' and the carton of eggs.
He looks from one to the other and has the funniest feeling that Nigella is trying to tell him something.
Approximately one month later, Orlando, carrier bag in hand, knocks on the door of flat Number 10. It's just a gentle tap but the door swings open as if of its own accord. "Hello?" he calls into the empty doorway. There's no answer but he can hear noises coming from down the hall. "Hello?" he calls more loudly. There's still no answer so he steps inside, closes the door and follows the sounds the hallway. "Hello?" he says one last time before stepping into the kitchen.
Where he freezes.
Elijah whips around to face him, his eyes huge with surprise.
Orlando figures his own eyes must be almost as big because a white cotton apron is most definitely the only thing that Elijah is wearing.
"Damn, you scared me!" says Elijah and grins. "I thought you were coming right back. You've been gone ages."
"Sorry," says Orlando, eyes still wide. He's afraid to blink in case this is just a figment of his over active imagination. "I didn't have any sugar either and had to go to the shop." He puts the carrier bag on the side and steps up close to Elijah. He slides his hands around Elijah's hips to cradle the cheeks of his ass. "Nice," he says grinning down at Elijah. "This is so weird. I've always had this fantasy about someone..."
"... welcoming you back from the shop in nothing but an apron?" finishes Elijah.
ìBut... but... but... how did you know?" stutters Orlando.
"I didn't. It just happens to be one of my fantasies too," says Elijah, sliding his hands around Orlando's waist. "Lucky, huh?"
'Luck, my ass,' thinks as Orlando, but he isn't about to argue as Elijah undoes his trousers and slips to his knees. 'Thank you, Nigella', he mouths soundlessly just in case the Domestic Goddess is listening.