"Viggo didn't judge. Whatever polar bears did on their own time was exactly what they should be doing
Malta was a lovely country, Viggo decided, looking out the window of the taxi taking him from the airport to the InterContinental. Gorgeous beaches, weathered, sun-warmed buildings, lovely rocks, he was sure the flora and fauna were magnificent ñ all of it reminded him of Borneo, really, and he loved Borneo.
(Actually, that wasn't quite true -- Malta itself didn't remind him of Borneo, but the stewardess serving the main cabin on his flight reminded him of a girl he'd once slept with who was from Borneo, and he had very fond memories of her. It was all rather the same thing, really, once one thought about it.)
The fact remained that the Maltese scenery itself was still lovely, and the water was still a marvelous shade of blue and the beaches were a marvelous shade of white and the sunset was a marvelous shade of fiery orange and the hotel itself looked like a small city. He found himself itching to get lost in the nooks and crannies of the building, to let the bones of the place sink into him until he learned their language and their secrets.
He also couldn't wait to go for a hike, to seek out the small pleasures that only being in nature could provide. Picasso might've had the right way of things after all, moving to a tropical paradise and making the muses come to him instead of constantly seeking them out and hoping they'd be favorable. Or had that been Renoir that had retired and Picasso who'd just gotten drunk in tiny, smoke-filled cafés? Maybe he should stick to Macedonian artists instead, considering the terrain -- Gnosis, perhaps -- or did the Thracians consider Malta theirs and perhaps he should be channeling the Ctistae, sans celibacy? (He'd tried celibacy once. No wonder the monks made such exquisite ales.)
(Not that it mattered whether Malta laid claim to Greece or Macedonia or Thrace, but it was important to consider the history of a country. Alright, that wasn't true at all, Viggo mostly didn't care about petty politics or squabbling over land or who was king of what or when or what empire ruled in what century. But people did tend to be distressingly unido when it came to claiming a nationality.)
He curled his bare toes on the Italian marble -- well, it might've been Grecian, but he was sure it was Italian, and he trusted his toes to know the difference -- of the spacious hotel lobby and hefted the figurine up under his arm as he made his way to the front desk.
A pretty, dark-haired girl looked up from her computer. "Checking in, sir?" she asked, in heavily accented English.
"Eventually," Viggo replied, and shrugged. He thought about answering in Maltese (he'd been studying up on it since Sean and Orlando's invitation to come for a visit), but he still confused some of the words with Italian -- or was it Arabic, he could never remember -- so he figured he might need a day or two to immerse himself in the language. Languages were so much easier to learn from the ground up.
Rather like baking. Or maybe it was needlepoint. He was forever getting the two mixed up.
"Do you have a reservation?" She glanced up, frowned. Maybe he should have washed the paint flecks from his beard. Or his shirt. At least his jeans were clean(ish), and didn't have too many holes in them. That should count for something. "Or luggage?"
"Just this," he replied, showing the statue. "I don't suppose I could barter it for a room."
He actually did have a reservation -- for a suite, in fact. (Camping and sleeping rough was all well and lovely, but sometimes one simply wanted a high thread count and a hot shower.) He also had luggage, of course, waiting in the taxi, because one did need somewhere to keep one's fuzzy scarves and one's paints and he hated keeping too many things in his pockets. Made him feel off-balance.
But doing things this way was so much more fun. And inevitably led to more interesting conversation than simply following along with some arcane societal script. (Viggo didn't tend to follow scripts when he was paid to do so, so why would he bother in his free time.)
"That might possibly be the most hideous thing I've ever seen, mate."
Viggo couldn't help the grin as he turned to face the person who'd stepped up beside him. "It's a gift."
The other man -- taller than Viggo, built like a freight train, which was apparent even in his board shorts and t-shirt, with dark curls like Orlando and the same deep brown eyes (Viggo wondered if Orlando had family coming to visit -- he couldn't remember if Orlando had a brother, but memory and Viggo tended to have a nebulous connection, so it was possible he'd even met said brother and had forgotten) -- stared at the bright teal and fuchsia macramé statue now resting on the counter.
"Hideousness such as this is definitely a gift to the world, no doubt about it," the man said, his accent broad and very, very Australian. Not a brother, then. "Who's it for?"
"Sean and Orlando. It's their three year anniversary." Viggo still liked to think he had something to do with getting them together, no matter what Orlando said to the contrary. After all, it had been Viggo's excellent advice that had gotten the ball rolling in the first place. (He was sure Karl would disagree, but then, he might not. That was Karl for you.)
The man's face cleared. "You'd be Viggo, then. I should've recognized your handiwork. I'm Eric, by the way. I'm playing Orlando's brother in the film."
Of course this was Eric. Viggo should have remembered Orlando talking about him, but Orlando'd also mentioned something about Eric being a Viking. Or maybe Orlando'd meant someone else, Brad perhaps, or Garrett. Still, Eric was standing here and he was Orlando's friend, which meant he was family. And if Eric was family, there was only one thing to do.
Viggo went with instinct and leaned in for a proper Maori headbutt of welcome. Eric, he was delighted to discover, had a head of steel.
And Eric, for his part, responded by picking Viggo up clean off his feet and giving him the sort of bone-crushing, full-bodied hug he imagined polar bears exchanged if they went for that sort of thing. (Viggo didn't judge. Whatever polar bears did on their own time was exactly what they should be doing).
Then, while Viggo was still catching his breath, Eric's lips covered his in a toe-curling kiss that had just enough tongue to make Viggo miss New Zealand. (Not that tongues in general made Viggo miss New Zealand, but tongues did remind him of Dom and one very memorable weekend in the Waipoua Kauri Forest.)
Viggo's lips were bruised and tingling from both Eric's lips and his stubble when Eric lifted his head and gave him a big grin. "So, Karl mentioned you painted sheep."
"Only once. Well, twice, but the second time didn't count, since it was technically Richard's and technically in a car at the time," Viggo conceded, because it didn't. Count, that was. Not that he was keeping score -- it wasn't like the sheep cared.
The girl at the counter gave them both a long-suffering look, and went back to her computer. Viggo didn't mind. He'd found the conversation he'd wanted.
"You've met Karl?"
Eric hummed his assent. His hair was curling around his ears in a most distracting manner. "He and his bloke, Harry, came for a holiday a few weeks ago. Karl looks better naked, but Harry's an outstanding kisser."
Viggo'd heard the same thing from Orlando. And from Karl, of course, but Karl was biased where Harry was concerned. "I've heard Sean's better."
"I've heard the same, but Sean won't kiss me with tongue, it's terribly vexing." Eric sighed, like this was somehow a personal affront. Then he gestured at Viggo with a friendly leer. "You're not bad."
"I'm much better with practice," Viggo grinned. He liked Eric. (Mostly, he liked that Eric didn't remind him of anyone else he'd ever met. Singularity was a prize in this day and age.)
"I'll be the judge of that." Eric's eyes flashed with mirth. "Karl also said you have the best weed he's ever smoked."
"I have been told I am the Dionysus of pot."
(This wasn't true. Or maybe it was. But it sounded true, and sometimes the sound of things was its own sort of reality.)
Eric immediately shook his head. "You can't be Dionysus, that's my gig. Besides, you look much more like Momus to me." He jerked a thumb at the counter. "That sculpture reeks of satire."
"It does rather have a Swiftian quality to it, I guess," Viggo said, looking at it again. Maybe it was the macramé. "Why do you get to be Dionysus?"
Eric fumbled with the cargo pocket of his shorts and pulled out a rather large flask, painted with bright yellow daisies. "It's got rye in it today. Thursday is tequila, if you prefer. You look like a tequila man."
"Well, I am Danish," Viggo agreed. (He really wasn't. Well, he was, but he wasn't any more Danish than he was American than he was Argentinean than he was anything else. Labels were definitions he had little use for, unless the label was marked dangerous or explosive, and then it was simply expedient.)
He reached into his own front pocket and dragged out a baggie stuffed with joints. (He was visiting Sean and Orlando, after all. And a good guest always brought more than one gift.) "Think we're set?" he asked, and was rewarded by Eric's full-throated chuckle.
"I knew I liked you. C'mon, Momus, debauchery awaits."
Without another word, Eric turned and headed for the sliding glass doors just beyond the lobby. Curious (and deciding Sean and Orlando's gift was in good hands with the girl at the counter), Viggo set off after him. (His luggage, if they were meant to be reunited, would eventually find him.)
And when Eric started shedding his clothes as soon as they got outside to the strip of beach just beyond the hotel, Viggo followed suit.
Man måhyle med de ulve man eriblandt, after all.
"What's your stance on purple?" he asked, looking his fill at Eric, and the rather impressive physique that more than lived up to the way Eric had looked with his clothes on. When Viggo had his turn at ruling the world, (not that he particularly cared if he ever got his spot, but Billy'd insisted that everyone get a turn, and Billy, much to Viggo's delight, could be extremely persuasive) he'd declare all days ending in Y to be Naked Eric Day. It was a good enough use for his power. Much better than Karl's idea of turning the rivers into port. (Karl was really only doing it for Harry, anyway. It was rather sweet.)
Eric glanced down at his chest, then at Viggo's, the gaze as heated as any caress. "Only if it's finger-paints, and you don't mix in any reds."
Viggo'd been thinking green stripes anyway. Possibly iridescent. His hands itched to start tracing patterns. "I think I can work with that."
Eric started walking backwards towards the water. "And I insist on you using your entire body as a brush."
Viggo didn't point out that he'd never actually been with a man. (Unless the transvestite counted, and she might have a different opinion on the matter. When Viggo went back to Venezuela, he'd ask.) It wasn't important -- plumbing was plumbing, as Dom was fond of saying. And new experiences were always welcome. "As long as I can use your entire body as a canvas."
Eric hauled him close again as warm water lapped at their toes, ankles, and calves. "Anything for art," Eric declared, and there was something rather poetic in trading kisses under the dying rays of the Malta sun.
Viggo had a feeling the real Momus and Dionysus would approve.