Elijah learned how to relax from Viggo. And how to smoke pot. Sure, heíd smoked it at fifteen (in the back of a car with Josh Hartnett while listening to the Flaming Lips), and some since then. But Viggo taught him the art.
A few weeks after Viggo had arrived in New Zealand, he invited Elijah over to his house after filming. You look lonely, heíd said as he served Elijah homemade lasagna. Over dinner they discussed filming, but then they moved into the living room and camped on the floor in front of Viggo's stereo. While Elijah nearly had an orgasm from the collection - You have so much music, he'd said with awe - Viggo stretched his long legs out before him as he leaned back against the couch and pulled a rolled joint from a cigarette case. Elijah placed an unfamiliar record on the player as Viggo lit the tip.
Later, when Elijah was high and uncontrollably giggling, Viggo laughed and encouraged him, Let it out and embrace your joy. When Elijah was high and mellow, he leaned next to Viggo against the couch and rambled in a way he hadn't in a long time. He talked of missing his family, of being so far away from home for the first time, of carrying the weight of the trilogy on his shoulders, of being terrified at how this would change his life for good or bad. At some point during the night, Elijah realized that talking to Viggo was kinda like talking to his dad, except that Viggo was better than his dad, because Viggo was a friend and listened and actually gave a shit.
The first time Elijah smoked pot with Dom, they had climbed on top of a hill in the middle of a field where they'd filmed a few days prior. They passed the joint back and forth between them, trying to find unfamiliar constellations. That's Delphinus, Dom pointed, but Elijah shook his head and replied, You need a pair of fucking glasses. That's Delphinus. Dom told Elijah to go fuck himself, so Elijah kissed him.
* 2: Ian
Elijah learned how to treat acting as a craft from Ian. He'd done pretty well for himself by then - he'd been a child star less one drug addiction, thank you very much - and he'd been in a few decent indie flicks. But he knew there was much to learn.
During the first week, Ian pulled Elijah aside between takes. You're struggling, aren't you? Elijah stared at him wide-eyed, a thousand things he'd done wrong scrolling through his brain, but Ian smiled softly and shook his head. Your performance is fine. It's your face, now, between takes. You have to remember one thing, Elijah. You have to believe you are Frodo. Between takes, like now, you may be dressed in costume and wear hobbit feet, but you're Elijah Wood. But when Peter calls action, you must believe you are Frodo. Elijah must be no more. The words aren't just on the script page. They have to erupt from you like you believe them, like it's the first time you've said them.
Elijah wasn't quite sure he understood that day, but no matter what kind of day it was, no matter what kind of scene, no matter how he felt, he always heard Ian's words repeated in his head, you must believe you are Frodo.
The first time he realized that he had feelings for Dom, he remembered what Ian told him. He believed he was Elijah-Wood-not-in-love-with-his-best-friend instead of who he really was, Elijah-in-love-with-Dom. It worked for almost six months, until the day he realized Dom had stolen his favorite CD out of the case he kept in the makeup trailer; until Elijah stormed to Dom's trailer and almost banged on the door but heard the CD blaring inside; until Dom opened the door and grinned down at Elijah, his eyes lighting up, and said, I was hoping you'd come and listen to this with me. It just doesn't feel right without you here.
* 3: Bean
Elijah learned how to fight from Bean, how to stand up for himself. World's a big fucking shithole, kid, Bean told him, and you gotta look out for number one cause nobody else is gonna fucking do it. He especially warned Elijah about Hollywood. You've been in the business a long time, but you're still young. They get worse as you get older. Fuck them before they fuck you.
There were other kinds of fighting he taught Elijah. Hit me, he said one day, punch me in the stomach. Elijah did, but Bean just laughed and yelled harder, you little fuck, so Elijah punched him until he knocked the wind out of him. It took him seven tries.
You're just not holding yourself right, he'd tell Elijah, then show him the moves. Elijah didn't think any of that would come in handy until a hot January night in a dive bar in a rural town. Elijah was with Bean, Orlando, and Dom, and he was drinking a beer, and the next thing he knew there were bottles being thrown and fists connecting with jaws and Elijah got hit in the gut and then punched a guy in the eye. He was really glad no one knew who they were, because he knew Peter would kill them all, then fire them.
The first time Elijah threw a punch that night, Dom was right beside him and kicked the same guy in the balls, then pushed him to the floor. Later, back in the room they were sharing that night, they removed their shirts and inspected each other for bruises. Dom's fingers brushed lightly against Elijah's skin, causing a shiver to run down his spine, and then Dom's hand curled around the nape of Elijah's neck as he kissed him. Later, as Dom walked naked to the mini-fridge, Elijah noticed a large bruise on his side. Thank god, Dom said, I thought I was going to get through my first proper bar fight without a scratch. Elijah just rolled his eyes and scooted into the warmth where Dom had been laying.
* 4: Karl
Elijah learned where to have fun in New Zealand from Karl. Karl was really into outdoor sports, so it was Karl who took Elijah rock climbing. You'll love it, Karl had assured him, not scary in the slightest. But when Elijah was halfway up a mountain and made the mistake of looking down, he almost passed out. Karl just laughed. You're fine, he said, grabbing Elijah by the shoulder and squeezing. Just remember, always keep going. The end result is always worth it. Elijah thought it was sound advice, for rock climbing or life in general. And when Elijah stood at the top of that mountain, staring out over the New Zealand countryside, Karl slung an arm around his shoulders and said, I told you, didn't I?
The first time Elijah took Dom camping, they got lost. You're the one who's supposed to know this shit, Elijah had said, looking helplessly at the map and the unfamiliar scenery around him. You're all fucking trees and nature and all that. Dom dropped onto a log and sighed. This was your bloody idea. Later, in a tent in the middle of a field somewhere three miles off course, Elijah writhed under Dom as Dom's hands burned into his skin, his lips ghosting across his flesh, the thin spread of stubble scraping against him. Elijah murmured into Dom's neck, and Dom whispered I love you as his fingers dug into the skin of Elijah's hip; Elijah's leg wrapped around Dom's waist as he curled his hand around Dom's bicep and replied I love you, too.
* 5: Billy
Elijah learned how to be a friend from Billy. He'd had friends over the years, and quite a few good ones, but nothing matched the level of companionship he found in New Zealand. Aside from Dom, Billy was his best friend, and since Elijah had no underlying feelings for Billy, that made him even more special.
Billy shared his love for music, and he'd sit around with Elijah for hours, plucking a rhythm on the guitar while Elijah matched the beat on the drums. Sometimes Viggo joined them, or Dom, Orlando, or Sean, but Billy and Elijah wasted many hours alone in a room lost in music. Billy loved music as much as Elijah did although they listened to very different things. I made you a mix, Elijah told Billy after he'd discovered that Billy didn't recognize half the people he listened to. The next day, Billy came into feet with a mix for Elijah, and thus, started a tradition. Elijah had stacks of Billy's Mix CDs, all numbered and labeled with the name of a song from the CD.
I want to make music like this one day, Billy confided. He was sitting on Elijah's floor, his eyes closed and lips slightly parted as his head swayed back and forth to the rhythm. I want to share with the world how I see it. He opened his eyes. I like acting, but it's not my passion. I don't have a way with words like Dom. But music? It's how I can reach people. It's how I can explain the way I see things. Elijah hoped it would happen. He wanted to see the way Billy saw the world, to see the way things took shape in his eyes.
The first time Elijah told Billy about Dom, Billy grinned and laughed. I never thought the two of you would figure it out. You were driving me crazy. Elijah looked at him in horror, and Billy rolled his eyes. Did you really think you were being stealthy? Elijah, your face shines every time he's even near. And I think he may be worse than you, what with that stupid goofy-arse grin. Elijah knew he should be embarrassed, but he just felt happy.
Elijah learned how to love from Dom. It was weird when he first realized how he felt. It scared him. Not because Dom was a guy -- Elijah had been interested in guys and girls since he could remember, but he'd never really done anything about it. He'd lost his virginity to a nice girl when he was 16 and had never found a guy he'd been seriously interested in. It scared him because what he felt for Dom was different, something that felt real. He'd never been in love, and he was only 18, but when he was around Dom, he knew that was how it was supposed to feel.
It was raining the day they got together. Elijah had tried so hard to keep his feelings buried deep inside - pretending to be someone else like Ian suggested - but Viggo's voice echoed in his head, It doesn't matter who you are as long as you are you. Never hide how you feel. They'd ridden back to Dom's place together. They had an early call, and Dom had offered to order pizza if Elijah would watch some movie with him he'd been trying to get someone to watch with him for weeks. Elijah didn't care what the title was; he just wanted to spend time with Dom. Dom ordered the pizza and Elijah grabbed the beers from the fridge, and they piled on the couch, pizza box between them.
They never got through the movie. Dom kept pausing it, explaining things to Elijah, then Elijah would ask questions and Dom would pause it again. After the pizza was gone, they moved the box to the floor, and every time Dom paused the movie, they drifted closer and closer together on the couch until their feet were stretched out and resting on the coffee table, legs pressing against one another.
Halfway through the movie, Elijah began dozing, his head drooping onto Dom's shoulder. When Elijah woke up an hour later, Dom's arm was around his shoulders and he was asleep, too. Elijah made to get up without disturbing Dom, but Dom's eyes slowly opened and Elijah smiled sleepily. I should go, Elijah said. You should stay, Dom responded, and Elijah nodded. Okay.
The first time Elijah and Dom had sex, Elijah felt like a clueless virgin. I'm so sorry, he repeated, I really have no clue what I'm doing. Dom just kissed him and said, Just keep touching me and I'll tell you if I don't like it. But odds are, I'll like it. He grinned and Elijah felt some of his anxiety disappear.
It went faster than Elijah wanted - they wavered between taking it slow and getting off as quickly as they could. It's been a while, okay? Dom had said, and Elijah couldn't help but agree. But Elijah would never forget the press of Dom's bare skin against his own, the ragged sounds of his breath in his ear, the touch of his fingers over his shaft, the pain of Dom sliding inside him, the soothing kisses and tenderness Dom treated him with despite his urgency. Then afterwards, they lay in Dom's bed, facing each other in the dark, legs and fingers entwined.
I've only had sex with two other people, Elijah admitted, and Dom said, I've never been in love.
I don't know if I'm ready for this role. I don't think I'll ever be a good actor.
I'm afraid of spiders. I'm afraid of dying.
I haven't seen my father in three years. I had no real friends until I met all of you.
Sometimes I feel like the world is too terrifying to live in. Sometimes I feel like I'll disappear and no one will ever notice.
Elijah brushed his fingers through Dom's damp hair. Everyone would notice...I. I wouldn't be the same without you.
Dom smiled softly and said, I haven't been the same since the day I met you.
Elijah smiled and knew he felt the same.