Summary: It's supposed to be a celebration, this, and maybe it will be, in the end.
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 herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
It's supposed to be a celebration, this; they're all meant to be lifting glass after glass in honour of Dom's surviving another year and hitting the ripe old age of twenty-three without any of his fellow (-ship or not) cast members having killed him, however much they've all been tempted at various times in the last three months. And they are celebrating, as much as they can; drinks are being pounded down and tables are being pounded upon, and there's not a face at the table that can't conjure up a smile and a good wish Dom's way.
But the fact is that every face at the table is also exhausted, each and all creased with the weight of the work and the knowledge that there's still such a long way to go. Elijah's eyes move from one end of the table to the other, stopping their stare at the faces he's come to love best in this short time, and he registers how Dom lets his body sag a little in his chair when he thinks no one's looking, how Dom puffs out low, tired sighs when he thinks no one can hear over the sound of everything else. Elijah sees too how Orlando can't allow even a moment's silence to pass, his plummy accent falling to rougher pieces when he can barely get words out between his laughter, and how Orlando can't stop reaching for anyone who'll bear his touch, anyone who looks like they might need it, whether they know it or not.
The talk at the table starts with work and moves quickly on to play, following a pattern the hobbits and Orlando have developed almost since week two. Various girls and boys wandering the pub are rated by the table as a whole, everyone on legs deemed worthy of their attention just by virtue of being someone new to their eyes, someone who's not bleeding Tolkien or looking fed solely by on-set catering and cheap drink. For once, though, no one at the table seems ready or even wanting to rise to the occasion and chat anyone else up; it's all too tiring, too hard to explain to the object of one night's attention that yeah, you really do have to disappear at four in the morning, because your boss expects you to be wearing different ears and feet by five. It's just too rarely worth the effort, and so it's come as no surprise that no matter how often their gaze gets fixed on others, the single hobbits and Orlando tend to find themselves alone together at the end of it nights like this, everybody looking for something they can only seem to find in each other.
Sometimes that something is nice--kind, compassionate, even--and sometimes it's just ... not. Sometimes it's a little dangerous, and while they're usually more on point about it and can diffuse situations before they get ugly, there are times when no one can and no one particularly wants to. This shouldn't be one of those nights, Elijah thinks as he watches it start right in front of his eyes; tonight they should be relaxing and enjoying each other's company instead of looking for scabs to pick. But even while he comes to that conclusion, he knows it's too late, and by the time both Orlando's and Dom's teeth are bared and Billy's palms are flattened on the table, ready to take his idle, bored weight as he rises to intervene if he absolutely has to but not one millisecond before, there might as well be blood on the air.
It doesn't really matter how it started, as long as it finishes with no broken bones. Elijah gets the gist of what's happened as he pulls Orlando to one corner and Billy takes Dom to the other; usually the target of the hobbits' fragile-flower pisstakes, Orlando's jumped at the chance to hit back, needling Dom relentlessly about his exhaustion and inability to keep up with one of the many small and fucking stupid challenges they've all set each other in the training rooms. Elijah had known how much agony Dom was in but hadn't thought it would be an issue tonight; it shouldn't and wouldn't have been if Orlando had listened the third time Dom had told him to back the fuck off, and not smacked at Dom's arm again. Elijah had known too that Orlando's back had been playing up for two days, but that didn't have to be a topic of interest to anyone until Dom had kicked Orlando nearly across the pub floor and then fallen on him in a brutal, foul-mouthed returned fire that left them both burnt in their corners now.
What the hell's wrong with you? Elijah asks Orlando, imagining he can hear something similar from Billy across the floor. Orlando doubles over a little, his face pale in a way Elijah's never seen it without the aid of pounds of makeup. There's no answer to that, and they both know it; rather than push for more, Elijah steadies Orlando and looks across the room at Billy still holding Dom back with an expression of resigned sympathy for them all, and probably mostly himself. Elijah looks back at Orlando then to Billy again, and at Billy's determined inhale and nod, Elijah nods too, and moves himself and Orlando to the door.
One of the risks of going out as a group is that should the group splinter, you might find yourself stuck for a way home. Not that Elijah much feels like driving at the moment even if he'd had his car tonight; he'd had more than a few ill-gotten gains of beer, and lurching Orlando with him in the direction of a taxi might have been the safest way to end the night no matter what.
Orlando gets more amiable the more miles separate them from the pub; he gets smarter, too, admitting he cocked things up in a huge way back there but also lifting his chin and eyes and telling Elijah that it'll all come out in the wash--Dom might not even remember everything they'd said and done, and what he does remember, he won't have much choice but to forgive, considering how many times he's needed that forgiveness himself. Elijah's not so sure, but he doesn't say so; there's not a lot of point arguing with Orlando on a good day, much less a bad night.
Anyway, it's got me where I'm supposed to be, right? Orlando says, and it takes Elijah a minute to remember to blink, to say Sorry, what? in that accent he's picked up a little too well and can't always shake off the set. Orlando gives one of his snorts of laughter and shifts on his side of the seat, twisting a bit to face Elijah and let his smile sweeten. Elijah has to work hard not to blush here, but he manages it; this is probably another pisstake Orlando's throwing at him, knowing Elijah's not likely to throw a punch back. When Orlando shifts again, it's slightly into himself, long limbs folding up as confusion moves visibly over his face even in the dark of the cab.
Wait, I thought-- Elijah begins, and No, I got it wrong, Orlando ends. They both laugh, they both cough and sit back and stare and smile again, a little frozen and lot overheated at once. Elijah watches what might as well be a filmstrip in Orlando's eyes, a running commentary of friendship and more Elijah thinks he's got to be mirroring right back at Orlando by this point. Dom-- Orlando starts, and No way, I thought you, Elijah finishes. Orlando stares at him again, and Elijah thinks for a minute that he's got reason to have believed what he thought, okay; Dom and Orlando are the most fucking affectionate people on earth when they're not trying to kill each other, and sometimes it seems like they've made room for Elijah between them only because--well, wait.
Yeah, Orlando breathes as if he's followed Elijah's train of thought for some miles now and finally caught up and jumped on board. It's like a bad movie how conveniently they're left at that when the taxi pulls up in front of Orlando's place, bumping up the drive and settling under the building's overhang. Streetlights illuminate the grin that slides across Orlando's slightly bruised face, and Elijah has to look away and pay the driver with the weight of that grin warm on his back.
They're probably too fucked up for this, Elijah thinks once they're in Orlando's house and Orlando might as well be prowling, peeling off layers of clothes and humming to himself. Elijah just stands there in the front room, a little envious of Orlando's comfort but a lot wanting maybe another beer, because what if he's not nearly fucked up enough. Orlando throws a kinder smile over his shoulder and beckons Elijah down the hall, his hand curving not exactly elegantly but pretty fucking persuasively, it has to be said. Elijah's only ever been here in daylight, and it feels like a different place now; there's still the scent of beaches and bars, but with that comes something new--there's a peace in the air, a weird calm to it that's just so fucking Orlando, when he's not being an idiot or an idol, when he's just being himself, like he is now, hunching a little, with one hand shoved into the back of his hair and that smile still on his face.
Look, I'm not-- Elijah offers, and You don't have to be, Orlando returns. Elijah nods several times before he knows he's doing it, and then he laughs and pushes his hands down deep in his pockets, ready to sign away soul and career to the devil if he actually gets a chance at this, at Orlando, tonight and neither of them screws it up more than he has to. Orlando leans against the wall outside what Elijah knows is his room, and it's like they're sizing each other up, or maybe giving each other a chance to back out. Elijah's not going anywhere, though, having decided he's just the right measure of fucked up, and feeling weirdly victorious, too, smug if he's honest, that Orlando's not wishing it were Dom facing him here. It would be nice if Elijah could make Orlando feel the same way, he thinks; while Dom's one of the more excellent people Elijah knows (when he's not being an asshole), he's also not what and who Elijah needs most here.
Orlando may not actually need any confirmation, though; he pivots off the wall and advances on Elijah with a cheerful spring in his stagger, bending to cover Elijah's still somewhat surprised lips with his own and then stepping back to make sure that hell yeah, this is okay, this is what Elijah wants. Wants is a nice way to put it, Elijah thinks as his hands scramble out of his pockets and up Orlando's sides; wants works here, as do Orlando's fucking ace mouth and the filthy little stream of assurances that comes from it between kisses. Elijah arches against Orlando well before he might against someone else, and he'd curse himself for his own eagerness if it weren't matched so quickly by Orlando's own. A little wave of happy disbelief makes Elijah's eyes nearly roll back in his head when Orlando urges them into the bedroom and nudges Elijah backward onto the mattress, tugging at the waist of Elijah's jeans and laughing at the immediate rise of Elijah's hips to get them off.
And then it's almost too fucking good to be true. Elijah decides that he'll forgive Orlando for earlier tonight on Dom's behalf; in fact, he may take Dom's next punch on Orlando's behalf if necessary, because what's happening now is just that much worth it. Elijah can see and feel that Orlando's really not that fucked up at all; aside from the bruise on his cheek and the mild wince he makes when Elijah shifts underneath him and Orlando arches to compensate, Orlando might as well be stone sober, happy and lightened by whatever spiritual exercise thing he's got going these days and working Elijah off like the action's some rung on a ladder of enlightenment Elijah really can't wait to climb maybe a little later tonight. He might get that chance, too; he doesn't feel half as tired as he had in the pub, and Orlando's more than earned the return attention.
They're not going to fuck, hell no, not now, not this time, but this is more than okay, thanks; this is brilliant, Elijah thinks, the echo of it in that scammed accent again. Orlando hums a little more, this time around Elijah's cock, and Elijah nearly chokes on the sound and what it does to him, his whole body going taut. Another deadly little movement of Orlando's hands and mouth combined, and Elijah's coming, almost laughing with the relief of it and how ridiculous he knows he must look and quieting only when Orlando pulls away from him after what feels like ages later, all warm kisses trailing up Elijah's pale stomach and some muted laughter of his own punctuating his deeper breaths.
Fucking Christ, Elijah mutters, and Orlando laughs louder and shakes his head and says Well, no, but whatever works for you. Elijah smacks at him weakly and laughs, too, forgiving Orlando that one as well.
The next day's just another Thursday, one that dawns so bright and pretty Elijah wants to give it the finger before he's even opened his eyes fully. There are muffled sounds coming from the end of the bed he's woken in, and Elijah suppresses his typical morning expletives out of courtesy to his host and also because--notwithstanding the fucking sunshine trying to sear his eyeballs through their lids--he can't find that much in his world to curse. Orlando hears him moving and looks back over his shoulder again with a smile considerably less gutsy than any he'd worn last night. Elijah squints and grins back, tries to speak and loses his words in a puppy's waking yawn. When he opens his eyes again, a surge of panic runs through Elijah--if it's this bright out, it means they're that late--and Orlando reads it and laughs, standing to toss a shirt at Elijah and telling him they've both got about half an hour; it's the old men who were needed first this day.
Good thing, too, Elijah thinks as he splashes water on his face in Orlando's cheerful hellhole of a bathroom. He feels hit by a fleet of trucks, and it was neither his birthday nor him getting punched last night. He'd survived something different, maybe, and in getting Orlando out of trouble might have fallen happily into some of his own. It's fucking spooky how Orlando seems to know exactly when someone's thinking about him, and Elijah jumps when he catches Orlando's reflection behind his own in the bathroom mirror.
Warn somebody, fucker, he snaps, and Orlando pushes a hand through the back of Elijah's hair this time and says You first. Elijah's not sure he wants to have the conversation he thinks is coming, but the one that actually does happen is better; they come to a kind of gentlemen's agreement about last night, about today and tomorrow and maybe the next few weeks, too, and it feels good--it feels like they've agreed to a lot more than how they'll handle possible questions without resorting to snark or violence or a combination of the two (that's Dom's job, one he does well if maybe too often) or by greeting curiosity or concern with amused silence (Billy's infuriating stock in trade). Orlando tells Elijah he's interested in truth, but he'll tell only what Elijah feels comfortable sharing; Elijah tells Orlando that most of the people they care about on this film know more about Elijah than Elijah does himself, and that if they learn this, too, he could honestly not give less of the smallest fuck.
That evening finds all the tired faces of the night before a little more so, all the table and drink pounding a little slower and more careful. Apologies that didn't need to happen on set are mandatory here, and they're offered and accepted on all sides quickly and easily, freeing the rest of the time they've got for the more serious business of sorting out the weekend and talking through a trip that until now had been just a germ of an idea in Dom's mind. By the end of the night, they might as well have booked flights and accommodation, tee times and board rental; it's that on, the trip they'll take together, and as the four of them amble this time back to one car, Billy and Elijah hang back and allow Dom and Orlando to lead the loud way.
Idiots, Billy sighs, and Elijah laughs and nods but then shrugs, feeling like he should maybe defend Orlando, but when he catches Billy's eye, he sees something there that might defend Dom, too, if necessary. We're good, though, Elijah says, and though Billy's nod is almost immediate, Orlando reaches gently for Dom's arm and turns them both around to face Elijah and Billy.
No, Orlando says, simply and smartly and sure. We're better, and we may be the best.