Pairing: Sean Bean/Viggo Mortensen (Dom/Orlando)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: At his age, Sean thought he should have more figured out. But how did anyone plan for someone like Viggo?
Pre-reveal Notes: Happy Holidays & hope you enjoy, Frisbyg!
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.
"Cunting Christ, Dom, for the last time, I am not having a crisis, mid-life or otherwise. So shut it already."
Sean set his empty mug down on the table with an emphatic thump to punctuate his statement. Neither Dom nor Orlando, sitting across from him in the cramped booth at Sean's favorite pub, looked especially impressed by either the gesture or the glower Sean was leveling at them. Bloody well-meaning friends and their bloody need to offer "advice" when a person didn't need or want it.
"You keep saying you're not, yet that looming fourth divorce is mocking you, mate," Orlando grinned. "Are you sure you actually know what the term mid-life crisis means?"
"You can fuck off at your convenience, just so we're clear." Sean slumped back against the booth. "Remind me again why I agreed to meet you two for a pint?"
"Because we're buying, for one, and two, you realize how much you've missed us, and three, we're supposed to be celebrating your latest foray into singledom, remember?" Dom said, ticking off each reason on his fingers. Sean noticed his nails were painted some sparkly shade of purple. Suited him. But then, Dom always did have a love for shiny things. Probably explained the relationship with Orlando. (Mean of him -- he knew better than anyone that Orlando was a bright lad -- but he wasn't feeling particularly magnanimous at the moment.)
"Aye, how could I forget?" He had the papers at home waiting for him to sign to send back to his solicitor, mocking him, as Orlando had so eloquently put it. His latest grand folly into the old happily ever after and all that. Utter fucking rubbish, more like. Next time he felt the urge to nest with a woman, he was going to buy a fucking dog.
"Speaking of, I meant to remind you, you will stop by mine while you're in L.A. to check in on Sadie and Michelle, yeah?"
"Already told you I would." Sadie and Michelle were Dom's pet tarantula and box turtle, respectively. And, in typical Dom fashion, were both named after Beatles' songs. Dom also claimed that they liked seeing familiar faces when he and Orlando were out of L.A., like somehow the housekeeper they'd hired to keep up with the place wasn't familiar enough. Then again, Sean supposed if he was the housekeeper, he wouldn't spend too much time near exotic animals that could kill him.
"And you're certain you don't want to stay there to keep them company?"
"I draw the line at sleeping in the same house as a poisonous arachnid."
"No sense of adventure," Orlando lamented, sounding like Sean's pragmatism was somehow a personal disappointment. "I've slept in the same room with her hundreds of times and nothing's happened to me."
"Probably because she knows you're sleeping with Dom and she doesn't want to piss him off by killing you."
"She won't hurt you." When Sean just lifted an eyebrow, Dom amended, "Well, I trust her." After another beat of silence: "Alright, you win."
"Let me guess," Orlando continued, with the sort of grin that generally meant he was up to absolutely no good. Sean had learned to fear it over the years. "You're flying to Los Angeles and you've still got that absurd vendetta going on against hotels?"
"It's not a vendetta, don't be ridiculous," Sean blustered, inwardly cursing the fact that his friends knew him far too well. "I just don't like them. Far too sterile."
"You're the only bloke I know that thinks room service is evil," Dom said.
"I don't think room service is evil."
"Just hotels," Orlando interrupted, and reached across the table to pat Sean's hand. "I think it's endearing."
"That scowl is also endearing."
"Completely," Dom agreed, letting out a wistful sigh. "How come you never scowl for me like that, Orlando?"
"I'm crap at it. Look at this face. I mean, who would believe I've got anything to scowl about?"
"Mmm...good point," Dom mused, then fixed Sean with a calculating look. "If you're dead set on not hoteling it, you should call Vigs and see if you can crash at his."
Sean paused in the act of lighting his cigarette. "I should?"
"Yeah, he still lives in L.A. No weird animals to spook you, either, although some of his paintings are quite scary," Dom added with a cheerful wink.
Christ, he hadn't thought about Viggo in ages. He wasn't even certain what Vig was up to these days, although if anything particularly salacious had happened to him, Sean was sure Dom would have told him about it. Dom tended to keep up with the gossip on the rest of their mutual friends. To hear Dom tell it, someone had to keep tabs, although Sean suspected it was more like Dom never met a bit of gossip he didn't like. "I dunno, seems a bit not on to just ring someone out of the blue for a favor. It's not like we keep in regular touch."
"That's what friends are for." Dom pressed Sean's Blackberry into his hand as he slid out of the booth. "I'm off to get another round. I expect you to have phoned him by the time I get back."
"You expect me to have a conversation with Viggo with your boyfriend eavesdropping in on it?" Sean asked, gesturing at Orlando, who hadn't moved.
"Someone's got to make sure you actually call," Orlando shrugged, then waved at the phone. "Now ring him. You never know what he'll say unless you ask."
The words echoed in Sean's ears for a moment before he decided to hell with it and searched his address book until he got to Viggo's number. Sean had no idea where Viggo was, so he was half-expecting to get voicemail. When Viggo actually answered on the second ring, it came as a slight shock.
"Sean, is that really you?" Viggo asked, in lieu of a proper greeting. But then, Viggo never cared much for convention.
Sean exhaled slowly, blowing a perfect smoke ring. "Yeah. Surprised you haven't deleted my number by now."
"Why would I do that?"
"I never call, I never email..."
"Neither do I and you still have my number," Viggo reminded him. "To what do I owe the honor?"
Right, he'd had a reason for calling. Although, it was worth it just to hear Vig's voice again. It had been far too long. Terrible of him not to have kept in touch the way he should've. He vowed then and there to do better in the future.
"Oh, well, t'isn't anything serious," he finally answered. "I was just hoping I could stay at yours while I'm in L.A. next week. Got a few days of meetings and press and I thought it'd be nice to have a home base that's not quite as barren as a hotel room."
Viggo chuckled, the sound low and welcome. "Still harboring a resentment towards maid service."
Christ, he was utterly transparent. What a lowering thought. "Something like that," he reluctantly said.
"I haven't been at the house in awhile. Might be uninhabitable."
"I think I can manage a few dust mites, although I'd be happy to hoover the place to earn my keep." He'd never minded domestic chores. It was the one virtue all of his ex-wives could agree on.
"Might not be a bad idea."
Sean smiled as he tucked the phone between his ear and shoulder, Orlando's presence (and blatant eavesdropping) forgotten in the pleasure of talking to Viggo again. "So does that mean yes or should I ring my agent to arrange something else?"
"Mi casa, su casa, brother," Viggo drawled, like he was tasting each vowel for resonance. "Although, I wonder why you're not letting the studio put you up in a bungalow or apartment."
"Maybe I like the idea of messing up your sheets."
"I'm sorry, pot, I couldn't hear you over the sound of the kettle going off."
"How long did it take you to think of that line?"
"Long enough," Sean smiled. "But maybe I won't have a go at your sheets. Maybe I'll sell them online, instead. I'm sure there'd be a few ladies who'd be interested in your DNA."
"I doubt it's mine they'd want. But, yours would fetch a decent price."
"Bollocks to that. You're the poet and photographer and all that romantic nonsense. You're every woman's dream, aren't you? Who wouldn't want to have your offspring?"
"I'm not as good-looking as you."
"Now you're just fishing for compliments," Sean scoffed, even though he was inwardly a little pleased that Viggo still thought him handsome. Most days, he felt every day of his 51 years on the planet. "Thanks for the invite. I promise not to destroy anything valuable."
"Just replace the beer in the fridge."
"Done," Sean said, feeling relieved.
"I'm sorry I'll miss you," Viggo replied, and sounded sincere.
"Filming somewhere exotic, I hope?"
"In Vancouver, on a new film with Cronenberg. About Jung and Freud."
Sounded intriguing. And straight up Viggo's alley. "Which one are you?"
"Freud, of course," Viggo chuckled.
"Of course." Sean should have known. "Good, then, you can diagnose my various neuroses for me next time we meet up."
"It's a date."
"I look forward to it."
"Until then. Oh, and make sure you remember to feed the iguana that lives under the patio."
"The...the what?" But Viggo had already ended the call.
"So, what'd he say?" Dom asked, when he came back to the table, cradling three fresh pints of ale.
"They spent the entire time flirting, like always," Orlando said, before Sean could open his mouth.
"Shut it, you."
Orlando gave him a disbelieving look. "You're denying it? Mate, you were practically batting your eyelashes at the phone. It was honestly the cutest thing I've seen all week."
Sean decided to ignore him. It was either that or smack Orlando upside the head, and Orlando tended to fight back. "Vig said alright," he told Dom, and took a bracing sip from his glass. He didn't mention the iguana. Knowing Dom, he'd want to head over to Los Angeles to rescue it and add it to his collection of odd creatures.
"See, and you were all worried."
"When's the last time you saw him?" Orlando asked. "Viggo, I mean."
"Dunno, really, a year, maybe two. Doesn't matter, though, he's filming. Said he'll be gone while I'm in Los Angeles."
"Shame, that. You could use a friend like Vig right now. He was a big help during your last divorce, wasn't he?"
"Yeah, I suppose he was at that." He was such crap at this, really. Feeling at loose ends, like he had no idea in which direction to go. He liked having a plan. He hated the thought that, once again, he'd failed utterly at something important, something permanent. "I just don't know what to do with myself."
"Does anyone?" Orlando shrugged, raking a hand through his hair in a futile attempt to keep it off his forehead. "Besides, maybe it's time for you to stop thinking so much about what you don't have and just focus on what's here and now."
"Shouldn't it be me giving you two sage life advice and a pat on the head?"
"Where's the fun in doing the expected?" Dom asked, sounding genuinely confused.
"Noted," Sean replied. He tried to remember the last time he'd done anything completely spontaneous, and couldn't. The thought depressed him a lot more than it probably should've. It was all work and more work these days. Maybe he really was getting to be a stick in the mud in his old age.
"Cheer up," Orlando said, and patted his hand again. "It's alright if you don't have it all figured out yet."
"If not now, then when?" Christ, he was on the wrong side of 50, wasn't that supposed to mean something?
"Never?" Dom guessed. "Isn't the whole point to die still having questions for the next life?"
"If you believe in that sort of thing."
"Heaven and Earth, Horatio," Dom grinned.
Sean looked to Orlando for help. "How do you put up with his incessant cheerfulness?"
"He's a fantastic shag."
"Don't let him fool you," Dom said, "Orlando over here can do things with his tongue that would make even Ian blush."
"For the love of Christ, do not tell me what those things are," Sean protested, barely resisting the urge to cover his ears and start humming. Dom had no shame and no concept of the idea that certain things should remain private.
"Enough traumatizing Sean, love," Orlando said, even though Sean caught the smile as Orlando placed a quick kiss to Dom's nape. "We're supposed to be getting him pissed and showing him a good time and then finding him an indecent woman to shag to celebrate his freedom."
"Fine, ruin my fun," Dom griped, but obligingly turned the conversation to the European Cup Finals and whether ManU had any chance to beat Real Madrid.
The thing Sean loved most about Viggo's place was that he never felt like he was in Los Angeles when he was there. The sprawling ranch style house was set well off of a winding road and was surrounded by hills and the sort of gentle, green foliage he associated with New Zealand or the English countryside, not the palm tree, desert, artificial turf of L.A. At Viggo's, Sean could truly relax, let his guard down. He could go for a walk along the canyon paths and not see a single other person -- a rarity in this city.
The house itself was warm, welcoming, an odd mixture of eclectic artist and lazy bohemian. There was plenty of color on the walls in the form of abstract paintings and brightly colored frescos, and in the hand-woven rugs scattered across scuffed hardwood floors. The furniture had seen better days, but was so comfortable and lived in that it didn't matter, and the back patio boasted an incredible view of the valley below. Viggo'd built the patio furniture himself, and the chairs and table were a bit like their creator -- a little scruffy, not likely to win any beauty contests, but sturdy and stable where it counted and possessed of a quiet sort of attractiveness that wasn't immediately apparent.
Sean never questioned why, but he always felt like Viggo's place was a little slice of home away from home.
He set his overnight bag down on the floor inside the living room, and looked around. Not a lot had changed, which was comforting. The place could definitely use a dusting, and maybe a broom to get rid of some of the spiderwebs in the corners, but for all that Sean knew Viggo hadn't set foot in the place in months, it didn't feel sterile or unlived in. More dormant, really. Just waiting for its owner to come back and liven the place up a little.
Seemed to sum up Viggo's affect on the environment when he was around, come to think on it. Sean was saddened, once again, by the fact that he wouldn't be seeing Viggo this time around. They needed to carve some time together one of these days to share a bottle (or two, knowing Viggo) and catch up on what the other was doing. Sean was certain that Viggo's adventures would by far outweigh his own, since all Sean seemed to be doing was work in an effort not to think about his failed personal life, but he wasn't going to think about that. He was going to use this week to conduct his business and then take a much needed break from his real life. London, and all of its responsibilities and worries, could just live without him for a few days.
With that in mind, he set off for the kitchen in search of the ancient kettle that Viggo'd bought at some open air market in South America somewhere (Argentina maybe, Brazil, he couldn't remember) to boil some water for tea. He thought maybe he could begin his stay by sitting on the patio with a nice cup of Darjeeling and a cigarette and watch the sunset. It wasn't anything loud or ostentatious, but that wasn't exactly Sean's way.
Small steps, he told himself. At least he was going in the right direction.
Twelve days later, Sean was still in no hurry to leave either Los Angeles or Viggo's house. His business meetings with his agent had long since been concluded to the mutual satisfaction of both parties (his agent promised to send him scripts where he could play a character that made it to the end of the film, and he promised he wouldn't do a six-month West End run of "King Lear" until 2013), and his press obligations for HBO had been taken care of, but he still hadn't booked a flight back home yet. It wasn't like he had anyplace to be, after all. The girls were fine and in school, his divorce was being hammered out by his and Georgina's lawyers (and certainly wasn't a reason to fly back), and his next film wasn't due to begin production for another month. So far, he was greatly enjoying his impromptu vacation.
He'd just stepped out of the shower (after a brisk run up to the top of the canyon and back -- not too shabby for an old man, if he said so himself) and was toweling off when he heard the unmistakable sound of the front door opening. Thinking it might be the groundskeeper come a day early, Sean wrapped a towel around his waist and walked into the living room.
Viggo was stopped just inside the doorway. His backpack was still on his shoulder and he had a green reusable grocery bag from some place called Ralph's in his hand. He had on jeans so worn they were almost threadbare, a bright red San Lorenzo t-shirt, thongs on his feet, and his hair was pulled into a haphazard ponytail. He also desperately needed a shave.
"Sean, this is a surprise," Viggo said, in that slow, rolling drawl of his that always made Sean think of sluggish summer days. "Didn't expect to still see you here."
Sean couldn't really tell if Viggo was upset or not -- it was always hard to tell what was going on behind Viggo's eyes. "Sorry, my fault," he finally said. "I should have let you know I was staying a few extra days."
"I said it was a surprise," Viggo repeated, with a slight shrug. "I didn't say it was an unwelcome one."
"You sure? I'd hate to be a bother."
"Don't be ridiculous," Viggo replied, then gestured at Sean, a smile quirking at his lips and showing off the laugh lines around his mouth. "And as much as I like the sight of your naked chest, you're dripping on the rug."
"What? Oh, fuck." Sean glanced down -- he was, indeed, getting water everywhere -- and grimaced. He was also certain he was blushing. He hadn't done that in a decade, at least. "I'll just, um...finish up, then," he stammered, and retreated, over the sound of Viggo's bright guffaw of laughter, to the bathroom.
He wondered if it was too late to sneak out of the window and escape before he embarrassed himself further.
"And don't think about running!" Viggo called, from the other side of the door. "I'm holding your suitcase hostage."
He was not going to bang his head against the mirror above the sink. "You're as easy to read as a four-year old," he told his reflection, then finished drying off.
When he finally talked himself out of leaving the bathroom and had gotten dressed in jeans and a comfortable tee, he went in search of Viggo, finding him in the kitchen. "Have you eaten?" Viggo asked, as he closed the refrigerator door and started idly juggling two red peppers and an onion. Sean wondered when he'd picked up that particular skill.
"Depends. Are you cooking?" Sean asked warily. He'd lived through some of the experiments that Viggo'd insisted were meals, but he had no intention of doing it again unless he had to. Friend or no, he wasn't certain his digestive system could handle it these days.
"I bought some chicken on the way up. I was thinking about kebabs."
Kebabs didn't sound so bad. Sort of impossible to muck those up, really. "In that case, I'm starving."
"Meaning not even I could fuck up grilling chicken?" Viggo smiled, and neatly caught the peppers and onion, then set them on the cutting board on the counter.
"Meaning I lived with you for a year, so yes," Sean smiled back. Then they stepped toward each other, the hug of welcome long and hard, almost bone-crushing in its intensity. It had been far too long, Sean thought to himself, and vowed to himself he'd do a better job of keeping in touch. He needed all the true friends he could get these days.
"It's good to see you," Viggo said, when they pulled apart. "I like the beard."
Sean scrubbed a hand across his chin, bristles scraping his palm. "It's for a role. Just getting used to it again."
"Suits you. You always looked best scruffy," Viggo stated, as he grabbed a knife from the knife block.
"Thanks for that, I think," Sean replied, and leaned against the counter to watch Viggo work. "So, you're all done filming, I take it?"
"More or less. We may have to do one or two more scenes, but I doubt it. Dave seems to think he has enough."
Sean drew two bottles of beer out of the fridge and opened them, then set one down for Viggo. It was almost like being back in New Zealand and the easy rhythm they'd fallen into while sharing quarters. "Well, then, congrats on another job well done."
"Thanks." They clinked their bottles together and drank. "And if you're staying in the kitchen, you get to make the salad," Viggo added.
It was a fair enough trade. "I'm at your command."
"I'll have to think of some creative orders, then."
Sean laughed at the exaggerated leer. Some things, no matter how much time had passed, would never change, and Viggo's twisted humor was one of them. "Pervert," he said fondly.
Viggo cupped a hand around his ear. "What was that about a pot and a kettle?"
"Touché," Sean conceded, and got to work chopping vegetables.
"So, Orlando tells me you're having a mid-life crisis."
Sean fought the instinctive urge to phone Orlando immediately and have it out with him. It was the middle of the night in London, first off, and second, Orlando would probably tell him that telling Viggo was for his own good or some other nonsense. Arguing with Orlando was also pointless, like wishing for snow in Tahiti.
Still, Sean's mostly mellow mood had vanished. After a surprisingly excellent dinner, he and Viggo had moved a couple of chairs from the patio to the yard to watch the stars. They still had half a bottle of some Argentinean Malbec (Viggo's idea) and some truly excellent hash brownies they'd been eating on for dessert (also Viggo's idea), and Sean had been in a peaceful sort of half-asleep state when Viggo'd broken the comfortable silence. The last thing Sean wanted to talk about was himself.
"Did he?" Sean asked, and snuggled deeper inside his jacket, thankful for its fleece lining. The temperature had plummeted once the sun had gone down, but he was used to the differential by this point. As cold as it was, it was still a sight warmer than London was this time of year.
"Dom agreed with him." Viggo lolled his head to the side and gave Sean a considering look. He was wearing a parka that looked like it was made of hemp, and fingerless gloves (although Sean had yet to figure out the use for them.) "So, are you?"
"Am I what?" He knew better than to play dumb around Viggo, but honestly, it was self defense at this point.
"Having a mid-life crisis?" Viggo asked, drawing out each word like he thought Sean had comprehension issues.
"No." Fuck. "Possibly. Haven't a clue, to be honest."
"Is it the divorce?"
"A little bit," Sean said, resigned to the fact that he and Viggo were, in fact, going to have this conversation whether he wanted to or not. "Doesn't it ever bother you? I mean, that you're most likely going to die a lonely old man with no one there to mourn you after you're gone?"
"I don't know, I like to think that Henry would miss me."
"I don't mean the children -- of course they'll miss us," Sean sighed, exasperated. "I mean companionship. Someone to grow old with."
"Is that what this is about?" Viggo took a bite of his brownie, chewed it in thoughtful silence. "Is that why you married her?"
"Possibly," Sean muttered, feeling like the lowest form of scum for admitting it. There had to be something wrong with him that he was more upset about the idea of losing another wife in the abstract sense than losing Georgina, the person. Honestly, if that truly was the reason he'd married her, it served him right to be alone and miserable.
"You're thinking too much," Viggo declared, then scooted his chair over until it was flush with Sean's. He nudged at the crook of Sean's neck with his head until Sean got the hint and draped an arm around Viggo's shoulders. Almost immediately, Sean started to relax into the warmth Viggo provided. "There's nothing wrong with wanting to connect with someone," Viggo told him, mumbling the words against Sean's skin, each puff of air another shot of heat to his system. "But it doesn't always have to be permanent."
"Are you trying to make a point or something? I mean, about connections? Is that why you're snuggling against me like a teddy bear?"
Viggo lolled his head to stare up at Sean. His eyes seemed inhumanly bright in the shadowed darkness surrounding them. His hair brushed across Sean's neck like a caress. "I get affectionate when I'm stoned. I'm surprised you don't remember that."
"Yeah, of course. Sorry," Sean said, a little abashed that he had, in fact, forgotten, and dropped a kiss to the top of Viggo's head. His hair smelled like an odd (but not unpleasant) combination of citrus shampoo and charcoal from the grill. They sat in easy silence until the sound of a lone coyote howling in the distance broke the quiet. Once again, Sean was reminded of New Zealand, and the two of them sitting on the patio of the house they'd shared, staring at the ocean until sheer exhaustion drove them inside. He'd missed this -- just the two of them and the fragile tranquility they'd always created.
Sean had started to drift off again when Viggo finally spoke, his voice soft and soothing, like he was trying not to disturb the peace. "Maybe you should switch it up."
"Switch what up?"
Sean thought he'd actually fallen asleep and missed a crucial part of the conversation. "I'm sorry, I don't follow."
"Women," Viggo stressed, with a good-natured sigh. "When's the last time you cut loose with a man, Sean? Might do you some good to get out of the corner you've painted yourself into."
Oh. Oh. Hold on, was Viggo trying to...? No, no, it was too absurd. It had to be the combination of the wine and pot lulling him into some false sense of intimacy. Sure, they'd been thick as thieves back in the day, but nothing had ever come of it. They were friends, nothing more. Weren't they? (Although it didn't explain why Viggo was still nestled against him. Quote, affectionate when stoned, unquote, be damned. Viggo had never used Sean as a pillow before.)
Well, and so what if he was. They were both unattached, weren't they? Maybe Viggo was lonely himself, and looking for the same thing Sean was. It wouldn't be the most unheard of thing if two friends turned to each other in their hour of need and made a go of it. In fact, it made a certain sort of sense -- as much sense as anything made these days.
It wasn't as if he found Viggo unattractive -- far from it. Sean was certain there wasn't a person alive that wouldn't be attracted to Viggo's rugged good looks and air of mystery and confidence. And there'd always been something there, some spark, chemistry, whatever it was. Maybe it was time to act on it, to actually do something spontaneous and take the reins of his own life for once.
He'd tilted Viggo's face up to him before he could talk himself out of it, and pressed their lips together, the kiss dry and soft, a test of Viggo's intentions (and his own.) It only took a few befuddled moments to realize that Viggo wasn't kissing him back. In fact, Viggo was just sitting there -- not pulling away, not moving at all. Of course he wasn't moving, Sean belatedly realized -- he was probably trying to figure out a way to let Sean down gently without ruining what remained of their friendship. Sean had created this mess. It was up to him to set it right.
He pushed away from the kiss in an abrupt explosion of movement, disgusted with himself and his own selfish needs. Wasn't being here with a good friend enough for him? Why did he have to push when he knew better? When would he learn not to fuck up a good thing when he had it?
"I'm sorry, that was...I'm sorry. I shouldn't've assumed." He removed his arm from Viggo's shoulders and rubbed his hands over his face, hoping it would help to clear his head, clarify his thoughts. He was a 51 year-old man. No matter what Dom had said, he should have some things figured out. He should definitely have himself figured out more by now.
"I didn't push you away." Viggo didn't sound upset, but it took rather a lot to ruffle Viggo's feathers. Still, it was enough for Sean to risk looking up. Viggo hadn't moved. There was nothing except curiosity in his eyes. "Although I am wondering why now?"
"I don't know," Sean answered honestly. He owed Viggo at least that much.
"I'm only asking because, when I tried kissing you 11 years ago, you brushed me off."
Good God, Sean had forgotten all about that. He let out a sheepish chuckle, and ran a nervous hand through his hair and down to scratch at his beard. "Well...y'know, at the time...I thought you were shagging Karl."
Viggo let out a sharp, amused bark of laughter. "You're kidding."
Sean squirmed a little uncomfortably in his chair. "Well, you two were always disappearing in the middle of the night to go fishing or whatever, weren't you?"
"That's the first time I've ever heard anyone using fishing as a euphemism for sex."
"Shut it, you," Sean grumbled, hunching his shoulders in an effort to make himself smaller. He told himself it was because the wind had picked up.
"You and Orlando and your theories, man..."
"I don't follow."
Viggo picked up another brownie and started nibbling on the edges. "Oh, Orlando had a mad crush on Karl for awhile, and didn't do anything because he thought Karl and I were together. He was rather relieved when I set him straight."
That sounded like Orlando from 11 years ago, Sean thought, then the obvious implications of what Viggo'd just said sunk in. "Hold on, are you saying Karl and Orlando...? I mean, they didn't actually...did they?"
"If they did, they never told anyone else about it. But it wouldn't surprise me."
Sean couldn't say he'd be surprised if it was true, either. "I always thought Orlando had a thing for you, to be honest. He was always underfoot."
"I think that had more to do with his rather doting crush on you rather than his hero worship of me."
"You might have something there." Not that Sean had ever acted on it, even though Orlando was certainly one of the most beautiful people he'd ever met. Even back then, he'd known that sleeping with Orlando would have mucked up his friendship with Dom.
"Who would have guessed that Dom would have been the one to get Orlando to finally settle down?" Viggo mused.
"They are ridiculously suited," Sean agreed. "Anyone with eyes could have seen it, even back then."
"You always did pay more attention than most."
Sean smiled at the compliment. "Maybe it is for the best that you and I never did anything. I'm sure I would have done my best to bollocks it up and I'd have lost a good friend."
"I dunno. I thought...well, maybe it's just best to let it lie. I think I'm a little too old to believe in happily ever after at this point. Too many failures on my resume."
"That's your problem," Viggo answered, his voice rough from both the pot and the wine. "Thinking that there should be a happily ever after. Why can't we just enjoy a happily for now?"
"Now you sound like Dom."
"You should try listening to him sometime. He's a smart man."
"Yeah, he is. Good head on his shoulders. He seems to have settled in nicely into his domestic bliss. But I don't think I could go down that route again." No matter what his traitorous heart thought about the matter.
"I don't think anyone's asking you to have what he and Orlando have. Dom's Dom. You're you. And you've been trying to conform to someone else's ideals for far too long."
"Which would be lovely, if I could figure out what those ideals are."
"Fair enough." Viggo held up the bottle. "Pour you another?"
Sean held out his glass. "Just like that, you're dropping this?"
"I've said my piece. It's not like I've been pining for you in an ivory tower for the last decade, Sean." Viggo set the bottle back on the small side table. "But I am amenable, if this is something you want for its own sake, and not because you're feeling lonely and sorry for yourself. Companionship doesn't have to be forever."
"No, I suppose not." But Sean knew he would still feel like a failure if and when it ended. He always did.
"Just because a relationship ends doesn't mean it wasn't successful."
"Reading my mind again?" Sean asked ruefully.
Viggo matched the smile, and seeing the crinkles around his eyes made Sean feel a little better. At least they could both have a laugh at themselves. "Maybe I just know how you feel."
"Maybe you do."
"I need to take a leak. I'll be back."
Sean waited until Viggo had disappeared back into the house before he let himself take another breath. He leaned against the flimsy cushion of his chair and stared up at the stars twinkling brightly overhead, impervious to his insignificant life and even more insignificant problems. Nothing like contemplating one's place in the universe to make one realize the hubris of one's thoughts.
At the end of the day, he knew Viggo was right. He'd always equated companionship with permanency. Whether it was because he wanted what his own parents had, or because he wanted something solid and real to counter the transience of his life and profession, it didn't matter. Maybe it was time to change the rules a bit. Let go. Finally enjoy something for its own sake, as Viggo'd said.
Wasn't that why he'd stayed in L.A. rather than going back to London, after all? To enjoy simply being, with no agenda and no deadline? Perhaps it was time to translate that into something physical.
Or perhaps he was simply a little bit drunk and a little bit stoned and wasn't in the mood for his right hand tonight.
He was still musing over his options when Viggo reappeared and took his place back in his chair. Sean studied him, easily picking out the new wrinkles lining his forehead and around his eyes and the new streaks of grey in his hair. They should have made Viggo look old, washed up, but, if anything, Viggo looked even more vibrant, more alive. He looked so at ease in his own skin, so at peace with where he was in the world. It was one of Viggo's more attractive qualities.
"I don't know how this would even work," he said aloud, surprising even himself.
"Maybe it wouldn't," Viggo shrugged. "But fear of failure is no reason not to do something."
"And that's enough for you?"
"Why wouldn't it be?"
Why wouldn't it be, indeed. "Because regrets are long, and our friendship is valuable to me."
"We're still friends," Viggo reminded him. "And I'd rather regret the things I've done than the things I didn't."
Which did seem to sum up Viggo -- and the differences between them -- in a nutshell. "We'll mostly likely try to kill each other inside a week."
"Sounds like fun," Viggo chuckled, and Sean could tell he meant it. Of course Viggo meant it. Viggo liked anything that involved possibly insane and potentially bad ideas.
"You're a hopeless lunatic sometimes, I hope you know that."
"Hopeful lunatic, and that's all the time," Viggo countered, then grinned. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to try that kiss again."
"I am at your command, after all," Sean laughed, and leaned towards Viggo's chair. This time, Viggo met the kiss halfway, his lips surprisingly pliant and warm against Sean's. It wasn't perfect, not even close -- they were both too stoned and maybe a little too drunk for it to be anything other than pleasant -- but it was perfectly them nevertheless. When Viggo settled back in the crook of his arm again, Sean just pulled him close and rested his cheek against Viggo's hair. Maybe this -- whatever this was -- wouldn't last past Sean's time here in L.A., and maybe it would last until they were 80. For now, Sean was content to enjoy the peace and the company.
Although he was looking forward to repeating the kiss when they were both clear-headed enough to take it further.