Disclaimer: Fiction : 1. An imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented.
A/N: My first and quite possibly last hobbitfic. Written for Beth.
Elijah wakes with the dawn light, shining pale and curious through curtains they forgot to close in the tumbles and caresses of last night. He rubs his eyes and sits up, looking out to see the egg yolk sun spreading wetly across the cold horizon. A chill morning, frost crisps the edges of the window pane with crystal flakes like sketches of stars.
The bed is warm, the feather comforter tattered and familiar. He has brought it from his bedroom at home, and it makes him feel safe here during his unconscious hours in the same way that one of his old CDs can fill the new apartment with scattered snatches of memory at the touch of a button. It's too early to be awake, even the birds have not yet mustered the energy to sing, but the day has begun and cannot now be stopped.
Pushing his toes out from under the covers, he tests the air in the room. The heating has not come on fully, though metallic thuds and tappings in the pipes suggest the building is waking up and it will be warm soon. He shivers, easing himself to the edge of the bed then leaping, with a gasp and a rush and feet as quiet as he can make them, dressing hurriedly in whatever he grabs first. He pulls a sweater on over bare skin, hugging it around him, and as he looks in the mirrored closet door he wonders if he is really ready yet.
There is a muffled murmur from the bed. Elijah looks over to see the sheets shift, lifting and curling in on themselves, then falling still again with a satisfied grunt. He smiles, the neatly strung bow of his lips curling at the corners, and crosses to the window. Pulling the drapes across, he trims the expanse of sky to a few inches of brightness. Just enough to see by.
Glass frames are stacked sloping against the wall out in the hallway, waiting to be homed in a quiet corner, or above the couch, or to lend a touch of colour to the matte white bathroom. Glossy faces stare out at Elijah's feet as he heads for the kitchen. Viggo taught him the value of photographs, as much a form of art as anything a stranger has daubed in watercolour or oils, and infinitely more personal. Elijah wants to fill his house with freeze frames of his friends, of places that belong to him, to them and no one else. It is selecting which ones that has proved the hard part. He feels too young to have so many memories.
It's the pictures of himself that fascinate him most, and as he sits at the table, fingers curled round a mug of coffee made so strong that he winces at every sip, it's these pictures that he sorts from the remaining piles. He lays them into mosaic collages of blue and blush signed with messy dark curlicues. Fragments of face, a myriad of expressions, emotions, realizations. He sees the secrets hidden in his eyes, and remembers when they were important.
On top of the scattered scenes he lays out a new series. Sequential.
A boy standing alone in the company of three strangers, desperately hoping that his terror comes across as excitement and pride.
The make up trailer, first day of shooting. First painfully early morning. First carefully glued and blended feet to be applied and never seen on camera, but that made him feel like a hobbit, no matter. Black fronds of hair falling into eyes that look up at the photographer warily. He remembers those first few months, never sure when he was being made fun of, trying to pretend he was laughing with, when really he felt laughed at. Cursing the same naivet� and eagerness that endeared him to his fellow hobbits.
Another photograph. Two weeks later. Same trailer, same angle, new soundtrack. Elijah smirks into his own coffee as Dom spits out a mouthful flavoured with clove cigarette ash. "Well you moved my ashtray!" "What's wrong with your own bloody drink?" "Nothing. S'why I used yours!"
It's happened. The subtle click between them that PJ somehow glimpsed through posed portrait photographs and screentests. The next few pictures are taken in the first flush of camaraderie, conspiratorial glances before a particularly well planned prank and helpless giggles after, smiling and sandy skinned and proudly clutching surfboards, or brothers in arms, holding each other up following a night teaching Elijah all the delights of being of legal drinking age.
The wide eyed, incredulous excitement of the first premiere. Elijah knows without looking how much it contrasts with the weariness of the second and the rollercoaster of elation and deflation, loss and gain that the promotional tour just finished has been. He always feels sick on rollercoasters.
But it's the more personal pictures he lingers over, and smiles. Sidelong glances that he thought no one caught. Hugs that lingered a moment too long. Want. Hope. Frustration. It took more than a year before he accepted that the man he had fallen in love with over the course of filming was not a mindreader. Older, yes, albeit sometimes lacking in the maturity to prove the fact; smart, with an easy, natural humour and an accent that Elijah liked to think of as exotic, though Dom would have laughed at the term. Dom was many things, but he did not possess the talent to pick up on Elijah's wishful thoughts by osmosis.
And Elijah can easily pick out the photos taken after he had begun his careful seduction. Conversations with Dominic began to be punctuated with casual touches, turns of phrase that were suggestive, yet not so much that the intent couldn't be denied, were he ever called on it. In these pictures, he always looks calculating, wondering just how close he can stand without being too obvious.
Dom, mostly, just looks confused.
It was alcohol that finally forced Elijah's hand, a little over six months ago, now, during pick ups for the last film. For the most part, the night is a blur of music and faces and chainsmoked cloves, but he remembers the kiss very well. Sort of messy, not quite on target, and nothing like his intricately constructed fairytale. He remembers the choked sob, the dash for the exit, and vomiting into the gutter. The tearful confessions, huddled in the driver's seat of his car with the key half turned in the ignition, and he remembers Dom's face. Dom's question.
"Why did you never tell me?"
Things after that seemed to happen so quickly, and there wasn't always time for photographs to record events that were only momentous in Elijah's mind. And soon every day wasn't a wonder anymore, and he didn't want to punch the air with his fist to celebrate every kiss. It was normal, and natural, and as comfortable as a tattered old comforter.
Rings was over, and they had found a place, together.
Elijah sets down the last photograph, a polaroid taken yesterday at the doors to the apartment building after unloading the last of the furniture, and stands up. With a finger, he gently traces the curve of Dom's arm round his waist, then looks back down the hall to the bedroom.
The room is warmer now, and the pipes have stopped protesting, as Elijah crawls back onto the bed, stretching out next to the slumbering lump beneath the blankets. He trails his fingers through dirty blonde tufts half hidden by the duvet. "Dom? Wake up. It's just beginning."