by Calico


This was cool, Orlando thought, smiling to himself. Elijah was a sweetheart, letting himself get forced into a wetsuit despite the over-fierce water and not even flinching when Dom cartwheeled over, scrabbling at the air.

"Yeah, no, that's just how he swims, I bet," he said doggedly, and then, "see, he's fine now," when Dom washed up wheezing on the beach.

"He loves it," Orlando said cheerfully, sliding an arm round Elijah's shoulders and steering him towards the surfboards. It was far too hot to keep back from the sea any longer. "See, he's even breathing and everything."

Elijah laughed apprehensively, and Dom waved for a full two seconds before his palm thumped back against the sand. "I'm good, guys," Dom called weakly, voice sounding so salt-cracked that Orlando almost winced himself, "don't worry about me, or anything..."

"Attention-seeker," Orlando called back, squeezing Elijah's shoulder as he picked them each out a board. "Honestly, he's like this every time," he said casually, "always doing that, the half-drowning thing, always at it. Annoys me, actually. Wish we'd left him at home."

Elijah faltered, and he slid a glance sideways at Orlando. Orlando maintained his irritated innocence for as long as he could, thumbing the edge of one board before turning his attention to another, then felt his determinedly calm mouth tremble into a grin. Damnit. And now he was giggling. Damnit.

"You... shut up," Elijah yelped, shoving at him, "I knew, I knew," and Orlando curved against the punches, feeling Elijah's knuckles skid off his wetsuited chest. He caught Elijah's hands in his own, lent down, gave Elijah a smack of a kiss on the cheek.

"C'mon, hoblette," he grinned, "pick a board, any board. No more distraction techniques."

Elijah yelped a little more, and Orlando let him go to properly enjoy the hand-waving. This was-- he was having fun. Definitely. Hot sun, cool spray of the sea, lots of playful boys; all good. It'd almost totally taken his mind off watching the Men stretched out in the sun like some sort of indolent offering to a lucky, lucky sand deity. Very cool.

Skidding along the brow of a wave, feeling the sickening sweet lilt tremble into a hard, fast rush, Orlando made the mistake of looking towards the shore.

Mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake, he chanted, adding, "mistake," with the last snatch of his last breath as the sky tumbled by inexorably and his surfboard zipped out of control. Mouthful of cold soft wet salt; feet kicking uselessly at a thick nothing; sting of sea water along the slits of his eyes: check. Lost to the waves again.

It was hardly his fault, though, was it. Under the circumstances. After all, yes.

Viggo had been watching him.

Or even, he thought dryly, as he kicked to the surface and spat and gasped,Viggo had chosen that moment to not look like he wasn't watching him.

Orlando climbed arm-over-arm up to the peak of the closest wave, letting his body curve to catch it beneath him, and risked another glance at the shore. Viggo was-- not watching him. Damn.

Sean Bean wasn't watching him either, but Orlando didn't have a vested interest in Sean's attention, so. Also, Sean didn't have the poise of Viggo, who was lying on the sand on a big blue towel, hands crossed behind his head, thighs listing apart in a way that made Orlando's mouth ache. It almost looked deliberately provocative, his blind adoration of the sun-drenched sky.

When Orlando reached the shore, he wriggled up the warm wet sand a little, then lay there, panting gently, waiting for the oxygen to flow properly around his body again. His board sat silent next to him, askew to the waves and only mildly reproachful.

"Wow," Elijah said, washing up next to him, clinging to the sand like it was long-lost, "this is. cool, yet incredibly not at the same time." He coughed weakly. "I don't think I've swallowed so much since... um. Some time I swallowed a lot."

"Last time you blew me," Dom yelled, dropping down next to them in time to avoid Elijah swiping at his ankle, and Orlando laughed, splashing them both, squinting to defend against retaliation.

"Everyone's picking on me today," Elijah complained, splashing fiercely at Dom with mistaken vigour, and Orlando tried to concentrate on a low-grade squabble instead of. like. other things.

He had the stupidest desire to go ask Viggo if he'd been watching him.

"You're just so cute, all indignant," Dom was murmuring, "just be glad we're not putting sand down your wetsuit." He paused beautifully, scrunching his nose at the sun, then shot Elijah a sly flash of eyebrow. "Yet."

Orlando obligingly mimed helping to thrust handfuls of sand under Elijah's neckline, and he could just see it, yeah, wonderful, asking Viggo directly. Go over to him and stand so his shadow fell across that tawny face, drip onto his towel, accidentally kick sand into his suncream - and all to protest that Viggo had looked at him wrong. Go confess that the jolt of seeing him half-naked at a distance of fifty metres was enough to make Orlando lose his footing. Great idea.

Of course, right now Sean was in a position to appreciate that slow-burning sleekness up close, could probably feel the heat expanding from Viggo's body and rolling across his own, was right there if Viggo decided he needed more suncream on his shoulderblades, his ankles, at the base of his spine.

Orlando spent the next ten minutes surfing with obnoxious skill, as his teeth gradually fused together with images of Sean's fingers tight in Viggo's hair as Viggo sucked Sean off with cheek-hollowed enthusiasm. In his head, the men had evolved from Viggo groaning as Sean rubbed cool cream into his aching shoulders to Viggo flipping over languidly and pinning Sean's hips down with his palms.

"I'm guessing you don't need any more on your back," Viggo purred, and Sean tipped his head back against the huge warm towel and said,


And then Viggo nuzzled the waistband of his swimshorts down, and said, "I could repay you in... other ways," and Sean groaned softly, obvious approval.

In his head, the men had a distinctly pornolicious quality, all tawdry and cheap.

Orlando actually felt a low distressed yowl collect at the back of his throat as he admitted that in real life, their dialogue would be classy as hell.

"Do you think Sean Bean's straight?" he asked, eventually, in another hold-the-sand-and-thank-God-for-your-life pitstop, and Elijah laughed gratifyingly long.

"can you," he gasped, "imagine," wet at the corners of his eyes, gripping Orlando's elbow for balance, "him, coming out?" He laughed some more, then eventually wiped a palm over his face. "Yeah, he's straight," he said, in his normal voice, then sniggered again. "Hi, I like boys," he suggested, in a ludicrous Sheffield accent. Orlando hit him, grinning, then squinted up as a shadow fell over them in a short dash of cool.

"Hey," Orlando smiled. "Come on down, the water's... shallow."

Dom dropped to his knees, creating little flat humps of white, parched-looking sand. "What's up?"

"Hi, Dom," Elijah said brightly, still in Sean's voice. "You fancy getting off with me?"

Dom's eyes went huge. "Er," he said, raising one finger like he'd just remembered something back at the car, "you... hey," he accused, in a totally different tone of voice, when Elijah almost fell down with laughing. "It's not that funny you'd proposition me. Bastard."

"It'd be... that.. funny," Elijah hiccupped, "if Sean Bean propositioned you--"

Dom's hand glued itself to his mouth. "He's not-- is he?" he demanded, grinning through his fingers.

Elijah almost fell down again.

Orlando thought he might actually die if he didn't ingest something soon.

"My stomach's growling something chronic," Dom was muttering, next to him, as they peeled their wetsuits down into slippery rubber folds around their hips, waiting for the Men to get back with the food.

"Yeah," Orlando said, reaching for the suncream. He tanned more than burned, but it was getting on for two in the afternoon, and the sun was not to be reckoned with. He felt like he was being slowly, deliciously sautéed. If it hadn't been for the snarling hollow ache in his stomach, creeping low into his gut and high up his chest, he'd have been in paradise.

As much of a paradise as he could be without his choice of human company, naturally. Went without saying.

He actually felt weak with the hunger, though, having to actually concentrate to knead lotion into his arms, using both hands to do his stomach. Christ. This was what he got for insisting he had to catch that one last wave. It'd been beautiful - a swell of mint turkish delight growing huge huge huge and then igniting into a perfect spew of foam - but it had taken him significantly down the beach, and he'd spent his last pocket of energy in sprinting back up to the towels to place an order for stuffed-crust pizza with lots of ham and pineapple and sweetcorn, please.

Sean Bean had laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good to see a bloke working proper for 'is food," he'd said, laying the accent on thick.

So straight.

Orlando had caught Viggo giving him a quick once-over, so subtle it was almost platonic. The odd, unnamed intensity in Viggo's eyes made Orlando forget his hunger, just for a second. Less than... straight, um. Captivating.

The moment Viggo and Sean had headed off in search of the fast food hut, Orlando's hunger had rocketed back. They'd been gone ages, now.

"Anyone want a drink?" Elijah asked, and Dom groaned.

"Not helping, unless you've got a liquidised chip butties in there."

Yuck, Orlando thought. "If my pizza's not been freshly caught and skinned, there's gonna be trouble," Orlando said, crossing his legs squeakily, trying to concentrate on rubbing sun lotion into his elbow. The heat on the back of his neck was like molten rock, dense and aggressive all over his skin."I kid you not. They've had time to raise one from birth, by now."

"Getting some freaky images there," Dom said, lying down next to him and reaching across the towel to tug on the waistband of Elijah's wetsuit. "Waterpleasenow."

"Still or sparkling or," Elijah said, and leaned in slightly, confidentially, then projected, "I wouldn't have thought Sean Bean's your taste," across the beach.

Orlando choked on his own preventative shout.

"He's-- oh, hey, Sean," Dom said, falling to staging with such perfection that Orlando just knew they'd planned this step by step.

"What's this?" Sean said, hunkering down between Dom and Elijah, and Orlando closed his eyes in mute embarrassment. Shit. Not only was he up against pros, he could also feel Viggo looking at him.

"Oh, um," Elijah said, perfect artifice, "nothing?"

Sean looked between the two of them, then shrugged. The curiosity, Orlando noticed, wasn't huge in his eyes. Neither was sarcasm, or surprise, or any of the other things Orlando might've expected. Ah-ha, hobbit boys. Foiled by the deaf guy. "Okay, who's jacket potato with beans and cheese?" Sean said, attention thoroughly turned to the bag between his thighs. "The smell's been tormenting me since right back there."

"I'm pizza," Orlando said quickly. If the subject was being dropped, man, he was so up for moving on.

Sean barked laughter. "The ham-pineapple-sweetcorn monstrosity that had us waiting so long at the counter," he grumbled, winking as he handed it over. "I'm well-acquainted with this one by now."

The cardboard was beautifully fragrant, but nothing beat the cloud of steam that rose from his lunch as he eased the lid open. Orlando groaned softly, tearing the first piece free with fingertips that stung with the piping heat of it, guiding it breathlessly to his mouth.

"Fuck," Sean said, somewhere in the background to the symphony resounding through Orlando's head as he chewed, chewed, swallowed, his teeth crushing the crisply greasy base and sliding in the slick scalding cheese. This was so good. The ham tasted roasted, or something. Orlando wondered if he'd wind up marrying a pizzaboy, 'cause right now he was up for it in a big way. "I forgot the ketchup."

"Don't need ketchup," Elijah mumbled, digging in to his potato. "Ow. Ow. Burnt mah tun' aga'."

Sean exchanged a look with Dom, pity and contempt all over their faces. "Course you need ketchup," Dom said, as Sean took a huge bite out of his chip butty and then jumped to his feet.

"Drink some water for that tongue of yours," Viggo said, his voice cutting through Orlando's pizza-paradise glaze, and Elijah smiled gratefully and rummaged through the beach bag again.

"Dunno what your boyfriend's on about," he said, and that also cut into Orlando's happy place.

"Whaddya mean - he makes perfect sense," he protested, and was about to add, "water's the best thing if we don't have milk," when he clocked that actually, no, Elijah was talking about his boyfriend Sean. Fucker. "Ketchup's essential," he managed, groping for the words. "Like. Essential."

Elijah smirked at him, across the rim of his plastic beach-proof beaker. "Mm-hm."

"And he's not my boyfriend," Orlando said.

"Not yet," Dom said helpfully.

Orlando took another bite of pizza before he could say something stupid like, "There's only one guy I'm after, and he's sure as hell from further North than Sheffield."

"I didn't realise you were actively looking for-- someone," Viggo said delicately, dry enough that Orlando wasn't sure if he was serious or just playing along. He had the strongest suspicion that was exactly what Viggo wanted.

"I'm not actively doing anything," Orlando said, and wished the sun and surf hadn't baked all the wittiness out his head. He moved on to his second slice of pizza. The ache in his stomach had softened into a low-grade suggestion that he'd like to keep eating, please. It still tasted like deep-fried manna.

"So why were you asking about him earlier then, baby?" Elijah piped up, and when Orlando jerked his head up, waved his plastic fork around as he shrugged. "Just asking," he said, absolutely totally guile.

"I wanted to know if I had competition," Orlando almost said. No. Nonono. Bad idea. More pizza. Much better idea. Yes.

"Hmm?" Dom said, saucily, reaching for the water.

"Ugh," Orlando said, swallowing. Not going to get out of this, apparently. And Viggo-- Viggo was watching him squirm. If it hadn't been so inconvenient right now, that'd be a turn-on like nothing else. "His... accent's dead sexy," he settled for, then wrinkled his nose. "It's nothing, though."

"Too old?" Elijah said, and Orlando almost winced. You absolute dick, he thought. He looked at Viggo instead, who was watching the exchange with a quiet interest that only seemed a tiny bit gritty around the edges. "No," Orlando said softly. "No, that's not it."

Viggo looked steadily back at him long enough for the edges of Orlando's vision to go fuzzy with that whole none-of-the-rest-of-the-world-exists thing - partially, it was true, because he didn't dare breathe right now - and then Elijah was chirping, "aw, but he is really - you should choose me," finishing on a long, cheery whine, and Viggo looked elsewhere.

Orlando was reeling a little. "I don't want you," he shot back, then thought belatedly that if Elijah was in the process of inexpertly cruising him then he might've just crushed him down. Elijah's eyes went indignantly wide. Orlando decided that if he'd crushed anything, it was Elijah's spirit of fair play.

"That's so cruel," Elijah mourned, and Dom chuckled, reaching for a forkful of Elijah's potato, heaping it high with bright orange shredded cheese.

"It is a bit harsh," Dom said. Red Leicester, Orlando thought faintly. The cheese. He was still kind of overwhelmed. Viggo had looked at him. And he was a twelve-year-old girl, don't forget that. "I mean," Dom added, "look at him? How can you not want to jump his bones?"

"You're just saying that because you want my lunch," Elijah accused, but he was preening anyway.

"Yup," Dom said happily, handing back Elijah's fork. "Mmmm."

"Shotgun," Dom yelled, then spent about three minutes scuffling intently with Elijah for the privilege. Orlando groaned, climbing into the back of the minivan through the back doors rather than squabble over the front three rows, obscenely grateful for the shade. He had a crescent of sunburn round the nape of his neck, and it was glowing gentle pain where the hem of his tee-shirt chafed. This journey was going to be hell.

Orlando closed his eyes, leaning gingerly back against his seat. From the sounds of the scuffle outside, Elijah had won. That meant Elijah had control of the radio, then. For the whole drive home. Dom would sit on the row of seats behind him and poke Elijah in the back of the neck in hope of eliciting a channel change. Orlando would be too far away to do anything.

Dear god.

"No, it's all right," Orlando heard Viggo say quietly, and blinked. What? What? Viggo-- what?

Jesus, he thought, a moment later. He was so pathetic.

"I dunno how much sleep I'll get with these two reigning ruin, but four seats are always better than three, and it's a bit tight back there," Sean was saying, and then Viggo was chuckling softly and Orlando's stomach was cramping in mute lust, and then a hand was edging round the seat in front of Orlando and cracking it forward, and, oh.


"hullo," Orlando said, feeling like a kid hiding in a cupboard who'd just been hide-and-seeked.

Viggo blinked at him, then smiled. "Hullo." It wasn't conscious mimicry, Orlando thought, but actually, even if it was, he didn't care. Seemed Viggo was going to join him in the back row, low ceiling and narrow seating and all. The whole journey thing suddenly looked like a wet dream come true.

So pathetic, he thought distractedly, but he was still looking up and - oh, heh. And from this angle, he knew exactly what any hot-blooded queer in Viggo's position would be thinking. "Come to join me?" he said politely, more so Viggo would focus on his mouth than from any actual desire to speak.

"Sean's tired," Viggo said. His gaze flicked over Orlando's lips, then back. Yessss, precious. We trapses him. "So if it's not imposing--"

Orlando patted the seat next to him, mentally clapping himself on the back for the foresight of having already fastened his seatbelt. The line of the row of seats in front meant Viggo would have to climb carefully, directly across him.

Dear mini-van designer,

I want to have your babies,


"He can't stretch out properly on just three seats," Viggo added, apparently forgetting that Orlando might have overhead Sean already. Orlando smiled. He liked Viggo looking down at him like this, mm, yes. "He's going to risk the hobbits' music in exchange for not getting a crick in the neck."

Orlando grinned, like Viggo wasn't telling him something he'd already worked out.

"He's going to--"

"He's not going anywhere if you don't shift over," Sean's voice rumbled, out of Orlando's view, and something clicked in Orlando's brain and oh, oh, so Viggo was delaying the Intimate Clamber of Joy, was he? The idea that Viggo was as sensitive to this situation as he was gave him pleasant shivers all through his sunburn.

"Sorry," Viggo murmured, glancing over his shoulder, then flashed Orlando a quick wry grin and started-- clambering, Orlando thought blissfully, as his space was smoothly invaded by long, shifting Mortensen limbs. "Sorry," Viggo said again, and this time it was only for Orlando's ears.

"No problem," Orlando said happily. The seat in front of him clicked back into position, and they were practically alone, trapped in a cave of cheap navy velour. That running theme of paradise was back again. "I mean," Orlando added, twanging his seatbelt, "if I wasn't so lazy I didn't wanna shift up a seat--" He smiled brightly. "But I am."

Viggo looked a lot more nocturnal in the gloom of their cave. "I suppose you deserve a little laziness at this stage," he said, and Orlando concentrated on not watching Viggo's mouth move.

Mouthmouthmouth, he thought, and then: at this stage. "Whaddya mean?" he asked, allowing himself a little playfulness. The engine rumbled loudly, then Orlando felt the clutch engage and the tiny segment of window he could see past the headrest of the seat in front blurred into movement. They were off.

"Earlier," Viggo said, shifting, and Orlando's mood dimmed slightly as he realised Viggo was buckling himself into the third seat along, leaving a - whole acre - cushion of carseat firmly between them. "You surfed rings round the others."

Rings, Orlando thought instantly, because his brain was keyed into picking up certain words this year. "You're a long way away," he heard himself say instead, to his horror, and Viggo blinked, and then Elijah's music crashed on, and Orlando gratefully set to yelling for them to turn it down a bit.

"Boring cunts," Elijah hollered back, and Orlando could hear Dom laughing merrily away two rows infront. He felt a quick flash of pity for their driver.

"Sean's sleeping," Orlando called, as loud as he could, and then Sean was laughing as well, interrupting,

"Sean's not sleeping no more, he's not!"

"He is," Orlando yelled, enjoying himself now, craning forwards in his seat and not at all aware of how his jeans rode very low indeed if he sat like this, oh no. "Wait, now he's not. See what you did!"

There was noise of another scuffle, Dom beating the back of Elijah's seat with both fists. By craning higher - Look at my ass, Viggo. Go on. Look at that curve - Orlando could just see Elijah's hands reaching back and snatching blindly at Dom's wrists. The music soared smashily around him, vibrations zipping from the seat up the back of his knees.

"Okay, o-kay," Elijah cried, eventually, and Orlando stretched his neck up an unholy amount and saw that Dom's fingers were knotted about Elijah's red-looking hand. "Mercy--"

"Music," Orlando heard Dom insist, and then the volume was plummeting, and Dom's voice sounded unnaturally loud as it continued, "you inconsiderate fuck-- oh, heh heh."

"No need to shout," Elijah admonished mildly, and Orlando could practially hear his slap-worthy grin.

"Thaaaaank-you," Sean drawled, dry as sand. Hobbitish giggles floated back to Orlando, and he sat down slowly, minding his sunburn again.

"Heh," he said.

"Can I have it just a touch up?" Elijah asked, like butter wouldn't melt, and proceeded to do so, not too much, until Orlando's thigh could detect a tiny vibration where it was pressed against the speaker part of the wall.

"Yeah, I can cope," Sean called, and there was a chorus of yays from up front.

"You've recovered nicely, I see," Viggo said, too quiet for the others to hear given the rest of the noise, and this was just laughable, the way his voice seemed to tug warm grit into the base of Orlando's stomach, tug it and then stir it, slowly, one circle after an other. Suddenly, music issues seemed ludicrously far away.

Orlando hated himself for smiling shy. "What do you mean?"

Please, let him be talking about that orange, about the way he'd walked off, so impossibly too-swift. Please let him have noticed Orlando couldn't be around him without toppling from delight to despair and back again. Please let him talk low intimacies in their secluded little car-cave. Just the idea of it made fizz sweep over his body. Just - filled him right up with champagne.

He watched a smile slip onto Viggo's mouth. "You took a pretty bad tumble out there," Viggo said softly, "before lunch," and all the champagne bubbles went small and hard and still. O-kay. Never mind, then.

"I, yeah," Orlando said, then caught himself feeling surly, forced an indignant laugh, "no, I mean, no! That was nothing. Dom had a much worse time of it. I'm telling you." He could feel his voice revving up, and tried to cut it off. "Dom practically made a home on the bottom tonight," he heard himself add.

Viggo's eyebrows rose a fraction. "Did he?" he said. "I didn't see."

Orlando laughed again. Less forced, because okay, so although Viggo hadn't run exactly the right sort of thoughts through his head, at least his eyes were warm. "I dunno how you could've missed it," he said, "I mean, he was in there right often. He was like one of those ducks, keep shoving their heads in."

The warmth in Viggo's eyes crept smoothly to his mouth. "Poor Dom," he murmured. "I wish I'd seen. Sounds like entertainment."

"He's got style, that's for sure." "I have to say," Viggo said suggestively, and Orlando felt like leaning in, Viggo's voice was that intimate, "you didn't actually look all that stylish when you went crashing into the waves."

Again, there was a brief sizzle-sinking moment of disappointment that Viggo didn't use that intimate voice to tell Orlando there was a place saved for him in his bed - and then Orlando was laughing a protest, "oi, you shut up," and jostling Viggo's shoulder with the flat of his fist, and Viggo was flashing him a deep grin and leaning languidly back in his seat.

"Maybe it was stylish up close, elfboy," he said, shrugging gracefully, "but from where I was sitting--"

"You had sunstroke," Orlando declared, oddly delighted, "believe me, from where I was sitting I fell like a total pro."


"Disembarked," Orlando corrected quickly, and then something fundamental in their conversation clicked into place for him, and the odd delight made sense, and he fought to keep the incredulous joy of it from hijacking his face and making him look like a crazy guy.

Viggo had been watching him.

Sean woke up, after a while, and led the hobbits in a rousing set of choruses from something called The Singing Kettle. Orlando remembered it faintly from his childhood, from long drives over what then seemed like mountains - She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes, yeeha! - but he didn't much feel like singing.

Much nicer to sit back with Viggo, sharing amused looks whenever the hobbits fumbled the tune. Much, much nicer. Mmm.

"I remember this from when I was a kid," Orlando confessed, when Sean launched into a riotus rendition of Peas-Pudding-Hot. "My mum used to use it to shut us up."

Viggo's eyebrows raised delicately. "Well, feel free to join in..."

Orlando laughed. "No thanks." He scratched his nose, then winced as Elijah soared far higher than any whole man ought. "I can't remember much of it. Are we sure his balls have dropped?"

"It wasn't that long ago, surely," Viggo said smoothly, "but I suppose, with your memory," then flashed his teeth. "And I'll leave it up to you to check out the boy's masculinity."

Orlando laughed. "Again: no thanks," he said, then caught up with Viggo's soft words and tried not to bristle. "Oi," he growled. "My memory's great, so you can stop your insinuations. The Singing Kettle was a long time ago."

Viggo gave him a look of faint, amused outrage. "Your memory--"

"I knew all my lines before anyone else," Orlando interrupted, "so shut up," smugly, folding his arms and leaning back. A-ha.

"A whole fifteen lines."

"Fifteen lines in a nifty accent," Orlando protested, grinning, and Viggo slitted another look at him, this one making Orlando's fingers tense. Felt like heat was swirling round their ankles, ready to surge up and envelop them. He wanted to kiss him so bad. So-- bad.

"Oh, you and accents," Viggo said, and Orlando's fingers were right. This was moving into a sexier dimension.

"Mm." He met Viggo's eye, felt a flicker of wolf in his stomach. He wanted to pounce. "What about them?"

"You like them," Viggo said, and Orlando didn't know if the dangerous lilt in his voice was intentional but damnit it sounded good, and Viggo even tilted up the end of the word, making it a question, a low delicious question that would sound good enough in Orlando's shower to tip him over the edge.

"I," Orlando said, then felt the wolf spring in his throat. "In a word? Yes. Keep talking."

Ohshit. Ohshitohshit.

Viggo's eyebrows went up, and he wetted his lips - surprised rather than aroused, Orlando decided, panicking. Ohshit.

"I actually," Viggo said, then cut off. He drew his lower lip into his mouth, biting down so Orlando could see the white edges of his teeth, then sat back. "Maybe we should take a leaf out Sean's book."

"Tired?" Orlando said, hope curling back into the pit of his stomach to wait for another day.

Viggo nodded quickly, leaning back in his far far far-away seat, and apparently went instantly, unwakably, to sleep.

Orlando's sunburn stung like the threat in his eyes.

"Pit stop," Elijah yelled, and Orlando realised the mini-van had drawn to a stop. The tiny bit of window he could see framed mostly sky, and a bit of tree, and then the seat was crunching forwards in front of him and light spilt in. "Thwap," Elijah yelled, leaning through the gap and hitting Orlando round the head.

Orlando yelped. "Hey."

"Pit stop," Elijah shrugged, then dashed off, and Orlando struggled out his seat belt and chased after him.

When he came back, Sean was installed in his seat - his seat! - talking quietly to Viggo about something that Orlando, sulking stretched out along the four seats in front, finally deciphered to be divorce law.


Also, exclusive.

Also, he'd blown it with Viggo again, which made it twice inside a week. A new record, bay-bee.

He sulked some more.

The next morning, he woke up in anger. Fucking door and its fucking knocker and the fucking bell and the fucking cunting individual who was using aforesaid knocker and bell upon door to such utterly diabolic result--

"Yes?" he snarled, dragging on a tee-shirt and striding across the room. "We elves are pretty damn protective of our beauty sleep--"

He had a moment's glorious vision of it being Viggo, come to confess pre-dawn lust, and then the door opened and a hapless porter found himself in face of Full Elven Wrath, and Orlando's bad mood spiralled tighter.


"Sorry, um," the guy said, and held out a bulky envelope as if to redirect the Wrath onto something less - well, less himself, really. Orlando almost found it amusing, but not quite. His eyes stung with the early morning of it. "Package."

"At - what is it? - five am?"

"The man said I had to leave it where you'd find it," the guy said, apology rising off him like steam off shit. And just as welcome, Orlando thought acidly, and then his brain clicked in. Man? Viggo?

"What man?"

"But I can't leave it in the corridor," the guy continued, looking around helplessly, "like, insurance, we're not covered."

"What man?

"Uh," the guy said, pushing a pen so it collided with Orlando's fingers, "a man-- You need to sign." He presented a card hopefully.

Orlando signed.

It was almost painful to have to wait for another two hours before he could go down to the breakfast canteen. It opened at 6:45am, but none of the actors turned up for another half hour or so.

Still, it gave him time to listen his new cassette all the way through.


Viggo was queueing for breakfast with unnatural concentration when Orlando came down. Orlando watched him stroke the side of his arm with his other hand, up and down, up and down, repetitive and far too rhythmic to be thoughtless. He was studying the menu with undue interest. He was holding his head too upright, even for him.

Orlando filed into line behind him as silently as possible, and Viggo didn't seem to notice. The fingers kept moving on his arm, thoughtful, restless. Orlando wanted to kiss him.

"Thankyou," he said instead, softly, watching the curve of Viggo's jaw. The fingers froze. Orlando, exhaustion-crazed and buoyed with a sweetly sleek joy, swayed forwards and rested his chin on Viggo's shoulder. His arms wrapped naturally around Viggo's waist, holding him chaste but close, close enough to feel him exhale.

"I thought you might like it." Viggo's voice sounded even better close up, the clean roughness of his jaw turning to brush Orlando's cheekbone. Orlando tightened his arms, nodding, feeling the shift of muscle in Viggo's shoulder at the brief dig of his chin.

"I like it."

Keeping talking, had been penned carefully across the label on the cassette. The track list had been a load of songs Orlando didn't recognise: Recuerdo, for example, and Cursive, and Lunch.

"I-- I don't mind if you don't like it," Viggo said, after a moment, uncertain shades pouring through his voice. "I won't be offended. It's not, um. Not everyone likes poetry."

"I listened to it twice so far," Orlando breathed, and dared tilt his head, press his lips against the side of Viggo's throat. "Thankyou," he repeated, letting his mouth buzz against the skin. He wasn't imagining it when Viggo exhaled slow and cracked, he was pretty sure.

"Fried breakfast?" the woman at the canteen asked suddenly, and Viggo twisted free of Orlando's arms and cleared his throat.

"Y-- no, thankyou," Viggo said, and his voice still sounded rough, like - like line four of the second poem on the cassette, Orlando thought, shivering, tempted to close his eyes and indulge. He had an hour of Viggo's voice flowing around words like water past rocks in a river; his mind was full of it, the devastatingly soft gravel of his voice, the raw dry meat of it precise in his mind.

"Yes," he said to the woman, mouth still heady with touching Viggo's throat. "Fried breakfast."

This, also, was a cool day.

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