|Bizarre Love Triangle
Orlando was not Elijah's first crush on a man. That distinction had gone to Mel Gibson when Elijah was eleven years old and working with him on Forever Young. Mel was followed by several other boys, from Macaulay Culkin and Tobey Maguire to Josh Hartnett, who was the first boy Elijah had ever managed to kiss. None of them, though, had amounted to anything more than the lazy internal flutters of a moderate, harmless crush.
Leaning against a tree watching Orlando Bloom as Legolas whirl and fly through a take, Elijah felt as if a hurricane had erupted inside him. It was more than a passing infatuation, he thought, because it had happened so quickly and forcefully. He'd grown up in Hollywood so all romantic ideas of 'love at first sight' had never really crossed his mind, though he wondered if perhaps this would require him to reconsider. The cast meeting where they'd exchanged their first hello, their first smiles and first handshake had left him slightly giddy, glancing at Orlando from across the room as often as he dared. He liked to look at him, though not too closely or for too long for fear of being caught.
On the seventeenth day of production Elijah decided he was secretly in love with Orlando Bloom.
There were other ways he knew he was in love. He knew because he liked to watch Orlando just after he finished filming a scene, when he shed Legolas and became himself again, but there were always echoes of the elf left behind that Orlando was rarely ever rid of: a twitch at the corner of his lips, something around the eyes, the lightness in his step. He knew because he had memorized those things and wanted to feel them under his hands, and he wondered if he ever kissed him, would it taste like Orlando or Legolas, or would it be something else entirely?
It was seventeen days into filming, and Dominic followed Orlando to a table where Elijah, Viggo, Billy and Ian McKellen were already seated and well into their lunches. Elijah was going on about America, which meant he was homesick, so Dominic made a pointed effort to pay attention to what he was saying while sneaking as many glances at Orlando as he could manage without being seen. The thing was that he was secretly in love with Orlando.
It just wouldn't do if anyone were to ever find out.
By the time Legolas reached them Boromir had already died, and Aragorn was bent forward with sorrow. As he placed a kiss of honor and respect Legolas looked on, and his face became wrenched with curiosity as he tried to comprehend the complexity of human death. His expression then softened to something more akin with a child-like sadness over something he was simply not meant to understand, and never would.
Off-camera and from opposite sides of the scene, Dominic and Elijah watched with halted breath until Peter called the scene to an end. Unknowingly they exhaled together, and leaned against their respective trees. They both watched as Peter jogged forward to praise his actors, slapping them on the back and sending them off to be tended and watered. Viggo walked up to Orlando and slung an arm around his shoulder, and it was at that moment that Dominic thought to look away. His gaze fell on Elijah, whose eyes were still trained on Orlando.
Hey, now, he thought. He glanced away and found Orlando again, and wondered about what he'd just seen.
At that moment Elijah looked up, having felt the shaky sensation of eyes on him. He missed Dom's glance by seconds and found him looking instead at Orlando. He turned away quickly, frowned, and looked back.
This time their eyes met, and suddenly both knew they weren't so secretly in love with Orlando, anymore.
"You know," he said, after a long silence at the lunch table where neither Dom nor Elijah took part in the usual stream of conversation. They looked up from their sandwiches. Ian was watching something on the other side of the tent. "He's really not your type."
Elijah and Dom exchanged glances. "Who are you talking to?" Dom asked.
Ian laughed and stood. "That's the fun part!" he exclaimed. "It doesn't matter, does it?" He walked away, still chuckling to himself, leaving behind two highly confused hobbits to look at each and then turn toward whatever Ian had been looking at before. Orlando sat with his feet up on a table, filing at a ragged thumbnail. Neither of them spoke for a very long time.
Finally, Elijah sniffed and looked away. "So," he said. "I didn't know you were, ah, into guys."
Dom nodded. "Yeah," he replied. "Not exclusively, mind, but. Yeah, a bit."
"I figured you were," Dominic went on. "I mean, I thought you might be. Into fellows, I mean."
Elijah raised an eyebrow at him. "Really?" he asked, and for some reason Dominic found himself feeling quite pink around the ears.
"Er, y'know, being from Hollywood, and all," he explained. To his relief, Elijah laughed.
"Yeah," he said, leaning back in his chair.
"You have a vibe," Dominic added.
"A vibe, eh?" Elijah smiled broadly and took a sip of his Coke. "Yeah, I guess I should have a vibe, considering." He told Dominic about Mel Gibson. "My mother to this day says it still freaks her out, sometimes, that she and I talk about boys more than she and my sister do."
They were still giggling when Orlando passed by, and when they looked up he gave a little half-wave. "Hello, boys," he said, softly, before drifting out of the catering tent. Elijah covered his awe by going for his soda again, while Dominic merely inhaled sharply and ducked his head.
"Fuckin' Orlando," he mumbled. Elijah grunted in agreement. "This is fucking madness, y'know?"
"I know," Elijah said, setting his Coke down hard on the table. "I know! It just came out of nowhere. I don't know what to do with myself."
"Me either," Dominic agreed. "I don't know whether to punch his lights out or- Or-"
"Or lick him," Elijah sighed, dropping his chin into his hands.
Dominic rested his forehead against the tabletop and sighed. "We're so fucked," he said, glancing at Elijah. He smiled back, wanly.
"We are," he replied. He got up and took his plate over to the garbage. "It's nice, though, y'know?"
"What is?" Dominic asked, following his.
Elijah gulped down the rest of his soda and tossed the can into the recycling bin before answering. "At least now," he said, draping an arm across Dom's shoulders. "We don't have to suffer alone."
"You know," Elijah said, at one point. He was stretched out on his stomach with a cigarette pinched between his lips. He rolled over and looked up at Dominic, who was perched upwind on a cluster of rocks. "It amazes me that something that beautiful can be alive."
"How so?" Dominic asked.
Elijah shrugged. "It's just, like, when you see something beautiful you expect it to be something like a picture or a painting, y'know? Like something Viggo drew." He waved a hand in Orlando's direction. "Or a sculpture or whatever. But then there's him! And he's just so goddamn pretty."
Dominic nodded and sighed, and watched the shimmer of Legolas' hair. "He probably doesn't even know it," he said, softly. Elijah snorted, incredulously.
"How can he not?" he bleated. "He has to."
"No," Dominic said, shaking his head. "You can tell when someone thinks they're beautiful, and I don't think he does. It's just the way he is, he's..." He paused for a moment, watching Orlando move in what felt like slow-motion. He looked back at Elijah and something popped into his mind. "It's beauty that doesn't know itself," he said.
Elijah became suddenly quiet, and stared at him.
"What?" he asked, tugging at his ear in embarrassment.
"Where'd you hear that?"
"Beauty that doesn't know itself," Elijah repeated. "Did you read that somewhere?"
Dominic shrugged. "No, don't think so."
"Huh." Elijah turned back toward Orlando. "Well, anyway. I guess it makes sense. I just, like." He gnawed at his lower lip. "It amazes me that someone can be that beautiful and not know about it."
Dominic started to reply, to ask if Elijah knew about himself, but the words dropped back into his throat. He didn't know for certain what he had wanted to say, anyway. He closed his mouth, and they returned to watching Orlando in silence.
"It's fucking weird," she said to them both, in Elijah's kitchen on a morning when they had the day off.
"Why is it weird?" Elijah stood at the stove making coffee, adding two and a half sugars to Dominic's, but no cream. He fixed his own and Hannah's and brought them over to the table one by one, sitting down next to Dominic once everyone was served.
Hannah sipped at her cup thoughtfully. "This," she said, nodding at them both. "Would so not happen between girls."
Dominic frowned. "Really?"
"Yeah. Girls are competitive. If two girls had a crush on the same guy, they might be good about it at first but no matter what they did, it would still end up a fucking free-for-all. Everything is a contest with girls. Who does he like more, who gets to him first, yadda yadda yadda." She rolled her eyes and made the face of a woman who knows. "If you were girls you'd have killed each other by now."
Elijah looked at Dom. "Glad we're not chicks, then," he smirked. "Really, it's kind of fun. Just, y'know. To have somebody to talk to about it." He stirred his coffee, enjoying the clink-clink of his spoon against the china until Dom wordlessly reached over and grabbed his hand to still it. "Sorry."
Hannah tipped her head to one side. "What's going to happen if Orlando actually decides he wants one of you?" she asked. "What'll you do then?"
Dom shrugged. "I doubt that's going to happen," he said. "I mean, really."
"It could," Hannah said. "You never know."
Elijah lurched across the table and poked her. "Quit trying to start trouble, you," he said, fondly. Hannah squeaked and batted his hand away, and a sibling slap-fight broke out. The subject was abandoned in favor of an Eastenders marathon on television and the half-bottle of red Elijah had stowed away in the cupboard.
When they saw Hannah off at the airport a few days later, however, she kissed them both on the cheek and left them with a stern warning.
"Whatever happens," she said. "Be friends. Boys come and go but you need to keep being friends." She smiled. "It looks good on you."
Back at Elijah's, Dominic fidgeted restlessly in the kitchen while Elijah sat at the table and watched. "What's wrong?" he asked, after Dom had opened and closed every cupboard door, twice.
"What if Hannah's right?" Dominic asked. He sat down at the table across from Elijah and stared at his hands. "Like, what'll we do if Orlando, y'know..."
Elijah licked at his lips, turning his face toward the window. The sun beat through the curtains and filled his eyes and Dominic could almost see the thoughts behind them, spun fast and shining like Legolas' blades. Beauty that doesn't know itself, he thought, and wondered if maybe he shouldsay something to Elijah about that. He lost his chance and his nerve when Elijah got up and started pacing the kitchen.
"Okay," he said, after a moment. "How about this - we'll make a deal."
"A deal?" Dominic asked.
"Yeah. If one of us winds up doing, uh, whateverwith Orlando, then the other isn't allowed to get mad or jealous. You know, 'may the best man win,' and all that." He crouched by Dominic's chair. "How's that sound?"
Dominic thought about it for a moment. He didn't think he would be jealous if Orlando chose Elijah over him. He liked Elijah enough where he'd be perfectly happy for him, and he figured that if the two of them eventually fell in love it would be the good reason he would need to get himself over Orlando. It was a touch overly-optimistic, he mused, but not out of the question.
"Okay," he smiled. He stuck out his hand and Elijah shook it, grinning. "It's a deal."
"May the best man win."
Then, one morning, he found himself in Makeup with Billy, Dom and Orlando. Billy was half-asleep and unfit for conversation, but Dom and Orlando were deep in some discussion about a book. In his haze of exhaustion and an inexplicable dark mood, Elijah tried listen to what they were saying.
"It's funny," Dom said, wincing as the makeup artist poked very near his eye with a brush. "It's like your parents knew something no one else did, when they named you."
Orlando laughed. "Yeah, but believe me, I hated them for it for a long time. Who wants to go through life named 'Orlando'?"
"Have you read the book?"
"Of course." Orlando leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes so they could attach his wig. "I've had a few teachers who thought it highly amusing to assign it to the entire class as required reading."
Dom made a face. "Ouch."
"Right. Got the shit beat out of me more than a few times over that one, yeah."
Later, Elijah cornered Dominic and asked what it was they'd been talking about.
"Orlando by Virginia Woolf," Dominic explained. "His parents named him after it."
Elijah frowned. "Never read it."
"Oh, it's good." Dom's face lit up the way it always did when he talked about something exciting to him. When they'd first discovered a mutual appreciation of surfing a few weeks back Elijah thought he could go for hours listening to Dom go on about it, just because of the smile it created on his face. "It's about a boy who winds up a woman."
"You're shitting me."
"Am not. It's a great book. Really appropriate for the Beautiful Boy, I think." Dominic winked at Elijah. "I was reading it when he came in, and it never even occurred to me to make the connection until he said something."
"Ah." Elijah nodded. "Well, that's good, then. Progress."
Dominic gave him an odd look. "Sorry?" Elijah shook his head.
"Nothing," he said, quickly. "Maybe I'll borrow the book from you, sometime?"
"Sure," Dominic nodded. They walked to the set in silence. "Hey," Dom said, suddenly. "Can I tell you something strange?"
"When I was talking to Orlando," Dominic said. "I was thinking there was something really odd about him. Something off, y'know?" Elijah shook his head. "I couldn't for the life of me figure it out, but now I think I know what it was."
Elijah frowned. "What was it?"
"His eyes," Dominic replied. "They were brown. I kept thinking they should be blue, but they weren't."
"He wears contacts," Elijah offered, lamely. "For Legolas."
Dominic nodded. "I know, but that's not what I was... Oh, never mind. I think I'm just, like, slipping slowly into insanity or something." He made a silly face that made Elijah grin despite himself. "I don't know what was going on in my head. I just kept thinking, and. I should stop that. It's going to get me into a peck of trouble, someday."
"Thinking is overrated," Elijah agreed. "I have a policy against it."
Dom giggled. "You certainly do," he quipped.
"Fuck off, Dominic," Elijah laughed, and his dark mood vanished completely with the coming of dawn.
"Hobbit," he said, extending a hand and pulling him up out of a crouch. "You alright?"
"Yeah," Elijah lied.
"Liar," Orlando replied, and without a word he drew him into a hug.
Afterwards, Elijah ran to Dominic's trailer and burst inside, startling the book out of his hands. "Jesus," Dom said, retrieving the novel - Orlando, of course - and dog-earing the page he'd been reading before setting it aside. "What's with you?"
Elijah told him. "It was one of those kind of hugs," he said. "Where you're just in there and you don't ever want to come out? And he just. Wouldn't let go, and. I had to kind of push him off me because, uhm... Because-" He flushed suddenly pink, which made Dominic howl.
"You got a stiffy!" he exclaimed. Elijah picked up a throw pillow and flung it at him.
"I did not," he insisted, but even to himself he didn't sound very convincing. "I just - oh, fuck. There's no way he couldn't have, like, known. He was all up on me." Elijah cast himself face-down into the couch and shrieked muffled curses into the cushions, while Dom laughed above him.
"There, there," Dom said, stroking with his fingers the soft fuzz of hair on the back of Elijah's neck. "It happens to all boys eventually."
Elijah lifted his head. "Fuck. You."
"Your body is going through many changes right now, and-"
"Shut up," Elijah yelped, batting Dominic's hand away and punching him in the leg. "Fuck you, fuck you right in your stupid ears-"
Dominic, still grinning, rubbed at the sore spot his leg. "Ah, now that's not nice," he said. He let Elijah sulk for a moment before sliding down onto the couch beside him and looping an arm around his neck. "So, why was Orlando molesting you, young hobbit?"
"Ah." Elijah waved his hand, dismissively. "I was just, y'know. I talked to my mom today, and-"
Dom's grin softened into a sympathetic smile. "Homesick?"
"C'mere." Dom guided Elijah's head down to his shoulder, and with his free hand he picked up his book. "Just sit, for a minute."
"Shut the fuck up, would you?" Dominic said, fondly. "I'm reading."
Elijah stayed quiet as Dominic began to read from the story of Orlando, and thought about how he wasn't homesick, anymore.
"Goin' out later tonight. Want to come along?"
"Brilliant. Meet at seven, then."
And that was how Dominic Monaghan got a date with Orlando Bloom.
"One word," Dominic said, tossing the shirt aside. "Grandmum."
"Ah." Elijah nodded. "Okay, the blue one's nice."
Dominic held it up against his chest. "Y'think?"
"You don't look so pasty-English in blue."
Elijah smiled. "I'm right, though."
He was right, Dominic thought, pulling the jumper on over his head. He studied himself in the mirror on the back of the closet door. "It'll do."
"You look brilliant," Elijah said, coming up behind him and draping his arms over Dominic's shoulders. "He'll be smitten."
"Full of smit."
"Would you fuck off, already?"
Elijah spun him around. "You know I'm fine with this, right?"
"I don't thi-"
"We made a deal."
"It's not a da-"
"Whatever it is," Elijah said, firmly. "We made a deal, so. Do whatever you want, alright?"
Dominic nodded. "Right."
Elijah slapped him on the ass. "Go on," he said. "I won't wait up for you."
Orlando showed up fashionably late at ten minutes after seven, and they took Dominic's car. Elijah explained away his presence by saying he'd come to borrow something, and Orlando seemed to buy it. They made small talk while Dominic hunted around the house for his keys and driver's license.
"G'night, hobbit," Orlando said, as they left. Elijah thought he saw him wink before he closed the door. He stood at the window, watching the car pull out of the drive and speed off down the road toward town. Around him the house creaked and settled in for the night. Elijah took it as a hint.
He sat down on the couch, picked up Dominic's copy of Orlando, and began to wait.
When Bulgaria scored a dodgy goal and ended the game, Orlando scooted his chair so close to Dominic's that he could feel his breath against his cheek when he spoke.
"Y'know I like you, right?"
"Yeah. So, I was thinking maybe you liked me."
"Sure. I mean, yeah. I do."
"Well," Orlando said. "That's good, isn't it?"
Dominic nodded, and bought another round.
He wondered what they were doing, where they were. What were they talking about?
We made a deal, he reminded himself. I'm not going to get jealous of Dom because he's out with Orlando.
And he wasn't jealous of Dominic at all. He knew that much.
So what the hell was wrong with him, then?
He wondered also why he was more scared than excited.
"Bloody hell," Orlando mumbled. "I never remember what fucking key it is." He eventually did get the door open and they stumbled inside, tripping over the welcome mat. Orlando flicked on a light to reveal a slightly-messy yet comfortable sitting room. The television was on, playing the same match they'd been watching at the bar.
"Want a drink?" Orlando asked, shutting the door and throwing his jacket onto a chair. Dominic shrugged.
"Suppose so, yeah."
"I've got wine."
Orlando vanished into the kitchen, leaving Dominic to survey his territory. There were magazines everywhere, half-read newspapers and abandoned cups of coffee on every flat surface. Orlando seemed to live in organized chaos, and Dominic didn't doubt for a second that despite the disarray he knew where everything was and could find it on a moment's notice. He thought of Elijah's flat, where everything was clean and tidy, though not meticulously so. It was comfortable, too.
He looked for signs of Orlando's personality in the house. The paintings on the wall seemed like they'd come with the place, though one of them was definitely a Viggo Mortensen original. The magazines were the typical sort one might buy in passing at a grocery store - In Style, People and even Cosmopolitan. There were few books, and those that were visible were mostly by Tolkien. Research materials.
"Here we are," Orlando said, returning suddenly with two glasses of red wine. He passed one to Dominic and raised his own. "Slainte," he said, and Dominic echoed him.
"Slainte." They drank in silence, then moved to sit on the well-worn sofa. Dominic must have looked as nervous as he felt, because Orlando was watching him with a soft sort of expression, like one would regard a child intimidated by the prospect of learning to walk. He took Dominic's glass from him and set them both down on the coffee table before leaning in close.
"Hey," he said softly, and when Dominic looked up, he kissed him.
They spent a lot of time at Dom's, he reckoned, or his own flat. Almost as much as they did on set. He hung out with everyone in the cast from time to time but Dom was like a magnet he felt drawn back to again and again. It was one thing to be friends with someone but quite another to have someone know you, to be able to fill in the parts of yourself that you didn't understand. He liked that he could come to Dom about anything - an argument with Peter or an embarrassing moment with Orlando - and he would be able to know and help absorb some of the humiliation and frustration before it could bury Elijah completely.
He sat down on the bed and ran his hands over the sheets. Dom was probably at Orlando's flat by now. They might have been talking, laughing at some joke or a story, and maybe they were drinking. Maybe there had already been a kiss exchanged, and Orlando's hands had crept up under Dominic's shirt, the blue one Elijah had said looked so well on him.
Elijah swore, under his breath. He was jealous, he realized, but not of Dominic.
He shut his eyes and lay down on the bed. The tick of the clock on the nightstand felt like a warning, the footsteps of something very big and huge, coming closer but still too far off for him to know what it was.
He would just have to wait and see.
Apparently, he wasn't doing that good of a job of it. Orlando released him for a moment, looking down at him with too-black eyes. "You alright?" he asked.
"Yes," Dominic said. Orlando frowned.
He scooted away and Dominic sat up. He was suddenly cold, and looked around for his shirt. He found it slung over the back of the couch but was afraid to reach for it, in case it looked too much like rejection. He wasn't sure if he was rejecting anything, yet.
They just looked at each other for a moment, Orlando licking at kiss-swollen lips and Dominic shivering but trying not to look like it. Wordlessly, Orlando reached over and handed him his shirt. Dom accepted it, gratefully.
"I just. I can't."
"I know," said Orlando. He put a hand on Dominic's chest, palm flat against his still-spastic heart. "Do you?" he asked.
Dominic looked into brown eyes and thought about blue ones, and at once he knew.
"I do now," he replied.
Dom appeared in the bedroom doorway and flicked on the light, blinding Elijah momentarily. It took Elijah a few moments of sleepy blinking before a disheveled Dominic swam slowly into focus. He frowned.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I was about to ask you that," Dominic replied. Elijah yawned and pointed at Dominic's shirt.
"It's on backwards," he said, and wasn't surprised by the instant flush of maroon in Dom's ears. "Why are you here?"
Dom ducked his head and scratched the back of his neck. "Looking for you," he said. "I went to your place but you weren't there. Why are you still here?"
Elijah shrugged. "I don't know."
"Oh." Dom bit his thumbnail. "Nothing happened," he said, after a minute. "I mean, something, like, happened, but. Nothing. Really happened."
"I'm sorry," Elijah said, in a small voice. "Why not?"
Dominic sat down on the edge of the bed. "I don't. Um. I was thinking, and-"
"You're not supposed to think," Elijah said, smiling without mirth. "See how it gets in the way?"
Dominic chuckled. "Yeah."
"What were you thinking?"
"About beauty," said Dominic. "Remember what I said, about beauty that doesn't know itself and you asked me where I'd gotten that?"
"I don't think I really meant that about Orlando." He reached over and touched Elijah's hand, lightly tracing his knuckles with one finger. "I think I was talking about you."
Elijah didn't reply. He could think of nothing fitting to say.
"And then," Dominic went on, ignoring Elijah's silence. "I was thinking about what you said, about how something beautiful had to be aware of itself. I still think you're wrong, because I decided something."
"What?" Elijah managed to choke out.
"You don't have to know yourself," Dom said, quietly. "Because I do."
Neither of them said anything after that. Elijah still wasn't sure what he should say. He had a feeling that words weren't the right thing for a moment like that, so he moved closer to Dominic and placed his hands on both sides of his face. He hesitated, breathing on Dominic's lips for a moment before shutting his eyes tightly and leaning forward, ghosting his mouth across Dominic's in the barest whisper of a kiss.
"You know?" Dominic asked, breathlessly.
"I know," Elijah replied, and kissed him again.
Orlando grinned and winked back.