She's not quite sure what to think when Elijah becomes her comfort.
She's curled up on her bed, alone in her flat when he comes in. Her eyes are red, and the bedspread is littered with crumpled tissue. She looks so small and alone, that Elijah forgets that she has a tendency to act bratty and holier than thou.
"I. I knocked a couple of times, but. But. The door was unlocked."
Liv looks up and nods. "I know." She shrugs and continues. "I don't really lock it if I'm here and awake. Saves me the trouble of letting Orlando in when he comes to visit. He lives nearby, you know."
Elijah sits beside her on her bed and takes her hand in his own two. "Um. Look. Liv. I know you've been kinda homesick recently, and. If there's anything I can do."
She looks at him, and his blue eyes are so friendly, and he looks a little nervous, and she thinks, "He's a nice kid."
What she says is "You're sweet." and then curls into his side.
That's how it begins.
It continues when he goes over to her flat almost every night after shooting, and they watch movies and make popcorn. Sometimes other cast members join them, but most often not. She plays with his hair, and teaches him how to braid hers, and she doesn't feel lonely. Liv reminds herself that it's just something to pass the time. She hopes Elijah knows that.
Elijah thinks maybe he's in love with her. He doesn't know what to make of that at all. He's thought a lot of things about himself in the course of his lifetime, the most recent of which was "Maybe I'm gay," and that was one he'd started to believe, except now there's this. He's pretty sure it's love.
They take walks, and Elijah holds Liv's hand, and he's sure it's love now. He wants to tell her. The beach is a perfect place, she lives right near it. They're walking, and the moon is full, and it's that perfect cliched moment when love is in the air, and everyone just wants to sing, and
There's Orlando in front of them, and he's staring at Elijah.
"Join us for a walk?" Liv asks brightly and pretends she doesn't see Elijah's eyes close, doesn't feel his hand drop hers. She smiles at Orlando, who falls in step with them.
Elijah looks at her and then at Orlando. He thinks that perhaps this is not the time, but looking at her, and at Orlando, he doesn't know. He's rethinking now, he hates being so unsure of himself. He's always been unsure of himself. Especially around girls.
Orlando watches Elijah's face close and sighs. He really thought Elijah liked him. Granted, they hadn't been spending that much time together outside of filming recently, but surely Elijah still considers him a good friend. He sees Liv staring ahead and chattering on about this that and the other and. oh. Oh. Elijah. Oh. He wants to pull Elijah away, tell him what's going on. He knows his friend must learn on his own.
They walk, and Liv talks, and Orlando sometimes responds, but mostly he stays quiet. Elijah stays silent. She feels the shift, she knows something is happening inside Elijah's head. She wants to glare daggers at Orlando, but it isn't his fault, and she knows that. She thinks it's time to go in, and says so.
"I think we should go inside."
And that's how it continues.
It ends when Elijah is sure again that it's love and opens his mouth to tell Liv so, only to be cut off by her cheery "I'm flying home! I have a daaaaate!" He turns his eyes to her, those big blue eyes, and he smiles.
"Good for you."
Liv closes her eyes so that she can't see how open his are, so she can't see his heart reflected in them. "Elijah."
He hugs her quick, he knows they have to be friends when she comes back, they have another year and a half of filming to go through, and surely it wasn't love. Even though it feels like it right now. Because love is always returned, right?
Elijah and Orlando go with Liv to the airport and wave when her plane takes off. She'll be back in a few days.
And that's how it ends.
"I know you think you did."
"You don't think I did?"
"I think you were just ready to love someone."
At that, Elijah picks his head up and stares at Orlando. "What?" Orlando just shrugs and doesn't turn his gaze. They leave the airport in silence, but it isn't uncomfortable.
When they get back to Orlando's place, he asks
"Do you want to come in for a bit?"
Elijah nods, and Orlando holds the door open for him. They settle in and watch television, some random Kiwi show. When Elijah folds into himself and looks as though he's going to cry, Orlando pours him a shot of scotch and tells him to drink up. Elijah does.
And that's how it begins.
It continues over the next couple months of shooting. Elijah and Liv still watch movies, and he still braids her hair. They take walks on the beach. They keep each other company.
They don't hold hands.
The difference is that now Elijah spends time with Orlando, too, and the other young members of the cast. It's like it was before what Orlando and Elijah have come to think of as "the Liv experiment". They party like the college aged boys most of them are. Elijah even sets time aside to talk to the older members of the cast, John and Sean B. and the Ians and Viggo. Mostly, though, he and Orlando get trashed on weekends after shooting, listening to music and talking.
Orlando thinks it's nice.
Elijah thinks Orlando's just being nice sometimes, and other times, he thinks that he and Orlando have a genuine friendship. He hopes it's the latter. He enjoys the company of his friend, of all of his friends.
Their first Christmas comes, and the cast and crew have a massive party before everyone either leaves to be with their families or flies their families in or what have you. Everyone is quite tipsy, and someone (Elijah thinks it was Dominic, Orlando thinks it was Sir Ian) has brought sprigs of mistletoe and left them all over the house. Elijah picks one up and carries it over to Liv, who giggles and kisses him. It's a little more than a peck, but not porn level. He thinks
"Well, that was. Either it wasn't love, or I'm way way way over her." She thinks
"I'm sorry, Elijah."
They break apart and smile and hug. Everything is fine, just as it has been for the months since he thought it was love.
Elijah carries the mistletoe over to where Dominic, Billy, Sean Astin, and Orlando are laughing quite raucously. They all pile out onto the porch of the house where the party's being thrown and start passing the mistletoe around. Funny false kisses, Billy and Dom, Dom and Sean, Sean and Orlando. Boys being silly boys. The mistletoe comes to Orlando, who holds it over Elijah's head and waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
Elijah laughs and tips his face up, expecting the same drunken kiss everyone else has exchanged.
That isn't what he gets.
Orlando kisses him, and.
Orlando is kissing him. Really kissing him. He thinks
"--static--" Orlando thinks
"What am I doing?"
But they don't stop.
And that's how it continues.
It ends when Dominic lets out a catcall, and Billy slurs in a drunken brogue "Lookit that!" Sean has looked away, towards the door to make sure no one else comes out. Orlando and Elijah pull apart and avoid one another's gaze.
"Oh." Elijah thinks. "That's how it is."
"Oh." Orlando thinks. "That's how it is."
What they both say is "I've gotta..." and they each trail off into laughter. Nervous, fluttery laughter. Elijah turns tail into the house. Orlando leans his head over the railing of the porch and throws up.
On his blind run through the house, Elijah bumps into Sir Ian, who stops him and asks, "What's the matter, Elijah?"
Elijah thinks "I don't know who I am" but what he says is
"Just had too much to drink, Ian. I'll be all right." And Sir Ian lets him go.
He goes up to one of the bedrooms, lies down, and falls asleep. When he wakes up, there's a glass of water and a bottle of aspirin on the table next to the bed. He takes two, downs the water, and walks out of the house. He doesn't see anyone on the way to his place. He's leaving for Los Angeles tomorrow to have Christmas with his family.
He stumbles into his bedroom and collapses onto the bed, refusing to think of the night before or the kiss or Orlando.
And that's how it ends.
He opens his presents on Christmas morning and pretends to be a little boy. He thinks sometimes that emotionally he might be. He wants to know everything about love and knows nothing about anything. He can be put in front of a camera and never be suave or debonair, never have to act. He always plays himself, or he becomes the character he plays.
He calls his best girl friend from childhood and adolescence. Her name is Tracy, and it's been a while since he's seen her. He's invited her to New Zealand a few times, but she's never been able to leave school. She has red hair and a big smile and an even bigger heart. She comes over when his mom isn't there, and they sit on the living room couch and talk.
Elijah tells her about the other members of the fellowship. After a heartbeat, he tells her about Liv. He doesn't mention Orlando, though that's what he really wants to talk about.
He says, "Tracy."
She says, "Elijah."
In between then and a few hours later, they've made it upstairs and into his bed. Elijah holds Tracy like she's a piece of glass, and she guides him.
He wonders why nothing fits, why nothing's right.
Tracy kisses him goodbye and says she'll come to New Zealand over Spring Break. Elijah knows her intentions are honest but that he probably won't see her until the next time he's in Los Angeles. He loves her anyway, she is his best friend, and she probably always will be.
That's how it begins.
It continues when he gets off the plane in New Zealand, and Orlando and Sean A. are there to meet him. He and Orlando talk but don't quite meet each other's eyes. Sean attempts to connect them, but Elijah knows Sean doesn't and can't understand. He has Christine and Alexandria on set, and he's never kissed a man.
Elijah thinks, "I don't know."
They get back to location, and Elijah unpacks his things and walks over to Liv's. They won't begin shooting until tomorrow. He knocks on the door, and she isn't there. He realises that he wasn't going to Liv's at all, but instead to Orlando's. So he goes.
He knocks, and Orlando opens the door.
Orlando simultaneously manages to look shocked and unsurprised at the same time, as if he's been expecting Elijah but not actually expecting him to show up. But there Elijah is, and he thinks
"This is it."
Orlando waves him in, and they sit on the couch and turn on Kiwi television. It feels like routine monotony, like a normal life rather than that of an actor.
That's how it continues.
It ends after they've been back for a few weeks when Elijah falls asleep on Orlando's couch. Orlando nudges him awake. Elijah opens his eyes and says
"I guess I should go home and sleep."
Orlando says, "You don't have to." He won't meet Elijah's eyes as he says it, so Elijah does without thinking, turns Orlando's head with his hand so that he can look at him.
Elijah thinks, "No. I. No." but what he says is
Orlando thinks, "Please. I. Please." but what he does is lean in, and
That's how it begins.