Actions

Work Header

Out of the Darkness...Light

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

 

Orlando Bloom was late and Peter Jackson was not happy. Of course, it was Monday and didn’t Monday mornings always start badly? That was Viggo’s opinion, anyway and he was sticking to it.

Viggo was curious, though, if not a little perturbed. He, Beanie, John and Ian had been prepared to hold their weekly poker game the previous night and Orlando, being Orlando, had convinced them to let him be the fourth player. It didn’t matter that he had not the faintest idea how to play poker; no, that wasn’t an obstacle to the spirited young man. Games could be learned, couldn’t they? Everyone had to start somewhere, didn’t they? That was Orli's motto and no one could convince him otherwise. So, schedules had been rearranged, they’d asked John if he’d mind Orlando taking his place that week, and snacks had been bought. Well, they always bought snacks, but Viggo put more thought into it this week because Orlando was going to be there. He figured the young man would want more than the peanuts favored by the geriatric set. For some unidentifiable reason, he wanted the young man to feel comfortable and enjoy himself so, not knowing exactly what he’d like to eat, the older man had grabbed nearly one of everything off the shelf at the local grocery. Which explained why his kitchen table was piled with bags and cans of junk food when the others arrived.

Nodding his head towards the teetering stack of fat and calories, Sean Bean merely arched his eyebrows and waited for an answer. Viggo shrugged and shook his head. It was Ian, in his forthright manner, who got an answer out of him.

“What in mercy’s name is all this? Were they sold out of peanuts?”

And then, after exiling John from the game and spending a year’s beer money on snack food, the kid hadn’t come. He hadn’t even called to tell them he wasn’t coming; he just never showed. Not a word. Not a call. Nothing.

“Just like the younger generation. They don’t give a thought to anyone but themselves. No manners.” This was Ian.

“Maybe he got a better offer.” Sean’s two-cents.

“Let’s play.” That was Viggo’s response. “Let’s play the game.” And so they did. He didn’t understand it, but for some strange reason he was actually hurt that the younger man hadn’t even bothered himself to give him a call, letting him know he wouldn’t be there. Though he wouldn’t admit it, even to himself, he was hurt by the boy’s actions. He didn’t know why and didn’t fully comprehend it, but there it was. His feelings were hurt. As he joined the others at the table and began dealing the cards, Viggo hardened himself to the feelings warring inside and decided that the next time Orlando Bloom asked to join him in anything, he could just keep asking.

Chapter Text

"Well, it’s about time you showed up!" Peter Jackson was not amused. "And what have you been into?"

Striding forward , he reached out and took hold of his young actor’s chin, tilting the boy’s head back so he could better view the damage.

Dark, mottled bruising was evident around the left eye and cheekbone, down the entire side of the tense jawbone and around the neck, disappearing under the young man’s shirt collar. Taking a deep breath, the usually amiable director visibly struggled to control his rising temper.

"Orlando, what you do on your own time is your own business. Except when it interferes with your job, part of which is to be here on time, ready to work. You’re here because of this movie. Don’t ever forget that!"

From the suddenly unnatural hush of the sidelines, Viggo watched as the boy gave a quick nod, eyes fixed steadily on the ground between his feet. Seemingly satisfied, the stocky director returned to his chair and lowered himself into it with one last weary look at his young actor.

Orlando hadn’t moved. He remained standing where Peter had left him, eyes cast downward, expression stony. He didn’t move and, in fact, barely seemed to be breathing. The young man was strung so tight that Viggo could see the tension in his jaw as he ground his teeth together.

He heard renewed activity around him as everyone else, realizing the show was over, returned to whatever they’d been doing when it had started. Dragging his gaze away from the young man, Viggo looked to his right, where he was being poked in the ribs by Sean Bean, who nodded his head towards what had just a few moments ago been center stage.

"Looks like he did get a better offer last night, eh?" the Brit joked, referring to their poker game and Orlando’s marked absence. Hearing Beanie chuckle to himself, Viggo again looked over at his young costar and finally just shrugged. Better offer? Maybe he had, maybe he had.

Although the bruises…Viggo mentally shook himself. What the kid did on his own time was his own business. And the next time he asked to sit in on their poker game he could… he could… well, he could just go do something else! He stalked over to his ‘spot,’ closely followed by Sean Bean.

No actual filming was being done today and so everyone had been told to come in his or her street clothes -- comfortable clothes. Today they were
doing a last run through of the exit of Moria scene. Tomorrow it would be makeup, costumes and action! The atmosphere today, though, was perhaps even more intense than that of an actual filming day because everyone was focused on getting their marks right, remembering their lines and their actions.

Tomorrow, with the cameras rolling, there could be no slipups. Mistakes were expensive. Peter didn’t like to go over budget. So today, everyone was trying his or her best to get everything right.

Of course, it wasn’t helping matters that Orlando just couldn’t get it right today. Oh, it was obvious the boy was trying; something was just…off. And people were getting ticked. Viggo could tell. It wasn’t so bad the first time they all stumbled out of the ‘cave’ and Orlando literally tripped over his own foot, falling flat on his face, quite unlike his graceful elf counterpart. That, at least, had gotten a laugh out of everybody. And the second time when he raced out only to find himself fighting for a spot on John’s mark, much like a baseball player arriving too soon on a crowded base. They’d all shrugged it off. It happened sometimes.

By the seventh run-through, however, tempers were starting to flare, murderous invectives were being muttered quietly and people were literally
glaring. And it was all directed at one person: Orlando Bloom. To Viggo’s eye, however, Orlando appeared to be totally oblivious to the tension he was creating. Instead the young man seemed to be totally focused, but on something else. Viggo just shook his head.

Finally, seeming to recognize the fact that someone was going to blow any time now, Peter called a halt to the proceedings and asked Orlando to step aside. Scowls and dirty looks followed the young man’s progress over to the director’s chair. Of course, most of the fellowship was intent on calming their heaving chests and regaining their breath after sprinting from the ‘cave’ entrance to their marks seven times in less than an hour.

Viggo, himself, wasn’t in too bad a shape, but nevertheless he remained still, focusing on slowing his breathing and relaxing his tensing muscles. From the corner of his eye, he watched as Peter spoke to Orlando, waving his hands in the air as he was wont to do, pointing here, pointing there. Though he couldn’t hear what was being said, Viggo could tell that neither man was happy. Finally, after what seemed an eternity but was,in actuality, only a few moments, Orlando nodded curtly and moved aside.

Viggo observed the young man as he trudged dejectedly away from the rest of his fellow actors, over to the sidelines, where he lowered himself into a vacant lawnchair. Eyebrow raised in wonder, Viggo realized what had just occurred. Orlando Bloom had just been banished from rehearsals. Not good!

Chapter Text

“So, how’s it going?”

Viggo’s only answer was a weary lifting of the shoulders, disguised as a nonchalant shrug. Orlando continued to sit slumped in the chair to which Peter had banished him an hour before. Even though Viggo had moved to stand in front of him in an attempt to get his attention, the boy’s eyes remained fixed on a spot on the ground by his foot.

The older man decided to try again. “So. What happened last night? I thought we were going to play poker.”

Indifferent shrug.

Viggo stood for a moment more, trying to decide what—if anything—he should say. Finally, after realizing the boy didn’t want to talk, he lifted a hand in a halfhearted wave and walked off to join Beanie and the rest of the cast in the mess tent. Outwardly, he appeared as he normally did—calm and laid back. But inwardly, he was seething. Viggo was mad.

Here he had totally rearranged poker night, even going so far as to kick John out, just so Orlando could participate. And what did he get for it—nothing!!! No explanation, no apology. Just a sullen shoulder shrug. Kicking a stick out of his way as he stalked along, Viggo fumed. ‘The nerve of the kid! And I even bought snacks!! Hmpphhhh!!! See if I ever do that again!!! No more invitations from me!!!! Not in this lifetime!!!! Hmmpphhh!!!’

With that final thought, Viggo entered the mess tent and, catching sight of Beanie, Ian and the others, waved hello and stomped on over.

**********************************

 

An hour later and back to work. Viggo and the others, including Orlando, who been released from his banishment, gathered around as Peter discussed his plan. The focus this afternoon—working on their reactions and facial expressions as they exited Moria.

Ian, having already died onscreen, announced that he would stand on the sidelines and provide “inspiration” to those less experienced in the acting profession. Multiple groans.

“So you’d better make it good,” he said. “Make me feel like you really miss me. Make me believe it!”

At Peter’s cue, the eight remaining members of the fellowship took their places. Viggo watched as, one by one, his fellow actors transformed themselves into hobbits, dwarves—well, dwarf—and an elf. Oh, and one arrogant human. Dom and Billy were first and Viggo was amazed at how quickly they went from joking about their surfing adventures of the day before to crying real tears for their fallen comrade. Ian was pleased. And John, what an excellent job he did of portraying gruffness and caring at the same time. Sean Astin. Elijah. They were great, as always. Now it was Beanie’s turn and his features bore just the right combination of sadness and anger. And then Orlando…Orlando. The look on his face was—it was heartbreaking. Shock, disbelief and a profound sense of loss—all rolled into one. It was so real.

Viggo was mesmerized, and in the ensuing silence, he realized that everyone else was captivated as well. They’d all stopped what they were doing and were watching the young man, who seemed totally oblivious to being the focus of their attention. It was, Viggo thought, haunting. And then, as quickly as he had become Legolas, he was once again Orlando, though Viggo could have sworn he saw the remnant of a tear in the corner of one of those beautiful, expressive eyes. But then, the young man blinked, turned his head and walked away—off by himself—leaving a stunned group of professionals behind.

Viggo was puzzled. This was not normal Orlando behavior. This subdued, stumbling boy was the total opposite of the usually bubbly and vibrant young man. It was at that moment that he realized that something was wrong with Orlando. And he recognized—for the first time and with a certainty—that whatever it was had to do with last night and the missed poker game.

He would be a big man and put aside his hurt feelings. He would find out what was wrong!

Chapter Text

Peter Jackson looked perturbed. They weren’t finished for the day and one of his stars was leaving of his own accord—without even being dismissed. The Hobbits, sensing their director’s mood and the fact that he was heading for a blowup, took matters into their own hands. Elijah caught Peter’s attention and nodded in Orlando’s direction, holding up a hand to hold him off and to prevent him from saying anything…yet. The portly director acquiesced slowly and Elijah trotted after Orlando, closely followed by Dom, Billy and Sean Astin.

Viggo watched as the Hobbits converged on the young man, who had stopped about twenty yards away from the Moria set. Around him, he could hear the murmur of voices as people used the opportunity to relax and visit for a moment. But his eyes were fixed on the boy who now stood silent and unnaturally stiff, surrounded by Hobbit friends who were giving him exaggerated pats on the back and arms around the shoulders. Orlando seemed unmoved by it all. In fact, Viggo saw Elijah lean in and say something to him—almost conspiratorially—and there was no reaction. Normally, that would have elicited at least the smile of a coconspirator. But the older man didn’t see that. In fact, he didn’t see anything. Just the stiff figure of an unnaturally taciturn and morose young man. One who was not responding as usual to the overtures of his friends.

Just as Viggo began to wonder if he was the only one noticing the changes in the young elf, he felt a hand on his shoulder and glanced over to his right to see Beanie, whose eyes were narrowed in concern as he, too, gazed over at the huddled group of young men and took in what wasn’t happening. Orlando wasn’t laughing. Orlando wasn’t responding. Orlando wasn’t moving. Quite the opposite. The normally animated young man looked like a statue—a statue so brittle it was close to breaking. Viggo shook his head as he looked back at the object of his worry. Something was definitely not right.

And then, before he had time for another thought, time stood still. Before his eyes—and everyone else’s—Orlando Bloom closed his eyes and fell to the ground in a dead faint. The move was so unexpected that even the Hobbits, clustered around him as they were, were taken by surprise and simply stared at their comrade as he hit the dirt. Absolute silence—stunned shock; even Peter stopped talking as everyone stared at the seemingly boneless figure sprawled in the dust.

The Hobbits, being the closest, moved first. Viggo stood frozen in shock as Sean Astin dropped to his knees and felt for a pulse while the Elijah, Dom and Billy clustered close. He felt the hand leave his shoulder as Beanie sprinted over to join them, Ian right behind him. And then—mass chaos as everyone rushed to get as close as possible without being in the way.

"Medic!" Viggo heard someone scream in a voice near panic. That got him moving and his feet moved of their own accord to carry him to the knot of people surrounding the fallen actor. He didn’t even think as he elbowed people aside to get to the front of the group. And then he came to a standstill. Orlando Bloom lay crumpled at his feet, still lying on his side, one arm flung out, fingers loose and boneless. Viggo found himself mesmerized by those long, graceful fingers. They were so still. He barely noticed when Peter bumped into him as he, too, pushed his way to the front of the crowd.

There was more commotion as Mary Williams, the medic on duty, pushed her way through the crowd and knelt down beside the unconscious young man.

"Move back," she announced in a businesslike voice without even looking up from her patient. "Give us some room here."

Cast and crew moved back. They knew better than to mess with Mary Williams. The forty-something medic could be very motherly and attentive to her patients, but she was also known for her brusque, no-nonsense manner if someone crossed her. If she said move, you moved. No one wanted to find out what would happen if they didn’t.

"What happened?" she asked as she took vitals, looking here, listening there, writing everything down.

Beanie took charge. "He just fainted. But…he’s been off all day. Not himself. And he came in this morning looking like…that…" he trailed off, gesturing at the bruises covering Orlando’s face and neck. Mary took note, running her experienced fingers over them and down the side of the neck.

"Any idea what happened?" she asked.

"Looks like Orlando got lucky. Or someone else did," someone in the back sniggered. Viggo wasn’t sure who it was—a crew member most likely—but he knew that he’d be shooting daggers if he had eyes in the back of his head.

"No!" Elijah protested. "That’s not like Orli. He’s not into that!"

Silence from the back. Evidently, others were shooting daggers.

Mary had finished her preliminary examination and, evidently determining that there were no major broken bones from the fall, moved to roll the young man onto his back so she could better examine him. Without even realizing he’d done it, Viggo fell to his knees and grasped a thin shoulder, in an attempt to help her. He raised his eyes in surprise at what he felt.

"He’s burning up!"

"Yes. 103.2 degrees. Not good. Let’s get this shirt open and see what’s going on." That said, she began unbuttoning Orlando’s shirtsleeve, frowning as it opened to reveal more bruising on the thin wrist.

Viggo looked closely and spied what he thought were finger marks that went all the way around the wrist. What had happened last night? But it was when Mary opened the shirt that Viggo realized the full impact of the situation. His eyes were drawn helplessly to the slender torso that was no longer flawless. Instead, it was covered with dark, ugly bruises. They were everywhere, even running down beneath the waistband of the loose jeans Orlando was wearing. Loud intakes of breath all around, followed by stunned silence.

Mary broke it. "This boy’s been beaten. Violently. We need to get him to a hospital, now. Someone call an ambulance."

It was at that moment that Orlando Bloom decided to regain consciousness. With a sharp intake of breath, he moaned quietly and rolled his head to the side, eyes still closed. Viggo, realizing that he was only semiconscious and not totally aware of his surroundings, reached over to grasp the nearest hand, holding it gently. He stroked the hot forehead, murmuring quietly, "it’s alright, Orlando. You’re going to be alright. Help is on the way." All of his previous anger had vanished the moment the boy had collapsed. Now, Viggo was filled with another type of anger, this one much more deadly than the first—directed at some unnamed person or persons—whoever had done this to his young costar. He also felt a surge of protectiveness towards this boy and he vowed to himself that nothing further would happen to Orlando Bloom.

"Hurts," Orli whispered. "It hurts." A shaky hand moved to his abdomen and rested there as he started coughing. It was just as he began spitting up blood that the ambulance arrived, much to everyone’s relief.

Chapter Text

Two hours. Two terribly, horribly long hours they’d been waiting. Waiting for something, anything. Any word on how Orlando was. Any word on his condition. Any word on what had happened to him. All they knew was that, after a frantic ambulance ride, he’d been rushed into the E.R., still only semiconscious. Beyond that, not a clue. No idea how he’d come to be beaten so badly, or why he’d been coughing up blood just before being loaded into the ambulance.

Viggo stopped his restless pacing when he felt a warm hand grip his shoulder and squeeze, as if to give comfort and moral support. Both were needed badly and he looked up and gave Beanie a weak smile. The hand stayed where it was, a symbol of strength which allowed Viggo to take a deep breath and regroup.

Okay. Two hours wasn’t a terribly long period of time in the grand scheme of things. After all, the doctors needed to do a thorough examination—tests needed to be run, results read. Then everyone would know what they were dealing with. And he hoped they weren’t dealing with anything major. But he couldn’t shake the terrible feeling that this was something very, very major—very big and very bad.

He couldn’t erase the sight of Orlando sprawled in the dirt, face ashen except for the blood—ruby red against the pale skin. Nor could he forget the small, pitiful moan as the young man began to regain consciousness and started to feel the pain that was wracking his body. It went straight to Viggo’s heart.

Thank goodness his quick thinking had allowed him to jump into the ambulance once the stretcher had been loaded. At least he’d been able to offer a modicum of support to the ill young man, even if Orlando hadn’t been entirely aware of what was going on. And at least Orli wasn’t totally surrounded by strangers. It had taken nearly all of Viggo’s control to remain seated on the sidelines, though he did reach out and grasp one pale hand, almost defying the EMT’s to do something about it. They didn’t.

It had been frightening, though, to watch as the medical personnel went about their business—examining their patient, taking vitals, looking for clues as to what was wrong. At least the horrible coughing had stopped on the way to the hospital. Viggo closed his eyes at the memory of the battered body that had been exposed as clothing was moved here and there, shirt removed, pants cut off. The bruising was everywhere—far worse than Viggo had realized. How had the boy made it to work today? How had he even gotten out of bed?

A warm hand squeezing his shoulder shook Viggo out of his reverie. Glancing up, he looked into Sean’s concerned eyes and saw the unspoken question. “Are you alright?” A slight nod in reply was all the response that was necessary. Beanie smiled back at him.

Casting his eyes around the crowded waiting room, Viggo surveyed the group that had begun forming not long after the ambulance had arrived. Production had been shut down for the day, testimony to the severity of the situation and the regard in which Orlando was held. All of the primary cast was there, as well as Peter and Fran. But there were others, as well, some of whom Viggo knew only by sight. There were crewmembers from make-up, hair, costumes. The elf was well thought of. Viggo hadn’t realized how much. Hmmmm. It was like a piece to a puzzle, a puzzle called Orlando. Something he definitely wanted to explore.

The hand, which had remained on his shoulder, tightened, causing Viggo to once again focus on Beanie. But Beanie was looking over at the doors leading to the Emergency Room Unit—the doors from which a doctor had just emerged. The two men moved as one to join the gathering crowd.

“Who is here for Orlando Bloom?” she asked, surveying the large gathering in confusion. At a chorus of “aye’s” and “here’s” she visibly regrouped herself. “Well,” she began again. “I am Dr. Meadows. Does….does Mr. Bloom have family here? Immediate family?”

“No, not here in New Zealand.” This from Peter, who appeared to be very subdued, quite unlike his usual, jovial self.

“Well, then. Orlando has been moved to surgery. He’s been badly beaten…among other things. Does anyone know how this occurred?”

Silence.

“Any information at all would be very helpful.”

Nothing. Blank, worried faces. Viggo couldn’t take his eyes off of her, as if that would will her to continue with the words he wanted to hear, and yet dreaded knowing.

“Alright. Well, as I said, Orlando has been brought up to surgery. Physically, he’s in bad shape. Severe contusions over much of his body, two broken ribs…” she paused, as if gauging their reaction to what she had to say next. “That’s not the worst of it, though.” She paused to take a deep breath before continuing. “Orlando has no family here at all. Is that right?”

“Right,” Peter responded again.

“We’re his family.” This from Elijah.

“You?”

“Yes, us!” Dom and Billy in unison.

She hesitated, her reluctance to say more obvious to all of them. Finally, though, she gestured for them to follow her and she led the way into a smaller, more private waiting room off to the side of the larger one in which they’d been grouped. Turning to face them, she surveyed the group before her—nine men and a woman. The eight remaining members of the Fellowship, Peter and Fran. They waited expectantly.

“Orlando…Orlando has been raped---multiple times. And this was rape, no doubt about it.” She hesitated at the quick intake of breaths around her, but then continued. “He’s suffered severe tearing of the rectal wall, perforated colon…”

She trailed off as Ian’s quiet voice sounded. “Are you sure?” He had a look of infinite sadness on his face. Viggo closed his eyes, unable to continue watching for a moment, but when the doctor began speaking once again, he forced them open, unable to not watch.

“Unfortunately, yes. It looks as if at least one foreign object was used, as well. Physically, I believe he will be alright. Mentally, however, Orlando will need help. In fact, once he’s out of surgery and his condition is stable, a counselor will be in to talk to him…get the process started. If any of you do know any details pertaining to Orlando’s whereabouts last night, the police would like to speak with you, as well. Also…” she trailed off again, as if unwilling to continue with whatever she was going to say. But then, “I need to speak with someone who is familiar with Orlando and his history.”

“His history?” Beanie asked, obviously unsure what she was getting at.

Before she could respond, Sean Astin spoke up. “We know him best.”

“We?” she asked.

“Yes, we. The Fellowship. The nine of us. Well, eight without Orli, Orlando. And Peter, of course.”

She looked around at the expectant faces and seemed to come to a decision of some sort.

“Do any of you know anything about Orlando’s previous history?”

“Some,” Dom replied. “Like what?”

“A little,” from Billy.

“What do you need to know?” Viggo finally forced himself to speak.

She hesitated again, as if still unsure. Finally, “scans indicate past abuse.”
Stunned silence. No one said a word. A sea of bewildered, confused faces just stared at her as she made this proclamation.

At last, Viggo worked up the courage to voice what they all wanted to know. His voice was low and dangerous.

“What do you mean, past abuse?”

“Scans show scar tissue—quite old—on the lining of the rectal wall. If any of you know anything at all, it would be of great help to us. Because if Orlando was abused prior to this incident, it will impact his recovery now. We need to treat the whole person and we can’t do that unless we know everything.”

No one said a word. Viggo tried to control his breathing, to calm himself. He felt as if he was going to explode. But he couldn’t. Not now. He needed to remain in control. Orlando needed him.

Chapter Text

And now, hours later—seemingly a lifetime, Viggo was finally able to see the young man who had been uppermost in his thoughts lately. It had taken much persuasion and some minor threats on his part, not to mention finger waving and foot stomping, but it had worked and he’d been informed that he could see “the patient” for ten minutes, no more. The rest of the Fellowship had watched him trot off after the nurse, none of them quite used to seeing this assertive side of Viggo Mortensen.

The Intensive Care Unit was still and quiet, a peaceful haven compared to where he’d just come from. Viggo padded silently after the nurse as she led him to the farthest cubicle. As she moved the curtain aside for him to enter, Viggo surveyed the multitude of machines and equipment and listened to the steady beeping which indicated that this patient was alive and resting. Amidst all of this, but totally oblivious to it, Orlando Bloom lay still and silent. Fresh out of surgery, he was still being fed oxygen, still hooked up to various equipment, each doing its job to monitor his condition and to keep him well. To Viggo, he looked almost lost in the hospital bed. Walking up to the side of the bed, he reached out and grasped one of the limp hands, almost relieved to find it still warm.

The doctor had told them that Orlando had been very lucky. Viggo wanted to laugh. Lucky! The kid had been beaten and raped. No, not just raped—gang-raped! But because his injuries—the physical ones anyway—could be repaired, he was considered lucky! In what universe was that lucky? He did admit to himself, however, that it was very fortunate that they had gotten Orlando to the hospital when they did. When he’d arrived in the Emergency Room, he’d been bleeding internally. Had he been alone when he’d collapsed, he might not have made it—he might not have survived. For that, he was fortunate. And Viggo was very, very grateful.

He didn’t quite understand why, but he almost felt the need to make things up to the young man. And he was ashamed of his uncharitable thoughts the night before when the boy hadn’t shown up for the poker game. He mentally flogged himself for automatically jumping to the conclusion that Orlando had found something better to do—a better offer. Deep down, he knew Orlando Bloom was not like that. Oh, he gave the appearance of playing around and being a tease, but Viggo had always believed that to be an act—not the true Orlando. So why—kicking himself again—had he allowed himself to believe the worst of this young man? Once again, shame flooded his entire being, down to his very pores.

Squeezing the hand he held softly, he waited for a response, not really expecting one, but hoping nonetheless. And then, as he gazed down at the pale, bruised face, peaceful now in sleep, it hit him. While he had been sitting home castigating Orlando in his mind and vowing to never again give the young man an opportunity to stand him up—to hurt him—Orli was being beaten and brutilized and raped. While he was sitting home acting like a child who hadn’t gotten his way, Orlando was being hurt terribly. This realization made Viggo go weak in the knees and he grasped the bed with his free hand to help him remain standing. Taking a deep breath, he attempted to regain his equilibrium. But it was difficult. Once again, he felt as if he was going to explode. His mind was a whirling mass of chaos.

He didn’t know what to do, so he focused, really focused on the young man in the bed. Orlando, here, now. That’s all he was going to think about, concentrate on. Bruises, horrible, dark, splotchy, look-like-they-hurt bruises covering almost every visible area. The hospital gown covered the bandaging binding the broken ribs, but Viggo knew it was there, nonetheless. Various tubes running in and out from under the blanket; nutrients in, waste out. Several IV’s.

Dr. Meadows might think that Orlando was lucky in terms of injuries, but the way Viggo saw it, the young man was lucky to be here at all. This happy, carefree boy with the forever smile and the winning personality could very well have been lost to them forever. Viggo vowed, then and there, to watch out for this young man, to be there for him, as he wasn’t there last night—when he was needed the most.

Viggo’s reverie was cut short by the sound of quiet footsteps approaching. Looking up just as the curtain surrounding the cubicle was pulled back, Viggo saw the cherubic face of their director poke through, it’s normally pleasant expression replaced by one of concern and worry. Peter stepped closer to the bed, his wife directly behind him. Fran looked like she’d been crying, the tear tracks and smudged mascara on her face mute evidence to her concern for the young man before them.

Viggo watched as they moved to the other side of the bed, nodding to him, but saying nothing. He watched as they stopped—and stood—and simply looked. And as he glanced over at them he realized that he was not the only one dealing with feelings of guilt. It was written all over Peter’s face. Guilt for pushing Orlando that morning. Guilt for criticizing him. Guilt for exiling him. Guilt for not knowing he was hurt. Guilt for not realizing he needed help. The list went on.

A tap on his shoulder caused him to divert his attention momentarily to the nurse, who was gesturing for him to leave. Shaking his head in the negative, he whispered, “I’m staying.”

“But sir,” she whispered back, “only two visitors at a time. Those are the rules!”

“I’m not going,” he replied, returning his eyes to the young man in the bed. He knew Peter and Fran were looking at him and he could sense the nurse stalking away, but he didn’t care. The phrase ‘bloom where you are planted’ flitted through Viggo’s mind for some ridiculous reason. Well, he might not bloom, but he was definitely planted—he was putting down roots—right here in the intensive care unit. Right now, he didn’t care what the rules stated. He knew that he should have left when Peter and Fran arrived, but he just wasn’t going to do it. He wasn’t going to leave Orlando’s side. He still didn’t understand why, but it was suddenly very important to him to stay here, with this young man.

A sob from across the bed broke his reverie and he raised his eyes to meet those of Fran and Peter. Fran’s, damp and swollen, were dark with worry. Peter’s, well, Peter’s were filled with sadness and disbelief—a deep abiding sadness and disbelief that something like this could happen to one of their own. Neither of them blinked an eye at Viggo’s presence, or at the fact that he was clutching one of the pale, limp hands on the bed. Viggo felt a rush of proprietary warmth as he realized how much Fran, Peter, everyone, cared for this boy. Casting his gaze down to the pale face once again, he squeezed the hand he held, hoping for a response, but getting none. Inhaling deeply, he waited.

 

Rolling his head back and forth while attempting to crack his neck, Viggo tried to loosen his stiff muscles. Glancing at his watch for what must have been the hundredth time, he realized it was after 11:00 at night. Orlando had been in intensive care for six hours now. Six hours and Viggo had not left his side. The other members of the Fellowship—and Hugo—had all come and gone. Most of them had simply stood and observed, watching the sleeping form, stroking an arm gently, squeezing a shoulder lightly. Just observing. It was almost as if they all wanted to simply reassure themselves that Orlando was, indeed, here. He was alive and—God willing—he would be well again. They would all see to that. Orlando’s mother and sister had also been notified and were on their way.

And now Viggo was alone with the young man. He’d withstood the glares and threats—veiled and blatant—from the medical personnel, but he’d refused to budge. He was here to stay. Actually, he was a little surprised that they hadn’t pressed the point and escorted him out forcibly. But he sure wasn’t going to question his good fortune.

Yawning, Viggo stretched his arms up over his head in an effort to loosen his muscles, which were becoming cramped from inactivity. It was as he was arching his back in a painfully wonderful stretch that he heard it. A sound. Coming from the bed.

Leaning over the still figure, Viggo reached out and smoothed the unruly curls back and away from the bruised forehead, before reaching down to grasp one of the young man’s hands. A tiny, slight pressure was returned when he squeezed.

“Shhh. Orlando. Shhh. It’s alright. It’s okay, Orli. You’re safe.”

As the older man watched, the eyelids began to twitch and flicker, as Orlando began to fight his way to consciousness. The young man’s breathing pace increased slightly and a small moan escaped through the dry lips.

“It’s alright. Don’t worry.” Viggo tried again, but his words had no effect. He watched as confused brown eyes opened and trembling lips attempted to form words, to convey something. “What is it? What do you want to tell me?”

Taking a harsh, unsteady breath, Orlando looked into Viggo’s eyes. “Wi…”

“What?” Viggo asked in confusion. “I don’t understand.” He watched in dismay as tears began to form in the beautiful brown depths. He observed in silence as one escaped to trickle down a bruised cheek. The young man made another attempt, this time more successful. Barely audible, Viggo heard still heard it.

“Wine….”

“What?” The older man looked down at his friend in confusion, not quite understanding what he was trying to convey.

“Wi…wine. I’m sorry.” Viggo watched in confusion as Orlando’s eyes fluttered closed once more, his energy evidently depleted.

Leaning close, he whispered quietly into the nearest ear, “I don’t know what you mean, but you have nothing to be sorry for.” He squeezed the hand he held once more, but there was no response.

Chapter Text

Viggo had been wracking his brain for hours and come up with nothing. Wine? What the hell did that mean? Was the boy thirsty? Could that be it? Well, he would find out eventually. He’d just have to be patient and wait.

Wait. He was getting good at that. He’d been playing a waiting game for more than twenty-four hours now. Waiting for Orlando to arrive at the poker game. Waiting to hear his reason for missing the game. Waiting for news of his condition at the hospital. And now, waiting for him to awaken. Staring down at the pale face as if that act alone could will the young man to open his eyes, he waited some more.

“Why don’t we grab some coffee, mate?”

“I’m not thirsty. But thanks.” Viggo didn’t look up from the still figure in the bed. Since the brief moment of consciousness—well, semi-consciousness—Orlando Bloom had not moved. Not a muscle. Heavily medicated, he was sleeping peacefully, and for that Viggo was very grateful.

A squeeze on his shoulder and a clap on his back told him that Beanie wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer. The others had been shooed home some hours ago, but no amount of ordering, pleading or cajoling could convince Viggo to leave with them. He had planted himself next to the young man’s bedside and here he was determined to stay. So Beanie had stayed too, a tower of quiet support and strength. Viggo was glad he was there.

Viggo had puzzled over the fact that he—they—had been allowed to remain, as they were—technically—breaking the rules. Sean had finally voiced the question to a pretty young nurse and her reply made sense. Considering what Orlando had been through, it might help him to have some familiar faces nearby when he finally awoke. And that, according to the nurses’ calculations, should be soon. And that was why he told Beanie, “no thanks” to the coffee. As good as it sounded and as much as he needed a break, he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He was determined to be at Orlando’s side when his eyes opened.

“You go on. Take a break. You need it.” Still not lifting his gaze from the still figure before him.

“No more tired than you, Viggo.” Staring at his friend for a moment, Sean Bean seemed to realize that Viggo wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Without questioning it, he merely accepted it. “Well, I’ll be back very soon. Let me just wet my whistle—if you can do that with this stuff they call coffee—and stretch my legs. I’ll be back shortly.”

Nodding his head and finally looking up at his friend, Viggo smiled slightly to himself. “Go relax a while, Sean. And…thanks.”

With a nod of his own, Sean left the small cubicle—and his two friends—behind.

Viggo’s smile remained as he watched Sean’s retreating form. He had to admit that he appreciated the support. Rising from the increasingly hard chair, he attempted to work some of the kinks out of his stiff back and shoulders. Hands overhead, reaching for the sky. Hand knotting into fists of tension—no, he had to stop that. He had to try to unwind, he reminded himself. Twist to the right, the left. Roll the neck…ahhhh. Better. A little. Just as he was about to repeat the process to get rid of the remaining kinks, Viggo’s attention was drawn once again to the bed beside him.

“Mmmmmm…..” breathing was changing from the gentleness of slumber to the quickening of wakefulness. Reaching down and grasping a still limp hand, Viggo was rewarded with a slight pressure as Orlando’s fingers moved ever so slightly. The older man watched as the dark curls began to move back and forth on the pillow. He watched as the pale eyelids began to flutter. Another moan issued from the dry, cracked lips. Orlando Bloom was waking up.

Gently squeezing the hand he held, Viggo reached over and brushed the always unruly curls away from the bruised forehead, attempting to offer what little support he could. He didn’t know what, if anything, Orlando would remember, but he wanted to be by his side, just in case he was needed.

As he watched, the brown eyes opened slowly. Confusion first, quickly changing to horror. Orlando remembered and it pierced Viggo’s soul with pain. Oh how he wanted to enfold this young man in his arms and make the last two days disappear. He wanted to protect Orlando from everything horrible in the world. He wanted to make everything better. And he didn’t know how.

So, he composed himself, making sure his features gave no hint of the fury lurking beneath, lest the young man misconstrue it. With the most caring expression he could muster, Viggo continued to smooth the curls back, undisciplined even now. He continued to hold the hand, offering silent support. He watched as the troubled eyes finally found focus on him. He gave his best imitation of a smile.

“Welcome back. You’ve had us worried.”

No response. The eyes closed again.

“How are you feeling?” Ewwwww…bad choice of words, he thought, mentally kicking himself. Too late. They were already said. He fell silent, unsure what to say next, fearful of uttering the wrong thing.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Viggo found himself staring into liquid brown depths once more. As he watched, those beautiful eyes filled with tears , which came just short of spilling over. The lips moved and Viggo had to strain to hear the words. The boy had said something—whispered something—which the older man couldn’t make out.

Leaning closer, he squeezed the hand he still held in encouragement.

“What? I didn’t hear what you said.”

Orlando looked right at him and the hurt and sorrow in his eyes stung Viggo to the core.

“I thought…I thought you would like some wine.”

Viggo just stared at him, sorting through what the boy had just said, trying to make sense of it.

“What? I don’t understand.” He shook his head in confusion. Was Orlando still out of it? Maybe it was the medication. But the young man’s next words banished that thought completely.

“Sunday night. I…I knew you liked wine—Ian told me what kind. I stopped to buy some…I wanted to thank you for letting me come to the game, but…” he trailed off, unable to continue, and Viggo watched helplessly as the tears which had been threatening finally spilled over, mute testimony to the young man’s state of mind.

Viggo took it all in, even as he once again felt a chill pass through his entire body. Actually, he felt like he’d just been kicked in the stomach, his breath taken away. The implications of what Orlando had just told him did not escape him.

Was that it? Did something happen when—or after he bought the wine? That must be it. And if that was the case, it was because of him that Orlando had been hurt. It was because of him that Orlando made an extra stop. If this was true, then it was because of him that Orlando had been raped.

Viggo felt sick to his stomach and for a moment felt as if he couldn’t breathe. Why??? He’d been castigating the boy for not showing up as planned and meanwhile, Orlando had been trying to do something nice for him and as a result….well, he didn’t want to really think about the result. Not now. He needed to concentrate on Orlando, here and now. He could deal with what had happened later—they all would.

Viggo leaned forward and brushed his hand over the smooth forehead on the pretext of brushing the hair away from Orlando’s face. He didn’t miss the almost imperceptible flinch.

“Shhhh. It’s alright. It’s okay, Orlando.”

Haunted eyes met his again.

“I’m sorry, Viggo. I’m sorry.”

“What???” The older man was floored. Here he was feeling as if he would sink through the floor under the burden of guilt he suddenly felt, and the young man before him was apologizing!

“Orlando, shhhh. You’ve don’t need to apologize. You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s okay. It’ll be okay.”

Sorrowful eyes, still wet with tears, met his once more. They had the weary look of someone who knew that nothing was ever going to be okay again. Viggo was just getting ready to say something else when the curtain was moved aside.

“You’re awake. Good. How are you feeling?”

The nurse on duty moved in and busied herself with checking monitors and readings as she spoke, hardly sparing a glance at her patient. Viggo continued to hold Orlando’s hand, giving it a squeeze of reassurance. Reassurance that he was there—would be there.

After recording the results in her patient’s chart, the woman looked directly at her patient for the first time.

“Mr. Bloom, I’m Nurse Andrews and I’ll be on duty for the next eight hours. If you need anything, you just give me a buzz, alright?”

There was no response and Viggo could tell that she hadn’t really expected one.

“Right. Well, now that you’re awake, the police would like to talk to you.”
Without waiting for a response, the woman moved to hold the curtain aside and gestured towards the end of the room, where Viggo guessed the officers were waiting.

The grip on his hand tightened almost painfully and he silently cursed the woman and her nonexistent bedside manner. Squeezing back, he looked down once again to offer reassurance, to let Orlando know that he would remain by his side. What he saw was pure, unadulterated fear, which intensified when the nurse once again turned to face them, two uniformed officers behind her.

Chapter Text

Squeezing the hand he still held in return, in an attempt to reassure and to also lessen the death-grip Orlando was holding on it, Viggo looked beyond the nurse to the two imposing figures standing behind her. The woman held the curtain aside so the two officers could move forward, and as they did Viggo saw that Beanie was behind them, and had taken in Orlando’s reaction. Sean’s eyes contained concern and sadness for his young friend—emotions that were mirrored on his handsome face.

A quick intake of breath from the bed returned his attention to Orlando, however, and he looked down, ready to soothe.

“Shhh. It’s all right, Orlando. They’re here to help. No one is going to hurt you.”

Viggo wished he could convey to the young man how true those words were to him—how much he meant them. During the long hours of waiting, he had realized—and finally admitted to himself—just how much this boy had come to mean to him. The feelings he’d been experiencing, but not acknowledging, were no longer being pushed deep down inside the abyss that was Viggo Mortensen’s soul. No, nothing or nobody was ever going to hurt Orlando again. He was willing to stake his life on it!

The dark head moved slightly on the pillow, the soulful eyes closing.

A whisper. “I don’t want to talk…to anyone.”

The rustle of equipment momentarily diverted Viggo’s attention and he looked up to see the nurse busying herself with checking her patient’s readings. As she reached over to grasp a wrist and take a pulse, she looked down at her patient for the first time since entering the cubicle, ignoring the slight flinch when she encircled his wrist with her fingers.

“Mr. Bloom. They only want to ask you a few questions. Find out what happened last night. It’s necessary. It’s their job.” She paused for a moment, waiting for a reaction. There was none. “Your friends can stay, if you like.” Still nothing. Looking over to the two officers, the nurse nodded her head at them, as if she were giving her permission for them to start.

Viggo looked up at them for the first time. One of the officers, hair gray and paunch barely contained by his uniform belt, looked close to retirement. The other man looked to be his own age. They both stood silently, as if waiting for the right moment to start. Was there ever a right moment in a situation like this, flickered briefly through Viggo’s mind.

Ignoring the closed eyes and the nonresponsive patient, notebooks came out and were flipped open to blank pages. Pens were at the ready.

“Mr. Bloom. Where were you last night?” The older officer paused, giving time for Orlando to respond. Nothing.

“Did you go out last night? Or were you at home?” Silence.

Viggo had to hand it to them. They weren’t losing their tempers. In fact, they both seemed to have the attitude that they could outwait the patient, if need be…that they had all the time in the world.

Looking down at his young friend, Viggo reached over to stroke the bruised forehead, smooth the hair back. “Orlando, why don’t you just tell them. Let them know what happened and then it will be over.”

A small moan was caught before escaping the trembling lips. Eyes were still scrunched shut, face tortured. “No, it’ll never be over.” A mere whisper. Barely heard.

Viggo was mesmerized. He couldn’t take his eyes off the boy. He felt as if his heart was breaking and the only way to fix it was to help the young man before him.

“Orlando…Orli…please. Tell them. Tell me. I want to know what happened.”

He heard a rustle and a scrape and lifted his eyes just enough to see the curtain fluttering back down and a chair appearing from…somewhere. Mr. Gray Hair set it down next to the bed and sat, ready to talk, but obviously also ready to wait.

“Son. I know it’s not easy. And I know you don’t want to talk about what happened to you. It was a horrible thing. But not talking about it won’t make it go away. “ Gray Hair paused, waited a moment to see if he’d get any reaction. Then, “son…tell me what happened Sunday night.”

Amazed, Viggo watched as Orlando took a shaky breath and opened his eyes. The young man looked straight at him, his face solemn, almost fearful. Then, he moved his gaze to the officer sitting next to him. It was obvious to everyone that he was wrestling with himself, attempting to formulate the right words.

“I…was going out. Went out….” He trailed off, as if not sure what he wanted to say next. Dead silence from everybody present, as they waited for him to continue on his own…in his own time. “I…stopped at the store, to get a bottle of wine.” Orlando paused, as if uncertain what to say next.

“Which store?”

“…the…umm…Centre City on, umm… on Waring Taylor St.” He stopped talking, as if the effort was just too much.

“Alright. What time was this?”

“…umm, about 5:15.”

“And then what?”

Viggo watched as the young face ran the gamut of emotions, finally settling on a look of bewildered confusion. Orlando was staring straight ahead, not looking at anybody. Haltingly, he began again.

“I…got it.”

“The wine?”
“Yes. A bottle of White Zinfandel….”

Silence again.

“Alright. Then what happened?”

“I…left the store and…came out and…”

Instinctively, Viggo knew something was coming, and he had a pretty good idea what it was. Looking across to where Sean was still standing on the periphery, he could tell that his friend had come to the same realization.

Gray Hair again. “What happened when you came out of the store?”

“Umm…I came out of the store and….” He stopped.

“Yes?” Encouraging, but not pushy.

Deep breath. I came out of the store and…they were there.”

“Who was there?”

“They. Them. Four…men.”

Viggo watched as the boy took a deep shuddering breath. It was obvious that he was having difficulty saying the words. After a moment during which no one said anything, though, he continued.

“There were four of them.”

“Can you describe them?”

“They were about my age.”

“Race?”

“White.”

“All of them?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think you could identify them if we show you some pictures?”

Orlando was silent for a moment, obviously considering the question. Then, “I…think I could. Maybe.”
“Alright. We’ll bring some photo books by later. Well, then, you came out of the store and then what?”

Silence, during which everyone waited, wanting to know, but dreading the answer. Even the nurse stood silently by the bed, a look of compassion on her normally stern face.

Then, “I tried to walk past them, but…they kept blocking my way.”

“All of them?”

Small nod. “Yes. They kept taking turns, moving in front of me so…I…I had to keep moving to the side. I couldn’t walk.”

“Okay.”

“Then…then they started pushing me from the side…moving in on both sides…and behind.”

“Did they say anything?”

A quick jerk of brown curls on the stark white pillow.

“Just rude comments.”

“Like what?”

“They…wanted the wine. And…” Deep breath. As Viggo watched, a strange look came over his friend’s face. A look he couldn’t quite identify.

“Yes?”

“They made comments about…about…me. How I looked. How I walked. What…” he stopped, lips clamping shut like a vise, eyes closing again. Viggo sensed they were coming to it—the heart of the matter.

Leaning over the bed, he whispered into the closest ear. “Go on, Orli. Get it out. Tell us everything that happened so the police can help you.”

To his utter amazement, the brown eyes opened and looked straight at him. Then, tentatively, the young man began again.

“They kept saying what they wanted to do with me…to me.”

Officer Gray Hair spoke again, his voice compassionate. Viggo wondered how many horror stories like this these men had heard. How did they do it? How could they continue to do it?

“Mr. Bloom, what did you do then?”

Silence for a moment, then, the words almost poured out of Orlando, as if he felt that by getting them out, once and for all, he could free himself from the horror of his ordeal.

“I got scared. At first I thought they were just kidding around. Joking. I told them to ‘sod off.’ But then…then they got aggressive, angry almost. They kept pushing me and touching me. I…I heard one of them talking to somebody, on a cell phone I think. Before I knew what was happening, they’d pushed me around a corner, off the main street. Into an alley. I was surrounded. I couldn’t get away. I told them I’d give them the wine, my money, whatever they wanted if they’d just leave me alone. Let me go.”

He stopped suddenly and took a deep, shaky breath. Viggo saw tears glistening in his eyes, but they didn’t fall—not yet.

The older officer spoke in a quiet, calm voice.

“What happened, son? What did they do to you?”

Pain-filled eyes moved to where the officer was sitting next to the bed.

“They hurt me.”

The pain in the small, anguished voice cut straight through to Viggo’s heart. Looking around the small cubicle, he could see that it had had the same effect on everyone there. Sean looked like he was ready to cry himself, and even the younger officer silent throughout the proceedings, looked distressed as he listened to the painful narrative.

“What did they do, son?

Looking over at the older officer, Viggo had the sudden urge to scream at him. ‘You know what they did to him!! You saw the medical reports!! Don’t make him relive it!!’

But he knew that the officers had to be told, by Orlando, himself. That didn’t make it any easier to listen to, though. To his amazement, however, the young man began to speak again.

“They pushed me into an alley and…there was a van sitting there. The side door slid open and they shoved me inside—hard. Another guy was driving and he took off. I was…I was on the floor and the other four were sitting around me. On the floor. There were no seats. One of them had taken the bottle of wine and he opened it and started passing it around. They wanted me to drink some and I didn’t want to so they…made me.”

“How did they make you?”

“Two of them held my arms so I couldn’t move. Another one forced my mouth open. I…I spit at him and he punched me. Then he…he poured some of it down my throat. I started coughing and choking and…they just laughed. They thought it was funny.”

“So then what happened?”

“The van finally stopped. I don’t know how long we drove. It finally stopped and the driver came back, too, with the others…with me. He…he scared me.”

“Why?”

“He had a strange look on his face, in his eyes, like…like he hated me. But he didn’t even know me. He knelt down in front of where I was being held and he told me that ‘tonight was my night.’ ‘I was going to pay.’ I didn’t know what he meant. I asked him what I was going to pay for…what I’d done. He just laughed and…hit me. Then…”

He stopped, face going pale in remembrance and Viggo knew, this really was it. For a brief moment, he almost panicked, not sure that he wanted to hear the graphic details of what his young friend had been through. But he calmed himself. If Orlando had the courage to live through it, he would have the courage to listen.

As if recognizing the difficulty the boy was experiencing, the elder officer posed another question.

“Did you say anything? Call for help?”

“Yes!” an anguished sob, torn from the throat. “I tried. I tried. I screamed, told them no, to leave me alone, let me go. But they just laughed. Then the one who’d been driving knelt down in front of me. He grabbed my hair and he…he kissed me. I…I tried to fight, to get away, but the others were holding me too tight. When he finished, I screamed again and the driver told the others to shut me up so he could ‘get down to business.’ One of them shoved a dirty sock in my mouth. I couldn’t breathe. Thought I was going to suffocate.” He trailed off again, terrified eyes staring a speck of something on the ceiling.

“What happened then, son?”

Another sob, this time accompanied by tears. “They were all tearing at my clothes, touching me, hurting me. They tore my clothes off.”

“All of them?”

A jerk of the head which passed as a nod.

“What then? What did they do?”

“They pushed me down so I was lying flat on the floor of the van. Four of them held my legs and my arms and…and…”

Crying in earnest now. Once again, Viggo wanted to wrap the young man in his arms and protect him from everything cruel in the world. He wanted to turn back time. But he couldn’t. Instead, he was forced—out of friendship and concern—to stand here and listen to the horror Orlando had lived through.

Orli continued, brokenly. “The driver, he took his clothes off, too, and he laid down on top of me. He was crushing me. Every time I closed my eyes someone would hit me, said they wanted me to watch. He was touching me, everywhere. It was horrible. I couldn’t move. He kissed me and bit me and…and then…and then…”

He stopped and pain-filled, tear-filled eyes looked over at Viggo, as if in apology.

His heart breaking yet again, Viggo looked through his own tears as he mustered up his most convincing smile. Awkwardly, he squeezed the hand he still held. But the young man wasn’t finished. He was going to see this through to the end.

“It hurt…so much. I didn’t know anything could hurt like that. And I couldn’t even scream. I could only scream inside.”

“Son, did he achieve penetration? Is that what you’re talking about?”

Not taking his eyes off Viggo, Orlando mouthed the word with trembling lips. “Yes.”

But Gray Hair wasn’t finished, and even though Viggo knew the questions were necessary, he resented them, and the officer doing the asking.

“Was this your first time?”

Orlando hesitated, as if unwilling to answer the question. Finally, he did.

“Yes.” Almost inaudible. Viggo closed his eyes for a moment, nearly unable to bear the pain looking at him from the chocolate brown depths. And his mind was working, trying to figure out what…’wait, the doctor had said…’

Then, almost not loud enough to be heard, “I’m sorry.”

His eyes snapped open and he looked at Orlando in confusion.

Shaking his head, he looked the young man straight in the eyes.

“Listen to me. You’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing! You have to believe that.!”

Orlando didn’t look like he was convinced. The tense moment was broken by yet another question.

“What happened next?”

Viggo sighed. Would this never end?

************************************************************************************************************************

Now, two hours later, Viggo was exhausted. Emotionally wrung out. He had listened as Orli—at the officer’s prodding—described the attack in brutal, graphic detail. He had listened in horror as his friend described how each of the five men had taken a turn with him. The pain he felt. The fear he experienced. Five times he’d been raped.

And then again, as each of the men took another turn. And then, listening in dismay, he heard the boy relate how, tiring of their sport, the men had opted to continue the game using different equipment. Viggo listened, horrified, as the recitation continued, describing the wine that was poured over his friend’s body, the bottle that was used to rape him, yet again, followed by a stick his assailants had picked up from somewhere.

And finally, almost with relief, he listened as Orlando told how, finally overcome with fear and pain, he had fainted, only to awaken bruised, injured and confused, in a dark alley. He’d assumed they had pushed him from the van and driven off, leaving him in a crumpled heap, torn clothing thrown on top of him. Listened to the young man tell how he’d forced himself to stand and hurriedly dressed as best he could before getting his bearings and stumbling home, where he’d tried in vain to scrub himself clean. When he finally fell into his bed, it was almost 4:30 in the morning.

Viggo ached with the realization that the young man had been in the hands of those—animals, for want of a better word—for nearly twelve hours. Almost twelve hours of torture and horror and he hadn’t said a word. He’d just gotten up and come to work as usual. That fact alone was testament to the strength and courage of the young man before him.

Finally, with the promise of extracting more information on the van and the assailants later, the nurse called an end to the interview. It was obvious that the patient was out of what little energy he had. As Nurse Parker injected what he assumed was a sedative into the IV line, Viggo watched as the pain-filled eyes slowly closed and—after a brief moment—the beautiful face was at peace once again.

The nurse verified to the police that a rape kit had been done in the ER, though little hope was held out of recovering much evidence. Testing for STD’s, including AIDS, had also been performed and the results were forthcoming. Satisfied, the two officers excused themselves, promising to return soon.

Looking over at Sean, Viggo could tell that he was upset. They were both shaken, horrorstricken as the graphic details of what their young friend had undergone had unfolded. In addition to being worried for his friend, angry at what he had gone through, Viggo was furious at the men who had done this. More than furious, he was enraged. For the first time in his life, Viggo Mortensen knew what it was to want to kill another being.

Chapter Text

With a huge smile on his face, Viggo pulled the curtain aside and moved towards the bed. He was certain that this would cheer his young friend. Something needed to cheer him up. He prayed that this would do it.

After the police had left earlier that morning, Orlando had been visited by the rape counselor, a pleasant middle-aged woman named Candace. Though she tried valiantly, her every question had been met with stony silence. Viggo, who had been allowed to stay, watched witih worried eyes as the normally exuberant young man seemed to actually shut down—as if he was closing himself off from the world around him, including those who loved him.

Finally, Viggo had listened as the counselor assured Orlando that it was okay if he didn’t want to talk today, but that he needed to eventually. And the sooner the better. He listened with a heavy heart as she repeated over and over that the young man had done nothing wrong. He watched silently as Orlando closed his eyes and turned his head away, effectively blocking them both out.

“Don’t worry. That’s normal. He’ll come around.” She seemed pretty confident.

Viggo wasn’t so sure. But now, thirty minutes before visited hours ended, he felt confident they would at least get a smile out of the young man—even an infinitesimal one.

“Orlando…Orlando. Open your eyes. There’s someone here to see you.”

No response, not even curiosity. Oh, well. Holding the curtain back even further, Viggo moved aside to allow Orlando’s mother and sister to enter the small cubicle.

Beanie had picked them up from the airport and filled them in on Orlando’s condition and appearance. Still, even though warned in advance, neither woman could suppress small gasps of anguish upon entering and seeing the young man.

That did it. Although they were almost immediately suppressed, Orlando heard the sounds and recognized the voices. Brown eyes opened cautiously and moved to rest on the two women now standing by his side.

“Mum? Sam?” he whispered, voice quavering and finally breaking.

“Oh, baby,” the older woman cried, leaning over to envelop her son in her arms. The other woman moved forward as well, and wrapped her arms around her mother and brother. Viggo was encouraged by the fact that the young man allowed it—welcomed it.

As he turned to leave them to their reunion and offer them some privacy, Viggo heard what he hoped would be the beginning of the young man’s healing process. Wrenching sobs, torn from the heart. But knowing Orlando was in good hands, and fighting his desire to never leave the young man’s side again, he walked out of the cubicle to join Beanie for a cup of coffee, telling himself all the while that his young friend was in the best possible place—the arms of his family. So why did he feel the stirrings of jealousy? Why did leaving Orlando’s side make him feel so bad? With a last look at the touching family reunion, Viggo exited Orlando’s cubicle and walked down the hall to where Sean was waiting.

 

“So, what’s going on mate?”

“What do you mean?” Viggo knew exactly what Beanie meant, but wasn’t sure that he was quite ready to answer the question at the moment. Instead, he opted for a long swallow of lukewarm hospital coffee as he glanced around the almost empty cafeteria.

“Come on, Viggo. You know exactly what I mean. This is practically the first time you’ve left the boy’s side since this all started. And I can see the way you’re looking at him. You fancy him, don’t you?”

Nearly choking on his mouthful of coffee, Viggo’s mind frantically processed any number of replies. ‘Who me?’ (feigning innocence and surprise). ‘Nah. Just helping out.’ The Good Samaritan approach.

Instead, he surprised himself by simply saying, “yes.”

Beanie chuckled and shook his head. “Don’t look so surprised, Viggo. It’s obvious to anyone who looks.”

“It is?” Spluttering a little.

“Well, we’ve all been concerned about what happened. And for Orlando. But you’ve been here , with him. You haven’t left. And it’s pretty damn clear that you have no intention of leaving.”

“Oh.” What else was there to say.

“Plus the fact that every time you look at the boy, it’s there, in your eyes. It’s written all over your face.”

“It is?” Some actor he was!

“It is.” A pause, during which both men simply looked at each other in silence. Then, “you love him, don’t you Viggo?”

Deciding the time for pretence was past, Viggo merely looked at his friend and responded with a heavy sigh.

“Yes, I do. I don’t know why. I don’t even understand it myself. But there it is. I do love him. I’ve tried to fight it, but…” he trailed off, uncertain how to continue.

“So why fight it? What’s wrong with just feeling it? Hmmm?”

Viggo looked at his friend in surprise.

“Sean. I’m practically old enough to be his father.”

“Oh pish. Love shouldn’t have any boundaries. Age doesn’t matter.”

Viggo chuckled to himself.

“Now you sound like Ian.”

“Well, maybe he’s got the right idea. If you love the boy, let him know.”

“I want to, but…”

“But?”

“But I don’t know if this is the right time. I mean, with everything that’s happened. What he’s been through.”

“Viggo. What he’s been through was horrible. No one should have to go through that. But, he did come through it. He’s alive. And he’s hurting. And he’s going to need someone there to help him through the rest.”

Nodding his head, Viggo gave physical assent to what his friend was saying.

“I know, Sean. And I want to be there for him. I want to be the one. It’s like I can’t make myself leave his side. This is killing me. I…I never knew I could feel like this. I never have before. It was never like this in the past.”

Now that he’d started, it was as if the floodgates had opened and the words and pent up emotions of the last days came pouring out. He couldn’t seem to stop himself. Viggo realized he needed this release. He needed to release his inner turmoil. Understanding, Beanie merely sat quietly, listening to what his friend was—and wasn’t—saying.

“And I’m so…angry about what happened to him. I want to hurt somebody. I…I look at him lying there. So, hurt, so…vulnerable. It’s not the Orlando I know. I hate that they did that. I…I hate them. I want to track them down and hurt them for what they did to Orlando. I really want to hurt them. And that’s not me. That’s what scares me.”

Sean’s eyes were sympathetic as he slowly nodded his head in agreement.

“I know, Viggo. I feel the same way. I want to hurt somebody, too. I think we all do.”

Viggo nodded in understanding, and then listened as his friend continued.
“But you know. His family’s here now. That’s bound to help him.”

“I hope so, Sean. I hope so.” Viggo didn’t sound convinced.

There was another moment of silence, as both men sat lost in their individual thoughts, contemplating the events of the last several days…and all the possible repercussions. Beanie finally broke the silence.

“Ummm…Viggo. There’s something I’ve been wondering about.”

“What’s that?”

“Well…how did the session go with the counselor today?”

Surprised at his friend’s seeming hesitation, Viggo shrugged.
“It didn’t. He didn’t say a word. Wouldn’t respond. Wouldn’t even open his eyes. The counselor said that’s normal, though, for a first session.”

Sean nodded his head slowly, obviously thinking. Viggo had the distinct impression that he wanted to say something, but wasn’t quite sure how to do it. He decided to make it easy for him.

“Is there something you wanted to ask, Sean?”

“Well…yes. There is. Remember when the doctor gave us the information…told us what had happened? The prognosis?”

Viggo nodded. He remembered.

“Yes. Well, do you remember what she asked about his past history?”

The sudden cloud that came over his friend’s expression told the Englishman that Viggo did, indeed, remember.

“When the police asked him if this was his first time…he hesitated. He’s hiding something, Viggo.”

With a heavy sigh born of days of frustration, anger and guilt, Viggo nodded his agreement.

“I know. I noticed it too. But I’m almost afraid to think about what it means.”

It was Beanie’s turn to nod. Viggo continued.

“I mean, what if it means the worst? What if it means this has happened before? What will that do to him? How can someone get past that?”

 

Looking over at his friend, Viggo saw the worry and concern there. He knew that Sean had had the same thoughts. Their ruminations were cut short, though, by the impersonal, monotone voice which suddenly broadcast the fact that visiting hours were ending.

Sean stood and clapped his friend on the back.

“Come on, then. Let’s go say goodnight and bring his mum and sister back to his house.”

Opening his mouth to protest, Viggo was cut short by his friend’s stern look.

“You need to rest, Viggo. At least go home and try to sleep a little. You’ll be of no use to him if you collapse from exhaustion.”

Grudgingly acknowledging the logic of his friend’s statement, the American nodded slowly.

“Alright. Let’s go say goodnight.”

The two men left the cafeteria, side by side.

Chapter Text

“Wow! Nice digs you got here, Orli. Much better than…” Dom trailed off, as if suddenly realizing what he’d been about to say and now uncertain of how to proceed. Silence enveloped the room. But only for a moment.

Billy broke the mood for them all—hobbits, man and elf.

“Pretty popular, I’d say. Look at all these flowers! I almost couldn’t get into the room.”

From his vantage point in the corner, Viggo noticed a slight twitch of Orlando’s lips, but nothing more. Sighing, he turned to look out the window at the glorious day outside. Allowing his thoughts free range, he scoped out the parking lot below the window, looking for Sean’s SUV.

Well, it was a start, anyway. Orli had only been moved out of I.C.U. this morning. Maybe now that he was in a private room they’d see a change in his demeanor. At this point, anything would be an improvement. The boy had a permanent frown etched onto his face, not to mention the look in his eyes—a look Viggo didn’t want to dwell on. Actually, the boy looked like a lost, forlorn puppy dog, all sad eyes and tousled hair. A puppy dog who’d been mistreated and abused—which wasn’t so far from the truth.

Sighing again, Viggo glanced at his watch. Sean should be here with Orlando’s family at any moment. The two women had certainly helped open the young man up the previous night. He hoped it wasn’t a one-time occurrence.

Physically, Orlando was healing. In fact, Dr. Meadows had said he could go home at the end of the week—barring any complications. Mentally…well, that was another matter. The counselor had assured him that Orli’s reaction during this first session had been completely normal. It just bothered him to see the young man hurting so badly. It made him want to protect the boy all the more.

And there was another thing. Dr. Meadows had hinted at some sort of past abuse. And Orlando’s reaction, when questioned by the police, had also suggested that something had, indeed, occurred in the young man’s past. Something that wasn’t good. But what? Well, maybe the young man’s mother could shed some light on that. He was anxious to talk to her.

“No!!!”

Viggo’s attention was drawn away from the view outside to the bed inside…and it’s patient. The patient who had gone from silent and withdrawn to a screaming banshee in a matter or seconds.

All four hobbits were in the process of backing away from the bed—quite hurriedly. Sean Astin was in the forefront, one arm outstretched in front of the others, as if to protect them from the patient’s wrath. If it hadn’t been for the irate young man in the bed, Viggo would have laughed at the confused and shocked expressions on the faces of the four hobbits.

“Sod off!!! Do you hear me???!!! Just sod off and leave me alone!!!”

Not quite sure what had triggered this outburst, Viggo pushed away from his haven in the corner and moved quickly towards the bed, one arm outstretched.

“Don’t touch me!” snarled the boy in the bed.

But Viggo heard the panic beneath the threat. Turning to the others, he nodded his head towards the door, and then proceeded to herd them out into the hallway, nodding as the nurse on duty rushed past them and into the room to see what had happened.

“What the hell was that all about?” Dom.

Elijah. “I just squeezed his shoulder. You know, to let him know we’re here for him.”

“I’m sure your intentions are good, but right now, Orlando needs to feel safe. You violated his personal space.”

The five men looked over at Candace, who had been alerted by the cries coming from room 412.

“But I was just…”

“I know, Mr. Wood. You were just trying to help. And it’s wonderful that Orlando has friends who want to help. Right now, however, that’s not the kind of aid he needs.”

“What do you mean?” Sean Astin.

“I mean, let him be the guide. Don’t push him. Let him progress at his own pace.”

“How?” Billy.

“Think about what he’s been through. A terrible, horrible experience. His world has been slanted. Changed. Completely altered. He needs to feel—to know—that he’s safe again. And it will be a long, slow process for him to get to that point.”

“So what do we do?” Viggo, finally.

“For one thing, don’t automatically assume that a hug or a touch meant to comfort will do that. Not at this point. Think about what brought Orlando here—how he was touched.”

Silence, as the five men mulled this over, took it all in. Then, Viggo repeated his question.

“So what do we do now? Right now?”

Candace smiled at him as she turned to enter Orlando’s room, which was now, thankfully, silent.

“Let him tell you!”

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

“Could I talk to you for a minute? Before you go in?”

Orlando’s mother hesitated, obviously torn between her desire to accommodate Viggo and her desire to see her son, to make sure he was all right.

Samantha solved the problem for them both.

“Go on, mum. I’ll wait for you inside.”

Sonia Bloom inclined her head in acquiescence and followed Viggo down the hall, where he ducked into a small, deserted waiting area. He wasted no time.

“Mrs. Bloom.”

“Sonia, please.”

“Okay. Sonia. I…” Now that he had her attention, Viggo was struck dumb. Although he’d rehearsed this conversation over and over in his mind, no words were coming out now. Realizing his mouth was still hanging open, Viggo snapped it shut. How to proceed?

“Yes, Mr. Mortensen?”

Orlando’s mother couldn’t stop her gaze from travelling through the open doorway to Orlando’s room. She was obviously anxious to join him.

Mentally shaking himself, Viggo gained control of his faculties once more.

“Viggo. Call me Viggo.”

At her nod, he gathered his wits and forced himself to continue.

“Sonia…I care about your son…Orlando. A lot.”

With a slight smile, she inclined her head towards him.

“I gathered that,” she said wryly.

“Yes, well…I care about him a lot and…I…we want him to get well. We all do.”

“Of course. And I’m grateful for that.”

“So, there’s something I want…need to know.”

“Yes? What is it?”

This was the uncomfortable part. Although they weren’t that far apart in age, Viggo suddenly felt like a timid schoolboy trying to talk to the school principal. But Sonia Bloom was waiting expectantly, no signs of disapproval or objection to him or how he viewed her son. Clearing his throat, he forced himself to continue.

“When Orlando was first brought to the hospital, tests were done. The doctor indicated…she said that those tests showed evidence…” he stumbled, unsure how to continue, knowing he needed to just get the words out. The woman’s look of increasing concern didn’t help matters. But he forged on once again.

“She said the tests showed that Orlando had been abused before…sometime in the past. And she said that in order for him to recover, that incident needed to be treated as well as this one. Do you know anything about it?”

With a sinking feeling, Viggo realized she knew nothing. The look of disbelief and shock on her face told him that beyond a doubt.

“What do you mean, abused before? That can’t be.” Her voice was low, constrained, as if she was forcing herself to remain calm and even. The shattered expression on her face spoke otherwise, though, and was mute testimony to her true feelings.

“I don’t know. All Dr. Meadows said was that the scans indicated past abuse. When Orlando spoke with the police he…he didn’t mention any other incidents. He hesitated at one point, though, as if there was something there and he just didn’t want to talk about it. The police didn’t force the issue. But I want to know. I want him to get well and if there is something in his past that could prevent that…”

Viggo trailed off when the distraught woman before him suddenly burst into tears. Unsure for a moment what to do, he finally stepped forward and gathered her in his arms, reckoning that human contact might help. Orlando’s mother hesitated only briefly before leaning into his embrace. Patting her back awkwardly, Viggo mentally assessed the situation.

He now knew nothing more than he’d known before. Except for the fact that Orlando’s mother knew nothing about any past incidents. As his mind worked frantically to decide where to go from here, Mrs. Bloom seemed to pull herself together and moved away from his light embrace. The tears still flowed, albeit slowly, but she had gathered her wits about her and obviously wanted to know what had happened to her son. Studying her surreptitiously, Viggo tried to determine if her reaction was genuine. It seemed to be.

“Mr. Mortenson. What does this mean? Does this mean that my son has been…” she hesitated, as if unable to say the word aloud. Finally, she visibly forced herself to continue. “Does this mean that my son…my baby has been raped before?”

At a loss and feeling very frustrated, Viggo just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what it means.”

“What what means?” Samantha Bloom entered the room, a guarded expression on her face as she took in the agitated expressions and the emotions flowing throughout the room.

Sonia Bloom slowly turned to look at her daughter. Wiping her eyes and inhaling deeply, she asked the question uppermost on their minds.

“Samantha. Mr. Mortenson has just informed me that the doctor’s tests indicate that Orlando has been…that there was…” she trailed off, unable to continue with the painful words. Viggo decided to rescue her.

“Dr. Meadows indicated that Orlando has suffered past abuse.”

“What?”

“The tests revealed scar tissue and the doctor relates it to past abuse. Do you know anything about it?”

Viggo watched as the young woman shook her head in denial, even as her expression spoke otherwise. She was suddenly as pale as a ghost, and even her mother looked at her in sudden concern.

“Samantha,” she asked. “Do you know anything about this?”

The young woman continued to shake her head, an expression of fear in her eyes.

“No, it can’t be. It can’t!”

Her mother moved to encircle her daughter in her arms, pulling her close and hugging her gently.

“Samantha. If you know something, please tell us. It will help Orlando.”

“But mom, I can’t. I promised!”

Chapter Text

Viggo looked at the young woman as she stared at them with a stricken look on her face. She’d turned white as a sheet and shook her head back and forth, as if in denial. It was obvious that she knew something. But what? What was she hiding? And why? Evidently, her mother wanted to know the same thing.

“Samantha. What’s going on? What do you know?”

“I’m sorry, mum. I can’t.”

“You can’t what? What is it? What do you know?”

“Mum. Please don’t ask me. I just can’t talk about it.”

“But what? Why can’t you? If it’s something that can help your brother you need to tell me.”

Samantha hesitated, as if considering, but then shook her head no.

“I’m sorry. It’s not something I can discuss. You’ll have to ask Orli. If he wants you to…well, if he wants to talk about it, he will.” Lips clamped firmly shut. Expression resolute. It was obvious she was going to say nothing more.

Sonia Bloom studied her daughter for a moment but then, realizing she wasn’t going to say anything else, shook her head.

“All right, then. I’ll talk to your brother.”

Viggo found himself releasing a breath he’d never realized he was holding. Maybe now they’d get some answers! He watched as, with a last long look at her daughter, Sonia turned and exited the room. A woman on a mission, she headed straight for her son’s door. Viggo didn’t want to intrude, but how he wished he could be present when she spoke to her son. But, he’d just have to wait…and be patient. Although, at the moment, that was next to impossible. He was ready to jump out of his skin with wanting to know what was going on.

When, with a last look at him, Samantha hurried after her mother, Viggo decided not to be left behind. Trailing after Orlando’s mother and sister, he hovered just inside the door of his friend’s room, while the two women continued on to the bed. Luckily, neither of them minded him being there—they all had a common goal—to find out what had happened to the young man at some point in his past. Viggo watched as Sonia Bloom leaned over her son.

“Orlando, sweetheart, we’re here. How are you feeling this morning?”

A half-hearted shrug was the only response she received, but the woman was not deterred.

“I want to ask you something, and I want you to answer me, all right? It’s very important.”

Orlando finally looked up at his mother, but said nothing, merely listening as she continued.

“Orlando. The doctor…she said…she said this has happened before. Has it?”

Viggo didn’t miss the quick glance the young man threw his sister’s way, nor did he miss the expression of sympathy and, was that apology? she gave him in return. Samantha shook her head so slightly that Viggo almost missed it.

But Orlando said nothing, merely shrugged his shoulders again and shook his head in denial. Eyes downcast, the boy wasn’t looking at any of them. His mother was still not deterred, however.

“Orlando, please. If something happened, tell me. Won’t you?”

Reaching out to grasp her son’s hand, Sonia Bloom couldn’t hide the look of hurt when he pulled away from her, obviously not wanting to be touched.

“Please, son? Orli?”

“ Mum, nothing happened. Now, I just want to rest, okay?”

The young man’s face had turned pale, the bruises standing out in stark contrast to the ashen skin. Orlando closed his eyes and turned away from them as much as he was able to, obviously wanting nothing more to do with the conversation.

The two women exchanged perplexed looks before finally getting up and moving towards the door. With a last look at her son’s huddled form, Sonia Bloom exited the room, followed by her daughter and Viggo.

Once in the hallway and out of earshot, Orlando’s mother turned to her daughter, somewhat accusing.

“Samantha. I want you to tell me what you know about this. Please! It’s important—for your brother.”

Viggo watched the exchange in silence—the mother intense, almost frantic in her need to find out what had happened to her son, the daughter obviously torn between her desire to help her mother and her obligation to keep her brother’s confidence. She was obviously considering the matter intensely.

“Why is it so important that they know?” she asked finally.

“*I * want to know,” her mother replied. “If something happened to my son—your brother—I want to know. I *need * to know.”

Viggo intervened.

“Samantha, Dr. Meadows said it’s very important that they know everything. If something did happen to Orlando in his past, it could influence his recovery now.”

He watched as Orlando’s sister mulled this information over, obviously considering it and thinking hard. Pressing his advantage, he continued.

“Please, Samantha. I…I care about your brother…a lot. And I want to do everything in my power to help him through it.”

He had the attention of both women now.

“Samantha, if you know something that can help your brother, please tell us. Help us to make him better.”

Suddenly finding himself overcome with emotion, Viggo stopped with his plea, blinking his eyes rapidly to keep the tears from falling. Drawing a shaky breath, he unexpectedly felt an arm go round his shoulders, squeezing tight.

Looking down into Sonia Bloom’s own tear-filled eyes, he gave her a small smile, unaccountably warmed by her gesture of comfort and support.

“You really do care for him, don’t you?”

Samantha stared at Viggo intently, as if willing him to answer.

“Yes, I do,” he replied simply. “More than I ever thought possible.”

“Does he know?”

Shaking his head as he rubbed his forearm across his eyes, Viggo responded.

“I don’t know if he does or not. All I know is that right now I just want to be here for him and try to help him through this. After that…we’ll see.”

Pulling away from Orlando’s mother, he looked over at Samantha again as she continued.

“I won’t see him hurt.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” he replied solemnly.

“Yes, well he’s been hurt before by…by people who claimed to care about him…people he trusted.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Viggo could see Orlando’s mother following the interchange with interest. At the same moment, though, they both registered what Samantha had just said.

“What…?”

“When…?”

Inhaling deeply, as if to fortify herself and gather her courage, Samantha looked even more perplexed.

“I promised him! I can’t go back on my word.”

The girl was obviously agonizing over her decision, but Viggo noticed that her resolved seemed to be wavering. He decided to try one last time.

“Samantha, sometimes you have to break a promise to help someone. And that’s okay.”

Pausing for a moment, he watched her reaction before continuing. The girl’s eyes were haunted, her expression torn.

“Please, Samantha. For Orlando. For your little brother.”

He put everything he had into those eight words.

When her mother reached out to encircle her in her arms and draw her close, Samantha Bloom visibly cracked.

Chapter Text

Viggo waited with bated breath, sensing that their answers were just on the horizon—and forthcoming very soon. Gesturing to the two women, he led them down the hall to the secluded waiting room they’d left not long before. Once they were seated, he leaned forward, elbows on knees, and looked at Samantha, silently encouraging her to continue.

The young woman was obviously nervous. Her eyes darted back and forth between her mother and Viggo, and she anxiously licked her lips. Her mother reached out and took her daughter’s hands, squeezing them gently.

“Go ahead, darling. Tell us. Just get it out.”

Nodding slightly, though still appearing a bit uncertain, Samantha licked her lips one last time and opened her mouth, ready to confess.

“Mum. Remember when papa died?”

At her mother’s nod of encouragement, she continued.

“Well, remember how papa’s friend, Uncle Alexander, stepped in to…help?”

Viggo didn’t miss the girl’s slight hesitation, but said nothing, content to let this play out. Her mother, on the other hand, didn’t appear to notice.

“Yes,” she raved. “He was a godsend. You two were so small and we were all hurting so badly. He was so helpful and supportive. And so wonderful to you children.”

“Yes,” Samantha continued. “Well, he wasn’t as…wonderful…as you…we thought.”

“What do you mean?” her mother asked with a slight edge in her voice. She was suddenly very alert.

“Well…” the girl stopped suddenly and her eyes filled with tears she was unable to contain.

“What is it, Samantha?” Mrs. Bloom asked, her voice filled with concern and urgency.

Haunted eyes returned her mother’s worried gaze.

“Mum,” the girl sobbed. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know!”

A look of confusion on her face, Mrs. Bloom reached out to embrace her daughter once again, rocking her slightly.

“What are you sorry for, dear? What didn’t you know?”

Viggo felt a deep sense of foreboding. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know, but felt compelled to listen anyway.

Samantha brushed her tears away angrily, as if she was punishing them for their presence at this inopportune time. Drawing a shaky breath, the girl continued.

“Do you remember the summer Orli was fifteen and Uncle Alexander came to stay? He’d been away—travelling—for the past year. But he was returning to Canterbury and you invited him to stay with us.”

“Yes, I remember.” Her mother encouraged.

“Remember how Orli acted? He didn’t want to be there? Didn’t want to see him? You were angry with him. Told him to stop acting like a child and to be pleasant.”

“Yes, I do remember. He was quite horrible. Wouldn’t listen to reason. But he finally promised to do as I asked and to be pleasant during Alexander’s visit.

Samantha looked stricken.

“He tried, mum. He really did. But the day after Uncle Alexander arrived, I went looking for Orli and…I heard voices coming from his room. Loud voices. I went to the door to knock, but before I did, I heard…things.”

“What kind of things?” Viggo interjected, his voice cold with dread of the knowledge he knew what was coming.

“I…I heard Orli telling Uncle Alexander to leave him alone. To never touch him again. Uncle Alexander just laughed at him…said ‘why ruin a good thing.’ Orli told him he wasn’t four years old anymore…he could take care of himself. And then Uncle Alexander started laughing. But it wasn’t his usual laugh. It sounded almost…evil. I heard scuffling and some noises and then the door was thrown open and Orli ran past me. He was crying. Didn’t even notice me standing there. I called after him, but he ran downstairs and out of the house. Was gone for hours. Uncle Alexander just came out laughing. He left that night.”

“And never came back,” her mother said slowly.

Sonia Bloom had a strange look on her face, as if she knew exactly what her daughter was telling her, but didn’t want to believe it at all. It was too painful to believe.
Viggo also realized what Samantha had been saying—and not saying—and he felt himself go cold with the realization.

When neither he nor her mother said anything, Samantha continued.
“Later, I asked Orli what was going on…what had happened. He wouldn’t talk to me. But when I asked him what Uncle Alexander had to do with it…what he’d done to him…Orli just went white. Told me to leave him alone. I remember reaching out to him and he flinched…didn’t want me to touch him.”

“What happened, Samantha?” her mother asked, voice tight.

Sorrow-filled eyes turned to look at them.

“I don’t know!” the girl wailed, obviously distraught. “Every time I tried to talk to him about it or question him, he got very upset…angry, even. Made me promise not to say anything to anybody about what I’d heard that day. Told me to just forget I’d heard anything.”

She stopped for a moment, as if to regain her composure, but then, unable to do so completely, she rushed on.

“I asked him if Uncle Alexander had hurt him…done anything to him. He almost started crying, but then got angry and told me to drop it. And that’s when I knew. “
“Knew what?” Viggo asked, his anger barely restrained.

“I knew what that…that…*bastard*…had done. I remembered times when you were out, mum, and Uncle Alexander was watching us. He’d take Orli into his room and close the door. Told me to go play in my room. I always did what he said, never questioned him. I actually used to be jealous of Orli because of all the attention he got.”

The girl was openly weeping now, as was her mother, as the truth of what had occurred sunk in. Viggo felt like crying, but couldn’t—not yet. As Orlando’s self-appointed protector, he needed to remain strong.

Samantha wasn’t finished, though. She continued, tears flowing freely. She did nothing to stop them.

“I remember once I crept up to his door to listen…to see what they were doing in there. I was so angry!”

“When was this, Samantha?” Viggo forced himself to ask.

“I was seven,” she replied.

“So Orli was…”

“Five!” Sonia exclaimed. “He was only five! What did you hear, Samantha? Tell me!”

Sniffing, the girl did her best to reply.

“I heard Uncle Alexander telling Orli to relax and to be quiet. And I heard Orli saying ‘no’ and crying. And I heard Uncle Alexander telling him how beautiful he was. He said he was the most beautiful little boy there had ever been. And that made me even more jealous!”

Her mother reached out to embrace her, pulling her into a tight hug.

“It’s all right, dear. You were only seven. Only a little girl.”

But Samantha pulled away, suddenly filled with fury.

“And Orli was only five! I should have helped him…done something. I heard him crying for help and telling Uncle Alexander that he hurt—and I did nothing! All those years I did nothing! But…” she trailed off, too overcome with tears and emotion to continue for a moment. But then, she willed herself to finish.

”But I didn’t know there was anything wrong, for a long time. I just thought it was a game they were playing—and that I’d been excluded. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what…” She could say no more and finally allowed herself to be pulled firmly against her mother, who was also allowing her tears to fall.

“Oh mum! I should have known! I should have helped him! I’m so sorry, mum. It was my job to protect him…and I failed.”

“No, Samantha!” Sonia Bloom said forcefully, trying valiantly to regain her composure and hold on to her tumbling emotions.

“But mum! He was just a defenseless little boy. I should have known what was going on. I’m his big sister!”

“No, Samantha,” she repeated. “*I * should have known. That was my job…” She stopped suddenly, losing her battle to remain composed. “Oh dear God! What have I done?” she wailed.

Viggo watched as mother and daughter clung to each other for support as they cried out their agony and guilt. He, himself, was in shock…numb. Though he’d known *something * had happened in Orlando’s past, he’d never expected anything this bad…this horrible.

Feeling the walls closing in on him and realizing he needed to escape, get some fresh air, Viggo reached out and squeezed Sonia Bloom’s shoulder.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

At her slight nod of acknowledgement, he turned to exit the room and ran straight into Beanie, who was standing just outside the open door. One look at his friend’s face was all Viggo needed to know that he’d heard at least a portion of what was going on. He’d never seen Sean Bean look so pale…or so angry. The expression ‘if looks could kill’ suddenly seemed very appropriate.

Chapter Text

"Sean!"

"Come on, mate. Let's go get a drink."

Viggo allowed himself to be pulled along the corridor, Sean's grip strong on his arm. At the moment, he was too numb to say or do anything. He'd go wherever Sean brought him.

He barely noticed when they left the hospital, nor did it really register when he found himself being pushed into Sean's rental. He remained still as Sean fastened his seatbelt. Was this what shock felt like, he wondered vaguely. And then he realized that it must be.

But he had to remain strong. Even as that thought skittered across his consciousness, he realized that—at this moment—he couldn't. He had been strong through everything that had happened these last few days. Right now–in this moment—he couldn't be strong any longer.

A torrent of emotion overtook him, even as he fought to contain it. He didn't want to cry, not here, not in front of Sean–not ever. But he couldn't help himself. Even as the dam burst, he felt Sean patting him on his shoulder awkwardly, in an attempt to comfort. And though he appreciated it, he couldn't stop the tears.

He cried for everything that had happened Sunday--and since. He cried as images of Orlando flitted through his mind. And he thought of Henry, now and at four and five, just as he knew Sean was thinking of his own daughters.

By the time he was spent, with no tears left to fall, the car had stopped. He had not paid any attention to where Sean was driving, but was surprised to see they'd pulled up in front of Sean's house. He'd half-expected to see the pub he and Sean favored on their nights off. As if he existed in a dream-world, he unlatched the belt and followed Sean out of the car and into the house.

 

An hour and quite a few beers later, Viggo wasn't feeling much better. The events of the last days, plus the information he'd just learned, refused to leave his mind. He felt totally wiped out by grief and sorrow and powerless to do anything about it. But, he felt compelled to return to the hospital--to Orlando. Finishing the beer he held with no small feeling of regret, he struggled to his feet, glancing over at his drinking companion as he did so. While he was feeling the beginnings of a 'beer buzz,' Sean, sitting tense and straight in his favorite chair, appeared to be stone-cold sober.

Viggo looked him over and decided that he'd never seen such an expression of intense anger on anyone's face, let alone his friend's. And with that realization he concluded that he couldn't leave his friend--not like this. Depositing the empty bottle on the table, he made a detour to the kitchen where he grabbed another two brewskies before returning to his chair and sinking into it. Reaching over, he handed one to Sean, who accepted it without a word.

Leaning back into his chair, he took a deep swig. It still didn't help. Looking over at his silent companion, he decided to break the silence.

"So, what do you think?"

Silence.

Viggo continued as if Sean wanted him to.

"About this whole...mess?"

Glittering green eyes looked at him suddenly and he felt himself uncomfortable under the intensity of his friend's look.

"What do I think? Do you want to know what I think?"

Taking another gulp, Viggo nodded.

"Well, Viggo, I think there are a lot of sick bastards in this world, and they're not all punks and criminals. A great majority of them are right here, living among us--esteemed citizens. Putting our lives on the line through our trust in them. Trust that is often misplaced. And I think about my daughters and I want to just hug them and make sure they're all right. And I want to be there forever to protect them from...from everything and everyone.”

Viggo watched as his friend threw his head back and with a vicious gesture poured beer down his throat, as if he was literally trying to drown his sorrows. To Viggo’s eyes, Sean looked even worse than he, himself, felt. Which was pretty bad at the moment. Nodding absently, he silently agreed with his companion.

Then, “I know what you mean. I keep thinking of Henry. And what I would do if something like this had happened to him. I’d want to kill the bastard…anyone…who touched him, hurt him.”

Seeing that he had Sean’s attention, he continued.
“What I don’t understand is, how could someone—anyone—do something like—that—to a child? To anyone, for that matter, but to a *child*??”

Feeling the emotion welling up inside again, Viggo took a deep breath, hoping to forestall it. No such luck. Feeling like a teary-eyed schoolgirl, Viggo sat helplessly as the tears came once again. He didn’t even try to stop them.

“What kind of monster is that man? Who is he?”

Sean just sat and watched, now empty beer bottle hanging loosely in his hand. Didn’t utter a word. But the angry expression on his face told Viggo he was listening to every word that was being said.

“Sean, Orlando was only five years old, maybe four, when that…animal…that monster did…”

He trailed off, unable to continue with the painful words. It was hard enough to think them. To utter them aloud was just too excruciating right now. But he couldn’t get them out of his mind. Like a man drawn to a car wreck—or a bad film—his mind kept playing through the image of a young Orlando. A young boy who’d recently lost his father and was confused. A boy who’d placed his childish dependence in a trusted friend. A beautiful child, he was sure. A beautiful, trusting, innocent child who’d had that innocence and faith ripped away. A soft, melodic voice interrupted his tortured thoughts.

“I know, Viggo. I know. The time for those feelings will come.”

Looking at his friend in confusion, Viggo contemplated what he’d said.

“What do you mean?”

Sean looked him directly in the eye, face and voice more intense than Viggo had ever seen him.

“Viggo. You care for Orlando, correct?”

Nod.

“Then you need to help him now. Don’t wonder why this was done or who this beast is. You’ll have a chance to do that later. Don’t waste your strength on it. Right now, you need to focus your energies on that young man. If he senses your anger, he may misunderstand it and think it’s directed at him. He doesn’t need that. What he needs is your strength and your support. Give it to him.”

Viggo just sat and looked at his friend in awe. Sean was right. He needed—and wanted—to be there for Orlando. Just to be there. There would be time for anger and accusations later—once Orlando was through this ordeal. Decision made, he placed his empty bottle on the coffee table and stood.

“Sean, will you drive me back to the hospital?”

A sharp nod and a firm smile were his only answer.

Chapter Text

On the ride back to the hospital, both men were quiet, engrossed in their own private thoughts regarding everything that had occurred in the last several days, as well as the new information they’d learned earlier that day. It was almost too much to take in at one time. He didn’t know about Sean, but Viggo felt as if he were on sensory overload.

He decided that he was not going to bring up his conversation with Samantha and her mother. Not yet. The time for that would come, but this was not it. No, he was going to be very low-key and leave the pace up to Orli. Now was not the time to bring up the horrible events of the young man’s childhood. He just wanted to be there, by his side. Just…there.

Once they arrived at the hospital, Sean let him off in front, reminding him that he was going over to see PJ and would be back in a couple of hours. Just as Viggo was ready to close the door of the car, he heard his name called. Bending down, he looked through the open car window to see Sean holding up a white paper bag.

“Hey, Vig. Margaret wanted Orlando to have these. Chocolate chip cookies made especially for him.”

Nodding at the woman’s thoughtfulness, Viggo took the bag, eager to get back to Orlando.

Once inside, he hurried upstairs, trying to will the elevator to move faster. Finally, he arrived at Orlando’s floor and exited the elevator, making his way down the hall towards the boy’s room. Samantha, eyes red and swollen, stood just outside the door.

“Hullo, Viggo,” she said, nodding her head towards him.

“Samantha,” he replied.

“Viggo, we…we didn’t say anything to Orli. About what I told you earlier. He has no idea that we know.” Nodding, Viggo agreed that he, too, would say nothing.

************************************************************************

"Hey, you awake?"

Pushing the door open a tiny bit and poking his head through, Viggo looked over at the lone occupant of the room. Though the brown eyes were closed, and there was no response, the older man could tell his friend wasn't sleeping. Stepping softly in full Aragon-in-the-forest mode, Viggo approached the bed.

"I brought you something, but you'll have to open your eyes to see what it is."

One eye twitched ever so slightly, but remained closed. But Viggo had faith, and knew that his offering might bring some much needed cheer to the young man, if he could get him to actually open his eyes and rejoin the world of the living.

Lifting the white bag he carried, he ever-so-slowly held it out until it was just beneath Orlando's nose. He swung it back and forth, listening to the crinkling sound the paper made as it dangled from his fingers like a pendulum. Momentarily, Viggo caught a whiff of the contents and held the bag even closer to the young man--almost touching.

"Mmmmm...doesn't that smell good?"

Finally, success. Brown eyes opened slowly and gazed up at him with an expression somewhere between exasperation and anger, with just a hint of curiosity thrown in. All Viggo saw, however, was the look--quickly hidden--of fear and sorrow.

That was the look that cut straight to Viggo's heart and made him want to wrap the young man in his arms and protect him from all the unpleasant things in the world around them. Hopefully, he’d get his chance to do just that. Now, though, the expressive brown eyes were open and the patient was fully aware.

“Aren’t you curious?” Viggo asked with a slight smile.

A half-hearted shrug, although the older man could see the boy eyeing the bag curiously.

“Well, Margaret in the mess tent sent these especially for you. Made them for you, in fact. Said they were your favorites.”

No move was forthcoming towards the bag, although Viggo could see Orlando’s eyes following its movement as it swung back and forth in front of his face. With a small smile, Viggo let go and watched the bag fall into his friend’s lap.

“Go ahead. Dig in. The doctor said it’s all right.”

Looking up at the older man, Orlando hesitated, then reached down and opened the bag. Peering into it, he allowed a tiny smile to flit across his face, ever so briefly. It warmed Viggo’s heart to see the expression linger for a moment before disappearing. He watched with pleasure as Orlando lifted the bag to his nose and inhaled deeply, the smile returning to his face once more. Viggo chuckled to himself. Margaret’s chocolate chip cookies did have that effect on people—especially Orlando. They were his absolute favorite.

Reaching in, Orlando pulled out a mouthwatering, melt-on-your palate, chocolate chip cookie-made especially for him by Margaret. Viggo watched with pleasure as the boy's mouth quirked in a small smile as he contemplated the chocolate chip wonder he now held in his hand.

"Margaret made these for me?"

"Yep. Just for you."

Viggo allowed himself to smile as he looked down at his friend, who was—finally—looking back at him, a look of confusion on his face.

"But why? Why would she do that?"

"What do you mean, why?"

"Why would she go to all that trouble? For me?"

Viggo chuckled. Orlando was oblivious to the effect he had on people. He honestly had no idea how many people cared about him, and he found that especially endearing.

Shaking his head slightly, he replied, "Because she cares about you. Said you remind her of her son. And..." Viggo hesitated to continue, but did nevertheless. "And she wanted to cheer you up. Make you smile. She said that it's about time you did that again."

The younger man nodded as he nibbled an edge of the chocolate delight. Then, without warning, he looked up at the older man, an intense expression on his face, and asked the question Viggo had been expecting—and dreading.

"Why are you here?"

"What do you mean?" Playing dumb. He was a master at it.

Orlando looked him directly in the eye, seeming, for the moment anyway, more like himself than he had since this whole nightmare had begun.

"I mean, why are you here? Now? Yesterday. Today. Every day since..." he trailed off, seemingly unable to continue, but Viggo knew exactly what he meant, and found his stomach churning because of it.

The older man's mind whirled as he wondered frantically how much to say...decided to start slow...very slow.

"I wanted...I wanted to be here."

"But why?" Orlando wanted more.

"Because..." Viggo suddenly found himself at a loss for words. Very uncharacteristic for him. Momentarily, he wondered what to say, how truthful he should be. Not knowing how Orlando felt, he didn't want to upset the young man's delicately balanced equilibrium even more than it already had been. At the same time, though, he wanted to be totally honest with the young man. He really didn't want to hold back. Taking a deep breath, he decided to take the plunge and see what would happen.

Looking deeply into Orlando's eyes in an effort to garner his full attention, he took another deep breath and blurted out his answer.

"Because I care about you...for you. I want to be here for you because I care about you a lot."

There, that wasn't so hard. But then Viggo was taken aback when Orlando laughed softly, but it was not a sound of happiness. Rather, to Viggo's ears, it was a sound of deep self-loathing.

"You should probably find someone else to care about, Viggo."

Gazing at the downcast eyes and forlorn expression on his companion's pale, bruised face, Viggo asked in confusion, "why would you say that?"

"Because...I'm just not worth it."

The older man had to strain to hear the last words and when he realized what Orlando had actually said, he looked at the boy in bewilderment.

"What do you mean, you're 'not worth it'?"

Small shrug, barely noticed. Small voice, barely heard.

"I'm just not. That's all."

Viggo leaned down in an effort to get closer to the young man, pulling back slightly when Orlando moved away almost imperceptibly.

"What would make you say that? Surely you don't believe that." He tried again.

Small shrug.

"What's changed since Sunday night?"

Orlando finally looked up at him, an expression of disbelief on his face.

"How can you say that? Everything's changed!"

The last word was almost choked out and Viggo could see that the younger man was fighting back tears. The chocolate brown eyes were filled, but not yet overflowing.

Viggo hesitated only a moment before moving to sit on the side of the bed. Again, Orlando stiffened visibly, but this time didn't try to move away. The older man breathed a sweet sigh of relief, but made no further move towards his friend. He wanted to, though.

"Orlando," he said, keeping his voice as gentle as possible, "nothing has changed."

He forged ahead when the boy started to shake his head.

"Nothing has changed. You're still the same person you were Sunday, and the day before, and always."

When he saw that he had his friend's attention and was not going to be interrupted—for the moment, anyway—he took a deep breath and continued.

"You're Orlando Bloom—my friend—and someone I care about very deeply. Nothing that could happen would ever change that."

When Orlando started to shake his head in denial once again, Viggo shushed him, shaking his own head.

"No, Orlando. It's all right. You're going to be all right...and I'm going to be right here beside you...all the way."

"But...Viggo...you just don't know...I'm..."the young man's voice was full of anguish and he trailed off, falling silent.

Suddenly alert, Viggo listened carefully, hoping to discover a little more of the boy's past...more than he knew already. But nothing more was forthcoming. Deciding to try again, Viggo continued.

"Orlando. I want to be there for you. Will you let me?"

Unconsciously holding his breath, he waited for an answer.

Chapter Text

Viggo watched and waited, unconsciously holding his breath, as the young man seemed to contemplate what he’d just said. He hoped Orlando would agree, because regardless of what the young man said, Viggo wasn’t going anywhere. Finally, dark, haunted eyes looked up to meet his. Dark, unruly curls bounced slightly as the young man shook his head back and forth slowly.

“Viggo, you just don’t understand.”

The older man moved forward deliberately and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to take two cold hands in his. He ignored the slight flinch as he did so, but loosened his grip, nonetheless.

“Orlando,” he said, keeping his voice low, but firm. “What I understand is that you are a wonderful young man who’s been through a terrible, horrible experience. Something the rest of us couldn’t even imagine. But you’ve come through it. And nothing’s changed. You’re the same wonderful young man you have always been. You haven’t changed in here,” he gently touched Orlando’s chest, just over his heart, “where it counts. And anything else can be taken care of.”

He paused, watching his friend carefully for any signs of acceptance. Any sign that his words were sinking in. Orlando sat as if frozen, tears welling in his eyes. His head shook just a little, as if he was still unable to accept the idea that he could be wanted. When he opened his mouth as if to respond, Viggo shushed him with a finger to his lips.

“It’s okay, Orlando. Everything’s going to be all right. You’re not alone in this.”

The young man pulled back, and the tears were now trickling down his face, mute testimony to his frame of mind.

“Viggo, you just don’t know. I…I…”

Viggo watched the boy struggling to get the words out and his heart nearly broke. And he wondered, and wrestled with himself. Was this the time? Should he tell Orlando what he knew? Right now, he didn’t know if that would do more harm than good. And he was unsure that it was even his place to bring it up. But his friend’s next words helped him make his decision.
The curls bounced once again as Orlando shook his head back and forth.

“I've always been alone. You don't know the real me, none of you do. If you did...if you knew what had…” he clamped his mouth shut, as if realizing he’d almost revealed too much. His eyes darted up to Viggo and then down again, nervously, his hands twisting the sheet on his lap.

Viggo leaned forward again, reaching for and finally grasping the fluttering hands, being mindful of the IV’s. Squeezing them gently in what he hoped was a reassuring manner, he looked directly into the distraught eyes.

“Orlando. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. To me or anyone else.”

“But…”

“No. It *doesn’t* matter. All any of us want to do is help you to deal with this. We want you to get better. Whatever happened before *doesn’t matter!*”

“But…you don’t…you just don’t…”

Viggo watched sympathetically as Orlando struggled to express himself, and failed. The time had come.

Mustering all his strength and courage, for he had a feeling he would need both, Viggo took a deep breath and plunged in.

“Orlando. I know.”

For a moment, there was no reaction from his companion, who just sat and looked at him, tears continuing to fall silently, expression tortured.

“I *know*, Orli, and it’s all right.”

The brown eyes widened and Viggo heard a quick intake of breath. He felt Orlando try to pull his hands back, but squeezed a little tighter, not wanting to lose the contact.

“Know?” A tremulous voice asked. “What do you know?”

“I know what happened when you were young. With your Uncle Alexander. I know what he did. And it wasn’t your fault.”

Orlando was a statue, frozen in place. Eyes wide and damp, an expression of horror on his face. And then Viggo heard it—a low keening sound, so quiet he almost didn’t hear it at first. He realized it was Orlando, who was sitting absolutely still. But only for a moment. Before before he could even comprehend what was happening, the hands he held were jerked away, an IV needle ripping out in the process. But Orlando was oblivious.

Viggo watched in consternation as the young man wrapped his arms around himself and began to rock back and forth, as best he could in the hospital bed. The keening sound continued, rising in intensity slightly. Reaching out, Viggo attempted to still the young man, to gather him into his arms. He was unsuccessful. Finally, he leaned over so he was looking directly into his friend’s eyes, though he wasn’t sure at this point that Orlando even saw him.

“Orlando. Listen to me. It’s all right. Everything’s going to be all right.”

No reaction. Just rocking and keening.

“Please, Orli. Look at me. You’re going to be all right. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to get you help. You’ll get through this. You’ll see. And I’m here. I want to be here…for you. I want to help.”

Viggo stopped, realizing he was babbling, but becoming increasingly concerned by his friend’s reaction. The keening continued, unnerving him even more. Reaching out, he tried to grasp the boy’s arms and hands, pull them down.

He was unprepared for the reaction. The keening sound stopped suddenly, only to be replaced by a shrill, drawn-out scream. The extremities he’d been attempting to grip were suddenly like windmills, battering at him, pushing at him, hurting him. Viggo tried valiantly to grab hold of the flailing hands and arms, but to no avail. It was a battle he couldn’t win.

And then, without even having heard the door open, he had help. Another pair of hands was there, reaching for Orlando, attempting to stop the frenzied movement before someone got hurt. Looking up, Viggo smiled at Sean as he tried to help calm the young man. Finally, after what seemed an eternity but was actually only a moment, the two men were each able to grab hold of a hand and bring the arms down to Orlando’s side. All three were breathing heavily, though Orlando continued to scream between gasps. Then, a moment of silence as the young man seemed to lose all his energy suddenly.

Just as Viggo opened his mouth to offer a word of comfort, Orlando began to scream again, struggling to get his arms free from their grasps. But this time, the men heard more than the high-pitched wail. The sound tore through the room, out into the corridor and straight into Viggo’s heart.

“Nooooooooooo….”

Both men were suddenly pushed aside as the medical personnel streamed into the room, assessing the situation and taking over. The IV line was reattached and Viggo watched as what he assumed was a sedative was injected.

Moving back against the wall, the Dane sighed, trying to calm his breathing and running a trembling hand through his hair as he watched the medical personnel try to soothe the young man in the bed as they waited for the sedative to take effect. Beside him, he could hear Sean also attempting to breathe normally.

Finally, near silence and stillness from the bed. They watched as Orlando’s eyes, which had been wide with horror, every so slowly drifted shut. They observed the tension leave his limbs as he finally relaxed. His breathing evened out. He was asleep. Both men heaved a sigh of relief.

Viggo, however, was not totally relieved. He had a feeling he’d just made a bad situation worse.

Chapter Text

Silence filled the room as the nurse, technician and physician released their patient and stepped away from the bed. The sedation was doing its job--Orlando was out cold. As they exited the room, the nurse and technician nodded briefly to the two men standing by the wall. The doctor, however, didn't leave. With a last look at his patient, he came to stand in front of Viggo and Sean, looking at them questioningly, evidently wanting to know what had brought on the outburst.

"You are?" the physician asked, indicating the two men.

Beanie responded first.

"I'm Sean Bean and this is Viggo Mortensen. We're good friends of Orlando's. We care about him."

Looking at the nameplate--Chambers--Viggo took a deep breath, gathering his rattled thoughts together before speaking.

"What happened?" the man inquired, raising a hand to scratch at his graying head. His kindly face held an expression of genuine concern.

Sean was quiet, listening intently, obviously wanting to know the same thing. Shaking his head, Viggo spread his hands and shrugged his shoulders. He was hesitant, not wanting to reveal too much, but desirous of giving the physician enough information to help Orlando.

"We were...talking. He just got upset and...well, you saw what happened."

Dr. Chambers nodded slowly, but was obviously not satisfied with Viggo's explanation.

"What were you talking about? What was it that got him so upset?"

Looking over at Sean, who was gazing at him with understanding, Viggo opened his mouth...closed it. He didn't know what to say. How much? How little? Finally, his mind a mass of confusion, he made his decision. Clearing his throat, he began.

"Dr. Chambers...umm...well, when Orlando was brought in on Monday, we were told that scans revealed some sort of past abuse. I discovered some of the details of that abuse earlier today. Then, Orlando and I were talking...or I was trying to talk. He kept telling me that he was worthless, not worth anything, that if I really knew about him I wouldn't want anything to do with him. I...I told him that I knew what had happened to him earlier..."

"What did happen to him?" Chambers interjected.

"He was molested, for years, by a family friend. I don't know all the details, but it sounds like it began when he was four or five and continued for nearly ten years."

When the doctor nodded, a look of sorrow on his face, Viggo continued.

"That's all I know, really. I only told Orlando that I knew what had happened with the man and he became hysterical."

"All right, then. Thank-you for sharing that," Chambers said. "I'll make sure his counselor has this information. She may want to speak with you, if that's all right?"

Viggo nodded affirmation.

"Dr. Chambers...I'm sorry. I didn't mean...I didn't know..."

The doctor held up a hand, forestalling any further apologies.

"It's all right. You had no idea he would react this way. He's just had more than he can handle and he...reacted. It's a form of self-preservation, in a way. The mind just shuts down...closes off when it's on overload."

Sean finally spoke. "Is he going to be all right, doctor?"

Chambers paused, obviously considering his answer carefully.

"I hope so. In situations such as this, a lot depends on how well the patient responds to therapy. And that, in turn, depends on how actively the patient participates in therapy. In Mr. Bloom's case," gesturing to the silent figure in the bed, "he not only has to deal with the current assault...rape...he also must deal with the fact of his past abuse."

Seeing the concerned, almost frightened expressions on the faces of the two men, he concluded.

"In short, much of Mr. Bloom's recovery will depend on his acceptance of his past as well as the present. But there are people who are trained in this field...people who will help him get through this."

"Dr. Chambers," Viggo began. "What can we do to help him?"

"Be there for him. Let him know that you're there and that you care about him. Convince him that he hasn't changed...he's the same person he's always been. But mainly...just be there."

"Aye," Sean said, nodding his head thoughtfully. "We can do that."

"Can and will," Viggo affirmed.

"All right, then," Chambers said. "He'll be asleep for several hours. I'm on duty until midnight, so I'll see you later."

Nodding to the two men, who nodded back, he exited the room, letting the door close slowly behind him.

Throwing his head back and exhaling loudly, Viggo tried to gain control of his emotions, which were currently running the gamut. Feeling a warm hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently, he looked over at his companion, giving him a small, forced smile.

"Thanks, Sean, for being here. For everything."

"It's no problem, mate. That's what friends are for. And I care for the lad, as well. You know that."

Nodding slowly, Viggo smiled a genuine smile this time.

"Yes, I do know that."

Silence for a moment as both men contemplated what had just transpired and what was yet to be. Finally, Sean gave his shoulder one last squeeze and inclined his head towards the door.

"Come on, Viggo. Let's go get a cup of tea...well, coffee, for you."

With one last look at the boy slumbering peacefully in the bed, Viggo followed his friend out the door, only to find himself face to face with Sonia Bloom and her daughter. Orlando's mother looked distraught, as if she'd just been given the worst news in the world, which, considering the past several days, wasn't far from the truth, Viggo thought. Seeing him, she stopped where she was and just looked at him for a moment.

Then, "Viggo. Sean. I want to speak with you. Please, come with me."

Without waiting to see if they were following, she turned and made her way to the waiting room they'd left several hours before. Once there, she turned to face the two men, crossing her arms across her chest. Without preamble, she asked abruptly,

"I want to know what you said to Orlando."

Taken aback by her suddenly brusque manner, Viggo didn't answer immediately. Sean stood by his side, silent, but taking it all in, as was Samantha.

"I met Dr. Chambers on my way in. He told me what happened with Orlando--how upset he got. He told me you were with him when it occurred--that you were talking to him, telling him about the past, and what happened to him."

The woman was angry, and how angry was becoming more evident by the moment. Viggo stood, dumbstruck and totally unable to defend himself, as he watched what was quickly turning into a rant.

"It was not your position to do that. That was my job. I'm his mother. Who are you? A co-worker? That doesn't give you the right to interfere with my family."

This last was uttered like ice and Viggo glanced quickly at Sean, seeing that the other man was as confused as he was by the sudden change in demeanor. Spreading his hands in a placating manner, he attempted to make her understand.

"Sonia..."

She cut him off, her voice sharp as a knife.

"Mrs. Bloom to you."

Drawing a deep breath, Viggo struggled to control his rising temper...and his fear.

"All right. Mrs. Bloom, I'm sorry. I never meant..."

"You never meant! Well, did you ever stop to think that maybe I didn't want him to think about that! That maybe I wanted to find out more about what happened before even mentioning it to Orlando? Hmmm? We don't know what happened all those years ago! How do we even know anything happened?"

This last drew a shocked look from Samantha, who said nothing but eyed her mother warily.

"Now wait a minute..." This from Sean, who found himself cut off by Orlando's mother.

"No, you wait a minute. Orlando needs to recover from this and he needs peace. He doesn't need to be upset by his so-called friends!"

"Wait..." Viggo jumped in valiantly. "Mrs. Bloom, why are you doing this?"

The woman drew herself up, squaring her shoulders and looked him straight in the eyes.

"I'm protecting my son, Mr. Mortensen. I would think you'd understand that. Now, as I said, Orlando needs peace and he's going to get it. He doesn't need any reminders of what happened to him. Please stay away!" Her voice dripped ice. She was unbending, inflexible.

Viggo's heart plummeted even as his breathing increased. He was right to have felt fear!

"What...what do you mean, stay away?" he spluttered, feeling his entire body going cold as horror and terror crept through him.

"Just what I said. Stay away. I don't want you near my son!"

Chapter Text

“What…what do you mean ‘stay away from him’,” Viggo asked, almost in a panic.

“Just what I said, Mr. Mortensen. I don’t want you near my son. Because of you and your meddling…” she stopped for a moment, and Viggo watched as she visibly tried to calm herself. She tried again. “Because of your …*conversation* with my son, I’ve been informed that he is now being moved—to the psychiatric ward!”

Viggo just looked at her, dumbfounded.

“The psychiatric ward! My son doesn’t belong up there! There’s nothing wrong with him that a little time won’t mend. Time and family. And now, thanks to you, that option has been eliminated!”

Viggo was so astounded by the woman’s accusations and change in demeanor that he barely registered Samantha pulling on her mother’s arm, a pleading expression on her face. Or the words, barely heard.

“Mum, no. Please, no. This isn’t right.”

But Sonia Bloom was having none of it. It was obvious that her mind was made up. She needed someone to blame and Viggo was chosen.

Reaching out in an attempt to pacify, and perhaps console, the Dane tried one last time.

“Mrs. Bloom. Please, listen to reason…” He never got to finish his sentence and realized he’d said the wrong thing as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

The woman whirled on him, hate on her face and venom in her voice.

“Don’t even talk to me. I don’t want you anywhere near this hospital—or my son. Go away!”

Time stood still and Viggo realized he couldn’t breathe. He also realized someone else was talking—Sean. The Dane stood in a daze, barely registering the fact that his friend had taken up the battle.

“Now Mrs. Bloom, listen to reason, please. Why are you blaming Viggo? He’s done nothing. He has Orlando’s best interests at heart—as do we all.”

Dimly, Viggo grasped the fact that Sean had gotten farther than he had; he had not yet been cut off by the irate woman before them. He listened from a deepening fog as Samantha jumped into the mix.

“Mum, he’s right. Viggo was only trying to help. He doesn’t want to hurt Orli.”

Sonia Bloom rounded on her daughter, her anger still evident.

“Well, he has hurt him, hasn’t he?”

Nobody said a word as she fixed her gaze on each of them, one at a time. Out of the corner of his eye, Viggo saw Samantha wilt visibly, dropping her eyes to the floor, shoulders sagging in defeat. He, however, refused to be cowed and raised his gaze to meet hers head on when it was his turn to be scrutinized. Beanie also stood tall and firm. Realizing that neither man was willing to admit defeat easily, Sonia drew herself up for one last barrage.

“The fact of the matter is that my son would not be moving to the psychiatric ward had you not meddled where you don’t belong. Stay out of our business, Mr. Mortensen. You too, Mr. Bean. As a matter of fact, I don’t want any of you lot from that…that *movie* near my son. Stay away, all of you!

Turning on her heel, she exited the room, Samantha following behind her reluctantly. Just before she disappeared from view, the girl glanced back over her shoulder at the two men, a look of apology in her eyes. And then they were gone, leaving two stunned men behind them.

Determined not to let it end like this, Viggo was three steps into following them when he felt a hand grasp his arm, stopping him in his tracks. Whirling to face his friend, Viggo was met with a compassionate gaze tempered with British determination.

"Sean, I..."

"Come on, Viggo. Let's go."

Looking at his friend in disbelief, Viggo shook his head, indicating his reluctance to leave. He felt Beanie's grasp lessen and finally let go, indicating his friend's trust in him not to follow the two women.

"No, Sean. I can't. I have to do something...to make this right."

"No, Viggo. You've done nothing wrong. You know that, or at least you should."

"But, Sean, if I hadn't talked to Orli, reminded him of what happened to him..."

"It might not have made any difference," the Brit concluded for him.

"He was all right before I spoke with him, before I brought up all those bad memories."

Beanie shook his head, a look of sorrow on his face.

"No, Viggo. He wasn't all right. He was far from all right."

"But, Sean..."

"Viggo! You heard what the doctor said the day Orli was brought in. She pretty much verified the fact that something happened to that boy. And his sister just backed up the fact that something happened--something bad. Your putting it into words doesn't change the fact that he went through something horrible, something terrible."

Seeing his friend shaking his head in denial, Sean reached over and squeezed his shoulder.

"It's okay, Viggo. It's going to be all right."

"What if he didn't remember, and I made it all come back to him by bringing it up? Maybe she's right."

Sean nodded.

"Maybe she is. But maybe she isn't. Either way, something very traumatic happened to him and he needs to deal with it."

Viggo found himself deflating. He realized that Sean was right and that Orlando’s mother needed time to calm down—time to think. And then, hopefully, she’d see reason. Nodding slowly, he looked at his companion and gave him a lopsided smile.

“Come on. Let’s go get some tea.”

A cocky grin answered him, as Sean responded, clapping him on the back.

“Well, that’s the best offer I’ve had all day. Come on. Let’s go draw up our ‘battle plan.’

Feeling strangely comforted, Viggo allowed his smile to widen. Maybe everything was going to be okay after all.

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

Darkness surrounded him as he fought his way out of the fog and up towards consciousness. Everything felt so heavy; each and every movement a struggle. One of the first things that registered in his muddled brain was the fact that his arms were sore as if…as if he’d been fighting or something. But that couldn’t be. He was in the hospital. Raising his hand to rub at his aching head, he realized in alarm that…he couldn’t. His arm wouldn’t move.

Attempting to move the other one he realized he couldn’t lift it, either. What was going on?

Forcing his eyes open, Orlando glanced around the dim room, taking in everything--the stillness, the gloomy lighting, the bars on the side of his bed and…the straps surrounding his wrists?

* What the…why…*

Trying not to panic, he concentrated on slowing his suddenly accelerated breathing, while at the same time trying to figure out why he was strapped to the bed. And then it hit him…everything came crashing down on him as he remembered it all in agonizing, infinite detail.

Viggo’s words, his comments regarding the past. His own violent reaction. Hands holding him down--again. Hands keeping him from moving, from getting away from the pain--again. Screams. Someone had screamed and screamed. Oh, it had been him. He had done that. And then, the blessed relief of oblivion as a doctor or someone had sedated him. Finally, awareness was gone, to be replaced by a feeling of nonexistence as he lost consciousness.

Now, looking around the unfamiliar room, Orlando felt panic rising up inside himself, but fought valiantly to control it. He couldn't lose control. Not now! Closing his eyes, he breathed deeply. In...out. In...out. There, it was a little better. At least his heart didn't feel like it was going to beat right out of his chest anymore. In...out. In...out. Cracking one eye a bit and seeing that nothing had changed from two minutes ago, he snapped it shut again. In...out. In...out. Finally, he started to feel a bit calmer. He no longer felt as if the room was closing in around him.

And then he heard it...a low moan, or wail, he wasn't sure which. He wasn't even sure where it came from. But before he could try to pinpoint the source, the sound was cut off quite abruptly--mid-wail. That, more than anything else, filled him with terror.

"V...V...Viggo?" he asked in a small, trembling voice. Nothing. "Mum?" Silence.

Forcing his eyes open once again, he looked around, taking in his surroundings. Still a hospital room but...different, somehow. Instead of bright, cheery sunshine flooding in the window there was murky dimness. No windows. No sunshine. No light. Just darkness. Focusing on the empty chair at the end of the bed, Orlando realized with despair that he was alone. No visitors. No Mum. No Samantha. No Viggo. No anyone. He was alone, in the silence and the darkness.

But then he heard another sound. Not a wail this time, but a genuine scream. And then he knew! He knew where he was. And he knew that he didn't want to be here...not now, not ever! He had to get out of here. But to do that, he had to free his wrists. Yanking as hard has he could with his right arm, he pulled on the strap.

Putting every ounce of energy he still possessed, he pulled and pulled. The strap was taut, rubbing against and chaffing his skin, but still he pulled, desperate to break free. Just as he was sure the veins in his neck were going to burst, the door to his room opened, admitting a physician, followed by an orderly. He stopped in mid-pull, his right arm still elevated, strap pulled taut. Watching the two men warily, he said nothing as they advanced on him.

"Well, Mr. Bloom. I see you're awake."

The doctor got no response, but it didn't seem to bother him, nor did the screams which continued to fill the air from somewhere beyond this room.

"I'm Dr. Hammond, and this," gesturing to the middle-aged man beside him, "is Mr. Wells."

Orlando surveyed them both, listening, but still said nothing. He did, however, lower his arm.

"You've been moved, Mr. Bloom. Because of your outburst earlier, you've been moved to the...ah...the *special* ward. You're going to remain here for a few days until we make sure that everything is okay. That you're able to handle things."

Suddenly...silence, as the screaming suddenly stopped. Seeing his patient's panic-stricken eyes widen and look towards the door, the doctor chuckled.

"It's all right, young man. You'll get used to that. Won't hurt you, even though I know it's a bit intimidating. Especially at first."

Orlando returned his gaze to the man who was speaking.

"Why...why am I here? I don't belong here."

Dr. Hammond chuckled again, a little louder this time.

"Young man, no one thinks they belong here. In your case, you were moved up here because of your violent outburst earlier today."

Seeing his patient's look of confusion, he clarified.

"You were screaming? Took two grown men to hold you down before they could administer a sedative? Ring a bell?" He waited, smiling slightly.

Orlando remembered it all, very clearly. Too clearly. He didn't want to remember any of it, nor did he want to remember the reason it had occurred. Sighing, he wished briefly that it was possible to go back in time...to erase certain incidents and start over. If only it was, he would erase this entire day...no, this entire week...actually, his entire life. But that wasn't possible, unfortunately, so he would just have to live with the results.

As if from a great distance, he heard a voice, asking him a question, pestering him.

“Mr. Bloom. Do you remember any of that? Mr. Bloom?”

Snapping himself out of his reverie, Orlando focused once again on the man beside him. He nodded, although it was such a small nod that it was almost imperceptible.

“Yes, I remember,” he replied, voice low and subdued. “How long do I have to stay here?”

For some strange reason—strange to Orlando, anyway—that brought a grin to the doctor’s face. The man chuckled again. Orlando found that to be very irritating; he didn’t know why. It just was.

“Well, young man. In reply to your question, how long you stay here depends on you and you alone.”

Orlando looked at him, his brow furrowed in confusion.

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean, is that you need to cooperate. You need to try to get well. If you do that…we’ll see.”

“But I do want to get well. I am trying!” The young man spluttered, frustration evident in his voice and on his face.

Dr. Hammond shook his head, a smile overlaid by concern apparent in his eyes.

“I have it on good authority that you won’t even talk to the counselor.”

‘Oh, well, there was that.’

Orlando shrugged as best he could while lying down with his wrists restrained. The good doctor wasn’t finished.

“How about you talk to the counselor? Think you can do that? After that…well, we’ll see.”

Talk to the counselor? That was the last thing he wanted to do. But, it looked as if he had no choice. Inhaling deeply, the young man nodded. He was just going to have to make the best of it.

Chapter Text

VIGGO

“Why can’t I see him?”

“Sir, I’ve explained it to you already. You are not authorized to see the patient.”

A hand on his shoulder was all that kept Viggo from storming past the drill sergeant masquerading as a nurse.

Glancing over at Sean, Viggo attempted to control his rising temper.

Deep breath. In…out. In…out.

Calm once more, and feeling Sean’s hand slip away, he turned his attention back to the nurse and forced one of his most charming smiles.

“Nurse…Mills. Please. We all want to help Orlando. Don’t you think being with his friends would help him feel better? Instead of being alone, isolated from everyone? Please?”

Holding his breath, he awaited her response. She seemed to be considering it. But then, shaking her head, she replied.

“I’m sorry, sir. The rules are the rules and I don’t make them. Your name is not on the list of approved visitors. In fact, your name is specifically listed as one who cannot visit.”

They have a list for that? Viggo wondered briefly, as his shocked gaze followed the woman. Did she look apologetic as she handed out this death sentence? Viggo couldn’t be sure.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Mortensen.”

Yes, she was. Okay, well, maybe she wasn’t a drill sergeant, but she was sure close to it.

Exhaling slowly, Viggo looked over at Beanie, who was standing patiently by his side, as if awaiting further orders. Well, it was time for “Plan B.” Of course, he hadn’t really had a “Plan A,” but it sounded good and fit the situation. Okay. Time to regroup, get thoughts in order. Time to come up with a battle plan. As far as he was concerned, this was war!

“Come on, Sean. Let’s go.”

 

CANDACE

“All right, Mr. Bloom. How are you doing today?”

“Orlando.”

“Excuse me?”

“You can call me Orlando.”

“Okay, Orlando, how are you feeling?”

A shrug of the shoulder was the only response.

Candace regarded her patient as he sat silently in the bed. She noticed the chafe marks on his wrists, no doubt caused by him pulling on the restraints which had, thankfully, been removed prior to their session. She also took in the still pale face, bruises just beginning to fade, expression sullen and troubled. Sighing deeply, she settled back in her chair, ready for the siege.

When ten minutes had passed, however, with no further sound coming from the bed, she figured it couldn’t hurt to interject—just a little. Leaning forward a bit, hands clasped loosely between her knees, she spoke, her voice soft in the hush of the room.

“How are you coping with things? With what happened?”

Still no verbal response, but she didn’t miss the nearly imperceptible tightening of the jaw line, nor the right hand which quickly turned white as it clutched the railing beside the bed. Aha! She’d hit a nerve. He wasn’t coping—not well, anyway.

“Want to talk about it?” she ventured. “It helps, sometimes, to get it out.”

She studied the tense young man before her, wishing she could get him to open up, knowing it would help. But he just wasn’t there yet. Sighing in frustration, she leaned back, folding her arms across her chest, ready once again to wait. This was their third session and, so far, her patient had uttered six words: “Orlando” and “You can call me Orlando.” Well, maybe that was progress. Six words were better than none. And at least he was responding—kind of.

Twenty minutes later, the session was over. Rising from her chair preparing to leave, she reflected on the fact that time could move so slowly when it was being watched. Looking at the silent figure on the bed, she shook her head and let out a long, frustrated sigh. Plastering a smile on her face, though, she tried to convey the idea that everything was okay...it didn't matter that her patient sat silent and morose, almost pretending she wasn't in the room.

"Well, Orlando. I'll see you tomorrow." When there was no response, she couldn't resist one final remark. "Same time, same place."

Ahhh, that got a response, albeit a small one. Chocolate brown eyes, startled and uncertain, jumped up to meet hers before lowering to once again focus on the fascinating white bedsheets.

With one last look at her patient, Candace exited the room, chuckling to herself at the reaction she'd received. Maybe there was hope for him yet!

**********************************************************************

ORLANDO

Well now what was he going to do? Although she seemed nice enough, he had no intention of sharing anything with that woman...that counselor. Couldn't they see that he just didn't want to talk about...anything. Especially…*it*...that day. That night. He just wanted to forget about it. If he didn't think about it, and if he wasn't constantly reminded of it, he could just push it to the back of his mind and make it go away. He was good at that! A master. Oh well.

Glancing at the clock on the wall, he noted that it was almost time for visiting hours to begin and he felt a tiny thrill of anticipation, countered with regret and a little fear. Fixing his eyes on the door, he knew that his mother and Samantha would be walking through it at any moment. But would they be the only ones? He was afraid that they would be.

He hadn't said anything, but he'd been very hurt by Viggo's absence. He'd really thought that Viggo cared enough about him to at least come visit. But he hadn't. For that matter, no one had, save his mother and sister. But it was Viggo's non-appearance that hurt the most. Especially after the things the older man had said to him, about caring for him, wanting to be there for him. As with so many other things in his life, Orlando realized that what Viggo had said couldn’t be counted on—and neither could Viggo.

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

Sigh. Another visiting hour come and gone and no sign of Viggo...again. At least today his mum and Sam had come to see him, but it was Viggo he really wanted to see. And it didn't look like that was going to happen anytime soon. Well, he had no choice but to make the best of it. Three days...three days he'd been in this hellhole...well, maybe 'hellhole' was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was scary. And he didn't belong here--no way! Because of that, and the fact that he wanted out of here as quickly as possible, he'd decided to do whatever he had to in order to get out, to be transferred back to the regular ward. So, to that end he was preparing himself for...her. Candace.

It had been made very clear to him by various and sundry medical personnel, including his physician, that unless he was willing to talk, to share he was going to be here for a while. So today he was going to talk. He didn't yet know what he was going to say, but he was going to say something--whatever she wanted to hear, just so long as it got him out of here. Sighing yet again, he was just ready to lie back in some semblance of relaxation when the door opened. Showtime!

 

CANDACE

Opening the door slowly, her gaze moved automatically to the bed and its occupant and she allowed herself to wonder, 'would today be the day? Or would it be another hour of silence, two people simply sharing space in a room?' The reaction she got from her patient nearly stopped her in her tracks. A tentative smile, small, but the biggest reaction to date. Hmmm, maybe today would be the day.

Allowing her own smile to form, she walked over to the bed and seated herself in her accustomed chair, nodding to her patient as she did so.

"Hello, Orlando. How are you today?"

"All right." He ducked his head, as if unsure of continuing. But then, "and you?"

Surprised, but hiding it well, she nodded and smiled at him.

"I'm doing fine. I'm glad you are, as well."

Silence met her last remark, but determined to keep the conversation--their first--going, she forged ahead.

"How are you feeling?"

She noticed the almost imperceptible tightening of the muscles around his jaw, the sudden stiffness of his entire body, but made no comment. Then, he visibly relaxed, as if he'd made a conscious effort to do so. Then her response--the slight lifting of his right shoulder--a shrug, she supposed. But he wasn't finished.
"I...I think I'm feeling a little better."

"Well, that's wonderful. I'm glad to hear it."

So why didn't she believe him?

VIGGO

"Viggo! Will you stop your pacing for just a few minutes? You're making me dizzy, mate."

With a sheepish look on his face, Viggo realized he *was* wearing a path in Sean's carpet, and forced himself to stop. But it was hard…at the moment he just had too much nervous energy. It had to go somewhere! Seating himself on the comfortable couch, he was totally unaware of the fact that his fingers had begun to move, almost of their own accord, tapping, tapping on the arm of the sofa. Looking over at his friend, he smiled, one of the first genuine smiles he’d had lately.

“Sorry, Sean. It’s just…it’s been three days.”

The Brit nodded in understanding, a look of sympathy on his handsome face.

“I know, Viggo. It’s been hard for me, too. I understand.”

Somehow, hearing what he’d already known made Viggo feel a tiny bit better. But he still had the same problem—three days since Orlando had disappeared upstairs and nothing. No word on his condition or how long he would be up there, not a sight of him, nothing. Three days since he’d been banished and not one constructive idea of what to do about it.

He thought he’d felt protective of Orlando before, but that was nothing compared to the feelings he now had. He honestly felt as if he was going to go insane if he couldn’t get at least a glimpse of the boy…something, anything just so he could assure himself that Orlando was really all right…or was going to be. But how to do it. He effectively been exiled from anywhere near the young man. How was he going to get in to see him? He had to do it! But how?

SEAN

Shaking his head in compassion, he watched as his friend tried desperately to remain still. He’d finally stopped his pacing, only to start drumming his fingers on the furniture. The man had too much nervous energy. Something needed to be done to help him. But what?

Forcing himself to think, he swallowed another mouthful of beer, always helpful when deep thoughts were required. Swirling it around in his mouth prior to swallowing, he savored the bitter taste. Aahhh, good.

And then it hit him. Beer!

Chapter Text

SEAN

Beer! That was it! They would call on the hobbits for help. Maybe between all of them, they’d be able to get Viggo in to see the boy. That’s what they both needed and he felt sure it would go a long way towards helping Orlando recover.

“All right, Viggo. I know what we’re going to do.”

When his friend looked at him questioningly, Sean smiled broadly at him, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

“Come on, mate. We have a plan to put into effect!”

 

VIGGO

From his vantage point on the sofa, he watched as Sean grabbed the phone and started punching numbers. What was he up to? Whatever it was, he seemed awfully determined. As numb as he felt, he still had to smile when his friend, phone to his left ear, looked over at him and grinned like a schoolboy, waggling his eyebrows and winking.

He listened as Sean left a message on the machine. Evidently, the occupant wasn’t home.

“Dom. This is Sean. Give me a call when you get home, if you would. Thanks.”

He watched as Sean replaced the receiver on the phone cradle and turned to face him, smile still plastered across his face.

“Viggo, it’s going to be all right. We’re going to get you in there.”

Sighing deeply, Viggo nodded his thanks. He didn’t know what Sean had up his sleeve, but he sure hoped it worked!

 

CANDACE

“So how did that make you feel?”

Subconsciously holding her breath, she waited to see if he would answer. Part of her—a big part—didn’t really think he would. After all, they were starting to touch on some pretty delicate areas and she wasn’t yet sure how he was going to handle it. Then to her surprise, he answered—slowly, tentatively, almost so low he couldn’t be hear—but it was an answer nonetheless.

“It…umm…it made me…angry.”

She waited, giving him time in case he wanted to continue. He didn’t. So it was going to be up to her.

“Yes? What else?”

Haunted brown eyes met hers and for a fraction of a moment she almost regreted asking the question. But, she reminded herself firmly, this was her job—and she wasn’t trying to hurt him, only help. So she waited.

“Scared.”

His voice was so low she had to strain to hear what he was saying. But she managed to hear, and understand.

“What are you afraid of, Orlando?”

She couldn’t look at his eyes. Her resolve to remain firm would desert her. So, she concentrated on a spot just beneath his eyes—not too obvious. And she waited—she was good at waiting. It was her job.

 

ORLANDO

What was he supposed to say? When he’d decided to give her what she wanted, he’d never counted on it being so painful. He didn’t even want to think about what had happened, let alone talk about it. But, he reminded himself, it was necessary if he wanted to get out of here—and he really wanted out. He’d do what he had to do.

“I really…don’t like to think about it.”

He saw her expression soften at his answer. She really wasn’t so bad. And she was just doing her job.

“I can understand that. But, what are you afraid of?” she asked.

Hesitating, he tried to figure out how to respond.

“Right now…I’m afraid of…being alone.”

Silence. He waited a moment, then decided to add a little more.

“And I don’t like…it makes me nervous when people I don’t know come in. I don’t know why.” He shrugged, almost self-consciously, and fell silent.

Glancing over at her, he saw her smile and shake her head slightly.

“Orlando, it’s totally understandable. This thing that happened to you, this horrible thing, was perpetrated by people you didn’t know. “

He nodded slowly, considering what she said. It did make sense. But she wasn’t finished.

“It won’t always be like that, you know. You’ll learn to deal with these feelings and you’ll be able to handle them. You’ll see. That’s why these sessions are so important—to help you get to that point.”

He nodded again, as if agreeing with her, but inside his secret little voice was at work, nagging at him, talking to him, trying to convince him of what was true. The little voice no one knew about but him.

‘Sure, that’s what she thinks. But I already know how to handle it. Haven’t I been doing that for twenty years?’

Chapter Text

Unbeknownst to Sean and Viggo, Dominic Monahan hadn't been home since early that morning, and so had no idea that Sean had called. When he'd finished at the studio, he-and the rest of the hobbits-had responded to a message he'd received late the night before. Sonia Bloom had called, the message cryptic and not forthcoming with details. She wanted to speak with him, as well as with Sean Astin, Elijah and Billy. His curiosity aroused, he'd scheduled a meeting with her for this evening.

Now, stomach growling from lack of food, Dom and the others made their way into the restaurant—Vinny’s Pizzeria—and scanned the room for Orlando's mother. To his surprise, Dom spotted John, Ian and Hugo having a drink together in the corner—at a very large table. What were they doing here?

He knew for a fact that John despised Italian food. And then, before he had time to ponder the situation further, Sonia Bloom entered the restaurant, smiling at them all. When he saw the other three waving her over, Dom realized that they, too, must have received a message from her. Smiling in welcome, he and his three companions followed her to the table and seated themselves, prepared to listen to what she had to say.

Glancing around the table, he realized that two members of their group were missing –Viggo and Beanie. Odd. Especially Viggo's absence. Viggo's feelings for Orlando had become quite evident to everyone. Well, there must be a reason. Turning to face Orlando's mother, he forced himself to concentrate on what she was saying.

 

SONIA

Looking at the expectant faces of the men around her, Sonia reflected on what had brought her here—what had prompted this meeting. Orlando. He had seemed so forlorn the evening before when she’d visited him. Forlorn, sad...even despondent.

Not even Samantha's joking and teasing could bring a smile to his face. When she'd asked him what was wrong, he'd simply shrugged his shoulders and shaken his head, responding that it didn't really matter. She'd kept pushing, however, until he admitted it—he missed his friends. She could still hear the slight tremble in his voice.

"Doesn't matter, mum. I don't matter."

"Orlando! Don't you ever say that! What's the matter? Why are you feeling that way?"

Another shrug and shake of the head. Then, "nobody cares."

"What do you mean?"

"I've been up here for three days. No one has called. No one's come to see me. No one has even tried to leave me a message. I guess I'm not their friend. I just thought I was."}

He'd trailed off then, looking down at his hands and blinking his eyes furiously. She could see the unshed tears in his eyes...tears she didn't want to ever see in her son's eyes again. And so here she was, surrounded by Orlando's friends, hoping they would consent to her wishes.

 

******

"Thank you all for coming. It is very much appreciated."

Murmurs of assent, no problem's and my pleasure's all around.

"As I'm sure you all know, I am here because of my son, Orlando. He..." she trailed off, as if contemplating what to say next. Then, "...he is not doing very well.” She stopped, eyes downcast, as if gathering her courage and her strength to continue.

Looking around the table, Dom took in the pained and sympathetic expressions on the faces of his friends and coworkers. But his attention was drawn back to Mrs. Bloom when she began speaking once again.

"The doctors...and I...believe it would be very beneficial to Orlando's recovery if he is surrounded by familiar things...including the company of his friends. So, I wanted to ask if all of you would mind visiting him?"

A chorus of yes's and of course's and absolutely's was her response.

"But we thought he didn't want us around." This was Elijah.

Sonia Bloom shook her head sadly.

"No, that's not true. Orlando may not even realize it, but he needs his friends. Your presence can do much towards furthering his recovery."

"Then consider us there." Ian.

The woman's face lit up with a smile and she clapped her hands together.

"Wonderful!"

Chapter Text

Looking up from the book he was pretending to read, Orlando’s face lit up in a smile. Standing in his doorway was a sight for sore eyes, as the expression went—the Hobbits! And yes, John, Ian and Hugo were right behind them. Like the Keystone Cops, they poured into the room, all smiles and cheerful greetings.

He tried, he really tried, but as happy as he was to see them—his friends—Orlando couldn’t keep his eyes from looking beyond them, to the now empty doorway. The gaze that turned back to survey his friends was sorrow-filled, though he tried to hide it. But the others weren’t going to give him time to dwell on who wasn’t there.

“Well, mate. How’re you doing?” Dom.

“You look so much better!” Elijah, with his boundless enthusiasm.

Rising from his chair by the window, Orlando took only a few steps before finding himself engulfed. Feeling for a moment as if he was being smothered, he concentrated on slowing his suddenly rapid heartbeat and stilling his now furious breathing. Gathering the suddenly thin hospital robe in his hands, he pulled it around him, as if for protection.

And then Ian was there, in the forefront, giving him a knowing smile while shooing the others back several feet. Evidently, the older man hadn’t missed the trapped deer look in Orlando’s eyes.

“Now, now. We’re all happy to see the lad, but let us give him his space.”

Orlando didn’t miss the small wink Ian sent in his direction and he gave a grateful smile in return.

John’s rich baritone echoed throughout the room.

“Well, my boy. Have they been treating you well?”

Orlando nodded in affirmation, fighting the sense of loss he felt at Viggo’s absence. And Beanie, too. Where were they? Evidently, somewhere better than this!

“Boy, they’re like the Gestapo out there. Checking us in, names on a list.”

At Dom’s pronouncement, Orlando ducked his head in embarrassment, missing the quick jab to the ribs Sean Astin gave to his fellow Hobbit, as well as the glares and stares from the others in the room.

“Food good?” Billy asked, retrieving an apple from Orlando’s uneaten lunch tray and biting into it…loudly.

And then, a deep, rich chuckle. Hugo, who’d been standing quietly in the background, had moved forward and was now claiming the attention of the others.

“Give the boy a chance to answer. We’re bombarding him with questions and giving him no time to respond!”

A murmur of contrite sorry’s and won’t do it again’s was his response.

For some reason, he didn’t know why, it made Orlando laugh. Regardless of the fact that the friend he really wanted to see wasn’t present, Orlando laughed—and it felt good. For the first time in a week, he laughed and the world looked just a little brighter, his load a little lighter. It was good to be with friends. The others responded in kind, laughing loud and long.

And then, they were being shushed again, as Ian, hands raised, tried to quiet them all.

“My dear friends. I, for one, do not wish to be front page news in some glad rag for being expelled forcibly from the hospital.”

At that, the others laughed even harder, and Orlando couldn’t help but join in.

 

Two hours later, Orlando tried once again to read his book, but once more was unsuccessful. His mind was still reeling from his friends’ visit. Not five minutes after Ian’s pronouncement, the nurse had, indeed, come to advise them that not only were they being too loud, but there were too many visitors in the room. Only two at a time were allowed! And how had they all gotten in? So they had broken into groups, arguing good-naturedly about who should go with the elf, the dwarf and the wizard, as those three were, after all, outnumbered by Hobbits. In the end, it was Ian who came to see him last, the others having divided into pairs and having been in to see him already.

 

“I don’t know where he is, my boy. We tried to contact him. Beanie, too, for that matter. But we had no luck. They must be out and about somewhere.”

Upon seeing Orlando’s forlorn expression, the older man hurried to continue, in his own leisurely way.

“Don’t worry, Orlando. And don’t feel badly. I’m sure Viggo has his reasons for not visiting. Sean, as well. You’ll see.”

Though he wasn’t really convinced by Ian’s argument, Orlando allowed a small smile to show. There was nothing he could do about it, anyway. If Viggo didn’t want to come to see him, so be it. He would learn to deal with it—he’d have to. He didn’t even flinch—too badly, anyway—when Ian reached over and gathered him close, his light embrace seemingly sensitive to the fact that the young man did not yet feel comfortable being touched.

Orlando rested his chin on the older man’s shoulder and tried to relax into the gentle hug. He could feel the arms around him—holding him very loosely—and realized they weren’t hurting him. Ian would never hurt him. For a brief moment, he tried to convince himself that everything was actually going to be all right.

His mind wandering, Orlando didn’t even register the fact that Ian was talking to him, asking him a question. When he did realize it, he tried to focus on the older man and what he was saying.

“How are you really, Orlando?”

Not knowing what to say, he shrugged his response.

Ian, perceptive as always, knew exactly what the younger man was—and was not—saying.

“You’re not doing very well, are you my boy?”

Unbidden, tears sprang into Orlando’s eyes and he blinked furiously to keep them from falling. Not now, not in front of Ian! But his struggle was unsuccessful and as the first tears fell, Orlando felt Ian’s arms tighten around him—just a little. Then, a hand was stroking his back gently, a gesture he found to be oddly soothing.

“There, there, Orlando. It’s all going to work out all right in the end. You’ve got to believe that.”

Orlando forced his head to move up and down in a poor facsimile of a nod.

“And you do know that your friends are here for you, to help you through this. All of us, whether we were present today or not. We all care for you, my boy, very much. And we will all do whatever we have to do to get you well.”

Orlando pulled himself back a little so he could look into Ian’s eyes. Concerned blue eyes met his bleary gaze. He desperately wanted to believe that everything would be all right, he just didn’t see how that could happen.

Chapter Text

An hour later, Ian’s living room resonated with the sound of raised voices, some irate, some attempting to calm—all of them upset.

Even though Ian was the only one who had spoken with Orlando regarding Viggo’s absence, the others had noticed that he and Bean were not there. And they were mad.

Dom and Elijah were ready to storm over to confront them, while Sean Astin and Billy did their best to keep them from carrying out their plans. John and Hugo just stood on the sidelines, watching the drama unfold before them and fuming silently amongst themselves. Dom, especially, was irate.

“You all saw the look on his face! He was devastated! He was trying to hide it, but it was obvious that he was upset.”

“You’re right,” Elijah agreed vehemently with his friend. “Where were Viggo and Beanie? That’s what I want to know!”

“Come on, guys. We don’t know why they weren’t there. They must have had a good reason. This is Viggo and Sean we’re talking about.”

Dom looked at Sean in disbelief as he made this pronouncement, his expression quickly changing from disbelief to anger.

“That’s right, Sean. This is Viggo and Sean we’re talking about. And this is Orli we’re talking about. There’s nowhere else they should have been this morning. They should have been there…at the hospital…with the rest of us!”

“Now Dom…”

The Brit was furious and whirled to glare at Billy before anything further could be said.

“Don’t ‘Now Dom’ me, Billy! There’s no excuse. Orlando’s our friend—he’s their friend. They needed to be there for him. No excuses. Especially Viggo. He should have been there. With Orli!”

Nobody said a word, all of them silently agreeing with Dom, nobody wanting to refute what he was saying. Then, seeing that certain tempers were on the rise again, Ian forestalled further trouble by raising a hand and saying “Stop. Enough. I will handle this.”

Six pairs of angry, confused eyes looked over at him, obviously wondering what he had in mind. He did not leave them in suspense.

“I will go speak with Viggo and Sean. I’ll find out why they have not been to see Orlando. Let us determine what the facts are before we decide what to do.”

“That makes perfect sense,” John agreed, attempting to diffuse the tension in the room. “We’ll await your report.”

************************************************************************

“Oh, this is very nice, Orlando. What do you think?”

Sonia frowned as her son shrugged his response. No other answer was forthcoming from him. She tried again, determined to make him smile, cheer him up.

"Look, you have a wonderful view from the window, and all the flowers and balloons make it so cheerful. So much nicer than..." she trailed off, catching herself before she mentioned *that* place--the psych ward from which Orlando had just been discharged. Now, after three and a half days upstairs, he was back in the regular ward, where he belonged. And if all went well, he'd be leaving the hospital in the next day or two. Then he could leave this whole nightmare behind him and move on with his life.

She didn't miss the slight grimace that crossed her son's face when she *didn't* mention where he'd spent the last several days. Sighing in frustration, she walked over to where he was seated by the window, watching as he just sat and stared at the door, as if waiting...for something, or someone. She experienced a flash of irritation at his sullen behavior, and was immediately ashamed of herself.

"Orlando. What's the matter?"

No response. Kneeling beside him, she rested an elbow on the arm of his chair, laying her hand over his.

"It's going to be all right, you know. It really will."

He said nothing, but his expression told her that he didn't believe a word she had said. His eyes stayed glued on the door, as if he was willing it to open. Believing she knew the reason, she smiled to herself, knowing that his visitors would soon be here.

"Your friends will be arriving shortly. You'll have a nice visit. Won't that be nice?"

He gave her an incredulous look, as if he believed she was either crazy or, at the least, had no idea what she was talking about.

"What's wrong?" she asked in confusion. "You don't want them to come? But, I thought that was what you wanted."

"Mum!" Finally, he spoke, his voice filled with frustration and sorrow.

"What? Tell me."

Drawing a ragged breath, as if he was about to lose control but was trying to keep it, he shook his head and looked at her, his dark eyes wet with unshed tears.

"Mum, just stop. Please."

"What...what do you mean? I thought you wanted to see your friends."

"I do. But..." he trailed off, as if unable—or unwilling—to continue.

Sonia searched his face, troubled by what saw. His face was still covered with bruises, though they were beginning to fade. Those that were left, however, only highlighted the stark paleness of his features. And his eyes, usually so full of life and excitement, were now dulled with sorrow. It broke her heart.

Squeezing his hand, she reached out with her other hand to brush a curl off his forehead, ignoring the fact that he flinched away momentarily before allowing her to complete her action.

"Orlando." Her voice held all her love and concern for him--at least she hoped it did.

"Mum," he started again. "I do want to see them. I'm glad they've come. But...but the one I really want to see hasn't come at all. No one's even heard from him." Looking down at their joined hands, he drew a ragged breath.

"Son. What do you mean?"

Looking up at her, his eyes were suddenly intense, filled with pain.

"Viggo, mum! It's Viggo I'm talking about. I thought we were friends. Beanie, too." Lowering his gaze once more, he shook his head and sighed, obviously still upset.

Sonia's eyes widened and she held her breath, realizing suddenly what she had done, but not wanting Orlando to know.

"Viggo?" she asked in a tremulous voice.

"Yes, mum. Viggo. He...he said he cared for me. I guess he just felt sorry for me. That's all it was. Why would anyone care for me, anyway? Haven't you heard, mum? I'm damaged goods." He chuckled wryly at these last words, though it was more self-depreciating than humorous.

Sonia’s eyes widened in shock at his words and she realized that she had done a terrible, terrible thing.

*******************************************************************************

Ian looked at the door in frustration, as if the mere act of glaring at it would force it to open. No such luck. After standing here for the last five minutes alternately knocking on the door and ringing the bell, he had come to the logical conclusion that no one was home. Hmmm. He would have to rethink his plan. It had seemed so simple an hour ago. He would drive to Viggo's place, confront him about his absence at the hospital and then, once everything was cleared up, report back to the others. He hadn't taken into account that fact that Viggo might not be home. Obviously, the man was not here.

Raising his eyes heavenward, as if searching for advice, Ian reached his decision. All right. On to Plan B. He would drive over to Beanie's house. Maybe they were there. If not...well, he would cross that bridge when he came to it. But right now, it was a better alternative than returning to his home to face his six friends, who were likely near to boiling over by now. Yes. He would continue on to Beanie's house. Saying a silent prayer that both men would be there when he arrived, Ian left Viggo's front porch and headed for his car.

Chapter Text

“So what you want to do is lay it down slowly, with reverence, almost as if you’re afraid to be touching it. Got it?”

Caught in the act of trying furtively to look at his watch and appear to be listening attentively at the same time, Viggo’s gaze snapped back up to Peter. Having only caught half of what the portly director had said, Viggo simply nodded, then froze when Peter smiled and gestured towards him with his hand.

Uh-oh. Now what was he supposed to do? Looking frantically over at Beanie, he tried—and failed—to read the silent message the Brit seemed to be sending with his eyes. Well, that was no help. And then, inspiration.

Turning once again to Peter, he asked, “would you mind going over that once more, Peter?”

The affable director suddenly didn’t look so affable as he sighed heavily and closed his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose as if trying to contain his temper. The eyes opened and focused on Viggo who suddenly felt like a speck under a microscope.

“Viggo. Would you please stop fidgeting and daydreaming. I’m only going to say this once more. You want to lay the shards down slowly, with reverence. You feel that you don’t even have the right to touch the thing. Okay? Do you have it this time?”

Mustering a small smile, Viggo nodded.

“I’ve got it. Sorry, Peter. Don’t know what’s wrong with me tonight. Guess I’m just tired.”

‘And why shouldn’t I be,’ he thought to himself. ‘We’ve been here all day. Hell, it’s almost eleven o’clock at night!’

He and Sean had been summoned to the studio by Peter. A private meeting, they’d been told. A special rehearsal. Just to go over a couple of scenes. Well, they’d done that, all right. Over and over and over. And it didn’t look as if there was an end in sight anytime soon. Stifling a yawn, he nodded and rose to do as his director had requested.

************************************************************************
An hour later, Viggo still reenacting the scene in which Aragorn and Boromir meet. He was still replacing the Shards of Narsil where they belonged. He was still gazing at the figures reverently. For the thirty-seventh time!

And then, music to his ears. And Sean’s, too, he was sure.

“Very good, then. Why don’t we call it a night?”

If he hadn’t been so god awful tired, he would have laughed at the speed with which Sean leapt to his feet. Just as he was ready to bid his director good-night, Viggo felt a hand on his arm. Peter.

“What is it?” he inquired.

Peter hesitated, as if weighing his words, judging what to say and what not to say. Finally, he decided.

“Viggo, Sean. I have a request.”

The two men watched him in silence, waiting to hear what he had to say. The man stood quietly for a moment, a stern look on his face, very uncharacteristic for him.

“There is a rather…delicate…matter at hand.”

Casting his eyes over to Sean, Viggo’s questioning gaze was met with a raised eyebrow and nothing more. He listened as Peter continued.

“A…complaint, for want of a better term…has been lodged against the both of you. Viggo, you in particular. And a request.”

Viggo’s brow furrowed in consternation. A complaint? Against him? And Sean? What could they have possibly done? To the best of his knowledge, they’d done nothing. Who? And then he realized—it hit him full force. Orlando’s mother.

A suspicious look on his face, Sean looked Peter straight in the eye, but said nothing. The director stood his ground.

Looking around the room, empty save for the three of them, Viggo wondered not for the first time why only he and Sean had been summoned here. Why were they the only ones who had to rehearse all day? And into the night? Something wasn’t right and he was beginning to wonder if their spur of the minute rehearsal had anything to do with the complaint lodged against them. Beanie, as usual, cut right to the chase.

“Peter. Why are we here?”

Viggo watched curiously as Peter looked at Sean in confusion, as if not quite understanding his question.

“What do you mean? Here on the set?

When both men nodded, his expression grew troubled, as if he didn’t want to fully answer the question. But he did.

“Well, Sean. Viggo. I called you in because…because…”

Viggo watched in amazement as the usually composed director stumbled and hesitated, apparently flustered. But why? When Peter shook his head and heaved a huge sigh of frustration, Viggo got his answer.

Viggo decided to make it easy on Peter, who looked decidedly uncomfortable with the situation and the part he was playing in it. The normally relaxed and laid-back director was actually squirming in his chair, as if trying to escape the room and the entire situation.

“Peter,” he began, seeing the dawn light in Sean’s eyes as he, too, realized the truth. “Does this have anything to do with Orlando’s mother?”

At the mention of Sonia Bloom, Peter’s head shot up and Viggo knew he’d hit on the truth. That was it, then. But before he could go any further and explain the situation, Peter recovered his sensibilities and cut in, taking control once more.

“Viggo, Sean. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know this. Mrs. Bloom came to me, quite upset. Said you were interfering with Orlando’s recovery. Interfering with private family business. She claims you were responsible for his transfer to the psychiatric ward. She also maintains that you deliberately said hurtful things to Orlando, in order to get a reaction from him. Viggo, she says you told him lies.”

Viggo sat there, too stunned to respond. What was Peter talking about? What he had just described wasn’t what had happened at all. And lies? He would never lie to Orlando—for any reason. Dimly, he heard another voice speaking, tight with anger. Sean.

“Peter! Surely you don’t believe that?

Numbly, Viggo watched as Peter shook his head, his face deeply troubled.

“No, Sean. I didn’t say I believed it. But I did have to respond to her in some way. I decided to keep the two of you busy while the others were at the hospital and then…well, we’ll see.”

“She’s lying, Peter! I don’t know why, but she’s lying!” Viggo couldn’t contain himself any longer and his anger and confusion poured out, his words filled with pent up emotion. “Why is she doing this?”

“Yes. That’s a very good question. Why?”

Peter was at a loss, as were they all.

Sean stood, his tightly controlled movements evidence of his emotional state of the anger barely held in check.

“Peter. Something’s not right here. I was there. Viggo never lied to the boy. He was only responding to something Orlando had said. That’s when the boy got upset. Viggo lied about nothing.”

The portly director looked at the two of them, totally confused.

“If I’m going to be able to handle this correctly, I need to know what’s going on, guys. You need to tell me—give me something, at least.”

Glancing up at Sean, who nodded slightly, his eyes urging him to go for it, Viggo wrestled with the ethics of what he was about to do. Aware that it wasn’t his place to publicize Orli’s personal history, Viggo with grappled with himself, his respect for Orlando’s privacy warring with his need to get this resolved. In the end, deciding that since Peter already knew a portion of what had happened and since he was, ultimately, responsible for them all while in New Zealand—he decided to explain. Nodding his head, as if to convince himself he was doing the right thing, Viggo began.

“Do you remember last Monday, at the hospital, when the doctor came out and told us what had happened?”

At Peter’s nod, he continued. But it was hard; he practically had to force himself to say the words.

“Do you remember when the doctor asked what we knew of Orlando’s previous history? She mentioned scar tissue from—something—in his past.”

Watching the emotions run across Peter’s face, Viggo could tell that he remembered. At Sean’s nod of encouragement, he continued.

“Well, Orlando’s sister, Samantha, knew what had happened. She didn’t want to tell us at first. Said she’d promised Orlando. But finally she did.”

Without even realizing it, Viggo’s voice had dropped until he was almost whispering, the pain of what he was about to reveal evident in his face. Drawing a ragged breath to bolster his courage, he forced himself to continue.

She said that…evidently after their father died…they had…” he stopped. He wanted to, but at the moment he couldn’t go on. All he could think of was five-year old Orlando, helpless under the onslaught of his ‘uncle’s’ ministrations. He shuddered, closing his eyes for a moment to gather himself together again. And then he heard it—his savior at the moment—Sean’s voice, continuing with the story, picking up where he’d left off.

“Orlando was only four years old when his father died. Evidently, a good family friend stepped in to…help. He was someone they all knew and trusted.”

Opening his eyes, Viggo watched as Peter’s expressions ran the gamut from total loss to a glimmering of understanding what was to come.

“What happened?” the Kiwi asked in a hushed voice.

When Sean glanced over at him, Viggo nodded, urging him to continue.

“Samantha didn’t really give many details, but it looks like this *man* molested Orlando for nearly ten years.”

Viggo looked at his friend in sympathy, noting the slightly trembling hands, the catch in his voice at the end of his pronouncement. Sean was a rock, but he wasn’t impenetrable. This had affected him, too.

“Are you sure?” Peter looked dazed, as if he couldn’t process what he’d just heard. And who could blame him?

Both men nodded somberly, sorrow lining their faces. Peter looked at each of them, his eyes widening in horror as understanding dawned on him.

“But that would mean he was…” he trailed off, unable to continue.

“Four or five years old,” Viggo finished for him. Then, he dove in for the finish. “That’s what started the whole thing. This entire… situation. Orlando was so despondent, upset. He kept saying that if we knew what he was really like, we would want nothing to do with him. He claimed he was damaged goods. Worthless. I told him that I knew what had happened to him in the past, that I knew what his uncle had done. I said it made no difference—didn’t change who he was. That’s when he got so upset.”

Finished, Viggo took a deep breath and leaned back, regrouping now that the news was out. Peter, on the other hand, leaned forward, running his fingers through his already unruly hair. He looked stricken.

“This is unbelievable. Horrible. I mean, you hear about things like this happening, but it’s always someone else, someone you don’t know. Some nameless person. But to know someone you care about went through something like that…” he stopped abruptly, unable to continue.

The other two nodded, silently agreeing with him. Words weren’t necessary.

“I just can’t imagine. I mean, I think of my children. If someone were to do something like that to them I…” Peter clamped his mouth shut, obviously not wanting to broadcast what actions he would take. But it was pretty evident to them all.

“I know, mate. If anyone ever touched my girls like that I’d…well, I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions.”

Viggo and Peter just nodded in agreement. The room descended into silence as all three men contemplated the situation and thought of their own children. Viggo’s thoughts drifted from Henry, who was safe and secure at home with his mother, to Orlando, hurt and broken, and once again he felt a surge of protectiveness for the boy lying in the hospital.

“What I don’t understand, though, is his mother’s reaction. Why would she be so upset if you were only speaking the truth?”

Viggo shook his head in frustration.

“I don’t know, Peter, unless she was just upset at Orli’s reaction. But why ban us from the hospital? That’s not doing the boy any good and it seems a little overboard in my opinion.” Sean.

Nodding thoughtfully, Viggo agreed. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Peter replied. “But until we get to the bottom of it, I want you two to steer clear of her—and the hospital.”

Steer clear? That wasn’t what Viggo wanted to hear.

“But Peter…”

The director raised a hand, forestalling further protests.

“Wait a minute. Just hear me out. Let me talk to her, see if I can find out why she’s so upset—so against you visiting. Give me a day.”

Though he wasn’t really happy with the solution, at the moment Viggo realized he had no other choice.

“All right. A day. Do what you can. We’ll be waiting.”

Glancing over at Sean, he saw the Brit nod in agreement. They would wait.

Chapter Text

“I have no idea where they could have gone. I checked both residences and neither one of them was home.”

Ian shook his head, contemplating his next move, attempting for the moment to ignore the outraged voices surrounding him.

“It’s not right, I tell you. They should have been there!” Elijah had still not calmed down. In fact, it seemed as if his anger had been slowly simmering since earlier in the day until it had now reached its boiling point.

“I know, Lij. Don’t worry, we’ll find out why they weren’t. We’ll get to the bottom of it.” Dom slammed his fist into his other hand, and Ian wondered briefly if the younger man was unconsciously flogging Sean and Viggo in his anger at the two men. Then the older man realized that something needed to be done before the situation got out of hand.

“Please, gentlemen,” Ian interrupted, holding up a hand to get everyone’s attention. “Let us not judge them until we know what is going on.”

“But, Ian…”

“Yes, Dom. I know. They should have been there. Orlando wants them there. I realize that. But they may have a very good explanation for their whereabouts. Let us give them a chance to explain.”

Ian watched as Dom visibly wilted at his words. The others just mumbled under their breath about humans picking the most inopportune time to disappear.

Then John spoke, voice deep with wisdom and reason.

“Come now, hobbits, elf and wizard. It is late, almost eleven o’clock. Why don’t we adjourn for the evening. Go home and rest. And then tomorrow, I am sure we can sort everything out. But tomorrow our heads will be much clearer.”

“Good idea, John.” Ian agreed, glad that the Welshman had stepped in to diffuse the rapidly escalating tension. “Jolly smart!”

 

*****************************************************************************************
IAN

Later that night, the gathering had dispersed and Ian found himself wandering his house, which at the moment seemed as quiet as a morgue, especially after the clamor of voices that had been present an hour earlier.

Though he had put on a positive face for the others, he was secretly wrestling with some serious doubts regarding Viggo and Sean’s absence from the hospital earlier in the day. Dom and the others were right—the two men should have been there. No excuse.

Though he hadn’t let the others know, Ian had made inquiries while still at the hospital. What he discovered upset him greatly. The two men had not been in to see Orlando for four days. And it had shown on the young man’s face. He had looked lost, and alone, though he’d been trying valiantly to hide it and put on a cheerful face for his guests.

Granted, the rest of them hadn’t been up to see Orlando either, but they had checked on him by phone. But Viggo, Viggo should have been there. Him above all. And Ian hoped he had a damn good explanation for why he hadn’t been in to see the boy. It had better be a good one!

 

*****************************************************************************************
ORLANDO

Shifting for the tenth time in half as many minutes, Orlando realized that he was just not going to get any sleep tonight. None at all. His mind was too filled with jumbled thoughts and images for him to be able to relax. Sitting up on the bed, he raised the back to a sitting position. Then, drawing his knees up, he hugged them close, resting his chin on his kneecaps.

It had been good to see the others today. In fact, for a few brief moments he’d almost been happy. But the feeling didn’t last for long. As nice as it was to see his friends, he couldn’t overcome the bitter disappointment of Viggo’s absence. And Sean’s too, for that matter.

He’d really thought they cared about him, especially Viggo. But evidently, he’d been right before. Why would Viggo want to have anything to do with him? He was damaged goods.

Evidently, all of Viggo’s noble words about none of that mattering were just that—noble words—words that meant nothing. Empty promises. Viggo had just felt sorry for him and said whatever he thought Orlando wanted to hear. The result was that he had just confirmed what Orlando already knew—he was no good to anyone, not worth their time.

If the older man really cared, he would have at least called to check on him. And he hadn’t, Orlando had asked, repeatedly. So here he was, alone and shopworn, and probably destined to stay that way. With a forlorn sigh, he allowed himself to lean back against the raised bed, but found that he was still unable to relax. He just couldn’t shake the disappointment and hurt he felt at Viggo’s abandonment.

And to make matters worse, he was absolutely dreading tomorrow. Chuckling to himself, he realized that at least his apprehension of what the next day would bring would take his mind off Viggo. Oh, what was he going to do?

He desperately wanted to get out of the hospital, to go home. But first, he had to begin group therapy. That was tomorrow. He didn’t want to talk about what happened to him, especially in front of a room full of strangers. He didn’t even want to think about it! He wanted to forget it all, never think about it again. If he pushed it far, far back into the recesses of his mind, he knew that he would be able to go on from here, put it behind him and move on.

Eventually, it would seem as though nothing had ever happened at all. He just needed to forget. He had done it before. He was good at it. Why couldn’t they just let him do that?

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

 

“All right then. Today, we have a new member with us. Everybody, this is Orlando.”

The patient in question froze, suddenly feeling seven pairs of eyes focused on him. It was not a comfortable feeling. And even though he was used to being in the spotlight--thrived on it at times--he felt very uncomfortable at the moment. He didn’t want anyone looking at him, not since…well, he just didn’t.

Ducking his head in a poor imitation of a greeting, he hoped it would be enough. He didn’t much feel like talking right now. He didn’t even want to be here at the moment, but he’d had no choice. Blackmail, that’s what it was. As much as he hated them, he’d been given an ultimatum--attend group therapy and he’d be one step closer to being released. So here he was, like it or not. And he definitely did not like it. But he had to make the best of it. Sigh…

Slouching down as far as he could and pretending to study a spot on the floor between his feet, Orlando surreptitiously moved his gaze around the circle of chairs. Eight men, including him. Most of them looked to be about his age, although there was one man who looked to be about thirty. All here for the same reason, supposedly.

‘Well,’ he thought to himself, ‘I’m not like them. I can handle this. I don’t need this group.’ He would just sit here and listen. The doctor had said he needed to attend…nothing had been said about participation.

“So, anything new since last week?”

The “leader,” Casey, sat back to wait for a response. Shifting his eyes to his right, Orlando listened as one of the other members began to speak.

“I have some news.”

Inclining his head in an invitation to continue, Casey--and the others--waited. “What is it, Brad? Good news?”

“Yes, I think so,” Brad replied, a small smile on his face.

“I,”…dropping his head for a moment, the young man studied his hands, clasped tightly on his lap and betraying his unease. Then, “…I went to the store by myself last weekend.”

‘Went to the store?’ Before Orlando could continue with that train of thought, the others began applauding. ‘Hmmm…evidently going to the store was a good thing!’

****************************************************************

BILLY

"Where the hell are they?"

Dom scowled as Billy just shrugged and shook his head. His friend's non-response didn't help matters. He continued his tirade, angrier than before.

Arriving home the night before, they had discovered Bean's cryptic message regarding a meeting. But try as they might, they'd been unable to track him--or Viggo--down. The two men were nowhere to be found.

"I mean, you don't just call someone, tell him you want to meet, and then disappear off the face of the earth!"

Billy sighed. At the moment, that was the best response. He'd decided it was better to let Dom run down on his own than to antagonize him. The younger man got like this sometimes. Billy had discovered that it was best just to wait it out. Eventually, Dom's tirade would end and they could talk reasonably. It always worked out that way. Until then, he would wait.

**********************************************************************

SEAN

Viggo and Sean weren't home. Having been with Peter until almost midnight, they'd arrived back at Viggo's house in the early hours of the morning, both too worked up to sleep. Dropping Viggo off, Sean had returned to his own house, only to find himself tossing and turning, pacing to and fro. His mind was too full of problems and images.

He couldn't stop thinking about the conversation he'd inadvertently overhead, when Samantha Bloom had divulged secrets from her brother's past. He couldn't stop thinking about Sonia Bloom's overblown reaction to Viggo telling Orlando that 'he knew.' He couldn't stop thinking about the young man he'd come to care so much about, thrashing uncontrollably in the hospital bed, screaming out his agony and pain. That was the image that had stayed with him first and foremost. Orlando, fearful and hurting.

And then there was Viggo, the man he loved like a brother. He couldn't get the image of Viggo's face out of his mind--his horrified expression as he realized what Samantha was talking about, his caring and concern as he tried to calm Orlando down. And then, later, his anguish as he cried his sorrow out.

Sean knew that something needed to be done. He just needed to figure out what that something was. So, after two hours of tossing and turning and another hour of pacing, he called Viggo, figuring he was in the same situation. He was. And so here they were at Diane's House of Pancakes at 5:30 in the morning. Though neither man had slept a wink, they were both awake and fairly alert. Ready to figure some things out. Ready to plan.

“Viggo, we’ve got to figure out how to get you in there. The boy needs to see you and you need to see him.” At his friend’s slightly morose nod, Sean reached across the table and tapped his fist on the table next to Viggo’s folded hands. “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll come up with something.”

Shaking his head slowly, Viggo looked over at his friend.

“Do you have anything in mind?”

At Sean’s negative, nonverbal reply, Viggo sighed deeply, the brief moment of hope he’d felt last night with Peter quickly being overtaken by frustration. Looking into his friend’s eyes, Viggo spoke from the heart.

“I need to see him, Sean. I need to make sure he’s all right. He’s been through so much. Now and….before. Too much for someone his age. Too much for anyone. No one should have to bear what he is and I just…want to be there to help make it a little easier for him.”

“I understand, Viggo. I feel the same way. And I can tell you this….he needs to see you too, whether he realizes it or not. That boy needs you.”

Viggo smiled sadly at his friend’s words.

“And I need him, Sean. More than you know.”

Sean nodded solemnly, his green eyes sympathetic.

“I know, mate. I know.” Then, perking up a bit, he said with a small grin, “Don’t forget whom you’re dealing with here!”

At Viggo’s inquisitive look, he tapped himself on the chest and drew himself up as tall as he could while sitting on a worn bench in Diane’s Pancake House.

“Viggo, you’ve got Sharpe on your side. Sharpe…hero extraordinaire. Don’t worry, we’ll find a way. You’ll see him soon…before you know it!”

At his Viggo’s hopeful look, Sean just smiled and nodded confidently, as if the matter was already taken care of.

‘Now what am I going to do?’ he wondered almost frantically. ‘I’ve got to come up with a plan!’

Nodding again, he fairly brimmed with confidence.

“Don’t worry, Viggo. It’ll happen. We’ll make it happen!”

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

Oh, not again. Didn’t those damn nurses ever rest or take a break? They sure didn’t want the patients to, that was for sure. They had a nasty habit of congregating outside his door and talking as loudly as they could. And every time he closed his eyes, hoping to relax for a few moments, the door would burst open to admit a nurse bearing something, either medication or equipment. Well, at least this one was smiling, not like the old battleaxe that was in here last night. Oh well. What did this one want?

Cracking his right eye a bit, and noticing it was only six a.m., he saw that ‘this one’ was apparently here to take his vitals. Six a.m. Another long day in this place. But, if all went well, he’d be getting out tomorrow. He could only hope.

Hope. Humph. He’d been doing a lot of that lately. Every time the door opened he hoped it was…him. But it wasn’t. It never was. It hadn’t been for days. And it probably wouldn’t be. Viggo’s absence—especially after the others had come yesterday—had just brought home to him the fact that the older man not only was not interested in him, but was probably repulsed by who he really was. Oh well. He could live with that. He’d have to, wouldn’t he?

 

SEAN

“Okay, Viggo. I’m not sure why, but Dom hasn’t returned my call. Nor have any of the others. So I say let’s go to them.”

At his friend’s nod, the two men rose and exited the diner, Sean tossing a tip on the table as he left.

Twenty minutes later, they were parked in front of the small house Dom, Elijah and Billy were sharing for the duration of the shoot. Since it was only seven in the morning, Sean was fairly certain they’d be home. Of course, they were going to be none too happy to have him pounding on their door so early in the morning, but that was the breaks. He and Viggo needed to talk to them, desperately…now!

Walking up to the front door, he studied his companion out of the corner of his eye. Viggo didn’t look good. It was plain he’d had no sleep the night before and the worry and stress of the last week was definitely catching up with him. And now, the banishment…well, they’d take care of that today, one way or another. Raising his hand, he pressed the doorbell, and waited.

Glancing over at the man on his right, Sean nodded and gave what he hoped was a reassuring grin. They’d get things straightened out here—somehow. When Viggo responded with a half-hearted, lopsided smile, the Brit felt a swelling of confidence run through him; he hoped it was deserved.

Just as he was ready to ring the bell again, the door swung open and he came face to face with a tired-looking, disheveled Dom. A tired-looking Dom, who visibly perked up when he saw who was at his door.

“Where the hell have you been?” came out in unison.

Both men stopped, brought up short by the other’s outburst. As they stood looking at each other, both trying to figure out what to say next, another figure entered the fray, walking up to and looking over Dom’s shoulder, as if to see what was going on. Billy, an apple in one hand, a mug of tea in the other.

“Sean! Viggo! We’ve been looking all over for you. Where ya been?”

Although he was asking the same question Sean and Dom had thrown at each other moments before, Billy had unknowingly diffused a suddenly tense situation. Sean was thankful for that, having no real desire to become embroiled in an argument at the moment. He just wanted to get Viggo in to see Orlando. That was all.

 

VIGGO

He didn’t want to, wasn’t in the mood to, but almost had to chuckle at the looks Sean and Dom were giving each other. Almost like the two cocks on the walk, sizing each other up, searching for the other’s weak spot. Neither willing to back down. Shaking his head and letting a grin cross his face, Viggo reached over to pat Sean on the back as he pushed past him and Dom to enter the house. Billy stepped aside to let him pass.

“So, Vig, Sean, where have you been for the past twenty-four hours?”

Dom had calmed down and seemed to be forcing himself to speak in a calm, composed voice.

“Right where we’re supposed to be, Dom. Right where we’re supposed to be.”

The younger man looked at him, a quizzical expression on his face—an expression that was quickly replaced by one of annoyance.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Viggo? We’ve been looking all over for you. If you were ‘right where you were supposed to be’ we would have found you!”

Shaking his head in frustration, Viggo put his hands up, hoping to forestall any further argument. This just wasn’t the time.

“Dom, please. We need your help.”

The young man stood silently for a moment, a scowl covering his face. He didn’t look like he wanted to do anything for them. Shaking his head again, he opened his mouth as if to continue berating them, but never got the chance. A voice filled with barely restrained anger filled the short silence.

“Look, Dom. You’ve got no right to be angry at us. We’ve done nothing. Just…”

Viggo almost gasped in surprise as Dom whirled around to face Sean, his face contorted in anger. Even Billy reaching out to grab his arm had no effect. He was irate and obviously wanted the other two men to know it.

“Done nothing? How can you say that? You’re his friends! At least you’re supposed to be. You didn’t see the look on his face when we were there yesterday!”

“Dom, wait…” Viggo tried, ineffectually.

“No, you wait, Viggo! He was crushed that you weren’t there. He kept looking over at the door. It was obvious he was hoping you’d walk through it. Some friends you are! Ha…”

This time Dom was cut off as Sean entered the fray, voice raised in anger, body tense. And then Billy’s voice, trying to calm Dom down, but finally joining his side, questioning their absence at the hospital. Viggo sighed in frustration. This wasn’t going to be easy. In fact, he had a feeling that getting the others to listen to them was going to be the equivalent of pulling the nails off a hummingbird—near to impossible!

Chapter Text

With a heavy sigh, Viggo looked at the two Englishmen. Both were visibly angry—close to boiling over, in fact. It didn’t help matters when Billy, usually so calm and jovial, jumped into the fray, siding with Dom.

The upshot—he and Sean were scum, the lowest of the low, heartless cads who thought more of their own pleasure than of the welfare of one of their dearest friends. It was when Elijah wandered in, joined in, and pointedly asked Viggo if the painting or whatever it was that he’d been working on had been worth it—had been worth the hurt on Orli’s face, the pain in his eyes. It was then that Viggo felt compelled to join in, himself.

He felt bad enough about not seeing Orlando; he didn’t need the others thinking it was deliberate. How could they think that, anyway? Didn’t they know him better than that? He knew it wasn’t really his fault, but to hear how hurt the boy was by his absence made him feel all the worse. Orlando had had enough pain; he didn’t want to contribute to it—make it worse.

Just as Viggo feared they were all going to come to blows, the door opened and Ian walked in, followed by Samantha Bloom. Unfortunately, the noise level was so high, the occupants so involved in their disagreement, that no one even noticed their entrance, or their presence in the room.

It was not until Viggo turned, forcing himself away from the squabbling assembly of men in an effort to regroup and regain control, that he saw the two standing there, twin expressions of horror on their faces at the sight they now beheld.

“Ian! Samantha! What…what are you doing here?”

“Looking for you, my boy. Looking for all of you, in fact. And, may I ask, what in the name of bloody hell is going on here?”
“We’re just telling them what poor excuses for friends they are. That’s what’s going on!” Dom replied in a loud voice, chest still heaving from his exertions and his face a vibrant shade of red.

Viggo reached out quickly and grabbed Sean just as he was preparing to launch himself at Dom. The Brit wasn’t pleased, but stopped his forward motion, mumbling under his breath about Manchester know-it-alls who really knew nothing.

Hearing the older man’s mutterings, Dom turned to look at him, an expression of anger crossing his face once more.
“Why you…”
He got no farther, stopped in his tracks by a dignified British voice, the voice of a knight of the realm—a voice shaking with anger at the moment.

“Stop it this instant!”

Ian stood tall, sweeping his angry gaze around the room, touching on each of them. It had the desired effect. Silence filled the room as the others stood, watching, waiting. They had never seen Ian so angry, and it startled them all into submission.

“I’m ashamed of you. You are all behaving like children! This is neither the time nor the place for that behavior.” When the others began giving sidelong glances to their neighbor, Ian continued. “Have you forgotten that you are all friends?”

Looking straight at Ian, Sean shook his head, a sheepish expression on his face.

“No. We haven’t forgotten. I think…we all just got a tad carried away.”

“Well let’s not have it happen again,” Ian replied sternly.

Viggo suddenly felt like a schoolboy, called before the principal for something he didn’t do. Glancing around at the others, he realized they evidently felt much the same, based on their silence and the looks of chagrin on their faces. Silently, he thanked Ian for his timely entrance and wise words.

Ian. Why was he here? With Samantha?

“Ian. Why are you…”

“…here?” the Brit finished for him. “We are here to end this mess once and for all. Ms. Bloom has something to say. Something you all need to hear.”

Viggo looked over at Orlando’s sister, already having a good idea of what she was going to say. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the three hobbits and Sean were doing the same.

“What is it, Samantha?” he prompted.

The young woman looked at Viggo with sorrow in her eyes. Then, sweeping her gaze over the rest of the ensemble, she allowed her eyes to settle on Ian, who nodded encouragingly.

“I’m here because of Orlando,” she began, her voice slow and soft. “He’s miserable. Very unhappy.”

“Yeah. Well, we know who contributed to that! Owww!” Dom put in before being poked in the ribs by Billy.

Rubbing the sore spot, he shot an angry look at his friend before returning his attention to Samantha, who was continuing with what she had to say.

“Yes, well, Orlando is very unhappy. He misses you, Viggo. And you, too, Sean. He wants to see you, very badly.”

Viggo shook his head in frustration.

“You know why we haven’t been there, Samantha.”

At this, Dom, Billy and Elijah looked from Viggo to Samantha in confusion.

“What are you talking about, Viggo? What do you mean she knows why you haven’t been to the hospital?”

Without taking his eyes from Samantha, Viggo responded.

“Tell him, Samantha. Tell Elijah and the others why we haven’t been to see Orlando. You were there.”

The young woman hung her head for a moment before responding. Then, “yes Viggo I was there. And I don’t understand my mother’s reaction. It was very unlike her.”

Looking around at the others, Samantha explained what had happened.

“My mother banished Viggo and Sean from the hospital. She told them they were no longer welcome there. And she advised the physicians and the rest of the hospital staff that they were not to be allowed in to see my brother. And that is why they have not been to the hospital.”

Dead silence met her proclamation. Viggo and Sean stood quietly, their honor restored somewhat, while the three younger men stood with mouths agape, clearly shocked by what they had just heard. Ian simply nodded his head sorrowfully, deeply saddened by all that had occurred.

Looking over at the hobbits, Sean announced, “That’s why I left a message for you, Dom. We wanted your help to get us back into the hospital. But you never got back to me.”

Dom looked at his fellow Brit in confusion, his brow wrinkled in thought.

“Message? I tried to call you back. Several times, in fact. But…” he trailed off and slapped a hand to his forehead. “Oh God! We were gone last night and all day today and then so upset when we got home that I…well, I guess it was just as hard for you to reach us because we were out as it was for us to get hold of you.”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Ian interjected, holding up a hand to forestall further argument. “What matters now is that we fix this. We need to make things right—for Orlando.”

The others nodded agreement.

“So what are we going to do?” Dom asked.

“I know what we’re going to do,” Samantha replied, her face intense. “I have a plan.”

Chapter Text

Viggo gazed at Samantha with a mixture of admiration and awe as she held the telephone to her ear and lied through her teeth.

“Yes, I’m Sonia Bloom. Yes. That’s right. I want you to lift the ban. I’m authorizing it. Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are now allowed to visit my son. What is that? Yes, any time. They can visit any time.”

‘What a smooth liar you are,’ Viggo marveled as he listened to the young woman speak with the nurse on Orlando’s floor.

Then, conversation apparently over, he watched as she replaced the phone on its cradle and turned to face them, a smile on her face.

“It’s all set. I just spoke with Nurse Billings and gave her the authorization to let you in. You shouldn’t have any problem. This first time, though, it might not hurt if you all went in together. You know? So you’re not real obvious?”

“And just in case someone doesn’t get the word,” Ian finished.

Viggo found himself nodding in agreement and noticed that Sean was doing likewise. He listened as the young woman continued.

“It’s very early—only 8:00—so I’m going to pick up mother and take her out to breakfast. That should give you a chance to go in and see him.”

Reaching out to grasp her hands. Viggo put his heart and soul into what he said next.

“Samantha. Thank you so much for all of this. You don’t know how much I appreciate this. How much Orlando will appreciate it.”

The young woman inclined her head slightly, squeezing his hands.

"Yes, Viggo, I do."

Closing her eyes briefly, she drew a deep breath, as if gathering her strength for what they were about to do.

"Okay, here's what we're going to do."

Viggo leaned closer in an effort to catch everything she said. This was too important to miss anything—not a word—and right now, he was willing to do just about anything to get in to see Orlando.

*****************************************

 

"All right, just keep walking. Pretend you belong here."

A pat on his shoulder followed by a quick squeeze, caused Viggo to glance to his right, where he saw Ian smiling in encouragement. He didn't know why, but he felt almost guilty creeping along the hospital corridors, sneaking in as he was. Sean Astin had assumed unofficial command of the mission and was barking out instructions nonstop.

He didn't know about the others, but personally, Viggo felt like belting him. Was he even pausing to breathe, he wondered? How was the man managing to get enough air in between sentences?

"...and when we get to the nurse's station, just keep walking. Be nonchalant about it. Don't act guilty."

To his left, Viggo realized that Bean had finally had enough.

"Will you give it a rest, mate? We know what to do, for God's sake. We're not going to run up to the nurse's station and announce ourselves. “Hello, we're Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean. We've been banned from visiting, but are coming in anyway. You were given false information to allow us to visit. Is that okay?”

The group, consisting of the entire Fellowship, minus Orlando, plus Hugo and Liv, came to a sudden standstill as Sean Astin, a hurt look on his face, stopped in his tracks and looked over at Sean Bean.

"I know that, Sean. I'm simply trying to make things easier. Help them run a little more smoothly."

Bean sighed and smiled at him, his anger obviously gone. Viggo released the breath he hadn't even realized he was holding when his friend reached over to clap his fellow Sean on the back.

"I know, lad, I know. These last few days have just been a little...tense, that's all."

"Well, that's an understatement," Billy replied, lightening the mood and garnering smiles and chuckles from those around him.

"And here we are," Viggo heard from behind him. He'd been so intent on the conversation going on around him that he hadn't even realized they'd passed the nurses station and come to a stop in front of a closed door--room 417. His heart began to beat a little faster in anticipation--he was going to see Orlando again, in just a minute.

Casting his gaze over the assembled group, he saw his friends and he realized what a lucky man he was. They were all here because of him--and Orlando. And at the moment, they all wore identical expressions. They were happy, too. He knew that they all wanted what was best for Orlando, and at the moment, that meant seeing him. So here he was--finally.

After a four day separation, he was anxious to see the young man. More than anxious, he was almost desperate in his need to make sure the boy was all right. He needed to see for himself, with his own eyes. Inhaling deeply, he turned to face the closed door, anxious and concerned about what he would find on the other side.

‘Would Orlando be happy to see him? Or angry that he hadn't come to visit?’ As far as he knew, Orlando had not been told the real reason behind his absence. So he had most likely spent the last four days feeling hurt and possibly even rejected because Viggo hadn't been there with the others.

Slowly releasing the breath he hadn't even realized he was holding, and praying that Samantha could keep Sonia Bloom occupied for the next several hours, Viggo braced himself for whatever was waiting for him beyond the door in front of him. Reaching out slowly, his hand trembling slightly, he grasped the door handle and pushed.

Chapter Text

VIGGO

The lights were dimmed, the room quiet. That was the first thing to hit Viggo as he entered slowly and quietly, not wanting to startle the occupant. Letting the door close behind him, Viggo took several steps towards the bed--and Orlando, who appeared to be sleeping.

A slight smile on his face, Viggo stopped next to the bed and allowed himself to study the young man. The bruises were beginning to fade and his friend looked much improved from the last time he'd seen him. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully and Viggo was reluctant to wake him. Instead, he stepped quietly over to the chair sitting next to the bed and lowered himself into it, content to just sit and observe. With a sudden thrill, Viggo realized that he'd never get enough of just gazing at the young man--he was beautiful, he was Orlando.

‘I want him to be mine,’ came the unbidden though, immediately pushed back to the recesses of the older man's mind. Small steps, he reminded himself. He'd have to take it one step at a time. And the first thing he'd have to do would be to see what the young man's reaction to him was going to be. He hoped it was a positive one.

Leaning back, he decided to be patient, to wait. Starting with the mop of curls, he swept his gaze over his friend, drinking in the sight of him. The forehead, creased slightly, as if with worry. The long lashes, dark against the pale skin of his face. The mouth, relaxed now in sleep, moving ever so slightly with each shallow breath. One hand lying on the covers, limp and still. The other clutching the blanket over his chest almost protectively.

Not for the first time, Viggo contemplated the wisdom of pursuing the young man. Especially now, after all Orli had been through this last week...and before. The boy needed time to recover, to get his life back on track. Was it fair to saddle him with the fawnings of an old—well, older—man at a time like this? Or was it a timely blessing? What if they’d been brought together at this moment in time for a specific reason? What if he was here to help Orli? To help him recover from his horrible ordeal…ordeals?

Looking at the boy sleeping quietly in the bed, Viggo continued contemplating his position in the young man’s life. Or the position he wanted to have, at any rate. He wanted to be with Orlando, by his side through thick and thin, as the saying went. It was sad that he didn’t realize how he felt about the young man until this tragedy almost made a future for them impossible. He hoped that they did have a future. Together.

A slight stirring from the bed interrupted his reverie. The dark head moved slightly, the curls appearing even darker against the white pillow. As Viggo watched, the eyelids began to flutter as Orlando made his way from sleep to wakefulness.

‘I guess I’ll find out soon what’s in store for us,’ Viggo thought, but then reminded himself, one step at a time. Take it slow.

When Orlando’s eyes finally opened, his questioning gaze was met with a tremulous smile. Viggo could feel his heart fluttering madly in his chest and silently cursed himself for acting like a love-starved teenager. He should be beyond all that—but he wasn’t. So all he could manage at the moment was a half-hearted, emotion-filled, lopsided smile.

ORLANDO

Silence. Intense silence was the first thing he noticed upon opening his eyes. And stillness. The second thing he noticed was that he was not alone in the room. Someone else was there. He could sense the presence of another person nearby—very close, in fact.

Turning his head on the pillow he forced himself to stifle a gasp of surprise. There was someone else in the room, but not his mother or Samantha, as he’d thought it would be. It was Viggo. After all these days of staying away, why was Viggo here? Why now?

Though he was immensely happy to see the man, he was also confused and not a little hurt. While he had been thrilled to see the others, he’d been downhearted by the absence of one. Viggo. Well, two actually, because he’d missed Bean, as well. But Viggo. He’d really thought Viggo cared about him—at least a little. The older man’s absence had shown him just how wrong he was. Because he knew that if Viggo did care for him, have any sort of feelings at all, he’d have been there, at the hospital, with him.

Now, looking up at the man, Orlando wasn’t sure how to react. He could feel his heart fluttering in anticipation, happiness, but he knew he had to be guarded. After all, why show up now, after all this time?

When Viggo gave him something that resembled a smile, Orlando just looked at him, feeling his own heart slowing down. Viggo’s smile didn’t look like a happy one. So that must mean that he didn’t want to be here. Maybe he was forced to come and was just putting on a good face about it. That was it; Ian and the others had probably tracked Viggo down and made him come visit.

And if he was completely honest with himself, Orlando realized he couldn’t blame the man. Why would he want to stay? What would he be getting? Used goods, that’s what. Well, he could put on a good face about it, as well.

“Hullo,” he said, his voice low and guarded.

He watched as Viggo leaned closer to the bed, another small smile on his face.

“Hi there. How are you doing?”

Orlando shrugged in reply. He didn’t really know what to say. Should he tell Viggo that he was not doing well at all, that he felt like the lowest of the low, the dirt beneath the dirt? Or should he tell him what he obviously wanted to hear?

“All right,” he finally replied. “Better.” What a liar he was. But he must be a good one; he seemed to be fooling everybody around him, making them all think he was getting better, when he was really…

He watched without watching as Viggo smiled again and leaned back to sit in his chair, relaxing slightly.

“I’m glad to hear that. We’ve all been pretty worried about you.”

What could he say to that? If Viggo had been so worried about him, why wasn’t he here? Why did it take him so many days to come back to visit? And even at that, he was dragged in by the others, obviously unwilling to come on his own. While he realized that Viggo—and Bean, too for that matter—had probably been disgusted by what they’d learned of his past, and his reaction to it, it still hurt to think they would abandon him because of it. But maybe it was times like this when you learned who your friends really were. With this thought, he sighed deeply, a frown marring his features.

“You sure you’re okay?” Viggo asked, a concerned look on his face.

He shrugged again. Why did the man have to keep pretending? Why was he even here? Everything he’d wanted to say to Viggo—before—no longer applied. Everything had changed. He had changed. He knew Viggo could see it. That’s why he hadn’t been coming around. That’s why he hadn’t been there for him…no, not for him, with him. He didn’t need anyone to be there for him. He was pretty good at handling things on his own. Viggo was speaking again.

“I really missed seeing you. I wanted to be here but…”

Orlando’s attention was drawn to the other man as he trailed off, his mournful train of thought interrupted by Viggo’s declaration. Why would he say that? He didn’t mean it. But…he had to know why Viggo was lying to him.

“What…what do you mean you missed seeing me?” So softly he was barely heard by the other man.

Viggo looked confused for a moment, but then smiled again and nodded his head.

“I did miss you, Orli. Very much.”

He couldn’t take it any more. No more pretense. No more pretending. He just couldn’t go on with it.

“Why are you saying that? Why are you lying to me?”

He watched in satisfaction as Viggo’s mouth nearly dropped open and his eyes widened in what seemed to be surprise.

“What are you talking about, Orli? What do you mean? I’m not lying about anything!

Orlando snorted and shook his head in disgust, both at Viggo and at himself as he felt the tears threatened to well and fall. He wouldn’t—couldn’t—give the other man the satisfaction.

 

VIGGO

In shock, he watched as the other man shook his head in what appeared to be disgust. And he could see the tears that were there, but not quite falling. What had he said? What had he done? Leaning forward, he tried to console the young man, who was now staring down at his the bed.

“Orli, I’m sorry. Please, look at me.”

When the young man kept looking at the bed sheets, Viggo rose from his chair and in half a step was beside him. Leaning down, he reached out to grasp the nearest shoulder. The reaction was instantaneous. The young man jerked away, a strangled cry caught in his throat as he did so. Viggo moved his hand away.

“Orli, please. I’m not lying about anything. I’m not.”

His mind was whirling in confusion as he wondered what—and how much—he should tell the young man. Should he tell him how much he’d wanted to be here, by his side, for the last five days? Should he tell him how painful it was being separated from him, knowing he was suffering, knowing he was alone—to a large extent? Or—and this was the crux of it—should he tell him why he hadn’t been here for the last five days? Should he tell the young man that it was his own mother who had forbidden him to even enter the hospital?

Viggo sighed in frustration, causing the boy to look over at him questioningly. No, as much as he wanted to tell Orlando the truth behind his absence, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t point the finger of blame at Sonia Bloom, even if she was the one responsible for the situation. She was Orlando’s mother and the boy loved her. He couldn’t be responsible for creating a rift between them, even though he was furious with her himself.

So he sat, silent for the moment, as he contemplated his next words. But just as he had decided how to explain himself, the door opened and Billy poked his head in.

“Pssst, Viggo. Orli’s mother just got off the elevator. She’s headed this way!”

Chapter Text

Viggo felt his smile freeze in place at Billy’s words. A quick glance at the bed told him that Orlando had heard the news, as well. His heart pounding at the confrontation he knew was coming, he started to reach out to the young man, then thought better of it and lowered his hand to the bed, thumping it twice with his fist.

“Orlando, I’ll…I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Trying his best to ignore the hurt, questioning look in the young man’s liquid brown eyes, Viggo turned to leave the room. ‘Time to face the piper.’ Squaring his shoulders, he reached out to grasp the door handle. Looking back at the young man on the bed, Viggo smiled tentatively before exiting the room.

Pulling the door closed so that Orlando wouldn’t hear what was going on right outside, Viggo looked questioningly at his friends, who immediately closed ranks around him, almost seeming to form a protective circle. Moving his gaze outside the circle, he observed Sonia Bloom, fists on hips, face red with anger.

“What is the meaning of this? Why are you here?”

Hands outstretched, Viggo stepped forward, shrugging off Beanie’s hand as the other man reached out for him, as if to give support. He was determined not to create any more problems than they already had. He was willing to take the low road.

“Mrs. Bloom. Sonia…”

“Mrs. Bloom to you,” she interrupted, in a voice dripping with ice.

Taken aback by her enraged tone, Viggo unconsciously took several steps back.

“Mrs. Bloom, wait a minute, please.”

Reaching out to placate the irate woman, Ian laid a hand on her shoulder. A hand that was quickly shrugged off. Unflappable as always, the Brit tried again.

“Mrs. Bloom. Please listen. If not for us, then for your son. For Orlando.”

Her eyes blazing, she whirled on him, her anger almost palpable.

“I am thinking of him. He is all I’ve thought about. I don’t appreciate my trust being betrayed.”

As the others stood silent, obviously uncertain as to who should make the next move or what that move should be, a new voice was heard.

“What betrayal? What are you talking about?”

As the expression went, the accumulated group could have heard a pin drop, the silence was so great. All eyes turned to look at Orlando, who was standing in the open doorway of his room, one hand clutching the haphazardly tied robe he’d obviously just thrown on, the other holding on to the door jamb, as if for support.

“What’s going on?” he asked, surveying the suddenly silent group gathered outside his room. When no one made a move to respond, he looked over at his mother and sister. “Mum? Sam? What’s going on?”

Even Sonia remained silent, her eyes downcast, clearly unwilling to reply.

“Sam?” he tried, looking over to his sister.

The girl in question glanced frantically at her mother before shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders.

Viggo took in the young man’s sigh of frustration and his look of confusion at the continued silence, but said nothing, unwilling to create more friction. He especially did not want to come between mother and son, regardless of the fact that he had been made the villain in this scenario. So he remained silent, kept his mouth shut.

“I heard yelling. Will someone please tell me what is going on?”

“I’ll tell you what’s been going on!” Dom declared, shoving his way to the front of the assembled group.

Reaching out, Viggo grabbed his arm, pulling him back, even as he shook his head in the negative.

“No, Dom. Don’t.”

The younger man looked up at his friend, eyes narrowed in anger. He was obviously fuming.

“But Viggo, it’s not right!”

“Dom!” This from Beanie, doing his part to maintain the peace and support Viggo’s wishes.

The hotheaded young man claimed everyone’s attention as he whirled on Sean, his entire body resonating with anger and frustration.

“No. It’s not right. Orli deserves to know. It’s not fair to Viggo!”

“Dom! That’s enough! Don’t say another word!”

Strangely, everyone else remained silent, taking in the dramatic movie playing itself out before them. And the sound of an angry Viggo, angry to the point of bursting, so unusual in itself, was enough to keep them quiet.

Looking first at Viggo, then Dom, then his mother, Orlando’s eyes narrowed in confusion.

“Would somebody please tell me what is going on? I want to know! Now!!”

Dom glanced at Viggo, but lowered his head and remained silent, obviously unwilling to anger the man any further.

Orlando looked to his mother.

“Mum? Please, tell me what’s going on.” His voice had taken on a pleading quality.

Silent throughout, Sonia Bloom seemed to come to some sort of decision. Raising her downcast eyes to focus on her son, she nodded towards his room and moved forward.

“Come, Orlando. Come into your room. I’ll explain everything.”

Without a backwards glance, she ushered Orlando into his room and closed the door behind them.

Viggo cast a worried look at his assembled friends. As much as he disliked the idea of the situation creating a rift between Orlando and his mother, he detested the thought that Orlando would continue to think badly of him. He wondered, not without a great deal of apprehension, what Sonia was going to tell Orlando.

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

Once they were inside the room, the door closed securely behind them, Orlando rounded on his mother, his eyes narrowed in confusion.

“What’s going on, Mum?”

Reaching out, Sonia attempted to gather him into a reassuring hug, but when he stepped back, just out of reach, she sighed and dropped her arms to her side. Shaking her head, she tried to appease him.

“It’s nothing, Orlando. Nothing for you to worry about at any rate.”

“Mum,” he replied forcefully, “I’m not a child. I know something’s going on. You were angry. Viggo and the others were angry. What happened?”

Seeing the pleading expression on his face, Sonia drew in a deep breath, deciding what—or how much—to reveal to her son.

“Son, there’s just been a…disagreement, that’s all. It’s nothing important really.”

Orlando looked at her skeptically, but realizing that she was not going to reveal anything, he let the subject drop—at least for the moment. He’d find out from one of the others what was going on.

“All right, Mum. I’ll let it go.”

Noticing the defeated look on his face, Sonia softened the look on her face and forced a smile.

“Hey, you get to go home tomorrow. The doctor promised. Won’t that be nice? Once you’re home, you can get back to your regular routine. Everything will get back to normal.” Seeing his doubtful look, she rushed on, “You’ll see. Everything will be fine.”

Not really believing her, but not wishing to get into a long discussion regarding the matter, Orlando just shrugged. Inside, though, his mind was racing frantically. ‘Back to normal? How could anything about his life get back to normal? He wasn’t normal anymore. He didn’t even know what normal was.’

A soft knock on the door interrupted his train of thought and he and Sonia both looked up just in time to see Dom poke his head inside.

“Hey there. Feel like some more company?”

Orlando noticed Dom’s eyes darting back and forth between him and his mother, but was clueless as to the reason for it. Oh well, it would be nice to visit with his friends. It would be nice to visit with Viggo again. And Beanie, if he was here. Noticing his mother’s sudden tension, Orlando nodded at his friend and moved to sit in the chair by the window.

“Sure, come on in.”

The door opened even wider to admit Dom and Elijah, with Viggo and Beanie immediately behind them. Again, Orlando sensed his mother’s unease, but didn’t know what the connection could be. At the moment, however, he didn’t really care. He was too tired to really think about it. Right now, he just wanted to revel in the presence of his friends.

Dom and Elijah immediately began talking, asking him how he was feeling, what he’d been doing. Beanie just stood there with a big grin on his face, inserting a word here and there into the conversation, asking an occasional question, just seeming to enjoy the company. And Viggo. Viggo stood silent and still, his eyes seeming to sweep over every inch of his body, as if drinking in the very sight of him. It made the young man slightly nervous. But deep inside, he was very glad that Viggo was here.

So engrossed was he in conversation that he never noticed the others drift in, gradually, over the course of the next half hour. It wasn’t until the din in the room had risen and he glanced around, taking in the entire Fellowship, along with Hugo that he noticed. And he felt a little surge of warmth inside when he realized that they were all there for him—just for him.
Not until his mother asked Viggo to step outside for a moment did Orlando notice the slight tension remaining in the room.

Surveying the assembled crowd quickly, he saw that everyone was included. Especially his mother and Sam. And Viggo and Bean. The others continued their chatter, but kept casting anxious glances back and forth between each other and his mother. Something was going on.

VIGGO

His heart had given an anxious flutter when the door closed behind Orlando and his mother. Orlando obviously knew something was going on. The question was, what would his mother tell him?

Would she be truthful? Probably not. Or maybe she’d tell him a partial version of the truth—her version? He didn’t know what Orlando was going to hear, but he had a feeling that he was not going to come out on top, whatever the woman ended up saying.

And then, finally, Dom took the initiative and basically barged into the room, the rest of them in tow. It was wonderful to be in Orlando’s presence again. He was able to just stand back and admire the young man—bask in his closeness. Viggo knew he could stand and watch Orlando forever. Even if he was just sitting there, doing nothing. And that is what he did—stand and watch, stand and admire. Until his thoughts were interrupted by a tightly controlled voice asking him to step outside.

Not wanting to leave Orlando, but also having no desire to create a scene, Viggo agreed, exiting the room quietly. Once out in the hall, Orlando’s mother rounded on him, her eyes narrowed in anger, her face contorted in fury.

“How dare you go against my orders! I gave explicit instructions that you were not to come here!”

Hands outstretched as if in appeasement, Viggo shook his head slightly in an attempt to gather his wits about him. The woman before him was enraged, and getting worse.
“Mrs. Bloom. I only have Orlando’s best interests at heart. You have to know that. I wouldn’t hurt him for the world.”

A strange look came over her face at his last words, and he forged ahead, hoping he had the advantage for the moment.

“I want only the best for your son,” he reiterated. “I want to do everything possible to help him recover from this…this horrible incident.”

Venom in her voice, she leaned in close to him.

“Then why are you spreading horrible lies about him?”

Dumbfounded, Viggo just looked at her, trying to figure out what she was talking about.

“Lies? What do you mean?”

“Why are you filling his head with fabrications about the past? Hmmmm?”

Shaking his head in confusion, Viggo was speechless for the moment. Then, recovering slightly, he continued.

“But, I haven’t. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I would never lie to Orlando.”

A humorless laugh was his response. The woman had a strange look on her face.

“Oh, but you have, Mr. Mortensen. You have. It was because of you that my son ended up in the psychiatric ward. No one in my family has ever been a patient in a ward like that.”

“Mrs. Bloom. What lies are you talking about? What am I supposed to have told Orlando that wasn’t true?”

If it was possible, the woman looked even more angry.

“You are telling him things that are simply untrue.”

Looking at her in confusion, and not a little exasperation, Viggo shook his head once more.

“Mrs. Bloom. I haven’t told him anything that’s not been confirmed by the physicians.”

“You’re lying!” the woman hissed.

A niggling of something was churning in the back of Viggo’s mind. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Mrs. Bloom. Why are you so adamant that it didn’t happen?”

Paling noticeably, she shook her head in negation.

“It’s none of your business. Just stay away from my son.”

But Viggo had had enough. This time, he wasn’t going to give in.

“No, I won’t. I want to help Orlando get through this, and the doctors say part of that is helping him face his past.”

“There is no past. Just leave it alone!”

The woman was simply irate, and Viggo took several steps back in an attempt to get away from her. But he wasn’t yet willing to give up, nor was he ready to drop the topic of conversation. He was going to see this through.

“Why? Why are you insisting this never happened? It makes no sense.”

She just looked at him with something akin to hatred. Seeing his advantage, Viggo pressed on.

“In fact, you were there! You’re his mother. Didn’t you see anything? Notice anything? You lived in the same house. How could something like this…this abuse…have gone on for so many years without you knowing?”

Watching her carefully, Viggo saw her expression change slightly, the intense hatred being replaced by something else. He wasn’t quite sure what, though.

“I mean, who was this man, that you let him into your house? Into your lives and the lives of your children?”

Regaining her voice, Sonia boomed back.

“He was a good man. My husband’s best friend. A wonderful help to me.”

“What do you mean? A wonderful help?”

“When Harry died, I needed…somebody. Alexander stepped in. He took over many of the things I couldn’t handle. He helped with the children. He kept us going.”

“And you needed that, didn’t you? His help?”

The vague niggling in the back of his mind was starting to take shape, but Viggo didn’t like the direction it was going.

“Of course I needed his help. I was grief-stricken. A widow with two small children. I needed all the help I could get. He did nearly everything for us.”

“Well, he must have been a wonderful man. Very giving.” Viggo replied sarcastically. “What did he expect in return? Your son?”

“No!” she positively shouted. “It wasn’t like that. He loves Orlando. He always has.”

“So you sacrificed Orlando to him. Is that it? You gave him your son so that your comfortable life could continue? So someone else would continue to handle things for you? So you wouldn’t have to worry about anything?”

“No, it wasn’t like that at all.” she repeated. “I had to do something, didn’t I? And he promised he wouldn’t hurt…”

She trailed off suddenly, as if realizing what she was about to reveal. But Viggo knew! He knew suddenly that his instinct had been correct. And he was sickened by it. He was sickened even more by the realization that the door to Orlando’s room was open and Orlando, himself, was standing there listening…drinking in every sordid word. The expression on the young man’s face sickened Viggo even more. He had heard!

Chapter Text

A sharp, strangled gasp was all that could be heard in the sudden silence. Viggo felt as if he was frozen, totally unable to move. Orlando looked like he’d seen a ghost. Face as white as snow, eyes as large as saucers. Liquid brown eyes that were filled with disbelief--and hurt. Eyes that were moving back and forth between his mother and Viggo. Eyes that were imploring them to stop. Eyes that were asking the question--please say this isn’t the truth?

Hearing the sound, Sonia’s attention immediately focused on her son. Realizing that he’d heard at least part of their conversation, she took several steps towards him, her arms outstretched as if to enfold him into her embrace. Viggo also moved forward, but Orlando was having none of it. Looking at his mother as if he’d never seen her before, he uttered only one word...only one word, so soft it could barely be heard. “No.”

"Orlando please," his mother begged.

But he was gone. Before either of them quite realized what had happened, he was gone, down the hall and into the elevator. A shocked silence followed. Viggo and Sonia stared at each other, and then at the elevator doors as they closed behind the retreating figure of Orlando.

"What happened?" Ian asked from the still open door. Behind him, the rest of the Fellowship--and Hugo--were crowding in, attempting to see what the commotion was about.

"He’s gone," Sonia Bloom replied numbly. As the others filed out of the room and into the hall, she looked for her daughter. Finding her, she reached out. "Oh, Samantha!" But seeing the look of shock and horror on her daughter’s face, she faltered, unsure how to continue.

"Mum, is that true? Did you really do that?"

The expression on Sonia Bloom’s face answered her question and Samantha stifled a sob.

"Oh mum. How could you?"

"Samantha, no! Please. You don’t understand. I didn’t have a choice!"

Samantha moved towards her mother where she stopped, staring at her with something akin to hatred in her eyes, as if she were looking at a stranger.

"Mum. What’s to understand? We were children! He was just a little boy. Your son!"

Looking around frantically, her eyes tear-filled, the young woman took in the faces around her, horror-filled, sorrowful, in shock. All of the emotions were present and accounted for. She was feeling all of them but mostly, as she stared at the woman in front of her, she was feeling the presence of a stranger. She was looking at someone she’d never seen before. Turning, she ran after her brother, without a backwards glance at any of them.

Viggo took off after her, Beanie hot on his heels. He could vaguely hear the commotion beginning behind them, but didn’t look back.

Watching them go and putting out a restraining arm to keep Dom and Elijah from following, Ian shook his head in sorrow. Looking down at the younger men, he attempted a small smile.

"He won’t get far. He’s barefoot and wearing a robe. He’ll be back. Viggo and Bean will find him. Don’t worry."

He sounded like he was trying to reassure himself as much as the others. There was a look of infinite sadness in his eyes that couldn’t be disguised by the lightness of his words.

VIGGO

He was frantic. In shock. Not wanting to believe what he’d heard, but knowing in his heart it was true. And with that knowledge came the horror. The horror of knowing that not only had Orlando gone through hell for years, but that his own mother had condoned--and allowed--that hell to occur. But he didn’t have time to dwell on that now. He had to find young man.

Punching the first floor button for the fifth time in as many seconds, he looked up to see what floor they were on. Two more to go and they’d be on the ground level. Glancing over at Sean, he saw the same look of intensity and horror on his face that he knew was mirrored on his own. There was also an expression of concern marring his handsome features. The young man they both cared about was out there--somewhere--distraught and hurt.

"Don’t worry, Viggo. We’ll find him."

Glancing over at his friend as the elevator doors opened, Viggo mustered a semi-smile.

"I hope so, Sean. I hope so."

Entering the downstairs lobby from the elevator, the two men stopped, having no idea where they were going.

Unwittingly repeating Ian’s words, Viggo muttered, “He can’t have gone far. He’s barefoot and wearing a hospital robe."

"Very true. But where do you think he went?"

Viggo stood still and silent, mulling the question over in his mind.

"I don’t think he’d leave the hospital. He’s not ready for that yet. Not on his own, anyway."

"So somewhere here, then."

"Yes, somewhere here. But where?"

"I know," a quiet voice said, causing both men to refocus their attention.

Samantha Bloom walked towards them, her tear-stained face filled with sorrow.

"When we were little, and Orlando was upset, he always went to the neighborhood chapel. Said he felt safe there. He’s probably here in the hospital, in the hospital chapel."

"All right, then. Let’s go." Sean replied matter-of-factly, leading the way down a corridor, with arrows pointing to the chapel. The other two followed.

Viggo was still frantic with worry, but felt himself calming somewhat. He just needed to find Orli, to see him with his own eyes and make sure he was all right.

Not three minutes later, they found themselves standing outside the door marked “Chapel.” Peering through the window in the door, Viggo could see a lone figure sitting in the front pew. A solitary being with dark brown curls. Breathing a sigh of relief, he looked over at Sean and Samantha, who both nodded towards the door, sending the silent message that he should go on in. Taking a deep, steadying breath, Viggo reached out and pushed the door open.

The young man in the front pew didn’t acknowledge his presence, didn’t even move. Even when Viggo moved to sit on the bench behind him, Orlando still remained motionless. But then the older man realized that he wasn’t, not really. Barely perceptible were the tiny shudders that shook the thin frame with each silent sob. Stretching forward to look at him, Viggo could see that the boy’s eyes were red and swollen, the tears continuing to fall.

Reaching out, Viggo placed a steady hand on the shoulder in front of him, ignoring the barely discernible flinch as he did so. He didn’t move his hand, but kept it there, his touch so light it was like a feather.

“Orlando,” he began. No response, though he hadn’t really expected any. Trying again. “Orli, look at me, please.” Still nothing. Then, “Orlando. It’s going to be all right. I promise.”

The curly head lifted and turned, and Viggo found himself looking into the saddest eyes he’d ever seen. Red-rimmed and swollen, they were filled with more anguish than Viggo was used to seeing. And they were looking directly at him.

Chapter Text

“How can you say that?” the boy whispered in a voice so low Viggo had to strain to hear it. “Nothing’s ever going to be all right again.”

Viggo looked at his friend’s anguished face, heard the defeat in his voice and felt his heart breaking all over again. He desperately wanted to make everything all better for the young man. But he had no idea how to do that.

Attempting to make eye contact, Viggo looked directly at Orlando, a tentative smile on his face. He gave the shoulder he still held a soft squeeze.

“Orlando. Whatever happens, you’re not alone. Please remember that.” When the young man shook his head in denial, Viggo rushed on. “Your friends are here…with you…for you. I’m here. And I’m staying…no matter what.”

The young man shook his head slowly back and forth, the bouncing of his dark curls incongruous against his despondent demeanor. Finally, he raised his red-rimmed eyes to meet Viggo’s.

“How can you say that?”

“What do you mean? Say what?” Viggo asked in confusion.

“Why would you want to be around me? You know what I am!”

Viggo felt his own eyes well up in sorrow, but he blinked furiously in an attempt to forestall the tears. Drawing a shaky breath, he considered his next words, desperately needing to choose the right ones. One wrong word now could change everything.

“Orlando. Orli. Yes, I do know what you are. You’re a wonderful, kind, thoughtful young man who I feel honored to know. Honored to call friend.”

“But, Viggo…”

“No, Orli. No. Nothing that has happened to you—one week ago or fifteen years ago—changes who you are.”

Orlando shook his head in denial once again, his tears flowing anew. Then, very softly, he spoke again. Viggo could barely make out the words through the boy’s tears.

“But…my own mother. Even she must have thought I wasn’t worth anything.”

The older man watched helplessly as Orlando lowered his head and covered his face with shaking hands. The sobs increased in strength and became audible. Hesitating only a moment, Viggo got up and moved to sit on the pew beside his young friend. Then, reaching out, he gathered the distraught boy into his arms and held him closely, next to his heart.

After initially pulling back, Orlando finally allowed the embrace, seeming to sink as far as he could into Viggo’s strong, supportive arms. Burying his face in the other man’s shoulder, he let himself go and cried as if his heart was breaking. Powerless, Viggo just sat there and hugged him, offering what support he could.

Lowering his face until his cheek was resting on the tousled brown curls, Viggo inhaled the sweet scent that was Orlando. He didn’t want to concentrate on the violent emotions that were fighting for priority inside him, so instead, he focused on the boy in his arms.

The boy he wanted to hold and protect forever. Without even realizing he was doing so, Viggo found himself rocking back and forth, ever so slightly, a gentle, soothing motion that was meant to calm.

“Shhhh, shhhhh. It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be all right. We’ll get through this. You’ll see.”

He continued, whispering softly into the young man’s ear, saying whatever came to mind…whatever might help. Behind him, he heard the door to the chapel open quietly. He knew it was Sean and Samantha, but didn’t lift his head to look. He just continued his rocking and whispering. And Orlando continued to cry, though not as harshly or as hard as before.

Finally--he didn’t know how much later--the sobs subsided to occasional whimpers, the tremors lessened, and Orlando spoke. Viggo had to strain to hear the words. And when he had, he almost wished he hadn’t.

“Why? Why would my mum do that? I thought she loved me.”

“Oh, Orlando. She does love you. She does. She always has.”

Even as he uttered the words, Viggo had to force himself to sound like he believed them. And at the moment, that was hard, especially when the head pressed against his shoulder began to shake back and forth, the soft hair brushing his cheek with each short movement.

“No. She used me. Just like…” he trailed off, obviously unable to continue, and Viggo felt his shirt becoming wet with still-falling tears. Then the soft voice continued, low and muffled against the older man’s shoulder. “Why does everyone I love hurt me? Am I that bad a person?”

“Don’t even think that,” Viggo replied, reaching up to stroke the hair against his cheek gently.

“But you did it too,” came the voice again, so low and quiet that Viggo thought he had misheard the statement.

His hand stopped its stroking motion for a moment as he tried to process what he’d just heard.

“What are you talking about, Orli? How did I hurt you?”

Even as he asked the question, Viggo felt his heart sinking. He knew. He knew what Orlando was talking about and he had no idea what to say to him. How to explain it.

“You didn’t come.”

There it was. Out in the open. He’d known that was what the young man was referring to, but hearing it spoken aloud made it seem all the more real. And he didn’t know how to explain it. How did he tell the young man in his arms—the young man who was hurting so badly for so many reasons—that he’d wanted to be there every minute? That he didn’t want to leave him at all? But that the boy’s own mother had banished him from the hospital—and from his side—seemingly for good?

Viggo knew he couldn’t tell Orlando any of that. Especially after the young man had just discovered that his own mother had basically prostituted him for her own gain. So, biting his tongue and his pride, he said the only thing he could think to say.

“I wanted to come, Orli, but I just…couldn’t.”

Orlando pulled back slightly and lifted his head just enough to look at Viggo’s face. The young man’s expression was filled with so much pain and anguish that the older man had to look away for a moment. He couldn’t bear to keep looking, knowing that he was the cause of that suffering.

And then, voice still low and trembling slightly, “But I thought you were my friend.” The chocolate brown eyes closed as more tears fell.

Viggo felt his own tears threatening to return and swallowed the lump in his throat as he tried to remain firm in his resolve. But then, a voice from the back caught his attention.

“Tell him, Viggo. He needs to know. He deserves to know.”

Viggo looked over the precious head he held to where Sean and Samantha stood in the back, by the door. As their eyes met, Sean inclined his head, urging him to tell Orlando the truth. But still, he hesitated, not wanting to further tarnish the young man’s image of his mother. Samantha made the decision for him.

“It’s all right, Viggo. He needs to know. You need to be fair to yourself—and to him.”

Locking eyes with Orlando’s sister, Viggo saw the sadness reflected there. Sadness for all that had happened to her brother. Sadness for all that her mother had done. But there was also a glimmer of determination. Determination that her little brother would come out on top and get past everything that had occurred. It was that that decided Viggo. Nodding to Samantha, he turned his full attention back to the young man in his arms.

“Orlando. I wanted to be there with you. More than anything in the world I wanted to be by your side. But…there was a problem…something that kept me from doing that.”

The young man in his embrace lifted a wet face to look at him questioningly.

“What was it?” he asked, sounding as if he didn’t dare believe there was a concrete reason for Viggo’s absence.

Here was the hard part. Viggo swallowed and blinked, gathering his courage around him like Aragorn’s cloak.

“It was…it was your mother, Orlando.”

Brown eyes filled with confusion.

“My Mum?”

Viggo nodded solemnly.

“Yes, your mother. She decided that she didn’t want me…or Sean…to visit you anymore.” There, it was out. And now that it was out, it was easier to continue. “She gave orders that we weren’t allowed anywhere near your room. I tried, but….couldn’t get in.” Seeing the confusion slowly turn to despair, Viggo rushed to finish. “But it’s all right, Orli. I’m here now. With you. And I’m not leaving this time.”

Orlando shook his head back and forth. He looked like he was in shock.

“I don’t understand. Why would she do that?”

Heaving a heavy sigh, Viggo looked at him sadly, tightening his grip around the still trembling shoulders.

“I’m not sure, Orli. After I told you that I knew about what had happened to you…before…you got very upset. She blamed me for that. She said I was filling your head with lies. Upsetting you with things that had never even happened.”

Orlando shook his head slowly, his eyes more sorrowful than anything Viggo had ever seen. In fact, the young man’s entire expression was one of total and absolute dejection. With a quiet sniff, he rubbed a hand across his eyes and looked at Viggo once more.

“But it did,” he whispered. “It did.”

Chapter Text

“But it did.” The words echoed in Viggo’s mind, even as he heard the quiet gasp from behind him as Samantha registered the truth of what her brother had just said. Feeling a presence—very close—he looked up and met Sean’s eyes—eyes that were filled with pain and sadness.

The other man had moved forward until he was standing just beside Viggo. Nodding his head towards the pew beside him, Viggo gestured for his friend to join him—to sit. Sean complied.

Samantha, too, moved forward to sit next to Orlando. Reaching out, she embraced her brother, holding him tightly. To Viggo, it looked like she was trying to share her strength with her brother. It was something they were all going to need in abundance.

The threesome sat quietly for several moments, the only sounds in the chapel Orlando’s quiet sobs and Viggo’s hushed attempts to comfort him. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the boy’s weeping dwindled to ragged gasps and hiccoughs.

Viggo continued to hold him, rocking slowly, patting his back occasionally. And then, silence, as Viggo realized that the body in his arms had stilled—no more whimpers, no more hiccoughs, no more trembling. Orlando lay nestled in his arms, totally spent.

When Sean reached over to pat the nearest shoulder gently, asking “are you all right there, lad?” Orlando finally moved.

Lifting his head to look at the three people gathered around him, he proclaimed, “I want to go home.”

“We’ll have to see what the doctor says.” Viggo replied, thrilled to be getting a response, but a bit alarmed at the look on Orlando’s face. It was an expression of intensity fueled by something Viggo couldn’t quite put his finger on.

It scared him a bit, especially when the young man shook his head more forcefully than before and stated matter-of-factly, “I want out of here…now.”

Looking over at Sean, he took in the expression of concern in his eyes. Orlando had gone from being almost totally passive to highly aggressive in a matter of minutes. He didn’t know if that was a good thing.

“Orli,” Samantha tried, loosening her embrace and sitting back. “The doctor has to release you, if he feels you’re ready. And I don’t know what Mum will think about…”

“I don’t care what Mum thinks!”

They all gasped in surprise, startled as Orlando wrenched himself out of Viggo’s arms and rounded on his sister. His eyes were wild, his expression so intense and angry Viggo feared he would explode. The young man wasn’t finished, though. “Why should I care what she thinks? Did she ever give a fuck about me?”

Before their eyes, Orlando had transformed from a distraught, sorrow-filled young man to one who was raging with anger. Standing, he shook the remaining hands off, only to find himself hemmed in by Sean and Samantha on either side.

Beneath the seething exterior, Viggo could see the scared deer, ready to bolt. Reaching up, he attempted to grasp an arm, but was shaken off as Orlando tried to move past Sean.

“Wait lad! Just wait. Why don’t we all go find the doctor right now? Okay? We’ll tell her you want to leave.”

Sean, the voice of calm reason, for which Viggo was eternally grateful at the moment.

Ever so slowly, Sean reached out to grasp Orlando’s hand, his grip light but firm. The boy turned to look down at his fellow Brit, taking in what he had said and finally, it appeared, accepting it. Keeping his gaze fixed with Sean’s green one, he nodded slowly, deflating slightly.

“Orlando,” Viggo said quietly. “Would you like one of us to bring the doctor here? Would that be better?”

The liquid brown eyes, so filled with hurt and anguish, moved to focus on him, blinking away a new crop of tears which were threatening to spill. The boy was obviously confused, not knowing which way to turn, what to do.

Then, “okay,” he said softy, sinking down once more to sit on the pew beside Viggo. “Okay.”

“I’ll go,” Sean supplied, squeezing Orlando’s hand once before releasing it. “Be back in a few minutes.”

Viggo smiled at his friend in gratitude, eternally indebted for his friendship and his support. With a nod at them all, the Brit turned and left the chapel.

 

“Dominic, not now. This is neither the place nor the time.”

Ian’s voice, quiet but authoritative, served to stop Dom in his tracks, although it didn’t prevent the young man from looking at him incredulously, his expression filled with anger.

“But Ian! You heard what…”

“Not now!” the older man snapped, his own anger rising and uncharacteristically visible.

Dom closed his mouth and stood, as did the rest of the group, staring at Ian in amazement. Their Gandalf never got angry—at least not angry enough to show it, not angry enough to overpower them all.

“Come on, Dom. Ian’s right. This isn’t the time.”

Sean Astin, the voice of sensibility and reason, spoke into the silence. The others remained silent, gathered together—consciously or not—in a unified group, facing off against the woman they now held responsible for everything that had occurred—Sonia Bloom.

From the moment Orlando had bolted down the hall and into the elevator, his mother had stood, rooted firmly in place, almost in shock. Tears fell silently down her face as she looked first at the elevator doors closing behind her son and then at the visibly enraged group assembled across from her. She remained silent, making no move to defend herself, offering no amends.

The seven remaining men appeared to be in shock themselves and stayed riveted to the spot, glaring at the woman in front of them. From the moment Orlando had opened the door to his room, they had head the conversation between her and Viggo. They knew what she had done to her son—to their friend.

And now they were torn between concern for that friend and rage at his mother. As angry as he was, Ian had managed to keep the situation from escalating. Though his own insides were churning at the thought of what this woman had subjected her son to, he realized that this was not the occasion to address the situation. Not in the hallway of the hospital, with the nurse’s station twenty feet beyond them.

Though he too was desperately worried about Orlando, he knew that Viggo and Sean would find him and take care of him. He deemed it his responsibility to handle the rest of the group. With a steady look at Orlando’s mother, Ian addressed the rest of the group.

“Why don’t we adjourn to the waiting room?”

Nods of assent all around.

“Come then, let us go.” And Ian led the way, trusting that the others would follow.

Chapter Text

Viggo sat quietly, casting concerned glances at Orlando, who had not uttered a word since Sean had left them. The young man sat, still and silent, seemingly in a world of his own. Almost unaware of the others’ presence. Viggo was worried and he could tell, as he met her gaze over Orlando’s head, that Samantha was, as well.

He had no idea how long Sean had been gone, though he was sure it was only minutes. Time seemed to creep to a standstill when it was being watched, he thought idly. He embraced the young man, enfolding him tighter in his arms, as if to reassure him that he was safe. That nothing further would happen to him.

And if he was honest with himself, feeling Orlando held tightly in his arms was comforting. It reminded him that hope was not lost. Resting his cheek on the soft hair, he allowed himself to revel in the feel of it, soft and silky, all tousled curls…forbidden until now.

When Orlando didn’t protest, Viggo squeezed him just a little tighter and moved his head to dare something he’d been longing to do—he placed a light kiss on the young man’s head, then pulled him in even closer.

Everything that had occurred this morning had happened so quickly that he’d hardly had time to even register the events, let alone think about them. But now, it was quiet and still and he wasn’t going anywhere for a few minutes at least. Now he allowed his mind to wander, and he frightened himself at the direction his thoughts were taking. He couldn’t get the picture of Orlando out of his mind.

Orlando, standing in his doorway, in shock. Orlando, who had just
been betrayed by the woman he held most dear—his own mother. Orlando, who had just discovered that his mother had basically ‘sold’ him to his father’s friend. Orlando, who had already been feeling worthless. Orlando, who now seemed to be feeling totally defeated. And Orlando, who appeared even more lost and vulnerable.

Thinking of the events that had transpired earlier and their effect on the boy in his arms, Viggo seethed inwardly. Before, his wrath had been fixated on Orlando’s unknown assailants, and then some of that anger had been transferred to "Uncle Alexander." But now…now, he wanted to aim the full blast of his fury at one person—Sonia Bloom. He knew he had to be careful, though. She was Orlando’s mother,
and regardless of what she had done in the past, he knew she loved her son—and her son loved her. He didn’t want to interfere with that.

At the same time, however, he was incensed at what she’d revealed. He wanted to do major damage to her and felt like he was going to explode if he didn’t. The best course of action would be to just stay away from her, but he knew that was not going to be possible.

The situation needed to be faced and handled. He worried, also, what the effect of his mother’s words and actions were going to have on Orlando. The boy had already been through so much these last days. How would he be able to handle this new bit of information? Would he be able to handle it? Viggo fervently hoped so and he promised himself that he would be right there with him, helping him to deal with anything and everything.

*******
Ian surveyed the group that had now congregated in the silent waiting room. They all seemed to be waiting for him to make the first move, say he first word. Even Orlando’s mother, standing apart from the rest of them, appeared to be looking to him for guidance. So what was he to do?

Sweeping his gaze over his fellow cast-mates—and friends—he realized that the situation still threatened to escalate. All the men wore expressions of hostility, all were furious. And it was all directed at one person—Sonia Bloom.

Without giving the others a chance to voice their opinions, Ian made up his mind. He knew what needed to be done. Turning to Orlando’s mother, he inhaled deeply in an attempt to subdue his own rage. ‘This is not the time ,’ he reminded himself.

"Mrs. Bloom, I think you should leave."

The woman looked at him, dumbfounded, her eyes wide with shock, obviously not comprehending what he had said. She remained rooted to the spot, not moving at all.

 

“Mrs. Bloom," he repeated. "You need to leave. Now."

Still refusing to go, she drew herself up, straightening her shoulders and looking at them all with venom.

"You have no right to tell me to leave. You can’t tell me what to do."

Ian nodded slightly, a small smile on his face. "Yes, Mrs. Bloom. I believe I can. You need to go."

Stalking over to him, she looked him directly in the eye.

"Listen you….you….listen to me. Orlando is my son. No one tells me that I can or can’t see him. No one!"

Each word was punctuated by a fingerjabbing into his chest. Privately, Ian was amazed that the others were still silent. He had really expected a full-blown riot.

"Mrs. Bloom. I daresay your son is not going to want to see you for a while. In fact, I think it would be better for him if you just stayed away."

Though he would never have admitted it, he received a perverse pleasure in watching the expression on the woman’s face turn from anger to surprise to shock. He tried not to smile as she looked to each of his companions for support. Finding none, she deflated visibly, all her bluster gone. Before the shocked, yet pleased, stares of his friends, Ian gestured to the door.

"May I escort you out, Mrs. Bloom?"

They exited to the cheers of a dwarf, an elf, and four hobbits.

*********************

It was quiet here…still and serene. Looking down at the young man lying still and silent in his arms, Viggo contemplated what was to come. The events of the past week had forced him to face certain things and he’d been surprised to discover that he truly had feelings for this boy—deep feelings. Feelings he wanted to explore and
pursue.

He marveled at the fact that he was sitting here now holding this precious being close. After his outburst earlier, Orlando had deflated, the outpouring of intense emotions having exhausted him. He seemed content to lie against the older man, enfolded in his arms. Viggo hoped he felt safe. Samantha, too, sat quietly—hovering close, not saying anything. Just there. It was obvious that she was as
concerned as Viggo and she wanted her brother to know she was there if he needed her.

The sound of the door opening in the back of the room interrupted Viggo’s train of thought. Turning around as far as he dared without disturbing Orlando, he saw Dr. Meadows enter, followed by Candace. Sean followed them both, an anxious look on his face as he surveyed the scene before him. Viggo felt warmed by the concern his friend obviously felt for Orlando—and for him. As they approached, he hugged his precious burden just a little tighter, offering reassurance and love. Looking up, he smiled
at them all.

Chapter Text

"Orlando, look who’s here. It’s Candace. And Dr. Meadows. They’re here to help."

Viggo acknowledged their presence with a brief nod before returning his full attention to the young man in his arms. Orlando didn’t move, didn’t acknowledge them at all. He continued to lean against Viggo, nestled against the older man as if for protection.

Viggo unconsciously tightened his arms around his friend as he looked up at the counselor and the physician. Sean remained standing behind the two women, quiet and still, his keen eyes taking everything in. Samantha also remained motionless, as if afraid any movement would disturb her brother.

After a moment of silence and seeming indecision, Dr. Meadows moved forward, reaching a hand towards her patient. Walking down the same row in which Viggo, Samantha and Orlando were seated, she came to a stop next to Sam, who obligingly vacated her spot in favor of the doctor.

Once she was seated, Dr. Meadows reached out and laid a hand on her patient’s shoulder, ignoring the slight flinch. Viggo remained silent, letting her take the lead. Orlando didn’t look up from his safe haven in Viggo’s arms. He remained totally, completely still.

“Orlando. How are you doing today?” After waiting a moment and receiving no response, the physician continued. “I’ve heard you’ve had a bad morning. I’ve also heard that you want to go home. Is this true?”

Viggo nearly sighed in relief when he felt the young man move in his arms, raising his head and pulling away slightly to look at the woman now seated next to him. Brown curls jumped as he nodded his head, eyeing her warily.

Ignoring his cautious demeanor, Dr. Meadows smiled, pleased to have gotten a response.

“I think we can arrange that. Barring any problems, you might even be able to go home this afternoon.”

That got Orlando’s attention and he froze, obviously afraid to believe what she was saying.

“Really? I could do that?”

The physician nodded her response, smiling her affirmation.

“What do I need to do?” the young man queried.

Casting a glance at her colleague, Dr. Meadows inclined her head as she spoke.

“Well, I’ll write up a list of instructions that we can go over when you’re discharged. Candace, I’m sure, also has her requirements.”

Looking over at the other woman, Dr. Meadows nodded for her to continue. Candace smiled her thanks, moving forward into Orlando’s line of vision.

“Orlando. One requirement is going to be that you continue therapy.”

At his slight grimace, Dr. Meadows added her endorsement.

“Yes, you do need to continue. Your release is contingent on your agreement to do so.”

Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their breath collectively, knowing Orlando’s aversion to his sessions.

“You’ll need to attend group at least once a week and your individual sessions twice a week.” Seeing his slight frown, Candace smiled in amusement. “Think you can handle that? It’s not too bad, you know. Not really.”

They all watched and waited. Finally, the focus of their attention shrugged slightly and nodded his head.

“I guess I can do that. Don’t really have a choice, do I?”

“No, you don’t,” Dr. Meadows replied, her eyes filled with compassion. “The goal is to help you through everything, Orlando. To help you feel better about…things.”

“Just tell me what I need to do to get out of here. I’ll do it,” the young man replied in a subdued voice.

The two women smiled their relief over his head.

“Right, then. We’ll make up a list,” Dr. Meadows replied. Looking around at the others, she hesitated for a moment, as if determining what to say and how to say it. Then, “One thing that will be very important is that you have a support system.”

Before she could continue, Viggo broke in.

“He does. He has us…all of us.”

That elicited a tiny smile from Orlando as he surveyed the people gathered around him. Viggo felt unaccountably warmed by that small smile. It gave him hope. He also noticed that neither woman had mentioned Orlando’s mother and the part she would be expected to play in his recovery. He assumed Sean had filled them in on the morning’s events. Just as well.

“All right, then. I’ll start getting the paperwork ready and you can go home.” Dr. Meadows said. “We’ll see you shortly.” And with a nod at them all, the two women turned and made their way out of the chapel.

After the doors had closed quietly behind them, the others remained where they were, silent and still, waiting for Orlando to make the first move. At first, he merely sat there, quietly studying the bench beside his leg. Finally, though, he looked up. Casting his eyes around the room, he rewarded them with a small smile.

Viggo knew what that smile meant. The young man was happy to be getting out of here. He was glad to be going home. And he was determined to make that transition—from hospital to home—a smooth one for the boy. He would offer his services and support, do whatever was necessary, to make things easier for Orlando. He wanted to be there for the young man, through thick and thin, as the saying went. Hopefully, Orlando would let him.

Chapter Text

VIGGO

“Here we are. Home sweet home!”

Viggo smiled as he parked his car in front of Orlando’s cottage. His smile broadened when he saw the young man give a tentative smile at the sight of his home. ‘Maybe everything is going to be all right,’ the older man thought to himself. He could only hope.

He watched as the younger man moved, unbuckling his seat belt slowly and opening the car door. Orlando did seem anxious to get inside. ‘He probably wants everything to get back to normal—to the way it was…before,’ he reasoned. While he knew that nothing would ever be the way it was before, Viggo vowed to make things as easy as possible for his young friend.

Walking behind the Orlando, Viggo couldn’t help but notice the slow, measured movements, the deliberate footsteps. His ranger-sharp eyes took it all in. He knew the young man was still in pain and that it would probably be several weeks, at least, before he was feeling halfway normal.

Thrusting his hand into his pocket, he clasped the bottle of pain pills the doctor had sent home with Orlando, clutching it reassuringly. He hoped his friend wouldn’t balk at taking them if needed.

Finally, they were inside and Viggo watched with concern as Orlando walked slowly to the couch and lowered gingerly lowered himself onto it. Yes, he wouldn’t admit it, but the boy was in pain. And tired. Definitely.

Continuing through to the bedroom, the older man placed the suitcase he was carrying on the end of the bed before returning to the front room. Noticing that Orlando had not moved since seating himself, save to slump against the corner of the couch, Viggo forced a bright smile.

“Say. Why don’t you go lie down in your bedroom? I’ll fix something for supper. Okay?”

A small shrug, not really the reaction he was going for. Oh well. He had known this wasn’t going to be easy. He’d keep trying. And he’d do his best to keep his worrying to himself. It was evident that Orlando was not yet himself—wouldn’t be for quite a while—and Viggo knew he was going to have to try very hard not to push him.

But it was hard, especially when he looked, really looked, at the young man and saw the sadness and despair etched into the normally vibrant features.

Thank goodness Orlando hadn’t asked about his mother. Ian had matter-of-factly escorted her from the hospital with the admonition to stay away from her son for the time being and Samantha had checked them both into a hotel. Sean had come ahead to make sure their things were gone from Orlando’s house before he arrived home.

Glancing around, Viggo could see that his friend had done his job well. Not a trace of anything remained to indicate that anyone other than Orlando had ever been here. Then, refocusing his attention on Orlando, Viggo clapped his hands together—wincing when the young man flinched slightly—and gave his broadest smile.

“All right, then. What do you want to eat?”

 

Ninety minutes and one slightly disordered kitchen later, Viggo surveyed the nearly full bowl of pasta and sauce as he placed it on the counter. Spaghetti. Everyone liked spaghetti. Everyone, that is, except Orlando Bloom on this particular day. The young man, having finally consented to come to the table and eat, ended up just picking at the food Viggo placed before him, twirling the long strands with his fork before moving them around his plate as if to disguise the fact that he wasn’t actually eating anything. If he hadn’t been so worried, Viggo would have chuckled at the sight. It reminded him of Henry when he was younger.

Now, however, he surveyed the food—and the young man who’d returned to the couch—with a hint of misgiving. Running his eyes over the still figure as inconspicuously as he could, he noted the thinness of the body, the fine bone structure obvious beneath the high cheekbones. The boy had lost weight. Shaking his head he busied himself with cleaning up the remnants of the largely uneaten meal. He wouldn’t push it…not yet.

 

“You what?” Viggo asked, certain that he’d misheard Orlando’s soft statement.

He looked at the young man still sitting on the couch, watched the hands clasped together—the hands which trembled slightly as if in nervousness. He observed the downcast eyes, the forlorn expression on the beautiful face. And his heart ached once more.

“I just want to be alone.”

“But you just came home from the hospital. I thought…”

Viggo trailed off, uncertain how to continue. Orlando didn’t give him a chance to finish anyway.

“Viggo, I appreciate it. I really do. But…I’ve spent the last week surrounded by people and now I just want to be alone. I just want to be here by myself. Please.”

The young man’s voice had taken on a pleading quality, not at all reassuring to Viggo. And while he disagreed with leaving his friend here alone, mere hours after his release from the hospital, Viggo didn’t see that he had any choice. Orlando was a grown man. If he didn’t want company, Viggo would have to go. But the older man didn’t have to like it. Sighing heavily, he acquiesced.

“All right, then. I’ll go.”

Orlando nodded his thanks, but said nothing, merely wrapped his arms around himself and pressed himself further into the couch cushions.

Viggo looked at him searchingly, but the younger man glanced away, as if unwilling to meet his eyes.

“You know I’m only a phone call away?”

Another nod.

“All you have to do is call. I’ll be here.”

Another nod, much more curt this time. Viggo decided it was time to go. Moving towards the door, he thought of a hundred reasons he needed to stay and opened his mouth to voice them all. But the sight of the still figure huddled on the couch stopped him cold. No. This was what Orlando wanted and so he would abide by it. He would go.

“Okay. Well, bye for now. I’ll probably see you tomorrow?”

A halfhearted shrug was his only response, but it would have to do.

“Bye.” Orlando uttered the word almost inaudibly.

Viggo had to force himself to walk through the door. As it closed behind him, stood for a moment, hoping against hope that it would open again and Orlando would invite him back in. It didn’t happen. Oh well, hopefully the night would pass quickly.

Getting in his car he pulled out of the drive and started to drive away, looking in his rearview mirror as he did so, trying to catch any glimpse of movement. The little cottage was still and silent. Viggo sighed.

Chapter Text

Orlando tried to push away the twinge of guilt he felt at asking Viggo to leave. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate everything the older man had done for him. And it wasn’t that he really didn’t want him there. At the moment, he just wanted some time to himself. After the events of the last week, he needed to unwind. To think.

He needed to figure out how he was going to deal with everything that had happened—past and present. Though he wouldn’t admit it to anyone, he was having a very difficult time doing just that.

Even as he tried to push the images and memories to the far recesses of his mind, out of his memory if possible, they kept forcing their way back to the forefront. He couldn’t get rid of them. When he was awake, they were there. When he slept, he was awakened by them. He felt possessed and realized that he had to figure out how to deal with the situation. And right now, he needed to do that by himself…alone.

Hearing a crack of thunder sound in the distance, he glanced out the window and noticed the darkness of the sky—not all of it due to the oncoming twilight. It was definitely clouding up. A storm was brewing, looked like a bad one. Oh well, he was safe and dry inside. With a last look out the window, he trudged back to his bedroom and literally fell onto the bed in exhaustion.

Sometime later—he didn’t know if it was minutes or hours—he was awakened by…something, he wasn’t quite sure what. Opening his eyes, he lay still on the bed and listened carefully. There, he heard it again. A rustling sound. Where was it coming from? Casting his eyes towards the shuttered window, he caught a glimpse of lightning, followed by the sound of thunder. It was still storming, then. But what was that sound?

As he lay there listening, he once again heard noise coming from the living room. And his heart froze in fear. All his bravado and declarations of wanting to be alone were suddenly meaningless as he found himself being overcome with terror.

The tree branches outside were rustling, the wind causing them to blow back and forth. Each sound they made, each brush of leaves against the window brought a new prickling of fear to his increasingly constricted chest. Because, all of a sudden, he realized he was totally alone here. At the hospital, the nurses and aides were only a button’s push away. They were right outside his door—protecting him.

But here—here he was really and truly alone. There was no one on the other side of the door here. In fact, anyone could come up to the door and try to get into the house. And then it hit him. What if…*they*…came? What if they’d discovered where he lived? Or what if...what if they tried to get him again?

All of his earlier bluster left him as long forgotten memories surfaced to merge with recent horrors. He was thrown into a total panic. Orlando could feel his heart beating—so hard that it felt like it was going to force its way out of his chest. He struggled to maintain his breathing, to calm himself. To no avail.

Each sound served as a vivid reminder that he was
alone…vulnerable…frightened. A sudden gust of wind slammed a loose shutter against the house somewhere in the back and Orlando bolted off the bed, his eyes wide with fear, his breathing ragged.

Racing to the bedroom door, he pushed it closed, before turning and diving into the farthest corner of the closet and burrowing under a pile of clothes on the floor. A trembling hand reached out to pull the closet door closed. He sat in the darkness.

As terror gradually took over his mind, he lost track of the passage of time. He had no idea how long he’d been in here. Pulling his knees up to his chin and wrapping his arms around them, Orlando struggled to control his trembling and his breathing.

He could still hear the storm outside, raging, violent in its fury. He could hear the rain pounding on the roof, even as the wind continued to blow, occasionally causing the shutter to knock against the house.

Trying desperately to calm himself, Orlando concentrated on taking deep breaths, trying to slow his breathing to a somewhat normal pace. But even as he did so, his mind continued to race—the memories he had been attempting so desperately to forget were back in full force. He could feel himself caught in the grips of undeniable terror, helpless before its onslaught.

For the first time since the incident had occurred, he was back in that van, with those men. Helpless before them. Unable to fight. Unable to free himself. Squeezing his eyes closed, he pressed himself as far into the corner as possible.

And then, amidst the sounds of rain and wind, shutter flapping and tree branches blowing, he heard a different sound. A door. And then…footsteps. Frozen in terror, he remained still and silent, his heart hammering even more forcefully than before. Pressing his hands to his mouth, he stifled a sob.

Hearing the footsteps approach, he awaited his fate, totally unable to move or do anything to protect himself. Sitting Duck flitted through his mind, but he couldn’t’ help it. He simply couldn’t move.

His bedroom door opened—the heard the creak from the squeaky hinge he kept forgetting to oil. And then, again, footsteps. Listening carefully, he became even more terror-stricken as he realized there were two sets of footfalls. They were walking around the room; he couldn’t tell what they were doing.

And then, the sound he had feared the most—they were approaching the closet—and him. Even without seeing it, he could hear the doorknob being turned, ever so slowly. And then, a faint sliver of light as the door swung open.

Nearly blinded by the sudden glare, Orlando again closed his eyes and held his hands up in supplication. Only one word issued forth from his mouth, so low it was almost inaudible.

"No!"

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

“Oh my God!”

“Lad, lad. It’s all right. It’s just us.”

What? He knew those voices. It was…why, it was Sean and Viggo!

Chancing a quick look, Orlando opened one eye and peered up towards the light—and into the concerned faces of his friends. Relief flooded through him, the adrenaline leaving his body, but not before he climbed to his feet and launched himself at the two men.

There was a quick hug from Sean before he was passed to Viggo and suddenly he felt himself enfolded into a strong, protective embrace. He wasn’t even going to question why they were here, or how they got in. He was safe. That was all that registered in his numbed mind.

Both men were wet, having obviously run through the rain, but Orlando didn’t care. He had been so terrorized that he wouldn’t have minded if they were covered in mud and sludge. He was just happy to have them there.

And then, as the final adrenaline rush left his body, Orlando began to sob, burying his face in Viggo’s shoulder and burrowing closer into his arms. The terror of the evening combined with the flooding of his memories was just too much to handle right now and he was totally overcome with the emotions.

Viggo just held him and let him cry, murmuring soothing sounds into his ear. Sean stood by, rubbing his back and adding, “Aye there, lad. It’ll be all right. You’re safe now,” periodically.

Again, time passed and Orlando had no idea how much. All he knew was that he was safe and secure after an evening of uncertainty and fear. He barely noticed when the two men guided him over to the bed and gently pushed him down onto it. Viggo’s strong, warm arms were still around him and that was all he cared about at the moment. Keeping his face buried, he continued to cry, the only way he knew of, at the moment, to deal with everything that had happened to him.

 

VIGGO

Concern vied with relief at Orlando’s actions. Though the sight of the frightened young man cowering in the closet had nearly broken his heart, the sobbing that soon followed was almost welcomed. After all, wasn’t crying a healthy reaction? Get everything out and all of that?

Tightening his arms around the young man, he attempted to pull him in even closer, if that was possible. Looking up, he met Sean’s tender gaze and knew that the other man was worried, as well. But the Brit nodded towards Orlando and gave a small smile.

“This is good, Viggo. He needs to get it out. God knows he’s kept everything locked up inside for much too long.”

Viggo nodded, realizing his friend spoke the truth. Since his emotional recounting of the incident to the police, and his later outburst with Viggo, Orlando had kept his emotions tightly in check. He didn’t seem to be dealing with the situation at all.

In fact, he had been acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. And, as evidenced by the boy’s reaction tonight, he wasn’t handling the situation well. The boy needed help and Viggo was determined to give it to him.

Resting his cheek on the soft brown hair, he closed his eyes for just a moment, reveling in the sensation and scent that was Orlando and hoping that some of his calmness would be transmitted to the boy. Maybe it would help. The heartfelt sobs were lessening in intensity. Orlando was starting to calm down.

He heard footsteps—Sean going somewhere—but didn’t open his eyes. He was afraid to break the spell.

Returning footfalls a few minutes later, however, signaled his friend’s return and he chanced a look. Sure enough, there was Sean, kneeling next to Orlando and holding out a cup of steaming tea.

Lifting his head and pulling back slightly, he reached out to brush away some tears from the beautiful face. Though the eyes were still closed, Viggo allowed himself to study the boy in his arms. He seemed to be calming down, but the young man was far from all right. He was obviously still distraught. Well, maybe he could get to work on that, try to help him through it.

“Hey there,” he said softly, almost whispering. “Sean made some tea for you. Why don’t you take a sip. It’ll help. Make you feel better.”

Tormented brown eyes opened slowly, looking from one man to the other. Though there was an occasional hiccough, Orlando had for the most part stopped crying. Now he studied the two men warily. Sean reached out and wrapped the young man’s hand around the tea cup, gesturing for him to drink. He did and Viggo wondered if what Sean said about the restorative powers of English tea was true because Orlando appeared to be remarkably refreshed after just a couple of sips. To Viggo’s delight, however, he didn’t remove himself from the older man’s arms, but continued to rest there, obviously enjoying the feeling.

Casting a smile over at Sean, he was answered by a nod of the head towards Orlando. He inclined his own head in acknowledgement.

“Orlando, I want to ask you something. I…want you to do me a favor if you will.” Maybe if he put it that way the young man would agree.

The chocolate eyes looked up at him and Viggo’s heartbeat quickened at the look of absolute trust in them.

“Would you come stay with me? Just for a while…until you feel…a little better…I mean…,” he rushed on, almost stumbling over the last words in his haste to say the right thing.

A chuckle from beside them brought both of their attention over to Sean, who had a wide smile plastered on his face, his green eyes dancing with amusement.

“What he’s trying to say, lad, is that he doesn’t want to be alone right now. And, in his elegant way, he’s also attempting to tell you that he’s worried about you. We all are.”

Looking back down at the precious young man in his arms, Viggo gave him a tentative smile.

“He’s right, Orlando. I just want to make sure you’re okay. Will you come stay with me?”

He held his breath unconsciously, awaiting a response. Orlando’s eyes had widened slightly at the invitation, but he said nothing. Seemed to be taking it all in, mulling it over. Then, a short nod of agreement as tears once again filled his eyes.

“All right. I don’t want to stay here by myself. I thought I did, but…I…I…can’t…,” he trailed off, unable to finish his sentence, trying without success to stifle the sobs that were once again coming to the surface.

Viggo hugged him tenderly and rocked him gently, slightly overcome by the trust the young man was placing in him. He promised himself that he would do everything in his power to live up to it.

“It’s going to be all right, Orlando. You’ll see. I’ll help you through this. We all will.”

The dark head moved slightly, Viggo couldn’t tell if it was a nod. But he realized just how desperately tired the young man was. He was almost limp in his arms, seemingly having no energy at all, content to just lie there. It was time to take him home.

Chapter Text

“Welcome back, Orlando.”

The young man ducked his head, uncharacteristically shy, a novelty that did not go unnoticed by the others, but which was politely ignored.

“We’re glad to have you back, lad,” John’s rich, melodious baritone echoed throughout the set.

“That we are, Orlando. That we are.” Ian nodded his head slightly, reaching out to pat the young man on the arm. “It hasn’t been the same around here without you.”

“Boy, you can say that again,” Dom broke in with a huge grin on his face. “It’s actually been somewhat quiet around here!”

This finally brought a smile to Orlando’s face, though he did his best to hide it from the others. Looking around at his friends, who were gathered around him, he allowed the smile to show.

“It’s good to be back,” he replied, his voice low.

 

“It looks like he’s doing all right,” Sean said, looking over at his friend.

Viggo nodded thoughtfully, never taking his eyes off the young man currently in the center of the large group of people. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Sean looking at him quizzically, but he didn’t move his gaze from Orlando. It wasn’t until his friend actually spoke that he finally looked away.

“What’s wrong, Vig? Is he doing all right?”

Looking into Sean’s concerned green eyes for a moment, he finally just shrugged, not sure exactly how to respond. Sean being Sean, however, wasn’t ready to leave the conversation.

“Hey, mate. What’s going on?”

Exhaling deeply, Viggo shook his head again, the frustration evident this time.

“I don’t know, Sean. I just don’t know.”

“What’s happened? He’s been out of the hospital for three days. Is he settling in?”

“I really don’t know. I don’t think so.”

Sean looked at him in confusion before replying.

“Just tell me what’s happening, mate. Maybe I can help.”

How to start?

“Well, the first night home—at my house—I thought everything was going to be all right. Everything would get back to normal. But…” he trailed off, not really sure how to continue, what to say.

Sean, impatient, tried to prompt him along.

“But what, Vig. Just tell me.”

Viggo looked at Sean again, square in the eyes, the worry and pain naked in his eyes.

“He’s not doing well, Sean. Not at all. He doesn’t sleep. Or rather, he barely sleeps. He’ll nod off and then wake up screaming. I’m sure he’s reliving…what happened. He’s just terrified and nothing I do makes it better. And he’s just so…nervous all the time. About everything. He’s just…he’s not the boy we’ve known. And I don’t know what to do about it.”

Nodding thoughtfully, Sean appeared to be taking in everything Viggo had just told him. His expression was one of sadness and concern.

Finally, he spoke.

“Viggo, just be there for him. That’s all any of us can do right now. And make sure he continues to see his counselor and that he does what she recommends. And remember, we’re all here to help.”

Viggo looked over at his friend and smiled. He would just have to do his best. And maybe that would be enough.

 

VIGGO

“Aren’t you going to eat?”

Viggo watched as the young man across from him moved food around on his still full plate, not even going through the pretense of eating it. His eyes narrowed in concern when he realized Orlando hadn’t taken even one bite.

The object of his concern shrugged, never lifting his eyes from the plate in front of him.

“Not hungry, I guess.”

“Again? You weren’t hungry earlier today. Or last night.”

Another shrug was his only reply. He waited a moment, but nothing further was forthcoming. Sighing in frustration, he returned his gaze to his own nearly empty plate.

Oh well, maybe pasta wasn’t a good idea. After all, there actually were people out there who didn’t like spaghetti. Right? Maybe fish and chips? Steak and kidney pie? How do you even make steak and kidney pie? Well, he could find out. He would find out. Maybe something familiar, from home, would whet Orlando’s appetite.

Somewhat cheered, he wound the rest of the spaghetti on his plate around his fork, making sure to get every last piece. Bringing it his mouth, he savored the tangy flavor of the sauce, slightly regretful that Orlando wasn’t enjoying it as well. Oh well, tomorrow he’d try something British. Hopefully, that would work!

Chapter Text

PETER

Peter Jackson eyed his Elf with concern. It was Orlando’s second day back on the set since…well, since the ‘incident,’ and while he wanted to make sure the young was not rushing things, he also wanted to keep his films on track. While yesterday had been rehearsals, today they were actually filming—film in the camera and all that. He wanted to get it right without putting too much stress on his actors and crew.

In keeping with the set schedule, today they were filming a portion the Council of Elrond scene. As luck would have it, Orlando actually had lines today. He hoped the boy was up to it.

Surveying the assembled group, he heaved a sigh of relief. So far, so good. Everyone was in costume and in their assigned place. Now, if they would just get their lines right they’d be in business! Well, he’d just have to cross his fingers.

“And action!”

 

“And cut!”

Sweeping his gaze over his actors, Peter beamed with pleasure. They’d done it. They were back on schedule!

“Fabulous. That was splendid!” he emoted to the assembled crowd, a huge grin on his face.

Looking around, he realized for the first time that the group was much larger than it normally was. Spotting actors and crew who were working on ‘The Two Towers’ he realized that word must have spread of Orlando’s return. The boy was highly thought of –everyone wanted to make sure he was all right.

His grin widened as he watched the members of the Fellowship—and Hugo—converge on the young man, smiles on their faces, arms spread wide. Continuing to smile, he moved forward, intent on hugging Orlando himself, but he was stopped in his tracks by the scene unfolding before his eyes.

Orlando, in full Legolas regalia, stood immobile, a pinched smile on his face. His eyes held a frantic expression as they darted back and forth among the crowd now converging on him. It wasn’t until Dom and Elijah simultaneously embraced him, however, that he actually moved. The other two men, evidently so wrapped up in the happiness of their friend’s return, didn’t seem to notice that friend’s hesitation, or his stillness.

Dom and Elijah, reaching Orlando first, threw their arms around the young man, embracing him tightly. And before his horror-stricken eyes, Peter saw the young man go down. Moving so quickly the others didn’t seem to notice anything unusual, Orlando shook their arms off his shoulders and threw his own arms over his head, dropping to the ground and curling into a tight ball of misery. He didn’t make a sound.

The others, stunned, moved back several steps where they stood frozen as they watched the tableau unfold before them. For the briefest of seconds no one moved. To Peter’s eyes it was if the scene had been captured on film and freeze-framed. But this was no film—this was real, and he moved forward to do what he could.

Viggo got there first, kneeling next to the tortured young man and leaning forward to whisper in his ear. He made no move to touch the Elf—not yet. After what seemed an eternity, the portly director saw Orlando’s arms move away from Legolas’ blonde hair, ever so slowly. Viggo, seeming to take this as a sign, reached out to grasp the young man’s shoulders. Orlando didn’t shake him off.

Glancing around, Peter saw that everyone was transfixed by the scene unfolding before them all. For some reason, the phrase ‘you could hear a pin drop’ seemed very apropos at the moment. There was dead silence on the set.

Finally, he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his Aragorn pull his Legolas towards him, very gently and very slowly. Orlando still didn’t resist, but rather melted into the older man’s loose embrace, burying his face against Viggo's chest.

And then, sound. Orlando’s ragged breathing. Viggo’s murmured words of encouragement and reassurance. And then, movement. Orlando’s arms snaked around Viggo’s waist and he looked as if he was holding on for dear life. Viggo continued to hold him, continued to whisper in his ear, and began to rock them both back and forth, very gently.

Realizing that the young man was going to be all right—for the moment—Peter moved to disperse the crowd. Though he knew it was their concern for their friend that kept them standing transfixed, he also realized that Orlando needed some quiet right now, and perhaps a bit of privacy. He was in good hands—literally. Viggo would take care of him.

As he moved away from the two men, Peter sighed. Though the scene was a wrap and Orlando had done beautifully, the young man was obviously far from recovered. He wondered what was going to come of it all.

VIGGO

Viggo felt his heart constrict further—if that was possible—when he saw the young man go down. Too much, too quick. That’s what had happened. He’d wondered if Orlando was ready for all this, if he was ready to be back on the set. He had his answer.

Racing forward, he pushed the others aside in his haste to get to the young man’s side. Once there, he was oblivious to the crowd around him, watching and waiting. All his attention was focused on Orlando.

Kneeling, he reached out to gather the boy him, to protect him and make it all better, but thought better of it. Best not to touch him—yet. So leaning close, he whispered any and every word of reassurance he could think of into the pointed latex ear.

Finally—he didn’t know how much time had passed—Orlando slowly lowered his arms. Casting a silent prayer upwards, Viggo reached out to grasp his friend’s shoulders gently. The boy didn’t resist and this time Viggo sent his thanks soaring above.

He had to fight, however, to stop himself from doing more. He wanted to hold the boy tight and never let him go. He wanted to squeeze him in his arms and protect him from…well, from everything. He wanted to enfold him in his embrace and make everything better. Actually, he could try to do the last one.

Hoping against hope that he wasn’t tempting fate, Viggo pulled Orlando towards him, snaking his arms around the younger man’s shoulders and pulling him close. Breathing a sigh of relief when Orlando nestled his face against his chest, Viggo tightened his embrace, vowing silently to hold on for however long was necessary.

After a few moments, he sensed that the younger man was beginning to calm down, a feeling that was verified when Orlando wrapped his arms around Viggo's waist and squeezed him tightly. But the boy was not yet entirely composed—his breathing began to quicken until each breath was ragged and labored. Once again, Viggo began whispering reassuring words into his ear, softly and slowly. Then, he started to rock then both, back and forth, to and fro, hoping the gentle swaying motion would have a soothing effect.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Peter dispersing the crowd, but unwilling to move his eyes and his attention elsewhere, he remained focused on Orlando.

Then the breathing calmed and quieted until the young man was taking normal, deep breaths. The arms around his waist loosened just a bit. And against his chest, Orlando mumbled something that Viggo had to strain to hear.

“Please, take me home.”

Chapter Text

VIGGO

Think you can sleep now?” Viggo asked the young man in the bed.

Orlando looked up at the older man with troubled eyes. He appeared to want to say something but was unsure if he should. Sitting on the edge of the bed as he straightened the covers over his friend, Viggo decided to help him out.

“What is it? Everything all right?”

A shake of the head and a forlorn expression was his answer.

“Thanks for what you did this afternoon. On the set.”

Viggo smiled at him, warmed by the words.

“Don’t worry about it. It was nothing and I was happy to oblige.”

“Yeah, well…thanks. I appreciated it. A lot.”

Resisting the urge to go further with it, Viggo merely smiled and said, “you’re welcome.”

Gazing down at his friend, the older man could tell that all was not right with him. The younger man looked troubled and sad. Viggo felt himself overwhelmed for a moment by his feelings for this boy. They were so intense they almost frightened him. Now, however, wasn’t the time to focus on that. Right now and above all, though, he wanted Orlando to be at peace…something he hoped could still be attained after all the young man had endured.

“What’s wrong, Orlando? Can you tell me?”

Brown eyes full of hurt looked up at him and Viggo almost thought he could see the glint of tears. He didn’t comment on it, though, but waited silently, giving the young man time to gather his thoughts and compose himself. Finally, Orlando spoke.

“Viggo…I…I don’t like the night.”

It was almost a whisper, but Viggo heard him and understood. He nodded solemnly, reaching out to pat his friend on the shoulder. Leaning close, he tried to reassure.

“It’s all right, Orlando. I’m here. You’re safe. Nothing’s going to happen to you. I’m right in the next room. All you have to do is call me. Anytime. I’ll be here.”

Orlando gazed at the older man, absorbing what he’d said, but obviously still troubled.

“It’s just…I’m afraid to sleep.”

“I know. I know you’re having nightmares. The doctor said that’s normal. Just remember I’m here. Now, you are exhausted. So please, close your eyes and try to sleep. If you can get some, you really will feel better. Promise.”

This last was said with a smile that was meant to be encouraging. Orlando met it with a small one of his own. Studying Viggo’s face intently for a moment, he seemed to find what he was looking for and with the smile still on his face, closed his eyes. Viggo breathed a sigh of relief and remained where he was on the edge of the bed, watching as the young man relaxed and drifted off until he was finally asleep.

He sat quietly for quite some time, contemplating the young man before him. So caught up was he with his thoughts that he was totally unaware of the passage of time. Forcing his eyes away from Orlando, he glanced at the bedside clock only to discover he’d been sitting here nearly an hour.

Grateful that Orlando seemed to be sleeping peacefully—finally—he inched off the bed and stood, stretching his back as he did so. He hadn’t realized it, but he had remained still, in the same position, for the entire time and the resulting stiffness was reminding him of this. Oh well. Looking down, he saw that the young man hadn’t moved a muscle since he’d fallen asleep. Good. Maybe he’d be able to sleep through the night. He certainly needed it.

Reaching over, he switched off the bedside lamp and moved towards the door, leaving it slightly ajar as he exited the room.

 

ORLANDO

Oh no. He couldn’t breathe! The putrid material that had been shoved savagely into his mouth was blocking his air. And the fetid stench and taste of sweat and dirt and…he didn’t even want to think about what else. He couldn’t stand it! And his arms. He couldn’t move his arms…or…oh no!!!

With a gasp, Orlando jerked awake, his eyes snapping open and darting around the dark room in terror.

Oh God! Oh God! Where am I? he thought frantically, feeling his chest begin to tighten and his breathing quicken and escalate. Without moving, he continued to scrutinize his surroundings until he realized he was still at Viggo’s house, in his guest bedroom…safe.

But he didn’t feel safe. He felt scared and exposed. Even here in bed, under the covers, he was terrified. Bringing a shaking fist to his face, he pushed it against his mouth to stifle the scream he felt welling inside.

Even though he knew he was in Viggo’s house and that Viggo was just in the next room, he was still fearful of what awaited him. Remembering what Candace had told him in his last session, he closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing. In, out. In, out. In, out. It wasn’t helping. A noise outside his window forced his eyes open. He had to get out of here.

Without even thinking, Orlando threw the covers off of his trembling body and lurched out of the bed. Racing to the door, he threw it open the rest of the way and darted into the hallway. Not wanting to lose his momentum, he kept moving, not even aware of his destination. He just knew that he must find help.

Fearful of cruel hands reaching out to seize him, he kept moving. And then, without even realizing how he came to be there, he found himself in front of another door. As it was open, he could see the darkness inside, the still figure in the bed illuminated only by the dim light from the clock on the bedside table.

Slowing his pace, he crept silently to the bed where—finally—he stopped. Looking down he saw his savior. Viggo lay sleeping on his back, his right arm flung out to the side, blissfully unaware of Orlando’s anguish.

Bending down, he lowered himself onto the bed next to his friend, positioning his head on the out flung arm, being careful not to wake the man. Inhaling the scent that was Viggo, he began to move even closer. Burrowing as close as he possibly could against the older man’s warm, slowly breathing body, Orlando finally felt safe.

Chapter Text

SEAN

Whistling a happy tune, Sean put his car in park and opened the door. Chuckling to himself he swept his gaze over the white clapboard cottage complete with white picket fence. Leave it to Viggo to find a rental that looked like it belonged on Main Street USA.

Hopping up onto the front porch, he rang the doorbell. And waited. And waited. Hmmm, very strange. Looking at his watch, he verified the time. Yep. 9:00. The time they’d agreed upon.

Peter had given them all the day off and he and Viggo had decided to put it to good use by taking Orlando out to breakfast at Diane’s House of Pancakes. They needed to get some food into the boy and it was a nice, relaxing way to start the day.

As there was still no answer, Sean jabbed the button again, hearing the faint ringing of the doorbell inside the cottage. Still no response. Very strange. Raising a fist, he rapped his knuckles against the painted wood. Still nothing. Looking back over his shoulder, he verified that Viggo’s car was present. So they hadn’t already left. Hmmm. Well where the hell were they? Why wasn’t somebody answering the door?

Sean felt a prickle of fear along the back of his neck. Stepping back from the door, he cast his gaze around the outside of the house. Nothing looked amiss. Turning, he looked over the yard. All was as it should be. Very peculiar.

Slightly confused and not a little worried, he bent down and lifted the doormat, revealing the key lying beneath. With a small smile he retrieved the key and rose to fit it into the keyhole, before swinging the front door open. Leave it to Viggo to store his extra key under the doormat. No one would ever think of looking there!

Looking around the entryway and to the living room beyond, Sean saw nothing out of the ordinary. Everything seemed to be in place, all was still and quiet. Entering slowly and closing the door behind him, he made his way down to the hall. The first door he came to was the guest room. Ah, Orlando. The door was open and he peered inside. What he saw made his heart beat just a little faster.

Orlando had obviously been there, as the bed was rumpled, covers strewn about. But the bed—and the room—were empty. Where was the boy? And where was Viggo?

Knowing Orlando’s state of mind since…well, since the incident, and aware that the young man had become increasingly fearful since leaving the hospital, Sean doubted that he had gone wandering into the night. Then where…?

A sudden burst of fear swept through him at the thought that something might have happened to the boy. Something…not good. Somewhere along the way he had become increasingly protective of his young friend. And at the present moment, he was filled with a sudden fear that something bad had befallen the young man.
Something just wasn’t right.

Quickening his pace as he moved down the hallway, he came to Viggo’s room. The door was open and he crept in slowly. And stopped in surprise. No, make that shock.

I guess they’re all right, flitted through his mind, followed immediately by a sudden burst of anger. What in the hell…?

There on the bed were the objects of his search, sound asleep and totally oblivious to his presence in the house or in the room. Both men were sleeping so soundly they never even moved as he stood and stared down at them.

Viggo, asleep on his side, had his arm thrown around the younger man, who was nestled close, as if for protection. Both men looked totally at peace. Standing there staring at them, a hundred questions raced through his mind. What the hell is going on here ? being predominant.

Knowing Viggo as he did, Sean realized that his friend would never do anything to hurt or push Orlando. He just knew that. Still…well, he’d just have to wait until they were awake to get the facts. At the same time, however, he felt two emotions vying for precedence—anger and concern.

Even though he knew in his heart of hearts that Viggo would never intentionally push or hurt Orlando, Sean found his rage rising to the surface. Forcing himself to inhale deeply, he tried to calm himself and think rationally. No, Viggo would never do anything untoward to the boy. There had to be a logical explanation for this. He would wait for that before passing any judgments.

And then he looked, really looked at his friends as they slept. Gazing down at the two men, he suddenly felt as if he was intruding. Even asleep, their closeness was so intimate, so…beautiful.

Stepping back slowly, he began to leave the room, then froze when he heard a sound from the bed.

Viggo’s eyes had snapped open and the two men locked gazes. Sean’s puzzled green eyes met equally puzzled blue ones. The first thought to cross Sean’s mind was that Viggo looked surprised and shocked. And not just at finding his best friend standing beside his bed looking down at him.

As he stood and stared, Sean observed Viggo’s eyes narrow in confusion as they stared at each other. Then the other man looked down at Orlando, whose face was nestled against Viggo’s bare chest.

Viggo looked up at Sean and shook his head, mouthing the word, ‘what?’ Obviously, they were both confused. Viggo had no idea what was going on. Feeling a sudden surge of relief sweep through him, the Brit realized that everything was all right and that Viggo was totally clueless as to why he’d just awoken wrapped around the object of his affections. Well, they wouldn’t have to wait long for an answer, because the young man between them was beginning to stir.

He watched as Viggo cautiously removed his arm from around Orlando’s slim body and sat up, waiting for the boy to fully awaken. He, himself, just stood and watched with a bit of glee, humor replacing the fury of just moments before. Spying the chair next to the bed, he decided to settle in for the duration.

Moving over to it he sat, crossing his arms across his chest. He had all the time in the world. He could afford to wait. Stretching his long legs out in front of him he made himself comfortable, smiling all the while at his confused friend in the bed. He couldn’t wait to hear their explanation. It ought to be good!

Chapter Text

All was silent in the room save the sound of an occasional intake of breath. Both men sat silent, watching the figure between them come to life.

Orlando moved restlessly for a moment. As if sensing that Viggo was no longer lying beside him, he reached out and felt nothing but empty space and bedcovers. One eye opened slightly, followed by the other. He looked up to see Viggo staring down at him in confusion.

At Viggo’s slight nod, Orlando turned his head and spied Sean sitting beside the bed, observing them both. The young man’s brow furrowed in bewilderment, but he remained silent. Viggo finally broke the absolute quiet in the room.

“Orlando. Why are you here? What happened?”

The young man shook his head slightly, as if trying to remember. Then, sitting up he drew the covers up over his chest, clutching them tightly, and leaned back against the headboard, arms resting on updrawn knees.

“I…I think I had a nightmare. I was scared, so…” he trailed off, unsure how to continue, uncertain of Viggo’s reaction.

Out of the corner of his eye, Viggo caught the look of sorrow that crossed Sean’s face, to be quickly replaced by one of sympathy. The Brit remained silent, however, waiting for Viggo to take the lead. Viggo, himself, wasn’t quite sure what to say.

Reaching out as if to gather the young man in a warm embrace, he faltered and dropped his arms short of their target when the young man pulled back involuntarily. Evidently Orlando wasn’t ready for that yet.

As if worried by the continued silence of the two men, Orlando hurried to make amends.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…that is…” he trailed off, obviously uncertain what to say, how to proceed.

Looking him straight in the eye, calm blue gaze to distressed brown one, Viggo smiled.

“It’s all right, Orlando. You have nothing to apologize for.”

“But…”

“No,” said firmly but kindly with a shake of the head. “You have nothing to apologize for. I’m sorry you got scared, but I’m glad you came in. I told you I was here, in the next room. That’s why. I wanted to be here for you. So please, forget it.”

Distraught chocolate eyes stared back at him, as if contemplating his words, judging their merit. Viggo smiled back at him in an attempt to convince the young man that he was sincere. Finally, the younger man broke eye contact long enough to dart a glance at Sean, who was still sitting by the bed, quiet and still.

Studying his fellow Brit, Orlando seemed to find what he was looking for and gave a small nod of acceptance.

Viggo and Sean both relaxed visibly, glad the moment of tenseness had passed and that their friend had accepted the idea that his presence in Viggo’s bedroom-and bed-was not a crime. In the moment of silence that followed, the two men locked eyes over the dark head, sending an unspoken message between them. Sean inclined his head towards the young man between them. Viggo got the message. Turning his attention back to Orlando, he contemplated his next question.

“Orlando. What were you dreaming about?”

Terror-filled eyes flew up to meet his and Viggo almost told him to forget it, don’t think about it, it doesn’t matter. But he knew that it did matter, it needed to be talked about. So the older man waited silently for his young friend’s response. It was a long time coming, but both Viggo and Sean had learned that patience comes with age.

So they waited quietly, watching the young man wrestle with his inner demons and his fear. Finally, Orlando’s courage must have come out on top because he began to speak, haltingly and softly-almost a whisper-but he was talking.

“I was dreaming about…about…that night. And…what happened. It was so horrible. But I’m back there, in my dream. And I can smell the smells and hear what went on. I can…feel the…”

He stopped suddenly, either unable or unwilling to continue. Closing his eyes, the young man sat in silence before finally burying his face in suddenly shaking hands. The silence of the room was shattered by a broken sob as he gave in to his memories.

From his vantage point next to him, Viggo watched helplessly, wrestling with himself over what action he should take. Finally, at Sean's silent urging, he leaned over and wrapped the boy in a loose embrace, hoping against hope that he wouldn't be pushed away. He wasn't. In fact, Orlando leaned towards him, allowing the older man to enfold him even tighter in his strong arms. Viggo leaned back against the wall, pulling his friend with him, rocking slightly in an effort to soothe the boy's frazzled nerves, reveling in the dark head now resting against his chest.

Over Orlando's head, Viggo saw Sean stand and head for the door, signaling that he would be back. Nodding his head that he understood, he continued to sway back and forth ever so slowly. He remained silent, waiting for Orlando to make the first move, to be the first to speak. Eventually, calming somewhat, the young man's quiet sobs trailed off until Viggo heard only an occasional sigh or hiccough.

The tousled head moved away from its resting place against him and Viggo found himself looking down into a tear-stained face--a beautiful, tear-stained face. Smiling reassurance, he loosened his embrace slightly, not willing to let go entirely.

"Viggo?" A whisper.

"Yes, Orli?" He waited.

"What's...what's going to happen to me?"

Looking down at his friend in confusion, Viggo shook his head in puzzlement.

"What do you mean?"

Viggo found himself gazing into pain-filled chocolate depths and it broke his heart.

Pulling out of the older man's arms, Orlando moved back slightly, just out of Viggo's reach. Wrapping his arms around himself, he once again leaned against the headboard of the bed. Looking directly into his friend's eyes, the young man shook his head slightly, obviously distraught.

"Viggo. I feel like I'm going crazy. I don't know what to do."

Opening his mouth to reply, Viggo found that he had no idea what to say. The answer came from the doorway.

"Orlando. You are not going crazy. You've just got a lot of things to deal with all of a sudden. Here's what we're going to do. You're going to get up and get dressed. And see if you can get the old man there to do the same. Then we're going to go out and eat a nice, relaxing breakfast. I'm going to call Candace and see if we can stop in for a few minutes. You're going to tell her what's going on. Tell her about the nightmares and anything else that's bothering you. She'll have some tips for you, I'm sure. She'll be able to give you some ideas to help you handle things a little better. And then, we're going to my place. I've got crisps and brew waiting and we can watch the game. Sheffield United. Ought to be good. Now, what are you waiting for? Come on. Let's get ready. You too, old man."

Sean winked at Viggo, who smiled his gratitude. Then, moving towards the bed, the Brit handed Orlando the cup of tea he'd been busy brewing.

"Now come on, you two. Get moving. I'm hungry!"

“Sounds good to me,” Viggo responded, his voice regained. “I’m starving!”

That’s it, he thought. Let’s keep everything natural and normal. Go on about our business. Maybe that’s the trick.

Looking over at his friend, Viggo tried to convey his thanks for all the other man had done, smiling to himself when Bean just nodded and grinned.

Reaching over to squeeze Orlando’s nearest shoulder, Viggo moved past him and exited the bed. A sharp whistle from the doorway stopped him in his tracks and caused him to spin around to face the leering man from Manchester.

“Stripes! I like, Viggo.”

Looking down at his loose pajama bottoms—his only item of clothing at the moment—Viggo blushed furiously and shrugged self-consciously. But a quiet laugh from the bed behind him made his embarrassment worthwhile.

“He’s right, Viggo. I would have thought you’d be more the ‘au natural’ type.”

With a final shrug, he raised his hands in defeat, smiling at them both.

“What can I say. I guess I’m just a fashion maven.”

Laughter followed him as he strutted from the room, doing his best imitation of a model treading the catwalk.

Yep, he thought. This is going to be a good day after all !

Chapter Text

“I can’t eat another bite. In fact, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Sean pushed his plate away and leaned back against the seat, resting his hands on his now full stomach.

“Ohhhh,” he groaned dramatically. “Why did I ever let you talk me into getting that?”

His companions smiled at him, enjoying his situation.

“You know, Sean, no one twisted your arm and forced you to get those chocolate chip pancakes.”

“Or the whipped cream, butter and syrup you put on top,” Orlando added.

Focusing a bleary eye on the young man, Sean noted with satisfaction that he looked much livelier now than he had just an hour before. A shower and clean clothes did wonders. He’d say that a hearty breakfast completed the package, but a glance at his plate confirmed that the kid had done nothing more than push his food around in an effort to avoid eating it.

“Orlando,” he wheezed in mock agony. “You can’t let me suffer alone. I know you can do more damage to your plate than that.”

A small shrug and tentative smile was Orlando’s only response.

“I guess I’m not that hungry after all. I’m full already.”

Glancing over at his Aragorn, he gestured to the older man’s half-full plate.

“How about you, Viggo? You’ve still got a ways to go.”

“Don’t draw me into this Orlando,” Viggo announced, raising his hands in feigned surrender. “I’m not a glutton…unlike some people.”

Another groan from the right was his only answer. Sean closed his eyes, savoring the moment of serenity it brought him and listened to the idle chit-chat of his friends. His ruse had worked. Orlando was talking and even joking a bit. He still wasn’t himself, but it was a start. That thought warmed the Brit.

Sitting quietly, he listened as his two friends veered off into a conversation about the next day’s filming. In the background, he vaguely registered the opening and closing of the door to the establishment.

Someone was either finished or just arriving. Nothing unusual in a diner. Around him, the low rumble of voices continued as patrons ate and talked, enjoying their meals as they discussed matters of great and little importance.

Realizing that his table had gone quiet, he cracked an eye to reveal a concerned-looking Viggo staring at the young man sitting between them. Orlando was white as a sheet; he looked like he’d seen a ghost. His jovial mood suddenly evaporated.

“Orlando. What’s wrong?” Viggo was pleading. “What happened?”

“Viggo?” he inquired, only to be met with a shake of the head and a confused shrug. Viggo obviously had no idea what was going on or what had happened to change the young man’s mood so suddenly.

Surveying the interior of the diner, Sean saw the usual types of patrons—business people, families, a few lone individuals who just loved pancakes. And over in the corner, a group that must have just arrived.

Three rough-looking young men had piled into a booth and were joking amongst themselves, loudly enough to be heard across the room. Glancing back at Orlando, Sean absorbed the terrified expression, the fear in his eyes—eyes that were riveted on the corner table. Reaching over, the Brit laid a hand on the young man’s shoulder, squeezing softly.

 

“Orlando, lad, is everything all right?”

The dark brown eyes remained glued to the raucous group in the corner. He gave no indication that he’d even heard his friend speak.

Looking past him, Sean saw that Viggo was just as concerned, but every bit as clueless as he himself was. Judging by the boy’s reaction, however, his fear had something to do with the men at the corner table.

Sweeping his gaze across their table Sean studied them carefully. Despite their appearance, they seemed harmless enough. They weren’t bothering anyone, were minding their own business even though they were slightly loud.

And then it hit him. His eyes narrowed as he contemplated the men. Forcing his gaze away from them, he returned his attention to the boy beside him. Orlando was still focused solely on the men in the corner, oblivious to his two friends and their concern.

As he watched, the young man began to breathe heavily, increasing in intensity until he was nearly hyperventilating. The Brit saw the boy’s lips moving slowly and it dawned on him suddenly that they were forming a word—“NO.”

Looking over at Viggo, Sean saw his concern mirrored in the blue eyes. And he perceived the fact that the Dane had also noticed the table in the corner. Refocusing his attention on the men on the other side of the diner, Sean allowed his mind to wander. ‘Could it be? No, it would be too much of a coincidence! But…’ The soft murmur of voices interrupted his train of thought and he spun around to face his two companions once again.

Viggo had his arm around Orlando, pulling him close in an attempt to calm and protect. He was leaning close to the young man’s ear, whispering softly. It must have worked because as Sean watched, Orlando’s breathing calmed until it was more or less normal and he finally forced his gaze from the men in the corner booth.

“Orli,” Sean began, choosing then discarding his words carefully. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing right now. “Do you know those men? Have you…seen them before?”

For a moment there was no response and Sean held his breath, not sure if he really wanted to know the answer to his question. A glance at Viggo told him he was doing much the same. When Orlando finally replied, his voice was so low the two men had to strain to hear it.

“No. I thought I did…but…I don’t. They’re not who I thought they were.”

Heaving a huge sigh of relief, Sean said a silent prayer of thanks. The boy did not need that complication right now. Later on down the road, yes, but not at the moment. He had enough to deal with. Clapping Orlando on the back, Sean moved to exit the booth, grabbing the bill as he did so.

“Come on, you two. We’ve got things to do, people to talk to. Let’s stop and see Candace for a few moments and then it’s home to beer and crisps.”

Hiding the concern he felt as he watched the still shaken young man clamber out of the booth, a still worried Viggo behind him, Sean forced a smile. He was determined to make this a nice, enjoyable day for them all. Lord knew they needed it!

Chapter Text

“Good game, mate.”

Sean nodded, quite pleased with the results. Thanks to his team’s prowess, Dom would be buying him beer for the next two weeks. Yes, life could be good. Casting an eye at his companions, he saw that Viggo was still asleep—damn Yanks just didn’t appreciate good football! And Orlando, well Orlando actually looked like he’d enjoyed the afternoon.

Sean noted with satisfaction that the fear and anxiety of this morning had faded, to be replaced by a (somewhat) cheerful attitude and a tentative smile—two things that had been sorely lacking from the young man in recent days.

“It was a good one. Of course, I don’t think Dom’s going to think so but, those are the breaks!” the older man replied with satisfaction.

Orlando nodded, having been fully apprised of the betting situation earlier. Looking over at the man sleeping beside him, his smile widened slightly.

“Too bad Viggo missed it. He slept through almost the entire game.”

Sean shrugged and laughed. It was good to be talking about normal things with the boy.

“His loss. He wouldn’t have known what was going on anyway.”

“You think?” the younger man asked, a hint of surprise in his voice.

“I know. Viggo here thinks football is played by men wearing helmets kicking an oval ball through the air. Hmph. He wouldn’t know a real football game if it bit him in the…well, you know what I’m getting at.”

“I think I do,” Orlando replied with a small smile.

“Hmmm,” was all Sean said as he studied his companions. As he studied the boy, he realized that this was the most complacent he’d seen him since…the incident.

While not exactly happy, Orlando was sort of semi-cheerful and actually had a small smile on his face—periodically. It was a start, at least. And that, Candance had informed him that morning, was indeed progress.

They sat in companionable silence for a few moments, watching the post-game interviews. Casting sidelong glances at the young man, Sean gnawed his bottom lip as he considered his next move. He wanted to ask the boy about the incident in the diner that morning but wasn’t sure if he should.

Although the counselor had advised that it was therapeutic to talk about what was going on, Sean realized that the boy had his limits—and this might be testing them. Finally, though, he decided to take a chance. He just hoped there would be no major repercussions to deal with later.

“So,” he began, testing the waters. “How about this morning?”

“Hmmm? What?” Orlando inquired, his brows knitting in confusion.

“What happened this morning? At breakfast?”

“What do you…” the young man broke off, obviously realizing what his friend was referring to. “Oh. That.”

Lips clamped shut, Orlando shook his head in negation, refusing to meet the older man’s eyes. “Nothing. I…don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sean chanced a chuckle.

“Come on, Orlando. I know something was going on. What was it?”

Holding his breath, he waited to see if the young man would confide in him or if he would continue to deny that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. Orlando seemed to be wrestling with himself, debating what--if anything--to reveal. In the end, his shoulders slumped in defeat and he heaved a heavy sigh.

“All right, Sean. You’re right.”

Leaning forward and clasping his hands between his knees, the older man looked at his friend with understanding and compassion.

“Orlando. Did you see someone?”

Confused chocolate eyes looked up at him, searching his face for…something. Brown curls shook slightly as Orli shook his head slowly.

“Yes. No. I…thought I did but…” he stopped, moving his head back and forth in uncertainty. “It wasn’t what I thought…or who I thought,” he finished, his voice so low Sean had to strain to hear the final words.

Chancing a look at their other companion, Sean observed the other man’s exhausted slumber and made the decision to continue with this conversation on his own. The matter needed to be addressed; there were already too many things being hidden away. It was time to start bringing some of them to the surface. It was time to start facing some fears.

Forging ahead before he changed his mind, Sean reached over and clasped the young man on the shoulder, ignoring the slight flinch at his action.

“Orlando. Did you think you knew those men? Did you think it was…” now that he was there, he didn’t quite know how to say it.

What did you say in a situation like this? ‘So tell me, Orlando. Did you think those were the men who attacked you? Did you think they were the ones who grabbed you off the street, beat you severely and then raped you?”

No. He couldn’t say that. He definitely couldn’t say that. But what? A moment’s indecision and he settled on the lesser evil.

“Who did you think they were?”

The Brit’s heart almost melted and he almost stopped his line of questioning right then and there, at the expression on the young man’s face. It was a combination of apprehension and grief and it went straight to Sean’s inner core. He didn’t want to cause this young man any more pain or anguish than he‘d already suffered. He really didn’t. Just as he was about to tell Orlando to forget it, the boy responded.

“I thought it was them.”

“What?”

“Them. The ones who…you know.” Orlando replied, obviously still not ready to go into detail regarding the men in the diner.

“But it wasn’t?”

“No. It wasn’t. For a minute…I thought it as them. It looked like them and sounded like them. But it wasn’t.”

Seeing the look of compassion in the older man’s eyes, Orlando dropped his gaze to the floor and shrugged, not sure what else there was to say.

“Did that bother you? Were you afraid? You know they can’t hurt you. Not anymore. Viggo and I were right there with you.” Sean rushed on, realizing he was close to babbling.

“I didn’t think I would be afraid…but I was. It was like…” Orlando trailed off again, then sighed heavily, shrugging his defeat.

Patting the shoulder again, Sean squeezed it softly in condolence.

“It’s all right lad. I understand.”

A small smile was his only answer, but he accepted it eagerly, grateful to get off the touchy subject if only for the moment. And then, a rustling from the other side of the sofa refocused his attention. Viggo was waking up, stretching himself to wakefulness, looking around the room in confusion for a moment until he regained his bearings.

Seeing his two friends sitting companionably beside each other, he smiled and yawned.

“Hey there. “

“Welcome back, Sleeping Beauty,” Sean greeted him, a smile on his handsome face.

A sheepish grin was his only response.

“Hey Viggo. Have a nice nap?” Orli asked, eager to change the subject.

“I did. How long was I asleep?” the Dane inquired, glancing at the television and then searching for a clock.

“Well you missed the game, if that’s what you’re wondering,” Sean told him.

“Sorry,” Viggo apologized half-heartedly.

Sean could tell he didn’t mean it. Not one bit.

“So what have you two been up to?” Viggo asked, his eyes sweeping back and forth between his two friends as if gauging their mood and the tone of whatever conversation had been going on.

Leaning back, Sean clasped his hands behind his head, resting his feet on the coffee table in front of the couch.

“Just biting the blubber, as you Yanks are fond of saying. Just biting the blubber.”

Even Orlando looked confused at that and after a moment’s confused consideration, Viggo burst out laughing.

“You mean ‘chewing the fat’?”

Not about to let his friend know he’d mixed up the phrases, Sean just nodded and smiled.

“That’s exactly what I mean, Viggo. We were just chewing the fat.”

The three men looked at each other in silence until, one by one, they burst into laughter at the Brit’s faux pas. Not that it was really that funny, but at the moment, any excuse for hilarity would be accepted. And, Sean reflected, he didn’t mind being the butt of the joke if it lightened the mood and got Orlando to laugh.

Mission accomplished!

Chapter Text

VIGGO

“Oh, I am beat.”

Viggo stretched his arms over his head, rotating his neck back and forth to work out the kinks. He was tired, both mentally and physically. The events of the last few weeks had taken more out of him than he’d realized. Of course, what he was feeling was nothing compared to what Orlando was feeling. He was sure of that.

Orlando. Just saying the name brought a smile to his lips and a warmth to his body. The boy was special and Viggo wanted to do everything in his power to protect him. He wanted to cherish him. He wanted to love him. Hell, he already loved him. It was just fate—or pure rotten luck—that they’d been brought together because of the present circumstances.

Rolling his head on the back of the couch, he sneaked a quick look at the object of his thoughts. Orlando, too, was sitting quietly, watching the latest suspenseful episode of Survivor, a guilty pleasure.

Unlike Viggo, however, the young man’s body only gave the outward appearance of being relaxed. The older man could see beneath the calm exterior to the taut control being held tightly in check inside. The boy was wound as tightly as a spring, as the saying went. He was definitely not himself. Not yet, anyway.

And Viggo wanted, more than anything, to fix that. But how did you fix someone who was broken? How could he make everything better? He wished he could snap his fingers and turn back time—bring them back a month to a time when all was well and normal—to a time when the young man beside him was himself, and happy.
‘Well,’ he cautioned himself, ‘maybe not completely happy, considering what we’ve learned of his past.’

At any rate, the Dane wished he had the power to wipe all the sadness and fear from the young man and make him whole again. He wanted his Orlando back! And he’d do whatever it took to make that happen.

Looking over at the young man beside him he smiled, taking in the unruly mop of brown curls, the perfect cheekbones, the rich brown eyes. Oh how he loved this young man! He was perfection.

“You tired?” he asked with a smile, seeing the eyes beginning to droop.

The eyes snapped open and Orlando shrugged.

“Is that a yes, no or maybe?” Viggo chuckled.

Another shrug was his only answer and after waiting a moment to see if the young man was going to say anything, Viggo decided to just go on to bed.

“Well, I’m going to hit the sack.”

He rose to his feet, stretching his arms over his head to ease muscles which had stiffened from sitting for so long. A raised eyebrow and confused expression from his companion prompted him to add, “I’m going to bed now.”

“Oh, okay. Night.”

Orlando didn’t look too pleased at the idea and Viggo almost relented and sat down again. But deciding against it, he stayed on his feet and stretched again. With a wave and a smile, he took one last lingering look at his young friend before exiting the room.

Walking down the hallway, away from Orlando, was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. And as tired as he truly was, he still wanted to stay with his friend.

Aware that Orli’s nightmares had become a daily—or rather a nightly—occurrence, the older man was afraid his friend would forfeit much needed sleep in order to avoid them.

‘But Candace said he needed to sort through them on his own… confront the things he’s afraid of. It just seems so…cruel right now. He’s not ready for this. But…no, she’s the expert in this area. I need to try. I need to do what she said. I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing the right thing. Then why is it so hard to walk away? I don’t want to leave him! ‘

In fact, he had to close his eyes and harden his heart to block out the sight of the young man’s fearful eyes—eyes that were pleading with him not to go, to stay by his side.

While the councilor had told them that Orlando needed to learn to face these fears on his own, Viggo wasn’t quite sure he agreed with that interpretation. At the moment, all he wanted to do was rush back into the living room and wrap his arms around the young man—protect him from all the bad things in the world.

But he couldn’t do that, not right now. He’d do what Candace said he should do and walk away. But it sure wasn’t easy; it was hard.

 

Much later, Viggo awoke to…something. Glancing at the clock, he noted that he’d only been asleep for an hour, it having taken him two to finally drop off. Now, however, his slumber was interrupted by…something, a noise of some sort. Closing his eyes again, he tried to will away his tiredness. The sound continued.

Opening his eyes but remaining still and silent, he searched the darkness for the source of the sound. He didn’t have to search for long. His eyes were not yet even adjusted to the darkness when he heard the soft pad of footsteps approaching the bed, the whisper of a sigh as the bed sank down slightly beside him.

‘Orli,’ Viggo breathed in a mixture of relief and concern. Still not ready to announce his wakefulness, he remained quiet, waiting with bated breath to see what would happen.

Inconspicuously moving back on the bed to allow more room, Viggo sensed the younger man stretching out beside him. He felt the warmth of the other body beside his. A very pleasant sensation. The Dane smiled into the darkness.

Evidently settled, Orlando was still, silent beside him. Viggo listened as the other’s breathing evened out, indicating that he was finally asleep. Lying quietly, the Dane simply listened, reveling in the young man’s presence.

‘He’s either had another nightmare or he’s afraid to sleep on his own. But that’s okay. He’s safe now…with me.’

When some time had passed without any further movement beside him, Viggo cautiously inched his hand towards the young man, sliding it across the sheet until it was barely touching the other’s arm. Closing his eyes, he slipped into the most peaceful sleep he’d had in weeks.

Chapter Text

VIGGO

“And cut. The Council of Elrond is complete. That’s a wrap!” the portly director announced above the cheers and delighted laughter of the actors.
Walking over to a certain young elf, Peter clapped him on the back, making every effort not to startle him.

“Orlando. That was good lad. Very good. You did yourself proud.”

From his vantage point next to the young man, Viggo could see the faint blush creeping across his face. The Dane felt a rush of happiness when he spied a bashful smile on the younger man’s face.

Today marked a week since Orlando had—for all intents and purposes—moved in with him. A routine of sorts had been established and things were working out well—quite well. Orli was settling in.

He still wasn’t himself, but that was to be expected, right? The young Brit was doing everything that was expected of him, having thrown himself back into the round of work and friends. And if it wasn’t yet the way it used to be, well, that was okay. They’d get there.

He made his mark, every time. His lines were delivered perfectly. And afterwards, joking with the hobbits, he almost looked like he was enjoying himself. Almost. But that would improve with time. Viggo was sure of it. Still, there was a niggling of doubt in the back of his mind. What if the young man wasn’t all right? What if he wasn’t improving? What should he be looking for?

Fleetingly, the Dane thought about the previous night and the precious body he’d held protectively in the darkness. Orlando didn’t even go to his room now; he automatically retired to Viggo’s bed. And while the older man relished his time with the young man, a small part of him knew that the terror and fear driving the boy to his bed was not normal. It needed to be faced…and handled. At the moment, though, it was easier—and preferable—simply to comfort and protect.

Casting an appraising eye over to where the object of his thoughts stood surrounded by his castmates, Viggo glimpsed the small smile playing at the edges of the young man’s mouth and relaxed slightly.

‘He’s going to be all right. It’s just taking him time to get past everything. That’s normal. It’s expected. We all just need to give him time, that’s all.’

Smiling broadly at the sight of a happy Orlando, Viggo walked over to the cluster of people surrounding his friend.

‘Yes. Everything’s going to be all right. It’s got to be.’

So intent on Orlando was he that he failed to notice the pair of narrowed green eyes which darted back and forth between him and the young man. Green eyes that were filled with concern and just a touch of worry.

 

SEAN

“So how is he really?”

“Hmmm?” Sean forced his gaze from the group surrounding Orlando to Ian, who had ambled over to stand next to him.

“You heard me. How is he doing?” The wizard studied the human intently.

Sean could almost feel the older man’s gaze sweep over him, seemingly taking in his every emotion, in particular the concern he felt for their young costar. And he knew he wasn’t the only one to sense the young man’s state of mind. He shrugged, shaking his head slowly.

“I don’t know, Ian. On the surface he seems fine, but…”

“But he’s not,” the older man finished for him.

“But he’s not,” Sean repeated, looking directly into his friend’s caring eyes. “He’s just…not himself, which is understandable, considering all that he’s been through,” he hastened to amend.

“It’s just…I don’t know what to do…how to help him.”

“Tell me what’s going on. “

Shaking his head again as if to gather his thoughts, Sean closed his eyes briefly. Opening them, he continued to gaze at his friend, gathering strength from his quiet presence.

“He has trouble sleeping. He has nightmares, flashbacks. But when he’s with Viggo…”

“He feels safe,” Ian completed the thought.

“Yes, he feels safe. And so he’s been sleeping with Viggo for almost a week.”

“And does that bother you?” the perceptive wizard inquired.

Shaking his head in the negative, Sean replied quickly. “No, no. It doesn’t bother me…not at all. Viggo has the boy’s best interests at heart. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, especially now. It’s just…well…I don’t know how healthy it is for Orlando. Or for Viggo, for that matter. The lad’s becoming completely dependent on Viggo.”

“Is that all?” Ian asked him quietly.

“No, not all. Orlando’s always been so boisterous, so full of life. Now…he’s not. It’s almost as if he’s afraid of his own shadow at times. He’s so jumpy and nervous.”

“I would think that would be normal, Sean. That boy has been through a horrible, life-changing experience. One doesn’t forget that overnight. And that doesn’t even take his past history into consideration.”

“I know,” Sean replied quietly, looking over to Orlando and the rest of the crew for a moment. “He’s not eating, either,” he added, almost as an afterthought, though it was evident the matter was weighing on him greatly.

“What do you mean, not eating?” the older man queried. “Not eating at all?”

“Oh, he goes through the motions, but every time I’ve taken a meal with him…them…he’s just pushed his food around on the plate without actually moving any of it towards his mouth. Every time I’ve asked him about it he’s just said that he’s not hungry. But that can’t continue.”

“No, it can’t,” Ian replied, gazing over at the others as well. “What about Viggo? What does he think?”

Looking back at Ian, Sean closed his eyes and heaved a tremendous sigh.

“He’s taking it all in stride. I think he’s just happy that Orlando’s here, and with him. He’s relieved. He says it’ll all pass, just to give the boy some time.” Moving his gaze back to his friend, Sean shook his head in frustration, his eyes filled with pain. “And who’s to say he’s not right! Maybe that’s all we need to do—wait it out. It just doesn’t seem to me that situations like this improve on their own. I think outside help is needed here, desperately.”

“Is Orlando still seeing his counselor?”

“Yes, though he’s only gone once since coming home from the hospital.”

Ian stood silent, obviously mulling the situation over in his mind before voicing a reply.

“Sean. Why don’t you contact his counselor and let her know your concerns. It wouldn’t hurt to just let her know what you’re seeing, your fears. See what she has to say.”

Sean brightened visibly, absorbing Ian’s words, contemplating his advice. The older man’s recommendation was a good one. That’s what he was going to do.

 

“So what do you think?”

“I think you’re right to be concerned.”

“You do?” Sean was a bit shocked, even though he had known his instincts were right.

“Yes, it sounds like there’s definitely a problem there.”

“So what do we do about it?”

Candace smiled at the other man’s concern and his eagerness to help his friend. It was touching.

“Orlando has an appointment tomorrow. Let me talk to him, see how it goes. I won’t tell him we spoke, but I’ll see if I can bring the conversation around to the matter at hand, the behaviors you’ve mentioned. I appreciate your taking the time to come in and talk to me about it.”

The Brit shrugged self-consciously.

“He’s my friend. I just want to help.”

“Well, Mr. Bean, that’s very admirable. Orlando’s a very lucky young man to have a friend like you.”

“Nay, I’m the lucky one. He’s a good kid. He deserves better than what he’s gotten.”

Nodding her agreement, Candace continued smiling.

“We’ll do our best to help him. I assure you of that. It’s going to be time consuming, and it won’t be easy, but Orlando will get through this. And the help and support of friends like you will make his task a little less challenging, a little easier to bear.”

“I hope so. I hope so,” Sean replied, shaking his head in sadness. “He’s been through enough.”

Dropping his gaze to his hands, folded loosely between his knees as he sat, he contemplated the situation. Then, realizing that his comment was met with silence, Sean looked up at the counselor, who sat opposite him, pen in hand, but no longer writing. She was looking at him thoughtfully, and the Brit was suddenly uncomfortable.

Breaking the uneasy silence, he asked, “So what now? Tell me what to do.”

Leaning forward, Candace swept her gaze over him appreciatively, her smile returning. As if speaking to a co-conspirator, she replied in a pseudo-whisper.

“All right. Here’s the plan.”

Chapter Text

Out of the corner of his eye, Viggo watched his young friend as he fidgeted on the couch beside him. Orlando couldn’t seem to get comfortable; every time he appeared to be ready to relax, he started moving again. Stretching his arms. Crossing and recrossing his legs. Cracking his neck. The boy was obviously on edge, and Viggo knew why.

Glancing at the clock on the mantle, he noted the time—6:00. Dinner time. Getting closer to evening and then bedtime. The time Orlando hated most of all; the time he dreaded nowadays. Even though the young man had been sleeping somewhat peacefully by Viggo’s side every night, he still seemed to fear the late hours. In fact, it was only when he was lying next to the older man that he found any peace at all. And that was part of the problem.

While Orlando had been doing some close-up shots with Peter earlier today, Viggo had enjoyed a quiet lunch with Sean. Well, enjoyed was too strong a word, actually. Sean had laid out his concerns regarding their young friend, as well as his worry with respect to Viggo’s behavior and attitude—a behavior and attitude that the Dane had not even realized he’d adopted.

But when Sean started pointing out ways in which the other man was hindering Orli’s recovery, Viggo was forced to do some long, hard thinking. He realized the other man was correct—he’d been enabling Orlando to continue being afraid without actually having to face his fears.

Viggo realized that he’d been taking on those fears for the boy, protecting him, smothering him. He wasn’t allowing the young man to be independent at all. And he realized that Orlando was totally accepting of that, seemed to relish it in fact. And at the moment, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

Viggo had hidden his surprise when Sean had told him of his visit with Orlando’s counselor the day before. Even though he knew how much the other man cared for Orlando, he was oddly touched by the Brit’s actions.

Now, he was gathering his courage to put Candace’s suggestion into effect. But it was hard…so hard. The older man had purposely not made dinner tonight, intending to eat take-out—Chinese. There was a Chinese restaurant just a mile and a half away. He’d eaten there before, numerous times. He and Orlando had eaten there just nights before. Tonight would be different, though.

Tonight, instead of calling the order in and waiting for the food to arrive, the food was going to be picked up. And not picked up by just anybody. He was going to send Orlando. Problem was, Orlando didn’t know that at the moment. How to tell him?

‘Oh, Orli. I know you’re terrified of everything at the moment, and I realize it’s getting dark outside but, hey, I’m sending you out into it to get our supper.’

Too crass? Definitely. Too mean and heartless? Oh yes. But was there any other way? Candace said the boy needed to face his fears, but not to force him. Where did one draw the line? Watching the boy continue to move restlessly, he decided to just get on with it.

“Ummm, Orlando. Would you do me a favor?”

That got his attention. The young man stopped in mid-fidget and turned to face his friend.

“Sure, Viggo. What do you need?”

Here it came.

“Well, we both got home late today. I know I’m too tired to cook anything. So I’ve ordered some food from Chan’s. Problem is, I’m bushed. And I’ve got a really early call tomorrow. I just want to get cleaned up and relax for a few minutes. Do you mind running over to pick it up?”

While he started out speaking normally, the young man’s continued silence and increasingly apprehensive expression caused the words to tumble out of his mouth at a faster and faster pace. He could barely keep up with them. When he was finished, he waited only a few moments for Orlando to reply.

His only response was to shake his head slowly and look at the older man imploringly, his eyes wide with fright. It tore at Viggo’s heart, but he kept reminding himself that the young man hadn’t gone anywhere on his own since coming home from the hospital. He’d been glued to the older man’s side almost continuously. And as much as Viggo enjoyed having him there and watching over him, he admitted that it wasn’t healthy for the young man. Orlando needed to at least take the first steps back towards independence.

Watching the young man now, the Dane felt a twinge of guilt as he thought about the blinders he’d been wearing this last week. Without even realizing it, he’d allowed Orlando to become totally dependent on him. And that wasn’t good.

Viggo sighed to himself. It wasn’t going to be easy, but he was going to have to undo the damage he’d done. He was going to help his friend return to what he once was—a vibrant, happy and independent young man.

Taking a deep breath and steeling himself against what he was about to do, Viggo spoke again, not giving Orlando time to reply.

“Here’s some money,” reaching into his pocket, he withdrew some bills, which he held out to the younger man, finally laying them down on the coffee table when Orlando made no move to take them. “And here’s my car keys. I’m going to hop in the shower. Why don’t you run on down and pick up our dinner? Okay?”

Forcing a smile and not giving the young man time to refuse, Viggo rose and walked towards the bathroom, desperate to look back, but afraid of what he would find if he did. So he kept walking and praying that Orlando would be gone when he emerged once again.

Entering the bathroom and closing the door behind him, he sent a silent appeal upwards that Orlando could do this. Divesting himself of his clothes and turning the shower faucets until the room was filled with steam, Viggo climbed in and lost himself in the sensation of hot water cascading over his head and down his body. For a few brief moments, anyway, he was able to forget and he was able to convince himself that an appetizing Chinese dinner would be awaiting him when he emerged.

Chapter Text

ORLANDO

As he watched the bathroom door close behind Viggo, Orlando tried to breathe. And realized it was a struggle. Forcing his eyes away from the now closed door to the coffee table in front of him, he stared at the bills and keys lying there—waiting for him to scoop them up and take them away. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t even move at the moment, so petrified was he at the mere thought of venturing out alone.

Bringing a suddenly trembling hand up to his face, he wiped away the perspiration forming on his brow, even as he fought to maintain his breathing. Hearing the shower running in the bathroom, he envisioned Viggo standing under the soothing spray. Viggo, who was looking forward to enjoying a Chinese meal. Viggo, who was expecting that meal to be here when he was finished. Viggo, who was going to go hungry tonight because he, Orlando, just couldn’t do it.

Bringing his knees up to his chin and wrapping them protectively in his arms, Orlando buried his face in them and fought against the tears that were threatening. He knew Viggo was going to be unhappy and he realized that he would be the cause of that disappointment. But at the moment, there was nothing he could do about it.

He just wasn’t strong enough. He didn’t have the courage to do what Viggo obviously expected. He was too afraid. And then it hit him. A quiet comment made at his first group therapy session. A patient who was inordinately proud of himself for going to the store—alone.

At the time, he had scoffed at the situation, wondering what the big deal was. But now he understood. He knew. He was that young man. Except he didn’t yet have the courage to venture out and go to the store…or the Chinese restaurant…or anywhere. He was an inmate in a self-imposed prison. And he had no idea how to break out.

Closing his eyes, he listened as the sound of the shower stopped. He waited for the door to open, for Viggo to come out and realize what a failure he had for a friend.

VIGGO

‘I wonder how long I can stay in here? Can he hear the shower from out there? Is he going? Is he gone? I want to go look but I’m afraid of what I’ll find. Better to stay in here a while longer. Feels good, anyway. Relaxing. Aahhhh…I can sure use this.’

Viggo ducked his head under the spray, letting the water cascade over his head and down into the tub. The hot droplets felt so good on his neck and shoulders. He stood still for several moments, simply letting the shower pour over him and down into the drain. The sensation was wonderful, almost decadent, and he allowed it to continue.

Finally, though, after what seemed an eternity but was, he was sure, only several minutes, he reached out reluctantly to turn the handle to ‘off,’ effectively ending his stolen moments of luxury. Time to get to it. Time to see what was going on out there, whether he wanted to or not.

With a heavy sigh he reached for his towel and was very shortly dressed and ready to emerge. Holding his breath, he opened the door a few inches and peered outside, immediately feeling foolish as he did so. What was he, a kid skulking around, trying not to get caught doing something? Well, it was quiet out there. From his vantage point behind the bathroom door he really couldn’t see much. Better to just get out there and face whatever was waiting for him.

Swinging the door wide he made his way down the hall towards the living room, his eyes focused on the back of the couch. The room was quiet. He didn’t see Orlando. Maybe it had worked! Just as a smile was forming on his face, he spied the money and keys lying on the coffee table, exactly where he’d left them. His smile faltered, accompanied by the plummeting of his heart. Half scared to break the silence, he forced himself to speak.

“Orlando? Orli? Are you here?”

Even as the words escaped him he reached the back of the sofa and looking down, saw the object of his thoughts. Orlando. Curled on his side with his arms around his knees. A fetal position almost. The boy’s eyes were squeezed shut, and his forehead rested against his updrawn knees. The young man seemed totally unaware of his presence.

Moving closer, Viggo leaned over the back of the couch and reached a hand towards his young friend, intending to let him know he was no longer alone. But when he actually touched him, the other man just pulled in tighter to himself. Viggo raised his hand, breaking physical contact. As he did so, he heard the young man speak.

“I’m sorry.”

“What?” the Dane asked, not sure that he’d heard correctly.

A tearstained face was lifted and sorrow-filled brown eyes rose to meet his own blue ones.

“Viggo, I’m sorry. I…I just couldn’t…do it.”

‘Oh God. I just want to wrap my arms around him and protect him. Promise him that I’ll never let anything hurt him again. I don’t want to see him in pain like this. It hurts me, too. But…I have to.’

 

 

Viggo’s heart went out to the young man and he fought the impulse to enfold him in his arms and take away all his pain. As wonderful as that would make him feel, it wouldn’t help Orli, not at the moment. He had to play this slow.

“What happened, Orli?” the Dane asked as he rounded the sofa to sit next to his friend. “Why couldn’t you go?”

He watched as Orlando struggled with himself to respond. It was several moments before the young man was able to formulate a response.

“I just…couldn’t. I wanted to but…I couldn’t,” he shrugged his defeat, his head hung in abject misery.

As painful as this was, the answer wasn’t enough for Viggo. He wanted to know why.

 

 

“Orlando, why? Why couldn’t you go?”

The tortured eyes met his once again, except this time they were flashing with barely suppressed anger and Viggo wasn’t quite sure where it was directed.

“Don’t you understand? I can’t go out, especially by myself. I…it…what if they’re out there?”

 

 

And suddenly Viggo understood as all the pieces fell into place. Sean and Candace were right. Orlando hadn’t moved beyond the attack at all. He wasn’t improving. Instead, he was allowing his life to be dominated by the terror he’d been through. He wasn’t conquering it at all. It was conquering him. And he, Viggo, was helping him along, every step of the way.

He thought back over the last week and replayed in his mind each and every helpful thing he’d done to make the young man’s transition easier. But now, thinking back on it, his actions didn’t seem helpful so much has hindering. Rather than assisting Orlando’s recovery, he was impeding it by allowing his friend to become almost totally dependent on him.

Orlando hadn’t driven his car since coming home, nor had he been anywhere alone. Viggo had handled their transportation to and from the set and he’d accompanied the young man everywhere.

Even at the beginning when the young man had been released from the hospital, Viggo had brought him home with him, rather than help him face and conquer his fears in his own home. And perhaps most importantly, the nighttime. Orlando had been sharing Viggo’s bed since the beginning. Driven out of his own bed by terror, haunted by the events of the last weeks, the young man had found comfort and safety in the bed of his older friend.

And the Dane, reveling in the sensation of sharing his bed with the object of his hidden affections, allowed it to happen and to continue, making no effort to assist his friend in vanquishing those fears.

‘I need to set this right. I need to help Orli stand on his own two feet again. I’m not helping him now. Not at all.’

 

 

Viggo knew what he had to do and he realized it wasn’t going to be pleasant. It was going to be one of the hardest things he’d ever done in his entire life. But he had no choice. He had to do it. For Orlando.

Chapter Text

VIGGO

‘Oh God. How do I do this? I know what I need to do but how do I tell him? I don’t want to hurt him…again. He’s been hurt enough already.’

Viggo watched the young man before him, took in the fearful eyes and the guarded expression, the defensive body language. Orlando was scared and that fear wasn’t going away. Instead, it only seemed to be intensifying.

Steeling himself for the reaction he was sure was coming, Viggo reached out and grasped his friend by the shoulders, forcing the young man to look him in the eyes.

“Orlando. It’s going to be all right. You’re going to be all right. And you’re safe. You are. Really.” Seeing the curly head move slightly in denial, the Dane rushed on, desperate to convince him of what he was saying. “Nothing is going to happen to you. But you have to believe that.”

“But Viggo…”

“No, Orli. Listen to me. It’s all going to work out. You’ll see. We’re all here for you and we want to help you, but…we can’t take over.”

Puzzled brown eyes were studying him, questioning what he’d just said.

“What do you mean…take over?”

Viggo weighed his next words carefully, wanting to get his point across, but fearful of scaring the young man off.

“You need to start standing on your own two feet, Orli. You need to try to start doing the things you used to do—driving your car, going places by yourself. You can do it. I know you can.”

“But what if…”

“No, don’t even think that. You can’t keep living in fear. It’s taking over your life.” Seeing the boy’s breathing increase and the panic written across his face, Viggo hastened to add, “we’re all here to help you. You’re not alone in this.”

Glancing at the money and keys on the table, Viggo smiled, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

“Come on. I’m still hungry. Let’s go get that Chinese food.”

 

Two hours and four cartons of Chinese food later, Viggo leaned back against the sofa cushions in an attempt to reduce pressure on his stretched to the limit stomach. He was full!

And now it was time to put the next phase of the plan into action, much as he dreaded doing so. This was not going to be easy. Viggo knew he was going to break Orlando’s heart and that was nearly unbearable to him. But at the moment, it was necessary.

Looking at the young man slouched next to him, the Dane took in the weariness and depression that had become standard for his friend lately, almost second nature. He hated himself for what he was about to do.

“Well, I think I’m about ready for bed.”

Seeing—and feeling—the younger man’s barely perceptible move towards him, Viggo held out a hand and rushed on.

“Orli…Candace…I think it would be best if you slept in your bed tonight…for now on, actually.”

Chocolate eyes filled with panic stared at him unbelievingly. The dark curls bounced up and down, back and forth as the boy shook his head, slowly at first but increasing in forcefulness.

“But…Viggo…I…can’t…” he trailed off, obviously unable to continue.

“Orli,” the older man replied, trying to soothe frazzled nerves, “I’ll be right in the next room. Only a call away. You’ll be fine, you’ll see.”

Viggo wished he could shut out or even erase the sight of pain-filled eyes staring at him in disbelief. Where once they’d looked at him with trust, now they held only betrayal. It made his heartache with sadness.

Forcing himself up, Viggo looked down at the young man, who had not moved a muscle since his sentence had been delivered. He hated to leave it this way.

“It’ll be all right, Orli. You’ll see.”

There was no reply save a quiet sob, quickly stifled. Viggo steeled himself to follow through on the plan—to walk away. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his entire life. With a last nod at the devastated boy on the sofa, he turned and walked down the hall to his own bedroom—a bedroom that suddenly seemed empty and cold.

 

Jerking awake, Viggo lay quietly, absorbing his surroundings. He was in his room, in his own bed—alone. It was dark and quiet…no, not totally quiet. There was noise coming from…somewhere.

Throwing back the tangled covers, he rose from the bed and padded silently across the room. Cracking his door he saw light coming from the living room. What the…what time was it? Glancing back over his shoulder at the fluorescent numbers next to the bed, he realized it was 3:14 in the morning. As he stood there trying to decide what to do, he heard laughter and realized the television was still on. Orlando must be out there.

Pulling the door open he made his way down the hall, stopping when he approached the sofa. Orlando was slouched in the corner, eyes closed, breathing almost even. He was asleep, but Viggo could see that it was not a restful sleep.

The young man’s eyelids moved and his hands twitched, as if his mind was racing with dreams which were far from pleasant. As the older man stood there he heard a soft moan followed by a muffled sob.

Sighing, the Dane debated what to do. This was not working out the way it was supposed to. Orlando was supposed to be in his bed sleeping peacefully instead of sitting twisted on an uncomfortable sofa having nightmares.

Walking around the couch, Viggo reached over to turn off the television, sending the room into silence save for the younger man’s occasional moan. Approaching the tortured figure, he lowered himself slowly until he was seated next to his friend.

Just as he reached towards the boy, intending to shake him to wakefulness, brown eyes filled with terror snapped open and the thin body recoiled violently. Viggo wasn’t certain, but Orlando didn’t appear to recognize him.

The young man’s eyes were wild as they surveyed the room frantically, searching for…something or someone. The breathing became erratic for a moment before calming to something resembling normalcy. And then Orlando returned his gaze to his friend and Viggo’s heart nearly broke once again at the expression of pain and horror he now faced.

Orlando was obviously terrified of sleeping by himself. When he was alone, the nightmares came. And with the nightmares came even more terror and fear. And so he had tried to circumvent the entire situation by staying up. But his exhaustion had caught up with him and here he was, sleeping restlessly on the sofa.

The older man wrestled with himself. He had no idea what to do at this moment. If he followed the recommendation of a trained therapist, he would get up and walk away, leaving the young man to suffer alone and, hopefully, work his way through it. The other alternative, though, was much preferable. If he followed his heart, he would reach out and gather his friend to him, holding him close as he provided reassurance and protection.

Gazing at the tortured eyes, Viggo considered which action to take. What would benefit Orlando the most at this moment? He didn’t know. Upon hearing the young man speak, however, the Dane’s course of action was decided.

“Viggo. Please, let me come with you? Please? I don’t want to be alone…I can’t do this alone.”

“Orli,” Viggo began, moving to kneel beside the young man. “I know it’s hard, but you can do this. You need to learn to stand on your own two feet again.”

A panicked “no!” was his response.

“Orlando…”

“No, Viggo. You don’t understand…”

The older man was becoming seriously worried by his friend’s reaction.

“Viggo, I can’t…I can’t be alone. I need you here, with me. Please!”

Seeing the young man’s anguish, Viggo was torn. He wanted to give in and take over…let the boy surrender himself to him so that he could take care of him, watch over him. But he knew this wasn’t healthy. Not now. Without even realizing where the words came from, he uttered his response.

“Orlando. You need to deal with this. It’s not healthy to be so dependent on someone else. And…I didn’t tell you this before, but I’m leaving tomorrow and I’ll be gone for several days.” As he sensed his friend’s panic increasing, Viggo rushed on to finish. “I need to go home for a couple of days. I need to be with Henry. He needs me right now.”

‘Great! Now I’m lying to the kid. Henry’s fine…has no idea I’m coming. But I don’t know what else to do except remove myself from the picture for a couple of days…and hope Orli will be okay.’

Viggo’s resolve almost crumbled when Orlando began to cry, the tears falling silently down his cheeks. But the only thing he wanted was for Orlando to be…Orlando…again. And if that meant deserting him for several days, then so be it.

Not wanting to appear totally heartless, he reached out and wiped away some tears with his thumb, savoring the feel of the soft skin. His mind searched desperately for a way to lighten the mood.

“Hey, it won’t be all that bad. Everyone else will be here—Sean, Ian, the Hobbits, and the others. They’ll all be here if you need them. And you can stay here if you want. You don’t have to go back to your place.”

Orlando just sat and stared at him, the tears slowing to an ebb, his expression resigned. Viggo prayed he was doing the right thing. Only time would tell.