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Sex Symbol

Chapter Text

                                               

BETA'D BY: Moon_Of_Io (AO3)

                 greenprism (LJ)

                                                                                                              *~*~*

 

Viggo didn't register what he'd just said until it was out of his mouth and the interviewer was avidly writing it down. Orlando, a sex symbol, he thought to himself as he scratched his head while walking towards the elevator. The words continued to echo through the vaults of his mind as the lift descended to the parking garage where his limo waited. The younger man was a lot of things, Viggo thought, but a sex symbol...that was laughable. Viggo could never see his young friend in such a way, but there it was, charging out of his mouth like a bull at a matador.

 

When Viggo got home, he stopped at the mailbox and pulled out a bunch of bills. It seemed the more movies he made, the more things came up for him to pay. Thank you, Lord of the Rings. Gloving the bills was something else; it was a Teen People magazine with none other than Orlando Freaking Bloom on the cover. Viggo let out an explosive breath.

 

Why couldn't the mail carrier get it right? The little teeny bopper next door had subscribed to this magazine three month ago, and Viggo had been getting one every month in his mailbox by mistake ever since.

 

Even through his exasperation, Viggo couldn’t stop a crooked smile at the magazine cover. He ran a finger over Orlando's upturned face, haloed in hair the color of dark chocolate. Once Lord of the Rings had stopped filming, Orlando's long blond extensions had come out, and he had resumed his normal hairstyle with more than a little relief. The dark brown ringlets of his natural hair had always made Viggo's hands itch.

 

He loved Orlando's hair, and had on more than one occasion run his hand through it just for the pleasure of feeling the soft, silky strands slide against his fingers.

 

The picture on the girly magazine was certainly aimed to appeal; Orlando sat in a plain white tee shirt, his face upturned to the sun. His smile was subtle, but the look in his eyes...dear god, the only word was “smoldering.”

 

How had Orlando become this? Viggo hadn't seen it until now; there was no denying Orlando was annoyingly cute, but he had always just been sweet Orli, affectionate Orli, make you laugh Orli, goofy Orli, playful Orli. But now... he was hot Orli, give a man a hard-on Orli, lick my way down his body Orli, taste that sweet skin Orli, body so tight Orli, having him talking in tongues Orli, bend him over and bury myself deep inside that sweet ass Orli, have him screaming my name while I explode inside him...oh, God, Viggo's thoughts were getting the best of him, and he looked down and noticed he was hard as a rock. His dick pointed like an arrow towards his house. Great.

 

Viggo's own words still rang in his ears: I don’t feel like I’m such; Orlando Bloom, now he’s a sex symbol. Maybe you should ask him that.

 

Splashed across the cover under Orlando's face, the editor had printed: The Lord of the Rings' ORLANDO BLOOM, and subtitled, “What really turns him on.”

 

Without thinking, Viggo flipped open the magazine and looked intently in the table of contents for the page number of the interview.

 

"Hey, Vig."

 

Viggo closed his eyes.

 

“Christ,” he muttered to himself. To his amazement, he hadn't even heard Orlando's usual loud rock music approach as he drove up.

 

Without turning around, Viggo glanced back down at the bulge in his pants. What am I going to do about this? Viggo let the magazine hide the evidence of his lust, but c'mon Orlando wasn't stupid, he could put two and two together. Right now though, this was his only option, so with the magazine over the front of his pants, he slowly turned to face Orlando, smiling with practiced casualness.

 

"Hey, Orli", Viggo said. Orlando, looking ridiculously put-together in a stylish black tee shirt and a pair of madras shorts, closed in on him from the street where his sporty little two-seater was parked.

 

“I thought you were going to call me when you left your interview,” he said, his eyes big and questioning. Big cow eyes. Viggo imagined those eyes looking up at him while Orlando kissed his way down Viggo's chest, his belly-

 

“Vig?” Orlando said, interrupting his heated thoughts.

 

Viggo cleared his suddenly dry throat. “Yeah, sorry, my mind gets away from me sometimes, you know,” he said evasively. “Getting senile in my old age, I guess.”

 

“You’re not old, Viggo,” he said sweetly.

 

“You’re too kind; really, too kind.”

 

Orlando laughed lightly. “But hey, are you ready to go to the beach? The whole gang said they'd be there.”

 

Viggo’s eyes moved from Orlando’s. Ah shit, he thought. The beach, sand, and a wet Orli. The water glistening off his hard stomach and pecs, his lean swimmer's build showcased in a tight pair of swim trunks-

 

“Earth to Viggo.”

 

Dammit! Viggo’s eyes snapped back to Orlando. “Oh, sorry, uh-” before Viggo could get the words out Orlando eyed the magazine Viggo was using to shield his throbbing erection.

 

Orlando grabbed the magazine out of Viggo's hand and flipped through it.

 

“So you're subscribing to Teen People now, are you?” Orlando laughed.

 

“That's not mine,” Viggo said quickly.

 

“Ha! Famous last words,” Orlando said teasingly. “'That bag of weed isn't mine, officer, I'm holding it for a friend!'”

Viggo forced a laugh. “Heh, yeah. Except that it really was supposed to go to the next door neighbor's teenage daughter. Check out the name.” God, don't let Orlando think he'd bought that thing.

 

“Oh, Vig,” Orlando said, his eyes on an ad for Maybeline lipstick. “I believed you.” He started flipping through the pages, looking for his interview. He was too preoccupied with reading the interviewer's story to notice the volcano on the verge of eruption in Viggo's jeans. How he wished he'd untucked his shirt after he'd left his own interview so it could be serving to cover the proof of his lust right now! But Orlando was catching up on the latest gossip and was therefore oblivious to the whirlwind Viggo was in. When Orlando looked back up at him, Viggo shifted the remainder of his mail in front of him.

 

Orlando held the magazine in front of his chest so the cover was facing Viggo. "Magazine covers always amuse me; they're always so dramatic when you know you don't normally take pictures like this."

 

Viggo made a noise that was supposed to pass for a laugh.

 

That was Orlando, funny Orli, crack a joke Orli, not push you down on the grass because I wanna fuck you so bad Orli.

 

Orlando stared back down at his cover. "I really don't like this picture," he said, shaking his head.

 

Viggo smirked. Clearly he and Orlando weren't looking at the same picture, he thought. Not when that very picture had Viggo practically creaming his boxer briefs.

 

"Why?" Viggo asked, "What's wrong with it?"

 

"It looks weird," Orlando answered.

 

"I think it's cute," Viggo replied without thinking, then promptly put his foot in his mouth for the second time that day.

 

He winced as Orlando grinned up at him.

 

"Viggo Mortensen, did you just call me cute?"

 

Viggo bit his lip, only to start stuttering when he did speak again. “I- uh, just- uh, meant that..." Exasperated, Viggo decided to stop acting like he was trying to ask Orlando to the prom and just blurted out, “Orli c'mon, you know you're gorgeous!"

 

Orlando laughed.

 

"I'm just messing with you, Viggo. You're so funny. Now c'mon go get your beachwear on."

 

Orlando walked past Viggo, filling Viggo's nostrils with the beguiling scent of the young man. He smelled like cologne, certainly, but underneath that, he was something...more. Earthy, but soft, like the rain in spring.

 

“Let's go!” the spring rains shouted impatiently from Viggo's front porch.

 

Once inside, Orlando placed the magazine on Viggo's coffee table and followed him up the stairs. Viggo could barely walk because every thought of Orlando was making his hormones rage harder and harder. How glad he was for once that Orlando didn't demonstrate his famous greetings by flinging himself into Viggo's arms and showering him with the kisses that Viggo usually welcomed. If Orlando had done so, had brushed that tight body against Viggo, Viggo would have come all over his front lawn.

 

He opened his bedroom door, and Orlando walked straight to Viggo's king sized bed and flopped down on it, much to Viggo's dismay. At that moment, it took every fibre of his being not to climb onto the bed with Orlando and mount his young Brit without any preliminaries. As it was, his eyes helplessly roamed Orlando's body, every inch of him perfect, like he'd been carved from the chisel of Michelangelo. Of course, Viggo had always thought Orlando was perfect.

 

Orlando, still oblivious to Viggo's newfound lust, didn't notice the way Viggo was looking at him. From the nightstand, he grabbed the copy of The Blind Assassin Viggo had been reading the night previous and opened it to the place Viggo had marked. "Go on, Viggo,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand, “Change." He buried his nose in the book.

 

This was ridiculous. There was no way he could change in front of Orlando and hide his raging erection. He had to get rid of it.

 

"I have to take a shower," Viggo blurted.

 

“What?” Orlando asked, incredulous. He wide eyes stared at him over the top of Margaret Atwood's name. “We're going to the beach. The beach is full of sand and salt water and seaweed. You don't need a shower! You just need a pair of swim trunks and a towel! And maybe some sunscreen!”

 

“Orli, it's been a long day, and I'm a little tense,” Viggo invented. “I just need a hot shower to relax some muscles, okay? I won't take long.”

 

“Why are you so tense?” Orlando asked, tossing Viggo's book aside and coming up on his knees at the edge of the bed. He looked like a young tomcat, begging for a treat. Viggo shuddered.

A look of consternation crossed Orlando's face.

 

“You're really stressed, aren't you?” he asked.

 

“You have no idea,” Viggo muttered.

 

“Come here,” Orlando said emphatically.

 

“Why?” Viggo hedged nervously.

 

“Just do it, King of Gondor. Here.” Viggo didn't move. “Heeeere,” Orlando said, drawing out the diphthong and pointing imperiously at the floor in front of him. “Over here.” Viggo hesitantly stepped forward. “That's right. This way. Here we go. Right here.”

 

The crooning tone in Orlando's voice brought to Viggo's mind visions of the two of them entwined in the dark, his elf whispering naughty things in his ear while their bodies were locked together in fervent, divine passion-

 

“Oh, bloody hell, Viggo, just come here already! I'm trying to help you out, mate.”

Viggo shook off his daydream and closed the distance between them, looking up at Orlando in askance.

 

“Right. Well done. Now turn round.”

 

“What-”

 

“Just turn around, Viggo! Cor, why does everything have to be a struggle with you today?”

Viggo turned.

 

“Now, sit.”

 

Once again, Viggo obeyed.

 

Which was a mistake.

 

Strong, sure hands dug into the muscles of his shoulders, searching out tension and commanding it to dissolve under his fingers.

 

Viggo bit back a groan. Orlando prided himself on his massages; Viggo himself had been subject to quite a few and had always enjoyed them, but he'd been blind to Orlando's other, now quite obvious charms at the time.

 

Now, though, Viggo closed his eyes, coming undone at the feel of Orlando's breath on the back of his neck as his young elf proceeded in his searching rhythm of find, dissolve, soothe. He could feel Orlando's thighs around him, strong and limber, and tried without success not to envision those legs locked around him as Viggo cupped his face and kissed him deeply while thrusting forward-

 

And then Orlando's deft fingers pulled Viggo's shirt out from his waistband and proceeded to unbutton it. Viggo's body flushed noticeably, and his breathing became more rapid. He prayed Orlando didn't notice. The taste left his mouth and he felt a lump in his throat as the younger man peeled his shirt away, baring his broad shoulders and back. The bulge under his fly was very evident, and he helplessly wondered what Orlando would do if he unzipped himself, freed his straining cock, and guided Orlando's sweet mouth to it. He began to tremble with the effort it took to control himself, and his muscles locked in response.

 

“Damn, Viggo," Orlando breathed against his ear, "you are really tense." His hands began to wander lower, and Viggo could feel his silky, curly hair trailing along his shoulder blade.

 

“Like I said,” he croaked through his suddenly very dry throat. “Long day.”

 

Orlando moved his hands down to the small of Viggo's back. “You're so hot, Viggo,” he said.

 

"What?!" Viggo almost jumped out of his skin. Could Orlando feel the same way? Jesus, how long had this been going on? Viggo started running almost every conversation they'd ever had through his head, searching for seduction attempts, looking for double entendres, deeper meanings, a look of longing, anything.

 

But Orlando, who was more in touch with reality, only said, "You're burning up, Viggo. Are you ill, mate?"

 

Relief warred with disappointment, and Viggo let out a ragged sigh. “No, Orli, just overheated. It's hot in here. The a/c's on the fritz, and we're on the second floor. Aren't you hot?”

 

He felt rather than heard Orlando shake his head. “After living in New Zealand a year and half, I've gotten used to the heat. Never thought I would! England never gets this hot.”

 

Orlando's efforts in de-stressing Viggo's body had the ironic outcome of causing the opposite effect; indeed, it seemed as if every muscle in his body were clenched in anticipation and despair.

 

“Right,” Orlando said. “On your stomach you go.”

 

Viggo stiffened even more.

 

“What?”

 

“You're as hard as a rock, Viggo.”

 

No kidding, Viggo thought miserably.

 

"I can't believe you're this tense and still alive. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, if someone stuck a lump of coal up your arse, in a week you'd have a diamond.”

 

If Orlando didn't stop talking, he was gonna have something up his ass, all right. Or, rather, he'd have someone up his ass.

 

“I can feel it right here," Orlando continued, pressing on the small of Viggo's back, "and I think you should lay down so I can get in better."

 

Great! Mayday, mayday, mayday. Crash course! Viggo's mind was running away from him again.

 

...I can feel it.

 

...lay down so I can get in...

 

Orli, baby, you're killing me, Viggo thought.

 

In the last half hour, every innocent word out the Brit's mouth had come to have a double meaning Viggo.

 

Orlando burst in through Viggo's thoughts again with an insistent tug on his shoulders. "C'mon, lie down, Viggo."

 

 

Oh, he was tempted. He could already feel Orlando straddling his ass, his inner thighs clasping Viggo while the young man leaned forward with each massage stroke. He'd have to control the urge to rub his trapped cock against his silk duvet, to turn over onto his back and pull Orlando down on top of him, cover his mouth with his own, drive his tongue into its depths, swallow Orlando's surprised gasp-

 

Abruptly, Viggo stood up, pulling away from Orlando's clever and dangerous touch.

“I thought you were in a hurry, and I still have to take a shower,” he croaked.

 

"I was just trying to make you feel good,” Orlando replied, his tone somewhat bewildered.

 

...feel good.

 

Of course Orlando meant hey buddy, old pal let me help you so you can come hang out with me and the gang relaxed and free from stress.

 

To Viggo it sounded more like, hey lover let me lie you on your back and help you relax by making you shoot your load straight down my throat, and baby I'm gonna swallow it all...

 

Without thinking Viggo snapped, "Orli please stop talking!"

 

Orlando looked a little confused but he knew Viggo wasn't angry at him. Indeed, his anger seemed to be directed at himself, and Orlando knew it was only a matter of time before Viggo told him what was bothering him; it had always been thus. So he didn't press Viggo to unload his problem, and instead sat in the same kitty-cat position he had before, his eyes questioning.

 

Viggo immediately wished he could have taken back his tone. He never yelled at Orlando, and it wasn't his fault he'd been lusting after the boy for the last hour. It was stressful, discovering a newfound passion where none had been seen before, having illusions shattered, and knowing nothing would ever be the same between them.

 

Slowly, Viggo sat back down. “I'm sorry, Orli, it's just been a long, long day.” He'd already said that about three times, but his improvisational skills were not at their usual sharpness today.

Then Viggo felt a pressure moving against his back, right about where Orlando's fly would be. Once again, Viggo stiffened. What-

 

“Dip it low, pick it up slow, roll it all around, poke it out like your back broke, pop pop pop that thing, I'ma show you how to make your man say 'Ooh'...”

 

Orlando's ringtone began playing, and the vibration against Viggo's back ceased as Orlando reached into his shorts pocket and pulled out his phone. Viggo closed his eyes. Man, he was dumb. For a minute he just sat there trying not to think, before Orlando's tone drew him back into the moment.

 

"I swear, Dom, if you're not there you're getting pummeled the next time I see you. Don't think you can bloody back out bloody arsing now! I don't care what desert island you have to get to, the only beach you need to worry about today is right here in Los Angeles!”

 

Viggo felt the mattress shift as Orlando moved off it to pace restlessly.

 

“Do you know how much trouble I went to set this up? I have a bloody cabana with an open bar! Tequila will be pouring out your ears, mate! This is our last chance, maybe ever, to be together like this. Doesn't that mean anyth-”

 

“All right, all right, yeh great gangling elf-boy!” Viggo heard Dominic's voice over Orlando's phone. “I'll be there, but I can't make any promises as to how long.”

 

“That's where you're wrong, mate. You'll be there are as long as the party goes on. We're building a bonfire, and Billy's bringing his guitar.”

 

Viggo heard Dominic's answering groan. “I am not singing kumbaya, and you can't make me.”

“Oh, you'll sing, little hobbit. You'll sing and you'll love it,” Orlando retorted. “I'll see you soon. Cheers.”

 

Viggo watched Orlando continue to prowl around in irritation. "Dommie trying to get out of it?"

 

Orlando rolled his eyes. "Yeah, he has to leave to go shoot some new show for tellie about some plane crash on some desert island, but we're all supposed to go to the beach before I leave for Troy, so he'd better be there.”

 

Viggo laughed, "Want all your chickens in the nest huh?"

 

“This is the last time, Vig,” Orlando said earnestly. “The last time. Doesn't that make you sad? We've become family and made this amazing, breathlessly beautiful work of art with Pete and Pippa and everyone, and now...it's all over. Just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “I just can't let go. Not just yet. I just want one more day. Aragorn and Legolas had sixty years, probably longer. You and I have only had three. How is that fair? Why does it have to all fall apart?”

 

“That's the life of an actor, Orli,” Viggo said. “You work on a project, and the project is over. Lord of the Rings, though...it was an extraordinary time. I will never forget those years. And I'll never forget you.”

Orlando's eyes flashed. “Too right, you won't!” he said. “I won't give you time to forget me! You're not getting rid of me that easily, sir. I'll be popping round every chance I get, and I fully expect you to come visit me on the set. Someone has to keep Beanie in check. He gets so over-dramatic when he's filming his death scenes.”

 

Viggo laughed, appreciating the break in the tension. “Well, once you've done it a hundred or so times, it gets a little boring. He's probably just trying to break the monotony.”

“We'll be gone three months, Vig. Please come visit us.” The pleading in Orlando's eyes broke Viggo's heart.

 

“All right, Orli,” he said quietly. “I'll do my best to.”

 

Orlando's answering smile was like sunshine, and before Viggo knew what he was doing, the young man had flung himself into Viggo's arms and was covering his face with kisses.

Dammit, dammit, dammit!

 

“All right, all right!” Viggo yelled, and set Orlando away from him before the little imp could feel Viggo's erection pressed against his belly. “I'm going to take that shower now,” he said, and headed for the bathroom.

 

Orlando groaned, “Really? Still with the shower?”

 

Viggo let out an impatient breath. “Fine, no shower,” he conceded. “Can I at least use my toilet, or do you want me to wait and dig a hole at the beach?”

 

Orlando laughed. “No, mate, take your slash. Just don't be all day about it. The tide will be coming in, and I want to do a bit of surfing.”

 

“It won't take long,” Viggo answered. No, it wouldn't, he thought as he headed for the bathroom. Probably four, maybe five strokes with his fist would do it.

It took two.

 

Once inside, he'd turned on the faucet, freed his painfully throbbing cock, and with two pumps he'd finally released his milky white lust into the toilet. Not a very satisfying climax, but it was, at least, a relief.

 

His hand trembled as he reached to flush, then washed up and opened the door.

Finally,” Orlando muttered from his position on the bed. He'd once again draped himself across it, and was busily typing a text to someone on his phone. “Can we go now?” he added impatiently.

 

Viggo raised an eyebrow. "Can I get changed first?"

 

Orlando gave him a 'go on' wave of his hand without looking up from his phone, and Viggo added, "In private."

 

Orlando rolled his eyes but murmured 'fine' and stalked towards the door, without paying mind to Viggo's sudden bashfulness. As Viggo watched him, it came to mind that they'd spent two years together sharing the same trailer and another year doing pick-ups, so there wasn't anything either one of them hadn't seen of each other, but to expose himself now the way he was feeling would be the first time he'd ever felt naked.

 

Orlando turned back with his hand on the door knob, "Are you driving, or shall I?”

 

Viggo smirked, "I am, of course," he said assertively. "You drive like you're still in England, and I don't particularly feel like taking my life in my hands today."

 

Orlando's eyebrow shot up, and he said, “Oh, no, you won't get into a car with me, but you'll superglue a broken tooth back into your head to resume filming for Peter.”

“That was different.”

 

“Superglue is toxic, Viggo.”

 

“It was temporary. Now, do you want me to change or not?”

 

Orlando didn't have a good comeback so he just poked his lip out in a deep pout that made Viggo want to bite him there, then grabbed Viggo's keys off his chest of drawers.

"I'll be in the car," he threw over his shoulder. “I have to load my surf board into it anyway.” He closed the door firmly behind him.

 

Viggo smiled after him, shaking his head. He walked to his window to see Orlando hopping into the passenger seat of his jeep and taking out his phone yet again. As he watched Orlando's hands move rapidly over the tiny keyboard on the phone, Viggo couldn't help but notice Orlando's innate grace. He remembered the touch of those hands on his shoulders and back, and helplessly began to imagine them reaching around and slowly unbuttoning, unzipping, and freeing his only recently-spent cock.

 

“Orlando,” Viggo whispered to the window, watching as Orlando's propped his long legs up on the open door of Viggo's jeep. Viggo's jaw tightened, and he wrapped his hand around his dick yet again, but this time, he gave himself just a minute, slowly inching his fist up this thick shaft. He imagined Orlando on his knees, gazing at him with those adoring eyes as his mouth opened and greedily took him in, his lips and tongue instinctively knowing how Viggo wanted to be taken-

 

Outside, Orlando threw a glance up at his window, and though Viggo knew he couldn't possibly see him through the translucent curtains, it seemed as though they locked eyes, and in that moment Viggo's world splintered as he came harder than he ever had in his life.

 

When he opened his eyes again, it was to the sight of white, viscous fluid splattered on his curtains.

 

"Fucking unbelievable” he groaned, then stole another glance through the window at Orlando hanging out the passenger seat, now talking to someone on the phone.

 

"Goddamnit, Orli, what are you doing to me?" he murmured under his breath.

 

***

 

 

 

By the time Viggo walked out the front door, his body at least temporarily under control, Orlando was fairly vibrating with impatience. Viggo locked the door behind him, then made his way across the lawn to the waiting jeep. He'd dressed unnecessarily carefully, wanting to look as good to Orlando as Orlando looked to him. Even as he'd donned a pair of swim trunks, then a pair of glove-soft dark jeans that felt like a second skin, he'd shaken his head in exasperation.

 

“Why are you trying to impress him?” he'd asked himself, then shrugged into a dark green ribbed tank that showed off his upper body to its every advantage. Orli might be beautiful, with his lean panther frame and smooth olive skin, but Viggo knew he had his own attractions, and damn if he didn't want Orlando noticing them.

 

As he walked toward the car, Orlando glared up at him irritably.

 

"God, Viggo, I thought I was gonna have to send in the mob squad after you."

 

Viggo tossed his beach bag in the back and stared at Orlando, "Just get your feet in the car and close the door.”

 

Orlando did as he said, and Viggo made his way to the driver's side and swung into it with a catlike grace.

 

The drive to the beach was only about a half hour, but with Orlando in the car next to him, it felt more like half a year.

 

Orlando was only chatting on the phone, but the day was scorching hot and in the time he'd been sitting in the jeep waiting on Viggo, he'd worked up a fine sheen of sweat on his golden skin. In answer, Viggo cranked the air conditioner as far down as it would go, but Orlando was already feeling a bit overheated. He ran a hand through his damp curls, then slowly smoothed his hand up his inner thigh, trying to wipe away the sweat from uncomfortable places.

 

“Fuck, it's hot, Viggo!” he exclaimed. “I didn't realize how heated I'd gotten while I was waiting for you.”

 

Heated. That was the word, all right.

 

Orlando continued. “I don't know what took you so long. I might've keeled over from the heat.”

A helpless Orli. Viggo could have carried him back to the house, stripped him bare, cooled his hot body with a damp towel...

He cleared his throat.

 

“You're the one who wanted to wait in the car,” he said with a practiced shrug. “Anyway, think of it as a sauna. It's good to sweat.”

 

“I only like to sweat when I'm making love.”

 

The blare of multiple horns bombarded them just then. Too late, Viggo realized he'd just run straight through a red light and narrowly missed clipping a car. And then he noticed the little old blue-haired lady tottering across the crosswalk. Viggo stomped the brakes as hard as he could, and a cloud of burnt-rubber smoke squealed loudly from his tires.

 

Viggo's blood was pounding in his ears, and he swallowed convulsively, trying to work his heart out of his throat and back down toward his chest. When the smoke cleared, the old woman stood less than six inches from his front bumper. Her eyes were wide and disbelieving. Suddenly, outrage seemed to overtake her, and she pulled her arm back, then slammed her cane on Viggo's spotless hood as hard as she could.

 

“What is wrong with you?” she shouted. Slam! “I had my driver's license taken away last year, but it's young shits like you (slam) who ruin it for everybody! Sixty-three years and a spotless (wham) damn (blam) record!”

 

Crunch!

 

This time her cane had found one of Viggo's parking lights.

 

The woman stomped away as well as she could with the aid of her cane, red faced and huffy. “I should call the police on you, that's what I should do!” she called out over her shoulder. “You're lucky I'm so damn nice!”

 

Orlando watched her retreating back in disbelief, then turned to Viggo.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” Orlando said.

 

Viggo didn't answer. He couldn't tell Orlando what his remark about making love had inserted into Viggo's brain, how yet another vision of twisted sheets and sweaty bodies had blanked his mind and made him unaware of his surroundings.

 

It was official: Orlando was dangerous.

 

Slowly, Viggo shifted into first gear and cautiously moved his car off the road, parking it for a minute while he calmed himself down.

 

“Are you okay?” He asked Orlando. His voice was breathy, his heart still in the process of slowing. The adrenaline pumping through his veins was starting to crash, and felt a bit jittery.

 

“Are you?” Orlando asked. “Blimey, and you talk about my driving being bloody awful.”

 

Viggo reached over to stroke Orlando's curls, more to comfort himself than his young elf. "I'm sorry I scared you,” he said quietly. “I would never put you in danger like that deliberately.”

 

“I know that, Viggo,” Orlando said, holding his gaze.

 

Slowly, Viggo became aware of curious onlookers. No one appeared to recognize them, and thankfully he had very dark tinted windows, but it was only a matter of time before cameras came out and pictures were taken of the two of them. This could be a PR nightmare if he didn't get them out of there.

 

"Viggo, I'm starting to really worry about you,” Orlando said. “Please tell me what's going on; you've been jumpy all afternoon. Talk to me. You tell me everything.”

 

"It's nothing, I promise." Viggo was lying through his teeth.

 

“I don't believe you,” Orlando said simply. “But you know I'm here when you need me.”

Need you...

 

“Now, will you drive us the rest of the way in one piece, or do I need to wrestle those keys away from you?”

 

Viggo snorted. “No way in hell.” He dropped his hand from Orlando's silky tresses and put the car in gear again. Very carefully, he signaled and merged back into traffic.

 

An eon later, Viggo finally pulled into the sandy parking lot. The two got out the car, and Orlando's face still mirrored his concern.

 

Viggo caught his expression and said, "Orli, I'm fine."

 

Orlando looked doubtful but said, "Right-o." He grabbed his beach bag and surf board and umbrella from the back of the jeep, then took off toward the beach proper. A bit slower, Viggo got his own bag and locked the jeep, making his way to the sandy dunes. The beach was somewhat private, and Orlando had found a cozy alcove to set up his umbrella and lay down a towel.

 

“Over here, Viggo!” he called, waving, and then proceeded to disrobe, stripping until he was clad in nothing but a pair of red swim trunks. Without waiting for Viggo, he took off across the sand toward the water, where three of four hobbits were playfully dunking each other in the surf.

 

Viggo watched Orlando's firm ass move as he ran, and he was once again reminded of a panther, lean and quick. Oh, Orlando was beautiful. He sighed, then made his way dejectedly to their spot. As he dropped his bag onto the sand, suddenly his own clothes became restrictive and hot, and he quickly shucked his jeans and tank top, breathing a sigh of relief as a gentle breeze caressed his bare back and shoulders, reminding him of Orlando's hands touching him less than an hour ago.

Viggo was busying himself with putting down his towel and opening a beer when he heard a gentle Scottish brogue from his left.

 

"We didn't think you two were ever getting here, mate," Billy said.

 

Viggo's gaze once again found Orlando, who had just thrown Elijah over his shoulder and into the water. "Neither did I."

 

Billy looked from Orlando to Viggo appraisingly, but his suspicions were drowned out by Dominic's voice who was calling for Billy to join them in the water. Viggo waved hello to him.

 

Billy rose from his seat in the sand. "Aren't you coming?"

 

"I will in a little bit," Viggo said, withdrawing a book of poems from his bag.

 

Billy nodded and ran to the water with an enthusiastic whoop of joy.

 

It was hard to concentrate on Pablo Neruda when a flash of red swim trunks kept catching his eye. Orlando seemed to be everywhere at once. First he was horsing around in the water with Dom and Billy and Elijah and Sean, then he was out on his surfboard, riding the waves that crashed onto the sand with a deafening roar. Viggo looked up again, and Orlando was at the bar ordering a drink with Sean and Karl. Viggo heard Sean laughingly change Orlando's margarita order to a virgin, at which Karl laughed and Orlando playfully swatted Sean on the arm. Sean grabbed a bottle of champagne from an ice bucket and started spraying both Orlando and Karl. Orlando whooped with laughter while Karl wrestled the bottle away from Sean, gave him a thorough champagne bath, then downed the rest of the bubble drink himself.

 

Viggo couldn't help the tinge of jealousy that ran through him at the scene. Viggo knew Sean didn't see Orli that way, but hell, then again, up until a few hours ago neither had Viggo. Now he didn't want anyone else talking to him, playing with him, or touching him. He glanced up again and saw Orlando downing his margarita and heading back toward the water. Viggo made a mental note to watch how much Orlando imbibed if he was going to swim.

 

For the meantime, though, he made more of an effort to lose himself in his book. He turned the page and read:

 

Brown and agile child, the sun which forms the fruit And ripens the grain and twists the seaweed Has made your happy body and your luminous eyes And given your mouth the smile of water. 

 A black and anguished sun is entangled in the twigs Of your dark mane when you hold out your arms. You play in the sun as in a tidal river And it leaves two dark pools in your eyes. 

 Brown and agile child, nothing draws me to you, Everything pulls away from me here in the noon. You are the delirious youth of bee, The drunkenness of the wave, the power of the wheat. 

 My somber heart seeks you always I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice. Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure Like the wheatfield, the sun, the poppy, and the water.

Viggo didn't know how Pablo had written a poem about Orlando before the boy was even born, but he marveled at how perfectly it fit him.

 

“My somber heart seeks you always,” Viggo softly read.

 

"Oh, hell no, Viggo, you are not working now."

 

Orlando, dripping wet, flopped down on his stomach on the towel beside Viggo.

 

Viggo, who did not look at Orlando, laughed, "Orli I'm just not feeling like riding the waves right now."

 

"All right then, well you can work on me!"

 

Viggo immediately tensed. Lord only knew what that meant.

Orlando laid flat on his stomach and rested his head on his arms facing away from Viggo, narrowly missing Viggo's tormented expression.

 

"What, precisely, do you mean me to work on?"

 

"...sunscreen, Viggo, can you put some on my back?"

 

Viggo lightly laughed nervously, "Oh. Sure."

 

Viggo reached into his duffel bag and extracted a bottle of Dr. Mercola's fancy-pants organic sunscreen. He poured it into his hand, and with a hard swallow, began to smooth it onto Orlando's glistening skin.

 

Viggo tried very hard to keep his hands in all safe zones, but Orlando, who had trouble with personal boundaries, sighed and murmured, “Go lower.”

 

Viggo caught his breath and hesitantly did as Orlando requested. He squeezed his sides gently and that only made Orlando moan in pleasure. The thought crossed Viggo's mind that Orlando might actually be getting off on this, but he shoved the idea aside, knowing Orli's enthusiasm for any physical contact with anyone. That was his little extrovert, he smiled tenderly. And ruefully.

 

No, this was Viggo's lust, and his alone. He continued rubbing his hands up and down his back, massaging his shoulders, then back down to dance across the elastic of his waistband. He tried not to stare at Orlando's ass, but the firm globes drew his eyes like a lodestone. It took all Viggo had not to slip his fingers under the damp fabric to the smooth skin beneath.

 

"Vig, you have the hands of a god. I've missed this. You should have auditioned for Troy. You would have been a shoo-in, and we could be together like this every day again."

 

"Right..."

 

"Viggo I know I don't tell you this enough but you are my absolute best friend. I mean I love all you blokes, but you are the one I wholeheartedly cannot live without. I don’t care if I never talk to the rest of the lads…”

 

Viggo laughed uncomfortably at Orlando's brutal honesty.

 

"...But you...I have to hear your voice every day."

 

Viggo's heart gave a squeeze, and he smiled down at Orlando's back. “You mean a lot to me, too, Orli.”

 

Orlando continued, "Billy may have been the first person I met in New Zealand but you were my first everything else."

 

Viggo cringed. Not everything, he thought. He began to imagine what might have been if one lonely night he had crawled into Orlando's bed. Orli would be lying naked as Viggo pulled back the sheets, his willing body allowing Viggo to grip those hips as he pulled him back onto his cock, easing his way inside that ripe, sweet ass. Orlando would writhe and moan, his face contorted in the throes of passion.

 

Viggo's trunks were now tight again due to his perverted thoughts.

 

“...you showed me how to respect acting, and that it was not just a way to meet girls and make money. You were there for me when I was lonely, bored, homesick. No one can ever take that away from us; those are memories that are ours and ours alone."

 

As Orlando's voice penetrated his thoughts, Viggo grew angry with himself for daydreaming about seducing Orlando when the kid was getting all sentimental. Viggo had looked after him and had become the biggest influence in his life. He needed to be careful not to take advantage of this situation. But if anyone else thought of his young one that way, he'd hack them up, burn the remains, and scatter the ashes to the four winds.

 

Orlando skin was now dry and protected from those pesky UV rays. Viggo admired the shine the lotion added to him, reminding him of some sort of glittering jeweled idol. He forced himself to remove his hands from Orlando's body, and when Orli felt the cessation of contact, he turned over to face Viggo and propped himself up on one elbow.

 

His eyes were full of sincerity when he spoke again. “Seriously, Viggo, I would have been lost without you. Ta for being so easy and patient with me. I love you for that.” He sat up and threw his arms around Viggo like he'd done a million times. Only this time Viggo felt guilty for returning the embrace as he closed his arms around Orlando's back. He closed his eyes at the sweet kiss that Orlando planted on his cheek.

 

Then Orlando grabbed the bottle of sunscreen and happily began applying it to Viggo's chest.

“Your turn,” he said cheerfully. His thumbs brushed Viggo's nipples, sending a jolt of electricity through him.

 

Viggo grabbed Orlando's wrist, "No!"

 

Orlando jumped, confused, and Viggo immediately lowered his tone.

 

"I just mean I can do that myself. Thanks anyway.”

 

“What about your back?” Orlando asked.

 

“I don't burn really, and it's near sunset anyway.”

 

Orlando shrugged. "Okay, well still come join us in the tidepools. You have to be on my team for water polo," he urged, then hopped up and ran to get the beach ball.

 

Lovely, he thought as he finished rubbing in the sunscreen Orlando had begun to apply. Now he was to play water polo, a game Orlando loved and insisted on being super-physical with. Orlando would be hanging off his back like he was riding a horse, and his legs would be clasped around him-

 

Enough. He'd been tested enough today, thank you, and he was through. He was going to power through this little ordeal, then go home and take a sleeping pill and go to sleep and very definitely not dream of Orlando.

 

As much as he hated to say it, Viggo was more than a little relieved Orlando would be gone for three months. Of course, that meant three months away from his beautiful smile, three months away from his warm presence, three months away from pulling Viggo out of whatever kind of slump he was in. And he was so good at it, his innate sunny disposition shining on Viggo's tendency to brood. Of course it also meant three months away from temptation, three months away from wanting to lay him on his back, and three months away from wanting go so deep inside him he wouldn't be able to walk for a week.

 

Orlando shouted Viggo out of his thoughts, "Vigggg, c'mon!"

 

Viggo shook his head and rose, dusting the sand off his legs. "Three months," he muttered to himself, and he ran to join the boys.

 

*

 

The moon had set, the fire died down to a few glowing embers, and all the songs had been sung. Billy's voice, so sweet and clear, had given them all pleasure, and his songs evoked a wistfulness in everyone for a time not so long ago when the high green mountains of New Zealand greeted them every morning. Their goodbyes and been heartfelt and sad, and Viggo knew Orlando was right; this was the last time they'd all be together like this. A twinge of maudlin ran through him, and he had to keep himself from running his hand through Orlando's hair to comfort himself.

Orlando, who once again occupied the passenger seat of his jeep, was fighting sleep. He'd had more than one margarita, and the young man had never been able to hold his liquor.

 

“It was a good day,” Orlando murmured sleepily, his eyes closed, his head resting against the seat. “I'll miss everyone so much.”

 

“So will I,” Viggo agreed.

 

“I don't want it to be over. I want today to last forever. I don't want us to get back to your house, where I'll have to drive away from you. Malta is so far away, Viggo. What will I do without you there?”

 

“We'll Skype,” Viggo said. “And call. And email.”

 

“It's not the same,” Orlando said. He turned his head toward Viggo and opened his eyes. The expression in them was the same one on the cover of the magazine he'd gotten today: hot and sensual.

 

Viggo quickly looked away, not wanting a repeat of his red-light performance from the afternoon.

 

Orlando fell asleep then, and the rest of the drive passed in silence.

 

When Viggo pulled back up to his house some half hour later, he cut the engine and turned to his sleeping companion. The streetlights outside cast an ethereal glow on the car. Orlando was haloed in the deeply shadowed darkness, and Viggo realized how symbolic this moment was of their relationship. Orlando was quite literally his light in the darkness, unattainable but utterly, utterly beautiful. His presence both pained and eased Viggo.

 

Orlando slept on in the quiet cocoon of the night-shrouded car. He was a heavy sleeper, Viggo remembered. He'd played quite a few pranks on sleeping little Orli in his day, and gotten his comeuppance in kind.

Now, though, he took his chance to marvel at the work of art that was Orlando Bloom. Finally able to openly stare, he drank in the sight of him, committing every angle and shadow to memory. For the rest of his life, he would remember this moment.

 

“I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice,” he whispered, quoting the poem he'd read earlier. “Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure, like the wheatfield, the sun, the poppy, and the water.”

 

He could kiss Orlando's lips right now. For a few sweet moments, he'd feel their softness against his, and maybe, just maybe, Orlando would awaken, find Viggo hovering over him, and smile in welcome. His arms would snake around his neck and shoulders, and he would lift against him, holding him close, laughing, crying with joy-

 

Or maybe he would awaken, find Viggo hovering over him, and panic, reach for the door, sprint to his car, drive away leaving his surfboard and beach gear. He'd never hear from Orlando again.

He felt like a teenager again. God, even when he'd been a teenager, he'd never been this unsure of himself.

Before he could do anything he would regret, he gently shook Orlando awake. Dark eyes opened and found his gaze, and Orli smiled sleepily as he came to. An image of Orlando, naked, waking up in bed next to him, gracing him with that same smile, swam into Viggo's head before he ruthlessly chased it away.

 

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” he said. “We're here.”

 

Orlando stretched and groaned, somehow filling the space of the car completely. Viggo laughed. “Have a good nap?”

 

“Mmm. Still a bit buzzed,” he murmured.

 

Viggo had been afraid of that. Thankfully, Orlando had practically a full wardrobe and his own toothbrush at Viggo's. Somehow, over the last few months, the young englishman had practically moved in, and Viggo hadn't minded in the least.

 

“All right, bud. Up the stairs and into your room.”

 

“Don't want to move,” Orlando replied.

 

“You'll regret trying to sleep in the car,” Viggo replied. He got out of the car and went around to the passenger side to open the door. “Come on, Orli,” he said, and reached across him to unbuckle his seat belt. The smell of sun and sand and Orlando wafted to his nostrils, and Viggo gritted his teeth as he pulled him from the vehicle.

 

Orlando threw an arm around Viggo's neck, letting Viggo take most of his weight. Side by side, they made their way up the steps, past the front door, and up the flight of stairs to the spare bedroom that Orlando had claimed as his own.

 

Orlando flopped onto the bed, and as Viggo relieved him of his sandals, he wriggled out of his tee shirt, then began to pull his shorts off.

 

He was bare underneath, and Viggo panicked. With a short, “good night,” he turned from Orlando and quickly left the room, shutting the door firmly behind him. Without stopping, he made his way to his own room, and once he'd closed and locked that door, he quickly shed his own clothes, turned on his shower, and stood under the hot spray, shaking like a leaf.

 

Relief and frustration coursed through him. He'd just come perilously close to turning Orlando over onto his belly and thrusting deep inside him; it had been such a near thing that it scared him. His control was very fragile around Orlando, and he was fervently glad the boy was leaving tomorrow afternoon and they'd be apart for three months. He needed that time to build up an immunity to Orlando. Once he'd had time to come to terms with this new...thing, he'd be able to control himself more, and things could more or less continue the way they always had been.

For now, though, he thought as his hand clasped around his once again swollen cock, for now this would have to be his first line of defense.

 

The first release didn't take long. The second, either. He was able to take his time on the third, and by the time he'd stiffened and for the fourth time decorated his bathroom tile in white, the water had begun to turn cold.

 

Before he could catch a chill, Viggo turned the shower off and quickly dried himself. Donning a pair of light cotton pajama bottoms, Viggo sighed deeply as he slid between his sheets. He was exhausted. When he'd been in New Zealand, filming those endless night battle scenes, he would practically crawl into his bed, groaning at the soreness of his muscles, so drained of energy he could barely make a coherent thought before his head hit the pillow.

That was nothing to what he felt after today.

 

“Good night, Orlando,” he murmured to the empty room. He fell into unconsciousness a moment later.

 

**********

 

The smell of bacon greeted Viggo's nose as he woke. The sun was already high and light flooded the room, and Viggo turned his head to look at the clock. 11:17am. Great. He'd already lost half the day. As he stretched, he heard a voice from downstairs.

 

“Viggo, it's time to get up! I have to leave soon, and breakfast is ready!”

 

With a rush, Viggo remembered the events of yesterday. He sighed. The night's sleep had helped clear his head though, and it was only a few more hours he had to make it through before he could relax. Orlando would be safely half a world away, and Viggo would be free of his burden for a while. Maybe he should get a girlfriend. Take his mind off things-

 

“Oi! Viggo!”

 

Viggo smiled and rolled out of bed. He grabbed a tee shirt and pulled it over his head as he made his way downstairs.

 

“You know, drill sergeants could take lessons from you. I don't think I've ever met anyone who knows how to project as well as you do,” he said in greeting.

 

“Hey, it's the first lesson any actor learns. Good nearly-noon to you, too. You missed breakfast, actually, so I suppose this is elevensies. You like your bacon crispy, don't you? Americans are so weird.”

 

Orlando slid a full English breakfast in front of him, complete with bangers, eggs, bacon, an English muffin and a grilled tomato.

 

“I didn't have bangers in my fridge,” Viggo said. He fell to, suddenly starving, while Orlando attacked his own breakfast with similar fervor.

 

“I went to Safeway.”

“When did you wake up?”

 

“Seven-thirty. I had time to go home, pick up my bags, make two phone calls, and pick up a few groceries. I was surprised you were still asleep when I got back.”

 

“I need more sleep than you. I'm old.”

 

“Viggo, you're not old,” Orlando insisted. “Now, eat so you can pack.”

 

Viggo nodded and ate two more bites before, “Pack?”

 

“Beanie called this morning. They wanted him on an earlier flight, so I have an extra ticket. I want you to go with me.” Before Viggo could even formulate the ramifications of that, Orlando took a deep breath and plunged on.

 

“I know you don't have anything going on right now and Malta's amazing, and we haven't been separated for more than a few days since we met and I just couldn't take the thought of you not being around and I thought you could come - just for a week, you know, just 'til I get settled in and meet everyone, since I've never met Brad or Rose or anyone and I'm nervous and you keep me grounded when I'm nervous, and I've already cleaned out your refrigerator and frozen everything and I would have started packing your suitcases but your door was locked which was weird, but I thought I'd make breakfast, I mean elevensies, and surprise you and please, please, please come with me? It'll be brilliant, I know it will. Sightseeing in Malta, the bazaars, the marketplaces, the art, the beaches. Please, Viggo. Come with me.”

 

Oh, Orlando, Viggo thought. You don't know what you're asking me.

 

He swallowed hard, but he'd never been able to refuse Orlando anything, and he was even less capable of it now.

 

He sighed and sliced into his grilled tomato.

“What time is our flight?” he asked, much to Orlando's everlasting delight.

 

*****

 

The twenty-one-hour flight to the tiny island of Malta should have taken forever, but Orlando's incessant chattering kept Viggo occupied. Orli talked so passionately about anything and everything, from his mum's fish and chips recipe to the nature of stardust to the brilliance of Chekov to the ding someone had put in his car in the parking lot of a karaoke bar in Kent. Finally, though, about twelve hours in, Orlando exhausted himself and fell asleep on Viggo's shoulder. Viggo smiled down at him and pulled his blanket over his shoulders before he, too, was overtaken by sleep. As his eyes closed, he felt a contentment he hadn't expected, and he tenderly rested his cheek on the top of Orlando's head.

 

*

 

The jolt of the plane landing didn't even wake them.

 

A smiling flight attendant gently shook Viggo awake, and he blinked blearily and looked around to get his bearings. The plane was completely empty of passengers except for the two of them. After he thanked the stewardess, he turned to Orlando, who hadn't moved since falling asleep next to him. Viggo had to stop himself from burying his face in Orli's hair; the only thing that kept him from doing so was the woman busily retrieving their carry-on luggage.

 

The limo ride to their hotel went by in a surreal haze of bright city lights shining in the darkness. Orlando was completely awake, having just slept for nearly twelve hours, and Viggo had to admit he felt fairly well-rested despite having been on a plane for the last day.

 

“What time is it?” Orlando asked. His window was open, letting in the spiced air of the city, and he leaned into the wind, inhaling the fragrances of the early morning air.

 

“Near five,” Viggo answered.

 

“Great!” Orlando said. “Let's get breakfast! I'm starving.”

 

Viggo laughed affectionately. “You're always hungry. I think you must be part Hobbit.”

 

“I think my Great Aunt Tessie twice removed on my father's side was one.”

 

“That explains it, then.”

 

“There!” Orlando shouted. “Can we stop there, please?”

 

The driver pulled over, and Orlando jumped out of the car. He dashed over the cobblestone streets and stopped short in front of a bakery, from which the most enticing aroma wafted. Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger filled the air, and by the time Viggo joined Orlando at the door, his stomach was reminding him very strongly that he had not eaten in quite some time.

It was the merciful nature of bakeries to open early. Within minutes, they were seated with a plate of still-warm imqaret, a sweet. Flaky and light, the dates lending it just enough sweetness, it was the perfect way to begin the day in Malta.

 

And what a day it was.

 

They saw sights, shopped the marketplaces, watched skilled street performers. They toured downtown Mdina and found a cafe for lunch, then moved on like regular tourists. The ancient ruins of temples beckoned, and they even made a stop at the beach to gaze at the beautiful lagoon at Comino.

 

Orlando seemed to be having the time of his life, and Viggo took pictures at every opportunity.

 

***

 

Their interrupted limousine ride finally made its way to its final destination that evening. The stars were beginning to emerge like diamonds in a sea of dark blue velvet, and the air was sweet and warm. Viggo liked Malta immensely.

 

After Orlando checked in, Viggo approached the concierge and took out his wallet.

“I'd also like a room, please,” he said.

 

“Oi!” Orlando interrupted. “No way. We're bunking.”

 

Viggo glanced at the wide-eyed man behind the counter, then lifted his eyes to Orlando's.

 

“Orli, I think I'd better just get my own roo-” he began.

 

“We roomed for two years in New Zealand, we can room here.” Orlando was adamant, but Viggo, who had almost managed to forget his growing attraction to Orlando, shook his head.

 

“I'm awfully tired, Orli. Let's just room separately.” Avoiding Orlando's disappointed expression, Viggo turned once again to the concierge.

 

“I'm sorry sir,” the man said apologetically. “But we are booked up. The film production took every available room. Our hotel is quite small, though luxurious. But I have nothing for you.”

Viggo sighed. “Thanks anyway,” he said, and turned back to a gleeful Orlando.

 

“Your stuff goes on the cart with mine,” he chirped, grabbing Viggo's overnight and chucking it onto the luggage trolley with everything else.

 

Once they were inside the almost opulent room overlooking the ocean, Orlando began unpacking, hanging up his clothes and tucking them away in the bureau provided. Viggo watched for a moment before beginning the same ritual, and the sight of his clothes hanging next to Orlando's made him feel as if two puzzle pieces had just clicked together. The rightness of it left him a bit breathless, and he grabbed his shaving kit and assorted toiletries and headed to the bathroom to hide his sudden swell of emotions.

 

He spread out his toiletries neatly, then decided to brush his teeth since they were turning in soon.

 

Orlando, again with no sense of personal boundaries, strode in and bent to turn the shower faucet on.

 

“I need a shower,” he said. “I'm getting a bit ripe, after the last two days we had.”

 

Viggo, mouth full of toothpaste, could not answer.

 

And then Orlando began stripping.

 

Oh, dear god. Viggo spit and swished in record time. The bathroom was beginning to fill with steam as he left without a word. A glance in the mirror on his way out showed Orlando's reflection, and Viggo instantly regretted looking. Damn, Orlando's ass was fine.

 

The sight of the giant four-poster bed was too much for him to deal with just then, and he opened the doors to the balcony, letting in the now-cool breeze and the smell of the night.

The tide was coming in, being pulled by the moon as it shone down on the water. The roar of the ocean filled his ears, and he calmed somewhat, reassured that no matter what one was going through at the time, the world kept turning. His life, his problems, were insignificant compared to the vast expanse of the ocean. It neither knew nor cared about Viggo. For a few minutes, he managed a sort of meditative state, free of thoughts of Orlando and the longing aching he carried with him.

 

“It's so beautiful here,” Viggo heard from behind him. Orlando, fresh and clean with damp, towel-dried hair, put his arm around Viggo's waist. Viggo forced a smile and turned to Orlando.

Who was only wearing a towel.

 

Goddamn it. Why had he agreed to this?

 

“Shower free?” he asked, trying not to let his panic show.

 

“No, four Hobbits came in while you weren't looking and usurped it from me,” Orlando replied flippantly.

 

“Har. I need a shower, too, you know. I also have the stink.”

 

“No, you don't,” Orlando disagreed. He leaned over to buried his nose in Viggo's neck. “You always smell amazing. Like autumn, crisp and clean.”

 

“Well, right now, I smell like sweat, dust, and B.O.”

 

With that, he pulled away from Orlando's embrace, grabbed his pajama bottoms, and locked himself in the shower.

 

A half hour later, refreshed, released (twice), and clean, Viggo emerged from the bathroom into a darkened room.

 

Orlando had already gone to bed, and Viggo was privately grateful that he didn't have to face him again. Silently, he tiptoed across the moonlit room and pulled back the covers on his side of the bed.

 

“'Night, Vig,” Orlando murmured sleepily in the darkness.

 

Viggo could make out his silhouette quite clearly in the moonlight. The pale beams danced across his body like silver, and Viggo mentally began composing a new painting of this very image.

“'Night, Orli,” he finally answered.

 

***

 

The next week went by in a whirlwind of activity. Orlando, of course, had film things he had to do, but still managed to spend as much time as he could with Viggo. The younger man met his costars, and Viggo found he rather liked Brad, but took an instant disliking to Eric.

 

Something about that man irritated the shit out of him, and Viggo knew precisely what that something was: Eric wanted Orlando, and was not shy about sharing it. Even Sean commented on it, saying, “That man looks at Orlando like Orlando's a glass of water, and he's thirsty.”

Viggo grunted noncommittally in response, unable to find words. He only began yet another sketch of the breathtaking architecture of the city, pointedly ignoring the way the Aussie unabashedly flirted with a clueless Orlando.

 

The next day, Viggo woke Orlando before dawn and said, “There's this tiny little town I want to see. Let's go.”

 

Orlando blinked, his thinking not quite yet up to speed.

 

“Right,” he said drowsily. “Let me call Sean.”

 

“No,” Viggo said, a little too quickly. “Let's just the two of us go.”

 

Orlando's eyes brightened. “All right, then,” he smiled.

 

When Viggo directed their driver to the airport, Orlando turned to Viggo quizzically.

Viggo smiled. “It's a couple thousand miles. We're flying.”

 

The three-hour flight didn't seem to take long on the private jet Viggo had chartered, and the breakfast they served on board was nothing short of delicious. Upon landing, the steward opened the door, and the rich, clean scent of roses assailed them.

 

“Welcome to Kelaa-des-Mgouna,” a flight attendant said in perfect English. “We are most proud of our Rose Festival. Please, go and enjoy. There is music and dancing, and the best food in all of Morocco.”

 

The streets of the tiny town were pink with the petals from millions upon millions of perfect roses. Everyone smiled, and Viggo's camera came out to play. Each shot captured Orlando, who threw himself into the festivities wholeheartedly.

 

Beautiful Orlando was of course recognized, even in this tiny town, and pulled onto a parade float as it made its way through the city. He was crowned with a wreath of roses and given petals to throw.

 

Sometime later, he and Viggo drank rosewine and ate candied roses, then decided they were really hungry and were offered plates of meat delicately seasoned with, of course, rose petals.

Music came from every corner, and he and Orlando danced with the abandon of two people unaware of anyone else. Orlando laughed and threw his arms around Viggo. He kissed Viggo's cheeks eyes and nose, and planted a longer-than-usual kiss on his mouth. Viggo pulled away laughingly; not even his longing for Orlando could bring him down today.

 

The fresh, sweet fragrance of roses was everywhere, and for the rest of his life, Viggo would associate the aroma of those flowers with this day of joy, this day of love.

 

The festival lasted well into the night, and the two of them walked the brightly lit streets, drunk on rosewine and each other. Laden with rosewater and oil and various other rose-themed gifts, they finally grew tired and found a tiny hotel that had just had a cancellation.

 

Viggo practically carried Orlando up the stairs and dropped him on the narrow double bed.

“I'm so drunk!” Orlando slurred. “But I could still dance if you asked me to!”

 

Viggo smiled and removed Orlando's shoes. It was almost exactly the same scene they had enacted nearly a week ago, only this time Viggo was actually okay. The day had been so beautiful, he just couldn't stress himself out. And anyway, he was pretty damn drunk himself.

He shrugged out of his linen shirt and flopped onto the bed next to Orlando.

“You could dance, but I'm not sure you could stay upright.”

 

Orlando laughed and turned, throwing a leg over Viggo's stomach.

 

“Then I'll have to dance horizontally,” he murmured. “Dance with me, Viggo.”

Okay, now, Viggo could stress himself out.

 

“You're liable to fall off the bed,” he replied jokingly.

 

“Not if you hold onto me.” Orlando reached across Viggo's chest. “Hold me, Vig,” he murmured into Viggo's ear.

 

Something in Viggo broke, and he turned to Orlando, his control gone. Blindly, his mouth found Orlando's in the dark room, and the kiss he took was deep and passionate.

 

It was the greatest moment of his life for a little while, but oh, god, he couldn't do this. He broke away gently, trying not to scare his young elven love.

 

“I'm sorry, Orli,” he began. He couldn't formulate a lie to tell him, couldn't figure out at all what to say.

 

A soft, drunken snore answered him.

 

Viggo froze, then sighed, resting his head back on his pillow as relief and disappointment vied for supremacy in his gut.

 

“I have to go,” he whispered. The music of the festival, dimmed by the thick walls of the building, lulled him to an uneasy sleep.

****

 

They woke late the next morning, both groggy and dehydrated, and Viggo watched Orlando carefully for any signs he was aware of Viggo's indiscretion the night before. He gave none, though, and Viggo carefully breathed a deep sigh.

 

He expected the aftermath of the festival to be full of dirty, trodden-on rose petals and decay, but surprisingly, the roses were every bit as beautiful today as they were yesterday. Viggo wished he could take the entire town home with him. When he'd first heard of the annual rose festival, he knew Orlando would love it, and was fiercely glad they'd come.

 

When they arrived back at their hotel in Malta, it was mid-afternoon. Eric and Sean and a new arrival greeted them at the cafe in the lobby.

 

“Billy!” Orlando cried, darting over for a bear-hug.

 

“Where have you two been?” Billy asked. “When I got here yesterday, you were nowhere to be found.”

 

“Oh, Billy, we just came from this tiny little town in an oasis, and it was full to bursting of roses! It was brilliant, mate!” And Orlando proceeded to talk a mile a minute, regaling them all with the events of yesterday. Viggo noticed Eric's expression grown darker with each passing word.

 

“So you blokes went off to some festival and didn't invite us?” he drawled in his thick Australian accent.

 

Orlando fell silent, then said, “Well-”

 

“It's was sort of a last-minute thing,” Viggo interrupted. “The plane left early, and we didn't have time to wake everyone.” Never mind that Viggo had planned this days ago.

 

Eric was clearly not satisfied with this answer, but Orlando plowed on, talking about the food, the drinks, and he opened his bags and showed them the gifts they had bought everyone.

 

“Smell!” he crowed, spraying everyone in the face with rosewater. They all flinched at the unexpected spritz, but had to agree, however, that the fragrance was pleasing.

 

“We're gonna go drop our stuff off now,” Orlando said. “Meet you back here in fifteen for drinks?”

 

Sean nodded. “I'll get us a table, yeah?”

 

Dinner was wonderful with Billy there, but Eric's tenseness was almost palpable. Viggo wondered if there was going to soon be a day when the two of them came to blows.

 

***

 

Billy explained that he'd had some time off and had decided to check out Malta, since he'd never been and had always wanted to. Since he had friends there at this particular time, it seemed like a good idea, and Viggo was grateful for his presence.

 

On a day when Orlando and Sean were off with all the other actors beginning to rehearse and being fitted for costumes, Billy and Viggo decided to check out the Saint Anton Palace and the lovely botanical gardens in residence there. After the tour, they got some lunch at a delightful beachside cafe.

 

“I'm glad I was able to get a ticket home on the same flight as yours tomorrow,” Billy said. “That flight over was interminable. It does mean I've had a shorter stay, but once filming gets started, I won't see much of anyone anyway.”

 

“I'm glad you're flying with me, too,” Viggo said.

 

“Well,” Billy laughed. “I'm probably not as comfortable to sleep on.”

 

Viggo's head jerked around and he stared at Billy.

 

“What does that mean?” he asked lowly.

 

“You mean you haven't seen it?” Billy asked in disbelief. He pulled out his slick new cell phone and flipped it open, then tapped a button for the Internet.

 

“You have Internet on your phone?” Viggo asked curiously.

 

“Yeah, it's new,” Billy replied absently, his brow furrowed in concentration. His face brightened as he found what he was looking for, then turned to phone to show Viggo.

 

There, in full color on the tiny screen, was a picture of him and Orlando, fast asleep on each other's shoulders.

 

“Someone must have taken it while you two were sleeping on the plane last week. Cute, isn't it?”

Viggo's breath caught as he stared at the photo. “Yeah,” he said weakly. “Cute.”

 

*****

 

“No.”

“Orlando-”

“Stay.”

“Orli-”

“Please stay?” Orlando pouted.

Viggo sighed. “Orlando, you knew it was only for a week. I have to get home. I have a dented car to get repaired, a son to see, and a lot of scripts to read through. This has been wonderful-”

“Then stay,” the young man interrupted.

 

“I wish I could,” Viggo said. “But I've got to go. My flight leaves late tonight, and you have an early day on the set tomorrow, so I'm going to bunk in with Billy for the evening.”

 

“What? No!”

“You need sleep,” Viggo insisted.

“I'm twenty-six. I don't need sleep.”

“Orli-”

“Viggo, please stay until you leave.”

Viggo laughed. “That makes no sense.”

Orlando let out an exasperated breath. “Oh, you know what I mean!”

“Yes, I suppose I do, but I don't like goodbyes, and this one will be...” Viggo paused, unable to find the words to describe what being separated from Orlando felt like. He felt like his skin was being flayed from the bone.

 

“I know,” Orlando said quietly. “I don't want you to leave me,” he said.

 

Viggo's chest constricted. “It's only for a little while,” he replied.

 

“It's an eternity,” Orlando said shortly.

 

Viggo had to agree.

 

He took Orlando in his arms and held him close, and Orli held on as hard as he could.

 

“Be safe, filthy human,” he whispered.

 

“And you,” Viggo answered.

 

*

 

Billy looked up from one of the menus a flight attendant had given them. Viggo was ignoring his, instead staring out the window at the puffy clouds beneath them. Billy loved flying, and was even happier to have Viggo as a companion. He'd been wanting to talk to Viggo about a subject that was clearly keeping the man preoccupied. Billy knew Viggo would be resistant to speaking of it, but the young Scotsman was determined to suss the whole thing out. He needed to, not only because he loved his friends dearly, but because if they could clear up their misunderstandings, perhaps Billy could have his happy ending, too.

 

"You're in love with him, aren't you?" he said without preamble.

 

Viggo's head snapped around, and wary sort of ache entered his eyes. Billy had just struck at the heart of a secret he'd vowed to always keep hidden.

 

"Don't bother denying it, Viggo; I see the way you look at him. " Billy was silent a moment, and his eyes grew distant. "I know that look. It's the same way I look at Dominic."

 

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

 

Orlando came and dropped into Sean and Brad's trailer like he did every morning before Sean would go off to do his scenes.

 

"Guess what Eric just asked me?"

 

Sean glanced up from that day's script rewrites. "The way he's been following you 'round, I'd wager it was for a blow job."

 

Orlando raised an eyebrow and scoffed at the idea, but broke a laugh at the joke nevertheless.

 

“No! He asked if Viggo was my boyfriend. As if.” Orlando laughed, but Sean could see the underlying pain beneath the mirth. He'd watched Orlando and Viggo for years, and they were both lying to themselves.

 

“Probably just trying to make sure the path was clear before making his move.”

 

Orlando rolled his eyes. “You're hilarious.”

 

“Do you fancy Viggo?” Sean asked point blank.

 

Orlando's eyes widened for a mere fraction of a second before his face became impassive. “Of course not,” he said unconvincingly. “He’s like my brother, and I know he sees me in the same light.”

 

He took the script from Sean and began to study it intently. The paper rattled as he struggled to keep his hands steady. Sean's heart gave a squeeze at the tension so obviously bottled up within Orlando's graceful frame.

 

Sean took the script back from Orlando and tilted the young man's face up to his gaze. “But is that what you want?”

 

Tears flooded those wide, guileless eyes, and Orlando stood abruptly, angrily dashing them away.

 

“What does it matter?” he muttered, staring out the window of the trailer toward the beach and the endless blue water. “I've done everything I can to show him how I feel, but he's not interested, plain and simple.”

 

The anguish Orlando dealt with every day came roiling to the surface for a moment, but he doggedly tamped it down, just as he'd always done. “I'll get over it eventually. I'm English. We don't feel things.”

 

Sean snorted. “You know that's a lie. We English feel things so deeply we're overwhelmed by them. We're just not subject to histrionics like those bloody Italians.”

 

Orlando smiled sadly, his eyes still on the restless water outside. “I know, Sean. But if I tell myself I don't feel it, if I do that long enough...perhaps it'll be true one day.”

 

“You've loved him from the moment you met him, haven't you.”

 

Orlando's entire body trembled as he tightly gripped the windowsill.

 

“...Yes,” he finally admitted, his voice barely above a whisper.

 

Sean didn't have to tell him that if Orlando had loved him that long, there was no getting over it. And to anyone else, it would seem that Orlando accepted this, but Sean knew better. He rose to stand next to his young friend.

 

With one hand comfortingly on Orlando's shoulder, he followed Orlando's gaze and said, “You know, Viggo...he’s as deep as the ocean. If you want him, Orli, you have to dive in; there are no half measures with him. He traveled all the way here to be with you, simply because you asked him.”

 

“He came because it was convenient. You had to leave early, so I had the extra ticket.”

Sean laughed softly. “Why do you think I took an earlier flight?”

 

Orlando's gaze snapped to Sean's. “I thought you said they needed you to come earlier. Something about a costume fitting gone awry.”

 

“I'm an actor, Orlando. I'm quite good at improvisation. But that's not the point, mate. The point is, when you asked him to come, he did. Dropped everything to be here with you. I'll wager it didn't even take that much persuading on your part, did it?”

 

Orlando didn't reply immediately.

 

“He never even said no, did he? Probably didn't occur to him.” Sean let that soak in for a moment, then smiled knowingly. “I also happen to know that since a certain interview he can’t get you out of his head.”

 

Orlando straightened. “What interview?” he asked, his eyes narrowed in intensity.

“Oh, you know, the one in neon lights where he admitted how sexy he thinks you are.”

Orlando scoffed in disbelief. “Please. He called me a sex symbol due to the way I'm portrayed in the media. That does not mean he wants to get me into bed.”

 

“Really. Then why does he shiver whenever you touch him now? My god, before we left L.A., you tried to put sunscreen on him and he practically jumped out of his skin.”

 

“Yeah, because I was getting obvious! I shouldn't have done that, rubbing all over his chest, flicking his nipples with my thumbs, telling him how much I love him. He knew what I was doing, and he was trying to save me the embarrassment of public rejection.”

 

Sean was startled into laughter. “You flicked his nipples? My god, it's a wonder he didn't nail you right there in the sand.”

 

“Well, frankly, I was hoping he would! Instead, he just pushed me away, like I was a bothersome child.”

 

“Or, he pushed you away because he felt like a dirty old man, and was full of guilt for lusting after you.”

 

Hope lit Orlando's eyes, but just as quickly died. He shook his head. “You're wrong, Sean. I had thought maybe things had changed the day we went to the rose festival, even dreamed that he kissed me, but the next morning he was as distant as ever. I appreciate your trying to cheer me up, but-”

 

“There was no hiding the tent in his swimtrunks that day at the beach, and he's not nearly as good at hiding the doe-eyed expression he aims at you as he thinks he is. Now, stop being blind.”

 

Orlando opened his mouth to retort, but started to really think about Viggo’s actions toward him since that day. Maybe it was time to put away fear and doubt. Maybe Sean was right. Maybe Viggo had finally realized he wasn't a child anymore. Could Viggo have finally removed him from the friend zone?

 

After an earth-tilting minute wherein all of Orlando's perceptions of reality had been turned arse over teakettle, Orlando turned back to face Sean.

 

“Oh my God, Beanie,” he let out in a joyous bubble of laughter. “Viggo thinks I’m sexy!”

 

***

 

TBC

Chapter Text

                                                  

BETA'D BY: Moon_Of_Io (AO3)

                 greenprism (LJ)

                                                                                                                  *~*~*

As promised, Viggo and Orlando called each other faithfully every two to three days. When they spoke, it was sometimes only because one of them thought of something funny and had to share, if only for a minute, while the other was in between scenes or about to go to dinner. Through this method they stayed abreast of each other’s' lives, though nothing momentous ever happened to either of them.

 

Often, though, they would talk for hours on end, the rambling, winding conversations they'd always had; they covered subjects ranging from the possible question to the answer “42” to whether or not they thought Tammy Faye Bakker had any real eyelashes left at all.

Though they stayed more or less in constant contact, the break from seeing Orlando did do Viggo some good. He’d stopped lying in bed during the wee hours of the morning dreaming about the night he'd held Orlando so close to him in the darkness, his mouth covering his elven love's while the rich fragrance of roses wafted in from the open window as festival revelers still danced and sang in the cool desert night.

 

The startling clarity with which he'd remembered the taste and the feel of Orlando's kiss had begun to fade somewhat. He thought. It was good, spending time apart from him. As long as he always knew where Orlando was and what he was doing, Viggo was content with their mutual independence.

 

Except on the rare occasion when Orlando didn't pick up the phone, or worse, when Orli didn't call Viggo when he'd said he would. That's when Viggo was reduced to a sixteen-year-old waiting in the kitchen for his crush to call him to accept his invitation to the prom. A call, by the way, that had never come. Cynthia Torres had broken his heart, but Orlando would never be so callous, Viggo told himself. If he didn't call or answer his phone, there was a good reason.

His head knew this.

 

He couldn't seem to communicate it to his blood pressure.

 

Orlando had said he would call at 1pm, 9 o'clock Malta time, plenty of time to have dinner and get back to his house, change into his Harry Potter pajamas (Griffindor, of course), brush his teeth, and call Viggo.

 

At 1:15pm, Viggo sent a text to Orlando:

 

On lunch. Call any time.

 

Viggo snorted. “Lunch.” Right. Like Viggo hadn't cleared his entire damned afternoon for Orlando's call.

 

After 45 grueling minutes during which Viggo thought he'd showed more than admirable self-control, he called Orlando.

 

Who did not answer.

Where the hell was he? He was always home by 9pm during the week when he was filming, unless he had a night shoot, but Viggo had Orlando's filming schedule memorized, and he wasn't due for a night shoot for another two weeks.

 

He paced restlessly around his house for another hour.

 

It didn't take much for him to start imagining all sorts of things that might have happened: maybe Orlando had seen a kitten on the side of the road and stopped, only to find out the kitten was bait for a nefarious kidnapping trap so some Moroccan drug lords could ransom him for money. Surely Malta had drug lords. He should check into that.

 

Or maybe he'd been in a terrible accident while shooting today. Or on the way home; Orlando was a terrible driver. Viggo winced at the memory of the last day Orlando had been in L.A. and Viggo had nearly plowed into that old lady. God, what if Orlando had run over a cow or something?

 

The worst possibility by far, however, was the thought of a tall, ridiculously chiseled Australian actor taking him out for a drink. Orlando couldn't hold his liquor to save his life, and no doubt Eric knew that by now and would take full advantage of it. He could just see Eric insisting on driving Orlando home, ostensibly to keep him safe, but really just to get himself into Orlando's house. He'd walk a swaying and singing Orli to the front porch, where the young man would no doubt be unable to figure out how his door worked, and Eric would help him unlock and open said door. He'd follow Orlando inside, then make his move. Buttons would pop off, zippers would come down, and Orlando would groan when Eric pressed him down onto the sofa and thrust himself into the tight sheath of Orlando's body-

 

The sound of tearing fabric brought Viggo out of his reverie, and he looked down in dull surprise at his clenched fist, where he held a wad of very expensive upholstery from his couch. He'd torn a sizeable hole in the arm while his imagination fed him nightmare fuel. His heart pounded in his ears, and it was very hard to breathe.

 

Man, he needed to get a grip.

 

Why didn't he call?

 

“Call, dammit!” Viggo barked at his phone.

And, to his utter surprise, his phone obeyed.

 

The red which clouded his vision began to fade, and he eagerly flipped his phone open. Without thinking, he demanded, “Orli, where have you been.”

 

He winced at his tone. He hadn't meant to snap like that.

 

Viggo heard Orlando's indrawn breath falter for a moment before replying softly, “I'm sorry, Viggo. The shoot ran over. I only just got home. I haven't even changed into my jimjams because I couldn't wait to hear your voice. And I didn't call in the car because you'd disapprove of my talking on the phone while driving.”

 

He closed his eyes. Orli was sweet and patient and young, and he hadn't deserved that. And Orlando didn't belong to him-

 

The hell he didn't.

 

Viggo sighed and tucked that last thought away before speaking again.

 

“Oh, Orli, you shouldn't be apologizing, I should. I know how crazy filming can be, and I know shoots run overtime. I just...you're half a world away, and if you were in trouble, I can't get to you. I need to know you're all right.”

 

Orlando's chuckle made Viggo's scalp tingle. “Viggo, Beanie is here. He looks after me. How much trouble do you think he'll let me get into?”

 

Viggo didn't reply immediately, instead thinking, that's not the kind of trouble I'm referring to.

“Yes,” he finally said once he realized Orlando was waiting for an answer, “but you don't have all that much filming with him; most of your scenes are with-”

 

He cut himself off, but it was too late. Orlando was already laughing.

 

“Do you actually mean Eric?”

 

Viggo's nostrils flared. He couldn't deny how threatened he felt by the Australian with the godlike body and chiseled features. Orlando was young and impressionable, and he doubted it would take much for Eric to bring Orli to his knees.

 

But Orlando was still talking, and Viggo struggled to tune in.

 

“...me and Eric? No chance. Eric's a method actor, and trust me, he's taken his role as older brother very seriously, both off screen and on. You do not have to worry about Eric.”

Oh, but he did. He did have to worry, because Viggo had once felt like an older brother to Orlando, as well, but things changed. Not only that, but when Viggo had been in Malta, the attention Eric had paid Orlando was not at all brotherly outside the Ozarks.

 

Eager to change the subject, Viggo conceded. “Whatever you say, Orli. Now, how was shooting today? Why did you run overtime?”

 

Viggo could hear Orlando roll his eyes. “We ran over because Brad Arsing Pitt is a bloody great blonde, musclebound, non-deoderant wearing perfectionist. A hundred takes, he must've done. Rose about nearly impaled him.”

 

Viggo laughed, his anxiety eased now that Orlando was talking to him. Now that he knew everything was all right, he could listen and converse. Several times during the conversation, he caught his hand wandering southerly, and he'd pointedly remove it from the erection that inevitably sprang up when he heard Orlando's voice.

 

They spoke for a while longer, but it was late in Malta, and Viggo could hear the fatigue in Orlando's voice. Gently, he said “All right, Orli. It's getting late and I know you're tired. I think it's time I said good night.”

 

“No, no, I'm fine,” Orlando insisted. It might have been convincing if it hadn't been followed by a particularly long and loud yawn.

 

“Bedtime for you, friend.”

 

“Just a few minutes longer! You haven't told me about your day!”

 

Viggo laughed. “I'm still in the middle of it. Go to sleep, Orli. Call me when you wake up and I'll tell you all about it, all right?”

 

“Promise?”

 

“Have I ever not done something I'd told you I'd do?”

 

He could hear Orlando's smile. “No. Okay, human. But I'm calling you before I'm even awake, and I expect adventures and excitement in the tale you tell.”

 

“Oh, Orli, you know nothing's an adventure without you here.”

 

Orlando laughed then. “Fine. Make something up, then. Just be there when I call.”

 

“I'll be waiting. Good night, Elf.”

 

“Good night, Human.”

 

“Sleep well, Orli.”

 

“I will,” he said sleepily, already trailing off. “Love you.”

 

Viggo's breath stopped and he nearly choked on his reply. “Love you, too.”

 

After he hung up, he sighed and stared blankly at the silent walls of his room. His eyes met his wall calendar and he rose.

 

The words, “Elf Boy's Return” were scrawled in Orlando's boyish handwriting. The day before they'd flown to Malta, Orlando had taken a red marker and written the words on the date, saying,

 

“So you won't forget to pick me up at the airport.”

Viggo ran his finger across the writing as if caressing Orlando's skin. “I miss you, Orli,” he murmured. “Come home soon.”

 

*

 

After a jog and a shower, Viggo met Billy for dinner. He hadn't had lunch, since he hadn't been hungry for the torturous hour he'd been waiting for Orlando to call. Now, however, he was starving and ready for a big steak. After the waiter had taken their order, Billy leaned in and said,

 

“So, Orli's to be home soon, yeah?”

 

Viggo tried for nonchalance and failed miserably.

 

“Not for another few weeks,” he said dejectedly. “And Dom? His plane lands in a few hours, doesn't it?”

 

This time Billy was the one failing miserably at covering his excitement and dread. “Yes. I'm gonna do it this time, Viggo.”

 

“You're gonna tell him.”

 

“Yes. I need him to know I love him.”

 

“Good. You've been hemming and hawing over this for weeks.”

 

“Oh, am I now, Mister Big Brother I-Don't-Have-Those-Kinds-of-Feelings-For-Young-And-Beautiful-Elf-Princes.”

 

Viggo loftily remained silent.

 

“And anyway,” Billy continued, “it's not as if I'm being some brave knight. I'm fully planning on downing a bottle of scotch before I do it.”

 

Viggo laughed. "Oh c'mon, Bill. Dommie's crazy about you. It's obvious to everyone.”

 

“Everyone but me,” Billy said quietly. “I can't read that boy, you know. He escapes me.”

 

“Maybe that's part of why we want someone,” Viggo replied. “They challenge us.”

 

“Well, Dom certainly does that,” Billy conceded. “And to top it off, he's been off lifting weights. Have you seen him lately? If I thought I couldn't attract his attention before, I probably have no chance now. Maybe I shouldn't say anything.”

 

“No backpedaling,” Viggo said.

 

“Speak for yourself,” Billy retorted fretfully.

Viggo would have been amused by Billy's nervousness if he weren't so closely guarding a secret of his own. And unlike Billy, he could never tell Orlando the nature of his true feelings. He'd probably lose him forever. No, it was better this way. Viggo sighed.

 

“I understand, Billy,” he murmured. “Dominic is young.”

 

“Like Orlando.”

 

“But mature.”

 

“Like Orlando.”

Viggo cocked an eye at that. “Billy, you and I both know Orlando is twenty-six and acts like it. Dom acts like he's forty-five.”

 

Billy acknowledged this with a sheepish nod.

 

“Anyway, you never saw the way Dom looked at you because he never did it when you'd catch him, but when we were filming...Do you remember when you broke your finger surfing?”

 

Billy gave him a look that clearly said, “Duh,” and held out his hand, revealing the permanent crook in the affected finger.

 

“No, mate,” he said sarcastically to Viggo. “Forgot all about it. Never happened. Have no idea to what you are referring.”

 

Viggo let that pass. “When Dom found out you'd been injured; he beat himself up for a week because he hadn't been there with you.”

 

“There's nothing he could have done,” Billy scoffed. “And anyway, he felt bad when you had a ruddy black eye for a month from your own surfing accident. You had to have all your scenes filmed in profile for weeks!”

 

“He felt bad, yes, but not the gut-wrenching guilt he felt when you bwoke your wittle finguw,” Viggo said, pronouncing the last few words with a baby-lisp.

 

“I don't know what you're talking about.”

 

“I didn't get chef-catered meals every night for a week after that surfboard smacked me in the face,” Viggo replied.

 

“He had that man come and cook for me because it was hard for me to do anything with my hand! You can still cook with a black eye!”

 

“Oh, come off it, Billy! You could have sent out for pizza or some sort of takeout! Having a chef come into your home every night is something a wooer would do.”

 

Billy snorted. “A 'wooer?' What century are you in, lad?”

 

“The twenty-first, smartass. He was wooing you!”

 

“He was seventeen!”

 

“Exactly. Seventeen, never been in love, wants to make an impression on an older man-”

 

“Oh, older. Thanks.”

 

“-so he sends in a chef, which he can hardly afford at that time, by the way-”

“He benefited, too! He ate the food with me!”

“Yeah. Like a date. I didn't see the two of you inviting anyone else to enjoy.”

“He could only afford so much food!”

“Stop making excuses, Billy!” Viggo said, exasperated. “Dom loves you, bar none. You've strung him along long enough. It's go time.”

Billy stared at him in silence, defeated.

 

“All right,” he said finally. “I won't back down.”

 

“That's right. Be like Tom Petty.”

 

Billy snorted, and at that moment the waiter brought their food.

 

“Well,” Billy said after thanking the server, “what about you?”

 

Viggo didn't have to ask what Billy meant.

 

“My problem is entirely different,” he said quietly, slicing into his rare steak.

 

“Is it, now,” Billy rejoined smugly. He was enjoying this, now the tables were turned. “Everyone knows how the two of you feel about each other.”

 

“Do they.”

 

“It was hard to miss the tent you were pitching in your swimtrunks that last day we were all together at the beach.”

 

Viggo choked on his steak and coughed loudly at Billy's words.

 

“Oh, a reaction,” Billy said calmly. “Y'alright, mate? Need a slap on the back? Going to live, are we?” he asked, forking a bite of swordfish into his mouth.

 

“You're so funny,” Viggo retorted once he'd gotten his breath back.

 

“I know,” Billy answered smoothly. “It's a gift, you know. Me and Cary Grant. Brilliant timing, we have.”

 

Right on cue, Viggo's phone rang.

 

“Oooh, I wonder who that could possibly be,” Billy murmured into his wineglass. A twinkle in his eye belied his facade of ennui.

And of course, it was Orlando, calling as he promised he would. Viggo hesitated.

 

“Answer it, mate. You know it'll gnaw at you if you don't.”

There was no point in denying it, not to Billy.

 

He flipped the phone open and said, “Elf boy! Awake yet?”

 

On the other end, Orlando stretched and gave one of those great, groany-clicky yawns. Viggo imagined him sprawled across the bed, the moonlight haloing him in silver, for it was still very early in the morning in Malta. Oh, how he wished he was in that bed, too.

 

“Barely. I woke to have a slash and couldn't wait to call. Needed to hear your voice.”

Billy obviously heard this and grinned so wide the Cheshire cat would have been envious. Viggo scowled at him warningly.

 

“You've only been asleep a few hours, Orli,” Viggo said, watching Billy's reactions. “You should go back to sleep.”

 

“Sing to me,” Orlando said sleepily.

Billy's eyes bulged and he nearly fell out of his chair in silent laughter.

 

“Orli, I can't-”

 

“Sing me the song of Beren and Lúthien,” he interrupted.

It was the song Aragorn had sung to the hobbits on Weathertop, and the members of the Fellowship had all taken the time to learn it in both Elvish and English, simply because they loved it. Also, it was a song that had nine verses and ran for almost ten minutes.

 

“I'm at dinner with Billy-”

 

“Brilliant! He can sing it, too!”

Viggo's eyebrow shot up.

 

“We're in a restaurant, and it's a very long song-”

 

“Please,” he implored.

 

Viggo sighed. “One verse,” he said.

 

“Five,” was the immediate reply.

 

“Two,” Viggo hedged. Billy still hadn't recovered from his laughing fit.

 

“Three. Three verses. Start when winter's passed.”

 

Viggo hesitated, then looked at Billy, who smiled and shrugged. Why not?

And placing the phone between them on the table, he began to sing softly, with Billy coming in on a harmony in his sweet voice:

 

When winter passed, she came again,

  And her song released the sudden spring,

Like rising lark, and falling rain,

  And melting water bubbling.

He saw the elven-flowers spring

  About her feet, and healed again

He longed by her to dance and sing

  Upon the grass untroubling.

 

Again she fled, but swift he came.

  Tinгviel! Tinгviel!

He called her by her elvish name;

  And there she halted listening.

One moment stood she, and a spell

  His voice laid on her: Beren came,

And doom fell on Tinгviel

  That in his arms lay glistening.

 

As Beren looked into her eyes

  Within the shadows of her hair,

The trembling starlight of the skies

  He saw there mirrored shimmering.

Tinгviel the elven-fair,

  Immortal maiden elven-wise,

About him cast her shadowy hair

  And arms like silver glimmering.

 

When they finished, the restaurant patrons all applauded. Unbeknownst to Viggo and his companion, everyone had fallen silent to listen to them sing. Viggo flushed and glanced at Billy, who was smiling graciously and thanking their “audience.”

After the slight kerfluffle died down, Viggo picked the phone back up and said, “Now go to sleep, friend. You have a big day tomorrow.”

A soft snore met his ear. Softly, he laughed, then pressed the “end” button and closed his phone.

Billy was still wearing that grin, and Viggo had to give a rueful chuckle.

“I'm incapable of saying no to him,” he admitted.

“I know it. He's lucky.”

Viggo just shook his head and finished his dinner in silence.

Suddenly, Billy snorted.

“What?” Viggo asked.

“Needed to hear your voice,” Billy snickered.

“Shut up.”

“Can I call you later if I need to hear your voice?”

“Shut. Up.”

“But what if I need to hear your-”

“Billy!”

“All right, all right,” Billy laughed, his hands raised in obeisance. “I'll stop.” He reached for the dessert menu. “I wonder if they have tiramisu,” he murmured.

 

After they parted and Viggo drove home, he took a swim in his pool to work off the rich chocolate ganache he'd had after his steak. Just as he was stepping out of the water, his mobile went off, and Viggo dropped his towel in the pool in his haste to answer. Without looking, he flipped the jingling phone open.

 

“Hello, Elf Boy. Sleep well?”

 

“Well, I do like elves, thanks, but hobbits are really more my speed,” a scottish lilt said in answer. “I was just calling because I really needed to hear your voice-”

 

“Billy-”

 

“Sing to me!”

 

“I will cut you.”

 

He hung up to the sound of the young man's laughter.

 

Truthfully, he couldn't help but give a chuckle, himself. The whole situation was a bit absurd, but Orlando was an unusual person, and social norms simply didn't apply to him. Sing him a lullaby? Okay, will do. Viggo honestly couldn't deny him anything.

 

After he'd showered, he followed an instinct he hadn't had in a while and entered his art studio. The aroma of blank canvas and oil paints beckoned him, and he selected a large canvas and placed it on an easel. Without thinking, he reached for colors of moonlight and shadow. There was no plan, no sketch, no forethought at all as he began painting.

 

He was deep in work, an almost meditative state when Orlando called. He kept his hands-free set nearby when he was painting, often enjoying a conversation while creating art. He donned the headset and answered.

 

“Good morning, Filthy Human,” Orlando said by way of greeting.

 

“Good evening, Elf Boy,” Viggo answered, and a tension he'd been feeling all day melted away.

They talked for an hour or so while Orlando got ready for his day and Viggo painted. When Orlando regretfully had to hang up, they said their goodbyes, and Viggo continued to paint deep into the night.

 

*

 

It was late morning the next day when his phone woke him. Without checking the caller-ID, he answered.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Viggo, I need to speak with you.”

Viggo groaned.

 

“Har-har, Billy. It's getting old now. Orlando just-”

 

“No, mate, this isn't about that. Please. I'm on my way over.”

 

Hurriedly, Viggo pushed the sleep from his brain and sat up. Billy did actually sound a bit off-kilter.

 

“All right, friend. I'll see you soon.”

 

After he hung up, he dressed quickly, then headed downstairs and started a pot of turkish coffee, really more to have something to do than anything else. It had just come to boil on the stove when Billy knocked on his front door. Viggo turned the burner off and rushed to answer it.

One look at Billy's tear-streaked face was enough to tell him what had happened.

“Oh, god, Billy. What did Dom say to you?”

 

Billy stood on his front stoop and wordlessly shook his head, his eyes filling with tears once more. Viggo pulled him inside and sat him down.

 

After a few minutes during which Billy sat with his face in his hands, he took a deep breath and seemed to gather his wits about him. When he spoke, his voice was low and shaky.

 

“H-her name is Evangeline. She's lovely, apparently. Evi, she's called. Dom calls her 'monkey.' Evidently she's fond of climbing trees.”

 

Unable to sit still any longer, Billy stood and began to pace, words falling out of his mouth uncontrollably.

 

“He got off the plane last night, and he was glowing and tan and muscular and mature and beautiful and so...happy...and I thought maybe you were right, that he'd wanted me and was happy to be home and with me and I was gathering my courage to say the things I needed to, when he grabbed me in a big bear hug there at baggage claim where I said I'd meet him, and no sooner did he put me down than he reached for his mobile and said, 'I told my girlfriend I'd call her when I've landed safely. Won't be a minute.' And then proceeded to practically make love to her in the middle of the bloody airport, meanwhile I'm grabbing his bags from the conveyor belt, struggling with them like an idiot, and at the same time trying to find the bits of my heart that had gone flying when it hit the floor and shattered...”

 

He sort of trailed off there and stood shaking for a moment before his legs gave out. Viggo caught him before he fell to his knees and led him back to the sofa.

 

“I'm a bloody fool, Viggo,” Billy breathed. “I'm torn between relief that I'd never told him anything and so he never really rejected me, and being angry that I'd never told him anything and now it's too late. I'll never know.”

 

Viggo didn't know what to say. He'd been so sure that Dom would reciprocate Billy's feelings, and like Billy, he was completely unprepared for this turn of events. He ached for his friend.

 

“Billy, I'm so sorry. But you know, maybe this is just a short-term thing, a distraction for a while-”

 

Billy was already shaking his head. “He's completely smitten. He's in love. And he doesn't do short-term, he's told me himself. No, he's in this one for the long haul.”

“What are you going to do?” Viggo asked.

 

Billy looked at him bleakly. “What I've always done,” he shrugged helplessly. “Be his friend. Love him. Try to forget.” His eyes hardened. “But if this bird breaks his heart, she'll have me to deal with.”

 

Then he crumpled once more, and Viggo held him while he cried.

 *

A few weeks later, Viggo was shopping for a bouquet of sunflowers in an effort to cheer Billy up before heading to the airport to collect Orlando. His flight was due close to midnight, just a few hours. He was thrumming with anticipation, both excitement and dread warring for supremacy in his head. Excitement won, of course, as it always did when Orlando was involved.

A text notification emitted from his phone, and he picked it up to read it.

 

Got an earlier flight! Made it home. Am unpacking. So knackered.

 

Viggo's heart plummeted. They had agreed that Viggo would come pick Orli up at the airport. Billy's recent experience with Dominic had deeply affected Viggo; after what he had affectionately dubbed the Lullaby Dinner, he'd been feeling more sanguine that perhaps he and Orlando might make a go of it. But young people needed young people to be with, and Dominic's new relationship with a younger woman only served to reinforce that to Viggo.

 

And now, Orlando hadn't even wanted Viggo to pick him up at the airport. Oh, lord, what if Eric had succeeded in seducing his young elf? Or maybe that German girl...what was her name? Diane? She was chosen to play Helen of Troy for a reason. Perhaps she and Orlando had begun a romance.

 

The thought made Viggo's throat tighten to the point where it was difficult to breathe. At the same time, he wanted to be sick.

His phone chirped again.

 

Come over. Can't wait any longer to see you.

 

Viggo hesitated. It was getting dark, and Orlando was bound to be jet-lagged, and he'd just said how tired he was-

 

I know I said I was knackered, but come anyway. I've brought you a present.

 

He had already exited the store and was unlocking his car when Orlando texted him again.

 

I take it by your silence that you're on your way. Door'll be open. Just head to the back. See you soon, Human.

 

Twenty minutes later, Viggo pulled up to Orlando's gate and keyed in the familiar pass-code. The gate swung open silently, and he drove through it, watching in his rearview to make sure it closed behind him.

 

While he followed the long drive to Orlando's house, he cautioned himself to be nonchalant but welcoming, not too eager, don't hold Orlando too close or too long, don't pull his mouth up to yours, don't tear his clothes off and push him down to the floor-

Stop it, Viggo, he told himself internally. Get a grip.

 

Orlando's house drew near, and he parked his car outside the front door, then let himself in. Orlando really shouldn't leave that door unlocked. Viggo had a key, and Orlando had a couple of stalkers who probably wouldn't bat an eye and entering the house uninvited.

 

The house was dark except for a light coming from the back patio. Viggo headed toward it, ready to reprimand Orlando for being so careless with his security.

 

But any authoritative tone Viggo was about to muster up got lost in the haze of steam emitting from Orlando's hot tub. Lit candles surrounded it, and in the middle Orlando relaxed, his eyes closed. The underwater light revealed to Viggo, indeed to the whole world, that Orlando had eschewed any sort of clothing, preferring instead to let the hot water caress every inch of his bare skin.

 

Unable to move, Viggo stared helplessly at the figure before him, somehow at once angelic and seductive. More than that, though, the months in Malta had changed him a bit, shaped him into something new, but Viggo could not yet put his finger on what it was, precisely. He seemed more...knowing, more mature.

 

He was just as beautiful as ever, only his hair was longer, much shinier, curlier, his perfect elven skin bronzed and smoothed by the Greek sun. It wasn't fair, really. Viggo didn't think Orlando should be real.

 

Viggo had nearly convinced himself that this crushing lust he'd had for Orli was all in his head, that it would turn to dust and fade with time. But here he was, in Orlando's presence no more than a moment and it all came flooding back.

 

He wondered if he could back away without Orlando's noticing. The young elf prince hadn't opened his eyes; no doubt he was unaware of Viggo's presence. Slowly, Viggo took one silent step back.

 

“And where the bloody hell do you think you're going?” Orlando said without opening his eyes.

Viggo nearly jumped out at his skin.

Panicked, he searched for a reply.

 

Orlando didn't wait, though, just turned his endless dark eyes on Viggo at that moment. They pierced him clean through, and Viggo had the eerie sensation that Orlando was looking into his soul.

 

His perfect prince stretched luxuriously, then spoke: “The plane ride was murder. I've tight muscles I didn't even know I had. The water's lovely. Come join me.”

 

Absolutely not a thing that would be happening. Orlando's usual effect on Viggo's body was in full-force, and no way was he going to reveal that.

 

He shook himself out of his reverie and cleared his throat.

 

“Oh, um...I don't have any swim trunks with me,” he said somewhat lamely.

Orlando laughed.

 

“Since when do you wear swim trunks at home?”

 

“I'm not at home.”

 

“Yes, you are,” Orlando said. “This is my home, and so it's yours.”

 

Viggo's heart gave a squeeze at the sentiment, but he nonetheless held his ground. He absolutely could not get in that hot tub in his current physical state.

 

Viggo smiled crookedly. “I'm glad you're home, Orli. But it's getting late, and I know you'll crash at any second. I just came by to look in on you. I'd better go. Don't fall asleep in there. It isn't safe.”

 

With that, he began to step back, aiming for the glass sliding door to Orlando's living room.

But his elven love had other ideas, and the young man erupted from the water with a giant splash.

 

“You only just got here!”

 

Viggo turned and nearly fell to his knees at the sight of a wet, nude Orlando standing before him. No mortal could actually look like this. He'd been doing some weight training, it seemed, and his chest and abdominals were so perfectly formed that Michaelangelo's David would be put to shame. But what hung below...Viggo's mouth started watering.

 

Orlando had never been graced with an overabundance of modesty, and Viggo hadn't really minded until the last few months. Now, though, it was just too much.

 

“Jesus, Orli, get a towel!” he said, much more sternly that he'd intended.

 

Orlando just laughed dismissively. “Since when do you care?” he asked, but casually walked over to a wooden Adirondack and snagged a folded towel from the seat. Viggo tried to look away, he really did, but Orlando's body was like a lodestone. Slowly, Orli began to dry himself off, lingering over his skin as if deliberately trying to drive Viggo insane.

It was working.

 

Once dry, Orlando donned a pair of soft gym shorts, then turned, and without warning, launched himself at Viggo.

 

“I'm home, I'm home, and you're here, you're here!”

 

Then came the kisses, but Viggo had steeled himself for this moment, indeed, counted on it. Patiently, he endured Orlando's affection, and did his best to return his own without betraying the raging erection he had from simply being in Orlando's presence.

 

Orlando grabbed Viggo's hand and led him inside to the kitchen where a pineapple sat on the counter. Orlando pulled a cutting board from a cupboard, a knife from the butcher's block, and set Viggo in front of everything. Wordlessly, Viggo took the chef's knife and began peeling the pineapple while Orlando loaded ice, coconut milk, pineapple juice and a disproportionate amount of rum into his trusty Vitamix.

 

Orlando never admitted it to anyone but Viggo, but piña coladas were his favorite cocktail, and Viggo smiled to himself as he expertly cored and sliced the now-peeled pineapple.

 

Two hurricane glasses were subsequently filled, garnished with slices of the fruit from Viggo's cutting board, and decorated with a paper umbrella (“Just humor me, okay?” Orlando had asked). A brightly-colored bendy straw was the final touch, and Orlando placed one drink into Viggo's hand, and raised the other.

 

“To being where one belongs,” he said.

 

Viggo raised his glass in return. “Welcome home, Orli,” he murmured, then took a sip of the frozen concoction. Orlando made the best damn piña colada in the free world. He never measured, just chucked all the ingredients in the blender and let it rip. Somehow, every time, the sweet, crisp cocktail was perfect, and Viggo would always associate its taste with Orlando.

 

They laughed and chattered, well, mainly Orlando chattered, telling him all about his flight and any bits of news he'd forgotten to include in their almost-daily conversations while he'd been away. Before Viggo knew it, they were both on their third drink, and Viggo knew he'd better slow down. Rum had a way of sneaking up on him, and Orlando would probably be fall-down blasted in a matter of minutes.

 

“Come on, then,” Orlando said suddenly, taking Viggo by the wrist and pulling him toward the living room. The recessed lighting was dim and cozy. Orlando installed Viggo in the overstuffed loveseat, then disappeared into his bedroom.

 

Moments later, he came out carrying a large object wrapped in linen dyed with a traditional Greek blue and white pattern. The unique shape of the gift gave away its nature, and Viggo's eyes lit with interest as he took it from Orlando.

 

Anticipation infused his smile as he slowly and carefully unwrapped the fabric from around a hardened leather case. Sliding to the floor, he gently lay the object down and opened the two latches holding the case locked.

 

When he opened the case, the most beautifully carved instrument Viggo had ever seen lay before him.

 

“You got me a bouzouki,” he breathed, running his fingers over the strings lovingly. The resulting sound woke a desire in him to create, and he slowly lifted the instrument from its case and cradled it tenderly.

 

Experimentally, he plucked a few strings, drawing on his guitar-playing skills to help him out. A bouzouki was not unlike a guitar, but the differences were enough that Viggo looked forward to the challenge of mastering it. After a few minutes, he smiled and placed the bouzouki back into its case, leaving it open so he could admire the patterning its creator had so painstakingly inlaid in mother of pearl.

 

Orlando had joined him on the carpet, sitting on his heels and watching Viggo's avidity.

“Do you like it?” he asked as Viggo once again stroked its smooth wood.

Viggo's smile was like starlight.

“Orlando, I love it. This is the best gift you've ever given me. Thank you,” he said, leaning in for a hug.

Orlando crowed in delight and tackled him, landing in Viggo's lap and wrapping his limbs around him like a vine.

 

“I knew you'd like it! I knew it! I can't wait until you've learnt it so I can listen to you play!” He kissed Viggo soundly then, and every alarm, siren, bell, and whistle went off inside Viggo.

Orlando was all legs and arms, and too late, Viggo realized the three piña coladas he'd had were making things dangerous. He hadn't pushed Orlando away, nor did he have any wish to, though some part of his mind knew he should.

 

“I love watching you play,” Orli said into his ear while he held Viggo close. “It's your hands. They're so graceful, so skilled. I've seen you wield a sword, climb a tree, paint scenes of such beauty it makes my heart hurt, calm frightened horses, and offer help to those who need it.” Orlando pressed Viggo closer. “But when you play music...when you draw sounds into the air and turn it gold...it touches my soul, Viggo. I'm never the same.”

 

Viggo's eyes closed as he listened to the litany of words Orlando murmured. He could feel Orlando's hands pressed into his back, drifting lower, and he shifted his hips subtly. He knew Orlando probably felt his now-painful erection, but between the beautiful words and his swimming head, he just couldn't care. His heart was full.

 

They were silent for a time, locked into an intimate moment neither wanted to break. Viggo knew, though, that it couldn't last forever, and he also knew Orlando was jet-lagged, probably drunk, and needed to go to sleep.

 

Instead, though, Viggo held on to the thought that Orlando might turn his head and capture Viggo's mouth with his, that he would invite Viggo to press him down onto the soft carpet and pull his shorts down and off. He'd ease his way inside Orlando's tight bottom, then proceed to fuck him so hard he'd likely acquire a second-degree rugburn. And oh...when Orlando came...Viggo's breathing hitched audibly. He wanted to bring Orlando to orgasm, to watch his face, hear the sounds he made, god, he wanted Orlando to lose control, to need him...

Enough.

 

He couldn't live in this fantasy world any longer.

 

Gently, he began to extricate himself from Orlando's embrace, but Orlando, in a drunk and sleepy haze, only clung on harder, not unlike a spider monkey.

 

“Orli, it's getting late,” he said.

 

“Yes,” Orlando agreed. “We should go to bed.”

 

Jesus fucking christ, the kid didn't know what he was saying.

 

“Come on,” Viggo said. “We need to get up.”

 

“Noooo,” Orlando moaned, and tightened his grip around Viggo's neck. He leaned back heavily, pulling Viggo down on top of him. “Let's just sleep here. The carpet's rather soft, and you're so warm,” Orlando continued, rubbing his cheek along Viggo's.

 

Viggo was fairly certain he needed to go to the hospital, because his lungs were obviously malfunctioning. He couldn't draw air into them, and his head felt like it might actually pop off at any moment.

 

Instead, he forced a laugh and lifted himself up and off the floor, away from Orlando's heat. Orlando pouted in disappointment, but took Viggo's proffered hand.

 

“Off to bed with you, now, young elf,” Viggo said gruffly as he pulled Orlando to his feet. “Or you'll be lagging your jets for weeks. Also, I'm fairly certain you're at least two and a half sheets to the wind, if not a full three.”

 

“Oh, yeah? And what about you? You've had just as much to drink as me. You shouldn't be driving.”

 

“I'll be fine, Orli. I metabolize alcohol faster than average.”

 

“Right. You're staying the night.”

 

Nope. Not with temptation ten feet away behind an unlocked door. Nope-itty nope.

 

“Thank you for the bouzouki. I truly love it,” he said, kneeling to secure the instrument into its case. The fabric that was wrapped around it, he folded carefully and draped over his arm. “Call me tomorrow when you wake up.”

 

“Viggo, stay. I'll make you a full English in the morning. We haven't had that since the morning we left for Malta! And I'll sleep better knowing you're near. Come on, mate, I must insist. You're far too inebriated to drive tonight.”

 

“At least I can say 'inebriated' without slurring it.”

 

“No, you can't,” Orlando laughed.

 

Ruefully, Viggo had to admit that his young love was right. He sighed.

 

“All right, Orli, I'll stay. But there had better be bangers and bubble and squeak in the morning, and I expect grill marks to be on that tomato.”

 

Orlando laughed. “Deal!” he said, holding out his hand. Viggo shook it firmly to seal the deal, and Orlando used it to pull him into another embrace.

 

Viggo knew the way to the guest room, as he had used it on many occasions previous. In fact, he was fairly certain a toothbrush and his favorite soap was in the bathroom already.

 

“Good night, Viggo,” Orlando said, then planted a lingering kiss on his temple, which was secretly Viggo's favorite place to be kissed. “Sleep well, my king.”

 

Something in Orlando's tone made Viggo's breath catch.

 

“Good night, Orli. I'm so glad you're home.”

 

Orlando sighed into the darkness of his room as he closed the door behind him. A bit disappointed, he flopped onto his bed and sank into his pillows.

 

“Well,” he said softly to himself. “He's going to be harder to crack than I thought.”

If it hadn't been for the frankly almost frighteningly large hard-on pressing against Orlando's arse, he'd almost doubt Viggo's true feelings on the situation.

 

He stretched like a cat. No matter. Viggo would run scared for a while. Orlando would give him some space, let him regain a measure of comfort within their relationship.

 

But not forever. No, his king needed a prince, and Orlando was tired of waiting. It was time to take action. Orlando smiled to himself. No one knew Viggo like he did. He knew exactly what to do.

 

****


TBC

 

 

Chapter Text

                                                 

 

As it turned out, however, Orlando didn't have much time at all to put his plan into action, at least not for the next few months. Viggo had accepted a part in another film, and, in usual Viggo fashion, had thrown himself into the preparations for it with every fibre of his being.

He started spending weeks at a time at his ranch up in Idaho, riding horses day and night, probably camping in a leather tent he'd cured himself and eating what he hunted, bloody method actor that he was.

 

Orlando supposed he'd known they couldn't stay as close as they'd been in New Zealand, that Viggo had a life outside the two of them. And things were always different when Viggo was working. All of this, Orlando knew, but a gulf had formed between them ever since he'd come home from Malta. The ease was gone, and though he called Viggo every day, and Viggo took his calls, he also ignored calls, something he'd never before done. Orlando had the sneaking suspicion that Viggo was using this Hidalgo film to avoid him.

 

Up with this, Orlando would not put. Yes, it was very noble of Viggo to try to keep their friendship bright and innocent; he was older, and absolutely yes, Orlando had a serious case of hero worship for the man. But oh, couldn't he see? Orlando was made for Viggo.

So, he booked a flight.

 

Upon landing in Spokane at quarter to three in the afternoon, he rented a Jeep with four-wheel drive and prayed to any and all deities that he could remember the way to Clark Fork. He made the two-hour drive in three hours, only getting lost five times, and stopping twice to get directions.

 

Finally, though, the familiar ranch house loomed ahead, and Orlando breathed a sigh of relief. Truthfully, he hadn't really thought this thing through, and the days were getting shorter, especially this far north. The sun was beginning to set, and he didn't relish the idea of trying to find Viggo in the dark.

 

He knew Viggo wouldn't be in the house, and instead aimed his Jeep at the stables a quarter-mile behind it. He smiled to himself as he saw a cloud of dust, kicked up no doubt, by hoofed feet on hard-packed earth.

 

He parked next to a fence, behind which Viggo stood, brushing a familiar massive brown stallion. Disbelief widened Viggo's eyes, and Orlando cocked a smile.

“Hello, filthy human. Still attached to that horse, I see.”

 

Said horse nickered in recognition and pulled away from Viggo to trot up to Orlando. He stuck his neck over the fence and nudged Orlando under the chin, not very gently.

 

Orlando chuckled and rubbed the stallion's nose. “Hullo, Uraeus,” he crooned lovingly.

The sun graced Viggo's form with a golden halo. Orlando's heart squeezed.

 

“It's nice to see you, too, Viggo,” he said sardonically.

 

Viggo snapped out of his reverie.

“Sorry, Orli, I'm just...surprised to see you!”

 

“Yes, well, you know. If the mountain won't come to Mohammad...” Orlando laughed a bit nervously. Never before would he have thought twice about coming here, but Viggo's distant behavior was making him doubt himself a bit.

 

Sudden inspiration struck him. “Hey, why don't we go for a ride? We still have an hour or so before the sun sets. I haven't been on a horse in ages, and I'm to film yet another epic in Spain soon. I could use the practice.”

 

Viggo relaxed somewhat and agreed. Within minutes, after Orlando had been directed to the bathroom in the stables (it had been a long flight and a long drive, and he desperately needed the facilities), they were mounted on saddled horses and headed for the open range.

 

The surrounding hills were still green and lush, though touched here and there with the golds and oranges of the approaching autumn. Orlando was reminded a bit of their days in New Zealand, back when their friendship was new and simple and easy, though he had always loved Viggo.

“It's beautiful here,” he said. They had just galloped a mile or so before slowing to a walk.

Viggo smiled and tilted his face up to the sun.

 

“It is,” he agreed. “This is where I come when I need to decompress. It's peaceful here.”

 

“I didn't see any staff back at the house.” Orlando was curious as to whether they were alone or not.

 

“There are usually a few people here when I'm gone, you know, to take care of the stables. But I gave them the week off. I don't mind mucking stalls and exercising the horses. I enjoy it, actually.”

 

“Is that what you've been doing all summer? I've barely seen you in nearly two months. I've missed you terribly, you know.”

 

A wistful light entered Viggo's eyes as he looked at Orlando. “I've missed you, too, Orli,” he uttered lowly.

 

Oh, Orli, you don't know the half of it, Viggo thought silently. I miss your smile, the sound of your voice, your smell. The night Orlando had come back from Malta, things had definitely changed. Orli had changed, and Viggo was wholly unprepared for the maturity just a few weeks' separation from him had done for his young elf. It only served to underscore that somehow Viggo was holding him back, keeping him from his full potential.

 

One thing was certain: Orlando needed to learn to live his life without Viggo as a constant influence. He needed to learn to do things for himself, to think critically, to adapt and overcome, and part of that journey was that Viggo needed to butt the hell out. The dynamic of their relationship had always been a mentor/mentee kind of vibe, and that simply didn't work forever.

He also knew Orlando would come to his senses eventually and realize he was simply too old for him. This...thing between them, whatever it was, just wasn't meant to be.

 

They rode on together in companionable silence for a while. The sun, which had already begun to descend when they'd set out on their ride, began to loom lower, and the brilliant oranges and pinks and yellows lit the sky with a beauty that left them both breathless.

 

Cresting a tall hill, they gazed at the valley below them where a tributary of the Clark Fork river wound lazily through the foothills.

 

“We'd better head back soon,” Viggo said. “It gets chilly after dark.”

 

“Let's stop for just a bit,” Orlando said. “Enjoy the view and all that. Plus, I'd like to stretch my legs.”

 

Viggo nodded and dismounted, and Orlando followed suit. Their horses immediately lowered their muzzles to graze on the green grass around them.

 

After a few moments during which both men gathered their thoughts in the warm breeze and the rays of the dying sun, Orlando broke the silence.

 

“Viggo, we need to talk.”

 

Instantly, the bottom dropped out of Viggo's stomach, and he swallowed convulsively.

“What about?” Viggo asked, his voice suddenly hoarse. He cleared it.

 

Orlando, who had been watching Viggo for the past half hour, reached out and turned the man to face him.

 

“Viggo, I think you know,” he said seriously.

 

Viggo stopped breathing. Orlando was so beautiful it hurt, and the sunset made his hair shine like spun glass, and his eyes like the darkest of topaz. Oh, how he wanted him.

They stood facing each other for a moment, then Orlando took his courage in both hands and stepped into Viggo's space. Wrapping his arms around the older man's back, he tilted his face up to Viggo's and captured his lips with his own.

 

Time stood still for a moment. Viggo's heart stopped beating until he realized that this was indeed really happening. Then his brain shut down and his body took over.

His arms, so strong, clasped around Orlando like steel bands. He slanted his head and opened Orlando's mouth with his, taking control of the kiss and tasting him thoroughly. Oh, god, oh, god, the kiss he'd stolen from Orlando in Morocco held nothing to this, not with Orlando squirming against him, drawing his tongue into his mouth and sucking on it ever so lightly.

 

He grunted and buried his hands in Orlando's silk-for-hair and kissed him like a marauder would, no control, only passion and instinct. The blood rushed all at once to his cock, and Orlando felt it rise against him. He moaned into Viggo's mouth and slowly rolled his hips, the friction making them both groan in need.

 

Too late, Viggo's nobility kicked in again, and he realized what he was doing.

More violently than he had intended, the pushed Orlando away from him, breaking the kiss and backing away.

 

“Orli, no,” he said lowly. “This isn't right. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have let it go so far.”

Orlando's eyes widened in disbelief. “Isn't right? How could it not be? Weren't you just here? Didn't you see us light the air on fire?”

 

“I'm too old for you, Orli-”

 

“Has it yet occurred to you, old man, that I am a fully grown adult and capable of making my own decisions? That I've decided what I want, and what I want is you? And you want me, too!”

 

“No-”

 

“Don't you DARE lie to me!” Orlando yelled. Tears of frustration filled his eyes. “You want me! I felt the proof of it pressed up against me, not only just now, but when I got back from Malta, too!”

 

Viggo sighed. “All right, Orli. I won't deny it. I do want you.”

 

Orlando's eyes gleamed. “Then I'm yours,” he said. “That's all you ever had to say. Take me.” He took a step forward, but Viggo stopped him with a gesture.

 

“I'm not done,” he said. “I do want you. You are, after all, built like a young god. You're beautiful, a...sex symbol. But that's all, Orlando. Just a symbol. A relationship between us would never work.”

 

Orlando drew in a breath as he digested what Viggo had said to him.

 

“So, what, you'd just...slake your lust for me and leave it at that? Don't you love me?”

Viggo then gave the greatest and most challenging acting performance of his entire life.

 

“No,” he said with a sad little smile, like he was telling a child they couldn't have a cookie. “Not like that. I care about you-”

 

“Oh, bloody thanks,” Orlando interrupted sarcastically. “I don't believe you. After all the time, all the memories we've shared, the long conversations, the dancing, the singing, all the traveling, the dinners and coffees and everything in between, that meant nothing to you?”

 

Viggo shrugged. “It was a way to pass the time between jobs,” he said. “I don't get to see Henry very often, since he's got school, and you were a lot of fun to be around. But it can't always be like that, Orli. We're not in New Zealand anymore. People grow apart.”

 

Orlando gaped at him. Tears began to fall in earnest down his cheeks, and at that moment, the sun finished its journey under the horizon, leaving them in twilit darkness. A few stars had already begun to glimmer in the purple velvet sky. The temperature began to drop rapidly, and Orlando shivered in the sudden chill. Viggo ached to hold him, but held himself straight and tall.

Then, with a sob of humiliation, Orlando flung himself onto his horse and without another word, galloped back toward the house. Uraeus whinnied in surprise and sidestepped out of Orlando's way.

 

Viggo watched Orlando go in the growing darkness, heard the fading sound of his horse's hooves. Devastation such as he had never known grew in his belly and spread throughout every cell in this body. His knees gave way, and he hit the ground, coming to rest on his hands, shaking uncontrollably. He came dangerously close to being sick, the aching desire for Orli, the sadness, and the loneliness nauseating him.

 

He sank into the cool grass, letting the softness comfort him, then rolled to his back and opened his eyes to the night sky. He could see the pale band of the Milky Way stretch above him toward his house, toward Orlando.

 

“I do love you, Orli,” he said to the sky. “I'm so sorry.” He bid the stars to bring Orlando comfort, then curled up on his side and cried like a little boy.

 

        *~*~*

 

By the time Viggo had gotten Uraeus back to the stables, Orlando's jeep was gone. Orli had dismounted and put Manipura, Viggo's gentle gelding, in the training pen to ensure he wouldn't get lost. The depth of the tire tracks told Viggo he'd floored the accelerator on the jeep to get out of there.

 

Slowly, he led the horses back to the stables, watered them, brushed them and said good night, then made his way in the dark back to his house. Just this morning, he'd enjoyed the peace of the place when he was alone, but now it seemed empty and joyless. He wondered if he would ever sleep again.

 

Weeks went by, and no word from Orlando. Once he'd learned the cast for the movie Orli was filming in Spain, he asked his friend Marton to keep a distant eye on Orlando, and he'd get reports that Orli was doing all right, very focused and methodical in his work. But his usual antics on set were absent, and though he was never less than sweet and polite to cast and crew alike, his vibrant affection was gone.

 

This was a red flag in Viggo's book.

 

Apparently, so it was in Sean's.

 

One night, after a particularly exhausting day of filming, lying next to a horse under a blanket whilst pretending to get swarmed by locusts, his cell phone chirped.

“Hello, Sean,” he answered.

“Viggo Arsing Peter Bloody Mortensen Sodding Junior! What the hell did you do to Orlando?” was the incensed reply on the other end.

 

Viggo took a deep breath. “Sean, let me explain.”

 

“You shut up, you!” Sean interrupted tartly. “Tell me why Marton Csokas is calling me and asking me to come to Spain to cheer up a normally bouyant- indeed, unsinkable as Molly Brown – Orlando! WHAT. HAVE. YOU. DONE.”

 

“I set him free,” Viggo answered.

 

Why would you do such buggeringly idiotic thing?”

 

“Because I love him, Beanie.”

 

“I KNOW THAT. THE ENTIRE FREE BLOODY WORLD KNOWS THAT. THE ONLY PERSON WHO DOESN'T KNOW IT IS THE OBJECT OF YOUR MANKING AFFECTIONS. You've made a cock-up of this, you wanking duffer, and you need to make it right.”

 

“He was too dependent on me, he needed to be free to grow. For whatever reason, I was holding him back.”

 

“You really believe that.” Sean's voice was flat and skeptical.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Really. Holding him back. How, exactly?”

 

Viggo took in a breath and tried to figure out how to phrase his response. “I have this tendency to do things for him.”

 

“Everybody does. It's the effect he has on people.”

 

“Yes, well, I practically carry him around on a down pillow. I want to protect him from everything.”

 

“Including yourself, apparently.”

 

“Yes, if need be.”

 

“You're a loony. Has it occurred to you that Orlando is a grown fecking man and can make his own decisions.”

 

Viggo closed his eyes. “He, uh...he said the exact same thing to me that night.”

 

“What night?”

 

“The night he kissed me and I told him I didn't love him.”

Viggo could hear a repeated pounding sound and knew Sean was beating his head against a hard surface on the other end of the phone.

 

“Don't bruise yourself, Sean.”

 

“Bruise myself. I'll bruise you, you great bloody cacking git. Now I have to bloody fly to Spain to make sure he doesn't do something stupid, like shag Edward Norton.”

Viggo's nostrils flared in quiet rage. “He wouldn't.”

 

“Well, it would serve you right if he did, ya pillock. I'm very put out with you, Viggo. You didn't handle that at all well.”

 

Billy, it would seem, agreed with Sean.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Billy's Scottish accent thickened when he was agitated, Viggo noticed. They were shopping for groceries together at Raley's, as Viggo was going to teach Billy how to make ratatouille during a weekend off from filming.

They had met in the parking lot, and Billy had lasted all of two minutes before his outburst at Viggo, which had obviously been building up for some time. Sean must've called Billy and filled him in.

 

“I set him-”

 

“Oh, yeh, Beanie told me. Ooooh, settin' hem free are we? Yer talking pish, ya bastard. You can piss up mah kilt with that one, ya can. You're jus' runnin' skeered.”

Viggo was fairly certain he got the gist of what Billy was saying.

 

“I'm just trying to let him live his life-”

 

“And why do you have to be absent in it? Eh? Why can't yeh be there weth hem? You're a coward, Viggo Mortensen. A bloody coward. Your one loves you, tells you so, and you tell hem to pess off.”

 

The hurt in Billy's voice tugged Viggo's heart. Dominic was still going strong with Evangeline, and though Billy was dealing better outwardly, Viggo knew he was still torn up about it. He could understand that from Billy's point of view, Viggo had wasted the chance of a lifetime.

 

“Billy-”

 

“So tell me this, then. What are you so afraid of, eh? Afraid he'll find out you're terrible in bed and run away screaming? Afraid he'll find out you're human instead of a god? Afraid that if he doesn't need you anymore, he won't want you?”

 

And there it was. Once again, Billy had struck at the heart and soul of the matter, and just as before, Viggo had no defense against the truth.

 

“You hide behind honor and being noble and all that, but you're really just a wee lad cowering behind those ideals so you can protect that little marshmallow peep you have for a heart, innit?”

 

“You're right.”

 

“Don't you contradict me! I-” Billy stopped short when he actually understood what Viggo had said. “What?”

 

“You're right, Billy.” Viggo absently reached for a few bell peppers and placed them in their shopping cart. “How could I ever be enough for him? I wasn't enough for Christine, and I'm not enough for Orlando.”

 

Billy's answer was succinct: “Horseshit.”

 

They passed a magazine rack strategically placed in the flower section, which was in the middle of the produce section, as is the wont of many grocery stores. Orlando, of course, was splashed across about half of the glossy booklets. Billy picked one up and shook it at Viggo.

 

“Thess is your one, ya plonker. Ya need to fix thess before it's too late.”

 

Viggo shook his head and reached for a shiny dark eggplant.

 

“I think it might already be.”

 

***

 

TBC

Chapter Text

                                                        

After that, Viggo and Billy seemed to enjoy the rest of their afternoon.  The smell of the vegetables simmering together with a few sprigs of thyme was a comfort in the chill that had begun to creep into the autumn air. Billy had relented once he'd gotten his outburst out of his system, in fact he turned almost sympathetic in light of Viggo's admission. He understood that when a person was in love, they did some pretty stupid things.

 

Hidalgo finally wrapped, and Viggo was once more at a loose end for a while. Normally, he'd go to his ranch in Idaho, but that place had such bad memories for him there was no way he'd be able to be there now. He briefly toyed with the idea of flying out to Hawaii, but decided against it. Instead, he spent time with his son, learned to play the bouzouki Orlando had given him, and he painted.

 

Christmas without Orlando was the hardest. The last three years, they'd been together during the holidays, exchanged gifts, gotten drunk, sung carols door-too-door at three o'clock in the morning (much to the annoyance of the residents behind said doors), and laughed like kids.

 

And the nights. God, the nights. Every single night, he woke up sweating, reaching for Orlando in the darkness, knowing his love was there because he'd been there in his dreams. It never got any less devastating when he encountered a damned empty bed.

 

And everything during the day reminded him of Orlando, whether it was a gift he'd given Viggo or a movie poster or a song on the radio.

 

Still silence from Orli. Viggo didn't reach out to him, terrified he wouldn't answer. Instead, Sean told him Orlando was fine, but there was an underlying sadness to everything he did.

 

“It's a bit...Victorian, frankly,” Sean said over coffee one morning after returning from Spain.

 

“He's not exactly wasting away, but there's definitely pining. You shook his confidence.”

 

“That was the exact opposite of my intentions.”

 

“Well, I told you you'd made a cock-up of it, didn't I?”

 

Viggo was silent for a moment. “Has there been any...has he met...” he couldn't bring himself to finish that thought out loud.

 

“Has he met anyone he'd be interested in a romantic way?” Sean finished for him.

Viggo ground his teeth and nodded.

 

“Not anyone new, but apparently Eric Bana was in Malta on a scouting trip for some film about that incident at the 1972 Olympics. Heard Orlando was nearby, and flew over the Tyrrhenian Sea to see him.”

 

Viggo's coffee mug snapped into two pieces just then, and hot coffee splattered all over the table. A few drops hit Sean in the face and he flinched.

 

“I take it that's not something you wanted to hear,” he said wryly, dabbing a napkin gingerly to his cheek.

 

Viggo looked down at his hand, which still held the mug handle he'd snapped off in a fit of rage at the thought of Eric and Orlando. That stupid Aussie would be the death of him, if Viggo didn't kill him first.

 

“When was this?” Viggo whispered.

 

“Last week, Marton reported to me. He didn't tell you?”

Wordlessly, Viggo shook his head.

 

“Probably wise. I'm glad you weren't driving or operating heavy machinery. Look, by all reports, it was perfectly innocent. Well, not on Eric's part. He's still trying, but Orlando was having none of it. I don't think he's moved on from you. You shook up his perception of your relationship when you said you'd never loved him – which, might I add, was a lie-”

 

“I know it.”

 

“- and he's feeling all angsty and unloveable, like one of those Emu children.”

“Emu children?” Viggo repeated, not sure he heard Sean correctly.

 

“Yes, you know...wearing black and moping about all day. I've no idea what emus have to do with it. Maybe they wear feathers or grow sharp talons or something.”

 

Despite himself, Viggo gave a chuckle. “I think you're talking about 'emo' kids.”

 

“Emo? I'm quite sure that's not a word.”

 

“It's short for 'emotional.'”

 

“Well, that makes much more sense, then. Now, I'm done talking about this. The Oscars are coming up, you know, and we need to go find our tuxedos.”

 

Viggo groaned. “God, I hate those red carpet things.”

 

“You should have thought of that before you became a world-famous movie star. Now, come on. Let's finish our coffees and head to Rodeo. I'm thinking of going in all black this year, with maybe a gray tie. Maybe I'll wear some fancy sunglasses, too.”

 

“Add a black duster and you'll look like Neo from The Matrix.”

 

“False. I'll look better than that plank of wood this country has the audacity to call an actor.”

 

“I'll tell Keanu you said that next time I see him.”

 

“You wouldn't.”

 

*

 

Orlando yawned, bleary-eyed and exhausted. He'd been the only die-hard to stay up the night watching the Academy Award broadcast, which had started after two o'clock in the morning in Seville, with the actual ceremony starting at half-past five. All the others had drifted out of the hotel room after The Lord of the Rings had begun winning all the awards, saying what was the point, it would be a sweep anyway.

 

But Orlando was proud and happy to watch, and every time they showed his group in the audience, his heart would skip a beat. Oh, how he wanted to be there with them. Filming was on a three-day holiday, but it wasn't enough time really for Orlando to fly to America and back, though he had very seriously considered it.

 

There was one person who was conspicuously absent, however, and Orlando was caught between frustration and relief that he didn't get to see Viggo.

 

Not that seeing Viggo on the telly was difficult. Orlando's secret stash of Viggo Mortensen films was stacked neatly under his bed, within easy reach when he got lonely in the night. Which, frankly, was often. He still smarted from Viggo's admission of lust but not love, and though it hurt that Viggo didn't want him the way he'd hoped, Orlando still kicked himself for not at least finding out what it was like to spend the night in Viggo's arms. Even if it had been for one night, it would have been a night he would remember always, knowing that Viggo had been his, if only for a little while.

 

Viggo had never called. Orlando had had to stop himself from reaching for his phone to text or call him whenever something made him laugh or cry. It had been nice when Sean was here, but when Orlando probed him about Viggo's feelings, Sean had been evasive, saying it would work itself out.

 

When Eric had come to visit, they'd taken a private yacht around the Alboran sea for a day. It had been nice to forget for a while, be with someone who actually wanted to be around him.

Eric had made his move on the boat during sunset. Orlando had been staring out to the horizon, remembering another sunset months before when he'd kissed Viggo and for a few minutes been in heaven.

 

“Why so glum, mate?” Eric had asked, reaching up to tuck a wayward curl behind Orlando's ear.

Orlando made an effort to smile then. “Nothing at all, Eric. It's been a lovely day. I'm just a bit tired.”

 

Eric laughed. “You? The energizer bunny? Tired?”

 

Orlando smiled tightly. “It's a bit more grueling of a shoot than Troy was.”

 

Eric nodded sagely. “Understood.” A sudden chilly wind kicked up then, and Orlando shivered. Eric lost no time in using that opportunity to wrap his arms around Orlando.

 

“Shall we go inside?” Eric whispered, and Orlando suddenly knew the connotations of “going inside” with Eric. There was only one room big enough for the two of them inside: the one with the bed in it.

 

For a moment, a split, lightning-fast moment, Orlando was tempted. Eric was beautiful and funny and talented, and he wanted Orlando.

 

Unfortunately for Eric, though, Orlando only wanted one person.

 

Before Orlando could formulate a gentle let-down, Eric moved his lips to Orlando's neck and tenderly kissed him there, simultaneously moving his hand over Orlando's belly.

Quickly, before it could go any further, Orlando caught Eric's hand and stepped out of his embrace.

 

“Eric, I'm sorry-” he began. Eric's nostrils flared.

 

“It's that bloody fuckwit Viggo Mortensen, isn't it? Crikey, I'd like to stuff him.” He paced the boat deck in irritation.

 

“I didn't mean to lead you on-”

 

Eric waved him off. “No, no. I mean, your arse alone is a lead-on, but I know you didn't do it on purpose. I had plans for that arse, too,” he said, almost to himself.

Orlando blushed.

 

“You've been after him how long now? And he still hasn't come to his senses and taken you to bed? I can tell you, I wouldn't be so bloody stupid. What do you even see in him?”

It would take far too long to explain.

 

“Never mind,” Eric said, and in so doing saving Orlando from having to formulate an answer.

 

“I don't want to know.” He sighed, defeated. “Right, then. Let's get you back.

 

You're buggered and cold, and I'll only get a severe case of blueballs if we stay out here any longer. I'll go talk to the captain.” He started to walk away, the stopped suddenly. “Keep in mind, though, mate, you ever change your mind about him, I'm first in line.”

 

Orlando had laughed sadly and nodded.

 

And that had been that.

 

And now, here he was, watching the Oscars from halfway round the world, by himself in the dark. This, Orlando, had to admit, was a bit of a low point in his life.

 

The television regained his attention then, for Steven Spielberg had opened an envelope saying, “And the Oscar goes to...”

 

Orlando held his breath.

 

“It's a clean sweep! The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, and Fran Walsh producing!”

 

Orlando erupted from his bed as the audience on the telly went wild. The cast and crew were all hugging and congratulating each other, and the music was swelling, and Orlando wish, wish, wished he could be there!

 

Unthinking, he reached for his phone and brought Viggo's number up in the contacts. He was just about to press the “send call” button when he froze, remembering that Viggo wasn't interested in phone calls from him. The triumph of the moment soured in his mouth, and he gently placed the phone back on its charger then turned his attention back to the television, where a grinning Peter Jackson held his Academy Award statuette with the cast and crew surrounding him.

 

Tears flooded his eyes, and he angrily dashed them away. He hadn't cried in weeks over Viggo. He wouldn't start up again now.

 

A sudden brisk knock at the door made him jump. Who on earth would be knocking in the pre-dawn early morning?

 

Turning on one of the bedside lamps, he called out, “Who is it?”

 

“Delivery for Orlando Bloom,” came the heavily-accented answer.

 

Orlando smiled. He bet Peter had sent something for the occasion. Jumping up, he shut off the TV and opened the door. A giant arrangement of pink roses met him.

 

“Oh!”

 

“Please, we have more,” said a voice from the behind the flowers. Another voice said something in lilting Spanish, and the first man walked forward as Orlando backed up.

 

Eight people brought in massive bouquets until there was hardly any space to walk and the room was filled with the fragrance of roses. With a pang, Orlando was reminded of a day in Morocco...

He shook his head to clear it of such thoughts.

 

Finally, a large, flat package wrapped in brown paper and twine was placed on the floor. It looked to be a frame of some sort, but before Orlando could open it, the men began to file out.

He thanked the delivery men, not really paying attention to them as they left, instead overwhelmed by the small fortune in flowers that surrounded him. As the last delivery man walked to the door, he paused and Orlando heard him say “Gracias,” to the others, then shut the door and turned to face Orlando.

 

“Was there something else, mate?” he asked absently. Oh, Orlando thought, he probably needed a tip. Frantically, he searched for his wallet and took out all the cash that was in it.

 

“I'm sorry it's not more,” he said, “but it's all I have.” He handed it to the man, who reached out and took it gently. Orlando had been looking down at the money during the exchange, and when he saw the man's hands, he froze.

 

He knew those hands. He'd watched them do extraordinary things, all the while wishing he could feel them on his body. He'd wanted to be touched by those hands, caressed, held in those arms.

Now that he was standing next to him, the familiar smell of woods and earth assailed him, and with an indrawn breath, he lifted his gaze to settle on the man he most loved, most wanted.

 

They stood regarding each other in silence. Viggo looked a bit more haggard than when Orlando had last seen him, as if he weren't sleeping well. He'd also lost weight, though god knew that could have been preparation for another film role. He still looked perfect to Orlando.

 

They both broke the silence at the same time.

 

“What are you-”

 

“Orli-”

 

They laughed awkwardly for a moment, then Viggo drew a big breath in.

“Orli, I need to say some things to you. Will you listen?”

 

Wordlessly, his heart skipping a hundred miles a minute, Orlando nodded.

 

“First,” Viggo began, “I just want to say I'm so damn proud for you. You're making amazing art, just throwing yourself out there and getting it done. I wish I could have been a part of that-”

 

“You could have-” Orlando started to interrupt.

 

“I'm not finished,” Viggo said gently but firmly.

 

“Sorry,” Orlando said contritely and stared at the floor between them.

 

“What I came here to say, to do...” he paused and swallowed convulsively. “...is ask...your forgiveness.”

 

Orlando's head snapped up.

 

“You see...when, uh...when you asked if I loved you and I said I didn't...I lied.”

Orlando's eyes searched Viggo's. “You lied?” he whispered.

“I lied.”

 

“So you...”

 

“I do love you. More than...” he let out a long breath. “More than everything else combined. Save for Henry,” he added with a crooked smile. Orlando dismissed that; of course Viggo loved his son more than anyone else. But if what Viggo was saying was true, if Orlando was even on the list...

 

“So when you said I was just a way to pass the time...” the words stuck in Orlando's throat, they still hurt so much.

 

Viggo flinched. “Oh, god, Orli, if I could take it all back, I would. Every word.”

“Why did you lie?” Orlando asked, his eyes full of unshed tears.

 

Viggo took another deep breath. “I lied because...I told myself that I was setting you free to live your life without my interference, that you were too young and needed room to grow, and I was tethering you.”

 

Orlando opened his mouth to object, but Viggo held up his hand to silence him.

“But the real reason I lied...was because I was, in the words of our favorite Scotsman, a great bloody coward. I was afraid that when you stopped needing me, you would also stop wanting me.”

 

Orlando regarded him with wide, disbelieving eyes.

 

“Stop want- stop wanting you? Do you know how impossible that is? I couldn't stop wanting you when I tried! Eric bloody Bana tried to seduce me in the middle of the Alboran sea, and I didn't feel anything! Because when I thought about being with anyone but you, it felt like I was cheating on you, and we were never even together! Do you realize how screwed up that is?” Irritation made his fists clench.

 

Viggo had no ready reply for that.

 

“And how dare you assume you know what I'm feeling? I know my own mind, Viggo Bloody Mortensen, and I knew the very moment I clapped eyes on you that I wanted you! Before I needed you, before you taught me things, made me grow and change, I wanted you then, and through the last four years, I waited, hoping against hope you'd turn those eyes on me, and when I finally decide I've had enough waiting, you tell me I'm nothing to you, a- a distraction!”

 

The last word came out as a hoarse whisper, and the tears in Orlando's eyes refused to be held back any longer. Orlando was hurting, and Viggo couldn't take it anymore. He stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Orlando and hauling him tight against his body.

“I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Orli,” he whispered.

 

“No,” Orlando, said, resisting his embrace. “No, you don't get to hold me, not after the things you said-”

 

“When you left, it felt like my heart was leaving my body,” Viggo interrupted, ignoring Orlando's halfhearted attempts to free himself. “Everything reminds me of you. A hundred times a day, I'd have to stop myself from calling or texting you when something funny happened, or something sad happened, or just because it was eight o'clock on a Monday night.”

 

Orlando stopped struggling when he heard that, breathless that Viggo had been going through the same ordeal he himself had. He began to listen to the words spoken in his ear.

 

“I'm gutted without you. You emptied my life when you left it, and it was my fault. Please, please don't send me away now. I need you, Orli.”

 

Slowly, as Viggo spoke, he felt Orlando's arms wind around his back and clasp him tightly. Viggo closed his eyes in relief, then lifted his head to look Orlando in the eyes. Viggo hated that he'd been the one to put those tears there, made them wide and sad. He vowed that Orlando would never cry because of him again, unless it was happiness.

 

Gently, he raised his hands to Orlando's face and wiped the tears away. His gaze fell to Orlando's lips, which parted slightly in supplication.

 

With a sound of wanting, Viggo took Orlando's mouth.

 

This time, when they kissed, there was no resistance. Instead, at the touch of their lips, a conflagration ignited, fueled by a longing that stretched back years. Viggo slanted his head, parting Orlando's lips for the onslaught of his tongue and teeth. His dick, which had already begun to harden the moment he came into Orlando's presence, rose sharply to attention and pressed painfully against the thick denim of his jeans.

 

Viggo, engulfed by the taste and the smell and feel of Orlando, hardly noticed when the young man tore at the buttons on his peacoat. Orli pushed the offending garment off Viggo's shoulders, then pulled Viggo's shirt over his head. Appreciation lit Orlando's eyes as he stared at Viggo's form. But soon, his hands were busy again, reaching for the fastening on Viggo's jeans.

Viggo's hands stilled his actions. He was so aroused; he didn't think he could last if Orlando touched him just now.

 

“Don't you dare stop me this time,” Orlando said vehemently, brushing him aside and forcing his zipper down.

 

“I'm not-”

 

“You said you love me, you want me-”

“I do-”

 

What Viggo was about to say was cut off at that moment, as all thought fled from his brain. Orlando's hand had reached down and burrowed under his boxer briefs and found him, already hard and straining.

 

Viggo groaned as Orlando pulled him free and began jerking him slowly.

“God, you're so hard for me,” Orlando breathed, then drew his tongue along Viggo's jawline and up to his ear. Gently, he sank his teeth into Viggo's earlobe, all the while his hand never leaving Viggo's engorged cock.

 

“Orli,” Viggo groaned, his hips moving beyond his control.

“I want you to fuck me, Viggo,” Orlando said. “I want your bloody control gone, and I want you inside me.”

 

Viggo's eyes flashed open, and he pulled Orlando's hand from his dick. Taking his mouth once more in a passionate kiss, he walked Orlando backwards until his knees hit the back of the bed. This unbalanced him, and they both went crashing down.

Orlando's eyes closed in delight as Viggo's weight pressed him into the mattress. Oh, how he'd dreamt of this. Viggo hands were everywhere, pulling Orlando's t-shirt up and his jeans down. He didn't stop until they were both naked, and the feel of bare skin on skin made them both groan.

 

They kissed again and again, unable to get enough of each other's taste, until Viggo broke the kiss and began to trail his mouth down, over Orlando's jaw, his throat. Each of Orlando's nipples received some oral attention, making him jump when Viggo sucked each one lightly.

“Bloody hell,” he murmured, sliding his hands into Viggo's hair and trying to pull him back up to his mouth.

 

But Viggo had other ideas, and he gently grasped Orlando's wrists and turned his mouth to the inside of one, kissing the elvish tattoo that resided there. They locked eyes as he did so, and Orlando's breath caught. The tattoo was a symbol of how they'd met, and they both gave a silent word of thanks to any and all deities for that gift.

 

Viggo never dropped Orlando's gaze as his mouth descended on Orlando's belly. Orli sucked in a breath and held it, hoping against hope-

 

But Viggo only moved his mouth to Orlando's hip, drawing a ragged breath of disappointment from the young elf.

 

“Easy, Orli,” he said.

 

“No,” Orlando replied impatiently. “Hard. Now.”

 

Viggo chuckled, then reared up and pushed Orlando's legs apart with his knees.

This time it was Orlando's mind that emptied of all thought as Viggo's warm hand found him.

“Oh, god, Viggo,” he moaned. “Please.”

 

Viggo leaned down and covered Orlando's mouth with his, sucking his tongue in a very suggestive fashion. Orlando ground his hips against Viggo, unable to keep them from moving. He could feel Viggo's cock sliding along his and groaned into his mouth. God, he felt like his skin was on fire.

 

And then he felt Viggo's hand snake between them once more and grasp his cock. He tore his mouth from Viggo's. “Fuck,” he grunted.

 

“Not yet, but soon,” Viggo replied, taking his mouth again.

 

Then, suddenly, he was gone, and Orlando blinked in dim light of the room, turned a dreamy shade of pink by the thousand or so roses strewn about. Before he could focus on anything, Viggo hooked his arms under Orlando's knees and pulled him to the edge of the bed.

 

The older man sank to his knees onto the floor between Orlando's open legs. His eyes focused hungrily on Orlando's erect and straining cock. It was the first time Orlando had ever seen that expression turned on him, and he stopped breathing from the excitement.

 

Without another thought, Viggo took all of Orlando into his mouth, and Orlando was pulled into a world of hot, wet silk.

 

Stars swam in front of Orlando's eyes and his head fell back onto the pillows. Instinctively, he clasped a fist full of Viggo's hair with one hand and in the other grasped a handful of bedsheet.

“Christ, Viggo, yes. Oh, shit,” he muttered incoherently.

 

Viggo swirled his tongue around the sensitive tip, finding the drop of liquid that had formed there. He closed his eyes at the sweet taste and greedily took him deeper, pulling back with a strong suction that had Orlando arching off the bed.

 

Orli's vocabulary very quickly degenerated into two words: “Viggo” and “fuck.”

“Fuck, Viggo,” he moaned as Viggo took him in as deep as he possibly could, until Orlando's shaft hit the back of his throat. But Viggo didn't gag, didn't hesitate, he would swallow Orlando up if he could.

 

By now, Orlando had sussed out that he no longer had the upper hand; he was completely under Viggo's will, would do anything he asked in a heartbeat, just please, Viggo, don't stop, don't stop...

 

“Fuck. Fuck! Viggo,” he cried out. His legs were shaking, a coil deep inside him winding tighter and tighter.

 

He was completely open and vulnerable, and to Viggo, who looked up briefly from his very enjoyable task, he had that look again where he was both angelic and seductive, ethereal and worldly, and oh, so very young.

 

Viggo closed his eyes. God, Orli tasted so good. With one hand, he cupped Orlando's scrotum, tenderly caressing the cool sac. With his free hand, he very gently teased the entrance to Orlando's body, lightly brushing against the sensitive spot with a fingertip, then slowly easing it inside.

 

The effect was immediate and electric.

 

Orlando went rigid and let out a guttural cry, and Viggo's mouth filled with come. Viggo took all of it, swallowing while Orlando spurted into his mouth again and again. Viggo's eyes closed in delight, and he only released Orlando when he'd had every single drop.

 

Orli watched, exhausted, as Viggo licked his lips and smiled. A sudden thought occurred to him, and he gave a startled chuckle.

 

An eyebrow cocked up, and Viggo said, “Please tell me that's not a commentary on the quality of my abilities.”

 

Orlando laughed again and reached for Viggo, who settled heavily on him and took his mouth. Orlando could taste himself on Viggo's tongue and groaned.

 

“I was just thinking,” Orlando said between kisses, “that you look like the cat who ate the cream.”

 

Viggo gave a low laugh himself, then brushed his thumbs along Orlando's sensitive nipples, drawing from him a strangled groan. His mouth found Orli's neck again, and he gently sank his teeth into the sensitive skin there.

 

“Fuck, yes, I love your mouth. God, you are like a great big cat, aren't you. Like a leopard or a panther, so strong and beautiful.”

 

Orlando was sated and relaxed, but Viggo's excitement was reaching critical levels. The way Orli had climaxed in his mouth had been a scene from his wildest dreams, and he wanted, needed to be inside him.

 

Evidently, Orlando had the same train of thought, for he suddenly began pushing against Viggo's shoulders. When Viggo sat up, Orlando scooted off the bed and made for the bathroom, returning shortly with a small bottle in his hand.

 

He broke the safety seal on the lid and opened it, pouring a good measure of thick lubricant into his hand.

 

“When did you get that?” Viggo asked.

 

“I bought it before I flew out to Idaho,” Orlando replied. “Dunno why I held onto it. I suppose I never really gave up hope,” he said, setting the bottle aside and reaching for Viggo's stiff cock.

 

Viggo groaned as Orlando's slick hands found him, spreading the lube anywhere he could touch.

Despite the overwhelming sensation Orlando was flooding him with, dimly Viggo growled in triumph that Orlando had never used the lube until now, never invited anyone else into his bed. Which was good, because Viggo was the one who belonged there.

 

Suddenly, Viggo couldn't stand it anymore. He pressed Orlando down on the bed and spread his legs, then grabbed the bottle of lubricant and snapped the lid open. Orlando's cheeks flushed with anticipation.

 

“God, finally,” Orli said breathlessly. “I want that in me now. I want it hard and fast, and I want you to come inside me – fuck!”

 

Viggo had inserted a lubricated finger into Orlando's tight ass without warning, and Orlando arched off the bed, his cock hardening once again. Viggo smiled darkly, loving Orlando's responsiveness and enthusiasm. Slowly, he added a second finger, gently stretching and preparing Orlando for him.

 

“Viggo, now.” Orlando demanded. “Please, fuck me, I've waited so long-” His young prince was panting, begging him for it, and Viggo could no more deny him than he could stop the sun's inevitable ascent.

 

Reaching down, he grasped his cock in his hand and pulled Orlando tight against him, lifting his hips for a better angle, then placed the broad head of his penis against the hot entrance to Orlando's body. Slowly, achingly slowly, he pressed forward.

 

The tight, incredibly smooth heat washed over him, and he groaned with the effort it took not to simply bury himself in Orlando. This time, their first time, he needed to take it slow, despite Orli's pleas to fuck him hard and fast.

 

He was glad for his control now, as Orlando's face mirrored pain, and Viggo stopped.

 

“Am I hurting you?”

 

“No,” Orli lied. “Don't stop.”

 

But Viggo did stop, withdrawing a bit and letting Orlando's body adjust to the thick shaft inside it. He kissed Orlando again and again, telling him how beautiful he was, how much he wanted him, loved him. Soon, Orli was moving against him trying to deepen the penetration, and Viggo obliged, finally working his way to the hilt, and the sensation made them both groan.

 

Viggo began to move, unable to keep still any longer. Pushing deep, he found with the head of his cock Orlando's prostate and aimed for it with every stroke. He doubted Orlando heard the sounds he was making from the stimulation.

 

His elf's cock was dripping again, and Viggo grasped it, jerking it in rhythm with his plunging hips.

 

“Come for me again, Orli,” he uttered lowly. “I need to see your face when you climax. It's so fucking hot...”

 

His other hand trailed up Orlando's belly to his pectorals and swept across his chest, flicking the sensitive nipples until they were red and stiff.

 

“Viggo-”

 

“Every night, Orlando, I'd wake reaching for you. I could only dream of seeing you like this, of holding you, but now you're mine. You're mine...”

 

Orlando gave a great cry and stiffened, his back arching and his legs tightening around Viggo's hips. Viggo groaned as once again Orlando's seed emptied, spurting onto Viggo's chest and belly.

 

His control shattered, and he took Orlando's hips in a punishing grip. His own hips jackhammered, pounding at Orlando, who gripped his biceps tightly, urging him on with his cries.

 

“God, Viggo, yes, this! Yes, don't stop, please don't stop, fuck me, fuck me, oh, god, Viggo, I love you-”

 

And the top of Viggo's held like it was exploding, a sharp tingle at the base of his spine signaling his imminent orgasm. He came then, harder and longer than he'd ever done in his adult life, his body no longer corporeal, he was just a mass of stars and light, and the only thing keeping him from flying completely apart were the dark eyes of his love.

 

Finally, after an eternity, he slowly collapsed onto Orlando, who cradled him tenderly with his body.

 

Orlando kissed his temple, then reached to the bedside lamp and turned it off. Both exhausted, they fell asleep together in the dawn's early light.

 

 

It wasn't much later when they were both awakened by Viggo's cell phone. Viggo ignored it, tightening his arms around Orlando and burrowing his face in his tangled curls.

 

Then Orlando's phone started ringing, and they both groaned, exhaustion making them bleary-eyed after both being up all night. Viggo's rang again at that moment, overlapping the beeping of Orlando's.

 

“We'd better answer them, it's probably the Fellowship,” Orlando muttered sleepily. “We swept the Oscars last night.”

 

Viggo knew he should be very excited about this, but he was too happy to wake up next to Orlando to care much.

 

Orli reached over and plucked his phone from its charger on the night stand, and Viggo groaned and forced himself to sit up. His phone was across the room somewhere in his jeans pocket, and he searched for it as Orli answered his own phone.

 

“Hey, Beanie,” Orli said, watching Viggo's ass as he bent over to retrieve his jeans from the floor. “I know, I saw! I'm so happy for us! ...Oh, he didn't answer, did he?”

 

A mischievous glint entered his eyes then, and he said loudly, “Vigg, Sean is not happy with you for not answering your phone just now.”

 

Viggo smiled. “Tell him I was busy,” he said, and flipped his own phone open.

 

Billy's number showed on Viggo's caller ID, and his smile widened.

 

“Hullo, Bill,” he said.

 

“We've won! We've won! Where are you?” Came the demand. “I cannae believe you're not here for thess!”

 

He was excited, Viggo could tell, because his accent was again thicker than usual.

“I'm actually not in town,” he began evasively, but was interrupted by Orlando, who had risen from the bed.

 

“Beanie wants to speak with you,” he said, offering his phone to Viggo.

“Hang on, Billy,” Viggo said. “I'm putting you on with Orli while I talk to Sean.”

 

“What!” came the reply, and Viggo grinned as they switched phones.

 

“Is that Billy?” Orlando said into the phone, flopping back onto the bed.

 

“What is going on?” Beanie asked when Viggo put Orlando's phone to his ear.

 

“Well, it looks like I've finally found some sense,” Viggo said self-deprecatingly.

 

“About bloody time! Cor, what is it with you two! I was growing tired of this saga.”

Viggo smiled crookedly. “You've been very patient, kind sir.”

 

“Yes, well. I'll let you get back to it. Yes, I know, Billy, he's just told me,” he said suddenly, and Viggo supposed Billy was standing talking to Sean while he was still on the phone with Orlando, who was coming toward him again with that look in his eye. The comedy of the situation made him laugh out loud, the four of them in this strange conversation taking place on opposite sides of the world.

 

“Got to go, Sean,” Viggo said, just as Orlando closed Viggo's phone and tossed it aside. He stopped in front of Viggo, then, never releasing Viggo's gaze, he slowly dropped to his knees.

 

 

Bright sunlight streamed through the windows when Viggo woke next. He reached for Orlando instinctively, but his hand only encountered cool sheets. The bottom dropped out of his stomach.

 

“Orli?” he said into the empty room. There was no reply, and he sat up in a panic. “Orlando!” he shouted.

 

The bathroom door opened a moment later, and Orlando came through it, his hair wet and his eyes wide.

 

“What? What's wrong?” he asked.

 

Relief flooded Viggo, and he breathed deep and slow, trying to calm his racing heart.

“I thought you...I didn't know where you were,” he said lamely.

 

“I was in the bloody bathroom. I don't know if you noticed, but I came all over everything, including myself. Needed a shower. Is this gonna be a thing, you panicking whenever I'm not in the room?”

 

Viggo dropped his gaze contritely. “Maybe for a while. So many times, I've woken up to an empty bed after making love to you in my dreams. I thought I'd been dreaming again.”

 

“No, lovely,” Orlando replied, crawling onto the bed and straddling Viggo's hips. “I'm here. No one else but you will do, you know.”

 

Later, after they'd gone to sleep and woken up again, Orlando demanded sustenance, and they ordered room service. Viggo showered while they waited for it to arrive. Orlando tried to join him, but he knew they'd stay in there forever if he did, and someone needed to answer the door when their food got there. Orlando pouted a bit at this, but Viggo promised to do certain things to him with his tongue later on, and Orlando relented.

 

As they ate, they talked and laughed, and drank in each other's presence, for it had been so long since things had been this easy. Once their hunger was satisfied, Viggo suggested they take in a walk along the sea.

 

But it was still winter, and a bit cold, and darkness came early this time of year. By the time they got back to Orlando's hotel, the streetlights had lit, and Orlando was shivering.

 

“The sea is so beautiful here,” Viggo said, looking out the window while Orlando lit the bedside lamp. As he shut the drapes, a memory sparked in Viggo's mind.

 

“What did you say about Eric trying to seduce you in the middle of the Alboran?” he asked, unbuttoning his coat and dropping it onto the armchair in the corner.

 

Orlando rolled his eyes. “Oh, that. Yes, he tried. 'Tried' being the operative word.”

 

“What-what did he do?” Viggo tried to make the question sound casual and failed miserably.

 

“He took me out on a yacht on the sea. A chilly wind kicked up and he put his arms around me.”

Viggo's nostrils flared.

 

“And he kissed my neck all sweet and soft, then asked me to go inside with him.”

 

Viggo couldn't stay still at that news. Unable to contain himself, he paced about in irritation, much the same way Eric had that evening, Orlando thought in some amusement. It was really amazing how similar the two men were. Probably why they didn't get along at all.

Viggo was swearing and talking to himself, then turned to Orlando.

 

“HE KISSED YOU.”

 

“Only on my neck-”

 

“I'm gonna kill him.”

 

“No you're not. Now, come to bed.”

 

“The nerve-”

 

Orlando rolled his eyes a bit, but couldn't suppress his gratification that Viggo was openly showing his jealousy of Eric. He came up behind Viggo and embraced him, holding him tightly.

 

“Calm down, love,” he crooned, then kissed his shoulder. “He doesn't hold a candle to you.”

The large brown package caught his eye then. He'd forgotten about it once Viggo had started kissing him the previous night, but now his curiosity was once more piqued.

 

“What's in the package?” he asked, hoping it would also distract Viggo from his rage at Eric.

Viggo didn't seem to want to let the whole Eric thing go, but Orlando had used too sweet of bait not to bite.

 

“It's something I've been working on,” he replied.

 

Orlando gasped. “A painting? You've been painting? Cor, let me see!”

 

With deft fingers, he untied the twine and unwrapped the brown paper from the large frame.

He stood back when he saw the picture, and turned tear-filled eyes to Viggo.

 

“It's...it's what I see every night in my dreams,” Viggo said huskily.

 

The painting, done in silvers and shadows, depicted Orlando strewn across a bed deep in sleep. The pale sheet covered him only to his waist, one hip peeking out from under it. The moon shone down from an open window and haloed him in light, highlighting his elven features.

 

“I saw you like this that first night we spent in Malta. It was burned into my brain.”

Orlando smiled then, a satisfied smirk. “Good.”

“Oh, I see how it is,” Viggo said, reaching for Orlando's waist and pulling him against him. God, it felt so good to be able to do that when he wanted to.

 

“Damn straight. I'd been throwing all my wiles at you, and I didn't think anything was getting through. I'm glad to know you were tied up in knots, too.”

 

Viggo nuzzled him under the jaw and kissed his temple. Orlando gave a sigh of pleasure.

“The painting is beautiful, Viggo. I love it. Thank you.”

 

“I brought it because I was worried you'd throw me out of the room before I could say anything to you. If I didn't get to have you back in my life, I couldn't have kept it, and you're the only person I'd want to have it.”

 

“Throw you out of the room? What a loony thing to think. As if I could. And what about all the roses?” Orlando asked. “I mean, I love that you're prone to grand gestures, but bloody hell. It's the middle of winter. You must've spent a fortune on them.”

 

“You remember the rose festival?”

 

“Of course. It was one of the greatest days of my life, until this one.”

Viggo smiled and kissed him for that.

 

“Mine, too. But the way it ended...do you remember falling asleep that night?”

“It's a bit hazy; I was three sheets to the wind, after all.”

 

“Do you remember throwing your leg over me and demanding I dance with you?”

 

“I...” Orlando's eyes turned inward as he remembered. “I thought I'd dreamt that. Wait. After that, you...did you...”

 

 

“Kiss you? Yes.”

 

Orlando's nostrils flared. “You mean the first time we kissed, I was too drunk to notice? What the devil is wrong with me? And the second time, you pushed me away! God, and both times, the surroundings were so beautiful, a moonlit night surrounded by roses, a breathtaking sunset in the mountains...” Orlando trailed off as he realized why Viggo had chosen pink roses.

 

“You're trying to rewrite it,” he said baldly. 

 

Viggo blushed a little and dropped his gaze.

 

“Wishful thinking, I guess,” he murmured.

 

Orlando said nothing, just walked over to the window and opened the drapes, then walked over to the lamp and snapped it off, leaving the room filled with the light of the first-quarter moon.

Slowly, he approached Viggo, whose heart had skipped a beat then started working double-time. Orlando reached out and took Viggo by the wrist, pulling him down onto the bed next to him.

Just as in that night so many months before, Orlando turned and draped his leg over Viggo's belly.

 

“Dance with me, Viggo,” he whispered.

 

And there, in the moonlight, surrounded by the heady fragrance of pink roses, they rewrote their first kiss. Viggo's mouth was hot and marauding, and Orlando arched against him avidly, melting into him in a tangle of arms and legs.

 

A while later, when both of them lay naked and exhausted and the moon had risen higher, Orlando spoke.

 

“While we're on the subject of rewriting history...” he began, then paused.

 

Viggo knew what Orlando was thinking and said it for him.

 

“Idaho.”

 

Orlando's breath came out in a whoosh of air, and Viggo knew it still hurt him.

 

“Yes,” he confirmed. “Idaho. You're going to saddle Uraeus and Manipura and we're going back to that bloody hill, and we're reshooting that scene. And this time, when I kiss you at sunset, you are going to tell me you love me and push me down onto the ground and bugger me into oblivion. Got it?”

 

Viggo laughed. “Yes, my sweet prince.”

 

“Damn straight, I'm your sweet prince. Now say it.”

 

“I love you, Orlando.”

 

“I'm not just a sex symbol to you?”

 

Viggo pulled Orlando under him once more and mounted him, easing his way into the tight, hot depths while Orlando arched and purred. His hands cradled Orlando's face and he kissed him lingeringly, lovingly, his heart full and his mind at peace.

 

“No, Orlando,” he replied, slowly moving his hips forward.

 

His elven prince moaned and tightened his arms around Viggo's back, and Viggo lost all thought but one:

 

“You're everything to me.”

 

                                                                                                        EPILOGUE

 

As time went by, Viggo stopped worrying that Orlando would stop wanting him. Indeed, his lover was insatiable, demanding frequent loving from Viggo at all hours of the day when they were together, and when they were separated for a few weeks from acting jobs...Viggo shuddered when he thought of their reunions; the only time Orlando would leave him alone for the first two or three days was when they were sleeping.

 

Though Orlando retained his house, he moved in with Viggo, which suited Viggo just fine, since he liked having Orlando where he could see him.

 

They did indeed “reshoot” the scene on the hill in Idaho, and Orlando carped for days about the grass stains on his hands and knees and the finger-shaped bruises on his hips. There was always a smile under the pout, though, so Viggo knew Orlando privately loved it.

 

The only thing that dampened his happiness was Billy's sadness over Dominic.

 

As the years passed, though, Billy seemed to move on. He met a sweet girl named Ali and got her pregnant. He seemed to really love her, and by all accounts was very happy. After their son was born, Bill spent most of his time home in Scotland, shooting the odd film and making music. He and Dom kept their friendship up, but Viggo suspected Billy liked keeping his distance. Every time Dominic came up in conversation, Billy's breath would hitch and he'd hesitate, as if just talking about the boy pained him.

 

Evangeline and Dominic seemed destined to last forever. Dominic was completely enamored of her, and Evi was really lovely, Viggo had to admit, or at least she seemed to be. He knew Billy never quite trusted her, though for years she'd done nothing to earn that distrust.

 

And then she dropped a bomb.

 

One very late night, Orlando and Viggo slept in a tangle of arms and legs, when the dark silence was pierced by Viggo's phone. A mere split-second later, Orlando's began to play the Jason Mraz ringtone he'd programmed into it. They both groaned and untangled themselves from each other. When both their phones rang, something was up.

 

“What's wrong, Billy?” Viggo asked after seeing the Scotsman's picture light up the screen of his smartphone. Sleep made his voice low and creaky.

 

“Dominic, mate, is everything all right?” Orlando said into his own phone. He reached up and snapped on the bedside lamp, making Viggo blink irritably in the sudden brightness. He threw Orlando an annoyed glance and grabbed his boxers, donning them and standing to head to the living room so he and Orlando could have their separate conversations.

 

“Viggo, I don't know what to do. Dominic's just shown up at my hotel in Paris with swollen eyes and a pleading look. Evi's cheated on him. What do I do?”

 

“Where is he now?” Viggo asked.

 

“He's in my hotel room. I've gone to get some ice. I needed an excuse to leave so I could call you. Look, mate, I know it's bonkers late there, but I didn't know who else to call.”

“What happened?”

 

“I'm not sure, exactly. He just showed up as I was leaving to head to the set – thankfully, they don't really need me, just reaction shots that I'm not on screen for, shit, I need to call them – and Dominic knocks on my door, his face all cry-swollen and his nose running. Well, you know I can't resist that.

 

“So I let him in and he sort of crumples and says 'she's pregnant,' and I say, 'Well, isn't that good news?' like a bloody bampot, and he just shakes his head and says, 'It's not mine.' And I sort of stand there gaping at him, and then make some weak excuse about getting some ice for his face and called you.”

 

“You mean he just got there?”

 

“Well, yeah. I panicked, Viggo.”

 

“Look, Billy, just go get the ice and go back to your room. Crack into the minibar and pour him a drink and just listen to him. You know how to be his friend. This is no different from you and me.”

 

“But it is different, Viggo, because I'm bloody in love with him and you know it!”

“Still? I thought you'd moved on.”

 

“I moved on the same way you'd have moved on if Orlando had wound up with Eric.”

 

Viggo's nostrils flared. “So you've never moved on.”

 

“Bingo.”

 

“What about Ali and your child?”

 

“Ali knows about Dominic. We don't have secrets.”

 

“And she's okay with it?”

 

“Ali is a very special person, Viggo. Just drop it, all right? I need to focus on the issue at hand.”

 

“My advice remains the same. Go back. Make him a drink. Just listen. He needs you right now. Isn't he supposed to be in New Zealand shooting a superhero movie?”

 

“He flew in this morning.”

 

“He flew to Paris to see you. His best friend. Go. Get your ice. Use it to make a scotch on the rocks. Listen to him. And probably feed him. He's always hungry. Look, Billy, you know what to do. You've got this.”

 

Viggo listened to Billy's labored breathing.

 

“Right,” Billy said. “Right, I've got to go.”

 

“You'll do fine.”

 

“Right,” he repeated, as if to convince himself. “I'll call you later, Viggo.”

 

Orlando was still in bed talking to Dominic when he returned to the bedroom. He sat upright with his knees drawn up, the sheet casually draped over his hips. As usual, Orlando's beauty pierced something in Viggo.

 

Hanging on the wall above the bed was the painting Viggo had made for Orlando's thirtieth birthday the previous year. It depicted two silhouetted figures on horseback, a sunset behind them. Viggo had used an experimental technique where he'd mixed glow-in-the-dark paint into the composition, and when the lights were turned out, a glowing galaxy of stars was revealed.

 

The night they'd gone back to Idaho, Viggo had, as Orlando had requested, “buggered him into oblivion,” taking Orlando again and again on that hilltop, forever erasing the terrible memory of what had occurred the first time they'd gone there.

 

At last, exhausted, they'd layed together on the cool grass and stared up at the endless array of stars and planets, and Viggo had frozen the moment into the painting. It was a forever reminder of how far they'd come, and how grateful he was that Orlando was truly, irrevocably, his.

 

“Dommie, it'll be all right. Look, Billy's there, yeah? He'll make it better, I promise you. And once you get your bearings, you can come visit Viggo and me, all right? Stay with Billy for a while. He'll get you right as rain in no time.”

 

Viggo smiled at Orlando's advice. Viggo had, of course, told Orlando about Billy's feelings for Dom. Orli had only replied, “Oh, yeah. I know,” prompting Viggo to roll his eyes.

 

“Oh, Billy's back? Right. Well, I'll let him sort you out. Call me later, though, all right? Talk to you soon, mate.”

 

As Orlando pressed the “end call” button, he sighed heavily.

 

“What's wrong, my love?” Viggo asked.

 

“It's just been a long time coming,” Orlando said. “I wish they could have what we have.”

 

Viggo crawled into the bed next to Orlando and took him in his arms.

“I wish everyone could have what we have,” Viggo murmured, capturing Orlando's lips with his for a lingering kiss.

 

Orli gave a little “hmm” of pleasure and deepened the kiss. Reaching up to turn the light out, he said, “I want to see the stars while you make love to me.”

 

In the darkness, the pale band of the Milky Way galaxy seemed to swirl and dance outward from the painting as their joy took them to the heavens.

 

Billy took a deep breath and tightened his grip on the bucket of ice he'd dutifully retrieved from the machine down the hall. Bracing himself, he opened the door to his hotel room.

 

Dominic hadn't moved from where he'd flopped down on the bed a few minutes prior. His phone was to his ear, and when he saw Billy, he said, “Look, Orli, Billy's back. Yeah, I'll talk to you later. Thanks, mate.”

 

He hung up his phone and let it fall to his side, then covered his face with his hands.

“I've brought the ice,” Billy said lamely.

 

“That's good. Ice is really important to me right now.”

 

The sarcasm was not lost on Billy. Trying to figure out how to proceed, he opted for a brusque and efficient treatment. Dom didn't need to be babied right now.

 

“Well, it's bloody important to me,” he said. “You can't have a scotch rocks without the rocks, now can you? Now, come on, lad, sit up and I'll make you a stiff one.”

 

Bad choice of words, considering that Dominic had only gotten better-looking with age, and Billy's body reacted accordingly.

 

At the mention of drinks, Dom sat up.

 

“That's more like it,” Billy said, placing two glasses from the minibar on top of the little fridge and filling them with ice. There was indeed a bottle of scotch, and Billy poured a generous amount for each of them, then handed one to Dominic.

 

“Now, what's happened.”

 

Dominic took a large gulp of his drink, coughing as it went down.

 

“Easy, now,” Billy said, but took Dom's glass and topped it off.

 

“Out of nowhere, it was,” Dominic started, his eyes turned inward.

Billy said nothing, knowing Dominic would find his own words at his own pace.

 

“She calls me last night. Or was it this morning? Or was it tomorrow? The time's got me all confused. Anyway, she calls me and says those dreaded words.”

 

“'We need to talk,'” Billy said.

 

“Them's the ones.” Dom took another, smaller sip from his drink.

 

“'I'm so sorry,' she says. And I say, 'What have you done?' and she starts crying about how the last year she's tried so hard but couldn't do it anymore and she's packed it in. I start crying and begging her to wait, to reconsider, we can work it out. She's crying, I'm crying, it's a bloody mess. And I won't stop, you know, I'm like that sometimes, when I want something I'll pester the shit outta ya, and she couldn't take it anymore and just blurts out, 'Dom, there's no point. I'm pregnant.'”

 

Dominic started crying again.

 

“And I knew. I knew she didn't mean 'I'm pregnant, we're havin' a baby.' Because I know I couldn't have been the father.”

 

“How do you know?” Billy asked.

 

Dominic took a deep breath and emptied his drink again, then held out his glass for another. Billy complied, making a mental note to cut him off after this one.

 

“The reason I know I'm not the father,” he said, contemplating the ice floating in his drink, “is because we haven't had sex in over six months.”

 

Billy closed his eyes. Yeah, there was no coming back from that one. Evi had gone to the arms of another. His nostrils flared in outrage.

 

“What was she thinking?” Billy muttered to himself under his breath.

 

“Honestly, the sex had petered out after a couple years, but we were comfortable and happy. At least I thought. She always gave it to me when I wanted it, but she never initiated it.”

 

Billy decidedly did not want to hear about Dom taking Evi to bed.

 

“I guess I just thought she had a low drive.” Dominic continued, then closed his eyes. “Now I know. It wasn't that she didn't want sex. It was that she didn't want me.

 

His head hung into his chest, and he made a strangled sobbing sound. Billy plucked the drink from Dominic's nerveless fingers and set it aside, then sat next to him on the foot of the bed. Placing an arm around Dominic's shoulders, he pulled him close and held him. Dominic turned and burrowed his face into Billy's neck and cried.

 

Billy remembered a day years ago when he'd cried just like this over Dominic, and Viggo had held him the whole time. And now here he was, holding the object of his desire while said object cried over some girl who didn't even have the sense to know what she'd had.

By now, the scotch had begun to take effect, and Dominic seemed to loosen a bit.

 

“You know what's funny, is that I'm not even crying over her,” Dom said into Billy's neck.

 

“You're not?”

 

“No. I'm crying over me. For being such a twonk all these years, yearning for someone I could never really have.”

 

“You couldn't have known Evi would-”

 

“No,” Dom said, raising his head to look at Billy. His eyes were wide and hurt.

 

“Am I so unloveable?” he pleaded. “So repulsive?”

 

“What? Of course not!” Billy said emphatically. If he ever met the person who made Dom believe that about himself...he wished he knew a cave troll he could let loose.

 

“Then why? Why reject me like that?”

 

“You mustn't blame yourself, mate. Evi's mad for cheating-”

 

“I'm not bloody talking about Evi!” Dominic said, erupting to his feet and standing with his back to Billy.

 

His gaze was on the floor, his shoulders filled with tension. The silence stretched for a moment, then Dominic's shoulders slumped again and he spoke in subdued tones.

 

“In a way,” Dom said, “I can't really blame her. I think she knew. I could never really give her all of myself because I already belonged to someone else. She tried, I really think she did, but you can only live a lie for so long, I suppose. And she deserves someone who can give her all of himself.”

 

Billy didn't know what to say.

Dominic's shoulders shook as another torrent of tears took him. A giant sob choked out of him, and he turned.

 

“Why don't you want me, Billy?” he pleaded. His face was anguish personified, and Billy's stomach dropped to his feet.

 

“W-what?” he stammered, not believing his ears.

 

“Why don't you want me? I'd grown up by the time we'd finished filming The Lord of the Rings, started putting on muscle, getting better and better at being an adult. I waited and waited for you to make a move, but you never did.”

“When did you-”

 

“And then I decided to move on and met Evi and she did want me and it was nice to be with someone who wanted me, but she wasn't you and there was nothing either of us could do about it. I'm so bloody angry with you! If you were going to go and ruin me for everyone else, couldn't you at least give me the time of day?”

 

His hands fisted at his sides and his breath came in great heaves.

Billy sat staring at Dominic for a moment as his entire perception of reality was turned arse over teakettle.

 

Finally, he silently rose and stood in front of Dominic.

 

“I never knew,” Billy said. “You were so young, at first. So young, and I would have felt like a predator. And by the time I was ready to say something, to tell you how I needed you, you'd met Evangeline.”

 

Dominic blinked. “You..wait. You...did...

 

“Oh, Dom, how could I not?” Billy said. Dominic shook his head, his eyes wide and vulnerable.

 

“But then you met Evi, and it was too late. I couldn't say anything.”

 

“No. Not true. You would have only had to crook your finger in my direction and I would have dropped her like a bad habit. I'd have come running, no matter what opposite corners of the earth we were on.”

 

Billy shook his head. “I waited too long,” he whispered, his heart heavy in his chest.

Dominic rubbed his face as he understood the ramifications of what Billy was telling him.

 

“And I didn't wait long enough,” he uttered.

 

Billy closed his eyes at those words. “God, so much time wasted,” he whispered, more to himself than Dom. The pain of those lost years cut deep, but he took a breath and decided not to dwell on it; the time was gone, and there was no getting it back. He lifted his gaze and took in Dominic's beloved face, tearstained and puffy and utterly, utterly beautiful.

 

No more wasted time, he promised himself.

 

Then he politely invaded Dominic's aura. Slowly, his arms slid under Dominic's, and he pressed his palms against Dom's muscular back.

 

Dominic watched him with questioning, hopeful eyes, his lips slightly parted and his breathing uneven.

 

“Kiss me,” Billy said.

 

Dominic didn't need asking twice.

 

***Fin