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TITLE: ‘HOW IT IS’
ORIGINAL STORY: Shuffle and Deal by Dee (cupiscent)
RATING: PG 13 for swearing and sexual situations
SUMMARY: Six moments when Sean gets a bit confused by Viggo.
NOTES: The original is a series of drabbles designed to be ‘shuffled’ and read in any order. This remix decides on an order and occasionally departs from the originals in unwarranted ways.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction, rewriting an earlier work of fiction. No one gets any cash, and no one should feel offended.
TEN PAST THREE
The window glass blinks at a slap of rain. Thunder batters and turns above the house.
From the bed, Sean can see the trees, the bushes, the grass, everything skinned out of the dark and held for a few tense seconds in light. Then the window pane shrugs back into blackness and there's nothing but his own bleached reflection, shivering as the glass rattles.
The lights have flickered a few times, but the phone still has a dial tone. He's checked it, more than once, to make sure.
Nights like this, the smell of his last marriage is still there, like gone-off food. The whole mess of it, that he thought was tidied up and thrown away. He kneads his scalp, and locks his fingers behind his neck, pounds his pillow. He flattens himself onto the sheet and presses himself down into the small creakings of the mattress.
His bed, the bed where he fucks Viggo, burns his skin.
The luminous digital clockface says ten past three when headlights swing across the wall. The front door slams, with the softer echo of the screen door after it.
'Where the fuck were you?' He clamps the waver out of his voice.
'Out.' Viggo toes off his shoes, pulls his shirt over his head. He brings in the live vegetable damp of the night, pearled in his hair, on his chill skin.
Blisters of rain pock the window. It's steadying, settling in for the night.
Viggo's weight hits the mattress, his breath frets a bit, and his wet hair spills over onto Sean's pillow.
A pause sinks into place.
Then Viggo rolls over. Neither of them says anything, but both of them move in tiny gradual ways until they're lying stomach to stomach, breathing on each other's faces.
* * *
Back in the trailer, after the last Chamber of Mazerbul shoot, Viggo stands under the sallow glare of the unshaded lightbulb. His battered leather costume is hanging open on his chest, but he's not moving.
'All that blue-screen stuff is a pain in the arse.' Sean wrestles with the stiff buckle of his gauntlet. His tiredness has deepened into a kind of drunkenness, like he's amiably disconnected from his limbs. 'That fucking cave troll'd better be good when they put it in.'
'It'll be good.' Under the limp locks of straightening hair, the smears of dirt, Viggo has a faintly pinched look. When he looks down, his eyelids are the colour of old bruises.
Sean looks away, then looks again. In this light the scar on Viggo's lip shows more harshly, a thin white line. 'Long day.'
'Yeah.' Viggo's voice is stiffened.
'There's no charge for sitting down, you know.'
Viggo sends him a tired, short smile. 'I'm okay. Just give me a minute.'
'Martyr.' Sean levers himself off the edge of the counter and slides his hands under the weight of Viggo's surcoat, easing it off his slumped shoulders, down his arms and off. Then the sweat-darkened undershirt gentled off over his head.
'You don't have to do this.' A tremor of tiredness rattles Viggo's teeth.
'Shut up and let me, Vig.' He finds his saliva is thickening, making it hard to talk.
And Viggo lets him, unresisting, leaning on him, one hand wincing on the softer flesh under his ribs, as Sean gets to work on the clasps of the leather half-glove on Viggo's sword hand. Ropes of blue veins thread his wrist as Sean bares it, ridiculously tender after the rough palm.
Viggo's bare skin shudders against the rub of leather of Sean's costume.
Sean starts to unbuckle his sword.
* * *
'Ten minutes, I swear.' The continuity woman knows no one believes her, but she says it anyway, before she dodges off back to where there's some set-up hitch with camera track on one of the Moria sets.
'You, Mr Mortensen, are a world-class liar.' Ian sniffs at Viggo's laid-down cards, shaking his head.
'Screw you, Vig.' Orli drops his cards and stretches, lithe as a cat.
The card school's become an end in itself. It started off as some variety of poker, but now it's grown so many house rules, you couldn't have explained it to anyone outside the fellowship.
Viggo's mouth curls into a slow smile as he scoops bottle-tops and small change across the table. 'Mine, all mine.'
Under the table, his thumb is exploring the seam of Sean's inside leg, gently, insistently hardening him, when they won't be able to do anything about it for hours yet.
Later, as they're preparing to run, yet again, across the Bridge of Khazad-dum, Viggo spins a glance across at him, testing. Then he says it, level-voiced, the words. The standard-issue ones.
Is he acting? Sean can't tell.
Sean's job has never required him to sound like himself.
Actors get paid to tell lies.
'Y'see,' Dom is explaining to a disbelieving Miranda, on her first day on set for costume fittings, 'the four of us have to go out with each other. It's a rule.'
Lijah nods, serious, settling his cloak. 'Otherwise, it'd be like Yoko Ono and the Beatles.'
'Right.' Miranda says. 'I'm with you.'
* * *
Wreaths of cigarette smoke circle round the fairylights over the bar. Every conceivable surface is unruly with glasses. From somewhere in the back a cheer erupts and breaks into bursts of stamping.
I'M GONNA LIVE TILL TUESDAY -- '
bellows Dom into a cue, balancing on the edge of the pool table.
Viggo is sitting, not saying much, on the other side of Sean, nursing a beer whose level doesn't seem to be going down noticeably. In front of him is an ashtray full of ripped-up beer-mats.
Miranda raises an eyebrow, blows a perfect smoke ring. 'I used to do all that updated Shakespeare. You know, Laertes in boxers. Hamlet on a Harley Davison.'
Sean spurts out smoke into a laugh. 'Yeah. Elsinore as a nightclub.'
Miranda steals another cigarette out of his packet. The edges of her hair strum his shoulders, cling in butter-bright strands to his shirt. 'I'll have you know I was a very good chain-smoking Ophelia.'
'I bet. Typecasting.' Sean rings one thumbnail off his pint glass and drinks.
She gives him a swift, practised jab in the ribs, and he knows he could go home with her. 'Git.'
Viggo breathes quietly through his teeth. He gives Sean his flickering type of private smile, with one eyebrow winced down over it, like smiling hurts. His eyes are flat, like blue glass or pottery.
Seconds pass, while Sean's mind whirrs out into unfamiliar territory, confronted by too much space. A lock in his thinking turns, raw and unsettling.
He wants to put out a hand and pull them both into safety, into indifference.
But when Viggo's knuckles scuff along his shoulder, casual, something still fillets his heart.
Miranda loops honey-coloured hair behind her ear, looks from Sean to Viggo. 'So that's how it is, is it?'
* * *
BLOOD IN THE WATER
Driving back from Sunday lunch at the hobbits', the radio's voices smother their silence.
'D'you want to come in for a cup of coffee?' Viggo's sidelong look is shaded and tasting at Sean.
'I don't drink coffee.'
'Good,' Viggo says levelly, his eyes on the road. 'I'm all out, anyway.'
Sean laughs. 'You're daft, you are.'
Then Sean does what he's been waiting to do all day, what he's been biding his time over. He puts a hand on Viggo's thigh, high up, over the scratchy ballpoint doodle of a tree. He wonders whether the ink will have soaked through the denim to mark the skin underneath, and he knows he's going to find out, peel back layers of clothes till he's down to tensed skin. If there isn't a mark, he'll leave one of his own, something to remember him by.
As they stop for a red light, Viggo takes a hand off the wheel and guides Sean's palm to his cock. Sean strokes it, feeling it as stiff and clearly defined beneath the denim as the thick end of a stick.
A taut pilot of excitement pulls up into a flame.
Rough noise escapes from Viggo's throat, and Sean can take credit for that. He's given Viggo that, at least.
It's like blood in the water, the calling up of appetite.
The light turns green, and they turn into Viggo's street.
* * *
Overhead, a plane draws a sheer white line across the lightening sky. Crows are waking, barracking restlessly in the bare trees across the pond.
Something in the way Viggo says it makes the early light seem different, hazardous.
'I just don't know.' Sean says.
'I thought you'd say that.' Viggo's eyes are the colour of water, and they have water's trick of moving without going anywhere.
Sean accepts the rain-frosted roughness of Viggo's coat against his face, then the nudge of foreheads. Viggo smells of the sharpness of frosty grass, the unexpected heat under the messy hair on the nape of his neck.
He is close enough for Sean to feel how he is shaking. The cold, he supposes, can do that.
Sean closes his eyes and exhales, feeling a shudder of something new.
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