Title: Becoming Young
Original story: Grow Up In Time by herm42
Pairing: Orlando/Elijah, Billy/Dom
Summary: There's chemistry on the set, there's misunderstandings and missteps, but it all works out.
Post-reveal notes: beta'd by the fabulous talesinbloom
Disclaimer: The author makes no claims or inferences to reality or truthfulness. Moreover, this story is based upon the work of another author and recognises their creation.
There is dead silence at the table when Orlando stops speaking.
Dom and Billy stare at him, shocked for several long seconds. Finally Billy opens his mouth, closes it, opens it again. "This is perhaps the worst idea you've ever had."
Orlando immediately jerks back, then wilts into his chair. Billy wonders if he was too harsh, but it was a much more diplomatic response than the one running through his head, which is mainly, 'No, no, oh my god, no. Elijah? What the hell are you thinking?'
"I didn't tell you so you could fucking chew my arse about it," Orlando growls out, glaring at the tabletop and refusing to look up at them. He resembles nothing more than a kicked puppy at the moment, completely betrayed. It's not an image that sits well with Billy.
"Orlando!" he says emphatically, so that Orlando looks back up at them. "We're not trying to castigate you. We're just saying that this ..." is going to blow up in your face to a truly catastrophic degree "... could be a very bad idea," he repeats, censoring himself again.
"Crazy, Orlando," Dom adds, finally chiming in. "He's American, he's a child star, you know about them, he says things like, 'Dood, you are such a uh fartknockur', and he's your cast mate, for chrissakes."
Orlando starts biting the nail of his thumb, hurt pooling in his eyes. Billy feels badly about it, he really does, but it doesn't stop him from knowing just how this will end.
"I mean," Dom continues, "Bills and me. We may want to shag like rabbits, but we don't. 'S unprofessional." Dom's smile has a wicked edge to it, but Billy merely rolls his eyes at the ill-timed joke.
"We have months left of this shoot. And then we're going to be together for premieres and appearances and- " Billy swallows with difficulty, anxiety and excitement rushing though his body in waves as it does every time he thinks of the future, wide and uncertain and imminent. "And just everything. We're going to be together for a long time yet and if it went bad you'd be stuck together and hating it. AND. Not to mention the negative impact of such a thing for both of you if it got out. No," Billy says, shaking his head. "Just, no."
Orlando seems to at least be considering what he'd said, for which Billy can only be thankful. He relaxes slightly and sighs, taking a drink of the beer he'd momentarily forgotten. His eyes slide over to Dom, a casual glance to see what he's thinking about - something Billy has given up trying to control - only to find Dom staring at him in a manner far less than casual. It's an intense kind of scrutiny that Billy half-recognizes from Dom's fascination with insects, only this examination is far heavier, somber, which in Dom is startlingly unfamiliar. Billy feels a frown forming between his eyebrows. He tilts his head, inquiring.
"Why ...?" Dom trails off.
It's a dangerous precipice. Billy thinks, from Dom's expression, that Dom has realised something. Something about Billy that is perhaps not entirely welcome, but Billy doesn't know what and only feels more and more confused. His frown deepens. He opens his mouth and shuts it again for the second time that night. It's just been that kind of conversation, and he wants to ask, wants Dom to explain, but is afraid to at the same time.
"Maybe you're right," Orlando says dejectedly.
Billy jumps at the sudden sound, turning toward Orlando staring into his almost full glass of beer. For one long minute his mind blanks completely. He thinks frantically and remembers. Elijah. Yes. Relieved, he answers as calmly as he can, "Really Orlando, I know you like him. We all do. But he's too young, and you both have too much at stake."
"I wouldn't be any good for him," Orlando mumbles.
Billy blinks and opens his mouth to argue because he thinks that Orlando means that on a strictly personal level, when Billy had been dealing exclusively with the generalities of the situation. His protest is lost, however, as Elijah picks that minute to descend on them, a storm of boyish energy and giggles and neon blue eyes that throws itself into Orlando's lap and quite effectively shuts down the conversation.
"Hey!" he says, and if it wasn't so completely serious, Billy would laugh at the panicked look that crosses Orlando's face. "Beer," Elijah says, and immediately appropriates Orlando's ignored drink. "Are you guys going to sit here all night?" It's clearly a question for Orlando.
Billy's knocked sideways just then, by the realization that Elijah appears to like Orlando as well. He looks at Dom, who most likely knows, for confirmation, but Dom's face is blank and distant. Unsettled, Billy presses harder, giving his whole attention to Dom, but Dom gives nothing back.
"You guys want another round or something?" Elijah offers.
"I think you've probably had enough, Doodle," Billy returns distractedly. More alcohol is really the last thing this night needs.
"Well. Then I guess I'm going home. You good to drive, Lando?" Elijah's voice is slightly brittle, and Billy thinks with some despair that he was only trying to do the right thing and still managed to get everyone pissed off.
"Wait, Orlando," Dom says, and Billy knows he's looking for a way to make things right, to fix the strangeness between them, but no easy solution presents itself, so Dom abandons the effort. Silence and tension fill in the gap of his aborted attempt.
"Yeah." Orlando answers Elijah finally, awkward and short, and they leave, hesitance in Orlando's step as he follows Elijah out of the bar.
For a moment they just sit, getting lost in their own thoughts as the music and noise of the bar closes in.
"That could have gone better," Dom says quietly.
Billy sighs, feeling too tired and too old. "That's an understatement."
"I'm not sure we told him the right thing," Dom says slowly, as if expecting to be attacked for that opinion, but Billy doesn't have the will left for a fight.
"I know. I just worry about the effect it would have on Elijah. Orlando's older, more experienced than Lij."
"Yeah, so? How is that a bad thing?"
Billy can't help but smile, even in the middle of dealing with this mess, because it's so like Dom to try and give his friends exactly what they want even when he knows he shouldn't. "He's going to get Elijah caught up in something he's not prepared for and it will end badly and we'll all suffer."
"How do you know this won't be the best thing in the world for him? How do you know he doesn't have any experience? Maybe this is exactly what he wants."
Billy snorts dismissively. "Orlando thinks he's in love." He pauses, considering the situation. "And I'm a fecking idiot. He doesn't know it, but he thinks he's being martyred, now that we've gone and given him his opposition, and it just makes it all that much more attractive to him. He probably thinks Elijah will find it irresistible, too."
"How do you know he isn't in love?" Dom's voice is rising, loud enough to attract attention if the pounding rain outside wasn't adding a blanket of sound over the entire bar.
"Because." Billy answers automatically and then considers the question. Orlando lives for the new and different and dangerous, and this is all three right now, but it won't remain that way for long, it can't. It will fade and so will Orlando's feelings. "It's Orlando," he adds finally, assuming Dom will understand what he hasn't said.
"Well there's a fine bit of logic right there," Dom snaps.
Or not, Billy thinks, and wishes suddenly and fleetingly that Astin had come with them tonight. It leaves a slight bitter taste in his mouth. A small, irrational anger that Dom doesn't get where he's coming from, and that maybe Dom can't, but that someone else might. "He's a grown up child," Billy tries to explain. "I'm not saying it's his fault. Everyone is like that at his age."
Dom's jaw clenches, and Billy thinks he shouldn't have bothered. "Since you have it all figured out Bill, why don't you call up Orlando's mobile and tell him exactly what he thinks and feels. And while you're at it, maybe you can decode me and tell me who I'm not in love with."
Billy freezes at the real anger in Dom's voice and blinks in confusion. He doesn't know why Dom suddenly took offense or how they went from talking about Orlando's feelings to Dom's. He feels like this entire mess has taken a sharp right turn. Now they're moving in a totally different direction, and Billy's completely lost his way.
"Who are you in love with?" It slips out without any thought. The question feels like it's consuming his brain, but Billy didn't mean to give it voice and hurriedly tries to backtrack. "And why are you so testy all of a sudden?"
"Sometimes, Bill, you can be a really thick-headed prick. Come on. We're leaving."
Dom's walking away and toward the door before Billy catches up with what he said, leaving Billy to scramble after him. Dom glances back and then holds out a hand, demanding the keys even though it's Billy's car. Billy yields them meekly.
Wind wet with rain whips through the door as Dom opens it and they step out into the rain. Billy is drenched in seconds, but he still flings himself into the passenger seat as fast as possible. Dom begins driving home in stony silence, showing no signs of wanting to speak, so Billy leans his head against the cold glass of the window and looks out into the dark rain night.
He's shaking and knows it's caused by something more potent than the combination of wet clothes and air conditioning. He feels like he's been holding his breath since Dom revealed he's in love with someone. Billy's stomach clenches and he pushes his forehead a little harder against the glass.
It hurts because he knows it's not him. Dom has shown a bit of interest from time to time, it's true, but most of it has been so subtle that Billy's half-convinced he imagined it. The rest is so blatant that it's obviously in jest. Dom never pursued anything more than the close friendship and camaraderie they share. No, it isn't him Dom loves. He wishes it was. He's imagined it so many times, telling himself he shouldn't, but doing it anyway.
They'll be sitting around, just hanging out together, maybe watching a movie, maybe just drinking, like they do all the time. It won't be anything special, certainly nothing like a date. It won't have to be. Dom will lean over, laughing about something, just a little too closely, and Billy will turn to say something, but it will die on his lips because Dom will be right there. Dom will cross that small distance between their lips, or maybe Billy will, or maybe they'll move for each other at the same time, but somehow they'll be kissing, deep and easy, a natural extension the bond they've developed since filming began.
Then Dom will pull back, smiling bigger than Billy's ever seen, and laugh just because he's happy and say something like, 'Why did we wait so long?' Then he'll lean in again, shifting into a more secure position, hand coming up to cup Billy's jaw. They'll kiss, lips and tongue and the dull scratch of stubble all coalescing into something much, much more ...
"Billy," Dom says.
Billy startles and sees that they're at his house. He climbs out of the car and follows Dom inside. Dom doesn't quite look at him as they peel off their soaked jackets. He walks away toward the spare room he occupies more often than not in Billy's house. His mobile jingles and Billy hears the quiet murmur of his greeting before he is out of sight. He never looks back.
Billy leans against the front door and rubs an unsteady hand over his eyes. It's only a few short hours until morning, but somehow it feels like it's going to be a very long night.
When Dom starts to talk to him that morning, Billy's so surprised that he almost spills his tea all over the girl who's kneeling in front of them to glue on their feet. He wasn't sure Dom would be willing to speak to him at all, but Dom seems intent on discussing this until they agree, which might have annoyed Billy any other day, but at the moment only makes him feel relieved.
The determination to come to a consensus, however, does not necessarily mean that a consensus will be reached. They go round and round and round all morning as they hide from the rain under the canvas tent. For hours they go back and forth with all the same arguments presented last night, although far more eloquently on Dom's part now that he's completely sober.
The argument forms its own kind of rhythm, a steady movement without end so that Billy imagines that instead of years or months or seasons, time could be kept in their cyclic pattern of words, flowing from, 'They will get hurt,' and on into, 'You can't tell them what to do,' and then looping back again.
So far they've stayed well away from the explosive end of last night's conversation, but Billy can feel it looming, drawing ever closer, and about lunch time he pushes Dom perhaps a little harder than he should to bring it out into the open. He tells himself that he's just sick of avoiding it - which is true - but in actuality, he just wants to find out more about Dom being in love and answer some of the questions that have been running through his brain since last night.
He doesn't even remember what he says, after. It's something sharp and well-aimed no doubt, and it causes Dom to flinch back, but the memory pales against what happens next.
"Fine," Dom hisses, conscious of keeping his voice down even in his evident anger. "Let's cut the crap. We're not going in circles like this because we disagree, but because you're lying about the real reason you don't want Elijah and Orlando together. It has nothing to do with how naive Elijah is or how flighty Orlando is or how young they both are. It has to do with you and your fears. You've been burnt before and now you don't think that any relationship is worth the risk.
You're playing the mature one, giving Orlando advice with complete altruism, bossing Elijah around with complete concern, but all you're doing is imposing your fears on their lives. You're scaredshitless, and it's screwing over everyone, but you know who's getting the worst of it? You. Because you're completely in love with me and won't do a damn thing about it. You're so trapped by this fear that you can't even see how much I want you back. You can't see how happy Elijah and Orlando make each other. And I'm tired of trying to open your eyes, trying to get you to live again. I'm done. So you can think whatever you want, but you will stop interfering and let both of them make their own decisions."
Then Dom twists violently away until he's facing the side of the tent. Billy's mind is screaming for him to protest right now, to hurry and tell Dom how wrong he is about everything, but his lips are too numb to speak. He doesn't know if he can lie like that anyway, so he subsides.
He feels raw and wounded and turns away himself, unwilling to give Dom a chance to add anything else, not that that's likely. Dom said he was done. Done with Billy. He's ruined the best thing that's happened to him in years, pushed away the closest friend he has, the man he loves, who just admitted to wanting him in return.
The weight of his tangled emotions is immense and he sags down into his chair, wondering how to fix the breach between them. It seems impossible. Only silence remains, dead silence, as even the steady tapping of the rain slows to a stop.
Billy always thought that wisdom comes with age, but that is obviously not always the case. He has never felt so stupid or so old in his life.
Their tableau holds for quite a while until Billy feels Dom shift slightly. Billy looks up to see Orlando and Elijah sitting side by side in a couple of folding chairs a few meters away. Elijah's script is in his lap and Billy stares at it, at the drawing stapled to the front with the words 'Doodle the doodle' scrawled at the bottom. It's then that he begins to understand.
It isn't that he thinks he's wrong. He still believes he's right about the way that their relationship is going to fail and blow up in all of their faces, but he also remembers Orlando's goofy smile as he drew that doodle and then presented it to Elijah with a flourish. He remembers the delight in Elijah's eyes and how he scoured the trailer for a stapler. He sees that maybe Dom's right, too. That they're both right. Dom isn't trying to say Orlando and Elijah will last, but that the happiness they have right now will be worth any amount of heartache in the future.
Dom nudges him gently and Billy looks up into an expression that is pure Merry and pure mischief. He slips seamlessly into character and smirks back, feeling like he's floating because Pippin is so much lighter than he is right now.
Merry starts looking everywhere but at the pair sitting across from them, at the sky, picking at a stray thread of his breeches, and Pippin catches on quickly, rubbing his chin as if in thought and then sighing loudly. He looks up when he feels Orlando's gaze, smiling and waving and then turning away again.
He glances around the set. Everyone is in their element, doing what they're meant to do. Dom nudges him a second time to let him know Elijah and Orlando are watching and they really throw themselves into the game, whistling and stretching and looking everywhere but at the hobbit and elf, and Billy can feel a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Dom points suddenly, laughing. Billy sees Elijah holding up his script to hide what is obviously a kiss and Billy bursts out laughing, too. Elijah and Orlando reappear. Orlando is wide-eyed and blushing and Elijah looks smug.
Billy watches with opened eyes and it's the final thing he needs to see. He gives it up, all the weight and fear and knowledge, lets everything slide away until he feels almost dizzy. He laughs because he is happy and when Dom tentatively captures one hand in his, Billy squeezes back because it feels good.
He doesn't know how long this will last, but for this moment at least, it's amazing to once again feel young.
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