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TITLE: The Crumbling Sun
AUTHOR: Azrhiaz (email)
ORIGINAL STORY: Te Anau by buffett.
PAIRING: Sean Astin/Elijah Wood
DISCLAIMER: The author does not claim any part of the events or emotions described in this story actually happened. Moreover, it is based upon the work of another author.


It is everywhere now, in slivers,
in shards, in chips and coils; chunks
of it roll down the hills, and into
streams it falls with a hiss of a thousand
snakes. I find it in my hair, under
my fingernails, on my belly, between
my legs. It slides under my pillow
and like oil surfaces on the top of
milk and water. I breathe in its
flowers and feel the roots of it in
my lungs, burning out the blood
and oxygen. Soon I shall be the sun
itself, and about me shall grow new
worlds, myself the crumbling sun, setting
right the galaxies. I am imperator
and fixed abomination.

-- Ned O'Gorman

1. Burning Out the Blood

Sean can't believe he's doing this.

He stomps down the hall, ducking his head into the cabin's bedrooms -- Elijah's first, and no, of course he isn't there, far too easy -- then Dom's, then Billy's. Each time he comes up empty, finding only neatly tucked blankets (Elijah) and rumpled piles of clothing (Dom and Billy). Dom and Billy have gone out with Orli for a beer -- domandbilly, he thinks automatically, running them together into a single word/entity -- but clearly Elijah thought their rooms would be too obvious. Right, then. Sean tracks up the stairs, beeline for Orli's room, probably also too obvious a place for someone likely cheating on a bet to hide. But he can't help it, has to check.

It isn't going to be the end of the world if ten o'clock p.m. rolls around and he hasn't caught Elijah smoking. He's got an hour yet. And yet, somehow, it will be.

And this is all for his own good, Sean tells himself as he swings Orli's door open, sees a mess of such galactic proportions he can't help but shudder -- but no Elijah; it's all because Elijah shouldn't be smoking a pack of Marlboros a day. Every time Elijah lights up, Sean pictures oily black smoke coating virginal lungs, sticky cancerous tarbaby and why oh why can't Elijah see that? It's just so very wrong, and Sean hates it, can't stand watching the wet pucker of cupid lips on filter, stubby fingers tight as Elijah's cheeks hollow with the deep pull.


He considers the other rooms of the cabin that's been rented for them in Te Anau. Sean Bean's across the hall from Orli, but his door is pulled shut, and through it Sean hears the faint strains of Deep Purple. Bean's obviously in; Sean can't picture Elijah listening to that in a million years.

That leaves the door at the end of the upstairs hall -- Viggo's. The door is shut, and Sean hesitates. He's only just met Viggo, doesn't want to give offense. But a flash of memory from that morning -- Elijah's face split apart in a Cheshire-cat grin -- and he's at the door. He knocks gently once, twice; no answer. No light under the door, either, and even though it's only been a couple of weeks, everyone knows Viggo's a night owl, given to wandering about at two a.m., keeping watch like Aragorn. So, armed with the knowledge that he isn't likely to be surprising a sleeping Viggo (and he probably sleeps nude, too springs unbidden to Sean's mind), he pushes the door open and steps inside.

The room is neat, if not crisp, books stacked about, several open. An empty camera case sits on the bed, old black leather open along worn hinges. Next to a half-finished cup of tea on the bedside table -- cold, Sean notes with a touch -- a volume of O'Gorman lies unfolded. Sean looks, can't help but look, although reading what Viggo is reading seems somehow more voyeuristic than just standing in his bedroom casting his eyes about. The title of a poem -- The Crumbling Sun -- stares up at him in charcoal typeface.

I breathe in its flowers jumps up at Sean, and he's breathing, yes, slightly harder for the trip up the stairs and he hates the extra weight he's forced to carry, it makes him bead sweat and long for his other body. The one that doesn't betray him with such startling regularity, clumsy slow tripping. He goes to the window, shoves it open, breathing out his irritation into the cool outside air.

Breathes in, not flowers, but bitter smoke.

Sean knows before he looks down, but his eyes confirm the truth of it quickly enough. Elijah's crouched down, stark contrast of black clothing with the impossibly cleanwhite snow, monochrome except for eyes that flash furtive blue. He looks around but doesn't stop, taking deep long drags in quick succession.

Sean doesn't speak, just watches Elijah smoke, waiting for the feeling of triumph to settle in.

It doesn't. The anger is still there, far too present and far too much of it, really, for the circumstances. But Sean knows that Elijah is still very much the child actor, for all that he pretends to worldliness. He delights in pushing people's buttons, lights up in the outpouring of attention that inevitably flashes his way. It isn't right, isn't how Sean ever acted, even when he was a child. Sean would never think of being so manipulative, but he certainly recognizes it. And Elijah's good at it, just like he's good at everything else. Effortless.

Sean breathes out, but the irritation stays. It hasn't left him since that morning, when the reek of tobacco clinging to Elijah had interrupted Sean's breakfast reverie. Elijah had shuffled into the kitchen, hair still askew but he'd certainly attended to his fix, first things first, and Sean suddenly thought he could taste a film of ash on his toast. Disgusting, and it made Sean mad. Mad enough to slip, and take the bait. He'd thrown it out there -- I bet you couldn't go a day without it. Hell, I bet you couldn't even go part of a day without it, from now until bedtime --but he hadn't expected the little twist-turn Elijah had dealt his words. Sharp glint in Elijah's eye, sensing blood, and he hadn't wanted a gentleman's bet, no stakes, like Sean had suggested. He pushed--

"That's no fun. How about . . . oooh, I know. You lose, you stand on the balcony in your boxers and recite the speech about One-Eyed Willy's treasure from The Goonies."

-- and Sean forgot the cardinal rule of dealing with Elijah, which was never give him anything to work with. He sputtered, off-balance from the fucking Goonies crack, and came up with "Suck my dick, Elijah."

Game, set, match. Elijah's grin had nearly split his face in two. "Okay. If you win, I will. But if you lose, you suck mine."

Slip, indeed, and Sean had only been able to open his mouth, stunned…while the thought of Elijah's lips wet pink lips stretchsliding, perfect sweet o around him, had pulled the blood from his face and sent it to his groin in a hot rush. The moment stretched out, past awkward and on towards something else, and Elijah had practically purred, eyes glittering with the thrill of it, and Sean was about to say something -- anything to break the moment apart -- when Viggo walked into the kitchen. Elijah had turned his smile to Viggo then, who'd returned it shyly, morning-quiet as he set about finding breakfast, and Sean closed his mouth, the chance lost. Elijah had slid past Sean, slid out into his day and away from Sean. They shot separately all day, and there was no chance for Sean to call things off. Back at the cabin that evening Billy had invited Sean out, but Sean had checked his watch -- eight o'clock -- and declined. Two hours left to find Elijah, who seemed bent on avoiding Sean. To stop this madness.

And he's found him, all right. Not quite the way he'd planned, nice neat oh, never mind the bet discussion and he'd buy Elijah a beer and they would laugh and forget the whole thing. No, he's caught him out, and won the bet. All right, well…Sean thinks the next best thing to do is to let Elijah know he's busted, but insist that it was a gentleman's bet all along. After all, he'd never agreed to the terms, exactly. No, Viggo had seen to that. He'd left it hanging. The thought is obscurely comforting.

All there is to do now is say something, let Elijah know he's been seen. But Sean stops. Watches Elijah smoke, deep drags and then the push out, his face screwed up in concentration as he formulates the creation of each imperfect smoke ring, tongue and lips working. It's obvious he's been out here a while, the scattered butts bear testament to that. His exposed skin has started to flush pink in the crisp air, and Elijah's pulled his sleeves down until only the stubby tips of his fingers show. When he takes a drag sometimes they brush his lips, and somehow that's the worst part, watching that, as they linger flesh to flesh, Elijah's expression thoughtful.

Sean's thinking, too. This has to stop, and then there's no more thought, there's just the automatic scraping of his hands on the windowsill and he packs the snow into a loose ball. Throws it at Elijah and it connects, shattering apart in a cold white shock and Elijah jerks, his head snaps up and his hand snaps down, vain attempt to hide the cigarette, smoke curling upwards from behind his thigh.

Flash of brighter white and Sean blinks, Elijah's expression seared in negative behind his eyelids, sharp appraising glance that hints of something else Sean can't quite name. The flash is Viggo, of course; Sean realizes that at once, puts together the empty camera case and the many pictures Viggo's been taking all week. He doesn't quite know what to make of Viggo yet, and this is just another of his quirks -- Sean's guessing there are quite a few more he hasn't seen yet -- an odd way of getting to know everyone. It's unsettling, and Sean's on edge already. When the spots fade and Sean can see again he sees Elijah smiling up at him. Sees the saucy little wave of fingers, cigarette tucked between. Realizes that, once again, Elijah's fucking with him, and that's too much. Sean suddenly needs to get away, away from taunting blue eyes. He pulls the window down and bolts into the hallway, finally exhaling when he sees that Viggo's not standing there, waiting to confront him about the intrusion. Sean guesses that he's in Sean Bean's room, hopes that he didn't see where the snowball came from.

Doesn't matter. Sean will think of something to say to Viggo later, just in case. Right now, the important thing is avoiding Elijah. Sean makes a beeline for his bedroom and shuts the door. Decides an early bedtime is just the ticket.

The thought comes back to him as he's brushing his teeth, he's fucking with me, and it's still irritating; Sean tells himself that tomorrow things will be back to normal, Elijah once more nothing but an annoying little brother, all elbows and overenthusiastic butting-in.

Sean isn't a very good liar, even to himself.

He begins to suspect that it might be a bit more complicated than that when, lying in bed, the image of Elijah smoking keeps popping unbidden into his mind. He tries to push it away and fails, the sharp contrast of square jaw and delicately curved lips, messy-wet as they clamp around the filter, oh so perfectly obscene --

-- Sean aches. He shifts, and the realization that he's hard would really be fucking disturbing, but he's not going to look at that one too closely, no. Instead he slides his hand under the sheets and changes the mental movie. Something with a more feminine feel, Mr. Projectionist, if you please. His hand moves slowly to the flickering thought of Christine's ass, perfect dip and curve of pale flesh, but he can't hold on to it. Tries again, increasing tempo to an old standby, Christie Brinkley on her knees.

Nothing. The image won't focus, and the tenuous connection between his cock and his brain fizzles out. He closes his eyes, and there's Elijah again, sucking on a cigarette, and his cock gives a little twitchthrob.

Sean takes his hand away. No, no, he thinks as he curls up on his side, miserable aching groan. It's hard to stop, but not as hard as Sean knows it would be to look Elijah in the eye in the morning, otherwise. And he refuses to do that.

Refuses to let Elijah see.

2. Setting Right the Galaxies

Viggo sees.

It's what he does, looking at the world in a slightly different fashion than other people. Other people tend to take things as they are on the surface. Viggo doesn't hold it against them. It's easier that way, after all, and besides -- he appreciates that it works to his advantage. They rarely see him, and rarely grasp that he's really looking.

Like now, listening with half an ear to Sean Bean as he discusses sword fighting. Viggo's looking out the window at rising plumes of smoke, nodding occasionally at the appropriate moments. He had thought to take Sean's picture, perhaps, use the last of the black and white film that's in the camera. But the more Sean talks, the more Viggo's impressions of him are at odds with the medium. Sean's bright and open, quick to laugh, and Viggo thinks of an unusually sunny day in the English countryside, color film to capture the lush greens and the mustardy fabric of a tweed jacket. His mind free-associates right along, and Sean morphs into a yellow dog, bounding over the heath. Yes, that's it, exactly.

Viggo smiles slightly at putting his finger on it. He's taken to thinking of his cast-mates in terms of canines; for the moment, it's his favorite metaphor. He finds it very useful to apply metaphor judiciously. It helps you see. Only just yesterday he'd decided that Dom was a Boxer, playful high-spirited clown. Intelligent and affectionate for certain, but he really should quit jumping up on people. He'd nearly knocked Viggo over in the hallway, but then he'd licked the side of Viggo's face -- how bizarrely appropriate -- and Viggo forgave him.

Sean's still talking, but Viggo's forgotten to nod, his camera now in hand, and Sean looks out the window, curious to see what's claimed his attention. He doesn't bother talking anymore, knows Viggo's not listening. Doesn't bother getting offended, either. He hasn't known Viggo long, but they fit together rather well. Sean's getting the hang of this.

Viggo leans out further, and then he sees him. The puppy. Elijah, all sharp milk teeth and restless energy. He's smoking, somehow managing to radiate motion even as he crouches still against the snow. Suddenly it clicks into place. Weimaraner. Elijah's eyes flash blue, darting, looking for something, and Viggo thinks yes, blue. Spooky and chill, and he wonders if what's behind the eyes is as cold, or if the puppy just doesn't realize yet that his bites can hurt.

He saw those teeth earlier that morning as he wandered into the kitchen and into the middle of…something. Sean's face had been somewhere between shock and outrage, and Elijah's, well. Teeth sinking in triumphantly, shaking hard, pure sweet glee at Sean's consternation until he turned that smile to Viggo, shifted it into something more socially presentable.

But not before Viggo saw.

Viggo waits, now, and he can hear Sean breathing quietly beside him, waiting too. He raises the camera, fixing Elijah in the viewfinder. Waits, breathing, as Elijah's lashes flutter down against his cheeks, eyes closing as he pulls in the smoke, obviously savoring it. Viggo nearly presses the shutter; the spill of dark lashes on Elijah's cheek is beautiful, really beautiful, and Viggo's mildly surprised at his reaction. But in the end he pauses, knows he'll only get one shot before the flash gives him away, and he wants to capture those eyes on film. Open to the winter air.

Suddenly there's a burst of white and it powders apart, crumbling snow coating the spiky hair, and puppy-Elijah swivels his face up, looking with sharp eyes for the source, and Viggo doesn't have to think to take the picture, he just does. Freezes the moment into the dark sharp slash of brow and shrewd inquiry, crisp and perfect, Elijah centered and gravitational.

"Did you get it?" Sean's voice, quietly amused.

"Yes," Viggo agrees, a touch of a smile on his own face as he lowers the camera. He doesn't need to see who threw the snowball to essay a guess.

Viggo thinks of bloodhounds, and, inexplicably, of stars.

3. Imperator and Fixed Abomination

Elijah's cold.

With every deep inhale he has to suppress a shiver. The air bites at his skin, but he isn't sure if that's the only thing drawing gooseflesh up his arms. The sweet, sweet nicotine is racing through his bloodstream now, and Elijah can't get enough of it. He'd never admit it to Sean, but going all day without a cigarette was hell. He's making up for it now, crawling back up through purgatory and into a cool, floating heaven, his heart contracting in the delicious settling calm.

Still, he could have made it. But then he decided that winning wasn't the point anymore.

It isn't that Elijah likes to see Sean pissed off, exactly. No, Sean's a great guy, always looking out for him, big brother-friend sort of thing and that's fine, but…he doesn't know when to stop. He gets concerned about Elijah, yes, that's Sean's word, concerned, and then it edges into being more about neurotic mother-henning than about friendship. Elijah's already got a mother and doesn't particularly feel the need for another one. Especially not one who sounds so high-horse condescending.

No, Elijah's sick of that. Fortunately, he's good at de-horsing Sean.

Which is why he'd chosen to bring up The Goonies. Time was he wouldn't have resorted to such a low blow, but then Sean just had to go and tell Peter, in excruciating Coppertone-baby agonizing ohdeargodyoudidn't detail, all about Elijah's ass-baring scene in North. After that, Elijah feels justified in adding The Goonies to his arsenal. It also has the added attraction of being very effective at shutting Sean up when he's off on a tear about, well, whatever. Elijah's smoking or his swearing or any of his other perceived faults just can't compete with the flush of pure red embarrassment that creeps up Sean's face at the merest mention of Mikey. Elijah finds it very gratifying.

It had certainly worked that morning. Elijah had woken up second -- he's never first, that's always Sean -- and had listened to the sounds of Sean brushing his teeth thoroughly while he slipped outside for a quick morning cigarette, hurried inhalations in the too-cold air. The sky was flat, slate-grey promise of snow, and Elijah finished off his cigarette with a shiver and ducked gratefully back inside. Headed for the warm kitchen, breathing in the heady aroma of coffee that Sean had brewed, and all in all it was a glorious beginning to the day.

Until Sean started, that is.

"Jesus, Lij, a wake-up smoke? That's disgusting. Are you that addicted?" Sean asked from his perch at the old wooden table, orange juice and toast and coffee and newspaper laid out just so.

The first little sliver of irritation crept under Elijah's skin. Oh, here we go. This again. He looked at Sean -- managed to keep from rolling his eyes, but just barely.

"No, I just like it. It's soothing." Elijah poured a cup of coffee and it smelled perfect, but now that was irritating, too. He dumped in enough sugar to ruin it, stirred it with a loud metallic jangle of the spoon.

Sean couldn't let it go. "I bet you couldn't go a day without it. Hell, I bet you couldn't even go part of a day without it, from now until bedtime."

More slivers, and the stingburn of them ate at Elijah's calm, chipped away at his lovely nicotine buzz, and suddenly Elijah knew just how to get Sean off his back. Enough fucking nagging. He sipped his coffee, his jaw clenching at the sweetness.

"Bedtime?" Elijah asked slowly, warming to the task. "Fine, let's say 10 o'clock tonight. What do you want to bet?"

Sean shifted in his seat, pushed his plate of toast away. "Just a gentleman's bet. No stakes."

Oh, really, Elijah thought, and went for old reliable. "That's no fun. How about…oooh, I know. You lose, you stand on the balcony in your boxers and recite the speech about One-Eyed Willy's treasure from The Goonies."

There it was, then, the blossoming flush and Sean's mouth dropped open and Elijah had him, knew he had him by the glittering pissed-off set of his eyes, and that was sweeter than the damn coffee by far.

"Suck my dick, Elijah." Short angry burst of words, and Sean pushed away from the table, although he didn't get up.

Oh, fuck yeah. Way, way too easy, and now Elijah couldn't keep the grin off his face.

"Okay. If you win, I will. But if you lose, you suck mine."

The flush spread to Sean's ears as Elijah watched, fascinated. Wondered if Sean was going to have an aneurysm, a coronary, or possibly both at once. A nasty little sweetwarm thrill curled in Elijah's stomach as he waited, arms crossed, for Sean's comeback to that.

It never came. Sean gaped, frozen, and Elijah failed again in his half-hearted effort to stop grinning.

That's how Viggo found them, set in a strange tableau, and Elijah reluctantly let the moment go. Then he had set off about the all-too-easy business of avoiding Sean for the remainder of the day. Sean's predictability made it like shooting fish in a barrel. Not really sporting, when you thought about it, but Elijah didn't mind.

Yes, Elijah thought, watching Sean choke had been very enjoyable indeed. The bet is also immensely gratifying so far. Elijah's managed to shut Sean up, shut him up big time and even better, he's realized that now Sean's completely and utterly off-balance. So, yes, he could have made it a little longer without his second-favorite drug coursing through his system. But with the question of payment unresolved, Elijah knows that Sean will twist and squirm for days on end.

And that's the best drug of all.

Now he's a little nervous, waiting in the biting air, waiting for Sean to find him. Elijah knows it can't take much longer, not from the sound of Sean thundering around the cabin. He can hear Sean all the way out here, and tries not to fidget with the anticipation of it. To keep himself still he plots the best way to wring every agonizing drop of discomfort from Sean. He'll feign surprise, embarrassment -- oh, no, you found me! -- and then cue up the puppy dog eyes, and no one needs to tell Elijah how to work that. He won't bring up the bet, and Sean will fall for that, too, so ready to take up the sweet relief he won't see the glimmering wickedness cross Elijah's face.

Elijah will wait until Sean goes to bed, slips halfway down into the sleep of the nervously exhausted. Slip in, and under the covers, and he'll whisper in Sean's ear -- It's only fair -- you won, I lost, I've got to pay up -- and he'll inhale Sean's panicked scent like oxygen, acrid adrenaline but honey-sweet. He's caught whiffs of it before, and now he wants more.

Still, the waiting hangs in the cold air, long enough that Elijah has just started to think that maybe he's pushing things a bit too far.

He doesn't get to finish the thought, shocked into harsh readiness by the burst of icy wet on his scalp. It's reflex to jerk his head up and see Sean, no surprise there, and he doesn't have time to school his features for innocence.

White clear flash of light that half-blinds Elijah, but only by half. He can still see Sean's expression, heavy coating of disapproval, and any notion Elijah had of letting this go stops right there. He waves at Sean, openly brandishing the proof of his transgression with a syrupy smile to match.

Short red flash of horror across Sean's face that's over far too quickly for Elijah's taste as Sean retreats into the darkened bedroom.

Later, Elijah thinks as he grinds out the cigarette, and the thought warms him through.

Later, and Elijah's lying in his bed, listening through the paper-like wall to Sean go through his evening routine. Clothes folded and put in the hamper, the splash of face washing and brushing of teeth, and it's taking so long that Elijah's fairly crackling with impatience. Finally he hears bare feet padding back across the hardwood floor and then the creak of bedsprings. Still Elijah waits, doesn't want to show his hand too soon. The rustle of bed sheets slows, Sean getting comfortable, and Elijah counts his anticipatory heartbeats.

He's about to get up and go next door when the bedsprings begin to creak again, low and faintly rhythmic, and he can't be doing what it sounds like, can he? but then the creaking stops and Elijah exhales. Supposes that Sean couldn't have been, after all. Not as quickly as the sound fell away. Ten more long heartbeats, then fifteen, and Elijah's pulse is coming faster with the nervous thrill of it and he can't wait through any more silence. Gets up and creeps into Sean's room with cat-burglar feet.

In the dim moonlight from the window Elijah sees Sean. He's curled up on his side, facing away from Elijah, and his back rises and falls with slow regular breaths. Likely asleep, or nearly, and that's good. Everything is going according to plan. Four more steps and Elijah's at the bed. He picks up the heavy comforter and slips in next to Sean, spooning close against the warmth of his broad back. Slides his hand around to Sean's belly, warmer still, and whispers mock-brokenly into Sean's ear.

"I'm a man of my word, Sean. You got me. I'm here to pay my debt."

Elijah bites his lip and waits for the beautiful outburst.

It doesn't come. Instead, he hears a little groan that deargod sounds like "Lij" and Sean shifts, presses up and his cock is hard against Elijah's hand --

-- Sean? Elijah thinksblinks in a frozen shifting forever moment and the press comes again, two, three times of wet strain through the thin cotton of Sean's boxers and Elijah snaps out of it, snaps his hand away and the spell is broken, Sean scrambling as far away from Elijah's touch as the bed will allow and then he turns stunned hurt eyes to Elijah just as his elbow knocks the bedside table, sending a framed photo to the floor with a crash like discordant drums.

Elijah looks and it's not the anger he was expecting, not the shock he spent so long imagining and dreaming of; it's pure raw pain, and the scent coming off Sean is tinged with the bitter edge of betrayal, not sweet at all. Despite himself Elijah's eyes flick down, take in the sight of Sean's erection pushing against the sheet. Flick back up to see wet shimmer in Sean's eyes.

Maybe he was jerking off and I interrupted it, Elijah thinks, but even as he does he knows it's a lie. He sits up and manages to choke out a laugh, his voice breaking high across the fake corners of it.

"Kidding!" he says, the smile on his face less real than his laughter. "Man, your face! Ha! It's . . .whoo, boy." It sounds stilted but Elijah's desperate, searching frantically for the precise combination of words that will smooth Sean's features. Continues trying -- "That was…hee! Anyway, like you said, gentleman's bet. Shake on it," -- and holds out a hand in supplication. Prays that this time his skills will hold, and Sean will see nothing but innocence.

Sean's mouth shuts, at least, and he takes Elijah's hand slowly, although his eyes haven't changed and his laugh is weak. He pulls the sheet around him in a soft fabric mountain. Hides, and that spurs Elijah on again, he's talking in a spill of words, can't stop -- "Done! Ha. That's that, right mate? Hey," Elijah continues, bends over to pick up the fallen photo and barely manages not to cringe, the flat faces staring at him in accusation. "Here's your family, the picture fell. Bet you're missing them, huh? How's Alexandra, is she excited about getting fitted for her hobbit feet? Yeah?"

Elijah watches Sean's hands come up, slight tremble as he takes the photo and pulls it in tight to his chest and Elijah feels something sharp turn over in his. Sean nods, unable to speak, and Elijah can't bear the silence, begins backpedaling out of the room, and fills the awful emptiness with empty words. "Well, send them my love, kisses to both of them. I'm going to bed. No more smoking tonight, I promise, heh. G'night, now."

He pulls the door shut behind him and leans his forehead against it, closing his eyes when he hears Sean's weak "'night".

Elijah crawls back into his own bed, a thousand different thoughts clamoring for his attention, and he knows he's lying to himself again, but he's good at it, and if he thinks it enough, maybe it will make it true. He only interrupted Sean jacking off, that's all it was, just a natural end to a stressful day, and nothing at all to do with Elijah, whose name Sean most definitely did not say in a voice choked with want.

And then the lying voice slips, and Elijah closes his eyes in the dark, sees Sean's face choked with anger from earlier in the day, feels the little wet pulsing twitch of Sean's cock against the heel of his hand, and the air in the room isn't at all cold but Elijah shivers. Gooseflesh blossoms over his skin as warmth floods his groin, the delicious hot thrill of pissing Sean off relocating quite unexpectedly and Elijah flips onto his back, the movement catching his erection against the soft pull of the sheets.

His hand moves down automatically, quick squeeze sliding into four long strokes that burn pleasure like the sun and Elijah jerks his hand away, snaps his eyes open and tries to conjure other pictures on the dark canvas of the ceiling.

Pictures of a smiling woman and a laughing child with Sean's eyes.

It doesn't work. The image blurs and runs and Elijah sees the arch of Sean's back, his cock pulled forward as if by gravity into Elijah's hand.

God, I'm a pervert, Elijah thinks, and an asshole. He digs his fingers into the sheets, tries to ignore the aching throb. To think of anything but Sean's strong hands pressing him down.

From next door the creaking begins again, more muffled, deliberately furtive, and Elijah wavers.

Sean groans, and the sound seems to vibrate through the wall and into Elijah and he loses the struggle. Closes his eyes and slips his hand back down under the sheets, inexorable motion, until stars burst cold and quiet behind his eyes.

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