"Bean's a loss, then."
Elijah's brows screwed up in a display of such drunken seriousness it really wouldn't do to laugh at him, so Orlando bit the inside of his cheek instead. "Yeah. Too straight. Like Billy, or Sean. The other Sean, I mean. Yeah."
"I'll give you Sean, but Billy? I think it could happen. I could do it, at any rate."
"No," Elijah said, flat disbelief.
"Of course." He stretched out the words, mocking. Elijah may have liked his neat little boxes to fit people into, but Orlando considered flexibility a virtue.
"No, I just..." A shrug of his shoulders that seemed to flow into his hand hefting the bottle to his mouth again, long swallow, before he held out the bottle to Orlando. "No way. I just don't see it."
"I could." Orlando grinned, took a pull himself. "I could do it." He could prove Elijah wrong.
"You're fucking crazy, you know that?"
He was a lot more sober, the next morning. Also, in a lot more pain.
But he remembered what he'd said.
He remembered meeting Billy in Heathrow as well. He'd had no idea what to expect, other than Scottish, which he'd been told, and short, which he figured would be necessary for a Hobbit. He'd been a bit anxious, but then someone had said, "You must be an Elf," directly behind him, and the accent was distinctly Scottish. He'd turned and that someone had been rather short, though not Hobbit-sized, not really, and he'd been so relieved that he'd half-yelled Billy's name before hugging him. Billy'd hugged him back. It'd been a relief, that. He could have been a bastard, but anyone willing to hug a complete stranger was someone Orlando could do well with.
It wasn't until they'd taken off that Billy'd mentioned that it was his birthday, and, well, that could hardly be allowed to pass without celebration, right? So he'd flagged down a stewardess and gotten champagne.
The miracle of time zones had allowed for a second celebration after their stopover in LA. Then the champagne had gotten to him and the next thing he remembered Billy was shaking him awake. He'd started to apologize, because he'd been leaning on Billy, but Billy'd told him to be quiet. Orlando had been puzzled, but a couple minutes later, the captain came over the PA and announced they were flying over the International Date Line.
It had been cool. And he'd been happy not to miss it.
He'd been happy to wake up on Billy.
He wouldn't mind having the experience again, sometime.
Elijah was right. He really was fucking crazy.
Billy made him work hard; he had to keep thinking to survive their conversations. If nothing else, he had to be sharp just to keep up with Billy's sense of humor and it'd be a shame to miss out on that.
And Billy knew a lot of things, odd little bits of accumulated knowledge that he dropped into conversation. He was quite well read, which he would joke was only from working in the bindery, but Orlando envied it, having never been much for reading himself. It was nice to have someone who expected him to be more than just pretty. He'd spent his life getting away with prettiness and the challenge of someone who wouldn't let him get by on it was just something he couldn't turn down.
Sometimes, like today, Elijah would give him a knowing look when he was talking to Billy, but Orlando tried to ignore those. It wasn't about the bet. There wasn't a bet, not really, just a boast that he could, and he wasn't sure of that, really.
It wasn't a hardship to be around Billy. Maybe nothing would come of it. Sometimes it seemed close enough he could taste it though, like the night they'd sat on the beach behind his house and talked 'til the sun came up. Still, even if nothing did, it was good company. He enjoyed being around Billy.
He could live with that. He could. Really.
He thought he stood a chance. Even if he didn't, he was reasonably sure that Billy wouldn't laugh in his face for trying. Billy was nothing if not a decent person, he'd wait until after Orlando had left.
He didn't really think he'd be turned down, not after the smile earlier that day, when he'd been showing Billy how to use the bow. He'd gotten that smile before, he'd given it, and that smile was always a promise. At least he was reasonably sure it was that smile. It might have been some other smile, one that didn't promise anything. But staring at Billy's door all night wouldn't tell him what the smile meant.
He wasn't sent away.
They didn't tell anyone. It hadn't been anything they'd discussed, just the way things worked out. There was enough gossip going around the set as it was and Orlando didn't particularly care to add to it. He thought that Billy felt the same way. So things hadn't changed, at least not as far as anyone knew.
In a way it was the truth. Billy and Orlando were still friends. They still talked. They still drank together. They still surfed. It just happened that most nights they slept the same house and the same bed.
It was comfortable.
Billy was happy.
Orlando was happy.
"War is the father of all and the king of all." Only Billy would sit with a naked man between his legs doing his best to seduce him and still keep trying to play 'Name that Dead Philosopher.' Only Billy.
Not that it bothered Orlando. Trying to distract him was half the fun. And he really did need to distract him, because he had no clue who this one was. He slid his hand lower.
"You, um." There was a quick sound of air being drawn in next to his ear. "Your answer. You're trying to distract me."
There went that plan. Oh, hand. Nice hand. If he'd had a chance of figuring it out before, it was gone now, because Billy's hand was, mmm, there and he really couldn't be expected to think through that, could he?
"Is it working?" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Orlando Bloom, master conversationalist. He'll be here all week. Please try the chicken.
"Dunno," and how the hell did Billy sound calm? Can't have that. He pushed back, was rewarded with a gasp and quick nip to his shoulder. "Maybe you should, um. Check."
Orlando could do that. Easily. He squeezed a bit, felt Billy twitch in his hand. Then there was the sound of someone coming down the hall and, shit, the door was opening.
"Billy, guess what I just..." It would have to be Elijah. Shit. Elijah, who went from grinning to shocked before Orlando had pulled the sheet up. Elijah, whose eyes were flickering between Billy and Orlando like he was watching tennis on fast forward. Elijah, who could say the worst possible thing because he believed it, thought he understood, and he didn't.
Orlando had a friend who'd always sworn that all prayers were just a glorified way of saying please.
Then Elijah's eyes stopped flickering, stuck on Orlando's face, and he prayed that Elijah wouldn't say the wrong thing. Please. "Wow, I can't believe you actually went through with it. I mean, it was just..."
Like that. Elijah was still staring, eyes huge, and all Orlando could do was glare. Shit.
"I mean, um... Never mind." Elijah seemed almost normal now, but Orlando thought it was a little late for that.
"What did you go through with?" Billy's hand was moving over him, his voice soft.
"Uh, nothing." Ignore the hand. Be casual. You can do this, you aren't fucked, this isn't fucked beyond repair, come on Orlando. He kept his body relaxed only through pure force of will, leaned back into Billy. Forget this. Forget he said anything. Please, Billy, please.
"No, come on." Billy's hand tightened for one stroke, then loosened, and how the fuck could he get out of this mess? "I wanna know."
"Uh..." Please, Billy, please don't ask, don't say anything else. Please.
"It's about some challenge, right?" Orlando felt Billy's chuckle rumble in his chest, settling into an earthquake in Orlando's gut. "You can't resist a challenge. What was it? Something about me?"
Too much. It was all too much. Billy's hand and Billy's questions and shitfuckgoddamnit he tensed. He fucking tensed. Fuck.
Orlando was quiet. Billy was quiet. Elijah was quiet and pretending they weren't there.
Don't say anything, Billy, please. Let me explain. You don't understand.
Billy stiffened behind him.
"You wouldn't." Billy had never sounded like that before. Not hard, not cold.
The words piled up in Orlando's brain, got stuck in a mouth gone dry. He had to force them out, make Billy understand. "Billy..."
"You would." So cold. Billy pushed out from behind him, grabbing clothes and shoes, pushed past Elijah. Gone.
Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck. Why did... Why couldn't... Billy...
"Sorry," Elijah said softly.
He had to look at something, so he looked at his hands. Tried looking at Elijah, decided he liked his hands better. The silence drew out, stretched, before he said, "It wasn't."
"The first time."
But it was the last time.
Orlando knew this.
Orlando hated it.
It had never been about trying to prove anything. Not really.
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