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Title: Incomplete
Author: Pippin's Peach (pippinspeach @
Original Story: Indistinct by kaydeefalls
Pairing: SA/EW
Rating: PG
Summary: There's a line between actor and character. Sean's always known better than to cross it.
Notes: Written for Remix 2005. Mild bondage reference.

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.

* * * * *

"I don't want to make you face this world alone..."
"Incomplete," The Backstreet Boys, 2005.

* * * * *

Rocks shift under Sean's aching legs, making him wince. This is the hardest day they've had yet, and it's taking forever. Sean recognizes and admires Peter's drive, even identifies with it. Although he and Elijah are shivering, the wind doesn't matter, nor does the darkening mid-afternoon sky, nor do the all-too-real cuts and scratches on their arms or the brand new rips in their clothing. Better for the scene, after all.

As the two of them stand together, the words come automatically: won't be long's bound to let up. Usually when he says these things, Elijah smiles and nods. But today he's distant, preoccupied with something, and doesn't seem to want Sean's comfort.

Sean, from lifelong habit, backs off without being told.

His eyes, however, can't help following Elijah, who's making his way over to have a hot drink. It's easy to sense Elijah's mood, his lack of sleep the night before. Before he can stop himself, he's already coming up with excuses in case there's a mistake. Funny how he's found himself taking on the role of protector to someone who probably doesn't even need or want it. Even though he sometimes graciously pretends to.

Protector my ass, Sean thinks with a self-conscious wince. More like my usual co-dependent crap. He's had enough therapy to recognize it and put the brakes on. Which he does as he waits, picking lint off his Elven cloak.

When they re-convene for another take, Sean cracks a joke, but the words fall away unheard. It's Frodo in front of him now, and Elijah doesn't exist. The measured tones, the wise amusement, the longer touch resting on Sean's arm...all of it is completely familiar. Sean wishes he could do that, too: be Sam in the blink of an eye. Maybe then he could join in the improvisational games at the cast parties, or go on vacation and carry off entire days in character, like some of the others do for fun.

He knows better than to try, though. Honestly, it sort of frightens him. Too many family friends have warned him against it. Everyone's heard of how Vivien Leigh's life ended up, her mind falling into an old role from which she rarely emerged again. No, the way to handle this sort of career is to stay in the present, play the role, cash the checks and have a firm grasp on reality. With a shoot this long, it's been difficult at times, but manageable.

Because Sean's got that firm grasp on reality, and he's always been sure of where the line is drawn.

Besides, it all seems to be working out great. Sam's the role of a lifetime, and Sean has studied him at length. He knows Sam inside and out: what he would do in any given situation, how much he understands, and the depth of his devotion to Frodo. He loves how Sam's sheer force of goodness can shine a light into all the dark corners and overwhelm evil, no matter how strong.

Meanwhile, the sun's gone behind a cloud, and a short break is called. The two of them wait patiently together, no need to speak. Meanwhile, Sean's practiced eyes scan the shadows around Elijah's face. Out late last night, he thinks, and that explains the bloodshot eyes this morning. Not to mention the marks on his neck and wrists that the makeup girls giggled about.

Leave it alone, Sean scolds himself. Boundaries, remember those? Elijah's an adult. He knows what he's doing.

But does he? Sean can't decide. How much has Frodo taken hold of Elijah? Maybe if Sean could get him alone for real on this raw-edged mountainside, they could talk about it. Impossible, with all these cameras and crew members. Sean can see it, now that Elijah's talking to Peter and isn't aware he's being watched. It's all still there...Frodo's alienation, the raw ache of helplessness, the surrender. Perhaps last night was his way of seeing how that feels.

God, why can't I leave it alone? Sean wonders. He has the discomforting thought that Frodo could explain it to him. Perhaps he'd have some good advice. Frodo would understand how a certain laugh can brighten a whole day, or how sometimes it'd be so good to hold Elijah tight and keep him safe, or the way Sean likes the feeling he gets when Elijah goes into character and becomes so gently dominant.

Enough thinking, apparently, for they're starting again. Sean closes his eyes, feeling Elijah's shivering body beside his as he presses close. The air seems to thin around them, and Elijah goes ragged against Sean's shoulder, moaning in a way that cuts his heart in two. When he stumbles, Sean catches him without even thinking about it. Stay with it, Sean finds himself thinking. Trust me to catch you, Mr. Frodo. Breathe. Say what you need to say to me. And it all falls into place, flowing brilliantly, and at the end of it, those eyes look up at him, full of quiet acceptance and total peace.

A cut and a wrap, and moving on, and it's too close, this dance Sean's just done on the edge. Back off now, he warns himself. Be professional. Don't go any further down this road. He can't help a proud grin, though, as hot elation floods his body. Who wouldn't be proud? The scene was magic. But before he can say a word, Elijah turns away, refusing to meet his eyes.

All Sean can do is stand there, breathing lightly as he tries to untangle his cluttered thoughts. Time to calm down. If he takes a break now, goes off into the woods by himself, that will help. But he wants to talk about it with someone, preferably the person he shared it with. Because part of him recognizes a breakthrough in his acting...he's always thought he'd have to try so hard, but evidently not. Effortless, really, to do this, to be Sam.

And he gets it now, because it's Sam who burns with this elemental need to distract, to soothe, to hold close and chase all the demons away. It's Sam who would devote himself body and soul, no matter what anyone thought. It's Sam who could love so deeply, Sam who's meant to be with someone else, Sam whose life will go on after all this is over and be vaguely incomplete for reasons he can't put into words. Sam, not Sean.

Except...that's not entirely true.

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