LOTRIPS Remix Home | 2008 Remix Listing
Disclaimer: This is a non-commercial, non-profit work of fiction under the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged or condoned by the persons whose names are used without permission.


Author: canciona
Original Story: Below Eye Level by lavitanuova
Pairing: Dom/Billy
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Maybe Billy will finally tell Dom what's wrong.
Post-reveal Notes: Unspeakably huge thanks to tigertale7 for the phenomenal speed beta, once again, and to msilverstar and feelforfaith for all their hard work.


Dom hated waking up in Billy's bed alone. Then again, he would probably have hated waking up in anyone's bed alone this morning when he'd had an entirely willing (redheaded, curvy, hot) would-be bedpartner who was literally his for the taking -- and a somewhat less-willing (ginger-haired, irritable, but in his own way hot, Dom could admit with a self-conscious flush) actual bedpartner -- at his disposal last night. Not that that'd gone well. He'd ended up leaving the redhead pouting at the bar when he realised Billy had left without him. And when he'd got here -- what had he expected? That Billy would roll over and say I was hoping you'd follow...now come shag me into next week? Not that he wanted that, of course.

He flopped over with a sigh, then grabbed his head with both hands as the full sum of his night's imbibing launched a sudden and merciless attack on his head and stomach in brutal retaliation for the ill-advised movement. His belly lurched with alarming enthusiasm as he rose (alright, fell) from the bed and stumbled toward the bathroom door. It wasn't until he was straightening gingerly to look at himself in the mirror, wiping away the unfortunate remnants of his morning-after penance, that he realised the demonically incessant shrilling in his head was actually coming from the general direction of the kitchen. He rinsed his mouth, washed his hands, thought about brushing his teeth but decided it could wait until he either silenced the shrieking teapot or lobotomised himself with a butter knife, and then staggered back to the bedroom to rifle through the dirty clothes strewn across Billy's floor for something that looked familiar. When he got to the kitchen -- fairly certain he wearing a pair of jeans that hadn't fit his mate since drama school -- Billy was, infuriatingly, stood at the stove in his pyjamas (shirtless, not that Dom noticed) gathering wool, completely unconscious of the infernal scream of the teapot and the cruel abuse it was wreaking on Dom.

"Make it stop." His groan sounded rusty, croaking and incredibly pained -- which is to say, exactly the way it felt. He grabbed the doorframe -- mainly to stop it moving on him -- and manoeuvered himself carefully into a chair at the kitchen table.

Billy looked on in amusement before finally quieting the offending pottery with a flick of his wrist. "Feeling a bit off this morning, are we?"

The smug little bastard was laughing at his pain, he was sure of it. He was only marginally appeased by the hot tea that appeared in front of him, and wasn't about to let on about that, in any case. It was the principle of the matter.

He glared at Bill, but the effort made his head pound with renewed fervor and his left eye feel as if it meant to jump out and run screaming if he didn't stop. "I've had six hours of sleep -- a record high for the week -- and my head feels as if someone is attacking it with a hammer that is been conveniently laced with electric current for maximum pain value. I need a shave, a shower and something very caffeinated to drink." He was rather pleased that he had got all of that out without it being accompanied by the remaining contents of his still-uneasy stomach. "I slept in my clothes" -- a lie, but he hoped Billy'd been too drunk or distracted last night to realise Dom'd been starkers when he climbed into his friend's bed -- "and I can't walk without my back hurting. Or look to the right," he added, sipping his tea carefully.

The effort of talking about his condition while actually in said condition was quickly becoming too much for him, though, and setting aside his teacup he let his muscles go limp with a heartfelt sigh. His head hit the surface of the table with a thud that would have been satisfying -- had it been any other object than Dom's head.

He wondered absently if he'd broken anything useful. Or spilled his tea. "Ow," he said, rather after the fact.

Billy was quiet for so long that Dom started to wonder if his friend had left. Again. But then again, he'd been quiet a lot lately. It was driving Dom crazy, the way his mate would just look at him, his expression unreadable, green eyes shuttered. His best friend, his partner-in-crime, his constant companion -- and Dom didn't have a bloody clue what was eating at him. Had he offended Billy in some way? Had he crossed a line (God knew he was good for that) and just not realised it? Had he really arsed things up between them somehow? The sick ache that knotted in his belly at the thought made a mockery of the mere abject misery of his hangover. He prayed he hadn't done some sort of irreparable damage to their friendship. He didn't want to -- couldn't -- think about that, not now.

He sighed quietly. Billy wouldn't talk about it, whatever was wrong. No matter if Dom asked him, point-blank. No matter if Dom got him drunk and tried to coax it from him. No matter if Dom got drunk and climbed into bed naked with him (it had seemed to make sense at the time, he just couldn't remember why now). Dom couldn't help but feel he was running out of options.

Sometimes he thought it might be that Billy fancied him. Which was silly, because Billy didn't fancy boys, Billy only fancied girls. He'd known that for ages -- regretted it a bit at the start perhaps, but he barely thought about it these days, really. Until Billy had started staring at him, his jaw set, his green eyes dark and inscrutable. Then he'd begun to wonder. And last night...last night he could've sworn it was jealousy of the redhead that made Billy leave the pub alone. That made him leave Dom alone.

He'd be okay with that, if it were true. He could be alright with his best mate having a wee crush on him, could even indulge him for a time and probably enjoy it, as he had no problem with boys himself. (His dick twitched sleepily at the thought.) It might be a little awkward, sure, but he knew Billy would grow out of it soon enough, and they'd be back to friends, to best mates, to Billy&Dom again. If it were true.

"Dom." It was all he could do not to flinch at the quiet sound of his mate's voice after the long silence. He stayed still, unsure whether Billy might not be more likely to talk to him this way, if they didn't make eye contact, if he thought Dom might be too miserable to defend himself (not too far from true), if it were somehow less embarrassing like this.

There was a pause, and then he felt Billy's warm hands settling on his tensed shoulders and starting to knead the stiffness away. It felt fantastic, really, like something he hadn't known he needed. A deep breath escaped him as he melted a little into the tabletop. Strong strokes pushing, pulling his muscles. The rhythm was lulling, enticing. He felt the pounding in his head start to ease, and a stirring of warmth curled low in his belly. He groaned as one thumb found a knot and circled harder. "Feels good," he mumbled, his face half-mashed into the table by the unexpected massage.

"I'm sorry, Dom."

He wondered if his friend had misheard him, and started to shift himself around to ask, only to feel Billy's fingers dig deeper into his loosening muscles, palms firm on his shoulder blades. Maybe not, then. He slouched back down, listening, his mind refocused on finding out what was bothering Billy.

"I'm all fucked up," his mate confessed, "and I'm afraid I'm fucking you up as well. Forgive me, Dommie?" The pet name seemed awkward, conciliatory...not like his Bills at all.

He sat up slowly -- Billy let him this time -- and turned to look at his friend. "Look, Bill..." His voice trailed off as he realised he had no idea what to say. Taking a deep breath, he plunged ahead anyway. "Look, I don't know what's going on with you and I wish you would share it with me, but if not, it's not a problem...but whatever it is, I don't like it, don't like what it's doing to you and if the price for helping you sort it out is a hangover and a sore back...then I think it's worth it, yeah?"

Billy grimaced. "Dom -- fuck. It's not..." He broke off with a shake of his head, unwilling or unable to continue, to tell Dom what was going on. Still.

"Billy...I don't know what to do, how to make you -- I don't know." Frustration seeped into his voice, mixing with helplessness. How could he make Billy see that whatever it was, he could tell him. If it was something he did, some way he'd fucked up...his throat worked unexpectedly at the thought and he pushed it aside with something near panic. Easier to think it was solvable, easier to think...maybe it was the attraction thing after all. Maybe. And maybe -- maybe he could at least rule that out? Dom took a deep breath, and fought to keep the nervous tremor from his voice. "Let me help you."

Before his nerve could falter, he pushed himself away from the table and stood. Billy stepped back in surprise, but Dom reached out and took his hand, fighting the thrill of...anxiety, concern perhaps...that shot through him at the reflexive curl of Billy's fingers around his own as he tugged his mate toward the door. For reasons he couldn't quite articulate even to himself, what he meant to do had to happen outside. It was...risky, scary, a little terrifying and he hadn't had his heart in his mouth over something like this for ages, but this was Billy and really, if he hadn't put his foot in it somehow already, was this really going to help things? The doubts kept bubbling up in his mind: Does Billy really want this? Will he ever speak to me again if he doesn't, if it's something else that's keeping him so quiet? Can I really go through eight more months of filming without him, without us , without Billy&Dom and...fuck, how can I face that? How did this thing between us get to the point where I can't imagine life without that...

The sound of the screen door banging gently shut behind them cut off Dom's panicked inner monologue. He stopped abruptly on the stoop and turned, but the movement was too sudden for Billy and they nearly collided, or -- did collide, but Billy didn't step back, he just stood there, his chest nearly pressed to Dom's, scant millimetres separating them, so close that Dom could feel Billy's breaths, in...out...in, hitch...out. Maybe...maybe. So close that he could see the pupils of his mate's eyes dilate as he leaned in. In, hitch-hitch...out-stutter-out. Was that Billy's breath or his own?

"Billy." His voice was rough, steady only by force of will. (Billy's eyes were dark, darker than he'd ever seen them, fixed on Dom's own, his gaze unwavering, questions and answers written in the darkness.) Dom swallowed hard. "You gotta tell me if this...if it isn't..."

And he was the one who couldn't talk then, couldn't articulate what was wrong (what was right) because Billy was staring at his mouth and his heart leaped unexpectedly and he didn't think he'd ever got that hard that fast, he was almost dizzy from the hot rush of it and yes, Billy wants this was all he could think and he wasn't sure if it was the thought or the dizziness that tipped him closer, closer until his mouth fit over Billy's (perfectly, like he always thought it would). His lips pushed at Billy's, gently, and then more firmly when they encountered no resistance, moving, savouring the velvety feel of his mate's mouth...of his tongue flicking out to taste. Not to be outdone, his own tongue snaked past Billy's lips, testing, lapping, tangling, sliding along Billy's. His hands were grasping his mate's biceps somehow, he didn't remember reaching, hadn't been conscious of anything but the press and slide of Billy mouth, his tongue...

With an effort that cost him more than he expected, he pulled back, his hands clenching for a second on Billy's arms before falling away. His breath was rapid, uneven, harsh, his heart pounding in his chest, his headache forgotten. Billy looked a little shell-shocked himself, cheeks flushed, lips parted, eyes glassy with surprise.

"Okay, Bill?" He meant it be casual, but his voice was thick and laced with tension. This was the moment, the moment he'd know, the moment Billy would tell him...

Billy's mouth closed and his jaw set, his eyes shuttered and distant once more as he regarded Dom in inscrutable silence. What the bloody hell was he thinking?

He stepped back, suddenly conscious of how near he stood, how far away Billy looked. His mate calmly sat down on the cement step. Maybe they were going to talk now, Dom thought. Maybe Billy would tell him one way or the other, maybe then he'd know if he'd truly fucked up, now or before... He wondered if he should sit down. "Billy?"

Billy didn't look up, and Dom's heart sunk hard and fast. He started to reach for his mate, not even knowing what he meant to do -- shake him, hit him, hug him? -- but he thought the better of it. Billy's posture was stiff and uninviting, not unlike the expression on his face.

He took another step back, tightness crowding his chest and throat. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. This was -- wrong.

"I have to -- I can't -- I mean, I didn't mean to -- to -- fuck, Billy. I -- I gotta go." The stuttered words tripped from his mouth even as his feet stumbled and twisted him away. Gotta go, gotta get away, I gotta go...no "maybe"...

He didn't remember getting to his car, didn't remember opening the door or digging the keys out of his trouser pocket. He thought he heard Billy's voice calling his name, but he couldn't stop, had to get away, couldn't stay and hear an explanation now, now that he could see he'd been wrong. Wrong about a lot of things, really.

Houses and trees slipped past as he sped down the street, blind and aching with unwelcome epiphanies. It wasn't Billy's desire, the realisation taunted him. It was mine. Mine all along, perhaps even mine that made Billy so remote. I wanted to think it was his, wanted to think I could be a mate and help him out. The arrogance and denial of that point of view stung him in a million places. In his pride. In his heart. "He'll get over it" he'd thought about Billy. Could he be as sure about himself? An attraction was one thing, but what he felt for Billy was...too complicated to be divided up into "crush", "friendship", "attraction"...even "love". He was only starting to realise just how complex and deeply-rooted his emotions were, the things he'd maybe seen in the beginning -- how well they fit together, inexplicably, as it they known each other forever. The way they could exchange a look and launch a prank, a comedic act, a scene so perfect it had to be scripted...without a word of planning. The million ways they'd matched from day one -- maybe he'd seen it then, but he'd buried it, hid it from himself, as if he could spare himself the almost-certain heartbreak of seeing it all come crashing down.

And what if this did ruin everything, what if it put an end to Billy&Dom? Sure, Billy had responded to the kiss, but the look on his face had said he didn't accept it, didn't want it to happen again. Maybe he'd be angry with Dom for kissing him, for forcing him to see that kissing a bloke wasn't so bad after all. Dom'd known plenty of men who would beat him bloody for forcing that sort of lesson on them. Billy didn't seem the sort, but lately he was starting to wonder if he knew Billy at all.

In his mind's eye he saw, like a reel of dailies, so many of the imperfect, unremarkable moments he thought he'd known his mate. Sitting together on a beach on the South Island after a rare free day spent surfing, watching a cloudy sunset, each with a beer in hand, neither speaking, both smiling. Dark rides to location in the early hours, Sean and Astin fighting over how loud the music should be, Billy snoring softly on his shoulder. The camping trip Viggo'd insisted on, and how they'd snuck up together on a sleeping Elijah and thrown him into the lake -- and then joined him when Bean and Viggo found out. The nights they'd stayed up talking about families, dreams, everything but what they meant to do after Rings wrapped; neither wanted to think of it ending.

Maybe he should have thought of that --

A loud, sudden, thudding impact interrupted his train of thought, and he realised belatedly that he'd stopped...very abruptly, in fact. And there seemed to be a telephone poll growing out of his bumper. He looked around, dazed. The street didn't look entirely familiar, he must've missed a turn...quite literally, it seemed. The road had curved and his car -- hadn't. He had a rattled, nonsensical notion that he could relate.

"You alright, mate?" There was an older man outside the car, looking concerned. Shaking off his daze, Dom hastened to reassure him.

He tried to convince the man that everything was fine, but the man ("call me Mike") was having none of it, and Dom was still shaken up enough to be glad for it when Mike sized up his car and took the situation in hand.

Twenty minutes later he was sat in a police station filling out forms, and Dave -- a retired mechanic, it seemed -- was the pleasantly surprised new owner of a "fixer-upper" car with a very large dent in the bumper and hood, and at least one wheel that would probably never turn the same way again. Dom felt a strange kinship to his car over that, actually, but the gift had made Dave happy and would've cost Dom more than a "new" car anyway.

He sighed and signed the last of the forms. The clerk took them from him, asking one more time if he were alright. He supposed that was only natural given how bloody miserable he felt, but physically he was fine, and he said so -- the last bit, anyway. No need to share his misery with anyone but himself...and Billy.

Collapsing onto a bench, he fished out his mobile, staring at it for several minutes, reviewing everything that had happened -- and hadn't happened -- since he woke up. With a weary sigh, he thumbed in the number he dialed more than any other, wondering if the car wreck yet to come wouldn't be by far the worst that day.

Billy's voice when he answered sounded strained, though it wasn't as if Dom could blame him. To Dom's surprise, Billy didn't even ask why, just agreed to come get him from the station. Thank God for small favours.

Fifteen minutes later, however, his reprieve was at an end. Billy looked as if he weren't sure whether to be furious or worried, and Dom thought he should probably be glad there was even a question. "Dom...what happened?"

He'd had fifteen minutes to figure out how to handle this, and lying through his teeth still seemed like the best of his unattractive options. "Uh, nothing. I...got a flat. Ran over some broken glass or something, no big deal." He was babbling and he knew it. "The car's fine, just -- um, it's around the corner." Half right, and only if Billy didn't ask which corner, exactly. (There were an awful lot in Wellington, after all.)

Luckily, Billy didn't seem concerned about the details of the alleged flat. "You shouldn't have left in such a hurry, you know."

Hurry? It hadn't seemed like much of a hurry to him, not the long minutes he was trying to get his best mate to talk to him, to reassure him that he hadn't just buggered everything up so spectacularly that they might not recover...

"Didn't...didn't think you'd want me to stay." His voice sounded choked to his own ears. His chest felt tight and he wished suddenly, wildly that he could run away.

Billy shook his head. "Don't fucking know what I want." Well. That was something, Dom thought in surprise. The tightness in his chest eased ever so slightly, and then a little more as his mate continued, looking somewhat embarrassed. "Maybe you could, ah, help me with that?"

He opened his mouth to reply -- he wasn't even sure with what -- but was interrupted by the clerk, telling him he could go, and that the report would be filed the following week.

He mumbled a quick thanks, and dragged Billy outside for the second time that day, avoiding his friend's skeptical glance. He hadn't fooled Billy for an instant, and he knew it. It wasn't like he could pull one over on his best mate, and he ended up spilling the story in jerky fragments on the way home. Mostly he was just thankful to have a reprieve from the conversation he wanted to avoid almost as much as he wanted to have.

Billy was silent as he pulled into his driveway, and Dom suddenly wondered if this changed anything at all. He followed his mate out of the car slowly, dreading what would happen next.

It cooler than it had been that morning, he noticed -- maybe a storm coming in. The sky was grey now, and the grass was that vibrant green that you only see when the sun is in hiding. He shivered.

Billy stopped on the walk and looked at him. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"I'm fine." It occurred to him suddenly that they were standing nearly at the scene of the crime, and a tendril of panic grabbed at him.

"Fuck, Dom..."

"I thought you were jealous." He hadn't planned to blurt it out, but there it was. Maybe it was better just to get it all over with.


Fuck. No going back now. "I thought you were upset that I went with that redheaded bird last night. That's why I came back," he mumbled, feeling foolish for saying it, for thinking it. She wasn't you. It was the real reason, though he hadn't known it then...

"I was."

Dom blinked. Maybe he hadn't understood. "And that you were angry that I showed up," he continued slowly.

"I was."

He took a deep breath. "I thought you wanted me to kiss you."

"I did." Billy's voice was calm, but his eyes were focused on something behind Dom.

"Then what the fuck, Billy?" He wanted to be angry, but the words came out rushed and fragile and tense, with a thread of desperation that made him want to cringe. "You're my best mate, I don't want to fuck that up. Is there something here, or not?"

Billy looked at him finally, really looked at him, and Dom's heart stopped. Indecision, confusion, doubt...the staggering range of emotion he'd only just discovered in himself was written in his mate's eyes, and strangely enough, it hurt him to see. His own hurt had seemed so brutal to him a moment earlier -- but seeing Billy going through the same bewildered, panicked ordeal was worse somehow, like his own pain magnified in stark detail. He ached with it, wanted to take it all back, say it was all a mistake. Wanted to believe it was.

And then Billy leaned in and kissed him, hard, all of his frustration and need, confusion and tenderness poured into it, letting him feel all of the heat and want and longing behind it. Finding it all mirrored in Dom.

Maybe not such a mistake after all, Dom thought dazedly, his fingers clenching and unclenching in Billy's shirt as he groaned into his mate's mouth.

They were both gasping a little when Billy finally pulled away. His mate's eyes were dark and serious, his mouth swollen and tempting, and it took real effort for Dom to concentrate on his words. "I'm sorry, Dom. Forgive me?"

A goofy, relieved, happy smile pulled at Dom's lips. Like he could do anything else now. "I suppose." He laughed as Billy pulled him toward the house, both of them eager and clumsy, stumbling on the step, fumbling with the door.

There was no promise of happily ever after, no assurance that they would come out of this together or unscathed, he knew. An awful lot of maybes. But they were going in together. Billy&Dom.


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