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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.

Shores of Different Seas

Original Story: Tides by canciona
Pairing: Dom/Billy, Billy/Ali, Dom/Evi, others mentioned
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Dom wants New Zealand, and Billy. What he has is Hawaii. The Fellowship goes long distance.


December, Part I.

Sand that had been baking hot at noon is cool and soft under Dom's feet as he pads toward along the beach. There's no moon tonight, but he knows the path well enough to navigate by touch and starlight. He settles a few feet from the water's edge. Habit makes him look toward where New Zealand would be, if only he could see through the dark and across the miles. When he realizes what he's doing he salutes sloppily in that direction and turns back to face across the cove.

There's a cool breeze tonight. Oddly, it reminds him of home- his first home, where they sometimes went on weekend trips to the seaside. His memories are mostly of rocks and freezing cold, and of Matt always managing to dunk him when their parents weren't looking, but also of shrieking with laughter, running, bouncing in the seat on the way home.

He's not sure he'll ever be able to live inland. There's something about the ocean that makes him feel alive, like he's connected to the world around him. That was a feeling he'd needed desperately over the last few months. It's less essential now, but it's still good to come and listen to the waves, to remind himself that the turbulence of the last few months somehow led to him being here, sitting alone on the beach and smiling.

It was strange to think that what had caused all of this was getting extremely and inappropriately drunk on Jorge Garcia's sofa.


"I'm sorry," Dom said wretchedly, dragging the words out to give them more feeling.

"Sorry for what?" asked Jorge carefully. He had something of the deer-in-headlights look about him.

"Everything." Dom waved his arms to demonstrate. Then he thought of something, rather too late. He looked down. Thankfully, the bottle in his hand was empty. Hopefully it had been empty before he started gesturing.

"Everything?" repeated Jorge.

"Everything." Dom nodded. He seemed to have trouble stopping. "It's not fair. To you. I mean, I like you. I like you. You shouldn't have to put up with me drinking all your...your..." he floundered. "Your drinks, and...staying too late and not being any fun. This isn't me."

He peered at Jorge for signs of comprehension. There appeared to be more of him than usual, or maybe it was just one of him that was having a lot of trouble staying in the same place.

"It's not me," he said again. "I'm not like this, and I hate it. I'm a good mate. I don't want you to...to have to put up with me. I don't want to be miserable and lonely all the time. I want to want to...to want to be in Hawaii, not in New Zealand." He sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. "I'm funny, you know. I used to be funny."

"So I've heard."

"Well, it's true. I was. And then everything ended and I wound up here and everyone did things and got girlfriends-"

"Sorry, who got girlfriends?" Jorge interrupted.

"Billy. Billybillybilly. Billy fucking Boyd. What does he need a girlfriend for, anyway?"

"When he should just have you instead?" Jorge said slowly, making it a question. There was a strange look on his faces. An alarm bell started ringing somewhere in Dom's head, but it was faint and muffled, as if coming from under water. Or under copious amounts of alcohol.

"Yes, exactly," he said, ignoring it. "That's exactly it. But...that's not my point. What was my point?"

"You were apologizing, I think."

"Oh. Right."

He liked Jorge, generally. He didn't remind Dom of anyone from Rings, except vaguely of some large and curly person under a boom mic, so he wasn't constantly choking back inside jokes and anecdotes when they talked. He did genuinely feel bad about always doing that.

Dom took a deep breath, picked a Jorge at random, and looked him straight in the eye. "I'm a terrible friend."

"No, you're not. You're just-"

"No, really, I'm a terrible friend. Someone who wasn't a terrible friend wouldn't be about to sick up on your carpet."


The phone was ringing. Dom made the slow crawl to consciousness, finding himself lying on top of his bed, still fully dressed. He had no memory of getting there. The sun was very bright, every heartbeat sent stabbing pain through his temples, and the phone in his pocket was very, very loud. He dug it out. The caller ID, Handsome And Manly Elijah, failed to make him smile even a little.

"Fuck off," he growled into the phone.

"And good morning to you, too," said Elijah. "Hungover or just tired?"

"Fuck. Off," Dom repeated in the tones usually reserved for the hard of hearing. Or, in Elijah's case, the hard of compassion.

"Hungover, apparently," Elijah said, amused. No one had the right to be that chipper this early in the morning. Then again, it was probably afternoon for him the bastard. "Call me when you're actually awake, then, okay?"

"Sure, Lij," he mumbled, snapping the phone closed. He was contemplating going to the bathroom, or maybe getting up to close the blinds when he fell back to sleep.

He woke again around five in the evening, feeling slightly less like hell. Purgatory, maybe, he thought, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and waiting for his stomach to decide if it was going to stay in its proper place. There was a horrible taste in his mouth and the pain in his head had settled into a dull, consistent throbbing that was plainly not going anywhere for a while. He still had no memory of getting home.

Unfortunately, he could remember the rest of the night in perfect, mortifying detail. He sighed, pushing himself up and toward the bathroom. Talk about overstaying your welcome. He owed Jorge an apology, and probably some replacement alcohol. The deer-in-headlights look swam into his memory. He winced. Some very good alcohol, then.

He decided against a shower and was weighing the benefits of fresh clothing when he noticed his mobile lying on the floor beside the bed. Right- Elijah had called. He pocketed the phone, then remembered that he was going to change clothes and took it out again.

Dom was dressed in boxers and a t-shirt, watching the coffeepot drip, by the time his brain caught up with itself. Wait a minute- Elijah had called? That was strange. He usually preferred email, despite his complaints about Dom's typing. When you took into account two filming schedules and two social lives, and then threw in a time difference on top, it usually took three or four missed calls before they were both available. And he'd called in the morning. Granted, Dom wasn't exactly sure what time it had been, but he was pretty sure it was before anyone usually expected him to be communicative.

The coffee was done and he was curious, so he decided to call back.

"Dom!" Elijah answered, just as cheery as he had been earlier. "Finally awake, then?"

"For some value of awake, yeah." His voice sounded terrible. He held the phone away and coughed.

"-ry about this morning," Elijah was saying when he replaced it.


"Well, no, you're right. Torturing people with hangovers is one of the world's greatest pastimes. How're things in Hawaii?"

"Pretty good. Busy, mostly. You know."

"Is that so?"

Dom paused. "Yes. Why?"

"Well, I received a very interesting call from Jorge Garcia earlier today."

Despite having the benefits of only a few sips of caffeine, Dom's brain was quite capable of getting four from a couple of twos. His stomach sank.

"He didn't," Dom said.

"He absolutely did. Want to try the 'how's Hawaii' question again?"

Dom thought for a minute, listening to Elijah breathe on the other end of the phone. He could picture him pacing back and forth between the walls of whatever room he was currently occupying. Elijah could never stay still on the phone, and the more serious the conversation, the faster he went. His flat probably had a path of worn floorboards with Dom's name on them already, which was part of the reason why he hadn't wanted to tell Elijah about this. Damn Jorge, anyway.

"I just miss it," he said. "It's not that the people here aren't nice or anything, it's just not the same. I feel bad, you know. I try not to have everything be Lord of the Rings this and Lord of the Rings that, but it's hard."

"You have to give them a chance, Dom. It's not like we were all best friends the second we met."

"Felt like it, sometimes."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do. It's hard not to talk about it when I have to filter everything that comes to mind, though. I don't want to seem, I dunno, elitist."

"Even though you are."

"I don't fit in either place," Dom said, ignoring that. Now that he'd started he just wanted to get everything out. "It's not like I can go back to New Zealand. It's well and truly over, and it seems like everyone else has moved on to these other great projects and I just can't."

"In case you hadn't noticed, you're doing another great project."

"I know, I know," he said, frustrated. There had to be a better way to explain himself.

"I can't come down," Elijah said. "I wish I could, but-" Dom could practically see him shrug. "Filming. Someone will be able to, though. Would that help?"

Dom was still thinking about it when Elijah answered his own question. "No, that would just isolate you even more." He sighed gustily into the phone. "Look, just because Rings was amazing doesn't mean you can't enjoy other things. There's more to life and all that. Who knows, maybe someday you'll do something even better. It wasn't necessarily the best thing that'll ever happen to us."

Dom raised both eyebrows at his coffee mug, figuring that silence would convey the expression down the phone line. Sure enough, the pause was followed by Elijah's rueful laugh.

"Yeah, I know," he said. "I'm still working on that one myself."

"Well, stop working in it. That's close to blasphemy, mate." It was a weak attempt to lighten the mood, but as much as he complained about it, Dom hated to see Elijah without his usually unceasing good humor.

"At least give it a try," Elijah said, refocusing on Dom easily enough. "Spend some time with the people there. It doesn't mean you have to care about us any less."

"Yeah, I guess."

"And speaking of which, Jorge said something else interesting. Not such a fan of Ali, then?"

And there it was.

"Oh," said Dom. That he thought about it some more and added, feelingly, "fuck."


Dom was feeling significantly better the next day, both from the lack of hangover and, surprisingly, the conversation with Elijah. He and Jorge circled each other for a few minutes during their first break. Once they'd each ascertained that the other was not terribly angry, they settled together in the sparse shade. Dom had planned to apologize first thing, but events had changed that, so he opened with:

"You called Elijah."

"Mmhmm. I guess he called you, then?"

"Yeah. Did you have to tell him everything I said? Even about Billy?"

Jorge winced. "Ooh. I thought he already knew that part. Sorry."

"Well, he knows now. Seriously, though, do you do this often? I mean, I know I was out of line, but haven't you ever seen a sad drunk before?"

"All the time. I don't usually see a man get drunk and list all the detailed- and apparently repressed- reasons why he's depressed and ashamed of his behavior."

"And so you decided to call my friends, who you don't even know."

"Was I right?" Jorge asked with that calm bluntness that always caught Dom off guard. He hesitated too long, which was an answer in and of itself. Jorge smiled.

"What made you pick Elijah?" He asked instead.

"It was the only name I could find. Your phone's practically in another language."

Oh, right. He'd forgotten. Orlando, back in the days when he was still uncomfortable with fame, had once insisted that they all change the names in their phones.

"What if I lost my mobile," he's said, "and somebody picked it up and looked through and found Elijah Wood listed? The wrong person and your number'd be all over the internet and you'd have to go through all the hassle of changing it and telling everyone....it's not worth it."

So they'd all invented codenames, unintelligible to anyone else (and in some cases to themselves, after they'd sobered up). Dom was probably the only one who'd kept all the random nonsense words in his phone, more from nostalgia than paranoia. Only Elijah's had been changed. He couldn't remember the circumstances, but Handsome And Manly Elijah had probably been programmed in by the man himself after some bout of piss-taking.

"Dom?" That was Jorge, clearly interested in the story behind the bizarre contacts list he'd seen.

"Right, stupid question. Of course you called Elijah," said Dom, who didn't feel like explaining it. The memory had only served to make him more dissatisfied with Jorge's company. He tried to ignore the feeling, remembering his conversation with Elijah, but was nevertheless glad of the excuse to get away when their break came to an end.


Of course, gossip spread around the Fellowship just as quickly now as it had when they were all living in one place. He kind of liked it, though he never said as much. Getting phone calls from everyone was great, of course, and it was actually nice to talk about it- talk about Billy, which was everyone's subject of choice- after being so secret for so long.

"I knew it," Orlando said. "I knew it! I always wondered if there was something going on with you two. You're different around each other, just a little bit, but I could tell. There's like, something in the air, y'know."

"I know why you're such a favorite with the teenage girls," Dom said, laughing. Listening to Orlando could be a little like watching a very enthusiastic train wreck. "It's because you actually are one."

"You have to tell him," Orlando said. "Are you going to tell him?"

"I....don't know. You think I should?"

"You have to, man! You'd be perfect together!"

"You are missing one vital piece of information here. You know, the part where Billy would have to agree to it, too."

"So? If you've kept it secret for so long, what's to say he hasn't done the same?"

"He has a girlfriend, for one."

"and you've never dated anyone in all this time? Come on, that doesn't prove anything. At this rate you could spend your whole lives lusting after each other and never figure it out. You've got to tell him. It's the only way to find out."


"Don't tell him," Elijah said. "You're not going to tell him, are you?"

"I wasn't planning on it. Orlando thinks I should."

"And you're taking love advice from Orlando now?"

"You do have a point there."

"Look, this has been going on for years now, right?"

"Sad as it is, you are entirely correct."

"And you haven't told a soul and everything's fine. You're best mates, right?" Dom cringed a little, just out of reflex. In reality, he'd long ago gotten used to Elijah using that word. "Are you going to risk all that? What if he gets all weird and nervous about it? And even if he was interested, where would you go from there? You're in Hawaii, he's in Scotland, he has a long-term girlfriend, you both have careers. I mean, if anything was going to happen it would have been back in New Zealand, don't you think? Wait a minute. That wasn't supposed to come out quite so mean, sorry."


Viggo said, "what can I bring to your New Year's party?"

Dom had figured out long ago that Viggo was not, in fact, mad. He had a perfectly adequate understanding of norms and social conventions, he just disregarded them. He didn't flout them on purpose to make a statement, the way Dom sometimes did, he just acted however he felt was best. If that fell within normal societal rules, that was fine. If not, well, that was fine, too.

So when Viggo called him and asked, What can I bring to your New Year's party? Dom didn't say, what? or, I'm not having a New Year's party or, don't you want to give me some advice about Billy? What he said (after a brief pause to adjust to Viggo's plane of reality) was:

"Something appetizer-y. But finger food, please, I don't want to wash a million dishes."

In the end, that turned out to be the most helpful conversation of them all.


The only thing he asked was that nobody get Sean involved. They'd all used the metaphor of the Fellowship as a family, but in some ways that described Sean more than any of the rest of them. The others Dom would have chosen as friends any day of the week. Sean was more like a brother. He loved the man, he really, truly, did, but in the way you love a relative, someone you're close to by chance more than by choice, who you care about but never would have befriended had the circumstances been different.

There was another reason he didn't want Sean involved. Sean had an amazing, happy marriage, beautiful children, a loving family he's crafted and at the moment Dom couldn't quite bear to see his own failure thrown into such sharp relief.


Of course, Fellowship gossip got all the way to Scotland (although, thankfully, not the part that concerned Billy specifically).

"Ach, Dom, I wish you'd told me sooner," he said in that tone of mild regret that made Dom want to spill all his secrets just so Billy wouldn't be disappointed with him. I would have told you, he thought, but missing New Zealand is all mixed up in missing you and I couldn't explain that, not really. He said,

"I'm sorry. It was complicated."

"I thought it had gotten better since Lost started."

"I assumed it would. It's too alike, I think, with all of us living together and filming in Hawaii. I can't not compare it, and of course Lost never wins. It's like trying to relive New Zealand, only nothing's as good and no one here knows it."

"At least you have somewhere nice to be disappointed in. How's the surfing? I've been meaning to ask."

"Lonely." Dom sighed. "Sorry. I didn't mean it. I just miss you." It was true. It felt a bit like having a severed limb, except he never got the tingly part where he thought that Billy was still there.

"Of course you meant it. There's no use hiding it, Dom. Nothing good will come of pretending you don't feel the way you do."

Dom let his head smack onto the table at that, resisting the urge to snort. If only you knew. Billy, oblivious to this, was saying,

"Is there no one at all you'd go with, then?"

"There's plenty of people. They're all lovely, you know, they're just not you."

"Of course they're not." Billy sounded affronted. "Don't take it out on them, poor bastards. It's not their fault they're not as fantastic as we are."

And that, at least, made Dom laugh.


"Charlie feels too real sometimes," Dom said. "It's unsettling."

He flipped over restlessly, kicking free of the tangle of bedding. He was getting better at talking about all of this, but he was also getting tired, ground down and worn out by the constant uphill climb of living in Hawaii when he so desperately wanted New Zealand.

"If you're insinuating anything about heavy drugs, Dominic Monaghan, I swear I will come down to Hawaii myself and knock some sense into you. Possibly by acquainting your head with a wall," Billy said in his ear. He was joking, but there was an edge to his tone that sent a wave of self-loathing through Dom. He hated that he'd ever given his friends reason to worry about something like that.

"Is that what it would take to get you to visit?" he said. "No, that's not it. He's a has been. A young guy who had one minute of fame and then fell apart. All his band mates moved on and he's stuck on an island quoting old lines from Driveshaft to people who don't care. Sound familiar?

"You're not a has been, Dom. And there's a big difference between you and Charlie, from what you're saying. He's upset because he isn't famous anymore, because people don't recognize him and run up to him in the streets, right?"

"Yeah, you're right. It still feels too close to home. At least the acting's easy, I guess."

Talking to Billy both helped and hurt. Hearing the other man's voice never failed to calm him, to brighten his outlook on life a little, but after they'd rung off and the semblance of what had been was gone he missed Billy- missed everything- more than ever. He rolled over again. There wasn't a cool spot left anywhere on the pillow.

"I don't want to talk about it right now. It's always me, me, me whenever you call. Tell me something interesting about your life these days."

"Actually, there is something." Billy's voice lowered conspiratorially. "I've been thinking of asking Ali about kids."

It felt like being punched in the stomach.

Kids. Billy had never said anything about proposals or engagements, so Ali had remained just a girlfriend, someone Billy might continue dating and might not. But kids? Kids was more of a declaration of commitment than a wedding ring was, these days. Kids meant settling down, working together, becoming routine. Kids meant permanent.

Oblivious, Billy was saying, "It's impossible to bring up at this point in a relationship. There's just no way to be neutral. Even mentioning it is like saying, 'I want kids, aren't you ready yet?' I don't want to put that kind of pressure on her.

Dom hung up on him.

The sudden silence left him jarringly and unceremoniously alone. He lay, staring at the ceiling. His watch ticked quietly. Ten seconds. Another ten. He called back, waited for the connection.

"I'm in love with you," he said.

Billy took a breath, in and out in Dom's ear from seven thousand miles away.

"I know you are," he said.

Dom didn't have anything to say to that, really, so he hung up again.

Quiet. White ceiling. His watch ticked. After a minute he turned off the phone and dropped it on the floor. The sound of the waves outside gradually emerged from the hum of electricity and insects, a steady and senseless rhythm like the breath of the uncaring planet. Eventually, he fell asleep.

He woke up the next morning, went to work, came home. Everything came easily, automatic. Billy called back that evening just after Dom had got out of the shower, even though it was early morning in Scotland- he knew Dom's schedule that well. In love or no, Billy had always been the better friend.

"I expect we'll have to talk about this," Billy said.

"Probably. You knew?"

"I've always known."

"How? No one else guessed. I never said anything, never even hinted."

"Did you really think you could keep a secret from me? We're so close we start each other's sentences, never mind finishing them, and we were living out of each other's pockets."

"Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"Why would I? You never did. It's your business, Dom. You didn't bring it up, so I assumed you didn't want to talk about it, at least not with me."

"I didn't talk about it to anyone. At least, not until a few weeks ago. News travels fast, though."

Billy chuckled. "Let me guess. You told one person and now you're the talk of the whole Fellowship and half the cast of Lost."

"Pretty much, yeah." He scrubbed a hand over his face. "Is this going to....be a problem? For us?"

"Is it?" Billy asked, which Dom interpreted as, are you going to make it one?

"No," Dom said. "No problem. We'll be fine." If only it was as simple as that.


He started sleeping with Evi soon after that. It was surprisingly easy to fall into bed with her. She was fun and pretty and they'd been eyeing other for weeks and loving Billy had never kept him celibate. It was a relationship of sorts, although not the kind most people meant when they used that word. More of an agreement, maybe. They did go on several dates, but they were less getting-to-know-you-better dates and more socially-acceptable-prelude-to-fucking dates.

They agreed early on to keep it, whatever it was, a secret. This made perfect sense to Dom, given the habits of the press and the increasing publicity Lost was getting. There was only one problem. It somehow didn't occur to him that when they agreed to secrecy it included the rest of the cast as well.

It would never have been an issue on Lord of the Rings. There was simply no hope of keeping cast relationships a secret, and after a while they'd all given up trying, trusting each other to keep their business, broadly, to themselves. They were a family. No one would breathe a word to outsiders, but within the group gossip spread like wildfire in a forest with a twenty-year drought.

You would have been sadly behind the times if it took you until midday to learn that the night before Bean had slept with Liv, or Viggo had slept with Martin, or Elijah had slept with Angie from miniatures, or Orlando (who, to everyone's best knowledge, was completely straight) had gotten extremely drunk and begged Viggo to sleep with him. The next day Orlando had cited a drunken bet, but reliable sources from the night in question reported that he'd been mumbling something about character. Dom had always wondered if Viggo had actually taken him up on it.

The point was, he wanted meaningful looks and merciless teasing. The rest of the cast, however, remained oblivious. He began to be more and more obvious, openly affectionate, hoping that someone would notice, someone would care. No one did- except Evi, who took him aside one day and whispered,

"Tone it down, would you? I thought we agreed to be secret."

"I haven't told anyone," Dom protested. He wasn't having a good day. He was tired, and he and Billy were still off, and he was sick to death of having sand everywhere.

"Well, try to be a little more subtle," she said, softening. She probably attributed his trouble to something entirely incorrect- namely, her.

"In thirty seconds, I'll try. Cross my heart."

"Why thirty seconds?"

He kissed her. She didn't exactly protest, even though someone could wander by at any moment.


"It's confusing," he told Billy. "Normally I'd talk to you about all this. Best mate stuff. But I can't talk to you about you."

"Why not?"

"It's too weird."

"Well, it's your choice. I wouldn't mind, though. You are still my best mate."

"I don't know," Dom said. In truth, he wanted to tell Billy everything. He always wanted to tell Billy everything. This particular subject felt sort of inappropriate, though.

"Give it a try," Billy suggested. "We can always change the subject if it gets uncomfortable. Start with how you are, or something."

"I don't know," he said again. "I'm....empty."


"It's like there was part of me- no, wait. It's like there was a hope, right? That's probably too strong a word. There was a possibility. Only this tiny little bit of possibility, but it was there, the thought- God, this is embarrassing."

"I won't laugh at you," Billy said. "It's alright."

Dom imagined the look on his face. He was good at predicting Billy's expressions from his tone of voice. Concern and concentration, he thought, with just enough of a frown to bring out the wrinkles in his forehead. It helped, a little.

"There was this possibility that maybe you might feel something for me," he said, getting the words out all in a rush. "Just the barest possibility, but I didn't know for sure that you didn't, see. And then I did, and now the possibility's gone and it's like there's this empty space where I was holding onto it for so long.

"Oh, Dom," Billy said. "I wish I could help. I do love you, for what it's worth."

"I know you do," Dom said. It came out more petty than he'd intended. That wasn't fair, though, because Billy did love him and it was worth more than he could say. He made himself take a deep breath and a step back.

"Sorry," he said. "Sorry, it's not your fault."

"Of course it is. Why, if it wasn't for my handsome face and many sterling qualities, you'd never have fallen for me in the first place."

Dom wasn't sure that he was ready to joke about it yet, but, after all, they were Billy and Dom. They should be able to make everything funny.


Dom didn't have Sir Ian programmed into his mobile, so it was a surprise when he answered and was confronted with that instantly recognizable voice- doubly surprised, given what time it was back in England.

"Dominic," Ian said, "How are you?" Dom estimated that the Grand-O-Meter, a scale he and Elijah had invented after the months had dulled their awe to a manageable level, was at about a four out of ten. He smiled at the memory.

"Pretty well, all things considered. And you?" There was something about Ian- probably the same thing that unconsciously encouraged correct grammar- that made all your big problems seem far smaller. It wasn't that he belittled you or anything, it was just that when you talked to him everything seemed smaller in comparison. You found yourself thinking, for no apparent reason, well, it's not so bad after all, if you take a long view of it. It was just that Ian was so much more mature than, well, everyone else in the world.

"Oh, fine, fine. Actually, I heard you were having some trouble. Should I be concerned?"

The question brought Dom back to his childhood, to his mother calling 'do I need to come up there?' when he and Matt were making noise instead of sleeping. It had the same sort of tone.

Ian regarded the younger members of the Fellowship in much the same way a rich, single uncle regarded his rambunctious nephews. It was a kind of amused fondness, real affection that shaded easily into exasperation when they broke one of his Adult Things while running through the house.

"No," Dom said, "No, Iím doing better. Thank you, though."

He didn't offer any more details and Ian didn't ask for any. They had a perfectly normal conversation about theater and television, the new waiter at Ian's local bar, the state of Dom's insects and Ian's knees. Then they rung off and Dom sat there for a minute, contemplating his phone.

The missing piece of the puzzle was supplied by a surprised Orlando, talking to Dom the next afternoon.

"I didn't expect him to do anything," he said. "I only mentioned it in passing. He must've called you as soon as he got off the phone with me, though. Are you sure you've done the time differences right? That would have been awfully late for him."

"I'm sure," Dom said. The new information made him feel a little guilty, but that was mitigated by the wonderful feeling of finding, unexpectedly, that someone cared about him.


Evi broke up with him- as much as you could break up with someone who you were only sort of dating.

"It was no one's fault," she said. "This relationship just isn't going anywhere, y'know?"

I wasn't aware we were trying to get somewhere, Dom thought, baffled and a little annoyed. He hadn't seen this coming. What happened to 'life is in the journey, not the destination' and all that?

He said, "No, I agree, I know exactly what you mean." This wasn't the truth, but it was a little kinder to his dignity. "It was fun, though, wasn't it?"

"It was," she said, and kissed him on the cheek.

"Evi broke up with me," he told Billy later, lying in bed and trying not to think about his long-distance phone bill.

"What? You were dating Evi?"

"Well, only sort of. It wasn't like- like a real relationship. Heavier on the sex, lighter on teleporting else. I don't know why I didn't tell you earlier."

"Congratulations and condolences, then," said Billy. Dom breathed a sigh of relief- the hesitation had gone unnoticed. He was getting better at that, at heading off his sentences before they diverged into the realm of hypothetical Billy. Now he just needed to train his thoughts away from those paths, as well.


Dom had been calling Viggo about once a week for years, on the premise that this gave him a chance of actually talking to the man every few months or so. Viggo wasn't bad at keeping in touch, exactly, he was just unusual at it. He sent postcards often, called in spurts and stops, and didn't appear to know what an answering machine was for.

So it was by pure chance that Dom was actually speaking to him, wandering up and down the beach where the crushing waves spared him the impression of being the only thing moving in the gray light of the insomniac's early morning.

"What happened to Aragorn?" he asked.

"He had several children, reunited Gondor, and died peacefully in his old age."

"No, I mean, what happened to him here. In the real world. You were Aragorn for years, right? What happened afterward? Did you just turn him off? He can't be completely gone, he was a full human being. He lived and loved and grew and... all that."

"He's not gone. Like you said, we shared a body for too many years for him to just vanish. He rides sometimes." There was a long pause. "Horses," Viggo clarified, and added, "I think he'll always be there if I need him."

A fight, Dom's mind immediately supplied. Even constrained by real life strength and skill, Aragorn's character would surely be a better asset in a fight than Viggo's would.

"Thanks," he said. "I figured if I anyone would still be part Tolkien, it would be you."

"You're welcome, though I don't know how helpful that is. It isn't Merry you're missing, is it? It's the old Dom."

"Yeah, that's true." It was easy to admit.

"You won't find him again. Oh, you can be him, if you want, but he'd just be another character. We can never go back in this life. We're not even allowed to stand still."

"You're born, you get older for a while, and then you die."

"That's how it goes," Viggo agreed. "Which isn't to say that Old Dom is gone forever. It's your memories that make you who you are. He's still a part of you, somewhere. After all, what is the past but the prologue of the present?"

"Hmm. I like that."

"So do I," said Viggo. "I got it off a teabag."


It was getting a little ridiculous, Dom thought, miming the universal "sorry, on the phone" sign at Terry through the open door of the trailer. Not that he minded, actually. Talking to everyone so often eased the loneliness quite a bit. Still, he was having to consider a new cell phone plan.

"I've been thinking," Elijah was saying. Resisting the obvious joke was easy; it had worn thin years ago.

"I think I gave you the wrong advice. Shit!"

"No need to be so dramatic about it," said Dom with mock-seriousness. He'd heard the thud and clatter in the background.

"Oh, shut up. I stubbed my toe. Ow, fucker."

Pacing again, of course, Dom thought, waiting for Elijah to recover. He'd probably thrown a party when the cordless phone was invented.

"As I was saying, I think I gave you the wrong advice. Remember when I told you to spend more time with the Lost people? It didn't work, did it?

"Well, a little bit, I guess."

"I've changed my mind."

"Good to know, Dr. Wood."

"No, I mean it. C'mon, hear me out. It makes sense."

It did make sense. Elijah's theory was that before Dom could get close to the Lost people, he had to let go of Lord of the Rings a little bit. The idea wasn't to cut himself off from either group, just to get a little space. To define himself by himself before he started trying to define himself by other people.

In any event, it was worth a try.

He made his excuses to both groups, telling the truth (though often with some omissions), and withdrew as much as possible. It left him with a startling amount of time on his own.

The first weekend he went scuba diving. He'd kind of vaguely intended to in New Zealand but had never actually get around to it, so it was something new and uniquely his. He was slightly surprised to find that he loved it. He'd loved jumping off of planes and bridges; pushing backwards off the side of a boat had a similar sort of thrill. You sat, you teetered, and then there was that moment when you went past balance and the weight pulled you over and down, headfirst, the first sudden shock of cold, the water closing over you all at once.

Once he was under everything changed. It was just about as different from surfing as water sports could get. There were no waves, no noise, no tension, effort, achievement, fall. Everything was calm. The ocean was muted noise and gentle motion, the filtered light seeming to slow everything it touched. Dom had lost all sense of direction. He waved an arm, watching the ripples trail. There was no way to know where they were headed, those tiny disturbances, whether he'd created an infinitesimal force bound all the way to England, or South to New Zealand, or maybe just to the nearby Hawaiian shore.


He discovered two very interesting things during the time he kept to himself. The first, which took him completely by surprise, was that he actually missed his friends from Lost. The second had to do with the nature of that sliver of possibility that he'd kept close for so long.

It was strange to think of possibility as restricting, because possibility was a kind of hope and hope lifted you out of bad situations, it didn't trap you in them. Dom's possibility, though, had been a tether. He'd kept it close, treasured it, and in return it had tied him to New Zealand. There was no way to move forward, not when that little chance was calling to him out of the past.

And then it was gone. It left an empty space, but in the end that was the only thing that made room for the rest of life to flow in behind it.

December, Part II.

Dom sits, timing his breaths to match the crash of the waves. Faint laughter drifts on the breeze. He'll go back inside in a minute, attend to his hostly duties of making sure that the Rings people mix with the Lost people mix with the other scattered friends who've made the trip to Hawaii at his request. Not that anyone seems to need his help to be sociable.

It was important to have them all here tonight, just as it's important to take this moment outside the hubbub of the party to appreciate it. The house is filled with old friends and new, but all are people he genuinely cares about. It's a gesture of sorts, both to his guests and to himself. It's a new beginning.

He's finished living in the past. The future, starting with the new year that will arrive in a few minutes, is still too unknown and a little frightening. This present moment, though, in this place, with these people, is somewhere he can finally allow himself to be.

He doesn't hear Billy approach, barefoot like the Hobbit he is, but the vibrations of his seat in the sand give him a moment's warning. Billy sits lightly besides him, looking out at the indistinguishable merging of sea and sky. It's good to have him here. It's good to have everything he has tonight.

"You lost?" Billy asks after a moment. He smiles, and Dom hears the question in layers, so many different meanings in two short words. He smiles back, both because he wants to and because he can't not.

"Nah," he says, simply, to every layer. He reaches out a hand, not shy or unsure as he once might have been. Billy meets him halfway. Dom imagines himself as a lightening rod, lets the spark of Billy's touch run through his arm, down his spine, and flow away into the sand.

In a minute they'll go back inside, brushing off the sand and the lingering quiet of the night. The rooms of his house will be bright and full. He'll introduce Billy to his new cast mates and maybe get something to eat and then, together, the two of them will make everyone laugh. Jorge especially should be made to laugh until he cries as the very beginning of the apology and debt Dom owes him.

All that will come. For now, though, they sit hand in hand and watch as one by one the waves wash onto the sand, touching this land and their lives for just a moment before rolling back again, on the journey to wherever the tides will take them next.



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