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  Deficiency

 

"Lemme see that, a second," Viggo said, catching Orlando's fingers, bringing them up between them.

Orlando froze, like he might scare Viggo away, like he was some huge scruffy sexy early-morning tremulous fawn. Please, let him kiss his fingers. Please. After that first post-Doom-Discussion crazy glee, Viggo had apparently remembered himself, and Orlando had resorted to cutting down the flirtation to the strictest of minimums for fear of losing his company altogether. Their camp had been uprooted twice more, and now Orlando had a big green monstrosity on wheels pitched further from Viggo's trailer than ever.

It'd been - well, actually, he freely admitted, it'd been the sixth level of hell, and then just this last week, he'd felt like Viggo might be weakening, had felt their interaction slide easier until it was approaching intimacy once more. Not the intimacy of his fantasies, but still.

And now? This. On the first free day they'd had in ages, so Viggo knew he was available all afternoon. This was one hell of a step forwards, and absolutely no fantasy. He kept his wrist lax, his fingers soft and unresisting in Viggo's clasp. Lick them. Anything! Just, yeah. Bring closer to your mouth, baby. Who cares who might be watching.

Orlando watched Viggo watch the pad of Viggo's thumb stroke over Orlando's fingertips - once, twice - and Orlando felt as if his insides were melting in some glorious, pathetic croon of joy. "Yes," Viggo said, slowly. "You, too." His gaze flicked up. "You need more calcium."

"Excuse me?"

"Calcium," Viggo said, running the tip of his thumb across Orlando's fingertips again. "You've got little white marks."

"Calcium," Orlando said.

"Here, and... here," Viggo said, and, without altering at all, the caress of his finger mutated into some clinical poking. Orlando pulled his hand away, amazed by the distant, unmistakable tightness behind his eyes. He refused to blink, and it cleared.

"I don't."

Viggo looked amused, those bloody eyebrows going up again, and Orlando cradled his hand closer to his belly. He probably looked like some wounded virgin. "Drink more milk," Viggo said, simply.

It would be stupidly obvious to scowl, Orlando thought. Any suspicion Viggo had that Orlando was still harping on too fervently after his touch would be proven, and it would inevitably lead to less touching. And he didn't want less touching, even if it was something as frustrating as this. "I will," he said, carefully, and nodded once, and backed away. He pulled the door to, behind him. His pulse was up. Bad idea to scowl.

On the other hand, he thought, pausing, Viggo had basically touched him under false pretences. Bastard. However much it pained him to admit it, there was no way Viggo wouldn't have known how Orlando would interpret that touch.

Poking his head back round the door, just briefly, just for a few seconds of impact, Orlando scowled.

Viggo had already wandered away.


"Milk for everyone," Dom said, cheerily, brandishing a tray. "Courtesy of the Men."

Orlando gritted his teeth, especially when Billy waggled his fingers lewdly and boasted that he had "the hugest calcium deficiency of the lot a' you - Viggo said so."

"Not getting any... milk," Elijah purred, and Orlando hadn't even considered the euphemistic potential, and that bloody well proved how out of it he was today, and then he wondered why the hobbits were so giddy.

"A wee spot of Kahlua," Billy drawled, happily, when he asked.

"Mm-hm," Orlando said, following the still-waggling line of Billy's finger, then realised the tray was stacked with plastic shot glasses of dark liquid as well.

Dom grinned, tipping the tray towards Orlando. The shots threatened to slide onto the grass, and Orlando put his hand out to save them. "Can't beat it with the dairy," Dom promised. "You want?"

Appropriate, enticing, good, said Orlando's brain. He dragged up his most charming smile. "I want."

"Just tip it in," Billy said, guiding Orlando's hand, "be all pretty, you have my wordiest of words," and Orlando felt his smile go genuine, because getting faintly trashed this afternoon suddenly felt like an acceptable occupation. No moping involved, after all. Practically the healthy option.

The first shot, he forgot to mix in, so there was the long cold draft of milk followed by a shockingly sweet mouthful of chilly-smoky liqueur. He didn't choke or anything, but he might've had to wash it down with a big gulp of Dom's Emergency Toohey's New, and after that he made sure he stirred it well.

After the forth, he found himself admonishing Billy on appropriate terminology.

"They should be shot plastics, act'ly, so shut up."

"You shut up."

"You shut up."

"You shut up, or I won't give you any more."

Aha. "Any more...?"

Billy lifted a finger, asking the world to pause in turning a moment while he considered this. "Any more shot beakers," he said, eventually, too cunning for his own good, and Orlando wrinkled his nose and tried to formulate an answer, then decided he was too grown up to argue about such petty things anyway.

Viggo wandered by at one point, laughed loudly when Dom waved at him with a half-glass of grey milk in each hand. "Wasn't exactly what I meant..."

"Be all shiny clear," Elijah called, waving his fingers swirlily in front of Viggo's face. "Be pretty!"

Viggo caught Elijah's fingers in one hand, like cupping a bug out the air. "I'm happy for you."

Orlando thought, be happy for me. Not him. Orlando was the one-- wait, though, no, because he wasn't the one Viggo had singled out, wasn't even the one Viggo had gone to first, and this just sucked.

"You want?" Elijah was saying, brightly. Viggo let go of his fingers, and Orlando relaxed a little.

Then Viggo smiled, "I don't really drink before lunch," and Orlando hated it again, the complacent confident dismissal of his-- uh, okay. So it was his choice of 11 o'clock beverage, but still. Principle of the thing, man. Not good. Bad.

"Have it your way," Dom said, shrugging hugely enough that milk almost sailed onto the floor.

"You might wanna eat something," Viggo said lightly. He had smiles for everyone today, apparently. Bastard.

When Elijah strolled off purposefully away from the shade of the trailers and plonked himself down on a deckchair in the sun, Orlando saw fit to follow him. He liked the huge open space of it, and the way the grass was warm and brittle and scrubby against his feet, and the way Elijah had brought with him all the hobbits' booze.

"They'll all be out here soon," Elijah was promising, when Orlando felt the brief dip of shade on the back of his neck that meant someone was behind him. He looked back, and the sun dazzled him utterly, and it turned out to be Dom anyway. He felt, he had to admit, the tiniest bit annoyed.

"I need that one," Orlando said, pointing to the plastic cup in Elijah's hand, and Elijah blinked at him stupidly.

"You've not finished your last one."

"Hm," Orlando said, noticing for the first time in ten minutes that he had a half-full cup balanced between his knees. Half-empty, he corrected himself, as he tipped the whatever-it-was down his throat and held his cup out for Elijah's inspection. "I have now."

"You're right," Elijah agreed seriously, handing over a replacement.

"Orlando's getting more than me," Billy shrieked, descending on them from behind, and Orlando exchanged a secret smile with Elijah - yes, here they all were - and settled back in the only other available deckchair to while away the afternoon.


"What is this, some sort of carnival?" John demanded, and Orlando found himself giggling, because, yes. Everything was so funny! And Viggo wasn't even here, so even though Orlando had drunk numerous milks now it wasn't even being appreciated.

The sun had idled right up, and Billy had bribed a hoard of makeup-men to put up a tent to keep the alcohol in, while Elijah had sweet-talked someone Orlando didn't even recognise into stabbing a huge concrete-tipped parasol into the dusty ground so the two deckchairs had a little enviable shade. Sandwiches had sprung from nowhere, but hadn't lasted long. There were rumours of two half-kegs of mineral water, but Orlando hadn't seen anything of the sort.

As the heat had grown, Orlando had noticed people flocking to his feet, and then Dom and Billy had dragged up a ratty old bench, someone else had a blanket and a pot of celery-and-breadsticks, and yeah, John, it was all pretty carnival-y now he mentioned it.

"It is, rather, now you mention it," Orlando tried to say, although the words sort of mutated on the way out, and he wound up swaying wildly and muttering something that sounded like an attack of drunk bees.

"A tent," John noticed, and shook his head. "When you boys go to work--"

Elijah looked up. "I'm the hardest worker," he said, distinctly. "But I'm very good--"

"I'm sure you are," John grinned, and backed away like he was in a pantomime. Elijah strained his neck out, quite clearly trying to follow him without moving his arms or legs, and Orlando found himself giggling piteously again.

"Come back," Elijah yelled, and Dom's hand shot out to steady the bottle in Elijah's lap, and Elijah looked down at him in surprise. "He went," he said, faintly. "I'm hurt now."

Dom blinked up at him, cattish and coquettish and scruffy in the sun. Orlando held his breath, because he wasn't sure what he should say to Elijah to make it all better, but hopefully Dom would be good at this sort of thing. "That's drawves for you," Dom slurred. "Drawers. Dorts."

"Dwarves," Billy said, through a mouthful of breadstick, and Dom pointed at him energetically without looking away from Elijah.

"What he said," he agreed. "And they are. Fuckin' no part-ay."

"Bastards," Elijah nodded, wise beyond his years, and rubbed the top of Dom's head with his free hand. "You're all dusty."

Dom scrunched up his nose, shaking his head without dislodging Elijah's hand. "'S the country, innit," he said. "'S all in my hair."

"All of it!"

"Every speckle."

"You've been rolling around," Orlando pointed out, nodding at the dust-streaks all down Dom's side. "You little minx."

Dom laughed, "minx!" and then groped wildly for Elijah's bottle when Elijah gave a high-pitched tangle of laughter and almost toppled out of his chair. "Watch yourself."

"Watch yourself back," Elijah gasped, and relinquished the bottle to Dom's eager hands. "Is all the milk still in the tent?"

"No more milk," Billy pleaded, flopping back on the blanket with a beer. "I'm all milked out."

"No more milk, no more milk," Dom chanted happily, pouring himself a generous shot of something clear. Orlando wordlessly held out his cup for some, and Dom gave him a sunny smile. "I'm gonna claim my rightful place in that chair, someday," he said conversationally, and Orlando smiled back at him.

"You can have it when we go inside," he promised, and Dom shot him a grateful look and topped up his cup a bit more.

"Wow, thankyou," he said.


"I have a theory," Orlando said, popping the last fragment of one breadstick into his mouth and reaching down for another, avoiding the wilted celery stalks. Whose bright idea had that been, honestly. The group, sticky and sleepy and dusty and happy, looked at him. "My theory is," he said, when he was satisfied that he'd got all the attention that was available, "with all the guys around me, some of them are boys and some are men."

"Oh, tha's deep," Billy called, not bothering to open his eyes. Orlando'd thought he was asleep, head in Dom's lap like that, now Dom had coaxed Elijah onto the bench and then stolen his chair. Orlando elected not to look at him again.

"The men," he continued blithely, addressing the sky, "are the ones I fancy because they're rough and tough and dirty, or have facial hair."

"Riiight."

"And the boys are the ones I fancy because they're pretty, or clean-looking, or - you know, all that. So age doesn't matter."

"What am I?" Dom demanded, and Orlando grinned.

"Who says I fancy you?"

"We all know you do," Elijah sang, "who couldn't, anyway?" and Orlando grinned. He didn't, actually, but there was no need for Dom to know that, let alone anyone else. He had a reputation to think of, after all.

"A man," he said, and Dom hooted, and Elijah scowled.

"Lemme guess, I'm a boy."

"You'd be a boy even if you had a beard like Gandalf," Dom leered, and Elijah threw a bit of wilted celery at him.

"It's good to be a boy," Orlando insisted, and Elijah cocked his head. His skin almost glowed in the afternoon sun, and his eyes were like - umm, some incredibly blue precious stone, Orlando thought, impatiently. He couldn't be asked to remember these things. Precious stones with big eyelashes. "You're right," he added, to Dom. "No amount of facial hair would save him."

"Those baby blues," Dom crooned.

"That milky skin," Orlando agreed, nodding, then wrinkled his nose. "Actually. Forget milk."

"That tousle-able hair," Dom offered, saving him, then bit his lip, frowning, "um, those... shirts bought by your mum!" and winked at Orlando. "Not that you can talk," he added, and plucked at Orlando's sleeveless top. Orlando shoved his hands away. He liked mauve, so they could all shut up.

"Well, you lot'll die quicker," Elijah said, and folded his arms. His posture reminded Orlando that they'd consumed all the Kahlua and a lot more besides, and maybe didn't need any more. "As I am merely a virginal young boy, I will inherit the earth when you rugged things are long gone horsemeat."

"Orlando's a boy too," Dom said, "though," and Orlando winked at Elijah.

"You and me, babe," he drawled, "we'll rule this goddamn earth together."

"With all the well-fed horses!" Elijah said, apparently happier now he had a cohort, and then Viggo was easing down onto the bench next to Elijah and looking quizzically at him.

"Dare I ask?" he said. He had a light-looking pale shirt thing on, looked like it might billow if there was enough wind. Orlando decided they should go riding together. In the evening. They could sit two to a horse-- though no, actually, separate horses would be better for the galloping.

"Orlando and me are boys, and Dom's a maaaaan," Elijah said, leaning his cheek on Viggo's shoulder.

"Orlando and I," Viggo corrected, wickedly, and Elijah snorted. Then, Orlando thought distractedly, they could accidentally lose one of the horses, and ride back together, Orlando in front. Yeah.

"No, you're a man, you couldn't be a boy if you tried," Elijah was saying, and Orlando watched Viggo's eyebrows go up.

"Well, thanks for reminding me."

"What he means," Orlando said, leaning forwards, because it was about time Viggo focussed on him again, thankyouverymuch, "is, um." Even drunk, it was difficult to say this stuff directly to Viggo's face. "I'm attracted to you because you're... hot," he said, lamely. Fuck. There'd been other things, lots of other things, adjectives, and how the hell could he remember the grammatical term for them and not the words themselves?

Viggo looked at him oddly, and Elijah chuckled. A knot started building in Orlando's stomach, layer upon enthusiastic layer. A big knot, like, like the kind that required scaffolding.

"And rugged, and dirty, and roughandtough," Dom said, and Orlando's big knot - Building!, his brain declared joyously; Building of Dread! - started to dissolve. "Same as me," Dom said, helpfully. "And he fancies Elijah and Orlando because they're pretty and, um, I think that's it. Even pretty as Gandalf."

"Orlando fancies himself?" Viggo said, and Elijah quaked with laughter, and Viggo steadied him absently. Orlando felt himself start to get jealous.

"No, just boys like him," Dom said, and his voice carried a little thread of uncertainty now, like he might be on his way to slipping out of his depth. "He's a. The young ones? Virginal."

"Right," Viggo said.

"We men, we're going to die sooner, but at least we can grow beards," Dom said, warming to his subject, and it dawned on Orlando how incredibly stupid it was to discuss this with Viggo here, given Viggo's whole Orlando-is-too-young thing, and,

"okay, Dom, shut up," Orlando said, and Dom looked at him.

"What? I only--"

Fuck, Orlando thought, angrily. He had to undo the damage now. "I'm not a virgin," he assured Viggo, interrupting Dom, and Viggo opened his mouth, then shut it again. "I'm not," Orlando heard himself insisting, desperately, and then the slow-dawning part of his mind latched on to the fact that maybe this wasn't the best thing to say either, and he waved his hands about in hope of erasing the entire conversation.

"I believe you," Viggo said.

"I'm a - what we were actually saying," Orlando said, eyeing Dom meaningfully, "is that I'm more a man, really."

Dom frowned, then said, "ohh," and then, nodding quickly, "yup. That's what we were saying."

Viggo cocked his head. "You're a man."

"He is," Dom said, and it sounded a bit obvious, Orlando thought, but not too bad. Could be just drunken exuben, enthuba--thingie. That. Drunken joy.

"Yeah, I mean," Orlando said, trying to sound offhand, "I was a boy, like, a few years ago, but now I'm a man. All man." He sounded like a fucking callboy. "Very, um. A man."

"Buuuuullshiiiiiit," Elijah crooned suddenly, and giggled fit to fall down against Viggo's shoulder.

Orlando gritted his teeth. "Lij, shut up." Go back to sleep.

"Sorry, but it is," Elijah said, still giggling, then wiped his eyes and sat up unsteadily, gripping Viggo's elbow and leaning forwards as if to tell Dom an incredibly amusing joke. "I mean, as if you could ever be anything other than a boy - look at you--"

Viggo coughed. "I might get going, hey," he said, gently untangling Elijah's hand from his jacket sleeve.

"--you're a fuckin' - and compared with Viggo," Elijah said blithely, waving his hands as if to advertise Viggo's wares, "I mean, there is a man, there's a man if you ever saw one in your life--"

"Don't go," Orlando said automatically, and Viggo looked at him, unflinchingly sober.

"--for chrissakes, he's Aragorn--"

"actually, um, maybe do go," Orlando said miserably, and Viggo glanced over his shoulder.

"I think, um," he said, and pointed off at a tent, "I, John's calling me."

Orlando couldn't hear anyone calling. But then, he thought, bitterly, he was drunk, wasn't he? So of course he couldn't. "Bye, then," he said, voice tipping into despondency.

"Bye," Dom called, faintly, then patted Orlando on the knee as Viggo wandered - depressingly determinedly - out of earshot. "Sorry, mate."

"Eh," Orlando said, and scratched at a spot of earth on his knee. "Oh well."

Elijah blinked, looked around wildly. "Viggo went?" He stood up, then sat down again abruptly. "Bugger," he muttered to himself, then took a huge breath and shouted, "bye, maaaaaan," across the field.

"Yup," Dom said. "He, puffff. In smoke."

"Did not," Elijah grinned, "he's over there," and this was great, Orlando sitting here and they had a fucking private joke going on, didn't they.

"He did," Dom insisted, and leaned forwards, toppling Billy to the floor, to stroke an unsteady trail down from Orlando's eye. "It's why Orli's crying."

"I'm not crying," Orlando said indignantly, sitting up straight. He wasn't. Although, fuck, did Viggo think he'd been crying? Did he? That'd just be the worst. Fucking hell.

"He's not," Elijah confirmed, leaning close to check, then overbalancing and landing on the dusty blanket. "Cunt," he squeaked, then glared when Dom laughed. "Get me up, you fucking bastard."

Billy opened his eyes, and laughed as well. Dom helped Elijah to his feet, and Orlando thought maybe crying would be a good battle plan after all. At least he didn't have a hangover yet. Though unless he kept drinking-- "I need a drink," he said loudly, and Dom looked at him.

"There's none left."


Elijah curled up on the blanket in the newly-slanty shade instead of coming with them to the pub, because he'd decided he needed a sleep.

"Pussy," Dom agreed, when Orlando bitched about it for the third time, and slid his arm round Orlando's waist.

"He is," Orlando said. The sun was failing a bit, now, and there was some wind, and he'd stolen Elijah's skimpy zip-up top, but it was still nice to have the heat of Dom's torso swaying into him. He thought about putting up his hood, then decided there was just enough sun on his head to make hoodlessness worthwhile.

"Yup."

"Such a pussy he'd probably come to the bar and order milk," Orlando spat, but that made him think of earlier, of Viggo and the goddamn calcium thing, and his manly laugh trailed into a moping one.

Dom glanced at him. "Are you choking?"

"Moping," Orlando corrected quickly, but Dom was right; a moping laugh did sound a lot like he might've swallowed something the wrong way.

"Oh, right, gotcha," Dom said sagely, then brightened. "How does The Crazy Fish sound to you?"

Orlando looked around, then giggled despite himself. There were two pubs in the area, because the camp site they were on at the moment was apparently in use all year round - Orlando wasn't one to judge, but jesus, what fuckin' awful holidays some people had - and the pub they hadn't investigated yet was ahead of them. "That's not what it's called," he said. The sign had a picture of a goggle-eyed fish on, though, and Dom was kinda right. "Though I see what you mean."

"Crazy fish, crazy fish," Dom chanted, happily, and guided Orlando up the step. "Careful!"

"Don't wanna slip on a crazy fish," Orlando guessed, and Dom beamed.

"Beware of the--" he said, and stopped expectantly, one hand on the swing-door to the pub proper.

"Crazy fish!" Orlando shouted, feeling better, and collapsed against Dom in amusement. Dom overbalanced, also laughing, and then they were falling through the swing-door and a bank of weak soggy cigarette smoke enveloped them.

Orlando picked himself up, blinking in the gloom. There was a juke box against one wall, and a bank of slot machines on the other. "Pretty colours," he lied, squinting at all the tinkling flashes. Time for another drink, oh yes.

"My eyes, my eyes, my kingdom for a... crazy fish," Dom said, and Orlando snickered despite his new-found resolve that he'd be all about the drinking and not about anything else.

"Sit down, you goggle-eyed imbecile," he said, and Dom blinked at him piteously. "I'll get you a drink," Orlando added, and Dom's face became solid smile.

"I'll be over here," he said, winding his way through to the next room, and Orlando steeled himself for the dangerous journey across the ocean of brown carpet ahead of him. Maybe Dom shouldn't have gone, actually.

He followed one of the lines on the carpet to the bar, making sure all his steps were the same size because then, he reasoned, he wouldn't speed up or slow down, and thus there would be less overall risk of falling down. "Hullo," he said to the bar, eventually, looking around for a bartender. Didn't appear to be one. "Hullo?" he repeated, louder, and made two little towers of beer mats to plant his elbows on. His head span a little slower when his chin was firmly installed in the cup of his hands. "Hull-lloo?"

"Yes?"

"I need some drinks," Orlando said, seriously. "It's very important."

The woman smirked. "Anything in particular?"

"And crisps," Orlando said. "Bacon flavour. No, wait. Salf and vinegar."

"Salt and vinegar," the woman corrected, and Orlando waved that away. He rather liked the sound of salf. He bet it tasted better than plain old sodium carbonate any day. "One packet?"

"Two," Orlando said, just to outdo her. "And some. hmm. Gin! Gin and tonic. G-and-Ts," he said, and squinted at the shelves. "In those glasses. With - lemon and sticks."

"I don't think we have any sticks," the woman said, and she was definitely too amused for Orlando's comfort.

"Sticks!" he said. He knew what he meant. "Those little-- not twigs," he explained, a wave of amusement going over him. "Sticks."

She raised her eyebrows.

"Cocktail ones," Orlando said, the word jumping deliciously off the tip of his tongue. "Cocktail sticks."

"Oh," the woman said, and laughed. Orlando frowned. He didn't like laughing bartenders today. Made him feel - well, like, stupid, or something. Childish. Definitely not liking feeling childish at the mo'.

"I'd like two, please," he said, with as much dignity as he could manage. "And don't forget the crisps."

She gave him a slightly darker look, and Orlando realised he was pissing her off. Bugger. He didn't like strangers thinking bad of him. Plus, now she'd probably water the drinks, or something. He watched her hands moving over the glasses, carefully noting the ice cubes sliding noisily into place, the sticky clicks of the optrix bottles discharging perfect thirty-five millilitre shares. All seemed pretty above board. No sticks, but that probably wasn't her fault.

"Thankyou," he said, when everything was arranged in front of him, and felt bad. He didn't mean to piss off the random bar-lady. "One for you?"

"I can't drink on duty," she said, and he handed over the money and opened a bag of crisps.

"Surely you can," he said, crunchily. "You're the only one here."

She gave him a half smile. "I can't."

"That's very thingie of you," Orlando said, sagely. "Noble."

"Thanks." Definitely a smile.

"Would you like a crisp?"

"It's okay."

Orlando played his final card. "Keep the change, then," he said, and she raised her eyebrows.

"All of it?"


"The bar lady likes me now," Orlando called to Dom, as he approached the table with a drink in each hand, trying desperately to ignore the carpet, getting little rivulets of gin all over his fingers. "Et voila," he said, in the flattest Birmingham accent he could lay his voice to, setting them down on the table.

Dom giggled, then eyed the glasses suspiciously. "No more milk, I beg you!"

"No more milk," Orlando assured, and Dom beamed at him.

"Sod the nails."

"Sod Viggo," Orlando toasted.

Dom started to chink glasses with him, then veered back, and Orlando overcompensated and wound up with even wetter hands. "Sod Viggo?" Dom said, forehead crunched up.

Orlando nodded decisively. "Yes."

Dom wrinkled his mouth around a bit, then looked back with renewed enthusiasm. "Sure you don't mean sodomise?"

"Positive," Orlando said, and it sounded incredibly sad, or would have if the music hadn't swelled into Bohemian Rhapsody, making Orlando perk up despite himself.

"There are clever people in this pub," Dom said, blissfully.

Orlando tried to work that out.

"Jukebox," Dom explained.

"Aha."

"You think they'll run the full six minutes?"

"Yup."

"They might not."

"They will." Orlando was one hundred per cent certain.

"They didn't, first night on Top of the Pops," Dom said, challenge lighting in his eyes.

"Yeah, but that was 1975," Orlando retorted, sipping his drink triumphantly. The gin was sleek and fruity and shot through with numerous chills, a perfect marriage of juniper and quinine. He knew more about Queen than Dom, and thus was equipped to win any trivia challenge Dom posed. Life was good.

The song cut off, replaced by Robbie Williams, and Dom crowed.

"Shut up; that's clearly because the jukebox broke," Orlando moaned, and Dom carried on laughing. "Shut up. I'm hungry," he added, in hope of distracting him. "Why didn't you order food?"

"You went to the bar," Dom pointed out.

Bugger.

"Why didn't you order food?" Dom asked, innocent smile tempered with smug joy.

Orlando remembered the crisps. "I did," he said. "I just hid them from you."

"What them?"

"This them," Orlando said, and looked around. They were here somewhere. They were - aha. "See," he said, reaching over his head and pulling the two bags out his hood. "Well hid."

"Why's that one already open?" Dom said, reaching eagerly and tearing the packets, spreading them on the table so that the crisps lay in a golden pile on greasy silver cellophane. "They're half gone."

"I ate some," Orlando admitted, and smiled. "So did the bar lady."

Dom had his mouth full, and Orlando could hear the low-grade crunching like it was a long way away. "Yewshun," Dom said, indistinctly, then held one finger in front of his mouth, waggling it.

Orlando ate some crisps. They were ridged, which he hadn't noticed earlier. Heh.

"You shouldn't give our food away," Dom said, eventually, by which time Orlando's mouth was ringing with vinegar.

"Even when it's ridged for our pleasure?"

Dom laughed, and Orlando took a demure sip of gin. The tonic bubbles hurt his tongue quite a lot, but it was a good hurt. "Even then," Dom said, following suit, and winced. "Ow," he said, screwing up his face. "Mah ton'."

"Wimp."

"Maso-- no, um, sadist," Dom said, and gingerly sipped again. "Ow. You pick the worst flavours to go together."

"Like I said," Orlando said, sipping again and telling himself it was a wonderful combination, "you're just a wimp. Acquire the taste or. um. get out the kitchen," he improvised, and nodded at the door for good measure.

Dom watched him for a moment, then said, "hm," to himself.

"What?"

"Why don't you wanna sodomise Viggo?"

Orlando frowned. "You're trying to change the subject," he accused, weakly.

"You tried to change it before."

"Did not."

"Did," Dom said. "And now."

Orlando looked away. "Go to hell."

"Fuck off," Dom said, mildly, and Orlando looked back. Dom drained his glass and handed Orlando his slice of lemon. Orlando took it wordlessly. "What's gonna happen," Dom told him, "is I'm gonna get in more drinks, you're gonna finish the crisps, and then you're gonna tell me what the fuck's going on with your man."

Orlando sucked sulkily on his lemon. "He's not my man."

"Good," Dom nodded, and patted him on the head before wandering off. There was a definite swerve to his beeline.

Orlando chewed until there was only rind left, then flicked it into the ashtray. Fucking Dom, giving him orders like this. Not fair. Taking advantage of his drunken state, no doubt. He crumpled up the remnants of the crisps in their cellophane with his free hand. See if he ate them just because Dom told him to. Ha, no chance.

"You got answers, yet?" Dom's voice came, while Orlando was staring at the pith-imprints of his teeth in the scrap of lemon rind. The ash tray was lovely, very shiny. It made Orlando want a cigarette.

"Not really," he said.

"But he wants you to be a man, earlier."

Wanted, Orlando thought, automatically. "Something like that."

"I got you a martini," Dom said, lowering himself into his seat, setting down an elegant glass near Orlando's hand. "With an olive on a stick."

Orlando forgave him everything. "Oh," he beamed. "She wouldn't give me sticks. She was all, they're twigs." That wasn't entirely true. He couldn't remember what was true. He stirred his drink with the olive-stick, watching the faint glassy curdle of alcohol dissipating into transparency. "This is really cool," he said.

"Your side of the bargain, though," Dom said. "You promised."

"I did not," Orlando said.

"You did."

Orlando lifted the olive out the drink and watched the water drip off it, and thought about earlier. "I didn't," he decided.

Dom cleared his throat. "We shook on it," he said, and Orlando frowned. Had they? He wasn't sure. He didn't think they'd done that, but maybe--

"I had my fingers crossed," he said. "Nothing counts."

Dom gasped, "You sneaky cheat," and Orlando beamed again.

"That's me."

He gave into temptation and sucked the olive off the stick. It was wet, first and foremost; the clean bite of martini made him shiver, his body exceptionally aware of the alcohol molecules above all others. Maybe he should talk to Dom. The olive felt pert and solid on his tongue, seemed bigger than it had looked. He chewed on it happily and felt something slimy-delicious - pepper? too pickled to resemble its original form - sliding against his tongue, making him want to bite down again and again.

"Thing is," he told Dom eventually, shaking his head mournfully and testing the point of the cocktail stick with his thumb, "Viggo thinks he's so great." He ignored the treacherous little voice that chimed in irritably, he is so great, he is so great, and nodded decisively. "He's got an attitude."

Dom frowned. "Surely you still think he's--"

"I don't," Orlando said quickly. His glass left messy circles of wetness when he moved it about. "I mean. I do, but I know he's got an attitude too."

"How?"

"He has!" Orlando insisted, moodily drawing patterns in the wetness on the table with his cocktail stick. It didn't make very good pictures.

Dom was still frowning. "He gave you his coat when it thundered yesterday."

"Yeah, but that's a big... lie," Orlando said, desperately. He got quite a good spiky effect going with his wetness drawing, and concentrated on making it bigger.

Dom raised his eyebrows. "It wasn't his coat?"

"He didn't mean to give it me," Orlando said, and thought wildly, He slipped and fell! "He meant to give it... Sean."

"Sean had a coat already. Only you didn't have a coat," Dom said, voice creeping into clear confidence, "because you wanted to wear that long-sleeved thingie with holes in, and you said a coat spoilt the look."

"I never said that," Orlando lied, forcing his mind away from sense-memories of that coat, warm from Viggo's body, lying soft and heavy over his too-well-ventilated torso.

"What else is his attitude?"

"Oh, whatever," Orlando said, impatiently. "He's just not that great. He's superficial," he added, inspired, then realised he was, well, wrong. Even drunk, he couldn't accuse Viggo of that.

Not awfully surprisingly, Dom laughed. "He is so not--"

"He's superficially deep," Orlando said, panicking a little. "He's. um. what?"

"He's there," Dom squeaked, softly, staring over Orlando's shoulder, then lifted his hand in a fervent little wave. "Hiya."

"You sound gay when you say that," Orlando said. He didn't want this to happen. Please, could Viggo go away. He seriously wasn't in the mood.

"You sound gay all the time," Dom retorted, and Orlando's shoulders prickled. Viggo was standing behind him, he just knew it.

"Hi," said Viggo, voice warm and wonderful and just as painful to listen to as Orlando remembered. If not moreso. Damnit.

"Hey," Dom said again, happily. "We were just talking 'bout you."

Damn-da-damn-damnit, Orlando thought, cheerlessly. He drank some more martini, overly aware as Viggo slipped round their table. Orlando decided to ignore him, and called up a faraway glaze to his eyes.

"How are you doing?" Viggo asked, and Orlando let his gaze sidle over in Viggo's direction. Totally coincidentally, though, of course. No one could charge him of otherwise.

"Orlando says you didn't mean it when you gave him your coat," Dom accused, surprisingly fierce, and Viggo blinked.

"Oh, um," he said, and looked at them closer. Orlando concentrated harder on not noticing him. "Right," Viggo said, cautiously. "You boys been in here a long time?"

"Boys," Orlando said disparagingly, rising briefly from his Ignorance Of Viggo, which now he thought about it had this stupid poignant edge to it as well. Not just ignoring him, but not knowing him, either. Jesus fuck.

"And he said - yeah, a while - and he said you're superficial."

"Go away," Orlando said, kicking Dom under the table. "We've had a fight."

Dom caught on gratifyingly quickly. "Yes, we have," he told Viggo, and pushed his chair back with a clatter. "I never want to see you again," he said clearly.

"Me too," Orlando said, and Dom stomped off, turning only when he got to the doorway to give him a little wave.

Orlando waved back, then returned innocently to Viggo. "We had a fight," he explained.

Viggo was watching him. "I'm superficial?"

"Oh, I'm too pickled to resemble my original form," Orlando said, flapping at him with his fingers. "I'm like an olive, the bit in the middle. I don't know anything."

"Um."

"You're - you were giving the coat to Sean, anyway," Orlando said, all in a rush, then drained his drink and plonked the glass back down. "You just fell and gave it to me," he mumbled.

Viggo steadied Orlando's glass against the table. "How much have you had?"

"A lot of milk," Orlando said, and it occurred to him that it was quite a funny joke. Or something. He smirked, then heard a ludicrous giggle escape. And that, god, that was the funniest thing yet, that silly little noise; the restrained laughter increased, quivered out of him, a long flurry of choked amusement. "A lot," he gasped, one hand fluttering against his stomach. His sides actually ached.

"You're not drinking milk now," Viggo said quietly, and he was right. He was clever like that. Observant.

"Dom got me a martini," Orlando said, proudly. "I love Dom."

"I thought you had a fight."

"I love fighting Dom," Orlando amended, fishing his own bit of lemon out the bottom of his glass. "Mm." He chewed on it blissfully, then glanced hopefully at Viggo. "Get me another?"

"You've had enough."

Fucking patronising bastard, Orlando thought. "I have not," he said, sharply. Had to prove it, prove it. "You want a game of darts? I'll wipe the floor with you."

"You'll kill everybody in a six mile radius," Viggo corrected, and Orlando scowled at him, then regretted that because eye contact wasn't the plan right now, and looked away quickly. Viggo had looked this delicious mixture of concerned and amused. Orlando should have taught himself to do ventriloquism with his eyes, somehow. Appear to be looking one way but actually look in a whole nother one. Maybe he should just carry an ingenious engine of mirrors with him at all times.

"Okay," he conceded, eventually looking back, trying to make his eyes large and appealing, "but get me an olive, at least? my kindred spirit."

"Enough kindred spirit for today," Viggo said, barely loud enough for Orlando to catch, swipe-stroking the rim of Orlando's glass with his thumb - Orlando sat straighter, indignant, because he treated a glass like that? a glass? his glass? and not his mouth? Bastard! - before collecting up all the empties and padding off to the bar.

Padding. He would pad, wouldn't he. Fucking bastard feline man, especially with the hair; good job he wasn't in armour or Orlando would have... would have had sex with him. Somehow. He would have found a way.

His brain paused as a small voice noted that all felines are by definition bastards, at least under British law. The rest of his thoughts jostled irritably at the voice - poncey little thing - and then out of the chaos rose a beautiful phoenix of an idea: move tables.

Right.

"Where are you going?" Viggo called, and Orlando froze, shoulders hunched, feeling like Gollum caught with a hand in the biscuit barrel. Or ring barrel, as the case may be. Possibly, fish barrel, actually.

"Er," he said, then decided he was better off pretending he hadn't heard. "Nothing," he heard himself mutter, and scurried off to the far corner of the pub, finding a table and quickly arranging the chairs to look like he'd been here for ages. The beer mats swam wildly - or perhaps, he thought vaguely, that was the alcohol molecules attacking his optic nerve.

"What on earth are you doing?" Viggo said, sounding far too amused for Orlando's liking.

"Nothing," he insisted, hulking down in his chair. "I've been here all night."

"Uh huh," Viggo said, gingerly pulling back the chair next to him. "Well, here's your olive."

"I'll kiss you for it," Orlando almost said, and wound up glowering excessively at a folded beermat. There was no wetness to doodle with on this table. Stupid table. "Thankyou," he said, and stirred it round in the water. It wasn't as fun to watch, there being no alcohol involved.

"No problem," Viggo said, sipping his own drink. Appeared, Orlando thought astutely, to be cranberry juice. What a girl. "I kinda don't wanna ask this," Viggo added, smiling, after a moment, and Orlando looked up hopefully, "but I think I'm gonna have to. Why do you have crisps in your hood?"

Oh. "The bar-lady put them there."

"The-- right," Viggo said, and nodded. "Okay."

He didn't believe him. Damnit. "She did," Orlando said, trying to make his face as convincing as possible, then gave up. "You don't believe me."

"No, no - if you say that's what happened--"

"You never believe me," Orlando said boldly, and sucked his olive into his mouth, stabbing the inside of his cheek with the cocktail stick in the process. "Ow," he mumbled, indistinctly. This olive didn't taste as good as the other one. More vinegar, and a lot less gin. "Weird," he said, chewing slowly. "You normally make things even better." He wasn't sure if Viggo could hear him, and he had a tiny suspicion he didn't want him to. "I'm getting used to it, though."

"Oh," Viggo said.

Orlando nodded, and risked a glance at him. Viggo looked like something was crunching inside him, digging its teeth in painfully, mauling the inside of his forehead.

Go, little maul-y creature, Orlando cheered, and that was it, he was imagining the guy from Phantom Menace dancing around in Viggo's head, and then Viggo asked, "what's so funny?" and Orlando remembered he was supposed to be moping.

"Why are you here, anyway," he said. "You ran off."

"Your phone's switched off," Viggo said, "and Elijah's babbling something about how you and Dom and Billy have run away together and we're never going to see you again."

"That's a lie," Orlando said. "Billy's not here."

Viggo cocked his head. "But the running away together...?"

Orlando glared at him. "What, does that affect you in some way?" he demanded, then scoffed. "Whadd'you know. At least Darth Maul's not eating my brain."

"It might affect the movie if we lost a hobbit and an elf all in one day," Viggo said calmly, and smiled. "Not everyone's as replaceable as Stuart Townsend."

Orlando suspected he hadn't heard the bit about Darth Maul, and felt mildly irritated with his own instant sense of relief. Sod Viggo, wasn't that what he'd toasted? "So the movie, that's why you don't want me an' Dom to elope."

Viggo watched him evenly, took a slow sip of his drink, then reached for a tiny paper sachet of salt from the colourful selection in the ashtray in the middle of the table. Orlando pretended he wasn't aware of every inch Viggo's hands moved. "You're fishing," Viggo said eventually, tearing the sachet and tipping the salt into his glass, scepticism glowing all through his voice.

"Am not," Orlando said, then reconsidered. "Of course I bloody am."

"Why?"

"Why the hell not?"

"Okay," Viggo said carefully, "you're irreplaceable. Is that what you wanna hear?"

Orlando froze, holding his breath, pressing the point of the cocktail stick hard against his thumb. "To you or the movie?"

"Both," Viggo said.

Orlando exhaled. "Why are you, what are you drinking?" he said, because he knew that Viggo was going to retract this good feeling he'd given him, any second now. He'd rather they changed the subject.

"Bloody Mary," Viggo said, and tilted the glass towards Orlando. "Wanna try?"

Orlando looked at him uncertainly. "Why's there salt in?"

"Tastes better." Viggo watched him a moment longer, then chuckled. "You've never tried one? I thought you knew the whole bar off by heart."

"Shows how much you know me," Orlando retorted, and Viggo's smile faded a little. "I guess it's not cranberry juice, then." Now he was concentrating, it looked too bright to be cranberry. And too thick. Maybe strawberry, or something. Salted strawberry, though. Weird. Still, Viggo had weird taste.

"Tomato," Viggo said. "With-- some seasoning." He put the glass into Orlando's hand. It was cool and light. "Have a taste."

"Hmm." Gingerly, Orlando sipped it, then felt himself blink hard, tears jumping to the back of his eyes. "What the fuck--"

"It's a little heavy on the tabasco," Viggo admitted, just a trace of wickedness in his voice. "But it should chase that olive pretty well."

Orlando eyed the glass suspiciously, surprised he hadn't dropped it. Of course, he'd never drop something Viggo'd given him, but still. "Chase it, catch it, dissolve it," he muttered, licking his lips. Not bad, actually, after the initial shock. The tomato was soothing below the capsicum, rich and smooth, and - "yes," he added, thoughtfully. "I bet it did need that salt."

He sipped again, raised his eyebrows. Subtler, this time; a lot less startling. Viggo smiled indulgently, then asked, "What?"

Orlando pressed his lips together, handed back the glass. "Vodka," he said, "and cracked black pepper, and-- something else. Lime?"

"I'm impressed," Viggo said, taking a drink himself. "Not lime, though. I think that's all."

"Maybe I'm still tasting the martini," Orlando suggested. "That had lemon."

"Maybe."

"Yes," Orlando said, enjoying the bright glow of mingled tastes through his mouth. He felt himself smile slowly, and realised he was comfortable with his whole brain for the first time all day. No ugly thoughts to avoid right now, no worrying detail to hide from. It wouldn't last, but this was really fucking nice.

Just sitting, while Viggo sipped away.

His mouth would taste the same as Orlando's, probably. Orlando found himself smiling. "This is really--"

"--ant to go for a walk?" Viggo asked, Orlando cutting off as soon as he realised Viggo was speaking, the odd clatter of their voices colliding pitching him into confusion. "What?"

"What?" Orlando said, then waved Viggo down, trying to work out what Viggo'd said. "No, you - do I want to go for a walk?"

Viggo nodded, his eyes half-closed. He looked quite content himself. His glass was empty, thick red frost round the edges with the residue of tomato juice, but Orlando didn't think he was drunk, or anything. Just - relaxed. Mmm.

"Sure," Orlando said, and fished some coins out his pocket. "Um, could you count these? I'm a bit woozy."

"I said a walk, not a shop," Viggo teased, and Orlando shook his head, making the wooziness worse. Damnit. He hadn't had any trouble until he tried to focus on all the little coins.

"We haven't left a tip," he explained. "Is that a ten?"

Viggo raised his eyebrows, waved vaguely at the cash on the table. "You'd leave all that for a tip?"

"Not the notes," Orlando said, half-laughing, then losing count of the coins again. "Just the-- this." He heaped the little coins into the middle of the table, by the ashtray of condiment sachets. "That doesn't look mean?"

"Looks fine," Viggo said, and Orlando realised, sheepishly, that Viggo was anxious to leave.

Orlando pushed his chair back from the table, looked around for his coat.

"You're wearing it," Viggo murmured, and Orlando realised, yes, he was, and it was Elijah's, and tiny, and he grinned. "It's not cold outside, anyway." Viggo's hand hovered between Orlando's shoulderblades, then darted away when Orlando pressed back experimentally. "Careful."

"'M fine," Orlando said, oddly put out, and set off for the door, wending through a shifting topography of tables. The bar was empty again, when he got into the main room, but the lady appeared before he got to the door.

"Bye," she greeted, then nodded at Viggo as he followed behind.

"There's some-- there's a tip in there," Orlando called back, smiling, so she wouldn't miss it and think him miserly, and she frowned.

"You already," she said, and pointed at the till behind the bar. "Earlier."

Orlando thought about that, a hazy memory surfacing of her mood changing like dissolving clouds. "Oh," he said, then shrugged. "Oh well. There's more!"

"That was generous," Viggo said, when they got outside and Orlando was blinking in the evening warmth. It'd gone dark and fragrant while they'd been inside, afternoon sidling into dusk. There'd probably be bugs around now, too. "Giving her all that."

"Can't disappoint the manager of the Crazy Fish," Orlando shrugged, then grinned in memory, hearing Dom's song float back at him. He saw Viggo mouth the words in confusion, and waved his question away. "In-joke. Anyway. It's nice out here. We walking?"

He half expected Viggo's knuckles to slip against the back of his hand as they set off across the dark field, shoes scuffing dry grass; it was that sort of mood. No hand-holding actually appeared to be developing, though, so Orlando experimented with drunken walks until Viggo reached out and cupped his elbow. More like it.

"Did you wanna talk about anything?" Orlando said, soft as he could manage. He was glad he wasn't wearing a coat. The heat of Viggo's hand wouldn't have got through a coat. Thank god for Elijah and his confident internal thermostat.

"More like I wanted to make sure you got back to the encampment alright."

"Shouldn't have chased Dom off, then," Orlando said, enjoying the sound of Viggo's voice folding round long words more than ever.

"I thought you two had a disagreement," Viggo said lightly, and Orlando shivered.

"Wanted to be alone with you," he almost said, the words becoming, "Wanted to, umm, needed a break," just in time. He thought quickly - which might, he realised, as image-tangled concepts tripped merrily through his mind, have been a mistake. "You know how two wrongs don't make a right? Well. Two drunks don't make a sober." Quite.

Viggo laughed softly. "No," he said. "They wouldn't."

Eh, Orlando thought. No harm done. "And two rights...?"

"Don't make a left," Viggo finished, warmly, and Orlando caught himself la-- well, chortling would probably be the word. Happy and self-congratulatory, check. He hadn't the faintest idea what they were quoting, but they clearly were, and that was oddly wonderful.

"Bugger," Orlando said, a moment later, stumbling on something horrible and slippy. Probably milk, knowing his luck. Viggo's hand slipped to his wrist and closed tight, righting him again. Orlando smiled contentedly. No use crying over it, whatever it was. Haha.

"You alright?"

"Absolutely," Orlando said, perhaps a tiny bit too quickly. He could hear the laughter in his own voice, warm and infectious, although that, now he thought about it, sounded pretty icky. His voice wasn't icky. So. Anyway.

"I think you're over there, yeah?" Viggo said, and Orlando started to say,

"No, I'm here," and then caught on. Fork in the road. Hunched silhouettes up ahead, whole tribes of trailers clustered round the food marques. His trailer was over there, right. "Oh. Something like that. It's green."

"Can you find your way?"

"No."

He felt Viggo look at him, could just make out his turning profile in the diffused glow from a boundary-marker a few hundred yards away. "You can't find your way," Viggo said, flatly. Orlando grinned and shook his head, then realised Viggo couldn't see him.

"Nope," he said.

"Fine," said Viggo, amusement audible, though Orlando was suddenly drunkenly unsure whether it was with him or at him. Also, Viggo had let go of his wrist. He did appear to be steering Orlando up the track towards his big green trailer, though, which made everything else seem rather trivial.

"Almost like a first date," Orlando said happily, and then almost froze in horror, hearing the words actually swan about in the air.

Viggo missed a step, then picked up the pace again. His voice, when he spoke, was very even: "What--"

"Nothing," Orlando said immediately, casting about for something else to say. Cuisine? Art? Sport? "Do you follow football, at all?" he said, then remembered, "oh, wait, culture divide. Thingie? Soccer?"

"No, earlier," Viggo persisted, "what did you just say?"

"Football," Orlando said firmly. "Sean Bean likes it a lot, but you probably prefer rugby, because of all your time in America. Football is like--"

"I know what football is," Viggo said loudly, pulling them sharply to a standstill, and then exhaled hard, audibly irritated. "Jesus," he muttered. "I wish I knew what went on in your head."

Orlando widened his eyes. He was swaying a little, what with having been moving and now standing still. "You do?"

"Sometimes," Viggo said, and then they were walking again, slower than before, steadily in time.

Orlando thought about making drunken moves again to coax a little more contact, then figured it'd be pushing his luck.

"A lot, actually," Viggo said, and Orlando frowned. He'd lost track again.

"What?"

"um," Viggo said, then sighed.

Orlando looked at him. They were coming up to the turning for his trailer. "What?"

"Why did Dom say you thought I was superficial?"

What? "What?"

"Earlier."

"Oh." Oh. It-- bothers him, Orlando realised, surprised. "Why can you remember that?" he asked, instead of answering. The answer was far too boring for this situation. This was interesting. "I was drunk. It was ages ago."

"Less than an hour ago," Viggo said, and made a movement that was maybe a shrug in the dark. "You remember, anyway."

"Only 'cause you reminded me," Orlando said doggedly. "Otherwise--"

"Superficial, Orlando?"

The turning was here. "That's my turning," Orlando said.

Viggo laughed shortly. "You remember where you are now?"

"Yup."

"Orlando." Orlando looked at him. The breeze was wafting his shirt about, exactly how Orlando'd imagined it. All solid-ghosty. "Superficial?"

"We should go riding sometime," Orlando said, lightly. He decided he'd say this, then go inside. "I was thinking it'd be a gorgeous evening tonight, and it is, but I guess we couldn't now. Even on two horses. You'd have to hold me on, ha. I don't know how I'd cope on a horse on my own, though it'd be excellent--"

"Orlando?"

"--and - for fuck's sake, I was talking out my ass. You could never be superficial and you're a twat for harping on about it - and the horses, they'd be wonderful. Hot and energetic in the dark." He sounded like a twat himself, but he could almost smell the night air rushing by him, and it'd be so cool. Plus if he was gonna go inside after this, he wanted it to last as long as possible. "Can you imagine? I haven't ridden properly in ages - not not for a camera type properly. And out here. Wow."

"You want to go riding tonight," Viggo said doubtfully, and Orlando almost groaned. It was whimsy, alright? He didn't need Viggo spoiling it with logic. At least he'd let up about the superficial, though. "I don't think it'd be a good idea, looking at you."

"I know that," Orlando snapped, and shook his head irritably. Christ. He wasn't stupid, for all Viggo might think. He could barely keep the reins straight on himself right now, let alone a whole actual separate animal, and he knew it was stupid anyway, the riding off into a sunset together, but it was fuckin' cruel to actually tell him.

"Maybe tomorrow," Viggo was saying, and Orlando almost heard brakes shrieking in his fuddled brain.

"What?"

"It'd be..." Viggo said. "It sounds-- just not tonight, alright?"

Oh god. "One horse or two," Orlando asked, holding his breath.

"Two," Viggo said, like the alternative had never occurred to him, and then he laughed, catching on, something sparkling in his eyes in the dark. "You tart," he accused, and Orlando tutted softly, heart racing, and skimmed his knuckles down the length of Viggo's chest. The pale material seemed to glow slightly in the gloom.

"If it was tonight," he said softly, not entirely sure what he was doing but the sparkle! the sparkle! he couldn't ignore it, "it'd have to be one."

Viggo caught his wrist, stopped his knuckles drifting any lower. "What, or you'd fall off?"

"Into a ditch," Orlando confirmed, wondering if Viggo could feel his pulse jumping under his fingers. "You'd have to - yeah." He swallowed. He felt startlingly clear-headed, and realised how close they were standing. "I should go in."

"Go-- yes," Viggo said, after a moment's pause. Faint, choppy laughter came from some trailer somewhere out there in the dark. "You. should."

The lack of enthusiasm in his voice was just delicious. Orlando held his breath, listening for any more telling syllables, and heard - or imagined he heard - the tiniest catch-drag of a sigh, before the faint laughter sounded again and Viggo's thumb moved against his wrist, and Orlando turned his hand over so his fingers brushed Viggo's palm.

"Orl--"

"If you say my name once more when I'm the only one here," Orlando interrupted tightly, and then Viggo had swerved closer and kissed him, chaste and light in the dark but on the lips, god, christ-- and Orlando inhaled sharply and then froze, stunned, unable to comprehend that this warm, dry, soft sensation could actually be Viggo's mouth against his own.

It... was. It was, but not like it would have been in Orlando's head. For one thing, in his head, he would've initiated it. So. Also, there was a total lack of aggression to this; Viggo was almost as still as Orlando, just the faintest brush of his bottom lip indicating that it was, in fact, a kiss, and not - tripped and fell, declared Orlando's brain, loudly - and not an accident.

It was like the world might possibly be shimmering into something else entirely. He closed his eyes, feeling like a fool. He wanted to - anything, to laugh, to slide closer or yelp joy at the sky or even just kiss him back, but he actually didn't dare move, and stupid inconsequential phrases were spinning through his brain, and he felt absolutely fucking terrified, and then Viggo made a tiny noise in the back of his throat.

"Mh?" Orlando replied, matching volume and brevity, too enchanted for anything else, and then it was like he slammed into his body, and this was happening, actually happening, and the natural response would be to kiss him back and so-- Orlando did. Just light, just moving his lips enough to make his skin prickle all over in delight. Feeling Viggo respond in kind. Fucking hell.

"Well, ow, really," Viggo said distantly, without pausing, and Orlando realised slowly that his nails were stuffed hard against Viggo's palm, and he thought he should probably apologise, but this was happening now, a whispered dialogue in light touches of mouths, and apologies weren't high on his list of priorities.

He pried his grip off Viggo's hand, and promptly found their fingers laced. It was difficult not to give a huge grin. He wished Viggo's trailer was here, so they could stumble into it.

"I-- really shouldn't be doing this," Viggo murmured, and Orlando left his lips drift a little apart, a tight joy whistling through him when Viggo kissed him firmer, one hand coming to cup the base of his scull. There was an odd desperation in it.

"Why?"

"I promised myself I wouldn't a dozen times on the way over." There was a wrenched pause, and then Viggo stepped back and sighed. "And I've just reminded myself why."

"Fuck," Orlando said quietly, swaying again.

"I'm sorry."

"Oh don't even tell me that," Orlando said hotly, and touched his own mouth. It hadn't even been a proper kiss with tongues, hadn't been anything more than a chapped press of skin, but it was still their first kiss, and not memorable for the right reasons at all.

Viggo was saying something apologetic, and it reminded Orlando that he still needed to apologise for burying his nails in Viggo's hand. Or maybe that didn't count now. He wasn't sure. He needed to sleep. "...trying to make it easier for both of us."

Orlando opened his mouth indignantly. "By kissing me and stopping?"

"That wasn't what I said," Viggo said, and Orlando waved him down.

"Yeah, I wasn't listening earlier," he explained, and it was Viggo's turn to look indignant, "but I tuned in, and excuse me? make it easier?"

"It's not gonna be easy," Viggo said, and Orlando still didn't really know what the it was, but he wasn't gonna let a little factoid like that stop him.

"Okay, I'm really tired now. I have a headache coming. However," he said, stalking closer again, pleased he wasn't on the wrong side of a height difference, catching the front of Viggo's shirt before he could back away, "I still know what'd be easy."

"Oh, so do I," Viggo said wryly, and Orlando ignored him.

"If you came up to me and did this," he said, sliding his hand up the back of Viggo's neck, "and this," kissing the corner of Viggo's mouth, feeling the resistance, "and-- but you've gotta play along, you bastard," he muttered, and Viggo laughed like surprise.

"I've gotta?" He touched the back of Orlando's head, which felt promising.

"Yes," Orlando said, and tried again, pressing his lips to the corner of Viggo's mouth, then drawing back impatiently. "You're not playing along."

"You haven't told me the rules."

"You're a clever boy; work them out yourself," Orlando growled, and Viggo was holding his head in both hands, fond and quite useful for preventing the world from spinning so much, although Orlando suspected Viggo didn't know about the usefulness.

"I've already got rules," Viggo was telling him softly, his voice as dark and lustrous as his eyes, "and I broke some tonight, and I can't afford to break any more, but--"

"But?" Orlando demanded.

"But since I'm already in trouble," Viggo shrugged, and leant in, lips parting vicious-sweet against Orlando's, guiding Orlando to kiss him back open-mouthed and hard. Christ, Orlando thought, and now there was the faint tabasco-tomato and the wet taste of inside Viggo's mouth, because Orlando was kissing him, tingling with stubble-rasp, tremors and impulses fighting to heat his tongue.

Orlando's fingers slid up into Viggo's hair, pressing closer, wishing he'd had the fucking foresight to unzip Elijah's top except he'd still have his mauve top underneath and anyway it'd take an amazing and frankly unnatural foresight to be able to predict something like this--

Viggo was solid, though, and slipped one hand down to Orlando's waist and held him in place, no darting away this time, and Orlando suspected that Viggo had planned to kiss him once and dramatic, and set about proving him wrong. Twice, baby. Eight times.

"This is getting out of control," Viggo muttered, when Orlando nudged his hips deliberately, and Orlando licked purposefully into his mouth again, kept on nudging until Viggo squirmed.

Viggo caught his tongue with a light suction, pulsing it, and then Orlando was squirming as well. I want to fuck you, he thought deliriously, and then, ohh. Or you could do me, but there was no point in saying stuff like that, stuff that'd shock Viggo back to reality, so he let his body ride out the concept of it instead, until his hands were folded against Viggo's hips and that damn shirt felt damp beneath his palms.

Viggo broke off the kiss, but Orlando tilted his head back hopefully, and the quiet victory of feeling Viggo's mouth against his throat made his head spin even more. Hands, too; Viggo's hands sliding down his sides, competent and decisive and firm, curving in at his waist and gathering him uncompromisingly closer, fingers spreading until Orlando felt claimed.

"Inside," he heard himself whisper, and Viggo tugged him closer and slipped one hand beneath Elijah's jacket, beneath the top-with-holes, finding Orlando's spine and resting at the base of it. Orlando shivered at the press of Viggo's erection against his stomach, clutching Viggo's hips, hands going to fists in wordless frustration. "C'mon."

"Shouldn't," Viggo whispered, against the hollow beneath Orlando's ear, and Orlando pulled at Viggo's hips, focusing deliriously on the blunt solid bulge that meant the uneasiness in Viggo's voice was merely on intellectual grounds.

Orlando tilted his head, pressing his skin against Viggo's mouth, inhaling sharply as Viggo sucked his neck in wordless feverish reply to the incoherent demands of Orlando's hands. "Yeah," Orlando said thickly, wondering if the depth of his voice made Viggo's lips buzz, "but I think we should, and we both know I'm the smart one when all's said and done."

Viggo kissed his earlobe, creating a whitenoise patter of sensation, and paused; Orlando let his own breathing go just as hard and fast and light as it wanted to, letting himself tremble in Viggo's arms. Resist that, he thought distractedly, as Viggo made a tight little noise and started kissing his throat again.

"C'mon," Orlando coaxed, and Viggo bit him, and Orlando made his involuntary gasp into a rumble of approval at one end.

The rumble turned into a whine when Viggo pulled away.

Orlando glared at him. "What?" He thought he'd honestly never seen a more rumpled, frustrated, debonair filmstar in his life. He shivered, then couldn't help but smile when Viggo blinked and started to glare right back at him.

"We're stopping this," Viggo informed him.

Orlando took the opportunity to shift from one foot to the other, with all the tiny flexing against Viggo's palms and thighs and cock that that involved. "Yeah." Take your hands off me, and we'll think about it.

"We are."

"You're going," Orlando nodded, smiling at him, and moved his hand, sliding his knuckles beneath Viggo's untucked shirt, pressing them against the confined impatience of his cock. "No?"

"No," Viggo said, but his eyes were closed, and Orlando thought it probably meant, yes.

"No," Orlando agreed, sliding his hand to Viggo's hip and shifting back to the other foot, watching Viggo's jaw clench. Good. Feel that.

He leant backwards into the dark and tested the ground with one heel, then the other; Viggo's fingers pushed demandingly further up under his shirt, and Viggo tugged him sulkily back until his nose was warm against Orlando's ear.

"Let's just imagine you've gone home," Orlando whispered, baring his throat again, hissing softly when Viggo's mouth opened and the hot seizing sweetness of it was like it'd never gone away. "You're walking back and I'm in bed, moping."

"You'd be asleep," Viggo corrected, somewhat petulantly, which was utterly surreal in yet another new way.

Orlando tried to keep his sky-wide grin out of his voice. "I'd be moping." He tried to kiss Viggo's ear in return, ended up nuzzling his shoulder and breathing fit to secure a life-long oxygen high. His fingers, tucked inside Viggo's waistband against his hip, started sliding back towards a more central attraction. "Or imagining--"

"Okay, I believe you, you'd be moping," Viggo said quickly, and Orlando stepped backwards again, and Viggo's fingers spread around the base of Orlando's back and dug in. Come back, Viggo's body was saying, and Orlando's hands said,

No, come on, and Orlando paused, his fingers stiff against Viggo's cock, and they swayed briefly in the dark.

"Half an hour," Viggo said eventually, and Orlando nodded and pressed his palm against Viggo's erection and kissed the side of Viggo's throat and thought, heh, yeah. I will absolutely be letting you escape, one-hundred-per-cent certainly.

"Okay," he said, swallowing as Viggo gave him a quick deliberate grind and then twisted his crotch away from Orlando's hand. Orlando's fingers tingled, and he became aware that he was panting. He still felt a little drunk, his breathing was laughably out of control, and this time, when Orlando stepped backwards in the general direction of the trailer, Viggo moved with him.

They almost fell over, but the steps jarred blessedly against the back of Orlando's ankles, and they edged up them together, belly to belly, mouth to mouth. It's a threshold moment, Orlando thought triumphantly, getting the key in first time, and his head span as he wrench the door open and reached in, snapping on the light with one groping hand.

Viggo made a sharp quiet noise, taking a step backwards onto the grass again. Orlando span round and froze; the electric light was swimming in his eyes, and its shaft fell shy of Viggo's face, just picking out the toes of his shoes against the scruffy green-brown grass.

"What?" Orlando demanded, closing the distance between them in one slightly-clunky stride, almost overbalancing as he navigated the two-step stair. His hands found Viggo's forearms, and he had to force himself not to tug. "Hey."

"Look," Viggo said, and Orlando couldn't bear to hear the rest of that conspicuously down-beat sentence, ducked his head and pressed at Viggo's mouth and started breathing again as soon as he'd coaxed a flame into Viggo's kiss once more.

The kiss spiked and pitched and gentled. When Viggo pulled back again, Orlando tried to joke. "You know there's a bed, just there--"

"I can't do this," Viggo said softly, hands settling on Orlando's shoulders and applying deliberate pressure. "I'm sorry."

Aggrieved, Orlando went for another kiss, then exhaled tightly when Viggo turned to miss it.

"I'm sorry," Viggo repeated, and shook his head, and Orlando tried to glare at him and found that the thick fall of his own shadow made Viggo's expression a limitless possibility. "I can't do this to you."

Orlando almost growled. "It's what I want, you dick."

"I know, and I'm sorry," Viggo said, taking his hands off Orlando's shoulders and stepping back. "I'm leading you on."

"You don't have to be." He hated himself for a full three seconds, for sounding so wet. But he'd told him about the horses, for christ's sake. And he'd been kissed.

"But I." Viggo stopped, and his tone of voice was so helpless that Orlando felt his anger rear. Enough of the passive-aggressive psyching out, for the love of God-- "I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning and find that the stuff between us is ruined."

"I thought it was just half an hour."

Viggo looked at him warningly. "Don't even pretend you thought that. And," he added swiftly, "don't pretend you don't know that it's a risk, because you're too drunk to pull it off and not drunk enough to have forgotten."

"Oh?"

The heat that Orlando felt dashing through his eyes must've shone like murder, because Viggo's voice fell again. "Look," he insisted softly, "I know you think it'd be fine - but I promise, I've been here, and I'm trying not to make things worse."

"Then stay away from me," Orlando said tightly, voice getting louder, "and try a whole lot harder, and stop jerking me on the fucking string. Because right now, you're just fucking with my hopes, messing me about, messing me up all day-- fuck, starting with the milk that wasn't even about me."

His voice ceased all at once, and the silence pounded, and then eventually, Viggo said, "I'll get out of your way, good night," and Orlando found himself alone, thrumming with anticlimax, and in staggering need of a lay-down.


He woke up angry, snapped twice at the boy gluing on his ears, gave the hobbits a death-glare when they'd offered jovial Co-codemol, then felt better when he'd washed a couple of tablets down. That at least would deal with the physical pain.

"You must tell us if you're allergic," Denise said, frowning as she arranged the silver chain of the Evenstar locket to twine artfully through the slants of his collars. "Does that itch?"

"No," Orlando said, confused, and it wasn't until he tilted his head back and scowled at the mirror that he realised, yes, Viggo's attention had left a faint pink tinge. "Well, it tickled a bit, earlier," he amended, wickedly tempted to tell her the truth, and she packed him back to make-up, which would have been a pain if he hadn't bumped into Aragorn on the way.

Aragorn smiled uncertainly at him.

"I'm just off to make-up," Orlando said pleasantly, and inclined his head. "Do you see? Picked up a few marks somewhere, looks like stubble-rash but it couldn't be, could it? They want to cover it up some more. Say it looks painful."

Aragorn set his jaw. "And is it?"

"Just an irritation," Orlando said, and walked past, glancing back when he got to the make-up trailer and feeling a fierce wash of annoyance on finding that Aragorn, far from watching his poignant departure, must have seen fit to go back to work instead.

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code to link to this page: <a href="http://www.yearningvoid.net/stories/calico/000075.html">Deficiency</a> by Calico