Pairing: EW/OB, LotR RPS
Length: 1,000 words
Disclaimer: Total fiction!
For: vegetariansushi, who understands the colour blue.
irresponsive sounding of the sea
Elijah jogged the first few steps into the water, shuddering at the cold, then dropped the surfboard, threw himself on top and started paddling towards the breakline. A dozen strokes, and his arms began to burn with the pleasant, hungry feeling of hard work. He pushed himself through the white water and out onto the restless skin of deep ocean, then sat up on the board, watching the horizon lift and dip, the approach of oncoming waves, the fearless blue of the sky.
His breath sounded sharp in his ears, the lone animal sound in his world: not even the voices of gulls tempering the air.
The ocean sucked at his legs, a touch of warmth sliding past, and for a moment there was something about the depth of the not-cold, the smell of kelp, the dizzying stretch of sky, and he was back there, back in his own past.
Just like New Zealand, isn't it? said the Orlando in his head, lazily dipping his hands into the water, backing and filling until his phantom board was perfectly aligned with Elijah's.
Elijah's eyelids felt slow and heavy as he squinted towards the beach, not looking at the blur of colour by his side. "Nothing's like New Zealand, Orli."
Orlando reached out, rubbing his fingers across Elijah's knuckles. You're too young to have good old days.
"Not too young for regrets though," Elijah snapped, pulling his hand away with a splash.
Orlando sighed. You don't mean that.
Elijah looked over his shoulder--the shoulder away from Orlando--judging the height of the oncoming waves.
A mound of water swelled its way up, up, eating the horizon.
That looks like a beauty,Orlando said. His hair was short, in the mohawk, stiff with salt.
Elijah looked down at his board. "You take it."
Orlando frowned as he turned to face Elijah. Don't be daft.
Elijah shook his head. "You go first."
Come on, said Orlando, and his voice was full of that old, familiar enthusiasm. It's too good to miss, Lij.
Elijah's board lifted and fell as the swell surged past on its way towards shore. "I've already missed it."
The wave reared up, churned, twisted, became the sleek, graceful motion of a snake for a glorious foam-flecked moment, then crashed in on itself, turning into a messy helter-skelter of white before rushing up to embrace the shore.
Orlando was quiet as he watched the destruction of the wave. Far away, a lone gull finally began to scream.
You don't want me here, do you?
"I always want you here."
Orlando shook his head. I don't believe you.
"For fuck's sake! I wasn't the one who said..." Elijah lifted a briny hand and rubbed at his face. "God. I'm so tired, Orli."
I know. Orlando slid off his board and swam through the water until he reached Elijah. He rested a lean-fingered hand on Elijah's knee. You should take the next wave, Lij.
Elijah closed his eyes and swallowed. "I don't want to."
Orlando's fingers gripped tight. Take it.
Orlando reached up, snagged Elijah's t-shirt and pulled him down until they were face to face.
It'll be good, Orlando said, and kissed Elijah's mouth. It'll be worth it. Another kiss.
Eyes still closed tight, Elijah kissed back, feeling the salt-spikes of Orli's hair beneath his hands, the smooth, questing press of his lips and tongue, tasting the salt of Orli's skin, the hot, wet desperation of his want.
Orlando groaned and pulled away from the kiss. He was breathing hard, and his fingers were pressing bruises into Elijah's body. Here comes the wave, Lij.
"I know," Elijah said, and opened his eyes on the empty slap and lull of the sea against the hard surface of his board.
He dug his arms into the sea and pulled, fought as hard as he could, feeling the thrum of the tide turn in his blood and beneath his board; then the wave took him, lifting him up, and he was suspended for an infinite moment between control and disaster, before dropping down the face of the water, his board firm and alive beneath his feet, pushing him along. He reached out to trail his hand along the water's ribbed surface then jammed hard up towards the curling crest. He shot out of the wave's tunnel and hung there, time slowed, spray prisming all around him in the sunlight, before dropping back onto the wave's curved slide. He zigged and zagged, riding it out, until he swerved into soft water. He stepped off, his knees a little rubbery, and grabbed the board under one arm, jogging out of the water, up to the dry sand of the beach.
Elijah bent and picked up his towel, pressed it to his face.
Aloof, said the next wave as it boomed against the shore. Aloof.
Elijah let go of the towel and turned back towards the sea.
"Don't come back," he said, watching as another wave threw itself towards him.
As that last wave's remnants swirled away, he draped the towel around his neck and picked up his things.
The sand burned the bare soles of his feet as he made the long trek back to the car.
Inspired by the wonderful Christina Rossetti sonnet:
The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me:-
"Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof, bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? What hand thy hand?"
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek,
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.