Title: Elijah’s Collection (1) — Gaydar
Pairing: EW/OB, LotR RPS (Pre-slash)
Length: 4,300 words
For: abundantlyqueer — thankyou for the inspiration.
Disclaimer: I don’t know any of these people — it’s just a lucid fever-dream.
Summary: Elijah likes to collect things.
Notes: I’m thinking this is part one of four, but who the hell knows.
This also has some implied BB/DM and IM/OMC.
Elijah’s Collection (1) — Gaydar
Elijah leaned back against his trailer, smoking a cigarette. A few feet away, Ian was talking to an extra—one of the elves, by the look of it. Elijah watched covertly, feigning a casual disinterest in anything other than his smoke.
“That was amazing,” said the extra, “I don’t suppose I could get…” and held out a piece of paper and a pen.
“Of course, darling,” said Ian. “Anything for the adoring masses,” his voice dipping provocatively on ‘adoring’.
Elijah admired Ian’s voice modulation—it was one of the many talents that made Ian such a legend in the business. Ian did the whole Great-Actor-Playing-to-the-Public thing with such flair, especially when the doco crews and news people were hanging around the set. Or when he was in public-flirt mode with a fan.
Elijah had taken to watching Ian a lot lately. Partly because he was so watchable; but mostly because Ian was a crash-course in adult acting. So far Elijah had collected a lot of voice modulation, raised eyebrows, and a few sweeping hand-gestures. But what he really wanted was that indefinable something that Ian exuded—power maybe. Or sex. Elijah wasn’t really sure yet. He just knew he wanted it.
Ian handed back the piece of paper, and the extra laughed in delight at whatever he had written. “Wow,” he said. “Thanks, Mr McKellan.”
At that point Elijah fully expected the fan to be given the swift heave-ho, in Ian’s polite, British way. But that wasn’t the way it went.
“Call me Ian,” he replied, clapping a friendly hand on the extra’s arm.
The extra leaned forward a little, so that he was in Ian’s space, tilted his head, and smiled the way only an adoring fan can. Ian smiled back.
“Can I buy you a drink,” asked the extra.
“Delighted,” said Ian. “The antipodes seem to stimulate a thirst for cold, alcoholic beverages, don’t you find?”
And off they went, walking side-by-side and talking about New Zealand beer.
“Holy fuck!” said Elijah. Had he actually seen what he thought he’d just seen? Because if so, he’d never seen it before! Elijah considered the facts: Ian had just flirted with an extra, the extra had invited him to the pub, and Ian had accepted.
Yes, Elijah decided, that was gaydar! Honest-to-God, real-life gaydar in action.
Elijah had wanted gaydar ever since he realised that he was facing The Transition. Child star to adult star was a bitch—most actors fucked it up. But Elijah had a strategy. It was, as he fondly thought of it, the Collection.
The Collection had begun years ago. Elijah had started it by mimicking a few adult mannerisms, so that he could act the part of the mature professional when necessary. It had worked too. Now, he could automatically slip into his constructed Elijah-role whenever he felt out of his depth: a touch of Ang’s thoughtfulness; a dash of Macaulay’s confidence; a bit of Paul’s direct, no-bullshit eye contact; a smattering of Mel’s charm.
Elijah couldn’t really remember the exact moment he began to think of it as the Collection; it was some time after his first film, when it started to become obvious that he was going to have to find a way to deal with all the grown-up movie people. Especially the executives, who were a singularly strange breed. Even when he only came up to their knees, they had never seemed to notice that he was a kid. Mostly, they had spoken to him like a miniature adult, except on the rare occasions something would happen to make them aware of his age—like his tutor giving him an earful for not finishing his homework—and then they would suddenly speak very loudly at him, in words of less than one syllable. Basically, they used ‘er’ a lot, looked uncomfortable, and left as quickly as they could.
In hindsight it had been good training for Frodo. Elijah was surprisingly familiar with the whole not-child, not-adult vibe that surrounded the hobbits.
Recently, though, Elijah had become aware of the need to develop more range, because The Transition would change all the rules. He knew—without his agent saying a word—that with his non-macho look, range was going to be important. And gaydar was right up there at the top of his wish-list. If he could deploy gay with convincing subtlety, he would be able to do anything from buddy movies to art-house porn. Gay, as long as it was subtle and covert, was good for business. And Elijah would have added gay to the Collection before now, but he’d been hindered by a lack of any ability to pick up on it. Roaring queers aside, Elijah had the gaydar capacity of a cucumber… or, quite probably, less than that.
Until today, watching Ian. Elijah had actually spotted Ian’s gaydar without any of the other hobbits making a crude joke about it first! Elijah was elated. He carefully made a mental note for the Collection:
Gaydar: touch, narrowed body space, eye contact, smiling, proposition, acceptance.
"Gay," said Dom, tilting his head towards a pretty blond in skin-tight leather pants buying a drink at the bar.
Elijah quickly turned to look. Filming had been a bitch for the last two weeks, so he hadn’t had many chances to test out his new gaydar. Unfortunately the sight that greeted him was a disappointment—the man was way too obviously gay to be any kind of challenge at all.
"Oh, that was a tricky one," said Billy. "What exactly was it that gave him away?"
"Fuck off," said Dom, amiably. "One word—leather. I get points for leather."
"Only five points," said Sean. "It’s not like it’s even interesting leather!"
“'Cause you’re such an expert on exotic leather, Mr Married-and-Faithful,” said Dom, scathingly.
Sean raised an eyebrow. “Hey, you’re the one who’s always saying my wife has me whipped.”
“Ach!” said Dom, leaning over and pretending to dry heave. “In a metaphorical sense, Astin. Now you’ve given me mental scars!”
“He’s pretty though,” said Elijah, refusing to be distracted from his gaydar. “His make-up is really good. Dom should get points for that.”
Dom, straightened up and took another look. “Trust you to notice the make-up, Lij. God, you’re such an actor.”
“He’s not that pretty, anyway,” said Billy. “Elijah’s way prettier.”
Elijah shrugged the comment off, his expression transforming into the polite face he always wore when complements arrived out of the blue.
Noticing his disguised discomfort, Orlando changed the subject. "Talking of people who’re as queer as a six pound note, have you seen Ian's latest?" he asked.
"Pretty?" asked Sean, without much interest.
"They're always pretty," said Billy.
“Sometimes they’re even prettier than Lij,” said Dom, with a smirk.
“And don’t think Ian doesn’t notice that fact,” said Sean.
But Elijah had recovered his poise. He responded by punching Sean in the arm, which caused him to domino into Dom, spilling both their drinks and causing Sean to cough on his mouthful of beer.
“Serves you right,” said Elijah, and sat back in his chair, arms crossed, so that Sean couldn’t be tempted to retaliate in kind.
Ignoring this byplay, Dom wiped his hand off on his jeans and said, "For an old guy, Ian sure is a smooth operator. I think he scores more than me."
"I think he scores more than Orlando," said Billy, with genuine admiration.
"Hey!" said Dom. "Did you just impugn my manhood?"
"You'll have more than your manhood impugned if Ian hears you calling him old," said Elijah. "He'll smooth you into a puree." Elijah’s expression said clearly that such a fate was only fitting for Dom.
At the wounded doe-eyed look Dom pulled in response, Sean almost choked on another mouthful of beer. "Don’t make me laugh when I'm drinking!"
Elijah pounded him on the back, more enthusiastic than helpful. “Poor little hobbit.”
"Ten points to me," said Billy, pointing at Sean and Elijah gleefully. "Hobbit on hobbit action!"
"Hey," said Sean, leaning away from Elijah's fist.
"Not fair," said Dom. "Sean and Elijah are straight."
"Come back, honey," said Elijah, hamming like mad. "You know you want my magic love fingers."
"Yeah," said Billy. "Straight. That'll be ten points for me."
"Oi. Keep your supposedly magic fingers to yourself!" said Sean, fighting a losing battle to keep his beer in his glass. "Spill any more of my beer and you'll be buying me a new one."
"You heard him Lij," said Orlando, leering. "Use your magic fingers on yourself—kinky public hobbit masturbation has to be worth at least fifteen points."
Elijah stuck one of the fingers in question up at Orlando. "Nah," he said. "I'd rather buy Sean a new beer." He turned back to Sean, fingers poised, only to be met with a frown and an empty glass.
"None of that," said Sean, waggling the glass. "Stop being a cheap date and buy me a new beer."
"Yeah, Lij" said Dom. "Your turn."
"Make mine a double this time," said Billy.
"You always have a double," said Dom.
"So," said Billy, "do you want to make something of it?"
"You do realize," said Elijah, interrupting the incipient quarrel, "that you'll all burn in hell for encouraging me onto the path of alcoholism and public lewdness."
"Right," said Orlando, "because you're so young and innocent," and threw a beer mat at him.
Elijah caught it, grinned evilly, threw it back with a hard flick of the wrist, and then headed off to the bar.
At the bar, Elijah got an immediate reward for doing his civic duty. The barman took Elijah’s money, rubbed it in a weird figure-eight against his pants to get rid of a splash of beer, and slapped the note into the till. Elijah slid a hand down to his thigh and mimicked the gesture—it was kind of cool, so he decided to keep it. While he waited, he looked around for anything else interesting he could add to the Collection. It was just the same old stuff—people having a good time, getting drunk, the occasional grope.
His attention was eventually snagged by two gorgeous women at the end of the bar. There was something familiar about them, but Elijah couldn't quite place them. They definitely weren't cast, although it was possible they were crew—Peter had so many units, it was hard to keep track. But after a moment running through his mental list, Elijah was pretty sure that wasn't how he knew them. It was puzzling—it wasn't as though he was familiar with a lot of New Zealanders, other than those involved in Rings. Maybe he didn’t know them at all, and it was just wishful thinking on the part of his libido.
The women were standing close, talking very intently, oblivious to the constant shift and flow around them. One was speaking with great animation, touching her friend's arm as she made a point. And then, feeling like an idiot, he got it.
Back at the table, he set the beers down and said, "Ten points to me."
"What?" said Dom. "Did you spot a pair of bonking dwarves in the loos or something?"
"The two women by the bar," said Elijah. "The blond and the red-head."
All of them dutifully turned to look at the women.
"For fuck's sake," said Dom.
"Ten points, right?" asked Elijah.
"I think," said Billy, slowly, "that you may actually be right."
Elijah decided not to take offence at the incredulity in Billy’s voice.
"How the fuck did you spot them?" said Dom, and then, with growing suspicion, "You don't know them, do you? Because that would be cheating."
"Right," said Elijah, "because I'm so plugged in to the New Zealand lesbian community!"
"So how did you spot them?" asked Billy. "Did we miss them snogging or something—‘cause that would definitely be worth more than ten points."
"No," said Elijah, with great dignity. "I just used my gaydar."
"Gaydar?" said Sean, as though he’d never heard of it before.
Orlando stared at Elijah in bewilderment. "Since when have you had gaydar?" he demanded.
"Since two weeks ago," said Elijah, and was forced to slide into his camera face to keep from grinning.
There was a sudden silence at the table. Elijah was the center of attention.
Sean put his beer down with a thump. "What happened two weeks ago?"
Elijah had been looking forward to this moment, and he was determined to mine it for every possible moment of dramatic tension. "I," said Elijah, "got a clue."
"A clue?" said Dom. "What the fuck does that mean?"
"What did you do?" demanded Orlando. "Who the hell gave you a clue?" Elijah was too caught up in the drama to notice the unhappy little frown creasing Orlando’s forehead.
"It was Ian, actually," said Elijah, with relish.
"Fuck!" said Orlando. Then, "I'm gonna kill him. I'm seriously going to kill him."
"Ian and I," said Sean, with a deadpan expression that put the fear of God into anyone who knew him, "are going to have very serious words."
"Not until after I've killed him!" said Orlando, looking like a man who knew not only how to fire two arrows at once, but where to find a heavy-duty bow.
"Hey," said Elijah, a little un-nerved by this turn of events. "Don't have kittens..."
"Are you alright?" demanded Billy. "Did he hurt you?"
This was perhaps the most un-nerving question so far. Nothing about sex ever bothered Billy.
"Of course he didn't hurt me," said Elijah, beginning to freak out in earnest. "Will you all just stop for a minute."
"What the fuck were you thinking?" said Dom. "Ian's old enough to be your… grandfather."
That was the last straw. This was not the drama that Elijah had envisioned, and it was time to roll credits before things got totally out of control.
"He didn't touch me!" Elijah hissed at them. "So just stop it. You're all acting like utter pricks."
"It’s going to be OK," said Sean, soothingly. "Don't try to cover up for him, Elijah. We need to know if you’re OK. Just tell us what happened."
For a moment Elijah actually considered telling them about the Collection. But one look at their anxious faces, and he didn't want to share that. Not while they were freaking him out.
"I saw him pick up that guy he's with—the pretty one. I just saw him do that, OK. That's all. I'd just never seen anyone I knew do that before." Elijah rubbed his forehead. "Jesus. That's the last time I tell any of you about one of my sexual epiphanies."
"So he never touched you?" asked Billy, clearly not convinced.
"No," said Elijah. "And now I think of it—ew! God, how could you even think that?"
"Well you said it," said Orlando, still looking angry. "You said Ian 'gave you a clue.'"
"He did give me a clue," said Elijah. "There's more than one way to give someone a clue, you know." His hand fluttered in an ineffectual gesture, attempting to suggest the immense range of possible clue-giving activities in the world.
"You implied sex," said Orlando, starting to look a little less like he was about to maim, rend and murder. He turned and appealed to the others. "Didn't he?"
"That is kinda what you implied," said Dom, and the others nodded in agreement.
"I imply things all the time," said Elijah. "Like that I have magic love fingers. But I think if you ask Sean, he'll tell you that was a load of crap."
"Right," said Sean, "you are very often full of crap."
"See," said Elijah. "So can we move on now."
"Before we do, and just to be absolutely clear," said Sean, carefully. "The whole gaydar thing—was that, you know, you coming out?" And at Elijah's blank look, "Cause that would be OK, you know. If you were."
Elijah looked around the table, and each of them nodded at him.
"Yeah, that would be cool," said Billy.
"Fine by me," said Dom, with a smirk.
Orlando just nodded, once, with a sharp little jerk of the head.
That just took the biscuit, as far as Elijah was concerned. "Talk about a double standard," he accused Sean. "Dom and Billy constantly go on about how gay everyone is, and they even have us playing their stupid-ass game. I mean, who the hell expects to find dwarves having sex in the loos of a pub?"
Dom snorted, and Billy began to grin.
"Or costumed extras making out on set—Peter would kill anyone who did that. It’s never going to happen! But Billy and Dom not only thought of it, they have a fucking scoring system for it!” Elijah paused. “No, excuse me, a gay fucking scoring system for their gay fucking game. Which they somehow have all of us playing. And yet, I don't see you asking them if they're coming out, Sean!"
Dom and Billy had completely lost it, and Sean had begun to chuckle, which just made Elijah more indignant.
"What's so fucking funny?" he demanded. "You were all about to go on the warpath a minute ago."
"Well duh!" said Orlando, finally losing the last of his brood. "Obviously Ian didn't give you that big a clue, after all."
At that, Sean laughed so hard tears started to roll down his cheeks and into the collar of his shirt.
In breathless puffs, squeezed between sobs of laughter, Dom wheezed, “gay fucking scoring system for our gay fucking game.”
Billy was capsizing into Dom. “Don’t,” he managed, between harsh grunts of mirth, “can’t breathe.”
Even Orlando was grinning at Elijah, as though he’d just made the funniest joke on earth.
"What?" Elijah asked, turning to look at Dom and Billy, who were clutching at each other in their paroxysms. "Oh," he said.
"Don't be getting ideas," wheezed Billy. "I'm straight."
"Riiiight," said Sean. “Straight like a very, very bent thing.”
"OK, I'm mostly straight," said Billy, wiping at his eyes.
"And Dom?" asked Elijah, feeling like the whole world was moving beneath his feet.
"The word that you're groping for," gasped Dom, "is bisexual."
"Careful," said Orlando, snickering, "you might give Elijah another clue."
"Actually, it's more like tri-sexual," said Billy, with an eyebrow wiggle. "If you know what I mean."
"Way too much information, you pervs," said Sean. "Don't be telling us about your threesomes!"
"You do threesomes?" asked Elijah, voice embarrassingly cracked. But strangely, after a moment of thought, that idea made the world settle back into place. He started to see the humour in the situation. "All right, I'm obviously an idiot."
"Nah," said Billy. "We're just twisted."
"Stick with us kid," said Dom. "We'll have you corrupted in no time. No time at all!"
"I think I'm afraid," said Elijah, a twisty feeling edging though his stomach at the thought of Dom and Billy and him and… threesomes.
"Don't worry," said Orlando. "If anyone gets too carried away, just let me know. I was pretty fond of my whole killing people plan." And there was a glimmer of that bow-at-hand look, directed at Dom and Billy, as he spoke.
"Yeah," said Sean, looking at Orlando. "Likewise with the serious talking."
Elijah felt a lump form in his throat. God he loved this movie. Even when he wasn't managing his usual mature and responsible act—when he was completely uncool, in fact—he felt safe.
"Thanks guys," he said, and meant it. "I'll take a raincheck on the threesomes, deaths and lectures for the moment, though."
"Sure, Lij," said Orlando, reaching over to pat him on the shoulder. "Anytime."
The hobbits were playing a game of hacky sak while waiting for Orlando to finish getting his face and ears removed.
“Jesus,” said Dom, kicking the beanbag to Elijah, “what the fuck is taking so long?”
“Go and find out, Lij,” said Billy.
“Why don’t you go, lazy git?” said Elijah, and kicked the bag on to Sean.
“‘Cause the crew eat out of your hand,” said Sean, “unlike the rest of us mere mortals.”
“You’re so full of shit,” said Elijah, but pulled away from the game.
“Mush, mush,” said Dom. “Some of us are dying of thirst.”
“Good,” said Elijah, heading over to the make-up trailer, “because one of you skinflints is buying the first round.”
Elijah turned the corner and left them behind, still bitching at him.
At the foot of the make-up trailer’s steps he paused, hearing a commotion inside. It seemed to be coming closer. Then Orlando banged out, staggering and rubbing his eyes. He stumbled on the top step and would have fallen if Elijah hadn’t put out a steadying hand. It landed on Orlando’s arm, and then slid around his shoulder as Orlando tilted into him, completely off balance.
“Careful there,” said Elijah, involuntarily stepping back at Orlando’s sudden weight, and grabbing at his other arm to keep them both from going over.
“I bloody hate de-eyeballing,” said Orlando. “Fucking contacts scratch the shit out of my eyes going in and even worse coming out.” He took a tiny step forward and rested his forehead against the side of Elijah’s head. “Everything’s blurry,” he said, sounding miserable.
“You OK?” asked Elijah, running a hand soothingly up and down the warm skin of Orlando’s arm.
“No,” said Orlando, his voice slightly muffled and very close. “Legolas sucks.”
“No way,” said Elijah, grinning. “Legolas rocks!”
Orlando pulled back a little, until they were face to face. “I thought he was a ‘nancing elf,’” he said, breath whispering against Elijah’s cheek.
“Yeah,” replied Elijah, looking into Orlando’s bloodshot eyes, “but in a hot way.”
Then, for a moment, Elijah lost his balance and everything was unsteady again; everything was shifting and tilting around them. He tightened his grip. Orlando must have been feeling it too, because he had a hand hooked in at the small of Elijah’s back... but Orlando wasn't holding on the way Elijah was. Orlando’s thumb was sliding across Elijah's skin in a tiny arc: tracing over the warm patch of bare skin between the waistband of his pants and the edge of his shirt.
“How hot?” asked Orlando, the misery gone from his voice, replaced by the breathy lilt he used for Legolas.
Orlando was so close that Elijah could smell his heady, distinctive scent: cold-cream, glue and end-of-the-day maleness. Elijah must have been close enough to smell all of the cast a thousand times, but something about this moment felt… intimate. Elijah’s breath caught in his chest. It felt like he’d never been this in-tune with anyone before. The tiny tickle on his back was a warm, electric connection.
Orlando was waiting for his answer and smiling at him with such affection, such adoration. Elijah couldn’t help but smile back. He felt so alive; his skin was prickling, his limbs felt warm and languid, and his nipples were hard beneath the rasp of his shirt. And with a shock, Elijah realized he was about two heartbeats away from being hard. Hard and in Orlando’s arms.
But beneath the shock there was recognition, because he’d collected this, used it, made it his own…
Gaydar: touch, narrowed body space, eye contact, smiling, proposition, acceptance.
This wasn’t acting, though. This was real. Suddenly way too real.
Panicking, Elijah dropped into automatic, channeled his Elijah-role, and said his line.
“Hot enough to stimulate a thirst for cold, alcoholic beverages.” He peeled his hand off Orlando’s arm; it felt swollen and outlandish, like it must be attracting attention. Elijah let it drop, awkwardly, to his side without looking at it.
A tiny frown edged between Orlando’s brows, and his arm fell free of its place around Elijah.
“The guys are waiting for us,” said Elijah, taking a step back, and sliding the other hand off Orlando’s shoulder. “They sent me to find you, so we could all go to the pub.”
The closeness was gone, as though it had never been. The space between them felt like a million light-years of wrong, but Elijah had no clue how to close it up again. Not without having to deal with… nearly being hard and in Orlando’s arms. Because it was one thing to get a theoretical clue about gaydar, but it was quite another to actually use it. For real sex. With real Orlando.
Freaking out all over again, Elijah turned and headed back to the hobbits. To safety. When Orlando silently fell in beside him, Elijah felt intense relief.
Once they’d turned the corner and the hobbits were in sight, Orlando asked, “You OK, Lij?”
“No,” said Elijah, not wanting to lie now the first shock had passed. He offered Orlando a shaky smile, “but in a good way.”
The shadow smoothed itself off Orlando’s face. “Good,” he said. “I can live without one of Sean’s lectures.”
Elijah was saved from having to respond by Billy, who, noticing their approach, clutched at his throat dramatically. “Thank God!” he said. “I was about to die a painful and thirsty death.”
“Sorry,” said Orlando. “Had a bit of trouble with the make-up people trying to gouge my eyes out.”
“A likely story,” said Dom. “Probably getting it on with the whole bunch of ‘em.” But it was said without any real heat, and no one noticed Elijah’s blush.
“Let’s get this show on the road, then,” said Sean, and they all set off for the parking lot, full of the usual noise and insults.
On the way Elijah surreptitiously lifted his hand and sniffed at it.
It smelled, very faintly, of Orlando.
On to Lines.