Feel free to leave comments calling me a bitch because of where I decided to end this part :)
I'll probably post the conclusion sometime on the weekend (the re-writes aren't all that major).
And now, without further ado...
Title: Elijah’s Collection (3.1)—Play
Pairing: EW/OB, LotR RPS (First Time)
Length: 4,100 (of 10,600) words
For: My darling Michael, who I still miss and always will.
Thanks: To my wonderful betas: scotsnow, rosiegamgee, Bron, and my New Zealand consultant michaelchance. And also to all those who left wonderful messages of support on my LJ.
Series: Elijah’s Collection, which currently consists of Part 1: Gaydar and Part 2: Lines.
Disclaimer: I don’t know any of these people—it’s just a lucid fever-dream.
Summary: Elijah plays. Mostly with Orlando.
Notes: I’m thinking this is part three of four, but who the hell knows.
I’ve never been to NZ, unfortunately, so I owe a big thanks to my Wellington beta and The Lonely Planet New Zealand. I’ve tried not to write anything too impossible, but I have taken a few liberties in the name of art.
As always, I’ve made stuff up. Like, Bent aren’t a real band. As far as I’m aware, there is no author named Raymond Crow. Deathtrap 3 is a figment of my imagination.
Elijah’s Collection (3.1)—Play
Every Which Way But Loose
As dusk was closing in, they pulled up at Elijah’s place.
“Home, sweet home,” said Orlando, looking over at Elijah.
“I think,” said Elijah, making no move to get out of the car, “that was the best date ever!”
“You’re cracked,” said Orlando. “It was a bloody fiasco from start to finish.”
“No, man,” said Elijah. “It had everything. Think about it!”
“I am,” said Orlando. “Believe me. Who could forget…”
Some Like It Hot
Elijah sat behind the make-up trailer in a vain attempt to get out of the gusting wind while he enjoyed a cigarette. He didn’t want to go inside, despite the chill of the wind. He wanted to be in the plainest possible view, on the off chance that Orlando might happen by between takes.
His skin tingled at the thought of Orlando.
Since the day of the Dreaded Make-up Trailer Incident, as Elijah’s brush with the psycho fan had been dubbed by Billy, Orlando seemed to have developed a whole new vocabulary of supportive touching. Elijah was starting to think that sometime, somewhere, Orlando had picked up a black belt in a super-secret, never-before revealed arcane martial art: one devoted entirely to non-erotic touch. Before the Dreaded Make-up Trailer Incident, Elijah hadn’t realised he had so many non-erogenous zones on his body.
It was only after Elijah had started to Collect some of the more interesting of Orlando’s techniques that he had realised there was a deliberate pattern to Orlando’s touch. In fact, taken collectively, the situation wasn’t nearly as non-provocative as each individual touch seemed.
It was embarrassing how long it had taken him to realise that the touching, for all of its comfort, was actually the latest stage in Orlando’s campaign of seduction.
Now that he had noticed, Elijah was pretty sure that it was his own absolute cluelessness about the whole gay thing that underpinned Orlando’s strategy of slow, tentative and utterly mind-blowing foreplay. True, there were days when he wished Orlando would pick up the pace a bit. But they were balanced out by the fact that there were still odd moments when the whole thing felt unreal, as though his libido had been hijacked by some immense tidal force that existed outside of his own body.
The more Elijah thought about it, the more sense Orlando’s game plan made, and the happier he was to play along, trusting that one day soon they’d get to the good stuff.
But playing along didn’t mean he always had to play fair...
Elijah stretched out a little more ostentatiously in his chair.
Shall We Dance
The wind had finally died down and the undiluted warmth of the sun had lulled Elijah into a doze that was verging on deep sleep. It was the gentle touch of a work-roughened hand stroking his neck that roused him.
“Mmmm,” said Elijah, slitting his eyes open. Orlando was looming over him in full Legolas drag.
“It’s hard life for some,” said Orlando, sliding his hand up higher and tugging at Elijah’s hair. “The rest of us have to work for a living.”
“I work for a living...” Elijah thrust his hips suggestively, “...and you’re right: it’s a hard, hard life.”
Orlando’s hand stilled, and for a nanosecond Elijah thought he’d pushed too far. But then Orlando was leering at him with hugely exaggerated lasciviousness.
“Oh baby,” said Orlando. “If I thought I could afford you, I’d ask you out on a date.”
Elijah’s breath hitched a little. He’d been an actor long enough to recognise a cue when he heard one. And he’d only been waiting for this particular cue for an eternity.
“Mate’s rates for you,” said Elijah fluttering his eyelashes. “And as it happens, I have a gap in my schedule on Sunday.”
“Great,” said Orlando, dropping the act. “I know just the thing.” He stopped touching Elijah and waved enthusiastically at the sky instead. “Skydiving. This weekend there’s a special deal—we can jump from three different planes!”
Elijah blinked a bit at Orlando’s enthusiasm, then stood up and stepped into Orlando’s space. “I’d just like to point out,” he jabbed a finger at Orlando’s chest, and tried not to get distracted by the pleasant give of Orlando’s muscles, “there is.” Jab. “No.” Jab. “Way. In. Hell.” Jab, jab, jab. “I am ever going skydiving.”
Orlando looked down at Elijah’s hand resting against his chest. “Fair enough,” he said. “How about...” and he pressed forward a little, into Elijah’s touch, and lowered his voice so that Elijah couldn’t help but lean towards him, “...paragliding?”
Lunch the next day was a miserable affair. It was pouring with a heavy, unseasonably cold rain, and the Catering tent was freezing.
Elijah reopened negotiations while poking disinterestedly at the left-over celery chunks he’d picked out of his salad. “We could go trawling for music,” he suggested. “Sometimes there’s great stuff at second-hand shops.”
Orlando took a huge bite of a sandwich he could barely get his mouth around. Elijah couldn’t help but notice that it had celery in it. A lot of celery. After a couple of chews Orlando managed, “You know how you feel about extreme sports?”
Elijah nodded, while piling his celery into a tower that managed to look almost completely unlike the mashed potato sculpture in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. As far as he was concerned, aliens could have all the earth’s celery. It would be no loss to humankind.
“That’s how I feel about shopping,” said Orlando, and took another huge bite of his sandwich.
A Hard Day’s Night
Elijah answered the phone on the second ring. “It’s two a.m., Orlando.”
“You’re awake,” said Orlando. “You just got that new game—Deathtrap 3. You’ll be up until you crack the next level.”
Elijah considered an indignant response for a moment, but then had to make a tricky move so that he wasn’t killed by a fire-breathing troll. “If I haven’t cracked it by Sunday, you could come over and play it with me,” he said, the phone precariously perched between his shoulder and ear.
“About that,” said Orlando. “What about dinner and a movie? That’s a classic, right?”
“Orlando,” said Elijah, “I want to go to a movie right now about as much as you’d want to spend your day off teaching me archery.”
There was silence at Orlando’s end of the line while Elijah narrowly avoided being eaten by giant carnivorous snails.
“I would,” said Orlando. “If that’s what you really wanted to do.”
Elijah pressed the game’s pause button, threw the console down onto the carpet, and grabbed at the phone before it could slide away.
“No way man,” said Elijah. “I mean, it’s cool that you’d do that. But this time has to be something we both want to do. We can get into duty dates later on, okay?”
“If we ever do anything as asinine as a duty date, I’m going to make you watch Flipper,” said Orlando, sounding much more cheerful. “Just so you know.”
“Not in this lifetime,” said Elijah, picking the console back up.
“That’s the plan,” said Orlando. “And watch out for the Portal of Draconis. Apparently it’s booby trapped when you go through to the fourth dimension.”
Some Kind of Wonderful
“I,” Elijah announced to Orlando and Viggo, during a short break so that make-up could fiddle with Legolas’s wig, “am brilliant.”
“That’s what all the pretty ones say,” said Viggo. “I prefer pretentious and manly myself,” and with an abbreviated wave of the hand he headed off to talk to Peter and Liv.
“Why are you so brilliant today?” asked Orlando, holding unnaturally still while he was recoiffed to blond perfection.
“Bent’s going to be playing in Wellington this weekend,” said Elijah. “At the Loaded Hog.”
To the disgust of the make-up people, Orlando jerked his head around and stared at Elijah. “That’s fucking brilliant!”
“Yeah,” said Elijah, smirking. “I know.”
No Way Out
Dom skidded into Catering holding a bright green piece of paper. He headed straight over to the crowded lunch table.
“Have you seen this yet?” he demanded, waving the paper. “It’s fucking brilliant!”
“Is that the scavenger hunt thing?” asked Sean, stirring sugar into his third coffee.
“Now there’s a cracked idea for you,” said Billy, edging his chair along.
“Yeah,” said Dom, grabbing a chair from the next table and squeezing it in next to Billy. “Trust the bloody crazy New Zealanders to come up with something this insanely inspired.”
“They have scavenger hunts in Australia too, apparently,” said Viggo. “Hugo was telling me.”
“Yeah,” said Sean. “Chris and Ali are going to love it. It’ll be nice to do something together as a family.”
“In E.n.g.l.i.s.h.” said Elijah. “Because I don’t have a fucking clue what you’re all going on about.”
“Ditto,” said Orlando.
“Are you blind? It’s everywhere.” Dom thrust the paper at Elijah’s face. “The crew have organised a Fun Day For All the Family.” His free hand made sarcastic air-quotes.
Elijah took the paper and held it at a more reasonable distance. Orlando leaned in to read it too, surreptitiously sliding his hand onto Elijah’s knee.
Inaugural Lord of the Rings Scavenger Hunt and BBQ
All Welcome! Bring the family.
Meet at Carter Observatory for Hunt rules.
BBQ afterwards at Scorching Bay.
Elijah didn’t find it particularly enlightening. “What does it mean by a scavenger hunt?”
“It sounds unsanitary,” said Liv, wrinkling her nose.
“It’s a game,” said Sean. “You drive around and collect things,” and at Liv’s poked out tongue, “not rubbish, just regular stuff. Like photos of things that match a theme. Or tokens to show you’ve been somewhere.”
“And the winner gets a prize,” said Dom. “The rumour is that it’s one of Catering’s chocolate cakes.”
There was a sudden air of universal interest.
“Mmmm,” said Liv. “I didn’t have anything in particular planned for Sunday anyway.”
“Atta girl,” said Billy, patting her arm.
“If you need someone to go with, just say the word,” said Dom, leering affectionately.
“And share the prize with you lot?” said Liv. “I think not. I’ll ask one of my girlfriends.”
“Hey!” said Dom. “Are you implying we eat a lot?”
“No,” said Liv. “I’m implying that you’re greedy pigs.”
“She’s got you there,” said Elijah to Dom. And then to the table in general, “I’m gonna have to pass. I have other plans for Sunday.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Orlando.
“Elijah,” said Sean, looking serious. “You have to go.”
“I’m sure you and Chris can do it without me, Sean,” said Elijah, winking. “Frankly, I’m after something other than Family Fun this weekend.”
“Woohoo!” said Dom. “Elijah has a hot date.”
“Who is it?” asked Billy. “Anyone we know?”
“You two are the worst nosey parkers I’ve ever met!” said Liv. Then, turning to Elijah, “Details, Wood.”
“I’m serious,” said Sean, interrupting the interrogation. “You have to go.”
“He’s right,” said Viggo. “It’ll be considered a huge snub to the crew if you don’t, Elijah.”
“Oh, come on,” said Orlando. “It’s our day off.”
“Yeah,” said Elijah. “I mean, what the fuck?”
“Do the math,” said Sean. “Your birthday’s next week. You’re the star of the movie. The crew dotes on you.” He picked up the crumpled flyer and waved it at Elijah. “This isn’t just some random event.”
Elijah stared at the innocent-looking flyer in dismay.
“Shit,” said Orlando, and slid his hand off Elijah’s knee.
For one of the very few times in his life, Elijah’s fame felt like a smothering weight, and the words it’s not fair trembled on his tongue. Then, with the sixth sense that told him when a camera was aimed at him, Elijah realised that the woman clearing plates away from the next table was listening to their conversation. And that was all it took for him to remember that he had to work with these people for a long, long time, and that it wouldn’t take very much for the whole experience to turn into one long, unbearable nightmare.
So he did what he had to do; he sucked it up and played his part without once looking at Orlando.
God, I’m an idiot. Of course I’ll go. It’ll be great.
“So,” said Billy to Elijah, plonking his beer down on the sticky pub table with the deliberateness he reserved for important topic changes. “Should Dom and I come around and pick you up on Sunday?”
Dom quirked an eyebrow. “Or will you be going with your hot date?”
Elijah had just taken a mouthful of beer and found that he couldn’t swallow it. Of course this conversation would happen now. Orlando was still at the studio getting a costume fitting and Elijah hadn’t had a chance to talk to him since their date had been highjacked. He did his best to look mature and calm, but, he suspected, without great success. For a start, it would be a hell of a lot easier not to panic if he didn’t have a mouthful of unswallowable beer.
“He’s going with Orlando,” said Sean, with total certainty, “of course.”
“But,” said Dom, “I thought Orlando had something else...” He trailed off, staring at Elijah. An expression of dawning suspicion slid onto his face with an almost audible whirring sound.
“The penny drops,” said Billy.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” said Dom, looking as though he was about to fall out of his chair. “Am I blind, deaf and stupid?”
“I think that about covers it,” said Sean.
“Ever since the Dreaded Make-up Trailer Incident, they’ve been groping each other pretty much non-stop,” said Billy.
While everyone was looking at Billy, Elijah discreetly spat his mouthful of beer back into his glass.
“Where was I while this was happening?” Dom asked.
“Trying to chat up Liv,” said Billy. “Unsuccessfully, I might add.”
“There’s a surprise,” said Sean. “In a not so much kind of way.”
Dom looked at Elijah accusingly. “I can’t believe Orlando is your idea of a hot date! What am I, chopped liver?”
Elijah shook his head.
Of course not, man. It’s just... Orlando. You know?
“There’s no accounting for taste, is there?” said Billy, rubbing his hand across Dom’s hair affectionately.
“Hey!” Dom said. “I have an idea.” He looked from Billy to Elijah, eyes half-lidded, and licked his lips. “We could...”
“Orlando will kill you if you try anything,” said Sean. “And you’re freaking Elijah.”
Dom looked at Elijah again, without the sexy special effects. He frowned. “Okay, ignore me. I’m being a dick.”
At Elijah’s relieved smile, Dom broke into his usual grin. “But when we whop your arses at the scavenger hunt, don’t think Billy and I are going to share our chocolate cake with you wankers!”
“Dream on,” said Sean. “That cake is mine!”
Elijah did his best to shrug off his discomfort and get back into the spirit of things. “Wanna bet?”
Sunday Too Far Away
“You bet how much?” asked Orlando, looking appalled.
“I was nervous,” Elijah explained. “I just got a bit carried away.”
“Two hundred dollars isn’t a bit carried away, Elijah,” said Orlando. “It’s hitching a ride to outer Mongolia on a fucking ox-drawn rickshaw driven by Genghis Khan himself!”
“Before you get too caught up in your insulting metaphor,” said Elijah, “you might want to remember that I’ve never come out before. It’s only because of you that I had to. And you weren’t there. I had to do it all on my own.”
Orlando expression changed to concern. “How bad was it?”
“Actually,” said Elijah, slinging an arm around Orlando and leaning in, “I didn’t really have to say much. Dom was his usual clueless self, but it turned out that Billy and Sean already knew. I just didn’t know they knew. You know?” Then, with a sigh, “That didn’t make any sense, did it?”
“Yeah, it made perfect sense,” said Orlando. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there.”
“Well,” said Elijah, lifting his face to a perfect kissing angle. “You could make it up to me.”
“You know my motto,” said Orlando, tilting towards Elijah. “Never look a gift kiss in the...”
Bom, bom, bom.
The trailer door rattled under the knocks, and one of the assistants yelled, “Pete’s ready, Elijah,” before moving on to the next trailer and repeating the process for Sean.
“Dammit,” said Orlando. “Why does that keep happening?”
“We’re stuck in a time loop,” said Elijah, glumly. “Like Groundhog Day; and Sunday’s never, ever going to get here.”
Orlando wrapped his arms around Elijah and hugged hard. “On the upside... if Sunday never comes, we’re not going to go broke.”
“Oh ye of little faith!” said Elijah into Orlando’s shoulder. “I may have been nervous, but I wasn’t stupid.” He reluctantly let go and stepped away.
“The rule,” Elijah said, taking another step backwards toward the door, “is winner takes all. If we all lose, no-one gets the money!”
“Ah,” said Orlando, with an evil grin. “So our job is to make sure they don’t win. Okay. I can work with that!”
“Yeah,” said Elijah, reaching the door. “When the time comes, we just have to be ready to play hard.”
FAST FORWARD ...
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Elijah stood in front of his nearly-empty wardrobe. Most of its contents were now scattered around on the floor, his bed, and all other available flat surfaces.
What did a teenager of uncertain sexual orientation wear to a scavenger hunt masquerading as a secret birthday surprise party that was actually a first date, anyway?
The Pick-up Artist
“Cool shirt,” said Orlando, standing in Elijah’s doorway looking tall, tanned and lickable.
In the end, Elijah had gone for a light grey long-sleeve T-shirt. It’s main feature was a series of rubber decals embossed across the front. A green triangle labelled ‘Play’ sat over his right nipple, ‘Rewind,’ ‘Fast Forward’ and ‘Pause’ stretched across his chest, and a red square labelled ‘Stop,’ lined up with his left nipple.
Orlando reached out, his finger hovering above the Play button. “It makes me want to press your buttons,” he said.
Elijah smiled. “You already do, man.”
Orlando grinned back and, much to Elijah’s disappointment, moved his hand to the middle of Elijah’s chest and pressed the Fast Forward button.
“Good to know,” Orlando said.
The Lord of the Rings
Karen thrust a sheet of instructions through the car window at Elijah. “Here you go. Don’t forget to read the rules.”
“Have you see Sean and Chris or Billy and Dom yet?” Elijah asked.
“Billy and Dom came through about ten minutes ago,” Karen said, “but I haven’t seen Sean yet.” A car pulled up behind them. “Gotta go. Good luck guys.”
“Those sneaky bastards,” said Elijah. “They’ve got a head start.”
“Don’t worry,” said Orlando, looking grimly determined. “We’ll cross paths sooner or later. And when we do...” He put the car in gear with all the menace of an evil mastermind who had an evil lever which, when pulled, would release evil killer eels.
“Are we meant to do an evil laugh at this point?” Elijah asked. “Except it’s something I’ve never really mastered.”
“What do you think this is?” asked Orlando, heading the car downhill. “A movie?”
“Ha ha,” said Elijah. “With comedic talent like that, I have no hesitation in recommending that you don’t quit your day job.”
“Everyone’s a critic,” said Orlando. “So. What’s first on the list?”
Ten Things I Hate About You
Inaugural Lord of the Rings Scavenger Hunt
To win the title of ‘Lords of The Lord of the Rings,’ teams must collect each of the following items. Judging will take place at Scorching Beach once all competitors have checked in.
- Obey the law. In particular...
- Don’t steal anything! Photographic evidence will be accepted if you wish to collect something that can’t be removed from its location. Photos should contain at least one member of your team.
- No more than $5.00 can be spent on any item of the hunt.
- Extra points will be awarded for originality, humour and artistic interpretation.
The One Ring
A Dark Rider
Mines of Moria
Horn of Gondor
The Cracks of Doom
“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me,” said Orlando. He stopped the car, reached over and grabbed Elijah’s wrist, pulling it towards him so that he could see the instructions.
“Unfortunately not,” said Elijah. “You know, some days I really hate J.R.R. Tolkien.”
“You and me both,” said Orlando, his fingers brushing gently over Elijah’s knuckles as he let go.
Gone in 60 Seconds
As Orlando re-started the car, a bright red convertible came barreling towards them. It whizzed by so fast the windows rattled.
“Oh my God,” said Elijah, whipping his head around to watch the car make its way up the curve of the hill. “Did you see that?”
“That depends,” said Orlando, taking off his sunglasses and looking at them suspiciously. “If what you just saw was Xena: Warrior Princess driving a porche like a maniac, with Liv in the passenger seat, then yes, I just saw it.” He put his glasses back on. “Otherwise, I’m obviously delusional.”
“If that was a delusion,” said Elijah, “we should warn the people in hazmat suits, because it must be pretty fucking contagious.”
“Sting’s easy,” said Elijah. “We can take a photo of the Beehive.”
“Everyone’s going to think of that. There’s got to be something better,” said Orlando. “You’re always wandering around shopping for music. Use that encyclopedic brain of yours and come up with something brilliant.”
“Right,” said Elijah. “Why do I suddenly get the impression that you want to win this sucker?”
Orlando flashed him a grin. “Probably because you know me.” They pulled up at an intersection. “So, which way?”
“Well, if we’re not going to the Beehive, you might as well head for Te Aro,” said Elijah, flipping the Street Directory open to their current location. “There’ll be plenty of options there.”
“Okay,” said Orlando. He flicked a quick glance at the map book. “Does that thing tell you where the nearest Police Station is?”
“Do I even want to know why you’re asking me that?” Elijah said, with genuine trepidation.
“Because,” said Orlando. “I’ve just had an idea for the One Ring.”
We’re No Angels
Elijah stood on the front stoop of the Police Station mugging for the camera. He had his finger poised a couple of millimeters away from a button bearing the inscription, “For Assistance After Hours Ring Buzzer.”
“Hurry up!” he said, while Orlando fiddled about with the digital camera. “I feel like a dork.”
“Yeah,” said Orlando, finally taking the picture. “But you look like an angel.”
“Bastard!” said Elijah. “Take it back!”
Orlando silently held out the camera and showed Elijah the picture. Reflected sunlight had ringed his head in what could only be described as a halo.
“It’s cute,” said Orlando. “I think I’m going to get a print.”
At the look on Elijah’s face, Orlando turned and sprinted for the car, the camera clutched tightly in both hands.
Elijah glared at Orlando’s retreating back and then, longingly, at the buzzer. For the first time since winning the role of Frodo, he truly understood the seductive lure of the Ring.
“Are you still giving me the silent treatment?” asked Orlando, driving aimlessly.
Elijah stared out the window, watching the streetscape.
“For fuck’s sake,” Orlando said. “If it means that bloody much, delete the thing.”
Elijah pressed a hand against the window and turned to watch something go by. “Stop the car!”
Orlando pulled the car into the curb, switched the engine off and turned to face Elijah wearing his inscrutable look. “Are we done then?”
“No dickweed,” said Elijah. He pointed out the back window.
Orlando craned his head around. “What?”
“The trucks,” said Elijah.
“What about them?” asked Orlando looking at a couple of tow trucks parked next to each other in the driveway of a closed petrol station.
“There’s two of them,” said Elijah.
“So?” said Orlando.
“The two tow...ers,” said Elijah.
Orlando swivelled back around to stare at Elijah. “That,” he said with admiration, “is completely fucking inspired!”
“Yeah, well,” said Elijah. “Don’t think I’ve forgiven you.”
“I don’t suppose you could give me a timeline on that?” said Orlando.
Elijah undid his seatbelt and opened the door. “I’ll let you know.”
“It’s my turn to take the photo,” said Elijah, holding his hand out.
“The thought of drop-kicking the thing into the street did occur to me,” said Elijah. “But I promise I won’t damage it. Or your pictures.”
“It’s not that,” said Orlando.
“What then?” asked Elijah, with some impatience.
Orlando shrugged self-consciously.
Elijah pressed a hand to his forehead. “This is me attempting to read your mind.” He closed his eyes and frowned. “No... no... Nothing. It’s a big empty void.” He screwed his eyes up tighter. “Wait! I’m getting something... it’s faint and kind of primal... no words or intelligent thought... just brute instinct... but I think I can make something out.” Elijah’s eyes popped open. “You want to piss against a lamp-post!” He looked at Orlando expectantly. “Am I right?”
“You’re a real riot, alright,” said Orlando. “I was going to say that I wanted a photo of both of us, but I think I’ve changed my mind.”
They stared at each other, separated by three potholes, a scree of loose bluemetal and a tsunami of attitude.
On to Play 2.