Far From Home


One day Billy smiled, and my world was changed. It was a small thing, and definitely nothing out of the ordinary for someone like Billy. But somehow, on this particular day, near the beginning of the Lord of the Rings shoot, it seemed different.

I was sitting alone in the grass on the Hobbiton set, waiting to be called for the next shot. Billy was milling around, watching. God only knows why. Had it been me with nothing to do for so long, I'd have been passed out somewhere until someone managed to find me and drag me off for another scene.

The wait seemed especially ridiculous that day. We'd do a take and then wait for twenty minutes because the sun had disappeared behind a cloud and the lighting people were going crazy. Sometime during one of those interminable waits, I happened to glance up and find Billy watching me intently. Caught, Billy just blinked once or twice in surprise, then slowly graced me with a smile that took my breath away. A slightly shy, secretive smile, the likes of which I had never seen before and have never seen from anyone but him.

From that moment on, I found that Billy was never far from my mind. In fact, he seemed to be doing it on purpose, lurking around when I was on the set even if he didn't need to be there. When we'd all go out he seemed to make a point always sit next to me in the car or at a restaurant. Every now and then he'd give me a look and I'd be sure he was about to finally say something, but no. He would smile at me and talk with that accent and look at me with those eyes, making me want him. He forced himself into my consciousness, and refused to leave.

I started getting paranoid, convinced that it was all in my mind. Or worse, that he was teasing me and really wasn't interested at all. After all, what kind of sense does it make, to watch someone and tempt them, make them crazy like he made me for so many months and never say a word? By the time the nine of us splintered a bit to work on our separate storylines, I'd had enough. I went to his house late one night and knocked on the door, determined to have an answer. I'd waited for him for far too long and it was time to take matters into my own hands.

He answered the door only seconds after I banged on it, looking sleepy and vaguely alarmed. Before he could say anything, I pushed past him into the house, sat myself down on his sofa and waited.

Billy must have thought I'd gone off the deep end. He shut the door and came into the room, staring at me as if I'd grown a third eyeball. I glared back, suddenly unreasonably angry that he'd been teasing me for so long.

"Elijah," he said, "what is going on here? It's two in the morning, in case you haven't noticed."

"I want to know what the hell you're trying to do."

He just stared at me, no trace of comprehension on his face. "What?"

"The looks, the smiles, the little touches you always get in, what is that?"

When his expression didn't change, I got that awful sinking feeling in my stomach. You know the one, when you do or say something so incredibly humiliating that you just wish the earth would open up and swallow you. Obviously, it had been my imagination from the beginning. "Don't play with me Billy, you know what I'm talking about." I swallowed, hoping he *did* know. At that point, I didn't care how desperate I sounded.

He turned and walked to the fireplace, prodding at the smoldering logs with a stick and adding more wood until the nearly-extinguished fire was burning steadily again. When he stood and turned to me again, I could see it in his face; he did know. He leaned against the wall and smiled. "What do you think it means?"

I couldn't stand it anymore. He looked so sweet, standing there in that ratty old T-shirt and sweatpants, hair all messy and eyes glittering in the firelight. I stood and advanced on him. I wasn't sure at the time but I thought then, and still think now, that his smile got just a little bit wider when I did that.

I got so close that our bodies were almost touching, and then took one more step. The small smile blossomed into a full Billy-smile. I cupped his face in my hands and gave him a smile of my own. "I think...it means...." Then I kissed him. And it seemed to be the right choice, because suddenly his arms were around me, crushing me against him as he kissed me senseless.

"Finally," he murmured.


When Billy told me he loved me, I panicked.

Filming was nearly done. We had only a few days left before we were scheduled to go back home for good, and I guess he wanted to figure out where we were going. Things had been perfect there in New Zealand. No one judged us or tried to tell us that what we had between us was wrong, or that it would cause us trouble.

That wouldn't be the case in Los Angeles. Billy would sometimes broach the subject, suggesting that I go to Scotland with him or hint that he might like to be invited to come to Los Angeles with me. I hated him for it.

I didn't want him to love me, and I didn't want to love him. I never considered what it would be like if that happened. Leaving, going back to our lives before, it all seemed so far away in those early days. In this business, sixteen months is an eternity. But once I had Billy, that time rushed past before I even knew it.

I loved him, but knew I had to leave him. New Zealand was a fairy tale, a playground where we could live out our wildest dreams. But I never believed something like what Billy and I had could survive in the real world. How could it, in the greed, politics, and desperation of Hollywood? I wasn't that strong. And he didn't understand that.

It was simple enough to kill the idea of me going to Scotland. I protested about my career and he accepted that. But the other was harder. There were many reasons why moving to Los Angeles would be great for him. My solution was to avoid the issue. If I was lucky he'd bring it up at night after sex. I could pretend to be asleep then, although the silence in the room as he waited for an answer that wouldn't come was nearly unbearable. One night he leaned over me as usual, to see if I'd fallen asleep already. Only, instead of sighing and rolling over to sleep, I felt his fingers run gently through my hair.


I didn't answer, but he didn't move. After a few moments of silence, he spoke again.

"You're not asleep, are you? You can stop pretending."

I kept silent. Hard enough to pretend in the first place, but to admit that I was pretending was simply not an option. I heard him sigh.

"I won't ask you anymore. You don't want me to come. I won't go where I'm not wanted. I'm sorry."

My heart was breaking. How could he apologize to me? I was the one who should be apologizing. I was about to open my eyes and do just that when I felt a gentle kiss on my shoulder and a murmured goodnight. When I finally did open my eyes, he was sleeping. He never brought up moving to Los Angeles again.

Two days later I was on a plane home, alone. Nothing had gone right, and I felt sick. I had meant to explain to Billy why we could never survive in LA, how the place would tarnish what we had and suck all the sparkle and joy from it, but I couldn't find the words. Not when Dom was there, chatting about moving to LA and asking me for suggestions on agents to contact and good places to stay. There were too many people around for us to say what I needed to say. Finally, Dom seemed to notice the tension and quickly disappeared. But by then the words had all been lost, crowded out by the emotion of leaving a place I loved so much, and the people who had become my family. We stood there, facing one another at the airport. Billy spoke first.

"So I guess this is it then. The end."

"Yeah," I said, thinking he was referring to the filming. "Wasn't sure we'd survive it."

He laughed. "You call this surviving?"

"Well...sure." Then it dawned on me that he was talking about *us*. Panic froze any other words I might have said.

"I'm..." he faltered, shoving his hands in his pockets and glancing around, looking everywhere but at me. "I'm going to miss you."

"We'll see each other again soon. I'll fly out to Glasgow for my birthday, and we can spend it together. Just the two of us."

Billy looked at me, his brow furrowed. Finally, he sighed and looked down at his feet. "Yeah. Okay."


"Sure." He looked back up, quick as a flash, the troubled expression vanished, and he smiled. "I'll look forward to it."

Dom returned then, and we waited for our flights together, once again talking and laughing like we always had. But when my flight was called and I had said my goodbyes and was walking to the gate, I made the mistake of looking back. The troubled expression was back. I couldn't pretend that he had somehow understood. He smiled when he saw me looking back and raised one hand in farewell. Confused and heartsick, I boarded the plane and flew home.


For the next year, we played at having a long distance relationship. It was a farce, and we both knew it, but I couldn't let go and Billy seemed willing to hold on as long as I did. Every time we saw each other, things deteriorated a little bit further. Billy was always a little sad while we were together, and I couldn't stand to see that. I'd get angry and say that I wouldn't have come if I'd known he was going to mope around the whole time, or that I was glad he wasn't living in Los Angeles because I'd be so depressed around him all the time that I'd never get any work done. I was horrible and selfish, taking his love and kindness because I knew he'd give it, and never giving anything in return because I was scared and pathetic. It was guilt, all of it, because I knew that I was the reason he was sad. He always understood me so much better than I understood myself.

So I guess I wasn't too surprised when he called one night and told me he wasn't coming to see me over the weekend as we'd planned. As usual, he was far more honest than I'd ever been. He told me that he couldn't be my guilty secret any more, that he didn't think I loved him at all, if I ever had, and that he couldn't think of a single reason to put up with the way I treated him. Worst of all, he told me that he still loved me.

I was numb, too shocked to even hang up the phone. I'd seen it coming, and a part of me had even hoped for it, if only to end the agony of knowing what I was doing to Billy. But now that it had happened, I was shattered.

That's how Dom found me later that night: curled up on one end of the couch, phone still clutched in one hand. He wasn't surprised, either. Dom hated how I'd been treating Billy, and let me know it whenever he could. I think he was glad, and I can't blame him for that. For my part, I decided that it was all for the best, and picked myself up and went on about my life as best I could. Until the accident, anyway.

It wasn't anything major, really, but it could have been. The wife of an old friend of mine was in an accident. She didn't actually get hurt at all, but it could have killed her. She was fine but my friend was a mess about it. He called me, and we spent about three hours talking.

Mostly, he talked. Told me about her. How they met. The things about her he loved. And he kept saying how he never really realized just how much she meant to him until he thought about how she could have been killed. How he kept thinking about the argument they'd had right before she got in the car, something about not putting the lids on the trash cans tightly enough, and how he'd never have been able to forget how the last words he said to her were bitchy comments about garbage.

When I hung up the phone, I couldn't think about anything other than Billy. What would I do if he suddenly wasn't there anymore? How would I feel about the way things ended, the way I treated him and made him feel? How would I feel that we ended at all, and only because of me and my stupid, meaningless fear? Because that's all it was, in the end. Fear of needing someone so much. Fear of judgment, of rejection. It never occurred to me that he was the last person in this world I needed to fear.

So now, I'm here in Glasgow. I called him and he said he'd meet me for lunch. I'm going to tell him everything. How scared I was, how sorry I am for hurting him so much. I'll tell him how very much I love him. If I'm lucky, Billy will let me beg his forgiveness, and then he'll give in and ask me to come home again.

If I'm lucky.