A State of Mind

Recipient: ocko_okate
Author: flusteredspeech
Pairing: Viggo/Orlando
Rating: PG
Author's Notes: For ocko_okate, who asked for a Viggo/Orli Christmas fairy tale, which this is a very modern AU form of, I hope it appeases. Information about the Bath Christmas Market can be found at this website. Merry Christmas.


It's the Wednesday before December in Bath, and the Christmas market is growing up out of the ground. One hundred and seventeen wooden chalets are standing on cinder blocks, lined up in rows in the square in front of the abbey with their roofs almost touching, like a holiday string of paper cutouts. There are cars parked in the aisles with the boots popped open and spilling out fairy lights, tinsel, pine sprigs; the backseats are packed with brown boxes with crunched corners that are carried carefully. It's very noisy under the crisp light of the early winter sun.

Orlando's sitting legs akimbo in the middle of the as of yet empty stall rented out to his family's name, wrapped in a wool sweater with thumbholes in the cuffs and a pashmina scarf that may have been his sister's, leaned back against a stack of cardboard boxes leaking tea and ink smells into his hair. There's a dog curled against his right leg, snuffling into his knee sleepily, and Orlando thinks Sidi's got the right idea there; Sam had woken them up in the disorienting dark before dawn to load up the VW in Canterbury, and his eyes are heavy, like there's sand stuck in the creases of his eyelids. He drops his head back lightly and Sidi's claws scratch slowly along the floorboards as his hind legs stretch. Orlando smiles and shuts his eyes.

He half-dozes with his scarf pulled up over his chin for twenty-five minutes, but it feels like hours inside his muzzy head. He doesn't quite dream, but there is the niggling sensation of something he's supposed to be remembering in the back of his mind that tints his sleep with colors. He wakes to a nudge between his spread legs, and swats at the pressure against his thigh with a sigh.

"No, Sidi," he says, and yawns without opening his eyes.

"Give up on the shop business then, Bloom?" says a voice from above, and Orlando comes fully awake just in time to grab the scuffed black boot shifting for his bits and bobs. He bows forward and clamps it in place with one hand splayed over the toe and the other wrapped around the ankle, then looks up, blinks, and smiles.

"I know you," he says. "Monaghan, I know you."

Monaghan, Dominic, shorter and slighter than Orlando, and far wickeder, laughs at him then, and his smile goes true and crooked as he offers a boost up. "Spot on, mate," he says when Orlando lets go of his foot to take his hand.

"Dom, right, it's been, what, it's been ages, yeah?" Dom nods and laughs again, using his leverage to pull Orlando straight from the floor into his arms, an elbow by his ear and his chin tucked into Orlando's opposite shoulder.

"Yeah, hi, you still smell nice though," says Dom, and his breath huffs out warmly onto Orlando's neck. "Always a lovely one, you."

The bottoms of Orlando's ears flush pink, and he ducks his head and chuckles when Dom finally lets him go. Dom has a way of knowing how to make a person embarrass prettily before crossing the very fine line into discomfort, and Orlando's always liked that about him, even when it's his name on the line.

"So," he says, as Dom beams at him, "so, you and Billy still, you know, the tag team effect...?" He leaves off with a wave of his hand and Dom adds a nod to his grin.

"Bill's around, yeah," he says. "Need someone to keep my head screwed on, you know. He's good at that, among other things." He licks his bottom lip and jots his eyebrows up in a way that's ridiculously lewd, another Dom specialty, and Orlando is suddenly giddy with appreciation for the familiarities.

"Don't tell false stories, you wicked boy," says someone, and Orlando wouldn't need the hints of accent or visual to know it's Billy, but Billy it is, and he's got Sidi turned over on his back in his arms; the dog is fairly liquid with pleasure as Billy scritches his belly.

"Lookit who I found," Dom crows, but Billy's shamelessly smushing his lips to the top of Sidi's head.

"Look who I found," Billy coos, and Dom has to nod.

"You win," he sighs. Orlando just laughs, and Dom shakes his head at him fondly. "You," he says, poking a finger into Orlando's ribs, "are supposed to have a huff about your dog beating you out on the interest scale."

"He knows I'm happy to see him, he doesn't have to be as big a princess about it as you do," Billy says, then looks up and grins warmly at Orlando. "Hi 'Lando."

"Hello," Orlando says softly, reaching out to rub Sidi's belly, bumping his fingers into Billy's not quite on purpose. "You weren't here last year, I'm just glad you're back."

Dom's face lights up at this, and he puffs his chest out and tips his chin back. "Letztes Jahr waren wir in Deutschland, jawohl!" he proclaims proudly, and Orlando just waits for Billy to explain.

"I think," Billy begins, bending over to put the dog back down, and then straightening up with a wry twist to his mouth, "that we went international with our wares. And I think," he pauses again, tilting his head at Dom reciting what he can only assume are dirty German rhymes to Sidi, "that it's good to be back."


The first day of open market is always busy, always filled with the crowds of proper people, Orlando thinks, the ones who come for the fresh wreaths and hot food, who come to the market instead of to Woolworth's.

Orlando sells homegrown tea in satchels stitched together with colored thread. His mum has a nice, posh little shop in Canterbury that his sister helps to run, and Orlando's been designing packet covers since he was fifteen. They're a novelty item the Christmas shoppers are pleased to snatch up, the tea has a growing good reputation, and ever so often, a customer will look up long enough to notice the photo prints Orlando has up on the walls; soft focus black and whites of the strong-jawed masons renovating the church down the street from home, and hard filtered light on the fingers of art school kids he left behind. It makes his palms itch to have a woman, heavy-handed with shopping bags, squint her eyes at them and he feels something like relief when she smiles at him and wanders away down the row of chalets.

He doesn't sell much on the first day, the crowd is there for the atmosphere and to suss out the situation, making mental notes of possible purchases that may be made closer to Christmas. By the evening, Orlando sits under the glow of his white lights and sketches the booth across from him, a Welsh family down for the faire with fresh cheese that the mother lets him sample a few times a day, clucking at his skinny ribs. When he looks up again, there's someone standing in his chalet.

He's tall, solid, wearing a weathered vest over his jeans and flannel, and the way he stands with his hands loose at his sides, fingers curled unconsciously just so, makes Orlando think he's seen some things. Sidi noses one of his hands looking for a coddle, and he strokes his ears gently without looking away from his study of one of the photographs. Orlando feels the low, slow burn of being analyzed in the bottom of his belly until the stranger turns and meets his gaze with a lazy smile at the corners of his mouth. He nods once at the portrait, and it's so easy for Orlando to just breathe out and be all right with him wanting to buy it. The man slips him twenty pounds out of the breast pocket of his vest, tucks the photo under his arm, and walks away with his right hand in his jeans pocket.


Orlando had been twenty-one the first he met Dom and Billy, working shifts with his sister at their first market. That year, Billy had carried a guitar strapped over his shoulder and charged 50 p per carol, Dom sold woven bracelets from his coat pockets, and they were inching across England in a cheap Sedan with a mattress jammed into the space where the backseat should have been. They'd bought a satchel of orange spice tea with a black sketch of Orlando's backyard across the front, and Billy picked out 'Amazing Grace' across his guitar strings while Dom shuffled in his pockets for change.

"Who're you playing for?" Dom had murmured with his hands in Billy's jacket still, and Billy smiled and shrugged, but looked at Orlando.

"Just playing," he'd said. Dom had smiled as well then, and slid a handful of coins from Billy's pocket to Orlando's.

It's been four years, and when Dom sidles up to him a few days in and sticks his hands under his armpits for warmth, Orlando's not surprised.

"Rumour is," Dom mumbles into his ear, "you've been hanging with the gypsy folk."

"If you're referring to yourselves," says Orlando, and nods as Billy steps up and smiles apologetically and pulls Dom's hands back out to rub them warmly between his own, "I deny any and all involvement."

"Cheeky monkey," Billy admonishes, warding off Dom's small attempts to crawl into his jacket with him. "Viggo Mortensen's been buying things off you."

Orlando just tilts his head and bumps his shoulders up in a shrug, and Dom gives him his full attention again.

"Viggo Mortensen. He has a Winnebago, Orli," he says delightedly. "He drives 'round with his camera and his filthy American ways and writes it all up in books and songs. We saw him at that, what was it, Bill, that time we spent the summer working the markets in New York, we saw him there."

"He's coming up in America," Billy says, looking amused. "Artistic genius some people say. Most people say nutter though, a bit touched in the head."

"He's a hero," Dom gushes, shooting Billy a dirty look.

"I don't -" Orlando starts with a frown, then stops and thinks. "Oh," he says, "oh I might. I might know, yeah."


At a quarter to five on the ninth of December, the sun's already set and the square is glowing solidly with the spark off a hundred thousand tiny, tinny bulbs filtered with color. Dom brings Orlando a hot toddy in a paper cup and a half a sticky raisin bun, and sits with him for half an hour, doodling monster faces on a clear corner of the stickybun napkin and passing them to Orlando for artistic inspection before going back to Billy.

Orlando is licking sugar off the middle knuckle of his middle finger and left-handedly adding speech bubbles to Dom's cartoons (he'll slip them into Billy's back pocket later) when Viggo catches the corner of his eye.

He's standing down the row at the potter's chalet, a lovely old gent Orlando remembers from two years ago. Viggo run the tips of his fingers around the lip of a vase, then looks up, catches Orlando's look, and turns back to Mr. Edmunson.

When he ambles into Orlando's shadow a few minutes later, the heels of his boots clipping the wood floor, Sidi automatically goes to his feet and sits thumping his tail, nudging his nose between Viggo's calves and snuffling. Viggo stops and studies another photograph, pulling a sheaf of cigarette papers and a pouch of tobacco from the same breast pocket and glancing down only briefly to roll and lick the fag into form. He just holds it between his fingers when it's done, until he finally turns to Orlando and tilts his head again at the photograph he's been watching so carefully. Orlando doesn't say a word as he unfolds from his stool and steps in front of Viggo, close enough to brush the cuff of his shirt, to unhook it from the wall. While he wraps it in a sheet of brown paper for protection, Viggo flips out a lighter and flares it up at the end of his rollie, takes a long drag into his lungs and turns his head to let the smoke out away from Orlando's set up.

"They say your name's Orlando," he rasps, and Orlando looks up with a sharp jerk of his chin.

"Yeah," he says, thinking of Billy and Dom. "Yeah, they talk a lot, but they're not wrong."

When Orlando hands him the photograph, he offers up the cigarette with a smooth twist of his wrist. Orlando takes it.


By the last week of the market, Orlando's tea supply is dwindling, and Viggo's bought three more pieces over the past two weeks.

There was a night, not long ago, when Billy and Dom had appeared at his elbow as he locked up, lauding a case of red wine and trailing Viggo behind them. They'd gotten tipsy sitting in his Winnebago, and while Dom checked out the sprawl space, Viggo had touched the back of Orlando's hand with the pads of his thumbs, and asked when he was leaving.

On the last day, in the dark, when the last throngs of late shoppers have headed home, Orlando's standing in front of his tables, trying to figure how many boxes he needs to pack in the morning. There's a light touch on his hip, and a nose pressed faintly to the back of his neck, and he bows his head forward to accept it, then turns and eyes Viggo with the low, slow burn in his belly again.

Viggo nods his head slightly and smiles. "Your neck is very warm," he says, and the forked paths at the corners of his eyes spread.

Orlando grins suddenly, and steps forward, pressing his lips to the corner of Viggo's mouth. "Viggo," he says.

And Viggo says, "Yes, come with me."


Concept created by Megolas in 2002
Fabulous artwork ©2002 by Hope.
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Site revised ©2006 by yueni