The Way It's Supposed To Be

Recipient: _nienor_niniel_
Author: coffeewordangel
Pairing: Elijah/Sean Astin
Rating: PG-13


It began at a party, of all places, and sometimes Elijah has to cringe at the cliché of his life. Drunken revelry at Billy and Dom's until the only people left were hobbits and Orli who had been curled between the two hosts for the better part of an hour, tan and sleek in a distracting state of undress. Christine had taken the girls to visit her mother and Sean, who usually was the first to leave, had stayed and gotten increasingly drunk. Elijah wondered if maybe they should just crash there.

Before he could interrupt the beginnings of a menage a trois on the couch to ask, strong arms curled around his waist and a chin hooked snugly over his shoulder.

"Hey," Sean murmured, breath warm and damp against Elijah's cheek, smelling strongly of tequila.

"Hey," Elijah replied, ignoring the flutter in his chest and the drunken buzz of awareness prickling his skin.

"Mm," Sean hummed, sounding content. "Love you."

Elijah chuckled nervously. He had not had nearly enough to drink. "I love you too, man."

"No." Sean sounded annoyed. "I love you."

Elijah's chest seized and he forgot to breathe. Was Sean...? He was. Sean Astin was nuzzling his neck, dragging his tongue along the vein that was now pulsing wildly in anticipation and terror.

"Um, Sean?" Elijah protested, horrified at the squeaky tone of his voice.

Sean pulled back. "Oh god. I'm sorry Lij, I'm drunk and I didn't think and..."

"No!" Elijah shook his head vehemently. "I mean, I'm fine. It's fine. More than fine, in fact What are you...?"

"Take it to Dom's bedroom!" Billy called from the couch, near unintelligible with drink.

"Hey!" Dom's protest was muffled by Orlando's mouth.

Elijah stared at his friends for a moment and then took Sean's hand and headed back to Dom's room. Once there they actually didn't get much talking done because Sean's fingers were hooking through Elijah's belt loops and pulling him close and the rest of the conversation was lost in drunken fumbling and sloppy kisses and cocks dragging together through worn denim.

Through the rest of filming Sean was in Elijah's bed as often as he was not and, though he'd never say it, Elijah wished in the darkest depths of his heart that one day Sean would come to him and tell him that the love he felt for Elijah made any other life a lie. It was a stupid, selfish thing to hope for but he couldn't help himself and it made the time they had bittersweet.

Back in the States they tried to make it work but things that seemed so seamless, so effortless in New Zealand fell apart back home. The last time they talked, really talked, Sean told Elijah that he loved him but that he couldn't handle being torn in two. Elijah agreed selflessly that Sean's family needed him more than he did and it made perfect sense to revert to friends.

He didn't mean it.

There are moments when Elijah doesn't think of Sean at all. Like first thing in the morning when all he's thinking of is stumbling to the coffee pot without tripping or those rare times when he's so into his role he forgets to wonder what Sean will think of it. Still, if he's honest with himself, he has to admit that even then thoughts of Sean are lurking in the back of his head just waiting to jump to the foreground.

Sean has marked him.

Sometimes Elijah's skin still burns from the drag of stubble across sensitive flesh, even though it hasn't happened for almost a year. Sometimes he closes his eyes and can still see the stricken, guilty look on Sean's face the last time they parted ways.

There has been no limit to willing partners in the months that have followed and, since Elijah is no saint, he's fucked more than a few of them. It's not the same, though. Afterwards he lies on sweaty sheets, numb to the core, and wishes to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.

He's tried to be the person he thinks he should be, the kind of person who doesn't behave like Pavlov's dog whenever Sean phones. He can't. His cell phone goes off with Sean's ring and he's tearing across the house to find it, even if he just told himself he didn't want to talk to the man.

It's not like they talk about important things, things that couldn't wait for another day, but he can't help himself. Any more than he can help the small curl of pleasure in his stomach at the sound of Sean's voice or his urge to blurt out "I'm still in love with you, you idiot!" Except Sean knows that. Every word they say is underlined with the knowledge of things they've silently agreed not to talk about. Every phone conversation ends with pointed silence where "I love you" used to be.

These are things he has accepted though, things he knows he has to stand if he wants to keep Sean in his life. Even with the breadth of an entire country between them Sean's presence broadsides him. He finds him in every album he listens to, every book he reads, every movie he views. Every tiny nuance of his life has Sean's mark impressed upon it.

The worst part about the whole thing is that, as far as Sean knows, Elijah is fine with their arrangement. They're friends. And maybe Elijah is still in love with him but it doesn't seem to be interfering with their friendship and Elijah is careful never to let him know differently.

Or maybe not so careful. Because after a month of strained phone calls and awkward silences Sean shows up on Elijah's doorstep. Figuratively speaking, of course, since he doesn't actually own a doorstep.

"What are you doing here?" Elijah tries to keep the accusatory tone from his voice but realizes he's unsuccessful as Sean winces.

"I...I needed to see you."

It sounds more like a question than a statement and Elijah's resolve crumbles at the sight of Sean's dejected, lost puppy dog expression. He looks too old and too thin, like life's fucked him hard and long and left him to dry in the California sun.

"Have you slept recently?" Elijah asks, taking on the role of keeper and custodian of someone else's well-being, one he's not very familiar with.

"Um..." Sean frowns like he can't really remember.

"How about food? You're too thin. When's the last time you ate?" Elijah stops, realizing that he's starting to sound like his mother. "Never mind, come on in so you can sit down and I'll make something to eat."

"Hey, Lij?"


Elijah turns around and Sean falls against him, head buried against his neck, knocking them both back against the door. It bangs hollowly against the wall, doorknob digging into Elijah's hip.

"I've missed you," Sean mutters into his neck.

Elijah's hand flutters up like a timorous butterfly to light on the older man's hair. He's unused to being the unbroken one and it's put him off center. Desire wells in his chest before he can quell it. This isn't a fairy tale and there's not likely to be a happily ever after for either of them but he can remain cautiously hopeful. What Dom calls pessimistic optimism. He presses a warm kiss to Sean's temple.

"Let's go inside."


Concept created by Megolas in 2002
Fabulous artwork ©2002 by Hope.
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