Playing It Safe

Recipient: littlemimm
Author: empy
Pairing: Marton/Craig
Rating: R
Summary: All good things come to he who waits.
Author's Note: I took a few liberties with the schedules (wardrobe fittings and such) and nearby bars, but hopefully this doesn't mar the reading experience. I hope you enjoy the fic, Mimm!


---

"Is this one of yours or one of mine?" asked Marton, carefully pulling a long blond hair out of his paper mug of coffee.

"It's disgusting," noted Craig, smiling. "And probably mine, since it's that long." He looked down at himself, noting several pale hairs stuck to the dark gray teeshirt he wore. Most of the morning had been spent fitting wigs, and he and Marton had escaped outside to get away from the glue fumes in the makeup trailer and to idle away some time before their scheduled costume fittings.

"Don't do it again, okay? It's bad enough I have to deal with this wig, I'd rather not drink it." said Marton, giving Craig a sidelong glance that glowed with something strange. It was humour, but there was something else to it, something that Craig didn't quite trust himself to correctly identify. Better play it safe, he thought to himself, feeling oddly young again. How long had it been since he'd found it so hard to make a move on someone? On someone male, he corrected. Yeah. That had to have been ages ago.

"Blame the wigmakers, not me," he said, rising out of the chair he'd slouched in. "Come on, Ngila's probably raring to go by now and you know how cranky she gets when anyone's late."

Marton rose, discarded his mug of coffee and hooked a companionable arm around Craig's shoulders. "I thought I was the one giving orders here. I'm the Lord of Lothlorien, after all."

"You're also a bloke in a dress."

"A robe," corrected Marton, raising one finger in warning. There was laughter in his voice, however.

Marton's voice was strange, Craig reflected. The strangeness had nothing to do with pitch or inflection, but with the way even the simplest phrase could affect those around him so strongly. An actor's gift, certainly, but also something that managed to unsettle him at times, almost more than Marton's ability to shift into character within the space of a breath.

He shook his head as he stood waiting for Ngila to size him up. God. He really didn't need to suddenly come over all awkward at the beginning of a shoot, and he knew the old advice about not getting tangled up with your co-stars. Sage advice, but also bloody frustrating. The more he saw of Marton, the more time they spent together, sitting side by side in the makeup trailer with assistants fussing over them, the more convinced he became that what had seemed like simple enough attraction might turn into something that could complicate things far too much. Ignoring it didn't help, as he saw too much of Marton, and it was difficult not to focus on him when they were both crammed into the same cramped trailers and fitting rooms. He tried as best he could to seem calm and neutral --you're an actor, it's your bloody job to pretend-- and mostly succeeded, but he knew keeping it up would be difficult.

Of course something had to happen, and of course it had to be what he'd both feared and anticipated. Most of the material was shot out of sequence, scenes jumbled about seemingly at random, and actors and crew were forever moving. The Elves were scattered; one lot commanded to Dry Creek Quarry, others to minor locations and minor scenes. His lot was Helm's Deep, while Marton was given a break. Craig swore as he read the list of locations and groups, but reasoned that it might end up being for the better. Out of sight, out of mind and all that.

***

Dry Creek Quarry, now standing in for Helm's Deep, was everything Paradise Farms and Lothlorien hadn't been, Craig reflected. Rocky, inhospitable, cold and filthy. Rain had been pouring down for weeks, turning the ground into a thick soup of rotted leaves and mud. Part of him was grateful for the diversion, but he was constantly reminded of Marton. He saw Marton's wig daily in the makeup trailer, a headful of pale silver hair, and Haldir's deep red cloak hung on top of Celeborn's robes in wardrobe. Little details, but very irritating ones, as they only reminded him of chances he hadn't taken.

Thankfully, he could lose himself in filming, and he had to, really. There was absolutely no space for idle daydreaming when the assault scenes were staged, and when dawn broke and they were allowed to finally sleep, he found himself unable to focus on anything not directly related to his role or the script.

Two weeks passed like that, and he found himself counting down days to the next scheduled break, despite enjoying the thrill of working on so elaborate a set. Even actors had their limits, he noted, and even the most fantastic shoot could feel like sheer torture. It was a small consolation that he wasn't the only one feeling wrung out, and he winced as he saw muddied and battered extras sit under leaky awnings, asleep or tending to cuts and scrapes they'd sustained.

On the last night of the third week, he found himself oddly restless. He was only required for a few hours, and felt slightly guilty as he left most of his fellow Elves to fight in the raw-cold evening air.

Night had fallen by the time he stepped out of the makeup trailer, and he stretched as he weighed his alternatives. He could go back to the flat he'd rented, or he could go for a drink first. He'd earned one after the endless retakes of scenes spoiled one way or another by rainwater, mud, injuries or a combination of all three. A small and unassuming bar nearby, one mostly used to serving the odd backpacker or wanderer, had been all but overrun when shooting at the quarry started, and he knew he'd be able to pass unnoticed.

He took a look at himself, using the side window of a car parked nearby, and decided he looked decent enough to get served. So what if there was a bit of makeup still clinging to his jaw or his neck; the bar wasn't lit like a soundstage, so it'd go unnoticed. Not much he could do about the hair, he noted ruefully, scrubbing his hand over the shorn locks.

***

The bar was half-full, mostly Rohirric extras, just as he'd predicted. They could have been Orcs, though. It was hard to tell, seeing as he mostly interacted with his fellow actors when they were wearing massive prosthetics or heavy armour.

The air inside was warm and slightly stuffy, and he felt the customary weariness descend as he relaxed. One drink, he decided. Any more and he'd conk out at a table, and that wasn't something he wanted. Granted, they'd finished shooting most of the scenes he was in, and he had even been given a rare day and night off by Peter, but he was damned if he was going to waste that on getting drunk off his face.

I'm getting old, he noted, smiling to himself as he made his way to the bar, answering a few greetings and pats on the back with good humour.

"What hope you had in secrecy is now gone."

Marton's voice was just loud enough to be audible over the music, and Craig twitched at the sudden address. He turned quickly and almost succeeded in knocking Marton's glass out of his hand.

"Shit," he swore. "Sorry, didn't mean to jump like that. You scared me, is all." He took a sip of his own drink to calm down. "What are you still doing here? I mean, not that I mind, but didn't we finish the Lothlorien scenes already?"

Marton smiled. "ADR. Plus Peter wants to film a few more scenes, smaller ones to flesh out the narrative."

Marton's hair was longer now, Craig noted, and it suited him all too well, as did the simple black shirt he wore. "It's good to see you again," he offered lamely. The music seemed too loud all of a sudden, and his discomfort had to have been evident on his face, because Marton took hold of his shoulder and leaned in to speak.

"I've a flat nearby if you feel like going somewhere more quiet," he said, and Craig nodded before thinking at all. "A chance to catch up with a lot less noise."

Craig nodded again, then caught himself and took stock of the situation. It's not what you think it is, he told himself. Nothing untoward. And thank God it isn't, because you're better off not trying to spoil this. You're mates, he hasn't seen you for a while and wants to catch up. Easy as that.

Marton peered at the entrance as the door swung open to admit new patrons. "It's pouring down. Where are you staying?" He shook his head when Craig mentioned the street name. "You'd be soaked. My flat is ten minutes away by foot, five if you run." Marton was smiling, but his tone of voice let on that he would accept no protest.

***

He followed Marton obediently over the rain-slick streets, keeping the brisk pace to avoid getting soaked to the skin. His thoughts were everywhere but on his surroundings, something he only noted as Marton closed the door of the flat behind them. He had no memory of traversing several flights of stairs, and the realization shook him a little.

"Flat's not mine," noted Marton, his voice echoing in the narrow hall as he walked into the kitchen, leaving Craig standing in the hall. "Called in a favour from a friend who's travelling at the moment."

Craig ran his hand over his hair out of habit, giving a chuckle as his palm skimmed the short strands. Not much hair to mess up, was there? Nonetheless, he took a quick look at himself in the narrow mirror opposite him before following the hallway to the kitchen. His steps were muffled by the thick carpet, and his tread was the slow and careful pace that one automatically affected in a strange house or flat. Finding the living room was easy, and he stood with his hand on the doorframe for a moment before walking over to the rather ostentatious couch and sitting down. The room was furnished simply, and it looked as though it housed someone who travelled often: most of the furniture looked unused, and there was a thin film of dust on the tv screen. The glass table had been used recently, though, and sported a few faint rings left by either mugs or wide glasses.

Marton emerged from the kitchen, carrying two glasses of wine. The long fingers wrapped around the stems of the glasses, curled in the same way they would curl under Craig's jaw later.

"Chardonnay's your poison, right?" asked Marton, even though Craig knew that he knew that. It felt odd to realize that Marton also felt the need to fill the silence with something, despite being the more taciturn one. "Had to use red wine glasses, because there are no other sensible glasses at hand."

He contented himself with nodding and accepted the glass with a satisfyingly stable hand. "I'd drink anything after this week's work, though. God." He leaned his head back, sliding down to rest more comfortably on the sofa. His hands cradled the wine glass, fingers tapping it as he counted off the misfortunes. "I swear, one more shot of me marching up a wobbly ramp and declaring fealty to Theoden, and I'll throttle Peter. I'll find out which unit he's directing or which camera he's behind, hunt him down and kill him."

He suddenly realized there were none of the usual little sounds of agreement that accompanied conversation, and he opened his eyes, holding back a little start at how close Marton seemed to be sitting. "What?" he asked, reflexively.

"I've missed listening to you talk," said Marton simply, leaning his head into his hand. "There's been this odd dent in my life since we started filming in different locations. You were one of my fixed points, you know, someone I actually had worked with before."

"On the same series," noted Craig. "But fair enough, I get your drift. I get a bit jittery around the big names, not to mention whenever I stop to think about the sheer scale of this entire project." I'm blabbering , he thought, willing his fingers to stop turning the stem of the glass.

"There's one of those hairs again," noted Marton, reaching out to pluck something unseen from Craig's shoulder. His knuckles brushed the side of Craig's neck, and Craig felt a fast little thrill run through him.

Well. That was certainly rather unexpected.

He stilled, looking straight ahead and past Marton's face, but caught himself after a second. Since when had he been so skittish?

Marton was looking at him from under his brows, like he always did, and the little smile playing at the corners of his mouth made Craig feel both desperately nervous and relieved at the same time.

"I should probably go," he said, regretting the words as soon as they passed his lips. He didn't want to leave, not really, but it was probably the wisest thing to do at the moment. Before you do something monumentally stupid, he added to himself.

The blood hummed loudly in his ears as he got up, and he missed what Marton was saying. He'd been waiting for this moment for a month, for months possibly, but now his body seemed numb and oddly foreign, like a vessel that was moving under outside command. Marton took the wine glass from him before he has had time to lift his hand, and set it down on the table, too close to the other glass. The glass clinked before tipping over, and he looked down at it for a second, distracted enough to be caught off guard by something he had expected to happen all along. Fancy that.

The glass toppled, then rolled across the surface of the table in a neat semicircle, bleeding wine as it went. He was transfixed by it, needing to concentrate on something other than the unnerving closeness of Marton, something he had never found this intimidating before.

His thoughts were racing, tripping over each other, before suddenly toppling in neat rows like dominoes. Of course.

It was funny, he reflected, how something as familiar as kissing could turn nerve-wracking whenever it was someone new. Worse yet, if it was someone familiar who had crossed over into the 'intimate' category.

As it turned out, the combination of nerve-wracking and familiar-into-intimate worked well. The kiss, careful at first, turned into something that coiled around his spine, seeming to melt him from inside. It confirmed something he'd taken for granted, really: that Marton was almost too good a kisser.

They shuffled backward in an ungainly tangle of limbs, as though dancing some deranged tango, and he wasn't sure if he was leading or following or if it mattered at all. His hand fisted in the back of Marton's shirt, jerking back.

"What are we doing?" he asked, breathless and confused, looking at Marton and wondering if he was trying to buy time before it all flew apart.

Marton merely smiled, his hazel eyes glittering. "What does it look like?"

Craig's skin felt full of fire, good old-fashioned lust that felt good as it burned. "Ah," he smiled. "I see where this is going." "Not that I mind," he quickly added as Marton regarded him silently.

"Your call," said Marton, taking a step back and leaning against the doorframe with one foot nonchalantly hooked over the other. His tone was even, neither resigned nor angry, but Craig could hear the soft shadow of a smile. He was that transparent, wasn't he?

"Liar," he smiled, exhaling a nervous breath. "It wasn't ever my call."

Marton looked at him from under his brows, and Craig swore mentally. Not that. Anything but that gaze, that tilt of the head, because it always rendered him incapable of thinking in a coherent manner. He stepped in, closing the distance between them easily, reckoning attack was the best form of... well, attack in this case.

Marton's fingers curled under his jaw for a second, then slid smoothly and lightly over his neck until they tangled into the short locks at the back. Craig offered no protest or resistance when Marton pulled him close.

Oh god yes. Marton's lips still tasted of wine, tart with malic acid like a mouthful of green apples, and he was hungry for it, judging by the grip he had on the collar of Craig's shirt. They'd leaned on the doorframe far too long for a simple parting kiss, and he knew he didn't want to leave. The wine was warm in his veins, and the hand he had splayed over Marton's side felt the heat of more wine-warmed blood. He wouldn't pretend to have drunk too much or too fast, or to have a convenient excuse for why this was happening. It just was, just like so many other things were. He finally understood what the Brits and the Americans were talking about, the odd displacement that he never quite got a grip on. It was just that.

He supposed it would have happened eventually anyway. The New Zealand actors' community wasn't half as big as the Hollywood grid, and everything seemed to connect via the shortest route. He would have smiled if his bottom lip hadn't been gently trapped between Marton's teeth.

"You need to relax," murmured Marton, his fingers tracing Craig's spine through his shirt. "I'm not trying to kill you, you know."

"That's not what I'm worried about," said Craig.

He saw Marton smile, his white teeth glinting in the dim light. He hadn't noticed how soft the light was, and idly wondered if it was because of judicious use of a dimmer or simply a choice of fixture. It didn't matter, really, because Marton kissed him again, interrupting the thought, and Craig decided he couldn't care less about ambient light in that moment.

I'm holding a wolf by the ears, he thought, the thought flitting errant through his head as he looked into Marton's eyes. Both of them were breathing heavily, the air in the small room thick and heady, and he was sure his heart skipped beats occasionally. Fleeing the field now would be ridiculous, but advancing too fast was equally ill-advised. He took a half-step back, trying to pace himself, but found himself turned and pressed up against the wall half a second later. Right. Fleeing wouldn't be an option, then. Not that he wanted to, not now, not after getting what he'd waited for.

Marton had wedged his leg between Craig's, effectively holding him up and pinning him to the wall at the same time. Craig was unsure what to focus on for a moment as Marton nibbled on his ear, his hands undoing the buttons of Craig's jeans slowly but surely, the backs of his fingers softly stroking each inch of exposed skin. Marton was murmuring something against the skin of his neck, and between delirious rushes of chills, Craig realized it was Elvish. The soft stream of words continued, every aspiration raising even more chills. His hands gripped Marton's shoulders tightly as Marton wrapped his fingers around his cock, and he was surprised by the intensity of the sensation.

Craig gave an incoherent little gurgle in the back of his throat, pushing against Marton's hand and sinking what nails he had into Marton's shoulder. Yes. Sanity and deliberation could come later. Right now, he felt rather more like just giving in. Chances like this only came along very rarely, and he was damned if he was going to make a mistake.

"You're gorgeous like that," said Marton, his voice ragged. "You have no idea." He leaned back an inch or two, then set his free hand under Craig's chin to tip his head up. They shared several heated breaths, of no use oxygen-wise but enough to make Craig's heart pound painfully fast.

"Hardly," he said, beginning a sentence he had no chance to finish, and Marton leaned in to kiss him again, a fast kiss that was hard enough to hurt.

God, Craig thought again, uselessly, drawing a breath so hastily it caught in his throat. His hands scrabbled at Marton's belt, but Marton slapped them away impatiently.

"Let go. This is for you," he said, his tone nothing less than commanding and desperately erotic in some strange way.

He gave a little chuckle as Craig leaned in, their noses colliding briefly, then took hold of Craig's neck to keep him in place. His fingers contracted in time with the fingers he had wrapped around Craig's cock, the pressure steady and the strokes so slow Craig would have sworn out loud had he not felt like there wasn't enough air for him to breathe.

The skin against his skin was warm, muscles moving lazily like steel under silk, and he gave a surprised little gasp as he felt Marton's nails bite into the skin of his neck. The pace of the strokes had picked up, but it was still maddeningly unpredictable.

"Not like--" he managed, not sure what he was trying to say, then bit back on a moan. Too late. Marton shushed at him, mouth to mouth, and his hand was slick and warm and clever around Craig's cock, fingers clenching just so.

He didnít stand a chance, and came with a shudder that seemed to rattle all his bones. His spine felt like it was liquefying, and he was breathing in fits and starts as he leaned his head back against the hard wood of the doorframe.

"Definitely worth the wait," said Marton, his voice warm and low, hoarse with both fatigue and intimacy.

Craig, at that moment focused on trying to get his breathing to slow down, started slightly. "What?" he asked, suddenly confused. "Oh Christ," he noted as the realization sank in. "You're a sneaky bastard, I'll give you that."

"You weren't doing anything," said Marton, leaning in to catch Craig's mouth in a deep kiss. "I was tired of waiting, and I'd given you plenty of time to think."

"You gave me about three seconds."

"I wasn't talking about now," said Marton. "I was talking about the weeks you spent trying to hide everything. You almost fooled me, too." He leaned in, letting his forehead rest against Craig's. "However, didn't anyone tell you not to lie to liars or actors?"

Craig closed his eyes, his shoulders twitching with held-back laughter. "I confess," he said. "Now, do I need to atone for that?"

"You can try," whispered Marton, his lips so close to Craig's that the syllables blurred. "You're quite welcome to."

 


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