Slasha, Baby 2007
"So what's he like then?" Orlando helps himself to another barbecued spare rib.
"He was good. Swung that sword like he was a master." Billy offers Dom the last portion of fried rice.
Elijah nods. "Yeah, he was awesome." He stares hard at the remnants on Sean's plate until Sean pushes the plate over to him. Elijah falls on them as if he's never eaten.
"He never said much." Dom makes separate piles of rice and egg and peas and generally plays with the food, making weird zen-like patterns in the sauce with his chopsticks. "I made a joke and all he did was grunt."
"That's because he didn't understand what you said. I've a real problem with your accent, Dom, when you talk as fast as you do. I was only saying to Lij the other morning...ow! Lij, stop that, this is not the place for a food fight!" Sean rubs his nose and scowls at the shrimp now fallen on his arm.
"Food fight! Food fight!" Orlando begins flicking peas from his fork in all directions. Elijah laughs but makes no attempt to join in, preferring to watch and pass rude remarks. Dom, on the other hand, reaches for a spoon and soon adds to the mayhem. Sean stares in amazement and looks to Billy for support.
Billy shakes his head. "It's like living with a coupla kids. Ah well, in for a penny, in for a pound. At least I'm not the one on cleaning duty tomorrow." He joins in, scoring a few good shots with pieces of spring onion.
Dom brandishes a barbecued rib bone. "He may be good with a sword but nothing beats the power of The Rib." He strokes the bone melodramatically. "My precious..."
There is a round of applause and a few belches. Beers are finished with a final 'chink' of bottles.
"To the newest member of the Fellowship!" burbles Orlando.
"To Virgo..." Dom shouts.
"Viggo!" Billy and Sean corrects as one.
Dom refuses to be silenced. "Who the hell has a daft name like Viggo, anyway?"
"Yeah," Elijah raises his bottle. "To cunty names everywhere!"
He stops, puzzled, as his three British friends fall in a heap laughing. "What did I say?"
They sit in the canteen area, robes over their costumes and chat. Every so often they steal a glance at the lone figure at a table in a corner. No one makes any attempt to go near the table. No one stops to say hi or to pass any comments at all. In fact, it looks as if the occupant has his eyes closed.
"Think he's asleep?" Dom leans back to look at Viggo more carefully, "Looks like it to me."
"I heard he sleeps with his sword," Orlando waves a kumara chip in the air, "so, perhaps he doesn't get much rest."
"None of us do." There is a murmur of agreement with Sean's terse comment and even Elijah, usually so ready for anything, sounds subdued.
"Wonder why he does that?" Dom picks up another kumara chip and has a mock fight with Orlando, making light sabre sound effects with each tap of vegetable on vegetable.
Billy picks at his teeth. "Why don't you go and ask him?"
Orlando's kumara chip decapitates Dom's but Dom has lost interest. He pushes back his chair and ties the robe round his costume firmly. "Right, I will."
Dom grins as he hears the whispers of admiration behind him. He's getting more than a little brassed-off with all the Viggo worship. Nice man and all that but most of the time as weird as hell.
He flops down in the chair opposite Viggo, who doesn't open his eyes. Dom looks back at the others, who make encouraging hand gestures. He shrugs and gets up, ready to admit that the man is asleep and so what?
Elijah starts making chicken noises. Orlando flaps his arms and joins in.
Dom has no choice.
He coughs. "Er...that was a good scene, just then."
Viggo rotates his head, easing stiff neck muscles. His arms are flung out and he clenches and unclenches his fists, slowly, rhythmically. His eyes are still closed. Dom watches it all, fascinated.
Eventually, the eyes open and fix on Dom. For a moment, Dom thinks Viggo knows all there is to know about him but that's plain ridiculous. He repeats his compliment.
"Thank you, Dominic. I appreciate it."
"Yeah, well, thought you'd like to know. We all think so, back there..." he gestures back to where the others are sitting but, seeing Viggo's slight frown, knows without even checking that the bastards have gone off and left him to look stupid on his own. "Right. Okay. Erm..."
Viggo smiles. "Seems they had other things to do. Sit down."
Dom isn't sure if it's a request or a command. Not that it matters, his legs are obeying the man even while his brain is considering the difference.
"You read the books?"
For the next fifteen minutes Dom finds himself talking about Tolkien and the times he spent with his father, reading together. When the runner calls for them to come on set, Dom realises that Viggo has hardly said a word, merely nodded or said in that low voice 'that's interesting'. Viggo has listened to everything Dom's said and Dom feels kind of special.
As they get up to go, Viggo says, "Tell Orlando I only sleep with my sword every other day and never on a Sunday. Oh, and I have excellent hearing." He says it so seriously Dom isn't sure if he's joking or not and finds himself agreeing to pass on the message as soon as he can, whenever he can, all earnest like some boot boy to a Man U player.
He shakes himself. He's got a lot of respect for all of these fine actors but the last thing he wants is to develop some type of crush on Viggo. He's got more pride than that.
Dom is freezing and wished he'd put more on than an extra long scarf on top of his jacket but looking at Elijah, desperately trying to keep warm, pulling the sleeves of his sweater over his fingers, Dom decides he wouldn't swap places. Elijah is almost blue, teeth chattering, looking up at Viggo with an almost pained expression as Viggo takes picture after picture.
"Lij, you look constipated," Dom mocks, blowing onto his gloved hands. "Put a bit of expression into it."
"I like his expression...leave him alone," Viggo orders and signals Elijah to look up towards the hotel and as he does, Viggo takes the picture with a satisfied 'Yes, that's it.' He smiles at Elijah and Dom scowls because Viggo wanted both of them down here in the snow and while Elijah has been poncing around, Dom's been freezing his balls off.
Viggo is fiddling with the camera, Elijah's heading on into the hotel and Dom's had enough. He climbs onto the seat and balances on the heels of his shoes, then rocks forward, teetering on the edge of the seat, holding the position and then settling back, thinking about the days ahead.
Viggo takes a picture without Dom realising until it's done.
"Hey! Why does Elijah get all these chances to look great and I end up with this frog pose on the bench?"
"I like your frog pose. I like the way you were lost in your thoughts. Don't often see you quiet, Dom. I've wanted to see a different side to you instead of the endless jokes and quick remarks. You should try it more often -- the quiet suits you."
Dom is open-mouthed, not sure if he's been insulted or not. He likes being the comedian of the group and if anyone doesn't like it they can sod off. He doesn't want to cause a scene but in the pub that night, he hardly looks at Viggo and makes sure he's at his scintillating best all evening. In the end Viggo moves to another table with Orlando in tow. When Viggo laughs at something Orlando says, Dom knows the man can't have a single humorous bone in his body. Orlando can't tell jokes, Orlando can't do a witty comeback to save his life and Orlando spends most of his time batting his eyelashes at Viggo and what's worse, Viggo doesn't seem to mind.
All that guff about Viggo being different and he still falls for the flattery like everyone else. Like everyone else. He watches the two of them most of the evening and when Viggo leaves by himself, and Orlando comes back to their table feeling sorry for himself, Dom does his usual clown thing and has them all laughing.
Orlando has lost the party spirit. "We get on so well. What am I doing wrong?"
"Wouldn't worry, pal, there's always Bean." Dom says and then gets a sharp elbow in the side from Billy who hisses to him, "At least don't look so bloody pleased about it."
Dom hasn't the faintest idea what he's on about.
Of course then he finds that Viggo writes poetry, paints, speaks several languages and is portraying Aragorn as if he's born to it. Dom hates the fact Viggo looks so great in dirt and sweat. He hates the fact that his own costume needs a fat cushion, that his wig looks like it's mopped floors and his feet smell when the prosthetics are taken off, even when there's a ton of lotion slathered all over them.
He always swore he'd never be in awe of anyone. Now, he can't help it. When Viggo does those sword moves, he's watching along with everyone else. In fact, sometimes, he'd swear Viggo liked him watching.
"I don't know how he does it. Was he born lucky? He makes everything look so easy. Do you know, everyone has a good word to say about him?"
Billy considers this. "They could be afraid of him. He does have that brooding look about him --like he's planning to off you any minute."
"Nah, when he listens to you, he looks right at you like he's hanging on your every word. When he thanks the stunties, they all go to jelly. Even Sala has this huge crush on him and he's picky. People like Viggo, Billy, even if he hardly talks to most of them."
There aren't many times when Dom wonders about the friendship between him and Billy but this is one of them.
"You implying what exactly?"
"You like him. You watch him. You want to know where he's going, where he's been and who with." Billy seems amused.
"I like to know where people are, that's all."
"Yeah, course you do. You also light up like a beacon when he comes into a room. Never mind Sala, you've got a big enough crush all of your own."
"How can you say that?" Dom sputters. "You are way off the mark there...no chance."
"No chance of you liking him or the other way round? Open your eyes, my friend."
Billy takes great delight in reminding him of this conversation every couple of days for the rest of principal filming. It's a long time to endure something that isn't true but the fact that Dom learns to live with it tends to suggest to Dom that it's not as a horrific idea as he first thought. The shift in his thinking is rather worrying. For some reason Billy thinks it's a hoot.
When Dom moves to LA, he gets an invitation to an exhibition of Viggo's work. He's bored and stressed because there's nothing in the pipeline for him and he wants more chances to show what he can do. The invitation means nothing, he reassures himself. Elijah gets one too --it's no big deal. It's just better than sitting around waiting.
It is a big deal that the two pictures from Te Anau are there, huge and stark. Elijah looking like the God of Enigmatic Expression Framed in Snowflakes and him looking like a frog. He circulates to avoid being photographed next to the frog picture and finds himself stuck next to a couple of critics gazing soulfully at two panels. One is a vibrant red slashed with black, so harsh Dom can't look at it for long while the other is a much gentler collection of colours and shapes, still red, but different shades that merge and separate and Dom is intrigued enough to try to count how many Viggo's used.
The critics are talking about the pictures and Dom is amazed how wrong they are. It's obvious what it all means and suddenly he can't hold back.
"The panel there is a cruel red, harsh so you want to look away, you can't take more than a couple of brief glances. The other one is softer, shades of red, rectangles that overlap, merge --all different but there's a harmony there...its like the whole thing is an analogy of war. We can't look at the harsh but by concentrating on the gentler side we are refusing to acknowledge the very harshness we've created..."
They move away, murmuring their displeasure but Dom's feeling pretty stupid. Going on like that, like it meant something. What would he know?
"Thank you...for your words. It means a great deal to me that this has reached you."
Viggo standing behind him so close Dom can feel the warmth of his body.
"I like it. It's powerful."
"I'd like you to see what else I've done. I'd like to hear your opinions." Viggo slides his hands over Dom's shoulders and pulls him back against him. "Tell me you'll come."
Dom is amazed the way his body moulds into Viggo's without a second thought. He sees Elijah staring at them with a surprised expression before he leaves and Dom makes no effort to follow.
"How about now?"
The visit turns out like nothing he expects. Viggo encourages him to touch his canvases, talk about them. He lets Dom pick up and put down, have a go and then gives him a small canvas to play around with. Self-consciousness falls away. Dom sketches, Viggo watches. They talk and laugh, share making a meal and the day turns to night before either of them notice. Dom wonders where the time has gone. He has never had an experience like this for a long time where everything has happened almost by itself without plan or preparation. It seems so normal.
Viggo wants him to visit again. As he gets into the car, Dom wonders why.
"You've got many talents, Dom. I like seeing you discover them. And I like your company. Your friendship matters to me."
Dom can't help it. It's been a while since anyone was that honest with him. It's been a while since anyone was that complimentary. He pulls on Viggo's shirt and Viggo lowers his head, probably thinking Dom wants to say something but instead Dom kisses him and Viggo responds and it's good but not great. It puzzles Dom because he expected it to be great. It's like Viggo is holding back.
"I...god, have I just fucked this up?"
Viggo seems amused which puzzles Dom even more. The man never reacts as Dom expects him to. Dom has enjoyed this day and wants more of them and to find he'd messed it all up with a stupid move...
"No, not at all. How were you to know this is going to be different from now on?"
"It is? Right...erm, what is?"
Dom is bewildered by the word. He didn't expect it. He examines it in his head and finds to his astonishment, it doesn't scare him. In fact, he likes the idea. Really likes it.
"Viggo, do me a favour. Give me something to work with here because I thought you said 'us' and that's a really loaded word and I don't want to get the wrong idea..."
"What we've got here is the start of something. It's enough we have friendship for now. You've just found me... so we need to let it grow. I'm a patient man. I've waited so far. " Viggo touches Dom's arm, his fingers gentle. "Goodnight, Dom, I'll call you."
Even after Viggo's gone back inside, Dom stays in the car, gripping the wheel, not wanting to start the engine and break the moment.
Viggo's right. It is enough for now but the idea that Viggo has waited...Dom grins with the realisation that waiting means wanting. Viggo wants him in his own Viggo-like way.
Dom lets out a whoop and starts the car. He very much likes the sound of that.