Slasha, Baby 2007
Six Second Epiphany
Rating: PG-13 (barely)
Summary: Can you fall in love in six seconds?
Author Notes: I heard once that the average dream only lasts six seconds - which turned out to be entirely false, of course - but the idea fired my imagination. Here's the result.
Post-Reveal Notes: Massive and undying thanks to last-minute betas sunsetmog and tigertale7, who whipped this into much more coherent shape, double-time. I owe you big-time, my loves. Also undying thanks to mods msilverstar and feelforfaith for their patience beyond measure or merit with me, and especially for doing all the work of running this amazing challenge year after year. Thank you!!
The wind and rain were beating at the darkened beachhouse, and Billy was trying futilely to catch a nap in the slightly soggy armchair near the fireplace, his hair and clothes still damp from the afternoon's surfing. Dom was sat on the floor, closer to the fire and just out of kicking distance. He'd been uncharacteristically quiet all week, and Billy was starting to worry about him. The early summer storm cutting short their last day of surfing before the holidays and chasing them inside had only made his mood worse, and the power going out was the last straw, Billy suspected. Dom had been silent for nearly an hour--a personal record, Billy was willing to bet--and when he finally spoke, his voice was quiet and heavy.
"We've been together non-stop for nearly four months now, you know."
"Not entirely non-stop. You let me use the toilet by myself most days," Billy deadpanned determinedly, pulling his blanket closer about his shoulders. Taking the piss was always a good plan with Dom.
"But we've been with each other every single day; not a day goes by when we don't see each other, talk to each other..."
"There was that time I had the 'flu when I didn't wake up for 26 hours straight." He didn't know why he felt the need to be contrary; he was pretty sure he knew what Dom was getting at. The holidays were coming, and he had to admit it would be strange to wake up in a bed back home and realise that his mate was more than a few hundred feet away.
"But I was with you the entire time--making you tea, trying to keep you warm..."
"Your feet were in my face when I woke up," he confirmed cheerfully, remembering.
"You fell asleep at the foot of the bed," Dom reminded him.
"You moved the bed!"
"You fed me whisky?"
"I might've done that," Dom admitted, the ghost of a smile teasing at his lips despite his somber mood.
"Ha! Trying to take advantage of me in my infirmity, were you? I suspected as much."
"A hot toddy's hardly trying to take advantage! You just kept demanding more."
"More whisky or more taking advantage?" Billy's grin was sly, but he knew as soon as he said it that it was the wrong thing to say.
Dom raked a hand through his hair, spiky and defensive and Billy could practically see him curling in on himself protectively. He winced, regretful; he knew his mate was a bit more than fond of him, but he'd never seen the harm in it--the way he saw it, a year and a half together day in and day out was bound to cure Dom of any illusions or affections (platonic or otherwise) that might be lingering now.
"You know I wouldn't." Dom's voice was low, accusing, and Billy couldn't help but feel he deserved it. The two of them had few physical boundaries: both being of the easily affectionate sort it wasn't uncommon to find them leaning on each other, arms slung about the other's shoulders, pecking the other on the cheek, sharing a bed or even a shower or curled up in a blanket together for heat--which it was likely to come to rather soon, Billy suspected with a shiver--but what limits they had, Dom had never crossed. It hadn't actually occurred to Billy to consider that he ever would.
"I know...I'm sorry, Dom. I was just taking the piss." He didn't know what else to say.
Dom was silent for a long moment, and then, quietly: "I dreamt we were lovers once."
Billy shifted uncomfortably, although more for his mate's sake than for his own. At a loss for words, he said the first thing that popped into his head. "What was it like?"
A little smile tugged at Dom's lips. "Not so different. More shagging. And you kept leaving your dirty shorts on my floor."
"I do that now."
"Like I said, not so different. Pete had a fit, but Fran wanted to throw us an engagement party."
"We were getting married?"
"I don't think so. I think she just wanted to throw a party."
Billy snorted. "What did Lij think of it?"
"He didn't have much to say. He and Sean were together all the time, but in my dream Sean was his dad."
"That's a bit...odd."
Dom nodded. "Yeah, you know that 'hangover' you get after a really vivid dream? Well, in Feet the next day I had a harder time getting over thinking of Lij as Sean's son than I did shaking the idea of us being lovers."
Billy considered that. Strangely enough, he knew what Dom meant. "Dreams are funny like that, aren't they? Whole worlds that stick with you or dissolve on contact with the morning light."
"Or morning dark on days when we have early call." Dom made a face. "Y'know, I heard once that an average dream only lasts six seconds."
"That's not even possible."
"Yes it is," his mate insisted. "Your brain can do amazing things that they're only starting to discover, let alone understand. Think about it, though--your imagination coming up with all of these wild ideas and making up these elaborate worlds and stories that play out in super-high-speed--and you living a whole lifetime in six seconds. It blows your mind, just thinking about it."
"You didn't hear this from Viggo by any chance?" Their beloved erstwhile Aragorn's imagination was legendary, and sometimes seemed to supercede his grasp on reality. Mad as a fish was how Dom himself put it, and Viggo never denied it, only smiled.
"No, I read it somewhere. Did you ever dream you were really in love with someone, and then wake up to find out they never existed, except in your head?"
Billy thought about it. "Once or twice. I don't like it, though--you go through a whole day of heartbreak and loss over someone who isn't even real."
"Yeah, I've done it a few times. Still, I like it better than dreaming I'm in love with someone I actually know, but don't feel that way about. Then it's just weird and awkward for a day or two." He looked away.
"Dream about being in love a lot, do you?" Billy asked, curious despite himself.
"Sometimes," Dom admitted. "I have better ones, though. Once I dreamt I was a seal princess." He grinned at the expression on Billy's face. "I ruled over this kingdom that looked like a cross between my old school sports hall and our swimming pool, but it was all in a dungeon. And there was a hero that was going to swim around and save me from something, but I don't remember what."
Billy shook his head. "I feel a lot better about all those dreams about showing up for play rehearsals naked now."
Dom laughed. "That's nothing. You ever watch Bean doing Sharpe on the telly? I dreamt I was in one of those, once--like, in the story, not working on the programme. I was a soldier, but I was fighting on the staircase in this huge Georgian ballroom--and then when I went through a door to run after the bad guys, I would hear that noise the old Pac Man ghosts made when you'd eat a power pellet and I'd know they were about to get me."
"You never cease to amaze me, Dom."
Dom rolled his eyes. "C'mon, haven't you ever had any strange dreams?"
Billy flushed, recalling one in particular. "Well...I once dreamt I was on a date with one of those nasty, fast little guys from Jurassic Park--velociraptors? Except she was wearing my Gram's Sunday hat with the little veil on it, and carrying her purse."
She? Of all the things for Dom to comment on, Billy thought.
"I could tell it was a 'she'. Scared me half to death, though. It was one of the worst dreams I've ever remembered having."
Dom was quiet for a moment. "I dreamt that we all went home for the holidays, and when we came back, you didn't remember me."
Billy blinked in surprise, thinking: I can't imagine not knowing you. What he said was: "Dom, you know that's not going to happen."
His mate shrugged, not meeting his eyes. "I know, but...we'll be away from each other for a whole month. What if we come back and it's not the same? What if we don't fall right into being Dom-and-Billy, the way we did when we met?"
"First off, it's Billy-and-Dom," Billy retorted. "And second off...Dom, I promise you, the day we're not the same as we are now, not...us...will be the day they put one or both of us in the ground." Which was only true.
"I know. I do. It's just--a month is a long time, y'know? I'm going to miss you." Dom sighed.
"Then you'll get on a train and come visit me, won't you?" Billy replied matter-of-factly. "Stop worrying, Dom. It'll be here and over before you know it, and you'll be back here whinging about me farting in your car and stealing your beer in no time. Now come over here--you're shivering."
Dom got up and piled on top of Billy, settling beside him in the chair after some grumbling and 'accidental' jabs to tender areas by Billy's elbow. Dom was chillier than Billy was, and Billy wriggled the blanket around them both, grabbing his friend's cold hands and chafing them before Dom could decide to attack him with them. He shrieked a little as Dom worked icy toes under his knees instead.
"Much better," proclaimed Dom, with a contented little smile. He let his head rest on Billy's shoulder and closed his eyes.
Billy looked down at him, and found himself smiling a little as well.
He hadn't realized he'd drifted off until he woke in time to see Dom carefully detach himself from Billy's grasp. His friend's face was drawn and tense in the dim light.
"Where're you going, then?" he asked sleepily.
"Just going to curl up by myself tonight by the fire. You stay there. I'm sure the electricity will be back on soon." Dom's voice was quiet and thick to Billy's ears.
"Dom--" he protested, but his friend just shook his head and turned away. Troubled, Billy watched his silhouette against the dying fire for a long time before sleep took him again.
They're on set in Fangorn, and Pete is asking if they're ready to do the new scene Fran handed out that morning. As usual, they're both ready to go, and Dom is bouncing with the barely-bottled energy he always exudes before a first take.
It's not until the AD calls "action" that Billy remembers it's a love scene they're filming.
The first take is stiff and awkward, the second is disrupted by an explosive belch (Dom's) and the ensuing hilarity, the third, fourth and fifth are ruined by stifled giggling. By the sixth take, they don't even bother stifling it. Any eye contact is an occasion for uncontrollable laughter.
In the end, Pete throws up his hands in disgust and tells them to do it as they would in real life, and just that easily, the giggling dies out. The seventh take is flawless. They slip into each other's arms as naturally as breathing. Billy's breath goes out of him in one long, shuddering sigh as Dom's mouth finds his, warm and slick and eager, and his fingers work their way beneath layers of clothing to explore hot, taut skin. The sound of Dom's broken groan in his ear draws a gasp, and he rocks his hips into Dom's, finding an answering press of rigid flesh sliding and thrusting tantalisingly against his own growing erection.
Then he's sat beside Pete, watching the action from the sidelines, his breath catching at the perfectly matched bodies twisting together between Treehorn's roots, their rhythm seamless and urgent and enthralling. He wonders at the ease between them, the natural way they fell into bed--or in this case, damp leaves--together, with no uncertainty or hesitation. At the same time, it seems strangely inevitable, the inescapable and utterly right destination toward which all of their experiences and choices thus far have been carrying them. As he watches, Billy-in-the-scene brushes a damp lock of hair back from his lover's face. In the monitor, Billy-at-the-sidelines sees Dom's smile, private and simple and replete, and it leaves him aching with the desire to see it, cause it again.
The dream shifted then, like a carpet slipping beneath his feet.
He's stood on the beach with his luggage, having just returned from his holidays. He can't wait to see Dom again, and no sooner does he think it then Dom is there, looking at him blankly, as if he's trying to place him. Billy starts to snort at his friend's obvious jest, but Dom speaks first.
"Billy, isn't it? A pleasure to see you again. Look, I've got someone I'd like you to meet." Behind him, Billy sees a familiar shape. It's the velociraptor who once scarred him with his bizarre dreams of a date gone wrong--but now Dom's staring at this oversized lizard with an expression of adoration and devotion, and Billy realises that the only feeling he has now is not fear, but emptiness and aching loss.
Billy opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. The beach seems to spin dangerously as he grasps for words, but it's too late. Dom and his date are gone now, and Billy's left to sort out the pain and confusion twisting inside him. He sinks to the sand, his chest tight and his knees weak. Scenes flash through his mind like flicking though the channels on a television: that first meeting and their first embrace in Wardrobe, checking out Dom's arse while playing pool with him that same night, surfing together for the first time, riffing off each other and making the crew laugh so hard they missed a half hour of shooting, the first time they kissed outside Dom's flat after a long night shoot, the leisurely breaks in the shade at Amon Hen, talking quietly and finding out just how much they had in common, sitting with Dom's head in his lap in the little pub just down from the Weta building, his fingers in his mate's hair, the way his heart leapt into his throat when Dom jumped out of the airplane with Orli. The realisation sinks in like the slow, deliberate thrust of a knife he should have seen coming: he loves Dom, deeply and terrifyingly loves him. He's loved him all along.
He watches the tide for a long time, feeling it sweep in toward him: inevitable, irresistible, unstoppable. Finally he pulls himself to his feet and crosses the thinning stretch of sand to the beachhouse. There's a blanket on the sofa, and he curls up on the couch with it, letting the tears flow. When he's cried himself out, he closes his eyes to go to sleep. The sofa cushions give beneath him as a body crawls in beside him.
"Billy? Billy, I'm sorry..."
His mouth finds Dom's blindly, kissing him deeply, his fingers winding into his mate's clothes. "Dom, I'm so glad you came back," he murmurs.
Billy came awake with a start as Dom jerked away from him, eyes wide and dark. He stared at his mate, his mind working fast as pieces fell together in a rush, the lines of reality blurring as the dream merged with the moment, slipping into the cracks and spaces like colour tainting a black-and-white photo to create something sharper, brighter and more complete. It was so simple, so clear now.
He was in love with Dom. He had been for ages. The knowledge lifted a weight from him that he hadn't known was there, and he felt like laughing with sheer joy.
The shock and confusion written on Dom's face called him back abruptly to the moment. Not knowing what else to say, he told the truth. "I dreamt that I loved you," he offered, hoping it was explanation enough.
"Ah." Dom's face twisted with something between wistfulness and regret. And then, quietly: "Can you fall in love in six seconds?"
Billy tried not to smile. "It takes longer than that, I'm afraid." Four months should be a good start, he reckoned. But only that--a start--it occurred to him, and he swallowed back an unexpected surge of emotion. "I can't imagine not knowing you, Dom."
It wasn't what he'd meant to say, hadn't meant to sound so husky and ridiculously tender, but it must have been the right thing after all. As Billy watched, Dom's smile curved slowly into an echo of his own, the sweet, euphoric warmth seeping into the creases at his lips and eyes, stinging and irresistible and unabashed. It made him want to hold Dom close and kiss him for hours and do things all of the things he'd never admitted to wanting before.
And Billy wouldn't dream of having it any other way.