Slasha, Baby 2007
Elijah has hidden depths. He knows this because it's eighteen weeks since he arrived in New Zealand and he's frustrated by the way everyone treats him. He shouldn't mind, really; he's the youngest there most of the time and logically, he knows this means that people will instinctively look after him. He can't drink back home, after all, not the way he can here, and so he's going through that learning process where every night is too much and having to be helped back to his house every night just hurts his reputation. Everyone else has been there; they know when to switch to water from tequila and to stay away from cruisers because the high comes too close to the sickly feeling of having had too much. He feels their eyes on him when he gets that way; knows that they can see how green his skin is even under the strobe lights that flash on and off and hurt his eyes just before he stumbles away from the bar and into the toilets.
Elijah's been acting for almost his whole life - a period of time much longer than some of his so-called costars who are really just fellow cast members but seem to be elevated beyond ensemble status because of their name or their role. He knows he's still young and maybe hasn't done all the things everyone else has done, but sometimes he wonders whether all that experience shouldn't count for something compared to all their stories and menial jobs from 'before they were actors'. He wonders whether Ian would prefer to work with him when he's half-asleep and unfocused rather than hear the muffled bassline of Bullet with Butterfly Wings playing on his side of the trailer wall; whether Sean would feel like looking after him so much if the current cut of his last movie wasn't sitting in a vault somewhere until producers settled on a less than nebulous release date. Though Sean should really know better, he thinks, having come through the same thing only a few years ago; perhaps time does change things in people's memories after all.
He knows that Billy admires the way he falls asleep between scenes, missing the chaotic rearranging of lights and cameras without smearing his makeup or tripping on wires; he doesn't know whether Billy would think the same if he explained that it used to be the only way he got any sleep and now it's the only time he gets to himself, the only time he gets away from everyone watching him and feeling like they're wondering whether he's really good enough to be Frodo. He's not exactly confident that he can stand on his own against John and he's relieved that he never has a scene with Christopher, though both had been among the least questioning of him, at least so far.
Sometimes he catches Orlando watching him and it feels nice to be looked up to for a change; it's all in his imagination anyway, of course, but Orlando's the one who can remind him that there's always someone else learning too. Orlando has to ask him what the extra guys running around the set actually do and why there's lights overhead when it's only a close-up shot; Orlando's really the one with wide eyes and they're even blue, sometimes, when Orlando's not complaining about the contacts.
"Elijah, are you doing anything tonight?" Orlando asks if he's finished getting out of costume before Elijah's left the feet trailer, and Elijah never says that he has plans because he doesn't want to see Orlando disappointed. It's strange, that, but Elijah learned very early that he shouldn't question himself, because that just makes everything worse and he spends the weekends in bed feeling like the world when things are that bad. Orlando, somehow, keeps the worst of those feelings away and Elijah doesn't want to tempt them back. He wonders whether Orlando would act the same way if he'd done more before this; if he'd come in with more than a day's experience on a movie set and didn't seem to spend half of every day talking about how lucky he is to be here. It's almost a foreign perspective to have, but he can understand it if he thinks about how he worked to be here too; when he thinks about how everyone's lucky to be here and to be part of something that already feels different and special, he doesn't feel so young or so alone.
But tonight, when he's just tried his first shot of black sambuca and decided that he would rather stick with vodka if he can't just have a beer or two before heading back to the house, he feels both so deeply that he gasps when the bottom of the glass hits the bar and the sound echoes in his mind as if he's empty inside, somewhere where it matters. Sean's there, asking if he's all right and Dom's apologising for daring him to try something so strong after a long day, but it's Orlando, eyes dark and half hidden, who calms him down. Orlando is dancing and the music gets louder as he watches, almost as if the DJ knows that something is happening between them. Elijah can feel the club vibrate around him; the building seems to pulse in time with the beat and he recognises Ava Adore as he pushes Sean and Dom away. He says nothing, knowing that they couldn't hear him anyway and hoping that the fact that he can walk is enough for them to see that he's fine; he was fine before Dom wanted to know if he could hold something stronger than a party drink and Sean wanted to know if Elijah would still be okay to drive, and he's fine now that he's drawn towards Orlando for reasons he just doesn't dare to question even with alcohol warming his blood and Frodo left behind somewhere he's not going to go back to until his alarm clock reminds him of Monday's early call. He's grown up enough to know that what he wants to do could cause problems enough, and he's had eighteen weeks to realise that everyone who's trying to look after him has a good reason for it, even if he hunches his shoulders to bear the weight they put on him. He knows what they'll say; he knows that Dom will tell Billy and Sean will warn him of every possible consequence, and that afterwards he'll hear it from Ian who'll then ask whether Orlando's worth it and Peter will take him aside and ask that he keep his personal life away from the set. He knows and willingly forgets, because Orlando is dancing and when everyone's on the dancefloor, things are equal because they're all dancing to the same tune and hearing the same thing at the same time. What people think of him and how they act towards him becomes irrelevant; he gives up everything to feel the music and Orlando's body moving against his. He doesn't care who's watching when he tilts his head back and lets Orlando kiss him; what he does with his body and to whom he trusts himself are things that nobody can say that he's too young for, nor can they try to look after him like he's still a child while he's kissing Orlando back and sliding his arms around Orlando's waist.
For this moment, everything else ceases to matter; all the doubts that he keeps inside seem to fade into his heart and dissipate like Orlando's kiss sends a cleansing breeze through the storm-damaged recesses of his soul.
When he pulls away, he feels like Orlando can see him, and he smiles. Orlando smiles back, and Elijah pushes himself up onto his toes so that he can kiss Orlando again.