Sekrit Slasha

Slasha, Baby is the LOTR RPS Fanfiction holiday fic exchange. This story depicts real-life public figures engaged in completely fictional, false and untrue activities. It never happened. This story is a work of fantasy and satire which in no way professes to express the truth about the life, thoughts, feelings, desires, opinions, beliefs, activities or sexual orientation of any person mentioned herein.

Skin

Title: Skin
Recipient:
slashfairy
Pairing: None
Rating: PG
Summary: Sir Ian feels cut off from the fun of associating with his fellow actors after work due to the reaction he has to the glue and facial prosthetics.
Notes: The suggestion was for a character study, perhaps including Ian Holm. He's here, but he's not as chatty as I was hoping he'd be.

Sir Ian leaned back in the chair and kept his breathing steady as the prosthetics artist carefully removed Gandalf's nose. He tried to remember her name-- Janae? Janelle? Something pretty, feminine, and currently escaping him. With every tiny pull of the prosthetic away from his skin there was pain, but worse than that was the fear of the thinned red skin cracking or peeling away. He sighed with relief as he felt her pull the prosthetic away for good, the air against his own skin making him itch. He tried an experimental scrunching of his facial muscles, a sort of grimace. It didn't feel any worse than it had on other days.

"Thank you," he murmured as she took the nose away. Liv might be allowed to treat her ears like they were something other than expensive polymer prosthetics-- the other day he'd been privy to the information that she'd let one of them melt to the dashboard of her car-- but his nose had to be consistent, absolutely the same from shot to shot. Peter would notice in an instant if anything was off, though given the sheer duration of the filming it was bound to need replacing sooner or later.

He kept his eyes mostly closed, cracking an eyelid just enough to note that there was another young woman walking towards him, blurry through the screen of his eyelashes.

"Good afternoon." Her voice was soft but clear, and pleasant, and he remembered that her name was Sarah. "Do you want anything to drink before we begin?"

He felt his lips quirk up at that. She didn't offer him tea, which here, in the makeup trailer, came inevitably in a styrofoam cup.

"Thank you, my dear, but I'm fine."

She was quick, slipping a soft jersey headband over his head to hold back his own hair, grown flat and oily from being under the wig all day. The first touch of her sponge on his face was cool, the thick cold cream against his forehead soothing. He'd seen the younger ones, Dom and Elijah in particular, removing their own makeup at the end of the day, leaning towards the lighted mirrors with a look of such intense concentration that they might as well have been applying makeup as taking it off. From the very first, Sir Ian had been offered the services of one of the makeup artists, and he had never declined. He'd spent enough time in his life peering at his own face, sponge in hand, smearing color on or wiping it away.

Sarah touched a fresh sponge to the side of his face, and he tilted his head a bit, trying to be helpful. There was a spot just near the ear that tended to trap makeup. Dom and Elijah missed it, sometimes, practically sporting an orange tinted ring around their hairlines. Just a week into filming with the man, Ian had reached out when Dom tried to walk past him with that pencil-line thin stripe of greasy makeup next to his ear. The side of his thumb scraped against it, already softened from Dom's previous efforts, and it came away easily enough. Dom hadn't shied away from the touch. He'd leaned into it, like a cat, and kept the weight of his head leaning against Ian's palm when he was done, just for a second before moving away.

Sarah's deft fingers smoothed out his skin, pressing on his ear just a bit as she used the point of the sponge to expertly remove the makeup, and he made a small sound, a hum of approval.

"The nose is still bothering you," Sarah said.

He kept his eyes closed. "It is, very much."

"I've got some cream that should be soothing, but I'd feel better if you'd have the doctor look at it." She was trying to be gentle, he could tell, but even at the junction between his nose and the rest of his skin he could feel the difference. He didn't need a mirror to know his own face.

"Just the cream for now, I should think." Speaking made the sore places hurt more. The first cool touch of the cream was a relief and he imagined it making a shiny film over the red skin, accentuating it even as it healed it. He didn't need to look, he thought. The young men who took off their own make-up weren't really looking into the mirrors to guide the removal of the grease. They were looking at themselves, staring, divining, and he didn't begrudge them, though his own time for that was long past.

2.

Changes were made in glue, in medication, in ointment, yet the rash on his face was still a pain. Filming the Isengard scenes brought a whole different set of complaints, as he spent his days in a harness, being hauled about on a cable. Lying face down on the massage table, sinking slightly into the foam mattress covered by the soft flannel sheet, he felt the muscles in his back begin to relax, only to have others tense up. His face was a blotchy mess, the worst of the irritation covered by a thick medicinal paste, the rest coated in moisturizer. Only his forehead and the very sides of his jaw touched the face rest, doubtless leaving behind a residue of both substances.

The massage therapist was very good. He'd been happy to see that it was Hannah, with her strong hands and short blunt fingers that seemed to know where to dig in, where to skim over his back without bruising. She smoothed something warm and slick over his back, something that smelled of eucalyptus and camphor, filling the room with a strong scent as it warmed his muscles, almost burning at times, but always tempered by the movement of her hands. With a less competent therapist it would have been agony, but as it was the discomfort was only just great enough to keep him from drifting off.

He let himself think ahead to what came next. His soft clothes, only just the right side of slatternly, the right amount of finish on the slacks and jacket that though they were little better than a track suit he felt at home, walking from the trailers to his waiting car. Then home, or the place he called home for now, at least. A light supper. Sleep. Then tomorrow, being pulled about by a cable while pretending that he was being tortured. At least it wasn't much of a stretch. Draw on a time that you have been tortured, he'd thought to himself sarcastically. Like now. That would do. Peter had promised that there was one more day, at most, but he was a perfectionist, and the films were a gigantic gamble in any case. He would keep doing it until the scene was right.

Hannah swept her hands from his shoulders to the small of his back, the end of his treatment. Her fingers moved easily over his skin but he could feel the looseness of it over the thin muscle of his back, the way it wrinkled and shifted under her hands. It was smooth, though. He had seen the scaley outgrowths on other mens' backs, had assured himself that it would never happen to him. Moisturizing, exfoliating, and, as needed, liquid nitrogen or even lasers in a doctor's office. It was worth it, a little pain to prevent his skin from turning to the texture of bark.

Once his hand had been smoooth and strong, with skin that hardly moved at all over the inner web of bones and muscle. He had been the younger man, once, pressing his hand against the soft thin skin of another man's chest, his back, the lightly furred belly, slipping down to grasp a hip, the bone sharp inside a sheath of shifting muscle and skin, no amount of calisthenics able to conceal the man's age. Ian had touched him with tenderness, admiration, attraction. Perhaps, even at times, love, though the years had dimmed that particular memory, maybe softened that interlude into something kinder. After all, they'd not stayed together long, just through the heady days of Cymbelline's run, and then separated by mutual consent, an almost business-like affair. He thought of the engagement of sorts they all had here in New Zealand, wondered if anyone would be there to turn the tables on him, watching his skin wrinkle against touch and movement like tiny waves before a small ship's bow.

3.

Yet another new medication did keep the sore spots from spreading or weeping, but that was the best that could be said for it. As Gandalf, he was happy to sit by his fellow actors, joking with them between scenes, watching Dom and Billy play endless games of chess-- endless not because either of them were very good, but because they were so well matched in their competent mediocrity. Chess was where competent mediocrity ended, though. The retakes of every scene weren't wearing on him as he'd thought they might. Elijah had never, to Ian's knowledge, acted on the stage, but the energy he threw out was so great, so reminiscent of the theatre that Ian found himself feeding on it, replenished instead of exhausted. He meant to have a word with Elijah, wondering how long he could keep doing that before his bright light began to dim and burn out, but the hobbits seemed to keep each others' energy up, a constant symbiosis, and Ian did his best to feed into it as well.

Once the day was over, though, he waved away their invitations for him to come along to some pub, some restaurant, some ridiculous club. They cajoled, but his plea of old age was never really challenged. His face hurt, and looked awful, and he wanted to be alone. He sat in the make-up chair, grateful for the silence of the young woman who was working on his face.

When the door to the trailer slammed shut he assumed it was one of the young people, but when he looked to see who was sitting next to him suddenly he was pleasantly surprised to see Ian Holm.

"What brings you to my humble trailer, Ian?"

"I wanted to show off my most recent make-up test."

Sir Ian sat up a little straighter and the make-up artist set her things down, retreating to the nearby worktop as he looked at Ian. "Quite remarkable." Ian Holm was nearly a decade older than him, but at the moment his skin looked smooth, taut, nearly flawless. He looked, if not young, then at least younger.

"It's strings!" Ian nearly giggled. "They glued these anchors to my skin, and look." He turned and Sir Ian could see the network of threads pulling his face back. Sir Ian thought of how he used to put his own hands to his forehead when looking at himself in the mirror, pushing his hair back, tightening the skin on his face. He'd given up that nod to vanity of late.

"I may have to remember that trick," he murmured.

"Ah, don't, it's a pain," Ian said. "Though not as much as your nose, I'd wager. I only need this for one scene. Then it's back to letting my decrepitude shine through." He looked cheerful at the prospect.

"It is a bit painful," Sir Ian said, resisting the urge to reach up and touch the sore spots on his face. "It looks worse than it feels." Which in turn makes me feel worse, he thought, but kept the morose sentiment to himself.

"I've also been sent to invite you to supper. We're all out at a decent hour, for once."

Sir Ian shook his head. "I've never liked descending on a restaurant en masse. At least, I haven't enjoyed being that obnoxious in quite a few years."

"Peter's booked us a room at one of the larger places. They can handle us." He feigned thoughtfulness for a moment. "Or, at least, they'll think they can for a while. Either way it amounts to the same thing. Do come along."

Sir Ian chuckled, but shook his head. "My face looks a mess. And to be honest, I'm tired."

Ian rested his hand on his shoulder. "We'd be crushed if our Gandalf weren't there. Your face is only hurt because you're enduring the prosthetics for this film, after all. Don't deny yourself the fun of going out with us because of that."

Sir Ian felt a lump in his throat suddenly. He had been isolating himself, and he missed the madness that could happen when with a group of actors, tired, stretched beyond their limits but still wired. "I don't know if I can take advice from one so young."

Ian simply quirked an eyebrow at him, shifting one of the strings. The effect was odd, his face moving in an unexpected way, and Sir Ian laughed.

"All right then. Come find me when you get that ridiculous face-lift undone."

4.

Peter had booked them a room in an Indian restaurant, and it was more than able to handle the crowd. The lighting was kind-- potted lamps washing terra cotta colored walls with soft light, smaller dimmer lamps on the long table. Sir Ian had claimed a spot on the long velour covered bench against the wall, not bothering to put in his opinion on what combination of foods should be ordered, although there had been much debate swirling around him regarding the relative merits of roti versus parantha. Peter had put an end to the debate with some conversation with the waiter, apparently ordering one of everything for the table.

The conversations around him rose and fell, people getting up from their chairs, moving about, the hobbits and Orlando seeming to incessantly climb over one another if that was the path of least resistance. Ian had a quiet yet pleasant conversation with Bean, words seeming to travel under and through the din rather than over it. The food that came to him eventually was filling and good, though he was so tired at that point that he couldn't have said precisely what it was that he'd just eaten.

He lingered over his beer as the room quieted, the soft light making it easy to become lost looking at shadows on the wall opposite. He was satisfied and sleepy, his face only the barest annoyance at the edge of his mind.

He was startled out of his reverie as he when someone sat next to him. Dom, curling his legs up, bare feet clinging to the edge of the cushion. He leaned towards Ian, his eyes bright, but not drunk.

"Hello Ian."

"Hello Dom." Up close Dom smelled like sandalwood and patchouli, the scents subtle, blending in to the spicier scent of the restaurant. He wanted to lean closer, but held himself back.

He needn't have bothered. Dom looped one long arm around his shoulders, hand resting on his opposite arm, fingers just barely pressing down into his skin.

Ah, there it is, Ian thought, remembering his thoughts from earlier. He imagined the way Dom's fingers must be sinking in to the soft skin over his bicep, but it wasn't lascivious. Is it?

"You don't come out with us much." It was a statement, nothing more.

"I'm quite often tired."

"We don't stay out all that late." Dom cocked his head to one side. "Well. Except for when we do, I suppose."

"Naturally."

Dom looked at Ian's nose, eyes lingering on the red spots on either side. "Glue still bothering you?"

"Very much so," he said, sighing.

"All the more reason for you to come out with us. Take your mind off things." Dom gave in to the lean created by his arm around Ian's shoulders and his feet up on the bench, and rested his head just below Ian's shoulder, curling in closer. Ian watched him go still, like a child falling asleep, no intent expressed or implied. He lifted the arm that was between them and wrapped it around Dom's shoulders, hand resting on Dom's upper arm, the skin there surprisingly cool, but unsurprisingly smooth. He pressed his fingers in the barest amount. Dom looked up at him, smiled, and closed his eyes again.

Ian kept his eyes open, looking straight ahead as he sipped his pint. Dom's warm weight against him was pleasant and unexpected, but not puzzling, not yet. He moved his hand up and down against Dom's arm, feeling the skin warm beneath his palm. Puzzling over it could wait until later.

slashababy was created by megolas, revised by yueni
fabulous artwork 2002 by Hope
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