Based on real people. The author is not making any money of it.
In the end, it was the night of the Oscars that made up Dominic's mind. After the pre-ceremony get-together, he and Billy and Orli rounded up some friends and rented a couple motorboats to go out on a lake. The scenery was beautiful and he was having a great time, but if he was honest with himself, he knew there was nothing holding him in Los Angeles. Not job offers, not memories, not a home he would miss. Not even Elijah.
Billy found him on the deck the next morning, scribbling notes on a pad of paper and muttering into the phone. He sat down opposite Dom and ate his breakfast, not paying any mind to the notes or conversation.
Dominic hung up with a frown some minutes later, then sat sipping his coffee and glaring at his handwriting.
"What's all that about?" Billy finally ventured.
Dominic glanced at him. "Thinking about going back to the U.K. Bloody airlines aren't being much help."
"Why?" Billy asked, then amended, "I mean, why are you thinking of going back?"
"D'you think you could live here? Happily, mind."
Billy looked out over the neighborhood and thought about what he'd seen of Los Angeles so far. Oversized houses, highly expensive fancy cars, haute couture, the entire Hollywood movie business just down the hill. He blinked. "No. Not in this lifetime." He looked over at Dom's unhappy face. "Hand me the phone?"
Dominic silently gave it over, and sat half-listening as Billy called an airline and asked to speak to a ticketing agent.
"Yes, I have a reservation, and I'm hoping I could add another seat. Sure, hold on," Billy pulled out his wallet from his back pocket, flipped through some pieces of paper before finding the right one. He promptly rattled off a string of numbers and letters. "Surname Boyd, first name William. Right. Aye, that's fine. Fine. That'd be for both flights now? LA to Boston, Boston to Glasgow?"
Dom's head jerked up and he stared wide-eyed at Billy. He tried mouthing 'I've nowhere to stay in Glasgow!' but either Billy didn't see him or was ignoring him. Dom finally scribbled his protest on a corner of a piece of paper and pushed it across the table. Billy only gave it a brief glance before returning his attention to the phone.
"I understand. Well, of course... Yes, it's Dominic Monaghan." He spelled out Dom's name, then wrote another set of letters and numbers on his scrap paper. "Yes, that'd be great, just in case. Right. No, that's all. Thank you."
Billy hung up and met Dominic's stare.
"What was that?"
"I got you a ticket on my flight."
"Well, when's that?"
"9 tomorrow morning. Sean was going to take me, it's no problem."
"Billy, thank you, that's quite good of you...but I've nowhere to stay in Glasgow." Dom protested. God, and he would have all his clothes and things to pack in one day.
"Of course you do." Billy looked a bit affronted, "You can stay with me as long as you'd like."
"Ah, Bill. I can't let you do that." Inwardly, Dom was fretting about what Lij would think if he suddenly took off tomorrow morning. Worse, he was fretting in German.
Billy gave him Pippin's innocent smile. "Of course you can, Merry! What are connexions for?"
That got a laugh out of Dom. "Alright. I'll find something to do for you, Pip."
Billy leaned over and plucked a tube out of the bag of sunscreen on the table. "Put lotion on my back?"
After finishing his own breakfast, Billy settled back into his deck chair, armed with a big fat book and his shades. Dom eyed the scot’s pale shoulders and winced. Guy was going to fry out here. He shrugged and went inside, thinking of what he was going to tell Elijah. He stopped at their bedroom door and checked his watch. It was just short of eleven, so if Lij wasn’t up already, he should be soon. He knocked softly.
"Hold on a second…" He heard Lij mutter. "Yeah?"
Must be on the phone with Franka or something. "I need to talk to you when you’re off."
"Sure, gimme ten minutes or so?" Dom could picture Elijah sitting cross-legged on the bed, phone tucked up under his ear and a cigarette in one hand. God only knew what was so appealing about having a smoke on top of morning-mouth. He hoped that Billy wasn’t one of those people who didn’t smoke in public, but did at home. The thought only lasted a millisecond before he mentally snorted.
"Sure. I’ll wait out here." He answered Lij’s question, and backed away when Lij started muttering into the phone again.
Dom had only just managed to unearth his duffel bags from the bottom of the hallway closet when Lij opened the door, still dressed in baggy pajama pants and a t-shirt.
"What’s up?" Elijah asked, stifling a yawn. He stood aside so Dom could come in.
"I’m, uh. I’m gonna go home now." Dom waited for a reaction. Other than a somewhat puzzled expression, Lij didn’t give him one. Instead, he sat on the bed and watched Dom sort through the dresser drawers for several minutes before saying anything.
"Where are you going, exactly?"
Dom glanced at Elijah, who was picking at his nails. He knew the bad habit came from unease, and started to worry. "Glasgow, with Billy. He said I can stay with him for a while, then… I don’t know. Manchester, I guess."
Elijah looked up at Dom, blue eyes assessing, but not hurt or angry. "Not to your parents?"
"No." He returned his attention to the stacks of clothing growing on the bed. Where the hell had he gotten half these things? "Even if I go to Manchester I’ll get my own place. I’m too used to it now."
"So you’re going tomorrow morning? I know Sean was going to take Billy to the airport then." Despite the tell-tale fiddling with his nails, Elijah didn’t sound angry or hurt or sad. He didn’t sound like anything, actually.
"Yeah. He got me a seat on his flight." Dom shoved what seemed like a ton of shirts into one bag. "Not sure how he did it. Probably the accent." He tried to joke a little, and was relieved to hear a chuckle from Elijah.
"So do you have a reason? Or is this, y’know, just an impulse?"
Dom looked around at the edge in his friend’s voice. Elijah stared back at him evenly, and Christ, those eyes were something else on a movie screen, but in person they were downright spooky. He sighed, pausing in his sock-counting. "Lij. LA’s been fun. Really, it’s been a riot. But it’s not me." The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
"I know. Sorry I couldn’t make it be, though." Lij gave him a small smile. "It doesn’t have anything to do with us, does it? That we didn’t last?" He sounded like he wanted to apologize, when it hadn’t been his fault. It hadn’t been anyone’s fault, really.
"No." Again, truth. "But thanks for asking." He grinned when Lij smacked his shoulder.
"All right. Go home then, and be happy, young hobbit." Elijah stood and stretched. "Gonna shower now. Where’s Billy, anyway?"
Dom nodded toward the window. "Soaking up as much sun as he can. Poor bastard’ll be red as a lobster soon. Take him a shirt, will you? He didn’t have one when I was out there." He scowled when Lij snagged one of the shirts not packed away. "Not one – oh hell." Lij just gave him a sunny grin and trotted out of the room. Dom heard him call to Billy, then muffled conversation.
He only barely managed to finish his packing in time to have a few hours’ sleep. Some of his things he’d have Lij ship to Scotland, like his computer and most of his heavier clothes and books. The remainder of his clothing, toiletries and personal items were crammed into the three large duffels and a carry-on. The flight to Boston was at nine, meaning he and Billy had to rise at an ungodly hour so that Sean wouldn’t be stuck in traffic getting them to the airport. He and Billy had said their goodbyes to Lij the previous night.
Dom hadn’t been to Scotland in ages, and had forgotten how nice it was there, not in the least like LA. Even from the air, descending over Glasgow, it reminded him a lot of New Zealand, and he found himself nostalgic for the islands. They’d only just found their baggage before whispers of ‘aren’t those two of the hobbits, Mum?’ and ‘yes, love, I think they are’ started up, and they fled towards the car park. Billy had only splurged on a new car – a sporty but practical little Volvo - when the cheques from Two Towers started coming in. His house had been the major purchase, and being in theater, he’d been wary of spending too much too soon. Dom returned Billy’s laughing grin when they dropped into the seats after having squashed all of their baggage in the boot.
"Ready to get out of here?" Billy threw the car into gear, winking at his fellow hobbit. Dom sighed and let his head fall against the headrest.
"Absolutely. Drive, Mr Boyd."
Billy cackled, heading towards the busy road out of the car park and airport.
Lij’s apartment had only the one bedroom, so even when they weren’t sleeping together in the ‘nasty’ sense, they were in the one-bed-for-two-people sense. That had been one of the reasons he’d decided to leave; it was just too stressful in the end. The floor or couch would have been options had either of them actually kept the place reasonably clean. The discomfort had ratcheted up a few more levels once Lij had met Franka.
Billy, on the other hand, had a nice little house with three bedrooms, so now he had a room to himself. A lot of the time it was like when they had their house in Wellington only without the other hobbits and elf. Also, it was so nice to live with someone who understood the British love for tea. Despite his fifteen plus months in New Zealand with a load of Brits, Lij had never quite appreciated a good strong cup. Rocket-fuel coffee was the only source of caffeine Elijah understood.
Billy was always doing something for one of the local theatres, and when he wasn’t involved with something his agent had gotten for him, Dom started auditioning for some of the plays as well. They were eventually cast alongside each other in Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. The casting director told them that she thought they’d had such wonderful chemistry in LOTR and wanted to see how that came across on stage.
Billy had a little quirk in that he hated shopping for food, but loved to cook. If you simply placed him in a kitchen and let him rip, he’d come up with something delicious within hours. But if Dom dragged him to the store, he’d sulk and grunt and roll his eyes. So they had a little routine perfected for their bi-weekly trips to the store. Dom had a sweet tooth and usually tried to fill their cart up with various treats. Halfway down the dairy aisle, Billy would notice the cartons of ice cream sneaking into the cart and haul both a bitching Dom and uncooperative cart back to the produce aisle and start all over again. They’d quibble over how many peppers to get, whether they wanted russet or baby potatoes, what sort of apples (or did they want to go to an orchard), regular or low-sodium crackers, what wattage light-bulbs they needed, and so on.
They’d usually drawn a number of stares and furrowed eyebrows by the time they made it to the checkout counter. The first time Dom had put on his camp act in front of the clerk, Billy had been mortified despite his swallowed laughter. But the politely stunned reaction (complete with loosened jaws) had only egged Dom on, and the next time they were there, he draped himself across Billy’s shoulders and asked him what were they going to put together for the house party Jim was planning, and purred about how delightful Billy looked in that soft blue sweater he had. Dom swore that if Billy’d been wearing those hobbit ear tips, they’d be blushing along with his real ears.
After that, Billy played along to Dom’s everlasting glee. He didn’t mind at all that now when he and Dom were spotted in town, the remarks were usually something like ‘there goes that actor Mr Boyd and his young fellow’.
Dom had been there for just over three months when, at home and pleasantly buzzed after an evening at the pub with Billy and some mutual friends, he leaned over and tried to kiss his housemate. Billy, who’d sobered up earlier, shoved him away and jumped up, heading for his bedroom. Dom watched him from the couch, looking vaguely disappointed.
"Why not?" was all he could get out.
Billy turned on the stairs, his expression a mixture of anger and hurt. "Because you’re drunk, and I’m not Orli or Lij. Good night, Dominic."
They didn't see each other at all the next morning. Billy wasn't home when Dom woke from trying to sleep off his hangover. He hadn't left a note, but through the fuzziness in his head Dom seemed to remember him saying something about today being a fitting day for costumes in one of his plays.
He brewed some tea and slumped on the couch, deciding that this morning would be devoted to figuring out two things: why he'd made a pass at Billy and why Billy'd gotten so angry about it. He wasn't sure at all about the first. He'd never consciously thought about Billy in the attractive/unattractive sense. He supposed he felt towards him the same way Merry felt towards Pippin: protective, trusting, that he was his dearest friend, who he loved and whose company he cherished. Out of all the Hobbits, Billy gave the best hugs, the tightest squeezes. Oh, and he always got that terrific little-kid grin whenever Dom kissed his cheek. If Dom hadn’t been so taken by the country and the people and everything around him, he might’ve fallen for the devilish Scotsman straight away. The hand holding his mug paused half an inch from his mouth, and Dom exhaled slowly. That was definitely a new thought, and certainly something to examine later. For now it was on to Billy’s reaction.
Early on, Billy had spoken of relationships with both genders, same as Dom. He didn’t remember Billy picking up many men or women while they were in New Zealand, though, no matter how attractive they happened to be. He didn’t recall Billy having to leave someone behind when he left Scotland to film the movies, either.
Dom squinted into his cup, eyeing the bits of leaf at the bottom. The comment about Lij and Orli had stung. Aside from a few giddy and/or drunken gropes at some event or another, nothing had ever happened between himself and Orli. The months he’d spent with Lij had been fun in more ways than one, but nothing serious. Neither case made him feel like a slut, if that was what Billy had meant. If it was, he wasn’t sure why Billy would want him to feel that way.
Dom had started fixing himself a supper by the time Billy came home. He looked a little preoccupied but not truly tired. Perhaps a little scruffier than he’d been the previous night, but that looked good on him.
"Did you have dinner yet? There’s enough here for the both of us?"
"Sorry, what?" Billy glanced up from the newspaper he’d been perusing, scratching idly at the short hair on his cheek.
"The chops I’m making. Did you want some?"
"Sure, thanks." Billy stood and went to the fridge. "I’ll make some sort of salad then, to go with them. That alright with you?"
Dom nodded at him, then turned back to the chops to hide his smile. He didn’t think Billy realized how adorable he was with a goatee. The last time he’d seen him have one was at the Oscars back in March. Most of them had gotten scruffy several times during filming, whenever they could get away with it. Presumably, hobbits didn’t grow facial hair or something, because the makeup and costume people had had fits whenever one of them hadn’t shaved.
Neither of them said much over the meal. Dom tried to tell himself it was due to their ease with each other, but he knew that wasn’t the cause. He felt awkward and hesitant trying to think of ways to apologise, which had never happened with Orli or Lij. If they’d refused advances, it was always with a playful shove or grapple. They’d never taken it as seriously as Billy had, and so Dom was at a disadvantage. He tried to help Billy clear off the kitchen counter and load the dishwasher, but found himself spending more time twisting the dishrag in his hands than wiping down surfaces.
"Em, Billy… I wanted to say- I mean…"
"It’s fine, Dom." Billy didn’t look up from arranging plates in the washer, and his tone was flat.
"No, really. I didn’t know, I didn’t realize you, ah…"
Billy straightened, and he had the same tired-angry expression on his face as he’d had the previous night. "Dom, we spent nearly twenty months together, 14 hours a day, six days a week plus off time. You have to know that I don’t do kiss and runs. Not with people so dear to me."
The thing was, Dom did know that about Billy. He’d figured it out within weeks of meeting him and a few trips to the pubs. "I, uh. Yeah. Sorry, mate." He put down the twisted rag and shoved his hands in his pockets. Shrugged nervously.
"I only know what you and Lij and Orli did some of the time, enough to know that I didn’t really want much part in it. I did that seven, eight years ago."
Billy’s voice was getting tighter with each sentence. Dom winced. He’d never seen Billy entirely lose his temper, and prayed he wasn’t about to get an introduction. He knew from bad weather, seemingly endless hours shooting and various other filming mishaps that the Scotsman was awfully creative and scathing when he was feeling pissy.
"Dom." He looked up at the sharp tone. Billy was a few steps closer than he’d been, and his arms were folded tight across his chest. There was a little less anger in his expression now, but it had been replaced with more fatigue.
"Why did you do it, anyway?" There was a certain quality to the question that made Dom think carefully about his answer. Something about the tiredness in Billy’s face and voice now, and the hurt that had been there along with anger last night. There were clues here he wasn’t seeing, so he’d better tread carefully.
Well then. Best policy was honesty, right? "It was something I’ve been wanting to do."
Billy’s green eyes widened a little. There might have been a bit of blush on his cheeks when he asked "For how long?"
"Not sure. A while. Since that day at the lake at least." He rubbed his forehead and realized exactly how true that statement was. "Only I was stupid, going about it that way."
Billy only snorted, and Dom flinched. "Look, as you pointed out, Orli and Lij were different! Don’t think I quite knew what I was doing, all right? I just knew I wanted to kiss you."
"Well if you're that set on it, you should’ve at least gone about it with a bit of class," Billy spat. Dom crossed his arms and cocked an eyebrow.
"And how would that be?"
When Billy grabbed his shoulder, Dom worried he was about to be slammed into the wall or counter or something equally painful. Nope. Instead, Billy leaned in and kissed him gently, not much more than a small pressing and brush of their lips. When he drew away, Dom stumbled forward, trying to follow.
"See? That's a proper first kiss." Billy smiled at Dom's wide eyes and stricken expression. "Did you want another try?"
Dom didn't bother to answer, just looped an arm around Billy's neck, nuzzling his face until Billy hummed and tilted his head to meet his mouth.
Strange how both Billy and Elijah could have the same build and feel so different when Dom held them. They were the same height, same weight, angles and curves in the same places. Something had to explain then why Lij’s elbows poked into his chest and Billy’s didn’t, or why Billy’s nape was right there at the same level as his own, and he’d had to reach down to fit his palm in that spot with Lij. Dom had known how he felt about Elijah when they’d started sleeping together. They were friends, good friends who thought that sex and friendship between best mates could be one and the same. He’d thought he could live with and fuck his best mate in a foreign city, do so for months actually, and he’d been wrong. Lij had felt the same, and they were both sorry, and so they could still be mates.
They’d had a great time experimenting – lord, had they ever - but none of it had ever felt like home. Billy’s strong fingers sifting through the hair just behind his ear did. So did his taste, and scent. He only vaguely realized that part of this was left over from filming; there was only so much time you could spend lying in muck together waiting for another take before the scent and feel of the person sharing your space became comforting. The two of them usually huddled together in their robes in the cold weather, waiting for a light or camera to be moved, or their feet or makeup tended to. Dom was starting to really relax and melt into that warm, homey feeling when Billy pulled away again. Dom made a tiny noise and opened his eyes to see hazy emerald only an inch or two away. He moved to catch Billy’s mouth with his again, but the hand in his hair stopped him. Billy smiled, the lines around his mouth crinkling.
"I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we might want to have a bit of a chat now." His thumb brushed the silky skin right behind Dom’s ear, and the younger man’s eyes slid nearly shut.
"We should, yeah." His head tilted a little, shoulders slumping, when Billy’s fingers found the spot that made him purr. How was it that in the space of less than ten minutes, Billy found out something about Dom that Lij had never known in three months? Perhaps Billy was more in tune with him.
Dom wasn’t so far gone that he couldn’t back away to lead Billy to the living room and sit beside him on the couch. Not on top of him, as much as he would like to.
Billy moved around so he faced Dom, his lovely elfin face still a little flushed. "I have to ask you again, Dom. Why are you doing this?"
Dom wondered if it hurt Billy to have to be so mature about this. What if his reason wasn’t good enough? "I want to, and I like it."
"That’s all?" Billy was indeed a good actor, probably one of the best Dom had worked with in his entire career, but that didn’t mean he could hide his emotions from one of his closest friends.
"Uh. No." Dom coughed against the catch in his throat. God, did Billy have any idea that his heart was plastered all over his face? "Of course not."
Billy’s jaw tightened and Dom felt his stomach lurch. Billy had to see how unsure he was in this, and he prayed it wouldn’t hurt him or make him back off. His inability to put a name to his feelings didn’t mean they didn’t exist… Billy had tilted his head to the side a little like he wanted to touch Dom’s hand or shoulder or face, but wasn’t entirely sure what Dom’s boundaries were. His eyes were inquisitive, asking Dom if he could make the move for both of them.
He scooted sideways a little so that their legs were pressed and tangled together, then took Billy’s hand, tugging so that he leaned toward him. The laugh lines around the older man’s mouth deepened when Dom moved in to kiss his mouth lightly.
"I don’t know what I feel." He took that dear face in his hands, meeting Billy’s serious gaze. Green eyes widened and that sweet mouth opened to say something, but Dom shook his head slightly and Billy stilled, biting his lower lip. "You know I adore you, and this," he paused, breath catching as he ran a thumb over Billy’s mouth, "is something I want to have with you."
Billy stared at him for a split second, then murmured "Perfect," and kissed him thoroughly. His arms went round Dom, holding him securely as he shifted to lie back against the armrest. Dom wondered if maybe they were going too fast, opening his mouth to accept a warm slippery tongue and pressing closer into the kiss. Then his weight settled in the cradle of Billy's hips, the heat of bodies burning all up and down their lengths through layers of clothing, and he decided he could deal with a little more speed. Billy made a small delighted noise in his throat and slid his hands down Dom’s back, clutching a little at his shirt. One hand slipped down to the waistband of Dom’s jeans, and when Dom shifted his hips against Billy’s, Billy made another sound, this one needier and more like a cry, and his fingers found themselves between smooth cotton and smoother skin.
Dom moaned and broke the kiss to press his face into Billy’s neck. The tension in the younger man’s body told Billy that the longer his hand stayed where it was, the shorter this would last. When he moved it back up to Dom’s back, he felt a hot damp rush of air against his throat.
"Thank you." Dom muttered and nibbled at the skin under his mouth.
"You’re quite welcome. Should we move, d’you think?" Billy was really rather comfortable, but if staying as they were meant things getting out of hand far too early, he was all for moving. Dom pushed himself up so his face was a few inches above Billy’s. His hair stuck up in all different directions and his chin and cheeks were reddened with beard-burn, but Billy didn’t think he’d ever looked sexier.
Dom dropped a kiss on Billy’s forehead and smiled ruefully. "I don’t think that’ll do the trick, honestly."
"What, are you too wound up now? You couldn’t be good?" Billy turned on the innocent, pleading eyes that worked so well for Pippin.
"Uh…" Dom bit his lip, then burst out laughing when Billy promptly kissed him to make him stop. "I suppose I could give it another go. Here, sit up then." He scooted back, tugging Billy up with him. "Mind you keep your hands to yourself this time, or I’ll not be responsible for this going far further than it ought so early on." He scolded Billy gently, who smiled cheekily and gave him a smacking kiss.
They kissed for a while like that before getting slightly out of hand again, and Billy decided to call a halt to the evening’s activities. He kissed Dominic one last time before getting up and stretching, and the softness in his eyes told his partner that they would most certainly be continuing this in the morning. Dom stood with him, taking his hand and following him upstairs to the bedrooms. Billy stopped at his doorway, and turned to slide one arm around Dom’s waist. Dom met his mouth for a few meltingly tender kisses before he drew away, his lips quirked. "Goodnight, Billy."
"’Night, Dom. Sweet dreams." Billy leaned against the doorframe, feeling a little like a lovesick schoolgirl. He laughed when Dominic replied, "Oh, they’ll be that, alright."
They both retired to their own beds, each longing for the other’s company and drifting to sleep hoping that that would follow in the weeks – days, maybe - to come.
Most mornings, they met up in the kitchen over breakfast. Billy was usually an early riser, so he got the paper and started a pot of coffee before Dom came down and they’d fix breakfast together. This morning, however, Billy stumbled toward the bathroom for a morning pee and bumped right into Dom in the doorway.
Billy blinked. Dom, right there in front of him, in a stretched-out tank and boxers. Still sleepy-voiced with bed-hair and who’d kissed the hell out of him last night. Was he dreaming? Had he slept all through the previous day? He rubbed at his eyes. Nope. Dom still stood there, now with his lips quirked in amusement.
"Ah." Billy started to croak, then cleared his throat and tried again. "Morning, Dom. Sleep well?" Was it his imagination, or was he drifting closer to Dominic?
"Perfectly, thanks." Dom’s arm had slid around his waist, and warm dry lips tickled his cheek. "How about you? Nice dreams?"
The breath that gusted over his face smelled freshly of baking-soda toothpaste. "Quite." Billy leaned in and hesitantly kissed Dom, who welcomed him with a slickly sweeping tongue and eager hands in his hair. As far as Billy was concerned, the only thing stopping him from casting aside breakfast and coffee for a good morning cuddlefest was the pressing urge to pee. That was, after all, what had gotten him out of bed and into the hallway to begin with.
He nibbled Dom’s lower lip, soothed it with his tongue, then broke away. "Dom, hold on a moment."
"Was I pushing you just now?" Dom looked uncomfortable and guilty.
"No, not at all. I just need a pee!" Billy returned Dom’s sudden understanding grin and dashed into the bathroom, not bothering to shut the door. Relief came quickly, then he brushed his teeth, noticing Dom watching him in the mirror.
When he came out, Dom didn’t even hesitate before he grabbed his hand and dragged him back to his bedroom. Billy made a few halfhearted protest-like sounds, but he’d seen the playful glint in Dom’s eyes and was definitely in the mood to indulge. He landed on the unmade bed with an ‘oof’ and giggle, which launched into flat-out howls of laughter when Dom landed on him and started blowing raspberries on his bare stomach…then kisses...
It was well past time for breakfast and going on lunch by the time Billy prodded Dom into finding a towel or shirt or something to clean themselves up. Dom leaned over the side of the bed, snagged Billy’s sleep-pants, and used those. Billy didn’t even notice, really, just curled against Dom’s side when he was done, content to drift off. He woke some time later to find Dom running a finger along the side of his face.
"What’re ye doing?" He muttered.
Dom smiled. "Tracing the lines around your eyes."
"I’m only thirty-two, I’ve got no lines yet." Actually, he did, and the makeup people had ragged on him about that, as Pippin was the youngest hobbit.
"No." Dom agreed cheerfully, and moved the finger down toward Billy’s mouth. "But you do have smile lines."
Billy scowled, but didn’t bat Dom’s hand away. "I know. Fucking obvious, those."
"Dead sexy, too." Dom added, shifting to trace the lines with tiny kisses.
Billy had called Orli to plan their having him as a guest, and now he was puttering somewhere in the house while Dom had a chat. They were mulling over the end of Orli’s attempted relationship with a British model; it had lasted less than a year and had ended only after a good deal of fighting. Orli couldn’t yet explain what started the break, but he mourned and felt relief at the same time. He expressed his regrets, and Dom made some comforting noises. Orli laughed, his usual good nature taking the place of glumness, and asked, "How are you and Billy? It’s been a while, hasn’t it?"
Dom smiled, hearing the distant clinks and rattles of Billy making tea in the kitchen. Home. "About a month I think." At Orli’s guffaw, he added, "Hey, we’re guys! We don’t keep track of these things!" When their laughter died down, Orli repeated his question. "So? You’re doing well, then?"
Dom sighed, releasing the energy the laughter had produced, and sat down in the doorway of the study. "It’s…well. Great." His head thudded against the side of the frame. "Wonderful. Fabulous." His throat tightened and he fell silent.
"Dom? Are you alright?" Orli’s voice through the phone was startled and sharp.
"Fine. I’m good, Orli, I’m…" Dom drew a breath, pinching the bridge of his nose to stave off the burning of tears. So strange and yet so obvious that Orli’s genuine concern would bring this on so suddenly, when it had been tugging at his mind for weeks without his acknowledgment. He drew up his legs and laid his forehead on his knees, curled up like a child. Orli would be close to pacing at his end of the line by now, after these long moments of quiet.
"God. I’m in love." Dom couldn’t explain why a tear slipped down the short space between his cheek and the worn denim of his jeans. A crackly ‘whoosh’ of indrawn breath was Orli’s only reply and Dom was left to stumble over his admission on his own. "I’ve fallen…I can’t explain it. So completely - But I don’t think it was just now, Orli, I must’ve – in New Zealand, or something. Maybe London or New York or LA."
"Does he know?" Dom couldn’t remember ever hearing Orli so hushed, almost reverent.
"I haven’t said anything. I didn’t know until now." Dom sniffed, wiping one damp cheek on his sleeve. Disgusting, but he felt too weak with this impromptu soul-baring to get up and hunt down a box of tissues.
"Oh. You should tell him, Dom." Orli’s serious side had arisen, which made his friend smile.
"Yes. I know." He glanced up at the sound of shoes on carpet.
Billy was standing no more than three feet away, holding a mug of steaming tea. The look on his face at that moment was eerily similar to the one he got when they’d had astoundingly good sex and were in the process of snuggling up to sleep. His vibrant eyes were soft and round with little crinkles at the corners, and there was a tiny smile tugging at his mouth as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune.
"He heard you, didn’t he."
"Yeah." Must have been the mercy of some unknown god that kept Dom’s voice from breaking over that single word.
"I’ll ring you two later this week then. Good luck, Dom."
"Okay. Thanks." Dom barely heard Orli’s words or his own. His gaze didn’t leave Billy’s as he turned the phone off and set it on the floor. Billy watched him, and smiled a little more, holding out his hand. Dom blinked, as if the past five minutes had left him totally daft, then took it to haul himself up. Billy used the leverage to bring Dom as close to him as possible, sloshing a bit of tea over his fingers in the process. He broke their gaze to lean their foreheads together, running his hand up Dom’s arm to his elbow and across to the small of his back.
"Billy. What I said- " It had taken Dom this long to find his voice again, and it was staggering about again like a newborn colt.
"You meant it." There was nothing to indicate whether that was a question or statement of fact, so all there was left to do was whisper:
"I did. I do," and kiss Billy before he could question anything.