Boys, Sean thought, shaking his head bemusedly. Never mind that one of those boys was older than he was. Life is short -- immaturity is forever.
Case in point: Billy and Dom, just across the table, engaged in some kind of marathon teasing contest. The objective was to make the other person blush. Success meant the loser had to take another gulp of their drink. They had been at it for almost an hour already.
Needless to say, they were both pretty smashed. And giggly.
It was fun to watch, but a little lonely. Sean couldn't participate in any drinking games. Well, technically he could -- and I could probably drink them both under the table -- but Christine might be a little pissed about it.
Except that Christine and Ally had gone off to visit Christine's parents, so she'd never know. Which was partly why Sean was feeling lonely.
"What's wrong?" Elijah asked, sliding in next to him in the booth and plunking his latest drink down on the table. His face was flushed from a little too much alcohol, but he was still relatively sober -- so far. "You've got a weird look on your face."
"Huh? Oh, nothing," Sean said. "Just thinking." He jerked his head to indicate Billy and Dom. "How long do you suppose they'll last?"
Elijah shrugged. "They know when to stop." His eyes sparkled. "Usually. Hey, Dom, how many fingers am I holding up?"
Dom glared across the table, momentarily distracted from the drinking game. He gave Elijah the finger. "How many am I holding up?"
Elijah grinned, as Dom turned back to a sniggering Billy. "See?" he told Sean. "He's still fine. I'll know he's had too much when he actually tries to guess." He took a long swallow of his drink.
Sean forced himself to look away, to not notice Elijah's pale neck, or shining eyes, or the way his tongue darted out across his lips after he set the glass back down. Another side effect of Christine being away, he told himself. Fuck.
"Hey, Sean, are you still working on your first beer?" Orli had suddenly appeared. You couldn't miss him -- his shirt was obscenely loud and characteristically outrageous. He squeezed in next to Elijah, resting an elbow on the table. He grinned. "Mate, you need to get out with us more often."
"Yeah, seriously," Elijah chimed in. He drained the rest of his drink, then looked out at the dance floor. "Hey, Orli, move over, I wanna go dance."
Orli batted his eyes mockingly. "With me?" he asked, in a high-pitched girly voice.
Elijah just stared at him. "I'm not THAT drunk yet, thanks."
"Oh, sod off."
"No, you sod off," Elijah shot back, grinning and shoving Orli out of the booth. He darted off towards the dance floor.
Orli started to follow, then turned back. "Hey, Sean, care to join us?"
"Uh, no thanks," Sean replied. Orli shrugged and headed off.
Did he want to? Oh, yes. That was the problem. He'd been a good dancer once, popular with the girls... and boys. He could just picture himself, pressed up against Elijah or Orli...
Straight now, Sean thought firmly, meaning himself.
Married, he added. With kid.
Not tempted, he concluded, with an extra at all for good measure.
He glanced over at Elijah and Orli. They were grinding together, making a joke of it, laughing and teasing. Elijah's eyes glowed and Orli's grin lit up his face. Elijah's shirt was half-open. Orli's WAS open. They practically flowed together, lean bodies pressed close to each other, moving as one, taller Orli a sharp contrast to paler Elijah.
Sean sighed, looking away. It was going to be a long night.
It wasn't the thing with Orli that bothered him. Hell, half of the avowed skirt-chasers on set were affected by Orli, and Sean had no interest in the kid beyond a sort of distant admiration. Orli was nice to look at, simple as that. No big deal.
But Elijah, though -- Elijah bothered him. And not in a happy-to-just-look kind of way.
Best not to think about it. He decided to focus on Dom and Billy instead.
They were at the stage of drunkenness where absolutely everything is funny. Billy was slurring his way through some reminiscence involving Ian McKellen and the fireworks scene, and Dom was nodding enthusiastically and collapsing into fits of snorts and giggles every few moments. Sean eyed them worriedly, wondering if he should tactfully remove their pitchers of beer. Orli was right; he didn't go out with them nearly often enough. He had no clue how much alcohol any of his friends could hold. Being the designated driver -- not that he'd planned on it, but at this rate, it didn't look like he had much choice -- sucked. There were reasons he didn't always like go to clubs with his costars.
Dom looked like he might topple over completely. Sean snapped in his direction, trying to catch his attention. "Dom, how many fingers am I holding up?" he tried.
Dom gave him the evil eye. "It's not even cute when Lij does it," he complained. He looked around, a dazed expression on his face. "Hey, where IS Lij, anyway?"
"On the dance floor with Orli," Sean told him.
Dom perked up. "He is? Oh, he is!" He nudged Billy. "Hey, let's go join 'em."
"Love to," Billy said thickly. "But, can't stand up."
Luckily for them both, Dom was on the outside edge of their booth. Sean watched him stumble to his feet and weave his way onto the dance floor. Well, at least he remained upright. Maybe he wasn't too drunk, after all. Yet.
Billy was a lost cause. He was already taking an impromptu nap.
Sean watched as Dom joined Orli and Elijah, practically shoving between them. Orli laughed, backing off a bit. Elijah just grinned and allowed it.
Maybe I should join them, Sean thought. He glanced over at Billy, wondering who'd be stuck with the responsibility of driving the Scot home. Not Dom, that was for sure, and Elijah would be out of the running if he had a couple more drinks. Orli, maybe? Hard to tell. Most likely Sean would be driving everyone home. Yes, being designated driver sucked. Equally sucky was sipping beer with only a semiconscious, uncommunicative Billy for company while the rest of the party danced their hearts out. Yeah, I should definitely join them.
He looked back out at the dance floor. Elijah was laughing at something, blue eyes flashing merrily. He continued dancing fluidly, slim frame twisting and flowing with the music. His normally pale cheeks were flushed and his short brown hair was a mess. He was one of the most beautiful things Sean had ever seen.
Or maybe joining them would be a really bad idea. Sean sighed. He hated the way Elijah got to him. Working with the kid all day, every day was an exquisite form of torture. Cloaking feelings in professionalism, restricting his off-screen role to that of a particularly friendly big brother, always wanting to touch him and hold him and... Stop that. Don't go there, Astin.
But since he wouldn't go there, it came to him. The song in the club changed, and the booth suddenly got much louder as Elijah and Dom spilled back in. They were both laughing, and Elijah practically fell against Sean as he slid in, collapsing into disturbingly high-pitched giggles on Sean's shoulder.
That felt way too good. Sean gave him a gentle shove. It was dangerous, Elijah curling up against him and vibrating like that. It would be too easy to just hold him. And if he clung to Elijah right now, he might never let go.
Elijah felt the push and pulled away slightly. His eyes flashed once with hurt, then returned to bright laughter.
On the other side of the table, Billy had apparently shoved Dom much harder. "What was that for, mate?" Dom demanded, rubbing his arm affrontedly.
"You woke me up," Billy drawled. "Eejit."
Billy retaliated by stealing a long gulp out of Dom's beer.
"Oi! Stop that!" Dom snatched it back, giving Billy a stern look. "You've had too much to drink" -- an interesting pronouncement, given Dom's own state of sobriety (or lack thereof).
As they continued bickering, Elijah turned back to Sean. "You're really not enjoying it here, are you?" he asked quietly.
"'Course I am!" Sean said, plastering on his best smile. "I should get out with you guys more often. We are the hobbits, after all. Where's Orli?"
"Getting another drink, and nice try." Elijah frowned at him. "Come on, Sean, we're your best fucking friends, why don't you like to spend time with us?"
Because I want to kiss away that frown, Sean didn't say. It would've sounded stupid, anyway.
"It's just -- oh, I don't know." Sean ran a hand through his hair. "It's not that I feel old, because I don't, and anyway Billy's older. But I do feel very married sometimes, you know? No, of course you don't, you're still a kid."
Elijah's eyes snapped blue fire. "I'm nineteen. I'm not a kid."
"That's not what I meant," Sean said hastily. "I mean... I love my wife, and my daughter, and I love to be with them. But sometimes I just want to be one of the guys again. So I go out with you, and all I can think about is how I'm NOT one of the guys anymore. I've got to be so fucking responsible sometimes, I just want to..." He shrugged helplessly. "To something."
"I think I can understand that," Elijah said softly. Maybe he even did. There was something in the set of his jaw, the curve of his lips, the quirk of his eyebrows, the intensity of his eyes. Hints of maturity beyond his age, of the man he would soon become. And he was right, he wasn't a kid. Sean knew that. That was the whole problem, wasn't it?
And some invisible thread between them shifted, became a line of heat flashing through the point where their shoulders just barely touched. Oh, fuck.
"Sean," Elijah said, and Sean panicked. Because he knew the wrong Sean had been cast as Boromir. He understood the lure of the Ring; lusting after the one thing he couldn't have, needing it even though he knew it was wrong. Holding back, trying to avoid it, until finally, one day, he wouldn't be able to resist reaching out and grabbing it for himself.
And there was the Ring, right in front of him, and he fucking needed it. Right now.
"Yeah?" Sean managed to say. Shit, how could these monosyllabic words convey all too much meaning?
"I was wondering," Elijah continued. "About our characters. In the movie."
Sean swallowed hard, and didn't know why. "And?"
"Frodo and Sam were in love, right?" Elijah wasn't quite meeting Sean's eyes.
Sean nodded. "Yeah, that's how we've been playing it."
"Do you think they ever..." Elijah's voice trailed off. "You know, have sex, or anything." He cleared his throat awkwardly. "I mean, we should decide. It would affect how we play them."
There was a long pause. "No," Sean said finally. "No, I don't think they did. The ring got in the way."
Elijah sighed. "Yeah, it did, didn't it?" He wasn't looking at Sean. He was looking at Sean's hand, which rested lightly on the table.
Sean glanced down, too. At his wedding ring. Don't tempt me, Frodo...
A clatter from across the table ended the moment, much to Sean's relief. They looked over. Dom was rather sheepishly trying to wipe up the beer he'd just knocked over.
A light came back into Elijah's eyes. "Hey, Dom," he called, with a wry grin, "how many fingers am I holding up?"
Dom peered at him. "Four," he guessed, correctly.
"Uh-oh," Elijah said. "Sean, I think I'd better drive him home."
"He got it right," Sean protested.
"Lucky guess. Trust me." He hesitated, then gave Sean a light peck on the cheek. His lips burned Sean's skin, but only for a moment. The heat passed and vanished. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
Sean nodded, his knuckles white as he clutched the table. I just turned him down, didn't I? Fuck, what was I thinking?
Elijah smiled, slipped out of the booth, extended a hand to Dom. Dom blinked at it dumbly, still holding a beer-sodden napkin. "Come on, then," Elijah said. "I'll get you home."
Comprehension dawned on Dom's face. He let Elijah pull him up, shoving the napkin at Billy. "Bye, mates," he slurred with a goofy grin, leaning on Elijah for support.
Elijah rolled his eyes. "Later, Orli, Billy. See you, Sean." His eyes bored into Sean's, briefly, and then he led Dom away, muttering something about stupid Brits who couldn't hold their beer.
Meanwhile, Billy was in a state of profound confusion. He had just found himself in possession of a dripping napkin that positively reeked of beer, and was in the midst of an existential crisis revolving around said napkin and where it might have come from. At least, that's what the expression on his face suggested. His actual thoughts were probably something like, 'Hey, beer!'
Sean was looking at Billy very closely to keep himself from watching Elijah's progress to the door. He didn't notice a certain elf sliding into the booth beside him, and practically jumped out of his skin when he heard Orli's voice right next to his ear. "They think they're so fucking subtle, don't they?"
"Who?" Sean asked, once his heart had started again.
Orli sprawled lazily across his end of the booth, jerking his head in the direction of the exit. "Them, who else?"
Sean's gaze flickered involuntarily towards Elijah, who was just pulling open the club door. He said something to Dom, who laughed and gave him a gentle shove, then walked confidently out. Elijah followed.
It took Sean a second to notice what was wrong with that picture. "I thought Dom was completely smashed!"
Orli shook his head, grinning mirthlessly. "Sblomie can hold more alcohol than me, Doodle, and Billy combined. We actually tested it once. And he didn't have all that much to drink tonight, anyway. Aside from his little game with Billy, that is, but it's obvious who won that contest."
"But why would he fake being drunk?"
"Because he's an actor, and he thinks it's funny. And because he knew Doodle would give him a ride home." He raised an eyebrow suggestively.
"Wouldn't Lij know that Dom was faking?"
"Of course," Orli said simply.
Sean closed his eyes. Oh.
Orli's voice was soft. "You brushed him off, didn't you? Half the cast wants to get into his pants, and you said no." He shook his head in amazement. "He told me, once, that Dommie was fun, but that you were the one he wanted. Lucky bastard. Dumb bastard, actually."
Sean looked at him. He didn't seem so pretty anymore. I said no. Elijah and Dom. How had he missed it? Oh, right, because he'd never looked for it.
I could've done it. I could've pulled it off. Christine isn't here. She'd never know. He polished off his beer in one long, painful swallow. But I would.
Across the table, Billy had finally abandoned his contemplation of the napkin. "Hey," he piped up, looking about blearily, "why'd it go all quiet?"
"Because Sblomie and Elijah left," Orli told him dryly.
"S'okay," Billy said generously, apparently rediscovering the incredibly clashing colors of Orli's outfit. "Your shirt's loud enough for 'em both." He giggled to himself.
Sean sighed, climbing over Orli to get out of the booth. "Come on, Billy," he said. "I'll give you a ride home."
"Tha's good," Billy nodded enthusiastically. "'Cause I hate driving in Kiwiland."
"I'm the one who had to learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road."
"Aye, but" -- he gestured expressively -- "Kiwis. And all."
"Right." Sean gave up on the conversation. "Orli, you coming?"
Orli shook his head. "No, you old blokes go home. Someone's got to chat up the bargirls." His grin was empty. Sean nodded and left with Billy.
Outside, Sean looked around for Elijah's car, but it was gone. So were Elijah and Dom. He wasn't surprised. Just a little disappointed. And sad. And angry, mainly at himself.
And -- relieved?
He had turned it down. He hadn't given in to the lure of the Ring. Maybe he wasn't Boromir -- at least, not today.
And that's how you had to handle Ringlust: one day at a time.