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Thranduil orders another cup of coffee. It is only lukewarm and doesn't warm the plastic of the cup. He wraps his hands around it anyway. It is his third coffee and he still has to concentrate not to spit it out right away. No amount of sugar and milk has helped. This coffee, he decides is beyond salvation. It seems to be something they have in common.

His head feels like someone had twisted his brain into a million different shapes and his stomach is still rebelling.

Nausea had woken him up. Without knowing where he was he had stumbled into the bathrooms and vomited out everything until his hands shook, cold sweat rolled down his brow and the only thing that came out of his cramping stomach were little dark plates of what he does not want to know. After that he had washed out his mouth with soap because there was nothing else he could use and eventhough it stung and bit into his already hurting tongue, it was better than to have this stench about him. He had splashed some water on his face and went back to his seat in the booth. He had felt dizzy, his fingers shaking and exhaustion throbbing in his pulse.

 

The second time he had woken up, he had he realised that he had no fucking idea where he was. Much less how to go back to L.A..

The old, fat lady with the bad hairdo behind the counter had told him he was around two day rides away from the city. Two day rides. Thranduil had closed his eyes, let it sink it.

But that was still before he noticed that he had neither his iphone, nor his purse. Only the change in the pockets of his thin cashmere coat. About ten bucks. Thranduil smiled. He had been close to laughing, had felt it bubbling up in his chest, hysteria accompanied by exhaustion. He had kept it together, if barely so. The lady hadwith a quirk of her too thin eyebrow and a jewinggum popwritten down an emergency number to at least freeze his accounts. So that's what he had done.

 

Now he sits, the thin coat wrapped around him, but it is damp and cold and the strong air-conditioning is not exactly helping. It must've rained last night and he must've been out there. He has no recollection of the events of the last night whatsoever. Not exactly a new thing, but he has never woken up that far from home.

The last thing he remembers is Friday night being in a club, being shit-faced drunk and snorting coke and ketamine. How he has gotten here, he does not know. He furrows his brow.

“What day is it?” he asks and his voice nearly cracks. He coughs.

“Sunday,” the fat lady says.

 

The afternoon sun gleams in through the rolled down shutters of the diner. The cup between his hands is nearly empty and Thranduil has about enough money to either buy another or call Legolas. His mouth twists. Surely his son is used to him calling or rather not calling at all … Thranduil has no idea how to get back to L.A. without any money … Slowly he massages his temples with his fingertips, tries to think of a different way than asking his son.

Just as he is about to get up and walk over to the payphone, two guys stride in. The waft of air that follows them through the door is surprisingly warm. One of them is tall, bulky, bald on the top of his head but with grey-black wiry hair and beard. He has small eyes and a big nose and there is violence in his stride. Thranduil swallows. The other guy is short but bulky as well, with thick black hair, his temples greying and a neatly cut beard. He holds his chin levelled high and there lays something dark in his piercing midnight-blue eyes. He sits down with the back to Thranduil in the booth next to his.

“If it weren't for Fili and Kili, I would not set foot into this city again,” the shorter one says. He has a British accent and his voice is deep and raspyit lets a shiver run down Thranduil's back.

The fat lady hurries towards them with a note pad clipped in her fingers with the thick, fake orange-red nails.

“Coffee?”

“Yeah,” both say. As she scurries away again, the taller one leans in closer.

“L.A. is not that bad,” his voice is deep, too, but warmer; his accent Scottish. The shorter one doesn't reply anything, but he seems to have pulled a face because the tall one starts laughing. It is a friendly, open laugh. Thranduil bites his lips, then smacks them and gets up. It takes all his composition to stride over to their booth nonchalantly and put on a smile.

“I heard you are going to L.A.?” he asks.

Thranduil feels very self-conscious as he looks down on these two guys, both wearing all black and leather. And here Thranduil stands before them in his skinny jeans, his posh pointy shoes and his see-through shirt only hidden by the beige cashmere coat. If it weren't for the laughter he wouldn't have dared to walk over.

Maybe it was a mistake. A quick glance to the fat lady—well surely she doesn't give a fuck whether these two guys just grab him, pull him outside and give him the beating of his life. Suddenly he is rather afraid for his nose and his teeth.

The shorter guy snorts snidely. Eventhough he is sitting he manages to look down on Thranduil. It lets Thranduil straighten his back. He quirks an eyebrow.

“You want a ride?” The way the shorter one pronounces 'you' implies all the class hatred every lower class Brit seems to have imprinted in their very being. Thranduil twist his lips into a smirk, he feels anger boiling up inside of him.

“Yes I'd appreciate that,” he says, inclines his head and tries not to clench his hands into fists. Thranduil has never once in his life had to ask for a ride and he never again shall.

“Well, how much would you appreciate it?” the taller one asks with a look from underneath his heavy brows. Thranduil swallows.

“What do you mean?” Of course he knows what they mean. But all the money he's got counts up to maybe two dollars. Two dollars. Thranduil has not had anything less than two-hundred dollar in his purse since he graduated university a decade ago.

“How about … a favour for a favour,” says the one with the piercing blue eyes.

“What kind of favour?” Thranduil asks through gritted teeth.

“We'll see about that.” Thranduil bites his tongue as not to lash out. Such condescension drops from his words. He wants to turn on his heel and never lay eyes on these grimy, dirty people ever again. Instead he says: “Alright.”

 

 

Outside it is hot. The change of climate makes Thranduil's head hurt even more and the sun is still bright now that they are out in the open and no longer in the shady twilight of the diner.

The car is an old SUV with dust on the windows and dry, crumbling dirt splattered over most of the lower half.

Thranduil swallows while following them and then quietly presses out the words: “I have no money.” It takes all his strength not to let his voice shake.

Thorin looks at him then, seizes him up. “You could leave us your shoes,” he says in a dark rumble.

Thranduil stares at him. Dwalin, how the tall one had just introduced himself, pats Thranduil's shoulder like that of a child that is a little slow. Thranduil breaths in deeply. Dwalin chuckles darkly.

 

Dwalin takes the driver's seat, Thorin the passenger seat and Thranduil climbs into the car to sit down in the back. Inside it is even hotter, and the afternoon sun blazes down on the roof with violence. Thranduil groans and slips out of his damp coat. The fabric of his shirt is some kind of synthetic and he can already feel the heat rising. He swallows and puts on the seatbelt.

There's a whiskey bottle on the floor next to his feet and the thought of alcohol lets nausea rise in his stomach again. The smell of an overflowing ashtray stings his nostrils. When his eyes have adjusted to the light he looks around. There are empty cigarette packs and heaps of clothes, plastic bottles, empty soda and beer cans, plastic wraps of chocolate bars, aluminium foil and soaked-through cardboard plates with some leftover pie he really does not want to have a closer look at.

Thorin and Dwalin seem to live in this car. Marvellous.

 

Dwalin turns on the radio and music booms out of the speakersthat kind that Legolas listens to every now or then. Something with Sabbath, Thranduil can't quite remember, especially not when the music is all the louder in the back and it feels like some is drilling into his brain.

“Could you” Thranduil gestures with one hand while he pinches the bridge of his nose with the other.

“Not a fan?” Dwalin asks in an annoyed huff.

Thranduil shakes his head. “Hangover,” he groans.

Dwalin laughs, but does not turn down the music. He winds down the window to let some fresh air in. “We might be in L.A. by tomorrow evening,” he says against the screeching of electric guitars. Monday evening then. God, he needs to call in sick for work. Thranduil decides to do it the next day in the morning. That is if they lend him a phone.

 

Thranduil wakes up to twilight and silence. His neck hurts, his hair sticks to his face and his neck, he feels sweaty and dirty and his stomach seems to eat him up from the insides. His shirt is damp from sweat and clings to his body. Hell, he'd murder for a shower and cold soda. And a line of coke. His throat is as dry as if he had swallowed sand. He breaths in deeply. For a second he doesn't know where he is. Then he remembersand he wants to throw himself in front of the car more than he wants to stay inside. With sweaty hands he tries to brush the strands of hair out of his face.

Dwalin drives, a cigarette between his lips as he can see in the side mirror. When he glances into the rear mirror he nearly jerks away. Thorin watches him with hawk eyes. Then without a word he tosses him a tank top. Thranduil presses his lips together, then looks up into the rear mirror once more. Thorin does not avert his gaze. How shameless, he thinks. Thranduil purses his lips and slowly buttons down his shirt, lets it fall from his shoulders and reveal his bare chest, while never looking away from the reflection of Thorin's eyes. There is something dark gleaming in them that makes Thranduil shiver with anticipation that is not entirely unpleasant. Quickly he slides on the tank top, inclines his head and daringly raises his eyebrows. He can see Thorin's smirk in the way his eyes narrow. Then finally he averts his gaze.

 

It is around 2am when Dwalin turns into a side-way with some lonely street lamps and the car rolls to a stop.

“Gonna be one of the hottest nights of the year,” Dwalin says and stomps out his cigarette in the overflowing ashtray. “Lets rest a little.”

They exit the car. Thorin strolls over to the trunk and takes out some coversand a cold box. A moment later he throws a can towards Dwalin and one to Thranduil. It's beer. Of course. The cheapest brand. But it is also cold and hopefully sparkly, so Thranduil throws his pride away and cracks open the can. Beer has never tasted better in his whole life. He gulps half of it down in one go, then swipes his hand over his forehead and sinks down on one of the covers Thorin has put on the dusty side walk. There are tufts of grass and a few bushes here or there before a forest spreads dark and deep a few hundred metres away. The night air is still hot and Thranduil can hear the buzz of mosquitoes.

“These are the last,” says Dwalin gloomily and gestures to the beer cans. “But we have some more whiskey in the car.” When the thought of alcohol alone had made him nauseous only a couple of hours ago, now it doesn't seem to be such a bad idea.

Dwalin throws an arm around Thorin's shoulder and the way they stand next to each other is just a little too close. A little too comfortable. Thranduil furrows his brow.

“Now, tell us something about you,” Dwalin says with a half-amused, half-challenging smile. They both sit down, too. Thranduil takes another sip of his beer. Then he lets his gaze slide over the two of them, before he says: “I work as a lawyer in L.A..”

Thorin snorts. “Oh really,” he says. There is so much resentment in his voice it makes Thranduil claw his fingers into his thighs. The wish of just getting up and kicking Thorin's teeth in grows. Instead Thranduil flashes him a smile. “And what do you do?” he asks Thorin.

But Thorin doesn't answer, just shakes his head in such a disregarding manner that Thranduil has to bite the inside of his cheek as not to say something he'd regret.

In this moment, Dwalin simply grabs the nape of Thorin's neck and pulls him closer. He presses his mouth over Thorin's thin, stiff lips. With something akin to wonder Thranduil watches how Thorin starts smiling into the kiss and then returns it.

Well, to call it unexpected would be somewhat of an understatement. Then again, what does he care. And yet it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. So he swallows down the rest of the beer and throws the can away into the darkness. It lands somewhere outside of the dim circle of light from the street lamps. In his head he can hear Legolas bitch about environment pollution. It makes him smile.

When they have pulled away from each other Thranduil says maybe with a little more annoyance in his voice than necessary: “How about that whiskey?”

 

So they drink, in silence at first, but then every now and then either Thorin or Dwalin would lean in to each other's ears and murmur something Thranduil couldn't hear. It makes Thranduil want to vomit. Fortunately the whiskey is strong and his stomach, though a little raw is empty enough to shoot the alcohol right into his bloodstream.

The more they drink the more the gloominess leaves Thorin's features and is replaced by a dark smile on his lips, he's not sure whether it's sex he thinks about or murder. But he is clearly drunk.

His own silence seems to strangle him, so finally he says: “So you are from England and … Scotland originally?” It is the only thing that comes to his mind and it sounds stupid even in his own ears now that he has spoken it out aloud.

They both look at him as if he had caught them off guard. There is something vulnerable in the corner of Dwalin's mouth when his lips curve. Dread claws itself into Thranduil's spine, because being a witness to vulnerability is seldom amnestied.

“The road called me ten years ago. I never went back,” Dwalin rumbles.

Thorin says nothing.

“Why not?” Thranduil asks before he can think twice.

“There was nothing to go back to. And once you've tasted this … life, it is hard to give up,” Dwalin speaks quietly now.

“I see,” Thranduil says.

“You see nothing,” Thorin spits. There is cold rage in his night-blue eyes. So dark and touchable that Thranduil wants to claw his fingers into it and rip it right out of Thorin.

He takes another swig of the whiskey instead and swallows violently.

“Fuck you,” he says. He leans forward, grabs Thorin's collar. Thorin stares at him, a thin-lipped, viperish smile curling the corner of his lips. The next moment Thorin's hand is in his hair. He pulls hard. A groan escapes Thranduil's lips, then their mouths press together. Laughter rises in his chest, adrenaline rushes trough his veins, he is pushed down and his quiet laughter echoes in the night.

“Shut up,” Thorin snarls and the next moment he has his hand on Thranduil's throat. Their kiss tastes of whiskey and spite and something a little darker, too.

The heat claws itself onto their limbs and Thranduil curves his spine when Thorin pushes his body on top his. Their lips part, and Thorin moves up on his knees but keeps his hand firmly on Thranduil's throat. Thranduil's breath is laboured. Through the veil of his lashes he looks up at Thorin, he is clad by street-lamps light, warm and orange on the line of his muscular arms holding him down, on the bridge of his nose and his forehead. A smile spreads on his thin lips, so sharply cut that Thranduil shivers. God, he wants to be cut open by all of Thorin's sharp angles and edges.

Then his gaze slides to Dwalin who sits close. He does not smile but his gaze is fixed on Thorin as if he were the only thing he could see or cared to see. Then Dwalin leans in and he and Thorin kiss. Thranduil watches transfixed. This is not a thing bred by desire only, it is companionship. How Thranduil despises such foolery.

When they stop, Thorin's hand only lies loosely around his throat. Such lack of attention. Thranduil slaps it away. But before he can get up, Thorin seizes him by the hair, flips him around and pushes him down face first. A muffled cry falls from his lips, then there's Thorin's hard body against his backside. He swallows a greedy moan. Yes, yes, something inside him demands.

“That is what you want, hm? You filthy creature,” Thorin whispers against his ear, voice raspy and dark. It goes straight to Thranduil's cock and there is clearly the outline of a dick pressing against his ass. Thorin tears his head to the side. His scalp burns and he feels his cock hardening. The air is pushed out of his lungs as Thorin presses against him.

“I know your kind,” Thorin continues, arrogance delicately laced into his voice.

“There is no such thing as my kind,” Thranduil hisses between clenched teeth. Thorin laughs. Thranduil closes his eyes forcefully. God, he wants him.

Then he feels a hand sliding over his assnot Thorin's, one is in his hair the other on his shoulderand the hand moves further until it slides into Thorin's trousers, wraps around his cock that is still pressed against Thranduil's ass. So they are doing this together.

“Move,” he can hear Dwalin's deep voice.

And Thorin starts moving. Sliding against Thranduil's ass.

“I want to fuck him,” Thorin murmurs towards Dwalin while the grip on Thranduil's shoulder tightens. A shiver runs down his spine.

“I want him babbling and begging underneath me while I thrust my cock deep inside him.”

Thranduil claws his fingers into the covers.

“You are drunk,” Dwalin chuckles darkly. Then there are some wet sounds, tongues sliding against each other. When they stop, Thorin says: “Take his shirt off.” There's a bit of shuffling, then Dwalin's hand leaves Thorin's cock and he moves around. The shirt is pulled from Thranduil's back and for a moment, Thorin lets his hair go so Dwalin can get the shirt over his head. The next heartbeat his face hits the ground again.

“Give me the whiskey.” Thorin.

“Here.” Dwalin.

The cup is unscrewed. Thranduil twitches when the liquor trickles down on his skin. He can feel the drops roll over his shoulder blades into the curve of his spine. Suddenly there is Thorin's mouth, his beard raspy on his skin and his tongue licking up the whiskey. He goes lower and lower still. Thranduil gasps when Thorin pulls down his trousers and spreads his cheeks.

“What” he breathes, but then he feels Thorin's tongue. He slides inside. Thranduil can feel his eyes roll back in his skull. Thorin takes his time, teases, then pushes in and out, his fingers firmly spreading his cheeks while Thranduil presses his face into the cover. Small huffs and gasping breaths fall from his lips as he can feel Thorin twist his tongue inside him.

He has his eyes screwed shut, so he only notices Dwalin when he feels a hand in his hair, rough, pushing his face harder into the ground.

“You are lucky,” comes a hiss close to his ear, “that he likes to fuck a tall blond bitch every now and then.” There is spite in Dwalin's voice, but amusement, too. “So beg for him.”

Thranduil can't breath. His cock is trapped in his tight trousers, so he slides his hand down. Before he can even touch his arousal, Dwalin grips his wrists and holds up his hands over his head.

“I said beg,” he hisses, sharper this time, threat laced into his voice. Thranduil can feel his cock growing even harder. Then there is a finger. Breaching him slowly but not carefully, dipping inside, twisting. And suddenly a shiver runs over his entire body. Pleasure bristles behind his eyelids.

“Please,” he moans, shame burning on his tongue.

“Again,” Dwalin demands. But Thranduil will not repeat it. Instead he grits his teeth and pushes his hips up a little to meat Thorin's touches. The heat is nearly too much, the alcohol is pulsing in his temples, a heavy, musky thump, his muscles are taut, he bites his lips and feels the approach of bliss coil in his lower abdomen, tingling in his spine. Thorin rubs his fingers—when did he add another?—inside him and shiver after shiver runs over Thranduil's back. There's only movement now and touch. Then it is Thorin's fingers alone, he feels his body pressing hard against his back, no air, no air, just white-red visions of an approaching orgasm that blaze behind his eyelids.

Come for me, whore,” Thorin's raspy voice against his ear. His free hand closes tightly around his throat. Thranduil chokes and comes.

 

When he comes to his senses again, Dwalin is ripping his trousers off. For a moment cold shock floods his veins and fear presses the air out of his lungs as he can see the tall, broad man on top of him. Dwalin snorts.

Don't flatter yourself,” he spits and rolls Thranduil to his stomach with one hard push. Thranduil is breathless—and naked. He feels the moisture between his legs where he spent just a moment ago, but his come is already cooling and the sensation is as disgusting as always. There's a grip in his hair now, it's Thorin who is propped up on one elbow.

Come on, use your mouth,” he murmurs and pulls Thranduil in closer to his crotch. Dwalin is at his side a moment later and opens Thorin's trousers with practised ease. His cock is read and hard, curving towards Thorin's stomach, tip shiny with pre-come. Dwalin wraps his hand around the base and Thorin breaths in harshly.

The air is still hot and thick, now heavy with the musk of sex and Thranduil feels as if ripped from a dream. Yet the night cloaks them and Thranduil can feel something rise inside him. So he slaps Dwalin's hand away and curls his own fingers around the base of Thorin's cock, while glancing up at him. His lips stretch, then he moves in closer and licks over Thorin's shaft from base to the tip slowly. Another intake of breath. Very nice. With his free hand he cradles Thorin's balls then he moves down and pushes the head of Thorin's cock between his lips, the tip of his tongue against the part right underneath the cockhead.

Thranduil closes his eyes though not for long. He wants to see Thorin's reaction, and what glorious reaction it is, head thrown back, lips parted, stare glazed and dark when Thranduil starts bobbing his head up and down. Yes , he thinks grinning around Thorin's cock, now you are at my mercy .

Just as Thorin had before Thranduil takes his time, he teases, then he moves backwards, nearly letting Thorin slip from his mouth before he takes him in again, swallowing him down, thumb and index-finger of his left hand tight around the base of his cock. Slowly Thorin starts moaning, pushing his hips upwards, but Thranduil presses his right hand against his thighs, holding him down. Thorin is gritting his teeth, but he does not try to force him to a quicker pace. Which means he enjoys it too much—and a nasty, pleased whisper in his head tells him that Dwalin can not pleasure Thorin like he does. His hands are too rough, his temper too short. It lets Thranduil smirk and suck gently on Thorin's cock, gaze directed at Thorin and he stares back into his eyes, yes, yes, this is submission.

Enough of this,” he hears Dwalin snarl, then there's a hand in his hair yet again and his head is pushed down. Thranduil chokes around Thorin's cock, but he can not move away, Dwalin's other hand holds him brutally in place.

Move you filthy slut,” Dwalin hisses. There is no protest from Thorin, but when Thranduil can glance upwards he sees his brows are knit. But he does not tell Dwalin to stop. He has no time to think further of it because Dwalin pushes him down on Thorin's cock, pulls him up again on his hair just to push him down once more. Thorin's breathing grows more laboured and his hips jerk upwards. Thranduil closes his eyes. He does not swallow when Thorin's come spurts into his mouth. Suddenly he is pulled back roughly, come spatters on his face. Anger boils in his chest and he shoves Dwalin away forcefully. The next moment he crouches over and spits Thorin's come into the grass beside the covers.

What the fuck,” he wants to shout but his words come out as a rasping sound.

Dwalin looks at him darkly from underneath his brows before he turns back to Thorin who lays panting heavily, one arm flung over his eyes.

Thranduil wipes the come from his chin with disgust. His heart pounds hard and fast against his ribs and he can feel his hands trembling. He wants to peel his own skin off and crop off Dwalin's hands, but he can not even scream at him. He depends on them. He feels sick.

By now Thorin sits up, still breathing heavily. “Come here,” he calls and for a brief second Thranduil thinks it was meant for him. Then Dwalin moves closer and Thorin pulls him in for a kiss. A wave of rotten nausea rolls over him as he watches. He tears his gaze away, takes his underwear and wipes himself clean as best as possible, then throws the sullied thing away and puts on his skinny jeans directly. It is uncomfortable, he does not care. Pain shoots through his scalp where last Dwalin's hands had gripped his hair and the wish to do him harm resurfaces. To think that it was his laughter that made him feel brave enough to ask for a ride seems rather ironic now. Such filthy, disgustingly rough men they are. No respect, no dignity, but really what does he expect from homeless and probably unemployed foreigners. They are nothing but dirt underneath the soles of his shoes.

And yet his gaze is drawn back to them. They are like a pack of wolves consisting of the two of them alone. Two omegas having found each other. And neither has abandoned his intrinsic cruelty. This is how they move. Dwalin's larger body draped over Thorin's, the muscles in his shoulders tense. A hand working its way from Dwalin's back around his hip into his trousers. Then Thorin pushes Dwalin to his side. Now Thranduil has a perfectly clear view of the way Thorin wraps his hand around Dwalin's thick, hard cock. The nausea lets him sway once more and an ugly voice murmurs a single word into his ear: jealousy. Of course he dismisses such nonsense. Another glance at them—and Dwalin seems just too pleased with himself. Spite crawls up Thranduil's throat, dripping from his lips when he spits, “How rude of me,” and moves over to Thorin's other side. Thorin laughs, then gasps when Thranduil kisses him, pushing his tongue into Thorin's mouth. On the other side he can hear Dwalin growl lowly. Just like the beast he is , Thranduil thinks, but what does it matter when Thorin pulls him in closer, looking at him with such ravishing darkness in the depth of his eyes.

Have you not had enough?” Thorin scoffs, but there is desire laced into his voice as well.

Have you?” Thranduil asks with a quirk of his brow and a curl of his lips. Thorin laughs, his hand still working Dwalin's cock, but his gaze fixed on Thranduil. And as much as he tries to tell himself that he does this only to spite Dwalin, he can not deny the twinge of excitement that rushes through his veins when he kisses Thorin. If they were younger, maybe they would have fucked now. And Thranduil thinks of it: him being on top of Thorin, straddling his thighs, Thorin's hand bruising his hips. A shudder goes through him. Or he'd be bent over some surface, Thorin behind him, his cock hard and merciless thrusting inside him, a hand pushing his head down. The images blur into each other and Thranduil knows that he will blame the whiskey for all that has happened. As well as for the words spilling from his lips right now when he leans in closer to Thorin's ear. “You should have fucked me when you had the chance,” he breaths and he can feel the goosebumps that crawl up Thorin's arms. “You could've fucked me till the sun came up.” There is Thorin's hand at the nape of his neck and from the corner of his eye he can see how he speeds up the movement on Dwalin's cock. Dwalin who has his eyes screwed shut, one hand clutching Thorin's shoulder, the other on Thorin's hip.

You are shameless,” Thorin hisses. Thranduil laughs, but the noise is muffled by Thorin's lips upon his mouth. Then there is movement, Dwalin sitting up and suddenly Thranduil's head hits the ground. Dwalin has shoved him away so quickly he does not comprehend for another heartbeat. Pain is thumping in his head.

Now they are kissing and Dwalin's hand lays on top of Thorin's on his cock. It takes only a moment more before he can see Dwalin tense, then his come smears over both their fingers.

 

While Dwalin and Thorin start dressing Thranduil gulps down what is left of the whiskey. It burns down his throat, hot and biting like acid, but it is the only thing that rids him of the taste of bitter come. The world around him is swaying in an ungentle manner and exhaustion hangs on his limbs like iron weights. Hunger scratches on the insides of his stomach, but he will not ask for anything.

We should get some sleep,” Dwalin grumbles, his Scottish accent stronger now. When Thranduil glances at him, Dwalin wears a faint smirk, satisfaction smoothing his features. It repulses and reassures Thranduil at the same time. Thorin on the other hand seems to have sunken back into whatever blackness he usually wades.

A deep sigh catches in his throat. He just wishes he were home in his flat, in his bed, Legolas' presence just a few rooms next to his. Slowly he sinks down on the covers, the night is still hot and he closes his eyes without a second thought.

 

He wakes from the noise of cars rushing by. There's still alcohol in his blood. The temperatures have dropped and he feels cold and sick. Hunger still has its claws inside him and he is far away from warmth or home. The ground underneath him is hard, his body feels bruised. He wants to weep.

The sky is vast and wide, there is no sign of dawn, so he must've slept only an hour or so. His legs feel rather unsteady when he gets up to take a piss a bit further away. When he comes back, Thorin is awake and watching him with his hawk eyes. Without a word he holds up a chocolate bar that at any other time Thranduil would have refused. Not now though, he feels as hungry as a pack of starved hyenas. So he takes it and devours it quickly.

He pushes his hair back and ties it together, a few strands falling out of the loose, messy knot on his head. A sigh falls from his lips.

Are you cold?” Thorin asks. His voice is brash. Without meeting his eye Thranduil nods. Thorin throws a jacket towards him that he must've taken out of the car before.

Meanwhile Dwalin snores quietly, one of the covers half wrapped around him. Thorin leans against the car and lights a cigarette. After putting on the jacket Thranduil joins him, leans back against the car as well and looks up into the sky. Between shreds of gaunt clouds sharply cut stars are set into the darkness. Their light is neither warm nor cold, just far away, deathless for a few thousand years.

The smoke of Thorin's cigarette curls in the air like the breath of so many phantoms, the smell wafts to Thranduil and it is strangely comforting. He plucks the cigarette from Thorin's fingers and takes a drag himself, breaths in deeply. The rush of cars seems distant, it is quiet now. The fresh air is generous and magical, aether from the heavens. Thranduil smiles sardonically.

Do you have kids?” he asks quietly, not taking his gaze away from the stars.

Two nephews. They're like my own.” Thorin's voice sounds gravely, it lets Thranduil glance down to him for a second.

I have a son,” he says then. Takes another drag.

They share the cigarette till the end, then Thranduil snips the butt into the darkness. Its tip is glowing faintly for a little while longer. They do not speak after that. He is not sure what he feels, except exhaustion and maybe it's the fresh air that makes him feel dizzy combined with the alcohol that is still pumping through his veins. Nevertheless, he follows Thorin back to the covers and sinks down next to him. They're facing each other and after a while Thranduil notices that they breathe in the same rhythm, something he has only ever done when Legolas slept in his bed when he was a child and before they grew so distant.

Thorin's hand on his cheek, his fingers calloused and rough, yet delicate in a way he had not noticed before. There is something ancient in the line of his cheekbones and his nose, something that speaks of lost royalty and exile and maybe he was wrong when he thought of Thorin as lower class. He shakes his head slightly. This are but thoughts of insomnia under a vast sky.

Thorin does not smile, but there is something in his eyes, a glimmer of invitation, so Thranduil moves closer and kisses him. It is a slow kiss with only a dip of tongue into his mouth, a faint touch of lips. Something unspeakable lies in the press of skin and flesh and muscle, something fleeting. And indeed it is gone before Thranduil can name it. He sighs and feels the gods of sleep approaching with their whispers.

 

The next morning is grey with heavy clouds hanging low in the sky, pregnant with the promise of a storm. Thranduil's head hurts like hell. He asks for some aspirin and is glad when Dwalin gives him some without another word. They gather the covers quickly and five minutes later Thranduil climbs into the back-seat again. His coat is still a little damp, but Thranduil exchanges it with the jacket anyway. The car smells like cold cigarette smoke and something faintly rotten. Thranduil tries not to think about it. None of them speak during the ride, the only sound is the CD that Dwalin has on repeat. Three flecks in the sky warn you you gonna die. Storm coming, you'd better hide from the atomic tide … By now Thranduil knows most of the lyrics by heart. They etch themselves into his memory, he can feel it.

 

Shortly before they arrive in L.A. the storm breaks loose. Rain comes pouring down, the clouds lie low in the sky, anthracite and black, ghastly and monstrous vessels of crackling tension. Thunder crashes down on them, loud even behind the windows of the car. Flashes quiver on the sky, bright white and nasty yellow.

It is about then that Thranduil remembers that he should have called in for work.

Now it is too late, he gnashes his teeth, says nothing. He is nearly home anyway. Dwalin has agreed to drop him off only a few stations away from his flat.

Traffic is hell as always, but eventually they get there. They haven't really spoken more than necessary, both Dwalin and Thorin had been quiet and gloomy and Thranduil had not felt like intruding their thoughts.

The car rolls to a stop and Thranduil opens the door. He looks over his shoulder once and nods a wordless goodbye. Then he gets out, wraps his coat tightly around his body and hurries away in direction of the underground. When he looks back, the car has already vanished in the chaos of L.A. traffic, everything blurred by the pouring rain, whipping the pavement with heavy drops.

 

He gets home half an hour later. Legolas opens the door after his second ring. His son looks pale, dark circles are underneath his eyes, his hair hangs loosely and his clothes look like he has slept in them. Without a word Legolas steps back. Thranduil can hear him swallow, whether it's of relief or anger he can not tell. An explanation lies on his tongue, but what use are explanations? He closes the door behind him and thinks that they will have to change the locks, as well as a couple of other things. Behind him he can hear the thud of Legolas letting his door fall shut.

Thranduil sighs, then he goes into the bathroom, peels his clothes off and steps into the shower. The water is warm and his shower gel cleans him of all the dried sweat and dirt. He brushes his hair in the shower, carefully, with a blank mind, only feeling, his body slowly starting to relax.

When he gets out he throws his clothes into the washing machine, but stops in his tracks. The tank top is Thorin's. He must've left his own shirt in their car. Either way, it's not important. He stuffs the clothes inside and continues to dry his hair, then wraps himself in his silken dressing gown.

Outside it is still raining, the drops knock against the window-glass in a continuous, hard rhythm.

After eating some leftovers that Legolas had wrapped up in the fridge, he opens a bottle of wine and pours himself a glass. It tastes of autumn, of wild berries and a little bitter. Thranduil can see his own tall silhouette reflected in the window while he stares outside.

A few minutes he just looks into L.A.'s twilight, never really dark, but today the storm and the rain dim even the brightest neon-signs down to a tarnished whisper of colour. Somewhere out there.

With a thoughtful step he turns on his heels. He fills another glass for Legolas. Then he walks to his room and carefully knocks at his door. There's no answer, so he simply steps inside. His son sits on his bed, back leaned against the wall, headphones on and watching something on his apple laptop.

Thranduil puts the two glasses on Legolas' bedside table and sits down next to him. Legolas glances up, brows knit, but lips unmoving. Without a word Thranduil lays his arm around his shoulders and pulls him close. He can hear his son's breathing quicken when he gently strokes over his head. Slowly Legolas relaxes into his arms, the laptop slides to the side.

He closes his eyes and wonders where Thorin is. And if he has forgotten him already.