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the devil in the details

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It's in the little things that most people won't recognise. Not even their fellow actors.

Joe's eyes are fixed upon performing, upon himself, upon his own intensity, building and building and building until he holds an inferno inside him that struggles to express itself in Arthur's pressed suits. Tom smiles and looks but never sees, because he's everywhere and he's nowhere - one moment at Ellen's shoulder, one moment at Chris's ear, one moment smiling at Marion. And Marion herself is too concerned with the turn of her own wrist, the tone of her voice, the exact pitch that says this is the real Mal, this is Cobb's projection of her. And Leo's eyes are looking at her, locking in every piece of her performance, creating a Cobb that belongs so utterly to Marion's Mal; a Cobb defined by his love of her, by Marion's performance of her that he can't look at anyone else. There is also the fact that his eyes on Ellen too; Ellen the little ingénue, whose eyes are a little awestruck with everyone in the set, looking at everyone through eyes that are almost obscured by stars.

It's not her fault. It's not any of theirs. They just don't know what they're looking for.

Cillian plays his roles by watching people with an intensity that belies his pale blue eyes. He takes in every gesture, every moment, every breath- it's all in the details, and his Robert Fischer is constructed from the bits and pieces cobbled together from the people he knows. Here is the turn of head he steals from an interview with Peter Buffett; here is the stillness he takes from Collin Farrell; here is the subtle arrogance he gains from watching everyone at the Oscars. Cillian builds his career on the obsession of little details.

And Ken- Ken doesn't watch; Ken lives those details. He knows that his English is stilted, and so he acts with his body- the relaxed posture of his shoulders, the angle of his hips, the slightest tilt of his head, the wide-small curves of his smiles and smirks. He creates Saito so easily that it's not difficult to believe that the role has been created for him and him alone, and when Ken steps into the scene no one needs to know what he's saying in words because he says it in his body.

This is what Chris sees:

Ken's head tilting towards Cillian, his amber-brown eyes lingering a little too long to be appropriate; Cillian immediately noticing his gaze, stopping mid-laugh with Tom to glance back, hurried, and his eyes are dark instead of pale blue, and his fingers curl inwards so slightly that no one else would've noticed. Ken's eyes snap away immediately, focusing back onto the makeup artist, the stylist, and his laughter is easy but his eyes keep looking back, and Cillian's shoulder never stops being half-turned towards him.

This is what Chris sees:

Ken's hand on Cillian's elbow, his mouth a little too close to his ear. He's grinning, and Cillian is stepping a little too close, an inch into his personal space, his fists shoving on Ken's shoulders but his eyes are too warm and too full of laughter than the situation warrants. They step back, turns away, and they exchange one last glance with each other, volumes spoken in a gaze in a way that most will think only happens in movies, in TV shows, in books.

But they are men who read pages upon pages of personality from a single gesture, much less a single glance.

This is what Chris doesn't see:

When Cillian retreats to his trailer and Ken follows him in an hour later, wearing only a t-shirt and faded jeans and a sheepish smile. Cillian smiles and they don't speak, his hand lifting slightly and Ken reaches out, takes it and their fingers link. Cillian feels the small calluses Ken has gained from playing so many samurais and holding so many swords; feels the calluses he has from learning to hold a gun and shoot, and he strokes his thumb over them, and knows without words that those marks are as much trophies as those that he knows Ken has earned.

And Ken tugs Cillian's hand to his lap and spreads it open, uncurling the fingers until he's following the lines of Cillian's palm. He feels the calluses from skiing, and his smile is mischievous and Cillian punches him with his free hand, quietly playful even as Ken catches that hand by the wrist. Cillian exhales, and Ken sees the tension fade from his shoulders even as he brings up that hand, mouths dry lips against the knuckles.

There's something reassuring about knowing without a doubt that whatever you are expressing will be heard even if you don't make a sound. Cillian doesn't bother to hide the melancholy twist to the corner of his lips when he misses his sons, his wife; when he misses London's crappy weather because it's better than Tangier's heat and humidity and goddamn mosquitoes, all of which seem to love Cillian's pale skin. He knows Ken will see it anyway; because he knows Ken will press his thumb against the sides of Cillian's mouth, smiling foolishly as he tries to tug the lips up into a bright smile.

When Ken closes his eyes and leans his back against the wall, tilting his head to the skies, Cillian knows that he's thinking of Tokyo, of home, of a place where he can speak without having to think and trip and tangle himself in foreign words that his tongue can't form perfectly. Cillian knows, and so that night they do not speak, simply lying next to each other, staring at the LCD TV of Cillian's trailer with the sound muted, and Cillian lets Ken try to teach him Japanese. He keeps his patience even when he still can't hear the difference between eigo and eigou, or Yosuke and Yousuke. He lets Ken babble to him in Japanese anyway, because the smile on Ken's face tells him all he needs to know.

This is what Chris doesn't see:

When they are in London, Cillian drags Ken back up to his apartment, where Ken plays with his two young sons and tries in vain to pronounce their names. Malachy becomes Marachii, and Carrick becomes Calliku, and Cillian laughs around his coffee as the newly-renamed Calliku squeals as he grabs on Ken's hair as Ken spins him around, and around, and around.

When they are in Tokyo, Ken pulls Cillian in a shop where they serve tea and biscuits and everyone is dressed in bizarre period costume that makes Cillian's head spin to stare at. They wear some of the most ridiculous helmets he has ever seen in his life, and given that he is in the Batman Franchise, that's saying something. Ken smiles at his confusion and waves over a girl with long legs and bronzed skin and Ken's eyes and cheekbones, and he introduces Cillian to his daughter Anne. Anne is beautiful and intriguing and they're in the shop because it's her favourite, and she points out each and every of the figures and costumes to Cillian excitedly in English that's more broken than her father's. Cillian understands not a single word, but he understands the proud smile on Ken's face, and he understands the way Anne looks at Ken, looks at him, with such knowing that he ducks his head down and eats a biscuit that has a giant crescent moon on it.

They never talk about their wives.

But they also don't hold hands, or kiss in public, or do anything to attract the tabloids' attentions. They only look at each other, smile a little crooked. They only barely brush against each other, standing a millimeter or so too close once, twice, before backing off. Their hands never brush when passing things to each other, but they bump shoulders easily, and smile sheepishly when it happens- as if they are two planets that are drawn inexonerably to each other, and whenever they collide they are rather embarrassed about it.

This is what Chris sees:

Cillian walks into a room, and Ken's head turn immediately, even if he might not have made a sound. Their eyes meet, and they nod at each other. Ken's smile widen, Cillian's head tilt a little lower, then they break the gaze and carry on with work, but Saito is always a little sharper and more dangerous after that, and Robert a little more tragic, a little more broken.

Chris thinks that perhaps he should revive Ra’s double, so he can draw Ken back with him, back to Cillian, for another movie. He smiles in his director’s chair, twirling a pen in his hand, and he wonders how plausible it would be if the Penguin looks exactly like Ra’s double—or how he can spin a tale to make it plausible. If the audience can take the sudden change of Rachel, then how far does their suspension of disbelief go?

Ken’s hand does not brush against Cillian’s, but he places a hand on Cillian’s shoulder, squeezing lightly in sympathy as Cillian twitches slightly, spraying sunblock all over him for the fourth time in the day. He leans in, lips a little too close, and whatever he whispers to Cillian makes the latter laugh hard enough that the twitch disappears.

And he does not wonder if it will be worth it to do so.

End