There was a cardboard box in his bedroom, the length of it from his wall to the door, its height coming up to his knees. It was the newest one, usually closed and taped over. There was too much paper on the underside of the tape, and it didn't stick very well anymore, but that was alright. It just made it easier for Sean to open it at the end of each day, and there were so many creases on the edges of the box from how he opened it so often.
The first time he picked out an empty box from the trash was twelve years ago, and he had been filling it up ever since. The box had grown longer and longer throughout the years. Sometimes Sean thought that he should get a plastic box with wheels underneath, or a wooden one. He had to change boxes sometimes because he tore the top flap when picking them up. But he didn't want to. Besides, wooden boxes were difficult to lug towards his car to bring to locations with him. Plastic didn't suit its contents. Somehow- it just didn't
Sean had been waiting for someone to ask about it for a very long time. But when he first started the collection, Abby had already moved out of the house, and there hadn't been anyone in it except himself for a long time. Then there was Georgina, and she only looked at it and wanted it out of the bedroom, but Sean insisted, and afterwards she just ignored it. She never tried to open the flap; not even when he did. Not even when he added to it. It probably meant something about them, about their relationship, but Sean didn't like to think about that. They didn’t really fit each other, and- maybe she was just a way of stemming off his greatest fear. A way of making sure he didn't die alone, in that big house of his.
(Fucking huge failure, it was. All he got from it was a loss of half a million quid, an even emptier house, and another set of divorce letters to go into his collection.)
He didn't know why he started having that box. It all started, he thought, when he asked his agent to get a credit card under an assumed name. He didn't know why he wanted it, and his agent didn't ask, so he didn't tell. The first thing he bought anything with it was in a small, quaint little shop in America. It took forever, because he only wanted that one thing, and it was hard to find. He could have asked- but he didn't want to. It was the first thing that went into the box- well. He found the box for this.
Recent Forgeries, by Viggo Mortensen.
He had sat on his bed that night, with only the nightlight on, tracing the words on the page. Sean read every single poem three times that night, tasting every word on his tongue, and he memorised them faster and sharper than any of his lines for work. They were good poems; not the classics that he had read in his youth, but he didn't expect that anyway. These were bits and pieces of Viggo's heart, and that was important enough.
Ten Last Night cost him over a hundred quid, in a second-hand shop in the middle of L.A. It was overpriced, the cover a little bent, but Sean had bought it and signed for it with that credit card with a faked name. There wasn't any reason for that; it wasn't like Viggo would find out. But- somehow, if it wasn't his name on the bill that had Viggo's name on it, then maybe it wasn't exactly real. It was like the flaps on his cardboard box: it separated him and... well, something that wasn't exactly him.
It would be ridiculously odd for Sean Bean to collect Viggo Mortensen's works so illicitly, as if it was something... secret, wouldn't it? It was ridiculous for him to buy the books (eventually) from the Perceval Press website under a false name when he could have just asked Viggo for them.
(But it was. He would never admit it, or even think it consciously, but this box of his, with all of Viggo's works that he brought everywhere with him- it was his personal little secret. Sean had taken to locking his bedroom door whenever he had visitors, simply because he didn't want them to see the box. It was his.)
Then it got worse. Better. He started collecting them as they came out, spending exorbitant sums when he couldn’t get them from the Perceval Press website after each one came out. Errant Vine took him six months to find, and it was only a few pages. He knew for a fact that Viggo had extra booklets left after the exhibition; the man babbled to him about it just a few months after Sean had left New Zealand, through the phone. There weren't many people who went, because Fellowship hadn't been released yet. He could have just... asked him for one.
But he didn't.
Now, more than twelve years past, he had Viggo's entire bibliography. Sixteen books, sixteen CDs. All into one box that he brought everywhere with him, and the covers of the books were hardback, but even they could be creased from how many times he had flipped through them. He had memorised every single one of his poems. His spoken words. His stories had become engraved onto Sean's flesh, as indelible as the mark of the Blades, as the Elvish nine.
He wanted bigger love,
had to have it like he
had to dream himself
to sleep. Recrossed
his legs and waited
for her tears. When
they came, he held
her hand, pretended
to be interested in
someone walking by
- Viggo Mortensen, Just Coffee
Viggo kept a box in his suitcase that he brought with him every single day. It had become like a lucky charm, like red underwear of footballers or green socks of businessmen. He had never let anyone see the inside of it- well, it wasn't as if he tried to hide it, but simply that they never tried. Not even Henry, with whom he shared almost everything, had ever tried to look inside the box. Viggo would like to think that his son simply understood that his father had secrets; that it was something almost sacred to Viggo; something he couldn't go anywhere without. Like his paints, like his camera, but infinitely more precious.
(But he knew it might just be that Henry was an adult now. Older than even a teenager, and he had his own life and dreams and his life no longer revolve around Viggo and Viggo's projects. Long gone was the time when Henry looked forward to coming down to Viggo's locations months in advance, or even wanted to stay with Viggo during his locations. Viggo didn't like to think about that. It was a fact of life, but it was one that made him sad.)
Whenever he reached a new location, he would sit down on the nearest table in his trailer or hotel room and open the box. There were dozens of photographs, letters, and notes that he would spread out on the table. There was never a single pattern. He never tried to put them according to chronology, even though he knew exactly which photograph was taken; when he received each letter or note.
Vig, said one, taped onto his trailer's mirror twelve years and a lifetime ago. Hiding from the hobbits and the elf tonight. You forgot your key; left it behind this note.
He placed this one above a picture of Sean, half in Boromir's clothes, half out. Jeans and tunic and chainmail, his vembraces stark black with the White Tree, striking against the greys of his blue jeans and the smoke curled around his face. Sean was frowning, leaning his shoulder against the wall, his hand lax against his hip as he looked out into the distance. There was a blurriness to his foot as he tapped it, and Viggo could see the impatience of nicotine addiction and his contained frustration in the tendons of his wrists, white against white.
There was another piece of paper, half-torn, and there was a little doodle of a man with a sword, fighting with three rather ugly, disfigured little creatures a distance away. There was shading of shadows at the feet of the little creatures, and scribbled writing on the blade of the tiny sword, and Viggo traced his finger above every single penstroke, long dried and set into the paper. The ink was starting to brown. It didn’t matter. Even if the ink had entirely faded, Viggo would still be able to recognise Anduril- helped by the scribble underneath, of stick-man-Aragorn chopping off the head of an ugly orc.
Viggo found this doodle on Sean's makeup table. Sean had left it behind, not realising the little masterpiece he had doodled while on the phone, listening to a Blades match. Viggo wished he had learned how to ask Sean to draw for him, or to ask him to model. He rarely drew people, for his paintings were mainly abstract, but he would draw Sean. Capture the line of his jaw with a pen, the brightness of his hair with paint, the curve of his ankle and lines of his legs and his hips with a sharp-tipped pen. He wanted to draw Sean against the sea, with the waves lapping at his ankles and his pressed slacks rolled upwards, his suit all clean lines stark against the sunset caught in the gold of his skin and his hair. Viggo knew that he would do better to take a photograph- but as much as he loved his camera, he didn't think it could capture Sean’s beauty.
Not even in this one. His favourite photograph. Sean holding a cue stick in his hand, half-leaning against the table. His head was turned away at an angle Viggo had never tried and never wanted to calculate, laughing in delight, in victory. The light had caught his eyes, turning a brilliant verdant green, dancing off the lines set deep into his skin. His shoulders were loose, the heel of one foot lifted off the ground. Against the half-darkness of the bar, he looked like Bacchus descended from the heavens.
Viggo was waiting. One day, he would be able to work with Sean again. He would sit him down, then, on a small table, and show him this collection.
He hoped that it would be soon. The lines on his face were deep, and Henry was so much older now. Sean's eyes showed his age, and his tiredness shone through even with TV screens between them. Viggo could not help thinking that time was running out. He should reach out for him; to take a plane to London with his photographs in his suitcase, and find him through the address Sean had written in large, loopy handwriting and which Viggo had placed, almost reverently, in the box.
He wished he could walk into Sean's garden in bloom, the one that he always wanted to see and which Sean had always wanted to show him. He would sit down at the large wooden table and spread out the photographs, the notes, the letters, and tell Sean what each of them meant to him. He wanted to tell him that each word, each image, was ingrained into his brain.
(Viggo remembered: Sean and him, they were always the Men of the Fellowship. Within the Nine there was another Two, and when Boromir died and Sean left, Viggo could not help but mourn along with Aragorn—for instead of Two, there was now only One.)
Sean had come to him at least three times now, and Viggo had gone to him twice. Nothing ever happened, no matter how much he wanted.
He had always taken a single step back when he could have taken one forward.
If we can't call
Each other anymore
In amnesia, invite
Ourselves to last glances
Under suspicious clocks
Telling us when we've