Technicalities: Written for Contre La Montre; a story dealing with the concept of complementary colors. -- Written in about sixty-five minutes.
Summary: Wherein some things don't turn out quite right. Or maybe they do.
Disclaimer: No. Please insert all that stuff about fiction and not true and don't know <here>.
antagonism; 1 a : opposition of a conflicting force, tendency, or principle
What really matters, now and then, is the voice of his mother, soft and melodious as she talked past the steady rumbling of the engine, told him about impressionism and Paris, about Monet and complementary colors.
The painting had been rolled up, a white string around the roll to keep it together, and Elijah remembers glancing at the backseat, again and again, curious because his mother had told him to wait until they were at home so all he had was her description, and it sounded bright and brilliant, beautiful. A smile curling her lips, her eyes hidden behind small, round sunglasses, but he could feel the weight of her gaze now and then. She hadn't said it, but he knew she was proud, so very proud of him.
His hair, still tangled from wind, smelling of saltwater and ocean. He hadn't cried when he'd hugged Macaulay even though somehow, they'd both known they wouldn't see each other again, at least not outside of movie premieres and red-carpet-events because that was just the way it worked. Elijah hadn't cried, though.
Glass cold against his forehead, blinking rapidly into rain that couldn't reach him.
When he got to open the painting, it wasn't as brilliant as his imagination had painted it. Light reflecting on the smooth surface of the glossy art print, almost swallowing the orange circle of the sun; colors faint and not as bright as he'd thought.
He still put it up over his bed, and somehow, when he looked at it, it always held a shadow of the pride and joy that had colored his mother's voice, always triggered the faint memory of wind and saltwater and goodbyes.
When he looks at it now, tacked to the wall beside his bed with silvery, glittering pins, it reminds him of Dom.
"Stop trying." Dom's voice warm and breathless, Dom's hand cold and water-wrinkled when he helps Elijah back onto the board. "Stop trying and do it, Lij."
Elijah nods and tries.
The people of the crew are buzzing, rearranging equipment, one of the camera guys bent over his tripod and talking to Viggo while pointing out things. Elijah tucks the blanket tighter around his body, draws his knees up to his chest, protection against the cold breeze that's trying to crawl underneath his clothes, icy tentacles reaching for his skin. To his left, Dom's sprawled in his chair, limbs all over the place, laughing, talking to Billy as his hands describe things only he can see. Living the moment.
In a way, Elijah envies Dom. Envies the ease, the utter lack of concern about what other people think of him, envies that Dom's so comfortable in his own body. Elijah's always felt this sense of awkwardness, maybe because he's spent so much time being watched, dodging glances in supermarkets, ignoring half-comprehensible whispers of isn't-that-yeah-I-think-it-is. Or maybe he just thinks too much.
"Hey!" Billy... shrieks, there's really no better word for it, and his voice carries both disgust and amusement, startles Elijah out of his thoughts. "I do not!"
"Do too," Dom says. Crosses his arms as if that settles the issue, and Elijah looks from him to Billy, back.
Liv, who's with them either because she was bored as she said or because of, uh, different reasons, reasons that come with a mohawk and currently share a blanket with her and anyway, it's none of Dom's business--Liv interrupts her quiet conversation with Orlando to glance from Billy's frown to the stubborn tilt of Dom's head, and laughs. "You know, guys, I have this four-year-old nephew. You should meet sometime, I'm sure you'd get along."
"Childishness is just another word for innocent and pure." A wry smile accompanies Billy's explanation, and Sean snorts faintly from somewhere to Elijah's right.
When Orlando leans forward, the chair that has to bear the combined weight of him and Liv complains, and righteously so. "Not when you're going on fifty."
Dom's lips twist into that special crooked smile that always echoes in Elijah's stomach, burns until it curls into itself, waiting, always waiting. "Age is sexy."
"Talking about me?" Viggo calls over, sunlight catching on his grin.
"I correct," Dom tells no one in particular, his hands spread in a blessing gesture, voice loud enough to be heard by Viggo. "Age is sexy in some cases."
"Why, thank you."
"Who said," short glimpse of tongue, and Dom winks at Billy, eyes bright, "I was talking about you?"
Because the air is freezing, the morning sun still weak and pale, Elijah tightens his grip on his blanket, inhales the warm scent of wool and refuses to think. It never seems to lead to anything, anyway.
Dom's hands flutter, dance, shine.
The music fades when Elijah closes the door, no longer captures all his senses, allows him to become aware of the darkness, the slap of cold air as it hits his skin. He finds his lighter by touch, flicks it on.
Short flash of brightness when he lights his cigarette, then it's gone, reduced to a dim orange-red glow that intensifies when he takes a drag.
His eyes need a few minutes to adjust to the lack of light, and when they do, he leaves the front porch, leaving the music behind along with a heavy bass that shakes the walls. Grass rustles, mixes with the steady rush of the ocean, and he's not looking for anything specific, just needs fresh air and silence. The windows of Orlando's house lose more and more of their bright glares the further he walks.
Sand crunching beneath his steps. The ground gives under his weight, just slightly, and the wind tears at his clothes, caressing his skin. A casual glance around.
Two bodies, pressed close, reduced to mere shadows. White flash of hands, of naked skin. Unrecognizable, only not.
It's one of those moments when breathing gets awfully difficult, like those times when he's lying on his stomach, trying to fall asleep only that somehow, he can't seem to get enough air inside his lungs, is missing that one deep breath that carries oxygen through his whole body and down into his toes, relieves some of the weight on his chest. Elijah swallows.
The cigarette is hot, too hot against his fingertips, and he drops it, watches the orange-red glow die, turn black and ashen.
A soft, distant echo of a laugh mingles with wind and ocean.
Elijah exhales, and the air burns in his throat, burns because there's not enough room for it, because it has to squeeze through the tightness. When he turns around, the waves drown out his steps, make them inaudible. He guesses he should be grateful, but can't quite bring himself to care.
Orlando comes in when Elijah's studying the painting, unannounced, without knocking. But then, Elijah's long since stopped expecting Orlando to respect or even notice the existence of privacy or personal space. While it can be annoying, it's so much a part of Orlando that at times, it feels like a comforting blanket that Elijah can wrap around himself. Warmth, closeness that doesn't ask for more, and it's nice.
"What's that?" Orlando asks. No introduction, just an open smile and warm eyes, touch of burning energy.
"Monet. One of the first impressionistic paintings." Elijah shrugs, points at a torn edge. "Kind of old already, but I like it. The colors."
Orlando tilts his head, and the sunlight falling in through the window emphasizes the shadows beneath his cheekbones, shadows that dance to the rhythm of curtains fluttering in the breeze. "Blue and orange?"
"I..." For all his obliviousness to some things, Orlando can be frighteningly perceptive when he pays attention, so Elijah turns his head, lowers his lashes just a little. "Complementary, you know? Opposites, and sort of..."
"They complete each other, yeah?"
Elijah nods, doesn't look at Orlando. A moment of silence, then, "Maybe I'll take it down."
"Maybe," Orlando agrees, and his arm around Elijah's waist is warm and reassuring. Elijah relaxes into the embrace, blinks against the threat of tears and feels the faint flutter of sickness in his stomach. It's gonna be okay, though.
Momentary tightening of Orlando's grip. Elijah studies the dark hairs on Orlando's arm, contrasting with the tone of Orlando's skin.
"Want some tea?" Orlando asks. "Or," voice brightening, "we could go surfing."
Elijah laughs, and even though it comes out choked, it feels vaguely real. "Yeah, okay."
He tugs at the picture, observes the glitter of pins as they drop to the floor. The thick paper of the art print is smooth when he traces the sun with his index finger, and although he thinks about tearing it in two, he doesn't. Instead places it on his bed, backside up.
Follows Orlando out.