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It's Not About the Tie

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Lee wasn't exactly sure what to expect on his second day on set in New Zealand, but a handsome man wearing a dark shirt, shorts, and enormous boots asking for his tie certainly wasn't it.

"I'm...what?" He smiled uncertainly. "Did you just ask for my tie?"

"" The other man seemed to fold, bow his head, laugh, and blush like a pink flamingo all at once. Lee wasn't sure what was happening. "Sorry. I was joking."

"Ooh." Lee'd had his share of awkward jokes before. He laughed indulgently. "'Cause I don't mind. It'll probably suit you better than it does me."

"No!" Mr. Boots (probably one of the dwarves, Lee assumed, as there were two more in the background wearing identical footwear) looked back up at him. His eyebrows rose, then flattened, like he was concentrating. "Unless - no. I mean. I'm wearing a shirt."

"You could wear it for the premiere when the time comes."

Lee could feel the polite smile he was wearing turn into a lopsided grin while he watched this (admittedly weird) boot-clad bundle of blue eyes and dark hair grasp at what to say next.

He was rescued from doing so by Martin, who appeared especially short when he stood beside both of them. "You're red as a tomato," he said to Mr. Boots. To both of them, he asked, "What's going on?"

"Martin." Lee smiled at him. "I'm not really sure. This charming gentleman asked for my tie earlier, but now he won't have it."

"Did he." Martin and the other man shared a brief look. Something seemed to pass between them that Lee wasn't privy to, but whatever it was, it ended with Martin looking very put-upon and Mr. Boots fixated on the floor and scratching his nose. "Well, it's a really nice tie," Martin said to Lee. "In fact, I...would like to have it. As well."

Lee stared. Martin looked pained just saying that, but he was still looking at Lee expectantly. "You want my tie?"

The shorter man huffed a small, annoyed breath and seemed to bristle. "It's New Fucking Zealand, Lee! A man can ask for a tie without getting weird looks. Embrace the bloody culture. Now, come on. Hand it over."

This was fast approaching Lee's list of weirdest conversations in his lifetime. He carefully unknotted the tie from his neck and slid it into Martin's waiting hand.

"There. Was that so fucking hard?" Martin muttered, while he slung his new acquisition around his shoulders. Lee almost winced at how garishly it clashed with his jacket. "Now, if you'll both excuse me, I have a charity to run and bloody fucking orphans to adopt."

Lee was probably not supposed to catch that brief, pointed look Martin threw Mr. Boots before leaving. He pretended not to notice. Though he did chuckle when a crew member in the distance helpfully pointed out the blinding color match, along with Martin's "I KNOW" and quick retreat to his trailer.

He grinned and looked back at the awkwardly shuffling man. "So...this asking-for-a-tie thing is normal here?"

"It would appear that way, wouldn't it?" Blue eyes met his, looked at something else, then looked back at the other dwarven actors in the far corner of the room, also trying on boots similar to what he was wearing. "I'm - I should probably go back."

"Mm." He took a brief second to admire the way those shorts did a poor job of hiding a pair of toned thighs from view, while the other man appeared to be contemplating abandoning the conversation. "What did you say your name was again?"

He seemed to have just realized that he hadn't given his name yet, and looked appropriately mortified. "Richard."

Richard. Richard Armitage. Thorin, Lee thought, as he shook the proffered hand. When he had asked Martin earlier about this particular actor, he'd just received a brief tall bloke, short hair, can't miss him. Coming from Martin, though, that encompassed nearly everyone who wasn't female.

Richard had been carefully watching his expression, it seemed. His half-smile was self-deprecating. "Not what you were expecting?"

Well, yes. Lee didn't actually have a long list of expectations about his wayward co-star, but "adorable" hadn't been anywhere near it. He considered his reply...then took another long look at Richard and considered it again. With a grin. Which he had to tone down a bit since it was probably coming across as slightly predatory. "Let's just say I was thinking more along the lines of 'irritable old man' instead of someone I'd like to ask out for coffee later today."

Richard's expression went slack. "Coffee?"

" know. Tea. Refreshments. Later, this afternoon. I found a place." Lee shrugged. "Or honey mead. Isn't that what you dwarves like to drink?"

"No, I kn-. I mean, yes." Richard bowed his head and laughed. When he looked back up at Lee, it was all dark lashes, blue eyes, and a shy smile. "Yes, that sounds lovely."

Honestly, Lee thought, utterly charmed. He'd have to be careful with his heart with this one. "Don't forget."

A while later, Lee was listening to Terry give him the overall gist of how elves moved (or Terry was talking, and Lee was thinking about coffee and blue eyes and thin lips), when a bit of the conversation going on across the room drifted in their direction.

"Let me get this straight," Ken was asking Richard, "he asked you out."

Richard's reply was too low for Lee to catch, but it had been short. And whatever it was, it got Ken and Graham laughing. Richard sounded a little peeved when he said loud enough for Lee to hear, "Stop it."

"Did you take notes?" asked Graham.

"Please stop."

It didn't occur to Lee until much, much later, when they were both exhausted in bed, and Richard's breath was warming his neck, what the overall purpose had been of that first conversation.

Ah, fuck it. He rubbed his cheek fondly on the mussed up head of black hair near his face. He was glad for the lack of a mirror in the room - he was pretty sure the grin he was wearing was far too goofy for comfort.

Lee was in deep trouble, but he didn't really mind all that much.