It's not that Orlando's off his rocker or has a screw rattling around up there like so much loose change or that there's anything wrong with him, per se, no matter what Viggo says, and he's one to talk, really, if anyone's completely bent, it's Vigs, he's like the King of Insanity. So, no, it's not that Orlando's aiming to become Viggo's Crown Prince of Mentally Off-Beat, it's just that, well, he's got a bit of a hard time saying no.
It's a terrible word, to start with, filled with all that negativity, not to mention it sounds so...final. No. Honestly, try saying it aloud, it's positively shudder-inducing. Plus, saying it always makes him feel like he's an adult and he hates that. There's a reason he's in a childish profession, after all. Not having to grow up if he doesn't have to is the best part of his job. Aside from the travel, of course.
So the word no is, well, it's not exactly something he's too keen on. And his reluctance – nay, his phobia – over using it has meant, over the course of his life, that he's possibly acted in a somewhat impulsive manner a time or two or dozen, all because the alternative would have been saying no and walking away. And it's possibly gotten him in a spot of trouble, especially where relationships are concerned.
Take Karl, for instance, and how they'd gotten together, pure unwillingness to let Karl down on Orlando's part – unselfish of him, really – after Karl'd been panting after him for months. Which had been sort of sad and pathetic of Karl, he's supposed to be the older and more mature one, but what can Orlando say, he's a humanitarian like that, a sucker for big hazel eyes and –
"You can't say that," Karl interrupts, leaning over the back of the sofa, and tapping at the laptop screen.
Orlando jumps, he swears, two feet, and levels a glare Karl's way. "Christ on toast, are you actively trying to give me a heart attack?"
"Stop trying to change the subject."
Since slamming the laptop shut would be a moot point, Orlando doesn't, but he thinks about it. Because he's not supposed to be the mature one, thankyouverymuch. "Stop trying to be a snooping git."
"You say the nicest things," Karl grins, like he's pleased Orlando's noticed.
Orlando's momentarily disconcerted by the smile – it has that effect on him – but frowns once he remembers the tenuous thread of the conversation. "Besides, why can't I say it?"
"Because you were the one with the crush and I was the Good Samaritan. In fact, it was you stalking me, in a sort of cute way, like a teenage girl running into Harry Styles at the corner market –"
"Slanderous words, sir, I did no such thing."
Karl's fingers brush the back of Orlando's neck, which is even more distracting that the smile, honestly, Karl's hands should be declared a Wonder of the World, category: Distracting As All Hell.
"How else do you explain why you were always hanging around no matter where I went, and always making excuses to touch me or rub against me –"
Well, when he put it like that... "I was just being friendly –"
"And following me home that one night and trapping me against my front door and sticking your tongue down my throat –"
"You kissed me first!"
"Maybe I felt sorry for you and how badly you wanted me –"
"Oh, shove off..."
"I'm serious, love, I worry about you. You clearly need help remembering things. It's lucky for you I'm here," Karl says, and tumbles onto the cushion next to him, getting comfortable and taking all the pillows.
See, that's just one example, right, of how Orlando should totally be applying for sainthood or be given a medal for valor or courage or something, because this is what he has to put up with on a daily basis. Honestly, it's a miracle he hasn't left Karl in the dust and found someone better – someone else damn good in bed and stupidly attractive, who's a brilliant cook and is wicked smart and ridiculously funny...
Look, the important thing is, Karl's the lucky one in the relationship here, and that's the final word on that. Not that Katie would agree, but then, she's always been contrary and takes Karl's side more often than not just to give Orlando grey hairs, he's sure of it. In fact, he'd be willing to bet that the two of them lie in bed at night when he's out on location and think of ways to drive him stark raving mad.
But that's how the two of them have been from the start, when they ganged up on him that first night and had worn down his defenses –
"Other way around," Karl says, the words muffled as he pops a handful of popcorn in his mouth. "We were at the BAFTAs – which you dragged me to, by the way, awards shows aren't my thing – and Katie was wearing a very low-cut slinky green dress and looking like a proper pin-up bombshell and you asked me if we could take her home and keep her –"
"I said no such thing!"
"Try again, sunshine," Katie says, peering over both of them to read the screen, her hair brushing their shoulders, "you were totally staring at my arse all night. I do like the bit about being contrary, though, you can keep that."
"You would," Orlando mutters, and surreptitiously sniffs at her hair. It smells of citrus, which means she's using Orlando's favorite shampoo again. Not that he'd ever admit that it smells better on her than it does on him.
"I would have stared at your arse that night if I'd been able to get past your tits," Karl says, with a wicked grin that Katie returns.
"That's alright, I stared at your arse and Orlando's crotch enough for everyone."
"My what?" Orlando asks, affronted on behalf of his arse. "Why weren't you staring at my arse? I have a lovely one, I'll have you know."
"It's a bit on the wee side, isn't it, I mean, compared with Karl's, which is sort of perfect for squeezing."
Orlando hates it when she's got a point, and is still fuming about it when she twists and slides onto the sofa until she's on Orlando's other side, her legs stretched out over Orlando's lap, and her feet resting on Karl's thigh. "So, there, now that we all remember what happened that night, carry on. And don't leave out any of the good bits. And by good, I mean naughty, of course..."
They really are going to drive him to drink one of these days, mark his words. Alright, find, drink more. Honestly, if Katie wasn't so drop-dead gorgeous and brilliant and always filled with incredible ideas and didn't turn his brains to mush every single time she touched him, he'd have run off a long time ago and let the two of them have each other. Like as not, they'd have probably killed each other by now by going off half-cocked and doing something completely mental and possibly suicidal because they wouldn't have him to pull them back from the abyss, and that's really the entire problem in a nutshell right there. Somehow, without his permission, or even without his knowledge, he'd become the – shudder – adult. Which should be against the rules or something, because he's not supposed to be the mature one here or the adult...
"That's definitely a filthy lie," Karl declares, frowning. "You're a terrible adult. You never say no to us at all. You hate the word, remember, you said so right there at the beginning."
Katie sits up enough to plaster herself to Orlando's side, and Orlando tries to stay strong, but it's not like he's fooling anyone, really, because she's touching him and he can never remember his bloody name when she does that. "I can't remember the last time he's said no, can you?"
"You've forced me to do it more than once," Orlando argues, because his pride is at stake here. "It was horrible. I think I might be scarred for life."
"Guess it's a good thing women dig scars," Katie grins.
Karl starts playing with the hairs on the nape of his neck, like he's not aware that doing so turns Orlando into a big gooey puddle of gooeyness. "You may as well give in to the inevitable, and accept the fact that you're just as bad as we are, and just as likely to get us into trouble."
Orlando's head tips forward as his eyes close. "I admit nothing."
"Drastic measures, then?" Katie asks, and Orlando doesn't need to look up to know Karl's nodding in agreement. Because they really are trying to drive him into an early grave, or at least, make him doubt his sanity or something.
All he can hope is that, in the future, when people talk about him and his untenable plight being chained, metaphorically speaking although he wouldn't put it past them to actually do it one day, to two people who are absolutely bonkers and probably a danger to society, they'll be properly sympathetic. And if he can get a knighthood out of it – even posthumously – that would be aces.