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Pace yourself!

Chapter Text

It was only seven o'clock on the first day on the set of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey', not unusually early for veteran actor Richard Armitage, one of the film's leads. He was already kitted out in Thorin Oakenshield's heavy coat, not to mention the Dwarf King's hair, nose and beard and he headed over to where he'd seen the film's director.

"Morning, Peter," Rich called as he approached their 'fearless leader', as Gray called Peter Jackson. Gray - or Graham McTavish, to the uninitiated - was a bit of a wag and a close friend of Richard's. Gray was playing Dwalin, one of Thorin's subjects who was also something of a mentor to the Dwarf King.

Peter responded in an unusually absent-minded manner but then Rich noticed the rapid movement of the man's thumbs as he texted someone on his phone. "Uhm, yes, morning, Richard; just a sec..."

Richard took the seat beside the man and looked intently at the organised chaos going on around them. He repressed a grin but couldn't hide the sparkle in his eyes. God, it was good to be here!

New Zealand was absolutely gorgeous - really breathtaking, no matter how clichéd that sounded - and this particular project made his blood sing; even his fear of deep water couldn't deter him when he had read the script.

He glanced over at Peter when the man slouched back in his seat and turned to him with a grin. Richard couldn't hold back a chuckle as the world-famous director took in his appearance.

"I was just getting an update from Lee; he should be here in another hour or so." Peter grinned at the slight twitch Richard couldn't hide. "Flight's a bit behind."

Richard hummed in his usual noncommittal way. He knew Peter had picked up on the slight tension whenever Lee Pace's name was mentioned. Only Gray knew the reason for that, though.

Richard was not afraid to change the subject so he cleared his throat and directed his sharp gaze at Peter.

"So, we'll be blocking the dwarves' scenes first?"

Peter was no fool; he didn't want to unsettle the shy Englishman so he grinned at him and then nodded. "Yeah, I need to use as many of the 3-D cameras as I can. Come on."

With that, he heaved himself out of the chair and called out to his waiting crew, his mind already mapping out every aspect of their very busy day.

Richard, as always, was impressed with the man's brilliance, and he followed along as Peter explained what he wanted from everyone. Thoughts of Lee Pace were ruthlessly squashed as Rich immersed himself as much as possible in the irascible Dwarf King's mindset.

He was so focused on Peter and the noisy hubbub of the massive set that he was unaware when a newcomer strode onto the set. A large hand tapped his arm and, thinking it was Gray, Richard turned to see Peter smirking at him.

"Come over here a bit?" Peter's ungroomed eyebrows flickered comically over his bright blue eyes and Richard looked at him, puzzled.

Then he saw him.

Lee Pace.

Richard thanked all the years of his stage training for being able to keep his cool in the face of the eye-wateringly bright smile beaming at him. A little stunned, Richard registered two things.

'He's taller than me!' and 'Fuck me, he's gorgeous!'

Still, he was able to ignore Peter who was grinning up at him in sly fashion as he introduced Richard to his secret crush.

"Ugh, hi, Lee - I'm Richard -"

Both Lee and Peter actually chuckled at that but Rich could only note that, yeah, the towering American actor had a beautiful voice, among other things.

"Yes, I know... Hi, Richard; it's really nice to meet you." Lee's smile was warm and he held out his hand which Rich grasped firmly, noting the long fingers. If their smiles were a little goofy, Peter wasn't going to say anything, just smiled as he watched them study each other.

Their hands were still clasped, both actors apparently having forgotten that, and Peter cleared his throat to get them back on track. This was a full workday, after all.

"So, I take it you two haven't met before this?" He almost laughed as the two let go of each other's hand too quickly. Peter would tell Graham later how they had both blushed like schoolgirls - and he wouldn't even be exaggerating.

They both stuttered something silly along the lines of "Uh, ah, no - we've friends in common, though" (Rich) and "We seemed to keep just missing each other" (Lee).

Richard stared into Lee's green eyes (he'd always thought they were brown) and nodded like a fool as he wallowed in the man's sexy mid-Western twang.

"It's gonna be great, working on this project with you," Lee said, ostensibly to Peter, but somehow his eyes kept flicking back to Richard, still handsome beneath the Thorin prosthetics.

Peter kind of grunted, slapped Lee lightly on the arm and announced: "Okay, let's get you set up." As both actors looked down at him, he added, eyes twinkling madly, "Rich, you can show Lee over to the makeup trailer, right? Good man!"

With that and a little smirk, Peter walked away without even waiting for a response and headed over to where Andy Serkis, his Second Unit director was shouting various instructions to the cast, crew and army of extras.

Richard swallowed, glanced at Lee's stunning face again and then nodded. "Okay, we've got our orders. The trailer is this way," and smiled as Lee fell into step beside him.

"So," Lee said after a quick glance at the hot actor whose obvious shyness kind of appealed to him. "How's it been so far?"

Richard glanced at him and couldn't help the little grin. "I could be mean and say 'wait and see' but, honestly, it's been wonderfully crazy."

He and Lee laughed and Richard felt his heart stutter as the bright NZ sunlight seemed to intensify on the man next to him.

"'Wonderfully crazy'. I like that!"

They grinned at each other and then they were mounting the steps of the makeup trailer - or Hogwarts, as one of their younger fellow actors called it. "'Cause they work magic in there, mate!"

Rich opened the door and stepped in ahead of Lee, about to introduce him to the transformation wizards when he realised Philippa Boyens, the film's screenwriter and producer, was there. She and several of the makeup and prosthetics artists had their heads close together, discussing something but she looked up at the actors' entrance.

"Uh, Philippa, folks, may I introduce the great Mr. Lee Pace, henceforth to be referred to as the Elven King, Thranduil," Richard announced, pure mischief underlying his regal tone.

He felt Lee jerk slightly beside him and ignored his wide-eyed look.

Lee, however, after a quick squinty-eyed look at Richard, moved past him to clasp Philippa's outstretched hand.

The move was so suave and charming, Rich fully expected the man to kiss her hand but Lee only pulled her forward to lean down and place a soft peck on her smooth cheek.

Everybody laughed as she smiled dazedly up at Lee.

"Oh, goodness, I think we made the perfect choice for Thranduil!" Her eyes sparkled as she gushed, causing Lee's cheeks to pinken slightly.

There was more laughter as Philippa went on to introduce Lee to the team that would be working on him and then she took up the folder they had been poring over.

Richard was interested to see what had held their attention when they entered and now he glimpsed several stills of Lee - both headshots and full-length - and a few artist's renditions of the sort of clothing the Elven King would be wearing.

Lee looked immensely pleased and wasted no time in complimenting the team. However -

"But, uhm, this guy is very blonde - and I'm dark. How -?" Lee almost coloured again when he sensed the amusement around him.

Philippa patted his arm and then stroked it a little flirtatiously. "I know you know all about makeup magic, sweetie. By the time these folks are finished with you, your own mum won't recognise you!"

Richard felt a thrum go through his body. He had watched Lee's first ever movie and was so entranced with the actor that he'd tried after that to find everything Lee had appeared in, even that short-lived TV series involving pies, of all things.

Gray had teased Rich mercilessly, having caught him one Saturday at his flat, watching and re-watching one particular scene in Lee's first ever film.

Yes, Lee was certainly no stranger to movie makeup magic, Rich smirked in his mind.

Eventually realising that he had his own work to be getting on with, Richard threw a quick wave to Lee and the other folks, and exited the trailer. The quality of the bright sunshine made him realise it was nearly midday and he headed to the canteen to join up with Gray and some of the other actors and crew.

They were a rowdy lot but Rich, as quiet as he was, actually enjoyed the banter, although he didn't much take part.

He saw Gray after he collected his lunch and decided to join him. As he sat, however, he knew he was in for it when 'Dwalin' squinted up at him.

"So, he's here, is he?"

Rich couldn't help the frown he felt tugging at his prosthetic eyebrows. "So?" His snappish response made him feel a little guilty but Gray had known him too long to be really offended.

Gray smirked and took a swig from his water bottle. "Well, what's he like," he asked, too quietly for the others seated near them to hear, especially the nosy 'twins', Dean and Aidan who played Thorin's nephews.

"Tall," Rich responded with a grin, "and hot!"

"Oh, gawd," Gray frowned at him. "Come on, man; you sound like a bloody schoolgirl!"

Richard only looked smug as he ploughed into his salad, laughing hilariously on the inside at the disgruntled look on his best mate's face. He loved to take the piss out of Gray; his temper was epic but his snits never lasted for long.

After lunch, everybody got down to business and the afternoon sped by. Every now and then Richard's mind would go to the makeup trailer but the rehearsal was pretty intense, as usual; he had to focus or he would screw up.

It was nearly 3 o'clock when, slowly, silence fell around the set and Richard looked up to see what was going on.

A group of very tall, slender actors dressed as Elves had entered the soundstage to rehearse the scene where Thranduil would be denied his casket of white gemstones. Richard understood, immediately, the quality of the silence.

The Elves were striking, to say the least - someone had commented that the casting call for the Elves had said 'supermodels only'. Rich didn't know how true that was but, looking at them now, he could very well believe it. However, it was the actor playing their King who undoubtedly drew all eyes.

Lee was already in character, seemingly having inhabited it along with the sumptuous robes and magnificent silver circlet that sat on the long, gleaming white-blond hair. He even moved differently, Rich noted - all smooth, long strides with his chin up and his striking blue eyes imperious.

Wait - blue eyes?

Richard felt his breath catch as he, along with the entire cast and crew on the set, marveled at the makeup team's proficiency. Hell, even the Elves' costumes deserved kudos. It was clear no expense would be spared on this production.

Richard watched avidly as Lee fell briefly out of character when Peter approached 'Thranduil' and his Elven bodyguards. Peter gave them further instructions on how he wanted the five to carry themselves - aloof, superior - as they approached the then Dwarf King, Thror's throne. Even when a Dwarf closed the casket of jewels sharply, just barely avoiding catching 'Thranduil's' fingers, the Elven King was not to show any overt signs of anger, Peter explained.

In the brief scene, a very young Thorin was to shoot his grandfather, King Thror, a puzzled look but he would be stood, silent, watching as King Thranduil turned and left. It was a short scene meant to illustrate at least some of the reasons for the centuries-old feud between Dwarves and Elves.

Lee nodded, understanding what Peter wanted, drew himself up to his full 6'5", and gave the director exactly what he wanted: a cold yet beautiful face with the barest hint of a condescending smile playing about his frosty eyes.

Rich watched as Peter whispered something to Lee who unexpectedly broke character, threw his head back and laughed out loud.

It was a beautiful sight and it was clear from the rapt looks around them that Rich wasn't the only one to think so. All eyes were on Lee, a handsome actor transformed by makeup wizardry into a cold, beautiful and deadly being.

Rich was so entranced that only Graham's finger, poking painfully into his side, could snap him out of it.

"Damnit, Gray, bloody hell?!"

"Wipe up the drool, man; you're embarrassin' yourself," was the snarky response and Richard turned red as his friend walked away.

Richard, Lee and some of the cast then did a quick run-through of the scene for Peter and the crew to get all the camera angles and lights set up. Peter divided his attention between watching the cast and studying how it all played out in the high-tech 3-D cameras.

Only when he was quite satisfied with their work did he dismiss everyone for the day - evening by then - and left to confer with Andy. Everyone knew that, although they were breaking until the following day, Peter and the directors would still work for another few hours. That's how it was on a multi-million dollar set with rabid fans the world over, waiting for the premiere.

Lee smiled at Richard who was standing around with a few of his Dwarf subjects and beckoned to him with a tip of his gleaming blond head. He watched as the handsome Brit joined him and, moving a little way from the other 'Elves', Lee said quietly: "Ah, could we go for a drink later?"

Rich, in his complete surprise, took a little too long to answer as he stared at Lee stupidly.

He watched in dismay as Lee started to shut down, thick dark lashes falling to shutter those unnaturally pale eyes.

Suddenly, Gray's loud voice came from a little behind Richard, causing both him and Lee to startle.

"Say 'yes', ya daft git!"


Chapter Text

That evening, Richard and Lee found themselves shoved together in a couple of booths along with some of the folks from the set. The pub was loud and rowdy and the laughter was well-fuelled with copious amounts of liquor.

Long legs bumped beneath glass-laden tabletops and questions were shouted across at each other as they attempted to chat. A futile task, really; this was not a getting-to-know-you kind of place and Richard looked as if he regretted suggesting the place.

Lee smiled across at him often and that was almost enough to make up for the lousy choice for a first-date venue.

What?! Rich's head swam for a couple of seconds as he realised what he'd said. God damnit! He always did this - leaping ahead of things like a bloody novice, he did. God, for one thing, he didn't even know if Lee swung his way. He could just be a typically friendly American, after all. Just because he had asked if Rich wanted to join him in a drink didn't mean he found an older man like him attractive.

Richard returned the smiles in his usual reserved manner, unaware of the way his eyes did a slow dip from Lee's wide eyes down to his curved lips every time.

Rich jerked as a booted foot bumped his shin - not hard enough to hurt but it definitely drew his attention to Gray who was seated beside him. He turned to look at his friend and raised one eyebrow in inquiry.

"What now?" He swore Gray was trying to give him a complex. Earlier that evening, the whole set had probably heard him yell at him when he'd had been too slow in replying to Lee's invitation to a drink.

As Richard's oldest friend, Graham knew how socially awkward the stage actor was. Those suave, sexy, dangerous characters he played on stage and screen were just parts. Richard had nothing in common with them and he knew sometimes he was a little slow on the uptake.

'Slow' was an understatement because, in the past, he had found himself in relationships where he wondered how he'd gotten there. The inevitable breakups were always painful in that neither he nor his partner seemed to have had any idea as to why - beyond an initial faint attraction - they had been together.

Pathetic, is what he was, he admitted to himself. Graham tried his best with him, for certain, but Rich wondered if maybe he was just meant to be alone.

Gray leaned in to speak directly into Rich's ear, his voice a low growl. "You're going to give the kid a complex, you know."

Richard drew back and stared at his friend, totally confused now - and slightly creeped out as Gray echoed his own thoughts. "What? Which 'kid'?"

Gray twitched his head - in the direction of the other side of the table where Lee was sat - and Rich flushed.

"I'm not giving anyone a 'complex'! What's wrong with you?!"

It was a good thing they were practically growling at each other and that the pub was noisy. As it was, several people were watching, amused, as the two friends snarled at each other.

"What's wrong with me!" Graham grabbed his glass and downed the last of his Guinness. "Why'd you suggest a place where the entire bloody contingent of us comes in regularly?"

Rich, a little taken aback, only blinked and stared down into his glass of wine. 'Yeah, Rich; trying to sabotage yourself as usual?' The sarcastic little voice in his head sounded awfully like his best mate at times.

Gray watched him and then shook his head. He loved the daft bugger like a brother but sometimes he felt Rich needed a swift kick to get his head out of his arse.

A fine arse it was, too, if all Rich's fans and several of his lovers were to be believed. Graham wouldn't know; he could acknowledge that Richard's face didn't make his eyes hurt but anything below the neck he, being totally straight, wasn't equipped to judge.

Still, as someone who'd been around for a long time, he could see that the tall Yank found Rich attractive. Gray could admit though that he wasn't entirely sure the kid was gay. He came across as really sweet, extremely friendly and just so chuffed to be working on a Tolkien film with the great Peter Jackson.

When Lee had been talking earlier, after the first round of drinks had gone down extremely fast, he had shared how much he loved the Tolkien books. To hear him tell it, getting the rôle of Thranduil was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Lee had been open and charming, sharing that big laugh of his with everyone. He hadn't seemed to focus very much on Rich, despite the fact that the Brit was seated directly across from him.


As Gray eyed Rich squirming beside him now, he decided to cut him some slack. Maybe Rich had the right of it: better to be cautious and suss out Lee's preferences before anyone embarrassed himself here.

"Come on, all ya blighters; drink up! We have an early call tomorrow," Gray called out loudly enough to be heard by most of his colleagues in the pub.

Most groaned half-heartedly and a few hurried to get in a last round of drinks, including Gray himself.

As he slid out of the booth, he raised his eyebrows, silently asking the others if they were having more, and Lee nodded but Rich declined.

Lee smiled over at Rich who looked up in time to see it. "Uhm, yes, Gray's right. I must admit the early calls are my least favourite part of filming," Rich said, although he really didn't want the evening to end just yet.

Lee swallowed the last of his drink and then thanked Gray for the new one he plunked down in front of him before he replied.

"Mmm, yes. I did a film a long time ago that took me hours to get into character." He sipped the new drink, not realising that Richard's cheeks had turned red. "Believe me, it was no fun being turned into a pre-op transgender woman every day for weeks!"

"'Pre-op' what?!" The laughter at their table was loud but not unkind as Aidan nearly choked on his drink.

Lee chuckled. "Yep. I don't think dwarf prosthetics are as odd as getting fitted for women's breasts," Lee chuckled. "Oh, and hips, too."

The silence at that was distinctly awed as everyone stared at the ultra-tall, very masculine actor with the distinctive eyebrows sitting and sipping slowly on his drink.

"Well, fuck me," Gray's mutter came and everyone fell about laughing. Richard's face was red but he smiled widely at Lee who chuckled at everyone's amusement.

Richard decided that he would wait a long while before confessing to Lee that he'd watched 'Soldier's Girl' many, many times - mainly so that he could salivate over Lee's portrayal of Calpurnia.

Finally, with drinks drunk and tabs paid, the motley lot of them staggered out into the cool night air.

Rich found himself falling into step beside Lee and once again marveled that the American was taller than him. He glanced up at Lee several times during the relatively short, silent walk back to the lot that housed all their trailers, but the silence was friendly, not awkward at all.

They reached Lee's trailer first and Rich, ever the gentleman, waited while he fumbled out his key and opened the door.

Lee turned back, though, and looked at him speculatively. Richard's heartbeat sped up as the moonlight drew patterns on the handsome face before him.

"What-uhm, why do you keep looking at me like that?" Lee's deep voice, smooth and almost lilting, made Richard swallow.

Rich dropped his head but then he looked up back. "How tall are you, exactly?" He felt his face burn in embarrassment. 'Seriously? You're standing in the moonlight - in New fucking Zealand - with a guy you really like... and this is what you say?!' The Graham voice in his head sounded incredulous - and vicious.

Lee blinked rapidly. "Uh... ahm... I usually say 6'4 but I'm actually 6'5," he said slowly as he stared at the odd but cute Englishman. "I think 6'5 sounds weird."

They stood staring at each other and then someone - later they couldn't remember who - started to laugh... and they kept laughing, looking at each other every now and then before cracking up again.

"Whew," Lee said and straightened up from his belly laugh. "God, you must think I'm really weird..."

Rich wiped an eye surreptitiously before he grinned up at Lee. "Mmm, not any weirder than me, actually... I'm sorry, I should let you get on."

Lee smiled at him, his eyes gleaming in the silvery light.

"I like you, Rich. I - uh, wasn't certain I would, actually."

It was Richard's turn to say "What?" as he blinked at the other man. "Why?"

Lee shrugged. "I don't know - you seem a pretty serious guy... your body of work... I think you're really, really talented!"

Once again, Richard was speechless and he was stood, in the moonlight, with a really hot guy he was attracted to and whom he respected as a colleague - and he was bereft of words. Well, sensible ones because all he got out was, "Uh..."

Lee chuckled and touched Richard's forearm briefly. "Goodnight, 'Sir Guy'," he said softly, his voice doing that velvety thing Rich had noticed before, and he climbed into his trailer, smiling.

Richard actually managed to stutter out a faint 'goodnight' before Lee closed the trailer door quietly. Rich nodded once, turned and walked away in as business-like a manner as he could. God, he hoped no one in the neighbouring trailers had glimpsed even a little of the farce that had just played out. If Gray had seen it, he would kick his arse all the way around the soundstage - and he wouldn't even fight it.

'Pathetic, Armitage, so very pathetic,' he thought to himself as he reached his own trailer.



"Hold on! Christ! Who__?"

Richard lurched back after he opened the trailer's door to allow Gray to barge past him.

"Shit, Gray! Where's the fire?!"

Rich scrubbed at his face as he tried to settle his nerves after the racket Graham had awakened him with. The man was certifiable, Rich thought now as he took in the other man's belligerent stance.

Graham's own formidable eyebrows were covered by Dwalin's fake brow but a man on a galloping horse could see he wasn't happy at all.

Rich sighed. "Okay, what did I do - or didn't do - now!"

Massive forearms crossed over his leather-clad chest, Gray stared at him. "You are a pathetic king," he spat, startling Richard.

However, he simply turned away without responding to that last bit of crazy to go grab a shower. It was much too early for this shit and he had to hurry if he was going find some coffee before getting rigged out as Thorin.

Gray turned as he watched his friend relentlessly. "I know you're no Casanova, mate - but when did you turn into a pussy?"

Rich spun around and gaped at his friend, his brain going completely offline.

Gray simply huffed in frustration, threw his huge hands up in the air and turned to leave the trailer.

"Never mind - you'll see soon enough!" He snarled and left the trailer, Rich watching him with his mouth hanging agape.

Ninety minutes later, when he walked onto the set, Rich had an uneasy feeling that he understood what Gray had meant.

There, standing beside Lee was a relatively tall, very fit bloke whose sharp white teeth flashed in the morning light as he grinned admiringly up at Lee. As Richard watched, the guy glanced over at him and his face lit up in a smile. Lee turned, saw Rich and raised a hand in greeting.

"Richard, hi!"

Reluctantly, Rich trudged over to the two who were already in costume, as well, and stopped beside them. "Morning, Lee," he said reservedly, noticing how closely the new guy was standing to the Elven King. He clearly hadn't heard about 'personal space', Rich bitched to himself.

Lee grinned his customary highway-wide grin at him and then indicated the newcomer. "Hey, meet the newest arrival. This is another Brit," he said, his voice warm. "Luke Evans."


Chapter Text

Luke Evans - the name sounded somewhat familiar to Richard, and well it should. It turned out the Welshman was a fellow Thespian, although he was closer to Lee's age than his.

The three of them stood about, chatting desultorily while they watched Peter marshaling the forces for the day's shooting.

People moved around busily; the three of them were human boulders diverting the stream's flow around them. Richard never grew tired of the organised chaos that was a film set. It was nothing like backstage of a theatre, even on opening night of a well-known play.

He listened as Luke and Lee bantered; one would never believe the two had just met, they were already so chummy.

Suddenly, Luke laughed as Lee stared at him, a mischievous gleam strangely not out of place in Thranduil's striking eyes. Richard tuned back into the conversation.

"No, I'm not stereotyping you!" Lee was very nearly giggling as he poked Luke's arm. They were flirting, Rich was sure of it, and he frowned as he waited for Luke to respond.

"Aw, come on! Not all Welshmen sing... where'd you hear that?" He laughed as Lee blushed, and then he turned to Rich and said, "Back me up here - did you used to hear that, too?"

Richard, a little startled to be suddenly included in the conversation, shrugged and looked at Lee. "I have heard something like that, yes."

Luke's eyes widened but he laughed along with Lee who then turned to point dramatically at Luke. "See, see, I knew I must have heard it somewhere. So, 'fess up! You do sing, right?"

More giggling from the two made Richard want to roll his eyes. If he did, though, he knew he'd come across as a grumpy old sod.

He looked over at a group of actors, all the dwarves of The Fellowship plus the one Hobbit, and his glance collided with Graham's. The man had such a focused, intent look on his face that Rich mouthed, 'What?!' at him.

Gray did roll his eyes, exasperation clear even beneath the fake eyebrows, and turned back to his own group. Richard pondered if he should just go over and join them and leave Lee and Luke to their mutual admiration society.

Soon enough, though, the day's work started in earnest and Rich had no time to worry if Lee was interested or not. The presence of the Welsh actor dampened his spirit a bit but that actually helped him portray Thorin Oakenshield at his irascible best.

When Thorin had to interact with the Bargeman, whom Luke was portraying, it was not difficult to summon the necessary prideful demeanour peculiar to the Dwarf King. Thorin was an arrogant bastard to everyone, even his nephews, but Rich did wonder if there was a bit of bleed-over from his own feelings.

Certainly he had just met Lee the day before so no one - not even Gray - could expect him to make a move on Lee already. He knew some people saw the industry as little more than an extended dating pool but he had never been one of them.

He sighed as Peter had them run through a scene - for what felt like the fiftieth time - with Martin Freeman. The scene had Thorin being a bit of an arse toward the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and it was draining him.

"Okay, people, we'll pick up from here tomorrow!" Peter waved an absent hand at everyone as he stared at a playback with Andy and a couple of the tech people. Rich barely held back a sigh of relief.

It was not easy to spend hours and hours in the heavy garments and prosthetics while running around rough terrain. They were all tired and hungry and would love a pint or two; no doubt Gray would come and drag him out of his trailer to go and catch a bite as soon as they had all changed.

Rich looked up and couldn't suppress a tiny smile as Lee sauntered up to him. He had already changed out of his costume and the blond wig, thankfully, and Rich waited for him to speak.

"So, what do you all do for fun around this place?" Lee grinned down at Rich and fell into step beside him as they left the set.

Rich shrugged beneath the jacket of his costume and threw a soft look at the younger man.

"Well, I'm kind of boring; I read a lot - sometimes scripts my agent sends me - and if I'm not working out I'm listening to music."

Lee looked at him, a teasing glint in his moss-green eyes. "What? You mean no club-hopping, bed-hopping, pranks on set?!"

Rich chuckled. "Oh, I'm certain there's a bit of that but not too much. This production takes a lot out of us - physically, I mean."

Lee's head nodded as he agreed. "Yeah, if today was anything to go by... Peter ran us ragged - and we've only just started!"

They smiled at each other and as Rich moved toward his trailer, Lee touched his forearm lightly.

"Ahm, would you want to go eat somewhere? My treat," he added hastily and Richard's stomach tensed. Huh? Was this a date?

"Yes, I would, thanks," he wasted no time in answering. "There are a couple of good places not far from here," he added and smiled, feeling more than pleased.

"Cool! I'll swing by in. .. " Lee paused as he considered Rich's costumed form. "Is half an hour good?"

Rich nodded, the smile growing, and he watched as Lee sped off, presumably back to his own trailer. He was such a big kid, Rich thought fondly, and then entered his trailer.


He barely managed to be ready in the allotted half hour but when Lee returned, Richard was happy he'd taken the time to shave. He'd also chosen to wear an indigo sweater that someone had told him made his eyes seem more blue than grey.

Lee, he was happy to see, was wearing black from head to toe with only a bit of his white T-shirt showing at the base of his long neck. The black jeans made his already long legs positively eye-catching.

Richard knew that most people thought he was straight and as he headed over to the motor pool to get a car, he wondered if Lee thought that as well. Two blokes could 'hang out', as the Yanks say, without it being romantic so he wondered if he needed to let Lee know, up front, that he was interested.

That thought occupied him to the point where he almost didn't catch Lee's question.

"You asked who?" Rich hoped he'd heard wrong but Lee repeated himself.

"Luke... Do you mind if he came along? I said I didn't think you'd mind but I should have mentioned it."

Rich cleared his throat and answered as casually as he could, although he wasn't happy with this development. "No, no, that's okay." He tried a little smile even though it may have looked a bit sickly. "That's kind of you, helping him to get settled and all."

The beaming smile he got at that almost made him feel like a bastard because Lee obviously had no idea he wished Luke would just disappear. He got behind the wheel of the rather nice motor and drew a deep breath as Lee buckled into the passenger seat.

"So, where's Luke now?" Rich tried not to look too long at Lee's profile but it was difficult. That was a really nice face but he didn't want to come across as a letch, always staring.

Lee, unaware of Richard's mild discomfort, turned to him and pointed in the direction of the trailers to the west of where his and Richard's were. "He said it's along that row - but he should be waiting outside..."

Yes, he was. Richard stopped the car and watched as Luke, after a quick wave in greeting, came over and got in the back, behind Rich.

The Welshman was casually dressed, just as the others, but somehow he made the pale, tight, washed-out jeans and black leather jacket look smart and high fashion. Richard's mood sank a little more.

The two younger men chatted the entire way to the restaurant and Rich was glad when they all headed inside.

They waited for the hostess to seat the couple before them and when she returned, holding three large leather menu folders, she did a double-take when she realised who they were. A faint blush coloured her cheeks but while Rich and Luke ignored it politely, Lee went into panty-dropper mode.

Luke chuckled as he watched the poor woman, obviously dazzled by Lee, try to remain professional as she led them to a table. Rich, however, felt a little over-warm and suspected he knew just how the poor woman felt. A Lee Pace set on charm, level 10, was nigh impossible to resist or ignore.

Finally seated, Rich cleared his throat and asked: "I hope you like Italian?"

Predictably, Lee laughed and Luke simply smiled wider but it was Lee who answered, his tone teasing. "It's a little late to be asking!"

Rich dropped his head but shrugged apologetically. "For some reason, the really good places are either Italian or Chinese." He looked at Lee from beneath his lashes. "It's a long shoot... "

There. That should make it quite clear that he intended to do this again - but hopefully just the two of them.

He opened his menu and pretended to concentrate on his selections but he was hyper aware of the other men as they, too, opened their menus.

"So, what's good," Luke asked and Richard looked at him coolly.

"I have to say it's all good. I'm partial to pasta of any variety, their meat sauces are great and, or course, the seafood is world-class."

"Wow, if I weren't already hungry, that would have done it," Lee breathed as he stared at Rich, eyes wide.

"Mmmm, yes - I think I'll go for the linguine and clams," Luke announced, appearing to be one step away from drooling.

Rich found himself relaxing and he smiled as the other two batted ideas around. Then he told them, "Oh, and leave room for their home-made gelato... It's the best way to finish a meal here."

He barely held back a smug grin as the two men gaped at him. He was obviously in the company of fellow food lovers, he laughed to himself.

Their waiter came just then and Rich asked for a carafe of the house red to go with the antipasto plate for starters but thought it best they had water with the actual meal.

The others nodded intently, like students listening to their professor, and then they placed their orders when their server returned.

As Rich had said, everything was excellent but they didn't gorge themselves. After all, they would have to be able to fit as well in their costumes on the last day of the shoot as on the first.

Finally, as they spooned up the last of their gelato, Lee looked at Rich with shining eyes.

"This - right here - has got to be the best I've ever had..."

Rich had to glance away as his filthy brain just took a dive into the gutter and his face flushed. "Uhm, glad you_"

Luke interjected, slightly accusing, "I'm going to have to wake up even earlier now to work all this off!"

Rich actually laughed at that as Lee nodded in agreement with Luke and narrowed his eyes. "Too true," he murmured. "You're a dangerous man, Mr. Armitage."

God, Rich really liked Lee's voice and he looked down at his hands so he wouldn't stare at him. It would be too embarrassing if he gave himself away too soon.

"Well, I'm just paying it forward, as this is where Peter, Fran and Philippa took me on my first night here."

Lee held his eyes as he nodded slowly, looking playful as usual. "Yeah, okay, I have to remember that - about 'paying it forward'..."

Richard could see Luke glancing between him and Lee because that sentence had sounded all kinds of flirty.

They all looked up when their waiter brought the folder with their bill inside and Rich grabbed it before the others could react. "My treat tonight - your turns will come," he said as he slipped his credit card inside the folder.

"Oh, but," Lee started, frowning, and then shrugged as he gave in. "Okay, I'm doing the tip, then!"

His tone was so triumphant that both Luke and Rich had to laugh, with Luke looking near-smitten. "Okay, knock yourself out!"

Richard hadn't been so sure how he felt about Luke but, throughout their meal, the other man had been nothing but charming, talking about his childhood and his passion for performing. His drive and ambition had led to him getting a scholarship to theatre school in London and Rich had to admit that he was impressed. The Welshman was handsome but not full of himself and seemed genuinely pleased to be on The Hobbit set.

Lee, too, had shared a bit about his background and even though Rich knew much of it already, he could listen to Lee talk for hours - literally.

When it was his turn to open up a bit, he'd turned red when Lee had hooted, "Sir Guy of Gisborne" and Rich had dragged a hand down his face when Luke, too, crowed: "Spooks!"

Oh, gawd. He thought he was having dinner with colleagues but they sounded more like fanboys, Rich groaned.

The laughter was kind, though, and Rich had to admit he'd enjoyed himself.

They left the restaurant and headed to the car, which wasn't parked too far away, and an idea struck Rich. When they reached the vehicle, he smiled, looked at Lee a little challengingly, and asked, "Want to drive back?"

Rich and Luke laughed as Lee's eyes widened comically. "What? Me?! No!" He lifted his hands, palms outward as if to ward off Rich. "You crazy people drive on the wrong side of the road, man!"

Luke was bent over, laughing his head off, but Rich tried in vain to suppress his chuckles. Lee was so unintentionally funny and Rich felt himself falling deeper.

"Awww, get into the car," Rich told the gangly American. "I'm going to get you behind the wheel one of these days."

As Lee slid once again into the passenger seat, he grinned at Richard. "That a threat?"

With Luke still chuckling in the backseat, Rich stole a fond glance at Lee. "No, a promise."

Thick lashes fell coyly as Lee murmured, "Hmmm, I like promises."

Rich felt his throat constrict at the sultry tone but he simply smiled and started the engine but he noticed that Luke had gone quiet behind him.

The drive back to their 'trailer park' was quiet, with just the occasional comment about the exceptional meal they'd just had and Rich relaxed.

When he dropped Luke off back at his trailer, he thanked both Rich and Lee for a great evening.

They all agreed it had been fun and, with another wave, Luke headed into his trailer as he called out good night.

Rich waited until Luke's door closed before he drove over to the car park, Lee quiet beside him. When he left the car in the lot, Lee fell into step beside him, and lifted his head to sniff the night air.

"Mmmm, the night is so mild here," he murmured and Rich smiled because nighttime was his favourite part of the day.

"It took me a while to get used to the different stars," he offered, trying not to look at Lee too often, as he'd done the night before.

They got to Lee's door first and, once again, Richard waited for him to unlock it. As he was about to bid him goodnight, though, Lee cleared his throat.

"Want to come in for a bit... coffee, maybe?"

There was the tone again, Richard thought distractedly but he managed to get himself together and answer like an intelligent adult.

"Thanks, but I've got a couple of calls to make back home. Raincheck?" Rich held his breath as he waited, hoping Lee wasn't put off.

Lee's lashes shadowed his eyes in the low light because the moon hadn't yet reached the same angle as the night before.

Without a word, though, he leaned down slightly and brushed a light kiss against Rich's cheek.

"Okay - thanks for a very nice evening." He smiled at Rich's wide eyes. "We should do this again."

Then he skipped up the trailer's steps, called "good night" and was inside before Rich could respond.

Yes! Rich found himself staring at the closed door, grinning like a loon. If that kiss hadn't meant Lee found him attractive, he didn't know anything, then.

He chuckled to himself as he headed to his own trailer. He couldn't wait to rub that bit of info in Gray's face.

Slow and steady, lad, slow and steady.


Chapter Text

The shoot continued apace and everyone gave a hundred per cent to the effort. Working with the great Peter Jackson was fantastic, they all agreed, but there were also quite a few first-class veterans working on the film.

Sir Ian McKellen was like the Professor Emeritus to the younger cast. His knowledge of the Tolkien books was positively encyclopaedic and Rich often found himself in deep discussions with the older actor. Sir Ian actually kept a battered copy of The Hobbit tucked into a pocket of whatever jacket or hoodie he happened to be wearing.

Richard had had a thing for the lovely and frighteningly talented Cate Blanchett for years and just to be able to watch her work with Peter and Sir Ian was a huge turn on. As to the other 'Dwarves', Rich couldn't remember the last time he'd had so much fun on a set, watching people - Aidan and Dean, especially - make fools of themselves. Remarkably, they all managed to get through most of the shoot without anyone injuring himself too severely.

The production team as well as the award-winning workshop, WETA, manufactured the sets, props, costumes and prosthetics at an incredible pace and Rich was in awe of the lot of them. Especially WETA, the members of whom cranked out bows, arrows, swords, cudgels, staffs - everything - and built them to practically each actor's physical specifications.

One day, Rich happened to be on set even though he didn't have a scene, just in time to see one of the WETA chaps present Lee with Thranduil's sword. Actually, the Elven King used two swords but this first one was a beauty.

Rich watched as Lee crowed over the weapon and practiced swinging and twirling it. All the actors had had fight training alongside their usual fitness workouts - for which Rich was hugely grateful - so Lee looked extremely proficient as he gloated over how well the beautiful sword handled.

Half the folks on the set had stopped to watch the spectacle as 'Thranduil', resplendent in his flowing robes, moved fluidly through the katas, his long hair swinging in a pale, sexy arc.

"God, Peter, this is great!" Lee grinned at the director who was stood watching the actor with an indulgent, almost fatherly, look on his face.

Just then, Rich looked over to see Luke, dressed as Bard, watching Lee with an expression that was nowhere near familial. If he wouldn't have felt like a hypocrite, Rich could have been annoyed at the Welsh actor's obvious attraction to the tall American. As it was, Rich couldn't blame the man at all.

When the WETA chap came to retrieve Thranduil's sword to put on some finishing touches, Rich had to suppress a chuckle at the pout on Lee's face.

'I can give you something to play with,' flashed in Rich's mind and, shocked at such a filthy thought, he looked away from Lee. Naturally, Gray was standing close enough to Rich to almost sense his sudden discomfort and he turned to him.

"Magnificent bastard, isn't he?" Gray's low mutter brought heat to Richard's face and he wondered if he could get away with pretending ignorance.

It was a lost cause, though, because Gray knew everything about him and he had proved a helpful sounding board over the weeks since Rich had met Lee.

Now he shook his head, a wry grin behind Thorin's beard that made him look typically sad. "He's kinda young..."

Immediately Gray pinned him with a glare. "Oh, no, laddie, you are not going to pull that shit now!"

Rich moved away to a quieter part of the set and waited as Gray stalked towards him, brows in a fearsome frown.

"You can't be getting cold feet - not now," the older man castigated Rich. "Didn't you guys go clubbing t'other night?"

Rich managed a very faint grin but nodded. "Yeah, with half the cast and crew..."

Gray frowned. "Oh," and then looked puzzled. "Ya had fun, though? He danced with you half the night, I heard_"

"You heard!" His eyes wide in dismay, Rich stared at his friend. "Heard how, who_?!"

Gray, for one of the very few times in his life, actually looked sheepish. "Who else - the Terror Twins, of course."

Rich dropped his head in resignation and groaned. If Dean and Aidan were talking about him and Lee, it was a pretty fair bet that other people were, too.

Gray dropped a heavy hand on Rich's shoulder. "If it's any consolation, they said Lee danced with a lot of other folks, too, including his 'friend', Luke."

Rich knew Gray well enough to hear the quotes around the word 'friend'. "What's that supposed to mean," he asked, voice hard as he slipped into Thorin-mode.

Gray narrowed his eyes, almost channeling Dwalin, and retorted, "He danced - and had fun - something I'm beginning to believe you've forgotten ... how ... to do!"

Rich backed down and dropped his head, acknowledging he could never out-alpha his old friend. He sighed and then said, quietly, "He just seems so young, y'know?"

Gray almost yelped in exasperation, "Five years, mon, five fecking years! Tha's nothing!"

Rich's eyelashes fluttered as he tried to hold back a grin because Gray was so funny when he was getting his steam up. "Do Tolkien dwarves have Scottish accents," he twitted the other man and relaxed when he saw reluctant amusement replace the anger.

"Well, we have a Welsh bargeman and everyone else sounds like poncy Brits or Kiwis!"

They both burst out laughing, never able to stay annoyed with each other for too long.

Rich sobered slowly and then muttered, "Eight."

Gray looked at him, puzzled. "What?"

"It's actually eight years," Richard explained, "not five..."

"What's five," came Lee's voice from behind them as the actor strolled up.

Both Rich and Gray gaped, caught off-guard but they were saved from scrabbling for an answer with the arrival of Lee's shadow.

"So, you're okay for the weekend?" Luke looked intently at Lee after giving the other men the briefest of nods to acknowledge their presence.

Lee, however, glanced at Rich with a gleam in his eye and a quirk of his pretty lips. "I'm going on my first-ever tour of the countryside this Saturday... our first full day off." Rich stared entranced as thick black lashes lowered and quickly lifted to pin him to the spot. "I think you should come with."

Ever since Lee had brushed that little kiss on his cheek the night they had gone out to eat, Rich had tried not to read anything deep into the other man's actions. Most people in their line of work were demonstrative by nature - Lee just seemed a little more so. In fact, as actors go, the American was at the other end of the spectrum from Rich himself who was firmly entrenched at the end labeled 'taciturn'.

Now, though, despite Lee's obvious enthusiasm, Rich was not sure he'd be welcome, if Luke's briefly annoyed look was anything to go by. However_

"Yeh, go on, get out of that bleedin' trailer, mon! You don't go anywhere, do anythin', God almighty!" With that Gray stalked off, bellowing at Aidan and Dean as he went.

The three stared after him, a little stunned, and then Lee turned back to Rich with a plea in his eyes.

Rich took a deep breath before he nodded. "Okay - yes, I'll come on this wonderful tour of the New Zealad countryside with you." He made sure to shift his eyes to include Luke.

"Excellent!" Lee clapped his hands in his customary hyperactive way and grinned, pleased. "Yes, we're gonna have a tour guide and we'll stop and eat somewhere and I'll get tons of photos!"

He whirled away, all white blond locks and silver robes, his long legs in Thranduil's knee-high boots giving Rich all sorts of blood pressure-raising ideas.

Luke glanced at Rich, appeared to read his mind, and then smiled knowingly at the older man. "A force of nature, that one."

Rich acknowledged the truth of that with a flick of his eyebrows and then stared at the other man who did not look away.

The odd little silence held and then Luke held his hand out. "May the best man, eh?"

Rich looked at the hand for a second and then grasped it. "Yeah, that," he murmured.

With a last little smile, Luke left him there to wonder what the hell had just happened. Had he slipped into a parallel world where he and the Welshman just acknowledged they were in competition for Lee's 'hand'?

Rich stared after the retreating figure and then blinked. What the f___?!


Chapter Text

Friday evening found Rich mentally wringing his hands and wondering if he could gracefully back out of the sightseeing trip with Lee and Luke the next day. He knew, though, that Gray would have a lot to say - loudly and profanely - if he even tried.

Rich knew that Lee didn't deserve such treatment, though, and the last thing he wanted to do was cause that light in the man's striking eyes to dim. Rich wasn't being conceited in thinking that; at this point, everyone knew Lee liked him. The man was an open book as he often sought Rich out in between takes just to 'hang out'.

Film sets were often a hotbed for fast-developing relationships, romantic and otherwise. Some even managed to put down deep enough roots to survive the return to reality when the film wrapped but, too often, that was not the case. The tabloids were full of stories of actors who got on hot and heavy as filming went on, only to never see each other or even speak, except for the obligatory publicity junket, post-production clean-up like looping or dubbing or, God forbid, re-shooting of scenes.

Anyway, Richard was an introvert and despite his deepening attraction to his sexy co-star, he cautioned himself that, no matter how long Peter kept them there, all this would eventually come to an end. His agent had other things lined up for him and Lee's would be doing the same. Their lives would diverge but, if they were lucky, they would at least stay in touch - as friends.

It was a struggle not to hope for something more between them, especially as Lee had started dropping by Rich's trailer unannounced. He would ensconce his long body on the couch, lounging and spread out as if totally unaware of the effort it took Rich to keep his hands off him.

They would chat about everything - life, family and jobs but mostly about their characters' motivations and development. Rich loved those discussions, not only for the intellectual stimulation but for the insight into Lee's mind. The younger man was highly intelligent - which was as much a turn on as his slender, muscular body and handsome face.

As to the upcoming day trip, it was going to be a huge test of Rich's resolve, having to spend the whole day in the other man's company. It did help him, though, to remember that, with Luke along as well, nothing even remotely romantic would happen.

'Romantic', pffft. His mind scoffed at him for being old-fashioned enough to use that word, even if it was just in his head, rather than the more accurate one. Sexual. There, he admitted it; he wanted to 'know' Lee intimately, thoroughly and often.

It wouldn't be his first time, getting involved with a co-star. The artificially closed little world of a film set lent itself to these liaisons. It was natural; one just had to try to be as discreet as possible and respectful of others' sensibilities. Gossip was rife, too, and Rich tried never to provide fodder for the salacious speculations that naturally arose when people were seen disappearing into other folks' trailers at all hours of the night and day.

Rich sighed as he got into his tiny shower; maybe if he hadn't been over six feet tall and adequately muscled, the stall wouldn't seem so small. He scrubbed quickly but his prick was getting ready for a little attention, especially because he'd just been thinking of Lee.

He dropped one hand down and fondled himself, enjoying the mild burn in his gut. He moved his head back out of the water's flow, closed his eyes and tightened his grip. At least his libido was healthy, he thought vaguely as he sped up his hand movement, but this one would have to be quick and dirty.

He thought of Lee seeing him like this and hardened even more, his bollocks drawing up as he grew more aroused. Lee's luscious mouth made him want to do very naughty things involving other eager body parts.

'Oh, yes, just like that,' he groaned, and ran a thumb over the swollen head. 'Mmm...'

"Rich! Richard? You here?"

Shit! Jesus Chri__! The shock of hearing Lee's voice almost right outside his bathroom door was as bad as if the shower spray had suddenly turned ice cold.

"Lee?! Ugh, I-I'll be r-right out!"

It sounded as if Lee had moved away as he replied casually: "Okay, no need to hurry... I'm just returning your book."

Rich dropped his head down, his chin almost to his chest, and let out a huff. He hoped seriously that lousy timing wasn't going to be a factor in anything Lee and he started. Reluctant amusement helped to bring his heart rate down and he hurried to finish up.

He grabbed his towelling robe and struggled into it, realising belatedly that his clothes were in the main room, and drew on all his acting abilities so as to appear unhurried.

With a small towel to rub some of the excess moisture from his hair, Rich managed to saunter unconcernedly towards his guest.

When Lee looked up, he almost did a double-take, his eyes wide but twinkling. "Wow, that water must have been hot!"

Rich raised an eyebrow, puzzled but kind of used by now to Lee's conversational non sequiturs.

Lee laughed and pointed one long finger at Rich's face. "The shower? Your face is so flushed - your cheeks are red!"

Rich spun toward the small dresser and tried to avoid looking at himself in its mirror because he just knew he'd be embarrassed all over again.

He tried distraction. "So, uhm, how was the book...?"

He slid his boxer briefs up under the robe and prayed Lee wasn't staring at his hairy, matchstick-thin legs.

Lee chuckled and replied: "I gotta admit, I didn't see you as a Sci-Fi fan - but this was good, actually!"

Rich, having almost leaped into his sweats, turned and grinned at the younger man. "Yeh, what did you see me liking - autobiographies and history books?"

Lee's lashes lowered flirtatiously - as usual, the boy couldn't seem to help himself, Rich marveled - and smiled up at him. "Oh, I know you like Shakespeare - you're a Brit, after all!"

Rich dropped onto the couch beside Lee and their laughter was loud as he pretended to whap Lee with the hand towel. "What's with you and these stereotypes?!"

Lee giggled and Rich was entranced all over again. Seriously, the guy should come with a warning label: CAUTION: Bad For Your Libido!

Their chuckles slowed and finally Lee shook his head, mischief in his green eyes. "I've found that when I trot out these ridiculous, relatively harmless comments, people hurry to disabuse me of the notion - an ice-breaker, of sorts."

Rich, perhaps unwisely, looked at the smiling lips so near to him and then directly up at Lee: "But - you've already broken the ice with me..."

Silence stretched ... and then: "Jesus, Richard...!" and somehow, suddenly, they were kissing.

Rich was known the world over as a shy guy who tended to move at near glacial speeds. This time, however, he wasted no time in hauling Lee halfway onto him; he slid his hand behind the other man's neck and tugged, getting a deep, sexy moan out of him.

His tongue found a slick, teasing counterpart to play with and then he pulled back to nibble on Lee's fuller bottom lip before he went back in for more of the sweet heat. The sounds issuing from Lee's throat were seriously porno-worthy, Richard thought absently

Lee had slid his hands in the parting of the robe and that was when Rich realised he hadn't yet put on a shirt. When Lee pulled back, panting, to look down at Rich beneath him, his eyes were very dark, heated and very pleased.

Rich glanced down and saw the tenting of his sweat pants, his prick was straining so much.

"Mmmm, yes," Lee breathed and moved one hand to brush against the cloth-covered bulge, causing Rich's hips to jerk. "Fuck, you're so hot, babe... I wish I could..."

Rich had been stroking a thumb along Lee's chin and moist bottom lip but stopped. "You wish... what?"

With a parting brush to Rich's package - and Rich had to bite back a groan at how good that felt - Lee straightened up and then ran a hand over the back of his head.

"I'd actually come by to ask you if you wanted to come out with the group tonight..." He grimaced slightly because he knew Rich well enough now to know he really didn't like rowdy crowds, but he'd been delegated by the Terror Twins to ask.

Rich couldn't believe this was happening. Finally - Finally! - he had got Lee to where they'd at least showed definite sexual interest in each other and he was being cockblocked by a bunch of overgrown kids?!

He closed his eyes briefly and then looked up into Lee's apologetic face with a wry smile. "No, but I'll think of you dancing like a crazy person while I stay here and 'read Shakespeare'."

Lee threw his head back and laughed; Rich admired the long smooth throat that was thusly exposed and leaned up to place a quick kiss at its base.

Lee let out a light gasp and then leaned down to place a sweet, lingering kiss on Rich's mouth. He stood, one hand running down Rich's forearm to entwine their fingers and he said, softly: "I've been waiting and waiting, y'know..."

Rich rose from the couch and slid his arms around Lee's slender waist. "I know, I'm sorry..."

Lee kissed him again and then pulled away. "If you don't want that horde hollerin' outside your door, I gotta go..."

Rich stepped back and nodded, his eyes lingering on Lee's blush-pink lips. "Promise me something?"

Lee had the door opened partway but he turned back, a smile in his eyes. "What?"

"Don't kiss anyone else tonight..."


Chapter Text

It was hell watching them but he didn't have a choice.

Rich was walking beside their tour guide as Lee and Luke walked ahead of them, their chatter and laughter floating back on the clear bright air.

Having stayed up fairly late, hoping Lee would come back to finish what they had started earlier, Rich hadn't fallen asleep until the wee hours.

That had been unwise because now he felt a little sleep-deprived and a lot grumpy. It wasn't Lee's fault but Rich still felt a little annoyed that the other man hadn't picked up on the mental 'vibes' he'd sent his way.

Now, as he watched the long, shorts-clad legs of the younger men up ahead, he had to give himself a mental shake. If he wasn't careful, his moodiness would push Lee away - straight into Luke's muscular, ready arms.

He huffed unconsciously at the melodrama that was his mind these days and the guide turned to him, faint concern in her blue eyes.

"We can stop - have a water break - if you like?"

Rich felt himself flush but replied quietly: "Ugh, no, I'm okay, thanks." He gave her the polite but charming smile he reserved for interviewers and watched her turn pink. "I just remembered something and was mentally kicking myself!"

She laughed at that, probably a little excessively, but he was accustomed to women reacting like that to him.

"Rich! Stop flirting with our guide, damnit!"

Lee's loud laughing voice jerked his head up and it was Rich's turn to redden as he saw Lee and Luke smirking back at them.

Their guide, Kelsie, simply laughed and tossed her ponytail playfully. "Oh, come on; can't a girl get some flirting in?!"

They all laughed at that but Rich's eyes caught Lee's and noticed that the smile didn't quite seem to reach his eyes.

Luke, though, seemed to take it all on the surface. "You can't have all the pretty ones to yourself, Lee!" He laughed and poked Lee in his side, causing the gangly American to giggle. They turned back to the path and the moment passed.

Richard, however, pondered on the look he swore he'd seen lurking behind Lee's affable expression. Could he? Was he? 'Nah,' Rich's Graham voice mocked him, 'the lad was not jealous of the tour guide.' That would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

Yet, Rich's heart lightened a tad and his lips quirked; he barely heard a word Kelsie was spouting dutifully about the habitat they were exploring.

Lee, being passionate about the environment and endangered species both flora and fauna, had wanted this outing. As he'd explained on the car ride to the beautiful park, it was a great way to stretch their legs as well as learn something new.

It was a perfect day so far and Rich, barely hearing Kelsie, marveled at the clarity of the air, thinking a little unpatriotically that nothing in his home country could compare.

In the back of his mind he registered that the earlier playful banter between the two younger men seemed to have quieted into a serious discussion and Rich, naturally, wondered what they were talking about.

Rich tuned in to Kelsie to ask in his mild way, "So, Peter comes here often then?"

Kelsie laughed and nodded, setting her ponytail swinging again. "Oh, yes, he's actually used a part of it to set his Hobbit town, yeah?"

Rich was a little chagrined; he really should have known that! He smiled at the laughing girl, though. "It's all so beautiful here, so breathtaking - What can you expect from a stodgy Englishman?"

Kelsie pooh-poohed the stodgy bit but added, her blues sparkling up at him: "You simply need to leave the movie set more often: do more sightseeing."

Rich, shy as he was, knew that was flirty girl-code for: "I'd be happy to show you about," but he simply said, "You're right; I'll definitely demand more free time of Peter!"

They laughed at that and continued on the winding paths, absorbing the beautiful scenery and fantastic views. They managed to dodge the folks on their mountain bikes and, finally, Lee announced he was hungry - of course.

They'd packed a picnic lunch which was in their knapsack and, after they chose the optimum spot for lounging, placed the spread of sandwiches, fruits and drinks, including water, on the blanket Luke had brought.

They ended up sitting at the four corners of the blanket and as they waded into their lunch, they quizzed their poor guide about everything they'd seen.

She was a good sport, though, and managed to put away her share of the repast even as she answered them.

Finally, Lee declared: "I'm definitely gonna do this again!"

The others, even Rich, nodded in agreement and Kelsie beamed at them. "That'd be great, guys! There are other parks, though, so if you're around for much longer, you can get to explore most of them."

The chatter after that centred mostly around speculating on how much more free time they'd get, where it was feasible to visit and whether any of the other folks would be interested.

Luke chuckled at one point. "I think a hike would definitely use up some of Dean and Aidan's energy!" and his colleagues laughed in agreement.

At Kelsie's look of curiosity, Rich explained that the two actors played his nephews in the movies and had far too much energy for grown men. Said energy was expended mostly on pulling pranks and getting into everyone's business.

Lunch finished and packed away again, they all agreed they should head back to the carpark. The walk up the hill had been great but the trip back down, especially after they'd just eaten, probably wouldn't be as fascinating. Plus, Lee would probably turn up to 'hang out' with Rich later and that prospect was very welcome. The return trip wasn't very tedious after all.


Sleep tugged at him, but Rich resisted. He was determined to finish the novel that Lee had returned to him the night before. It wasn't that it was uninteresting; no, his problem was that his mind just kept going back to their little outing.

The three of them had returned to their 'trailer park' after coming back from Mount Victoria, healthy colour gilding their skin, and each had gone to his own place.

Lee had given him a sweet little smile, a wave and a "Later!" Luke had also smiled but had seemed a little preoccupied. Rich had waved them off with his own reserved smile and he noticed neither of them had said anything about meeting up the next day. Weekends were treasured - a time when they could catch up on laundry, correspondence, whatever.

He had quite enjoyed the time in the fresh air, even more because Lee had so obviously enjoyed himself and Rich had gotten an eyeful of that body. Lee wasn't overly muscular; in fact, Luke had a slightly more muscled look than either Lee or him. The shorts the two of them had chosen to wear - Lee's was khaki and Luke's black cotton - were practical and not particularly haute. Still, the bodies they adorned had garnered quite a few admiring glances throughout the day and Kelsie had preened at times when she noticed other people eyeing their small group.

Rich smiled, laid the book aside and stretched. He had been hard put himself not to brush his hand against Lee unnecessarily more than once when they would end up strolling side-by-side. Richard had enjoyed the occasional toothy grin the younger man kept throwing his way and, all in all, Rich had had a very good time.

As he relaxed into the couch, his head lolling on the back, a soft rap came against the door. He lifted his head, his eyebrows quirking a bit, and called, "Come?"

When Lee's head appeared and he came up the steps into the trailer, Rich relaxed and teased, "I thought you'd thrown me over to go 'hang' with the younger set..."

Lee simply stared intently at him. Rich sobered a bit and started to wonder what was wrong, Lee was being unusually quiet.

Without a word, Lee reached for Rich's hand and, his expression closer to Thranduil's than his own, pulled Rich up from the couch.

Rich was honestly not to used to someone who was several inches taller than him but the vague thought scattered when Lee's mouth came down firmly on his.

The kiss the night before could not have prepared him for the way Lee was eating at his mouth.

Surprised and incredibly aroused, Rich could only grasp at the broad shoulders and moan. The sound seemed to break Lee out of whatever place he had been in his head; he pulled back slightly and gentled the kiss.

Their lips clung but Richard could feel Lee withdrawing so, with a nip and final kiss, Rich allowed him to back away. Not very far, however, because Lee's hands still kept hold of his hips. Rich slid his hands down his chest and then smiled at Lee, taking in the attractive flush on his cheeks.

Lee's thick lashes came down to shutter his eyes briefly and then he looked at Rich, a smile in one corner of his mouth.

"I didn't, y'know..."

Rich blinked... and blinked again. "Pardon...?"

Lee chuckled and shook his head. "So veddy British," he murmured, but then he looked at Rich with soft eyes and explained.

"Last night? I didn't kiss anyone else."


Chapter Text

Rich felt the flush go through his body and centre in his loins, hardening so fast he was dizzy.

Lee blushed as he took in the intensity of the other man's reaction to the seemingly innocuous words. He couldn't help it, he had to kiss him again.

Rich stepped back, though, but not very far, and pulled Lee the few steps to his bed.

They let out huffy laughter as they fell onto the furniture and then Lee, who had come to rest half on, half off of Rich, smiled.

"You have no idea how very sexy you are, do you?" He grinned as Rich's lashes dropped in his usual shy way. "How do you get to be so famous and not be big-headed?"

Rich held back a snort but smirked anyway. "You don't know that's true..."

Lee looked puzzled for all of five seconds before it dawned on him what Rich meant. When he got it, he let out a soft chuckle and shook his head.

"Okay, and there I was, thinking the gene for bawdy British humor had bypassed you!"

They laughed softly, all the while with Lee stroking his hand across Rich's stomach, just shy of where Rich actually wanted his hand.

He brushed a thumb on Lee's lower lip and murmured, "I love your mouth - so pretty..."

Lee nipped the thumb and then grinned at him. "My girlfriends in high school used to say they were jealous of my lashes... I thought they were nuts."

Rich tried to look dispassionately at the face before him, which was not easy to do, but he nodded. "While I wouldn't say you are effeminate, some of your features are delicate - which I quite happen to like."

They stared at each other a moment later and then moved together simultaneously, lips meeting and clinging softly.

What started out soft and slow inevitably heated up and within moments, Lee was grinding his hardness into the matching one beneath him.

The low sounds of groans and gasps would leave no one in doubt as to either of their enjoyment but, Rich, being a difficult sod, pulled back and placed a hand on Lee's chest.

"Uhm," he looked up hesitantly at the younger man who was naturally puzzled that they had stopped. "I am_ Look, Lee... You know I'm a bit older than you...?"

Lee sat up fully but left his hand on Rich's stomach, his heavy eyebrows slightly furrowed. "Rich, what's going on? I thought we..."

Rich smiled and then chuckled but shook his head. "Nothing's wrong... at all, really." He stared at the younger man, taken with the way Lee's face showed every passing thought. "I just mean to say - I don't do the casual thing much."

Lee was silent, thinking of the subtext of that statement. "Uh-huh. Sooo... Are you asking if this is just an on-set hook-up kind of thing?"

Rich's face turned red but he nodded, hoping that Lee wouldn't think he was making a mountain out of a molehill.

Lee's face softened and Rich was captivated by the look in his eye. He took a deep breath to say: "I would pretty much take anything I can get from you," he swallowed. "That is just really embarrassing to admit," he muttered.

Lee laughed, however, and the next thing he did was to sit up on his knees to start hauling Rich's sweats down.

As startled as he was by Lee's sudden action, Rich wasted no time in lifting his hips to assist him. He held his breath as Lee flung the sweatpants over his shoulder and then stared down at Rich's naked lower half.

"Mmmm, yes..." The murmur was so soft, Rich didn't think Lee even realised he'd spoken out loud. Even though it was a little odd lying there only half dressed, the look in Lee's eyes warmed him through and through. His prick, the randy thing, certainly enjoyed the attention.

When Lee's large hand enfolded it, Rich couldn't hold back a soft groan and he let his head fall back onto his pillow, it felt so good.

"Rich, Rich," Lee murmured, his voice deep and hungry. "I don't know where this is going but there's nowhere else I wanna be right now..."

With that he leaned down and licked a long stripe from the base up to just under the mushroom cap of the head. With a mischievous look sparking in his green eyes, he smirked at Richard and then swallowed him down.

"Ugh, ahhh!" Richard almost jackknifed at the sudden warmth, moisture and suction and his hands grabbed immediately into Lee's thick hair. He collapsed back on the bed but kept his neck straining up so he could watch avidly as Lee's pretty lips slid up his prick. "Jesus... bloody hell, you're good at that!"

Richard marveled at the hungry look on the younger man's face and then he tapped his head with one hand. He chuckled when Lee looked up, an impatient pout on his gleaming lips. "Take your clothes off..." he started and chuckled as Lee almost leapt off the bed to comply.

He rid himself of his own shirt and laid back down to admire the beauty before him.

Lee was tall, slender but smoothly muscled and Rich was absolutely grateful that he was here with him and not ... He stopped the thought before it could settle. He spread his legs a little wider and watched as Lee's prick twitched at the blatant invitation.

Without a word, Lee crawled up the bed and straddled him without letting their bodies touch. Rich had never pouted in his life, he didn't think, but he was tempted now as Lee leaned down just enough to bring his mouth tantalisingly close.

Rich narrowed his eyes and stared up into the laughing eyes. "This is not the time to be a prick tease, brat!"

Lee's eyes widened at that last word but he giggled before saying, his expression coy and his voice in that sexy range Rich simply loved: "It's not teasing if I'm guaranteed to put out, big guy."

It was Rich's turn to snicker as his hands slid around to palm Lee's buttocks, one finger running gently up his crack. "'Big guy!' I think that's a first for me!"

Lee pushed against the finger, clearly loving the feel, and then he lowered his hips so that their pricks brushed. He gasped, threw his head back and Rich licked up his long throat to his mouth, kissing him deeply.

All conversation devolved after that to half-finished, broken, gasping sentences and the heat between them spiraled. Rich loved the feel of Lee's long, hard body and Lee clearly loved the feel of Rich's hairy chest.

"God, Rich, we could have been doing this so much sooner!" Lee groaned at one point as his large hand took hold of both their pricks and squeezed.

Rich's lips quirked - because Lee was definitely right - but he decided to forgo a response in lieu of kissing Lee to silence.

They writhed and stroked and kissed to a shuddering climax, their legs entangled and their chests heaving, goofy expressions of satisfaction on their faces.

Lee finally flung himself to lie beside Rich, his teeth gleaming as he grinned up at the trailer's ceiling.

Rich stretched a long arm to grab his t-shirt off of the floor to wipe themselves down and then he turned to look at the younger man.

"Well... that was a bit quick..."

Lee's head turned quickly and he shot him an incredulous look before laughing. "Jeeze, it's not a competition, dude!"

Rich threw his head back and laughed and laughed. Honestly, he didn't think anyone had ever called him 'dude' in bed before and his funny bone kept it on a loop in his mind.

He finally wound down and looked over at Lee who was leaning up on one elbow and staring at him, amused and puzzled. "You are a strange man, Richard Armitage!"

Rich chuckled and then mirrored his position. "Yes, I suppose many would agree - but I venture to say you're one-of-a-kind," and he leaned forward to kiss him.

Lee leaned into the kiss; it was slow and sweet and it made Rich smile into it. When they pulled apart, Rich couldn't help stroking the high cheekbone with a thumb.

"I... have a confession," he started and then cleared his throat.

Lee hmmed and tilted his face into Rich's hand. "It's that time, huh?" His voice was teasing and attractive laugh lines creased the corner of his eyes as he waited for Rich to continue.

Rich smiled and gazed at him. "I have had a 'thing' for you for a bit now..."

Lee's eyebrows went up and he raised himself to sit up fully. "Really? Oh, hold on - when you guys say 'a bit', it's like us saying 'a while', right?"

Rich nodded and watched as curiosity sparked in Lee's eyes. "In this case, 'a bit' or 'a while' actually translates to 'several years'."

"What?!" Lee's mouth dropped open and he stared at Rich, delighted. "No way! Really?!"

Rich sat up, laughing, and ran a hand down Lee's thigh and ended up stroking over his knee. Lee shuddered slightly and Rich could see he was getting a little turned on.

"Yes, I saw you in that movie - the transgender one - you were excellent in that, by the way - and I was captivated." Rich smiled as he remembered how many times he'd watched it on DVD. Then he realised Lee had grown a little serious and he looked at him questioningly. "What?"

Lee's eyes lowered and then he looked up at Rich tentatively. "So - you liked me as a girl, then..."

When Rich realised that Lee probably had misunderstood him, he hurried to explain. "No, no! That's not_" He huffed and then took one of Lee's hands in his. "I mean, yes, you were unbelievably sexy as a woman - but I watched everything - read everything about YOU - not that person you played!"

Lee's face was pink but he smiled and Rich continued. "You are a brilliant actor - and I love that about you." He chuckled and then said, a little self-deprecatingly, "I'm a bit of a snob that way..."

They laughed at that and then Lee gestured for him to go on speaking.

"So, I sort of developed a crush on you - and, yes, it is embarrassing at my age!"

At this Lee frowned a little. "Hold on, you don't have a hang-up about us - the age difference, do you?" Then, after a pause in which Rich remained silent, his eyes widened. "Was that what you and Graham were talking about - when you said 'five'?"

Rich noddedand said sheepishly, "Yeah - but it's actually eight years' difference and you're so bright and bubbly," he grinned as Lee twitched unhappily at 'bubbly': "and I feel you should be__"

Lee cut him off with a mock glare: "Don't! Don't say 'your own age group', please! Rich," and he lowered his voice, leaned closer and ran the tip of his nose up near Rich's ear: "I love a sexy, confident older man."

Rich knew his face was red again but he smiled at Lee, immeasurably flattered. As a reward, he kissed him, taking his time to enjoy the feel and taste of him and when they pulled apart Lee, too, was flushed.

Their foreheads together, Lee said softly, the mischief back in his eyes. "Can you imagine if Thranduil were to kiss Thorin tomorrow?"

Rich, his eyes wide, stared at him, shook his head and burst out laughing. Never - seriously, never - had he met anyone quite like this man who proceeded to tip over, pull his long legs up to laugh and snort like a big kid ... and Rich thought it was the sexiest thing ever.


Chapter Text

Freckles. Richard stared at the freckles patterning Lee's silky skin and ran his hands up the broad back. He was fascinated by the feel of the younger man beneath him because Lee kept moving and squirming as Rich massaged him.

It was arousing; his prick snugged up in Lee's crack was pretty happy with the undulating movement and Rich wanted more.

He leaned forward to drag his lips up the back of Lee's neck and smirked when he groaned. "Richard... unh, you bastard... fuck me already!"

Rich chuckled and reached for the bottle of lube he'd bought on his first shopping trip for essentials. He hadn't even thought he would have needed it but, hey ho! It's good to be prepared, wasn't it, and grinned as Lee shuddered at the feel of the viscous liquid trickling down to his hole.

With his lips brushing the edge of Lee's ear, Rich made sure his hot breath tortured his young lover. "If you keep squirming around like that, love, I might think you want me to... get off..."

Lee's shoulders twitched and his head twisted around so he could glare at Rich's smirking face. "Oooh, that was terrible! Pfft, 'get off'."

They laughed and then Rich got down to the very serious task of prepping the beautiful body beneath him. If anyone were to ask and he were honest, he wouldn't have said Lee's bum was his favourite part of him. No, that would be his face, maybe his voice - definitely the confident glow he carried with him.

Now, though, as he introduced his long fingers into the hot, tight and so smooth passage just waiting for him, his heart rate sped up and he realised he was panting, letting slip soft little groans as Lee's body welcomed his ministrations.

"God, Rich, that's sooo good!" Lee's voice had deepened almost to a growl but Rich had no trouble understanding him. His own prick was drooling, anxious to sink into the lush arse and Rich gasped as Lee clenched down on his fingers. "Now, baby, please, I'm ready!"

Rich grabbed for the condom packet, almost dropping it in his haste and ripped it open. He slid the ultra-fine latex onto himself, smoothed lube onto it as quickly as he could and then squeezed more onto Lee's hole.

He took a deep breath and lined himself up, fascinated with the way the pink pucker fluttered in anticipation. It really would have been cruel to let either of them wait so, with a barely audible grunt, he pushed past the guardian muscle, allowing the mushroom head just within Lee's entrance.

"Oh, god, Rich, mmm," Lee's voice was breathy and he lifted his hips up and back so Rich slid in just a little more. He grabbed at Lee's hips, bracing himself, and then sank in in one luxurious slide until he fetched up against Lee's back.

He stilled all movement, braced one hand down on the bed and then gritted out, "Are you okay?"

Lee gulped, eyes closed tightly and beads of sweat dotting his upper lip. "I'm... I'm good... You can move now."

Rich had realised as he prepped him that Lee had not been active for a while - he was incredibly tight and he didn't want to hurt him. It was costing him everything to hold still but he waited until Lee's body relaxed ever so slightly.

When he slid in just a tad more he gulped, slid out and then pumped in again. Thank God for quality rubbers he thought distractedly as he picked up speed. He bit his lip and concentrated on pushing Lee's body to the limit of pleasure that it could take. From the sounds - almost pained but underlain with ecstasy - Rich was sure he was accomplishing his task.

"Richard! Oh, my God!" Lee yelled as Rich tagged his prostate with every drive into his body. "Ugh, yes, ohhh!"

For a fleeting moment, Rich's mind split: 'Can they hear us? - I hope they can hear us!'

Lee certainly wasn't giving a damn about the possibility of being overheard by the folks in the neighbouring trailers. God, no; Lee's body sucked in Rich's prick, making it almost difficult for him to pull back so as to plunge in again.

He raised up on his knees, pulled Lee up onto his and really went to work, sweat dripping off the both of them.

Finally, when Lee threw his head back and tightened almost unbearably on Rich, he bit down on the juncture of Lee's long neck and shoulder and growled. "Lee, fuck!"

And Lee came, his hand whipping on his own prick as he spewed onto the sheet. He gasped and writhed and Rich kept his eyes open through his own slide into white-hot ecstasy - just to watch him.

As Lee slumped forward into the wet spot, Rich caught himself before he crashed into his back, shuddering as his body wrung the last bits of pleasure from his orgasm.


They were sat facing each other on the bed, still flushed and grinning like lunatics. They sipped from cold water bottles as they ejoyed their afterglow and Rich wondered if it was the delicious sex that had put that little gleam in Lee's eyes. He doubted it, though, and he was proven right seconds later.

"Do you think the others will be able to tell?" Lee laughed as Rich's eyebrows came together.

Rich quirked his lips at the naughty look on Lee's still-pink face. "What, would there be any doubt after your very vocal performance just now?"

Lee gasped in mock outrage and pulled his dignity around him like a sheet. "I will have you know, sir, it was entirely the fault of the person plundering my almost-virgin ass!"

Rich gaped at him and then burst out laughing so hard he fell over on the bed, looking back at Lee's dramatic face wonderingly.

Lee chuckled as he watched his lover sniggering like a schoolboy as he muttered "almost-virgin ass" every few seconds.

Richard finally got himself in hand, took a sip of his water and shook his head at Lee. "Good Lord, I won't be able to keep a straight face tomorrow!"

Lee looked at him questioningly and Rich clarified. "We're doing the big Thorin, Thranduil scene, and I've got to be defiant while you try to be intimidating... and all the time I'll be remembering what it's like to be inside you..."

Green eyes dancing, Lee crawled up the bed to nuzzle the side of Rich's face and then he curled up like a giant cat beside him with his head rubbing Rich's chest.

"Mmm, can you imagine if people picked up on our - thing - as we're doing the scene?" He laughed. "Hey, someone should record Peter's face while we're doing it!"

Rich grunted, slightly put out at that thought. "Too much bloody 'Behind The Scenes' taping going on already if you ask me," he muttered.

Lee didn't agree, naturally. "No, no, it's fun... don't be a grouch, come on!" He grinned appealingly at his lover. "We'll have great fun like six months from now and we can look at the B-Rolls and say, 'oh, yes, that's the day after Rich rogered me royally!'"

Rich's stomach heaved as he laughed, causing Lee's head to bounce around. When he calmed down, he wiped his eyes and looked wonderingly at Lee.

"My God, where do you get these phrases?!"

Lee looked pleased with himself. "I hang with the grips. They're Kiwis so I love to hear them talk. 'Rogered' - I like that word!"

Rich shook his head as well as he could while resting against his pillows. "If you're not careful, young man, you just may find yourself 'rogered royally' once more!"

Lee snickered and snorted as Rich tried to keep a schoolmasterish look on his face.

They finally subsided and stretched out fully, although Lee still kept his head on Rich's chest as his long fingers smoothed through the hair there.

"Rich," he murmured, his voice sleepy. "Would you mind - if they realise - about us, I mean..."

Rich paused in stroking his hand through Lee's hair. "Mind... why?"

He could feel the movement of Lee's cheek as he smiled. Lee moved to look directly at him. "You are kinda known for being reserved..."

Rich grew serious. "Lee, you're - I'm so chuffed we finally got to this point so, no, I don't mind at all."

Lee looked somewhat relieved but Rich continued. "And it would get a certain Welshman to back off..."

Slow chuckles welled up as Lee looked at Rich, incredulous. "I don't believe you! Richard, were you really worried? I can't believe you-"

Rich's lips cut off any further comment and Lee welcomed him, sliding his arms around his lover. When they pulled apart, he looked at Rich from beneath his thick lashes.

"Babe, you had nothing - nothing! - to worry about." He smiled, a bashful tinge to his eyes. "You weren't the only one 'nursing' a crush, babe, not at all..."


Gray stood beside Rich as they watched Peter calling up to Lee, giving him more ideas on how he wanted him to play the scene.

The two men wore faint smiles as they watched Lee's antics; the American was such a light-hearted bloke that not even the sometimes endless takes seemed to wear him down.

Gray looked over at his friend and then huffed, causing Rich to look at him enquiringly. "What?"

With his eyes twinkling beneath the shaggy eyebrows, Rich shrugged. "Nothing... I can almost see feathers just... right... there!" and he poked lightly at the side of Rich's mouth.

"Geroff!" Rich jerked his head back and swatted at Gray's finger, his eyebrows lowering fiercely.

Gray guffawed, uncaring of the eyes turned towards them. "You could just hang a sign on him, ya know!" He chuckled at the way his friend's cheeks pinked.

"I don't know what you're talking about..." Rich began and then he caught Lee's eyes and stopped. He felt himself smiling back at him and then he looked at Gray. "Well, a tattoo would be better... right on that fine arse, I think."

Gray's eyes widened, he reeled back and then clapped his hands over his ears. "Aaargh! No! Don't want to hear it!" and rushed off to where the other dwarf actors were stood.

Rich watched him and laughed out loud, an unusual enough situation that quite a few people turned around to look between him and his friend.

For some reason, he didn't care that he seemed to be acting out of character. Life was too short not to take hold of what you wanted and enjoy the hell out of it.

He looked back over at Lee and Peter and his heart - and other parts - reacted to the sight of his tall lover resplendent in Thranduil's glittering robes.

Loving Lee, being with him, wasn't going to be easy; with their careers and homes an ocean apart, they would have to put a lot of effort into this thing they had started.

As Peter beckoned to him, rapid-fire instructions bombarding Thorin and Thranduil, Rich shared a secret smile with Lee.

For however long they had together, he was sure Lee was as committed as he was.

With a deep breath, he readied himself for the scene, his face stern but his heart light. Maybe Thorin would have been better off kissing Thranduil. Maybe then he wouldn't have ended up in an Elf King's dungeon.

Chuckling inwardly, he sobered just in time for Lee to lean in to murmur his lines almost directly into Rich's ears.

Kiss him, kiss him now, his inner imp taunted and he looked at Lee... and paused.

The End?