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The Katipo

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The day started like any other day on the Hobbit set in New Zealand. Having woken hours ago before sunrise for costume and makeup, Dean yawned widely. The movement stretched the silicone used for his moustache braids, and he thumbed the irritated skin.

“Eat your moustache again, Deano?” Aidan teased, walking up to him with his eyes crinkled in amusement. The man was never tired, and that never ceased to amaze him.

Dean huffed, stifling another yawn, and shifted in his heavy boots, watching the crew gather the remaining equipment into the helicopters. They were due any moment to fly over to the Rock and Pillar Range to film scenes traveling along the Dale Hills, a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Lonely Mountain. The rocky summit ridge was nearly inaccessible, so they were forced to take ten helicopters up to the range. 

Aidan nudged his shoulder playfully, and the slighter man felt a warmth in his stomach from the touch, “C’mon. We’re running to the beaches quick for a photo.” He nodded over to where Adam and Stephen were already making their way down the sandy path.

As they walked, he breathed in the cool ocean air, finally feeling his fatigue edge away. Aidan walked slowly beside him, their costumed shoulders only just touching as they followed the others. Dean would never admit it out loud, but his feelings for Aidan made him ache in every way possible; every moment the younger man was close, and even worse when he was away. It started as a crush the first day they met filming, a feeling so unfamiliar to him since his last boyfriend at uni years ago, but grew exponentially the closer they got. The way Aid always had a mug of coffee ready for him just the way he liked it as he got to make up every morning, the way he teased him and called him "Deano", the way he would always want to spend his free time with him - whether it was playing Xbox or even just exploring the sets they traveled to. The cast and crew knew them to be inseparable - where one was, the other always followed. The Irishman had become his best friend over the past year, which was why he wouldn't, couldn't sacrifice their friendship. There was absolutely no way his friend was anything but straight; from how he swooned over Evangeline, and how he especially kept in constant, coy contact with his lady friends from back home. If he was to say anything, Dean was sure Aidan would be horrified.

The sun was just kissing the horizon, its red and golden hues glistening against the soft waves. Along the shore, they could hear the the dune grass wisping in the wind. Stephen's chuckling was what pulled Dean out of his thoughts as he reached down into his costume, and underneath his chin fat, removed his cell phone.

“Always have it handy!” He said.

The moment was perfect for a picture, so Dean grabbed for it, already seeing the potential with the glowing sky behind them. “Over there!” He pointed and backed up, “This sky is great.” 

With a bounding leap, Adam jumped on Aidan’s back, and the three of them posed for the picture with great heaps of laughter in the sand. 

“Stay right there,” Dean said, feeling his more natural, artistic self take over. The feeling lightened his spirits and he jogged over to the right, “Let me get a little higher.”

To the right of him against the dune grass was a larger outcropping of rocks and driftwood. He climbed it eagerly, his exhaustion and glum thoughts all now forgotten, not even minding the heavy pull of Fili’s gear and weapons. Perched on the top of the beach rock now, he turned towards his friends, grinning, and started snapping photos of them in their characters.

The warmth of the rising sun lit up Aidan's face as he moved to and fro with his friends, and it outlined the slim muscles beneath his coat. The sight of the bubbly younger man had Dean's heart twinge -

Boys!” They heard from grouping of the helicopters, “We’re leaving!”

Stephen made a "humph" noise as he tried uselessly to stand up from the sand in his Bombur costume, laden with thick fat pads. Aidan could barely stand, wheezing from laughter, as tiny Adam pulled and pulled upwards on Stephen’s arms.

With a small laugh, Dean started making his way down the rocks, but just as he was about to jump, his foot slid on a piece of damp driftwood. His pants slid up to his knee and, startled, he felt a nick against his skin. The sting had him jerking away with a quick inhale, and he brushed his calf carefully, expecting to feel splinters. However nothing was there and his skin was intact, so he assumed the wood had only lightly scratched his skin. Shrugging, he fixed his pant leg and jumped the rest of the way down to the sandy beach.

Aidan ran over to him. His happiness was infectious as he tossed the phone back to Stephen, who was now on his feet, “Wait! We need a photo before we go.”

Stephen grumbled and aimed the camera towards them, “Can’t forget about the lovebirds, can we?”

Dean heart thrummed rapidly in his chest and his cheeks broke out in a blush as Aidan kissed his cheek in an obvious pose for a picture.

“Now,” Aidan said as he pulled Dean in with an arm across his shoulders, “Let’s head back before Peter has our heads!”


 

As the boys slipped through the sand and back to the helicopters, a young katipo remained silent against the driftwood, cleaning its fangs of the venom it just released. Once she was satisfied and clean, she scurried back to her web, and out of sight.