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Trojan Horse by dee
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Author's Notes:
The prologue was written as a mathom for my birthday 2003. The rest of it took a little longer (Nov 2004).
Prologue

It was a warm evening, and Viggo's door was always open. Miranda called from the front hallway: "Hello?"

"In here," Viggo replied. He was sitting in the kitchen under the buzzing flourescent light, trying to fix his camera.

She came in tight and angry. Her hand slapped a hapless piece of paper down on the table. "A fucking Dear John letter. Is it still a Dear John letter if you're not a serviceman called John but an actress called Miranda?"

Around Miranda's spread fingers, trapping the paper, Viggo could read words, fragments of sentences - "sorry", "away too long", "someone else", "still be friends".

He put down the camera. "Vodka in the freezer," he said.

She left the letter on the table, but when she came back with the frosted bottle and two glasses, he'd folded it and set it aside. She put the glasses on it, and spilt a little liquor as she poured.

"This isn't going to be enough," she said, sloshing the two inches remaining around the bottle.

"There's Jack Daniels in the fridge," Viggo told her, and stood to move his camera to the sideboard, out of the way.

Miranda sat on the table, where the camera had been. He came back and stood in front of her. Their glasses chinked together. "Cheers."

They downed the first in one gulp. Miranda grimaced, and Viggo poured again. She barely took the next slower, him half a second behind as their glasses hit the table again.

"I hate him," Miranda stated, and reached for the bottle.

"Really?" Viggo's fingers curled around hers on the neck as she fumbled pouring. "Careful."

They dished out the rest of the vodka. Miranda licked the spillage off her fingers, and shook her head. "No, not really. But it feels kinda good." She raised her glass, and looked into it. "You don't have to drink with me," she said. "No reason why both of us should suffer."

"Misery loves company," Viggo noted. "Why are you here, then?"

Miranda shrugged. "I needed someone to scream at. I knew you'd still be up."

"You haven't screamed yet," Viggo said, stepping closer and leaning, his voice lowering. "Maybe we'll try that later." He reached past her to grab the empty vodka bottle by the neck. "Drink up. I'll get the Jack Daniels."

She propped a foot up on the chair he'd been sitting in. When he came back with the full bottle, he stepped into the triangulated space to set it on the table with a heavy thunk. She leaned back, hands braced on the table. "You know why I'm here," she accused.

Viggo rested a hand on her raised knee. "I do?"

"Yes."

He squeezed gently; the muscles of her thigh bunched and flexed under his fingers. "You're here to prove," he said casually.

Miranda tilted her head. "I'm here to prove," she confirmed.

Viggo leaned forward, braced himself with a hand on the table beside her hip. "What are you here to prove?" he asked.

"Let's say..." She arched her back. "Let's say that I'm still sexy enough to be fucked on the kitchen table."

"Let's say," he agreed, and slid his hands under her knee, over her hip, pulled her towards him sharply. He was already hard, pressed warm against denim and her inner thigh. Her head lolled back, breath sibillant in her throat.

His hand followed flesh from knee up under her heavy skirt. "No underwear," he murmured approvingly, and took advantage.

Miranda sagged back on one elbow, hair spilling across the table. She got a hand between them and Viggo pushed against her palm. Her fingers fumbled at the button of his jeans. He moved one hand to help her, the other busy. "Tell me," she ordered, looking up at him from under lowered lashes.

He told her - "I'm going to fuck you." - and she mewled and squeezed her eyes shut. "I'm going to fuck you," he repeated, "until you scream."

The button gave way, and she dragged the zip down. Rough with the denim until she had him, guiding him as his hips nudged her thighs further apart. Viggo was hot in her hand, hot inside her in one long thrust that made them both grunt.

"Scream at me," he whispered.

Miranda blinked her eyes open. "Make me," she demanded.

He laughed, low in the back of his throat, and she shifted her hips, brought her knees up against his waist, her ankles crossed behind him.

"Do it."

He did it. Gripped her hips with both hands and braced himself. Pulled out, plunged in, pushing towards a rhythm that they clicked into suddenly, moving in unison.

"Yes," she hissed, and pushed herself up, bracing her arms straight against the table. "God yes."

"What you had in mind?" Viggo timed the words with his thrusts, pulled Miranda hard against him.

Her eyes were closed, her mouth open. She brought one arm up around his neck, then the other, was hanging off him, onto him. She pulled her ankles tighter behind his back, surged against him. He gasped.

It had been no time at all. Neither of them could last much longer.

Miranda's head sagged back and he bit at her neck; her moan purred under his tongue. "C'mon," Viggo muttered, and she whined. Her fingers dug into his shoulder, nails pressing flesh through his t-shirt. "C'mon," he muttered, and slid a hand under her skirt, pressed with his thumb.

She screamed - at him, his name - and tightened her legs around him. He came with a breathless gasp and his hips erratic against hers.


Miranda washed up their glasses, rinsed them and left them to drain. Viggo put the untouched Jack Daniels back in the fridge.

When Viggo turned around, Miranda pinned him against the cold, white surface and kissed him, so long and deep and thorough that his fingers were curled in her skirt again by the time she was done.

"You're welcome," he said quietly, and she grinned.

"I'm going to get you a proper thank you gift," she promised.



1

Miranda took her clothes off like a man.

Karl had thought that, amused, the first day he'd seen her get undressed in the costume trailer of the Rohirrim. Well, maybe the second day. The first he'd been too busy being startled - after all, a gorgeous strawberry blonde had just walked in and pulled her shirt off. Then he realised, about the same time as Miranda's cheeky grin appeared, that she was still wearing a singlet underneath the long-sleeved t-shirt. He'd said, "What do I have to do to get tickets to the special show?" and she'd said she'd let him know, waggling her eyebrows as she reached for her robe.

The second day had been when he'd realised. Watching her in the mirror, he'd noticed that she just reached over her shoulder, planted her hand between her own shoulder blades, twisted a grip into the fabric, then pulled the whole garment up and over her head and arms in one movement. Not caring about whether it mussed her hair, not caring if the shirt ended up inside out, not caring at all.

She came in one morning tired - more tired than usual, more tired than the country-style-in-buckets coffee in her hand could cure, tired through bone to soul.

"Something up?" Karl asked.

Miranda grunted, kicking her bag under the counter. Her hair hung dispirited, her eyes rattled, her skin was just a little of the wrong fit, too loose, too tight, not comfortable. She swigged from her coffee like a hipflask before turning her back and reaching over her shoulder. Her tug on the cotton was vicious, twisting, knuckle-curling and yanking it up and over her head.

It took her singlet with it, caught up in her violent energy, rucked up to the back of her neck. As she shucked the long sleeves down her arms (with a motion like casting out a demon) her shoulder blades shifted under her skin (her skin, thought Karl) and under her arm the outer curve of her breast was bared.

Miranda tossed the shed shirt aside, shrugging her singlet back down. She reached again for her coffee, turning around. "Richard," she said, flat. Tugged the hem of the singlet down fully to her waist. It was ratty, worn, stretched. Pre-loved.

"Problems?" Karl asked.

"I don't even know. But it doesn't feel good." She shook her head, her eyes sore.

Her eyes, Karl made himself think, but in the back of his head it still sounded like her skin.


2

At first glance, Karl couldn't see Miranda in the pub and he wondered if she hadn't made it, if Richard had somehow managed to strand her at home on the couch in an island of "bloody men" and vodka straight from the bottle.

"Karl." The hand on his back belonged to Viggo, eyebrow quirked and bemused. "Lost?"

Karl smiled, but he knew it wasn't quite there. "Miranda here?"

Viggo tilted his head. "The bar. At, not on. Yet."

It was three deep, but Karl worked (nudged, apologised) his way through until he was behind her, could trace a finger down between her shoulder blades, over the silky, spangled material of her top.

She twitched, turned, her grin tilting into a laugh. "Karl!" She snaked an arm around his waist, tugged him against her side.

"You're happy," he noted, thankfully not sounding as surprised as he felt.

"You're wearing aftershave," she returned, curling her face in under his jaw.

"You like it?" he asked.

"Nope." Blithe, cheeky-grinned. "You don't smell like you." She turned back to the bar as a brimming pint was set down. "Same again for my friend? Ta."

They found the quietest corner table they could, backs to the room, turned in towards each other.

"You were worried," Miranda said, a shade off accusation.

"No."

"You have that look."

"What look?"

"That 'I'm pretending I wasn't worried because it's unmanly' look." She smirked.

"That's a very specific look."

"You have a very expressive face."

Karl laughed into his beer, and Miranda looked satisfied. "Fine," he admitted. "I was worried about the whole Richard thing. Just a little."

Miranda was looking down now, one finger tracing a wet path through beer glass circles on the table. "Thanks," she said quietly.

"Obviously needlessly," Karl added.

When she shook her hair back off her face, her smile was a little brittle. "Not so much." He didn't say anything, just watched her mouth twitch. "It all sort of exploded last night. I got a letter..." She shook her head, waved her hand; the details didn't matter. "No more Richard," she summarised. "And that's probably a good thing. Almost certainly."

"You sound like you're in great shape," Karl said, off his own balance and reduced to stock phrases.

"Worrying, isn't it?"

"Worrying?"

Miranda drummed her fingernails against the side of her glass. "I feel like I shouldn't feel this in control. I think I'm probably not. In control, that is. I think I'm in that place where I'm beyond caring about rules and things. It's all fine that I don't even know what I should and shouldn't be feeling or doing or--" She grimaced, and took a breath. "I think I'm dangerous."

"You're always dangerous," Karl said, and made her laugh.


3

Passing the booth just as Viggo was standing up - "better be off, not as young, etc" - Karl stepped back a moment. "Give you a lift?"

Viggo looked surprised the way he did, a moment of benign wonder at the turnings of the world. "What?"

Jingle of car keys. "I'm taking Miranda, as long as she hasn't passed out in the ladies. You're just around the corner, right?"

"Right." To get out, Viggo had to step over Orlando, who was engaged in argument across the table and not moving for anything less than a force of God. A tangle, a hop, and Karl steadied him. "Thanks. That'd be great."

"My pleasure."


4

A few of the Rohirric extras had set up a portable stereo and were subjecting the untouched wilds of New Zealand to the best of the early 90s. To complete the picture, Merry was wearing sunglasses, chewing gum and jump-arounding with ribald abandon, which was why Karl spotted Orlando approaching first.

He waved, and got a cheery grin in return as Orli sauntered over, hands in his pockets (probably to hold up his tracksuit pants). "Taking time out of your prancing schedule to visit the poor mortals?" Karl greeted him.

"I missed the endless stream of insults," Orlando returned, with greater equanimity than he would have six months ago. Time with Viggo did that to people.

"You know you love it," Karl said.

"Oh baby," Orlando dead-panned, and then squinted towards the Middle-Earth dance party. "Oi, Monaghan!"

Dom sashayed out of the crowd and cantered across to pounce on Orli, shrieking, "Sheena was a man!"

Orlando didn't even blink. "You owe me ten quid."

"Shit," Dom said cheerfully, stepping back again. "What for this time?"

"Mir did Vig Friday night."

Karl had already turned away, was watching the feared Riders of Rohan form a conga line.

"How do you find this stuff out?" Dom demanded.

"Lij bats his baby blues. You know how the crew gossips."

Not half as much as the cast, Karl thought.

"Fine, put it on my tab," Dom said, his laissez-faire handwave showing up in the edge of Karl's range of vision.

"Always redeemable for a blowjob, you know."

"Piss off."

Orlando laughed. "Later, Karl."

Karl turned back, sun-dazzled. "See you."

Dom snapped his gum thoughtfully, watching Orlando leave. "You let me down, man."

Karl blinked. "What?" He could see himself reflected double in Dom's sunglasses.

"I had my money on you to be Miranda's first victim."

Karl quirked an eyebrow and Dom laughed. "Sorry," Karl said, dry, but he thought, Dangerous.

Hold on tight.


5

"Nothing is sacred to hobbits!"

It was only polite to let someone know when they were the new headlining feature on the gossip loop, Karl figured. Miranda was laughing. "Make-up girls," Karl corrected, and finished his coffee.

"Even worse," Miranda agreed. She caught his arm, tilted his wrist towards her. "Shit, I'm going to be late. But dinner, my place, Sunday, right?"

"Love to."

Standing up, she leaned over the table and dabbed a kiss on his cheek.


6

Miranda, loose-limbed, languid, liquid, draped and knotted and tumbled in her armchair, endlessly ending her sentence.

"Because I couldn't sit still when I read the letter, couldn't stand still, couldn't stay in my house and when my feet started they just went in his direction, maybe because he's just around the corner, maybe because he's always there, not physically, you know, but just there, somewhere in the corner of your awareness of the world once he's come into it and then when I went he was there.

"Because there was this energy pushing me forward, pulling me from the moment I left the house but I couldn't even recognise it until I walked into that room and saw him just sitting there and then I knew, I knew why I was there and why he was there and that he knew it too, he knew it but he didn't judge me - wouldn't, would he? - and I felt like I'd both come to rest and started falling for real.

"Because when you think sex for sex's sake, when you think of just doing it, you think of him, don't you?"

Karl, flattened on his back on the rug on the floor, feeling like he wasn't feeling how he should be. "You should be with him," he said.

"No."

He rolled over. "No?"

"Because," she said, wineglass empty and dangling. "I'm talking with you."


7

The en masse fair visit was prompted by the usual agglomeration of ridiculous reasons - Orlando fancied a bird, Elijah was thrilled, Billy had unsurpassed organisational skills, it just happened. Karl found himself hailed as a native, hungover, picking up Liv and Viggo at five minutes to dawn and taking the back roads that he knew without seeing, which was just as well because he thought he might be still asleep.

Half the hobbit posse greeted them at the nominal entrance to the fair, the place where the booths met the carpark. "Hey guys," Astin asked them. "You seen Dom anywhere?"

Karl hadn't seen a thing. "No."

Liv went off with them to search. Karl had barely realised this meant Viggo was still with him until they met up with Miranda near the ferris wheel. "God," she said in greeting, and thrust her cup at him. "You need this more than I do. Morning, Vig."

Karl twitched, but that was from the jolt of industrial-strength caffiene hitting his empty stomach.

"Have you heard?" Miranda asked. "Orlando and Elijah hooked up last night. There's a hobbit schism over it."

"Dom," Karl said, and finished the coffee, feeling almost human. "Thanks for that, Mir."

"No worries," she beamed. "But you owe me one now."

She co-opted Viggo to take her on the Dodge-ems. Karl ran into a gratuitously cheerful Dom and Billy at the next intersection. He made it through the day somehow, powered on that first coffee piled up with popcorn and fairy floss and a hot dog or six. He almost fell asleep on the ferris wheel, but Liv kept squealing.

Who knew where the hobbits had ended up, but there was no sign of them later in the day, late in the day, when gravity finally pulled the rest of them to the carpark.

"Don't go to sleep on the bonnet of my car," Miranda said warningly, and Karl blinked his eyes back open.

"Just drive, I won't notice."

She laughed, and opened the driver's side door. "I told Liv I'd take her home. I was worried you were going to kill her."

"Worried?" Karl mused, managing to slide off her car without falling over. "You don't have a single worry in the world, do you?" She laughed, and he pecked her cheek.

Viggo was leaning against Karl's car. "I'll drive home, if you want to get some rest."

Karl slept the whole way.


8

The message on his phone started without greeting or identification, and she said: "I worry that when I'm with him I'm going to say your name."


9

It took until mid afternoon, but he finally caught her, a flash of her hair from the corner of his eye and Karl was saying, "Five minutes," and heading down the corridor even as John said, "What? Wait!"

Miranda was moving fast, almost at the next corner, and Karl called after her. She stopped, spun about in a spiral of hair and skirts and sleeves. Her eyes slid over him, looked past him, and then she glanced up the way she'd been heading; no one there.

Karl hurried to reach her, to say, "Look, I don't want to--"

His back hit the wall, the rest of the sentence escaping his lungs in a rush, her hands on his upper arms and her eyes a hard flash as she stepped in, one knee between his, and kissed him. Her tongue swept away all resistance, into his mouth like a cavalry charge, plunging deep before Karl recovered, regrouped, launched a counterattack with his hands at her waist, fingers digging into the muscles above her hips, holding on, holding her close.

Miranda bit his lip with a copper flash and then she was pulling away, the rushing in Karl's ears resolving into voices around the corner. She brushed her thumb over his resonating lower lip and kept walking, meeting the oncoming pair at the corner with a cheery smile as Karl tried hard to look like he wasn't.


10

The door knocked open in front of sunshine and Miranda whistling. "Morning," she sang.

The make-up girl tilted over Karl laughed. "Somebody got some last night."

"I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it will just encourage you," Miranda replied, so cheerful that it was a confirmation of its own.

The make-up girl shook her head and turned away to mix more paint. Karl watched in the mirror as Miranda stripped her shirt off by the scruff of the neck, the singlet beneath barely twitching up to show her ribs, but he thought: Her skin.

He thought: Viggo.

He thought: Dangerous.

He thought: I'm worried that...

He thought: Her skin, that he gets to run his hands over.

He thought: When you think of just doing it, sex for the sake of it, you think of him. Of him.

He thought: Her skin, her skin, that he - that Viggo - runs his hands over, that he pushes his palms into, as he pulls her towards him and she says, she says--

"Karl? Open your eyes, honey."

He did, to see the make-up girl hovering and Miranda watching him in the mirror.


11

Making a decision between chicken avocado and a BLT probably shouldn't be this difficult. Karl's concentration fragmented again as Viggo queue-jumped in beside him, reaching for a banana from the fruit basket. "Kiss and make up time in Hobbiton," he said.

Anything that wasn't sandwiches; Karl turned to look over his shoulder, taking in the far table in the cafeteria. All five usual residents in place, unusual for this week, Dom sitting with dissonant ease next to Orlando, across from Elijah. "All smiles now," Karl noted. Viggo was leaning against the railing next to him, contemplating the reunified posse with typical directness.

"Smart money is measuring the distance to further entanglement in terms of hours."

"Smart money or make-up girls?"

"There's a difference?" Viggo grinned, pushed off the railing. "We can all witness the fallout, in any case. Party at the Ringbearer's house Saturday."

"I heard."

"Miranda told you?"

Karl's hand hesitated over the sandwiches again. "Yeah."

Viggo nodded, saluted with his banana. "See you there, then."


12

"You're late," Elijah greeted him. "All the fun's already over."

Karl opened his mouth to ask the pertinent question, but prudence offered a cast list of the potential incident and instead he held up his sixpack and said, "Space in the fridge?"

"Laundry tub's full of ice," Elijah said. "Last on the right before the verandah."

The contents of the tub offered a rollcall of the party. Billy's porter, Dom's draught, Orlando's Speights (always going native), Miranda's Cascade, Dave's Stella, Astin's bottle of bourbon, Liv's pre-mixed pink things, a bottle of Bombay Sapphire that had to belong to --

"Oi, Karlos!" Sticking his head out the door revealed Dom clinging to the bottom of the verandah railing, no mean feat a floor up. "Yoink us a beer, will ya?" A shout from below, and Dom wobbled. "Two beers, rather."

Going on instinct, Karl rescued a draught and a Speights from the ice bath. He crouched to pass them to Dom. "Some people use the stairs."

"Some people are boring," Dom replied.

"Some people are fat!" Orlando growled from down below.

"Never insult the man holding your beer and your head between his thighs," Dom suggested.

Karl went back inside to get his own beer. The laundry was no longer empty. Viggo looked up from where he was mixing the Bombay gin with tonic. "I thought that was yours," Karl said, wiping wet hands on his jeans. "No one else would drink that stuff."

"More for me." Viggo screwed the lid back on the bottle.

Karl tipped his head towards the back yard as a string of curses indicated Dom had fallen from his state of grace. "What's the go?"

Viggo's smiled was somehow smug. "The unexpected option C. Make-up was flummoxed for all of ten minutes. The phrase of the hour is 'have your cake and eat it too'."

Karl felt his eyebrows go up. "Really?" Viggo waggled his own in response, and Karl laughed. "Well, why not? You're only young once."

"Hope not," Viggo said, on his way out of the laundry.

Karl glanced back at the tub. Two bottles of Cascade premium lager still in attendance, which meant three down and the fourth half-empty in Miranda's hand when he met her in the door to the living room.

"Hello," she purred, and drew him on, drew him into the deep, empty afternoon shadows of the room. Drew him to her, her back against the wall this time, but Karl didn't feel any more in control as she kissed him long and deep and slow. Her wrist curled against his neck and his hand scraped up against her ribs until his thumb snugged beneath the curve of her breast and she arched against him, breathing into his mouth with the tang of her taste: warmth, beer and something sharp.

It wasn't until after she'd slipped away like another shadow that Karl licked his lips and realised he knew the sharp bite of that extra flavour. It was Bombay Sapphire.


13

She answered on the seventh ring, just as he was about to hang up. "Hello?"

"Miranda." She sounded slightly breathless. Just running for the phone? Karl rested his forehead against the doorframe. "Miranda, can... Can I come over?"

There was a long moment of silence. Then she said, "I'm not alone."

Karl took a breath. "I know," he admitted.


14

Miranda opened the door to him, and left enough space for him to come in but not quite enough to do so without passing close enough to feel her breath against his cheek. Close enough to kiss her, but he didn't, not yet.

Viggo was sitting on the edge of the couch. He looked up from spread hands as Karl came in, and Karl thought this was the first time he'd ever seen him look even close to uncertain.

He felt Miranda come into the room behind him, but he couldn't look at her. Kept facing Viggo, who stood up, and Karl reached over his shoulder, curled his fingers in beneath his collar, bunched the material up into his fist, and then dragged it up, over his head.

Hands on him, covering skin as it appeared. Hers. His.

Have your cake and eat it too, thought Karl.


15

The body sliding out of the sheets seemed a long way away. Fumbling out of deep, sated sleep, Karl blinked into a space very close to dream. He felt blurred. The room was dark. The door to Miranda's balcony was open, curtains billowing like clouds, and she was outside. Viggo joined her, both of them silvered in moonlight, and yes, Karl thought, this is a dream.

Voices softened by the hour, the distance, the lethargy drifted in.

Viggo: "Thank you."

Miranda: "Thank you."

Karl never understood his dreams. He let go, and sank back into sleep.



Epilogue (Da Capo al fine)

Miranda washed up their glasses, rinsed them and left them to drain. Viggo put the untouched Jack Daniels back in the fridge.

When Viggo turned around, Miranda pinned him against the cold, white surface and kissed him, so long and deep and thorough that his fingers were curled in her skirt again by the time she was done.

"You're welcome," he said quietly, and she grinned.

"I'm going to get you a proper thank you gift," she promised.

He smiled lazily. "What?" he asked.

"Not what," she said. "Who."

"What?" he repeated.

She grinned up, pressed against him. "Karl."