On December 1st, 1999, the legal drinking age in New Zealand changed from 20 to 18.
By ten that night, Elijah was three beers down, and accelerating through 'tipsy', heading straight for 'pissed'.
"What was that one?" he asked, turning the empty bottle so he could read the label.
"James Squire. Porter," Orlando supplied, taking a more moderate swig of his.
"Porr-terr," Elijah drawled experimentally, and grinned up at the bemused barman. "I'll have another one of them." The barman provided with a faint smile, and moved down the bar as Liv hailed him. "I love this country," Elijah declared happily to no one in particular.
"Why are we allowing this again?" Dominic murmured beside Orlando, watching Elijah lift the fourth beer to his lips.
"Hey, it's legal," Billy noted, further down the bar. "And the kid's gotta learn some time."
"Yeah well, you get to hold his hair out of his face while he's 'learning' in the gutter later tonight."
In the end, it was a learning experience for them all. Orlando learned more than he'd ever wanted to know about New Zealand beer as Elijah gave him a detailed analysis (from his wide experience) of every single one. Elijah himself learned some amazingly crude Kiwi drinking songs that he insisted on singing the entire walk (stagger) home. And all of them learned how difficult it was to put Elijah to bed when he was riding high on nine beers and the grease of an egg and bacon roll.
They'd barely relaxed after the second resurgence, sprawling in the living room preparing to disperse to their own homes, when Elijah leapt into the doorway yet again. This time, he had his bedsheet tied around his shoulders, and he struck a heroic pose.
"I am She-Ra, princess of power!" he declared.
As Orlando chased him, giggling, down the corridor, he heard Liv's weary voice behind him: "Isn't he too young for She-Ra?"
"Apparently not," Dom noted.
Orlando caught up with him; three laps round the kitchen table before he reversed, grabbed him, slung him over his shoulder in a giggling, sheet-wrapped bundle. Dumped him unceremoniously back on the bed. "Stay!" he ordered.
Elijah pulled the sheet up round his ears, and pouted. Industrial strength pout, and Orlando laughed at just how fucking adorable he looked. "'S'no fun all 'lone."
"You need to sleep."
"Don't wanna sleep."
"You will in the morning."
"Well, I don't now." And he did it, actually stuck out his tongue, and they both collapsed laughing this time.
Orlando pulled an armchair away from the wall with a foot around its leg. Ditched the clothes scattered on it onto the floor. "Fine. I'll stay. You sleep."
In the end, Orlando actually had to remake the bed that Elijah had destroyed in his regression to childhood crossdressing. The little brat then insisted on being put to bed, staring up at Orlando as the sheets were tucked around him. "Pretty elf," he slurred happily.
Orlando looked down into those hobbit-wide blue eyes, long dark lashes framing them brushing soft cheeks as Elijah snuggled down with a sigh. "You're no hardship to look at yourself." The eyes fluttered open again, blinding blue. Orlando chuckled, and planted a smacking kiss on his forehead, whipping the sheet up over his head. Elijah giggled. "Now sleep!" Orlando declared, falling back into his chair. "And I state now, we are never letting you drink ever again."
Elijah whined from under the sheet, burrowed out enough so that he could see Orlando. "But I like it. Everything's just... easier." He was sounding surprisingly lucid, and Orlando wasn't surprised to see a small frown of concentration on his face. Then he blinked tiredly, long lashes drooping over those big blue eyes. "S'like it's not stupid. Could say... do... stuff. Anything."
Orlando remembered feeling like that, after he did this himself - four pints of Guinness and football songs for him, so he supposed he couldn't really complain about Elijah's performance. He also remembered the next morning. "You won't feel like that tomorrow," he promised, laughing.
Elijah glared blearily. "I will."
Orlando simply laughed, and settled himself more comfortably in the chair, slouching down until he could rest his head on the back.
And it wasn't until later, long after Elijah had fallen asleep, after Liv and Dom had poked their heads in, and whispered that they were going home and did he want to share the taxi too, after he'd shouted goodbye to them and gone upstairs in his own house, lain down on his own bed, staring at the ceiling. Only after all of that, and sleep churning at the edges of his own tipsy mind, that he wondered whether he and Elijah had been talking about the same thing.
And if not, what Elijah had been so certain he would still feel tomorrow.
In the morning, he'd forgotten the thought anyway.
* * * * *
"Cute, yes. Cuddly, yes. Fuckable, no. Sorry, Billy."
Seven beers down, bottom of the eighth, Dom's pitch. Billy offered a pout; struck out. Dom laughed, leaned over to ruffle his hair. Billy ducked out from under the hand and drained the last of his beer. "Who'd want you attracted to 'em anyway?"
Dominic faked outrage. Orlando interjected: "What precisely are we talking here? I mean, what's fuckable anyway?"
"Not Billy," Sean laughed, and Dominic spoke over the top: "It's not a what. Gotta be decided on a case by case basis, yanno?"
"So, who's fuckable, then?" Elijah rephrased, finishing his beer. "Your round, Orli." He was as bright-eyed and flushed as all of them, but he was holding it well. Practice made perfect, Orlando supposed. He gathered up the empty glasses, chiding Sean until he finished the last third of his glass.
Top of the ninth, and Orlando could hear the names being suggested even at the bar. The girl behind the bar was laughing as she poured. There came a raucous chorus of agreement for Joaquin Phoenix, but then derision and thrown peanuts as Elijah mentioned a boyband member. Orlando winked at the girl as he took up the tray of beers.
"Johnny Depp!" Dom declared, as Orlando came back to the table, slid the tray onto the table, and himself back into his seat.
"Fuck yeah," Elijah agreed emphatically, leaning over to claim a glass.
"What about our little Lij?" Billy asked wickedly, and Elijah almost choked on his first mouthful. Strike.
"Oh, he has his moments," Orlando commented quietly, and brown eyes locked with blue over the raised rim of a beer glass. There was general laughter, and conversation continuing - ("Why can't women be fuckable?" "Jesus, Astin, what are you, straight or something?" "Yeah, next you'll be telling us you're sodding married.") - but Orlando was looking straight at Elijah, at those lips shaping the word 'moments', and the quirk of an eyebrow.
Then he looked away, drank his beer, agreed with a completely straight face that he'd do Tony Blair any day of the week.
Bottom of the ninth, and they moved on to fictional characters. Snoopy was mentioned, but no one owned up to bringing him into the conversation.
In the middle of the resulting slanging match, Elijah suddenly said: "Being a Lost Boy would suck."
A pause, and the four pairs of eyes turned his way. "What?"
He looked innocent. "Well, if you never grew up, then technically, you'd never legally be allowed to have sex."
They blinked, and Dom pointed a slightly wavering finger across the table. "You are a very strange little man," he declared.
There didn't seem to be anywhere to go from there, and besides, it was closing time. So they finished their beers and left.
"How difficult d'ya reckon it would be to proposition Tony Blair?" Billy asked randomly, as they stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the next taxi.
"Do you have some weird political fetish?" Sean asked.
Billy shrugged. "Just curious."
"Easy as anything," Dominic declared. "Even if he ain't Tory. British politicians just can't help themselves."
"British anything can't help themselves," Sean muttered.
Orlando elbowed him. "Hey, I resemble that remark."
They piled into the taxi, two up front next to the bemused driver. After a rambling argument, Elijah was dropped off first, Orlando second. The silence of his nice suburban street was shattered by Dominic yelling: "Elves suck!" out the window as the taxi pulled away from the kerb. Orlando contented himself with making rude gestures at the vehicle's taillights.
He was still laughing as his mobile phone started to ring gaily. He fished it out of his pocket, and hit the little button on the second try.
And he knew immediately who, and what; his brain provided the answers with amazingly speed and lucidity. Elijah. Who had his fuckable moments.
"Yeah." He stood in his driveway in the chill night with a grin on his face and a faint flutter in his stomach. "Now and then. You know."
"I know." Two words, whiplash quick, followed by a long pause. And then he hung up.
Orlando looked at his phone for a long moment, then turned and went inside.
* * * * *
Dominic and Billy had called the gathering a "might as well be drunk as the way we are" party, and everyone was invited. Unfortunately, what with shooting late, and just how nice a hot shower was after a long day, Orlando was late. Well and truly late. The party was in full, screaming swing when he arrived, the place packed full.
He finally found the hosts out the back, sitting on the steps. Someone had tied a cask of wine to the clothesline. Orlando decided he didn't want to know, and clapped a hand down on Dominic's shoulder.
"Do you have a permit for this gathering, sir?"
Dom flinched, then leapt to his feet. "Nice of you to show up, an hour and a sodding half late. Not all of us are immortal and can wait forever, poncy elf."
Orlando grinned, and cut the tirade short by pulling the bottle out of the brown paper bag he carried.
"Of course," Dom said, tone changing smoothly, "what's time between friends? Especially friends with Absolut."
Laughing, Orlando left Dom to pull Billy to his feet, stepping back inside, bottle in hand. Then suddenly not in hand, as a figure leapt past with a gleeful: "Mine!"
"Oi!" And Orlando took off down the corridor after the giggling thief. Caught him where the crowd started thickening, wrapped both arms around his waist and swung him off his feet. Far too easy when the thief was Elijah. "Gotta ask nice, brat."
Elijah just laughed harder as Orlando turned them both around to face Dom and Billy coming down the corridor behind them. "I'll take that," Billy said, relieving Elijah of the bottle.
"Dirty thief," Orlando gasped, because Elijah wasn't heavy, but he was still a weight. "We should tickle him to death."
"No!" Elijah yelped, and started to wriggle.
Holding a double armful of squirming hobbit was more difficult, and Orlando let him slip, trying to keep hold as Elijah continued to writhe. He reached the floor in a slither, Orlando's arms around his chest now and holding him up as he sagged slightly, laughing weakly.
There were voices a long way away, and Orlando blinked, looked up. "What?"
"I said: Vodka!" Billy held up the bottle with an encouraging grin.
"Oh, yeah." He let Elijah go, took a step backwards. "Vodka's good."
Very good, he decided later, when the bottle was empty and he was threading his way through the now-empty living room carrying a half-full glass of - he sniffed at it experimentally - gin and coke.
He dropped onto the couch, stretching his legs out in front of him. Where'd everyone gone, anyway? He'd been out the back, having a cigarette and talking shit with two of the crew for the past hour or so, and now the place was deserted. There was the sound of voices out the front, but he was too comfortable now to go and investigate. They grew a bit louder - Liv's voice, calling goodnight - and then the sound of the front door opening.
Running feet on the floor, and then Elijah vaulted over the back of the couch. Orlando moved fast, managed to save his drink, as the boy bounced off again, over to the TV. "Mario Kart, Mario Kart!" he chirped, pulling out the game system.
"No fucking way." Dominic, coming around the couch in the more usual way. "I want to play something where I can shoot your arse."
Sean slid over the back of the couch backwards, ending up looking up at Orlando, his legs dangling over the back. "Come here often?" he asked, grinning, and Orlando laughed and caught one of the controllers as Elijah hurled them about.
They ended up playing some fighting game, going two at a time as the rest played spectators, rowdily. Elijah was knocked out first by Dominic, and passed his controller to Orlando, bouncing off the seat. As they waited to begin again, Orlando felt the couch back dip behind him. Turned his head slightly to see, out of the corner of his eye, Elijah leaning against the couch, eyes bright, mouth laughing.
He missed Dom's opening move and when he turned back to the screen, he was on the ground. Recovered well, though, even if he did say so himself, performed a special move with a flurry of fingers that, amazingly, seemed to hit the right buttons.
"Kill him, Dom!" Elijah called behind him.
"You wish," Orlando laughed, and moved in for the kill. Felt the couch back move behind him, felt warm breath on his ear, his cheek, could see dark hair from the corner of his eye. Concentrate. Felt the breath move down his throat, and the faintest trace of lips dragged across the nape of his neck.
Fumbled his move.
Saw Dom recover on the screen, but his eyes shivered closed as teeth nipped gently at the back of his neck. Then laughter, and his eyes snapped open to witness his death throes on TV, Elijah standing up behind him.
"Bastard!" Orlando spat, throwing down the controller and leaning back to glare up at Elijah.
Who winked. "Couldn't have you beating the guy who beat me." His grin was cheeky, bright as flashbulbs, but as Orlando simply looked at him, watched him, it dimmed, muted, less sparkly, more warm.
When Orlando smiled up at him, he looked away, but didn't move his hands, braced on the couch, fingers splayed, knuckles touching shoulder blades.
* * * * *
"How can you drink that shit?"
"That. It's fucking disgusting."
Orlando grinned at Liv. "Quickfucks are classic. They're practically staple."
"Whatever," she replied.
The conversation was being held in shouts to get over the noise of the nightclub around them, the music so loud the bassline made Orlando's leather pants vibrate against his thighs. Even pressed closed together by the mass of humanity at the bar, he still had to lean closer and get her to repeat the next line she mumbled. "What?"
"I said, you're halfway to pissed, Bloom."
He laughed, and gathered up the filled shot glasses. "And loving the trip, Tyler." He chinked one glass carefully against hers before turning and starting to weave his way out of the crowd.
They'd managed to nab a table in the corner, Dominic and Billy minding it when he got back. "Who let the children out?" he asked, setting down the glasses. Billy nodded towards the dancefloor. If Orlando stood on tiptoe, he could make Elijah and Sean out, in the midst of the shifting mass. "Well, if they aren't back in two minutes, I'm drinking theirs too."
The song wound down in under a minute, though. It was mixed flawlessly into the next, but the two errant hobbits made their way back to the table, squeezing through the crowd.
"This rocks," Elijah declared, appearing at Orlando's elbow and steadying himself with a hand on his shoulder. "Oooh, for me?"
Actually, Orlando had been intending to drink the shot he was holding on the table himself, but he didn't say anything as Elijah leant, bent over, silk-shirted chest brushing against his arm, to close his mouth over the shot glass, between Orlando's fingers. He straightened quickly, tossed his head back, and spat the empty glass into his hand with a grin.
Orlando reached for another shot, and downed it in one flick. "So, dancing looks like fun," he said.
"It is," Elijah replied.
Fun to let the steady beat tug at him as he slid onto the floor, found a space. Fun to start to move, feel the rhythm echo through his body. Fun like the rush of freefall, but quieter, slower, a warm drizzle rather than a cold shock, to be savoured. Fun to be part of the group moving in asynchronous unison.
Orlando danced, and watched Elijah, and lost himself in the music, and sang along, and watched Elijah, and danced until at one point he turned around and Elijah wasn't there, and he lost the beat. When he looked out across the spangled-lit crowd, he just caught a dark figure, familiar head still nodding to the beat, pushing into the mens' room.
He hesitated barely an instant before starting to squeeze off the dancefloor.
Elijah was on his way out, reaching for the door as he pushed it open and being startled made him squeak, step back into the tiled corner just inside the doorway. Orlando stepped forward and let the door swing shut behind him. Braced his hands on the cool tiles on either side of Elijah's shoulders, pinned him there, looked down into blue eyes.
"Orli -" Elijah managed, before he leaned in and down and stopped him speaking altogether. Kissed him. Pressed lips together so very softly before moving, sliding, tongue flickered out to taste, test, part, insinuate. Lingered, explored, considered thoroughly and thoughtfully, deeply.
And Elijah kissed back. Tongue teased, lips slanted against, hands crawled between them and clutching at the front of his t-shirt. Accepted, encouraged, returned and renewed.
Muffled by the door, the same song was playing when Orlando leaned back and up, looked down into blue eyes.
"Lij -" Orlando managed, before Elijah was moving, ducking out from underneath his arm and pulling the door open.
He was gone, back into the club, the door half-closed behind him, before Orlando could react, could throw the door wide again and start after him. Not as small, not as easy to slide through the crowd, Orlando was falling behind. Reached the door a precious minute behind him, lunged outside.
And Elijah was just closing the taxi door, it was pulling away from the kerb, but the nightclub was near a corner, and it had to stop at traffic lights. Orlando sprinted along the sidewalk, almost overshot the window, hammered on it with the heel of his hand. "Elijah, wait!"
The shadow inside moved over, into the spill of streetlight through the window. "What?" His face was so still, almost stern, ethereal in the glaring light.
In front of that, all he could say was: "The night's still young."
"We're always drunk."
"What?" Orlando didn't understand.
"You won't feel like that tomorrow," Elijah stated, like a repetition, like a promise, like a prophecy.
And then he did understand.
"Yes," Orlando answered firmly, splayed his fingers on the window of the taxi, the glass between them. "Yes, yes I will."
From the corner of his eye he could see the light turn green, and heard the taxi crunch into gear, but in front of him the face was no longer still, there was a smile, a warm glow smile.
"Good," Elijah said, and the taxi pulled away.
* * * * *
It was just one random break between shooting amidst a day full of them. Peter's attention was all on Viggo as they went over what was going wrong, and Orlando lounged against a tree as the hobbits wandered about.
He turned, looked into big, blue eyes. "Yeah?"
"Doing anything tonight?"
Blue eyes squinted away, into the sun, back again. "Want to go out for a drink?"
And there was nothing special, no thunder claps, no fundamental shift in the earth's axis, just the knowledge.
Just a warm glow smile, given and answered.
Tonight by dee
All stories are works of fan-fiction by Dee. "Fan-fiction" means that she does not own any of the core creative concepts and characters, but she does heap adulation, appreciation and awe upon those people who do hold the intellectual property rights to those concepts and characters. Further, any instances of real people are fictional, and the author does not wish to suggest any truth should be attached to the actions, emotions and words attributed to them in these fictional stories.