She played his sister in the movie. When he pointed that out, she laughed into his mouth, asked if that turned him on, even as she pulled his shirt over his head.
Well, not precisely, but...
Afterwards, he asked if she had someone back home.
She'd lit a cigarette, but she sat by the open window, blew the smoke outside. "That's back home," she pointed out. "I'm here."
He watched her. She was painted in moonlight that fell through the window. "So that's a yes."
She exhaled, a cloud of luminescence. "So that's a why the fuck should it matter."
Fair enough. He supposed he could live with that, if she could.
Dave had a housewarming, and though they didn't go together, they left together, almost by accident. Late, Karl left the shit-talking in the back yard, stumbled into the living room. Found the host with a lapful of laughing Miranda.
"Looking for my coat," Karl explained himself.
Miranda had her bare foot on it. Karl tugged it out from under her toes, and she slid off Dave's lap.
"You know I'm right," she said, smiling down at Dave. Bent to kiss him, low on the cheek. Slung her strappy heels over her shoulder as she pushed past Karl in the doorway.
"Dave's a darling," she told him outside, walking down the drive. "But disgustingly devoted to his wife."
Karl stopped. She kept walking. "I'm not jealous," he told her back.
She stopped as well, turned to look at him. "You coming?" she asked. "Or do you want to fuck me here?"
For a moment he considered it, but the dew was already falling, the air cold.
Instead, he drove her home. When he killed the engine outside her house, she slipped out of her seatbelt and her underwear. His gaze ran down the bared length of her legs. He told her there was a condom in the glovebox, and they did it right there in the front seat, her hips under his hands, the steering wheel against his knees, her hair falling around his face.
He watched her all the way up to her front door, shoes dangling from one hand, underwear from the other.
At some stage, he knew, he was supposed to say that he'd never known a girl quite like Miranda. But the truth was, he'd known lots of girls quite like her, if not one exactly the same. Girls in Wellington, at university, beer in hand and newly invigorated with sex and sexism, outspoken and raucous. Girls in Auckland, boutique drinks and risque flirtation in bars, blunt and independent and women of the 90s. Miranda wasn't young and insecure, brash and trying to prove herself - she was five years older than him and comfortable to the point of unbalancing everyone around her. But still, she reminded him of girls he'd known. This one, with her lustrous hair, that one, with her easy laugh, one at university with the same slow, honest smile.
He told her about that one, and she sighed knowingly, his mouth at her throat and her hands in his hair. "And this girl," she teased, gasped. "You wanted her, didn't you, and she turned you down, late teenage fumblings beneath her. So you're fucking me because it's like fucking her."
"I'm fucking you," he replied, doing just that, "because there's nothing quite like fucking you."
That, at least, he could say.
She wasn't wildfire in bed, she wasn't overwhelming and exhausting. She was an advertisement for maturity, confident in herself, confident in him. Sure and willing and easy to please. Vocal and restrained and innovative in all the right ways. Sex with her wasn't like hard work, wasn't like a competition. It was easy, the way he licked the sweat from the column of her throat, the way the curve of her breast, of her hip, fit smoothly into his palm. Sex with her was shared laughter and shared pleasure and shared. She wasn't wildfire; she was molten, languorous and undulating under his hands, under his tongue, flowing over him.
She never expected him to be anything he wasn't. He never expected anything at all.
She would show up at his place unexpectedly. He'd knock on her door unannounced and be welcome. They cornered each other on set, in odd gaps and behind fake buildings. They dirty-danced in the middle of the club floor, on a night when three quarters of the club's clientele were working on the movie, and no one batted an eyelid at Eowyn draped against her brother's body, her hands on his arse and his tongue in her mouth.
He came home one day to a message on his machine: "Damn, Karl, why aren't you in when I want to fuck you?" He called her back, but the phone rang out. She didn't have a machine.
When he asked her about it later, she laughed and bit him playfully, on the back of the neck, where his Eomer hair would hide the mark. "Am I supposed to wait around the house for you? Weeping and pining and rending my clothes? I went out."
And he supposed that was fair enough.
The hobbits had a party, because they seemed to think that being rowdy and pissed was in their contracts. Though Karl and Miranda went together - almost by accident - they left separately.
Mirand had been over at his place for most of the day. They'd gone swimming, laid out afterwards on the back verandah, drying in the sun, damp skin on damp skin as they fucked. After, they lay in a tangle of limbs and towels. She'd done the crossword in the weekend newspaper while he read the comics. She hadn't felt like going home before the party, so she'd used his shower, borrowed a shirt off him and worn it with the sleeves rolled up and the first two buttons undone.
The party was the usual sprawling mess. Someone set up an impromptu cricket pitch using a pile of empty beer cans as a wicket. It was late, and the home team were something for fuck knows how many, when Karl realised he was far too drunk to drive home.
"Right," Dave announced, rolling down his sleeves. "I'm off home. Any of you pisspots need a lift?"
Karl nominated himself, took the back steps two at a time as Dave tried to convince Hugo that he wasn't going to be able to drive himself home. He found Miranda in the kitchen, laughing, leaning against Viggo as Orlando demonstrated something. He nodded greetings all round, told Miranda: "I'm getting a lift with Dave."
She smiled, leaned away from Viggo's side to peck his cheek. "You go on. I'll be right." She settled back.
Karl called shotgun, and Dave dropped Hugo off first. They sat at a red trafficlight, and Karl fiddled with the radio while Dave drummed fingers against the steering wheel.
"You and Miranda," he said suddenly. "Are you...?"
Karl stopped fiddling. The light turned green as Crowded House sang that you'd better be home soon. He waited, Dave didn't continue. "Go on, pick a verb. Any verb."
"Are you exclusive?" Dave finished.
"No." He hadn't expected that, answered before he really thought about it. Watched suburbia outside the window, shadowed by his own reflection. "No," he repeated, "I don't know. We haven't... it's not like that."
Dave smiled over at him. "Sorry I asked."
Karl laughed, turned to face him. "No you're not, you smug bastard."
Dave just shook his head, eyes on the road.
Even after Dave had dropped him off, Karl found that the song on the radio had got stuck in his head, and he was singing along as he walked up the drive: "And I know I'm right, for the first time in my life."
The next day he took her clothes back to her house, and she was alone, wearing dark glasses and her hair loosely knotted at her neck, drinking tea. They had sex with her stretched over the kitchen bench, her hair coming loose to slither across the surface. Afterwards, she made him a cup of tea as well. He didn't ask about the night before.
But two days later, when he showed up at her house in the early evening dusk, she answered the door slightly breathless, with her hair tumbled around her shoulders. When he followed her into the living room, Viggo was standing by the open window with a glass of wine, the open bottle on the sill.
"Oh," Karl said. "Am I interrupting?"
"Of course not," Viggo said easily. Always so at ease.
Miranda smiled at him, put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't be silly, you're always welcome."
"Actually," Karl said, put his hands in his pockets. "I just came past to ask if I could borrow your Crowded House CD."
Laughing, open and honest, Miranda turned away. "An Aussie lending Crowded House to a Kiwi? There's something wrong about that." She cast Viggo a brilliant smile, and left the room with a: "I'll be right back."
Viggo tilted his head as he considered Karl. Leaving his wine on the window sill, he crossed the room. "How's filming?"
Karl shrugged. "Oh, you know." He turned away, but was stopped by Viggo's hand on his arm.
The other man's voice was quiet, barely a mumble. "If there's a problem..."
"There's no problem," Karl told him. Looked him in the eyes - quiet, still eyes that sort of reminded him of Miranda's - and shrugged off the hand. "I just don't want to be here, OK?"
Viggo stepped back, gave Karl space. "That's fair enough."
If anyone had been going to hold an impromptu on-set picnic, Karl would have been willing to lay down money it was going to be Miranda. He wouldn't have lost.
They'd been supposed to go back to the canteen for lunch, but time dragged on, and the niggling incidents piled up, and it became obvious that wasn't going to happen. Tempers frayed in the sun and stress. Karl sighed, sat on a rock in a patch of shade, and still sweated under his costume. Viggo came over to join him.
"If Mohammad won't go to the mountain..." the American murmured.
Karl squinted up at him. "What?"
Viggo looked down, and smiled. "Miranda and one of the techs have gone back to bring lunch."
It was perfectly done, the picnic set up so that those not involved in filming could eat. PJ declared he owed the organisers a case of beer each. Karl called Miranda a goddess, caught her around the waist and gave her a kiss.
She laughed, told him to get his sweaty man-armour away from her, but she still kissed him back, passed him a sandwich before she disappeared.
Karl settled back on his rock. Viggo appeared back at his elbow, plate full of potato salad. "Move over. Share the shade."
There was room for two. Karl shifted. Viggo balanced his plate on one knee. "She's a lot of woman."
Miranda was in the crowd, laughing, dabbing whipped cream on Dave's nose. Karl shifted again, but only to get comfortable on the rock, to find a new position now that he'd been moved. "She is." Took a bite of his sandwich, and offered: "She reminds me of girls I used to know."
"Me too." Viggo looked at him, and laughed. "Everyone should know a girl like Miranda. If only to keep perspective."
He couldn't have put it better himself.
She came over, hips swaying under her Eowyn dress, a plate in each hand. She almost looked the part, providing for the warriors. Though Eowyn never smiled like that, or at least not on film. Smiled like that in his bed, letting the sheet fall as she slid a hand over his chest. He wondered if she smiled at Viggo like that. He wondered how Viggo smiled back.
"Cake?" They took them simultaneously, thanked her in unison. She laughed, leaned forward to smack kisses on their cheeks, his, then Viggo's. "You're as cute as hobbits," she declared, and turned away in a swirl of hair and skirt.
They sat, watched the sunlit world. "Good cake," Karl noted. Viggo grunted agreement, licking icing off his thumb. It was good cake.
"That CD you borrowed off Miranda..." Viggo began.
"Crowded House," Karl provided, setting aside his empty cake plate, and leaning back on the rock. His shoulder brushed Viggo's. "One of the great New Zealand bands."
Viggo nodded, didn't look at him as he said: "I'd like to hear it some time."
Tilted his head back, smiled at the foliage above them. "Well, maybe some time you have a free evening, you can come over and listen."
Viggo shifted beside him, against his shoulder. "Like tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow sounds perfect."
That night, Miranda knocked on his door, was kissing him before he even had it closed behind her. Despite her urgency, they took their time, languishing in bed, with slow caresses and long, deep silences. Just like that first night, the moonlight was bright, falling through the window, silvering the sweat on Miranda's throat as she arched back. And Karl knew that he might never get tired of the way she gasped his name as she came. Never get tired of her nails pressed into his shoulder blades.
He lay on top of the sheets, watched through half-lidded eyes as she dressed.
"What were you and Vig talking about at lunch?" she asked, T-shirt muffling her voice.
He smiled. "You."
She was a little surprised, he could tell, and her smile was wide and honest. Her smile. Not really at all like that girl from university. She bent down to kiss him again before she left.
Aragorn and Eomer fought back to back all day, sweating with exertion, saying nothing beyond heavy, fifty-year-old words. That evening, they stretched out side by side on the rug in Karl's living room, the last of the bottle of wine poured into their glasses. Music - one of the great New Zealand bands - filled the room, and they said nothing at all.
Later, Miranda called him, voice warm and thick as molasses. "Hey, you're there. Want to be here?"
Karl felt Viggo's hand on the small of his back, warm on bare skin, fingers smoothing up his spine. "Not tonight. I'm sort of busy."
He could almost see her smile. "Well," she said, "fair enough."
Fair Enough 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.