Title: "Fire and Ice: Ice"
Summary: It's cold on the "Cirith Ungol" set...
Disclaimer: Never happened. I don't own Elijah and Sean. Wish I did, but no.
Story Notes: This story is part 1 of 3. Sequels are "Fire" and "Melted".
* * *
It is a very normal day on the set. Elijah and I are in our dressing room in the studios, slowly transforming into Frodo and Sam. We're having our prosthetic feet applied at the moment, and afterwards it'll be ears and wigs. It is, as usual, some ungodly hour in the morning and we've risen before the sun. We are both standing on boxes, letting dry the glue that will hold our feet in place, before they add the hairs on top.
Just as Dominic joins us in the dressing room, Elijah yawns and stretches, and his t-shirt rides up, exposing his stomach. Dominic seizes the occasion and pokes him like you would a very thin Pillsbury doughboy. "Good morning, Frodo." Elijah jumps and nearly loses his balance at the unexpected poking. The foot guy glares at Dominic as he steadies Elijah. "Hey, be careful."
"Sorry," Dominic says unrepentantly, laughing and shrugging.
"So, Lij," he says as he removes his jacket, "looking forward to today's scenes?"
"Uh, I guess so, yeah. Why?"
"Exciting scenes, today. Don't you think?"
"We're spending the whole fucking day in blue screen, Dom. It's nothing to get excited about."
"Oh, you haven't heard." Dominic says, and he smiles wickedly.
"What?" Elijah asks in a worried tone. I become apprehensive myself.
"Change of schedule. We're shooting some Isenguard scenes today, while you and Sean are doing the Cirith Ungol scenes."
Cirith Ungol? Oh no. I wish we'd been told beforehand. I would've liked to prepare for it, and I'm sure Elijah shares my opinion. We usually like to discuss our scenes together beforehand, at least whenever we have some emotional acting to do (not much discussion needed when all your scene consist of is slamming a frying pan in an orc's face).
"You'll be naked on the floor of the Cirith Ungol tower all day. Ain't that nice?" Dominic says, reaching up to squeeze Elijah's shoulder in passing. He sits on a chair behind us and is busy taking off shoes and socks when Billy enters.
"Hello, hobbits!" Billy says, bouncing into the room. He is either in a very good mood, or filled with caffeine. Probably the latter.
I greet the hyperactive Pippin who's just entered, then turn to Elijah and ask him quietly, "Are you all right?" Beyond the very emotional mood of the scene, there is the fact that Elijah needs to be naked for it that worries me.
I'm sure he was made very aware of that we he signed on, but we've never discussed it together and I don't know how he feels about doing nudity. I know if it were me, I'd be completely uncomfortable, especially given the extra pounds I am carrying, but I'd have signed on anyway. You don't just turn down Lord of the Rings because you're a little on the prudish side.
"Kind of nervous, actually." He says, and Dominic starts laughing. "Shut up," Elijah says promptly.
"It's not that bad, actually, Lij." Dominic says, and I can feel through his voice that he's genuinely trying to reassure Elijah. He may be pulling jokes and laughing at us sometimes, but deep down Dominic cherishes his friends dearly and is beyond caring when he needs to be. "I did it once and didn't find it nerve-racking."
"Said the guy who mooned us last night," Billy adds.
Dominic grins at Billy. "I'm sure you enjoyed it."
"You made my day, hell, my week, Dommie."
Billy flicks the back of Dominic's head. "No, moron. I don't need to see your hairy ass."
While Dumb and Dumber are arguing, I put a hand on Elijah's arm and ask him, once again, "Are you going to be all right?"
He grabs my hand in his. "I'll be fine, Sean. It's a closed set, anyway. You worry too much about me," he says, smiling at me.
"I'm just getting into character," I say, making Elijah laugh.
"Then you must be perpetually in character."
"Sam Gamgee's not a bad person to be, if you get my meaning, Mr. Frodo," I say, using Sam's accent. It's true, Sam's a very good hobbit, though maybe too good sometimes. He's got this 'Mr. Frodo can't do no wrong' vibe, which I don't share with him, at least not when I put Elijah and myself against our characters. I don't know if Mr. Frodo 'can't do no wrong', but I know very well that Elijah can, sometimes. I've seen him do pretty stupid things. But he's just 19, and I love him enough to over-regard all this.
Dominic grabs my attention again with a very loud, "My ass is so not hairy." To give him credit, it isn't -- something I'd rather not have known, but Dominic seems to enjoy mooning people these days, and I haven't escaped it. I'm beginning to think he's made it his personal goal that by the time the shot his over, the entire crew and cast must've seen his butt. Or maybe he's just lost a bet. "I think you need another glimpse, Billy."
Billy lets out an interesting sound that would be similar to a Nazgul who's been kicked in the balls. "No," he screeches. He bolts out of the room, Dominic at his pursuit. At least now that they've left only Billy will be subjected to Dominic's mooning. Because I know Dominic by now, the persistent little snit -- Billy will be subjected to it.
Elijah is laughing next to me and I just shake my head, smiling. At least everyone's in a good mood this morning, which is great, because we have a long day ahead, Elijah and me.
* * *
Thankfully when we got on the Cirith Ungol set, we had a bit of time until all was ready to shoot to discuss the scene. Now, we're rehearsing a few of our lines, just putting them in our heads. Then everything is ready, and everyone leaves the room save a few people. Elijah sheds the bathrobe he's been wearing.
The make-up crew has covered his entire body in fake bruises, blood and dirt, and they've done a good job, because it nearly breaks my heart when I see it.
Peter tells us exactly where we have to be. I stay by the side, as I'm supposed to come barging in the room, and Elijah lies on the floor. "Holy shit," he lets out. "This floor's cold as hell." And it must be, because I can feel it through my prosthetic feet and their soles consist of nearly an inch of rubber. Even Peter's wearing shoes today, and it's understandable -- we're in the basement of the Three Foot Six studios, on a floor made of rocks, and it's the middle of July.
I become Sam for the moment of the take. I run in, swoop Frodo into my arms, cradle him to me and whisper words of comfort in his ear. I kiss his forehead tenderly. Then Peter says "Cut!" and I let go of Elijah. We both resume our original positions, ready to do it again.
Elijah makes it easy. He makes our acting real. While we did the scene that first time, he got a genuine reaction of out me. The expression on his face, the shaking through his body, the weak sobbing against my shoulder -- it all overwhelmed me. I even felt his fingernails dig into my back -- which says a lot, considering the numerous layers of clothes I'm wearing, and the very short length of Elijah's nails.
We do the scene again. This time Elijah's intense reaction doesn't take me by surprise, but it doesn't mean what I could feel and portray was lessened; I love him and he's hurting deeply.
We do take after take for hours. Peter wants nothing less than perfection, and I feel the same. This scene is such a turning point for Frodo, we can't mess it up. After three hours, I notice that Elijah doesn't even stop sobbing between takes anymore. But that's not was worries me, because my tears don't stop between takes, either. It's the incessant shaking and increasing coldness of his body that make me doubt that it's not all just acting anymore. In an earlier take, he pressed his nose against my cheek and I nearly dropped him to the ground in surprised. He was freezing cold.
We stop for a moment while Peter makes some light tests, and Elijah puts on the bathrobe and curls up in his chair. I sit next to him and extend my hand to gently squeeze the back of his neck. "How are you holding up?" I ask. He simply nods and I run my fingers through his hair -- it's much less cold than the skin of his neck. After a moment he closes his eyes and whispers, "I'm cold."
"I know." I say softly, and as I press a kiss on his cheek, I'm almost scared that my lips will stay suck there the way they would on cold metal in the winter.
I walk up to Peter and stand by his side a moment, not wanting to disturb his work. When he's done, he turns to me, and I say, "Peter, Elijah's really cold. I think we should stop for a while."
Peter looks at Elijah. He's loosened the bathrobe to bare his upper body so that he could get some of the make-up on his shoulders fixed, and the make-up artist has troubles because he can't stop shaking. "Do you think he'll be good for another half hour, forty-five minutes?"
"Maybe," I answer, "but you know Elijah. If you ask him to keep going until he passes out, he will."
"We'll try to get this done quick. This afternoon we'll film your escape from Cirith Ungol, and he'll be clothed. It'll be better then."
I nod and go back to my chair next to Elijah, who's putting his bathrobe back on. "Less than an hour and we're done," I tell him. "Can you handle that?"
"Yeah," he says, with some bravado. I see in his eyes that he isn't quite sure of it.
I take his hands in both of mine, squeezing them and trying to warm them up. "Thanks," he whispers, "that feels really nice."
I bring his hands to my mouth and blow on them. "Anything I can do to help." He smiles sweetly at that and I can't help but smile in return.
* * *
When we're finally done for the morning, Peter and the crew leave for the cafeteria, and I follow them to get coffee for myself and Elijah, who went directly to our dressing room as soon as the scene was completed.
As I'm walking back with a styrofoam cup of coffee in each hand, I realize that I am a bit cold too. The coffee feels hotter than usual against my fingertips. I'm beginning to realize that my feet are rather cold as well. But other than that, I feel fine, and I am probably in a much better shape than Elijah is.
When I enter the dressing room, he's sitting on the couch, knees drawn up, wrapped in a tightly knit wool blanket. His face lights up when he sees me with coffee. He extends his hand as if he were a little child who's just seen his favourite toy in my hand. "Careful," I warn him. "You're shaking."
He holds the cup with two hands and takes a sip. "Hmm, this is great. You're fantastic Sean," he says as he puts the cup on a small table next to the couch armrest. "It's kind of burning my fingers," he explains sheepishly.
"You know what would be really nice right now?" I tell him. "A warm shower."
He closes his eyes and moans at the thought. "Oh yeah. That'd be amazing."
"Too bad we're wearing those prosthetics. There's a shower right over there." I pointed to the private bathroom we had in our dressing room.
"I'd get lynched if I jumped in there right now, wouldn't I?"
"Lynched doesn't even begin to describe it."
He takes another sip of coffee, then licks some of the coffee off his lips, unintentionally wiping off some of his make-up, and I notice a weird colour on his bottom lip. It's almost purple.
"Come here," I say to Elijah. I lick my thumb to moisten it and use it to wipe the remainder of the lipstick off his lip. He almost crosses his eyes to try and see what I'm doing, and I have to admit it must seem very odd. I should've told him first. But those thoughts fly from my head when the make-up finally comes off. "Dear God..." I let out.
"What is it, Sean?" he asks.
"Your lips are really, really blue. How cold are you, exactly?" I can't help it, and now I'm worrying about things like hypothermia, pneumonia or amputed toes. I'm that close to ripping his prosthetics off and throwing him in that shower right now.
I put a hand on his cheek. He looks like he's about to cry. "I've never been so cold in my life," he finally admits.
I gather him into my arms. "Hey, shh, you'll be all right," I whisper into his hair. "You know, what helps the most when you're cold is someone else's body heat. I'm willing to share the little bit I have."
He scoots closer to me and wraps his blanket around both of us. "Put your hands on my stomach," I say, and I untuck my shirt. "It'll warm them up for sure." He slips his hands under my shirt and I brace myself for the coldness to come. Still, when his fingers touch my skin, I jump up. It's like someone has dropped ice on my body.
He presses his entire body against mine, squeezing his hands between us. My arms find their way around his and I hug him to me. "Is it working?"
"Quite well," he says, and I hear the smile in his voice confirming it indeed does. "But it's an uncomfortable position, and I'm really off balance."
I'd noticed that, because I was practically holding him up. So I lie down on the couch and pull him on top of me.
He becomes restless and moves as if he was really uncomfortable. "What's going on? Am I not comfy enough for you?"
"My robe kinda feel open," he says.
I chuckle. "And this bothers you, after you spent the entire morning naked in my arms?"
"I just thought it'd bother you."
"It doesn't. You know what? You should lose the robe. It's not doing anything to warm you up; in fact it's doing the opposite." It does feel quite cold under my fingers, which makes sense, seeing as it spent a good portion of the morning on the floor of the set.
Elijah sits back and takes off the bathrobe. Then he lies on top of me again, and pulls the blanket over us both. I wrap my arms around him, under the blanket, and rub some warmth into his back.
He presses his face against my neck, and I let out an "Ah!" of surprise when his frozen nose touches me. "Sorry," he says. "Should've warned you." At least his breath feels warm against my neck. It's good to know he's not frozen to the bones.
He slips his hands under my shirt again, and we stay in silence for a long time. When he speaks up, he says the last thing I expected him to say. "You've got a hairy stomach."
I roll my eyes and ignore the comment, and he laughs even though he couldn't see me, as if he'd guessed my reaction. Little puffs of air come out of his mouth with his laughs and tickle my neck. It's pleasant, and I search my mind to find something funny to say so they'll keep coming, but I don't have to, because when he stops laughing, it's a moist mouth that presses against my neck.
This takes me by surprise. He's kissed me before, countless of times, as I've kissed him, but never there. It was always the cheek, the forehead or the top of the hair, but never the neck.
His kiss sends chills down my body, and it's not because of the cold; his mouth is much warmer than it felt earlier, when I inspected his lip. In a way, this should make me glad that he's finally defrosting.
"Thank you Sean," he kisses me again, this time a bit lower, where my neck meets my shoulder. I bite back a moan. This is my spot. "You're so good to me." Another kiss, and another, and another. Oh God, Elijah what are you doing?
I'm considering swallowing my tongue just to keep down the moans he's electing from me. I don't want him to know my reaction to these kisses -- heck, I don't want anyone to know. But then he tilts his head up slightly, and breathes in my ear, "I love you."
And then he's right above me, and I know what he's waiting for. He wants me to say something in return. And I would, only I know what he'll do then, and I can't let that happen. I just can't, but he's looking straight into my eyes with those big blues of his, and it's like he's peering straight into my soul. I wouldn't even need to say it at this point, but it comes out effortlessly. I touch his cheek with my fingertips and whisper, "I love you too. So much."
I was expecting it, but my mind goes reeling when he slightly presses his lips on mine. A thousand no's fly through my head, but I just push them aside and focus on the wonderful boy on top of me. His lips are soft and they move with tenderness and care. I open my mouth and he follows my lead, and we slowly discover the world in a way we never did before, learning ten thousand truths about each other.
I lock my fingers in his hair and hold him close to me. His hands move around under my shirt from my stomach to my sides, and there his fingertips start tiny wonderful caresses. I want him even closer, as close as physically possible, and even that doesn't seem close enough. I want to be a part of him and I want him to be a part of me.
Time and space have disappeared. I could stay like this forever. I feel like I was just existing before, and now I'm living. My blood is pumping through my veins, my senses are heightened, my mind is clear, and I'm lost in a cloudy mist of happiness.
Reality pulls me back into our little dressing room when I hear someone jiggling with the door handle, and that's when I have the horrible realization that it's not locked.
My mind is shouting to let go of Elijah, but for some stupid reason my heart seems to think that it can steal a few more microseconds of bliss, and when the door opens, Elijah and I are still kissing.
We separate quickly, but not enough. Peter's standing in the doorway, eyes large as saucers. "Shit," Elijah whispers, closing his eyes and hiding his face in my neck. I don't know what to do, so I just stare at the ceiling. After what seems like an eternity, I hear the door close and Elijah and I are left alone.
Elijah stands up holding the blanket tightly around him. I can't even move. I just stay on the couch looking straight ahead. I can't believe that for a few minutes, I completely forgot that I was married, had a daughter, and that this was my co-star I was kissing, a co-star who just happens to be male.
I never should've let it go that far. I saw it coming, I should've stopped it before it begun. Maybe it was just curiosity that pushed me into that kiss, but once I'd tasted it there was no turning back. He's like a drug and I've become terribly addicted after just one dose. I have to make sure it will never happen again.
Elijah put on a t-shirt and boxers, then his bathrobe over that. "I'm going to get something to eat," he said, without even turning to look at me. "Are you coming?"
"Yeah." It's not like I really have a choice. I'm begining to get hungry, and I need the energy for this afternoon's scenes -- which now appear more difficult than they did before. Besides, Peter would have a cow if I skipped a meal. God forbids I even lose a pound.
We walk to the cafeteria and get our food in silence. I spot Billy and Dominic sitting at a table in the back and go join them, Elijah in tow.
"Hey, mates," Dominic says as we sit.
"Oh, so, Elijah, how was it shooting the nude scenes?" Billy asks.
"It was all right," he says. "I nearly fucking froze to death though."
"Really?" Dominic raises an eyebrow. "You look rather flushed."
Elijah blushes and stammers. "Er, well, we've stopped filming about half an hour ago, so I've had time to warm up."
"Well, that's promising," Billy says. "We're going to be four hobbit-cicles when we shoot the Caradhras scenes next week."
I shudder at the thought. Billy's right. Barefoot in the snow on top of some remote mountain? I predict much complaining and suffering amongst the hobbit-folk.
* * *
Dominic and Billy had to leave shortly after Elijah and I had arrived, so we spent most of our meal in uncomfortable silence. And now we're back on the set, this time both clothed in orc rags, and we still havenít really talked since. Peter hasn't mentioned the incident but he's been giving us strange stares since we've walked on the set.
We start shooting again. We do a take, and ridiculously blow it. That was the single worst bit of acting I've ever done in my life, and judging by the look on Elijah's face, he's not too proud of himself either. We do another take and I think it's worse than the first, if possible.
The entire crew looks at us with wide eyes, probably wondering what the hell's happening. Peter sighs. "Sean, Elijah," he says, "follow me."
He brings us to the hobbit-sized Bag-End set, which is located across the hall. He stands in front of us, arms crossed over his chest. I feel like a child about to get reprimanded. But Peter's gaze isn't angry; itís disappointed.
"Listen guys," he finally says after a long silence during which Elijah and I stared at the floor more than anywhere else. "You know I don't mind what you do in your private lives, but it has to not disturb the production. Now, maybe I'm just drawing conclusions here, when Iím linking those two awful takes with what I saw earlier--"
"It's not going to happen again," I say, and I mean it. I love Elijah, but something like this taking place again would just bring too much trouble for the both of us. I look at his face and feel so bad. You'd swear I just reached in and pulled his heart out. But he quickly composes himself and the broken-hearted expression goes away.
"Like I said guys, I don't need to stick my nose into what's not my business," Peter says, "but the movie's my business, so do what you have to do to make it work." He looks at us and sighs. "I'll leave you alone for a few minutes. Come back when you're ready." Then he leaves.
Now I have to do it. I have to turn to Elijah and tell the biggest, fattest lie I've ever told. "Listen, Elijah, I..." I can barely find my words. "What I said earlier... I meant it. I do love you, but just, just not like that..."
"It's ok," he says, "I understand."
"I got caught up in the moment... The shot this morning was so emotional, I was on edge, I just, just--"
He interrupts me. "Sean, it's fine. I guess I was sort of caught up in the moment as well. Then you add hobbit behaviour to that... It doesn't transpose well to humans. We're in and out of character all the time, I guess we just got confused." But obviously hobbit behaviour has worn off, because now we're plain lying to each other's face. But whatever we need to do to get back some sort of balance, right?
"It was just a fluke," Elijah finally says, and I just nod in agreement.
"Let's forget everything that happened in the last hour," I say. I'll never be able to, but I know I'll be able to act as if I had. It's my job, after all, to act, and I can very well do it even if there's no camera in my face.
The problem is, after acting together for so long, Elijah and I know each by heart, and he can tell when I'm faking something just as well as I can when he is. If we were hobbits, we'd just tell each other that we want to do it again, but we can't. Weíd hug and cry and say things like, "itís not fair," and "you know I love you more than anything" and "I wish things were different." Instead, we just tell each other a lot of bullshit that doesn't really mean anything.
I pull him into my arms, trying to regain some of our past affections, but it's different now. It's not as uncomfortable as it was a few minutes earlier. It's terribly bittersweet and sad and it just tears me in two.
I hug him tightly and he hugs back, for a long moment. Then he says, softly, "I'm sorry, Sean. I started it. Do you think I've ruined everything?"
"No, it'll be fine. We'll be fine." I say, with more confidence in my voice than in my heart, and I kiss his forehead tenderly.
"Shall we get back?" he asks after a moment, in a somewhat cheerful -- and fake -- voice.
"Let's go back." I smile back at him. Moment's passed. Let's start pretending.