2. crystal ball in the attic

They visited the duplex the next day and immediately fell in love with it. A lease was signed on the spot, and two weeks later, they were wading through a sea of boxes in their new house. A lot of new furniture had been bought, seeing as Elijah's old furniture could easily fit in one room alone. They had bought new kitchen implements as well, because, "Three forks, three knives and two spoons aren't enough," Dom-the-Cook had repeatedly told Elijah while they were still in his apartment.

It was a different atmosphere in the house. For the first time in two months, they weren't living on top of one another. There was more than the additional personal space behind the changing balance, however. Dom's playfulness had dropped a big notch. Elijah missed the teasing, the -- sometimes inappropriate -- touching, and all those small things that made Dom, Dom. He found himself longing for those silly kisses Dom planted on his cheek sometimes, or those random hugs he seemed so fond of giving away.

Elijah was busy unpacking the clothes boxes in his bedroom when he noticed something in the closet.

"Dom!" he shouted. "Come see this!"

Dom left the bathroom, where he was also unpacking, and ran to Elijah's bedroom. He found his friend standing in front of his closet, clothes hanging off each arm and around his neck. Two boxes were at his side and an opened suitcase was on his brand new and as yet unmade bed. "What is it?"

"Check this out," Elijah gestured towards the ceiling.

Dom stepped into the closet and looked up. "Is that...?"

"An attic," Elijah finished for him. "Wanna take a look?"

"Can we?" Dom said. "It looks nailed shut."

Elijah let the clothes he was holding fall in a heap on the floor. "Nah, it probably just hasn't been opened in years. All it needs is a good push," he said. He took the chair he had used earlier to put light bulbs in the ceiling lamp and put it in the closet. "I wonder what's in it," he said as he climbed on the chair.

"Layers and layers of dust, I'd wager," Dom said, holding his hands a few inches away from Elijah's legs, in case he lost his footing.

"Come on, use your imagination," Elijah said, pushing up against the attic trap. "Don't you think it's filled with old hidden treasures? A chest full of abandoned clothes from last century... Love letters received from a lover away at war... Old records from the 40s... Traces and hints of everyone who's owned the house before we did."

"It's probably just an empty, dirty space between the second floor ceiling and the roof," Dom said.

"Well, there's nothing like seeing for ourselves," Elijah said. The trap gave way as he finished his sentence. It flipped inside the attic and a cloud of dust came out. Elijah's hands pushed against thin air for a short moment, which made him lose his balance. He staggered and tried to grab the clothes rod, but his hands slipped. Dom caught his legs, hoping to hold him up, but Elijah toppled over him.

They both fell to the floor and remained still for a moment, the breath knocked out of them. Elijah shook his head and blinked a few times. "Are you all right?" he asked Dom as the dust settled.

"Ow," Dom said, keeping his eyes closed. "Ow, ow, ow. Now I'm gonna bruise and it's gonna be your damn fault."

"Well, you shouldn't have been standing so close," Elijah said, standing up and dusting himself off.

Dom opened his eyes and glared at Elijah. "I was making sure you wouldn't fall down."

"Fantastic," Elijah said sarcastically. "Fan-fucking-tastic job."

"I softened the fall, at least. I don't play landing ground just for anyone, you know."

"Don't I feel all special now?" Elijah said.

Dom got up. "Dear God," he said, noticing the gray shade the dust had given the closet. "Oh well, it's your room," he shrugged.

"Hey, it's opened now," Elijah said. "Wanna go in?"

"Yeah, 'course," Dom said. He walked into the closet and looked up. "I think we can reach it with this chair. Can you pull yourself up there?"

"I think so," Elijah said, looking up in turn. "Let me try." He got on the chair, grabbed the edges of the attic entrance, and pulled himself up. He slipped in the opening, and disappeared from Dom's sight.

"Well, how is it?" Dom asked.

"Dark," Elijah said from above. "There are no windows. Go get a flashlight before you come up."

"Ok, I'll be right back," Dom said. "Don't move around too much up there, there could be exposed nails and stuff."

"Yes, mom."

It took Dom a good five minutes to find come back with a flashlight. "What took you so long?" Elijah asked, his head peeking though the trap.

"Batteries were out, I had to find new ones."

"Did you?"

"Yes," Dom said, climbing up on the chair. "Grab this, will you?" He handed the flashlight to Elijah, who turned it on as soon as it was in his hands.

"So what's it like?" Dom asked.

"Pretty cool. It's big, but there's not much here."

"Come on, help me up," Dom said, extending his arms towards the ceiling. "Fucking hell," he swore under his breath as he stretched, and immediately put a hand on his lower back.

"Are you all right?" Elijah asked, concerned.

"I'll be fine," Dom reassured him. "I'm just a bit sore from the fall earlier."

"Maybe you shouldn't come up here right now."

"I'm fine," Dom stressed. "Now move away from the door so I can get inside."

Elijah obliged, and seconds later Dom was pulling himself up through the trap. When his upper body was through, Elijah grabbed his arms and pulled him the rest of the way.

Elijah scanned the room with the flashlight. Dom stood behind him and followed the light with his eyes. The attic was large, though the ceiling was relatively low. Dom guessed it was about four feet high. As Elijah had mentioned, there wasn't much in the room. In the back, there were things covered by a blanket that had probably been white a long, long time ago. Judging by the shape, Elijah guessed they were boxes.

Dom walked towards them and Elijah guided him with the flashlight. "Prepare for a fantastic step back in time," Dom said. He knelt in front of the boxes and a cloud of dust rose around him. He coughed and waved it away, then with a swift jerk of the wrist, he remove the blanket that covered the boxes. He sat back on his heels. "Let's dig in," he said, rubbing his hands.

Elijah knelt next to him and opened a box. "Cool," he said, pulling out a very old white dress. "Do you think this was someone's wedding dress?"

"Perhaps," Dom said, opening the box in front of him. "How old do you think it is?"

"I don't know-- thirty, forty years old? What's in your box? Mine's all clothes," he said, pulling out random items then stuffing them back in carelessly.

"Junk," Dom said. "Oh," he chuckled and pulled out a book. "Lord of the Rings."

"Wicked," Elijah said. "Look how old it is. It's probably a collector's item now. You should keep it."

"Yeah, not that I'll ever read it, the pages would probably fall off."

"You probably know that book by heart, anyway," Elijah said.

"Pretty much," Dom said. "Maybe you could read it," he added with a teasing smile, as he put the book on the floor next to Elijah. He then pulled another item out of the box. It was wrapped in an old linen sheet. "Awesome, there are old 33s in here." He put the linen-wrapped object next to him and turned his attention to the old records that had been hidden under it.

"What of?" Elijah ask, moving closer to Dom and peeking over his shoulder.

"60s music. The Hollies, The Dartells, Marianne Faithfull... oh, Elvis!" he exclaimed. "Fucking hell, Beatles records!"

"Careful, Dom. You're drooling," Elijah said, amused by the unabashed excitement shining in Dom's eyes.

"But it's fucking genuine Beatles records! From the 60s!"

"It must be worth a fortune."

"Well, they're used, so maybe they're not worth that much. They're priceless to me, anyway," Dom said. "I'm gonna get them framed. Or buy one of those glass displays they use in museums..."

"I told you, there are treasures up here," Elijah said. "What's that, by the way?" He nodded towards the round shape Dom had put aside to look at the records.

"I don't know, looks like a ball," Dom said, putting the records down with utmost care before taking the object in his hands "It's light." He sat cross-legged and put the ball on his lap. He began to unwrap it. "It's like..." he laughed. "It's a crystal ball, I think." He moved his hands above it. "Do you want to know what your future holds, Elijah?" he asked, using a low and mystical voice.

Elijah pointed the flashlight towards Dom. The beam hit him directly in the face. He cringed and turned his head slightly to the right, putting a hand over his eyes. "Fuck, don't do that."

"Oh, sorry," Elijah directed the light to the floor in front of Dom.

Dom kept his eyes closed and rubbed his forehead.

"Having a vision?" Elijah asked, amused, then he realized Dom wasn't playing anymore. "What's wrong?"

"Just a headache from the fall earlier. It's getting pretty bad. Being blinded didn't help."

"I'm so sorry," Elijah said. "Look, maybe you shouldn't be up here. Let's go back downstairs." He put everything back in the boxes, with the exception of the Beatles records, which Dom was protecting like an overzealous hyena. Elijah took the crystal ball from Dom's lap with the intention of putting it away as well, but stilled as the ball crossed the beam of the flashlight. The light created a rainbow effect over the surface of the ball. "Wow," he said. "That's pretty cool." He moved the ball through the light. The colors moved inside, splashing on the sides like colored water.

"Let's bring it downstairs," Dom said.

Crouching, they made their way back to the trap. Elijah gave everything he was holding to Dom and slid down, planting his feet firmly on the chair they'd left behind. Dom gave him back the crystal ball and, between pleas of "careful, watch out, gently", the Beatles records. "Are you all right to get down?" Elijah asked when he saw that Dom was getting ready to pass through the trap. "Not dizzy or anything?"

"Um, a bit," he said. "But I can't stay up here, can I?"

"Ok, move down slowly. Aim for the chair. I'll catch you," Elijah said, moving near the edge of the chair to make room for Dom. "And I'll do a better job than you did catching me earlier, I promise."

"I feel so sorry about that."

"No hard feelings. Come on, now."

Dom turned around and slid his feet through the trap. Elijah caught his legs as soon as they were within reach and kept Dom steady as he went down. "I feel sorry for myself," Dom said. "I'm the one that got hurt." He looked down and grinned. Elijah grinned back at him. Dom's feet touched the chair, his hands grabbed Elijah's shoulders for balance, and Elijah's went arms around his waist.

They stood face to face on the small chair, an air of uneasiness passed between them for a moment as they stared at each other. Then Elijah averted his eyes, bit his lip, and looked back at Dom. "I'm sorry," he said. "For what I said the other day. About the-- in the house that day, you know?" He could see the hurt in Dom's eyes as he talked; Dom knew what moment Elijah recalled.

Dom stepped off the chair. "It's fine," he said. "It was justified. I go too far sometimes, it would've made anybody uncomfortable."

"I miss it," Elijah said softly as he followed Dom off the chair.

"You hated it."

"No, Dom, that's not true," Elijah said. "It's who you are. I miss you, the real you. And maybe it does make me uncomfortable, lately, but that's my own problem to deal with."

Dom put a hand on Elijah's arm. "Look, I -- Wait. Just lately?"

"No! Well, yes, but--"

"Fuck, this is all my fault," Dom said, letting go of Elijah's arm and running a hand through his hair. "I didn't think I'd gotten worse, but you know how I get when I'm nervous."

"You're not-- It's me-- Nervous?" Elijah frowned. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"Nothing, nevermind." Dom said, turning around and heading for the door. "I'll keep myself in check from now on."

"No, that's the thing, please don't. Be yourself, I'll deal with my prob-- Am I the one that's making you nervous? Why?" He put the crystal ball and the records on an unopened box labeled "clothes" and followed Dom.

"Look, we just moved in together, let's not go there." Dom said. "I need to get some aspirin."

"Dom!" Elijah grabbed his arm and held him back. "Fuck, you can't just put all these ideas in my head and brush me off! Tell me what's going on!"

"You don't want to know."

"Yes I do," Elijah shouted.

"You want to know why I'm nervous around you?" Dom shouted back. "Why I blush and stumble on my words? Or can you really not figure that one out on your own?"

"Oh, yes, I can. You wanna know what I think? I think you're attracted to me, that's the thing."

"I said I don't want to go there right now," Dom said. "The timing couldn't be worse. Just forget about it."

"Fine. I'll just assume I was right."

"Fine!" Dom exited the room, slamming the door behind him.

"Fine! Just go take your fucking aspirin!" Elijah shouted. He stood in the middle of the room and crossed his arms. "Fuck," he said to himself, then busied himself unpacking the half-empty suitcase on the bed.

When the suitcase was emptied, he zipped it shut and shoved it under the bed. He took the crystal ball and Beatles records from the top of the box next to him and put them on the bed. He opened the box and began pulling clothes out of it.

The door opened slowed, creaking on its hinges. "Look, I'm sorry," Dom said, his head peeking in the room. "I didn't want you to find out this way."

"You didn't want me to find out at all," Elijah said, folding his clothes without looking at Dom.

"That's true," Dom said, stepping into the room.

"And why not?"

"Well, the usual, you know-- don't want to ruin a great friendship, afraid of rejection..."

"You think I would've rejected you."

"No, I think you're refusing to look at me because you're so in love with me," Dom said sarcastically.

"Dom, enough," Elijah said, turning around. "Just be honest with me."

Dom remained silent.

"Fine, I'll start," Elijah said. "I feel something for you. It's more than friendship, definitely more. I don't know if it's love. I think it is, or it could be, eventually. I know that lately hugs from you feel a lot different than, say, Billy's, I know that I get shivers down my spine when you touch my skin, and that whenever you kiss me, I get har--" he cleared his throat. "Well. You know. So that's why it's been so difficult lately to deal with all those physical displays of affection coming from you. I felt guilty about enjoying them when you were clueless about how much I was, in fact, enjoying them. I felt like I was using you in a way. But I realized that not having those hugs and kisses was even harder. You're my friend first and foremost, Dom, and those displays of affection were always a part of our friendship and will always be, whether we take it further or not." He expelled a long breath. "Ok, your turn."

Dom smiled. He looked at Elijah for a moment then blushed. "Sorry. I'm... well, I guess you can say I'm speechless." He walked towards Elijah. "But I think that'll do," he whispered before leaning in and kissing Elijah softly and briefly.

"You know... words aren't always necessary," Elijah said as Dom stepped back.

"Exactly," Dom said. With his hands on Elijah's cheeks, he pulled him into another kiss. Elijah put his hands on Dom's waist and dug his fingers into the jeans, bringing him closer. They sat on the edge on the bed. The crystal ball rolled off the slightly flattened mattress and hit the carpet without a noise. They never noticed when it started spinning and growing.

* * *


© 2003 uluviel / fourhobbits.net