A Wink Before Leaving by Lbilover

Inspired by a convention I attended. It's all grist for the mill. :-)


“Oh man, look who’s appearing at the con,” Jason said as he scanned the schedule of events posted in the lobby of the Framingham Sheraton. “Sean Astin.” He spoke almost reverently.


“Who?” Elijah asked absently. He was eyeing a guy dressed as Darth Vader who was standing next to a model of R2D2.


“Sean Astin. You know, the guy who starred in ‘Rudy’. He’s doing a Q&A at noon.”


“What the fuck is ‘Rudy’ and why should I care?”


Jason stared at his friend in amazement. “What, have you been living under a rock your whole life or something? ‘Rudy’ is one of the greatest sports movies ever made.”


“Oh, sports.” Elijah rolled his eyes. “Not my thing.”


“You’re such a snob, Elwood. Well, your thing or not, we’re going to his Q&A. I fucking love that movie and ‘The Goonies’, too.” Jason gave him a suspicious look. “You have heard of ‘The Goonies’, haven’t you?”


“Sure,” Elijah lied. He had not the faintest clue what Jason was talking about. But he spread his hands, shrugged and said, “Okay, we’ll go to the guy’s Q&A. Coming here was all your idea, anyway. I’m just along for the ride.


“Yeah, and who nearly jizzed his pants when he caught sight of the DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ parked outside?”


Elijah laughed. “Guilty as charged. But you know I’m a geek not an athlete.” He pulled his iPhone out and took a photo of Darth and R2D2.


“‘Rudy’ isn’t about athletics. It’s about achieving your dreams and not letting anyone tell you you’re not smart or talented enough to succeed.”


“Oh, a movie with a Message. Even worse.”


“Yep, a fucking snob,” Jason said, but goodnaturedly.


They bought their tickets, got the backs of their hands stamped, and wandered around the concessions, a geek’s paradise. Elijah became absorbed at a booth that sold rare DC comics and barely noticed when Jason said he was going to get an autograph from Sean Astin.


He had no idea how much time had passed when Jason reappeared, beaming like Father Christmas. “Check this out, Lij,” he said gleefully, and thrust a glossy 8x10 photograph under his nose. “Rudy Fuckin’ Ruettiger!”


Rudy, or rather the actor who played him, was an earnest looking young guy with thick chestnut hair, a pug nose and a letter jacket that said ‘Irish’. The photo was signed: Jason, don’t ever stop dreaming. Sean ‘Rudy’ Astin.


“Cute,” Elijah observed, and he meant it. Maybe the Q&A wouldn’t be a total bore with some prime eye candy to stare at, because speaking of dreams, Sean Astin had rather dreamy eyes.


“Don’t get your hopes up, Lij. That movie came out over 15 years ago. Sean must be at least 40 now - way older than you.”


Elijah shrugged. “All I said is that he’s cute. You’re the one with the giant man crush.”


“Fucker,” said Jason, but he was smiling. “He was awesome, as a matter of fact. Couldn’t have been nicer. So, what are you buying?”


After debating the merits of several collectible comics, Elijah made his choices, paid for them, and he and Jason made their way to the room where the Q&A was going to be held. They were early enough to get seats in the front row, although Elijah would have preferred to sit farther back. He was sure there were other people, honest to gosh fans, who deserved a front row seat way more than he did.


The room was nearly SRO by the time Sean Astin arrived. That the audience was largely made up of devoted fans was clear; there was an undeniable electricity in the air, a buzz of excitement, and when a side door opened and the actor entered, or rather bounded into, the room, a casually dressed bundle of energy in jeans, a black jacket and a gray tee shirt, spontaneous applause erupted around Elijah. Most of the audience, including Jason, started chanting, ‘Rudy, Rudy, Rudy’.


It was clear that here was a phenomenon Elijah had entirely missed out on. But he got it - he was after all a geek with a shitload of Star Wars action figures in his closet. What he got even more, though, was an almost visceral shock at seeing Sean Astin in person.


Jason was right; Sean was older than him by a good ten years. But shit, the cute young guy in the letter jacket had become a devastatingly attractive mature man, and he was exactly Elijah’s type. It would be no hardship to sit and feast his eyes on Sean Astin for an hour. Suddenly the front row seat was a gift. Bless Jason’s ‘we’ve gotta get there early to get good seats’ mantra.


A table stood at the head of the room with a chair set ready behind it. Instead of sitting down, however, the actor took the chair and moved it in front of the table, effectively removing at the same time any formal distance between him and the audience. It was a generous thing to do, thought Elijah, and spoke volumes about the kind of guy Sean Astin was. Sean took off his jacket, draped it over the chair back and sat down. “Hi everyone,” he said with a wide smile. “Thank you for coming out to see me today.”


As he spoke, his eyes traveled around the room. When they reached Elijah, they paused. And as if they were acting out a scene in some sappy Hollywood romance, the world actually disappeared, dissolved away, and Elijah lost awareness of everything except the warm green gaze that held his own. Fuck. Oh fuck. He’s gorgeous… Then the actor’s eyes moved on, releasing Elijah from their hold, and Elijah sat, stunned, his heart beating so quickly that he felt almost light-headed. Sweat had actually broken out on his forehead, and his palms were damp. Jesus. He glanced at Jason, half expecting him to be staring at Elijah with a question in his eyes, but his friend didn’t appear to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. An encounter that had seemed to last a very long time must in reality have lasted mere moments. He discovered his hands were trembling faintly; he slid them under his thighs and willed the strangeness away. But it wouldn’t go.


The moderator asked Sean a few questions to get things started. Elijah paid little attention, too busy grappling with whatever had happened a few minutes earlier. He thought that Sean Astin’s eyes slid his way a couple times, although it might have been either wishful thinking or terror on his part. Because Elijah was terrified. Stuff like this didn’t happen in real life. It couldn’t. Could it?


Or was it in fact possible that a momentary exchange of glances could shake a person to his core, make him feel as if his very cells had been rearranged in the aftermath so that he no longer knew himself?


He stared at Sean sitting a bare few feet away, and wondered: Did you experience the same thing? Oh, but what were the odds? Sean Astin was a celebrity; he was used to being a cynosure, to making fleeting eye contact with his fans and moving on, thinking nothing of it.


The questions continued, and Sean answered every one with thoughtfulness and patience, but none of them particularly interested Elijah as they mostly dealt with the actor’s movie roles. The questions Elijah had were very different: intensely personal ones, in fact. Was Sean gay? Was he in a relationship? He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, Elijah noted, and he was close enough to tell that Sean hadn’t worn one recently - there was no lighter band of skin untouched by sun on his ring finger. Not that that meant anything necessarily. And even if he was queer and unattached, Elijah very much doubted that Sean ever let himself get involved with fanboys. There was an honesty and integrity about the man that said he wasn’t the kind to indulge in meaningless flings.


But Elijah wasn’t a fanboy. In fact he didn’t know shit about the guy except that with that one look, he had knocked Elijah’s world off-kilter. Only, Sean would have no way of knowing that, and how could Elijah tell him? It's not your fame that interests or attracts me. It's you. Just you.


“We’re almost out of time. I’ll take one last question for Sean,” the moderator said.


Almost of its own volition, Elijah’s arm shot into the air. Jason gave him a startled look, but Elijah ignored him. A crazy recklessness swept over him, a feeling of exhilaration. What the fuck did he have to lose, anyway?


The moderator nodded and pointed at him. “Go ahead.”


And then Sean Astin was staring directly at him, no passing glance this, but a full bore stare. His eyes were clear and green behind gold-rimmed glasses and held a faint question. Elijah met them boldly.


“Bottom or top?” he asked. Beside him Jason stiffened. “Lij!” he hissed. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”


A scattering of embarrassed titters came from some in the crowd, confused or shocked silence from others. But the actor’s composure never faltered for a second. He continued calmly to hold Elijah’s gaze as he quipped, “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never slept in a bunk bed.”


Relieved laughter rippled through the room, and with disaster so neatly averted, the moderator quickly moved to wrap things up.


“Let’s give Sean a big round of applause, folks.”


And they did, a standing ovation in fact. But Elijah didn’t get to his feet. The sense of exhilaration was passing and he was beginning to experience an excruciating sense of embarrassment in its place. What the fuck had he been thinking to ask a question like that? He owed Sean an apology - a huge one. He’d been utterly gracious in what must have been one of the most awkward situations any ‘fan’ had ever put him in.


Sean retrieved his jacket and shrugged it on, while Elijah tried to work up the nerve to go up to him and apologize before it was too late. But it turned out not to be necessary to go to the mountain. It came to him. Sean walked straight to him and held out his hand.


Elijah took it; Sean’s clasp was warm and firm, his expression earnest. It gave Elijah the courage he needed to say, “Look, I’m really sorry I said that, put you on the spot that way. It was completely out of line. I hope you can forgive me.”


Jason was watching them with frank curiosity. Other people hovered in the background, clearly wanting a moment with Sean, too. But to Elijah it was as if he and Sean were encased in a glass bubble, cut off from the rest of the world. Sean didn’t let go his hand, didn’t stop looking deeply into his eyes, as if searching Elijah's very heart for some truth he sought.


“Don’t apologize,” Sean said after a few moments, still holding onto his hand. “It’s okay, honestly. Tell me, what’s your name?”


Elijah almost sagged with relief. “Elijah Wood.”


“Then hello, Elijah Wood. I’m pleased to meet you.” And Sean smiled.


“Same here, Sean Astin.” Elijah smiled back.


After a few more moments Sean dropped his hand with seeming reluctance and started checking his pockets. “Listen, as much as I’d like to talk more with you, Elijah, I have to catch a plane back to California in a couple hours. If I don’t make tracks, I’ll miss my flight.”


While Elijah struggled to suppress a crushing and irrational sense of disappointment at the news, Sean brought out a buff-colored business card and a pen, and quickly scribbled something on the back.


"Take this," he said when he was done, and held out the business card to Elijah. As Elijah took it, a man standing behind Sean said, "Sean, we better get going."


"In a sec," Sean tossed over his shoulder. "My publicist," he added. "He keeps me on the straight and narrow. Mostly."


And then... Sean winked at him. It was hands down the most flirtatious, impish, drop dead sexy wink any human had ever winked, Elijah was absolutely certain of it.


Mouth hanging open slightly, Elijah stared after Sean as he strode toward the exit, and fuck if he didn’t want to rush after him, tackle him, tear his clothes bodily from him and ravish him right there on the spot. Shit. The man was totally lethal - and he knew it, too, damn him.


“Lij, you are one fucking crazy bastard,” said Jason. “What did Sean write on that card? The phone number of his libel attorney?”


Elijah jerked his gaze away from the doorway through which Sean had disappeared and looked down at the business card. He flipped it over. What Sean had written was: Top, of course. Call me tomorrow to discuss further. Sean. And beneath the message he’d added a phone number.


A smile tugged at Elijah’s lips. “Something like that,” he replied, and pocketed the card with infinite care.