Love the One You're With by Lbilover

His first Valentine's Day since the divorce was right around the corner and never had Sean felt more alone. Not that he had any regrets. It had been the right thing to do for everyone concerned. But buying a dozen red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates, making a reservation at a romantic restaurant for an intimate dinner for two, slow dancing to 'their' song, was practically programmed into his DNA. Sure, the conventions had lost meaning for him and Christine in the aftermath of New Zealand, but he was both a romantic and a traditionalist. He wanted them to have meaning again.


At times like this Sean was humbly grateful for his Twitter followers. They never failed to give him a lift, and already the 'Happy Valentine's Day, Sean' (or Samwise or Rudy or Mikey) messages were popping up on his feed, like virtual versions of those candy hearts inscribed with messages: small but intensely sweet. Some of the messages were borderline flirtatious, as his unattached status was now common knowledge on the interwebs, but none crossed over the line. In a strange way, he was almost disappointed that no one made an obvious play for him. His ego had taken quite a beating of late and he could have used a bit of morale boosting.


And then he came to this: @SamwiseSecretAdmirer: @SeanAstin, are you available for Valentine's dinner?


A sane, sensible celebrity would have scrolled right past and ignored the tweet. Sean was well aware of what had happened to Dom and to other celebrities who had gotten personally involved with fans via Twitter, and god knew he'd been burned himself back in the day with Bit of Earth. But perhaps because of his vulnerable mood and stinging ego, Sean quickly replied to the tweet, before he could change his mind: @SamwiseSecretAdmirer: @SeanAstin, are you available for Valentine's dinner?//Depends.


After which he followed @SamwiseSecretAdmirer and sent a PM: What did you have in mind?


The reply came almost instantaneously: A get-to-know-you dinner? I'm local and in the industry. No paps, no publicity, no pressure, I promise.


Local and in the industry. It could all be a lie, of course, but Sean was definitely tempted. Oh, what the hell, he decided. You only lived once. OK. Where do you want to meet and when?


How does Next Door by Josie in SM sound? At 7?


Sounds good. Almost Sean added, 'It's a date', but he caught himself. This wasn't technically a date and choosing Next Door by Josie, a casual pub-like place in Santa Monica, made that clear. How will I know you? Will you be carrying a book with a red rose tucked inside?


You'll probably recognize me. We once worked on a movie together.


Sean was frankly intrigued. Really? What's your name?


I'd rather remain simply SamwiseSecretAdmirer for now. Do you mind?


He didn't actually. It was kind of fun, this secret admirer business. No, I don't mind. I'll see you Thursday at 7 then.


~*~


Sean spent the intervening time speculating on the identity of @SamwiseSecretAdmirer. But he'd made so many movies, worked with so many women in the industry that it was impossible to say. But the speculation was fun, too. What were the lyrics to that old Crosby, Stills and Nash song- if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with? He'd give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? At least he wouldn't be alone on Valentine's Day.


~*~


Sean stuck with casual clothes: jeans, a black tee shirt and black sport jacket. He didn't bring anything with him to the restaurant but his wallet, car keys and phone, and hoped @SamwiseSecretAdmirer wouldn't arrive dressed to the nines and expecting a dozen roses and a box of chocolates. There would be time enough for that later, if anything developed.


With a mix of anticipation and excitement, nerves and apprehension, Sean entered the restaurant at a few minutes to seven. "I'm Sean Astin. I'm supposed to be meeting someone here at seven o'clock," Sean said to the hostess.


The woman smiled warmly at him. "The other party has already arrived, Mr. Astin. Let me show you to your table." Sean followed her toward the rear of the restaurant, where the wall was lined with wine bottles displayed lengthwise in inset racks. Sean looked curiously around him, trying to pick out @SamwiseSecretAdmirer and finally discover who she was. But the small round wooden tables for two were all occupied by couples. No one was alone.


And then Sean spied a table in the far back corner with one empty chair. Across from that empty chair sat the person who could only be the mysterious @SamwiseSecretAdmirer. The instant Sean set eyes on the slender, dark-haired figure, he turned hot then cold, and his pulse started to race and his heart to thunder.


"I'll take it from here," said Sean quickly to the hostess. "Thanks."


Elijah stood up and gripped the edge of the table tightly as Sean drew near. He smiled, although it was almost a sickly smile, and said weakly, "Surprise."


"You'll probably recognize me. We once worked on a movie together, huh?" Sean said. "You fucker." But his eyes were saying something entirely different, and he came right round the table and swept Elijah into his arms. "You fucker," he repeated, but in Elijah's ear. "Get to know you? I've known you in my heart and soul since the day we met. I just never imagined you felt the same."


Elijah hugged Sean back so tightly his ribs creaked. "You were married. How could I ever tell you?" he replied. "I thought I'd have to stay your secret admirer forever."


"Trust me, Mr. F., if I'd had the least idea, I'd have landed on your doorstep the instant the divorce was final." Sean held Elijah away, glad that it was Valentine's Day and the diners at the surrounding tables were too into each other to notice the celebrities in their midst. "Thank heaven you sent that tweet."


"You have no idea how petrified I was when you actually replied to it," Elijah confessed with a rueful smile. "I never really thought you would, Sean. I'm not even sure why I sent it, to be honest. Desperation, I guess. I simply couldn't stand the thought of you taking someone else out on Valentine's Day, not when I wanted to be with you so fucking badly."


"I must have known it was you on a subliminal level," said Sean positively. "Otherwise why did I reply? Elijah, no matter what I might have told myself, the only person I want to be with on Valentine's Day is you."


"Jesus, Sean, are you trying to make me cry in public?" Elijah said. "That is hands down the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me."


"Prepare yourself, Mr. F. I'm only just getting started." Which reminded Sean of something. "Listen," he said, "can you give me about ten minutes? I promise, I'll be back here as fast as I possibly can."


"All right. But why?" Elijah tilted his head to one side and looked at him curiously.


"Because there's something I forgot and I need to go get it."


On the walk from the parking lot Sean had passed a florist's shop that was still open and selling red roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Now that he'd discovered the real identity of @SamwiseSecretAdmirer, he meant to do things properly. After all, it wasn't necessary for him to love the one he was with, because he'd already loved Elijah for over ten years. No point wasting any more time in letting him know how much.


~end~