The Pool Boy by Lbilover

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Pool owners, be kind. All my pool cleaning knowledge comes from the Internet. Many thanks to Hildigard Brown for the manip!

“Man, you need to get this pool cleaned.”

Elijah glanced at the murky water littered with leaves and grass clippings and shrugged. “What the fuck for? I have no intention of using it.” He tossed his smoldering cigarette butt into the pool. It hissed and went out. He watched with disinterest as it joined the rest of the detritus floating around in the green scum that covered the surface of the water.

“Elwood, you’re a celebrity now,” Dom chided him. “You’re living in Hollywood, which means you’re required to throw wild pool parties. You know, with groupies, sex and drugs.”

Elijah rolled his eyes. “Ri-ight. That’s so my scene. How long have you known me?”

“Okay, so no wild pool parties. But at the very least you should hire a pool boy to come once or twice a week to service the pool. One of those tall, tan, virile types. He can strut around in a thong and you can admire his big dick and his tight ass, and then invite him inside to service you when he’s done.”

“Dom, do you honestly think I’m the type to want a strutting, thong-wearing pool boy in my life?” Elijah asked, rolling his eyes again and propping his scuffed black Chucks on the edge of a white plastic lounge chair. He had an appreciation for a great body, like any other red-blooded gay male, and here in Hollywood he had plenty of opportunities if all he wanted was a quick fuck. But that wasn’t he wanted. What he wanted… Well, that was the 64 million dollar question.

“Did I say you should drag pool boy home to Iowa and marry him? Jesus, Elwood, lighten up. You know what I think-”

“Don’t say it,” Elijah broke in, knowing what was coming next, for it wouldn’t be the first time Dom had raised the subject in recent weeks. “Just do not fucking say it—"

“You need to get laid,” finished Dom.

Argh. “Fuck you, Dom!”

“Bills wouldn’t like that, Elwood. He’s strangely devoted to me.”

Elijah reluctantly grinned. “You’re lucky,” he said, and meant it. He recognized true love when he saw it, and every look, word and gesture that Dom and Billy shared shouted it to the rooftops, even when they were squabbling and taking the piss out of each other. He was happy for them, but envious, too.

Fuck, maybe he did know what he wanted, come to think of it. He wanted what his two friends had found in university and still enjoyed—a lasting relationship.

“I am lucky,” said Dom. “Can’t quite figure out how it happened, but I actually love that kilt-wearing Scots loon.”

“You just love what’s under his kilt,” joked Elijah.

“Yeah, there is that.” Dom’s eyes glazed over slightly. Then he gave himself a shake, like a dog that just had a good roll in a mud puddle. “Speaking of Bills,” he glanced at his watch, “I need to get my bum in gear. I have to pick him up at the recording studio in 20 minutes.”

“You better get going then,” agreed Elijah, trying not to feel abandoned. Fuck it, he was pathetic. Here he had it all, by most anyone’s standards, and he was acting like a whiny child.

After so many years, Dom read him perfectly, the fucker. His eyes were sympathetic as he said, “Tell you what, we’ll swing by later and take you out to dinner. How about that Korean barbeque place you discovered?”

Determined to shake off his blues, Elijah put on a positive air. “That sounds brilliant.”

“What are you planning for the rest of the afternoon?”

“Read more boring scripts offering me a chance to play a role similar to what I’ve already done. Go online and find a suitable house to rent, one that doesn’t have six bedrooms, four baths, a swimming pool, and a friggin’ ballroom with crystal chandeliers. What the fuck does my agent think I’m going to do, throw a gay prom?” The positive air vanished as Elijah looked sourly at a 6-foot plaster statue of some Greek god or other standing on the grass just beyond the far end of the kidney-shaped pool. He had his hips canted, an urn balanced on his right shoulder, and he was not only buck-naked but rather impressively endowed. “I mean, everywhere I turn there are fucking statues, Dom!”

“Stop grousing, Elwood. Some of these statues are pretty damn hot if you ask me,” observed Dom, his eyes glued to the statue’s crotch.

“Fat lot of good a stone dick will do me,” Elijah grumbled.

“Ah, cheer up, mate.” Dom slanted a mischievous look at his friend and went on, “You never know when your luck might change.”

“Your luck can only change if you have some to start with.” Elijah sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Jesus, I’m sorry. What right do I have to complain, anyway, with a hit movie and scripts pouring in? What the fuck has gotten into me?”

“Nothing. That’s your problem.” Dom ducked Elijah’s half-hearted swing, gave him a quick kiss and a hug, and departed. After he was gone, Elijah didn’t move but pulled his cloves from the breast pocket of his plaid button down, shook one free and lit up. He stared moodily at the scummy water while he smoked. He’d come to Hollywood at the urging of family and friends, who one and all had urged him to grab the gold ring when fate offered it. After all, didn’t everyone dream of being a movie star?

But increasingly, he longed for the time he was simply working in a music store, in the days before he was ‘discovered’ and cast as Iggy Pop in a biopic that, to his utter astonishment, had become both a critical and commercial success, and changed the course of his life.


When the front door bell rang, Elijah had only just managed to roll out of bed and into the bathroom, where he’d worshipped at the feet of the porcelain god and presented it with an offering of last night’s barbeque and beer. A whole lot of beer, as a matter of fact—enough to float a yacht, and then some.

He retained only the vaguest memories of Dom and Billy dropping him off at home, of weaving drunkenly through the silent, echoing foyer and up the stairs to the master bedroom where he’d collapsed fully clothed onto the obscenely large platform bed. He’d fallen instantly into a state of alcohol induced unconsciousness until the morning sun streaming through a skylight directly into his eyes woke him, and alerted him to a protesting, overfull bladder, and a queasy stomach.

Oh shit, he thought now, climbing shakily to his feet and wincing as the doorbell’s chime reverberated over and over through the house and his aching skull. Did he have an appointment this morning? Elijah tried to remember, but his uncooperative brain had turned to mush and his iPhone with its helpful calendar was buried somewhere in the covers on his bed.

He fervently hoped he hadn’t agreed to an interview with a reporter. The fucker would no doubt tweet with the greatest glee that he’d discovered Elijah Wood, the current Best Actor Oscar frontrunner, reeking of alcohol and clearly hung over, and then follow up in his blog with a blow-by-blow description or possibly, if he’d brought a photographer with him, graphic evidence of Elijah’s debauchery.

Staggering to the sink, he splashed cold water on his clammy face, swished his foul tasting mouth with Listerine, fumbled on his glasses as there was no time to put in contacts, and lurched out of the bathroom and down the hall to the stairs. As he descended the dramatic, sweeping marble staircase with more haste than grace, Elijah felt bizarrely like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. But then, the Italianate villa frequently had that effect on him; it could have served as the set for her house. It was a reflection of the golden age of Hollywood, when bigger was better and opulence was in. Too bad ‘Elwood’ and ‘opulence’ were mutually exclusive. Fish out of water, that’s what he was.

The fading notes of the chime rattled around inside his protesting skull as Elijah scurried across the foyer to the front door. The door, which was made of heavily carved dark wood, weighed about a ton and was presumably made to withstand an encroaching army’s battering rams, or perhaps (this being Hollywood) hordes of adoring autograph seekers. Elijah was a trifle sensitive on the issue of his size (or lack thereof), and had been defeated by the door on several occasions. This time, fueled by dread of the doorbell’s lethal ring, he tackled it like a madman, ruthlessly twisting the knob and yanking it open. Too ruthlessly, it turned out; the door flew out of his control and crashed against the wall as if he were doing an impression of Boris Karloff playing Frankenstein’s Monster. A very short, very skinny, very hung over Frankenstein’s Monster.

“Oh shit, sorry about that,” Elijah said, narrowing his eyes against the bright sunshine that flooded in and stabbed his poor skull like an ice pick. “Door got away from me.”

“No apology necessary,” replied a deep, pleasant-sounding male voice.

Slowly the visitor swam into focus. For once Elijah didn’t have far to look up, for they were about the same height, a fact that immediately disposed him to like the newcomer, although his outfit gave Elijah definite pause. The man was dressed all in white: white polo shirt, white shorts, white athletic socks, and white running shoes with emerald green stripes, laces and soles. He was holding a clear acrylic clipboard with some sort of paperwork affixed to it and had a polite but serious expression on his face. He looked like he was auditioning for a role as a toothpaste tube, or possibly the toothpaste itself—mint flavored.

What the fuck? Elijah had learned to spot a reporter at fifty paces, and if this guy was a member of the press, then Elijah was a flying monkey. With a sinking heart, Elijah realized his visitor must be a salesman of some kind, and would now attempt to foist on Elijah either a new vacuum cleaner or a new religion. Unfortunately, Elijah was a total sucker when it came to people like this, unable to harden his heart and tell them he didn’t want any of whatever they were selling. He’d inevitably end up with a bent ear, an armload of ‘Jesus Wept for You’ pamphlets and/or a brand new Hoover he neither wanted nor needed. Fuck.

And then the man smiled, and whoa! The earth abruptly shifted on its axis. Of course, this was California, and it could be an earthquake—although he had yet to experience one—but since the smile deepened as their eyes met, Elijah was pretty certain what he was experiencing was an Elijahquake, and with good reason.

Attractive didn’t even come close to describing the man’s smile. It creased the corners of his eyes into a fan of small lines and lit his face with genuine warmth that brought to mind images of cuddly puppies and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Elijah loved cuddly puppies and hot chocolate with marshmallows. He also loved thick wavy chestnut hair that formed unruly curls over a man’s brow and forest green eyes with gold flecks the color of ripe Iowa wheat. In truth, until this moment, he’d never actually known that he loved both these features in a man, but hey, better late than never, right?

Zowie! Cowabunga! a corner of his mind started exulting gleefully, and never had the prospect of listening to a lecture on the evils of giant Dust Bunnies seemed so desirable.

“I’m Sean from the Friendly Pool Service Company,” the man continued.

“The what?” Elijah said blankly, rocked further off balance by this unexpected introduction. Not vacuum cleaners or religion, then, but swimming pools. Well, he already had one of those, but he wasn’t averse to having another, if Mr. Sean Cuddly-Puppies-and-Hot-Chocolate-with-Marshmallows of the killer smile was selling.

“The Friendly Pool Service Company.” He offered Elijah a business card.

Elijah took the card and consulted it. Sean Astin, Pool Service Technician, it said, and he did indeed work for the Friendly Pool Service Company. “A clean pool is a happy pool,” he read aloud. “Seriously?”

“Oh yes,” Sean replied earnestly, and Elijah added earnestness to the list of traits he loved in a man.

“I guess my pool isn’t very happy then,” remarked Elijah, pocketing the business card for safekeeping. “Downright depressed, in fact.”

“That’s why I’m here.”

“Yes, but why are you here?” It occurred to Elijah to wonder. A psychic pool cleaning service? Was that possible, even in southern California?

Sean looked puzzled by the question. “Because you called us, Mr. Wood. Yesterday. At…” he consulted his clipboard, “3:47 p.m., according to our records. You are Elijah Wood, correct? And this is 2825 Randall Court?”

“Well, yes, but I didn’t…” Between the hangover and the smile, Elijah’s brain had the consistency of Cream of Wheat. He tried to solidify it and form a coherent thought. Dom. It had to have been Dom. Elijah recalled that mischievous glint in his eyes when he told Elijah to cheer up. The fucker, he’d ordered Elijah a pool boy, even though Elijah had said he didn’t want one. Thank goodness Dom hadn’t been so foolish as to listen to Elijah’s witless blathering.

“Oh right, the pool cleaning service,” he said, a ‘duh’ and head slap implicit in the words. “Geez, I totally forgot I’d called you. I’m, uh, not very, um, with it this morning.” Oh brilliant, Elwood! Way to impress your new pool boy.

But Sean exuded sympathy. “You do look a bit rough around the edges, if you don’t mind me saying. Hung over?”

Oh fuck. Did he really look that bad? “Yeah, ‘fraid so. A few too many beers last night. You know how it is.” Right. Sean looked as if he’d never so much as been tipsy, unless it was on Nestlé’s cocoa.

“Have you taken anything for it? You should be drinking lots of fluids. Dehydration is the main culprit in a hangover.” Sean spoke with considerable authority, and a little thrill went through Elijah. The allure of chestnut curls and green-gold eyes might be a new discovery, but he’d always loved a decisive man.

“I haven’t had time to take anything yet. I only just got up,” Elijah confessed, feeling like the world’s worst slacker. Sean, so clean and sparkly and toothpaste-bright in his white shirt and shorts, was clearly an early bird gets the worm type. Elijah had a sudden aspiration to be a worm. It was a noble calling, after all, cultivating the soil—at least as noble as being an actor, if not more so.

Sean thrust the clipboard at Elijah, who automatically accepted it. “Here, hold onto this for a minute. I’ll be right back.” He turned and trotted off toward a white van parked in the circular gravel driveway. ‘Friendly Pool Service’ was emblazoned across the side of the van in curly blue letters with little droplets of water dripping from them. ‘A clean pool is a happy pool’ it said underneath.

But Elijah was less interested in clean pools than in the man who had been sent to make his clean. Sean’s calves were muscular and very well-developed, Elijah noticed. His knees went weak with admiration. Then Sean opened the passenger side front door of the van and leaned in, displaying an equally muscular ass outlined beneath his form-fitting white shorts. A mental image of that ass in a thong presented itself for his consideration. Elijah blushed. He was still blushing when Sean jogged back, holding a bottle of water.

“Here, drink this,” he said. The clipboard was exchanged for the Poland Spring. “And I’ve brought you some aspirin, too.”

“You’re a lifesaver.” Elijah held out his hand and Sean dropped two round white tablets into the palm. He quickly tossed them into his mouth and took a swig of the cold water. It felt so fantastic going down that he just kept on drinking and drinking, his parched body soaking up the fluid like a sponge. He didn’t stop until the bottle was empty.

“Better?” Sean asked solicitously.

“Much better.” Elijah wiped his wet mouth with the back of his hand, burped and bit his lip. Brilliant. Just fucking brilliant. Disheveled, hung over and ill mannered. His mom would be so proud. “Thanks, Sean.”

“No need to thank me, Mr. Wood. I’ve been in a similar condition a few times myself.” He grinned, and the cuddly puppies and hot chocolate with marshmallows effect intensified.

“Please, call me Elijah,” Elijah said. Gorgeous, nice, sympathetic, kind. He squinted and wondered if that glint he saw over Sean’s head was a halo.

“All right, Elijah. Now, where’s your depressed swimming pool? I guess I better take a look at it.”

“I'll show you where it is,” Elijah said. But then he caught a whiff of something pungent and unpleasant, and realized with horror that it was emanating from him. He glanced down and nearly expired instantaneously of mortification. There were reddish-brown specks adorning the front of his shirt. Oh god, he’d puked on himself!

“Um, tell you what,” he hastily improvised. “How about I meet you by the pool in, say, twenty minutes? Just pull your van around back,” he pointed to the right, where the gravel drive continued and disappeared behind the house. “You’ll see the swimming pool.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sean said.

“Great! See you in a few.” Elijah backed away so fast that he nearly completed his humiliation by tripping and falling on his ass. He managed to stay upright, however, and shut the door with a reasonable show of dignity. And then he took off like Usain Bolt, streaking across the hall and discarding his shirt as he ran. It was hard to unlace one’s sneakers while simultaneously climbing a staircase, but he managed it. By the time he reached the bathroom, he was buck naked, with a trail of dirty laundry in his wake; he vaulted into the shower and turned on the water, certain that Sean was breathing a sigh of relief to be rid of Elijah’s stinky presence.

Half an hour later, showered, changed, with contacts in place, teeth minty fresh, and a generous splash of cologne hopefully disguising any minutest trace of sick that might be left, Elijah emerged onto the back patio carrying a mug of instant coffee, black. He wished he’d had time to shave, but shaving in haste meant bleeding at leisure, and he had no desire to appear in front of his gorgeous new pool boy with bits of toilet paper stuck all over his face.

The white van was now parked near the entrance to the swimming pool enclosure, which was surrounded by a gleaming black wrought iron fence. Its sliding side door was open, and various and sundry buckets and boxes and arcane pool equipment had been unloaded onto the drive. There was something that resembled a giant blue butterfly net propped against a white plastic bucket. Elijah had an impulse to run over and grab it and catch himself a rare Butterflyus Astinus.

He managed to resist the impulse, however, and contented himself with admiring his pool boy, who was standing, hands on hips, contemplating the murky green water. Sean was frowning. He had an incredibly attractive frown.

“Here I am,” Elijah announced inanely as he walked up. Sean didn’t flinch away, so he was hopeful that the shower and cologne had done their job. “So, what’s the verdict?”

“Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said your pool is depressed,” said Sean, looking up. His expression was grave.

“That bad, huh?” Elijah took a sip of the scalding coffee and wondered if this meant Sean would have to be there for hours, maybe even all day. Could he possibly be that lucky?

“On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst, I’d say this is at least a twenty, Elijah. How long has it been since this pool was last cleaned?”

“Geez, I don’t know. I’ve only lived here for a few weeks.” Elijah paused. “I’m renting the place, just until I find something smaller and more suitable for one person.” Oh fuck, he wondered, was that too obvious?

But Sean was focused on the matter at hand, it seemed, not on Elijah’s none too subtle relationship status hint. “The rental agency should have arranged for a pool service while the house was unoccupied,” he said, sounding outraged. “This sort of situation couldn't have developed in a few weeks."

Elijah felt obscurely relieved to know he wasn't entirely responsible for the condition of the pool. He tried not to think about the cigarette butts he'd thrown in.

"I took a quick look while I was waiting for you, and while the heater is fortunately still in good shape, everything else is a mess. There’s an overgrowth of algae, as you can see from the color of the water, the filter is completely clogged, the pump needs to be cleaned and primed, the strainer basket hasn’t been emptied in what looks like months, and all this debris will have to be vacuumed and raked out and the stairs scrubbed down to eliminate the mold."

"Wow." There didn't seem anything else to say.

"Also, I'd strongly advise having an automatic pool cover installed. That's something I can do if you want."

"I want," Elijah said enthusiastically, then he flushed. After all, just how excited would someone get over having an automatic pool cover installed?

"Great. Of course, I'll give you a written estimate before I leave," Sean said, "and information and pricing for our weekly maintenance plan.” He frowned. "I'm afraid it's going to take three days to complete the job if we add the pool cover installation, Elijah."

Afraid? Was Sean kidding? Woohoo! Despite the severity of the pool's condition, Elijah was tempted to do a little happy dance of joy. Three days? Yes! He couldn’t believe he’d been bitching to Dom just yesterday about the pool. Everyone should have a swimming pool and a pool boy to keep it happy, he thought. Well, as long as everyone else’s pool boy was someone besides Sean, that is.

“However long it takes is fine by me, Sean,” he said, employing all his recently acquired acting skills to maintain a suitably businesslike expression. “I definitely want my pool to be happy.”

That made Sean grin, and those adorable laugh lines leapt to life. Elijah’s pulse leapt with them. But the grin quickly faded. “God, would you look at this?” he exclaimed, crouching to fish something out of the pool. He held up a soggy, dripping object that Elijah recognized at once. “Someone’s thrown cigarette butts into the water.” Sean shook his head in disgust.


“That’s really gross. I can’t believe anyone would do that,” said Elijah, feigning outrage while he tried not to squirm with guilt and made a mental vow never, ever to smoke in the vicinity of the pool again. Sean clearly took his job very seriously. God, he loved a man who took his job seriously. And who wore form-fitting white shorts that he filled out to perfection.

“It’s more common than you’d think.” Sean straightened, his well-developed leg muscles flexing, and disposed of the butt in a funky ceramic ashtray on one of the glass-topped tables. “You wouldn’t believe what we find in people’s swimming pools when we clean them. A cigarette butt is nothing compared to some of the stuff that ends up in the water.”

“Really? Like what?”

“Oh, all kinds of things: clothing, jewelry, silverware, plates, food, eyeglasses… Once we found a set of false teeth. And of course we’ve found money and credit cards…”

Elijah took another sip of coffee and admired the animation with which Sean spoke, and how he gestured with his large, capable-looking hands. He had beautiful hands, and exceptional forearms, thought Elijah, tanned, toned and with a generous sprinkling of bronze-gold hairs.

“…and discarded condoms. They’re hell when they get caught in the filters.”

Elijah choked and coughed.

Sean gave him a concerned look. “You okay?”

“My coffee went down the wrong way, that’s all. I’m fine.” Elijah waved a reassuring hand, although he wouldn’t have objected if Sean patted him on the back or put a supportive arm around him.

“Well, I better get on with the pool cleaning instead of standing around talking your ear off,” Sean said. He looked apologetic. “A bad habit of mine—I like to talk.”

“Oh, I don’t mind. Anyway, I was wondering if it would be okay if I hung out while you’re working,” said Elijah. He didn’t want to have to resort to peeking out the window at his pool boy through his binoculars. “I guess I should learn something about making a swimming pool happy, and I could lend you a hand.”

“You sure you’re the person renting this place?” Sean gave him a half-smiling, half-curious look.

“What do you mean?”

“We service a lot of pools in the Hollywood area, and the owners never offer to lend a hand, believe me. Heck, they usually never put in an appearance until we're driving out the gate. Mostly, we deal with the personal assistants, security guards or other employees,” Sean explained.

“I don’t have any of those, just an agent,” Elijah said, wondering what was wrong with the other pool owners, but glad that they appeared to be blind to Sean's attractiveness. “She works for William Morris, and she’s the one who arranged for me to rent this place when I moved here from Cedar Rapids.”

“Ah, so you’re an actor?”

Sean started walking back to the van. Elijah kept pace, bouncing on the balls of his Chucks. The aspirin had kicked in, the queasiness subsided and he was feeling almost human again, thanks to Sean. Yes, that glint over Sean's head definitely had to be a halo.

“Yeah, I am,” Elijah said. It still seemed strange to refer to himself that way, not to mention how freaky it was when people pointed him out on the street or came up and asked him for an autograph. It was a relief to have finally encountered someone in Hollywood who didn’t recognize his name.

“You don’t seem like an actor,” Sean observed.

Elijah flushed. Oh fuck. Was he that unattractive? People said he had nice eyes, but he thought they were kind of bug-like, and he was hardly leading man material at 5’6” tall.

“And I mean that as a compliment,” Sean added, "in case you were wondering."

“Oh.” Elijah flushed harder, while inside he was beaming. His first compliment from his pool boy! Yes! “I haven’t been an actor for very long. I sort of stumbled into it.” As he really didn’t want to talk about himself but learn more about Sean, he quickly changed the topic. “What's this?” he asked, indicating the blue net propped against the bucket. “It looks like something you'd use to catch a butterfly.”

Sean grinned. “It would have to be a very large butterfly,” he quipped, and Elijah thought, Oh, if you only knew, and suppressed a nervous giggle. “It’s a pool rake, actually. I’ll use it to get as much of the debris out of the water as I can before vacuuming the bottom of the pool. Here, why don't you carry it.” He picked it up and handed it to Elijah, who tucked it under his left arm, and firmly put any Butterflyus Astinus catching ideas out of his mind.

“After the initial cleaning, I’ll shock the pool,” Sean went on, hefting the pool vacuum in one hand and looping the coil of hose attached to it over his shoulder.

“Shock the pool?” Elijah repeated. “That sounds interesting. What do you do, plug in a giant toaster and drop it in the water?”

Sean threw back his head and laughed.

Zowie! Cowabunga! If his pool boy was attractive when he smiled, he was positively lethal when he laughed. It took every ounce of Elijah’s self-control not to whip open the pool rake and drop it right over Sean’s head.

“Not exactly,” Sean said, still chuckling. “We use something called pool shock to oxidize any contaminates in the water by raising the chlorine level. It will get rid of that green algae and turn the water clear.”

“Oh, I see. I kinda like my method better, to be honest.”

“It’s definitely more electrifying,” Sean agreed, and picked up a large white plastic bottle labeled ‘Shock Granules’ in his free hand.

As they trooped back to the pool, Elijah asked, “So, what can I do to help?”

“I really shouldn’t let you do anything,” Sean said, frowning. “There are company insurance and liability issues, after all. What if you get hurt?”

“Pfft,” Elijah said dismissively, “I never get hurt. I did all my own stunts in my movie, and everyone said I was like Gumby or something. Just bounced up and kept going. There was this one scene where I had to walk on top of the audience and smear peanut butter on my chest. They wanted me to wear a harness, but I was like ‘No fucking way. Iggy didn’t wear a harness, so neither am I.’ I got dropped on my ass twice, but I was fine.”

Sean set down the pool vacuum and the shock granules, and stared at Elijah. “Iggy? Iggy Pop? You mean you're the one who plays the lead in The Passenger?”

“Um, yeah, that's me. Why, have you seen it?” He awaited Sean's answer with some trepidation. Mostly, people’s opinion of his performance didn’t matter to him much, but that wasn’t true of Sean. Somehow, even though they’d only just met, his opinion mattered a lot.

Sean shook his head. “No, I haven’t. Truthfully, I don’t get to the movies much. Not enough time. But I’ve heard about it, and everyone I know who has seen it says you’re fantastic.” He smiled. “I’m definitely going to go see it now that I’ve met you, though.” The smile widened and those gorgeous eyes twinkled. “I wouldn’t want to miss you walking on top of a crowd of people, smearing peanut butter on your bare chest.”

Elijah nearly fainted. All the worry, self-doubt and stress he’d suffered playing an iconic musical god like Iggy in a biopic-his first ever movie role, too-had been worth it. His pool boy wanted to see him smear peanut butter on his bare chest!

“It was kinda weird how it happened," Elijah remarked when the light-headedness went away. "Me getting the role, I mean.”

Sean held out his hand and Elijah gave him the pool rake. “Why was it weird?” He opened the rake and lowered it into the murky water.

Elijah watched as he swept it along the length of the pool, scooping up the leaves and cigarette butts and other stuff floating around. “Because I never wanted to be an actor,” he said. “One day these two guys came into the record store where I worked—Moondog Music in Dubuque; it can’t hold a candle to Amoeba, of course, but for Iowa it totally kicks ass—and we got to talking about Iggy when they saw an old Stooges poster we had. I’m a huge Stooges fan, and it turns out they were the script writers for The Passenger. They encouraged me to audition for the part of Iggy as casting was going on and the studio hadn’t found the right person yet. I only went to LA on a lark because I have a couple of good friends living here, and I thought ‘what the fuck, why not? I can visit Dom and Billy and have a little vacation’. I never actually expected to get the part.”

Sean raised the dripping net out of the water and carried it to a large plastic garbage bin that he must have brought over when he first arrived. “Sounds like it was fate, Elijah.” He upended the net into the bin, shaking it hard to empty it of the clinging wet leaves.

“Maybe. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the experience, though. All this Oscar talk… It’s unreal.”

“I can see how it might feel like that,” agreed Sean, returning to the pool and plunging the pool rake back into the water.

“Really?” Elijah squinted again, and there it was: a halo. “Everybody keeps telling me I’m nuts not to be more excited about what’s happening to me. No one seems to understand how I feel.” He waved a hand, encompassing the villa, the lavish landscaping, the statues, the pool. “This just isn’t me, you know? I’m a music geek from Iowa, not Tom fucking Cruise.”

Sean nodded. “We all have different dreams and goals. That’s what makes us individual and human.” Then he halted, and quickly knelt. “Ah, you have a little visitor in your pool.” He set aside the rake, dipped his hands into the water and brought them out cupped around something.

“What is it?”

“Come take a look,” Sean said, holding out his hands.

Elijah hurried over and knelt beside him. “Oh, it’s a toad.” He grinned and ran a finger lightly over the toad’s bumpy gray-brown skin. It flattened against Sean’s palm and blinked its slitted eyes.

“Bufo boreas halophilus, to be precise. A California Toad.”

“Wow, how do you know that?” Elijah asked, startled and impressed. Could all pool boys identify the animals in swimming pools by their scientific names?

“Because, like I said, we all have different dreams and goals. I’m only working as a pool service technician to make ends meet. My real training is as a wildlife biologist.”

“No shit.”

“Uh-huh. I’m a doctoral student at UCLA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.” Sean stroked the toad under its chin. It blew two miniscule bubbles of moisture out its nostrils and made a high-pitched peeping sound. It was definitely impressed by Sean’s credentials, just like Elijah.

“Oh.” Gorgeous, nice, sympathetic, kind… and brilliant. Oh fuck. What on earth would someone like Sean see in Elijah Wood, record store clerk and accidental, reluctant movie star? “What kind of wildlife are you studying? Anything in particular?”

“My doctorate is going to be in evolutionary biology, with my specific focus on Suricata suricatta, otherwise known as the meerkat. Ever heard of them?”

“Oh sure,” Elijah lied airily. A ‘mere cat’? What the fuck was that? His mind frantically raced to come up with some plausible factoid that would convince Sean he really did know what they were. Later, he could google them. For now… ‘Mere’ and ‘cat’. Hmm. “Small, cute and furry, right?”

Bingo! Sean smiled. “That’s right. I’m impressed, Elijah, not many people know what they are.”

Elijah quickly crossed his eyes to check if his nose had grown. Fortunately, it hadn’t. “Well, I don’t know much about meerkats other than that,” he said with perfect honesty this time. “I’d love to hear more about them from an expert.”

“I can tell you more than you’ll ever want to know,” Sean replied, and made a small sound, sort of a cross between a huff and a laugh, and took his lower lip between his teeth.

Elijah’s knees went weak again. He’d noticed Sean had an overbite, which was yet another previously unrecognized physical feature that he apparently found insanely attractive. And god, kneeling here next to Sean, so close that he could feel the warmth of his body, was heaven and hell at the same time. How was it possible that a man dressed in a white polo shirt and shorts, a man whose running shoes sported emerald green stripes, laces and soles, could have this effect on him?

“Probably bore the pants off you into the bargain. I’ve been told I have a tendency to do that.”

“I bet you aren’t boring at all,” protested Elijah, filled with sudden, burning indignation on Sean’s behalf. “So go on, tell me more about meerkats.”

“Well okay, if you’re sure…”

“I’m sure.”

“All right then. Let’s just move Mr. Toad to a safer location first.” Sean carried the toad to the far end of the enclosure and set him down in the grass. “Take my advice and stay away from swimming pools,” he admonished it. “A puddle is more your speed.”

Elijah giggled, and Sean shot him a quick glance. Oh fuck. His damned giggle. He sounded so inane when he giggled.

“What? You don’t think he’ll listen to me?” Sean’s eyes were warm and amused, and Elijah realized he didn’t mind the giggle at all. Elijah hardly even had to squint to see the halo this time.

Truthfully, Elijah wasn’t expecting to find meerkats all that interesting, but as it turned out, they really were fascinating little animals. He did get a little distracted by Sean’s expressive hands and the sparkle of enthusiasm in his gold-flecked green eyes as he talked, but by the time the pool was raked and the vacuum was trundling along the bottom sucking up the remaining leaves and dirt, he had learned an awful lot about meerkats, about their remarkable social behavior, their repulsive diet and their unique adaptations to life in the Kalahari desert. Through Sean’s words, he could picture the tiny creatures even though he’d never so much as seen a photo of one, and in his imagination he was transported to the Kalahari, where he could feel the heat of the desert days, the cold of its nights, the ferocity of the rains that brought barely sufficient life to sustain the meerkats through the long periods of drought.

“Have you ever been to the Kalahari?” Elijah asked curiously. “You describe it so vividly.”

Sean hesitated. “No, I haven’t. Not yet. I’ve worked with meerkats in a sanctuary in the desert out near Palm Springs, but I haven’t had a chance to study them in their native habitat.”

“That must be your dream, huh?”

“It has been.” Sean gave another little huff of laughter. “You know, it’s funny. My dad always says timing is everything.”

“What do you mean, Sean?”

“Oh, nothing really. Look, let’s talk about something that interests you now. How about music? You mentioned you worked in a music store. You must know a lot.”

“It’s my turn to warn you about having the pants bored off you. I can go on and on about music. I’m pretty passionate about it.”

“Being passionate about your interests is a good thing,” Sean said. “Don’t ever apologize for it.”

Maybe it was his imagination, Elijah thought, but the halo seemed more and more apparent. Almost solid, as a matter of fact.

While Sean tested the water and prepared the pool shock treatment, Elijah expounded on the current terrible state of the music industry and waxed poetic about some of his favorite indie bands. Sean hadn’t heard of a single one. Elijah was appalled by his ignorance, and determined to do something about it.

“Sean, do you have an iPod?” he asked, watching Sean pour the shock granules into a bucket of water.

“I do, but to be honest, there’s not much on it.”

“Then bring it with you tomorrow and I’ll upload my iTunes library onto it. You’ll never lack for something fantastic to listen to, trust me.”

“Really? You’d that for me?” Sean sounded genuinely delighted by the offer. “It’d be great to have some decent music for when I’m running.”

Ah, Elijah thought, so that’s where those killer calves and ass come from. He was pleased that he could do his small share toward keeping them muscular and fit.

The time flew by, until, all too soon, Sean was packing his equipment back in the van and filling out the paperwork for Elijah to sign. He’d shocked the water, primed the pump, turned on the heater, left the filtration system running, and carefully showed Elijah how to back wash the pool, something that would need to be done a couple of times before he returned the following day.

As he stood waiting for Sean to finish checking off boxes and scribbling notes, Elijah tried to work up the nerve to invite him to have dinner or a drink with him, but in the end he chickened out. His pool boy seemed anxious to leave, and his attitude was as stiff and professional now as it had been warm and friendly earlier. Elijah’s heart sank as he scribbled his signature and initialed the places Sean indicated on the form.

His gaydar told him Sean was definitely batting for the same team, and he’d caught him checking out the Greek god’s impressive endowment on the sly, but that didn’t mean he was available. What were the odds someone as gorgeous and smart and nice as Sean wouldn’t already have a significant other? Maybe all that niceness was simply how he treated everyone whose pool he cleaned, and didn’t mean anything more. Maybe he’d sensed Elijah’s attraction to him and was trying to send him a message: not interested. Fuck.

“Well, I better hit the road,” Sean said briskly, carefully tearing off the bottom sheet of the form. “I still have two more pool cleaning appointments today.” He wouldn’t quite make eye contact with Elijah as he handed him the yellow customer copy.

“Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then, Sean. Thanks for the aspirin and water, and well, everything.” Elijah hoped he didn’t sound as pathetic as he probably did.

“That’s why we’re called the Friendly Pool Service Company,” he replied. “See you tomorrow.” Then Sean climbed up into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. With a little farewell wave, he put the van in gear and drove off.

Elijah watched him go, feeling unutterably depressed. That’s why we’re called the Friendly Pool Service Company, Sean had said. So none of it had meant anything? Sean had just been doing his job?

That night, Elijah received a text message from Dom: SWDYT of Pool Boy? I’ve met him & he’s gorgeous. Bet he fills out a thong v. nicely. I’d call, but I don’t want to interrupt anything interesting. L8R. D.

No such luck. Elijah shut off his iPhone without replying, fell back on his bed and covered his face with his arm.


But optimism rose with the sun, and Elijah was in a more cheerful frame of mind when Sean arrived next morning. He’d gotten up bright and early, showered, shaved and dressed, hoping to erase any memory of the less than stellar first impression he’d made the previous day.

Flushed and breathless, for he’d abandoned any pretense of dignity and bolted the moment the doorbell rang, he opened the heavy door to Sean, once again bright and shiny and sparkly clean in his white shirt and shorts and running shoes with the emerald green stripes, laces and soles.

“Good morning,” Sean said, smiling so that those devastating laugh lines sprang into full bloom.

The earth tilted on its axis again. Definitely an Elijahquake, then. “Good morning.” Elijah returned the smile.

“How’d everything go with the back washing?”

“Great. I went down first thing this morning and checked the pool. I can’t believe how clear the water looks now. I’d say it’s definitely no longer depressed.”

Sean laughed. “That’s good to hear.”

“Did you remember your iPod?” Elijah asked.

“I did.” Sean pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to Elijah.

“Brilliant. Why don’t you go on down to the pool and get started while I upload the songs for you. Would you like me to bring you a cup of coffee when I’m done? I always make too much, so there’s plenty.”

“That would be great, Elijah, thanks. Black is fine.”

“Okay.” Elijah bounced away to his computer, his depression of the previous night entirely erased. Sean had brought his iPod, he’d accepted a cup of coffee, he’d smiled as if he was genuinely happy to see Elijah… Things were definitely looking up.

But the pattern of the previous day repeated itself, and what started out so promisingly, ended on a definite down note.

Elijah brought Sean his now music-crammed iPod and a cup of coffee, and hung out while Sean retested the water and balanced the pH and the chlorine level and adjusted the temperature of the water. He’d brought an automatic pool cover with him, and as he installed it, they discussed a wide range of topics from meerkats to music to their favorite foods. It felt comfortable and natural being around Sean, as if they’d been friends for years. And he was sure he couldn’t be imagining the spark between them. It couldn’t be one-sided, could it? Matches needed something to strike against, didn't they?

Yet when the time came for Sean to leave, he morphed into Mr. Stiff-And-Formal again, and Elijah’s carefully-rehearsed-to-sound-off-the-cuff, ‘Sean, how would you like to have dinner with me some time?’ remained unspoken. He couldn’t summon the nerve to ask him and risk rejection, not when it mattered so much.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. He stood in the drive staring after the van until it disappeared from view, and then with dispirited footsteps, he returned to the house. His pool might be happier now, but he certainly wasn’t.


E, u fucker. Tell us what’s happening w/Pool Boy. Bills and I r dying of curiosity. D.

I’m not sure it’s gonna work out with Sean. But thanks for trying. E.

Sean? That’s not Pool Boy’s name. They were supposed to send Eduardo. D.


Another sunny, glorious southern California day greeted Elijah when he awoke. He’d stayed up far too late, mooning over photos of meerkats on Google Images (when he'd figured out how to spell the word, that is). He’d imagined himself and Sean camping in the Kalahari and making love under the stars while the meerkats slept curled up in their burrows far underground. As a consequence he felt groggy and out of sorts.

Nevertheless, as he showered and shaved, he thanked his lucky stars for the mix-up that caused the Friendly Pool Service Company to send Sean to be his pool boy. Even if things didn’t work out, surely it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Bullshit, his mind retorted. And stop being such a defeatist. You haven’t lost yet, you know.

Still, when the doorbell rang, Elijah went to answer it fully aware that today might be his final opportunity to make a good impression on Sean. There was no guarantee, after all, that Sean would always be assigned to do the weekly maintenance on the pool. It could be that Eduardo Dom had mentioned or some other employee. I can’t chicken out this time, he thought. Maybe I should ask him on a date right now, and not wait until he’s getting ready to leave... Okay, I'll do it.

Heart beating fast with nervousness and anticipation, Elijah flung open the door—and stared in shock. “Who the fuck are you?” he demanded, with a rudeness that would have earned him a time-out in his bedroom if his mother had heard it.

For it wasn’t Sean standing on the threshold, all bright and shiny and sparkly clean in his white shirt and shorts and white running shoes with the emerald green stripes, laces and soles. It was a total stranger. He had dark hair and eyes and a diamond stud in his right ear, and Elijah had to tilt his head too far back to see them. He was wearing low-slung bathing trunks, flip-flops, and a cropped sleeveless tee shirt that exposed an impressive six-pack and body builder arms adorned by several tattoos.

“I am Eduardo, from the Friendly Pool Service Company.” Eduardo smiled, and his dark eyes gave Elijah an approving once over. “Your new pool service technician.”

“What?” Elijah’s voice rose. “But where’s Sean?”

Eduardo’s eyebrows imitated Elijah’s voice and rose, too. “But where should he be? Did you not call yesterday to say you were unhappy with his work and that you wanted me instead?”

“WHAT?” Elijah’s voice rose even higher. “I did no such thing. I…” Dom. That fucker. That fucker! Elijah would kill him. But later. He had more important things to take care of first. “Go away,” he said.

“What?” It was Eduardo’s turn to look shocked.

“I said, go away. I don’t want you. I want Sean. Now go.” He flapped his hands at Eduardo who stared at him as if he was mad. “Go on, go.” He stamped his foot and flapped his hands harder as if he was herding chickens. “Shoo! Shoo!”

Eduardo shooed. Elijah slammed the door, and raced into the kitchen. He snatched up Sean’s business card that he had been mooning over while he ate breakfast, and quickly called the Friendly Pool Service Company.

“Friendly Pool Service Company,” a perky voice answered. “Where a clean pool is a happy pool.”

“This is Elijah Wood,” Elijah said. “And my pool is very unhappy right now. I need Sean Astin to come out and take care of it immediately.”

“But Mr. Wood, we sent Mr. Martin out to your home a little while ago. You called us yesterday and requested him as a replacement for Mr. Astin. Don’t you remember?”

“I’m afraid there’s been a little mix-up. I don’t want anyone touching my pool except Sean Astin.”

“Erm… let me check on the availability of Mr. Astin. Hold on please.”

“No. I can’t hold on. Just send him over. Immediately.” The problem with iPhones, Elijah thought as he disconnected, was that they didn’t have a receiver you could slam down, the way good old-fashioned landline phones did.

Forgetting his vow not to smoke in the vicinity of the pool, Elijah chainsmoked three cigarettes while he paced back and forth and waited anxiously for Sean to arrive. He didn’t throw the butts in the water this time, but carefully stubbed them out in the ashtray. He was well aware that he’d acted demented and made a massive fool of himself in front of Eduardo, who undoubtedly thought him insane, but he couldn’t care less. The crystal clear, pristine water shimmered and sparkled in the sunlight, and it was all due to Sean’s expertise. The pool, Elijah thought, was happy now, and would not approve of anyone else testing its water, cleaning its filter or priming its pump. It knew a good thing when it saw one, just like Elijah did.

When the familiar white van finally appeared, tires crunching over the gravel, it was all he could do not to run toward it, waving his arms wildly. Instead, he forced himself to remain where he was, although he jittered nervously from foot to foot.

Sean approached him slowly, almost cautiously; the way, Elijah supposed, he’d approach a Suricata suricatta in the wild. Elijah tried to read his expression and failed. But there was no smile bringing those sexy laugh lines into evidence, and though Sean was dressed in his usual pool cleaning attire, the sparkle was definitely missing, as was the halo. Fuck.

"Well, I'm back," said Sean.

“Hey,” Elijah greeted him. Ouch. Lameness, thy name is Elwood.

They stared at each other.

“I’m sorry about the mix-up this morning,” Elijah said.

“That’s okay, although I confess to being a little confused,” Sean replied. “Yesterday afternoon you called to say you were unhappy with my work and wanted Eduardo instead,” and there was no mistaking the hurt in Sean’s eyes, and Elijah wanted to cradle Sean’s head in his arms and plant at least a thousand kisses all over his face to take away that hurt, “and then this morning you called and insisted they send me over.”

Sometimes, Elijah thought, you could be having a conversation with someone, and in reality it was two conversations, for the words being spoken had two levels of meaning. The only problem was, he couldn’t be sure this really was one of those times. After all, Sean was a very dedicated pool service technician. So instead of cradling Sean's head in his arms and planting kisses all over his face, Elijah started talking.

“Sean, I have a confession to make. I never called the pool company in the first place,” Elijah said. “It was my friend Dom. He noticed the pool needed cleaning, and he knows how unhappy and lonely I’ve been since I moved to Hollywood, and he thought,” Elijah couldn’t stop the blush that rose to his cheeks, “that if he had a pool boy sent over I might, well, kill two birds with one stone. Get my pool cleaned and, um…”

“Be less unhappy and lonely?” Sean provided dryly. “Exactly what sort of business does your friend Dom think the Friendly Pool Cleaning Service is?”

“I assumed Dom was joking when he suggested it,” Elijah said, seeing the joke from Sean’s point of view and not finding it remotely funny. “That’s why I was so surprised when you showed up.”

“And gave me a test drive and decided that this particular ‘pool boy’ didn’t measure up to your standards?” He definitely sounded bitter.

“No! Sean, no! Dom must have met Eduardo somewhere, and I guess he thought we’d hit it off. So when he found out it wasn’t Eduardo they’d sent to service the pool, he called the pool company, pretending to be me, and said I was unhappy with your service and that I wanted Eduardo instead.” Oh god, that sounded impossibly convoluted, improbable and improper as hell. Fuck. Fuck. “As soon as I discovered what had happened, I, um, asked Eduardo to leave. Then I called and told them it was all a mistake, and that I wanted you back.”

An indescribable expression passed over Sean’s face, but all he said was, “I see. Well, here I am, and I’d better get on with my job, hadn’t I?”

Elijah’s heart plummeted to his toes as Sean continued, “I just have to test the pH and chlorine levels again, see if they need any adjusting, and double check the heater, pump and filter. Then I’ll be all done.”


And, while Elijah sat on the edge of a lounger, biting at his cuticles and watching in silence, Sean did just that, slowly and methodically. Not a word about meerkats or music or movies or anything else was spoken. Elijah wondered if the giant butterfly net was still in Sean’s van. He was becoming that desperate.

Forty-five excruciating minutes later, Sean closed the top of the filter housing and announced, “Everything looks perfect, Elijah. I’d say you’re good to go.”

“Oh.” Elijah got up from the lounger. Was this it then? Was Sean simply going to pack up and leave? Say That’s why we’re called the Friendly Pool Service Company again and break Elijah’s heart? But how could he blame him, after all?

A perceptible change came over Sean, however, as he straightened and faced Elijah. Gone was the professional, no-nonsense pool cleaner. In his place was a man who looked uncertain, almost vulnerable. “Elijah, do you remember what I said about timing being everything?” he asked.

Elijah nodded. “I remember.”

“Today is my last day working for the pool service company,” he said quietly. “I’m leaving on Tuesday for South Africa.”

“Oh.” Fuck it, he was turning into an ‘Oh’ machine; a very, very depressed ‘Oh’ machine. It’s not fair, he thought. What sort of cruel fate would introduce him to Mr. Right only a few days before Mr. Right flew half a world away?

“I’ve been selected to be a member of the Kalahari Meerkat Project staff. Only twenty doctorate students in the entire U.S. get accepted into the program at one time. It’s a huge honor, and what I’ve dreamed about for ten years.”

“That’s brilliant, Sean,” Elijah said around the lump in his throat. “I’m so happy for you.” Then why did he sound as if he was offering condolences for a death in Sean’s family?

Sean let out one of those devastatingly attractive huffing laughs, and Elijah's heart cracked a little. “I was happy for me, too, until two days ago when you opened your front door and I saw you, Elijah. That’s when I realized for the first time that maybe all my dreams and goals didn’t revolve around studying meerkats in the Kalahari.”

Elijah was momentarily struck dumb with astonishment. Then he said wonderingly, “You mean it was the same for you? Really? I was afraid you were just doing your job, what with all your ‘That’s why we’re called the Friendly Pool Service Company’ stuff.”

“Elijah, I knew for certain that you were the one when you told me that your swimming pool was depressed,” Sean said. “I apologize if I've been giving out mixed signals. I wanted to ask you out two days ago, god, you have no idea how badly I wanted to, but it didn’t seem right when I was leaving for South Africa in less than a week. Why start something I couldn’t finish, and risk hurting both of us? So when I heard that you’d called the pool company to say you weren’t satisfied with my work and wanted a replacement, I thought, ‘Well, even if it hurts like a son of a bitch, it’s better like this.’”

“Oh god, Sean, I’m so sorry,” Elijah said.

Sean shook his head. “It’s not your fault. Anyway, as I was driving over here I got a call from Eduardo.”

Elijah’s face flamed. “Oh no,” he moaned.

“Did you really flap your hands at him and tell him to shoo?”

Elijah squirmed. “Well, it worked,” he said defensively.

“It did indeed work,” Sean agreed, and Elijah had the distinct impression that he was struggling very hard not to laugh. Then he said, “You know, most people, given a choice, would prefer to have Eduardo as their, um, pool boy. He’s very good-looking.”

“I’m not most people,” Elijah retorted. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s no comparison. You’re the only pool boy I’ll ever want.”

Finally, Sean smiled, a slow, intimate smile that brought out every single laugh line, crease by sexy crease. Elijah’s knees went weak again. At this rate, he was going to need to invest in braces.

“I saw The Passenger last night,” Sean said, apropos of nothing and everything.

“You did?” Elijah’s pulse was pounding. “So what did you think?”

“I think you look incredible smeared in peanut butter, Elijah.”

They’d been gradually moving closer and closer to each other as they spoke, so it wasn’t very far for Elijah to launch himself to reach Sean’s arms. Unfortunately, Sean was standing close to the edge of the pool, and Elijah launched himself with considerable enthusiasm. Sean staggered back as Elijah hit him, lost his balance, and with flailing arms and an enormous splash, they fell into the pool.

They resurfaced sputtering and laughing, and stood close together in warm chlorinated water up to their chests. “I was going to propose we try out the pool, just to make sure it really is clean and happy,” Sean said, blinking the moisture from his eyes. “But I was also going to propose we remove our clothes first.”

Elijah tugged Sean’s sodden polo shirt from the waistband of his shorts with impatient fingers. "Well, let's get to it then, Pool Boy," he said.


“I understand now why you pool service technicians find so much stuff in people’s swimming pools.” Elijah settled back into Sean’s embrace and grinned. Their clothes were floating around on the surface on the water, and Elijah’s Chucks and Sean’s running shoes were resting side by side on the blue-painted bottom. “I am sorry about your shoes getting ruined, though,” he said with regret. He really liked those emerald green stripes, laces and soles.

“That’s okay," Sean said. "I can always buy another pair. It was worth it, believe me.”

Elijah didn't have to look to know the halo was glinting again.

“You know, I never thought I'd say this, but I’m going to miss my swimming pool,” Elijah remarked a short time later, admiring the way the water sparkled and danced, and listening to the contented hum of the filter. “But at least I can leave it behind happy and not depressed anymore." He heaved a happy sigh. "Just like me."

Sean’s arms tightened around him. “Elijah, are you sure? You have a brilliant acting career ahead of you if you want it. It doesn’t seem right to take you away from that.”

“I’m not cut out to be a movie star, Sean. I figured that out pretty fast. Besides, what could ever beat playing Iggy?”

“There aren’t any swimming pools in the Kalahari,” Sean said.

“I expect we’ll make do with a happy bathtub,” Elijah replied. Then he turned around to straddle Sean’s lap, and silenced any further worries with a long, fervent kiss.


D- I’m off to the Kalahari with my Pool Boy to study meerkats. Thank you for noticing my pool needed cleaning. You’re a god.

Give my love to Bills.

Love, E.

P.S. Boy, does he ever fill out a thong nicely.