It wasn’t anything Sean said, but rather what he left unsaid, that had Elijah on a plane to Vancouver. Something was wrong, something beyond the fact that he and Sean were separated due to their Rings hiatus work schedules. What it was, Elijah had no idea, but he intended to find out and fix it. It was a bitch to carve out a couple of precious days, and he had to call in some favors and piss some people off, but he dared anyone to ask him how many fucks he gave.
He didn’t tell Sean he was coming; he didn’t want him to have time to build his defenses. Sean had that whole super protective safety hobbit bullshit going on, and even though Elijah was touched by it, he didn’t need or want it. He figured the best way to break through it was to use the element of surprise.
It worked - sort of. Sean gave him an honest reaction all right: when he opened his hotel room door and saw Elijah on the other side, his beautiful, changeable eyes darkened and without a word he pulled Elijah into his arms and started kissing him like a hobbit who’d been without second breakfast, elevenses, lunch and tea for at least a month.
After that, things got kind of blurry as a haze of desire enveloped them and sent them tumbling still clothed onto the king-sized bed, need to need, hunger to hunger, heart to heart.
When they finally resurfaced, Sean said on a huff of laughter, “Well hel-lo, Mr. F.”
Elijah grinned. “Shouldn’t you have said that at the door?”
Sean ran a hand down Elijah’s damp body, ending at his softening cock, and briefly squeezed it. “I had more important things to take care of first.”
Practically purring, Elijah said, “And you did, very thoroughly.” He nuzzled Sean’s chest, delighting in the so-missed sweat and musk scent.
Sean released him and snugged him closer, cupping a possessive hand around his ass. “So, to what do I owe the unexpected honor?”
Elijah decided not to broach the real reason for his visit just yet. “I missed you,” he said, which was no lie. He leaned in and kissed him, softly, but Sean winced. Elijah drew back and for the first time noticed a vertical cut on the left side of Sean’s upper lip. “Oh shit. Did I do that? I’m sorry.” He touched the cut ever so gently with his forefinger.
“It wasn’t you,” Sean reassured him.
“Then what happened?”
“I was filming a scene with Malcolm and I guess we got a little too in the moment. It’s okay, honestly,” Sean said as Elijah frowned. “He apologized. Malcolm’s a real teddy bear, Lighe. We get along great.”
Elijah was a temperate guy, his feathers not easily ruffled, but one thing was certain to rouse him: for those he loved to be hurt in any way. He wondered if this had anything to do with what was bothering Sean. Was the production unacceptably dangerous? “Maybe, but I don’t like to think of you being hurt,” was all he said.
“Says the man who played gleefully with my giant blood clot.”
“That was different. Competent people were there to take care of you. And,” Elijah briefly closed his eyes against the painful memories, “you weren’t mine then.”
Sean laid a finger over Elijah’s lips to stop him, and shook his head. “Correction: I was yours, had been since the moment I met you.”
“Maybe, but I didn’t know it.” Sean’s arms tightened almost painfully for a moment then relaxed. Elijah deliberately lightened his voice when he added, “Not even for you would I have kissed your foot to make it better, but a cut lip? That I can do.” With exquisite care, Elijah laid his lips against the cut, the barest touch. “How’s that?”
“All better, Mr. F. Thanks.” Sean released a sigh that came from the very heart of him. “God, I’ve missed you so much. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for you to get away, but I can’t tell you what it means to me that you did.”
Which gave Elijah the opening he’d been waiting for. “They weren’t happy with me,” he admitted. “But family always comes first, for both of us, and I felt it was necessary to see you.” Sean was watching him attentively, clearly aware now that Elijah was building up to something. “Sean, I wasn’t entirely straight with you when you asked me why I came to Vancouver.”
“No?” Sean raised an inquiring eyebrow.
“No. I’ve had a sense the last few times we spoke on the phone that something’s bothering you, and I’m worried.” Sean opened his mouth to speak, but this time it was Elijah who shook his head. “Please don’t tell me I’m wrong and it’s nothing. For once, don’t go all safety hobbit on me, okay? I’m a big boy. I can handle whatever it is.”
Sean was silent for a minute or so then he said, looking deep into Elijah’s eyes, “It’s nothing to do with you, if that’s what you’re worried about. I promise.”
“I’m not worried.” Elijah laid his hand over Sean’s heart, beating slow and steady beneath his palm. “If there’s one thing in this world I’m absolutely confident of, it’s that this beats for me.”
Sean covered his hand with his own and gripped it. “That it does and always will,” he said, and the words were tinged with a trace of Sam’s west country burr.
“So, now we have that settled, you gonna tell me what’s wrong?”
“First, though, I want you to understand something. The reason I didn’t say anything is not because I’ve been trying to protect you. Yeah, I’m aware I can go all safety hobbit on you and I’m trying my best not to.” Sean looked rueful. “But that wasn’t a factor this time, Elijah.”
“Then why not share it with me?” Elijah was puzzled.
“The truth is, I’ve been too embarrassed. You have a different and healthier attitude towards the characters you play. You don’t take them home with you. I envy you that, you know. I’ve never been able to manage it no matter how hard I try.”
His confession caught Elijah by surprise. He said slowly, “I’m not convinced that my attitude is healthier, Sean, even if it is different. Hell, sometimes I envy you your ability to lose yourself in a character like you did Sam. I’ll never connect with an audience in the visceral way you can. It’s a gift, Sean, that emotional connection you can create.”
“But it can also be a curse.” Sean leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. “I haven’t talked much about this character I’m playing in Jeremiah, Mister Smith, but Lighe, he haunts me.”
“Because the guy hears a voice in his head that may be God’s. He certainly believes it’s God’s voice.”
“What’s your opinion? Is it real or is it Memorex?” Elijah propped himself on Sean’s chest and looked down at him. He wasn’t particularly religious, despite his name and his mom’s deep faith, but Sean was. He’d wrestled mightily with his love for Elijah, a love that went contrary to his belief in the sanctity of marriage, of the words ‘til death us do part’. It had held him back for a long time from acting on his feelings. His confused parentage was another issue, Elijah knew. Did he follow his mom’s Christian faith or John Astin’s Buddhism? Muddying the waters even more was the fact that his biological dad was Jewish.
“The sixty-four thousand dollar question, and one I’m sure I’ll be asked after the episodes air.” Sean gazed up soberly at Elijah. “Mike won’t tell me what he thinks. He wants me to make up my own mind.”
“Have you? Or is that the problem?”
“I’ve given it a lot of thought, believe me, and I’m convinced it’s real, the Voice Smith hears, and that’s what has me worried. Am I being hubristic, Elijah? Am I making this about me and my ego? After all, would God would really make His voice heard through one small, downtrodden man who tried to commit suicide?”
Elijah could see how important this was to Sean, and he didn’t offer a pat reassurance even though there was no doubt whatsoever in his own mind that Sean had nothing to worry about. “Jesus was of humble birth. He was born in a stable, Sean. Doesn’t get much more humble than that. So I’d say it makes more sense for God to speak through a man like Smith than some bigwig.”
Sean looked struck by Elijah’s words. “That’s true. I hadn’t thought of it like that. But shit, Elijah, I have to embody that man, and it’s a mighty tall order to play God’s chosen vessel. Too tall an order, I fear. I’m not worthy.”
“Bullshit. Of course you are. Sean, the very fact that you think you’re not worthy means that you are.”
Sean quirked his mouth. “Not sure I follow your logic.”
“Look, you know I don’t like to equate our relationship with Frodo and Sam’s. It’s too fucking weird, and I’d rather leave that kind of speculation to the fans. But I can equate you to Sam, who’s another pretty extraordinary character to say the least, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you were born to play that role. No one else could have done him justice the way you have, no one else could have expressed his devotion, his hope, his strength, his love for Frodo,” Elijah said passionately. “Fuck, Sean, if you can play Samwise, you can play anyone, even a guy who is God’s chosen vessel.”
“You honestly think so?”
“Like I said, I know so.”
Sean’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. “Here I was afraid you’d think I’m nuts for worrying about it so much.”
Elijah gave Sean’s shoulder a little shake. “Never, especially not when it involves your acting and your faith. They’re integral parts of what make you you, the man I fell in love with, and you can always talk about them with me, got it?”
“Yeah.” Sean smiled, and his relief was almost palpable. “You know, for someone who professes not to be religious, you’re damned insightful about Smith and the Voice.”
“I prefer to think of it as being damned insightful about you,” countered Elijah.
“You understand me better than anyone ever has," Sean said softly. "I’m so blessed to have you in my life, Elijah Wood.”
“Back atcha, Sean Astin.” Elijah cupped Sean’s face with his hand and ran a thumb across that full upper lip that he considered his private property - along with everything else. He stopped just short of the cut and said, “I have two days free, and I’d like to visit the set and meet Malcolm and Luke and everyone else. You won’t mind if I give Malcolm a little bit of a hard time about this?”
“Nah, just keep in mind the guy is built like a brick shithouse.”
“Pfft. I’m not afraid.”
“You haven’t met him yet,” Sean joked. “Hm, maybe we can get you a cameo.”
“As Smith’s gay lover?” Elijah suggested.
Sean laughed. “Now there’s an idea. I wonder what the Voice would make of it.”
“Approve wholeheartedly. Sounds like your Mister Smith could use some loving in his life.”
“He could at that,” agreed Sean. “But right now, I’m the one who could use some loving. You up for another round, Mr. F.?”
Elijah slid over Sean and moved his hips. “This answer your question, Mr. S.?”
“Oh yeah, I’d say you’re definitely up for it.” Sean rolled them over and every shadow had fled from his eyes as he bent to kiss Elijah without the slightest regard for the cut on his lip.