Originally written in 2009. Based on Sean’s Q&A session at the University of Rhode Island and the question he was asked there about whether or not he is still in touch with the other hobbits. If you want to hear what he said exactly, check this Youtube video. The story is also based on Elijah filming a movie on Long Island, some paparazzi photos and other info about him that has appeared on the Internet, and good old Google maps.
The question stayed with him long after such questions usually left his mind. Are you still in touch with the actors from The Lord of the Rings, in particular the hobbits? He’d answered truthfully that he wasn’t, but there was the truth, and then there was everything that lived unspoken behind that truth.
In his lecture he talked about the nature of fellowship. Despite himself, regret and sorrow always crept into his voice when he said, ‘What I’ve learned about fellowship is that it can be fleeting.’ And despite himself, anticipation and longing replaced them when he said, ‘It is so important to relish every second of it, because most bonds of fellowship have a narrative, with a beginning, a middle and, hopefully, a to-be-continued’.
Elijah had tried to keep the narrative going. He’d clung doggedly to the belief that they would always stay friends no matter what else was lost. But the silences between them had grown longer—Sean’s fault—and eventually he’d stopped calling or emailing. It was better that way, Sean would think, and three kids and a busy life didn’t leave him much time to stay mired in sorrow at his self-inflicted estrangement.
But now the sorrow was back, full-force, triggered by that question, and the expectation of 10th anniversary reunions that he’d held in his mind and heart as a talisman against that estrangement simply didn’t cut it right now. A chain hotel room far from home was perhaps not the best place to grapple with his dilemma. Nothing on the TV, not even C-SPAN, could distract him from it, and there were no daughters at hand to read to, or help with homework, or take to the movies.
But there was free wireless Internet, and Sean found himself sitting in bed with his MacBook on his lap and Google News open in Safari. Of course, what were the odds there’d be any information on Elijah’s current whereabouts? He had no idea what Elijah was up to these days, if he was working or vacationing or simply hanging out at home. It couldn’t hurt to look, though.
He typed in ‘Elijah Wood’ and hit the enter key.
Greenport was on the North Fork of Long Island, and quiet in the off-season. Sean parked his rental car in a nearly empty shopping lot, still marveling that Google News revealed he was just a hop, a skip and a ferry ride away from where Elijah was filming a movie. Coincidence or fate? He wasn’t a big believer in fate, but sometimes you had to wonder.
Further googling had yielded two likely hotel candidates in downtown Greenport, close together on the main drag, Front Street. It should be easy enough to discover where Elijah was staying. He’d contemplated, and discarded, the idea of driving out to the vineyard where shooting was taking place, just as he’d contemplated, and discarded, the idea of calling Elijah to say he was driving down to see him. Elijah had the biggest heart and most loving nature of anyone Sean had ever known, but even he might have limits to what he’d tolerate, and Sean wasn’t sure he could bear it if Elijah told him not to come. So he'd decided he'd take his chances.
It was a raw and windy November afternoon. Sean had only brought a light jacket with him from California, and he huddled into it as he fed the parking meter and walked across the lot to Front Street, where he turned left in the direction of the hotels.
When he immediately saw Elijah walking toward him, it was like being hit by a thunderbolt. My god, he thought, dazed, how have I lived without him in my life for so long? His vision seemed to narrow, as if he was looking down the wrong end of a telescope. At its end was a young man in jeans, Chucks, and a navy jacket, with a black scarf tied around his neck, a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, and sunglasses hiding his distinctive blue eyes. A young man who for two glorious years had lived inside Sean’s skin—just as Sean had lived inside his.
Elijah stopped dead when he caught sight of Sean, and behind the obscuring orange lenses, Sean was very sure that those blue eyes were wide with astonishment. Sean stopped, too, uncertain of his welcome and suddenly hyper aware of the years that had passed, of the changes in them both, especially himself. He was settling into a middle-aged portliness that he seemed helpless to prevent, while Elijah was… god, more beautiful than ever.
“Oh my fucking god. Sean? Is that really you? I don’t fucking believe it, man.” Elijah’s face broke out in a wide smile, and he ran at Sean, his arms held wide.
They embraced, and trite as the saying might be, Sean could only think, as Elijah’s body, instantly, intimately familiar, pressed against his, I’ve come home.
“Elijah. Elijah. Elijah,” Sean chanted over and over like a broken record as they hugged tightly and swayed back and forth. My god, he thought again. How have I lived without this, without him, for so long? “Elijah. Elijah.”
Eventually they pulled back enough to look into each other’s eyes. “Sean, fuck.” Elijah shook his head. “What are you doing here?”
“I'm here to see you,” Sean said. Up close, he noticed other changes in Elijah that hadn't been apparent from a distance. There was heavy, solid muscle beneath the coat sleeves he held so tightly. Elijah's beard and mustache were thicker and longer than he'd ever seen them, and his face was more angular, his features more defined; the last vestige of youthful fullness had gone. The ten year gap between them, that had once loomed larger than Mount Doom and caused Sean endless stress, was rendered immaterial now. This was no youth, but a full-grown man.
"But why now?" Elijah asked, clearly puzzled. "It's been over two years, Sean."
“Because I had a wake-up call, Elijah. It happened last night. I was at the University of Rhode Island giving a lecture to some students, and during the Q&A session, someone in the audience asked me if I was still in touch with you and the other hobbits. Later, after I'd gone back to my hotel, I couldn’t shake the question from my mind, because the answer I had to give wasn't the one I wanted to give, wasn't the one I should have had to give, caring for you the way I do. Like I said, it was a wake-up call. I only wish I’d gotten it months ago.”
“Oh Sean,” Elijah said. “How did you know where to find me?”
“Good old-fashioned googling," Sean admitted. "It seemed like fate when I discovered that you were working so close to where I was staying. So I rented a car, drove down to New London, and took the ferry across to Orient.”
“Fate or not, I’m so fucking glad you did."
“So am I. God, so am I. But Elijah, first and foremost, I owe you an apology,” Sean said. “It’s my fault we haven’t been in touch. I shouldn’t have ignored your calls and emails.”
Elijah put his fingers over Sean’s lips. “You don’t have to apologize,” he said. “You did what you had to do. I always understood that, Sean.”
Sean huffed a laugh. An enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He'd lived with it for so long now that he hadn't even realized how heavy it was until this moment. “My god, you have no idea how badly I needed to hear you say that. I wasn’t sure you’d even want to see me again after how I cut you off,” he admitted.
“Sean, you asshole,” Elijah chided him. “How could you ever think I wouldn’t want to see you? Fuck, I’ve imagined this moment so many times you can’t believe it. In fact, I’m still having trouble believing it.”
“Well, believe it. I’m here.” A cold gust of wind sent chill fingers down the back of Sean’s neck and he shivered involuntarily. “Hey, is there someplace we can go have a cup of coffee and get out of this wind?” he asked.
“Sure. We can go back to my hotel room.” Elijah grinned. “I must have known you were going to show up—I just bought a new coffeemaker.” The grin faded, and he gave Sean a slightly uncertain look. “Is that okay with you? If not, there’s a Starbuck’s nearby.”
“It’s fine with me,” Sean replied steadily. He reached out and lightly caressed Elijah’s cheek, relishing the silken feel of the beard under his fingertips. “It’s great with me, actually. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Can I show you something before we go?” Elijah asked.
Elijah drew his messenger bag around and opened the flap. He hunted through it for a few seconds and then drew out a plain white envelope. “I’ve been carrying this around with me for months. I just never got up the nerve to go to the post office and mail it.” He offered it to Sean.
Sean took the wrinkled, somewhat stained envelope with a stamp on it that was two cents short of the current rate. He stared at the name and address written on the front in Elijah’s cramped handwriting. They were his. The envelope was addressed to him. “A letter?”
“Yeah. I wasn’t sure it was wise to call you, and an email seemed too impersonal. So I wrote you a letter instead.”
“What does it say? Can I read it?”
“Sure you can read it, but let’s wait until we get to the hotel.” Elijah sighed. “We shouldn’t hang out here too long. The paps have this street staked out. We’re in the clear right now, but you never know when they’re going to show up. Besides,” he went on softly, “I think all the important stuff in there you’ve already figured out.”
Sean slipped the letter into his pocket. It had no detectable weight or warmth, but he could feel it nevertheless, for the love it contained was palpable. “Yeah, I think I have.” His throat felt tight. “Well, lead on, Mr. Frodo.”
“That’s my Samwise,” Elijah said, smiling as they set out down the sidewalk. “You look great, by the way.”
“If you like short, fat hobbits,” Sean replied ruefully, glancing down at his too-ample gut.
“My favorite kind,” Elijah replied, and pulled off his sunglasses to let Sean read the message in his eyes. It came through loud and clear.
My god, Sean thought a third time, how could I ever have let him go out of my life? A flush of warmth flooded through him unlike anything he’d known since those heady days in New Zealand.
“I wish we were alone,” he remarked, silently cursing every paparazzi ever born. “You have no idea how badly I’d like to kiss you right now.”
“Hang on to that thought,” Elijah said, and with a joyous whoop, started running down the street.
Laughing, Sean ran after him.
He might have been flying.