Double Entendre

I cannot stand this. Billy thinks it, and then he says it out loud. "I cannot stand this."

Luckily he says it low, and the bar is so loud and crowded and throbbing with music that even Astin, sitting right beside him, could not possibly have heard him. "What?" he shouts.

"I have to piss!" Billy yells back, and he gets up from his barstool and pushes his way through the gyrating bodies on the dance floor to the bathroom, edging around by the wall so he won’t have to look at the thing he cannot stand to look at.

Thank god I’m a man, he thinks briefly as he sees the line for the ladies’. He slinks past the chattering or silent girls, nodding at the elves and hobbits and crew members who are in line, to stand outside the gents’, where he only has to wait about 45 seconds for the door to open.

Inside, he sits on the toilet seat, pants still zipped, and rests his face in his hands. His hands are cold, pleasant against his hot cheeks. He pushes his palms back along his cheekbones, stretching his face into an exaggerated grimace, then relaxes again, eyes shut within the cup of his fingers.

"This is ridiculous." Here in the bathroom he can hear his own voice, dull and odd over the muffled pounding of the music outside, but there is no one to answer. Which is good, because he is too old for this shite. Too old to be jealous over some beautiful child. Who is always hanging all over the other, even more beautiful, child. Both of whom are his cast mates, which is a recipe for trouble if ever there was one. Neither of whom has shown any interest in him other than as a friend, and he doesn’t want to screw that up, either. So he should just keep his fucking pants zipped and his rougher thoughts to himself and forget forget forget any ideas otherwise.

Forget. And what is the quickest way to do that? Get trollied, smashed, pissed, schnockered, lit, loaded. Billy lifts his head. The eve of a two-day filming break, plenty of time to get a massive drunk on and be recovered enough to look like fresh-faced little Pippin when the cameras start rolling again. Plenty of time to drown his desire.

His barstool next to Astin is still, miraculously, empty. Sean pats the seat and Billy slides into it, gesturing to the bartender. "Double, scotch," he says laconically. He feels Sean’s warm, heavy arm land on his shoulder.

"So you’ve decided to join the rest of us in the land of inebriation," he says loudly, and he likes the sound of it, because he repeats it, putting on a game-show host voice: "The Land of Inebriation."

"Looks like you’ve elected yerself king," Billy replies, half-smile uncomfortable on his face. He is not going to turn around and look at the dance floor, he is not going to watch Elijah hanging all over Dom and Dom hanging all over Elijah.

"I am king by right and proclamation," Sean intones. He waits for Billy’s scotch to arrive, and they toast one another. "Cheers," Astin says, and takes a(nother) swig of his beer. Billy raises his glass to him and then drinks most of it. Far too fast, this is decent whiskey, it is not some piss that should be knocked back like Schnapps. But Billy has a goal, so he pours the scotch down his throat, making a face at the hard burn of it, and gestures to the bartender again, holding up two fingers.

"Man on a mission, I like that," Sean says. "What shall we toast this time?"

"Obliteration," Billy says, and Sean yells "Obliteration!" as he swallows the last of his beer. This time the liquor doesn’t hurt so bad on the way down, and Billy feels the spreading warmth of it, pooling in his stomach, beginning to sear its slow way through his limbs.

"Another beer?" he asks Sean, liking him more tonight than he has in a while; pompous, sweet Sean, always taking care of everyone. If only Astin wasn’t straight, maybe he could get him and Elijah together, and keep Dom for himself… No, wouldn’t be jake, because Sean is straight, right, yes. Oh, and married, and a father. Definitely not jake.

"Yes," and Sean calls for another beer and another double for Billy.

"Where’s Chris?" Billy asks as they wait for their drinks.

"She and Allie went back to L.A. for two weeks, I told you that, you moron." Sean would never call Billy a moron if he wasn’t pissed to the gills, he is too nice, much too considerate. Both men are silent, Sean with his face buried in his glass, Billy drifting, trying to follow the progress of the scotch through his body.

"Poor Seanie, all alone," Billy says when the drinks arrive, some neuron tripped, reminding him of what they were saying a few minutes ago, and this time he doesn’t slug back the drink in a few hot swallows, he takes a large gulp, yes, but not the whole thing. Sean is looking at him, disappointed. "What?"

"You didn’t name a toast."

"Oh. Sorry. Your turn, any road." Billy holds his glass up, turning toward Sean.

"Oh, me?" Billy wonders just how many beers Sean has had as he watches the brow furrow with thought, then clear. "I know, I know. To friends, who take the place of lovers." He suddenly yanks his glass back before it can clank with Billy’s, and leans forward anxiously. "You know what I mean, right? Not, take the place of, just, you know–are there to be with, hang with."

Billy’s mouth falls open, then he nods kindly. "I know, Seanie, I know. To friends." Their glasses clink and they both drink. "Yer not really my type, anyway." He pats Sean’s leg.

"It’s because I’m fat," Sean says morosely, and Billy has to squinch his eyes shut for a minute to keep himself from slamming his own forehead down on the edge of the bar. Pompous, sweet, insecure Sean. God, Billy loves him.

"No, I never did mind a bi’ o’ padding on a lad," Billy says, his accent growing thicker by the minute as the liquor permeates his bloodstream. "S’jest–y’know. Yer straight, Seanie. F’yeh weren’t… well." He smiles cheerfully at him. "I’d find yeh qui’ attractive." Sean isn’t really Billy’s type, since Billy likes men who are lean and hard and bad, but he is attractive, and that’s what he needs to hear, so. It does not, at this point, enter Billy’s head that the whole conversation might be considered a bit strange, if not downright surreal, without the help of the tea-colored alcohol bubbling merrily away in his system.

Sean looks more cheerful. "Thanks, Bills." He slugs back another quarter of his beer. "Why are you alone tonight? Hanging out with the drunk married guy…" he gestures vaguely, and Billy ducks.

"I cannae have wha’ I want." Billy nods solemnly.

"What do yeh–you–want?" Sean leans toward him, all concerned brown eyes and sympathetic head-tilt.

Billy turns on his stool to look at the dance floor, and Sean follows his lead. Dom and Elijah are still at it, moving gracefully around one another. Dom reaches above his head with both arms, revealing a stretch of flat damp skin and his navel, and Billy yearns toward him until he nearly falls off his barstool. Then Elijah does something silly and funky, some white-boy move that takes his head down near Dom’s bare stomach, and Dom pushes his hips at him, and Elijah grins up at him, tousled and sweaty and young, and Billy turns away again, feeling sad and old and jealous, goddammit, jealous.

"Oh." Sean faces the bar again, too, and both men lean over their glasses, letting the music and flickering lights wash over them.

"Yeh, I know. It’s pathetic. But. Shite. I can hardly help m’self." Billy knocks back his whiskey and waves for another one, which he drinks quickly. You are going to pay so hard for this, his sister’s voice smirks in his head. "Fuck off, Margo," he says out loud, and Sean peers at him.

"He is beautiful," Sean says, drinking the last bit of his beer. When the replacement comes he does not call for a toast, just hunches there next to Billy for a while. Billy stops thinking, presses the tip of his finger to the sticky bar surface, pulls it away. The tacky feeling of separation is interesting. He does it again. Stick. Stick. Stick. "Why him?" Sean says finally.

"I dunno." Billy sips the scotch, which has no taste at all anymore. "Always had a weakness for blue eyes, I guess, and skinny men… some skinny men," he adds hastily, but Astin appears to have forgotten his own quest for Billy’s admiration, he is nodding seriously. "And we geh’ along so weel, doan we? Always able to joke, always able to talk."

"You should tell him," Sean says suddenly, long after Billy’s voice has trailed into nothing, overwhelmed by the noise and darkness around them.

"I cannae tell him, yeh great stupid git. I’m too old for him, and he’s no’ interested in me tha’ way. I won’ put mahself out to be stepped on." Another sip of tasteless liquid. A swallow, a large swallow.

"He should know," Sean insists stubbornly. "Sure, he’s young, but he’s an adult. You underestimate him." He pronounces the word carefully, enunciating each syllable.

"No." Billy says it stubbornly, and he would shake his head but that seems like a bad idea, so he just repeats it: "No."

"Billy, don’t be such a–"

They are interrupted, a typhoon of sweaty young male flesh slamming into their space. Dom and Elijah, breathless and hyper as usual. "How you fellas doing?" Dom says, as Elijah says, "C’mon, come and dance, guys, this is great!"

"Fuck off," Billy says, and Dom picks up his glass and sniffs it.

"Fuck, Billy, I thought you were supposed to be the designated driver tonight." He doesn’t sound angry, though, just amused.

"I’ll pay for a cab," Billy mumbles, not looking up, not daring to look up. Elijah is hanging over Sean, arms slung about him, gleaming face grinning over his shoulder.

"How many have you had, Sean?" he asks, and Sean holds up four fingers; considers this, makes it six.

"No need for a cab," Dom says. "I’ll take you home. I want to surf this weekend, and if you keep drinking you won’t be catching anything but porcelain tomorrow." His smile is wide and bright; oblivious, dammit, and Billy wants to lean toward Dom’s sharp-edged smile, but he doesn’t. Just nods.

"Fine. I’ll get Sean home, too, then." Elijah pulls back, braces Sean as he staggers off the stool and drapes Sean’s arm over his shoulder. "Let’s go, you big wanker." As always, the word sounds bizarre coming from Elijah’s mouth, and Dom grins at Billy, hoping to share the joke.

But Billy doesn’t feel like joking, he feels like holding Dom’s head still (by the ears, if necessary) to push his tongue into that grin, open Dom, break him apart, devour him and steal his taste, his breath, his sweat… And since he can’t do that, Billy just stands up, one hand on the barstool until the floor steadies beneath him, scowling down at the gently rocking wood under his trainers.

Dom shoots Elijah a look (Billy sees it, scowl getting blacker by the second) and wraps one arm around Billy’s waist. "Let’s go, my wee Scottish friend, home to beddy-bye and water and aspirin."

Billy goes along with it, because he is hypnotized by Dom’s arm across the small of his back, and his hand, firm on Billy’s hip. He leans against him and they follow Sean and Elijah out of the club.

Dom buckles Billy in and stands outside the car talking to Elijah for a moment. Billy can’t really hear them–the night air is cold and the silence seems to have deafened him after the ear-splitting volume of the club. He stares at the strange patterns of the stars outside the window (his head seems to have fallen to one side), and listens from somewhere far away: "Pissed… home… to bed… in the morning… call." Then Sean and Elijah are weaving across the parking lot to Elwood’s car. Billy can hear Sean’s voice start up, unintelligible, one arm (the one not around Elijah) gesturing broadly. Then Dom is in the car and they are moving.

He doesn’t have much memory of the drive home, although he vaguely recalls stopping and standing outside the car, one hand braced on the passenger’s side mirror, peeing and peeing and peeing for about four minutes. Then zipping up (four more minutes), then back in the car. His little house, and Dom half-carrying him in. Gentle hands, and himself murmuring something stupid (and luckily unintelligible). Dom makes him drink water, and piss again, and take aspirin, and then Dom tucks him into bed, pats his head, and takes himself away home.

He is gone before Billy can ask him to stay, but only because the impulse to speak takes a light year to get from Billy’s brain to his mouth. "I cannae stand this," Billy says aloud, into his dark bedroom, just after the word "Stay" is interrupted by the click of the closing door.

Ah weel. The hangover ought to kill this memory, Billy thinks as he falls asleep. And good riddance.

~*~*~*~

Why? Why why why is someone knocking so loudly at the door? "Shuddup," Billy mumbles, but the knocking goes on, so after a while he drags his sorry arse out of the bed (ohhhh fuck he moans) and staggers to the front door. The light outside assaults his head like a pissed off Man U supporter after losing the World Cup, and Billy can’t really see who it is.

But he can hear, and smell, and it is Elijah, Elijah-fucking-Wood, "Hey Billy, you look like shit, man," pushing in the door, dropping his half-smoked clove cigarette on Billy’s porch, swinging a grocery bag (rustling far too noisily) in his hand, closing the door behind him as though he might be staying for a while.

"Get out," Billy says clearly, trying to open the door, but Elijah has one of his arms, is dragging him into the house, pushing him onto the sofa. Billy sits there for a minute, watching through squinty, bloodshot eyes as Elijah saunters into the kitchen. Billy can hear him moving around in there, but he closes his eyes (there’s too much fucking light, why can’t it be a cloudy day for chrissakes?) and topples sideways so he is lying uncomfortably against the arm of the couch, feet still flat on the floor.

"Don’t go to sleep like that," Elijah says, and Billy feels the couch beside him dip. "You’ll get a pain in your neck."

"You are a pain in my neck," Billy replies automatically, and he means it, he really does. "Listen, Elwood, you know I love you, but could you please just piss off? That’s a good boy."

"C’mon." Elijah pokes and prods him until he is sitting up again. Puts a glass of water into his hands, gives him two aspirin tablets. Makes him drink the rest of the water, and then hands him a bottle of some electrolyte-crap and disappears into the kitchen again. "I’m going to make you some really greasy hangover food, settle your stomach," Elijah calls, and Billy grunts. Soon his kitchen radio is playing the Stone Roses (not too loud, thank fucking god), and Billy is drinking the radioactive green juice in small, careful sips.

When the smells of eggs and cheese and sausage and potatoes floats past his nose, though, Billy sighs. He wriggles a little, thinks about it, stands up. Wanders into his kitchen. "What time is it?"

Elijah looks so domestic. He is standing over a pan full of sizzling food. "’Bout one," he says. "How ya feeling?"

"Enh. Okay. I might live." Billy looks consideringly at Elijah. He can see why Dom likes him. He is too pretty for words, with his big blue eyes and smooth white skin. Elijah trying to look grungy is more adorable than anything else, because Elijah was given, by nature, glowing skin and long eyelashes and thin, delicate hands. No matter how badly he abuses his hair or tries to grow a beard or chews his nails (and he really can’t help that last one), he looks cherubic. "What are you making?" Billy wishes he could hate him, but Elijah has a cheerfulness about him that matches his sweet looks. He likes people to be happy, and will do whatever it takes to make them that way.

Which explains why he is here, cooking, when he could be somewhere else. With Dom. Billy quashes the thought. It is useless. It just hurts. Billy rubs his eyes fretfully.

"This is a good hangover breakfast." Elijah pokes at the mess in the skillet. "I wish I could make you Tex-Mex, but I don’t know how, and I don’t know where I’d get the stuff here anyway. That’s some great hangover food." He lifts the pan, dumps everything equally onto two plates.

He and Billy sit at the kitchen bar and eat. They talk about hangover foods. "Lemon juice and honey," Billy tells Elijah.

"Cheese fries at Shady Grove," apparently a restaurant in Austin. "With bacon bits and jalapenos on ’em."

"A hot dog with mayonnaise and chopped-up peppers and tomatoes."

"More alcohol."

That takes them through breakfast, and by the time it over, Billy is feeling human. He heads to the bathroom, where he brushes his teeth and washes his face. More deodorant? Yes, that ought to do the trick. Then a clean t-shirt and back to the living room, where he expects Elijah is waiting to take him to surf. His wetsuit? In the car. All right.

But in the living room Elijah shows no signs of leaving. He is slouched on the couch, chewing on his thumbnail, and when Billy comes in his smile looks a bit strained.

"Are we still going surfing?" Billy hovers uncertainly.

"Yeah, later. Sit down, Bills." Elijah pats the couch beside him, and Billy obeys, wondering what is going on. He is sure that Elijah has no idea Billy likes his boyfriend–he’s too old and wily to have shown it, he’s sure. Reasonably sure. Pretty sure.

Unless… unless Astin said something. Fuck. Billy cocks his head at Elijah, keeping his face cheerfully neutral, but a sudden lurch in his stomach tells him his intuition is right on. That’s just the kind of half-arsed royally stupid thing Astin would do. Fuckfuckfuck.

"What’s up?" Billy forces himself to ask.

"So Billy, Sean was pretty drunk last night, too."

"Yeah." Fuck.

"And he was talking, rambling on, and he seemed to believe… he seemed pretty sure that you, that you," Elijah’s stumbling, but he’ll get there, "that you have, feelings. Like, romantic feelings, for–"

"Shut it, Lijah."

"No, hey, Billy, it’s okay, let’s talk about it."

"I don’t want to talk about it."

"Billy." Elijah is exasperated, and Billy hates to rain on his little parade but he is not going to talk about with him, there is a list of people Billy does not want to talk about this with, and Elijah is right up at the top of that list.

"No, no way, I am not talking about this."

"But you do have… feelings?"

Billy looks away, furious with himself for reddening. "Yes, all right. Yes. But it’s jest stupid, I realize that. I realize that it’s not possible."

"But we still need to talk about it." Elijah is sincere, all glowing concerned sweetness, and Billy resists the urge to give him a black eye. Pete would kill Billy. And Elijah did not say, Of course it’s possible, why wouldn’t it be possible, so now it’s been laid out for him–he suspected Dom and Elijah were a couple before, now he’s been told. "I don’t want this to screw up our friendship, Bills. It’s important to me."

Billy scrubs his face with his hands, hard. "It won’t, okay, Elijah? Our friendship is more important, and we all have to work together, too. So don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything so dramatic as to make a scene, or pine, or anything. It’s just a crush." He smiles at Elijah, a little, just a small quirk to let him know it’s all right. Because it will be. Billy guesses. Eventually. "Just because I like the fellows doesn’t mean I’m a drama queen."

"We’ll leave that to Orli," Elijah smirks, and Billy grins.

"Exactly. Hey, why didn’t he come to the bar last night?"

A shadow flits over Elijah’s face. "Oh, you know. Off being his royal highness. Something."

Billy snorts. "Poofter."

Elijah rolls his eyes. "You have no idea." He stands up. "So listen, Billy… I gotta go. I need to go get my wetsuit from Orli’s house, and then we were thinking, Sean and Dom and I, maybe we could go out about four-thirty? That work? We can pick you up."

"Yeah." Billy stands up, too, and walks Elijah to the door. "Listen, Lij…" Billy feels awkward as hell. "Thanks. For breakfast and… y’know." Just shut up now, but he hears himself going on: "Sorry if I act like a shitheel sometimes, but. I’m fine. It’s just a crush. It’ll pass."

"Hey, Billy, no worries, mate." Elijah touches his arm gently, peers out into the bright day. "If things were different…" He smiles at Billy and very quickly, almost sneakily, leans to peck his cheek.

"I–" Billy shudders at the rage that washes over him, turning his face red. He makes an effort, keeps his hands at his side. "Don’t do that, please." His voice is quiet, polite, deadly. He shuts the door between them and leans against it. After a long time he hears Elijah’s footsteps move away, hears his car start, hears him drive away.

And then Billy can turn around and smash his fist into the wall beside the door, so hard it breaks the skin over his knuckles, so hard he leaves a deep dent in the plaster.