Original story: Scenes of Obsession by idri_fic
Rating: R-ish (but mostly PG)
Summary: At times it's too easy to drift apart.
Warnings: For me, this is heavy on the angst
Pre-reveal Notes: Thanks to idri_fic for the fantastic inspiration. I strongly encourage everyone to read her original story first. I kept getting drawn back to it despite all the options available to me. Idrillia, I hope you like this take on your characters. References Orlando playing Steven in In Celebration last year in London; possibly one spoiler but very minor.
Post-reveal Notes: Huge thanks to itstonedme not only for being an incredible beta but also for reassuring me that Elijah is no longer a boy and is therefore allowed to be slashed. :-) I have to admit I tried very hard not to write my first Orlijah of any length, but I kept getting pulled back to this story. It was a challenge but I'm glad I did it.
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
Sometimes when the last of the day has faded, Elijah blocks out the city lights with heavy curtains and sits in the dark imagining what Orlando's doing, where he is, what he's thinking. He fills his mind with images, picture postcards of a life he knows intimately but doesn't get to share as often as he'd like.
His mental snapshots are better than those most can conjure; Orlando's daily, mundane routines easily accessible from his card catalog of memories. Mannerisms, quirks, the subtle differences in his smiles - Elijah picks and chooses each detail with care, the shading that adds depth to the painting. He adds to his memory with websites and gossip pages; he knows they aren't real, just stolen images of a persona, but they give him new photographs for his collection, remove any residual watermarks and sharpen the perspective. It doesn't take him a lot of time; Elijah can create fairly elaborate days for his star in what seems like an instant. There are few who can make such a claim, but those that can don't end up feeling as hollow.
Elijah's mind flips through picture after picture and he can't remember the last time they've seen each other. He starts to feel lost and adrift. After too much time no amount of knowledge, no level of understanding, can stop the sense of disconnection that creeps along the perimeter, taunting him, teasing insecurities he'd long ago thought were defeated. At times like these, he and Orlando seem separated by more than just miles. It's no one's fault - not his, not Orlando's - but his gradual slide into dejection and regret is almost inevitable, not out of jealousy for what Orlando has but out of worry for what he may not be missing.
Tonight as the house lights dim and the stage comes to life, as Steven makes his entrance and there's a surge of silent energy through the audience, tonight that distance has flared to life. He sits in the dark, an anonymous stranger among a sea of strangers, the people who've come not to see a play but to catch a glimpse of his star. Elijah tries to edit the page, delete the detachment before it snakes through him, predatory and venomous.
This trip was supposed to begin smoothing those frayed edges, a time to eliminate distractions and refocus on each other. Instead it's as if the space between them is getting wider as the minutes pass. He wonders if it's because he's watching Steven, not Orlando: Steven, filled with insecurity and shyness, rather than Orlando, quietly confident and passionate. Elijah smiles at the thought, glad for the ready explanation of this sense of separation. He lets his pride and admiration build, holds it like a shield against doubt.
Intermission and he runs outside to grab a smoke. It feels good to escape the current of fannish excitement, if only for a few minutes; but as he stands apart, unseen in the shadows, his relief at finding a reason for this persistent agitation begins to fade. After all, it doesn't explain the reality of the recent past. An exchange of voicemails and the occasional cursory conversation were their only contact over the last few weeks. Neither of them went anywhere without their phones and Elijah can't help wondering how their calls have been so poorly planned, almost the opposite of divine intervention. When the news of a trip to London is met with only a hurried affirmation his momentary comfort is quick to erode.
The interval ends and he returns to his seat, tries again to upstage worry with his genuine delight at seeing Orlando in control of his career and silencing his critics. But the memory of rushed and barely there conversations won't release its hold, continues to spiral through his mind setting disquiet loose wherever it can be found. This is a night for reunion and yet he can't shake unpleasant thoughts of estrangement, an unfounded fear that this could be the moment when they can't recapture the comfort of simple intimacy.
Curtain calls are over and Elijah's back outside and across the street. He lights up, once more in the dark, this time the invisible dark on the edge of bright lights and commotion, just left of the center of Orlando's star-studded life. He watches the mad crush around the stage door, everyone wanting their piece of Orlando to take home with them. The adoration is genuine, the frenzy almost frightening, and he wonders not for the first time if Orlando could give all this up, if he'd be content returning to a simple life.
Constant motion punctuated their lives in New Zealand, but at the core were the simple truths of friendship and respect, desire and love. Thinking of those times has always given Elijah a sense of serenity, the memories anchoring his confidence. His thoughts linger on the first time they were together, nothing but eager hands and desperate limbs, a clumsy and imperfect coupling that Elijah couldn't imagine being any more ideal. He remembers wanting nothing more than to sink into Orlando's heat, to feel him clench around him, pull him toward cresting pleasure. But Orlando had been frozen by tension and fear, and it'd been momentarily awkward when Elijah tried to relax him but failed. But it'd been easy to turn the tables, affection soothing any stumbles, and he'd let Orlando into more than his body that night.
He catches a glimpse of who they're all waiting to see, still not his Orlando but enough to finally clear his mind, a warm glowing light through the gloom. And with growing surety, Elijah knows it will work out, his faith starts to be restored. Private looks across sound stages, reassuring hands just when uncertainty threatens, 3 a.m. calls for no other purpose than to hear the other's voice: the sum total the touchstone for what makes Elijah happy, the only standard he needs to measure their love.
Elijah watches the fans fill the street, blocking traffic, jockeying for cherished fragments of memory. He marvels at all Orlando is willing to give, but knows the distance between Orli and his fans is far greater than any distance he and Elijah may experience at times. He'll go to the bar and they'll begin again, just as they always have, as they always will. Regardless of how large the gulf between them seems, he knows it can be lessened, narrowed if they work on it together. Then they'll go to the house, continue rebuilding what's been chipped and buffeted. Because in the end he does believe, is certain they're both committed to their greater whole, determined to come together regardless of time and distance. This underlying trust strips the "name in lights" from the marquee, erases the trappings of fame. Elijah leaves the chaos, slips down the street and into the light.