the agony and the irony, they're killing me (sophrosyne31) wrote in lotripping,
the agony and the irony, they're killing me
sophrosyne31
lotripping

Incunabula, Billy/Elijah

Title: Incunabula
Author: sophrosyne31
Pairing: Billy/Elijah
Rating: R

A/N: Incunabula are early bound books, from the era prior to printing. The word comes from the Latin for 'swaddling'. They are rare and precious.




He wakes up, fingered by sleep. The morning light is as viscous as gin.

Thin, oily, syrupy, tactile. His skin’s scurfed, settled heavily on his body; heavy cover. The bed full of scents and skin. Through the clots of his eyelashes he checks to make sure Elijah is still there. He can see a shoulder, moving gently with breath; the side of a pale neck; a hump of dark head turned away. Light hanging over everything, greasy, intolerable. A headache stabs up the back of his skull.

It’s terribly hot.

Billy’s limbs are thick with sleep. The hairs on his body are flat and sweat-grimed; he rubs a heavy hand across his face. The sheets straggle around him and Elijah, warm with their heat. Billy slides his hand under the sheet, flicks it off him; lies there breathing a bit harder in relief.

He puts his palm on his cock and rubs it against his morning erection. He’s not thinking of anything.

The flesh under his palm is even hotter than the rest of him, but it’s good hot, promising hot. He wraps his fingers around it and starts to tug slowly. Beside him Elijah sleeps on, swaddled in white sheet, far away. Billy pulls sensation from his flesh, his legs still asleep, his belly tense. Pull, and pull, and there're thoughts of dragging through flesh, thoughts wide and red in his mind; of Elijah's shoulders hard under his hands and a mouth wiped clean of smiles by shocking pleasure. He holds his breath and red flows up slowly through his muscles and into his throat. Pools there with his breath.

Billy comes, tensely, trying not to shake the bed. Elijah stirs anyway, rummaging around to reach for him, and before he settles Billy finds he’s thinking the word alone, a big white square.

::

Dom’s been quieter since Billy and Elijah got together. He’s almost kind of nervous. When Billy throws his arm around him, Dom’s eyes flick to Elijah, to check it’s ok. Dom doesn’t like dramas. He doesn’t want to get in the way. But Elijah keeps on smiling, even when Billy pokes Dom in the arse and giggles and smacks him a kiss on the cheek. Elijah smiles on, happy and bright and ready to be the good kid, mushing his lips up against Dom’s cheek in turn to show that it’s ok, they’re all mates really, it’s not like anything’s changed.

When he kisses Billy against the trailer door later, his mouth is full of goodwill, salty. He clenches Billy’s arms, and then backs away, smiling at him.

Dom and Orlando and Sean keep up a flicker around the couple. It’s all happy ragging, abuse and care and lots of physical touch to divert energy from what crackles between the two. Lightning rods easing the tension, all of them just a little scorched, earthing each other. Orlando flings himself everywhere to catch sparks, glimmering and fluorescent in the shower of electricity. He loves it, loves the sizzle, loves the attention and the joy of the lot of them together, this weird confluence of energies. He soaks it up, floods it out again in sharp flecks, green and blue. Sean, he’s quieter, he’s definitely the earth. He just sits there, watching carefully, making jokes, keeping it all flowing. He’s always been a bit startled by Billy; his solid humour is sluggish next to Billy’s briskness. Now he just doesn’t say much at all, but absorbs, densely, a broad smile shallow on his lips.

Tonight it’s a Thursday and they’re drinking at Orlando’s. All tired, all dulled with fatigue from the week’s shooting, all a bit fuggy with alcohol and fatigue and the heat that still clogs the evening. Viggo’s there, idly scratching patterns into the velour of his armchair; Karl, too, with his eyes closed, running a finger around the neck of his beer bottle and back the other way. The music’s stopped and for a moment everyone is silent, shallowly breathing the warm air.

Orlando stomps in wearily from the kitchen, his fingers dangling bottles like Edward Scissorhands claws. He chucks one at Dom, another at Sean, looks at Billy and Elijah sitting on the couch together.

“You bleeders can share,” he says, tossing it over. Billy catches it; Elijah’s nearly asleep, slumped against his shoulder.

“Hey, we don’t share an esophagus,” Billy protests. “There’s two stomachs here to fill.”

“You can regurgitate it into Elijah’s mouth later,” says Dom, and Billy just looks at him. Dom stares back, with a little smile and something else.

The room is lit from an overhead light, blank and yellow, highlighting the shadows under all their eyes, making them all parchment-coloured. It’s an unkind light, and Billy closes his eyes against it, feeling them roll back instantly, seeing in his skull white space flash black, scribbled and crazed with lines, like some message from an arcane language, transmitting to him. He opens his eyes, dizzy, and Elijah snaps up suddenly, his skin damp and unwary, abruptly awake. Before he’s even focussed his eyes he’s smiling at Billy.

"Sorry. Tired," he says, hoisting himself up to sitting and taking a pull from Billy's bottle. There’s cool air now on Billy’s neck where Elijah’s moist brow was pressed.

“Shall we go home?” Billy asks. Elijah nods. A tiny wash of feeling comes to him from around the room as everyone sighs.

“It’s early, man!” Orlando says. Dom raises his bottle in a toast, closes his eyes to swallow, scratches his arm, smiles at the carpet.

Viggo smiles at Billy, and says, “The poet is working. That’s what a great writer used to stick on his door when he was sleeping. The poet is working.”

"Sounds like too much hard work when you're trying to sleep," Billy says, getting up. "I work all bloody day as it is."

Viggo waves his beer in the air. "Depends. Sometimes writing isn't work."

Elijah's putting on his shoes. Billy waits beside him. "Depends if you've got something to say."

"I say you're both bloody pikers," drawls Orlando. Billy cuffs the back of his head and follows Elijah out the door.

::

Sometimes it seems to Billy that he knows Elijah less now they're together. He knew the surface pretty well before; the fine velvet gleam of him, the dense base of his maturity beneath, and the soft tufts of wit. He knew it, and liked it, and enjoyed smoothing himself over the soft friction of Elijah's personality. Now sometimes he thinks all he sees is the grain; too close, too soft. Elijah’s turning into skin and heat up against Billy’s flesh. Surface again.

Getting together had been sudden, surprising: there had been a few days of Elijah's eyes being darker when Billy caught his gaze; of an Elijah becoming strangely hesitant when Dom was clinging to Billy's shoulders; a night when it was raining, swollen summer rain and Billy had realised the scent of Elijah in his car was making him happy and, drunken, he'd leaned in to sniff it more closely. Elijah had sat very still as Billy's face lurched close, caught unawares, and had simply put his mouth up as if to kiss, his eyes shut, and Billy had kissed him before he'd thought about it, and kept on kissing till they gasped. Afterwards, Elijah said that he hadn't meant to, it was a reflex, that offering of his mouth. And Billy had said nothing about Elijah's hands coming up at the same time to grip him by the shoulders.

He knows, though, that Elijah is infatuated with him. It’s usually Elijah who stays at his place, who turns up unexpectedly after all on a night they were meant to be apart: apologising, pleased when Billy says "I'm glad you're here," wrapping himself around Billy in the hot night to sleep, always going to sleep with his face turned towards Billy. "I'm not too much am I?" Elijah asked once, hugging him, and Billy said "No, there's not ever too much of you," holding him back. Elijah beautiful in his arms, Billy feeling tired.

Sometimes he wonders why he's scared of Elijah. Not scared exactly, no, not him; but wary, puzzled, dislocated at times. Who is this young man, with the shoes he bought before Billy knew him, the names he drops that Billy doesn't know, the accent that reminds Billy of the time he went to the States and couldn't stay, with the way he puts sugar on his cereal and laughs at things Billy finds dull. A strange, wonderful young man. Billy's never thought of himself as one who's threatened by other people. He loves Elijah. He’s enchanted that this lovely, real bright gleam of a man is his. But it’s a big responsibility, having Elijah. Earning him, deserving him, keeping something working with him. It’s daunting. And being with Elijah makes him have to think about himself and that’s not comfortable, not this way, not next to him. Everything gets a strange angle to it.

Billy Boyd, a solid, peaceable type, small mouth, large biceps, hairy chest. A good jobbing actor. An ingenuous hobbit. A smart man; he knows he's smart, but that's just hilarious to him. A funny man. Someone who brightens a room with his ease and smiles and good sense and the ability to make almost everything sharp and funny and bright. A good man.

A man with a tongue that's a bit too sharp sometimes, whose arms can tighten an embrace into discomfort, who likes to put his foot down on the accelerator and jam it for a couple of seconds of frilly fear, rushing whining into the space ahead of him. Whose head these days is full of blocks of colour, synaesthetic, greasy and shrill, jumbling around like boxes, nudging unease around his mind. Billy learned a long time ago to be careful of himself.

He likes to track things; he's methodical. Lately he's observed new behaviours. He starts writing things in a notebook. Adjectives; shapes; dark squiggles of heavy biro ink; the words that come and go in his head. Luscious. Discontent. Somnambulist. Departure. He’s not sure where they come from.

Maybe he’s getting them from Viggo, that freak.

::

Again, he wakes with the sheets smothering him. Sheets as clinging as the dark of the room firm up against his open eyes. He gasps.

Elijah's arm is wrapped around him, tight, and his hand is pressing into Billy's chest and he's whispering something in an urgent tone. Billy shuts his eyes and opens them again and there's a faint veil of light now on the wall ahead of him.

"I know it's fucking weird, but we have to get out," Elijah whispers. His belly is hot and soft against Billy's buttocks. "We have to get out of here, I just know it, something's going to happen. Please, man. You can laugh at me in the morning, we just—"

Elijah makes Billy heave up to sit. "I just woke up thinking of earthquakes. I've got the weirdest feeling. I'm thinking earthquakes, earthquakes, they happen here sometimes, and you know how sometimes dogs can tell—"

They pull on boxers and pad out through the dark hall to the outside. The sky is violet and smudged above them. There's the sound of a car smooth in the distance. Billy stretches in the soft cool air. He looks at Elijah, his anxious face.

"Were you working hard?" Elijah asks, hugging him.

"I was asleep, you idiot," Billy kisses the side of his head.

"What Viggo said. Were you dreaming?"

"Were you? Elijah. Dreaming?"

Elijah doesn't reply. He just hugs Billy harder, then relaxes as the night swells and eases around them. A dog trots past in the dark street. The trees churn a bit in the breeze. Nothing happens, and they go back to bed, skin cooled by the air, and fuck silently, sleepily, gently, hardly shaking the bed.

::

Dom and Orlando in make-up and t-shirts, are having a conversation at lunch hour. 'If you were a cheese, what type would you be?'. Dom's claiming himself to be the finest stilton. "Rich, exclusive, creamy, just a little tart on the tongue, you know, luscious to those with discernment."

"Just a little tart," repeats Orlando.

Dom grins. "Too much for some," he says.

"I'd be… lessee. I'd be a nice gouda, all firm and chewy, not too fancy, yeah? Maybe spiced gouda, you know. Few holes, a bit crunchy; nice, man."

"You are so modest, Orli." Dom gets up.

Billy says to him, "I'd spread you on my biscuit any time," and Dom makes biting actions and licks his lips and walks off. It's nearly time for the afternoon shoot and he's got to get his wig fixed.

"How's it?" asks Orlando. He clasps his big hands behind his blond bandana-ed head and then wipes sweat from his face. Browner skin shows through the pale make-up.

"It is, my friend, it is," says Billy, feeling tired, and then Elijah comes up, and Orlando grins with all his teeth and makes smacky kiss noises and shoves up from his seat. Now Elijah plomps down beside Billy and pulls his t-shirt collar away from his neck. It's damp with sweat. Thank Christ they can change out of costume for lunch when the weather's like this.

"Hot, fucking hot," he says.

"Yes. Hot as Lucifer's balls," says Billy, putting his face near Elijah's damp Frodo mask. Elijah smells of cosmetics and heat and sweat, like a girl's bathroom. Billy shoves Pippin's hair off his face.

"I said, fucking hot, as in, hot for fucking." Elijah breathes hotly on Billy's neck and darts in to kiss it. "Twenty minutes before we're on again, you wanna—?" He jerks his head towards the trailer.

Billy stretches exaggeratedly and then biffs foreheads gently. "I must warn you, I'm rancid," he says. "Hot and hot and hot." The day dazzles him as he stands.

"We'll see how hot you are," says Elijah. He takes Billy’s hand.

Inside the trailer it's even warmer, still dank air gritty with heat. It's dim, messy, absent of anyone. Elijah's got his wide square grin on as Billy closes the aluminium door behind them. His hands are inside Billy's shorts pockets in a second and he digs them down to rub clumsily at Billy's balls inside. His face is right up against Billy's, with its big smile and big eyes, hands grappling for hold on Billy's cock through the thin pocket lining. Billy's vision goes black, sparked with flares at the edges. There's no air in here.

Elijah's mouth takes his, smothers it with a wet tongue, big wet lips, shoving in eagerly. Billy's slack with dizziness and he can't stop Elijah. He totters forward briefly, grabs Elijah's shoulders. Bone hard under his hands. Scrawls of white against black in front of his open eyes, indecipherable, violent in his skull.

Elijah runs his hands, free again, up Billy's thighs and shoves fingers under the hem of his shorts. Billy's cock is half-hard, rich with sweat, pooling heat. Elijah makes a little sound, ah, as he grasps it and twists his wrist to get a better grip. The blackness clears and Billy pushes his hips into Elijah's pressure, his head going back. He grinds, and Elijah squirms up against him, his own erection solid at Billy's hip. They crane back their heads and then come forward to kiss. Elijah's mouth is sharper now, biting a little with teeth and lips. He sucks Billy's tongue and groans, a muffled sound. Blood runs thin from Billy's head to his cock, dissolving bone along the way. His heart nags, bangs, Elijah’s skin scorches. Everything trembles. The world goes gossamer.

"I think I'm going to pass out," mutters Billy. "You're so hot, it's all melting—"

Elijah's face recedes, flaring white around the edges, just pale in the middle where his mouth is saying "Are you ok man? Are you—"

::

Viggo gives him a jar of ointment when they finish for the day. He comes up to Billy in the carpark, sunshine just now gentling on the shiny cars. "I heard you're getting frail and old," he says. "It's good. Rub it on your temples if you feel faint. It's Chinese. Menthol and dragon's blood or something." He massages Billy's neck with one big idle hand.

"Do you ever get that, Vig, that sense that reality's just—cascading on you, like—some fecking waterfall, just crashing down—like a reality smash?" Billy stands up, maybe away from Viggo's stroking hand, maybe so Viggo can reach better, he doesn't know. He doesn't know what he's after, these days. He's still a bit dazzled from almost fainting before, and then resting in the medical tent, and then putting Pippin back on along with a horrendous headache. He's still a bit trembly. Viggo caresses. Billy thinks suddenly he might cry.

"Every day, my friend, every day," Viggo says calmly, and goes on rubbing. 'I recommend whiskey and art. Write it down, write it all down."

Billy can't think of anything but going home and sousing himself in a shower. He unsticks his sweaty neck from Viggo's dry hand and smiles with the small corners of his mouth and slouches off to his car.

At the exit to the carpark area he sees Dom. Lounging against a fence-post, waving jauntily. He stops and opens the passenger door. Just the effort of leaning over makes his eyes go funny again. He sits and breathes carefully as Dom gets in.

"Wotcha," Dom says. "How're you traveling there buddy?"

"Sad and old, mate, sad and old," Billy says. He drives down the country road towards Wellington, trees flitting past them, sunshine and shade making flashes through the windscreen and in his eyes.

"You freaked our little man out," remarks Dom, digging in a pocket. He pulls out a couple of toffees and hands one to Billy, still wrapped.

"Do me a favour?" Billy says, handing it back. Dom unwraps it and thumbs it into Billy's mouth.

"He's not the one who's sad and old." Billy squints against the daze of sunlight streaking the windscreen. Takes a turn onto the freeway.

"He's young and frisky, he is, to be sure," says Dom, chewing.

"He's—" Billy stops. Dom doesn't want to talk about Elijah, at least not about Elijah and Billy. The sweat's sticking Billy’s legs to the vinyl seat and he shifts them gingerly. He feels wrecked.

"He's keen on you alright, man."

"As he should be," says Billy tiredly. He's too tired to do anything but banter. Banter is easy. Talking is work. The poet is working, he thinks, stupidly.

::

Words keep appearing in his head. Like aural hallucinations, but coagulating out of the flecked summer light, the shadow of the wire mesh door at home, the steam of the boiling kettle. Shapes, not sounds. Discombobulate. Bureau. Violet. Romance. Billy's curious about the staccato transmissions inside his head. Fragments, or interference, he can't tell. He's always been a bit startled by his own imagination. The tangential phrases that come to him in conversation, always perfect for wittiness, always a bit surprising in their clever lateral aptness. He's a smart man with the words alright. He always got A’s for English at school.

His little notebook (kept secret from Viggo, as that would be giving him too much credit and Billy's obscurely bashful about this new habit) is kept in his pocket. His handwriting is growing larger, he notices, now filling a small page with only a couple of words or images, scrawled in hastily. He holds his words in his head, sometimes when he's with the other hobbits, like pennies in his mouth, turning them over from time to time to remember their contours. Isolate. Depression.

And he keeps getting flashes in his vision. The set doctor has tested him and noted slightly low blood pressure. "I'd say it's just the heat, eh," she said, and told him to drink lots of water. Quite often when he stands up he's dizzy for a moment, everything going frayed black, and he sees the squiggles. If he closes his eyes, they drift, slow as ice melting, voluptuously crimson and white against black, and he goes with them, never quite falling, drifting… until he opens his eyes and black shutters through scarlet to the pale colours of normality. Usually his first glance is to Elijah, and Elijah will be watching him. Elijah's only colour then is the blue of his eyes, before, a second later, his smile blooms pink on his lips.

Words come more luminously when he's in bed with Elijah. The two of them grasp and stroke and rock, plunge and rise together, hands grope for each other and grip; the edges of the room fade out and Billy closes his eyes, presses them against Elijah's cool neck. In his mind's eye words come swimming up out of softness to dance lightly, hauntingly.

::

Sean comes up to him after Feet and lays a solid hand on Billy’s shoulder. He looks right at Billy, his head a little down, avuncular and ready to councel. His breath is sour still with coffee and the early hour. His eyes are very soft, like a baby’s.

Billy just looks at him, exhausted. “I’m alright,” he says, and cranks up his best rueful Pippin smile. He squirms gently out from under the heavy hand and walks off as if he has somewhere important to be.

::

Dom says, "So, William, you and Elijah."

"Me and Elijah went over hill and dale and got to the shop for lollipops and you know what? It was closed," says Billy, sing-song.

"And you both looked very pretty, I'm sure," remarks Dom. "But then you went home and something wasn't right, was it?"

Billy takes another slug from his bottle of lemonade. They're sitting under a tree in a park; shooting's wrapped early for them today, and they're out in the heat, under dry trees, on dry grass. Flick, flick, flick, goes the shade over them. Billy puts his bottle down.

"You just don't look like a happy camper, my friend," Dom goes on. "You should be glowing like a bride."

"I am glowing," says Billy. "I'm glowing with bloody sweat.” He picks up the bottle again. "OK. I'm all skew-whiff, I'm a bit muddled. I keep thinking of words and I don't know what they mean."

"Words?"

"Words in my head," mumbles Billy. He traces one on his thigh. Separation. He likes the clear syllables of this one. Dom watches, his mouth smooshed up thoughtfully. He rubs at Billy's other thigh with a slender, soothing, clumsy hand.

"I don't like this!" Billy says suddenly. "I don't like this—oozy feeling, like something terrible's going to happen. It's so fucking hot all the time and I keep seeing things funny and Elijah's, Elijah's just there, I don't even really know him but he's so—he makes me feel good, but it's like I'm dizzy—"

"Uh-huh," says Dom, still smoothing roughly at Billy's leg.

"I think I need a hermit's cave," says Billy.

"You can wait for the end of the world there," says Dom.

::

The night is all swollen with air and heat. It's been a long time since the last rain, and Billy swears the house has buckled under the strain of day after day of scorching. Everything seems a little warped in the hot night; he can't settle, and keeps going from the outside porch to the inside of the house and back again. He drinks beer on the porch in his shorts, swatting at mosquitoes, feeling small under the yellow porch-light; then he wanders out into the grainy darkness of the street and lies on the warm asphalt of the road. There's no traffic down this way; above him the trees sough like water. The streetlight is fretted with swirling insects. Overhead, the sky goes lighter with soft clouds over clean stars; Billy feels like he's could vapourise up to the sky.

There are soft little scuffy noises coming towards him. Elijah appears, walking up the road. He lies down next to Billy, takes his hand.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"Waiting for a ten-tonne truck?" Elijah squeezes Billy's hand and smiles aside at him.

"Just waiting," Billy says.

"Me too," says Elijah softly. They lie there and watch the clouds smooth over them, smudging into an eiderdown of pale mauve.

"What are you waiting for?" Billy asks.

"You."

"Ah."

Elijah twists and wraps himself around Billy. "I'm waiting for you to tell me—whatever's going on."

Billy kisses the top of Elijah's head.

"I—I don’t want to make you unhappy," Elijah continues, his voice very quiet. "I don't want you to have to look at me that way—you do. I can do it, I can—I can keep going, but—"

Billy's eyes are hurting with the burn of ready tears if he keeps them open, so he closes them.

"Elijah. Elijah… I just don't—I don't know what's wrong with me. You make me so bloody happy sometimes. And then all this shite comes down, all over me, it's not normal—I'm not like that, I'm… you're beautiful, you're what I want, but—I can't—I just can’t—"

"Ok." Elijah disengages, sits up. Billy stays on the ground. Elijah stares at the trees.

"Let's go in, yeah?" Elijah gets up, holds out his hand. Billy takes it, and they walk back into the swollen house.

::

Inside, it's humming with heat. The air conditioner, almost exhausted, whirrs and flicks in the lounge. They walk through and into the bedroom. It's nearly midnight; Billy suddenly feels very tired. Elijah strips and lies on the bed, his pale body blanched with heat, gleaming gently along the side of each limb in the light of the bedside lamp. He has his eyes closed, too tightly for relaxation. Billy stands there and takes his clothes off, watching Elijah, his belly tight with sadness.

Billy sits beside Elijah and runs his hand lightly over thigh, belly, chest. Up the side of Elijah's moist throat. He takes Elijah's jaw in his hand and bends to kiss him. On the lips, gently. His hand floats down, cups Elijah's tender penis, its substance and delicacy and heat. It’s perfection in his palm.

He kisses Elijah again, and this time Elijah's lips open, and there's wetness there, cool and warm, silver on Billy's tongue. They nuzzle closer, the cock in Billy's hand stiffening, so hot. When he pulls back Billy sees a thin shining line of tears seeping from the corners of Elijah's closed eyes towards his hairline.

Billy hasn't any words right now.

His hands murmur on Elijah's body, though, and with tenderness that breaks his own heart he caresses, teases, mumbles his fingers all over Elijah; he uses his lips, his cheeks, his skin to cherish Elijah, to console him, to console himself. The skin under his fingers is slippery with sweat, salty beneath his tongue, delicate to his nerves. He takes Elijah's cock in his mouth and the taste of it brings tears to his own eyes.

Above him, Elijah stretches abruptly, and turns the lamp off.

The room is charcoal and pewter now, only the slant of light from a streetlamp glazing the window and the sides of their bodies on the bed. Elijah's face is in the dark. Billy goes on lapping at the firm flesh before him, teasing it slowly, massaging Elijah's balls where they lie slack between his thighs. In the heat they're deliciously cool in his palm. Elijah makes small sounds, just lying there, quite still. His hands rest on his chest; then he puts them in Billy's hair, softly.

Billy works away, steadily, willing pleasure into Elijah, willing comfort, and tenderness, love. Willing Elijah to understand. His tongue has never been so deft, his hands more sure on this sweet flesh.

Everything tastes of salt; wet, dark, exquisite.

And when Elijah comes, breaking under the insistence of Billy's mouth, his cock jerking against Billy's lips, he makes little high crooning noises, his hands becoming fists against each side of Billy's neck. He sounds as if he's crying, gasps becoming a single harsh sob.

Billy just stays there, Elijah's cock softening against his cheek, Elijah's breathing steadying, Elijah's misery keeping them both awake. Billy crouches over him, all his muscles tight. He’s numb now, listening to the wind come up outside.

::

When he slumps to sleep, laid out next to Elijah (their tired skins separated by a careful simmering inch of space), Billy dreams, dreams.

He dreams of waking, abruptly, swaddled in sheets, huge white sheets that will not release him no matter how he kicks. They're tangled too tightly all around and he thinks he's going to suffocate. In his ears is the noise of panic, booming, violent.

Then he sees himself from outside, and he's no longer wrapped up tight but the sheets are spread smoothly over him, wide as wide, he can't see how wide; and all over them is writing in Elijah's hand. It says, into Billy's mind, Sorry. Over and over again, Sorry. Sorry. The word sings in Billy’s skull and it hurts.

::

The morning is heavy and grey, seething softly with the noise of rain outside on the trees. The windows are still open when Billy wakes, his skin relishing the cool moist air. Nitrogen's green has left the air. All the light is grained coarsely, almost purple in the shadows; there's been a storm. He luxuriates in the pleasure of his skin. Everything's loosened.

Elijah's gone.

Billy lies there, dazed. It's Sunday, he doesn't have to get up at all. He thinks he won't, he might stay here a while. It seems that if he stays very still, he can keep something balanced, some liquid cupped in his skull, precarious. He must simply stay in this careful peace. The room is shadowed with weather. He listens to the rain, how silent it is in its noise, how quiet his heart.

He rolls over into the space where Elijah was, the wrinkle in the sheets, and suddenly he hurts all over.

He remembers what Viggo said. The poet is working. He doesn’t want to know what poetry is, if it feels like this. As if his skin’s scraped on the inside, and his heart, his heart.

Billy inhales the faint scent of Elijah from the sheets and now it doesn't make him happy anymore. It makes his lungs burn with sadness. He thinks it's he who's sorry. He thinks he'll be sorry when he sees Elijah, and sorry when Dom looks at him, and sorry when he has to do anything at all ever again. He just lies there, waiting for the rain to stop before he gets out of bed. It rains all day.

Everything hurts. His mind goes as quiet as a blank piece of paper, and that feels better.
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