Archive: Rhythm and Hues, lotripping; others please ask.
Disclaimer: A complete work of fiction. No disrespect intended or profit earned.
Notes: Written for Lotripping, the 2004 Lotrips Zine (and I'm resisting the very strong urge to comment, make excuses or offer explanations for this piece; it is what it is). Huge thanks, snogs and gropes to angstslashhope, who conceived the zine idea, beta'ed everything, and made it a reality. Thank you for including me, darling. I'm forever grateful.
New Zealand Sky
It was no use. Sleep was eluding him, and the harder he tried not to think about getting up a second time, the more his fingers itched to hold the clove that he was craving. Stifling a frustrated sigh, he carefully lifted Dom's arm off his hip and swung his legs out from under the sheets, groping in the dark for the cigarettes and lighter on the bedside table.
“'S wrong, Lij?” Dom slurred, reaching a sleep-warmed hand up to Elijah's back and running it soothingly over the knobs of his spine.
“Nothing.” He rounded his back into the caress, allowing the pent-up sigh to escape. “Can't sleep. I was just going to go have a smoke.”
“Okay.” Dom hauled himself up on one elbow and switched on the lamp. “Or... you could stay and talk.” He pulled the covers back and smiled encouragingly.
Hesitating, Elijah eyed the pack in his hand and ran his tongue along his lips, anticipating, longing, and finally resisting the urge. He surrendered the cloves to the nightstand and sank back down on the bed where he lay staring up at the ceiling with his arms folded across his belly.
“The very picture of relaxation,” Dom teased lightly, leaning his head against one hand and taking Elijah's left hand in the other, lacing their fingers together. “What's got you so keyed up? Are you worrying about your trip already?”
“No, it's not that. I don't think. I just feel... restless. Too much caffeine, maybe.”
Dom snorted. “Like that's gonna happen. Is that even possible for an addict like you?”
Attempting an injured expression and failing, Elijah smirked. “Okay, so it's not caffeine. Wise ass.”
Shifting slightly on the bed, Elijah chewed his lip distractedly. “It's really nothing. I'm just having trouble relaxing.” He tugged on Dom's hand. “Lie down and stop worrying about me.”
“Like that's gonna happen,” Dom repeated, smiling lopsidedly. “Come on, then. You know you can't sleep until you tell me. 'Cause I won't let you.”
Elijah shrieked and jerked his knee up as a sharp, prickling line was drawn quickly up the sole of his foot.
“Fuck! Your toes should be registered weapons, you know that?”
“So I've been told. Now, out with it, before I have to resort to real violence.”
Elijah sighed and frowned, his mouth twisting. “God, it just seems so petty. But it's just that... I've barely been home, and I'm already leaving in a few days.”
“Well...” Dom shrugged. “That's hardly anything new. You've been doing that for years.”
“I know, but... I don't...” He made a harsh, annoyed growl. “I'm not even sure what home is, anymore. Not New York. That was just...” he made a dismissive gesture, “...ill-timed. Though I'd like to try it again, someday. And LA... sure, it's familiar, but is it home? I don't feel like I'm anywhere long enough to be 'home' anymore. I feel like. Like I don't belong anywhere. Adrift.”
“Lost?” Dom prompted helpfully and grinned, adding, TV announcer-fashion, “Coming to ABC this fall.”
“Thanks for your sympathy and understanding, man. Your ability to empathize just floors me.”
“Sorry, sorry. Couldn't help myself. I'm listening. Really.” He picked up Elijah's hand and squeezed it before pulling it closer and scrutinizing the back of it. “What's this, then?”
“Hm?” Elijah squinted at his hand and then grinned sheepishly. “Oh. I stabbed myself with a Sharpie, giving an autograph at Amoeba, today.”
“For just a brief moment, I thought maybe you were trying to compete.”
“With you? No fucking way.”
Dom tilted his head appraisingly. “Looks like a one-eyed emoticon.”
Smiling absently, Elijah took his hand back from Dom and rubbed at the ink stain in silence for a moment before giving up. “You've lived in a bunch of different places, Dom. What's home to you?”
“Uh... wherever I lay my hat?”
“And may I just say again how really fucking unhelpful you can be?”
Dom snickered softly. “I'm sorry. I want to help, if I can, but... I don't know.” He frowned. “I guess I really don't think about it that much. Home is... pretty much wherever I am, if I stay long enough. Or maybe, wherever you are, or something.”
Elijah's mouth opened and closed again in quick succession, and he snatched up Dom's hand again, squeezing it tightly in both of his. His eyes slid shut briefly as Dom kissed the side of his head, then returned to Dom's slender fingers, and he lay toying with them, thinking of shooting schedules and airplanes, vast continents and oceans.
After a few minutes, the black marks on his skin distracted him and he swiped his thumb across his tongue and scrubbed it over the ink.
“You might as well give it up, Elijah. That's not going anywhere.”
Elijah stared at it a moment longer. He'd rubbed the skin red, but the ink was barely a shade lighter than before. It was just going to have to wear off in its own good time.
Suddenly, he cocked his head and looked up at Dom expectantly.
“Paint me, Dom.”
“What -- like a portrait? Why?”
“No, not a portrait. I want you to paint on me, on my skin.”
“Um... okay,” Dom responded dubiously. “Why?”
“I want... I need...” He sat up and turned to face Dom's puzzled expression. “Look, this is probably going to sound stupid, but I need some sort of connection, something to anchor me. I'm not ready for another tattoo, but I want... something. Even if it's only temporary. Could you give me something like that?”
Dom pulled at his ear thoughtfully. “Possibly... Yes, I think so. Any requests?”
“Hm. Well, here's the thing, see... I really don't know.” He giggled, perplexed, and pushed his fingers through his hair. “I'm sorry. I know it's fucked up, but...” He finished with a helpless gesture punctuated by a small, frustrated sound.
“It's okay.” Dom smiled and wrapped his fingers around Elijah's thigh reassuringly. “I think I've already got an idea of what to do. I'll need some time to prepare, though.”
“Can you manage it before I leave for Prague?”
“Actually, I was thinking tomorrow afternoon.”
“Really? Oh, that'd be brilliant!” Dom grinned as Elijah fairly bounced in place. “Is there anything you need me to do?”
“Just lie down and go to sleep, Lijah.”
And to the immense surprise of them both, he did.
A loud thud near his ear woke Elijah the next morning, and he cracked an eye open to see Dom leaning down to pick up an errant shoe.
“Sorry. Was going to let you sleep.”
“'S all right. What's up?” He groped for his glasses and rolled onto his back to watch Dom finish getting dressed.
“I have that meeting, remember? And then some business to take care of.” He waggled his eyebrows and grinned. Elijah returned the grin and stretched, arms spread wide, back arched. Dom stopped and stared. “Much more of that and you're going to make me late to my meeting.”
Elijah grinned wider, unrepentant, but waved him toward the door. “No, no... go. I'll be here when you get back.”
“All right. You should shower, yeah? And make sure you use the loofah. All over.”
Elijah's eyes widened. “All over?”
Seeing Elijah's expression, Dom laughed and explained: “Just a precaution, because I haven't sorted all the details, yet.”
“Oh. Okay. Consider it done.”
With a quick and wholly unsatisfying kiss, Dom was out the door.
Countless phone calls, several CDs and a few rounds of PlayStation later, Dom finally arrived home bearing mysterious bags that he whisked off to the bedroom after ordering Elijah to shower again.
“I already showered. Loofah and everything.”
“You need to do it again, and make the water really hot.”
Elijah was too intrigued to argue, and obediently trotted off to the bathroom. He stripped and set the water to just this side of scalding, stepping under it with a hiss of breath.
After the initial shock, it actually started to feel really good, warming his flesh and muscles, and he tried to relax into it, letting the combination of heat and white noise lull him past the slightly giddy anticipation he was feeling for whatever Dom was planning. Just the thought of the preparations in the next room had him half hard, but he pointedly ignored the arousal, looking at the self-denial as part of a sort of cleansing ritual for what he was about to experience. Or something. Plus, it might come in handy later. He smiled to himself, and after a cursory scrub with the loofah sponge, stepped out to find the whole bathroom sweating with condensation.
When he emerged, toweling off and flushed pink from the heat of the shower, there was a sheet he didn't recognize draped over the bed with an array of supplies laid out along one side. He tore his eyes from them as Dom entered the room with his hands full of brushes and tubes, grinning when he spotted Elijah.
“I guess.” Elijah's eyes flicked back to the bed again. “Should I put clothes on?”
“No. Not unless you're cold, that is. I did turn off the A/C.”
“The air actually feels good. So far, anyway. I think I poached myself in there.” He hesitated, watching Dom lay out his tools. “Where should I... what do you want me to do?”
“Just dry off the best you can and come lie down. On your stomach.”
“All right.” Elijah hung the towel on a door hook, removed his glasses, and went to stretch out on the bed, the sheet crisp under him, cool against his skin.
“Now, get comfortable, because this is going to take awhile. No moving without permission first, and no. Fucking. Twitching. Which I suspect is going to be really hard, because I'll bet that some of it is really going to tickle. Questions?”
Elijah thought for a moment, feeling like his brain was packed with questions that refused to become proper sentences, so he just shook his head and pulled a pillow under it, folding his arms beneath. He wriggled about for a moment, getting settled, and then expelled all his breath in one, long exhalation, fully relaxing his whole body and closing his eyes.
“That's good,” Dom's voice purred. “All right, then. Here we go.”
At first it was really difficult, with all the unusual sensations, and Dom, usually so mouthy, was nearly silent in his concentration. Elijah toyed with the idea of making conversation, but there was something oddly soothing in the not-quite quiet, so he just let himself drift. There was a variety of clinking and tapping sounds, and he imagined brushes being manipulated and swirled about in color and water, and the creaking of the mattress under Dom's knees and cool fingertips on his back made him think of Dom with his tongue held just so between his lips, intent on his task.
Which seemed to involve a good deal of tight, precise drawing on his left shoulder blade, at least at first. And after that, he lost the thread of what Dom was doing and dozed off.
He woke with a start to find Dom daubing along his ribs with something cold and wet. “Shhh... it's all right,” Dom soothed. “Go back to sleep.” His back felt damp in some places and tight in others, and Elijah felt his skin pucker into goose bumps as a current of air wafted over him.
“Cold, now,” he mumbled, forgetting to ask permission before turning his head to the other side and shifting a little on the bed. There was a jostling of the mattress as Dom got up, and then a soft warmth as a blanket was pulled over Elijah's legs and draped across his buttocks. “Thanks, Sblom,” he sighed, almost missing Dom's light kiss on his shoulder and whispered, “Don't mention it,” before he drifted back to sleep.
The next time Elijah opened his eyes, there was no light peeking through the blinds, and Dom was stretched out beside him on the bed, eyes closed. Elijah was just deciding that he was asleep when Dom's eyes slowly opened and met his own. “Hey.”
Dom smiled back. “Hiya.”
“It hardly tickled at all.”
“That's because you slept through it, you wanker.” Dom pulled himself upright and yawned, rubbing his palms across his face, a variety of colors still staining his fingers. “Actually, you were remarkably, even uncharacteristically cooperative, so I really should thank you. So, thank you,” he added, with a slight bow.
Smirking, Elijah flipped him off, but otherwise didn't move. “Can I...?”
“Sure, you can get up. It's dry.”
Elijah kicked the blanket off his legs and sat up gingerly, slightly stiff but also not sure how much movement was allowed. His back felt... odd. Tight. It made him want to scratch it, and he was pretty sure that that would be exactly the wrong thing to do. “Wow, it's late,” he said, looking at the alarm clock.
“Well, I was on a roll, and you crashed, so I just worked through dinner. Figured we could order in. Sound okay?”
Elijah nodded and continued to stand, feeling self-conscious. The anticipation was thrumming through him like electricity, now. He shifted from foot to foot, feeling suddenly and strangely shy. “Can I... look at it?”
“Fuck, I figured you'd sprint off to the bathroom the moment you woke up. Come on!” Dom grinned toothily and grabbed Elijah's elbow, steering him toward the bathroom, making sure to grab Elijah's glasses along the way.
Dom flicked the light switch and they stood facing the mirror for the space of a couple of breaths before Elijah slowly turned and peered over his right shoulder. “Oh, whoa. Fuck.” He twisted his body, craning his head around to see as much of his back as he could, taking in the wash of color ranging from deep indigo up near his shoulder blades, tinged purple and then lightening to almost pink in places, and running through a wide palette of blue shades as it descended, before fading out just above where his waistband would sit on his hips. It was beautiful. And intense. “Fuck. Dom...”
He was a bit uncertain. Yes, it was gorgeous, but... what was it? And Dom was just grinning, Cheshire cat fashion, giving away nothing. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore, and simply took the most direct route: “What is it?”
“I call it, 'New Zealand Sky.'” Elijah caught his breath and glanced into the mirror, where Dom's reflection was watching him intently.
“Ohhhh...” he breathed out, his eyes pulled back to the cascade of color. “Yes. God.” His throat felt inexplicably tight as he swallowed. “Dawn? Or dusk?”
“Either. Or both. Perpetually changing and eternally beautiful.”
“Oh, my god. Yes. Thank you, Dom.” He turned and pulled Dom into his arms, wrapping him tightly inside them. “Thank you.” He released Dom and turned back toward the mirror, suddenly eager to see it again. “God... it is home, isn't it?” He glanced over at Dom, who nodded, his eyes shining. “Will it last?”
“Not long, I'm afraid. The blue pigments will stain your skin a bit, but probably only for a couple of days. Showering and sweating will wash most of it off.”
“Shit. What if I promise not to shower or sweat?”
Dom just smiled and continued, “And you'd better wear only dark blue and black shirts for a couple of days. It'll probably be mostly gone by the time you have to leave.” Seeing the disappointed look on Elijah's face, Dom put his hands on Elijah's shoulders and gently turned him so that the other side of his back was reflected in the mirror. With one long finger, he traced a circle on Elijah's left shoulder blade. “Under here, sealed and protected from the watercolor, is a Maori design. It's done in henna, so it will be there when the watercolor washes away, and should last two weeks or better.”
“Ahhh, perfect. Oh, my god. Just perfect.” He squinted at the spot Dom had indicated. “Will you show me what it looks like?”
“Well, it's round, and it looks something like a yin-yang symbol, but other than that, you're just going to have to wait until you can see it for yourself. Give you something to look forward to.”
“Bastard. But, god... thank you.” Noticing a small, separate smudge lower down, just above the curve of his ass, he peered down at it but couldn't make it out. “What's this, Sblom?” he asked, pointing.
“You didn't expect me to create a masterpiece and not sign it, did you?” Dom's eyes crinkled mischievously. “That's henna, too.”
Delighted laughter bubbled up out of him. “Even more perfect.”
He wrapped his arms around Dom's head and shoulders and kissed him soundly, the gratitude quickly giving way to heat as the press of his body against Dom's reminded him that he was naked and Dom was not. There was something so very decadent about that, and every fold and fiber of Dom's clothing ignited nerve endings across Elijah's flesh, crackling downward to his groin as he pressed forward and found Dom hard behind rough denim. He made a hungry sound and bit at Dom's lips before pulling away. “Will we mess it up if we fuck?”
Dom's eyes glittered, dark beneath heavy lids. “Not if you're on top.”
“Oh, yes... please,” Elijah moaned, grabbing Dom's waistband and tugging. He turned and took one last look at his back in the mirror. “Why didn't you put it on my belly, where I could see it better?”
“Because this way, home will follow you wherever you go.” He reached out and brushed two fingers across the deep brown of his name on Elijah's hip. “Just like I will,” he added softly, and, his hand clasped tightly in Elijah's, followed him into bed.