sheldrake (sheldrake) wrote in lotripping,

FIC: Lodestone (DM/OB) PG-13

Title: Lodestone
Author: sheldrake
Pairing: Dominic Monaghan/Orlando Bloom
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Everything about Orlando, thinks Dom, is impossible and unfair.
Disclaimer: This story is entirely fictional, written for fun, not for profit. No disrespect is intended.


Mr Jones was polishing his skull when the two boys came in.

The skull was old and brittle and yellow, with a tracery of fine little lines on the surface, like an ancient oil painting. Mr Jones smiled to himself as he thought the words, This is my skull. Because of course it was his skull. He owned it. But he owned another skull, too, and this was the thing that made the shape of his head and enclosed his brain. This was a hard dome under his scalp, stretching the skin tight, dry and spotted as old parchment. Mr Jones liked to think about these two skulls, about the differences and similarities between them. For instance, the skull he held in his hand was quite light, while the one inside him felt somehow much more weighty and solid, although both skulls were of a similar size. It was hard to believe, thought Mr Jones, that the two objects were the same. He rapped on his skull gently with his knuckles, and then he tapped his other skull. They sounded different. The one in his head was muffled, like the clapper of a bell with cloth wrapped round it. It sounded like something stuffed obscenely full of matter. But the skull in his hand was unmistakably hollow. Empty now. Past its sell-by date. It was pretty, though, like a shell one might find lying on the beach, and pick up, and string on a necklace for luck.

Mr Jones polished his skull every morning. He used beeswax from a little red tin with white writing on it, and a soft yellow duster.

The two boys filled Mr Jones’s shop with all the brightness and colour of the day. Of the modern day, perhaps. Mr Jones felt that they were very modern boys, up to speed and up to date. All the latest fashions and styles. What is in and what is out. Top of the charts. Top of the pops. Mr Jones watched them from behind a pile of old magazines on the counter, and he gently rubbed the warm, smooth surface of his skull, and as he watched, his mouth filled slowly with saliva. The boys moved along his shelves like quick small animals with fast heartbeats, jittery and lithe. They were looking at the things he kept on the shelves, briefly touching, suddenly laughing. Mr Jones, curious, cocked his head sideways and felt the segments of his spine creak all the way down. Too quick, too easy, too bright, these boys. In the calm and dust-moted silence of his shop, they were terrible and strange. Mr Jones was frightened. He swallowed, and now his mouth was dry as the ashes of his forefathers.

"Oh, hey, cool!" That was the pretty one in the hat, the one with eyes like smudges of syrup and a loose and easy mouth. He was holding something up above his head. A funnelweb spider, whole and perfect from the eight bristled legs to the pair of spinnerets protruding from the abdomen, preserved inside a clear Perspex ball. Mr Jones tapped his fingers anxiously on the skull as he watched. He wished the boy would put the spider down again, gently and safely, where it belonged. "Do you think it's real?" asked the boy, turning, but his companion was not beside him.

Different, this one. Not much different, but a little. It was hard for Mr Jones to see through the haze of youth and modernity that surrounded the boys. It was hard for him to reach out across the vast chasm of years and grasp little things like differences. Mr Jones was older than people sometimes thought.

But this one. Different. Not pretty, in the way that the other one was pretty. But brighter, more restless. Mr Jones wanted to avert his eyes, to shade them and rest them in gentle gloom. This boy burned with a low fizzing flame and his easiness was something he'd learned.

The boy nodded to Mr Jones. He said "All right?" and Mr Jones looked away, down at his skull. He rubbed at it. When he looked back, the boy was sorting through the tray of stones and beads that sat on the counter. He picked them up, one by one, and held them to the light.

"Nice," he said.

"I must tell you," ventured Mr Jones, "that they do not really work. Not as such."

The boy blinked at him and smiled. Mr Jones wondered whether he'd understood. It was so difficult, sometimes, remembering how to communicate. The boy said, "Are you English? You sound English. We're from England. Have you been in New Zealand long?"

"Long," said Mr Jones. "Yes, long." A memory came to him, bright and sudden as electricity. The green waves, startling. Salt in his hair and on his skin. The nausea, the uprootedness. The sight of his own vomit floating on the water, disappearing, left behind.

"These," he said again, gesturing at the beads and the stones. "They do not really work."

"Oh, I like this. This is great." The boy was holding it up so that Mr Jones could see. A flat, faintly rose-coloured stone with darker threads running through it. In the centre, something curled, ridged. A dry, white something, sleeping. Something older even than Mr Jones.

"This one..." He took the stone from the boy. Someone had drilled a hole near the edge, so that it could be slipped onto a string or a chain. It was warmish and smooth under Mr Jones's fingers, and he tried to imagine the feeling of such a thing worn next to the skin, all the time.

"This one," he repeated, "may have something left. It may work. But I do not imagine so. I cannot provide a guarantee, I am afraid."

"A fossil," said the boy, and smiled at Mr Jones. "Hey, Orli! I'm buying a fossil."

"No, no. No need," said Mr Jones. He felt sad, and did not know why. He looked at the two boys, the way their heads bent together as they examined the little stone. Everything was too bright, too quick. Mr Jones wished that things did not pass before him so very fast. Sometimes he found whole worlds had disappeared in the blink of an eye.

"No need for payment," he said, and touched his skull for reassurance. "I very much doubt that it will do you any good."


Years and worlds and continents away, now. Over vast, seething oceans of brine and time -- or at least that's how it might seem to Dom, if he ever thought about it. Everything is suddenly so different and new. To Mr Jones, back in New Zealand, in the dim, brown silence of his shop, things are still very much of a muchness. But Dom never looks back and he never looks down.

Sometimes, in the unfamiliar familiarity of hotel room beds, he wakes up too early, like four a.m. or something. And sometimes he feels feathery pitter-patter spider’s feet walking on his face in the dark. It could be spiders, or it could not. It could be anything. The thought makes him smile, stretching his lips across his teeth in the night, in the dark. He follows the anything with his fingertips.

He still has his little pink fossil. It has a hole in it, so you can wear it like a necklace, but Dom never has. He thinks of it now and again, but there is always something not quite right. It just doesn't seem to go with anything. It feels weird and wrong, looks wrong against his newly Californian skin. So he keeps it in a little box someone gave him once -- this papier mache thing with a faded pattern of flowers on it, lined with green felt. Old and kind of hideous. Victorian, or something. But the stone likes it. Dom can't remember now, when exactly it was he started carrying it around everywhere, like some kind of weird security blanket. He doesn't often look at the stone, or touch it. He just likes to know it's there.


So Dom and Orlando are doing lunch in Soho, and Dom's talking to Elijah, who's in New York, at the end of a phone. London feels hard and dirty. It smells like licking a battery. Dom is not at home here, and never has been. That's okay, though. Dom is not really at home anywhere.

"Oh, my arse! My arse, Dom!" Elijah says ‘arse’ like he's English. Like he's English like Dom.

Dom laughs through his Diet Coke, and says, "Say it again, Orlando’s here. Wait, here," and he passes the cellphone (mobile, whatever -- what country is he in now?) over the table.

"Elijah’s saying ‘arse’," he explains. Grabs the phone back again.

"Say ‘arse’ for Orlando."

Orlando holds the phone to his ear, hunches over his lunch, over the rickety aluminium table. Its legs (four of them, spiky, cheap) scrape the pavement. Dom hunches too, they hunch together, holding in laughter, and their hairstyles meet and brush.

Dom hears Elijah saying ‘arse’ again, very faint and tinny, a faint and tinny laughter from the phone. Orlando laughs. He sniggers, Dom supposes; he supposes they are both sniggering, and Elijah is sniggering back. They are friends, he and Orlando and Elijah, because they have private sniggering moments like this at private stupid things, across continents and oceans and time zones like this.

"Why was he saying ‘arse’?" asks Orlando, as Dom clicks his phone shut and shoves it in the pocket of his jeans.

"I told him I was studying geology," says Dom.

Orlando puts his fork down and sniggers round some baby-leaf salad.

"I am!" says Dom.


"It’s true!" Dom leans back in his chair, swings a bit, bounces dangerously because it's fun. "None of you tossers understand my deeply intellectual nature, do you?"

"Arse," says Orlando again, handling his fork elegantly like some kind of precision instrument. He raises his eyes briefly from the plate. "Are you really?"

"No." The awning above their heads flutters back against itself with a slap. Dom smiles out at Soho and Soho smiles back at him.

They're in London. It's a spring afternoon and the sun has just come out.


He doesn't know what kind of fossil it is. He tried looking it up once, on the Internet, but he got bogged down in lists of long Latin names and complicated geological shit. He couldn't find anything that looked very much like his stone. It wasn't long before he gave it up as a bad job and allowed himself to be side-tracked by porn.

Sometimes, when he looks at his fossil, it seems to resemble a worm, ridged and curled into a spiral. Other times it is snail-like, something hiding under a hard and brittle shell. Sometimes, it reminds him of something that might possibly have had legs. And sometimes it looks like none of these, but like something even older, unimaginably old, something too old to have a name. Sometimes, Dom finds that he is afraid to look away from it in case, out of the corner of one eye, he might see it move.


So they're at this thing. It's definitely a thing. Dom can't quite remember what thing, but there are people here, the sort of people who only go to things. The girls are stripy and angular. The music is indifferent. The place resembles a school disco, circa 1987.

"This is the last word in cool then, is it?"

They're up on the balcony, looking down on a heaving, sweating crowd. Orlando is leaning over, his hands gripping the rail, scanning the hairstyles below. He turns at Dom's question, shrugs and grins. "I dunno."

"Who you looking for?"

"Oh," says Orlando, "no one in particular. Just um, some people come here, sometimes. Sadie comes here now and again. Stella."

"Ah," says Dom. "Sadie and Stella, eh? Well. There you go." He realises that he isn't in a very good mood, and he wonders why.

"What's the matter? I thought you loved this shit."

"Yeah. No, sorry, nothing." He drinks his free glass of whatever it is everyone else is paying through the nose for, and grins back at Orlando. "You Londoners, though. What are you like? You're all insane."

Orlando smiles and turns back to his crowd-watching. His body stretches under his shirt as he leans, the shirt itself impossibly white against his tan, his hair impossibly dark. Everything about Orlando, thinks Dom, is impossible and unfair. His mother's voice drifts by on a non-existent breeze: "Life isn't fair, Dom." Life isn't fair. He drinks his drink down all in one go, and stops looking.

They lose each other for a while, drifting separately among the self-consciously bizarre mix of C-listers and students. Dom has quite a lot more free drinks, and a semi-interesting conversation about zombie films with a transvestite, and then he stops to watch some girls with white stilettos and Hoxton haircuts dancing round their handbags.

When he finds Orlando again, he's sitting at a VIP table with some people Dom decides he probably doesn't recognise, either from real life or magazine covers or anywhere else. Some of them smile at him, some of them don't.

"Evening all," he says. "Orli, I'm gonna ... get going if you don't mind."

Orlando looks surprised. He smiles, and the smile seems to shine at Dom out of the darkness. Little disco lights dance on the planes of Orlando's face.

"Well, hang on, I'll..."

"No, don't worry. Just give us a key, yeah? I'll let you in."

"It's fine, it's fine. Just give me a sec, I'll be with you."

Orlando leans over and kisses a pink-miniskirted girl on the cheek. She reaches up to run a hand vaguely through his hair. "Hey," she says. "You can make it for Jake's birthday on Thursday, right? Don't forget, okay? We're fucking counting on you!"

Dom stands back and waits. He watches the disco lights as they play over the people's faces, and their clothes, and over the velvet-cushioned seating, and the walls that are the colour of raw liver. Clubs to him have always felt like being deeply buried somewhere -- a phosphorescent underwater cave, or a womb. Perhaps Dom's searching for some warm and secret place at the centre of the Earth.

He wonders what it is about tonight that’s turned him suddenly into an observer, an onlooker, a passer-by.


"Dunno what you're in such a pissy mood for," says Orlando, twisting the key in the lock, not turning to look at Dom standing behind him in the timer-lit hallway.

"Not in a pissy mood."

"You're in a pissy mood. Pissy."

"Nothing," says Dom. "Jet lag."

Orlando drops his jacket on a chairback, and stands looking round at his flat as though he can't quite place it. He clicks his tongue gently against his teeth. "Cup of tea?" he says.

"Um," says Dom. "No, you're all right. I don't really go too much for tea these days."

"No, well." Orlando puts his hands in his pockets. "I'm off caffeine at the minute, anyway."


Orlando's flat is high-ceilinged, empty. Dom's half-unpacked bags huddle darkly next to the sofa. Skulk, he thought, would be the word. They skulk. Somewhere in that luggage, amidst underwear and travel packs of tissues and odd bits of tat and finery, somewhere in there is a box with a small stone inside. He thinks of it briefly, all alone in the dark.

"Have you got any booze?" says Dom. "I think maybe we should have a drink."


They have a drink, Orlando and Dom, and then they have another. The city glitters outside the window, and Dom is half-lying on the floor with his head on the sofa cushions. They take turns asking, "Do you remember, do you remember?" And as it turns out, the more they drink, the more they remember, and the more they remember, the more they drink.

"Do you remember," says Orlando, "Do you remember that weird shop we went in? And that guy, oh man, he must have been on crack, seriously. God ... and he had all this weird shit, like -- God, like a spider in a glass ball, and there were all these weird things with spines, fuck! I never did work out what they were."

He's plucking at Dom's shirt as he speaks, in a way that Dom thinks ought to be irritating, but somehow isn't. The vodka has settled around him in a friendly alcoholic cloud.

"I don't remember any spines," he says.

"Didn't you buy something there? I can't remember. He liked you didn't he, that guy? He took a shine to you. What did you buy? Have you still got it?"

Orlando sits opposite Dom, elbow resting on the sofa, fingers plucking at Dom's sleeve. He sits opposite Dom and is beautiful. His smile, the dark hair lying on his neck. It makes Dom hurt.

"Yeah," he says. "Still got it."


Thousands of miles away, Mr Jones has woken up in the middle of the afternoon. He is surprised. He is surprised, truth be known, to be surprised. There was a time, long past, when Mr Jones was regularly shocked to find himself awake again, still alive and breathing. But this is a different sort of surprise. He lies on his back, staring up into the darkness of the windowless room. The air, perhaps, will arrange itself into colours and shapes. It will give him an answer.

Mr Jones woke up because somebody looked at him. A boy. A boy looked at him. There were two boys, and they were lying together, naked on the sand. The sun was hot and glaring. There was salt on their skin and in their hair, dark and light. They were touching each other's bodies, stroking and rubbing and licking. Mr Jones watched them and found it hard to breathe. He touched a hand to his throat. He felt that he might die. Then one of the boys turned over and looked up at Mr Jones, a hand shading his face from the bright sun. He looked at Mr Jones's eyes, and Mr Jones looked at the boy's eyes. The boy smiled at Mr Jones. He said, "All right?"

A dream. The air is dim and deceptive. Mr Jones stares at it for a long time, but there are no pieces of his dream left at all.


"Isn't it funny," says Orlando, "the way things turn out?" He's drunk now, even after spilling a nearly full glass of vodka into his tastefully neutral carpet. He curls on his side, long-limbed, ungracefully graceful, and stares dreamily at the mantelpiece. Dom is drunk too. If he wants to look at Orlando properly, he has to cover up one of his eyes with his hand to stop him from wobbling and splitting in two.

"Funny," he says.



"I want," begins Dom. "I want..." The alcohol has dulled him; his tongue trips and stumbles over his teeth. Orlando smiles at him, and even through the haze, his face is fresh and open and bright.


"I dunno." He feels his mouth collapse into a twisty grin, folds his bottom lip into his teeth. He punches Orlando lightly on the shoulder and watches him fall in a tipsy, giggling heap against the sofa. Then he pulls Orlando up again and puts his arms around him and his face in the hollow of Orlando's neck. "What do you want?" he asks, and his lips brush against Orlando's skin as he speaks. Dom's body feels the hunch of Orlando's shrug, but he keeps his face hidden, doesn't look up. He doesn't want to see the brightness in Orlando's face. Sometimes, it feels as though they might be speaking two different versions of the same language.

Dom breathes him in. He wishes there were some way to breathe all of Orlando into himself. He smells of expensive skincare products and sunshine and luck.

They sit there for what seems a long time, on the carpet in Orlando's living room. Outside, the city still twinkles yellow and white, but clouds have blown in to cover the moon. Orlando's breathing deepens and evens out, and his loose grip on Dom loosens still further, his hands slipping slowly down Dom's back. Dom shifts and holds him tighter. He opens his eyes against Orlando's neck, and feels his eyelashes brush and scrape. He puts out his tongue and touches it quickly to Orlando's skin. The skin tastes of skin.

"I love you," he says incoherently, to Orlando's neck. And Orlando sleeps on.


"A fossil," said the boy, and smiled at Mr Jones. "Hey, Orli! I'm buying a fossil."

"No, no. No need," said Mr Jones. He felt sad, and did not know why. He looked at the two boys, the way their heads bent together as they examined the little stone. Everything was too bright, too quick. Mr Jones wished that things did not pass before him so very fast. Sometimes he found whole worlds had disappeared in the blink of an eye.

"No need for payment," he said, and touched his skull for reassurance. "I very much doubt that it will do you any good."

The boy poked tentatively at the stone with a forefinger. His mouth twisted unevenly as he smiled. He looked up.

"But what's it actually meant to do?"

Mr Jones looked at him and felt a tangling confusion. Things had become disconnected, yet again.

"You said," the boy persisted. "You said you couldn't guarantee it would work. But say it does work -- well, what does it do?"

Ah. Mr Jones was delighted. The loose ends had tied themselves, the knots slipped free; the fog in his brain cleared in an instant and the world was bright with sunlight. He understood now, where he had gone wrong.

"Why," he said. "It will bring you what you most desire."

"Oh. Right. Okay."

The boy had eyes like granite. A little. Not very like. More like the scales of living fish, iridescent, deep in a brown and muffled world. Or perhaps, reflected Mr Jones, they were simply like human eyes. His own eyeballs itched a little, and he thought how later he would go and look into a mirror, or a darkened pane of glass, or even the shiny convex surface of the kettle, and examine them.

"Thanks, then," said the boy, and turned towards the door. Before he stepped over the threshold, out into the sunlight, he looked back at Mr Jones, and raised a hand in farewell. "Bye," he said.

The door closed behind him, and the string of beads and shells fixed above it rattled and clicked.

"Goodbye," said Mr Jones to the gently darkening shop. "Goodbye."


High up in the grey air, Dom sleeps, his cheek pressed against the snowy headrest. When he wakes, his right eye will be watering, and he will want to clean his teeth. It is day now. The night (and with it London, and with it Orlando) has fallen away. It has fallen behind. But Dom never looks down and he never looks back.

In his dream there are little one-celled creatures, and they are swallowed up inside the earth, pressed down into the rock, forming layer upon layer, living and dying and disappearing under the great weight of the world. Over and over again it happens. Time slows down, speeds up. Things are shifting and changing. Too fast for the eye to register. So slow, you never even notice.
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