Title: The Chronicles of New Zealand
Rating: NC 17 (for series)
Summary: Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan meet in New Zealand and fall in love during filming "The Lord of the Rings". As their relationship develops the problems and obstacles increase, but of course nothing stands in the way of true love.
Author's note: This work is pure and utter fiction and the product of my vivid imagination. Special thanks to my lovely beta spikessweetgirl.
Word count: 6721
“Hello, this is Wood?”
“Yeah, this is too,” Elijah grinned into the telephone, happy to hear his mother’s voice on the other end of the line. He looked out his living-room window, watching the sunlight slowly fade away. “I know it’s really late in LA. I expected Hannah to pick up.”
“Oh, she’s not here. She went over to a friend’s place. How are you doing? How’s filming going? Still stressful?”
Elijah rubbed his drowsy eyes but kept on smiling. The cheerful familiar voice already took away some of his weariness. “Yeah, still pretty stressful. We’re practically shooting non-stop, seven days a week. It’s like they suddenly realized it’s already December and we have to be finished before Christmas. We couldn’t even celebrate Dom’s birthday properly.”
“Hmm, I see. But it’s only a few more days. Then you can come home and sleep for a month.”
“That sounds like a plan,” Elijah chuckled, still gazing out at the darkening city of Wellington. “Yesterday we filmed the very last scene with all of the four hobbits together. The coronation scene where we bow to Aragorn after he was crowned king. It’s great that Viggo could be on set to help us a little. He put this improvised paper crown on his head since he didn’t have his real crown there and we were standing in front of the blue screen and bowed to him with this silly looking crown.”
“Sometimes you make it sound like you’re doing a comedy movie,” Debbie laughed, making Elijah laugh as well.
“I can imagine. Oh man, all the stories I could tell…but these guys just have an awesome sense of humor. Afterwards Peter and Fran passed out champagne and we filmed another short version for a gag reel where we drink champagne during that scene,” Elijah turned his eyes away from the view outside and lifted himself up onto his windowsill.
“Nice that you still have time to joke around,” his mother said in an amused tone. “Mister Jackson really sounds like a very relaxed man.”
“Oh, he is. It’s amazing. He never freaked out, not once, during the last year. He never got angry. At least he never showed it to us if he was. He must be a hundred times more stressed than we are, but somehow you never notice it. He’s directing like almost ten units at once and scenes from all three movies at once since the time is really running out. He admitted it’s stressful, but he’s got this inner serenity that I’ve never seen in any other director before. Anyway, next week we’re wrapping up principal photography. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end,” Elijah trailed off solemnly. He pulled his legs up against his chest and examined the short nails of his free hand as he leaned against the window. His suddenly slightly gloomy tenor and the meaning of his words of course didn’t go unnoticed on the other end of the phone.
“I know, honey. It must be strange. You’ve never been away from home for such a long period of time before. It’s been your life for more than a year over there.”
Elijah nodded, even though his mother couldn’t see it. Then a small smile returned to his face. “Yeah. I have my own place, get up every morning, go to work, go out with the guys…it’s become a routine. But you know…we’re sure that we’ll remain friends and keep in touch. We’ve gotten so tight. Well…some more than others, but still. I know I’ll stay close to Billy and Orlando and Viggo and hopefully Ian as well. And Sean lives close to LA as well, so that should work out, too.”
Elijah could hear the mixture of confusion and amusement in Debbie’s voice. “Really mom, that should go without saying,” he giggled into the receiver, feeling a faint blush appear on his cheeks. Talking about Dominic with his mother still held an odd undertone to Elijah and he wondered when it would start to feel normal. Almost a year before he had opened up about his relationship and revealed that he had fallen in love with a man, and his family had been nothing short of accepting and supportive. Which was still kind of unbelievable. He knew he was crazy for thinking this, but he couldn’t help it. Maybe he had seen too much shit in the industry, too many tragedies in the private lives of people who weren’t the way society or even their own families wanted them to be; however, Elijah was aware of the fact that he was really Goddamn lucky. In more ways than just one.
“Anyway, there’s something I wanted to tell you,” he went on and stopped inspecting his maltreated fingernails. Instead he moved his hand through his hair and gripped a handful of strands. They still felt silky soft, despite all the chemicals in them. “Hannah is going to me shit for this, but I dyed my hair black.”
The laughter that came through the phone made him grin. “That’s all? When you said you had something to tell me, I thought it would be something more serious. That’s great, I can’t wait to see it.”
“Actually it was Orlando’s idea. First he wanted me to shave my head and get a real mohawk, like he had once, but uhm, no thank you. So we settled for a new color, but I didn’t want anything striking. I know Hannah wanted to dye my hair for years. She’ll be miffed when she finds out that I did it without her,” Elijah chuckled.
“Oh, she’ll survive. Didn’t she want you to go pink?”
“I’m still trying to figure out if she was serious or not,” Elijah bit down on his bottom lip, thinking about what his mother had said earlier. Something more serious? Well, that wasn’t so far from the truth. “But there’s something else I wanted to tell you.”
“Here we go, I knew it. Are you engaged?” Debbie laughed.
There really was no doubt where Hannah had gotten some of her traits from, Elijah thought amused.
“No,” he snorted. “And if Hannah asks, I’m not pregnant either.” He winced a little. Had he really just said that to his mother? Curse you, Dom and Billy, and your damn naughty, mischievous influence.
But Debbie just laughed again. “Okay then, what is it?”
Elijah kept on grasping the handful of hair and looked out the window. He wasn’t nearly as nervous as he had been before his coming out since what he was about to say was a lot less earthshattering and tremendous. Still he didn’t know what his mother’s reaction would be and that always used to make him a little nervous. He decided to go the preparing route.
“I told you about the friendships I made here and the experience with these movies and what it all means to me and to us. We wanted to do something to commemorate it. We wanted to honor this whole experience we had together and the bond between us, you know, us nine members of the Fellowship. I think it was even my idea in the first place, I don’t even remember. But Dom and Orlando kept on promoting it and gathered all kinds of suggestions. Anyway, the idea was for us all to get a tattoo. Something that only the nine of us have. And a tattoo seemed to be just the right thing. And now that we’re about to wrap, the idea came up again. One of the WETA artists created a tattoo, just for us. It’s an Elvish nine. Tomorrow is our only day off and we’re going to a local tattoo parlor.”
Silence. To Elijah it seemed endless, but it only lasted a few seconds. Then he heard his mother exhale audibly.
“You want to get a tattoo?” The skepticism in the tone of voice was loud and clear.
“Just a very small one,” Elijah replied quickly, knowing what it must have sounded like. Most people probably imagined something big and prominent when you mentioned the word tattoo. “It has to be small, so it can be hidden. We don’t wanna draw any unnecessary attention to it. It’s supposed to be just for us. I was thinking about getting mine on the hip maybe.”
“Well,” Debbie said after another brief moment of silence. “I can’t say I’m very excited about the idea of you getting a tattoo, but it’s up to you of course. You’re old enough. And it’s not like you’re getting your whole arm tattooed or something.”
“No, not really,” Elijah chuckled, releasing his hair strands again. “And even if I was, it wouldn’t be a problem for actors nowadays anymore. They have special make-up for that.”
Much to his relief his mother returned his chuckle. “That’s not what I was worried about. I guess I just don’t like the image of my son being heavily tattooed.”
The bizarreness of the talk made Elijah laugh out loud. Shaking his head, he rubbed a hand over his cheek and forehead and had to laugh even more when he heard his mother ask “was it really that funny?” with an amused voice.
“It’s just that you were totally accepting about my coming out, but you’re now all shocked and worried about me getting a tattoo,” Elijah explained, hearing his mother giggle into the receiver.
“I did voice my concerns back then as well, not because I myself had a problem with it, but because Hollywood might have one. This now has me a little worried personally. True, it might sound a bit absurd.”
“Well, I just wanted to call you first before I actually get it. And I can assure you, I’m not planning any more tattoos.”
“Oh, it’s your body after all.”
And Dom’s body, Elijah thought with a smirk. Thank God he hadn’t said it out loud this time. Dominic, of course, had been very excited about the spot Elijah had chosen for his tattoo.
“Thank you, mom. I really gotta go to bed now. Say hi to Hannah from me.”
“And you say hi to Dominic. And good luck tomorrow.”
“I will. Thanks.”
Luck had little to do with why they got the chance to invade “Roger’s Tattoo Art” on Cuba Street on this Sunday morning. The owner, Roger Ingerton, had at first refused to open his parlor on a Sunday just so nine strange men he didn’t know could get nine tattoos at the same time. Viggo had done the phone call and after being turned down, he had gone straight to the parlor the next day, in his full Aragorn costume and with his sword in his hand, and explained to the baffled man that they were making the movie The Lord of the Rings. The appearance - which was something that only Viggo would do and could pull off without making a fool out of himself- had done the trick. Luckily, because otherwise any plans of getting a common tattoo in New Zealand with everyone would have been shattered. It needed to be done when no other customers were around, when no one else could catch a glimpse of their little secret. Except the tattooist who had to be absolutely discreet. After all it was supposed to be a unique tattoo that they didn’t want to be copied by anyone else. Not to mention that Sunday was their only day off.
Although, a tattoo with everyone wasn’t exactly right. Sean Bean had already left New Zealand, but he had assured that he would get his tattoo someplace else. He had had to assure this a few times as the others had thought he would wimp out of the action. John had refused due to personal reasons, but he had sent his scale double Brett instead which was an acceptable move. Ever since the idea had come up, Sean Astin had been anything but excited. There had been times when he had feared that the movies would never be presented to a mass audience. After all nothing like this had ever even been attempted before. The tattoo had seemed like a silly idea. The bond between the actors hadn’t been as strong yet as it was now, plus the image of an almost thirty year old, pretty conservative man like him branding his body struck Sean as majorly odd. Not to mention the dubious message this would send out to his daughter who might ask for something similar once she was a teenager. But now, as principal photography was coming to an end and he had accomplished his role of Samwise with pride, the idea of a tattoo seemed appropriate and honorable. And somewhere in the back of his mind Sean was aware that his behavior had once again been kind of absurd.
Roger Ingerton was a heavily tattooed man in his 50s with a raspy voice and the attitude of a self-proclaimed anarchist. Viggo had experienced that during his first phone call and in a way he had feared the worst, even after the tattoo artist had agreed to open his shop on a Sunday after all. But once they entered the parlor, they got greeted by a resolute, yet friendly Kiwi with an entertaining side. He had studied the painted image of the Elvish tattoo that Viggo had given him, but of course it was no challenge for an old expert like him.
Elijah flopped down in a chair between Viggo and Dominic and glanced aside. He couldn’t help the amused grin as his eyes fell on Sean who was standing a few feet away, his hands shoved deeply into the pockets of his pants. He had brought Christine and Alexandra along for some moral support, but judging by his noticeably anxious behavior and the distrustful frown on his face, his wife and daughter weren’t particularly successful. Elijah knew about Sean’s initial doubts, and he was glad that his friend had managed to push them away. But Sean wouldn’t be Sean if he hadn’t voiced his concerns and uncertainties while everyone else had just been all “let’s fucking go for this!” despite the pain that would await them. Though the only ones who looked completely calm and relaxed were Viggo and Orlando. They already had tattoos, so the prospect of having their skin penetrated by a needle left them completely indifferent.
Slipping on his latex glove and sitting down in his chair, Roger grinned at the small group of visibly nervous but also humorous guys. “So, who would like to go first?”
Orlando put his arm around Sean’s shoulders, smiling at him and his anxiety. “I think he would.”
“Ohh, I don’t know,” Sean cringed but tried to keep a straight face for the sake of his honor. “Why don’t you go first, huh? You’ve done this before.”
“That’s exactly why I won’t go first,” Orlando grinned. “And neither will Vig. We made a vow.”
Without anyone noticing, Billy had already taken off his right shoe and sock and rolled up the leg of his pants. Then he took a seat on the comfortable tattoo chair and flashed a smug smile. “And once again a Scot is braver than everyone else. I’d like to have it on the ankle. You know, to honor our beloved Hobbit feet.”
“That’s my boy!” Dominic clapped and whipped out his camera. “Set a good example.”
“Oh, the ankle is a very good spot,” Sean sat down beside Billy and helped him hold his leg in a suitable position.
Roger took a little piece of paper with a familiar image on it and chuckled. “I understand the meaning of this spot for you, but I have to warn you. There’s hardly any flesh on the ankle to work with, so this is probably going to hurt a little more.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Billy shrugged nonchalantly. “It’s not the map of Middle-earth, it’s just a little number.”
First Roger shaved off any fine hairs and thoroughly cleaned the skin where the tattoo was supposed to be applied to. Then he pressed the previously created thin stencil paper with the tattoo design onto the ankle and removed it again after a few seconds. The outlines of the Elvish nine were now emblazoned on Billy’s ankle and now it wasn’t hard to imagine anymore how nice the finished result would look like on the body.
“This looks so awesome,” Elijah had jumped up from his chair as well and was now peeking over Dominic’s shoulder who was busy taking photos along with Viggo.
“How does this work exactly?” Dominic asked, stopping snapping pictures for a moment.
Roger threaded his tattoo needle through the tube of the tattoo machine and hooked the back end of the needle onto a prong on the machine. He attached the prong to the back of the machine and pressed his foot down on the pedal and the engine started to hum.
“Well, you choose the color…black, right?” he said, dipping the needle into a cap of black ink. “And then you start with the outline.”
Positioning the needle over Billy’s ankle, he lowered it and the tiny spikes began to hammer the ink into the skin.
“Fuck, that hurts!” Billy immediately shouted and pulled a painful grimace. Sean continued holding his leg, not knowing whether he should look at the scary needle or Billy’s tortured face. The other guys laughed nervously. Alexandra was holding on to her mother’s hand, her expression calm and even a little curious. She was obviously still too small to really understand what was happening and Sean was thankful for that. On the other hand, seeing her cherished uncles in pain could not be a very healthy influence.
“You all right, mate?” Dominic grinned. Billy winced dramatically and bit down hard on his bottom lip, but Dominic could see that despite the clear pain that his friend was feeling, Billy made it a lot more theatrical than it really was.
“Perfect,” Billy leaned back and raised his thumb. “I could be sitting here all day.”
“Told you, this is a painful spot for a tattoo,” Roger continued his work without looking up, but he did flash an amused smirk. “This needle is actually a bunch of tiny needles that insert the ink into the skin. The ink gets deposited in the dermis which is the second layer of the skin. There the cells are lot more stable than the cells of the epidermis. The needles are attached to a unit which rapidly drives the needles in and out of the skin, usually between 80 and 150 times a second.”
“Oh Jesus Christ,” Sean muttered out loud without thinking and then smiled tensely. He didn’t want to come across as a scary, frightened freak in front of his daughter, so he struggled to replace the tense smile with a casual one. “Whose idea was this again? Oh yeah, shame on you, Elijah.”
“What?” Orlando gasped, crossing his arms in front of his chest in mild protest. “I’m pretty sure it was my idea. The little one just kept promoting it because it was so brilliant.”
Elijah, who was bending down with his hands on his knees to watch the fascinating work of the tattoo artist, just looked up briefly and mockingly. “Ha, you wish, prissy Elf.”
“I’m more wondering what the press would say if they saw Sir Ian McKellen hanging out at a tattoo parlor,” Dominic laughed into the direction of the man who looked slightly out of place in this location at first glance, but, strangely, also seemed to fit right into the place at the same time. After all, he was unusually cool and funky for a 61-year-old British veteran stage actor and vigorously in touch with the youth and their culture. So, to an outsider the sight of this man inside a tattoo parlor might have been weird, but the headlines sure would have been hilarious.
“That would finally give them something other than budgets or an allegedly stressed out director to write about,” Ian joked, though it was quite true.
“OOWWW! FU-…,” Billy suddenly cried out, but quickly bit his tongue in order not to say the evil word in the company of a little child. Not for the first time since the needle had first penetrated the thin skin on his ankle he was thinking that he had picked the absolutely worst spot ever for a tattoo. Still he had bravely endured the pain which had even become bearable after a few minutes. Until the merciless needle seemed to slam right into his bone for a short but excruciating second.
“I’m sorry,” Roger lifted the needle for a moment. “That can happen there. Everything okay?”
“Yeah sure,” Billy said, feeling the pain already subside again. His clenched fingers released their grip on the armrest. “It was just like a sudden pain flash or something.”
The tattoo was already half filled with the black ink and looked better and better.
“So much for ‘The stout Scots are better than everyone else’,” Dominic teased and was glad that Billy couldn’t just get up and slap him for he certainly looked like he would love to do just that right now.
“Oh shut up, Mr. Sissy,” Billy hissed, not very seriously though. “Anyone can have their upper arm tattooed. That’s like a walk in the park compared to this.”
“Only if you have incredible muscle masses like me,” Dominic stretched his right biceps in an overly bragging manner and grinned. “Before Lord of the Rings I was a pathetic weakling, and now look at me!”
Elijah turned his head away from Billy’s tattoo once more and smiled meaningfully. “That’s more than obvious.”
“Isn’t it?” Dominic returned the smile. It was all he could do as he resisted the urge to reach out and touch this wonderful, gleaming face.
Sean had almost dropped Billy’s leg as the sudden scream of pain had echoed in the room. On the outside he managed to look calm again, except for the paleness of his face, but inside him the nervousness threatened to take over again. He knew he was being silly. Not even Sir Ian McKellen was freaking out over getting a tattoo. But before he was even aware of it, about eight minutes had passed and a little fresh, black Elvish nine graced Billy’s ankle.
“Phew finally,” Billy said, looking at his new body art in satisfaction. Then he jumped off the chair and winced dramatically. “Your turn, Sean.”
Sean felt Billy pat his back and stared at him. His turn? Had they already agreed on a particular order? He couldn’t remember. But the way Billy was grinning at him suggested that Sean’s nervousness could be smelled from miles away. Taking a deep breath, Sean took his seat while Dominic, Elijah and Orlando gathered around Billy and studied his tattoo in utter fascination. Then Roger bandaged it to avoid any potential infection.
Sean was scared, but as he was sitting there and waiting until his skin was prepared he was also feeling strangely excited in a good way. It was probably the adrenaline rushing through his veins, but right at this moment, in this setting, all he could think about was how much fun they were all having and that this tattoo was the absolutely right idea. Only all these positive thoughts were pushed into the background as Roger slipped on a new pair of latex gloves, prepared Sean’s ankle and brought the needle into contact with the delicate skin. The pain was excruciating. Sweat began to pour down Sean’s forehead and he grabbed the armrest tightly.
“Oh my God!” he whined, although he tried to smile. No, it probably hadn’t been a good idea to bring his daughter along. If the image of her father being tortured wouldn’t cause a major trauma, then nothing would. In the meantime, the boys had stopped admiring Billy’s tattoo and turned to their suffering friend.
“What’s wrong, Sean?” Billy asked, feigning cluelessness as he slowly slipped back into his shoe. “Does getting a tattoo on the ankle hurt?”
“Can’t imagine that,” Dominic smirked. “Kudos though, that’s very brave.”
Alexandra who had been tightly holding on to her mother’s hand until now suddenly bent down and crawled underneath a table. Sean’s heart went out to her. She was clearly frightened. Her golden curls framed her little, fretful face.
“Do you want to come under here with me, daddy?” Her voice was quiet, but still sounded strangely loud inside the room full of men.
Sean scolded himself mentally, but managed a smile on the outside. “No, Ali, I’m okay,” he said, then turned away and clenched his teeth, hoping and praying that the procedure would be over soon. When it finally was, he exhaled loudly. He hardly noticed any of the remarks of the others which were a mixture of support and humor as he got up. Even when they expressed their encouragement they were still laughing.
“That was worse than Mavora Lake,” Sean chuckled, alluding to the day he had gored his foot on the shore of the lake. Though he totally meant it. “That pain was just bad at the beginning and then subsided quickly. But this…man…”
Kneeling down, he reached under the table and lifted a clinging Alexandra up into his arms.
“But Mavora Lake was more fun,” Elijah teased with a grin. “No blood clots here to play with.”
“Haha, I’m sorry Master Frodo wasn’t entertained so much this time,” Sean sat down on a chair by the side, keeping his daughter on his lap and his wife beside him. His ankle was still hurting, but the pain diminished slowly, and pride and excitement took its place. He had done it. He had gotten his very first tattoo.
Next up was Ian who dryly commented on the finished image on his shoulder, “Upside down it says Gucci.”
Then it was Dominic’s turn. Before going to the parlor he had had to promise that he would get his tattoo first. As Elijah had said, it would make him less nervous. Dominic grinned at this reasoning. He didn’t have a tattoo yet, but he was not afraid of getting one, despite seeing Billy and Sean squirm in pain. The ankle really wasn’t a very wise spot, though he understood their way of thinking. However, in spite of being a hobbit as well, Dominic chose a different place for his tattoo. To him the character and development of his role held a greater meaning and that was what he wanted to emphasize. Meriadoc Brandybuck went from flippant, cheeky comic relief to determined, strong and heroic warrior. His fancy clothes were replaced by armor and sword. And his right arm was holding the weapon. So, the only spot to represent this in Dominic’s eyes was the right upper arm, symbolizing the sword arm.
Roger’s descriptions and explanations had fascinated Dominic a great deal. The idea of getting a permanent image on his body, that would stay with him and would be a part of him forever, something with a real meaning and not just a blindly followed trend, it all sounded absolutely enthralling. Especially as the open-minded, artistically interested person that Dominic was. His eyes followed every move of the tattoo artist, from shaving and cleaning the skin to preparing the machine and the color. When the needle penetrated the membrane, he didn’t even flinch once. His gaze was fixed on the black ink which gradually formed the Elvish design. When it was half finished, Dominic looked up and at Elijah with a big, happy grin. Elijah stared at Dominic’s upper arm, looking like he would rather be at a funeral. He was wringing his hands and his already pale skin got two more shades of white.
“Aww don’t be scared, Lij. It looks much worse than it is,” Dominic smiled. He couldn’t help but think how adorable Elijah was with that deep frown on his face. Even more adorable than usual.
“Yeah, I’m sure it does,” Elijah chuckled. “Only my tattoo spot doesn’t have quite as much flesh as yours. Ugh, what the fuck was I thinking?”
“No, it doesn’t. You’re right there,” Dominic said frivolously, his innocent smile turning into a perky smirk. He knew Roger didn’t care. The man was too engrossed in his task at hand and probably wouldn’t have noticed anything anyway.
“Oh, we all know what you were thinking, little one,” Orlando piped and pulled Elijah to him, his hands ruffling the dark hair. “Wanna make someone extremely happy, hmm?”
“Geez, thanks, Orli,” Elijah rolled his eyes, but not that annoyed. “I just think it’s a logical spot since we agreed we would never show the tattoo to the public. It’s hidden and just for me.”
Of course that was only half the truth. Elijah knew he wasn’t a tattoo type and never would be. Even though it was a very small tattoo and, above all, a meaningful one. But his hip was a location that only one person was allowed to see. That only one person was allowed to touch. And this person deserved to have a secret spot on Elijah’s body that was a constant reminder of the occasion and the place they had met and fallen in love. Plus a spot that excited said person beyond words.
“Don’t you dare change your mind now, Lij. I’m gonna help you through it, I promise,” Dominic said pleadingly, knowing the pain would very likely be just as bad as the one Billy and Sean had suffered. Elijah was doing this for him also and Dominic felt incredibly honored. But if Elijah indeed decided to have a different spot tattooed, Dominic would not object. He would be disappointed, but he would never push Elijah into something he didn’t want.
Elijah looked into Dominic’s eyes and smiled amused. How could he ever refuse those begging puppy eyes? Of course he would make it through anything if this man was beside him. Although the sound of the tattoo needle alone made him wince.
“Of course not,” he just said, chuckling as Dominic’s grin widened.
Dominic turned his eyes back to his upper arm and noticed that the tattoo was almost finished. So, this was it. His first tattoo. He knew right there and then that it wouldn’t remain the only one. He wasn’t a fan of those people who had no unpainted piece of skin left. That was too much and the single images and details quickly lost their individual meaning. He felt a little disillusioned though. He had thought the pain would be stronger. That it would feel like a baptism by fire, with the pain that would make you a member of an exclusive group. But it had felt more like being stung by bees. However, it didn’t lessen his feeling of being baptized in a different way. Getting this tattoo was like marking a transition in his life. Closing a chapter and starting a new one, ready to be filled with experiences, adventures, hopes, dreams and, above all, love. Dominic smiled as he gazed up at Elijah. The previous chapter had led them to each other. What the next one would bring no one could tell. But it was up to them to make the best of it. And Dominic had no doubt in his mind that it would become the best chapter of their lives. Even though New Zealand would be hard to beat.
“Finished,” Roger declared when he was done cleaning and bandaging the tattoo. “Who’s next?”
Dominic got up and nodded at Elijah. “Come on, Lij. It’s okay, just feels like teeny-tiny bee stings.”
That statement brought him heavy laughter from Billy. “Bee stings? What kind of bees do you have in England?”
In the meantime, Orlando had left and returned with a supply of beer from a 24/7 store. There had to be a proper toast afterwards after all, it had been spontaneously decided. Not that they needed an excuse to have a drink or two on their days off.
Elijah walked over to the table and lifted himself on top of it. Then he gingerly pulled up his shirt. “It just takes a few minutes, right?” he said, his face showing an uneasy grin.
“Right,” Roger replied as he changed the needle as well as his Latex gloves. “So, where exactly do you wanna have it?”
Billy and Orlando were already tampering with the beer bottles, whereas Dominic continued smiling at Elijah encouragingly. Elijah looked from Dominic to Roger and pushed the waistband of his pants down a little, revealing the bare area of his lower hips.
“Here,” he said, pointing to his right hipbone.
The tattoo artist laughed and shook his head. “I know everyone has their personal pain level, but you guys really love the most hardcore places, don’t you?”
“Elijah just wants his tattoo on his very private no-no-spot, where no one can see it,” Orlando smirked and handed an opened bottle to Dominic who took it without taking his eyes off Elijah.
“Or yes-yes-spot. Depending on who you are,” Dominic took a small gulp from the bottle, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
“Hmm,” Roger chuckled as he shaved the tiny, barely existing hairs off the skin. “I see. It might become the new ‘Do you wanna see my stamp-collection’, huh?”
Lying down on his back, Elijah laughed heartily. He was already feeling a little less tense. “Would you guys please stop talking about me like I’m some object?”
And then there it was again, that cruel sound of the needle. When the first drops of ink shot into his skin, along with an enormous flash of pain, Elijah bit down hard on his bottom lip. It didn’t help much. He covered his face with his hands and uttered a muffled “Fuuuck” which didn’t go unheard.
Luckily Christine had taken Alexandra outside for a short walk, not wanting the little girl to witness any more that she wasn’t supposed to witness at her young age. Or hear what she wasn’t supposed to hear at her young age. Sean was thankful for that, still wondering how he could have taken his four year old daughter with him to a tattoo artist. Not just because of the location and the potential screams of pain, but also because everyone familiar with Elijah Wood knew that the guy tended to curse like a sailor in certain situations. And this was such a situation.
Before any more uncouth words could leave his mouth, he felt a well-known touch on his arm. Spreading his fingers a little, Elijah peeked up into Dominic’s encouraging face. Dominic gave Elijah’s shoulder a little squeeze, not hesitating in the least with his physical reassurance in front of a stranger. Today everyone was touchy-feely with everyone and there was no reason why anyone not belonging to their group might jump to conclusions. When Ian had gotten his tattoo, Sean had been holding his hand and lending moral support while Orlando had casually wrapped an arm around Sean from behind. They were just a bunch of close, supporting, a little bit lunatic guys having a good time and sharing an awesome experience. And anything was allowed today.
“This was a fucking bad idea,” Elijah half laughed, half whined, and Dominic chuckled.
“No, it was a fucking great idea.”
“Oh yeah? You’re not the one that has the fucking needle hammering into his hipbone. Fucking hell…”
Dominic snapped a quick photo, then he pulled up a chair and sat down on it, his right hand pulling one of Elijah’s hands away from his face and holding it, his left hand holding the beer bottle.
Billy stepped up behind Dominic and peeked over his shoulder, grinning at the scene between his friends. “You need some meat on your bones, Lij. No wonder you’re whining.”
“Excuse me,” Elijah giggled incredulously. “I’m not an object and least of all I’m not a Christmas goose.”
He struggled not to squirm too much, but he had never been in so much pain before. It was horrible. The entire area around the tattoo was burning. He didn’t even reach that point where you normally get used to the pain after a while. This was just unbearable. He could only guess how Billy and Sean survived this pain on their ankles where there was even less meat. The others had gone back to their special way of support, using black and gallows humor while laughing nervously. But Dominic was sitting beside him, holding his hand and taking an occasional sip of beer. And Elijah couldn’t be more grateful. He concentrated on the hand around his, squeezing it from time to time when the pain became too bad.
Dominic’s gaze wandered between Elijah’s eyes and the small, image taking shape on his hip. “It looks great on you, Elijah. It really does,” he said.
Elijah managed to smile at that. In his position he couldn’t look at it and even if he had been able to, he could do without it. He would only look at the finished work. “So, you think this fucking pain will pay off in the end?”
Dominic smiled back at him. “Of course. Too bad that it’ll probably be forever hidden and no one but us will ever get to see it.” Well, some will certainly get to see it more often than others, he added in his thoughts, not without pride and a little leer.
“We’ll see if this ‘keeping it secret’-plan really works out,” Elijah remarked.
“Keep it secret, keep it safe, Mr. Frodo,” Dominic winked, resisting the natural impulse to lift the hand in his up to his mouth and kiss it.
Elijah chuckled and continued watching Dominic’s face, the pain still being intense but slowly slipping into the back of his consciousness. He felt like he was lying in a hospital bed while the doctor was treating his wound, and Dominic was there to soothe and comfort him. Even when he was in the worst of pain, Dominic still managed to make him laugh and almost forget about what was happening. Elijah’s mind traveled back to the last year and he noticed how it had been just like that at the very beginning of their friendship. It seemed like a lifetime ago. The memory of him breaking down in Peter’s bathroom, his strength and confidence gone, replaced by fear and doubts. The memory of Dominic supporting him, helping him, encouraging him when Elijah had felt so ashamed and empty. Dominic had even taken Elijah back after their brief but painful break-up. Dominic had always been there. He had always been nothing short of caring and loyal, and oh so loving. Elijah knew he would never be able to give even a fraction of this back, he could only swear that he would try to be such as great a fighter as Dominic was whenever it was needed. He swore that he would be there for him and support him, whatever their future might bring. As Elijah looked up into Dominic’s gentle eyes, his love for this unique man intensified, if that was even possible. Because to Elijah he was unique. There was no one like him, not anywhere in the whole wide world. There were moments like this when he was sure his love got stronger and stronger, his throat tightening with overwhelming emotions from one second to the next.
A sudden pang of sharp pain brought Elijah back to reality and he cried out. But of course Dominic had been right. Before Roger bandaged the finished tattoo, Elijah glanced at it. It looked absolutely fucking awesome and the pain had been utterly worth it. Dominic helped him into a sitting position, his smile widening even more. Elijah accepted the half empty beer bottle and took a small gulp, feeling like a brave warrior who had just made it through a tough battle and was now enjoying his well-deserved ale. They looked at each other for a moment, each of them exactly knowing what the other one had been thinking. Then Roger’s loud voice cut through to them, ripping them out of their shared moment.
“Alright, who is next?”