Summary: A shadow falls over Viggo. Sean learns a little about the dark.
Categories: RPS Characters: David Wenham, Sean Bean, Viggo Mortensen
Series: Novice Chronicles
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes
Word count: 2065 Read: 3349
Published: April 22, 2008 Updated: April 22, 2008
The Novice Chronicles series: Ian Finds a Man
, The Way Dolittle Does It
, Kneeling 'or Not
, Beneath the Skin
, Some Kind of Understanding
, Soft boiled
, From Push to Shove
, And the Grail as Well
, How Everything Is
, The Ancient Art of Arranging Flowers
1. Chapter 1 by Brigantine
<strong>Monday, 1:37 p.m.</strong>
He's here to see Ian, officially, but Sean doesn't mind admitting to himself that he'd like to catch sight of Viggo. As a favor to Ian Sean has managed to procure a rare and very expensive illustrated manuscript. It's an early version of one of the many tributaries to the Arthurian saga, and today Sean has come to deliver it. He's running late through no fault of his own, and he hopes to catch Ian in his office before his friend gets dragged into a two o'clock department meeting. Summer session is in progress, but the campus is nowhere near as busy as it will be come fall. He's got no one associated with the museum he needs to see today, and Sean is happy rattling around in his favorite khakis and an old blue sweater.
He needs the fifth floor of the humanities building, office number 5419. Ian has advised him it's a toss-up, time-wise, between waiting around for the elevator and walking the stairs. A bonus to jogging up the stairs is the cat-walk between the two halves of the large building. Sean allows himself a moment to stop mid-bridge and savor the view from Humanities past the courtyard of Theatre Arts and down the sloping lawn to the path around the lagoon. There's a peninsula in the middle where in the summer herons and egrets nest. Spring and fall migrating ducks rest and feed in the lee. Beyond that is the Pacific. Sean knows Dave surfs here sometimes. The swells are dependable, and in spite of the large student population, the beach here is never crowded.
Dutifully, Sean turns and makes his way into the other half of the building, searching the numbers on the door-lintels for Ian's office. A few people wander the halls or loiter at the office doors of colleagues; professors, graduate students, undergrads in need of guidance. It feels good, familiar, the atmosphere subtly electric with youthful energy and creativity, that undercurrent of possibility.
Except for right here. As he approaches office 5402 Sean senses something wrong, like a polluted fog on his skin, and he feels his hackles rise. Voices from inside the room are deep-timbred, words spoken intently, but so quietly that no one else in the hallway hears them, except that Sean's crisis radar is screaming and he turns uninvited into the doorway, already scowling. He would have stepped into this room for anybody with that much fear in his voice, that's the truth, but just now it's Viggo's voice that Sean hears strained and struggling for control, and Sean responds to Viggo's fear on a primitive level. His fist closes as the muscles in his shoulders tense.
Instinct and a quick, evaluating glance tell Sean all he needs to know for the moment. The coldly handsome man leaning into Viggo is too close. He is a heavier man than Viggo, perhaps a few years older, and the energy of him has pushed Viggo back against the wall. He's invading the meagre space that Viggo's got left and reaching out to rest a hand on his hip as though he owns it, and Vig's fists are clenched at his sides, as people do when they're running out of options. The stranger's eyes are almost blue, and the smile he turns on Sean is dazzling, but so is the devil's, or so Sean's been told.
Sean's shoulders want to do something. His teeth feel too sharp. He bites back the snarl rising, lets the menace rest in his eyes. He takes one step further into Viggo's office, just enough to one side to leave a clear path to the door. The stranger smirks, directs a not-quite-private comment at Viggo that turns him pale where he stands. Sean suppresses a particular surge of bloodlust as the man passes him on his way out, making a show of nonchalance, but just the same angling away from Sean. Sean doesn't bother to watch him disappear.
Viggo is shaking, slumped against the wall. Sean's first impulse is to go to him, put a hand under his elbow, and lift him straight.
No, Sean's very first impulse, the one his voice of reason and a habit of chivalry immediately shove far to the back of his skull, is to lock the door, throw Viggo onto the desk and lay outright claim to him.
Sean acts on the second impulse, his voice remarkably ordinary. "Y'alright, mate?"
Viggo straightens, nods toward the empty doorway. "Caught me off guard, I guess. I haven't seen him in years."
Jealousy claws and rages, but there is no sign of it in Sean's voice. "Am I right that you didn't want to?"
"No. I mean I didn't. Don't." Viggo winces, adding, "Not ever."
Sean wishes that fellow might be out there waiting for him somewhere, hoping to reclaim his pride, but he knows better. He recognizes the sort of man who chooses his battles, and waits for his advantage.
"I... um. Thanks." Viggo has slumped again, shoving his hands into his pockets, staring down at bare feet.
Sean shrugs, suddenly self-conscious now that the threat is past. "'Twere nowt." He shows Viggo the linen bundle containing the illustrated manuscript. "I come to give this to Ian, is all." Then he remembers, and checks his watch. "It's just past two. D'you have to be in that meetin' as well?"
"Meet — ? Oh hell, I'm late!" Viggo leaps away from the wall, normal life setting him right again. He dithers for a moment between Sean and his office door, then suddenly kisses "Thank you" against Sean's cheek, one hand curving swiftly around the back of Sean's head, a brush of fingers in blond hair, and he dashes out the door.
In the time it takes to blush and blink and toss the manuscript onto Viggo's cluttered desk Sean's rushing out into the hallway after him. "Viggo! Your shoes!"
Viggo comes to a ragged stop, glances down at his bare feet, runs back to Sean, grabs his sneakers, grins his thanks and pelts down the hallway again, skittering around the corner as he attempts to put on one shoe while still in motion. Sean hears him falter, curse, and then he's thundering down the stairway.
Sean stands bewildered in the middle of the hallway, clutching Viggo's slightly used socks in one hand. Two paint-spattered young men and a young woman sporting multi-colored hair eddy up beside Sean, gazing along with him to the corner where Viggo disappeared. The young woman glances at the socks and makes a thoughtful noise. "I swear, Vig needs a keeper."
All Sean can think of at the moment are frightened grey eyes, swift words spoken softly against his skin, and the pressure of Viggo's hand on the back of his head.
<strong>Monday, 11:54 p.m.</strong>
Viggo is curled up on the sofa in his living room. Marilyn is draped over his bare ankles, and he's trying to read a book about understanding the symbolism in Buddhist mural art, but the distraction isn't working. He stares blankly at a colorful flock of apsaras painted on the ceiling of a cave in Dunhuang, and not for the first time wishes he were other than he is.
There was a series of days, a couple of years ago, when Viggo believed that on several occasions he had caught the scent of Michael's cologne, sensed the lingering dark heat of him in the hallways of the humanities building, and in the art department mail room downstairs, where names and office numbers are displayed. Though shaken, he said nothing of it to Ian at the time because he wasn't sure, but now he knows it was real. After seven years away now he believed he was safe, that it was over, and the knowledge that Michael can still, after such time and distance, back him against the wall without ever raising his hand, brings a flush of shame and anger. How many nights in Los Angeles did he find himself lying alone in their bed, confused and hurting? How often, during long, dark hours abandoned to <em>... think about what you've done...</em> did he try to convince himself to just leave? To 'finally leave' takes time, requires a long process of cold resentment and hot anger, or in Viggo's case physical intervention from perceptive friends. To 'just leave' rarely happens.
The thought that Michael might still be waiting to catch him alone somewhere, some turn of a corner when his guard is down makes his stomach hurt. But just now fear, as powerful as it is, is not the strongest emotion Viggo is dealing with. He understands that Sean has been graced by an ease with conflict that he will never possess. The capability of violence that Viggo's best bluff portrays is truth for Sean, and the raw aggression in his eyes this afternoon balanced by the schooled stillness of his fists translates to Viggo that Sean could wade knee deep through the blood of his enemy and feel no need to apologize. But Viggo remembers as well that evening at Dooley's pub and the good-natured brawling that sent Sean and his friends laughing into the street, and he understands the crucial difference. A man would first have to <em>make himself</em> Sean's enemy. Viggo gets that, and it keeps him from being appalled by his realization of everything that Sean is.
Sean's been drinking for the past three hours, but it isn't helping. His mouth is raw from too much whiskey, and all the liquor has accomplished is to make the house seem too big and too small at the same time, and the dogs are keeping out of his way. He'll be hung over and plainly frightening at work tomorrow, but just now he doesn't give a rat's arse as he broods at his kitchen table and pours himself another shot.
Sean can't get this afternoon out of his head. The handsome man's face, his smile, his <em>assumption.</em> Worst of all, his words, honed together into a precise weapon, the sort to slide swiftly between a man's ribs, straight to the heart. So much implied in them about where Viggo's been, and what he might have endured, and how much it must have hurt him, that he would run from it. Sean's baffled outrage and worse, what he imagines of the pain in Viggo's past are wrapped together around Sean's spine like a double strand of barbed wire. He has tried first to reason and then to drink himself loose of it, but it won't let him go.
When he was still a boy in Sheffield, there was a neighbor woman whose husband beat her, and Sean thought then, even as young as he was, that when people gossiped with his mum and wondered aloud, "Why doesn't she just leave?" that the answer should have been obvious. It was because she believed the lie, of course. Because every time her husband in a sober moment swore contrition and promised he'd never hurt her again she wanted to believe him, because on the day they had gotten married he and she had loved one another, and the hope that that could yet be true kept her in that house.
Hope, Sean concludes bitterly, is a bloody, double-edged sword. He swallows another jolt of Glenkinchie and it burns him hollow all the way down. He's stuck. He doesn't know what to do. No, short of dragging that suave son of a bitch off to some secluded warehouse and making him beg to die, Sean's not going to be able to get himself free of this any time soon. The handsome man's confidence mocks him inside his own head. It's not as though Sean hasn't heard the word before. It's not as though he's never used it. It's just...
<em>You're still my special little whore.</em>
Sean rests his forehead in one sweating hand, remembering the way all the color bleached out of Viggo's face. Son of a bitch.
Just a note; an apsara is a sort of fairy or angel.
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