"You know," Henry says, waving his chopsticks in the dim light, "there are people you can pay to take care of this kind of stuff."
Viggo frowns. They're sitting at the kitchen table eating take-out with a small forest of candles burning between them because, it seems, Viggo did not remember to pay the electric bill while the band's been on tour and, apparently, the lights have been shut off. Viggo found an old electric bill in re-use as the surface for a poem he started writing right before they left for Europe, something about following hand-written maps that don't give direction anymore, and he left it behind because he thought it wasn't finished, but now it has been seemingly finished by his absence, which is the way with most things, it seems, and --
"Dad. Dad. Earth to Dad."
Viggo snaps his head up from his food. "Hey," he says. "Sorry. Do you want to go back to your mom's house until I sort this out?" While it was still light out, he called the number for the electric company listed on the bill, but it was already after five o'clock and apparently the whole mess is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.
Henry laughs, but shakes his head. "It's fine," he says. "I just like to point out that it doesn't always pay to fight reality."
Viggo rolls his eyes, but the motion says I know, I know more than anything else.
"So, what'd you do while you were in New York?" Henry asks.
"You know, marketing," Viggo says, and pulls a face like he's gotten a taste of a bad shrimp. He still thinks the act of promoting the existence of a piece of music is redundant and pointless, but has stopped trying to tell Ian they should just send out birth announcements the way any other family would when they have a baby, because Ian's not as young as he used to be, and should really be keeping a better eye on his blood pressure.
"So, it sucked, then?" Henry asks.
"Well, no, not all of it," Viggo says.
Having been told by more than one person that he sees enough shades of grey for a full color spectrum rainbow, Viggo admires Henry's ability to break down all of the things he experiences as things that are cool, things that suck and things that are okay. Especially since "okay" seems to mean, "sucked but I don't want to say so." Henry says that Backyard Carnival is "okay."
"Sean hung out for a week or so," Viggo says finally. "That didn't suck."
"Oooh," Henry says laboriously.
"So," Henry says, folding his hands together with his elbows propped up.
"So you're grumpy because you saw Sean," Henry says. "That makes sense."
Viggo coughs around a mouthful and barely avoids a chopstick to the windpipe. "Excuse me?" he finally manages.
When Henry rolls his eyes, it says I know, I know, but in a completely different way.
When Henry was first in elementary school, Viggo spent a lot of time staying home with him while Exene was out on tour. It's time he wouldn't trade for anything, and he can remember how he used to be able to tell whether Henry was lying about having finished his homework just from the tone of his voice from three rooms over. Viggo's not sure how he feels about the idea that the tables may have turned.
"You should ask him to come back," Henry says, like it's just that simple: Sean's departure sucked, Sean returning would be cool. Doing it without Sean is okay.
Viggo says, "I tried that already."
"Well, you should ask him again." Henry lets him chew on this mouthful for a moment and then says, "Hey, what's up with Orli?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like, where is he? Why isn't he staying here?"
"He's staying at Ian's," Viggo says. "His, uh, his friend Eric is with him, so--"
At Viggo's fumbled use of the word "friend," Henry groans and says, "Dad."
That much, at least, hasn't changed. The year that Henry was eleven, he came out to New Zealand to spend his summer vacation with Viggo. This was during the time when the band was still getting together, deciding what it was going to mean to be a band and whether it meant things like "previously agreed upon times and places for the purposes of rehearsal and recording" and "mutually beneficial contracts with venue owners to show up at a series of places at a series of pre-arranged times and dates and play music."
Viggo explained to Henry that if he did that, he'd be accountable to other artists in a way he hadn't been before, and that he'd be gone a lot of the time, maybe more often than Exene had been when Henry was really young. Henry said, "So lots and lots of people would hear your music? That's neat," and Viggo explained that maybe not lots and lots of people, and maybe not any people at all, and really, that wasn't really the point of what they were doing, anyway, the point was that -- Henry interrupted him then, groaning and saying, "Dad," with the syllable all drawn out. So, Viggo threw his lot in with Peter and Fran, then, and now a thousand-odd shows later he has a son who's all grown up and can apparently read him like a book even when they're sitting in the dark in a house with a bathroom that's been completely taken over by a spider plant and a couple new stains on the kitchen ceiling that look like the Virgin Mary and a sad monkey.
"So that's weird, that Orlando, like, has a boyfriend, right?" Henry asks.
Viggo thinks that Henry better not let Orlando catch him saying that, but says, "Well, you know, I think that sometimes we let ourselves put people in boxes and then they outgrow them except that it's not even that they outgrew them, it's just that you maybe accidentally put the box on the wrong shelf because you labeled it wrong and you didn't know it was really heavy and so when you try to pick it up it can, you know, break, you know, give out on the bottom, right? And I just think that--"
"Oh my God, stop," Henry says, waving his hands in protest. "Please. Forget I asked; I don't even want to know." In the dark, his eyes gleam.
It's well past midnight, and Orlando's sitting on a stool in Ian's massive kitchen watching Eric fill some of Ian's matching serving bowls with unfamiliar crisps and crackers. Dom called three hours ago to tell Orlando that he found out some obscure satellite channel is broadcasting the ManU match in Hong Kong. Dom was excited enough that even though Orlando was rather exhausted after a day of surfing, he confirmed that yes, Ian's house has every television channel known to man despite the fact that Ian doesn't actually watch television very much at all.
"Where do you even find Barbecue Shapes in the States?" Orlando asks, munching on a carrot and examining the green wrapping in his hand.
Eric shrugs and Orlando watches the lines of his shoulders under his white t-shirt. "You can order them online. Ian always stocks some when I'm in town."
Orlando thinks of the fridge full or tofu and soy milk and nods. He finishes the carrot, drops the cellophane into the trash and stands up, wrapping himself across Eric's back. When Eric finishes with the snacks, he turns and grins down at Orlando, kissing him before stepping around him to carry the bowls into Ian's entertainment room.
"What time are the wee ones showing up?" Eric calls over his shoulder and Orlando laughs, grabbing two beers from the fridge and following.
"Match starts at 2, I think." Orlando slides into one of the thick leather seats and holds out a beer until Eric joins him, lifting the armrest to make their two seats into one. Orlando kind of loves Ian's house. "A little before that, I guess."
Eric finds the four remotes and presses buttons quickly until the television and all stereo sound components are on and working.
"I've never been able to figure out this room," Orlando says around his beer bottle, impressed.
"Well," Eric says, laughing a little and flipping through the channels, "it's not as though Ian's any help. I was here when he had it installed, actually. Complete disaster." Eric smiles. "The bloke doing the installation wasn't bad looking, though."
Orlando shakes his head and can imagine Ian requiring as much when he bought the equipment. He glances at the screen where Eric's stopped on an MTV news break about Jake Gyllenhaal's new movie.
"Weren't you going to do that one?" Eric asks.
"Before the tour, yeah. But then I got Viggo's letter." Orlando watches Jake flash a smile across the screen and then a scene of him laughing with Cameron. Orlando loved that script and he frowns for a second before swallowing more beer. "Cameron's a great guy."
"Well Viggo wrote a letter, I'm sure anyone would understand," Eric says and Orlando can never quite tell when Eric's being sarcastic. He wonders if it's the accent. Eric laughs softly before saying, "Maybe you can do his next one." He changes the channel again.
Orlando shrugs and tips his head back on the leather.
They watch a few minutes of some concert and Orlando isn't sure who it is, but the dancing mimes and the man in the swan costume makes him decide never to complain about Viggo's boring staging again. He blinks as the lead singer comes back to the stage in a spangly jumpsuit and Orlando pokes Eric's arm to let him know he should change the channel.
"Sorry," Eric says, shaking his head. "I was mesmerized by the--" His eyes widen and he grins before handing Orlando the remote control. "I'm going to take a quick shower."
Orlando grabs Eric's hand, not letting him stand up. They kiss for a few minutes and when Eric finally does pull away, Orlando smiles at him before stretching out to take up the entire seat.
"You know, I'm only on vacation for a week and you're going to waste minutes of it just so you can shower." Orlando does his best imitation of the face Sean makes when he catches Viggo putting the empty milk container back into the fridge. "I'm disappointed in your lack of consideration for my needs."
Eric waves his hand to dismiss Orlando's whinging. "I just want to be clean for your friends, precious."
Orlando snorts. "Right, because Dom's showered since the last press conference."
"Just because you wacky rock and roll cobbers don't have standards doesn't mean I should let you corrupt me."
"Oh, Professor, we'd never have any hope of succeeding." Orlando drinks the last of his beer and grins. "Go, shower. If you're very lucky, I'll be here when you get back."
Eric turns, shrugging as he walks away. "Oh, I'm sure Ian still has that installation company's number somewhere."
Orlando laughs and watches Eric leave the room before getting up from the chairs. He raises his arms over his head and stretches. He's thinking about another beer, when his mobile rings. Expecting Dom or Billy, he thumbs the on button without glancing at the phone number on the display.
"I'm not entirely sure ManU can actually beat the Hong Kong team, you know," he says because 'hello' has never really been necessary with anyone in the band.
"That's good to know, Orlando," Dana's voice answers, sounding slightly tired and possibly a bit more put-upon than usual.
Orlando sighs, heavily, and remembers too late that when Dom or Billy calls, his phone is set to ring with something ponderous and classical. "Hi, Dana. Why are you calling me after one in the morning?"
"Because when I called you during normal business hours, I never managed to trick you into answering the phone." Orlando actually feels bad for Dana sometimes. "Manchester's chances aside, let's talk about the certainty level on you doing the next movie you're committed to."
"Look, Dana, I know Gore's worried, but the thing is, I'm in a band and the band is on tour and it seems strange to you, but I'm committed to this too. It's like, business and family and I can't just--"
"Orlando, I don't need you to explain the band. I get the band. It seems strange to me because it is strange, not because I'm crazy, but I get your commitment." Dana exhales and somehow makes the air sound sharp against Orlando's ear. "If I didn't get it before, I'm pretty sure I got it when Jake Gyllenhal's agent sent me a 'thank you' bouquet of lilies."
Orlando grins, but decides not to tell Dana that he heard about that from Ian. "Dana, if you get it, than why are we having this conversation?" He glances at the television and realizes that concert is still on and it's still frightening, but he can't figure out the remote, so he leaves it alone.
"Because it's my job to have this conversation, Orlando. It's my job to tell you that Gore is worried that this delay in filming is more than a delay and that he's probably finding ways to write Will Turner out of the script as we speak." Dana's exhaling faster now and Orlando wonders if she's going to hyperventilate. "It's my job to tell you that if you bail on this movie too, you might as well never go back to acting."
Orlando rolls his eyes. "Dana, I'm sure that if I want to go back to acting and it's meant to be, we can make it happen. I mean, John Travolta has had at least two come backs."
"If you want to go back to acting?" Dana's definitely hyperventilating now.
There's a few seconds of silence and Orlando's about to say something when Dana finally speaks, her voice calm and quiet. "That's fine Orlando, that 'if.' And you're probably right about the come-backs. But right now you're poised to be a star. More importantly, you're on the verge of a great career. Johnny Depp loves you. Cameron Crowe still wants to work with you. I have a script on my desk that Tim Burton sent to you."
"Really?" Orlando is a little impressed.
"Really. If you don't want that career, that's fine, but it's my job to recommend that you make a fucking decision sometime in the near future." Dana pauses as if she's waiting for a response and when Orlando doesn't reply, she sighs. "Look, you're in L.A. for two weeks, let me set up a meeting with Gore."
Orlando stares at the television screen where the singer's now lying on the ground in a bathrobe. He wrinkles his nose and finally says, "Okay. Thursday afternoon is good for me."
Dana sighs again, but this time Orlando thinks it's relief. "I'll call and leave the times on your voice mail. Since I assume you won't be distracted enough to pick up again."
Orlando laughs. "Thanks, Dana." He shakes his head. "Get some sleep, eh?"
"I'll get some sleep after you make a decision. Goodbye." Dana hangs up and Orlando closes his phone.
He frowns, trying to remember the exact date the tour's scheduled to end. Orlando never really planned on not doing the movie; he didn't think he was lying when he told Gore it would just be a delay, but now he's not sure that's true.
Eric comes back in then, new white t-shirt, new jeans, no shoes and hair dripping a little down his back. He grins wide and tips his head a bit as he looks at Orlando. "Have you been standing there since I left?"
Orlando shakes his head and then his shoulders, trying to dislodge the negative energy. "Dana called."
Eric's eyes widened. "You answered?"
Orlando's sure Eric thinks the fact that Orlando's been avoiding Dana's calls is extremely rude, so he doesn't explain that he thought it was Dom. "I'm going to meet with the Pirates director on Thursday. Apparently he's worried I'm going to back out."
Eric doesn't say anything, just keeps watching Orlando with his head still tipped to the side. Finally he asks, "Are you?"
Orlando shakes his head. "I don't think so." He wonders if his voice sounds entirely certain.
"I mean, it's your choice. I just think," Eric holds out one hand, "making international hit movie with extremely talented people. Or," the other hand now like scales, "playing the tambourine with your mates." Eric moves the first hand down and the second up. "I'm just a straight-laced scientist, but it seems an obvious choice, you know?"
Orlando bites his lip and he doesn't think it's that obvious at all. He doesn't say that, though, just turns to the television where the concert appears to be ending. "Does your scientific mind tell you that this is rather awful? Because it should."
Eric laughs and somehow changes to another station from the other side of the room. "Better?"
The match is starting on the screen in front of him now and Orlando grins. He turns around to where Eric is still standing. "You know all the secrets of this house, don't you?" Eric puts his finger to his lips and Orlando's eyebrows go up. "Wait, when you stay here. Stayed here, before, did you--" Orlando's lips twitch back towards a smile. "Have you seen the guest room?"
Eric laughs, loud and cheerful over the sound of the doorbell. "Orli, dear, I'm quite sure you're aware that no one stays in Ian's guest room except his aunt Mabel."
Orlando groans and shouts, "Forget I ever asked," as Eric heads out to answer the door.
Orlando shakes his head and he looks at the phone he's still holding, shrugging and dropping it on the table. He'll think about meetings and movies and Dana's sharp breath later. Right now he needs to think of new ways to insult the assorted mothers of the ManU players.
Sean's been in London since he got back from New York last weekend. He's staying at the same hotel that he always stays at and it seems too posh for him just like it always does. It's not in the least too posh for Ian, though, so Sean barely registers any surprise when they bump into one another in the lobby.
"Bean," Ian says, the usual twinkle in his eye. "I'd no idea you were in London."
Sean shrugs, "Just a bit of extended holiday."
"Then I'm sure you've no where important to be off to?" Ian only makes the smallest show of waiting for an answer. "Have brunch with me, then."
"Brunch? You've become very L.A., McKellen," Sean says, but he puts the newspaper he was planning on buying to read with his coffee back on the little rack and follows Ian towards the hotel restaurant.
"Some of their little customs are quite charming," Ian says as they wait for the hostess. "Hello, dear. Two please, not out in the middle of everything, but not by the kitchen, either."
Their table is perfect, of course, and Ian orders tea and shakes his head just a bit at Sean's request for black coffee.
"Where's the latest boy-toy?" Sean asks. "The singer who was plastered to your side in New York?"
Ian smiles and waves his fingers. "He has some charity event to host, so I'm left to my own devices." Ian nods as the waitress sets the tea in front of him. "The drawback to dating clients, of course, is that you can never encourage them to skip their publicity events to spend time on holiday with you."
Sean snorts, but doesn't bother to make a comment. He drinks the coffee even though it's a little too weak for him. Over the years, he got used to the sludge-like substance Viggo brewed up on the bus and now everything short of that may as well be water.
"You're on holiday as well, then?" Sean asks.
"No, no. Business meetings all week, a junket and several places to be seen." Ian shrugs. "If I were truly on holiday, I wouldn't be in London. There has to be a beach, you know."
Sean nods, waiting for the inevitable.
"Not for you, though?" Ian nods and it manages to include London, New York, all the places Sean should probably have been instead over the last two weeks. "What about work? The girls?"
"Work gets along just fine without me and the girls are away on their own holidays with their mothers." Sean grins. "They have beaches. South of France and the Greek Islands."
"Isn't it nice to have that rock and roll lifestyle?" Ian raises an eyebrow.
Sean rolls his eyes. "While getting one-fourteenth of the royalties of a moderately successful folk-rock band is nice, I assure you that most of that is paid for with welding money."
Ian nods consideringly. "Well, Peter and Fran isn't about the money. I think we all know that."
"You know I expected better of you, Ian." Sean shakes his head, laughing. "I'm going to have to tell the lads that you care."
Ian laughs as well. "Oh they'll never believe you. They think I'm completely heartless." Ian looks at Sean over his tea cup. "If they didn't, I'd never get Viggo to stop going on about--" Ian doesn't finish the sentence, just moves his hand through the air to indicate exactly everything that Ian doesn't like Viggo to talk about. Which is probably most everything that Viggo talks about.
"Because you've done so well with that," Sean says. "That reporter, one of the ones who was there for the signing? She spent twenty minutes listening to Viggo during the ride over there, taking notes and while we were watching the band give autographs she turned to me and asked if I knew what 'diaspora' meant and what it might have to do with the mixing on the record."
Ian rolls his eyes. "That was Blender anyway, so even if Viggo had been using simple words it would have been useless."
Sean doesn't tell Ian that at the time, Sean just laughed at her and told her it was no longer his job to know those things. Afterward though, he asked Elijah if he had any idea. Elijah grinned and shook his head, saying, "I just produced it, Bean, how would I know that?"
Ian sets his tea cup down and glances for the waitress. She's there to take their order before Sean can blink. When she leaves, Ian fixes Sean with a pointed stare. "You know my dark truth-- that whole caring thing-- and I know yours. You miss the entire lot of them."
Sean frowns a bit. "Ian, that's not a secret. Of course I miss them."
"Of course," Ian allows. "How many times did you change your flight home from New York last week?" Ian never waits for an answer he already knows. "I sincerely doubt it's because you missed the excitement of a press junket." He sighs. "Even one with Billy and Dominic."
"Did you know they tried to tell the bird from Entertainment Tonight that Karl ties them to their bunks with mandolin strings when they wake him up?" Sean laughs, glad to have a moment before he has to address Ian's point.
"I am merely lucky that no one believes them anymore," Ian says.
Then there's nothing but the sound of Ian's spoon against the side of the tea cup. Sean finds himself squirming a little. He wonders sometimes if the band's not right about Ian and he is secretly an evil genius.
"Look, I miss them. I changed my flight three times because I was enjoying the trip and I'd no reason to rush back." Sean finishes his coffee. "It doesn't change anything. I don't want to go back. Besides, I've barely touched my kit since last time."
That's not exactly true, Sean plays occasionally and he's quite sure it would come back just like welding had taken only a few days to adjust to when he came back from New Zealand.
Ian nods, carefully, his head only inclining a bit before straightening. "It's not necessarily 'back,' you know." He scrubs the space between them with his hand and smiles. "So do tell me what the girls are doing on their respective beaches."
The subject of Peter and Fran is apparently closed, so Sean talks about his daughters and Ian talks about his client and the popstar and they swap a few stories about Viggo over brunch, but there's no meaning behind them.
At the end of the meal, Ian signs the check with a flourish and stands up. "This was lovely." Sean stands as well and lets Ian kiss his cheeks. "Shall we have dinner tomorrow?"
Sean frowns and shakes his head. "I think I'll be getting back home this evening, actually." He'll make the train reservations when he gets back to his room. "Thank you, though."
"Absolutely any time." Ian smiles, eyes sparkling. "It's rather nice that at least someone knows your secrets."
Ian turns and leaves, not expecting a response and Sean shakes his head slowly even though he's never known Ian to be wrong about much of anything.