|Nothing Short of Fate
the heavens at my birth intended me for stardom,
Dom is good with people. Sometimes he clamors a little too loudly (or inappropriately) for attention, but they all do, especially after a couple (or a dozen) drinks. Billy doesn't exempt himself from that statement, either; he knows when he's petulantly trying to steal the spotlight just as well as he knows when Dominic is trying to. He knows and just because he keeps doing it doesn't mean ... well, he doesn't know what it doesn't mean.
But just because he's noisy and attention grabbing on occasion doesn't mean that Dom is a genuine attention whore or a drama queen or a showboat (like Elijah once said, and Orlando said, "Showboat? Isn't that a musical?" and then there was upending of beers and getting tossed out of the pub, so the phrase hasn't been repeated again). He's just good with people, is all.
Good with the locals in the pubs they frequent, making friends by talking footie and rugby and cricket before anyone else does. Good with the few tentative fans who turn up at the edges of the sets sometimes, signing if they want something signed and just being patient and kind if they don't. Good with the cast and the crew.
He's just, you know, good with people.
Being good with people - it sounds like a stupid American greeting card when Billy thinks it, like Happy Good With People Day!, but he doesn't have another word for it, except for overly effusive adjectives like gracious and charming and irresistible and he tries to avoid those when thinking about Dom, because the combination of them makes his stomach feel funny. But - being good with people, which Dom is, it's a good skill for an actor to have, especially one like Dom who's either destined for fame or destined to achieve it regardless of what Fate has to say on the subject, clawing his way into the spotlight, tooth and nail and sweat and blood.
Billy himself isn't so much for the Good With People; too often he's tired or irritated or just doesn't feel like being a public commodity, and he's snapped at his fair share of pretty girls waiting at the stage door or friendly people who just wanted to buy him a drink. He tries not to be mean, but he often can't work up the same energy Dom manages, and that leaves him with a bad taste in his mouth.
It's just that Dom is so easy with everyone - careless with his touches, open with affection, genuinely interested in whoever he's talking to at the time. He's like that with Billy, too, of course; they're best mates, Dom tells him a load more than he tells the random crew members he eats lunch with or the geezers he talks footie with in the pub.
Thing is, Dom being good with people means that his attention is always divided.
i was meant for applause, i was meant for derision.
If Rings hadn't happened, Billy likes to think that he would have been content working in theater for the rest of his life. You can actually make a living of it in London and Edinburgh and Birmingham and Stratford, if you're good enough, and he likes the stage lights and the live audiences and the way it's all the same day after day after day of the run. Learn your lines once and show up ready to work, and that's all you've got to do until there's another script to memorize.
There's a steady daily comfort in theater that traipsing around New Zealand in all manners of weather and daylight and latex prosthetics just doesn't have. In theater, no one rewrites the next day's script while you're shooting today's.
Billy isn't sorry that he did Rings; of course not, how could he be, after everything? He wouldn't trade the experience for a million sterling pounds (well, okay, if the price was right, he might trade it, but a million just isn't enough) because if nothing else, he got Dom out of the deal.
Dom, who would never, ever have been happy living out his life on a stage. Not even the stage at the Barbican in London, so deep you can hardly see where it ends and as wide as half the length of a footie field. It would be more than big enough for Billy, audience as far as the eye can see, but not for Dom. For Dom, it was movies or nothing, and when the movies didn't come, it was the biggest goddamned show on the telly that he could find.
The small screen, like they call it in Hollywood, isn't quite what Dom had in mind - he confesses this to Billy after he takes the gig - but J.J.'s the best in the business, Dom said, and it'll almost be like doing Rings on the telly. Billy isn't sure Dom is right about that, but what does he know? He's the one in Glasgow recording voiceovers and taking stage gigs; Dom's the one in Hollywood bleaching his hair and flying to Hawaii to film "only the most expensive telly pilot ever, mate".
It rankles. Billy isn't sure why it makes his stomach twist into knots, but it does.
The Dominic on the other end of the phone talking about contracts and filming schedules and smash hits in the fall telly schedule doesn't sound like the Dominic Billy remembers - that's part of why it stings a little. He knows Dom worried about money a little, when the work wasn't coming in, and Billy knows that he worried about always being "that other hobbit, not the Scottish one" and never making a name for himself, so in his heart of hearts, Billy knows that this is good for Dom.
Billy's just not sure when it stopped being about the work and started being about the cold hard cash and the cold hard fame.
The stage doesn't produce fame unless you're Gielgud or Olivier; the screen does. Billy knows this, but he isn't sure if Dominic grasps the breadth of it. He might be Good With People, but if Dom is right and this show is everything it's supposed to be and do and launch, he'll be famous - famous like Orlando's famous. Faces on billboards and all that.
Good With People is one thing, but in the face of fame, it's not everything you need.
Fame is unforgiving, and Billy knows that Dominic doesn't know that.
i was meant for the stage, i was meant for the curtain.
A messenger delivers the plane ticket to the flat Billy and Ali are sharing, have been sharing, on a Monday morning at 10 AM. A messenger, which is just the final sign to Billy that Dominic's completely lost his mind and gone completely Hollywood.
Dominic could never settle for regular mail like anyone else.
Ali opens the envelope and says, "A ticket to Hawaii with no return date? Dominic has let fame go to his head; how does he know you'd like to go see him?"
It's said lightly, with a laugh in her voice, but Billy can hear the frustration, the jealousy, underneath. Ali's a good girl, and he loves her, but he's never tried to hide the fact that Dom comes first, if Dom needs him. He can't expect her not to resent that fact, either, and he doesn't expect that, but the things she doesn't say - "I know you're going, and I know you're not coming back"; "Why does he want you now when you're mine?" - cut just as deep as the idea of Dom on the telly did.
He puts his arms around her and doesn't say anything, because it's the only way to answer what Ali's said. She's right - he's going. He has to, if only because it might make his stomach stop twisting whenever he thinks about Dom. Ali sighs.
There's nothing left to say, and he doesn't bother to call Dom before he gets on the plane. If he knows Dom, Dom will be waiting for him - because Dom knows Billy, and that's a truth at the heart of the whole matter.
i was meant for the crowd, i was meant for the shouting
Billy is not unfamiliar with long flights - New Zealand, after all, is not the easiest place to get to. But London to Kennedy in New York to LAX to a final touchdown in Honolulu is too long; it's more time to work his stomach into knots, more time to condemn television and praise the stage in his mind.
Dom is waiting for him when he steps off the plane, wraps Billy immediately into a hug. He's sun burnt and scruffy - "best part of the job," he says, "no razors on desert island!". The scruff is shading blond from too much sun and it's all Billy can do not to rub his face against it. Dom keeps one arm around his shoulders even after they've moved away from the gate, and Billy leans into him without meaning to. Dom's vibrating with the same sort of controlled energy that propelled him, and, by extension, Billy, through Rings.
Dom drives him to one of the sets, where people other than him are filming today, and introduces him around, and watching all the smiling, shiny, sun-brown faces beam at him and shake his hand, Billy isn't sure who's prouder - Dom of him or himself of Dom, for proving him so wrong.
Evangeline, a tiny pretty girl who'd have been just Dom's type if he'd met her in a bar and not on a set, skips shaking his hand to give him a hug and says, "Dom talks about you all the time."
When Billy looks at Dom for confirmation of this, trying not to let his surprise show all over his face, Dom is turned away from him, in conversation with Ian with the unwieldy long last name.
The tops of Dom's ears are red, and not from the sun.
from the floorboards to the flys, here i was fitted to reside
Dom shows him off on the set and shows the set off to him, and then takes him back to a tiny flat he's rented for when he's over here. If you stand on the balcony and lean over the edge just right, you can see where the ocean breaks between the million-dollar houses on the beach.
"It's crap," Dom says, shoveling script pages and a journals and what looks like six weeks' worth of newspapers off the couch and onto the floor so Billy will have a place to sit. "But it's cheap, and I like having somewhere to call home, you know?"
The energy that hummed inside Dom on the set explodes all over the tiny flat, and after he's parked Billy on the couch, he can't seem to stop moving - making tea, rearranging the piles of stuff he's just dumped on the floor, asking after Ali ("She's fine," Billy says, and Dom drops the subject), fiddling with the remote control for the telly. Finally Billy sets the mug of tea Dom shoved into his hands on the floor beside the couch, reaches out, and grabs Dom's wrists.
"Stop," he says.
Dom stops and collapses in a heap on the floor, motionless except for a nervous twitch of his fingers against his thigh. "D'you like it?" he says.
Do you like me, Billy hears. Is this all okay?
And the feeling in his stomach is gone, has been gone, and he hasn't even noticed it before now - it is okay. Dom wasn't meant for the stage - he was meant for bright lights and the flash and glitz of movies, or television like J.J., as Dom calls him, makes television. There's not a stage in the world big enough to contain his Dominic, and he wouldn't want it any other way.
"Did you doubt that I would, you daft bugger?" Billy says. "It's you. This is perfect for you. We're all spitting with jealousy, to tell the truth."
"Even Viggo?" Dom says hopefully.
"Except Viggo, who still thinks you and I are mad and who wouldn't come near a telly if you paid him."
"The surfing's great here," Dom offers, and there's relief and a childish note of worry in voice, mixing together. It's familiar to Billy; it's the same thing he heard when Dom called Billy to tell him about Lost the first time. "We should go."
There's no answer to that but to lace his fingers through Dominic's and agree.