|When I Grow Up, I Want A Pony
you can hide away when you walk in dusky light of night
It isn't the constant throng of press that eventually gets to Orlando - it's the constant throng of press who all have what he thinks is the wrong bloody information that turns out to be the last straw.
He isn't even doing a press junket - he's out buying groceries, and in the parking lot behind the shop, a sleazy tabloid reporter corners him and asks him how it feels to be left by Kate Bosworth for some guy he's never heard of. "That's news to me," Orlando told him, and climbed in his car and drove away - drove straight to Viggo's, because that is where he runs when everything gets to be too much.
He tells the whole story to Viggo over four cigarettes and three beers. When he's finished, Viggo looks at him with that look Viggo gives everyone who can't see past the end of their own nose - Orlando is very familiar with it - and says, "Fame looks good on you."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Orlando says, trying to keep rising fury out of his voice. "Fame looks good on me?"
"You're suited to it," Viggo says placidly. "Good looks, even temper, not likely to make a scene in public and if you do, it will be a well-marketed, well-documented scene."
"Oh, fuck you," Orlando says. "You don't know anything, you're a terrible celebrity."
Viggo just snorts, like he'd almost want to laugh, and shrugs. "You chose your life. You knew the perils when you started."
"I didn't know that people would want to know what I ate for breakfast!" Orlando sputters, and he's trying not to shout, but he expected Viggo to get it, this life without any sort of privacy, and he just doesn't, and it's completely, infuriatingly Viggo. "I don't even care what I ate for breakfast!"
"What did you want?" Viggo says, and it's hardly even a question - like he knows what Orlando wants, but he just wants to hear Orli say it himself, which only makes Orlando feel less like telling Viggo anything ever again.
"A pony," Orlando says petulantly. "And a million dollars."
"Buy yourself a pony," Viggo replies. "You've got a million dollars."
"It's the principle of the thing," Orlando says. Viggo gets up and fishes a takeout menu from the drawer beside the sink and starts ordering Chinese, as if he's tired of this conversation and the only way to shut Orlando up is to feed him. Orlando's not complaining, though - he can talk through mouthfuls of Moo Shu Pork and General Tsao's Chicken as well as he can through mouthfuls of beer. "They can know anything they want about me, but if I went round asking about the private lives of my fans, I'd be as crazy as that ... that crazy guy, you know, the one with the Kleenex boxes and all the airplanes."
"Howard Hughes?" Viggo says, phone tucked beneath his chin. "He was crazy, but he wasn't an incurable gossip, which is what you appear to want to be."
"I don't want to be anything at all," Orlando says. "I just want a little privacy sometimes."
"You and Howard Hughes would have gotten along just fine, then," Viggo says, and Orlando can hear the joke he doesn't get in Viggo's voice, which is one more thing that's frustrating about all of this. Viggo slides another beer over to Orlando, who doesn't really want it, he's starting to feel fuzzy around the edges of his brain, but maybe if he's drunker he'll make more sense.
Or maybe not, because he's not really sure what's bothering him in the first place.
He lets his head fall to the table, resting against his arms, and he closes his eyes so he won't have to look at Viggo, who in addition to being infuriating and complex, is more often than not right about everything having to do with Orlando's life.
"Kate's left," he says.
Viggo doesn't say anything, but even with his head down, eyes closed, trying to block out the world, Orlando knows him well enough to hear Viggo's stupid fucking eyebrow get raised straight up to his hairline.
"You know who told me?" Orlando continues, mumbling into his arms. "Some dumbfuck reporter in the parking lot of the grocery store, for fuck's sake! I had an armful of lettuce and tomatoes and bread, and this dumbfuck says, how's it feel to be left for another guy, and I didn't have a fucking clue! And then I check my voicemail, and she's left a bloody message, sorry this and not you that and I'll leave the key under the doormat, shall I? Like that's any way to end a relationship."
He picks his head up from his arms, and Viggo's staring at him, no expression except a tiny twitch in his mouth that says he almost wants to laugh but he doesn't want to hurt Orlando's feelings.
"Go on," Orlando says. "I know you want to say it, so just go on and say it."
Viggo's mouth twitches again, and he says, "Well, I'd expect that you've just been left like most people in the rest of the world, so I'm not certain what you're so upset about."
"Sure, of course, I've been left like every bloody wanker on the street who isn't famous, except weren't you listening? Someone told me about it in the parking lot of the grocery!"
"I was once dumped in the parking lot of a liquor store," Viggo says placidly.
"You are the least helpful bastard on the planet," Orlando says, and drops his head to the table again. "And I have no idea how you stayed married long enough to have Henry, because clearly you are an utter failure at relationships of any sort."
"She threw a bottle of cheap gin at my head, and my shoes smelled like pine for weeks."
"Grempf," Orlando says, listening in spite of himself. "How'd you get gin on your shoes if she threw the bottle at your head?"
"She had terrible aim," Viggo says. "But lovely breasts. You want another beer?"
"Yeah," Orlando says. "I'm going to die alone and unloved, but at least there's beer." This whole thing is stupid, Viggo's stupid, Kate is stupid, the stupid reporter in the stupid parking lot is stupid. Orlando feels fourteen again, heart broken by his first real girlfriend except that he was too stupid then to know that it was hardly heartbreak. This is hardly heartbreak, either, but he did like Kate, and he loved her in his own way. Which is not the same as the way he loves Viggo, or the hobbits or Bean or even Sir Ian, but he expected her to understand that - she was lovely, smart and funny, beautiful, but they're his family.
He remembers something that Sir Ian said to him once, and mumbles it to himself, not sure if he's got it exactly right. Viggo slides a beer in front of him, cap already off and moisture beading across the label in Viggo's steamy summer kitchen, and says, "What?"
Orlando takes a long drink and leans back, looks up from the bottle and meets Viggo's eyes. "The nicest thing about the modern age is that we may all pick our own family, regardless of blood ties."
Viggo raises an eyebrow.
"Sir Ian told me that once," Orlando says. "I thought he was, you know, quoting something, but I couldn't find it when I tried to look it up."
"It's good advice," Viggo says. Everything Viggo says is a statement, even his questions, and it used to drive Orlando mad, but now he's mostly sure that Viggo's just right all the time - no point in asking questions if you've got all the answers to begin with.
"Yeah, it is. Just, you know, Kate didn't get it. And I guess that matters." He's not even sure what he means by that, but maybe it has something to do with the way he'd drive off in the middle of the night, no warning to Kate, if Viggo left a message, no matter how strange, on his answering machine.
"Working through your issues with advice from Ian," Viggo says. "You should write a self-help book."
"Shut up," Orlando says. "I'm going to die alone and unloved."
"Maybe without getting laid ever again," Viggo says, and there's a laugh in his voice that says he'd think that was really fucking funny. "Not unloved, though. Beer?"
"Sure," Orlando says. "Yeah, another beer's good."
Author's notes: This has been hanging about on my harddrive for literally months; since cee's birthday in November, at least, and now it's finally finished. I'm not sure it ended where it started, but sometimes that doesn't matter. Title and epigraph from Kasey Chambers, "Pony" and "Hollywood" respectively. For JJ, to whom I owe much-belated birthday fic, and cee, because. <333