|Things That Are Ace About Being Famous
Dom had just ducked into the loo for a bit of quiet in the middle of the post-Oscars party, and instead of breathing deeply and trying to center himself, he was making a list on a crumpled cocktail napkin with a blue felt-tip marker he'd found in the pocket of his coat. Things That Are Ace About Being Famous: Free drinks; Birds of all ages throwing themselves at me; Good-looking birds of all ages throwing themselves at me; Free loot; Not having to worry about money; Excellent parties -
He stopped, marker in his mouth, and considered himself in the mirror. He looked sharp; it was a gorgeous suit, and his hair was spectacular, but one more night like this one, and he'd have dark circles under his eyes. He didn't think he looked old beneath the shiny veneer of clothes and eyeliner, but he certainly looked tired. He felt it, too. Felt exhausted. Drained. Not himself. All variety of clichés to describe someone who was just worn out, worn down. He stared down at the napkin again, damp at one corner, ink bleeding across the flimsy paper. Things That Are Not Ace About Being Famous: My best mate turning away from me on the red carpet.
He threw his pen at the mirror and it clattered off the shiny surface, falling down into the sink, where a steady drip plinked onto the plastic. He crumpled the napkin in his fist and stared at his reflection. Dom knew he was lucky, everyone kept telling him that, lucky to have worked on Rings, lucky to be making it in L.A., luck falling into his lap all over the place. He didn't feel lucky. He felt empty.
He didn't feel like himself. The Dom that Billy pulled away from in public wasn't someone he recognized.
He turned to throw the napkin into a toilet, flush away the evidence of his own personal melodrama and paste a smile on his face before diving back into the throng, when the door creaked open. Not Elijah, Dom thought to himself, napkin still crushed between his fingers. Please let it not be Elijah. I can't deal with him right now.
Worse: it was Billy.
"Elijah thought you were in here," Billy said, leaning against the door and looking good enough to eat, or at least good enough to take out to the pub and get pissed with. Except that Ali would have Dom's head if he tried that.
"You've found me. Did you want something?"
"Well, you've got me," Dom said, and sharply reprimanded his brain for saying something so layered it was obvious what he really meant. "Found me. Here I am. Shouldn't you get back to Ali? No time for loitering in empty men's toilets with a mate, really."
"Lij is talking her ear off about something or other. She's well taken care of. I'm not sure you are."
"Bills, mate, I'm fine. Just in here for a breather. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a fantastic bird like Ali. I've been fighting the well-wishers off all evening. Go. I'm right behind you."
Billy didn't go. Instead, he said, "You're angry with me". He wasn't stupid, after all. Dom felt as though he was about three minutes from throwing a punch at Bill. All this frustration couldn't be healthy; maybe violence was the solution.
"You're a good actor, then. You look to be angry at me." Dom could almost see a glimmer of the old Billy, New Zealand Billy, behind the statement.
So he snarked back. "You saw those films, the ones with the little people. I was bloody inspired in those."
Billy smiled, a tiny trace of a real smile in his eyes. He was acting as though Dom was a wild animal; Billy hadn't approached him, still leaning against the bathroom door, cool as can be. If anyone who wasn't Dom had seen him, they'd have said he was absolutely relaxed. But Dom, even from where he was standing across the room, could feel Billy's entire body humming with tension.
He knew no one in the world better than he knew Billy. Billy knew him better than anyone else. It's how it had been, how it should be, but not how it was.
"Spill, Dominic. I'm not letting you leave the loo until you confess all your dirtiest secrets to me."
"Well," Dom started. "There was this one time with Viggo and a jar of peanut butter and sheep, but I'm not sure you want to know about that." He stopped. Billy was still smiling, really smiling, and his mouth was twitching like he wanted to laugh. "Go ahead," Dom said. "It was meant to be funny."
The sound of Billy's laughter echoing off the tiles was like coming home. When he had collected himself, he just stared at Dom.
Dom handed him the rumpled cocktail napkin. Their fingers brushed. Billy didn't flinch away. Dom took it as a good omen.
Billy read it silently, several times. When he was finished, he looked up at Dom, said, "Dominic, you daft fucking wanker," and pulled Dom into a hug. When Billy was through squeezing Dom until he couldn't breathe, he pulled back and rested a hand on Dom's chest. "I was nervous, mate. Red carpet, big night. It wasn't conscious."
"Mmmm," Dom said.
"You're my best mate, Dommie. One moment in front of the cameras doesn't change everything."
"Has a very well-developed sense of priorities. And she knows full well you're one of mine. Are we finished standing in the men's loo? Have you finished throwing your temper tantrum?"
"It wasn't a tantrum," Dom pouted.
"It was, and a terribly inspired one at that, Dominic. At least when you pout, you look better doing it than Orlando does. Come on. I'll even fetch you a drink and keep Elijah under lock and key for the rest of the evening."
Dom didn't glance in the mirrors as he followed Billy out into the party. He knew if he had, the face staring back would have looked ten years younger than it had when he walked in.
Sometimes happily ever after doesn't resemble the fairy tales.