Sometimes you've got to rewind, to go forward
The inherent trouble, Viggo thinks, in surrounding yourself with children is that all you end up with is a lot of empty threats and empty promises.
Viggo believes that words have weight. If you say you will do something, you should actually go ahead and do it. Viggo does not believe in promising anything that you can't deliver, and he expects everyone around him to live by this same set of principles.
The trouble is that most of the people around him don't.
Dom shows up at his place one night, and Viggo hasn't even known he was back in town - last Viggo'd heard from him, Dom had been cavorting on a Hawaii beach with his costars, and the hum and rattle of the ocean in the background was nearly deafening, even coming through the phone. Dom turns up unexpectedly, announces that Elijah was back in L.A. and he'd rounded up everyone he knew in town for a party, and Dom was charged with dragging Viggo out to join them, because no one had seen him in too bloody long.
Dom announces this, tells Viggo very seriously that he's going to sit on Viggo's couch until Viggo agrees to go, and collapses bonelessly onto the aforementioned couch. He won't stay until Viggo agrees to go; he'll stay until he got irritated enough with waiting for Viggo that he'd just leave.
The trouble was, Dom was going to irritate Viggo into going to the party long before Viggo irritated Dom into leaving him alone.
Viggo had lunch with Elijah the week before Lij left for Prague, and Elijah had promised to call the minute he got back to Los Angeles. Viggo hadn't expected him to, and Elijah hadn't - still, empty promises.
After an hour, Viggo is still not sure why he is here at all, not to mention still here, except that Dominic is a force of nature and the only person who irritates Viggo more than Viggo irritates them. He's not seen Elijah once, he's been introduced to at least half a dozen of Dominic's Lost castmates, including a very pretty girl who pressed her breasts against his arm and swooned about Hidalgo, and his beer - his fourth - is getting warm.
He's retreated to a dark corner of the back porch, in the hopes that Dominic will forget about him very soon and he can slip out the side yard and flag a taxi home. Viggo sets the warm beer down in disgust and casts a glance around the porch and the yard. The back door's propped open, and as his gaze passes it, a tall, vaguely male shape holding what appears to be two beers steps into the light.
Whoever it is, he's backlit by the lamps in the kitchen, indistinct features and a posture that Viggo doesn't recognize. Viggo doesn't realize he's staring until the anonymous male stranger steps into Viggo's line of sight, holds out a beer and says, "Aragorn."
He's familiar, this stranger; Henry watches Six Feet Under on DVD and Viggo's stranger is on the show. "Nate," Viggo says, because he knows that is the character's name but the man behind the character, his name has slipped right out of Viggo's mind. He takes the offered beer and tries not to raise an eyebrow. This guy seems nice enough, talented enough from what Viggo's seen in five-minute snippets on Henry's television, and he doesn't seem to be nearly as much of a child as Dominic and Elijah.
He's good-looking, too, in that shaggy scruffy sort of way that Bean can pull off, and that people tell Viggo that he can pull off when he wants to. Not that any of that means anything to Viggo; he just wants someone to talk to who isn't completely empty-headed.
Doesn't hurt that he's nice to look at, though.
Turns out the guy really is a pretty decent sort - not too Hollywood at all. When they're talking about old projects, he says "I worked with Sorkin for a while," like Viggo should know who that is, but he doesn't blink when Viggo doesn't, either. "The West Wing," he says. "Sports Night?"
Viggo shakes his head, because neither of those names ring any bells, and pulls on his beer. It's almost gone, and Viggo weighs the option of going to get another after this or just shaking hands with this guy and going home. He still can't remember the guy's name, either, just that he plays Nate. It doesn't seem to matter, really - his new friend hasn't called him Viggo, and that's the only thing that would shame him into asking Nate for his real name. But he wonders, a little, and he's still not sure if this guy wants something or he's just naturally friendly.
"You're a little old for this crowd," Nate says.
"Hobbits," Viggo shrugs.
"I hear they're a pretty wild crowd, hobbits. Get up to all sorts of trouble."
Viggo snorts laughter without meaning to, and slurps down the last few drops of his beer. "For short little men, they certainly cause more than their fair share of catastrophes," he agrees, and as if the universe is trying to make a point, there's an enormous crash from the house and Viggo can hear Dom's voice, accent thick with drink, shouting over the commotion. "Hobbits," he says again, for emphasis, and hoists his empty bottle at his companionable stranger. "Another beer?"
The kitchen is empty and the floor is sticky with something red and vaguely fruity smelling when he walks inside. Viggo hooks the last two beers out of the fridge; if he were anyone else, he might apologize for taking the final bottles but he nudges the door shut with his elbow instead and wanders back to the porch.
The couple making out in the backyard has either gone home or taken their activities into the shadowy corners where the light from the kitchen can't reach. Nate is leaning with his back against the railing, staring vacantly at the sky. When Viggo extends a beer in his direction, he snaps his head back down and grins at Viggo, a long slow sly smile that makes it all the way up to his eyes.
A smile that holds a whole lot of promises. Whether or not they're empty remains to be seen.
"You don't know my name," his stranger says, his smile still twitching at the corners of his mouth. He takes a long gulp of beer and stares at Viggo.
Viggo decides immediately that this is someone he wants to know. Most of the people you meet in Hollywood won't admit that they can't remember who the hell you are, and if you forget who they are, you just play along until you remember or they remind you. In Hollywood, you don't call someone on the fact that they're forgotten your name.
But this guy does, and Viggo likes that. He's blunt; nothing empty here.
He's not even ashamed, particularly, to admit that he doesn't know the name. "You're on Six Feet Under," he says.
His new friend laughs, and finishes his beer in two long gulps. He leans in to Viggo and kisses him square on the mouth, swiping his tongue along Viggo's bottom lip, and then he presses the empty bottle into Viggo's free hand.
"Watch the credits," Nate says, and saunters across the porch and disappears into the kitchen.
Over Pad Thai two days later, before Dom leaves to go back to Hawaii, Dom tells Viggo that Peter worked with Mark Ruffalo on We Don't Live Here Anymore, which Dom says was "absolutely bloody brutal, mate, but brilliant, and Peter was great, me and Lij went to the premiere with Mark".
"And Mark," Dom says through a mouthful of noodles. "Mark was in that Jim Carrey pic with Elijah."
"And?" Viggo says, because he's not sure where this is going.
Dom scrapes up the last of his noodles noisily, and chews thoughtfully for a minute before answering. "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon and all that shite, mate. Just thought you might care." He pauses, roots around in his jeans for a minute and pulls out his wallet. "You do know how to pronounce his last name, don't you?"
Viggo raises an eyebrow speculatively. Dom rolls his eyes in mock exasperation, but doesn't answer the unasked question - why, is it a difficult name to pronounce? - and tosses some crumpled bills on the table. He fishes a pen out of his jacket, scribbles furiously on a napkin, and shoves his chair back, standing up. "I've got to meet Evangaline. Catch you later, eh?"
Viggo touches his fingers to his forehead briefly, a mock salute, and Dom returns it. "Safe flight and good filming, Dominic."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah" Dom says good-naturedly, and he ambles out of the restaurant.
Viggo picks up the napkin. In Dominic's appalling scrawl, it's a phone number, and a phonetic pronunciation of Krause. He snorts, tosses the napkin on the table, and then thinks better of it. He adds his own cash to Dom's haphazard pile, folds the napkin in half, and walks out the door into the bright sunlight.
Viggo leaves a brief message. His phone number, and all four syllables of Nate's real name.