March 25th, 2004
|12:15 pm - FIC: Coincidence of Memory (VM/SB, PG)|
Title: Coincidence of Memory (1/1)
Pairing: Viggo Mortensen/Sean Bean
Summary: Memories have their own languages.
Disclaimer: This is NOT true, because I just made it up. It NEVER happened.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Archive: My website, Rugbytackling, Green Opals.
Author Notes: Title shamelessly stolen from Viggo. Many, many thanks to galadriel and to viva_gloria for their priceless beta-skills.
Coincidence of Memory
Sometimes, when the sky is a pale blue sheet and there's dust lying on the rare tufts of grass by an unpaved road, thirsty-looking and luscious at once, Viggo finds himself back in Argentina. He's nine years old, wearing red shorts in November and playing fútbal in the sweet-scented, warm summer afternoon with the kids from school; dark-haired, golden-skinned kids, blond, lily-white kids just like him, all of them with blood crusting over scraped knees and elbows, mud and grass stains from unthinking, eager dives for the ball.
The ball they're playing with is not much, just a plastic blue thing with faded black checkers and the name of an Italian team on it, and it's difficult to kick because it's been kicked too many times already. Deflated, it rolls oddly on the uneven, grassy field, barely bouncing. They still keep at it though, still keep running after it and kicking at it and occasionally at each other, pushing, laughing, jeering, cursing. High-pitched choirboys' voices yelling foul Spanish obscenities in the still golden air, Italian accents punctuating the unholiest.
Viggo could add his own English and Danish expletives to the noise, but he doesn't, because he's just a kid like them, just a muchacho from the same neighborhood, this discreetly wealthy suburb of Buenos Aires in the late Sixties. This is all he can remember ever having known as 'home', though he's more than faintly aware of having been born elsewhere, some place that's not this. His little brothers were born here, though; and even if they visit Mom's parents up north and Dad's parents in Europe, every so often, here is where they've been living for as long as Viggo can remember.
So here is where he belongs.
Sometimes there's a sharp, yellow-white quality in the light washing down through the wide square windows in his studio, and Viggo is fourteen again. He spends much of his free time sitting in the docks in Copenhagen, looking not at the ships but at the light filtering through the cold blue cloud piling high in the sky, which is different from the light he's seen anywhere else.
It's November, but he has to keep his nose buried in his thick woolen scarf to avoid freezing his face off. It feels wrong, except that this is the way things are now: November is cold, July is hot, Dad's not living with them anymore, so Viggo spends his holidays with him, winter and summer, a few months per year in Denmark. His brothers are still too young, and they get to stay with Mom most of the time. It doesn't matter. New York City in November feels colder than Denmark.
People--his father's family, his own family--talk to him, and even though he doesn't find it difficult to follow, he still stumbles a little when he tries to get the words out, and he knows his voice sounds different, foreign but not foreign. Most of the time he thinks in Spanish anyway.
Dad says he doesn't have any particular accent, not Danish nor Spanish and even his English is like that, not like his brothers'; like Viggo's not grown up in any particular place; like he's been living in his own world all this time.
Denmark's not where he was born nor is it a place he can really call home, but it's part of home. Half of home.
And anyway, the light here is special.
Sometimes in New York, often at night, when the pavement is wet and sparkling from the fine evening drizzle, reflecting the city's lurid neon lights, Viggo turns a corner and finds his seventeen year old self in front of him. Long unkempt hair and an attitude, a notebook hidden in one of his jacket pockets. Scribbling fragments of thoughts and conversations in it--when he's not prowling the streets smiling sweetly at strangers with a coy look from under his thick, bleached blond fringe, drunk on his newly-learned awareness of sex; of his newfound power.
He finds himself and he's bleeding on the pavement--though the rusty barbwire fence has been removed long ago and everything else in the block has changed too--vaguely aware that his face hurts, a sharp throbbing pain, but he's so stoned he's not sure it's even his own face. He's on all fours on the wet concrete, and he giggles, looks up.
The sky is dark blue, and he thinks he can see stars, which is sort of strange in New York City. Maybe it's just the stuff he's smoked. There's people around him, and he's almost sure he knows them. Friends. It doesn't matter--the stars, the people--he doesn't know them anyway, he'll move out soon, move on, go somewhere else, just like always. He doesn't need any of these things. He's all right by himself. With himself.
He likes people, though. They're like the stars: they're not the ones he used to know, but he'll learn to know these new ones too; even when they're different, they look alike. Or is it the other way around? He doesn't need any of them, anyway, because there will always be stars, people, wherever he goes. Can't really help it. By this time he's learned that no matter where they are, they've always something new and different to tell him, even when he can't make himself understood; no matter who they are, Viggo will learn their language, will know how to speak to them.
It's not really them; it's him. He is his own star, his own tongue that no-one else knows. No-one knows his name--not even he.
A new joint is lit, gets passed around. The boy who's pushed Viggo face first against the broken wire crouches down in front of him, puts his fingers in the wet pool under Viggo's face and Viggo notices for the first time that it's dark red, his own blood trickling down his split upper lip. The boy puts his fingers in the pool, then his whole hand, palm down, fingers splayed wide. "Warm," he says, and his voice is wondering and breathless when he adds, "I'm gonna fuck you, man, I'm gonna fuck you now."
Viggo giggles again. The concrete is scraping the palms of his hands and his knees raw like when he was a kid playing ball, and the air feels hot against his bare ass and thighs. It's July. It's summer. It's all right. This is where he was born, he thinks; and he thinks it in English. Then he falls facedown in his own blood, and passes out.
When he looks at Henry, it's easy for Viggo to remember the day his son was born, and those first days and months and years, so full of wonder as though he is rediscovering the world again, through his child's new eyes; as though he never had a language that was his own until Henry forms the first sounds that will become words; and Viggo learns along with him, learns how to need and how to live when you can't--you won't--leave people behind anymore.
And his world is new and content, and he belongs.
They belong together; it's a home that he made, and it's full of its own clear, happy light. He doesn't need to look for stars anymore.
Until Exene grows restless; until Henry grows up and Viggo can see that he too soon will start looking for his own stars, for his own words and people and stories--for that is just the way the world is.
It seems strangely comforting, and things suddenly fit.
It's not the first roles in films; it's not the deep rich colors filling his eyes with yet untold visions and his nose with the thick smell of darkness and light and chaos, bringing the words hidden deep in his heart to the rough surface of blank canvases; it's not the snapshots of life blending reality and dreams and snatches of music captured in poetry; it's not the people he meets, dark and light and gray and all sorts of inbetween, people used to smiling for a camera and people just going about their business in the street.
He learns that there's special people that get to stay with you in your life, and that it's all right to want to be with them, always; that it's something that can happen. That moving on doesn't always mean leaving.
It's like beginning again; it's like accepting that he, too, will never stop looking.
Except this time, he thinks he knows what he's looking for. What he wants.
"Mae govannen," Viggo says, and he smiles wide when Sean laughs in the airport, and pulls him close to put his arms around him. Sean smells of too many hours in crowded airports and tiredness and sleep, and of the dark warm light that used to bleed into Viggo's paintings, into Viggo's poetry, just after Henry was born.
If Viggo had a word for it, it would be something complicated and simple at the same time, a Japanese kanji maybe--a sign like stunned happiness, and maybe, just a little, like relief.
Viggo has been learning languages in New Zealand, this new world he never was in before, where Henry told him he should go, and that sometimes feels like a place he had once known: a little bit of Quenya wisdom, long meaningful Sindarin lyrics. It comes all so easily, as though he were born to it, or maybe it's because he, too, has always been speaking a language that wasn't that of people, but made up by just one.
He guides Sean through the airport, and he takes him back on set--back home--as he's been doing for these past few months; and that night, through the ceiling and the roof and the black, blood-red crossed curtain of his lowered eyelids he can see the stars, and they're just like they always were in Argentina: the right stars, in the right seasons--new, the first stars he ever saw, the first stars whose names he learned.
"You're miles away," Sean says, soft and happy, his voice deep with fond exasperation. It's contentedness, and it's another word. It sounds new, not yet worn with use. Viggo doesn't open his eyes, only frowns because Sean's stopped suckling at his scar: that's always the first thing Sean does when he comes back, he licks and kisses and nuzzles the long deep scar running from Viggo's upper lip to his nose, and Viggo never asks why, because it just seems the right thing for Sean to do, like making memories out of returns, a sign language of future partings looming just further along the road, waiting to happen, already yearning for memories onto which to parse the distance.
Viggo reaches out blindly, finding the scar just over Sean's left eyelid, feeling the smooth deep hollow in the warm skin under his thumb, knowing it's paler than the rest of Sean, a faded memory of pain. He feels Sean's eyes flutter close against the tender curve of skin between his thumb and forefinger; and they're matched just like that, matched in height and age and loves and children and art and quirks and sex, and that's all there is for all the world to see, just there, right there in their matching scars, a sort of fucked-up symmetry of lives in their flesh, a twisted coincidence of halves, a permanent reminder of old hurts and foolishness; of youth, and seasons long past; and he should write that down before he loses it--symmetry of memories, symmetry in halves.
Coincidence of halves, he speaks soundlessly with lips and hands over the newly familiar planes of Sean's body, and there has to be something about mirrors and unmovable axes and halves never being wholes but sort of looking as though they are, if you look and want to see, if you want to know and make it fit.
I was years away, Viggo thinks. And then he thinks, I'm right here.
Sean sighs softly under him, and there's light under Viggo's fingers where they touch, warm living light as though they're holding a newborn star between their bodies, and Viggo opens his eyes and looks.
Sean looks at Viggo and asks, "What do you want?" as though he is the one learning Viggo's language, taking it in; changing it.
It's always been a language of one; it was never made to be spoken aloud.
"Tell me," Sean says, as though he can hear Viggo's words, as though he understands them.
The light seeps inside, like a memory forming; the contours of the world shift; lines blur, reshaping life.
Words appear, dark and bright, and Sean says his name.
"What's your happiest memory?" Philippa asks their drunken, high, just-for-today perfectly happy Fellowship of friends, the ones who were on stage to receive the awards and the ones who joined them privately, when all the cameras are finally off and the Oscars are over and the parties are over, and it's a bright winter morning in LA, and they're left alone on their reserved hotel floor, a private party just for them.
"Barring the day your children were born," she adds after a beat and a sip of her drink, making Peter's face fall, then screw up in mock-concentration. He looks angelic when at last he says, "The first time I saw Fran," and gains a wifely kiss and many snorting laughs.
And then Fran says, deadpan, picking wilting flowers out of her hair, "The day Pete told me he'd cast Sean Bean," which leads to more laughs, a few knowing nods, and a gallant kiss on her hand from a blushing, laughing Sean; and to Peter throwing a pillow at his head.
"Not fair," John grumbles loudly, "What am I supposed to say now?"
The hobbits' mirth is so loud that all conversations stop for a moment. Philippa has to catch her breath before turning to Viggo, sitting next to Sean but at his feet, cross-legged on the thick carpet covering the wide floor of the suite.
Henry's kneeling on the floor across the room from him, between Elijah and Dom, deciding which CD to listen to next; Viggo looks at him and then Henry looks up and rolls his eyes, grinning, making a 'not listening' kind of gesture. There's a little boy grinning somewhere inside Viggo, and he can't tell whether it's him or Henry, only that he knows what he's saying, and he repeats it out loud.
"In fifteen years," he says. "I'll be in bed with my lover one morning, and one of our children will call and tell us one of our grandchildren just spoke their first word. When they hang up I'll feel dazed and happy and maybe I'll cry, and we'll have old couple sex to celebrate. Then we'll get up and make breakfast."
Someone blinks; someone giggles then looks down into his drink; and the silence is perfect.
"I'll have maté," Viggo adds.
New laughter dispels the silence, and it's happy; and then there are shaking heads and bright eyes--or perhaps it's only the light. Philippa turns to Sean.
"Ask me again," Sean says, still blushing, his eyes glowing, his thumb rubbing the scar above his eye, "in fifteen years."
His hand comes down, and his fingers twine warm and heavy in the short, graying strands of Viggo's red-dyed hair.
When Viggo looks up he can't hear what is being said around him anymore, but that's all right. The world is warm and filled with a sort of dark gleaming light, with family and friends and life; and there are words in Sean's eyes, in Sean's hand on him.
Across the years, Viggo has been learning how to say things, how to understand them in many languages--English and Spanish and Danish and Elvish and Lakota and so many others besides--but this one they made together, and Viggo knows.
Seasons change, and always come back, unchanged. Sometimes things make sense; most times they don't, no matter how many words you find to try and make them fit, to make them more of what they are.
It's not about stars, or people, or needing.
It's him. Not half, not whole.
Just him--just Sean, speaking to him.
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