|hermit9 (hermit9) wrote in hobbits_n_orli,|
@ 2008-02-09 23:38:00
I swear to god this isn't a mary-sue, but it has that flavor, I'm afraid. I wrote this for a friend who, as far as I know, is not a slasher, shipper, fic writer or reader, but she loves Orlando to a degree that would put many Orlando lovers in fandom to shame. She sprained both her ankles one year a while back and was feeling pretty shitty, so I wrote her this to cheer her up.
Characters: Orlando, original characters
Rating: Rish for a few bad words again
Disc: so not real, fake, and otherwise made up just for fun.
I'm going with you.
Jess! You're on crutches! It can wait. Seriously. We'll get another chance.
No way. I'm meeting you there and we are going to get so drunk it's not even funny.
She didn't look at them. You don't look at the people you share an elevator with. You politely ignore them, they politely ignore you. You trade air for a minute or two and then you go your separate ways. Most of the time you won't exchange a single word. She was embarrassed about it now. She'd never admit she didn't notice who she was standing next to for the one point four minutes they were traveling upwards. Even when the others got off and it was just the two of them she didn't look. Wasn't interested really. She just shifted her bags and her crutches and thought about how nice it would be to get up to Larn's and get off her feet finally. Even when this big metal box slowed and finally stopped, and paused as if on a silent cliff of time, doing nothing, she didn't spare her elevator companion a single glance.
They waited. Then they waited some more. Both pairs of eyes fixed on the smooth cold crack in the stainless steel door. But it didn't move. It didn't part. The humor of the silence and unexpected stillness crept into the lift through the joints and Jess found herself half smiling, though weakly, at the door. The man next to her chuffed ever so softly and leaned forward and hit a couple of buttons. She watched his hand and heard the creak of his leather jacket draped over his arm. Nothing happened; more nothing than the nothing that was already happening before the man's futile efforts.
They waited some more.
There was always, Jess had noticed, a status quo on wait times. When you were at a restaurant, there was always a point at which everyone at the table would pause and look up and around, wondering where their food was, if it didn't arrive before then. People, when they don't think, are like lemmings. They'll just follow each other in a mostly mindless, fedback, societal flock that they would probably be embarrassed about if there were beings from other worlds evaluating them. She wasn't thinking about that phenomenon at the moment, she didn't feel much like thinking; too tired. At that moment she was simply daydreaming about getting off the fucking crutches and sitting down and popping open that bottle of wine with Larn. Tomorrow was going to be busy. Tomorrow was going to be incredible. So when the door didn't open, and the elevator didn't move, both Jess and her elevator friend followed their leanings toward social consensus and looked up at the numbers above the elevator door like a couple of kittens following a flashlight. No numbers were lit. Jess had not even been watching them before they stopped, so she had no idea what floor they were on. If she had to guess she'd say about the twentieth or so. If the elevator was broken there was no way she was making it up the other ten floors or so to Larn. Not on crutches. She could feel her face get heavy with frustration.
Still nothing happened, another wait time expired, and the two passengers obligingly looked at each other, hoping for answers or reassurance or some other necessary social construct.
That was when Jess felt her face go from frustrated and tired to, well, something that probably resembled absolute gut twisting shock. It must have been obvious to him too that she knew who he was because he smiled shyly and looked down at his feet and away from her. She could feel the red creep up into her face, her ears. Her ankle didn't hurt anymore. Not even slightly. She couldn't feel a damn thing except the trembling in the arms holding her up on her crutches, the heat in her face and neck, and her heart absofuckinglutly machine gunning in her chest.
The man, she couldn't even bring herself to form his name in her head, he slumped up against the little steel rail that edged the elevator car and squeezed the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. His grey shirt and dark pants hung off of him like he was a rigid armature. A leather bracelet on his wrist struggled against his forearm, sympathetic with the jacket he gripped to his side.
“Hello?” The crackly voice came from a spangle of holes below the button grid which defined a small speaker.
“Hullo?” her companion said and Jess thought her face was melting off her skull. “Hullo?” he repeated. “Where's the thing?” He bobbed his head around looking but not seeing.
“Hello? Anybody in there?” the voice came again.
Something in her brain was still working, it seemed. Not the whole thing was occupied by shock and disorientation, because she offered without even thinking about it, “Right there, the little door.” She pointed to the fuse box-like door below the speaker.
The man opened it and fumbled the phone inside to his ear after looking at it for the briefest moment like he had never seen a phone of it's kind before, and maybe he hadn't. “Hullo?” he said.
“Everybody alright in there?” He pulled the phone away from his ear an inch as the man on the other end spoke to him. It was more than loud enough for her to hear both sides of the conversation.
“Y-yes I think so.” He didn't look at her. If he had asked her if she was alright she might have said 'no.'
“Ok, good. Just hold tight. We're having a little problem with the elevator. We'll get you out of there in just a few.”
“Ok,” he said, hesitated, and then put the phone back.
Jess dug the fingernails of one hand into her palm, resting her weight on the other crutch and willed the ferocious blush away from her face.
It didn't work.
Her companion gave her an apologetic smile, as if this was in some way his fault, as if this was actually a nightmarish inconvenience and not the most astounding thing that could possibly have happened to her today. Yes, it was embarrassing. She was on crutches, she barely had any make-up on, she was wearing “comfortable” walking shoes, but who cares. She was stuck in an elevator with h-h-h-h-h-him. She was going to remember this forever, even if it only lasted three minutes. It would be three gruelingly ecstatically orgasmicly beautiful up close and personal so-near-I-can-smell-him minutes. She shivered in her own skin. She was going to have to get an 'I heart New York' t-shirt after this.
“Lucky us,” he said to her. She was tempted for a second to look behind her, to see who it was he was addressing, but she knew no one else was there. She tried. She tried hard to find something to say and she bit her lip when she realized that the wittiest retort ever was not forming in her brain, nor was it leaping off her tongue like a swan-diving silver lizard, ready to impress the gorgeous young man into submission and- All she could do was smile, and even that felt weak and shaky, just like her tired arms and single operational leg.
Deafeningly silent minutes passed and Jessica's brain spun on an axis of what felt startlingly close to panic. She had an opportunity here, and it was flying by her at breakneck speed. She had to say something. I like your shirt. She didn't, but it was something. Fuck. What was that going to get her? A thanks and another tight lipped smile? I loved your last movie. She hadn't seen it yet! Oh my god you're so fucking gorgeous I want to have your babies. That one was at least true, but he probably heard that seven hundred times a day.
“Hello?” The man in the speaker was talking to them again.
No not yet, just give me another minute to drool on him.
He picked up the receiver next to his knee and held it to his ear. “Yeah.”
“Ok, ah. It looks like – how many people are in the car with you sir?”
“There's just two of us.”
“Ok, ah. Yeah. It looks like you're going to be in there a little longer than we figured. Our guys down here can't fix this ourselves and we're waiting for the tech to get here from across town.”
He stammered just a second. “You can't just open the door?”
“No sir,” the man intoned seriously. “You're stuck between floors, and all the floors from ten up to twenty two are in the middle of a remodel. It would take us hours to even get to you. Those floors don't have floors right now,” he said through a chuckle. “Our best bet is to wait for the tech to get the car moving again.”
“Well...how long then?”
“Um...an hour or two?” The man in the speaker winced audibly.
Jess nearly collapsed, and her companion, (still couldn't make her mouth or her brain say that name, it was too close, too strange and unreal – she'd laugh out loud if she tried) sighed heavily into the phone. “We'll get you out of there as soon as we can. Honest. If something comes up, just pick up the receiver, someone will be here to answer.”
“Yeah. Ok,” he said and put the phone down again with another deep sigh and a puppyish face. He turned to Jess with a gesture of renewed or piqued interest, a raised brow and a small smile and hands clasped before his chest. “Well,” he said directly at her, “Looks like we're stuck.”
Again with the dumb smile on her face. She was turning redder, she knew it. She could feel it, and the fact that she knew it embarrassed her all the more. If this wasn't so cool it would have been excruciatingly humiliating and horrible.
“I'm Orlando. I'd...ask you how do you do, but, by the looks of things I'm guessing you might not want to talk about it,” he said with what appeared to be a genuine smile this time.
Jess laughed compulsively which luckily jump started her vocal chords again. “Hi. I'm Jessica.”
“Nice to meet you. In an elevator. Where we're going to be spending the next 'hour or two,' if we're lucky.”
She laughed again but it was more at the little thought that went flitting across her mind rather than his banter. One of us is very lucky.
He sighed again, this time rough and gravelly, and then braced his hips against the wall of the car (nice), avoiding the steel rail, and slid down to the floor. He stretched one leg out in front of him and Jess eyed the soul of his black shoe. “We're going to be here a while. Why don't you sit down?”
This was one of those situations where you want to take the suggestions, really do, but you don't feel like you can afford to. The price in dignity is too high. She should have thought of it herself, she should have had the fortitude to make herself comfortable wherever she was, even if she was sharing an elevator with Orlando Fucking Bloom- That did it. She laughed out loud in a humiliating squeak that she stifled and squashed by biting her tongue very hard. Orlando looked up at her with a tilted head and some of the humor dropped away and was absorbed by the bottomless chocolate brown eyes.
Jess swallowed her pride, it was hardly a mouthful at this point, and leaned her crutches against the wall. She moved her shopping bag and her purse off to the side, nearly knocking her crutches over, (Orlando made a heroic grab at them from across the car, nearly got them too with those long-ass arms) but she caught them and replaced them before they hit the floor. They clattered noisily on each other and Jess tried again to force the blood in her face to disperse and go quietly. Nothing to see here.
Get a grip. Just don't think about it. Deep breath. Aloof, unavailable ice princess. Aloof, unavailable ice princess. Aloof, unavailable elf princess.
Jess dug the nails of both hands into her palms and bit the inside of her cheek and tried to keep her eyes open and not gushing with tears of near hysteria. She shook a bit, a tremor centered on her abdomen, and short little breaths escaped her nose in a silent laugh. A few moments of dead silence in the car and she recaptured her sanity – and then she looked over at him again. He was staring morosely at his shoe, wide eyes and flat, concentrated brow. All she saw though was the blond wig and little green suit. The snicker escaped her lips and he looked over at her again with just a little concern this time.
“I'm sorry,” she sputtered and covered her mouth as she laughed breathlessly. This was so absurd. Larn was never going to believe this. Finally, alone in a room with the hottest man alive and all she could do was laugh and not talk to him.
“What is it?”
She continued to laugh soundlessly, helplessly, red faced and shaking her head.
“What, do I have something on my face?” He wiped at his mouth and his little goatee. “Do I have a hole in my trousers or something?”
Jess didn't have her eyes open long enough to see if he would grab his crotch to investigate that possibility. They shut tight and little tears escaped the corners and the word 'trousers' spun around in her head making her giddy beyond reason. She hadn't inhaled in what seemed like forever and her chest hurt but she couldn't stop. She opened bleary eyes and saw Orlando's own face crack into a sideways smile as he chuckled just a little.
“What's so funny? You're making me self-conscious.”
That didn't help at all. She doubled up and tried to breathe. She tried to repeat those words back to him. Maybe he would hear how ridiculous it sounded, but she couldn't speak with collapsed lungs.
Jess finally breathed and sighed out the remaining giggles in a few more breaths, wiping the tears from her cheeks, beyond shame or embarrassment.
“I could use a good laugh myself at this point,” he seemed to say to no one in particular since Jess was largely unresponsive.
“I'm sorry,” she finally croaked out. “This is just not how I was expecting to spend my evening.”
“Oh. Well. That makes two of us. But is that what was so funny?”
She giggled again reflexively, a flash of blond wig and fierce blue eyes in her head. “I don't know,” she creaked through laugh-sore cheeks. “God...” she whispered to herself and let her head fall back to the wall panel.
Orlando chuffed once and seemed to regard the thin carpeted floor and the dirt in the corner. “So who are you Jessica? What happened that we're stuck in an elevator together?”
She swallowed hard on the last gulp of hilarity. “I'm meeting up with a friend. We're going to a concert tomorrow. Well. If we get out of here that is.”
“Nine Inch Nails.”
He let out a short laugh. “No I mean who's your friend.”
“Her name is Lauren. She's up on the thirty second floor.”
“Hm. Well you almost made it.”
“What about you?” Ok, that was good. That was brave. She mentally patted herself on the back. Maybe she could have a normal conversation after all.
“I'm visiting someone as well. We had dinner reservations.”
“Oh. Lauren and I hadn't thought that far ahead. We were just going to get together and get drunk.”
He smiled softly. “Yeah that was our plan for after dinner.”
She wanted to ask who but she was afraid of the answer.
“Actually... I should probably call...” He pulled a phone out of his pocket, flipped it open and in three keystrokes he had it to his ear. A pause, and Jess couldn't take her eyes off of him. His hair was tied back into a short ponytail but some of it had come loose and hung in his face in an inviting little curl. “Oi. It's me....Yeah. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it or not....No I'm in the building now. I'm stuck in the elevator....Yeah. They said we could be here a couple hours....yeah I know. Great place you got here,” he grinned into the phone. “Yeah....No. Shut up, Wanker. No. I'll call you if I die in here.... No you can't have my car if I die.” He smirked at Jess and rolled his eyes. “So just go out by yourself then. It's fine. You don't have to wait for me or anything. Your only friend in the world is trapped in an elevator and your going to go out, have dinner, and get pissed without him. That's real ace of you Lij....” Holy shit. “If I'm not then why are you going to go out by yourself?...Uh-huh.” He laughed out loud at something and that big gorgeous smile was all hers for a moment. “Yeah. Ok. No. Talk to you later.” He pocketed the phone and then looked at Jess who was looking at him. “Oh! Do you want to call your friend?” He pulled the phone out again and had it halfway and tentatively offered in her direction. “I mean. If you don't have a phone you can use mine if you want. Do you have her number?”
“Oh. No, that's ok. I have a phone.” She pulled her own out of her purse but cursed herself as she did. Should have taken the phone. You could have used Orlando Blooms cell phone you idiot! She called Lauren and was somewhat relieved to get her voice mail. If she had answered she probably would have been on that slippery slope toward hysterics again. She left a brief message that sounded ridiculous to her ears and quickly clicked off and put the phone away.
“So. I take it you already know a little bit about me.”
She blushed some more, or maybe she never stopped. “Yeah. A little.”
“Since we're going to be here a while, why don't we even that up a bit?”
The 'Oh my God' mantra in her head looped over and over. “Um. Ok.”
“Are you cold?”
“Oh. I am.” He took his crumpled jacket from where he had chucked it into the corner and put it on. She wouldn't think about the fact that he was cold but was going to offer her his jacket anyway until she was laying in bed that night, so many hours later, completely unable to sleep for playing the day over and over in her head.
It had been about two hours, probably about nine o'clock, when Jess realized that she wasn't blushing anymore. Finally. She told him about Connecticut, about Lauren, her insane brother, (she skipped over her parents) and he told her about England, Los Angeles, and the ways in which Johnny Depp is a weird fucker. She spent much of those two hours laughing, already hyped up from the previous hysterical outburst, but it wasn't all out mortification anymore at least. It felt like a normal conversation. At some point, he had scooted over to her side of the elevator floor to look at some pictures she had on her phone and she didn't even notice the close proximity until the speaker guy came back. He had been no closer to her than a stranger would sit near you on the train, but when she noticed she felt hot in the face again.
Orlando looked at her wide-eyed for a second when the speaker crackled. She stared at the fan of his eyelashes, and then flushed as she realized the reason she couldn't see more than his face in her field of vision was that he was sitting close enough to her she could conceivably count the hairs in his little soul patch, if she wanted to waste what were probably going to be her last few moments in his presence, that is. He scrambled across the floor of the elevator and picked up the phone.
The speaker faded out then back in with a pop.
“Hello. How are you guys doing up there?” He sounded like a disc jockey.
Orlando scowled at the speaker and Jess twisted around and got on her knees to gather her purse and bags and crutches together. “Brilliant, mate. Are we getting out of here or what?”
“Um. Not exactly.”
Perhaps there was time to count his facial hairs after all.
Orlando groaned a little.
“Our guy. He got into a car accident on the way here. Nothing serious, but he's tied up and the car is wrecked in the middle of 42nd Street. Has to file a police report and stuff...” At least he had the class to sound embarrassed about it.
“How long?” Orlando asked, resigned.
“Could be another couple of hours.”
“Seriously?” Ok, there was the dream of being trapped in a cozy room with Orlando Bloom, and then there was going too far. At this rate they'd spend enough time together in this one day to get to know each other, fall in love, get sick of each other, and by the time they were finally sprung they could treat each other like barely acquaintances again.
“Yeah. We're trying to find another elevator guy in the meantime. We're doing everything we can.”
“Yeah.... Ok.” He hung up and put his forehead on the wall. Jess crawled back to her spot on the opposite wall and twisted herself around, favoring her ankle, to rebuild her nest of shopping bags, purse and crutches, smoshing a crinkly paper bag with a sweater in it into the corner where it would support her back as soon as she got turned around... “I like your tattoo,” came the quiet admission from the other corner of the little metal box. Jess turned around and sat back against her stuff before it sank in what he was talking about. The shirt she was wearing always rode up in back. “Sorry,” he said and shook his head. And more amazing than the comment was that now he was blushing.
Jess grabbed the hem of her shirt and pulled it down a little, noticing when her hands reached self-consciously around to brush the ink on her back, that the waistband of her underwear came up higher than that of her pants. “Thanks,” she said, but felt the blush come back. Orlando Bloom just saw my underwear. Urge to giggle hysterically: rising, rising, rising...
“Did you get the purple heart for being wounded in active duty?” he asked with a shy smile, gesturing toward her swollen ankle.
“Heh. Yeah. Active duty playing beer pong.”
He laughed out loud with those glittering smiling eyes. She could not stop looking at him. Orlando crawled back over and sat next to her again, though not quite as cozily as before. “Well, what should we do to amuse ourselves now?”
“Um...I don't know. I wish I had a deck of cards or something.”
He made a noncommittal noise. “Where were you and Lauren going to go tonight?”
“Um...nowhere, I don't think.”
“Oh. You said you were going to go get drunk...” he shrugged. “I thought...”
Jess paused for a second.
Click, click, click...Bing! If Orlando could have heard her brain working it would have sounded like a tiny elevator in her head reaching the top and then cheerfully opening to the world.
Jess reached over to the bags behind and beside her, rustled through them, and she could feel Orlando's curious gaze on her, until she found the (heavy as hell and hard to carry on crutches) paper bag, and pulled out a dark bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Orlando looked at Jess, then at the bottle. Looked at the bottle a bit like a homeless orphan looks at a blanket.
Jess looked at Orlando, then at the bottle. Turned it a quarter turn to look at the label, then looked at him again helplessly smirking. He returned the regard, though. She wasn't going to suggest it. No. Ok.. Fine. “This could...keep us busy.” she said with an offhand shrug.
“That it could.” There was a hesitant pause. “I don't have a corkscrew,” he said at last. “You?”
“No. Do you have a knife or anything?”
“No.” He patted at his pockets. “I have a pen.”
Jess snickered. “I don't know if that's going to do it, man.”
“Well do you have a better idea?”
“I have...” She dug in her purse. “Nothing. I have a hairbrush.”
“Come on. I thought girls had everything in their purses. I thought they carried around superconductors and car parts in there as well as a full set of spanners and socket wrenches...” he said while taking the bottle from her and picking at the label with stubby fingernails.
“Here,” she said and took it back, tearing into the tight plastic with her own longer nails.
“Well, you've got that going for you. You don't need a pocket knife if you've got those I suppose.”
She ripped off the plastic and handed it back to Orlando who dug an expensive-looking pen out of his pocket and started unceremoniously digging into the wax seal on the cork. The wax broke apart easily and fell out. The cork however was not going to go quietly. Orlando braced the bottle on the floor and dug at it. He broke a few pieces of it off and picked them out with thick brown fingers and then stabbed at it with the pen again.
“I don't know if this is going to work,” he said after several minutes. He jabbed it back in there. “Do you think if I just pushed on it hard enough I could get the cork to fall into the bottle?”
“Um... I doubt it. You're going to break your pen.”
“That's ok. It will be worth it if we can get this open.”
“Yeah but...ink. All over, in the wine...”
“Mm. Good point.” He removed his cork-clogged pen and Jess eyed the blueish holes he had stabbed into the remaining plug.
Jess sighed dejectedly at the bottle. “I'm not giving up. I need a drink now more than I can remember ever needing a drink before, except maybe...like five other times.”
“Heh. Well, what can we use?”
Jess looked around their little cage. Trent Reznor was singing in her head. Further Down the Spiral.
She gasped and her eyes woke up. Jess snatched at one of the crutches and picked at the bolt on the handle.
“Brilliant!” he said and Jess couldn't help but smile. She heard him fumble around in his pockets behind her and then he put his hand over hers and her brain stopped working for a second. Then Orlando pulled the crutch away from her gently and took a coin, a British penny, and twisted it into the groove of the bolt head, loosening it until the bolt slid out and the rubber handle grip fell to the floor and rolled a few inches.
He jabbed the bolt into the hole his pen had dug in the cork and twisted and twisted, working hard, jacket creaking. He was breaking a sweat on his forehead actually. Looked nice on him too. The bolt embedded into the stubborn cork at least two inches, Orlando gripped the bottle tight with one hand and pulled on the bolt hard, and for a wonder, it slid and released the wine to the air with a gracious little 'pop'.
She felt like cheering, but bit her tongue.
“We'll just let this sit. Breathe a little,” he said with comic severity, “And let me put your thing back together here. That was brilliant by the way. I never would have thought of that.” The crutch came back together in just a moment, and he picked up the bottle again. “I wish we had glasses. We could toast to our success.” He handed it to her. “Your wine. You get the first gulp. Just leave a little for me ok?”
Another friggin' helpless giggle. She really needed to stop that. She took a swig from the bottle and handed it to him. He tipped the bottle gently against his own lips and that was when she realized that she was now going to be swapping spit with Orlando Fucking Bloom too. She really wished she could stop smiling so much. Her cheeks hurt. The wine helped though.
“I'm starving,” Jess said to the air, and then dug in her purse for the little mini snickers she remembered stashing in there some time ago. “You want half, she offered with a wry smile. He laughed and shook his head, took another gulp of the wine and sighed his head against the wall like a relaxed Labrador. Jess couldn't help but watch his throat as he swallowed once.
Her phone rang as she took another big, calming, head-rushing, empty-stomached drink and she quickly put the bottle back in Orlando's hands and shakily pulled it out of her purse, rushing to click it on before voice mail picked up.
“Hello?” She didn't even think to see who it was first.
“Jess!” came the shrill feathery voice. Nobody else in the world spoke with that combination of light, soprano tone and the musical intonation of a native speaker of Vietnamese without actually being a speaker of Vietnamese. She would know Larn's voice if it was chopped up, scrambled, remixed and melted with a side of hash browns. She wondered if Orlando knew what hash browns were.
“Jess where are you?”
“I'm in the elevator like I said.” Somehow it wasn't so hilarious anymore. It was just the state of things. It was fact.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah I'm fine,” she shrugged into the phone.
“How long are you going to be there?”
“I dunno.” Orlando was leaning in, listening, and not trying to hide it at all. Made her smirk.
“You sound funny. Are you alone in there?”
Jess looked at the bottle in front of them, nearly half gone in just a few minutes. Then looked at the olive-skinned beauty sitting next to her, watching her with liquid, completely unbashful eyes. And that was....yes, that was a pang of guilt. Ok, so the last month or so hadn't been so great. Men were pigs, (present company excluded) her job was annoying, and she'd sprained her ankles three times. Yes she was probably due for a piece of good luck, but she thought that was the concert. What, was she going to die tomorrow and God felt bad and decided to give her one last 'woo-hoo' before the end? Larn should be here to enjoy this with her. Really should.
“I'm fine. I'm just sitting here. It was kinda nice to get off my feet actually.”
“Oh....ok. Well...call me when you get out?”
“Can I take a picture with, with.... your phone?” he asked.
“You're so trashed,” she chuckled, limply handing her phone to Orlando. For an hour now he'd been blathering on about New Zealand and telling her story after story, not even finishing one before he started the next, each one getting progressively more difficult to understand.
“I am not,” he said with an indignant squeak.
“Yeah you are.”
“How does this thing work. It won't take the picture.” He had it pointed at the elevator door. And was pressing...something, but not the right thing. Then he turned the lens on himself and kept jabbing at the buttons but nothing was happening. He seemed to be good at that. “I am kind of a lightweight, I guess.”
“Hey. I don't get the opportunity to go out and get trollied very often anymore. I'm out of practice.”
“Uh-huh. So what happened to Billy?”
“Billy?” He looked like a confused puppy and his head wobbled ever so slightly.
“Yeah you were saying it was your first week in New Zealand... and you were in a bar and some big guys tried to pick a fight...” she droned the summary, trying to jog his memory.
“Oh, right! And so then Bill was just like WHAAAAA!” He made the cliché Kung Foo movie sound effects paired up with an equally ridiculous face and one hand posed in a lop-sided Crouching Tiger meets Hamster Style affectation above his head. And that was the moment when the phone, still clutched in his other hand, beeped at him. Jess just laughed and laughed. It probably had something, but not everything, to do with the wine. She had had half of it too, but she wasn't nearly as gone as he was.
“Are you serious? He just went all Jet Li and took them out?”
“No. I don't know what happened. I think that's about the time that I passed out. I really don't remember.”
“Oh my God,” she sighed for the twentieth time. He handed the phone back to her. She didn't look at the picture he took because he pulled out his own phone then, and took a picture of her, and showed it to her. It was mostly a close up of three quarters of her face with smiling eyes. It didn't look too bad considering how drunk he was.
“What's your phone number?”
Alcohol is wonderful padding for brick walls like that. If he had asked her for her phone number when she was sober she probably would have ended up on the floor. Which was okay, because she was on the floor now too. She gave him the number in a voice that would barely be audible in a space larger than an elevator car. He punched it into his phone, concentrating, with the pink tip of his tongue in the corner of pressed lips. He was like that for some time, spelling something out in his address book.
“It doesn't fit.”
“The Extraordinarily Beautiful Jessica Gionni.”
She swallowed. She looked at him and he stared back with an open face, just looking.
“I really have to pee,” he said then in a tiny voice.
She giggled at him silently again, only a smile betraying her. “Me too,” she whispered.
Another hour and they were both pretty uncomfortable.
“Maybe... I'll get up and walk around,” he said.
“That'll just make it worse.”
“Yeah. Just sit.”
He was still drunk. He reminded her of her brother a little and the way he needs someone to hold his hand when he's drunk to keep him from falling onto sharp objects, using himself as a yule log, or otherwise killing himself. She wondered, if the door opened, if she would have to grab him to keep him from stepping off into the elevator shaft. That didn't sound so bad actually.
“Hello?” Speaker guy was back. He better have good news this time or Jess was going to hang him with that phone cord.
Orlando picked up the phone. “Oi.” Jess snorted.
“Ok. The guy is here. Shouldn't be long now.”
“Everybody alright in there?”
“Yeah we're fine. Just get us out, yeah?”
“Ok. Working on it.”
Jess shoved the wasted cork pieces into the empty bottle and contemplated her Karma, and Orlando's. She was still wondering about that. Maybe it was now. Maybe the elevator would just free fall down the shaft and they'd both die. Maybe God was giving her the chance to do something crazy before the end.
Maybe he was just making up for all the shit. Either way they'd find out sooner or later.
And then the walls made a sound. The lights flickered once and the car sighed and came to life, going down.
“We're moving.” They both looked up to the ceiling as if they could see the sky receding above them if they looked hard enough.
When the doors opened a bare minute and a half later, a handful of guys in work uniforms and hotel uniforms greeted them in a cacophony of are you all right's and we're so sorry about that's and is there anything we can do for you's. They pushed past them all.
Jess dropped her bags on the lobby floor carelessly and faced east. There was a bathroom there. She knew there was, she used it when she arrived. Giving Orlando a glance she got on her crutches and ambulated in that direction as fast as her tripod of limbs would take her. Orlando was right behind her and they laughed at each other as one swung around the entrance to the left and one to the right.
When she emerged from the bathroom she felt she was a new woman, though still a fairly buzzed new woman. Then a familiar shape came trotting toward her, brown curls bouncing against her face. “Oh my God. Jess! They told me the guy was here. When did they get you out?”
“Just a minute ago.” She knew she was still smiling like a loon. Lauren winced. “Whatsamatter?”
“I had to walk down thirty-two flights of stairs. My feet are killing me!” She leaned over and started pulling her heels off one at a time, hindered by a knee length skirt.
“Thirty-one.” The voice came up from behind Jess, slightly slurred. “You walked down... thirty-one flights if you were on the thirty-shecond floor. Right? Right.”
Lauren's eyes got big when she turned her attention from her shoes to the smiling Englishman standing a familiar distance away from Jess. Jess turned back to him and gave him a grin. He put an arm companionably over her shoulders, which made her grin harder, somehow, just because they weren't in the private little box anymore.
When Jess looked back at Lauren she was still gaping and staring, blinking her dark eyes over and over. Jess giggled at her. “Orlando, this is Lauren, Lauren, Orlando.”
“So you're Lauren! Wonderful to meet you! Jess told me all about you.” He approached and hugged Lauren solidly. Jess watched her face and tried to stifle the bubbling giggles in her chest as she watched Lauren go from simple disbelief to looking like she was going to pop like a grape from overexposure to mind-bending events. As he let her go her face grew bright red with the dreaded furious blushing disease for which Orlando seemed to be a largely asymptomatic but highly contagious carrier.
“Well,” he said, and the laughter deflated in her. That was a final-sounding 'well.' “I should probably get going. Should go track down my...friend. He's probably so drunk by now he wouldn't be able to find his way back to the hotel on his own.” Jess nodded silently. “It was really nice meeting you.” A pause stretched out before them that didn't seem to want to be filled with anything at first. “It was...a unique pleasure,” he said softly with a smile. “And thank you for bringing the wine and sharing it with me. And I'm sorry you weren't there to join us,” he said to a still deer-eyed Lauren.
“Well, next time you're in Connecticut, you know...” They both chuckled a little at the melancholy absurdity of that idea.
“Yeah. I'll look you up.” It actually sounded sad. He looked it too. She wondered if he was simply reflecting what she was trying to hide in her own face with a pasted on half smile. It was a what-if that hung in the air. An impossible possibility.
He gave her a hug, and she didn't even implode when she felt warm lips and tickly hair on her cheek. He backed off a couple of steps, a long last look, before putting his hip against the brass revolving door of the lobby and heading off into the dark street.
“You just spent like five hours trapped in an elevator getting drunk with Orlando Bloom.” Her voice was as hysterical as Jess' had been five hours ago.
“Hey. I deserved it.”