Apparently, I have not updated this fic since July 19, 2005 forever. I hope some of you still remember it.

Title: Cafe on the Corner (14/?)
Author: Amre ([livejournal.com profile] dazzamre)
Pairing: Viggorli (brief mention of others)
Rating: overall R/NC-17
Summary: AU. A local coffee shop. An Open Mic Night. Anything could happen.
Feedback: It would be most welcome. :)
Disclaimer: Lies, lies! It’s all lies, I tell you!
Thanks to: [livejournal.com profile] dreamerren for the beta and convincing me that continuing this was not the worst idea I've ever had. This chapter is dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] sarkka who continued to check back for updates when there were invariably none.



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13



“You okay?” Liv asked, her shoulder bumping Orlando’s as she came to stand beside him. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, shrugging before looking back at the painting he’d been pretending to study. He’d escaped to one of the gallery’s back rooms, not only to avoid the crowd, but also Viggo. He’d spent so much time and energy on this opening, and the last thing Orlando wanted to do was detract from his big night. He wanted to be happy tonight and support Viggo, but he couldn’t pretend that everything was okay when it felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under him.

“Not to be the bearer of bad news,” Liv continued softly when Orlando didn’t say anything, “but Dom is here, too. He and Elijah just showed up.”

“Great. One more person to avoid,” Orlando muttered. This had easily been one of the worst nights of his life. Ever since Ian had dropped his bombshell, Orlando had been able to think of little else. He had been dreading seeing Dom because he wasn’t sure he could keep this to himself, even though he knew it would be better coming from Ian tomorrow. He’d only told Liv, which he was regretting as she shot him another sympathetic look, because he‘d still been in shock when she got home.

“I know it took you by surprise. Believe me, Ian leaving was the last thing I ever expected, but maybe it will all work out. You’re already imagining the worst-case scenario, Orli. Give it a chance,” Liv implored, giving his arm a squeeze and offering him a faint smile.

He knew there was truth in Liv’s words, but the shock still hadn’t worn off, and he wasn’t feeling overly optimistic about the whole thing yet. And even if things did turn out okay with the coffee shop, and Orlando wasn’t holding his breath about that, Ian would still be gone.

“The more I think about it,” Liv said, forging ahead despite Orlando’s reluctance to hold up his end of the conversation, “do you really think Ian would sell to some big chain or anything like that? He doesn’t want to see anything happen to the shop, either.”

“Yeah, well, lucky for him, he’ll be spared on the other side of the country,” Orlando said sulkily, ignoring Liv’s frown as he moved along the wall to the next painting. Undeterred, she followed behind him, arms crossed, clearly planning her next approach.

“Look, I appreciate what you’re trying to do, Liv,” Orlando said, trying to sound sincere and not as exasperated as he felt, “but, honestly, right now I just want to feel lousy about this. I don’t want to look on the bright side. I don’t want to be happy for Ian. I don’t want any of this to happen…”

“But it is,” Liv interrupted. “It’s going to happen whether you want it to or not, and sitting around brooding isn’t going to make you feel any better. You’re only going to get more and more depressed. What Ian does or what happens to the coffee shop, you can’t control that, but this,” she said, poking him in the arm, “this you can change. Don’t make yourself miserable for no reason.”

Orlando opened his mouth to object to her sudden outburst, but found himself, as he often was with Liv, at a loss for words.

“Hey, there you are,” grinned Sean, sliding an arm around Liv’s waist as he came to stand next to her. Seeming to sense the tension, he glanced back and forth between them for a second, raising his eyebrows slightly. “Did I interrupt something?”

“No,” Liv muttered, looking at the floor. When she finally met Orli’s eyes again, he gave her a grateful look. He didn’t need Liv to tell him that this wasn’t over, her expression made it loud and clear, but at least he’d put if off for awhile.

“This show is great. You found some really interesting pieces,” Orlando said, nodding to one of the paintings on the wall and trying to change the subject. He wasn’t sure that Sean was convinced that everything was okay, but he let it go, at least for now.

“Couldn’t have done it without Viggo,” Sean admitted. “”But I don’t have to tell you how much time he’s put into it.”

Orlando nodded. He’d hardly seen Viggo at all the last couple of weeks. He’d practically lived at the gallery, only coming home to shower and sleep. The one time this week they had managed to squeeze in dinner, Orlando had spent most of the time grilling Viggo about his parents who would be visiting next week. Orlando felt another small wave of panic wash over him at the thought.

“Well, I need to mingle. Sell some paintings,” Sean grinned, pecking Liv on the lips. “See you later,” he murmured to her, and then winked at Orlando before heading back into the main gallery area.

Despite the argument they’d been having, Orlando couldn’t help noticing how happy Liv looked as she watched Sean leave. Her smile faded, though, as she turned back to him, ready to pick up where she’d left off.

“Liv, please,” he begged. “Can we just not do this tonight? I just…I don’t want to think about it, okay?”

Liv hesitated, then nodded. “I just worry about you,” she said softly.

Orlando draped an arm across her shoulders and hugged her. “I know, and I love you for it, but I just need some time to let it all sink in. Everyone else is going to find out tomorrow…maybe that’ll make it easier.”

“How do you think the others will take it?” she asked, biting her bottom lip as she glanced at him.

“Better than me, I hope,” Orlando said, cracking his first smile of the night that wasn’t faked.

The rest of the evening passed pretty uneventfully, for which Orlando was thankful. Dom and Lij ducked out after half an hour or so, and he was finally able to shake Liv when the photographer from the paper showed up, forcing her to concentrate on work and not him. Viggo was busy chatting with prospective buyers and, though he caught Orli’s eyes a few times, smiling at him from across the room, he didn’t have a chance to corner him until just before closing. The crowd had thinned, with only a few indecisive patrons lingering near paintings they’d been eyeing for the better part of the night.

“Good night?” Orlando asked, grinning at Viggo as he loosened his tie, his suit jacket, which had come off almost immediately, draped over one arm. He looked nice, Orlando mused thoughtfully, but in all honesty he preferred Viggo in painting mode, barefoot in jeans with a paint splattered t-shirt, the odd smear of color across his face, completely absorbed in his creation.

“We made some big sales,” Viggo acknowledged. He was smiling, but his voice was low, a tone Orlando had learned by now meant he had something on his mind. “Sean’s going to close up,” he said, nodding across the room to where Sean and Liv were talking to a couple Orlando didn’t recognize. “You ready to go?”

Orlando nodded, catching Liv’s eye and waving bye, pretending to ignore her mouthed “call me,” as he followed Viggo out of the gallery. Their breath turned to fog as they hurried through the night to the promised warmth of the car. Orlando slid into the passenger’s seat, fastening his seatbelt and holding his cold hands up to the vent as Viggo started the car, giving it a minute before slowly pulling out of the parking lot.

Orlando had grown accustomed to Viggo’s contemplative silences, but the quietness in the car was a little unnerving. They had been driving for a while before Viggo finally spoke. “What’s wrong, Orli?” he asked quietly, not taking his eyes off the road, but somehow still managing to let him know he had his full attention.

Orlando sighed, wishing he could just forget about all this, at least for tonight. He knew that if he didn’t want to talk about it, Viggo wouldn’t push him, but Viggo had the right to know why he was in such a lousy mood. So instead of lying and telling him everything was okay, which is what he really wanted to do, he took a deep breath and started from the beginning, telling Viggo about Ian’s call that afternoon and everything that had happened since. Viggo didn’t interrupt; he just let him tell the story at his own pace. By the time he had finished, Viggo was pulling into his driveway, and Orlando felt both completely drained and as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Viggo asked, not sounding hurt, exactly, as he looked at Orlando, only a little confused. “You must have been miserable tonight.”

Orlando smiled despite himself, touched, but not surprised by Viggo’s concern. “This was your big night,” Orlando explained as they both climbed from the car, Viggo’s keys jangling as they made their way to the door. “You’ve worked so hard on this, I just wanted you to be able to enjoy it. I know how important this opening was to you. Besides, Liv thinks I’m overreacting, which I probably am, so…”

Viggo unlocked the door and flipped on the lights, waiting until Orlando had closed the door behind them before he said anything. “Your being there tonight meant a lot to me,” he said softly, squeezing Orli’s fingers, his hand running up his arm until it rested on his shoulder. “But I want to know if something’s bothering you, especially something this big. And, for the record, I don’t think you’re overreacting. This is a huge part of your life, you have every right to be worried.”

Instead of giving in to the permission Viggo had given him to worry, Orlando felt a sudden calmness fall over him. Maybe it was the soothing way Viggo spoke to him, or the gentle caress of his thumb against his neck, but Orlando came to the sudden realization that whatever happened, he’d still have Viggo. It really didn’t matter if everything else was falling to pieces as long as Viggo was there to help him put it all back together.

“Thank you,” Orlando whispered, smiling at Viggo before letting his lips brush against his.

“What for?” Viggo asked, pulling back as much as Orlando would let him, but not making any real effort to put any distance between them.

“Being you,” Orli said simply, hoping that would be enough explanation for his boyfriend, not sure if he could put into words the way he was feeling at the moment. It seemed to suffice as Viggo dipped his head and kissed him again.

Viggo broke away at last, biting back a yawn unsuccessfully. “Guess I’m more tired than I thought,” he grinned. Orlando knew that Viggo had spent all day at the gallery making sure everything was perfect for tonight, and he doubted, from the few nights he’d spent there, that Viggo had had a good night’s sleep all week.

Orlando didn’t say anything, just turned and made his way quietly to the bedroom. Viggo followed a few steps behind. They undressed in silence, Viggo’s eyes twinkling as Orlando’s met his in the dimly lit room. He watched with a mixture of concern and amusement as Viggo more or less collapsed on the bed, climbing in beside him and giving him one last goodnight kiss.

“Night,” Viggo whispered as Orli settled into what had become his side of the bed.

Viggo was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. Orlando turned off the bedside lamp, and lay in the darkness for a long time, just listening to the even rhythm of Viggo’s breathing. It felt like a lifetime had passed since his lunch with Liv earlier in the day, and he’d been on an emotional roller coaster ride for the last few hours. Right now, in this moment, he was happy. Next week, things would be crazy again, with Viggo’s parents here, and Henry staying with his dad during their visit. Orlando still wasn’t looking forward to it, but they’d manage. And things were far from settled with the coffee shop, but he didn’t have to deal with that alone; he had Viggo, Liv, and Dom…even Ian. He had to believe that Liv was right and that it would all work out in the end.

Orlando yawned, the events of the day finally catching up with him. He rolled onto his stomach, fluffing the pillow beneath his head, trying not to disturb Viggo. He closed his eyes, hoping that his newfound optimism would still be with him in the morning, and let himself drift off to sleep.

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