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The Demise of Orlando Bloom Part II


“So I’m a little left of center,

I’m a little out of tune…

Some say I’m paranormal,

so I just bend their spoon…”

 

Orlando Bloom woke up to the sound of someone singing. And the smell of something cooking.

Cooking? What the fuck?

He started to stretch when his arm collided with a hard barrier on his right side.

Wha-

He opened his bleary eyes and saw that he was lying down on a couch. Not a couch.

Hero’s couch.

Shit, I must have dozed off last night.

He had kicked the blankets off him at some point in time, and they were thrown haphazardly on the floor. As he stretched out his left arm to pick them up, the music in the kitchen (he finally figured out where it was coming from) became clearer.

 

“Who wants to be ordinary,

in a crazy mixed up world…

I don’t care what they’re saying,

as long as I’m your girl…”

 

Sitting up, he noticed his shoes were arranged neatly beside the couch.

She must’ve taken it off last night.

He suddenly had the crazy urge to grin, and grin he did as he went to investigate what was transpiring in the kitchen.

 

“Hey, you were on my side,

They, they just roll their eyes…”

 

The minute Hero woke up that morning, she decided it was a good day to cook a decent meal for breakfast, which she hasn’t done in a long time.

Definitely not because Orli’s around. I mean, he’s always around, why should today be any different? Right?

Contrary to popular opinion, she was able to prepare an edible meal without burning everything in sight. Her culinary abilities only covered boiling and frying though. At the moment, the CD player, which she had brought to the kitchen the minute she understood that leaving it in the living room would certainly wake up her gorgeous yet sleeping pal, was at the moment playing her Michelle Branch album as she was frying the bacon.

This must’ve been in the freezer for the longest time, she thought smilingly as she launched into another verse of You Get Me.

 

“Yoooouuu get me…

When nobody understands,

You come and take the chance…”

 

He made his way to the kitchen and saw the source of the music. And the cooking. A CD player was blaring on the counter top, playing some pop-alternative music by some chick. And a woman was standing in front of the stove, barefoot as usual, wearing a tank top and drawstring pants, as usual, with her hair in a braid pulled back by a bandana. Hero was singing, and cooking something which smelled really good, he had to admit. This was too good to pass. He leaned against the doorframe and proceeded to enjoy the show.

 

>Then she got a prickling sensation in the back of her neck. She turned her head to see a very rumpled-looking Orli with his dark hair standing on end and his hands trying to smooth it in place, while leaning on the doorway. He grinned at her and she grinned back. She was in the mood for singing today, and nothing was going to stand in her way. Not even Orlando Bloom in her house. She was going to have some fun.

 

“Baby, yooooouuu get me…

You look inside my wild mind,

Never knowing what you’ll find,

And still you want me all the time, yeah you do,

Coz you get me…”

 

She was singing to him.

Really.

She faced him with the fork that she was using and looked at him straight in the eye. And sang to him.

Oh God. Is she trying to kill me first thing in the morning?

Then it hit him, like a runaway train. There, standing in the kitchen of a woman he never knew existed two months ago, barefoot in his rumpled clothes…

BAM!

He was irreversibly, hopelessly attracted to Hero Guevarra. There was no use denying it. He had been attracted to her the minute they bumped into each other. That’s why he couldn’t keep away. No way in hell he could keep away.

Fuck. I’m screwed.

Hero, who decided to tease Orli by singing to him, noticed the shocked look on his face. She laughed and stopped singing, lowered the volume of the CD player, and said, “Hey, I know I’m not a diva, but me being able to sing is not that shocking!”

She turned back to the skillet, where the bacon was slowly turning into that wonderful reddish-brown color.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Now that he finally got it through his thick head that he was attracted to her, it was something he couldn’t turn off. His brain suddenly started registering all sorts of things that never occurred to him for the past month and two weeks. Well, not really. They did register, but he tried ignoring them. Like the curve of her spine, for instance. Or the flare of her hips. And her voice. God. Not just her singing voice, mind you. Her speaking voice! He was getting the shivers just listening to her talk!

Not good. Not good at all.

He got a particularly strong urge to smoke, and then he realized she was speaking to him, and he didn’t hear.

Again.

“Pardon me?” he asked with a strangled voice.

She turned her head back to look at him. The look of shock had been replaced by panic.

“What’s wrong with you?”

The minute she asked him that, all traces of worry were erased from his face, replaced by a lazy grin.

Very good acting, she thought.

Very dangerous.

“Nothing,” he replied.

Nothing my ass. Suit yourself Orlando Bloom. You can’t fool me.

“Hey, why’d you stop singing?” he asked, walking to the fridge to get a handful of M&Ms from her chocolate hoard, gobbled it all up, and then walked to the stove to peer in the pan.

“Looks quite edible,” he teased.

“’Course it looks edible! I’m eating it. I was merely saving my burning skills for you,” she retorted. He sneaked a piece of bacon from the plate of cooked ones.

“Hey!” Hero exclaimed. “There you go again mooching my food!”

He merely grinned and took a bite of it.

“Actually edible. Wow,” he whispered, with a look of mock rapture on his face. She gave him a stunned look.

“What?” he asked.

“I thought you were a vegetarian?”

“Mainly. But when it suits me, I’m an omnivore too like the rest of the human race,” he replied as he gobbled up the rest of his bacon. As he was preparing to get another one, he got a slap on the hand.

“If you wanna eat, set the table.”

“Me? Set the table?”

“Yes, your highness. As long as you’re in my turf, you get to do menial chores like the rest of us mere mortals do.”

“This is how you treat the love of your…”

“If you don’t stop it with that love of your life bit, so help me god, I’m gonna give a right cross.”

He laughed as he started to get the utensils and prepared the table.

“So, did you sleep well?” Hero asked.

“Relatively well, considering I was stretched out on a couch that was a foot or so shorter than I am.”

Hero snorted. “You could’ve slept in the guest room.”

“I didn’t actually do it on purpose, you know,” he replied grinningly. Silence. Then, out of the blue, “Ro?”

“Yeah?”

“Have you ever been in love?”

Fuck. Where did that come from?

“Er, I mean, do you have a boyfriend back home?”

Worse. Shit. Just shut your fucking mouth.

He felt worse when he saw her turn her head to look at him and raised an eyebrow.

“Why do you ask?” she said.

“Just wondering. I mean, we’re friends, right? You don’t mind if I ask you about these matters?”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s okay…you asking, that is.”

It’s just that your question completely blew me away.

She laughed softly. “It’s just, it’s like a question from those slum books. What is love? Have you ever been in love? With whom?

She shook her head, still laughing. “You are weird to talk to first thing in the morning, Bloom.”

He frowned. “So? Have you?”

“Which question am I supposed to answer?”

“Question number one: do you have a boyfriend back home?”

“Umm…not really.”

“Not really? What the hell does that mean?”

Shit. I sound like an idiot! But you started it, you damn well better finish it!

“No.”

“You sure?” he asked, trying to erase all traces of anxiety in his voice.

“No. No, I do not have a boyfriend back home. You?”

“No, I do not have a boyfriend…well, Lij would like to think so, but…”

Thwap.

“What the hell?”

Evil glare.

He laughed and said, “You really are a lousy fan! I thought you were supposed to know things like that?”

He went to the cupboard where his personal stash of coffee was. Hero still refused to buy coffee for him so he had to bring over some from his apartment.

“Answer the damned question.”

He started preparing his coffee, which was of the instant kind, considering Hero didn’t have a coffemaker.

“No! I don’t have a girlfriend. Hell, at the rate the tabloids are going with this crap about us, I probably couldn’t even pick up a girl even if I danced naked in front of her.”

Brain freeze. Her imagination got the best of her for a few seconds and she had this crazy grin on her face. Thank god she decided to turn back to her cooking or she would’ve been caught for sure. She mentally shook herself and decided to tease him.

“You wanna try that? Let’s see you get trampled over. No, better not. The bobbies would arrest you for causing a national emergency.”

But she was inwardly smiling at his answer and then wrinkled her nose as she smelled his coffee. He continued, “How about the first question?”

She looked at him. “Yeah. I’ve been in love.”

He fell silent for a moment, and then he asked, “So what happened?”

“Nothing.”

He raised an eyebrow at her as he pulled out a chair and put his cup on the table. “What do you mean nothing?”

“Just that. Nothing. It was funny actually. He fell in love with me but then I didn’t love him back. When I did fall in love with him, I didn’t tell him.”

Why the hell not?”

“I thought it was the right thing to do.”

“Why would you say that? What if he still loves you? What if he was just waiting for a sign? What if he’s still waiting for a sign?”

He inwardly winced at his last statement.

“Doubtful. Very doubtful. And anyway, I got over him,” she said, putting the rest of the bacon on the plate and then bringing it to the table, where an omelette lay. Then she went around getting bread and graham crackers, as well as the milk in the fridge.

He suddenly felt giddy. “How long were you crazy over him?”

“Why the sudden curiosity about my love life, huh?”

“Hey, come on! You can’t just leave me hanging like that!”

“I can. And I just did. Your turn.”

“What was the question?”

She gave him a look as she sat down. She didn’t want to ask about Joanne, the only Orli girlfriend she knew about so she decided to play it safe.

“How did you know you were in love?”

“With which girl?”

“See? That’s something that always boggles my mind. How do you know if it was true love? I mean, you fall in and out of love so many times it just feels normal! Nothing spectacular about it anymore!”

“You’re mixing up love with being in love. I’ve been in love, but I don’t think I’ve ever really loved,” he said, opening his plate and getting some graham crackers.

Then he kidded, “Love…is a many-splendored thing! Love lifts us up where we belong!” knowing how much she loved Moulin Rouge. Two weeks ago, they watched it twice and she cried both times. “All you need is love,” they finished simultaneously, then laughed, defusing the quite serious atmosphere.

“What are you doing today?” he asked, hastily changing the subject that came out from a particularly stupid moment of his, as he slowly chewed his food.

“I dunno. Probably do the groceries and then hang out at the Gardens. I feel like sketching something. What are you doing today?” she asked as she took a sip of her milk.

He shrugged. “Nothing.”

“No meetings with Fiona? No interviews at the TV station?”

He shook his head and then said, “Nada. One of the scarce days when I’m actually free.” Then, “Can I tag along with you?”

She raised an eyebrow.

He sighed.

“What?” she asked.

“It’s your eyebrow-raising…thing!”

“What about it?”

“It’s been bugging me since you started doing it when I first met you.”

“So what? It’s just an eyebrow!”

“Every time you do that, it makes me feel like the vilest scum on earth.”

The minute he said that, she erupted in gales of laughter, then replied, “Really?”

Then she did it over and over again.

“Stop it.”

Then, “So, can I come with you?”

Hero grinned. “Sure you’re up to it? It’s risking your present relatively normal life for another shot at the tabloids if anyone sees us together out there.”

“Who cares? They’re already making up stories about us anyway. Might as well enjoy it,” he said, grinning back.

“Fiona’d have our hides.”

“I’ll hire another agent,” he replied, finishing his breakfast.

“You’re hopeless,” said Hero, shaking her head. She drank the last drop of her milk and stood up, bringing her dirty plate and utensils to the sink.

“Let me do the dishes,” Orli offered.

“That was actually my intention, dear, but thanks for volunteering,” Hero replied.

“But don’t fret, we have the dishwasher,” she quipped.

“Fancy that. And I was prepared to roll back my sleeves and get elbow-deep in suds.”

Laughter. Then Hero said, “I’ll just go take a shower. I’ll be done in ten.”

“Take your time, I won’t be going anywhere.”

“It’s not you I’m worried about…it’s the havoc you’ll wreak in my kitchen.”

He glared and she teased, “Don’t try to short-circuit anything, aiight?” as she strode out of the kitchen. A few minutes later, he heard the bathroom door slam.

Oh Bloom, what in the fuck are you getting yourself into?

 

A freshly showered Orli and Hero were arguing yet again at the frozen food section of Drake’s. Orli had on his clothes from when he picked her up yesterday, and Hero still had on the same clothes, putting on a windbreaker and her sneakers. The point of contention was the fact that Hero wanted to buy a particular brand of chicken nuggets.

“I’m telling you, you’ll just be wasting your money.”

“How do you know? When did you even get the chance to cook, much less eat, chicken nuggets? And what’s it to you, anyway? I’m gonna be the one eating it, not you!”

“Not if you decide to cook it for when I’m there! And I could eat it if I wanted to!”

“Look, news flash. I’m doing my grocery shopping, you are tagging along. I will buy what I want to buy, and you will withhold judgment until you do your own grocery shopping.”

Just then, someone said, “You tell him, love!”

It was a middle-aged woman who was shopping with a man who was probably her husband. “If you give them too much leeway during the first year, they’ll walk all over you for the rest of your lives.”

Hero and Orli stared at the woman, and the man who was smilingly shaking his head as he walked away.

“Excuse me?” Hero asked.

The woman nodded knowledgeably. “Newly married, aren’t you? I know the feeling,” she whispered conspiratorially and continued. “The first year is always the hardest, you have to adjust to each other’s personalities and…”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but we’re not married,” Orli interrupted her.

“Oh?” The woman raised her eyebrows.

“We’re not living together either,” Hero hastily added, knowing what was going on inside the woman’s head.

“But what we are is leaving now. Excuse us,” Orli said and tugged Hero away, leaving the woman with a strange smile on her face.

“Hey! Hey, you’re wrinkling the polyester!” Hero exclaimed laughingly as she tried to disengage her arm from Orli’s grip. Then she started giggling crazily.

He frowned at her. “What the hell is so funny?”

“You are! I cannot believe you let her get to you!” She shook her head smilingly as Orli retrieved a pack of coffee and put it in the basket.

Then she teased, “If this is what being married is, then I don’t wanna get married.”

He got into the program and said, “Shucks. And here I was preparing to propose to you in the middle of the frozen food section.”

They both found that funny, but neither noticed the forced note in each other’s laughter.

 

Forty-five minutes later, they were in Kensington Gardens in front of the notorious fountain where Lij pushed Orli in a month ago. After bringing home the groceries, Hero retrieved her sketchbook, art supplies and a blanket while Orli got some food and drinks, loaded them in the Mustang and waited for her in the car.

Situated under a particularly large tree, Hero was Indian-seated on the blanket, sketching a child playing with his boat a couple of meters away while Orli was dozing off beside her with his arms pillowing his head. A few minutes later, she drew the last strokes and was done. Orli, noticing the absence of charcoal scratching, opened an eye and asked, “You done?”

“Yeah,” she replied, starting to draw another subject, this time, the notorious fountain.

“Let me see.”

“Later. When I’m done with everything.”

Just then, an idea occurred to her.

“Hey, mind if I draw you?”

He opened both eyes. “What?”

“Can I sketch you?” she asked, already starting the first strokes for his forehead.

“No!” he exclaimed, covering his face with his hands laughingly.

“What’s the matter with you? It’s just a sketch! I promise it’ll be a quick one.”

“Fine. Fine. What do you want me to do?” He was getting uncomfortable with the thought of her dark brown eyes scrutinizing every crevice of his profile.

“Just go to sleep,” she suggested, filling in the dark shadows of his eyebrows.

“I can’t go to sleep with you doing that!”

“Doing what? It’s just a sketch! Why don’t I see you reacting like this when someone takes your picture, huh? It’s the same principle!”

She was now halfway through the sketch.

“It doesn’t take people thirty minutes to take a picture,” he grumbled.

“Give me two more minutes and I’m done,” she said, but she wasn’t looking at him anymore, letting her imagination do the work. High cheekbones…thin lips…he became a mere subject to her. Orli, for his part, was staring at her yet again, her eyes concentrating on the paper, her right hand working furiously, her tongue…

what the hell?

He groaned and covered his eyes with his right arm.

You are sick, Bloom. A few seconds of staring at her and you regress to a Neanderthal.

“What?” she asked when she heard him groan, not taking her eyes off her work. “What are you groaning about?”

I want to kiss you, that’s why!

“Nothing, don’t mind me.”

“You know, I think I’ve gotten thirty or so nothings from you since yesterday. Is there something bothering you?”

She was almost done.

YOU are bothering me! But I don’t think you’d want to know that. “Nothing.”

She gave him a look. Then, “Okay, I’m done,” and she flipped back to the page where she started sketching the fountain.

He sat up. “That was fast. Let me see.”

“Not until you tell me what’s bothering you,” she said, not looking at him, concentrating once again on the task at hand.

“What? That’s blackmail!”

“So? It’s my drawing. I can do whatever I want with it,” she replied flippantly.

“It’s a drawing of me! I should have some sort of intellectual property right on it or something,” he whined, then stopped himself.

I’m whining now? Fuck, I’m twenty-six and I’m whining?!?

It would seem that Hero also noticed, judging from the slow smile on her lips. Thinking of her lips made him think of kissing again, which made him stand up instead.

“Giving up so easily?” she asked, looking up at him.

“For now. I’m going for a walk. Be back in a while,” he said, and left her there with a puzzled expression on her face.

 

Fuck this, Hero thought as she stared at Orli walking away. She took out her cellphone and dialed Iris’ number. After a couple of rings, a harassed sounding voice answered, “Yeah?”

“Hey, it’s me. Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“If bad time means a fight with a bitch of a sister, then yes, you caught me at a bad time.”

“Okay, I’ll call you later then,” Hero said, starting to hang up when Iris said, “No! No, wait, wait. It’s okay. I’d rather talk to you than her,” she seethed.

Then, after taking a deep breath, she asked, “So, what’s up?”

“I just wanna ask your opinion on something.” Hero started biting a fingernail as she saw Orli jogging in the distance.

“About?”

“Something that’s been bothering Alex,” she lied.

Better you than me, Lex, she thought, knowing Iris would never call Alex.

“Alex?”

Slight pause, then, “What?”

“Well, there’s this guy she’s been hanging around with for a few weeks…”

“And…?”

“They’ve become good friends, and they’ve been real comfortable with each other the whole time.”

“Define real comfortable.”

“You know, like going to places together, hanging out in each other’s houses, that sort of thing. Nothing romantic,” she added hastily.

“Alright.”

“Well, Alex told me,” she inwardly cringed as she thought of what she was doing, “That he started acting weird all of a sudden.”

“Define weird.”

“Strange looks, moments of silence, and when she asks him if anything’s wrong, he says nothing.”

“Nothing as in nada? Zip? No answer?”

“Nothing as in the word nothing.”

“Oh.”

“So? What do you think? What’s wrong with him?”

Orli was now nowhere in sight.

“Maybe he has a problem he doesn’t want her to know about,” Iris replied shrewdly, immediately grasping the situation for what it really was.

“I know! I…I mean, she told him that,” she replied hastily. Iris laughed at her slip.

“Come on! Do you think I’m an idiot or something? I know you’re talking about you and Orli! Don’t spare my feelings, please.”

Hero cringed upon discovery. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have lied.”

“Whatever. So what’s the juice?”

“I already told you. He’s acting weird all of a sudden. Like yesterday, when we went to that party thing of Viggo’s, I caught him staring at me weird numerous times. And then he was so silent! Or like he got irritable all of a sudden. Weird.”

Iris snickered and said, “Maybe he just realized he was hanging out with the wrong girl…that he should be hanging out with me!”

Hero smiled. “Maybe. But I’m reminding you, Lij did ask about you last night.”

“Whatever. Let’s not change the subject. What else?”

>“Well, just right now, I was sketching him, see?”

“Where are you, by the way?”

“The Gardens.”

“The hell? Both of you are getting cozy there in fucking Kensington Gardens?”

Hero rolled her eyes and replied, “We are not getting cozy. Actually, he just up and left me.”

“No way?!?” Iris exclaimed sarcastically.

“Yes way. I was sketching him, and then I caught him looking at me weird again, and when I asked him what was up, he said nothing for like the nth time, so when I finished the sketch and he wanted to see, I told him I’d show it to him if he told me what was bothering him. And then he started whining…”

“He was whining?

“Something like that. But then I think he realized it himself and then he suddenly stood up and said he was going for a walk or something.”

Iris was silent for a few seconds, then said, “Weirdness.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

Suddenly, Iris barked with laughter.

“What? What?!?” Hero frantically asked.

“I finally figured it out!” Iris crowed. “Damn, the realization is frying my brains right now, it’s such a miracle!”

What?”

“No way am I telling you. Number one, you fibbed to me. I owe you a fib of my own. Number two, I think in the back of your mind, you already know what’s wrong with him, you’re just scared to say it out loud.”

“That is so unfair! I called you to ask for your opinion and then you don’t tell me?!?”

“Dude, I swear you’re better off not knowing. What if I was wrong?”

“Just tell me!”

“Hey, so what about that Japan thing you neglected to tell me about last night, huh?”

“You’re damn well changing the subject!”

“So what? You do it all the time!” She got Hero there. “So? Tell! You’re going to the premiere, right?”

Hero sighed. There was no holding back Iris once she sets her mind on something.

Well, two can play this game.

“Yeah, Lij asked me to.”

Lij? No way!”

“Way. He wants me to tell him more about you. I think he’s planning to come by the Philippines to see you or something,” Hero teased.

Iris was silent for a full minute, then, “You’re putting me on.”

“Actually, I wasn’t putting you on about the him-being-interested-in-you thing.”

“What did he say exactly?”

At last.

“Well, if I remember correctly, he said something like ‘you gotta tell me more about your friend Iris.’”

“He did not!”

“He did too!” Hero was grinning now, all worries about Orli forgotten for a moment. Then a thought occurred to her.

“Hey, what if you go to Japan for the premiere?”

“I swear, knowing you people is putting a major crimp on my savings.”

Major crimp? Hell, you could tour the world ten times over and still live a relatively well-off life till the day you die!”

Iris laughed. “Yeah, but if I do this any oftener, I’m gonna get fired. There goes the relatively well-off life down the drain.”

“Come on! Just this once?” Then she added, “Lij is gonna be there, and he’s majorly interested in you.”

“Bite me.”

“Orli’s gonna be there.”

“That’s more like it.” Then, “Hey, what if I bring Mushu with me? Bree’s gonna be there. It’ll be fun!”

“Great! Yeah, bring Mushu! Tell her she can even kill me in front of Orli if she wants to,” she kidded. Then they started making the plans excitedly, but then Hero noticed Orli on his way back from the corner of her eye.

“Dude, I gotta blaze. His royal weirdness is coming over.”

“Oh yeah? Say hi to him for me.”

“I will.”

“Hey, wait, wait! I wanna talk to him. You think he’ll want to?”

“Let’s see,” Hero whispered as Orli sat down beside her, smiling to himself.

“Hey you,” she greeted him. “What are you smiling about this time?”

Orli looked at her, still smiling and said…you got it. “Nothing.”

“Argh!” Hero screamed. She started whacking him on the shoulder with the cellphone, with him laughingly dodging her blows. Then Hero remembered Iris. “Hey, is it okay with you if you talk to Iris?”

He was still laughing when she handed him the phone. “Hello, Iris? How are you? I’m fine. Yes…You? Oh yeah, she’s coming with us to Japan next week. You are?”

He looked at Hero who was grinning at him, and before his brain shut down again, he looked at the fountain.

“Really? That’s great! I know Lij will be delighted to see you,” he teased.

Then he laughed. “Why? What’d she tell you?”

Pause.

Then, “So that’s what they were whispering about last night.”

Hero continued with her sketch of the fountain, listening to the sound of Orli’s voice.

“No, really, I think you’d be a good influence on the little twerp.”

Laughter.

“Huh? She did?”

He sneaked a peek at her, who was concentrating on the fountain.

“No, nothing. Nothing. Really.”

After a few more minutes, Orli said goodbye and handed the phone back to Hero, lying back down on the blanket.

“Yeah?” Hero asked.

“You are such a bunch, I swear!”

“What?”

“What the hell is going on? Pair-off-Iris-to-Lij week?”

Hero laughed and Orli smiled at the sound of it. “Sorry, dude, I don’t know what he’s been telling Elf boy but I know what he told me.”

“Whatever.”

“Okay, suit yourself. But don’t kill me when I say I told you so.”

“Whatever times three. Hey, don’t you have something important to do, like buzz off?”

“Okay, I get the drift. Say hi to Mara for me.”

“I’m not talking to that bitch.”

“She’s your sister. The fact that she’s a bitch shouldn’t come as any surprise to you.”

“You should know, huh? Yeah, I’ll tell her when I do talk to her…which will be next year?”

Hero laughed and said goodbye. She then took up the charcoal yet again and continued sketching. Just then, at the corner of her eye, she noticed a flash go off a few trees ahead. She immediately stood up, dropping the sketchbook on Orli’s head (“OW!”) and squinted to see what it was.

Yup. Another one of those paparazzi dogs.

“What’s wrong?” Orli asked, rubbing his forehead.

“I think your best friends just caught us again.”

“Huh?”

She pointed at the trees and he looked that way, squinting in turn and finally discerning a brown coat behind a large oak. He laughed and rolled back to face her. She was looking at him strangely.

“Aren’t you gonna do anything about it?”

“Like what?”

“I dunno.”

“Is it bothering you?”

She shrugged. “Not really. I mean, I kinda got used to it somehow. They already married us off anyway. What’s the worst thing that they could possibly come up with?”

“They what?”

She grinned at the shocked look on his face. “They wrote about a week or so ago that I’m two months pregnant and that we got married in this secret wedding in the Bahamas or some crap like that.”

Two months pregnant. Married. I. Am. Losing. It.

He groaned again.

Please don’t let me go off on a run again.

“I know! How imaginative, huh?”

He grunted. “Very.”

Then, riiiinnnngggg!

It was Orli’s cellphone.

A strange voice said, “Mr. Bloom.”

He sat up. “Who’s this?”

“You don’t know me but I know you,” the voice continued in a strange whisper. “And I see you. Looking very cozy with Ms. Guevarra.”

What the fuck?

He looked at his phone to see the number and then, “Fuck you, Elijah Wood!”

Laughter and the sound of someone falling. Hero looked up to see three people tumble down beside the oak tree. Orli glared at them and barked at the phone, “Very funny. You can actually make a living as a peeping-tom now, Lij.”

Lij was snorting with laughter. Orli could now see clearly that it was indeed Lij beside the oak tree with Dom and Billy brushing themselves off.

“Sorry, dude, couldn’t help it.”

“Come over here so I can kill you,” Orli said through gritted teeth, but he couldn’t keep on being mad for long. Hero was roaring with laughter beside him as soon she realized what had happened. Lij hung up the phone and the three ambled towards Orli, who was still glaring at them, and Hero, who was lying down on the blanket, still laughing hysterically.

The minute Lij was a few meters away, Orli jumped up and tackled him, bringing Dom and Billy down at the same time, who followed Lij close behind. Orli was crying out, “I swear to God!” while the rest were rolling on the grass, laughing.

 

A few minutes later, they were on their way to where the cars where parked, with Orli keeping a tight grip behind Lij’s neck in case he decided to try another stunt, but that wasn’t the only reason. The hobbits just came from Viggo’s pad and decided to drop by Orli’s for lunch, with Chase driving them. It would seem that Chase was around for the week before flying back to New York at the same time as the Fellowship would be leaving for Japan. Finding neither Orli nor Hero at home, they decided to take a chance and cruise by the Gardens, and noticed the Mustang.

Leaving behind Chase in the car, they decided to play their practical joke, which was entirely Lij’s idea, from the disposable camera they bought from a nearby shop, to the skulking behind the oak tree. Now Orli could see a flaming red Jeep behind the Mustang. He looked at Hero, who was at the moment, arguing with Dom on the health benefits of pasta. A few more paces and he could see Chase leaning against the door of the car.

Damn.

Sure enough, the minute they were close by, Chase started immediately for Hero.

“Hey Chase,” Hero said, smiling. Chase kissed her hand.

Again.

Does he never get tired of that? Orli seethed.

And there he goes. Staring galore.

He looked at Hero’s reaction.

Doesn’t look like she’s particularly freaked out right now.

He immediately let go of Lij’s neck and latched on to Hero’s arm, smiling civilly at Chase.

“Orlando,” Chase said, nodding.

“Chase.”

Hero was looking strangely at him as he looked at Lij and said, “So where are you off to now?”

“What do you mean you? You’re coming with us!” Billy said.

Orli looked at Hero, who threw a pointed glance at Chase and shook her head imperceptibly. He took the hint and replied, “Uh, we can’t.”

"What the hell do you mean you can’t?” Lij exclaimed.

Hero came to the rescue. “Well, I can’t coz I have to wait for a very important conference call in…” she paused as she looked at her watch. “Ten minutes.”

Impressive, Orli thought, and nodded. “And I have to meet Fiona in a while.”

Lij raised his eyebrows at them. “A very important call, huh?”

Hero nodded vigorously.

“And you’re meeting Fiona?”

Orli nodded vigorously.

Lij’s eyes twinkled as he looked from Hero to Orli to Chase and back again.

“Well,” he sighed dramatically. “Suit yourselves.”

He started for the Jeep as the others said their farewells, with Chase lingering just a little.

“Yo, Mortensen!” Lij called out from the front seat. “C’mon! I’m hungry!”

As Chase made his way to the driver’s seat, Lij delivered his parting blow.

“Well, we wouldn’t wanna interrupt your romantic day together now, would we?”

And he laughed and waved as the Jeep drove off.

Orli turned to Hero. “So, what’s next on the agenda for our romantic day together?” he kidded.

Hero grinned and replied, “I was thinking take-out Indian?”

They started walking to the Mustang. “Take-out? Why don’t we just go to an Indian restaurant?”

“Because, my dear boy, I am not dressed for an Indian restaurant, and I do have an important engagement in ten minutes.”

“Yeah right. And you failed to mention it to me earlier in the day because…?”

“Because it really was a part of my plan for the day. And you were tagging along, as I recall.”

They went in the car and continued the conversation. Orli asked, “So, what’s this important engagement anyway?”

“I’m going online for a while,” she replied as she buckled her seatbelt. “Check my mail, search some stuff on the Net…that sorta thing.”

Orli gave a mock shudder and she laughed, then suggested, “Hey, what if for the rest of our romantic day together, I show you the wonders of the creature you most fear, huh?”

“And what’s that?” he kidded as he started the ignition.

“The Internet, you freak!” she replied as they drove away.

 

Thirty minutes later, they were seated cross-legged in front of Hero’s laptop which was set up on the living room table, eating the rest of their take-out food. Orli was watching silently, occasionally asking questions as Hero checked her mail and then surfed the net for information on a paper of hers for work. After she was done with the official business online, she got an idea.

“Hey, you wanna see where I found out a lot about you when I had that obsession?”

He raised an eyebrow, unconsciously mimicking her, and replied, “Obsession huh? It was that drastic?”

She typed in the URL www.forums4fans.com in the address bar as she said, “These people helped a lot in feeding that, I’m telling ya.”

Then, “Don’t be shocked alright?”

He leaned forward as the page started loading. “Hmm. What’s this?”

“It’s a cluster of message boards,” she replied as she double-clicked on the category Male Celebrities on the forum list.

“It’s basically just a place where people share their views about something, in this case, all of the topics on the forum list. When there are other people online, you get to talk to them.”

“Sort of like a perpetually open telephone line with mass callers teleconferenced?”

She sneaked a peek at him. His eyes were fixed on the monitor.

“That’s one way of putting it.”

She clicked on the item Orlando Bloom and grinned. “This is it. The moment of truth. Prepare to meet your crazy fans.”

She turned back to the monitor. “I haven’t been here in a while.”

“In a while?”

“Since I met you, I stopped coming.”

“WHOA! An Orli Dream Thread?!?”

“A thread is what you call a topic within a topic. This is what you call a board. Your board.”

He laughed. “This is unbelievable. They actually write down their dreams?”

“About you. Their dreams about you.”

Then, “Shit.”

“What?”

“My PM box is full.”

“Which means?”

She inwardly cringed.

Damned if these ain’t PMs about him.

She had no intention of going to the forum in the first place, but the minute she went online with him there, it seemed like the most logical thing to do. She opened her PM box. Sure enough, a great number of them were entitled Re: Orli.

And they were all from the Arrows.

“Well? Aren’t you going to read them?” he asked teasingly.

“You really want me to?”

“Sure. Let’s see what they have to say.” She clicked on one, which Orli read out loud.

“WHERE ARE YOU? Why didn’t you tell us? We had to learn about what happened from Alex. You get your butt in here and spill…yada, yada, yada.”

He looked at her. “You’re not going to ‘spill’, are you?”

Hero laughed at the nervous look in his eyes. “I’m gonna tell them what a freak you really are.”

Pause for effect.

Then, “Kidding! I don’t think ‘spilling’ would be helping matters any. For all I know they’re organizing an attempt to assassinate me or something.”

She closed the PM window and returned to the Orlando Bloom board.

“Which thread do you wanna see next?”

“That one sounds interesting…”

“The DQL Thread?!?” Shitness.

“What does that mean?”

“Don’t freak out, okay?” She thought that the best way to explain was to show him the manips.

Sure enough, he whispered, “Oh my God. What the hell are these?”

“Those, my dear, are works of art according to some people.”

“What the hell happened to those pictures?!?”

“Those are manips. Manipulated pictures. It started when one person out there worked with this picture of you and put that blonde wig in for laughs. It became the Drag Queen Legolas pic.”

He made a strangled sound as she went on, “Well, enough about that…let’s move on,” and quickly went back to the thread list. She looked at him and he seemed like he was still in shock.

“Hey, don’t worry. Not all of your fans worship DQL.”

“They actually worship that…that defacement?!?”

Hero laughed. “You have a long way to go with the Internet, buddy.”

She stood up. “Here, you use it for a while. Ill just go to the bathroom.”

He raised panicked eyes at her. “Anything interesting, just click this button here twice. If you wanna go back, just click that one over there. Any problems, just holler. Any questions?” she asked with a smile.

“Uh…”

“Good.”

Then she strode off, bringing their empty food boxes to the kitchen, leaving Orli on his own.

 

A few minutes later, she returned to the sound of laughter in the living room.

“Whatcha looking at?” she asked as she back down on the carpet.

He was still laughing when he answered, “Y…you should read these!”

He was referring to the Dreams thread. “This girl just dreamt about me serenading her or something!”

Hero frowned. “Don’t laugh. I used to post a lot in that thread before.”

“You had dreams about me?!?” He stared disbelievingly at her.

“No, I had nightmares of you. You were really creepy in my dreams.”

“Tell me.”

“No way.”

“Come on. Tell me,” he prodded, grinning devilishly.

Hero pulled the laptop to her side of the table and ignored him. “What sort of dreams did you have?”

God Almighty.

“Look, I never had smutty dreams about you, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Smut? Who said anything about smut?” He noted the redness of her cheeks at the moment. “What was the last dream of me that you had?”

“I dreamed that you and I were on this ship and I pushed you overboard, and you were eaten by rabid sharks.”

“Seriously.”

“Seriously.”

Then she shook her head.

“Look, the last time I dreamt about you was over a month ago. Honestly.”

This is going to be very interesting.

His gaze at her never wavered as he asked, “What was it about?”

“The ship thing.”

“Hero…” he warned.

“What?!? Okay, fine. I was dancing ballet and you were staring.”

“Staring how?”

She sighed exasperatedly. “What do you mean how? How many ways are there to stare at a person?!?”

She was becoming too uncomfortable with the way he was looking at her at the moment.

“That way,” she murmured and concentrated on logging off the Internet.

“What way?”

“The way you’re looking at me right now.”

He grinned lazily, delighting in her discomfort. Her face was steadily growing red as the seconds passed. “Stop it,” she said, her back ramrod straight.

“Stop what?” he teased, leaning further to look directly at her eyes.

“Argh!” Hero screamed and covered his eyes with a hand.

“You look like a puppy!”

He frowned at that. “A puppy? I look like a damned puppy?”

Hero had to laugh at the hurt look on his face. “Oh, I’m sorry. It wasn’t the look you were hoping for?”

She hugged him impulsively, surprising them both, but neither pulled away. Orli could smell the subtle fragrance in her hair.

“Sorry for teasing you,” he murmured.

I am so far gone.

“Don’t do it again,” she replied as she pulled away.

“I can’t promise that. I live to tease you, “ he said with a smile.

Evil glare. And his laughter rang through the whole house.


Chapter Seven
Fanfic Main Page
Dreaming of You