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The Terror of the Deep

Genre: RPF - h/c
Rating: PG
Characters: Viggo, Elijah, Dom, Billy, some lifeguards
Warnings: very angsty

Viggo would never be an accomplished surfer. He was reaching the point where he had to admit it, even to himself.

The other cast members, the hobbit boys and that daredevil Orlando, had picked up the skill quickly and were dancing their boards almost effortlessly on the curl of wave after wave. Perhaps not effortlessly. Dom and Orlando were the most daring, and then Billy, who had surfed before, followed by Elijah who had such quick reflexes that he seemed to bounce back from everything. Even Sean, the normally most conservative and least adventurous of them all, had mastered the skill better than Viggo had.

It shouldn’t have bothered him. They were all much younger and he was better than they were at many, actually most, things they’d tried.

But, it did. A little. He grinned, recognizing the weakness of masculine pride for what it was, and paddled forward as a large swell began to rise behind him. The wave would be a big one. He could see the others already paddling out to it. Perhaps he would give this surfing thing one more try before he conceded defeat.

Viggo was further from shore than the others and would meet the wave long before it broke. He turned his board toward shore and began to stand. The swell was huge, by far the biggest wave they had seen all day, and for a moment Viggo considered letting it pass. The thought was dismissed by his already stung pride almost the instant it was formed and he crouched on the board, holding on as it began to lift.

And then he was speeding down the mounting wave front as it flew towards shore. This was surfing! The wave rose higher and Viggo balanced himself, angling the board to cut north, across the wave’s slope. Behind him it was so high that it was already beginning to break. This was a wave! And he had caught it! Exhilaration filled him as he slid ever faster down the swiftly climbing wave.

The others were out of his sight, but he wasn’t doing this for show. His own satisfaction was being served; not some primitive sense of machismo. He was pushing himself to accomplish something that had challenged him and that was all that mattered.

Faster and faster the board flew and the break of the wave came up close behind him. Viggo knew he would have to get off soon or risk a spectacular spill. For the first time he felt a touch of worry. This wave was truly enormous and he wondered if he would be able to get off of it without falling. He inched his way up the wave’s slope, hoping he could slide safely down the back of it.

What happened next he could never quite figure out, but suddenly there was another surfer below and in front of him. Viggo veered wildly and the board, no longer under his rather tenuous control, flipped out from underneath him. He fell into the seething waters of the breaking wave and felt the board tether on his wrist pulled hard. The water rolled him over and over. There was no telling which way was up or down so Viggo held his breath and waited. The waters would calm in a moment and he would be able to break the surface safely behind the huge wave.

Suddenly, something brushed against him in the turbulent sea and Viggo was astonished to realize that it was another person. The other surfer! The poor fellow's hands grabbed desperately at him, but could find no purchase on Viggo's tight wetsuit. His abject terror was eloquently communicated through his violent struggles and astonishing strength, but Viggo was still stronger. He took control of the hands and quickly turned the body away, hugging the other person tight, and immobile, to his side.

From the feel of the slight torso, Viggo knew with a swift and unsettling start that he was holding Elijah, but there was something terribly wrong with the youngster. He was panic-stricken, his struggles heart-stoppingly frantic as he clawed at Viggo’s arm. Though he fought like a wild thing, fighting to break free with an animal intensity, the man knew he could not let the terrified boy go. Elijah wasn't thinking any longer and Viggo knew his best chance lay in getting them both to the surface. A man who was afraid of drowning was as much a danger to himself as those who were trying to save him.

Suddenly, a convulsive shudder went through the slender frame and Viggo’s heart leap to his throat. There was no mistaking that horrifyingly compulsive reaction; it communicated its meaning most fluently. Elijah must not have had time to take a breath before he’d gone under and had inhaled a lung-full of seawater. He was drowning in Viggo’s arms!

Without another thought, Viggo chose the direction that felt the most like up and kicked powerfully towards it. Elijah convulsed against him again, but, agonizingly, his movements now lacked any feel of conscious control. Viggo felt his own panic seize him and gripped the boy’s body tighter. No! This could not be happening. Another spasm quickly followed it, but was markedly weaker than the ones that had preceded it. Viggo was struck with a sick, lurching sense of parental dread. His own Henry was only slightly smaller than Elijah was. He had to make it to the surface!

And in the next instant he burst from the water into bright air. Elijah’s body was abruptly heavy on his arm but he wasted no time in looking at his friend. He pulled furiously at the surf board’s tether that was still attached to his wrist and the errant float came whisking across the water as if it had been called.

It was a lucky thing that Elijah was so slight. Viggo was barely able to wrangle the boy’s dead weight onto the board. And he was not breathing. The older man made the observation but refused to acknowledge the icy panic it caused while he worked. He ripped Elijah’s tether off his arm and moved his legs so that all of him was on the board. There was no time to lose. He had to get the boy back to solid ground, where they could resuscitate him, as quickly as possible. He pushed the board in front of him and kicked with every ounce of his strength.

Whistles blew as the lifeguards saw him pushing the motionless boy towards shore. Viggo didn’t stop kicking, but soon there was a lifeguard on a tiny outboard coming up beside him. He shouted to Viggo, but the older man could not spare a breath to answer. Luckily, he didn’t have to. The lifeguard pulled alongside the surfboard, took one look at Elijah’s blue lips and hauled the boy onto his skiff. Then they were both gone in a scream of stressed outboard and sunlit spray.

Viggo stopped kicking but felt like bellowing with rage. What the hell had happened?! His feet met sand and he stumbled forward, fighting the sea in his fury. Where the hell had Elijah come from? Outraged tears streamed down his face but were lost to the sea. He had not hit the boy, he was certain of that. He had veered clear at the last moment. But what if his board had come down on him? What if his sudden appearance had caused Elijah to lose concentration and make a mistake in the face of that enormous wave? Had he somehow inadvertently killed the kindest, wisest, oldest soul he had ever met?

There was a crowd gathering on the beach. Lifeguards were racing down to the point where the skiff had landed. Viggo was close enough to hear their shouts and the desperate calls of his fellow cast members as they paddled into shore. He paid none of them any mind. His eyes were only for the small, black-clad figure that lay so horribly motionless in the center of the wild rush of activity. What on earth had he done?

The lifeguards were working frantically on Elijah. One of them pressed his legs up against his chest while another rolled his head and shoulders to the side. Another then cut his wetsuit away and knelt by his side to listen against the frail chest. For a heartbeat, Viggo realized with another heart twisting lurch. The lifeguards then began their resuscitation. Viggo was almost to shore. His legs, now freed from the binding pull of water, pounded through the shallows and he rushed up to the small knot of people gathered around the lifeguards.

“Whoa, mate!,” a burly fellow said, catching Viggo and pushing him back firmly. “You gotta leave ‘em some room.” Viggo’s fists clenched as his impotent anger rose.

“I’m his friend!” he growled in a dangerously frantic voice. The lifeguard was taken aback for a moment, but nodded, understanding and seeming to recognize him.

“Then you’ll let us work, mate. You got him in right quick. We’ll take it from here.”

Viggo heard the others’ voices screaming his name and Elijah's as they too rushed up to the macabre cluster. Sean screamed from behind him, and Dom and Billy suddenly appeared at Viggo’s side, speechless, their faces white as sheets, eyes questioning and terrified.

The lifeguards were speaking quietly to each other now. One had a mask over Elijah’s face and was periodically squeezing the large, black bag attached to it, forcing air into the boy’s lungs. Viggo focused on the narrow chest. It rose only when the bag was compressed. He squeezed his eyes shut, ill with panic. Please. This could not be happening.

Suddenly there was a cry from the lifeguards. Viggo opened his eyes to see Elijah's legs twitch spasmodically. The lifeguards rolled him onto his side, encouraging him, the relief in their voices unmistakable. The sound of retching followed by that of feeble coughing rose from the little knot of workers and the lifeguards’ smiles flashed brilliant white against their deeply tanned skins. The one who still held Viggo back, clapped him in the arm.

“There, mate! You see? We’re tops at this sort of thing. Your pal will be just fine now. Just you wait.”

Viggo's knees began to shake and dropped to them, lest his legs fail him completely.

“Oh, thank God…” he breathed and hid his face in his hands as he wept.

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