pairing: ian/candice, mentions of ian/nina
summary: "yeah", she says, "wouldn't want to ruin that smouldering, sex god thing, would we?"
So this is how it goes.
He meets Paul and Nina before practically anyone else. It makes sense after Kevin’s talk about ‘comfort levels’ and all the time they’re going to be spending together and what their roles require their relationships to be like. He’s been in the business long enough to know that chemistry can be faked.
He soon realizes he doesn’t need to fake. He’s not even acting half the time. He could get used to this.
The first time he meets Candice she reaches on her toes and kisses him on the cheek. He remembers that because it’s surprising, and he isn’t easily surprised.
“That was for Boone,” she says seriously, “because I loved him and I was devastated when he died. And also because he was so good-looking, and I’ve wanted to do that since forever.”
He laughs. He’s not Boone at the moment, but he has a feeling Ian doesn’t particularly mind either.
He finds her curled up in the common room after their first shoot together and he can tell something’s wrong. And he doesn’t even know why he can tell that.
“You all right?”
She looks up blankly, “oh, hey. No. I mean, yeah, I’m fine.”
He stands there awkwardly, because he can turn the charm on like a faucet, but he’s realized he’s not very good with the real stuff. Is he supposed to play the brother here or something? “No, really, anything I can help in?”
She looks up again, like she’s just registered his presence, “promise you won’t laugh.”
“I’m not in a habit of laughing at other’s misfortunes,” he teases, because he’s a little worried and this is the only way he’s been able to handle it. He and Damon have a lot more in common than just their face.
“I feel bad for Caroline,” she says in a rush.
Okay, that? Not what he’d expected at all. “…what?”
She scrunches her face at him like it’s his fault he can’t interpret her mood, “Caroline. I feel bad for her.”
“Okay,” he says slowly, like he’s talking to a child and he’s beginning to realize that’s what he usually thinks of her as— a child. Nina might be a year younger, but she has the kind of maturity that most people don’t learn with age, “so, why?”
“Because,” the corners of her mouth turn down, “nobody likes her, and she wants so badly to be liked. You don’t know how hard that is.”
“Candice,” he says gently, and he’s promised he won’t laugh so he won’t, but it’s not easy, “you know she’s not real, right?”
He’s young enough to remember all the heartache that comes with identifying too closely with a character and he’d old enough to realize what madness it can lead to. He knows, only too well, how easy and disastrous it is to break that thread between fantasy and reality.
She looks torn, “but she is real, that’s the problem. That was probably me a couple years back.”
“Oh come on,” he says, flattery, flattery always works, “that was never you. Look at you, you’re gorgeous.”
That gets a laugh out of her, “it’s obvious you’ve never been a seventeen year old girl.”
He reaches his hand down to pull her up, “but I’ve been with a lot of seventeen year old girls, does that count?”
She wrinkles her nose in pretend disgust, “ew, aren’t you, like, too old now?”
“Really,” he fakes surprise, “how did you guess? I thought I’d gotten around that by leaving my walking stick at home.”
“Whatever,” she sticks her tongue out, “I’m not fooled one bit. You have an older-brother complex don’t you? I have a younger brother, and he has it too. It is inexplicably sweet and devastatingly annoying.”
He raises his finger to his lip, “don’t tell. That’s not how I want to be remembered by the viewers: the best brother you’ll never have.”
“Yeah,” she says, “wouldn’t want to ruin that smouldering, sex god thing, would we?”
He shrugs, “hey, if the shoe fits…”
She laughs again and he finds himself smiling back. She has that effect on people, he’s noticed.
“He’s Smoulderhalder now. Call him Smoulderhalder,” she tells Paul.
Within a week, nobody remembers his real last name.
They’re given three acting models for their almost-lovemaking scene.
“We’re trying to figure out what would look the best, since it's not HBO and there are restrictions” Kevin tells her and Ian can tell she’s uncomfortable because she’s not saying anything, and since when does Candice not say anything? But she’s nodding, like hell yeah, she’s okay with it, which is also very Candice, so.
“I’ve done worse,” he whispers, looking ahead at Steven and Nina’s scene, “way worse.”
“God,” she breathes, “did you really have to remind me?”
He turns to look at her, “you’ve seen ‘Tell Me You Love Me’?”
“I was bored?” she offers, then winks, “or I was in love with the guy who played Nick.”
He thinks this is what he’ll miss about her the most. When all that’s left of this period of his life is a great memory, he’ll miss this. That frank, easy way in which she says the most outrageous things, like her words can never be taken to mean anything other than what she wants them to mean.
“Yeah, well now you have Damon.” He knocks his shoulder with hers.
“Caroline has slash wants Damon,” she corrects him, “Candice just has a lot of butterflies in her stomach.”
“I’ll try not to be sexy?” he offers, “it’ll be hard, but maybe that’ll help?”
She hits him, hard and he slings his arm around her shoulder.
It’s never been this easy with Meghan, he doesn’t think.
He feels a pull somewhere low in his stomach when he sees her lying on the bed for the shot. She’s almost naked so it’s probably more impulse than anything else and he tries to ignore it best as he can.
He kisses his way up her body like he’s supposed to, and she’s squirming in a way that feels decidedly real, but maybe she’s just a really, really good actress.
And then, accidentally, obviously accidentally, he touches a spot near her hipbone with his finger, and can’t help but notice her body arching involuntarily beneath his, as she makes a sound that lodges itself at the back of his throat somewhere. She reaches her hand down and clutches his hair, trying to move away, as he presses down on the same spot with his mouth, with an instinct that’s greater than his acting skills. He can feel the shudder as it runs through her body and what the fuck is he doing?
“Ian,” she whispers, breathless, Ian, not Damon, “Ian, please don’t.”
Julie cuts the scene and demands a retake, because they'd taken much too long on it, and hadn't even managed to reach the vamping-out part, which had been the whole point.
He hates the scene, when he sees it. It has too much of Ian and not enough Damon.
She’s avoids him later.
They’re all out for drinks, still in the bonding stage, and it’s obvious because this is Candice, and Candice is nothing if not obvious. Especially if she doesn’t want to be.
He catches her at the bar, “hey.”
She looks straight at a spot behind his head, refusing to meet his eyes, “hey.”
He probably shouldn’t say it, pretend it never happened, “sorry about that.”
“Sorry about what?” she asks, and he can see the regret making its way through her eyes a split second later; yeah, it would probably have been easier to just accept and move on.
“You know.” he says, and it should be amusing because a week ago he was her brother and now he’s that creepy much-older co-star who accidentally discovered one of her hot-spots in an almost-sex scene.
Shit, he probably shouldn’t have thought that right now, had been trying to avoid thinking it all day.
“It’s okay,” she smiles at him, but it’s too wide to be real, “Nina looks like she’s going to start dancing on the table, we should probably get front-row seats.”
It strikes him then, he’s become much too used to this, much too used to her to let it change and then he’s catching hold of her arm, which, by her look, is a very bad, terrible idea, “Candice.”
“Ian,” she repeats, “it’s okay. Just, I’m embarrassed, okay. I’ll get over it.”
“I don’t want stuff to be awkward,” he says in a rush, because his lines aren’t scripted, and he’s not good without them, “it’s too important.”
She looks at him for a second, and he thinks he should probably let go of her arm, and then she’s smiling, really smiling “being an actor helps, huh? Did you take this from one of your movies slash shows? Classy, Ian, real classy.”
He smirks and doesn’t correct her as he slings his arm through around her shoulders like he usually does and she doesn’t pull away.
They get a lot of promotional tours together.
It’s odd, he thinks, because after the Damon/Caroline storyline they really don’t have many scenes together, but after Nina and Paul, he gets to visit the most places with her.
She’s kind of thrown by the decibel levels at Stonebriar Mall on their Texas visit, and he thinks it part amusing and part something else which he doesn’t have a dictionary definition for.
“Wow,” she says later, when she’s lying on the bed and he’s in her room watching television because he’s bored and Nina and Paul won’t be here till the next day, “it’s like I’m with Santa Claus.”
“Seriously Blondie?” he adopts the ‘Damon’ tone, “you couldn’t find a better-looking example?”
“I don’t think your ego needs any more of a boost,” she retorts, “after that full house of screaming girls; all of whom would probably kill to kiss you or touch your hand or something.”
“Instead,” he says, “you get to kiss me and touch me. How ever did you get so lucky?”
She punches him then, “Damon is lucky to be able to be in the same shot as Caroline.”
“That’s not how I remember it,” he puts a finger to his chin in a gesture of ‘thinking’, “I seem to remember something about Ian Somerhalder being very ‘cute to kiss’. The vocab failure was obviously an indication of the depths of passion that the question stirred.”
She blushes, “whatever. I had to say something. And I didn’t want to say ‘worst kisser ever’ and turn off half our fifteen-year-old fanbase from the show. That’s so counterintuitive.”
“Really,” he slides down next to her, “’worst kisser ever?”
“So not, like, worst but pretty…”
He kisses her then.
Her nightgown is halfway down her body and he’s touching too many places at once and this is way too intense for something that he’s pretending to prove a point on.
She pushes up suddenly, “okay, so we’re a little drunk. I think you’d better go back to your bed.”
They’re not drunk, he knows that. He’d had two bottles of some ghastly beer from the refrigerator and she’s been drinking coke next to him, but there’s something he’s beginning to realize about Candice— she’s good with excuses.
He leans over and kisses her on her neck, because this time there’s no camera trained on him and he can do this. “What about Nina,” she says, her voice piercing, “what about Nina, Ian?”
He pulls away, “you know I’m not dating Nina.”
She looks at him like she knows so much about him; and here’s the thing— she probably does. “So it’s not like you’ve been undressing her with your eyes all year? And that you actually get worked up when she seems to pay too much attention to someone else?”
It’s exactly like that.
“Don’t do this to me,” she says, tired, and sunny, bright, Candice doesn’t deserve to sound like that, “you don’t see, Ian. It’s too easy. Because if we sleep together, I’m going to fall in love with you. I am that stupid. I might even fall in love with you even if we don’t sleep together. Just don’t make it so easy for me.”
She always says too much, and she’s much too frank to be in the profession. “Maybe, I want that,” he says carefully, and now he’s wishing he was drunk, because really, what’s his excuse?
But then she’s all blonde hair and charm and sudden laughter, “I would do it if you could compel me to forget later.”
“I don’t want you to forget.”
“Okay,” she says, drily, “you’re really not helping lighten the mood or anything.”
He doesn’t want to lighten the mood. He wants to touch her again; find out all the places that can make her repeat the same sound she’d made when he’d touched her that first time, in front of a thousand cameras, so many millenniums ago. That sound which never really made its way out of his system.
He touches her again, curiously, flesh memory guiding him to the exact same spot. Because he wants to know if it affects her the same way.
She shivers a little and clenches her thighs, and yeah, it’s just the same, except there’s no one watching this time, and she can be as loud as she wants. He wants her to be as loud as she wants.
She gets up, the nightdress sliding off her completely, and fuck she’s gorgeous. Damon’s looked at Caroline this way often, but he knows it’s different. This is Ian looking at Candice and it’s different.
“I’m dating Michael,” she says, “and you want to date Nina. See, cross connection. We do not want to be pathetic and try to kill our loneliness together or whatever, too fifty-best-high-school-movies-ever.”
She’s not dating Trevino, he knows that. But he never asked the question, and this is her answer.
Two weeks later, she's dating Michael. Three weeks later, he's dating Nina.
“You guys are kind of good friends, right?” Nina’s cooking him dinner and he thinks he might be a little in love with her.
“Who?” he knows but, whatever.
“You and Candice?” Nina wants to know, “or you were? I don’t see you together so much anymore.”
He shrugs, because he knows it’s his fault, he’s just really, really not good with the real stuff, “we are. It’s just, too much stuff going on right now with the foundation and Vampire Diaries, and it’s not like we have too many scenes together or anything.”
Nina doesn’t ask anymore, and later, when they sleep together for the first time, his hand makes the same trail it made on someone else’s skin and wow, he’s really messed up.
The next day, he’s back at her apartment to pick up the jacket that he left.
Candice opens the door, and he’s stupid because he keeps forgetting she shares the apartment with Nina. Or he keeps pretending he forgot, which is pretty much the same, all things considered.
She’s wearing an oversized shirt that he’s pretty sure doesn’t belong to her, which makes him think about where she was last night, which is fucked up. Also, none of his business.
“Ian, hey”, she sounds surprised and pulls down her shirt to cover up, which means he’s not the only one really bad at forgetting.
“You got a thing for the mailman?” he asks, walking in.
She laughs like he remembers, and he smiles because that’s the effect she has on people, “yeah, this is full on Candice seduction mode and you’re ruining my chi before it.”
“You could practice it on me,” he shrugs on the jacket lying on the couch.
‘Ian,” she says, and he knows he’s pushing too far. As usual. Maybe it’s a medical condition they never discovered.
“And the mailman’s much harder to please than you,” she winks, trying so hard to be normal, “Nina’s been telling me about it. You’re easy.”
“Did you tell her about Trevino too? Is he as easy?”
She looks disappointed, like she’d been thinking he was better than this or something. “I’m kidding,” he raises his hands in defeat. He’s not, but that’s all fine print and who really reads that.
She brightens immediately. There is also this other thing he knows about Candice— she wrote the handbook on denial.
“I’m saving your ass next week,” he tells her, “you and that boyfriend of yours, from the biggest, baddest vampire ever, so I demand cookies. Handmade. And the hand has to be yours, by the way, not Nina’s. I know you slag off work on her.”
She laughs and he knows what she thinks this is— normalcy. Except, it’s not. Not really. And it probably won’t ever be. Not till he wants to take Trevino’s shirt off her. But he’s not going to tell her that today.
Or ever, really. Because, he doesn’t know if you know this about him, but he’s not good with the real stuff.