broadwriting: (sean bean (smoking))
[personal profile] broadwriting
Title: "Temporary Monogamy" (23/27)
Author: Brenda ([livejournal.com profile] azewewish)
Pairing: Orlando Bloom/Sean Bean (Karl Urban/Sean Bean)
Click here for full disclaimers & notes.

Prologue | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen | Part Fourteen | Part Fifteen | Part Sixteen | Part Seventeen | Part Eighteen | Part Nineteen | Part Twenty | Part Twenty-One | Part Twenty-Two | Part Twenty-Three | Part Twenty-Four | Part Twenty-Five | Part Twenty-Six | Part Twenty-Seven (and Epilogue) |




It took Orlando about two weeks after their talk – after things were supposed to have gone back to normal –to notice that he and Sean never hung out alone together anymore.

In Orlando's defense, it wasn't that he was thick or anything (no matter what Dom said, and he was a fine one to talk, really), it was just that Sean was still around just as much as ever. He and Orlando had fallen back into their easy routine of breakfast in the morning, chess matches whilst on set, sharing the odd pint or two on pub crawls. They still teased each other on poker nights, still watched the football together and argued for hours over bad calls and spectacular plays and all that.

But things were different. Someone was always around now to act as a buffer. Dom at breakfast, the entire cast on set, Viggo or Karl or Harry or the Hobbits at night... At no time was it just Orlando and Sean.

Even worse was the fact that the casual touches were also gone. Oh, sure, they still talked as much as ever, but there were no one-armed hugs, no mock punches, no semi-serious wrestling matches. Hell, Sean didn't even let their fingers touch when giving Orlando a bottle of beer. They didn't sit sprawled together like they used to; in fact, Sean mostly sat across from Orlando these days. It got so it was hard not to put two and two together.

Something between the two of them was definitely broken.

And Orlando was at a loss on what to do. He'd been so happy that Sean hadn't seemed to harbor any ill feelings about the whole 'incident', as he'd taken to calling it, that it never occurred to him to talk to Sean about what he didn't want to change. He wanted things back the way they were before. Before that night, before the kiss, before he'd been such a sniveling coward about how to handle the whole thing. He wanted his Sean back. The lazy smiles, the relaxed physicality that defined their relationship, the way Sean always seemed to know just what Orlando needed to hear. He wanted banter and brotherhood and the knowledge that there was one person on this insane island who completely had his back.

But wanting and having were two different things, as his gran was always fond of saying, and this new world order was just something he was going to have to live with.

The realization was a sobering one.

***

Orlando'd half thought about begging out of going off clubbing with everyone else, but he wasn't up to catching hell from Dom for it, and besides, sitting at home and brooding wasn't likely to improve his sorry lot. The best way to deal with any situation was to move forward. Or something like that. The point was, it might do him some good to get out, enjoy himself, have a night of dancing and drinking and not thinking too much.

The club itself was low-key, the drinks were strong, and the music was suitably loud, but not too fast – just right for losing oneself in the rhythm and letting instinct take over. Orlando was sure that Elijah was somewhere about, bitching about Dom's plebian musical taste, but, at the moment, Orlando didn't care what anyone thought. He was having a great time.

In fact, everything was fine. Everything was normal. He was fine. There was no reason not to be. He and Sean would sort themselves out. Everything would be alright.

He'd almost convinced himself of it, too. After an hour sweating his ass off and doing body shots with some college girls on holiday from Melbourne, Orlando was feeling no pain. It was just another fun night of hanging with his boys and blowing off steam, doing a little flirting. He half thought about calling Jerry, seeing if he wanted to come by for a drink – they hadn't been spending much time together of late, and Orlando knew that was his fault, as well.

Then he saw Karl and Sean walk into the club, shoulder to shoulder, clearly talking about something private, given the way their heads were bent together. Karl had his hand on Sean's arm, a gesture of quiet and casual possession. Possession that was Karl's every right to have. Karl still had every right to touch Sean. To ruffle shaggy hair and tease him mercilessly and crowd his personal space like it was nothing.

Karl hadn't fucked anything up.

For one insane moment, white-hot anger ripped through Orlando like a tidal wave, trampling everything in its path. Fuck Sean and his cowardice. Orlando had apologized, done everything he could to make sure that Sean knew things hadn't changed. But, no, Sean had to bloody go and change the rules. And now it was just like nothing had happened, except Sean wasn't the same, and neither was he, and there was Sean with Karl, all cozy and peachy and it just wasn't fucking fair.

Everything was so goddamn easy for men like Karl and Sean, but not everyone found what they were so desperately seeking. Sometimes people did stupid things that they regretted, and not everyone could be as fucking perfect as Karl and couldn't Sean see that Orlando was fucking trying, ferfuckssake?

The insidious voice inside his head rose in volume, drowning out common sense, drowning out reason, drowning out everything else until Orlando was ready to do anything in the world to silence it. All this time, he'd been playing at nice, giving Sean his space and time. Apparently, that wasn't enough for Sean. Well, fuck that. And fuck Sean. He was just another on-set friend, apparently. No one of importance.

He made his way up to the bar, slapped down a few bills, and downed shot after shot of something clear and sharp. Drank enough to blur the edges of the club, of his mind whirling in too many directions to count. Drank until he couldn't remember that he could still feel Sean's lips against his and the gentle way hands had clutched in his hair. Drank until he couldn't remember that Sean kept all of this space between them now, like he was afraid of Orlando getting too close.

He was on his fifth, sixth, it was hard to tell (he hadn't bothered to really count), when Sean found him. By then, Orlando's throat was numb. Hell, his fingers and toes were numb. Everything was hazy, everything was fine. Not even seeing the thin, disapproving line of Sean's mouth was enough to make Orlando care. Was an adult, wasn't he? Getting pissed was a proper British tradition. Sean should be proud of him for finally holding his alcohol, right?

Sean had to raise his voice to be heard over the music. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Orlando raised his shot glass in salute. Sean's eyes were the clearest green he'd ever seen, seemed to cut right through every single one of Orlando's carefully erected defenses. Something inside Orlando shied away from them, from the clarity he knew looking too deep would bring. He wasn't remotely ready to be sober. "Would think that'd be obvious, mate."

Sean took the glass out of Orlando's hand and set it back on the bar. "This isn't like you."

"Shows wha' you know." Orlando swayed on his feet, then pulled himself together. Fuck Sean anyway. Man wasn't his goddamned keeper. Besides, Sean was quite the one to call his kettle a fish, given the way he was always tossing back the lager. "Go back t'Karl. And stay out. Of, um. Not m'fucking father."

Something hard and ugly flickered behind Sean's eyes for the briefest of moments. Orlando was too numb to care. "Fine. Enjoy your evening."

"I will!" Orlando called to Sean's retreating back. He would if it killed him. He'd stay right here until the rest of his body was just as numb as his heart.

***

"What was that all about?" Karl asked, when Sean came back to their table.

"Nothing," Sean replied. He unclenched his fists, tried to slow the racing of his heart. Getting mad at Orlando wouldn't change anything. But he didn't think he could just sit around and watch Orlando pickle himself on cheap vodka, either. "C'mon, let's get out of here."

Karl followed Sean out the door and onto the sidewalk. The thump of the bass still spilled out from the club, but it was muffled enough that Sean could hear himself think again. This had obviously been a very bad idea. He didn't know what the fuck he was thinking, trying to meet Orlando on his own turf.

"Sean..."

Sean whirled around, unaccountably pissed, and poked Karl in the chest. "This is all your fucking fault."

Karl held his hands up, but otherwise didn't move. "I didn't hold a gun to your head."

"No, but you fucking well know you put thoughts –"

"You already had them and you know it," Karl interrupted, in a neutral voice.

"Maybe," Sean conceded, with a defeated slump of his shoulders. It was hard to stay mad in the face of Karl's calm. And he'd learned the hard way that picking fights never really solved anything, and certainly never made anyone feel better. "I still blame you, though," he added, but the boiling anger was now gone.

Karl shrugged. "I'm not the one that won't talk to him."

"I talk to him every day."

"Spare me the bullshit," Karl replied. "You're afraid. And with good reason, I know. But, fuck, he's not going to get it unless you push him."

"Fine." Sean stopped, turned. Looked Karl deep in the eyes. If he was going to go down this road – and it seemed as if he was destined to always self-destruct over a pretty face – then he fucking well wouldn't be alone in his misery. "I will if you will."

"You will if I will what?" Karl asked, frowning.

"Harry," Sean replied, simply, and waited. It only took a few seconds for Karl's frown to deepen.

"One's got nothing to do...

"Save it. It's time," Sean said, throwing Karl's words back at him, and fuck it felt good to have the upper hand with Karl for once. "You've both taken your time with things, and I applaud that, but this is getting ridiculous. Everyone knows it. And if you don't do something now, you risk not getting that part of your life together back. Is that what you want?"

Karl shook his head and leaned against the side of the building. Sean settled next to him and brought out a battered pack of cigarettes. "It wasn't supposed to last this long," Karl said, after taking a deep drag and passing the cigarette to Sean. "Few months, maybe. Just so we could get our heads together."

"Fair enough," Sean replied, and really, it did make sense. Sometimes a break was a good thing. Sometimes, of course, it also made things worse. But this wasn't about his sorry excuse for a love life or how he'd been fucking up where Orlando was concerned since practically day one. This was about one of his dearest friends and getting him back on track. "It's none of mine what went down or why or any of that. But a bat could see that you two are better off together."

"So I keep reminding myself," Karl replied ruefully.

Sean let out a stream of smoke, studied Karl though the haze. "I know he's your best friend. But t'weren't it you that told me that sometimes friendship is the best foundation for everything else?"

"That does sound very wise," Karl smiled. "Probably was me."

Sean grinned. This was the Karl he knew and loved. "Do we have a deal, then?"

"Yeah," Karl drawled, and held out a hand that Sean promptly took. "We have a deal."

***

"Here."

Orlando squinted when he looked up, cursing the sunlight that pierced through his shades. His head felt like a band of mariachis were marching around. In tap shoes. With kettle drums. He was seriously never drinking again. Even his skin felt fragile and wobbly.

Sean was standing before him, with a steaming mug of what blessedly smelled like good, strong coffee in his hand. "You look like shit."

"Feel worse," Orlando mumbled. His hands shook when he took the mug, and he was pathetically grateful when Sean steadied them between his own. He could barely look Sean in the eyes. He couldn't really remember much of what had happened last night, but he got the vague sense that he and Sean had exchanged some words. Which meant that, yet again, he owed Sean an apology. He was so sick of apologizing, even though he knew he had no one but himself to blame.

"Look, about, um, last night." He paused, let out a low groan when the throbbing behind his eyelids started up again. He was tired, miserable, done. "I'm...uh..."

"Don't. No worries, yeah?"

He didn't deserve the absolution he saw in Sean's eyes. But he was smart enough to take it. "Thanks." Orlando held up the cup. "And for this."

This time Sean's small smile was genuine. "What friends are for, right?"

Orlando clenched his coffee cup tight to keep from spilling it over himself. "Are we? I mean, friends?"

Sean took the director's chair next to Orlando, legs stretching out in front of him, and looked at Orlando with so much concern that he felt about two foot tall for his doubts. "Of course," Sean replied quietly. "Look, I know I haven't been..."

"Don't." Orlando couldn't stand the thought of Sean making excuses. He deserved Sean's censure and he knew it. "Let's just put it, y'know, down to the drink."

"If you want."

"Well, when I figure out what that is, you'll be the first to know," Orlando said, with a wry twist of his lips. "Although for now, I'd settle for a bottle of aspirin, a four hour nap and the last three weeks to have never happened."

"Sorry, I'm fresh out of memory erasers," Sean offered, and even though the joke fell flat, Orlando smiled anyway. At least Sean was trying. The least he could do was offer the same.

"It's alright." He took a bracing sip of his coffee and tried not to weep in happiness when he felt the first hot jolt hit his system. "I don't really want to forget. I just..."

"Want things back the way they were?"

"Yeah." Orlando let out a small sigh. "I just want you back, alright. I don't want you to hate me."

"I promise I don't hate you," Sean said, and the pat on Orlando's knee felt like absolution. As did the look of love and brotherhood in Sean's eyes. "We'll work through this. But, for now, let's just concentrate on getting you up to speed so Peter doesn't kill you himself."

Orlando dropped a hand over Sean's. Felt the weight and heat beneath his palm, the sinew and muscle and bone, the strength when Sean turned his hand, laced their fingers together. Every bit of guilt and weight and aching emptiness left him in a rush of relief. "Promise me we'll get through this," he said, looking down at their joined hands.

Sean's reply was prompt, heartfelt, and the best news Orlando'd ever heard. "I promise."


(To Be Continued)

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