broadwriting: (harry&karl)
[personal profile] broadwriting
Title: "Temporary Monogamy" (25/27)
Author: Brenda ([ profile] azewewish)
Pairing: Orlando Bloom/Sean Bean (Harry Sinclair/Karl Urban)
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 was never an easy thing to stand in front of a mirror (even a hypothetical one) and face one's own fears and the deepest secrets of the soul. Never an easy thing to analyze what went wrong and why, to accept the blame for one's mistakes. Karl knew he was a fairly self-aware sort of bloke, and that he had a good enough head on his shoulders, but no one was perfect. There were things he missed. Things he'd fucked up. Regrets, oh yeah, he had a host of them. That was all part and parcel of the whole crazy game of life, something he tried to remind himself of often. Besides, he wouldn't change his faults too much – without the hope for improvement, what point was there to anything? He liked to think that he was getting better every day, but he knew deep down that it was the journey that really mattered.

Which was why he'd felt no compunction in giving Orlando that final nudge into his own awareness. The truth was sometimes a gradual thing, slow to come to fruition. And sometimes, it needed a little help. Fuck knew Orlando most likely would have taken the next decade to realize what had been in front of his nose. He loved the man like a brother, but Orlando sometimes had problems seeing things that weren't right in his line of sight and waving a neon sign – especially when it came to matters of the heart.

Sometimes destiny needed a helping hand.

"You alright?" Karl asked, when Orlando just continued to sit there on the blanket, staring in Sean's direction like he'd never seen the man before. It probably wasn't too far off the mark. Love did tend to change perspective.

Orlando jerked out a nod, then shook his head. "I think I might be sick," he croaked out.

"Just breathe," Karl advised, and rubbed soothing circles along Orlando's back. "It's a lot to take in. Take your time." He still clearly remembered the first time he'd fallen totally and truly in love and how frightened he'd been that he was going fuck it all to hell. And, well, as it had turned out, he'd had reason to be scared. But that was a long time ago, and right now, his main focus was on being a good mate and making sure Orlando didn't topple over in a faint.

"I can't..." Orlando turned wide eyes to Karl. "How the fuck did I not know?"

"You weren't ready," Karl replied, as trying to inject as much tranquility into his voice as he could. He was reminded of the way his aunt used to talk when she was gentling skittish colts. "And that's alright."

"No, it isn't." Orlando gripped Karl's free hand so hard that Karl grunted in surprised pain. But he didn't ask Orlando to ease up. He knew Orlando needed the contact.

"All this time," Orlando said, with something like awe in his voice. "All this time and I never knew..."

"Sort of gratifying that you can still learn so much about yourself, isn't it?" Karl asked, with a small smile. He wished he had a camera to capture the look on Orlando's face. It was a little like watching the sun burst through the clouds in a brilliant ray of light.

"I guess." Then Orlando let out a high-pitched laugh. "Fuck, and I thought...I mean, how do I..."

"Ease up, no need to charge in and cock it all up by bumbling about," Karl said, and placed his other hand on top of Orlando's. "You don't have to do anything tonight other than revel in the knowledge that you're in love."

"Yes, but..."

"No buts," Karl replied, firmly. If there was one other thing he knew, it was that Orlando would need time to let the knowledge sink in. "Tomorrow's soon enough for you and Sean to sort it all out."

Orlando's eyes widened again. "But what if he doesn't...what if he isn't...?"

"Orlando, if you even finish that thought, then you're just as thick as Dom is always saying you are," Karl stated, giving Orlando his best stern look. "You might be blind, but you're not stupid. You know better. You've always known better."

Orlando nodded, let out a small, wobbly breath. "Yeah. Guess I do."

Karl peered closer, and was reassured by what he saw. The panic had finally receded. "You gonna be alright?"

Again, Orlando nodded. "Yeah. But, um, I think I need..."

"Don't worry. You head on home, I'll make sure Sean also gets to his safely," Karl smiled. "Take your time, dissect and brood and think to your heart's content tonight, but if I find out that you weren't knocking on Sean's door first thing to get all of this sorted, then I really am going to lock you both in a closet." He wasn't joking, either. It was long past time.

"You probably would anyway, pervert that you are." But Orlando's smile was genuine. It warmed Karl's heart to see it. He had high hopes for these two men. Finally, it looked like all of his work was paying off, and he couldn't be happier. He knew fate when he saw it.

"Compliments will get you everywhere."


The tip of Harry's cigar glowed red as he blew out another smoke ring, slowed his stride to cast glances up at the blanket of stars overhead. Once Karl had sent Orlando on his way, he'd kept a close eye on Sean for the rest of the night, made up some excuse about Orlando's absence, and had done his best to relax. More lager had helped.

"Excellent day today," Harry commented, low voice breaking the easy silence between them.

"Very," Karl agreed. When Harry snagged his hand, Karl just laced their fingers together and savored the touch.

There was another comfortable beat of silence. Then: "Ready to tell me what happened between you and Orlando?"

Karl let out a small laugh, and leaned into Harry's arm for a moment. He should have known that Harry would have noticed. Harry noticed everything. "Let's just say we had a nice chat about him opening his eyes a little."

"Finally realized he's in love with Sean, I take it?"

"Got it in one," Karl replied, still smiling. "You'd think he'd been hit by a ute, the way he was sitting there, looking all stunned."

"I imagine finding out you've been in love with someone for over a year would have that effect," Harry mildly agreed. He stopped at the gate to his house. Paused. "Coming in or heading home?"

"Suppose one more drink couldn't hurt," Karl said, and squeezed Harry's hand before dropping it to follow Harry up the walk and to the front door. He wasn't quite ready to head to his empty house yet.

Once inside, Harry made short work of stubbing out his cigar and snagging a fresh bottle of port. "Bring the glasses, we'll have a drink outside. It's too nice to be indoors."

Karl did as asked, and they made themselves at home in the chaises on the veranda. "I see the clematis are coming in nicely," he commented, letting his gaze wander over the sleeping garden. It was going to be something special come full summer.

"Thanks to you and Orlando," Harry said, and tapped their glasses together in a toast. "And you were right about the butterflies, by the by. They've been swarming about the past few mornings. Makes having the first cup of tea rather pleasant, getting a chance to gaze at them."

Karl took a sip of his port, nodded. "Sounds lovely."

"You should stop by, see them for yourself some morning."

Seeing Harry's uncomplicated smile soothed something deep inside Karl he didn't even know needed easing. But then, that was Harry in a nutshell. He was the person who got him on every level there was to get someone, and probably a few other ways besides. No matter what Karl's day was like, ten minutes in Harry's company somehow made everything better.

He sat there for a long time, letting the peace of the evening, of the company, wash over him. Sat, relaxing on the porch of a house he'd never really wanted to leave and the man he'd never wanted to leave, either, looking out over the garden he'd helped plant and cultivate. And when the whispering started in his head, Karl knew.

It was finally time.

He tilted his head, gazed at Harry's strong profile – the stubborn jut to his chin, the slope of his cheeks, the wide set to his nose, the way his brows housed the most remarkable eyes in the world – and sent up a prayer that he hadn't waited too long. His heart started pounding in his chest. His skin suddenly felt clammy, cold. Odd that he should be nervous over Harry. Odd, he thought, and the most natural thing in the world.

"It was only supposed to be a few months, you know."

Harry's brows furrowed. He turned to meet Karl's gaze, frowning slightly in confusion. "What was?"

"Us," Karl replied simply. And held his breath.

Harry went completely still. "Being together or apart?" he asked, in the quietest voice Karl had ever heard.

"Apart." He wanted to reach out, to touch Harry, to reassure him, but didn't. There would be time for that – God, he hoped there would be time for that – once he'd said what he needed to say. "You said you couldn't concentrate on work with me around, so I thought I'd give you a little breathing space. I never meant for it to go on as long as it did."

"You..." Harry's frown deepened the grooves along the sides of his mouth. "We stopped sleeping together because of my work?"

"You've finished three scripts since we've been apart," Karl pointed out. And he'd been so proud, too, even though the pleasure had been bittersweet.

"I don't care." Harry set his glass on the small table between them with a thunk. "Karl, I don't..." His throat worked as he swallowed, took a deep breath. When he looked back at Karl again, Karl was floored by the wealth of emotion shining from his eyes. "I don't care if I never write another word, if I never direct another frame of film. Not if you're the sacrifice I have to make."

Karl's own voice clogged up when he tried to reply. His hands were shaking so badly that he had to set his own glass down or risk spilling the contents. "I...I never..."

"Stop." Harry was out of his chair the next moment, and on his knees in front of Karl. "Just...stop." His hands rested on Karl's thighs, burning hot and so familiar that Karl lost his breath at the feel.

When Harry leaned up, Karl met him halfway. The kiss was as light as air, a delicate meeting of lips that settled every nerve Karl had. He smiled, unable to help himself, giddy with relief, when Harry pulled back. "I'm every bit the fuckwit I accused Orlando of being."

"Probably," Harry agreed, and his answering smile blinded Karl with its brilliance. "But you're my fuckwit."

Karl cupped an unshaven cheek in one hand. "Since the day I met you," he promised, and slid out his chair to meet the next kiss.

At the first flicker of Harry's tongue, Karl opened his mouth, slanted his head. Lost himself in the never-forgotten taste of Harry – part smoke, part port, part something richer, darker. Cupped the back of Harry's neck, slid his hand upward into the bristles of Harry's hair and held on as the kiss turned, became less about reconnection and more about need. Every inch of Karl's skin sang in remembrance – finally, he was back where he belonged.

The next time their lips parted, Harry's breath was ragged. Karl knew his wasn't much better. "I won't insult either of us by asking if you're sure, but I will say this." Harry grabbed both of Karl's hands, held. Karl knew he was holding on just as tight. "Once I take you upstairs, I'm not letting you go again. Not for any reason."

"I fucking well hope not," Karl fervently replied, and sealed the deal with a hard kiss.


The bedroom was exactly as Karl remembered it – the same art hung haphazardly on the walls, the open closet was still as messy as ever, the bookshelves still had stacks of books waiting to be read, and the big, four-poster bed still dominated the space. He turned in Harry's arms, sliding his hands under Harry's shirt to map warm skin as he started walking backwards, trusting memory to get him where he needed to go.

"See you've having changed anything," he teased.

"Never saw the need," Harry replied, and gently pushed Karl back on the mattress, following to pin Karl down with his body.

Karl stretched, reveled in the solid weight above him, in the look of laughter and love in Harry's eyes. Impatient hands made quick work of drawing Harry's shirt over his head. Then Karl paused for a moment. Stared in appreciation. Ran light hands along a muscled chest, dragged his fingers over the trail that disappeared into the waistband of Harry's shorts.

Harry shuddered, and closed his eyes. "I'd almost forgotten..."

"Shhh..." Karl leaned up, lips barely grazing Harry's. "I'm here now."

Harry nodded. Let out a breath. Then another. Seemed to find his center. When he moved to pull Karl's shirt off, it was like rewinding time. Like maybe Harry's hands had never left exploring his body. Like maybe the last year or so had been a hazy dream, and now things were back in focus. Gentle lips followed the same path that Harry's fingers were taking, and Karl surrendered to it, to the assurance in Harry's touch.

Time passed in dream-like flashes of clarity. The muffled and appreciative noises Harry made when he found a sensitive bit of skin just under Karl's ribs. The wet, ticklish feel of Harry's lips circling each nipple. The sharp intake of his own breath when rough fingers unbuttoned his shorts and pulled them off his legs. Cool air caressing his skin, contrasting with the heat of Harry's body pressed tight against his.

By the time Harry lifted his head again, Karl was so lost in sensation that it took him a moment to remember where he was. Quivering hands slid along the jut of Harry's collarbones, down sinewy arms. When Harry smiled down at him, Karl's heart tumbled all over again.

"Hope we're not going to be flipping for it like we normally do."

Karl's sharp burst of laughter surprised even him. Harry's grin widened, crinkling his eyes and the lines around his mouth. Karl wanted to trace each and every one of them with his tongue. "I think I can give you a free pass just this once," he replied, smiling so hard that it felt like a glorious sort of pain.

"Good." Harry stood and made short work of shucking off his own shorts before returning to his spot between Karl's thighs. "Unlike you, I haven't had much in the way of practice lately."

Karl ran his hands along the wide expanse of Harry's back, pressed his hips against Harry's in demand and need. "Not my fault you weren't out there shagging hot young things," he teased, somewhat breathlessly.

"You were the only hot young thing I wanted," Harry stated matter-of-factly, and before Karl could think of a suitable retort, Harry's lips were back on his, and all thoughts of teasing and replies fell by the wayside. There was only this.

When Harry slid inside him, after spending so much time stretching and preparing him that Karl thought he would implode from desperation, there was none of the awkwardness Karl had been expecting after so long a time apart. Instead, it felt like they'd just done this yesterday. Like time really had somehow stopped and was only just now resuming at the first assured thrust of Harry's cock. Karl clutched at strong shoulders, met each kiss, each flex of Harry's hips, with his own claim.

"Just like..." Harry faltered, groaning as they rocked together, found the perfect rhythm.

"Yes," Karl whispered, breathing the word between them, a benediction, a promise. "Yes..."

The only answer he needed was in his arms.


Afterward, when they were lying all tangled together and enjoying the quiet and togetherness, Karl sent up another prayer, this one of thanks. He had no idea what he would have done if Harry'd been truly finished with him. There was no Plan B.

When Harry finally spoke, his voice barely carried in the afterthought of space between them. "You really moved out because I couldn't write?"

"You were miserable," Karl replied, quietly. He could still remember those last few months with razor-sharp clarity. It wasn't anything he ever wanted to repeat. "And you stopped talking to me. I thought maybe if we took a break for awhile, I'd get my best mate back and we could work on the rest."

"And then it got to be comfortable," Harry continued with a nod, correctly guessing the rest. He peered up at Karl. "You were never the problem."

"Didn't seem that way at the time."

"Guess you weren't the only fuckwit," Harry said, with that self-deprecating smile that Karl had fallen arse over teakettle for so long ago.

Karl placed a kiss to Harry's forehead. "Yes, but you're my fuckwit."

Harry hugged Karl closer to him. "As long as you'll have me."

"Suppose I might kick your wrinkly, old arse to the curb when you're 90, but I expect you'll have Alzheimer's by then and won't remember it." Karl was pretty pleased with the even tone to his voice.

"Good point," Harry conceded, with a thoughtful nod. "Suppose this means I'm safe for now? I mean, if I have until I'm 90 and all."

"That does give us a good 50 years or so," Karl pointed out, rather reasonably, he thought.

"That just might be long enough," Harry replied, and rolled over to trap Karl beneath him. When their lips met for another slow kiss, Karl thought to himself that 50 more years of this wasn't nearly long enough.

But it was a nice enough place to start.

(To Be Continued)

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