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Unfamiliar

by Dove

 

Fandom: PoTC RPS    Rating: PG-13    Pairing: Johnny Depp/Orlando Bloom    Full Header

 


It’s 1:25 am, and the look on Eric’s face is not unfamiliar to Orlando.

They’ve been slumped on Orlando’s ratty couch for hours, talking about fame, Greek gods, and really, man, what have you been up to for the past three years? The beer’s gone down as smoothly as the conversation, but now both are running low.

“I should go,” Eric says, as he doesn’t stretch, doesn’t look at his watch. “Getting late. I’m sure you’ve got stuff to do tomorrow.”

Orlando laughs, and that queerly strained note is familiar, too. “You’ve said that twice already, man. If you’re going, then go.”

He stands and picks up the empties on the table in front of him, reaches across to snag the two in front of Eric.

The touch on his arm is hesitant, soft, the barest whisper against his skin. It’s so light, he has to look down, to be sure that’s really Eric’s hand, it’s really resting on his arm.

“What if I’m not? Going?” And that’s the look, the one he’s seen so many times before.

Their faces fly through his mind—Viggo, Elijah, Jack, so many of them, and they all looked at him like this. A thousand different pairs of eyes, all saying “I want you” and “I need this” and “Just give me a chance.”

Orlando had hoped this would be different; things are different now, he’s worked with Eric before, and it hadn’t been like this when they were Marines. But Eric’s rising, standing over him, leaning down, and this isn’t different at all. It’s all too familiar when he feels a strong hand tip up his chin, feels the barest scratch of stubble across his cheek, and then there’s the kiss, and the only thing that saves him is this kiss, which isn’t familiar at all.

His mind catalogues the differences with a cold, exacting eye for detail he hadn’t known he possessed. The hand cupping his chin oh, so gently should be fisted in his hair, tugging and bunching the perpetually unruly curls. There’s no smell of cigarettes, no taste of them either, and Orlando’s sadly unsurprised to find that he misses that. As much as he hates it, has always hated it, he misses it all the same. The hesitant brush of the tongue is wrong, the absence of teeth, nipping at his lip, the way this kiss is hovering politely, waiting for him to take charge, it’s all so strange to him that he pulls away.

He’s looking into dark brown eyes, and that’s as it should be. But these eyes are soft and a little scared, and Orlando is looking for quiet amusement and sparking heat. That’s what’s familiar to him, that’s what he knows, and this kiss, it’s so far removed from that, so alien, that all he can do is shake his head in mute apology.

“Ah.” Eric turns his head away, stuffing his fists in his pockets like he can’t trust them out on their own. He lets out a nervous, low-pitched laugh and forces his eyes back to Orlando’s. “Sorry, mate, I shouldn’t have… I heard the rumors, but, Hollywood, you know? Never know what to believe.”

Orlando nods and smiles, not unsympathetically. “I’m sorry, man. I’m flattered, and all, but…”

“No, no worries, Orli. I’ll—I’d better get going.”

“Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow, right?” It’s not as bad as all that, really. Awkward, yes, of course, but it’s not painful, like it’s been before.

There’s a stiff, halting hug, goodbyes are exchanged and a few more stammered reassurances are made on both parts. Then Orlando’s leaning against the door, finally alone, really wishing he weren’t.

He can never be bothered with the math, and he consults the chart posted by the phone more out of curiosity than consideration. The table tells him it’s ten a.m. in France, but he wouldn’t hesitate to call anyway.

There’s a moment of listening to the phone ring halfway around the world before he’s greeted, not with “Hello,” but, “Awfully late where you are, isn’t it?” Johnny’s voice is rough and warm, and Orlando can tell he’s been puttering around the garden this morning.

“You should be here.” It isn’t what he’d intended to say, but it’s what he wanted to get across, and he supposes it’ll do. He’s clutching the phone too tightly, waiting for a reply, and his eyes are shut tight against the possibility that this time, it will be different; this time, Johnny will say no.

Johnny chuckles. “Pitt finally decide to throw over his wife for your infinitely more desirable self?”

Orlando’s disappointed. He thought Johnny, of all people, would understand. He was counting on Johnny to take this seriously, to treat it with the gravity it deserves. Instead, he’s making it worse. “No, he... I shouldn’t have bothered you, I guess, it is really late here. I just wanted to say I miss you, I guess.”

“Orlando.” Johnny’s quiet voice is suddenly solemn, which makes the undercurrent of genuine concern easier to hear. It’s abruptly obvious to Orlando that it was there all along. “I can be there in two days, if you want.”

Orlando’s squeezing his eyes tightly shut, as though even the familiar surroundings of his flat would be too much distraction. He needs every ounce of focus for this. “I—Eric, I mean—we had a couple beers—“ He can’t just blurt it out without explanation, and anything his wounded mind offers by way of explanation sounds more like an excuse.

“Orlando, whatever it was, it doesn’t matter.”

“No, I think it does matter, Johnny. Maybe it’s old hat to you, but this shit is starting to really bug me.” He’s not really angry at Johnny, but nobody else is here.

“It doesn’t matter in the slightest, because it’s not real. That’s why you’re so angry, so tired of it. There’s nothing real there, and you know it, and you can’t understand why they don’t." Implicit, but unspoken, is the gentle chiding reminder--Johnny knows it, too. He's been there.

"And you? Is this real?" Orlando's voice is stretched tight between frustration and a need for reassurance.

"I'll see you in two days."

Johnny hangs up without answering the question. And that's alright. He's coming, and that's as real as Orlando needs it to be.
 

 

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