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Disclaimer: This is a non-commercial, non-profit work of fiction under the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged or condoned by the persons whose names are used without permission.

Time Enough

Author: chaosmanor
Original Story: How Long Does an Adjustment Take?, by idrillia_fic
Pairing: Eric Bana/Orlando Bloom
Rating: R, for violence
Summary: As coping mechanisms went, it was a poor one.
Post-reveal Notes: Betaed by crimson_bride


The bar, stupidly called Susan's, was somewhere Eric had drifted into before, whenever he'd been in London and a little homesick. It had Australian lager on tap, and non-stop reruns of Australian TV shows and AFL matches on the big screen. Lisa, behind the bar, would even put on the DVD of the match where the Saints had shown Richmond how to play footy, end of the season last year, just for him, if he smiled at her.

Good enough reason to go there.

Only that night, Eric wasn't going to drink, and he wasn't in the mood for gloating over Richmond's loss. He just wanted to get out of the house, away from the creeping failure of his life, the recrimination in Orlando's eyes, and the pity.

Fuck Orlando.

Eric parked his bike outside the bar, half on the footpath, and ignored the irony of his thoughts, because of course he wasn't fucking Orlando, not anymore. Typical of him, really, to have an affair with the hottest man on the planet, leave his wife, get a divorce, then fall apart so completely that they're not even fucking...

Eric kicked the door of the pub open, pulling his jacket undone as he sat down at the bar, his back to the room, helmet on the bar stool beside him.

"What'll it be?" Lisa asked, leaning across the bar and clearing away the empty middy left by the last drinker.

"Just water," Eric said, pushing a handful of pound coins across the towelling bar mat towards her. "Gotta get home safely."

"We downloaded some stuff, from home," Lisa said. "The latest round of AFL, and episodes of a great cop show, Underbelly. I could put something on for you, when Thank God You're Here is over."

Eric glanced at the screen, and found himself flinching as he recognised Roz on the screen, who he'd known a lifetime before, back when they'd both been just starting out in acting. Fuck, at least he wasn't still doing comedy.

"I'm fine, thanks," Eric said, turning his back resolutely on the screen.

Lisa nodded, and left him alone, with his glass of ever-so-fucking-sensible water.

The comedy show ended, and was replaced by something that sounded like a cop show, moody theme music, tense dialogue, gunshots on the soundtrack. The accents were broad Australian, the place names as familiar to Eric as his own name, places he'd been or lived. It made him want to go home even more.

Someone said, "Chopper Read," and it took Eric a moment to realise the voice wasn't on the screen, it was behind him.

He straightened his shoulders, so the stitching of his jacket creaked against the leather.

"Chopper Read," the voice repeated, and he could hear the bloke was drunk enough to be slurring his vowels, dragging the sounds out too slow, even for an Australian.

"No," Eric said, turning around, sliding his jacket off, feeling his lips stretch in parody of a smile. "Chopper would have decked you already."

The bloke was big enough that Eric didn't have to feel guilty, and old enough to know better, wearing a backpacker's beard and scruffy hair, and an I Got Fucked in Amsterdam T-shirt.

"Why do you do it?" Eric's therapist had asked, and Eric had shrugged at her, with no words for the moment when some loser in a bar decided that picking a fight with the big bloke with the attitude problem would be fun.

Right at that moment, though, Eric knew why he did it. It was because, for a second, he felt like fighting for something, even though he didn't know what that something was. Pride? Honour? Ego? He didn't care; it was enough that it was there.

"Dickhead," the drunk said, and his fist whipped out, smacking into Eric's face, far faster than he had any right to be, so that Eric had to ride the blow backwards, off the bar stool, raw pain where the skin had split across bone.

Eric wasn't drunk, though, and he threw himself at the bloke, powering a fist into the man's sternum, and the pair of them went down, onto the sticky carpet. The bloke was over Eric, hand in Eric's hair, jerking his head forward then smacking it sideways onto the carpet, concrete solid underneath.

Eric's vision blurred, then the bloke got his knee into Eric's ribs, bolts of pain through bone and flesh. Bastard must have martial arts training, or something.

Fuck pride, ego and honour. Fuck adjustment issues, and aggression and everything else. Fuck it all. Eric swung his fist up, into the bloke's face, roaring as he pushed the man off him, then Lisa was grabbing at his hand, and the manager was pulling the bloke away, dragging them apart.

Eric pushed himself to his feet, brushing off Lisa's worried offers of help. "Don't," he told her. "You know where to find me, if the cops get involved."

Lisa nodded, handing Eric his jacket and helmet, and Eric didn't look back at the bloke he'd been fighting, who was swearing and trying to pull free from the manager's grip.

The light was on in the hall, when Eric let himself into the house, and he froze for a moment when he saw Orlando standing waiting for him.

Eric closed the door behind himself and walked through to the kitchen, to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. The water was cold and sweet, sliding down his throat, and he had to work to not push the chilled bottle against his aching face.

Orlando turned the kitchen light on, and Eric flinched, trying to imagine how he must look. Orlando didn't let him past, when Eric went to go upstairs.

"That probably needs stitches," Orlando said.

Eric shrugged. He thought about using bravado to get out of the room, but he was tired and he hurt, in more ways than could be explained away by a beating in a bar.

"Eric?" Orlando asked, and Eric rubbed at the blood on his face with his sore knuckles, until the movement of Orlando's hand made him lift his gaze.

Eric's pulse jumped, and his throat tightened. "Lan... Please?"

Orlando's fingers touched Eric's chest, and Eric held his breath, caught between wanting to wrap his arms around Orlando and knowing that he couldn't do that, not after what had happened between them.

Then Orlando slid arms around him, and Eric let go of his breath, almost afraid he was going to pass out with relief.

"I've made you scared of me," Eric said, touching Orlando's shoulder clumsily, stumbling through something like an explanation, or an apology. He didn't want to fight anymore, not himself, not strangers, and especially not Orlando.

Orlando wrapped himself around Eric, and Eric winced once involuntarily, when Orlando touched his ribs, then he pressed his swollen mouth against the side of Orlando's face.

He needed to talk, to tell Orlando things, to manage more than a stupid almost-apology, but his voice had failed, and it would have to wait, at least for a little while.


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