Pairing: Liam Neeson/Orlando Bloom, minor Liam/Johnny Depp, plus a few other pair-ups among the supporting characters.
Rating: NC-17 overall
Summary: Slave Orlando's been taken and the kidnappers aren't interested in ransom. And of course Master Liam's thundering rage is only at the personal insult, that someone would disrespect him by daring to touch his property.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone you recognize. I know nothing about their social lives or sexual activities, more's the pity. This is fiction, period. It is done as a labor of love and I make no money from it.
Notes: 1) Set in poisontaster's Kept Boy universe -- FAQ here. See Chapter 1 for more notes.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five
Cage was two minutes late the next evening. It was long enough to be disrespectful, but little enough that it might be just a difference in watch settings. Liam despised that kind of game-playing, but he was used to ignoring it. If an adversary was trying to get an emotional reaction, giving it to him would be stupid.
Liam let Cage in with a civil nod and led him to a small table under the window where a spice-scented meal had been spread only a few minutes earlier. They didn't bother pretending to be pleasant or friendly; Liam spread out the contents of his file on Csokas and they both shovelled down food while going over it.
Despite his abrasive attitude and wrong-headed ideas, when he buckled down to work, Cage had some good suggestions to make about approaching their mutual goal. By the time they finished it was just full dark -- time to leave.
There was still plenty of traffic in the streets, so they didn't stand out the way they would have if they'd waited till the small hours of the morning. At quarter till eight, they were just two more men on their way to an evening of leisure.
Liam drove his rental car to within a quarter mile of Csokas's bolthole, then pulled over in a well lit spot and parked. He scanned the locals and spotted a group of boys hanging out, as boys always did and always had when the opportunity presented itself. He chose the one the others seemed to be orbiting, a boy in a neatly wrapped turban and a T-shirt with some Bollywood actress's face on it, and called, "Young man! You, in the yellow shirt. I'll pay you if you'll watch my car for an hour."
The young man smirked at him, said something to his friends that got them all laughing, then sauntered over. "Sahib needs service?"
Liam knew he was being made fun of, but under the circumstances he didn't particularly care so long as he got what he wanted. He pulled out a wad of bills -- pre-counted earlier so he wouldn't have to fumble with money -- and said, "Here, twenty thousand rupees. I'll give you the same when I come back if my car's still here and in good shape." It was a lot of money -- almost a thousand in imperial dollars -- but all Liam cared about was the car still being there when he and Cage were finished. The young man was still smirking, but he took the money and his friends looked eager.
"One hour, sahib. I have an appointment then, so if you're late then your car will have to protect itself."
"It's good to be punctual," Liam retorted with a smirk of his own. He added, "Thank you," then turned and strode off up the road, Cage next to him.
"Wow," said Cage, "you really have a knack for fostering good will and friendly relations with people from other cultures. You should teach classes or something."
"He wants money, I want the car to be there when we need it," Liam said flatly. "We both got what we wanted; that's how business works."
He heard a snort from Cage, but they walked on without speaking further and got to their destination a few minutes later.
Csokas's place was on the outskirts of huge, sprawling Mumbai, set back behind lush foliage and a high wall and invisible from the street. That suited Liam just fine. Satellite photos on the net had shown that the wall around the property was broken down in several places; he and Cage entered through one of the breaks, off a dark footpath.
Lord Smith's contact had insisted that there was no significant security around the property, that it was just a a rental estate like any other, popular with foreigners; most of the neighbors, when they were in residence, were businesspeople from Indonesia, China and Korea, who travelled to oversee companies, partners, deals. That there were no guards, cameras or alarms, no motion sensors or laser beams, not even a dog running loose inside the fence.
Liam hadn't believed the report, of course. A man who'd made his fortune stealing from rich nobles used to getting their way and crushing whoever opposed them had to have taken some precautions. Careful inspection of the perimeter, the wall, and the gap in the wall turned up nothing, however. The barely-visible path, a scant thinning of the dense foliage between the gap and the house, was only that -- a path hardly anyone ever used. Taking care not to make too much noise nor cause too much swaying of branches over their heads slowed the two men down, as did searching for lenses and trip-wires and microphones and sensor plates which didn't exist.
By the time they came within a few meters of the house, Liam was convinced that Csokas was insanely confident. Or maybe he was just that certain that he'd gotten away clean, that no one would be after him, that he was perfectly free to enjoy the rest of his life in luxury.
Except not really. Liam was looking forward to teaching him just how mistaken he was. And he was fairly sure that Cage was more than willing to explain any details Liam himself missed during the first go-round.
Cage leaned in until their shoulders were pressed together and whispered, "Too easy."
Liam nodded, tapped Cage on the arm, and pointed around toward the other side of the house. Cage nodded and vanished into the darkness.
After a count of fifty, Liam stood up straight, stepped out of the cover of the foliage, and strode up onto the wide, covered porch, to the glass-paned front entrance. It was a pair of tall double doors, flanked by tall windows in the same style. They were all topped by fan lights. A dim glow shone through the glass, and from up close Liam could see a darkened entryway, with light shining through a doorway at the far side of the entrance hall.
The house was quiet, with no sound of conversation, or even music or television. Nothing indicated that Cage had been discovered. Well, if Csokas was that insanely confident, the direct approach would likely work.
Liam rang the bell.
He'd counted twenty-two seconds before he heard footsteps approaching. A dark silhouette appeared in the doorway, paused, then approached and opened the door just a few inches. "Yes? What can I do for you?" The voice was low and pleasant, the man himself tall -- within a couple of inches of Liam's own six-four -- and slender but solid. He looked like a perfectly normal person, the sort of man you'd do business with, have a drink with. Liam wasn't impressed; he could project exactly that same harmless aura himself if he cared to, and it meant exactly nothing.
"Mr. Marton Csokas?" he asked, putting on a friendly and slightly self-conscious smile. "One of the concierges at my hotel said you'd moved here recently -- from the Empire -- and I'm having some difficulties with a business deal and asked about someone who might be able to give me some advice about how things work here, so he gave me your name and directions...." Liam let his voice trail off, looked away for a moment, then back at Csokas and shrugged. "I realize I'm a stranger asking a favor, but I thought maybe for a fellow Imperial, you might be willing to give me an hour or so of your time, just explain a few things? I'm sorry if I'm intruding."
There, he thought with an internal snort. You're not the only one who can play harmless.
"And you are...?" Csokas asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I don't usually-- I mean, this is just so, you know." Liam shrugged and laughed at himself, taking a step forward, making sure his sturdy shoe was over the threshold. He'd spotted another dark figure approaching over Csokas's shoulder, and forced himself to stay relaxed. "Neeson," he said. "Liam Neeson."
Csokas immediately stiffened in clear recognition, scowled, and tried to slam the door. What he thought it'd do to have the mostly-glass door closed instead of opened Liam didn't know, and didn't particularly care. The door bounced against his foot and he moved forward, but Csokas was faster. He backed up several steps and jerked a pistol out of his jacket pocket.
"How the fuck did you find me?" he snarled. His lips were tight with anger and agression, but there was fear in his darting eyes. Without waiting for an answer, he said, "Never mind, I don't care. I can move again -- I have enough money to go anywhere I want!"
He extended the pistol, gripping it with both hands, and Liam made himself stand and hold Csokas's gaze. One, two, three....
Cage slipped up behind Csokas and slammed his doubled fists into the man's temple like swinging a sledgehammer or a baseball bat. The pistol went off with a thundering BAM! that blew splinters out of the doorjamb just past Liam's shoulder, and Csokas collapsed down onto the tiled floor.
Liam let out a breath, careful to do it quietly. He wanted to tear a strip off of Cage, but the man's smirk was fully in place and Liam knew he was just waiting for an explosive reaction. Damned if Liam would give him the satisfaction.
He stepped forward to where Cage had Csokas mostly pinned on the floor, planted a heavy foot on the one wrist that was still free and flailing, and commented, "I don't suppose it would've bothered you if that'd hit me."
"Not a bit," said Cage with a cheery grin. "Marty's hands on the gun and all, it would've been unfortunate but not my problem."
"You're a cold bastard, Cage."
"From you I'll take that as a compliment," Cage retorted.
Keeping his attention on Csokas, Liam took a pair of leather gloves out of his jacket pocket. It was too warm to be able to wear them without drawing attention, but he needed them then. He pulled them on, one at a time. They were heavy enough to provide some protection, but light enough not to impede movement. Specifically, the kind of movement required for fingers to curl into a fist.
Csokas was squinting up at Cage, peering into the dim as though there were something wrong with his vision. Likely there was, after a blow like that. "Nick? Fuck, is that you?"
"Sure is, Marty." Cagegave Csokas a smirk and kicked him hard in the hip. Csokas gasped out a pained noise. Cage's grin widened. "You know, I didn't think you were even paying attention when we had meetings at our place back when. All you ever did was bitch that we were disturbing you while you tried to study."
"At least I did something with it," Csokas retorted. His voice was tight with pain, but he was clearly trying to put on a good show. He jerked his wrist out from under Liam's shoe and scooted back until he could prop himself in a seated position against the wall. "More than you bleeding-heart whiners ever did."
"Maybe you're right. Of course, we wouldn't exactly advertise it if we ever had."
Liam broke up the class reunion by grabbing the front of Csokas's shirt and hauling him halfway to his feet. Without any warning, he landed a hard, precise punch to the man's nose; he felt cartilage crushing and bone breaking under his fist. Csokas gurgled out a pained cry as he crashed back down to the floor, with an intermediary bounce off the wall.
"Wha' you wan?! Fuh, teh me wha' you wan!" Csokas had one hand on his blood-spattered nose and the other flailing in front of him, as though trying to fend Liam off.
Liam said, "I want you never to have touched my boy." He kept his voice under tight control, cold and hard. He knew that if he let his roiling emotions out, unleashed the lava-hot fury bubbling inside him, he'd start shouting his anger and that would attract too much attention. Control, always. "I can't have that, though," he continued, "so I'm going to have to settle for making you regret it very strongly." He hauled Csokas up again and buried a fist deep in the man's diaphragm. Csokas bent at a sharp angle around the fist in his midsection, every molecule of air shooting out of his lungs. He couldn't make any noise after that one sharp whuffing sound.
Still cold and methodical, Liam slammed him against the wall, then crushed the man's genitals with a knee.
Csokas opened his mouth to scream, but still didn't have any air. He crumpled to the floor once more, clutching himself and gasping for breath.
"Fuck, man, leave some for me." There was no snark or attitude in Cage's voice; he sounded shocked, and Liam doubted he let that show very often.
"You'll get your turn." Liam didn't bother looking at Cage while he spoke, but kicked Csokas hard in the face with a sturdy, thick-soled boot, adding more broken bones and teeth to the already crushed nose.
Another yank upright, and then Liam aimed a jab right into a kidney, then again into the other one. A third punch aimed at Csokas's stomach grazed off a rib and Liam felt pain radiating through his hand. He ignored it and kept going.
Csokas couldn't speak anymore, barely had breath to whimper. Liam pulled back a fist, the leather of his glove smeared with gore, but before he could get in another blow, Cage grabbed his wrist.
"Neeson! Enough! Come on, man!"
Liam's head whipped around and he glared at Cage, jerking his hand away. "I'll decide when I'm finished."
"You're gonna kill him!"
"That was the idea, yes. Did you want another shot at him before we finish it?"
Cage just stared. His gaze was stark and expressionless. He shook his head, slowly. "Punishment is one thing, but murder is something else," he said, his voice low and tight and neutral. "Enough already."
"I take care of what belongs to me." Liam glared at Cage, a hard, assessing stare, calculating whether he was going to become another obstacle. "My boy is in a processing center right now, at this exact minute, getting raped and beaten and taught to eat shit with a smile on his face, or whatever the fuck they teach body-slaves in those places. I don't give a god damn whether you think this asswipe has had enough. It's not your choice, I don't want your opinion, and if you try to interfere I'll take you down too before finishing up with him. Am I going to need to do that?"
There was a long silence, and Liam tensed -- surprised that it was possible for him to tighten up any more than he already was -- ready to fend off an attack. He had the feeling Cage was the sort of man who, if he did decide to attack, would just lunge without warning.
Eventually it became clear he'd decided not to; he shook his head again, took a slow step backward, and said, "No." He stared at Liam for another moment, searching his face, then walked past him, past the quivering body of Csokas curled on the floor, and continued on out the door.
Some men didn't know how to handle violence, no matter how much they thought they wanted it, said they wanted it, claimed to be looking forward to it. Cage had talked a good talk about wanting to find Csokas and punish him for what he'd done. Liam had believed him, thinking his abolitionist sentiments -- wrong-headed as they might be -- would carry him through the reality of eliminating the man who'd perverted all their ideas for breaking slaves out of the system.
No guts, he thought with some scorn. No backbone when it comes down to reality.
Liam didn't have that problem, and he picked up where he'd left off without a second thought.
Next Chapter: Chapter Thirty-Seven