Fandom: Celebrity RPS
Pairing: Orlando Bloom/Sean Bean
Challenge: AU Orlibean. Sean is hired to kidnap Orlando who he assumes is a spoiled rich kid who turns out to be anything but, when the ransom isn't paid the order comes down for Sean to kill him. It's a race against time to get them both to safety. Written for amygirl's request at the_challenger.
Summary: Sean's little brother has a taste for the ponies but no talent when it comes to choosing winners, and owes a local gangster a lot more money than he can come up with. Sean agrees to do an "easy job" in payment of the debt -- kidnapping a spoiled young punk named Bloom and hanging on to him while the gangster gets a ransom from the lad's family. It should've been a simple job, but then things started to get complicated.
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.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight
By the time they were done with lunch, Sean had mostly gotten over the impulse to smack himself in the head with something heavy and blunt. Mostly.
What the hell had he been thinking?
All right, what he'd been thinking was that having Orlando flaring up at him had been sexy as hell. But thinking didn't have to mean doing -- he'd learned that when he was younger than Orlando himself and at forty he was more than old enough to keep his thoughts in his head where they belonged.
Which wasn't to say it wasn't true, mind. He was gorgeous when he was angry.
Of course he was gorgeous all the time -- it'd been a long time since Sean had seen a man who fit the word "beautiful" as well as Orlando. But there were different kinds of gorgeous and Sean hadn't really thought about him "that way" with any kind of seriousness, at least not until recently. The last, what, day or so?
Because before he'd just been the victim, someone Sean felt he had to look out for. Even after he'd discarded the idea that he was a selfish little wanker, he was still just a scared kid Sean had dragged into a bad situation. Sexy, yeah, in a listing-of-nice-parts sort of way. The way a man'd look at a woman with nice tits and think, Yeah, I'd do her -- just a thought about how that particular human animal was sexy enough to probably be a decent fuck. It didn't mean nothing and didn't stick in the brain beyond the next pint.
Since he'd quit the kidnapping business, though -- since he'd introduced himself proper and they'd started making plans about what to do and how to get out of the knot they were in -- it was like Orlando had turned into a real person. Not that he hadn't been before of course but Sean hadn't really seen him that way. He'd been more like a prop, a doll to carry around and look after and worry over. A pretty doll, yeah, but not much more.
But that introduction had changed something. It was like the real Orlando had been hiding before, but after Sean had put them on the same side, he'd come out and started to show who he really was.
Only fair, actually, since that was what Sean'd done, right?
And who Orlando really was was a bright, intense young man with strong feelings and ideas of his own, with a deep sense of empathy and responsibility -- contrary to the original stuck-up twit notion. Whoever was responsible for Merriwether having that description of the lad obviously didn't know him very well at all.
Not that this'd be the first time a father didn't know his son very well. One of Sean's mates had run off to London to go on the stage and Ian's da, who'd wanted the lad to be a plumber like himself and his other two sons, had sworn at anyone who'd listen that Ian was a lazy, no-good wanker who wanted to act 'cause he was afraid of hard work. Sean had visited Ian a few times, though, while he was in London himself attending university, and he'd seen how hard Ian worked at his chosen trade. But Ian's da couldn't see that -- wouldn't let himself see that -- 'cause his son had defied him and was doing something the old man didn't understand.
It was likely the same with Orlando's da. He didn't understand and didn't approve so he just assumed Orlando was being selfish and lazy and whatever all else.
But Orlando was about as far from selfish as anyone Sean knew. Imagine getting angry at the bloke who'd kidnapped you 'cause his family might be in danger. Sean didn't think he'd ever worked up that much of a mad over folks he'd never met and didn't imagine he ever would. It just wasn't in him. To Orlando, though, it was as natural as breathing.
So they'd just have to figure out a way of pulling everyone out of this in one piece, Sean's family and Orlando's family (or what part of it deserved to be rescued) both.
Emma the housekeeper had served them all a decent lunch and they'd kept the talk away from the whole kidnapping thing out of respect for Rose, who seemed a bit queasy over the situation. Hormones, most like, and Sean had a healthy respect for them, having known one or two pregnant women in his day.
Afterward, though, Rose had gone back upstairs to whatever she'd been doing and Cousin William had taken them back to the drawing room.
"So what are you going to do when -- or fine, if -- you find out that Uncle Edward had nothing to do with this?" William asked as soon as they'd settled back onto the sofas.
"I know it's him," said Orlando, sounding stubborn.
"And if it's not," Sean said quickly, before William could argue, "then it's all the same. Orlando's safe and he doesn't have to pay anything. Next time Merriwether contacts him, he'll say he's got his son back and isn't paying a cent and that's the end of it."
"That's the end of our end of it," Orlando said, glaring at Sean. "We still have to make sure your family's all right." He turned to his cousin and asked, "Will you help me out with that? I know Father won't and I can't do it by myself."
"Orlando..." Sean started but Orlando thumped him on the arm and cut him off.
"Shut it. Wills?"
"Maybe if you tell me what you need?" Wills gave him a raised eyebrow and a sideways smirk.
"I need enough money to pay this Merriwether character what Sean's brother owes him. That's what started this whole thing, Sean's brother's gambling debt. If we can pay that off then Merriwether can tell everyone that he's leaving Sean and his family alone because they paid him what they owe and he won't lose face with his criminal friends."
"Wait, wait!" William glared at Orlando, then at Sean, then back at Orlando. "You mean this man wants you to just hand him a million pounds because you feel sorry for his brother?!"
"A million?!" Orlando looked shocked and glanced up at Sean.
"No, it weren't no million! Christ, I'd have killed Tommy meself if it'd been that much!" Sean stared back at Orlando, then returned William's glare. "It were two hundred and eighteen thousand, and at that I wanted to thump him a good one. And his wife will as soon as he's out of hospital -- you watch."
"The kidnappers asked Uncle Edward for a million," William insisted.
"Well, they must've thought they could get it, I suppose," Orlando said with a shrug. "Two-eighteen's a sort of odd number after all, might as well round it up."
"You think that's funny?" asked William, sounding incredulous. "So, what, it's all fine because you're getting a discount? Are you listening to yourself?" He surged to his feet and stalked over to Sean and Orlando's sofa and planted himself in front of it, radiating anger. This man here, who admits he kidnapped you, wants you to pay him over two hundred thousand pounds and for what? For being nice and letting you go again? And you think you owe it to him?"
Sean bellowed, "I didn't ask for--!" and at the same time Orlando jumped up and got into William's face with, "Owing isn't the point!" They turned and stared at each other for a moment, then Orlando turned back to his cousin and spat out, "It's about keeping a bunch of innocent people from getting hurt or killed by a gang of criminals!"
"How do you know? Because he told you? And you believe him?" William glared right back and the two of them faced off, a pair of handsome young men close enough in looks to be brothers and so obviously angry that Sean wondered if they'd start pounding on each other.
"Of course I believe him! He has no reason to lie about it!"
"He has two hundred and eighteen thousand reasons to lie to you, idiot! How do you know this Merriwether man even exists? You've only seen two men, this one and that other one -- maybe they're in it together and the other one's been calling Uncle Edward. Maybe they asked for the million because they knew the two hundred thousand would sound so much more reasonable later! Have you even thought of that?!"
"Of course not!" Orlando shouted, then he blinked and took a deep breath. "No," he said, slightly calmer. "I hadn't thought of it. And now that I have, I don't believe it. If it'd been someone else then yes, maybe, but not Sean."
"As if you know him at all." William rolled his eyes to the ceiling looking for guidance, or maybe just someone to share his opinion of how moronic his cousin was being, since Orlando didn't seem to get it and Sean certainly didn't think so.
Sean didn't know what to say, actually. He could insist that he was telling the truth but what'd that prove? Nothing, that's what. If he really were running some sort of con game on Orlando then that's exactly what he'd say. He had no idea how to prove to Orlando, much less to William, that he was honest and that he hadn't cooked up this whole kidnapping scheme by himself. Or even with Donny, perish the thought. All he could do right then was wait and hope Orlando kept on believing him. Not for the money -- although he had to admit it'd be a help and would get them out of Tommy's mess better than anything else he could think of -- but because he didn't want Orlando to think he was a liar and a thief. He wanted to be able to stay friends after all this was over, no matter how unlikely it seemed right then.
"Well, I think you're deluded, that's all," William insisted. "You've formed an unhealthy attachment to your kidnapper -- Stockholm Syndrome, they call it -- and you're no fit judge of whether he's lying or not."
"I'm not--!" Orlando snapped, but William raised his voice and overrode him.
"You can think what you like but you're on your own. I did my best to convince Uncle Edward to pay them their million when we thought your life was in danger but you're home now and you're fine and you're not going anywhere with him if I have to tie you down myself--" and he shot a quick glare in Sean's direction before continuing, "--and I'm not giving tuppence to him because he's a kidnapper and a thief. He may have talked his way around you but I see him for what he is."
Orlando snarled something foul and pulled back a clenched fist. Sean jumped up and grabbed his arm.
"Here, none of that!" He tugged Orlando backward a step, away from William, who looked ready to jump right into a brawl if Orlando wanted to start one and maybe even if he didn't. "No reason to go pounding on anyone, especially someone who thinks he's doing what's best for you. And maybe he is, I don't know."
Orlando and William both started shouting again but Sean waved them both down. "Look, I never asked for no money," he said, staring hard at William. "And when the lad insisted, I said it'd be a loan." He turned and looked at Orlando and continued, "But if it's going to cause a rift between you and the only family you're close to then forget it. We'll work it out somehow. We take care of our own and we'll get through this too."
He let go of Orlando's arm and turned away because he just didn't want to look at either of them anymore for a bit. He needed to pull his thoughts together and figure out a way out of all this.
Sean walked the few steps over to the cold fireplace and leaned one arm against the polished mantel. It'd never occurred to him that anyone might think he'd been behind all of this. When William had said it, though, it'd made sense. It wasn't true but Sean could see how someone else who'd just heard about what'd happened might believe it.
Maybe Merriwether'd counted on that? He'd thought before that Merriwether might've meant to pass all the blame onto Sean so this'd just be more of the same. But he couldn't have known Orlando would offer to pay Tommy's debt -- that were just some cracked notion of the lad's and no one could've predicted it. But if Merriwether already had some scheme to pin the blame for the kidnapping on Sean, that'd sure help out, now wouldn't it?
Sean had just turned to face them once more, looking like he had something to say, when Orlando saw the door open out of the corner of his eye and Rose peeked in. Her face was tight with worry and when she stepped through the door, her shoulders were hunched and her hands clenched. Orlando thought she must've heard the shouting and come down expecting to see a war going on in her drawing room.
She took another step into the room, then bit her lip and hurried over to William. "Will?" She gave him a quick looking-over, then took his hand and tried to tug him toward the door. "It's time to go, remember? It's market day. You need to take Emma to do her shopping."
Orlando stared at her, his eyes wide. The intrusion of something so mundane as marketing into the atmosphere of anger and shouting and criminal accusations was just surreal.
"Rosie, not now," Wills said. His voice was low and he sounded a little embarassed.
"Why not now?" she asked, her voice edging up toward hysteria. "It has to be now. If you wait then the shops will be crowded and you know Emma hates crowds. And it has to be today because she doesn't have the chops or the carrots for dinner and we're nearly out of milk--"
"For God's sake, Rosie!" Wills looked like he wanted to shake her only of course he didn't, especially with her condition and all. "Uncle Edward should be here within half an hour and you want me to take Emma shopping?"
"You know she can't lift the heavy things by herself," Rosie insisted, still tugging on Wills's hand. "I can't help her and she needs you and there's no reason you have to be here when Uncle Edward comes. They want to talk to him but this is nothing to do with you. And... and if they don't stop shouting then I'll just... I'll call the police and have them thrown out!"
With that she burst into tears and buried her face in Wills's shoulder. He looked helplessly over his wife's head at Orlando and Sean, then said, "All right, all right, hush. We're not shouting anymore, see? And you're right, I don't have to talk to Uncle Edward. You tell Emma to get ready and I'll meet her in front in five minutes, all right?"
Rose gave Orlando and Sean an angry glare over her shoulder, then sniffled and nodded. "All right," she said. "Five minutes!" She hurried out the door, wiping her eyes.
"Sorry," Wills said, rubbing his arm and looking a bit sheepish. "It's just, you know, women? She's been all over tears at the drop of a hat since she started showing, and if you tell her I said so I'll thump you good! But she's right, I don't have to be here because Uncle Edward will see the situation just as plainly as I do. So you tell him you're safe and he can call the police and that's the end of it, right?"
Orlando felt a shot of anger returning at the reminder of what Wills thought of Sean. He glared and felt his muscles stiffening again but didn't want to restart the fight so he just said, "Fine. I hadn't ever thought of asking him for any help anyway." He was vaguely aware that he sounded like a bratty little boy when he said that but he couldn't help it; his father brought out the worst in him these days, even if it were just a matter of talking about him.
"All right, then," Wills said. And with a nod, he left.
Next Chapter: Ten