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
"There's Father Serra!" Jamie knelt up on the seat, careful not to kick his daddy, and plastered his face against the car window as it rounded a curve of the highway and passed the kneeling statue, one long arm and pointing finger extended. The sun was almost down and it was too dark to really see anything clearly, but Jamie had seen it a bunch of times before and knew what it looked like anyway. It was cool, the huge statue up in the hills, by the side of the freeway in the middle of nowhere. Just hills, trees, grass, trees, bushes, trees, then bam! Statue! Then more trees and stuff.
"Tell us again about the time you gave him a helmet and a football!" he asked, bouncing with eagerness. He remembered that too, the story about how when his daddy was at Stanford, they'd made a huge football helmet in red and white, 'cause those were Stanford's colors, and an even huger football, and put the helmet on the statue's head and put the football under the statue's finger, like it was holding the ball for some giant to kick. He liked it when Daddy told it, though.
His father gave him a look and said, "Say 'please.'"
Paula, on Daddy's other side, just rolled her eyes at him and went back to her book. Jamie ignored her; she was always trying to pretend she was so much smarter and cooler than he was, but she was just a brat.
"Please?" Jamie bounced a few more times, but slid back down to the seat, twisted around to watch his daddy. He seemed upset about something and Jamie didn't know what it was. He hadn't been all that interested in what he and Paula had been doing in school, or what Jamie wanted to get Mommy for Christmas, or anything. He'd pretended to listen but it wasn't the same. Jamie was eight -- he wasn't a stupid little kid anymore. He could tell when people were pretending around him.
He'd tried to think of all the stuff he'd done since last time he'd seen his daddy. There'd been all that blue paint he'd spilled on Mrs. Taylor's classroom floor. She'd been pretty mad, but it'd been an accident and the slaves had been able to clean it all up so you couldn't even tell. And he'd kicked over Maddy's juice at lunch a couple of weeks ago, but she'd been saying nasty things about a picture Jamie'd drawn so she deserved it. Although he wasn't sure if his daddy would agree. Mr. Kitchener hadn't, even though Jamie had explained. Maybe that was what Daddy was mad about?
Except he didn't seem mad. Not really. More sad. Maybe he was sad because Jamie'd been bad? Except he hadn't been that bad.
Maybe telling about the time they'd made the statue a football player would cheer him up. He'd always had fun when he told it before.
Daddy smiled at him and gave him a hug with one arm, and even if he didn't seem as happy as he usually was when it was the first day of their vacation together, Jamie was feeling a little better.
Paula was sighing loudly at both of them and Jamie was saying, "Pleasepleaseplease!" some more when his daddy's phone went off, in the bzz-bzz, bzz-bzz code that meant Johnny had sent him something he had to look at right away. He held up one hand to Jamie and pulled out the phone to check his e-mail.
Jamie sighed and looked out the window again. Business sucked. His mom and daddy both spent too much time doing boring stuff, even when it was supposed to be vacation.
But then Daddy straightened up like someone had poked him hard, and said a really bad cuss word. (Which was one of the best parts about growing up, in Jamie's opinion -- being able to cuss if you wanted without getting smacked or yelled at for it.)
Daddy punched keys really fast for a while, then sent his mail, then did it again and sent another mail, then another one. By the time he was done it was too dark to see anything outside except lit-up signs and stuff and they were close to home.
He put away his phone and looked at Jamie, then at Paula, then said, "I have something to tell you both before we get home." He paused a moment and Jamie wondered what it could be, because it sounded pretty bad. Maybe whatever Daddy'd been upset about?
"About a month and a half ago, someone stole Orlando. I've been trying very hard to find him, and I hired someone to help me, but we haven't been able to find him yet. I'm going to get him back, though."
Jamie was still trying to figure out how you could steal a someone. Usually it was things that got stolen. Slaves were sort of like things, because they belonged to people, but they weren't really. But then Paula gave another loud sigh and said, "Are you still fussing about that? Mommy told me ages ago. I don't know why you haven't just gotten over it and bought another one."
Daddy's head jerked around to look at her and Jamie shrank back as far as he could get into the corner of the seat. Even the back of Daddy's head was glaring. He was sure Paula was going to get yelled at good and maybe smacked, but Daddy just said, very quietly, "It's not a good idea to repeat what your mother says when you don't understand what's going on."
And he was right, because thinking about it, Paula had sounded exactly like Mom when she said that. She was just copying Mom, trying to make them think she was all grown up again.
Jamie couldn't see Paula from where he was, just her legs shifting. She whined, "He's just a slave! He's nice and all but you're not supposed to have slaves forever! Not body-slaves, anyway! You get one and you play with him for a while and then you sell him and get a new one. You're supposed to!" By the end she was almost yelling and Jamie ducked down again, afraid Paula was going to get a spanking right there in the car.
Instead, Daddy just looked at her for a little while, then said, "I'm sorry, baby," and pulled her into his lap. She started crying and he rocked her and rubbed her back all the rest of the way home.
When Javier pulled up the long driveway and parked the car, Jamie looked at the big house and it really hit him that Orlando wasn't there, that Orlando wouldn't come out to get their suitcases, wouldn't listen to what they'd been doing and what they wanted for Christmas, wouldn't be there to play with them.
Johnny and Samantha came out to get baggage and bundle them all into the house, with Daddy still carrying Paula. Jamie felt kind of like crying himself, but he didn't because he was a boy and boys don't cry, at least not out in front of everybody.
Samantha took Jamie's jacket and told him they were having fried chicken for dinner, and that there was mint-chocolate ice cream for dessert, then went away. Johnny'd gone to take their suitcases to their rooms, and Daddy had taken Paula upstairs. The sounds of the house were familiar -- footsteps and quiet voices. If he walked up the hall he'd hear kitchen sounds, making-dinner sounds.
This time, the just-gotten-home-from-school time, was when Orlando would come and listen to what he'd been doing for all the months since he'd been home, and play with him or find something fun for them to do. Jamie didn't know what to do, though, by himself. Johnny would be unpacking -- and that was usually Orlando's job too, something he'd do while listening to Jamie -- and putting things away in his room and he didn't feel like going up there yet.
He wandered into the big living room. The Christmas tree was already up. It was huge -- twice as tall as his daddy even -- and had a million ornaments and lights and stuff on it. It already had some presents under it, too.
Jamie went over and looked at the presents. He didn't touch anything, but he read the name tags. There were some things for Daddy in different kinds of wrapping paper, with names Jamie didn't know. Probably people he worked with. A few presents from neighbors, including a couple of presents each for him and Paula. They were just box-shaped, though, and he couldn't tell what they were. He knew better than to pick one up, to shake it or even see what it weighed.
He ran out of presents to look at and he knew all the ornaments. Most of them were just colored balls but there were some like little toys or dolls -- birds and bells and snowmen and angels and tiny stockings and drums and horns and stars and snowflakes and a bunch of other ones they'd had all his life.
Boring. Jamie didn't know what he wanted to do. He felt like running or yelling or crying but he couldn't do any of those things, so he went over to the couch and curled up in one corner. He stared at the tree but didn't really see it.
He didn't even notice when his daddy came into the room and sat down next to him.
"She'll be all right," he said. "She'll probably skip dinner, have a good sleep tonight, and be fine in the morning."
"Whatever," Jamie said. "It's not like she really cares about Orlando. She just didn't want to get yelled at so she started crying."
He felt his daddy shift next to him and Jamie looked up, suddenly worried that maybe he'd gone too far, grumped a little too much. But Daddy didn't look mad at him, just sad and tired.
"It's not Orlando," he said. "You're right, she doesn't know him as well as you do and she doesn't miss him as much. But do you remember Shane?"
Of course he did. "That was Mom's second-to-last old body-slave. I liked him. He was pretty cool."
"He was a nice boy," his daddy agreed. "Paula knew him a lot better than you did, though. She lived with your mother for most of last summer, remember? Shane was there and Paula liked him a lot."
"Liked him, liked him?" Jamie asked, ready to jeer. Because, yuck.
"No, not like that." His daddy poked him in the ribs. It tickled, but only for a second. "But he was a good friend. They talked a lot, and played together, and he took her places when your mother was busy -- the zoo and museums and shopping. They were good friends, best friends maybe. And then he left."
"Then Mom sold him," Jamie said. It wasn't correcting, not quite. "So she should know how you feel! How we feel, because Orlando's gone! Why was she so snotty about it, then, in the car?"
Daddy sighed and pushed a hand through his hair. He always did that when he was trying to figure out something hard. He finally said, "You know your mother and I don't always think the same way about slaves."
"About body-slaves," Jamie said, nodding. He was pretty sure it was just body-slaves. They treated the others the same.
"Right, about body-slaves. I've had Orlando since he was born, you know that. Johnny was my body-slave before, then when he was old enough it was Orlando. He's done that job for a long time."
"Mom thinks too long?" Jamie was careful about that. His parents were mostly careful about not letting him and Paula be disrespectful of them, although Mom didn't mind sometimes if you said something she'd said herself, like Paula had in the car. He didn't think saying that Mom thought Daddy'd had Orlando for too long was disrespectful. It was true, and he couldn't think of a nicer way to say it.
"Yes, she thinks I've had him too long. But that's not what I meant. Your mother doesn't keep her own body-slaves for very long. She thinks they're just like other slaves, that you shouldn't really get attached to them the way you would with a person. She's not really wrong -- a lot of people agree with her. And it makes things hard later on, if you become attached."
Jamie frowned and nodded, even though he wasn't really sure what his daddy was trying to say. It made sense that it'd be hard if you liked a body-slave a lot and then he got sold. But it'd have to be someone else's body-slave, because no one could make you sell your own slave, unless you lost all your money or something.
"Think about Paula," Daddy said. "She liked Shane very much. He was her best friend all summer. And then he was sold and he left and she'll never see him again. She was very sad, but your mother scolded her and told her that she shouldn't have let herself get attached to him, and that it was a good lesson. So Paula tried very hard to forget about Shane, and not let herself be sad anymore."
"So... it didn't work?" Jamie was still kind of confused. He could see how it would've sucked for Paula, though. She'd never mentioned it, but he remembered she'd been kind of quiet and touchy when they'd gone back to school that year.
"It... sort of worked." Daddy held up one hand and tilted it back and forth. "She got good at pretending she didn't care. She worked hard at it, and probably cried sometimes by herself, but she got good at pretending it didn't hurt anymore, maybe even pretending she'd never really liked him that much. Then she was in the car tonight and heard about how I'd lost my slave, someone I'd gotten attached to, and that I was going to get him back, that I was searching and hiring people to get him back."
"That's not fair," Jamie said immediately. He might not always understand things grown-ups thought were important, but he knew when something wasn't fair. All kids did.
"No, it's not. I get to go hunt for my slave and get him back, but she doesn't get to hunt for Shane. She isn't even allowed to admit she misses him. It's not fair and she got mad, and then she got sad about it again, because she couldn't pretend anymore that she didn't care he was gone."
"But she still doesn't care about Orlando."
"No, she probably doesn't. She doesn't know him like we do."
"So... it's all right to miss him?"
His daddy laughed, but it wasn't a happy laugh. He pulled Jamie over for a hug. Jamie hugged him back, then climbed into his lap. He was too big to get in his daddy's lap, but there wasn't anyone around to see. He felt the tears he'd wanted to cry earlier coming back.
"I do miss him. He's supposed to be here. What happened?"
"I don't know, kiddo. Someone stole him. I'm trying my best to get him back, and I think I have a big clue now."
Jamie sniffled and said, "What?" without taking his head off his daddy's chest.
"I got an e-mail from someone who says he's seen Orlando. Another slave who was stolen too. He wants me to help him, if he tells me about where he saw Orlando and what happened to them."
"Help him what?"
"I don't know, he didn't say. I wrote back to him saying I wanted to talk. I hope he'll tell me what he wants."
"You'll do it, right?"
"Of course. If I can."
That didn't sound very good to Jamie. That sounded like what adults said when they didn't think they could but wanted to keep you from whining about it for a while. "You have to," he said. "You can give him whatever he wants, right?"
"I don't know what he wants, Jamie. I'm sorry. I want Orlando back more than you do, and I want to promise I'll move the whole world to do it. But it's been a long time. I don't even know how long ago this other slave saw him. I'm not going to lie to you and promise it'll be all right. You're a big boy now and you understand that sometimes we can't have what we want, no matter how much we want it. If this other slave wants something I can give, something I can get, something I can help him with without breaking the law, then I'll do it. But he might want something I just can't do. We have to wait and see what he says."
Waiting sucked. Jamie hated waiting, and hated not knowing if there was even anything to wait for. It was worse than waiting for Christmas, because at least you knew Christmas was going to come, even if it took a long time.
He remembered Orlando riding him piggy-back, and helping him with his reading, and playing Batman and Robin with him, and taking him galloping on a horse back when he'd been too little to do it by himself. The tears fell. Jamie kept his face buried in his daddy's shirt and hoped no one would see him crying.
Note: If you want to see what the statue of Father Serra looks like, here's a photo. :)
Next Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Five