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
The Bloom kid was still sleeping a lot, curled up in his chair with one wrist dangling from the pipe. Sean kept waking him up every two or three hours, made sure he was reasonably lucid and fed him more aspirin if he seemed to be in pain. By dinner time the lad was feeling hungry again, which Sean took as a good sign. Likely it was the hangover wearing off, leaving just the concussion.
He still needed steadying as well as guiding on trips to the loo and Sean figured that'd probably last a few days yet; the one time in a brawl he'd gotten hit in the head hard enough to go to a doctor he'd been dizzy on and off for nearly a week. The doctor hadn't wanted to keep him in hospital, though -- he'd just prescribed some pills to help with the dizziness some. Bloom wasn't doing a whole lot of walking and whenever he did, Sean was right there to hold him up, so he figured -- was hoping really hard, truth to tell -- that just riding it out without any actual medical attention wouldn't hurt the lad any.
Sean cooked up some noodles and mixed in a can of tuna. His mum had always melted cheese on top when she'd made this sort of dish but the cheddar in the fridge didn't look too good. He eyed it dubiously, then found a knife in a drawer and cut the block in half. It looked just fine on the inside and when he sniffed it, it smelled... well, cheesy. Pretty strong, but he'd always liked strong cheese anyway.
He shrugged and sliced off the greening outer edges, then cut up the middle and tossed it on top before putting the whole mess into the oven. It still didn't look quite like what his mum made, but it should be edible.
When it was done -- that is, when the cheese had melted -- he dished some up into a bowl, grabbed a spoon and a tea towel and brought it all over to Bloom's chair. He shook the lad awake, then spread the towel on his lap, set the bowl on it and put the spoon into his free hand. "I thought you might want to feed yourself this time," he muttered, looking away. He'd fed the lad his beans earlier, one forkful at a time, but he seemed to be feeling better now and Sean wouldn't have wanted anyone feeding him like a baby any longer than necessary. The kid nodded thanks and poked awkwardly at the bowl in his lap. Sean left him to it, figuring he'd get it with practice.
He filled his own bowl and sat at the small table, facing the lad's chair so he could keep an eye on him.
What he saw made him wince more than once. Obviously blind folks had some sort of trick to it, or got some training or whatever. And of course, most of them had two hands to work with. By the time Sean was done with his own food -- and he ate faster as he got closer to finishing -- most of the Bloom kid's dinner had fallen down onto his shirt or into the tea towel on his lap.
Sean set aside his own bowl and dragged his chair over next to the lad. "I'm sorry," he muttered, feeling some need to apologize for whatever reason. "I thought ye'd rather do it yourself but this isn't working too well, is it?" He took the spoon out of the boy's hand and worked on scraping what was salvageable back into the bowl.
"I'm sorry. I tried, I really did, I just can't quite manage it." The lad was all but whispering and seemed ashamed of his failure to feed himself. His shoulders were hunched up as though he expected Sean to smack him for it.
"It's all right, don't worry over it." Sean patted him awkwardly on the arm, then wiped his greasy hand off on his trousers. "Here, open up." He spooned some noodles and cheese into the boy's mouth, then waited while he chewed and swallowed.
"Thank you," the lad said, in between bites. "It's quite good."
Sean snorted and shoveled in another spoonful. "It's tasteless dreck, is what it is, but it's filling and it's better than beans again." There wasn't exactly a wide selection of food, much less of seasonings. Sean wasn't exactly a fancy cook but even his own bachelor skills were limited by the barren kitchen.
The kid swallowed and gave him a sort of half smile. "Maybe I'm just really hungry."
"That must be it," Sean agreed. He gave him another mouthful, then added, "They say that hunger is the best spice, yeah? Yeh didn't eat much of the beans and likely hadn't eaten for a while before that, so I guess this is tasting pretty spicy."
The lad made a snorking sound and his head jerked a couple of times. Sean stared at him in alarm, afraid he was choking, but he managed to swallow and then giggled. The light sound made Sean smile in relief.
"Yes, I think it is at that." He smiled up at Sean, sharing the humor. Sean hadn't thought it was all that funny a joke, but the lad's life had been pretty tense lately, likely even frightening, and he supposed that even a bit of a laugh to lighten things up might seem like a huge relief. Or something like that.
When they were done he dumped the dishes in the sink and filled them with water. He'd wash up later but just then he needed to get his charge cleaned up some. He wet down another tea towel, then went back to the easy chair and pulled out the handcuff key.
"I'm going to unlock your arm so I can get your shirt off -- it needs a wash. It's not too cold in here so you should be fine for a bit." The lad nodded and stayed quiet while Sean released him and tugged the soiled T-shirt over his head. He used the towel to wipe up the kid's face and hands, along with a few patches of grease that'd soaked through his shirt onto his chest. The smooth skin under his fingers, even through the damp towel, was, well, distracting. Sean couldn't help thinking what it'd be like to be touching him without the towel between them -- and without a lot of other things between them as well -- but he managed to keep it to himself.
He thought about locking the lad back up when he'd finished, then shrugged and said, "You behave, now. I'll be back in a few." He walked away, over to the bathroom, his footsteps clear on the wooden floors. He stood in front of the sink and ran the water until it was hot, watching out the door all the while. There was a straight view of the boy's chair from the bathroom sink and he'd have known in half a second if he'd tried anything, but he just sat there, not touching his scarf nor even trying to get up. He rubbed his arm and shoulder as though they ached, though. No surprise there -- he was likely feeling pretty stiff after all this time with his arm in one position like that.
When the water heated up, Sean filled the sink and went to work on the shirt with a bar of soap. It didn't suds up all that well but it was good enough to get the worst of the grease off. He rinsed it out and wrung it as best he could, then hung it over the shower curtain to dry.
The washing up still needed to be done so Sean got to it. While moving around the kitchen, he kept an eye on the Bloom kid--
"Hey? Bloom? What's your name anyway?" Sean'd been calling him "Bloom" and "kid" and all in his head ever since Merriwether'd given him the job but it felt odd now. The way he was taking care of the lad reminded him of babysitting for Tommy when he'd been younger, doing all the cooking and washing up because Tommy was too little. Merriwether'd told him the boy's first name but he'd forgot somewhere along the line.
"It's Orlando." Orlando paused and then added, "Sir," when it became clear that Sean still wasn't willing to share his own name.
"Orlando, then. I were just wondering."
Sean went back to the dishes. Orlando. Better than "the Bloom kid" at least.
Later that evening, Sean was back at the table playing solitaire with the fifty-one card deck. Orlando was still sitting curled up in his chair, his arms wrapped around his middle. Sean thought of offering him a blanket but he didn't look cold -- there was no gooseflesh visible and he wasn't shivering -- and the temperature was a mite warm for the season if anything. Rather, he looked like he was just sitting in his own world, silent and dark. Listening, mayhap, waiting to see if Sean would approach him, tell him it was time to do something, move somewhere.
There was no doubt in Sean's mind that the lad -- Orlando -- would do it, too, no matter what he asked of him, whatever he demanded. He'd been quiet and patient and no bother at all, or at least no more than he could help, being blindfolded and stuck in one spot, even if not chained there anymore. If Sean had ever imagined kidnapping anyone, he'd not have thought that the victim would be anywhere near this cooperative.
Tommy sure wouldn't have. Tommy'd been a right handful as a youngster, dashing about and getting into everything, asking endless questions, making messes and breaking things and charging off to the next disaster -- sometimes Sean'd thought the brat did it deliberately, whenever their parents had gone out and left Sean in charge, just for the fun of watching Sean scramble around trying to tend to everything and get it all sorted out before Mum and Da got home.
And yet for all the trouble he'd been, for all the trouble he was now, Sean couldn't imagine wanting to be rid of him. He wasn't a bad lad, even with the gambling and all the related foolishness, even with Sean sitting there in a cottage with a kidnap victim and himself a felon if anyone ever found out about it -- for all that, he still wouldn't want to lose his brother.
So how then could Orlando's family ever want to be rid of him? Or just not want him back enough to be willing to pay whatever was asked? Assuming they could -- maybe that was the problem. Maybe Merriwether thought they'd more money than they did; it was possible they'd had some hard times and were putting on a good show for the look of it but were actually deep in debt themselves.
But Orlando hadn't asked what if his da couldn't pay, he'd asked what if his da didn't want to pay. That was two different things, clearly.
For all Merriwether'd insisted Orlando was a stuck-up little snot, though, Sean hadn't seen it, not a bit. Granted the boy was probably frightened and that could improve anyone's manners, but it was hard to completely hide a truly nasty nature and by now Sean would've expected to've seen some sign of his charge's inner selfishness, some shred of attitude. But he'd not even whined and he'd had more cause than many.
Sean gave the battered deck a last shuffle and set them aside, then sauntered over to the living room. He flopped down on the sofa, making sure the lad could hear him, and said, "So, what's the story, then? Why d'you think your Da won't be wanting to pay to get you back?"
Orlando'd jumped a bit when he heard the sofa cushions wheeze and the frame creak, then settled back down in his chair. He wrapped his arms tighter around himself and brought one hand up so he could chew on a knuckle. He shrugged and said, "We just haven't agreed on very much, not for the last few years."
Sean snorted disbelief. "It takes more than a bit of a disagreement to make a man glad to see the last of his oldest son. And it's not like you're catching a boat for the Antipodes -- my employer's a nasty sort and he's likely to have you killed if he don't get what he wants and he'll certainly let your da know of his intentions. So you're saying he'd let you be murdered rather than part with some cash, all because you've disagreed?"
Orlando shrugged again. He'd pulled his knees up and he wrapped his arms around them and pillowed his scarf-wound head on top. "Some disagreements are larger than others," he murmured, so quietly Sean could barely hear him.
Just then Sean's mobile beeped, interrupting him. He pulled it out, saw that it was Merriwether and got up to answer it in the bathroom, where he could still keep an eye on Orlando but could speak softly enough that the conversation would be private.
Merriwether got right to the point and said, "The family is being difficult. I need a finger to help persuade them."
Orlando had spent the day just sitting and thinking. He wondered what was going to happen to him and thought about how he'd gotten here and whether he could've done anything any differently to have prevented all... all this. Probably not. If the kidnappers just wanted money then whatever'd made them settle on Orlando as a target would likely still've been there, but maybe if he and his father had gotten along, it would've been like his captor had said -- an exchange of cash for Orlando and then all's done.
He had hopes, though, that the man holding him wouldn't kill him, whether the ransom were paid or not. He hadn't been like any kidnapper Orlando had ever imagined, and growing up in a wealthy family he had imagined being kidnapped before, from the time he was very small.
The reality was different, though. He'd been fed and taken care of, and the only damage done him had been caused by Bert, if he could believe a kidnapper. Unfortunately he thought he likely could, since Bert hadn't been terribly polite even when they were negotiating their encounter in the alley.
And how could he disbelieve that voice? He'd hung on his captor's every word, as few as they'd been over the last day, letting that rough-honey voice roll over him, low and dark and intimate. Orlando had some fuzzy memories of being carried and some much clearer memories of a strong arm around him, guiding him and helping him balance when the world lurched and swayed.
He fully realized he was being ridiculous, that the man was a criminal and cared for him only as a commodity to be stolen from his rightful owners and then sold back to them. Except that someone who saw him only as a thing from which to make money would have no reason to hand feed him -- handing him a bowl and telling him to use his fingers if he wanted to eat would've been easier and just as effective. Nor had he any reason to care whether Orlando's face was clean or whether his shirt got washed.
Orlando knew it was stupid but he felt cared for and he couldn't help grasping onto that because it was the only hope he had of getting through this situation alive. Surely the man's employer, whoever he was, couldn't be the sort who'd order someone like Orlando killed in cold blood, not if he were the sort to hire someone like the man who'd been taking care of him? A cold bastard would surround himself with other cold bastards, men who could and would follow whatever orders he gave no matter what. Orlando couldn't believe that of the man who'd brought him here and looked after him so well.
And when he asked why Orlando's father wouldn't want to pay for his return, he'd seemed genuinely puzzled, rather than simply angry as one might expect of someone who was only concerned with whether or not he was going to get his money.
He'd been trying to think how to explain what was really a petty and sordid family matter when he'd heard a phone ring, and then his captor had walked away. A few moments later, a bellowed "Like hell!" echoing across the room made him jump in shock.
Next Chapter: Chapter Four