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
Sean snapped his phone shut and restrained himself from putting a fist through the wall.
He'd managed to persuade Merriwether that a lock of hair and a piece of jewelry would do for a first threat but when the bastard had hung up on him he'd been left wondering whether it'd actually been his persuasion that'd done the trick or whether Merriwether'd been playing Sean for some reason of his own. His dinner sat in his belly like a stone and threatened to make a reappearance. He sat down on the toilet and rested his face in his hands.
This was growing and twisting and was turning into something Sean wanted no part of. The kidnapping itself'd been bad enough, right about on the edge of what he'd have been willing to agree to. But the idea'd been that no one would get hurt -- he'd grab the kid, sit on him for a bit and then cut him loose to go back to his life of being a useless rich snot and none the worse for it, maybe with a story to impress his mates.
But looking back now, he had to wonder if that'd ever been what Merriwether'd had in mind. Had he ever planned for it to be a quick catch-and-release? What if Orlando's da did change his mind and paid the ransom -- what'd the twisty bastard order then?
Sean knew that in films the kidnappers always went to kill the victim after they'd got their money but he'd no idea whether that was true or how often. He'd never known anyone who'd been kidnapped, nor paid much attention when there was a mention in the papers or on the telly; it wasn't part of his world and he'd had his own concerns.
He'd been careful not to let Orlando see him but would Merriwether believe that? Would he even care?
He glanced up at the closed door in the direction of Orlando's chair and admitted that he honestly couldn't swear Orlando hadn't seen him at all, at least from the back or from a sharp angle, not for the last day or so since he'd left the lad's hands free. He could've snuck a peek with Sean none the wiser if he were quick and clever about it.
A moan escaped, muffled in Sean's palms. He'd tried to be reasonable and look after the lad, let him be as comfortable as he could be and all, and now he might end up with Merriwether insisting he be murdered for it.
I'm no good at this! He rubbed his forehead with the heels of his hands and tried to think. I manage a welding shop. I'm not a kidnapper nor any other kind of criminal and I don't know the rules nor how it all works and the lad's going to end up dead if I can't think of something.
For that matter, he'd no guarantee he himself was safe. He and Orlando might end up sharing a grave once Merriwether was done with the both of them.
And he didn't know enough about the situation to know if he were tipping over into paranoia or if he'd learned enough to finally be thinking smart.
He thought about just putting Orlando in the car and taking him home. That'd end it right there and if none of them were arrested afterwards then Merriwether'd know for sure that the lad couldn't identify any of them -- he'd have no reason to hurt him then. That'd be all fine for Orlando but it'd still leave Sean and his family to deal with a right pissed off Merriwether and he doubted the bully-boys'd stop with just threatening if Sean crossed their boss, on top of Tommy owing money.
No, it'd be better if Merriwether got what he wanted, at least as much of it as Sean was ready to allow him.
The first thing was to figure out how to get Orlando's father to pay the ransom. Once that was done, everything else was details and Sean thought -- hoped, prayed if he were in a praying habit -- he could work out the rest so Orlando ended up back home safe and clearly a threat to nobody. Then the job'd be done and Tommy'd be clear and Sean could go back to the shop and his worst worry'd be collecting on that overdue council job or the oxy delivery coming late again.
Right, then. He needed more information.
He got up and headed back out to the living room. Orlando was curled up in his chair, his arms wrapped around his middle in a way Sean'd come to recognize as nervous or even scared.
Sean settled back into his chair and said, "I need to know what's up with you and your Da. We've got to work out some way t'fix this 'cause he's got to pay the ransom or it's all going to get messy."
Orlando just sat quiet and still for a bit, then shook his head. "It's not something I can fix."
"How about if you tell me what the brangle's about at least?" Sean coaxed. He was hoping that his outside angle might spot something the people closer to the problem had missed. It was really the only hope he had so he hung on to it with grim determination.
Another few moments of silence went by, then Orlando said, "I'm gay. You know that. My father can't accept it. He was raised in an environment saturated with family duty and dignity and putting on a solid, respectable face to the outside and he can't understand why I won't just marry a proper young woman and father the next heir."
Sean frowned and cocked his head. He knew plenty of people who weren't exactly friendly toward homos -- he'd had to deal with a few of them himself, although he liked the ladies as well and was reasonably discreet about his lads for his family's sake -- but Orlando's father seemed like a throw-back. "Are you an only child, then?" he asked. "No one else to carry on the family line? No brothers or cousins to go into the family business or whatever your da's so concerned after?"
Orlando shrugged. "My father had a younger brother who had two sons. My cousin William, the oldest, is married to a very nice young lady who's expecting a baby boy in the fall, but the title's entailed. My father is the Viscount Rasley -- you knew that, right?"
Sean nodded, then caught himself and said, "Aye. So you get the title no matter what your da thinks, then -- he can't just say his nephew gets it. And if you've a manor house or a castle or summat? I suppose that frosted his bum."
Orlando's lips twitched in a smirk for a moment before he nodded, unknowingly echoing Sean's gesture. "A large house and some park land, yes. Most titles are entailed, and the family seats, but in our case the family business is as well." He paused and frowned as though trying to figure out where to start, then said, "When the third Viscount married Miss Agatha Maddock in 1801, it was purely for her money. Her father was an ironmonger who'd grown a very successful steel mill and had invested in the Duke of Bridgewater's canal scheme as well. It was the sort of socially shameful marriage many noblemen near bankrupcy were contracting at the time. Mr. Maddock was a shrewd man and one of his conditions was that when his only daughter's oldest son inherited the Maddock business, that it be added to the entail. He wanted to guarantee that his wealth would always go to his blood."
"So you can't even be cut off without an income, then."
"No, at least not forever -- once he's gone, I'll inherit regardless. Despite what my father might wish, I'm going to be the next Viscount Rasley and the next majority owner of British Western Steel, unless I fall in front of a omnibus before my father dies." His blind face "looked" away and he shrugged. "Or unless I'm murdered by kidnappers."
"Then it'd be your cousin stepping up and your da getting what he wants." Sean scowled, then shook his head. "But still, would he do nothing and let you die? I can't think of any man turning his back on his blood and letting him be killed if he could've prevented it, no matter what he might think of the lad's tastes in sex."
"I... I don't know." Orlando's voice sounded hollow and stiff, as though he were trying very hard to maintain a calm face. "I wouldn't have thought so before but things have been worse lately. Before, we could at least be civil to each other but even that's deteriorated over the last few months and now he truly seems to hate me. I really don't think he'll pay. Letting you-- the-- your employer--" he stuttered over the term, "some random kidnappers get rid of me would remove the single largest problem in his life."
Sean had to believe it, or at least believe that Orlando believed it. There's none so queer as folks, he thought to himself, gazing blindly out a window into the darkness. Can't say it's impossible.
Still, he tried, "And he can't accept that your cousin will inherit eventually, or your cousin's lad, when you're gone? It'll take a mite longer but it'll be the same in the end."
"No. Having a Viscount Rasley who refuses to 'do his duty to the family' and 'present a respectable front' is too great a stain on the honor of the name for him to bear without fussing."
"Fussing." That was a good word for it. Sean sat and glared at his reflection on the window, silently thinking.
Sean'd made tea, as much to give himself a few minutes to think and something to do with his hands while he did it as anything else. He pressed a mug into Orlando's hands and settled back down with his own, straddling the wooden chair with the mug resting on the back.
He'd decided to confide in Orlando, at least up to a point. He'd felt twitchy about this whole deal all along and since his phone call with Merriwether in particular he was fair sure that he was on the wrong side. But neither could he just switch. He was stuck as much as the lad, even if there were no one actually forcing him to stay. At least, no one within arm's reach.
But he needed the lad to understand and mayhap between the two of them they could figure something out.
So he said, "Look, then, here's how it happened..." and explained about Tommy and the races and his debts. About the threats and the heart attack -- "And as soon as he's well again, his Katie's likely to put him back in hospital for bringing this down upon us," -- and Merriwether's offer, and what he'd demanded when he'd rung. He still gave no names, of course, because ignorance was the lad's best shield now, weak though it was. But he needed him to understand what was happening and why.
When he was done, Sean shrugged and said, "I'd never've agreed in the first place if I'd known anyone'd be getting hurt, much less that I'd be expected to do it. I managed to talk him down but he's sending one of his bully-boys over to collect the stuff to send to your folks and after that I'm out of ideas but we need to think of something." He muttered a curse into his mug and took a sip. "It weren't supposed to be like this, yeah? I were s'posed to grab some spoiled little rich brat and sit on him for a couple days until the money were paid and then dump yeh back out none the worse. But it's all gone pear-shaped and we need to think of something."
Orlando'd rested his head on the upholstered back of the chair while listening. His knees were drawn up again and his arms wrapped round them with the tea mug perched on top. Sean saw his shoulders twitch as though he were silently laughing for a moment, and he said, "That's what my father's been calling me. A 'spoiled little brat,' as though I'd decided to be gay just to spite him. As though I could choose to obey him and just change somehow and everything would be fine if only I were a good son and cared at all about my duty to my family."
And... there was something about that, something that was setting off a faint bell in the back of Sean's head. It was significant somehow, he just knew it, but before he could think of how, he heard the crunch of tires outside.
"Bugger it, they're here already! Fookin' hell!" Sean set his mug down on the floor hard enough to splash, grabbed Orlando's out of his hands and did the same with it, then grabbed the lad by the arm and hustled him toward the bedroom. Orlando was still dizzy, and confused besides, and after he'd whacked his knee against the sofa, Sean just swung him up into his arms and carried him the rest of the way, dumping him on the bed with a bounce.
The cuffs were still on the battered dresser and he snapped them back onto Orlando's wrists behind his back. "Yeh've been here, just like that, the whole time, yeah?" Sean hissed in a harsh whisper. "Just lie there and look frightened and don't say a bloody word unless you have to. You don't know anything, you're a rich little twit without a brain to call your own and no threat to anyone, right?"
Orlando gave a jerky nod, doing a good job of looking frightened. Sean had a feeling the lad wasn't acting but that was fine for now. He turned and left him, making it back out to the main room just in time to answer the banging on the door.
The sudden whirlwind shuffle'd caught Orlando off balance. Or off guard, rather; he was always off balance recently. The room had swayed around him when his captor had yanked him to his feet and he'd been about to fall when the man had scooped him up and carried him.
He'd just realized that there was another associate of the boss kidnapper's approaching outside -- and most likely one who wouldn't have any problems with hurting him, being a career type criminal rather than one who was temporarily moonlighting at it, if he could believe what he'd just been told -- and his heart had lurched with a sudden fear he hadn't felt since he'd woken up and first realized his situation. He'd stifled a strong desire to cling to his captor; his earlier belief that this man was his only protection had returned in force, especially now that one of the "real" criminals was on his way in.
Instead he'd managed to just stay quiet and let himself be carried and dropped and turned and manipulated. The cuffs were snapped on tight enough to pinch but he'd just winced and stayed quiet. He'd nearly laughed at the hurriedly whispered instructions; he didn't need any coaching to act like he was scared, not at all. The man pulling up outside worked for someone who'd casually ordered one of his fingers cut off and most likely this new one wasn't the sort who'd hesitate to carry out the order. For all he knew, the man was here to override his captor's reluctance and do the job as originally commanded, despite what the boss kidnapper'd been persuaded to agree to earlier on the phone.
All he could do was lie there, tense and hoping, and try not to let the fear overwhelm him.
Author's Note: Yes, I know that property entailments can be broken nowadays and most have been already. Consider this another aspect of the AU if you like; I've always liked entailments in historicals because of how well they help twist and complicate things. My thanks for your indulgence in my use of it here. :D
Next Chapter: Chapter Five