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
Sean glanced up when Orlando got back into the car but most of his attention was on his mobile and the conversation he was having with his da.
"--so it's gone completely arse-up. I took the lad and buggered out and when Merriwether finds out he's going t'be chapped but good."
There was a pause and then Sean's da asked, "So, what are you going to do now, then?" He didn't tell Sean off for being stupid or say "I told you so," despite having advised against Sean's getting involved with Merriwether in any way.
Sean sighed and pushed a hand through his hair. "We need t'see if we can't find some proof of what happened and who's in on it. Seeing Merriwether in prison would be best but even getting Orlando's da to call him off, cancelling, saying he won't pay after all -- that's next best. At least that'd mean that Orlando's safe. But I want you to have the lads keep an eye out around the shop -- Merriwether might send some of his boys over to lean on you, once he figures out I'm not going t'lay down and let him hang me."
"Aye, we'll keep watch," his father agreed. "And I'll give Katie a call as well -- she and Tommy and Little Mark can come stay here for a while. It'll be harder for anyone to come to mischief if we're all together."
"Good," Sean said, feeling relieved. "That's a good idea, aye. Keep the women about the house, let Little Mark help out in the shop and the lads'll keep an eye on him."
"Anyone who comes 'round'll get a good thumping," his da said, and Sean didn't doubt it. They'd been taken by surprise that one time but every man working in the shop had been there for at least five years, most closer to twenty, and they hadn't taken well to the invasion. Any of Merriwether's boys who came 'round would likely find a pipe creasing his skull before he had a chance to even make a threat.
"I need t'get back to work," his father continued. "It's not everyone who's off on holiday, aye? You take care and ring me back when you can."
"Aye, I will. Thanks, da. I'll be home soon." Sean disconnected and put his phone in his pocket, then picked up another one of his sandwiches and unwrapped it.
Just as he took a bite, Orlando asked, "Is your family going to be all right?" His voice was low and flat and Sean gave him a hard look.
"Of course they will. The Beans are no one to mess about with and Merriwether knows that."
Orlando scowled at him. "Then how did you get drawn into all this in the first place? Loan sharking is illegal so if your brother had just told that gangster -- Merriwether? -- to go whistle for his money, he couldn't have exactly sued him for it. And you could've told him off too and sent him on his way if you're so sure he couldn't hurt you or anyone in your family. But you didn't. You're here because you were afraid someone would get hurt and that hasn't changed, has it?"
Sean just stared for a few seconds, taken aback. He'd never heard the boy sound so aggressive before, as though he were angry. Well, angry he could understand, but angry at Sean made no sense.
Orlando had one foot up on the seat and his arms wrapped around his knee. That was a sure sign of trouble, no matter what he was saying or how fiercely he was glaring. Sean swallowed then asked, "What's wrong, then?
"What's wrong is that your family's in danger! What's wrong is that someone who was perfectly able to order you to cut my finger off might be going after your parents and your brother and your little nephew or whoever the little boy you were talking about was, and if you really thought that this gang of thugs couldn't do anything at all to hurt you then we wouldn't be here now! What if your 'Little Mark' gets hurt because I can't make my father happy with me no matter what I --?!"
Sean reached out and gripped Orlando's knee, hard. The flow of worried, guilt-ridden words stopped as though he'd closed a switch.
"It's not your fault," he said. He tried to keep the anger out of his voice because, like Orlando's, it was more properly aimed at someone who wasn't there. "None of this is your fault. It's your da's doing, and Merriwether's for taking the job, and mine for agreeing to help him with it--"
"You didn't know what he'd want," Orlando protested.
"Maybe not but I knew it was shady and I agreed anyway," Sean retorted stubbornly. "Even if all that'd happened was what I'd expected, that I'd pick you up and held you for a while and then turned you loose, you still would've been frightened and uncomfortable and dragged away from your life for however many days and that's not right even if you weren't actually hurt. It were a daft thing to agree to and all I can do now is try to fix it."
"Maybe so, but...." Orlando trailed off and bent his head, resting his chin on his drawn-up knee. "But what about your nephew? And everyone else? If that gang goes after your family, I can't imagine they'll fight fair. They'd... I don't know, ambush someone in a car park or throw a firebomb through a window during the night. Something sneaky."
"My da and the lads'll keep a look-out," Sean said, looking back down at his sandwich.
"Do you really think they'll just march into your shop in the middle of the day, when all your workers are there?"
"They'll deal with it!" Sean snapped. Then immediately he said, "I'm sorry," and reached over to brush his hand over Orlando's unruly hair. "I'm worried, yeah? There, I said it. And I guess my da's worried too. But they'll handle it. Have some of the lads stay over, watching through the night in shifts or summat. But we have to take care of this on our side, get through the mess and end it."
Orlando nodded without lifting his chin off his knee. "What do you want to do?"
Sean tossed the rest of his sandwich back into the bag and dropped it on the floor in the back. It suddenly seemed cold and greasy and he wasn't hungry anymore. "Like I said, I think the thing to start with is to cut off the money. I'd love to be able to prove everything and dump the lot of them in prison but I'm no detective off the telly so we'll do whatever we can manage. Confront your da about it -- if we let him know we're on to him, that there are folks who know what he's done, he'll likely back off, yeah? Cancel his deal with Merriwether?"
Orlando frowned. "I don't think he'd be very pleased about that. Merriwether, that is."
"No likely," Sean said with a smirk. "But what can he do about it? He doesn't have you anymore and that means that no matter what, he's not going to get his money. He can't even try blackmail unless your da was daft enough to sign something...?"
"No, he wouldn't have done that." Orlando shook his head. "My father's a good businessman -- he'd never have agreed to put anything in writing."
"Well, there you go, then. We cut off the money and there's Merriwether's reason to chase after you gone."
"Wouldn't he hold a grudge, though?"
"Likely would," Sean admitted. "But hiring a couple of bodyguards for a few months or a year would still likely cost less than whatever he'd have paid for the 'ransom.'"
Orlando scowled at him. "I mean you. Your brother still owes him money and you still quit out of your agreement and made him look like a fool. He's not going to just drop it."
Sean shrugged. "Likely not. We'll take care of that when the time comes."
Orlando reached out and covered Sean's hand with his own. "What if your brother paid his debt? If you and your family agreed not to talk about it, then he could tell everyone that you'd negotiated something, asked to be allowed to pay the money instead of doing the job and that he'd agreed, let him look like he'd done you a favor. So he gets to look good and your family's free of him and then you just all avoid one another."
Sean turned his hand palm-up under Orlando's and squeezed. It were a nice thought but with one fatal flaw. "If we could've paid then we would've. Even everyone pooling together and a mortgage on the business, it still wouldn't have been enough."
Of course, they could've transferred the loan itself. Paid it off a bit every week, paying interest. It would've worked. It would've taken years -- thirty-three years by Sean's calculations, because he'd thought about it and run the numbers -- but it could've been done. The thought of having every cent the shop made above what it took to keep running and make payroll and keep the various roofs over the family heads going to Merriwether, though, for thirty-three years, had been intolerable. Had seemed intolerable at the time. Sean wasn't even sure he'd live another thirty-three years. Now, though, the picture looked different and it might still be workable. If he went to Merriwether with his hat in his hand -- and he'd likely have to let his bully-boys work him over a bit to learn him some "respect" -- he might be able to fix something up. Might.
He didn't like it one bit but he liked even less the thought of his mother or his nephew getting caught up in this brangle. If the baby got hurt when Sean could've prevented it, he'd never forgive himself.
"But what if you did have the money?" Orlando insisted, bringing Sean's attention back to their current conversation. "What if you could just pay it all off, maybe with some extra for his trouble? Do you think that would satisfy him, if you presented it properly? Especially if there was absolutely no chance of him getting a cent from my father and he knew it?"
"What, am I supposed to play the lottery, then?"
"Sean!" Orlando reached out with his free hand and poked Sean in the arm. "I'm rich! That's what all this was about, yeah? I might not be able to write you a check on my own but I'm pretty sure I could get whatever you need."
The look on Sean's face was priceless. Orlando wished he had a camera because he really wanted to be able to take a picture and look at it whenever he needed cheering up. As it was, he couldn't help giggling.
Sean shook his head. "I couldn't--"
Orlando cut him off. "Don't say you couldn't take it. My father is just as responsible for this as your brother. Both our families are caught up in this and we can help each other get out of it."
"A loan, then," Sean insisted.
"Fine, whatever," Orlando said, while thinking, Not hardly. He wasn't about to argue the point right then, though.
"That's for later," Sean said, obviously trying to brush the whole issue of money into a corner. "Right now we need to find a safe place to go. I don't want to go home and maybe draw the fight there, and going to your home is just heading into the lion's den all alone. Sorry," he added, glancing an apology over at Orlando. "But--"
"You're right." Orlando shrugged and looked away for a moment. "It's true. If he'd really hire someone to kill me, I have no idea what he might do when he finds out it's all gone wrong. We're better off somewhere else." And an obvious answer came to him.
"We can go to my cousin William. Explain it all to him. He'll let us stay there and help us. We can ask him to call Father, tell him he has some important information about my kidnapping, can't talk over the phone -- that always works on the telly, right? -- and have him come over. Then we can confront him and...." He trailed off and shrugged. "And whatever happens after that."
Sean nodded and said, "All right, that could work," then stopped and scowled. "Wait, your cousin William? Is this the same cousin who's going to inherit after you?"
Orlando nodded. "That's right. He's a great guy -- we've known each other all our lives, played together when we were babies, all that."
Sean looked uneasy. "Orlando, we've been assuming it were your da who arranged all this, but what if it weren't? This cousin has as much to gain as your da if you're murdered -- more even if you think on it, inheriting as soon as your da's gone instead of having to wait for you."
William--? Orlando blinked, then shook his head. "No, it couldn't be. William is the kindest, most inoffensive person I know. Everyone likes him. He raises fuschias! And we're friends." Sean still looked like he was going to argue so Orlando twisted around in his seat and reached over and cupped Sean's jaw in his hand, forcing eye contact. He had to get through to him on this. "It can't be him, Sean. I know him and it just can't. I trust him with my life. And yes, I know that right now that's literal."
Sean was still shaking his head. "It's too dangerous. What if you're wrong?"
Orlando smacked the back of the seat in frustration. "So where else would you go that'll be better?"
"A hotel will do -- anonymous and public."
"People sneak into hotel rooms and rob them all the time," Orlando protested. "If they can sneak in to steal things they can sneak in to murder us. And if we yelled for help the people in the adjacent rooms would just yell back for us to shut up because they're sleeping. Trust me, I've stayed in plenty of hotels and short of a bomb or a loud telly in the middle of the night, no one cares.
"I'm certain of it -- we're safer with family and servants about. William has a two meter wall around his property to keep the deer out of the garden -- the only way in is through the gate and someone at the house has to buzz you through. Your Mr. Merriwether would have to send his thugs ninjaing over the wall."
"He might well do," Sean grumbled. He didn't look happy but Orlando was pretty sure he'd won.
"Maybe, but at least we'll make him work for it, yeah?" He pulled his hand back, slowly, taking advantage of the opportunity for a caress. Sean's jaw was scratchy with a nearly two days' growth of beard. Orlando liked it.
Sean bit his lip, then looked straight into Orlando's eyes. Sean's were a misty green and he looked worried. "You say you trust this William with your life, aye?"
"Aye." Orlando mimicked him without conscious thought, but he noticed as soon as he'd said it. He liked that too.
"Do you trust him with mine?"
Orlando held his gaze and nodded. "Yes. I do."
Sean sighed. "All right, then. We'll go see William."
Next Chapter: Chapter Eight