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
It was nearly three hours later when they pulled up before a wrought iron gate leading into what appeared to be a nice little estate just outside Altonscroft, from what Sean could see through the shrubberies planted alongside the iron fence. He still wasn't completely sure this was a good idea but he'd said he'd go along with it and he would. He'd keep an eye on this Cousin William, too, and be ready to haul Orlando out of there in a blink if necessary and flatten anyone who tried to get in their way.
Sean rolled down the window and punched the green button on the intercom. A few moments later a tinny male voice said, "May I help you?"
Orlando crawled half over Sean's lap and yelled, "Wills! It's Orlando! Let us in!"
"Orlando?!" The voice sounded right gobsmacked and Sean wasn't at all surprised. Orlando leaned farther over until his face was in the window, in what Sean assumed was better range of the camera lens on the intercom panel.
"Of course it's me! Open the gate, you wanker!"
"Bugger all! Do you have any idea--?"
"Of course I do!" Orlando interrupted. "I'm the one who was kidnapped, remember? Are you going to let us in or are we going to shout at each other all day?"
"Insufferable brat," the voice muttered. The gate rattled and then swung open, though, so Sean figured Cousin William could call Orlando whatever he liked.
Orlando shouted, "Poncy git!" but he was grinning and he slid back into his own seat so Sean could drive them through.
Sean'd relaxed slightly during the obviously friendly exchange of insults. At least they seemed to be close, intimate enough to take the piss with a smile and that was a good sign. Not absolute or anything -- this William could still turn out to be a traitorous bastard looking out for himself -- but seeing that he and Orlando had obviously been that close at one time, even if William were putting it on now, made it... well, a little more likely that the cousin could be trusted.
Which wasn't to say Sean wouldn't be keeping an eye on him all the same.
The drive led around a hill and through some elms, up to a shabby ramble of a house. A dark-haired young man about Orlando's age was standing on the steps waiting for them, along with an obviously pregnant young woman who must be the wife, complete with heir in the works.
Sean parked next to a low hedge and Orlando bounced out and dashed up to his cousin. They clung together and swung each other around with much slapping of backs and pounding of shoulders and delighted insults. Sean sauntered up more quietly and exchanged tight smiles with the lady of the house.
"Ma'am," he said, giving her a polite nod.
She eyed the two younger men and shook her head. "They'll be at it for a while," she said, sounding fondly disgusted. "I'm Rose Bloom."
Sean swallowed half a dozen comments, none of which were appropriate to share with a lady he'd only just met. Her wry glance told him she'd heard them all anyway. "Sean Bean," he answered instead. "Pleased t'meet you."
"Sean!" Orlando bounded over, hauling his cousin behind him. "Wills, this is Sean! He rescued me!"
Sean kept a straight face and held out his hand to the cousin. It was true enough so far as it went.
"Well, of course you didn't get yourself out," William said with a smirk. He leaned over and bumped shoulders with Orlando, then shook Sean's hand. "It's good to meet you, Sean. Since Orlando has no manners, I'm William Bloom but please call me Wills. This is my wife Rosie. You're very welcome to our home."
Orlando muttered, "Wanker," and bumped Wills back. Sean noticed he had a flush of red across his cheeks, though, and smirked to himself. Introductions among Sean's friends usually involved shouting names around a circle as fast as possible so everyone could get back to their beer. He knew what was proper, though, and said, "Pleased t'meet you both."
"Let's go inside, then," said Rose, leading the way up the steps toward the door. "I need to sit down and Emma can find you something to drink. We'll be having lunch in about an hour. Or would you like something now? Did you have breakfast?"
"Aye, we've eaten, thank you," Sean said. He followed her inside and looked around as well as he could without gawking. It had a cozy feel, like a cottage writ large. The rooms he could see weren't terribly spacious and the furniture had a shabbiness that meant generations of use. He sat down on a sofa that was comfortable for all its threadbare upholstery and Orlando plopped down next to him, closer than a recent acquaintance usually would.
Sean glanced up at their host and hostess. Cousin William was still grinning and didn't seem to care one way or the other. Cousin Rose was ignoring them and giving instructions to a middle-aged woman in a grey dress with an apron over it that was as good as a "Housekeeper" sign. If she minded the implications of her husband's cousin not-quite-cuddling up to a strange man in her drawing room, she was hiding it well. There was something to be said for breeding and good manners.
"So, have they caught the kidnappers?" William asked. He paused for a moment, frowning, then added, "Or... were you held somewhere near here? You'd have gone home otherwise, right? Does Uncle Edward know where you are? You've called him, right?"
Orlando glanced at Sean, then back at William and shook his head. "No. I mean, it's complicated. We think. That is, we're not sure but it looks like Father was involved somehow and we didn't want to endanger Sean's family but they don't know about you -- or we don't think they do -- so this was the only place we could think of to come. Or actually, Sean said a hotel but that just sounded too dangerous to me because just anyone can sneak in, right? But here we'll be safe and the kidnapper -- well, the boss -- doesn't know where we are so we can try to work out what exactly to do next."
William blinked, then shook his head and said, "Wait, you think Uncle Edward was involved? Did they hit you on the head when they grabbed you?"
"No! I mean, yes but that's not-- I mean, Sean never hit me, that was Bert, but that's not why, it's the only thing that made sense because Donny knew I'm gay and how would he know that unless--"
Orlando finally stopped babbling when Sean clapped a hand firmly over his mouth. "Stop," he said, a note of humor in his voice, "and breathe. Your cousin thinks you're a nutter the way you're rambling on, chasing your own tail. I'm not even sure what happened listening to you and I were there!"
Orlando glared up at Sean, then relaxed and nodded, Sean's hand bobbing up and down with the lower half of Orlando's face.
"All right, then," Sean said. "Start over, slower and in order, yeah?"
Sean got another nod out of him, and then the corners of Orlando's eyes crinkled in a smile and Sean felt a kiss on his palm. He managed to not snatch his hand away but only just. He pulled his hand away casually and laid it in his lap without rubbing, then smirked at the lad and said, "So, try again."
Orlando rolled his eyes, then looked back at his cousin, who'd been watching them with a bemused expression on his face. "Sorry. It's been a long couple of days." He stopped and stared into space for a moment, then said, "Okay, so I was at the Dark Room and, umm--" He cut himself off and gave Sean an uneasy glance.
"And I grabbed him and tossed him in my car and that's how we met," Sean finished for him. He figured either William knew already, in which case it didn't matter, or he actually was innocent of all this, in which case they'd come to his home and were dumping a load of rubbish into his lap and he deserved to know what-all had happened.
Sean and Orlando told the story back and forth between them, Sean adding his own bit about how he'd got involved and dragging Orlando back onto the track whenever he'd wandered and his cousin began to look confused again. They told him what-all had happened and what they suspected and why. And then waited.
William was just sitting there looking like someone had smacked him in the back of the head with a board when his wife struggled to her feet. She said, "I'm sorry, but I really have to go lie down," and waddled off, looking distressed. She was out the door and gone before William could manage to stand up, much less offer to help her. He stared after her for a second, then shook his head and sat back down.
It'd taken some time to convince William that ringing the police wasn't a good idea. They had no proof of anything and only Sean's word that Merriwether was involved at all. Orlando could only testify that Sean had kidnapped him -- he couldn't even have identified Donny since he'd never seen him. If they went to the police now, the best they could hope for was a lightened sentence for Sean and maybe some sort of charge against Donny, especially if Orlando could recognize his voice. There was no way to implicate Merriwether, though, not in any way that'd stick, and having Sean in prison would leave his family to whatever a chapped and not-so-wealthy-as-he'd-hoped Merriwether chose to do in revenge.
Orlando'd sworn he wouldn't have Sean in prison, that he'd deny ever having been kidnapped at all and would testify under oath that he'd spent the last two days getting drunk and laid with friends if it came to that. William hadn't looked terribly pleased by any of it and Sean had the impression that the young man would just as soon see Sean locked up, change of heart or no, but he reluctantly went along with his cousin's demands.
Sean couldn't blame him -- he'd have felt the same way about a bloke who'd grabbed one of his family and put him in danger like that. But no matter how understandable his hostility was, they needed to convince him to go along with their plan.
"We just need to talk to Father," Orlando said for the third time, or maybe the fourth -- Sean had lost track. "We need to talk to him in person, I don't want to do this over the phone. I need to see him, to see how he reacts. We can go somewhere else if you like, if you'd rather we not do it here. Just say."
William waved a hand in a quick, impatient gesture and said, "No, stay, that's not the problem. But what if you're wrong? What if you accuse your father of hiring some thugs--" he spat out the word while giving Sean a sharp glare, "--to have you kidnapped and murdered and it turns out you're wrong and he didn't do it after all?"
Orlando bit his lip, then shrugged. "He can't hate me much more than he already does. If he really didn't do it then I'll say I'm sorry and we'll figure out what to do next."
"That's it? You'd just--" William stopped and closed his mouth, then shook his head and stood up. "Fine, I'll call him and get him to come over. I hope you're wrong, though, and I hope you're ready to grovel because that's a despicable thing to accuse someone of."
Orlando shrugged again, looking lost, but his cousin had already turned away, Sean assumed to go find a phone. He reached over and squeezed Orlando's hand.
"What if he's right?" Orlando asked, his voice low and dull. "What if I'm wrong and it's not Father after all?"
"If we're wrong," Sean said, emphasizing their shared responsibility, "then we'll apologize as well as we can. And like you told your cousin, we'll work out what to do next when the time comes." He paused, then added, "And mayhap realizing that you thought he'd be capable of such a thing would make him see just how bad things've got between you."
Orlando barked out a sharp laugh. "Oh, he knows. Believe me, we're both well aware of just how bad things are between us."
"Well then he should understand why you might think he'd something to do with it, yeah?"
"I suppose." Orlando shrugged and drew one leg up, wrapping his arms around his knee. He leaned over and rested his head and shoulder against Sean without looking, his gaze still turned out into the room.
Sean looped an arm around his shoulders and let him sit and be silent, if that's what he needed.
It'd all seemed so clear when they'd been on the run, driving around watching out the back window for anyone following them. And even before, when Orlando'd still been officially kidnapped and it seemed like a gang of thugs could come storming in at any second waving knives and guns and every minute was balanced on the edge of a cliff and he and Sean both had felt like they were just living from one of those minutes to the next, hoping that the next one wouldn't be the one to tilt and fall and crush them both at the bottom of the chasm.
Now, though, it all looked different. He was sitting here in Wills's drawing room with the familiar stone fireplace and faded green stripes on the wallpaper and the burn mark on the worn carpet from when he and Wills had tried to smoke a cigarette when they were ten and Orlando had started coughing and dropped it and hadn't cared or even noticed because he couldn't breathe and it felt like his throat was closing.
It was Uncle Alby's place, and now it was Wills's place. For the last few years it'd felt more like home than the place where he actually lived and being back here, with all the familiar things of his childhood around him, his idea -- his and Sean's idea -- about Father being behind the kidnapping and wanting him dead, wanting it enough to hire someone to do it, suddenly seemed ridiculous.
No wonder Wills thought he'd gone daft. He was starting to wonder himself.
Sean tightened his arm around Orlando's shoulders for a moment, then asked, "Are you all right?"
"Hmm? What?" Orlando turned and met Sean's worried looking gaze.
"I were just wondering whether you were all right with what we'd planned. You don't have to, you know. If you're having second thoughts, like." Sean cocked his head, his gaze steady. He looked worried but Orlando figured that was natural, all things considered. He wanted to say something reassuring but couldn't think of anything.
"If you'd rather not make it a confrontation, you don't have to," Sean went on. "You're back with family you trust and your cousin knows what we thought. Even if he doesn't believe it now, your da can't hardly make a second try without setting off all sorts of alarms, right? You're likely safe now, and you'll be watching and your cousin too. I can leave and you can go back to your life without tossing a bomb in the middle of your family."
Orlando felt his eyes go wide. "What about your family?"
Sean shrugged. "We'll manage. I told you, we're tough. Katie has folks in Sussex she can visit, take Little Mark and Mum with her. Da and the lads and I'll make sure Merriwether knows not to mess with us."
Orlando wanted to smack him. "If you really thought that'd work, you'd have done that before. We already had this discussion, remember?"
"It's not your problem, though," Sean pointed out. Infuriating man. "You're back where you need to be and you've no reason to tear your own family apart. This was none of your doing and I just wanted to make sure you knew I'm not expecting anything."
"Oh, thank you so much!" Orlando was trying to keep his voice low but he couldn't help that it came out harsh and cutting. He glared into Sean's startled green eyes and hissed, "What, you think now that I'm home and safe -- maybe -- I'll just toss you out on your arse and let you go try to protect your family as well as you can? I'd be lying somewhere with only nine fingers if it weren't for you and who knows what else and I'm not about--"
Sean leaned over and kissed him, hard.
By the time Sean let him up for air, Orlando was feeling dizzy again and this time it had nothing to do with his banged-up head.
That rough-velvet voice murmured, "Yer gorgeous when yer angry," and Orlando felt something inside his gut melting, but before he could investigate that feeling any further, Wills came back and called them to lunch. He said he'd talked to Orlando's father and that he was on his way and should be arriving in about an hour and a half or maybe two hours if the traffic were bad and mundane concerns like traffic dragged Orlando back to the real world.
He nodded and said thanks and followed Wills out toward the dining room, aware of Sean's warm body behind him, one big hand resting at the small of his back.
Next Chapter: Chapter Nine