Title: Family Obligations, Chapter 12
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.
Note: Banner by galor5! :D
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven
Orlando yelped, "No, don't!" and took a reflexive step forward, then made a hasty reverse and practically jumped into the middle of the room, exactly where the gun had been pointing just a few moments earlier.
The look the lad was sending him was desperate and pleading and it was obvious he thought Merriwether might actually shoot Rose. Well, he might at that -- Sean knew better than to assume the fucker had any sympathy or finer feelings preventing him. But self-interest, now that he had by the truckload and that was something they had to make sure he stayed focused on 'cause it was the only leverage they had just then. Self-interest would tell him that actually shooting the lass was a bad idea, that as soon as he did Sean'd be on him and the likelihood of the pistol "going off in the scuffle" was pretty fookin' high.
But Orlando was clearly terrified for his cousin and she herself was struggling and crying and near hysterical, not that Sean blamed her none, and he knew he needed to make a concession to get things calmed down a mite.
He took a slow step toward the center of the room, then let Orlando grab his wrist and tug him the rest of the way. Almost -- he held his arm rigid and kept about a meter between them when the lad would've pulled him closer. It was obvious he wanted to latch on and Sean wanted to let him but it was more important not to let Merriwether see anything he'd identify as a weakness.
Unless, of course, a mistaken assumption could be turned against him. That, Sean was more than willing to do. Unfortunately, letting him see that Sean cared for Orlando personally would lead him to all sorts of assumptions which weren't mistaken at all. Sean would do whatever it took to keep the barrel of that pistol pointed away from Orlando, to keep it trained on anything else at all including the cousin, and that was far too useful a handle to give an angry and likely desperate man who saw murder as just another handy tool.
It was bad enough he knew Sean would balk at killing or even doing serious damage to a stranger who'd never harmed him, just on principle; that'd be enough of a "weakness" to someone like that without letting him see that Orlando wasn't a "stranger" anymore.
So Sean planted himself an arm's length away from Orlando, shook off his grasp and then ignored him, focusing instead on Merriwether.
"Well? What now, then?" He gave the man a contemptuous look and crossed his arms over his chest. "You came ninjaing over the wall or whatever it was just to call this meeting, so what're we here for? 'Cause if it's just to stare at each other, I've better things to do."
Merriwether's pistol hand wavered and Sean hoped for a moment that it'd move far enough away from Rosie and toward himself, but the bugger caught himself and jammed it back against the woman's pregnant belly.
"Big enough man now, Bean," Merriwether sneered. "Why couldn't you be a man when I needed it before, eh? Fookin' nancy-boy, can't even follow instructions without goin' soft an' now yeh find yer balls?"
"It don't take balls to hack pieces off a lad who can't fight back," Sean retorted, matching him sneer-for-sneer. "So get on with it -- yeh put enough effort into sneakin' in here, so what were it all for?" He pressed the point of how Merriwether'd gotten in because the man had avoided the question the first time and Sean wanted to know. Gates like the one outside had an access code so the owners could get in when the place was empty and if Merriwether'd had that code, that'd say something about what they were dealing with. He was still suspicious of Cousin William, although if it turned out Wills were Merriwether's contact then Sean was pretty sure the man'd had no idea that his wife would end up involved in this mess nor how.
"I pay boys to climb fences for me," Merriwether shot back. "I walk in through the front. Easy enough to follow some fool who don't know any better than to drive right through and leave it open for the next bloke."
"Oh, aye, that takes brains." Sean gave an unimpressed smirk and returned the first taunt he could think of. "I can just picture it, you hangin' about outside, sittin' there all helpless in hope that someone'd happen to go in or out." He kept up his focus-on-me act on the surface but inside Sean's mind was spinning.
So he hadn't had the gate code -- what'd that mean, then? Anyone in the family would've had it so no matter who his contact was, why wouldn't they have given it to him? Not that Sean'd want to give a bastard like Merriwether the entrance code to his home, but the things were changeable, they had to be. So maybe they'd been wrong all along and he was working on his own?
But if so, then how'd he known where they were? Someone must've tipped him off, especially as fast as he'd shown up. And that still didn't answer the question of why he'd come alone.
"Waitin' for opportunity," Merriwether snarled. "But then, you've never been a lad to recognize opportunity when it were right in front of yeh."
"Opportunity for what?" Sean scoffed. "Takin' the fall for your job? You think I didn't figure out you were setting me up t'go down for it? You'd've had me killin' him next and likely found with a bloody weapon and a body and with yourself off in a restaurant somewhere with a hundred witnesses and no one to say you and I'd ever had any connection at all -- opportunities like that I'll pass on, thanks all the same."
Merriwether grinned. "See, that's why I was interested in you, Bean. You've got a brain in your head an' you even use it now an' again. That were one possibility, aye, but only one and not t'one I'd hoped for. If you'd been smart and gone along, I'd have had some other business t'discuss with yeh, something that might've made us both a nice bit of money. But then with the whinging an' bleating over the lad when all I needed was a finger, then buggerin' off without a word. So what, then? Did he make a better offer? A nice pile of cash for seein' him home? Or did he let yeh have a go at him?" He glanced over and leered at Orlando, his gaze filthy and mocking.
Sean shifted his weight and took a half step to one side, drawing the bastard's attention back where it belonged. "I could've had that whenever I liked," he snarled. "Why would I negotiate for something that's just lying there for the taking?"
"Money, then." Merriwether nodded, his eyes locked back on Sean. "I can understand the impulse but it shows a lack of judgement. You could've gotten a lot more in the long haul if you'd stayed loyal to me."
"Stayed?" Sean put every ounce of scorn into his voice and his expression. "I were never loyal t'the likes of you. My loyalty's for m'family an' my mates."
"And see where that got you," Merriwether mocked. "That worthless brother of yours'll be getting you killed and then what? He still owes me so what was it all for, eh? At least he'll likely take it seriously, once he's an only son."
Orlando just stood there, listening to the two men snapping back and forth at one another. His nerves were strung tight and he couldn't move, couldn't say a word, even though Sean had completely missed one vital piece of information or had chosen to ignore it or whatever it was but Orlando was desperate to know -- while dreading the answer -- just whom Merriwether had followed in through the gate and what'd happened to him. It couldn't have been his father because they'd have just come in together; if Merriwether were planning to kill all the witnesses anyway then there was no reason for Lord Rasley to be hiding. He wasn't the squeamish sort when there was a job to be done and while he might not want to dirty his own hands, he didn't shy away from the reality of the situation, either. Very grounded in pragmatic reality was Lord Rasley, at least where anything except his son's nature and life was concerned.
But if it hadn't been him then it was a them, because it could only've been Wills, and Wills had been with Emma so there'd have been two of them in the car and he was hoping they were just tied up somewhere but he was afraid they'd been killed, they must've been because Merriwether was talking about killing Sean and he had to be here to kill Orlando in the first place so why would he leave two witnesses? He wouldn't, that's what, which meant he must mean to kill Rosie too -- and the baby!
Except that didn't work because Wills and Emma hadn't been gone long enough to do their marketing. Emma was particular and there was a farmer's market in Stapford she liked to go to on Tuesdays and the butcher in Lindom Street was her brother-in-law so she always went there and she was never back until there was just barely time to make dinner and dessert was always something from the Colony Bakery because she didn't have time to bake anything herself and that was another stop so--
The frantic babbling in Orlando's head cut off when he spotted something moving in the hall out of the corner of his eye. He kept his head turned toward Merriwether but managed to glance out the door and there was definitely someone there in the shadows away from the windows. Someone walking unsteadily, who might've been knocked out but woke up too soon?
It had to be Wills and he had the presence of mind, even groggy and in as much pain as he must be, to walk quietly. Merriwether was still snarking back and forth with Sean and hadn't noticed him and that gave them a chance if Wills could get close enough, startle him maybe, then Orlando and Sean could--
Except it wasn't Wills and Orlando lost a vital handful of moments goggling at his disheveled and angry looking father.
"I've called the police already," Lord Rasley said, immediately silencing the room and drawing all eyes to him. He looked like he was in pain and now that he was closer and standing in the light, Orlando could see sticky-looking blood gooping up his hair behind one ear and staining the collar of his shirt. "They're on their way so you'd better leave now."
"Uncle Edward!" Rosie sounded happy to see him -- well of course, he'd always liked her.
Orlando immediately gave himself a mental smack. He was happy to see his father too under the circumstances and if he really had already phoned the police, or even if he could just convince Merriwether that he had, then maybe they had a chance.
Assuming of course that the man didn't just hurry up and shoot them all before he left.
Merriwether swore and the gun wavered for a second while he glanced back and forth between Sean and Orlando in the middle of the room and Lord Rasley at the door. Before Orlando could even register that it was an opportunity, Sean leaped across the intervening space and slammed into Merriwether, one hand grasping the wrist of his gun hand and the other around his throat. He tried to push Rosie aside with his body and snapped, "Move it, lass! Now!"
The waving gun went off twice and chunks of plaster fell out of the ceiling while splinters flew out of the panelling across the room. Rosie screamed and stumbled away, her arms wrapped around her middle. Orlando jumped in, adding his weight to the hand with the gun and wrapping both arms around it, struggling to keep it from pointing at anyone.
Sean leaned back and slammed his forehead hard into Merriwether's face. Orlando heard a crunch that had to be a breaking nose and the man howled and cursed, then levered himself away from the wall and threw all three of them off balance. They went crashing to the floor with Merriwether on top and Orlando fell hard, with something heavy and solid jabbing painfully into his ribs. Sean recovered immediately and heaved the other man off him. Orlando still had a death-grip on the gun arm, though, and Merriwether didn't go as far as Sean might've intended.
Orlando ducked a flying fist that landed in Merriwether's gut, then a heave and shift gave him an opening of his own and he slammed his knee into the man's crotch. He howled in pain and anger and flailed to get free. The gun flew clear of the struggling pile of men and Merriwether jerked away, his grim, determined gaze focused on the weapon.
Sean saw where he was heading and sprang after him, but took an elbow to the temple and collapsed in a cursing heap. Orlando scrambled to his feet to go after the gun himself but Rosie got there first.
She grabbed up the pistol, cocked it expertly, pointed it at Merriwether and fired. The man went down with a blossom of red spattered across his face.
Before Orlando could do more than gasp, it was all over.
"Bastard! Drag me around! Threaten me! Threaten my baby!" Rosie still sounded hysterical but it was overshadowed by furious rage. She walked up to Merriwether and kicked him in the skull, then hissed out a swear word and shook her foot in pain. There was blood and other... stuff smeared on her light canvas shoe but she didn't seem to notice.
Orlando felt his heart slamming in his chest and he suddenly needed to sit down. The tension that'd kept him going and focus was draining away now that there was nothing left to do but wait for the police to arrive. It seemed like it was taking them a long time but really, thinking about it, his father had only come into the room, what, a minute ago? Maybe two?
The thing to do was let Rosie run down, he thought. Now that it was over, she'd be settling down soon enough, start crying or something, and they could get her to a sofa and go find her a cup of tea. She should probably get to her doctor and make sure the stress hadn't done her any harm, nor anything the bastard had done -- who knew what'd happened before he'd hauled her into the drawing room? He might've hit her or something and that should be checked, make sure the baby was all right.
He was so caught up in thinking what to do next to make sure Rosie and the baby hadn't been hurt that what happened next was a complete shock.
"--deceitful bugger!" she snarled, giving Merriwether another kick for good measure. "Forgets just who the hell he is and what he is and who he's working for!" Then she glared up at Orlando and turned the pistol on him. "And you!"
Orlando just stood and stared at her, his mouth open to say... what? What could he possibly say?
Next Chapter: Thirteen