Title: Family Obligations, Chapter 13
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, Twelve
"Spoiled little brat!" Rosie spat. "Can't ever do what you're supposed to do, not even when you've been kidnapped! This incompetent fool--" and she paused to give Merriwether another kick, "--hires another pouf when he has hundreds of gangsters of his own! How the hell did he get to be the boss of Sheffield without the brains God gave a mackerel?"
"Rosie...?" Despite all the evidence, and in fact despite the evidence of the dark, wide-open gun barrel pointed right between his eyes, Orlando seemed to still be having a hard time imagining that Rosie, practically his sister-in-law, had been the one behind this all along.
Sean could well believe it and hoped Orlando would get with the program right soon because otherwise he was going to end up dead and then Sean'd have to kill Rosie and he'd really rather not do that. But although his head was still spinning and he had a jackhammer trying to dig its way out of his skull, he was thinking straight and all the pieces were fitting themselves together.
If he'd been willing to imagine that Cousin William had set up the whole kidnapping-and-murder scheme in order to get the title and wealth a bit sooner, then why not his wife? It must've really chapped her arse, to hear her going off about it, being married to the second heir and knowing that someone she obviously scorned as unfit was going to have a lifetime to enjoy all the things she wanted for herself, for her husband and their coming son. Short of some sort of accident or foul play, Orlando would inherit when his da passed on and then live a long life of his own. He and William seemed to be of an age -- William could actually be a mite older but that could just be the fact of a slightly more serious air about him -- so by the time Orlando died, William and Rose would be old themselves. Hell, one or both of them might even predecease him. Which would still leave their son to inherit but obviously that wasn't enough for Cousin Rosie.
And then there was the fact that Orlando just might decide to marry and have an heir of his own some day. He wouldn't be the first gay man to do so even without a title and a pile of money on the line, nor would he be the last.
Orlando didn't seem to get that though because he just stood there and asked, "Why?"
Cousin Rose glared at him from over the gun, her lips twisted with hate. "Because you're a spoiled little brat who can't be bothered to even pretend to do your duty to your family! You don't deserve to be the next Lord Rasley! Everyone knows it! Your own parents barely tolerate your existence and you're the blight of their lives! William should be the heir, William and then our son!"
Orlando took a step back, repelled by the flow of raw hatred, the resentment and envy coming from a woman he'd seemed to've liked.
Rose took a step closer and her lips hardened into a determined grimace. Sean felt a shot of fear surge through him and tried to scramble to his feet, but a wave of dizziness kept him from getting any farther than his knees. He heard a series of quick steps approaching, though, and Lord Rasley moved up past him and stepped between Rose and Orlando.
"Rose, that's enough," he said, in a commanding voice Sean could easily imagine speechifying in the House of Lords. "You're clearly distraught and we all understand that but it's over now. Give me the pistol and we'll await the police. Everything is going to be fine. You shot a man who was threatening to kill us -- it was self-defense and you've nothing to worry about."
"Self-defense?!" Rose shouted. "Is that all you can see? This is an opportunity! You told me yourself you'd disinherit your whining brat of a son if you could! This is better!"
From his position behind and slightly to one side, Sean could see both Lord Rasley freezing at Rose's declaration and Orlando shrinking, his head sinking slightly between hunched shoulders. If the lad were sitting down, Sean had no doubt he'd be curled up with his arms around his knees. He waited for his father to say something, to make a denial or at least say he'd changed his mind, but all he said was, "I told you that in confidence, Rose. And it's irrelevant anyway. Orlando is my heir and that's the end of it. It wasn't for you to take it upon yourself to do anything about it."
"Like hell! I can see where he got his lack of balls from -- you won't even admit to yourself how perfect this is! You're so mad he turned out to be a faggot, you could hardly live with yourself!"
The back of Lord Rasley's head actually showed a stiffening hauteur that Sean would've sworn was impossible before he'd seen it. With a voice like ground steel he said, "I confided in someone I believed to be trustworthy. I was clearly mistaken. You're mistaken as well if you believe I'd allow a member of this family, even an in-law, to go to prison for willful murder."
"But I won't!" Rose sounded eager, as though she'd figured out what the problem was and knew exactly how to fix it. "This one--" and Merriwether got another kick, "--fired the gun so he has residue on his hands! We'll say he killed Orlando! You struggled with him and I got the gun and I shot him, and then that one--" and she waved the pistol at Sean for a moment, "--came at me and I shot him too! He's just another criminal, the actual kidnapper, so no one will care about him either. Then Orlando will be gone and the kingdom will be less two criminals and Will can be your heir the way you always wanted!" She finished and beamed at her uncle-in-law as though expecting to be given a trophy or at least a pat on the head.
"You're insane," Lord Rasley stated flatly. To the man's credit, he didn't even sound tempted. "Give me the gun, Rose. We'll forget you ever said anything. You're clearly hysterical and can't be held responsible for your raving."
Sean saw a flurry of emotions pass over Rose's face -- shock, fury, confusion, desperation, and hardened resolve. She took a step backward and moved the gun to cover Lord Rasley. "Fine," she snapped. "Then I'll kill you too and Will will inherit now."
His lordship could fend for himself so far as Sean was concerned, but he heaved himself to his feet and grabbed Orlando by one arm. He swung him around and gave him a shove out of Rose's line of sight just as an explosive bang shattered his eardrums. He turned back around to see Lord Rasley staggering backward with one hand to his chest and Rose looking around frantically for Orlando, waving the gun and screaming, "Where are you? Where are you, wherewherewhere?!" too out of it to even notice that her quarry was less than three paces away, sprawled over one of the sofas.
Sean lunged forward and grabbed her wrist, then latched onto her elbow with his second hand and snapped at least one bone over his knee. She shrieked in pain and anger and the gun fell to the floor with a clonk. It left a scuff on the polished hardwood but luckily didn't go off.
He ignored Rose's agonized howling and bound her wrists, sound one to broken one, behind her back with a drapery tie. Chivalry was all well and good but completely daft murderers on a rampage were sexless so far as he was concerned and he considered that his restraint in not planting his fist in her face for good measure was more than she deserved, pregnant woman or no.
Orlando was still trying to process what'd happened. Sean's push had slammed him into the sofa and a corner of the rosewood frame had hit him in the ribs and would doubtless leave a sizeable bruise. For now it was just a dull ache, though, and he had more important matters to concentrate on.
Like re-sorting things in his mind, trying to comprehend that it'd been Rose who'd hired Merriwether to have him kidnapped and killed, that Rose had hated him and wanted him dead, that his cousin Rosie had been behind it all along and that his father hadn't had anything to do with it after all.
Or not directly, anyway. Apparently he'd spoken with Rose about his disappointment with Orlando and somehow given her the impression that he would approve of all this if he knew. That he'd be happy if someone had done him the favor of having his son killed.
And for that matter, when Rose had been raving out her declarations and expectations, his father hadn't actually contradicted her. He'd never said, "No, I couldn't bear it if my son were killed because I love him even if he's not quite what I'd hoped." He hadn't even said, "No, you're wrong, I wouldn't be happy at all to see him dead." He'd never said that. It mustn't have even occurred to him to lie about it in order to persuade Rose to change her mind.
He saw Sean give a quick look in his direction and managed what he was sure was a sickly-looking smile, hoping to reassure him that he was all right. And he was, mostly. He wasn't hurt, at any rate, and he'd deal with the rest.
Sean turned back toward Orlando's father, who'd gone from standing to lying down while Sean had dealt with Rose. He heard Sean ask, "Are the police really coming, then? Or were that just a bluff?"
"Of course they're coming," his father said. His voice was as steady as always, even if it didn't have its usual power. "I said so."
And of course that was the end of it, because whatever Lord Rasley said, was.
"Well, they're not here yet and from the looks of your shirt we should call for an ambulance now and not wait to let them do it." Sean looked up at Orlando and said, "Where's the phone?"
Orlando said, "Out in the hall." It was an older phone, attached to the wall. Sean would see it immediately, he was sure. Sean nodded and strode out, the only sign he'd taken a blow to the head lately being how close he came to running into the left-hand doorjamb on the way out.
Orlando stared at the empty doorway for a moment, then looked down at his father, still lying on the floor. His hair was mussed and his tie was askew and his otherwise-pristine grey shirt was splotched with blood on the left side of his chest. It looked to be dangerously close to his heart, but he was still alive so it must've missed, or maybe bounced off a rib or something of the sort.
His breathing was labored and it was clear he was in pain, although save for gasping for breath he wasn't making a sound. Shock, maybe? Just as likely an absolute refusal to show any weakness in front of his son, assuming he was still aware Orlando was in the room.
Most people would likely have gone over to see how their father was doing, or at least to provide what comfort their presence could offer. Orlando stayed where he was. He knew his presence would be no comfort at all and he could see how the man was doing well enough from where he was.
"Spoiled little brat" Rosie had called him. That was exactly what his father had called him more than once, and exactly the same words Sean had gotten from Merriwether. Orlando didn't know whether the phrase had originally come from his father or whether Rosie had... had what? Passed it on? Deliberately planted it? Just how much of his father's enmity had come from Rosie?
Thinking about it, he realized it might have been quite a lot. Or at least, the last bit that'd made his life really miserable. He and his father had gotten on well enough until the just a few months ago. They'd never been openly affectionate -- Lord Rasley wasn't that sort of man and he'd made his disapproval known regarding Orlando's sexual preference. But they'd managed to be civil to each other until back in... February or so, when somehow it'd all fallen apart.
Had that been when Rose had decided to take an active part in ruining their relationship? Or was that just when Father had "confided" in her and she'd siezed the opportunity to agree with him, reinforce his complaints and push him even farther?
It didn't really matter, Orlando decided. No matter what Rosie had said, his father had been the one who'd listened. He'd been the one who'd escalated their disagreement from uncomfortable but tolerable silences to well-bred but brutal warfare. That'd been his decision, no matter who'd been whispering in his ear from off to one side.
He was actually surprised when his father spoke to him. He thought about it for a moment, then stood up and walked over to kneel nearby. Close enough to see and be seen and converse, but not close enough to touch. "Yes. I'm still here."
"I never...." Lord Rasley trailed off into harsh coughs and his face contorted with pain. When his breathing was back under control, he began again. "I never called the police."
It took Orlando a moment to realize he'd meant before, not that day. That he'd never called the police to tell them his son had been kidnapped. If it'd been anyone else's father, Orlando would assume that the kidnappers had made threats if the police were summoned and that the man had been afraid for the life of his son. In this case, though, Orlando knew better than to assume any such thing.
"They know nothing about the kidnapping," his father continued. "We'll say that that man followed me in and assaulted me because he intended to rob the house. There were more people here than he expected and he panicked and brandished his weapon. He shot me and Rose shot him. She said that other person was working with him -- he attacked Rose and tied her up. You can get the gun and hold him until the police arrive--"
"No," Orlando said flatly. "Sean helped me when no one else would." He didn't expect his father to flinch at that and sure enough, he didn't. "I won't throw him to the wolves. Certainly not to save Rose."
Lord Rasley glared but didn't argue, although he looked like he wanted to. Likely just didn't have the strength. "Fine. You'll have to release Rose before the police arrive, then. He broke in here to rob us, hit me and tied up Rose and your acquaintance can be the hero if you like. Although you'll have to allow for Rose firing off a shot; they have tests now which will prove she did."
"No," Orlando repeated, his voice still hard. "She tried to have me killed just so the title and money would get to her branch of the family -- not even her branch, Will's branch -- one generation faster. She was willing to have me murdered for money and a title and I'm not going to protect her. I'm going to tell the police exactly what happened so when Wills decides to divorce her and sue for sole custody of his son, no one will wonder or feel at all sorry for her."
"Fuck the family!" Orlando jumped up to his feet, his fists balled in rage. "This whole horrid mess is your fault, because you think the family reputation is more important than I am. Rose might've hired that dead bastard there, but you gave her the idea you'd welcome my death and you're the one who didn't pay the ransom or call the police or do one single thing to get me back safely. I don't owe you anything and I'm not going to pretend everything's fine and smile at Rose at Christmas and Easter every year just because you want to keep the 'respectable mask' in place no matter what. And I won't help you force Wills to live with that two-faced bitch for the rest of his life just to 'put a good face on it.' I'm telling the truth, she's going to prison and you can go to hell."
Orlando turned on his heel and all but ran for the door. He needed to get out of there.
He needed Sean.
Next Chapter: Fourteen