Title: Family Obligations, Chapter 14
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, Thirteen
Sean was on his way back to the drawing room, having declined the emergency operator's "suggestion" that he stay on the line when he heard Orlando shouting. He made sure she knew where to send the ambulance, then hung up and jogged back down the hall just in time for Orlando to come charging out of the drawing room and run smack into him.
He found himself being thoroughly and desperately kissed, and from the way the lad was clutching at him he was expecting to be climbed like a tree at any moment.
When they finally came up for breath and Orlando had relaxed slightly, Sean said, "There now, relax, it's over." He held on with one arm around his waist while the other rubbed soothing circles across his back. "C'mon, then, buck up. The police should be here any time and the ambulance is on its way."
"I hate him," Orlando whispered into Sean's shoulder. "I hate him so much and I don't even care. It's like he's not my father at all, he's just some man who lives at my house."
Sean couldn't fathom hating his own father but he could easily imagine hating Orlando's so he just said, "Easy, relax now. It's all over but the mopping up."
Speaking of which, Sean didn't remember Lord Rasley's injuries actually gushing blood or anything but it'd been a few minutes after all and they already had one body to explain. He gave Orlando another hug and said, "You go wait by the phone and let them in, yeah? I wouldn't know what button to press or whatever it is to open the gate. I'll go make sure your da doesn't bleed to death before the ambulance gets here."
"Do us all a favor if he did," Orlando muttered, hanging on tight before letting Sean disentangle him. "He wanted to cover up for Rosie, blame everything on you to keep the 'family reputation unstained.'" He said that last bit in an angry, sneering voice.
"He can say whatever he likes but I never touched that gun and no one can prove I did," Sean said, forcing his voice to stay calm. In reality he wasn't so sure he was in the clear, at least not completely. He hadn't killed anyone but he had kidnapped Orlando when all was said and done and he had a feeling he'd have to answer for that no matter what the lad thought or wanted. That was for later, though. "Go on, then," he said. He gave Orlando a light push in the direction of the phone and headed into the drawing room.
Cousin Rose was still where they'd put her, glaring at him fit to kill. He ignored her and looked around for something... there. He grabbed a small cushion off the sofa and pressed it down onto Lord Rasley's chest, over the worst of the blood stain. It'd soaked through his shirt and down and formed a small pool on the floor, but not enough to get excited about, Sean didn't think. The man'd been lucky; the bullet must've missed his heart and any major blood vessels.
He just knelt there, holding the cushion against the wound. Lord Rasley stared up at him for a minute, looking a bit groggy, then said, "You missed."
Sean frowned down at him. "Missed what?"
"If you mean to smother me, you've placed the cushion too low."
Sean snorted. "I'm trying to keep you from losing any more blood. If you'd rather die, though, I can likely find something else to do."
Another few moments of silence passed. Then, "Out of the goodness of your heart, I suppose."
"Not hardly. I'd just as soon let you die and the world well rid of a cold-hearted bastard, beggin' yer lordship's pardon." Sean managed to keep most of the sarcasm out of his voice. "But Orlando already feels enough guilt over this mess, not that any of it were his fault, and I'll not have him fancying your blood on his hands as well."
He'd half expected Lord Rasley to burst into some diatribe justifying his actions but instead he just looked away. Eventually his eyes closed, although Sean could tell by his breathing and the occasional shift or tense of a muscle that he was still conscious. That was fine; he'd no particular desire to have any sort of long, drawn-out conversation with the man. He likely thought he was above justifying himself to the likes of Sean anyway.
The room stayed silent, none of the three occupants feeling like conversation. Sean kept an even pressure on the cushion on Lord Rasley's chest and wondered what was going to happen next until the faint whine of a police siren drifted in through the window.
He paced up and down the hall, his movements stiff and jerky. He chewed on a thumbnail and looked up at the phone every other step.
His mind was running in place like a mouse on a wheel, going as hard as it could but not getting anywhere.
It was all over, but it wasn't. He was safe now, and since Merriwether was dead he imagined Sean's family was too. Rosie would go to prison because she had to and no other possible outcome was allowed to enter his mind, much less settle down and take off its shoes, but beyond that he'd no idea what was going to happen.
It was all over, but it was a mess. It was like finally finding the thing you'd torn your room apart searching for, only to turn around and realize what a mess you'd made in the process. The immediate problem, the whole kidnapping plot thing, was solved, but now what? What would it take to clean everything up and set it all to rights again?
He paced and worried and wondered until he heard the police approaching. He opened the gate for them and headed for the front door.
The police talked to Orlando, and to Sean and Lord Rasley and Rose, each separately and in Lord Rasley's case briefly. They called the coroner to take away Merriwether, sent Lord Rasley and Rose away in the ambulance, and took Sean away themselves. Nothing Orlando said could dissuade them and Sean himself seemed to have expected it.
Wills and Emma came home in the middle of all the fussing and Wills managed to hold Orlando back when he would've made more of a fuss than would've been prudent, whispering harshly in his ear about solicitors and being able to help more from this side of the bars, and that was enough to calm him down.
When they'd all gone, Orlando realized that Wills had no idea what had happened and it was left to him to tell the story, then to lead his shocked cousin into the house and pour whiskey down him until he fully grasped that his life too had fallen apart while he'd been off doing the marketing.
Lord Rasley died on the way to hospital. The bullet had nicked a major vein and it'd been seeping while he lay on the floor. The jolting of the ambulance over country roads had been enough to tear it fully open, though, and he'd bled out despite all the attendants could do.
Orlando's mother arrived at Wills's house to discover she was a widow, she having been the third person Orlando called after the family solicitor and then the other solicitor their family man had recommended, one who specialized in criminal defense. After he'd explained the situation and made arrangements for the competent-sounding woman to meet Sean and work on getting him out, he'd called his mother.
Lady Catherine had screamed into the phone upon hearing his voice, babbled thanks and disbelief and shock around his abridged version of the explanation he'd given the solicitor, then gone for the car and driven over immediately. Orlando'd received a phone call from the hospital a good half hour before she arrived.
He told her, as gently as he could in the flat, emotionally-detached state he was in, that her husband was dead. She took it rather well. But then, she was already shocked and near hysterics and one more thing wasn't going to make much difference. And it wasn't as though she'd been madly in love with the man anyway.
The buried Lord Rasley four days later. The new Lord Rasley and the Dowager Viscountess ignored the cameras through the funeral service. On their way back to the black limousine, reporters shouted questions about the kidnapping and various family involvements, but they just walked to the car, got in and were driven away.
They hosted a reception at their home, from which the press was barred. Friends and relatives and business associates filed through all afternoon to pay their respects and express sympathy for the bereaved family. Lord Rasley and Lady Catherine greeted them all, graciously accepted the comforting words and saw them all away again.
Wills was there, looking a decade older in his sober black suit, standing alone. He stayed all afternoon but didn't say much to anyone, although he did mention to Orlando that the same family solicitor who'd recommended Sean's defense lawyer was working on his divorce from Rose.
Sean wasn't there because he was still in jail. Orlando wasn't sure he'd have been there in any case. He wasn't sure of anything anymore -- he was just getting through each day, each hour, each step and word and gesture. It was all flat and dead and he was existing and wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to really live again.
The frightening thought was that, as he looked back, this really wasn't all that different from how he'd felt for the last few months -- dodging his father, sneaking out of the house, losing himself in the clubs and alcohol and faceless, urgent sex. He'd been looking for someone who could help him -- make him -- feel something, anything, someone who could touch him and bring him back into the world and make him a part of it again. He hadn't even been looking to be happy necessarily, but rather to feel something besides this empty waiting, like a man-shaped hole walking around looking for something to fill it. He hadn't found anything until he'd met Sean.
Sean, who'd only been with him for a couple of days and was now gone again. And would possibly be gone for a decade or more, depending on how things worked out except Orlando couldn't think about that without breaking so he didn't.
Orlando was buried in business, between following Sean's trial and testifying, after several hours of rehearsal in the barrister's chambers and multiple reminders that emotional outbursts on the stand would not help his friend; and testifying at Rose's trial and struggling to keep his temper once again although for rather different reasons; and learning all he could about British Western Steel, as fast as possible; and being thankful that Wills was the executor of the estate so at least he didn't have to fret over that; and going to London for his investiture and being thankful the Lords weren't in session so he could put that off with a clear conscience.
It didn't have to be that much work. The firm had competent management and Orlando wouldn't have been the first owner to just sit back and collect the profits. There'd always been peers who never took their seat in the Lords, even back when it meant a lot more than it did in the twenty-first century; no one would throw rocks if he completely ignored politics. And he was already paying for Sean's defense, which was more than most people in his position would do.
He had a need, though, a stubborn determination to prove that he'd be a good Viscount Rasley. That his being gay had nothing to do with it, that he could be intelligent and responsible and hard-working. That he wasn't a disgrace to the family.
He knew that, of course, but he still felt a need to prove it. And if some people misunderstood -- if some of the senior managers at BW and some of his father's old friends and cronies clapped him on the shoulder and told him he was doing his father proud, and one or two even said they were pleasantly surprised because, well, at any rate he was doing a fine job -- he was still able to give them each a polite nod and his thanks. Because they meant well.
Somehow, the birth of Jonathan Anthony Bloom, on October fifth, put a period to what Orlando had come to think of as "all that mess." Lady Catherine, who'd been drifting about at a loss, trying to work out how to mother a grown up and very busy young man now that her husband was no longer telling her that emotional displays were improper, had a baby to focus on and was actually smiling again. Maybe it wasn't a grandson but it was close enough, a blood relative who was willing to smile and laugh and babble at her. Orlando was relieved that his mother was so caught up with baby Jonny; he did love her and he understood that she'd always loved him, even if she'd been bullied out of showing it very much, but he couldn't just completely change his relationship to her or the image of her he'd been carrying in his head for over twenty years. He thought they'd eventually slide into something more comfortable -- he hoped so, anyway -- but it'd take time.
After months of hard days and late nights, he finally had enough of a grasp of British Western's operations that he felt comfortable getting out of the officers' hair and relying on the weekly reports and bi-weekly meetings his father had used to reassure himself that things were going smoothly. Orlando was relieved and he had a feeling the senior managers and officers he'd been shadowing were as well. Back to business as usual, now that he knew enough to follow all the signs and signals.
Rosie was in the Carrisford Women's Prison and would be there for a minimum of twelve years, having been convicted of murder and conspiracy to hire a murder. She'd had Jonny in the prison hospital and been allowed to nurse him once before he was taken away by a matron and handed to a social worker who delivered him to his father. Orlando didn't know how Rose had felt about that and didn't particularly care. The solicitor had said she'd be able to petition for visitation once she was out of prison; Wills could worry about that when the time came.
And the day after Jonny's birthday, Orlando was standing outside the courthouse in Sheffield, waiting for Sean to emerge. He'd stood in the back of the courtroom to hear the verdict and after the magistrate had droned on about circumstances and duress and substantive fear for the lives of his family, the final acquittal hit Orlando like a hammer to the back of his head and he'd had to leave because if he'd stayed he'd have done or said something and he wasn't sure what but he'd known it'd be bad or at least extremely embarassing so he'd left and waited outside.
Which had just given him more time to fret.
What was he there for? To thank Sean one more time? To give Sean a chance to thank him? To pass on news? Would Sean really care what Wills had named the baby?
He knew how he'd imagined their meeting to go, their first opportunity to speak alone since Sean's arrest. He'd thought about it and daydreamed about it and had even had some rather absorbing dreams about it at night. Time had given him perspective, though, and it wasn't at all realistic to expect ardent devotion from someone he barely knew, someone who barely knew him, someone who probably thought of him as a nuisance and a bad memory. Sean might not've been sentenced to prison but he'd been in jail because of Orlando and subjected to a public trial and everyone knew he had kidnapped someone, which would likely cause problems for him with at least some people, legal acquittal or no.
Not that reality had anything to do with what Orlando wanted, with what he still wanted after all these months. It'd changed of course -- it could hardly not. Those few days had been like huddling in the eye of a storm, tense and dull and worrisome and desperate, waiting for the violence that was coming. It'd made him frightened and clingy and needy and Sean's competent strength, and even the aura of danger about him, had seemed wonderfully comforting.
He knew he'd changed and he could only imagine Sean had as well. If nothing else, he'd need to get to know the person Sean was when he wasn't being pressured into criminal actions -- who he was at work, with his family, with his friends.
And maybe with some luck, he'd find out how Sean was with a lover, too. So he waited outside the courthouse.
Next Chapter: Fifteen