Pairing: Liam Neeson/Orlando Bloom, minor Liam/Johnny Depp, plus a few other pair-ups among the supporting characters
Rating: NC-17 overall
Summary: Slave Orlando's been taken and the kidnappers aren't interested in ransom. And of course Master Liam's thundering rage is only at the personal insult, that someone would disrespect him by daring to touch his property.
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.
Notes: 1) Set in poisontaster's Kept Boy universe. See Chapter 1 for more notes.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three
[Fifteen Years Ago]
Orlando came bouncing in to the kitchen and called, "Morning, Mama!" He gave her an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek and a quick hug from behind, then said "Morning, Glory!" and winked at the elderly lady over by the corner window. Gloria smiled back at him and waved a paring knife before picking up another apple to peel.
His mama spun around and reached up to grab Orlando by the shoulders. "Orlando! How are you?" She looked him up and down, studying him like she expected to find gaping wounds or a broken arm or something. Orlando rolled his eyes and squirmed away.
"I'm fine, Mama," said Orlando, barely managing to keep from saying something sarcastic enough for a smack with a wooden spoon. "It was wonderful and I was perfect and Master Liam was very happy with me."
Margaret still looked upset, but Gloria gave him a thumbs-up from behind his mother's back. He winked at her, then went to rummage around in the fridge. Master had shared his breakfast less than an hour earlier, but Orlando was always hungry and there was a chunk of leftover gratin from the previous night -- perfect. He pulled it out, grabbed a fork, and went over to Gloria's table, ignoring his mother. She'd just fret him to death if he gave her half a chance and he wasn't about to let her mess up his mood.
Orlando kept a stealthy watch on her and waited until she'd turned back to the dough she was kneading before sitting slowly and carefully. Both of the chairs at Gloria's table were padded, but he couldn't prevent a silent wince as his sore ass took his weight.
Gloria gave him a sassy grin and whispered, "The master's something, isn't he?"
Orlando giggled and nodded. "He's perfect!" he whispered back, and he and Gloria shared silent memories in the language of smiles. It was sort of weird having that kind of understanding with a woman twenty years older than his mother, but Mama was weird about Orlando and Master Liam, and he'd never felt comfortable sharing his love of the master's company -- or his more recent pleasure at finally being chosen -- with her.
Gloria got it, though. She'd never been a body-slave, but the older slaves around the place all said she'd been pretty when she was young, and he hadn't been too surprised to hear she'd shared the master's bed a few times, back before Orlando'd been born. She'd been the head gardener for ages, even for those last few years when arthritis in her knees and an aching back had forced her to supervise the work while younger slaves provided the labor. A fall that'd broken her hip and kept her in bed for weeks had ended all that.
Master Liam had had the small table and chairs moved into the kitchen, into the sunny corner by the window. Gloria did a few things in between cups of coffee -- peeled and cut produce, sliced bread, fixed flowers -- stuff she could do sitting down, stuff that didn't take a lot of strength or effort, or much precision, or much speed. Mama and Samantha could've done anything Gloria did, better and faster, but that wasn't the point. She was helping and got to feel useful, so she didn't have to worry about the master selling her for being worthless, or putting her down. Not that he'd do that anyway, but it was cool of him to give her something to do and let her feel like she could help out.
"So?" Gloria whispered, "how'd you do? Last night was your big test, wasn't it?"
Orlando nodded and gave her a smug grin. "I was perfect!"
"Your whole vocabulary is 'perfect,'" she retorted. "Details, boy."
He blushed and took a big bite of cheesy potatoes, chewing while pulling himself back together. He swallowed and said, "Master said Mr. Travers said I've been working hard and doing really well, and that Johnny agreed. Then after we were done last night--" Orlando had to work hard not to look down, and could feel his face heating up again, "--Master said he agreed too!" He beamed at Gloria, who gave him a grin back and a high-five.
"That's excellent news, honey," she said. "And a good career path. You keep working on your reading, pay attention to the Master's affairs, and you can be an Agent when you get too old for the bedroom, travel around, do important work."
Orlando ducked his head and bit his lip. Reading was hard. That wasn't something Mr. Travers had been concerned with in their three-times-a-week lessons, but Orlando knew it'd be important if he ever wanted to be more than a bedslave. Real body-slaves represented their masters and did business for them; Johnny got to travel by himself sometimes -- that'd be fun!
He'd have to really work on all the other stuff, though, the books and computers that never seemed to make much sense to him no matter how hard he tried. And he would! He wasn't stupid and he could do it. The thought of Master Liam being disappointed with him made his stomach twist.
That wasn't something he wanted to think about that morning, though. It was a perfect morning and he wanted to stay happy.
"Master Liam said I could ask a favor." His grin returned, remembering that. "I said, if he approved, I wanted to have a tattoo." He patted his belly, on the left, a little below his belt.
"Like Johnny's?" asked Gloria. "You'll be a matched set, the two of you."
"Kinda, but not exactly. Same place, but I want something different, something that'd, you know, show people I belong to the Master." Orlando felt himself blushing again, but this was the good kind so it didn't bother him too much.
Gloria raised an eyebrow. "So, what? The corporate logo?"
"Gloriaaaaa!" Orlando buried his head in his arms and groaned. She made is sound so stupid!
He felt a light pat on his elbow and Gloria said, "I'm sorry, honey. I was just making a joke." She sighed, then added, "It's really not a terrible idea, now that I think about it. A sunburst is a nice image. Just imagine if your master were Lord Gates -- would you really want that stamped on your ass?"
And with that image Orlando was giggling again, and groaning at the same time. He dug into his snack with enthusiasm and looked forward to that night -- maybe Master Liam would call for him again.
The hastily-exiting detective had had to swerve around two other people standing just inside the office doorway. Johnny was there, with his hand on the shoulder of a young, scruffy-looking girl in a cheap, polyester shirt and pants. When he saw Liam looking at them, he bent into a perfect bow and shoved the girl down as well.
Liam eyed her and wondered who she was. He'd never seen her before, which meant she must have some information about Orlando. Johnny'd know better than to bother him with anything else right then, short of the house being on fire or the imminent collapse of the Western economy.
"Well?" he snapped. "Who are you? Get over here." He pointed to the floor right in front of him.
The girl gave a squeak and dashed over, then fell to her knees with a crash and pressed her forehead to the toe of his boot. Her awkward position and stressed trembling screamed Don't Beat Me! and he made an effort to calm down. Bellowing at that fool of a detective had been useful as well as satisfying. Frightening this slave into incoherent silence wouldn't help at all.
"Stand up, girl," he said, willing his voice to a lower volume and calmer tone. "Johnny? Who is she?"
Johnny moved a few steps closer, then bowed again. Liam was definitely giving off dragon-vibes if Johnny was going hyper-formal on him.
"Master, this is Cally. She belongs to the supermarket. Cally, tell Lord Neeson what you told me earlier."
Cally climbed slowly back to her feet, cringing and biting her lip. Liam wanted to bellow at her again, but exercised patience instead and just nodded to her.
"Umm, well, this morning I was stocking boxes of firewood -- it's up by the front, in front of the registers, under the windows? I do that every morning in the fall and winter, when it's cold. Your slave comes every Wednesday morning and I watch for--" She stopped and cringed again, looking up at him as though she expected to be smacked for the crime of watching out for a pretty slave boy. Liam set his jaw and just nodded again.
"Well, he always comes in around the same time so I was watching. I saw him drive up and he parked, there under the tree at the front where he always does. There was a van in the next space. Not a new one, or an SUV, but one of the old ones, without any windows? I couldn't really see 'cause it was on the other side, but your slave got out and someone came out of the van and they got in and drove away."
Liam untangled the story as best he could and asked, "Did the other person force him into the van?"
"I-- I don't know! I'm sorry, Master!" Cally fell back to her knees again and crouched down with her arms curled over her head.
Johnny murmured, "Cally...." and stepped forward. He went down on one knee beside her and rubbed her back. "Come on, girl, it's all right, get up."
"No, that's fine." Liam gave Johnny a "stay" hand signal without really thinking about it; Johnny nodded and settled down next to Cally, rubbing her back but letting her stay on her knees.
"So Orlando got into the van with this other person, maybe willingly and maybe not, and the van drove away, yes?"
"You didn't think to report this to anyone?"
Cally started shaking again. "I did, Master! I swear! I ran and told the manager, but he said it wasn't our business! That the slave was probably just making some money on the side and it wasn't our business, that we'd just get him in trouble if we told anyone! I'm sorry, Master!"
Liam mentally added the store manager to his list of People Who Would Be Very Sorry and said, "That's all right, Cally. You did your best and it's not your fault the manager is an idiot." He turned around and picked up a pad and pen from his desk and handed them to Johnny. "Now, I want you to tell me everything you remember about the van, and about the person who took Orlando. Even if it's just a tiny thing that doesn't seem important, I want to know it."
While Johnny wrote down the slave's disjointed descriptions, the part of Liam's mind that wasn't listening made lists of other things to be done. Where there was one witness, there might've been others and they had to be found. Circulate Orlando's picture, make sure law enforcement was watching for his ID code to turn up -- the detective should have done that but Liam didn't trust him to sort paper clips, much less do anything useful without being double-checked.
Of course, there was one obvious reason why Orlando's locator chip wasn't pinging the search net, but that was unacceptable and Liam refused to consider it. A much more likely reason was that he'd been taken somewhere the signal couldn't penetrate -- someplace with enough metal all around to act as a faraday cage. As soon as they moved him, though, the boy's signal would show up again.
He'd hire a private detective. Get someone competent on the job, someone who answered only to him.
Liam nodded to himself and asked Cally another question.
Next Chapter: Chapter Five