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 -- FAQ here. See Chapter 1 for more notes.
Posting Note: We won't have any more sea days for a while, so I probably won't get another chapter up till around the 28th or so. I'll try to sneak another one in earlier if I can, but I can't promise. Enjoy!
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven
[Eleven Years Ago]
Liam barely heard the light knock on the door. Whoever it was only rapped twice, and it didn't sound like they were terribly eager to enter. He minimized the windows on his screen and called, "Come in."
The door swung open slowly, just a few inches, then more. Maggie slipped inside and shut the door carefully behind her, then turned and went to her knees with her forehead on the floor.
That was... odd. Not that Maggie was ever disrespectful, within the boundaries he'd given her, but he didn't require his slaves to make a full obeisance whenever they saw him. Either she'd done something wrong and had come to confess, he guessed, or she wanted a considerable favor.
"Yes? What is it, Maggie?"
She didn't look up, but stayed on the floor. "Master, My Lord, I need... I swear I mean no disrespect or impertinence or presumption or... or anything bad. I'd never question you about anything."
"Except for this one time," Liam said wryly. He wondered what the hell she was on about, because all this wasn't like Maggie at all.
"I'm so sorry, My Lord!" Her voice was higher pitched than usual and she was gasping hard, as though trying not to cry. "I just, I beg you, please, don't let Orlando go riding with you tomorrow!"
Liam was silent for a few seconds, just staring down at her. That wasn't at all what he'd expected. He frowned and considered the matter. She was being presumptuous, and impertinent, and disrespectful. But she was worried about Orlando, and he supposed that was understandable.
Sometimes he almost forgot Maggie was Orlando's mother. They didn't spend much time together, really, at least so far as Liam knew, and Orlando hardly ever mentioned her.
But then, he'd hardly been much closer to his own mother when he was that age. Mothers tended to cling to their sons, though, so Maggie's near-hysteria was probably natural. Annoying, but perhaps not something she could help.
"He'll be fine, Maggie," was what Liam finally said. "The doctors are happy with his progress. It's been fourteen months. He's healed well, the hardware hasn't budged and he's been good about his exercises. Riding won't be a problem."
"But Master, what if he gets hurt again? Like before? Or thrown? He could be crippled, or killed!" Maggie still hadn't looked up, but she'd definitely raised her voice.
Liam scowled and said, "That was always true," and his own voice was noticeably harsher than before. He was willing to make allowances but only up to a point and Maggie was about to cross it. "He's a young man and packing him in bubble wrap won't do him any favors. He'll be fine, or maybe he won't, but if he does have an accident it won't be any worse than it might've been before he broke his back. You may go, Maggie."
Maggie's shoulders shook and when she climbed awkwardly to her feet, he could see that she was sobbing and working on not making any noise. He watched, holding back his annoyance, while she bowed and left.
That's what happens when you're too easy on the slaves, he thought. Grandfather would've thrashed her, and kept her gagged for twenty-four hours as a lesson to keep her mouth shut.
Probably not the best idea -- wouldn't want her fainting into the frying pan or something from dehydration -- but over-familiarity was never a good idea either. He resolved to be sterner in the future, and turned back to his computer.
Orlando woke up in a strange bed in a room by himself. It was small and plain but reasonably clean. Dim light came in through a narrow, high window, like it was early evening or maybe early morning. He could see some kind of mesh over the window on the inside, and the fatter darkness of bars on the outside.
Sitting up took some concentration but he managed. He rubbed his head and felt a swollen spot on his forehead. It didn't hurt, though -- it actually felt kind of numb. Matter of fact, he felt kind of numb all over, like when he'd been in the hospital after breaking his back; he'd woken up after surgery and they had him full of drugs and he hadn't felt much of anything, sort of fluffy and swooping and detached.
If the soft spot on his forehead meant he'd been hurt, maybe someone had given him some pain meds. That was nice of them. His master had never been stingy about medicine or doctors when his slaves were sick or hurt, though, so it wasn't really surprising.
What'd happened, though? He couldn't remember. And why was he in a strange place instead of in his own bed? If he was hurt enough that he couldn't be home, then he should be in a hospital, but he wasn't, so...?
He pushed up onto his feet and swayed a little before finding his balance. The door was only a few steps away, which was just as well. He opened it and poked his head out into an empty hallway, with a few other doors on both sides.
While his feet went exploring, trying to find someone who could tell him where he was and what was going on, most of his brain was trying to remember what'd happened and how he'd gotten there. It felt like he was on some fairly major drugs, but if he'd been hurt that bad then he should remember it, right?
Or maybe not. Didn't people forget about accidents sometimes? A kind of short-term amnesia or something?
There had to be someone around who could explain it all, though. Maybe Master Liam was there, just waiting for him to wake up before taking him home?
The hall made a right turn and led to a larger room with a couch and a television, and a long table and chairs near a kitchenette.
There was a husky, blond older guy sitting at the table, reading a magazine. He looked up when Orlando took a few steps into the room.
"Morning, Grant. You're kinda early for breakfast."
Orlando blinked, then looked around. He was the only other person in the room. "Umm, I'm sorry, but I... this is confusing." He took a few more steps into the room, pushing a hand through his hair. It felt like it hadn't been washed or even brushed in a few days. "I can't remember what happened. Was I in an accident? Or something? Where's my master?"
The man at the table scowled at him and closed his magazine. "Aren't you kinda jumping the gun there? It's great that you're getting into it and all, after the fuss you made when we brought you in, but you haven't been processed yet."
"Wait, what?" Orlando sank down into a chair opposite the guy and rubbed his hands over his face. "Look, I think I must've hit my head or something, I've got this bruise and I can't remember what happened."
"Hey, your own fault," the man said. "If you'd just come quietly, you wouldn't have gotten clonked in the scuffle. Hell, if you weren't so lousy at blackjack--"
"That's enough, Brendan," said another man. He came striding in from a doorway on the other side of the kitchenette. "Mr. Grant is here now and there's no reason to go rehashing what's over and done. How about if you get breakfast?"
Brendan muttered and nodded and got up to go poke around in the kitchen area. The other man came over to Orlando and asked, "How are you feeling this morning?"
"Ahh, really confused." He tried to smile but it didn't work very well. "I don't know who Mr. Grant is, but my name's Orlando Bloom and I need to talk to my master. Is he here somewhere? Or could I call him?"
The second man stared at him hard, then stepped up next to him and laid a hand across his forehead. "Some swelling, but not that bad." He tilted Orlando's head up and stared into his eyes, one after the other. "If you have a concussion it's only minor. There's no reason for amnesia, much less a full-on fugue. Therefore, the only possible conclusion is that you've come up with some sort of scheme to try to get out of the consequences of your actions. It's not going to work, so you might as well drop it. Just relax and wait for breakfast."
"No, wait!" Orlando reached out and grabbed the man's shirtsleeve, then jerked his hand back again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean-- I mean, I don't know what's going on. I just want my master!" Everything was crazy, confusing, like he was dreaming. He needed to find Master Liam, he'd fix whatever was wrong. Or maybe if Orlando just went back to sleep, everything would be fine when he woke up?
The man sighed and sat down in the chair next to Orlando's. "All right, on the possibility that the knock on the head you took might've brought out some odd side effect in the pain meds you were given, I'll humor you one time. I'm Mr. Csokas. I own the Silver Ingot casino in Las Vegas, among other businesses. You are David Grant, a regular patron of my establishment. Over the last several years, you've run up a considerable debt with me. You made just enough payments, and managed to spin sufficiently plausible stories, that I made the mistake of continuing to extend you credit. Seven months ago I decided that enough was enough, and gave you a deadline for repayment. It passed.
"I'm accustomed to people who owe me money trying to drop underground before Commerce can collect them; I came all the way to California to get you so I could take you in myself, with the appropriate paperwork, and get things moving. You resisted collection and I'm afraid my associates were a bit rougher than I'd like. One of them was wearing a ring which caused some laceration damage, and for that I apologize. I had a doctor come in and patch you up; I don't recommend you scratch or pick at any of the wound sites, or we'll just have to do it again.
"This afternoon, you'll be going to Commerce to be processed in as a slave, so I can get my money back. I'm truly sorry it had to come to this, Mr. Grant, but you're the one who lied on your credit application and said you were a software engineer -- nice trick having your friend ready to answer the phone and confirm your so-called employment. People who hold low-level retail jobs should really stay away from the casinos, and being forced to commit fraud in order to continue gambling should be taken as a rather large hint that the whole thing's a bad idea.
"At any rate, if you'll cooperate from now on, we'll get along just fine and avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness."
When he finished, Orlando just stared at him. It was all insane, of course, and Orlando was trying to figure out what the purpose of... of whatever was going on could be, because it didn't seem like a joke. Why would a couple of guys he didn't know at all go to all this trouble to play such a dumb joke on him anyway?
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then said, "I'm very sorry, Sir, but that's impossible. Or maybe you picked up the wrong person? I don't know any David Grant, and I've never seen you before and I've never gambled. I'm a body-slave to Lord Neeson and as soon as we get to Commerce they'll scan my chip and send me back where I belong. I don't know how I got here, but--"
"All right, that's enough," Mr. Csokas said, cutting Orlando off with an angry slash of one hand. "You're not a slave yet but you're going to be one soon enough. If you're willing to behave yourself until we get to the Commerce office, though, you're welcome to your delusions. For now just sit in that chair and don't move. We'll go after breakfast."
Fine, Orlando thought. This'll all be straightened out then, and you can go find your Grant guy. Damn, I want to go home!
Next Chapter: Chapter Nine
NOTE: "Turf Battles" is a novelette which fits into the backstory between Chapters Eight and Nine of A Lost Boy. Go here to read it.