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.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen
He memorized David's personal data -- full name, old address and phone number (because obviously he didn't live there anymore), social security number and birthday and parents' names, and learned to pick out photos of his house and his parents -- in exchange for two more bowls of fruit, one bite at a time, on two separate days. Or at least two separate meals.
He memorized David's job title, and the address and phone number of the store he'd worked at, and his boss's name and his co-worker's names, and learned to recognize photos of the store and his boss and his co-workers, in exchange for bites of a ham and cheddar sandwich.
He memorized the details of David's debt, the time period when he'd driven to Mr. Csokas's casino just over the border and played, the specific dates when he'd signed promissory notes for larger and larger sums so he could keep playing, the lies David had told on the applications for those notes and the name of the friend who'd answered the phone and played the part of his boss to confirm the falsely exaggerated employment which had led Mr. Csokas to continue lending him money, over a series of dinners -- pork chops and steak and fried chicken, baked potatoes and rice pilaf and mac-and-cheese, steamed green beans and honeyed carrots and broccoli parmesan.
Orlando was feeling comfortably full most of the time, in contrast with his first however long at Commerce. And the pain had been fading, too; the bruises were hardly visible and his ribs didn't ache anymore when he sat up or twisted.
And he was pretty sure he was hanging on to his Orlando identity, despite everything. He'd gotten used to saying his David name, and reciting David's information on request, but it hadn't really changed who he was inside. He felt the same as he always had, and he could still bring up Master Liam's face out of his memory, and his mother and Samantha.
Yes, he was answering to David, and practicing telling people that he was David, and everyone he came into contact with at the Commerce center -- not that there were many, but anyone who did talk to him -- knew him as David.
And once or twice he'd caught himself thinking of himself as David, but that was just habit. It didn't mean anything, really. It was just that he was going along to get fed to keep his energy up, not getting beaten and letting himself get strong again. That just made sense, right?
He still had no way of tracking time, but at that moment he was pretty sure it'd been a while since he'd been fed, long enough that it was time for another session, so when the door to his cell opened, he wasn't afraid, at least not at first. Not until he saw the janitor following Mr. Anderson in.
Orlando pressed back against the cold concrete wall without ever making a conscious choice to do it. Seeing the two of them together, both of them together and staring at him meant... meant something which couldn't possibly be real and so his higher brain functions just shut down while his animal brain shrank back and searched for an escape route which didn't exist.
Mr. Anderson said, without looking at the janitor, still staring down at Orlando, "Tell David what you told me."
The janitor gave Anderson a nervous glance, then scowled down at Orlando. "I told him how you told me you already had a master, that you told me to call him and I said I wouldn't and you said--" He stumbled to a stop and muttered under his breath, then said, "You know what you did. Anyway, I e-mailed that Lord Neeson like you said and his answer near blew out my screen! He said I had a lotta nerve for bothering him and that he wasn't interested in anything I had to say, nor any ideas I might have for getting money out of 'im." He sneered and looked like he'd have spat on the floor if his boss hadn't been standing right there. "So what've you got to say to that, then?"
Orlando was shaking his head, his eyes wide and his mouth barely open. He'd been expecting it -- from the minute they'd walked in together he'd been expecting it but it was still impossible, he couldn't force himself to believe that there was any world at all where Master Liam would deny him like that.
"It couldn't -- I mean, he wouldn't have.... What did you say? Did you give him my name? Did you tell him you know where I am, by name--?"
"David, stop." Mr. Anderson waved an impatient hand at him. "Just stop. You've had this fantasy since you came here about your fairy-tale lord who'd come charging in and rescue you and you've refused to let go of it no matter what we've done. I was willing to let you realize in your own time that the real world is the only one there is and that it's in your own best interests to accept that and learn to deal with your new life. But now you've involved Mr. Schmidt in your fantasies and have even gotten him to go behind my back for you. I'm going to have to let him go now because of your selfish delusions. I hope you realize that whatever hardship he or his family face now is all your doing."
Before Orlando could say a word, the janitor rounded on Mr. Anderson. "What? You're firing me?! You didn't say I was fired! I came and told you, I could've just kept quiet but I told you--!"
"You plotted with a slave behind my back. I can't have you here any longer." Anderson sounded completely unmoved by the other man's upset.
"You bastard! You bring me in here all calm-like and all that time you knew you were gonna can me!"
"You can't possibly have expected to keep your job after this."
"If it'd turned out this was some kinda mistake and that lord had come sweeping in here all grateful that we'd found his body-slave, you'd've been happy enough that I'd done it!"
Anderson gave him a patronizing smile. "I suppose I might have. But it wasn't and he didn't and you're still fired." He looked over his shoulder, toward the still-open door, and said, "Security?"
A large man in a grey uniform with a walkie-talkie and some kind of club on his belt walked in and stood behind the janitor.
"Take Mr. Schmidt to gather his things and only his things, then escort him to his car." To the janitor, Anderson said, "You'll receive your final check and dismissal paperwork in the mail."
He turned and faced Orlando once more, ignoring the muttered cursing of the janitor on his way out. The security man followed him and closed the door behind them.
"Now," said Mr. Anderson. "As for you. I realize this transition period has been hard for you. I've done my best to make it easier for you recently and I thought perhaps we'd been making progress. No matter what you think, however, I need you to understand that this was your one and only chance to act out.
"If you attempt to suborn any other of the employees here, if you make any attempt to run away or cause any more trouble at all, I'll sell you directly to a toxic clean-up team where you'll soon have no hair, no teeth and be so covered in radiation burns and oozing sores that even that fantasy-master in your dreams would turn away from you. We'd lose money on the deal, but I just lost money today because of you, having to fire and replace a custodian. The clean-up teams don't require any training and I'd be able to get you off my hands and out of my facility immediately, cutting my losses. You do not want to convince me that that's the most economical solution to this problem.
"Do you understand?"
Orlando swallowed hard, but before he could answer or even think of an answer, Anderson snapped, "I said, do - you - understand?"
"Yes!" Orlando had meant to yell but it came out a gasping whine. He coughed and blinked and rubbed his eyes, as though trying to clear away whatever it was that was blocking him from perceiving the real world because what he'd been hearing and seeing and experiencing couldn't be it.
Anderson said, "I'll leave you to think about that, then. I'll be back later and I'll expect you to be perfectly cooperative." He turned and left, leaving Orlando alone.
Or was it David?
In the world Orlando had lived in, it was absolutely impossible that his master would ever repudiate him, would ever disown him or reject him or fail to come get him if he got lost. It was the keystone of his universe and without it, the rest crumbled.
But it had happened, so what did that mean?
It had been so long -- unbearably long. He only saw Master Liam in his dreams, or in his waking fantasies when he was alone and wishing that this was all a dream. But it wasn't, and it was pretty clear that it wasn't just a mistake, it wasn't something that'd gone wrong and would be fixed.
Where he was right there was the real world, as real as the concrete under his ass and behind his shoulders, as real as the healing sores and the hungry ache in his stomach.
And the rest...?
He remembered spending a lot of time on computers. That made sense, since he'd sold them for a living. He remembered his mother in the kitchen, and his sister in the garden -- that was normal. That was the kind of memory a normal person had. Slaves didn't have their mothers and sisters with them.
He remembered going to Las Vegas at least a couple of times. He remembered flying there, and doing some business and going to the hotels and walking through the casinos. He didn't remember gambling, but if he'd lost a lot of money, if his gambling really had led to so much debt that he'd been enslaved, then maybe... maybe he'd just buried the memory? People did that with things they couldn't face, didn't they?
He remembered Master Liam, tall and strong, caring but stern. He remembered learning to ride and fish, going for walks together, sharing sandwiches out on the lawn while the ducks landed on the lake. He remembered Master Liam in the kitchen, stealing cookies from behind his mother's back. He remembered Master Liam so frightened and angry when he took Palisade out--
--like a father. He remembered the tall, handsome man spending time with him and teaching him and indulging him all his life, letting him tag along after him whenever he was home, just like a busy father who was away on business a lot would indulge a son he didn't see often, spending time with him when he could.
That man, the one in his dreams -- was that his father? Had he taken the image of the father he loved and somehow twisted it in his imagination into a... a lover? Someone who'd love him and take care of him and protect him, even now, when he was thirty-one and old enough that he should be able to take care of himself? If he'd really done something as stupid as gambling himself into debt and into slavery, was he imagining now that his father would come and save him and carry him away and make it all better, like he had when he'd been small?
And what did it say about him that he saw his father as a lover?
He moaned and curled up into himself. It couldn't be true, but neither could the other. It had to be a fantasy because his master would always come for him, but he hadn't so it wasn't real, it was just something he'd imagined because he couldn't face what a fuck-up he'd been so he'd spun stories to himself about this fairy-tale land and it was all in his head, he'd dreamed it to give himself a place to escape to because being a slave whose master loved him was better than being an idiot who'd gamble himself into slavery and got himself sold to clean up toxic waste because he was so stupid he couldn't even remember which world was real and which one only existed inside his useless head!
David sank down into the corner and shivered in the cold until he fell into an exhausted, dream-wracked sleep.
Marton watched through the monitor while David fought to comprehend what was happening to him. He could tell the exact moment when the young man broke, when he turned away from his real memories and accepted the life Marton had created for him. Finally.
He nodded to Anderson and said, "There, with any luck that'll be it. Keep up the dosage -- a hundred fifty milligrams per day for one more week should do it. Then if the graft is healed sufficiently, you can sell him any time.
Anderson nodded and said, "Not a problem. Another week on that stuff and he won't be able to remember why he ever thought his memories were real. I'll let him stew for a couple of hours, then head in with another meal and run through the routine again."
"Good." Marton slugged down the last of a cup of coffee and tossed the empty into a nearby trash can. "So, next up. I've got a boy at the office who's cooperating, luckily. He agrees that no one could be worse than his previous owner and is happy to have a vacation before trying his luck again. He's healing up well -- another three weeks and he should be ready to sell."
"Great." Anderson gave him a wry smile. "I'd just as soon not try to juggle two problem children at once."
"But you're so good at it," Marton teased.
"That's why you pay me the big bucks."
"I certainly do, to say nothing of the bonus you have coming. Speaking of which, I've decided not to renew on the new place after next month. When I'm done there, we'll pack everything into the trucks and leave them in the back lot right here; where you take them to set up next is up to you."
"I thought you needed another target after the one you've got now?" Anderson asked.
"I do, and we brought her in yesterday. She came through surgery just fine and is still out. But she shouldn't take more than six weeks to be ready to sell, even under Plan A, so letting the new place go in seven weeks won't be a problem. And if she's Plan B, then she'll be here in a couple of weeks anyway." Marton shrugged. "If that's the case then I'll just pack up and move in here for the last month. Then I'll be gone and it's all yours."
"Nice of you not to try to make me buy in," Anderson said. His voice was neutral, suspicious even, and Marton gave a mental sigh.
"I figured all the start-up costs when I set my goal, and these last three slaves'll give me that. I don't need you to buy me out, although if you insist...? No?" He grinned and shrugged. "Fine. I don't need to gouge you and you don't need to think of some way to kill me to avoid being gouged. Win-win, right?"
Anderson snorted. "Hey, if you're good with it then I'm not complaining."
"Excellent. I'll be heading back, then. Let me know if there are any problems with David."
Marton waved and left.
Next Chapter: Chapter Eighteen