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, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six
Liam clicked SEND on a letter to one of his project managers, then shut down the mail window and closed the design review reports he'd been quoting out of while listing instructions.
That was it; everything that needed to be done for the day was finished and everything else could wait. He stretched, feeling the ache in his back and the pull of his muscles, then just closed his eyes and relaxed back into his chair, arms draped over the sides and head resting on the back. He had no idea what time it was and didn't particularly care.
The house felt cold. It was probably just the December chill, although the heating system was perfectly efficient and the panel in the hall had shown a perfectly steady seventy degrees all day, every day. Must be something wrong; he made a mental note to have someone come out and look at it.
He heard the door open, then soft footsteps across the carpet. Something clinked down on his desk and he opened his eyes. A plate with two brownies in it sat next to his keyboard.
A glance at the clock showed that it was well past dinner time. Liam started to say "Johnny" while turning to look over his shoulder, then stopped. It wasn't Johnny.
Gloria put her hands on his shoulders. The were thin, bony hands with wrinkled-crepe skin and dark spots. He covered her right hand with his left and squeezed. "What are you doing here? It's a long way from the kitchen."
"I can manage perfectly well," she said. "I'm just slow."
"That may be, but you still shouldn't be standing there like that." Liam slid out from under her palms and helped her over to the sofa.
She sat, slowly, then patted the cushion next to her. "Come sit with me," she said. It was as good an idea as any; as he sat, she said, "You hardly ever come to the kitchen anymore."
Liam looked away and stared at a print on the wall, two golden retrievers in a meadow. He tried to think of something to say, but words came rushing through his mind in a jumble and refused to fit together or make any sense.
She clasped his hand in one of hers and squeezed lightly. "We all miss him too, you know," she said. Her other hand reached up and brushed through his hair. "There's not a single person here who'd think the less of you for showing it."
He felt his jaw clenching, and the hand she held fisted. If anyone else, any other slave had dared so presume, he'd have dealt out a whip-crack reprimand and probably at least a smack to teach them to hold their tongue.
But this was Gloria, and without even thinking, he said, "I don't know what to do." His voice was low and strained and plaintive, and showing that much weakness and uncertainty in front of anyone else -- slave or free -- would have had him dying of shame, or wishing to.
But this was Gloria. She'd seen him in worse circumstances, been witness to and recipient of his teenage fumblings, when he'd been fifteen and his father had thrust her into his room and ordered her to show him the way of it. She'd been thirty-three and still a lovely woman, but from his perspective of excitement and terror, she'd borne a horrifying resemblance to his mother. He'd been unable to perform for most of the afternoon, and when he'd finally managed to work up the interest, he'd spurted onto her thighs the moment his hand had brushed between her legs.
She'd never laughed at him, never shown any irritation. Nor had she shown the sort of neutral patience a discreet slave might've put on to hide distaste or contempt, nor had she gone right to work to get him up and ready quickly. Instead she'd pulled him down beside her and cuddled him, with his burning face hidden in the soft curve of her throat, and rubbed his back until sleep took him away from his masculine humiliation. At some point later that evening, he'd woken up to a wonderful sensation, and found her straddling him, impaling herself on his newly-interested cock, and from there it had gone as well as any fifteen-year-old virgin could hope for.
Liam had always been grateful to her, a feeling he'd instinctively hidden from his father. He'd held the man in great respect, but some things weren't shown. He honestly couldn't have said whether his father would have strongly disapproved of any son of his feeling gratitude toward a slave, or whether he would have strongly disapproved of any son of his showing gratitude toward a slave. Either way, the result would have been the same and Liam had known to conceal his feelings.
And now, forty years later, he realized that he still felt safe in her presence. Not physically, of course, but rather in knowing that he could trust her not to scorn his failings. With everyone else he had to be strong and decisive and in control, and usually that wasn't at all difficult because he was a strong and decisive man and he rarely lost control of anything. Now, though....
"I don't know what to do," he repeated. "Even if I find him, they won't let me have him. And I can't even say that what happened to that boy at the club was worse than what Commerce does to runaways. At least it was over with in one evening, a few hours instead of days or weeks or months of slow murder."
She shifted position and he felt her rubbing his back. "So, what can you do?"
"Nothing. If I find him, Commerce will take him away from me."
She was silent for a while, just rubbing, then said, "Well, what if you don't tell them?"
He shook his head and squeezed her shoulders, only realizing then that his arm had gone around her in return. "They'll find out. Someone will tell them. Or even if not, they can do inspections whenever they like. I'd have to hide him in a secret cellar or something, and even then hope that a Commerce agent didn't terrorize one of the others into telling."
"No, that's not what I meant. If you find him, can't you just check on him, make certain he's better off where he is than with Commerce?"
"I--" Liam blinked and cut himself off. He'd just assumed that finding Orlando meant scooping him up and taking him home, whether grabbing him out of the hands of criminals or writing however large a check was required to buy him from someone who'd unknowingly been sold stolen property. He hadn't thought beyond that, nor even taken the process apart to see if there were any earlier point where he could stop.
Just finding him and then deciding -- that was actually an excellent idea, one which hadn't occurred to him in his desperation to find Orlando and get him home. And in fact he was a little embarassed for not thinking of it himself.
But it was all right. Gloria wouldn't laugh at him for that, either.
Ben hadn't bothered to check his secret e-mail for a couple of days. He was pretty sure Neeson had bailed on him for good, and only boredom sent him looking that afternoon, just for the fuck of it.
He read the note, then sat back and scowled at the monitor.
Changed his mind again. Great.
All right, then, it was his decision. This was it -- he could send the guy his actual name and contact info and let Neeson buy him from Mr. Duncan. Who really wasn't that bad, but you never knew and there was always the bus option. Although Neeson could end up screwing him over -- pump him for info and then sell him to the mines if he wanted -- and Ben would be basically, well, screwed, with no one to squawk to.
Or for that matter, Neeson might decide to go all Good Citizen on him and hand him back to his old master.
Ben shuddered. The mines would be worse, but only by a hair.
He stared at Neeson's e-mail with one elbow on the table and chewed on his thumbnail.
Decide, decide, decide....
Fuck it. He hit REPLY and started typing.
Marton handed the girl -- new name Alice Hong -- over to Brendan and went back to the van to get the boy who was still shackled in the back. They'd get them settled into their cells and then they'd be Anderson's problem.
Mitchell Thurston had managed to get himself indebted for over a million, so while the switch fee was higher than usual, Marton wasn't going to be able to tack as much on as he'd hoped; Commerce would only reimburse for so much, unfortunately. Still, with Ben's sale earlier, it'd put him over his target and he was getting out. The two slaves had been crowded into the back of the van with records and equipment he wouldn't be needing anymore; he'd shut down the office operation and was dumping the detritus on Anderson. He could rent a new place, or not, and do whatever he wanted.
Marton had no idea what Anderson was going to do for a plastic surgeon, but that wasn't Marton's problem either.
Ten minutes later he headed into the office where the new slaves were now visible on two of the monitors. He grabbed a cup of coffee and said to Anderson, "The rest is in the van and the main office is empty. It's all yours."
Anderson grinned at him and lifted his own coffee mug in a toast. "So, when are you heading out?"
Marton eyed him and took a leisurely sip. "Perhaps I misspoke. It's not quite all yours yet. I'll be leaving soon after I have my checks for these last two slaves."
"Oh, sure, sure! That's what I meant!"
His erstwhile employee sounded a bit too hearty and Marton sighed. He glanced around to make sure they were alone, then said, "All right, just as a thought experiment, let's make sure we touch all the bases. I'm being wildly generous to you, having set this whole operation up and then being willing to hand it over and walk away. Generous does not mean stupid, however.
"An acquaintance of mine has a letter, addressed to the Secretary of Commerce, with instructions to mail it if he doesn't hear from me, in a letter postmarked from a certain city and country upon which we've agreed, by a certain date. If anything unfortunate were to occur to me, et cetera, et cetera. And if, again purely for the sake of our thought experiment, you should attempt to cheat me out of anything which is rightfully mine -- especially considering all that I'm giving you out of the goodness of my heart -- I might just find that even if I do survive to leave this forsaken country, I might not be able to spare the cost of a stamp to write to my old acquaintance and assure him of my well-being. I'm sure you wouldn't want this person to be left worrying over me, wondering whatever could have happened."
Anderson smirked, and gave Marton another salute with his coffee mug. This second gesture had less of celebration about it and more of irony. "No, that'd be a shitty thing to have happen, I'm sure."
"Then we're agreed that we would both rather this thought experiment never be carried out."
"Oh, sure, absolutely." Anderson swiveled around in his chair to face the monitors once more, and pretended to be busy with something in a second window.
Marton rolled his eyes. Too predictable. He'd have to think about giving Brendan a hint; Marton didn't think things were going to go all that well once Anderson's were the sole hands on the reins.
Next Chapter: Chapter Twenty-Eight