It’s the kind of thing I usually write but it’s not like anything I’ve written before.
I blame this on my strict Catholic upbringing and 12 years of parochial school. :)
And yes, the title of the fic has been used many times before but it just works here. Sorry.
Warning: PLEASE HEED THIS WARNING. This contains references to the Catholic Church and a dark religious theme. If this bothers you, please do not read. If it bothers you, but you still want to read it, then by all means, go right ahead. However, there is no character death.
Summary: The Catholic Church defines ‘atonement’ as the reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus. It’s like the priest always told Sean, someone always has to pay for your sins.
Disclaimer: This is so not true. This is about as far from the truth as the Earth is to Pluto.
Beta: simplyshanni who, I know I’ve said this before, is made up of all kinds of awesome and who after having read it, made me feel better about posting. :)
Stigmata: Bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.
The Church neither confirms nor denies the existence of this phenomenon.
"Forgive me, Father..."
"Come to confess all yer sins, have ye, lad?"
Sean exhaled the breath he was holding in as he listened to the dulcet tones of the smooth Irish brogue on the other side of the confessional. Father O'Flannery would never judge him, of that much he was certain, which is why he felt a huge weight lift off his chest.
"I have committed sins against humanity."
"Oh Sean. I know about the sins you've committed against humanity. It was on the 5 o'clock news. The Boston Hilton's finest, most luxurious suite, filled to capacity with eleven..."
"Thirteen," Sean corrected.
"Thirteen dead drug dealers and assorted filth. I imagine the cleaning crew is still dealing with the carnage," the Father snorted.
"They were trying to set themselves up here without going through Hanoran first," Sean defended his employer. He wasn't sure if he was defending him to the man of the cloth or to the church in general as he always felt the church to be a living entity unto itself.
His mam always said he was a good Catholic boy.
Which is why he required forgiveness after every kill.
Sean could hear the priest quietly sigh. "You're forgiven, lad. That'll be three Hail Mary's and one Our Father. Go with God." Sean could see the shadow of the priest as he made the sign of the cross through the screen.
"Thank you Father." Sean made to leave when the screen door slid back and the priest looked directly at the hitman.
"Now that that's outta the way, ye need tah be asking for more than forgiveness, Seanie. It's all well and good that ye come in here, but one o’ these days ye're goin' to have to atone for those sins. Ye should just leave. Quit. Take that boy o’ yers, Orlando, and just go..."
"No one just quits Hanoran, Father, ye know that."
Sean turned and walked out of the confessional, not stopping when the priest opened the door to the booth and yelled one last time, "Someone'll have to pay for yer sins eventually, Seanie!"
Sean stopped and turned around while looking at the large crucifix attached to the wall behind the altar. He peered into the face of their Savior. Those eyes facing heavenward and the large rivers of the blood that flowed along his half naked body had been the stuff of nightmares when he was but a lad. "Isn't that what He died for?"
The blond man turned around, dipped his hand in the Holy Water, genuflected while casting one more glance at the cross and departed the church.
Later that evening, Sean opened the door to his flat. Before he could even take two steps inside, he was tackled to the ground by an extremely exuberant Orlando.
To most people on the street, Sean was known as 'the Cleaner.' To anyone living in the comfortable flat that was situated in one of Boston’s older neighborhoods, the flat in which he was presently taking up residence on the floor, he was simply known as…
Now Sean was a trained mercenary who was proficient in all forms of combat. He knew all the various martial arts and was quite flexible in tight spaces. He could take out a room of thirteen armed drug dealers in less time than it took for their elaborately prepared meals, efficiently delivered by room service, to cool. He could make deadly explosives out of kitchen cleaning supplies. And Bisquick.
The one thing he couldn’t do was stave off the enthusiastic onslaught Orlando unleashed on him every time he walked through the front door. The older man smiled at the beautiful boy who was currently raining kiss after kiss upon his careworn face. "Lad, me back."
"Sorry," Orlando grinned shyly. "Here, let me help you up. I know how it is...you know...when you get old ‘n stuff, yeah?’
"Why ye cheeky little…" when he didn't finish as he caught sight of the impish smile the younger man was sporting. He loved the way the lad's warm, expressive, brown eyes crinkled at the corners when his whole face beamed at him in that special way.
Sean thought that for all the sins he'd committed, he could surely withstand the fires of Hell if he could but take a memory of that smile with him forever into the inferno of his eternity.
Then again, Hell being what it is, he probably wouldn't even be granted that small comfort.
"Sean? I was watching the news," Orlando began hesitantly, the crease between his furrowed eyebrows a sure indication of how much he had been worrying.
And just as Sean knew what was coming, he could also read the reluctance on the young man's face.
"I...uh...I saw that the Dow dropped again," Orlando sighed.
The older man turned around, meeting the concerned chocolate eyes head on. Orlando was about as interested in Wall Street as Sean was in daytime telly. "Yes, Angel, that was me."
"The Dow?" Orlando asked, laughing nervously as he tried to diffuse the tension in the room.
"Ye can stop pretending, lad," Sean conceded.
“But eleven, Sean?!? Eleven?” Orlando half-questioned, half-exclaimed.
"Thirteen. It were thirteen. Does it help for ye to know they were all bad people?" Sean winced, realizing how lame that sounded.
"Yes, I'm sure that will help me to sleep better at night, knowing that right before you used garroting wire on them, they used to be bad people," Orlando asserted.
“You know about the garroting wire?” Sean frowned, surprise evident in the harassed tone of his voice. At Orlando’s confirming nod, his ruggedly handsome face darkened into a scowl. He was never comfortable with his lad knowing too many details about the jobs he carried out with such merciless efficiency.
In an effort to change the subject, he focused his attention on the laptop that Orlando had been perusing just before he had come home. “What’s all this?
"I was bored and started reading," Orlando shrugged.
"Bigfoot?" Sean snorted. "Oh lad. Ye know this is all myth. And awfully Seventies too. I thought Sasquatch went out with 8-track tapes."
"I don't know, Sean, I think he's real. They have evidence..."
"They also have evidence of a five foot tall bat boy who lives in Virginia and steals all the fruit from the orchards at night," Sean chuckled.
"Bigfoot lives in the densely packed woods of the Pacific Northwest. He keeps eluding everyone and the woods there are so beautiful, Seanie. I was thinking, if a seven foot tall hairy beast can hide in the wilderness, why couldn’t a hitman and his rather cheeky boyfriend? I doubt that power-hungry mob boss of yours would think to look for us there, and we would certainly have a better chance of blending into the wilds than a seven foot tall…”
"Hairy beast. Yeah. Orli, you're talking about a rural legend."
"Exactly! He's only a rural legend because they can't catch him."
Sean found it hard to fight with the boy's logic sometimes. The older man pulled his lover close to him. "We can't run, Orli. It doesn't work that way. You don't quit Hanoran." Sean watched as Orlando dejectedly rested his head against his broad chest.
More than anything, he wished things could be different. This wasn't the life he wanted for his young lover.
Orlando was everything that the rest of his shite life wasn't. He was all that was good and right about the world when the rest of the world was so wrong.
He should never have become involved with the lad in the first place, but he had. Now he could no more give Orlando up than he could his right arm.
Actually, he could live without his right arm.
What he could not do was live without Orlando.
"I don't know how it is someone like you ended up loving someone like me. I don't deserve ye, lad," Sean muttered into Orlando's dark curls.
"I can't help it, love, I simply do. And I don't like what this job is doing to you. It's just not you. You’re not the type who can easily put all that ugliness behind you,” he declared, before looking up into the face of his older lover with beseeching brown eyes. “Sean?”
"Hmm?" Sean hummed.
"Can I at least pray for your immortal soul?" Orlando implored.
Sean wasn't exactly sure if his lover was serious, as there was a bit of a nervous laugh at the end of the request.
"Sure, why not," he answered flippantly.
It couldn't hurt.
It wouldn't help, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything either.
He was already a man destined for damnation. There weren’t enough Holy Mary’s or Our Father’s in the world to change that.
Two weeks later, Sean found himself sitting on an examination table in the office of Dr. Viggo Mortensen. It was far from the first time that his job had forced him to seek out the services of the doctor kept in Hanoran’s employ, and a strong friendship had developed between the two men over the years.
“That’s pretty nasty,” Viggo observed dispassionately.
"Fucker had a concealed knife. I wasn't thinking clearly. Ouch! Fuck Viggo!" Sean yelled.
"Sorry. I mean, I’m only closing a roughly 5-inch gash in your side with a staple gun. That's all," Viggo muttered.
Sean shot an angry glare at the other man.
"So, which of Macy's men did this to you?"
"Don't know," the muscular blond shrugged. "Not sure."
"You know, Sean, I know people," Viggo responded while placing the gun to the open wound.
"Yeah, what a surprise. I know people, too. Fuck, Viggo!" he exclaimed as another staple hit a tender nerve.
"You know, sentences usually end with a period, an exclamation point or a question mark," the doctor paused as he ejected another staple into Sean's flesh, "but not with a 'fuck, Viggo.' So, I know people..."
"We've established that. Fuck, Vig...Go on," Sean gasped sharply as yet another staple found its mark.
"They could set you up with new identities, everything. You could retire like you should. Get out of Boston. It would be easy for you to disappear."
"Like Bigfoot," Sean chuckled as he recalled his recent conversation with his lover.
"What was that?"
“So…are you gonna head home to Orlando now, pretend that you weren’t almost killed, that the only thing that matters is that you got all the bad guys? Or are you going to church? What is the going penance nowadays for shooting a room full of people?"
Sean looked straight ahead, not saying a word. The good doctor knew him only too well. He planned to stop by the church as soon as he was free to leave Viggo’s office. He wondered what pathetic act of contrition he would be asked to perform today. Whatever it turned out to be, he would comply with all due haste so he could finally return home. To Orlando, whose eyes he would make a point of avoiding, since the shame of what he had done today only added to his previous sins.
What good did it do him to have a lover he absolutely cherished and adored if he could never look him in the face? "You of all people know you can't just quit Hanoran," Sean accused gruffly.
"Yeah, I know, I know. Man, that's probably a bigger myth than that whole bat boy story," Viggo declared as he held up the staple gun. "Did you read about that? Anywho," he continued as he bent over to apply the gun to Sean's side once again, "who's to say what Hanoran or his men would do. Maybe it'd be worth it."
"It's not as easy as you make it sound," Sean grumbled, wincing when the next staple bit into him.
"Yeah, well you should still get out. What'll it take, Sean? Hmm? What'll it take so you can get some sleep at night?"
Viggo applied the last staple to the nearly closed wound. Another stab of pain lanced through Sean.
When Sean got home after his visit to church, he stepped into a flat that was completely dark.
The flat was never dark when he came home.
Even if Orlando stepped out to get something, he always left all the lights on so that there would be light when he returned from wherever he had been.
It was also too quiet. Orlando, to be sure, did not greet Sean at the door every time he came home, but there was usually music blaring from somewhere, or something was playing on the telly.
Background noise, Orlando liked to call it. It was comforting to the lad when Sean wasn’t at home. But there was nothing now.
Just disquieting quiet.
Blocking out the low noise coming from the outside and the eerie silence within the apartment, Sean could finally make out the one sound that seemed to filter through to his senses.
A very low sobbing was coming from the vicinity of their shared bedroom.
No, not sobbing.
As if someone were in pain.
Sean rushed from his spot in the entryway and ran to the bedroom, his heart pounding loudly in his chest as he sprinted the whole way. Never before had the hallway seem as long as it did than at this moment.
No, not him. Not him!
All of his fears were confirmed when he approached the bedroom and just stared numbly at the image that was displayed on their large, King-sized bed.
The lighting was set at a low intensity, but he could still see clearly enough.
And Lord, did he wish he hadn’t!
Taking out his cell phone, he quickly dialed Viggo's personal number and without so much as a cursory greeting, gruffly demanded that he get his arse over to the flat. Now!
Sean had seen a great many things in his forty years on this earth. He’d been witness to countless atrocities, (yes, most of them committed by him) but the horrific vision on the bed stopped him dead in his tracks, chilling him down to the very marrow of his bones.
He was not prepared for this.
Never had he been prepared for this.
Rushing to the side of the bed, Sean was at a loss as to what to do, not knowing where to touch, how to heal. He watched as his lover, his beautiful Orlando, writhed on the bed, his back continually arching up off the surface, as he lay in a pool of his own blood, his face set in a rictus of pain the likes of which he had never seen.
So much blood.
Now that Sean had cleared the strange haze from his brain and the white noise that had been ringing in his ears since he first beheld the gory, terrifying sight on the bed, he was able to make out the source of all the blood.
Copious amounts of the viscous fluid were flowing from the ghastly wounds inflicted on his lover’s hands and the side of his torso.
And his forehead.
Oh God! His forehead.
Sean watched helplessly as it appeared that Orlando was sweating tiny streams of blood. It cascaded down his forehead, into his eyes, staining his cheeks as it soaked into the sodden clumps of his unruly hair. But it didn't stop there; the streams continued to run down his throat and pool into the hollows of his collarbone.
Unthinkingly, Sean grasped Orlando’s hand to offer him comfort but dropped it immediately when he remembered the wounds. It appeared as if someone had driven a spike through his lover's hand and, with another twist to his gut, he noticed a mirror wound on the other appendage.
Dawning realization came to Sean as he quickly lifted Orlando's shirt and looked down at his torso, finding the gashes pierced into through his side, as if he had been skewered with a large knife.
Or a lance.
When the guards repeatedly stabbed Him in his side with their lances.
He knew these wounds.
Looking up at his lover's head, he saw the circlet of deep, bloody lacerations.
Where they lay a crown of thorns upon His head.
He carefully turned over one of the punctured hands.
Where they had nailed him to the cross..
Only those wounds hadn't been made by nails as upon closer inspection, these wounds appeared to have been made by railroad spikes.
Wincing as he tried to touch some part of Orlando that would not cause him pain, Sean pulled the young man forward and peeled his shirt away from the lashes he knew he would find on the lad’s once perfect back.
Where they had whipped him before nailing him to that cross.
Swallowing past the bile that threatened to rise from within, Sean braced himself for the worst of the wounds as he glanced to the foot of the bed and took in the state of his lover’s feet. One foot was lying atop the other, as if pinned together, a generous amount of blood oozing from the large, garish hole found upon the feet.
Calling upon a well of strength Sean didn't even know he possessed, he managed to keep himself together enough to stay sane for his lover. But it was all just too much.
"Hurts, Sean," Orlando whimpered once more. "So much pain."
“Hold on, lad, Viggo’s coming. Can you tell me who did this to you?" Sean asked, choking on his own words as they left his mouth.
Sean had a long, excruciatingly painful torture session planned for whatever animal had done this to his Orlando.
Orlando, who had never hurt a single living thing in all of his twenty-two years.
The young man reached his hand out and tapped Sean's chest, trying to grab the crucifix that lay there. Sean looked down in confusion. "Orli?"
Sean was by no means a dumb man. He knew someone must have tortured Orlando. These wounds were by no means self-inflicted. There was simply no way that he could have done this to himself. But what was his lover trying to insinuate? It couldn't possibly be Him!
"Someone had to pay for your sins," Orlando whispered hoarsely, his rueful laugh cut off by a sudden burst of pain that shot through his system. "Someone always has to pay, Seanie. I guess He answered my prayers." Orlando chuckled one last time before his head lolled back on his neck and he gave into the severe pain. It was at that exact moment when Viggo entered the flat.
"What the...?" Viggo stood in the doorway of their bedroom, stunned into immobility as he took in the dreadful scene being played out in front of him.
Sean looked up at his friend, tears streaming down his face. "Help him. He...this was meant for me. He's dying...for me...for my sins."
Viggo continued to stare in horror as he watched the brawny man continue to hold his bleeding lover in a tight embrace as he fell to his knees beside the bed and prayed to a God he thought had abandoned him.
If Hanoran or any of his men ever asked Doctor Viggo Mortensen if he knew about the disappearance of one Sean Bean, AKA the Cleaner, once in the employ of said mob boss, or that of Sean’s lover, Orlando Bloom, Viggo would certainly not tell them about how the two men had taken him up on his offer to get them new papers and new identities from those people he knew.
He would also assuredly not tell them about how the duo took off for the greater Pacific Northwest, to live on an island located somewhere in the Puget Sound.
And he would most definitely not, even under the threat of death, tell them about how, when he got to Sean’s flat that fateful night, there turned out to be no patient to cure. Because said patient’s wounds disappeared before his very own eyes when Sean got down on his knees and began to pray. He would never tell anyone about that, because then he would be considered as crazy as the people who gave testimonials to the existence of that bat boy in Virginia or Bigfoot.
Viggo would not tell them anything.
Then again, no one asked Viggo if he knew anything because, as everyone knows, whenever Viggo was asked something, he always said he knew nothing.
* runs and hides *
Actually, feedback is welcome and loved. And yes, you can argue with me all you want about this one. I’m pretty thick skinned.