Dr. Craig Tucker had had a long, trying day of tending to patients and incidentals pertaining to his estate, and he was tired; very tired. He was so tired, in fact, that he'd opted to forgo the dinner party he'd been invited to by one Lady Testaburger, and was instead imbibing on expensive brandy before a roaring fire. He'd loosened his tie and put his feet up on an expensive velvet ottoman, and was just in the process of properly unwinding when a knock came at the door of his study, pulling him from his reverie and his libation respectively.
"Yes, what is it?" He snapped, sitting up and straightening himself, having never become accustomed to allowing himself to look disheveled in front of anyone, even if it was only McCormick entering the room holding a silver tray. He held it up, his face impassive and his one good eye (the other covered by an eye patch) catching the firelight and gleaming blue.
"You've received a letter by special post, sir," he said, looking impeccable in his black livery, every blonde hair in place. "Shall I open it for you?"
"Never mind," Craig muttered, standing from his place after setting his snifter aside. He went to his desk and retrieved a silver letter opener and returned, snatching the letter from the tray and glaring at it. The envelope was a creamy white and had been sealed with maroon wax, an unfamiliar crest set in the molding. His name was on the front, written in curlicue writing of black ink. Sneering, he slashed the article open and slipped out a single sheet of paper, the same swirly writing marching across the page:
Dear Dr. Tucker,
I'm afraid this letter has been sent to you during a time of dire straights for my family. You see, my beloved wife, Shelly O'Rourke (née Marsh), has died in childbirth and has left me in quite a state. You see, we have a passel of children that I shall have to attend to on my own for an undetermined amount of time, and this is a daunting task for one who is still very deep in the throes of mourning.
I suppose I've gotten ahead of myself though, haven't I? My name is Amir O'Rourke and I was married to Shelly for nigh onto ten years, and she often spoke of you and your relationship with the Marsh family in glowing terms. I was led to believe that at one point in your history that you had been very close with them, though you've fallen out of contact with them over the years for one reason or another.
Do you remember their son, Stanley? He has grown up handsomely, I dare say, and is a wonderful lad, but you see....
I am at my wits' end with the burden that has been left behind in my late wife's absence, and I only have so many resources for so many charges in my care. That's why I must ask of you a favor, to come and fetch the child so that he may live in your estate, for if he were to stay with me I'm afraid I would have to send him away to the orphanage. There just isn't enough money to go around, nor is there enough food. My wife had been a seamstress before going to her reward and her income, though meager, had kept us afloat, but now –
I implore you, sir, take pity on a stranger and a child in need. I will understand if you say no, or if I never hear a response from this letter at all, but I pray that you will see fit to deliver us from certain destruction. Stanley would be a worthy addition to your staff if you need an extra worker, and I know he would work hard to find his place and earn his keep.
Enclosed are the details regarding my whereabouts. If you've any questions do not hesitate to send a letter and I will answer to the best of my ability. I thank you in advance for even reading this far, and I praise your name if you decide to answer the call of a beggar, pathetic though he may be.
Very sincerely yours,
It was with a grim expression that Craig crumpled the letter slightly, his gaze lifting and meeting McCormick's one curious eye.
"Thank you," he said, throwing the letter on his desk in irritation. "You just made a long day feel even longer."
It came to pass, after ruminating and agonizing for several days, that Craig decided to take this mysterious Amir O'Rourke up on his offer to fetch the urchin away from his struggling domicile, and it was on a cloudy day that McCormick readied the carriage to depart. After consulting a map, Craig figured out that their destination was at least two days' away, and that was if the weather behaved and the horses moved at a steady clip. He lounged in the back of the carriage as it started to roll, his head in his hand as he tried to conjure up memories of the Marsh boy. He could remember dark hair and blue eyes, but beyond that his recollection was hazy at best.
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he said as he settled in for a long journey, his curiosity growing with every mile that passed. The countryside faded into flat lands of green grass, the ominous clouds threatening rain and not helping to improve his mood. "But maybe the lad will prove to be interesting," he added, a small smile playing on his lips. His hand clenched on the upholstery beneath him as he imagined the possibilities a new plaything could provide; a young waif ripe for the plucking and having no one to turn to but Dr. Craig Tucker.
Stanley Marsh was a seventeen year old who had grown up in poverty, it was the only thing he knew. He had a wonderful family, but, when he was quite young his mother had passed from cholera and his father from liver failure. With them both gone he had relied on his sister and her husband for their care but then...Shelly passed away. He had no one left and Shelly had left behind a newborn for Amir to take care of on his own. He knew he was a burden.
He had tried to help out as much as he could. He chopped wood, he fixed things around the house, and he would go into town to pick up groceries. It wasn't a lot, but it was something.
He let out a grunt as he picked up his axe to swing down and cut a log in half. He was a rather handsome young man that the girls in town had made comments about. Though he only stood 5"5" he was lithe and had a hint of muscles to his arms, legs, and stomach. His dark hair was cut short and hung in his face and he sported a pair of big beautiful blue eyes.
As he was chopping he couldn't help but nearly miss his log when he saw a rather expensive looking carriage coming down the road. That was awfully strange. This wasn't exactly the best part of town, why would something so extravagant be gallivanting on their broken roads?
Craig looked upon the cottage with disgust as they approached, at the muddy fields and the weathered, dilapidated fence circling the property. The dwelling itself was comprised of crumbling bricks and the shutters hung askew, but he was able to pull his focus from that when he saw the boy standing in the yard, chopping wood. He was pretty, very pretty, with a slender build and an angular look about his face that was very pleasing. That couldn't be Stanley Marsh, could it?
When they'd stopped, Craig waited for McCormick to open the carriage door before he descended, grimacing slightly when his shiny shoes squelched in the mud. Ignoring this, he righted his tailored suit and approached the boy slowly, his eyes drinking him in like wine with every step; the sun coming out suddenly and catching the blue highlights in the lad's shiny locks.
"Boy," he said, stopping before him. "Tell me your name, if you will."
Stan blinked a little when a very well dressed man stepped outside of the carriage and demanded his name.
"Uh...it's Stanley, Stanley Marsh, Sir." He said, looking around, setting his axe down. "Is their something I can help ya with?" He asked, moving to wipe his dirty hands on his trousers.
As he was waiting for a response he saw the door to the cottage open up and his brother-in-law step out.
"Doctor Tucker...thank you so much for coming." Amir said, walking over to Stan. "Stanley, this is Doctor Tucker, he was friends with your parents. I wrote to him to see if he could help us." He said, knowing the young man was aware of the situation he was in. "Doctor Tucker is a very well respected man and, he could probably use a little help around his estate from a strong lad like you."
Stan raised a brow. "Oh? You knew my parents?" He said before clearing his throat. "Well, I'm good at fixin' stuff and hauling wood, stuff like that." He said with a shrug. He didn't have an education, hell, he couldn't even read.
"They were close with my parents before they passed," Craig replied, continuing to study the boy. He wasn't overly muscular, thankfully. That would help in the long run. "So I grew up knowing them as well. I recall meeting you once or twice, years ago. I'm not surprised you don't remember me." Turning to Amir, he nodded slightly.
"I'm sorry about the loss of your wife," he said, glancing to see Stan's reaction at these words; the mention of his sister. "She was a good woman, hardworking and strong." He turned his focus back to Stan, taking in the sight of his clothes, how threadbare they were. They didn't complement his hidden beauty, not at all.
"You will not be fixing or hauling if you come to stay with me," he told him, his voice taking on his stern, doctor's tone; best to set the expectations early. He expected obedience. "But you will work and earn your keep. Can you do as you're told? I'll not have a miscreant in my care. I'm a busy man and I need reassurance that you will have respect for the opportunity I'm affording you."
He smiled suddenly, hoping it was soft, but knowing tender expressions were not his forte.
"What do you say, lad?"
Stan looked over at Amir who just nodded his head.
"O-Of course, I'll do whatever you need me to do, Doctor Tucker." Stan said simply. "I just don't know how to do a lot besides those things... I don't have any kind of education and I mostly worked with my hands." He said, holding his hands up, his dirty and calloused hands. "But, if you have something you think I can do...I'll do it, I'll earn my keep." He said with a small smile.
Amir smiled. "This will be good for you Stanley. Doctor Tucker has so many connections he can help you have a far better life than I ever could. You know your sister always wanted you to get out of the slums." He said, resting a hand on the lad's shoulder.
Stan nodded his head, his eyes looking at the ground. "Y-Yes...I know... Shelly always wanted better for me..." He said, trying not to start crying at the thought. Shelly had been a sister and a mother to him, now, she was gone...buried in the same cemetery his parents laid in.
"There, there," Craig said, placing a hand on the boy's bony shoulder and trying to feel it covertly. He was frail, underfed, clearly, but that could work in their favor. "Your sister would want you to be strong, I'm sure, bear up under life's trials. If you listen to me, you'll have a wonderful future, I promise you."
Looking at Amir, he cocked a brow.
"What manner of luggage does he have? Anything?" He thought a moment, tapping his chin. "On second thought, you may take something of sentimental value, I suppose, but you can leave your garments behind. We'll be traveling for several days and we can stop at the shops on the way so we can outfit you properly. That is, until we get back to the estate and I can call upon the lady who makes my clothing. She does beautiful work."
And beautiful gowns, he thought, wanting to smirk but controlling his mouth. He called to McCormick, who came over, walking carefully among the sodden, muddy yard.
"Help him settle into the carriage comfortably," he commanded, waving a hand. "We need to get moving, nightfall will be upon us soon."
"And the weather is fixing to turn, sir," the manservant replied, turning his focus on Stan as well. "Fetch your effects, child, so that we may depart."
Stan nodded his head, a small smile on his lips. "Thank you so much Doctor Tucker, I really appreciate all of this." He said, before nodding when Craig told him to leave everything behind except a sentimental item. He honestly didn't have much, so, that wasn't going to be very hard. He made his way into the cottage, grabbing a sack on his way to put things in.
Running into the small room he had been living in he grabbed a broach his mother had left him, a pipe from his father, and, his sister had given him a stuffed bear that use to share when they had been growing up. He put everything in the sack and took one last look at the hovel he had been living in. What good fortune he was going to experience! Going from the slums to high society, it was a rags to riches tale!
He ran back out, a smile on his lips as he hoisted the bag over his shoulder.
"Okay, I have everything I want to take with me." He said, before looking over at Amir.
"Thank you for everything you've done for me, Amir."
Amir smiled. "Of course Stanley, you know you will be in our thoughts." He said, moving to turn his back and go into the cottage.
Craig watched Amir depart with scant interest, focusing instead on the boy as he was ushered into the waiting carriage, a sad, little bag clutched in his hands. He frowned, knowing Stan was going to track dirt onto the immaculate velveteen seats but he supposed it couldn't be helped, not until they'd made their first stop.
"We'll travel for a few hours and then we'll take supper," he announced, climbing in after Stan and settling himself. He crossed his legs, his chin propped in his hand as he appraised his newest acquisition. "You are hungry, aren't you? When's the last time you had a proper meal?"
Stan looked a little sheepish as Craig got into the carriage and sat next to him. Honestly, he was too distracted by how gorgeous and opulent the carriage looked. After a few moments he looked at the doctor and rubbed the back of his head. "I'm very hungry, honestly, I haven't eaten a really good meal since Shelly passed away." He admitted. "It was much more important for the baby to eat than for me, so, I gave up my portions for the kids." He said, looking out the window as they started their way out of the slums.
"I see," Craig replied, lapsing into silence as he turned his gaze out the carriage window, his mind whirring as they traveled over flat, rain-drenched country. The road weaved its way through small villages and over streams, bypassing dark forests as the day declined and night gathered at the edges of the world. Before long, he reached out a hand and slapped the top of the cab, signaling to McCormick to find a suitable restaurant so they could stop and have supper.
"I expect you to be on your best behavior," Craig said as he waited for his door to be opened. They both stepped out, McCormick taking Stan's hand as he alighted from the carriage. "I will not be made a fool of, and it's time that you started acquiring some manners."
"I'll stay with the horses, sir; see that they're fed and curried," McCormick said, standing ramrod straight with his hands behind his back.
"Secure us a room, will you?" Craig asked, eyeing the establishment and noticing that a suitable inn was attached. "We'll need accommodations for the night, and I'm tired of traveling." Coming closer, he whispered close to the manservant's ear, taking care so Stan wouldn't hear:
"Have them prepare a bath as well," he instructed. "He'll need to be thoroughly washed before we retire."
"Very good, sir," McCormick replied, sliding his eye to Stan and feeling a slight note of pity. He only knew a fraction of what was in store for the boy, and he had a feeling it was going to be a very radical surprise for the waif. "One bed?"
"Naturally, I need to keep him close so that we can get used to each other." Turning to Stan, he offered him his arm. "Shall we?"
Stan looked a bit confused as Craig offered him an arm, usually that was something reserved for ladies. He decided to shrug it off and moved to grab onto it, allowing himself to be led towards the inn. He could already smell the food cooking and he could hear his stomach growling. Everything smelled so delicious!
"I'll try to be on my best behavior..." Stan promised, wincing a little at how intense the doctor sounded. He certainly didn't want to embarrass such an important man.
As they got into the inn and towards the restaurant that was connected to it, he kept his hold on Craig's arm when a woman came up to them.
"Good evening, can I help you, sir?" She asked, looking at Craig.
"Table for two," Craig replied curtly. Gently tugging on Stan, he led him as the woman brought them to a table covered with a white cloth, a cluster of candles glowing in the center. Each place was set with a full dinner service, a plethora of cutlery laid out neatly. Ornately folded linen napkins were settled on each shining plate.
"After you," he said, pulling out Stan's chair and waiting for him to settle himself, ignoring his look of confusion. Tucking him in, he went 'round the table and sat as well, picking up his napkin and snapping it out; he settled it in his lap.
"Use your napkin properly," he commanded before turning to the server, who was lingering nearby, an anxious expression on her face. "I'll have a sherry, and the boy will have..." he tapered off, studying his charge. "He shall have sherry as well."
"We have a nice pumpkin bisque this evening, sir," she replied, glancing at the thin, dark-haired boy with the wide eyes. "Shall I bring that along with your drinks?"
"You may," he said, turning his eyes away, already wanting her to be gone so he could focus on the boy across from him. When she departed, he smoothly crossed his legs and steepled his fingers beneath his chin, glancing through the candlelight at Stan. "So," he smiled, licking his lips, "tell me a little about yourself. I don't want us to be strangers any longer than necessary."
Stan was even more confused when Craig pulled his chair out for him. That was rather odd, he remembered Amir doing that for his sister, and his father doing that for his mother. He just smiled and sat down. "Thank you, Doctor." He said softly, moving to take his napkin and just follow what Craig did. He never really even had napkins, they just wiped their hands on their clothes... He cleared his throat a little. "What...is a sherry?" He decided to ask.
When Craig told him to tell him about himself, he shrugged.
"Not much to say really. I grew up in the slums, and, after my parents passed, I had to take over a lot of the chores my father use to do, that meant wood chopping, repair, tending to the animals. I really liked working with the animals, I love animals..." He said, looking down at his lap. "I also really like music... I taught myself how to play the piano." He said, hoping that was interesting to the wealthy man.
Craig cocked an eyebrow at this bit of information. He never would've guessed that Stan would have access to a piano, much less know how to play it. He tucked this admission away for later, wanting to marinate on it for a while. Instead, he smiled indulgently at Stan as the server returned with two glasses of sherry; another server following behind with their bowls of soup.
"Sherry is a type of wine," he explained, taking a quick sip. "Try it, you'll like it."
"The salad for this evening is endive with pears and walnuts," the waitress said, watching Craig with apprehension. "Would that be to your liking, sir?"
"Yes, it should be fine," Craig replied, swirling his wine a little. "Bring it after the soup, please; we'll need some time." He nodded to his companion. "He's new to all of this, you see."
She nodded, unsure of what to say, though she smiled encouragingly at Stan.
Craig watched her go with little interest before taking up his spoon.
"Start from the outside and work your way in," he said, holding up the spoon. "And when you take up a spoonful, point it away from you. You see?" He demonstrated, his movements fluid and sure. "There's a little poem you can recite to yourself to help you remember," he said, grinning. Clearing his throat, he began to recite:
"Like a ship going out to sea, my spoon always points away from me."
He took a small bite of soup, sighing with pleasure at the taste before glancing at Stan.
"What do you think so far?"
"There is a certain way to eat soup?" Stan said, looking confused as he picked up his spoon and tried to follow Craig's instructions. "You wealthy people have rules for everything." He said with a little laugh. He moved to take a bite of soup, pointing the spoon away. He was honestly more taken aback by how good the soup tasted! It was so warm! So sweet and flavorful! He couldn't help but let a small moan escape his lips when he felt it go down his throat.
"Oh, it's delicious! I haven't had something this tasty for so long!" He admitted, the joy in his voice beaming through.
He then picked up the wine glass, sniffing the liquid a bit he took a sip. He coughed a little and shook his head.
"It's...kind of strong...but it tastes good."
Craig had to laugh at Stan's observation; it was true, after all.
"Yes, there are rules for almost everything in society," he said, tucking into the soup but enjoying Stan's obvious pleasure much more than its flavor; he'd had better. His cook at home was exemplary, but this evening's fare was sufficient enough. "They're necessary, but you'll come to understand that soon enough."
He watched closely as Stan finished almost the entire glass of sherry, knowing that it would hit him hard. He waited.
When the salad came, Craig instructed Stan on which fork to use and ordered him another glass of sherry.
"Wipe your mouth," he said, spearing a bit of lettuce. "You need to take care with your appearance when you're in public, for both our sakes."
The evening's main course was salmon with lemon and asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce, no doubt to offset the heaviness of the bisque. Craig ate it slowly, the fatigue of the day washing over him as he observed his counterpart clearing his plate with very little trouble.
"I'm sorry you've had to go without for so long," he commented, laying his fork aside and sitting back. "I don't think it's right that so many have so much, and then there are those with so little. The balance between the classes is so broken, I'm afraid."
The wine was hitting Stan, especially since he was on his second glass. He was small and underweight, thanks to not having enough food, so the alcohol was hitting him extremely hard. He put a hand to his head and tried to focus on what Craig was saying. Things were starting to spin a little, he could barely even cut the salmon on his plate.
"My...appearance? Does it matter?" He slurred, plucking the wine glass up with a shaky hand and drinking the rest of its contents. "Being poor...isn't fun..." He added. "I figured I'd just die like my family...buried in a paupers grave." He admitted, setting the wine glass down and watching as it wobbled a bit before gently falling over.
"I think you might be the first rich man who has ever even seen the slums... People are...too afraid to go down there." He said, picking up a piece of asparagus and trying to put it in his mouth, but, missing the first two times.
"Oh, I visit the slums regularly," Craig said, hiding a smile behind his napkin as he watched Stan succumb to the alcohol. "The poor need doctors just like anyone else. Clear your plate," he added, taking another bite of salmon. "We need to start putting some meat on those bones of yours. You look as if a stiff wind could blow you away."
He chewed and swallowed, considering what Stan had asked.
"Appearances always matter," he said. "You're always being judged, whether you realize it or like it. It's the way of things."
The server came over then, and Craig couldn't help but notice how timid she was, her eyes darting to Stan as he nodded over his plate.
"Shall I bring the sherbet and then dessert?" She asked, beginning to clear the plates.
"Yes, and an Irish coffee." He glanced at Stan, amused. "We can share, you'll love it."
Just then, McCormick appeared at Craig's side, almost like he'd materialized out of thin air. He leaned down, speaking close to his master's ear.
"The room has been arranged, sir, and they will start preparing the bath once you've quit the dining room."
"Very good," Craig murmured. "Fetch my bags and leave them in the room; we're almost done here. Wait at the entrance and you can lead us to our quarters."
"Yes, sir." Glancing at Stan, he stayed silent before moving away. The server came back then, bringing two silver dishes of lemon sherbet. She set them down, along with an Irish coffee.
"To cleanse the palate before we have our dessert," Craig said, scooping some of the confection into his mouth. He pushed the Irish coffee toward Stan. "Here, try it."
Stan nodded his head when Craig said he had to put meat on his bones. "Didn't use to be so skinny...I use to...look like a normal human being...not a walking skeleton..." He slurred. "As for appearances...some girls have called me...handsome..." He said, before grinning a bit. "Their was this one girl named Red and she sucked me off." He said with a drunken giggle.
Stan looked at the sherbet that was put in front of him but found coffee being pushed upon him.
"I like coffee..." He said, moving to take a sip and coughing a bit when the alcohol in it hit the back of his throat.
Craig frowned at the uncouth manner in which Stan was speaking. True, he was inebriated, but that didn't mean he had to sacrifice his decorum.
"Don't talk like that, you sound common," he snapped, a small thread of jealousy winding its way through his gut. He ignored it. They finished their sherbet while sharing the Irish coffee, until the server finally reappeared with their dessert: two stunning Crème brûlées. Craig cracked the top with the back of his spoon after instructing Stan to do the same.
"Delicious," he sighed, spooning the rich custard into his mouth, though he couldn't get the visual of Stan being sucked off by anyone out of his head. He was surprised at himself for being so preoccupied; he hadn't even completely decided what he wanted to do with Stan yet, though he had plenty of ideas.
"I feel like this day has lasted a million years," he said, setting his spoon aside once he'd scooped up the last bit of the confection. "Are you ready to retire for the evening? Our room has already been arranged."
Without waiting for Stan's answer, Craig rose from his place and went to Stan, helping him up as well. He held him tightly when he stumbled, his fragile bones shifting under his fingers as he clutched his arm.
"Lightweight," he laughed, leading him from the room. "Who knew you were so delicate?"
Exiting the dining room, Craig saw McCormick waiting for him and he nodded his head. Soon they were led to a lavish suite of rooms, his luggage already laid out on the ornate comforter covering the large four poster bed. A bathtub had been set up in the middle of the room, and before too long a knock came at the door. Women in maid's uniforms covered with white aprons began bringing in steaming jugs of water.
"Are you ready for your bath?" Craig asked, turning to Stan.
"But I am common..." Stan said, sounding confused in his drunken state. He didn't want to admit he had never had intercourse, that was something he had been saving, much to the teasing from some of his friends.He quickly forgot about that when the dessert was brought. He had never seen a dessert like this before... His mother use to make the best sweet breads but this...was something else. It didn't even sound like it had an English name. He cracked it after watching Craig and took a bite, his face lighting up at the delicious flavor.
It didn't take him long to finish it, and, when he did he felt Craig grabbing him and helping him stand and walk. He managed to understand something about a room being ready.
"Bath?" He slurred, watching as some maids came in and poured hot water into the porcelain tub. "I haven't had a bath...long time...no hot water neither..." He said, nearly falling over, grabbing onto a near by McCormick in order not to fall on the ground in a drunken mess.
"Steady him," Craig said as the maids filled the tub, adding oils to the water that smelled of roses and something spicy. The room had been lit with candles and was awash in the golden light, and Craig went to one of his parcels and opened it, withdrawing a long, white nightgown of delicate material. He laid it out along with a comb and other toiletries. He turned back to McCormick and saw that Stan was barely able to keep his feet.
"I guess he's not much of a drinker." Soon, the tub was filled and was exuding clouds of steam. The maids settled a cake of soap and a scrub brush on a table close by, one of them glancing at Stan and shaking her head with obvious pity.
"Poor little popkin," she said. "He's had a hard way of it."
"Leave us," Craig said curtly, going to McCormick and taking a hold of Stan. "You too, but stay nearby. Just in case."
"As you wish, sir." He looked at Stan like he wanted to say something but he refrained, ducking his head before vacating along with the maids, leaving the pair alone.
"You'll be alright soon," Craig tried to soothe the boy as he gently began to unbutton his shirt, his hands sliding over the exposed flesh which was surprisingly soft and pale. His eyes widened; he'd been expecting Stan to be covered with scars or imperfections, but it was almost like he'd never been touched. This thought made his mouth water, but he tried to maintain his control. "We'll just wash you and then you can sleep. Here." He succeeded in unbuttoning the shirt entirely, grimacing as he slid it from Stan's body, revealing a torso that was much too thin; a stark clavicle.
"We'll put you to rights," he murmured, beginning to unbutton Stan's trousers.
Stan found himself holding onto Craig when the butler gently pushed him into his master. He swayed and watched in a daze as Craig undressed him. Be felt his trousers fall to the ground and his shirt undone, showing off surprisingly unmarred and pale skin. He put a hand to his cheek, his cheeks red and warm...
"Craig...be careful...I don't have any other clothes..." He said, nearly falling over and into the tub.
"Don't worry, I have something you can wear," Craig reassured him, catching him and gently easing Stan's underwear down and tossing it aside, leaving the boy shivering and naked in the dimly-lit room. On the far wall a fireplace was blazing with crackling flames, the orange light flickering over Stan's paleness.
"Slowly now." Craig eased Stan into the water, his eyes drinking in the sight of his nakedness, his overwhelming innocence. He suddenly felt the need, the compulsion, to touch him all over...touch him in places that no one else had, but he managed to keep things clinical. Taking up a jug, he dipped it into the warm water and filled it. He poured its contents over Stan's head, watching as the little trickles of water fell over the nape of his neck; collecting in the hollow of his throat and trailing down his chest.
"You're so thin," he commented, pouring more water over him. "But it isn't unbecoming to you...it's almost like you were meant to be this way." Picking up the comb, he began to pass it through Stan's hair, marveling at how lustrous it was despite his lack of proper nutrition. He combed through nits and tangles, but soon it was ready to be washed, which he did, scrubbing the locks with soap until the strands were slippery between his fingers.
"Sit forward," he said, placing a hand on the nape of Stan's neck. "I'll wash your back. Would you like that?"
Stan let out a cry when he started to tip over but quickly found himself caught in Craig's arms. "You're...so strong..." He said, giggling a little to himself. "My father use to say...a rich man...couldn't be strong." He slurred as his underwear were taken off of him. When the brunette told him to sink into the water slowly, he did as he was told. "It feels so warm..." He moaned, closing his eyes as he settled into the tub, the dirt starting to wash off of him. "It feels amazing... I've never had a warm bath before." He admitted, moving to run his fingers through his hair as Craig poured a jug of water over his head.
"You don't think I look...bad?" He asked, arching his back as he enjoyed the warm water over him.
"Y-Yes...I'd love that..." Stan said, feeling a hand on his neck. Craig's hand was so big...so...soft... He managed to look over at the doctor and smiled a little. The doctor was a very handsome man, so tall, so dark, so handsome...
"I think you look like someone who needs to be taken care of," Craig replied, sidestepping Stan's question. The boy arched beneath his touch and he had to catch his breath, becoming suspicious that Stan had to know what he was doing on some level; didn't he? And then he looked at him with eyes of admiration, and that was enough to make Craig need to draw back.
"Continue to wash yourself while I watch," Craig instructed, not being able to trust himself if he continued to touch Stan so wantonly. Rather, he turned away and went to gather up the nightgown Stan would be sleeping in; bringing it over. He held it up.
"This suits you far better than what you've been wearing to bed, I'm sure," he said. Sitting down, he leaned forward and waited for Stan to continue finishing his bath. "Well, get on with it," he said, waving his hand. "I have to make sure you're doing it properly...unless you want me to get in there with you?"
Stan looked confused when Craig pulled away. "You were doing such a good job helping me..." He said, almost pouting a little as he felt Craig pull away. He was slowly starting to sober up and he was getting a horrible headache. He winced a little and moved to dunk down in the water, coming up a few moments later dripping wet, his black hair sticking to his forehead. He took a cloth that was handed to him and gently started to scrub his skin, taking in a deep breath as he looked to see the rest of the dirty coming off of him. God, he forgot his skin was so pale...
"That's a girl's night garment..." He said, leaning against the rim of the tub, taking in the sight of the dainty cream colored nightie.
"I can just sleep in my shirt..."
"That dirty thing? Don't be ridiculous," Craig said, clamping his hand around Stan's arm and drawing him to his feet, the water sluicing over rose-scented, seductive flesh. "You'll wear what I give you, unless you'd like to sleep in nothing at all."
Helping Stan out of the tub, Craig swathed him in heated, fluffy towels, scrubbing him down until his skin was raw and pink. Even through the fabric he could feel how frail Stan was, and it certainly wasn't in his best interest to go to bed without some sort of covering. Holding up the nightgown, he gave Stan an impassive look; too tired to argue at this point.
"You'll be sleeping in my bed," he said, fingering the delicate lace on the nightgown's bodice, "at least you will be so long as you can obey and do as your told. In this case, you'll wear the nightgown or," he pointed to the floor, a cushion having already been laid next to the bed, "you can sleep there. And don't even think of moving it so you're in front of the fire. You won't like the outcome if you try to cross me."
Coming over, he stroked Stan's cheek and looked deep into his eyes, his humor swiftly dwindling.
"So, which is it? Make your choice - now."
Stan felt a chill go down his spine when Craig's voice took a dark husky tone to it. He looked at the fire and then at the cushion on the floor. If he didn't do as he was told, he was going to freeze during the night as he tried to dry off. Besides...maybe that nightgown was all Craig had on him, it was probably a one time thing. He bit his lower lip and gently grabbed the nightgown, starting to slip it on over his moist body.
"I-I'm cold..." He said, hoping that would explain why he was accepting to put the nightgown on and sleep in the same bed. The large bed looked so comfortable, so warm. "I-I'm use to sleeping on the ground, I've never slept on a bed before." He admitted, moving to walk over to it, gently sitting down on it, his nightgown sticking to his wet skin.
The firelight was playing over the white swathing Stan now that he'd seen fit to behave, which pleased Craig no small amount. Feeling elated, he began to strip his own garments away until he was left in his tailored slacks. Going to the bureau, he poured water into the bowl and quickly wiped his face and ran a moist comb through his dark hair, taking care to neaten it to its usual fussy perfection.
A strange excitement coursed through him as he made his way over to the bed, stopping momentarily to caress Stan's cheek, but then he moved on. Drawing the comforter back, he readied the bed to be slept in, taking care to make sure their places would be close together, though the bed was large. He didn't want space, not right now.
"Get in," he said, drifting a finger over Stan's nape. "Your place is ready."
Craig lay down and practically sank into the soft comforter, the mattress cradling him like he was back in the womb. Sighing, he crossed his arms behind his head and waited for Stan to wake up and take his place beside him, where he clearly belonged.
"It's chilly tonight, even with the fire," Craig said, patting the space next to him. "We'd be doing each other a favor if we stayed close. I was only trying to be considerate."
Stan felt his breath hitch in his throat when he felt Craig gently caress his cheek, his neck. He had never had such a tender touch bestowed upon him before. He didn't know why, but, it was making him feel things...he had never felt before. He watched as Craig settled into the bed and pulled back the blankets, making the bed look even more enticing than it already was. He wondered if the doctor thought it was strange that he was so excited to sleep in a bed for the first time. He had a feeling a wealthy man like him wouldn't understand.
When he saw the older man pat the spot next to him he decided to just do as he was told. It was cold after all... Maybe this was just what the wealthy did. They were so different than the people he knew and how he grew up.
He settled into the bed and let out a soft coo of comfort when he felt the soft mattress engulf him.
"T-Thank you Doctor Tucker for allowing me to stay with you... I promise I won't be a burden... I'll do whatever I can to help, I'll do whatever chores you ask me to do."
"That's all I ask," Craig sighed, turning his head on the pillow and appraising Stan in the glow of the firelight. He clearly wasn't used to the soft mattress or the warm blankets, and he certainly didn't seem used to sharing his sleeping quarters with someone else...especially someone like himself. He resisted the urge to pull the boy close, opting instead to watch the shadows playing over his skin as his eyes drooped.
"In fact, if you do as you're told, I might even let you use my piano," he continued, his tone becoming wheedling; disarming. "I could even set you up with proper lessons...that is, if you behave, of course."
Settling onto his side, facing Stan, Craig began to lapse into slumber as the day's activities seemed to descend on him at once. Fatigue made his muscles loose even though his appetite for the boy lying next to him made his mind race. He took deep breaths, attempting to calm himself.
"Get some sleep," he murmured, wanting to settle a hand on the boy's naked thigh where it rested under the white nightgown. "We'll need to be up early tomorrow. I had McCormick get a lay of the land and there's a shop nearby where we can get you fitted for a suitable outfit to travel in." He sneered, thinking of Stan's old garments. "Naturally, we'll dispose of the clothes you were wearing before...they aren't even suitable to be buried in."
Stan perked up a little at that. "Really!? Oh...that would be fantastic! Do you have one of those big fancy grand pianos. the type they play for the Queen!?" The brunette said, turning to look at the Doctor. He flashed him a smile of gratitude. "And...I've never had a teacher for anything... I...don't know if someone could even teach me somethin'...maybe I'm too stupid to teach..." He said, starting to relax in the bed and feeling the warm comforter cover his small form.
"I think I will sleep really well in this comfy bed." He said, ignoring the feeling of a hand running up his thigh, pushing the nightie up a little.
"I guess my clothes are dirty... I'll have new clothes to wear?"
"We'll have a whole new wardrobe made for you," Craig said, closing his eyes. He chose to ignore the way Stan disparaged himself. It was no wonder that he didn't hold himself in very high regard; after all, he'd never been given the opportunity to see what he was capable of. Craig smiled as he listened to the crackling flames and Stan's breaths that soon evened out, became deeper...knowing that the next day was just the beginning; raw anticipation sending him off to quiet dreams.