Stealing the Past
"Now I know how you came by the nickname of Bunny, my boy," Raffles declared as he lit a Sullivan and lay back down beside me. It was rare that he smoked in bed, but we'd been there all afternoon, having forgone luncheon, choosing instead to feast upon each other. He chuckled softly, and blew a ring of smoke into the air. "You go at it like a rabbit!"
We were both thoroughly buggered, so much so that I barely had strength left to respond to his barb. "You know you are the only one to have such intimate knowledge of me, Raffles. The name is purely coincidental."
I closed my eyes and smiled to myself, content that in this one thing I did not disappoint him. This physical intimacy between us was still new and the intensity of it burned like a flamed. In time it was to fade to a more subtle ember as I suppose it does for all couples, but for the moment it was like an addiction and we could not get enough of each other's touch. So I was surprised when Raffles gave my leg a nudge and said, "Don't fall to sleep again, for you can not stay tonight."
"What? Why?" I whined.
"We both require a long nights sleep Bunny."
At that announcement I sat up. "You have something planned for tomorrow night, don't you?" It was one of Raffles' rules that one always had a good night's sleep before playing cricket or indulging in our other pastime. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Raffles laughed. "Because, my dear boy, I knew you would never relax until you had badgered me for every detail of what I am planning and, quite frankly Bunny, I have no intention of telling you anything."
"But Raffles," I continued, disappointment strong in my voice, "I am included, am I not?"
Raffles opened his eyes and gazed up at me, studying my face intently. For a moment I thought he was going to refuse, the first such occasion since we had joined forces just over a month ago. Was he thinking of the beating I had taken during our unsuccessful sortie at the Rosenthal residence? Did he fear for me? Whilst this small show of caring warmed my heart and made me blush, I was not about to let it deter me from my place at Raffles side.
"I'll be fine A.J." I whispered. "You don't have to worry about my well-being. I won't get caught again."
I could see him considering my words; his blue eyes alight with that intensity they get at such times.
"Ah Bunny, it's more than that. The crib I am planning is one of subterfuge and daring and involves quite a degree of personal risk. I am not sure you are up to it."
"If you are then I am too." I responded passionately.
"That's the spirit, Bunny. I knew I could count on you."
"So tell me what you are planning."
Raffles took another long drag on his Sullivan and stared at the ceiling. "There is a certain gentleman currently in London, staying in rooms just off St James Square; Sir Archibald Stanthorpe, you may have heard of him?"
I shook my head and murmured, "No."
"Not surprising Bunny for he is trying desperately to keep a low profile. He had to leave England rather hurriedly a few years back and has been living abroad on the Continent. He has only returned to sort out some details of his inheritance and is hoping the authorities will turn a blind eye to his presence."
"What do they want him for? What did he do?"
"That is not relevant Bunny and all I will say on the matter is that no formal charges were ever laid. However the advantage of all of this is that Lord Stanthorpe is in no position to go running to the police if he should catch us."
Raffles words were not reassuring. "Well and good," I responded, "But who's to say he won't have his own watchdogs to work us over." I lay down again, remembering Purvis of the iron fists. Perhaps Raffles was right in his reluctance to include me this time.
Raffles rolled onto his side and smiled at me. "There will be no watchdogs to worry about, Bunny. Lord Stanthorpe values his privacy. I have made sue of it."
And not included me again, I almost whined. Still, perhaps this was just another sign of Raffles caring; that he had done all of the foot work so that he could reassure me before telling me the details. "Well thank you." I said graciously. "And you know I'm your man."
"I knew I could count on you, Bunny. Meet me tomorrow night at six at the Kings Road studio. I have a costume for you to wear."
I smiled. "A costume...how exciting." I swung my legs out of bed and looked back over my shoulder. "I suppose I really should get going then."
Smouldering eyes and a strong hand on my arm prevented my retreat. "Oh I think we have time for one more innings, don't you old chap?"
So far the night was proceeding without a flaw. We had made our way via an indirect route from Chelsea to St James Square dressed in clothes from Raffles disguise box. They had seen better days, but were far from ragged. I supposed one would have taken us for two working class lads as we hung around the gates of St James Park. Surprisingly no one seemed to pay us much mind. It was fully dark when finally we made our way across the square and down a back lane. I followed Raffles through a gate in the wall and up the back stairs to the second floor of a large house which appeared to be in darkness. Although I had not noticed anyone leave while we loitered by the park, Raffles had obviously ascertained that Lord Stanthorpe would be out for the evening and had only awaited the cover of darkness for us to make our entrance.
We paused in the shadows on the landing while Raffles inspected the lock. To my surprise the door opened easily under his hand. It had not been locked. I raised my eyebrows in question. Raffles simply smiled, put his finger to his lips and held the door open. Inside was darkness. Raffles led the way down a narrow hall then turned left into another, pausing at the second door. Ear to door, he listened for a moment, before entering. It was a lavish bedroom, curtains drawn back so that it was bathed in moonlight. I wondered how Raffles had known the way.
Slowly and softly, Raffles padded around the room, looking but not touching. I was bursting with questions but knew better than to speak. It was at this point that it struck me; Raffles had not said exactly what it was we were after. Our previous exploits had landed us jewellery, but Raffles had also deigned to tell me the tale of his first robbery in the Colonies, where the prize had been a more common currency. Perhaps that was our objective this time.
Curiosity got the better of me and I had just opened my mouth when Raffles suddenly paused, head cocked towards the door, so that I too turned to see the flicker of approaching candle light. In panic I rushed to the window, but Raffles stayed my arm with his hand and shook his head.
"Trust me, Bunny," was all he had time to whisper before the door opened revealing a startled face.
"Reggie?" our Discover asked, looking at Raffles, a grin slowly replacing his initial shock.
"As always, Archie." Raffles replied, slipping into his cockney accent
Reggie? I chanced a glance at Raffles, wondering if it was a alias or nick name of sorts. He ignored me.
"I can not say that I am not pleased to find you here in my bedroom, Reggie, but it has been over ten years and you are the last person I expected to see here tonight." The man, whom it would appear was indeed Lord Archibald Stanthorpe, hesitated in the doorway, effectively blocking our retreat. He was just this side of middle aged with the figure of an athlete who had seen better days. His hair picked up the light from his candle, casting it in shades of gold and silver.
"I met yer entertainment on the way up." Raffles began, "He scampered off when he saw me. Sorry." It was then that Raffles finally turned to me, acknowledging my presence. "I've brought a chum with me, though. Was hoping we might….reminisce over old times."
Stanthorpe glanced at me again, as he had been since he first entered the room. I waited for Raffles to make the introductions.
"This 'ere is Bunny; called that 'cause he fucks like a bloody little rabbit!"
For a moment I thought I was dreaming, but the leer that suddenly transfused Stanthorpe's face told me I had not misheard.
I turned to Raffles, too shocked to reply. He winked at me, then turned back to Stanthorpe. "E don't say much, Bunny don't, but that shouldn’t bother you. Yer were never one to indulge in small talk. He could do with a stiff drink first, though, if yer don't mind."
I swallowed, suddenly feeling very much like my name sake. And Stanthorpe was the fox ready to devour me. Even now he was practically drooling. Was this all a part of Raffles' plan?
"Well it would seem the evening is not to be a complete waste after all." Stanthorpe said, standing aside and gesturing us into the hall way. "And a drink is the least I can offer." He paused at the top of a flight of stairs and turned to Raffles. The candle light cast huge shadows around us. "Or is there a further price to pay, dear Reggie?"
Raffles shook his head. "Like I said, for old times sake. I would have come alone, but I knew you'd like Bunny here. I know yer type. Call him a little gift, if you like."
You may well be wondering what I was thinking while all of this was going on around me. Confusion and shock were foremost in my mind, but underneath, running like a calming sedative, was the suspicion that Raffles knew exactly what he was doing. He had asked me to trust him and trust him I would. Still, it was a lot to expect of me, to risk losing what was left of my virtue to this man Stanthorpe. I was not at all sure that, should it come to the inevitable, I would be able to go through with the act.
But surely Raffles wouldn't expect that of me. Would he?
As we entered the drawing room, Stanthorpe lit a gas light. By this time I was fairly certain that we were alone in the house. No servants had been called or come running to see to their masters needs. If my assumptions were correct, witnesses were the last thing Stanthorpe would have wanted for his planned intercourse this evening. He motioned Raffles and myself to the settee and retreated to the sideboard to pour us drinks.
Raffles gripped my hand and leaned in close. For a moment I thought he was going to kiss my ear, but instead he whispered. "Play along Bunny. I won't let anything happen to you." He highlighted his words, but biting my neck just above my collar. My hiss of surprise caused Stanthorpe to turn around. Raffles broke away.
"Just warming him up for you, Archie."
I blinked at Raffles, then at Stanthorpe, not daring to open my mouth. Perhaps it was the better option. I doubted I could pull off the cockney accent that Raffles had perfected. If I did speak I might give the game away.
Stanthorpe frowned and handed us our glasses. "He looks rather like a frightened rabbit at the moment," he said. "Does speak at all?"
"Course he does, say something Bunny."
I looked at Raffles in stark fear then back at Stanthorpe. I swallowed. "A p-p-pleasure to me-ee-et you, your Lordship," I stuttered, unable to hide my cultured tones.
Stanthorpe's eyes lit up. "Where ever did you find him, Reggie?" he asked sitting down on my other side.
Raffles sipped his whiskey. "Oh, around, if yer take my meaning." He smiled slowly. "See, told yer, yer'd like him. He's everything you appreciate. Blonde, upper-class; old enough to know what he's getting in to but still young enough to lack experience." Raffles sat up and leaned across me, one hand going to rest on Stanthorpe's leg as he said in a conspiratorial whisper, "Take me word for it, he's practically a virgin."
My face flamed, which probably leant credence to Raffles' claim.
Raffles continued to lean across me, now pulling Stanthorpe even closer, his hand running down Stanthorpe's arm to rest on the hand holding the glass. "Why don't yer take him upstairs now and try him out," was the sultry invitation. "Then afterwards I could make up a third hand?"
Even Stanthorpe gasped at that suggestion. "My, you have developed into quite a player, Reggie."
"I had a good teacher," Raffles replied.
Stanthorpe rose. "Come along then, Bunny. I fancy a spot of rabbit shooting." He tugged me to my feet, my glass slopping everywhere.
"Drink up before you go." Raffles advised. Stanthorpe tossed his whiskey back in one long gulp. I turned fearful eyes to Raffles, my erstwhile benefactor, who, to all appearances, had sold me body and soul to a satyr. I was expecting mirth, for this whole sorry situation probably appealed to Raffles' sense of humour. What I found in Raffles eyes was cold calculation. He gave me a brief nod, before raising his glass to his lips in salute.
My mind was awhirl as Stanthorpe led me up the darkened staircase, with only a candle to light our way. Was I to keep this man entertained while Raffles performed his burglary? If so, then I had better think of something quick or I would face, as they call it, a fate worse than death. Could I stall Stanthorpe long enough for Raffles to gather his loot and put an end to our pantomime. Was that even part of the plan? Perhaps Raffles fully intended to remain true to his word to join us later. If so, then I had seriously misjudged my friend. That he would be party to such games was, frankly, quite shocking.
Once more I stood in Stanthorpe's bedroom, trembling and just as uncertain as the first time. He closed the curtains and blew out the candle plunging the room into darkness. "Let me help you with your coat," he whispered, coming to stand behind me, hands on my shoulders. I let him ease it down my arms, fighting to stay calm.
As my hands came free, my wrists were grabbed and pulled to the front only to be encircled by something cold and metallic. I gasped. "What are you doing?" The bastard had handcuffed me!
"Games Bunny. Just games. No one will get hurt." Stanthorpe spun me around again and slipped a blindfold over my eyes. He was surprisingly strong and quick. Deft fingers commenced on my shirt buttons.
"I don't like this game." I stammered. My captor laughed at my discomfort. He pushed my shirt off my shoulders and down my arms where it bunched above my bound hands. In no time at all he had undone my braces and trousers and pushed them down to my knees. I was effectively his prisoner, blinded and bound by clothes and metal so that I could barely move. He pushed me towards his bed, where I sprawled heavily, unable to break my fall.
Nothing is worth this I decided then and there and commenced to fight. Stanthorpe leaned over me, hot breath in my face, hands slipping down my chest and burying themselves in my undergarments.
"No!" I shouted. In response he rolled me over, trapping my hands beneath me. With cold fingers he slipped down my drawers and proceeded to spank me
"OWWWW!" I wailed, my arse stinging as it had not since my school days. "Stop that!" Alas my cries were in vain. Stanthorpe finished only to straddle me and lay down against my back. I bucked, I wriggled, I squirmed and even tried kicking at him but he had me fast. Surrender was nigh.
And then the unthinkable happened. Despite my embarrassment at being spanked, and my horror at the imminent plundering of my body, I found myself becoming aroused. My feelings of helplessness only added to a morbid excitement that slowly seduced me. I felt myself grow hard and it was only my own shock at my responses that caused me to continue my hopeless defence of my virtue.
As valiantly I fought on, I gradually became alerted to the fact that Stanthorpe had stopped moving. Indeed for some minutes now he lay as a dead weight atop me. Nor was it the petite mort, unless he was singularly quiet and dry in his release. Had I somehow killed him with my vigorous wiggling?
"Help?" I called softly, hoping that Raffles might be near by.
The door opened far too quickly for Raffles to have been anywhere but waiting outside.
"Good show Bunny. Knew I could count on you." He rolled Stanthorpe off me and pulled down the blindfold just as my tormentor began to snore.
"What happened?" I asked, still not sure of how Stanthorpe had come to be comatose.
"I doctored his whiskey when we were down stairs." Raffles explained as he pulled my clothes to rights. "Some of that Somnol that I had on hand from when we did the Rosenthall place. Works wonders, don't you think?"
"And you didn't think to tell me?" I shouted. Raffles promptly smothered my protest with a hand across my mouth until I settled.
"There was no time to tell you, Bunny. But it worked well. You were never in any real danger."
"That’s fine for you to say. He handcuffed me!"
"Yes." Raffles replied as he studied the offending manacles. "And we'll have to wait until we return home to get them off, I'm afraid. I don't have my pick lock with me."
"You always have your pick lock with you." I declared.
Raffles smiled. "Not tonight. I knew I wouldn't need it."
"Because you knew him." The words were an accusation.
"Exactly," was the curt reply and with that he set to confiscating anything of value from Stanthorpe's rooms while its owner snored.
When it came time to leave, Raffles picked up my coat from the floor and draped it over my bound hands. Hopefully I would look like a lad talking a stroll, who had become a little heated and removed his coat. I doubted I would fool anyone.
We left Stanthorpe sleeping and made our getaway, walking some distance from St James before hailing a hansom. Raffles gave directions and we tumbled into the darkened interior to sit in loaded silence.
"There is something I must ask," I ventured when it became obvious Raffles was not going to offer any explanations. "What happened to Stanthorpe's real…guest for the evening?"
"I paid him off earlier today. Told him he was no longer required. And before you ask, yes, I have been watching Stanthorpe's movements from some days and knew he had arranged a rent boy for the evening."
Rent boy, the term gave me pause. I looked down at my cuffed hands, anywhere but at Raffles. There was too much here that I did not understand and I wondered if Raffles would even tell me. Over ten years, Stanthorpe had said; Raffles and I would still have been at school back then. I thought of all those times I had held the ladder while Raffles slipped away in the night and not for the first time wondered what had been his destination.
I looked up; only Raffles profile was visible in the darkened interior of the hansom. "If Stanthorpe was really an old friend of yours, and he seemed to consider himself such," I began slowly, "How could you bring yourself to rob him so mercilessly?"
For a time I thought Raffles would not answer, but when he did, his voice seemed far away. "He stole something from me once, Bunny. It seemed only right that I should pay him back." He looked at me then, his blues eyes sharp and cold in the darkness. I nodded in acknowledgement, although I knew not what he expected of me. Raffles smiled and reached out to take my hands.
"You know Bunny, the sight of you in those handcuffs does the most shocking things to me." Before I could reply h pulled me close and kissed me hard, his tongue invading my mouth like a vanquishing army.
"A.J!" I protested when I could once again speak. "Have you lost your mind?" Already his hands were unbuttoning my trousers.
"Not in the least, in fact I have been entertaining visions of you in just this position since I rescued you from the Rosenthal place." To illustrate his point, he slid my trousers down and turned me so that I was kneeling and leaning face down across the seat, the sharp smell of leather, pungent in my nose. "Of course you were in no condition for me to take advantage of the situation then. Purvis had done you over rather well." He paused to slide his fingers into my mouth, so I could coat them with saliva. "But I have been dreaming about it every night since. You can imagine my surprise to find that Stanthorpe had unwittingly staged this fantasy for me again. Go on, Bunny, be a sport and do this for me?"
Inveigling words and Raffles' slick fingers insinuating their way into my fundament, only unlined that it was useless for me to protest. Raffles always got what the wanted.
"Oh all right then," I sighed in resignation, looking over my shoulders in time to catch Raffles' smug grin. "But do you mind if I put that blindfold on again? I really did find that quite…exciting."
Raffles stared at me, eyebrows raised, eyes full of disbelief before hastily whipping the black strip of cloth from his pocket and binding it about me head with trembling fingers. And as he drove his prick into my arse with frenzied abandon, I had the satisfaction of knowing that for once I had managed to have the last word!
1st April, 2004