AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman
PAIRING: A. J. Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders
SUB-GENRE: First Time. Alternative Reality (See Author's Note)
SUMMARY: Set after Mr. Justice Raffles. Raffles is depressed; Bunny is angry.
WORD COUNT: PG-13
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is almost certainly AR as I have not finished reading Mr. Justice Raffles. Despite reading the Raffles books for the first time quite some time ago, I never came across this book until recently. When I started reading it this story just arose from what I'd read. I'm sure I'm doing Teddy an injustice, but the story demanded to be written - who was I to argue? *g* And jealous Bunny is always fun to write.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
In all the years I have known my Raffles both at school and later as adults, I have never seen him so dejected and quiet. We had dined out at the club, at my insistence. Or rather I had dined; Raffles had merely pushed his food around his plate and drank more than I have ever seen him drink before. A large sherry before dinner, two bottles of wine with it and large cognacs to finish with and yet Raffles didn't seem to be affected.
To begin with I had kept up a steady stream of conversation; it was only when I realised from the odd single word reply, it was more of a monologue than a dialogue. Thus finally I fell silent and simple ate my dinner and kept a careful eye on Raffles.
We paused in the hall of the club to light Sullivans and collect our hats and overcoats before setting out into the evening air. Raffles took my arm the instant we were outside; his grip seemed a little tighter than usual, and he did not take his arm from mine until we were outside his rooms at the Albany.
Once inside he handed me his hat, overcoat and gloves to hang up and went into the sitting room. When I joined him it was to see him empty a glass of whisky, before pouring two more. He handed one to me and drained half of his before sitting down in the chair opposite mine. Moments later he handed me his empty glass and met my gaze with his own steady blue one. Never have I seen his eyes look so dull, so lifeless.
I paused for merely a second before I stood up and replenished both our glasses. I fancy I must have shown something on my face as he once more drained half of his glass before I had even returned to my seat, because he set his glass down upon the table, took the Sullivan I offered him from my cigarette case and allowed me to light it for him.
Still he had not spoken a word since we had left the club. I was angry; I was deeply angry and I wanted someone on whom I could take my anger out. When I had first met Teddy Garland I had thought my dislike of him had merely been jealousy; there was someone else in Raffles's life, someone else he cared about, cared about seemingly so much he hadn't been troubled by the fact the young ruffian had been about to forge one of Raffles's own cheques. That alone had made me angrier than I let Raffles see. However, during the case I became aware it was not just jealousy or anger over the cheque that disquieted me; there was something else about Teddy Garland that I did not care for; that did not ring true.
Never in my life had I been more unhappy to have been proven correct. How dare the scoundrel take advantage of Raffles? How dare he lie to, cheat and abuse the friendship of the finest man I have ever known?
Through half-closed eyes I watched as Raffles smoked his Sullivan, watched the smoke circle upwards from his mouth, before half-smoked he threw it into the fire, reached for his glass and again drained it.
I was ready to stand up and refill it for him, even though I dearly wished he would drink no more, when he shook his head once and gestured for me to sit back down. He looked at me unblinkingly for several moments before he spoke. "I should have listened to you, Bunny," he said.
"But I said nothing."
He shrugged. "And that alone said so much. I should have paid more attention to what you weren’t saying. However, I believed you were merely jealous of my affection for Teddy. Jealous that there was someone else taking up my time, time that you wanted me to spend with you. Jealous that there was someone else I said I loved. Jealous that I was prepared to help the young fool at any and all costs. Jealous that he has been in my bed, where you have often wished to be."
Now it was my turn to swallow my drink and to stand up and refill my glass. "Raffles, I -"
"But it was more than that, was it not, my dear rabbit? You saw something I -" He stopped speaking and instead held out his glass to me; after a second's pause I refilled it and handed it to him. He nodded his thanks and swallowed some of the fine whisky before once again staring deeply into my eyes. "You saw something, Bunny, which I refused to see. That I would not, could not, allow myself to acknowledge."
I dampened my lips and sought for something to say. "I confess, Raffles, I was indeed jealous of Teddy; of your affection for him, of how he took up your time, of quite how far you were prepared to go to help him. But you are correct; it was more than just jealousy. I saw something in him that troubled me and it was not just the about to be forged cheque."
He was silent as he continued to watch me. "And the fact he'd been in my bed, where you wish to be?" His tone told me nothing, nor did his look. For the first time since meeting Raffles I felt completely ill at ease and at sea.
I stared back at him. As tempted as I was to attempt to turn the conversation back to Teddy and what he had done, I knew my Raffles well enough to know he wouldn't let me. Thus it was with a heavy heart, as I knew what the result of my speaking out would be, that I drained my glass and answered him. "Yes, Raffles. I was indeed jealous of him being in your bed. You are quite correct; I have always wished to be there myself." I stood up.
His eyes widened and he looked somewhat surprised. "Always?"
I ignored him and went on. "However, Raffles, as much as I wished to be in your bed, I have been perfectly content with what I have. I have been happy to spend time with you, to walk arm-in-arm with you, to assist you as I did at school, to dine with you, to share long hours here in your rooms with you, to watch you play cricket, to burgle with you, to be by your side. And I would have gone on being content. Now, I shall bid you both goodnight and farewell." I headed, at some speed, to the door of his sitting room.
It has to be remembered that Raffles had imbibed far more wine and whisky than I had ever known him to do, as well as eating far less and he had remained seated throughout my speech. Thus I was more than a little surprised to find him already in front of the door, preventing my exit, when I reached it. He was standing leaning slightly against it, his arms folded carefully watching me.
"Please, Raffles, let me pass."
"Why should I?"
"Because after what I have just confessed, I am certain you have no wish for me to be in your rooms. Please let me return home and I give you my word I shall never trouble you again." He continued to stare at me in silence. "Raffles, what I have said cannot be taken back and it will irrevocably affect our friendship."
"Because I have no desire to face the day you will not take the arm I offer you, or stiffen when I take yours or hesitate before you put your hand on my shoulder or your arm around me or refuse my invitation to meet me at the Turkish baths or plead fatigue after we have dined so as not to invite me back to your rooms. I would rather not see you again than face any of those things."
Still he did not speak for some time. I gave fleeting consideration to trying to push him out of the way, but Raffles has always been stronger than I, thus I knew it would be a fruitless attempt. Finally he spoke, still his tone, as his look, gave nothing away. "Could you still be content with how things had been?" he asked.
I nodded. "Yes, but unless you are suddenly going to develop amnesia and forgot the last quarter of an hour, there is no way that can happen." I took a deep breath. This had to end and the sooner it did, the better, because I did not know how much longer I could stand so close to him and not act in a way I had always wished to.
As such I threw caution to the wind and delivered the speech I knew would disgust him so much he would not merely step aside to allow me to pass, he would forcibly eject me from his rooms before telling the porter never to admit me again. "Raffles, I love you and not just in the way you have always believed I love you, I love you in the way society and the law decrees a man should not love another man. I do not just wish to be in your bed, I wish to share it with you. I want you to kiss me, I want you to touch me, I want you to -"
I was forcibly silenced by Raffles's mouth on mine. One of his arms were around my back, the other was entwined in my hair. I could taste whisky and Sullivans and his scent which I had known for so long. The kiss was intoxicating, demanding, questioning and everything I had ever allowed myself to dream of and more. I kissed him back, parting my lips to allow his tongue to enter my mouth, willing the moment never to end, certain I was dreaming.
I was close to passing out but it was still far too soon when he took his mouth from mine and slid his hand from my hair, placing it on my shoulder instead. "Always?" he asked his tone soft. I nodded. His eyes widened and a faint smile touched his swollen lips. "Why, Bunny my own rabbit, you surprise me. I always though you were so young, so naïve, so innocent."
I moistened my lips. "Well, Raffles, I am no longer so young, I believe, no matter what you say at times, that I am no longer naïve - at least not as much as I used to be. However, I am still innocent." From the smile that spread from his lips to his eyes, I believe my confession pleased him for his kissed me deeply again.
"I have always believed that what was happened in the past is where it should stay and not be spoken of. But allow me to tell you one thing, I may be more than a little shall we say out of practise, but my dear Bunny, I am no innocent."
I swallowed hard. I hadn't expected anything less, in fact when I had first contracted him long after our school days I had been amazed to learn he was still unmarried, unaffiancéd and indeed seemed to have no regular female companions. "In that case, my dear Raffles, I am in your hands."
He smiled. "As I have always wished you to be."
It was my turn to be surprised. "Always?" I noticed my voice was a little high.
He had the good grace to colour slightly. "Well maybe not quite 'always', I like to think I was not quite that much of a scoundrel or indeed quite that reprehensible that I would desire to bed a thirteen year old boy."
"Especially one who was so young, so naive and so innocent," I declared. He laughed and I laughed with him. "Well?" I said, suddenly feeling bold. "Are you going to take me to your bed?"
Again he looked more than a little surprised at my boldness. He took his hands from my shoulders and cupped my face between them and kissed me again. When he took his mouth from mine he nodded. "Pour yourself another drink and give me a moment." He turned on his heel, then turned back. "Bunny?"
"Do you give me your word you will still be here when I return?"
I nodded. "Where else would I be?"
He frowned slightly and stared at me. "I know what you are like when you have time to think." He pulled a key from his pocket, moved me gently to one side and locked the sitting room door before turning on his heel again and striding towards the bedroom.
I poured myself a drink and drank it down in two swallows as I waited the minute or two it took him to return to me. When he came back, he had taken his dining jacket, waistcoat and cuff links off, turned his cuffs back and his bowtie hung untied around his neck. He took the empty glass from me, took my hand and led me into his bedroom.
I paused in the doorway as I looked at the turned back bed; an image I didn't want to see came to my mind. As he has done so often over the years, my beloved Raffles seemed to read my mind. "They are fresh sheets," he said, putting an arm around my shoulders. I turned my head to look at him. He frowned, "Bunny, you do know he was only ever alone in my bed, do you not?"
I did, of course I did. I'd stayed up talking with him the night Teddy had spent sleeping there. I'd stayed with him until we had left together in the morning. I nodded. "Yes, Raffles."
He smiled and turned around to face me. "Ah, my rabbit, my very own Bunny."
"Always." I said.
He kissed me again as his hands went to my throat and he untied the bowtie he, as he always did, had retied for me several hours ago. I shivered slightly as his fingers brushed against my neck, even though the touch was not unknown to me, was not new to me. He smiled, his gentle smile, all hints of dejection seemed to have gone as he firstly removed my dining jacket, then my waistcoat and then began to unbutton my shirt, taking care to take the studs out, he paused more than once to kiss me before he pushed my braces over my shoulders to hang down my body.
As steady, sure fingers, fingers I had watched pick locks, tease safes open, pluck jewels from their cases, make cricket balls bend to his will, reached the waistband of my trousers, he paused and once more kissed me. As I felt the same steady, sure fingers began to unbutton my trousers I feared that if he kept pausing to kiss me every time he removed an item of my clothing it would be some time before I got my wish.
However, that was to be the last kiss he bestowed on me until he had stripped me completely, stripped himself, guided me into his bed and taken me into his arms. A second before his mouth found mine again he murmured, "So innocent."
Hours later, still in his arms, my body still tingling from what his lips and hands had done to it, still slightly surprised with my own abilities, even if Raffles had guided me (as he always had done) though the process, I smiled just before his mouth once again came to rest on mine. My innocence had been lost.