AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman
PAIRING: A. J. Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: There are some things in life which are inevitable.
WORD COUNT: 5,510
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
There are some things in life which are inevitable. The sun rising and setting; death; the seasons changing and the fact that the relationship I have with Raffles would become more than just that of close and intimate friends.
I believe it was inevitable it would develop beyond friendship if not quite from the moment we met, then certainly from our school days. Not that anything happened at school; it did not. Despite the fact that Raffles barely kept his hands off of me, despite most of the school believing the duties I performed for him were not just oiling his bats, cleaning his shoes and dusting his pictures, Raffles never once allowed himself to cross the line that would take us beyond friendship.
Maybe had he not been quite so protective of me or if I had been not quite so young or a little braver, something might have happened; but he was so protective of me and I was very young, even for my age and, despite what he told me on more than one occasion, I was not particularly brave. I really was the rabbit he called me, the name he bestowed on me, and hated anyone else using, fitted me very well indeed. Thus, when we parted we were nothing more than school boy friends. Although, he did kiss me on his final day, if you can call it a kiss; his lips brushed over mine for a mere second or two, no more, before he simply pulled me back into his arms and held me in a close embrace.
As I stood on the platform of the station and waved goodbye to him, I, although terribly upset that I would not see him when I returned for the new school term in September, never for a moment believed we would not see one another again. I knew we would; I didn't know when or how; but I was quite certain we would meet again. And when we met again, I knew we would become more than friends; again I didn't know when or how, I just knew we would. To me both things were as inevitable as the sun rising.
Once I had left school and he university, I followed his cricketing exploits not just by the newspapers but also by attending the occasional match. I never tried to speak to him or see him, it did not seem right to do so as he was always in the company of other players. Even though I had no doubt whatsoever that we would become reacquainted one day there were times when I wondered if he would remember me, if he would recognise me. I do not believe I had changed fundamentally since the day he said goodbye to me, I was of course several years older and had changed in the normal way a man changes when he leaves boyhood behind, but I did not think I was that different. Nonetheless, I did not wish to approach him when he was with other people as I did not want to put him in the position of failing to recognise me and having to admit to such a thing in front of others.
Thus, I bided my time and decided it would be far better for the meeting to take place in London. I knew where he lived, the newspapers told me that, but again I did not feel I could just arrive at the Albany uninvited and ask to see him.
It wasn't until I had lost all the family money I had been left following the death of my parents and barely knew from where my next meal would come, let alone how I was going to pay the following month's rent that I plucked up the courage to write to him and ask if I might visit him. At school he had always helped me, had always looked out for me, looked after me, protected me and whilst I did not remind him of this, indeed I did not mention my problem in the letter, I did feel, I did allow myself to believe, the man he was today would be the same as the boy he had been when we had been at school together.
When he opened his door in response to my knocking and our eyes met and we locked gazes, I knew at once my belief that it was inevitable that our relationship would develop in the way I had always wished it to, had been accurate.
I watched him swallow hard as he finally dragged his gaze away from mine and instead looked me up and down from head to foot and back again. "My dear Bunny," he murmured, taking my hand and pulling me inside his rooms. "So we meet again; I always hoped we would." His voice was low; his smile the one he had always offered me at school and his gaze was once again firmly locked on me and he still held my hand in his. In those few seconds the ten years we had spent apart fell away and I was taken back to our school days as I realised I was still as much in awe of him as I had always been.
"Hello, Raffles," I managed, realising I hadn't replied to him. "It is good to see you again. Thank you for allowing me to visit you. I -" But before I could speak further, not that I was entirely certain what I would say, I was too lost in his steady gaze, too enthralled by the way his warm hand still held mine, a voice from another room called out.
"A. J., are you ever coming back?"
He started slightly and let go of my hand as he shook his head, seemingly to clear it. Was it possible he had been as lost in me as I was in him? Surely not, and yet still he stared at me, his blue eyes glowing in the lamp-light. "I have other visitors," he said softly. "I was not - Come in, have a drink. They won't stay long." Before I could reply, he'd taken my hat from my head, hung it up and had moved behind me to divest me of my overcoat. I wasn't certain, but I believe I felt his hand shake infinitesimally as he touched me. With both hat and coat now hanging in his hall, I could not refuse him - but I never had been able to; from the day we had met I had been his to do with as he wished.
Now he put his arm around my shoulders, once again I was taken back to our school days, and led me into what was clearly his sitting room where two men whom I did not know but whom I guessed to be of a similar age to Raffles sat smoking. Raffles introduced me as an old friend from his school days, pressed a glass of whisky and a Sullivan on me and tried his best to stop me from agreeing to play cards with his other visitors. For the first time ever in our acquaintance I did not listen to his advice, even though he tried more than once to stop me.
As I wrote cheques for him and the other men, I could barely stop my hand from shaking. I looked into his kindly gaze and felt his hand rest on my shoulder as he took the cheque I offered him; he didn't even look at it, he merely dropped it down on to his desk as if it was of no importance. I knew I couldn't stay, not then and thus despite him urging me, after he'd said goodnight to his other guests, to stay, I had left only to return later and throw myself on his mercy.
We stood once again in his rooms and I was still finding it hard to believe that he, the great A. J. Raffles was a thief, a burglar, a cracksman, a man who - No, had I not seen it with my own eyes; had I not assisted him, I would not have believed it possible. And yet at the same time a very small part of me did not have any difficulties believing it. He had never lacked courage and daring; he had always enjoyed taking risks - look at the number of times he had, with my help, got out of school, not stopping even after we had very nearly been caught. So was it so impossible to believe that he would turn to crime in order to enjoy the life style he wished to have rather than work to achieve it?
I had turned away from him, his hand was on my back, he was telling me he was ungrateful and shouldn't have asked me to assist him again and all I could think about was how desperately I desired him, of how his hand on my back was not enough. I knew that now I had seen him again, that now I had felt his hands on me, that now I had seem him look at me as he had done, that now I had once again been smiled at in the way he knew how to smile, that I had to remain in his orbit and if that meant joining felonious forces with him, then that is what I would do.
I turned back. "When you want me, I'm your man!" I declared, staring at him.
He stared back at me for a moment before he once again let his gaze travel up and down my body and he moistened his lips. I swallowed hard as I stared back at him and I tried to control my breathing, tried to slow my pulse which had begun to race, tried to force my body not to react to his nearness, to the look he was giving me, to his scent.
Then he spoke, "How about now?" he asked, his voice low, seductive. "Will you be my man now, Bunny?" And before I could reply, I was in his arms, his mouth was on mine and a certain part of my body was harder than I could ever remember it being. My experience with kisses was minimal at best, but as his lips parted mine and his tongue ventured into my mouth and I pressed myself against him, even I knew I was being kissed by, I was in the arms of, something with considerable experience.
One of his hands was tangled in my hair, long fingers caressing my scalp, the other held me firmly, securely, possessively his arm around my back, his hand flat against me as I sought to press myself even nearer to him, feeling my hardness echoed in his body. I was desperate; I was aching with a deep set need as I pushed nearer and nearer; I had to have his hand on me, I didn't just want his touch, I needed it in a way I do not remember ever needing anything.
"There's no hurry Bunny," he said softly, breaking the kiss and gazing down at me. But there was; I'd spent far too many years dreaming of him kissing and touching me, imaging him making love to me, wanting him, desiring him, daring even to go so far as to think of him on the occasions I - But I pushed that thought from my mind, too ashamed to admit it even to myself.
How could I tell him any of it? How could I let him know how desperately, how urgently I needed his hand on me, how only he could quell the fire he had started, how only he could take away the dreadful ache? How could I? I didn't have the courage or the words. All I could do was to murmur, "Please, Raffles," as I stood trembling now in his embrace as he stared at me.
Whether he saw my need in my face, in my eyes, whether he felt it in the way I trembled and tried to get nearer to him, whether he heard it in my voice, I knew not, but as he brushed my hair back from my forehead and once again put his mouth on mine, his other hand moved down my body and seconds later I felt long, steady fingers, fingers I had watched caress cricket balls on any number of occasions, begin to unbutton my trousers, before slipping inside my drawers and their wonderful coolness closed around my heated flesh. It was all I needed; even before he had begun to move his hand I was crying out his name as my body released into his hand and I slumped forward against him.
Quite how he kept us both on our feet, especially as his hand was trapped inside my clothing, I do not know. However, somehow he managed not only to extract his hand, but to steady me and hold me upright as I trembled not just from my speedy release, but also from my now embarrassment at the haste, and from how much I still desired him, still wanted him and my sudden fear that this would be all I would be allowed to have of him. I loved him, I had loved him from the day we had met; sometimes when I had drunk too much whisky and my mind was hazy, I believe I had loved him even before we had met. And now I'd been given what I had always wanted, I knew I couldn't lose it, I couldn’t have it taken away from me. "Raffles," I whispered, aware I was clinging frantically to him. "I -"
"Hush, my darling rabbit," he said, lightly kissing my lips and then smiling at me with his lazy, loving smile.
But I couldn't stay silent. "I love you, Raffles," I declared. "I've loved you since the moment I met you and I'll always love you. I never stopped loving you. I . . ."
Again he brushed my hair back from my forehead, as he'd done so many times at school, as he continued to smile at me. "I know, Bunny," he murmured, once more lightly kissing my lips. "I've always known. And I, my dearest, sweetest, most beloved Bunny, love you; I always have," he added softly.
I stared at him in amazement. "Raffles?"
He laughed softly at my surprise. "Ah, the times I nearly - But I told myself you were too young, too innocent, that I could not do that to you. That it would be terribly wrong of me to kiss you, to touch you, to possess you even more than I did, especially when I would be leaving the school long before you did. But, Bunny, it was very difficult, so very difficult to stop myself. But now I don't have to, do I?" I started slightly at his tone; he was uncertain, even after what I'd said, he was uncertain that I would want him. Uncertainly was something I had never heard in his voice before, something I had never thought I would hear, from him.
"No, Raffles, no you don't. I told you, I'm your man."
"Are you, Bunny? Are you really my man?"
"Yes. Yes, Raffles. When you want me, I'm your man. Now and always."
He smiled and pulled me back into his embrace and once again his mouth plundered mine. Even though it had been scant minutes since my body had found the release it had craved, I felt it begin to once again respond to his closeness, to his kiss, to his touch, to his hardness. Again I pushed against him, again I wanted, I needed, his touch as I kissed him back, hoping my lack of experience, my naivety did not trouble him.
My head was beginning to spin from the lack of oxygen and I could see lights behind my eyes when he finally broke the kiss. I gulped in some air as I stared at him, his face was flushed, his lips swollen, his hair messed in a way I'd never seen it, at some point my hands must have found their way into his ink-black curls, his bowtie was somewhat crooked and his pupils were so large I could barely see the sapphire blue of his irises.
As desperate as I was for him to touch me again, I wanted to touch him and so without even trying to hide the fact it was shaking and shaking badly, I let my hand slip down his body. To my surprise he caught my hand and held it. "Raffles?" I asked, wondering what I had done wrong, wondering if my lack of experience was troubling him.
He pulled my hand to his mouth and kissed the palm. "I just thought we have spent long enough behaving like fumbling school boys. I assure you my bed is very comfortable and a far better place in which to . . ." he trailed off and gazed down at me. I felt my cheeks flush under his knowing gaze and my throat became dry even as I felt my body continue to react to his look and tone. "Shall we?" he asked softly, slowly running the tip of his tongue over his lips as he linked his fingers with mine and turning around.
"Raffles!" I said quickly, knowing I had to speak. I had to tell him, it was only right.
He turned towards me and raised an eyebrow. "Yes, my dear Bunny?" His look was the same as it had always been, fond, indulgent, caring, loving and possessive.
I swallowed. "Well, the thing is . . . I haven't . . . That is . . . Well, I'm not like you . . . Not that I think you're . . . Because I don't . . . It's just that . . . Well, I've never . . . It's only ever been you." I finally managed to stammer out a full sentence as he continued to gaze down at me in silence; a hint of bemusement had now appeared on his face. As he didn't speak, I felt I had to continue. "I don’t know if that will be a problem for you . . . If you don't like . . . Well, if you're used to . . . If you prefer someone who . . . If you do then I'll . . . I just thought I should tell you." Once again I finally managed a full sentence, even though I was well aware despite my final words I had actually told him nothing.
"Have you quite finished?" he asked politely.
Had I? Could you finish something you had barely started? After thinking for a second or two, I nodded. "Yes," I said. "At least -"
His mouth on mine silenced me. When he broke the kiss and looked down at me he was smiling. "I know, Bunny," he said quietly, taking my face between both of his hands and brushing his lips over mine in the exact way he'd done on this final day at school. "I know," he repeated.
"You do?" He nodded and I suddenly felt chilled. Was it that obvious? "Was I . . . Was it . . ." I fell silent once again.
"Bunny, Bunny, Bunny, my dearest, sweetest rabbit, I love you; that is what matters. Now, is there anything else you'd like to not tell me or are you going to allow me to finally take you to my bed?"
I gazed up at him; I hadn't thought it was possible to love him any more than I did, possible to feel any deeper adoration than I'd felt since I first met him, possible to admire him any more - but I did. "Yes," I said and a small frown creased his forehead. "I mean no," I amended. "I mean - Oh, Raffles, just take me to your bed!" I cried.
He laughed. "I thought you'd never ask," he said, pulling on my hand and guiding me into his bedroom where I noticed the bed was already turned back and the lamps were burning. To my surprise a hint of colour touched his cheeks as he saw me glance from the bed to the lamps and back to the bed. "I confess, Bunny, before we went out to Danby's place I allowed myself to dare to hope that . . ." Now it was he who trailed off before he put a hand on my cheek and slowly began to trail his finger down it. "As I told you earlier, Bunny, I came so very close at school to doing what everyone thought I was doing anyway. And over the past ten years I have thought of you from time to time, and when I received your letter well . . . And then when you came here tonight, I knew; I knew that given any kind of opportunity I was not going to let you slip through my fingers again. The moment I opened the door to you I knew and I knew you knew it too. I do believe most sincerely that when Carstairs called out to me, I was mere seconds away from kissing you."
"Raffles?" I whispered. "But -"
"I had other visitors, yes, Bunny, I know that. And things could have taken a dreadful turn had they caught us, but I swear to you those thoughts did not cross my mind until after Carstairs called out to me. When you left, despite my urging you not to, I regretted not stopping you, of not finding a reason to make you stay. I was, in fact, in the midst of trying to think of a sound reason for turning up at your flat when you returned and told me of your plight. Oh, Bunny, I trust you will not think too poorly of me when I tell you that all the time I was promising to help you, all the time I was thinking about how we could raise the money, I was also thinking about how I could get you into my bed. Thus, when we left for Danby's it seemed natural to -"
This time I took the courage he'd told me many a time at school I possessed, even when I didn't believe it, and I put my hand behind his head and pulled it down so I could kiss him and I went on kissing him, went on pulling him nearer and nearer to me, until his arms went around my body and our obvious desire pressed against one another.
It was I who also broke the kiss and I who, with only slightly shaky hands, pulled the ends of his perfectly tied bowtie and undid it before he captured my hands in his, thus stilling me. He kissed me again, tangling his hand in my hair and pulling me close against him for a short time before he broke away and began to undress me. He began with untying my bowtie letting the tips of his fingers brush, quite deliberately, over my chin as he turned his attention to undoing my collar. Once my neck was free from clothing, he bent his head and began to kiss and then lightly suck the tender skin. I made a faint noise in my throat and put my head back, allowing him better access, gasping as his teeth brushed gently over the exposed skin.
I clung to his arms as he took the studs from my shirt front and the cuff-links from my cuffs, dropping them all into his blazer pocket, before he undid the remaining buttons on my shirt and began to kiss and lick his way down my upper body. "Raffles," I managed, holding on to him even more tightly as I felt myself sway under the beautiful but deadly assault being made my his lips and tongue.
"Hush my rabbit," he murmured softly, standing back up and taking my hands from his arms so that he could remove my dining jacket, push my braces from my shoulders and slide my shirt off. "I shall not hurt you, you have my word."
I had never for a moment thought he would hurt me, but his words, his tone, soothed me a little and I managed to stand without clinging to him as he slowly and carefully unbuttoned my trousers, how he managed to avoid letting his fingers brush against my obvious hardness, I knew not - I could only put it down to his skill and dexterity.
Once he had unbuttoned my trousers he dropped to his knees and pulled them down, undid my sock suspenders and took them off. He then sat back on his heels and gazed up at me meeting my gaze and holding it for a moment or two before he turned his full attention to the clear hardness that pushed against the cotton of my drawers. He looked up at me again and seemed to be asking permission to pull them down to join my trousers. I swallowed hard, moistened my lips and nodded.
I felt him pull my drawers down my now far from steady legs and gasped as the cool air of his bedroom caressed my heated hardness. I swayed slightly and his hands on my thighs steadied me as did his voice murmuring words I couldn't quite hear. For a fleeting second I felt his lips brush over my burning flesh as I bit my lip and tried to control my body's desire for an instant release.
The next moment he took his lips from me and gently pushed me down to sit on his bed so that he could pull off the remainder of my clothes before he guided me back onto the cool sheets that covered his bed. By now I was trembling with a depth of desire I hadn't known it was possible for any person to feel and I ached with a need so deep I wasn't certain even he could fulfil it.
As I watched him tug off his blazer I fancy I must have made a noise in my throat as suddenly he stopped undressing himself and dropped down onto the bed beside me, bending over me, his mouth finding mine as his wonderful cool and steady hand closed around my heated hardness. As with the first time he'd touched me, it took mere seconds before I was crying his name as my body once more got what it craved and I released into his hand.
I lay on my back, my heart racing, my breath coming fast, my body tingling with pleasure, gazing up at him as he leant over me, smiling down at me, looking at me in a way that made me think he'd never looked at anyone in the way he was looking at me. I didn't feel worthy of the look he was giving me, of the amount of love he was showing me, thus I let my gaze flicker away looking at his body instead my gaze coming to rest on the evidence of his desire, a desire that was for me and me alone.
Now my deep seated want and need was not for myself, but for him. I wanted to touch him, to give him, to try to give him, a degree at least of the pleasure he had given me. "Raffles," I murmured, reaching for him. He gasped as my hand touched him and this time allowed me to stroke him for a moment or two, before closing his hand around mine, stilling it as he kissed me, stood up and his gaze locked with mine removed the rest of his clothes before he joined me in his bed and pulled me into his arms.
Being embraced by him whilst fully clothed had been wonderful, but the sensations that raced through my trembling body as his naked body pressed against mine made my head spin and I was unable to think of anything other than how much I loved the man who was holding me in his arms and pressing against me as his mouth again found mine. Despite having had its release twice in a short time, I was once again aware of a certain part of my body beginning to harden as he kissed me and as his hands began to wander at will over my body, touching, stroking every inch of my naked flesh.
Then to my horror he stopped, pushed himself up on one elbow and stared at me. "Bunny, there is one thing you should know," he said his tone serious.
"What?" I said; my tone was distracted and I did not care in the least about his answer. I tried but failed to pull him back down next to me. I had no interest in talking, there were far better things he could be doing with his mouth than talking to me.
He smiled and lightly kissed me, before pulling back further from me. "I do not share," he said softly. "At least I do not share you." I frowned and he smiled again. "If we continue to do this, you are mine, Bunny, and no one else's."
I stared at him. "Raffles," I said firmly, "I have always been yours. From the day we met I've been yours, you know that. You took possession of me and my heart some twelve years ago. I don't want anyone else. I only want you. I told you, I'm your man." I spoke in earnest, wondering how he could think even for a second that I could, that I would, want anyone else when I had the most marvellous, most loving, most caring, most protective person in the world.
He seemed, as he'd always done, able to read my mind as again a hint of colour touched his cheeks and for a second his gaze flickered away from mine before he looked back at me. "And I, my dearest Bunny," he said quietly, "am your man."
"Good," I said, before with far more force than I thought myself capable, I pulled him down so that his mouth was again on mine and his body was pressed against mine. I put my hand around his hardness and began to stroke him - this time he did not stop me; this time it was he who after a very short time was crying my name as I had cried his as his release filled my hand.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER
Our becoming lovers was as inevitable as night following day; as inevitable as the sun rising and setting; as inevitable as a person ageing. So why should one more thing not be inevitable?
Why did I ever allow myself to believe that this time he truly was dead? Why would I think that? How could I think that? He who had faked his death on two previous occasions to avoid a gaol sentence of one kind or another, why would he not do it a third time? Even though he had been at my side, even though I had heard him fail to complete a sentence, even though some time later I had seen his body, or rather I had seen a body, how could I have believed he was dead? He hadn't failed to complete a sentence, I had merely finally passed out from the pain and loss of blood and the blazing sun.
I believe part of me must have believed he was not dead, even if not consciously, because when I opened the letter and found the short message and a first class ticket to Australia, all I did was to shake my head fondly.
This is what he wrote:
My dearest Bunny,
"When you want me, I'm your man."
If this, my beloved rabbit, is still true, then pack a case and use the enclosed ticket. Do not write to me - just come to me.
A. J. R.
SEVERAL WEEKS LATER
"Of course it is still true, Raffles," I said, as he pulled my walking stick from my hand, leant it against the table and gathered me into his arms, holding me tightly, protectively, possessively against him.
"Did you ever truly doubt it?" He said nothing; he just went on holding me, pulling me even closer against him as I felt his heart beat against my breast. "I'm your man, Raffles. I always have been and I always will be. You have to know that." And I pulled back just far enough to be able to slide my arms around his neck and pull his head down so that I could claim his mouth with my own.
We were together again, just as we were meant to be. And this time nothing and no-one would part us.