VENTURING INTO THE UNKNOWN
Set immediately after The Ides Of March.
Raffles takes Bunny to bed without realising something very important. He is genuinely concerned by what he has done, but does not know if he can do anything to make amends.
A first time story.
Written: July 2013. Word count: 6,445.
He stood and smiled at me and I could see he was happy he had got his own way and that I had agreed that I would help him commit burglaries again - as often as he wanted me to assist him, I would do so. I was damned, I knew that, but I didn't care, I truly didn't care; all I cared about was spending time with him - and I knew that he knew that.
In some ways it was like being at school all over again. I had broken the rules then by helping him get out of school of an evening, even though I hadn't enjoyed doing so, even though I had spent every minute he was away worrying what might happen if he was caught - I had still helped him. And this was going to be the same; I would hate every moment of our burgling, I would be in constant fear of being caught, but I would do it - because he had asked me to and because I would be with him.
Ten years had gone by and I was still as in awe of him, still as far under his spell, still unable to say 'no' to him as I had been during the two years we had spent together at school. And as I stood and saw him smile at me, I knew something else was still true.
"'When you want me, I'm your man'! I believe that is what you said, is it not, Bunny?" His voice was low, mellow and almost sensual.
I stared back at him. "Yes, Raffles, yes, that is what I said."
"And did you mean it?" He took a step nearer to me and as he had done on an almost daily basis during our two years at school, he brushed my fringe from my forehead.
I swallowed hard and forced myself not to tremble with the sudden rush of desire and a wish that he would touch me again and not merely to brush my hair back. "Of course I did, Raffles," I declared. "When you want me, I'm your man." I said the words again and gazed up into his face.
He took another step towards me and the expression on his face changed causing my mouth to become dry as a part of my body began to react slightly to the look, his nearness and his scent. "And," he said in his soft, mellow and now definitely sensual tone, "was my rabbit merely talking about lending me a hand when I go a-burgling?" As he spoke, he gently ran the tip of his finger down my cheekbone and I bit my lip to stop myself from making a noise of pleasure. "Or are you willing to be my man in some other way?"
I swallowed hard and nodded. "Yes," I managed to say. "Yes, Raffles! Yes! I'll be your man in any way you want me to be."
He smiled and I saw clear desire in his dark gaze as he put one hand behind my neck, let his fingertips stroke my nape for a moment before he slid his hand up into my hair and entwined his fingers in it. "It would be another crime, Bunny."
"Are you quite certain you wish to break the law in two ways on one evening?"
I stared at him. Damn him, he was teasing me, playing with me - why couldn't he just kiss me and be done with it? However, I had known him at school well enough to know he had his own way of doing things and the hours spent together this evening confirmed that in that respect he had not changed. "Yes!" I cried, "Yes, Raffles, I am quite certain."
He smiled again and his eyes blazed as he pulled my head towards him, lowered his slightly and the next moment his mouth was on mine and he was kissing me as he pulled me closer to him, pulling me right against him, letting me feel that my body wasn't the only one that had begun to react.
I put my arms around him, pressed against him as closely as I could and kissed him back, hoping my naivety, my lack of experience wasn't too obvious - or if it was he wasn't too troubled by it. As his mouth gently parted mine and his tongue slipped between my lips and he pulled me just a little nearer to him and tangled his hand once more in my hair, I believed he was not troubled in the slightest.
"Well now, Bunny," he said, breaking the kiss and taking a deep breath as he gazed down at me, "what say you that we continue this in my bedroom?"
He smiled, pulled me back against him and kissed me with more intensity than our previous kiss, before he once more lifted his head and, with his arm around my shoulders, he led me through his rooms and into his bedroom where he undressed me and urged me down onto his bed before he began to undress himself.
As he removed his clothes in a far slower way than he had removed mine and far slower than I wished him to undress, his steady gaze never once left me. It travelled up and down my body as if he were committing me to memory before it came to rest on the part of me that would tell him just how deeply I desired him. As he stared in such a blatant manner I felt my cheeks become warm and had to fight my instinct to either pull the sheet over me or cover myself with my hands. I told myself not to be such a foolish rabbit, and that soon he would be doing more than merely look at me.
Finally all he had left on was his drawers and a moment later he had removed them and stood in front of me. The evidence of his desire was completely clear, and to my surprise I found myself staring at him, staring at him in a way I had never stared at anyone; staring at him in a way I had never dreamt I would stare at anyone; staring at him in a way I could now admit I had always wanted to stare at him when we had been at school together.
He didn't move, he just stood there, gazing down at me as I went on staring at him, then he ran his hand over himself twice which caused me not only to gasp aloud but to harden even more before he joined me on his bed, pulled me into his arms and began to kiss me once more.
As his kisses became even more intimate and demanding and his hands began to move over my body I realised I had no idea what to expect, having never been intimate with either a gentleman or a lady. Raffles of course was experienced; I knew he had done things with boys at school and I was quite certain he had continued to do things with the young men with whom he was at university and other men (and quite possibly ladies as well) since then. All I could do was do as I had done for the two years we had been at school together: trust in him to guide me if necessary, and not to show any disappointment my lack of ability may cause him.
I hoped my total lack of experience would not be a complete disappointment to him and that I could manage to pleasure him as he was already pleasuring me. His caresses showed me how confident, how knowledgeable he was, and they made my entire body feel aflame as it tingled and throbbed with never before known pleasure.
As his hand moved down my body and he began to touch me in a far more intimate way than he hitherto had done, I felt a flash of almost embarrassment that someone other than I would touch me as he was touching me, as he was now holding me and stroking me. Again his confidence was clear, his strokes steady as he moved his hand over me, speeding up just a little until I cried his name as my body released with far more force than it ever had done before.
I clung to him, gasping his name over and over again as he held me in what was quite a tender manner, kissing my cheeks, my forehead and in effect soothing me as the trembling in my body slowly began to decrease. "Oh, Raffles," I murmured as I gazed up at him and touched his cheek with a hand I didn't even try to stop from shaking.
"My dear Bunny," he said softly, before putting his mouth back on mine and kissing me. A moment or two later he was gently encouraging me, without making it obvious that was what he was doing, to touch him.
As my hand closed around him and I discovered quite how different touching someone else was as I sought to adjust my grip in order to compensate for the difference in angle, I again hoped I would not be too inadequate. If the way he cried my name as his release filled my hand was anything to go by, I was not.
We continued to kiss and caress, he bringing me to two further releases, for quite some time until he pushed himself up on one elbow and in what was a very formal tone asked if he might do what I had expected him to do from the moment he had got into bed with me.
Pushing away my slight fear as to quite how much it would hurt and how embarrassed that level of intimacy would cause me I nodded. "Of course, Raffles," he smiled and kissed me. He left the bed for a moment and returned with a small bottle which he put on the table next to the bed, kissed me soundly for several minutes and once more caressed my again growing hardness before encouraging me to turn over.
As his fingers moved down my spine and continued to move downwards I gasped at the more completely unknown touches and I knew I trembled as he touched me. "It's all right, my dear rabbit," he said, pausing and putting his lips to my ear, "just try to relax, there's my good boy. I promise you I will hurt you as little as possible. Trust me, Bunny," he murmured, "trust me."
And I did - just as I always had done. Yes, it hurt; at one point the pain was so deep, so intense and so insidious I feared I would have to beg him to stop, but seconds later it lessened and I felt a wave of pleasure wash over me that took away all but the most lingering hints of pain.
A short time - or it may have been several hours, I had long since lost track of time - I once again lay in his arms gazing at him as he once more stroked me, slowly, languidly, gently to another release. I loved him more than I could ever tell him; I was more deeply in love with him than I had been when we had been at school. That had been the love of a young boy for an older boy, the love I felt now was the love of a young man for a man a few years older.
He treated me so gently, so carefully, so considerately (far more so than I believed a man usually treated another man when they shared a bed) and looked at me with such an affectionate look and smiled at me in the way I had never known him to smile at anyone else. Thus, I dared to believe, well hope, that maybe he loved me as I loved him - or at least cared about me as he had once cared about me.
"Are you all right, my rabbit?" he asked softly, as his hand found its way into my hair.
I smiled at him. "Oh, yes, Raffles, I am quite all right and very happy."
He smiled. "Good, I'm glad you are, Bunny." He lowered his head and brushed his lips over mine. "I'm glad I have made my very own rabbit happy."
"You have, Raffles, you have. And I won't mind about the other thing, not now we have this." Even as I blurted the words out I regretted them and wished I could unsay them.
His hand froze in my hair and a strange look crossed his face. Slowly he took his hand from my hair and sat up; not once did his eyes leave my face. "What do you mean, Bunny?" he asked, his tone was low but I believed it had a slight edge to it which I didn't want to hear.
I stared at him, suddenly feeling sick as uncertainty began to race through my body. What had I
done? What had I said?
Had my naivety troubled him? Had he not enjoyed what we had done? Had I displeased him? Or was it something quite different? "Raffles," I managed, slowly sitting up and gathering the sheet around me. "I . . . That is . . . I thought . . . Raffles?" My voice was now nothing more than a whisper.
He went on staring at me in silence and I now saw his look was troubled and his expression had softened and for a fleeting moment I thought I saw a hint of guilt cross it. Moving slowly as if he feared he make spook me, he put his hand on my shoulder. "Oh, my dear Bunny," he said, "my dear, dear, dear Bunny. I had no idea. I thought you knew."
I frowned and began to twist the sheet between my fingers. "Thought I knew what, Raffles?"
He shrugged and let his other hand return to my head where he brushed my hair from my forehead. "The rules of the game, shall we say."
I frowned again and shook my head. "What rules, Raffles? What game? I don't understand."
He sighed and briefly closed his eyes before reaching for the cigarette case he had put on the table next to the bed. He offered it to me, I hesitated for no more than a second or two before I took one and then accepted a light from the match he held for me; to my annoyance he had to steady my hand in order to light the cigarette. He lit his own, put the match out, took an ashtray from the table and put it on the bed as he moved to sit in a cross-legged position facing me.
"Oh, Bunny," he said after smoking in silence for a moment or two. "Oh, my rabbit, please believe me, please trust me when I say that had I not believed that you understood, that I would not have - I swear to you, Bunny, I would not have taken you to my bed had I not truly believed you knew what it was."
"Knew? Knew what, Raffles? How can you expect me to know when I've never -"
"Never?" He gasped as his face began to pale. He took one of my hands and held it. "Oh, Bunny, are you trying to tell me that this was your first time - that you have never . . . Bunny?"
I was more than a little troubled and even disappointed by quite how shocked he seemed. Slowly I shook my head. "No, Raffles, I have never . . . Could you not tell?"
He shrugged, took a deep drag on his Sullivan, glanced away from me for a moment and said softly, "I knew you were relatively inexperienced, of course I did, but I did not know you were completely - Not even at school?"
I shook my head and bit my lip. "No, well, not - not what you'd consider . . ." I fell silent as he once more stared at me. I wanted to ask him why he was so shocked, so troubled and why he looked guilty. However, I did not because I did not know what to say. So I just sat and waited for him to speak again.
"Oh, Bunny, I am so very sorry, truly I am. You do believe me, do you not, my rabbit? You do believe that had I known I would not have - Oh, Bunny."
I sighed softly and suddenly wished I was anywhere but where I was; I also wished I had never gone to his rooms that evening. "Of course I believe you, Raffles," I said, "I trust you. But why is it so - What did I do wrong, Raffles?"
He shook his head and tightened the grip he still had on my hand. "You did nothing wrong, Bunny, quite the opposite. It is just - oh, my dear rabbit - why did you not tell me?"
I stared back at him. "Because I did not know it would be such an awful thing," I heard myself say. "I did not know you would hate it so much!"
"What? I didn't, oh, Bunny, I assure you I didn't hate it at all, not at all, my rabbit. What I hate is that I have hurt you, you, the boy I swore I would never allow to be hurt and whom I would never hurt." I waited for him to continue. "Bunny, gentlemen do no . . . Look, Bunny, I care deeply about you, I could not have wished for a more enjoyable hour or two, but ," he paused, closed his eyes, tightened his already almost crushing grip and said flatly, "that is all it was, Bunny. I'm sorry," he said once more opening his eyes. "But that is all it was, a very pleasant, very enjoyable, very - It's not . . . We don't have 'this', Bunny. There is no 'this'. I am sorry, my rabbit. I am truly so very sorry, I would never - Oh, Bunny, I never wanted to hurt you."
"Oh," I heard myself say, finally understanding what he was saying. "I see. Well, I'm sorry too, Raffles, I'm sorry for not knowing the rules of the game; for being completely without experience; for making you - I'm sorry," I repeated in a stilted tone.
He said nothing, he just put his cigarette out and took mine from my hand and stubbed that out as well as he went on staring at me. "Oh, Bunny," he finally murmured and then fell silent again.
"So what happens now?" I heard myself ask.
"Well, do tell me, Raffles. It might be rather too late, but pray do tell me what happens next, what the rest of the rules in this game are. Do we never see one another again? Do you not wish me to give you hand when you next wish to break into a house or shop?"
"I . . . We . . . Of course we can still see one another, we can lunch together and dine together, spend time - And yes, I would very much like it if you would lend a hand from time to time. But -"
"You won't take me to your bed again?"
Slowly he shook his head. "No."
"So that's part of the game, is it, Raffles? You bed a man once and then move onto someone else?"
"I - Bunny, I will not take you to my bed again. I could not."
"Because I care about you and I have no intention of hurting you more than I have already hurt you tonight."
"Well, it wasn't the first time." I was aghast as I heard myself say the words. "I should have known nothing would have changed. It's just like it was at school, is it not?"
"Bunny? What do you mean?"
"Well, in case you've forgotten for two years you made me
think you cared about me -"
"I did. Bunny, I -"
I went on as if he hadn't spoken. "You protected me, you possessed me, you hated the term 'A. J.'s pet rabbit', but that's what you made me. You encouraged me to care for you, to fall in love you even, and then you hugged me, told me to be a good boy and take care for the next three years and walked away from me without a backward glance and, and, Raffles, you never once wrote to me. Not once. Thus, you could say I am quite used to you hurting me. So, please, Raffles, try not to feel too awful, too guilty for not realising I was not like every other man you know. And do try not to feel surprised, shocked even, that one boy who want to a boarding school left it as innocent as when he had arrived. Now, I shall say goodnight to you. Maybe we could dine together tomorrow?"
"What? Bunny, don't go. Stay; have another drink; stay the night."
I pulled my hand free from his gasp, biting the inside of my mouth to prevent myself from crying aloud at the sharp pain I felt as I extracted it. "No, Raffles, thank you, but, no. I do not wish for another drink and I am quite certain staying the night is not part of the game."
"I wish to go home, Raffles. I wish to - Oh, just let me go home, Raffles, please," I added as I felt the energy drain from me completely and I knew if he asked again I would stay. He said nothing he just nodded. I got off of the bed and began to dress.
"I never meant to hurt you, Bunny," he said quietly, getting off the bed and dressing swiftly himself.
I turned to look at him and managed a faint smile. "I know, Raffles. And you were right, I should have told you. However, I really did think you'd know - f not from my kisses and touches then because you knew the kind of boy I was."
"I - I would very much like to dine with you tomorrow, Bunny, if you still wish to."
I pulled my coat on and nodded. "Yes, Raffles, I would."
He led me through his rooms and out into the hall where he helped me on with my overcoat and handed me my hat. "Do take care, my rabbit," he said softly.
I gazed at him. Part of me wished to tell him I had changed my mind that I no longer wished to dine with him; that I was not longer 'his man', that I would not lend him a hand when he wished it; that I wished never to see or hear from him again. But the bigger part of me knew that would just cause me more pain - I had managed for two years when I had longed for him to kiss me and even touch me, I could manage again. "I will, Raffles," I said and smiled.
He opened the door for me and for a moment let his hand linger on my shoulder as I gave him another smile. "Goodnight, my rabbit."
"Goodnight, Raffles." And I turned and headed down the stairs.
I waited until he was completely out of sight before I quickly donned my own overcoat and hat and followed him down the stairs and out into the street. There were very few people out, which wasn't surprising given it was the early hours of the morning, thus it was quite easy to follow him. I was able to keep him in my sight, but remain some distance behind him; not once did he turn around he just kept walking towards Mount Street, his head slightly bowed, his hands in his pockets.
Even when he reached the building in which I presumed, given he went into it, his flat was located, he didn't look around. He just went inside. I moved a little closer to the building and stared upwards; after a moment or two I saw lights appear in two windows overlooking the street in which I stood. Of course they could have been lights in the flat of another gentleman, but given the lateness of the hour, I decided it was Bunny's flat and he was finally inside and safe from harm.
I hovered, for what reason I knew not, for a moment or two longer, before turning on my heel and made my way back to the Albany smoking a cigarette. I gave poor Parker quite a shock as he had not been in his office when Bunny and I had left, and I passed a moment or two in his company before bidding him a good night and going up the stairs and into my rooms.
I went straight into my bedroom and stared at the bed for a moment or two trying to decide whether to change the sheets now or wait until I awoke in the morning. In the end I decided on the latter and made my way back into the sitting room where I poured myself a whisky and soda, lit another Sullivan and sat down on the sofa to ponder just what I had done that evening.
In one evening I had dragged the man, whom as a boy I had adored, protected, possessed, cared for and - as Bunny had said - encouraged to care for me, to love me, into duel crimes. In truth I had done so without giving any real thought to what I might be doing to him. Yes, I had helped him, yes, I had saved him from disgrace and possibly a gaol sentence - but at the same time I had been helping myself.
What I had told him about being in a similar situation to he was quite true - I had needed money, I had needed to take that which did not belong with me in order to get money for myself. Thus, I had trusted the man I had not seen in ten years, the man whom I had trusted as a boy (in one respect I had trusted him more than I had trusted Charlie). I had trusted him implicitly; I had not needed to think about it, I had complete and utter trust in him and I knew, even though we had not seen one another for ten years, that he would not make my secret life public. I had trusted him with something I had truly believed I would never trust anyone.
And yet it hadn't been enough for me, had it? I had his gratitude, it was quite clear if I chose to I could have his friendship - and more. Yes, even that was clear. Indeed that had been clear from the moment I had opened my front door to him and stared down into the face of the man who still in so many ways reminded me of the young boy I had taken as my own. I could have had his friendship, I could have taken him to my bed, I could have had his company and I could have continued my life as a cracksman; I hadn't needed to ask him to help me again - but I had done so.
And I hadn't just asked him to help me I had quite deliberately chosen my words and my endearments carefully. I had put my hands on his shoulders and smiled down at him; I had smiled down at him in the way I had only ever smiled at him; I had smiled down at him in the way that had always got me what I desired when we had been at school.
He had turned away from me, turned under my hands and put his head between his hands and that was the moment I had truly known that I had won. I just had to continue to play him; I had to keep up the subtle pressure and he would soon be saying 'aye' to me. And that is what I did, again I had chosen my words and the fond expression on my face carefully and in a matter of a few short moments he was telling me he would help me.
He had made it quite, quite clear that he would do anything I wished him to do (just as he had done during our time at school) if it meant he could be by my side. He didn't care what he did as long as he did it with me. He wanted to stay by my side, and if that meant breaking the law, breaking the rules of society, then so be it - he would do it.
And it wasn't as if we were hurting anyone by what we stole. It wasn't as if I accosted people on the street and picked their pockets; it wasn't as if I broke into houses of the poor and working class and took what little they owned. No, the people whose house I burgled were those who could afford to lose what I took from them. That is how I justified what I did - at least on the occasions I allowed myself to really stop and think about what I did, which I confess was not that often.
I had him. I had him as my partner in crime. In a few short hours I had dragged him into my world, trusting him to be as loyal to me as he had been at school, trusting in his love for me (because it was quite clear he did still love me) to ensure he did not betray me. He was mine, just as he had been mine at school. As he had said, I had not liked the fact my fellow sixth formers referred to him as 'A. J.'s pet rabbit', but even as I was making my dislike known I knew it was my own fault he was called thus - because I had given him the name 'Bunny', I referred to him as 'my rabbit' and I had made a pet of him.
Yet even that had not been enough for me. Even though I had him as a friend and partner in crime it wasn't enough. I had to ask him if he really meant it when he had said 'When you want me, I'm your man'! I had to ask him even though I knew what his answer would be - but I had miscalculated; I saw that now.
However, how could I have known before I kissed him? How could I have known that he was completely without experience? How could I have known that he did not know the way the game was played? How could I?
And yet . . .
I threw my cigarette into the fire and lit another one and made myself face the truth. I believe I had known, or at least suspected - at least I had known he was not particularly experienced. That had been clear from the moment my mouth had met his and became even clearer when he had retired to my bedroom. And yet I had continued to kiss him, to touch him, to make love to him in a way I have never made love to another man. I suddenly realised for the first time I had made love to a man, I hadn't merely had a sexual encounter with one. I had taken my time, I had taken care, far more time than I usually took, not just because it was Bunny whom I was making love to, but because his lack of experience was clear and I had not wished to hurt him.
But hurt him is exactly what I had done. Sitting in my rooms, alone with only my own thoughts, I had to face the fact that it was more than possible I had realised during the time we spent making love that he was completely without experience. If that was the case, how had I expected him to know the rules of the game gentlemen play?
Was it in fact a case of not expecting him to know, but expecting him not to say anything? Had I presumed my rabbit really was still so much of a rabbit that he would not only do anything I asked, but not presume to show any will of his own?
I threw my half-smoked Sullivan into the fire and poured myself another whisky and soda. As I sipped it, I forced myself to face the fact that I may just have been guilty of treating my dear Bunny as the not quite fifteen year old boy I had walked away from some ten years ago, rather than the young man he had become.
And yet had he really changed? I knew how much he hated helping me get out of school of an evening, I knew how afeared he had been that we would be caught - and had it not been for some very quick thinking on his part, I would have been. Not that I would ever have given Bunny away; I would never have done so. No matter how severe the beating I would no doubt have been given, no matter how many detentions I had to endure, or privileges I was stripped of, I would not have named the boy who had helped me. Dobson, of course, would have guessed who had helped me, but I would never have confirmed or indeed denied it had been Bunny.
So yes, he had been afeared, very afeared, especially when I continued to venture out into the town after our close call. Yes, he had hated me getting out of school, thus breaking the school rules, but he had stood by me. He had helped me; he had waited in my bedroom, in my bed, for me to return, and he had never once given me away or asked me not to continue to go. He had never believed in his own pluck - but I had believed for the both of us.
Was the pluck he had shown then any different from the pluck he had shown a short time ago when he had presumed that since I had taken him to bed and made love to him, especially in the way I had made love to him, that I would continue to do so? That we would be involved in a relationship - albeit an illegal one? Knowing how well I knew him, knowing what I had known about him during the two years we had been at school together, was it not to be expected that he would presume that I would somehow know that he -
I put down my glass and stood up. I had done enough thinking - I could not change what happened; I could not undo what I did. But would I if I could? I honestly did not know. I had not meant to hurt my beloved rabbit, but hurt him is what I had done. I wished there was a way I could make amends. But I was not certain I could because here was only one way I could make amends and that would mean changing much of what I am, much of what I believed in. That would mean admitting to myself that men, well a man, were not just part of a game I played. And I did not know if I could do that.
It was too soon to do that. All I believed I could do was to continue to spend time with my rabbit; to lunch with him, dine with him, spend time here in my rooms with him; to teach him about my other life and see if maybe I could be the one who could take a step into the unknown and change what had been my life course.
There was one other thing I could do. One thing that whilst it would not make up for the hurt I had caused him tonight, might at least make up partly for the hurt I had caused him when I had walked away from him ten years ago.
I turned down the lamps and left my sitting room and headed for my bedroom where I unlocked a drawer and took out a box. There safely and neatly arranged inside were the letters which I had begun as well as those which I had finished. The letters I had written to my rabbit beginning on the day I first went up to Cambridge and ending on the day I left her for the final time. The letters I had written and never sent - the letters even to this day I cannot fully explain why I did not send.
Will they help in some small way? Will knowing they exist take away some of the hurt he made it clear he still feels? Or will my inability to explain, because I am certain he will ask if not in words then in the way he looks at me, quite why I never sent them to him hurt him even more?
Maybe I should leave the decision until the morrow - well until later today. Maybe for now I should just undress, get into bed and let my mind replay those hours I spent in it with Bunny - because that is what I wish to do. I wish to do it more than I believe I have wished to do almost anything - and replaying what I have done with someone is not something I have ever done before.
So maybe . . .
Just maybe . . .
Maybe I can accept a different way of life.
Maybe my affection for my rabbit, my love for Bunny, will allow me to do that thing.
But first I do have to decide if it is something I truly wish to do - because until I am certain I will not, no matter what he might say or how he might look at me, take my Bunny to bed again. I have hurt him twice in our lifetime, I will not do so a third time.
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