This is Chapter Twenty-seven -- "The Incident -- Part III"
The other stories in the "Wayfarers" series.
Features Brian Kinney, William Reynolds, Others.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Reynolds must deal with the aftermath of Brian's abduction. New York City, May 1844.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
New York City, May 1844
Reynolds' Boy was lying in the narrow hospital bed, his head fuzzy from the laudanum he had been dosed with. The drug numbed the pain, but it could not make him forget.
The bed was warm, but Sister had put another thin blanket over him when she saw him shivering. It wasn't cold that made Brian shiver. He didn't know why he couldn't stop shaking, but he could not, no matter how hard he tried.
The doctor had a gruff voice and a harsh accent. He had hurt Brian, probing him with his fingers, rubbing alcohol on his raw wrists and ankles, mumbling comments to himself as he examined the Boy. And then another man had interrogated him. Asking about things that Brian didn't want to remember. Demanding to know the answers to his questions. Where had he been? Who had he been with? What had they done to him? For how long? How much had they paid him? Why had they let him go? Where were they now? To every question Reynolds' Boy had answered, "I don't remember," which only made the man more frustrated, asking the same questions again and again. "I'll be back to question you further, Boy. So think it over."
Brian knew that the man thought that the attack was Brian's fault. Brian had made a bad mistake. He had let down his guard. He had been stupid. And he had suffered the penalty for being stupid. "Never let anyone get the best of you, Boy," Reynolds had told him many times. "YOU get the best of THEM. Otherwise you are a fool and you deserve to lose. You deserve to be sent from the table with your pockets empty."
And now what would become of him? His master would find out what had happened to him and he would not want him anymore. Reynolds liked beautiful things. Perfect things. He often rejected a glass that was cracked or sent back a piece of beefsteak that was not cooked to his liking. "Accept nothing inferior, Boy. Do not be satisfied with another man's used goods. I would never put on a shirt that another, lesser fellow had soiled. Keep your standards high. That is the only way to keep your self-respect."
Brian knew how jealously his master had guarded his young body. How often Reynolds had reminded the Boy that he belonged to him alone. That is why he had killed Monsieur Leclerc -- because the blackguard had dared to desire Brian. He had tried to put his hands on Reynolds' Boy. And the foolish fellow had paid the price.
But Brian knew that he would pay the price, too. He pulled the cheap blanket up over his face. The Sister had a kindly voice, but Brian didn't want to hear her prayers. He didn't want her pity. He didn't want her to look at him. He knew that he was bruised and ugly. His lips were swollen and his head ached from being knocked around. And he was dirty in a way that could never be washed away.
Those other things that were the matter with him Brian didn't want to think about, either. He didn't want to think about how he ached inside and what the two men had done to tear him up so. Early on with Reynolds it had been painful to be fucked, but Brian grew used to it -- eventually. Reynolds became much gentler and Brian began to feel more pleasure than pain, although it wasn't always an easy thing. Often he merely held his breath and let himself be taken by both sensations.
Brian also understood that his own pleasure was never the point. Even Madame had made that clear to him. "You make the customer happy," she told him. "What you feel is of no matter." Even when Reynolds made him feel like he was about to burst with delight, even when he purred with satisfaction, Brian always realized that it was only pure luck that allowed him to enjoy such happiness. Giving pleasure and satisfaction and not taking it was his purpose in life. That was what a Boy was for, after all.
But those two men -- the elegant master and his fish-eyed, yellow-haired servant -- they were something else again. Not only did they not care if they hurt Brian, they WANTED to hurt him. Their pleasure was in hurting him. In seeing how much they could do to him. In how far they could go before he begged them to stop. Testing how many humiliating things the Boy could endure before he became insensible. How much his thin body could take before it broke down. How much his tender mind could take before it, too, cracked in twain. Or until the men became tired of him. Until his whimpers bored them. They tried to rouse him by thrashing him with a switch, but he no longer responded. He only stared into space, dazed and feeling nothing. Finally, the Boy lost consciousness. After three days and three nights. That was when they took him to the alley and dumped him there like a sack of garbage, leaving the boy to his pitiful Fate.
Brian remembered coming to in the closed carriage after he had passed out from the pain. He was lying on the floor, curled into a ball. He smelled the cigar the master smoked and heard him arguing with his yellow-haired compatriot. The carriage bounced along, but Brian was afraid to cry out in distress. It was night and very dark. Brian tasted the blood from his swollen, broken lips. And he burned inside. He was afraid even to open his red eyes. He knew that if they thought he was awake that they would kill him.
The dead-eyed servant carried Reynolds' Boy into the alley and dropped him in the mud, giving him a kick for good measure. The servant had been the rougher of the two, almost as if he'd been angry at the Boy. Angry at his beauty. At his innocence. He'd been the one who had tied him, binding Brian's wrists and ankles much tighter than he needed to. Threatening Brian with a crop and a knife to make him struggle more. To make the rope bite into his soft skin even deeper. The servant had glared at Brian as if he hated him. But he didn't know Brian. Why would he hate him? Why would the men do these things to him? It was beyond the Boy's understanding.
The servant had dropped a few copper pennies next to Brian's head before he left the alley. "There's your pay. That's as much as a whore like you is worth. So don't you forget it. We'll see what your Mr. Reynolds says when they find you. When he sees what you really are. When he knows that my master and I had his 'Beautiful Boy'! Had you -- and broke you! Not even the lowest of the low would want a piece of trash like you after WE finished with you," the man had whispered in his icy voice. "I'd like to kill you, but it doesn't matter because you might as well be dead already."
The next thing Brian remembered was being carried into a large room, then put into this narrow bed. And the face of Sister Margaret as she slipped a clean, white cotton shift over his battered form.
"Your guardian is here, my dear." It was Sister Margaret again, her voice soft.
Brian pulled the blanket higher over his face. "No," he murmured. "Go away." His tears felt like fire as they rolled down his cheeks. He only wanted to be dead. He was sorry now that the servant had not killed him, as he had wanted to. But the master had refused to allow it. "If he remembers anything at all, he won't tell. He'll never tell." And Brian knew that he would not. He could not.
Reynolds had expected the worst about Brian's condition. Therefore, he could barely contain his relief when he saw the Boy lying in the little bed as the nun gently pulled the blanket away to reveal him. There were bandages on his wrists, his eyes and lips were swollen, and his cheek bruised, but he was obviously alive and, as the doctor had stated, had suffered no permanent injury. At least, no injury that the eye could see. Reynolds knew that Brian had been hurt badly, but that would pass. The doctor had said so. His physical wounds would heal. Perhaps he truly didn't remember what had happened to him. That would be the kindest of mercies. In any event, memories, even horrible ones, faded with time. Things would be as they were before.
"Brian, look at me," said Reynolds.
But the Boy turned his face away, squeezing his eyes closed even tighter. "No. Go away. Please go away."
"Is... is there anything that you want? Tell me what to bring you from the hotel," Reynolds said gently. He had seen the fear in the Boy's eyes, but he did not know how to comfort him.
Brian shrank back, refusing to look his master in the eye. "Don't look at me. Don't!" Brian's voice choked in his throat. Reynolds reached out to touch Brian's golden brown hair, but the Boy recoiled as if he'd been struck and cowered under the thin blanket.
Reynolds stood up and straightened his coat. "I'm sorry, Brian. I am at fault. I failed you. I know that," he said sadly. "I knew that this city was an evil place and I should have been quicker to warn you of its dangers. I... I don't know what else to say. I know you must blame me for what has happened to you. For not preventing...." Reynolds paused. Now his own hands were shaking and he had to take a deep breath before he could continue. "I have tried to shield you from the world while at the same time using you in my schemes. I have always been of two minds in this matter. I want to keep you safe and sound, away from prying eyes, but at the same time I have the desire to flaunt you in the faces of lesser men. That is my own vanity. Perhaps you would be better off... somewhere else. There are schools, places where boys live and are prepared for the university by scholars. You could go there and learn, Brian. Use your fine mind. I could still visit you -- if you wished me to. And we could correspond with each other, still. Perhaps that would be best. To be in a place where you were safe... from me."
Brian turned his face away from the pillow and looked directly at his master for the first time, his eyes brimming. "I knew this would happen! That you would see me... and you would KNOW! Know what they did to me! That you would no longer be able to endure the sight of me. Because I was... ruined." Brian's voice sank to a whisper. "They told me so. They said that you would hate the sight of me once you knew what they'd done! And now you want to send me far away somewhere where you never have to look at me again. To some school, surrounded by strangers. To be alone. They... they should have killed me when they had the chance!" And the Boy sobbed until he was unable to stop.
"No, Brian! That is not what I meant!" Reynolds sat down on the edge of the narrow cot and took hold of the Boy's cold hand. "You have done nothing wrong! Believe that! What was done to you was an evil thing, but you are innocent. I don't want to send you away. I want to keep you here with me more than anything. I only thought... perhaps YOU would rather be in another place. A place where you might be safe from... from the life we have been leading. I blame myself for leading you into a situation that has harmed you. I blame myself for bringing you to this wretched city. I pledged to Madame Heloise that I would protect you with my life -- and I failed to do so. I fear that you will never be able to forgive me for that, as I will never forgive myself."
Brian put his arms around Reynolds and clung to him, letting his tears fall freely. The gambler stroked the Boy's hair and held him tightly. It frightened Reynolds how strong his feelings were for the Boy. Stronger than he had felt for another person since... since he was a young, inexperienced man. The face of another youth came into his mind. He, too, had been young and innocent, as Reynolds had been himself. That was so long ago. And Reynolds would never have believed that he could experience those powerful emotions again as a grown man. Especially not as the man he had become -- hardened and cynical and seemingly pitiless.
"Tell me who did this, Brian," Reynolds whispered. "I know that you said nothing to the constable. But you must tell me."
The Boy flinched. "No. I don't remember. Don't ask me again! Please!"
Reynolds eased Brian back against the pillow. He took out one of his fancy linen handkerchiefs and wiped the Boy's swollen eyes. "I know you only wish to forget, Brian. But you can tell me. You have nothing to fear from those men. They cannot hurt you here."
But Brian shook his head. "I... I can't!"
"All right." Reynolds stood up. "You rest now. I will stay nearby, so you need not be afraid. If I must leave your side for any reason, I will have the Sister sit with you. So sleep without worry."
Reynolds had the orderly bring a chair and he settled himself there as the Boy fell into a fitful sleep. The German doctor, Kraus, came by in the early evening to examine the Boy's dressings and order another dose of laudanum.
"How long must he stay in this place?" Reynolds asked the man in fluent German. "The sooner we are able to leave this city, the sooner my mind will be at ease."
Dr. Kraus shrugged. "When he can walk without pain he can leave here. But travel might be difficult until his wounds heal. He cannot ride a horse, obviously, and bouncing on the open road in a carriage would be very uncomfortable."
Reynolds frowned. "What about the railway train?"
The doctor stroked his beard thoughtfully. "I do not know, my dear sir. I have never ridden in one of the smelly things, but I am told they jolt the bones exceedingly. Unless you plan to travel by sea, I think that you should keep the child quiet and in one place. But he is your ward, Herr Reynolds, to do with as you see fit."
Reynolds thanked the doctor and slipped him a generous payment for the man's time and expertise. He had also attempted to give some coins to the nun who was attending the Boy, but she had directed him to the chapel, where a wooden box sat, waiting for donations.
"But I wish to give this money to you personally, Sister," Reynolds insisted.
"What would I do with money, sir?" Sister Margaret answered. "Put in the box what you can spare and the Lord will see that it finds its purpose."
Brian slept through the night while Reynolds dozed in the chair. But a little before dawn the Boy awoke, trembling and crying out. "I'm afraid!" Brian said. His little bed was shielded from the rest of the ward by the wooden screen, but the snores and moans of the other patients could be heard in the darkness.
"I am here, as I said I would be," Reynolds assured the Boy as he took his hand. "What were you dreaming? Unburden your mind to me, Brian."
Brian swallowed. "I can't, Billy. They'll kill me! I know they will! They'll come back and finish me off -- just like they said they would!"
Reynolds stretched himself out next to the Boy on the narrow bed and held him close. "They will not come for you. I will not let them. Sister Margaret will not let them, either. She seems a gentle soul, but I am certain she would be like a tiger protecting her cub if anyone tried to harm you. Tell me, Brian. Who took you? I will never tell another living person. I give my word."
The Boy closed his eyes. Reynolds was his whole world. If he could not tell him, then Brian knew that he would always live in fear. "It was that man. From the house we went to after the theater. The man with the servant who had those dead eyes."
Reynolds flinched. "Nathaniel Archibald? Is that who you mean? Are you sure, Boy? Archibald has been an acquaintance of mine for years."
"I knew you wouldn't believe me," Brian murmured.
"I believe you, Brian," the gambler replied. "I know you would never lie to me."
Brian nodded. "The servant approached me at the newsstand and said there was a message for you. That his master wanted me to take it to you myself. I only turned around -- and they pulled me into the carriage. The servant put a rag in my mouth and they shoved me to the floor. But when they reached the house...." Brian stopped and covered his face with his hands. "That house! It was a wicked place."
"Was it far away? A house here in town or in the country?" Reynolds questioned softly.
"In town," Brian whispered. "I heard the noise of the city. And we drove for only a short while. It was a big house, but on the street. The carriage pulled into an alley and the servant carried me up a steep stairway. I only saw one room. There was no window and only one door. The carpet was expensive. There were hangings on the wall. But no furnishings, except a bed and a chair and a table." Brian gulped. "They tied me... but I fought. I tried to yell, but no one came. I tried to get away. I tried, but...." He pressed his face against Reynolds' chest.
"I know you did. There was no escape, so do not imagine that you could have gotten away." Reynolds considered what he knew of Nathaniel Archibald. Wealthy. Extravagant. Used to having his own way. "It sounds like a room set aside for evil practices. You might have yelled until your throat bled and no one would have heard you. Archibald is a man of great means. His family has numerous holdings in this city, but I believe he owns a house of his own near the river. A place convenient for a man who wishes to be near the center of vice in this town."
Brian shuddered. "Are you going to tell the constable? Please don't! They will find a way to kill me if they know I told! I know they will!"
"No, Boy," said Reynolds. Looking at the bandages on Brian's wrists, knowing the kinds of marks that were on his pale, smooth back, and touching the bruises on his flawless face made Reynolds simmer with hatred for the pair who had done this. And thinking about the invisible wounds the Boy would always carry inside him made Reynolds a deadly foe. "I will not tell the constable."
Reynolds had another plan hatching in his handsome, single-minded head.
Continue on to Page 2 of Chapter 27 "The Incident -- Part III" .