DOVER Chapter 37
The carriage pulled up in front of an ancient looking building, lined with stone columns that rose high up to the front peaks of the stone façade above. Dustin got out and looked up at them, as they were so impressive to him. He felt Callum behind him, and then felt a soft touch to his sleeve a few moments later, Callum guiding him up the stone steps. The entry doors were quite large and very tall, as Dustin noticed that most of the large building they had passed here in London were built that way. He didn't fully understand why it was like that. Callum guided him to the door and then opened one and walked in. Dustin followed him in and there was a man in a long white jacket standing there, his hand clasped together in front of him.
"Mr. Callum, isn't it?" The man asked in a smooth sounding voice, "It certainly has been quite a while, sir. You haven't changed all that much, my good sir."
"Good evening, Jeffries. It has been quite a while, hasn't it?"
"Yes, since you and Mr. Dunhill were here last, what has been? Over two years I think?"
"Yes, quite." Callum said, taking his hand, giving it a firm squeeze. Callum held out a hand toward Dustin. "This is my companion, Mr. Dustin Perkins. I promised him an experience of a lifetime tonight." Callum smiled, and Dustin stepped forward.
"Exactly so." Jefferies said and nodded toward Dustin, "If you gentlemen will follow me please, we shall get you prepared." He walked away and they followed him, through a large foyer and into a great hall. They saw a large pool of water surrounded by more stone columns, each held a sconce that burned, throwing light out across the waters of the pool. A few men were swimming about in it or just at the sides holding on. The water seemed very murky to Dustin, and there was an odor in the air of the great room. Dustin leaned closer to Callum as they walked.
"What is that smell?" Dustin asked.
"Mineral water. The water comes from wells deep in the ground. As it is heated in the furnaces, the smell of the earth stays in it. It also gives it that murky look to some of the pools." Callum answered him, Dustin nodded as they continued to follow Jefferies. They entered a large room on the opposite wall of the pool, seeing benches about, in between tall cabinets. Linens were stacked neatly, folded on each end of the long benches. Jefferies stopped and held out a hand guiding them in further.
"You gentlemen may change in here. All of the facilities are at your disposal. I trust you will remember them, Mr. Callum?"
"I do indeed, Jefferies, thank you." Callum smiled at him, nodding his head slightly toward him. "I think I will take a steam first. Is that smaller room still available?"
"Indeed it is. You know where it is, I trust? On the other side of the larger room?"
"Yes, I think we can find our way. When are you closing the doors?"
"Not for a few hours yet, this time of year makes it more popular with our travelers that stay within the city."
"Ah, then we might be in good company this evening, I take it."
"Indeed you shall be. I believe there are a few gentlemen that are here this evening that from Turkey near the Orient."
"Truly? It has been quite some time since I have been there in my travels, perhaps I might engage them in conversation."
"They might enjoy that as well, Mr. Callum. I shall leave to enjoy yourselves. Mr. Perkins, I know that you will enjoy the experience of a lifetime for certain."
"Thank you very much." Dustin said and watched the man walk away. He turned and saw Callum getting out of his clothes and put them in one of the cabinets. Dustin was amazed as he watched Callum get completely naked, and then pull from the stack of linens at the end of the bench. It was almost a sheet, the size of it, and Callum wrapped it around his shoulders, covering him almost to the floor. Callum looked over at Dustin and smiled, as if he were waiting. Callum raised an eyebrow toward him.
"Well, let's get you ready, my love."
"You did not tell me that you and Farrow came here together as well. A fact that you intentionally left out?"
"We came along with Captain Powers as well. The Captain was quite well known here, and we often came as his guests after a mission, when we would be ported on the Thames."
"I see." Dustin said as he removed his shirt. "I seem to be underdressed for those other patrons here."
"Nonsense, we are actually all overdressed until we removed our clothes and get into the linens provided. I must warn you however, that there may be some here that walk around without the coverings of the linens."
"Seriously, you must be making another of your jests." Dustin said, but Callum pointed behind Dustin with just a finger. Dustin turned and saw a rather large man walking by a large doorway completely naked. "My word."
"Hurry now, I will show you around." Callum said as Dustin tucked his clothes in a door next to Callum's. He picked up from the stack of folded linen and wrapped his shoulders in it as Callum had done and then followed Callum out and into a large wide hallway. Callum showed him the various steam rooms, some were good sized, but Callum seemed to looking for a particular one as Dustin looked in each one as they went along. Callum came to one room, and opened the heavy wooden door, it creaked loudly, and the steam rolled out of it as they entered. Callum closed the door behind him, and the warmth of the room with the steam made Dustin begin to sweat heavily. Callum walked over and sat on a stone slab, leaning back against the wall, letting the linen fall open slightly exposing his chest and stomach. Dustin could barely see Callum and sat next to him, doing the same as he did.
"And this is what you meant as far as a steaming?"
"Yes, it cleanses you and everything in your skin. I only hope that it makes my skin softer around my knitting. Arthur said I needed to be careful of it, as the stitches themselves might take on too much of the steam on their own." Callum said softly. The steam vents poured more and more through them, and the room became thicker than the worst Channel fog. Dustin tried to look about but could barely see Callum as he sat next to him. Dustin was sweating profusely.
"It feels grand, doesn't it?" Callum asked.
"I'm actually not certain. I have never sweat this much before." Dustin said and Callum chuckled softly.
"That's the whole point. You know this might do Lt. Holt a world of good as well pulling all those toxins from his body."
"Yes, but he's so thin, that it might shrivel him up to nothing as well." Dustin said and Callum laughed now.
"Well, I can certainly feel it on my stitches. I can actually breathe for once without it binding or causing me to be pinched."
"Really, perhaps you're taking too much of it then, as Dr. Crawford said." Dustin sat forward. "I am feeling a little light headed." Dustin said, resting his forehead on a hand, then placing his elbow on his knee.
"Perhaps this isn't for you then. I can come back here another time myself later this evening for more. Come, let me show you something else." Callum said and got up from the bench, Dustin followed him, feeling a little dizzy and not seeing the door as he walked. Callum opened the door and Dustin came out, looking around. He felt as though he had just climbed out of the waters of an ocean he was that wet. The linen was clinging to him, and the air around them seemed to be a cool shock to the skin. Dustin followed Callum further down the long hallway and into another large room. At its center, there was a deep pool. The water was clear and Dustin walked up to the edge. He knelt down and put his hand in it, feeling the temperature of it. It was warm, but not overly. He got back to his feet and felt hands on his shoulders. He turned his head and Callum was behind him. "This is what you have been waiting for, I know." Callum said in a soft voice in his ear. Dustin felt the linen being pulled away from his shoulders and then he was completely naked in front of Callum. "Dive in. It's what you want to do." Dustin turned and looked in his face, that held a soft smile. "Go ahead, it's alright, that's what it's here for." Callum smiled. Dustin turned and looked back at the water.
"What are you going to do?" Dustin asked.
"I will watch you for a few minutes while you swim about. I might join you after my body cools down a bit." Callum said, throwing Dustin's linen over his own arm. "There is a bench over there. I will sit there and cool down first." Callum said and walked away. Dustin dove in the water, making a large sounding splash. Callum watched him as he was going from column to column, watching the young slender body glide through the warm waters. Callum watched as Dustin would kick his feet wide and then bring them back together as his arms waved through the water, propelling him as he moved. Callum could see the parts of Dustin as they swung back and forth in the water seeing them move about like that excited Callum to see Dustin and made his desire begin to rise in him as well. Callum sat on the bench as Dustin swam mostly underwater to the far end of the pool, he reached it and surfaced, and then ducked back under pushing off the side with his feet. Callum continued to watch the beautiful body that belonged to him as it glided back toward him under the water. He could watch him for hours this way he decided to himself, seeing the love of his life so free and suspended in the warm water made him lust after the lithe body even more. Dustin came to the end of the pool and rose up to the surface. Dustin's hair was still in the tied ponytail. Callum knelt down to one knee and reached behind Dustin's head and untied his long hair. Dustin shook it about, throwing water on Callum, and then smiled.
"I can see that you are in your element." Callum smiled. "You were made for the water."
"What makes you say that?" Dustin smiled as he hauled himself out a little, resting on his arms on the side of the pool, looking up at Callum, with his dreamy eyes and his hair hanging all about him. Callum could see only the little boy looks in his face and fell in love with him all over again.
"Your body loves the water, the way you glide through it, it's like the keel line of a fine ship." Callum smiled, "And your parts are like a rudder the way that they move." Callum wiggled his eyebrows.
"I suppose that's the best way to describe mine, but yours are like the size of a great anchor." Dustin said, then bit his bottom lip as he raised an eyebrow, he reached up into Callum's linen, feeling Callum and his parts as they hung below him. "Yes, definitely like a great anchor." Dustin said letting go of his lip, "And I feel that it needs to be dropped."
"You are the true devil in all of this, aren't you?" Callum moaned at being groped, "Yes, I believe it needs to be dropped for certain."
"It is too bad that we are in a public house. I might let you drop it in me, here in the water."
"I think that might be arranged." Callum said as he stood, dropping the linen from his shoulders, letting it fall to the stone floor. Dustin tilted his head back and saw that Callum was more than half hard now from being touched. "Remember what I said this morning, to save yourself for this evening?" Callum leaped off the stone and dove into the water going over Dustin's head, making Dustin spin in the water watching him. Callum surfaced quite a ways away from Dustin and began to swim, and swim well. Dustin pushed off the sides of the pool and chased after him, swimming as hard as he could to catch up. Dustin finally caught him as they neared the far end of the pool. There were no sconces here on the columns and the end of the pool was relatively dark. Callum grabbed the edge of the pool with his right hand and scooped Dustin with his left arm, pulling him to him, and then kissing him hard as Dustin was free floating in the water, only supported by Callum's arm about his waist. Dustin became immediately hard in the water as Callum pulled him to him, and Dustin put his arms around Callum's neck, kissing him back deeper and deeper. The water quieted around them as they became one in it. Dustin moaned softly in Callum's mouth as Dustin worked his body in front of Callum's and they slid each other's hard lengths against one another in the water. Dustin pulled back and tilted his head back in the water a little and rose back up.
"You were made for the water as well it seems." Dustin said softly as he moved his hips still rubbing against Callum's length with his own. "And you were right about something else, this is an experience of a lifetime. I could make love with you in the water every day like this."
"Well, perhaps I should have a bathhouse built at home." Callum smiled, "Seeing you like this brings the desire for you out so easily."
"Can we make love here in the water? I so want you to take me right now, I can't stand it." Dustin said and kissed Callum.
"It is very difficult here in the water."
"Have you ever tried?"
"No, I have not, but I know that the water makes it difficult to work our pleasure in."
"I suppose you're right." Dustin smiled, "And the possibility of getting caught by someone."
"Well there is that as well," Callum said as he looked around at the various columns, "but that is also part of the excitement, isn't it?"
"Excitement, yes, but I want to enjoy you without having to think about it, or anyone else."
"This is one of the reasons I so love you, you know that?" Callum asked, "Your reasoning in it all, all of the time. You always think of my reputation, don't you?"
"Remember, I am your protector, your guardian." Dustin said as he kissed Callum softly.
"And I thought it was me that was your protector."
"You are," Dustin smiled, reaching down with a hand under water, he wrapped his fingers around Callum's long swollen member and pulled on it, "with two swords, I might add." Dustin smiled.
"Then let me take it and run it in you deeply. There is a quiet, dark corner over there." Callum nodded, and Dustin looked over his shoulder, biting his bottom lip again and then looked back at Callum. "If we're quiet and stay in the shadows, who would know?"
"Besides me?" Dustin wiggled his eyebrows, "No one." Dustin said and pulled away from Callum getting out of the pool, dripping water all over the stone floor. Dustin walked into the shadows and Callum hauled himself out as well, using his arms, following Dustin into the dark corner. Dustin turned and put his hands against the stone wall and spread his feet slightly as Callum came up behind him. "Take me, Quintan, while my body is still wet from the water. I so want you." Dustin said softly, almost moaning as Callum came up behind him, using a hand to guide his length up and down in between Dustin's tight cheeks, dragging his tip over and over Dustin's hole. "Yes, do it again,...yes, like that." Dustin whispered and was breathing hard now, as Callum stopped and slowly entered him, Dustin took in a deep hard breath at being barely entered, but the warm water and the steam from the room earlier had made Dustin's skin soft and very flexible. Callum slowly entered, and Dustin lifted one leg just a little, letting Callum take him easier, moving slowly, letting Dustin adjust to him easier as he moved in.
"You are so wet and smooth from the water." Callum said as he leaned on Dustin's back, kissing his ear. Dustin turned his head more as Callum was close to him now and kissed with the corner of his mouth as he panted heavily. "Yes, just like that, you love it so, don't you?"
"Only because it's you taking me." Dustin said in between breaths and then he groaned softly feeling Callum push his hips against his soft wet cheeks. Dustin was all too familiar with Callum's length, knowing that he was in him fully now. Callum pushed a little more against him and Dustin felt him go a little deeper in him. Dustin rolled his eyes back in his head. He moaned a little louder as Callum began to move in and out of him now, using long motions dragging himself slowly in and out of Dustin as they both began to feel the full pleasure of what they were doing. Dustin looked over his shoulder, down his back seeing Callum sliding in and out of him, and loved watching it happen to him, being taken the way he truly enjoyed. Dustin licked his lips as Callum changed his stance a little, shifting himself up a little, and as he did so, he began to drag his length back and forth across Dustin's spot, making him open his mouth and almost stop breathing at the feel of it being rubbed. Dustin was reaching a point to where he could barely contain his pleasure and was about to scream openly at what was happening to him. He tilted his head back and Callum knew Dustin was at his point. Callum reached up and placed his hand flat on Dustin's forehead, holding his head back at an angled position, and then began to move faster in the same position. Dustin couldn't take it anymore and let out a deep growl as a moan and let himself go, pulsing himself, shooting on the stone wall he clung to for support. Callum could feel the spasms of it and the clamping on him and he too lost control, sending volley after volley deep inside Dustin. Callum began to ease and slowed his thrusting inward in Dustin's tight ass. Callum was panting so hard but it felt so good to him to be able to breathe regularly without strain on his stitches. Callum let go of Dustin's forehead and placed both hands on Dustin's hips, resting them there. Dustin regained his own breathing and dropped his head forward between his arms and rocked back against Callum as Callum slowed to an almost halt.
"You are so incredible, Dustin." Callum said softly, looking down at Dustin's back and then slid a hand gently up his spine, and then back down to the top of his cheeks. "I so love doing this with you."
"Not as much as I." Dustin said as he breathed out, still feeling Callum deep inside him still. "I so crave this all the time from you."
"Then I promise, we will make it a more regular habit." Callum whispered as he leaned forward, kissing the base of Dustin's neck under him.
"I feel the need for the water again." Dustin lifted his head and looked over his shoulder at Callum. "Ease yourself out and we will clean ourselves as we have never done before." Dustin smiled. Callum moved and slowly pulled himself out, going slowly, dragging his length over Dustin's spot, leaving him with that magical feeling, but yet empty at the same time. It was the emptiness that Dustin hated the most, that feeling that he was not filled and loved. He turned and took Callum in his arms and just held him to him.
"What is this?" Callum asked softly.
"My way of saying thank you for giving me one of the most wonderful experiences in my life." Dustin whispered into Callum shoulder. Callum smiled and then pulled back from him, taking Dustin by the upper arms and then kissed him softly.
"Of all the things I want to show you, and to do with you, this has been one of the best nights of my life, because of you being with me." Callum smiled.
"You always say the most wondrous things to me. You tear at what heart I have, as the rest truly belongs to you and only you." Dustin smiled and then kissed him softly again.
"Quickly, into the water." Callum smiled, and ran toward the edge of the pool and then leaped, making a perfect dive, Dustin right behind him. Callum began to swim, and Dustin raced to try and catch up to him.
Tomlin took the tray and walked to the door of the room. He looked back at Holt, who was lying in the bed, resting on the pillows, and smiled at him. He opened the door and went out as Holt closed his eyes to rest. Tomlin closed the door softly and carried the tray down the stairs and into the tavern portion of the inn. The barkeep smiled at him, and held out his hands to take the tray from him.
"Thank you very much. Tell your wife that he thought it was excellent."
"I'll be doing that, sir." He nodded as he took the tray and went toward the kitchen. Tomlin turned and saw Crawford sitting at a table and went over to him.
"May I join you, Doctor?" Tomlin asked as he stood at the edge of the table. Crawford looked up.
"Thomas, please do." Crawford motioned with a hand. "How is our patient?"
"He has eaten, and now he is resting. I would imagine he will sleep for quite a while."
"Yes, I'm sure he will." Crawford smiled and then drank more of his ale. "Do you have plans?"
"What do you mean, Doctor?"
"I mean, you can't stay here with him indefinitely, what are you going to do with him?"
"I believe our young Mr. Perkins is formulating a plan with the Captain about that."
"Oh? And what is that little schemer thinking about?" Crawford asked as he sipped more ale.
"I am not quite certain, but if I were to give it any major thought, I would think he will be sending Christian to Birmingham to have him recover fully." Tomlin said, lifting an eyebrow. Crawford chuckled softly.
"Yes, Mr. Perkins does seem to be quite the planner, doesn't he? I am certain that he has discussed the entire situation with Quintan by now, and has him backed into a corner with no way out, but to give in to what he has planned." Crawford rolled his eyes and then smiled. Tomlin smiled in return.
"We have seen that all too much in the last few days, haven't we?"
"Yes, you're right in that." Crawford said. "Well, I am going to retire for the night. I'll look in on our patient in the morning before I leave for Portsmouth." Crawford said. Tomlin went to get up, but Crawford held out a hand to stop him. "Good night, Thomas. Make sure he sleeps, it's the best medicine for him now."
"I will, sir, you can count on that." Tomlin said, still smiling. Crawford patted him on the shoulder and started to walk away leaving Tomlin alone at the table.
"Excellent, you're a good lad, Thomas."
"Good night, sir." Tomlin watched as Crawford walked toward the stairs and then looked back down at the table, thinking about the past day and its events. He sighed to himself, thinking about what he had talked to Holt about, with the two of them. Tomlin lifted his eyes and looked at the ceiling, knowing Holt was above him in the room, waiting. He hoped that he was resting, possibly sleeping by now. He smiled to himself about going up and being with him, it made him tingle with a certain amount of excitement with that thought. Tomlin went to get up, but the young girl was standing there at his elbow. She smiled at Tomlin.
"Is there anything that you need, sir?" She asked.
"Uh, no, actually, I was about to go up to my room."
"Are you not hungry, sir?"
"No, actually." Tomlin smiled at her briefly. "Thank you for asking."
"May I get you a cider?"
"No, I'm fine." Tomlin nodded to her. "Have a good evening." Tomlin gave her another brief smile, and walked by her, leaving her alone near the center of the room. She lowered her head and walked over to the counter.
"Oh, my girl, he is not the one to be led on." Her father said, she looked up at him. "He has too much on his mind with that one they brought in earlier."
"I was only trying to be polite, father."
"I'm certain you were, my lass. Now, take these over to those at the far table there." He said, setting tankards on the counter, nodding toward the table on the other side of the room.
"Quintan, how are your stitches feeling?" Dustin asked as he held the edge of the pool with one hand, looking at Callum.
"They feel fine here in the water. I think this might have been just the thing that I needed." Callum smiled. "Well, that and something else." Callum wiggled his eyebrows. Dustin grinned in reply toward him and began to lean forward, but stopped hearing a voice over them.
"Good evening, gentlemen. How is the water this evening?" The voice asked and both Callum and Dustin looked up. They saw a large man wrapped in linen about his shoulders, looking down at them.
"It is very pleasant actually." Callum said, not really seeing his face as the light was cast behind him. "You should try it."
"Perhaps I shall." The large man turned and walked toward the bench. He looked back at them, "I see these must be your linens. Am I crowding you with the use of the bench here?"
"Not at all." Callum said, looking at him. "We were about to go take steam actually, weren't we?" Callum looked over at Dustin.
"Yes, we were, I suppose." Dustin said, giving Callum a puzzled look. Callum nodded his head slightly toward the bench signaling to Dustin. Dustin gave him back a brief smile of understanding. Callum hauled himself out as the large man turned and dropped his linen wrap on the bench. Callum was stepping toward him to reach for his own and the man's eyes went wide seeing Callum in all of his full glory. He looked him up and down quickly and took in all of the stitching of his wounds, his eyes widened.
"I say, pardon me for saying it, but you look as though you have been in a terrible accident, sir."
Callum stopped and looked down at himself briefly and then back at the man as Callum reached for his linen wrap. He picked it up, and the wet cloth was wrapped about his shoulders, the cool of it from being on the stone floor and its wet from the steam room, gave Callum a slight chill.
"Yes, I apologize if I gave you a bit of a shock seeing me like this." Callum said softly as he brought it around him, covering himself completely.
"No shock at all, sir, I assure you. Are you in pain from all of that?"
"There is some slight discomfort, but the water has soothed it out some."
"I apologize if I embarrassed you, sir."
"There is no need for apology on your part, I am the one that should be apologizing for my appearance."
"I don't wish to be forward, sir, but, has some terrible accident befallen you?"
"No, actually, these wounds were received while engaged in battle."
"My heavens, they seem somewhat severe, if I may say so. You must be a rather stout fellow to have survived so much."
"I thank you." Callum smiled, "I have never been referred to as that. I suppose that I am rather stout, thank you." Callum nodded toward him. Callum turned and looked back at the edge of the pool, seeing Dustin coming out of the water. His young slender body dripping water as he walked the few steps toward the bench as well. "Are you ready to try the steam room again?" Callum asked.
"I was actually wondering if I could swim a bit more." Dustin said, reaching for his own linen.
"If you wish," Callum said as Dustin had the wet linen in his hand now, holding it barely in front of him. The larger man was taking in Dustin and his pure beauty as he was presenting his profile toward the man, as he looked at Callum, "I thought perhaps you wished to try the steam room once more before we left, but if you'd like to swim more, and this gentleman doesn't mind your company." Callum said, and they both looked at the large man. He quickly lifted his eyes to them both, and gave a brief smile at them.
"Certainly, I do not mind at all. I think the pool is large enough for the both of us." The large man smiled briefly again at them.
"Most kind of you." Callum said to him, and then looked at Dustin. "You remember where the room is located?" Dustin smiled and nodded, "Good, I will be there for a bit and then I will dress." Callum turned and walked away. Dustin dropped his wet linen back to the stone floor and looked at the large man for a moment and then walked back to the edge of the pool, diving in. The larger man watched him as he stepped to the edge of the pool. Dustin broke the surface some distance away, and the larger man settled down on the edge and then slipped into the water. He watched as Dustin swam to the far end, and then turned and swam back. The larger man waited for him to return, watching him closely. Dustin reached the edge of the pool and stopped gripping the edge with a single hand, looking back from where he had come.
"You are very graceful in the water." The larger man said, looking Dustin up and down in and out of the water. "I am afraid I am too larger to be like that."
"I don't think that you would be. The water helps with your movements I think." Dustin smiled toward him.
"Well, I think it is because you have a slender young body that can gently slide through the water, making it far easier for you. I am built for more floating than anything else." He returned the smile and then looked down at himself.
"It is a matter of technique as well, I suppose." Dustin said, and then looked over at the bench to the linen.
"Are you a sailor, sir?"
"Yes, I am. How did you know?"
"The tanning of your skin, the tightness of your muscles in your body. You seem to be quite young as well."
"I suppose I am." Dustin said.
"Then you wouldn't know of other pleasures besides the pleasure of the water." The larger man moved closer toward Dustin.
"I'm not sure what you mean, sir." Dustin said softly.
"I mean, pleasures of the...flesh." He said and then reached down and touched Dustin under the water. Dustin looked down with only his eyes underwater, seeing and feeling the touch to his member. He looked back into the eyes of the larger man.
"I do know of what you speak." Dustin said softly. "But I must be on my way now." Dustin went to get out, putting both hands on the edge of the pool, but the larger man put a hand on Dustin's shoulder, stopping him.
"I'm certain that your companion will not mind if you were to linger with me for a few minutes more, my boy." He smiled at Dustin and Dustin became very nervous.
"I think that I really should be joining him now, sir."
"If you know of the pleasures of the flesh, then I'm sure he can wait another few minutes." The larger man said as he kissed the base of Dustin's neck. Dustin pulled away, but a strong large arm went around him, pulling him to the larger man. "I only wish to taste of you, my boy."
"I think not, sir, I really should be going." Dustin said as he tried to push away from him again. The man tightened his grip further as Dustin started to struggle harder against him. Dustin became angry behind the manhandling and moved down grabbing the man between his legs and pulled on him hard, making the man almost howl from the tight grip and the pain of it. Dustin came back up and hurled himself out of the pool and rolled across the stone floor to the bench. He stood and just looked at him. "As I said, sir, I really must be going." Dustin spat out as he picked up his linen wrap and his hair ribbon then walked away from the pool toward the steam rooms. He looked over his shoulder once to make sure he was not being followed by the larger man. Dustin went to the small steam room and opened the door, rolling his head back as the steam poured out of the door.
"Quintan, are you in here?" Dustin called out, there was no reply. Dustin wrapped himself in the wet linen and went to toward the cabinets and benches were. He hurried along, trying not to run, and then came into the larger room and saw Callum drying himself with another smaller linen. "There you are." Dustin said, and Callum looked up at him, seeing the look on his face.
"Nothing, I thought I had lost you, that's all." Dustin said and came around the bench to the other side of Callum, putting down his wet linen, he turned and opened the door of the cabinet and reached in for his clothes.
"Here, dry yourself. You don't want to make your clothes wet. You'll be uncomfortable." Callum smiled handing him the smaller linen. Dustin looked at it as he stood there naked, and then at Callum, then took it from his hand. "Something troubles you, what is it?"
"As I said, it is nothing." Dustin said as he dried himself quickly and then started to dress himself. Callum did the same. As they were about done, a man in a long white coat came up to them. Dustin looked over at him, and then Callum saw him.
"I trust you gentlemen found everything satisfactory this evening?" He asked with a slight bow.
"Most satisfactory, thank you." Callum answered, as he buttoned his vest up.
"Excellent, shall I meet you at the desk?"
"Yes, and could you secure a carriage as well?" Callum asked. The man smiled and turned and walked away. Callum watched him walk away and then looked at Dustin, "About ready?" Callum asked. Dustin only nodded his reply. Callum gave him a look, and then walked toward the large lobby. Dustin followed him. Callum paid for the evenings use, and was told a carriage waited for them outside. Callum thank him and they walked out into the cool of the evening. They climbed into the carriage and the driver set off toward the inn.
Tomlin sat at the foot of the bed in a chair. He had returned to the room and Holt was indeed sleeping, with a full belly and obvious exhaustion from his ordeal. Tomlin got up and walked over to where his trunk and Holt's bag were at the window of the room. He opened the bag was going through Holt's things that had been put into the bag by the housekeeper at Holt's home. Tomlin looked the items of clothing over seeing if there was anything that Holt was missing to make up a full outfit. He was indeed missing stockings for his feet. There was a pair of breeches and a shirt and well as a pair of undergarments. Tomlin was very aware that Holt wore bedclothes right now, and also had the long house robe with them as well, but that was all that he possessed. Tomlin frowned at what was here. He folded them and placed them back in the bag, then set the bag back on top of his own trunk for the night.
Tomlin picked up the chair carrying it over to the window, setting it down next to a small table there. The candle was already lit and Tomlin opened the window slightly just to let some air into the room. He sat down and just watched as Holt slept, not moving and just barely breathing to Tomlin's watchful eye. The flame of the candle wavered slightly in the soft breeze that came into the room. The flame made the shadows move and dance on the walls around him. Tomlin settled and stared at the shadows for a long while and then his eyes became heavy and he closed them as he folded his arms over his chest.
"Thomas." The soft voice said in a whisper. Tomlin stirred a little, moving his eyes about under his lids. "Thomas." The voice said again and Tomlin felt a gentle shake to his shoulder. He opened his eyes and focused. He smiled. "You should come to bed now." Holt whispered and smiled at him.
"I thought you were sleeping. Why are you awake?"
"I woke and saw you sitting here. You need to come and get in bed. You can't sleep like this."
Holt said, and took him by the hand, pulling at him, gently. Tomlin got up from the chair, and let him lead him to the bed. "There is more than enough bed for both of us." Holt smiled and sat back on the edge. Tomlin started to get undressed and walked around to the other side of the bed. He set his clothes down on the foot of the bed, his jacket, shirt and then his pants, laying them out. He pulled back the covers and got into the bed. Holt had watched him undress and then lay down himself, and got under the coverings. They lay beside each other, both not moving or saying anything else, just staring up at the ceiling. Tomlin finally chuckled softly.
"What amuses you?" Holt asked softly.
"I was just thinking about the ship, and what I was going to have to do aboard her now, lying here made me think of the bunk in the cabin I will now have."
"I thought you were still going to be below with the other officers." Holt said, turning his head slightly toward Tomlin.
"No, much has happened since you took your wound." Tomlin said, rolling his head over to look at Holt.
"Really, such as?" Holt asked softly.
"There were some changes made after Mr. Arvin was severely wounded." Tomlin said, rolling to his side, propping his head up with his arm.
"Mr. Arvin, he was wounded?"
"Yes, rather in a very bad way, actually." Tomlin said. "Do you know of Captain Anders?"
"Yes, I heard from Sgt. McGuffin that he was lost at the fortress." Holt said almost in a whisper. "What of Mr. Arvin?"
"He lost his leg. The Captain had just returned from seeing him at his home this afternoon, actually. I have not had opportunity to find out how that went, other than what Dustin has said."
"Yes, and you must tell me of this with Dustin and the Captain. I had no idea at all of them." Holt said in his soft voice.
"Not many do, and they wish it remain as such. Dustin and I have become somewhat good friends over the past few days actually. He is a rather unique person, and I have never known anyone quite like him. His insights are quite remarkable."
"How close of friends are the two of you?" Holt asked and looked away with his eyes.
"Do I detect a bit of jealousy in your question?"
"Why should I be jealous? Your friendships are your own affair and have nothing to do with me."
"I think that may not be entirely accurate."
"What?" Holt asked looking back at Tomlin.
"We are all together in this, and I think you will be a very valuable part of it all." Tomlin said.
"What are speaking of?"
"Our way that we are with one another."
"You still have me confused." Holt said.
"Christian, you have feelings, you said so yourself earlier."
"Yes, and you have feelings for me as well, as that is what you said also." Holt said, looking up at Tomlin. "Thomas, are you saying that those feelings are..." Holt stopped as Tomlin kissed him softly. He slowly pulled back from Holt, looking him in the eye, "obviously strong." Holt said with a smile.
"Should they be otherwise?"
"What are we going to do?"
"Do about what?"
"This?" Holt asked as he raised a hand and cradled Tomlin's cheek gently.
"What do you want to do about this?"
"I am not sure. I am rather uncertain about how to..." Holt said softly.
"Be with another man? I'm rather uncertain as well. I only know how you make me feel, and I want to be with you, and only you."
"I wish to be with you as well. I have never felt so strongly about something in all my life." Holt gave him another soft smile. "But there is something that I need answered."
"All you need do is ask."
"I know you said that Dustin was planning something, but where are we going to go? I know that we must leave soon, and I know that I am to report to the Garrison before month's end, fit for duty or not."
"I'm sure Dr. Crawford will certify for General Emery that you are not fit for duty, at least not yet. Your wound has not even completely healed yet."
"That is true, but where are we to go?"
"Well, not knowing what Dustin was thinking, but I have suspicion that it is to Birmingham."
"Birmingham? Why there?"
"It's the Captain's home. Dustin and he are together there, a relative place of safety as I understand it."
"Hmmm, if only there was such a place as that for..." Holt said letting his voice trail off. Tomlin watched him for a long moment.
"You are thinking of your father, aren't you? I can see the worry in your eyes."
"Yes, I am very concerned to sure."
"Does he have that much power over you?"
"You do not understand."
"Perhaps if you explained it to me, I might." Tomlin said adjusting his head on his hand. Holt rolled away from him to his left side.
"It is difficult, just understand that when my father returns from his regiment, there will be,...major difficulties."
"I think you might be exaggerating those difficulties slightly. Surely he will be more concerned that you are safe and healthy."
"He cares not about that, he only cares of how this will impact he and his house. There are other considerations that he will find far more important."
"Such as?" Tomlin asked as Holt went silent. Tomlin placed a hand on Holt's shoulder gently. "Christian, I told you that I am here to help, and that means in all things concerning you." Tomlin said gently. Holt lay back on his back and looked up at Tomlin.
"If my father were to see us in this way, he would not understand at all. He would simply have me put on the next ship bound for the Indies or to America. You see, there is much that he must protect in the name of his house. Holt is a surname, yes, but it also carries a title with it. My father is the ninth Earl of Cambridge, placed by the Duke of York." Holt closed his eyes as if trying to shut it all out. He let out a deep sigh and then opened his eyes. "So you see, there would be a terrible disgrace for him and for all around him in all of this. It would have been better to die under the cover of my wound than to be found out that I was spirited away, by a fellow shipmate."
"I'm sorry, I thought I was only doing what was best for you." Tomlin said in a whisper. "You had asked me for help, to take you away."
"I did, and it was from weakness and out of fear only for myself. But as I have said repeatedly, I am very grateful to you in everything that you did for me."
"Christian, we have to make him understand, somehow we have to." Tomlin said, squeezing Holt's shoulder slightly. "I understand you wanting to protect your father's name and reputation, but what of you, your life, your happiness? To all other things, I am certain that he would want to see you live."
"Truly Thomas? You think that? It was he that had that doctor come, it was he that provided that medicine and it was he that had our housekeeper give it after my return home. My father left for his regiment shortly thereafter leaving me under her care, to make certain that I would not embarrass him further from my wound that I should not have survived. Better to die in battle than to suffer being a cripple and living, a drain to the household."
"You speak as if he were a monster of some kind."
"Perhaps he is. I only know that when he finds out that I am gone, and not buried in our family plot, that he will search for me, and the end to that will not be pleasant."
"Well, as I understand, we have a little time to figure something out." Tomlin said and smiled. "You must rest now to try and get well. We have much to think about, and much to plan in all of this. There is a way out, I know it." Tomlin said softly, and lay down, looking at Holt as he got comfortable next to him. After a bit, Tomlin closed his eyes and drifted off.
Callum and Dustin pulled up to the inn, getting out of the carriage. Callum paid the driver with a few coins and then they walked in, Dustin was very quiet the entire time. Callum knew something was bothering him, but Dustin would not speak about it. Callum thought it best to let it alone for the time being and went into the tavern and sat down at a table. The innkeeper came round the counter and walked up to Callum, as Dustin had gone upstairs, without saying a word.
"Can I get you something, sir?"
"Yes, perhaps a little bit of supper and an ale, please." Callum smiled softly at him.
"Right away, sir." The man said and turned away. Callum looked about the room. There were a few men that sat about at various tables, most looked to be sailors by their state of dress, and Callum settled into the chair more, waiting. The innkeeper returned and set out a plate of steaming potatoes, along with a chunk of salt beef that looked to be boiled as well. Callum smelled it as it was placed in front of him. Some bread was placed on the table along with a small amount of churned butter. A knife and fork were set down along with a tankard of ale. Callum nodded toward the man and he walked away as Callum started on it.
"May I join you, Quintan?" Crawford said as he stepped up next to the table, pulling out a chair, and then sat down. "You look like you have better color since being at the baths. How was it?"
"It was fine, Arthur, very relaxing. I can breathe better now that the water has worked my knitting. Would you care to join me in having some supper?"
"Thank you, no, perhaps another ale." Crawford said and looked over his shoulder. He motioned and the innkeeper came around with another tankard. "Thank you, landlord." Crawford said, and then took it from him, taking a pull from it. "Not as heavy as Farrow's, but much better in taste I must say." Crawford said and then set the tankard down. "Quintan, is something wrong with Perkins? Did you two have words?"
"I'm not sure what is bothering him, actually. He seemed to be having a wonderful time at the bathhouse and then we parted for a few minutes. When he found me, he did seem rather bothered by something, but he didn't wish to discuss it. Why? Did he say something to you?"
"No, I asked about the evening as I stepped out of my door, he said you were down here and then closed the door behind him, rather abruptly." Crawford said and went after more ale out of the tankard. "It was not really like him at all. I had thought maybe you had had a disagreement with him or something."
"No, but I will find out, once I'm finished here." Callum said, "This is rather good, aren't you sure you'd like some?"
"No, I ate earlier. This will do for the time being, thank you."
Holt heard a knock on the door. He got up out of bed and walked over and opened it. He saw Dustin in the doorway, smiling softly. Holt opened the door wider.
"Dustin?" Holt asked.
"Yes, I was wondering if you might require anything, as I was getting ready to go to bed."
"Thoughtful of you, thank you. I was just laying here, not able to sleep any longer."
"He's asleep." Holt said, looking over his shoulder toward the bed. He turned back and looked at Dustin. "Some things are weighing heavily on my mind, I was wondering, would you have a moment to talk?"
"We might wake him." Dustin said softly.
"Well, could we perhaps talk in your room?" Holt asked, looking back at Tomlin again and then back to Dustin.
"Certainly, if you feel up to it." Dustin said softly.
"I do." Holt realized that he was only in his undergarments at the moment, he looked down at himself and then up to Dustin. "Is this alright, or should I find something else?"
"No, it's fine. We are of the same size, I have a few extra things you might use." Dustin smiled softly, "Come with me." Dustin turned and Holt closed the door softly behind him.
"I'm not sure how soundly he sleeps."
"I have noticed that he sleeps lightly if there are things going on about him. He seems to keep a wary eye open at all times if he is unsettled."
"That stands to reason, I suppose." Holt said as Dustin opened the door to his room, letting Holt in. Dustin went over to the bag and pulled out one of the new shirts from it. It was a powder blue soft cotton pullover with a deep v cut to it, drawstrings wove their way up to the loose rolled collar. The sleeves were somewhat tight at the shoulder but billowed large to the cuffs. He handed it to Holt and had him put it on. Dustin sat on the foot of the bed, and Holt took a small chair that was against the wall, bringing it over and sitting near Dustin.
"What is that that troubles you?"
"I have several things actually that I am rather confused about. But, I think you are troubled yourself about something."
"I am slightly, but it will be alright and is of no consequence. You are far more important right now." Dustin smiled.
"Most kind, I must say. You have a generosity to your manner, and it is very warming."
"I thank you, something that I find that I have from Quintan." Dustin smiled.
"It is of the Captain, I wish to speak of."
"Of course, everyone always wishes to speak of him." Dustin said softly.
"It troubles you."
"No, it just becomes...constant."
"I don't wish to be forward, as I barely know you, but is there some kind of problem between you and the Captain?"
"No, there is no problem. He is a very good man, a kind man. I have no problem with him at all. So, what is it that has you confused?"
"I am confused by what was said earlier with you in the room, between Thomas and myself."
"I see, and you are confused by what exactly? I would have thought that you and he rather had the situation between you clarified."
"I am confused about how it works, with two,..."
"Two men, you are confused about feelings being shared? Let me ask you, do you think your feelings for Thomas genuine?" Holt nodded, "You think his feelings for you are less than that?" Holt shook his head, "Then what does it matter if the two of you are men? Have you ever felt the way you do about him toward a girl perhaps?" Holt shook his head and narrowed his eyes at him, "Are you certain? I ask only because you seemed so sure earlier this evening about it. What makes you feel the way you do about Thomas, exactly?"
"I am not sure to be honest. I only know that when I'm near him, I feel safe and protected. He gives me a strength inside of myself that I have never known before. I look at him and I feel tightness in my throat, like I'm almost choking. He makes me see things differently because of that. He leads me, never tells me."
"I see, and when you look at him, are there sounds and other feelings around you?"
"Yes, it's like birds are singing on the first day of a spring morning, that he is surrounded by a soft glow in the pale light even if it is the brightest day. What is that?"
"If you had to put a word to it, what would it be?"
"There are too many to describe him." Holt smiled softly, and Dustin reached out and took a hand in his.
"This,...simple touch, from him, what does that do to you?"
"It makes me feel as though I am tingly all over when he touches me, when he takes my hand."
"Does it warm you all over, does it make you want it all of the time, like it will hurt if he lets you go?"
"Yes." Holt said, squeezing Dustin's hand gently.
"You feel about Thomas what I feel about Quintan. Thomas brings this feeling to you because it is love, not just attraction that can happen between anyone. Love, true love, is something that is special between people, it matters not if they are female or male. There is no problem in loving someone fully, truly, with all of your heart, it should not matter at all if it is someone who is also male, in fact to my way of thinking, only a man knows what is truly in another man's heart. Men understand other men, it is the female that is foreign to us."
"You believe that?"
"Yes, I do, with everything that I am."
"Then how does it work between two men?" Holt asked. "If I may, how do you and the Captain...?" Holt only asked part of the question, but Dustin knew where he was going with it, and pulled back his hand.
"Have you ever tasted another?"
"What do mean?"
"Have you ever really kissed another, I mean truly kissed?" Dustin asked.
"No, I mean I did once, not too long ago, with Thomas."
"And was it...?"
"It took my breath away."
"I see." Dustin said. "And did anything else happen?"
"No, nothing. He kissed me and then he left me to tend to his duties."
"Ah, so it was aboard Dover. Yes, I can see where that might be a problem."
"I don't know what to do. I am becoming very frustrated by it all. He is constantly in my thoughts. I can't sleep well, and when I do, I can only see him in my dreams." Holt said and Dustin smiled wide.
"I was there once, about Quintan. He took every moment from me, of every day, of every night, I saw him in everything, my own reflection, everything. It nearly drove me mad, I had to do something about it, and then I had that one opportunity, and I took it, and I am so glad that I did."
"What did you do?"
"I took every shilling that I had and brought him his trunk, to his home in Birmingham. I did not know what I was going to find once I got there. Was he married, did he have a sweetheart, I didn't know, I took a huge risk in doing it."
"It obviously worked out."
"It was difficult at first, especially when he opened the door for the first time. I almost fainted dead away right there." Dustin smiled, "but when he pulled me inside the house, I knew it was going to be alright. He made me feel warm and welcome in his home, despite rank or status, all of that went out the window. He treated me as an equal, the same footing as he was in. That's when I knew."
"That you loved him?"
"Oh no, I knew that long ago, before that moment, it was two years before that when I knew I loved him deeply like I had never loved before."
"Had you ever been with,...?"
"Another man?" Dustin asked, nodding his head slightly, "Yes, I had been with a few actually before Quintan. I grew up in the streets of Portsmouth, knowing that to survive, I had to do certain things. I suppose I used myself to just be able to eat sometimes."
"Oh, my heavens, I,..." Holt said, looking shocked.
"It's alright, actually. Many have done that in order to survive, and it's not just women. I did what I had to do. I'm not proud of it, but I am grateful to it."
"It taught me what men like and like to do with one another. I have never used that to gain anything from Quintan, nor will I ever. He has given me a home, a family, other than Dover and her crew, he has given me a real purpose for being, and more importantly, he has given me a love, a love for him, and for myself, us together, and I will always be grateful for that. I would die for him if it were necessary." Dustin sat back a little on the bed, thinking about what he had just said, and what it really meant, and a realization came to him, and he lowered his head in shame now.
"What is it?"
"There is something that I need to tell him. Something that I should have told him this evening, but didn't. You see, we have no secrets between us. We tell each other everything, albeit difficult at times, he deserves to know what troubles me, and I him, and I fell short with that tonight, and I have wounded him because of it, and that is something that I never want to happen, to hurt him intentionally, and I have." Dustin's eyes welled and he struggled to keep the tears back.
"Is there something I might do?" Holt asked as he put a hand on Dustin's knee.
"For us? No, but there is something we might be able to do for you and Thomas."
"What is that?"
"To take you some place that you will both be safe in, you can help each other, and can care for one another, as Quintan and I do for each other." Dustin smiled his cheery smile finally, "If you will excuse me, I will be back in a minute, I must tell him something." Dustin got off the bed and went to the door, as Callum came through it. Dustin went wide eyed seeing him as he closed the door behind him, and then Dustin grabbed him and took him firmly, pulling him in, kissing him tightly. Callum's breath was taken by it, and then slowly worked Dustin off him.
"Well, obviously you're happy to see me, my love." Callum said, taking in a deep breath, looking at Dustin, then dropped his hat on the floor behind him. "What is this all about?"
"Something that I should have told you earlier, something that deeply disturbed me, and I'm very sorry that I held it in, all this time. It seemed to have hurt you that I didn't say anything, and I never wanted to do that, never." Dustin said and kissed Callum again. Dustin pulled back, and Callum saw Holt sitting across the room on the other side of the bed, and his eyes went wide.
"I see that we have company this evening." Callum said softly. Holt rose and went to salute. Callum raised a hand to stop him. "Perhaps we should dispense of that when we are in private, Lieutenant." Holt came around the bed, Callum seeing what he was wearing. "As we are also devoid of uniforms as well." Callum gave Dustin a side glance.
"Christian." Holt said holding out a hand toward Callum.
"Christian, how nice." Callum said, taking his hand, "I'm Quintan, to my friends, as you are undoubtedly aware." Callum took his hand back and looked back and forth at the two of them, "Now, what is this all about?"
"This evening, at the bathhouse, something happened, and I should have told you about it."
"Let me guess, the large man in the pool." Callum said, picking up his hat and then tossing it to the bed.
"How did you know?"
"Well, my love, it's quite simple, actually. I left you for only a short few minutes until you found me, and you seemed to be quite upset about something, so I can only assume that he made some kind of advance toward you."
"Dustin you have to understand, that the vast majority of the men that go there, go there for that reason, it's not just for the waters."
"Oh, something else you neglected to tell me about." Dustin said, looking rather upset now.
"I was going to come back after a few minutes, but I was detained myself, speaking to a couple of other patrons as well."
"Did they make advances on you?"
"No, actually, they were there, just as we were to enjoy the waters, but they are from the Spanish Embassy, here in London, and have information. I need to meet with them tomorrow afternoon at the Admiralty. They have word of our madman and some other information regarding troop movements that might be useful to The Duke."
"I see." Dustin said, giving Callum a scowl.
"Did he hurt you?"
"No, actually, quite the opposite, I hurt him."
"Not too bad I trust? He will have a difficult time explaining it."
"Why do you say that?"
"The two gentlemen that I met from the embassy, informed me that he was Vice Admiral Parring."
"You have to be making a jest." Dustin said, with wide eyes.
"No, I'm afraid I'm not actually." Callum said, giving a brief smile. "The meeting will be held with him as well."
"Oh, dear God." Dustin said, putting a hand to his mouth.
"I'm certain that's what he will say if he recognizes me tomorrow." Callum said, then looked over at Holt, "So, Christian, where's Thomas?"
"He was sleeping, sir." Holt said.
"No 'sir' when we're in private, alright?" Callum asked and raised an eyebrow, "You should be resting as well. If Dr. Crawford finds you out and about, he'll probably skin all of us."
"Yes, I'm sorry. Dustin knocked on the door to check on us and see if we required anything. As I had slept earlier, I had a few questions that needed answering."
"Oh? What questions?" Callum asked as he slipped off his tunic. Dustin took it from him and went to the chair, draping it around the back of it.
"They pertained to various feelings,..."
"In short, Christian was asking about how to deal with what he and Thomas are discovering and what to do to handle it." Dustin said.
"I see." Callum said. "Well, did you get your answers?"
"Ah, that's too bad, may I help?" Callum asked.
"Actually, you can." Dustin said as he ran a hand over Callum's shoulders, coming up behind him. "Are they still serving supper downstairs?"
"Yes, they are. The innkeeper was saying for about another hour or so. Are you hungry?"
"You know, I think I am." Dustin smiled, as he came beside Callum. "I'll just go downstairs and then let you two talk and get to know one another a little better. I'll be back in just a bit." Dustin smiled.
"Alright, if you must go." Callum gave him a concerned look out of the corner of his eye, as Dustin opened the door and went out, closing it behind him. "Christian, why don't we sit down and we can have a little talk." Callum said, holding out a hand. "I apologize for not having something else to sit on, besides the bed, I hope you don't mind."
"Not at all, it will be fine." Holt said as he sat at the foot of the bed, facing the chair. Callum went and sat down on the chair and tried not to sit back in it against his tunic.
"So what has you asking questions?" Callum asked.
"Well Dustin explained a lot of it, but what I still don't know is how two men can be engaged in, you know, rather intimate..."
"Ah, I understand." Callum rolled his eyes a little, "Well, have you ever been with...?" Holt shook his head, "Have you ever been,...with yourself?"
"What do you mean?"
"Have you ever touched yourself? Pleasured yourself?"
"Oh,...good," Callum struggled slightly, with this whole thing trying to explain it. "Well, there are several ways actually to do it with another man. I find that I often do what he would like to have done first. There is a certain amount of touching, and rubbing, and,..."
"Are you alright with discussing this?"
"You know, as often as I have done it, I suppose I should be, but I am a bit nervous about it and I don't understand why, actually."
"I can discuss this another time or with another..."
"No,...no, it's alright," Callum said, and took in a deep breath and then let it out slowly, "I suppose I just need to relax about it and just tell you." Callum gave him a brief smile. "You see, when you touch another man in certain places, well, as you know, you can bring on certain other desires and feelings that become very animal like. Men are very strong anyway, but aroused, they can become even stronger, and you can work that to your advantage so to speak. I find that the more I forceful, the more that it is returned back to me, and I enjoy that very much. And then there are times when I really enjoy a very soft and tender moment where just the lightest touch can send you to the clouds as it were. You just need to know what it is that the other person wants, and that is between you two, discovering it as you go." Callum was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Excuse me a moment." Callum said, going to the door and opening it. "Thomas, we were just having a discussion about you, in a roundabout way." Callum said as he opened the door wider. "Do come in." Tomlin came in and saw Holt on the foot of the bed, in a strange shirt, and his undergarments.
"What were you discussing?" Tomlin came around and walked up in front of Holt, "I woke and you weren't there. I became very worried, are you alright?"
"Yes, I am. Actually I woke up myself and couldn't go back to sleep. Dustin came to the door and, rather than wake you, I came here."
"I see. And what did Dustin want?"
"He wanted to know if we required anything before he retired for the night."
"Ah." Tomlin said.
"I said that I had many questions about things that were going through my mind, and he offered to hear me out."
"Yes, and so now that Dustin has gone downstairs and left me alone with Christian to discuss what his questions were, I'm certainly relieved that you are here as well." Callum said.
"Why is that?" Tomlin asked Callum.
"Well, perhaps the two of you can discuss this better with each other."
"What's the question?" Tomlin asked the both of them, looking back and forth at each of them.
"Ah, the question, yes, well, the question is rather a delicate one." Callum said, rubbing his hands on his pants as his palms were sweating profusely now. Tomlin was watching his Captain hem and haw about it, looking so nervous.
"Are you going to be alright?" Tomlin asked.
"Yes, I would be, if Dustin would walk back in through the door." Callum rolled his eyes, and Holt smiled softly. Tomlin was lost about everything going on, but was becoming slightly angry as he wasn't getting anywhere. Holt saw it and took Tomlin's hand gently in his.
"My question was, how do two men show intimacy toward one another?" Holt asked, Tomlin went wide eyed and then saw the look on Holt's face and eased himself with it.
"And you thought to ask them?" Tomlin asked with wide eyes.
"Certainly, it seemed the right thing to do, as they seem to be intimate with one another." Holt said and Callum cleared his throat a couple of times.
"Oh, excuse me." Callum said, clearing his throat again.
"Christian, I can understand that we are both rather naïve in all of this, but understand that there is a first time for everyone, wouldn't you agree?"
"I do, Thomas, but if I had the knowledge from their experience, then would that not be better for both our sakes? I mean, simply, all I want to do is make you happy."
"Oh, Christian, and I want to make you happy as well," Tomlin said as he dropped to his knee in front of Holt, taking his hand, holding it tight, as Callum watched them both, "but, I think we need to discover this for ourselves, not involve our friends to give us their intimate secrets."
"Oh, thank God." Callum whispered, looking up at the ceiling.
"I,...I'm sorry if I,..."
"You have nothing to be sorry about. We have many things to discuss, My Lord, Earl." Tomlin smiled and then kissed the back of Holt's hand. Holt frowned at him.
"What? What did you say?" Callum asked with wide eyes. Tomlin turned and looked up at him.
"Will you tell him, or shall I?" Tomlin asked Holt.
"I suppose I will." Holt said and shook his head slightly. He looked up at Callum. "My father, he is the ninth Earl of Cambridge."
"Oh dear God." Callum said, with wider eyes now. The door opened and Dustin came back in the room, closing the door behind him.
"Quintan, you were right about the supper being,..." Dustin said and looked at the three of them. Holt, on the bed, Tomlin on his knee before him, holding Holt's hand, Callum standing next to them, all eyes turned and looked at Dustin. "Oh Lord, what did I miss?" Dustin asked softly.
"Actually, quite a bit." Callum said, turning and walking to the other side of the bed and then sitting down. "Thomas, I suppose you didn't know this before you took Christian out of the house, did you?"
"No, I only found a short time ago." Tomlin said. "What does it matter?"
"It can matter quite a great deal actually." Callum said, "Christian, when is your father due back?"
"Possibly a little more than a week, but less than a fortnight."
"I see." Callum said softly.
"Quintan, what is it?" Dustin asked softly.
"Our brave 1st Lieutenant has kidnapped from his home, the tenth Earl of Cambridge, a prestige posting granted by the Duke of York, if I'm not mistaken, is that not so?"
"You are correct." Holt said, still holding Tomlin's hand.
"And I'm afraid that we are all accomplices in that kidnapping, harboring him as we are."
"What? His life was in danger, Thomas acted accordingly, you know that." Dustin said.
"I'm afraid that the House of Lords and the Lord High Chancellor will not see it as such. It is a crime against the Crown, in the highest. If they pursue it, we shall all be hanged." Callum said. "I have to think about this, and what to do."
"That's why the housekeeper said what she said when I carried you out the door." Tomlin said as he looked at Holt.
"Yes. I didn't think it would come to this, but he is right." Holt said.
"Well, we seem to be wanted men all of a sudden. Hmmm, and not in a good way either." Callum said, tapping a finger to his bottom lip. "I have a thought, a slim one, but a thought nonetheless."
"What is it?" Dustin asked as he stepped close to Callum.
"Tomorrow, there will be a meeting at the Admiralty. I'm certain that the Duke will be there." Callum said softly. He took in a deep breath and then let it out slowly. "I will beg a private audience with The Duke and will explain the situation to him. He may be able to interfere on our behalf. If anyone can, he can do it."
"But The Duke, he knows nothing of you, or any of us." Tomlin said, getting to his feet.
"Ah, but that is not entirely true, my lad. The Duke and I had quite the conversation before we spirited Christian away from the surgery. He actually offered me a posting as an advisor. I can use that to our advantage in this situation, if The Duke is there tomorrow."
"He offered you a posting as an advisor?" Dustin asked with wide eyes. "You wouldn't accept such a posting, would you?"
"No, I actually declined it. The Duke understood very clearly." Callum said, looking at Dustin, "Rest assured gentlemen, we will figure this out in some way. I hope."
"I cannot ask you to go out beyond your reach in this." Holt said, as he stood.
"I beg to differ, My Lord, Earl, and standing there in your underwear hardly distinguishes you as a part of the aristocracy, if I may say. We will do what we need to do to continue as we are, to be free men and to guarantee our survival. And Thomas, the next time you feel the need to spirit someone from their bed, please check to see that they are commoners." Callum smiled, Tomlin went wide eyed, Holt chuckled and Dustin could only shake his head as he lowered it.
Callum woke early as he always did, before the dawn. He rolled over and looked at Dustin and smiled wide at the sleeping form that lay next to him, breathing softly in his peaceful state. Callum pulled back the covers and put his feet on the floor as he swung up on the edge of the bed. He stretched out his arms and then stood. He put on his shirt, dropping it over his head, and then reached for his stockings, rolling them up over his feet and then up his legs. He picked up his pants and pulled them on one leg at a time and then buttoned the flap, tucking the shirt in. Callum pulled out his ponytail and fluffed it, letting it hang behind him. He slipped on his buckled shoes and walked to the door and went quietly downstairs.
"Good morning, sir." The innkeeper said with a smile. "Care for coffee?"
"Yes, actually, that would be wonderful, thank you." Callum said with a smile and then sat at one of the tables near the bar. He looked up and saw the pretty young girl come toward the table and poured coffee for him. She seemed to be very tired looking this morning to Callum and not her smiling self. "Something troubles you, young miss?"
"No, sir," She said and looked at him, "I am quite alright this morning."
"You look a bit tired." Callum smiled up at her.
"It was a rather long night for me, sir, that's all."
"I'm sorry, I hope your day is less than eventful so you may try and rest a little."
"Thank you, sir." She smiled, "May I get you some breakfast?"
"Something small, if it's not too much trouble for you?" Callum smiled softly up to her.
"It is no trouble at all, sir." She said and curtsied slightly and then left him. The innkeeper, her father, was watching the two of them, as well as listening to their conversation, being so close to them from the bar. Callum sipped of his coffee and then looked at him. He nodded toward Callum and then turned away. Callum sat back in the chair and sipped his coffee as he waited.
"Good morning, Quintan." Crawford said as he sat down at the table.
"Arthur, good morning. Would you care for coffee?"
"Yes, actually, I think I need some."
"Something troubles you this morning?" Callum asked.
"Yes, I had a rather difficult night last night." Crawford said as he leaned on the table edge.
"You are not alone in that. Our young maiden here had a bad night as well."
"Yes, and Master Perkins was very restless as well. He tossed and turned all night long. It nearly drove me mad." Callum said sipping more coffee.
"I wonder what the problem is." Crawford said as she returned to the table, setting out another cup and a plate for Callum, Crawford looked her over carefully, and couldn't see anything wrong with her medically from what he was seeing, and then frowned as she walked away from the table. "Well, she looks alright." Crawford said, and looked over his shoulder toward her as she returned with a pot. She poured more coffee for both of them and then walked away again. "It must be coincidence."
"Possibly." Callum smiled briefly and then went back to his breakfast. Crawford looked up and saw Dustin walk into the room off the stairs. Crawford smiled as Dustin took up a chair between Callum and Crawford. "Morning." Callum said, then slid his cup over in front of Dustin, "It looks as though you need this far more than I do." Callum smiled briefly.
"Thank you." Dustin said and then picked it up. He sipped from it and then set it down. "Good morning, Doctor." Dustin mumbled.
"Morning, Mr. Perkins. I understand you did not sleep very well."
"No, I did not." Dustin sighed. He sat back in the chair as the girl walked up to the table again. She smiled at Dustin, and he smiled softly back up at her.
"Would either of you care for breakfast?" She asked.
"No, I don't think so, thank you, just another coffee cup, if you will." Dustin smiled.
"No, I really should be going to catch the coach back to Portsmouth." Crawford said. "Hmmm, I wonder if there is something in the water?" Callum looked at Crawford and chuckled. "What's so funny?"
"Dustin and I had more than our fair share of water last night, didn't we?" Callum asked Dustin and got a look that made Callum chuckle even more. "Yes, I think that we did."
"Ah, the baths, did you enjoy it?" Crawford asked Dustin, who did not answer right away he become quiet and sullen. Callum noticed it, and leaned forward.
"I believe he did for the most part." Callum said as he looked at Dustin and then slowly brought his gaze to Crawford. "The steam helped me considerably."
"I can see that." Crawford said. "Your color does look much improved this morning. Do feel any ill effects?"
"Actually, I am able to breathe far better this morning. I think that the steam loosened up the stitches somewhat. I can actually take in a full breath for the first time in quite a while."
"Hmmm, remarkable, I must remember to add that treatment to my little book then." Crawford smiled toward Callum. He got to his feet, picking up his bag. "Well, gentlemen, I must be off. I shall see you upon your return to Portsmouth, I assume."
"Yes, we should be there in another day or so, if everything goes well at the Admiralty this afternoon."
"Be well." Crawford said, taking Callum's hand, and then Dustin's.
"You as well, Arthur." Callum smiled. He watched Crawford walk away toward the door of the inn, as Dustin was looking down at the table. "What troubles you?" Callum asked as he wiped the corners of his mouth with his napkin.
"You jest at my expense." Dustin said quietly.
"On the contrary, I am very upset about what happened last night, actually. And after thinking about it, with you keeping me awake most of the night, I believe something needs to be done about it."
"What do you mean?" Dustin asked as he lifted his head.
"I mean that the Admiral took a few liberties that he should not have. If one is told no, then no should be the answer and be respected, do you not agree?"
"Yes, I do. But, he's an Admiral, I'm an only an able bodied seaman."
"Did he know that?" Callum asked softly.
"He guessed that I was a sailor." Dustin narrowed his eyes.
"Still, that does not grant him permission to take such advantage." Callum said as he sat back in his chair, "Think about it this way, had he made the advance upon me,..."
"You would have acted differently." Dustin said and looked away.
"How do you think I would have acted?" Callum asked and Dustin looked back at him with glaring eyes.
"Oh, I'm certain that you would have been far more forceful in your denying him."
"Then why are you upset?" Callum asked.
"Because I'm not you, I don't do what you do. This is not the first time this has happened. It bothers me." Dustin looked away again.
"When else has it happened?" Callum sat forward again. Dustin still looked away. "Out with it, tell me." Callum said with authority in his voice. Dustin turned and looked at him. His eyes were welling slightly.
"At home, in Birmingham, one of the workmen on the house." Dustin said flatly.
"What? Who?" Callum asked, getting angry.
"It doesn't matter."
"The hell it doesn't. That is your home, and I will not stand for you to be harassed as such in it. Now, who was it?"
"That fellow Hargrove, I think his name is."
"He's the one that was in our room." Callum said, sitting back in the chair. "I'll see about it when we return home to Birmingham."
"Quintan, let it go. I certainly have." Dustin said, easing a bit now.
"No, I don't think so. I will not have you threatened in our home. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, you do." Dustin said softly.
"Good. Understand that as long as I'm alive, I will not let any harm come to you. If it happens, it will be dealt with swiftly, provided that I know of it." Callum said and Dustin shrunk back in his chair, seeing the resolve in Callum's face. "I will not tolerate it." Callum slowly got up from the table, tossing a few coins on it. "I need to go and get prepared as I need to go to Evenington's shop for those new tunics. Would you care to accompany me?"
"Yes, I think I would." Dustin said, getting up from the table as well.
"Good. I think we need to see about our young Lieutenants as well, and see if they survived the night."