"You don't need to eat your breakfast so quickly," Craig chastised Stan the next day as they took their breakfast in their room, the small table set close to the fire. Stan was still dressed in the frail nightgown, hair disheveled as he tucked into a proper spread: scones, fresh coffee, fruit, poached eggs, and thick slices of ham; there was even a pot of clotted cream. "You'll make yourself sick."
Craig, for his part, partook of his normal morning fare: black coffee and a scone with raspberry preserves. He read the paper that McCormick had brought to him, tsking over the events of the day while keeping a close watch on Stan in his peripheral. Very soon, there was a knock at the door, and upon answering, his manservant entered the room, looking immaculate even at such an early hour.
"The carriage is ready, sir," McCormick announced, watching as the orphaned waif scarfed down his breakfast at an alarming rate. "Shall I lay out the clothes we spoke of earlier?"
Craig nodded, thinking of the simple shirtwaist and long skirt he'd also packed along with the nightgown. The skirt was of navy blue muslin, the shirtwaist white, and there were delicate undergarments to go along with the articles, as well as stockings and high button shoes.
"Yes, lay them out and then depart," Craig said, turning back to his newspaper. "We'll be along directly, as soon as our little charge has finished eating everything in sight." He gave him a smile and took a sip of his coffee.
"Oh...I'm sorry...I'm just so hungry..." Stan said, a blush on his cheeks. He moved to gently put down a scone he was eating and looked up at Craig. His hair was still mused from the night of sleeping and he was still in the silky nightie. He actually had a very good nights sleep. The bed was so comfortable! He had a nice warm bath and fire, who knew the rich had it so much better!
"Craig, will I be traveling back to your manor in this?" He asked. He wasn't exactly comfortable wearing girl attire in public.
"Of course not, don't be ridiculous," Craig replied, rolling his eyes before setting the paper aside. "No self-respecting companion of mine would travel in their nightwear. No, I have something suitable for you to travel in, at least until we make it to the shop. Come." Rising, he gestured for Stan to follow, his bare feet whispering over the carpet as he stayed close to Craig's heels, almost like a little duckling.
"Here, these will be perfect for you," he said, gesturing to the feminine garments laid out across the bed. He plucked up the shirtwaist and held it against Stan, liking the effect. "I had one of my maids pack these for you. I had a feeling you'd be small...I'd say we lucked out, hmm?" He pointed to the rest of the articles waiting for Stan to put them on.
"Start undressing," he instructed. "In the future, you'll have your own servants to assist you with dressing, but for now, I'll have to take the reins on this one." Laying the shirtwaist aside, he took up the stockings and shoes. "We'll start with these and then move onto your drawers and chemise, and then the corset..." He snickered. "That will be quite a change, won't it?"
Stan looked confused as he looked down at the outfit Craig had picked out for him. He looked around and cleared his throat a little.
"Umm, Doctor Tucker...why do I have to wear female garments?" He asked, running some fingers through his hair. Seeing the various garments he was supposes to put on was overwhelming. He looked over at Craig and bit his lower lip. "Wouldn't trousers suit me better?" The brunette asked, moving to sit down on the bed, picking up one of the heels.
He started to pull the nightgown off, deciding it would at least be best to do what Craig said.
Stan made quick work of the nightgown, thankfully, and before too long he was naked as the day he was born, shivering even though the fire hadn't yet died down. Craig went to the windows and pulled the curtains shut, already paranoid that someone could look in and see what was meant for his eyes only.
"I'll decide what suits you," Craig said, kneeling before Stan and beginning to gather the stockings. Delicately, he slid the material over Stan's foot and pulled it up; repeating the action with Stan's other foot. The stockings were of a gray material, meant to keep his legs warm amidst the chilly weather. After they were on to Craig's specifications, he slid the shiny shoes onto Stan's feet, swiftly closing them with the button hook.
Leaning back on his heels, Craig appraised the effect the stockings and shoes had on an otherwise unclothed Stan. If anything, they just made him appear more naked, which excited Craig to no end.
"Stand for me," he said, crouching down and holding out the linen drawers for Stan to step into; he pulled them up. After a moment, he settled the chemise on Stan's upper half, almost resembling a loose cotton tank top. Grinning, he turned and plucked up the corset for Stan to see.
"Are you ready?"
"What is that?" Stan asked, looking confused at he garment Craig was holding up. Most women who were lower class didn't wear such things so, he wasn't use to them. He was already uncomfortable standing in a skirt and stockings. He could imagine if he was back home and his friends all saw him like this. They would probably be laughing their breeches off till the sun went down.
"Do I look...strange in these garments? Won't people stare at me?" Stan asked. He hated being the center of attention. He was happy the clothing was at least warm, he was still freezing! But, he knew he had to look absolutely foolish in them. People would see a young man dressed in female attire, they would think that strange, they would think he was some sort of deviant loon.
"Never mind them," Craig said, slipping the corset over Stan's head and adjusting it. "You'll discover soon enough that the opinions of others don't mean anything. The only opinion you should worry about is mine, but you'll learn that as we go along...."
Nudging him toward the bedpost, Craig instructed Stan to hold on tightly as he pulled on the corset's stays.
"This will give you a nice hourglass figure...it's the fashion these days, you know," he grunted, pulling as hard as he could. He watched as Stan's already small waist was molded nicely, his sides curved in exquisitely. Tying them tightly, Craig pressed a hand on his waist, relishing in how diminutive it was now.
"Perfect," he murmured, slipping the shirtwaist over Stan's head and adjusting it. After a moment, he tweaked one of his dark locks. "We'll need to do something about this too, of course."
Stan let out a cry of pain as he felt Craig put the corset on him, tightening it up and making it feel like his insides were being squeezed together. He noticed right away it was harder to breathe. He tried to take in a deep breath and found himself gasping for air. He moved to grab onto the bed post just so he wouldn't fall! How did anyone wear these things!? He certainly hoped Craig wouldn't make him wear one very often... He hoped he would be able to wear regular male clothes again. He wondered why he was being made to dress in women's clothing...
"What's...wrong with my hair?" Stan asked, taking in another deep breath as he just tried to breathe. "And...Doctor...this thing...it hurts...I can't breathe well." He said, figuring Craig would want to know considering the man was a doctor. "Can I...take it off...I don't think I can travel in it..." He said, moving to put his hands to the back of the garment, feeling the leather strands that were tied and holding it shut.
He couldn't help but smile as he adjusted Stan's clothing, almost thinking of him as a little porcelain doll he could modify to his specifications. He had to admit that the clothes were becoming to him, and the slender curve of his waist was exceptionally fetching. Little did Stan know that he was already being trained in that regard; as he adapted they would lace the device tighter and tighter until Craig could span his waist with his hands. Anticipation flooded him at this idea; after all, a small waist was a coveted achievement in society.
"Your hair is fine, dear," he said, coming back from his reverie. Taking up the comb, he began to brush the dark strands carefully off of Stan's forehead. "Really, it's very lovely considering your upbringing, but it really should be longer. But everything in its own time, right?"
Once he was satisfied with Stan's tresses, Craig pinched his cheeks to bring some color into them.
"We shall have to consult Heidi about your toilet upon arriving back at the manor," he commented, nodding his head at the pink roses blooming in the places he'd pinched. "But for now, this will have to do. Besides, you aren't a harlot, and I've never taken to painted women. You're just lucky you have such a nice complexion." Smiling, he patted Stan on the head. "I think you'll do for now. Sit on the bed and wait while I attend to myself."
Swiftly, Craig dressed himself in his standard attire: trousers of high-quality material held up with cream-colored suspenders, a loose, white shirt, and a charcoal suit with a matching vest beneath. He tucked his watch into his pocket before adjusting his cranberry ascot, and then pulled his button-ups on, muttering the whole time as he worked the button hook.
"There has to be a more efficient way to go about this," he said, cursing when one of the buttons slipped out. "You'd think in this day and age modern man could come up with shoes that don't have so many blasted buttons."
Standing, he went to the mirror and assessed himself, running a hand through his hair. Turning back to Stan, he smiled slowly.
"Well, shall I do?"
"Okay...I don't know how anyone can get use to this, it feels like my insides are going to explode out of me." Stan said, his breathing still shallow as he did as he was told and sat on the bed while Craig finished getting ready.
He had to admit the older man was quite handsome, especially in his expensive attire and slicked back hair. He had heard his manservant refer to him as a lord, was Craig not only a doctor but nobility? No wonder he was so well respected! But how did his parents, a loving but poor couple, ever know such a wealthy family?
He was brought out of his thoughts when his cheeks were pinched.
"Ow!" He cried out, rubbing his cheek after it was attacked. "Um...why does it matter if my cheeks are rosy? I didn't think that was something men did, just ladies."
"Oh, so you want to look like a cadaver?" Craig asked, giving Stan a deadpan look. He also frowned at the boy's colorful way of expressing himself. "Your insides aren't going to 'explode out of you'; don't be vulgar." Straightening his ascot, he spoke while watching Stan in the mirror. "Like I said, you'll get used to it. Just give it time. Come along."
Shortly thereafter, they were being conveyed to the dress shop McCormick had located, the stallions pulling the carriage gleaming under the early morning sun. His manservant had clearly attended to his duties just like he would at home: rising at dawn to feed and water the beasts before hitching them to the carriage. McCormick had always been tight-lipped and stoic, but he was loyal to a fault, which Craig appreciated immensely. He also knew that the man was old hat with a blade, and would stick it between the ribs of a would-be assailant with nary a second thought. That was part of the reason Craig had hired him years before: the man had talents surpassing that of a normal, everyday butler.
It wasn't long before the carriage was rolling up to the shop and McCormick was opening their doors, once again helping Stan onto the pavement. Craig came 'round, holding his arm out for Stan to take.
"I don't want to hear you complaining about your corset while we're being attended to," he said, nodding his head to a pair of ladies passing by on the sidewalk, appearing demure and behaved while shielding themselves with delicate parasols. He pointed to the pretty articles that were dripping with rows of lace.
"We should get you a few of those as well," he said, liking their look. "I mean, you're pale now, but it never hurts to be cautious when it comes to the sun."
Opening the door, he held it for Stan as he nodded at McCormick, who stayed behind with the horses who were frisking at the traffic going by; shying even though they were wearing blinders. The manservant easily steadied them, being an old hat with horses as well.
Stepping into the shop, Craig breathed in the scents of lavender and talcum, holding Stan close. Before long, a matronly looking woman bustled up to them from the back, portly but smartly-dressed in a gown of pine green. She smiled at the sight of them, her hands clasped together.
"Good morning," she chirped, catching Craig's eye. "And how can I help such a fine gentleman this morning?" She turned to Stan, beaming. "And such a pretty lass on your arm, too! Why, aren't you lucky, sir?"
"No...I suppose not..." Stan said when Craig mentioned he didn't want to look dead. He just didn't understand the rich, they were so different then everyone else. "And I'm sorry...I didn't mean to be crass..." He said, feeling bad that he had upset the doctor. He didn't see what was so wrong about it, but, apparently for Craig, it was.
"I promise I won't mess with the corset..." He said, feeling the carriage stop. He watched as both McCormick and Craig got out, McCormick helping him out of the carriage. He watched as some ladies with parasols walked by and Craig mentioned he should have one. "They are...pretty... My mother used to have one." He said, taking Craig's arm as he was led to the shop. He watched as they got close to the shop and were greeted by an older woman in a nice green dress.
"Thank you..." Stan said softly, looking up at Craig for direction. What was going on here? Was he finally going to get some trousers.
"I thank you for the compliment but he isn't a lass," Craig said, laughing lightly. "Just a very pretty boy in need of a new frock. You see, we're far from home and he can't travel for so long in the same garments." He gestured to Stan's shirtwaist and skirt. "It wouldn't be seemly. You understand."
"Ah, yes. I see," she replied, raising an eyebrow but keeping her thoughts to herself. A paying customer was a paying customer, after all. Besides, who was she to judge the strange preoccupations of the upper crust? "What shall he have then? He'll need to be measured, of course."
"Of course," Craig said, glancing at Stan and making quick decisions. "Something simple, I imagine, yet tasteful. Blue, to match his eyes."
"They are pretty, aren't they?" She asked, peering into Stan's face. "I think I know exactly what he needs, but it will take some time to make."
"Oh, at least a day, sir. Maybe longer. Did you want a lot of ornamentation?"
"Not if it will impede our leaving," he replied, cocking an eyebrow. He sighed and pulled out his wallet, opening it and exposing a large roll of bills. He noticed the woman eyeing them hungrily. "How quickly can you have it done for this amount?" He asked, pulling out a few.
"Oh, for that I could make it in half a day, but I won't sacrifice the quality," she said, her brown eyes illuminated with anticipation. "Will he need anything else? Undergarments? Nightgowns?"
"Yes, but maybe not as simplistic as what he'll be traveling in." Craig liked seeing the objects of his affection outfitted in ornate underthings: lace, ruffles, a bow here and there. He turned to Stan and placed a hand on his shoulder. "She's going to measure you, alright? Just do what she says."
"Yes, come along, dear. I won't bite," she said, reaching out to the boy. "What is your name, by the by?"
Before Stan could speak, Craig broke in, his hand tightening on Stan's shoulder.
"Leia, his name's Leia."
"So lovely," she gushed, gladly receiving the boy as he was pushed forward by his clearly filthy rich benefactor. "Come with me, now. There's a good lad."
Stan looked extremely confused when Craig told the seamstress his name was Leia. Last he checked, that was a girl's name and he was named Stanley Marsh. He was about to tell the woman otherwise until he felt a strong hand squeezing his shoulder tightly. He was surprised Craig had given the woman a female name but told her he was a boy.... This was all so confusing, it was starting to make his head hurt. Why were things so different when it came to the wealthy. Were their other boys that dressed in female garments and given new names? Was this just the norm, something he had never heard of because of his place in society.
He just nodded his head and moved to go near the woman, standing on a little raised platform so she could properly measure him. Their was a long mirror in front of him and he saw his reflection for the first time in days. God, he did look like a girl... If he was just walking down the street and saw himself like this, he would think he was a girl...
The woman sighed and began removing Stan's outer things until he was standing there in his corset, chemise, and drawers. She studied him with a critical eye before turning back to Craig.
"Did you want to lace him tighter, or should I just work with the size of his waist as it is?"
Craig looked at the 3-way mirror, appraising Stan from every angle, admiring the narrowness of his neck, his shoulders...his shoulder blades sharp when he shifted. His focus lingered on Stan's waist for a moment, considering.
"Might as well keep it as is," he said, unable to keep the disappointment from his voice. "I had a hell of a time getting it to that size, to tell you the truth."
She nodded, clucking her tongue in understanding.
"It can be a trial, can't it? Glad I don't have to worry about such things anymore," she replied, laughing. "My debut was years ago, I'm afraid."
"One would hardly be able to tell," Craig said, managing to keep a straight face. The woman had to be at least fifty years or more.
"Oh, you," she said, stretching our her measuring tape and beginning to attend to Stan. "You know, you don't have to watch, sir. This part can be very time-consuming; not to mention, boring."
Craig glanced at Stan, catching his eye in the mirror, his expression stern.
"Behave," he said simply, before turning. "I'll go and visit with McCormick while you're being taken care of by Mrs -" he paused, looking at the woman over his shoulder, his eyebrows raised.
"Danders. Mrs. Danders, sir."
"Yes, well, listen to Mrs. Danders and do as you're instructed," Craig said, stepping out of the shop and into the cool air, the bells over the door tinkling as it shut.
When Stan watched Craig leave he looked at himself in the mirror and then down at his feet. This...wasn't right, this couldn't be normal, even for the upper class. The man was calling him Leia, having him dressed in female clothing, and forcing him to wear a torture device around his waist that made it hard to breathe! He may not have been the smartest when it came to book smarts, but, he had street smarts, something one had to have if they were poor. He could tell this was bad, and, he had to get out. He knew Amir had good intentions, but, obviously he didn't know this Doctor as well as he thought...
He moved to look at the woman, Mrs Danders, and gently stepped off the raised platform.
"I-I'm sorry...but I need to get out of here." He said, starting to remove the corset from his waist. He took in a deep breath when he was actually able to breathe again. "Please don't tell him where I went." He begged, grabbing the shirt he had been wearing earlier and slipping it on.
He didn't know what Craig had planned, but, it was becoming more and more obvious it wasn't good. He would have much better luck on the streets!
He saw their was a back door and moved to slip out of it, trying to be as quiet as he could. He saw Craig talking to McCormick and bit his lower lip, keeping close to the wall as he tried to get out of sight. Once he thought he was in the clear, he took off running.
"Gotta get outta here! That guy...he is bad...I can feel it..."
Mrs. Danders could hardly believe what she was seeing as the boy removed the corset and slipped through the backdoor of the shop, appearing terrified as he took flight. She was left standing there, mouth open, as the tape measure dangled from her hands. For a moment, she debated with herself, wanting to be sympathetic to the way the boy had implored her not to say anything, but then she remembered the money the gentleman had offered, and her need to survive superseded her mercy.
"Lord, forgive me," she muttered, crossing herself as she hurried to the front door and yanked it open, looking 'round for the gentleman. Spying him with an ominous-looking man with an eye patch, she called to him, making him turn in surprise.
"What, what is it?" He asked, his voice sharp as he came over, the strange man on his heels.
"He's run away," she said, shrinking into herself as the eye-patched man seemed to tense up at her words. The gentleman's face remained impassive and he sighed, rubbing his mouth with one gloved hand.
"Well, he certainly didn't come out the front, we would've seen him," he said, almost like he was talking to himself. He slid his eyes back to hers. "Do you have a backdoor to your establishment."
"Yes, sir. It leads to the alley. He escaped through it just moments ago."
"McCormick," Craig said, turning to him. "You know what to do."
"Yes, sir," he said, nodding politely to Mrs. Danders before he turned away. After a few steps, he broke into a sprint, rounding the shop almost in the blink of an eye.
"If anyone can catch him, he can," Craig said, smiling at Mrs. Danders now. He tapped his chin, ruminating for a moment. "I don't believe I ever gave you my name, did I? I'm Dr. Craig Tucker."
"Oh, yes," she said, hardly knowing what to say in light of current circumstances. She was starting to think she shouldn't have outed the boy to this strange doctor, but it was water under the bridge at this point.
McCormick had to admit he wasn't happy with this turn of events. One moment, he'd been minding his own business while tending to the horses and making idle conversation with the Master, and now he was off on a wild goose chase; pursuing an orphan that was proving to be more trouble than he was worth. True, he felt some pity for the boy, but his allegiance was to Dr. Tucker, not a wayward, gangling waif.
Looking down the alleyway, he saw disturbed ashcans and boxes knocked askew, the telltale signs of someone fleeing without regards to where they were headed. He sighed as he began to run, easily skirting the disturbed articles and knowing that Stan couldn't make it very far, not in the ridiculous shoes Dr. Tucker had him in, not to mention the layers of garments he'd been forced into. Ladies were not supposed to run, at least not wealthy ones, and their clothing reflected this fact.
Coming to the mouth of the alley, he had to fight back a groan when he spied a very disheveled, hysterical Stan trying to plead with a constable, who was merely staring at the boy like he had no idea what to make of him. Straightening his attire and his eye patch, McCormick approached them, his face sliding into its usual stoic mask.
"Can I be of some assistance here?" He asked, wanting to throttle the boy for being so aggravating. "I see that you've located my charge, sir." He looked at Stan and managed to smile, though it hurt his mouth to do so.
"Did you get lost?"
Stan was in tears as he plead with the officer to help him. He could see the man was confused, probably thinking he was insane or in hysterics, considering he still looked like a girl.
The officer raised a brow as he looked over at Kenny. "Is this girl yours? Poor thing is shaking like a leaf." He said, moving to put a hand on Stan's shoulder. He laughed a little. "I have a daughter of my own, I know how a woman gets when she goes into hysterics." He said with a small smile. "Go on Lass, go with your servant." He said, moving to give Stan a little push towards Kenny.
"N-No! You don't understand!" Stan cried out, knowing it was a stupid decision to go to an officer for help. Of course they weren't going to help him! He just didn't know what else to do! He looked around and decided to make another break for it, running past the officer and McCormick.
He didn't care that he was knocking over people and objects as he tried to get into the town, hoping maybe he could just blend in with a crowd of people. His feet hurt so bad, running in these shoes was nearly impossible! But, he had to get away! He felt tears run down his cheeks as he found himself in an alley, resting his back against the wall, taking in deep breaths.
"Please God...don't let them find me..." He pleaded. "Please...please..." He begged, his lower lip quivering.
"Excuse me," McCormick said before taking off behind Stan, nodding his head slightly before picking up his pace. He could see him weaving in and out of countless people, his dark hair nearly becoming lost in the crowd as McCormick pursued him. At one point, he did lose sight of him, and he cursed under his breath as he stopped a rather annoyed-looking woman on the street who was in the process of straightening her flamboyant, oversized hat; the ostrich feather in the front drooping pathetically.
"Did you see someone run through here like the Devil himself was on their heels?" He asked, his breathing not labored yet; hell, he hadn't even broken a sweat. The only thing he worried about was returning to the doctor empty-handed.
"Yes, and she was very rude," the woman sniffed, righting her skirts. "Nearly knocked me over and didn't even stop to apologize!"
"Where did she go?" McCormick said with a wave of his hand, not wanting to hear the woman's complaints.
"That way," the woman pointed. "I saw her turn down an alley."
"Thank you," he replied, bowing quickly before beginning to run again. He'd had a feeling that Stan's flight through the crowd would ruffle some feathers, quite literally, and he had not been disappointed. As he approached the alley, he slowed, not wanting his footsteps to alert the boy to his presence. Carefully, he advanced to its entry, peering around the corner and almost heaving a sigh of relief when he spotted Stan pressed against the bricks, crying like his heart was breaking.
It only took a matter of seconds for McCormick to close the space between them, and before Stan could react he was clutching his arm and shaking him slightly.
"Have you taken leave of your senses?" He barked, shaking him harder. "What were you thinking running off like that? Do I look like I enjoy pursuing petulant, bratty children? Well, do I?!"
"Let go of me!" Stan cried out, wincing in pain when the manservant grabbed him and started to shake him hard. "Y-You're hurting me!" He added, before shaking his head. "I-I...don't want to go back...just let me go!" He pleaded, tears running down his cheeks as he felt his arm start to bruise thanks to the tight grip McCormick had on him. He was scared, what was this man going to do to him? What was the Doctor going to do? Honestly, that scared him more...
He felt his lower lip quiver and he knew their was no escaping, at least not now. He heard footsteps coming towards them and he knew it had to be Craig.
McCormick could only roll his eye as Stan tried to fight him, flailing like a rat in a trap and not getting anywhere. Turning, he could see the Master approaching, and he held the boy up, even as he fought and cried.
"It would seem he doesn't want to come with us, sir," he said, ignoring the way Stan continued to kick him; unflinching.
"Well, that's too bad, isn't it?" Craig asked, advancing on them before staring at Stan for a few moments. There wasn't a hint of rage in his countenance as he studied him, if anything he appeared bored; put-upon, but not overly excited about what had just occurred. Slowly, he began to remove one of his gloves before he reared back suddenly, bringing his hand around and cracking it sharply against Stan's cheek.
"That's for disobeying me," he announced calmly before he backhanded the boy on the opposite cheek, his expression never changing. "And that's for inconveniencing McCormick. Apologize to him. Now."
"Let go!" He screamed one more time, deciding to make one last attempt to escape. He kicked the butler's legs and tried to free his arm from his tight grip.
Stan let out a scream of pain when he was backhanded. Craig was strong, stronger than he appeared, and, his blows did not fall softly upon his cheeks. He continued to cry, kicking his legs a bit as he tried to free himself. "I-I don't want to go with you! Please...just leave me here! I don't want whatever you have in store for me! You won't even tell me what is going on!" Stan cried out. "Why did you tell that woman...my name is Leia!? Why are you dressing me in female clothing!? I-I at least have some right to know!" He screamed, his body shaking as tears continued to flow from his big blue eyes.
"How rapidly you're trying to rise above your station, my fine young friend," Craig laughed, caressing one of Stan's tear-stained, reddened cheeks. "Demanding answers like you've a right to them. You're very amusing, aren't you?"
"Sir, we're arousing suspicion," McCormick said out of the corner of his mouth, taking note of passersby who were watching the spectacle with curiosity.
"Of course we are," Craig sighed, smiling at the rubberneckers before moving to shield Stan from their sight. He leaned down, getting very close to his face while taking a hold of his chin; squeezing it tightly. "I will call you whatever I see fit, as will my staff," he said, gesturing to McCormick. "If I wanted to name you something awful that's what you would go by, because you are under my care, and I make the rules. Now," he said, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a bottle, "I find the name Leia very becoming to you, so there really isn't any reason why you shouldn't accept it."
Letting go of Stan's chin, he withdrew a spoon from his breast pocket, flitting his eyes to McCormick momentarily.
"Make sure he doesn't move, and open his mouth."
McCormick did so, taking a hold of Stan's cheeks and pressing inward as hard as he could without doing the boy permanent damage. With a practiced eye, Craig poured some of the bottle's contents into the spoon before glancing at him.
"I'd like to think of myself as an opportunistic man," he said, placing the spoon between Stan's lips and tipping it. He nodded to his manservant. "Shut his mouth, and keep it closed until he swallows."
Nodding, McCormick followed Craig's instructions to the letter, smoothly shutting Stan's mouth by pushing under his chin, his hand unmoving so he couldn't open it up. Craig watched impassively until a smile crested his mouth.
"I saw an opportunity with you and I took it," he continued, brushing some of Stan's hair from his forehead. "I'm going to mold you into what suits my tastes, and what's more, you're going to like it before all is said and done. Now, what do you say to that?"
Stan tried to spit out whatever the Doctor had given him. It was foul tasting and strong! He found McCormick forcing his mouth shut and making him swallow the mystery liquid.
It would only take moments, but, soon enough, he was having a hard time focusing on what Craig was saying. The man was claiming he was going to mold him to his tastes? What did that mean!? He didn't like the sound of that. Everything started to become hazy, almost like he was in a fog. He felt his eyelids start to droop as he looked over to where Craig was standing. The man had such a pleasant smile on his face, it often made him think of stories he had read from the Bible. Having grown up in a strong Catholic family he remembered it saying the devil would come in the form of an attractive man...
Before he knew it, he was passed out, everything going black.
Bebe hardly knew what to make of the creature sacked out on the ornate bed, dressed in a long, ruffled nightgown of white muslin, their dark hair obscured by a frilly nightcap tied beneath their chin. They were sleeping soundly, diminutive chest rising and falling with every deep breath, not even stirring when she stole into the room, readying to tend to the fire, which was quickly dying down.
"You aren't to wake her," Master Tucker had said when he'd given Bebe her orders. "She's been dosed with laudanum and she'll need to sleep it off."
"Aye," she'd replied, though she'd been filled with questions, but she'd known better than to question her employer about anything. She'd noticed McCormick standing in his usual place, behind and to the left of the Master, stoic and reserved like always. She'd get no help from him, at least not at the moment.
Now she was trying to be as quiet as possible as she stoked the fire, replacing the logs with new ones and emptying the ashes into her ashcan. Moving slowly, she was almost done when she accidentally dropped the poker, the sound crashing through the room.
"Oh, hell!" She yelled before she could stop herself, clutching her hand to her mouth and looking over at the bed, eyes wide. So much for following the Master's orders.
Stan felt his eyes snap open when he heard the fireplace poker fall down. He slowly started to sit up and looked around. Last he remembered he was in an alley trying to escape...then he had been given a strange liquid and everything went dark. He moved to put a hand to his head and felt a small night cap covering his dark locks. He pulled heavy covers back and saw he was in a rather frilly and ornate nightgown.
"Where...am I?" He asked softly, looking around when he noticed he was in some kind of large bedroom. He looked over at the blond woman in his room.
"Who are you...? Where am I?" He asked, trying to get out of the bed but finding himself to weak to get out.
Bebe was frantic when she'd seen the girl stirring, knowing that the Master would chastise her severely for not doing as she was told. Going to the bedside, she was on the verge of tears as she begged for forgiveness.
"I'm so sorry, miss; I didn't mean to wake you! I was clumsy and dropped -"
She stopped when she saw how incoherent the girl seemed, becoming confused and even more curious. The Master had said that she'd been given laudanum so it made sense that she'd be groggy, but she didn't seem to have any idea where she was.
"You're at Tucker Estates," Bebe replied cautiously, trying not to give too much away. Servants were supposed to listen and observe; they weren't supposed to divulge their betters' secrets unless they could get something out of it. "I'm Bebe. I've been assigned to tend to your needs, dress you...things like that." She glanced at the fire, apprehension plucking at her nerves.
"I was just building up your fire," she continued, looking back at the wan face beneath the lacy cap. "I didn't mean to awaken you. Please forgive me." She looked down at her shoes peeking out from beneath her long skirts. "I'll understand if you tell the Master what I've done."
Stan was confused and shook his head. "The Master? Who is the Master?" He asked, letting out a groan. "My head hurts...and I'm so thirsty..." He said, looking around a little bit more.
"Bebe? You are my...servant?" He asked, taking in a deep breath. He looked next to his beside and noticed various bottles and vials scattered across, along with an ornate candle holder that was flickering a little.
He moved his hands down his body. "I'm still wearing a corset? No wonder I can't breathe..." He said, before putting a hand to his heart.
"Where is Craig?" He asked softly.
"Why, he's in his study, just like he always is at this time of the evening," Bebe replied, perplexed. "Why wouldn't you be wearing a corset to bed, miss? All ladies do, to keep up their figures."
Glancing at the door, she bit her lip while she tried to piece together answers to the questions she'd been pelted with. What was the Master getting himself into now?
"Craig," she managed to say, though her tongue almost wouldn't work as she uttered the name aloud (a servant using their superior's first name? It just wasn't done!), "is the Master. He owns all of this, but I'm sure you already knew that. And, yes, I'm your servant. Shall I get you some tea if you're thirsty? You've been asleep for so long, ever since you all returned last night."
Leaning forward, she couldn't help but smile.
"I heard through the grapevine that you slept through almost the entire journey," she said, winking. "It's okay, miss. Plenty of ladies indulge in laudanum from time to time. I've even heard that some of 'em visit those opium dens, but I'm sure the Master would never let you do that. It would be so unseemly!"
Stan just looked confused and shook his head, trying to get his wits again. This woman was his servant, her name was Bebe and she tonight he was a woman... Well this certainly was something. Also apparently Craig had drugged him in order to make the journey easier and so he wouldn't run away.
"I would like some water please..." He managed to say before biting his lower lip. He looked at the bottles on the nightstand.
"I want to speak to Craig and...I want to know what those are..." He said, pointing to the strange vials full of strange liquid.
"Yes, of course," Bebe replied, nodding and beginning to move away before she could say something out of turn. She knew that the Master liked to experiment in his line of work, so the bottles on the nightstand probably had something to do with that, but she was in no place to tell anyone what they contained. Hurrying from the room, she ran smack dab into Master Tucker, as soon as she'd made it into the corridor.
"She's awake, I take it," he said, giving her a wry look as the gaslights lit upon his hair; dark and swept neatly back. "Did she wake naturally, or...."
"I'm sorry, sir," she said, her voice beginning to tremble as she stared at the floor, her hands clenched before her. "I didn't mean to disturb her, but -"
"Never mind," he interrupted, his voice surprisingly calm. "What did she say?"
Bebe looked up, fearful of saying too much and too little at the same time. Once again, she was taken aback at how handsome the Master was; on the surface, anyway.
"She...she seems confused," she admitted, her lower lip trembling. "And she wanted to know where she is...and she asked about the bottles on her nightstand."
"And what did you tell her?"
"That she was at Tucker Estates, and that I'm her servant. I didn't say a word about the bottles, sir; I don't know anything about them."
"No, you don't, do you?" He smiled pleasantly. "Where are you off to now, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Oh, no, of course not, sir," she replied, feeling like she was being baited; it wouldn't be the first time. "I'm off to the kitchen to fetch her some water. She said she was thirsty."
"Go on, then," he said, nodding as if he approved this idea. "Bring her a pot of tea as well, and something to eat. She hasn't had a proper tuck-in in quite some time."
"Yes, sir," she said, bowing her head and moving away. At the last moment, she turned, uncertain if what she was about to ask was going to elicit a punishment. She firmed her resolve, though. "What am I to call her, sir? You never told me her name."
"It's Leia," he said, pushing the door to Stan's room open. "Instruct the rest of the staff to address her as such."
She nodded and hurried away.
Walking into the fire-lit chamber, Craig smiled at Stan indulgently.
"I should start calling you Sleeping Beauty," he commented, going to Stan's bed and sitting on the edge, right next to him. "You were out for quite a while, little one."
Stan's eyes went wide when he saw Craig. "Doctor Tucker...what is going on? Please, I beg of you, tell me what you have planned for me." He pleaded. "I thought I would be a servant but...this room is not a servants quarters and my nightgown looks very...fancy..." He said, rubbing his eyes. "My head hurts..." He added, starting to tear up a little. "I'm scared and I don't know what's happening..." He said, tears slowly starting to run down his cheeks. He was so emotional...
He started to softly cry, resting his face in his hands as he felt them become damp from the tears. "And that girl...Bebe? She didn't do anything wrong...please don't be mad at her."
"Don't worry about her," Craig said, brushing a hand over Stan's cheek when he finally looked up, clearing away a few tears. "No harm will come to her, I promise. It was about time you woke up, anyway." Looking around the room, he sighed softly. "You know, this used to be my younger sister's room before she married and moved on. The colors were chosen to complement her complexion, but they may not be suitable for you."
He looked at Stan, appraising him like he would a piece of art.
"I think blues and creams would work well for you," he decided. "I'll have McCormick start on the renovations soon. He won't be doing them of course," he added, laughing lightly. "Even he has his limits."
Standing, he went around the bed and picked up one of the bottles, opening it. A tiny white pill slid into his palm. He capped the bottle and replaced it.
"Aspirin, for your headache," he said, placing it in Stan's hand after he came to sit beside him again. "Bebe's gone to fetch you water and something to eat, so you'll take it when she returns."
Lifting Stan's other hand, he held it to his cheek, marveling at its softness; its fragility.
"As for being afraid, there's no need for that," he said, continuing to press the small hand to his face. Suddenly, he kissed it, his lips lingering as he caught Stan's eyes. "All I'm doing is making you into who you were meant to be. Someone I can love and admire...how is that a bad thing?"
"You don't have to paint a room just for me..." He said softly, looking down at his lap as he watched Craig give him a small white pill. When he explained it was aspirin he nodded his head. "Thank you..." He said softly, his eyes going wide when he felt lips press to the back of his hand. He was surprised at how tender Craig's kiss was, how sweet he was being. Somehow he wanted to just fall into that, think this man was trying to save him, but, he knew better, he could not trust this man...
"Making me into someone? What does that mean? I can't be loved and admired as I am now?" He asked. "What is so wrong with me that you feel I have to be changed?" He added, before looking back at the vials again. "And...what are in those bottles? Did you give me something while I was sleeping?" He asked, letting out a small cry as he tried to sit up more. He sniffled and moved to wipe some tears away. "And...what did you give me in the alley? I've never slept that long before..."
"If you weren't worthwhile I wouldn't even be bothering to change you, even slightly," Craig replied easily. "I see so much potential in you. Why not bring it out?"
He turned at the sound of a knock at the door, setting Stan's hand down as he told the person on the other side to enter. Bebe walked in, carrying a tray with a teapot, a glass of iced water, and a plate of toast.
"I kept it simple, sir," she explained, setting the tray down on the bedside table closest to Stan. "I wasn't sure how strong the lady's appetite would be, just having woken up and all."
"This is perfect," Craig replied, plucking up the glass of water and handing it to Stan. "Thank you, Bebe."
She curtsied, flushing at the praise.
"Sir." She hesitated as she watched her mistress put something into her mouth and washed it down with the water. "Shall I leave, or..."
"Stay," he said, beginning to prepare tea for himself and Stan. "You'll need to hear what I'm about to say, as it will directly impact your daily duties." He Plopped a sugar cube into one of the delicate cups and began to stir, the silver tinkling against the fine china. "You are to attend to your mistress every morning as soon as dawn breaks. I want her fire tended to before she even opens her eyes. Is that understood?"
"And you're to help her dress," he continued, doctoring the other cup of tea. "She hasn't a clue how to go about it, poor dear, but you'll show her how to manage her toilet, won't you?"
She nodded, glancing at the girl every now and again. Picking up the cups, Craig handed one to Stan once he'd finished with his water. He brushed a finger over his lower lip, feeling its plumpness.
"Now, you may see some things you won't be expecting while dressing her," Craig continued, turning back to Bebe. "But you aren't to mention them. If you do, and I hear about it, you will be punished. Do I make myself clear?"
"W-well, yes, sir. Of course, I'd never speak out of turn," Bebe stuttered, feeling more confused by the second.
"Good, and see that she takes her vitamins every day, as soon as she's woken up," Craig said, waving to the bottles on the nightstand. "I've marked them so you'll know which ones she should take. You mustn't forget." He gave her a stern look; a look that made her begin to tremble. She just nodded.
"Wonderful," he said, sipping his tea slowly. Glancing at Stan, he felt an overwhelming tenderness as he saw him as he was meant to be, not as he was. "You should be excited, Leia," he added, taking a hold of his hand and squeezing it.
"We'll make a proper woman of you, yet; of this I promise."