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My Fair Lady

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Dr. Craig Tucker had had a long, trying day of tending to patients and incidentals pertaining to his estate, and he was tired; very tired. He was so tired, in fact, that he'd opted to forgo the dinner party he'd been invited to by one Lady Testaburger, and was instead imbibing on expensive brandy before a roaring fire. He'd loosened his tie and put his feet up on an expensive velvet ottoman, and was just in the process of properly unwinding when a knock came at the door of his study, pulling him from his reverie and his libation respectively.

"Yes, what is it?" He snapped, sitting up and straightening himself, having never become accustomed to allowing himself to look disheveled in front of anyone, even if it was only McCormick entering the room holding a silver tray. He held it up, his face impassive and his one good eye (the other covered by an eye patch) catching the firelight and gleaming blue.

"You've received a letter by special post, sir," he said, looking impeccable in his black livery, every blonde hair in place. "Shall I open it for you?"

"Never mind," Craig muttered, standing from his place after setting his snifter aside. He went to his desk and retrieved a silver letter opener and returned, snatching the letter from the tray and glaring at it. The envelope was a creamy white and had been sealed with maroon wax, an unfamiliar crest set in the molding. His name was on the front, written in curlicue writing of black ink. Sneering, he slashed the article open and slipped out a single sheet of paper, the same swirly writing marching across the page:

Dear Dr. Tucker,

I'm afraid this letter has been sent to you during a time of dire straights for my family. You see, my beloved wife, Shelly O'Rourke (née Marsh), has died in childbirth and has left me in quite a state. You see, we have a passel of children that I shall have to attend to on my own for an undetermined amount of time, and this is a daunting task for one who is still very deep in the throes of mourning.

I suppose I've gotten ahead of myself though, haven't I? My name is Amir O'Rourke and I was married to Shelly for nigh onto ten years, and she often spoke of you and your relationship with the Marsh family in glowing terms. I was led to believe that at one point in your history that you had been very close with them, though you've fallen out of contact with them over the years for one reason or another.

Do you remember their son, Stanley? He has grown up handsomely, I dare say, and is a wonderful lad, but you see....

I am at my wits' end with the burden that has been left behind in my late wife's absence, and I only have so many resources for so many charges in my care. That's why I must ask of you a favor, to come and fetch the child so that he may live in your estate, for if he were to stay with me I'm afraid I would have to send him away to the orphanage. There just isn't enough money to go around, nor is there enough food. My wife had been a seamstress before going to her reward and her income, though meager, had kept us afloat, but now –

I implore you, sir, take pity on a stranger and a child in need. I will understand if you say no, or if I never hear a response from this letter at all, but I pray that you will see fit to deliver us from certain destruction. Stanley would be a worthy addition to your staff if you need an extra worker, and I know he would work hard to find his place and earn his keep.

Enclosed are the details regarding my whereabouts. If you've any questions do not hesitate to send a letter and I will answer to the best of my ability. I thank you in advance for even reading this far, and I praise your name if you decide to answer the call of a beggar, pathetic though he may be.

Very sincerely yours,
Amir O'Rourke

It was with a grim expression that Craig crumpled the letter slightly, his gaze lifting and meeting McCormick's one curious eye.

"Thank you," he said, throwing the letter on his desk in irritation. "You just made a long day feel even longer."

It came to pass, after ruminating and agonizing for several days, that Craig decided to take this mysterious Amir O'Rourke up on his offer to fetch the urchin away from his struggling domicile, and it was on a cloudy day that McCormick readied the carriage to depart. After consulting a map, Craig figured out that their destination was at least two days' away, and that was if the weather behaved and the horses moved at a steady clip. He lounged in the back of the carriage as it started to roll, his head in his hand as he tried to conjure up memories of the Marsh boy. He could remember dark hair and blue eyes, but beyond that his recollection was hazy at best.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," he said as he settled in for a long journey, his curiosity growing with every mile that passed. The countryside faded into flat lands of green grass, the ominous clouds threatening rain and not helping to improve his mood. "But maybe the lad will prove to be interesting," he added, a small smile playing on his lips. His hand clenched on the upholstery beneath him as he imagined the possibilities a new plaything could provide; a young waif ripe for the plucking and having no one to turn to but Dr. Craig Tucker.

Stanley Marsh was a seventeen year old who had grown up in poverty, it was the only thing he knew. He had a wonderful family, but, when he was quite young his mother had passed from cholera and his father from liver failure. With them both gone he had relied on his sister and her husband for their care but then...Shelly passed away. He had no one left and Shelly had left behind a newborn for Amir to take care of on his own. He knew he was a burden.

He had tried to help out as much as he could. He chopped wood, he fixed things around the house, and he would go into town to pick up groceries. It wasn't a lot, but it was something.

He let out a grunt as he picked up his axe to swing down and cut a log in half. He was a rather handsome young man that the girls in town had made comments about. Though he only stood 5"5" he was lithe and had a hint of muscles to his arms, legs, and stomach. His dark hair was cut short and hung in his face and he sported a pair of big beautiful blue eyes.

As he was chopping he couldn't help but nearly miss his log when he saw a rather expensive looking carriage coming down the road. That was awfully strange. This wasn't exactly the best part of town, why would something so extravagant be gallivanting on their broken roads?

Craig looked upon the cottage with disgust as they approached, at the muddy fields and the weathered, dilapidated fence circling the property. The dwelling itself was comprised of crumbling bricks and the shutters hung askew, but he was able to pull his focus from that when he saw the boy standing in the yard, chopping wood. He was pretty, very pretty, with a slender build and an angular look about his face that was very pleasing. That couldn't be Stanley Marsh, could it? 

When they'd stopped, Craig waited for McCormick to open the carriage door before he descended, grimacing slightly when his shiny shoes squelched in the mud. Ignoring this, he righted his tailored suit and approached the boy slowly, his eyes drinking him in like wine with every step; the sun coming out suddenly and catching the blue highlights in the lad's shiny locks.

"Boy," he said, stopping before him. "Tell me your name, if you will."

 Stan blinked a little when a very well dressed man stepped outside of the carriage and demanded his name. 

"Uh...it's Stanley, Stanley Marsh, Sir." He said, looking around, setting his axe down. "Is their something I can help ya with?" He asked, moving to wipe his dirty hands on his trousers. 

As he was waiting for a response he saw the door to the cottage open up and his brother-in-law step out.

"Doctor Tucker...thank you so much for coming." Amir said, walking over to Stan. "Stanley, this is Doctor Tucker, he was friends with your parents. I wrote to him to see if he could help us." He said, knowing the young man was aware of the situation he was in. "Doctor Tucker is a very well respected man and, he could probably use a little help around his estate from a strong lad like you."

Stan raised a brow. "Oh? You knew my parents?" He said before clearing his throat. "Well, I'm good at fixin' stuff and hauling wood, stuff like that." He said with a shrug. He didn't have an education, hell, he couldn't even read.

"They were close with my parents before they passed," Craig replied, continuing to study the boy. He wasn't overly muscular, thankfully. That would help in the long run. "So I grew up knowing them as well. I recall meeting you once or twice, years ago. I'm not surprised you don't remember me." Turning to Amir, he nodded slightly.

"I'm sorry about the loss of your wife," he said, glancing to see Stan's reaction at these words; the mention of his sister. "She was a good woman, hardworking and strong." He turned his focus back to Stan, taking in the sight of his clothes, how threadbare they were. They didn't complement his hidden beauty, not at all.

"You will not be fixing or hauling if you come to stay with me," he told him, his voice taking on his stern, doctor's tone; best to set the expectations early. He expected obedience. "But you will work and earn your keep. Can you do as you're told? I'll not have a miscreant in my care. I'm a busy man and I need reassurance that you will have respect for the opportunity I'm affording you." 

He smiled suddenly, hoping it was soft, but knowing tender expressions were not his forte.

"What do you say, lad?"

Stan looked over at Amir who just nodded his head. 

"O-Of course, I'll do whatever you need me to do, Doctor Tucker." Stan said simply. "I just don't know how to do a lot besides those things... I don't have any kind of education and I mostly worked with my hands." He said, holding his hands up, his dirty and calloused hands. "But, if you have something you think I can do...I'll do it, I'll earn my keep." He said with a small smile.

Amir smiled. "This will be good for you Stanley. Doctor Tucker has so many connections he can help you have a far better life than I ever could. You know your sister always wanted you to get out of the slums." He said, resting a hand on the lad's shoulder.

Stan nodded his head, his eyes looking at the ground. "Y-Yes...I know... Shelly always wanted better for me..." He said, trying not to start crying at the thought. Shelly had been a sister and a mother to him, now, she was gone...buried in the same cemetery his parents laid in.

"There, there," Craig said, placing a hand on the boy's bony shoulder and trying to feel it covertly. He was frail, underfed, clearly, but that could work in their favor. "Your sister would want you to be strong, I'm sure, bear up under life's trials. If you listen to me, you'll have a wonderful future, I promise you."

Looking at Amir, he cocked a brow.

"What manner of luggage does he have? Anything?" He thought a moment, tapping his chin. "On second thought, you may take something of sentimental value, I suppose, but you can leave your garments behind. We'll be traveling for several days and we can stop at the shops on the way so we can outfit you properly. That is, until we get back to the estate and I can call upon the lady who makes my clothing. She does beautiful work."

And beautiful gowns, he thought, wanting to smirk but controlling his mouth. He called to McCormick, who came over, walking carefully among the sodden, muddy yard.

"Help him settle into the carriage comfortably," he commanded, waving a hand. "We need to get moving, nightfall will be upon us soon."

"And the weather is fixing to turn, sir," the manservant replied, turning his focus on Stan as well. "Fetch your effects, child, so that we may depart."

Stan nodded his head, a small smile on his lips. "Thank you so much Doctor Tucker, I really appreciate all of this." He said, before nodding when Craig told him to leave everything behind except a sentimental item. He honestly didn't have much, so, that wasn't going to be very hard. He made his way into the cottage, grabbing a sack on his way to put things in.

Running into the small room he had been living in he grabbed a broach his mother had left him, a pipe from his father, and, his sister had given him a stuffed bear that use to share when they had been growing up. He put everything in the sack and took one last look at the hovel he had been living in. What good fortune he was going to experience! Going from the slums to high society, it was a rags to riches tale!

He ran back out, a smile on his lips as he hoisted the bag over his shoulder.

"Okay, I have everything I want to take with me." He said, before looking over at Amir.

"Thank you for everything you've done for me, Amir."

Amir smiled. "Of course Stanley, you know you will be in our thoughts." He said, moving to turn his back and go into the cottage.

Craig watched Amir depart with scant interest, focusing instead on the boy as he was ushered into the waiting carriage, a sad, little bag clutched in his hands. He frowned, knowing Stan was going to track dirt onto the immaculate velveteen seats but he supposed it couldn't be helped, not until they'd made their first stop.

"We'll travel for a few hours and then we'll take supper," he announced, climbing in after Stan and settling himself. He crossed his legs, his chin propped in his hand as he appraised his newest acquisition. "You are hungry, aren't you? When's the last time you had a proper meal?"

Stan looked a little sheepish as Craig got into the carriage and sat next to him. Honestly, he was too distracted by how gorgeous and opulent the carriage looked. After a few moments he looked at the doctor and rubbed the back of his head. "I'm very hungry, honestly, I haven't eaten a really good meal since Shelly passed away." He admitted. "It was much more important for the baby to eat than for me, so, I gave up my portions for the kids." He said, looking out the window as they started their way out of the slums.

"I see," Craig replied, lapsing into silence as he turned his gaze out the carriage window, his mind whirring as they traveled over flat, rain-drenched country. The road weaved its way through small villages and over streams, bypassing dark forests as the day declined and night gathered at the edges of the world. Before long, he reached out a hand and slapped the top of the cab, signaling to McCormick to find a suitable restaurant so they could stop and have supper.

"I expect you to be on your best behavior," Craig said as he waited for his door to be opened. They both stepped out, McCormick taking Stan's hand as he alighted from the carriage. "I will not be made a fool of, and it's time that you started acquiring some manners."

"I'll stay with the horses, sir; see that they're fed and curried," McCormick said, standing ramrod straight with his hands behind his back.

"Secure us a room, will you?" Craig asked, eyeing the establishment and noticing that a suitable inn was attached. "We'll need accommodations for the night, and I'm tired of traveling." Coming closer, he whispered close to the manservant's ear, taking care so Stan wouldn't hear:

"Have them prepare a bath as well," he instructed. "He'll need to be thoroughly washed before we retire."

"Very good, sir," McCormick replied, sliding his eye to Stan and feeling a slight note of pity. He only knew a fraction of what was in store for the boy, and he had a feeling it was going to be a very radical surprise for the waif. "One bed?"

"Naturally, I need to keep him close so that we can get used to each other." Turning to Stan, he offered him his arm. "Shall we?"

Stan looked a bit confused as Craig offered him an arm, usually that was something reserved for ladies. He decided to shrug it off and moved to grab onto it, allowing himself to be led towards the inn. He could already smell the food cooking and he could hear his stomach growling. Everything smelled so delicious! 

"I'll try to be on my best behavior..." Stan promised, wincing a little at how intense the doctor sounded. He certainly didn't want to embarrass such an important man.

As they got into the inn and towards the restaurant that was connected to it, he kept his hold on Craig's arm when a woman came up to them.

"Good evening, can I help you, sir?" She asked, looking at Craig.

"Table for two," Craig replied curtly. Gently tugging on Stan, he led him as the woman brought them to a table covered with a white cloth, a cluster of candles glowing in the center. Each place was set with a full dinner service, a plethora of cutlery laid out neatly. Ornately folded linen napkins were settled on each shining plate. 

"After you," he said, pulling out Stan's chair and waiting for him to settle himself, ignoring his look of confusion. Tucking him in, he went 'round the table and sat as well, picking up his napkin and snapping it out; he settled it in his lap.

"Use your napkin properly," he commanded before turning to the server, who was lingering nearby, an anxious expression on her face. "I'll have a sherry, and the boy will have..." he tapered off, studying his charge. "He shall have sherry as well."

"We have a nice pumpkin bisque this evening, sir," she replied, glancing at the thin, dark-haired boy with the wide eyes. "Shall I bring that along with your drinks?"

"You may," he said, turning his eyes away, already wanting her to be gone so he could focus on the boy across from him. When she departed, he smoothly crossed his legs and steepled his fingers beneath his chin, glancing through the candlelight at Stan. "So," he smiled, licking his lips, "tell me a little about yourself. I don't want us to be strangers any longer than necessary."

Stan was even more confused when Craig pulled his chair out for him. That was rather odd, he remembered Amir doing that for his sister, and his father doing that for his mother. He just smiled and sat down. "Thank you, Doctor." He said softly, moving to take his napkin and just follow what Craig did. He never really even had napkins, they just wiped their hands on their clothes... He cleared his throat a little. "What...is a sherry?" He decided to ask.

When Craig told him to tell him about himself, he shrugged.

"Not much to say really. I grew up in the slums, and, after my parents passed, I had to take over a lot of the chores my father use to do, that meant wood chopping, repair, tending to the animals. I really liked working with the animals, I love animals..." He said, looking down at his lap. "I also really like music... I taught myself how to play the piano." He said, hoping that was interesting to the wealthy man.

Craig cocked an eyebrow at this bit of information. He never would've guessed that Stan would have access to a piano, much less know how to play it. He tucked this admission away for later, wanting to marinate on it for a while. Instead, he smiled indulgently at Stan as the server returned with two glasses of sherry; another server following behind with their bowls of soup.

"Sherry is a type of wine," he explained, taking a quick sip. "Try it, you'll like it."

"The salad for this evening is endive with pears and walnuts," the waitress said, watching Craig with apprehension. "Would that be to your liking, sir?"

"Yes, it should be fine," Craig replied, swirling his wine a little. "Bring it after the soup, please; we'll need some time." He nodded to his companion. "He's new to all of this, you see."

She nodded, unsure of what to say, though she smiled encouragingly at Stan. 

"Enjoy."

Craig watched her go with little interest before taking up his spoon. 

"Start from the outside and work your way in," he said, holding up the spoon. "And when you take up a spoonful, point it away from you. You see?" He demonstrated, his movements fluid and sure. "There's a little poem you can recite to yourself to help you remember," he said, grinning. Clearing his throat, he began to recite:

"Like a ship going out to sea, my spoon always points away from me."

He took a small bite of soup, sighing with pleasure at the taste before glancing at Stan.

"What do you think so far?"

"There is a certain way to eat soup?" Stan said, looking confused as he picked up his spoon and tried to follow Craig's instructions. "You wealthy people have rules for everything." He said with a little laugh. He moved to take a bite of soup, pointing the spoon away. He was honestly more taken aback by how good the soup tasted! It was so warm! So sweet and flavorful! He couldn't help but let a small moan escape his lips when he felt it go down his throat.

"Oh, it's delicious! I haven't had something this tasty for so long!" He admitted, the joy in his voice beaming through.

He then picked up the wine glass, sniffing the liquid a bit he took a sip. He coughed a little and shook his head.

"It's...kind of strong...but it tastes good." 

Craig had to laugh at Stan's observation; it was true, after all.

"Yes, there are rules for almost everything in society," he said, tucking into the soup but enjoying Stan's obvious pleasure much more than its flavor; he'd had better. His cook at home was exemplary, but this evening's fare was sufficient enough. "They're necessary, but you'll come to understand that soon enough."

He watched closely as Stan finished almost the entire glass of sherry, knowing that it would hit him hard. He waited. 

When the salad came, Craig instructed Stan on which fork to use and ordered him another glass of sherry.

"Wipe your mouth," he said, spearing a bit of lettuce. "You need to take care with your appearance when you're in public, for both our sakes."

The evening's main course was salmon with lemon and asparagus topped with Hollandaise sauce, no doubt to offset the heaviness of the bisque. Craig ate it slowly, the fatigue of the day washing over him as he observed his counterpart clearing his plate with very little trouble.

"I'm sorry you've had to go without for so long," he commented, laying his fork aside and sitting back. "I don't think it's right that so many have so much, and then there are those with so little. The balance between the classes is so broken, I'm afraid."

The wine was hitting Stan, especially since he was on his second glass. He was small and underweight, thanks to not having enough food, so the alcohol was hitting him extremely hard. He put a hand to his head and tried to focus on what Craig was saying. Things were starting to spin a little, he could barely even cut the salmon on his plate.

"My...appearance? Does it matter?" He slurred, plucking the wine glass up with a shaky hand and drinking the rest of its contents. "Being poor...isn't fun..." He added. "I figured I'd just die like my family...buried in a paupers grave." He admitted, setting the wine glass down and watching as it wobbled a bit before gently falling over.

"I think you might be the first rich man who has ever even seen the slums... People are...too afraid to go down there." He said, picking up a piece of asparagus and trying to put it in his mouth, but, missing the first two times.

"Oh, I visit the slums regularly," Craig said, hiding a smile behind his napkin as he watched Stan succumb to the alcohol. "The poor need doctors just like anyone else. Clear your plate," he added, taking another bite of salmon. "We need to start putting some meat on those bones of yours. You look as if a stiff wind could blow you away." 

He chewed and swallowed, considering what Stan had asked.

"Appearances always matter," he said. "You're always being judged, whether you realize it or like it. It's the way of things." 

The server came over then, and Craig couldn't help but notice how timid she was, her eyes darting to Stan as he nodded over his plate.

"Shall I bring the sherbet and then dessert?" She asked, beginning to clear the plates.

"Yes, and an Irish coffee." He glanced at Stan, amused. "We can share, you'll love it."

Just then, McCormick appeared at Craig's side, almost like he'd materialized out of thin air. He leaned down, speaking close to his master's ear.

"The room has been arranged, sir, and they will start preparing the bath once you've quit the dining room."

"Very good," Craig murmured. "Fetch my bags and leave them in the room; we're almost done here. Wait at the entrance and you can lead us to our quarters."

"Yes, sir." Glancing at Stan, he stayed silent before moving away. The server came back then, bringing two silver dishes of lemon sherbet. She set them down, along with an Irish coffee.

"To cleanse the palate before we have our dessert," Craig said, scooping some of the confection into his mouth. He pushed the Irish coffee toward Stan. "Here, try it."

Stan nodded his head when Craig said he had to put meat on his bones. "Didn't use to be so skinny...I use to...look like a normal human being...not a walking skeleton..." He slurred. "As for appearances...some girls have called me...handsome..." He said, before grinning a bit. "Their was this one girl named Red and she sucked me off." He said with a drunken giggle. 

Stan looked at the sherbet that was put in front of him but found coffee being pushed upon him.

"I like coffee..." He said, moving to take a sip and coughing a bit when the alcohol in it hit the back of his throat.

 Craig frowned at the uncouth manner in which Stan was speaking. True, he was inebriated, but that didn't mean he had to sacrifice his decorum. 

"Don't talk like that, you sound common," he snapped, a small thread of jealousy winding its way through his gut. He ignored it. They finished their sherbet while sharing the Irish coffee, until the server finally reappeared with their dessert: two stunning Crème brûlées. Craig cracked the top with the back of his spoon after instructing Stan to do the same.

"Delicious," he sighed, spooning the rich custard into his mouth, though he couldn't get the visual of Stan being sucked off by anyone out of his head. He was surprised at himself for being so preoccupied; he hadn't even completely decided what he wanted to do with Stan yet, though he had plenty of ideas.

"I feel like this day has lasted a million years," he said, setting his spoon aside once he'd scooped up the last bit of the confection. "Are you ready to retire for the evening? Our room has already been arranged."

Without waiting for Stan's answer, Craig rose from his place and went to Stan, helping him up as well. He held him tightly when he stumbled, his fragile bones shifting under his fingers as he clutched his arm.

"Lightweight," he laughed, leading him from the room. "Who knew you were so delicate?"

Exiting the dining room, Craig saw McCormick waiting for him and he nodded his head. Soon they were led to a lavish suite of rooms, his luggage already laid out on the ornate comforter covering the large four poster bed. A bathtub had been set up in the middle of the room, and before too long a knock came at the door. Women in maid's uniforms covered with white aprons began bringing in steaming jugs of water.

"Are you ready for your bath?" Craig asked, turning to Stan.

"But I am common..." Stan said, sounding confused in his drunken state. He didn't want to admit he had never had intercourse, that was something he had been saving, much to the teasing from some of his friends.He quickly forgot about that when the dessert was brought. He had never seen a dessert like this before... His mother use to make the best sweet breads but this...was something else. It didn't even sound like it had an English name. He cracked it after watching Craig and took a bite, his face lighting up at the delicious flavor.

It didn't take him long to finish it, and, when he did he felt Craig grabbing him and helping him stand and walk. He managed to understand something about a room being ready.

"Bath?" He slurred, watching as some maids came in and poured hot water into the porcelain tub. "I haven't had a bath...long time...no hot water neither..." He said, nearly falling over, grabbing onto a near by McCormick in order not to fall on the ground in a drunken mess.

"Steady him," Craig said as the maids filled the tub, adding oils to the water that smelled of roses and something spicy. The room had been lit with candles and was awash in the golden light, and Craig went to one of his parcels and opened it, withdrawing a long, white nightgown of delicate material. He laid it out along with a comb and other toiletries. He turned back to McCormick and saw that Stan was barely able to keep his feet.

"I guess he's not much of a drinker." Soon, the tub was filled and was exuding clouds of steam. The maids settled a cake of soap and a scrub brush on a table close by, one of them glancing at Stan and shaking her head with obvious pity.

"Poor little popkin," she said. "He's had a hard way of it."

"Leave us," Craig said curtly, going to McCormick and taking a hold of Stan. "You too, but stay nearby. Just in case."

"As you wish, sir." He looked at Stan like he wanted to say something but he refrained, ducking his head before vacating along with the maids, leaving the pair alone.

"You'll be alright soon," Craig tried to soothe the boy as he gently began to unbutton his shirt, his hands sliding over the exposed flesh which was surprisingly soft and pale. His eyes widened; he'd been expecting Stan to be covered with scars or imperfections, but it was almost like he'd never been touched. This thought made his mouth water, but he tried to maintain his control. "We'll just wash you and then you can sleep. Here." He succeeded in unbuttoning the shirt entirely, grimacing as he slid it from Stan's body, revealing a torso that was much too thin; a stark clavicle.

"We'll put you to rights," he murmured, beginning to unbutton Stan's trousers.

Stan found himself holding onto Craig when the butler gently pushed him into his master. He swayed and watched in a daze as Craig undressed him. Be felt his trousers fall to the ground and his shirt undone, showing off surprisingly unmarred and pale skin. He put a hand to his cheek, his cheeks red and warm... 

"Craig...be careful...I don't have any other clothes..." He said, nearly falling over and into the tub.

"Don't worry, I have something you can wear," Craig reassured him, catching him and gently easing Stan's underwear down and tossing it aside, leaving the boy shivering and naked in the dimly-lit room. On the far wall a fireplace was blazing with crackling flames, the orange light flickering over Stan's paleness. 

"Slowly now." Craig eased Stan into the water, his eyes drinking in the sight of his nakedness, his overwhelming innocence. He suddenly felt the need, the compulsion, to touch him all over...touch him in places that no one else had, but he managed to keep things clinical. Taking up a jug, he dipped it into the warm water and filled it. He poured its contents over Stan's head, watching as the little trickles of water fell over the nape of his neck; collecting in the hollow of his throat and trailing down his chest.

"You're so thin," he commented, pouring more water over him. "But it isn't unbecoming to you...it's almost like you were meant to be this way." Picking up the comb, he began to pass it through Stan's hair, marveling at how lustrous it was despite his lack of proper nutrition. He combed through nits and tangles, but soon it was ready to be washed, which he did, scrubbing the locks with soap until the strands were slippery between his fingers.

"Sit forward," he said, placing a hand on the nape of Stan's neck. "I'll wash your back. Would you like that?"

Stan let out a cry when he started to tip over but quickly found himself caught in Craig's arms. "You're...so strong..." He said, giggling a little to himself. "My father use to say...a rich man...couldn't be strong." He slurred as his underwear were taken off of him. When the brunette told him to sink into the water slowly, he did as he was told. "It feels so warm..." He moaned, closing his eyes as he settled into the tub, the dirt starting to wash off of him. "It feels amazing... I've never had a warm bath before." He admitted, moving to run his fingers through his hair as Craig poured a jug of water over his head.

"You don't think I look...bad?" He asked, arching his back as he enjoyed the warm water over him. 

"Y-Yes...I'd love that..." Stan said, feeling a hand on his neck. Craig's hand was so big...so...soft... He managed to look over at the doctor and smiled a little. The doctor was a very handsome man, so tall, so dark, so handsome...

"I think you look like someone who needs to be taken care of," Craig replied, sidestepping Stan's question. The boy arched beneath his touch and he had to catch his breath, becoming suspicious that Stan had to know what he was doing on some level; didn't he? And then he looked at him with eyes of admiration, and that was enough to make Craig need to draw back. 

"Continue to wash yourself while I watch," Craig instructed, not being able to trust himself if he continued to touch Stan so wantonly. Rather, he turned away and went to gather up the nightgown Stan would be sleeping in; bringing it over. He held it up.

"This suits you far better than what you've been wearing to bed, I'm sure," he said. Sitting down, he leaned forward and waited for Stan to continue finishing his bath. "Well, get on with it," he said, waving his hand. "I have to make sure you're doing it properly...unless you want me to get in there with you?"

Stan looked confused when Craig pulled away. "You were doing such a good job helping me..." He said, almost pouting a little as he felt Craig pull away. He was slowly starting to sober up and he was getting a horrible headache. He winced a little and moved to dunk down in the water, coming up a few moments later dripping wet, his black hair sticking to his forehead. He took a cloth that was handed to him and gently started to scrub his skin, taking in a deep breath as he looked to see the rest of the dirty coming off of him. God, he forgot his skin was so pale...

"That's a girl's night garment..." He said, leaning against the rim of the tub, taking in the sight of the dainty cream colored nightie. 

"I can just sleep in my shirt..." 

"That dirty thing? Don't be ridiculous," Craig said, clamping his hand around Stan's arm and drawing him to his feet, the water sluicing over rose-scented, seductive flesh. "You'll wear what I give you, unless you'd like to sleep in nothing at all."

Helping Stan out of the tub, Craig swathed him in heated, fluffy towels, scrubbing him down until his skin was raw and pink. Even through the fabric he could feel how frail Stan was, and it certainly wasn't in his best interest to go to bed without some sort of covering. Holding up the nightgown, he gave Stan an impassive look; too tired to argue at this point.

"You'll be sleeping in my bed," he said, fingering the delicate lace on the nightgown's bodice, "at least you will be so long as you can obey and do as your told. In this case, you'll wear the nightgown or," he pointed to the floor, a cushion having already been laid next to the bed, "you can sleep there. And don't even think of moving it so you're in front of the fire. You won't like the outcome if you try to cross me."

Coming over, he stroked Stan's cheek and looked deep into his eyes, his humor swiftly dwindling.

"So, which is it? Make your choice - now."

Stan felt a chill go down his spine when Craig's voice took a dark husky tone to it. He looked at the fire and then at the cushion on the floor. If he didn't do as he was told, he was going to freeze during the night as he tried to dry off. Besides...maybe that nightgown was all Craig had on him, it was probably a one time thing. He bit his lower lip and gently grabbed the nightgown, starting to slip it on over his moist body.

"I-I'm cold..." He said, hoping that would explain why he was accepting to put the nightgown on and sleep in the same bed. The large bed looked so comfortable, so warm. "I-I'm use to sleeping on the ground, I've never slept on a bed before." He admitted, moving to walk over to it, gently sitting down on it, his nightgown sticking to his wet skin.

The firelight was playing over the white swathing Stan now that he'd seen fit to behave, which pleased Craig no small amount. Feeling elated, he began to strip his own garments away until he was left in his tailored slacks. Going to the bureau, he poured water into the bowl and quickly wiped his face and ran a moist comb through his dark hair, taking care to neaten it to its usual fussy perfection.  

A strange excitement coursed through him as he made his way over to the bed, stopping momentarily to caress Stan's cheek, but then he moved on. Drawing the comforter back, he readied the bed to be slept in, taking care to make sure their places would be close together, though the bed was large. He didn't want space, not right now.

"Get in," he said, drifting a finger over Stan's nape. "Your place is ready."

Craig lay down and practically sank into the soft comforter, the mattress cradling him like he was back in the womb. Sighing, he crossed his arms behind his head and waited for Stan to wake up and take his place beside him, where he clearly belonged.

"It's chilly tonight, even with the fire," Craig said, patting the space next to him. "We'd be doing each other a favor if we stayed close. I was only trying to be considerate."

Stan felt his breath hitch in his throat when he felt Craig gently caress his cheek, his neck. He had never had such a tender touch bestowed upon him before. He didn't know why, but, it was making him feel things...he had never felt before. He watched as Craig settled into the bed and pulled back the blankets, making the bed look even more enticing than it already was. He wondered if the doctor thought it was strange that he was so excited to sleep in a bed for the first time. He had a feeling a wealthy man like him wouldn't understand.

When he saw the older man pat the spot next to him he decided to just do as he was told. It was cold after all... Maybe this was just what the wealthy did. They were so different than the people he knew and how he grew up.

He settled into the bed and let out a soft coo of comfort when he felt the soft mattress engulf him. 

"T-Thank you Doctor Tucker for allowing me to stay with you... I promise I won't be a burden... I'll do whatever I can to help, I'll do whatever chores you ask me to do."

"That's all I ask," Craig sighed, turning his head on the pillow and appraising Stan in the glow of the firelight. He clearly wasn't used to the soft mattress or the warm blankets, and he certainly didn't seem used to sharing his sleeping quarters with someone else...especially someone like himself. He resisted the urge to pull the boy close, opting instead to watch the shadows playing over his skin as his eyes drooped.

"In fact, if you do as you're told, I might even let you use my piano," he continued, his tone becoming wheedling; disarming. "I could even set you up with proper lessons...that is, if you behave, of course."

Settling onto his side, facing Stan, Craig began to lapse into slumber as the day's activities seemed to descend on him at once. Fatigue made his muscles loose even though his appetite for the boy lying next to him made his mind race. He took deep breaths, attempting to calm himself.

"Get some sleep," he murmured, wanting to settle a hand on the boy's naked thigh where it rested under the white nightgown. "We'll need to be up early tomorrow. I had McCormick get a lay of the land and there's a shop nearby where we can get you fitted for a suitable outfit to travel in." He sneered, thinking of Stan's old garments. "Naturally, we'll dispose of the clothes you were wearing before...they aren't even suitable to be buried in."

Stan perked up a little at that. "Really!? Oh...that would be fantastic! Do you have one of those big fancy grand pianos. the type they play for the Queen!?" The brunette said, turning to look at the Doctor. He flashed him a smile of gratitude. "And...I've never had a teacher for anything... I...don't know if someone could even teach me somethin'...maybe I'm too stupid to teach..." He said, starting to relax in the bed and feeling the warm comforter cover his small form. 

"I think I will sleep really well in this comfy bed." He said, ignoring the feeling of a hand running up his thigh, pushing the nightie up a little.

"I guess my clothes are dirty... I'll have new clothes to wear?"

 "We'll have a whole new wardrobe made for you," Craig said, closing his eyes. He chose to ignore the way Stan disparaged himself. It was no wonder that he didn't hold himself in very high regard; after all, he'd never been given the opportunity to see what he was capable of. Craig smiled as he listened to the crackling flames and Stan's breaths that soon evened out, became deeper...knowing that the next day was just the beginning; raw anticipation sending him off to quiet dreams.

Chapter Text

"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."

"How long?"

"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?"

"Yes, sir."

"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."

Chapter Text

Stan heard how Craig was referring to him, speaking to Bebe and telling her that he was a woman and that he didn't know how to dress himself or act like a proper member of high society. He also raised his brows when Craig called him a Mistress... So, did that make him the Mistress of the house? The match to Craig as the Master? He decided to just keep listening, hoping maybe he could hear some more information and figure out what exactly was going on.

He didn't really know what vitamins were, he had heard they were good for you, so, that must have been what was in those vials... He guessed that wasn't too bad... Craig was a doctor, he wasn't going to do anything to hurt him... That would go against his ethics...

But those thoughts of Craig wanting what was best started to fly out of his mind when he was referred to as Leia again and told him he would be made into a proper woman.

He picked up a piece of toast and started to nibble on it. He was hungry, but, he had been scolded every single time he tried to eat normally, and, the corset was really restricting his appetite. He accessed the room and saw their was a window. Perhaps he could try and escape... He just had to build some strength up. Hopefully this time he would successfully be able to get away.

"Thank you Bebe, this is very good." The brunette said, flashing the maid a smile. "Just what I needed." He added, hoping Craig wasn't going to hurt the girl, she seemed so scared...

"I'm glad it pleases you, miss," Bebe replied, returning her mistress's smile. She glanced at the master, still feeling uneasy even though he seemed so calm. He'd been so serious about her orders, more serious than usual, and that was saying something. He'd always had an exacting, perfectionist way about him, and he expected the same from his staff. She'd been working for him for over five years and this truth had been ground into her: follow orders to the letter, or else. 

Sensing Bebe's uneasiness, Craig finished his tea before speaking.

"You can go and attend to your other duties now, Bebe," he said, setting the cup down. "I believe we'll be well enough on our own here. Oh,  and before I forget, you're to outfit her in the blue gown in the wardrobe tomorrow morning...it's on the far right. I was able to have at least one suitable garment made before your mistress decided to take an impromptu tour of the village on her own. Without permission, might I add."

Not sure how to respond to that, to anything related to this situation, really, Bebe merely nodded before she vacated the room. She threw one last curious look at her new mistress before shutting the door softly behind her.

"I dare say, you gave McCormick more excitement in one day than he's had in years," Craig commented, chuckling lightly. "It's not really part of his repertoire to track down wayward little girls."

"He is a very...strange man." Stan said, looking over at Craig when he mentioned McCormick. "Why is he missing an eye?" He decided to ask, taking a sip of his tea as he eyed the window in his peripheral vision. He had to make a run for it as soon as possible. He was still very weak from the drugs, but, that didn't matter. The longer he stayed here the more at risk he was putting himself in. He felt his eyes starting to close on him. He was still so tired from that strange drug Craig had given him. If Bebe wouldn't have woken him up, he would probably still be sleeping.

"Oh, it's just because he's quiet," Craig said, waving Stan's comment away. "Although, he has hinted at being a descendant of William Poole." He paused and leaned forward, smiling slowly. "Otherwise known as 'Bill the Butcher' in certain circles, but I imagine those involved in gangs tend to pick up colorful names in their line of work." 

Pouring himself some more tea, Craig dropped a lump of sugar into it before stirring the liquid slowly.

"I found McCormick half-dead several years ago," he continued, taking up the cup and blowing on it lightly. "In an alleyway while I was in New York City for a surgeon's convention. He'd been beaten almost beyond recognition, one of his eyes hanging by a thread." He grimaced at the memory; his manservant laid out on the dirty pavement as the blood spread out around him. 

"I took pity on him," he added, shrugging. "Perhaps it was the doctor in me, or maybe it was my last thread of humanity rearing its head, who can rightly say? At any rate, I gathered up that pitiful sack of a man and took him to the nearest hospital. I couldn't save his eye, but I saved his life, so I suppose the endeavor could be considered a success."

Reaching out, he brushed some crumbs from Stan's cheek, trying to be as tender as possible.

"Anyway, when he was cognizant enough to understand what was going on, he explained that he'd been jumped by a ruthless gang, the Dead Rabbits, over a money dispute or some such thing," he waved his hand, "and been left for dead. He was so grateful for my assistance that he pledged his allegiance to me, even though I told him it was unnecessary."

Finishing up his tea, Craig set the cup down and stood, looking down at Stan fondly. He was weary and needed to go to his study to be alone for a while. Conversation always tired him out; he was unaccustomed to them, nor was he usually so accepting of answering what he considered idle questions. 

"You should ask him to show you what's under that eye patch sometime," he teased. "It's horrifying, but it's fascinating, too; from a clinical standpoint."

"That's horrible!" Stan cried out, putting a hand over his mouth when he heard what had happened to McCormick, and, how he lost his eye. He was starting to understand why the frightening manservant was so loyal to Craig. He probably felt that he owed him his life, and, he had a feeling Craig would never let the man forget what he had done for him. Craig seemed like the kind of man who would hold anything he could over someone's head... That was why he needed to get away from him as fast as possible.

"N-No...I don't think I would want to see that..." Stan said, wincing a little at the thought of what was under McCormick's eye patch.

"How very demure of you," Craig laughed, patting Stan on the head. "See? You're acting like a proper lady already." Drawing away, he headed for the door, stopping as he settled his fingers on the handle.

"I'm going to retire for the evening, I think," he said, stifling a yawn behind his hand. "You should do the same, after you've finished your tea. I imagine you're still exhausted from your ordeal, and there's so many things we need to discuss tomorrow."

Opening the door, he glanced at Stan over his shoulder.

"I'll be interested to see how well you turn out with Bebe's assistance. Oh, and you must tell me if there's anything else you need with regards to your accommodations." Pointing to the vanity against the far wall, complete with a large circular mirror, he smiled. "I had McCormick bring in the bag your brought from home. Hopefully that will stave off any homesickness you might have." 

He was halfway out the door when he stopped, turning.

"And if you need Bebe just pull on the cord next to your bed. It will ring a bell in her quarters and she'll come to you." Sighing happily, he gave Stan one last look of tenderness. "Well, good night, and I hope you have sweet dreams. Maybe I'll be in them." He laughed before shutting the door behind himself, taking care to turn the key in the lock before retreating down the corridor toward his study.

Once Craig had left Stan slowly got out of the bed. He winced a little as he tried to keep steady, he still felt so lightheaded... Craig had been acting very sweet, but, it was an unnerving kindness, a kindness that at the root of it still had him pretending Stan was a woman. He took in a deep breath as he moved to lift the window up, letting out a small cry of pain as he did so, he was so weak...but he couldn't wait any longer... He just couldn't! He looked at his bag full of his mementos and sighed, he couldn't take those with him...they would just weigh him down. 

Crawling out the window was a chore, he use to be quite good at scaling walls, but, it seemed things had changed. As he descended to the manor grounds, he found himself losing his grip and falling, falling right into a muddy bush.

"Ahh!" He cried out, quickly putting a hand over his mouth to silence himself. He groaned as he tried to sit up, basically crawling at this point out of the mud. Glancing around, he saw the stables. Their was a man by them but he seemed preoccupied, he was smoking and reading a book. 

"M-My...leg..." He said softly, feeling a bruise already forming on the area he fell on. He started to crawl towards the stable, seeing a horse that was some what close to him. He had never ridden a horse before, but, he figured it couldn't be too hard, and, he would be able to get out of the Tucker Estate faster.

When he was sure the smoking man wasn't looking, he went to the hose and slowly tried to crawl on top of it. It had no saddle and he had no idea really what he was doing, but, he held onto the beast tightly and dug his heels into its side, letting out a cry as the white horse took off.

It wasn't until Craig had made it to his study that he started feeling off, though he couldn't place where his unease stemmed from. Stan had seemed tired, almost on the cusp of sleep even as he'd sat propped against the pillows and nibbling on a piece of toast, but still...

"Something isn't right here," he muttered, going to the wet bar and pouring himself some brandy. Taking a small sip, he held the liquor in his mouth as he opened the door and peered into the hall. As expected, McCormick was sitting on a chair while leafing through a Montgomery Ward catalog, having said at one point that he was rather taken with their selection of Bowie knives and various other weapons. He looked up when his employer presented himself.

"Sir?" He said, setting the book aside and standing.

"I'm probably being ridiculous but I'd like you to check in on Leia," Craig said, taking another sip of his brandy. "Just for my peace of mind, you understand."

"As you wish, sir." Without hesitation, McCormick was striding away toward Stan's room, cracking his knuckles on the way. Upon coming to the door, he was momentarily surprised to see the key jutting from the keyhole but he didn't dwell, twisting it instead and pushing the door open. 

"God-fucking-dammit!" He yelled when he was greeted with the sight of an empty bed and a wide open window; the curtains being blown back by chilled breezes. "Not again!"

Taking flight, he raced across the room and crawled through the window easily, taking a hold of the trellis and scaling it quickly. When he'd gotten close enough to the ground to jump down safely, he leapt away, neatly bypassing a decimated bush. He studied it for a split second; clearly, Stan had not had such a graceful landing. Glancing at the ground, he saw drag marks leading away toward the stables and he groaned, beginning to run again. On the way, he allowed himself the luxury of having thoughts he'd never speak aloud.

I'm going to snap his scrawny neck, he seethed, gritting his teeth. I swear to God, when I get my hands on him he's going to wish he'd never been born. I don't care if the master is taken with him - he isn't fucking worth all of this!

Coming upon the stables, he was met with Christophe, who was smoking and reading instead of tending to the horses like he was paid to do.

"The girl," he snapped, allowing some of his composure to slip. "Where the hell did she go? Tell me, now!"

Christophe or the Mole as he was known in some circles, looked up at the blond manservant and blew out some smoke. "Where do any of us really go?" He asked in a thick French accent. "We live, we die, we rot in the dirt." He mused, closing his book as he put the cigarette back in his mouth. His chestnut locks were rather messy but it didn't seem like he really cared. He was simply dressed in a pair of trousers, a white button up, and some suspenders. 

"I did, however, see the little bird fall from her nest." He said, pointing to the window. "She took quite a fall, then, she grabbed the white horse and took off down the road." He said simply, blowing out another puff of smoke. "I don't get paid enough to notice these things, you understand of course, when you do not have your head shoved up the Master's ass, oui?"

Rolling his eye, McCormick had to fight back the urge to knock Christophe into next week but he refrained, knowing that time was of the essence. Instead, he took the small amount of meaningful information in while weeding out the Frenchman's nonsensical philosophies. So, it would seem the little troublemaker stole a horse on top of all his other indiscretions? It sounded about right.

"Remind me to kill you later," McCormick sneered before running into the stable and retrieving a shiny black Arabian, the proud creature one of the master's fastest horses. He was temperamental, but so was McCormick, so he considered them a matched set. He climbed onto the horse swiftly, not bothering with a saddle and galloped away down the road.


~*~*~*~

Stan was actually feeling confident, like he was going to get away! He smiled and held onto the horse, letting it take him down the road. If he could just get into a town he could hide and hopefully he would never have to go back to the Tucker Estates ever again!

Of course things were going to well for the little brunette. It was starting to rain, causing the brunette's white nightgown to stick to his skin. He just shook it off, thinking that it would be better to be wet than to be in the hands of that doctor.

He smiled brightly as a town was coming into sight, well, until a crack of thunder echoed through the valley and spooked the horse, causing the white beast to throw Stan off of his back.

The brunette screamed and found himself hitting the ground rather hard. He put a hand to his head and noticed blood gushing from his forehead. Looking up he watched as the horse ran, ran away with his hopes and dreams.

It wasn't too long before the skies opened up and began pelting them with rain, the horse fighting him on occasion as they flew along the path. McCormick steadied the animal easily, holding onto its rough mane and nudging it with his knees, easing into the horse's rhythm as he tried to keep his rage in check. After some time, thunder rolled through the clouds above them and the horse almost sounded like he was shrieking but they kept moving, McCormick nearly blinded by the onslaught of rainfall.

He was almost beginning to feel fingers of panic crawling up his back when the horse rounded a stand of trees and there was Stan, lying on the ground and looking dazed, his nightgown decimated from rain and mud and -

"Jesus Christ, he's bleeding," McCormick said, stopping the horse and jumping off, taking care to soothe it before running over to Stan and kneeling beside him. There was an open gash on his forehead that was leaking blood furiously, the crimson streaks falling down his face, along his neck, and staining his neckline. He was disoriented and crying, but that didn't stop McCormick from taking a hold of his nightgown and yanking him forward, close to his face.

"You've run away for the last time, my girl," he said, his hand shaking from wanting to slap him so badly. "But I'm not the one you need to worry about...not when the master gets his hands on you."

Stan let a whimper escape his lips when he felt his nightgown grabbed and being yanked close to the face of Craig's loyal manservant. He didn't know what he did to anger God so, but, whatever he did, he was being punished for it right now. He had tried to run twice, both times he had failed. He was starting to feel like it was hopeless. He felt tears run down his cheeks, blood still running down his face from the gash on his forehead. He was so weak, so lightheaded, he just wanted to pass out...

"I-If I'm...so much trouble...why don't you just leave me here to die?" Stan decided to ask, giving up and collapsing against McCormick. His breathing was shallow and his body was shivering from the cold rain.

"I would if I could," McCormick muttered, hefting the boy into his arms easily and carrying him over to the horse, which thankfully hadn't decided to run off like Stan's had; the beast nowhere in sight. Clenching his jaw, he managed to prop Stan on the horse before he swung up himself, holding the trembling, rain-drenched body close to his own. Turning the horse, he headed back for the manor at an easier pace, stopping at the stables on the way to return the creature and stick it to Christophe at the same time.

"Because you were unwilling to do your job, you now get to attend to this beast and go looking for the one that ran off somewhere," he said, cradling Stan in his arms while patting the horse's flank. "You wanted to know where any of us really go? Well, it looks like your ass is heading out into the rain to look for a needle in a haystack." He managed a smile, but it lacked any mirth. "Have fun with that."

Christophe kept his same apathetic expression on his face but sighed, stubbing out his cigarette. 

"Connard." He murmured in native language, looking up at the sky and shaking his head.

"The sky weeps for you Little Bird, it also weeps for me, I don't get paid enough for this merde." He grumbled, before taking one of the horses and taking off in the direction the brunette had ran off to.

-----

The fire was crackling and throwing its light on the walls of Craig's study as he appraised the sorry situation he'd been saddled with: a disheveled, furious manservant holding a bleeding, nearly-unconscious Stan, both of them tracking mud and God knew what else onto his fine Oriental rug. Clenching his hand around his snifter of brandy, Craig could feel the first stirrings of anger building up in his belly, and he knew that what was about to happen was not going to be pleasant - at least, not for his wayward charge.

"Lay him on the davenport," he said, standing and coming around his large cherry wood desk. Taking another drink, he set his glass aside before slowly approaching Stan, the anger evolving into rage and bubbling inside of him, making his entire body tense up. It wasn't often that he allowed himself to feel anything strongly, but being crossed like this...well, it just wasn't done. He wouldn't accept it; he refused.

McCormick settled the boy on the couch as instructed and stepped back, watching impassively as Craig went to assess Stan's condition. He was silently glad that he was not on the receiving end of his employer's obvious fury, fury that might not be detectable to an outsider's perspective but he knew; the clenching of the jaw, the faint twitch of his eye. He was livid. McCormick had lived on the streets for several years and had run with gangs, but even the most ruthless of them did not compare to the doctor when he was in a passion.

"What happened?" Craig asked, lightly touching Stan's forehead. 

"Fell off a horse," the manservant replied, tone clipped. "I guess he hit his head on a rock. I didn't come upon him until after it had happened."

"Let me guess, the horse ran off, too?" Craig looked up sharply, his eyes flashing. "Don't tell me it was my Arabian."

"No, but don't worry, sir; I sent Christophe to fetch the creature."

"Oh, that's reassuring," Craig snorted, standing and going to retrieve his black doctor's bag. "That frog is lucky that he can tell the difference between a horse's muzzle and its croup. But, no matter, he's going to need sutures." He opened the case and began withdrawing the necessary tools: black thread, a large needle, a small bottle of iodine. He held up the latter.

"It's newfangled and not necessarily widely accepted for sterilization yet, but we'll see how it works, won't we?" He held the needle over a candle to sterilize it before threading it. He glanced at Stan and smirked. "Ordinarily, I'd use ether before beginning my work, but I don't feel you deserve it in this instance. Wouldn't you agree?" 

Methodically, he rubbed some of the pungent iodine on Stan's skin after he'd cleaned the area with warm water and a little soap; he looked at McCormick.

"Hold him," he said, holding up the needle. "If need be, give him your handkerchief to bite on...no need to upset the entire household with his screams once I start."

Stan was shaking like a leaf when Craig mentioned he wasn't going to use ether to dull the pain. He started to cry when he saw the needle. It was so big, so sharp... He clenched his eyes shut and knew their was no getting away from this. If he didn't get stitches he would bleed out and die, but, Craig was going to make it as painful as possible.

Feeling the needle start to pierce his skin the brunette started to scream bloody murder. God! It felt as though his flesh was being ripped from his body. Hot tears ran down his cheeks as he found a piece of fabric shoved in his mouth to silence his screams of pain.

He kicked his legs and clenched his hands, screaming as loud as he could, though, it came out muffled thanks to the cloth.

"Shh, it'll be over soon enough," Craig said softly as he made quick work of the wound, his deft fingers passing the needle through Stan's skin and cinching it closed. He tsked while ignoring Stan's muffled shrieks and groans, annoyed by the potential of an ugly scar marring his skin. "We'll just have Bebe apply vitamin E oil to your forehead every morning," he added, continuing on with his needle; leaving a trail of ugly black knots across Stan's forehead. He looked up at McCormick, his expression wry.

"Listen to him go on," he commented. "You didn't make half as much of a fuss when I found you in that alley."

"Crying never helped anyone, sir," McCormick replied, holding Stan as he thrashed. "I learned that the hard way."

"Haven't we all?" Craig asked, tying off the thread and snipping it. Sitting back on his heels, he appraised his handiwork. "Well, it looks hideous, but you only have yourself to blame, don't you?"

Stan had never been so relieved when he felt the needle pull away from his flesh. It had hurt so bad, he didn't know if he had ever experienced anything so painful before! Tears were still running down his cheeks as he felt the cloth taken out of his mouth. A whimper escaped and then a sob, he was still crying, he just couldn't help it!

"I-I'm...sorry..." He decided to say, hoping that might spare him from further pain. He felt his body shaking a bit as he looked up into the cold grey eyes of the doctor. "P-Please...no more...want to sleep..." He begged. 

"Oh, no. No, we won't be going to bed yet," Craig said, shaking his head, almost with regret, but not quite. "I was tired, but you decided to -" he stopped, looking up at McCormick.

"The door was locked, how the hell did he..." trailing off, understanding ignited in his mind. "The window, I should've known. Well, I guess I'm partially to blame for not thinking of everything. I just thought you could actually behave like a good girl; silly me, hmm?" Sighing, he stood and began putting his things away. He went to a small washroom attached to his study and rinsed his hands; drying them on the rolling towel.

"McCormick, secure all of the access points in Leia's room. This foolishness needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. It's doing nothing for my sanity."

"As you wish, sir," McCormick replied, glaring at Stan for a moment before snapping back to his usual stoic demeanor. "I'll handle it first thing in the morning."

"Good," Craig said, rubbing his hands together. "Now, how are we to punish such a naughty girl?" He cocked an eyebrow at his manservant. "How were you corrected as a child, McCormick? You've never really told me much of your youth."

The servant shrugged, his tone nonchalant when he answered.

"My father had a habit of putting out lit cigars on my back, and my mother was very able with a cane -"

"No, no, that won't do," Craig said, waving his hand. "Good Lord, I don't want to disable him, I just want to send a message."

"If I may make a suggestion, sir?" McCormick spoke up, surprising his employer; he very rarely spoke out of turn. Craig nodded, waiting.

"Well, most children are spanked, aren't they? Isn't that the way of things in civilized households?"

Rubbing his chin, Craig considered this while eyeing the exhausted figure on the couch, head slumped to the side as the firelight glowed on his face. Suddenly, he smiled, his mind filled with excitement at the notion.

"Yes, a spanking, that's perfect," he said, snapping his fingers. "But not with my hand, no; that won't be enough." Smacking his forehead lightly, he groaned. "Of course, why didn't I think of this sooner?" 

Smoothly, he began unbuckling his belt, the soft leather hissing as it passed through the loops of his slacks. He held it up for Stan to see.

"You may step out of the room, McCormick," he smiled, advancing on Stan. "This is going to involve parts of Leia's anatomy that I don't wish you to see."

"Yes, sir," the manservant replied, quickly retreating from the room, closing the door softly.

Sitting down, Craig watched Stan for a moment before he quickly reached out and took a hold of his wrist, pulling him toward him. Very soon, Stan was settled across Craig's lap, and he was yanking up his nightgown to expose his pale, naked backside.

"This will teach you to be naughty," he purred, raising the belt high into the air, his mouth watering at the sight of so much tantalizing flesh; on display just for him.

Stan screamed in pain when he felt the belt snap against his skin. It stung like hell and Craig had quite the arm on him. He was never beaten, even as a child, his parents thought punishment like that was cruel. Tears started to run down his cheeks again as he tried to wiggle off of Craig's lap.

"I'm sorry!" He cried out, almost sounding hysterical as he sobbed from the pain. This coupled with the injury to his forehead was almost too much "Please stop! Please!" He begged, letting another scream escape his lips as the belt was brought down on his bare backside again. "I won't...do it again...I won't!" He promised. It almost felt like their was no hope even thinking about escaping again. He couldn't do it... It was like a supernatural force was preventing him from running away.

"Your words don't mean anything to me at this point," Craig replied, continuing to strike Stan with the belt until his ass was a pretty shade of rose red, the round cheeks warm when he caressed a hand over them; nearly shuddering. "Your actions have proven that you can't be trusted, so until I've seen for myself that you can behave, I'll punish you like this every time you cross me."

Rearing back, his words were punctuated when he brought down the belt now:

"Every. Single. Time."

It wasn't until Stan's shrieks became almost deafening that Craig finally threw the belt aside and dragged him to his chest, the gasping boy cradled in his lap as he held him close; hugging him as he kissed his cheek, his neck, his throat. Craig was breathing heavily now as he tried to let the rage go, but it was so hard...he just wanted to take care of Stan. True, his methods were unorthodox and even he could admit that they were selfish, but being here with him had to be better than living in squalor; it had to be!

"Why do you keep running? I want to make sure you're comfortable, I want to dress you in pretty things and make sure you're waited on hand and foot," Craig said, clenching his hands in Stan's sodden nightgown. "I never want you to go without ever again...I'll make sure you live in luxury for the rest of your life. I'll be kind to you if you can just stay by my side."

He pulled away, studying Stan's face.

"Is it so hard to accept that I might be able to love you in some capacity; in my own way? Even if it isn't what you expected? Isn't there something about me you might come to like someday?"

Stan’s screams started to die when Craig took the belt away, throwing it to the ground. He let out a sigh of relief and felt his cheeks moist with tears. 

"I'm afraid of you..." He admitted, his voice trembling as he spoke. "I don't know what you are going to do to me...I don't know why you want me to be a girl... I'm not a girl...I must look foolish dressed like one..." Stan admitted, tears silently running down his cheeks still. "I've never had anything like this...I'm afraid it will all come with a price that is too much for me..."

"Why...would you want to love me? I don't understand. Am I your charge...your servant...or something else?" He asked softly.  He really wanted to know what was going inside of Craig's head, though, he was afraid to get an answer. He had a feeling a darkness surrounded Craig in his heart and his mind.

"A little fear is a good thing, trust me," Craig said, beginning to rock Stan back and forth; not wanting to let him go. If anything, he wanted to pull him into his bed and have his way with him, but he knew the time for that hadn't come. He'd have to wait, even though it would be agonizing. "Fear breeds respect, don't you think? Eventually, I want you to respect me."

Reluctantly, he helped Stan stand so he was before him, his eyes falling over him in his shattered state: the threads in his skin, the blood and dirt staining his nightgown, the droplets of rain clinging to his hair; the dampness of the cloth sticking to his skin, so saturated it was transparent. Unable to help himself, Craig slid his hands over Stan's waist and pulled him close, resting his forehead against him, breathing in the vague scents of sweet talcum beneath the earth and metallic notes from the blood.

"You don't look foolish at all," he said, rubbing his cheek against Stan now while shutting his eyes. "You look beautiful...I didn't realize you were just what I wanted until I saw you for the first time. I stepped out of the carriage and there you were, your face dirty, but in the sunlight it was almost like I was seeing a vision. I don't know why...you just seemed like someone I could try to love; maybe I'll actually succeed."

Lifting the nightgown slowly, Craig exposed Stan's pale thighs, his private parts, his abdomen. Holding the material up, he kissed along Stan's belly, even though it was still swathed in the corset. God, if only he could kiss him without any kind of barriers! Dragging a hand down, he clutched at Stan's thigh, squeezing it.

"You aren't my servant, and while I want to take care of you, you aren't my charge," he whispered, standing while running his hands over Stan's flesh. Throwing caution to the wind, he drew him close and before he could stop himself, he was kissing Stan's mouth deeply; his tongue slipping between his lips and tasting him.

"You're my mistress," he said softly next to Stan's ear, marveling at how sweet he'd tasted. "I want you to be mine always...here, in a place where I can help you realize your full potential."

Stan felt his blue eyes go wide when he felt Craig kiss him, slipping a warm tongue in. He didn't know what to do, and even more so, he didn't like that he liked it... He took in a deep breath as he felt his nightgown lifted up and his body exposed. After a few moments he closed his eyes, accepting the kiss the doctor was giving him. He hadn't ever had anything like this before. Sure, he had been sucked off once or twice by Red, but, that was it. Never had he been kissed so passionately, have someone whisper into his ear, run their hands over his body. He knew he couldn't trust Doctor Tucker, but now, it was going to be even harder... How could he accept the kiss of a man who had just beat him black and blue and stitched up his head with no ether.

When Craig pulled away Stan still felt his breath caught in his throat.

"M-Mistress?" He managed to say. "Full potential? What do those mean?" He asked softly, his body betraying him and starting to relax into Craig's embrace.

"You'll understand in time, dear, but for now it's so late," Craig said, laying more kisses along Stan's clavicle, his body pressed to the diminutive figure in the ruined frock. He could also tell that the boy was slowly but surely sinking into the sensation of being held and kissed, so they were already making progress. He smiled while pressing another soft kiss against Stan's sweet-flavored mouth.

"You're so tired, I can tell." Gently, Craig leaned down and pulled Stan into his arms, cradling him. "Rest your head against my shoulder, darling; I'll carry you back to your room and stay with you until you've fallen asleep."

Moments later, they were back in Stan's suite and Craig lay him on the bed before going around the room and locking all the windows. 

"I know it's useless, it's not like they're chained or anything, but at least the room will be warmer," he said, shrugging. "Here, let's get you washed up. I should have Bebe doing this but given the night's circumstances, I feel the need to be close to you."

Handling Stan as gently as possible, Craig slipped the ruined nightgown from his body before wiping him down with a warm washcloth. He even combed his hair until all the tangles were gone, and applied a soothing cream to the boy's reddened, puffy buttocks.

"We'll give you more aspirin before you nod off," he promised, sliding a fresh nightgown over Stan's head. Going to the bed, he pulled back the covers and patted the mattress. "Come," he said, beckoning with his hand. "Rest for a while. You don't need to worry about something happening...I'll just stay here until I'm sure you'll be fine."

Stan couldn't help but let a small moan escape his lips when Craig kissed him again. How could someone be so brutal with you one moment and then so tender then next? He did as he was told, resting against Craig as he was brought back to his room. He was so tired, so sore, he could barely walk on his own. 

He allowed the doctor to gently clean him, rubbing off the dirt and the blood that were covering his body. He was surprised Craig was still giving him that tender touch, the man even combed his tangled black locks and put something on his behind to help with the swelling. 

"T-Thank you..." He said softly, feeling a new frilly nightgown put over his form before given another aspirin to help with the pain. He gladly took it and moved to sip some water to wash the pill down.

"O-Okay..." Stan said, still sounding apprehensive about being so close to a man who had beaten him, now, he was going to have to sleep with him.

Lay with the devil it seemed.

 

Chapter Text

The next morning, Bebe took a long breath before she entered her new mistress's chambers at daybreak to tend to the fire, making sure it was built up and chasing the chill away as dawn shone on the horizon beyond the locked windows. Glancing at the small figure in the large bed, she couldn't help her curiosity though, having heard from one of the other chambermaids that the master had been seen departing this very room late last night. Just what had he been up to? Bebe could only speculate, but she couldn't help being excited by such a delicious scandal - just who was this dark-haired stranger?

After the fire was built, Bebe quietly stole from the room to retrieve Stan's breakfast tray from the kitchen, the plump cook, Henrietta, bustling about and slaving over a hot stove. The ovens were pouring their heat into the room, and the smells of baking bread wafted throughout the mansion. Eyeing the contents of the tray, Bebe felt her own stomach growl, having taken her usual morning fare: a thin gruel, black coffee, and one hot cross bun. The mistress had much more luxurious food to indulge in: a medley of fresh fruit, poached eggs, thick slices of bacon, and a sumptuous looking scone with raspberry preserves and clotted cream. A pot of tea steamed fragrantly beside the loaded plate.

Hefting it up to the room, she quietly set it on the table set up before the fire before she finally went to the mistress and gently shook her, hoping that she wasn't disagreeable first thing in the morning.

"Miss? Miss, you need to wake up; your breakfast is waiting for you and the master was strict about you taking your vitamins." She shook her again with a little more force. "Come, now. It's a beautiful day and the sun is shining...don't be a slugabed. What will the master think?"

Stan had been sleeping soundly until Bebe came to wake him up. He was so exhausted after the events of the other day he wanted to sleep for a week straight! He groaned a little, wishing he could sleep more, his head still hurt. 

He slowly opened his big blue eyes and took in the heavenly smell of the food.

"Good morning..." He said softly, stretching a little. "Did you bring all this food just for me?" Stan asked, watching as Bebe prepared his vitamins for him. "I couldn't possibly eat all of this, would you please join me Bebe?" He asked with a small smile.

"Oh, I could never do that, miss; it would be unheard of," Bebe laughed, carefully measuring out Stan's vitamins from various vials the master had marked. "You just enjoy yourself and don't worry about me; I'm well enough with what I can scrounge from Henrietta. She isn't too stingy as long as you can get on her good side."

Coming over, she lifted the first spoon of her master's concoctions.

"Are you ready? I'm to dose you and then help you into your garments and fix your hair. We've a lot of work ahead of us, I'm afraid."

"I suppose so..." Stan said, eyeing the liquid in a suspicious fashion before opening his mouth and taking the spoon in. He grimaced a bit at the bitter taste and quickly took a sip of tea to get the taste out of his mouth. 

Stan sighed a little. "Hair, garments, what exactly am I getting all dressed up for, am I doing something today?" He asked, moving to take a bite of a scone. "Also, I insist you join me, I can't possibly eat all of this, and, if you're my servant don't you have to do what I say?" He asked, a small smile on his lips. "I can hear your stomach growling, please have some." He said, putting some food on a plate and pushing it towards Bebe. "And sit down, I have two chairs." He said, pointing at the other chair that was next to the small table. 

"I'm sure Craig has something planned for me today... I don't know if I want to know what it is, but, is he even going to come check on me this morning?" Stan decided to ask. After what happened last night he was surprised Craig hadn't stayed the entire night. Part of him hated that he enjoyed having him. The man had held him all night long, and, Stan found a strange comfort in those arms. He didn't realize it, but, thanks to his neck being shown off in his nightgown, some love nips Craig had left behind were showing. He was half asleep when the older man had kissed and gently bit at his neck. He would attribute that to not fighting him off. He couldn't have possibly...liked it...

"As far as I know, you're going to be meeting your tutor today," Bebe said, reluctantly taking a seat and picking up a scone; nibbling on the corner. If the master saw what she was doing he'd be livid, but Craig kept strange hours so she didn't expect him to stop in anytime soon. "She's going to teach you about manners, decorum, conducting yourself like a lady in society, as well as your schooling." She smiled and took another bite of scone. "A true lady is a learned lady, after all."

Before too long she'd had her fill and the guilt drove her to stand, hurriedly going to the wardrobe and withdrawing the lovely gown that the master had had custom made for the mistress; a tight bodice and long skirt, the area around the neck ruffled and delicate. It was made of deep blue material, soft as velveteen. The back gathered into a bow that flowed down the back, nearly trailing over the floor.  She studied it, knowing that it would look perfect on the mistress, but also jealous that she'd probably never get to wear something like it.

"We need to attend to your underthings before we can even start on all this," she commented, gesturing to the gown. "And we need to make haste, because your tutor is notorious about punctuality. I'm sure she'll complain to the master if I don't have you ready in time...and I imagine Craig will want to check on you himself to make sure you're decent before an outsider is allowed into your chambers."

"Did you get enough to eat?" Stan asked, putting his tea cup down before standing up so Bebe could dress him. He didn't exactly want to wear the ornate gown, but, he didn't want the girl to get in any trouble... He sighed a little, taking in the blue garment. It looked so expensive... He wondered how much Craig had to pay to have that made... He put a hand to his neck and slowly nodded his head. 

"Okay, I suppose we should start getting me ready...whatever that means..." He said, going over to where the tryptic of floor length mirrors stood. He had to wonder if Craig had told the girl that he wasn't...a girl... He blushed a little. A girl was going to be looking at his cock, that was...embarrassing. He remembered flashing a few girls when he was a kid and thinking it was funny as hell...

He groaned a little.

"I also don't really see why I need a tutor." He said simply enough. "What do I really need to learn to do? It doesn't seem like Craig even wants me to go outside." He said, starting to strip out of the nightgown, throwing it on the ground and revealing a flat chest and a waist that was cinched with a white corset. 

"Eventually, you'll be expected to make your debut in society, so you'll need to know how to conduct yourself and make conversation. You have to be soft-spoken but interesting, but you can't be more interesting than the man you're speaking with. Also, the master's always been strangely progressive about the rights of women, to a certain extent, of course. I wouldn't be surprised if he wanted you to learn to read and write...he may even want you to learn an artistic skill, like painting; it would please him. The better you look, the better he looks by extension."

Quickly, Bebe slipped Stan's nightgown from his body and blushed to see that he was wearing nothing beneath aside from the corset, leaving his lower half completely bare. What she saw almost made her take a step back, and she tried not to stare, but she couldn't help it. True, she'd taken more than one tumble with Christophe in the past so she knew what a man's equipment entailed, but she'd never expected all of this so suddenly.

Clearing her throat, she decided to maintain her composure as she slipped a fresh pair of stockings, drawers, and a clean chemise on Stan.

"Are you ready for your corset?" She asked, holding it up.

"That sounds like a lot... And a debut? What does that even mean?" He said with a sigh. "Why can't you just talk to someone, who cares if you're interesting or not." He asked, starting to go bright red when he saw Bebe taken back by his male anatomy. He coughed a bit and tried to hide how truly embarrassed he was. God, he felt so bad for both of them..

"Um...Craig mentioned my hair? What are we suppose to do with it?" He asked, running his fingers through his short raven locks as Bebe started to dress him the various layers. He was not looking forward to that corset. 

"And maybe we can...forget the corset?" He asked in a hopeful tone.

"You know better than that," Bebe replied, slipping the corset over Stan's head and leading him toward the bedpost. "Hold on, miss. The master told me he purposely had the bodice made smaller than usual to encourage you to keep up with your waist training."

Taking a hold of the stays, Bebe pulled with all her might as she watched Stan's waist shrink.

"As for your other questions, a debut is when you're presented to society...typically it would involve a girl being eligible to have suitors ask about her hand, but in your case," she trailed off, unsure what to say. "Well, we'll just have to wait to see what the master says about that, I suppose." Tying the corset as tightly as possibly, she sighed. "There, look at your lovely figure," she breathed, settling a hand on the curve of Stan's waist. "You should be proud."

"Also, for your hair, I have postiches we can use until your hair grows out the way the master wants." He held up a cluster of hair that matched Stan's shade almost perfectly. "We'll just use bobby pins and no one will ever know you didn't grow this," she added, smiling. "The master likes girls with long hair...nearly down to the backs of their knees. It's his weakness, I think." Idly, she patted her large, blonde bun.

"Well, let's get down to the nitty gritty, love," she said, holding up the gown. She helped Stan into it, smiling at the way the bodice hugged her waist almost perfectly. Standing behind her, she tied the sash into a lovely bow that flowed down the back, almost like ostentatious butterfly wings.

"Don't you look lovely?" She asked, pointing Stan toward the mirror.

When he felt Bebe tighten the small corset as tight as it would go, he felt as though he was going to pass out. He started to gasp a bit for air and had to have the blond girl hold onto him so he wouldn't just collapse. He coughed and tried to keep his breathing steady, how did anyone wear these awful things!? And from the sounds of it, Craig wanted his waist to be even smaller!? How was that even possible!?

"T-This...is...not...comfortable..." He managed to say, watching as Bebe took a fake piece of hair. "R-Rich people...can have...fake hair!?" He cried out, sounding absolutely blown away with the mere idea. The wealthy truly were very different then everyone else...

As soon as the gown was on and his hair was all done he looked in the mirrors and felt his eyes go wide. God, he...looked like a girl...a pretty girl... This was so strange... His hips weren't as round as a woman's and his face, though some what feminine, wasn't as soft as Bebe's, he did look like a lovely, upper class, girl.

"I-Is...Craig going to see me...like this?" Stan asked, wondering if the man was going to take him to this tutor he apparently had lined up for him. If Craig didn't like how he looked he was afraid he was going to be beaten with that belt again... "Do you...think he will like this?" He decided to ask, running fingers through his fake long locks that Bebe was working on styling before Craig came to fetch him. "And...how am I suppose to even wear hair this long?"

"Of course he's going to see you like this," Bebe replied, fixing Stan's hair into an elaborate up-do: loops of hair fashioned into a loose bun piled atop his head, his bangs swept off to the side. "He'd never let you receive a stranger until he'd given his approval." Coming around, she studied Stan's hair, nodding slightly. Picking up a compact on the vanity, she opened it before brushing some powder on the apples of his cheeks.

"Only a little," she commented as she worked, "and I have some clip-on earbobs you can wear, but the master will probably want me to pierce your lobes." She picked up another bottle from the table and opened it, shaking some into her hands before she dabbed it behind Stan's ears. "Lilac toilet water," she said, showing Stan. "It's light so you won't smell like a bordello worker. The master can't stand heavily painted, overly-perfumed women. He thinks they're crass and common."

Studying her work, she rubbed some clear salve onto Stan's lips, making them shine as the sunshine struck them. Plucking up some little pearls, she clipped them onto Stan's ears.

"There, I think you're just about ready," she murmured, fussing with Stan's gown, a knock suddenly coming at the door. "And that'll be the master, right on time." She rolled her eyes before she smiled encouragingly at him. "You'll be just fine. Really, you look very lovely."

Going to the door, she opened it and Craig strode in, his gaze immediately leaping to Stan, his expression one of extreme pleasure as he looked him up and down.

"Nice, very nice," he said, walking around him and appraising Stan from every angle. He flicked one of the earbobs while speaking over his shoulder to Bebe. "You'll be piercing her ears, correct?"

"Yes, sir."

"Wonderful. And I see you were able to lace her tightly enough so that her pretty new gown fits her like a glove." He patted Stan's waist. "You should be excited, dear. You're going to have another gown fitting this afternoon after you've met with your tutor."

"Another gown fitting? But...I have this one...how many gowns do I need?" He asked, still trying to breathe as he was currently confined to the awful corset. He was use to having on set of clothing. Why did people need more then one set? 

"And tutor? I don't really think I need a tutor, I doubt she will be able to teach me anything. Besides, she will think I look foolish dressed like a girl..." He said, trying to avoid the large mirror. He couldn't make a pretty girl, he couldn't be convincing. People had to look at him and think he was a deviant dressed like this!

"I won't listen to that talk anymore, so stop it now," Craig replied, becoming stern. "You are going to be introduced as Leia, and as far as she knows, you want to live your life as a woman. If you tell her otherwise, you will not like the outcome. I promise you."

Walking around Stan again, he tightened his sash and patted his bustle, liking the effect it had on his already plump and pleasing backside.

"Hopefully, you won't have trouble sitting down today after our little talk last night," he added, coming into Stan's line of sight again and giving him a cheeky nod. "As for your fitting, yes, of course you'll need another gown. You can't just traipse around in the same frock every single day. What do you think we are, commoners?"

He turned to Bebe and nodded.

"I'm pleased thus far," he said, noticing her cheeks flushing pink at his praise. "The tutor, Miss Heidi, is down in the parlor. You may show her up now that Leia has passed inspection."

"At once, sir," she replied, rushing from the room. 

"You'll like her," Craig promised, stroking Stan's cheek. "She's strict but she's fair, and she'll whip you into shape in no time."

Soon enough, the door was opening after Bebe afforded them a courtesy knock, and a solemn-faced woman in a black gown entered, her light brown hair up in a simpler bun than Stan's; her dress made of shiny poplin with tight-fitting sleeves and an even tighter bodice. She nodded to Bebe before striding over, a basket on one arm.

"Dr. Tucker," she said, extending a hand that he took, bowing to her slightly. "It's so nice to see you again." She flitted her eyes to Stan; they narrowed. "And this is Leia?"

"Yes, and she's very eager to start her lessons," Craig replied, pushing Stan forward gently. "Aren't you, Leia?"

Stan felt himself break into a cold sweat when Craig threatened to do a repeat of last night if he argued about being called Leia or being referred to as a girl. He bit his lower lip and nodded, his body trembling a bit. He was still in so much pain from the beating to his behind, it was hard to sit. He let out a gasp when he felt his sash tightened even more. He could barely breathe as it was! Why did Craig want his waist to be so small!? 

"I-I'm just not use to having so many garments..." The brunette stammered out, moving to lace his fingers together as he watched as Bebe went to go fetch this so called tutor he was being forced to meet with.

The woman, the tutor, she looked...stern, cold, someone he wouldn't willingly want to speak to. He was already buckling under her intense gaze.

"N-Nice to meet you, Heidi..." Stan said softly, looking back at Craig to make sure he was doing this right, he really didn't want to be beaten again... It had hurt so bad!

"Miss Heidi," she chastised him immediately, her eyes meeting Craig's. He shook his head.

"You'll have to have a mountain's worth of patience with her, I dare say," he said, already beginning to retreat from the room. "If you see fit to punish her, do so; it'll only help her learn."

"It's always helped my pupils in the past," Heidi replied before taking a seat on a small couch situated next to the windows, her back ramrod straight. She began pulling things from her basket and laying them aside: a slate and slate pencil, several small books, a ruler.

"Well, I'll leave you to it," Craig said, slipping out of the door and shutting it softly.

"Sit," Heidi said, glancing at Stan and pointing to a hard wooden chair adjacent to her. "And we'll begin."

Stan watched as Craig left and honestly he didn't know if he felt relieved the man was gone, or, that he had been left alone with Miss Heidi...

When Heidi pointed to a wooden chair Stan nodded his head and moved to gently sit down, wincing a little in pain. The hard wooden seat was murder on his behind. He looked down at his lap, unsure or what to do. He had never gone to school, he had never met a teacher, hell, he couldn't even read or write. Honestly, he was curious what the woman was going to teach him...

"Um...Miss Heidi...what will you be teaching me?" He decided to ask, moving to play with a strand of hair that was falling in his face.

"I'll ask the questions," Heidi replied brusquely, frowning at Stan's atrocious posture. Standing, she began to correct him. "Sit up straight, stop slouching, and you're to keep your legs close together, ankles crossed. Fold your hands in your lap, like that." Stepping back, she eyed him. "I suppose you'll have to do for now, but really, you could never attend a formal luncheon and sit like that. It just isn't done."

She went and sat back down, sighing a little.

"Why the doctor thinks you'll be ready for your debut in a few weeks' time is beyond my understanding, but I suppose I'll just have to work around the impossible task he's given me." She gave Stan a thoughtful look before she spoke again. "I suppose we can simplify matters if you'll tell me what you do know. Can you read or write? Do you possess any artistic skills? Clearly you've had no lessons in deportment, but perhaps you know something that can aid in this endeavor."

Stan blushed a little, feeling embarrassed. "Um...I don't know how to read or write I ain't never gone to school, I worked with my father until he passed away, then, I worked to help around my older sister's home." He said, before managing to look up and meet Heidi's eyes. "I'm really good at fixing things, I helped my father build a lot of stuff. Besides that, I taught myself how to play the piano." The brunette said, biting the inside of his cheek in a nervous fashion. 

"And, Craig wants me to debut in a few weeks? That seems very soon... I don't even know what a debut really is."

"You will be presented to society," Heidi explained, taking in what Stan had told her and trying to process it. There was just so much to correct. "And it will judge you, harshly, so you'd better be ready. Now," she said, rubbing her forehead, "first of all, strike the word 'ain't' from your lexicon, and if you can avoid it, don't say 'stuff.' There are so many better words you can use, but we'll learn that as we go along."

Taking up the slate, she began to write out a few letters: L-E-I-A.

"I'm honestly not surprised you haven't learned to read and write," she commented. "And a lady has no need of fixing things, so forget all that nonsense. I am, however, pleased that you've managed to teach yourself a serviceable skill. Playing the piano is very becoming, so I suggest you brush up on your skills. You may be called to play during a party or gathering." She tapped the slate with the pencil, thinking a moment. "In fact, I know of a very accomplished gentleman who taught himself to play the piano, too; Dr. Kyle Broflovski? I've sat in on some of his recitals and he's just wonderful, but I'm getting off topic."

She held up the slate. 

"We'll start with the basics. This is your name," she pointed to each of the letters in turn, naming them aloud. She handed Stan the slate and pencil. "Now, copy what I've written."

"Miss Heidi, what does lexicon mean?" He decided to asked as she told him to stop saying ain't and stuff. It felt like he was going to have to unlearn everything he had ever learned and start all over again. He remembered how proud his father had been the first time he had helped him build a shed...it was kind of sad that it wasn't important to anyone... He sighed, looking down at his hands, seeing the callouses from chopping wood, they certainly didn't look like a dainty ladies hands.

When Heidi mentioned the other doctor, he wondered if Craig knew him, and, if he was as...strange as Craig was.

"I'll try." Stan said, taking the pencil and trying to figure out how to hold it

He slowly tried to copy what Heidi had wrote down, but, of course they were sloppy and unrefined. As he was writing, the pencil slipped from his grip and caused the lead to scratch against the tablet.

"Awful," Heidi said, picking up the ruler and smacking the backs of Stan's hands. "Do it again, and don't stop until I say you can. Also, lexicon is just another word for vocabulary, the wealth of words at one's disposal."

She quietly watched as Stan struggled over the simple letters, until a knock came at the door.

"Really, we shouldn't be disturbed at a time like this," Heidi said before rising. She gave Stan a stern look. "Keep writing while I handle this."

Going to the door, she opened it and there stood McCormick, a toolbox in his hands. When he saw her, he seemed to freeze, his good eye widening.

"I, uh, that is, I," he stammered, trying to collect himself. He'd known that Stan was going to have a tutor, but he didn't know she'd be so comely. Gruffly, he cleared his throat. "I'm here to attend to the windows, miss -"

"Heidi," she cut him off, moving out of the way. She supposed he was handsome in a rough way, his blonde hair neat and his skin nicely tanned. He had a rugged build, clearly muscular, but his introduction had been decidedly uncouth. "Well, are you going to come in or not?"

"Yes, of course," he replied, skirting around her and going to set down the toolbox, fumbling with it and cursing himself inside of his head. He was not given to clumsiness like this; what the hell was wrong with him?!

"Do try to keep the noise to a minimum," Heidi said, taking her seat again and glancing at Stan's slate. She frowned at the awkward, childish penmanship. She slapped him smartly on the backs of his hands again. "Do it again."

McCormick had to cover his mouth when he wanted to smile, his respect for the women growing exponentially when he saw how no-nonsense she was with Stan. He started to work as quietly as he could, adding locks to the windows as the master had ordered.

"I say, what is your name?" The woman suddenly called, startling him.

He turned, surprised that she would want to know anything about him.

"Uh, McCormick, miss. I'm the doctor's butler and bodyguard."

She raised an eyebrow, a look of disbelief sliding across her countenance. She had a light dusting of freckles on the bridge of her nose and high cheekbones. McCormick found himself staring before he quickly looked away.

"McCormick? Is that your first name? It couldn't possibly be."

"Well, my first name is Kenneth, miss, but I'd prefer not to be called that."

"But, why? Kenneth is a perfectly nice name. Much better than McCormick at any rate."

He practically melted, almost wanting to disappear as he felt a blush rising on his cheeks. He kept his face hidden.

"Well, if you like it, miss; I may have to change my mind." Abruptly, he returned to his work.

"He's an odd one, isn't he?" Heidi asked, leaning toward Stan before frowning at his work. Taking up a cloth, she cleared his work completely before slapping his hands with the ruler once more. "Again."

"Ow!" Stan cried out in pain when he was slapped on the hands with the ruler. It hurt! He felt his poor hands aching as he tried to start writing again. 

He was brought out of thoughts of his pain when he saw McCormick come in. The man still frightened him to no end, especially after the events of last night. He took in a deep breath and watched as the strange man seemed to buckle a little, almost like he was...shy? That didn't make any sense. The man he had known was stoic, cold, and loyal, but, Stan couldn't help but smile a little when he saw a tinge of pink on his cheeks when he spoke to Heidi. 

"I like Kenneth, that's a nice name." Stan decided to say, finding it interesting the man actually had a name other than McCormick.

"Oww!" He cried out again, feeling his hands smacked with the ruler.

He sighed and began to write again...and again...and again...

"Miss Heidi...my hands hurt." He whined, moving to rub his poor red hands after numerous assault via ruler.

"You're not to call me that!" McCormick barked at Stan before returning to his work, annoyed that the doctor's nosy little pet was seeing him act in such a vulnerable way. He moved swiftly, adding locks to the windows but so aware of Heidi's presence that it became overwhelming. Coming closer, he stole tiny glances at her on occasion, thinking himself covert until he tried once more and saw that she was staring at him.

"Ladies don't complain," she said to Stan after he'd complained about his hands. She slapped him again for good measure without unlocking her gaze from McCormick's. "Are you quite alright, Kenneth? You appear peaked all of a sudden."

Having not expected this, he hid his face as he felt sweat standing out on his brow. 

"Indigestion, I'm afraid," he muttered.

"Have the maid bring you some peppermint tea," she suggested, pulling out a book and opening it. "It works wonders for that sort of ailment. Leia," she added, turning to her charge. "Your letters aren't completely terrible, so I suppose we can move onto the alphabet. I just wanted you to become acquainted with your name." She pointed to the letter 'A' and sounded it out. "That's an 'A'. Many words start with it, apple, abomination, ablation, among others." She wiped his slate clean. "Write it down, both upper and lowercase."

Slowly, they went through the alphabet, which took up the majority of the morning while McCormick continued to work on the windows. They were nearly halfway through when Bebe appeared at the door and summoned them for lunch.

"Perfect, now I can get an idea of your table manners," Heidi said, rising from her place. "Come along." She stopped and glanced at McCormick before smiling wryly. "How's your indigestion, Kenneth?"

"Not very well, I'm afraid," he replied, adjusting his eye patch.

"Peppermint," she said, ushering Stan out of the room. "Trust me, it works."

Stan tensed up a little when McCormick snapped at him. He was just trying to compliment the man! He sighed, it didn't seem the strange butler was ever going to like him.

He turned his attention back to writing, moving to write down the letter A as instructed. He was still having a hard time handling the pencil, but, it really didn't help his hands were so sore from all the smacks he had received. 

When Bebe came in with some tea he stood up in suit with Heidi. Apparently now they had to practice table manners. He didn't understand what was so important about that! You just ate and then went back to work, that was what you did! Why did it have to be so complicated!? Did rich people have nothing better to do with their time!?

-------

Hours later, after Heidi finally announced that the first lesson was over and had gone home, Craig came into the room to check on Stan before his dress fitting.

"She seemed very pleased with your progress," he said, tucking a long strand of hair behind Stan's ear. "What did you think of it? If you continue to do well, I may let you play my piano. That would please you, wouldn't it?"

"My hands hurt." Stan said, showing Craig his swollen hands. "I tried to write as best as I could, but, it was hard." He said. "And, she said my voice sounds too deep." He added, blushing a little when Craig gently tucked a lock of raven hair behind his ear. 

He actually smiled a little when the man mentioned the piano. "I would love to play... I will try my best to keep doing good...oh...I mean doing well."

"See? You're learning already," Craig said, stroking his cheek before taking a look at Stan's hands. He rubbed them gently, and saw that they were very red and puffy. He tsked before kissing one of them gently. "We'll use some Sloan's liniment tonight before you retire. It will help with the pain. For now, you need to get fitted for your wardrobe, as well as the gown you'll be debuting in."

He thought a moment as he studied Stan's face, considering his options.

"In fact, I may want you to play the piano when you're presented at the ball," he suggested. "I'm almost certain everyone will be taken in by your beauty, but when they see how accomplished you are, well, that's all the better, isn't it? As for your voice, Heidi will help you with that, as well as your pronunciation. I wouldn't worry about it."

Glancing around, he nodded his head in approval at the locks on the windows.

"McCormick always works so quickly. That's one of the reasons he's so good at his job." 

"Sir," Bebe's voice broke in and he turned to see her standing at the partially-opened door, her sewing kit in her hands. "I'm here for the fitting, but if now isn't a good time -"

"No, come in, come in," Craig replied, waving his hand. He looked at Stan and patted his head. "I think I'll have you play the piano for me this evening, what do you think? I'd like to see for myself just how talented you are."

Stan actually smiled a little. "I would love to play the piano tonight." He said softly. "When Heidi was teaching me, she mentioned another doctor, um...I think she said his name was Kyle? She said he was really talented when it came to playing the piano, that he even gave lessons." He said, watching as Bebe came in with her seamstress equipment in order to outfit him with another new gown. He was glad Craig seemed  to care about his puffy aching hands and had something that would help with the pain.

"And...if you want...I can play at the party. I've never played for people before, I hope they won't think I'm bad at it..."

Craig could feel himself tensing up as soon as Kyle was mentioned, the red-headed, aggravating upstart. True, he was a good doctor, but he put on such airs, and the way he walked around with his head in the clouds, always talking about music and nonsense. He should be dedicated to his actual vocation, the one that mattered, instead of being preoccupied with pursuits of entertainment.

"He's a fool, but you'll learn that soon enough," he said, his voice cooling dramatically. They'd been rivals ever since they'd both started practicing, and Kyle had never been shy about questioning some of Craig's methods; the way he liked to experiment on live subjects. "One of these days he'll wake up and learn his place, but no matter." 

Bebe was already busily unpacking her supplies while she tried not to listen, but it was so difficult. She'd seen the man the master was talking about and she had to admit that she found him undeniably handsome, with his striking hair and gentle mannerisms. He was so different from Dr. Tucker, soft-spoken and reserved at times, but like her master he was fiercely intelligent and opinionated. The rumor mill was very preoccupied with him as well, and she knew it on good authority that several ladies of high standing in society had tried to entice him to court them, but he'd resisted at every turn.

"Send her to the parlor after she's taken her supper," Craig said as he passed by, whispering in her ear. "I'll be in my study working until then, but I'll be interested to see what my little song bird can do."

"Yes, sir," she replied, unfurling her measuring tape. "If that's what you wish."

It seemed Craig knew Kyle and wasn't fond of the man. He wondered what he meant by the other doctor would learn his place. He had said a similar thing to Stan when he first arrived at the Tucker Estate.

He watched as Bebe finished getting her supplies out and Craig whispered something in her ear before leaving. 

As soon as Craig was out of the room he looked over at his maid.

"What did he say?" Stan asked. "I always just assume he is angry with me... He never seems happy with anything I do." He said with a sigh."I had no idea he didn't like this other doctor... I thought maybe they would be friends since they do the same kind of work." He added, watching as the blond measured him. "I don't understand what Craig wants with me..." He added. "I have been asking him about the debut and he won't answer any of my questions... Heidi said a debut was for when a girl was presented to be courted... Does Craig want someone to court me?"

"These are not questions I'm meant to answer," Bebe replied, carefully measuring Stan and writing down her figures in a little book. "It would be improper for me to speculate about the master's intentions. As for what he said to me, he wants you to come to the parlor after you've had your supper, so you can play the piano for him."

Continuing to measure, she gave Stan a look of thinly-veiled pity.

"I'd suggest not asking too many questions if I were you," she said, allowing a moment of unabashed honesty to creep into her servant's persona. "The master always gets what he wants, and for whatever reason he's chosen you. I don't know what the future holds nor do I understand what he really intends for you, but you've turned his head, and for now your life and fate are in his hands. Accept it, and you'll be a lot more content, I think."

------

"We're running late," Craig seethed, checking his pocket watch as he paced at the foot of the grand staircase, dressed in his best suit and his hair perfectly coiffed. It was the night of the gala and Stan's debut, and things weren't going according to schedule; a happenstance that left him infuriated. "How can we be running late?! This is unheard of!"

"I can go and check on the waif, sir," McCormick offered, his thoughts reluctantly pulled from the fetching tutor. Ever since she'd started visiting the house weeks before, he'd become more and more preoccupied with her, and less attuned to his master's needs. He knew this was a huge problem, but he wasn't sure how to go about fixing it, not that he really wanted to.

"No, no," Craig waved his hand before adjusting the flower in his lapel. "She's done so well with her lessons so far, I'm sure Heidi has mentioned punctuality at some point."

"I'm sure, sir," McCormick replied, his mind racing through memories of finding any reason to step into Stan's chambers when Miss Heidi was present. He'd seen Stan laboring over his letters and sums, awkwardly sounding out words as he learned to read and correct his horrid pronunciation. He'd even walked in at one point to see Stan being paraded around the room with a book on his head, his tutor barking commands at him as he stumbled around like a new foal.

"You've been rather off lately, haven't you?" Craig suddenly asked, catching McCormick's eye. "Would you like to tell me what's going on?"

"Indigestion, sir," McCormick replied, falling back on an old standby. 

"I heard you were asked to assist in one of Leia's lessons recently," he continued, giving the manservant a sly smile.

McCormick looked away, annoyed but secretly elated. He'd just happened to be in the room at one point when Miss Heidi had been attempting to show Stan how to waltz.

"Oh, this will never do," she'd said, rubbing her face. "I can't properly show you how to dance like this. You keep trying to lead and it's all wrong. You need to let the man do the leading!" She'd turned and seen McCormick standing there, her eyes had lit up before she'd waved him over.

"Put your arms around me, Kenneth," she'd instructed, knocking him for a loop.

"Er, I, what," he's replied before he'd shaken his head. Clearly, he was hearing things. "What did you say, miss?"

"You heard me, put your arms around me. We need to show this poor clumsy girl how to dance if she's going to be attending a ball. Don't you agree?"

"Well, of course, but I -"

"Now," she'd commanded, taking a hold of McCormick's hands and placing them in the correct places on her anatomy. He'd almost passed out then and there. "You may start at any time, Kenneth."

"Oh, right." Before too long, they'd been waltzing around the room and she'd seemed impressed at his skills. 

"Very nice," she'd murmured before pushing away and glancing at Stan. "Now repeat what you just did with Leia."

He had, but he hadn't enjoyed that turn nearly as much. 

"I helped her learn to dance," he replied, ignoring the way his master was clearly trying to bait him. "She's a quick study in that regard, at least."

"Well, good," Craig replied, noticing Bebe coming to the top of the stairs. "She's quite the accomplished pianist too, I've learned, even if she's had no formal training."

"She's ready," Bebe called, excitement lacing her voice. "Shall I send her down?"

"Yes, yes," Craig replied, exasperated. "Get on with it."

All at once, all of the staff were assembled at the bottom of the stairs, ready for their first glimpse of Mistress Leia on the night of her big debut; all of them collectively holding their breath as they waited.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stan had been getting ready all day, in fact, he was woken early by Bebe to bathe in flowers and oils, have a light breakfast, and then the whole process begun. He was lotioned, powdered, and sprayed with the soft mist of lavender, before Bebe started working on his hair. It had grown longer, rather quickly, and, she didn't have to use as many of the false pieces of hair she once did. She decided to let it hang down that night, having made Stan sleep in curlers to make his long raven locks flow and wavy. It had been incredibly painful paired with the corset he was forced to sleep in, he had barely caught a wink.

The vitamins Craig had been dosing him with were having rather strange reactions to his body. He had noticed his voice started to get softer and higher pitched, his face rounder and softer, his hips more supple, and, perhaps the strangest thing were....the two lumps growing on his chest. He couldn't believe it, they were breasts, he had seen enough breasts to know what they were. When he first discovered them he had screamed and cried until he was labeled being in hysterics. He hated them...they made him a freak...but Craig he was so pleased with them, with everything, including his new hourglass shape thanks to the intense corset training.

Bebe had gone all out for the debut gown; having made a beautiful garment in light pink silk with a bodice stoned with silver crystals and fell off his shoulders. He was cinched into a corset, his waist the smallest it had ever been, and, the two...lumps...forced up and popping out a little from the top of the bodice. The skirt was huge! It had ruffles and drapes all elegantly woven in and given shape by a large set of petticoats and hoop skirt. His cheeks were rosy, his lips glossy and plump, and pearl cameo necklace around his graceful neck.

On top of his head was a pink matching cap with a hint of lace that seemed to make his big blue eyes pop, and, he even had a matching fan made of silk and feathers to carry with him.

Thanks to Heidi it was easy to walk in heels now, so, he was finding it rather simple to make his way to the stairs, holding the gown in his hands so he didn't trip over it. Maybe she would actually be happy with him for once.

His cheeks went red when he saw the entire household was standing there watching him descend the stair case. Hopefully Craig would be pleased with how he looked. He moved to snap the fan open and hide his face behind it.

"I apologize for the delay. I hope I did not keep you all waiting for me." He said softly and elegantly, fanning himself with his silk pink fan, big blue eyes fluttering. He slowly and carefully descended the stairs, not wanting to trip and fall. Craig had mentioned they would be introduced and have to descend a grand staircase at the ball and introduce him to high society. He just hoped Lord Token and Lady Wendy liked him. He hoped Craig was happy with him; he didn't want another...punishment...

Christophe looked up at the pretty brunette and let a lecherous smirk cross his lips. "Très beau J'adorerais voir ce qu'il y a sous ces jupes, petite princesse." He purred, deciding to go into French in hopes no one would understand what he just said. The Master had been rather protective of this little bird and that was unusual for him. It was best for all of them to tread lightly.

"You're a vision," Craig breathed as he placed a hand on the banister, watching Stan making his grand entrance. His dress suited him perfectly, almost like he'd been a caterpillar that had gone through a profound metamorphosis; emerging as a fluttering butterfly, delicate and refined. His mannerisms were soft as was his voice, his pronunciation so much better than when he'd first come to stay. Somehow, he managed to tear his eyes away from the beauty descending the stairs, and he turned to Heidi who was watching with quiet approval, arms crossed.

"She's perfect," he said. "How did you manage it, and in such a short period of time...?

"Could it be that you're admitting your plan was mad from the beginning?" She countered, giving him a small, knowing smile. "Really, Dr. Tucker, just because you can do the impossible doesn't mean that everyone else can." She sighed, her eyes catching McCormick's good one. Unsurprisingly, he was staring at her again, almost like he didn't realize he was doing it. "But, to answer your question, it took a lot of sweat and dedication. I've never had to smack a pupil's hands so many times in my life."

"Well, your reputation proceeds you; you're a miracle worker, clearly," he replied, gazing up at Stan once more. A gravelly voice caught his attention, though, and he glanced back to see Christophe lingering among the servants when he should've been outside with the carriage. He was about to send McCormick to kick him out when he heard him mumble something:

"Très beau J'adorerais voir ce qu'il y a sous ces jupes, petite princesse."

Immediate rage rose in him at these words, knowing that Stan was being ogled and appraised so licentiously; by someone so undeserving. Before he could stop himself, Craig turned away from Stan and strode toward Christophe. Ripping the cigarette dangling from his mouth, he got very close to his face.

"Ferme la merde si tu veux garder ton travail," he seethed, resisting the urge to throttle him. "You seem to forget I can speak your tongue, which is just foolish on your part." He shook his head in disbelief. "If I didn't owe your late father a favor I never would've taken you on, remember that. Now," he pointed toward the door, "get your ass outside and attend to the horses. Unless of course you'd like McCormick to escort you."

"It'd be an honor, sir," McCormick said while coming up beside them. He cracked his knuckles and smirked. 

"Handle this among yourselves," Craig snapped, waving Christophe away. He turned back toward Stan and held out his hand, smiling softly. "Are you ready, my dear? The party can't begin until you're there, and you're the only person in the world I'd want on my arm tonight."

Stan smiled when he heard Craig praise his looks and his behavior. Honestly that made him feel better he was so worried the man wouldn't be happy and then the punishments would come. The punishments were painful, spankings with belts, slaps to his body, sometimes the man even used a wooden paddle on him. His hands still ached from Heidi who had constantly smacked him whenever he did the slightest thing wrong. 

After a few more steps he was on the ground floor, making his way over to Craig. It was hard to breathe, this was the tightest his corset had ever been laced up, but he couldn't pass out...not now anyways. 

"I'm glad you are happy." He said softly, looking down at the ground, a shy pink blush on his cheeks. "I was worried I didn't look exceptional enough for you, Sir." Stan admitted. 

His blue eyes went wide when he saw Craig snap at Christophe for whatever he said. He didn't speak French, but, he could tell just from the look the stable boy was giving him that it was filthy. Christophe had not exactly hid his lust for Stan. 

He decided to just grab onto Craig's arm as he watched McCormick and Christophe leave, both of them glaring at each other. 

"Yes, I'm ready Sir." Stan said softly. "I hope the guests at the party will enjoy my company."

"I've no doubt that you'll be the belle of the ball," Craig replied as he led them through the doors and down the front steps. Christophe had pulled the shining, impressive carriage around and curried the four black horses until they gleamed richly. McCormick had already opened the carriage door and held out a hand to Stan when they approached. Gently, he helped him in before bowing to Craig, a small smile on his lips.

"Since when do you smile out of turn?" Craig asked, climbing inside as well.

"When I have the opportunity to give lazy stable boys a backhand," he replied while gesturing to the Frenchman; he'd taken his rightful place at the front of the carriage, the horses' reins in his hands. Another cigarette was perched in his mouth, the end glowing like a red star in the darkness.

"Keep an eye on him," Craig muttered, closing the door. "He doesn't always remember his place."

"With pleasure, sir," McCormick said. He climbed onto the side of the carriage and took a hold of the railing running along the top. "I'll be watching the proceedings tonight very closely; in case you need me, of course."

-----

Craig could hear the music wafting through the night before he saw the impressive manor. It was sweet and lively, a collection of strings and piano, and it made him anticipate taking Stan into his arms and waltzing him across the floor even more so than before. Looking out the window, he pointed out Lord Token and Lady Wendy's mansion, glowing in the darkness from hundreds of torches lit and leading the way up the winding drive. Numerous carriages were already lined up as the other party guests arrived, passing through the large front doors where even more light poured forth from the foyer; a glimmering chandelier high overhead coming into sight as they drew closer.

"We'll be announced," he said, taking a hold of Stan's hand and squeezing it. "Once we've been escorted into the mansion. I'm sure Heidi already told you what's expected when we're presented, but do not forget to curtsy. Smile graciously when I introduce you to my colleagues and their wives, but don't chatter like a magpie. Do you understand?"

Stan nodded his head, his heart beating fast as the carriage stopped in front of a large manor, perhaps even bigger than Craig's. He let McCormick help him out and then let Craig start to lead him into the ostentatious home. 

"Yes, Miss Heidi went over everything with me Sir, I know a proper lady does not speak when not spoken too." He said simply, holding Craig's arm as he elegantly swayed into the manor with him. The grand entrance had him rather nervous. They would be announced and then come down the large stair case for everyone at the ball to see. He looked down at his chest and still felt disgusted seeing the two small lumps there. He had asked Craig if he could remove them only to be backhanded for asking such a thing. 

As they were walking he couldn't help but notice a rather handsome man step out of a carriage. He was smartly dressed and had red hair.

Dr. Kyle Broflovski was not exactly pleased about being dragged to yet another ball but he supposed it couldn't be helped. His mother had always been the persuasive sort, and he knew that wasn't going to change anytime soon, especially since her wayward son refused to bite the bullet and get married. As long as he chose to be difficult, as she liked to call it, she would continue to insist that he attend all the biggest galas and social events. At the very least, she'd pointed out, he needed to keep up appearances for the sake of his practice.

No, I need to keep up appearances for the sake of your reputation, mother, he thought, frowning as he looked around at the other arrivals in their finery; all of their airs already present and accounted for. Swishing gowns, fluttering fans, solid gold cuff links...it was all so tiresome and needlessly decorative. Where was the substance, the heart? Did it even exist in high society?

"You're being pensive again," a wry voice spoke from behind him, close at his side. "You need to hide your thoughts better if you're going to survive all of this; you realize that, right?"

"At least the music's enjoyable enough," Kyle countered as he cocked his head; a faint melody ushered in on perfumed summer breezes. "Chopin, I believe. Mazurka Op.17 No.4. What do you think?"

Ike Broflovski listened as well, though only for a moment. He'd never been as preoccupied with music as Kyle, of course. He shrugged.

"I suppose. Really, it all sounds the same to me."

"You're lucky you're my little brother," Kyle mused. "I've fought men for less than that." Pausing, he continued to listen before he sighed. "They have to know mazurkas have fallen out of fashion, right?"

"What does it matter? They're still lively," his mother interjected, stepping up beside them with her husband at her side. The Lady Broflovski was dressed less ostentatiously than the other women but still looked regal, clothed in a simple gown of dark blue. "And I'll thank you to keep an open mind tonight, Kyle. There are so many lovely girls here." Cocking a brow, she pointed out a vision drifting through the crowd on the arm of Dr. Tucker. "Like her, for example. Look at that dress, and her eyes...she appears as if she's always lived in a garden somewhere."

Kyle glanced where she pointed, though only in passing. He couldn't help rolling his eyes at his mother's colorful, romantic way of speaking.

"Yes, mother. She's attractive but what of it? Is that all she is? What if she's boring or silly?" Breaking away from his family, he started making his way toward the entrance. "Can't we look beyond appearances for once? That's all I want, really."

For a moment, he studied the strange girl's back before his eyes drifted to her escort, Dr. Craig Tucker. Where did he meet such a girl, he'd like to know, and why was he holding onto her so tightly, so possessively? Kyle had known the man for quite some time and while he considered him a capable physician, he'd never really developed any trust for him. His methods were so outlandish, so odd, so -

Brutal, he thought. He's not kind, not in any sense of the word, so I can only imagine what he had to do to rope that poor girl to his side. Who is she?

"We're next, darling," Craig whispered close to Stan's ear as he tried to ignore the feeling of being watched. He didn't want to focus on anyone other than Stan at that moment, as they stepped to the top of the sweeping staircase and looked out over the dance floor. Their hosts had gone all out with the decorations, the Great Room filled with flickering candlelight and garlands strung along the walls and banisters. The floor had been polished and their was a large grouping of musicians sitting off to the side, drenching the air with music. 

A voice boomed out of nowhere as Craig and Stan drifted toward the head of the stairs:

"Presenting Dr. Craig Tucker and his companion, the Lady Leia Van Marsh."

"Don't let me down," Craig spoke into Stan's ear again as he squeezed his arm. "All eyes are on you."

 

Stan just nodded his head, his heart was racing when he heard their names called. He quickly tightened his grip on Craig's arm and prayed to God he didn't trip down the stairs, making a fool of himself. Back before he had even met Craig he was notorious for being clumsy. He looked around, fancy women and men looking up at him, whispers leaving their lips about him. 

"What a pretty girl? I've never seen her before?" One woman whispered to her friend. 

"Perhaps Doctor Tucker has finally found a wife." Another woman added, fanning herself. "Such a darling too, she looks so young."

Stan took in a deep breath as he focused on each step. It felt like their were millions of them. He just wanted to get to the ground. 

Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, his high heeled feet touched the ballroom floor and everyone started to clap for them.

 

Craig couldn't help but puff up with pride at the sound of the applause surrounding them. Looking around, he smiled, taking care to keep Stan close to his side. The room was full of familiar faces, some of them envious and others awash in obvious interest and curiosity. He'd guessed right when it came to his companion: everyone in the room wanted to know more about her. Society always adored a good mystery.

"Oh, before I forget," he said, pulling an ornately decorated booklet from his pocket; the cover matching the shade of Stan's dress perfectly and covered with delicate painted flowers. He handed it to Stan, their fingers brushing. "Your dance card. I already took the liberty of penciling myself in for the first three dances."

All at once, the booming voice spoke again, breaking into the moment:

"Presenting Lord Gerald Broflovski and Lady Sheila Broflovski."

"Oh, lord," he muttered, glancing back to see the dark-haired gentleman lead his portly wife across the floor. "If they're here that must mean -"

"Presenting Dr. Kyle Broflovski."

"Of course," Craig seethed, taking a tighter hold of Stan's arm. "Right on time."

"Oh, Gerald, there they are, there!" The Lady Broflovski was making a beeline right for them, and before Craig could pull Stan through the crowd, the elder couple was standing in their way. Sheila peered at Stan, her green eyes bright; eyes that were too similar to Kyle's for Craig to feel at ease in her presence.

"My dear, I just had to come over to tell you that your gown is exquisite," she gushed, clutching at her husband's elbow. "Why, Gerald and I just returned from a season in Paris and I didn't see anything even half as gorgeous there. Wherever did you get it?"

"It was custom-made, of course," Craig interjected, the first caustic stirrings of irritation building in his stomach. How he detested this nosy, talkative woman, and not just because she'd seen fit to birth Kyle Broflovski. "By one of the girls in my employ, the Lady Leia's chambermaid."

"Well, it's certainly fine," she replied, her tone cooling when she addressed Craig. "You know who would appreciate such craftsmanship? My son, Kyle." She turned to Stan and leaned forward, almost appearing conspiratorial. "He's a doctor, dear, much like your -"

She gave Craig an appraising look before continuing:

"Escort for the evening."

 

"Oh, thank you, I'm looking forward to dancing." Stan said with a small smile, taking the dance card and placing it in his small matching pink drawstring bag. He loved dancing, though he had never danced properly before meeting Heidi, but, he had learned how to waltz and actually loved it. He had forced McCormick to practice with him all the time, actually getting the mysterious one-eyed man to smile when he begged him to dance with him. 

He felt an arm wrap around his tiny waist and watched as an older couple made their way down the stairs followed by the handsome redhead he had spied earlier. 

Gerald cleared his throat and moved to shake Craig's hand. "It's nice to see you again Doctor Tucker, and, a pleasure to meet you Lady Leia." He said, giving a bow to the pretty brunette. "We've never seen you around before, where have you been hiding this one Doctor Tucker?" He asked with a laugh, before quickly being shut down by Sheila's rambling.

Stan gave a sweet smile when the older woman complimented his dress. "Thank you Lady Broflovski, pink is my favorite color, and, my chambermaid Bebe is such a wonderful seamstress, I'm so lucky to have her employed." He said, putting a dainty hand to his chest. "But, it must have been fabulous to go see Paris, I've always wanted to go." He cooed, watching as Sheila leaned in and started speaking about her son, the redheaded doctor.

 

Reluctantly, Craig shook Lord Broflovski's hand as he kept a close watch on the meddling of Kyle's mother. As expected, it didn't take long for her to make mention of her son. Snapping back to the matter at hand, he answered the inquiry of Kyle's father indifferently.

"She only came to stay with me recently," he replied, not offering up additional information. He'd made it a habit not to explain anything if he didn't see the express purpose of it. Besides, the less the Broflovski family knew, the better.

"Oh, Paris was a dream, it always is," Sheila gushed as she glanced around, looking for Kyle. "Excuse me, dear. I'll be right back."

Holding up her gown, she skirted through the crowd where her sons were standing against the wall, watching the waltz already in progress. As usual, they weren't mingling, and Kyle looked exceptionally bored, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his perfectly-tailored jacket. He raised his eyebrows in silent question at his mother's approach.

"You look excited," he commented passively. "Whose affairs are you prying into now, mother?"

"Let's have none of that," she replied, her tone impatient as she took a hold of his arm. "You must come over here and meet someone. You'll like her, Kyle; she's sweet, engaging -"

"She's here with Craig," he cut her off before tugging his arm away. "She's spoken for, and what's more, I thought we agreed there'd be no matchmaking tonight."

Sheila scoffed before taking a firmer hold of her son, her fingers digging in.

"She's hardly spoken for." She pulled him so hard he almost fell forward. "She may have arrived to the ball with him, but that doesn't mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. Ask her to add you to her dance card."

"Why should I do that?" He asked, an edge developing in his voice as he was practically dragged across the floor. "I don't even know this girl, mother."

"Well, let's change that," she said, suddenly skirting behind her son and pushing him forward. Almost losing his footing, he caught himself at the last moment, his eyes on the floor; an edge of pink gown in his field of vision. Looking up, he came face to face with the girl from before.

"Lady Leia Von Marsh," Sheila chirped, coming around Kyle. "May I present my son, Dr. Kyle Broflovski."

Righting his mussed suit, Kyle clenched his jaw as he cursed his mother out inside his head. Studying the girl's face, he had to admit she was pretty, very pretty even, but that didn't really mean anything. There were plenty of pretty girls scattered about; they weren't exactly rare.

"Pleasure to meet you, my lady," he almost sighed, bowing slightly. "It's a lovely party so far, don't you think?"

 

Stan was quite surprised for Lady Broflovski to leave only to return with her grown son, pushing him towards him. He put a hand over his mouth to cover the giggle from seeing the poor man almost fall because of it. 

"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance Doctor." The brunette said softly, giving a polite curtsy. "This party has been wonderful so far, I'm a little nervous actually, I haven't been to many parties, tonight is my introduction to society, I fear I would make a fool of myself." He admitted, looking over to where Craig was standing near by. "You must know Craig, since you both work in the same field." He said, folding his hands over each other. He really hated small talk, it had never been easy for him before meeting Craig and it wasn't easy now. He never believed in saying anything just to pass the time, words were precious, why waste them on people who didn't give a single care of what you thought.

"I will be playing the piano this evening, I hope you will enjoy what you hear." He added sweetly.

 

"You play?" Kyle asked, surprised. He flicked his eyes to Craig, who was giving him his patented death stare. He couldn't help but take pleasure in it, knowing on some level that his interaction with the pretty girl was no doubt twisting a knife in the man's side. Clearing his throat, he nodded his head in Craig's direction.

"Dr. Tucker."

"Dr. Broflovski," Craig replied after a noticeable pause. Willing himself to stay calm, he managed a tight, small smile. "You're looking well."

"It's a front," Kyle said easily before turning back to Stan. "What do you play? Who taught you?"

"She plays a great deal of Chopin and Rimsky-Korsakov, some Tchaikovsky," Craig supplied, pulling Stan closer to his side. He dug his fingers into his arm, signalling him to behave and let him do the talking. "And she taught herself, if you must know," he added, a touch of pride in his voice.

Surprise at this bit of information lit up Kyle's brain, and he couldn't help but look at the girl with growing interest.

"Is that so?" He asked, coming a step closer, catching a ribbon of her perfume; lilac and something else, something very sweet. "I had the pleasure of seeing The Sleeping Beauty when my family traveled to Boston last year. Tchaikovsky's compositions suit the story so well, don't you think? The whimsy of such a tragic tale."

"Yes, well," Craig replied, pulling Stan behind him; shielding him from view. "That's probably true, but we have to be moving on, I'm afraid. The Lady Leia has promised the first three dances to me, so -"

"Speaking of dances," Kyle interrupted, stepping to the side and catching Stan's eyes again. He smiled and gestured to his little bag. "May I ask to be added? To your dance card, I mean? That is, if you still have room for another." Making sure to keep his face turned, he winked suddenly.

 

Stan tried to hide the pain when Craig dug his fingers into his arm. He knew better than to talk out of turn when the man did that. It was rather obvious Craig was not a fan of the redheaded doctor. It really wasn't helping that this other doctor was rather handsome. He tried to hide his blush by holding his fan up and covering his face. Kyle was tall and built, looking like he had a bit of muscle to him. He towered over Stan, just as Craig did, but, his voice was so soothing and his their was something about the red facial hair that was well groomed on his face.

When the doctor asked for his dance card Stan bit his lower lip. Heidi had taught him it was rude to turn a man down if their was room on his card... He just hoped Craig wouldn't be angry, he was just trying to be proper.

"Of course..." He said softly, moving to open his little bag and take out the delicate dance card. He handed it to Kyle and tried to hide a blush when the handsome redhead winked at him.

 

Kyle could feel Craig staring at him as he wrote in the little book, signing his name with a small flourish at the end. He went to hand it back to Stan when Craig swooped in and grabbed it from him, eyes narrowing as he studied it. Snapping his focus back to Kyle, his face reddened when he spoke next.

"You can't put yourself down for that many dances," he said, rage overtaking him as he looked into Kyle's smug, satisfied face. "It isn't proper!"

"Neither is keeping a lady occupied for the first three dances, but you saw fit to do that, didn't you?" Kyle countered, the smile falling from his face as he assumed a passive expression. "Relax, Dr. Tucker. It's a party, isn't it? Besides, your guest is new here; it'd be rude if she didn't mingle."

"It isn't mingling if she's attached to you for the rest of the evening!" 

"Well, we'll have to part company on this argument, I suppose," Kyle replied as he ran a hand through his hair. "We just have differing points of view."

"What a surprise," Craig snapped as he stuffed the damnable book back in Stan's bag. Just then, a new waltz started up and he began pulling him toward the floor, giving Kyle one last dirty look. "If you'll excuse us," he added, not bothering to acknowledge anyone else as they departed.

"My lady," Kyle said before Stan disappeared into the group of dancing couples. "I'll be waiting for you."

 

Stan didn't know what to say, how was another wealthy man finding him...attractive? He felt Craig grab his card and shove it violently into his bag. Soon enough, he was being whisked away from Kyle, away from the other group of people. 

"Craig...I'm sorry...I didn't know what to do..." He said softly. "Miss Heidi said it was rude to turn a gentleman down when you still had spots free on your card." He said, moving to wrap his arms around the taller man's shoulders, pressing his small form against his. He could feel the two lumps on his chest gently caressing Craig's chest and soon enough, the were slowly dancing, his gown flowing as they moved around. The music was sweet and light, he felt like he was in some kind of fairy tale, whether that fairy tale would have a happy ending, that he was unsure of.

He felt Craig tighten his grip around his waist.

"This ball is truly lovely." He said softly trying to make conversation with his temperamental partner.

 

"It was lovely until that horse's ass decided to infringe on our good time, my triumph," Craig replied, easily falling into the waltz that was being played, though truth be told he'd never been overly fond of dancing. It always seemed a careless, frivolous pastime, but he was happy to be holding Stan close as the music wafted through the air like the golden candlelight. He let out a long, frustrated breath.

"I should've known he'd be taken with you once he learned you could play the piano," he said, more to himself than anyone else. "That's just in line with his character, the little that he possesses. He's always been preoccupied with the arts...it makes me wonder why he became a doctor in the first place." 

Trying to maintain a facade of strict control, Craig steered Stan through the other swaying couples. He looked down at him, his frustration evident in his voice, if not his demeanor.

"Don't fall for his romantic, sensitive nonsense," he warned, pressing Stan ever closer. "He'll try to win you over with his talk of music and his obvious hatred for society; the order of things, but it's all pretty words and manipulation. Remember that." 

Looking across the crowd, Craig managed to find Kyle immediately, which wasn't hard considering he was watching the pair as they floated across the dance floor. They locked eyes, the tension between them palpable.

"How many dances did you put yourself down for?" Ike asked as he sipped from a flute of champagne. "It isn't like you to sign anyone's dance card."

"Four or so, I think. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be interested in any of these mindless girls, but I'd like to think that one is different," Kyle replied, meeting Craig's icy stare but not backing down. In his peripheral, he could see Stan being led and twirled, dress swirling around his slender figure, and his fingers tightened around his own glass of champagne. "First of all, she taught herself to play the piano, which is already difficult, but she's managed to catch Tucker's attention. That alone tells me there's something to her that's worth giving a second glance."

"That's true," Ike conceded. "Tucker isn't one to really take an interest in anyone of the opposite sex as a general rule. The only girl I can remember him attending to at all was his sister, but I think that was more out of a sense of duty."

"No, he needed to control her, but luckily she escaped," Kyle replied, remembering the younger Tucker sibling before she'd married and moved far away. "We were friends a long time ago, and while she loved her brother she had to admit his brand of affection was...more cloying than anything."

"Do you think that girl is in some sort of danger?"

Kyle shook his head, finally breaking eye contact with Craig to settle on Stan completely.

"I don't know, honestly. She's intriguing at the very least...that much I can say."

 

"You don't care for Doctor Broflovski, do you?" Stan asked, basically stating the obvious. He held onto Craig as they spun around the dance floor. "He seemed rather kind, but, I trust your judgements." He said, lying a bit at that. When Craig spun him he caught a glimpse at the handsome redhead, letting a smile cross his plump lips. He was excited to dance with the man he seemed so different then Craig...

"Am I dancing well Craig?" He asked, moving to flash the brunette a sweet smile. "It feels good being in your arms, you are so strong." He cooed, wanting to make the man happy.

 

"You're dancing well enough," Craig sighed as yet another waltz began and everyone shifted into the two-step. Only one dance to go and then Kyle would come to claim what was not so rightfully his. Annoyance mixed with his anger to hear Stan referring to the man as kind, though he could see why he'd think that way. 

"He's charming, I'll give him that," he added, moving to shift Stan behind a grouping of people so he wasn't so easily seen by Kyle. "He was that way back in medical school as well...getting away with murder because he could talk himself out of anything. It was infuriating. But, no, you're absolutely right. I don't care for him."

Laying his head against Stan's hair, Craig tried to sort through his feelings regarding his past with Dr. Broflovski. It was complicated, the whole affair, because at one point he'd considered them friends even if they'd always had a rivalry; they'd loved to debate one another back in their school days. Each was blessed with a quick mind, so naturally they'd enjoyed going head to head.

But Kyle was also infuriatingly obsessed with rules and following a certain path. He didn't like to stray into darker territory, he didn't like to take risks, and Craig thought medicine could only be advanced if people were willing to get their hands dirty on occasion. It was when they'd disagreed on this point that their paths had diverged.

"Kyle doesn't agree with some of my methods," he finally said, though he didn't want to disclose too much, lest Stan ask too many questions. "He thinks I have a penchant for disregarding what he views as ethical, but he's just stubborn. He thinks his way is the only way, but I like to forge my own paths. I'm not afraid to break new ground in my field...even if it means I have to do it alone."

Pulling away, he looked into Stan's eyes, wanting him to understand on some level.

"He views matters in terms of good and evil, black and white," he explained. "But he refuses to see that the world is drenched in grey, and those are the areas I care about."

Suddenly, they could hear a throat being cleared behind them, and Craig turned to see Kyle standing there. He'd become so involved in trying to explain himself to Stan that he hadn't realized the music had stopped.

"May I?" Kyle asked, coming forward and reaching out his hand toward Stan; pointedly ignoring the murderous expression on Craig's face.

 

"You went to medical school with him? You must have known him for a long time." Stan said, swaying to the music and trying to keep his steps in order. He didn't want to mess up, so far, this night had been going well, and, he didn't want to ruin it for Craig. When the man started to speak of his methods he couldn't help but tense up a little. Stan had been a victim of those 'methods' they had gone farther than just into the grey, into what was ethical, they were experiments, experiments on human beings. He knew that was all he was, some kind of...monster the doctor had created for his pleasure. If anyone were to actually find out who he was...what he was...they would think of him only as a freak... 

"I suppose he probably wouldn't like me then..." He said softly, speaking of his mutilated body. He tried to focus on the dance, hearing Craig speak with venom about his dislike for the other doctor, well, until the music stopped and said doctor came towards them, holding out a hand for him.

Stan looked over at Craig, wanting to make sure it was okay to accept. Heidi would have told him he would need to dance with the man, he signed his card, but, he didn't want to anger his escort.

 

"Go on," Craig said, relinquishing his hold on Stan, albeit with extreme reluctance. "He played by the rules, just like always, so I have no choice but to give him his due. But," he added, leaning close to Stan's ear. "Behave. If you don't, I'll know."

Drawing away, he began to walk off the dance floor, stopping next to Kyle and giving him a pointed look.

"You know, what I find odd about you is that you're obsessed with adhering to the order of things, but you never fail to manipulate circumstances to suit your designs." He smiled slowly, having to quell the urge to pull the dagger from his suit jacket on his unsuspecting rival. "Wouldn't you say that makes you a hypocrite, Dr. Broflovski?"

"No, I'd say it makes me an opportunist, and a skilled one at that," Kyle parried easily before he turned his back on Craig. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm owed a fair amount of dances, aren't I?"

Looking at Stan, he smiled kindly before bowing a little. He glanced up, dazzled by the girl in front of him, framed in candlelight and the music rushing around them; a lively waltz that he could play from memory if he chose to.

"Don't be afraid," he murmured, wanting to put the girl at ease, because she was clearly intimidated by her benefactor. "I don't mean you any harm, and it seems like you enjoy dancing. Let's take a turn together, shall we? We can put everyone else to shame."

 

Stan felt his breath hitch in his throat when he heard Craig tell him he would know if he didn't behave himself. He felt his body break into a cold sweat as he nodded his head slowly. "Of course Sir, I would never think of doing anything to upset you."
He said, turning to Kyle and hesitantly accepting his hand. 

"I'm sorry...I'm just...nervous..." Stan stammered out, looking back at Craig. He looked so angry... "I've never been to a ball before..." He said softly, allowing the handsome redhead to wrap his arms around his waist and Stan slowly moved to wrap his arms around his shoulders. 

"I do rather enjoy dancing... I hope I will not disappoint you." Stan said, taking in a deep breath as Kyle started to lead. 

"Why did you wish to dance with me so many times, Doctor Broflovski?" He decided to ask. "Their are many other ladies in attendance tonight."

 

"I'm well aware of that," Kyle replied as the music built into a crescendo that filled him with an inexplicable joy; he clutched Stan tighter, marveling at his lightness, his frailty. "I've danced with many of these girls before, Lady Leia, and I've almost fallen asleep on my feet in their presence. They're boring, they're vapid...they..." he shrugged, moving the girl further and further away from Craig's gaze. "I've no interest in them, as friends or anything else. They've nothing to offer, and truth be told, I have nothing to offer them."

Holding her tighter, Kyle nearly sighed into her softness and scent, noticing that her dancing wasn't perfect but it had a strange, out of the way quality; his mother's words suddenly coming back to him all of a sudden:

"...She appears as if she's always lived in a garden somewhere."

"Where are you from?" He asked, maneuvering Stan closer to the wide open balcony doors, where the stars could be seen trembling in the night sky outside. "There's something different about you, something I can't place."

Craig watched the couple moving away from him, heading straight for the balcony where the doors were open and letting in the warm breezes. Gritting his teeth, he glanced around, unsurprised to see McCormick fading into an alcove and almost disappearing. If Craig hadn't known what to look for, his gaze would've skipped right over the man like he was part of the architecture. Quickly, he approached, taking care to make sure no one noticed him exiting the floor.

"He's leading Leia outside, where I can't see them," he said, fury making his tone colder than usual. "He knows I won't follow because it would create a spectacle, but I know you can be far more discreet. Can't you?"

"That's my job, sir," McCormick replied before popping his neck. 

"Then follow them, and report back to me what you see. Understand?"

"Of course, sir," the manservant replied before taking his leave. Craig watched as he stayed close to the perimeter of the room, movements agile and smooth. Very soon, he was slipping through the balcony doors after Stan and Kyle; just becoming another shadow.

 

"Why would you say that? I'm sure you would have much to offer any lady in this room? Lots of women would love a doctor to wed." He said, letting a laugh escape his lips when Kyle nearly swept him off his feet. Unlike the dancing he did with Craig which was so rigid and stiff, Kyle was so...free... He couldn't help but smile up at the handsome man, feeling his heart start to beat rapidly.

"You're a fantastic dancer." He said, before raising an elegant brow. "May I ask why you consider me not to be boring or vapid? I'm rather curious... I wasn't expecting anyone to pay me much mind at this affair." The brunette admitted, seeing that they were dancing towards the balcony. He held onto the redhead tight and smiled, looking up at the night sky.

"It's so beautiful out here..." He said softly, before feeling himself tense a little when Kyle asked where he was from. What should he say!? Tell him he was from the slums? He didn't even know how to phrase it... 

"Oh...I'm from London..." The brunette said, hoping that answer would suffice. "But, it doesn't really matter where I came from right? I'm here now, that is all that matters."

 

"Ah, London," Kyle said, turning this response over in his mind. Something didn't feel quite right about this answer, but he decided not to press. "You're far from home, but hopefully I can help you feel welcome here."

Cradling Stan like he was nothing more than a breath of air, Kyle waltzed him around the balcony as the stars throbbed overhead; white points of light keeping watch over the lonely, wandering moon. It was full, blue and white, and its light was so strong that he could make out his counterpart's features perfectly. Brushing some hair from Stan's forehead, he suddenly thought the girl's eyes were some of the most honest he'd ever seen; lacking pretense or the things he so often saw, greed and deceit. 

"You've given me no reason to think you're boring or vapid so far," he murmured, resting his face against soft, dark hair. "Maybe I'm making snap decisions and you'll prove me wrong, but if you love music as much as I do...if you took the time to teach yourself piano, there must be something to you that's worth knowing."

Suddenly, without being able to stop himself, perhaps because of the moonlight frosting the girl's skin and rendering her ethereal, Kyle brushed his lips against her warm, perfumed tresses. Nearly shuddering, he did it again, afraid that the girl would slap him and tell him to stop, but too arrested by her mystery to move away. 

"I've been waiting for so long to find someone I can truly talk to," he admitted, slowing down as he held the girl as tightly as he dared. "It's lonely, being on the fringes of society and unable to assimilate...all I want is another person to listen, and really hear me when I speak. Have you ever felt that way?"

Crouching low behind a shadowed recess, the area before him studded with plants and a bench, McCormick watched this exchange with a narrowed eye. Nothing escaped his notice, especially the kiss Dr. Broflovski left in the waif's hair. He was bold and foolish, but it made sense; he had no idea he was being watched.

The master isn't going to like this, he thought, watching as the couple continued to spin under millions of silent, watchful stars. Not at all.

 

"Doctor Broflovski..." The brunette said, feeling the man press a tender kiss to his head and brushing his bangs out of his face. Of course doing so showed off the scar he earned when he tried to escape from Craig. It was small but it was noticeable and Craig always demanded he wear his hair to cover it. 

He knew he should have slapped the man for the kiss, but, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't know this man, he just met him, but their was something about him... He put a hand to his warm cheek and closed his eyes. 

"I understand being lonely..." He admitted, looking away from kyle. "As a child my mother died of cholera and my father of liver issues, my sister in childbirth...I've always been alone..." He said, before shaking his head. "But Doctor Broflovski I fear you would not care for me if you really got to know me..."

Of course he had no idea they were being watched. 

"Doctor Tucker would not be happy if he knew we were out here together like this..." Stan said, looking back into the ballroom.

 

"I can decide that for myself and Dr. Tucker is the least of my concerns right now," Kyle replied, his heart hurting to hear about the girl being left all alone in the world; with no one to turn to except Craig Tucker, it would seem. Wanting to cheer her up, he suddenly stopped dancing and took a hold of her hand, raising his focus toward the night sky draped over top of them. 

"There," he said, pointing toward a cluster of stars near the horizon, "Cygnus the swan. And over there," he added, turning Stan's focus toward another point in the endless sky, "is Aquila, the eagle." Grinning, he turned to the girl at his side, wanting to see her smile...wanting to lift the sorrow from her eyes. 

"Aren't they beautiful? How can anyone be sad when there's so much beauty in the world...it's all around us." Slowly, he brought Stan's hand to his mouth and kissed the back of it; his lips lingering for just a moment. "Or right in front of us, as the case may be."

Oh, the master really isn't going to like this, McCormick thought, finally deciding that he'd seen enough. In the ballroom, he could hear yet another waltz ending and another readying to begin. Carefully, he crept from the shadows and back through the balcony doors, hellbent on finding Dr. Tucker and telling him what he'd seen. Soon enough, he was back in the alcove from before, his master's face contorting with nearly uncontrollable rage as he listened to his manservant's outpouring.

"And you're sure of what you saw?" He asked, his jaw clenched as he stared hard at McCormick. "You have to be sure."

"It's as I told you, sir," McCormick replied, his voice soft as the couples on the dance floor continued their mindless twirling. "He kissed her hair. Twice, actually, and then he kissed her hand...like he had a right to her, like they were betrothed or promised to each other."

"I'll kill him," Craig seethed, his posture still but his face finally giving everything away; every murderous notion. "And she'll be punished...severely."

"Sir, if I may speak," McCormick started carefully.

"What is it, then?" Craig barked, eyes flashing as he turned to him.

"I wouldn't act rashly, not here. Dr. Broflovski is well-respected in the community, and if any harm should come to him -"

"Don't be daft," Craig interrupted, adjusting his collar. "I shall bide my time, just like any reasonable man would do. He'll get his, but I'll start with Leia; teach her a lesson about misplaced loyalty."

"Very good, sir."

"Now, fetch her away from her rendezvous, if you will," Craig said, beginning to walk from the alcove. "It's about time she performed for the assemblage, as she already promised." He let out a long, shuddering breath as he tried to work through his umbrage. "Not that a promise means very much to her."

 

Chapter Text

Stan smiled as he looked up at the stars. "You know so much...I didn't know stars had names." He admitted, a blush coming across his cheeks. "I use to go outside and look at the stars all the time... I had to help out around our home as much as I could after my mother passed, but, I always felt like she was looking down on me when I looked up at the sky, and the stars." He said, closing his eyes as he took in a deep breath. "Can you show me some more stars with names?" He asked, having absolutely no idea what a constellation was. Yes, he knew how to write and read some what now thanks to Heidi, but, their was still so much he didn't know.

When he heard Kyle express his joy of the beauty of the night sky...and...perhaps of him, he blushed, he blushed even more when he felt lips press against the back of his hand. His heart was fluttering and he felt like he was short of breath, he had never felt this way before. 

"Doctor Broflovski, I really don't deserve all your kindness..." He said, biting his lower lip. If Kyle knew what he really was, that he was just an experiment Craig had created, crafted, he would be disgusted by him. "My...escort for the evening...he has a temper...he will be angry with me if he sees you acting so friendly with me."

"He'll be angry either way," Kyle replied easily, having no fear of Craig because he knew his type. He could be brutal, calculating, but at the end of the day he operated in the shadows, and he usually had other people do his dirty work. He wasn't blind, after all; he'd seen his rival's manservant with the one eye skulking about more than once. It was obvious that the strange, quiet gentleman was more than a mere butler; no, he would resort to violence on behalf of his master. Anyone who knew Craig at all could see that. 

A thought struck him though, which put him off his usual cavalier approach to the world. It was true that Craig couldn't really do anything to him, at least not at the moment, but what of his charge? She was vulnerable and not equipped to fight back, trapped under her benefactor's thumb in every conceivable way; what of her?

"You'd like to see more stars, huh?" He asked, trying to be nonchalant. Glancing up at the sky, he lifted Stan's hand as he traced out another pattern. "Sagittarius," he whispered, connecting the points of light with her small finger. "A centaur, half man, half horse. They're constellations, not singular stars...they make pictures, most of them based on mythology and stories so old they've been carried down through the centuries."

Carefully, he looked over and studied Stan's profile, bathed in moonlight and appearing so innocent. He almost shuddered to think what Craig had in store for her, knowing him.

"That scar on your forehead," he started, softly. "May I ask where you got it? Is it very old, or is it...more recent?"

"Such big names they have." The brunette mused, smiling as the redhead showed him yet another constellation. He started to giggle when the redhead told him about a centaur. "Half man, half horse? That sounds ridiculous." He said, giggling a bit more at the mere thought of it. "I didn't think stars could make up pictures...how...interesting." He said, smiling a little as he started to relax next to the kind redheaded doctor. "Is...there a con-stell-a-tion that makes you think of me?" He asked, trying his best to say that large word by breaking it down into smaller ones like Heidi had showed him.

He was almost too deep in awe at the night sky to even answer Kyle's question about his scar. He quickly moved his hand up to cover it.

"Oh...I fell horseback riding..." Stan said softly. "Thankfully Craig was able to fix me up quickly." 

"Oh, did he? Well, that's good, I suppose," Kyle replied, Stan's tone just making him more concerned. She was holding something back, he could feel it, but he didn't want to pry. Instead, he laughed softly at her pronunciations and obvious wonder at the lessons he was imparting. This girl was proving to be sweet and charming, clearly not trying to impress him in order to secure a proposal of marriage. If anything, she just seemed like she needed kindness and a friend.

"Well, if I had to choose just one constellation," he said, tapping his chin, "I suppose it would have to be Pegasus, the winged horse. There's a story about the creature's birth that says it sprang from the blood of a decapitated monster, Medusa." He shrugged and looked back up at the sky, feeling like he could become lost in the endless blue of it...almost as lost as he felt standing next to this girl. "I guess it just brings to mind the idea that something beautiful can spring from tragic or barbaric circumstances."

Impetuously, he gently turned Stan to face him, wanting to ask her a million questions in that moment; wanting to make sure that she would be safe and taken care of in her current circumstances. He wanted to know if she needed help...wanted to remind her she wasn't as alone as she may think.

"Leia," he started, daring to go without her formal title. "Look, I know we just met, and we're essentially strangers to one another, but I want you to know, if you ever need to talk to someone...if you ever need anything, I'm here. Will you remember that?"

"Well, isn't this unbearably sweet," a voice broke in, making Kyle jump in front of Stan without a second thought; his hand going to his pocket where his knife rested. Through the moonlight, a dark figure approached them, tall and large and imposing. They lifted their head, one eye winking in the gloom. 

"Oh, it's you," Kyle said, recognizing Craig's manservant, though this knowledge didn't really provide any comfort. "What do you want? Can't you see we're occupied."

"That's of no consequence," McCormick replied, drawing forward and taking a hold of Stan's arm. "The master has called his mistress away. It's time for her to uphold the promise she made."

"Promise?" Kyle asked, momentarily confused before the pieces clicked into place. "Oh, you mean playing the piano for everyone."

The man nodded, pulling Stan forward, fingers locked around his small arm.

"Come along, miss," he said, turning his back on Kyle. "You know the master doesn't like to be kept waiting."

"Such a story and for it to just come from the stars." The brunette said in awe. "You really think I am like that...winged horse? I guess I always wanted to fly free but I don't know if I would consider myself beautiful...or even tragic..." He admitted, before blushing a little when the man compared him to a beautiful mythical creature.

He smiled a bit more when the redhead told him he could talk to him or come to him in his time of need. "I..I will keep that in mind, Doctor Broflovski. I really enjoyed our dance together and telling me about all the stars. I'll think about you when I look up at the night sky." He said, 

He felt Kyle take his hands and green eyes look into his, he wished this could last forever. He had never felt like this before, he never felt...lighter than air. He just wanted to stay and talk to this man all night long.

Well, until McCormick came out from the shadows. Stan let out a cry of fear when he saw the one-eyed man. This couldn't be good... He knew he was going to tell Craig, and Craig was going to be so angry and punish him!

"Oh...yes...of course...I'm coming right away." He said, taking the arm McCormick offered him to lead him back. "It was nice to meet you Doctor Broflovski, thank you for teaching me all those things about the stars." He said sweetly, feeling himself tugged away by McCormick. As the made their way back into the grand ballroom he could see Craig waiting for him, a tight frown on his face.

He cleared his throat a little knowing he was going to have to introduce himself to the crowd that was gathering around the large grand piano. Maybe if his performance was good enough Craig would forgive him. He saw Kyle walk into the ballroom and smiled, he also hoped Kyle would enjoy it.

"Good evening everyone." He said softly. "My name is Lady Leia Von Marsh, I'm the charge of Doctor Crag Tucker. I want to thank Lord Token and Lady Wendy for having my debut here. I wanted to thank all of you for attending with a piano performance. I wish to perform for you Chopin's Nocturne OP 9 NO 2." He said, gently taking a seat at the piano bench. He took in a deep breath and started to run his fingers along the keys, trying to put all his focus on playing.

Feeling like he was still standing under the stars and holding the girl's hand, Kyle listened to Stan play as he watched the entire room become entranced. The guests had stilled in their places, almost like they were holding their breath as the music lifted and seemed to brush against the rafters; transporting all of them away from that place, beyond the confines of social constraints.

"She plays well," Kyle said, more to himself than anyone else. "I can feel the sadness Chopin wove into this piece...almost like it's being played by someone with a broken heart."

"I thought you said this song was overdone and trite," Ike replied, leaning against the wall and appearing bored. Music just didn't touch him the way it did his brother. He wanted to stay grounded in the moment, not allowing himself to coast through what could be considered frivolous. "Remember? You even refused to play it at your last recital."

"Hush," his brother said, though he smiled. "I've played it too many times, and I thought I'd heard it enough, but she plays it differently. She's making it her own." Managing to pull his focus from the lovely musician, he glanced at Craig, who was standing off to the side with his arms crossed. The look on his face was concerning because it seemed oddly blank, almost like he was trying to conceal what he was actually feeling. His butler stood against the wall, not far away, watching the piano like a hawk.

"You asked me whether or not I thought the girl was in danger," Kyle spoke, continuing to watch Craig. 

Ike was quiet for a moment, clearly trying to remember their earlier exchange. 

"Yes, I can recall saying something to that effect," he finally replied. "What of it?"

"I'm starting to think she might be," Kyle admitted, gesturing to the company Stan was keeping, even if it was against his will. "Dr. Tucker has always been strange and easy with his cruelty, but the way he watches her...the way he has his servant watch her. It doesn't feel right."

"Or maybe you're overthinking things like always," Ike said, his tone becoming wry. "I know you, Kyle; you're obsessed with damsels in distress and finding the fanciful in the mundane. That girl is probably living like a queen...you just can't accept that someone could possibly care for your nemesis."

"I'd love nothing more than to believe that," Kyle replied, beginning to move away toward the piano. "But something is off, and until I can lay my suspicions to rest, I'm going to stay close."

"That should work out well," Ike sighed, watching as his brother strode across the room toward the girl, the pretty song she was playing coming to its end. Taking a sip of champagne, he saw Kyle lean down and speak to her, very close to her ear. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Dr. Tucker's face change, and the emptiness was suddenly filled with something caustic. For whatever reason, it made a sensation of dread ignite in his gut. 

"Okay, maybe he has a point," he murmured, his hand tightening on his champagne flute.

The girl seemed surprised that he'd approached her so suddenly, but he tried to reassure her that all was well.

"Sorry to startle you," Kyle said, giving her what he hoped was a gentle smile. "Your playing is wonderful...unlike anything I've heard, actually. I was wondering if you'd like to play together? Perhaps Le Cygne by Saint-Saëns? It reminds me of you."

Stan had been rather startled when kyle approached him. He smiled a little at the warm sensation the redhead gave off and smiled even more when he asked if he wanted to play together. 

"I'm glad you enjoyed my performance Doctor Broflvoski, Craig was worried that the song I picked would bore everyone because it has been played so often , but, it's one of favorites." He said, before tracing the keys with his finger. 

"I'd love to play a song with you. I believe I know that one, if you can start it, I will follow."

"With pleasure," Kyle said as he began to sit, the warmth pouring off of her only reinforcing his desire to draw closer. Before he could settle himself, Craig was there, his back turned to the crowd as he stared down at them in his methodical way; his doctor's face. Controlled, but only just so. 

"What do you think you're doing?" He asked, his eyes fixed on Kyle's face as he placed a hand on Stan's shoulder. "This is Leia's performance, not yours. Is it so hard not to be the center of attention for once, Dr. Broflovski?"

Kyle glanced at the hand perched on Stan's skin and frowned before he sat, giving Craig his most defiant expression. 

"This has nothing to do with attention," he replied, leaning into Stan as much as he dared. "It's predicated on a mutual love of music, which Leia clearly has...a fact I can't help but admire." Throwing caution to the wind, he glanced at the girl beside him; quiet and seemingly holding herself rigid as Craig hovered over them. "I could give you lessons sometime...maybe you could even teach me a thing or two. Sometimes I become bogged down in technique...I'd like my music to be as free as yours."

"That will never happen!" Craig practically shouted as he tore his hand from Stan's shoulder and brought it down on the piano, the sound reverberating around the room. All at once, a titter ran through the crowd, and then soft voices began to chatter. 

Managing to hold back a laugh at Craig's impulsiveness, Kyle cocked an eyebrow and stared into his rival's eyes.

"Now who's trying to be the center of attention?"

His eye twitching, Craig's mask finally seemed to be slipping as he regarded Kyle, the deep, poisonous anger rearranging his features and turning him into someone else entirely. The whispers continued as he stood there and seethed before he finally straightened, his composure returning with a swiftness that could only be considered disconcerting.

"Very well, you may play together. After all, it's a party and I'm sure the guests will enjoy it." He settled a hand against Stan's cheek, stroking softly. "Enjoy yourself, love."

Kyle watched him retreat with a growing sensation of something being supremely off, but he couldn't place a finger on it. The body language of his counterpart seemed to radiate fear, but he didn't want to assume the worst, even though Craig often didn't give him very much choice.

"Now," he said softly, placing his hands on the keys. He began to play the song's slow, easy opening; tranquil, like a drizzling of rain. "You said you'd follow me, didn't you? That's not what I want...let's do this together as equals." Sighing, he continued to play before he leaned over and whispered into Stan's ear:

"Just so you're aware...you're even lovelier than your music. I hope you realize that."

Stan let out a cry of terror when Craig raised his voice and slammed his hands on the piano keys. He could hear people whispering about what had just happened and he knew he had made a terrible mistake. Craig was angry, very angry, and that was not good for him. When he felt a hand stroke his cheek he felt no tenderness from it, just a cold promise of things to happen later. 

He was shaken when kyle spoke to him, saying they should play as equals. He nodded his head, his hands shaking so bad he didn't even know if he could play. 

He glanced over to see McCormick speaking to Craig when Kyle whispered in his ear about how lovely he was. Honestly, he wished he could enjoy those sweet words but right now he was too afraid. 

"T-Thank you..." Was all he managed to say.

As the music trickled through the room, Kyle could feel Stan trembling beside him; face white and a haunted look creeping into blue eyes. He spoke carefully as their fingers struck the keys, the sweetness of the chords not taking the chill from the air that Craig had left behind.

"Let me help you," Kyle said softly, pulling his focus from Stan's face to linger on the piano before them. "I can tell you're afraid of him. You are, aren't you?"

"I've had enough," Craig practically spat as McCormick approached him, his face grim. "I don't care if it's in poor taste, we're leaving as soon as Leia's finished playing."

"Shall I go and collect her once the song is over, sir?" 

"Yes, but try to be discreet. I've already made a spectacle of myself, and that's more than enough for one evening." Wanting to put his fist through the wall, Craig glanced over his shoulder as the music went on and on, almost becoming daggers in his ears. His blood boiled to see Kyle sitting so close to Stan, at his look of obvious serenity and longing...he was falling, and Craig was nauseated that he had to stand there and watch his descent.

"He wants what's mine...everything I worked for," he added, trying to work through his fury. "Without having to break a sweat, he just thinks he can step in and destroy everything. I won't let him."

"I've no doubt, sir," McCormick replied, already beginning to move away as the song seemed to be reaching its conclusion. "I hope this won't be considered untoward, but I took the liberty of having Christophe pulling the carriage around once Broflovski intruded on Leia's recital." He shrugged, almost appearing apologetic. "I just had a feeling -"

"You were right," Craig sighed, waving him away. "Go and collect our little ingénue. I'll be waiting outside."

Nodding, McCormick retreated through the crowd of applauding patrons and approached the piano, making no attempt to hide his contempt for Kyle. 

"It's time to leave, miss," he said, gripping Stan's upper arm. "The master is waiting in the carriage already."

"You don't have to go," Kyle said, staring into the butler's face and seeing something sinister in his features. He laid a hand on one of Stan's trembling ones. "Please, listen to what I'm saying, will you?"

When Kyle asked if he was afraid, Stan didn't answer, he just kept playing, hoping the man would understand that he couldn't exactly just come out and say that he was. He had no idea what Craig was capable of.

Feeling a hand on his arm he looked up to see McCormick glaring down at him. "But...I haven't even thanked Lord Token and Lady Wendy for allowing me to have the party at their lovely home." He said, feeling himself forcibly pulled up from the piano bench. He tried to hide a look of pain as McCormick dug his nails into his forearm. It hurt, but he knew what was waiting for him in the carriage was going to be worse. How could he have been so stupid!? He had fallen for a man his master hated...and he was going to pay for it.

He looked over at Kyle who grabbed his trembling hand. "I-I...have to go..." He said softly. "It was nice to meet you Doctor Broflovski..." He said, gathering his skirts and following McCormick to the carriage.

"Craig is upset me...isn't he?" He asked softly, his lower lip quivering as they got closer and closer to the ornate carriage.

"Don't ask questions you already know the answer to," McCormick replied, ignoring the knowing smile on Christophe's snide mouth as they approached the carriage. "Besides, it isn't my place to speak for the master. Up you go."

Holding open the door, he watched as Stan climbed inside, vaguely detecting Craig's silent form among the shadows that had gathered within. 

"Thank you for being quick," Craig said unexpectedly, his voice quiet but filled with tension. McCormick nodded before shutting the door. He climbed onto his perch on the side of the carriage and signaled to Christophe, who chirruped to the horses. After a moment, they were being borne away from the party, the lights continuing to burn through the night as the mansion began to slip away behind them.

Craig was besieged with anger as he sat in the darkness, his chin propped on his hand as he looked out the window; refusing to look at Stan at all while the miles passed. On the heels of his rage were other emotions, too, some he hadn't expected; vague sadness and confusion among them. Sliding his hand into his pocket, he clenched his fingers around his watch, its minute ticking like a tiny heartbeat against his skin. He drew a long breath.

"Your playing," he finally said, fingers tightening, "it was beautiful. You should be proud."

"T-Thank you Sir..." Stan said in a trembling voice, tears welling in his blue eyes as he could just feel the anger Craig was giving off.

"Craig...I'm so sorry... I should have never played with him...or danced with him..." He said, hoping maybe if he just apologized the man would go easy on him. "W-What can I do to make up for my transgressions? I'll do anything you want." He pleaded, moving to gently rest a small hand on the man's knee. "Please..."

Slowly, Craig reached out and gently pushed Stan's hand from his knee; not wanting to be touched or pawed at in the moment. Besides, Stan was only doing it to appease him, which only added more insult to the night's humiliations. No, if he were truly repentant, he wouldn't be begging for forgiveness - he'd be opening up his pretty mouth and admitting to his other indiscretions: allowing Kyle to kiss and romance him under the stars. It was the things he'd done when he wasn't aware he was being watched that truly concerned Craig. 

"I'm not angry that you danced with Kyle, nor am I really that bothered that you played the piano together," he said after allowing the silence to settle for a few long minutes. "After all, you were playing by the rules, honoring your dance card and being polite when someone asked something of you. I can't fault you for upholding decorum."

Lapsing into a brown study, Craig watched the stars and trees flying past as the carriage kept rolling. How could he make Stan understand where his fury stemmed from? It wasn't that he'd been openly pursued by another man that was the crux of the issue. After all, Craig had expected interest from other parties because of Stan's attractive features, but he had expected him to be loyal. What infuriated him was that he'd given Stan the chance to prove himself, to behave, and he'd actively refused. 

"It's the things that people do behind closed doors, when they think they're alone, that shows their true character. Don't you think?" He asked, finally turning his head to look at Stan directly.

Stan felt his body go into a cold sweat, he didn't know how, but Craig knew, he knew Kyle had kissed him. He looked down at his lap and shook his head. 

"I-I...couldn't stop him from kissing me..." He admitted, biting his lower lip. "It...felt nice... I've never been...kissed before..." He said, tears slowly running down his cheeks. "I didn't know what to do... I'm so sorry." He said wholeheartedly. "G-Growing up where I did...I had no time for things like romance, and, I never thought anyone would even want me... Having someone pay attention to me like that was just...overwhelming." Stan said, looking at the older man. "Please forgive me Craig... I still feel like I'm going crazy half the time." He added, shaking his head. Ever since he started taking those vitamins his emotions had been all over the place. "I feel everything so...strongly now...and I don't even know why..." 

Turning away, Craig could feel his irritation rising as he was forced to bear witness to such a nauseating display. Empty words and weakness, it was almost like Stan believed the ridiculous things he said.

"It would seem you're well-versed in the art of excuses," he commented, leaning his face on his hand again. "It's almost like you want me to sit here and feed your ego, remind you why someone would take an interest in you. It's pathetic and I won't do it. If you don't know by now that you have qualities others find attractive, than you're beyond help in that regard."

He took another long breath, having to resist the urge to backhand Stan right across his full mouth. Somehow, he refrained, though he had to ask himself why he bothered. It wasn't like he didn't have physical retribution coming in spades.

"Didn't have time for romance," he repeated, disgusted. "Couldn't stop him from kissing you...it felt nice. God, you're making me sick. How are you not making yourself sick?" He laughed, but it was hard and lacking humor. "It's almost like you're obsessed with being this woebegone, tragic caricature of a person. Have you noticed that? You're foolish and senseless. You're lucky I took you in because you never would've survived on your own." Turning suddenly, he took a hold of Stan's wrist and yanked him forward; close.

"The world would've eaten you alive if you'd been left to your own devices." He shook him roughly, his control beginning to splinter. "You're soft and easily led. Sure, you may have some fire on occasion, but at the end of the day you're weak and retiring. You were meant to be controlled." He smiled. "You were meant to be locked up and forgotten, and if you're lucky, I'll make sure that happens. Believe me, that's better than the alternative...it's better then what you actually deserve."

All at once, the carriage stopped, and McCormick appeared at his master's door; opening it. Breathing heavily, Craig shook Stan one last time before hurling him against the other side of the carriage.

"Have Bebe sort you out," he said, exiting. He straightened his hair and clothing. "And once you're presentable, meet me in the parlor." He began to move away but stopped, catching Stan's eyes. "Do yourself a favor and don't make me wait any longer than necessary."

The cruel words that were coming out of Craig's mouth tore his heart apart. The older man saw him as nothing but a pathetic toy to play with, someone who was foolish and fell for a man he didn't even know. He winced in pain as Craig gripped his wrists tightly and pulled him close. He let a small sob escape his plump lips and he felt his hat starting to fall off thanks to the man shaking him. 

He let out a cry when he was thrown against the other side of the carriage, his back hitting the hard wooden frame. He knew exactly what he wanted to tell the man. He wanted to scream at him that he turned him into a monster, an abomination,that even if Kyle did love him he would never want him when he discovered what he really was! He tried to force himself to spew out the angry words but couldn't... Maybe he was just weak...

Christophe had overheard part of the conversation, and, once the master had gone into the manor he stepped down from his driving seat.

"Are you alright, petite princesse?" He asked, helping the brunette out of the carriage. "The master he is...how you say...temperamental. You're lucky all he did was give you a shake." 

"I fear he is going to do much more..." Stan admitted, looking around to see where McCormick was. He was never safe when that one-eyed monster was around!

Coming around the carriage, McCormick pushed Christophe aside before taking a hold of Stan's wrist. He began to pull him away. 

"Get on with your duties," he barked at the Frenchman over his shoulder. "And I'd suggest you stop badmouthing your employer, fool. One of these days it's going to catch up with you." Glancing at Stan, he almost felt a hint of pity for him, but it was brief. "Sooner or later, everyone gets what's coming to them."

-------

"It must've been such a magical night," Bebe sighed as she helped Stan undress down to his underthings, his elaborate gown set aside so that it could be put away properly. "Oh, and the master looked so proud when he first saw you," she added, instructing Stan to sit before the vanity as she began brushing out his hair. "Was it everything you hoped it would be? Did everyone compliment your dress? Who did you dance with?"

She laughed before covering her mouth, blushing softly at being so animated.

"Forgive me, miss. I've just always wondered what those balls are like...they almost seem like a fairy tale from where I'm sitting."

Stan looked into his reflection in the vanity mirror, feeling Bebe brushing his hair. He still wasn't sure to make of his appearance. He wasn't Stan Marsh anymore, he didn't even look the same. Craig had turned him into a completely different person, a girl named Leia...

When Bebe started asking questions about the ball he thought back to kyle. 

"I only danced with two people, the master and...Doctor Broflovski..." He said, biting his lower lip. "I got many compliments on my gown, you really outdid yourself Bebe... People asked me if I bought it from designers in Paris with how beautiful it was." 

He cleared his throat a little. "The Master wishes me to meet him in the parlor so unfortunately we cannot talk as much as I would prefer."

"The parlor? At this time of night?" Bebe asked, unable to ignore just how melancholy Stan sounded. That wasn't all, though. She glanced at his reflection, studying his face closely. A realization clicked in her mind as little signals began falling into place: pinched mouth, downcast eyes, furrowed brow. Her mistress was clearly worried about something.

No, afraid.

"Is everything alright?" Coming around, she began wiping the rouge from Stan's cheeks. "I would think you'd be walking on air after the night you had...especially after getting to dance with handsome Dr. Broflovski." She thought of the redheaded gentleman and almost became dreamy, knowing firsthand just how kind he could be. "I ran into him at the market once," she remarked as she went to fetch Stan's long, white nightgown. Gathering it, she pulled it over his head and adjusted it, the neckline a series of tiny gathers and delicate ribbons.

"I was having a terrible time trying to reason with the butcher," she continued. "No matter what I did, he just wouldn't give me a fair deal, but the doctor stepped in and spoke on my behalf." She sighed, remembering. "It was almost like he genuinely cared, and ever since then I've always fancied him...he's different than the other men of his station. Unlike -"

She cut off as she continued to ready Stan for his foray into the parlor. She'd almost said something against her master, an infraction which could be very costly for her. True, he wasn't present, but she didn't want to turn having a loose tongue into a habit, not with the master's reach...not with McCormick skulking about and always reporting back to him.

"There," she said instead, patting Stan's shoulder. "You're ready. Shall we head downstairs now?"

"It was that dance and everything else I did with Doctor Broflovski that has gotten me into so much trouble..." He said, starting to softly cry. He buried his face in his hands when Bebe was finished with him. He wished he had never gone to that party! Never met Kyle! Never fell for his sweet words and charm... If he hadn't...he wouldn't be in the position he was now... 

He cried for a few moments, not really telling Bebe what was wrong with him in fear she would report back to McCormick... It wasn't safe to talk to anyone, they would all submit to Doctor Tucker. 

After a few moments he managed to compose himself... "Let's go...the Master was not in a waiting mood." Stan said, standing up from the vanity chair. 

He was dressed only in a long silky white nightgown, his long black locks hanging down with a white bow holding back a few tresses as he walked behind Bebe. What was Craig going to do to him?

Bebe bit her tongue the whole time she led Stan to the parlor, wanting to ask him about the trouble he was in. Unfortunately, it made too much sense that the master would be upset about Dr. Broflovski...it wasn't like their animosity for one another was a secret or anything. But, still, it was a ball and people were expected to dance. How was her mistress supposed to respond? It would've been risking disapproval to refuse, especially if she'd refused someone as well-regarded as the master's rival.

"I'm sorry," she practically whispered, feeling helpless. "I wish I could actually..." she trailed off as they moved down the hallway, the gaslights along the walls shifting and throwing shadows across the carpet under their feet. Finally, they arrived to the parlor doors, and Bebe laid her hand on the door knob.

"I'll come to you early tomorrow morning," she whispered, wanting to offer any support she could given the circumstances. "Just to make sure everything is well with you." She tried to smile as she twisted the knob and began to push on the door. "I'm sure you'll be just fine. Please don't fret, mistress."

"Bebe." She froze when she heard the master's voice breaking through the quiet. Turning, she looked into the dimly-lit parlor and saw that the room was lit with candles; a fire blazing on the hearth. Craig was sitting in a wing back chair, legs crossed as he regarded them. He drank slowly from a snifter, eyes narrowed.

"Are you going to linger in the doorway all evening?" He asked, making a tremor course up her back. She couldn't say why exactly, but there was something in his demeanor that unnerved her more than usual; a coldness. "Or are you going to send your mistress in? I've been waiting far too long already."

"Y-yes, sir. Of course," Bebe replied, slowly beginning to retreat. Glancing at Stan, she nodded softly. "Go on...you'll be alright."

With that, she slowly closed the door, glad to be out of the master's line of sight. She wasn't glad to be leaving her mistress alone with him, but she knew it couldn't be helped.

Swirling the brandy in his glass, Craig studied Stan as he stood across the room, clothed in his delicate nightgown; long tresses falling like dark rivers along the soft whiteness. The candlelight flickered, the fire popped, and somewhere in the room a clock ticked away the seconds, only compounding the deep silence that hung between them. In the corner, a black piano was shrouded in firelight.

"Come to me," he murmured, resting his snifter on his knee. "Now."

"I appreciate it Bebe..." Stan said softly, looking back at his chambermaid and giving her a small smile. The girl was kind and he appreciated having her around, even if he wasn't completely sure if he could trust her or not. When he was gently led into the parlor he walked in slowly, taking how the atmosphere had become rather sinister. Craig was sitting in his favorite chair, looking handsome as he always did, but, he looked so...cold. He swallowed hard and slowly made his way over to the older man, the nightgown train trailing behind him.

"M-Master..." He said softly, stopping in front of the older brunette. He didn't know what to do, he put a hand to his chest but frowned when he just ended up groping one of the lumps on his chest. He knew what they were...but he refused to acknowledge them like that. No matter how hard Craig wanted to convince him that he was a girl, he knew it wasn't true! He was a boy named Stan Marsh! Not a girl named Leia Von Marsh! 

"What's this master nonsense?" Craig asked, raising a brow. He set his brandy aside as he loosened the collar of his white shirt, attempting to relax slightly. He'd already removed his ascot and jacket, but he still felt too warm; agitated. He didn't allow these discomforts to register on his surface, of course. It wouldn't do for Stan to know he was deeply unsettled by the evening's events.

"You're to call me Craig," he continued, standing slowly as he raked his eyes over Stan's form, every curve obvious under the filmy gown. The firelight stole through the fabric, illuminating the flesh beneath; every secret, out of the way place. This was a body he'd helped to craft, to form, and he couldn't help but admire it. It belonged to him.

Stan was his. No one else's. But he'd learn that tonight, Craig would make sure of it.

"We aren't strangers to one another. Stop acting like we are." Coming forward, he cupped Stan's chin in his hand, forcing him to look up. "I know you better than anyone, don't I? After all, I'm the one that's responsible for waking you up...for turning you into the person you're truly supposed to be." 

Leaning down, he lightly kissed Stan's lips. Almost shuddering, he spoke close to his mouth now, already beginning to feel intoxicated by the boy's presence; his creation.

"You should be thanking me."

Stan let a gasp escape before his lips were captured by Craig's. He felt a hand running up his body and felt an anger well in him when Craig claimed he owed him, should be thankful for him, that he turned him into what he was suppose to be.

"You...made me into a monster." The brunette said, his body shaking a little. "I should thank you for that? You mutilated me..." He said, trying not to just start crying again. Damn these emotions! He never use to have these problems! Why were they happening now!? "I-I...don't even know what I am anymore..." He admitted, frowning as he tried to pull away from Craig. "I don't even know why you did this to me!" He cried out, biting his lower lip. "I don't know why you are worried about Kyle...he would never want me...he would never want a monster!"

"Oh, he would want you," Craig replied, holding Stan fast as he drew him ever closer; winding a hand through the dark tangle of his hair. "In fact, he does want you. He's always had the misfortune of having eyes that give all of him away...every little thought and desire. When he looked at you, he wasn't just seeing you as you are...he was already looking at you like you belonged to him."

"But," he continued, resting his head against Stan's hair as he stared at the shadows snaking like vines up the far wall, "you already belong to someone, don't you? Yes. Yes, I think you do. I know you do." Reaching down, he took a hold of Stan's hand and squeezed it softly.

"How could a monster play the way you did tonight?" He asked, his voice softening as he remembered. "You even made me, a person who usually doesn't care for music in any capacity, take notice. You made me want to look at you...I wanted to listen. I wanted to come closer and sit at your feet."

He laughed, burying his face in the curve of Stan's neck. 

"I wanted to worship you. In fact, I still do. So."

Pulling away, he cradled Stan's face in his hands as he smiled down at him; leaning forward to kiss his forehead softly.

"Play for me, will you?" He asked, allowing some vulnerability to thread its way into his tone. "Please?"

Stan was extremely confused. He had come into the parlor thinking Craig was going to punish him, beat him black and blue, but, here he was, saying he wanted to worship him and wanted him to play for him...that he wasn't a monster..."I-I...don't understand..." He said, feeling a sweet kiss pressed to his forehead. "I...thought you were mad at me..." He said, feeling hands gently caress his cheeks and lead him over to the piano bench.

He didn't want to bring up Kyle, he didn't want to think about if Kyle liked him or not, because it would never happen. Craig basically owned him, created him, and he knew Kyle would never want to be with a freak... He just knew it... It didn't help that his feelings for the handsome redheaded doctor were all over the place. He...was charmed by him, but, he barely knew the man! What if he was just trying to seduce him? Make him into a play thing? What did these high society men want from him!?

Sitting down at the bench he looked over at Craig.

"What...do you wish for me to play?" He decided to ask. 

Leaning against the piano, Craig pressed his cheek into his hand, pretending to consider this question. He already knew what he wanted Stan to play, but he was anticipating a nice, careful buildup to their late-night rendezvous. Best to take it slow and gentle; put him at his ease. He was already clearly confused, just the way Craig wanted.

"I'm not sure," he replied, smiling before stroking Stan's cheek. "What is it you played with Kyle this evening? It was lovely...sad, but strangely hopeful. Could you play that for me?"

Before he started to play he tried to focus on the keys. "I...don't even know what Le Cygne means... It sounds like it's from another language...French I think..." He mused, sounding nervous as he slowly started to play. He was a bit worried that Craig suggested the song Kyle said reminded him of Stan. He hoped it was just a song they both really enjoyed... That had to be it. Maybe Craig was actually trying to prove he wasn't mad, that he was starting to forgive for what Stan had done. That he didn't do anything out of malice.

"The Swan," Craig replied, still draped against the piano as Stan began to play. "It means the swan, and you're right...it's french." Watching closely, he gently tapped his fingers against the top of the instrument, trying to be playful; imitating Stan's effortless grace.

"I'd be hopeless, I admit," he said, the music washing over them like cold rainfall. It had a fragile quality, much like the animal it was based on. "If I ever tried to play, I mean." He held up his hands. "These hands were never meant to do anything delicate...not like you. Not like Kyle. I guess it's my curse."

Reaching out, he plucked up a lock of Stan's hair and held it to his face, inhaling deeply; mind whirring the whole time. Stan was on edge already but he clearly wanted to hope for the best in this situation; time to start turning the screws, it was the only way he'd learn his place.

"He whispered something to you when he first started to play," Craig commented, keeping his tone light. Now he started winding the long strands of hair around his finger carefully. "Kyle, I mean. Do you mind telling me what he said?"

Stan still felt a bit uneasy about what was going on but decided it would be in his best interest to just tell Craig the truth. He continued playing, happy the man at least was enjoying what he heard. 

"He said...I was as beautiful as the music I played..." He admitted softly, feeling fingers curl into his dark locks. "I think he really just appreciated we both shared a love of music..." Stan added, continuing the song as he bit his lower lip. "Also, in sure if you wanted to play you could, you already have a steady hand being a doctor." He said. "I...I could even teach you if you wished."

Craig laughed easily at Stan's offer, touched by his generosity. He shook his head, allowing Stan's hair to unravel before he started winding it around his finger again.

"No, that's alright...I'll leave the music to you and Kyle. It belongs to the artists of the world...the ones who can truly appreciate it." Leaning his head in his hand again, he nearly sighed, Stan's hair so soft against his fingers. "Kyle's right, you know. You are as beautiful as the music you play...and here you are thinking you're a monster." He gave Stan a playfully stern look before he laughed again.

"When will you ever see yourself as you are, my dear? The way I see you?"

It was then that the song came to an end, silence once again drenching the room, save for the crackling of the fire; the ticking of that lone clock. Craig began to wind Stan's hair around his fingers again, still going slowly, but tightening it more and more. He tugged on it lightly.

"I never realized that was such a short song," he commented impassively. "Start over from the beginning, will you?"

Swiftly, he unraveled Stan's hair again. He began winding it once more, over and over and over.

Stan looked over at Craig and raised a brow. "You want me to play again?" He asked, finding it a little strange. "Well...if you insist..." He said, starting to play over again. He heard Craig say that he should leave the music to people like him and Kyle and actually agreed with the what the redhead said about him being as beautiful as his music. 

"I...don't know if I will ever see myself as beautiful...not like this... Craig I have breasts... I don't even know why I have them...I hate them...I wish you would just remove them..." He said, continuing to play. "I just don't know what to think about my appearance..." He admitted, letting a soft cry escape his lips when Craig tugged on his hair.

Beginning to feel increasingly agitated, Craig continued to wind that thick lock of hair around his finger; the action becoming more aggressive every time he had to start over. It seemed the more he heard that song, that ridiculous song, the angrier he became. He'd had a feeling that Kyle had been saying something untoward when he'd dared to lean so close to Stan, and he hadn't been wrong. 

"It's almost like a lullaby, don't you think?" He asked, pushing his growing rage down when Stan finished the song. "Again. Play it again."

Finally, he was finding it impossible to stay in one place, so he gave Stan's hair one last gentle yank before turning away. Going over to his chair, he sank into it, feeling for the article he'd propped against it before Stan had entered the room; just of sight.

"I like the way you look...your curves are becoming to you," he said, annoyed that Stan kept bringing up the subject of his breasts. "And they aren't going anywhere, so you can forget about that. Just continue to play, please. It's so soothing."

"Ow!" Stan cried out when he felt Craig tug on his hair again. 

"Y-Yes...it is very soothing like something that would help you sleep." He said, looking confused when the man requested to play it again. "Craig...I've played it twice already...how many times do you want me to play the same song? Maybe I could play something else? I really enjoy Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart." He said, continuing to play the same song but putting a different spin on it, making it a little more upbeat. 

When the older man said he liked his curves...and his...breasts...he frowned... Of course he liked them, he had created them, he had shaped them himself... "When you look at me...do you just see an experiment?" He decided to ask, starting to play Eine Kleine Nachtmusik instead of Le Cygne.

"Experiment? Hardly. You're my creation. I gave you life," Craig said, beginning to lose patience with Stan's constant questions; his petulance. He just about reached his breaking point when a different song began to play, the one he hadn't requested. Wrapping his hand around the object leaning against his chair, he stood, hiding it behind his back as he returned to the piano.

"This is pretty," he said, though he wasn't really listening to the music; it wasn't what he wanted to hear. It wasn't what he needed to hear. Making sure his back wasn't visible to Stan, he stood close to him, his shadow falling over the boy as he continued to play. Craig gazed down at him, nursing rage and an almost painful tenderness.

You drove us to this point, he thought. You have no one to blame but yourself for what happens tonight.

"You danced with Kyle on the balcony for a very long time tonight, didn't you?" He suddenly asked, making sure to keep his tone kind.

"In my studies with Heidi, she had me read this book, it's called Frankenstein... It's about a doctor who wants to be a god so he creates...a monster from a corpse and reanimates it." He said, continuing to play his song. "As I read it...I felt like that monster... I can't get it out of my head since I started reading it... It is hard to read, but, I think I have the understanding of it... I never thought I would identify with a living corpse..." He said, feeling Craig loom over him.

The man was still speaking in such a sweet and kind tone, maybe he...actually wanted to hear about how he felt, about how he was scared, that he felt like a freak...

"Yes, we danced for awhile...he showed me the stars... I didn't know stars had names, he told me they were called con-stell-a-tions." He said, slowly saying the word. "It was nice... I didn't know their were stories about half men half horse and horses with wings that came from a monster's head." He said, finishing up the song. "Maybe we could do that sometime? We could go and look at the stars? Do you know things about them Craig? I want to learn more about them." He said with a small smile. "I would really like that... I would really like to look at the stars with you."

Craig could only shake his head slowly as he listened to Stan prattle on at length about Frankenstein and stars and mythical stories...all of it fanciful nonsense that strayed from the actual point. Besides, he knew what actually happened on that balcony, and it wasn't nearly as benign as Stan wanted him to think. It would seem that his little ingenue still wanted to tell half-truths and keep him in the dark.

"Do you enjoy making a fool of me?" He asked, still standing over Stan. His gaze fell over him, his small white hands as they pressed the keys; thin wrists and fragile forearms. His eyes drifted upward, focusing on Stan's small bosom, the peaks of his new breasts prominent under the thin material of his nightgown. Almost like he was coming undone, Craig could imagine running his hands over those breasts...could feel his fingers clenching at the thought of holding onto those wrists as Stan gasped against his ear; asking to be filled.

Asking to be taken.

Somewhere behind them, the logs in the fireplace shifted suddenly; falling apart and turning to ash. Craig continued to stare at Stan, waiting for an answer. Waiting for the evening to truly begin.

"What really happened on the balcony with Kyle tonight?" He asked, his hands still behind his back. "And don't bother to lie...I already know the truth. I just want to hear it come out of your mouth."

"N-No...I didn't mean anything by what happened at the party...I didn't mean to embarrass you." Stan said, turning around so he could look at the doctor. he was holding his hands behind his back and glaring down at him. He felt his body start to shake and break into a cold sweat. The glare alone was making Stan uneasy. Why was Craig being so kind just a moment ago and then switching to such a hostile voice? He bit his lower lip, chewing on it softly when Craig asked what had happened on the balcony.

"I told you what happened, he taught me about the stars and he kissed my hand..." Stan said, not knowing what else the man wanted to hear, that was what happened! "We just talked and danced, that is all that happened... I'm sure McCormick told you that...he was following me...wasn't he?"

"He always is," Craig replied. "He's my eyes, my ears...there's nothing you can say or do that I won't know about eventually." Slowly, he moved his hand from behind his back, revealing what he'd been keeping out of sight:

A heavy, black riding crop.

"Eventually I want to be able to read your thoughts...that's how close I want us to be, anyway." Turning his head, Craig gazed at the whip, almost like he was seeing it for the first time. It had a nice, solid weight in his hand; good balance. It would serve him well that night. Suddenly, he slapped it into his palm before pulling his focus back to Stan.

"I'll give you another chance," he smiled. "Tell me what happened with Kyle tonight." Rearing back, he brought the whip down right next to Stan's hand, barely missing him.

Stan screamed when the riding crop nearly hit his hand. He quickly got up from the piano bench and pressed his back against the piano, wanting to do anything he could to get away from the man. He managed to crawl onto the top of the piano, wondering if he could just slip off the instrument and make a run for it! Maybe he could find Kyle... He had no idea where the man even lived but, he said he would help him! He knew Craig was nothing but a sadistic monster! How could he think the man who mutilated him had any tenderness in him. He just wanted a doll...a perfect little doll...

"But that is what happened!" He cried out, kicking his leg out to try and kick the man away from him. "We danced, we talked, he taught me about stars, he kissed my hand...that's it!" He promised, feeling the slippers he was wearing fall off his feet and onto the floor. His hair had been untied from the white bow he had been wearing earlier and that ribbon was barely holding on.

"W-Why don't you believe me!? Why would I lie?" The brunette asked, scooting back on the piano top.

"There's always a reason to lie," Craig growled before he reached out and took a hold of Stan's nightgown, yanking him off of the piano and onto the floor. "To save your skin, to keep from being punished, to avoid being taken to task for misbehaving." Still holding onto the gown, he dragged Stan back over to the piano bench and shoved him down.

"Now, I told you to play for me," he seethed. "And don't try playing a different song. You know what I want to hear."

Taking a handful of Stan's hair, Craig held him tightly, feeling him tremble.

"He kissed you. Twice," he added, wanting to lose control and break Stan to his will then and there. "And you let him. You let him touch you like he had a right to you...the same rights I do. But I guess that just slipped your mind, didn't it?"

Letting go, Craig covered his face with his hand before the rage spiked again.

"I told you to play! Now!" He slammed the whip down again, but this time it landed on Stan's fingers.

Stan let out a cry as he was grabbed and thrown to the ground. He felt his nightgown tear when Craig manhandled it, causing it to show off more skin then it originally did. Before he could even try to crawl away he was grabbed again, thrown against the piano bench, and ordered to play again. 

Tears streamed down his cheeks as he felt his body shake, his hands shaking. 

"I'm sorry! That is all I can say! I'm sorry! I'll never see him again...I'll never let him kiss me again..." He said, his breath hitching in his throat as he tried not to just breakdown and sob. 

"Ow!" He screamed in pain when he felt the whip fall down on his fingers, making the keys bang out a dissonant noise. He tried to start playing, but, his hands were shaking so badly they weren't playing the notes right, the Cygne sounded more like a screeching duck.

"How do you think Kyle would feel if he could hear you playing now?" Craig asked, bringing the whip down again and again on Stan's delicate hands, ignoring the way he screamed and cried, ignoring everything except the point that needed to be made. "Do you think he'd still be as entranced? Would he still want you?"

The piano music was becoming shrill and broken at this point, the discordant notes like dying animal sounds as Craig wielded the whip. 

"I'll make it so you can't play anymore...if that'll keep you from being taken away, I'll do whatever it takes," Craig said, finally throwing the whip aside. Sinking onto the seat, he gathered Stan to his chest while he breathed heavily, all of his thoughts a blur as he tried to come back to himself. Carefully, he kissed Stan's neck before he drew back, and in one violent motion, he tore the delicate nightgown down the front, revealing pale, naked skin.

"All of this is mine," he breathed, leaning down and kissing Stan's clavicle, his chest, the tops of his breasts...reaching up, he cupped them gently, sighing as he kissed the fragrant space between them. "I made you...I'm the one who's going to keep you."

Stan screamed again when he felt the whip fall on his fingers causing another crash of the piano keys. Tears were now streaming down his cheeks. "I-I...I don't know..." He stammered out, trying to play but in too much pain and too scared to even continue on with what he was doing. Would Kyle still want him if he couldn't play? Probably not... That was what set him apart from all the others. He swallowed hard and felt his hands pulse in pain.

"No! Please! You can't!" He begged, letting a sob escape his lips. "I-I...can't live without my music... Don't take it from me...please...please!" He begged, feeling kisses pressed to his neck. Before he knew it, his nightgown was ripped from his body, revealing only his undergarments and corset.

He kicked his legs and tried to wiggle out of Craig's grip, finding it impossible to escape. He let out a cry when he felt lips pressed against various body parts including those two fucking lumps he hated so much!

His body shook when Craig said he was his, that he made him. "S-Stop!" He pleaded. He looked up into Craig's grey eyes and saw nothing but coldness. "What...are you...going to do me?"

Wordlessly, Craig took a hold of Stan's wrecked nightgown and drew him onto the floor, laying him down against the oriental rug; the firelight falling over flesh that had been covered before. It lit up Stan's paleness and turned it orange and red, filaments of white glimmering in Stan's dark hair as it fanned around his head. Almost feeling like he was in a trance, Craig just stared at him for a moment, overcome by what he'd helped to create...almost like he'd encouraged a phoenix to rise from cold ashes.

"So beautiful," he murmured, dragging a hand up Stan's naked thigh, hiking the gown up to expose the slight curve of his buttock and hip. He was pleased to see that he wasn't wearing any drawers, just the chemise and corset. Reaching around, he gripped a handful of pert backside and squeezed softly. Leaning forward, he draped himself across Stan's prone body, languidly kissing his neck before his other hand settled on Stan's backside as well, spreading him.

"You've been waiting for this for so long, haven't you?" He sighed into Stan's ear, licking the lobe lightly. "Is that why you were so taken with Kyle? Is it because I haven't been giving you enough of the right attention?"

Stan let out a cry as he felt his backside grabbed roughly. "I-I'm scared...please don't do this...it's going to hurt... I've barely even kissed..." Was all he managed to say, feeling the rug underneath his bare skin. Craig had ripped everything off of him, his corset, his undergarments, his nightgown, he was totally naked. He knew he had to look disgusting... He tried to cover his nude form, feeling ashamed of it. "D-Don't look at me..." He pleaded, tears rolling down his cheeks. 

"She walks in beauty, like the night," Craig said, closing his eyes as he whispered the words against Stan's skin, sad that he still detested the way he looked...unable to see his own value. "Don't cry, love. What we're doing isn't bad, it isn't evil...it's right." Kissing Stan's throat, he reached into his pocket and withdrew a small tin of Vaseline. Quickly, he unscrewed the top and tossed it aside, watching as it rolled away; catching the firelight and winking like a coin.

"I knew," he said, slicking his fingers with the substance before spreading Stan wide once more, "I just knew that tonight was the night...as soon as I saw the way you looked at Kyle. You were confused, overwhelmed...you were taken in by his manipulation. You'll see clearly once you realize what we have...I'll show you everything you need to know."

Slowly, he delved into Stan's heat, the Vaseline warm against his skin as his finger slipped inside. Carefully, he prepared him, only sliding in a second finger when he could feel a slight loosening; a relaxing of taut muscles.

"Shh," he breathed, capturing Stan's mouth and kissing him slowly; teeth gently nipping at a full bottom lip. "It's going to be alright...I'm going to take care of you."

Stan let out a cry of pain when he felt fingers pressed inside of him. Sure, he had pleasured himself before, but, he had never done anything like this. It hurt! He felt his body shaking and looked up at Craig, seeing his eyes looking more tender. He was so confused! How could this man be so brutal one moment and then so kind the next! He felt like Craig was trying to make him go crazy with it.

"D-Do...you really...think I look...attractive like this?" He decided to ask, trying to ignore the pain as Craig kissed him, biting his lip, letting his hands run up his curves Craig had created. 

Stan's soft body was arching into him as he opened him, begging for reassurance as much as his words. Craig nuzzled him as he eased his fingers out, slippery with Vaseline. Taking a hold of Stan's wrists, he pressed his arms above his head while studying his face, eyes searching every angle and shadowed nuance.

"You're all I want," he said softly, resting his cheek against Stan's and closing his eyes for a moment; bodies pressed tightly together as the enormity of what was happening sunk into his psyche. "I've always wanted to know what it's like to own someone completely, and I have that with you...you only exist because I made you." Shuddering, he glanced at Stan's hands, feeling a stab of satisfaction at the bruises covering them.

"I've only cared about one other girl in my entire life," he admitted as he nudged Stan's thighs apart with his knee. Withdrawing one of his hands, he still held fast to Stan's wrists, easily keeping them pinned with one hand alone. He undid his slacks and drew himself out, his still slicked fingers pumping his cock; already so hard that he almost ached. Carefully, he pressed himself against Stan's entrance, running his cock along his warmth.

"You know, you kind of remind me of her sometimes," he added, continuing to tease Stan but not pushing into him; mouth watering with the wanting...the need, but he didn't want to rush their ending. He wanted all of this to last. "When you smile...the way you cover your mouth when you laugh. It's almost like she's come home...almost like she never left to start her new life."

Stan still looked so confused and let out a small cry. "I-I...existed before I met you..." He said, tears running down his cheeks as he felt the man grab his wrists and pin them above his head. He wondered how Craig could even think of him as a girl when he was completely exposed, his cock hanging out. He bucked his hips a little and tried to steady his breathing. He didn't want to have a panic attack. 

"Are you...trying to turn me into her?" He asked, his blue eyes going wide at the thought. He watched as the older man pumped his cock, looking so deviant before he felt Craig push into him.

"Ahhh! I-It hurts!" He cried out, feeling the rather large cock pulse inside of him.

"Just for a moment," Craig soothed, gasping lightly as he lost himself inside the figure cradled beneath him. "And then it'll feel good...I promise. Just relax and let me show you how wonderful this can be...please."

Softly, he eased into Stan's body until he could go no further, and then he rested against him; becoming still. All he wanted in that moment was to lay his head against a perfumed bosom, falling back into memories of another time in his life where he'd played out this exact scenario. Only then he'd been much younger, and the girl beneath him hadn't looked at him with fear...no, she'd regarded him with admiration, moss green eyes full of complete trust. He had slipped his fingers into her long, tawny hair as she'd panted against his shoulder, and every night she'd stolen into his bedroom when the moon filled up the windows.

Yes, he'd loved someone very much, and he had been convinced that could never happen again, not after she'd left. But now....

"I love you," he almost sobbed, the memories mixing with the present as he began to move, gently drawing himself out before thrusting. Cupping Stan's chin, he lay his cheek against his face, breathing in his scent...ribbons of perfume and talcum winding together and lulling him. "I know you can't be her, but maybe you can love me the way she used to...can't you?"

Stan bit his lower lip and decided it would be best to just go along with what the man wanted. Craig seemed unhinged, like underneath his cold persona he had a madness that was more prevalent then he showed in public. He was a victim of that madness, and if seemed, he was going to be a victim once again. 

"I...love you too..." He said out of fear, letting out a cry of pain as be felt Craig move in him more. "It's...starting to feel a little better..." He admitted, hesitantly wrapping his arms around the man's shoulders. 

"Am I...just a substitute for her...for your ex-lover? You did all of this to me...for those reasons? Do you even...like anything about me?" Stan asked in between moans and gasps.

"You have your own charms," Craig replied, hardly able to focus on Stan's questions as he felt the tension gathering in his body; already poised on the edge. Stan just felt so perfect, so exquisitely tight but also so soft...the treatments he'd been receiving gentling the angles of his body and ripening them into curves. "Just because I can see her in you doesn't mean I stop seeing you...it's not like you disappear."

Groaning, Craig almost lost his composure when he felt Stan's arms settling about him and pulling him close. Hiking his hips up, Craig settled Stan's legs around him, wanting him to squeeze, wanting him to pull him in...the way she used to. She'd always started out docile and demure when Craig was fucking her, but by the end she'd turn into a voracious harlot, scraping her long nails up his back and leaving red lines for him find the next morning.

"That's right," he moaned, speeding up and his thrusts becoming harder. "Hold onto me...show me how much you want it." Leaning forward, he kissed Stan, slipping his tongue between his swollen lips and tasting him...sweet and pure; ripe like a strawberry. "You like being fucked by me, don't you? Maybe you should sleep in my bed tonight...then we won't have to stop."

Stan hated that he was starting to enjoy the feeling of Craig fucking him. How could he be enjoying this!? How could he want to have the cock of the sadistic Doctor inside of him, hearing him moan in his ear, talking about some other woman he was still pinning over her. 

"Craig..." He breathed out, running his nails down his back, deciding just to give in. "It...feels so good...I've never been...touched like this before... I...I've only had a girl suck me off..." He moaned, reaching down to try and caress his hard cock. He wondered what it would be like to have kyle on top of him, fucking him, making him moan.

"No, don't touch yourself like that," Craig said, gently taking Stan's hand away from himself. "I can take care of you, but don't let me see you doing that...ever. You aren't even to touch yourself in private; it isn't proper." Shuddering, he wrapped his arms around the back of Stan's neck and held him close...feeling his end meeting him swiftly, the sweat falling over his skin as their bodies met and melded.

"I can't hold back," he spoke against Stan's neck, panting now...breaths coming faster as his body uncoiled. He smiled slowly. "I knew fucking you would be a sublime experience...I dreamed of this every night...ever since I brought you here."

Tensing up, he began to come, hips rolling as he fucked Stan harder; pushing him against the rough fibers of the rug. 

"You're mine now," he sighed, pouring himself into Stan and working his cock through his come; rivers of white falling along the backs of Stan's thighs. "Completely...you can't turn back...I own you."

Stan felt his hand forced off his cock and whined, letting out a groan. He wasn't allowed to pleasure himself, but, that was how he got off! Even though Craig wanted him to be a woman, that he looked, dressed, sounded like one, he was still a man, he still had a cock! 

He felt Craig starting to come inside of him, warm semen filling him up and starting to run down his legs. He let out a cry and clenched his eyes shut. 

He still hadn't came, not being able to work himself up to it. Maybe he could just pretend it was someone else. He tried to imagine a certain handsome redhead on top of him. 

"Craig!" He cried out, trying to buck his hips and claw at the man's back, hoping to leave marks. Craig wanted to scar him, he could scar him too! When he heard the man say he owned him he didn't like how that sounded. 

"I'm...perfect enough for you to own?"

"Absolutely," Craig said, panting as he rolled away, his spent cock slipping out of Stan. Lying on his side, he draped an arm over Stan, his hand creeping downward and over his belly, settling on the stiff flesh he'd so naughtily tried to stroke on his own. "My little swan," he added, kissing Stan's temple as he began to pump him, soft movements up and down.

"Do you want to come, love?" He whispered, leaning his forehead against Stan's fragrant hair. "Do you feel like you deserve to?"

"Oh god..." He moaned, feeling Craig grab his member and start pumping it. "Please...make me come...I can't...live without it." Stan pleaded. "I...I've been good...let me come... I'll do whatever you want..." He begged, moving to wrap his legs around Craig's waist.

"Ah, so the swan isn't as demure as she likes to think," Craig nearly laughed, working Stan's cock in practiced movements; squeezing slightly as he increased his pace. "Who knew that someone with such an innocent face could be such a slut when the moment calls for it...?"

Licking Stan's bottom lip, Craig relished the tiny pants breaking from his mouth; hot breaths flush against his face. Stan was arching into him, pressing his stiff, little cock harder into Craig's hand, begging...pleading...it was beautiful beyond words. That pretty face was reminiscent of hers when she'd been two steps away from the edge, Craig's hand resting between her legs and stroking her until she'd surrendered to everything he'd asked for; needed from her. Stan was proving to be the same...falling into Craig's arms just as easily; sacrificing the person he'd been before in order to be touched like this. Adored.

"You just want to be loved, don't you?" Craig asked, sensing the rising tension in Stan's muscles; the quickening of his breath. He was close, so close. "Just let go for me...give in."

When Craig said he just wanted to be loved he just nodded, stifling a moan as he felt himself getting closer and closer to coming. After a few moments he let out a cry of pleasure, feeling himself starting to leak out semen. 

"Craig!" He screamed, bucking into his hand as the older man finished taking care of him. "It feels so good...so much better then when I...do it myself..." He admitted, feeling his cock twitch as he started to come.

"Mmm, there, isn't that better?" Craig murmured, kissing Stan's cheek and humming softly as he came. "Dear little one...I don't think you realize just how much I care for you." Pulling Stan close, Craig cradled him close to his chest, his chin resting on the top of Stan's head. He let out a deep breath, still circling somewhere above the earth, trying to settle and land again. It was so hard, though, having Stan there, warm and relaxed in his arms after finishing so nicely.

"I'm not just trying to replace her, you know," he said softly, staring at the far wall while the shadows continued to shift. "True, I miss her very much, but I wanted you because of who you are...you remind me of her, but I love you in a way that's entirely separate from Tricia."

Tensing up, he covered his mouth with his hand, wanting to pull the name back into his mouth immediately.

"Anyway," he continued, wanting to pretend he hadn't spoken her name aloud...hoping Stan was so sleepy and dazed he hadn't noticed. Gently, he picked up one of Stan's hands and studied it in the firelight that was slowly beginning to die. "I'll see to your hands before I put you to bed. I'm afraid you probably won't be able to play the piano for a while." Almost like he couldn't control himself, he smiled, though he knew it wasn't a reassuring one; his cruelty rearing its sleek, monstrous head.

"I'm sure Kyle's heart would break if he knew. Don't you think?"

"You...don't know me though...you just know who you created..." Stan managed to say, his breathing ragged after Craig had fucked him senseless. He was hoping he would lose his virginity to someone he loved not to a man who made him into his own personal doll, some replacement for him for this Tricia person...

His hands were so sore, he could barely even move his fingers. "I...won't be able to do anything with my hands for awhile..." He said, looking at Craig with a pointed look. "I doubt I'll even be able to hold a tea cup."

"I don't know what kyle would think of me... It isn't important..." He lied, not being able to get the handsome redhead out of his head.

Craig looked at him for a moment, a vague thread of suspicion making its way through his mind at Stan's nonchalance regarding Kyle. He shrugged it off, wanting to coast on the beauty of this moment for as long as he could. He'd claimed Stan, made him his own even more so than before...they'd become one for a few precious minutes, and that was the most important thing; not Broflovski, not the ball, not the music Craig had snatched away from Stan so easily....they'd finally started to connect on the profound level Craig needed.

"Don't worry, love," he said easily as he closed up his slacks. Sitting up, he slid his arms under Stan and lifted him from the floor like he was weightless. "The servants will be your hands as you heal...that's what they're there for, after all; to see to all of your needs. In fact, until you've healed, I don't want you lifting a finger. If you do, you'll be punished again."

He smirked before kissing the tip of Stan's nose.

"We wouldn't want that, would we?" 

Soon enough, Craig had carried Stan back to his room and readied him for bed, slipping him into a fresh nightgown and rubbing liniment into his swollen, bruised hands. Before tucking him in, he dosed him with aspirin and held one of the tiny, injured extremities close to his face, kissing it gently. 

"I can admit that my methods can be brutal," he said, kissing the warm hand over and over, "but it's only because I care. If I didn't, I'd let you do whatever you wanted because it wouldn't be a concern whether or not you survived...if anything, I'd throw you out in the cold and leave you to fend for yourself. But," he added, tucking a stray lock of Stan's hair behind his ear, "that's never going to happen. You aren't getting away from me."

Pulling the covers back, he instructed Stan to crawl beneath the blanket, a tide of sadness overtaking him at the thought of wayward little girls that hadn't wanted to accept where they rightfully belonged.

"I know what it's like to lose someone and so do you...your parents, your sister. We understand each other, don't we?" He stroked Stan's cheek. "That's why we were meant for one another...we can start to heal from the past with each other's assistance."

Stan was rather surprised to find himself picked up with ease by Craig and carried back to Craig's room. He had never seen the man's room before but it was so big! Even bigger then the room the older man had put him in. He let out a coo when he hit the soft mattress. God it felt so good! He took in a deep breath and allowed Craig to tend to his hands and kiss them.

If Craig was like this all the time, maybe he could love him, but, that sadistic beast he had been shown earlier was terrifying. Knowing that lied beneath, that it could come out any time, scared him to no end. He wondered if anyone had ever seen lose complete control like that before.

"I-I...never want to be punished again..." He said softly. "It hurt so badly..." He added, allowing himself to be tucked in and the blanket being pulled over him. 

"I'm sorry that you have lost people you loved..." Stan said, actually feeling bad for the man. Maybe that was why he was the way he was? "It hurts...and you feel as though it will never stop hurting." He added, coughing a little as he tried to relax.

"Craig...I'm very thirsty...may I have some water please?"

"Of course you may," Craig said, pushing Stan's bangs from his forehead before turning away and heading for the door. Looking out into the hallway, he saw McCormick loitering, his chair tipped against the wall and his arms crossed. It looked like he'd dozed off. Craig cleared his throat, garnering the man's attention immediately, his head snapping up.

"What's wrong? Did she run off again? Where'd she go?" He asked, rising from his chair, his eye patch askew. 

"Easy, lad." Laying a hand on McCormick's shoulder, Craig shook his head, grinning. "The request is simple this time; water and two glasses, please."

Righting the eye patch, the butler nodded. Slowly, the panic drained from his face.

"As you wish, sir." He turned away, pausing before glancing over his shoulder. "Two glasses, sir?"

"I have a guest this evening," Craig replied, cocking a brow. "What, you don't approve?"

"No, it isn't that, sir. It's just, I can't remember anyone ever sleeping in your room since miss -"

"I'm well aware of that," Craig said, waving him away. He gave him a look, his temper beginning to kindle. "Remember your place, McCormick."

"Forgive me, sir," McCormick said, bowing quickly.

"Go." Stepping back into the room, Craig slowly closed the door before heading back to the bed, his eye falling on a gilded frame containing a photograph resting on his bedside table. Glancing at Stan, he casually tipped it forward, obscuring the pretty young woman smiling out at the world from behind polished glass.

"McCormick is fetching the water," he announced, beginning to undress. "As soon as you've had your fill, I want you to try and sleep. It's been a long night." Sighing, he sat heavily on the bed while he unbuttoned his shirt, fatigue already beginning to drag him down.

"A very long night."

"Thank you Craig." He said, letting a yawn escape his lips. He tried to relax, moving to rest his head on the pillow, allowing his long black locks to fall over the cool white cloth. He looked over at the man, finding some kind of strange connection to the man now, almost like...he wanted to be near him. His emotions were all over the place and sometimes he didn't know how to react to them. He moved to gently rest a hand on Craig's arm.

"Are you going to get under the covers with me?" Stan asked, just needing someone to be close to. The whole day had been so insane, so taxing, he was still trying to process everything.

"Your bed is so comfortable...even more comfortable then mine..." He said, snuggling into the blankets. "It feels like sleeping on a cloud." He added, letting a rather cute giggle escape his lips.

"I suppose it does, doesn't it?" Craig asked, bouncing on the mattress just a little before chastising himself for acting so childish. He couldn't help it, though. Stan was being so beguiling, and it was rather fun to try and look at things the way he did; like everything was new and fascinating. "Well," he said, trying to regain some of his dignity, "I'll take your word for it."

Just then, there was a knock at the door. 

"Enter," Craig called, giving McCormick an impassive look when he entered the room, bearing a silver tray with a pitcher and two glasses on it. Going to the dresser, he set it down before filling the glasses with water. He turned, holding them up. Craig stood and went to him.

"Thank you," he said, taking them. 

"Sir," he nodded, his eye straying over Craig's shoulder and taking in the sight of Stan laid out in the large bed, dressed in a frail nightgown and nearly lost among the pillows and striking red coverlet. It brought back vivid memories of a girl with long hair and green eyes; she'd been pale too, and delicate. When she'd stolen down the corridors years ago, late at night, McCormick had almost thought her to be another shadow, until the master's door opened and he saw the tiny figure slipping inside; feet bare and her nightgown trailing behind her.

The master hadn't even looked at another person since that girl had traveled far away, but now Stan was here, and he was slowly but surely taking her place; eclipsing her memory and the presence she'd left behind.

"If there's nothing else," Craig said, breaking into his thoughts. Shaking his head, McCormick came back to himself. The master was staring at him with a hard expression. "You may retire for the evening, McCormick. We're well enough here."

He bowed before he left the room, giving Stan one last glance before closing the door behind him. Craig stared after him for a moment before going to Stan. He set one of the glasses on the bedside table. Crawling onto the bed, he went to Stan and pulled him close, resting his head against his chest. Gently, he held the glass to his lips.

"Don't forget, I told you I didn't want you to lift a finger," he said, smiling. "Drink, love."

Stan was rather surprised to find Craig gently gathering him into his arms, snuggling him to his chest. He was hesitant at first, but, after a few moments, he gave in, resting his head on the man's chest. He could feel arm muscles holding him tight and he wondered how Craig had gotten them. Kyle had muscles too... Perhaps it was a doctor thing? He didn't say anything, he just felt the glass pressed against his lips and slowly started to drink. He didn't think he would be able to use his hands even if he wanted to.

He felt like his head was in the clouds, like he was in haze.

He drank the entire glass of water, relaxing in Craig's arms as he held him close.

"I am to sleep here tonight? Will you be...sharing the bed with me this evening?" He decided to ask, already knowing the answer.

"Yes, I believe I'll stay," Craig replied wryly, setting the glass aside before yawning, covering his mouth with his hand. "Come now, it's time to settle down. It's late." Sinking into the pillow, he cradled Stan against his side, stroking through his hair. Breathing deeply, he could feel some of the tension finally beginning to ease from his muscles as he fell into the sensation of sharing his bed with another person...it'd been so long.

He glanced out the window at the moon, full and blue-white as stray clouds framed it. Stars, like opals, spread out and filled the panes of glass. The night was deep and heavy, and it made him feel like the world was suddenly too large; too wild. At least he wasn't alone, and he was suddenly very grateful to have Stan lying beside him. Sighing, Craig turned his head on the pillow and kissed his companion's face before he finally allowed himself to close his eyes. Idly, he took a hold of Stan's hand and cradled it softly; its warmth the last thing he was aware of before slipping into sleep.

It took Stan longer to fall asleep. He couldn't help but marvel at Craig's sleeping form, he was so...handsome and peaceful dozing. He wondered what had happened in Craig's life to make him like this. In church, they taught that no one was inherently evil, that, evil came into their lives if they allowed themselves to be vulnerable to it. He actually found himself pitying the doctor. He was so wealthy but he didn't seem happy. He had everything he could ever want, but, abused it. 

He sighed, looking out the window and seeing the stars.

He couldn't help but let a small smile cross his lips. The stars, they reminded him of Kyle. He loved being held in his arms, how the man spoke so sweetly to him, told him about constellations, he prayed he would see him again.

These two doctors were so different, but, each one was worming their way into his heart, whether he liked that or not.