This is my first time writing a Jeeves and Wooster story, so thank you for your patience if you read this and let me know what you think.
Title: No One the
Disclaimer: All people and/or places therein the Jeeves and
Author's note: I’m unsure when this takes place exactly. It’s from Jeeve’s POV.
It is not uncommon that I will spend a great deal, if not virtually my whole day, occupied entirely with topics such as shoes, hats, jacket, ties, or various other garments to which without them my job would be void of all purpose. Of course that is to say nothing of travel times, appointments, correspondences whether by post or in person, all of which satiate what time is left, if not simultaneously, with the former.
I mention the garments because in considering them, color, pattern and so forth, on a practical level, I’ve disturbingly been unable, though a harmless indulgence, to stop thinking of them on an impractical level, rather, on a personal level. Whilst folding or hanging clothes, darning socks, or simply being in the general vicinity of a wardrobe or it’s inhabitants one can’t help realizing the company one keeps, as a valet, is in general reserved for things of the wool or cotton persuasion and that an evening jacket is a poor substitute for a real person, a conclusion I’ve gathered, that suites any article of clothing no matter the quality.
Silent indeed as they are, and I confess I by nature am as well, it understandingly never comes up in conversation that it is in fact rather dismal waiting up into the early hours of the morning for the audible stumbling from down the hall or retching, as is another common contingency, from outside the window and after what is often a lengthy time interval is followed by the sound of the front door opening, all details of which may vary to a degree but remain similar enough to produce the same cyclic conclusion.
Alone, tending to my duties, it also never becomes an issue between I or any pair of trousers, that I’ve been trained as a valet, which figures significantly I am by definition supposed to offer services attributable to a valet, not, if I may, those of a nurse maid or virtual medic for my employer.
Returning to the topic of garments, not forsaking but foregoing the questionable occupational duties for now, I meant to make clear a train of thought which starts with the innocent and easily answered question of, whose garments are they? Not a trick question, no, a simple one. They are Mr. Bertie Wooster’s.
None other, some would say. And it’s a great many jackets and a great many ties all of his ownership. He has worn them, on varying occasion and in varying degrees of consciousness, and wear them again he shall.
It is such an aforementioned evening, ears cocked and waiting, patiently though not keenly, which I am enduring now. And once again, seemingly against my own volition, I’m thinking about his garments in an impractical way despite all my training which insists I do otherwise. But then, my training consists of a great many things. I know all the rules of course, I hardly have to be reminded anymore, and if there were a single infallible manual I would have memorized it. But knowing how to serve hot soap versus cold soap or finding quality in the thorough remembrance of the smallest of details has only gotten me so far. And if I may use yet another but, restrictions these rules remain. I have a choice whether to serve, my occupation is a noble one indeed, and in no way could it resemble even a single syllable within the word enslavement.
I make no mention of my past because I believe if given a choice I’d much rather focus on the future instead of a past that cannot be undone, a truth most come to realize I’m sure, but the mum time spent as a valet in no way offers peace or tranquility of the mind. My own often wanders upon some impenetrable path or across some uncharitable sea against my intentions for it to do otherwise, and the past, I’m afraid, is a common subject to which I subject myself.
You’d like to hear of my misspent youth I suppose, of how I learned to walk the straight and narrow, discarding a life of unruliness and wretchedness to don the attire of a meaningful life of respectful service. That’s one likely answer. Another is that a person who has experienced an environment of sordidness and cruelty, let’s say an abusive father, would seek if not crave a life where they can feel this sense of inferiority in their day to day life, such treatment in their eyes registering as affection, the only kind they’ve known, to the point that abuse as a child can be the motivation behind their vocation, relationships, or even the working of their own heart.
This person might not love the same way you do.
The heart muscle may be stunted or scarred, mind you it still works somewhere between the barest sense of the word and impressively well, depending on the person it belongs to of course.
I’ve no idea or by any credentials could guess how my own heart is at this point, it has been a long and wearisome road thus far. I can’t examine myself, nor do I desire to. In any case, one can do nothing about scars. I severed connections with my past for a reason, several very good reasons actually, even patted myself on the back for such a proactive action, even if it was just one pat. Fear, fear of being followed soon ensued and I realized, regardless of how far or fast I run, I may never be free. I had thought anything would be better, that I’d be better off here, doing this. I don’t know if I am.
But being ordered around by Mr. Wooster is in no way like my father’s actions towards me, I refuse to believe that. I don’t enjoy the authority he has over me, I enjoy and I’m honored to serve him. In evidence for this statement, I have admitted and appreciate the comfortable lack of authority he has over me, in the sense that he asks very little about me and is grateful for my services.
So, he may never see the scars, as is how I want it.
The apartment is quiet and dark. Save for the lamp I’m using naught but a streetlamp or the moon itself, on it’s quarter phase I believe, shed any light on myself or my work. I heard a car outside, the rumble of its motor loud as if to clear its way of the night. My eyes dropped to the sock I was darning then shifted slowly up my exposed forearm, sleeves pushed up to work, and the scars seem brighter to me, more evident tonight, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the light.
The clothes, I regress, are of great import because they are simply his. They’re his because he’s worn them. Time, I’ve come to perceive, spent with his clothes is like time spent with him. Though I prefer being in his immediate company, sometimes this is all I have. It’s better this way though, such affection for one’s employer, when even the simplest attachments are discouraged, can only lead to bad things.
I do have a life outside of work. That statement however seems totally relative in relation to the meager existence of a valet, respectable, granted, but by no means comparable to the lives of those we serve. Our masters, though it’s not in any way our place to say, are oblivious to all but what is repeatedly revered as “their kind or particular breed”. It seems they are made blind, if not deaf as well by their own frivolous, clueless, luxurious life style. A top hat, after all, is just a top hat. A beggar on the street could be wearing one and a beggar nonetheless he would be.
I’m merely trying to convey the gap that remains, and probably forever shall remain, between the world they live and the one in which we are not allowed to live, per say, only allowed to occupy to a designated point. I wouldn’t want to be a part of that world though, I’m not that kind of person nor do I strive to be. No, it takes a certain kind of person to do what they do, what he does, qualities of which I’m afraid I would not be able to uphold unless only for a short time. But a part of it I am nonetheless, regarded perhaps by some as no more than an everyday fixture, dare I say as inconsequential as a coat-stand or a lamp, hardly worth noticing, unless of course absent, in which case the act of noticing is turned into an act of missing.
Suddenly I heard a knock, or what would seem like a knock if memory serves, at the front door. Waiting a moment, laying the socks I had finished on top the table, I heard next the sound of the doorknob turning, affirming my deduction that the preceding knock had not been a knock but rather Mr. Wooster running into the door before recovering to open it properly.
I took a few breathes as I stood up, filling my lungs, trying to prepare myself for the unfortunate task at hand. I ran a quick hand over my hair, exhaling sharply and pushed through the door, berating myself for wasting the last few seconds.
“Jeeves!” Mr. Wooster exclaimed from where he stood at the front door, startled maybe, though it was hard to distinguish since his mouth was already hanging open. He seemed to close it deliberately, rearranging his tongue with such concentration his eyes squeezed shut before saying in a very unclear way, “You are here . . . here,” I doubt he knew he was swaying, “That’s . . . that’s good, good because, because . . . you’re here,” his eyes opened and he gained footing enough to stand still for a moment, pointing one swaying finger to the ground in a determined way and stated, “Here,” which caused a smile.
“I trust sir had an enjoyable evening?” I ventured, walking carefully to his side to retrieve his hat and gloves.
“Of course I did, of course I did, of course I did,” he rolled his eyes, and I felt certain he’d say “of course I did” one more time, but he didn’t, in fact he’d stopped smiling, eyes that were normally the most beautiful shade of blue downcast and red, “But still,” he looked up at me and I was unsure whether I should meet his gaze which seemed as unsteady as he was, until, through what seem simple force of will he made them stop at mine, “I decided to make my way back here before I got too drunk.”
“Sir has an excellent gage of self-condition,” I said, making a movement for his coat.
His form grew suddenly rigid as my fingers brushed the cloth of his coat and for a moment I thought he was going to strike me, but it passed as suddenly as it had appeared and I, somewhat warily, stood behind him to take the garment off. He attempted to shrug out of it but his arms nonetheless remained limp and I was forced to lift his arms for him.
“I know I have--what do you think I am, some sort of git?” he said as I hung up the coat which was in a somewhat malodorous condition, “I’m not, you know.”
I turned back to him, straightening my spine, resisting every fidgeting habit I have but have learned to control, such as biting my lip or wringing my hands, noting them as necessary adjustments I've had to make. “Not a what, sir?” I asked.
His head rolled back impatiently, biting his lips as he did so, leaving it somewhat redder than it had been before as he sighed in irritation, “A git, a git, I’m not a git.”
"Such an utterance, sir, I assure you, has never left my lips, sir.”
“Oh really?” he retorted, smiling a rueful smile, giving a short bitter laugh, “Well, Jeeves, I hope you’re content on that island, all to yourself, population a grand total of one. Only one person on the whole dashed island where it is that no one thinks Bertie Wooster is a git,” his eyes darkened and his brow furrowed as he looked away from me, shaking his head slightly before running a hand across his clammy forehead and turning unsteadily to get to his bedroom.
As required, I followed. He’d dragged a hand over his collar, unfastening it so it stuck out to either side of his neck and was trying to get it all the way off but was for the most part unsuccessful. He’d stopped in the middle of his room, swaying, and when I moved to his side he was taking low, shallow breathes, eyes closed.
Inebriation is not an uncommon occurrence at this flat or the owner thereof, it’s all relative of course and all susceptible to a degree but it remains a stable in such a way of life. At best, Mr. Wooster’s drunkenness can manifest itself as simply a higher ratio of laughs than words while engaged in conversation, and at worst, it’s near poisoning. Like someone’s poisoned him. The culprit, as the dismal fact proves, is only himself. This is at the worse end of degrees. As one of the prior mentioned rules I’m unable to leave him in this state.
“Let me—” I started to say, reaching my hands to help him, but before I could even say sir he slapped my hands away.
“Let you what? Undress me? I can do it my bloody self!”
“Sir,” I nodded respectfully, turning to get his pajamas if in fact he intended to wear them, and set them on the bed.
“Damn it,” I heard uttered in a frustrated voice, edged with anger, and looked to see him struggling, “Christ . . . I shouldn’t have drunk so much, I’m such a git,” he ripped at his white waistcoat and I watched a button fall to the floor, the action followed by an angry, defeated exhale by Mr. Wooster. I stepped forward and let my fingers calmly undo the buttons, easing it over his shoulders.
“Comfort, sir, if my assurance means anything you’ll no doubt feel better in the morning.”
“No I won’t,” he said, standing utterly still as I folded the waistcoat, set it down, and reached for the next set of buttons, averting my eyes as I was supposed to.
“I wouldn’t say that,” I said to him as quietly as I could, one of my fingertips accidentally brushing against the hot skin of his chest, “Things may appear darker now then they really are, sir, but that is what morning is indeed for.”
“Bugger that,” he said in a shaking voice, “And bugger morning . . . same problems will still be there, I’ll just be sober enough to care,” he brought a hand to his head, hindering my efforts, running fingers through his disheveled hair, “God . . . I can’t stand,” he swayed to the side.
Hardly thinking I grabbed both his shoulders to steady him at the same time he brought his hands to my arms, his weight dragging on me suddenly. He lost whatever footing he had and whether it was falling or stumbling or both he had clasped in almost clumsy way on my chest, arms moving around me in what would by definition be called an embrace. Not reciprocated, by any means, to which I can blame shock.
Suddenly Mr. Wooster’s hair was to the side of my nose, smelling of sweat, shampoo, and cigarette smoke, his scent lingering to my nostrils as in my ear he heaved several deep breathes characteristic of one in tears. I stood stark still, able to do nothing but hold my arms at my sides, utterly frozen as my master Mr. Wooster cried into my shoulder. I don’t know what he’s saying but disjointed words are being uttered under his breath, inaudible because of his tears and for being spoken into my shoulder, their desperate, miserable quality fitting appropriately with the slight shaking that had begun somewhere across his shoulders and was now resonating across his entire back. His arms tightened around me. Tentatively, because I do most things tentatively, I raised one of my hands to his back. My fingers curled somewhat into the cloth of his shirt as I rubbed his back gently.
“Mr. Wooster,” I said softly, clearing my throat past a sudden choking sensation, words, words that I have always and fervently relied on, knowing them never to fail me, were suddenly gone. Words literally failed me. I licked my lips, mouth open but nothing coming out.
“Jeeves,” he said, standing back but not stepping back, his face, startlingly his eyes, now close enough to me that if they were separate seas of endless blue a sudden squall would be needless for want to drown in them would be contentment enough. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking right at me. Tears had made trails of shining light down his face, one in particular had traveled down his cheek to the corner of his mouth.
“No apology needed, sir,” I was able to say. He was so close to me, never had he touched me in such a deliberate way, nor I him for that matter.
Now Mr. Wooster is swaying in a way that brought him even closer to me, head bowing as he seemed unable to keep himself at rest. A moment passed before he looked up, eyes fluttering slightly, pupils drawing into focus with a deep breath and consequent exhale. I didn’t divert my eyes, though if it wad by choice or inability I'm not certain, not even sure he’s fully aware of me or his current situation. They’re still full of tears and seem not to have given their assurance of stopping anytime soon, but a solemn light had fallen over them and for a moment he almost seemed himself. With an idling, almost unintentionally slow way Mr. Wooster started to lean towards me, eyes now lowered at what I can deduce are my lips, and in the next moment, Mr. Wooster’s eyes shut dreamily and he kissed me. Or a more apt description for the situation perhaps would be pressing his lips to mine as if they just happened to be in the right place same as his.
I didn’t move my lips, I didn’t react, I kept them perfectly still because after all the act of kissing is only possible with two people, not by one’s lonesome, it must be reciprocated, thus this, this thing that’s happening can be easily and adequately explained as an accident involving myself and Mr. Wooster whereupon I was attempting to help him and his lips somehow fell onto mine.
And I, not to mention, can’t kiss him! I can’t, it would be impossible, utterly and completely contrary to the preordained regulations of what those in my profession consider a higher moral code which must be withheld at all times! Like now, like when Mr. Wooster warm, wet, sweet lips are against mine and everything, absolutely everything is telling me to refuse them. But I haven’t done anything, nothing; I can’t stop if I haven’t begun for Christ’s sake. I slid my hands off of him, holding them in the air so long as I wasn’t touching him. Mr. Wooster’s lips moved, his mouth falling open against mine and under the pressure my tongue moved the slightest, an absolute fraction of a distance from behind my lips, and as a result his tongue is suddenly touching mine and my mouth has opened and we’re falling together. My hands are back on him as he tilted his head to the side, the wet smack of our lips sounding in the small room as he dragged my head toward him, driving his tongue deeper, hungrily consuming me, the heat of which spread all the way from my cheeks which I knew were red to the pit of my stomach, to my groin. And God, I’m kissing back. Warm, caressing movements, messy, hurried breathes as my hand slid to his lower back. Stop. Stop. Heard him moan. My heart pounded, blood pumping, cock throbbing, hard, so sudden I gasped helplessly. Stop. He tasted so amazing, so so amazing. I suddenly fell backwards a step , my knees weak, and Mr.
He stared in shock at me for how long it took him to take five gasping breathes then his eyes look to the floor and he’s shaking his head, “I say, what happened?”
“Sir,” I said, feeling myself almost stutter.
“Well . . .” he said, breath suddenly catching in his throat, “I—”
God, he’s going to be sick. I had no time to fetch any kind of bowl or container so as to save the carpet before he suddenly doubled over and threw up all over the carpet. He fell to his knees, still gagging, breath like sobs.
I reacted as calmly as I could, something I’m rather good at most of the time, and reached for a towel beside his bed. Once he seemed sure he’d stopped retching he sat all the way on the carpet, struggling for breath, running a sleeve over his mouth.
Hesitant, I knelt next to him, offering him the towel. When he didn’t take it I cleared my throat, only glancing once at his face, his misery seemed to emanate from him, I didn’t have to see his face to know that, but that made this no less difficult.
And here, sitting on the floor next to my master, is a glaring example of what I do wrong, at least where Mr. Bertie Wooster is concerned. If another valet could see me know he’d take everything from my silver tray to my shoe polish and denounce what small title I have. Actions, yes, are made pinnacle in our judgments of character but what a different world this would be if thoughts were the betrayer. It’s difficult to lie with ones thoughts though easy to lie through ones actions. My father told me that . . . he said no man can lie to himself forever. He was right.
“Sir,” I said to Mr. Wooster, watching in distress at his continuous use of his sleeve for wiping his mouth, “Perhaps a better rest can be achieved in clean clothes and a clean bed,”
His eyes are closed, mouth open as he took careful breathes. He had his forehead resting on the heel of his hand, elbow propped up on a knee, his other leg bent underneath him.
I watched him, waiting for at least a sign of consent, “Sir?” I asked.
He let his hand fall away from his forehead and his eyes opened but he didn’t look at me, a look of disgust passed over his face as he appeared to attempt swallowing away the bad taste in his mouth, his voice now quiet and ragged, “Don’t hate me,” he said finally, taking a shuddering breath.
I almost nearly lost any composure I'd managed to regain, pausing before saying, “Impossible, sir,” then moved to pull him to his feet.
I cleaned him up as best as I could, enough so he could sleep comfortably, though it would more accurately called passing out. As soon as I got him in bed and pulled the sheets up he wasn’t conscious.
“Good night, sir,” I though he couldn’t hear me.
I don’t know what he’ll remember in the morning.