Fandom: Jeeves & Wooster
Total wordcount: 11292
Notes: 3 1/2 years in the making. Thanks again to everyone who held my hand and listened to my whining all this time. No words are adequate to express how much I owe beta_goddess for going through this process with me. The other people responsible know who they are...or they should.
WARNINGS: DARK!FIC. Includes non-consensual sex, alcoholism, and forced alcohol withdrawal.
Summary: Jeeves is forced to face his failure as a gentleman and a gentleman's gentleman.
When the agency dispatched me to the residence of Mr. Bertie Wooster, I was provided with his name, age, address, and such information as had been left in the Junior Ganymede book by the valets who had served him until that time. What I had not been prepared for was the precise shade of his startling blue eyes or the endearing effect of his smile, specifically the expression of relief and gratitude when I provided him with a restorative libation upon our first meeting.
While I had always endeavoured to maintain cordial relations with my employers, I must admit that I immediately felt something more akin to affection for Mr. Wooster, and that my relationship with him was both deeper and fonder than any other, leading me to behaviour I would come to regret.
It was in the second decade of our association that I began to notice a somewhat disturbing development regarding Mr. Wooster’s consumption of intoxicating beverages.
Perhaps I would have become concerned sooner if the initial signals had not made themselves visible during our sojourn in the United States. The general gaiety sweeping through the populace in the wake of their release from the shackles of Prohibition apparently necessitated constant visits to nightclubs, saloons, and parties where sobriety was treated as an uninvited guest to be banished at all costs. Mr. Wooster in his attempts to “do as the bally Romans do” had adopted for the duration of our stay in New York an uncouth concoction called a “Manhattan”.
The drinking of said vile elixir and resolving those contretemps entered into with similarly inclined associates began to take up exponentially larger portions of both the ante and post meridian hours. I was most disturbed by the several nights Mr. Wooster was forced to spend in custody without a proper bath or his pyjamas, due to being apprehended in some act of petty thievery along with his so-called friends. Being called “Reggie” by a low-browed thug of Celtic ancestry on my third visit to extricate my employer by means of that quaint system of extortion called “bail” is not an event on which I wish to dwell. It eventually became necessary to wire to London for funds, which brought the situation to the attention of Lady Agatha Wooster Gregson Worpeldson.
Under most circumstances, an unheralded appearance by the formidable Aunt Agatha would have been a cause for barricading the penthouse door and undertaking whatever subterfuge might be necessary to expedite her departure from the premises. On this occasion, she had already crossed the palm of our rather overly-friendly lift operator with silver or possibly green and there was no turning her away from the front door. She swept in, beheld Mr. Wooster’s state of dishabille following the previous night’s frivolity and delivered herself of a messianic pronouncement. “Young Bertie” was to return home forthwith to attend to some matter regarding his inheritance that required an appearance at his solicitor’s office in London no less than four weeks hence.
While I made a good show of commiseration in the face of Mr. Wooster’s crestfallen countenance, it was only with the greatest of effort that I concealed a certain delight. It was my conviction that back among his familiar surroundings and associates, Mr. Wooster’s imbibing would return to more reasonable quantities with no further intervention.
At first blush, the return to Berkeley Square proved as salubrious as I had hoped. Once again, the drink of favour was gin and tonic, supplemented by an occasional aperitif, whiskey, postprandial brandy or other libation suitable to a young man of his status.
This result brought about no small relief on my part. Something about Mr. Wooster’s appearance when perplexed, disheveled and nearly helpless reminded me of our first encounter. While these moments touched my heart, I must sadly admit that they appealed to other, more physical, aspects of my person as well.
Once I had established myself as indispensable to the ongoing comfort and well-being of my employer’s existence, I had found his intoxication too great a temptation to resist. On those nights when I judged him sufficiently inebriated, I began to habituate him to the acceptance of vaguely intimate caresses. In the early years, these amounted to nothing more than a fleeting touch at bedtime, which would provide me with a momentary frisson of pleasure followed by hours of private guilt. I would vow that each incident was the last one, but found myself depressingly unable to keep these promises to myself.
As our association continued and his drinking progressed, it became possible to use the depth of his drunkenness for further lewdness. I arranged for my master’s hands to hold the circumference of my manhood in such a way as to provide pleasurable friction. It took many years and the celebration following the first routing of Roderick Spode before I dared to introduce my member to Mr. Wooster’s mouth while he was in a state of pleased obtundity.
On one such occasion, I may have thrust a bit too forcefully, caught up as I was in the notion that my employer, a member of the aristocracy, was performing an act usually left to menials and women of ill-repute.. I held my breath in horror, waiting for the moment when he would awake and dislodge me from his mouth and say something along the lines of “What on earth? Jeeves, I must ask what your thing-a-bob is doing embedded the old oral cavity?” But the moment passed and the act was continued to its satisfactory conclusion. His state of unconsciousness required that I do most of the work, but as a servant, one becomes used to that sort of thing.
That he occasionally spoke in a hoarse whisper in the morning and complained of a “deuced rough throat” filled me with remorse, which I attempted to assuage by providing honey and lemon in lieu of milk and sugar in his morning tea, as well as any number of small services I could accomplish beyond my usual duties without drawing undue attention to the fact.
Although each of these acts filled me with shame and the promise that there would be no more, eventually the over-powering guilt began to recede and I would find myself once again looking toward Mr. Wooster with the jaundiced eye of carnal longings, and his succulent mouth was no longer sufficient to quell my desires.
The next step, repulsive to me now in retrospect, but seemingly inevitable at the time, occurred after a particularly violent dust-up involving the ill-starred Gussie Fink-Nottle, during which a near-riot ensued and I was lucky to help Mr. Wooster escape from a banquet hall with his clothing and virtue intact given the extreme interest of a young lady who made her living upon the music hall stage.
Mr. Wooster was in an exceptionally exhilarated mood that night, staying at his piano for many hours, regaling me with every song in his vast repertoire. Only when he realized that he could not extricate himself from another chorus of “Hidey, hidey, hidey, ho” in “Minnie the Moocher,” did he agreed to let me help him make ready for bed. He was still singing as I laid out his pyjamas. “Minnie had a heart as big as a whale…”
I helped remove his jacket, cufflinks, shirt and tie, and shoes. Generally, I left the room at that point to allow some privacy, but it quickly became evident that while Mr. Wooster had been able to play the piano, his dexterity did not extend to the belt of his trousers. He produced an expression of befuddled helplessness and I took the opportunity to assist in the removal of both his outer and inner garments.
As if it were pre-ordained, the undressing culminated at the same moment as the finally “Hidey ho” trailed off into the soft breathing of complete unconsciousness. Although I do not generally consider myself a religious man, it would have felt like an act of sacrilege to turn down such a gift, although afterwards I prayed for absolution for this heinous sin.
It was nearly impossible not to throw myself to ground and beg his forgiveness as Mr. Wooster made reference to the previous evening’s carousing.
“I say, that must have been quite a time last night. I hurt from stem to stern. Ah, I see you’ve already whipped up a dose of your curative.”
As always, I told myself in the strongest terms that there would be no repetition. I could not continue to visit such indignities on my employer or suffer through the torments of self-loathing these activities brought to my heart and soul. Meanwhile, I was most anxious to hasten the movement from bedroom to kitchen, so that I might sooner remove the bedding and any possible evidence of my perfidy.
Being back in London gave Mr. Wooster the opportunity to resume social interactions with his fellow Drones Club members. In the past, I had looked less than fondly on some of the “chums” who seemed to serve no other purpose than to inveigle Mr. Wooster into their various schemes and romantic entanglements. However, following the parade of low-bred characters I had been forced to deal with in America, I was now willing to welcome Bingo Little, Percy Wimbush, Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton and, much as it pains me to say it, “Dogface” Rainby to the apartment if it would guarantee that the young master could be kept on an even keel and involved in adventures no more threatening to his good name than those that had transpired before the trip abroad.
I now realise that I was deluding myself into thinking all was well simply because the next few months were spent sorting out nothing more sinister than misbegotten engagements and ill-advised investments before they had progressed beyond my ability to save Mr. Wooster’s reputation and financial standing.
Particlarly gratifying was the fact that I’d been able to suppress my own loathsome desires and nothing untoward had ocurred of late, leading me to believe I now had complete control over these repellent urges. It was as if all dark clouds had been banished and a great sense of relief seemed to permeate the air of Berkeley Place.
One Sunday evening, following a fine soft day in April, I was busying myself with the ironing when Mr. Wooster arrived home with a spring in his step and a tune on his lips, which I recognized as a marching song from the Boer War.
“We are marching to Pretoria. Pretoria, HOORAH!”
I watched him “march,” if such a term may be applied to his ungainly stride, toward the piano, where he sat down, and proceeded to bang away at the keys. The evidence of my eyes and nose attested to what must have been a level of consumption equal or higher to the worst of the New York drinking and yet as far as I could tell, he was still managing to strike the correct keys and sing in tune.
“Amazing bit of music, wouldn’t you say, Jeeves? Makes you want to put on a pair of boots and take off for the Dark Continent. Serve crown and Queen.”
“Indeed sir. And may I inquire from whom you might have learned this ditty?”
“Captain James Prescott,” he announced, standing up and holding out his arms for me to assist with removing his jacket and shirt. Mr. Wooster was unable to maintain a standing position, and tottered against me. For a second, I was supporting his weight, and found myself equally aroused by his closeness and repelled by the unctuously sweet odor that seemed to emanate from his very pores. The months of self-control seemed to melt away and the cess-pool of my shameful desire rose up to overtake me again. I was struck with the notion that he might be deliberately prolonging the contact, but that was impossible. He was simply too inebriated to know what he was doing, and I was too weak to stop him. I had half a mind to steer him towards the bedroom before he expressed a desire for sleep, but that was unthinkable under any circumstances.
Mr. Wooster was in such an exceptionally voluble condition that I feared he might regain sobriety before he talked himself out, each word adding to my growing frustration – and there were many, many words.
“Extraordinary fellow, Jeeves. Fresh from the field of battle and full of tales of derring and do. Freddy brought him round. You do remember Freddy Threepwood, don’t you Jeeves? Anyway, turns out that Captain Prescott is his third cousin once removed or some such. He spent the whole of the evening regaling us with stories and songs. Have you heard this one?”
He started singing a rather vulgar song associated with the troops who’d served in France during the Great War and their habits of consorting with the local females, every chorus of “Hinky-dinky parlez vous” followed by a repetition of some story told by Captain Prescott.
I found myself feeling strangely aggravated by the nearly worshipful attitude being espoused toward this gentleman. Rarely had I felt such animosity toward an individual I had yet to meet in the flesh, but the longer Mr. Wooster continued to bellow out songs of the battlefield and regurgitate the stories that this Prescott had been using as currency for his growing bar tab, the harder I found it to maintain a neutral expression.
Presumably this was a one-time visit. Surely such a great military figure must be bound back to his field of battle. Burma, I had heard was quite a hot-bed of action.
Mr. Wooster’s singing and speech were becoming punctuated by yawns which increased in length and volume, although he was still loath to relinquish his seat at the piano. “Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag… Did you know that Captain Prescott was wounded in…Cairo or Kabul or Calais….Some place like that.”
With a final mighty yawn, he slumped over the keyboard.
“I’m sure it was most painful, sir.”
He didn’t respond, leaving me confidently free to lift his sleeping body and convey it into the bedroom. Having removed his clothing, I could not restrain myself from allowing my hands to roam his slender physique. I laid kisses up on his lips and throat and eventually relieved the stress that had formed while listening to the endless paeans to Captain Prescott.
After the act had reached a satisfactory conclusion, I left Mr. Wooster sleeping peacefully and repaired to my own room, deeply shaken by this incident. Something troubled me far beyond my usual guilt at both the immoral act and the fact that violations of my master’s person constituted a breech of the valet’s code. Never before had I found myself moved so violently by the baser emotion of envy. Jealousy over some preening peacock of a Captain had no place in the life of a gentleman’s gentleman.
The morning found me measuring out ingredients for the restorative beverage which would no doubt be required when Mr. Wooster was ready to face the light of day. The ringing of the door chimes interrupted my preparations and I hastened to answer it, not wanting Mr. Wooster roused from slumber any sooner than necessary.
Upon opening the door, I found myself face to face with a man wearing a coat belted at the waist. He was tall enough to be imposing even to myself. His face was partially obscured by a large walrus mustache and I had enough time to take note of the rather reddish tinge about his pupils to make a guess at his identity. However, either by reflex or training I was not able to slam the door in his face.
“Captain James Prescott,” he announced himself in an overly hearty voice. “Is Bertie up and about yet?”
I steeled myself to present an appearance of utter civility while attempting to prevent further contact between him and my master, finding his use of Mr. Wooster’s given name in its diminutive form especially grating.
“I’m afraid Mr. Wooster is still asleep and I would appreciate it if...”
“What ho, James? You’re looking fit as a cello.”
I turned to find Mr. Wooster behind me in the foyer in his bathrobe, smiling at Captain Prescott in a way that caused my intestines to clench unpleasantly.
“Hello Bertie, how’s the head?”
“Not too bad, really.”
“Ready to watch a bit of racing?”
“Absolutely. I haven’t been to the track in…how long has it been, Jeeves?”
“Oh, quite a while, sir. Months, in fact.”
I recalled with dismay several excursions of that nature when we were in New York. Any connection with horses almost inevitably led to imprudent wagering and carousing.
“Just give me a few minutes to get dressed and we’ll be off. Wouldn’t want to keep the trotters waiting.”
“But, sir,” I interjected, “You haven’t had your breakfast. You need to eat.”
“Don’t worry, Jeeves,” Prescott boomed. “I’ll make sure the lad doesn’t go hungry. Or thirsty.”
“Come along, Jeeves. Help me pick out the best ensemble for a day at the races.”
“Very good, sir.”
He did not return for three days.
The first night, I sat up doing such mending as I could find necessary in Mr. Wooster’s wardrobe, attempting to deny my concerns. Despite my intrinsic dislike of Captain Prescott, he was, I assumed, fully capable of taking steps to protect himself and a companion should danger arise.
When I awoke the following day to find Mr. Wooster still not on the premises, I took the unprecedented step of paying a call on the Drones Club itself. Perhaps the two gentlemen had repaired there for toasts of commiseration or celebration. A few words with McGarry provided the disturbing information that Captain Prescott, although vouched for by Freddie Threepwood, had in fact, worn out his welcome at the Drones Club within a single night. Furthermore, McGarry implied that his status as a “Captain” in any branch of the military was dubious at best.
This left me at a momentary loss for a proper course of action. A call to Scotland Yard reporting a missing person might be premature and could lead to a certain amount of embarrassment depending on where he and the Captain were and what they were doing, yet I couldn’t ignore the possibility of actual danger to my employer, which it was my responsibility to circumvent.
Torn between conflicting impulses, and unable to drive my proprietary feelings regarding Mr. Wooster out of my mind, I rang up the Junior Ganymede club. By good chance, my mentor of long standing, Edgar Pembroke, happened to be in residence. Immediately discerning the worry in my voice, he invited me over for a chat. I promised myself that I would contact authorities and Aunts if my master had not reappeared by first light and proceeded to Knightsbridge to keep my appointment.
While Edgar was already familiar with the high-lights of Mr. Wooster’s pages in The Book, I had been less than forthcoming in my more recent accountings.
Sitting in the library, sipping an excellent port, I felt compelled to reveal, if only in a modest way, what I had observed of Mr. Wooster when it came to the drinking of alcoholic beverages, including those facts I’d purposely omitted from the records. I expected a well-deserved chastisement for my duplicity toward my fellow valets, but I had already made the decision that I should never voluntarily leave Mr. Wooster’s service, thereby allowing me some leeway in my actions.
Instead of scolding, my friend shook his head sadly and sat back in his chair, a look of sympathy to the point of pity clouding his features.
“Reginald, do you remember Lord Winstone?”
“I met him on a few occasions. You always spoke of him as a decent and compassionate employer.”
“Indeed he was. Or I should say, he was decent and compassionate as long as he foreswore the consumption of liquor, which he was never able to do more than a few months, no matter how much he wanted to and at times he wanted to most desperately.”
“Were you unable to help him?”
“It is the greatest failing of my career and the reason I am no longer in service, except to this society. I let my master down and he passed away because of it.”
“I understood that he succumbed to a bout of malaria following a visit to the family’s holdings in Ceylon?”
“That is what the family wished to be believed and naturally I acceded even to the extent of allowing a false report to appear in The Book, where it remains to this day.”
“If I might then inquire as to the actual cause?”
“There were many maladies listed on the death certificate, but the cause was the drink. Most of these fellows can down their pint a day and kick the bucket at 80 surrounded by grandchildren. But for some of them…it takes over lives, changes them, and finally kills them.”
Despite the proximity of the fireplace, I suddenly felt a great chill.
“What can I do?”
“There are clinics. There are doctors. There’s even a defrocked madman in Vienna who insists that the condition stems from those truths that the inebriate wishes to hide from himself.”
In a trice, I was reminded of those nights when I’d taken advantage of Mr. Wooster’s inebriation for my own pleasures, utterly confident he would remember nothing of what had transpired. What if I had been mistaken? What if he had even a glimmer in some part of his deepest mind but was as repulsed by the notion as any right-thinking gentleman ought to be? Was it possible that I was in any way responsible for what had happened in New York and what might be happening now?
If this were true, I was a disgrace to my calling and would have to leave Mr. Wooster’s employ as promptly as possible. Since this prospect was completely unacceptable, I reassured myself that such was not the case and returned home.
Before I left, Edgar fixed me with his great sad eyes and made a final pronouncement.
“Reginald, if your Mr. Wooster is one of those unfortunate few, then either you must help him throw off this curse once and for all or you will find yourself regulating every drop. You’ll be more of a caretaker than a valet. Then a ward nurse. And finally chief mourner.”
These words weighed heavily on my mind as the afternoon darkened its way into evening. I distracted myself from the ticking of the clock by mentally composing the report I would offer to Scotland Yard if Mr. Wooster did not return by six on the nose. The fact that I would have to allude to the drunkenness of my employer as well casting aspersions on an officer in His Majesty’s army caused me no small amount of distress, but nothing compared to the possibility of his being lost forever.
Just as I had given up hope and was raising the telephone, I heard the door opening and moved to the foyer with as much speed as I could muster.
“What ho, Jeeves?” came the familiar voice, and it took every ounce of self-control not to embrace him to my bosom and press soft kisses on his brow until he promised never to give me such a fright again. I might have succumbed were it not for the presence of two constables flanking Mr. Wooster and, upon closer examination, holding him up.
“This one belong to you?” the taller of the two officers inquired and while it would be presumptuous of me to claim ownership of my employer, I did allow that this was Mr. Wooster’s residence.
On closer observation, it became apparent that Mr. Wooster had not come through the past seventy-two hours unscathed. There was the hint of a purplish bruise in the vicinity of his left cheekbone and a cut on his lower lip. Of more concern was his general demeanour. Despite the jauntiness of his original greeting, I noticed a rather deathly cast to his skin and nothing of the usual sparkle to be found in his eyes. It was as if the normal bright blue had been rubbed out with an eraser leaving only the shadows. Furthermore, as soon as the two men at his side gave up their hold on his person, he practically sank to the floor at my feet as though he had been filleted by an expert butcher and was now nothing but a bag of flesh, one that was attempting to reach the water closet with the greatest sense of urgency.
Single-handedly, I brought him to his knees and then feet and managed to half steer, half-carry him toward the intended destination.
“Very good Jeeves, I think I can manage from here,” he managed to get out, before sliding out of my grasp and down to the floor. As painful as his prolonged regurgitation was to my eyes and ears, I still thought it my duty to attend my master in his time of distress. However, I wished to speak to the gentlemen who had returned him to safety, and determine whether there were any circumstances that would require concealment. I was also desirous to know the whereabouts and condition of Major Prescott, in order to plan the most detailed and excruciating punishment for any harm that had been inflicted on Mr. Wooster during his prolonged absence.
“We caught up to him in Cardiff,” one of them announced to my astonishment. In an effort to pretend that we were not hearing the piteous noises emerging from the facility, I offered the two detectives tea and seats in the living room, so that they could better enlighten me.
It turned out, hardly to my surprise, that “Captain” Prescott was no Captain at all, certainly not in any service of the British Empire. Nor was he any relation to Frederick Threepwood. In fact, his nation of origin, legal status and very name were all matters of some question. Both the Yard and the metropolitan police had outstanding warrants, which had led to his hasty retreat from the race-course with Mr. Wooster and his wallet in tow, somehow convincing him to subsidize a pair of tickets to Wales as well as food, beverage and accommodations until his money had run out. At that point, the “Captain” had undertaken to restock their larder with some chicanery in one of the pubs, leading to incarceration and the evidence of fighting I had seen on Mr. Wooster’s face.
This tale left me deeply shocked and concerned for my employer’s well-being, as I recalled Edgar Pembroke’s warning to me about the possible future. Clearly, I needed to maintain tighter control over his drinking, as well as his associations. I turned my attention to the water-closet from which I heard the final coughs and spits of illness followed by the attempt to call my name, which reached the living room as a barely audible gasp.
I bade the officers good-night and thanked them perhaps a bit over-effusively for returning Mr. Wooster to London and not holding him responsible for the crimes committed or debts incurred by Prescott, whoever he really was, before tending to my master. It was no pleasant task to get him fully clean, erasing all evidence of alcohol and vomit and dirt, and the residual stench of the prison. On this night there was no temptation to touch or caress, only the desire to have him bathed, dried and in his bed, sleeping as soundly as a baby, so I could retire to my rooms and contemplate the situation.
While it was truly excruciating to hear the suffering caused by what must have been titanic amounts of alcohol consumed while consorting with the rogue Prescott, I harbored a slim hope that this incident might inspire some level of moderation in Mr. Wooster. No man could possibly go through an experience of that nature and not take away some lesson merely in the name of self-preservation.
I had much time to nurture these hopes as the bell signaling the need for my presence did not ring for nearly twenty four hours. Upon arriving in his bedroom, I found Mr. Wooster still supine within his bedclothes. Each attempt to move toward a sitting position caused him to groan and clutch his head. I stepped in to place pillows against the headboard allowing him to sit up. He kept his eyes tightly closed, as though the sunlight were an affront, even through the curtains.
“I say, Jeeves. That was rather a rough go, the last few days. Good fun and all that, mind you but the old noggin has a few things to say this morning.” He made an attempt to open his eyes and I thought it might be necessary to remove him back to the water closet, but he managed to swallow the incipient nausea.
“I’m afraid it’s now afternoon, sir. Time for tea, in fact.”
“Is that so? Well, of course. Afternoon. Really?”
In the past, he’d been known to rise near noon or later, but the fact that he had been in the arms of Orpheus until well past four in the afternoon seemed to bring him to a state of confused melancholy.
“You know, Jeeves. I’ve been thinking…one can’t go on indefinitely as though, well, I mean…I’m not a mere stripling anymore and the days of midnight biscuit acquisition are barely a memory now. Given this situation…” he gestured around the room with a vaguely despairing wave. “Perhaps it’s time to take the pledge,” he announced with a final gulp.