Title: The Matter of Mr Wooster’s Headaches
Author: Sky Blue Reverie skyblue_reverie
Fandom: Jeeves and Wooster
Word Count: Approximately 9500
Summary: Bertie suffers from headaches and Jeeves makes a plan. That’s it, really.
Disclaimer: Not mine, and I promise not to ask for any money.
Author’s Notes: My first creative writing project in over ten years, and my first fanfic ever. Inspired by the lovely, gracious and talented veronamay’s J/W fics and discussions with her about Thank You, Jeeves. Beta’d by the fabulous lemmealone, weaselwoman13, and cicerothewriter - many thanks to you, darlings! Thanks also to leaper182 for positive feedback and encouragement.
Feedback: Yes, please, but it’s my first time, so be gentle.
Mr Wooster has written extensively about his adventures, and has been kind enough to include many of my actions and words in his memoirs. An observant reader will have noticed the depth of regard between Mr Wooster and myself; however, he has never explicitly discussed the exact nature of our relationship, due to the potentially catastrophic legal and social consequences associated with such a revelation. I have therefore taken it upon myself to describe how we came to our current understanding, although these pages can, of course, never be published.
Mr Wooster suffers from what the French term migraine, severe headaches which leave him quite debilitated. While I would never have wished such suffering upon my employer, I can only be grateful that his attacks led to the deeper understanding that I now share with Mr Wooster.
The first time I witnessed my employer so afflicted was on an occasion when he had received a call from Mrs Spenser Gregson, less than a year after I had entered his service.
I had just deposited his morning tea on the bedside table and drawn the curtains when I heard the door buzzer. Leaving him still asleep, I went to answer the door. After seating Mrs Gregson, I returned to his bedroom to inform him of his aunt’s arrival. He was still completely covered by his bedclothes, only a few tousled curls visible on his pillow. I ignored the unsettled feeling that this sight caused in my midsection, long used to suppressing such feelings in relation to Mr Wooster.
I cleared my throat and spoke up. 'Mrs Gregson is here to see you, sir.'
I heard a groan emitting from beneath the bedclothes. Then he peeked out, saying, 'I feel bally awful, Jeeves. Make her go away, would you?'
His face did look paler than usual, and he winced as the sunlight struck his face. I admit that I was somewhat puzzled, since he had not had a late evening, and if, after retiring for the evening, he had risen for a nightcap, I would have heard him. I am a light sleeper and am accustomed to waking when I hear him stirring in case he has any need of my services.
'Are you ill, sir?' I asked, reaching out to feel his forehead and feeling a slight frisson as I always did whenever we happened to touch. His skin, however, did not feel unduly warm.
'No, Jeeves, I’m not ill. I’ve just got one of my headaches. Please, please, make her go away. I’m not up to dealing with that old dragon just now.' He winced as he spoke, gazing at me rather pathetically.
'Very good, sir.' Although normally I would not have bowed to his wishes in this, since Mrs Gregson is apt to become rather more difficult when denied, in this instance I did believe that Mr Wooster was not feeling his usual self, and I desired to avert any unnecessary pain on his part.
I returned to the sitting room and informed Mrs Gregson that Mr Wooster was feeling ill and not capable of receiving visitors. I dealt firmly with her objections, intimating that he may be highly contagious and that I would regret if she were to take ill herself. After making several threats of dire consequences when he was recovered, she took her leave. I quickly returned to his bedside.
He had once again hidden his face beneath the bedcovers. I cleared my throat gently.
'Sir, may I get you anything? Perhaps one of my restorative preparations would be helpful? Or an aspirin?' I asked.
'No, Jeeves, I don’t want anything. I just want to be left alone. Close the curtains, would you?' his voice emerged, muffled.
'Very good, sir,' I replied, doing as he asked. I then withdrew, taking the untouched tea tray, with a final glance at the form beneath the blankets.
He stayed abed all day, and did not stir until after darkness had fallen. He found me in the kitchen, where I was ironing one of his shirts. He blinked as he entered the room, wincing slightly at the bright lighting. 'I say, Jeeves,' he said, 'you wouldn’t happen to have something round here for me to eat, would you? I know it’s past dinner, but I’m bally well starving.'
'Certainly, sir,' I said, setting aside the iron. 'Did you desire anything in particular?'
'Oh, any old thing,' he said. 'As long as it’s not dripping in primordial ooze, bung it down in front of the young master. I’m not particular.' He settled himself at the table.
As I prepared a light repast for Mr Wooster, I watched him somewhat curiously. He seemed largely restored to his usual manner, although he was perhaps still a touch subdued. As I was unwilling to ask directly about his earlier state of incapacitation, I decided to approach the matter indirectly.
'Mrs Gregson gave me to understand that she desires most strongly for you to lunch with her at your earliest convenience to discuss a matter of some import,' I said.
He winced again. 'Well, I suppose it’s got to be done. I’ll just leg round to her club tomorrow and get it over with, I suppose.'
Although not precisely a question, I heard the slight inflection at the end of his statement which indicated that he was asking my opinion.
'Yes, sir, I should say that ignoring Mrs Gregson’s summons would be most unwise,' I said. 'And as the bard said, "if it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly."'
'Yes, quite,' he said, looking somewhat confused. 'Did she say what she wanted?'
'Well, sir, I gathered from the general tenor of her comments that she considers you to be –ahem– a "sluggardly layabout," and further that she has some solution in mind for this perceived problem.'
'So just the usual, eh? Ah well, I’ll no doubt find out the specifics tomorrow. I suppose you’re wondering what all that was about, anyway,' he said. I inferred that he was referencing his recent malaise.
'It is not my place, sir,' I said.
'Yes, well, Jeeves, if you’re going to be with me for a while – I say, you are planning on being with me for a good long time, aren’t you?' he asked, peering up at me. I inclined my head.
'Well, good then. Anyway, as I say, as long as you’re going to be with me, you’re going to need to know about this. I get these headaches – have since I was just a little tyke. It’s a dashed nuisance. Puts me right out of commission for at least a day, sometimes more. Can’t hold down liquid or solid, can’t stand music – or any noise, for that matter, can’t chum around with any of the old pals at the Drones club. Even light seems designed to add to my suffering. The pain... well, it’s bad, Jeeves.' He trailed off with a slight shiver. 'Once I get one, there’s nothing to be done about it. Nothing seems to help.' His voice brightened a bit. 'Still, I only get them once in a blue moon, so it’s not too big of a cross to bear, what?'
As I set his meal in front of him, I considered his words. In my experience, most young gentlemen of his class would have been whining, wailing, and generally carrying on if they were to experience anything like what my employer was describing. Mr Wooster’s cheerfulness in the face of whatever circumstances he encountered was one of his finest traits, and one of the qualities that initially drew me to him.
As he ate his meal, I returned to my ironing, and we talked of inconsequential things until it was time to retire. Surprisingly, he indicated that he would have no trouble falling asleep, despite his having slept most of the day away.
As I lay in my own bed, I thought of Mr Wooster, as had become my habit of an evening. While normally my thoughts were of a very different tenor, tonight I thought about his headaches. I hoped they did not indicate some serious underlying ailment, but considered that possibility remote since he had been suffering from this condition since childhood. I resolved to conduct my own research to see if any way of alleviating his suffering could be found. With these thoughts in mind, I drifted off to sleep.
In the following weeks, I obtained several medical journals and academic papers which dealt with the subject of the migraine. It seemed that medical science could not explain what caused them, although it had been a well documented phenomenon since it was first described by Arataeus of Cappadocia in the second century. Traditional medical remedies apparently included bloodletting, the application of hot irons, or insertion of garlic into an incision in the temple. Needless to say, I was not about to subject Mr Wooster to any of these barbaric treatments. I decided that I would have to conduct my own experiments to see if I could find anything that would ease his suffering.
My next opportunity came several months later. He had just escaped an engagement to Miss Madeline Bassett; in celebration of the event, when we returned to London I prepared for Mr Wooster’s luncheon a dish called côtelette-suprème-aux-choux-fleurs. I had convinced Anatole to part with the recipe after observing how much my employer enjoyed the dish during our last stay at Brinkley Court. After he ate he sat at the piano and played 'Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors.' When he was finished with the song I noticed a tightness around his eyes and inquired whether he was feeling well. 'Never better, Jeeves,' he said resolutely, and continued playing.
I was skeptical of his claim, and watched him carefully while ostensibly tidying up the flat. I suspected that he was in the initial stages of one of his attacks, and I was soon proved correct. When his headache came on it caused him to be quite sick to his stomach, and he barely made it to the toilet before expelling his recently consumed luncheon. I hovered in the background, not wanting to leave him alone, but unsure whether he would want me to witness his humiliation. I withdrew momentarily to the kitchen, where I poured a glass of water for him, before returning to the bathroom. Finally he finished and I handed him the glass of water, with which he rinsed his mouth before handing it back to me.
'I say, Jeeves, I’m awfully sorry about all this, after all that time you spent slaving away in the kitchen,' he said.
'There is no need to apologize, sir,' I said firmly.
He nodded, but this motion caused him immediate regret, and he clapped his hands to his temples in pain. 'I’ve often wondered if something in particular causes these bally things. I’ve tried to puzzle it out, but never can seem to find a common link. I’m sure Sir Roderick Glossop would say it’s a natural result of having too few marbles rattling around in the cavernous space inside this old bean of mine.'
I rewarded his comment with a small upward quirk at the corner of my mouth; even when he was feeling his lowest, he always found humour in a situation, often at his own expense.
I cleared my throat. 'If I may make a suggestion, sir,' I said. He waved for me to continue. 'When I was young my mother occasionally suffered from headaches. Not as severe as yours, but still quite painful,' I began. He interrupted me.
'I find it hard to picture you having a mother, Jeeves,' he said. 'I mean, I always sort of fancied that you sprang fully formed from Zeus’s head like that Greek chap.'
'I believe that you are referring to the goddess Athena, sir,' I said disapprovingly. 'And I did not spring fully formed from anybody’s head. I came into being in the usual way.' I returned to the point. 'As I was saying, when my mother suffered a headache, she swore by a warm bath and a cold compress for the forehead. If you would like to try this remedy, I would be happy to prepare these items for you, sir,' I said.
'Right-ho, Jeeves,' he said dully. 'Couldn’t hurt, what?'
I ran Mr Wooster a bath and prepared a cold compress by filling a hot water bottle with ice, then wrapping the whole affair in a tea-towel. When I returned to the bathroom I found him reclining in the water and gave him the compress.
After perhaps a quarter of an hour, he exited the bathroom and retired to his bedroom. I entered cautiously, finding that he had donned the pyjamas that I had laid out while he was in the bath. 'Are you feeling any better, sir?' I asked.
'Moderately, Jeeves, moderately,' he said, though I could see he was still in pain. 'I think I shall just get in bed and sleep it off.'
'Very good, sir,' I said, and withdrew.
I considered my experiment a partial success – the warm bath and cold compress had helped, but I believed that other measures could also be brought to bear.
Around six months later, Mr Wooster again woke with a migraine. As before, I readied a warm bath and cold compress for him; after he had availed himself of these he returned to bed. I entered his room and approached the bed.
'If I may, sir, I would like to try a further experiment,' I said.
'Yes, Jeeves, what is it?' he asked.
'Well, sir, if you will just lie still, I will attempt to soothe some of the tension by application of my fingers to the affected area,' I said.
'Rub the pain away, eh? Well, give it a try,' he said.
I leaned over him and lay the tips of my fingers just at his temples. I applied gentle pressure in a small circular motion. He seemed to find this agreeable and let out a small sigh.
'I say, Jeeves, that feels jolly good,' he said.
'I’m glad to hear it, sir,' I replied. I continued this for some time, moving my fingers to the top of his scalp, then the back of his head, his forehead, and the nape of his neck, before returning to his temples.
He sighed. 'I feel just like a child being cared for by the tender hand of his mother, if you don’t mind my saying so,' he said. I paused for a moment and withdrew my fingers.
While I accepted these words without an outward qualm, inwardly I felt a measure of disappointment. This was not the first time that he had compared our relationship to that of a parent and child or other familial relations. While it is true that my efforts were always directed at securing Mr Wooster’s safety and comfort, it is also the case that my feelings for my employer have never been those of a parent for a child. However, if he wished to frame my tenderness to him in those terms, I could not correct his misapprehension.
I slipped my fingers back into his hair, resuming my gentle stroking along his temples. He moaned softly, and I faltered. Forcing myself to relax, I continued my ministrations. Within minutes, his breathing had deepened and he was lost to sleep.
I regarded his peacefully sleeping form for a few moments, then silently withdrew.
I spent some time that evening in contemplation. It was clear to me that Mr Wooster felt a strong affection for me, certainly beyond that of an ordinary regard for one’s gentleman’s personal gentleman. As for myself, I had been certain of my own feelings for Mr Wooster since practically my first day in his employ. It seemed to me, however, that he was not aware of the depth of his affection for me, or at least did not view it in a romantic light. Although I had previously been willing to remain in his service while concealing my tendre from his knowledge, that no longer seemed adequate. I believed that he did love me, or could come to love me; he just needed to be made aware of the fact. In this, as in so many facets of his life, Mr Wooster would require my guidance. I began to form my plans.
The first step in my plan was to accustom Mr Wooster to increased physical contact with me. To this end, I began to introduce small touches into our daily routine. I allowed our fingers to brush when I handed him his walking stick; I found excuses to touch his person in the guise of adjusting his clothing or removing lint from his jacket. When we talked, I stood slightly closer to him than I previously had. When we walked, I caused our shoulders to brush. He accepted these changes without comment or hesitation. I felt some optimism; at least he did not find me physically repulsive. Thus encouraged, I increased the physical closeness between us further: previously I had prepared his shaving things, but he had shaved himself. I now offered to shave him, and he accepted this service with equanimity. I began to attend him in the bath, handing him his towel as he rose from the tub, and taking it from him when he had toweled himself dry. At first he seemed somewhat self-conscious of his nudity, but I was careful to keep any touches purely professional and not to let my glances linger, and he soon accepted this new level of intimacy as well. I will confess that the result of my efforts was to fuel my own fantasies; the new level of closeness between us was both a delight and a torment to me.
The next stage in my plan was to encourage him to recognize how close our relationship was and how much he depended on me. Here, his natural amiability and kindness assisted me. I began to initiate conversations with my employer on subjects beyond the usual superficial chatter over the weather or the latest romantic exploits of Mr Little. I discussed with him books I was reading, and asked him about films he had seen at the cinema. I subtly encouraged him to stay at home more often in the evening, rather than going to the Drones club or out on the town. I did not want to cut him off from his other pursuits completely – indeed, I considered it healthy for both of us to have outside interests, but I considered that he had been spending somewhat too much time on frivolity and dissipation. Here, again, he seemed quite willing to follow my lead.
It hardly needs to be said that I dealt quickly and decisively with any potential matrimonial entanglements which threatened Mr Wooster. While in other circumstances I may have felt some shame at such actions, motivated as they were by a feeling of jealous possessiveness, on each such occasion he assured me in all sincerity that he was grateful to be free of the engagement in question. I therefore felt justified in continuing to ensure that Mr Wooster remained one of Nature’s bachelors.
In short, everything was proceeding exactly according to plan and I was feeling pleased. Although there was no sign of Mr Wooster feeling a romantic sentiment for me, at least I was certain that he was beginning to view me as his most trusted friend, in addition to his employee.
It was at this point that he suffered another of his headaches. This headache had come on in the afternoon after what I understood was a particularly exuberant birthday celebration for Mr Prosser at the Drones club. Mr Wooster came home that evening rubbing his temples, and wincing at the light in the flat. Upon seeing this, I began running a warm bath and went into the kitchen to ready a cold compress for him. As I was doing the latter, I heard violent retching noises emanating from the bathroom. I had anticipated that this might occur, so I quickly finished preparing the compress and brought it into the bathroom along with a glass of water. I made so bold as to stroke his hair as he hunched over the toilet and waited for the heaving of his stomach to pass. When there was nothing left to come up, I gave him the glass of water and he rinsed his mouth. No words were exchanged, and none were needed.
I helped him remove his clothing and get into the bathtub, giving him the cold compress and extinguishing the light. I then withdrew to let him relax in solitude.
While he was in the bath, I contemplated my next move. I had been told by a doctor of my acquaintance that pain in the head could be caused or worsened by tension in the body, particularly in the back and neck. It seemed logical, then, that a massage of these areas might act to relieve headache pain, or at least lessen it. My larger plan would certainly be furthered if I were in the position of giving Mr Wooster a massage. There may be some who would suggest that I should have felt guilt for using his suffering for my own (some would say) nefarious ends. But I have never been one to hesitate when I could cause things to fall out in a way that was beneficial to myself or to Mr Wooster – and when one action could benefit both of us, I saw no reason to refrain. Thus resolved, I went to assist him out of the bathtub and to his bedroom.
As he toweled himself dry, I laid out his pyjama bottoms, but left the pyjama top in his wardrobe. He looked at me askance but said nothing. I cleared my throat. 'I have been told, sir, that a massage of the back often relieves headache pain. With your permission, I would like to try it.' He nodded, looking exhausted. I took the now-damp towel from him and exited the room.
I had purchased a small bottle of oil for this purpose; I retrieved it from my bedroom while he made himself ready. When I returned to his room, he had donned the pyjama bottoms and was lying on his stomach under the bedcovers.
His back was broad and smooth, tapering to a narrow waist. His skin was fair and unblemished. I had, of course, previously seen Mr Wooster’s back in the course of my duties, but never like this – with him splayed out in bed, waiting for my touch. I ruthlessly derailed that train of thought, forcing myself to view this as nothing more than a professional service. I knelt on the bed next to him, coating my fingers and palms with oil and rubbing my hands together to warm it. I began a brisk massage of his back and shoulders, digging firmly into his muscles and sinews. He was silent beneath me, his eyes closed, a grimace of pain on his face.
Although he was tense and silent with pain, my touch gradually began to have an effect. His face lost some of its grimace; his muscles relaxed underneath my fingers. He began to make small breathy noises which I resolutely ignored. I continued the massage until my hands and arms were threatening to cramp up. As soon as I stopped, his eyes opened and the pain returned to his face. 'Please don’t stop,' he said.
Although this extended massage was causing me some amount of pain, I was happy to endure this minor discomfort to relieve his suffering. 'Just one moment, sir, and I will continue,' I said. After a moment of rest, I returned my hands to his back and resumed stroking over his skin, with slightly less pressure this time. How much time passed like this I could not say; I entered almost a trance-like state, my world narrowed to the feeling of Mr Wooster’s body under my hands, the sight of his face, which had once again relaxed, and the sound of his breathing.
Eventually, gradually, his breathing evened out and slowed. I permitted my strokes upon his back to slow down as well, until my hands were still upon him. I allowed myself one moment more to bask in the sense of peace and comfort in the room, then let out a quiet breath. I made to leave, believing him to be asleep, when I was surprised to feel his hand upon my wrist.
'Stay, Jeeves,' he whispered. I opened my mouth to demur, and he added, 'Please.'
I divined that he wished me to sleep beside him; I found myself powerless to deny him.
'Very well, sir,' I said. 'I shall return directly.' He opened one eye a slight crack, regarded my face, and then, seemingly satisfied by whatever he saw there, closed his eye again and gave a slight nod. He withdrew his hand from my wrist and I stood.
I went to my own bedroom, my thoughts in a whirl, all feelings of serenity fled. It had long been one of my dearest held fantasies to sleep next to Mr Wooster in his bed, but not like this, with him regarding me as no more than his nursemaid. Nevertheless, I was not going to turn down the opportunity, but neither was I willing to humiliate myself. Just thinking about sleeping the night in such proximity to my employer had caused a by-now-familiar arousal; I knew that I could not hide this reaction from him in such close quarters. I also knew that he would be expecting me back momentarily. Closing my door, I quickly unfastened my trousers and took myself in my hand. Recalling the feeling of his skin, his firm back and slim waist under my hands, the feel of his fingers on my wrist, combined with the knowledge that I would soon be sleeping in his bed, caused a reaction in myself that was nearly violent in its ferocity. With only a few strokes of my hand, I climaxed with a sharp intake of breath, spilling into a handkerchief. After catching my breath for a few moments, I buttoned up my trousers, folded the handkerchief and deposited it into my clothes hamper. I contemplated for a moment whether to change into my sleeping attire, but discarded the notion immediately. Instead, I removed my shoes and socks, removed and folded my waistcoat, and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. This done, I returned to Mr Wooster’s bedroom.
He was in the same position I had left him, on his stomach, with his head resting sideways on the pillow, face toward the side of the bed where I had been kneeling. I could tell from his breathing that he was not yet asleep. As I rounded the bed, I noticed that his eyes, though still clouded with pain, were open and following my movements. I slid into bed next to him and lay there somewhat awkwardly. After a moment, he whispered, 'Jeeves, would you mind awfully rubbing my back just a little more? Don’t sit up or anything, just, it helps, you know.' He trailed off. I rolled to face him, our eyes meeting. My heart was beating so loudly that I thought that he must be able to hear it.
'Certainly, sir,' I whispered hoarsely. He smiled slightly and allowed his eyes to drift closed. I reached out tentatively with one hand and slid it along his back. I tried to convince myself that this was just another impersonal touch, just a massage to relieve Mr Wooster’s headache. It felt like a lover’s caress. His skin was silk beneath my fingers, his flesh supple and resilient. He let out a breathy moan which was nearly my undoing. My hand froze for a moment before resuming its motion. This was torture but I could not wish for it to end, though I knew that it might mean my ruination. Just as I felt the last shreds of my self-control slipping from me, his breathing finally began the familiar cadence that signaled his slumber. I reluctantly withdrew my hand and gazed at him unblinking, convinced that I would never fall asleep.
I awoke suddenly the next morning, my mind still whirling with the events of the evening before. Sometime in the night, I had shifted onto my back and Mr Wooster was sprawled out, his leg over mine, his head resting on my shoulder. One of my arms was underneath his neck and shoulders, curled around his back, and the other was resting on the arm which was currently flung over my torso. I had overslept most dreadfully – I could tell from the quality of the light filtering in through the drapes that it was nearly midmorning.
As I was contemplating my position relative to Mr Wooster and how to best extricate myself without disturbing him, I felt him stirring. 'Morning, Jeeves,' he said. 'This is cosy, what?'
'Yes, sir,' I replied. I prayed that he did not move – if his leg were a fraction higher, or his arm a fraction lower, he could not mistake what he would find.
'Rather like being a tot again, don’t you know,' he said. 'When my sister had a nightmare, she would oftentimes climb into bed with old Bertie and cuddle up so that I could stave off the imaginary monster or two. You do somehow remind me of her, you know.'
This comparison caused me a brief moment of speechlessness. I inspected his face, which held only innocent sincerity. 'You seem to be feeling better, sir,' I finally managed, refraining from pointing out that he was the one cuddled up to me, and not the other way around. 'If you would allow me, sir,' I indicated his person, sprawled across my own body, 'I will rise and bring you your morning tea.'
'Oh, rather!' he said. 'Yes, I feel quite restored, thank you, Jeeves.' He moved himself off of me, thankfully without brushing against the lower portions of my anatomy, and I rose and exited quickly.
This incident caused me no little distress. It seemed to me that despite my best efforts, Mr Wooster was not coming to the epiphany that I had hoped to evoke. If anything, he seemed even more apt to take me for granted, accepting the increased physical intimacy of our situation without looking any deeper. I have mentioned above that one of his finer characteristics is his ability to accept all situations that come his way with cheer and optimism. The other side of this coin is that Mr Wooster tends not to probe the wherefores and whys of any situation, but merely to accept without question, without thought. It is not that he was ungrateful for my services – indeed, he was always unstinting in his praise, and generous with monetary compensation. But he could not, or would not, ask himself why I chose to bestow upon him my services when I could have taken a position nearly anywhere that I wished, or why I chose to go above and beyond the call of duty in my services to him, for example, in sleeping in his bed, a service not normally expected of a gentleman’s personal gentleman.
I am not insensible to Mr Wooster’s many fine qualities. Indeed, I appreciate them greatly. However, he does have some compensating weaknesses, one of which is his complete and utter lack of any understanding of the psychology of the individual. In this case the individual was me, and I came to the conclusion that Mr Wooster, should matters continue as they had been, would never think of me as anything other than his valet and friend. I needed to shake up his complacency. Stronger measures were called for.
Accordingly, at the next available opportunity, I contrived an excuse to leave his service. The reason itself was unimportant (it was some trifling disagreement over a musical instrument which I could have resolved easily enough) – the important thing was that it would force him to face what his life would be like without me. I did not intend for the separation to be permanent, and I wanted to be able to monitor his mental state. I therefore took a position with his friend Lord Chuffnell.
As to the events at Chuffnell Hall, I will say that I regret now that my frustration with Mr Wooster led me to be less concerned with his physical safety than I should have been. As a result, he suffered some amount of peril. When he came to me at the back door of Chuffnell Hall, having just escaped from Brinkley’s drunken attack, I was sorely tempted to abandon my coolness towards him and step in to resolve the situation immediately. I knew, though, that such a solution would only be temporary, and would result in a return to our former state of affairs. I forced myself to hold firm.
By the next morning, however, when it became clear that he would be forced to allow himself to be arrested and brought up in court, even if only in front of his friend, I could no longer bear to be apart from him. This demonstration of Mr Wooster’s generous and compassionate spirit shamed me. After all matters at Chuffnell Regis had been brought to a successful conclusion, I approached him and arranged to return to his service. During this conversation, I searched his countenance for any sign that his feelings toward me had changed. I saw nothing in his eyes but simple pleasure and relief at having his valet and friend back by his side. I despaired of ever changing the situation and decided, for the time being, to accept the status quo.
Although I returned to Mr Wooster's service believing my plans had failed, over the subsequent few weeks I began to question this conclusion. His eyes followed me closely as I moved about the flat, and he was unusually quiet and subdued. I caught him lost in reverie on a couple of occasions, staring into space and flushing guiltily when I cleared my throat to gain his attention. I believed that he was thinking about me, and perhaps was realizing the extent of his attachment to me. Nevertheless, I made no overt move to change our relationship. Mr Wooster needed to come to his own conclusions and decisions about his feelings. I did, however, try in myriad small ways to show him that I valued his company, praising his efforts at the piano (he had taken to playing slower, more melancholy songs of late rather than his usual Drones club fare), taking extra pains in dressing him, and preparing his favourite foods for him when he dined at home.
Approximately one month after my return to his service, the matter came to a head. He had finished dinner and was sitting on the sofa, lost in thought. I was tidying up the room when he suddenly spoke. 'I say, Jeeves, I think I’m getting one of my headaches.' His face was flushed and he did not meet my eyes.
'Indeed, sir?' I queried blandly. Mr Wooster has never been proficient at deception, and to me, especially, he had always been an open book. Indeed, his honesty and openness were among the qualities I most prized in him. He must have been in desperate straits to attempt such a subterfuge.
'Yes, rather. I think... I think it would help if you gave me oneofyourbackrubs.' He rushed the last few words, and the colour in his cheeks became even more pronounced.
'I’m sorry, but I didn’t quite understand you, sir,' I said. I had heard him quite clearly, of course, but I needed a few seconds to decide how to proceed. My relationship with my employer was too important to risk lightly. I was not certain if he was seeking mere comfort in the touch of someone he viewed as a parental figure, if he felt only lust for me and was seeking an uncomplicated carnal relationship, or if he – finally – was viewing me in the same light that I viewed him.
'I said, I think one of your backrubs would be just the ticket. For my headache, that is,' he said, still not meeting my eyes.
I moved in front of Mr Wooster and gently took his chin in my hand, tipping his face upward, forcing him to meet my gaze. I then slipped my fingers into the hair at his temples and began a gentle rubbing motion. His pupils dilated instantly and he drew a shaky breath. Well. That answered part of the question, in any event. His reaction was not that of a child to a parent’s touch. Nevertheless, there still remained the question of whether he viewed me merely with lust or... something more. I cleared my throat.
'If I may say so, sir, this does not seem to follow the usual pattern of one of your migraine headaches. You recently ate a large meal and yet you seem to be suffering no stomach upset, and the light in the room does not seem to be causing you undue distress. Perhaps, sir, what you perceive as a headache is merely the side effect of having some weighty matter on your mind. You will forgive me, sir, if I observe that you seem unusually distracted of late.'
As I spoke, I continued stroking his temples. His eyes fluttered closed, and he expelled a quiet breath. 'Perhaps, Jeeves, perhaps. I have found myself in rather a pickle lately,' he said.
'Sir, if you would share your dilemma with me, I will endeavor to assist you in any way I can,' I said. I allowed my fingers to wander a bit further, stroking through his hair.
He gave another small sigh. 'Yes, Jeeves, well, there’s the rub, as the chap said. The matter rather relates to you, in fact. As such, I don’t know whether it would be quite the thing for me to look to you for guidance.'
'I promise you, I will do everything in my power to help you, no matter what the subject of your disquiet, if you will confide in me, sir,' I said. I gave his scalp one last caress and stepped back. This last step he would have to take alone, without any influence from me.
His eyes slowly reopened. 'Well, the thing is, you... That is to say, I...' he trailed off helplessly. His cheeks, which had regained their usual hue in the prior few moments, once more bloomed with hectic spots of colour.
'Yes, sir?' I prompted.
He seemed to be in the grip of some monumental internal struggle. After a moment, he seemed to reach some kind of decision. He drew a deep breath and said, 'I – I love you, Jeeves.'
Inwardly I trembled, but I kept my voice calm as I said, 'Yes, sir, you have often compared me to a mother, a sister, or a kindly uncle.' I must admit I took some amount of petty satisfaction in reminding him of these comparisons, even as I allowed myself to hope that he no longer viewed his affection in those terms.
He flushed unhappily and said, 'Well, yes, dash it. But – that’s not what I mean. I mean to say – I feel for you… well, rather as Madeline Bassett feels for old Gussie Fink-Nottle. All... gooey, and sappy, and whatnot.'
If it was not the flowery and sweeping declaration of love that one reads in the works of Rosie M. Banks, it was nevertheless a heartfelt sentiment.
Finally allowing myself to believe that I would be able to express my long-concealed feelings to my employer, I recalled an appropriate quote from one of my favourite poets, and began, 'I am minded of the poet Burns, sir, when he wrote – '
'Stuff the poet Burns,' he interrupted. 'What I want to know is, well, I suppose it’s too much to hope that you feel the same way, but you’re not going to leave me now, are you?' He peered up at me fearfully, still flushed. His lip was trembling slightly, and I could not draw out his torment any longer.
'I must correct a slight misapprehension on your part, sir,' I said.
'What’s that, Jeeves?' he asked.
'I do, in fact, return your sentiments. Most ardently, sir.'
'You – you do? That is, you mean to say that you..." He trailed off and looked at me with his guileless blue eyes, seeming to believe that it was impossible that I should requite his feelings. I hastened to reassure him.
'Yes, sir,' I said. 'I love you.'
With this, I stepped forward, taking his hand and drawing him to his feet. I knew that, despite our mutual confession, Mr Wooster would not be able to initiate any further intimacy. Nevertheless, I was quietly elated that he had been able to take the first step on his own. It was enough. From here, I could take the lead.
I enfolded him in my arms. As I looked down at him, I noted distantly that his eyes had never seemed more startlingly blue. As I lowered my face to his, his eyelids drifted closed, but I could not make myself look away. I kissed him gently, tenderly, telling him without words how deep my feelings ran. His hands, which had been lightly resting on my chest, clutched at my lapels. I deepened the kiss, encouraging his mouth to open against my own and deliberately beginning a gentle exploration with my tongue. After a few moments, I gently pulled back and regarded his face, still holding him in my arms. He seemed quite overcome. 'Jeeves...' he said quietly, eyes still closed.
'If you will allow me, sir,' I said, steering him towards the bedroom. He walked in a seeming daze for the few steps that it took to reach his room. Once there, I gently removed his bow tie and unbuttoned his waistcoat. He assisted me in undressing him by obediently lifting his limbs as I removed his clothing, but he made no other moves. His eyes never left my face. Soon he was standing before me, quite naked, his arousal prominent and flushed. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
The intensity of my regard must have unnerved him slightly, because he moved his gaze away from me and began to shift nervously from foot to foot. I stepped forward and kissed him again, burying one hand in his hair and wrapping the other arm around his back. He clutched at my waist as if he were drowning. This caused me to redouble my attentions to his mouth, before moving on to kiss his forehead, cheeks, jaw, and neck. I concentrated my efforts on his throat for some time while he emitted a series of beautiful gasps, moans, and sighs. I noted that his knees seemed about to buckle, so I gently laid him on the bed, stepping back to view him, naked and wanton, tremors randomly shooting through his muscles.
I could no longer wait. This time it was Mr Wooster’s turn to watch me intently as I disrobed. I made quick work of my clothing, folding it hastily and setting it aside.
'I say, Jeeves,' he said somewhat breathily. 'Those fishing trips did you good. Your physique... well, it’s absolutely corking. Rather puts the old Wooster frame to shame.' I felt his gaze on me almost as a physical touch, and shivered in response.
'Sir, your form, while of a leaner and more sinewy type than my own, is nevertheless extremely appealing,' I said warmly, moving to the bed and leaning over him.
After another lingering kiss, I began to work my way down his body, caressing his chest and stomach with my fingers and tongue. I catalogued each sigh, giggle, squirm, moan, and gasp for future reference as I conducted the exploration of Mr Wooster’s body which I had been hoping for so long to be permitted. I trailed kisses along each of his hipbones as I stroked his thighs with my hands. I worked my way down his long legs with kisses and caresses, planting a small kiss on the sole of each of his feet before working my way back up his legs. By the time I was done with this, his legs were trembling violently and his hips were bucking minutely. I placed a kiss in the hollow between his hip and the thatch of dark curls, inhaling his musky aroma. I looked up and met his eyes steadily. 'May I, sir?' I asked.
He looked at me, his blue eyes darker than I had ever seen them, his mouth open and breath rasping between his lips. He licked his lips and managed, 'Yes, Jeeves, please.'
Kneeling between his legs, I first grasped Mr Wooster’s hardness in my hand and stroked it gently from root to tip. He gasped and his hips jerked. Soothing him by placing one hand on his hip, I used the other to continue my attentions to his erection, varying my pressure and speed and noting his reactions. When he had become accustomed to this sensation, rocking his hips in counterpoint to my strokes, I leaned over and ran my tongue over the head of his erection, collecting the drops of moisture that had gathered there. He let out a startled cry and his body bowed upward, which had the effect of driving his length into my mouth. I opened my mouth further and let him in, feeling him at the back of my throat. It had been some years since I had done this, but the memory returned to me now as I swallowed around the length in my mouth and throat. His cries were almost constant now, and mounting in desperation, but they came to me as though from some great distance, enraptured as I was with the sensations overwhelming me, the taste and feel of Mr Wooster’s hardness in my mouth. I grazed my fingers over his scrotum, and then moved my fingers beyond, exploring until my index finger reached the tight ring of muscle between his buttocks. I inserted the merest tip of my finger, and this proved his undoing. He gave a final cry and jerked under me, releasing his warm seed into my mouth in a series of bursts. I swallowed the slightly bitter substance, holding him in my mouth as he softened and licking him clean as his movement gradually stilled.
When his breathing had almost returned to normal, I leaned once more over him, kissing him deeply and allowing him to taste himself in my mouth. I then lay on my side next to him, waiting for him to recover fully. While my own arousal was becoming urgent at this point, I was content to wait until he had recovered his faculties.
After a few moments, he turned to me. I had anticipated that Mr Wooster’s prior amatory experiences may not have been extensive, and I had no wish to make any demands on him which would cause him to feel uncomfortable or inadequate. As he looked at me, I could read the uncertainty in his eyes, the fear that he would disappoint me. I could not allow this, our first experience, to bring him anything other than joy. I slipped my arm underneath his shoulders and drew him to me, so that we were lying on our sides facing each other, his face buried in my neck. I guided his hand down to my own erection, gently closing his fingers over my length and covering his hand with my own. I moved our hands together, stroking firmly up and down my length. He quickly caught on and increased the strength of his grip upon me. I groaned, and he began kissing and sucking at my neck. With my hand on his, I urged him to increase his speed, which he did. I let my own hand fall away from his, and moved it instead to his shoulder, where I could feel his muscles working as he stroked me. Between the tenderness we had shared as we confessed our feelings, the remembrance of his utter abandon and responsiveness as I pleasured him, and the sensation of his hand upon my length, I was more aroused than I had ever been in my life. It took only a few moments until I spilled myself between us with a final groan.
I tipped his face up to mine and kissed him again. I could not get enough of the taste of his mouth. 'Thank you, sir,' I finally said when I had pulled away from his lips.
'Think nothing of it,' he said modestly, though he looked pleased. We lay together, enjoying our nearness, exchanging kisses and caresses, and a few words. Eventually his eyelids grew heavy and he drifted to sleep, a small smile upon his face. I regarded him for some time, not wanting to move despite the sticky wetness beneath my hip – Mr Wooster had somehow contrived to sleep on the dry portion of the sheets. Eventually I felt sleep overcoming me as well, and I placed one more small kiss on the top of his head before moving off of the damp spot on the sheet and closing my own eyes.
The following morning, I woke later than my usual habit, no doubt due to the unaccustomed exertions of the previous night. Nevertheless, it was still some time before Mr Wooster’s customary waking hour. As on the previous occasion that I had slept beside him, we had become entwined during the night, his head again resting on my shoulder.
Although I considered rising to begin my morning chores, I could not bring myself to leave Mr Wooster alone in bed, to wake without me by his side. I also admit to feeling some trepidation about his reaction to the change in our relations when he was faced, as it were, with the cold light of day. For some time I merely watched him sleep, lulled by the gentle motion of his breathing, and I stroked my hand down his side.
He woke slowly, stirring slightly before gradually opening his eyes. I watched the dawning realization of where he was, where I was, and our state of undress. As I saw the memory of our evening’s activities come back to him, I braced myself to see regrets or rejection in his eyes. I saw none. Instead, he smiled brightly. 'What ho, Jeeves,' he said. 'Glorious morning, what?'
I relaxed. 'Indeed, sir,' I said, allowing myself a small smile in return. This caused him to brighten even further.
'I say, I feel rather wonderful. I say, I suppose you... feel the same? That is to say, no regrets and all that?'
'Certainly not, sir,' I said, leaning in for a kiss to reassure him – and myself – that the change in our relationship had not been a one-time aberration.
After a few moments, I pulled back. 'I should rise, sir, and prepare your tea,' I said.
'It seems awfully unfair, Jeeves, that you should have to biff off and get the tea for us all the time. Can’t I do it some of the time?'
Inwardly I shuddered. The idea of Mr Wooster attempting to make the morning Darjeeling did not bear contemplation. 'No, sir, I’m afraid I must insist. It is my duty and pleasure to serve you,' I said.
He was not so easily deterred. 'But Jeeves, if you were my wife I wouldn’t expect you to be constantly running and fetching things.' This seemed to cause another thought to occur to him. 'I say, Jeeves, why don’t they allow two chaps to get married? Or two women, either, for that matter?'
'I could not say, sir. Social prejudice is a curious thing,' I said.
'Quite; well. You do know, I suppose, Jeeves, that I’d marry you if I could?'
'Thank you, sir,' I said simply, allowing the warmth I felt to reach my eyes.
He smiled at the sight. 'Well, I suppose we could have... a gentleman’s agreement, anyway, couldn’t we, Jeeves?'
I allowed that we could, and he sat up, disentangling himself from me. I followed suit, curious to see what he had in mind.
He cleared his throat self-consciously. 'Well, then. I, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster, hereby vow that I take you, Jeeves, to be my lifelong... wedded... thingummy...' he faltered, but quickly picked up speed again. 'In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, etc., etc., and forsaking all others, for as long as we both shall live.' Here he paused for breath. 'Do you agree to the same terms, Jeeves?'
'I do, sir,' I said without hesitation.
'Well, then, let’s shake on it,' he said, and offered me his hand. I shook it, and he smiled radiantly. The sight quite took my breath away, and I leaned in for a kiss.
'Er, I’ve never really done one of these wedding things before,' he said when we had separated. 'Not that several girls haven’t got me awfully close to the old leg shackles,' he said with a shudder. This seemed to distract him momentarily. 'I say, Jeeves, what do I do about all those dreadful females who constantly want to marry me? I mean, I’m spoken for already, but I can’t quite tell them that, now can I?'
'I shouldn’t worry, sir,' I said. 'I would not allow any such entanglements to become permanent.'
'Well, that’s a relief,' he said. 'I shall leave it entirely in your hands, Jeeves. No female stands a chance against you.'
Thank you, sir,' I said.
'Anyway, what I was going to say is that, having not done this before, well, what comes next? I mean, I suppose we should do something to mark the occasion, what?'
'Well, sir, the next step traditionally would be to consummate the union; the consummation would then be followed by a honeymoon.'
'Well, we’ve already done the consummation part – a bit out of order, I suppose, but – '
I cleared my throat. 'I’m sorry to disagree with you sir, but technically, the union has not yet been fully consummated.'
He looked intrigued. 'Well, you’ll have to show me this consummation thingy, then. But what about the honeymoon? A trip of some sort, I suppose. I believe a cruise is traditional. Any preferences, Jeeves?'
'Well, sir, an acquaintance of mine, a friend of my sister’s, owns a secluded cottage, which is currently unoccupied, situated in a remote part of Yorkshire.'
'But Jeeves,' he said, 'We don’t know anybody there. And there’s no chance of even running into any old chums; they’d never go to those parts. Aunt Agatha, for instance, would never be caught dead in Yorkshire.'
'Exactly, sir,' I said.
'Oh, well, rather,' he said, catching on to my meaning. He seemed to think of another objection. 'But, Jeeves,' he said, 'it will be most dreadfully boring. There will be nothing to do at all, the weather will be frightful, and we’ll be forced to spend all day and night indoors!' He delivered this prediction with an air of having caught me in a mental lapse.
'Precisely, sir,' I said, raising my eyebrow a trifle and allowing my gaze to become heated. He coloured becomingly.
'Right-ho, then, Jeeves. You seem to have thought of everything. I’ll leave it in your hands to arrange it with all expediency, then.'
'Very good, sir,' I said. 'I shall do so directly. Would you like your tea now?' I asked, beginning to rise.
He stopped me with a hand on my arm. 'Well, I didn’t mean for you to make the arrangements this very moment,' he said. 'And stuff the tea. Tea can wait.'
'Very good, sir,' I said.
'I mean to say, I was hoping you could show me this consummation whatsit that you had in mind,' he said, his eyes glimmering with interest.
'Very good, sir,' I said again.
Without going into unnecessary detail, I will report that our union was then consummated with great enthusiasm, and that it was quite some time before either of us got any tea.
On to the sequel...