The Way Dolittle Does It by Brigantine

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Story notes: The Novice Chronicles series: Ian Finds a Man, The Way Dolittle Does It, Kneeling 'or Not, Beneath the Skin, Statuesque, Some Kind of Understanding, Soft boiled, From Push to Shove, Hooligan, Hardware, And the Grail as Well, Terms of Use, Rearranged, How Everything Is, The Ancient Art of Arranging Flowers.
<strong>Late June</strong>

<strong>Saturday morning 11:16</strong>

Viggo's modest home is on the outskirts of Summerville. More commonly known as The Warrens, Summerville rubs directly up against the campus of Cal. State Saint Arquette, and as a consequence an impaction of university students makes it the highest density population for a hundred miles. Viggo's small house isn't difficult for Dave to find, in spite of the haphazard layout of the area. Viggo's is one of the few front yards without a student passed out on the lawn, empty Budweiser cans scattered over it like aluminum confetti, and a set of patio furniture in need of mercy killing.

"This is Blinky." Viggo points to a pretty red and brown snake. "Corn snake. Got her from a student of mine who graduated a couple of years ago and decided against bringing her home to his mom."

"How do you know she's a she?" Dave studies the man sidelong. Tall. Lean, but strong, he reckons.

"She had babies two weeks after I got her." Viggo's smile is benignly manic, his demeanor more cowpoke than professor. "Little buggers are amazingly self-sufficient."

Dave peers carefully into Blinky's glass-bound boudoir. "Er, what happened to her babies? She didn't eat them did she?"

"No. When they got a little bigger I sold 'em to that pet shop on Monroe."

"That's a nice place. I get Gerald's things there."

"Gerald?" Viggo pushes dark blond hair back from his eyes. His haircut reminds Dave of the Sundance Kid, and it suits him.

"My guinea pig." Ignoring the chuckle next to him, Dave crouches to get a better look at the small tortoise nudging its way through a layer of wood chips. "Who's this?" Jim shoves his head into the crook of Dave's elbow, and he automatically begins gently twiddling the collie's soft, flippy ears.

"That's Roger. Ah, don't put your finger in there."

Dave curls his forefinger back into his fist. "Grumpy?" Viggo's eyes, Dave finally decides, are grey. Sometimes they seem blue. That, he thinks, is pleasantly odd.

"Found him in the back yard. Put up signs around the neighborhood, but nobody claimed him, so here he is. He has his mellow moods, but with a face like that, how are you supposed to tell the difference?"

Dave puts one knee down to keep from being over-balanced by the dog, who has been steadily pushing further into Dave's arms. He scritches the border collie's ears and white-furred chest obligingly. "How'd Jim lose his foreleg? He doesn't seem to mind the loss overmuch." He croons at the dog, who happily sniffs noses with him, brown eyes to Dave's blue.

Viggo leans against the door frame, smiling at the two of them. "Found him late one night on the side of the road. Hit by a car. We have a good emergency vet downtown. Jim's owners at the time decided to put him down when the vet couldn't save the leg."

Dave looks sharply up at him. "But that's horrible!"

"Not really," Viggo allows. "This kind of surgery is expensive. Anyway, they gave Jim to me. He was kind of depressed for a while, I think more 'cause he'd been given away than because he'd lost a leg."

Dave smiles up at Viggo. "You spoil him."

Viggo shrugs. Something off-kilter flickers behind his eyes. Dave doesn't know him well enough to place it, though he suspects. "Life can be rough. What's wrong with a little spoiling?"

"Not a thing," Dave agrees, nuzzling Jim's fuzzy forehead. "You mentioned a cat around here somewhere?"

"Marilyn's a lurker. She'll come around when she's ready. Or not."

Viggo rubs against the door frame between his shoulders, like a bear with an itch. His speech pattern tends toward laconic; attractive but rough, like open range land. Mustangs. Broad skies. Flash-floods. "Um, so, you want some coffee, or some tea? I got some terrific challah from the bakery, and I have real tea."

Dave teases, "Real tea? As opposed to fake tea?"

Viggo leads the way into his kitchen. "I mean, like Ian drinks."

"Ah. I see," Dave steps over a pile of books. "Sure. That sounds great."

Jim settles contentedly on the worn rug in front of the kitchen sink, exactly where Viggo was about to step in order to fill the kettle. Viggo steps around him without breaking stride.

Dave clears a sack of something from the local art supply store off of a chair, casts about briefly, finally sets it down in a corner on the floor, and watches with a bemused smile as Viggo rummages in his crowded cabinets. Finally he hands Dave a mug sporting 'Souvenir of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona' on the side, with an old-fashioned painting of the Watchtower rock formation under a caramel glaze. The mug is probably an antique.

Dave waves it at Viggo. "Been here?"

"Mm?" Viggo studies the old souvenir as though he's never seen it before. "No. I guess I just found that somewhere and thought it was neat." He shrugs apologetically and leans back against the counter. "Um. Yeah." He scratches at his stubbled chin and eyes Dave questioningly.

"You want to know how we get started," Dave interprets, wondering at the back of his mind how Viggo shaves that lovely little divot in the center of his chin without nicking himself. "And whether or not it makes you some sort of pervert in need of therapy if it turns out you like it."

Viggo grins sheepishly, and Dave is certain that this expression of Viggo's is something he's going to want to see again; soon, and often.

"Is Ian someone you trust?"

"What? Yes, or I wouldn't even be talking to you. I trust him with my life," Viggo adds thoughtfully, and Dave catches that peculiar back-beat again, but lets it be.

He shrugs. "Well. There you are. Listen, Viggo." Dave turns his chair toward his host and leans forward earnestly. "You can take this experience as far out there or be as conservative as you want to, as long as it's safe and consensual. Though I'll tell you something: it's not always about sexual pleasure. These sorts of experiences can be unexpectedly emotionally intense, and we often find that we learn things about ourselves. This is a state of mind. Not just a state of body."

The kettle has started to whistle, and Viggo shuts off the stove. Dave watches as he leans back against the counter again, lost in thought, as though Dave has disappeared. A sense of stillness hangs about him, his lean body bent in a sort of cowboy slouch that speaks of anything but artifice. He regards Dave from beneath his persistent forelock. His clear grey eyes seem infinite, and for a moment appear to Dave much older than Viggo's thirty four years.

Everything about the man speaks to Dave of gentleness, and whatever that shadow is that keeps slipping behind his eyes, he very much wants to help Viggo get a look at it.

Finally Viggo asks Dave, "What do you need me to do?"


<strong>Sunday morning 11:10</strong>

"Mycroft!" Sean calls sternly.

Dave and the big mastiff look up quickly to find Sean standing in the kitchen doorway, tea kettle dangling from his hand. "What 'ave I told you about inappropriate sniffin'?"

Sean's voice, Dave assesses privately, is not the sort of voice one ignores. Sean's is the sort of voice which, depending on circumstance, might either scare you half-witted or smoothly persuade you to do Filthy Things You've Never Thought of Before, and Dave feels all sorts of lively possibilities flicker to life in the darker corners of his brain.

Mycroft grumbles apologetically, and Dave suppresses a chuckle. "I'm not offended, really," he assures his host, though perhaps he might have done without the wet nose-prints on the crotch of his khakis. He crosses the distance between the living room and the kitchen, Mycroft following closely.

"That's not the point," Sean tells him, giving a sharp look to the dog, who nudges at his hip and gazes up at him mournfully. Sean makes a long-suffering noise, tickles the mastiff's ears and waves him off. "Go play with Ophelia or somethin'."

Thick toenails clicking on the oiled plank flooring, Mycroft trots heavily back into the living room, where a slender, fawn-colored hound lounges gracefully on the sofa. She extends her delicate muzzle to sniff Mycroft sympathetically before he plops down with a loud wheeze on the carpet in front of the white-timbered fireplace.

Dave seats himself at the kitchen table, glancing out the window at a stone patio shaded by a partial arbor of purple wisteria. The rest of the garden stretches beyond, and Dave notes roses and zinnias nearest before he turns again to observe Sean as he putters about the large, tidy kitchen. Perhaps as tall as Viggo, Dave thinks. He recalls Ian telling him that Sean is the younger of the two by about a year. He moves with an athlete's unconscious grace, ducking into the refrigerator, fussing over the tea things on a granite counter. There is something else, something intangible about the man that makes him seem bigger than life, and Dave wonders how Sean manages that, and whether he's even aware of it. "Your pups, Sean &#151; how did they find you?"

Sean slides smoothly into the chair across from him. "Met Ophelia at the Humane Society shelter. I haven't been in Saint Arquette for very long, Ian may have told you. Bought this house last October. Don't know why I bought a house so big... " Sean gives an embarrassed flicker of a smile, as though he's unintentionally revealed something. "Someone had given up this lovely little hound-mix puppy, just about half-grown. Claimed she were stupid, couldn't be taught." He snorts derisively. "Ophelia's mostly deaf, is all. She's as bright as any, just needs to be handled differently." He cautions as he pours out the tea, "She's a love, but don't sneak up on her, yeah? Milk?"

"Yes, thanks." Dave feels a strong suspicion that he is becoming infatuated. He doesn't fight it.

Sean traces a drip from the milk jug, licks his finger.

"Um... " Dave mulls over the way Sean's lips curl around the tip of his finger, then mentally shakes himself. "What about Mycroft?"

"Accident. Found him not long after I got Ophelia, wanderin' in the museum parking lot. He were about six months old, all big feet and droopy ears. No one claimed him at the shelter, so I took him." Sean sighs. "God, he eats a lot! I can't help wonderin' if someone had him 'cause they thought he was cute when he were little, then decided they'd got hold of more than they could handle, and just dumped him." He unscrews the top from a jar of thick, clotted cream.

"He seems like a nice bloke," Dave comments, watching Sean's hands work.

Sean leans out sideways to glance conspiratorially into the living room. "Aye," he mutters to Dave. "But don't tell 'im I said that."

Dave snorts into his tea. "Wouldn't dream of it."

Sean pulls the lid off of a keeper full of scones. The scent of strawberries rises enticingly. "Made 'em this morning."

"Oo, ace!" Dave pulls apart the scone and reaches for cream.

Sean clears his throat nervously. "So... er... Ian's told me it'd do me good to, y'know, take some lessons from you. Or somethin'." He runs a nervous hand through attractively shaggy blond hair, and takes refuge in sipping at his tea.

"Bondage," Dave begins in what he hopes is a comforting tone, "and all that, isn't what most people think."

"No whips?" Sean asks hopefully. Green eyes look to Dave for reassurance.

"Not if you don't like," Dave promises him. "Ever been blindfolded during sex, just for fun?"

Sean shifts uncomfortably, not, Dave realizes, the kind to kiss and tell. "Well, yeah, once or twice."

"Then you've played a bit with bondage."

Sean thoughtfully licks a bit of heavy cream off his scone, an action which Dave finds irrationally distracting. "Ehm, what about those discipline and submission things? I've been a bit anxious about all that."

Dave blinks away from watching Sean's tongue. "Think you're going to get yelled at all the time?"

Sean nods. "Aye. Scary guy in black leather and big boots. Not exactly my fantasy."

"It doesn't have to be like that," Dave says. He grins, teasing, "Though that sort of scene does possess its merits... but never mind. We'll figure out together what works best between the two of us."

Dave taps the back of Sean's hand, making sure Sean looks him in the eyes. "Listen. To willingly kneel; furthermore, to allow yourself to be bound at the mercy of another person is a singular act of courage, and any reasonable dominant person respects and cherishes that. I quite like to consider myself reasonable."

Sean appears to think this over for a few moments before asking, "Have you ever done this with Ian?"

"Yes," Dave tells him. "It was his partner, Marton, who trained me, but I've played with Ian as well." He smiles, remembering. "You'd be amazed at how high a certain well-to-do English gentleman can take you using no special gear at all, but just his hands."

Sean chokes on his tea and blushes furiously, and Dave finds himself happily, utterly entranced. "Okay. Right." Sean takes a long swallow and a steadying breath. "So, what do you and I expect of each other, then?"


<strong>Sunday evening</strong>

Ian roars with laughter over the telephone. "Oh David, it's too wonderful! Shaved?!"

"They may have been a bit distracted by the HIV test requirement. I suspect the shaving every day and all that hasn't quite sunk in yet."

The older man snickers gleefully. "Not second-guessing, but why?"

"One of Marton's tricks," Dave reminds. "They're <em>mine</em>, you see, for the duration of their training. This should help to reinforce that concept when they're not with me. I mean, when you join the Marines, you go to boot camp and you live there for thirteen weeks. We can't do that in this case, obviously. I'm also thinking about the possibility of The Unwelcome Occurrence."

Ian shoos his cat off the kitchen counter and puts the kettle on the stove, cradling the receiver against his shoulder. "Unwelcome Occurrence?"

"What if one of them is propositioned by some attractive Romeo before our plan is complete? He'll be a lot less likely to run right out with the interloper if he's got me gripping him by his privates, even if it is symbolic. I mean really, how would a fellow explain something like that?"

Ian chuckles, then curses as he trips over Frederick, who glares accusingly over his shoulder at him. "But would it entirely prevent such a liaison? If our man is serious about meeting with this trespasser he might just cancel his time with you and invent some silly story to tell; say he was drunk and did it on a dare."

"True enough, but any initial hesitation might give us time to implement Plan B."

Ian opens a packet of treats for the insistent tabby, clucking affectionately and hoping to be allowed to finish making his tea in peace. "Do we have a Plan B?"

"No," Dave admits. "But dammit we are Englishmen! We shine our brightest under pressure!"

"You are not an Englishman," Ian snorts, "but for Harry, England, and Saint George! just the same." He pours milk into a china cup. "Hal wasn't fussy about his friends. Ask Falstaff." He chortles in response to Dave's giggling over the telephone, and congratulates himself. He really does know how to choose his accomplices.

"David," Ian asks, "Tell me how Viggo reacted. Did he seem comfortable with the proposition?"


<strong>1:14 a.m.</strong>

Sean wakes from a restless sleep and sits bolt upright in his bed, staring horrified into the darkness. Shaved? His man parts are going to get shaved. And then he'll have to learn to shave his privates every day. He swallows dryly, groaning into the night. Ian and Bernard, Sean's infinitely patient mentor at university, have been friends since boyhood. As a result, Ian came to know Sean as a troublesome but promising young pain in the arse in the History Department at Berkeley, and adopted the young graduate as one of his own. If it weren't for that history between them Sean would never have come near an idea such as this, but as he has known Ian for that long, and Ian does know him that well, Sean will give this a go. He swears to himself that's the only reason. Desperation and curiosity have nothing to do with it.

Sean huffs into the darkness, mucks about with his pillow. And what did Dave mean when he said he expected Sean to arrive for sessions 'cleaned out' as well as cleaned up? What the hell does that mean? No. Wait. 'Cleaned out' could only mean one thing, or Dave would have made more of a point of elaborating. He flops back onto the bed and slaps a hand over his eyes. "Oh good Christ... " Lesson one, Sean thinks, is learning to pay much closer attention to the details.


Viggo sits at his kitchen table in the dark, clutching a cold cup of coffee while his stomach rolls. Bondage. Fuck. Either Ian's a genius, or he's lost his damn mind. Still, when Viggo told Dave that he trusted Ian with his life he meant just that, so he'll do this. Jim seems partial to Dave as well, and Jim doesn't snuggle up to just anyone. Viggo tries to comfort himself with that. Okay. He'll let some guy he's pretty sure he likes and that he knows his dog likes tie him up and do things to him. Fuck. He must be crazy. After everything, he must finally have gone crazy.
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