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Your Stories Await Telling

Chathams Visitor | 27th 10am- Xmas 1677


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Willoughby paused at the doorway before rapping his ivory topped walking-stick upon it's paintwork, cane holding hand then detouring to give a quick rub of front teeth with forefinger.


He was today dressed in a lime his tailor named 'speechless', in part because the discordantly stylish stripes of lemon within the weave. A frothy peach cravat tickled at his throat, a waistcoat of tangerine fitted to perfection, while the lavender bows on his shoes were neatly plumped. There were very few people in this world that could pull off such a collection of colours, but the fruity Jonathan did it with aplomb.


"Yoo-hoo darling, open the door, emergencies await us!" he called gaily to his recently made friend, a friend who seemed to adore gossip quite as diligently as did he.


Rat-a-tat-tat. He rapped again.

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Willoughby would have a devil of a time getting an answer, as the room currently lay unoccupied. Charles had, after the events of Sunday, opted to head to the Fencing Hall for some early morning practice. Fortunately, Charles had ended the practice and was just rounding the corner at Willoughby's second knock, hair loose about his shoulders and navy cravat undone about his collar.


"Willoughby, good fellow! A most unexpected pleasure! Just a moment."


Charles lengthened his stride, moving to join Jonathan at the door and usher him inside and to a seat.


"You shall have to forgive my state of déshabillé, I'm afraid. I'm just fresh from a bout of fencing. Your own ensemble is stunning, by the way." Charles hung his dove grey frock coat neatly on the back of a chair. "Can I get you anything? Drink? Cigar? I'm well stocked with both."


Pleasantries attended to, Charles seated himself and hooked one leg relaxedly over the chair arm, sprawling elegantly.


"Now, I thought I heard something about emergencies?"

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Head turning at the call, Willoughbys eyes flared appreciatively at the sight Chatham presented, though with due care to take it no further than that. "The state suits you," he quipped, fingers itching to set about repairs to his unkempt friend. Ach! But instead he swanned into the room upon Charles tail, eyes taking in the details of the room.


"I see Saint Marks is as cramped as it ever was, and the walls, paper thin." he rose and eyebrow, and moved to press and ear to the wall. "Do you know who your neighbour is? What's that thudding, either they are working a loom in there or... hah, nobles at their sport hmm." fictional sounds in this instance, any gossip worth their salt is a dab hand at the augmentation of truth.


"Brandy if you please." Jonathan settled upon the divan, and with a flick of wrist tossed his tresses over his shoulder, a sinister smile playing on his lips as he then leant forwards to reveal, "emergency indeed, this just in this morning; the Duchess of Cleveland is back!"

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Charles busied himself with pouring a generous measure of some of his better brandy out for both of them before draping himself over his chair with an air of relaxed, effortless insouciance that had taken years of effort to perfect. He admired Willoughby's theatrics as he sat. Something of a raconteur himself, Charles appreciated the other man's skill in the art.


And that outfit is exquisite. Not sure how he's managing that, but he is. Must remember to get his tailor this time.


The news,when it came, was worth the minor wait. Charles smiled wistfully. Over a decade before, when he had first decided that girls were interesting after all, he had carried an immense torch for Barbara Villiers. And, even if it no longer burned so large or so brilliantly, it still smouldered.


The one thing I've ever been genuinely envious of John over.


"Now that is interesting news indeed. Where did you hear it? Or have you seen the lovely lady yourself?" Charles took a swallow of brandy. "That's a boon for the cause of merriment and no error!"


Of course, there was more to it than just that, as his cynical side told him. Unlike many of those who had succeeded her in the King's bed, Barbara could and would play the game.

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"Hear it? Why I saw it with my own eyes." Jonathan said believably, pausing to take a languid sip from his glass - his eyes turning slightly cross eyed in his elation. Charles reception to this gossip had been all the reward a tattler needed.


"I saw a string of servants carrying her luggage into her house as I passed by the Pall Mall, mark my words she does not travel light, I counted no less than eight trunks, and seventeen hatboxes. And that was before they begun unloading the second waggon, it surely seemed that she'd brought back the entire of '77's vintage from france with her!"


"Party?" he paused at that comment from Charles then. Barbara knew how to enjoy herself, but good times were not the woman's highest motivation. "Mmm... yes, I dare say the games shall now begin." he paused, and them murmured, "I must admit that I rued that the settling of Queen Karoline was less spectacular than the tales of Queen Catherines. The mistresses seemed to lack spine to stand up to her, all being sent off to Chelsea like that, banished from Whitehall. Ah! And I'd held such high hopes for the mouthy Scottish one. Perhaps Barbara shall give them tuition do you think?" he tittered then.


"Hmm... but really, I wonder what's her agenda?" He swung gaze to Charles, inviting speculation.

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"Doubtless his Majesty took precautions against a repeat of such scenes. Though I very much doubt Barbara would have let such stop her, had she been affected."


Charles gently swirled his brandy as he pondered. His gaze fell on the hookah, resting in plain view on the low table. He had indulged the night before and, unusually, neither he nor Wodehouse had cleared it away. He felt tempted for a moment, but no. There was too much to do today. And it certainly would not help with puzzling out Barbara's motivations.


Perhaps before bed.


"Hmm. I assume you've heard no word of her children being ill, or some such? And she and Parker are both Catholic, so it's most unlikely to be a divorce. Even leaving that aside, why now, after so many years? No, it's not that. I think she has too much steel to run from rumours of war, so I say we rule that out." A sip of brandy. "She might be seeking to take advantage of all the other mistresses being confined to Chelsea, but again, why wait until now?"


Charles reached up to brush a lock of his hair back into place. There were a few possibilities he did consider at least somewhat likely, but it was important to build up to those.


"Off the top of my head, I can think of three plausible motivations." He counted them off on his fingers. "One: She was caught up in some French scandal and forced to relocate. My least favourite of the three, as it would have to be quite a scandal to force Barbara to flee. Two: She is here to witness, or make sure of, the downfall of Danby. No love lost there, I would imagine, after the Test. Three: She is here to facilitate some back channel diplomacy between us and the French. There's something they can't or won't discuss in an official, public forum that they nevertheless feel would affect our course, and they've asked Barbara to convey it as a known quantity with access to important ears."


Charles smiled at Willoughby.


"Your thoughts?"

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"Sometimes I fear the finest scandals are all behind us." Willoughby drawled faux lament, before his grin burst through, "and then a portent like this happens."


Chatham's previous evenings paraphernalia was still littered about, it was naught the dandy had not seen before, jaded eyes drifted right past, the fleshy warmth of Chatham's person held more interest to him. The manicured finger that adjusted Charles hair. Willoughby fancied it might have been his own. His eyes watched the mans lips as he spoke with an undercurrent of excitement... and then reluctantly, he allowed distance to remain between them. Johnothan leaned back upon the divan, and deliberately stretched.


"Her daughter is practically invisible these days, after the debacle with Mancini, why who'd have thought she had it in her." he paused a moment, wondering if Charles had heard of that story. "But Cleveland is not so much of a mother hen as to return to England upon account of the daughter. Hmm, whatever it is, must feed her ambition I would think."


Charles speculated.


Willoughby gave a nod to the potential gloating over Danby, "Hmm, though that would be best done to the mans face wouldn't you agree, and the man himself is woefully absent from court." another sip from his glass, and eyes drifted towards the tumble of Charles bed. "French scandal perhaps." Barbara was a woman with legendary appetites, the wives of France might have drawn a relieved breath upon her departure, "mm... though it seems unlike her to misplace her foot with those in power." angering wives would not be enough to prompt the Duchess to leave.


"I like your last idea the best..." his eyes returned to Charles, "I wonder where our profit might come in this, or in the least how we might discover the truth of it. There is naught so distressing to fine fellows like us, as to be on the wrong side of the doors as they close for intimate conversations..."


Willoughbys eyes glittered then. A clue that there were less than naive thoughts had been at play in his mind. "I say, old man, you are chums with Churchill arent you?" it might have seemed that he had only just thought of this.

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"Debacle?" Charles frowned. "Oh, the one who ran away to France with Hortense. " He shook his head. "Did you ever meet Hortense? That woman's worse than strong drink for causing and encouraging reckless and scandalous behaviour. She'd have little difficulty making a tigress of a kitten. She'd enjoy it too."


Charles dashed back his brandy, tongue flicking out to lick up a stray drop. He nodded along with Willoughby's analysis, smiling craftily as the other man wondered (rhetorically?) how they might profit


"Well, as you say, our true profit will be simply knowing what others do not. Of course, if it is that last possibility, there are a myriad of ways two resourceful fellows such as ourselves could leverage the knowledge for fiscal reward. Some of them aren't even treasonous."


Conniving wickedness suited Jonathan, Charles thought idly as the other's eyes gleamed.


Pretty, without that obscenely manufactured air Merriweather has.


Charles did not bother to wonder how Willoughby had learned of his friendship with John. It had likely been no great feat, given the opera and what they'd gotten up to after it.


Well, what I assume we got up to.


"Ah, so this is why you called on me. Fie, Willoughby, I thought you liked me!" Charles feigned a pout and laughed. "But yes, John and I were at school together, then Tangiers and the Continent. In truth, I'd been planning on enlisting his aid as soon as you mentioned Babs."

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"Ran away - was sent away... a subtle difference." Jonathan supposed. Plainly Charles had heard at least one version of the story, Willoughby was fondest of the version where Anne and Hortense had been discovered by the King himself, in his own bed for that matter, and both then banished. But gossip did twist and turn some, who knew what truly happened.


"Alas, I was indisposed that season." he regrettably revealed, though did not go into reasons of why. "My dear friend Shrewsberry sent regular reports. Though the dear did get distracted with swaths of pages detailing Mancinis's dresses, I was able to divine that her character was likewise theatrically bold. Do such people ever rest I wonder? It must be exhausting to live life so loud."


Pocket mirror flipped open, a quick inspection, a finger licked to then smoothe an eyebrow, pocket mirror was then deftly snapped shut. Eyes of amuse then met Charles'.


Profit. Willoughby's estimation of Chatham was cemented as they man spoke so sportingly of their prospects. "Treason, pfft, you say the word just to raise our tempo, why you maestro of the courtly dance!" he tittered.


"Dar-ling." The dandy then drawled, delighted of being called out, "don't tell you you are jealous?"


But he did not linger on that pleasant possibility, instead launching, "I was simply thinking that he might be conducive to a gathering of company. A social creature as she is, I dare say the Duchess shall look to fill her calendar swiftly. Yet chances are that she shall circulate in prohibitively exclusive circles. Might your friend invite her along to one of the less lofty events... there is a Degustation tonight for instance, or then Lady Kendishall's party on Wednesday."

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"They deserve detailing, though the woman in them could wear sackcloth and still look radiant," Charles opined drily, "and you divined correctly. As for exhaustion?" Charles smiled sharply. "Pah! That's why God gave us coca leaves."


He admired Willoughby's preening, himself a great user of such techniques. Jonathan really was pretty, though now was perhaps not the time to think about such. There was business at hand. Charles laughed.


"Guilty as charged. If one is to plot, one should be excited." His eye flashed merrily. "Flatterer."


He laughed again at Willoughby's accusations of jealousy.


"Of course I'm bloody jealous darling. If I'm to be called upon, I should like there to be no ulterior motives," he groused with affected childishness. "But I take your point. I'll send him a note, enquiring and encouraging. No guarantees, of course."


Any blackmail Charles had on John was years out of date. As he settled back in his chair, perhaps it was the thought of blackmail that brought another thought swimming to the surface of his mind, born from half memories of half heard whispers months back in Paris. Whispers of poison and darker things.


Surely not. It would have been the height of idiocy to get involved in that sort of thing. She could not possibly have been that irredeemably stupid.


Why not? You were.


I was on the fringes only! I was discreet, and I got out quickly.


Rather like her grace seems to have done, you mean?






It fit. That would be exactly the sort of prospective scandal that would force even the redoubtable Duchess of Cleveland to flee. The water cure was nothing to scoff at.


"But surely she could not have been so completely bereft of sense as to get mixed up in that," he murmured, momentarily forgetting his company.

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"Many things deserve intricate detailing." the dandy's eyes slipped to Charles undone cravat at that moment. Lud, the man had such an alluring energy about him, and here they were talking about women's clothing. He gave a laugh and supposed, "Though I would be challenged to write more than five pages of your own attire at this moment Chatham!"


His grin was wide and receptive to the slur of 'flatter'. "One does ones best."


True enough there was an excitement within Jonathan just now, though he did his darndest to pretend it was only this joint plotting of meeting, perchance to meddle in matters Castlemaine. "Or you could invite for him, and then need fill in for his escort at last moment?" And perhaps it was the mutual pleasure of it, that he was perceiving as an accommodating perspective from the man in chair opposite.


"... you've yet to tell me of the man you chased from Kemps." he said quietly in idle preamble, and then revealed, "Yet fine sir, I cannot promise to ever be without motive, ulterior or other, nor do I truly suppose our, ah, friendship might thrive without. The lives of plainly spoken men is not what we seek at Whitehall is it? It is the intrigue of layers that wets our appetites. I would challenge that you Chatham, are not without enticing layers of your own. And, yes, I am drawn towards them. It is the charm of such moments, the daring, even bravery, to slip willingly perhaps to ones very doom."


A bit too theatrical perhaps. Ah well. Finishing his drink, he thanked god he'd lost the ability to blush years ago.


"...mixed up in what?"

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"Lack thereof at the moment, I should think," Charles snorted with amusement at Willoughby's jab at the state of his attire. "Deplorable, I know."


Jonathan's suggested plot brought an expression of fierce excitement to the earl's face. He snapped his fingers in joyous salute of the proposed stroke.


"Now there's an idea! Not just a pretty face and exquisite tailoring, are you darling? It's been a while since I've forged John's handwriting, but I think I could manage. Hmm. Lady Kendishall's party, I think. The inn may not be sufficiently highbrow."


And this way, I can do Hippolyta a favour as well. I do so love being efficient.


The mention of Kemps and Cadogan made its expected appearance. Charles had a story worked out but was spared the need to bring it out immediately as Jonathan launched immediately into an eloquent defense. Charles couldn't help it. He applauded.


"Oh Brava, dear fellow, Brava. I could not have put it better myself. Can you forgive me my little strop?" He smirked. "Though if it provokes such philosophical eloquence, I shall have to play the jealous maid more often. As for the business at Kemps-" An easy shrug. "-you didn't ask. The man, Arthur Cadogan, was an associate of my late father. Their acquaintance ended... acrimoniously, on both sides. They each felt they'd been cheated. We are in the process of sorting matters out now. My stepmother will be coming to help to shed some light on things."


Charles shrugged. "I overreacted, perhaps, but we were having such a lovely conversation until he interrupted and I'm prone to being hot-tempered. Once I heard the name, well, my father's papers had been quite vehement on the subject. I am sorry for running off like that, though. Do say I am forgiven."


Charles settled back into his chair and found himself seized by fresh suspicions. He did not realise that he had voiced any part of them aloud until Jonathan asked. Charles came to his feet and strode to his liquor cabinet, bending down to root out his best cognac. Silently, he refilled their glasses and seated himself again. He gave Willoughby a direct, searching look.


"How much do you know about life in Versailles? And I don't mean the empty platitudes everyone has heard about the beauty and extravagance of the place. I mean what you see when you peel back the surface and really look."

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Deplorable? Willoughby could think of another word for it, but bit his tongue. Chatham was just goading him now, he was sure of it.


"And should Churchill find out, I dare say he'll forgive you of it. Such a plan is ripe for the stage, he might be honored use of his name might be so fabled." Excellent. Jonathan fairly shimmered with pleasure of the plan's warm reception. It had been something of a gamble. But not Chatham, who went so far as to claim he'd forged Churchill's handwriting on occasions previously. Not that Willoughby truly believed that, thinking it mere male braggery. "Kendishalls then, opportunity come to those who sieze it."


Abashed at his speech, if not blushing, the guest blinked of hale applause, before he swept off invisible hat and made a bow (or what passed for a bow when seated). "Please, hold your ovations for at the end." he uttered with wry.


Again he wondered what the game was here. Charles bluster might be a mask. Or not. But for now the convenience of sensible topic was far too -- convenient. Jonathan listened with attempted interest to the tale of one Arthur Cardogan.


"Step mother? Are such creatures of any better breed than step fathers I wonder?" it seemed odd that the step woman was painted the hero. "My own, I'd not invite into personal affairs. Sadly, nepotism seems to struggle to hurdle the expanse that is a second marriage." he accepted the glass, and lifted a toast "to roads."


A refined palate appreciated the conac, so smooth.


Less smooth was Charles reply. Jonathan puzzled, wondering to what Chatham referred. He made a guess, "The disdain and judgement that it's gilt would cover? None but the fool sleeps easily at Versailles." Jonathan knew enough of France to not wish to live there.

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"Not quite what I meant. There is at Versailles a strong undercurrent of... well, witchcraft and Satanism, black masses and that sort of thing. A goodly part of the French court has an intense interest in alchemy and astrology and the like. There's a roaring trade in horoscopes and aphrodisiacs and what they euphemistically call 'inheritance powders.'" Charles met Willoughby's eyes. "Poison, to put it more bluntly."


Charles sipped at his cognac before continuing.


"In February, I think, they arrested a woman for murder. Can't think of her name, de la Grange, or something like that. Anyway, she implicated any number of people for similar crimes, and looking at it, there appears to have been a suspicious number of auspicious deaths in France these past few years. Le Roi and his ministers were obviously less than pleased to discover what was afoot, and set about purging Versailles and the court. Several important personages were named though. Montespan, for example. It promises to be quite the scandal. But surely Lady Castlemaine has the wit to not get mixed up in something like that?"

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Was Willoughby turning green, or was it the play of morning light through window shading his gills?


"Oh, I see. Well, as witty as the marketing might be, I surely hope not. Then to bring such pagan practises to Whitehall. God forbid." Every man has their limit, and it seemed that Chatham had just discovered his. Jonathan's lack of tolerance of the occult rivaled only his belief in it.


The glass of high end cognac was, by necessity, then downed in a single shot.

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"I would hope so too. Dear God, the implications..."


Charles shook his head moodily. He himself did not put much stock in the occult. He had been to a black mass and spent the entire time trying not to laugh. The whole thing had seemed to him merely a way of overcomplicating a good orgy. No, he was worried mostly about the potential consequences of a well known English personage being revealed to have been mixed up in a spate of murders at a foreign court. It would ruin the English reputation abroad and undermine the very foundation of the system that allowed easy foreign travel. Passports and the like relied on the good behaviour of those they were issued to.


How could any foreign court trust an Englishman again?


Willoughby, sensible fellow, had obviously grasped this too, to judge from his complexion and necking of the cognac. Charles followed suit and then stood, leaning forward to clap Jonathan on the shoulder.


"Buck up old fellow. It won't be that, I'm sure of it. Cleveland has far too much sense to get involved with that sort of nonsense. No, it'll be Louis trying to head off English intervention in his wars or some such and we shall make a fortune exploiting the knowledge and have great fun in the process. Now, do you have any suggestions for the wording of our note to Cleveland?"

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"Of errors she might expect be forgiven of, that would be inexcusable." in agreement Willoughby shuddered, grateful indeed as his countryman discarded the topic.


Surely Barbara knew better than to meddle in foreign affairs, or was that underestimating the Countess ambitions?


Charles pat of shoulder was pleasantly reassuring. "I hope you are right." An agitation of a sort had overtaken them both at this point, Willoughby too finding an urge to stand, yes to distract.


With a effort he returned to levity of before, "Yes to your quill good man, your ink waits for no man, we've games to set afoot. As to wording... to the salutation first. Had Churchill any pet names for her? I cant see her as a Snookums." for all of the bone chill he'd experienced earlier, light of heart returned quickly to the impeccably dressed lord.

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Charles grinned fiercely at Willoughby as the man regained some semblance of himself.


"Yes! To work!"


Charles strode to his writing desk, rooting out quill, ink and a sheaf of scrap paper. He laughed.


"No, most certainly not a snookums I think. Could you imagine how she'd react to that?" A frown of thought. "No pet names, not in writing. He'd open with 'your grace,' or 'my lady,' or Barbara, if he was being especially intimate. He's a proper gentleman, and prone to formality."


He waited for further input from Jonathan before continuing, thinking aloud.


"I hope you will forgive my resuming our correspondence so boldly, but I find myself compelled. You are, and ever shall be, the dear object of my life, for by heavens I will never love anybody but yourself*." He looked sidelong at Jonathan. "How does that sound? A tad overwrought, I know, but it's how he writes."




*genuinely taken from one of Churchill's love letters

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Jonathan had positioned himself behind Chathams and all casual-like, put hand on the back of the chair, "yes that's just the sort of thing!" frankly he was caught in a breath of it. "Lud, I dont know about her, but I am smitten already. So passionate." he took a moment leaning away from the letter (and Chatham), and imagined that such passionate words were in the soul of the writer as much as the muse.


"Ahh.... I wonder how much preamble the Duchess is used to, I would have guessed her a woman with scant need for foreplay. Perhaps we launch swiftly then into the invitation itself? Oh. Or perhaps we flatter her and say that Churchill has jilted the woman he'd planned to attend the party with, immediately he found out that she was in England once more." he again moved to view the draft, this time his hand 'accidentally' missing the back of the chair and settling around Charles own shoulder.



OOC: beautiful find!

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Charles grinned in reply to Jonathan's praise.


"I'm somewhat stirred myself, narcissistic as it is to say. Let's put our passion to good use, hmm?"


He tapped the quill on his lower lip, listening to Jonathan's suggestions. He closed his eye in thought.


"Something like this, perhaps? 'Your departure from our shores was like the harshest winter, but with you has returned the sun, and I can at last dispense with those pale shadows with which I have endeavoured to repair the lack of you. I must see you. My time is not wholly my own, alas, but I am at liberty on the evening of the 29th and I deeply desire to escort you to a party at the house of Lady Kendishall, if such should please you. Know that I love you so well that your happiness I prefer much above my own; and if you think meeting me is what you ought not to do, or that it will disquiet you, I promise you I will never press you more to do it*.'"


Charles could feel Jonathan's hand warm on his shoulder and turned his head to smirk up at him.


"And how should we proceed from here, hmm?"




* another sentence I have shamelessly stolen.

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Goodness, but Chatham was so very charming. Jonathan snickered as Charles claimed himself likewise moved, and then when the good Earl let his eye fall shut in contemplation, his brow clearing with imagination - it was nearly too much!


Not nearly even.


The flowing eloquence that spilled from Chathams lips simply got the better of him - that as Charles blithely turned his head with carefree question of what now - Jonathan found his lips pressed against the other in a most passionate manner!


Oh my god! Too late, he wished for his own prudence, such a move was likely executioner of this new friendship. Too late he broke free, eyes dazed, cheeks flushing.


"I... I... ah." He squeezed his own eyes shut anticipating flabbergasted objection! "Sss orry."

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The kiss took Charles quite by surprise. He had expected a more protracted experience, with teasing and subtle flirtation. He blinked slowly as Jonathan withdrew, looking... vulnerable.


Oh my. Endearing, really, isn't it?


Charles stood and let out a little huff of amusement as Willoughby babbled apologies.


"For what? Stopping?"


Charles kissed him, lingering teasingly before withdrawing with a firm nip at the other's lower lip.


"But you're right. Business before pleasure."


He seated himself again and read over the draft.


"I take it the last passage met with your approval, so shall we move on to closing? Something like 'Pray let me hear from you, and know if I shall be so happy as to see you. Ever yours, J.' That sounds alright, doesn't it? We'll send my manservant with the note, once he gets back, and tell him to wait for a reply."

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A variety of emotions shifted across Willoughby's face - surprise, relief, delight.


It was a roll of the dice, an artless gamble with odds loaded against him. Or were they? It had been some while since Willoughby had found a lover of the quality. He was likely rusty of the signals given, uncertain. Though then again, perhaps on an unconscious level he'd been encouraged by minutiae? Uncertainty now, however, was swept away. The attraction felt, was surely unanimous!


With abandon he savored Charles kiss, the nip, playful of future promise. "Ha ha!" drawing a breath, his hand moved to his lip now reddened. Eyes full of fascination for Chatham. "Yes, lets get this business out of the way." he encouraged, dragging over a chair and straddling it.


"Or perhaps," he felt inspired by his muse, "Hope now surges and churns feverishly, and shall be thus until I know your reply. Pray, my love, release me to a state of delirious joy."

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"Perfect," Charles murmured as he made Jonathan's suggested changes to the draft. "Absolutely perfect."


He looked at Jonathan through a lazily half-lidded eye.


"You have a talented tongue, darling, when you deign to use it. A man of most unexpected depths, I think." He laughed. "Deep indeed. Why, even your ulterior motives have ulterior motives!"


Charles turned back to the desk, drawing out a sheet of paper of better quality. Delicately, he set to work. John was lighter on the pen than he was, and wrote in a more sloped hand. It was a challenge to match his friend's hand, especially without a sample for comparison.


Hopefully Babs won't have any on hand either.


Finished, he sanded the forged letter. Admiring his handiwork, he snapped his fingers as a thought struck him.


"I don't suppose you have a length of green ribbon on you, do you? John used to tie one around his love letters."


Charles turned to face Jonathan, one hand idly toying with his own undone cravat. Laughing, his repeated his question from earlier.


"And how should we proceed from here, hmm?"

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"Aww you noticed..." Jonathan downplayed with a chuckle. See now this was the difference with a liaison of quality, the keenly trained perception that was upon more than mere phsical. Although physical was still there, Chatham certainly had an alluring sort of mystery about him - was it the eyepatch that caught up the imagination so? Or was something else entirely.


A delicious tensioned-ease settled upon the dandy.


While Chatham bent his head to task, Jonathan rested his forearms across the back of his own straddled chair, and rested chin upon them watching.


"I am of a mind to compose a list of you, an inventory perhaps." he said through a smile, distracting Charles a little perhaps. "It might commence with an ode to your brow, long past the need for a mothers kiss, the crease of diligence now upon it inspires my confidence and admiration both. Here I sit and imagine I were that sheet of paper, worked upon so carefully, to the inkwell again you dip, and once more attend the task. Ah, your brow tightens then eases with some flourish done... Yet no ode to your brow might be done lest consideration given to the mind beneath. Ah, the plots the intrigues that there swirl, and that those who enter your phery might will themselves drawn into."


The fellow was quite plainly feeling happily besotted at that moment.


The letter done, the activity level in the room shifted once more. Chatham with his carefree query that was addressed more plainly than ever to Willoughby, although the question was somewhat rhetorical, as Chatham had already seeded his preference.


Eyes dancing Willoughby stood and removed jacket, "gah, you are rendering my mind immobile, I need think of some wittiness that suggests you remove also your belt." he hung his jacket around chair, and then begun unfastening his own cravat. "Incase of a spill." he then snickered.

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Charles smiled back at Willoughby. He had always enjoyed these drawn out moments of anticipation. If he was honest, he had always enjoyed being flattered too. His pen ceased scratching at the paper.


"Oh, do stop it darling," he said in a tone of voice that said precisely the opposite. "You shall put me to blush." He cocked his head and continued. "But if I might be permitted to respond in kind, I would write an ode to your eyes. A beauty to rival Ganymede, certainly, but that is entirely secondary to their perspicacity. They capture all that falls within their sight, pierce all deception and leave all that remains naked to your scrutiny."


Forgery completed, the minds of both gentlemen turned to matters more diverting. Charles laughed and discarded his cravat.


"It has mobility enough. I shall yield to your blandishments. My virtue is yours."


Charles stretched his legs out and removed his boots, before slowly unbuttoning his waistcoat and laying it neatly on his chair. He stood and crossed to stand next to Jonathan, fingertips reaching out to delicately caress the line of the other's jaw.


"Beautiful," he purred, and kissed Jonathan hungrily.

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"Now that would be a sight." Willoughby fairly mewed at the thought of Charles blushing, "...but you now goad me to more daring indecency, with such a reward at stake!" Still, he suspected Charles incapable of it, this man who'd not batted an eye at his kiss, who sailed so jauntily through life and, heaven forbid his heart.


"There are times when directness holds it's own allure." Willoughby appreciated, along with the swiftness of said belts unfastening. "Your virtue though?" had his eyes power of perception, he might deduce something from that - but perhaps the notion was self flattery. Still it was a pretty thought to imagine himself Chathams first dip into this particular pool.


Passion then erased further thought, as bodies and lips converged hungrily, manicured fingers pressing up through the tumble of Chathams hair. Lips parting, tonges colliding, eyes slipping closed with a private delirium of the Earls fleshy probe, and darker still thoughts. A guttural groan came out of no where, embarrassing (slightly!) the effeminate man. Eyes flashed open, meeting Charles, kissing halted. Then quite as suddenly he resumed, fingers snaking down and into Charles waist band.

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Charles broke the kiss, dragging his lips along Jonathan's jaw to his ear.


"You moan so sweetly darling." He ground up against Jonathan's questing hand. "See what you're doing to me?"


Charles kissed down Jonathan's throat, idly trailing a long finger up the front of the other's breeches as he did. His hand then slid around to caress Jonathan's buttocks.


"Pleasurable as this is, you're making my knees weak. Shall we move to the divan?"


Charles reclaimed Jonathan's lips and, loathe to break the contact between them, maneuvered slowly to the divan, caressing all the while. He settled down into it, drawing Willoughby after him. His hand left Jonathan's arse, moving to fondle the front of his breeches. Charles met the other's eyes with his own cyclopean gaze, letting Jonathan see the desire coiling there.


"You mentioned daring indecencies earlier. Have you any ideas?" he growled out, nipping again at the delicate skin of Willoughby's throat.

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Assisted by Charles gyration a button popped open, "Mmm, I seem to have the desired effect, lud I want to..!" Jonathan's sentence was cut short by a sharp intake of breath, as Charles grasped his arse! Another groan then escaped lips, as the Earls fingers worked the grand muscle, releasing scalp tingling tensions. No ingenue, Charles intensive attention persisted, and Willoughby; was putty in his hands.


"... I want to..." yet Willoughby's yearning was muffled once more a their lips explored again, his hand meanwhile working with increased excitement at the buttons of Charles breeches. To the divan they finally made it, and as the Earl collapsed to his Jonathan slid down before him on bended knees - eyes bright with desire looked into his fellows face, lips bright with kisses, the palms of hands rubbing firmly up Charles thighs. "I want to see the full of you, before..." there was unspoken question, to what Charles might want to do. "before..." he left the sentence open, and reaching the randomly sundered set of buttons he abandoned his costumiere principles and simply yanked the rest open.


And there it was. "ahh, you are almost ready." A giddy smile moved over the pretty faced dandy, and moistening lips he descended upon Charles penis, intent to suckle, tease and taunt it to its full potential.

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Was that a button pinging off into the corners of the room? If so, Charles did not notice, and would not have cared if he had. The whole of his attention was consumed by Jonathan's giddy smile. His fellow's obvious pleasure was an aphrodisiac in and of itself.


His breath left him in a shuddering moan as Jonathan's lips descended, and Charles barely repressed the urge to buck his hips. He could not stop his hand reaching out to stroke the other's curls, encouraging his new playmate.


"Still not blushing darling."


Charles was hardening rapidly under Jonathan's ministrations and it took him some moments to muster the self-possession to draw back from his companion's mouth.


"You wicked little tease." Charles removed his shirt, revealing a lean, pale torso creased by several scars. "I would see all of you."


He leaned down, eye glinting sinfully, to whisper in Jonathan's ear.


"Show me."

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