However, he wasn't alone in this. He'd returned from a shift in the kitchens and a stint of heavy lifting to discover that Lars and Jamie were also finished for the time being, having bumped into them during the evening meal. Fionn had chosen to eat first and then wash if he had the energy but he apparently wasn't the only one who'd thought that way. His two roommates had also headed in that direction, leaving the blond in the uncomfortable position of trying to have a bath, not be too self-conscious but also to try very, very hard not to think about Fred and that whole situation. Given that Lars was present, it only heightened the potential for unfortunate flashbacks and Fionn didn't think that he'd bathed quite so fast in his life and he was a fricking passive. Any notion of lingering or soaking was impossible for them as it was; they were always speedy because they had to be. However, the servant just had to get out of there, more on edge than normal. It was going to take him time to adjust to being in the bathhouse again.
If post-traumatic stuff wasn't enough, both old and recent, he had to be quite firm with himself that he was not going to look anywhere in Lars' direction while he was naked, the temptation to look far, far too strong. If he let himself look then he was probably going to want to touch. It was actually more than a little infuriating how much he'd been thinking about the boy over the last few days, mind drifting to possibilities that were all the more alluring because Fionn had forbidden them.
It was a strange thing as well because he didn't typically have issue with this sort of thing. Going to the baths was stressful for him, yes, but while he was making sure that no one was looking too closely at him, he always allowed his gaze to skim, quietly admiring. Sometimes it allowed him to see who took his fancy, seeking the object of his interest at a later date. 'No' was not something that he was accustomed to hearing - or rather accepting - and while he'd been seen off before with violence, typically if he was wanted someone then that was that. The only time the young passive had had to exercise this sort of self-control was where girls were concerned. Nobody cared what happened between passives of the same sex but they had a terror of letting opposites meet. Circle forbid that the passives might breed more of themselves, except that he'd heard a rumour that passives typically produced galdori. The gollies probably considered that to be a lot worse.
If he pretended that Lars was a girl, did it make it any easier? Fuck no but at least he had a precedent for not having to give into his sexual impulses. A bit of deflection helped as well because every time Lars crossed his mind and he was tempted, he glanced Jamie's way instead. The boy was difficult to miss in any case, as while the older blond passive was inclined to fade into the background, the dark haired servant always managed to be very solidly in the foreground. Their friendly roommate seemed incapable of shutting up, chattering away happily, his tongue evidently not as exhausted as the rest of him. He wasn't bad to look at by any means - fantastic arse actually, Fionn definitely would - but the talking and the cheery optimism grated on him. If Jamie could be made to shut up then the defective Madden might actually be able to find him truly attractive.
Maybe that was what he liked about Lars, the contrast of a quiet and closed demeanour. Well that and the fact that the young man was so godsbedamned pretty.
Even when he was no longer in the same room as the other blond by virtue of his quick - albeit not quick enough - departure from the bathhouse, Lars plagued his thoughts. It was a bit ridiculous actually, but to make matters worse, his thoughts kept steering towards Ayden, remembering how he had been and wondering what he might be like now, silently comparing the two in his mind.
By the time his roommates joined him in their shared room, Fionn had sprawled on his back on Jamie's bed and appeared to be brooding, even as a leg bobbed up and down and showed just how much nervous energy he contained. The boy was exhausted certainly but his nerve endings were buzzing, his fatigue such that if he tried to lie down to sleep, he wouldn't be able to do so. So he'd settled on Jamie's bed instead of his own because if he wasn't going to be able to sleep then he might as well wind the other up. When his talkative roommate came in, he paused, taking in the situation with a puzzled and uncertain expression on his face.
"Uh... Fionn? That's my bed and I was gonna, uh... you know, go to sleep. So if you want to move... I mean, just if you don't mind," he managed, a soft hopeful smile on his face, doing his best not to cause offence as he waited with apparent patience.
The dirty blond smiled brightly. "Of course! I do mind!"
A relieved look crossed the other's features, the young man taking a step forward before the meaning of the words caught up with him and he stopped, blinking rapidly, his smile faltering as he tried to understand what was happening.
"I uh, well... yeah, okay, that's fair. I suppose all the beds are the same. A bed's a bed, right? I'll go sleep over here instead and-" Jamie began, taking a step towards Fionn's bed. He was obviously just trying to take the easiest path here and seemed to genuinely believe that they were simply swapping beds. At least, until Fionn cut him off.
"No, no, no. That's my bed. You can't sleep there," he explained, suppressing the urge to laugh at the stupid expression on Jamie's face. The older passive looked between the two beds, looked at Fionn and then finally looked at Lars.
"I don't... I don't get it."
Fionn laughed, sitting up and let stocking-clad feet thud onto the floor, hands held together between his knees as his leg continued to bob up and down. "Yeah, I got that but thanks for stating the obvious, scrap," he shot back, voice laden with sarcasm.
It was cruel really but he was enjoying seeing the optimism and the friendliness wobble, the young man utterly unable to cope with this. Fionn wondered if he was going to cry. Pathetic, utterly pathetic. So easy to mess with that there was very little satisfaction in this. But there was some and it was a much needed outlet until his mind stopped whirring away and let everything shut down so he could sleep.
The blond got to his feet, rising up onto his toes and stretching in a way that only added to the height difference between him and his shorter senior. He watched Jamie shrink back from him a little bit, hands spreading in a placating gesture, a nervous laugh issuing from him.
"I just want to go to bed, Fionn. Come on, don't you want to go to bed?" Jamie asked, almost pleading.
Fionn tilted his head to the side, brows raising as a slow and wicked grin stretched his lips. He leaned that little bit closer, the short distance between them almost an invitation.
"Jamie... are you trying to take me to bed? I had no idea you felt that way about me. I'm flattered," he responded softly, voice carrying enough sincerity in the lilt to make the other freeze and then redden, lips moving in a panic as he realised what he'd said. Watched his panic as he thought that that was the way that the blond had interpreted his words.
The servant snorted, stepping around him as he headed to his own bed, clapping the other on the shoulder hard enough that he hurled him onto the bed that he'd so recently vacated.
"What. An. Idiot. Go to sleep, Jamie, you're good at that. Go hide yourself under the covers and be glad that you can do something right."
Nasty, needless nastiness but it was pleasant, giving him a sense of control that had been distinctly lacking from his life in recent days. In truth, real control and autonomy had been missing from his life for years, if he'd ever had it at all, but in this moment, he felt as if he was the one with the power, the one who knew how to handle things better than the flustered and blushing young man who was indeed ready to burrow under his bedclothes.
Brown eyes flicked to Lars, mouth opening to make what was likely to be a biting remark when a rapid knock came on the door, the quick ratatat of knuckles hitting wood before the portal swung open to reveal... Ayden.
Fionn felt his knees wobble, the grin fleeing from his face as he stood and stared at the towering passive who was the new patron of their wing. He'd had since the previous day to get used to the idea and he still hadn't managed it.
The corner of the older man's mouth quirked up, eyes flicking quickly across the scene as coolly calculating as Fionn remembered even after five years. His nightmares had helped to keep all those little things alive in his memory.
"How're we, lads? I know you'd love to be snuggled up in your beds but I'm here to do a little inspection," Ayden explained, gaze flicking to Jamie who had frozen in bed, eyes fixed on his bedspread as he hoped that trouble wasn't about to be dropped on his head.
The blue eyes moved to Fionn and the smirk broadened into a grin, the patron's demeanour incredibly charming as he stepped forward, shutting the door behind him before moving to drop a hand on Fionn's shoulder, the picture of easy camaraderie.
"Little Fionn! Well, not so little anymore. I wonder if you have anything that you shouldn't have. I've been hearing some interesting things about you."
The blond was torn between wanting to deck him and wanting to drop screaming and sobbing to his knees. Terror lanced through him, the remembrance of the charm and the sinister aspects of his personality that it so often hid. Was he here because he'd heard something about Fionn? Was he here because he knew or suspected something? Was this some trap that had already been set and the young Madden was too late discovering it? He could do that to you, make you feel as if you were several steps behind, that he had caught you before by the time you first learned that you were in danger.
"Be good lads and stand over by the wall there, won't you? If you've anything that you shouldn't have... well, you'd better tell me now, hadn't you? We wouldn't want to start off on the wrong foot and if you show me anything you have then I can let it slide. I know that we all keep little things to make life that little more bearable. I can't blame you for wanting things but if you'll be honest with me, I'll go easy on you," Ayden explained, gesturing to where he wanted them to stand.
So reasonable. His words were so unbelievably reasonable. He was good at making you think that you could be friends. Fionn had no intention of revealing anything but he retreated from the other's grasp, retreating to the wall as directed. Now was not a time that he wanted to be noticed but it was too late for that.
There was a light dancing in those blue eyes, an excitement in his gaze that spoke of the suffering he hoped to witness. Fionn's suffering.