Just then, Mrs Wilson showed in a tall distinguished looking man in his early sixties.
"I'm Doctor Knox. I was a GP, but I can see why you need my services as a police doctor. I'm going to hazard a guess, a family member assaulted you and it wasn't the first time."
As Will nodded, Rick asked, "How did you know?"
"I was unprofessional in voicing an opinion before making an examination but if the young man removes the rest of his clothes, then we would see bruising on his thighs and maybe lash marks on his buttocks. I know that Richard intended to rescue a young man, and a gang would not worry about leaving visible marks. Hidden injuries, indicates a history of family abuse which they try to cover up."
"You saw this as rescuing me. You think I can't look after myself?" Will yelled, struggling to his feet.
"Didn't you know Richard was worried about you?" Doctor Knox asked.
Will nodded, "I knew."
"And you believe these are just the knocks and bangs you expect in family life."
Will nodded again.
"Do you accept I know what I'm talking about?"
Will paused, thinking, but nodded cautiously.
"When I was a police doctor, I had to follow strict procedures to protect evidence, to avoid jumping to conclusions, all sorts of things. I'm retired, so I should recommend you go to hospital and in their turn, they would strongly urge you to call the police. If you refuse, I can examine you and decide whether we need an ambulance, and a boat to get you to the mainland. In an emergency, we can arrange a helicopter. Would you consent to an examination before we discuss your options?"
"Why are you taking a few bruises so seriously?" Will asked, "I'm OK."
"Raise your arms above your head."
"I can't. Rick knows, it hurts too much."
"Best case, it's muscle bruising and will heal. Worst case, it's a cracked or broken rib. A splinter could be damaging your lung which will lead to an infection which will kill you. It's highly improbable, but it does happen."
Will looked suitably worried, beginning to believe his injuries were wrong. He was not ready to accept his father had assaulted him, but the doctor's calm authoritative way of speaking was persuading him something was wrong.
"Do I have to go to your surgery?" he asked.
"I'm retired, so I don't have one. If you're willing to take the rest of your clothes off, I could do it here. I would prefer it in front of witnesses, but we can find somewhere private if you prefer."
"It just seems weird stripping in here. It's a stately home and all posh."
"Richard says you like history." Sebastian said, "If you read about the castle's history, a medical exam will seem very tame. Richard, why don't you get undressed first, and doctor, why don't you show Will what he can expect. I'll wait outside and make sure Mrs Wilson doesn't disturb you."
"It's still weird." Will said, "Doctors don't do that."
"I'm here as a neighbour hoping for a few glasses of wine and a chat later on. I can demonstrate medical techniques to a couple of interested teenagers and if I spot something I can suggest they go to a medical practice." Dr. Knox said, "I do know of kids dying on the street because the system was too professional and too clinical, not seeming to understand their problems, so I'm willing to be a little unorthodox if it reassures you."
Will nodded, "I'm being a stupid baby again, aren't I?"
"No. You are not." Dr. Knox said firmly, "You are in a strange place dealing with strangers, so you have a right to be cautious and to be sure you can trust us."
Will looked to Rick, "I'm sorry, but all kids get roughed up a bit, don't they?"
Rick stood up and pulled off his shirt, "How about it, Doctor? Have I ever been?"
"Why don't you take the rest off?" Doctor Knox said, "Let's check you out properly."
Rick raised his eyebrows, "Now it's getting weird for me."
"I moved here about three years ago after my wife died." Dr. Knox explained, "My three children are scattered around the world, and I rarely see them. At first, I was shocked by the attitudes here, especially what I saw on the pontoon, and I tried to get enough to take to the authorities. One day, a father brought his son to see me. The boy was thirteen, becoming sexually active and while the boy lived on a farm, and the father had done the usual talk, the father wanted me to check him over and explain the risks more. The boy wanted a phone and intended trying his luck on the pontoon to earn the money. It was my first real encounter with the island's openness and tolerance, and at that moment I was more than just shocked."
Rick grinned, "I can believe it."
"Kids here like their privacy, and want to get up to mischief just as they do everywhere else, but the generational divide is much weaker. Whatever they get up to today, their parents were doing it a generation ago and here, they admit it. I assume I said all the right things, and I also managed to discuss other health issues such as testicular cancer. By the time we were finished, the boy was naked, the father had his trousers and underwear down while we chatted over a cup of tea. It was as they were leaving it got really crazy. The father got dressed, but the boy stayed undressed and said, 'I'll stay and thank Dr. Knox for his time'."
Will was listening, staring wide-eyed, while Rick was far less startled as Dr. Knox concluded, "What really got to me was, I was interested. Physical contact with another human seemed very attractive, but I managed to decline, saying I wasn't used to island ways yet. It was fine, the boy got dressed, and they left. I did get a big hamper of food the next day. Nowadays, I'm some sort of health and sex guru. Let's just say I've relaxed, and some of my activities could get me struck off, but I seem to be part of the island economy. I rarely pay for anything and if I need an electrician or someone, someone arrives and gets on with it, and I never get billed. Going back to Will's bruises. It might be a family matter, but here, no-one would speak to the father, trade with him or even serve him in the shops. Girls are just as liberated, and I do talk about birth control, and the myths surrounding it. The big difference is, girls are not allowed to thank me, but the food hampers seem bigger though. Children are protected, but it's geared around youngster's choices."
"It sounds a bit sexist though. Boys have more freedom." Rick chuckled.
"True but I'm focussing on boys because you're gay. Be warned, there's a good few girls planning on trapping you so they become the next countess. Will seems more relaxed so shall we continue?"
When Sebastian returned a little later, both boys were completely naked but engaged in checking each other's pulse, temperature and blood pressure. They listened to each other's chest and watched as the other checked for lumps. Dr. Knox saw Sebastian and strolled over.
"So, a tutoring session, and not a medical." Sebastian chuckled, "They seem to be enjoying it. Any thoughts?"
"Rick is fine, as healthy as they come. Will needs a lot of TLC. He's a little undernourished, and there's a lot of surface damage. Spleen, liver and kidneys seem OK, but I'd still like him monitored for a week or so. He's had broken bones in the past, but I think it's all bruising, today. He should go to hospital for proper tests, but he's so terrified of his father finding him, it'll be difficult getting him off the island. His state of mind isn't at its best, so he's also worried about upsetting his father by staying. His behaviour may be somewhat erratic, and I'd recommend counselling with a full mental assessment. Again, feeling safe on the island could be the best therapy and if some of its openness rubs off on him, he won't be bottling things up. I repeat, it's not what I'd recommend, but I'm not concerned enough to make an issue of it."
"Thanks. How's Seb doing?"
"Staying safe. He visits regularly, and he's got a thing about being examined. You can guess what he wants examined the most, but he seems happy enough if I fit in regular medical checks."
"I can think of worse fetishes." Sebastian laughed, "I'm thinking of this erratic behaviour, you mentioned, and I'm concerned for Richard's well-being."
"I cannot possibly offer an opinion. It would need a professional team holding a series of meetings to determine his true state of mind. The change could be enough therapy, or it could be anything from bed-wetting to severe temper tantrums. There could be problems tonight or in a few weeks, depending on how he processes events. Youngsters can be extremely resilient, so I'm not that concerned. Let's see how it goes."
Rick glanced at Sebastian, "I suppose we'd better get dressed."
Sebastian shrugged, "I've warned the staff. I don't want to be rude, but I wonder how long Will has been wearing those clothes. Dr. Knox and I are going to adjourn to the library for some adult fun: a nice bottle or two of Chablis and a game of chess. The café will be closing soon, so order something and just slip something on to collect it. I'll have some clothes sent up from the shop tomorrow morning, and we should start planning for Will to stay permanently. For tonight, even in summer, a glow from the fire and the rug in front of it, make for a romantic setting."
Rick grinned, "Thanks. What do you want to eat, Will."
"A packet of crisps, if that's all right."
"I'm having steak and chips, and maybe a half bottle of wine. How about having the same and saving the crisps for after." Rick asked.
Will stared wide-eyed again, "I'm all right. I don't want to be a nuisance."
"Be honest, Will. Are you hungry?"
"OK. I can't remember what else is on the menu so have you got anything against steak?"
"Only it's so expensive."
Rick smiled, "Will, relax. Your dad was always going on about you earning your keep, wasn't he? Well, you can do that here, by helping me. You're the only guy I could ever talk to, and I didn't even admit I was gay to you. You tried and got a hiding from your Dad. Suddenly I'm here, and if I'm gay or anything else, no-one is going to bully me. I sill need a friend I can talk to, and he'd be worth a lot more than a steak and chips."
Will stepped forward and kissed Rick, passionately, on the lips and Rick felt his tongue probing. Just as suddenly Will stepped back looking nervous.
"That was nice. How about we slip our jeans back on and head for the bedroom." Rick paused, "You do want to sleep with me, don't you?"
"I've been jerking off to you since I started. I always liked the view in the changing room."
"OK! That's a yes then. Forget what Sebastian said. Let's get dressed, and head for the bedroom. I'll sort the food, and you can have a shower if you want, then we've got all night."
It was too much of an effort for Will to put his shirt on, but they made it to the bedroom as Rick suggested. It was a novelty to sit on the floor to eat, resting against the bed, chatting. Rick reached out to touch Will's thigh and Will wriggled in closer. It was time to get on the bed. As Will relaxed, so he moved around more, and the grimaces showed Rick how much it hurt. They managed to snuggle into each other, gently kissing, their groins rubbing each other. Rick was responding, his growing cock trapped between their bodies when he realised that Will was fast asleep. Rick's arm was wrapped around Will's back while Will's arm was resting on top, crooked to hold Rick's shoulder. Rick was trapped.
Frustrated, Rick's manhood wilted, but then he saw the humour of the situation and finally, tried to understand. Will had always seemed a little withdrawn and tired; Rick guessed it was always being on his guard, looking out for his father. For once, he had a full stomach, the single glass of wine had relaxed him, and he felt the warmth of another human. His body was getting something it needed more than anything: rest.
Rick contented himself with the pleasant tingles from his manhood and dozed expecting Will to turn or move so that Rick could lay back. He dozed fitfully and each time he woke, Will seemed to be holding him more tightly; his legs draped over Rick's more, his body resting on Rick's more and his arm pulling Rick closer.
There was more. Neither had realised it, but they had loved each other for a long time. It was buried by the pressures to conform; to avoid the attention of gangs on the estate, the school bullies and Will's father. Rick's mother was impatiently waiting for him to bring home his first girlfriend, and it had always seemed like the normal thing to do. Feeling the warmth of a person who meant so much to him felt so good he was reluctant to move and spoil it.
And so they spent the night. Not in the passionate sex that Sebastian expected but in an emotional embrace that bonded them together.
When they woke in the morning, both boys were erect and eager but just as they kissed, Will's stomach rumbled, and it was loud enough for both boys to giggle.
"Sorry." Will said, "I'm so hungry this morning. I don't know why."
Neither boy guessed it was because his body had made use of the long peaceful sleep to repair itself, but Rick, shrugged, and they got up. Rick felt a thrill as he helped Will shower and dress in some of Rick's clothes but Rick had to admit, Will looked even sexier that morning. His eyes were brighter, he had more colour and his body, always lean and muscular, seemed sharper … Rick could not find the word … beautiful, handsome, but Rick liked it. The cafe was quiet, the first ferry had not arrived, as they sat with Sebastian.
"Good morning boys." Sebastian said, "Richard, I'd like you to try your hand at being Lord of the Manor today. Dave Welton is complaining that tourists are taking shortcuts to the North Tower and damaging his fences. He's not ready to take a shotgun to them, but he's running out of politeness. I've also had a phone call from your cousin Ryan. It should have gone to you but reception still switches everything to me, and I let you sleep. He wants to spend the summer spying on us."
"Eh? What do you mean?" Rick asked.
"It seems he has a choice. Spend the summer on a boat with his brother or find somewhere else to stay. It seems, getting the low-down on us, swung it with his father."
"What do you think?" Rick asked.
"I thought I was going to get some rest, but I seem to be surrounding myself with a bunch of horribly boisterous teenagers. If you agree, it may cramp your style a bit. I know we're open-minded here, but you'll have to be careful not to impose your ways on him."
"What do think, Will?"
"I don't know, you're the boss."
"Yes, I am, but it's all new stuff for me. Ryan's twelve so Sebastian is right, we can't be boyfriends around him, and we can't leave him on his own all the time. Can we handle it?"
Will nodded, "You said you wanted me to help, so I will. We'll look after him."
"Thank you, Will." Sebastian said, "He's the best of that bunch. Now, it's your turn. You need to see a medic, and a photographer if you want to stay. We need evidence to justify us kidnapping you so we need proof of your bruising. Then you should go shopping. You can get the basics in the village shop. Just introduce yourself to Mrs Hargreaves, and she'll bill the castle."
"How do you mean?" Will asked.
"You're on the castle books." Sebastian explained, "You're only fifteen and should still be at school so everyone will assume the castle is responsible for you. It'll save a lot of problems if you just go with the flow."
"Yes, but I can't spend all your money. It's not fair."
"I know Richard insists on dressing like a tourist, but his clothes still need to look clean and fresh. I'm afraid we expect the same standards from permanent guests, so you need several changes. If you like, we supply the uniform we expect you to wear."
Will nodded, "I get it. Thanks."
"Will. I've seen how you two look at each other. I'm starting to think you'll be a resident, putting it as delicately as I can, the Lord of the Manor's companion. We'll have to discuss your own income from the estate but for now it'll cause problems if you see yourself as some orphan receiving handouts."
Rick was impressed. Will never took anything he thought of as charity, refusing to scrounge for everything he could, the way his father did. Sebastian had almost made it a duty to accept their help and Will was far happier ordering egg, bacon and waffles for breakfast then to Sebastian's amazement ordering two more rounds. Admittedly, he was a little slow and sluggish as they set out for the village but by the time they got there, Rick was struggling to keep up.
"Hang on, where do we go?" Rick asked, "Did Dr. Knox tell you?"
"No, I thought you knew. Can you ring someone."
"I'll ask the postman." Rick chuckled, leaving Will uncertain what the joke was.
"Sheila's waiting for you. She's the vet at the end of the road."
"The what?" Will exclaimed, and the postman laughed.
"Vet is her day job." He explained, "She's also a trained first aider and has a small room at the back for humans. Be careful, jokes about her wondering whether your nose is dry, have worn a little thin over the years."
"This place is weird." Will said as they walked on, "It sounded as if the postman knew all about me. I don't fancy being seen by a vet."
"He probably does." Rick replied, "Let's see if she pats you on the head and says 'Good boy', before she lifts on the table."
Will punched him on the arm. It was a passer-by who directed them down an alley to a comfortable little room with easy chairs, and a coffee machine. Posters on the walls were about human health which was reassuring. A woman in her fifties bustled in. She handed Will a package.
"There're gloves, two small containers and dipsticks," she said briskly, "If you can control the flow then just pee onto the sticks one at a time. Otherwise, use one container to pee in, and the other to stand the sticks. The toilet's through there. Put all the used stuff back in the bag and drop it in the bin. Bring the sticks out to me."
"They're not much more than home testing kits, but they're quite reliable." Sheila said to Rick while they were waiting, "Like all medics on the island, my first recommendation is he goes to the hospital. It's not always practical, so we do the best we can. In your friend's case, Dr. Knox isn't worried and although he doesn't mention it, he did several years in Accident & Emergency. He had a particularly stressful time and when the panic attacks started, he had to give it up. The point is, if he's not worried, then I'm not."
Will was cheerful when he returned, handing over the sticks which Sheila duly examined.
"Glucose — none which is as it should be. UTIs — none again as it should be. White blood cells, the one Dr Knox is worried about — None. What colour is your pee?"
"Yellow, I suppose." Will replied.
"Good. Now let's examine your chest. Any pains or soreness?"
Rick watched as she used her stethoscope, felt Will's ribs, much in the same way as Dr. Knox had. Satisfied, she said, "Now for the awkward bit. The only scales I have are in the surgery. Would you mind?"
"Don't say a word." Will growled at Rick's grin, but he was cheerful when he came back.
"I can't see any problem, but remember, I'm just a vet. Two of the urine tests were for diabetes and urinary tract infections and you're clear of those. The last test was for blood and again it was clear. You can have some of those blood dipsticks and test yourself twice a day. See Dr. Knox if there're any signs of trouble. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine. See Dr. Knox if anything changes, but the only reason you need to come back is, so I can listen to your chest."
"Thanks, Doctor." Will said.
"Only the island cattle are allowed to call me doctor." Sheila smiled, "In here, I'm just Sheila. Anyway, let me welcome you both to the island, it's good to have a landlord that does things our way. You'll have to see Dr. Knox if you want advice about safe sex. My expertise is artificial insemination, and I'm not sure it's what you need."
"Does everyone know about us?" Will asked once they were on the street again."
"Probably. Let's go see if the photographer doubles as the undertaker."
It was not the undertaker. Instead, they found themselves in a shop that most seaside resorts had back in the fifties, but with a slight difference; it also sold memorabilia, including the sort of saucy postcards and other materials no-longer considered politically correct. There was also a door marked, Over eighteens only, please ask at the till for a token .
"Kids come in here, buy a bucket and spade and don't understand why so many adults come in here. I've got a studio, and I can do you a nice family portrait. It's quite secure so, I can build your portfolio as a porn star. Mr. Clements would like to be present and take a statement as well have you fill out various forms."
"Who is Mr. Clements?" Rick asked.
"He's a retired solicitor. He's also a photographer and gets access to places barred to the public in exchange for a little legal help."
"Is everything done on the barter system?" Rick asked.
"Let's just say, the taxman thinks we're a cash-poor, downtrodden community."
"And I get the blame for being a mean feudal landlord." Rick chuckled.
"I'm afraid so, My Lord. Your friend Alan is down on the beach. We're looking after his family for you."
"Thanks, I might join them. I could do with a swim." Rick replied
"You'd better deal with Dave Welton first. He's a good man, and he's got a wicked sense of humour, but if something gets him riled, we all need to watch out."
"OK! How do I get there?"
"The easiest way is by train."
"I'll go and find Alan, then come back for you, Will." Rick said,
Alan's father was surprisingly friendly.
"I've got to know some of the islanders." he said, "They're an odd bunch, aren't they?"
"You could make a TV series about the place." Rick replied, "My job seems to be seeing they carry on doing things their way. In return, I get treated like a celebrity. It's all barter here."
"I was pretty rude about you, the other day, at least I didn't know it was you then, but either way, I'm sorry. Mary's loving her holiday now."
"I'm glad. I've got to go by train to find a farmer who's got problems with his fences. I thought I might take a look at the North Tower and have a look around. Do you want to come, Alan?"
"Yeah, sure. Why don't you ask him, Dad?"
"No. Don't interfere, son."
"Too late." Rick chuckled, "What's up."
"Dad's worked as a storeman and was a manager. Then the warehouse was taken over, and it all became zero hours contracts. There's a warehouse here, and it's looking for a manager. Islanders don't like the job because it means dealing with the mainland. I don't get it, but everyone seems to think Dad would walk into it."
"I'm starting to get how this place works, and dealing with the mainland, you'd have to use money and pay taxes for a start." Rick said, "I don't know how to hire anyone, so just apply, and I won't get involved. Alan can tell me how you're getting on, and we'll take it from there. How does that sound?"
"Very fair. You're saying I won't be popular if I take it."
"Talk to people. They look after my friends, so use that to really work it all out. I've got to go. Coming Alan? You can meet Will."
Although the island was proud of its railway, Rick had never seen it except from the air. With the island crescent shaped, it was possible to walk across its width in an hour or so. Walking its length would take seven or eight hours so the trains ran along its length. It still provided the practical purpose of carrying goods between farms and the harbour though it was also a tourist attraction complete with steam engines. A suitably dressed man wearing a hat bearing the legend: Stationmaster , greeted them, proudly showing them around. It looked like a mainline station in miniature. Platforms bounded a double track at one end disappearing into a tunnel while the other into open farmland. On the far side of the platforms were sidings full of rolling stock and at the open end of the platform was an engine shed and what he assumed to be workshops. Already a few tourists were following the tour before visiting the museum and cafeteria.
"We run steam trains in the afternoon, complete with engine and carriages, but you'll be using an island car." the stationmaster said, leading them to a trolley. In fact there was a siding full of them. They had a cab for two and a flat bed behind.
"Every farm has one, and most have a barn beside a siding nowadays. We don't let the tourists know because it spoils the old-fashioned feel, but everything on the line has GPS. If you have a smart phone, you can download our app, and you can enter your destination. If you're visiting Dave Welton, you need West-3"
"You sound as if we're going to drive it." Rick said.
"You are. You should take a test to use it when tourist trains are running, but there's time before the first one. Who's driving?"
"Will, if he wants to." Rick said, turning to Will, "You get fed up, not being able to do things. Maybe your ribs won't hurt if you try this."
Will smiled, but glanced at Alan and the stationmaster, "It's only a few things, I can't do."
"Bruised ribs can mess up anyone's sex life unless you just want to lay back and enjoy it." The stationmaster replied, "It must be really frustrating when you've just found each other."
Will blushed a deep scarlet. He had been thinking of swimming and football. Rick also blushed a little, but he was getting used to the island. Alan just giggled.
Rick and Alan were content to sit on the flat bed behind the cab and watch the world go by, and Rick's instinct was right. Leaving Will to drive did a lot for his confidence. He watched as they passed West-1 then West-2, then the signal lights beside the track indicated he was going to pull into a siding. He slowed down and cautiously drove onto the siding stopping well short of another car.
They stepped out onto a platform the same height as the flat bed behind which was a barn. A little way up a path was a farmhouse a man was just leaving. Rick guessed it was Dave Welton.
Dave waited until they reached him, bobbed his head and said, "Welcome, My Lord."
He grinned and added, "I know, you prefer Rick, but you're here as chairman of the farmer's committee."
"In other words, I'm here for you to have a go at me, and when I agree with you allow the tourist people to have a go." Rick chuckled, "Let's have a look."
The field in question was on a promontory which jutted out to sea. The tourist path skirted three sides and tourists were tempted to take a shortcut across the field.
"The obvious question, why don't you allow a footpath across?" Rick asked.
"It's good summer grazing, so it's got cows and sheep when all the tourists are here. They're townies and can jump out of the way of a bus, but get nervous when old Bessie gets curious. They forget about keeping dogs on leads, so you can get a mixture of panicking cattle and folk who don't know what to do."
"OK! So you need a stronger fence and Keep Out signs." Rick said.
"Yes, but the tourist lot say it's unfriendly and spoils the atmosphere."
"How about making the fence look like a fort complete with cannon." Will asked, "You know, make a bit of fun of it."
"Who pays for the extras? I suppose the tourist committee would stump up." Dave said.
"I guess I'm the chairman of that, too. Don't put up Dogs must be kept on a lead signs. Say, 'Dogs stampede cattle. Stampeding cattle kill people'. I'm thinking I didn't understand the problem so neither do holidaymakers."
Dave Welton nodded, "It makes sense. As long as I've got your approval, I'll see what Freddie says."
They chatted for a while then left Dave to visit the tower."
"Who's Freddie?" Will asked.
"I've got no idea." Rick replied, "I think I've said they could spend some money and now they'll get on with it."
"Whose money?" Will asked.
"Mine probably." Rick laughed.
"Weird." Alan said, "How many committees do you run?"
"I don't know. I'm guessing other farmers have similar problems so Dave is going to chat to someone on the tourist side. Let's have a look at the tower."
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