Note: Slightly AU, but it depends on how you see things.
Rating: T for a few sexual descriptions
IT STARTED early, with no brothers or sisters to trust or torment, only child, watching through the windows, waiting for Mother and Papa's carriage nearly every night. Mother was beautiful, Mother loved parties, Mother spent entirely too much money and nearly put the estate into a panic, but no one spoke of that. Papa was dignified. He wore smooth navy blue trousers and never obstructed matters of business. Papa was good at making deals with gentlemen for trade, and work and deals, but as young Cutler soon found out, standing at attention at the top of the staircase one gloomy night, Papa was good at making deals with women, too. But these women were unlike Mother—they dressed crassly and had dark eyes and wore the fashions of the last decade, and so Cutler decided that Mother must be missing something they had, and he grew to believe that everyone had at least one thing to give, and that his purpose in life would be to get it.
From all of them.
Some people had ravishing good looks, and some had trinkets, some had wonderful stories and some had a talent for dancing. Some women had the most lovely thighs and some men were just so innocent. And Cutler Beckett wanted to reap all of their benefits. People were simply useful little dolls! It greatly amused and excited him.
Papa would never understand how much better at making deals his son was than he, because Papa wouldn't understand how to make the same deals with men that one does with women. It was all part of the process. Beckett did not count himself as one of those man-lusting pansies that hovered drunk by the seaside, only able to find love after dark. Beckett wasn't making deals with men necessarily because he liked men. He was making deals with anyone who had something nice to offer him.
But he did have a certain interest in men, he supposed. He liked how crude and crooked they could be. He liked clefts in chins and weak stuttering, strong shoulders and war wounds. He watched Papa's friends striding through the estate, making dull conversation and sucking brandy. So naturally, he started hanging by the sea when he turned thirteen. He had a docile, prim appearance that he soon discovered was the preference of many men. He could make himself look much more unfortunate than he was.
His first beau was a gentleman named Richard. Richard had sad eyes and leathery hands, and was older than Cutler's father. "How much many do you want?" Richard asked desperately as Cutler sat cross-legged near the docks, pretty, with the other boys.
Cutler looked him up and down. "Only thirty guineas," he said sweetly.
Soon after, Lord Richard was taking him in, and calling him a cherub, and a sweet angel. Cutler bit his tongue to keep from laughing.
After Richard, there was Bartholomew, and with Bartholomew there came Winston. None of them as rich or as privileged as Cutler, and all of them years older. But that was just fine. If they wanted a lowly urchin prostitute to pamper, Cutler was willing to grant them that, for a few coins and all of their hearts.
A TASTE IN THE MOUTH
But women were sweeter, left a better taste in the mouth, not as gnarled and reproachful. Cutler liked women because they didn't blame him for being a cruel savage; they seemed to adore him more for it. He realised at an early age that women played all the same mind games he did, but on a smaller scale. And even though he was a tradesman and a man's man, Beckett would always feel completely comfortable around women. Men who fretted about women being "strange" or "mysterious" bored him. Women were completely understandable.
Around the age of sixteen, Beckett returned to the estate after another year at boarding school to find that his parents were hosting a most honorable party. He'd always been well-appreciated for his good manners and proper ways by adults. But this time, it was all of his mother's friends that especially noticed him . A Miss Abigale Stenton laughed at all of his jokes. She looked bored with the festivities. She was only in her mid-twenties, after all. And Beckett was sixteen now, a suitable marrying age. A suitable fucking age?
He told her he had an interesting collection of drawings, scientific drawings, that his father had bought for him at an auction. This was partly true—they were not all that interesting. But Father knew Beckett loved the sea, and so it was a thoughtful gift, well-made sketches of waterfowl, fish, barnacles, etchings of pirate coins. ('One day I'm going to have a pirate coin,' Beckett had thought, tracing his finger over the lovely drawing at age fifteen. Then he smirked deeply and corrected himself: "No. I'm going to have a pirate.")
However, the time given with Miss Stenton had nothing to do with that, that would come later, Beckett was sure of it. For now, though, it was Miss Stenton, and her very tricky bodice, and her nipples and his finger.
"Cheeky thing," she called him afterward, resting her hand on his hair like he was a good dog.
"Thing?" he spat. "Thing?" This was not a good trade. This was not good business.
From that point on, Cutler was careful about what he did and how he did it. Everything was meticulous. He was always on top. He never would show face. He learned how to lie. He learned how to spit, though he only did so once. He thought about buying himself a whore, but he couldn't stop cringing and instead polished his favourite pair of boots. Everything needed to be in order. Everything needed to be clean, and Cutler Beckett would always be in charge—that was how good business went.
Lord Cutler Beckett, age thirty-two, does not believe in friends, but rather proper enemies.
"The sort of enemy you can laugh with and hold so very dear to your heart," he says crisply over his daily tea to whatever servant will listen. He knows he receives odd glances behind his back. He knows that the household staff refers to him as being "more than a little bit flouncy." It's no large matter. He'd rather drink his tea alone, anyhow.
Or with his enemies.
His enemies are interesting people. As of this month, they consist of:
1. a Bayou witch with earthy smelling thighs (voodoo is Ungodly but she has so many cures for humanity; he's seeing if she can convince him to let it slide)
2. a governor with a rather ridiculous grey wig, a sad stuttering way, and a very precious little girl ( he's being too lenient but Beckett's waiting to see whether little Miss grows into anything trade-worthy)
3. an awful-smelling, dreadlocked drunk fright with a strange way about him, muscular arms and a nasty, nasty so-called "profession" (Beckett raised the hot brand, pressed his groin into the pirate's back and enjoyed the sizzling noise of human flesh)
Proper enemies are like friends, if you have a sick enough attitude. Stick your chin up high. Take what you can, and never surrender.
If everything goes down in flames, Beckett smiles, "you must go down with your ship."
"Yes sir," curtsies Charlotte, head maid, and then runs from the room, trying to keep in her giggles. The door shuts. "He's mad, he's mad!" she says loudly, apparently thinking being on the other side of the door makes her quieter.
Beckett purses his lips and brings the fine teacup to his mouth. He takes a long sip, lowers the cup and daintily wipes his mouth. "A fine import," he declares. "Very good business."