A/N: I wrote this for a contest that's going on tumblr, with the main character having to be Gilbert with the theme of "family." So this is my entry, that I hope you enjoy -bows- It's been a very long time since I've written out canonverse Gilbert and the first time I'm writing bitty Giru -smiles- I hope it all came out well enough, I'm a bit nervous I didn't do well.
Well, I know Jiri was the one to brainwash Gilbert into the mindset of always obeying the master, revering the master as absolute, etc etc. But at the same time, I think he truly did think of Glen as his first father figure. I mean, have you SEEN how Glen treats Gilbert? At the very least, Glen gave Gilbert his first family, and he loved him and protected him AND JUST HOW FATHER-LIKE HE WAS TO HIM WAS SOMETHING I ALWAYS FOUND TO BE SO CUTE I JUST HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS FOR THIS OKAY -tries to calm down and breathes-
...Thus this fic. If you read, please enjoy -bows again-
A Thousand Nights and A New Sunlight
The man standing before him was an aristocrat just like the rest of them.
Gilbert hated those upper-class people, hated how they looked down on everyone, on children like him; hated how they'd take advantage of him and his little brother, degrade them to trinkets and put out on some display; hated how, in only a matter of days, they'd be on the streets once more, feeling even less than they were before. Gilbert had learned of the sludge-like darkness enveloping the world at such a young age, starting from when his own mother and father tossed their children into that freakshow cage. No adults were trustworthy. No person in the world was, and even Gilbert, the boy who hesitated in abandoning his younger brother, was far from being clean or loyal. No honor, no ties, no love, no family. And everything was truly cold. He did not know what warmth was.
The dark-haired man crouched before him, a red towel in his hands as he lifted it up over Gilbert's head, shaking it gently to dry off his wet hair. Gilbert had just gotten out of the bath, hadn't known what to do in it except sit silently and hope he wouldn't notice if he drowned. His small body swayed a bit as the man finished up drying his hair and then patted down his body. The man was eerily silent - most adults would make some lewd comment or another by now, but the man seemed strangely absorbed in his task.
He left Gilbert shivering there slightly with the towel draped over his form, coming back with a small folded bundle of clothes. Instead of leaving Gilbert to do it however, he crouched back down, ink-black bangs tickling against his cheek as he murmured, "Put your hands on my shoulders."
Gilbert wanted to recoil. Was this some way to get the boy to touch him? He couldn't keep the grimace from his face, and the hateful tears from welling up in his eyes. Better to get it over with. He placed his small hands onto the broad expanse of shoulders, surprised by the firmness of them, no extra or unnecessary fat there, that he could feel every movement of muscle beneath his fingers as the man worked to dress Gilbert. He smoothed the nightgown, crisp and clean and soft over Gilbert's body lightly.
"Yessir," came Gilbert's immediate, conditioned response.
"Please," said the man. He tilted his head, trying to meet Gilbert's gold eyes. Striking violet met dusky gold. "You may simply call me 'Glen'."
That made the small boy pause. No 'master'? No 'sir'? Not even a 'mister'? Wasn't this man supposed to be the master of this place?
That's what Gilbert had heard that other fellow Jack say when he brought the weary, dirty brothers to this large mansion. To not address the master of the household as such...was surely something no one could do, much less a street brat like him, right? It had to be a trick. But 'Glen' seemed nothing but sincere. Gilbert nodded.
With a nod of his own, Glen straightened up, offering his hand to Gilbert, and the boy gingerly took it, his hand completely enveloped in the larger one. As they walked down the mostly empty hallway, Gilbert glanced up at every door they passed. He knew Vincent was in here too, and had also taken a bath of his own, but at the moment not knowing where his little brother was worried him. Being separated in a large place like this was a definite no-no.
"Where's my brother?" he chanced to ask, reassured enough that Glen wouldn't do anything to him for asking.
Glen pointed back behind them. "He's probably still in the bathroom with Jack, washing up," he replied. "Jack is my...friend. Do you remember him bringing you here?"
Gilbert nodded his head. There was barely anything he could recollect when he began to black out, Vincent held tightly in his arms even as he began to fade out. In the haze of shadows, he did recall one blond-haired man, loud and tall, with shimmering green eyes. So he had been the one to bring Vincent and Gilbert here. Surely such a man would not bring them to a bad place. And Glen did seem good, too...
They made it to a room just a little ways down the hallway. Glen opened the door to a clean room, one that didn't seem to occupy anyone. Gilbert glanced around the room, finding dressers and curtained windows. A bed, large and sheets untouched, lay waiting for him. Glen pulled back a layer of sheets and glanced at him patiently. Gilbert shuffled over and awkwardly got himself rolling onto the soft mattress, the sheets a bit cool from no one using them. It was getting well into the night now, and it was now his second night in this place. He and Vincent passed out completely from exhaustion the first time, and slept well into the next day, nearly the afternoon. They had been in a bed together with a maid tending to them, and that's when Jack and Glen had come to begin a slow day of trying to clean up the two brothers - feeding them and bathing them and giving them new clothes.
It looked like tonight however, he'd be sleeping separate from Vincent. He didn't fully trust it, and wasn't comfortable not knowing where his younger brother was. He did suppose though, that if Vincent was still here, and with that Jack, then it should be well...
The sheet was pulled up under Gilbert's chin as soon as the boy laid back. A thick, fluffy blanket soon followed, and gradually Gilbert could feel his body getting warm again. He was staring at Glen intently as the man tucked him in.
Seeing that Glen looked ready to leave, Gilbert unconsciously shot his hand out, gripping the slightly loose sleeve of the man's shirt tightly, holding him back from moving. "Scared," he was able to say, able to actually admit to this aristocratic stranger.
Glen gave him a long look, like he didn't understand Gilbert, but was frantically thinking of how to. His violet eyes glanced to the side in consideration before he blinked, reaching some sort of clarity. "The Baskerville estate is your home now," he declared, reading Gilbert's mind. He turned a bit more towards him, patting the hand on his sleeve gently. "Here, I promise you are safe. There is no one here who would harm you."
Gilbert couldn't help it. Although never quite phrased that way, claims like that were made to him and Vincent all the time. All this would be gone within the week, Gilbert guessed. At the same time though... As he peered into Glen's eyes, they were straightforward and open, even when his expression was somewhat impassive. He seemed like the kind of man who could not hold back lies, and would show them easily on his face.
Glancing down, Gilbert frowned a bit. He did not know what a home was. Surely a home was...some place safe, was it not? A place where he would not have to fend for himself and Vincent.
Glen got up and opened the curtains a bit to let moonlight stream into the room before nodding at Gilbert. "You must be exhausted. I will come by for you and Vincent later in the morning." With a tiny, sincere grin, he said, "For now, please rest your fill." He tucked the sheets a bit more into Gilbert's scrawny form then, satisfied, quietly walked out of the room, closing the door.
There was no sound after it, not even one of a lock turning. For the better part of the night, Gilbert could not sleep. Visions of his past experiences flashed in his mind that made every shadow in the room seem eerily malicious. Still, no one stirred. There were no voices, no footsteps, nothing. The mansion had indeed fallen asleep with the passage of night. And, while fitful, Gilbert eventually did as well.
A day turned to a week. The week turned into a month. A month turned to half a year. Gilbert was now Glen's personal valet - a short little boy carefully walking with full tea trays, carrying around thin stacks of documents back and forth, and accompanying Glen nearly everywhere he went.
Some of the others teased him, especially Jack, who would laugh, "He's like Glen's little duckling!" He said this even as Vincent followed the blond-haired man to and fro, trailing just below his braid. "Our ducklings," Jack corrected, picking Vincent up.
Glen blinked, looking down at Gilbert. He moved over to the other side of the room, and without hesitation, Gilbert followed behind him on short legs. Then Glen turned around and stood by next to Jack. The young raven-haired boy was right on his heels, looking as eager as ever to hear out anything the Baskerville head had to say.
Except Glen wasn't saying anything and he took three long steps to the side. When Gilbert once again followed him, getting a bit confused as to what his master was playing at, he heard a low sound above him, something like amusement. Glen was actually smiling a bit - a rare sight as Glen was usually very composed and placid with his emotions.
"He's happy," Jack commented with a smile. When Gilbert bumped into Glen's leg and the raven man picked him up to gently rub his nose, the blond amended, "They're both happy."
Gilbert, overhearing Jack's words, felt he could not agree more. He felt so privileged - and loved. He did not know much about the word, nor did anyone around him express it in a way a child could understand, but it was still something he felt. And that was good enough, right? He glanced up at Glen with wide eyes, smiling. "Master!" he cried happily.
The raven-haired man blinked in surprise. He had long since stopped correcting Gilbert on how to address him, but smiled wider in pleasure.
This was his master, his true and only master, the only person in the world he'd want to serve wholeheartedly.
Gilbert was such a skittish child.
Everyone knew it - Vincent knew it, Jack teased him for it. But for all his awkwardness, Gilbert could never bring himself to say anything much when he was truly scared. When he really needed the comfort in the dead of night and he'd remember how cold his and Vincent's life used to be, he could not bring himself to whimper anyone's name as he sat up, huddled in a little ball on his bed. It was all he could do to finally gather the courage to roll off into the hallway, and go to the one person who's study room was nearly always open.
This time was no different. A welcoming, calm light spilled out into the hallway from the room. Gilbert peeked inside nervously, aware of how childish this must be, how this had to overstep some sort of boundary he had as a servant, but yet something in the violet eyes that noticed him it was completely fine, that if he stepped in further, he'd be quite safe.
And Glen would never say a word about it. That was the thing Gilbert really loved most about his master. Gilbert could never voice his fears, but he didn't have to with Glen. His master, without fail, always just knew things, and when it came to Gilbert patting through the hallways late at night, there was no need for questions or chastisements when all Glen did was offer his open arms and settle Gilbert onto his lap as he continued working, occasionally stroking through wavy black hair soothingly. Glen never made Gilbert feel like a bother, or that he was doing something wrong as a servant. Even though the young boy was devoted completely to his master and would always do whatever he wished to be the best servant, he never got the feeling Glen particularly minded
this - as if every night he'd be here, ready to chase any uncertainty swelling in Gilbert's small body.
That was the kind of sanctuary his master offered, and Gilbert was eternally grateful for it. And Glen did not hesitate to offer solace. Nights when Gilbert had nightmares, nights when he was scared, nights before that ceremony would come to pass.
"Don't worry," Glen said, rubbing over Gilbert's tiny shoulders. "There are nights when I too cannot sleep."
Glen nodded. "Especially before the ceremony when I began to take on my master's Chains. But the other four ceremonies are much like the first. You'll get used to it."
"And you'll be there?" asked Gilbert hopefully.
"I have to be," replied his master. He smiled, leaning back on his chair slightly and bringing Gilbert with him to lean on his chest. In a gentle, serious but soothing tone, he said, "But not only as your master. If you should ever feel too scared or nervous even then, then I would like you to remember everything is fine."
Gilbert burrowed slightly into the warmth of Glen's body. "Because you're there, Master," the boy concluded firmly. He grinned to himself and Glen's arms cradled him softly in response. Yes, if his master was there, he would not be afraid of anything. Because his master was such a strong man, and had brought him into this loving world, and took care of him with the other Baskervilles - that he could call himself Gilbert Baskerville now, and soon to inherit his master's name.
To succeed this man...and be just as supportive and strong...was undoubtedly the future Gilbert wanted.
Just like...a son...looking up to his...
Every day he woke up and pattered over to Glen's room, opening the door just a creak, peering in to see if the raven-haired man was asleep, but he'd always be awake, greeting Gilbert with a small smile. And every night, he'd tuck Vincent and Gilbert into their beds, tousle their hair and quietly walk out of the room. He protected Gilbert. Took care of him, in a way no one had, aristocrat or otherwise. A strong man, with large, gentle hands and awkward, handsome smile that filled Gilbert's chest with warmth.
And so, was it really so unexpected he'd let it slip sometimes - that word that carried so much love? Gilbert blurted it by mistake once,
after one particularly long day and his gold eyes hazed over with sleep... "Goodnight, Father..." He flushed deeply the next second, apologizing to the wide-eyed Glen, correcting himself and saying "Master" every other word in his flurry of embarrassed words.
But then hands were on his shoulders, steadying him as Glen smiled, embracing him softly. "Goodnight...my son," he murmured into Gilbert's wavy hair. The young boy's cheeks seemed to grow warmer as he hung numbly in Glen's arms, petrified by the loving tone, the sincerity of being referred to so familiarly, and the perpetual kindness of being held like this. Shyly, he smiled too, feeling like for the first time he belonged in a home.
One that would never leave him.
Thank you. I love you best - always.
Ending A/N: Papa Glen makes me happy. Maybe I should write more bitty Giru in the future.