Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
New Years parties had never been a good occasion for Winslow. So far, he was enjoying the end of 1937 and not looking forward to the events of 1938. The world had turned and twisted itself into a bad enough state without having to worry about a deranged American spy who might blurt it all to the press. He knew that he would never really lose his cool but the fear of his superiors was constantly present in his every thought. Twenty years on this horrid planet had taught him that the fears of others would often interfere with whatever confidence he managed to scrounge up.
“So are you enjoying the festivities so far, Lieutenant Smith?”
A hand clapped against his back to follow the gruff Scottish accent. Winslow turned to find Colonel Murray, more accurately Lord Murray, the host of this fine event. The lieutenant had only met the colonel on a few other occasions and he still wasn’t sure what he had done to garner an invitation to an event like this. It was filled to the brim with people from the high societies of every place imaginable. And in terms of high society…well that was something Winslow had never been a member of.
Still he lied, placing a fake smile upon his place as he said, “I’m enjoying it greatly, Colonel Murray. It’s not quite the type of party that I usually invited to though.”
The Scotsman gave a quick nod, clearly knowing the level of society that Winslow spent his time with. They exchanged slight glances for a moment, with the contemplation that only spies can feel. Winslow was wondering whether to say anything about the colonel’s male secretary and the colonel was surely wondering to say anything about Winslow’s seduction of the same male secretary.
“Yes, I do know the kind of parties that you go to Mr. Smith. My secretary, our mutual friend, has taken me to a few of them and shown me the fun that you boys have with all those artsy types.”
The man’s voice hitched a little bit as he commented on his secretary’s social life. Winslow felt a little twinge of guilt for seducing the man for the point of gathering information but he wasn’t allowed to think about it for very long.
“Ah here comes my pride and joy - my namesake and heir to all these grand rights - Maxwell Bruce.”
A young man in kilt had been striding across the great hall in the polar opposite direction to where the two of them were standing until he heard his father’s call. At this call, he took an about turn. Further examination of Maxwell’s face found a near spitting image of the colonel except for a few slight details. Winslow could tell by looking into the kid’s eyes that he was not a carbon copy of his father.
He observed the Colonel welcoming the young man with, “Maxwell, this is my work colleague Winslow. I think you two will get along well together for this party, seeing as you are the two youngest blokes here.”
Maxwell stretched out a hand to Winslow and politely said, “It’s a pleasure to meet your, sir.”
It was the same sort of relation that Winslow had with his own kin folk. It was a dynamic that he could recognize anywhere and it’s how he had made acquaintances over periods of time. He knew in his heart that queers would bond in their shared trauma and that anything bonded in that would absolutely spiral.
The old Scot must have had a fondness for clapping people onto the back as a form of greeting, as he did the same gesture to his son as he did to Winslow.
It took a few moments for Winslow respond to the young man, returning the firm handshake and waited for the continuation of the conversation. When no response came from either of the Murray men, he took the weight of the conversation onto his own responsibility.
“Just before you walked up, Maxwell, your father and I were talking about the types of parties that we’ve been to over our lives. Are you a partygoer yourself?”
Before the young Maxwell had a chance to answer, his father seemed to suddenly remember that there was a conversation to engage in. He quickly released the grasp on both Maxwell’s and Winslow’s shoulders.
“If you two think you can get on without me, I do have other guests to be getting to,” the elder Scot commented as he walked away. “And I better not see either one of you getting into any trouble.”
They both held their tongues as the Colonel walked away and Winslow could see the boredom in Maxwell’s eyes when watching his father move about the room. There was no answer to his inquiry about parties before the boy moved on to a new point of discussion.
“You know, sir, it’s true what they say about the Scots.”
“That you’re all a bunch of cheap bastards?”
“That we don’t wear anything under our kilts,” the young man coyly answered while pulling down the edge of his skirt. The soldier could see the outline of his hip, and an old scar covered up by a shabby tattoo. It sickened him in his stomach to think of this child - that’s all Maxwell was - a child trying to come onto him.
Winslow smacked the young man’s hold on his waistband and reprimanded him saying, “Don’t you dare try a trick like that. With me or anyone else.”
“Ow. What the bloody hell was that for?” Maxwell asked, turning his head up slightly to meet Winslow’s gaze. He continued, “I didn’t do anything wrong - I do know about sex you know. And I know what your type is after I saw you taking my father’s secretary.”
Winslow simply laughed at the young man, taking a drink of his whiskey and soda, and began to carefully formulate a plan for brushing the kid off. He ran his hands through his hair as he kindly stated, “You’re much too young for me and it would be in your best interests not to try that line on the older queers at this party. Some of them might turn out to be inverts that are actually interested in spring chickens like you.”