James was alone in his quarters. Gloriously, exhaustedly, finally alone. After what felt like a death march of a day. Francis’s unbridled drinking was doing nothing for his already shredded nerves. Especially when he had to effectively captain two ships in his stead.
“Selfish fool,” he muttered, leaning his forehead against his glass of wine.
Even at the end of the day, he could hardly settle himself. He stayed up late into the evening and his thoughts never seemed to stop. Sometimes, amongst his ruminations about food stores and the unyielding clutch of the ice, a thought about Harry would flicker through his mind like a will-o’-the-wisp. And it was a balm to his tense psyche.
Even as he sat there in the solitude and silence, the thought of the young surgeon made the pressure in his limbs loosen. Thinking about Harry Goodsir had become something of a favoured pastime of his in recent times. And since the night they’d kissed, his thoughts seemed to heat up far more rapidly when he did. It felt almost… obscene to think of Harry in the manner he did. Sweet, kind Harry who had squirmed and gasped underneath him so delightfully. But he couldn’t help himself. Having Harry in his arms had made his idle fantasies all the richer and more delicious.
He wanted to put his hands all over the man; he wanted to hear him moan and beg for him to take him. He gave a soft groan himself in his seat and sat back, spreading his knees apart. Heat and tension settled between his hips and sunk downwards. He rubbed his palm over himself absently and drained his glass. He put it down on the table with a clunk.
A knock rattled the door. James looked up with a sigh. What now?
“Yes?” He hoped his tone of voice communicated his lack of desire to be interrupted.
The door inched open slowly with the forcefulness of a mouse. James’s brow furrowed increasingly irritably until he saw who it was.
“Goodsir.” He hastily closed his legs and sat up straight in his chair. “I’m sorry. I thought it was someone come to tell me the ship was on fire.”
Harry smiled, decidedly nervously. “I didn’t mean to interrupt—”
James laughed humourlessly. “Harry, yours is the only company I could abide tonight.”
“Oh!” Harry blushed in an achingly endearing manner. “Well, I…”
James gestured to the seat next to him. “Would you like a drink?”
Harry shook his head, but quickly took the seat. “If I drink wine, I’m sure I’d just fall asleep.” He faced James and the precious blush in his cheeks intensified.
James wondered, not for the first time, how someone so sensitive in spirit, so soft in every line of his face and body could have ended up on this doomed, damned excursion. He should have been somewhere in London with a lover petting him and feeding him bonbons. Though he supposed that would have been a terrible waste of his intellect. Still…
“I came to see you because…” Harry put his hands on the table and fiddled awkwardly with his sleeve. He seemed to be avoiding James’s eye. “I…” He grimaced. “I feel like a fool.”
Almost swooning at the unbridled guilelessness of the man, James was almost overcome with the desire to gather him into his arms and take him to bed. He had had many lovers in his life, but never had he ever been so fascinated and enthralled by a man as he was by Harry. His intelligence, his compassion, his bravery to follow his heart in all matters. He was… remarkable.
He wondered if the covetous hunger was rather too obvious in his eyes, because Harry could hardly look at him without flushing darker. James tried to get himself under control. The last thing he wanted was to frighten him away.
“The other evening...” Harry furled and unfurled his fingers. “It was ah,” he swallowed. “Well, it was wonderful.” He met his eye bashfully. “But I haven’t seen you since. I thought perhaps…” He trailed off and worried his lip.
James realised abruptly what he was getting at. It had never occurred to him that Harry might think he was avoiding him. But it seemed perfectly obvious that he did. That he feared James had toyed with his emotions and then returned to his duties without a care. He saw now an edge of tension and hurt to his eyes.
James couldn’t move fast enough to take his hands in his. Harry jumped and his eyes fluttered in surprise.
“You thought I was done with you?” James said with a soft laugh. He placed a hand against Harry’s cheek. “The only thing that kept me from thinking of you, wanting you every moment was Francis’s damn neglect of his ship. It’s left me a right mess of work.”
He felt Harry practically melt into his touch. With relief as much as anything else.
“I’m a fool,” he mumbled. “I just… Romance isn’t something I’m entirely familiar with. Of course— Of course, you were busy.” He shook his head against James’s palm.
James leant closer to him, moving his hand to the nape of Harry’s neck and stroking his thumb across his skin. Harry shivered. “Were you thinking of me?” He couldn’t help a purr creeping into his voice.
Harry exhaled in a shaky breath and leant unconsciously closer to James. “Every moment. Every patient.” His voice was breathless. His pretty mouth was eagerly ajar. “Hickey noticed. He thinks I have a secret lover.” His laugh had an unusual edge of derision to it.
James felt himself tense at the thought of the man whose lashing they’d witnessed not that long ago. “Jealous, no doubt,” he said, eyes fastened to Harry’s mouth. He shook the unwanted thoughts from his mind and closed the last inch between them to claim it.
Harry’s arms circled his neck, pulling him closer to him and deepening the kiss. James was surprised and thrilled by the show of initiative. Harry was clearly growing a little in confidence. Or, at least, was flustered enough that his need for James outweighed his shyness.
James trailed his hand down Harry’s torso to the space between his legs. He experimentally stroked the front of his breeches. Harry gasped and clutched him tighter. A response that he assumed signalled his approval.
Harry clutched the lapels of James’s coat and clambered almost into his lap. “James. James,” he panted his name like a mantra. “I’ve wanted… So badly.”
James smiled against his mouth. “I know, sweet thing. I have too.”
Harry was still a novice at kissing, so he had a certain messy eagerness that transported James back to the heady days of his youth. He gave up his mouth to Harry’s experimental licks and nudges. It was only too much of a pleasure to be the man’s plaything to practice on. He pulled Harry closer to him, the hand between them pressing harder against Harry’s front.
Harry broke away to whimper and pushed himself into James’s hand. “I feel so…” He breathed shakily.
James rested his forehead against his, stroking the back of his neck. “Come to bed with me,” he breathed. “I must have you.”
Never in his life had he ever been so alight with lust. With just kisses and touches, he was wound up so tightly he could hardly order his thoughts. He didn’t know if it was the oppressiveness of the landscape, the length of time they’d been trapped or the intensity of his feelings for Harry, but it was coursing through him like water.
Harry was fiercely flushed. “I haven’t…” He trailed off bashfully.
James hastened to clarify his words. “There are things other than that.” He nuzzled into Harry’s temple. “Let me show you.”
Harry was still for a moment and then nodded. James stood and tugged him up with him. Harry gave him a nervous smile and clung onto his hand.
They were barely through the cabin door when Harry was kissing him again. James nudged the door closed behind his back and leant against it, pulling Harry to him. He couldn’t help smiling into Harry’s enthusiastic kisses. It seemed to him that the man was just as het up as he was. The air seemed to seethe with their hunger for each other.
James felt for the buttons on Harry’s breeches. Clumsily, he tugged at them and steered him backwards towards the berth. Harry broke away with a gasp when James finally got his buttons loose and tore them open.
“God, you’re beautiful,” James said, his tone reverent.
Before Harry could reply, he pushed him down onto the bed. James sat down beside him, unbuttoning his own breeches with a heated smirk. Harry swallowed and edged backwards on the bed. His eyes moved with some apprehension to what James’s hands were doing.
James worked his cock out of his breeches and pulled them down his thighs. Harry could hardly take his eyes off of it. He jumped when James leant over to do the same to him.
“Oh mercy…” he said with a shaky laugh.
James smirked and put a hand on Harry’s chest. “Lay down, darling.”
Harry’s eyes widened, but he did what he was told. He slowly arranged himself on his back against James’s pillows. James thought that his bed would be covered in Harry’s scent for nights after. He shivered. It was almost too erotic.
When Harry was comfortable, James pulled his trousers down an inch or so more and laid himself on top of him. A breathless, desperate sound burst forth from Harry’s throat when James’s manhood was pressed against his. James attempted to arrange himself so he wouldn’t crush him.
He snaked a hand down between them and wrapped it around their erections, pinning them together. James rolled his hips into Harry’s at the same time.
Harry bucked. “James, oh.”
James gave him a quick grin. He took one of Harry’s hands and guided it to his lower back. “Press down firmly, lover.”
Harry obeyed, holding their bodies together. James began to move against him, rubbing and thrusting their hips together, in a messy, irregular rhythm with the eager stroking of his hand. The air was filled with their soft grunting, Harry’s whimpers and his groans. The sounds of their bodies coming together, the creak of the berth, the occasional thud of one of their boots hitting the wall.
Harry threw his head back, arching underneath him. James took that as an invitation and claimed Harry’s throat. He bit down and sucked, creating what he knew would be a love bite. But he couldn’t help himself. Leaving his mark on Harry would remind him that he never left James’s mind. Even when he had a million other things in contention.
Harry clutched suddenly at James. “James.” His voice was strangled. “James!”
He writhed underneath him. James moaned as he felt him orgasm, bucking his hips up as he did. The unbearably perfect, messy friction and Harry’s pleasured cries pushed him over the edge. His eyes fluttered closed and he groaned shakily as he spent. He collapsed against Harry, rocking his hips to ride out his climax. His seed mixed with Harry’s between them.
In the satisfied stillness that followed, they both panted for air and held on to each other. James rested his face against Harry’s neck.
“That was…” Harry made a sound suspiciously like a giggle. “You’re amazing.”
James chuckled into the crook of Harry’s shoulder. “I could get used to you thinking I’m Casanova.”
He struggled upright and looked down at his lover. Harry was positively glowing and more lovely than ever. James moved to tuck himself back into his breeches.
Harry hastily did the same and sat up. James caught him in a kiss as he did. “You don’t have to leave.”
Harry hesitated. “But what if someone comes?”
“They won’t just barge in.” James’s voice felt a little husky from his moaning. “We’ll have plenty of warning, I promise.”
Harry nodded. “That sounds lovely then.” He rested against him.
James held him close. Soon they would undress and maybe wash and get under the covers together. And maybe for once he’d have a decent sleep with Harry in his arms. But for now, they just held each other while the ship creaked quietly around them.