Claire cradled the honeypot against her chest and gave John a smug look from under her curls. John coughed and looked away, feeling his cheeks heat up. Unfortunately, his eyes landed right away on her husband, tall and red-haired, carrying a sack of flour over his shoulder. This activity made his muscles flex underneath his shirt in a very appealing way and it didn’t help to bring John’s thoughts back towards socially acceptable topics at all. It just reminded him of how those strong arms held him up while Jamie fucked him thoroughly. And that the woman sitting across her in the cart was perfectly aware of this happening.
John knew that pirates were less concerned about the rules of society, but in a vague, intellectual sort of way, and when it came up in the Navy it was always tainted with disgust and judgments. He never actually expected to sleep with a pirate, let alone the pirate’s wife blessing the encounter. He was used to his trysts in the Navy being absolute secrets, between himself and the other man, and the other man’s wife finding out about it was the worst thing he could imagine. However, Claire Fraser wasn’t like those wives, left at home on the distant shore. She wore breeches and fought with a sword, her home was the ship, and she wasn’t bothered by her husband sleeping with another man.
After they got reunited with the crew they’ve stopped at the next harbour to stock up on supplies and rest. Jamie still hasn’t said anything about where they would go from here. As the elation of escaping alive wore off and the hangover from last night kicked in John wondered what this meant for him.
He spotted William, who was running around amongst the crew members hauling supplies and helped carry smaller items, clearly feeling cheerful and very important in the process. It was good to see him happy. His face was dirty and he looked like just a street urchin, part of the crew.
John hopped down from the cart and headed towards William as much to avoid Claire’s knowing gaze as to help the boy. He was currently dragging a crate after him, that was clearly too heavy for him to lift, but he seemed determined to make it work. He was quite stubborn like that. John thought he could have gotten that from either of his parents. He grabbed the other end of the crate and William flashed a grin at him.
John had grown quite fond of the boy. He opened up in the company of the pirates and reminded John of himself when he first tasted freedom after a strict upbringing. John also remembered his visits to Helwater and the uncontrollable whirlwind of a boy who was always so happy to see him no matter how infrequently he visited. William seemed to remember it too. There was an easy familiarity in the way he talked to John that wasn’t present when he talked to Jamie.
But they did talk, and John could see how happy it made Jamie. William seemed naturally curious if still a bit wary of his pirate father, and he asked a lot of questions.
“And how did you two meet?” he asked John once over supper when they were crammed in by a table next to each other. Jamie sat across them, but William directed the question towards John. John gave him an amused look.
“Your father knocked me out with the hilt of his sword,” he answered frankly. Jamie snorted quietly and William let out a surprised laugh. Their slanted blue eyes crinkled the same way when they were smiling.
“Yes, quite,” John shrugged between two bites. “While I take pride in being a good swordsman, I didn’t stand a chance. Your reckless father pulled a suicidal move, boarded my ship and abducted me to save you,” he explained with a pointed look towards Jamie, whose lips curled upward in a way John found especially seductive. He was jolted out of this musing by William.
“So you only came because he threatened you?” William asked pushing a leafy vegetable to the side of his plate. He sounded disappointed.
John turned to him fully, putting down his spoon.
“Had I known you were in trouble, I would have come on my own,” he said seriously and William perked up. “And I would have deterred Jamie from his insane plans,” he added.
Jamie grinned at him.
“I would’ve liked to see ye try.”
He didn’t tell William about his initial plan of double-crossing Jamie and getting William away on his own. It seemed almost cruel in hindsight, not to allow the boy to get to know his father. Even if he was a criminal.
That made John’s good mood slip away. When did his life become so complicated? He was so sure of himself before. And now? He had gone against the law too. What would his crew think if they saw him now? A Navy officer should have never grown so friendly with pirates.
When he looked at the Frasers, his heart filled with stupid, longing dreams. Running away with them. Going on adventures, making a living with honest, or not so honest deeds. John frankly wouldn’t have minded stealing from the Spanish. Eventually, maybe they could settle down somewhere in the Caribbean where it was warm and they were free.
But it was only that: useless wishful thinking. He couldn’t just run away with them. He had duties, even if he didn’t know what punishment he had to suffer for what he did. More importantly, William had an inheritance as an Earl.
Jamie was aware of this too. After they filled the ship up with the essential supplies, but before they’ve departed Jamie called John into his cabin. It was the first time they were alone since that night. John tried and failed to calm down the nervous butterflies in his stomach. While Jamie had been openly friendly with him, he couldn’t help wondering if that night was a one-time occurrence or if it meant more. He got his answer soon enough.
He closed the door behind him and turned. And then, Jamie was suddenly there, in his personal space, one large hand on his shoulder, the other cupping his face. He beamed down at John, dark blue eyes dancing with joy. The warmth of his touch was practically seeping into John’s bones.
He lay a tentative hand on Jamie’s waist. His lips pulled up into an involuntary smile. Jamie’s gaze dropped to his mouth and it seemed to pull him forward like a magnet. Their lips met in a warm and wet kiss that knocked every though out of John’s head.
“You wanted to talk…?” he croaked out when they broke apart. “Or was that just…”
Jamie went pink around the ears.
“Nay, I… did want to talk with ye.” He disentangled himself from John with visible reluctance and stepped back. “The men are hungry for a raid. They have helped me, and now that it’s done they’re restless. I cannae fault them.”
He sighed and shrugged. He turned to his desk that had sheets of paper scattered on top of open books in a seemingly haphazard way. He traced a line absent-mindedly with his finger while continuing.
“We do need to secure a bounty soon. We could only stock up from the bare essentials.”
“I see,” John said, unease settling in the pit of his stomach. He opened his mouth, then closed it again. Anything he would have said would have sounded prying or judgmental. Jamie turned and saw his expression.
“We’re not doing this for fun, ye ken?” he asked gently, abandoning the papers once more. “If there was another way for us to securely make a living…”
But there was, John wanted to say. He restrained himself, just barely. It would have been his fear speaking. Suddenly, the thought of the crew going out to the sea fighting another ship and risking death and prosecution felt like a fist squeezing around his throat. There wasn’t a person on this ship he would have liked to see at the end of a rope. Especially not the Frasers.
He took a deep breath and spoke out the first thing that ran through his head.
“I want to come with you.”
Jamie looked as astonished as John himself felt for saying it out loud. He should have been more conflicted about where his loyalties lay. At the same time when he looked within himself, his priority was unquestionably to not see the Frasers killed.
Jamie touched his face again, his skin faintly smelling of ink and John’s heart gave a painful thump. Oh no. When did that happen?
“I appreciate that Johnny, I do,” Jamie said slowly. John knew even the idea was foolish but appreciated Jamie not dismissing it outright.
“But,” Jamie continued, “I wanted to ask of ye a greater favour instead. I would like William to stay with ye.”
“Of course,” John said without hesitation. Jamie smiled at him and kissed him briefly. It was such a natural gesture, John suddenly didn’t know what to do with the tide of feelings rising in his chest.
“Good,” Jamie said, unaware of this. “I cannae imagine trusting another person besides ye and Claire with my son. I would prefer Claire to stay with ye too,” Jamie continued pulling away, “but there isna even a point to try and convince her.”
John smiled. That indeed sounded like futile effort. Jamie cupped his face into both hands now.
“Will ye take care of my while I’m away?”
John nodded but furrowed his brows. There was something in Jamie's voice, a hidden anguish that seemed to indicate that he wasn’t just talking about a short period of time.
“Exactly just how long do you plan on being away?” he asked suspiciously. Jamie dropped his hands and shrugged.
“It shouldna take more than a few days. Maybe a week. I’m not expecting any resistance or real fight. Maybe a little squirmish.” He sighed. “But there is always the chance of something going wrong, ye ken that.”
John gripped his arm and shook his head. He flat-out refused to even think about the possibility of Jamie Fraser not coming back.
“Nonsense,” he said firmly. “One of the most feared pirate captains of the Caribbean is not planning to be defeated in a simple raid. There is something else, isn’t there?”
Jamie scrubbed a hand down his face. He stepped close again, circling John’s waist with his arms and touching his forehead to his.
“How do ye ken me already so well?” he mumbled.
John’s heart softened in his chest and he reached up to card his fingers through the red curls. The lines of Jamie’s face softened. John thought it was the biggest secret of them all. That Jamie Fraser feared pirate captain was secretly the most physically affectionate man he had ever known.
He waited. Jamie sighed and pulled back slightly.
“He cannae stay with me, John,” he admitted, and John could tell from his voice how much it pained him. “I cannae force him into this life, and I would be worrit out of my mind all the time. No,” he shook his head again. “He needs to go back to England. He’s an Earl. He has the right to that title. Ye may not know this, but I was a Laird too by my own right. They took that away from me, but I cannae let them take that away from my son too. I want a better life for him.”
“And how do you imagine this going?” John asked. “He cannot go back to Helwater as long as Williams is there and is trying to kick him out of his inheritance.”
“Nay. I was wondering...” Jamie seemed to hesitate. “I was wondering if he could stay with ye?”
“I have no claim to be his guardian, Jamie,” he said. Jamie Fraser, however, as he already knew was a very stubborn man.
“But what if he enlisted?” he asked. “Ye could keep him with ye, no? At least until he turned eighteen?”
John considered it. It was just like all of Jamie’s other plans: went against expectation and sometimes simple logic. Still...
“Yes, I suppose it could work,” he found himself saying. He wanted to make it work. “As long as I can present an agreeable excuse for abandoning the ship with the crew. And I can’t promise you that will go down easily. But I can promise you, that I will try,” he added, meaning it, even though his heart was cracking wide open and all those foolish dreams of staying with the Frasers shattering before his eyes. He needed to go back, he knew that. He didn’t belong with them, or only for a little while. It didn’t matter that he realized, only a few minutes ago that he had fallen completely in love with Jamie Fraser.
The night before the crew was to depart John, Jamie and Claire spent the evening together. They’ve put John, Willie and Tom up in a small house at the edge of town, but Willie and Tom both wanted to spend one more night on the ship. To John, it seemed like the Frasers were more interested in spending one more night with him, and it flattered him greatly.
They drank whiskey and exchanged stories. John hasn’t felt so at ease with anyone in a long time as he did with them and his heart was aching because he had to see them go. With luck, it would only be for a short while this time. But after they would go back to England and part for good.
Both Claire and Jamie shed a few layers of clothing during the evening since it was warm inside with the fireplace crackling in the corner. John couldn’t help staring at them. Jamie, with his strong frame, and fiery hair glinting in the low light, his voice a deep, accented rumble. And Claire, her elegant hands and soft curls, the mischief in her golden eyes and her twinkling laugh. Both of them were so different yet equally magnificent. And together they were almost too bright to look at.
John knew he was lucky even to know a fraction of what was between them, to know even the touch of one of them. And yet, having them here, both within arm’s reach, happy, flirting and relaxed, the experience felt almost painfully incomplete.
John could count on a single hand the times he slept with a woman and there wasn’t even one of them where he undoubtedly wanted to. And yet, when he looked at Claire Fraser, he felt an unmistakable pull. He didn’t know whether it was only that she was the other half of Jamie or on the account of her own charm, but the desire was there. The drink made him bold and even the slightest possibility of not seeing them again, of not having a second chance gave him all the courage he needed.
It was past midnight when the pauses in their conversation started to stretch longer and finally, Claire reached for her shawl.
“Perhaps it’s best if we go.”
John reached out then and softly laid his hand on top of hers.
“Or you could stay a bit longer,” he said, as calm as he was able. Claire raised his eyebrows and slowly turned her hand over so that her palm lay warm and dry against John’s. They looked at each other for a few long seconds.
“Do you want me to stay?” she asked. “Or do you want Jamie to stay?”
John had the feeling that she understood him well enough, but wanted him to say it out loud. He looked at Jamie to see his reaction. There was longing in Jamie’s eyes, but also uncertainty. He looked at Claire, and John could see the desire passing between them. He could feel Jamie being torn in two directions and he wanted to tell him that there was no need to.
“I do mean the both of you. If you’d like that is,” John said, his gaze flickering between the two of them.
Claire’s eyes lit up and Jamie flushed, John noticed and not the other way around. Claire turned to him fully and slid her hand onto his forearm.
“What do you think Jamie?” she asked in flirtatious voice.
John turned his head to see Jamie lick his lips.
“I think ye look bonny together,” Jamie said.
John smiled, his heart suddenly light and filled with anticipation. He brushed a stray curl out of Claire’s eyes, cupped her face softly and leaned down slowly until his lips met hers. Her cheek was soft and round in his palm, but she kissed back hard and confident, not at all unlike a man. A zing of desire ran down John’s spine. Emboldened, he let his hands wander, exploring her soft cleavage and narrow waist. Then he slid his hands down lower, finally getting them on her backside he secretly admired before, squeezing and pulling her closer with a groan.
She nipped at his bottom lip and let out a pleased sound.
John felt a large, warm hand settle on his waist and looked up to see Jamie wrapping his other arm around Claire and trail kisses down her pale neck. It turned out, both of them fitted comfortably between his strong arms. As if sensing his gaze, Jamie raised his head, turned to him and kissed him on the mouth, parting his lips with an exploring tongue. John moaned. Suddenly his breeches felt too tight. On second thought, he was on the opinion that all three of them were wearing too many clothes.
They undressed each other clumsily, wanting to draw out and savour the moment but being too impatient and excited to do so. The bed wasn’t big enough for the three of them, but Jamie seemed to have an idea about what he wanted to do.
“Sit down, John,” he said, pushing him with firm hands.
“Aye, Captain,” John grinned jokingly and complied. He wrapped a hand around himself, lazily stroking a few times just to take the edge off. Jamie’s eyes darkened. He turned to Claire and guided her to the bed too. She was beautiful and shameless in her nakedness and John gave in to the urge to trail a fingertip along her curves.
Her body didn’t arouse him the same way Jamie had, but with Jamie present, it didn’t matter. Jamie stepped behind Claire, brushed her hair off her shoulder and kissed her pale skin there. He lifted his head and spoke to Claire but looked straight into John’s eyes while doing so.
“What do ye think about riding him, Sassenach?”
Claire’s eyes wandered over John’s naked body and John suppressed the ludicrous urge to preen under her gaze. He was, after all quite a bit smaller than Jamie. But Claire didn’t seem to mind. She trailed her fingertips along his inner thigh, making John’s heartbeat quicken.
“Do you want me to ride you, Johnny?”
John threw his head back and let out a moan, smiling.
“I’m at your service ma’am,” he said with mock-politeness.
The idea of Claire using his body for her own pleasure, his body that was strung tight with arousal mainly because of Jamie set John’s blood on fire. It was a strange triple knot of desire he had no motivation to untangle.
She crawled on top of him, smooth pale skin sliding against his. She was light in his lap and unexpectedly wet between the legs. When she lowered herself onto him John did the only thing that came into his mind and bit down on her shoulder to stifle his moan. Claire let out a sound halfway between a purr and a growl and rolled her hips luxuriantly. John wrapped his arms around her waist, and thrust up experimentally, making her breath hitch. She pulled her down to kiss her again, enjoying the way her soft hair fell against his face. Her hair smelled of herbs and John felt an absurd sense of safety while at the same time pleasure was leisurely rolling across his body. He didn’t exactly forget about Jamie, but he shivered when the bed creaked and a set of wide, warm lips started kissing along his neck.
“How does that feel?” Jamie murmured into his ear. John whimpered. He couldn’t answer. “If ye outlast her,” Jamie continued, “ye'll get me too. What do ye think?”
At first, John’s mind didn’t register the words but when he did he had to sink his nails into the mattress so that he wouldn’t come right there. He could feel Jamie’s grin against his skin.
John took a calming breath and re-focused her attention on Claire. The last thing he wanted was for her to be unsatisfied. He didn’t need an incentive. At the same time, Jamie’s words provided one.
He grinned up at her, then licked a thumb and reached down, searching until he found a spot that made her gasp his name out. Then latched his lips around a nipple and coordinated his movements to the rhythm of her hips.
Claire grabbed him by the hair and pressed her closer, her nails digging into his scalp. John could have got lost in it. He nearly did. Somehow he held on while she came with a gasp, pulsing around him.
Claire let out a pleased sound as she climbed off his lap and flopped down on the bed beside him. John chuckled, and stroked a hand affectionately through her hair, still aroused but nonetheless pleased himself. He heard a grunt. He turned his head and the sight immediately inflamed his desire once more.
Jamie had one knee on the bed, his head bent low so that his red hair fell into his face and the slope of his shoulder caught the light. He braced one hand on the bedframe, the other was behind him, moving with intent. Readying himself.
John must have let out of a sound, because Jamie raised his head and grinned at him, flush high on his cheekbones.
“Ye ready, Johhny?”
John could only splutter incoherently but that seemed to be enough.
Jamie was much bigger and heavier than Claire, towering over John as he bracketed him between two muscular thighs. He sank down on him easily, from whatever oil he was using, and John still being slick from Claire. John let out a groan. There was no way he would last. He was already on edge. Jamie’s savage grin said he was able to see that.
He started to move, like a force of nature and John let himself be swept away. He thrust up making Jamie curse. In retaliation Jamie attacked his neck with kisses, his stubble burning his skin.
John grabbed his hips, not caring if his touch bruised or if Jamie’s teeth left a mark behind. A kiss, a gasp, a sharp roll of hips, that was all that it took before his vision went white like when he started into a candle for too long. Jamie kept rocking in his lap, then leaned back, wrapped a hand around himself and casually finished, seed smearing across John’s abdomen.
The bed still wasn’t big enough for the three of them, but they crammed in underneath the covers anyways, half on top of each other. John told himself he would only close his eyes for a second, that he would kiss them both one more time before they went. But sleep took him quickly, and when he woke up, it was morning, and he was alone.