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Comforts of Carnality

Chapter Text

Jamie awoke from his dream slowly, hazily, with his hand wrapped tightly around himself. The dream was wrapped just as tightly round his mind, but he knew it would fray in seconds, shredded by the snores of the other grooms. He needed her, needed to spill himself with the feel of her touch still on him.

Hanks stirred in his sleep, chuckled loudly, said something incoherent, and fell back into the void, murmuring, “Bugger, bugger, bugger …”

Jamie had something similar on his mind and flung back his blanket. Damn the cold.
He made his way down the ladder into the half-warm, horse-smelling fug of the barn, nearly falling in his haste, ignoring a splinter in his bare foot. He hesitated in the dark, still urgent. The horses wouldn’t care, but if they noticed him, they’d make enough noise, perhaps, to wake the others.

Claire was still with him, vivid in his mind, solid in his hands. He could imagine that he smelled her hair in the scent of fresh hay. The memory of her mouth, those sharp white teeth…He rubbed his nipple, hard and itching beneath his shirt, and swallowed. He thought of John, licking his nipples, and shook his head.

His eyes were long accustomed to the dark; he found the vacant loose box at the end of the row and leaned against its boards, cock already in his fist, body and mind yearning for his lost wife.

He tried to make it last, but the dream was slipping from him. He slowed in his fisting, trying to hold to the memory. He closed his eyes and saw Claire's face, she was looking up at him as he slowly rocked into her mouth. He groaned and opened his eyes, checking his surroundings. When he closed them again, John was looking up at him and swirling his tongue over his manhood. His knees gave way in the aftermath and he slid slowly down the boards of the box into the loose piled hay, shirt rucked round his thighs and his heart pounding like a kettledrum.

Lord, that they might both be safe was his last conscious thought.

He awoke in his bed a few hours later and lay still, thinking of what had happened in the night. After he had been put to sleep by his lust, he had been awoken by Lady Isobel's maid, Betty, and she had cryptically told him there was an Irishman looking for him. Now, as he thought more about it, he realized that she had also likely witnessed his lewd actions, and try as he may, he couldn't remember if it were Claire's or John's name that fell from his lips when he finished. John. He hadn't seen him in a year, not since the night they had...He decided to put no more thought to that, Betty or what she may have seen, or the Irishman. He would be seeing William today, and he couldn't wait. He rose to begin his day of work.

Chapter Text

Lord John Grey stood on the balcony of Argus House, his brother Hal's home, and watched as the rain fell. He had been called here to aid his brother in a bit of a mystery surrounding the death of a friend and whispers of a Redcoat traitor residing in Ireland. Currently, there was a bit of writing they had found with a vaguely familiar language written on it, and Hal was consulting his wife, thinking she may be able to help. His thoughts drifted to Jamie, as they often did when he was alone and London was quiet with the rain. His hand started to drift down his stomach and...

“What the devil are you doing, John?” Hal had appeared in the doorway behind him and was now staring at him in in disapproval, page in hand.

“Enjoying the rain.” He wiped a hand over his face and shook himself a little; his hair was damp, as was his collar and the shoulders of his coat. “Was Minnie able to be of help?” "Yes.” Hal sounded surprised at the admission. “She says it’s neither a code nor a cipher.”

“That’s helpful? What is it, if it’s neither code nor cipher?”

“She says it’s Erse.”

Erse. The word have Grey a very odd sensation. Erse was what folk spoke in the Scottish Highlands. Hal was looking at him speculatively. “You must have heard it fairly often, at Ardsmuir?”
“Heard it, yes. Almost all the prisoners spoke it.”
"Did Fraser speak it?”

Oh, God, Grey thought.

“Yes,” he said, though. He had often overheard James Fraser speaking in his native tongue to the other prisoners, the words mysterious and flowing. He had heard it in his bedroom, too.
“When did you see him last?”
“Not for some time.” Grey spoke briefly, his voice careful. He hadn’t spoken to the man in nearly a year.

The last time they saw eachother, they had had a violent confrontation in a barn. Jamie had made accusations, vile and cruel ones, and John had made threats, vile and cruel ones, and the truth of things had come to light against both their wishes. Later that night, Jamie had sneaked into John's bed chamber and they had spent several hours together, drinking, talking, sharing secrets and learning to understand one another, and then...Jamie had offered his body to John. And John had taken him up on the offer. And then Jamie had taken him up on...well, he had taken him.

John had left the next morning. He had urgent business concerning his stepbrother and former lover, who was to be hanged and when he had secured his freedom in a harrowing rescue, a series of family events had kept him from returning to Helwater immediately. In the months following, he had tried to get back to see Jamie, but his duties constantly took him elsewhere.

Now he was here in London at his brother's request, and he may finally have just the excuse to get back to Helwater and to James Fraser. Whether or not Jamie wanted to see him after all this time, he was unsure. He'd had to wonder why John had stayed away for so long, and knowing Jamie's tendency to allow his thoughts and feelings to run uncontrolled down a dark path, probably believed something that would be offensive to John's sense of honor.

"He's still at Helwater, is he not?" Hal said, bringing John back from his thoughts.
"He is. Perhaps I could bring this to him and see if he can translate it?" John tried to keep the hopeful tone out of his voice.
Hal thought about it for a moment and said, "Let me think about it. If it is a Jacobite code, we may not want a convicted Jacobite to get his hands on it."

John sighed in exasperation and fixed his brother with a scolding look. "You think James Fraser is going to take up The Cause again, after all these years, because of one scrap of paper?"
"Do I think Red Jamie still harbors ill will towards our King and his Armies?" Hal said, scoffing. "Just let me think on it, Brother. Tonight, let's have a drink and talk of something else."

John let his brother have his way for now, but for the rest of the night, as they drank and supped and drank some more, he couldn't clear the idea of finally, finally being able to see his Jamie soon.

Chapter Text

It had been two weeks, and Hal still had not given John leave to go to Helwater and talk to Jamie about the letter. He was frustrated, to say the least, because he wanted to see Jamie, yes, but the situation had become more complicated. There were parties involved now that made the matter personal, and Hal was behaving oddly, and he was worried about what his brother was thinking and planning. He chose not to bring up James Fraser because of these tense moments with his brother of late, but now it was feeling more and more necessary. He made up his mind to discuss it with him again tomorrow, and in the mean time, thought he'd take a walk to release some energy brought on by inaction.

Unfortunately, it began to rain something fierce as he roamed the city. Well, so be it, he thought, and continued to trudge his way though the puddles. He came across a few women carrying boxes of oranges running for shelter and when one of them dropped an orange, he bent to pick it up for her. By the time he turned and called out, she was gone. He put it in his pocket and felt a bit lucky, so he decided to stop at his favorite club, the Beefsteak, for some dry clothes and a game of cards instead of heading home.

An hour later, he was thoroughly dried and warm in a new pair of clothes borrowed from the club. He took his glass of whiskey in hand, checked his reflection, and headed downstairs.

The club was quiet, a few members sat about, playing chess or smoking cigars by the fireplace. To his surprise, he found his friend and former Governor of Ardsmuir Prison, Harry Quarry, in the writing room, no doubt indulging in his favorite hobby: writing the lewdest "poetry" John Grey had ever read.

He snuck up behind him and snatched the paper from the desk. Holding Harry off with one hand, he read further, out loud: “With thighs bedew’d and foaming cunt—Jesus, Harry, foaming?” As Harry frantically reached for the paper, hollering something about a man's private correspondences being sacred, John backed towards the door until he felt his body collide with another's.

“Lord John! I do beg your pardon most humbly! Are you injured?” John stared for a moment at the large hands that held him, then his eyes moved up the broad expanse of chest, neck the size of his thigh, and into the happy, fair face of his old friend Stephan von Namtzen.

"Von Namtzen! What on Earth?" Stephan smiled warmly at the encounter and immediately invited John and Harry to sup with he and his companion. John needed no further encouragement. The last time he had seen Stephen had been emotional and charged. He had just had his arm amputated and in a moment of weakness for both of them, they had shared an oddly erotic moment. John never knew if it was genuine attraction on von Namtzen's part or simply the result of his despair, but he had suspected that his friend shared his nature even before that. Now, as Stephan smiled down at him, he felt a thrill run through his body. He had obviously recovered and seemed quite happy to see John, and John thought perhaps they could pick up where things had left off. Perhaps...

The evening progressed with fine wine, wonderful food, and the jovial company of four men well supplied with both. They teased Harry about his poetry, but laughed as he shared some more with them. Suddenly, a little rhyme occured to John, though he knew not where it had come from. "Master me, or shall I your master be?" Good Lord. Almost as suddenly, Jamie's face swam before him and he quickly blinked it away.

That day in the barn, when things were bad between them, Jamie had told him "Draw on me and be damned. Armed or no, you canna master me." That's when John had said the most terrible words he's ever spoken. "You think not? I tell you, I tell you, sir—were I to take you to my bed—I could make you scream. And by God, I would do it.” Later that night, Jamie had shown him who the master was as he pounded him into his mattress. John became quite hard at the memory and cleared his throat and drained his glass. Von Namtzen was eyeing him.

When the four men had finished their after dinner cigars and quite a few rounds of brandy, they finally rose and made their way to the street to retire home. As they pulled on their coats at the door, John took Stephan lightly by his sleeve and whispered "May I see you home?" Stephen looked where John's hand lay comfortably and then into his eyes. He smiled and said "It would be my pleasure."

Though the carriage ride was silent, there was a charge in the air like before a storm, they could feel it crackling between them. When they arrived at von Namtzen's, the fire was lit and they sat close to eachother in front of it. They spoke for some time of the adventures they had had since last they met, every now and then moving a bit closer to eachother, touching one another on the hand, lingering perhaps longer than necessary, and finally John ventured to place his hand on Stephan's knee. Stephan did not move so John left it there. When Stephan asked John if he would like him to ring for tea and biscuits, he remembered the orange he had in his pocket and he pulled it out, using his dagger to slice it and offering a bit to von Namtzen. He did not take it with his hand, but instead bent his head to take it from John with his mouth, his eyes never leaving John's. As he chewed, the juice began to drip down his chin. John reached forward and ran his finger over the trail and licked it from his thumb. Their eyes met, sparkling with the fire and their desire for one another, and without another word, Stephan led John to his chambers.

They fell into the bed kissing one another frantically. This was certainly an unforeseen event in his day and John could not be more thrilled. He had not had sex with anyone since that night with Jamie, and he was aching for it. He felt a pang of guilt. He hoped to see Jamie soon, should he wait and see if...? No. That was ridiculous. When they had been together, Jamie had made it clear he was seeking comfort from him, and, to John's discomfort, perhaps still felt he were paying John for a debt he owed. He had no reason to believe it would ever happen again. Besides, Hal didn't seem like he would be sending his brother to his favorite redhead any time soon. Best to take his pleasure while the opportunity was presented to him.

"Lord John? Are you alright? I haven't misread...have I?" Von Namtzen interrupted his thoughts and he shook them away, resuming his removal of the Captain's clothes. "I assure you, sir, you have not misread me at all. I am quite filled with desire for you." He replied, and eagerly suckled at Stephan's newly exposed nipple. "And please, call me John when we're in bed together. Unless you get off on the Lord part." Stephan removed Lord John's breeches and then began to unlace his undergarments but paused before removing them. "I should tell you, Lord John, I have never done this with a man before."

John gaped at him. Christ! This wasn't unusual to hear when he was younger, but he never expected to be so quickly brought to bed by a grown man who had never before had the inclination. It had been a long time since he had taken a virgin, and his cock jumped at the idea. Oh, this was a fantastic turn to his day indeed!

He seized the Captain's mouth and then whispered "Are you ready, then? To be had by one? Or would you perhaps wish to simply finish eachother by hand?" Stephan let out a small sound and reached into John's smallclothes, stroking his member and watching John's response. He seemed to be weighing the size of the thing and determining whether or not it would fit inside it's intended goal. Apparently deciding it would, he kissed John back and then said "Yes, John, I think I am ready for you to have me."

They quickly divested themselves of their clothing after that. John pressed the giant Hanoverian into the mattress and nearly laughed at the idea that he would be taking a man of such size in his rear. Normally he liked to take his time with virgins, but he was desperate tonight. Whether it was because it had been so long for him or because his thoughts had recently been preoccupied with another large man he wasn't sure. No matter the cause, he was ready to satiate his desires.

He kissed Stephan deeply, swirling his tongue over his and licking his teeth as his hand slowly ran down his stomach and took his member in hand. It was huge, perfectly proportioned to his body, long and thick. He thanked his stars the man hadn't presented John with option number three when he had asked him how they should do this. Stephan bucked into the touch and John knew he was just as eager. He stroked him a few times and then reached down to Stephan's bottom. He brushed his finger against his hole and watched for his response. He bucked again but blushed deeply. "You need not feel ashamed, Stephan. I assure you, there's nothing wrong with taking pleasure in this." He knew von Namtzen was a strict Papist. "If God didn't want it to feel good, he wouldn't have made it to feel good."

Stephan sat up then and drew John into another deep kiss and John went back to stroking his manhood throughout. He moved his hard cock against Stephan's thigh and he got the idea and returned the favor. "Take me then," he said breathlessly when they broke, "I am ready for you." John laughed and shook his head. "Oh no, you're not ready at all Captain. But I will get you there quickly. Do you have any oil to slick the way?" Stephan's eyes widened. "I hadn't thought of that. Of course we will need...I will ring for some." "NO!" John said quickly. "Are you mad? What do you think the butler will think if you request oil be brought to your chamber where another man resides?" He looked about and saw a jar of skin cream on the Captain's vanity, rising to retrieve it. He rubbed it between his fingers. It would do. He climbed back onto the bed and rubbed some onto his lover's cock, stroking up and down to test it's worth. Von Namtzen moaned and let his head fall back down onto the pillow as John once again reached down. He took a large scoop of the cream in his fingers and applied it to the Captain's hole. He shuddered against it and pressed his hips forward a bit. "Haha, patience, sir, or you'll end up with a very sore bottom," John warned. The man was going to be sore regardless, but John didn't need to injure him.

He slowly slid one finger into Stephan and watched him carefully for his reaction. His head tipped back in a moan and a blush covered his cheeks as John began to twist his finger. When he seemed to have caught his breath a bit, John began to thrust the finger in and out, adding another twist now and then. Stephan whimpered and looked at John wantonly. "Will you take me now?" he asked. John chuckled again and said "Christ you are hungry for it. Almost, sir, almost." He coated two fingers in the cream now and gently entered him again. Stephan's back arched off the bed and he opened his mouth but no sound came. He began to rock his hips, fucking himself on John's fingers and John almost came right there. This man was ready, and John couldn't wait any longer. He removed his fingers and said "Turn over. Now."

Stephan obliged immediately, turning onto his stomach and crawling up onto all fours. He pressed his head down into the pillow and presented his rear to John like a gift. John's cock was straining now, leaking and painful. He was on the brink of madness, but he just had to kiss that tight little hole before he entered it. He bent his head and swirled his tongue over it. Stephan shuddered and gasped and bit into his pillow and John suddenly remembered doing this for Jamie. Jamie's words rang in his ears "I enjoyed it quite it a bit but I didna want to finish on your mattress with your face buried in my arse." John groaned at the memory and lined his cock up with Stephan's now clenching entrance and whispered "Last chance, Captain." "Do it," he whinged in reply, and John snapped his hips forward and stole his friend's virginity.

Stephan growled, the sound coming from low in his chest, and bit the pillow so hard John thought he'd have a mouth full of feathers after. John stilled himself, sweat now dripping in a trickle down his chest and landing on Stephan's arse cheeks. When Stephan breathed again, he began to push in slowly, withdrawing a little and pushing himself back in, working himself inside inch by inch. When he was fully seated, he ran his hand in gentle circles on his friend's back and allowed him time to adjust. Finally, after several deep breaths, Stephan looked back at him. "You may fuck me now, My Lord."

John's jaw dropped but he did not hesitate to take him up on his words. He began to rock into his friend with wanton disregard, and to his embarrassment, it wasnt long before they were both moaning loudly, and with a few jerks to Stephan's cock, he came with a shudder, pulling out to watch his seed drop across the Captain's arse and thighs. He flipped him over quickly and took him in his mouth. His embarassment was quickly relieved though, when Stephan immediately came in his mouth.

 

 

They lay in each other's arms some time later. Stephan hadn't spoken at all, but simply lay with a dazed look on his face staring at the ceiling. "What are you thinking?” he asked at last, not sure whether he wanted to hear the answer but needing to hear Stephan speak.

To his relief, Stephan smiled and drew his large, warm fingers gently down the slope of Grey’s shoulder and over the curve of his forearm, where they curled round his wrist.

“I am wondering what is the risk that I will die before St. Catherine’s Day.”
“What? Why? And when is St. Catherine’s Day?”
“In three weeks. That is when Father Gehring returns from Salzburg.”
“Oh, yes?”
Stephan let go of his wrist and took him in his arms instead.

“If I go back to Hanover and confess this to Father Fenstermacher, I will probably have to hear Mass every day for a year or undertake a pilgrimage to Trier. Father Gehring is somewhat … less exacting.”
“I see. And if you die before making your confession—”
“I will go to hell, of course,” Stephan said matter-of-factly. “But I think it is worth the risk. It’s a long walk to Trier.” He coughed and cleared his throat. “That—what you did. To me.” He wouldn’t meet Grey’s eye, and a deep color rose across his broad cheekbones.

“I did a lot of things to you, Stephan.” Grey struggled to keep the laughter out of his voice, but without much success. “Which one? This one?” He leaned forward on his elbow and kissed von Namtzen’s mouth, enjoying the little start von Namtzen gave at the touch of his lips.

Stephan kissed men frequently, in that exuberant German way of his. But he didn’t kiss them this way. To feel the strength of those broad shoulders rise under his palm, then feel them give way, the powerful flesh melting slowly as Stephan’s mouth softened, yielding to him …

“Better than your hundred-year-old brandy,” Grey whispered.

Stephan sighed deeply. “I want to give you pleasure,” he said simply, meeting John's eyes for the first time. “What would you like?”

Grey was speechless. Not so much at the declaration, moving as it was—but at the multitude of images that one sentence conjured. What would he like?

“Everything, Stephan,” he said, his voice husky. “Anything. It—I mean—to touch you—just to watch you gives me pleasure.” Stephan’s mouth curled up at that.
“You can watch,” he assured Grey. “You will let me touch you, though?” Grey nodded. “Oh, yes,” he said.

“Good. What I wish to know, though—how best?” He reached out and took hold of Grey’s half-hard prick, inspecting it critically. "How?” Grey croaked. All the blood had left his head, very suddenly.
“Shall I put my mouth upon this?" Stephan asked, beginning to stroke John to hardness. I am not sure what to do then, you see, how this is done correctly. I see there is some skill in this, which I do not have. And you are not quite ready yet, I think?”

Grey opened his mouth to observe that this condition was rapidly adjusting itself, but Stephan went on, squeezing gently.
“It is more straightforward if I put my member into your bottom and use you in that fashion. I am ready, and I am confident I can do that; it is much like what I do with women.”
“I—yes, I’m sure you can,” Grey said rather faintly.
“But I think if I do that, I might hurt you.” Stephan let go of Grey’s prick and took hold of his own, frowning at the comparison. “It hurt, at first, when you did this to me. Not later—I liked it very much,” he assured Grey hastily. “But at first. And I am … somewhat large.”

Grey’s mouth was so dry that it was an effort to speak. “Somwwhat,” he managed. He glanced at Stephan’s cock, freshly erect, then away. Then, slowly, back again, eyes drawn like iron to a magnet. The thing seemed to have grown larger during this discussion.

It would hurt. A lot. At least… at first. It had been a year since he'd had more than his own finger inside him. He clenched at the idea. He swallowed audibly. “If … I mean … if you …” “I will do it very slowly, ja.” Stephan smiled, sudden as the sun coming from behind clouds, and reached for the large pillow he had bitten into earlier. He threw it down and patted it. “Come then, and bend over. I will slick you.”

He had taken Stephan from behind, thinking that Stephan would be less self-conscious that way, he himself loving the sight of the broad, smooth back beneath him, the powerful waist and muscular buttocks, surrendered so completely to him, but he was not so inclined to allow that monster of a penis inside his most tender place without supervision.

“Not—that way.” He pushed the pillow back against the headboard and scrambled up, bracing his shoulders securely against it. “You said I could watch.” And the position would give him some control—and at least a chance to avoid serious injury, should Stephan’s enthusiasm outrun his caution.

Are you insane? he asked himself, wiping sweating palms against the counterpane. You haven’t got to do this, you know. God, you’ll feel it for a week, even if he doesn’t …

“Oh, Jesus!”

Stephan paused, surprised, in the act of spreading some of the skin cream onto his hand. “I have not even begun. You are all right?” A small frown drew his brows together. “You have … done this before?”

“Yes. Yes, I … I’m fine. I … just … anticipation.” "I will try to be gentle," Stephan said, and without further preamble, worked his way into John as quickly as John had worked into him.

When he finally entered him, John had bitten off a bit of a scream. Thank God Fraser wasn't here to hear that, he thought, immediately followed by, Christ that burns like the dickens! Von Namtzen wasn't as gentle as he could have been, but he did move slowly, trying to withhold his eagerness. He rocked into John and John held onto his broad shoulders for dear life. When he finally felt the pain begin to diminish, he began to move against Stephan as well. Stephan pressed deeply within him now, and John moaned into his neck. He didn't know how long he could take this, it felt good but overwhelming, the constant drag and pull of something so large, hot and heavy ptessed so deeply inside him. He bit into Stephan's throat, hoping to spur him on a bit, and Stephan began to move faster, harder, against him. He took himself in hand, finally erect again after the initial pain, and began to fist himself furiously. Stephan sped up his thrusts at seeing John's pleasure take hold, and when John spilled himself over his hand, began to brutally and erratically shove inside him. John bit down on the Captain's shoulder again, and he came deep inside John, pulling out and cumming some more on John's thighs.

 

John walked home that night with a spring in his step. Well, as much of a spring as he could muster. His bottom ached something awful, his legs were still a bit shaky, and he could feel von Namtzen's seed inside him. He hoped it wouldn't run down his leg and leave a wet spot on his breeches.

When he reached Argus House, he attempted to make a straight dash to his chambers where he could have a bath and relax his aching body and bum, and wash away the traces of two men having sex with one another. But before he could take a step that way, Hal called him to his office.

"Uh, I got caught in the rain earlier and I'd love a bath. Can I come down shortly?" John replied hopefully. "It won't take long, John, allow me this moment and the rest of the night is your own," Hal gave him a look and he quickly decided not to argue. He hoped it would be quick, indeed. He was beginning to feel quite sleepy and longed to retire.

As soon as he stepped into Hal's office, though, he felt wide awake. His eyes grew wide and his heart quickened in his chest. He stood there, arse sore and dripping with seed, as James Fraser, his beloved in the flesh, turned and looked warily at him.

Chapter Text

John stood in his brother's office and the world seemed to tilt around him. He subconsciously moved his hand to rub his rear but quickly realized and settled for placing the hand in his coat pocket instead. Jamie narrowed his eyes at him.
What on Earth?

"Ja...Mr. Fraser. It's uh...nice to see you again. What brings you to London?" He knew it was a stupid question. Jamie was a paroled prisoner, he was not allowed to leave Helwater without express written permission. From him. He narrowed his eyes and looked at Hal. How dare he?! Jamie was in his charge by law!

"I sent for him, obviously, John," Hal said from behind his desk. "I thought perhaps, if he could translate this letter for us, he could also be of some more service in locating our...friend. Better to have him here than a two-days' ride away."

John glared at him then looked to Jamie again. Jamie did not seem remotely happy to see him. He glared at John and scowled and his fists were clenched in his lap. John raised his brow quizzically. When they had last parted ways, Jamie had kissed him and told him to "be kind to yerself, until we meet again." Jamie looked away from him now and stared at the floor. "Well," he thought to himself, "one year later. I suppose I was right, that he thinks poorly of me for staying away so long after having him in my bed."

Hal spoke again. "Captain Fraser, you may retire to your room now if you wish, or feel free to make use of the library. I need to speak to my brother." Jamie rose without a word, taking one last chance to glower at John, and left the room, shutting the door hard behind him. John was still rooted to his spot, staring in shock at where Jamie had just been. Finally he fixed his brother with an explain yourself glare.

"Don't give me that look, John, it was your idea." John opened his mouth to contest but shut it again. At his present state, he couldn't trust himself not to throttle his brother. His bottom was still aching and he thought longingly of the bath he wished he were in, but finally decided to sit, gently, on the edge of the chair. Of all the nights to bed a giant German, he thought ruefully. He couldn't stand looking at the man he loved with another man's seed still inside him, but the look Jamie had given made him feel like he knew exactly where he'd been and was less than thrilled for him. He knew that was ridiculous, Jamie was obviously angry at being summoned to the Duke of Pardloe's home, tasked with aiding the English in hunting down his fellow Jacobites.

"This was not my idea and you know it," he said at last. "How did you do it, Hal? Hmm? Did you forge my signature? You know damn well I am the only one allowed to send for him. Did you send your goons? Did they bring him in..." Oh God, he thought. Did they put him in irons? They must have. Nobody would travel with a Scot, let alone one of Jamie's size, without assuring their safety. "My goons?" Hal said, laughing. "What goons are those? Heavens, John, I sent a couple privates. Boys. I assure you he arrived safely. We bathed him, fed him, clothed him properly, and gave him a bedroom. I am sure he's far more comfortable here than in his stable bed. And I am the Duke of Pardloe, John, I did not have to forge your signature to summon him." John knew he was right on that.

If he were honest with himself, he knew he was angry at Hal not because Jamie were here, but because he had gone behind his back, and because he was bitter at being caught off his guard by his one time lover's presence in his brother's office. "Okay. But why? What plans do you have for him beyond this translation?" "Oh, John, we can talk about that tomorrow, surely? Today has been long. I thought we were going to have to find a tranquilizer to bring down the great beast earlier! He is quite imposing when his tempers are up!" "What? What in God's name happened?" John's temper flared again at the idea that while he were out with a fling, his Jamie was in his home being accosted. "Oh, he was quite upset at having been brought here as such. I'm afraid the privates I sent didn't give him many assurances that he weren't headed for the Tower." John paled. "They were reprimanded, I assure you. Once we had settled him and explained our purposes, he was still angry, but he did not seem threatening." Hal laughed loudly suddenly. "You...you should have seen...the servant's faces!" He was slapping his knee now. "Not one of them could have stood their ground in battle against those brutes. They should be glad indeed they never fought at Culloden."

John stood. He did not wish to talk of Culloden, or brutes, or servants afraid of Jamie. He was weary now, he needed to bathe and to sleep. "I'm going to my rooms, Hal. I'll see you in the morrow." Hal looked at him in surprise and said "Okay, Brother. Rest well. See you in the morrow."

John closed the door tightly behind him and leaned against the wall, sighing heavily. Where was Jamie now? he wondered. The library. He would relish the opportunity to have his choice of books, no matter how unhappy the reason.

He walked swiftly into the room but paused in the doorway. He found Jamie immediately, running his finger over some spines in the histories. He looked fantastic. He was clean and well dressed, his hair fell on his shoulders in gorgeous auburn curls, and he looked over the books like a man who belonged in a library always. He seemed to have sensed John's presence, though, and his broad back stiffened. He didn't turn, so John cleared his throat. "Jamie," he said quietly.

Jamie turned his head and glared at him over his shoulder. John's breath caught in his throat. With three long strides, Jamie towered over him. "Ye brought me here by Redcoat!" He hissed vehemently. "A year! A year without a word from ye and then two Redcoat lads show up and take me to ye in irons! They spoke no' a word to me but to taunt me! I was with...I was...I had other obligations! And ye didn't have the deceny to receive me yerself?! Ye left me here with yer brother to do yer bidding and blackmailing?! To hell with ye, mhic a diabhail!" John wanted to reassure him he had nothing to do with his retrieval but he knew those last words. He had been called them a few times by the prisoners at Ardsmuir and had asked one of the guards what it meant.

"Son of the devil? You call me the son of the devil?" "Aye! Why couldn't ye have fetched me yerself, John?! Not that I wish to be here at all! Do ye know what yer brother is askin' of me? Or have ye had yer way now, ye wee pervert, so ye no longer feel the need to be kind to me?"

Wow. John took a step away from Jamie. This is exactly what he thought Jamie would assume. But he still wasn't prepared for it. He looked behind him to make sure none of the servants, nor his family, had heard what Jamie had just said. Ye wee pervert. So we are back to that, John thought ruefully, and gritted his teeth.

He could point out that Jamie was now a pervert himself, but he would not engage with him when he was like this. He knew better now. With the strength of a thousand Stephan von Namtzens, he drew in a breath and very calmly, very slowly said "You should get some rest, Jamie. I'm sure your journey was taxing. And I need to do the same. I bid you goodnight, and we shall see eachother tomorrow." He didn't give Jamie a chance to respond.

As he climbed the stairs slowly, he finally gave in and rubbed his hand over his rear. God, it felt abused. He was sure he had bruises and maybe even bled a little. He undressed immediately upon entering his room and rang for some hot water. He was so thoroughly exhausted mentally and physically from the events of the day.

When he finally sank into the hot water, his thoughts drifted to the Scot he knew was just down the hall now. God, what a turn in events, he thought wearily and closed his eyes. He wouldn't dwell on it any more tonight.

Chapter Text

Jamie stood in the doorway of the Duke's library and watched John ascend the stairs. He regretted calling him a pervert. He knew now that John was not that and that it was a wee hypocritical to say so, even though he had natural desires and John had none. The fact was, there were times in the last few months, while he awaited John's return, that it had crossed his mind. Maybe John had only shown kindness all those years because of his attraction to Jamie. Now that it had been satiated, maybe he didn't feel that persistent pull to him any longer. But Jamie had dismissed those thoughts at the time, knowing it was only caused by his sadness and loneliness at Helwater. It wasn't that he longed for John, not the way he longed for Claire, but now that he could see him as a friend, he wanted that company again. But he knew John was in love with him. He'd made that clear when he asked Jamie if he could kiss him in his most private place. So why had he done this to him now? He couldn't conjure a reason.

Jamie sighed and went back to the bookshelves. He found a small copy of Antigone, something he'd read many times but felt it would be comforting to read the familiar words, and took it to his bed chamber. It had been many, many years since he had slept in a bed such as this one. Even on the nights when he had been in the house at Helwater, making love to the various family members and guests that resided there, he never slept in their beds. He laid down now and let out a deep sigh. God, he forgot how this felt. He couldn't help but think of the last time he had been comfortable on a real mattress with real pillows and blankets.

Claire had been there with him. His Claire. God, he ached for her comforting touch now. It was the night before the battle on Culloden Moore. He knew he was going to send her back to Frank the following day, and he was determined to make her remember his body before he did. He had made love to her slowly, kissing her honey pot, delving his hands inside, running them all over her. She ran her hands over him, too, feeling the scars on his back, on his sides, his legs and arms. She ran her fingers through his hair as he licked inside her. When he joined their bodies together she had whimpered. They rocked together so slowly, clinging to one another, and found their release at the same time. They held eachother until the sun rose and their life together drew to an end.

He sobbed now, clutching his pillow and jerking into his hand. When he found his release, he rolled over and thought of John down the hall. He could not go to him. Not now. Not in his brothers home and after his foul words earlier. He let his thoughts go back to Claire and drifted into an uneasy sleep.

Chapter Text

John found himself lying awake that night. He couldn't believe sleep was coming so hard for him, he felt exhausted. But he couldn't quiet his mind. It drifted back and forth between lust for Stephan, anger at his brother, shock at Jamie's presence, anger at Jamie's presence, anger at Jamie, and lust for Jamie. Then it began all over.

He rose from the bed and decided to roam the halls by candlelight instead. He liked it, at this time of the night, being lord to a sleeping world. As he stepped into the hall outside his door, though, he heard a sound that made him think perhaps the whole world wasn't asleep. A brief, sharp cry sliced through the dark, and he started as though it had been a drawing pin run into his leg.He tiptoed over the carpeted floor quietly, following the sound, until he found himself standing outside Jamie's door.

"Claire" he heard him say. He shouldn't be here. He turned to go but a sob stopped him. "Claire, please, come back to me. I need ye, Sassenach."

John put his fist in his mouth and bit down. Jamie was in distress, maybe a few yards from where he stood. He didn't know if he were dreaming or awake. He should go to him. He absolutely should NOT go to him. If he were sleeping, and he awoke to find John over him, things could turn very violent. Another sob sounded from the room and he heard a sound like a large body flipping violently in his bed. "Christ, Sassenach, I'm so alone." That did it. Jamie was not alone, and he needed to know that.

John tapped lightly on the door and when no answer came, he slowly opened it and peeked inside. Jamie was asleep on the bed, curled tightly into himself. His eyes were shut tight and he was letting out short, ragged breaths. "Please, Claire. Come back to me," he moaned, and John went to him, sitting gently on the edge of the bed.

He put his cool hands on Jamie's hot face and whispered "Jamie. Jamie wake up. You're alright." Jamie awoke suddenly with a hiss of shock and his eyes bore into John's. John flinched and removed his hands, moving away from him. Jamie stared at him, unseeing, and his mouth opened in despair. "Claire?" He reached for John and held him. "NO...JAMIE! Jamie, it's John! You're dreaming. It's John. You're in London, remember?"

Jamie looked at him and his face crumpled. He curled himself inward and swayed towards John's lap. "Oh Christ, John. Hold me. I need ye to hold me." Before John could so much as wrap his arms around Jamie, he was pushing him down onto the bed. Oh, John thought, as Jamie crawled on top of him. Okay. This could be nice. As long as I don't fall asleep here. That would not bode well come morning when the servants would likely find them.

But Jamie wasn't just trying to be held. He started kissing his way sleepily along John's throat, and his hand began to lift John's nightgown. "I need ye, John," he whispered in a broken and husky voice in John's ear. John trembled. "I need ye. Now. I canna wait." His hands moved down to John's cock, already hard as a rock, and John realized suddenly he was nudging his hard member against John's still aching hole.

"No, Jamie, wait," he said urgently. He tried to push Jamie off but the beast was as heavy as an ox. He knew he couldn't stand to take him now, not with all the oil in the world but certainly never dry as he was, it would split him in two. The head of Jamie's cock poked him against his stretched and bruised rim and John howled. He shoved against Jamie and said "Wait! I said STOP JAMES FRASER!"

Jamie seemed to come to himself then and looked at John in horror. In a second, he had flung himself across the room and fell to his knees on the floor. He buried his face in his hands and said "Christ. Christ. What devil is this?" John was terrified. He sat in the bed and tried desperately to clear away the thoughts of what had happened to him so many years ago and the fear that it was about to happen again. But as scared as he was, he knew Jamie hadn't meant to harm him, and that he was now damning himself to hell for almost doing so.

He went to him and tentatively placed his hand in Jamie's curls. Jamie shuddered away and said "Leave me!" "I will not. Jesus, Jamie, what has happened to you tonight? Are you unwell? You seem fevered." "I have not had an easy two days. Please, leave me, John. I do not know what demons have taken my senses tonight, but I do not wish to share them with you now."

John was unsure what to do. He desperately wanted to stay and comfort his favorite Scot. But he had to respect his wishes. He did not want him here. Either he was still angry with him or he was ashamed at his actions or ashamed at his tears. John suspected all three. So he rose, and just before he closed the door he whispered "If you need me, I'm just down the hall on the left," and he left Jamie to his nightmares, his shame, his loneliness.

Chapter Text

Oh Christ. What in the name of Old Nick had made him do that? He did feel fevered. The journey from Helwater to Argus House had been long, and he had been scared out of his wits the whole time. Many dark thoughts had rolled through his mind like mud. He thought John was to finally have him executed. He thought he was headed to the Tower, to spend his days in the darkness until he starved himself or died of dysentery. He had sweat so strongly with fear that he stank. The Redcoat lads John had sent had snickered, reading his thoughts. He took them as confirmation.

Once he had arrived at his destination, he kent he had been mad to think John would execute him, of all things. 'Twas just the fear he felt every time he was under the total mercy of England's soldiers. He resented John for putting him through that. Is that why he had...?

No. No. He would never take out his anger like that. But hadn't John been surprised by his presence? Hal had said HE sent for Jamie. Oh, God, he thought. He had done it again, completely misjudged John. And he kent better this time, had gotten to know John, had grown to respect him enough to...And now he had tried to take him against his will as he screamed and thrashed. The circle was complete

Jamie crawled onto his bed and gripped his pillow, sobbing into it. He strongly considered putting a pistol to his head for a moment, but swiftly crossed himself and prayed to God for forgiveness for such thoughts. He hadn't meant to hurt John, never would, didn't even know he was until John screamed his name. He was overcome with his nightmares and lusty dreams of Claire. He would make it up to him. He'd be kinder in the morning, and he'd aid John and the Duke in their endeavors, even if it meant turning traitor to his fellow men. He tried to sleep then, the scent of John's soap thick in his sheets, and wept until the dreams came again.

 

John fled to his room and shut the door, locking it behind him before reconsidering. He had told Jamie he could come to him. Now he worried. What if he came to him in another haze, seeking the comfort he had once offered him again? No. Stop. He knew...he knew...perhaps better not to sleep? No. He was safe. He was perfectly safe, inside his brother's home, Hal was downstairs. Jamie would never knowingly hurt him.

He sat on his bed, watching the door. What in the devil had happened? One moment, Jamie was sobbing, the next he was trying to dry fuck him. He had to have been overcome by whatever dreams John had interrupted. That's why he didn't stop immediately. But he had stopped. And he was clearly greatly distressed at his actions.

John thought about that for the moment, suddenly afraid. He knew every horrid detail of what Jamie had endured, if he thought he had almost inflicted that pain on John, he'd be shattered right now, direly so. But he couldn't bring himself to go to him again. Jamie was a strict Catholic, he'd never damn his eternal soul.

John lay down on his bed and continued to watch the door until he could keep his eyes open no longer. Thankfully, in his dreams, he and Jamie were lying together in the hay of a barn. Jamie was smiling and the light was shining through his curls, turning them copper. John felt warm, and safe.

Chapter Text

The next morning dawned bright and the skies were clear. John felt much lighter than he had as he opened his bedroom window to breathe the fresh air left from yesterday's rain. Jamie had frightened him greatly the night before, but in the light of day, it all seemed much less dramatic than it had in the dark. Nightmares were common in soldiers. His old fears had gotten the better of him and Jamie was a raging wreck of human emotion on the best day. He wondered if he had always been this way. He had seen a jovial side of Jamie, often during their chess games, and he wondered if once upon a time, he had been a jovial man altogether. If so, he wished he could have known him then. Then again, Claire would be there. Would he wish to have her back, for Jamie, knowing they'd never have the moments they'd had together? He knows he would, because every moment he spent with Jamie, the man was miserable. He would give anything for that not to be so.

He decided not to dwell anymore on any of this. Yesterday had been a pleasant day, the night had not. Today could be anything. Que sera sera. What will be will be.

He dressed and went down for breakfast. His three nephews were arguing over who had gotten more bacon and Dottie was flinging her eggs and Hal read the paper, ignoring everyone, as Minnie ran circles around the table, wiping faces and picking up bits of food. John loved these moments with the family. It made him feel like he was normal. He kissed Dottie on the head and stole the last piece of bacon from his nephew's fist and ate it quickly, smiling at the outraged boy innocently.
"Where's Fraser?" He asked casually. "Captain Fraser," Minnie corrected. He looked at her, curious but impressed. "He is a Captain, is he not?" she said. "In a fake Army led by a fake Prince," Hal said from behind his paper. Both John and Minnie scowled at him. "Actually, Hal, he served under His Majesty in France," John told him. Hal didn't reply, so Grey looked back at his sister in law.

"He's across the street sitting under a tree," she told him. "Good Lord. Why?" "We invited him to break his fast with us, but he said it didn't feel right to eat with the family. I guess he knew the servants might feel uncomfortable eating with a guest so he took some fruit and cheese and went over to the park. He has to stay within view of the house. You can see him, just there, out the window," and she pointed. John went to look. "There's nobody there," he said, and Hal jumped from his seat. "I sent a footman to keep an eye on him, Fraser can't have gotten far or he would have retrieved me immediately," he said, joining John at the window. "He should come back in soon, Harry is coming over so we can all make plans for your trip to Ireland together." John looked at him now. "Ireland. Together? What?" "Yes, to find Siverly and bring him back," Hal looked at him oddly, as though he'd hit his head. "Yes I know why I am going to Ireland, why is Jam...Captain Fraser...going with me?" "We'll talk about that after you've retrieved him. That is, as you said, your responsibility?" John gave him a withering glare. He didn't find it funny just yet, his anger last night. Instead of responding, he picked up a piece of cheese, slapped it onto a piece of bread, and went out to search Hyde Park for one Captain Fraser.

John stood in the middle of the park, and circled. If I were a man who had spent the last several years in the middle of nowhere, and I came to London, where would I go? Within view of the house...he looked over at Argus House and followed a line from there, seeing what would be in immediate view...let's see...he saw a crowd of children and parents gathered around a puppet theater. Sure enough, there was a massive redhead standing at the back of the crowd, his shoulders shaking in laughter. John scanned around quickly and noticed Hal's footman standing warily nearby.

He didnt want to disturb Jamie's good time. He felt he deserved it, more than anyone he knew, so he walked a ways up the path and casually strolled along, keeping Jamie within his view. When Jamie realized he should head back, he started walking down the same path and John slowed his step. Without missing a beat, Jamie came up alongside him and said "Good morning, Major." "Good morning, Captain." John gave him a sideways glance. He seemed to be in significantly better spirits than the night before. "Did you enjoy the show?" he asked. "Aye. 'Twas a real hoot! Punch and Judy, they call it." John laughed. He knew Punch and Judy well. Every Londoner did. Jamie stopped walking then. He seemed about to take John's arm, but thought better of it. John stopped and turned to him. "Are you alright?" he asked in concern.

Jamie looked at him skeptically. "Tis not I who has reason not to be alright, John. I hurt you last night." John looked around to make sure they wouldn't be overhead, and then pulled Jamie off the path to a bit of tree cover nearby.
"You didn't hurt me," he said plainly.
"Aye. I did. You hollered in agony. You...you didna want me and I..."
"Stop. You didn't. You did not hurt me. You did not..." John looked around again and lowered his voice to a whisper. "You didn't enter me Jamie. I was already...hurt. Sort of. You merely...jostled me. You didn't do anything wrong. Had I..."
"What do ye mean ye were already hurt?"
"I was...sore. I fell down some stairs and bruised my bottom. There! I've told you. You may laugh at me now if you wish."

Jamie stared at him solemnly and did not laugh at all.
"Seriously Jamie," he lowered his voice until it was almost a murmur, and Jamie had to lean closer to hear him, "if I hadn't been so sore and you had done the same exact thing, I would have gladly comforted you. I did want you. I only became frightened because...because I suppose you didn't hear me say to wait. You were half out of your wits with exhaustion and sadness. It's...understandable." Jamie continued to gaze at him with a despairing look of guilt. "What? No comments about my being noble and longsuffering?" Jamie nodded slowly, reproachful. "Aye. Ye are."

John gave him a smile and continued their walk back to the house. "You know, Jamie, you have a tendency to lean towards absurd gallantry yourself." Jamie quirked his brow at him. "You don't always have to beat yourself to a pulp over every perceived wrong you commit. Sometimes, you can simply talk to people. Tell them you're sorry. Believe them if they tell you it's unnecessary. Move on." Jamie stopped walking again and John turned to face him. "I'm sorry, John. For whatever demons took hold of me last night, and for whatever demons I gave ye."
"That's not necessary. But I thank you," and he gave Jamie a small bow. They moved on, back to Argus House.

After a moment of awkward quiet, John said "You know you can't take all your meals in the park."
Jamie gave him a look and said "I could start taking them in my room if that should be preferable."
"If that is what you wish. But we would prefer you join us." "I canna sit and take meals with your family, John."
"Why not?" That was a stupid question, he knew why. But he wanted Jamie to list the reasons so he could smash them with a stick one by one.
"Well let's see, I am a prisoner. I am a Jacobite and a traitor to the Crown. It would no' be proper. And I...I dinna think I should be comfortable, eating with people who are afraid of me."

John found those reasons harder to strike at than he had expected. He also knew what Jamie wasn't saying: that he wouldn't want to eat with people he was afraid of.
Still he said "We are not afraid of you. Nobody in my family is. And Hal is an arse, but he's a good man. He wants to do right by you, in payment for your help. I can't make any promises on his behalf, but Greys repay their debts. As for propriety, leave that concern to us. You'll see quickly that we're quite loose about the house, and we don't much care about what others think. We know that we have honor, and that shows itself to the people who matter. Take tea with us later, Jamie. If you're still uncomfortable, you may sup wherever you wish." "Alright. Aye. Ye have a deal."

They were nearing the house now. "There is one more thing I should tell you before we reach the house. Harry Quarry is there." Jamie stopped walking again. "I know your history with him. But he's a friend of the family and he has been of some assistance in this matter we've brought you here about. He's not...he can't hurt you." "I ken that," Jamie said indignantly. "I just...as I said, I know he put you in irons." For eighteen months, John thought angrily. "Do you think I'm afraid of him?" Jamie asked, puffing up his chest and turning red. Oh, God, here we go, John thought. "No. I don't. I just thought you should be aware he was in the house. Calm yer tits." And with that, he led Jamie back home.

Chapter Text

Over the next several hours, Harry Quarry, the Duke of Pardloe, Lord John Grey, and one Captain James Fraser, convicted Jacobite traitor, sat in the library of Argus House on the edge of Hyde Park and hatched a plot together.

The last 48 hours since Jamie had been retrieved at Helwater had been like a hurricane. One moment, he had William on his shoulders, the next he was on an adventure the likes of which he had not seen since he was a free man, near ten years ago. The adventure will eventually lead him to Ireland, accompanied only by John and his valet Tom Byrd. But now, he was sitting with the three Redcoats in the world who had the most power to...

He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. They are not trying to kill you, they are not trying to kill you, he thought as he sipped his tea. John was watching him warily. His tea cup was shaking slightly so he set it down.

When they had finally made their plans - to sail in two days' time for Ireland, locate Siverly at his home there, and either accept his surrender or arrest him, and then sail back to England to bring him in - Hal stood and invited Harry to stay for tea.

"Oh, no thank you, Hal. I should be off. I have a few friends waiting at the Beefsteak for a round of cards." He shook Hal's and John's hands warmly and then turned to Jamie. "It was a pleasure to see you again, Captain Fraser. Perhaps when you return from your journey we could catch up for a round of chess." Jamie nodded politely at him with a tight smile. He did not mention that when he returned, he'd be sent back to exile. And back to William, of course. John seemed to read his mind, though, and loudly declared "I'm famished! Shall we?"

The men made their way to the dining room where Minnie and the children were already sitting down with their plates. John and the Duke moved to the buffet and begin helping themselves as Jamie stood back, trying to blend into the furniture. John looked at him and without an ounce of discretion said "Jamie! Come get something to eat," and gave him a You Promised look.

He took a deep breath, fixed himself a small plate, John leaned over and put more ham and cheese on it with a smile, and they sat. The children were like wee devils, constantly hollering, bickering, whinging at their mother. The bairn was a bonnie little lass and he could tell John favored her greatly. He sat next to her and fed her bits of his food and kissed her cheeks. Jamie smiled, thinking of William. He prayed he would get back to him soon.
It was...nice...to be in a house like this again. It reminded him so much of Lallybroch, of Jenny and Ian and their children. But it hurt to think of them at the same time, so he tucked into his food and tried to focus on how good the bread was.

"So, Captain Fraser, are you looking forward to your journey?" Minnie asked politely. He looked at her ruefully. She knew he hated sailing, but he couldn't say so, because they couldn't discuss their past together. "Not verra much. I don't fare too well on the sea." Hal laughed and said "Lucky you weren't a Navy man!"

The hour passed like this, in jovial conversation. Jamie tried to get into the spirit, and he did, a bit. But he still felt like he were playing a posh friendly game of cat and mouse. As soon as he was able, he excused himself and tried to find some place private to organize his thoughts.

The maid was in his room so he went to the library but John was there. He tiptoed backwards out of the door before he could be spotted. There staff and family and children everywhere he went. He was beginning to feel claustrophobic now. He was allowed in the park but it was too crowded. He stumbled out the back door and found his way to the gardener's shed. It smelled like nature and he was finally able breathe again.

He started to think about last night. All he could remember was snapping to consciousness and seeing John in his bed, trying to pull him from his nightmares. He had felt so desperate for his gentle touch and he had fallen into his arms. Then he was kissing him, pulling up his sleeping gown, trying to crawl inside. John had been roused, he remembered that much. Then he had screamed for Jamie to stop and pushed hard to get him off. He remembered keenly that arousal meant nothing when it came to...

He started breathing heavily and put his face in his hands. All of a sudden he heard the shed door open and light flooded in and he jumped to his feet, violently seizing the person by their shirt.

Chapter Text

John had been looking for a quiet place to read his book for some time now. One would think the library would be quiet, but the children were running amok. The maid had just finished Jamie's room and was on her way to his when he popped up there, so he popped back down and decided to head to the gardener's shed, a place he often went when he wanted some utter privacy with no fear that any number of people might intrude.

As soon as he opened the door, however, he found the shed already occupied by a very large Scot, apparently in the midst of some despair, as usual. Suddenly, he found his shirtfront seized. “What the bloody hell are ye doing here!?” Jamie yelled, shaking John a bit.

John jerked his forearm up, breaking Jamie’s hold, and stepped back, stuffing his rumpled shirt back into his waistcoat.

“You are without doubt the touchiest son of a bitch I have ever encountered,” Grey said, his face flushed. “And I include in that roster such men as my brother and the King of Prussia. Can you not behave like a civil being for more than ten minutes together?” he instantly regretted that last bit but let it stand. He was growing weary of his outbursts.

Jamie looked ashamed and said "I'm verra sorry, John! Ye startled me!" John pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to steady his breathing. Jamie watched him cautiously. Finally he said "Jamie. Will you accompany me to the greenhouse?" and didn't wait for a reply before turning and walking there. “If you please, Mr. Fraser.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Jamie followed the man. There was no point in remaining with the garden rubbish, after all.

John pushed open the door of the glasshouse and beckoned him inside. It was near twilight, but the place glowed like a king’s treasure, reds and pinks and whites and yellows glimmering in an emerald jungle in the dusk, and the air flooded in upon them, moist and caressing, filled with the scents of flowers and leaves, herbs and vegetables.
They passed a group of palms and gigantic things with leaves like the ragged ears of elephants. Round a corner, a group of wicker furniture stood beneath an enormous arbor covered with grapevines. He promptly collapsed into a basket chair and leaned back, thrust out his booted feet, and closed his eyes with a little sigh.

"We won't be disturbed here for a while. Minnie is with the children in the music room and the cook already gathered the vegetables for tonight. I thought we could talk a while." He opened his eyes and peeked at Jamie, who was just watching him sheepishly. Jamie rubbed a hand over the back of his neck and said "I suppose my actions since I arrived here have probably been quite outrageous to you."
"I wouldn't say that. I know it is an odd situation for you to be in, after the last ten years. You must believe me, I wish I could have retrieved you myself and prepared you better." "Aye, I believe that." "How was tea today? Do you think you can stand to take your meals with us now?" "Aye."

Jamie nodded and looked his hands. "Yer wee niece...the bairn...she's yer favorite?" John laughed. "Yes, I suppose she is. Until she starts talking, probably. She's my goddaughter." "Oh, I understand now" John thought of Murtagh Fitzgibbons and assumed Jamie was, too. "Ye'll favor her til ye die, I'd wager." And he smiled.

"Jamie, are you still angry at me for being here? Do you still think I'm the son of the devil?" "No. I ken now it wasn't yer idea. I apologize for what I said to ye in the library. And for calling a wee pervert," he added conspiratorially. John laughed. "Yes. That. Thank you for that. You're forgiven," and he clapped his hand on Jamie's now, stroked it once with his thumb, and removed it. Jamie looked at where his hand had been for just a moment.

"John, about last night..." "You didn't do anything wrong last night." "Please let me say this," and Jamie finally looked him full in his face. "I canna stop hearing yer scream. I canna stop feeling ye scrambling to push me off." John studied him for a moment, weighing his words.
"I wish I had a glass of wine handy, if we're to have one of these talks," he said. "Listen, I meant what I said when I told you that I did want you last night. You weren't forcing yourself me. I wasn't unwilling. I always want you. But you were moving rather quickly, we had no oil, and if we had, I...I couldn't have taken you. I'm...quite bruised. From my fall. You didn't hear me, when I said to stop. If you had, and you continued anyway, tell me that now."

"John, I swear to ye on my blood I didna hear ye 'til ye screamed in pain." "Yes, well," John said, feeling rather embarrassed that he had done so, "I'm sorry that reaction scared you so. I was...well, I'm sorry. I know it sent you to thoughts of our shared past. But it was NOT THAT. You must believe me." Jamie breathed in through his nose and let it out in a whoosh, meeting John's eyes. "Aye. I believe ye. If ye say so. Ye wouldn't let me get away with such a thing, I ken that." John laughed, in spite of the dark matter. "No. I wouldn't."

They sat in companionable silence for a moment, enjoying their surroundings, when John made a decision. One he was a little afraid of, not knowing how Jamie would reply. "Will you come to my room tonight, Jamie?"

Chapter Text

Jamie squirmed for a moment, suddenly uncomfortable in his chair. As much as he had wanted John last night, he was of much clearer mind now. When they had spent the night together a year ago, it was caused by an outpouring of secrets and emotions they had both kept locked away for many years. Actually, it was initially caused by a debt Jamie owed, and thought he had but one way to pay it. It had evolved to more, but he still always thought it had been a one time event.
He certainly never planned to take John as a lover.

But now they were sitting in this garden, the late afternoon light making everything hazy. The last few days had been so hard, so full of fear, he longed for Claire and his children, he longed to be held in a bed again. John had told him once that it was natural for two soldiers to seek comfort in eachother, and that he only wanted to offer him that. Jamie kent it was more for John, but he also kent John understood he would never be inclined that way. John was offering him the pleasure of his body, as friends and men with a deep understanding of each other's pain.

His cock stirred suddenly and he made up his mind. "Aye, John, I'll take ye to yer bed. I'd like to."

 

The rest of the day went by in mediocrity that paled in comparison to that statement. John spent it planning their journey, arranging clothes for Jamie, (Which I'll take off later, he thought, grinning) and enjoying a nice quiet supper with just the adults of the house, the children taking theirs in the nursery tonight. They all needed a break from their manic energy.

After supper, the men went to the library for a brandy and John could feel his body starting to coil with anticipation for what was to come when they had all gone to bed. When Jamie would come to his bed. He still couldn't fathom letting Jamie have him so soon, but he knew many ways to pleasure a man, and he had one in particular in mind. He looked over at Jamie and saw that he was laughing at something Hal had said. He was finally starting to relax, and John couldn't wait to push him farther down that path.

When Hal finally seemed to have told his last joke, they stood and bid eachother goodnight, all going to their respective quarters. John walked Jamie to his door and gave him a very proper "Sleep well, Captain Fraser," for any prying ears that could be nearby, and winked at him.

Once he got to his room he rang for some hot water for his bath. He longed to touch himself as he sat in it, wondering when Jamie would come and what would happen after, but he wanted to wait.

He got out of the bath and pulled on his sleeping gown, slippers and robe, and sat by his fireplace with a book...waiting.

The night went on and John was crawling out of his skin now. Just when he started to wonder if Jamie had changed his mind, he heard a tapping on his door. He tried not to run to it. Taking a deep breath to calm his eagerness, he opened it and there stood the most gorgeous specimen of a man he had ever seen.

Chapter Text

Jamie's hair was damp, clearly having bathed as well. Where John's hair was longer when wet, Jamie's curls had come up and now framed his face in a luxurious rust color. He was in his night shirt, which just brushed his thighs, and his eyes smoldered as he looked at John. He looked shy and full of lust all at once and John seized him and pulled him inside, wasting no time in kissing him.

Jamie's hands came up around John's waist and he deepened the kiss right away. They stood together and stroked each other's hair, shoulders, hips, as their tongues stroked the other's.

John broke the kiss and led them to his bed, familiarly laying down and pulling Jamie to lay on top of him between his thighs. They kissed tenderly, Jamie caressing John's face and whispering Gaelic into his ear every so often. He couldn't understand most of it but thought Jamie had called him sweet lad, as he had last time, while his cock was slamming John into the floor of his bed chamber at Helwater. John rolled his hips, thinking of that, and pulled Jamie tighter into him.

Jamie broke the kiss and sat up to remove his night shirt, and John took the opportunity to remove his and his robe as well. As they lay back down together, now pushing their hard cocks together, Jamie sighed and whispered "Doux gentil garçon. Tu as si bon goût. Aimez-vous la bouche sur vous?"
Sweet boy. You taste so good.
"Oui," John breathed, back arching into Jamie's mouth, now on his throat, and his cock, pressed so tightly against his, "Oui, I like your mouth."
"Tu veux que je te suce?"
John opened his eyes. He must have misheard. Did Jamie just...

Noooo. Jamie wouldn't do that, John thought. He ignored the question and continued to writhe under Jamie's wandering hands and mouth. Jamie had moved down the bed a bit, and now suddenly took John's member in hand and said "Has your French failed ye, lad? I asked if ye'd like me to suckle this?"

John's mouth hung open as he sat up on his elbows and looked at him. He tried to speak a few times and finally managed an embarrassingly high pitched "If you'd like to." He cleared his throat "I'm sure I would enjoy that very...Ohhhhh, God." Jamie had started to kiss the head of his cock. "I dinna have a clue what I'm doin' here, but I reckon I've had enough of these to give it a try." And he wrapped his lips around the head and pressed down a bit. John's head slammed into the pillow and he put his hands gently in Jamie's hair. His whole body shook with the effort not to move at all, to let Jamie do whatever he could down there.

He felt Jamie's teeth scrape him a bit but he didn't mind. Not at all. Jamie seemed to have realized though and now curled his lips over them and bobbed again. Jamie's hand was gently rolling John's bollocks in his palm and the other was running it's way up and down John's thigh in soothing patterns. He thought maybe he had died at some point unbeknownst to him and was now living in some sort of sex Heaven.

He rubbed his thumb over Jamie's cheek and pulled him up a bit. "What on Earth has given you such an inclination?" he sighed, smiling. "I want to give ye pleasure," he said simply, and took John his mouth again. John moaned and laid his head back down, enjoying this moment and committing it to his memory for future nights alone. After a moment Jamie lifted his head, his hand began to trail down. "Can I...that thing, ye once did for me? Can I kiss ye?"

John had dreamt about that moment so often, how he planned to one bring day bring Jamie off with his mouth on his bottom. He was actually planning to do so tonight, but much, much later. "You may. But gently, please." Jamie wasted no time lifting John's legs up a bit and bending down to deliver his blessed kiss, but suddenly he gasped. "John, what in the devil?" He quickly sat up and rolled John onto his side and spread his cheeks apart. "Yer bloody beaten!" He exclaimed.

Oh scheisse, John thought. "I told you. I fell down the stairs. Right on my bottom." He cringed hearing the lie. "John, yer bruises aren't on your bottom, they're in it. Between yer cheeks. And yer..." Jamie swallowed. "Yer hole looks swelled. And painful." He released his hold on him and let John sit up. "Tell me the truth, John. Ye ken ye can say it to me and I'll no' shame ye. Were ye attacked?"

John wanted to laugh, badly, but he knew this was no laughing matter between the two of them. And Jamie looked so afraid for him. "No. But I didn't fall. I...I didnt want to tell you. I was with someone. Yesterday, before I knew you'd arrived." Jamie looked at him skeptically. "Ye mean to tell me these marks were given to ye from a lover?" "A friend. Yes." Jamie shook his head.
"This man is no' a good friend to you. Have ye seen what he's done to yer body?"
"No but I can feel it," John said, chuckling despite his best efforts. "And I was there when it happened. He's.." he considered his words, wondering if Jamie would get jealous. Well, if he does, so be it, he thought. "He's a rather large man. As is his member. I knew I'd be in some discomfort after, I consented anyway. I cannot explain it to you, other than..."
"Ye wanted it to hurt?" Jamie finished for him. "Ye...enjoyed it?" John hesitated, but whispered "Yes. Does that upset you?"

Jamie seemed to think about it for a moment. He let his hand brush over John's and then took it, intertwining their fingers. Finally he looked at him. "It doesna upset me if it doesna upset you. I ken ye have other lovers, that isna my quarrel. But I hate to see ye hurt. If ye say ye like it...I understand that, too, and it's yer business." He smiled now and went back to stroking John's skin. "My Claire, on our wedding night, she showed me that pain can be pleasure as well. Though she did so with her teeth, and not on my bottom." He gave John a pointed look. "I think you'd like teeth on your bottom, if you gave it a try," John said, finally breaking the tension.

"I'll set my teeth on you, John Grey!" Jamie declared and suddenly seized upon him, pushing him to the bed, gripping his hips with brutal fingers and biting into his throat. John groaned, happy to resume their lovemaking.

Jamie's hands worked down once more as he mouthed along John's throat, collar bones, and ran his tongue over one nipple, making John hiss. He kissed his way across John's pale stomach and sucked at his cock once more. He lifted John's legs and draped them over his shoulders, then he very gently spread John's cheeks and placed his mouth over his hole, tenderly sliding his tongue across it. John whinged, low in his throat.

"Does it hurt?" Jamie asked. "No," John panted as he clutched his sheets. "No, it feels like pressing on a bruise, but it also feels wonderful. Please don't stop." Jamie ducked his head and went back to it, licking and kissing John tenderly, never penetrating or pressing, just gently letting the tip of his tongue brush wetly across him, brushing him with his lips. John was stroking himself with the hand not currently gripping the mattress for dear life.

Jamie sat up then, took John's member from him, and as he gently stroked, he said "How would you like to have eachother tonight, My Lord? Hmm? Shall I...continue to kiss at you until you reach your satisfaction? Can you finish that way? Or should we partake in the French tradition?"
"The..the French tradition?" John swallowed thickly, trying to keep his voice from cracking as Jamie stroked him.
"Soixante neuf," Jamie said confidently.
Soixante neuf? Jesus how did Jamie know about things like this? When had he become so skilled in pleasing a man?

John chose not to think about that, the idea of Jamie with another man was absurd. Perhaps he'd been rolling in the hay with some kitchen girls instead. He didn't want to think about that either.

Jamie seemed to have read his mind and laughed. "I spent much time in brothels when I was...acquainted...with Charles Stuart. The man is an absolute whoremonger. I did not partake...Claire, ye ken...but I did learn much." He was still stroking John gently.

"Soixante neuf," John said, mulling it over. "That sounds very appealing, but I had actually hoped that perhaps I could bring you off with MY mouth on YOUR bottom."
Jamie raised his brow. "The last time we did this, you seemed to enjoy it. You told me that you could have but didn't want to finish in my mattress with my face buried in your arse. I've sort of dreamt about doing just that ever since." Jamie's eyes sparkled and he said "Aye. I did say that. And I'm sure I'd enjoy it. Give it a try, if ye like."

John sat up and let Jamie take his place. "Take those pillows there and place them under your hips," he told him, and Jamie did. Now he lay stark naked, spread across John's bed, bottom up, and John almost fainted. He truly couldn't believe his luck. Nor could he wait.

He spread Jamie's cheeks apart and spat on his hole. Jamie hissed at the cold, then groaned into his folded arms as John pressed his hot open mouth to him and began to kiss him. He ran his tongue around the rim, pressing inside a bit, stretching it slightly, and pressed his tongue deeper when it did. When Jamie moaned quietly, he said "You can be as loud as you like. There's nothing on this side of the house but us." He resumed his task, stretching Jamie with his tongue and lapping just inside him. He scraped his teeth over the rim, and Jamie bucked upwards. "I told you you'd like that." John said.

He gently stroked his tongue over Jamie's rim again, then said "Do you know what this part is called?" Jamie shook his head on the mattress. "This is your sphincter. It's a tightly coiled ring of muscle." He licked it again. "If I press my tongue inside you, there's another one, just here." He inserted his tongue inside his lover and probed deeper, running it over the only remaining barrier between his mouth and Jamie's insides. "These muscles are the ones that stretch, when you put your cock in me. That's the part that can sort of hurt. Once you're inside though..." he kissed Jamie with his whole mouth again, pulling back to blow on his hole and then thrust his tongue as deep as it would go. He pulled back and said "I open for you like a flower, no?" "Christ, John, the mouth on ye." Jamie said, now nudging his bum up for more John's attentions. "Where did ye learn to talk as such?" John chose not to answer that. Jamie didn't need to know the answer was "Many lovers in many countries." Instead he said "It feels so good, when you're pressed tight inside me." He kissed him again and bit his cheek. "It's like, my body wants you and does not want you at the same time." He paused now in his chatter to assault Jamie's arse with his tongue, licking and probing, kissing, then biting gently at it. "It tries to push you out, at the same time pulling you in. That's why it feels so good for you. The clenching...it squeezes your cock like a glove. But it feels good for me, too." He licked the tip of his finger and gently circled Jamie's rim, careful not to press at all, then dropped his hand and went back with his tongue to make sure Jamie knew he wasn't trying anything. "When you're inside me, it feels like you're pressing so deep, like I had an emptiness and you're stuffing me full." He buried his face then, and tried his hardest to make Jamie moan louder. He did moan, quite loudly, hunched his shoulders, and came, just missing John's pillow.

"O Mhàiri Màthair Dhè! Ye really are a wee pervert!" Jamie said now, rolling onto his back and John just looked at him for a moment.
He looked like Jesus on the cross. "Blasphemy, John! What have I told ye?" John hadn't realized he'd said it out loud and he smiled. "You may spank me again if you like." Jamie sat up instead, took John into his lap and kissed him.

"Always with the filthy mouth. And ye call yerself a proper lord." "Never," he said, and bit Jamie's lip. "Ye still havena had yer pleasure, My Lord." Jamie took him in hand and they quietly rocked together.
John buried his face in Jamie's neck and caressed his shoulders, enjoying this moment of gentleness. His breathing quickened, Jamie's hand squeezed tighter, and he came with a shudder on their bellies.

Chapter Text

"Stay with me tonight," John said as he lay in Jamie's arms a few moments later. He immediately regretted saying it. Jamie would think him a clinging woman. But he smiled at him. "If ye lock the door, will the servants come knocking in the morning?"
"Are you serious?" "Aye. That bed in my room...it's verra nice. But it's too big, too soft. And I haven't slept in a room by myself in many years. It would be nice to finally be able to get some rest!" "Well then.." John didnt know what to say, he was so pleased. "I'm just going to step into the privy."
As he closed the door behind him and let himself go, John couldn't wipe the smile off his face.

 

The next morning the sun rose through a cloudy sky. John woke up and found Jamie in his arms, snoring lightly. He tried to pull his arm out from under him without waking him, but he really did weigh at least as much as a bear. He gave up and put his other arm back around him, sighed, and went back to sleep.

 

Jamie woke up, too warm, aware that someone was holding him. He froze, eyes moving about, and realized it was John. He relaxed and wriggled under the blanket some more. What time is it? He gently removed John's arm and moved to the window. At least seven. He tiptoed to the door, glanced outside carefully, and upon seeing no one, slipped back to his own room.

Once inside, he sat on the bed and ran his hands through his hair. He should not have slept in John's bed. It would confuse him. Then again, John wasna a fool. And he wasna some innocent lass. Far, verra far from it. That lad could make the whores of Paris blush with that mouth o' his. Christ alive! He had never heard talk like that, when he had described how it felt to...

He had to stop that line of thinking or he'd end up with a hard on at breakfast and the family would no' think him such an amiable guest then. He laughed to himself at the thought and dressed.

The next two days passed in a whirlwind of activity. John took Jamie to his club, where they met a verra odd man that John seemed to hate verra much, and a verra strapping German with one arm cut at the elbow who John seemed to like verra much. He played a game of chess with Harry Quarry, there, too, and when he demanded a rematch after their journey, he reluctantly agreed. The clothes Tom Byrd had ordered for Jamie had come and he had to try them on and have the final touches done. There were travel plans and packing and meetings to arrange.

All the while, he and John skirted eachother, not intentionally, just...there wasna anything to say, at present, and they were never alone again. They both knew where they stood outside the bedroom, anyway. At night, they were both so exhausted, and had so much to do in their mornings, neither even considered visiting the other's bed.

Soon enough, they were standing on a dock, about to board a ship to Ireland. Jamie stood, looking at the sea, and was overcome with a terrible sense of dread. He hated sailing. It made him so violently ill he thought he were near to dyin' many times over. John came up behind him and placed his hands on his shoulders. "It's alright. You're going to be alright."

He was not alright. The ship rocked on the waves like a cradle with a bairn. Jamie had chased away most of the passengers with his sickness, but John had stayed with him, holding his hair away from his face, stroking his back, trying to get him to drink in between bouts of spewing his guts everywhere. At some point he became delirious with it and the last thing he remembered was John telling him blood was coming up now and pouring some vicious potion down his throat.

When he awoke, they were at an inn.
"Welcome to the land of the living, Captain Fraser," he heard somewhere in the fog. He blinked his eyes open. John was at his bedside, holding a cup of tea, which he handed him. "And welcome to Ireland."

Chapter Text

Jamie didn't move at first. He had swam in the damndest dreams for he didna know how long. Whatever that concoction was that John had forced into his mouth had sent him from this world. He had dreamt about William, he remembered that. The bairn's chubby legs were running through the heather at Lallybroch. Claire was there, and their child. He couldna see their face, couldna tell if it were a lad or lass, but they had fiery red hair and they chased William and laughed.

Geneva Dunsany had been there, too. She and Claire and Jenny sat on the steps of the house and shelled peas and peeled potatoes, sharing embarrassing tales about Jamie that they all laughed at.
John, Ian and Murtagh were teaching Fergus how to use a dagger.

Jamie stood in the courtyard and watched his great family with joy, but when he looked towards the gate, the ghosts of Black Jack, Dougal, Ellesmere, and several faceless Redcoats watched. He turned to warn his family, but they were gone.

When he blinked, he was in the bed chamber in Paris. John was standing behind him, his cock brushing Jamie's back, his mouth kissing his scars. Claire stood in front of him, moving his hand against her honey pot. Geneva's ghost watched from the corner.

"Welcome to the land of the
living, Captain Fraser."

"Are you real?" He finally croaked, taking the tea John offered. He laughed but didn't answer. "Ye ken that potion of yers had opium?" he asked then. "Yes. Sorry about that. A passenger gave it to me, assured me it would calm you. I didn't realize you'd be rendered unconcious for a day. How are you feeling now?" "Better. Coming to my senses, now. Opium...it doesn't sit well in my belly. Gives me...dreams..." he trailed off, not wanting to share any more with him.

John seemed to catch on to that, so he changed the subject to their travel plans. "So you and I will ride ahead, and Tom will follow in the carriage with the luggage. If we go on horseback, we can stray from the roads a bit. I don't want anyone to know why we're here and warn Siverly. If he hears I'm coming, I want him to think it's friendly." Jamie felt uncomfortable at that. Sneaking up on a man's home under the guise of friendship to take him in irons back to England. A fellow Jacobite, at that. But the man was a Redocat traitor, anyways, and he had promised John and the Duke. "Alright, aye. Do ye know how to get there?" "Well actually, your physician from the ship is going to guide us. We'll head out first thing tomorrow morning. Do you feel up for some supper?"

"Aye, I'm famished. Help me get my legs under me." John gripped Jamie's arm and pulled him straight onto his feet. They came face to face for a moment and John held his breath. Jamie thought of the dreams he'd had. He ached for the loved ones he missed, but John was here. He was becoming a great comfort to Jamie, and Jamie suddenly realized that very shortly, he would be gone, too. He'd go back to Helwater in a few weeks' time, and John would be God knows where. But he'd be with William again. Jamie wondered if he'd ever have a family again, and not have to move from one person to care for to the next, suffering loss each time.

John was looking at him oddly now. "Have you got your bearings, sir?" Jamie pulled away from John and cleared his thoughts. "Aye. Let's eat."

They joined Tom in the pub and Jamie ate ravenously. The ale was good and he drank too much of it. Soon, he and Tom were leading the pub in a series of songs while John looked on in shock. He had never seen Jamie, or Tom, drunk.

Come alang, come alang, wi' your boatie and your song,
My ain bonnie maidens, my twa bonnie maids!
For the nicht, it is dark, and the Redcoat is gane,
And ye are dearly welcome to Skye again!

"Pretty words," John said as Jamie sat back at their table and gestured to the girl for more ale. "Och, John, ye're in Ireland. Ye have to know half of folk songs are to fantasize about Redcoats leaving our lands. Ye mustn't take any offense."
"No, no, of course not," he replied, waving his hand dismissively. The people in the tavern were still singing, not minding having lost their conductor.

When France had her assistance lent, a royal prince to Scotland sent,
Towards the north his course he bent,
His name was Royal Charlie!

Both men stiffened now.

From a the wilds o' Caledon, we'll gather ever hardy son,
Til thousands to his standard run, and rally round Prince Charlie!

"Looks like we are in the right place," John said. "Aye," agreed Jamie, solemnly. They both knew it was time to retire. Neither would take part in songs of Culloden, and neither had any great respect for Bonnie Prince Charlie.

John walked Jamie to his room, leaving Tom downstairs to his fun. When they reached the door, though, Jamie realized he wasn't ready to be alone yet. "Will ye join me for a glass o' whiskey, Major?"
"Of course. I hear the whiskey here is almost as good as Scotland." Jamie gave him a scolding look and led the way inside. "I dinna ken about that, but it'll do the trick."

John lit the fire as he poured two glasses and they sat together at the little table in the corner of the room. "Did ye fight, at Culloden, John? I ken ye were there, but ye were just a bairn. Surely yer brother kept ye from getting too close to harm?"
"No, I fought. You are right, though, he kept me on the fringes." "We could have faced eachother," Jamie said, and he stared at John for a moment, trying to remember if he saw any boys at the end of his sword. "I'm sure we could have, but I doubt I would have survived if we did." Jamie shuddered, imagining John bleeding on a battlefield at his hand.

"Those songs are supposed to be fun. We should no' dwell on things like these. Did ye like the one about the lasses?" "You mean the one about the boy who bed both sisters? Or the one about the girl who couldn't have a child because her husband kept fucking her arse?" Jamie laughed loudly and slapped the table, nearly knocking over John's drink. He wiped tears from his eyes and said "Aye, I suppose we have a great many song about lasses in the countryside. Perhaps Harry Quarry could learn a thing or two from Gaels." John laughed as well. "Yes, he probably could."

They sipped their drinks for a moment. Jamie thought again about how his time as a free man in the company of a friend was bound to draw to a close and decided that, instead of whinging to himself about it, he would make it memorable. He leaned toward John, looked deep into his bonnie blue eyes, and growled "And how about yer arse, Lord Grey? Do ye think ye're ready to be fucked in it? I promise I will no' try to get ye with child."

Chapter Text

John swallowed and his eyes widened. He would never get used to Jamie saying such things to him after so many years of knowing he'd try to kill him for doing the same. That didn't mean he didn't like it. On the contrary, it made him feel like the luckiest man in the world.

Without answering, he moved to stand in front of the large Scot and began to slowly undress for him. "Take off your trousers," he said, once he were fully naked, and moved to help him pull off his neck cloth as well.

Jamie sat in the chair in his tunic and nothing else, his cock standing up straight, his body flushed with ale and lust. John withdrew the newly acquired jasmine oil from his coat pocket on the floor and crawled between Jamie's knees, slicking him. Jamie arched his back off the chair and tried to follow John's hand but he pushed him back down.
"Stay where you are, Captain Fraser."

He reached down behind himself and pressed a drop of oil to his backside, running the finger gently over his rim, testing. When he felt he could, he let one finger slip inside. It felt tight, but good. He poured some more oil onto Jamie's hand and climbed into his lap, straddling him on the wobbly wooden chair.

"Open me," he whispered in Jamie's ear, and drew his hand back to press his fingers to his entrance. Jamie stared up at John in wonder and pressed two fingers inside him. John arched into the touch and nearly fell off his lap, so Jamie wrapped his other arm around his narrow waist and held him there, stroking his hip with his thumb as his fingers poked and prodded and pumped inside him.

"Spread your fingers, like a pair of shears," John told him and whimpered when he did, putting his head down on his shoulder.
Jamie rubbed inside him gently and nudged John to indicate he wanted a kiss.

The kiss was tender and full of all the emotions Jamie had let build up in his dreams. He poured them into it, opening his mouth wide and licking into John's. John took Jamie's bottom lip into his mouth and sucked on it and Jamie moaned. John broke the kiss and spread more oil on his hand, slicking Jamie again.
Jamie withdrew his fingers and John lifted his hips as he positioned himself to enter him. "You can have me now, Jamie," John whispered, watching his lover adoringly.

Jamie pressed in slowly, lifting his hips a bit and letting John control the rest. He sank down with a groan, once again resting his head on Jamie's shoulder and panting hotly in his ear.

Jamie held still, letting John adjust, and when he seemed to have caught his breath, he pulled back and met a piercing gaze. John was watching him intently and when their eyes met, began to rock.

Jamie took him in hand and they moved slowly together, John's hands resting on his shoulders and his lithe soldier's body moving like a concubine.

Jamie dug his fingers into John's hips and starting rolling his own more quickly. The chair wobbled and Jamie decided falling to the floor a second time wasn't worth it. Without pulling out, he held John tightly to him and stood, carrying him to the bed.

He sat on the edge and resumed his frantic thrusting up into John. John's eyes closed tightly, his head tipped back, and Jamie tugged at his manhood in time with his thrusts. They were both breathing heavily now, trying to stifle their grunts and moans and John spilled suddenly into Jamie's hand, his arse clenching down on him, just as he'd described a few days ago. When he finished, Jamie pulled out, stroked himself twice, and spilled on his thighs.

 

A few moments later, John sat on the edge of the bed - Jamie lying on top of it - and pulled on his boots. "One more for the road?" Jamie asked him. John looked at him in surprise and he laughed. "I meant a drink."
"Oh, ha, of course."
They moved back to the table and Jamie poured out two more glasses of the whiskey, setting one down in front of John and sipping his own.

Jamie seemed to be thinking about something, then came to a decision "Can I ask you a question?" he asked "It's rather...personal." John was surprised. He didn't think their present situation was very impersonal, and they had already told eachother all their secrets. Well, Jamie probably had many more, but John had none. "You can ask me anything," he said.
Jamie sipped his drink then said, carefully, "How is it that you are able to take me as ye do...after our shared past?"
Oh, John thought, that was personal. But not altogether unexpected. It was a legitimate question. Jamie misread his hesitation to answer and quickly said
"I dinna mean to judge. I wish to know how, because as ye ken, I canna even consider it." John looked at him sympathetically. He could relate.

"Well, since you ask, I usually don't."
Jamie's brow shot up and John chuckled.
"A handful of times the last several years, I'd say. You, Percy, but just once, and that...friend...I mentioned." Jamie had met Stephan von Namtzen at the Beefsteak, so John didn't want to say his name and reveal another's secret. "But it took some time. The first was an old lover a few years after my incident. I can only allow it with people I trust, and I mean greatly. Others try, but I don't entertain the idea and they bend." He gave Jamie a lascivious look and winked.
"I can't explain how it happened. This particular man was very...persuasive. He was patient and caring about it, but rather persistent about voicing his desires. One night, we were quite inebriated, and I let him touch me there. I liked it, so the next time we were together, he kissed me. It simply progressed from there and I discovered again how much I liked it. Under the right circumstances, as I said."

Jamie was silent for a moment, considering this. Before he could speak, though, John said "You and I are very different, though. Our experiences are very different, yes, but also...I am attracted to men. I enjoy their manhood. I fall in love with them, sometimes." He trailed off then, not wishing to make his feelings any clearer than they were. Jamie took his hand saying "I am attracted to you, John. I hope ye ken that. But you're right. Ye ken ye'll never have me that way, aye?"

John wasnt sure if he was referring to taking him as a man or as a proper lover, but he knew he would never have neither his arse or his heart. He gave Jamie a tight smile, stroked his thumb over his hand and said "Of course I know that. Don't worry, Jamie, I know exactly what this is." He stood then, drained his glass, and said "We should get some rest, we have a lot of riding tomorrow." Jamie grabbed his hand before he could go "John..." "Really, Jamie. No hard feelings." He kissed him to prove his point and left.

Chapter Text

Jamie stayed in his chair for a while after John left. He sipped his whiskey bitterly.
Will I ever say the right thing at the right time to him other than 'May I stick my cock in yer arse'? he thought to himself, and gave up the drink in favor of his bed.

What he had wanted to tell John was that he cared for him, enough to count him as a great friend, and that he had actually tried to imagine letting John have him that way, but simply couldn't. He had wanted John to help him learn how to overcome the fear, but when he had spoken about his feelings for men, Jamie felt it was a lost cause. But it had come out all wrong, and now Jamie feared he had rubbed his face in the fact that he could not give him more than what they had now, and right after making love to him to boot.

He considered going to him now. If he waited until morning, John would be all noble about it. He could just imagine spending the next day on horseback, both of them silent. No, he thought, and slipped from his bed.

He banged on his door twice and when it was flung open, a very bewildered John stood on the other side in his sleeping gown, cheeks flushed and brow raised.
"I need to speak to you," Jamie said, and pushed past him before he could reply.
He stood in the middle of the room and turned to face him as he shut the door, looking very concerned. "Is everything alright?"
"Nay. I...I need to make right what I said earlier." John shook his head and said "Jamie, I under..." "Hush!" Jamie moved to him and placed his finger on John's lips.
John quirked his brow, glanced at the finger, and murmured "O-kay..." from behind it.

"Ye need to hear me, John. I came here to say.." he paused. He wasn't sure exactly what he came to say now. He placed his hand on his hip and pointed at John. "I came here to say that...that ye have been a great comfort to me. That...that I canna thank ye for...oh, Christ!" He let his hand drop and moved to sit on John's bed. John went with him but did not speak.

"At one point in my life I could express myself much better than this. I used to let the words pour like wine. But now they're all jumbled up inside my head, swirling in my misery and I canna fish them out."
He stood up again, breathing heavily and wringing his hair for the words. Finally, he looked at John's bewildered face, took a deep breath and said "I came here to tell ye that I care about ye verra much. That the kindness, and the love, ye have shown me these last years has meant everything to me. I canna think where I'd be now without ye. But I canna repay ye properly. I want to give ye everything your soul desires. When I asked how ye could...well, it was because I want to give that to ye, too. Ye...described to me...how it felt...and I lay awake the next night in my bed and tried to imagine letting ye make me feel that way. But..."

But as soon as he had, images of Black Jack swam before him. "But I cannot."
John moved to say something but Jamie held up his hand. "I know ye understand that, because that is who ye are, perpetually understanding. But the other thing...the way ye care for me. I want ye to have someone to care for ye like that. And I canna give that to ye either. I canna give ye my heart, because it's not mine anymore." He sat next to John and said, quieter now, "All I can give ye is my body, which I am pleased to share with ye. Verra. Pleased. And my friendship, my deep friendship. Tis not a payment, I ken how ye feel about such ideas. Tis...an oath." Suddenly an idea occured him. "May I borrow yer sword?"

John had been staring at him like a raving lunatic through all this, but now he blinked at him and said hoarsely "M-my sword?"
"Aye," Jamie said, and before waiting for an answer he rose from the bed and retrieved it from it from its scabbard.

He knelt before John, looked him in his bonnie blue eyes, and said
"John William Grey, second son of Viscount Melton, I swear, by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the holy iron that I hold,  to give ye my fealty and to pledge ye my loyalty, in the name of Clan Fraser. And if ever I shall raise my hand against ye in rebellion, I ask that this holy iron shall pierce my heart."

He bowed his head before him and waited. John had tears streaming down his cheeks, and he reached forward to caress Jamie's hair. "Jesus, Jamie..." he whispered, and Jamie looked up at him again. "Do ye accept my oath? Do ye understand what I'm sayin' to ye?"
John was trying to stem his tears and catch his breath. Jamie remained on his knees before him.

Finally, John stood and said "Come here, you tender giant," and wrapped Jamie in his arms. They embraced warmly, as friends, as lovers, as clansmen. "Thank you," he said into Jamie's chest, and then stepped back. "Thank you. I accept your oath. It was beautiful. And you have mine as well. Should I use the sword?"
Jamie laughed roughly, his emotions getting the better of him now, too. "Nay. Yer word is always enough."
"Well then, may I respond to some of the other things you said tonight?"
"Aye, if ye must."

Jamie didn't need to hear John say he didn't want Jamie's body that way. He knew he did, of course he did, and he had said that was how he usually did it. He should have known that. For some time, he had thought John a bit of a mollie, soft in the loafers. But he knew now that John was a fierce adversary to have. That he could hold his own in battle and everywhere else. He had seen his tempers flare, had felt the chill that one icy glare from Lord John Grey could bring. He was a soft man only in bed with his lovers, and according to him, only when he wanted to be so.

Now he sat at the table in his room and said "We may as well have one more drink together." Jamie sat with him and took the glass he offered, taking a big gulp and then holding it in his hand tightly. John watched him, smiling.
"That really was a very lovely...no, powerful...oath you gave. Is that a Scottish tradition?" "Aye. Such oaths are usually reserved for the laird, but I have been known to break the rule and swear it to people I care for. I made the same promise to Claire once."
John's jaw dropped. "My...well...I..."
Jamie smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "Ye had something ye wanted to say..."

John cleared his throat and said "Yes, well, I simply wanted to tell you that the thought had never occurred to me that you would ever...let me...in that way. If you wish to ask me questions about it, then of course, I will always answer them to the best of my ability. And I understand where they're coming from. The things you and I have experienced, we can only discuss them with eachother. You are always welcome to talk to me about whatever it is you feel regarding...that. But you may NEVER feel you owe it to me." he added sternly. "And as for the way I feel for you, you cannot control that, nor can I. I know this for fact. Sharing a bed with you has not made me feel more or less for you. So it stands to reason that you cannot control your feelings, either. I do not ask for your heart. I do not resent that you cannot give it to me. You have always had mine, and I count myself very lucky to have your body and friendship in return. And now your oath...that honors me greatly."

"But do you not want that? To have a man who shares his heart with you?"
"Of course I do. And some day I may find him. But what then? Would we share a home? Children?" He laughed at the thought. "I should think most certainly not! Perhaps two hundred years in the future, but as the world stands now, I, and people like me, must take what we are offered."
Jamie tried to remember if Claire had ever mentioned two men sharing a family in her time, but couldn't. "I am very content with the arrangement you and I have, Jamie."

Jamie stood and went to him, pulling him to his feet. He stroked his thumb over John's face and said "Aye. Tis a good arrangement for me as well," and kissed him, long and deep. "I'll allow you your rest now. Sleep well, balach milis."

Chapter Text

John watched Jamie go to his room, where he stopped just before entering and gave him a smile, a blush, and then ducked inside the low doorway. He moved to his own bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to remember the exact words Jamie had spoken to him. That he wanted to surrender his body to him, and his heart, but that he could only give him his oath instead. "If ever I shall raise my hand against ye in rebellion, I ask that this holy iron shall pierce my heart." Well, that was much more than he could have ever dreamed. That was everything.

 

The next day, he, Tom, and Jamie had breakfast together before setting out on their journey. He wanted to snatch Jamie by his curls and drag him to his bed, show him exactly how good he could make him feel. But they had a long day of riding ahead of them. The consolation was that once their guide deposited them on the road to Ballybonaggin and departed his own way toward Athlone, they would be truly alone for the first time...ever. The possibilities of such a provenance rolled in his mind, and after a moment, he realized Jamie was looking at him with a sly smile.
Apparently, he had been caressing his tankard a bit suggestively. He blushed, cleared his throat, and went back to his breakfast. He had very important work to do here, and he couldn't let such thoughts run away with him. This was a mission, not a honeymoon.

Once they had set Tom along his way with the carriage, they met their newly acquired field guide, a man by the name of Collin O'Shea, who assured them he knew where to find Siverly in Roscommon County. It would be a two days' ride, they would make camp in twenty miles, and ride with him until around midday the next day. Their plan then was to make camp again near Siverly's home and ring his door the next morning. It was a good plan and with any luck they'd be back in Englad in a week. And then Jamie would be sent back to Helwater. He shook his head, not wishing to think of that now. They had time. And John had his oath.

Jamie mounted his horse with the expertise of a Highlander and John nearly lost his breath at the sight. They rode in silence for a few miles, enjoying the scenery, but then O'Shea picked up a raucous chatter and never seemed to take another breath.
"Have ye been long in His Majesty's service Captain Fraser?" John looked at Jamie and tried to stifle a laugh. Jamie did not smile at all. "No' long at all," he answered.
"And you, M'Lord?"O'Shea asked.
"Yes. A great many years," John said.
"And are ye quite skilled with yer sword?"
Jamie shot John a glance and shook his head. "I've managed to stay alive this long," John said. "And why are ye not wearin' a red coat, Sir?" Jamie looked at John again, trying to communicate something with him. "I am not here on His Majesty's service," John said cautiously. "We are here to see a mutual friend." His tone made clear that was an end to his answering any questions of such a nature.

O'Shea changed the subject immediately and began pointing out various birds and flowers along their path, telling stories about people in his village John and Jamie could never possibly care less about, and then began reciting a few limericks that John wanted to write down for Harry. At some point, he stopped his endless jabbering to declare there was a stream up ahead where they could water their horses and break for lunch.

O'Shea offered to set out the food if the other men took the horses downstream a ways to the shallowest waters. Jamie seized the opportunity, quickly gathering their reigns and tugging John by his sleeve. "Ye ken he is probably a Jacobite, aye?" he whispered in John's ear. John turned back to look at the man and found he was watching them. "You think so? I figured at worst he'd try to rob us, but you and I could surely take him together?" He had given Jamie a dagger, which he had stuck in his boot, that morning. He wouldn't leave him unarmed on such a journey. "Aye, we could. But I worry that is not what he has in mind. Watch yer back, John."

They had made it to the stream now, hidden from O'Shea by the large oaks, lush ferns, and tall holy grass, and the horses drank deeply from the waters. John crouched down to take a sip for himself and Jamie suddenly seized him by his arm and pushed him with his body down into the grass, covering his mouth to silence the cry of protest. He removed his hand and kissed him, lavishing his tongue over John's and grinding his hips into him. "I said, watch yer back. And I'll watch yer arse," and he pinched John's bottom before rising and pulling him back to his feet.
John stood still and the let the blood rush back to all the appropriate parts of his body and said "Right, then. Best to be careful."

John had purchased a packed lunch from the tavern and the three men ate quickly, wishing to resume their journey.
"Tis a fine lunch indeed," O'Shea said, picking some chicken from his teeth.
"Must've cost a pretty penny."
John and Jamie glanced at eachother and John noticed Jamie hitching his foot up a bit. He gently shook his head once and said "The cost of doing business with such an accommodating guide as yourself. I thank you for volunteering your services." O'Shea smiled at him and said "Tis my pleasure, M'Lord. Shall we be off?"

They gathered their rubbish, filled their canteens, and resumed their ride. O'Shea resumed his stories.

When night fell, they found their way to an abandoned mill and decided that would be the best place to sleep for the night. Jamie informed the other two that he was going to find a place to relieve himself and John made some excuse about collecting wood for the fire. He found Jamie behind the millhouse. "I think we should sleep in shifts," John told him.
"Aye. I dinna like the wee Irishman. He asks too many odd questions. What did ye tell him in the ship?"
"Nothing, really, the same thing I've told him today. That we are here to see a friend by the name of Gerald Siverly. He asked if I knew the way and I told him I did not. He said he was passing by there and he'd accompany us on horseback."
"Does he ken Siverly?" "He says he does not." "Aye, well, he may no' ken him personally but if he is a Jacobite as I suspect they run in the same circles. A Redcoat on a lonely country road...presents quite the opportunity to bring home a trophy." John shuddered. "I shall stand first watch, then." "No," Jamie said. "Let him alone with me a while. I'll see if I can gather any information."

Chapter Text

They’d hobbled the horses and set them to graze on the lush grass, then supped themselves, decently if not luxuriously, on bread and cheese and dried apples. There hadn’t been much talk over the food; it had been a long day in the saddle, and John made some comment about how he was so knackered he'd be snoring in seconds and settled down on his bedroll.
He let his breathing slow, but tried desperately to stay awake and hear what might be said. After a while, ten, maybe fifteen minutes, O'Shea spoke.

 

"So, Captain Fraser. How'd you come to be in His Majesty's service?"

"The truth is, I am a prisoner on parole. I'm accompanying Lord Grey as a sort of body guard, and because I am acquainted with the gentlemen we seek."

"Well, that makes a lo' more sense, James Mackenzie Fraser. Or do you prefer Red Jamie?"

 

There was silence for a moment, John struggled to keep his breathing at a sleeping rate.

 

"How do ye ken such a name?"

"Oh, I know who ye are. Ye served right alongside the blessed Prince. Ye fought at Culloden. We all thought ye had been kilt."

"Who is all?"

"Oh, don't pretend ye don't know where ye are, laddie. Why else would M'Lord here need himself a body guard? Afraid of Jacobites is he? If he had a battalion with him, maybe he wouldn't be so afraid? What would he do to us, ye think?"

"I dinna ken, and I dinna care. What do you and yer ilk want with me? Why did ye volunteer to aid us?"

 

O'Shea laughed but quieted himself, not wanting to 'wake' John.

 

"We don't want anythin' with ye, laddie. I recognized your name on the ship. You're a war hero, boy! I didn't want to miss my chance to shake your hand."

 

John heard Jamie sigh and a rustle of leaves, the sound of skin meeting skin, and a throat cleared.

 

"I'm no' a hero, I assure you. Culloden wasna a fight it was a massacre. They cut us down like the Angels of Heaven with their fiery swords. I nearly died in the mud with a thousand bodies scattered about, a corpse stemmin' my bleedin'. And I tell ye what, sir, yer Bonnie Prince Charlie wasna by my side. He was watching from his horse, a mile away."

 

John had never heard Jamie talk of Culloden like that, like he was there again.
He remembered it exactly as he described it, save the part about dying in the mud. He hadn't been injured at all, but he had witnessed Hector die the same way. He nearly sobbed then, for Jamie and for his first love, but his soldier's training wouldn't allow it. O'Shea was quiet for a moment, but not a long enough one.

 

"I'm sorry for that, boy-o, truly. But you're here now. You can join the Cause, make Culloden mean something!"

"The Cause is dead! Canna ye see that? Where is Charles Stuart now? Does anyone ken?"

"The Royal Prince will return when we have risen an army! He will lead us into glorious battle against the Redcoats!"

"Hush, man! Or ye'll wake the Redcoat sleeping five yards from ye!"

"The álainn wee lord? Ye aren't afraid of him, surely? He could be easily dealt with."

 

There was a rustling of leaves then, John's fingers settled on the hilt of his dagger, ready to draw, but Jamie spoke again.

 

"Drop that, or I'll break yer arm."

"Come on, lad! If he’s dead, ye could disappear. Nothing easier. You’re safe out of England now; I’ve more than one place in Ireland where ye could lie hidden for a bit, or ye could go across to France should ye feel the need—but who would hunt ye?”

"Apparently ye've never met the Duke of Pardloe, who would hunt me to the ends of the Earth if his brother were no' returned to him safely. But let me make something perfectly clear to ye now: this man has the protection of my body. If any harm comes to him, tis not the Duke ye will need to worry about. There will no' be a rock ye could crawl under or a sea ye could cross or a bloody sanctuary of God Almighty that I will no' find ye. And when I do, I will make ye scream. I will make ye beg for me to take yer life. And I will not do so. Not for days."

 

John nearly pissed himself listening to Jamie talk that way. His voice was a low growl, and he thought he could feel the warmth of the fires of Hell burning in him from where he lay. It was terrifying, and sexy, and if his life weren't being casually threatened so, he'd be damn touched by the sentiment.

 

"What d’ye owe him? Him or his brother? The swarthy-johns have imprisoned ye, enslaved ye! Taken your land, killed your kin and your comrades—”

"My kin and my comrades gave their lives willingly for the Cause! And when we lost there was no' a prince to be found to save us! Ye dinna ken what they did to my country! So dinna speak of it! John Grey and his brother saved my life! They've kept me alive many times and I owe both of them a great debt. This man is my friend. I warn ye now, take yer leave. Go. Now. Ride home and dinna stop til ye get there. If I see yer face again, I will remove yer organs and make you watch while I feed them to yer dogs."

 

John sat up then, his dagger in hand, and glared at O'Shea. The three men rose slowly together, O'Shea holding his hands up in a gesture of peace. He blessedly spoke not another word, got on his horse, and rode off into the night.

Chapter Text

When O'Shea was completely out of sight and they could no longer hear the beat of his horse's hooves, John stood next to Jamie and shook, whether from rage or fear or both, he knew not. "Well then!" he said, trying to steady his voice, "Remind me never to get back on your bad side." He tried smiling at Jamie.

Jamie, though, seized him by his coat. He slammed their mouths together and pushed John against the wall of the millhouse, quickly unlacing his breeches and shoving his hand inside. He stroked John roughly as their teeth clashed and he bit and sucked at John's mouth like the devil had crawled inside him. He released John long enough to undo his own flies and turn him to face the stone wall. "Can ye take me now?" he asked gruffly in John's ear. "Yes. Yes, just do it." John reached into his coat pocket and handed the oil to Jamie. He took it from him, bit off the cap, and poured it onto his member. He lifted John a little off his feet, pulled his breeches over his arse, and quickly penetrated him.

John groaned and bit down on the hand holding him aloft. Jamie rocked into him slower now, and when John said "Don't hold back on my account," began to fuck into him with the intensity of a man who just told someone he'd feed their organs to their dogs. John pulled his lip into his mouth to stifle his wails, and when he tasted blood, he let it go as well as his silence. Jamie was gripping his hips bruisingly and as his thick cock pumped into John, he kept up a steady stream of Gaelic, French, German, and a few English swear words.

He pulled John from the wall and shoved him down onto the ground to his stomach, crawled on top of him, and entered him roughly again as John grappled and grabbed at chunks of grass. As he pounded him brutally into the dirt, John took himself in hand, but before he could stroke himself, Jamie came deep inside him. Jamie pulled out as roughly as he entered and flipped John onto his back, quickly taking him in his mouth. John moaned and thrust upwards, unable to help himself. Jamie choked once, fixed John with a scolding look, and pinned his hips with his hands. He never looked away until John came down his throat.

Chapter Text

The night felt deadly quiet now after the sounds that had echoed through it only moments ago.

John rummaged in his pack for a flask and then sat in front of the fire, watching Jamie move amongst the trees. He knew he was burning off the last vestiges of pre-battle fever and would soon return, weak in the knees and in need of the drink. John himself was shaking a bit now, both from the fact that he had had to lie perfectly still while someone discussed the merits of murdering him, and from the intensity at which Jamie had just used his body to alleviate his bloodlust.

He suddenly wanted nothing more than to sleep, but he knew he wouldn't do so tonight, and neither would Jamie. Collin O'Shea could return with some of those Jacobite friends he had talked about. No, the best plan now was to make way to an inn as soon as the sun rose and rest for a few hours then. They could delay their arrival half a day without causing any issues.

Jamie finally returned to the campsite and dropped his bundle of sticks on the fire. He sat next to John and gestured for the flask. He took a shaky sip and poked at the flames a bit, then turned to him, "I didna hurt ye too badly, did I?" John laughed, his tension dissipating. "Not too badly. I'll be fit to ride by morning." He paused when Jamie didn't reply, then said "So...do you really know how to remove a person's organs while they are still living?"
Jamie narrowed at his eyes at him, and the flames danced in their depths and made his hair shine copper. "No. But I would give it a try." John nodded his head at that and sipped at the flask. If the situation were reversed, if someone had threatened Jamie's life, he would move Heaven and Earth to make that person suffer immeasurable pain.

They sat in silence for a while, watching the tree line and listening for sounds of unwanted company, passing the flask back and forth. Suddenly Jamie spoke, whether to John or just into the night, John wasn't sure. "I have a son."

John looked at Jamie quizzically. He knew Jamie had had a child by Claire, that it had been lost along with her. But he'd never told John anything about the child, if it were a boy or girl, and since he never knew the specifics of what had happened to Claire, he certainly never asked about their baby. Now Jamie seemed to want to discuss it at last so he asked, "Is he...still living?"
"What? Of course he...oh, ye thought I meant...nay. Nay, I dinna ken that child, but I pray for their safety every day. I have a son...at Helwater."

John's jaw dropped as images of Jamie with kitchen girls in the hay ran through his mind. He envisioned Jamie having secret trysts in the meadows at night, romancing some pretty young thing, watching her belly grow from afar in the daylight and talking to the infant in her stomach at night. Was he there when the baby was born? Did he help her through it, weep when the child took breath? Now he pictured Jamie holding a small bundle, pride swelling in his chest as he looked at his son. Did the child have his name? His hair? John was blinking back tears, the familiar envy of fatherhood and even keener and familiar envy of every woman who got to have some part of Jamie that he never would making his eyes sting and his chest ache.

Trying to keep those emotions hidden as best he could, he feigned simple polite curiosity and asked "Would that be the other obligation you spoke of when you first arrived?" Jamie was watching John carefully now but he said "Aye. I have to get back to him, John. I canna be killed here in Ireland, and I canna go to prison for murder. We have to be more careful. He's already lost one parent, and...well, I canna say he's mine, ye see, but I do my best to look out for him. And I've been able to spend time with him of late. I give him riding lessons and..." Jamie knew he'd said too much then. He stopped suddenly and took a sip of the whiskey to stifle his mouth.

But John was putting all the pieces together. "William Ransom," he said, shocked.
Jamie stared at the fire, then he slowly turned and gave John a challenging look.
John was unperturbed though. He knew more than Jamie thought. "Would you like to hear a story about Geneva Dunsany?" he asked, but continued without answer. "Once, a few years ago, Geneva and I were having a drink together late at night. She was prattling on about how handsome Lady Isobel thought I was, how I should ask her to dance at the next ball, et cetera et cetera. You see, Geneva knew my secret. Always had, since we were children. She liked to tease me sometimes, but she would never ever tell. I'm sure of that. Anyway, she sensed that I was not interested in playing her game so she changed tactics. She had seen you and I by the lake earlier that day. She knew I had feelings for you. I suppose she was pouting because I wasn't giving her the attention she deserved so she decided to tell me that she had recently bedded a groom." Jamie's hands began to shake again. "I snapped to attention right away, of course. 'Which groom?' I had wondered, but I said 'Oh?' like I wasn't very interested. She said 'Oh, yes. You know him, I believe.' knowing full well how you came to their service. 'The redheaded one. Mack. He is very handsome, as you know. I thought perhaps HE should have my maidenhead instead of that foul Ellesmere.' I never in my life suspected that you had gotten her with child! Good God, Jamie! The Earl of Ellesmere is your bastard?!"

Jamie stood now and kicked at one of the logs in the fire, sending sparks and embers flying through the air. John flinched but otherwise didn't respond to another one of Jamie's outbursts. He watched as Jamie paced back and forth, pinching the bridge of his nose. Suddenly, the big Scot was towering over him, pointing his finger in his face and snarling "Ye dinna ken as much as ye think ye do, John Grey, and I'll thank ye never to refer to my son as a bastard again!" John stood, too, and hissed "Why would you tell me such a thing? Do you know what could happen to that boy if this were found out? Jesus, Jamie, Geneva Dunsany?! You couldn't find a servant to lay with? You impregnated a Lady!"
"That bitch was no' a lady!" Jamie screamed. Then he swiftly crossed himself and said to the sky "God bless her soul, and forgive me for speaking ill of the dead." John rolled his eyes at the Catholic gesture and tried to take a calming breath.
"So she told ye about our night together, hmm? Did she give ye details?"Jamie asked, angry again.

"As a matter of fact, she did. She told me that you were kind, and gentle, that you made her feel loved. She said your body was beautiful and that your cock was as big as the horses you tend but that you were so tender with her it barely hurt at all. She ripped my heart into pieces for fun and I let her because I needed to hear the words. You are right, the woman was a bitch. But she was my friend, and now she is dead, and her son an orphan. But oh, no, he isn't, is he?"
Jamie grabbed John by his shirt and shook him, growling in his face again, but John was ready. He planted his feet and pushed Jamie with all his might, forcing him to take several staggering steps backwards. Jamie advanced on him again but stopped short, rationality getting the better of him.

He paced a few more times as John watched him warily. Finally he looked at John and he had despair written all over his features. "Did she tell ye how I came to be in her bed? Hmm? When she was telling ye about my cock so ye could wank to the idea later? Did she mention what brought my tender self there?"
John's brow furrowed in general confusion once again and said "No. She did not. I assumed it happened the usual way. That you had seduced her." Jamie laughed, but it was not a pleasant laugh.

"Well that'll teach ye to assume. It was no' a usual situation at all. In fact, I have you and yer brother to thank for it."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Well ye dinna get my pardon this time. That day that Hal came upon us as we play chess? Ye really should have told yer brother what ye'd done with me. Perhaps then he would no' have gotten tipsy on wine and told Lady Dunsany who I really am. Perhaps then she would no' have used my name and my family's safety to blackmail me to her bed. For yer information, My Lord, the only reason I took her gently was because I kent she was a vicious woman who would have me hanged if I fucked her with the brutality I wanted to!"

John's heart did a few things at those words. Part of him was realizing what Jamie was telling him and shattering for it, and part of him was disgusted to hear Jamie say such things, but knew keenly where the sentiment came from. He also knew that Jamie wouldn't have done that even if he had thought she'd never tell a soul. But Jamie, upon hearing his own declaration, now fell to his knees in sorrow and regret.

"I dinna mean that," he said. "The girl was just a lass. A stupid, mean lass, but a lass." He crossed himself once more and John resisted the urge to roll his eyes this time. Instead he went to him and placed his hand on his head. "Jamie, I'm sorry. Sorry I got so angry at you. Obviously, I was greatly mistaken in thinking you'd seduced her and left her with your...illegitimate child. I should have known you better than that. And I am so sorry for what she did to you. You are right. She was a stupid and mean girl. A lot of young girls in my world are that way. I do not wish to defend her to you now, knowing what she did, but I don't believe she could have known how dangerous a situation she was creating. Or how she was hurting you." Raping you, John thought with disgust. "I ken that. But here we are."

Jamie was sitting on his bottom now, poking a stick he had picked up into the dirt. John sat next to him and the two men watched the logs in the fire break and turn to ash. Finally Jamie said "I did no' tell ye this to unburden myself or receive yer sympathies. I simply needed ye to know that I must get back to Helwater. As soon as I am able." He turned and looked at John and John finally knew what he was trying to say. He had other obligations, and he couldn't let John get in the way of fulfilling them. Whatever feelings had spurred him to threaten a man's life and limbs, they weren't as important as getting home to William.
"I understand," John said, and it felt like a thousand sewing needles were being driven into his heart.
"I'll have you back where you belong soon."

Chapter Text

Jamie moved closer to John and took his hands in his. He stroked over his palm with his finger for a few moments then said "John, if ye think I dinna stand by the oath I made to ye anymore, ye're wrong. Ye have my loyalty and my fealty until I die. And I was bein' truthful when I told that wretch ye have the protection of my body. But ye ken ye offered me the same. I only ask that ye be aware of what is at stake here."
John swallowed and laced their fingers together, then he looked in Jamie's eyes.
"Do you think I'd be less inclined to keep you alive if I did not know about William?"
"Nay. I ken ye would have gutted that slimy fish if ye had needed to. But if we leave a bloody trail through this country, only one of us will end up at the end of a noose. We both ken it will no' be Pardloe's younger brother."

John withdrew his hand sharply at that and stared at Jamie in disbelief. "Do you truly believe I would allow that?" "I dinna ken how ye would have a choice, John!"
"Well, let us consider. My brother is a Duke, so there is that. His protection in this matter would extend to you, naturally. There is also the fact that I would break you out of any prison they tried to stick you in. Or I could simply ride into your execution and steal you away to safety. I assure you, I will never see you hanged!" John was trembling now, he was baring his teeth and his eyes looked likely to pop out of his head any moment.

Jamie knew that John was very serious as he said this, and he tried not to laugh. But he could not contain it. He fell to his back and howled with laughter, clutching his stomach and rolling in the dirt. John watched him, bemused and insulted.
"Oh, John, dinna give me that look," Jamie told him as he tried to stop his laughter. "Ye...ye...oh, I am sorry, John." John had started to blush and he was now looking sorrowfully at the fire again. Jamie sat up again and brushed the leaves and dirt from his hair. He put an arm around John and said "C'mon. Forgive me. 'Twas just the image of ye sweeping in on yer horse and cuttin' me down from the gallows and then ridin' off into the sunset with me at yer back!" John looked at him scornfully again, but Jamie could tell he was trying not to laugh. "I appreciate ye bein' so protective of my neck. 'Tis verra noble," he said, and poked John in the ribs. John smiled at last and ducked his head, pulling away from more of Jamie's pokes and teasing.

They were laughing together now and Jamie felt relieved. He and John were finally alone on a lone country road. There was no' but the squirrels and the insects to witness or hear them. He rolled onto his back and lay his head in John's lap. John was surprised, but quickly accepted the situation and began carding his fingers through Jamie's curls.

"Do ye not want children, M'Lord?" He felt John's fingers pause in their movements. He resumed immediately, though, and said "Of course I do. Does not any man wish to see his line continue?" "Aye. But I dinna ken what...no. Nevermind. I suppose not all men wish for it, though. I kent two men, Angus and Rupert. Best friends and bachelors for life, they always said. Short lives they were, may God bless their souls. But they never wanted to settle down, anyway."
"You know those two men were most likely lovers, don't you?" John said suddenly, sounding quite sure of himself.

Jamie sat up and stared at him, mouth agape. "No! No they were good Catholics! They were Scottish! They could no' be..."
It was John's turn to laugh in the dirt now. He was pointing at Jamie and tears streamed down his face and into his hair, splayed on the ground beneath him. Jamie couldn't understand what was funny this time. "My God, man!" John said loudly when he had finished. "Do you really believe that there are no Scottish Catholic sodomites? In case it has escaped your notice, you are both Scottish and Catholic, and thrice now, nay, four times, you have committed acts of sodomy."
Jamie could find no argument to make to that, so he settled for picking the leaves out of John's hair instead.

"But Rupert and Angus? No, ye must be mistaken. If ye had seen these two, ye would no' think of them as...well, they weren't what ye'd call bonnie. And neither washed very often," he added laughing. "They were warriors! Braw and feral! They could no' have been..." He trailed off, trying to envision it, but shook his head.
John chuckled again at him and he was beginning to understand why John had been so indignant earlier when he had been the brunt of the joke.

"My dear Jamie, you have to know not all men who take other men as lovers are 'bonnie.' And questionable hygiene aside, warriors...soldiers...men who spend their lives in each other's company and not often with women...? Let me ask you this: were they very fond of eachother?"
"Aye. They were kinsmen. They were my kinsmen, as well. I was also very fond of them," Jamie said quietly. He missed them greatly, and this was the first time he had spoken it aloud since Culloden.
"But were they...particularly...fond of eachother? Did they spend most of their time together? Did they do battle together, swear their lives to one another? Did they often...wander off together?"
Jamie let his fingers fall from John's hair.
His brow furrowed and his mouth hung open like a codfish. "Mary Mother of God..." he said slowly, truth dawning on him. "Rupert...and Angus...?"
He shook his head to rid himself of the image and said "Well that will no' aid me in gettin' hard enough to have ye later."

John laughed and rolled his eyes at that but did not reply. They were both quiet for a while, and Jamie got up to add another log to the fire. He lay his head back in John's lap and said "Do ye ken many such men, then? In the Army?" John thought about it for a moment.
"I cannot say I know for a fact. I suspect many, many men. Both in the Army and through society. But you cannot know these things for certain without...testing your hypothesis, so to speak. And while I have...had my share...of test subjects...I assure you I have not slept with the whole of London or His Majesty's Army. But yes. There are more of us than you think." And he gave Jamie a predatory glare and a wink that sent shudders down his spine.

They had emptied the flask now but Jamie still had his. He retrieved it from his saddle bag and took a long draw then offered it to John. He liked it when they were both a wee tipsy. They relaxed and let their usually solemn demeanors drift away.

"And do ye all bed women? Ye told me once ye had been with married men. Will you one day wed a woman, bed her, have her bear yer children? ...come to Helwater to visit me?" John looked at him now with something Jamie couldn't recognize.
"Why do you ask me such a question?"
Jamie wasn't certain what had made him ask. He supposed he wanted to know that John would one day have the children he wanted, even if he could never have a man to share his home and heart. He told him as such and added "But I suppose I wonder if ye will..." he almost said "abandon me" but decided on "put an end to yer visits," instead.

John seemed to sense the unspoken words, but could muster no response for some time. After a while he said "There are a few reasons men like myself marry. For most, it is to keep up appearances. For some, it is a sense of duty to continue their name or title. And I suppose some seek companionship they cannot achieve elsewhere, as the world is now. I myself do not seek any of those things, at least not in a permanent way. So it stands to reason I shall never marry. But if I were to do so, my sense of honor would prevent me from disgracing the lady. No, I do not think I should seek...carnal pleasures...outside the marriage bed." He looked at Jamie then and playfully added "All the more reason never to engage in such matters. I rather delight in the way I live my life now. But...allow me to ask, if you were to find someone, a woman, to share your heart with again, would you even wish me to continue visiting you? I doubt so very much."

Jamie could not argue with that. He kent if he were to fall in love with a woman, he would never take John to his bed again. But "I canna say I can see such a day in my future, either. My heart...well, for a woman to enter yer heart ye must first open it to her. My heart is no' only closed, but for a long time I feared it cold and lifeless. William's birth brought me to life again, but tis a small door I've opened for him, only the bairn can fit through it."
John nodded slowly and said "Then it appears our...situation...serves us both well." Jamie smiled and took John's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Aye. So it does"

He lifted John's chin with his finger and kissed him deeply, pressing his body down. They made love slowly, loudly, in the soft holy grass of an Irish meadow.

Chapter Text

John sat alone in the greenhouse of Argus House. Hal had taken the boys to the park to release some of their energies and Jamie was currently occupying the library, trying to decide which books to take with him on his return to Helwater. Hal had made him the offer the night before, to take as many as he liked. Jamie, of course, had declined the offer graciously, and Hal had, of course, insisted. Both Grey brothers were incredibly grateful to Jamie, and Hal had been making various offers to him every day since they had arrived back in London. John knew Jamie was uncomfortable with it, but he could not stand in his brother's way of expressing his gratitude.

They had arrived at Siverly's home just over two weeks ago and found him amiable and welcoming. He had invited them to stay and they accepted, planning to confront him the following morning and attempt to negotiate his terms of surrender. But they had not received the chance. John had woken somewhere near dawn to Jamie's hand on his mouth and the gleam of a dagger in the moonlight.
"We have to go now, John." he had whispered.

John pinched his nose and closed his eyes, trying to remember everything that had happened that night, but he was still struggling to regain his memories.
The door to the greenhouse opened and he
looked up to see Minnie enter with Dottie on her hip. She handed the baby to him as she sat and he held her tightly, smelling her hair and bouncing her on his knee gently. Since he had been home, he had been more attached to her than ever. Minnie watched them together for a moment, smiling.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"I am fine, Sister. Truly. I keep telling you all this. My head doesn't hurt, the burns have healed, my wounded pride will return soon enough," he smiled at her, trying to convince her that all was well. But Minnie narrowed her eyes at him and he knew he was not going to get away.

"I am glad to hear your body is faring well, at last. But I was referring to how you feel here, John," and she pressed her hand to his heart. "I know you feel some guilt over Gerald Siverly's death, but you know it was not your fault. You did not set that fire."
No, John thought, I only nearly died in it.
"I have many things to feel guilty for regarding that journey, but I assure you that is not what is on my mind now. Really, Minnie, you don't need to worry about me. Neither does Hal, and you can tell him I said so."

"And what of your Captain Fraser? Shall I tell him he needn't worry about you so?" John was engrossed in Dottie again, tickling her feet and delighting in her squeals and giggles. "He isn't actually mine, you know," he said without thinking.

He shut his mouth quickly and dared a glance at his sister in law. She was watching him shrewdly. "I am just his parole officer, not his personal jailer," he amended. "If the pardon comes through today, I won't even be that." He fell to silence again. This was the heart of the matter. If all went according to plan, tomorrow Jamie would return to Helwater a free man. John would escort him there, deliver his papers to Lord Dunsany, and recommend to him, at Jamie's request, that he keep him on as a paid groom. They knew he would do so, Jamie was his best man and he owed him a debt.

"John...is" Minnie spoke hesitantly, as if she weren't sure she wanted to say her next words. But Minnie was not one to shy from confrontation, and her concern for John's well being was outweighing her respect for his privacy. "John, is there something going on between you and Captain Fraser?"

John's fingers tightened in Dottie's gowns and he stopped breathing. Minnie quickly laid her hand on his and said "It's okay! Don't panic. I've known for a long time." He looked at her sharply "I do not know what you are implying, Madam. Fraser is a prisoner. He has become a friend. Due to...you know...saving my life...and such."
Minnie was unwavering. "John. I know."
He took a shaky breath, recognizing a lost cause when he saw one, and gave Dottie back to her mother.
"Does Hal know?"

Minnie knew John's greatest fear would always be Hal's disapproval, not society's. Though society's disapproval was the much greater threat to his life. She took his hand to reassure him that all was well. "Please. Women see things men do not. And Hal can't see the forest for the trees, you know that. I would never tell him."

"But how did you know? Have I not been discreet?" Minnie laughed gently and said
"I have never witnessed you in a compromising position, I assure you. But I have also never witnessed you engaging with ladies. Oh, you dance with them at balls and you chat politely with every woman Hal and I and all the mamas of London sit next to you. But you have never once showed genuine interest in any of them. I would assume you are simply uninterested in marriage, and that perhaps you visit brothels, like most men. But Hal tells me that when you go, you rarely venture upstairs."

"Perhaps I simply regard my honor more highly than those brothel dwelling heathens?" He said, shoving down the guilt that in fact he were a brothel dwelling heathen, under the right circumstances.
"Or perhaps those particular brothels don't hold anything to pique your interest?" Minnie smiled at him "You are also the most well dressed man I have ever laid eyes upon. You could have any woman in London, and you spend your nights alone. I have often prayed that you would find happiness, and when Captain Fraser was so unceremoniously deposited in our home, I think you found it. You...you seemed lighter, pleased to have him here. And after your return...John, he was at your bedside every day. I thought he was going a bit mad on more than one occasion. Hal even turned a blind eye to the rosary, he was so deep in prayer for you."

John closed his eyes and tried to stop the tears from falling. He could not believe he was having this conversation. As reassuring as Minnie had been, it was still terrifying to discuss his proclivities with anyone who did not indulge in them as well. That is why men did not share their nature with others they suspected of being like minded without sleeping with them. Mutually assured destruction was the only way to be sure. But the idea that Jamie had been there through his convalescence touched him as well. He hadn't known that.

When he had awoken six days ago, Minnie had been there. She had run immediately to the door and alerted the house he was awake. Hal had come in swiftly, Jamie right on his heels, but he stood back as John's family fussed over him. When he told them he had no recollection of how he came to be here, they had quickly caught him up.

There was a fire, they said. Burglars had set upon Siverly's home, there was a scuffle, a candelabra had overturned, the men had escaped but Siverly was yet upstairs, John tried to rescue him but the old wooden frame of the house went up quick and a beam had fallen on him. Jamie had risked his life to get him out of the house. John remembered enough to know that some of those details were lies Jamie must have told, but he was sure the part about risking his life to save him was true, and had said nothing.

They told him that Tom Byrd had seen the smoke as he approached the house in the carriage and rushed to get there. He found Jamie on the road, singed, delirious from the smoke, and apparently trying to carry John's unconscious body to town. They had departed immediately for a doctor, who had treated John's and Jamie's burns, but had told them his head would need time to heal and that they should bring him home to his family, in case it didn't.

The burns on his body had not been bad, and had mostly healed by the time he awoke from his head injury. There would be scars, but he had been very lucky, and they would not be deep, or visible when he was dressed. His head had ached something awful and he had pressed a hand to the back of it, feeling a goose egg there the size of an orange. In the days that had followed, as John began moving about the house again and aiding Hal in the matters that had arisen in their wake of destruction, he and Jamie never had a chance to be alone, or to discuss what had really happened.

Now he was sitting, safe and sound, in his brother's home, about to confess to his wife his deepest secret.

"I love him," he said, and his heart broke with the confession. He hastily wiped his tears away. He would not let her think he was finally dropping a masculine facade to reveal the whimpering sodomite within.
"I have loved him for years. I am sure this confession is repugnant to you, but I wish you to know I am not a pervert simply seeking gratification from whatever prisoner I can coerce into having me."
Minnie was deeply affronted at that.
"John Grey! How dare you? You know me better than that! And I know you better than that. Do you think I would have called you out as such if I believed that is what is going on? I can see your feelings for eachother, and that it is causing you pain. I only wish to help, if I can. I am not fit to judge either of you."

John looked up at her and saw that she was looking at him kindly, gently rocking his goddaughter in her lap. He reached out and stroked the baby's back. She was falling asleep now. "Forgive me," he said.
"I am not accustomed to talking to anyone about this. And I appreciate your concern, but I'm afraid there is nothing you can do. Captain Fraser...Jamie...he does not share my feelings. He can't. I have known that for as long as I have known him, but now...
Well, things have changed. We have...connected. We have been to bed, yes. But...we have shared ourselves with eachother more deeply. And obviously, I suppose I am swooning a bit at his heroics," he admitted sheepishly.

Minnie thought for a moment about this, then said "Well, I suppose I don't know much about what happens between two men in a bedroom, but I know what caring deeply for someone looks like. Perhaps he cannot love you the way you say, you would know better than I, but I am certain that the man who showed up at our doorstep with you in his bandaged arms, who carried you to your bed and scarcely left, who cried without shame and begged God not to take you...that man cares for you. Deeply."

John could hold it back no longer, he buried his face in his hands and wept. He was long accustomed to his unrequited love, but the events of the last several weeks were taking hold on every part of him. It wasn't just the fact that he felt Jamie would never accept him as a lover, not in any real way, it was that he had grown accustomed to having him around, to whatever rendezvous they could conduct in secret, but also to their late night talks, his presence at the breakfast table. And now Jamie was to be free at last, but he would not take that freedom. Because maybe he did not want John to die, maybe he did care deeply for him, but he had no intentions of leaving his son and taking up a life where he and John could perhaps meet more often. To the contrary, now that he would no longer be under John's care, John would not be able to visit Helwater so frequently. He thought perhaps another year would pass before they could meet again and a new flood of tears greeted the idea.

He told all of this to Minnie, leaving out any mention of Jamie's secrets, as she stroked his back and whispered soothing words to him. Suddenly, the door to the greenhouse opened and Jamie was there before them, looking alarmed. "Lord John! What's happened? Is it yer head?" He rushed to him but Minnie stood. "He's alright, Captain. He just had a bit of a turn."

Jamie seemed to realize he had caught them in a private moment and blushed. "Oh. Forgive me, Your Grace. I dinna mean to intrude. I'll take my leave." Before he could go, Hal had joined the lot and also rushed to John, thinking him ill. "What's all this then? Are you alright, Little Brother?" "Oh for Christ's sake," John muttered at the term, and Minnie finally came to his rescue. "Do you men require something from poor John or can we all return to the house and leave him in peace?"

Hal looked suspiciously between the two of them, wondering what could have caused his brother to be in such a state, but instead turned to his wife and said "Yes, as a matter of fact, we have come to share the good news. Captain James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser is officially a pardoned man."

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Jamie watched John carefully as he raised the glass of champagne to his lips. He was honored that the Duke and Duchess saw fit to toast his freedom with so much flair, but he was deeply concerned about what had caused him to find John weeping in his sister in law's arms. They hadn't been alone for more than a few moments in weeks, and he was aching to go to him every night since he awoke, but even though he had only wanted to talk to him, John's injuries and need for rest had kept him away. Instead, he had lay in his own bed, thanking God for John's safety and healing and making all sorts of promises in return.

But tomorrow they would be on the road to Helwater. He and John would ride in the carriage and Tom Byrd would be on horseback this time. Pardloe had also insisted on sending two Redcoat privates as armed escorts, but, he had assured, not the two who had previously been sent on this trek. They would have privacy, but not much. And once they returned to Helwater, he didn't know how much time they would have at all. He knew John was confused about that night. He'd have to go to him tonight, to put his mind at ease about Siverly's death, and perhaps they could find comfort in eachother's arms once more.

"So, Captain Fraser," Hal said as they all sat to dinner, "tomorrow you shall return to Helwater, eh? If I may be so impertinent, why do you not return to Lallybroch now that you are free to do so?"
Jamie took a sip of his glass, taking a moment to organize his lies. "Well, my sister Jenny and her husband have been running the estate now for nigh on twenty years. My presence there will only disrupt them."
Hal laughed and said "Well, I should think they would learn to cope!"
Minnie and John both gave him scolding looks and he changed the subject. "Apologies. It is your business, after all! Please tell me you accepted my offer to have your choice of any books from the library."
"Aye, Your Grace. I thank ye. 'Twas very generous of you." "Nonsense. It is nothing compared to what you have given me," and he smiled at his brother who smiled back and raised his glass.
Jami glanced at John and saw he was watching him. He tried a small smile, but John only went back to his meal. He knew then for certain that something was amiss, and it made him more determined to take some time alone with him tonight.

"Well, then," Hal said now, "how about one more round of brandies with us before you leave? Minnie my dear, would you like to join us tonight?" Minnie laughed and went with them gladly. They all drank too much, laughed a bit too loudly, and when Jamie thought he would pass out in his bath if he had any more, he begged his leave and departed to his chamber.

As he sank into the hot water, he kept one ear out for John's return to his own room, and let the rest of his mind wander. Up until this point, he had scarcely allowed himself to simply think. He had spent his days since John awoke keeping busy - helping in the garden, playing with the children, reading, helping Pardloe with business - anything that would distract him from his worries about John, thoughts of that dreadful night, of his impending departure. He longed to return to William. But he wondered now how it would be to return to a life of servitude when he has other options...many, better options.
There is no better option than the bairn, he thought to himself, and smiled. Only two more days. I'll be home in two days, Willy.

 

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John remained in the drawing room with his family for a while after Jamie had left. Hal had poured more brandy and watched John take a few sips before asking "So why were you in tears today, Brother? You're not feeling unwell? You know you can't travel if your head is aching again."
John looked at him incredulously and laughed. "And I suppose plying me with alcohol is meant to make my head better?"

This was just another failed attempt his brother had made in the last few days to convince John not to go to Helwater. He said he was worried the journey would be hard for John, who was clearly still recovering, but he also knew Hal was still a bit apprehensive about letting John out of his sight so soon, lest he never return.
He always knew his brother loved him, and the sentiment was obviously returned, but Hal had never been what one would call 'affectionate' before. He had been lately and John found it disturbing.

"I simply do not understand why Captain Fraser can't just borrow the carriage." "Because I owe it to him to see him there and make sure all goes well with his release and rehire."
"I will send the privates with him if you are worried for his safety."
John scoffed at that. "Oh, because we didn't learn our lesson the first time we stuck him in the custody of two Redcoats?"
Hal wagged a finger at him. "You know, John, you have taken to using that word quite a bit recently and..."
"Alright!" Minnie shouted, and she spilled her a drink a little as she stood and offered Hal her arm. "Your Grace, will you please escort your wife to her chambers?" She looked at John mischievously as Hal stood and accepted her arm graciously.
"Lord Grey, we beg your leave. Sleep well, you have a long journey tomorrow," and she kissed his cheek as they departed.

He watched them leave together, chuckling to himself when she looked back at him and winked. He finished his drink and poured another, contemplating heading to bed himself, but he had spent enough time there recently. He made his way to the library instead. As he stood in the doorway, he remembered the night Jamie had appeared without warning in Hal's office. He had found him here later, looking like a gentleman and a scholar. John's chest ached at the memory. He thought of going to the greenhouse instead, but memories of asking Jamie to his bed were there. Jamie was in Hal's office, the garden shed, the kitchen, the nursery, his own bed smelled like him still. He made up his mind then and there that once he had deposited a free James Fraser at Helwater, he would not return to London.
Fuck it all to hell, he thought bitterly, and drained his glass, leaving it on the credenza in the hall for the butler to deal with and mounting the stairs.

He had every intention of going to his rooms, but found himself in front of Jamie's instead, and before he was aware of his actions, he was knocking loudly on the door. It flew open and he fell forward a bit at its loss. Jamie caught him immediately and set him back on his feet.
"Christ, John, are ye alright? Have ye had another turn?" Jamie's hands were on his face, in his hair, trying to bring his head up to look at him. "I'm fine. Just fine." John said, patting Jamie's naked chest and slurring a bit.

"Stinking of brandy, that's what ye are. Get in here, sit down before ye hurt yerself." He navigated John to the bed and then moved to pull on his nightshirt, letting the flannel around his waist drop once it was on. John looked up at him, standing there in only a slip of linen, the red hair on his bare legs caught in the fire light, and a low moan formed in his throat which he promptly swallowed down.

Jamie fixed him with a scolding look and said "None of that, ye wee drunkard." He sat next to John and removed the ribbon from his hair, letting it fall around his shoulders and running a hand through it. He massaged the back of his head, where his wound had been not long ago, and smiled as John melted into the touch.
"How are you feeling, balach milis?" he asked softly. But John pulled away at that and scowled.

"I truly wish you would all stop asking me that. I am fine! I feel completely myself again! I'll prove it to you now." And he moved to climb atop Jamie, who promptly shoved him back down onto the bed.
"Pardon me, My Lord. I am verra sorry ye feel so put out by our concerns. Perhaps ye'd like to run into another burnin' building to prove to us all how well ye are?"

John pouted a bit but was just sober enough to realize he was doing so and he rolled away, off the bed, and staggered a bit to the chair. He fixed Jamie with an accusatory glare and said "Is that why you won't see me alone, because you are angry with me? Do you regret coming in after me?" He braced himself, expecting Jamie to have one of his outbursts.

But Jamie did not move. He stared at John, jaw clenched and twitching, his hands fisted in the blankets. He seemed to lose whatever battle he was fighting with himself and put his head down, tears falling from his cheeks. John nearly went to him, but knew when Jamie was like this the worst thing he could do was touch him. After a moment, Jamie spoke in a low voice, and John had to lean forward to hear him "You wee English bastard."
And there it is, thought John, a little smug.

Chapter Text

Dinna strike him, James Fraser. Dinna strike the wee Lord. Ye are in his home, ye are freed, it will no' do well to slap the Duke's brain damaged brother now.
Jamie gripped the blankets on his bed and clamped his mouth shut. He could feel the rage and desire and sadness rolling off his body in waves and underneath all of it, a sickening feeling of relief that at least John was well enough to pick a fight with him.

He closed his eyes and let the tears fall at the realization, muttering "You wee English bastard." He looked up at John and saw the hint of a smirk on his face and he had to roll through his reasons not to strike him again. If he didn't switch tactics, this night would quickly devolve into a shouting match. "Is this why ye came tonight, John? To argue with me? Or did yer lust bring ye here? Were ye hoping to...rile me up with yer insolence and I'd simply have ye, no care to yer injuries? Well, if that's what ye want, come on, then. Come bend over my knee and I'll give ye what ye want."

John looked at him apprehensively, apparently quite unsure whether Jamie was joking or not. Jamie stood and moved slowly toward him, rather enjoying the way he shrank back into his chair. "What's the matter, My Lord? Were ye no' hopin' to mount me a few moments ago? Dinna ye want to prove ye're well? Ye needn't try to upset me to get what ye want." He reached for the belt that had been draped over the back of John's chair and snapped it once. "Do ye wish me to spank ye?"

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John stared at Jamie, a mix of terror and utter desire rolling sluggishly with the brandy through his body. Jamie towered over him, his belt in hand, and slowly moved closer, closer...he brushed his lips softly over John's and pulled back to smile at him. Then Jamie's mouth was on his in earnest, he was kissing him deeply, dropping the belt and moving his hands up to cup John's face."Christ, John," he whispered, and moved to his jaw, his throat, removing his neck cloth, biting the flesh as John moaned. John reached up and gripped his waist, running his hands down and moving under his nightshirt, standing to remove it, but Jamie pulled away.

"Wait, wait..." he said breathlessly, holding up his hand to stave off John's advance.
John stopped short but didn't argue, simply fell back into his chair and sighed.
Jamie sighed as well and knelt in front of him. "Ye're verra drunk. And ye need yer rest. Let me help ye to yer room."
John knew he was 'verra drunk', but it was Jamie's hot and cold behavior that had his head spinning now. "Wha..? But...you were just...undressing me!"

Jamie cleared his throat, blushing a bit, and said "Aye. Well...I told ye ye were rilin' me. It was either that or..." he glanced at the belt on the floor. "Perhaps ye'd like to tell me what brings ye to my room at so late an hour, heavy with drink, apparently angry at me, asking me mad questions such as do I regret running in after ye?"

John felt guilty, hearing it laid before him as such. Why had he come tonight? He hadn't meant to. Ever since he awoke, he waited for Jamie to come and explain what had happened, but he never had. He wanted to go to him, but for the first few days he could scarcely lift his head, and when he could, he couldn't bring himself to do so. He may not remember every detail of that night, but he remembered enough to know it was his fault, and he did think Jamie might be angry about it if the issue were pressed. But now he knew he needed answers if they were to move on from this.
"What happened that night?" he asked.
Jamie took a deep breath and moved to sit on the bed again. "How much do ye remember?"

John closed his eyes and let his limited memory take him back.
They had had a few drinks with Siverly, having arrived after supper. They told him they were in Ireland to visit a cousin of Jamie's and had heard his home was not far out of the way, they hoped to take a night in shelter with an acquaintance rather than camp again. He was very happy to have them and allowed the butler to show them to their rooms. They had bathed, discussed their plans to arrest him in the morning, and gone to bed. Then John had woken, and Jamie had been there, he covered his mouth and told him it was time to leave. But why?

"Because there were men in the house," Jamie reminded him.
"Yes...but how did you know that? You were..." He closed his eyes again and saw it. The glint of a blade in moonlight. And something else...
"There was blood on your dagger."
Jamie nodded at him solemnly, and he realized why Jamie hadn't wanted to do this. "You killed Siverly."
He nodded again.
"Tell me. All of it."

"Alright, but ye may no' pass out or forget because of yer brandy and make me tell ye again. After ye went to bed, Siverly came to my room. He asked me to come down to the library for another drink and said he wanted to show me something. I was wary, but I went. Once we were far from yer quarters, he told me he kent why we were in Ireland. I was right when I told ye he and Collin O'Shea ran in the same circles. Apparently word spread fast that Red Jamie was in country, accompanying a Redcoat, and he hoped to bring me back to the Cause. He showed me a chest of Jacobite gold and asked me if I might be willing to bring it back to London and deliver it to a friend of his here, who could then get it to Charles Stuart."
John had been listening intently, but he sat up quickly at that. "You know where Charles Stuart is? Or someone who does?"
"No. No, John, sit down. I dinna ken any such thing because he never got the chance to tell me. Just...ssshhh. I told him he was mad, that I was no' a Jacobite anymore and that I had simply come to visit my cousin. He laughed at that and told me he kent for a fact there were no Mackenzies or Frasers anywhere in the county. I asked him what he thought my plans were, then, to bring an Englishman as a sacrifice? He seemed to like that idea."

"Is that when you killed him?" John stuttered, and then hiccuped. He hadn't meant to say it out loud and was surprised he had. He giggled a bit, then clamped his mouth shut.
Jamie seemed to be considering whether or not John's head injury was flaring up again.
"Contrary to what ye English may think, we are no' actually barbarians. I dinna kill men because of what I assume they are thinking."
"Forgive me," John said. "Please continue."

"We heard horses approaching, then. Siverly looked out of the window and informed me it was some men from town. Either I would do as they asked, deliver the gold to London and sail with their friends to reunite with the Bonnie Prince, or they would kill you, and then they would take me to the Prince themselves. So I killed him."
John's eyes widened and a flood of emotion ran through him. He wanted to laugh, but he knew it was not something to laugh at. He wanted to feel honored, but that felt very wrong. So he said nothing, and let Jamie continue.

"I let his body drop and ran up the stairs to yer room. I heard the men come in just as I shut yer door and I covered yer mouth so ye wouldn't alert them to our hiding place. Do ye remember anything after that?"
John took a deep breath. This is the only part he remembered rather clearly.

"Yes. Yes...you...you went to the window, but it was too high to jump out of. I dressed quickly and we...we went to the door and opened it. We could hear the men arguing downstairs and...they said Siverly was dead. They were angry. We moved into the hallway, I believe we were going to try and sneak down the servant's stairs, but they saw us in the galley. You...you set the fire."

Jamie nodded. "Aye. I threw the candelabra on the stairs to stop them coming up and we ran for it. They decided the Jacobite gold was more important than trying to find where we'd gone. We went down the servant's stairs and out the kitchen. But..."
But John remembered now, and he was suddenly struck with a feeling of shame, horror, at his pettiness in the face of so much chaos and danger. "My watch..." he said, and closed his eyes again.

They had reached the servant's courtyard, thankful to find the butler, cook, and maid all standing outside. They asked about Siverly and Jamie told them he had been caught in the flames. The grooms were arriving now and suggesting they try to douse the flames, try to save Siverly. John agreed but Jamie held him back, whispering "Siverly is dead, by my blade, John. We must let the house burn." John was about to agree, but suddenly he remembered something.

"My watch," he had said, patting his breeches. His coat was still in the house, his pocket watch attached to it.
"What are ye on about?" Jamie had asked.
"My watch. It's in my chamber. I must go back for it." He moved toward the house, but the flames were beginning to spread throughout. Jamie grabbed his arms and shook him. "Are ye mad, man? Ye canna go back in there, look!" He pointed at the roof as it caught, the flames now lighting up the night and embers flying. John ripped himself free of Jamie and ran inside.

"I don't remember what happened then,"
he said now. He lowered his head in shame. He had to have been mad that night. The journey and the chaos and Jamie's confession that Siverly was dead by his blade. The smoke inhalation. Something. There was no reason to risk his life, to risk Jamie's life who he should have known would follow him.
Jamie stood from the bed and moved to the desk. He came back and knelt in front of John, holding his now charred watch out to him. John sobbed as he took it from him. "You got it? How?"

Jamie smiled ruefully and said "You got it. I simply picked it off the ground where it lay next to yer unconcious body, ye mad bastard. Ye ran so quick into the flames I couldna stop ye. I chased right after ye but ye moved like yer arse was on fire, or I suppose ye were movin' to make sure it wasn't. By the time I made it to the landing ye were already comin' back out with that silly trinket in yer hand. Then the beam fell on ye and knocked ye out. I saw ye layin' there in those flames, John, and I thought for a second I could just stand and let them take me, too. But yer hand moved and I flew like the devil to ye. I got the beam off yer back but yer shirt was smoldering. I clutched ye to me and prayed ye wouldn't be burnt too badly because I couldna put ye out, the roof was fit to come down any second. I picked up the damn watch and ran. I stumbled right out the front doors and didna stop carrying ye 'til Tom Byrd was tryin' to pull ye from my arms, shaking me, yelling both our names. That has been in my pocket e'er since. I wasna keeping it from ye, I wanted to give it back, but we have no' had any time for me to do so."

"Did you look inside?" John asked tearfully.
"Aye. I understand, John."
He opened the watch and stroked his thumb over the portrait of Hector.
"I am so sorry," he said, and he lowered his head to Jamie's shoulder. Jamie stood and pulled him up with him, wrapping his arms around him as he cried.
"Dinna fash, balach milis. Dinna fash. I ken what it means to ye. If I had a portrait of my Claire, or our child, I'd have done the same."

-----------‐---------------------------------------------

After Tom Byrd had shaken Jamie to his senses, they had laid John in the back of the carriage, Jamie climbing in with him, and set the horses full speed towards town for a doctor. As he held John in his arms and prayed to God not to take him from him, too, the watch fell with a thunk from his hand. He picked it up and nearly threw it onto the road, but they had both nearly died for the damned thing, and he shoved it in his pocket instead. "John Grey, ye listen to me ye English fool. If you die here now, I swear I'll kill ye."

They had arrived at the doctor faster than Jamie could have thought possible. It seemed Tom Byrd actually was very fond of his employer, and perhaps the horses had sensed their collective distress. When they had peeled John's clothing from his skin, some of it came off with them and Jamie had nearly fainted. He went outside and stuck his hand in his pockets, trying to breathe through his nose like Claire taught him, and he felt the watch. When he had opened it, all his anger at John had flooded away. He did not recognize the boy inside, but he was about 19 years old, and wearing a red coat. He knew it must be John's dear Hector, and he fell to his knees and wept.

Now John was pulling away from him, wiping his snotty nose on his sleeve. Jamie chuckled at him and went to find a handkerchief. John blew his nose into it and moved to the decanter and glasses on the table. He poured two glassesand handed one to Jamie, who sat on the bed again. Jamie wasn't sure John should have any more to drink, but since it were only wine, he let it slide and drank deeply from his glass.

"Thank you. For this," John said, holding up the watch. "Ye dinna need to thank me. As I told ye, ye're the one who got it back."
"Well then, thank you for rescuing me and my watch from the flames of Hell."
Jamie laughed and said "Aye. Ye're welcome. But...I was only keepin' my oath. I told ye if I ever raised my hand against ye, that the iron of my sword shall pierce my heart. I started that fire. I wasna about to leave ye to die in it."

John watched him for a moment, pacing slowly in front of the fireplace. Jamie resisted the urge to reach out and pull him away, remembering again how he had looked lying on the floor as the building around them burned. He shook the image from his head and took another sip from his glass. He had spent days in John's room letting that image wrap itself around his mind, saying the rosary over and over until the words had all blended together and broke into one steady stream of "Please God, Please, Please, God Please." But John was well now, fully recovered according to him. And Jamie had longed to be alone with him again. He did not wish to dwell on the horrors any longer.

John was still watching him, God knows what going through his head.
"If you weren't angry with me, for almost killing us both, that is, why haven't you come to me since I awoke? Are you...do you not...want...?" John looked down at his arm as he said this and Jamie followed his glance. His sleeves were rolled up now and some of his scars shone faintly in the flickering light of the fireplace.

Jamie moved to him swiftly and pulled him into his arms, kissing him fiercely. They pressed together and Jamie moaned, running his tongue along John's bottom lip and drawing his knee between his own. When he let him go, steadying him on his feet a bit, he said "John Grey, I have wanted ye every night. I should have come to ye sooner to talk, to ease yer mind about the fire and Siverly. But...well...I felt ashamed. For setting the damn thing. If ye think these scars mean something to me," he said, running a hand over them, "ye hit yer head harder than ye thought. Have ye forgotten my body is covered in them?"

-----------------------------------------------------

John shook his head. No, he had not forgotten. Could never forget his own hand in them. He would never admit this out loud, but he was a bit more vain than he tried to let on. He took pride in his creamy skin that so many lovers had commented on, in the smooth planes of muscle underneath. Now his shoulders, upper arms, and a good portion of his back were pink and puckered. Knowing that Jamie still wanted him after seeing that sent a thrill through him and instead of answering, he moved against Jamie again and seized his mouth with his own. They moved across the room, Jamie shedding John's clothes as they went. Jamie's came off much easier, John's hands sliding up his thighs, his hips, his stomach, over his shoulders, and the nightgown was off.

Jamie lowered John to the bed gently, cradling his head so it would not hit the post. His mouth moved down John's throat, chest, over to his shoulders, then paused. John's head was thrown back, he was biting his lip to quiet his moans, but he looked at Jamie now. The moment he did, Jamie began to slowly, deliberately, kiss his scars, trailing his lips softly over the damaged skin, caressing him with his fingers. John felt goosebumps rise in the wake of his touch, and a small shiver went down his spine.
Jamie made a slow descent across his body, running his tongue over each nipple, his stomach, down, down...

John was a wreck. Everything he'd felt in the last two weeks - the pain, confusion, fear, the apprehension of saying goodbye too soon - was pouring out of him as Jamie's mouth worked it's way down, his hand now reaching to lift John's thigh, and just when he thought Jamie would finally reach his straining member, he stopped.

"Look at me, balach milis." he said. John opened his eyes and found Jamie's smoldering up at him. "Are ye sure ye're well enough?" "Absolutely," John replied, and then Jamie's mouth was on him and his back was arching off the bed and he was trying to bite back a groan. Jamie's mouth was hot, wet, and he suckled John like he was the most delicious thing he'd ever tasted. "For a man with very limited experience," he panted, fingers curling in Jamie's locks, "you are quite...ngh... skilled at this." Jamie hummed a little around his cock, pulling up to swirl his tongue around the head. He pulled off gently, but continued to stroke John slowly with his hand as he moved back up the bed to kiss him.

"I've had much time these last weeks to think about the things I wish to do to ye, My Lord," he told him.
"Oh? I'm intrigued."
"Oh, aye. I thought about..." Jamie's hand trailed up John's stomach "touching yer skin. Seein' for myself that it does no' hurt anymore. I thought of kissin' ye here," and he nuzzled John's neck, brushing his lips over the tender spot behind his ear and John squirmed. "I thought of...kissin' ye here," he bent his head and nipped at John's collar bone. "And here." He moved down again and opened his mouth over John's navel, running his tongue over it.
"I think I'm starting to grasp the idea," John said breathlessly.
"Oh, I thought of graspin' ye, as well. Perhaps, while I kiss ye here?" He took John's leaking cock in his hand and moved down the bed again. He rested John's legs over his shoulders and before John could so much as lift his head to watch, Jamie's had disappeared and he felt a warm, soft mouth press against his bottom.
"Oh, God," John groaned, and pressed his hips up as Jamie stroked him and probed inside him with his tongue, circled the rim, bit at his cheeks, and delved back inside.

After a moment of breathless panting, trying desperately not to cry out as Jamie practically milked him, John heard a throat clear and looked up. Jamie was watching him with amusement. "Pardon me for interrupting, sir, but ye haven't got any oil in that coat of yers, perhaps?"
John blinked and tried to clear his head, considering. When he opened his mouth to reply, he found it sticky and dry. He swallowed and said "As a matter of fact, I do not. I don't actually carry it everywhere with me. Unfortunately." He looked about but saw nothing that would suffice.

"There is an old Army trick I haven't exploited in some time, though," and he reached down and drew Jamie's fingers to his mouth. Jamie let out a small sigh as John sucked on them, smiling warily. "I dinna think...oh my stars...why does that feel so good? I dinna think yer saliva will suffice, John." He let go of Jamie's fingers with a pop and grinned, moving them back down to his entrance, which was still wet, though now getting a bit cold. "It will suffice for this."
"If ye say so, My Lord," Jamie said, and he slid both fingers of his right hand slowly into John, watching him carefully, and when John closed his eyes and let out a low, long moan, he swallowed his cock down, too.

-------------------------------------------------------

John was writhing under Jamie's hands, biting the pillow now pressed tightly over his face, rocking down on Jamie's hand and back up into Jamie's mouth. His arse was clenching Jamie's fingers tightly and his cock was throbbing against the soft part of his throat, and Jamie knew he was getting close, so close, but then..
"Jamie, Jamie," John was panting and tugging Jamie's hair.

"Yes, My Lord?" he said, pulling off gently but leaving his fingers where they were.
"I want you inside me. I need all of you."
Jamie pressed his fingers, hard, as far as they would go and John whinged, tossing his head back, and the flush on his cheeks deepened. "Are ye sure? Ye don't seem to need all of me to finish."
"God, Jamie," John moaned. "I want you....to take me. Take me."
"Aye. I will take ye, John. But after. When ye're all stretched open and relaxed for me. So that when I slide my hardness inside ye, ye feel no' but pleasure."
"Christ, has my dirty mouth rubbed off on you, now?" John asked, clearly shocked.
He withdrew his fingers and spat on John's hole, now clenching and fluttering in their absence, and inserted three now, taking the opportunity as John arched his back to swallow him again.

John was rocking onto Jamie's hand and the pillow was back, covering his face. Jamie wanted to hear every gasp and cry as he started to move quicker, harder, and his tongue rolled over the hard velvet of John's cock, so he reached up and snatched the pillow away, tossing it on the floor, and he took John deep into his throat. "Oh, fuck, Jamie!" John shouted, and he came, hard and hot, in Jamie's mouth, his hips beginning to slow their rocking, every muscle drawn tight.
Jamie swallowed all of it as he pulled gently from John's body and kissed his way up his trembling, sweat slicked stomach, moving to lay next to him as he caught his breath.

His own cock was laying, hot and heavy, on his stomach. He had been hard so long, with no' but the friction of the sheets to relieve him, he thought he was starting to lose feeling in it. He took it gently, hissing at the touch, and started to stroke it lightly.
John watched him, chest still heaving, mouth open. After a moment he said,
"I believe I'm starting to rouse again." Jamie laughed at that and looked at him skeptically. "I'll go retrieve the oil from my rooms. Please, I beg you, stay where you are."

Jamie watched as John climbed off the bed, stretching his stiff muscles and borrowing his own night shirt for the trip. He felt something clench in his stomach at the sight of John in his gown, but he pushed it away. John bent over and kissed him softly, trailing a finger over the head of Jamie's cock, and whispered "I'll return shortly."

He watched him go, continuing his languid strokes, and then closed his eyes as the door closed. He imagined John laid out in front of him, cheeks spread, his tight, small hole stretching as Jamie slid his too thick cock inside. He bit his lip at the idea and removed his hand before he could spill in it. He still sometimes couldn't believe John could take him like that, that it felt good to him. Judging from his reactions every time Jamie entered him, whether hands or mouth or hard manhood, he enjoyed it immensely. And when Jamie pressed himself into that most tender spot inside, the sounds he made were like...
Jamie started stroking himself again, lightly, wondering what was taking John so long, and his other hand started to drift down, almost of it's own accord.

John had touched him with his fingers here once, and Jamie had frozen in place. But the finger had been quickly removed and he never mentioned it to his lover. Part of him had wanted John to breach him, but most of him had wanted to flee. He wasn't afraid of the pain much anymore. He had only hurt John once, when he took him fast and hard as rage and fear coursed through him, but even then, John had enjoyed it.

He swallowed and let his hand drift further. He used a thumb to spread himself and stroked his rim. Alright. That felt good. He knew it would, preferred it to be John's tongue, but this was nice. He pressed the finger inside a bit, wondering...

Say my name...
Black Jack's breath was hot in his ear and the room exploded with the smell of lavender and blood, the sound of skin slapping skin, Jamie's cries of pain and of unwanted pleasure.

His eyes flew open and he withdrew his hand quickly as if burned and scrambled from the bed. John was standing near the door, now wearing his own sleeping gown and carrying Jamie's, his face a mask of surprise. He had obviously witnessed both Jamie's experimentation and his reaction to it.

John dropped the night clothes and the vial he had retrieved on the chair and slowly raised his hands as if approaching an armed madman. "Are you alright?" he asked, as Jamie looked about the room wildly, breathing hard.
"Jamie, look at me. Do you know where you are?" Jamie's eyes met his and he swallowed, nodding. "Aye. Aye, we're in London." "And do you know who I am?"
Jamie hesitated, swallowed again, said "Aye. John." "Good. Here, put this on."
John handed him his shirt and he pulled it on, taking another steadying breath, and sitting on the edge of the bed.

The sounds had vanished as soon as he had opened his eyes, but the faint smell still lingered on the edges of his memory. He reached for John and his eyebrows lifted in surprise but he went to him hesitantly. Jamie pulled him into his arms and onto his lap and buried his face in his hair and neck, inhaling deeply. "That's better. Aye. Much better," he murmured and John began stroking slow circles on his back.

"Do you want to tell me what happened just now?" John asked.
Jamie sighed and said "I...I don't precisely ken it. I was...dreamin' about ye. I wanted ye. I want...I want to share every part of myself with ye, before we go our separate ways. But...I remembered..." he sighed again and rest his head on John's shoulder. John sighed as well, moving to sit beside Jamie and taking his hand, intertwining their fingers.

"I'm going to tell you something...something I should have told you when you first asked how I was able to take you as I do." He took a deep breath and continued. "Things did not simply progress with my first lover after...after my assault...as I said they did. The first time we tried, I screamed when he entered me, and not because of pain. It rather swiftly put an end to the entire procession. And the second time...I lay paralyzed with fear as he took me, and when he realized as such, he quickly withdrew and scolded me for allowing it. He did not know I was raped. I never told him, and I should have. He simply thought I was a scared little bird who needed to be coaxed. And so the third time, I shoved the memories to the fringes and grit my teeth. By the end, I liked it enough to try again. And again. And now I am here with you, and I...I love you." His voice broke as he said the words aloud, words he had never said but Jamie knew he felt. He went on before Jamie could even try to fathom a response. "And so it is good. Very good. But those memories, they will always be there, somewhere in the back of my mind. You are the first man I have spoken to about this, one who shares my experiences, so I cannot say for certain, but I suppose it is normal, to have these...visceral memories...under certain stresses."

Jamie's head reeled. The ghost of Black Jack was fading, replaced by John's demons, his confession of love, his words telling Jamie that their shared horrors were to haunt them always and they could never...
"Are ye saying I am to be broken forever? That I shall never be able to enjoy ye, open myself to ye, as the man ye are?"

John chuckled darkly and said "Well, for one thing, you have never made me feel like you were enjoying me as less than a man. But, when I once told you it had never crossed my mind that I would get to have you like that, what I should have said is that I won't ever have you like that. I pray that one day you and I will both be able to push away those memories. I pray you are not forever broken. I will do all I can to help you heal. But not that. You cannot ask me to do that. I will bend for you, I will kneel for you, I will spread my legs for you. I won't enter you."

Jamie inhaled deeply, the smell of lavender finally gone from his senses, and eyed John. He felt a bit ashamed, talking of horrors bestowed upon them, coping with them, and also feeling his cock stir once more at the idea of John bending, kneeling, spreading his legs for him. He leaned forward slowly, worried that perhaps John were not feeling as recovered as he, perhaps he would be swimming in his own sea of despair and Jamie would repulse him. But John's mouth opened and he accepted Jamie's kiss with eagerness.

When they broke apart Jamie whispered
"Thank ye, balach milis, for no' letting me feel ashamed at what ye witnessed. Thank ye for sharing with me. Ye do help me. Ye help me every time. If ye canna have me that way, and I canna let ye, I suppose all we have left is what we have now. That is...much...verra much...to me. I am...more than pleased, when ye bend for me." He moved the hand not holding John's to his leg, slowly caressing up his thigh to indicate that if John were ready to put these horrid memories back in their box in the back of their minds, he was, too.

‐----------------------------------------------------------

John was more relieved than he'd like to admit knowing that their night together, both their first night in several weeks and possibly their last night for several, several more, was not going to be put to an end by whatever ghosts Jamie had conjured in his absence. He was also relieved that his declaration of love was not going to be addressed. It was a necessary statement at the time, but he regretted it now. He had vowed never to say those words out loud, even when they rang like a mantra in his head as Jamie pounded into him and he had to bite his tongue to keep them from spilling out.

He kissed Jamie again, letting it deepen slowly, coaxing his mouth open with his tongue and delving inside when it did. Jamie pulled off John's nightgown and then his own, and began to stroke himself back to hardness as John watched intently. "So which is it, Captain Fraser?" John asked. "Bent over, or legs spread?" "On yer knees," he growled.

John shuddered a bit and retrieved the vial of oil from where he had dropped it earlier. He began to drop to his knees in front of Jamie but he stopped him.
"On the bed," he said. John moved to the middle of the bed and knelt there, his back to Jamie.
He felt Jamie move to kneel behind him and shuddered again. He could feel his body heat, his breath on the back of his neck, the light pressure of his hands moving feather light over his shoulders, his arms, his rib cage. He thought again of the scars across his back, thought of Jamie's deeper, more grizzly scars across his back, and the beautiful broken image of the two of them together, naked, kneeling, about to engage in something far less brutal than the events that had caused them.

Jamie took the vial from John as he kissed his neck and he heard the cap come off, the rich smell of bergamot filling the air. "Un si bon garçon. Tu es ma perte. Mon confort. Tout ce que j'ai." John choked back a sob at Jamie's words.
My undoing. My comfort. All that I have.
It was the closest Jamie could come to returning John's sentiments from earlier, and he let his head fall to his chest as Jamie began to touch his hole.

Jamie's fingers moved inside him once again, more gently this time, stretching him and stroking his walls. His other arm was wrapped tightly around John, holding his body to him, and his lips ghosted across his neck, behind his ear, in his hair.
John's legs were trembling with the effort of remaining upright, and his breath was coming fast. He was overwhelmed with emotion again, a soft voice in his head reminding him of impending separation, but he shoved it away, like all the other, darker memories that did not belong here now.

"John," Jamie whispered in his ear, "I want ye so badly." John groaned and said "You have me. I'm yours." He sighed as Jamie took hold of his aching member as his other hand slid out of him. He pressed on John's hips, encouraging him to spread his legs further and pushing him forward a bit, still using his arm to prevent him from dropping on all fours onto the bed. Then the head of Jamie's cock was pressing into him, pushing slowly but steadily to the hilt, and he let himself fall completely into his embrace.

Jamie rolled his hips once, then began to move against John minutely, pulling out only a few inches and pressing tightly back inside. "Christ, John, ye feel so good. I thought I stretched ye out but ye're still so tight. How does it feel? Me inside ye? Tell me. Let me hear yer filthy mouth once more."

John moaned, low in his throat, and said, with some difficulty as Jamie fucked into him so slowly, "Full. I feel very full. You're...oh...God, you're so thick. I can feel every move you make. You're pressing so tight inside me and when you pull out it drags along my insides." Jamie's head fell to his shoulder as he rode him and said "Oh, John. Dear Mary Mother of God tell me more." He started thrusting harder now, withdrawing a bit more and pushing inside harder. "Ngh! God! Okay. Um...fuck. I can feel...ohh... I can feel your balls, they're so warm. They're pressed up against mine. Your cock is...mmm...stretching me. I can feel my skin stretch around you. You could rip me open with that thing but you...unh...you open me so tenderly before. You get me so wet. You never hurt me...just...just take me to the edge. You make me feel...used and...used and cared for...at the same time. Oh God!"

He was bouncing on Jamie's cock now and Jamie was holding him so tightly, mouthing at his neck and they were covered in sweat, two sets of thighs shaking and two sets of lungs breathing hard. "I want to finish inside you. May I, My Lord? May I fill ye with my seed as well as my cock?" "Yes. God yes. I want to feel you for days, Jamie. I want to feel you long after I've left Helwater. Mark me. Claim me. I'm all yours. Only yours."

Jamie's fingers dug into John's hips and he began pounding into him as John picked up his abandoned cock and stroked it roughly. He came harder than he had in years, spilling his seed all over his hand and onto Jamie's bed with a shout. His arse clenched and he ground his hips slowly down onto Jamie, riding out his orgasm and trying to draw out his lover's.
"Oh, Christ, John, yer fucking tight arse!"
Jamie bit out, and he bit down and John felt a warm wetness filling that very part of his body.

Jamie held John's limp body to his own as they caught their breath together, letting himself soften before slipping out, and John felt that wetness slide down his thigh. They collapsed together onto the bed, John rolling into Jamie's arms to avoid the wet spot in front of him, and Jamie began to laugh. "Good Lord," he said. "I believe ye have corrupted me, ye wee buggering English pervert. I have a whore's mouth now and I came this close to using blasphemy!"
"Oh?" John asked, rolling onto his side and leaning on his elbow to look at the gorgeous Scot. "Which branch of the Trinity were you going to insult and how?"
"No, no I canna go that far, no' insultin', exactly. But I was thinkin' ye looked like a saint on yer knees, head bowed before the Almighty."
"That makes you the Almighty," John laughed.
"Aye. Blasphemy. But I canna help it. I feel like God himself when I'm inside ye."

Chapter Text

The next morning, John woke to find Jamie snoring next to him. He didn't know when they had fallen asleep, or what time it was now, so he quickly gathered his clothes and tiptoed to the door. He opened it slowly, just a crack, and peeked outside. Minnie was leaving his bedroom, smiling and shaking her head. She had obviously been wondering why he wasn't at breakfast. As she passed Jamie's door, their eyes met. She froze for a second, then deliberately looked at the ceiling and whistled a tune as she made her way out of the hall. John thanked Christ Alive for their conversation the day before, lest he be wetting himself in terror now, and slipped to his room to dress.

The boys had already finished their breakfast by the time John made it downstairs, but Dottie was still in her chair and Hal was still behind the paper. Minnie handed him some bacon she had hidden in a napkin out of reach of her carnivorous sons and John felt a clench in his stomach as he chewed, remembering his vow last night not to return to London once he had deposited Jamie at Helwater. Dottie was growing quickly, he did not wish to miss these early days when everything was still new to her. And Minnie had always been like a sister, but she was now his one and only confidant, as well. And Hal was...Hal.
Still an arse. But a good brother nonetheless. He was unsure now what he would do in three days' time, but he knew he'd be here, in this house, before long.

Jamie came down the stairs and took his place at the table. Hal peeked over his newspaper only long enough to greet him and John saw Minnie trying, and failing, to suppress a grin. He gave her a look and she promptly sat at the table and attempted to engage her husband in normal social behavior. Hal obliged, albeit begrudgingly, setting down his paper and engaging their guest one last time.

"Harry will be sorry you won't be joining him at the Beefsteak for one more game of chess," he said. Harry had been by to visit John while he was still in bed, and Jamie had defeated him, again. He had blamed his loss on his concern for John and demanded another rematch when the man was well but that had been the day Hal had declared he was working to secure Jamie's pardon and chess had escaped everybody's mind henceforth.

John laughed and said "I don't think he'll be too disappointed at missing out on another loss. More likely he'll be disappointed he cannot ask 'What rhymes with honey pot?'"
Hal choked a bit on his toast and asked "Honey pot? I haven't heard that one."
John met Jamie's gaze and Jamie chuckled a bit. "I'm afraid he learned that one from me, Yer Grace."
Hal gave Jamie a look then, something John couldn't quite place, but smiled, and silently went back to his paper.

When they had finished eating, John stood and said "I should go make sure Tom has everything packed..." But Hal stood as well and said "I am sure the valet has the packing under control. I'd like to speak to you, in my office, before the carriage arrives." John and Minnie both looked at him quizzically. Hal seemed the most taciturn he had in weeks, and John should feel happy to have him back to normal, as opposed to the doting stranger he had been, but something akin to dread ran down his spine instead.

Hal turned on his heel and led the way, gesturing for John to step inside ahead of him, and closed the door with a tight click. Hal sat at his desk, a gesture John instantly recognized as confrontational, and he took the seat across from him with a sigh. Whatever Hal was going to scold him for now, at least he'd be on the road within the hour, putting some needed distance between them.

"John...I... May I have your permission to speak freely?" Hal asked, resting his elbows on the desk and steepling his fingers.
John was a bit startled at the sheepish tone, but laughed nonetheless, saying "When have you ever done anything but?"
"Oh, for many years, I'm afraid."
John felt some discomfort settle in. He did not think Hal had ever hesitated to say whatever was on his mind to John, or to butt his nose into his affairs, so to hear him say he had been holding something back...
"Heavens. That sounds ominous," John said aloud.
"Then I'll get straight to my point. I think you need to be very careful with James Fraser."
The tension that had been building immediately dissipated, and John let out a hearty laugh. "Oh for Christ's sake, Hal. Not this again. Surely by now you no longer see him as a Scottish barbarian?"
Hal did not laugh. In fact, he was frowning so deeply now John wanted to warn him his face could freeze that way.

"No, I do not think of him as such. Truly. But he is a Scottish patriot, he always will be, and I fear your love for him may blind you if he should ever decide to take up the Scottish cause again, now that he is free. Rebellion does not go quietly into the night with that lot. You may find yourself unable to do your duty, or perhaps...perhaps you could get swept up in it as well. If I recall, his late wife was English. It did not prevent her from traipsing into battle with him time and again."
John laughed again.
"Hal. Honestly. I appreciate your...brotherly concern, truly. But do you really believe my friendship with the man would cause me to don a tartan and wave a Stuart flag in a Highland Charge?"
His attempt at humor was once again met with a stoney stare.
"Not specifically. Listen, he is a good man, and this family owes him much. But he has a talent for attracting trouble, you've said so yourself. And I am not talking of your friendship, John. I am talking of your love for him. It can make you reckless. More so than usual."

John swallowed and hesitated to answer.
Hal could not be talking of...
"I...I don't know what you mean. He...saved my life. I suppose I love him for that, but no more than..." Hal raised his hand and John clamped his mouth shut.

"John, please. I have been discreet, out of respect for your privacy and to protect the family from scandal, but I am not a fool. Do not treat me like one now when you know what it costs me to say this to you."
Hal's voice was quivering, something John had not heard since he had told him their mother was dead, and he could feel the blood drain from his face at the realization of what was occurring now.
"You think I've forgotten Hector? I watched you mourn him, unabashedly, on the field, and for many years after. George Everett? Did you think I was involved in that matter, in Ardsmuir, without knowing all the details? Percy? How is Percy? Do you still receive letters from our stepbrother? I know everything. You have a tendency to dance with fire, Brother, and now you have finally been well and truly burned. When will it end?"

John had been clutching the material of his breeches with white knuckles, his stomach churned and he felt the need to stand and fight or flee as quickly as he could waging war against eachother in his blood, but at Hal's last words, implying that he should simply cease to be who he was or that he had brought his woes upon himself, stand and fight won out. He jerked his chin up and met his brother's pleading gaze with one of defiance.
"Oh, so you know everything do you? You know nothing of those men or what was between us," he seethed.

Hal did not back an inch. "I know you could simply go to a brothel, like everyone else, but you will not be satisfied until you have put your life on the line every opportunity you get!" He was shouting now, rising slightly from his chair. "Do you think I am the only one who sees the way you look at him? You have already been accused of being a sodomite once! Was it not enough? Do you know what they will do to you if anyone finds out?"
"I am aware of the law, Your Grace," John said sarcastically and with a hint of challenge.
"Oh, you believe the executioner will have you? I suppose he would, and gladly. If the mob gives him the chance," Hal said coldly.

John felt a shiver, despite the heat now thrumming through his veins. He had witnessed such a mob once. An accused sodomite's hanging, at Tyburn. It was just one of many horrors he had witnessed in his life, but it had stayed with him, like an omen of his own future. He swallowed against the bile rising in his throat at the memory, at the implication, at the fear that Hal could send him there now if he weren't duty bound to keep the secret.

A thought occured to him. "Why now?" he asked. "If you truly have known this as long as you say, why are you breaking your vow of discretion now?"
Hal sighed and met his gaze, mulling something over for a moment.
"I suppose if we are being honest we may as well take it all the way. I am forced to have this difficult conversation with you because...while I have...suspected...you held these feelings for Fraser for some time, I did not believe him so inclined. I didn't think he could get you into much trouble that way. But now...well, I'm sorry to be so indelicate, it is not easy for me to tell you..."
"Spit it out, Hal," John snapped.
"I heard the two of you last night."

"You...you...heard...?" John thought he might faint on the floor right now.
"I heard enough," Hal said shortly. "I went to check on you. I've checked on you every night since your return; I suppose you didn't know that. I...well, as I said, I heard enough." The silence fell with a thud. After a few seconds of opening and closing his mouth, John managed to stammer
"Hal...I...I'm sorry. I..."
"I am sure this is as embarrassing for you as it is for me. I apologize for that. But I hope you can agree with me now, you are becoming quite reckless. Which is something you only do when you are heavily involved with one of your...I don't know what to call them...these dangerous men you take up with. You must stop this."

John could feel tears stinging his eyes and he ducked his head and blinked furiously. He could not allow Hal to see them shed. This was ridiculous, he was a grown man, and yet his brother always managed to get his way when it came to ordering John around. He feared now that if Hal ordered him to end things with Jamie, he would fight it, but Hal would win.

"You cannot ask me to do that. You...you do not know what you are asking," he replied, shaking his head.
"Then explain it to me!" Hal shouted, but immediately glanced at the door and quieted himself. "John, I know I am hard on you, I don't always give you the credit you deserve, but you have always been steadfast in your regard for our family honor. You've done much to preserve it. Tell me why you cannot do so now. If this is what you choose to be, why can you not simply find your pleasure in some anonymous whore like the rest of decent society?"

"You expect me to explain myself to you when you use words like 'choose' and 'decent society'? As if you have not made your opinions on sodomites well known over the years. Now that I think of it, thank you for that. I always assumed if you knew I was one you'd either kill me or shut your foul mouth on the subject, but now I know that you've been subtly telling me how worthless I am all this..."
Hal stood from his chair and moved towards John so suddenly that he, too, rose and retreated quickly. Hal's hand was outstretched towards John's face but he stopped short at his reaction and let it fall.

"If you wish to strike me, Hal, I will allow it. I suppose it is your right. But you get one; two and I will strike back," John said, his voice shaking.
Despair flashed across Hal's face at those words, but the Duke in him quickly replaced it with his usual mask of indifference. Something remained in his eyes though and he said "I had no intention of striking you. Nor do I wish to slay my own brother. Christ! Are you truly unaware of how I feel for you? Worthless you are not. I am deeply sorry if I have given you that impression with my talk."

John hesitated, taken aback by the confession, but he sighed and moved to retake his seat, and Hal finally joined him in the one next to it. Neither man spoke for a moment. John knew that the way Hal had always spoken of sodomy was nothing more than the way everyone did. He shouldn't expect him to become some sort of advocate for the practice simply because he was related to a practitioner, and he told him as much. "I just don't understand, John. I wish you would explain it to me. Why is it worth your life? And why is James Fraser suddenly the one you're willing to stand and fight for? Why can't you give him up? Is it because he is bad for you? Why do you cling to everything that can hurt you?"

"Can I try to answer one question at a time? Jesus, Hal, you ask as if I can even give you an answer. First of all, I did not choose to be this way. For fuck's sake, do you think I would choose this life? Would anyone? If it makes you feel any better, and I doubt it will, I do find my pleasure in anonymous whores from time to time. But contrary to what you and just about every other person on this planet believes, we sodomites do actually have feelings." John choked on his words for a moment, unable to believe he had just called himself a sodomite, out loud, to Hal. "We feel love. I want to be loved just as much as you do and I do not always wish to pay someone to pretend they love me for an hour. Is it worth my life? I do not know. But if my options are to spend my life alone or put it on the line for whatever happiness I can find now and then, I know my choice."
"And James Fraser? He is your choice?"
John laughed, a bit sincerely but mostly bitterly "No. James Fraser was never a choice. I will not elaborate on my relationship with him. You cannot understand, and no matter what you say, you do not wish to. Let's not pretend we can openly discuss such things so suddenly."

Hal watched him silently for a long time. John stared back defiantly, but as the seconds ticked by, the weight of these revelations began to hit him and he softened. This was the very moment he'd feared since he was twelve years old and saw an older naked boy for the first time and had to turn to hide his response. He had always thought it would end in blows, if not his murder, but this...this was unexpected. He bit his lip and waited for Hal to say more.

Finally he sighed and said "I see I cannot turn you from this course. Please just promise you will be more discreet, John. And...and be careful what matters you involve yourself in. You must know I only wish for your safety. I've nearly lost you too many times now."
John swallowed and his final defenses finally fell. He rose from his chair and Hal did the same and the two men embraced for some time. When John pulled away, he cleared his throat, still determined not to cry, and said "I promise. I will be safer. I promise. Thank...thank you. For not...doing any number of terrible things you'd be within your rights to do."

Hal clapped him on his shoulder one last time and opened the door, indicating that this emotional display was over, and it was time to return to normalcy. Just before John could make his exit though, Hal took his arm and said quietly "And John, I...I hope you find the love you are searching for," and gently pushed him through before he could respond.

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Jamie and Minnie sat at the breakfast table for a few minutes after Hal and John had departed, chatting idly, Jamie now feeding Dottie the remainder of his eggs. Minnie and Jamie were rarely in the same room alone together, at least since John had woken, and he decided to seize the opportunity without John's temper flaring. "Do ye think Lord John is really fit for this journey?" Minnie smiled at him in that odd way she had been recently.
"You heard the doctor. He doesn't think he should but as long as his headaches do not start again...I think Hal secretly wishes they would so he would stay. That's why he got him so drunk last night."
Jamie laughed and opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly they heard shouts, though he couldn't quite make out what was said or by which of the Grey brothers.

Jamie looked to Minnie, who looked equally perplexed and surprised, but she immediately smiled again and asked him if he'd like another cup of tea. Jamie had been at Argus House long enough now to have witnessed quite a few shouting matches between the Duke and the wee Lord and they were rarely cause for concern. He and Jenny fought the same way almost daily. Someone shouted again, clearly Pardloe this time, and Minnie begged his pardon to go and investigate.

She returned rather quickly, her face flushed. Clearly whatever she had heard behind the door had convinced her not to disturb them and Jamie chuckled a bit as she poured the tea he had not accepted.
Tom Byrd came in then, inquiring after John. "He's busy," Minnie and Jamie both said at once, and then broke into laughter.
Tom seemed confused, but bowed himself from the room without inquiring further. A feeling struck Jamie, like he was going to miss this house, this family, but he shook it away. It is only because ye miss Lallybroch, he thought. William. Ye shall see William soon.

A few moments later, both brothers reappeared, looking a little worse for wear but unharmed. John looked on the verge of tears and Jamie's heart leapt, eager to know why, but he swallowed that down, too. "Tom is looking for you, My Lord," he told him, thinking he'd like an excuse to retreat. John gave him a small smile, but wouldn't meet his eyes, and bowed from the room to finish his packing. Jamie thought he ought to do the same, but as he, too, tried to make his exit, Pardloe said
"I'm sorry to keep interrupting this morning's necessities, but I was hoping I may see you as well before you depart?"

As soon as the door shut, Jamie's mind flashed to the last time he had been in this office, the night John had returned, disheveled and flushed for reasons Jamie chose not to think of, to see him sitting in this chair. He smiled to himself remembering how angry he'd been then, and what a contrast it was now to mourn leaving. He had no reason to believe he'd ever see this house again, but rested in the knowledge that John would always follow wherever he went next.

Jamie sat and was surprised when the Duke sat next to him, instead of in his own chair at the desk. He reached into his pocket and drew out a small purse, the drawstrings drawn tightly over quite a sum of coins, and tried to hand it to Jamie.
"Captain Fraser, I want you to have this," he said. Jamie looked at the purse and struggled to reply for a moment.
"I canna accept that, Yer Grace," he said finally.

"I will only see that Tom Byrd smuggles it somewhere in your luggage otherwise," Hal told him, attempting friendliness, but still with an edge of authority that never quite dissipated. Jamie did not budge, though. He could match the Duke's stubbornness and have plenty to spare.
"Jamie, please. I understand your hesitation, but you must allow me this. It is only a fraction of what I owe you for what you've done for my family."

Jamie balked a bit. They had never used their Christian names with eachother, and the fact that he had done so now could easily be taken as an offense, but Jamie knew it was his sincerest attempt at warmth and said nothing to correct him.
Instead he said "Yer Grace, ye have done plenty. Ye have given me something I never thought I'd have: my freedom. Please, I canna take yer coin."
"Yes and now that you have your freedom you will need something to get you started. Forgive me, I know it is impertinent, but you will not make enough at Helwater to travel home to see your family without this. You've given me my brother, please allow me to help you visit your sister."
Jamie stilled for a second longer, but finally took the purse from Hal's outstretched hand and pocketed it. His father had taught him to always refuse twice, but to do so a third time was an offense. And he could not deny that what the Duke had said was true, and verra kind.

"I thank ye, Yer Grace. On my sister's behalf as well. Dinna be surprised if she sends ye a Christmas cake now." Hal laughed and said "If she does, please make sure it is a Dundee cake. I haven't had one since '46." He seemed to immediately catch his error, and Jamie resisted the urge to remind him what he was doing in Scotland in '46. Some things could never be resolved between them, but they could be shoved aside for John's sake.

--------------------------------------------------------‐---------

John checked in with Tom for his sake, lest the poor thing pack the wrong stockings and fret for a month over it, but quickly made his excuses and fled to the greenhouse. He needed a few moments alone before being confined to a carriage for several days, and he desperately needed to process the morning's events.
He settled into his favorite chair, closed his eyes, and breathed in the scent of the gardenias and roses and lavender that grew nearby, letting the gentle aromas calm him.

He must have drifted off, because he suddenly woke to the feel of a large, warm hand on his shoulder. He blinked his eyes and looked up. Jamie was standing over him, the sun shining through the glass roof making his hair blaze, and his warm smile made John's stomach clench and heat pooled in his groin. Without thinking, he reached up and pulled Jamie down by his neck for a kiss. He went willingly, but after a mere brush of their lips, pulled back and said "Ye ken this isn't the most private place."
John felt a bit of hysterical laughter bubble up his chest at that, thinking it should not be of much consequence in light of what Hal had heard, but he swallowed it down.

He pulled Jamie to sit next to him and rested a hand on his knee, one he could withdraw quickly if the door should open, and closed his eyes again. He wanted to stay in this moment forever, he and Jamie sitting quietly beneath the arbor, surrounded by the scent of flowers and the sun warming their skin.

But nothing lasts forever, and far too soon, the privates Hal had requested for the journey had arrived, the carriage was loaded, the children had said their goodbyes to their uncle and his large redheaded friend who, they had said, "talked funny", and the adults were gathered outside to share their own goodbyes. Minnie hugged Jamie, whispering something in his ear and kissing his cheek. John could tell Hal was teetering on the edge of asking him once more not to go so before he could, he stepped forward and embraced him in one more hug. "You know I keep my promises," he said. "No fights, no fires, no trouble."
Hal regarded him skeptically.
"Captain Fraser," he said, calling Jamie over. "Have a safe journey. Look after my brother. See that he does not get hurt."
"You have my word, Your Grace," Jamie returned, moving forward to shake his hand as Minnie moved to hug John. They climbed into the carriage, waved one last time to the children watching from the window, and their little caravan set off.

--------------------------------------------------------‐---------

Jamie settled back in his seat and eyed John. Hal had clearly said something to him in their row that morning that had had him rattled since.
"Bee in your bonnet, My Lord?" he asked.
John glanced at him and shook his head, but did not reply. Jamie narrowed his eyes.
"Alright. Ye dinna want to share whatever yer brother said to ye." John's nervous glance confirmed his suspicions.
"What did Minnie say to you?" John asked instead.
"Oh, she told me to be well and take care of ye, of course. And that she had packed my favorite bread and yer favorite cheese for luncheon. Do ye ken how much they love you?"

Jamie had spent many hours in John's chamber with the Duke and Duchess, watching and praying over John's body together. He had respected Pardloe before, but never trusted him. John was the only Redcoat he could trust, and that had come with quite a lot of difficulty. Now that he had been there to personally witness the depth of Hal's affections for his brother, the kindness and devotion he showed his children, the light and easy way he loved his wife, he found himself growing almost fond of the man. Not to mention the fact that he had secured his freedom. That was almost enough to make Jamie question everything he'd thought of the English. Almost.
John seemed to have some sort of emotional response to his words, but visibly shook it away and smiled.
"Yes. I know it now."

The hours passed slowly. Jamie always hated carriage rides, had always preferred being on the horse, in control, more aware of their surroundings. He and John played a few card games, made small talk here and there, but underneath it all there was a current. John was uncomfortable, restless. He seemed to be avoiding Jamie's eye and when he did speak, it was all very formal and polite.

They broke for lunch near a stream and the carriage driver set the horses loose to drink and graze as Tom set out the food. John went to speak to the Redcoats, who had blessedly been told not to speak to Jamie at all, and he went to find somewhere to relieve himself. When he returned, the privates were eating on their own blanket some distance away and John and Tom Byrd were waiting for him at theirs. A wave of sadness rolled over him now as he looked at them. Tom Byrd had also become somewhat of a friend in the wake of all that happened after the fire, and of course John was...John. He hadn't allowed himself to consider missing them, he had wanted nothing more than to see Willy again, but now it was registering. It suddenly dawned on him as well that that was why John was becoming distant. He knew that John had a particular talent for putting unwanted emotions into a box and hoarding them far, far away.
He set his teeth and decided not to allow John to pull away from him yet. They still had time.

He sat on the blanket with the men and tucked into the dried apples, cheese, and his favorite kind of bread that Minnie had made sure to pack. He watched as John ate silently, occasionally glancing up to watch the horses graze. It struck him again how bonnie he was, his hair tied loosely and blowing in the gentle breeze, his cheeks flushed always, his mouth currently set in some sort of determined way, sitting on the ground in his fancy breeches, delicate fingers picking apart his food. Jamie knew those fingers may be delicate, but he could grasp a sword in them as tightly as he grasped...

Tom Byrd cleared his throat and Jamie broke his gaze and mind away from John's hands. "I beg yer pardon, Tom, I didna hear ye." John was eyeing him knowingly, a small smile playing at his lips.
"Tom asked if you were planning on visiting Lallybroch, now that you are free to do so," he told him.
"Oh, aye. If all goes to plan and I become a proper employee of Lord Dunsany, I would like to use my time off to visit in a few months or so," he replied.
"I should suppose your family will be very happy to see you. If I may, how long has it been?" Tom asked.
Jamie sighed but smiled and said "Nearly a decade. The bairns will nearly all be grown now. I dinna ken if they'll even recognize me. But...there is a lad there...Fergus. I shall be verra happy to see him grown and well. He...he was verra special to my wife and I." His eyes met John's again and John smiled sadly at him.

When they were back on the road, Jamie drew the curtains to the carriage and settled himself next to John, laying his head on his shoulder and crossing his arms over his chest. "I hope ye dinna mind me usin' ye for a pillow," he said.
"Of course not," John replied. "Fergus. You mentioned that name once. You said he was like your own son?"
"Aye. He was a wee lad when we met. Grew up in a brothel. Claire and I...we sort of adopted him. When I staged my capture, it had much to do wi' him. He was trying verra hard to be like me, and he was nearly kilt for it." Jamie swallowed, remembering what had occurred in the forest that day. "I went to prison to save my family from my mistakes. He lives at Lallybroch now wi' Jenny and Ian. They've looked after him, brought him up properly."
John was listening quietly, stroking his thumb over Jamie's knee. Now he said
"Jamie, I...I'm very sorry you've been kept from your family so long. I'm sorry for my hand in it."

"Ye have had no hand in it, as I can see. Did yer brother no' deliver me to Lallybroch illegally because his wee teenage brother shared the details of a debt he owed? Did ye no' tell me that ye once tried to arrange for my pardon, but could only secure my parole instead? Have ye no' gotten my freedom for me at last? I will see both of my sons again because of the Greys. Ye dinna owe me an apology, ever, John."
"Were I only able to give it to you sooner...
How old is Fergus now?"
"Weel, he was sixteen when last I saw him. He'll be a proper man now. Still unmarried, according to the letters Jenny sends. And dinna go givin' me any of yer ideas about bachelors! She says he has a different lass in the hay wi' him every week!"
John roared with laughter and the carriage shook a bit as he doubled over.
When he had quieted himself again, Jamie resumed his use of his shoulder as a pillow and said "I will miss ye, verra much, John. I hope ye ken that."
John did not respond, simply placed his hand on Jamie's knee once more and closed his eyes to sleep.

--------------------------------------------------------‐---------

The carriage rolled to a stop in front of an inn a few hours later and John nearly shoved Jamie from it in his desire to get out. He knew Jamie hated being inside the damned thing, but thought he could match that hatred quite easily, if not exceed it. He was hungry again, desperately needed to take a piss, and his legs ached from sitting in one place so long. Needless to say, John Grey was in a foul temper. The rest of the party sensed it right away and gave him a wide berth as Tom Byrd went to acquire rooms and the privates that accompanied them began glancing around the street, probably hoping to spot a brothel nearby. Normally, John wouldn't allow them to stray from their mission, but tonight he could not care less where they stuck their cocks or laid their heads.

"My Lord," Tom said, now emerging from the inn, "The proprietor here says he only has two rooms available, and that he is the only inn in the village. Driver and I may sleep in the stables, though. The lads may have to sleep in the carriage. Or we could continue, the next village is but two hours away." John rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to stamp his foot. Jamie was watching him, obviously aware John would throw a fit for two hours if he did not intervene.

"Nay, we'll stay here," he said. "Lord John and I will share a room, if they've got an extra cot. You and the driver can share the other. The lads can sleep in the stable. Though they look as if they shall be finding other accommodations on their own. Is the kitchen still open?"
Tom blinked at Jamie in surprise at his accommodating suggestion and then looked to John for approval, who waved his hand dismissively.
"Yes, the kitchen is still serving meals, if we hurry. I shall go let the proprietor know our plans. Thank you, Captain Fraser."
Jamie came up behind John and guided him into the pub by his shoulders.
"Ye are a temperamental wee thing when ye're hungry, are ye no'?" he laughed.
As predicted, the privates had vanished before they could step inside and the driver took the horses to the stables to be bedded.

"I demand a steak. And potatoes. And ale. Help me, Jamie," John whinged.
"Aye, aye, My Lord, I promise we shall acquire all ye need. And if ye did no' hear me out there, I have acquired a shared room for us as well," Jamie winked at him and set off to find a table for the three men and John finally found the privy.

Before long, they were tucking into their meals with vigor, tankards of ale sloshing as they drank deeply, slamming them back onto the table, and stuffing their mouths again. John remembered their first night in Ireland and said "Will you be leading us all in song tonight, Tom?" Jamie chuckled to himself when Tom blushed deeply.
"My Lord, I am...deeply sorry...you ever...I wish we could all just forget...um..."
Jamie was barely holding back his laughter now and John saw fit to rescue the poor fellow. "Oh, nevermind, Tom. I don't know what I was talking about. I imagined the whole event. Your dignity is intact."

They finished their supper and John called for an early retirement, wanting nothing more than to take off his shoes and stretch out. His head was starting to hurt a bit, but he would not tell Jamie or Tom, lest they send him back to Argus House straight away.
"I'm exhausted," he said instead as he and Jamie entered their room together. Being barefoot on the bed was everything he had fantasized and he sighed as his head hit the pillow. Jamie sat on the edge of the cot that had been provided and started to remove his own clothes. "Care for a dram?" he asked John, pulling his flask from his pocket. John eyed him warily.
"How do you always manage to have whiskey everywhere you go?"
"Ye can consider me a Scottish leprechaun if ye like. I use my magic to conjure the liquid gold," he said coyly, and John laughed, then groaned a bit.
"I should be wary of your nightcaps by now. They always lead to one of two things, often both. And they never seem to help us get any actual sleep."

Jamie smiled and moved to the bed.
"Well then, I'll strike a bargain wi' ye. One drink, one question, and I'll spare yer tender arse and let ye get some sleep."
John sat up and took the flask from him, but only took a small nip, his head was beginning to ache too much to add whiskey to the pyre. "Alright. I'm ready."
Jamie jumped right in "Do ye wish to talk about why ye're in such dour spirits?"
"No," John said quickly. "But I will tell you.
I suspect you already know. I...I am going to miss you. I suppose that's far too sentimental for our...arrangement. But there it is." Jamie smiled at him and took his hand, lifting it to his lips and kissing his knuckles.

"Ye ken ye always prepare for battle when ye talk of yer feelings? Do ye think I shall stab ye with my dagger for using the same words I said to ye today? I will miss ye, too. Verra much. But things are different now. We shall meet again, and no' in another year's time. Soon. I promise ye."
John wanted to believe that, truly. But at the moment he did not feel like telling Jamie he may be wrong, so instead he nodded and lay back in the bed.
Jamie stood and began undoing John's breeches, and he stared at him in bewilderment. "Christ, John," he laughed, "I am no' tryin' to seduce ye so unceremoniously. Ye're falling asleep in yer clothes, ye dafty."
He left John in his shirt and crawled up the bed beside him. John hummed in contentment as Jamie covered them both with the blanket and before long, he was fast asleep in his arms.

--------------------------------------------------------‐---------

Jamie woke with a start several hours later. He had dreamt of Lallybroch again. John and Claire were in his bed, beckoning him into their arms. He had lain down between them, felt their soft hands over his heated skin, their mouths all over body.
"Christ, I'm going to Hell," he muttered into the dark now. He quickly realized the dreams weren't the only reason for the hardened flesh between his legs. He had been holding John tightly, and the man's naked arse was nestled right against him, his cheeks nearly spread around his cock. Jamie's fingers tightened on his hips and he rubbed against John with a groan.
"Oh, Heaven save me, the Seventh Circle for sure. John, wake up." He shook him by his shoulder, not wishing to further rouse his...situation.

John's body seemed to disagree, he let out a small sleepy moan and wriggled his hips, pressing Jamie further into his cleft. Jamie forced himself to pull away with a whimper and shook his shoulder a bit harder. John's elbow collided gently with Jamie's ribs as he startled awake. "Jamie?" he asked, without turning.
"Ssshhh," Jamie whispered. "Aye. Sorry to wake ye so rudely, but I didna think ye would take kindly to wakin' with my hard cock pressed against against yer arse as it were."
"What?!" John did roll onto his back now and looked at Jamie as if he'd told him he had been born on the moon. He reached between them and brushed his hand over his groin, eliciting a small gasp.
"Oh," he said. He rolled back onto his side and pressed back again with a small smile. "You may do as you wish." He nestled back into his pillow and closed his eyes again.

Jamie growled and dragged John into him, whispering in his ear "Ye dinna wish to be a more active participant? I dinna think I should rut against a sleeping man, ye ken?" "Mmmm...I'm sure by the time you start rutting I'll be more awake. The oil is in my valise."
Jamie hesitated and sighed. The room was cold, and John was so very warm. But he was painfully hard, and John was clearly teasing him with those little circles he was drawing with his hips now. He released his hold and sprang from the bed, hearing a distinctive chuckle from John's pillow. He practically tore the bag open and began tossing John's personal items all over the cot in his search. His fingers finally alighted on a small glass bottle and he dove back between the sheets, pulling off his night shirt, placing the bottle on the nightstand, and scooped John into his arms once more.

He kissed John's neck, inhaling the scent of him, running his fingers through his hair to uncover more skin to nip at. John lay still for the most part, but the breathy sounds he made belied his indifference. The sun began to rise as Jamie reached down and fondled at him, finding him far more aroused than he'd let on. John gasped quietly and pressed his arse back into Jamie's hips once more as Jamie's fingers trailed down, over his cock, softly caressing his balls, that soft patch of skin that made him moan...

"Jamie, we should be quick. People will be rising soon. And quiet, you should keep me quiet." He reached for the bottle of oil and poured some on his hand, then reached back and stroked Jamie's cock thoroughly. Jamie shivered at the implication: to take him quickly, no time to open him up. "Keep me quiet," John said again, pulling Jamie's hand to cover his mouth. Oh, Christ, Jamie thought, and he pressed his hand tightly to stifle John's groan while his cock pressed inside.

When he was fully seated, John nipped lightly at his hand. Without removing it he leaned in and whispered "Does it hurt?" John hesitated, his eyes trying to peer at Jamie. He was wrapped as tightly in Jamie's embrace as Jamie's cock was wrapped in his arse, his body was tense and he panted against Jamie's hand, but after a second, he relaxed against him with a sigh and nodded his head slightly.

Jamie's immediate response was to withdraw, but something told him to remain still.
"Do...do ye like it?" he whispered again.
John groaned and nodded, now melting against his hold and rolling his hips.
"Jesus," Jamie breathed. "You little..."
He pulled out a bit and pressed in again, causing a muffled whimper. "I'm gonna have ye, hard and fast, do ye want that?"
John nodded vigorously and Jamie buried his face in his neck and began to ride him with punishing force.

Now he kent why John had told him to keep him quiet. His eyes were rolled back, his body curved, every muscle tight, and the litany of groans, whimpers, and muffled oaths that poured from him reminded Jamie once again that John was the mouthiest lover he'd ever had. Jamie wasn't faring much better. He was pistoning his hips so quickly he could feel the sheets rubbing a sore into his side, John was clenching down on him, and he was hissing sweet words into John's ear that contrasted greatly with the brutality of their lovemaking, trying so hard not to surrender to to the shouts that would prefer to rip out of him.

He was getting so close, teeth clamped down on John's shoulder now, and John letting out unintelligible, high pitched sounds as he bit right back, but he just could not seem to get the leverage he needed to pound John to completion. He threw a leg over John's waist and planted his foot on the bed and he had the leverage now. He pressed John down into the mattress and pulled nearly all the way out, leaving just the head inside John's rim, then slammed home. John's eyes shut tightly and Jamie kept up his pace until he finally found that spot that made John fall apart.

When he had spent his last drop, John collapsed like a wet noodle, Jamie slowed his thrusts, pressing tightly inside him and rocking against him, rubbing his pubic bone over John's stretched and overstimulated rim. John whimpered again and Jamie pulled out suddenly, taking himself in hand and spilling his seed on the back of John's thighs, his vision going white.

When he finally peeled his hand from John's mouth, he took great gasping breaths before rolling over and pulling Jamie into a sloppy kiss.

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John winced and hissed slightly as he pulled his undergarments over his bottom. He would be grateful today for the carriage, he decided. Jamie was sitting up in the bed, watching him, the morning sun now filling the room with light. He glanced over his shoulder at him and saw him raise his brow.
"What's on your mind?" John asked him. "Are ye verra sore?" Jamie replied.
John smiled and rubbed his bottom. He was raw for sure, bruised, almost certainly, but he didn't think Jamie had torn him, due only to the fact he had taken him so recently before. It simply ached in that wonderful way only a good, hard pounding can give and he relished the slight limp he picked up on as he made his way to sit on the bed.

"No. No more than I wish to be. That was...incredible. You were incredible."
He kissed Jamie deeply then, opening his mouth wide and letting his tongue roam lazily. Jamie's hands moved down his arms, over his waist, and when he reached John's arse, he grabbed a handful of each cheek and squeezed hard, pulling them apart slightly and sending a small pulse of pain to John's hole. "Mmm, that's the idea," he murmured against Jamie's lips. Jamie gave him a light swat and said "Ye ought to rub some arnica on it. It'll bring down the swelling and help the bruises fade quickly." John pulled back and quirked his brow at him. "Alright, Doctor Fraser. I'll do that." He kissed Jamie lightly once more and stood. "I'm famished, and I should let Tom dress me since we will be arriving at Helwater today. May I beg your leave?"
"I suppose I dinna have a choice," Jamie replied, and John smiled at him before retrieving his trunk and heading for Tom's room.
He knew Tom would be surprised to see John come to him instead of the other way around, the proper way, but the room smelled of sex and the sheets were damp with sweat and seed and Jamie was still naked in the bed. Not a good look.

Once dressed and fed, Tom, Jamie, John, and the driver emerged to find the two Redcoats blessedly awaiting their departure. John had wondered if he'd have to go and find them and knew that if he had, he would have them lashed on their return to London. He noticed that Jamie had dressed in his old clothes, presumably not wishing to rouse the jeers of the other stable men if he arrived at Helwater in fancy dress, and the boys eyed him suspiciously. John was sure they were wondering why a guest of the Duke of Pardloe was suddenly dressed as a servant, but it was none of their business, and he felt a strong urge to remind them of that. As soon as he had the thought, he remembered Hal's words: that he had been referring to his fellow soldiers as Redcoats more and more, that he was getting swept away in Jamie, in his political views. He laughed suddenly to himself, wondering if perhaps his brother were right after all and if he should be careful, lest he find himself wrapped in plaid.

Chapter Text

"Jamie. Jamie? Wake up, Sleeping Beauty, you're almost home."

Jamie blinked his eyes open. The sun was just beginning its descent, casting the carriage in a yellow glow, and he was drooling on John's knee and John's hand was buried in his curls. He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, glancing out the window. They were just passing Hopetoun House, about five miles from Helwater, and he felt a thrill run through him. They would be back in time to give William a riding lesson before his supper, if the family allowed it.
He turned back to John and noticed he was watching him, a sad smile playing at his mouth.

Now that they were finally, finally within shouting distance of William, everything Jamie had pushed away for the last week came flooding to the surface and he suddenly had to grasp John's knee to keep himself upright. This was it. Once they were at Helwater, the charade would begin again, Jamie would be a servant and John would be a guest of the family he served; and tomorrow John would be leaving, Jamie would be alone again, the dreams of Claire would come back.
Willy, Willy, he thought, closing his eyes and breathing through his nose. It's all for William.

"Hey," John said, sensing his distress. "Hey, are you alright?"
Jamie opened his eyes and forced himself to smile. "Fine, lad. Just a turn. I'm fine."
John eyed him skeptically, but let it go with a laugh. "Why do you still call me 'lad'? You know I'm well past that age now."
Jamie smiled and very annoyingly pinched his cheek. "Ye'll always be a lad to me, William Grey, second son of Viscount Melton. A scrawny lad who didna have the sense God gave him, and attempted to take down a man twice his size," Jamie started to laugh a bit, "And who verra brazenly threatened a room full of men twice his size." He could barely speak now, he was laughing so hard, and John's scowl only made him laugh harder. "Ye were such a wee thing! So bawdy when ye said 'I hope to discharge that debt, and then I WILL kill you!' Ye looked exactly as ye do now."

John was staring icy blue daggers at him, a stark contrast to the red burning his cheeks. "My voice was never that high pitched," he said stonily and turned to sulk out the window. "And to think, that scrawny lad with no sense was going to invite you to his room tonight. How fortunate that I've grown up."
Jamie thought he had truly hurt John, and was about to apologize, but he saw the grin John was trying to hide out the window.
"Nay, I will no' come to yer room tonight," he said, and John's face fell. Jamie grabbed his face roughly and pressed a kiss to his mouth. "I was hoping ye'd come to the barn instead."

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As soon as they turned onto the path to Helwater, Jamie assumed the air of a child about to meet his first pony, and John could not help smiling at his enthusiasm.
Even from this distance, he could see the family gathered in front of the house to greet them, and William was noticeably jumping up and down. He saw Lady Isobel attempt to reign the boy in, but he kicked at her and flopped on the ground. John laughed at this, but saw Jamie was shaking his head.
"They dinna discipline the wean a bit," he said. "He'll grow up spoilt, mark my words."
"He has your temperament," John told him.
He expected Jamie to laugh, but he looked startled. He thought he knew why and said
"Don't worry. All boys his age act that way. Nobody would jump to any conclusions."
"Thank Christ he has his mother's hair," Jamie murmured, and John had to agree, had thought the same thing himself.

They were stopping in front of the house now, and any discomfort Jamie had felt a moment ago had clearly faded. With one last glance between them, John nodded and stepped from the carriage, leaving Jamie to exit behind him after an appropriate amount of time. William, however, cared not for propriety. He sprang from Isobel's grasp, shouting "Mac! Mac!"
and scrambled into the carriage. He almost fell in the process, and Jamie's big hands emerged and scooped him up.
He stepped onto the lawn holding the boy in his arms, his little head resting on his shoulder, and in that moment, John would have sold his soul to take the both of them in the carriage and far, far away from here. France, perhaps. They both spoke excellent French. They could teach William easily.

He shook his head to clear away the mad thought, passing off his laugh as one directed at the child, and turned his back on them in his great act of indifference.
"Lady Dunsany," he greeted her warmly with a hug, then moved to shake Lord Dunsany's hand. He tried to give Isobel a familial nod, but she had moved into his arms so quickly he had no choice but to return the embrace.
"Welcome back, Mackenzie," she said to Jamie, taking William from his arms, and John saw the pain flash across his face as he handed the boy over.
"I was wondering if ye would wish me to give the lad a lesson before the afternoon is out?" he asked her quietly. John thought he saw something pass between the two of them, and Isobel nodded before turning back to him, now passing the boy off to the nanny as he wailed.

"Lord John," she said, "I just acquired an excellent book I'd love to show you."
He tried for his most polite smile and turned instead to her father.
"Actually, Lord Dunsany, I have something I wish to discuss you, and I'm afraid we should do so at the earliest convenience. I need to set off in the morning."
"Oh, my dear boy," Dunsany said, and John managed to steer him toward the house and away from Isobel as he did, "must you leave so soon?"

The truth was, he had no reason to leave so soon, and he had no idea where to go from here. But he had thought about this much since he had decided to take the journey to escort Jamie and arrange his hire. If he were to stay, it would only be torture to have to behave as if Jamie were just a former prisoner, a servant. He always had difficulty finding excuses to find and speak to Jamie on his visits, and he had no reason to expect he'd do any better this time. So he had decided to get the worst part over with as quickly as possible and not draw out the inevitable.

"I do wish I could stay longer," he replied to Dunsany, "but I have some business in London that needs my attention."
"Well, then, we won't keep you any longer than you can stay. What is it you need to discuss with me?"
They had reached Dunsany's office now, and John shut the door and pulled the folded paper from his breast pocket.
"It's about Mr. Fraser," he said.....

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Jamie strolled into the barn at midnight, the time he and John had agreed upon, and spread his blanket across the hay.
He checked outside to make sure nobody was about, then decided to move the lantern further into the barn. After a few seconds of sitting and waiting, he started to pace. His palms were sweating, and he started to worry that perhaps John were not coming. He shook his head at the idea. He wasn't sure why he was so nervous, but upon giving it some thought, he realized it wasn't John's imminent arrival that had him anxious, but his departure.

The fact was, he had grown attached to John in ways he had neither anticipated nor had wanted to. It was always meant to be about two lonely people finding comfort in eachother, but the events of the last several weeks had spiraled so far beyond either of their control, and they had sought eachother time and again. Jamie had grown accustomed to John's presence, his friendship, their banter. Of course, he had also grown used to making love to him, waking in bed with him, ideas that still shocked him to his core even now. He did not want to let him go, and the very moment he allowed himself to acknowledge that, he decided that he must. It was better, he could see now, for John to leave at first light. He had always hated prolonged goodbyes.

John appeared in the open doorway of the barn and Jamie felt his worries fade away at the sight of him. He was dressed in only his shirt and breeches, a midnight blue cape over his shoulders and a cloth draped around his neck for warmth, and his hair was loose and damp. He was standing in the doorway, gazing about the barn, as if afraid to enter. His eyes met Jamie's and he smiled.
"So, back at the beginning are we?"
"I thought it fitting," Jamie replied, returning his smile.

John moved to sit on the blanket Jamie had laid, and he joined him.
"Gosh, the last time we were here..." John breathed, and Jamie chuckled. "We were not so fond of eachother then, were we?"
"Nay," Jamie said. He still felt a terrible guilt for what had happened that day, but what had come after was almost worth it. The understanding they had each gained of eachother had bloomed here.
"Nay, I did no' like ye verra much at all. But I didna ken ye then, either. I had decided in my mind who and what ye were, and I was verra wrong."
"Well, for what it may be worth, I didn't really know you then, either." John said, laying back on the blanket. "I certainly never saw you as very...tender. Perhaps that's why I took such a liking to you."

"Ye mean to say ye dinna like tenderness in yer lovers?" Jamie asked. He didn't like the sound of that, didn't like envisioning John with men like...
"No, I do, actually. Well, to be perfectly honest, I have a very particular type." Jamie raised a brow at him, asking him to elaborate, and John smiled, bashfully ducking his head and saying, "I suppose...I tend to...I prefer my men...large. Strong. But...sweet. There's something about seeing strong men bend to my will and turn soft at my touch that..." He looked up at Jamie now and saw him staring at him in a mix of shock, humor, and desire. "...excites me," he finished, blushing.

Jamie was smiling coyly at him.
"And so ye met me, a dirty, gruff, murderous, barbaric Scottish prisoner and thought to yerself 'that could make an interesting change'? Or perhaps I was the epitome of a challenge?"
John burst into laughter and, instead of shushing him, Jamie got up to close and latch the barn door. He sat back down next to John, closer this time, and waited for an answer.

"No, that wasn't it. Well, perhaps. I don't know. I think...I think I was trying to protect myself. I was certainly physically drawn to you...to be perfectly honest, I found you very attractive the night we met at Corrieyairack. But it's much easier to keep things strictly physical when the man you are trying to seduce hates you."
"And why would ye want to be with a man that ye thought hated you?" Jamie asked, once again concerned about what sorts of things John got up to when he wasn't around.
"Let's just say I wasn't at Ardsmuir for the fresh sea air. There was an...incident. It was a prison for me, too. At the time, it was much safer not to allow hearts to get involved. Of course, had I known how my attempt at seduction would end, it would not have been my heart I'd have worried over." John grinned at him, their volatile past now a humorous anecdote to him, but Jamie could not return it. Pieces of a puzzle were beginning to slot themselves together in his mind, fragments of conversations they'd had over the years.

John rarely spoke openly about his private affairs, though he did unflinchingly answer every question Jamie had asked. Jamie had always rationalized his curiosity in the matter as polite interest in his friend, but now, sitting together in the place where he had once all but admitted to being afraid of John, he realized he was afraid for him. He had once asked John how he went about soliciting the attentions of men, and he had spoken of whispers, glances, touches of the hand, like that night at Ardsmuir. Signals that men of his ilk had to learn and distinguish. Signals that he had said could be misread, could lead to people like Jamie threatening to murder him. Jamie's mind flashed to another conversation that had taken place in this barn, the one that had lead to the rage and the slander and the violence, the one about his stepbrother. John had been the one who had caught his lover in the act of being had by a fellow soldier, and he had had to turn his back on him and allow the law to have its say. And now he was telling Jamie he'd been sent to Ardsmuir for some kind of indiscretion. He remembered John telling him of brothels, molly walks, alleyways and quick, hushed meetings with men he'd only just met, out in the open, because one cannot take a lover to one's bed. John preferring men so much larger than himself. John coming home disheveled, smelling of another man, covered in bruises from their lust. Jesus, how dangerous was this lifestyle of his?

John was watching him, and Jamie realized he'd been staring at him for some time as he contemplated these realizations. He reached out and stroked his thumb over John's cheek, ignoring the clench in his stomach he was starting to feel every time it hit him that he was so close to saying goodbye to something he'd never wanted to become attached to in the first place. He needed more information, needed to know that John would be safe when he left Jamie behind and sought comfort and affection elsewhere.

"I just realized I never asked ye," he said now, "whatever happened in the matter concerning yer stepbrother? Were ye...able to...?"
John gave him a look of surprise, probably wondering what had brought them to this, but, as always, answered his question.
"Oh, yes. He's fine. He's...somewhere. I...um...well...I sort of arranged a jail break on his behalf." John shifted uncomfortably and wouldn't quite meet Jamie's eye. Jamie wondered if he were uncomfortable talking about his former lover or if it was because he, a former warden himself and Officer of the Crown, had participated in a prisoner's escape, and he couldn't help the smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.
"John Grey," he teased, "ye are a romantic, aren't ye? I only wish ye had been able to get to know my Claire. The two o' ye could have started a business together, breaking people out of prison for their loved ones."

"I assure you, it wasn't to do with romance at all. I simply...owed it to him. It could have been me in that cell. We could have been caught together. And..." He found a loose thread on the bottom of his breeches and started to tug on it. "I never quite forgave myself for leaving him there that night. My friend had urged me to flee, to not be the one to arrest my own brother. But that's not why I followed his advice. I was angry, and hurt. I felt betrayed. So...I left him there. To fend for himself." Tears were welling in his eyes, and Jamie looked away as he wiped at them, knowing how much John hated to shed them in front of anyone. "I could have tried to persuade the witnesses to look the other way, forget what they saw. Hell, I could have bribed them under the pretense of protecting my family's honor. That would have been less suspicious than abandoning him. But I allowed my wounded pride to send a man to his death simply because he had fucked someone else. I had to fix that."

"I dinna think it was yer pride that was wounded," Jamie said, taking John's hand in his own. "Did ye love him verra much?"
"I was starting to," John mumbled. Then he took a deep breath and met Jamie's eyes.
"What makes you ask about Percy now?"
"I suppose I was just wondering if there were any...legal recourse, perhaps...ye had employed. If there were one available."
"A legal defense? Against sodomy? No, not really. You could argue that it didn't take place, but not when there are witnesses. That's...that's about it."
Jamie chewed his thumb as he thought on that. "What about that other feller of yers? The friend. From before?"

John gave him a look as if he had just declared he'd like to feast on some of the hay they sat on and pulled his hand away. "What about him?"
"Do ye think ye might go back to him?"
"I...I couldn't possibly say. I doubt so very much. Jamie, what is this about?"
Jamie knew he would be called out on his interrogation eventually and decided to be honest in his response.
"I...I want to know that ye will be safe. When ye leave here, I ken ye will...take other lovers. And ye ken I have no quarrel with that. I dinna have any claim to ye. But...ye will be careful, will ye no'? To not be caught? And...and be careful with the lovers ye take. This world you walk in...there are dangerous men in those shadows."

‐--------------------------------------------------------------------

John hadn't known what to expect from this conversation, but that wasn't it.
This again? he thought to himself.
Have I done something to make everyone around me believe I am running around recklessly bedding every man I meet?
Still though, the earnest sentiment behind Jamie's inquisition touched him. He quickly grabbed Jamie by the back of his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
"First of all," he said with a sigh, "I have no intention of leaving you here and immediately seeking my next conquest, or seeking out old ones. Secondly, I appreciate your concern, and I understand where it comes from. But my world isn't exactly brimming with the type of men you are thinking of. And I have a lot of experience at practicing discretion. True, I haven't always kept my secrets as well I'd like, but I assure you, I flaunt nothing."
"John, I didna mean to imply..."
"And finally..." John cut him off, holding up a finger, "yes. I promise. I'll be careful."
"That's all I ask," Jamie said quietly.

"And now," John said, moving over to Jamie and straddling his lap. Jamie raised his brows in surprise but wrapped his arms around John's waist regardless.
"Can we say a proper goodbye?"
Instead of answering, Jamie gripped John's hips tightly and rolled him onto his back, covering his body with his own and quickly latching his mouth onto John's.
After several seconds of allowing Jamie to coax his mouth open and explore its depths with his tongue, John pulled back and breathlessly said "I'll take that as a sign that you are amiable," and seized a lungful of air as Jamie's head dipped and captured his lips once more.

Jamie was pressing John into the hay with all his weight, his hands were everywhere, squeezing John's hips, running down his thighs and pulling his legs up, tugging at his neck cloth as his mouth searched for more skin to press his kisses to. John could barely move under him to play along, so he decided to just lay back and allow Jamie to push and pull his malleable body however he wanted.

When he finally tugged the cloth free and discarded it somewhere over his shoulder, Jamie set to work ravishing John's throat. John writhed as his mouth came down on a particularly tender spot of thin skin over his collarbone, and he felt Jamie smirk as he licked and sucked at it, then licked a trail up behind his ear and sucked on the even more sensitive spot there. It was as if he had spent the last several weeks mapping John's body, archiving every inch of flesh that could make John whinge.
His left hand was in John's hair, tenderly massaging his scalp, and his right hand was alternating between undoing his breeches and running soothing circles on the thigh John had hitched over his waist. All the while, that hot wet mouth of his was now nipping and suckling it's way across his throat, and his hips were rolling oh so slowly, digging his painfully hard cock into John's. John was dazed and completely at his mercy, and he loved it.

He closed his eyes and let his head fall all the way back, too overwhelmed by the feelings covering his body, and let Jamie work him in all the ways he now knew best. After several seconds of Jamie's gentle, teasing kisses, he felt him latch on to that spot by his ear again. Suddenly, he bit down hard, ran his tongue over the spot, then bit down again and began to suck as if trying to draw blood. John's back arched and he cried out, seizing Jamie's curls and tugging sharply at them.
"Ah! Jamie! Jamie! I can't cover that spot with my cloth, you know."

Jamie pulled back and John gasped at the predatory gleam in his eye. He opened his mouth to say something, but Jamie smirked in a rather disconcerting way and before John could let out a syllable, his mouth was filled with Jamie's tongue. His hands were now gripping John's waist, digging into the bruises left there this morning and aching oh so sweetly, and the two of them began to rut together like the animals Jamie tended.

John's head swam. The barn was sweltering, Jamie's weight was nearing on too much, the constant pressure of his grip and their pelvises pushing against eachother, and his mouth pressed so tightly against his own, practically cutting off his air supply...he was dizzy with it and if it didn't stop soon, he was either going to pass out or make a mess of his breeches.

He pressed a hand to Jamie's chest and pushed against him, but his feeble attempt was quickly proven to be in vain. Jamie growled and snatched his hand away, lacing their fingers together and pressing it down onto the blanket while driving his hips into John's even harder.
"Christ, John," he whispered hotly into his ear, his head buried in John's neck, "what've ye done to me? Do ye ken what ye do to me? I want ye so badly. I want...ah!"

John had pulled his hand free and seized Jamie by the front of his shirt. He smashed his lips against his lover's and, with all his strength, shoved him back into a sitting position and then pulled away, scooting across the blanket to put some space between them.

They sat staring at eachother, panting hard, and John felt a shiver roll through him at the look Jamie was giving him. His teeth were bared, his breaths coming out in short huffs. His lips were red and swollen, his cheeks flushed, and his curls had gone wild. He looked at John like a bull about to charge and the sounds coming from him were enough to seal the idea firmly in John's mind.

John eyed him warily and held up a hand in defense. "Jamie...for the love of God, take your trousers off." Jamie obliged immediately, standing and stripping his clothes off like they burned his skin, and John lay back and finished unlacing his breeches. Jamie crawled back onto the blanket and helped him pull them off, along with his shirt. Once they were both fully bared to eachother though, Jamie softened.

His eyes went wide as he took in the bruises covering John's hips.
"It's alright. They don't hurt," he told him, thinking his hesitancy was due to his usual guilt whenever he got rough with John.
But as Jamie glanced up from John's waist to his face and back again, he realized the look in his eye wasn't guilt.
Jamie licked his lips and said "I ken I ought to worry about that, but at the moment I was just thinking how much I like that ye'll leave here with my fingerprints." He glanced up at John again, searching his face for any sign of offense and, finding none, dipped his head down to press his mouth against them.
John lay his head back with a sigh and rested a hand in Jamie's curls, letting him do as he pleased for a moment or two, but he did have other plans, and when Jamie's mouth started to make its way toward his very eager member, he sat up and pulled him with him.

"I do believe it's my turn to do that," John told him, coaxing him to lay down and moving between his thighs. To his surprise, Jamie had taken to pleasuring him with his mouth like a fish takes to water. But John had spent many years perfecting his skill, and as this was their last night together, he wanted Jamie to remember just how good he was at it.

Jamie's cock was hard and flushed, precome already starting to pearl at the tip, and John flicked it with the tip of his tongue, enjoying the way Jamie moaned and bit off a curse. John grinned up at him before wrapping a hand around the base and sucking the head into his mouth, tongue swirling along the slit. Jamie made a low growling noise and thread his right hand through John's hair, holding still as he licked and sucked and stroked him, but the heavy rasp of his ragged breathing, the tension in his thighs, and the sharp tightening of his hand in John's hair were evidence enough of how aroused he was.

John hummed in a bit of self-satisfaction and lowered his head further, trying to take as much of Jamie into his mouth as he could. If the constant ache in his bottom after every night of lovemaking weren't enough to remind John of just how thick Jamie's member was, this certainly was. His lips stretched so tightly over the hard flesh that drool pooled in the corners of his mouth and dribbled onto the gorgeous nest of copper curls.

Jamie's mouth hung open as he stared at him in wonder, gently coaxing John to take him further, smirking a little when he struggled. "Do ye enjoy that, mo ghille milis? Stretchin' yer mouth around me like so? Does it remind ye of what's to come later?" John moaned at the sheer filth of Jamie's newfound talent for pillow talk and reached a hand down to stroke himself, just enough to take the edge off.
He pulled off Jamie gently, enjoying the way his heavy cock fell onto his stomach, leaving a smear of precum and saliva, and fixed him with a hungry gaze.

Jamie sat up as well and reached for him. John climbed happily into his lap and sighed as Jamie pulled him in for a kiss, running a hand down his back and grasping a cheek in his large hand.
"Ye dinna ken how bad I want ye, John,"
Jamie husked, taking little nips at John's throat between his words. "I had ye not twelve hours ago and still, thoughts of laying ye down in this hay have been filling my mind all day. I canna get enough of yer sweet arse."

John groaned and ground his cock against Jamie's, burying his head in Jamie's neck and whispering in his ear "You can have my arse whenever you want it."
With a low growl, Jamie flipped John onto his back and hastily shimmied down his body, lifted his legs over his shoulders, and disappeared. John felt one cheek being shoved to the side, and something warm and soft and wet was pressing against his entrance. He threw his head back and moaned, snatching handfuls of Jamie's copper curls as Jamie hummed and probed John open with his tongue.

"Ye're so open for me, John," he whispered, sounding awed and incredibly aroused by the fact. "Ye canna wait to get me inside, can ye, balach milis?" John shook his head feebly, unable to form words at the moment as Jamie had dipped his head back down and was now flicking his tongue wildly over John's rim. "Where is your oil, lad?" He asked, raising his head again.
"In...in the pocket...of my breeches," John replied breathlessly, trying to swallow what felt like a wad of cotton in his mouth.

Jamie pulled the vial oil out and unstoppered it, pouring a generous amount of the cypress oil onto his fingers. He scooted further into the V between John's legs and bent over him, using his left arm to prop himself up and pressing a sweet kiss to his mouth as his other hand reached down. Unfortunately for both of them, the moment Jamie attempted to slide his middle finger into John, he hissed and pulled away before he could stop himself.

Jamie looked down at him in surprise and worry and John felt his stomach clench. He'd been aching all day and, knowing how Jamie was about causing him pain, had even followed his advice and asked Tom Byrd to find him some arnica oil. It had helped quite a bit and he had thought he'd be able to hide the pain, but obviously not.

John reached up and tried to pull Jamie into another kiss, wiggling his bottom down and nudging it against his hand. Jamie did allow the kiss but pulled his hand away with a chuckle and a tsk.
"Jamie," John practically whinged. He blushed quite a bit when he realized he sounded as petulant as Willy and cleared his throat.
"Do ye have something ye want to tell me?" Jamie asked, smiling down at him.
"No."
"John." Jamie reached down again and pressed the tip of his finger past John's rim and tugged on it, eliciting a sharp whinge and John pulled away again.

Jamie sat up and John resisted the urge to be petulant again, sitting up with him instead. "Fine," he snapped. "I'm only a bit sore. Too sore for hands, but I can take you I'm sure. Don't scoff at me. We weren't exactly gentle this morning, you know. You didn't seem to mind so much then."
Jamie's teasing smile fell and he gave John a scolding look. "Aye, I got a bit rough with ye this morning. And I ken ye liked it. But now ye canna stand my touch. Do ye think I'm gonna hold ye down and force my cock in ye?"

John tried to hold back the moan at Jamie's words but he failed terribly. He felt the blush return to his cheeks and waited for Jamie to flee in disgust. He didn't expect to see his eyes glaze over and his jaw to drop and his breathing to speed up and shallow out, taking on that bull-like bearing again as he crawled over John once more and pressed him back onto the blanket.

"Did I say something particularly arousing, My Lord?" His voice was deep and throaty, and John shivered as he grazed his lips over his shoulder. John knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he shouldn't be so aroused by those words. Once upon a time, he and Jamie had stood in this barn and screamed at eachother. Jamie had accused John of being a predator, John had threatened to make Jamie scream, and Jamie had dared him to try. Their darkest secrets had come out in the wake of their riled emotions, that they had both been held down and forced at some point in their pasts. And now they were here, and John wanted nothing more than for Jamie to do what he had threatened him with that awful day.

But Jamie seemed to want it too, judging from the way he was grinding his cock onto John's, smearing them both with sticky fluid. He wasn't repulsed, and that, more than anything, the trust that had finally been built between them, had John arching his back, rising to meet Jamie's thrusts and whimpering into his kiss.

Without answering, he reached for the oil Jamie had nestled in their bundle of clothing and poured a generous amount into his hand. He rubbed it between his palms and reached down to grip Jamie, savoring the small grunt he let out at the contact, and used the other to smear his own cleft and thighs. Jamie eyed him warily as John moved to position his cock at his entrance, but went with him obediently.
"Are ye sure about this, bonnie lad? There are other ways we can pleasure eachother tonight, ye ken."
"Yes, I know. I taught you all of them. And yes, I'm sure. I want you. I need you. Please, just trust me. If it's too much I'll tell you, I swear. Now please, please, take me." He knew he was begging, knew it was pathetic, but he couldn't stop.

He was still holding Jamie's member against his hole and trying to squirm his way onto it. Jamie growled and seized John by the wrists, laying them above his head and holding them there. John moaned again and something flashed in Jamie's eyes. John couldn't tell if it was shock or fear or arousal.
"Christ, ye wee devil, I'll give ye what ye want." He let go of John's wrists and moved his hands to his knees instead, lifting them over his shoulders and practically bending John in half as he pinned him by his wrists again. "But I swear to Christ Almighty, ye best tell me if I do something ye dinna like. Do ye hear me, John?"

John nodded and swallowed thickly, staring up at Jamie in shock at his sudden authoritarian manner. It was...intriguing, to say the least. Frightening, to say the most. And completely, absolutely, sexy. He watched as Jamie's hand came down once more, reached for the oil, and poured a few drops directly down John's cleft, causing him to shiver. Then he was pushing against him, and John was pressing back, and for one agonizing moment, his body resisted. He saw Jamie's brow furrow and the muscles in his shoulders tense. He screwed his eyes shut and tried to relax. Just when he thought either he or Jamie were going to call quits, Jamie leaned up, pressing John's knees tighter against his chest, and used his body weight to press down.

"Oh, God," John managed to grind out before his chest tightened and he felt the head breach him with a pop. He dragged his nails down Jamie's back and tried to focus on breathing through the pain, but his lungs were fighting, and Jamie was whispering in Gaelic, and everything was hazy around the edges. Jamie was pushing further inside him now, pulling back a bit and pressing back in with his weight, taking John inch by inch.

The burning heat was spreading from John's aching rim. Up and up his legs, his thighs, his stomach, his chest. He felt his face flush and his scalp tingled. Finally, Jamie was fully seated and stroking John's hair away from his face as he kept whispering unknown words into his ear.
John clung to Jamie, his eyes still shut tightly against the onslaught of sensation,
and Jamie kissed his temple and whispered "We can stop. I'll stop. I dinna want to hurt ye. Blessed Virgin, ye're so tight. Tell me to stop."

John opened his eyes slowly, blinking away the spots that swam before them, and let out a deep breath, not realizing he'd been holding it since Jamie had fully entered him. He flexed his hips experimentally and swallowed the hiss that followed. It hurt. God it hurt. But it was bearable, and Jamie was shaking above him and this was their last night and he wanted him.

"No," he said, his voice shattered. "Don't stop. Please, God, don't stop."
He finally looked up and met Jamie's eyes, and something in him melted into a puddle. Jamie looked wrecked. He reached up and pulled him into a kiss, running his tongue over his bottom lip then accidentally biting down on it when Jamie rocked against him. Jamie whimpered but didn't break the kiss. His hips were rocking against John in a slow but steady rhythm, barely pulling out but still tugging the sensitive skin back and forth with every thrust.

After several intense seconds of letting Jamie ravish his mouth but still barely moving inside him, John broke the kiss and let his head fall back with an exasperated groan. The position Jamie held him in made it impossible to do more than simply rock against him when he pushed in. He needed more, needed to feel all of Jamie sliding through him.
"I thought you were going to hold me down and have your way?" he said, surprising himself with his bawdiness.

Jamie stilled his movements and looked at John with something akin to a parent finding their child's hand in the cookie jar.
"I've got ye bent in half with my cock about seven inches deep in yer guts and ye still find cause to sass me?" He pulled himself out further than he had and pushed hard. John groaned and snatched a handful of Jamie's hair, pulling it hard and making him cry out in shock.
"Goddammit, John!" He yelped, and reached up to untangle his hand from his curls. He took hold of John's other hand and moved both of them back above his head and held him there. "Now," he panted, "be a good lad. Ye just lay there and be still and be grateful ye're gettin' whatever I give ye. Ken?"

John gasped and for a moment the burning passion that had engulfed him faded and he felt like he was being yanked back to total clarity. John rarely let anyone have his bottom, and he had never asked to be held down while it happened. He had to be in control, he did not submit. Ever. If any other man had held him in this position and told him to be good and lay still and take it, he'd be in a panic, reaching for the blade he always carried. But all he felt now was hunger, want, need. He needed Jamie to claim him.

Jamie still wasn't moving and John knew that although he had sounded commanding, in reality he was waiting for John's consent and submission before giving them both what they wanted.
He locked eyes with his Scottish lover and nodded his head slowly. "Alright. I'll be good," he whispered.

As soon as Jamie started his slow slide in and out of him in earnest, John realized he should have been grateful for the minuscule movements from before. The pain had subsided when he was stilled, but now it was back with a vengeance. The difference was, Jamie's movements before hadn't been enough to hit that tender spot so near his entrance, but now he was dragging across it with every stroke. The combination of the ecstasy from that and the agony of being stretched beyond belief, of the adrenaline still coursing through him from Jamie's taking control and holding him down, bossing him around, and the feeling of complete surrender in its wake had John feeling suddenly exhausted, unfocused. He dropped his head and let one of his legs slip off of Jamie's shoulder.

Jamie gently lowered the other one and let go of John's wrists to run his hands sweetly over John's thighs.
"There ye go, mo ghràdh," he murmured,
pushing a strand of hair out of John's face.
"Just relax, I've got ye." He laid a kiss at John's temple and John whimpered, raising his hips slightly and bumping his leaking cock against Jamie's stomach.
He wanted to ask, to beg, Jamie to touch him, but he couldn't quite form the words. Tried to lift his own hand to tend to himself, but it fell limply at his side.

Instead he let his eyes flutter closed and did as he was told, letting Jamie take care of him in all the ways he knew best. When he opened them again, seconds or minutes later, he couldn't tell anymore, Jamie was sitting up on his knees, eyes locked on the place where their bodies joined, obviously entranced by the sight of his cock sliding smoothly in out of John's body. John knew the appeal of such a sight, was one of his favorite parts of sex with a man. He wanted to ask Jamie if he liked it, but when he opened his mouth all that came out was an embarrassingly squeaky whimper. Jamie's eyes snapped to his nonetheless and he finally seemed to remember that John needed some attention, too.

Without slowing his hips, he took up the little vial of oil once more and slicked his hand, then finally, finally, gripped John's member tightly. John let out a long moan and collapsed into a heap of melted flesh once more. Jamie was whispering all kinds of things, but John couldn't focus on any of it. Something about wanting to mark him. Yes, that must be it. He could feel teeth scraping across his ribs, something hot and wet pulling at the skin on his stomach and throat. He thought maybe it should hurt, but he couldn't feel any of that anymore.

"Talk to me, m ’aingeal milis," Jamie said some time later. "Tell me how ye feel."
John opened his eyes, couldn't remember closing them, and blinked at him. He whimpered and gave a roll of his hips, but was unable to do anything more, and he closed his eyes again.
"John?" Jamie sounded amused, but his hips were slowing. "John?" Alarmed now.
Suddenly, everything came to a stop and Jamie pulled out of him so fast he should have screamed. John felt large, rough hands tapping his face.

"John, open yer eyes. Look at me."
He didn't want it to stop, so he opened his eyes and tried to pull Jamie to him but he wouldn't budge. "Did ye fall asleep?" Jamie asked incredulously.
"No, 'm here," he managed to mumble.
"Christ, tell me ye didnae pass out from the pain." He was still holding John's face in his hands, and now he tilted it back, looking down into his eyes as if he'd see some sign of fainting or concussion there.
"Yer whole body is trembling. Why did ye no' say anything? Ye promised."
John stared up at him dazedly. He could feel what was most likely a very stupid smile plastering his face.
"Not in any pain. Can't feel it anymore. Just...want you."

He could feel himself coming 'round again, and something in him screamed not to let it happen. He didn't know what the devil had come over him, but it reminded him of many nights in his youth, like swallowing half a bottle of laudanum and stumbling into Lavender House to find somewhere to bury his cock. Using the strength he didn't have five minutes ago, he seized Jamie's rear with both hands and pulled him down on top of him. "Have me," he whispered against his shoulder.

"Oh God, John, what are ye doin' to me?" Jamie breathed. John thought he might resist again but his hand slipped between them and a second later John felt the blunt head of Jamie's member pushing into him again. The fog that had been lifting immediately began to settle again and John fell back with a sigh of contentment.
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph. John, are ye drunk on my cock?"

John smiled and nodded lazily and reached down to tug at the prick that lay hard and weeping and angry across his stomach. "Alright, ye wee lech," Jamie said, pulling John into his arms and thrusting into him much harder than he had before,
"listen to me. Ye stay with me now, and I'll give ye whatever ye want, alright?"
John nodded, clinging to Jamie and biting down on his neck to hold back his whinge.
"I canna hear ye, lad."
"Y-yes. Alright."
"What do ye want?"
John whimpered again and buried his face in Jamie's neck. He couldn't figure out what he wanted. Jamie had held him on the edge so gently and for so long that the idea of actually finishing had completely eluded him. But now they both needed it.

He thought again of what an odd situation he had found himself in. He was used to leading the way in everything he did, especially when it came to sex. Now it seemed he had completely ceded control to this giant, red headed Scottish prisoner of his. The inmates have taken the asylum, he thought hysterically.
God, he had to get a grip.

Jamie seemed to sense that John still wasn't coherent enough to tell him what he wanted and asked "Do ye want me to hold ye down again?" His rough voice brought John back to his senses.
"Yes. Fuck. Hold me down and...and tell me what a good lad I am." He felt a blush color his cheeks but couldn't find it in him to care when Jamie was grinning at him like that and placing his legs over his shoulders and pinning his wrists above his head again.

"Ye are a good lad, John," he husked at him. He drew his hips back slowly, dragging the head across John's sweet spot, and slammed back home in one stroke. "So sweet when ye fall apart for me like this." He pushed in deep and circled his hips, stretching John's rim around the base and dragging out a low moan. "Ye see how good I can make ye feel when ye shut yer mouth and let me?" Three hard thrusts this time. "Ye weren't tryin' to frighten me earlier were ye? Ye were just doin' as ye were told for the first time in yer life? Layin' still and takin' what I gave you?"
John nodded silently as Jamie rocked against his hole again.

"Tell me," Jamie whispered. "Tell me how I'm the only one who gets to do this to ye."
He started to pick up a rhythm at last, pulling out slowly and pushing hard back in, but quickening by the second.
John licked his lips and managed to stutter out "Y-You're the only one. The only one who...gets to have me like this. God, Jamie, please touch me."
"Not yet, m ’aingeal milis. I'll let ye finish soon. Tell me this is mine." John gasped as Jamie suddenly grabbed a whole cheek in his hand and squeezed it hard, giving it a little smack when he let go. "Ye can share yer cock with whoever ye wish. It is a bonnie thing, and it should be appreciated properly. But tell me this arse belongs to me."

John swallowed thickly. He knew this wasn't something to discuss while they were both on the brink of orgasm, knew there would be repercussions later.
Still, he'd longed to hear Jamie say something like that for nearly a decade, and it was easier to agree to than it should have been.
"If you want it, it's yours."

Jamie let out a sound somewhere between a moan and a whimper and he started to pound into John. John bit his lip to keep from crying out, the pain making a sharp return, but not enough to make him stop. He needed to spill his seed more than he needed to breathe.
"My arse is yours, too, John."
What?
"What? What did you...ah...say?!"
"I'll show you. Soon."
Three more brutal thrusts and Jamie was pulling John by his hips into his lap and a feral growl ripped from him. He rocked his way through his orgasm, holding a still confused John against him the whole time, then pulled out sharply, dragging his fluid with him and letting it dribble down John's cleft.

Jamie let go of John and he landed in a crumpled heap on the blanket, his own erection momentarily forgotten as his bottom clenched around the absence. But then...then Jamie lay down on his stomach in front of him and peeked out from behind his curls with a coy smile.
"I want ye to mark what's yours."
John's mouth hung open for a second before he was able to croak out another
"What?"
"I wish I could give ye what ye deserve. But even if I never can, it's yours. I want ye to finish on me."

It really shouldn't have been as easy as it was to say "I'll take that offer."
John moved over to straddle Jamie's hips and took himself in hand, aiming for the sweetest dimples he had ever seen.
"Can I see it?" he whispered, afraid he'd embarrass the man and send him running.
A flush did creep across his shoulders but still he said "Aye. Ye can do what ye like."
John knew he meant he could do what he liked within reason, but that was so much more than he'd ever dreamed to ask for.
He very gently used his thumb to pull one cheek aside and get one more peek at that sweet, tight, pink little hole, and that's all it took.

John and Jamie gasped at the same time as thick, creamy ropes of semen shot across Jamie's bottom. John struggled to catch his breath as he gave the head a few shakes, letting the last few drops land directly on Jamie's puckered skin. He rolled off with a sigh and let the shakes take him.

Jamie crawled off the blanket and for a moment, John felt an unbearable sadness at the loss. He returned in seconds, though, bearing another blanket, which he wrapped John in. He lay down next to him again and took him in his arms and neither spoke for a very long time.

"So..." Jamie said after a while. He cleared his throat and tried again. "So...do ye ken what happened to ye tonight? Has that ever happened before?"
"No," John whispered. The shaking had subsided and he was exhausted now.
"No, that...that's never happened before."
Jamie hummed and pulled John tighter to him. "And...ye're alright? I didnae make ye do anything ye didna like?"
"No. God, no. I found every second very agreeable, trust me. I think it's safe to say that was the best sex of my life."
John could practically feel Jamie'schest swell with pride and he made little contented grunts that reverberated through John's spine. He took John's chin in his fingers and pulled him in for a tender kiss, grinning against his mouth.
"Go to sleep, mo ghràdh," he said, pulling away and tucking the blanket tighter around his lover. "I'll wake ye before the sun rises."

‐--------------------------------------------------------------------

Jamie stood by the barn window and watched with dread as the sky began to pinken. It was time to wake John, time to say goodbye. He lowered his head and let the tears that had been threatening to fall throughout the entire last day flow at last.
"Sassenach," he muttered, "help me with this."

He turned with a start when he felt a hand on his shoulder. John was standing behind him, wrapped in a blanket, hair all over the place, his blue eyes as wide as saucers.
He looked like a sleepy wean and Jamie gave him a misty smile.

"Jamie? Are you alright? he asked.
Jamie cleared his throat and pulled John to him. "Fine, m ’aingeal milis. Ye dinna ken this about me...never had reason to...I'm a bit of a weeper. Pay me no mind."
It was true, Jamie wept like a woman with goodbyes. He had once cried for an hour as a teenager when he'd had to leave Castle Leoch and a girl he had known for a week. And of course that was nothing to the tears he'd shed for Claire.

John gave him a skeptical look and Jamie noticed he seemed to be a bit distraught himself as he turned and began retrieving his articles of clothing. Jamie leaned back against the wall and watched him dress, admiring one more time the lithe lines of his body and the perfect swell of his bottom, along with the marks scattered across his porcelain skin. His marks.

"I can't find my neck cloth," John muttered, kicking the hay about a bit. "You don't happen to know where you tossed it?"
Jamie smirked and pushed himself away from the wall, walking over and pretending to help him look for it. After a few seconds of fruitless searching, he wandered over to the corner behind a few bales of hay.
"It won't be over there, you chucked it over your shoulder last night," John told him.

"Ye're right," Jamie called back. "But there is something over here. Maybe ye ought to come and take a look." John appeared around the hay stack looking confused, but his eyes widened when he saw what Jamie was holding."What the devil is that?"
"No devil," Jamie told him, handing him the wriggling bundle. "One of the bitches welped two of these a few days before I left. I asked Lord Dunsany yesterday, he agreed ye should have one. I slipped out while ye were sleeping to retrieve him for ye."

Jamie's heart nearly melted at the look on John's face as he took the tiny dachshund puppy from his hands and allowed it to greedily lap at his face and nibble on his chin. "What is it, though?" he giggled.
"It's a dachshund. A badger hunter. I thought he would suit ye. They're wee but feisty. Just like his master."
"I'm not wee," John muttered, burying his face in the soft folds of skin on the puppy's neck, and Jamie let out a loud laugh, pulling them both to his chest.

 

"He's precious," John said, still caressing the pup with his chin. "Thank you"
"He'll keep ye company. Wherever ye go from here." He pulled John away and looked down at him. "And do ye ken where that might be?" Jamie knew John was expected at Argus House, but he had sensed something off about him when he'd said goodbye to his family and suspected that may not be the case.

"Caught, am I?" he asked with a grin.
"Aye. Ye canna hide anything from me anymore. I've had my tongue inside ye."
John blushed and his eyes widened.
"Jamie...Jesus, nearly in the light of day! I'm going to my cousin's, I think. I need some time away from Hal's doting and...and other...things. My cousin and her child are pretty good at cheering me."
"Then that's where ye should be. But John, I beg ye to remember ye still have a head injury. Ye ken ye are no' supposed to travel. Go to yer cousin's and stay there a while, aye?"

John sighed, but allowed Jamie one more moment to worry over him. "I promise. And what about you? I feel a bit guilty, running off to my family for solace. Who will keep you company?"
"I have William," Jamie told him with a small smile. "And this wee one's brother. He's moving into the stable with me tonight. I'll be training him. I'll think of you."

He looked over John's shoulder and saw that the sky was becoming bright.
"John, it's time," he told him, and John frowned when he saw that he was right.
They walked slowly to the barn door and Jamie peeked outside to make sure no one was about yet, and when he turned back to John, he saw that he had straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin.

He should be surprised, that he were the one teary eyed while John was settling himself into a lordly manner, but he knew them both better than that by now. John didn't cry in front of anyone.
Still, there was a sadness about him as Jamie took him in his arms.
"I'll see ye in a couple o' months?" he said hopefully.
"It will be harder to find excuses to come now that you're no longer my ward," John told him, and Jamie tensed. "But you know I'll find some. I'll be back before you have time to miss me."
"That is no' possible." Jamie pulled back and lifted John's chin with his finger.
"I miss ye already." He pressed a kiss to John's mouth, groaning when John stood on his toes and wrapped a hand around his neck, pulling him in and delving his tongue past his teeth. They stayed locked like that far longer than they should have, and when Jamie finally broke free with a heavy sigh, the sun was making a proper appearance.

John left without another word, cradling his puppy tightly and whispering into its neck as he walked quickly towards the path that would lead to the house. He turned back once before he stepped out of sight and gave a small wave, then he lifted the puppy's paw and waved that at him, too, eliciting a small chuckle from Jamie.

When he was gone, Jamie reached into his pocket and pulled out the neck cloth he had hidden there while John slept and pressed it to his nose.