Actions

Work Header

An Appeal to Emotion from Lieutenant McGraw to Lord Hamilton

Work Text:

“Aristotle then identifies three artistic modes of persuasion, one of which is awakening emotion in the audience so as to induce them to make the judgment desired. Such emotions have specific causes and effects. This appeal to emotion is known as pathos.”

Thomas paused and glanced over the top of the book to look at James, eyebrows raised in expectation, a small smile playing across his lips.

They sat across from one another in the drawing room of the Hamilton household. The warmth from the fire place was just beside them, putting off an orange glow in the dimly lit room. James sat back comfortably in the chair with his officer’s coat draped behind him. He spun the tip of his sword sheath over the plush rug as he listened to Thomas. When Thomas paused and smiled at him he looked away in an attempt to hide his own grin.

“I know the meaning of pathos, Thomas,” he said at last. “It is something each of us utilizes every day, whether we are conscious of it or not.”

Thomas raised a finger. James closed his mouth with a sigh and waited while Thomas picked up his line.

“…’to understand the emotions—that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited’ is another explanation. Pathos, he states, is in opposition to logos, since pathos is fundamentally construed as emotive and logos is construed as unemotive.”

Thomas placed the book in his lap, leaning forward and still possessing the smirk on his lips that James was finding to be most irritating and enticing at the same time.

“It describes us perfectly, does it not?” he asked.

“Methods of persuasion do not describe people, Thomas.”

“I believe they do…”

“No, wait,” said James, cutting him off. He rested his sheath against the chair and sat up straight.

“I already know what you are going to say.”

“Do you?”

“Yes. You are going to suggest that you are the pathos part of the equation and I am logos.”

“You disagree?”

“You are saying that I am cold and without feeling.”

“No, I am saying that it is possible to construe your character that way.”

“Tuh! Now you are attempting to insult my intelligence.”

“I am not. Do you deny that, between the two of us, you are generally the one who is reserved, logical and follows the rules of propriety without question?”

“I agree that I am more reserved and logical, but I do not, sir, follow the rules of propriety…without question, that is.”

Thomas leaned back and let out a contented sigh. The orange glow from the fireplace softened his cheeks but made his eyes seem to dance with excitement.

“You are right,” he conceded. “You do follow the rules, though not without question.”

“It is logical to question them, is it not?” asked James. “After all, one must always be aware that, at some point, the line between God’s law and man’s law must be drawn.”

“And who made such a presumptuous statement?”

James rose and stood in front of the fireplace. He took his time, puffing out his chest and mirroring Thomas's smirk.

“You did.”

“Ah. Well then, I have been called presumptuous before.”

James stared into the flames, watching as chunks of the log burned bright red-orange before turning ashen white and dissolving into smoke.

“And what of pathos and logos?” James asked. “I believe you were prepared to make some sort of deeper connection between the two.”

“I was. I was going to agree with Aristotle when he said that the two elements are inextricably intertwined with one another, because more often than not, one requires the other in order to be complete.”

James turned towards him with mock disapproval.

“I hate it when you become overly romantic.”

Thomas laughed out right and joined him by the fire. He tossed the book in his chair. They stood a foot or so apart, both their features now molded into sharp and soft contrasts by the fire’s glow.

“Does Aristotle say anything about these two elements balancing each other?” James asked.

“How do you mean?”

“I mean, does not one element require the other’s influence in order for it to function properly on its own?”

Thomas's eyes either narrowed or squinted from the fire light, James knew not which. He licked his lips thoughtfully.

“I had not considered it before,” he replied at length.

James felt the tips of Thomas's fingers on his own where they rested on the mantelpiece. He glanced over at them, watching as Thomas intertwined their hands. Thomas's gaze remained steadfast on him.

“Explain your meaning further,” he said in a silky tone.

Now James grew uneasy. His lips parted and he drew back, breaking his hand away from Thomas's and turning away from the fire. He idled over to his chair and picked up his sword sheath, twisting its tip again.

“I do not know. I was only thinking out loud.”

“You do know. Tell me.”

“I suppose I mean to say that what if logos, or people who are possessed of it, must not remain so? If they were to change their character too drastically, would they not then lose some essential part of themselves and throw off the balance, as it were?”

When Thomas did not reply right away James slowly turned around, eyes searching the other man’s. Thomas remained in front of the fire. His arm still rested over the mantelpiece, unmoved. He seemed to be deliberating his response.

“Well?” asked James, not without a touch of impatience.

“If a man were to lose an essential part of himself, I do not know that I would call it a bad thing. Could it not, instead, be something cast off for something better?”

“Such as what? An unhealthy amount of emotion? The laws of man do not allow for such.”

“But they do allow for too much logic?”

Now James faced him with earnest.

“Yes! You know it to be true. No matter what a man’s social status is, rich or poor, as long as they go through life following the rules society has set for them then society smiles at them, no matter their struggle. If a man disregards even the smallest rule, he is looked down upon or shunned, his life made even harder than it already is.”

He finished the last sentence too passionately for his own good. He let out a huff and shook his head.

“Never mind it all,” he said.

“James.”

James stilled. Thomas had a way in which he uttered the single syllable of his name that caused his mind to take pause and his body to stop as though given a command. He felt goosebumps cover his arms. He turned back to Thomas. Thomas came to him, taking his hand in his own. His blue eyes, now away from the illusory light of the fire, shined like two sapphires, their brilliance dimmed only by the concern James had placed in them.

“What are you afraid of?” he asked gently.

James had to look slightly up at him; Thomas was always the taller of the two of them, with heels or without. James chewed over his thoughts, frustrated that he did not have Thomas's gift with words.

“So many answers I could give you,” he breathed out, confidence faltering in light of his sudden uncertainty.

Thomas raised his hand to trace the line of James's jaw, his chin.

“I have fears as well, but try to be specific,” he said with a wry grin.

It did little to assuage James's uncertainty. He took hold of the hand at his face and held it against his breast.

“I’m afraid that this—us—will leave me too changed a man, that it will cause a rift in my life, one that cannot be mended. I am a sailor, Thomas, and I dearly want to keep my station, to serve under Admiral Hennessy. I do not want the discovery of what I am—”

“Shh. Stop.”

Thomas removed his hand from James's breast and grasped the side of his face instead, fixing him with a steady gaze.

“If you do not wish to continue this then I will not coerce you…”

“No,” said James, shaking his head. “You mistake my meaning. Don’t you see, Thomas? It’s what I’m trying to tell you. I *do* want you. I want this, all this. But it is much more than that now. You speak of an appeal to emotion, but I am past appeals; I *need* you, and I don’t know how to control myself half the time.”

“Oh James.”

Thomas leaned forward and rested his forehead against the other man’s. James closed his eyes. His heart raced, his pulse thudded in his ears.

“Thomas, I want to tell you…I…”

Thomas kissed him lightly on the lips, once, twice.

“Yes?”

James sealed his lips shut and turned away, pain flashing in his eyes.

“I cannot.”

Thomas did not relent. He grabbed James's face again and forced it to him.

“Speak it, for God’s sake. I want you to say it.”

James tried to avoid his direct gaze, eyes brimming from what he told himself must be the heat from the fire. He clutched at Thomas's shoulder and pushed himself away just enough so that he felt like he could breathe again.

“Bloody hell,” he muttered.

“Say it, I beg of you.”

James pressed his lips together, daring to look into Thomas's face. The sapphire eyes danced madly before him. His pale cheeks were flushed. James leaned in and kissed him hard, tongue forcing its way between Thomas's lips. Damn his weakness. So much time spent together, so many words exchanged and still he could not bring himself to speak it out loud, even though Thomas deserved to hear it.

Thomas kissed him back. Their hands grappled over one another’s face and arms and neck. Thomas broke away and led him over to the white divan across from the fireplace. He sat James down on it and straddled him, pressing his lower half into James's crotch. James groaned. His cock awakened with ferocity. Thomas planted kisses over his mouth and jaw, trailing down his neck. His hands worked open the front of James's shirt, where he rubbed his hands greedily over his broad chest. Then he pulled away and merely sat in James's lap. He closed his eyes and seemed to still himself.

“What are you doing?” James asked breathlessly. He grabbed Thomas's sides and pulled him forward but Thomas planted a firm hand against James's chest.

“Tell me how you feel.”

“Thomas, please…”

“I’m serious.”

The sapphire eyes looked at him coolly, though his cheeks remained flushed and his half-hard erection pressed up against his breeches. Making a noise of discontent James threw his head back on the divan and stared up at the ceiling.

“You know how I feel. I spoke of it only a moment ago.”

He lifted his head. “I need you.”

“That does not satisfy the question.”

“Damnit, Thomas.”

He was ready to push Thomas off him altogether, to get up and start pacing furiously, but Thomas pressed his shoulders against the divan as if reading his thoughts.

“I love you,” he said, as easily as though he were speaking about the weather.

James's chest rose and feel rapidly, heart pounding. Still he did not speak.

“Tell me how you feel Lieutenant McGraw, or God help me, I will walk away from you this very moment.”

And when Thomas made to swing his leg away from him James's hand shot out and grabbed his hip. Thomas froze. They remained so poised for a long moment. James felt the blood in his cheeks, coursing through him like a living thing as he looked Thomas up and down.

“I love you,” he said. “I love you so fucking much, it is what I’m afraid of.”

Thomas relaxed himself over James's lap and kissed him. James heard him sigh into his mouth. They continued their dance on the sofa, until James was bursting to be free of his trousers and to free Thomas of his own.

Thomas pushed himself out of James's lap and stripped off his shoes and breeches. James fumbled with his fly and opened it. He looked up at Thomas standing before him, erection jutting out from under his white linen shirt, thick and fleshy-red. James beckoned to him. Thomas bracketed his legs on either side of James's while James took hold of his own cock and stroked it. Thomas watched him and moaned. He removed a small vial of oil from his discarded pants and handed it to James. James uncorked it with his teeth and poured its contents over his fingers, eyes never leaving Thomas's face.

Thomas watched him through heavy lids, eyes black with want, lips slightly parted as he pulled on his cock in anticipation. James watched him for a moment, writhing over his lap, cock as enticingly close to his own erection as it was to his mouth. Thomas pulled at his head over and over. James sucked in air through his teeth. He reached behind Thomas and felt his ass cheek, squeezing it. Thomas bucked up towards him in response, muscles of his rump contracting deliciously in James's hand. He raised his other hand to the other cheek and pulled them apart, fingers dancing oh so close to touch Thomas's velvety cleft.

“Ah, God,” Thomas said in a whisper. His hand tightened around James's shoulder. James eased a finger inside him, then another. He felt the muscles contract around him, felt Thomas around him and he moaned. Thomas bucked towards him again, gently this time as James worked his fingers in up to his knuckles and wiggled them.

Thomas gasped, breath coming out in small pants. He grabbed both his and James's cock in his hand and jerked on them together. James watched as precum dribbled from their tips. It was almost enough to send him over the edge already. He forced his fingers in as far as they would go inside Thomas and wiggled them as fast as he could. Thomas struggled not to cry out, eyes rolling around in his head.

“Fuck,” he said, losing his control over their cocks. That caused James to grin shamelessly up at him through his own growing stupor of desire.

James withdrew his fingers.

“Come here,” he urged, using his hands on Thomas's ass to help push him back into James's lap and to hover over his cock. Without further ado they adjusted themselves accordingly and then Thomas impaled himself, sliding down over James's slick shaft and letting out a heady sigh as he did so.

James's breath stuttered.

“Thomas,” he said in a raw voice. He grabbed Thomas's hips and helped him to adjust. Within moments Thomas began riding him, moving his body up and down over James's thick cock with delight. He raised his arms to grip the back edge of the divan, on either side of James's face. James let his own hands roam around Thomas's ass and waist, rubbing the oil still there over his stomach, the coming up to touch his nipples with his thumbs. Thomas moaned at the touch, keeping a steady pace over his cock all the while.

James leaned his head back for a moment and sighed, closing his eyes and reveling in the feel and touch of Thomas. Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. Nothing but. He had spoken truthfully. He did not merely want this, he needed it. Thomas made him feel as no other ever had, and as far as he was concerned, no other ever would.

James found himself thrusting up from the divan to meet Thomas. They worked into a new rhythm; James pushed up when Thomas pushed down, and the result was pure ecstasy. Thomas took hold of James's queue and pulled it out of his hair, sending a mass of long reddish hair down over his shoulder.

“God, you’re beautiful,” breathed Thomas, gazing down at him with his lidded eyes. James sat upright and pulled Thomas to him, kissing him and holding his lips against his own while he fucked him. Hot puffs of air escaped Thomas's lips and into James's mouth. Thomas grabbed his hair and racked his fingers through it.

“James,” he begged.

James shifted in the divan, carefully shifting Thomas with him and increased their pace, hands coming to clutch at Thomas's hips again. Thomas pulled himself over James's cock with a new intensity, causing both of them to stutter. James watched as Thomas's lithe white body writhed like a sheet of silk over his lap and cock, sweat coating the contours of his muscles. It was almost too much. With a grunt James gripped his sides harder and pulled. Thomas fucked him hard and fast, coming up far enough that he almost left James's cock but not quite, his cleft riding over James's head with such force James let out a high-pitched cry. He felt the explosion building in his groin and chest.

Thomas kept up the pace, forcing himself over his cock with dedicated passion. Finally he gave up all pretenses of composure and allowed his body to set the pace, pushing himself down over James's cock and to his scrotum. James bit his tongue, trying to delay the moment, but still it rolled over him with unstoppable momentum and he spilled his seed into Thomas, bucking up inside him as hard as he could.

Thomas let out a long, low moan. He grabbed his cock and stroked it fast, spilling out over James's chest in a matter of seconds. James watched through a haze of heat as Thomas's cum shot out over his heaving chest. When he was done Thomas dismounted him and collapsed on the divan beside him.

Once they had nearly caught their breaths Thomas leaned over, tongue flicking out to catch some of the cum. He then kissed James, letting him taste it. James gave out a softer, contented moan in return.

“Do not move,” he said, rising off the divan and crossing the room to a dresser in the corner. He pulled open a drawer and plucked out a piece of cloth, returning to the divan. He cleaned himself off first, then handed it to Thomas. When he was done James took it from him and threw it in the fireplace. Thomas had stretched out on the divan, still naked. He motioned for James to join him.

The divan was both long and wide enough for the two of them. James slid up over Thomas until he rested comfortably with his head falling beside Thomas’s, their legs entangled.

“So, have I successfully made an appeal to your emotions?” James asked, lips hovering next to Thomas's cheek. He felt Thomas laugh through his nose.

“Well, your delivery was somewhat delayed. However, given the intensity with which you recovered, I would say yes, you have successfully appealed to my emotions.”

“Thomas?”

“Mmm?”

James opened his mouth, fully motivated to continue their discussion of Aristotle’s rhetoric, but something in him stilled. So instead, quite contentedly, he sighed and relaxed against Thomas's outstretched body.

“Nothing. I’d rather simply enjoy the silence,” he said. He felt Thomas sigh against him and for the first time, neither had anything to say.

End.