The Fraser clan were back on Scottish soil. “I’m not traveling by boat for a long while.” Brian was still looking a little green around the gills despite being back for almost a week now.
“I’ll agree wi ye there, lad. Nae mare boats fer a long time now.” Jamie had been picking at his breakfast for about an hour now.
Claire sighed in exasperation, “Can you both get out from under my feet please? I’ll have to dry and grind herbs and I’d rather not have you two puking in them as you merely think about a sea voyage. Go on, shoo.” She waved her hands in their faces and made them get up and move out of the living room.
“I can’t face the stables today.” Brian complained to his father. “Isn’t John staying longer?” Jamie nodded at him.
“Aye, he extended his stay…” He smiled at Brian and looked at him, “Why don’t ye accompany him on a ride today?”
Brian frowned slightly, “What are you up to? You’ve never encouraged me to get to know John before.”
“Twice ye’ve called him ‘John’ now, before Paris ye’d always called him ‘Lord John’ so I’m thinking ye’ve changed how ye feel about him.” Jamie’s brow furrowed “I think ye may need to spend time wi him tae find out how ye’ve changed how you feel about him.”
Brian made a thoughtful face and then looked up to see Lord John William Grey, looking ready for a day of riding, and his heart skipped a beat. “You knew he wanted to go riding today, didn’t you?”
“Actually, I suggested it to him…”Jamie didn’t get any further in his explanation as John got to the bottom of the stairs and smiled at Brian.
“Are you ready, Brian?” Brian’s brow furrowed as John asked that of him, “Your father said you wanted to go riding today? Is that not the case?” Now John’s brow had furrowed.
Brian turned to look at his father, “No, it is the case. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting it to be in the morning. But if you’ll indulge me to get ready we can leave in around 30 minutes.” Brian smiled as John nodded and he ran upstairs to put on his riding clothes.
“I actually didnae tell the lad he should go riding wi ye until just there...he didna mean to go riding wi ye today.” John frowned.
“Then why did he say he did? I mean I don’t want to take him away from anything important…” He was cut off when Jamie put up his hand.
“He canna stomach a day in the stables today. So I suggested he goes riding wi ye…” Jamie sighed. “I dinna ken if I should tell ye this or he wants to but…” He hesitated like he was debating with himself. “He’s no too sure if he likes ye that way because of Roger but...I ken the way he’s feeling about ye is changing.”
John nods, “Do you believe I should tell him about Isobel? I mean I only just married her after you left Hellwater and...he deserves to know.” Jamie looked thoughtful.
“No’ until yer both sure…” Now it was Jamie’s turn to be interrupted.
“I’m sure how I feel. You used to dominate my every thought, waking and sleeping, and at first I thought it was just because he looked like you that my heart skipped a beat and I got nervous when he was around but lately you haven’t been anywhere near my thoughts. It’s all been Brian…” Jamie winced a little.
“I dinna want tae ken how ye felt...I want him to ken.” He licked his lips. “Ye need to confess yer feelings, and let him confess his own feelings. Then ye can deal wi other people in yer lives.” John nods knowing he’s right.
Brian descends the stairs in his riding clothes given to him as a Hogmanay gift by his father and John can hardly stop the loving look on his face. He hears Brian say something as if hearing it from under the water at the mill. “I’m sorry? Can you repeat that?” Brian chuckled.
“I said ‘are you ready to go?’” He smiled at him, “clearly you’re dressed to go, are you ready?” John merely nods, not trusting himself to speak. “Then lets go.”
“I’ll come wi ye’s. Tae get yer horses prepared.”
“I don’t have a horse, dad, you know that.”
“Ye have one now. I’ll lend ye mine while ye go riding.”
While in the thick of the surrounding forest John had started asking about Roger. “I met him at Frank’s funeral, his father was Frank’s friend and he came to Boston for the funeral, we kissed at the wake...in secret I mean. After that I truly couldn’t get him out of my head and…”he looked down and smiled at the memory. “Gave him my virginity. He was so gentle.”
John sighed dejectedly. “I’m sorry Brian. It’s just, um, I’m jealous.” Brian stopped the horse and motioned for him to get down, they’ll talk on the ground. “I’m jealous of Roger...he got your virginity and I...I want you. But I can never have you…” Brian opened his mouth to question his saying that. “It’s not because of Roger...it’s because of my wife.” John wouldn’t look at him. “Don’t you see? You deserve someone like Roger, who will have you and no one else…” “Do you know how I felt about you? How my heart skipped a beat? How I felt guilty about Roger everytime I dreamed about you? How I dreamed of all three of us? And a child, which is impossible as it is…” John cut off Brian’s rambling with a kiss. Brian kissed back for a little and then threw him off, “Have you even been listening?”
“You told me you dreamed about me...I just want to feel you under me…”
“I want that too. But I won’t be the other man! Frank cheated on my mom and I saw how she felt! I won’t do that to your wife...I won’t do that to Roger! It’s not worth it…” he was cut off by John pulling him close.
“If you don’t want to, we won’t. But I’m so glad you told me how you feel…” Brian looked up into John’s eyes and then leaned forward and met his lips. He pulled back as fast as he could
“I’m sorry if I’m sending you mixed signals but I...I need to go back to Lallybroch…” John nodded and helped him up on his father’s horse and they rode back in silence.
Jamie greeted them at the stables, “Lad, ye better get on up to the house. Ye’ve a visitor.” He arranged the horses in their proper stalls and walked Brian up to the house.
“Dad...I have a confession…” Jamie stopped and waited on his son talking. “I, uh, kissed John…” Jamie merely made a Scottish noise and then began walking again. “Did you hear what I said?”
“Aye, I heard ye. But I think ye should see yer visitor before ye make any declarations of feelings…”
Brian frowned and went inside the house. He stopped in his tracks when he saw who was at the table, “Roger!” Brian ran at him and threw himself into Roger’s outstretched arms, “What are you doing here? I thought you didn’t want to come here?”
“I’ve come to take ye home.” He grinned and Brian kissed him gently, John looked away. “We have made great strides in getting rights back home. Wi any luck in 3 or 4 years we wilnae need tae hide and…” He stopped as Brian took his hands and encountered the gold wedding band on his left finger. Brian looked at him, the hurt written all over his face.
“Why are you wearing a wedding band? You...you’re gay.” Brian threw Roger’s hands down and tried not to cry. “Please...don’t say…”
“I had tae take on a wife…” Brian couldn’t stop the tears now. “My father found our letters to each other...he was furious. I didnae want tae marry but he threatened to report me unless I married…” John looked at him, John was furious.
“If you have to tell me that at least me it wasn’t…” Brian looked at Roger who looked down. “Jesus Christ on a bike, Roger! Fiona?! Anyone but her...anyone!” Brian ran upstairs, Roger made to follow but was stopped with Jamie’s hand to his chest.
“Gi’ him time, lad...he left you in Inverness and then all o’ a sudden ye turn up and yer merrit? He’ll find ye when ye wants ye.” And then Roger sat down.
As soon as Jamie and Claire left the room John crossed the room and grabbed Roger by his collar, “Brian doesn’t deserve this! You’ve broken his heart, do you know that? He gave you his virginity and this is how you repay him?”
“What’s it tae do wi you? I was forced…” Roger shakes off John, “And the way you talk about suggests you love him as much as I do…” Roger’s hands sit on his hips, “tell me I’m wrong. I dare ye!”
“Of course you’re not wrong. I’d have him in a heartbeat if he’d have me.”
“Ah! And yer single? A batchelor?” Roger was testing him now, John’s eyes narrowed.
“I didn’t take his virginity! And no I’m not!”
Roger nodded, tears forming in his eyes, “Boyfriend?”
“Wife…” He’s got John there and they both know it.
“Ah! I see...and how is your situation any different?”
“I was married when I met him…” Roger blinked back the tears, “and I didn’t take his virginity...that’s the worst about you’ve done…”
“I just think yer pissed off that I have his love and you, well, you have nothing.”
John looked at him, and by god he was going to feel this from Brian, “I kissed him and then he kissed me…”
“Yer lying!” John smirked, “yer lying ya filthy English bastard.” Roger was about to hit John when Jamie came back in. Roger instead raked a hand through his hair.
“Claire is talking tae Brian fer ye now, lad.” Roger let out a breathy laugh.
“Tell her thanks, but no’ tae bother...clearly I’m no longer welcome at this house by him.” Roger gathered his things, “I’ll no stay where I’m not wanted.”
“Lad…” But before he could ask Roger to stay and see Brian, he was gone.
“What have you done, John?”