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Every Impossible Move

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Jamie Fraser stood outside the stables, surveying the scenery before him. He'd been indentured as a Groom at Helwater, a sprawling estate in the English Lake District owned by the Dunsaney family, for the past eight years. His friend, John Grey, walked out of the stables and stood next to him. John had been Governor of Ardsmuir prison during the time that Jamie had been imprisoned there as a traitor to the Crown. When the prison closed, John had arranged for Jamie to be moved to Helwater in lieu of being sent to the Colonies. Jamie would forever be in his debt for that, and on the eve of his departure, he was about to ask Grey for his service once more.

“Will ye walk wi' me?” he asked John. Not pausing for an answer, he set off past the stable, turning down the lane that led from the paddock to the lower pasture. It was nearly a quarter mile before he came to a halt in a sunny clearing by a clump of willows, near the edge of the mere. He needed absolute privacy for the discussion he was about to have.

Early in his tenure at Helwater, Geneva, Lord Dunsaney's eldest daughter, blackmailed him into taking her maidenhead not long before she was married off to Ludovic Ransom, Eighth Earl of Ellesmere. Nine months later, Jamie's son William was born the same day his mother and putative father had perished.

Though he could never claim Willie as his own, he was grateful he'd been able to be with him the first six years of his life. He'd grown into a braw laddie who loved horses above all else. Because of this, Jamie had been lucky enough to have Willie as his shadow in the stables for the majority of his life.

But, as John had said to him moments ago, "some horses stamp their get." As Willie grew and matured, he was losing the roundness of his baby face, giving way to sharp angles that echoed Jamie’s. They had the same eyes, posture, and mannerisms. The only blessing was that Willie had inherited his mother's chestnut hair as opposed to the fiery red of his father; had he been born a redhead, Jamie would have likely been killed on the spot.

For his son's own good, Jamie was leaving. The Ninth Earl of Ellesmere need never know the truth of his parentage. Jamie, a convicted traitor, would be nothing but an embarrassing stain for the boy. So for the second time in his life, Jamie was faced with the unimaginable pain of leaving his child in the care of another man. At least this time, it would be a man he knew and trusted.

As soon as they reached their destination, Jamie turned to face Grey and said, “I wish tae ask a favor o' ye.”

“Yes,” Grey said promptly.

The corner of Jamie’s mouth twitched. “Ye dinna wish tae ken what it is first?”

“I should imagine that I know; you wish me to look out for Willie; perhaps to send you word of his welfare.”

Jamie nodded. “Aye, that’s it.” He glanced up the slope, to where the house lay half-hidden in its nest of fiery maples. “It’s an imposition, maybe, tae ask ye tae come all the way from London tae see him now and then.”

“Not at all,” Grey interrupted. “I came this afternoon to give you some news of my own; I am to be married.”

“Married?” Jamie asked incredulously “To a woman?” Though they did not often speak of it, Jamie knew that John preferred the company of men.

His mind reeled back to that night at Ardsmuir all those years ago. Despite their obvious imbalance of power, the two men had formed a fast friendship.

One night, far into the drink, Jamie had spoken to John of his lost love, Claire. He'd barely said her name out loud for ten years, and the relief of finally doing so brought a surprising peace over him. John shared in his grief, telling Jamie of Hector, the love he'd also lost at Culloden. Caught up in their connection, John reached his hand over and placed it on top of Jamie’s.

The gesture provoked memories of his rape at the hands of Jack Randall. After that horrible ordeal, he'd promised he'd never allow himself to be in that position again. “Take your hand off me,” he said, very, very softly. “Or I will kill you.”

The look on John's face as he'd slowly withdrawn his hand made Jamie instantly regret his reaction. He'd known John well enough by then to know he would never subject Jamie to such horrors; it was unfair to lump him into the same category as the depraved monster who'd hurt him so long before.

“I think there are not many alternatives,” Grey replied to Jamie’s question dryly. “But yes, since you ask, to a woman. To the Lady Isobel.”

“Christ, man! Ye canna do that!” Jamie exclaimed. The very thought of John marrying filled him with an odd sense of dread.

“I can,” Grey assured him. “I made a trial of my capacity in London; be assured that I shall make her an adequate husband. You needn’t necessarily enjoy the act in order to perform it.”

Jamie felt himself twitch involuntarily. He opened his mouth, then closed it again and shook his head, thinking better of what he had been about to say.

"Our families have known each other for decades," John went on. "It is an entirely suitable match.”

“Is it, then?” Jamie asked sarcastically. He didn't know why he was reacting so strongly to John's news. He wouldn't be the first man to marry a woman and keep to the company of other men on the side, and Lord knows John would treat Isobel with more respect than most women could only dream of. He had no reason or explanation for the sick feeling in his stomach at the thought of John marrying.

Grey turned to him, fair skin flushing as he answered sharply. “It is. There is more to a marriage than carnal love. A great deal more.”

Jamie turned his back on him then, striding to the edge of the mere. He stood there for some time, taking slow deep breaths, trying to stop the waves of heartsickness that threatened to wash over him. Of course he knew there was more to marriage than bedding your wife. Had he not learned that many years ago?

After Jack Randall had tortured him so effectively that he couldn't even touch his wife without the memories of that horrible night flashing before his eyes, had he not forged an even deeper love with her? Instead of turning away from him or shaming him, she'd loved him fiercely, practically bringing him back from the dead with it. While they'd spent several months celibate, he found a new kind of love for her, something profound and enduring.

He knew he had no right to be judging John, so he slowly walked back to him. Face-to-face with Grey he looked up again. “You're right,” he said quietly. “I have no right to think ill of ye, if ye mean no dishonor tae the lady."

“Certainly not,” Grey said. “Besides,” he added more cheerfully, “it means I will be here permanently, to see to Willie.”

“You mean tae resign yer commission, then?”

“Yes,” Grey said. He smiled, a little ruefully. “It will be a relief, in a way. I was not meant for army life, I think.”

“I should be…grateful, then,” Jamie said, “if you would stand as stepfather tae—tae my son.” He had never spoken the word aloud before, and the sound of it shocked him. “I…would be obliged tae you.”

Jamie swallowed hard, taking great effort to gather the nerve for what he was about to propose. Finally, looking John square in the eye, he said, “In return…If ye want…I mean, I would be willing tae…that is…”

At first, he couldn't interpret the look on Grey's face. He seemed to be going through a slate of emotions at an impossible speed. Jamie waited with bated breath, his stomach flipping with nerves.

Finally, John laid a light hand on Jamie's arm, and said softly, “My dear Jamie, are you actually offering me your body in payment for my promise to look after Willie?” He looked as if he were trying to suppress a laugh, and Jamie felt his face turn red to the roots of his hair.

“Aye, I am,” he snapped, tight-lipped. “D’ye want it, or no?” This was not going at all how he'd planned it, and the humiliation left him cold and empty.

Grey began laughing in long gasping whoops, finally having to sit down on the grassy bank to recover himself. “Oh, dear God,” he said at last, wiping his eyes. “That I should live to hear an offer like that!”

Jamie stood above him, looking down. He knew he should be relieved, but all he could feel was a deep humiliation. He'd opened himself up to John, offered him something he'd never thought he'd give a man willingly, and the wee gomerel was laughing at him.

“Ye dinna want me, then?” he asked through gritted teeth.

Grey got to his feet, dusting the seat of his breeches. “I shall probably want you til the day I die,” he said matter-of-factly. “But tempted as I am—” He shook his head, brushing wet grass from his hands. “Do you really think that I would demand—or accept—any payment for such a service?” he asked. “Really, I should feel my honor most grossly insulted by that offer, save that I know the depth of feeling which prompted it.”

Jamie flushed again. Would this mortification never end? He lowered his head in shame. "I'm sorry, John. I didna mean tae insult yer honor. And I ken ye'd never demand such a thing of me."

John reached a hand up and gently touched Jamie’s cheek, fading now to its normal pale bronze. Quietly, he said, “Besides, you cannot give me what you do not have.”

Jamie could have left it at that. He'd offered; John had refused. He could leave for home the next day with a clear conscience, knowing his son would be cared for by an honorable man. But he didn't want to leave it. He felt a vaguely familiar stirring in his wame, and his breath was picking up speed, though he'd been standing still.

The two men stood silent together for a moment, their eyes locked. Finally, Grey sighed and turned to look up at the sun. “It’s getting late. I suppose you will have a great many things to do today?”

Jamie cleared his throat. “Aye, I have. I suppose I should be about my business.” He tried to move, but felt moored to the spot.

“Yes, I suppose so.” John replied, tugging down the points of his waistcoat, ready to go.

Jamie lingered awkwardly. It was now or never, he told himself. Then, suddenly making up his mind to it, he stepped forward and bent down, cupping Grey’s face between his hands. His skin was silky underneath Jamie's calloused fingers. He grazed the sharp line of John's cheek bone with his thumb. John's tongue peeked out of his mouth involuntarily, wetting his coral lips.

Jamie leaned in slowly. Feelings he'd long ago pushed aside bubbled to the surface, foreign and familiar at the same time. His stomach muscles clenched, his extremities tingled, and his balls began to ache.

He brought his mouth to John's, softly at first. A quiet moan escaped John's lips; when they parted ever so slightly, Jamie gently brushed his tongue against them before tentatively probing further into his mouth. His tongue grazed against John's, eagerly awaiting him, sending a bolt of lightning through his body, urging him on.

He pressed further, moving his hands from John's face to his back. John, who had been standing with arms dangling at his sides in his astonishment, reached up and looped them around Jamie's neck. Their tongues wrestled, mouths opening wider as they grew more confident in their embrace.

As if acting on their own will, Jamie's hands wandered down John's back until they reached his bottom. John groaned and thrust his hips into Jamie's pelvis. Feeling emboldened by John's response, Jamie took a firm hold of each of his round buttocks and squeezed.

It felt different than a woman's, harder, more muscular, but it wasn't unpleasant. As his hands groped and kneaded, an image flashed in his mind of John laying bare before him, Jamie's hands spreading his cheeks wide.

He groaned as the ache in his balls heightened. When he felt the evidence of John's erection press against his leg, his own cock awakened in response. John started to pull away, as if ashamed that he was roused by Jamie's touch, but Jamie was only spurred on. "No," he growled in Grey's ear. "No."

He pressed their mouths together again, leaving one hand firmly on John's backside, keeping their bodies tight together. He slid his other hand between them rubbing up and down along John's length. He’d expected it to feel foreign, but instead it felt erotic. It was firm and warm, and he groaned as he imagined his own cock being stroked by John’s hand.

"Dear god in heaven, Jamie," John gasped, "You'll have me finishing in my breeches if you don’t stop."

Jamie pulled back and gave John a wicked grin. "We canna have that now, can we?" he teased. He pushed John backwards into the willow grove and quickly unbuckled John's belt and pulled down his pants.

When John's erection sprang free, Jamie stepped back, panic threatening to wash over him. No, he told himself, ye're no' going tae ruin this fer me, Jack Randall.

John must have misinterpreted this brief pause as hesitation on Jamie’s part, because he drew back a little. Jamie reached out his hand though, grabbing John's arm and pulling him closer. He wrapped his arms around him, pulling Grey's head into his chest. Tendrils of John's silken hair tickled him under his chin, and Jamie's hand caressed it delicately, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.

The moment of lust passed and they both knew it, but the tenderness remained. "I'm sorry," Jamie said quietly, his chin resting on top of John’s head. "I wanted tae; I still do want tae. It's just that there are ghosts from my past that still plague me at times."

John pulled away and quickly put on his breeks. Jamie felt the brief sting of rejection before John lowered himself to the ground, gesturing for Jamie to sit with him. Relieved, Jamie sat down in the grass. John took one of Jamie’s large hands in his own and said, "You can tell me about these ghosts, if you’d like. If you think it will help."

"Aye," Jamie said. "It might."

By the time he'd finished telling John the tale of his time with Jack Randall, he was lying on the ground with his head in John's lap. John stroked his head, running his fingers through his hair so lovingly it made Jamie’s toes tingle. "I'm so sorry that happened to you," John whispered hoarsely. "I can understand why you would be so...repulsed by the thought of being with me."

Jamie sat up quickly and took John's hands in his. "No," he said firmly. "I'm no' repulsed by the idea of being wi' ye. Not ever. Christ, do ye no' see how I burn for ye? I just need ye to understand, if I hesitate, if I need tae take my time, it's naught tae do with ye. But if ye can let me take my time, if ye can tolerate my fits and starts, I ken I can get past it and be what ye need me to be fer ye."

John chuckled softly and took Jamie's face in his hands. "I've waited so long for this, James Fraser. What makes you think I'll give up now?" He leaned in and kissed Jamie tenderly, with no pretense. When their lips parted, Jamie put his head on John's shoulder, relaxing into his warm embrace.

Slowly, the cracks in his heart began to fill, and he knew it was time to step out of the shadows and be the man he'd once been. It was time to start living again.

***

13 March, Anno Domini 1764

Mr James Fraser

Lallybroch, Inverness-shire

Scotland

My dear Jamie:

I do hope this letter finds you safely and that you are now embraced in the welcoming Bosom of your loving family. Please send my best Regards to your sister Janet and her husband Ian. Though your Company is greatly missed at Helwater, I am sure that the time with your family is precious, given the length of your absence from them.

I have been spending time at Helwater this past month doing my level best to avoid being asked an opinion on anything related to Wedding Planning. The few times that I have been pulled in for the deliberations on such important matters as Flower Arrangements and Linen Colors, I was told in no uncertain terms that I have no Taste whatsoever. It is a wonderment that they continue to seek my opinions on such matters, although perhaps it is only so that they know what Not to do.

In my Mission to avoid these matters altogether, I have spent much time in the Stables with Willie, who says he misses “Mac,” and hopes to see you again very soon. On our first day after your departure, Willie assured me that you had expressly told him that he would be allowed to ride Millyflower after you left. I told him that, since you had not Conveyed this information to me, I would have to write to you to seek your permission; at that he begged me Not to write you and instead acquiesced to riding his Pony instead.

I have spoken to my Betrothed about our Situation and the arrangements that we plan to make for the Future. I was pleasantly Surprised to find that she is quite amenable to our Proposed arrangements and is happy to accompany us to the Colonies after our Nuptials. I cannot tell you the great Relief I felt, both in having the conversation and finding it to have ended Amicably.

Having agreed on such, Isobel and I have decided that we will leave Helwater after we are Married. We will sail for the Colonies with William and visit her property in Virginia, which she has never Laid eyes upon. It is my Hope that you will be able to accompany us on this Journey and join us in Virginia. I do understand your rather Quaker predilections toward the keeping of Slaves, but I can assure these would only be Temporary arrangements.

I have not Forgotten our conversation on your last evening here, and my Intention is to seek Land in either North or South Carolina so that we may begin Building a home and working the Land there. It is my Deepest desire to see this wish of yours Fulfilled. As for myself, I am eager to Begin living a quieter life, even if that means I will have to learn how to work the land. I am sure you will be the most Patient of teachers.

My Wedding is set for 1 April and we plan to set sail for the Colonies by the end of that month. If this is agreeable to your Circumstances, please send word posthaste and we will arrange to sail from Edinburgh with you. I do hope that we will soon see You; your company is greatly missed. I understand we may not be able to play Chess on our Voyage due to your propensity toward Seasickness, but I will bring my Board nonetheless. If nothing else, Perhaps spending some time brooding over a Game with me will be a welcome distraction to your otherwise unpleasant Circumstances.

I look forward to Seeing you soon, if that is your desire. Until then, I remain, sir, with all good Wishes toward you and your Family,

Your ob’t, servant,

John William Grey, Esq.

Helwater Estate, Lake District

England

***

1 April, Anno Domini 1764

Lord John Grey

Helwater Estate, Lake District

England

My lord,

I am in Receipt of your correspondence dated 13 March and must first give you my most Heartfelt congratulations on your marriage to the lovely Lady Dunsaney, though by the time this Letter reaches you, she will be Lady Grey.

As For my journey home, I can say that as I traveled, my heart felt lighter than it has in many years. I have you, my dearest friend, to thank for that. The burdens weighing on my soul do not trouble me so much as they did since you allowed me to disencumber myself of them.

When I arrived home, I found my family to all be in Good health, though much changed. Most of my nieces and nephews are Grown now, with bairns of their own, who have taken to following me around calling me "Nunkie," and requesting endless Stories. I must confess that though I am home, it does not feel like Home.

For that Reason, I am pleased to hear that Lady Grey is Receptive to our plans. I cannot help but marvel at your good fortune in finding such a Complaisant wife. Now that I know our plans are in Motion, I find it much easier to Bear the passing time in this place that is both familiar and foreign all at once.

I will leave for Edinburgh in time to Meet you at the end of the month and will fill the Time until then with thoughts of the Home we will build in the Colonies. I don't know if I can ever Express to you how pleased I am that You are willing to take this great Risk with me. It will be Hard work, as you know, but I vow to be a Forbearing teacher.

Please send my love to William and tell Him that when we are Settled in the Colonies we will be sure to build fine stables and fill them with Horses. Until then, I hope he is behaving well and has Made no further efforts to Deceive you. Also pass along my Gratefulness and thanks to Lady Isobel for being so very Accommodating.

I Very much look forward to seeing you. It is my Wish that we will have plenty of time to speak of our Future plans. I do Believe it is wishful thinking on your part that we may be able to Play chess once Aboard the ship but your Company will be welcome all the same.

Until that time we shall meet, I remain,

Your ob’t, servant,

James Fraser

Lallybroch, Inverness-shire

Scotland

***

Jamie paced in his room at the World's End Tavern, his fingers drumming a relentless beat against his leg as he moved. He had arrived in Edinburgh on the 25th; was it possible that he had missed them?

Even worse, what if John had changed his mind? They'd made many promises to each other that last night at Helwater, but promises made under the soft glow of the moon often looked very different when elucidated by the sun. Perhaps Jamie had read too much into his letters.

He'd left word at several inns and visited the docks twice a day, hoping for word that they'd arrived. There was nothing else to do but wait. Tired of pacing in his tiny room, he grabbed his coat and tricorn hat and left the inn.

The weather was sunny and the cool, April air felt soothing on his face as he walked through the congested streets. He kept alert, constantly scanning the crowds for John's face. He covered miles upon miles as he navigated the labyrinthine streets of Edinburgh, but nothing could ease the anxious feeling in his wame.

Exhausted and hungry, he turned and looped his way back the way he had come. Finally, he approached the World's End and his heart leapt into his throat. Could it be them? The man and the woman had his back to him, but they were finely dressed and Jamie was certain he'd recognize John anywhere.

He picked up his pace and suddenly a little boy with dark curls darted into the streets, barreling towards Jamie shouting, "Mac!"

Jamie ran forward and scooped his son up in his arms, unable to stop the tears of joy from flowing down his cheeks. "Willie, a chuisle," he said hoarsely, holding the boy close to his chest, "I'm so glad tae see ye."

"I missed you, Mac," Willie replied, burying his face in Jamie’s shoulder. He carried the lad as he walked toward John and Isobel.

"It's good tae see ye both," he said, grinning so hard his face hurt. He put Willie down and took Isobel's hand in his, kissing it lightly. "Lady Grey," he said.

She smiled and pulled him in for a hug. "It is good to see you, Mr. Fraser."

When they pulled away from each other, Jamie glanced at John. Their eyes met and Jamie felt like there were bubbles in his wame. They gave each other slight bows of greeting.

“Well,” John said, “shall we find out about getting passage on a ship? Isobel, darling, why don’t you take Willie upstairs to our room and Mr. Fraser and I will walk down to the docks.”

“Nooooo!!!!!!” Willie wailed. “I want to go with you and Mac!!!!”

Jamie crouched down next to the lad and put his hand on his shoulder. “Willie, ‘tis a long walk and I’m sure ye’re already worn out from yer journey."

Willie straightened his back and pulled at the hem of his coat. "I am not tired and I want to go with you! I'm old enough to help take care of business."

Jamie suppressed a chuckle; he could feel his lips twitching dangerously, but he kept a straight face and tousled Willie's hair. "Alright, lad. Ye can come wi' us, but ye're walking the whole way there and back. Dinna ask either of us tae carry ye, aye?"

Willie nodded, "I promise, Mac."

Jamie stood and exchanged an amused glance with John as the three headed off in the direction of the docks.

***

Willie made good on his promise on the way to the docks. They were lucky enough to purchase passage on a ship leaving in two days' time. Jamie’s heart felt lighter as they headed back to the World's End.

"I know we have a long journey ahead of us, but I feel like we are getting closer to our destination every day," John said as they walked slowly. Willie was running ahead of them and then circling back every few minutes.

"Aye, we are, John. We are." Jamie glanced around to make sure nobody was looking and then quickly gave John's hand a squeeze before pulling away again. John smiled, the color rising in his cheeks.

Willie circled back around then, dragging his feet. "What's the matter, Willie?" John asked.

"I'm tiiiirrreeed," Willie whined.

Jamie threw his head back and laughed. He knew he should be annoyed with the lad, but he was so happy to be with him again, he couldn't help his amusement. "Are ye now, lad?" Jamie teased.

"Yes, I am," he pouted.

"And what would you like us to do about that?" John asked, exchanging an amused look with Jamie.

Willie cast his eyes to the ground and mumbled something. "What was that?" Jamie asked. He was practically shaking with laughter.

Willie looked up at him defiantly, his blue eyes giving away his shame. "Will you carry me, Mac?"

Jamie’s eyes softened as he looked at Willie's tired eyes. "Aye, come here laddie." He reached out his arms and picked Willie up. Willie's head automatically fell on Jamie’s shoulder and soon he felt the rhythmic breathing of sleep against his chest.

"He's spoiled enough, you know," John spoke softly. "You really shouldn't indulge him like that."

"I ken, John. And I willna do this every time. I'm just so glad tae be able to hold him and care for him as my son. Just a wee bit more spoiling willna hurt anything."

John sighed and gave Jamie a warm smile. "I understand Jamie; I truly do."

They walked in silence the rest of the way. When they reached the tavern, Jamie brought Willie up to John's room. Isobel greeted them as Jamie laid Willie in the bed and John told Isobel of their travel plans.

"It all sounds lovely," Isobel replied.

John and Jamie settled in for a game of chess while they waited for Willie to wake up from his nap. He did so about an hour later and the family headed downstairs for supper.

As they ate their meal, John joked about the volume of food Jamie was eating. "I have tae get my fill now and put some meat on my bones," Jamie informed him. "Once I'm on the ship, I willna be able tae keep anything down. We'll be lucky if I dinna waste away before we reach the Colonies."

"I am worried about that," John told him. "You like to joke about it but it is a real concern of mine." Jamie could see the genuine apprehension in his eyes.

"John," he said gently. The urge to reach out and touch John's hand reassuringly was almost too great to resist. "We all will die someday, but I dinna think sea sickness will be the way I meet my demise."

Jamie felt a tap on his shoulder then. He turned to see who it was and found a wee Chinese man sitting at the table behind him. "Hello," Jamie greeted him. "Can I help ye?"

"Sorry to interrupt," the man said with a thick accent, "My name Ye Tien Cho. I overhear you speak of sea sickness. I have experience treating sea sickness and am looking for passage to the Colonies."

Jamie looked at him curiously. "James Fraser," he told him as he took Ye Tien Cho's hand and shook it awkwardly. "What exactly are ye proposing?"

"You pay my passage; I treat your sea sickness, make trip more pleasant."

"And how do I ken ye arena going tae cheat us? Ye could take the passage and then do nothing fer me."

The man put his right hand over his heart and raised his left. "On my honor, I swear to honor our deal. If not able to treat your sea sickness, you have me arrested when we reach Colonies."

Jamie recognized something in the man's eyes, a look of truth and honor. "Alright then," Jamie said. "We have a deal. We'll purchase your passage tomorrow, Ye Tien Cho."

The man smiled and nodded. "Very good. Will not disappoint."

Jamie turned back to his family and continued their meal. It was a strange but welcome feeling to be sitting at the table with John and Isobel as equals. He had especially worried about Isobel not being able to treat him as her peer, but it seemed natural to her, as if she had been faking her airs before instead of the other way around.

Toward the end of the meal, he felt John's foot nudging him under the table. When Isobel got up to take Willie back to bed, John pressed his foot over Jamie’s. Jamie stayed put and once Isobel was out of earshot, John winked at him and said, "Later, after everyone is asleep, I'll come to you."

Jamie gulped and nodded slowly as John got up and left. All of his anxieties from earlier in the day dissolved into a volcano of excitement that he felt deep in his core. John wanted him, and tonight was the night.

He had to sit at the table a few extra minutes for propriety's sake before following them.

***

Before Willie went to sleep, they all gathered in the room Willie was sharing with Isobel and, ostensibly, John to talk with Willie as frankly as they could about their new situation. John lifted him onto the edge of the bed next to Isobel and then retreated to stand at the foot of the bed with Jamie nearby. The room was filled with nervous energy, all of the adults trying to figure out how to strike a balance between selling their new family as a good thing while also giving the impression that it was all perfectly normal.

"William," Isobel started, "now that we're going to be starting over in a new place, as a family, I think it's important for you to understand something we haven't told you before. Mac, he is...well, he's….one of your fathers."

"I have more than one father?" Willie asked, holding up his fingers and trying to count them.

John crouched down so he was eye to eye with him. "Yes, you have three. Your father in heaven, Mac, and me."

"Aren't you a lucky boy!" Isobel said. Jamie gave her a grateful smile for her efforts at trying to keep the conversation light for Willie.

"How come nobody told me Mac was my father?" he asked indignantly.

"You're grandmother doesn't like Mac very much," John told him in a conspiratorial voice, "so we had to keep it a secret from her."

Willie turned to Jamie and gave him a conspiratorial smile. "Like when you made me a secret Papist!"

Jamie blushed a deep red as Isobel and John both turned to look at him. He cleared his throat and answered, "Aye, like that."

Willie's brow furrowed as he tried to connect all the pieces of new information. Finally he looked at Isobel and said, "I have three fathers." He held up three fingers of one hand and two on the other. "And two mothers. But what will I call you so you don't get all mixed up?"

"Well, you can still call us Papa and Mother Isobel, if you like," John told him.

"What about you, Mac?" Willie asked, turning his attention back to Jamie.

Jamie walked over and sat on the other side of him. "Well, ye can keep callin' me Mac if it's easier fer ye, or ye can call me Da, if ye like."

"Da…," William tried out the word. "I've never heard that before."

"It's what the Scots call their father. Ye're a Scot, too, ye ken. Just as much as ye are English."

William scrunched up his nose in confusion and turned to John. "Am I still the ninth Earl of Ellesmere?"

"Yes," John answered, "but where we're going that isn't going to matter very much. The Colonies are different from England."

William was quiet for a moment and then asked, "Will there be horses?"

Jamie laughed and put an arm around him, "We already told ye there would be. Now, it's time tae get some sleep."

***

Back in his room, Jamie prepared for bed, washing his face and stripping down to his sark. He had no idea when John would come, and he certainly didn’t want to fall asleep waiting for him, so he paced the room anxiously. Finally, Jamie heard a soft knock. He nearly launched himself at the door, but caught himself and gripped the handle taking several calming breaths before opening it just a crack to let John in.

“Good evening,” John said in his typically polite manner.

How can he stand there and act so courtly when all I want to do is ravage him? Jamie thought.

“Hello,” Jamie replied, suddenly feeling very foolish standing there in his sark while John was fully dressed. “Would ye like something tae drink? I have some whisky.”

“A dram would be just fine,” John replied, looking around the room.

“Please, have a seat,” Jamie told him, indicating the small table that was set up in the corner of the sparse room.

John nodded and sat down primly, straightening his shirt and running his hands over his breeks to prevent wrinkles. Jamie could feel John’s eyes on him as he turned to pour their drinks. Having anticipated this moment for so long, Jamie suddenly found himself shy and nervous. His hands trembled slightly as he walked the drinks to the table.

He set John's glass down in front of him; John's hand reached toward the glass but grabbed Jamie’s hand instead. Damn the drinks, Jamie thought as he pulled John out of the chair and embraced him, bringing their lips together passionately. He ran his hands through John's hair as their tongues twisted around each other.

When they finally broke apart, gasping for air, Jamie gave John a mischievous smile. "I canna tell ye how I've yearned tae feel yer lips on mine again. The last two months have been torture."

"Two months?" John replied. "Try waiting almost ten years."

"Ye'll wait no more, John. Nor will ye ever have tae again." He kissed John's lips and then moved down to taste the sharp line of his jaw, then the delicate skin of his neck. "I plan tae have my lips on ye as much as possible from now on."

Jamie dropped his hands and grasped at John's belt as he continued exploring him with his mouth. He released the clasp and pushed John's breeks to the floor. Their shirts were long enough to cover their cocks, but both men were hard, their excitement obvious under the thin material. Jamie’s stomach clenched pleasurably as he felt them brush together through the flimsy garments.

Jamie stepped back and untied his shirt sleeves, lifting the sark over his head. John's eyes greedily took all of him in, reaching out his hand and ghosted it across the lines of Jamie’s collar bones, the contours of his chest, the hard lines of his torso. He trailed his fingers further down and ran them through the patch of copper hair on Jamie's pubic bone. Jamie gasped, his cock twitching at the welcome intrusion.

John's hand hovered over Jamie’s erection. "Is this alright?" he asked.

Jamie swallowed hard and nodded, and John folded his hand around his length. Jamie's entire body relaxed as John caressed his cock with a firm hold and tender strokes. Jamie emitted a sound that was almost a sob, and bent his head down to rest it on John's shoulder. After a few moments, Jamie reached down and lifted the hem of John's shirt, wanting nothing between them.

Gently, he pushed John's hand off and lifted the shirt over John's head. He reached out and touched John's chest; experimenting, he took John's nipple between his thumb and pointer finger, gently squeezing. John moaned giving Jamie all the encouragement he needed to push John toward the bed and lift him on it.

John leaned back on his hands as Jamie moved between his legs, hovering over him and lowering his mouth to his chest. He sucked and teased at John's nipples, spurred on by John's moans and the feeling of John’s cock between them, brushing against his body.

Suddenly, he pulled John upright and placed his hand on John's cock, teasing the head with his thumb as he gently squeezed and kneaded his shaft. "John," he whispered hoarsely, "I want tae take ye. Will ye have me?"

John reached one arm up and pulled their heads close together. "Yes, James Fraser. I'll have you." Their lips came together in a tender kiss.

"I dinna ken exactly what tae do, John. Will ye guide me?" Jamie asked.

John nodded his head. "Of course," he said breathily. He scooted off the bed and walked over to where his trousers were lying on the floor. "I brought something that will make it easier." He crouched down and plucked a small glass vial out of the pockets. "Some oil," he said, glancing down at Jamie’s large cock, and swallowing hard.

John walked back to the bed and put the vial in Jamie’s hand. Jamie kissed him again, his lips trembling as the moment of their joining became imminent. He turned John around, and John obediently bent over the bed. "This will be easiest, for your first time," John told him.

Jamie opened the vial and poured some of the oil into his hands, rubbing it between his fingers. "Rub some on yourself," John instructed. "And then you'll need to use it, erm….inside me. And it helps if you stretch me out a bit first." His voice shook as he spoke and Jamie wasn't sure if he was nervous or excited.

"Aye," Jamie replied. He rubbed the oil up and down the length of his shaft and then poured more on his hands. He adjusted John's body a bit and then gingerly pushed one finger between his cheeks, feeling for John's entrance. When he found it, he prodded tentatively, until his finger slipped in. John gasped as Jamie moved his finger experimentally, learning the inside of his lover's body for the first time.

As Jamie became more confident, he slicked his hand with more oil and slipped in two fingers. With his other hands, he reached down and stroked John's balls. He could see the pace of John's breathing increasing.

Finally, as if he couldn't wait a moment longer, John gasped, "I need you inside me, Jamie."

Jamie pulled back his hands and steadied himself, placing one hand on John's ass and the other on his own cock. Carefully, he guided himself to John's entrance. He briefly wondered how something so large was going to fit in something so small, but the thought of how tight he imagined it would be urged him on and he pressed forward slowly.

There was slight resistance at first, but then he felt John relax underneath him and he slid in. Both men groaned in relief and Jamie pushed further. He watched himself fill John one inch at a time. Despite his slow movements, his entire body broke out in a sweat. He pressed on steadily, until finally his pelvis rested against John's ass.

"Oh God," Jamie said. He leaned his upper body forward and rested it on John's back. Tenderly, he kissed John's neck and whispered in his ear, "Does it feel alright? I'm no' hurtin' ye, am I?"

John reached his hand back and grabbed Jamie’s arm reassuringly. "No, Jamie, you're not hurting me. To be filled by you, it feels amazing."

Jamie lifted himself up and started thrusting, slowly at first. "Oh Christ, John, ye're so tight," he groaned, grabbing John's hips and moving faster. He looked down and watched himself sliding in and out, his cock surrounded by John.

As Jamie increased his speed, John gripped the blankets and grunted with each thrust. "Jamie. Jamie. Jamie."

Hearing John chanting his name was almost too much for Jamie to bear. He doubled his efforts, driving into him. John cried out and Jamie's balls tightened. He didn't want their joining to end so quickly but he couldn't control himself; he let go, pulsing inside John as he filled him with his seed. Jamie collapsed on John's back, panting and nibbling at his shoulders.

"Christ, John. I never imagined that would feel so good," Jamie said as he slowly pulled his cock out. "Did ye like it?"

John turned around. He sat up and took Jamie in his arms. "Yes, Jamie. You were wonderful."

As John drew him near, Jamie felt John's cock, still rigid and unsatisfied. "John, forgive me for being so selfish."

"It's alright," John said, chuckling and cupping Jamie’s face in his hands. "I could tell you were a little overwhelmed."

Jamie smiled and kissed him. "I'll make it up to ye, aye?" He crawled onto the bed and beckoned for John to join him. When John was sitting up against the headboard, Jamie spread John's legs and crawled between them. He smiled nervously. "I dinna ken exactly how tae do this, John. I'm sorry ye have tae suffer such an inexperienced fool. I'll do my best though, and ye tell me if I'm doing anything wrong."

"Jamie please stop apologizing," John said. "I've never been so happy in all my life; you have nothing to be sorry for."

Jamie smiled and kissed a trail down John's chest. When he reached his erection he slowly lowered his mouth over it, teasing the head with his tongue as he took him in.

Buggering John had been one thing; the destination was a little different but Jamie's movements had been similar enough to bedding a woman that he'd been fairly confident. This, though, was foreign to him, and he could only hope to do well enough so as to please John, even a little.

He began moving his mouth up and down on John's shaft. John's moans encouraged him and he continued, trying different movements with his tongue and varying the rhythm and suction, paying close attention to John's reactions. Remembering the ways he'd been pleasured in the past, he put his hand on the base of John's cock and started pumping in tandem with his mouth.

John made a strangled sound and gasped, "Oh God, Jamie. I can’t...I can’t hold back much longer."

Jamie knew he could move his mouth away, finish John with his hands, but he wanted this. He wanted to feel John pulsing in his mouth so he kept on until John let go with a string of expletives that almost made Jamie choke as he swallowed John's juices.

"What's that smile for?" John asked, running his fingers through Jamie's curls.

"I didna think I'd ever live tae see the day that I'd hear such language coming from the mouth of Lord John Grey," Jamie teased. He sat up and took John's face in his hands. "Ye've a filthy mouth under all yer fancy airs, and I love it." He planted a wet kiss on John's lips before rolling over and lying next to him.

John slid down until he was curled up next to Jamie, resting his head on his shoulder. "I think you'll find I have many surprises in store for you, James."

"I bet ye do," Jamie teased, "And I canna wait for all of them." He wrapped his arms around John and nuzzled his head in John's hair.

It felt wonderful to be in the arms of someone he loved again. The sex was amazing, but that could be gotten anywhere. It was the intimacy that he had missed the most all those long, lonely years. To fall asleep tangled up with your lover was a beautiful thing.

He felt himself drifting off and could hear John's breathing steadying. "Good night John," he whispered. "I love ye."

John's voice was choked when he answered back, "I love you, too."