It was Miranda who suggested his new name after they escaped from England and reached Nassau. Lieutenant James McGraw ceased to exist and James Flint was born, and he used his knowledge of seamanship and his rage, fueled by grief, to quickly work his way up until he was named Captain of the Walrus. Internally he was torn between fulfilling Thomas's dream of a peaceful and profitable Nassau under British rule, and his fury at those who caused the death of the man he loved and who had sent him fleeing into exile. The grief overwhelmed him and except in more lucid moments all he wanted to do was force the British from these waters. He wanted to see their ships burn, wanted to see their flag fall, and raise the black in its stead.
He had heard so many talk of how grief softens over the years and yet, ten years later, his was still as sharp as the stone that formed his name - hard like flint even though he had taken his revenge on those who betrayed and murdered Thomas and Miranda - on Alfred Hamilton, and on Peter Ashe.
He thought of Thomas every day as so much reminded him of his forbidden love; of the man who had stolen his heart against all common decency and the law. James could almost see Thomas's smile as he looked across the endless blue of ocean from the quarterdeck. He imagined how Thomas would have reacted upon seeing Nassau for the first time, and how he would have found the whole place fascinating. James thought of how they would have retired each evening to a magnificent house set inland on a small plantation, worked upon by freemen and women for a decent wage. He imagined lying on a bed of white cotton sheets as the sun rose, with Thomas asleep beside him, curled up against his side until the warmth and sunlight of the new day woke him from his slumber. They would make love, moving slowly against each other, feeling the heady desire burn into a bright and glorious release.
His mood was always darker and his grief stronger after such imaginings, feeling the loss burn him from the inside out, and more keenly still since Miranda's death.
Now he had fresh hope, and though he had started out this last journey raging against those who held him captive, that hope had started to pierce the armor of his grief, slowly widening the cracks that allowed him to see a glimpse of a future. It allowed in fresh dreams and new fears, making him afraid. What if he arrived too late and Thomas had been taken by some malady? What if it was all a mistake and he had never been transported to the Americas? What if Thomas had heard of Captain Flint's trail of destruction through the Caribbean, and was horrified by the murder of his father and Peter Ashe?
As he approached the familiar figure toiling in the field beneath the hot Georgia sun James was filled with trepidation. The man turned and looked confused for a moment until the shock of familiarity crossed his face and he was smiling, reaching for James.
If James could have only this one glorious moment with Thomas back in his arms, and taste his kiss one last time then it would still be enough to cast aside the rage that had consumed him for ten long years. And if he should be granted more than this one moment, this one kiss, then the grief of loss too would evaporate. Inside he was burning with love, and this time he would let it burn.