As the sun rose over the community of Richmond Hill, it was clear even this early that the summer day would be more harsh than usual. The air felt heavy from the humidity the day was already bringing in. Until today, the summer had been relatively mild, never seeming to get over 70 degrees in Fahrenheit, but rising from bed with the sun, Jamie had a feeling it would be much worse today. He didn't take the humidity into account however, which was of course going to make it feel much worse. Jamie decided to just put his chin up and hope for the best as he got dressed for the day ahead of him.
Seeing as the day was so harsh, he figured that now more than ever Thomas Kinnear would need more men to tend to the animals, and despite being young, he was still willing to give it his best effort. After eating a quick meal of bread and a fried egg, he made his way to the home, having made sure his father had already gone for the day. The walk to the Kinnear home seemed longer than before in the heat of the morning. Jamie Walsh and his father lived a very modest life, only owning one horse that would be used to transport his father to work and back, meaning Jamie had to take the trip to the Kinnear home on foot each time he went. On occasion Mr.Kinnear would give him a ride back home after a day of work, but the odds were against that happening today on account of the fact that Thomas Kinnear had family staying with him for the week and would no doubt prefer to spend his time with his kin rather than transporting a neighbor boy. It was completely understandable, but all the same it would have been nice to have a bit of company.
Upon arriving to the Kinnear home, Jamie popped into the kitchen to let the housekeeper know he was there and ask what needed to be done today. Nancy was busying herself with washing up dishes when he came in and simply stated to just ask James McDermott who “should be in the barn.” Jamie thanked her and made a comment in passing about the weather, something menial and simple that was easily forgotten by the both of them as it had seemed to be more or less a formality between the two of them. Rolling up his sleeves to help himself cool off at least a little, he made his way to the barn. Upon entering, he could hear a rhythmic sort of stepping sound from the floor above him. Knowing the source of the thumping was more than likely McDermott, he quietly climbed the ladder, not wanting to intrude on the off chance it wasn’t him. His head peaked up over top of the ladder and just watched the scene before him for a bit. James McDermott was in fact up there as predicted. More specifically he was doing some sort of river dance, facing away from Jamie, who wasn’t sure what to make of this at all. Sure he had seen people river dance before but something about the casual air to James’ movements made it all the more beautiful to him. While other forms of the dance he had seen were as tradition, rigged and jaunty, James had more of a loose and free vibe to his movements, as if he was actually enjoying himself.
In all the time Jamie had known James McDermott, he never struck him as the dancing type, he seemed to be more of a man who would be into whittling or strenuous push ups based solely on the muscular arms and hands he possessed. Not that Jamie paid close attention to those things, but it was hard for him not to compare himself with the older man. James McDermott had strong arms, well toned from all the wood chopping and heavy lifting he needed to do; Jamie Walsh on the other hand, did have some muscle, but chopping wood still took him several good whacks to accomplish. James McDermott had rough hands, callused from the work they’d seen; Jamie Walsh had some roughness to his hands, but that was only in winter when the air was dry. James McDermott had that masculine build and face that would have all the women swooning were he more than just a servant; Jamie Walsh was lucky if people classified his looks as boyishly cute, bonus points if people noted his “boyish charm.” The differences between the two seemed endless, especially to Jamie. If someone were to choose between them based on appearance alone, no doubt they would choose McDermott. Hell, Jamie himself would choose McDermott were he the hypothetical young lady in question. No doubt James would treat him well in this hypothetical he created, he’d probably be a good dad to any children they might have, too.
But alas, Jamie was not a lady. He could daydream of what James McDermott would be like as a husband all he wanted, but at the end of the day they were still men and there was still work to be done. After watching for a little while longer, he spoke up to get the older man’s attention. “Could you teach me how to dance like that some time,” he asked, deciding that was the best thing to say in this situation. In all honesty, Jamie just craved interaction with someone more than he wanted to know how to dance, and James was the only man around his age for miles. He would much rather talk to James than with various old men from town with their rich people jobs and servants anyway.
James jumped slightly when he first heard Jamie talk, causing the younger to stifle a chuckle. “Didn’t hear you come in. Maybe I’ll teach you, but you should probably help milk the cows first,” he stated, getting mentally prepared to get back to work. Jamie nodded and climbed back down the ladder, wiping his brow. How anyone could be dancing like that in this heat was beyond him, but it still had been fun to watch while it lasted. Jamie got some buckets ready to put the milk in and two stools, one for him and one for James before getting started on milking. When James came down to join him, he was beyond shocked.
James had apparently come to the conclusion that a way to beat the Heat was by removing his shirt before work. Jamie just sort of stared at his torso for a bit before realizing that he was doing it and glancing away, a little flustered. “McDermott, don’t you think you’ll be reprimanded if Mr. Kinnear or his guests see you so,” he paused, motioning to the other man’s chest, trying to find the right word to use. “Indecent? Surely you’re not keen on just anyone seeing you like that.”
“I don’t suppose so, but we’re among men here. Mr. Kinnear is too busy entertaining his guests to care and that bitch of a housekeeper wouldn’t dream of coming out on a day like this. I figure as long as it’s the two of us, it’s nothing too bad. You could do the same if you wanted to, I bet you’ll feel a lot better when you do,” James responded, taking a seat on the small stool next to Jamie. “If you ask me, I don’t think it’s indecent if it’s two men close in age who are alone together who does it. It would be different if we were of different classes or if I was ten years your senior. And it would help me solve a question I’ve had since I met you: do you have freckles all over your body or just the face and arms?”
Jamie had to admit, the reasons presented (all but the last) were quite strong. Surly it wasn’t odd for two men so close in status and age to help fend off the heat together in this way, especially seeing as layered clothing were the fashion for men these days. He stood and looked around before going to the doors of the stable and closing it just to be safe. “McDermott, are you sure this is okay,” he asked, beginning to remove his vest and necktie. Looking back over at him, he took a deep breath, having never done anything like this with a man near his own age before. However, it being James McDermott made things all the simpler for him to feel at ease. Even though it was boiling hot on this day, Jamie was still unsure of if his face was hot just from the heat or from possible embarrassment. Setting his vest and tie aside, he then took off his shirt and wiped some sweat from his brow with the back of his wrist, unaware that James had been watching him the whole time. Jamie looked back up at him and smiled slightly at him. “Is something the matter, sir,” he asked, having taken notice he had been being watched.
James shook his head and let out a small chuckle, “Not at all, Walsh. In fact, I think these formalities between us are uncalled for. I would be alright if you would just called me by my first name.” Jamie noticed now that since McDermott was closer, he was wearing a necklace with great amount of detail. “I honestly didn’t think you’d go through with that, You’re still such a baby despite your age. So pensive still even though this is just with the two of us,” James said with a sort of sarcastic chuckle, lightly smacking the side of the younger man’s head to get him out of the state of staring at a necklace resting against his chest. “What are you thinking, boy? Out with it.”
Jamie jumped slightly and turned his attention back to James’ face, instantly wishing he had not. He’d never been so close to him, and was only just noticing just how calming his eyes were for someone so rough. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking. I suppose how shocking it was to me that you haven’t a sweetheart yet. Of course that’s probably because you have few days a year to acquire one, I’m sure you’d have more luck were you in town more often,” he stated, turning and sitting back down to continue milking the cow. “I’m sure any woman would be pleased to have a man like you protecting her,” he said simply, looking back at him briefly before down at the bucket collecting milk.
James scoffed and sat back down as well, “You seem to have thought of this before, Jamie. You have good reason to be jealous of my looks, but I didn’t pin you as the type to make your feelings so outwardly known. I like knowing you aren’t as good as you let on.” He smirked and turned to face him, deciding not to work right now and just talk to Jamie; of course he didn’t want to work in the first place, so this was in all fairness to him. Since the barn doors were closed, nobody would know besides him and Jamie, who he was convinced would not tell a soul.
“It’s not that,” Jamie insisted, looking up from his work to look back at James. “I promise it’s not jealousy. If anything I’d consider it more admiration. You’re the kind of man I aspire to be one day. Forthwrite with your words, unafraid of anything, strong of both body and mind,” he said, not too sure how he would respond and to be completely honest, fearful of the possible response that could be presented to him upon putting it out there. James scoffed and rested his elbows on his knees, leaning forward.
“If you were a woman, I’d feel like you were flirting with me, Jamie. But look at you, you’re just a boy, a clearly jealous boy no matter what you say,” James responded, scooting forward on his stool a little. “I doubt you really do feel that way.” Jamie looked over at him, clearly taken for shock by this. From just this look, James could tell he was saying how he truly felt. “Do you want to do anything about those feelings or just sit there? It’s just you and me here right now, Walsh. You could do anything.”
Jamie looked on, a look only describable as naively blank and ununderstanding. “What do you mean, McDermott? Sorry, James,” he corrected himself quickly, staring at him wide-eyed as he wiped the sweat from his forehead yet again. “What do you mean “I could do anything,” James? I’m not really sure what to think or what you’re thinking I might want to do.”
“You really are as much of a baby as I thought you were. Haven’t you ever wondered how things compare between men and women,” James asked, smirking as he glanced back at the door to make sure it for sure was closed as what he was about to do could be detrimental to both of their reputations and possibly even freedom. “Since you’re so keen on me, maybe we can really see how far that keenness takes you.” Jamie was still slightly confused, but said nothing.
This wasn’t the most romantic place in the world, smelling of cow manure and cows in general and being not only hot, but also sticky. But, to James McDermott, romance was not on his mind. Right now he had his own urges that he would pass off as helping Jamie with his feelings, telling himself that to convince both him and the other boy. Jamie opened his mouth to speak, but he was cut off my James before he was able to say anything, “Don’t talk, just trust me.” With that simple sentence, James took hold of Jamie’s face and pulled him into a deep kiss, continuing to tell himself that this was just him craving human attention and looking to fulfill that in any way possible.