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It Doesn't Have to Hurt

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Ever since Jamie returned from the supposed dead, Claire had been burdened by a horrible twisting knot between her ribs. The omission permeated every conversation between her and Jamie even if he didn’t realize it. She didn’t think he did or that he had any reason to, but she couldn’t go on lying to him, not about this.

“Jamie,” she managed through an achingly tight throat. “There’s something I need to discuss with you.”

Jamie looked up from the document he was frowning at and took off his spectacles. His expression was open and unguarded as he fixed his attention on her. "Aye? What is it, Sassenach?"

Heart pounding, Claire took an uncertain step forward. The sound of his pet name for her made the sharp claws of guilt dig in even deeper. It was worse not to tell him, wasn’t it? The longer it took to confess, the harder it would be for him to accept. The longer she hid it, the more it would seem there was something to hide. “I need you to promise that you’ll listen, that you’ll hear me out. It may also be prudent to remind you of the oath you once made to never raise a hand to me again.”

That got his attention. A deep crease of concern appeared between Jamie's brows and he rose from what served as his writing desk these days, coming around it to take both of her hands in his. He raised one and kissed her knuckles. "I'll no' strike ye, ye still have my word. And my ear. What is it?"

Just trying to form the words brought the memories to her mind, clearer even than they had been in the drunken, heartbroken madness that had been that evening. The feel of John’s weight on top of her, the scratch of his stubble against her cheeks, the fierceness with which he’d claimed her… Claire drew in an unexpected, sharp gasp, then blew that breath back out, forcing herself to look at Jamie and ground herself to the present moment. “When John and I were married, we engaged in… well that’s to say… Jamie, we slept together.”

The frown deepened, and if he thought any harder, Claire was sure she'd start to smell smoke. After an agonizingly long time, Jamie dropped her hands and took a staggering step back. "Ye mean that… John… and you…" Apparently he ran out of words and gaped at her.

Claire forced herself to nod. “Had sex. Yes. I thought you should know that.” The admission brought on a new guilt. Had she betrayed John’s confidence by telling Jamie about what had happened between them?

Jamie turned his back on Claire and took a handful of steps away, shoulders tight, posture dangerous. Scrubbing a hand over his jaw, he at last faced her again. "And whose idea was that?" Some unspeakable pain crossed his face. "Did he force ye?"

Claire frowned. His question almost amounted to an accusation, and one that John most certainly did not deserve. “Of course not. He would never… it was my idea.”

Jamie's ruddy brows shot up. "Surely ye didnae force him. How the devil did ye convince him to do a thing like that?"

“Easily.” Claire snorted. “You never took much convincing either, if I recall.”

"That's different," Jamie sputtered, suddenly rather indignant. "I'm no' a…" Wisely, he gave up whatever thought was about to fight its way out of his mouth in favor of another. "Why?" he demanded, heat creeping into his voice. Anger was beginning to simmer under the surface.

“I was scared and hurt and he understood my pain. I needed not to feel alone.” That night came to her again, how it had felt to just tear herself open. For so long Claire had felt this jealousy for John, for the time he’d spent with Jamie, but in that moment, she’d only felt relief. John loved Jamie too and with incredible fierceness. Whatever injury Jamie’s death had caused Claire, John had received its twin, and in that, they’d found profound intimacy.

"Is that right?" Jamie took one step toward her, his hands restless at his sides. "Weel. And did it work?"

“As well as it could. He’s an…” Claire had started, foolishly, to announce something like he’s an excellent lover, and then realized that was utterly mad and just stood there silently, without a damn idea of what to say.

"Nay, go on." He lifted one shoulder in a shrug that he probably wanted to appear casual but was actually anything but. "Tell me about it."

Claire blinked. Jamie couldn’t possibly mean he wanted her to describe… she shook her head. “You can’t be serious. You want to describe how we… Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, Jamie. What exactly do you want to know?”

"Did ye like it?"

The lies came to Claire first. No. It was adequate. Not terrible. But, when it came to saying it aloud, she only managed the truth. “Yes. Quite.”

"Quite?" Jamie's eyes went wide as saucers. "Did he—I mean, did ye…" He floundered, then worked his hands in some vague pantomime reminiscent of an explosion."

“I… I did,” Claire turned her back to Jamie, rubbing the back of her neck with her hand. “Twice.” She spoke under her breath, not sure if she actually wanted him to hear or not.

"Twice!" He grumbled something under his breath in a string of angry Gaelic too fast for Claire to catch any of it. Jamie's large hand closed around her arm in a firm grip. "Did he… bugger ye?"

“Did he...” Claire whipped around to face him, a startling anger coming over her as well. She shoved down an urge to slap him. He hadn’t. It wasn’t like Lord John had needed a map to her vagina, but if Jamie wanted to be an arse, she would let him stew. “So... what if he did?”

Jamie's mouth opened and closed several times like a landed fish. "I think I have a right to ken whose cock's been where inside of my own wife."

Heat burned in Claire’s cheeks, a vicious mix of embarrassment and anger. “I was his wife at the time. But if you must know, Lord John didn’t bugger me, you arsehole. Tell me, does that make it better or worse?”

That brought Jamie up short, his face going beet red. "Worse—nay, better. Not—merde." He broke off again, fumbled for more words, and for some reason only God was privy to, plowed on. "Better, if it means he didnae hurt ye. But worse if…" Jamie loosed an angry, wordless growl. "Aye, weel, and what did he do then?"

“We had sex, Jamie. We had sex the way people have sex. It was dark, and he took my clothes off, and I took his clothes off and he fucked me and I cried and I kissed him and he cried and we… I don’t know what else to tell you.” Claire looked away and was saying, “I’m sure he’s sorry he ever did it,” before she realized she’d said anything else at all.

"No' yet, he's not," Jamie grumbled.

“Jamie.” Claire latched onto his arm. “You promised.”

"Aye, and I havenae raised my hand to ye, have I? I didnae promise him a thing!" Jamie snatched his arm away with more force than was strictly necessary.

Claire had given thought to the possibility that Jamie would direct his anger at John, but seeing the barely contained fury in front of her now, the fear of it settled in cold and fast. Made her panic. “You can’t blame him for something I wanted. Something you once asked him for yourself. At least I thought you were dead. You knew I wasn’t when you offered yourself to him, and you sure as hell knew I wasn’t dead when I caught you with your tongue in his mouth in Jamaica!” She’d been furious at the time. She wasn’t furious now. Hadn’t been for years.

"That's entirely different!" Jamie roared. "I kissed him in Jamaica, aye. I was showing John gratitude in a way I kent he'd understand. But I didnae drop to my knees and suck his cock!"

“Several shared languages between you, I imagine you could have found at least one of them to simply say ‘thank you.’” Claire sighed, then felt her voice soften, “Jamie,you make me so sad sometimes. I honestly can’t tell if you’re jealous of John or of me. I’m not sure you know, but I’m damn sure you need to figure it out.”

Jamie said nothing. He just ground his teeth until the muscles in his jaw twitched and convulsed, stormed out of the cottage, and slammed the door shut behind him.

Claire stumbled to the nearest chair and sat down hard. She let her head fall into her hands. She couldn’t be certain where Jamie was going, but she wished it were the 1960s, and she could pick up the phone. She wished she could warn Lord John that he might have a murderously angry Scotsman on his hands.



When Jamie pounded on the door of Lord John’s house on Chestnut Street so hard the windows rattled, he hadn’t actually expected the housekeeper to open it. But open it she did, took one look at Jamie’s face, which hurt from scowling, and took a gasping breath preparatory to a scream. “Ye’re master’s at home, I take it.” Jamie pushed rudely past her into the house.

“H-he’s not accepting visitors, sir—”

“Aye, then. That doesnae include me, does it, John?” Jamie shouted from the foyer.

John stepped into the foyer, a smile flashing and then falling. “Jamie, you look upset. What’s happened? Is it Claire?”

“Aye, ‘tis.” Jamie cut his eyes briefly to the flustered, frightened housekeeper, then settled on Grey again. “But I dinnae think it something ye wish overheard.”

John frowned, turned towards his housekeeper, then back to Jamie. “My office upstairs should be fine.” With a hand, he directed Jamie to follow him.

Jamie followed John, counting his steps to keep the raging tempest of his emotions in check. He didn’t want to kill the man, after all. But he hadn’t been able to unclench his fists since he’d left Claire.

They entered John’s office, and he shut the door behind them. “Tell me. What’s wrong? How can I help?” Grey laid a hand on Jamie’s arm.

The muscles of Jamie’s arm went tense under John’s hand, and his jaw was starting to throb. “Oh, I think ye’ve helped enough.”

“What does that mean?” John shook his head, brow furrowed. “Jamie, please. Just talk to me.”

“I’ve just had a rather upsetting conversation wi’ my wife.” Jamie forced himself to take a full breath when he started to see spots in front of his eyes. “I dinnae suppose ye could have just talked to her though?”

John studied Jamie for a moment before an incomprehensible expression crossed his face. He took a step forward. “You know, don’t you? That I’ve had carnal knowledge of your wife.”

“Aye, I do,” Jamie bit out. “What I dinnae ken is why. Claire told me her reasons, but I’d like to hear yers now.”

“We thought you were dead.”

“No.” Jamie raised his hand to angle an index finger at John but stopped himself—barely. His clenched fist hung between them, forgotten. “That’s why ye thought it was alright, no’ why ye did it. I ken she couldnae force ye an’ ye didnae want it. Why did ye want to—and then subsequently—fuck my wife?”

John’s face reddened, eyes blown wide. “Because we weren’t fucking each other, we were fucking you!”

Something inside Jamie’s skull, buried far below conscious thought and reason, snapped. For one long, terrible moment, all he could see were the dripping stones of a dank prison cell. All he could smell was his own blood and terrified sweat. When the moment passed, Jamie’s right hand was fisted in John’s neckcloth, his left drawn back to strike.

Fear flashed in John’s eyes. He brought up his knee, which snapped hard into Jamie’s crotch. John gasped and stumbled back.

Jamie doubled over as pain exploded from his core. Everything hurt. He was blind, either because he’d screwed his eyes shut or they’d fallen out of his head, Jamie couldn’t tell. Air. He needed to breathe, but whatever was left of his balls were in direct opposition to that course of action. He managed a wheeze. Then another. He’d cupped one hand over himself on reflex and was relieved—and rather surprised—to find that his testicles hadn’t actually fallen off. “Jesus—” he croaked. “Mary and Bride.” Jamie’s vision had gone wavy. Christ, had Grey hit him that hard? But then he blinked again and his sight cleared, tears landing on his cheeks.

“Dear God, I truly don’t know what came over me.” John smoothed back his hair with his hand, but he still looked flush-cheeked and drawing in big mouthfuls of air. “Are you alright?”

“No—” Jamie took another wheezing gulp of air. “Aye?” He shook his head, then nodded, letting out a resigned sigh and straightening. Standing up hurt like hell and he grimaced and groaned, but managed to get upright again. The effort left him panting for breath—carefully—and he stared at John in shock. “Anyone ever tell ye that ye fight dirty?”

An awkward laugh squawked out of John’s mouth. “No. In fact, I normally do not resort to such tactics, but I reckon that reaction was born of unconscious self preservation.”

Realizing he’d been holding his breath again, Jamie blew it out and tried breathing normally. It hurt considerably less. He tipped his head to one side, then the other, conceding John’s point. “In that case, nice reflexes.”

“Perhaps, I should take this opportunity to flee, but I do want you to know that Claire and I never meant to hurt you. The night we… she asked me not to let her mourn you alone. You must know I am no threat to your relationship with Claire.”

John hadn’t offered him a seat, but Jamie’s knees felt watery and collapsing in John’s office would be more mortifying than the shame of sitting. Grey had just kneed him in the balls, after all. Jamie figured that qualified as an automatic suspension of certain rules of etiquette. The chair nearest him had a reasonably thick cushion, and he lowered himself gingerly into it. “Nay, John, I ken that. I was worriedt she’d no’ told me the whole truth about it. That she thought I’d do exactly what I tried to do and she wanted to protect ye.” Jamie shook his head. “It was wretched of me to think it, and I’m… I’m sorry.”

John hesitated but took a step towards Jamie. “You needn’t apologize to me. Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps she didn’t share everything about that night, about who we had on our minds when we were together in that way, because she did want to protect me. She knows how offensive you find my feelings for you. But it is my responsibility to protect her, not hers to protect me, so if you must be angry, be angry at me.”

He blinked up at John, sudden shame and some surprisingly powerful hurt knotting in his guts. “I wouldnae raise a hand to her. No’ even for this.” He shook his head and looked away, unable to bear the look in John’s eyes, like a resignation to some terrible doom. “I didnae think ye’d forced yerself on her, and she said as much. But even so, I thought ye may have… hurt her.” Jamie dug the edge of one thumbnail under his other, picking at some imaginary dirt. “But she said ye didnae bugger her. I should have taken her word for it.”

“Jamie, even if for some reason she’d wanted me to and I had, I would have made certain I did not hurt her.” John’s head tilted, a deep line appearing between his brows. “You do know it doesn’t have to hurt.”

Jamie stopped just short of blurting out, Not in my experience, but clamped his mouth shut at the last second. Feeling rather like an idiot but finding he desperately needed to understand, he asked, “How?”

“You take your time. You go as slowly as you need to. You use oil of some kind, you can start with fingers before you move on to more.” John shook his head. “Sorry, I… that may have been a question you did not actually want me to answer.”

Actually, Jamie didn’t want him to stop answering it. John spoke matter-of-factly but Jamie couldn’t help imagining the experiences that had led him to this knowledge. “Nay, I did want an answer.” His heart hammered in his chest, his wounded crotch apparently willing to let bygones be bygones. “It’s truly as simple as that?”

“Mostly. It helps if you trust the other person. It helps,” John’s voice was a low, warm whisper now. “When you want to let them in.”

Jamie dug his fingernails into the side of his thigh, hoping John didn’t notice—or that he did. He couldn’t be sure anymore. What he was sure about was that he wanted John to keep talking about this.

I can’t tell if you’re jealous of John or me.

Trust made sense. Jamie couldn’t think of another soul he would trust with this conversation. “I cannae imagine what that’s like. To want it, I mean.”

“I know. I know you don’t and if my fantasies, my imagination, with Claire have upset you, I am sorry. Trust me, I do know you don’t want that and would never… I do know.”

When he looked right at the issue, actually looked at it, Jamie wasn’t upset about John’s feelings at all. But he was trying to end the conversation and Jamie was upset by that. He tried to relax, tried to soften his expression, but couldn’t be sure he succeeded. “Nay, I’m no’ upset. I’m trying to understand what it’s like. To… want that.”

“I… I can tell you what it’s like when I want that… it’s not often that I do, you see, only because it does take that trust to make it feel exceptional. It feels like… Christ, Jamie. This isn’t something you can explain. I’m standing here and I’m trying to. Trying to tell you what it’s like when a man slowly opens you up with his fingers. Sometimes he’ll do it with his mouth, his tongue… now that feels… remarkable, but no, I don’t think anything I can say to you will help you understand.” John drew in a breath, obviously averting his eyes. “To truly understand how that can feel pleasurable, it must be experienced.”

Jamie’s mouth had gone dry and it took some effort to work up enough saliva to swallow. Maybe years ago and a lifetime away, he could have written this off as a passing curiosity. But not here, not with the road they’d walked together stretching behind them for more than half their lives. He watched John avoid his gaze, studied the subtle blush that tinted his cheeks. He’d lied to Claire, had been lying to himself for years. Jamie hadn’t kissed John in Jamaica just to show him gratitude. She was right, he could have said thank you or merci or danke. But Jamie had kissed John because he couldn’t say ich liebe dich or je t'aime or I love you.

He stood then, and John was so close, well within arms reach. Jamie laid one hand on John’s cheek, drawing his attention back to his face. Bending, he pressed his lips to John’s, gentle, patient, a little unsure. “Show me?”

John stared, mouth dropped open, that line between his eyes growing even deeper. “Show… Do you mean this? You can’t mean this. Do you?” John laid a hand on Jamie’s chest, fingers gripping into the fabric. “Because if you do mean it, I’ll show you. God help me, I’ll show you just how good it can be.”

Jamie nodded, going in for another kiss. “Aye, I do. I trust ye, John.”

“Any time you want to stop. Just say the word and we stop. Any time, you hear me? Now follow me. My bed chambers are the next room over and if we’re going to do this, you are going to be comfortable enough that I can take my time.”

Jamie knew what it felt like to want it, of course, or rather, he was starting to realize he did. It had started in Ardsmuir, when Jamie's whole world had been a gaping, festering wound. When John had touched his hand, the tempting comfort he'd felt had been so immediate and intense that it had frightened him. It hadn't gone away, the John-shaped hole in his heart. It had wept when John had turned him down in the Lake District, the relief he'd felt that he wouldn't know the pain of being taken drowned rapidly by the tragic ache of rejection. Kissing John the first time had only made it worse.

And that's what this was, wasn’t it? The bone-deep need for John to fill the hollow spaces that Jamie’s fear had kept empty for so long. There were echoes of it when he kissed John, when he wished that he would press the advance with his tongue, so that Jamie could feel even some small part of the man inside of himself.

Following John into his rooms, Jamie’s eyes settled on the neatly-made bed situated in front of the hearth. And all Jamie’s reflection ground to a halt, replaced with a single thought: Was this where it had happened? It took little effort for his mind to alter the scene… a trail of discarded clothes, leading to a heap of rumpled bed linens. John on top of Claire, making her his. Giving her comfort and release. Claire knew what John’s naked skin felt like against hers. She knew what it felt like to be taken by him, to find pleasure in his body. Thanks to his own cowardly fear of an old pain, Jamie didn’t know those things yet. But oh God, he wanted to.

John shut the door, then turned to face Jamie. Their eyes met, and John did not avert his gaze, but held it firmly as he closed the distance between them. John ran the backs of his fingers down the buttons of Jamie’s waistcoat. For the first time, it was John who leaned up and kissed Jamie. Quick. Soft. Their mouths parted, barely an inch between their lips. “Jamie,” John whispered, pinching a waistcoat button between his fingers. “Oh Jamie.” John’s mouth moved to Jamie’s cheek then down to the pulse in his throat.

Jamie's breath caught in his throat, John's warm lips on his skin sending jolts of excitement and desire through him. He found John's hand with his, worked his fingers under the cuff of his sleeve just to touch flesh he couldn't see yet. "Tell me, John," Jamie said, a rough whisper in John's ear. "Tell me what ye imagined." He could smell John's hair, the fading trace of his perspiration, bitter from their brief altercation. "Show me yer fantasy."

John kept kissing Jamie’s neck, popping open buttons, as he breathed words warm against his skin. “I imagined taking your clothes off, seeing every part of you bared to me. Miles of naked skin that I could make sing with pleasure.” John pushed Jamie’s coat off his shoulders, then his waistcoat. Warm fingers trailed down the lines of Jamie’s neck to the hollow of his throat and then down his chest. He grabbed Jamie’s shirt and slid it up from his trousers. “Dear God.” John gasped. His hands trembled against Jamie’s stomach. “Is this real? I can’t tell,” he mumbled. “I’ve had this dream so many times.”

Jamie covered both of John’s hands with his, steadying them. He bent and kissed John on the mouth, letting it linger. “Shall I pinch ye?” He lifted both of their hands then, urging John to finish what he’d started with his shirt.

“You may do with me, Jamie Fraser, whatever you please.” John tossed Jamie’s shirt to the side, then let his gaze fall down the length of Jamie’s chest. Then John’s fingers hooked onto the waistband of his breeches. Eyes on Jamie’s, he began to work the fabric over the rise of Jamie’s arse.

Watching John take his time undressing him was falling and flying, too slow and yet over too soon. His hands trailed sparks over Jamie’s skin, set his insides to flutter like mad, wanting more contact, more warmth, more connection. He had to steady himself with a hand on John’s arm to keep his balance.

John was still fully dressed when he directed Jamie to the bed. He pressed his hand on Jamie’s chest, encouraging him to sit on the edge of the mattress. John stroked his hand through Jamie’s hair, removing the tie and letting it fall down around his shoulders. John kissed him again. This time, deep and wet, and with a startling force of passion.

Jamie grabbed a handful of John's jacket, shoving it clumsily off his shoulders and to the floor. John's tongue was in his mouth, insistent, urgent, and Jamie could do little more than admit him, suckling on it now and then whenever the angle was right. He fumbled with the buttons of John's waistcoat, but kept getting distracted by the urge to touch, his hands wandering over all of John that he could reach. He broke off the kiss long enough to gasp, "Tell me more," before diving back in.

John assisted Jamie in removing his clothes until John had nothing left on but his breeches, laces half open. “I want to lay you back on this bed. I want to spread your legs and take your prick into my mouth the way I’ve always imagined. And then I want to kiss down until I can spread you open with my lips and my tongue. I promise you, as strange as it may sound, it feels wonderful to be kissed there. There’s nothing else quite like it.” John shivered then leaned forward, encouraging Jamie’s body farther onto the bed with his own. “What do you think, my dear Jamie? Will you allow me to show you that?”

"Oh God, aye," Jamie groaned, letting John press him into the mattress. He'd allow John to do just about anything he wanted so long as he kept talking like that. John's bare back was heated and firm under his hands. His body was all straight lines and hard muscle, and Jamie couldn't help bucking up against him. John's breeches were soft against the head of Jamie's cock, but maddeningly not-skin.

John traced a line of gentle kisses across Jamie’s stomach. His breath was warm, yet still made gooseflesh on Jamie’s skin. “Christ,” John muttered, then took the head of Jamie’s prick between his lips.

Jamie gasped and nearly yelped, only stopping it when he locked eyes with John, and a fresh wave of want went through him. He had to feel John—on top of him, around him, inside of him. All the ways he'd been too afraid to explore, couldn't bring himself to acknowledge before. Jamie spread his legs for John without shame.

John kept swirling his tongue around the tip of Jamie’s cock over and over, then he took it all the way in, deeper than anything Jamie had ever experienced. Then the tightness and warmth ended all at once, and John was pushing Jamie’s hips up enough so that he could run a gentle finger to that place that had never before been touched with kindness. “Lovely,” John whispered seemingly to himself before his mouth became wonderfully occupied, unable to say anything else.

At first, Jamie froze, the sensation startling and entirely unfamiliar. But as he settled into it, grew accustomed to the idea that John was lavishing such attention on him, he found himself fixating on every detail. Jamie couldn't determine precisely what it was John did to him, but he lost himself in the feeling of John's wet, confident tongue. It didn't matter exactly what John was doing to him, didn't matter that Jamie couldn’t have duplicated it or explained it. John certainly knew what he was doing and his words remarkable and wonderful and pleasurable had not been an exaggeration. "John—oh God," Jamie groaned, head tossed back, but only for a moment. He couldn't take his eyes off John for long.

John pulled away, lips swollen and cheeks pink. “I still can’t believe this is real.” He stood and walked over to his chest of drawers. John removed a vial from it and then returned to his place between Jamie’s legs. “I want to put my fingers inside you. I’ll start slow, and I’ll add more as I feel you open up for me. Talk to me if you can, Jamie. Tell me what you’re thinking.” John drizzled the contents of the vial onto his fingers and then slid his fingers over tender flesh. He just touched at first. Just touched for a long while and then a steady finger breached Jamie.

It was all at once frightening and yet exactly what he wanted. John was incredibly gentle with him, the press of his finger slow and cautious. “It feels… odd,” Jamie murmured, breathless. “But ye’re right, slow is good.” He had to pause to take a couple gasping breaths, a rather pleasant prickling sensation erupting over his body that wasn’t precisely gooseflesh, but something like it. “I like the way it feels, slow as ye’re doing it.” The tiniest movement of John’s arm caught Jamie’s eye and he tracked it, let his gaze rake over what he could see of John’s body. The angles and straight lines of him, the places with rolling muscle that seemed to soften those lines, yet made him strong and powerful. Beautiful. “I like that ye’re doing it,” he whispered.

“I quite like that myself,” John said, then brought a warm kiss to Jamie’s inner thigh. He poured more from the vial onto his fingers. “Take a deep breath,” he said, and slid another finger in beside the first so, so slow Jamie barely noticed it was happening at all. “How’s that? Is it too much? Tell me if it is and I’ll go back to just one.”

Jamie’s heart hammered wildly in his chest, some mad concoction of arousal and nervous anticipation. “I cannae breathe,” he said, stupidly because he was clearly breathing just fine, if rather labored. “It doesnae hurt. I’m alright.” The quilt beneath him was soft and he curled his fingers into it. The sensation of fullness was overwhelming, but he wanted to let John in, and as he’d said, it got easier. “Tell me what ye’ll do next, John. I like the way yer voice sounds when ye talk to me like that.”

“I’m going to keep touching you here with two fingers, pressing in and out.” John twisted his fingers, it seemed. Curled them, perhaps. “Search for that place inside that makes this all even better. Occasionally, I’ll lean up and I’ll take you into my mouth.” John did as he said, swallowing around his prick. He made delicious muffled moans as he still moved his fingers inside. “Then, I’m going to gently stretch you, spreading my fingers wider and wider until you’re open enough to take my cock inside you.” Again, John did as he said. It was patient, gentle, but still intense.

It was so very much. Jamie couldn’t have formed sentences if he’d been so inclined. He wasn’t. John’s words, his tone, the way Jamie could have closed his eyes and heard him smirking at him. But Jamie couldn’t close his eyes, he had to see everything, couldn’t take his eyes off John. Except when he touched—something—and Jamie thought he’d fall apart. His back arched and his eyes rolled heavenward, quite outside his control. But he surrendered to it, trusted John to make it good, to make Jamie his.

“There it is,” John said, sounding enraptured. He searched the spot out again, and it was just as glorious as the first time. He found it once more and one more time after that. “Lovely. Just…” John let out a low breath, then slipped his fingers out. “My God. I’ve never wanted anything more than I want you right now. I think you’re ready to take my cock. You’re so open. Are you, Jamie? Ready for that?”

Jamie might have agreed to anything in that moment, he was so swept up by the unbelievable ecstasy that John lavished on him. But John wasn't asking him for just anything, he wanted to take him, claim him, make Jamie his. It transcended want and desire at this point. Jamie needed John as surely as he needed his next gasping breath. "Aye, John." Jamie reached out for him, desperate to get a hand on his arm, leg, chest, anything. "Aye, I'm ready. I need ye now. Only, dinnae stop talking to me."

John laid atop Jamie and crushed his mouth in a searing kiss. For a moment, it was nothing but those kisses and their bodies sprawled together on John’s bed. Then John lifted himself off and stood at the foot of the bed. Slowly, he took down his own breeches, revealing his own skin, marked and scarred and marvelous. His hard prick curved out in front of him, the entirety of the scene before Jamie was quite something to behold.

Then John took the vial again and poured the shimmering substance over his cock. “I’ve been waiting decades for this. To be inside you. To give myself to you in this way, to know you, to see a glimpse of your soul. I’ve waited and I never minded. I’d wait a thousand years for you, Jamie. A thousand years and a day more.”

With that, John swept over him like a breeze, pushing up Jamie’s knees and fitting between his open legs. There was the dull pressure of John’s wet prick against him. “I’m going to take you now,” John whispered and then did as he said he would.

For one, agonizing moment, Jamie’s body resisted. But John persisted, pushed past the stubbornness, and it was completion. The physical pleasure of it, the feeling of John breaching him so intimately, the rapture of him doing tenderly out of love what Jamie had only ever known as pain was absolute. A connection between them snapped into focus in that moment. And that John-shaped hole that Jamie had carried in his heart since he’d been too afraid to let this gentle man show him kindness in the darkness of a moldering Scottish prison, for now at least, was too full to ache.

“Oh, John,” Jamie gasped. His blunt fingernails dug into John’s shoulder blades, clung to him. “I minded,” he murmured.

John kissed him on the mouth, drawing them even closer together. “No more waiting then, I say. For either of us.” He pulled back out, almost all the way, and then slid slowly back in deep. “I love feeling every inch of this, of you taking me in like this. It feels exquisite. You’re so goddamn warm. Christ.”

To be taken in this way, for John to claim him so thoroughly… Jamie lost himself in the feeling of it, of John on top of him, inside him, around him. Jamie gasped and moaned as John fucked him gently into the plush feather bed. "God. John." He wrapped his arms around John's back, clung to him, as if he could draw him completely into himself. Now that he was here, Jamie never wanted to let him go again. "I cannae tell where ye begin and I end anymore." He raised up enough to kiss him, opening his mouth, begging for John's tongue just to have more of the man inside him.

Somehow John knew just what Jamie was asking for and he filled Jamie’s mouth with his tongue. John pulled away, just enough that their lips still brushed. “Do you see now?” John asked as he settled as deep inside Jamie as possible. “You wanted to understand how it can be good. Do you understand?”

Jamie let out a low moan when John found that mysterious flash pan place inside him. "Aye, I understand. Fuck, John, it feels incredible—ye're incredible." He kissed him again, hasty, desperate. Already glutted on the physical pleasure, entirely drunk off of John, yet starving for more.

And John gave him more. Gave him everything as all thoughts of word and sense melted away, leaving them both open and vulnerable. Jamie could sense John’s soul, as he always thought he would bared so completely to John and John to him. John’s heart achingly split open, bleeding out the three words Jamie had always known to be true, even when he’d denied it, admonished it. Three words lived but never spoken aloud. Until now.

John’s words fell directly into Jamie’s bones and settled there, their echo tumbling from his own lips. “I love you,” Jamie whispered. He kissed John again and repeated it, over and over. “I love ye, John. Oh God, what a fool I’ve been, to think that I didnae want ye. John.” It felt good to say it, to find the right words after so many years of the wrong ones. The feel of John’s name on his lips, debauched and breathless, was heaven. Jamie canted his hips, thrusting up against John, the head of his leaking cock sliding against John’s stomach. He gasped and groaned and did it again.

“How I’ve longed to hear those words. I thought I would die never having heard them. Jamie, Jamie.” His name was a shiver on John’s lips. “I’m so close. I can’t hold on much longer.”

“So am I. John.” Jamie thrust up again and again, finding more than enough friction. “I dinnae want it to end. But, John, dinnae hold back, mo leannan.” Everything in him went taut all at once, stretching, contracting. He cried John’s name as he spilled between them, digging his blunt nails into John’s back, pressing his open mouth to his shoulder.

John cried out Jamie’s name and followed behind, emptying himself into Jamie. Collapsing on top of him, John gasped for breath as he buried his face into Jamie. For a while there was only silence and breathing. Then, John slipped out of him and with a kiss against his neck, he rolled off Jamie and landed beside him on the mattress. John looked up at the ceiling. He was still breathing heavily as he laid a hand on his chest. “I’m still waiting to wake up.”

Jamie rolled onto his side, pressed close against John. He hooked an arm and a leg over him, not willing yet to not be touching him. “Ye’ll have to fall asleep first.” Jamie laid his hand against John’s cheek, drew his gaze back to him. The joy of looking into John’s eyes with nothing but a few scant inches of pillow and new honesty between them had Jamie grinning like a fool. “‘Twas no dream, John.” Jamie twisted the hand stuck awkwardly between them and pinched John’s side between his thumb and forefinger to prove his point.

“No it wasn’t, was it? It was far too perfect to be a dream.” But then something dark flashed across John’s face—a worry obscuring like a cloud the brilliant sunlight of the previous moments. “Dear God, what will Claire say about this? Us?”

“She’ll say,” a woman’s voice, Claire’s voice, came from the doorway, and for a moment, Jamie’s heart stopped. She was leaning against the frame, lips tilted to one side on her lovely, flushed face. “That, next time, she should be invited.”