Shiro was going on and on about the proper stance and lifting techniques and how important posture was, but all Lance noticed was the way his mouth moved as he spoke. And how his lips - which Lance knew from experience were warm and soft, if not a little chapped - formed around the words.
Oh, and when his tongue peeked out to quickly wet his lips, Lance nearly swooned.
He had it bad. He knew that. Thank you very much.
But he couldn’t help it. Shiro was just so…Shiro. Sweet and kind. Big and strong. He could be strict - like when it came to Lance’s personal training at the gym - but, overall, he was a big ol’ softy. And he was super sexy to boot. With those broad shoulders and perfectly kissable lips.
“So, do you think you’re ready to start?” Shiro asked, pulling Lance from his thoughts.
“Hmm?” He blinked, tearing his eyes away from Shiro’s mouth and meeting the other’s gaze. “What’s that?”
Shiro sighed. Not the overly annoyed and frustrated kind that Lance so often pulled from their other boyfriend. In fact, Shiro’s was almost fond, his lips curving up in a soft smile.
“You weren’t paying attention, were you?” he asked with a slight shake of his head. “Let me try again. Where did you drift off?”
But instead of answering that question, Lance replied with one of his own. “Is it bad that I really want to kiss you right now?” he asked, fluttering his eyelashes innocently.
Shiro’s smile faltered for a moment, his eyebrows shooting up to his hairline. Then, a telltale pink began to dust his cheeks, quickly darkening and staining the rest of his face, along with his neck almost down to his chest. “Wh-What?!” he stammered.
It was cute how innocent their boyfriend could be. Well, not all the time, but…
“Sorry,” Lance said, not sounding apologetic in the least. “I just can’t help it, you know?”
At that, Shiro’s gaze dropped to Lance’s lips and he visibly swallowed.
Hook. Line. And sinker. And Lance didn’t even like fishing.
He walked closer, wrapping his arms around Shiro’s neck and jutting his lower lip out cutely. “Is that no good?”
Lance could practically hear the older man’s inner monologue. ‘We’re at the gym. Public place. Patience yields focus,’ on repeat. But Lance distracted him, raking his blunt fingernails over Shiro’s scalp and reveling in the shaky sigh it elicited.
He was about to open his mouth, say something that would be the metaphorical cherry on top, but then Shiro’s lips were against his. Lance smiled into the kiss, slipping his eyes closed and pressing closer.
They could use a rest day, anyway.
I wrote more Gym AU because I’m weeeeeaaaaak. XD Keith probably walks in on them and shakes his head before making his way over to the free weights.
It used to be said that you could always tell a magician by his hands. In fact this was still said, but in modern enlightened times the words had something different behind them. Most people had forgotten that the saying had once referred to scars.
The hands of the Lord Rector of the Most Ancient Iron University of Magic were pale and fair and smooth as paper, unmarked by anything save a delicate tattoo of interlocking rings running down one forefinger. He held these hands carefully around his white porcelain teacup as he smiled graciously at the man sitting across from him.
“I am terribly sorry that I must decline your request like this,” he said. “A pity. It’s a very good letter. That is to say, very convincing. But I’m afraid we simply cannot allow it.”
The man sitting across from him wore gloves. They were a pale lilac color, and rather threadbare.
Previous installment:Victories (Jamie finally gets out of the hospital).
“Sassenach, please may I take this damned thing off? It’s tickling my nose something fierce…and not being able to see where we’re going doesna make the urge to vomit any less acute.”
His wife—or the voice of his wife to his left—came back with a bright, “No, you may not!”
“Sass—” Jamie felt his stomach lurch and he clamped his mouth shut to focus on breathing through his tickled nose, damned be his wife for it.
“You won’t have to wear it long,” she assured him, reaching over to rub his shoulder. “We’re almost there, I promise. I just don’t want the surprise to be ruined!”
“What if ye go ahead and tell me now,” he wheedled, groaning and gripping the sides of his seat tighter as they thudded across a pothole in the road, “and I’ll promise to be verra enthusiastic indeed in my reaction?”
“You can be as enthusiastic as you want… when we get there!”
Jamie bit back his response and concentrated on commiserating with the singer from the Record Mrs. Byrd had played ad nauseum yesterday:
Sometimes I live in the country Sometimes I live in town Sometimes I have a great notion To jump into the river and drown
It was Friday: nearly a full week had gone by without any of the Frasers being ill, getting hospitalized, missing work, or otherwise being struck by the fates. Jamie, supported when needed by Mrs. Byrd (who came for a part of each day to clean, cook, and tend the house), had minded Brianna for the entirety of the week, and would gladly have done so again today, except that his wife (wearing sand-colored trousers, and a shirt of garish plaid) had woken him that morning saying that she had “a surprise!” for him.
It was her day off from the hospital, and consequently, would normally have been Penelope’s as well, except Claire had arranged otherwise. With plans for Brianna to stay at home with Mrs. Byrd, they had loaded themselves (Jamie wearing the prescribed blue jeans) into that venerable lady’s Van—no, no, CAR: the small ones are Cars—and off they’d jolted down the roads away from the city to God knew where.
For the first twenty minutes, it had been the normal business of fixing his eye on a point straight ahead and endeavoring all his energy on trying not to be sick. Then, she’d tossed him a red handkerchief and blithely told him to blindfold himself. It must be her latent training from the English army, he’d thought wryly, to think it all fine and natural for “a surprise!” to necessitate treating the beneficiary like a damned abductee.
She was right, though, that they hadn’t long to go. Not five minutes later, Jamie felt the Car slowing to a halt.
“No, no, don’t take the blindfold off!” she said sharply as he reached up to do just that. “Sit right there, alright?” There came the sound of Claire’s door opening, then closing with a slam, followed by his own opening. Claire grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the Car to his feet. “Now, put these on—”
“Oh for God’s SAKE, Sass—”
But she was already clamping something soft over each ear. Apparently it was some sort of ear-hat meant to squeeze his brains out through his eye sockets.
“Now take my hand and come with me,” came her muffled voice.
This is the woman God has given ye, Jamie, jailer though she may be.
Blind and now deaf, Jamie obeyed, and allowed her to lead him across a graveled path that crunched under his feet. He tried an experimental sniff for clues, but damn it all, he was still unable to smell much of anything upon the air due to the lingering sniffle from his illness. He sighed and relaxed his shoulders. Whither thou goest, I shall go, mo nighean donn.
“Alright!” she said finally, stopping so suddenly that he ran into her and nearly toppled. She whipped off the ear stoppers, then the blindfold, such that his senses were overwhelmed by the inrush of sound and light.
“THERE!” she was saying excitedly, flushed and beaming, her arm sweeping wide to indicate the scene.
Jamie was standing in the middle of a broad annex, surrounded by a half dozen huge, white barns. Horses—dozens of them—were visible all around, ridden by youngsters, led by grooms, trotting about in paddocks, leaping over white rails in larger pens, and even more tasks that Jamie could not properly place. The whole place was positively abuzz with activity, and all of it having to do with huge, magnificent horses.
“Fernacre belongs to Marian Harper and her husband, Tom,” Claire was explaining rapidly as she led him forward toward one of the barns. “Marian from the hospital, you remember? They do a bit of everything here: boarding, lessons for children, jumping training and competitions; anything the well-to-do of Boston care to do with their prize horses, they can do it here!”
She stopped in the entryway to one of the barns, which alone housed ten beautiful beasts. “They do also cater to less competitive folk who just want to enjoy being on horseback now and again, so, I thought we could spend the day riding! That is—only if you want to…” she added hastily when he did not at once respond, her smile faltering, “I thought—something outdoors might be—you know, after being cooped up in hospital and being so miserable with the flu, and—”
He grabbed her around the legs, just under the buttocks, and hoisted her—shrieking—into the air. He twirled them around a few times until they were both laughing foolishly. She was clutching the back of his neck as if for dear life but was beaming down at him with her bottom lip caught between her teeth. “Like it?”
He let her slide slowly down his body, then, though only far enough that her mouth was within reach. He kissed her, long and thoroughly, not caring about the giggles and looks they were getting from passing folk.
From the way her chest was heaving when he at last released her, Jamie gathered that his reaction had indeed been satisfactorily enthusiastic.
Jamie pulled Cornflower’s reins sharply to whirl around, both of them heaving, but so very alive as they surveyed the scene from the crest of the hill.
He and Claire had ridden for hours and hours up and down the wooded trails surrounding Fernacre, enjoying the glorious day and a wee picnic by a shaded brook. In addition to the outing itself, Claire had gifted him with a fine pair of heeled leather boots and a broad hat, so he looked “like a proper Kansas Cow Boy!” He did indeed feel like such a being: exotic and strange, to him…and wonderful.
Claire had turned back a quarter of an hour ago, tired and needing water. Small wonder, as her mount had not taken to her as readily as Cornflower had submitted to Jamie; in fact, Claire had had twice the work as himself, by nature of the beast constantly needing to be redirected from its whims. Claire had encouraged Jamie to stay out as long as he wished, though. He’d meant at first to demur and accompany her back to the barns; but when the wooded path had opened up just that moment onto an open, hilly pasture, Claire had given him a grin and a “Go on, then, Fraser,” and he’d been carried on a wind out and away into the sea of grass.
He couldn’t even express how good it felt to ride again. His every muscle tingled with life, ached with the magnificence of heavy use. His chest felt broad and completely full with air for the first time in ages. He’d last been on a horse on the ride from Lallybroch to Craigh na Dun, but there had been no happiness in that ride. Years before that—after the confines of life in the cave— there had been the Rising, during which he’d plodded from battle to battle on Donas; but the last time he’d ridden for pleasure? Jamie honestly couldn’t recall it. This, though…this was joy. Feeling the wind in his hair as he pushed the horse to her breaking point, riding not in pursuit, nor in flight, or of necessity, just because he wished to.
He felt utterly renewed; and it wasn’t just from the illness or the shock of hospitalization. Being outdoors and riding was healing something deep within Jamie; something he couldn’t quiet express. He felt right. He felt…known.
Jamie leaned down and whispered to the mare, “What say you, lass? Can we beat yon flock of starlings to the other end of the pasture?”
Cornflower snorted in a “ye’ll be doubting me then, wee fool?” kind of way, and was flying down the hill in a moment, both of them pounding for the horizon.
By the time he reached the stables once more, Claire’s headstrong mare had already been rubbed down and deposited back in her stall. Not seeing his headstrong wife about, Jamie led Cornflower into the cool dark of the stable block and began removing her gear, waving off the lad who had scurried forward to do so.
It was a well-appointed barn, with (to Jamie’s eye) luxurious finishes, a dozen-odd occupied stalls on one side, and a large indoor paddock on the other. Standing in the paddock were two men, one of whom Jamie recognized as Marian’s husband, Tom. Claire had pointed him out across the way earlier that morning, though since he had been occupied at the time, they’d not had the chance to be introduced.
Evidently, it was a very busy day for Tom, for he was occupied once more, seemingly negotiating the purchase of the chestnut-brown yearling being ridden around the enclosure by a man with sandy-blond hair. The latter was yelling loudly across his shoulder as he rode, rather forcefully extolling the many qualities and impeccable pedigree of the animal.
Something about this exchange was wearing on Tom, for he raised his hands suddenly and shook his head, snapping, “For God’s sake, relax, O’Neill, I get it: he’s a good horse.”
“So shall we decide on—”
Tom was already heading toward the gate. “Give me a few minutes to smoke and think on it, for chrissake.”
Shaking his head and muttering to himself, Tom made his way toward the barn door located directly next to the stall where Jamie stood grooming Cornflower. With an enormously weary sigh, Tom leaned his back against the door frame, lit a Cigarette from a box in his breast pocket, and took in a deep drag.
Jamie gave the man a minute or two in peace, looked once more across to the chestnut mount, made up his mind, and finally said aloud, “Begging your pardon, but ye willna be wanting that one, Mr. Harper.”
Tom jumped and dropped his cigarette. “Oh, er—I—I’m sorry…Have we met?” The man looked genuinely embarrassed at the thought of not recalling their acquaintance.
“Not properly, no: James Fraser, sir,” Jamie said hastily, suppressing the lifelong instinct to bow and opting instead for a cordial incline of the head. “Claire Beauchamp is my wife.”
Comprehension dawned over the man’s kind features. “Good Lord, of course! The Great Scot who came back from the dead!” He came forward eagerly to clasp Jamie’s hand. “Wonderful to meet you, really! Did Corny treat you well?” he said, with a nod at the mare.
“Aye, she did, that,” Jamie said, rubbing Corny on the nose. “And you’ve a verra fine establishment, here, Mr. Harper.”
“Please, call me Tom. And it’s seen finer days, I’ll tell you that much,” he said with a grimace and another pull on the cigarette, which he had frugally retrieved from the ground. “Ridiculously short-staffed with all-time high in demand for boarders and lessons. Don’t have an effing moment to take a shit in peace, s’cuse my French.”
Jamie smiled, and after giving Tom leave to call him by his own first name, said, “Ye do seem that wee bit harried, if you dinna mind my remarking upon it.”
Tom laughed mirthlessly. “Harried and in need of a stiff drink.” The man suddenly furrowed his brows. “What did you mean, ‘I won’t be wanting that one’? Did you mean the thoroughbred, there?”
Jamie nodded. “I dinna think he’d do ye much good, if it’s breeding or strenuous sporting you have in mind for him, down the road.”
Tom raised his eyebrows. “No? He’s of prime stock from a top competitor of mine…”
“Aye, he’s a bonnie lad, to be sure, verra well-built and wi’ a lovely coat and teeth, to be sure.”
“So…?” Tom said invitingly, but with a pointed look that suggested Jamie get to the point.
Jamie closed Cornflower’s stall and walked over to the paddock fence where the blond man stood with his horse, impatient. “If I may?” Jamie said to the man.
Reluctantly, the seller brought the mount over to Jamie and Tom. Jamie entered the enclosure and jumped smoothly up into the saddle, taking the beast a circuit or two at a moderate trot. All the while, he spoke low in Gaelic to the creature. Oh, and you’re a bonnie one, lad, and sweet to be sure. Dinna pay heed to the words I’ll speak against ye. You’re a worthy beast, no matter what, aye?
He stopped once more in front of the two men, and gestured for Tom to come closer. “Hear how heavily he’s breathing? No yearling should be snorting and heaving like that after a naught but wee jaunt around the paddock. I wager he’ll have a weak heart or some other ailment, despite his fine build.”
“Well, son of a gun,” Tom said as Jamie dismounted, nodding as he examined the horse again. “I’m so plumb worn-out I didn’t even notice, but I think you might be right!”
The seller looked livid and as though he’d like to strangle Jamie with his bare hands. He also was not nearly quick enough to offer a rebuttal.
This was not lost on Tom, either, who turned to the seller with a smug, “Well, you heard the man, Fred. Come back next week with some better investments for me, huh?”
Tom turned away from the enraged O’Neill and looked at Jamie as though he were the aforementioned stiff drink. “Could I convince you to check out the rest of the herd with me, Jamie? If I’ve purchased any more weak links in my exhaustion haze these last few weeks, I’d like to know about them head-on!”
“Tell me truly: did ye plan it, Sassenach?”
“Hmm?” she said, looking up from the road. “Plan what? The trip to the barns? Of course I did! We didn’t end up here by accident, did we?”
“No, not that. Did ye have it settled wi’ Tom that he should take pity on me and give me a job?”
She looked genuinely affronted. “No! Jamie, no, I swear!” she said, turning to look him in the eye for a moment. “I’ll admit that I did have it in the back of my mind that Fernacre and working with the horses might be to your liking, but I didn’t mention the notion to Marian, let alone Tom!” She gave him a sudden beaming smile. “That was completely on your own merit, my love!”
Tom hadn’t been exaggerating about his dire lack of staff. In the past three weeks, he’d had two key employees resign for family reasons. After seeing firsthand the extent of Jamie’s knowledge and experience with horse, he’d offered him a job on the spot…and after a quick conference with Claire, who was glowing with the news, Jamie had accepted.
“You’re no’ ashamed, then, to tell folk you’re marrit to a stable boy?” He tried to say it with the air of making a joke, though he did genuinely wish to be assured of the answer.
“Stable boy, pah! My husband is a chief manager at one of Boston’s most sought-after equestrian clubs! That’s no small potatoes, darling!”
Jamie laughed, taken aback by the strange expression.
“But even if you were a stable boy,” she said fondly, reaching over and taking his hand. “I married you the first time thinking you were nothing more than a stable boy and an outlaw, didn’t I?”
Jamie squeezed her hand. “Ye didna have much choice in the matter, as I recall,” he teased.
“Ha!” she said, raising an eyebrow, “believe you me, if I’d really, truly not wanted to marry you, I would’ve put my foot down.”
“Well,” Jamie said, reaching across to squeeze her knee, now, “when I’m feeling down on myself in future, I’ll always remember how ye chose marriage to me over going to prison. ‘Tis verra flattering to a person’s manly sensibilities.”
She rolled her eyes and snorted in good humor.
“But truly, love, are you excited about this?” she asked a minute later. “I don’t mean to make you feel anything more than you do, but–”
“Aye. Truly, I feel most pleased about it, mo chridhe.”
He did. This kind of work (supporting Tom in overseeing the care and procurement of the Fernacre stock as a whole) was precisely of the honest, simple, and peaceful sort he and Claire had discussed that first morning of their honeymoon. He felt confident that he could both enjoy and be proud of it, and if it helped support his family as well, it was heaven-sent.
On top of all these considerations, he felt a thrill of true joy at the thought of teaching his precious Brianna to ride at Fernacre, in a few years’ time. Still more, he dreamed of perhaps having her spend afternoons with him there regularly, once she was old enough not to need constant supervision. To think of his nighean ruiadh growing strong and capable as the years passed, there with him in the open air, in his world…
“Aye,” he said again, with the depth of all this feeling thick in his throat, “’Tis…more than perfect.”
“Good!” Claire said, not bothering to keep the excited triumph from her voice. A few minute later, she made an on odd noise of realization. “You know what this means, though?”
“What’s that, then?”
She ground the Van—CAR— to a halt at a traffic signal and turned to him with a mischievous gleam of barely-suppressed (and not a little vindictive) glee in her whisky eyes.
“It means that you, my love, are going to have to learn to DRIVE!”
JB: has narrow eyes, two freckles on his eyelid, the hot one, broad-shouldered, usually staring at Jinyoung lovingly
Jinyoung: perfect lips, pretty lips, pretty pale with dark hair, always has dark hair, usually bullying Yugyeom or mothering someone, dresses like a suburban dad, constantly bringing up meat, eye whiskers
Mark: invented visuals, he’s very pretty, bird nose, hair was blonde for a v long time, perfect teeth, like strikingly perfect teeth, unsettlingly handsome. honestly sounds a bit like an American fuckboy when he’s rapping idk why that is….
Jackson: shortest member, thicc, always bringing up his thighs, usually wearing a snapback, deep voice, is constantly on a variety show, ripped and always flexing, will wear clothing with his name or 852 (Hong Kong area code) whenever possible, large round eyes
Youngjae: round face, big smile, voice like an angel, when he laughs he smacks the nearest person repeatedly
Bambam: tall and thin like a 90s super model, also dresses like one, wearing heeled boots, tan, broad nose, big luscious lips, likes wearing colored sunglasses likes he’s g dragon or something, will be next to/looking at Yugyeom
Yugyeom: tallest by a bit, like nice and tall fam, six foot baby, broad shoulders and chest, a gorgeous smile, fluffy hair, if it is possible to be dancing he is dancing, higher pitched voice, he’s probably being bullied