La Mothe seated Jack and Stephen in the center of a beautifully draped concert room—but this time he settled Stephen next to Jack, and sat himself on Stephen’s other side. Jack, replete with wine and food and extra helpings of pudding, felt more comfortable at once. Now perhaps he could whisper a bit. He grinned at Stephen in preparation; Stephen, as was common with Jack’s meaningful grins and winks, looked patiently perplexed.
Jack was about to lean onto his shoulder and speak…but what would he ask? “What’s all this then” seemed a bit broad. “How in God’s name does a secret agent remain secret in such finery and lace, with a smile half Apollo and half the other chap?” seemed a bit…personal. Especially since said secret agent had dressed Stephen up in garments almost as fine; and though Stephen didn’t need them, Jack would not have insulted him for the world.
Source: A kiss slowly rising to the eyes of the sea, by Dorinda – Aubrey-Maturin Series – Patrick O’Brian [Archive of Our Own] | https://archiveofourown.org/
Jack meets a rather extraordinary friend of Stephen’s, making him see the doctor in a new light. Confusion and feelings ensue.