Here is a one-shot I wrote for the prompt Trouble, on the LiveJournal community who-contest. My very first Jamie fic, so I hope I did him justice =) I also used a prompt from the lovely PhoenixDragonDreamer—thank you, dear, and I hope you enjoy this!

He is in trouble.

He can read it in Jamie's tight lips, set in a determined line long before he parts them to speak. His friend's open face is darkened by a frown today, the jaw stubbornness, the eye a glimmer of disappointment. That last thing is what hurts, what causes him to pause before he can utter a merry greeting. Oh, he did notice the rest. He sees, sees everything that is off or different or even there, unremarkable. He would have called a cheerful interjection, had there only been that—added a beaming smile, a clasp of his hand on Jamie's shoulder to the mix, giving forth warmth to make a connection and diffuse in whatever empty spaces there are. But he would have known.

As it is, the glimmer gives him pause. He has seen it before, in his friend's gaze—that day when they first met Victoria, that day he manipulated Jamie, planned and turned his reactions to his advantage, much more than he usually does. He did not like doing that, nor did he particularly fret over it. It was necessary. And they were fine, in the end, they were… Not that he should be taking that for granted. Not that he wants to—or anything of what Jamie gives him, ever.

"Hello, Jamie," he speaks quietly, stepping nearer and laying his hands against the TARDIS' console.

"Hey, Doctor." Jamie's voice has a weary, sullen edge to it. "I've been waiting for ye."

"Ah, well, have you? I can see that. Do tell me, then, what is it you meant to say?"

Jamie hesitates, weighing the words with wariness. "You've done it again," he says in the end, bluntly. "The not telling the truth. Aye, the lying and sneaking about and all those things you do sometimes to get out of trouble. I don't like that. You know I don't."

He stops there and reddens, as though second-guessing his own words, or the relevance of his opinion in the Doctor's eyes. The latter responds with a small, thoughtful "Ah," quietly-breathed regret and acknowledgement. Yes, he knows that, too. And cares, of course.

"Well Jamie, I don't presume you're protesting my doing my best to watch over you and Victoria," he says softly. "But my methods sometimes displease you, yes, I'm aware of that."

"I ain't being ungrateful, or anything," he replies, "but aye. That's the thing. You're the one with the brains, Doctor, we all know that. We trust you, we'd do what you think is best. Victoria, I don't think she minds. She's just glad you look after her, and so am I. She looks up to you. But me, I think you're brilliant, and not that I could always get all your plans—but I hate the sneaking around. You don't have to do that. I'd rather you just told me things straight out."

He nods gravely. "I understand. You see, Jamie, you mustn't think it is disdain on my part, or attempting to manipulate you. It is merely that sometimes there is no time to tell the truth, or have a disagreement over the best way to get out of a situation. Sometimes you just have a limited choice. It can be difficult. I have to admit, I have a tendency to spare you and Victoria such a responsibility, whenever I can."

"But that's it, Doctor, we can take it. We're not children. We might not be some hundreds of years old—though I still find that hard to believe—but we're grown-ups. Victoria, she looks all tiny and soft like that, but she's a tough little lassie. And I'm not always the cleverest, but I think I've got a bit of sense in my head, and I trust you. I could be useful. Just if you trusted me."

"Oh, Jamie, I do." He breathes a sigh. "I am not sure I could actually trust you any more than I already do."

"Well, might be time to start showing it, then." He is turning a little red again, shuffling his feet awkwardly. His gorgeous Jamie, both unsure and confident, dismissing insecurities to demand his respect. If he only knew how much he had it.

"I'm an old man indeed, Jamie, at least to you," he tells him. "I cannot pretend to fully change my ways, but at least I can try. I promise I will do my best to be more open with you in the future. But only if you'll remember this. The things I don't say are things I believe are better not shared. This is not a question of not trusting you or dismissing your intelligence. Do keep that in mind."

Jamie nods. "Aye, I will. Thank you, Doctor."

"You are very welcome," he murmurs, and meets his friend's gaze with his calm and soft and level one, letting the moment quietly unfold. They just stand there, together and thoughtful, until light footsteps come to echo in their shared silence, shifting the dynamic. Two become three.

"Hello, Victoria," he says, turning her way.

"Hello, Doctor," she tells him brightly as she lightly skips into his field of vision. "Now, what are you two standing there about? Are we not going somewhere?"

"We are, to be sure." He smiles at her. "We were mainly talking. Discussing trust, among other matters. You see, some things do need to be told in words, and some can go without. They merely are there, and deeper than words could peek."

She nods solemnly. He gazes into the light of her limpid eyes, feeling Jamie's presence, at his back now, watchful, faithful. A smile stretches his lips, come unbidden.

Simple things, obvious things. Human things.

He savours them like a hum beneath his skin, the amazing steadiness of the ephemeral.