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The Perfect Storm

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Passport - check, phone - check, headphones - check, charger - "Darling, do you happen to know where I left my phone charger?" I murmured as I kept rummaging through my purse. I used to think of myself as a very simple woman, yet with all the stuff I stored in my purse, the charger always seemed to be missing in action. But, then again, would I ever know where my bloody charger was? Probably not.

 

"Have you checked the living room yet?" Frank yelled from the bathroom, with a slight frustration one might find unnecessary in the already frustrating act of packing.

 

"Yes, Frank, I checked the bloody living room, no need to yell at me," I never did understand Frank's need for perfectionism and keeping things in a tight order. I quite loved my mess for all my life, because where's the fun in perfect? Right, can't find that either.

 

I sensed his arms around my waist before he came to hug me from behind, "Sorry darling, I did not mean to yell at all, it is just a tiny bit annoying that you cannot seem to keep your things together, that's all. But we'll work on that, won't we?"

 

Just as he was about to kiss my shirt-covered shoulder, I escaped his hold, "Right," I replied rather coldly, sympathizing with the weather outside.

 

Frank shrugged, his lower lip disappearing under his teeth, "You cannot possibly be angry with me, Claire?" Not realizing it was a rhetorical question, I was about to reply when he stormed off back to the bathroom. "If we want this relationship to work Claire, we need to compromise. When I say keep your things in order, that's what I expect you to do."

 

My rage started building up, however, fighting before a trip was probably bad luck, so I decided to put this under the rug for now. "Frank," calmly, I continued, "I agree with compromising, but let's continue this discussion when we arrive at the hotel." For added value, I finished with a classic, "Please, darling."

 

Determined not to wait for his response, I retreated to the bedroom in the search for my missing charger. I just could not understand Frank's need to fight all the bloody time. I am getting seriously tired for having to explain my way of living - he was supposed to be my rock for Christ's sake, not the wind blowing me further away from him.

 

Like a cherry on top, my phone started ringing and buzzing in that annoyingly classical iPhone ringtone. Frustrated, I answered without looking at the caller ID, “What?”

 

“Okay,” a female voice said sheepishly, “I hope I am not on yer murder list, ClaireBear,” said the irritatingly perfect voice of a more perfect owner.

 

“Geillis, thank God. I’m sorry, I am just angry that I cannot find the bloody phone charger for the last thirty minutes, and I swear I could kill somebody.” I took a deep breath, then continued, “Preferably Frank.”

 

“Ach, what did he do now?”, before I had a chance to answer, Geillis continued, “I told ye Claire, two years ago if memory serves me right, that he was a boring-old-slow party pooper. Ye need someone fun and young with undying energy that will bring ye to life, instead of pushing ye to an early grave. I also -”

 

“Geillis,” I interrupted, startled by her not so wrong observation, “I do not have the energy to tell you how wrong you are, even though you cannot be more right, nor I have the energy to protect Frank’s virtue, because he does not deserve it, but please talk about anything else.” Another deep breath, “Please.”

 

“Did you check under yer bed?”, perfectly calm voice vibrated through my phone. Frowning, I asked, “What?”

 

“Did you look for the charger under yer bed, Claire,” chuckling, Geillis went on. “Ye know, that thing ye literally just sleep on -”

 

I rolled my eyes so hard, for a second I was scared they would rather not go back. “Thank you, Geillis. Truly. But, I am hanging up now and my sex life is none of your concern, thank you very much.”

 

Every perfection was somehow flawed, arguing that said perfection did not even exist. The great example was Geillis’ perfect voice juxtaposed with her blemished laughter. When I tried to listen close enough, it almost resembled the screeching sound a chalk would make if you were devilish enough to scratch it across a greenboard.

 

After said laughter followed a serious tone, “What sex li-” Before I crossed a line of not being perfectly appropriate, I hung up and bent to look for my charger under the bed.

 

I felt like screaming, frustration turning into depression. Where could it be? It’s a stupid bloody charger, and I would bet my right hand that I left it on the bed, right next to my purse.

 

The huge and the ugly and the very much ancient yellow cuckoo clock, that Frank got as a present from one of his also ancient historian friends, sang eight times, startling me from my depressed revere. As I jumped from under the bed, Frank entered the room, his eyes narrowed on me while confusion lit up his face.

 

“I was looking for my charger, however its eight o’clock Frank, we have to go. The guys are probably waiting for us on the parking lot.”

 

Not giving him time to argue how we could’ve taken a train or flew by a plane, instead of driving a car for “endless hours,” I took my purse from the bed and brushed past him, moving to the main door.

 

“Darling?”, Frank said amused, while approaching the main door and holding a phone charger, “It looks like I accidentally placed your charger in my travel bag. How uncanny of me.”

 

“You have to be fucking kidding me,” had I not been in the building hall already, I would have been screaming from the top of my lungs right now. Yanking the bloody charger from the constant source that has driven me crazy for months, I turned on my heels, and spoke coldy over my shoulder. “We will have to work on you differentiating others’ assets from your own, won’t we darling?” I could have been crowned the Queen of Sarcasm right about now.

 

As I pushed through the exit door of my building, I was hit with an icy cold February-yet-classical Edinburgh winter spice, contrasting my flushed-from-anger cheeks and fury-filled eyes.

 

But all the waters in the world calmed as I locked eyes with a man who was like a sun to my rainy day. He was leaning on the back door of his brand new jet-black Range Rover, with his broad shoulders and endless outline of tight muscles peeking through at least three layers of clothing.

 

He was beautifully tall and very manly. His coppery red hair danced about his shoulders, with the wind blowing it all around his head. His deep blue eyes were still locked on my golden ones. We were contrasting in all ways, yet I could argue there were thousands of sparks flying in between us.

 

He sent me his famous smirk, and I was under his spell and happy to be there. I started towards the car, completely forgetting the man behind me, and could not wait for the adventure to begin.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

I felt weak in my knees and stood stock still when I looked over his left shoulder, and saw that she was sitting in a passenger seat. Un-believ-able.

 

I passed coldly by my dream man, and opened the passenger door. I yanked the girl by her awfully perfect, waist-long blond hair, and out of the rich ivory seat, got her arms in my left hand and started punching her with the other, literally, wherever I could reach.

 

I also added my legs to her abdomen, just to be sure I got her.

 

The reborn fury pounded in my ears, preventing the ability to hear her pathetic screams and sobs .

 

He probably read my face like a book, as only he uniquely could, and brought me back from my fantasy.

 

His beautiful manly low voice reached my ears and washed the fury away. “Hi Sassenach.”

 

After all the times I prayed for the ground to swallow me whole, now would be the perfect timing for my prayer to come to life.

 

His gaze lowered on my now tomato-like cheeks, the consequence of utter embarrassment always followed by my directing of a serial-killer movie, starring myself as the killer, and of course, herself as the victim.

 

“Hey,” I barely whispered as he approached me and kissed my burning cheek, leaving an even hotter imprint of his perfectly full puffy lips to linger on me, sheltering me from the icy wind.

 

I could not move for all the tea in China, while he moved towards Frank, whom I haven’t even noticed was standing right by my side.

 

I could feel Frank stiffen as the two men shook hands. “Good Morning… James.”

 

Ugh, I hated hearing his beautiful name from Frank’s mouth. Frank Randall knew just about how to butcher anything beautiful in this world.

 

A calm, neutral-toned voice, with just a tiny bit of amusement, answered, “Morning Frank. How are ye?”

 

Jamie and my two-year boyfriend continued exchanging vague remarks, while I concentrated on my boyfriend . It did not even sound right calling Frank that. He was too old for the label. Yet, somewhere deep, deep, emphasis on deep, down inside my heart, I could remember that he was there for me when I needed comfort the most.

 

Two years ago was when Claire Beauchamp became a surgical resident. I just moved from London to Edinburgh, and did not know anyone. It was hard and very emotional, since for the most of my life, I was alone .

 

My parents died in a car crash when I was five years old. Sometimes, I did not even get it how I came to survive the crash. What made me so special?

 

I guess I haven’t lived long enough to do something I would be punished for. But, then, what did my parents do to deserve such unforgivable punishment?

 

Nevertheless, I was adopted by my uncle, Lambert Quentin Beauchamp. He was an archaeologist, which meant we never had a place to call home for longer than 3 months, one of the reasons being the hotel lifestyle.

 

As much as my schoolmates at that particular location thought it was an amazing place to live at, it wasn’t really. I was never comfortable nor content, but I accepted the situation, because I had Lamb. He was my only family and I loved him infinitely.

 

However, just as I moved to Edinburgh, I got a call. The call , that shakes the ground under your feet and betrays all the gravity around you. I was told that Lamb was in an accident while working his digs, in Egypt. He passed away at the hospital, and was buried in Cairo.

 

Since I was starting my residency, I never got the chance to even visit the grave of the most important person, and the only person, in my life.

 

Shortly after my first month at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, I met Frank at one historic conference I went to. It was regarding ancient Egypt after all, and I felt as if that was the least that I could have done at the moment, for Lamb.

 

Frank was the only constant for me at that time, he helped me through my sorrow and depression, and showed and gave me love. However, he was the type of person who expected everything in return. Tit_for_tat.

 

Approximately four months later, Geillis came as a fellow resident to the RIE, and I felt as if there was still hope lingering in the shadows for happiness in my life. She was my best friend, a sister I never had, witty and a bit rude, but not to me, brutally honest, beautiful and smart. As it was expected with Scots and their numerous family and friends, with Geillis came Angus, and with him came Rupert, and my personal favourite, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.

 

Jamie.

 

I turned to the man in question, and I found myself staring at his profile-perfect jawline, the smallest of dimples highlighting his cheek. He was astonishingly dapper, dashing, handsome, yet not mine to look at with the hunger I knew I had in my eyes.

 

He was a friend. My friend. We were friends. I had Frank. He had, well, her. Not really though, I had to remind myself, because they were not together, at least not officially. But she was crazy about him. And to say I_hated_her, would be a huge understatement.

 

Speak of the devil, as she slid the automatic window down and started butchering the comforting silence.

 

“Jamie, sweetheart, shouldn’t we get goin’. We are losing time, plus I am gettin’ rather bored. Could use yer funny stories and -”

 

Her ugly blue eyes, filled with genuine loath, reverted to me. She lifted her non-existing brows, and flashed a fake smile, “Claire, I didna see ye there. Ye look,” she took a second to scan me from head to toe, “Weel, ye always look -”

 

Thankfully, Jamie interrupted her annoyingly high-pitched voice. I would try and explain her voice more, but it's one of those unique disasters. You’d have to hear it for yourself, and then visit the ear doctor, for safety reasons and all.

 

“Ach, we’re coming, alright,” I smiled at his clearly frustrated tone. Everytime she got on his nerves, which was nearly all the time, was a personal win for me.

 

Jamie turned to me, “Ready, a nighean?” Even though it was a rhetorical question, I nodded, because I wanted him to read my face and see just how much I wanted to go. With him.

 

“Yes, come on darling,” Frank pushed passed Jamie, took my hand in his and started towards the car.

 


 

 

I must have dozed off, when I felt Frank’s not so gentle arm, pushing me to consciousness.

 

“Hmm, what?” Ever since I was a child, I have been a grumpy waker. It was my biological response from being taken away from my favourite activity - sleeping.

 

I heard Frank take a deep breath, “I have been trying to wake you for the last 5 minutes. We took a stop to recharge the car.”

 

I yawned, smudged my eyes, stretched my arms and legs as much as the limited, yet surprisingly spacious car offered, and turned to face Frank.

 

“Do you need me to recharge the car?”

 

He frowned, “What? No.”

 

I yawned again, “Then for the love of everything that’s holy, why did you wake me?”

 

I seemed to irritate him, it wasn’t quite visible, but I could sense it in the air between us. One would call that the benefit of being lovers. I, on the other hand, would call that the cost of being Frank’s lover.

 

“James suggested we take a break, eat breakfast while the car is charging. But, of course, you can stay and sleep. I don’t think he would mind much.”

 

He was passive aggressive, my Frank, but two could play this game. “Oh, well now that you mention it, I could kill for a club sandwich.”

 

Before I closed the car door, I looked at Frank who was still sitting behind the passenger seat. “Are you coming. Should I say you would rather stay in? I don’t believe anyone would mind.”

 

Frank slammed the door shut, and we started towards the little vintage cafe, perpendicular to the gas station.

 

Glass windows replaced the walls, leaving no surprises as to what was behind the large, carved wooden door.

 

Just as I was about to yank the door open, my palm betrayed me and let go of the door-knob. I couldn’t move. It was as if the concrete below me swallowed my feet.

 

I felt terribly nauseous.

 

Dinner from last night slowly made its way through my oesophagus and as soon as it touched the back of my tongue, I turned forty-five degrees to the left and emptied my stomach in the trash can next to the door.

Frank never had this much embarrassment shown on his face, “For Christ's sake Claire. What are you doing? Are you ill?”

 

I wasn’t even pretending to listen, I just brushed his “worries” off with the wave of my right hand. I opened the door and pretended that everything was fine.

 

Not like Jamie was kissing Laoghaire behind the glass wall, in the open space of the cafe, where everyone would guess they were a couple.

 

Have I missed something.

 

Were they … together … ?

 

Swallowing bile, I moved to the happy couple.

 

We ate in silence. I could feel Jamie’s eyes on me for the length of time we were at the cafe. I felt that pathetic rush of comfort, that he at least wasn’t looking at her.

 

However, I did not return the gesture. I was not the one he was kissing. Looking at me won’t cut it.

 

Laoghaire was laughing at something dull Frank said, and I just prayed to keep the club sandwich in my stomach.

 

After the incident between me and the trash can, I only hoped for a cup of oolong tea, but of course Frank could not keep his historical mouth shut.

 

So, as soon as Jamie heard I vomited, he excused himself from the table, and brought me the very oolong tea I wanted, plus my favourite club sandwich I did not want.

 

He made me eat the very last crumb on my plate. I knew he worried, but I did not want his pity.

 

The only time I would ever think Laoghaire was right, was when she murmured something incoherent regarding male power, and how we should go back to the car. I had no idea what the girl was talking about, until I heard Jamie’s stubborn voice.

 

I turned one-eighty and saw two red-faced clowns, one being Jamie and another being Frank, arguing before a female cashier, about who would pay for a 20 pounds worth of breakfast.

 

The woman looked like she was holding a chainsaw below the cash desk, and was counting the seconds when she would cut off the clowns’ heads off their necks.

 

I silently thanked her, and went to the car.

 

After driving for seven hours straight, we came into sight with Le tunnel sous la Manche, the Channel Tunnel connecting Folkestone and Coquelles .

 

It was not the best laid plan, this road trip. I did agree more with Frank’s idea of taking the plane, it would’ve been a much shorter journey. However, Jamie thought it would be fun to drive through UK, and I did not mind that either, since I would not be the one driving.

 

As soon as we reached the French soil of Pas-de-Calais , we and “ Bonnie ” - Jamie’s precious new car - boarded the Eurostar train, which would drive us through the French night all the way to Annecy , an alpine town near the Swiss border.

 

It was around one in the morning, when I stirred from my sleep, the most probable cause of waking being a not-so-comfortable train-bed. I decided to get dressed and go to the open bar for a cup of tea.

 

We were supposed to reach Annecy in less than forty-five minutes anyway, and we were on board of Eurostar train for about one hour and fifteen minutes.

 

The only reason we took a car with beds, was because Frank insisted that after midnight, even an hour of sleep would be precious. Nobody bothered to fight the man, since none of us cared.

 

I left the sleeping beauty behind, and went to the open bar.

 

I could sense my heart skip a beat before it even did the action -  it was just a normal response my heart would give whenever in Jamie’s presence. I turned around to my right, and saw him, all handsome and beautiful looking through the window, observing the gorgeous silence of French nights.

 

No matter how much my brain was screaming “ Beauchamp, go back! This is a disaster. S.O.S, ” my heart was lounder, and I couldn’t do anything but listen.

 

“Can’t sleep?” My voice was barely hearable, but Jamie seemed to hear me all right. With a slight shake of his head, his voice caressed my eardrums, “Nah. Laoghaire snores worse than Murtagh and my Da combined.” I could not help but grin from ear to ear, “She needs her beauty sleep too, right?”

 

Jamie flashed his porcelain white teeth at me, “I bet 50 quid she’s worse than Frank. The lass has no filter.”

 

Laughter won out, “You are on, mister.”

 

I could not help but blush as Jamie kept staring at me. It was weird and wonderful at the same time, and I was speechless for a minute.

 

“Something on my face?”

 

“Nothin’ but beauty,” blushed I was and blush I did more. He was breaking my heart, and I couldn’t seem to find oxygen. “Jamie…” I whispered, “I think I should go.”

 

“No, Claire. Mo nighean donn, I’m sorry. I wasna thinking, I know that Frank -”

 

I interrupted before this conversation crossed thousands of inappropriate lines, “I’m going. We’ll meet at the exit do take the car, right?”

 

Jamie seemed to lack oxygen as well, “Claire … ”

 

“Right?” I repeated stubbornly.

 

“Aye,” unshed tears were stinging my eyes for the sadness in his voice, but this was neither a time nor place to discuss the forbidden attraction between us.

 

The next thing I knew was that Geillis yanked open my side door of the Range Rover, and showed me out of the car. She was all over me, laughing and screaming my name like I was the Queen of England.

 

Behind her huge red hair, I saw the sign, “Bienvenue dans Les 3 Vallées”

 

And the alpine adventure was ready to begin.




 

Chapter Text

We must have missed a turn somewhere along the road. There was no way in hell that we could be in this hotel. It was enormous, to say the least. I could not wait to get under the covers of an equally enormous bed. Hopefully equal.

Even though it was around three in the morning, the exterior of the hotel was bathed in bright lights.

 

On the left side of the hotel were two columns of smaller windows. There was a large sign attached in between second and third row of the aforementioned windows, reading “ KOH-I NOR HOTEL *****.” The middle part of the establishment was full of large double-sliding windows and balconies spreading approximately six stories towards the mountain tops surrounding the hotel, while on the right side, I could notice a long spiral staircase inclosed in a glass frame.

 

Les 3 Vallées included three neighbouring valleys, with each of the valleys well known for popular resorts. For Belleville (the valley) it was Val Thorens (the resort), Allues - Méribel, and Saint-Bon - Courchevel.

 

We were of course located in the most prominent of the resorts, Val Thorens. It was famous for many five-star hotels and apartments, as well as numerous restaurants, clubs and spas. Most importantly, the neverending wide ski slopes that were surrounding the resort.

 

“Jamie reserved a five-star hotel for us?” I whispered to Geillis, still looking at the view in front of me.

 

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” Geillis yelled in my ear.

 

“I know it’s well after midnight, but the lack of sunshine doesn’t affect my hearing, Geillis.” Ever since I met her, she was quirky and loud, and just when I thought I got used to it, she kept surprising me.

 

Geillis giggled, “Sorry. Rupert, Angus and I hit the club after dinner. Seems the music numbed my ears.”

 

Geillis, Angus and Rupert came three nights before us, and they would leave three nights before us, too. The arrangement was made because Jamie’s “ Bonnie” could not fit in more than four people, so Geillis was stuck with the children.

 

Rupert is Jamie’s cousin, and Angus is Rupert’s best friend, or what Jamie would say “high school sweethearts, the two of them.” When Geillis read about the plan in our whatsapp group, she left the chat. Told ya, she was and always will be a drama queen.

 

“What happened to Rupert and Angus being childish and “too boring to have fun wi’,” I continued whispering, in case the kids jumped out of nowhere and got in on the hot gossip.

 

“I wouldna ever guess they can party. They’re like the devil himself,” she smiled, but I frowned, not thinking that was the kind of partying I would like to witness.  

 

Geillis’ eyes lit up with unfamiliar warmth as she continued, “Plus, Rupert is kinda shaggable. Like, a lot.”

 

Oh, there it was. I thought the nausea I had hours ago calmed down, but she was back in business. “What? Didn’t you say less then two weeks ago that Rupert’s gross for coming on at you, and that “I’m too hot and out of his league, ClaireBear,” I scrunched my fingers into air quotes, just for dramatic effect.

 

“Claire, that was the past, and this is the present. And tomorrow night, if he finally grows balls to kiss me, will be the everloving future. Ye ken?”

 

“I most certainly ken-not. Where did the shallow Geillis go. Darling, are you okay. Maybe you’re ill. It must be the clean oxygen and, -”

 

I was rudely interrupted by my now blushed best friend. “I wasna shallow, Claire. I just thought Frank was a skinny, smart-arsed freak-show with no half a gram of muscles,” she took a deep breath, “Now, Jamie on the other hand. -”

 

I was seconds from interrupting her when Frank came over, “Darling, go grab your suitcase and let's check in. I need to sleep.” The gentleman that he wasn’t, I pushed him to the right so that I could pass by him and get to Bonnie ’s rear. Oh , that sounded so wrong, I was lucky Geillis was out of my mind’s earshot.

 

I was about to use my biceps that are quite literally the size-of-a-popcorn, and pray to lord that I could manage and get my suitcase out of the trunk, when I felt goosebumps on my neck welcome the familiar musky breath, “Move over, Sassenach.” My heart skipped a few beats, but I complied nonetheless, while watching him one-handedly place the suitcase in front of me.

 

“What were ye thinkin’ tryina to lift this massivity wi’ yer wee arms?”

 

What?! How dare he?!

 

“I am not that weak,” I lied.

 

“Aye, ye are, Sassenach.” Jamie continued to laugh, I blushed.

 

“And just for your information, my suitcase is not that heavy,” I lied again. “You’re just exaggerating to make yourself look like a bloody Hercules -”

 

Jamie’s sexy and breathtaking smirk stole the words out of my mouth. All jokes aside, h is smirk should be in prison, because it was certainly killing me at this point.

 

“Whatever helps ye sleep at night, Sassenach,” he kissed my cheek, took the suitcase aforementioned, and headed for the main entrance of the hotel.

 

I couldn’t move again. Jamie’s kisses did weird, yet not-so-uncomfortable things to my legs.

 

Once I felt the strength come back, I ran after him. “Jamie, wait. You took my suitcase,” he stopped, and spoke over his shoulder, smirk in place. “Dinna fash, Sassenach. I’ll have it delivered to yer room.”

 

I blushed, again, thinking about the fact that Jamie knew where my room was. I couldn’t seem to find any words, so I returned the smile, and went back to get Geillis and Frank.

 

Just as I exited outside, I could hear Laoghaire whining and calling for Jamie. She was saying something between the lines of, “Jamie! Where are ye? I canna lift my suitcase!” And et cetera.

 

I grinned, thinking about how Jamie was probably at my room right about now.

 

Suck it Leery.

 

I was quickly brought back to reality by Frank’s falsetto, “Claire,” he took a dramatic breath, talking to me like I was demented, “I told you to get your suitcase from the car. So?” He was looking at me eager to hear my response.

 

My dream man, a strong, true gentleman, took it for me. He is going to leave it in my room. I hope he leaves himself, too. And you Frank, can sleep with the mountain goats for all I care.

 

I swallowed my pride, “I had it delivered in my room. We can go.”

 

Geiliss giggled, and I could swear she was looking at me like she could read every thought on my face. No. That was only Jamie’s thing.

 

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, stop it, Geillis!” I yelled, clearly annoyed.

 

She giggled some more, “Stop what?”

 

I followed behind Frank, feeling like a puppy who’s just been yelled at. “Nothing. Good night Geillis.”

 

I heard her annoying laugher rise for two octaves, before disappearing behind the automatic glass entrance door.

 

 

 

 

I was woken up by the sunshine peeking in between much-too-lengthy beige curtains.

 

I turned to my side, the figure next to me still snoring away, so I moved to get up and towards the bathroom. I almost screamed when I saw the person reflected in the mirror.

 

My hair was disheveled, and pointing in all possible directions. Deciding the brushing would be very painful at the moment, I turned one-eighty and got in the shower.

 

The warm water was all I needed, after all. I shampooed my hair, and started tunelessly singing to something I picked up from the radio yesterday.

 

It could’ve been five or fifty minutes later that I exited the shower. I towel-dried my hair, and cleaned the mirror from the steam my hot shower made, before fixing the towel around my waistline.

 

As I locked eyes with my reflection, I couldna help but remember that night.

 

She was so beautiful. Her golden eyes looking at me like I was the only man in the entire universe. So bonny.

 

We were at Joe’s, and both she and I had gulped couple of incredibly and surprisingly good whisky. Wait, I take that back. I wasna surprised, it was in Edinburgh after all. And Scotland only has the good stuff.

 

I could remember that night like it was yesterday.

 

She was wearing black, high-waisted jeans that hung to that roundest arse perfeclty. Like they were custom-made, just for her. She had a white crop-top, but the damned jeans covered up every centimeter of her pearly skin.

 

She was wearing a black lacy bra under the sheer white top, torturing me to infinity.

 

Her curly brown hair was tucked in a loose bun on top of her head, and she had silver hoops as the sole jewelry. So bonny.

 

After she said hello to everyone in our group, she turned to face me. Her whisky eyes locked on mine, and the sparkles were flying everywhere in between us.

 

I was sitting at the bar, on a bit squeaky stool. She stopped in front of me, her knees brushing my own.

 

She kissed my cheek, and I was burning in pleasure. “Hi,” she whispered in my ear.

 

I shivered, weakly replying, “Hey, Sassenach. Ye look bonny.”

 

The light in the pub was almost non-existent, but I could feel her blush.

 

“You are not so bad yourself, Mr. Fraser.” I was positive that I was the one blushing now.

 

We got to talking and drinking, we didna even notice the fact that the rest of our group wasna at the pub anymore.

 

“Where is everyone?” She asked surprisingly.

 

I dinna care! Turn back around. You’re supposed to be mine. Dinna leave me...

 

“I havena the slightest clue, Sassenach.” It wasna strictly a lie, since I truly didna ken where they went, but I left out the fact of silently thanking Geillis for getting everyone out of the pub, and leaving us alone.

 

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! Jamie look at the time!” I pretended to glance at my left hand, not really caring for the bloody time.

 

“Jamie, I have a morning shift tomorrow, I have to go.” She narrowed her eyes on my hands holding hers on the counter, “Sorry.”

 

I quickly got up and took her coat from her chair, “I’ll walk you home.” She tried to negate, but I wouldna budge.

 

Thank Christ for small mercies, such as Claire’s apartment being only two of blocks away.

 

The wind was stronger than this afternoon, letting Claire’s beautiful hair out of that tight bun’s captivity, and giving it free will to move simultaneously with the wind.

 

A hot wave passed threw me, and I noticed that she linked her hand to mine. We locked eyes and I squeezed her hand in resurance.

“This is me,” she said stupidly.

 

I brushed a lock of silky brown hair behind her ear, and leaned in to kiss her cheek. She must have turned at the same time, because the next thing I could remember is kissing her with months of held-up hunger.

 

She stroked her tongue down the length of my bottom lip seeking entrance, and I obliged. Her moan nearly had me pinning her to the nearest wall. Her lips were so velvety and smooth, and as her tongue stroke mine, I let out a deep-voiced moan.

 

That must have awoken her from this revier, as she pulled away from me, panting.

 

“Claire,” I was searching for her eyes, but she turned away from my gaze.

 

“Oh, no. I am so sorry Jamie.”

 

She took another deep breath, “I can’t.”

 

And she left me standing to fight the howling wind. All alone .

 

 

 

“JAMIE,” a high-pitched noise brought me back to my reflection in the mirror.

 

“What do ye want Laoghaire?” I havena the slightest idea why I brought her wi’ me. She was incredibly annoying.

 

“WHAT DO I WANT?!” She was pounding on the bathroom door, yelling continued, “I NEED YE TO GET OUT FROM THE BATHROOM. WE ARE GOIN’ TO BE LATE FOR BREAKFAST. I’LL TELL EVERYONE THAT IT WAS YER FAULT.”

 

“Ifrinn, stop yelling. Ye are such a brat.”

 

She slammed the bathroom door, and I fell onto the bed.

 

I really needed to get out on the slopes today, or I dinna think I’ll survive this woman.”

Chapter Text

If I concentrated hard enough, I could almost hear the silence screaming.

 

Jamie and Laoghaire sat opposite Frank and myself. I was relieved to see that there was a chair in between them. It made the view in front of me much more bearable. Geillis and the kids were out of sight, making the situation even more awkward. It was such a toxic energy and I was praying for a distraction to pull me away.

 

The ringing of my phone broke the awkward silence that was occupying our breakfast table. I looked at the screen and saw a bunch of platinum-blond wild curls, closely resembling a halo - ironically, since she’s more of a devilish nature. The owner of said curls was my attending, Dr. Julia Steward.

 

Medusa was what we called her. Of course, Geillis started it, and we all came to love the nickname - it was well suited. It was her hair that inspired it at first. But, as the time passed, we learned to run from her gaze like the devil from the cross. She had these grey hooded eyes, which could cement you with one look. If it wasn’t clear enough, Medusa was impossible to satisfy, therefore making her the most hated attending in the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh.

 

The policy regarding residency in the RIE was pretty clear. First and second year residents were treated like secretaries. Fifty percent of my first year as a junior resident, I was filling out charts and running around making Medusa happy - ish. Other fifty percent was spent observing surgeries - from the  gallery, or YouTube videos.

 

Been there, done that.

 

Thankfully, I started my third year residency in September, meaning I had much more freedom, plus, I had ten interns in my service, doing charts and pleasing Medusa for me. I could even do solo surgeries from time to time.

 

Frank stared at me with sharpness in his eyes that could slash the table in half. The look was telling the typical tale “ Claire, don’t you dare leave the table to talk on the phone. It is embarrassing. ” I mouthed that it was the hospital calling, and he shook his head in disbelief. Frank has never understood my vocation towards surgery, and I got used to the juxtaposition of his discouraging compliments.  

 

I picked up a fancy burgundy cotton cloth off my lap, placed it next to my plate, and excused myself from the table.

 

“Hello,” I started at the same time Medusa was yelling my name. “ - Beauchamp, why the hell aren’t ye at the hospital? I wasna able to get to Duncan, either.” I was confused to the point of being speechless. Before I could find words, she continued, “What the hell is goin’ on. Where are ye?”

 

“Um, Dr. Steward, Geillis and I are on our winter vacation.”

 

A legitimately surprised screeching voice yelled back, “WHAT? What am I supposed to do wi’ these dummies ye call interns. I canna even look at them,” she took a deep breath before continuing. “Claire,” the use of my name sounded very weird, being that she never called me by my first name before. Another deep intake of breath, following a whisper, “Be reasonable.”

 

I had zero clue why she was not notified of my absence, “With all due respect, Dr. Steward, it is impossible for me to come if the emergency is your inability to summon couple of interns -”

 

“Watch yer tone, young lady,” why people talked down on me like I was a child would never make sense to me. Nevertheless, I said with all due respect , what else did she want? “I am truly sorry,” I lied, “However, if there isn’t anything else resembling a real emergency of life and death, I really have to go.”

 

There was a long silence, and had I not heard the sirens of ambulance approaching, I would’ve thought that she hung up on me. “Never the mind, ye are useless, as always.” Auch, that almost hurt.

 

I could see Frank getting up, so I hurried towards the table and pretended to talk hospital stuff. “Yes, I see. Check his vitals and call me as soon as possible.” This seemed to ease his nerves, and I sat in my chair, now facing what happend to look like black truffles and caviar bruschettas. Wow.

 

I picked up my phone and texted Geillis, now starting to worry.

 

Me : Geillis where the hell are you? A do not tell me you returned to that club.  

 

Me : And what the fuck is with this hotel? How much money does Jamie actually have? We’re having caviar for breakfast, for crying out loud…

 

“Claire, don’t ye want to eat?” Jamie’s voice surprised me, and I dropped my phone on the table. I could feel my blood flowing through the capillaries in my face. I blushed more - if that was possible, embarrassed that I just talked behind Jamie’s back _in_front_of_him. We locked eyes, and all of a sudden, I was very hungry. Just not for food.

 

I let him read my thoughts on my face, replying nonchalantly, “Yes, of course,” taking the fork and knife out of yet another fancy burgundy cotton cloth, I looked at Jamie again, “Bon appétit.”

 


 

 

Breakfast was full of excruciating silence and stolen glances between Jamie and me. If I hadn’t know better, I would’ve thought Jamie was seconds away from jumping on me. I felt a rather uncanny feeling of disappointment that he hadn’t fulfilled my expectations in that moment.

 

Geillis, Rupert and Angus were a no show at breakfast, with Geillis’ ever short text confirming their absence.

 

Geillis : Meet ye on the slopes!

 

After breakfast, we all changed into our skiing outfits. I had a fire-yellow jacket and black slim-fit bottoms with zippers of pockets coloured to match with my jacket. Frank had a boring three shades of grey on him, and the audacity he had to tell me I looked like a circus clown, when he was the walking dead, was beyond me.

 

Jamie had a candy red jacket and dark denim-coloured bottoms. He looked beyond sexy, like he just got out of a photoshoot for top ten most sexiest men on earth, naturally him taking the first place. On the other hand, Laoghaire had a baby pink jacket with matching bottoms. Quite plain, like her personality.

 

An unfortunately familiar high-pitched voice came behind me. “Jamieeeeeee, I canna walk in these. They’re too heavy, and I’m so petite,” she finished with an unseductive smile, revealing her bleached teeth.  

 

“Laoghaire, those are ski boots. They’re meant to be heavy, so a person petite such as ye,” Jamie said sarcastically, “doesna fall on the first try and break all the bones in their petite body.” I could not help but laugh. This girl was hilarious.

 

“Jamie, I dinna ken how to ski,” she finished lamely.

 

“What?” Jamie and I talked simultaneously. I nodded at him to continue.

 

“Ye dinna ken how to ski, and ye are tellin’ us now? What were ye thinking? That I would carry ye on my back from mountain to mountain?” Jamie was more talking to himself than her.

 

“Jamie, honey , I am so sorry,” she smirked - I wanted to vomit from disgust, “Ye can teach me.”

 

“The hell I can,” he sat down to fasten his ski boots, “If ye canna ski, ye will have to learn -”

 

“Well aye, that’s what I just said, Ja-”

 

“At a ski school.” My jaw dropped to my knees, while Laoghaire began shaking her head from left to right shoulder.

 

“I canna go to ski school, Jamie. I am not a child.” And pigs can fly.

 

“I canna teach ye, I came her to ski wi’ my friends. If ye dinna want to go to ski school, take an instructor. I dinna care.”

 

“Fine,” she gave in too easily. “But after skiing, we’re goin’ shopping,” there we go.

 

“Whatever. Now finish wi’ those and let’s go,” Jamie stretched his arms and turned back to me grinning from ear to ear.

 

“I’ll text Geillis to meet us next to the ski school then,” I smiled and Jamie’s grin grew wider.

 


 

 

“ClaireBear, why, look at yer smokin’ hot body. I am impressed,” voiced my annoying best friend. We met with Geillis, Rupert and Angus next to the ski school where we left Laoghaire.

 

“You look great and... sober ?” I asked through a giggle.

 

“For yer information, I wasna drinking since yesterday at the club. But Rupert and I stayed in the buffay,” she finished shyly.

 

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, Geillis! Are you blushing?” I looked at her wide-eyed. I could not believe she was blushing. So out of her character, blushing that is.

 

“I_am_not,” she said, turning crimson.

 

“Oh yes, you are, my friend. What’d ya do? Kiss under the moon and shining stars,” I teased, and received an elbow to my stomach for pursuing.

 

“Nothing happened, unfortunately. We just talked, but it was amazing nonetheless.” Wow, I was speechless.

 

“Geillis, before I forget, what the hell is Jamie doing to afford this vacation and pay for seven people? It is totally insane.”

 

“Oh, that,” she shrugged her shoulders. “Weel, technically he’s no really payin’ for us.”

 

“Wot? You mean to tell me that we’re here for free. _Not_ funny Geillis. There’s no way I can afford this place, also -”

 

“It’s his hotel. That’s why he isna payin anything.”

 

“Oh,” I said dumbly. “But he never -”

 

“If ye want more answers, ask him. I dinna ken much, because Rupert doesna ken much, and he’s my source.”

 

“Not really good one, though.” I was still thinking about Jamie owning the biggest hotel in this resort, when Geillis purposely distracted me.

 

“Anyway, where’s the dumb blonde at?” Geillis was observing couple of kids on the conveyor belt. “Look at these munchkins. They canna be more than three. Aww, look at those tiny skis. Too cute.”

 

“You’re looking at her. Well, not straight at her, but she’s definitely there.”

 

“Wot,” Geillis raised her eyebrows in amusement. She loved to imitate my “very posh” accent.

 

“Ha ha, seriously? Anyhow, she’s there with the kids. She doesn’t know how to ski,” I pointed at the school with my forefinger.

 

“Don’t ye see? This is perfect,” Geillis winked at me and patted my shoulder.

 

“What do you mean “perfect” ?”  

 

She hissed, letting me know how irritated my dumbness made her. “Weel, ye and yer wee fox will be all alone . Together. Surrounded by snow and forests. Verra romantic, is it no?.”

 

“We will most certainly _not_ be alone. What about Angus, Rupert and you?”

 

Geillis started laughing and clasped her hands together in amusement, “Sweetheart, I think ye missed someone.”

 

Confusion overwhelmed me, “Wot?”

 

“Frank. Ye left out Frank. See that slander frog-faced man, barely visible behind Jamie’s huge biceps. The man ye call yer _boyfirend_ -  Frank.”

 

“Oh God,” my cheeks were blowing fire, “Oh my God. I am horrible.”

 

“No, ye aren’t ClaireBear. Ye are just no in love wi’ that man. And as soon as ye realise that, the better. For everyone.”

 

“I know,” I whispered shyly, but before I was able to voice my concerns, I was interrupted with Angus squeezing the last breath out of me.

 

“Angus whatever-your-middle-name-is Mhor, let me down this instant!” I tried to wiggle out of his grasp, but to no success.

 

“Are ye women ready to kick the slopes,” he asked and his grip tightened before he let go of me and went to give Geillis the same treatment.

 

“Dare to touch me, and I’ll rip yer balls off.”

 

“What is wrong wi’ ye woman? I was just showin’ my love fur ye. And I get treated as a pig.” He faced Rupert and Jamie who could not stop shaking from laugher, “We men need to stick together, aye? Or these women will be the end of us.”

 

I could swear on my life that Jamie murmured “ Hopefully ” and looked at me. I stared back, until Angus turned towards Geillis and me and took his phone out of his pocket. “Jamie, will ye take a photo of Rupert and myself with the ladies?”

 

We all stared back in confusion, and then... I got it. Geillis and I wore matching outfits, except her jacket was black and her bottoms were fire-yellow as my jacket. Similarly, Rupert had green jacket and yellow pants, whereas Angus had yellow jacket and green pants.

 

Angus turned to Geillis and me then, “We are two sets of twins, ye ken. We better picture the moment. To have memories and such, aye?”

 

I could not help but gigle when Rupert smacked his head, “Aye, ye bod ceann. Ye need pictures as memories, when yer brain is as hollow as a tube.”

 

“Bite ma bawsack ye radge wee shite,” Angus hit him back, and Jamie got in between before they progressed onto a battlefield.

 

“Okay, it is about time we go skiing, before I get yet another headache from your yelling.” Oh God, Frank.

 

“Let’s just snap the bloody picture and go,” Rupert cried and the four of us fake-smiled for the camera.

 


 

 

 

 

We were skiing until four in the afternoon, and then had to take yet another break for lunch, because Angus’s stomach developed a “black hole”, and ate every gram of food he consumed throughout the day.

 

I was half way through my crème brûlée, when Jamie proposed we carry on with skiing until one of the snowcats - snow grooming machine - grooms us with the snow.

 

“We have around thirty minutes before the chair-lifts close for the day. Do ye want to go for the last off piste for the day?” Angus, Rupert and Jamie rented out snowboards, while Geillis, Frank and I took skis. So naturally, I thought he was asking the guys, but his gaze riveted towards me.

 

Since we were equally divided between skies and boards, those were the groups we went down the slopes with. I was not very happy about spending time with Jamie only during lunch-breaks, when everyone was constantly around. Well, not everyone. Thankfully, Laoghaire was busying herself in the kindergarten learning how to hold ski sticks.

 

I would guess that Frank noticed Jamie’s gaze in my direction, and since he always had to stick his long-arsed nose in my business, he answered before I ever had a chance to swallow a bite of my crème brûlée.

 

“I think we shall call it a day. We are pretty tired, aren’t we darling?” We locked eyes, and I hope he got the memo of an old-fashioned stern look that pretty much said fuck off you annoying-party-pooper-boring man.

 

“Actually,” I pursued, “I might just be in for a little adrenaline-rising off-piste closure. It will be fun,” Jamie’s grin had a little resemblance of the one of Joker’s, making it a little creepy yet really cute at the same time.

 

Frank stomped his foot beneath the table, and rose from his chair, “Claire, we are tired after skiing the whole day. We are going back to the hotel.” I was furious with his sudden change of attitude, letting the anger linger in my calm voice, “Frank, if you are tired, go home. I am fine.”

He grabbed my right hand forcibly, making me drop the spoon I was eating my crème brûlée with, and pulled me to the side, out of earshot.

 

“Claire, are you out of your goddamn mind?” He spit in my face. “What are you doing trying to humiliate and disrespect me in front of the whole bloody restaurant?”

 

I gripped my hand into fists, and had to take in all the control I had in my body to keep them by my side, instead of glueing them to his jaw.

 

“I disrespected you? Are you fucking kidding me Frank? You degraded my right to an opinion in front of all my friends, treated me like a voodoo doll where you poke and I cry in agreement. That is not how relationships work Frank. You have to let me have fun and do things that make me happy, with people who make me happy. You cannot bloody control my every move or make decisions for me.”

 

I took a deep breath, mentally going over all the arguments I have to give, which were collected through the past two years.

 

“And I do not make you happy, Claire? Is that the point of all this blabbering? Last I thought, relationships were about compromising. We skied all day with them, because you wanted it that way, Claire. The last thing you can give me in return is to go back to the hotel with me. “They are my friends, we should spend time with them.” And what am I to you, Claire? A man who pities you? A shoulder to cry on whenever life fucks you over? When are you going to spend time with me? Please, for the love of God, enlighten me Claire, because I do not understand my purpose in your life. If you are so miserable with me, why are you with me then, Claire?”

 

This all hit very close to home, and I was fighting an already lost war. My tears were on the verge of spilling, but I would be damned to give Frank satisfaction of witnessing my pain.

 

“Frank, I think you should drink some water and calm down. People are watching us.”

 

“_I_do_not_care_about_other_people,” he nearly screamed through gritted teeth.

 

He seemed to look right through me, like I was a ghost he wasn’t able to see.

 

“Frank,” I pleaded, “Let’s go to the hotel, I think it’s about time we have the talk.”

 

I pushed past him and went to our table. I avoided everyone’s faces, knowing that if I locked eyes with anyone, I would turn into a waterfall of tears. I cried a river before, I could do it again, that was not the problem. I just did not want to talk about my relationship with anyone except Frank right now.

 

It was about time we either moved on together, or from each other.



Chapter Text

It was about twenty minutes later that we reached the hotel. Frank came in before me, so I slammed the door of our hotel room shut, and hurried towards the bathroom.

 

I felt very nauseous, but I gave my best not to empty my stomach. I hated vomiting. It made me weak and powerless, even embarrassed. I decided to take a hot shower, clear my head, in order to make myself ready to face Frank.

 

I could not even comprehend when everything went south today, but it was the matter of time before we had to seriously discuss our relationship. I would not necessarily call it toxic or overly unhealthy, but it was far from perfect or even stable. Frank and I lost mutual respect towards each other about four months ago. He because of my kiss with Jamie, I because of his betrayal with his student. It would’ve hurt less if he slept with her from infatuation or attraction, even love. But to sleep with her out of spite for me, as a mean of revenge, was heartbreaking. Did I mean that little to him?

 

I would never want to stay in a relationship with someone who cheated on me. But Frank was a manipulator, the best of the kind. He made me feel tremendous amount of guilt for dunk-kissing Jamie. He made it impossible for me to forget what I did. Even now, I wouldn’t rule out that he was blaming me for the destruction of our relationship.

 

So when he cheated on me, I had no say. I couldn’t break up with him, because of the guilt inside my head that was silently screaming all the time. He made me think that his affair was the result of my infidelity. I could not even comprehend that he did worse by me. I could not see past my guilt. I was blinded.

 

So I gave in. I gave us a second chance, without having a choice of giving up. If anything medical school taught me, it was to know how to estimate the perfect time to give up, stop trying, and do better next time. It wasn’t the coward’s way to give up, it was the rational mind’s. When an illness is fatal or chronic, you would do anything in your power to heal it, to make it less.

 

Nevertheless, you would reach a point where nothing else could be done. Where no matter how many times you defibrillate the patient, the outcome would be the same: they either lived or died. And when the point of dying occured, that was not called giving up. That was called trying.

 

I tried to try with Frank again, but it just backfired. And now was the time to give up and move forward with my life.

 

Somewhere deep down inside my heart, I was hoping that we would be fine. I didn’t remember my parents or their relationship, even though Lamb made sure I knew about their infinite love for each other. I had no experience in long-term relationships prior to meeting Frank. Uncle Lamb was a lone wolf. He had a woman from time to time, but nothing lasting more than a month.

 

He always used to say “Pumpkin, never dare to follow in my footsteps. Love is impossible to dig out in this profession.” I would just reply like any other six year old, “But uncle, I love you. Isn’t that love?”

 

And he, of course would say, “That’s a different kind of love, Pumpkin.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

He would smile, “The love of your family is very special, sacred and forever lasting. The love of a lover while unique, has an expiration date. Like milk. The first couple of days you drink it, it's delicious, but two weeks from that it gets spoilt and ready to be replaced by new milk.”

 

I would just shrug my shoulders in indifference. Yet, as an adult, I now understood that Lamb’s heart was broken by someone dear to him and unknown to me. As a consequence, he never let himself love again. As a kid, I thought it was cool to have Lamb all to myself. Afterall, he was my only family. The only person on this world who loved me unconditionally. However, I came to a realization that I did not want to end up like my uncle. Alone. And I would not let Frank stamp my heart with pain.

 

I splashed cold water on my face and looked at the mirror above the his-and-hers sink. I couldn’t even recognize the woman looking back at me. I was born with dark brown curly hair. Frank never liked my natural hair, so I had to straighten it or pull it back in a ponytail. There was not one spark in my eyes. The look I was giving right now was sad and tired. I had to change and be able to breathe in my skin and be myself again. If Frank could not embrace that, I would perhaps find someone who could. Someone who could love me unconditionally, like Lamb, for all my flaws and strengths. Someone who would not expect it of me to change who I was, in order to accommodate their preferences.

 

I turned one-eighty and entered the shower. I let the warm water spill over me and take all the pain and sorrow away. I needed to feel fresh and collected. My emotions were everywhere, and I needed to gather them to one place and put a lock, enabling me to take control of my emotions. I let the tears spill freely down my cheeks. They blended in fine with the water.

 

The steam was starting to dominate the bathroom, so I wrapped up my routine and exited the shower. As I cleaned the mirror from the steam, I recognized my reflection again. My wet hair curled up around my shoulders, and, although my eyes were puffy and red from crying, they gave a lighter and stronger look.

 

Once I was settled, I exited the bathroom and found Frank on the balcony, with a drink in hand.

 

“Whisky?” He asked, his voice low and exhausted.

 

“Yes, thank you.”

 

“Frank,” I swallowed a generous sip of very good whisky, “I think we came to a dead end. I think we tried our best, but we are just so different. And I do not want to fight anymore. I don’t have energy for it.”

 

“I understand,” he said calmly, leaving me staring back in surprise.

 

“You do?”

 

“Yes. As much as it pains me to say it, you don’t love me. I am not sure you ever did. I understand that your affection lays elsewhere and before you argue, I think I understand that too.”

 

“Frank, I -”

 

“Let me finish, please.” He waited for my response and I nodded. This was not how I expected this conversation to go.

 

“I understand that you are grateful for the version of myself from two years ago. But we changed, and now we want different things. I thought I wanted this, but I don’t. I never wanted to make you love me. I approached our situation from a wrong angle, and I think I realise that.”

 

I exhaled, “We are good people, Frank. We are just not good for each other.”

 

He seemed not to pay attention to me, “I get uncontrollably furious when I see you with James. You are always smiling, blushing or laughing. I cannot recall the last time a made you laugh, Claire. It is unforgivable to keep you for myself and not make you happy.”

 

“You used to make me happy, never forget that.”

 

“I won’t. But I think it’s time for me to go. I will not make you follow me, and if ever you feel like being friends in the future, I will be there.”

 

I could not understand a tinge of sadness in my heart, “Thank you. Truly.”

 

Just then, did I notice his suitcase next to him. “You are leaving,” I stated breathlessly and matter-of-factly.

 

“Yes, sadly, there is nothing holding me back anymore.”

 

He finished his drink, stood up and walked to our door. He turned towards said door, and over his shoulder, whispered “Goodbye, Claire.”

 

Before I had time to blink, he was gone. I was too confused and overwhelmed with emotions, that I needed to lay down and catch some rest. Hopefully, by the time I wake up, I would know how to process what just happened.

 


 

“Wh.. wha..whe...what?” I was startled from my nap by a loud beeping noise. I started to get up when I noticed the bed was much lighter. I turned to my left and faced the emptiness of the bed. Frank . Oh God. I felt horrible, but finally free. I hoped that wasn’t making me a bad person.

 

The beeping sound led me to our my balcony window, and I was relieved to have found the source of the noise. It was a snowcat. I looked at the clock and groaned in frustration. It was one in the morning, and there was no way I could go back to sleep.

 

Just as I thought to make some tea and read a book, I saw a gleam of blue and red lights reappearing in the sky. I went out to the balcony and saw the lights emerge from “Le Malaysia.” That was the largest underground club in the area - I would know, since Geillis couldn’t wait to tell me how good it was.

 

As I was looking at it, the exterior wasn’t that impressive. It was made of white wood - from what I could tell, and the shape resembled an igloo.

However, the interior that was under the ground was supposed to “blow yer mind, ClaireBear,” citing hyped Geillis.

 

As I was weighing the costs and benefits of making a rational decision to either stay in and read a book, or go out and have some fun, I came to the conclusion that gin was always better than tea, and I had no gin in my room. Of course, the rational part of my mind told me “Just call room service, Beauchamp,” but my more socially acceptable - Geillis approved -  and irrational part told me “Go out and have fun. You are single and ready to mingle. And drunk-dance.”

 

The next thing I knew, I was sitting at the bar of Le Malaysia , holding my fourth - or was it fifth? - glass of gin. The music was out of my forté, and the people here seemed to be quite younger than me, so I focused on drinking. And so far, I was doing rather amazing.

 

I waved my forefinger at the bartender, showing my empty glass that needed some serious refilling.

 

“C'est beaucoup de gin pour une dame,” a beautiful french-accented voice said somewhere near me. Maybe it was the french gin talking in my head, but when the voice started blabbering in a record speed, I had to put a stop to it. I turned to my right, hoping that the source of the voice was on that side. “I have no idea what you just said. But, I’ll take it as a compliment that you think I look French,” I said through a laugh.

 

My vision cleared, and I saw that there was no one there. Just when I thought I was pissing drunk - or not far from it, I felt a feather-like pat on my left shoulder, followed by a girly giggle. I matched the giggle with a beautiful, short blonde woman with striking blue eyes. She started laughing after seeing the amount of confusion that was swimming on my face.

 

“I said that is a lot of gin for a lady ,” she was pointing on the numerous empty glasses in front of me.

 

I contradicted with a snort-like noise, “As you can see, I’m no lady,” I finished with a more than a tinge of sadness in my voice.

 

“Oh, ma chérie, you are a lady broken by a man,” she stated matter-of-factly while I was looking through my empty glass, wondering where the hell was the bartender to fill it up.

 

“Am I right?” It looked like this woman was more of a wreck than me. Why else would she talk to me? Why would she care?

 

“Comme ci comme ça,” Before she was able to say anything, I added, “Now, don’t go all French and furious at me, because the list of words I can pronounce is as short as this stupid glass. You come to a club, and the least you expect is for them to have nice long glasses that can hold more than a sip of alcohol. Don’t you think?”

 

She was giggling, “Sure. So, who broke your cœur, um -”

 

“Claire. Claire Beauchamp,” I offered a hand.

 

“What a pretty name. I am Louise de La Tour,” she shook my hand.

 

“Wow, if my name is pretty, than what is yours? Are you an aristocrat or something?”

 

“Non, but my parents wanted a name fitted for an aristocrat’s wife, if you will.”

 

“I don’t think you’ll find anything but hrony twenty-one year olds here.”

 

Louise laughed some more, “I think you are right. Tu es très amusant.”

 

“Sure,” I was about to get up and head back to the hotel when Louise stopped me, “It will be easier for you to talk about it. It does not have to be with me,  but trust me, ma chérie, it will be better.”

 

So I told her my “sad” story, without going into too much details, because at the end of the day - she was a stranger. She could be a serial killer and I could be her next target, for all I knew. She didn’t look it, but I was raised not to judge a book by its cover.

 

“Oh, mon Dieu. I am so sorry, Claire,” I was about to pull my it’s-fine-I’m-a-survivor face, when she talked again.

 

“I am also feeling that you are not telling me everything.” Oh no, she was not buying what I was selling.

 

“I ‘ave a feeling there is another man. Am I right?”

 

“Why are you asking questions you know the answers to?”

 

“How do you know if I know?” She was incredulous, but I could see amusement forming in her eyes.

 

“Because... I have a glass face, so I know everything is on display for everyone to see. But, I also think that you speak from experience, and that because of that you think you can help me, but I’m not sure if I am quite ready for that,” I concluded.

 

“Maybe, but I also do not think drinking is an answer.”

 

“Careful Louise, I am not an alcoholic, no need to go there,” I voiced more anger than I was feeling, but again, who was she to judge?

 

Of course, she read my mind like French Vogue, “My intention was not to judge nor pry, my apologies. I was just trying to help, because I’ve been in your shoes before, and I learned from my mistakes.”

 

This day brought too much negativity, plus all the alcohol I drank made me very tired and yearning for my bed, so I gave myself an out.

 

“Hypothetically saying, there is a man. _ The_ man of my dreams, beautiful, funny, hard-working, and more importantly, respectful. He respects me and treats me like an equal, and he also thinks what I do is “phenomenally brave.” I never got such support from Frank, and I am craving for it. I worked hard to get to where I am, and no man will degrade me again like Frank did.”

 

“You are scared,” it was not a question, but a statement. “But why? If your mystery man is everything you want, why not give it a try? What scares you?”

 

“You are asking a lot of questions, and I am quite drunk to comprehend all that. However, hypothetically, I am very insecure of my body and my capabilities. Those are still raw scarrs, and I am working on healing them, but it is just too soon.”

 

“Claire, life is short. There is not enough time for you to worry about what ifs and what nots. You need to live in the moment. Look at the people around you! They are dancing like someone is skinning them alive, and their singing is far from melodic, but they are embracing their insecurities and having the best time.”

 

“Louise, I don’t think you understand -”

 

“Tell him.”

 

“What?” I was dumbfounded.

 

“Tell your man what you are feeling.”

 

“Oh, that. No. that’s impossible.”

 

“Why?”

 

I shrugged my shoulders, “Well, he is here with someone. I don’t think he likes her at all, but still. The fact is that he brought her here for a reason, and he probably doesn’t like me like that anyway.”

 

I took a deep breath, “I mean, why would he? I do not look like a twenty-two year old barbie, I am a woman who is living in the real world. I don’t have a lot of free time to go to the clubs and get pissing drunk, or anything fun like that. I am in my third year residency, and have a lot to study for my exams - if I ever plan to become a surgeon. He is young, and should not wait around for years, until I would be finally able to have some spare time.”

 

Louise seemed to ignore my whining, while following her own accord, “Do you love him?”

 

I felt butterflies and other unfamiliar sensations flow through my body, “I… I… I don’t really know. I do feel something very strong for him, I am just not sure if that is love.”

 

She absorbed what I told her for a long time, and finally stood up from her chair, “Claire, ma chérie, I think you are very enamoured with your hypothetical -” she air quotined and enunciated every syllable in a mocking tone - “man. You just need to let go of your subconscious thoughts, and let your cœur do the talking. Now, let's get you to your room, and tomorrow when you are sober, you will think about how to proceed further.”

 

I yawned in agreement, and she nudged my shoulder, “Never forget to have fun Claire. Nevermind your profession, everyone deserves to have fun and be happy.”

 

We reached my room and I surprised the both of us when I hugged her, “Thank you Louise, for your honesty, advice, help and most importantly that you listened. I needed this.”

 

She hugged me back, “Bien sûr. Also, I was stood up from a blind date, so you were there for me to. In a way.” She laughed and I could not help but giggle myself.

 

I unlocked my door and turned to her, “Goodnight Louise. Hope you find someone worthy of you and not some old, boring aristocrat.”

 

“Thank you, bonne nuit.”

 

I closed my door, and moved to turn the lights on when I noticed a shadow next to the leather couch.

 

I gripped my purse tight and tried not to scream, “Frank is that you? Did you forget something?” I switched the light on in a record speed, and nearly fainted from relief. Then confusion followed when the tall figure departed the couch and in three large steps was a breath away from my face.

 

“Claire, I’m in love wi' ye,” I must have gasped incredibly loud, because the next thing I knew, I was silenced by the softest lips and the tightest grip on my waist, preventing me to move. Little did he know, that even wild horses couldn’t keep me away.


Chapter Text

I couldn’t move. Literally could not move, due to one giant Scot holding me captive against the wooden door of my hotel room. I also couldn’t breathe, the consequence of focusing on the more important things at hand. Like kissing back. However, not liking being neglected, it wasn’t long after the oxygen made its way to the top of my priority list.

 

As I detached my lips from his, I bumped my head on the damned door behind me. By reflex, my arm flew to comfort the back of my head. Thank the Lord for my mass of curls.

 

“Christ, Sassenach. Are ye okay?” I tried to wiggle my way out of his grasp, to no avail. “Jamie, let me go. I need to breathe.” I was freed from his hold, and I already regretted my decision, yet I hurried for the table in front of my bed. I took an Evian from the little fridge beneath the table, and gulped half the bottle.

 

The awkward silence that I hoped would not appear just seconds ago, captivated my room. I screwed the cap back on the bottle and gently shoved it on the table.

 

As I dared to lift my eyes towards the door, I came in view with the man of my dreams. His blue eyes darkened by lust, his crimson hair slightly disheveled, his chest heaved in quick rhythm with my own, and his hands were stored in the pockets of his devilishly slim jeans. His impassive face wasn’t giving him away, whereas he was probably reading mine as easily as skimming through a sports magazine. Our eyes locked, but neither tried to act upon our desire.

 

It then occurred to me that in my dreams, it was never this much awkward. I always knew how to approach him or what to say. Not that much talking was done in my dreams. Now though, I found myself glued to the floor beneath me, and very mad that I could not seem to gather any strength to move. My frustration travelled down my arm, and that was when I realised I was still holding the water bottle, now all crushed, bent and wrinkled down the middle.

 

As I turned my attention to the short-lived Evian, I felt familiar warmth coat my neck. Right on cue, goosebumps welcomed the iron-hot breeze. “Sassenach,” Jamie whispered in my ear, gently biting my earlobe. I did not even think before easing myself into his touch, pushing my back to collide with his rock solid front.

 

“Oh God,” was all I could muster to say when his tongue made an appearance and started tip-toeing around my earlobe. It was dead silent in my room, save our alacritous breaths and oddly satisfying sounds of my continuous torture of the plastic bottle in my hold. His hands were roaming around my waist, whilst his tongue started a teasingly slow path to my neck. I cocked my head slightly towards the door to give him further access.

 

Frustration long forgotten, I let go of the bottle and placed my arms on top of Jamie’s, entwining our fingers on my waist. “Jamie,” I pleaded, to an unknown cause, but knew I needed more. After placing a loud hungry kiss just below my jawline, he took me by the waist, turned me around in the air and placed me into a seating position atop the table. I automatically opened my legs and pulled him by the arms closer to me. His mouth was on my neck in seconds, and I felt as if I was on my very own cloud nine - featuring James Fraser.

 

“Christ, Sassenach. Ye smell so good…. Wait -” No, what? “Jamie,” I whispered while managing to bring him even closer between my legs. “No wait . Please continue,” I repositioned my neck for better results.

 

“Claire,” oh no, my name was only reserved for serious talk, therefore my frustration was back in place. “Where is Frank?” I took a deep breath, bracing myself for what was surely to be a heated discussion.

 

“Well, Jamie, I do not think that’s the right question to ask me.”

 

His bewildered face was staring at me, “What do ye mean it isna the right question? Of course it is,” he shrugged his shoulders and moved my leg in order to get access to the mini fridge.

 

Shocked at his dismissal, I fought back. “ No , Jamie, it isn’t.”

 

After he drank what he seemed to think was a satisfactory amount of water, or in this case - the whole three hundred milliliters of water - he tossed his bottle in the bin next to the fridge and took hold of my still-sprawled legs. I couldn’t help but swoon a little while watching his neck muscles flex and his Adam’s apple swiftly move while swallowing all that water.

 

“What’s the question then?”

 

All of a sudden, I got very uncomfortable with our close proximity, but could do little about that predicament, since Jamie would not let go of me for all the tea in bloody China. “The question is -” I spoke with more force than particularly necessary, “- why is Laoghaire here?”

 

“She isna here,” he tried for nonchalance, but not today and certainly not with me.

 

“I don’t mean in my room, Jamie. And I know you know that. So, the question is, why did you bring Laoghaire on this vacation?”

 

His hold on my legs tightened, “Weel, she wanted to come and I couldna tell her that she canna.”

 

What? “Of course you could, Jamie. And for your information, I don’t plan on sitting on this table forever, it isn’t very comfortable, my bum’s hurting. So, the sooner you answer the damned question the sooner we can proceed to the next step.”

 

“Weel, if ye can just answer my question, I might be able to do something ‘bout that bum hurtin’ of yers.” I slapped his hands away before anything indecent occurred. “Jamie, please stop distracting me. Why is she here if you hate her that much?”

 

He shrugged his shoulders and went few steps backwards, seating himself on the edge of my bed - or is it his bed? We’ll have to come to that at some point. “I dinna hate her, Sassenach. She fancies me and I would’ve broken her wee heart if I told her she couldna come. Plus, her father is one of the shareholders in my company, and he talked to me about her having an interest in me. I said I would give her a chance, and I have. I dinna like her, but I also canna go around and make my shareholders mad. Although, she is quite annoying.”

 

“Jamie, for Christ’s sake. If she is annoying to you, why did you bloody kiss her at that gas station?” He blushed. “I dinna kiss her, she kissed me, and when I realised what she did I backed away. Anyway, she knows I have hots for another lass, and that is the end of that.” He finished off with his famous smirk, that had me boiling with desire all over again.

 

“Really,” I teased. “And who’s this lass the King of Men has the hots for?”

 

His laughter will be my new choice of poison - it even preceded binge-eating French fries. “Claire, come here,” his hand patting his thighs summoned me. However, the long forgotten drunkenness came as reminder when I jumped of the table and nearly lost my footing, but before Jamie could ruin the moment by helping me, I ran  towards him - Tom Cruise style - and hopped on his lap, straddling him. “We’ll talk about yer drinking tomorrow then,” Jamie said while nuzzling in my neck. “Now, where’s Frank?” I breathed out, both in pleasure and surrender, “After the fight at that restaurant, we came here and had a highly civilized talk, really , and then he was gone.”

 

I pressed closer to Jamie, “What do ye mean gone?”

 

“Well, we broke up…”

 

“Why?”

 

“Reasons,” this time I was trying my luck with nonchalance. Although, I would never have thought that he was about to give in. “Fine, we’ll talk tomorrow. Can I kiss ye now?” He teased.

 

“Didn’t stop you earlier, why ask now?” I teased back, while admiring his beautiful blue eyes sparkling with lust.

 

“Claire…,” he murmured while softly biting down my jaw.

 

“Fine, yes_you_can,” and everything else was forgotten when he gently pressed his lips to mine. His hands travelled to my bum on his lap, and all the numbness from before disappeared. I thought I was going to explode from the amount of desire my body was channeling for this man in front of me. “Jamie,” I pleaded, hoping he would get the clue.

 

“Christ, Sassenach, you have the roundest arse I have ever seen.” I felt a weird feeling of pride, which earned Jamie a very sensual kiss. I bit his lower lip and then eased the sting with a brush of my tongue, asking for entrance. He opened his lips to me, and our tongues met in a hurry of pleasure. I had kissed a decent amount of men in my time, but kissing Jamie could never even start to compare. His arms were busying themselves from my waist to my bum, my arms around his neck, and our tongues dancing in a very slow and sensual rhythm.

 

I was struggling with unbuttoning his very posh and very gorgeously dark burgundy shirt, when his fingers stopped me instead of helping me. He started buttoning himself up and I couldn’t help but punch him in the chest. “Hey, I was taking that off!” His chuckle made me even more angrier, “Jamie. Take. It. Off. Now!”

 

“Sassenach, ye are pissin’ drunk,” he stood up, with me in his arms, my hands around his neck and my legs around his waist holding on for dear life.

 

“Jamie, where are you taking me?”

 

“Weel, to bed of course,” he said through mild astonishment, like how dared I ask. “Oh, I like it,” I started kissing him, because honestly, I just could not get enough of that full, sweet and plump mouth.

 

“Mo ghraidh, I willna do anything less than worship ye with my love, but I would like ye to remember all the times I loved ye, therefore you_bed_now.”

 

“Uh, bossy, are we?” I muttered through showering him with quick kisses. “Claire, I am not even sure if ye will remember this, but I hope to all that’s mighty and holy that ye do.” At this point, he is taking my heels of, and peeling me from my crazy tight dress, leaving me under the covers in just my underwear. “Christ, Claire, ye are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” If it was possible to blush even more, I did just that. Then I smiled and locked eyes with him, “You are not bad yourself.”

 

“Weel, if I recall right, ye called me the King of Men...so...I guess if ye say it then it must be true.” I looked at him with as much possibility of a bemused look as my amusement would let, “Cocky, are we?” I earned myself another dose of his full on belly laugh - my poison. “Sleep now. I will see ye at breakfast, right.” He kissed my forehead, than my nose, and finally a soft kiss on my lips. “Right,” I barely whispered with sleep slowly but efficiently overtaking me.

 


 

I was awoken by the loudest bumping noise to ever be heard, and my gigantic hangover was not helping one bit. However, I couldn’t help but smile an ear-splitting smile when I reminisced about last night. It was just so perfect in so many ways. Jamie telling me that he was in love with me, and that Laoghaire annoyed him even more than she did me, was just icing on top of a cake. It still felt out-of-this-world that someone like James Fraser would fancy someone like me, but that just made me smile even more. To know that he liked me for who I was and for what I had to offer just makes me cry happy tears. I reached for my phone to see that it was eight in the morning. Perfect. I might have had four hours of sleep, maybe less.

 

Yet again, my anger was long forgotten when I saw three text messages from Jamie.

 

Jamie : Canna believe that just happened. Claire, ye rock my world!! xxJAMMF

 

Jamie : Drink some water when ye wake up, I hope yer hangover isna killing ye. If ye canna handle the pain, I am just one phone call away… xxJAMMF

 

Jamie : Text me when ye wake up, I am killing my nerves on a treadmill… xxJAMMF

 

There are no words that could describe the depth of feelings I have towards this man. None would do my feelings justice, so I pray my actions would be enough of a translator.

 

Me : I’ll be fine when I see you!! Would love to keep this for ourselves while we figure everything out. Hope that’s okay with you. I had an amazing end of the day, thank you!! xxCEB

 

His reply was instant, so much that it got me scared for him. Didn’t he say he was on a treadmill?

 

Jamie : Ye are very welcome, mo ghraidh. xxJAMMF

 

Me : James Fraser! If you are texting and running at the same time, I may not have who to call if my hangover doesn't stop. See you at breakfast…. xxCEB

 

Jamie: Dinna ken what yer talking about...xx

 

My swooning session was cut short by the continuous insults on my door, that Jamie’s messages managed to completely mask out - until now. I marched to the mini fridge and took an Evian. While I was swallowing the water, the thoughts of how much all this mini fridge experience would cost me quickly vanished when my conscious mind reminded me that I was very well acquainted with the owner - very well indeed.

 

I moved to the bathroom to take my robe, and fast-brush my curly mass of hair, to no avail since it always had a mind of its own. But, just in case that the owner in question was the one jumping my door, I sprayed myself with my favourite Bvlgari - Rose Goldea , and dared to unlock my door. On the second thought, Jamie did not seem to bother with knocking when he broke into my room last night, so, the chances of this being him would be very slim - quite unfortunate.

 

I could not help but groan in disappointment when I saw Geillis smiling from ear to ear. Something told me that my thunder was about to be stolen by her. Awsome.

 

“Wow, ouch Clairebear. So nice to see ye too,” with one hand she touched her heart and with the other she drew an invisible tear escaping her eye, mocking me.

 

“Sorry, I am afraid I’m suffering from unwanted hangover this morning,” I pull my robe closer around me and let her in my room.

 

“WHAT? Claire, please dinna tell me ye went clubbing wi’out me,” she took hold of her head with both hands, which was supposed to represent confusion.

 

“Fine, I won’t tell you. Do you fancy a cup of tea?” I ask nonchalantly, hoping to skip talking about last night. I was always a horrible liar, and if I start talking about the events of last night, there would be no way to conceal the fact that Jamie and I almost slept together.

 

“ ‘Do I fancy a cup of tea’, she asks. Claire, if ye tell me anything except that ye were drunk from boredom and missing me, I might not be able to forgive ye.”

 

“It was very boring indeed. There was this girl, Louise -” Of course, my best friend didn’t stray from letting me know how she felt about me having other friends, so she shoved her forefinger in her mouth and scrunched her face in disgust. I, however, continued with some dignity that was left in me, “- and she just made me talk a lot, while I was drinking even more. So...not so fun.” There. That wasn’t completely the truth, since Louise really helped me with our chit-chat, but I would rather bury myself alive than tell Geillis that. It also wasn’t a lie, since I was quite bored before Louise came, and I did drink a lot.

 

“Good, I’m glad ye suffered.” She moved to the balcony and opened the drapes of the large window, revealing nothing. Literally nothing.

 

“Hey, where did the mountains go?” My confusion was cut short by Geillis’ amused giggle, “Silly, they didna go anywhere. It’s the fog.” Wow, that was some dense fog right there. I would rather have guessed that somebody painted the windows dirty white.

 

Geillis met my perplexed face, hence the elaboration, “Since the slopes are invisible for the day, we all thought to spend today indoors, playing pool or chilling at the spa. What d’ye think?”

 

As long as Jamie’s with me, I don’t think I care. “I’m fine with whichever.”

 

“Why did ye go drinking in the first place, Claire?”

 

“Frank left,” I said emotionlessly and matter-of-factly.

 

“Claire,” she took a deep breath, “Ye should never joke about such serious topic. Now, seriously, why d’ye drink?”

 

“I am telling you Geillis, we broke up and he left.”

 

“No?”

“Yes, I mean do you see him here?” I was a bit taken aback when Geillis started looking around the room like a child who just ate fifteen bars of chocolate. “NO WAY? HE’S GONE? OMG, that’s amazing.” Scratch that, now I was taken aback. I mean, I knew she never liked him, but to be this excited was over-the-top disrespectful.

 

As if reading my mind, she turned from the balcony and hugged me. “I’m sorry Claire, but he was horrible for ye and I am just happy that ye finally realised it.” I hugged her back, “I know, thank you.”

 

“Anyway, while we’re on the topic of men - minus Frank, -” Oh no no no, please don’t mention Jamie, please don’t mention Jamie “- Rupert and I shagged. And mighty heavens, it was the best shag ever.” Oh thank God. “Wow, I am not sure what to say really. Congratulations? I’m happy for you?”

 

“Weel, ye should be, it was spectacular. I mean, the way he moved and -”

 

“Thank you Geillis, but I’d rather you stop with detailed description right now.”

 

“Right. I still canna believe Franklin is gone. Nah, of course I can,” I could forever hate her laugher, I really, really could. “So, are ye ready for breakfast, now that ye are single and ready to mingle?” She smirked while successfully teasing me.

 

I blindly took some clothes from the wardrobe and prayed they would make a decent outfit for the indoor adventure that was sure to be had. Before I closed the bathroom door, I threw Geillis a very bemused look, “I’ll just take breakfast. You keep the mingle for yourself,” and I jumped in the shower before Geillis started her philosophy on the importance of intercourse for having a healthy mind.

 

This would for sure be the longest day of my life, and it barely started.

 



Chapter Text

I have never in my life wanted to eat breakfast as much as in this moment. I also never wanted anything in my life as much as I wanted her. And that wasna just because I could feel the electricity striking my body whenever I was close to her. It was even worse when I touched and kissed her last night. My body was on fire, and she wasna the water that would extinguish the fire, but rather the fuel that would cause conflagration in my body. That fire canna be ceased nor would I ever want it to be.

 

I wasna particularly unhappy before Claire came into my life, but I was definitely acquainted with loneliness and I knew that something was missing - or someone . Even though I had my share of women, they never ignited these kinds of feelings that I was now experiencing. There was a fling here and there that would fill the void for a short period, like what I had with Mary. She was a broken lass and I was a broken lad. We both knew that two broken people willna result in anything permanent, but we helped each other out. We had respect in between us, which was enough. We met at “ The World’s End ,” which was a notorious nightclub, where single and broken people would come and seek comfort in other people who mirrored their emotional status. I was twenty-two years old, and I am not proud of the membership I had to that club. It is one of my biggest secrets and regrets, and I planned to leave it that way forever.

 

That year when I turned twenty-two years old was the year of emotional drainage. I was still in the University of Edinburgh, studying economics even though that wasna my first wish, however, my Da wanted it that way, so that was it. I had one year of university left, and then I would come to work for my Da’s company, “ Fraser & Co .”

 

Everything was planned in advance, but life doesna happen like ye want it to.

 

My father died of an unexpected heart attack on a Tuesday morning, and I was pronounced as the new CEO of “ Fraser & Co.” by Tuesday evening. Everything was a blur. I had to finish the remaining year of courses in two months, while I was both in training and taking over my Da’s business. It was verra hard for me, and I didna cope well wi’ my loss. I lost my mother when I was six years old, and I wasna ready to lose the only parent I had left. My sister Jenny was married and had three bairns already, so it was different for her. She had a family, and it wasna right for me to intrude, even if she insisted I come and stay with them at Lallybroch, I just couldna.

 

I felt hopeless, angry and sad. The world as I knew it was falling apart in front of my eyes. I soon found comfort in “ The World’s End .” It wasna just about meeting up wi’ random, strange women, but also socializing that I used as a distraction from what I was faced with. I wasna prepared to be a leader of a multi-million pound company.

 

I joined the club, but there was only one woman before Mary. She was a drunken encounter and it was a one night stand. Fortunately for me, Mary was the second woman I met there and we saved each other from that place which had all the power in the world to destroy us. Mary was a young widow and she seeked human contact to kill her loneliness before said loneliness killed her. Our relationship was brief, matter of two weeks, but she made me see that the grass was indeed greener and that my father’s death shouldna be the death of me. We helped each other grieve the ones we lost, and after we felt better, we decided it was for the best that we part. I will, however, always be grateful for her.

 

It wasna much later that I realised what I have done, which only motivated me to study hard and learn how to manage my Da’s business. For him. In the matter of weeks, I was the youngest owner of a multi-million company in the world. “ Fraser & Co. ” was a company that was buying out smaller businesses and reselling them. However, after I took over, I felt a sudden need for change. Hence, I transformed “ Fraser & Co. ” into “ Fraser’s Distillery, ” which was and still is the largest whisky distillery franchise in the world.

 

Now, six years later, the business is growing and succeeding better than ever before. I bought seventeen luxury hotel resorts all around the world, one of which, of course, was the Koh-I-Nor here in French Alps. All the hotels are owned by “ Fraser’s Distillery, ” except Koh-I-Nor, which I bought for my pleasure only.

 

I still dinna think that Claire knows much about my company, but I like it that way. For now, she doesna have to ken about my past and what I did in order to get myself to a better place. Of course, I couldna tell her the full truth of why I had to bring Laoghaire here either. I canna even try to imagine what I would do if Claire willna be able to understand. I verra much need her to understand.

 

Her father wasna just one of my shareholders, but he was also the owner of “ The World’s End. ” He knew I was a member and he threatened to expose me if I didna give his daughter a chance. By that time, I already new Claire and was crushed and heartbroken that she was in a relationship with a man that wasna me, so I took the bait and met Laoghaire. I didna need more than fifteen minutes to figure her out. She was a young, rich and dumb daddy’s lass. Did I mention she was also incredibly annoying? As well as needy and kinky in all the unpleasant ways possible. I told her father that I gave her a chance, but we were just two very different people. I managed to get him off my back, but Laoghaire is like a leech who is sucking her way under my skin and she isna about to let me go.

 

However, now that I have a real chance wi’ Claire, I dinna care what I have to do to get Laoghaire off my back. It started this morning after I woke up from the couch when I realised that she shouldna be in the same room wi’ me, when we aren’t even together. Her anger and bruised ego are the reasons why she willna be at this breakfast table today, thank Christ.

 

So aye, I have never in my life wanted to eat breakfast as much as in this moment, because I will be eating it wi’ the woman of my dreams and darkest desires for the first time since we ignited an inextinguishable fire in between us.

I felt her before I saw her.

 

My skin prickled in the most pleasurable of ways, and all my senses concentrated only on her, wiping out the rest of the world around us. But then I saw her… My breath was gone in a second and my heart threatened to leap out of my chest. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life.

 

Her curly wig was loose around her shoulders, just how I liked to see it. She was wearing black leggings that fitted her like a glove, hugging her curves perfectly. She paired the leggings with a few sizes bigger light pink hoodie which was cut to just under her belly button, with a matching colour nike sneakers. She prepared herself for staying indoors, which was fine wi’ me, since the plan was to hit the billiards or bowling alley. Although, I would’ve been equally happy - if not a lot more happy - if the two of us just stayed in my suite today.

 

She was accompanied by Geillis, who was - in contrast to Claire, wearing a pair of faux leather jeans and a strapless white crop top, wi’ a pair of uncomfortably high black heels. I would guess that the outfit was chosen for Rupert’s eyes.

 

As I pivoted to the left, I could see that Rupert was equally enchanted by his lass as much as I was wi’ mine. Angus, however, was oblivious to the women and kept playing games on his phone.

 

“Good morrow, fellas. How are ye this fine morning?” Geillis sat opposite

Rupert and next to Angus, who was sitting in front of me, while Claire set on the chair next to mine.

 

She leaned in and kissed my cheek, “Hi.” I felt the friend below my waist twitch in excitement, while I had to muster the energy that just travelled down to my cock, in order to greet her. “Hi, Sassenach. How did ye sleep?”

 

She was visibly blushing now, and I was pleased to see that I had the same effect on her that she had on me. “Like a baby. You.”

 

I got closer to her, until my mouth was touching her ear, “I couldna fall asleep for some time after I left yer room.”

 

“And why is that?” She asked through a whisper, while I bit her earlobe seductively, “Weel, ye see, there was this lass that left me wi’ a hard, throbbing and painful problem to deal wi’ all on my own,” I teased and retreated to my seat, before we started looking suspicious.

 

She took a deep breath and shifted in her chair, while fiddling with an empty glass. “Really? And what did you do with this problem of yours?”

 

We locked eyes, and I let my famous smirk do its magic, “That is for me to ken, and for ye to wonder.” Her mouth formed a slightly crooked O, but I could see the desire burning in her golden eyes. She blushed, and was now matching with my red Ralph T-shirt.

 

“Jamie…” She whispered, but was interrupted by a waiter who presented us with menus, and was now filling her empty glass wi’ water. Before he could fill the glass to the top, she snached the half-full glass of water and gulped it down in a second.

 

Angus let his phone down and looked at Claire, “Weel, someone’s thirsty.” That got me to involuntary cough, and look at Claire, who was now shielding herself with the menu.

 

“So, I’ve been thinkin’,” Angus broke the silence, which caused Rupert and me to laugh.

 

“Ye have the ability to think?” Rupert teased.

 

“Could’ve fooled me,” I added while flipping through the menu.

 

“Ach, haud yer wheesht, the both of ye! I ’m bein’ serious,” his brows snapped together from frustration, creating a perfect unibrow.

 

“Of course ye are Angus, of course ye are,” Geillis giggled.

 

I felt Claire’s hand on my thigh squeeze in warning, but it wasna doing anything to ease the situation in my pants. “What were you thinking about, Angus?”

 

Angus bowed his head to Claire, “Thank ye Claire. As I was sayin’, I’ve been thinking - weel actually reading, and I thought we can go back to Orelle tomorrow, since the weather should be nice and sunny.” He paused to look at his phone, “Anyway, I thought if the weather was good, we could go up to the highest peak of Val Thorens, which is around three thousand and two hundred meters tall. It was closed the other day, so we couldna go then.”

 

“That’s actually a good idea, mate,” Rupert continued to talk, while I placed my hand on Claire’s mid thigh. She looked at me shocked, her eyes widened, while I started drawing circles on her inner thigh wi’ my thumb. “Two can play this game, Sassenach,” I mouthed wi’ a smirk that had her head flying back instinctively.

 


After we finished the breakfast, we headed to the bowling alley. Some of us were more excited than others. When I said some, I meant Angus. He always had this freakish obsession wi’ bowling. Might be the big balls he’s obsessing wi’. Now that I thought ‘bout it, I didna see him wi’ a woman for nearly four years. Maybe he decided to play for the other team, if ye ken my meaning. Yet, he always knew how to repulse the prettier half. ‘Twas his only natural talent, except for playing games on his phone.

 

While we’re talking ‘bout games, I glanced opposite me to a big screen above the lanes, which was a proof of how good Angus has been so far. ‘Twas Claire, Angus and Geillis against Rupert and me. We thought the lasses wilna have a chance if they were alone. And of course, we were right.

 

No matter how many times Claire has punched me in either my arm or my chest to prove her strength, when she took anything that was heavier than a 12 kilos ball, she came short, not knocking out more than five of ten pins. Geillis was something else. She couldna stand no’ being in heels, and she let the whole France know it when she put on the bowling shoes and growled in frustration, something along the lines of “THESE MONSTROSITIES ARE FLATTER THAN JAMIE’S ABS.” I didna ken if ‘twas a compliment or no’, but I patted my abs anyway - in a ‘ye go lad’ kind of way.

 

I couldna even recall the number of times Angus cursed every Saint in Scotland for Claire’s and Geillis’ untalented ways. I wanted to punch his face back to Scotland for cursing Claire, but deep down I knew he wasna thinkin’ straight.

 

Either way, group “ Boobies ” - named by Rupert, and I’d rather watch the grass grow than ask how would Rupert know ‘bout Angus’ chest size, to keep it politically correct and all - won over us one hundred to seventy-six. After the war was over, we went for a short lunch break, before comin’ back for some Ronnie O’Sullivan worth snooker time. If Angus was the King of bowling, I was the King of snooker - besides being the King of Men, of course.

 


I feel ashamed and embarrassed, but I canna stop staring at her perfect round arse. The way she bent when she had to get to the right angle in order to make her move, she was practically begging me to look.

 

We have been playing snooker for the last hour and a half, and I could swear to the Gods, if she was to bent her plump arse one more time, I would have to do something about it.

 

Angus got bored right after we started playin’ - guess he doesna like losing much, so he retreated to his room. That left Rupert and me against Geillis and Claire.

 

I circled the table, and not-so-accidentally brushed my hand over Claire’s lower back. I heard her whispered moan that set me on fire all over again.

 

I took my cue stick and lowered it on the pool table. I didna have many options, so I opted for a blue ball - irony bein’ that I have two of those between my legs right now. In order for my move to be successful, I had to strategize for a moment. I pointed my stick to the cue ball, than pushed it towards one side of the table, in order for it to go to the opposite direction and hit the blue ball by the side, pushing it straight to the side pocket. Ronnie O’Sullivan has nothing on me.

 

I could feel Rupert clapping his hands in excitement that we were leading, while Geillis was crying in frustration how “ ‘Tis no a fair game, I canna play in heels.” Christ woman, make up yer mind. Now ye canna live wi’out heels, then ye canna do anything in them. Weel Geillis, ye made yer bed, now ye have to lie in it. I would have said something, but all I could concentrate on was Claire’s burning gaze fixed on my lips. In less two seconds, I was by her side. I took her by her hand, and walked and talked.

 

“I need to speak wi’ Claire. Ye dinna have to wait for us.” I ignored Rupert’s amusing whistle and pushed Claire into the storage room. I secured the lock, and before I knew, I had Claire pushed against the door, panting in my mouth.

 

“Christ, Sassenach. I think I will die from wantin’ ye.” I kept my mouth firmly on hers while I took her by her round arse, giving her space to lock her legs around my waist. Our tongues danced together in urgent need, while her arms locked around my neck.

 

“Jamie, I want you inside me,” and I had to control every muscle in my body, in order no’ to finish wi’out even getting down to it.

 

“Christ, Claire. I canna be gentle about it,” I lowered my mouth to her neck, while she was busying herself wi’ the hem of my shirt. I swiped my hand on the table behind us, ridding it of random objects, before lowering her onto it.

 

“I don’t want you to be gentle, Jamie.” Claire practically growled in frustration while trying to lift my shirt. I let go of her for long enough to strip off my clothes, while she lifted her hoodie, revealing her perfect, full breasts stored in a black lace bra.

 

“Christ,” I took hold of her hips, nudging my way in between her thighs. We locked eyes, and that was when I noticed her mouth slightly opened, her lips bright red and swollen from my kisses. Her eyes are hooded, her chest moving abruptly in rhythm with mine. I didna think I could’ve been more in love wi’ her than in this moment, when she canna wait for me to love her.

 

“Claire, ye are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” I could see her blush, even through the dim lighting of the storage room. Before she tried to counter-argument my compliment, I sealed our lips, and let my arms to roam around her back and unclasp her bra. While I was slowly and sensually pulling the straps of the lace bra down her arm, I riveted my gaze to her eyes, and through all the desire that was flowing in the golden depths, there was also shyness? maybe even fear. She quickly looked away from me.  

 

“Sassenach, look at me,” she smiled, but hesitated. I lifted her chin wi’ my forefinger, locking eyes.

 

“Tell me...please.”

 

“I just don’t want you to be disappointed, Jamie. I -,” she took a deep breath, “- I never…”

 

“Claire, what is it? Ye’re scaring me,” she bit her lower lip. “I don’t want you to be disappointed, because I don’t have a lot of experience, since Ineverhadanorgasmbefore,” the last she said to her chin. It was barely a whisper.

 

Ifrinn. “Sassenach, I think ye mean that Frank doesna have any experience, but ye have no idea how happy I am right now, ‘cause in some way I will be yer first. Also, after I’m done wi’ ye, ye willna be able to remember anything but how I made ye scream in ecstasy.” And in one smooth pull, I had her legs around my hips, her knickers snached to the back of the storage room. I took her by her hips and lowered her on my raging length.

 

“Oh God, Jamie. Don’t stop.”

 

“Please… don't’... sto - AH.”

 

I looked at her face, and realised then and there that she canna be more beautiful than when she is loved by me. “Are ye okay?”

 

“Oh...yes, Jesus...”

 

I smirked before attacking her mouth, “Nah, ‘tis just me, mo cridhe.”

 

She screamed wi’ every pound I gave her. There was nothing better than her walls clenching around me. ‘Twas a home I planned on coming back to at least three more times tonight.

 

“Jamie. Harder. Faster. NOW!”

 

“Yer wish is my command,” and I slammed into her, our mouths fighting for dominance.

 

Bang.

 

“Jamie, I think I’m -”

 

Bang.

 

“- going to -”

 

Bang.

 

“...come…,” her whisper did it for me. She was milking me into oblivion. And I never wanted her to stop.

 


After we gathered all our clothes - well not all. This bruise on my ribs showed how angry Claire was for my impulsive ripping of her knickers. She was talking something ‘bout a walk of shame, but I just silenced her wi’ my magic kisses.

 

We exited the storage room hand in hand, and headed towards the restaurant for dinner. We locked eyes, and I couldna be more in love wi’ her than now.

 

As we were entering the restaurant, I collided wi’ something wobbly. I looked down and was speechless. My heart was beating so hard I thought it was goin’ to jump out of my chest.

 

I could barely acknowledge Claire’s gasp, and suddenly her hand was out of my grasp and covering her mouth.

 

In front of me was a little boy wi’ brown curly short hair. What struck me almost to death was his face. It was a mirror image of my own. My full mouth - check, my blue eyes - check, my strong jaw - check.

 

“William, darling. Where are you?” A strangely familiar voice came from the other side of the door.

 

“Ah, there you are. William, what did I tell you about wandering around?”

 

The boy was staring at me, so the woman followed his gaze and we locked eyes. There was no question that she was the boy’s mother. They had the exact same hair, as well as posture.

 

And then it hit me.

 

Geneva.

 

My drunken encounter six years ago at “The World’s End.”




Chapter Text

I couldn’t form one coherent sentence in my mind. I felt like Hurricane Katrina erupted from the restaurant doors, the irony being that Hurricane Katrina was now in my head.

 

He looked just like him - minus the hair. My dream man had a child. By the sheer surprise on his face, I would assume he knew about the boy’s existence as much as I did, which comes little short of nothing. I knew nothing of this. Geillis never mentioned a child.

 

Oh no.

 

Jamie has a child. He is a father - has been a father for at least five years now. What if he had feelings for the mother? What if he wanted to rekindle with the the old flame? What if he wanted them to be a family? What if he...if he...left... me?

 

Oh bloody hell.

 

Nothing good ever came from overthinking. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder… I waited for two years - felt more like two hundred years - for us to happen. What if I waited for nothing? What if us was never meant to last longer than a fling?

 

Oh shite shite shite, Beauchamp.

 

I was raised better than this. I was a surgeon for Christ’s sake. I was trained not to overthink or over-analyze, because nothing good came from anything that started with ‘over’. I was thought to examine facts. I was supposed to think with my head. Constructive, conscious, coherent thoughts. But, somehow, whenever I was with Jamie, my rational brain shut down and my body became the decision maker. He is in love with me, he told me that. I should not think otherwise now. He wouldn’t just block out his feelings for me. Us needed to be safe, because I was not sure whether I was strong enough to survive without Jamie.

 

I couldn’t stop staring at her. Her slim red lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear anything from the buzz screaming in my ears. She was beautiful. Her shiny, dark-brown wavy hair hugged her just above her narrow waist. She was shorter than me, but less curvy, making her figure model-like. My insecurities shimmied across my eyes. All I could see was that she was a skinny, beautiful and younger woman who had a huge advantage over me. She won a prize that held priceless value. She had a child. Jamie’s child. I might never have that, and even the thought of my infertility makes me want to drown in a bottomless ocean. It would be peaceful, to be swallowed by the water and brought on an endless journey in search for the calm.

 

My hands started to shake at the thought of losing Jamie. What if he pursued me for the thoughts that I will bare his children and give him the gift of a family? How will he react when I tell him that might never happen? He would have to settle for less, but would he be truly happy? I hid my shaky hands in the depths of my pockets provided by my oversized hoodie. My heart rate was getting dangerously high and I knew I had to leave soon, or I would fall apart right before Jamie’s eyes, and I would rather burn in hell than let him see how insecure I was in myself, or how affected I was by the possibility of being left behind. I would never make him choose me over his son, yet I would forever hope that he could pick us both.

 

I pivoted to the still nameless woman once I heard her - laugh? Was she finding this funny? What the hell was wrong with her? Her presence was making me doubt every single millimeter of my body and mind, while she was busy laughing. I was drilling holes in her eyes, but she hadn’t spared a glance at me since we found ourselves in this mess. She was busy eye-fucking my Jamie.

 

“Well, well, well, James Fraser. It was about time that we met again, don’t you think?” She had this devilish smirk on her face that made me want to wipe it off with battery acid.

 

“Don’t.I.think?” Jamie whispered in a shaky staccato rhythm, both hands flying around his head in frustration. “DON’T I THINK? Are ye mad woman?” He was shaking and he was yelling and I would guess Jamie’s temper was as short as a wick of a candle.

 

“James, don’t you ever raise your voice at me in front of my child. Don’t you know how to talk with little children around?” She patted the boy’s head, but he was quick to withdraw.

 

“I am not a little child, mother.”

 

“Of course you are, William. Now, bugger off. I have some business to discuss with Mr. Fraser.”

 

“GENEVA!” Jamie’s eyes were so wide in disbelief that I placed my hands in front of me in preparation to catch his eyeballs if they were to jump out.

 

“What?” She asked, incredulous. “Did you really think I came here to break my newly pedicured nails to ski? Jesus. I.Want.To.Talk.” She gritted her teeth and showed off her claws, adding “Now.” For what purpose she did that I had no idea. To show us her ability to claw us to death? Could’ve fooled me.

 

I turned my attention to William. He wasn’t particularly tall, which was fine, since he was still very young. He was maybe little taller than the third of Jamie’s height. He had beautiful blue eyes, very similar to Jamie’s, yet not quite the same. I could recognize Jamie’s eyes anywhere. They were my favourite thing about him. Whenever we were to lock eyes, I would get lost in my very own little heaven. Ever since I met Jamie, he had this “wall” built, and I was never able to read the thoughts and emotions from his face like he did with me. But his eyes where my cue. They would always give him away, and whenever he would look at me, I could see love, lust, desire, respect, and just pure happiness. Now that I looked at William’s eyes, I couldn’t see the resemblance. His eyes were giving sadness, loneliness and maybe hurt.

 

Like he could sense my stare, William closed his eyes and turned to his mother.

 

“Mother, who are these people?” He was pointing with his forefinger between Jamie and me. “Well, William. Do you remember when I told you that I did not know who you father was?” William nodded, making Geneva continue. “Now I know, and this man,” she pointed to Jamie, “is your father.” She ended with a smile. “Isn’t that fabulous?”

 

“Fabulous…” Jamie barely whispered while looking at the boy.

 

“Who is that lady then?” He pointed at me, but Geneva kept silent.

 

Jamie and I replied at the same time.

 

“She is my girlfriend.”

 

“I‘m his friend.”

 

Jamie looked at me, disappointment painted on his handsome face, but I just shook my head in indifference. This wasn’t the place nor the time for us to attach labels on whatever was happening between us.  

 

Geneva and William just stared at us, oblivious to the silent conversation that was transpiring between our gazes.

 

“If you are my father,” William broke the awkward silence, making Jamie to break his gaze from mine and turn to face him. “Can you teach me how to drive a car?” William’s eyes lit with hope, only to drown in disappointment the next second. “I dinna think ye are old enough to drive a car, lad.” Jamie had a pained smile, and I wanted to cry for him and for our new reality.

 

“I will be six in three months!” William said accusingly, before facing Geneva.

 

“Mother, why is he talking so weird? Does he not know how to speak Standard English?”

 

Geneva was torturing couple of strands of her hair between her fingers, and I was expecting her to pop a gum, but she just rolled her eyes all the way to her arse and back to her head.

 

“William, haven’t I told you to bugger off? You can ask your father any of your silly questions after I am done talking to him.” She took him by the arm to push him back in the restaurant and William winced in pain. That was when I noticed a large band-aid covering a slightly reddened skin near his elbow, which could be the cause of an irritation or a mild infection.

 

Jamie’s posture stiffened, and before he was about to intercept, I selfishly saw my out of this catastrophic situation.

 

“Wait,” I reached the boy and took his right arm in my hand. “Can I look at your band-aid, William?”

 

“Why?” Geneva answered for him, coldly. I ignored the knives she was throwing at me with her stare, and pivoted toward William.

 

“I am a doctor, and I am pretty sure that you have a little infection going on there,” I softly poked at his band-aid and he frowned.

 

“Listen”, I continued, now looking between Jamie and Geneva. “I need to take a look at his arm and you two need to have a serious talk. I will bring William back to the restaurant as soon as I am done.”

 

“Fine, whatever,” Geneva rolled her eyes in annoyance. Did she care for this child at all, or was she here to drop him off because she got bored of being a mother? No child deserved such a parent.

 

I took William by hand and led him to the lift. As we entered, I pressed number two and leaned back. I had a strong urge to keep holding William’s hand, because I wouldn’t say that he was surrounded by love and care when Geneva was in question.

 

“Claire, wait!” Jamie ran towards the lift and we locked eyes. A lone tear escaped my hold and shimmied down my cheek as the automated doors started closing, yet none of us tried to stop them.

 

“Why are you crying?” I wiped my cheek reflexively with my free hand, even though there was not much to wipe. That tear was a second of weakness that I just couldn’t control. Jamie was looking at me as if it was for the last time. As if he was saying goodbye.

 

I mentally scrunched my insecurities down and threw them in an imaginary bin, trying to focus on the child next to me. I knelt before him so that we were facing each other.

 

“I think there was a bug in my eye. The silly things won’t leave me alone.” I smiled and my smile grew even bigger when I heard William’s laugh. It was a sweet innocent sound that I wouldn’t mind hearing for the rest of my life.

 

The lift reached the second floor, and there was a slightly too loud sound that indicated the opening of the automated doors. I straightened back to my full height and squeezed William’s hand. “Come on, let's have a look at that hand.” William nodded and I led him towards my room.

 

I looked down and watched him observe the luxurious beige walls and dark wooden decorations that were giving life to the hall leading to my room. He stopped in front of a painting of a young boy running down a meadow while holding a dinosaur-shaped kite. The boy was smiling while a man - most probably the boy’s father - was filming him with a camera. It was a beautiful and a colourful oil-painting, yet William concentrated more on the story it was telling rather than the technicalities behind it.

 

William was only a five-year old boy, but I was five years old when I lost my parents. I knew how might he felt the first time his mother told him that he didn’t have a father. How sad or lonely he was, because he did not have a father to teach him the little things in life, such as riding a bike or fishing, that some other children would find irritating or annoying. It was always the little things that meant the most to children who didn’t know for anything better. I would know, since I never experienced those little things with my parents. They never got the chance to teach me these things. However, I never minded a lot, because I had Lamb who loved me to the moon and back. But, did William have the same support as I did? Geneva did not seem nor did she act overly motherly just mere minutes ago. What if Jamie was his only chance of having happiness and love that he deserved?

 

“That’s a nice painting, don’t you think?” William turned his head towards me nodding. “What’s your name? You seem nice.” I couldn’t help but smile. “Why, thank you. You are very nice yourself.” I offered him my hand, “I’m Claire,” he smiled and shook my hand.

 

“Come on, my room is down the hall.”

 


 

“I love you.”

 

“What?” I asked bewildered, pointing my empty whisky glass to the waiter.

 

“I love you, James.” Geneva should be nominated for Golden Raspberry Awards for worst actress. She didna have one gram of sincerity in her voice.  

 

“Ye canna love me, Geneva. Ye dinna even know me.” I nodded in thanks for the refill, than gulped the cold whisky down my throat. I couldna even feel the soothing burn from the shock I was experiencing.

 

“Okay, fine. Whatever. I don’t love you, I hate you. You used me like a whore for one night, then left me pregnant to cope all on my own. I was eighteen years old, Jamie.”

 

“I didna know that, Geneva. I didna know anything.”

 

“That is total and utter bull-”

 

“No,” I interrupted her. “Ye had yer talk, now ye are going to listen to me.” I took another sip of whisky before continuing.

 

“Was I young and stupid? Aye. But, I was drunk and I was hurting. Ye were a member, for Christ’s sake! Ye kent what that place was for. I didna use ye, since ye came and left me willingly. Also, ye told me ye were twenty years old, Geneva. Ye ken better than to think that I would have ye if ye were barely an adult.”

 

“I -”

 

“I am not finished. If I kent for the bairn, I would have helped ye, I would have raised him as my own, but how could have I known when ye never told me?”

 

She sipped her water leisurely, “Well, you know now, James. Do have in mind that I am done. I am still twenty-three years old and I cannot raise a child alone anymore. Either you are going to help me, or we can chit-chat in court.”

 

“What do ye want? My money? What?” She smirked. She bloody smirked.

 

“I have money James, I am not some pathetic gold-digger.”

 

“Than what?

 

“I want you to take William. I can’t do it anymore. He is needy and boring, plus he takes all of my free time. I HAVE NO FREE TIME, JAMES! And that is YOUR fault.” She was red as a tomato and her fists were clenched on top of the table.

 

“What?” I could barely whisper the word from the bile rising from my stomach.

 

“Yes, you heard me right. I had my five years of purgatory and I am done. Now it’s your time to burn.”

 

“Can ye even hear yerself. Ye are comparing a bairn to hell. Are ye mad, woman?” I took a deep breath, then ten more. “I willna stand for it. Ye canna just leave him, Geneva. He isna an old toy that ye just throw away and replace wi’ a new one. He is a small bairn. He needs a mother who loves and cares for him.”

 

“Well, that’s not me. I don’t love him, he bugs me all the time like some stupid fly that entered through a nail-sized hole, but can’t leave when you open the bloody window. I am twenty-three years old and now have to get a boob job since my boobs are hugging my knees. DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE? Of course not.”

 

“Geneva, I dinna think ye ken the significance of this situation.”

 

She took a final sip of her water and then stood from the table, and turned to leave. “I don’t care. My lawyer is arriving tomorrow morning, and you can talk significance with him for all I care.”

 

I stood from the chair, and stalked after her. “Geneva! Where are ye going? We are not even remotely done.”

 

“I am tired, and unless you plan to ruin my spa day, we are done.” What? How can she even think about spa and other shite when she dropped from nowhere and presented me wi’ a bairn.

 

“Jamie Fraser, ye pig-headed, heartless man!” Fuck me. “Ifrinn,” I murmured to myself. Geneva and I pivoted towards the high-pitched noise.

 

Laoghaire.

 

“I am busy, Laoghaire. I thought I told ye that we dinna have anything to talk about anymore.” She laughed, she bloody laughed.

 

“We are far from done talking, ye broke my heart. How dare ye?”

 

“Wait,” Geneva was now intrigued to steer up shite. “Wasn’t that other woman your girlfriend?” Geneva had the most devilish of smirks, the bloody shite-stirrer.

 

“What other woman? And who are ye?” Laoghaire furrowed her brows, and crossed her arms in front of her chest, while stomping one foot constantly to the floor.

 

“Laoghaire, calm down.” But she wouldna have it. “I willna calm down. WHAT OTHER WOMAN?”

 

And, just like Swiss clock, Claire and William exited the lift.

 

“Mother, Claire fixed my arm. It doesn't hurt anymore.” William was running towards Geneva, and my heart broke. He was a beautiful lad, he didna deserve this.

 

“Great,” Geneva scrunched her nose in disgust and straightened her shirt.

 

“Who is that?” Laoghaire asked, but I didna have the power to answer, since all the strength I had left was now in my eyes while I tried to read Claire’s face. What if she leaves me? She never signed up for this. She might not even want bairns, let alone a bairn which isna even hers. I dinna think I can survive through this wi’out her support and love. But how can I ask her to love me, after she hears the story of how William was conceived. She will be disgusted of me and my past.

 

“This is William, my son. Oh yes, and James’ son, might I add.” Geneva smiled and patted William on the head.

 

“WHAT? HOW DARE YE LEAVE ME AND HAVE BAIRNS WI' OTHER WOMEN THAN ME JAMES FRASER? I hate ye, I hate ye, I hateee yeee sooo muuuch.”

 

It all happened very fast. Laoghaire was punching me and screaming my name everywhere, but then she slapped me across my cheek and I couldna believe the strength of it. I woudna ever guess that she was that strong. It was probably the adrenaline ruling over her wee body. However, the whisky and the fact that I wasna prepared for her attack as well as all the shock I was presented wi' in the last one hour got better of me, and I collapsed onto the ground.

 

Not short after that was when I fell into a complete darkness.




Chapter Text

I had Rupert and Angus bring Jamie to his suite. He blacked out, which was probably the best response he could have given, since he was surrounded by the ghosts of his past, plus a newfound son. I would have passed out, too.

 

Be that as it may, I tried to put myself in his shoes, I tried to understand him, and I wanted to run. I wanted to run out of his bloody hotel, and run far away from Jamie until my legs betrayed me. I really wanted to run, but at the end of the day, I was sitting next to his bed, making sure he wasn’t alone when he woke up. Did he deserve it? Probably not. Yet, here I was, looking after him from the couch adjacent to his bed. At least I was comfortable. The couch was fluffy and plush, very soft. Yet it was coloured dark brown - quite masculine. On a better thought, his whole suite was dark and very masculine. My favourite thing about it was the smell. It smelt exactly like Jamie - lemongrass with a hint of mint and his very own woodsy masculine smell. I loved it - no - I craved it.  

 

He was extremely lucky, considering his head hit millimeters from the sharp end of the table which would have most definitely caused brain damage. A shiver ran from the tip of my toe to the back of my neck, awaking every particle on my skin. I was very scared I would loose Jamie to Geneva and her - no - their son, but at that moment none of it mattered anymore. I knew it would be difficult and I knew we were still very fresh in our relationship and not nearly as ready to raise a child, but at that very moment when Jamie was at his lowest - literally - I got scared, because there could have been much worse consequences had Jamie hit his head on that sharp-edged table. And in that moment was when I realised I would have been much more crushed and broken had something happened to him. I could survive almost anything universe threw at me, but losing Jamie just when I got to have him would sting beyond measures leaving chronic pain in its place to haunt me for the rest of my life. What we had wasn’t enough. It simply was not. James Fraser captivated all my wants and needs, and in order for me to be a satisfied consumer, Jamie had to be with me. He had to be mine.

 

Of course, I wasn’t this optimistic four hours ago…


 

“Did ye settle him in?”

 

“Yes, he woke up a few minutes ago from a headache, so I gave him ibuprofen. It should also keep him sleeping for a while.” I puffed out Jamie’s pillow and covered him with a blanket. I took a last look at him before pivoting towards Geillis. He looked hurt, but not in a literal meaning that would result from his fall. No. He looked emotionally hurt. His brows furrowed and his face was stiff. He was sad and angry even in his sleep. I couldn’t help the tears that rolled down my cheeks, leaving warm trails behind. I didn’t bother hiding them from my best friend.

 

I turned around and before my brain figured out what was happening, I was captured in a Geillis-styled bear hug. The one where I could never breathe and my bones literally hurt. One time, I swear I heard a cracking noise. I wouldn’t be surprised if an X-ray showed my ribs all dented and cracked like I came from the second world war. I don’t think anyone would believe me that I was only hugged and comforted - maybe not the right word - by my best friend. “ ‘Twas a long day, Clairebear. Ye should go lie down and try to sleep, I’ll look after yer laddie.” Hearing her say that Jamie was mine triggered something in me, because after all that happened between us, when Geneva showed up, I felt all but Jamie’s. The tears were now pouring by their own volition, and I was soaking Geil’s crop-top with my tears. I hiccuped, “Sorry, I hope your shirt won’t shrink even more. Wouldn’t want to flash the ladies -” hiccup, “- would we?”

 

Geillis tightened her hold on me simultaneously ridding me from my fix of oxygen. “Ach, cry all ye want Claire, my ladies are always free to be admired by the tall, dark and dangerous.” I shrugged from her hold and wiped the remaining tears.

 

“Thanks, Geil, you're the best.” I was choking on sarcasm, but she did not seem to get the memo. “Ach, I ken, I ken. But, enough ‘bout me. What are ye goin’ to do?”

 

I rolled my eyes, but Geillis’ question was echoing in my ears.

 

What am I going to do? Hell if I knew. I needed a distraction, and even if he was sleeping, Jamie was still dominating in my thoughts and that wasn’t making me think clearly. “Wanna hit the gym? I need to work myself out.”

 

Geillis laughed, “We could also work ourselves out wi’ a good old bottle of whisky. Or two.”

 

I should call Geil’s mum to thank her for blessing me with her daughter. “I need to relieve some stress, and I don’t think a hangover will do that, Geil. I also need to be not drunk when Jamie wakes up, so…”

 

“Oh, come on! Yer too nice, Claire. He has a freakin’ bairn that he didna even ken existed. Not to mention his crazy exes. I mean, Laoghaire acts like she escaped asylum and the mother-bitch acts like she just emerged from ‘Clueless’. The least you could do is get pissin’ drunk and think about yerself for a minute.”

 

More like ‘Mean Girls’. Geneva would be a killer Regina George. “Yes, his exes are a nightmare, but remember Frank? The guy you used to hate more than flats?”

 

She wrinkled her nose in disgust, “Claire! He who must not be named deserves to hang out with rats and snakes, because that’s what he is.”

 

“How can he be a rat and a snake?” I asked, thoroughly amused.

 

Geillis crossed her hands, emphasizing her ladies and thumped her foot, woolen carpet silencing her frustration. “I dinna ken, Claire! He’s a rat in a snake’s body.” She rolled her eyes and sat on a chair, throwing her legs on Jamie’s bed.

 

I couldn’t help but giggle. This is why I loved Geillis so much. She could make me laugh even though that was the last thing I wanted to do.

 

“My point exactly. You still love me and respect me even though you hated Frank and -” I was not so politely interrupted…

 

“Still hate him. Present tense!”

 

“Whatever. My point is, we should not be judged by our pasts or who we were, who we dated and so on. So Jamie was not good at picking the most sane women in the past, but now he has me and I like to think I’m at least sane.” Even though I might not have a model’s body or lush blonde hair. At least I have a brain of a doctor. That’s what guys want, right?

 

Geillis squeezed my hand, reading my thoughts on my face. “Yer the best lass on this planet Claire, and every guy would be the luckiest lad on earth to have ye in his bed.”

 

I smiled, satisfied with her response. “Good. Now that we got that out of the way, how are you standing on the gym thing? It’s a perfect stress reliever, and stressed I am.”

 

She wrinkled her nose again, making her look at least five years younger. “Ye could also beat the shite out of Jamie. Bet that would also be a perfect stress reliever.” She winked and I collapsed on the world’s softest couch.

 

“First of all, I don’t think I have the muscles to beat up a giant, viking, god-of-a-man such as Jamie, hence the gym. Second, he is sleeping, Geillis, and I don’t think he is waking up any time soon.”

 

“Well, that’s perfect!” Geillis clapped her hands like she was a five-year old child who was told they can have all the toys in the world.

 

“Wot?” I raised an eyebrow, oblivious to her meaning.

 

“He_is_sleeping.”

 

“Meaning…?” I was beyond confused.

 

“Meaning ‘tis a fair play. Ye can beat him while he’s sleeping. Also, high probability he wouldna even feel it.”

 

“Oh my God, Geillis! I will not be beating anyone up anytime soon. Please, will you just go to the gym with me? We can only run on the treadmill or hit the elliptical.”

She pretended to think for a moment. “Can I run wi’ my heels?”

 

“Oh for goodness sake, Geillis!”

 

“Wot?” She mimicked me with a pout of her lips and wide puppy eyes.

 

I gave in, because at the moment I just did not care.

 

“Fine. Where’s the whisky?”


 

“Claire. Claire. Claire. Claire. Claire. Claire. Claire. Claire.”

 

Oh God, my head hurt like hell. I could hear someone calling my name, but I couldn’t dare my lids to open. I needed sleep. I needed it like a drug.

 

“Claire, wake up! Or don’t, whatever, but I am goin’ out wi’ Rupert, so Jamie is all yers.” Oh, the poking in my ribs, will it ever stop?

 

“Ouch, please stop hurting me.” The poking stopped, but everything still hurt.

 

“Oh my, Clairebear. I always forget ye canna hold yer drink. Yer always so grumpy.” Giggling. I could hear giggling, but my ears weren’t happy about it.

 

“Stop. The. Noise. Now.”

 

More giggling?

 

“Claire, common. Wakey wakey!”

 

Oh God, Geillis!!! “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! I hurt…” I couldn’t breathe.

 

I could feel Geillis sitting next to me on the couch. She felt my forehead for fever, and then lifted my head in her lap.

 

“Where do ye hurt, Claire?” I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks, but my eyelids were still closed.

 

“Here.” I touched my heart.

 

More tears.

 

“Everywhere. I hurt everywhere, Geillis.” I was now sobbing and crying and I still couldn’t breathe.

 

“Shh. Dinna cry, Claire.”

 

But how can I stop? Help me.

 

“Claire, look at me. Aye, open yer eyes.” I complied, but it hurt. It hurt a_lot_.

 

“Hey. Everything will be okay. Can ye sit up for me?” My head was pounding and I felt very uncomfortable in my own skin. It was itching everywhere, and I just wanted to peel it off like a snake, and have a new one that will be painless and comfortable.

 

“Why does it hurt everywhere, Geil. Why is everything falling apart? Why me? Why now?” I locked eyes with my best friend, but she was blurry. I wasn’t sure whether the bluriness was from the tears that just won’t stop or the hangover.

 

“It only hurts in two places Clairebear.” She put her hand on her heart. “Fristly, it hurts here, because Jamie is there. Secondly,” she pointed to her head, “it hurts here, because the whisky is there. And if it will make ye feel better, ye can blame me for that, even if it felt very good until we passed out, huh.”

 

I couldn’t help but laugh, but the tears were still streaming. “I love you, Geil. You’re the best friend I could have ever asked for.” I hugged her, but it still hurt to move.

 

“Of course I am.” She might not have yelled, but that was how I heard it, hence the pounding in my ears and the new-born headache. “Could you please whisper?” I whispered to her while trying to get up from the couch… and failing miserably.

 

“I’ll have room service bring ye some green tea and some early breakfast, I guess.”

 

“What’s the time?” I took the Evian from Geillis and slumped back on the couch.

 

“A wee bit past three. Are ye okay? Do ye want me to stay?”

 

I sighed, the tears starting to subside, “No, you go. I’ll take a quick shower, then feast on room service until Jamie rises from the dead.”

 

“Okay, I love ye. Call me if ye need me. Or ditch the boyfriend and mingle wi’ me and the kids.” She winked and I closed my burning eyes. “Love you. And I think I’ll pass on the mingling, but thanks.”

 

“Whatever happened to chicks before dicks? Sisters before misters? Bellas before fellas”

“Geillis, stop!” But I laughed anyways, because that was my best friend. “I guess it's hoes before bros, since you’re also ditching your heartbroken and very drunk friend for Rupert and Angus. I mean…”

 

The laughter died. Oh, God.

 

“Claire, seriously now, if ye need -”

 

“No, sorry. I am such a party pooper. Go, I will be fine. I will just binge eat and hum to Jamie’s snoring.” Thank everything that’s holy, because she was laughing again.

 

“Okay, bye hoe!”

 

I would have thrown a pillow at her head, but I was missing the energy and will it would have taken to do that. Instead, I snailed to the bathroom and mentally wrote a little pep-talk to my eyes. No. More. Tears.

 

Please…


 

I was in the wakefulness stage. I wasn’t quite fully awake yet, so the sounds of water gliding over glass could be the force of my imagination or a dream. However, I wasn’t conscious either, so I could not tell the difference between fiction and reality. I was a hair’s breadth away from waking when the water stopped. Silence and peace took me deeper into sleep.

 

Just as I started seeing the beautiful Niagara waterfalls again, a loud thud woke me, bringing me to full consciousness. I sat up from the bed too fast, and now my head was hurting again. I hugged the back of my head with the palms of my hands and took a deep breath.

 

“Christ, Sassenach. I didna mean to wake ye. Are he alright, mo cridhe?”

 

I carefully let go of my head and let my hands slump to the couch. As I was turning my head up, the first thing I noticed was that I was no longer on the couch. Oh God. I was sleeping in Jamie’s bed. Did I fall asleep on the couch accidentally and then sleep-walked to his bed? Oh my, what would he think of me?

 

I dared my head upright and was met with almost two meters tall and too-many-muscles-to-count wide solid and very naked James Fraser.

 

“Fuck.” I muttered under my breath, unable to control my body’s reaction to this rare male specimen. My blood was boiling and my heart was skipping in the Little Red Riding Hood style. My palms were sweaty, so I gripped the sheets around me as tight as I possibly could. He was lean where needed and strong and muscled where suited. His abs where not a striking eight-pack, but more of an elegant six-pack. That should be an oxymoron right there, but his abs were elegant and beautiful and just enough pretty to look at, holding me captive. But, could I be even considered of being held captive if I was there by my own will? Fluck indeed.

 

My gaze moved across his David-like torso just to be met with the most darkest yet still very intimidating and striking set of blue eyes. I would get lost in them had I time to focus on them thoroughly, but it was impossible for me to keep focus on his eyes when his strong, masculine arms where stretched above his head, drying his magical auburn locks with a black towel - yet another sign of his need for masculinity. The lemongrass scent was everywhere, and I was developing a dangerous addiction. Only the sheer fact that James Fraser was both the cause and the cure for my addiction should frighten me. Well, that was not the case. I wasn’t scared of him. I was more scared of the seemingly natural reaction my body seemed to have everytime Jame and I were in the same room. It scared me for two reasons. First, I have never in my life felt anything even remotely close to what I am feeling and experiencing now. And secondly, that attraction gave me hope, and I wasn’t sure whether there was space for hope right now.

 

“I’m fine, but for the love of God, would you please cover yourself up?” He was naked and he was magnificent. You’d think that after I saw him naked I would get used to it, but no. It was worse now, because I already knew what to expect and I already knew the excitement that I was about to feel.

 

“Like what ye see, Sassenach?” His winks were the most adorable thing if you knew him like I did. However, if you were the unlucky stranger receiving one of his winks, you might think he needed some serious psychiatric help. On a serious note, he could not wink to save his life.

 

This time, I called and gathered the spirits of my body to muster all the strength possible which would enable me to throw a pillow at his smug face. His agaped mouth followed by his low, raspy and very seductive laughter screamed mission accomplished. Tom Cruise would be proud.

 

“Oh, bugger off. And don’t be so smug, my head can take only so much.”

 

“Hair of the dog?” He smiled, but it was a sympathizing kind of smile, rather than mocking or rude. I mirrored the smile in appreciation.

 

“I think I might need the whole hound.”

 

“That could be arranged, Sassenach.” Even though Jamie still kept a playful tone, I suddenly felt bed uncomfortable. I shifted in his bed, bringing the sheet to my chin, as if I felt the need to shield myself from him.

 

That got me thinking. “How did I end up in your bed, Jamie?” I didn’t think I could handle any more embarrassing moments with Jamie.

 

“Weel, I woke up ‘cause my damned head wouldna stop pounding. That was when I saw the ibuprofen wi’ that wee cute note saying ’ take me’.” He flashed me a bright ear-to-ear grin, causing me to grunt, which then left me flushed crimson from embarrassment. He took the hint. “Anyway, I got up and saw ye wee body scrunched on the couch, so I took ye to my bed.”

 

Oh. “And then you went to take a shower, I assume?”

 

He sighed heavily, leaning onto the bathroom door like it was the last thing that kept him from falling apart. “Nay. Then I went to fight for my son.”

 


To be continued...



Chapter Text

My head was pounding. It hurt so much. I opened my eyes, needing to blink a few hundred times to get the picture in front of me to stop moving and focus. After what seemed like an eternity of continuous blinking, my eyes focused on my fitness gear hanging from the bathroom door. My head was killing me, so unfortunately, there was no possibility of working out today. This blinking morning ritual would have to do.

 

I couldna remember the last time I had a nightmare this bad. One time, when I was around five years old, I dreamed that I lost Sawney, my wooden snake-friend. It was horrible. I couldna sleep for days after that from the fear of having the same dream over and over again. I loved Sawney verra much. It was a gift from my older brother, but it was also my only friend aside my family. We lived in Lallybroch, and there weren’t many lads to play wi’, so ‘twas usually Sawney and me taking over adventures of the moors and meadows of our family estate. I think that the nightmares were caused by the accident I had wi’ Sawney.

 

Namely, I was tryna to catch fish like my Da taught me. Simple technique really. Ye wait wi’ yer hands in the water, and then when the fish approaches yer hands, ye start tickling it until ye were confident to pull it out of the water. What I forgot was that I had Sawney in one hand showing him the underwater world - also, he was supposed to look for the fish. Long story short, I saw the fish approaching and I caught it. I was so happy that I caught my verra first fish that I didna even realize that I let go of Sawney.

 

‘Twas when I came to dinner to eat my verra first self-caught fish that I realised Sawney wasna seated in the chair next to me. Everything after that was a disaster. My Da ran to the river and after long two-hour search, he managed to find my friend. Sawney had to dry by the fire for days, in order to recover from this drowning accident. Notwithstanding, I would always tell him of the adventures I had to go on by myself, so that he wouldna miss out completely. After the recovery, Sawney was locked in my drawer next to my bed, so that I couldna ever lose him. ‘Twas a horrible nightmare really, and I wouldna wish for a repeat of that.

 

Nevertheless, the dream I just woke up from took up the Sawney nightmare’s first place faster than I could say Geronimo . At first it started too good, wi’ Claire and me having a very lustfully frustrating day playin’ games wi’ the rest of the gang. Then we had a movie-like intimate moment in the storage room, and I could say that it was the best I have ever had, and might I say that I wasna a monk beforehand. That would of course explain the main villain of my nightmare - Geneva. She came out of nowhere and I barely even remembered her, having had only one encounter wi’ her in a moment of weakness… six years ago. That by itself was horrifying, but to sugarcoat my dream of horror, more drama and suspense was gained when Geneva showed up wi’ a bairn - my bairn. By that point, I was probably sweating and turning in my bed, while hoping the Sawney nightmare would just come back instead.

 

I sit up in my bed, and managed to fish my phone out of the night-drawer. At this point, I was living my nightmare which transformed into purgatory in hell when I saw Laoghaire’s text message coating my cracked screen. ‘ I never want to see ye again, James Fraser. Ye are a selfish bastard who ironically now has a bastard of his own. NEVER CALL ME AGAIN. F**K YE!!!!!’ I didna ken what to think. I couldna think straight, which made me guess there was some heavy drinking involved last night. Scenarios were slowly coming back to me. Like, Claire and I heading towards the restaurant hand in hand. And Claire’s teary eyes in the lift. I also remember not staying close to Claire, but instead being manipulated by Geneva. I also remembered William. He was such a handsome lad. He didna deserve this. I also remembered Laoghaire punching me in the face, but I should be thanking her, because there wasna a lot I could’ve done at that moment, being pissin’ drunk and all.

 

I shoved the phone back into the drawer, deciding not to reply to Laoghaire’s text and just leave that flame to burn out on its own. I got up on my wobbly legs and that was when I saw her. She was beautiful, her pearly white skin contrasted by the dark brown of my couch. She was sleeping on her back, wi’ one leg thrown over the back of the couch and one hand hanging towards the floor. Her brown, shiny hair was like a halo around her head. Mo nighean donn. Mo aingeal. She looked so peaceful and free, yet I couldna even start guessing how she really felt. I didna deserve her, but I couldna imagine my life wi’out her, either.

 

I knelt down and gently picked her up from the couch. I dinna ken if it was by instinct or no’, but as soon as I cradled her in my arms, she locked her hands around my neck and I could feel rhythmical inhale and exhale of her breathing on my neck. I put her down on my bed and pulled the sheets to cover her innocent, beautiful and angelic body.

 

I felt as if she was my greatest and priceless possession which I had to guard wi’ both my body and mind. I brushed away a couple of stray curls, revealing her precious face. I had the strongest urge to kiss her hard and to possess her, but I settled for a light brush of my lips on hers, just to let her know she isna alone. That she would never be alone or in danger, so long as I was by her side. Maybe I hadna showed her my support in the last twenty-four hours, but I am determined to make it known how much she means to me, and in order to do that I have to face the villains of my dream.

 


 

“And then you went to take a shower, I assume?”

 

I sighed heavily, leaning onto the bathroom door and bracing myself for whatever should come after what I had to say. “Nay. Then I went to fight for my son.”

 

Claire’s hair was a disheveled curly mess around her head, and her golden eyes mirrored my tired look. And then her expression changed from tired to as if she was struck by lightning. Her mouth formed an O and her lower jaw could almost touch her chest. Her eyes widened and pulled she blindly pulled her curls in a loose bun as if preparing for a fight. “What? Jamie, what do you mean by that?”

 

I glued off of the bathroom door and started towards the bed. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I didna need to look to see that Claire had moved back by the back of the bed, ensuring there was space between us. It hurt too much to look over my shoulder and see whether my assumption was right, so I sat deeper into the bed, but kept my back to her. I hated it that she wanted physical space between us, but I understood.

 

“I will tell ye everything and all I ask is for ye to let me finish, and then ye could decide whether ye want to have anything to do wi’ me. Okay?”

 

She sighed, “Jamie, I don’t know what to say?”

 

“Weel, nothin’ yet. Just, please hear me out.”

 

“Okay,” I couldna see her face, but she sounded defeated, almost like she already said goodbye.

 

“I was twenty-two at the time. I was still in university and had a solid lifestyle. All was good until my father died.” Her sharp intake of breath echoed through my suite.

 

So I told her everything. The whole story. All about my past, how I got lost in drinking and stumbled to ‘The World’s End,’ my thankfully verra short escape. However, not short enough, since one night was enough for Geneva to get pregnant wi’ my bairn. I told her all the bad, the good and the ugly stuff that coated my past, but also made me who I am today.

 

She listened. She didna understand it all, but she listened as I swallowed the last grams of my manly pride and gave her many reasons why she should run for the hills. Even though I might lose her after this, I felt lighter, freed of the chains my past controlled me wi’. It used to feel like I was a puppet and my mistakes and poor choices manipulated me and my future. This moment was when I realised that I needed to cut the strings that attached me to my past and let myself to embrace life wi’out thinking about what ifs and what nots. It also felt right, the biggest irony of my life that I felt better to share the horrible truth of my life wi’ the woman I love, even though that truth could pull her away from me.

 

“So, aye. My Da’s passing was the catalyst that I let take over everything else that followed after. I shouldna have been so weak and -,”

 

Claire moved forward and hugged me from behind, “Jamie. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I’m very sorry about your father, but that wasn’t your fault.”

 

I shrugged, “Still, I had two choices, to run away or to stay put. I made the wrong choice. I ran away, and look where that got me.” Her hold on me tightened, “You were young and everything was dropped to your feet. I cannot say what I would have done were I in your shoes, but we shouldn’t dwell on things finished.” She took a breath then continued, “We should leave the past exactly where it belongs - in the past, and we should focus on the future.”

 

I stood up from the bed and looked at her bewildered. “How can ye be so calm about this. Didna ye just hear that I was a pimp and that this pimpin’ resulted in a bastard bairn?” We locked eyes, and she braced herself on my bed and then shook her head in indifference.

 

“I got drunk last night.” I raised my brows in question, “Wi’ someone, or by yerself?”

 

“Geillis. I was making sure you were fine, and didn’t even notice that I was falling apart on the inside.”

 

I slumped to the couch next to my bed, defeated. “Claire, I -”

 

“No, Jamie. Let me tell my peace.” She crossed her arms, covering her chest. Her gaze burned holes in my eyes, so I nodded and she made a satisfied grunt-like sound.

 

“As I was saying, I was just finishing up with tucking you in bed, when Geillis came to check up on me. She helped me get everything off my chest and try to see the bigger picture.”

 

I leaned towards her, placing my elbows on my knees and brought my palms together. “She helped ye, by drinking?”

 

She shrugged, playing the innocent card, “She has her ways. I’m not saying they’re even close to ortodox, but at least they’re effective enough. Anyway, if you would let me finish my thought, it would be much appreciated.”

 

I raised my arms in surrender, playing along to her innocent card.

 

“Thank you. So, before the drinking was involved, I figured out my feelings for you. Hence the drinking was supposed to help me figure out of my feelings were enough for me to stick around and give us a chance.”

 

“And, did ye figure it out.”

 

“Yes, but I don’t think I’m still ready to talk about my feelings with you. I need time to get back to that relaxing phaze I was in with you before...well you know.”

 

“Aye, I know.” Before I had time to say anything else, she started talking.

 

“Now, what did you mean by going to fight for your son?”

 

I leaned back into the couch, letting the softness of it soothe my nerves.

 

“After, I found ye sprawled on the couch, I brought ye to my bed and then went to shower. Once I got out of the bathroom was when I noticed a white envelope beneath the entrance door.”

 

Claire raised her brows in question, “Whatever was in it?”

 

“A court-call. It said everything that Geneva expected and wanted, all summing up to her leaving William high and dry wi’ me, and I was nothing but a stranger to my own bairn.”

 

I pulled the envelope from my night-stand drawer and handed it to Claire. She looked at me shocked, “She wants to abandon him.” It wasna a question, I knew that. She was just stating the facts.

 

“Aye, she doesna want him anymore. Nevertheless, I was verra angry when I read the letter, so I told the reception to call Geneva and to meet wi’ me in my office. Of course, she came wi’ her lawyer.”

 

“She brought a lawyer to the Alps?”

 

“Aye, he isna verra good. Geneva was constantly shutting him up and he obeyed like a scared puppy.”

 

Claire was reading through the pages and talked to me wi’out looking up. “I’m just wondering, did she never want William or is it a recent feeling - if that is the right word for it?”

 

“No, she never wanted him” We locked eyes, “So why now? Why come now all this way after almost six years?”

 

“Weel, she said that she tried to find me throughout the pregnancy but couldna, so when she gave birth to William, her mum was the one who took care of him most of the time.”

 

Realisation washed over Claire’s face. “She was never his mother except biologically, was she?”

 

I nodded, “Aye, her mother raised William by herself, wi’ Geneva being in his life occasionally.”

 

“Poor child, he’s been through more than any child should.” Claire put the papers next to her on the bed, “But still, why now? If her mother is raising her child, why is she here? Does she want money?”

 

I shook my head, feeling the headache coming back slowly. “Her mother passed away last month, that’s why she is here. As for the money, she wants a quarter million pounds for the six years she and her mother were the sole providers for William’s life.”

 

“Jamie, she can’t be serious.”

 

“I dinna ken, but the money is the least of my concerns. I dinna ken one thing ‘bout bairns, Claire. And I’m not sure I can do it myself.”

 

“Will she stay here?” She glanced back on the envelope next to her.

 

“Nay, she will go back to London wi’ William, and then we will be scheduled for a meeting in court in about two weeks or so.” I glanced around the suite, “I will have to go back home. I thought about leaving in two days time, there is some administrative documents I have to go over wi’ my operating officer.” I looked at her then, "Anyways, after the meeting I was angry and sad and just verra confused, so I went to the gym and took everything out on the poor machines. I came back to take a shower, and here we are..."

 

She completely ignored the last part, “I can help you, Jamie.”

 

I locked eyes wi’ her. God, she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She was mine, and I will do whatever necessary to make her mine again.

 

“I canna ask ye to do that, Sassenach. Ye didna apply for this. And I wouldna want ye to come earlier from yer vacation just ‘cause my life became a bag of shite mess.”

 

“Neither did you! And you didn’t ask, Jamie. I volunteered.”

 

“Yet I dinna have a choice, now, do I? But ye do, and as much as I want to be a selfish bastard and keep ye wi’ me, I canna. I love ye too much to do something like that to ye.” I took a deep breath before continuing.

 

“Also, no matter how I felt about this, William is my bairn and I canna nor would I ever leave him high and dry like Geneva did. I ken what it is like not to have a mother nor a father, and I dinna wish those feelings of loneliness and emptiness to my worst enemies.”

 

She nodded, empathising wi' me. “I know. What Geillis would say ‘been there, done that’ , but I had Lamb. He filled everything that was missing.”

 

“And William had his grandmother, but now that she is gone I canna let him down. He needs me, he is only five years old.”

 

“What are you going to do?”

 

I closed my eyes, willing the headache to go away and silently praying my problems would follow. “Weel, the good thing is that Geneva couldna just drop him off here, everything needs to be finished in court. The monetary “damage” - citing Geneva, then the custody of William and more law-bidden procedures. That leaves me time to prepare my bachelor apartment to more bairn-like and to just generally prepare for becoming a Da on such short notice.”

 

Claire laughed, but it was strained. “Remember when I told you that I figured out my feelings and what to do about them?”

 

I shrugged and shook my head in indifference, “ I ken ye dinna want to talk ‘bout that and I dinna want to pressure ye, but -”

 

Claire jumped from the bed, loosening her already loose bun and knelt in between my legs.

 

“I love you. I realised I have been in love with you for a while, but was shadowed by Frank and work and, well, most recently with Laoghaire.”

 

My heart started beating so fast that I thought it would tear from its place and jump out of my chest. I felt so giddy, like I was a teenager all over again and my girlfriend told me she wanted to put out after prom. But the intensity of mjy love and appreciation for this woman couldna even be described wi’ any words that would do justice to what is transpiring in my heart.

 

I pulled her from in between my legs and sat her on my lap. She looked at me through hooded eyes, oh Christ, she was so beautiful. “What are ye saing, Sassenach?”

 

She leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’m saying that I love you, and that even if I know this could be a much bigger bite than what I could swallow, I can’t look away and I can’t let you go, Jamie. Not now when you are finally within my reach.”

 

I peppered her face wi’ quick kisses, and then I turned her head around wi’ my hands and placed my lips on hers. The kiss I gave her was slow and seductive, but it also told her how I happy I was and how thankful and grateful I was for her.

 

I reluctantly pulled away for a second, “I dinna deserve ye, mo cridhe. Ye are too good to be true.” She smiled and kissed me, biting on my lower lip and then brushing her tongue over her bite. I couldna help but growl in her mouth. She took advantage of my lips parting and plunged her tongue deep in my mouth. I opened my eyes to be met wi’ the most beautiful golden eyes that were slightly darkened by lust and desire. I broke the kiss and hugged her to my chest.

 

“What do we do now, Sassenach?”

 

She locked her arms around my neck and snuggled closer into me, resting her head on my shoulder.

 

“Now we fight...  together.

 

 

Chapter Text

— Two weeks later

 

“Aye, Ned. I ken, I ken. Ye nay need bother, Ned. Aye, until the meeting. Thank ye.”

 

Jamie dropped the phone on the night stand and turned around to face me, “If ye ever wondered what hell is like, this is it. And, I can tell ye...it ain’t nice.”

 

I took a minute to absorb his scrunched face and I couldn’t help but giggle. He was adorable. “Jamie,” I reached forward and cupped his morning face, “Everything will be alright. Geneva broke almost every moral and motherly code there is. We are going to get through today, with Ned I mean, and then we are going to send Geneva’s poor excuse of an arse all the way back to whichever -shire she’s from.”

 

He gifted me with a bit of a strained smile, but I understood. These past two weeks were everything but bearable.

 

We left French alps two days after we ‘made up’, for the lack of more appropriate wording. Once we reached Edinburgh, almost a day of travelling later, it all went straight to shite pretty bloody fast. Jamie reached out to his family’s lawyer, Ned Gowan and the plethora of meetings were scheduled faster than Archimedes cried out Eureka!

 

Ned Gowan was, well, interesting for sure. Ned represented Jamie’s family for ages, hence the reason why he looked like he was living on his very last breath. However, Jamie assured me he was not a day older than seventy-five. That was still a bit old for a lawyer, but if Tom Gerardi could do it in the States, Ned Gowan could do it in Scotland.

 

He was short, not a gram of muscle on his body, yet he was pretty lean and well taken care for. Well, except for his bear belly, which of course was his favourite body part. Now, the sole fact that he shared such random information with me, tells the story of Jamie’s outgoing and honest - emphasis on the latter - lawyer.

 

He kept his shoulder-length gray hair braided on the back of his head. His wide forehead should represent his wisdom and intelligence, or that was what Ned himself told me the old Highland tales proclaimed - “What the tales sang was what the truth was, dear Claire. Who was I to argue wi’ the wisdom of the auld.” Maybe I forgot to mention that the man’s ego was bigger than his forehead. I was very interested in what the ‘auld’ and the ‘tales’ would say of a man with such an ego.

 

Be that as it may, other than his wide forehead, Ned had a straight long nose and a beautiful pair of green eyes that resembled the bird-eye’s perspective of the shiny Loch Ness. Unfortunately, his enormous spectacles spared most people of his charming eyes, but since I had the pleasure to be kissed straight on the mouth, while I had no idea what was happening, I had my eyes wide open in shock but was greeted by that shamrock green pair of eyes. The kiss hadn’t lasted too long, since I was yanked back while Jamie was trying to prove that his ego was even bigger than Ned’s. Jamie won.

 

After the initial shockful introduction, Ned led us to his office. It was literally made of all wood. The walls, the chairs, the breathtaking mahogany desk. Mr. Gowan was an environmentalist, yet the juxtaposition of his wooden office and his love for the environment was confusing to say the least.

 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long after his outgoing personality completely changed. He switched from a silly, funny man to this strict and serious lawyer as soon as he sat on his wooden throne.

 

“I ordered the paternity test as we agreed over the phone. Until the test confirms or denies the likelihood of ye, James, being the lad’s father, we shan’t do anything but wait.” I agreed that it was obligatory that Jamie takes a paternity test, but even Ned without his spectacles could see that William was Jamie’s son.

 

Ned lit his cuban cigar and blew out a cloud of smoke towards Jamie and I. Then he continued, “It is of utmost importance for ye both to understand that in whichever circumstances ye find yerself, ye shall not discuss Miss Dunsany nor try to contact her before the trial.” He blew out yet another cloud of smoke and I tried not to suffocate to death, “And, if Miss Dunsany should try to contact either of you, I expect to be notified of it immediately. Am I understood?” I nodded while Jamie took hold of my hand and mimicked my answer.

 

“Hot to trot,” Ned cried excitedly, “now we shall go over some less prominent issues.”

 

The rest of the week was pretty busy for both of us, and we saw each other only on the nights and on the mornings before we split for work. It was kind of a given that I would spend my nights at Jamie’s. I wasn’t going to move in any time soon, but I wanted to be with Jamie, since our relationship was quite new and it just felt right. Of course, it was also a more logical idea that we spend our time at Jamie’s penthouse than in my one-bedroom studio. Since I am still a resident, a studio just outside the city centre was about as much as I could afford at the moment. Jamie’s penthouse was two stories, located in the city centre and it was only a fifteen-minute walking distance to the RIE where I worked as a third-year resident, so it made sense to stay at his place if we didn’t want to be alone.

 

I got back to the hospital and was already scheduled to assist on at least two surgeries per day, and Jamie got back to his company. It was tough at first but we made it to week two, which called for a celebration.

 

I propped on my elbows and continued to observe Jamie, “A penny for your thoughts.” Jamie smiled and started caressing my back almost absentmindedly, like it was a pure natural instinct. I was so happy and turned on at that moment, that the butterflies in my stomach started flying around and tickling my tummy everywhere. Jamie’s soft yet low voice brought me back from the spell his touch continued to enchant me with. “Nothing much, I just pray that everything goes as it should tomorrow and that William won’t be too dumbfounded by the situation.” He brushed my hair to the side and leaned to kiss my bare shoulder.

 

“I ken I’m hoping for the impossible, but that is how I can cope wi’ this.” He continued kissing me along the shoulder blades, and I couldn’t help the moan that escaped my lips.

 

“You aren’t hoping for the impossible, Jamie, but we need to prepare ourselves for the child that will go through the biggest change in his life. He could get detached emotionally and even worse fall into depression.”

 

Jamie’s breathing increased and I got up, straddling his lap. I took his face in my hands and caressed his cheeks with my thumbs. “Dinna fash my lad, we will not let that happen. William will love it here.”

 

He leaned into my touch, “We?”

 

I smiled and then moved to capture his lips with my own, “Aye.”

 

As soon as our mouths crashes together, the time has stopped. There were only Jamie and I in his enormous king-sized bed of his two-story penthouse in the centre of Edinburgh. His hands were all over my back while I reached down his posh pyjama pants and got hold of his equally enormous length. As soon as I started stroking him in leisurely up and down movements, he took hold of my hips and suddenly I was on my back and Jamie was on top of me. He took my busy hand and kissed my knuckles, while coming home in one solid thrust.

 

“Oh...my...God... Jamie!” I was panting and moaning and couldn’t help but lock eyes with him. Everytime we got together physically it was wild and pure and so emotional. I never in my life felt such a connection with another person.

 

He kept a hard thrusting rhythm while looking at me like I was his favourite meal. “Give me yer mouth, Sassenach.” I obliged and Jame took me to yet another breathtaking oblivion.

 


 

It was half an hour later that Jamie and I unwillingly had to leave the bed and while he took a shower I decided to get myself caffeinated for the morning. I put Jamie’s dress shirt from the night before and headed towards the kitchen. I pushed the floor-to-ceiling glass doors open and entered the seventh heaven. There was a grey and white marble table in the centre of the kitchen, surrounded by glass chairs with long candles on top of the eating area. His kitchen was one big, fat juxtaposition, since it was very simple yet so rich and enchanting.

 

I didn’t even have to try not to search for it, since it seemed to follow me through every meter of Jamie’s penthouse. I passed the long marble counter that spreads along the kitchen walls all the way to the kitchen terrace and locked eyes with a piece of paper that had taken on the role of my personal stalker. That piece of paper held the written proof saying that Jamie was indeed William’s biological father.

 

Of course, everyone with eyes could see the strong resemblance between Jamie and his son, yet it was still easier for me to deal with the situation. A positive paternity test made everything real, and it created some unwanted and uncalled for emotions, such as jealousy. To be honest with myself, I wasn’t jealous of William or anything like that, I was not even jealous of the fact that Jamie had a child with someone else. I was jealous of Geneva and that she had gotten the chance of being a family with Jamie, and she so rudely threw that chance away, just because she wanted big boobs and playing hooker in random clubs.

 

I threw one more glance burning the evidence of the reality I had been hit with, before moving towards my choice of poison - black coffee. I had always loved my coffee strong and sugarless. As I’m pouring my coffee into a red-with-white-tiny-hearts cup that Jamie had assigned as mine, I felt two large, strong and very masculine hands grab me around my waist.

 

“Shoot, Jamie! You scared the bloody life out of me!” I scolded while silently being giddy and happy that I got my morning with Jamie.

 

“Ach, dinna fash, Sassenach.” Jamie whispered while sliding his right hand up my - well technically his dress shirt and migrating his left hand to my backside he loved so much. “I can always bring ye back to life, aye?”

 

He reached to my pathetic excuse of knickers, lightly tugging at the front of it, while assaulting my neck with his mouth. “Oh, God. Jamie...We’ll be late for our meeting with Ned.”

 

I didn’t even have time to get properly caffeinated before he took my girly cup out of my shaking hands and placed it on the counter. Then I heard a squeaky rip of my knickers followed by a stinging sensation. It was like I was stung by a bee, but the hot pain transformed into pure pleasure and the waves of desire floated in my tummy. I wondered if I would always be this lust-hungry for Jamie. Of course you would, Beauchamp. You got it real bad for this man. Real real bad .

 

Jamie picked me up and turned me in the air, placing me on the beautiful marble table in the centre of his kitchen, and knelt in between my legs.

 

“Since ye havena cooked me breakfast, Sassenach, I’ll just have to settle for the second best thing after a good omelette wi’ bacon and tomatoes.”

 

He gifted me with his silly wink, which I thought was absolutely adorable, since he couldn’t wink to save his life.

 

But… the moment I felt his tongue teasing my most sensitive area, I lost it all. I fisted his curly, copper hair with my hands, bringing him even closer to me.

 

Our moans echoed through the beautiful kitchen. When it rains, it pours .

 

I was, yet again, reminded why this kitchen was my seventh heaven.

 

Also, we were very late for the meeting…

 


 

“So, ye should be find, my lad. Just let me speak and dinna try to fight wi’ the judge no matter how much she might provoke ye.” Ned was sorting a bulk of papers on his mahogany desk, while discussing and going over the rules of behaviour in the courtroom - at least that was what Ned called it - while I was admiring his endless bookshelves.

 

“She?” I asked, feeling there was a story behind the judge and Ned.

 

Ned smirked and locked gazes with me, “Aye, Judge Cavanagh. She’s a real pain in my backside, ken? I dinna like her at all.”

 

Jamie laughed a full belly laugh, “Oh aye, Ned. Is that why ye also slept wi’ her ‘cause ye canna stand her so much?” I dropped the book I was examining, “Jamie!” I scolded, but couldn’t help the giggle that escaped me.

 

“ ‘Tis fine, Claire. So long Jamie behaves tomorrow, we’ll be fine. I promise my regretful history wi’ the incorrigible judge willna matter.”

 

I picked up the Botany & More book that I had dropped and turned to Ned, “I wouldn’t dare doubt your skills Mr. Gowan. Also, if you don’t mind, could I borrow this book from your library? I am a bit fascinated with the powers of plants in medicine, you see.”

 

“It is yers to keep, Claire. I’m afraid I dinna ken first thing about herbalism or medicinal plants.”

 

I smiled at the amusing lawyer, “Why, thank you, Ned. I appreciate it.”

 

“Nevertheless, Jamie. I will expect ye at the Royal Courts of Justice at eleven in the morning sharp. Claire may accompany ye, however she will have to sit at the back.”

 

Jamie shrugged in his seat, “Aye, I will fly from Edinburgh at five in the morning and will meet wi’ ye in London. Claire will fly wi’ me, and hopefully we’ll be back wi’ William, aye?”

 

Ned lit his cuban cigar number four, and sighed. “I dinna think it will be that easy Jamie. I told ye there could be many complications.”

 

“My past, aye.”

 

Ned continued, unbothered for the interruption. “Even if everything goes perfectly smoothly, William will be first examined by the social services, and yer will be once more checked by them before William could live wi’ ye.”

 

Jamie nodded, and I sat next to him, taking his hand in mine and squeezing. He needed my support and I was here to give it to him.

 

“That is why it is verra important ye let me lead the dance tomorrow. We were lucky that Geneva didna try to contact ye or Claire. She must be more than ready to give up her son.” Ned locked over his shoulder and out the window. It was raining, but what’s new?

 

“She is such a bitch,” Ned turned and wide-eyed me while Jamie squeezed my hand a bit too hard. “Sorry, but it’s the truth.”

 

It was half past one in the afternoon, about forty-five minutes that Jamie and I had left Ned’s office, and I was dropped by the hospital while Jamie hurried back to his headquarters to live his CEO life.

 

I missed the hospital a lot. It was my second home, my sanctuary. I felt safe and wanted here. Well, mostly. I locked eyes with one of the people who didn’t really want me here.

 

“Well, well, well. Is it possible that Miss Claire Beauchamp decided to come back to her work?” Medusa was screaming sarcasm at me with her untamed platinum curls bobbling from side to side as her head moved.

 

“Dr. Steward, always a pleasure.” I threw sarcasm right back at her. Two could play this game. I mean, I knew that I shouldn’t really provoke my attendings, but Medusa was just begging me for it. Every.Single.Time.

 

“Go change into yer scrubs Dr. Beauchamp, this is yer lucky day.” She grinned, I frowned. “What do you mean?”

 

Her grin widened, “Yer wi’ me today, which means yer going to enjoy yer thirty-two hour shift. Also,” she continued while handing me a chart, “ye will prepare Mrs. Adeline Ruth for her surgery tomorrow. ‘Tis a thoracic aortic dissection repair and ye will scrub in.”

 

Oh, God. Thirty-two hour shift plus a major cardiac procedure. No, I couldn’t possibly stay. I have to go to London with Jamie in the morning and the surgery is scheduled for ten in the morning.

 

“Dr. Steward,” I yelled and she stopped in her walk, turning to face me with impatience colouring her face. “I’m afraid there is a misunderstanding. I had a talk with the Chief, telling him I have to be in London tomorrow morning.”

 

“Whatever for?”

 

“It’s personal, but I have to be at the court. I’m so sorry.” She didn’t seem very bothered, though.

 

“Dr. Beauchamp, the Chief informed me that ye are only accompanying and that ye are not the person of interest, shall we say. Ye are a third-year resident, meaning that yer job comes first. Ye took an oath.” I opened my mouth to argue, but was swiftly taken that chance away.

 

“I dinna want to hear more. Finish wi’ yer patient-preparations, she shouldna be eating anything today so hook her up on the IV and check on her heart rate. She has a cardiopulmonary bypass and she is very weak. We are her only chance, Dr. Beauchamp.”

 

She looked at me over her shoulder, “Oh, and Claire. If ye dinna show up at the O.R. tomorrow, ye can kiss yer future goodbye.”

 

But… “That’s blackmail!” I cried, but Medusa was out of my view.

 

Fuck. Bloody fuuuuck.

 

What should I do. I needed to be there for Jamie, but if I go, all my hard work would be wasted. Uncle Lamb made sure that I get a chance of having my dream as a cardio-vasluclar surgeon come true, by going to med-school. Also, a thoracic aortic dissection repair is a major procedure that could be the key of my career as a resident.

 

An aortic dissection could cause heart attacks, strokes and ruptured aortas. It’s a tear of the deepest layers of the human heart. The procedure should be done immediately, but fortunately for Mrs. Ruth’s bypass keeping the heart in a sort of a vacuum, the tear in her aorta was kept under pressure. I had never done such a risky procedure on such a weak and unstable patient before. I glanced down on the chart in my hand. Mrs. Ruth is seventy-four years old. She shouldn’t have been cleared out for surgery, but Medusa, however vile and selfish, was the best cardio surgeon in UK. If anyone could do it, that was her-awful-self.

 

I moved to the changing rooms on wobbly legs, pulling out my phone to call Jamie.

 

“Missed me yet, Sassenach?” His low, masculine voice wasn’t making my life easier right now. “Jamie, my horrible boss has me on a thirty-two hours shift, and I was assigned to a very risky surgery tomorrow morning.” I stopped myself for a breath, since I was blabbering like a lunatic.

 

One breath. Two. Three.

 

“She won’t let me go to London, Jamie. And I know that my job should come first, but you need me and-”

 

“Shh, Sassenach. ‘Tis okay. Really. I’ll have Ned there wi’ me and hopefully everything will go smoothly. I canna just let ye put a stop on yer career for me. I want ye to succeed, ‘cause I ken ye are the best at what ye do.”

 

I let out a long sigh, “Jamie, are you sure? I want to be there for you.”

 

I could almost hear him smile through the phone, “Claire. Ye have been there for me even though ye could have run. This is my fight and I do appreciate yer support, but ye should focus on yer surgery. Hopefully, William and I will be waiting for ye at home.”

 

Home. Such a strange word, yet it felt so right. “I love you, Jamie. You are going to smack that royal court’s arse. I know it.”

 

He laughed and I could hear the rustling of paper in the background. “Thank ye, mo cridhe. That means everything. I am just going over some last minute paperwork before I go home. And try to sleep a bit if ye can, aye?”

 

“Aye,” I parroted while slumping on a bench in front of my locker and shutting the call off.

 

I should better prepare for the rest of my thirty-two hours of torture and bliss at the same time.

 


 

“All rise for the honorable Judge Cavanagh.”

 

Of course William wasna here, but I was hoping I would get to see him today. I pivoted to left and could see Geneva and her silly lawyer. Geneva was dressed in a white jumpsuit and her hair was brought to a high ponytail. She looked like she was a Judge on Britain’s Next Top Model not a cold, heartless bitch who was being literally judged on leaving her bairn high and dry.

 

Ned and Geneva’s lawyer collected their statements and brought them to the Judge, returning back to their stands while the Judge took her time to read our statements.

 

I glanced around the courtroom. It wasna full of people like ye would see in movies. There were no jury either, since we didna fight for custody. Geneva was handing it to me on a silver platter. It was a private meeting wi’ the Judge, and it would wi’ hope go smoothly and routinely.

 

“Miss Dunsay,” the Judge called and Geneva stood up alongside her lawyer. “I read here your reasons for choosing to give up the custody over your son, William Robert Dunsany, however, I would like to hear from you a direct explanation.”  

 

Geneva started talking ‘bout not having any chances to go to university and lost time and job opportunities and that was never mentioned to me. What she wanted was to be able to go out and be wide. I couldna take her lies.

 

“Wi’ all due respect, that’s BS yer Honour, she’s nothin’ but a liar and a cheat who decided to abandon her son so that she can live a life at the clubs.”

 

Ned was pulling me back in my seat and I could see his face was infuriating. “Mr. Fraser, I will not tolerate such behavior in my courtroom.” than she pivoted her gaze to Ned. “And Mr. Gowan, if you cannot control your client, both of you are free to fly back to Scotland.”

 

“Apologies yer Honour, it willna happen again.” Ned sat back in his seat and threw daggers at me, but I just shrugged. Geneva is a horrible person and should be treated as such.

 

After Miss I-am-dying-to-go-back-to-school-to-screw-the-professor finished her fabricated speech that I was forced to listen to and not even flinch, the Judge turned back to me.

 

“Now, Mr. Fraser. I understood that you were not aware of the existence of your biological child nor the fact that Miss Dunsany was impregnated. Is that correct?”

 

I looked at Ned and he nodded, “Aye, ‘tis correct.”

 

The Judge continued, “After I read all the statements and documents of this case I thought you would be more than eligible to be assigned the full custody of William Robert Dunsany.” I smiled, satisfied at her conclusion.

 

“However, the fact that Miss Dunsany and yourself met at such a place sets a series of questions of whether you should be trusted to take care of a child. Also, I received an anonymous letter saying that you use women, make them fall in love with you and then discard them like used socks.” She was reading from said letter at this point and my shaking legs caused me to collapse in my chair.

 

I barely noticed that Ned requested to see the letter. What was happening? An anonymous tip? It wasna even true.

 

“Having said that, I am ordering a postponement of five working days until I decide what is to be done.” She stood up from her chair and took her glasses off her face, “Until then I will send a social services worker to your residence and job-site, Mr. Fraser, to get a brief of your current lifestyle.”

 

The Judge folded her glasses and put them on the table, taking her gavel and strucking it against a sound block, “This order is officially postponed until further notice.”

 

Then she left the room, and I once again wanted this to be a nightmare from which I would finally wake up.

 


 

— Approximately thirty-two hours later

 

I still couldn’t believe that I helped Medusa save Mrs. Ruth’s broken heart - literally . It was an amazing experience, having never had the opportunity to hold a living, beating heart in my hands.

 

The surgery went anything but smoothly, yet Medusa was able to find the tear in the aorta and I helped to stitch it back to normal. Even though the surgery was successful and was done without many complications, it lasted almost six hours straight.

 

At one crucial point when I was holding Mrs. Ruth’s heart, I had to take a wee real bad, so when I dared to ask my attending to go to the loo, while still holding a heart, she said to cross my legs and if ever I get such a stupid idea again she will have no problem stiching up my vagina so that such urges are taken care of. I laughed because I thought she was joking, but she was dead serious. So I crossed my legs and emptied myself four hours later.

 

I couldn’t wait to tell Jamie, though. Not about the wee and the weird stuff, but how I managed to get through my first thirty-two hour shift plus a high-risk surgery that lasted for six hours.

 

I passed by Sainsbury and bought the most expensive whisky they had, which happened to be Jack Daniels. I mean, you cannot escape the classics. I thought a celebration should definitely be in order, since Jamie was in London today, fighting a legal battle over his son. It was mostly fought with the law, since the mother of his son was basically throwing white flags in his face.

 

I found it a bit odd that Jamie hadn’t called me since this morning, but I guess he didn’t want to bug me, knowing it would be a tough day at work. I just hope that everything went fine at the court today.

 

I exited the lift to Jamie’s penthouse and inserted a long, cilindar key into a lock and was instantly hit with a strong odor or whisky? or was it gin?

 

“Jamie,” I called, but my voice only echoed along the walls of his silent and dark apartament. I decided to go upstairs to his office, when I heard glass breaking coming from the kitchen. “Ifrinn!”

 

I ran to the kitchen, the doors were open so I moved my hand blindly over the wall to my right, searching for the light switch.

 

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! Jamie, are you okay?” He was sitting on his parquet kitchen floor holding a half empty bottle of chivas, a broken glass next to his legs. He was trying to pick up the glass, constantly cutting himself. “Ifrinn!”

 

I knelt in front of him, “Christ, Jamie. You’re bleeding.” I took the cloth next to the sink behind him and poured warm water over it then wrapped his injured hand.

 

“Jamie, look at me.” He hesitantly brought his eyes upward and we locked gazes. His eyes harboured pain and loss, making me shiver. “Talk to me, love. What happened?”

 

He flinched when I squeezed the cloth around his hand. “Sorry,” I murmured, still waiting for his answers. “Well?”

 

“I dinna ken what happened, Claire. Someone anonymously sent a letter to the Judge, and now there is a postponement of my court order.”

 

I raised my brows in confusion and he slumped his head on the counter behind him. “I think I lost any chances of having William, Sassenach. And I dinna ken how to fix it.”

 

Or if it can be fixed. He didn’t say the latter, but I could see it in his eyes. Something went horribly wrong at court today, and who was the anonymous letter from?




Chapter Text

“It’s going to be fine, Jamie. Please, for the love of God, stop fidgeting!” 

 

It had been two days after Ned called Jamie and told him that he should expect a visit this week from a social services worker that was assigned to William’s case. Ever since, Jamie was glued to his phone, waiting for the call. I was assured Jamie had a minor heart attack when his phone rang yesterday and an unfamiliar caller ID filled his screen. He was paler than Ross when he found out his boss ate his sandwich, which spoke volumes of how his current psyche was holding up. It was very painful to watch, because I didn’t know how to help him. I wished more than ever that I could tell him that everything was going to be okay, but wasn’t that what I told him before his court hearing? And look how that turned out. 

 

Deciding that distraction was more than required, I jumped to my feet and turned to pull Jamie up from the couch. “It’s such a nice weather for a stroll in the park, don’t you think?” Jamie looked right through my amateur attempt at casualness, observing me with hooded eyes. “Ye want to,” he paused and dramatically lifted his left eyebrow, getting it muffled with his copper locks while air quoting, “ ‘ stroll in the park’ when snow is up to our elbows?” Well, I just got myself into that one, didn’t I? 

 

“Jamie, I can’t help it that its winter and we’re living in Scotland.” I blew off a couple of stray hairs from my face. “Do you propose to just sit inside this crazy apartment for the rest of days?” He smirked, “I dinna mind staying here wi’ ye until the end of the world. Though specifically,” he pulled at my arm and I was yanked across his lap, “I prefer ye in my bed.” 

 

As much as I enjoyed the out-of-this-world and toe-currling sex Jamie and I had, it wasn’t always the answer. Our relationship was still very new and raw, and I was affriad that if the only way of fixing our problems was by avoiding them with sex, we wouldn’t last longer than a few more months. And even if I knew that we were only dating for a couple of weeks, I couldn’t imagine even a single second in my future life where I wouldn’t be able to call Jamie mine. 

 

“Darling,” I kissed his jaw and slid off his lap, “if we hole up in here waiting for the social worker to call you, we will lose our bloody minds.” And there it was, the wave of fear travelling across his beautiful, rugged face, looking at me like I just screamed bloody murder. 

 

I turned on the couch so that I was facing him, and then I took his large, manly hands in my much smaller ones. I sighed, “Jamie, love. We can’t just sit here and wallow in misery all hopeless and broken hearted. We have to believe that everything will be fine even if it does not always seem that way.” He squeezed my hands, as a sign of encouragement. “No matter how you got to know William, nothing changes the fact that he is your son and that you are an honorable man who would move mountains for your family. The only reason that this process has lasted so long is because William’s mother is a heartless wench and the court just needs more time to know if they can trust you. And they will, Jamie. I know it.” 

 

He brought my hands to his mouth and kissed both palms, his unshaven stubble sending those familiar electric shocks through my body, that make my heart speed up and butterflies start dancing around in my stomach. It happened the first time we touched, and I soon found out that I would always have such a powerful reaction to Jamie, because he was it for me. My person. My soulmate. 

 

“I love ye so much, Sassenach. Sometimes, I look around and see ye smiling at me and I canna believe that ye are mine.” I was fighting a losing battle with the tears in my eyes. Jamie cupped my face in his hands, “I dinna ken what I would do wi’out ye in my life. I see yer smile, hear yer laughter and to ken that I have yer love makes me the happiest man in the world.” He lowered his mouth on mine, probably tasting the salt of my tears, but I didn’t care. Those were happy tears that showed how grateful and special I felt to have my strong, muscular highlander warrior know that it was fine to be vulnerable from time to time. I loved him so much in that moment, it physically hurt.  

 

His kiss was gentle and full of love. I let him set the rhythm and let his tongue lead the dance of passion. It was perfect and as much as I didn’t want to ruin the moment, I had to break the kiss before Jamie had me on my back and it was too late to say no. 

 

I pulled back and locked eyes with my highlander. My breathing was fast and I was feeling heath in all the right places, but we needed to get out and forget about our situation for a moment. And that was when I got the idea for a good distraction. I jumped to my feet and started towards the main door, “Let’s go to Ikea.”

 


 

 

“Oh no, James Fraser. No way! Stop it this second!” Ugh. I was thumping my foot like an angry mother yelling at her child to stop running around the candy store. But, that was literally what was happening. With a minor fact that I was not a mother and Jamie, a grown man of twenty-eight was definitely not a child, and we were in Ikea for Christ’s sake. Yet, here he was, racing with Rupert, while both of them were pushing trolleys full of different kinds of gadgets and furniture that we were going to use to set up William’s room at Jamie’s penthouse. I could feel strangers’ judgmental stares boring into us from all angles, yet my stubborn Scotsman and his dear, old friend were imitating five-year old boys with tantrums up their arses, not giving their inappropriateness a second thought. 

 

I turned towards Geillis, hoping to find some moral support, but no. My traitorous friend was filming the whole thing while laughing her arse off. Are they for real?

 

“Hey Geil,” I waved in front of her camera, my eyebrow so high it could jump off my face any second. Now, that video would be fun to watch. 

 

My friend huffed and puffed while putting her phone back into her pocket. “Great way to ruin my video, Clairebear. Now I’ll have to lose five minutes more just cuttin' ye out.” Ouch? 

 

“Why would you need to cut me out, Geil? It’s just a stupid video of grown men acting like children.” She looked at me incredulously, like I   was the crazy one. 

 

“Oh, my poor Claire. Don’t ye ken what is trending on YouTube right now? From crazy satisfying videos of grown people playin’ with play-dough, to middle aged laddies doin’ pranks and what nots.” She laughed it out, then became all serious again. “It was my secret, ye ken, but I’ll tell ye anyways. Ye see, I was filming Rupert doing silly things for the past few days wi’ this idea that I can make my own YouTube channel and become a millionaire because of these idiots! Isn’t that jolly?”  

 

Wow. When I got the idea for all of us to come here and buy all kinds of stuff with which we can decorate William’s room, I did not have this in mind. Sure, Jamie was distracted and having fun, but it was so embarrassing. Of course, I was usually not the kind of person who gave a damn what other people thought of me, but this was a furniture store, not a playground. 

 

But, as I turned around, I was faced with a very happy, smiling Scot. And all the embarrassment evaporated from me. I felt like I was freed from ten winter jackets on a hot, summer day. Jamie was so stressed in the past two weeks, and from time to time, I wasn't even sure if I would be enough to make him happy again. To see him now, finally shining with goofiness and just pure happiness, I was on cloud nine. So what if all it took was some trolley race through the isles of Ikea? I was at my happiest when Jamie was happy. If he was sad, so was I. It was that simple now. 

I took Geillis by hand and ran to Jamie and Rupert. “Last one to reach the cashier desk, pays for everything!” I blew Jamie a quick kiss, and started running for my life.

 


 

 

Rupert was the last one to reach the cash desk, claiming how “it isna fair. I couldna focus to run wi’ Claire’s and Geillis’ bums blindin’ my vision. Ye witches,” he said, and I couldn’t help the blush that creeped up my cheeks. I was always insecure about my a bit too large behind, and to know that men actually appreciated my assets was still odd and new to me, even though Jamie never shied to let me know what exactly was that he thought of my behind. Let’s just say that I was highly pleased with his answers. 

 

Even though Rupert was the last one, Jamie, being a stubborn gentleman that he was, still insisted on paying, which made Rupert physically relax and wipe the sweat off his forehead which appeared after he saw the final price. 

 

We were moving towards Jamie’s car, when I felt his hand connect with my arse on a loud smack. I yelped and he squeezed one buttock while whispering in my ear, “I saw ye blush earlier.” Kiss. “Ye ken what yer arse does to me, Sassenach.” Lick. “Ye are perfect how ye are, and I wouldna change ye for the world.” Another kiss here, and another lick there, and I was ready to jump his bones on the Ikea parking lot. 

 

Huh. 

 

To think that I was embarrassed of watching my boyfriend run around the store, but now I was all ready to claim him on a parking lot…. Talk about hypocrisy. 

 

Still, I turned in his arms and gave him a quick peck on the lips, “Later, soldier.” I winked and turned back around to a smiling Geillis and a smirking Rupert. Damn it , the blush was back… with a vengeance.

 


After we finished packing up Jamie’s and Rupert’s cars with all the furniture we bought for William, we ended up at Joe’s for drinks, because one angry, grumpy Scot named Angus Mhor was devastated when he called Rupert just to find out we were all “having fun in the world’s greatest store” without him. Apparently, Angus was obsessed with everything Ikea. 

 

So here we were, drinking whisky at six in the afternoon and listening to Angus talk about how breasts were much better to “fondle” than behinds. 

 

“I’m tellin’ ye, ye auld frog. ‘Tis two of them at the same time. And ye have two hands, haven’t ye? Double the fondelin’ I say!” I couldn’t help but laugh. Sober Angus was interesting enough, but drunk Angus had no limits. 

 

“Plus,” Angus continued, “ye can do anythin’ to ‘em. Whatever ye like. ‘Tis my personal heaven, lads. Aye?” He clinked glasses with Jamie and Rupert who were choking on laughter.

 

When I thought about how this day started, I was beyond satisfied. After I first shared my idea with Jamie, he was a bit reserved. I guess a distraction to buy furniture for William did not stray far from thinking about him and all the possibilities which ended with Jamie losing the battle, but at the end it all worked perfectly well. Jamie relaxed for a couple of hours and just enjoyed spending time with his friends. 

 

So when his phone rang, and it was unfamiliar caller ID, I knew that the relaxing time was over. Jamie took his phone in one hand and gestured to me with the other to exit the pub. 

 

It was snowing heavily and we didn’t bring our jackets with us, but I didn’t care. This call was more important to me than thinking about whether I would catch a cold or not.

 

Jamie answered the phone and put it on speaker. His voice was firm and calm, the exact opposite of how he was feeling right now. I squeezed his hand in support. 

 

“Hello,” voiced a strong English accent. “This is John Grey speaking. Have I reached James Fraser?”

 

Jamie’s eyes widened so much that they were almost touching the hair on the sides of his head. “Hello, John. Aye, 'tis me, Jamie.”

 

Wait , what? Did he know this John person??

 

“I am the social services worker that was assigned to your case. You can expect me at your home tomorrow, around one in the afternoon.” Jamie didn’t say anything, and I could see his throat trying to let the words out. His mouth was moving, yet nothing was coming out. 

 

“Jamie,” I barely whispered. He just looked at me with so much fear in his eyes that caused warm tears to coat my chilled cheeks. The man on the other side of the phone took a deep breath, then started talking. I was shaking, whether it was from fear or cold, I wasn’t sure. My tears were running freely now, and all I could hear was the man saying “I am so very sorry, Jamie. I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye.”

 

Jamie hugged me to the point it hurt, but I didn’t let go. He obviously had some history with this John and based on his reaction, it did not end on good terms.

Chapter Text

After I ended the call wi’ John, Claire and I went back to my penthouse, ‘cause I couldna sit in a crowded pub and look at all the people cheerin’ and laughin’ when I was thinkin’ whether my bairn was about to be taken away from me for the second time. The first time might’ve been less painful, since I didna ken I had a bairn in the first place, but now that I kent I had a son, I would do whatever was needed to keep William in my life and to make him happy.

Ifrinn. That was the first thing I thought when I woke up this morning. The second one was fuck. John, the assigned social services worker to my case, and once a close acquaintance of mine was coming to my home today to evaluate whether I was suitable to be William’s father on paper, not just biologically. 

I guessed it always happened when ye least expected it. Like, I wouldna ever have said that I would cross paths wi’ him again. We worked in different fields, resided in different cities, lived different lives. So I was more than dumbfounded when I heard his voice on the phone. 

But, that wasna what got me scairt so much I almost pissed my pants. ’Twas his calmness. He sounded normal - almost normal. Ach, I didna even ken what normal sounded like, but he sounded put together. I, on the other hand, was ready to call it quits. After all, what was I supposed to think would happen when my college roommate and best friend told me he loved me in a more intimate way than simple friendship? Weel, my first reaction probably wasna supposed to be ghosting on him for the rest of time, and, weel, the second one was the one that got me in this situation in the first place. 

Aye, I was scairt to death, as I should be.


 

Edinburgh, six years earlier

 

“If Red Jamie gets this shot, The Scots could be in the lead this year,” Norton said as he narrated this week’s basketball game into a portable voice recorder. 

“Aye, ’tis their only chance to come back to the small league.” Said Ian, the other narrator. It was the final game before the small league that was scheduled for next spring. “The Scots had a fall back about a month ago, eh?” Ian raised his eyebrow in question as he took a sip of his black coffee. 

“Aye,” nodded Norton, “ ’twas when Red Jamie left The Scots wi’out any notice. He just left. ’Tis rumored to be connected to the death of his father, but no one really kens why he didna just take some personal time off, instead of vanishing.” 

“I see yer point, but the lad is back and it looks like he is ready to show The Anglos the way back to England, aye?” While Norton and Ian were busy having a laughing fit, Red Jamie was preparing to shoot the first out of three throws they received after The Anglos committed a foul.  

“YES, first one done!” Norton shouted from his seat. “Aye, ’tis right, our laddie is back and better than ever. To ken that we are just two free throws away from winnin’, eh?” Ian was squirming in his chair, because the score was 92 for The Scots and 93 for The Anglos, so Red Jamie had to get the last two shots right if they were to win. 

“And Red Jamie shoots yet again, the ball is in the air, ’tis flyin’ towards the basket and will it fall through? OH YES IT WILL!!! Go Scotland!” 

“C’mon Red Jamie, one more to go, one more.” Norton was clapping his hands together like a six month baby that was entertained by its mother doing pick-a-boo. 

“He looks a bit nervous, aye? But then, who wouldn’t be nervous in this moment. ’Tis his only chance to get it right or Sassenachs win, and we dinna want that fur sure.” Both Ian and Norton stood up from their chairs, raised their voice recorders closer to their mouths and started the countdown. “And in three, two, one….THAT IS IT MY LADDIES AND LASSIES! Everyone is on Red Jamie in a second, oh look at ‘em Norton, ’tis most definitely a time for a dram of whisky, no?” 

Norton laughed, but nodded his head anyway. “Aye Ian, I think yer right. Well, ’twas our pleasure to watch this spectacular game, but ’tis much better watching The Anglos hit the road. My name is Norton McKinley and here in the studio I have Ian Rankin wi’ me, and ye will hear from us again next week. Slàinte mhath!”

“Aye, do dheagh shlàinte!” And with the clink of the aged whisky and much older glasses, the game was over. 

 

Locker room, one hour later

 

“Well, this was a great game, Jamie. I told you that you shouldn’t have left in the first place. It’s easier to forget, is it not?” Jamie looked at his roommate, and good friend John. He was English and a bit more proper than Jamie was used to seeing in Scotland, but he liked him anyways. They always had good time together, and John was really a good friend to him. “Aye, John. ’Twas a nice game.” Jamie didn’t like that John just told him that it would be easy to forget his Da’s passing, because such a thing didn’t exist. Jamie could never forget his father even if he wanted to. Which he didn’t, but he wasn’t up to fighting with John right now and ruining the celebratory mood. So he just ignored the latter, and took his jersey off. When he turned around, John was looking at him, no, starring at him quit weirdly. 

John was starring at him with hooded eyes, and Jamie could see that his light blue eyes have turned a few shades darker. It made him very uncomfortable, so he asked “What?” John tried to hide the flush on his cheeks, but Jamie saw it anyway. Was he… shy? embarrassed? turned…on? Jamie shook his head, willing his head to rid him of these thoughts. He was aware of how John looked at him right now, and of course he knew what that look meant, but he couldna… he just couldna discuss it. ’Twas too much to handle right now. Plus, he was still in a bad place emotionally and hurting from the sudden death of his father, that he wasna ready to lose another important man in his life. 

“Nothing, I was lost in a thought.” Now, if this was a year ago, Jamie would believe that silly attempt at casualness, but he had knew and lived with John for almost three years now, and he knew when he was telling the truth. And this wasn’t it. Anyways, he didn’t want to pressure it, because John’s behavior changed in the last couple of months, but Jamie didn’t dare touch that topic. He was too scared that he will lose his best friend. John observed Jamie’s silence a couple of more breaths, before running off the shower cabins. 

“ ’Tis so funny that John being a Sassenach just played wi’ us and helped send his mates home, eh?” Rupert laughed while drying his sweat-drenched hair with a towel. “First,” said Jamie, “ ’tis not funny ‘cause John has been living here for three years now, ken. Second, Rupert ye disgusting bastard, will ye no shower before ye change. Ye stink ye wee idiot.” Jamie scrunched his nose and joined the laughter that echoed around the locker room, while tryin’ to avoid being hit with Rupert’s dirty rag. “Ach, off wi’ ye. I’m jus’ waiting for the shower to empty out.”

 


Jamie’s Penthouse, present day

 

“First of all, how come you never told me you used to play basketball?” She didna look mad, but she wasna laughing either. Though, if I looked hard enough, I could see some humor in her golden irises. “Ach, ’twas nothing really. Just a hobby during college days.”

“But you were good at it?”

I smiled. Despite all the painful memories from that time, basketball was something I indeed enjoyed playing. Unfortunately, it was connected wi’ the time in my life when I struggled wi’ my Da’s passing, and no in a good way. That was why I didna like mentioning anything from those days. “Aye, Sassenach. There are no many things that I canna do.” ’Twas her turn to smile. Ach, she was beautiful. 

“Jamie,” the seriousness of her voice brought my eyes to lock wi’ hers. “Will you please tell me what happened next?” This was a mother thing I deeply loved ‘bout her. I didna have to tell her everything for her to ken if it was the end of a story or nah. I moved to sit next to her on the couch, and hugged her. I needed all the energy to go through these buried memories again. I squeezed her once, just checking to see if she was really here. She squeezed back, and that was all the encouragement I needed. 

 


Patrick’s Pub, two hours after the game

 

“Cheers!” John tired to clink his umpteenth glass of gin, missing all of his mate’s glasses before downing yet another dram of the nasty liquor. 

“Oh John, dear John, it isna cheers, ye wee skinny malinky longlegs. We proper Scottish lads say slàinte mhath, aye lads?” Rupert turned to face a dozen of other teammates of The Scots, who all agreed on a nod. “Aye-aye captain,” chanted the happy crowd. “Have ye forgot who ye play for, eh John?” At that moment, John dared a look towards Jamie. No, he could never forget who he played for, and as much as he would like to tell his truth, he was scared…so scared. “No, Rupert. How could I ever forget when I have you to remind me. Though, if I want to be honest, it was a bit nostalgic. Can’t remember the last time I heard any proper spoken English.” Rupert dramatically brought his hand to his heart. “Ach, ye sneaky bastard. Ye shoot right fur the heart.” 

Jamie refilled his whisky and turned to John, clinking their drinks. “What’s up, John? Ye look a bit… sad for a lad who just won a good game?” John downed his drink, and with a sigh decided that he could not keep his feelings for himself anymore. It had been too long, and he felt like he was going to burst from all the secret feelings that piled up inside his head. “Yes, I’m tired. Also, if we could talk somewhere, that would be great.” Jamie’s instinct was to say no, and to just push it under the rug like he was doing for a long time. He was not ready to hear what John was obviously ready to say. “Aye, John, we can talk. Just be careful, aye? Ye’ve had a bit to drink.” Wincing after his comment, Jamie started moving to a less crowded part of the bar. He did not want to hurt John in anyway, but he knew in his heart that their friendship was about to crash and burn. Jamie knew that if John did really have some feelings towards him, they would not be able to function as friends anymore. He didn’t even want to venture into the fact that they were roommates and shared a flat. 

John was so nervous, which would explain why he was shaking in his boots. He took advantage of liquid courage, and decided that he had to be honest with Jamie. The last thing he wanted was to lose his friendship. John wasn’t stupid. He noticed that lately Jamie seemed a bit reserved, like he could feel John’s unsaid feelings drift through the air. It was hard, knowing that the person you love was not able to love you back, or at least not in the way you wanted them to love you. Unrequited love was weird. John was conscious of the fact that Jamie didn’t see him as more than a friend, yet John was ready to lay the world at Jamie’s feet anyway. He would die and he would kill for the one he loved, even if the outcome would always be the same. John ending up alone. 

“Jamie, your friendship means everything to me, and I want you to promise me that no matter what happens after this conversation, our friendship won’t suffer.” Jamie twirled his glass of whisky in speedy circles, like he was trying to hypnotize himself with the gold liquid. He always liked that particular colour of a nice, aged whisky. He didn’t know why, but it soothed him, made him feel calm even in the most awkward and agitative situations such as this one. “John, I canna promise ye anything before ye tell me what’s going on. Ye have been acting strangely in the past weeks, and I dinna ken why.” John locked eyes with him, hoping that Jamie could find all the information hidden in there. “Jamie, this is very hard for me, because I am scared of the outcome, that you will run away and hide. So, the only reason why I am here talking to you about this, is because I already see you drifting away.” 

Jamie nodded, heart crushing that he was right with his suspicions. But how can they ever be the same? 

“I have been experiencing these feelings towards you that are completely unknown to me, but I can’t control them. It’s like, I see you and my heart speeds up without my say. I order it to calm down, but it never does. I see you and it’s like a huge knot has untied in my stomach. I see you and I start physically shaking, thinking ‘What if this is the day Jamie sees me as I see him?’. Then I continue do shake, because I know… I know that it will never happen.” 

Jamie was trying to listen as patiently as possible, drowning himself in the gold liquid, searching for a lifeboat that would pull him from this moment. His bouncing knee matched the rhythm of his index finger restlessly tapping on his thigh. He had to stop this before it went too f - 

“I’m in love with you, Jamie. I’m so sorry.”

It happened so quickly he almost didn’t notice. Countless shreds of glass erupted from Jamie’s hand, flying in frenzy to escape the hold of its infiltrator. He knew it should hurt like hell, but he couldn’t feel anything but the beat of his wounded heart. His ear buds were detecting shocked yells of John’s voice, but his brain wasn’t able to decipher the meaning. 

It was a fight or flight situation, and Jamie’s response came quicker than his next breath. He fled the scene, leaving the broken glass covered in his blood as the last part of him that John would see in a long time to come. 

Jamie’s legs worked faster than his brain. We was walking fo fast he could be running, but not quite. His brain didn’t know where he was headed, until his feet stopped on the pavement in front of The World’s End. He had been coming here more often than not, but he always ended up going home alone. He would chicken out, and choose the easier way out. Similar to what he was doing now, but there was no room for thinking about consequences. 

He showed his membership card to the bouncer in front of the notorious club, before entering and sitting himself on a bar stool. The bartender already knew him, so a glass of whisky was in front of him in a second. Another one followed, and another one after that. And another. 

Jamie wasn’t sure how long he had been sitting in this more than uncomfortable bar stool before he heard a female voice. Gentle, yet not as soothing that would allow him to actually enjoy hearing it. “I was watching you, you know?” He shook his head no, and then turned in his seat to face the stranger. She was bonnie, but she wasna beautiful. Her long, brown hair was pulled back in the tightest bun Jamie had ever seen. It gave him a headache just looking at it, or was it the whisky? 

“Are you here alone, or are you waiting for someone?” Said the woman, as she sat at the stool next to him. “Alone, aye.” There was more sorrow in his voice for his liking, but it was something he couldn’t control. 

“I can keep you company if you want.” She smiled. “What is a Sassenach lass as yerself doin’ alone in a club like this? Are ye no scairt?” Jamie tried hard to focus on what she was saying, but he just couldn’t find the will. He was bored already, which meant only one think. No more talking. 

“I’m Geneva, by the way.” She made a gesture as to shake hands, but Jamie graded her by the wrist and brought them to their feet. He turned towards the rooms. He didn’t care who she was, he just wanted to forget.

This wasn’t anything like him. If his Da were to witness his behavior as of lately, he would wish he was dead. Dead. 

Tonight, Jamie wasn’t going to chicken out, but he would still choose the easier path.

 


Jamie’s Penthouse, present day

 

“D’ye see, Sassenach, why I dinna think this will go smoothly.” Of course, I didna have to ask her to ken what she thought, since I could read her beautiful face like a book. 

“So that’s when you met her? Jesus, Jamie.” She sighed and stood up, pacing around the room like a fly searching for that smallest crack it came from. “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, James Fraser! I know you were hurting, but that was a dumbarsed thing do. And I’m not just talking about your shenanigans with Geneva. Christ.” I was fightin’ so hard not to laugh, ‘cause I kent she would skin me alive if I did. And, I kent that this situation wasna funny, but it wasna my fault that me girlfriend looked so hot when she was angry. Damn it, I needed a cold shower, preferably while sitting in an ice bath. Aye, that would do the trick. 

“Sassenach,” I walked to her and took her hands in mine, “ye will never ken how verra sorry I am. But, can’t ye see? Even though I made stupid, and immature decisions, it led me to have a bairn. Aye, it could've gone much better, but this path also brought me to ye. And ye are the only light in my life, Claire. I dinna ask ye to forget my past, Claire. I’m just begging ye to forgive me, ‘cause if ye canna forgive me, I willna be able to ever forgive myself.” 

I traced her sole tear wi’ my thumb. “Dinna cry, Claire. Please, I canna stand it.” She mumbled a weak apology and I wrapped her in a bearhug. Couple of silent minutes have passed before she stepped away from me and brought my chin up wi’ her wee finger to that I look her straight in the eyes. Those beautiful, golden depths of infinite love now almost black, filled wi’ seriousness. 

“I forgive you. But if you ever go to that fucking club again, I will rip your heart out of your chest and fry it for breakfast.” I didna have go question her intent, I could see in her eyes that she meant every word she said. And I wouldna want her any other way. 

“Never again, Claire. I havena been there for six years and I didna have to go there. I have ye, mo cridhe, and ye and William are everything I need.” I kissed her then. It was hard and fast. It was a statement. I was   claiming her. “Yer mine, Claire Beauchamp,” I murmured in between heated kisses. 

Just when my hand found her fabulous, round arse, I heard an echo of a knock. Claire stilled, which told me that she heard it as well. Just as fast, came a second knock, then third. Claire must have noticed that I was frozen in place, so she crossed the short distance to the front door. Her wee hand brushed almost unconsciously through her hair, in a failed attempt to tame it. She turned around and mouthed “Here goes nothing,” and then she opened the door. 

Chapter Text

Awkward, that’s what it was. Jamie hadn’t moved a muscle. It was like I was watching a mime and he was trying to impress me with his holding-still and barely-breathing abilities. Was I impressed? Sure. Was I amused? Not so much. 

When I realised that Jamie wasn’t going to be the first one to start up the conversation, I turned to our visitor. I would have referred to him as our guest, however, I was not yet sure if he was very welcomed, since Jamie hadn’t really expressed his feelings in any other shape but fear. I could fear my next pay check, but still be excited to see it come through. Jamie, however, was just scared. That was the only emotion that he vocalised, at least. I wished I knew what was going on below those thick, copper curls of his. I wished I could read him as well as he could read me. It seemed like I was at a disadvantage whenever I was around Jamie. Sometimes it felt nice - really nice. But, sometimes it made me feel powerless. 

Also, it wasn’t like we invited John for a cup of tea and a good, old gossip session. He was here to determine whether Jamie could offer a suitable and good-quality life for William. I knew with all my heart that he could, but did John? He was coming here quite biased. Confirmation bias was what they called it. John knew Jamie for some time, and whatever he might see now could do nothing to change John’s perception of my highlander. That was my biggest fear, because John knew a young version of Jamie who still didn’t have any idea of what real life was, until it got real pretty quick and Jamie lost it. Yet, that Jamie was the polar opposite of my highlander that I knew and loved deeply. 

Was it even within legal rights for John to take this case? This was a conflict of interest from John’s side, and I wouldn’t waste our time trying to mend a friendship if John’s sole reason for being here was to take his revenge. He would not play with a child’s life, would he? I hoped not. 

Nevertheless, to my disappointment, our visitor joined the starring contest, and was not looking to lose. Before I was to dwell in their business, I stopped to take John in. He was very tall and slender, but not too thin to be thought unhealthy. Yet, he did not posses the muscle strength that Jamie carried with ease. His dark hair matched his eyes, which seemed a bit foggy. His stare was firm and focused on Jamie’s face. He didn’t look angry, which I took as a good sign. But, I couldn’t stop the wave of unease that spread through me. Whatever was that John felt for Jamie was still there, visible in the air as much as it was in his eyes. I wouldn’t think that he still loved Jamie as over time he would get over him, but if he loved Jamie only half as much as I did, then I knew there was no getting over that amount of love. Was this what I looked like when I looked at Jamie? I fought the urge to slam the door in John’s face, swallowed my pride, and welcomed him to Jamie’s home. 

“Please, come in.” I had to do something, or Jamie, John and I would be standing still next to Jamie’s doorway for ages, and my feet were getting pretty sore. All jokes aside, we could have been standing there for three minutes or three hours, but the tension was so thick, I could have cut it with my personalised ten blade. 

I moved back to close the door, extending my hand to John for a polite greeting. Well, as polite as handshakes go. “I’m Claire Beauchamp. Thank you for coming to see us.” 

He blinked twice, like this was the first time he noticed I was there. He straighten his tie and cleared his throat, shaking my hand. “John Grey. Of course, it is my job, is it not?” Was that a rhetorical question? I nodded and smiled weakly, just in case. “Would you care for a cup of tea, coffee or some water?” John smiled, but it did not look sincere for a second. “Earl tea would be perfect. Thank you.” 

I pushed passed Jamie, but he griped my arm and squeezed. I couldn’t even imagine how he must felt at that moment. He was terrified of this meeting even before he realised that the social services worker that took his case was an old friend. Now, he was probably at least ten times worse, but he masked it well. John would never know. 

I gave him my best smile of support, and headed towards the kitchen. As I put the kettle on the stove, I turned around and caught them shaking hands. Not long after, John followed Jamie towards the living room. I felt as if I needed to give them space, so that they can clear the air so thick it might turn to concrete by the end if this meeting. 

 


 

I had to say sometin’ or I would lose my mind. “John, I -”

“Jamie -” 

’Twas that awkward simultaneous start of a conversation where both people want to avoid the embarrassing silence and just get everythin’ of their chests. 

John smiled nervously and nodded for me to talk. “I dinna ken where exactly I should begin, but wherever I start, I canna avoid the verra late apologies that I owe ye.” He stilled and I took a deep breath. ’Twas now or never. I thought of William, and that was all the inspiration I needed. 

“It wasna but of late that I realised that I might felt betrayed by ye. Ye ken my Da died at the time, and I dinna handle it well. I did some verra questionable things and made even more questionable decisions, but the only good thing that came out of them was William. John, I canna begin to tell ye how I felt that night at the bar.” I was interrupted by Claire coming into the living room to leave the tea. 

“I have to take a call from the hospital, Jamie. If you need anything I’ll be in your office. As soon as I finish the call, I’ll join you.” She bent down and kissed my cheek, her lips lingered on my skin like a soft blanket covering my cold cheek. Fear ran through my veins, telling me to hide from this stressful setting, but I wouldna make the same mistake twice. Some things were better left off unsaid, but this wasna it. 

“Thank ye, Sassenach.” I watched her disappear behind the glass doors of my office. She was my anchor and I ken that she would be sitting here and holding my hands in hers if need be. But, she kent me weel. I needed just a bit of privacy to settle what I had wi’ John, and then see if he could stay on my case or nah. Ned warned me that there was conflict of interest, and as much as I cared to mend my friendship wi’ John if it was even possible, I didna want to gamble William. He came first, ’twas that simple.

“Ye were my best mate, John. After my Da died, I lost a part of myself. I was so young and not slightly prepared for the life that I was set to lead in a matter of hours.” I took a sip of my verra warm tea, blowing first to prevent any second degree burns. ’Twas the last thing I needed right now. “I needed the support of my best friend more than ever. And ye were there, John. Ye were there the whole time, tryin’ yer best to get me back on me feet.” I looked up and found John looking at me dubiously. ’Twas that moment that I kent we were nothin’ but perfect strangers. I didna ken anything of how he became to be, what kind of person he was now. ’Twas then that I kent that I wasna apologising to this version of John that set before me. I was sayin’ my sorries to my old mate, long lost but never forgotten. This was how we would finally move on. 

“I took yer friendship for granted, and when ye opened yer soul to me, I shut ye out. I was so scared that our friendship would be ruined, that I didna want to wait as it crashed and burned. I ran, and I stopped it before our friendship had any chance to crumble and fall. ’Twas one of my biggest mistakes John.” 

My heart raced so fast, I felt that no matter how many hours of cardio I did everyday, nothing could have prepared my heart for this conversation. I wasna as scared of how John would take my apology, but rather if was willin’ to forgive me or nah. Even if he didna want to forgive me, I would understand. But, if he didna want to help me wi’ William, I didna ken what I would do. I needed this to go as smoothly as possible. We had to be on a safe ground, where I could control the situation. ‘Cause if I lost control, I could lose William as well. I didna ken if I could ever recover from that. 

“John, I was petrified that after ye learned that I couldna give ye what ye needed and that I didna reciprocate yer feelings, ye would leave me like my Da left me. Wi’out a word, no goodbye, no saving grace. Just leave. Vanish. But, I didna realise that I was the one who did all those things, until it was too late.” 

John’s tapping foot matched the rhythm of my beating heart, “Jesus, Jamie.” He stood up and as quickly sat back down. “I don’t know what to say. I -“

I interrupted ‘cause I couldna control my nerves no longer. “Ye dinna have to say anythin’, John. ’Twas never yer fault and -“

“No, Jamie. You don’t understand.” It was John who interrupted me this time. He sat his tea cup on the glass table, uncrossed his legs and then leaned his elbows against his knees. “I blamed myself for years that our friendship ended. I hated myself for moths after you left, blaming my stupid heart for talking instead of my brain. If I just kept silent, never confessed my feelings we would maybe still be friends. It was my fault.” A tear slid across his cheek, but I was too stunned to comprehend it. I couldna believe that he thought it was his fault. 

There were many paths that I imagined this conversation could take. There were so many things left unsaid that I didna ken where to start. Was I supposed to start apologising right away, or was I supposed to act nonchalant and pretend like we had no past, like nothing happened and our friendship didna suffer consequences? ‘Cause all of those would be lies, that would accompany the many truths which were left untold. 

Or would he be the one to start the conversation wi’ how hurt and wounded he was by my actions and how I ruined his life. Was he ever able to open up to somebody again, or did my childish reaction leave scars on his heart? Was he ever able go love again? And the worst outcome possible, would he hold a grudge against my past and therefore declare me unfit to raise my bairn? A shiver ran through me. I couldna believe my ears. I had the biggest urge to take a glass of aged whisky and let my brain process everything that I just heard, but I didna want to take a chance on that. The last memory that John had of me was of a drunkard and a coward, I didna want him to think that I hadn’t changed. 

“John, I thought ye hated me. I thought that ye saw my name and took my case jus’ to get yer revenge. I was so scared that ye would take William from me.” I looked at the familiar stranger in front of me and waited for him to say anythin’ to confirm that I wasna hallucinating. 

John straightened in his chair, but he looked more relaxed, if one could be in this situation that is. “Jamie, it wasn’t fair from me to take all the liquid courage of this world and pour my heart out just to make myself better. I was selfish and didn’t even think of how it would affect you. I just cared about our friendship but I forgot that if there was no you, there was no friendship in the first place.”

I smiled, overwhelmed by relief. We still weren’t even close to the point where the silence that followed would be comfortable, but it was progress that I didna even expect. 

“We were both stupid, selfish and scared lads that didna try to talk everything through like adults. Our friendship suffered as a consequence, but ’tis never late to try again, John.” 

“Yes, I don’t think it’s ever late with the right people, Jamie.” John put on the first sincere smile since he came to my house. It felt nice to ken that there was still hope for our long lost friendship. We shook hands, this time both of us had firm and confident holds, letting the fear evaporate from our minds. 

“So, when exactly during this awkward conversation, do you plan to tell me how you ended up living in this sumptuous home? And, penthouse, really Jamie? So classy of you.” I laughed and it felt good. Moments like these reminded me that I missed John. I missed having a best mate to laugh and joke around. Sure, Rupert has his qualities, but we were cousins, same blood. I didna really have any choice but to take him in and like him, wi’ all his childish jokes and inappropriate comments. John, on the other hand, I chose to be friends wi’ ‘cause we were similar in many ways and we had a good time together. Weel, we used to had fun anyways. 

Just when I was about the suggest if John would like to see the apartment, Claire came in the living room wi’ a goofy smile on her face. God, I loved her so. The whiff of her flowery perfume overwhelmed my senses as she sit next to me and placed one hand casually to linger on my thigh. What she didna ken was that even the smallest of her touches made me want her so much I could burst. 

She looked at me, happiness flowing in between us before she turned to face John. “How do you reckon we take you to a house tour. I think it is essential for you to see where William is going to live.” She stood up and took my hand in hers. I could see that all the tension that was previously there disappeared. 

“Yes, as a matter of fact that is one of the priorities. Lead the way.” I couldn’t help but notice that John was for some reason wary of Claire. He couldn’t be jealous, could he? Anyway, the only thing that I could concentrate on was the affirmative and confident way Claire said that William ‘is going to live here.’ It was like the decision was already made, like our faith was already sealed. I could certainly hope that it was. 

 


 

“We are still renovating and adding some stuff, but this is going to be William’s room. What d’ye reckon, will he like it?” Jamie was talking to John while moving around the room and nervously removing the plastic from the newly bought furniture, while John was taking notes. 

I was still suspicious of how they settled their past problems. As much as I wanted to be there and witness the conversation, I knew that Jamie would like to tell his piece privately and close that chapter of the book. Either way, I did receive a call from Medusa, asking me politely or more like threatening me into scrubbing with her during the coronary artery bypass grafting surgery that was scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I would have been there anyway, but Medusa loves to invade on my personal time away from the hospital. And no, phone calls are not common between an attending and a resident, but then, Medusa wasn’t really a rule follower, which would be raising all the red flags if I didn’t already know how great and talented of a surgeon she was. Of course, you wouldn’t hear me saying that anywhere in the close proximity of Medusa’s hearing range. 

“Jamie, this looks amazing. Truly.” 

“Ach, ’tis no jus’ me, aye?” Jamie came behind me and enveloped me in a hug, his head resting on my right shoulder. “ ’Twas Claire’s idea ye ken, and we assembled everythin’ together. ’Twas verra fun building everything, so I really hope that William’s likes it. But of course, if he doesna like it, we will change it. ’Tis the least of my worries, though. I just want him to be here, and everything else will settle into place, aye?” 

He kissed my cheek, and rocked us gently from side to side. I didn’t know what was John’s problem. Whenever I was in a room with him, he seemed to block me out, ignore me like I wasn’t there. If I didn’t know better, I’d ask. I wasn’t intimidated by him in the least, but last thing we wanted was for John to wrongfully evaluate Jamie. So, I stayed silent, even though it was very hard to act all meek and polite, when I wanted to kick him in the nuts.

Where is this coming from, Beauchamp? I was probably nearing my period, so my hormones were all over the place. 

“Okay. Now that I saw your home, I think we should sit down and go over some important points.” John clicked his pen and smiled to Jamie. I, of course, was being ignored yet again. And Jamie seemed oblivious to it. Interesting.

 


 

We came back to the living room, where John preceded with the interview. 

“You are the CEO of Fraser’s Distillery, but that isn’t your only job, am I correct?” 

“Aye, I invest in other businesses as well, and I own a chain of hotels around Europe. Most are ski resorts and such.” Jamie seemed genuinely relaxed, which automatically made me relaxed as well. 

“That is all very impressive, but will you have enough time to be with William and take care of him. Will you be able to take him to school and pick him up?” John was scribbling something down in his book, while Jamie tried to make eye contact. “Aye, of course. My schedule isna fixed, which is one of the advantages of being the boss, eh? I can come from time to time to see if everythin’ is goin’ smoothly, but I dinna have to be in the headquarters all the time.”  John nodded and continued with the interrogation. “I have received an invoice from a bank, and I am glad to say that you are financially stable, a lot more than that, but that is of course of grave importance because we need to know that William can have as good a life as it is possible in these circumstances.” He cleared his throat, “Now, what concerns me is Claire’s role in William’s life. Will she be introduced to William or not, I’ve been informed that you are not as of yet married and you don’t live together either, right?” 

I tensed the second he said my name. “What does our living arrangement have to do with anything? Yes, I have my own apartment, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be spending my time here with Jamie and William.” 

John smiled that insincere smile again, which, to be honest, started to go on my nerves a bit. “I understand, I just need to know how serious you are about Jamie. Because if you are not, I don’t think it is a great idea to spend time with William. He is a child abandoned by his mother, he will miss a mother figure, and if he spends too much time with you he can get attached. The last thing we want is for William to be abandon by yet another mother figure in his life.” 

I couldn’t recall at what point I got up to my feet, but it happened. “How dare you? I would never abandon William, even if Jamie and I were to break up. I know all too well what it feels like to lose parents. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.” Jamie noticed that I was seconds from going all psycho on John here, so he pulled me back to sit down. 

“John, ye dinna have to worry about that. Really. Claire and I are as serious as we can be, and even though we dinna live together right now, it doesna mean that we willna ever. Just, William is our main priority and we want to make this transition as smooth for him as possible, ken.” 

“I see,” said John. If he was going for nonchalance, he wasn’t doing the best job at it. He obviously didn’t like me much, since he wasn’t my favourite person either, I couldn’t see myself caring. 

He still loved Jamie, that much was crystal clear. 

“I know that your next hearing is in less than a week, and I want to wish you all the luck in this world. If you ask me, Jamie, you are going to be an amazing father to William. And it kills me that you thought I would ever think otherwise.” He got up, picked up his notes and neatly put them in a leather case. 

“I would also like to arrange a couple of meetings where I can see how William is adapting to his new life, but we shall discuss about that after the trial. Until then, I will see you in five days, Jamie. And if you ask me, everything will be alright.” 

We said our goodbyes, Jamie more enthusiastically than me, and John left. 

“Ach, Sassenach!” Jamie picked me up and started showering my face with kisses. “He said everything will be alright! I canna be more happier.” I locked my arms around his neck and my legs around his waist. I lowered my lips on his and let all my worries fly away. 

“He still loves you though.” I said in between kisses. Jamie turned us around until my back got in contact with the wall. 

“Claire, I dinna want to talk about John. Now, if ye could take off yer shirt, it would be much appreciated.”

Chapter Text

“So, de ye like it? We didna exactly want to decorate yer room fully wi’out ye seeing to it as weel. So if ye want to change or add any of the furniture or the toys, we’ll make it happen.” He wobbled his head up and down, dark curls going all directions. 

 

“Yes, it’s quite nice, um …” He looked at me quizzically. “What’s the matter, lad?” I asked, already scared that he didna like it here. He took off his back pack, put it down on the floor and turned to face me. “What should I call you?” My heart ached that we were in the situation where my own bairn couldna call me his father, simply ‘cause he didna ken me at all, let alone as a father figure. 

 

That, however, won’t be the case no longer. I planned to spend every minute of both of ours free time together. I thought it would feel weird once he came to live wi’ me, having him in my home, but it didna. Thought I would need more time to get used to him, but even though I brought him here mere minutes ago, nothing felt more natural than having him here wi’ me. 

 

“Ye can call me Da, or any other name yer comfortable wi’. I dinna mind.” I lied. Of course I’d mind if he didna want to call me his Da. ’Twas how I called my father, ’twas verra personal and it meant great deal to me. But, I wouldna dare to pressure him. As long as he had a need to call me at all, I didna care what it was. 

 

He seemed to think about it for a minute, his wee index finger tapping along his chin, like he was weighing out costs and benefits of the name. “Is that gaelic?” He asked. 

 

I still couldna get over that warm feeling I got in my chest when I looked at him and saw my eyes, saw parts of me in his features. I felt proud and powerful. I kent that the circumstances of his conception werena the best way to make a bairn, but just a thought of having a mini me made me verra happy. He was the one good thing that happened in a verra excruciating period. That he was here, about to live wi’ me in this enormous penthouse made me all giddy inside, like a five year old girl who was told that she could finally try her mam’s lipstick. 

 

“Nah, it isna gaelic, lad. ’Tis just simple, is all.” I shrugged, tryin’ to keep my emotions under check and casual so that I didna pressure him into anything he didna feel comfortable wi’. “Okay, I like it. You can call me Willie. It’s also simple.” I smiled, little too enthusiastically. “Deal,” I offered him my hand, and enjoyed the look of pride in his wee ocean-blue irises - this was probably the verra first deal he ever made, and I was so happy to be a part of it. No matter how small a thing this looked like, ’twas everythin’ to me.

 

His hand was so wee next to my giant one, I was actually scairt of breakin’ it. Parenthood was all too new for me, and I kent I needed time to figure it all out, but I didna want to wait. I already lost so much time, it wasna somethin’ I would ever take for granted. 

 

Willie nodded and moved to see the rest of his new room. Claire and I painted his room green, ‘cause ’twas the lad’s favourite colour. We took all the protective plastic off the new furniture and bought some toys we thought he might like. “I ken that ye might no’ have all yer favourite toys here, but we can go toy shoppin’ for the weekend if ye dinna have any plans, of course.” I swore his laughter was the bonniest sound I had ever heard. It was a proper childish laughter, but there was somethin’ manly ‘bout it that made him unique. I loved it. 

 

“You are funny, Da.” He grimaced at first, like he was tryin' the word on his tongue, testin’ the unfamiliar sound of it. After a second, he nodded his wee head in acceptance and smiled. “I don’t really play with toys anymore. But, I like puzzles.” Smart lad, are ye no? 

 

I scooted down and patted his head, “Aye, aye captain. That can be arranged.”  William laughed again, but now it seemed more as if he was laughing at me instead of wi’ me. 

 

“Are ye laughing at me?” I asked, trying to seem serious and failing terribly, mind you. 

 

“You talk funny. Did no one teach you how to speak proper English?” Ouch?! I pretended to wipe my fake tears, causing Willie to break into a fit of giggles. ’Twas the cutest thing. Cutest? Ah, Dhia. When did I start talkin’ like a lass?

 

“ ’Tis English I speak a chuisle, just wi’ a Scottish accent. But, now that ye live in Scotland, we should teach ye a proper Scottish accent.” He didna seem so eager anymore, but he still smiled. “Maybe later, I’m starving.” 

 

At least he had a proper Scottish appetite. 


 

 

I was counting down minutes until my shift would bloody finish, so that I could go to Jamie’s place. 

 

One hundred and eighty more to go. 

 

Phenomenal. 

 

It was so frustrating that I couldn’t go with him to pick up William from his bloody horror-mother and bring him to his new home. This meant a big deal to Jamie and I wanted to be there for him, but my doctoral duties had other plans. 

 

“D’ye reckon if we can ditch the security protocol thingy, and go t Joe’s? I had to tell a mother today that her six-year old daughter had a malignant brain tumour. I dinna ken if we can operate, ’tis too risky. Damn it!” She threw the pen she was holding, in a lame attempt to keep the anger from exploding in full force, but this was our job - unpredictable and sometimes very sad. 

 

The pen bounced off the cheap linoleum floor with a thud, landing at my feet. I scrunched down and picked it up, before taking a seat opposite my stressed friend. We were the only ones in the cafeteria, but even if we weren’t, Geillis wouldn’t care. She was straightforward and didn’t hide her emotions. “I could really use some gins and tonics, more gin less tonic.” 

 

“Jesus, Geil, I’m so sorry. Sometimes I hate our job.”  I also seemed to forget about the security training. Every four months, we have those trainings, because of the new staff that joins the hospital. However, once you saw the protocol more than two times, you would start thinking of becoming a security guard rather than witnessing one more training. And yes, you guessed it, the security teams were exempted from the trainings.  

Lucky bastards.  

 

Like any other protocol or training, they would always leave us fatigued and depressed, since we would always go through all the worst case scenarios that almost never happened in real life. I reckoned our chief of surgery loved Grey’s Anatomy a bit too much. 

 

“I can’t go to Joe’s anyways, sorry Geil. Jamie brought William home today, so I’m going to his place later.” Geillis sipped her water like fine wine, which got me thinking. “What are you doing?” She rocked her chair back, “If I pretend it’s white wine, I could almost taste it.” She smirked and closed the water bottle. 

 

“So, yer serous wi’ the Fox, then?” 

 

I loved Jamie more than words could ever describre. I wanted him more than my next breath. “Yes, I guess.” I would always opt for nonchalance, even though I knew that my traitorous face would betray my inner feelings every bloody time. It was actually getting very annoying that everyone could read my thoughts right off my face, whereas it was all foreign language to me. 

 

“Ye guess? Claire-bear, yer head over heels and then some.” I shrugged. No point in denying the truth. “I mean, this what yer doing fur him, lass, he better put a hell of a ring on it.” 

 

I got goosebumps on the word ring. I would want nothing more than to marry Jamie. He was the love of my life. The only constant in this craziness, my lifeboat. Even after only a month of dating and two years of friendship, I knew that much. James Fraser was my soulmate. 

 

I also knew that if he went down on his knee tomorrow, I would say yes without second thought. Nevertheless, I still thought we needed more time to settle into a comfortable routine. Also, there was William now, and he was the priority. It was essential for him to relax and enjoy his new life with his even newer father. 

 

As one of the conditions in Jamie’s case, William would have to go to an assigned child therapist once a month for next six months, in order for the court to see if he was adapting well or not. But he was a good child, so I knew in my heart that he would get used to Jamie and new surroundings pretty quickly. Scotland was in his bloody after all. 

 

William was mostly raised by his grandmother, so he was even a bit mature for a six-year old. However, both Jamie and I were conscious of the fact that he might have a hard time for the first few months. He had it rough his whole life. His grandmother, who was the most important and influential person in his life had died, and then his mother abandoned him for the second time in his life. Now, he had to live with a father he didn’t know existed until a couple of weeks ago. It would be an emotional wreck for an adult, let alone a child. 

 

“And if he doesn’t? Put a ring on me?” Geillis seemed to think about it for a second before her answer came through. “Then I’ll chop his bollocks to pieces and feed ‘em to the pigs in Angus’ backyard.”

 

I choked on saliva, “Geez, Geillis. You don’t always have to say what you actually think, you know? It would totally be fine by me if you would take it down a notch.” 

 

“Dinna tell me yer jealous? Didna ye hear of girl code? I.Would.Never.” I had to laugh at her, she was a ridiculous human being, but I loved her dearly. “No matter what I say, never change Geillis Duncan.”

 

“Yer wish is my command.”

 

All jokes aside, I had my doubts of how my relationship with Jamie would progress. It would be no fairytale, that I was certain of. Jamie would want to spend more time with William, which I knew was what they both needed, but I couldn’t keep that squeaky, nagging voice in my head from reminding me of my insecurities. What if Jamie realised that it was William that was missing from his life and not me? What if in the time we spent apart, Jamie didn’t miss me at all? 

 

Damn it straight to hell, Beauchamp. Stop it! 

 

Still, I heard myself saying, “What if he doesn’t need me anymore, Geillis? I mean, he has William to take care of now. I don’t ever want to be a burden, and I know that its not all about me, but I just can’t help the fucking voices in my head, you know? They fucking eat at my brain and I feel like shit, because I know how Jamie feels about me and he never made me feel less, but -” 

 

The warmth of Geillis’ palm as she covered her hand over mine broke me from my self-destructive reverie. “Claire-bear, ’tis normal to think that ye will come second, but dinna ye ken? The Fox canna breathe properly if ye werena there wi’ him. I swear to God, the two of ye and yer insecurities will be the end of me. Ye two have the rarest of love out there. Aye, I like Rupert fine enough, but Jamie and ye have somethin’ else, Claire. Dinna doubt it, embrace it.” She smiled sweetly at me, that knowing smile full of understanding and support. 

 

As if she could predict my next question, and she probably could just by looking at my face, she spoke. “And before ye go further into this verra unnecessary discussion, I think I ken what the problem is.” My eyes widened and I willed my brain to calm down so that I could hear what she had to say. As if she could solve my problems, cure my insecurities, and she probably could. 

 

“Claire, just think ‘bout the time ye found out ‘bout Geneva.” Geillis stopped talking when she saw me visibly cringe at the horrid memory, but I nodded at her to continue. 

 

“The first thing ye did was start doubting yerself, whereas Jamie didna think he could manage to survive the bumpy ride that sky-rocketed after Geneva showed up in France wi’out ye next to him. Yer first response to a potential threat in yer relationship is to hole-up and blame yerself, where Jamie’s first reaction is to seek yer love and support. Ye need to let those voices go Claire, ‘cause Jamie loves ye somethin’ fierce, and I’d reckon he needs ye now more than ever.” 

 

I was on the verge of tears, but those were happy tears. Even though I had insecurities that would emerge when I wasn’t busy thinking about something else or working, I still had my best friend to bring me back to my feet. I knew that Jamie loved me as much as I loved him and I knew that what we had was magical and unique. It was because our relationship was so new, that I sometimes forgot that everything was going accordingly. 

 

I locked eyes with my best friend, thanking the universe for putting her in my path. “I love you, Geil. I hope you know just how much.” 

 

She smiled, “Aye, I ken, ye silly cat.” I was just about to hug her when our pagers screamed murder. 

 

“Oh bollocks.” Geillis started moving towards the lift, and I was just about to follow behind, when I felt the weight of my phone in my back pocket, making me suddenly stop. She must have noticed that I wasn’t walking, because she got her accusatory voice on. “Hey, ye comin’? There’s no way ye’ll leavin’ me to listen to those parrots by meself.” 

 

Taken by surprise, I laughed. “I’ll be there in a minute, I just need to make a quick phone call.” 

 

She smirked, “Oh aye, do ye now?”


 

 

Apparently, my son was a huge pasta lover and he didna like much else, nor was he in a mood to try anythin’ else. I could almost feel the haggis in my fridge deflate from disappointment. There wasna much I could make that both looked braw and was edible, so I had to raise to the occasion and make some pasta for William, and pray it would turn out good. 

 

He told me that his favourite was carbonara, and of course that was the only one I had never even tried makin’. Cue in the light bulb, ‘cause that was the moment I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for bondin’ wi’ Willie. But, when I asked him if he wanted to help me, he said he would rather watch TV if it was possible. Confused, I asked him why wouldna it be possible to watch TV, and he told me that Geneva never let him. He was only allowed watching TV on special days, like his birthday. 

 

I swore I wouldna ever hit a woman, but God did I have an urge to shake her from her skin. “Did ye no ever watch television, lad?” Willie shook his head, “I did, yes. But, it was always with my Nanna. And when I came to live with mother, she always had some shows to watch, so I wasn’t allowed. I didn’t mind much, I liked solving puzzles better anyways.” 

 

As much as I was disappointed that Willie didna want to cook wi’ me, I didna take it to heart. It was normal for him to be shy around me in the beginning, and when he felt comfortable enough, he would come around. I kent it. But, the fact that Geneva was so careless and cold wi’ our bairn made me crazy angry. 

 

“ ’Tis fine, Willie. Let’s set ye up for somethin’, aye?” He smiled shyly and followed me to the living room. 

 

After I set him up wi’ some Sponge Bob, I went back to google how to make pasta carbonara. I was half way through the readin’ when my phone rang. I put down the iPad and turned to my phone. My insides did that happy dance and my heart came alive whenever I would see Claire’s name on my phone. “Mo chridhe, to what do I owe this pleasure?” My smile was automatic, so when I didna hear her voice, all the warmth inside me froze over. 

 

“Claire, are ye alright?” I heard her take a deep breath and before I was able to start panicking, she talked. 

 

“Jamie, I love you so much. I know that I don’t say it often, but I do love you so.” 

 

“Christ, Sassenach, ye had me scairt for a second. I love ye to, a chuisle mo chroí.” I could hear in her breathing that she relaxed, which  made me relaxed as weel. “What does that mean?” I chuckled. “Weel, I guess ye’ll have to come tonight and find out.” I was only half teasin’ half checkin’ if she could come, ‘cause she did tell me that she had a long shift. 

 

Our schedules did clash from time to time, but we both loved our jobs and I would never be angry if she couldna be wi’ me ‘cause it was busy at the hospital. She was savin’ lives after all. She was my hero. 

 

“Of course I’m coming, Jamie. Though, I’ll be late so I don’t know if I’ll get to say hi to William. By the way, how is the day going?” 

 

I sighed, “ ’Tis going better than I expected, but he is verra shy and ’tis hard to get him fully relaxed. I ken he needta get to ken me better, but ’tis so hard no knowin’ yer own bairn. It kills me inside.” 

 

“Oh Jamie, I’m so sorry that it feels so bloody hard, but it will get better. I know it.” I just hoped she was right. 

 

“Aye.” I didna like talkin’ about it ‘cause it was givin’ me headache, and I already had that from the carbonara recipe. Who would ever think that making carbonara wasna a piece of cake. 

 

“I got to go, Jamie. We have this training thing that I completely forgot about, but I’ll tell you more when I see you tonight. I love you.” 

 

“Tha gaol agam ort, Sassenach.” I heard her chuckle, probably ‘cause she didna ken what I just said. If she just kent how much I loved her, there were no words in any language I spoke that could quite describe my love for her. 


 

’Twas around forty minutes later that I finished wi’ the carbonara. It got pretty messy when I was supposed to add only the egg yolk at the end. How were my giant hands supposed to do a task that delicate? Ha, I blamed my genes on this one. ’Twas no my fault I had large, callused hands, but then, I didna mind either ‘cause Claire was rather fond of them. Weel, fond of them fondling her. 

 

“Hey Willie, lad, could ye come in the kitchen for a second.” Maybe if I was actin’ all casual and natural wi’ him, he would feel more relaxed? Ah, Dhia. Why didna I study psychology instead of business? I wasna even sure if this was the right tactic to use, but I didna want to act stiff around him. It just didna feel right to pretend. 

 

“What’s wrong?” His wee brows furrowed in confusion. He was a braw lad, wi’ his dark curls and bluest eyes I had ever seen on a small human. 

 

“Weel, I’ve been tryin’ to put the yolk in the sauce, but ’tis not workin’.” He came to stand next to me so that he could assess the situation like a true Scot that he was. I took the dozenth wee egg in between my fingers and instead of opening nicely  and allowing me to separate the egg yolk from the egg whites, the poor egg sloshed down my arms and on the floor. 

 

“Da!” Willie laughed while picking up the egg shells from the floor. “That is not how you should do it. My Nanna taught me that you need to be gentle with it, because the eggs are very delicate. She also said that I should be like that with the ladies, but I’m not sure about that, people don’t have any shells.” I was so glad that my son had at least one person in his life that loved him and cared for him properly. He deserved the world, he was such a smart and caring laddie. 

 

“Nay, mo luran, yer Nanna was right. ’Tis important to be gentle wi’ lassies as weel, ‘cause one verra important lass will carry yer heart next to hers one day, and ye wouldna want to lose it, ken?” He just nodded and I poured the sauce wi’out the damn egg yolk in it. I wished his granny was here to teach me some tips. I was a twenty-eight years old man and I didna ken how to open a goddamn egg properly. 

 

How was I supposed to be a father then? 

 

We were mostly eating in silence, except when Willie felt safe enough to share some of the time he spent wi’ his granny. I could tell from his quivering voice that he missed her dearly. She was the only mother figure he really ever had, Geneva excluded ‘cause she didna act like a mother a second in Willie’s presence. I was just glad that she was gone. 

 

Willie yawned and I decided ’twas time for bed. “D’ye want me to tell ye a bedtime story?” He looked at me wi’ sad, sleepy eyes, “My Nanna always read my favourite book to me. But, I don’t have it with me.” 

 

I made a mental note to go to a bookstore as soon as the sun rises and buy him his favourite book. “What’s yer favourite book, lad?” He yawned again, “Peter Pan.” 

 

“Oh, that’s a braw book. Why d’ye like it?” He didna seem to think about it too much, maybe he was too tired or too familiar wi’ the answer. 

 

“Because he is a lost boy, like me.” Oh, mo ghraidh. I felt the warmth of stray tears roll down my cheeks. ’Twas in this moment that I kent I loved my son more than I possibly thought I could. I would do anythin’ to make him loved again.

 

I lied down next to him, and rocked him to sleep. “Sleep a nighean, ye’ll no be alone again.” 


The flashlight of my phone roused me from sleep. 

 

Sassenach: I’m in front of your door. xoxo

 

Ifrinn, how was I supposed to get up from the bed wi’out wakin’ Willie up? Why did I have to be so big all the time? It didna help half the time, yet again, Claire was rather fond of my size. Oh well. I smirked to myself, feeling a wave of manly pride wash over me.

 

I shifted here and moved there until I managed to squirm out of Willie’s bed wi’out makin’ much noise. I carefully closed the door and went to let Claire in. 

 

“Hey, Sassenach. I missed ye today.” I didna leave her any time to talk before I got to taste her. I crushed my lips on hers and the world seemed to stop for a moment. This felt so right, so natural. Like she was a half of me wi’out which I couldna be able to survive. 

 

My hand found its way to her curls, releasing them from the messy bun on top of her head. “Mo nighean donn,” I whispered into her mouth. 

 

“Jamie,” She pleaded while fisting my shirt and bringing us impossible closer together. We were a tangle of limbs and before either of us kent it, I was sitting down on my living room couch, wi’ her straddling my thighs. “Fuck,” she moved against my straining length and I couldna help but thrust back. “Ye drive me crazy, Sassenach.” 

 

She nipped at my lower lip and then licked the wounded part wi’ her wee tongue. “I love you so much, Jamie. I…it’s… I can’t control myself when I’m with you… and I don’t … want… to…” She rocked her hips one more time, and I did all I could so I didna spill in my pants. “Is William asleep? I need you so much, Jamie.” 

 

“Aye,” I said as I unbuttoned her worn blouse, revealing the ivory of her skin. “Christ, Claire. Yer the most beautiful woman, I canna say it enough.” She moaned as I unhooked her bra and lowers my head to her breasts. 

 

“I was very insecure today, Jamie. I didn’t like it… one… bit…” She moaned around her words as I took one of her nipples in my mouth. “Why?” I asked as I unbuttoned her jeans. She rose from my lap and the second later a lost all coherent thoughts. “God, yer so tight. Ye feel magical, mo ghraidh.” She set the slow rhythm, and I complied, remembering that she needed me. 

 

“I have these voices in my head, you know. And sometimes they win and I doubt our love and our strength.” I took her face in my hands, caressing her flushed cheeks. “Never doubt my love for ye, Claire. Never.” I roared as my climax hit me. I could feel her walls clench around me seconds later. “Jamie, bloody hell!” She took my mouth, but it wasna gentle this time. She was claiming me, and I didna mind it one bit. 

  

“I love you, James Fraser. And even if I doubt myself sometimes, I never ever doubt my love for you. You are my life. I want to take care of you and William. I’ll always be there for you.She pressed her swollen lips to my own. 

 

Our tears mingled together as we kissed. “Ye are the Sun in my dark world, Claire. Ye and Willie are the only two things I will ever need in my life. I’m the luckiest bastard on earth.” I broke the kiss and brought her chin up wi’ my index finger, whisky meeting ocean blue. 

 

“Tha gaol agam ort, mo nighean donn. It means I love ye.”

Chapter Text

April eleventh - one month later 

 

I usually didn’t work on weekends, but as a doctor I learned long ago not to curse everyone to hell when my pager interrupted what would have undeniably been the most earth-shattering, mind-blowing, toe-curling orgasm of my life. Jamie didn’t share the same knowledge. 

 

“Ifrinn, no Claire! Ye dinna start somethin’ ye canna finish!” He smirked, “Pun intended.” When he saw whatever he didn’t want to see in my eyes, he sighed, exasperated, starring at his incredibly excited manhood as if almost willing it to snap off.

 

Despite feeling annoyed myself, I reluctantly jumped off of his lap. “Sorry, love,” I pecked his mouth quickly while mentally looking for my overnight bag. 

 

“Ye are such a tease, Sassenach. Ye want to wake me up wi’ yer lovely, talented mouth? Sure, ye willna hear me complainin’. But to leave me hanging like this, eh? No fun.” He was pouting and it was the cutest thing in the world.

 

“I don’t think I left anything hanging, darling.” I said, giggling. “Ah, there they are.” I exclaimed, happy that I finally found my jeans, hidden under a pile of carelessly discarded clothes. 

 

“Semantics,” he mumbled while trying to tame his ruddy curls. He was sleepy and aroused and cute at the same time, I wanted to look at him forever. I smiled at him and snapped a mental photo. He reciprocated my smile. Click.

 

“I’ll have to go home one of these days, you know.” I said while pulling my pants up. I’ve been sleeping at Jamie’s apartment more often than not. I loved it here. Open space everywhere, a majestic panorama view of Edinburgh, simple luxury. Of course, I didn’t come for the view, ginormous king-bed or the amazing kitchen. I was here because Jamie was here. 

 

Ever since we got together, my tiny apartment felt so empty and lonely. In reality, it was overpacked with medical journals, books and bunch of furniture that was rarely used. But Jamie wasn’t there. And I knew I was overly clingy and needy, but I knew that Jamie wanted me here as much as I wanted to be here. If I was clingy, so was he. We loved it and we embraced it. Yet, if all these things come with Jamie, you're not going to hear this gal complaining. 

 

“Ye dinna have to go anywhere, Sassenach.” He said as he pulled me by my waist. 

 

I was about to button up my jeans, when Jamie stopped me with his hands. “Let me.” He brought my palms to his mouth and peppered them with painfully slow kisses. He then lowered his head and kissed my navel as he pulled the zipper up and clicked the two buttons into place. 

 

“God, I love yer skin.” He whispered. 

 

I was never particularly insecure about my body before I met Jamie. Yes, I had curves, but my Highlander seemed to really worship those. Yes, I had some unwanted stretch marks, but I never really cared that much. Mostly because all the men that I dated were more beautiful on the inside rather than on the outside, if you know what I mean. 

 

But, Jamie. God, he was beautifully made. He was born to be worshiped and looked at. I never thought a man like him would be interested in me, but now that he was, there was no way I would ever let him go. 

 

Ring or not, he was mine for keeps. 

 

“ ’Tis so soft, the most perfect shade of pearls. Precious.” He took the hem of my night shirt - well, his shirt - and slowly lifted it just below my breasts, sucking and biting at the revealed flesh. 

 

“I know what you’re doing, Jamie.” I all but moaned as he kissed the sensitive skin right beneath the swell of my breast. 

 

“Oh?” I could feel his smile on my skin. “And what am I doing, Sassenach?” He asked, in that low, seductive voice that made my knees give away. 

 

“You’re teasing me, you evil genius.” Cold air hit my breasts as Jamie lifted my shirt above my head and tossed it on the bed behind him. My nipples were puckered, hard and so, so ready. Yet he was still, only looking at them and doing nothing. 

 

“Jamiee…” Just as I began to squirm for attention, he sucked one tip into his mouth. Warm, butterfly-like sensation travelled through my body and right into my pants. Oh God, was he good. 

 

“Jamie, fuuuuck - don’t stop!” He complied, swirling his tongue around my swelling peak, driving me crazy with those slow but deliberate strokes. He kissed and nipped at one breast before moving to the other one and giving it the same treatment. 

 

I was so close I couldn't even stand on my feet. I collapsed on his lap, draped my hands around his neck and urged him closer into me. “Jamie, I’m so close… fuck.” Those last sparks lightened just before my body would burst into flames. 

 

“Jesus, Jamie I’m goin-going to c-com - NOO!.” I was a grinding, heaving mess when I  felt Jamie kiss the middle of my breasts in one open-mouthed kiss before bending to get something off the pile of clothes. The next thing I knew, he was clasping my strapless bra back into its intended place. 

 

“No, Jamie, its not fair! You can’t leave me like this!” I was needy and clingy and so, so frustrated, but I didn’t give a bloody damn. He did this on purpose, the bloody man. We locked eyes, and he just smirked. He bloody smirked at my misery. 

 

“I think ’tis more than fair, Sassenach. Give what you get, and all.” He was smiling from ear to ear, loving the reaction he knew he would get from me. 

 

I pushed of his chest, still feeling wobbly on my feet. “I hate you.” I said, mirroring his pout from earlier. 

 

“Ye canna hate me, Sassenach. Ye love me too much.” He said, smiling like he just won a bloody million pounds. Although, he had so much money, I wasn’t even sure if another million would do anything for him. 

 

Feeling like I lost this one, I picked up my blouse and murmured under my breath. “Just you wait, you bloody Scot. Tonight can’t be soon enough.” 

 

His laughter stayed on the other side of the bathroom door, which mind you, I slammed just enough to shake his expansive bloody walls. 

 

***

 

“Ye look a mess.” Geillis, my dear friend, felt obliged to announce my state of mind to the rest of the occupants in the lift. “Thanks so much,” I said, still irritated from this morning. 

 

I knew that if I was Jamie, I would do the same thing. It’s quite funny what a little tease here and some foreplay there can do to spice things up. Not that we needed any spicing up, or we’d set a wildfire. Still, it felt very frustrating to be the one that’s teased and not the teaser. It was definitely not as fun.

 

“I had an interesting morning, to say the least.” I looked at Geillis, who’s eyes were full and round with intrigue and ears slightly flapped around her amber waves, prepped for gossip. 

 

“No, please. Do say more.” She said, grinning like a Cheshire cat. You know the one I’m talking about - sometimes purple, sometimes blue with its head occasionally floating around its body. Otherwise known as Geillis long-lost twin.

 

“Jamie’s a tease,” I shared, regretting it the second I saw Geillis’ eyes sparkle with understanding. 

 

“Oh no, dinna dare to leave me wi’ that useless snippet. Ye ken, if ye stop now, yer gonna be just like him.” She pouted, and I bursted out in laughter. Curious heads swirled around, annoyed that my high-pitched laughter was what they had to hear at seven A.M. on a Saturday. 

 

The lift came to a halt, a Siri-like noise telling us that we reached our designated destination. I waited for everyone else to leave the lift, before facing Geillis and walking backwards. 

 

“Takes one to know one,” I winked and went in the general direction of the locker rooms. 

 

***

 

“Wow, Da. This is awesome!” Willie exclaimed, his eyes movin’ almost as fast as Ford  was when it was beating Ferrari. 

 

I couldn’t be more happier than I was right now. My son appreciating my work place, knowing that one day, maybe, he would want to continue in my footsteps. ’Twas awesome, indeed. 

 

Also, not many working dads had a game room next to their offices. Then again, most dads didna have their own office buildings either. I patted Willie’s head, feeling a wave of my manly pridefulness come through. 

 

“Aye, yer right. Every guy’s dream, right?” He looked at me in question, before running away towards the pac-man arcade. 

 

“Can I play Da? Pleeeaaassseee.” No matter what everyone said, my son was the most adorable kid on this planet. 

 

“Well I didna show ye all this, just to look at it. Ye have my high scores and ye have one hour to try and beat the unbeatable beast, that is myself of course.” I said proudly, while my son was already busy wi’ startin’ up a new game. 

 

The game room was right next to my main office, the purpose of it purely for entertainment. How else was I supposed to relieve from my daily hassles? Aye, I had the gym as weel, but ’twas seventeen floors below my office, so sometimes, when in hurry to run away so I didna strangle somebody, I built me this second-best heaven. 

 

’Twas quite large, wi’ ten various arcades, basketball machine, air-hockey, foosball and my personal favourite, a motor-bike race machine. Angus and Rupert usually hung around here whenever they visited. 

 

As if he knew I just thought of him, Angus entered the game room. “Willie, my mate, what’s new?” Willie waved to Angus, too busy to actually greet him. 

 

“Nice bairn ye have here, Jamie.” He patted my back and turned one-eighty, observing the room like this was his first time. More like a hundredth. 

 

And aye, Willie was nice. He was still a bit shy, mostly wi’ strangers, but that was a given. His life completely changed in a span of couple of weeks and he was still doin’ braw. I was verra proud of him. 

 

He also adapted to Claire verra weel, which I was so verra grateful for. I didna even want to ken what would happen if William didna feel comfortable wi’ Claire. In fact, he really enjoyed spending time wi’ her whenever she was wi’ us at home, which was more often than not. 

 

I kent it was maybe too early, but I was already thinkin’ about askin’ her to move in wi’ us. I just loved her there, in my bed lookin’ bonniest than ever, in my office while borrowin’ my computer for research. She already kept a tooth brush and more than dozen clothes in my room. Askin’ her would just confirm what was already gradually happening. 

 

Also, the more important thing was what Willie’s therapist said the other day. 

 

“Mr Fraser, it’s nice to finally put a face to the name. William talks highly of ye.” We shook hands and he told me he wanted to talk to me before sending William home. 

 

“Aye, of course. And please, it’s Jamie.” Doctor McTavish smiled and got right to the point. “William is a verra braw laddie, Jamie. Of course, there are still five more sessions to go, but I think he already started adapting well.” 

 

“He is adapting weel, which makes me verra happy.” Dr McTavish returned my smile. 

 

“Ye see, he was shy at first and wanted to spend more time alone than wi’ me, which I kent I should expect, but still even for me as his father it was hard, because I didna ken how he liked things, and it was rough at first.” 

 

The good doctor nodded, “It is completely normal for a child to emotionally and physically withdraw after experiencing a potentially traumatic event. The most important thing right now would be establishing a routine, like him making friends at the new school as well as spending more time wi’ ye and getting used to havin’ ye in his life now.” 

 

He paused and than brought his head up quickly as if he just remembered something. “The reason why I wanted to talk wi’ ye is because William mentioned a woman named Claire. I presume Claire is yer significant other?” 

 

I slowly nodded, bile rising from my stomach all the way to my mouth. William seemed to rather enjoy Claire’s company, his exact word being “She is very beautiful  and funny Da, good job!” But what if that wasna the case, maybe he just didna want to make me uncomfortable or hurt my feelings. What if I had to choose between them? What if -”

 

The doctor smiled, letting a comfortable laugh surround us. “Dinna worry yerself, lad. William is verra fond of yer lass. What I wanted to suggest is maybe if ye two are serious and ready for the next step, ye should try living together. I think it would be better for William to be exposed to as many people who care about him as possible, so that he can feel safe, sound and loved.” 

 

I frowned, not entirely sure that the living arrangements would have such an impact on William, but the doctor new the best I guess. “I canna pressure Claire to live wi’ me, Mr McTavish. Of course, I would be the happiest man to have her live wi’ us, but if she isna ready I canna ask that of her.” 

 

He nodded, “Of course. This is only something to think about. William is already verra dependant on ye, and he is starting to get attached to Claire as well. So if ye dinna think the relationship is long-term, than maybe exposing William to Claire isna the best idea. There would be more consequences of him getting attached to her and then suddenly losing her from his life, than spending more time wi’ her. But, if ye are sure she is the one, than letting everything go naturally is also a good solution.” 

 

The good doctor gave me a lot to think about, and I was ready. Now, I just had to find out whether my Sassenach would want to take the next step. Also, I would feel better if I asked William as weel, just to be sure that we were all on the same page. 

 

Turning back to Angus, I murmured. “Weel, someone was bound to be nice ‘round here.” I pointed mocking eyes to Angus and he pretended to be all serious. 

 

“Ye better choose yer words carefully Jamie, before yer baby-sitter leaves ye to spend his precious time somewhere else. Ye dinna think I have better things to do?” That made me laugh. Like an unemployed twenty-seven year old child had somewhere else to be. 

 

“Good one.” I turned towards William, still talking to Angus. “Listen, I willna be longer than one hour. I jus’ needta sign some documents and go over some final touches for the latest product we’re releasing this spring.” 

 

He was already moving towards an arcade, nodding and mumbling some incoherent words just to look like he was interested. Damn, why was I friends wi’ him again?

 

“Dinna worry, mate. Willie boy and I will be jus’ fine, aye Willie?” My son kept his sole interest on beatin’ my score, not even registering that his name was called. 

 

Damn, I created a mini-beast. 

 

I left Willie and Angus and went to my office to finish more than two-weeks worth of document-signing that were put off while I was battling to get William. 

 

So after forty or so minutes spent signing documents and approving projects, my hand was not so far from falling off at the wrist. I couldna believe how a three-week long pause would mess up my usually routine marathon signing. ’Twas a weird feeling, but it still felt good to be back at the office. 

 

I was just ‘bout to move to a second pile of documents, when Emily, my assistant, entered my office. “I have a Claire on the line for you. Do you want me to tell her ye are busy?” 

 

She was short, too skinny for my liking, wi’ blond hair raised up in a tightest bun I had ever seen. That must hurt somethin’ bad. She wore a bright red skirt and a matching blazer, with white heels. To an average man, such as Angus, she was a braw lass, but to me, she didna do anything. Claire ruined all women for me and I wouldna have it any other way. 

 

She smiled, almost seductively? which made me a bit uncomfortable. “Is the office phone not working?” I asked, confused why she walked up to my office to leave a message. She never did that before. “Ye can just put me through, ye dinna have to trouble yerself and walk instead.” 

 

Again that smile. What was going on? “Oh, the phone is working just fine, Mr. Fraser. It’s no bother to deliver the message personally.” She said, while bending her spine a weird way, not sure what she wanted to accomplish there. 

 

I smiled, “Claire is my girlfriend, so whenever she calls just put me through. I always have time for her.” She flushed the shade of ripe tomatoes, and nodded sheepishly. “As you wish,” before running out of my office. 

 

I picked up the phone and I didna even have time to greet my girlfriend. Claire was already talking. “Who was that, Jamie?” She asked, sounding rather pent up. 

 

“Hi, Claire. Lovely hearin’ from ye this time of the day. Why, so nice ye ask, I’m rather braw now that I hear yer voice. And how are ye, mo nighean donn?” She huffed and puffed, “I was fine until a woman answered your phone. Who is she?” 

 

It was then I remembered that whenever I was in my office, my phone was automatically connected to my office phone, in case I was in a meeting. That way, Emily could get all the calls and give me the messages soon as I was free. So I explained all that to Claire and she relaxed. 

 

I was rather content wi’ myself, liking how possessive and jealous she was wi’ me. It made me feel wanted and loved. Also, ’twas only fair, since I was just as much possessive over her. 

 

“Anyway,” she continued, “I thought it would be nice for William, you and I to go to a zoo or something and spend some quality time together. It is a Saturday afternoon and it isn’t terribly cold. What do you say, love?” 

 

I didna think I could love her more, but each time she proved me wrong. I could never tell her what it meant to me that she wanted to spend all her free time wi’ us. It was everything that I didna think I needed and wanted. 

 

“Aye, mo ghraidh. That sounds perfect.” 

 

And it was the most perfect day of my life. But who would say that the following day, our happy, content life would be disrupted by one person I used to love the most in my entire life? 

 

I certainly did not see that comin’. 

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

The following day

 

Muffled sounds woke Willie from his sleep. He was dreaming about his Nanna’s crepes again. Boy, did they taste good. Willie made a mental note to ask his Da to make them for him. It was still a bit weird for him to call Jamie his Da, but at the same time it felt right. Also, he really liked Jamie and he thought that his Da was a very funny man, from how he talked to how he dressed last night. Willie laughed at the memory. 

 

“Da!” Willie exclaimed, face full of horror. “Men are not supposed to wear skirts!” Willie’s eyes were so wide, that Jamie thought he would lose consciousness every second now. Then all of a sudden, William couldn’t stop the laughter that ran through him. “Da, you look so silly and you have more hair on your legs than I have on my head.” Willie continued to make fun of Jamie, but his Da wasn’t having it. 

 

“First of all, a chuilein,” Jamie straighten his kilt and went to kneel beside William. “ Bein’ a lad or a lass doesna mean that ye canna wear whatever ye like. Second and most important one Willie, ’tis called a kilt no a skirt.” Jamie said proudly.

 

“ ’Tis verra fittin’ for a Scottish lad to wear one, maybe we should buy you one as weel.” Jamie winked and Willie wrinkled his nose. “No, thank you. Though it could be a weird Halloween costume, I guess.” 

 

Jamie let out a mocked sigh of horror, putting his hands on his ears like a child. “Ach Dia, William. ’Tis no a costume, lad.” Jamie shook his head, clearly not ready let this go. “Okay,” Jamie sighed, “ ’tis only fitting I tell ye the whole story. ’Twas around the late sixteenth century…”

 

Willie remembered that the funny memory quickly turned into a very boring history lesson, which lead him to sleep in the first place. Stretching, he looked at the digital clock next to his bed, and noticed it was seven in the morning. If his Da was already up, he could make him his favourite crepes. Willie grinned and jumped out of his bed, into his bright green T-Rex slippers and ran towards the kitchen. 

 

Willie almost slipped from the last two steps on the staircase when he saw two strange people in his Da’s living room. Willie stepped back on the stairs, physically preparing to run back to his room. Willie remembered his Da’s words, Yer a brave lad, a chuisle, which made him feel obliged to protect his new home. 

 

“Who are you?” Willie asked, voice lower than usual but under control. He was very much like his Da, he just didn’t know it yet. 

 

A tall man with blond hair took his cap off and smiled. “I’m Ian Murray, lad. And this,” Willie followed the man’s arm which led to a woman. She was short, with hair similar to his mother and eyes same as his father’s. 

 

“This is yer auntie, Jenny Murray.”

 

***

 

“I canna believe ye came into my home wi’out even callin’ me, Jenny!” Jamie all but roared at his equally angry sister. 

 

“Ach, now brathair. Is that what we came to? I canna even visit my own brother like I used to?” Jenny slammed her fist on the huge mahogany desk in the far back of Jamie’s office. 

 

“I dinna think everything is like it used to be, Janet!” Jamie was spitting oil on the fire that was his younger sister. They used to be as close as siblings could be, but everything changed after their father passed away. 

 

Jenny was grieving the loss of her father in their childhood home in Lallybroch, while Jamie was thrown in the ruthless world that was business. He didn’t have time to grieve, not properly anyway. 

 

“And how am I to reach ye, Jamie? Ye dinna call, ye dinna visit. ’Tis like we’re perfect strangers. My cows ken me better than ye do.”  

Jamie’s mouth twitched upward, but he sobered up quickly. He missed his sister and the easy way she could make him laugh, but that didn’t change the fact that he didn’t know this version of his sister as well as he was supposed to. It was his fault, he knew that. 

 

“What ‘bout ye, then? I take full responsibility that I didna contact ye, but that shouldna stop ye from sendin’ a text from time to time.” Jenny was boiling with anger, and her husband’s hand lightly caressing the small of her back was everything but soothing. She narrowed her eyes at Ian, and he moved right away, the need to keep his hand stronger than ever. He also knew better than to meddle in Fraser business. 

 

“I willna reach to somebody that clearly doesna want to be reached. I’ve my pride, brathair.” Jamie wasn’t sure what triggered his smirk to come to play, but he was sure it would cause more trouble. “I dinna mean to offend ye, sister, but I dinna remember callin’ ye now.” 

 

“Now, Jamie,” Ian tried to calm down the situation because it was getting rather ugly for his taste. “We didna come here to fight.” 

 

Jamie’s laugh was cold and unattached. “Weel, yer doin’ a braw job of that, a charaid.” Just as Jenny was about to let her brother know what she thought of his sarcasm, Claire ran into the office, slamming the door behind her with full force. 

 

“Jamie, what the in the bloody hell is going on? I -”

 

“Ach, is this the trollop then? What, it wasna enough to take the lad, ye had to take her as weel? James Fraser, yer pride will be the end of ye.” Jenny spit out, her eyes throwing daggers at Claire. 

 

Claire in return fisted her robe, regretting the decision to dress after breakfast. But before she had time to react verbally, Jamie moved in front of her, shielding her from his sister’s glare. 

“Claire is my girlfriend, and ye’ll speak to her wi’ respect!” 

 

Jenny laughed, not entertained by the show in front of her. “Girlfriend? Of what, two days? How long has it been before she decided her bairn needs a father?” 

 

Jamie’s hold on Claire relaxed, but his anger was still in place. “She. Isna. The. Lad’s. Mother.” Jamie almost spelled it out, but thought better of it. “But, even if she was his mother, ye willna talk to her like this ever again? If ye do Jenny, so help me God - ”

 

“I dinna think God loves ye much, brother. Or ye wouldna be in this mess to begin wi’.” Something broke in Jamie’s heart in that moment, and it was like everyone could hear it crack. Jenny finally let the tears roam freely along her face, but Jamie didn’t stay long enough to see her instant regret. He stormed out of his office so fast that Claire was pushed two steps backwards before following behind him. 

 

Ian shook his head, already used to the Fraser tantrums. It always started with a fiery fight, then the tears would wash the fire away, and lastly, the love would build the dams to stop the tears. It was a nasty business, the Fraser temper. 

 

He kent it well, and he loved it anyway. He cradled his wife, biting his tongue on the told-you-sos and you-know-betters. 

 

***

 

I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even have to ask Jamie who those people were. Looks aside, the cranky woman had Jamie written all over her attitude. I suspected that the man was Jenny’s husband, because he didn’t resemble the Frasers in their looks nor in their notorious way of greeting skills. 

 

I felt a small jab in my heart. Here in front of me was sitting the man who I referred to as the love of my life, yet I didn’t even know he had a sister. How many things were there that I still didn’t know? Or a better question, was I fine with all these secrets that were kept from me? 

 

“Jamie, I don’t know what just happened or the reason for it, but I think it’s best to settle it before you scare William with this behaviour of yours. Im going to make him some breakfast and you can either calm the storm or take this circus outside.” 

 

He looked at me incredulously. “What happened was that my estranged sister just happened to show up at my home and let herself in wi’out even lettin’ me know that she was here or planned to visit.” 

 

"How did they even get in? You do lock the door, right?" I hoped so.

 

"Of course I locked the door. She probably used the spare key, under the welcome mat."

 

I didn't even know there was a spare key?! "Under the mat, Jamie? Really? Not a safe please, I reckon."

 

He just stared at me, not even caring about the privacy issue. 

 

Anyways, I tried to concentrate on one detail at the time. “Why are you estranged, Jamie?” 

 

He sighted, “After my Da died, I just concentrated on takin’ over the business and feelin’ all this guilt. I didna ken they wanted me in their house after everything that happened.” 

 

I was so confused I didn’t even know what to think about this situation. “What do you mean ‘after everything that happened’?” I couldn’t see his eyes since he was staring at his feet the whole time. 

 

“Weel after my Da died. ’Twas my fault, I ken that. I just thought it was better for everyone if I didna go to Lallybroch anymore.” I brought his chin up with my finger, guiding him to look me in the eyes. 

 

“Jamie, your father’s death wasn’t your fault. He had a heart attack.” He shook his head, removing my hand from his chin and getting on his feet. “Aye, but it was, because the night before he died, I told him that I might not want to continue the business. That I was thinkin’ about dropping out of uni and pursuing basketball more seriously. And he couldna take my betrayal, so he died.” 

 

He took another breath, “he couldna live wi’ it Claire. It killed him that I didna want to follow in his footsteps. After his death, I swore to all that’s holy that I would make his company the monopoly on the market, that no other company will be better. That was the least I could do.” 

 

There it was. Another snippet of Jamie’s life that I didn’t know about. After this situation calmed, we definitely had to talk about him not sharing his burdens with me. If we were to work, he had to tell me stuff that was bothering him so that I could help him. He didn’t have to carry all of that guilt by himself. Afterall, what were relationships for? 

 

Before I could say anything, Jenny appeared from the hallway, tears dripping from her chin. “Jamie…” 

 

I realised that whatever horrible misunderstanding happened between the two siblings, it was better to leave them to it. I kissed Jamie’s cheek and left to find William talking with Jenny’s husband in the kitchen. 

 

*** 

 

Willie was enjoying his portion of crepes that he wished for this morning. Maybe he should wish for crepes more often. Claire made him the pancakes, because his Da had to fight with his sister for a bit longer. Those weren’t the exact words Uncle Ian used, but Willie could hear the muffled voices coming from his Da’s office. Apparently, Aunt Jenny and his Da didn’t like each other that much. 

 

“How do ye like the new school, Willie?” Willie liked his brand new Uncle. He was relaxed and genuinely interested about him. It was a bit overwhelming that he all of a sudden had this huge family, when just two months ago he only had his mother after his Nanna passed away. It didn’t pain Willie as much anymore to think of his Nanna, after all, his Da convinced him that Nanna was in much better place where they had higher-quality television and the world’s best oven yet. Two tings that Nanna wanted the most. 

 

“It’s good. Kids are a bit different here than in London, but I don’t mind it much.” Ian laughed, “What do ye mean ‘different’?” 

 

Willie shoved another piece of delicious crepe in his mouth. “Well, they twalk bih we..d.” 

 

Claire was at Willie’s side in a second, “Willie, what did we say for eating with full mouth? It’s dangerous, also you sounded a bit weird yourself now, don’t you think Ian.” 

 

Willie frowned and looked towards Ian to find him smiling and nodding at Claire’s words. “Aye, I’m afraid I didna understand anythin’ ye sad, laddie. I dinna ken if its the food or…” 

 

Willie chewed and chewed and chewed until he swallowed the big bite. “It’s the food, its the food! I don’t speak weird. You see? You see?” Besides, “Tell him Claire. You and I speak properly and they speak weird, right? Tell him!” 

 

“Sure, Willie. Whatever you say.” Claire giggled but was interrupted when his Da and Aunt Jenny entered the kitchen. 

 

“Pack yer backpack, Willie. We’re goin’ to a road trip!” Wille quickly forgot about the rest of the crepes on the table and excitedly hurried to his room. He loved road trips, but he never got to go often because his Nanna was old and couldn’t drive. 

Claire glanced at Jamie, and he smiled at her but his eyes promised they were in for a long talk. 

 

She nodded, satisfied for now. She was still reserved towards Jenny, simply because of how she demeaned and yelled at Jamie just an hour ago. They were bother and sister, maybe they could forgive faster. Maybe it was a shared DNA thing. She wouldn’t know, since she was an only child, but Jamie was her man and no one talked to him like that. 

Jamie enveloped Claire in a bearhug, whispering in her ear. “Ye too, Sassenach. Ye ken I didna like to go anywhere wi’out ye. And before ye say ye can’t ‘cause of the hospital, its a one day trip. There is just somethin’ I got to do today and it canna wait.” 

 

Claire looked him straight in the eyes, “That’s fine, so long as you explain what the fuck just happened. It can be on the ride to wherever we’re going or on the ride back home, but it will happen today, James Fraser.” 

 

Jamie nodded and kissed her lips slowly, “I love ye, mo ghraidh.” 

Chapter Text

“Are we there yet?” Willie asked, for the twentieth time in the past thirty minutes. 

 

 

“No, Willie. Still not there.” I turned in my seat and smiled at his silly, disappointed expression. We had been driving for around two hours, and it seemed as if that was the limit Willie was willing to sit in a car. Too bad we still had around an hour and a half of driving, but I wasn’t crazy enough to actually say that to William. He would talk our ears off for sure. 

 

 

“Why don’t ye try and sleep?” Said an equally impatient Jamie, except that I thought Jamie’s impatience was due to a completely different, time-sensitive thing he had to do when we reach our final destination. 

 

 

William laughed, perplexed with such a silly notion of sleeping in the car. “Da, don’t be daft. I can’t sleep during the day, I’m not a baby.” 

 

 

William started picking up a lot of Jamie’s vocabulary, which I thought was the cutest and funniest thing in the same time. Saying Scottish words with such a strong British accent was just such gold. 

 

 

“Okay, okay, hold yer horses a leanbh.” Jamie laughed. 

 

 

I recalled the word meaning baby or a little one. Not knowing how to chastise him without distracting him from driving, I just slapped his left thigh real quick. “Jamie, who’s the real baby here?” I asked, grinning from side-to-side, happy that I finally started picking up on the Gaelic words. 

 

 

He just laughed more, murmuring ‘busted’ into his chin. 

 

 

By silent agreement, Jamie and I left the talk for when we arrived to wherever we were going. Jamie still didn’t want to share that with us, constantly parroting “ ’Tis a surprise, ye’ll see.” The only thing I knew was that we followed Ian and Jenny, who were in a car in front of us. 

 

 

William was too excited to go on a road-trip to even care where we were heading. He was all flappy-hands and humming-noises, looking out the window and notifying us whenever we passed an animal. So on that note, I decided to let it go and started contemplating how to act around Jenny when we arrive. 

 

 

I wasn’t sure what I would tell her when I had the chance. I thought her rather rude and unreasonable. I didn’t know if her insults came from pure anger, frustration or just madness, but the wound was too raw and I won’t let it just heal. It needed to be mended and properly tended to. Anti-septics, bandages and all. 

 

 

Jenny was in for a good round of apologising if I was at all concerned. It was unacceptable how she behaved in Jamie’s home this morning. It was wrong and uncalled for. Also, barging unannounced at seven in the morning full of pent-up energy and starting a huge fight. Who did that? 

 

 

In my opinion, it was breaking and entering. The jury was still out on the real punishment. But for now, a sincere apology would have to do. 

 

 

“Oh, look! Sheeps everywhere.” Willie broke.  

 

 

“It’s sheep, darling.” I corrected. 

 

 

“No, it’s not. Look how many sheeps are there. SHEEPS!.” 

 

 

“No matter how loud you say it, love. It’s still sheep.”

 

 

“Nope.”

 

 

“Yep.”

 

 

Jamie coughed, but I heard the word baby stuck in the middle of his fake coughing. I swatted his thigh again, but a bit harder now. It wasn’t easy arguing with a child. Well, it was actually very similar to fighting with adults, if said adults were Rupert, Angus or Jamie. 

 

 

“Claire!” William exclaimed, wide-eyed and mouth touching the car floor. “Da is daft and you are blind. I think I should go ride with Uncle Ian.” He announced, rather dramatically. 

 

 

“What do you mean I’m blind?”

 

 

“Well, there’s like at least ten sheeps there, not only one. How can’t you see?” He asked, and then jumped in his seat. “Oh, maybe you have the same thing my Nanna had. But, that’s fine! It comes with age, it’s natural. You can’t help it.” He 

 

 

“What?!” I matched William’s expression from earlier. How old did he think I was? “William, darling…umm… I can see just fine.” I said, choosing my next words carefully but was quickly cut off before I could say anything. 

 

 

“No you can’t! You just said there was only one sheep! Da, tell her!” 

 

 

I turned to Jamie, “Jamie,” I whined. “Care to explain to your son that I’m not blind and I am certainly nooowheeere near his Nanna’s age. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.” I sighed. 

 

 

Jamie just seemed to enjoy the situation, “Aye little guy, we can buy her glasses at the market today. Also, lad, no matter if there’s one or more sheep out there, we still say sheep. But ye’ll learn more in school, so dinna fash.” 

 

 

“Oh,” Willie said, “I didn’t know, thanks Da!”

 

 

“Great.” Side with your father. Whatever. My ego’s fine. Not one bruise in sight.

 

 

“Sooooo, are we there yet?”

 

 

***

 

Jamie never did talk about his family or his family home, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The only thing I reckoned was that it wouldn’t be an old, barn house or anything. Who would knew they had like three barns?! 

 

 

I was looking at the house in front of me, still a bit perplexed. It was a tall, cobblestone building with at least three stories. It was more narrow in width but elongated. It wasn’t your typical village home. Not that I expected that. I thought there would be at least one mansion, since the family owned a multi-billion pound company. 

 

 

This house was no mansion, but it still had an energy about it. It was noticeable that it was an older-than-usual structure, but it still was modern in its own ways. Unique and not what I expected at all. Then again, Jamie was very modest, I guessed he had to get that from his parents. 

 

 

“It’s sooo big, I can’t even see the roof.” Willie squeaked. He was right. 

 

 

Jamie parked the car and joined us at the main entrance, the door left opened after Jenny and Ian came inside. 

 

 

“Jamie, it’s beautiful.” I said, turning to look at him. “Aye.” His smile was infinitesimal, sad even, but it was there. I went up on my tip-toes and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek, “Lead the way, soldier.” 

 

 

Okay, if I thought the house looked big from the outside, the inside was enormous. The main hallway could fit most of my childhood home. And our house was pretty descent. 

 

 

“James Fraser, as I live and breathe!” A tall, chubby woman with nicely arranged grey hair came up from one of the doorways that open to the hallway. 

 

 

“Mrs Baird,” Jamie smiled sincerely and let the woman feel him up. If she was a bit younger, I would be throwing daggers her way right about now. 

 

 

“Ye look as braw as ye ever did. Oh sweet God.” She was beaming and I wondered if she was important to him. 

 

 

“I have to say the same for ye, Mrs. Baird. Ye look a model.” Jamie returned her grin and she smacked him on the shoulder, “Eh, now. Dinna have to overdo it, laddie.” 

 

 

“Mrs Baird, this is William. My son. And this is Claire,” he showed to the general direction of where I was standing, “my girlfriend.” I couldn’t help but feel giddy whenever he introduced me as his girlfriend. It still felt unreal. 

 

 

I glanced at Mrs Baird who was stock-still, looking at Willie like he was a ghost. 

 

 

“Mrs Baird, are ye okay? Ye look awfully pale.” He took her by her shoulders and turned her around. “Let’s get ye some water, shall we.” He looked back at me, “Take William and go sit in the living room, second door on the right. I’ll be right back, aye?” 

 

 

He didn’t wait for my confirmation, so I took Willie by hand. “Is this my house now, Claire? I mean if it's Da's, then it's mine also, right?” 

 

 

Umm, shite. 

 

 

Fuck. Think Beauchamp, think!

 

 

“I…erm… I think we need to see the rest of the house first. Then we’ll see if you like it enough, okay?” 

 

 

He seemed to think about it and than bobbed his little head up and down. “Yes, that sounds like a good plan. Wouldn’t want a house that has no kitchen, right? Where would you make me Nanna’s crepes then?” 

 

 

Phew, I mentally swept my hand over my sweaty forehead. That was a close one. 

 

 

“Yes, that’s right! Gotta have the kitchen.” 

 

***

“So, talk then.” Jenny said authoritatively. 

 

 

Willie was outside, playin’ wi’ wee Maggie and Jamie, who joined us no long ago. They were sleepin’ over at their friends’ house, so naturally, my sister thought it a perfect mornin’ to ambush my apartment. 

 

 

“Well, if I may, -” Claire started. 

 

 

“I dinna think ye may. I asked my brother to explain himself. He can still talk, right? Or did ye bite his tongue off?” 

 

 

“Jenny!” Ian chastised. 

 

 

“Okay, while this was fun and braw, we’ll be goin’ now.” I didna need to listen to this. Jenny could insult me all she wanted, but insulting Claire was a whole other issue. I didna have time for this. 

 

 

“Jamie, sit! We won’t leave this house until your sister apologises to you. I will not stand for this.” Jenny laughed that disgusted kind of laugh that made my insides jump up to my throat and my fists white as snow from tryin’ to hold myself back. ’Twas hard when she was askin’ for it over and over again!

 

 

I took Claire by her hand, “I need to take to ye for a moment. In private.” I didn’t wait and listen to her complaints. I hauled us to the first empty room that filled my vision. 

 

 

After closing the door, I turned towards her. She was leaning against a wall, so bonny I could just devour her whole. Focus, Fraser.

 

 

“Claire. I ken that ye want to stand up for me, but I dinna need ye to fight my fights. Jenny doesna deserve for ye to lose yer nerves over her meaningless words.” I came to lean next to her. 

 

 

“She doesna ken a lot outside this place. She doesna ken my or yer world. She doesna ken our love and us when we are together.” I took a strand of her curly hair and twirled it around my finger for a bit. 

 

 

“She willna ever understand, or even if she does I dinna care. All I need is ye and William, and we dinna have to lose the precious time here when we could spend it wi’ William alone.” 

 

 

“Jamie,” she sighed. “If you think I will just sit around and watch while she talks like that to you, you don’t know me that well. I am not a meek and obedient type! You cannot ask that of me Jamie.” I put the strand back to its place, behind her ear and leaned in to kiss her lips. 

 

 

"I’m sorry I havena told ye ‘bout all this. Truly.” She put her hands around my waist and hugged me. “It’s just, I dinna think I ever dealt wi’ my father’s death. I just buried all that somewhere deep inside me and didna think ‘bout it anymore. It hurt too much.” 

 

 

I let the silent tears drop down my face, knowin’ that Claire was there to wipe them better. “Baby, don’t cry. I can’t take it.” Her voice voice was breakin’ and I locked eyes wi’ her to see her bonny whisky-coloured eyes shining back at me. “The reason I didna tell ye all this, honest to God, I didna even think of it. I reckon I mastered the skill o’ no thinkin’ ‘bout my Da, or the past and how I handled it. Because… Claire… when I’m wi’ ye, I only see the light. I dinna remember the darkness and it’s all ‘cause of ye, mo ghraidh.” 

 

 

She kissed the track left by my tears until she fused our mouths together. It wasna hot or hurried. ’Twas tender and slow. The kiss was sayin’ everythin’ the words failed to describe. “I get it, I really do, Jamie. But, you have to promise me to share stuff with me. If this is going to work -”

 

 

“It will, Claire. It has to.” I interrupted, impatience gettin’ better of me. 

 

 

She put her index finger over my lips, silencing me. “ -if this is going to work, we have to say these kind of things to each other, Jamie. Whenever my insecurities get better of me, I still tell you because I know you’ll prove me wrong. It’s not always as hard, but we have to share stuff like this or we won’t make it.” 

 

 

As much as I didna like that she was even thinkin’ of us possibly failing as a couple, she was right. “Aye, Sassenach. I promise.” 

 

 

“Good,” she said, while straightening my already straightened shirt. “Now, let’s go tell Jenny how wrong she is.” 

 

 

***

 

“But… I didna ken.” Jenny said, tears streaming down her face. 

 

 

“Of course we didna ken, when yer daft brother decided to close up in his apartment and let his even dafter brain work things out.” As I gathered, Ian was Jamie’s best friend and that was how he eventually met Jenny. They have two children, Maggie and Jamie, named after my Jamie. 

 

 

When you look from the outside, they were a very nice family. Who would say such petite, innocent-looking Jenny had a tongue that could cut trees in half. 

 

 

“I ken now that I made a horrible mistake of how I handled things, but at the time it all made sense.” Jamie squeezed my hand to the point it hurt, but I bit the inside of my cheek and swallowed down the pain. If he needed my support, in any way, I would always give it on a silver platter - free of charge. Altruism and love would to that to ya.

 

 

“Ye daft pig, ye broke my hurt in pieces. Thinkin’ ye didna want to come back home ‘cause ye didna give a damn. I was hurt, Jamie. Ye hurt me.” 

 

 

“I was hurt too, Janet. But I get it. And… Im’…umm… sorry. I’m sorry.” 

 

 

“Good. As ye should.” 

 

 

“Jenny,” Ian and I warned at the same time. I wasn’t joking when I said I wouldn’t leave this house until she apologised. Forty-five minutes later, and I still haven’t heard anything resembling an apology.

 

 

“Fine. I’m sorry, brathair. I apologise for this mornin’. ’Twas no a nice thing I did, but ye have to realise that I didna ken what else to do. I missed ye, Jamie.” 

 

 

She quickly dried off another tear, as if her cheeks couldn’t take any more assault. Jamie let go of my hand and crossed a shot distance to where Jenny was sitting. He took her hands in his. “I miss ye to, a ghraidh.” 

 

 

Jenny lifted herself up from her chair and tugged at Jamie’s hand. “Come now, brother. Ye came here for a reason, aye? It’s time ye say goodbye to our Da.” 

 

 

I was speechless. Was his father buried here, on their property? Was his mother here as well?

 

 

I only ever visited my parents’ grave three times. The first time was the funeral, the second followed the five year anniversary of their deaths, and the third time was before I moved to Edinburgh - as if to ask for their blessing. 

 

 

I missed them a lot and to think that Jamie’s father and probably mother were resting on their own land was bringing peace slowly back into picture. To know that he could come home and not just dwell in memories but actually talk to them was reassuring. 

 

 

Jenny continued, no held interest in my shock. “Ian can show Claire and William the horses, we just welcomed Gideon Jr. a few days ago.” 

 

 

“Aye,” Ian smiled at me and I just stood still. This family had some strange dynamics for sure. 

 

 

***

 

I hadna once visited my Da’s grave. I didna ken what that said ‘bout me, but he was buried here in Lallybroch and I just couldna come home after what I… oh weel. 

 

 

Jenny left me to have a bit of privacy, but I didna ken what to do. All of a sudden I was shy. I didna ken what to say to my Da, so I just started from the beginning. Once I started talkin’, it aljust poured like long-expected rain in dry season. I told him of my mistakes, of the company and how well it was doin’. 

 

 

I told him he had three grandchildren. That William was only good thing that happened in that dark time where I was a mess and much more. 

 

 

I told him ‘bout Claire, and how I plan to ask her to marry me and live wi’ me and just share her life wi’ me. I couldna wait for our little family to grow and for us to be there together. 

 

 

I told him how she was the one like my mam was the one for him. How whenever I looked at her, my heart stopped and then started beatin’ like crazy. How she was the best thing that ever happened to me and how I wouldna ken what to do wi’out her. 

 

 

“Hey, Da. Who are you talking to?” Willie came around me, carrying a wooden stick in one hand. 

 

 

“Weel, Willie, I’m talkin’ to my own Da.” I scrunched down and brought him to sit on my knee. “Oh, is your Da in the same place as my Nanna?” I patted his smart, little head.

 

 

“Aye, and my mam, too. But, they must have a good time, if yer Nanna is there to cook ‘em her famous crepes, eh?” He smiled up at me, “Yes, she is the best cook!” 

 

 

“So, what ye have there, a chuisle?” I pointed to the stick in his hand, and he chuckled. “Wee Jamie and I are duelling.” He straightened his back, like he was proud of himself. 

 

 

“Oh aye? And what does the winner get?” He jumped of my knee and turned to face me. “The winner gets to ride one of the horses! Isn’t that exciting?” He was smilin’ and I would do whatever it took to keep that smile on his face. 

 

 

“Aye, mo chroi. I can help the winner than, but we canna stay much longer, ye have school tomorrow, or did ye forget ‘bout that already?” 

 

 

He was already running off, “Nah, Da!” 

 

 

“He’s a braw lad, Jamie.” I turned to see Jenny climbing the stairs leadin’ to where I was standing, next to my parents’ graves. “Aye, he is su pure, Jenny. He is jus’ perfect.” I said dreamy. It took exactly one look at my bairn to love him more than I ever thought was possible. 

 

 

“He is lucky to have ye as his Da. An, I ken that I didna help the situation, and I ken that I didna exactly say it, but I’m happy for ye Jamie. I canna say I fully understand everythin’ that’s happenin’ in yer life at the moment, but so long as it makes ye happy, a brathair.”

 

 

I hugged her shoulders and let her to lean in to my side. “Thank ye, Jenny. I ken Mam and Da are probably turnin’ in their graves at what happened to me in the last two months, but somethin’ great came out of it.” That was all I cared about. 

 

 

“I dinna have to ask ye if ye love her. I can see it in yer eyes whenever ye look at her. I just dinna want her to break yer heart. I canna loose ye again, Jamie.” I felt her voice trembling but decided that ’twas enough tears for one day. 

 

 

“She is it for me. I love her so much I would let her go if she wanted to go. But, for me, this is it. Willie, Claire and I against the world.”

 

 

“As ye say, a brathair. As ye say.”

Chapter Text

“So really, what I said wasna inappropriate at all.” 

 

 

 

“Aye, Angus. Askin’ her if she’s a mum ‘cause he has a nice set of twins isna inappropriate at all.” Geillis mocked.

 

 

 

“Weel, she seemed to like it fine.” He smirked and sipped his beer.

 

 

 

“Did she like it before or after she slapped ye?” Jamie joined in. By some silent agreement, Angus was that friend in our group that we mocked from time to time. It was innocent and he seemed to go with it. 

 

 

 

“Ach, what do ye ken, ye weren’t even there. She was soo into it.” 

 

 

 

Rupert flicked his fingers against Angus’ head. “Oh, I’m soo into ye right now, Angus.” 

 

 

 

Angus shot an unamused look towards Rupert. “Ha ha, verra funny.” 

 

 

 

“I think yer funny,” Geillis said and pecked Rupert’s cheek. 

 

 

 

“And I want to puke,” Angus exclaimed, scrunching his nose in disgust. 

 

 

 

“Yer verra cute tonight, Sassenach.” Jamie whispered into my ear, stroking my thigh lightly. 

 

 

 

In fact, I thought I was very cute, indeed. I had chosen to wear one of my favourite shirts. Rather plain, it was a red piece with V neckline. You would think it was for a relaxing-sweeping-floors-Saturday-afternoon kind of thing. That was why the back of the shirt was almost non-existent. 

 

 

 

The sleeves touched my wrists and the hem of it was tucked into a skirt I had recently purchased. It was black with a front zipper and a pair of pockets in front and back. Barely reaching my mid thigh, it was quite short, but Geillis seemed to approve.

 

 

 

“Ay, ay, ay, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp. I kent ye had it in ye, ye little minx. Jamie’s gonna piss his pants when he sees ye in that.

 

 

 

Oh well, he almost did. His mouth agape and his eyes jumping out of their wishful place, had we not been in front of Joe’s and on a very crowded side-walk, let’s just say we wouldn’t be drinking here with the gang. 

 

 

 

My dashing Highlander didn’t disappoint either, but then again, when does he really disappoint? He could be wearing old racks and scraps and he would still look perfect in my eyes. 

 

 

 

He was wearing a blue velvet three-piece suit, making him just the hottest man in Edinburgh and the whole universe, thank you very much. With the way his suit-jacket was moulded into his biceps and those pants tightly wrapped around his muscled legs, it was like Christmas came early. 

 

 

 

The blue of his suit accentuated his eyes, making them pop and shine in the dim light of the pub. His hair was fashionably disheveled from the full day of working, but that’s why we were here, relaxing on a Friday night after a very busy week. 

 

 

 

Jamie went back to his schedule as a successful businessman, and my schedule in the hospital couldn’t be worse, which meant that Jamie and I hadn’t seen each other the whole week after we came back from Lallybroch. 

 

 

 

Most of the nights, my shift ended around early morning, meaning that I would sleep the whole day when Jamie was working and than go back to the hospital for yet another hectic night-shift. I also missed William a lot, the little bugger crawled straight to my heart without me even noticing. 

 

 

 

This week was also the first time we were apart for more than one day since we started dating. The feeling was very weird and strange, and I didn’t want to have a repeat of that. Thus, I decided to drop a few hints at Jamie when we go back to his apartment. I didn’t want to seem to needy, but I did need him and I was proud of that. He made me a better person when we were together. 

 

 

 

Afterall, it would just be hints, innocent little hints… If he were to take the bait, oh well, I would certainly be one lucky lady. 

 

 

 

Our relationship moved pretty bloody quickly, so I wouldn’t call moving in together such a big step for us. We basically had a kid together after two days following our first kiss. God bless William, but he certainly wasn’t planned. Yet I felt like the best things in my life were unplanned. Jamie was unplanned, Willie too. Geillis, my career. 

 

 

 

I liked unplanned, I liked it very much. 

 

 

 

We, however, had a weekend for ourselves since Willie wanted to spend more time with his cousins. Ian, bless him, came all the way from Lallybroch with wee Jamie to pick up Willie and I could kiss his Scottish feet. Yes, I loved William dearly, but I feel like Jamie and I hadn’t had a chance to properly date. So a few nights alone would be lovely. 

 

 

 

Turning my head to the left, I kissed Jamie’s mouth. “You too, look very cute, baby.” My words were swallowed by the intensity of our kiss. It was meant to be nothing but a sweet peck on the lips, yet the unplanned things that came after were what left me hot and panting for more. 

 

 

 

Our little bubble was bursted by Geillis, who looked at me through her mascara-coated eyelashes. “Puke,” she mimicked by throwing her finger towards her mouth and then throwing her head back in laugher when she looked behind me. 

 

 

 

I pivoted and saw Jamie, who was full-on an angry bull and Geillis’ fiery hair was the provoking flag. One more comment from her and my bull would start running around the pub like crazy. I stroked my hand up and down his leg, trying and successfully bringing his attention back on me. 

 

 

 

“Little tight-up, are we?” I asked, continuing to stroke him casually. 

 

 

 

He stopped my hand. “Sassenach, I havena had ye in my bed for a week. A week! Instead of spending our time workin’ each other into oblivion, I have to sit here and listen to these idiots.” He took a dram of his whisky. “Also, stroke me like that one more time, and ye will have to clean up the mess.” I choked on air, but couldn’t find the will to remove my hand.

 

 

 

Instead, I moved my hand upwards and was met with his unsurprisingly firm erection. We were sitting at a table, so what would seem like an innocent hand-holding under the table was actually me driving my boyfriend insane. 

 

 

 

“I’m goin’ to the bar for another beer, anyone else want somethin’?” Angus asked, already on his feet.

 

 

 

“Whisky. I want an-another dr-dram.” Jamie all but stuttered while I increased my rhythm. Angus just nodded, oblivious to Jamie’s state. 

 

 

 

“So, I was thinkin…” Rupert was talking but I was too distracted watching Jamie trying not to fall apart and failing miserably. As much as I wanted to enjoy this time with my friends, I just couldn’t help this sudden wave of lust and power that came over me. 

 

 

 

“Claire, I was serious before. Ye better stop lass, or…” I stroked faster, “or what?” I challenged. Next thing I knew, Jamie pulled me by my arm, murmured some poor excuse and hauled me towards women’s restroom. 

 

 

 

Jamie pulled us into one of the free bathroom stalls, clicked the lock into place and pinned me to the door. “Or I’ll have to have my way wi’ ye.” He said before planting his mouth on mine, pushing his tongue past my lips and falling into a casual dance, exploring and taking his time. I locked my legs around his hips so that I had better support. 

 

 

 

I went straight for his pants, undoing the buttons and pulling the zipper down. “Jamie,” I whispered into his mouth. “I need you, baby.” That was all it took. His hand snaked in between my thighs and ripped a very expensive piece of lingerie right off of me. “Jamiee, those were expensive and very good looking.” I whined. He took his length into his hand and slid into me in one, steady push. “Fuck, Sassenach. Ye are beautiful no yer clothes. But, if it makes ye feel better, I’ll buy ye new pair. Christ, ye feel amazing.” 

 

 

 

I moaned, forgetting where we were for a second. Jamie covered my mouth with his hand. “Ye ken how I love yer wee noises, mo chridhe. But, I dinna want to share them wi’ anyone, be that men or women." If it was possible I blushed more. “I’m so-r-ry,” I stuttered as Jamie’s movements became more calculated. “I never did it in a pub's restroom before,” I whispered against his neck. 

 

 

 

“Fuck,” he groaned in my ear. “Me neither.” That fact made me incredibly happy and I started meeting his movements, “so I’m your first, ha?” I could feel him smile against my neck. “Aye, Sassenach. And ye are mine.” He said while working his mouth down my cleavage. “Christ, Claire. What are ye doin’ to me? I couldna breath for the last hour, lookin’ at ye in this clothes and not bein’ able to do anythin’.” 

 

 

 

“Well, you can do something about it now, Jamie. Harder, I need ha-rder!” I pleaded, the familiar heat in between my legs telling me that I was close. 

 

 

 

“Christ. Claire are ye close? I canna keep it much longer, love.” He pushed into me, once, twice… “Now, Jamie!” I screamed. We took each other’s necks as shelters for our screams of pleasure as we both found our release. 

 

 

 

“Damn, Jamie. This was soo hot.” I said as I relaxed in his hold. He smiled and kissed my lips. “Ye are soo hot.” He smirked and kissed the exposed skin in the V of my shirt. 

 

 

 

“Do you think anyone noticed we were gone too long?” 

 

 

 

He laughed that throaty laugh that always had me wanting to hear it again and again and again. “Aye, probably.” 

 

 

 

I frowned, “Do you think if we can just sneak out and start the sleepover earlier?” I really didn’t want to go back to my friends with my glass face which probably had written ‘just shagged to heaven and back’ all over it. 

 

 

 

“Ye willna hear me complain. Lead the way, mo chridhe.” 

 

 

 

I remembered that my jacket wad inconveniently draped across the back of my chair, so I sent a much better liar with a great poker face - aka Jamie - to fetch it and come up with some 'Claire’s sick, we have to go home’ cliche excuse. 

 

 

 

I called an Uber in the meantime. It was a breezy April night, but pleasant nonetheless. I was still flushed from all the hot lovemaking just minutes ago. Just another thing to cross off of my mental to do list. 

 

 

 

“Did they buy what you were selling?” I asked Jamie as we entered the Uber. He looked at me confused and than just shook his head. “Rupert and Angus maybe, but Geillis said that my ‘little buddy’ shouldna make ye sick, so I told her that my ‘buddy’ wasna little and that ye are more than satisfied wi’ him.” He said, a little cocky. 

 

 

 

“Jamie!” I pushed at his bicep. I blushed like ripe tomato when I heard the Uber driver laugh. Weren’t there, like, policies on eavesdropping? If there weren’t, there definitely should be. 

 

 

***

 

 

Thirty minutes later, Jamie and I were relaxing in his devilishly enormous bath. It was just made for us. 

 

 

 

“Claire, I’ve been thinkin’, ken?” He’s tone was serous all of a sudden and I got chills just thinking about what he might say. “I hated this week.” 

 

 

 

I turned in his arms and rested my chin on his chest. “Me, too.” 

 

 

 

“Willie and I missed ye a lot, ye ken. And I dinna want to have that feelin’ of not knowin’ what yer doin’ or no bein’ able to hear yer voice. Not havin’ ye in my bed every night and morning, I dinna like it Claire.” I smiled, fighting back tears. “I missed you guys, too. Like, a lot.” 

 

 

 

A chuckle escaped his throat. “A lot lot?” I braced my palms on his shoulders and brought my mouth to his, “a lot lot lot lot…” 

 

 

 

“Sassenach,” he broke our kiss and steadied me with his arms around my waist. “I want ye to move in wi’ us, and before ye say its too early, it’s really no of ye think -”

 

 

 

I grinned from ear to ear, letting the tears roam freely and enjoying the fact that no innocent hints were needed afterall. What you wish is what you get, and all that. 

 

 

 

“Yes, yes, yes, yes.” I said as I kissed his temple, his eyes, cheeks, nose and lips. “I would love nothing more, James Fraser.” He grinned and brought me to straddle him. 

 

 

 

“Weel, then, now that we settled the important stuff, we can relax, aye?” 

 

 

***

 

 

I was awoken with Jamie peppering kisses all over my body and just when I was conscious enough to enjoy it properly we were interrupted by Jamie’s phone. Apparently, somethin’ came up with some of his shareholders in Boston, so he had to have an emergency phone-conference. 

 

 

 

I showered and told him to meet me in my apartment. Nothing better than Saturday morning to start packing up my tiny apartment into carton boxes yet again. This time though, I was more excited than ever. This was the beginning of something beautiful and nothing could ruin this special day. 

 

 

 

I entered my building and took the stairs, too cheery to wait for the lift. 

 

 

 

Just as I rounded the corner leading to my apartment, I saw a familiar mop of brown hair sitting in front of my door. 

 

 

 

All my excitement left me in a rush, leaving behind anger and confusion to coat my face. 

 

 

 

I swallowed hard and used all the energy I had to say the name I had hoped never to have to say aloud again. 

 

 

 

“Frank?”

Chapter Text

“Frank?”

 

 

 

I took a step forward, avoiding the carelessly thrown shadow blocking my view, and was met with my ex-boyfriend. Or what used to be him. He was sitting on my doormat, his elbows on his legs, and his hands wrapped around his jawline, the only support keeping his head in place. 

 

 

 

Something wasn’t right.

 

 

 

I didn’t want to be rude or anything, but Frank looked awful. He must’ve lost around ten pounds, his dark hair brushed past his shoulders now - not a very flattering look. He was paler than the white shirt I was sporting, and his eyes were dryer than any desert known to a man.

 

 

 

“Frank, are you okay? Are you ill?” I asked, a bit of sincerity in my voice. 

 

 

 

He scrunched his nose and looked at me from below his thick lashes. “I’m not ill, though I’m not quite sure what I am, Claire.” He said it as a fact, but I picked up on the unvoiced question. “I don’t understand, but…” I drifted off, trying to find words but came up short-handed. 

 

 

 

“Look, Frank. I don’t mean to be rude, but Jamie’s going to be here any moment now, and I don’t think he'll appreciate you being here.” I said, hoping to meet his eyes, but he just laughed and looked at his hands. 

 

 

 

“James? James Fraser you mean?” He still didn’t look at me. 

 

 

 

“Yes, Frank. Jamie’s coming to help me pack.” Maybe if Frank realised that I was in a serious relationship, he would go. I didn’t even want to imagine what Jamie would think, or do for that matter, if he knew Frank was here. 

 

 

 

“Going on a trip?” He asked sardonically. This always annoyed me about Frank. Projecting and avoiding the problem was his mastery. Turning everything around and putting words in my mouth. Manipulating me so that I thought I was always the one that was wrong. But I saw right through him. 

 

 

 

“Frank, to be honest, I really don’t have time for small talk. So if you want to say whatever you came here for, say it. If not, I would like you to go, please.” 

 

 

 

“Where did you sleep, Claire?” What? The? Fuck? 

 

 

 

“Excuse me?”

 

 

 

“I came by last night, hoping that we could talk. You weren’t here, so I figured you must’ve been stuck at the hospital. I decided to wait. So I waited, and here you are. I guess you decided to grace me with your presence, after all.” He finally looked at me, his eyes filling up with anger. He was angry? 

 

 

 

“Let me get this straight,” I said, more aggressively than I wanted, but if the shoe fits. I crossed my arms in front of me, unconsciously protecting myself. “You waited for me, in front of my apartment, for the whole night?” He just nodded, his stern expression making him look older than he really was. 

 

 

 

“Where have you spent the night, Claire?” He asked again. 

 

 

 

“That is none of your bloody business.” I spit, my anger growing inside me and waiting for the perfect moment to burst free. 

 

 

 

I was about to move towards the door of my apartment when Frank stood up, immediately loosing his balance and collapsing on my door. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, “Are you… drunk?” I hesitated, since never in the two years we had been together had I ever seen him drunk. Geillis always made fun of him not drinking a lot and being ‘extrrremely borrring’. I hadn’t thought about it too much. He didn’t drink, so what? 

 

 

 

“I can’t stop thinking about you, Claire. I really don’t want to think about you anymore, but I can’t stop. Nothing helps, nothing! I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I thought alcohol would be the great escape, but it just makes me think about you more!” He eased off of the wall and took one step towards me, on very wobbly feet. 

 

 

 

I could smell the alcohol in the air. He reeked of gin. “Frank, I think you should go.” I said as I took a side step. I wasn’t scared nor did I think Frank would hurt me, but he was intoxicated and very much so. I wasn’t up to taking any risks. 

 

 

 

“I can’t, Claire. I can’t go. I… I… I need you. I miss you.” Oh, fuck. Maybe I should just text Jamie. I wasn’t sure if I could make Frank leave by myself. The only cardio my muscles had experienced in the past few months were in Jamie’s bed. Not that I was complaining, or anything. 

 

 

 

“Frank, I beg you. Go home.” He shook his head, one hand supporting his weight on the wall of the hallway while he took another step, cutting the distance between us. 

 

 

 

“You think he wants you? You are just a convenient peace of arse to him, Claire. He’s going to use you and than discard you like he did all those women.” I couldn’t take it anymore. How dare he even think like that? Who did he think he was?

 

 

 

The slap of my hand meeting his cheek ricocheted from one wall to the next, the loud smack the only audible sound. I was so mad that I couldn’t even remember to breathe. I hadn’t even thought of Frank since we broke up, but I thought we agreed our relationship wasn’t healthy. We didn’t love each other like we should have. I thought we were on the same page. 

 

 

 

I was so angry that he ruined what was supposed to be the perfect morning. I would have packed up the little things I owned and enjoyed the wait for Jamie. Yet, here I was, spitting fire on Frank’s insults. 

 

 

 

He just laughed at my reaction and when I was about to repeat the gesture he caught my hand and yanked me closer to him. I could smell the odour of cheap gin as his breath attacked my senses. 

 

 

 

“Frank,” I warned. “Let. Me. Go.” I tried to yank my hand back but he pinned me to a wall, my head crushing on the cold concrete. He could barely stand on his two feet just minutes ago, where did he find the strength to manhandle me? 

 

 

 

Jesus, Beauchamp. And you call yourself a doctor? 

 

 

This was his fight response. He saw that I wanted him to leave as a threat and decided to fight me. Now adrenal glands let the norepinephrine coat his bloodstream, making his heart-rate speed up, his breathing rapid and way in my personal space. 

 

 

 

I couldn’t move. He might not be as muscular as Jamie, but he still towered over me, his height giving him the advantage. 

 

 

 

“Just one kiss, Claire, and you’ll remember that what we had was real and raw. That I appreciated you and respected you and saw you as a real person.” He mumbled against my neck. I squirmed and tried to escape his hold to no avail. He cornered me. 

 

 

 

Finally I let the unwanted thoughts sink in. Was I about to be molested by my ex boyfriend? I couldn’t even conjure the thought of being taken without my will. I tired to push him away again, but his hands were bruising my elbows, making it impossible to for me to move my hands. 

 

 

 

I felt the bile moving upwards from my stomach. “FRANK! Let me go!” I screamed to the empty hall. “Help!” But there was no one there. 

 

 

 

Jamie, where are you?

 

 

 

“I made you who you are, Claire. Or did you forget? Before me, you were falling apart. I helped you heal, I was there for you when no body was. I loved you with all that I had in my heart, soul and mind, but this was how you repaid me?” He said or asked, I couldn’t tell. 

 

 

 

He was kissing down my neck and biting the skin on my collarbone. “You left me for that pimp. You whore! You left me, how dare you?” He shouted and bit of the top button of my cotton shirt with his teeth. 

 

 

 

This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. I thought that if I said it enough times it would come true. But I was so very wrong. Frank bit off  the second button, revealing the red lace of my bra. “Jesus, Claire. How I missed you.” 

 

 

 

I was trying so bad to push him away, moving my legs in between his, but we were too close. I couldn’t move. I was trapped. “HELP!” I screamed when I felt his mouth on the newly exposed skin. “Someone, please….. help me!” I whispered as the tears broke free and coated my face. I stilled, exhausted and scared, so scared that my muscles cramped and gave in to the torture.

 

 

 

“Fuck, you’re hot.” Frank said as he tried to free my nipple with his teeth, biting down on the lace of my bra. “Let me go, Frank! Please let me go!” I pleaded while hiccuping.  

 

 

 

It was two seconds later that I heard him. I heard him calling my name. And then I heard the thumps of his feet on the concrete of the stairs. He was here. He was going to save me. 

 

 

“CLAIRE!” The voice was so close but I couldn’t see anything from the tears flooding my eyes. “JAMIE!” I screamed back. Frank seemed to be oblivious to my or Jamie’s screams and that was probably why he cursed all the way to Australia when Jamie took him by his throat. 

 

 

 

I collapsed to the ground, the shaking of my body the only movement on the dirty floor. 

 

 

 

“YE FUCKIN’ SADIST! YE SICK BASTARD. YE’LL PAY FOR THIS!” Jamie shouted as he kept throwing punches at Frank’s face. Frank didn’t move a muscle and if I didn’t say anything Jamie would kill him I was sure. 

 

 

 

I still couldn’t get up from the shock, but i mustered all the energy left to get the words out of my throat. “Jamie stop!” I said. It was barely louder than a whisper but I was in shock. It was the best I could do. 

 

 

 

Jamie ignored me and continued punching Frank while he held him by his throat on the wall next to my doorway. “Ye are a dead man, Frank Randall. DO YE HEAR ME?” Jamie roared and I could swear I heard a crack of Frank’s rib as Jamie punched him straight in the chest. 

 

 

 

As much as I wanted to kill Frank myself, I wanted Jamie more. “Jamie,” I tried again. “Think about William, please!” I begged through the tears. 

 

 

 

It felt like hours passed by before Jamie let Frank’s limp body hit the ground. His bloodshed eyes turned to me and then he was in front of me, picking me up and carrying me towards the stairwell. “Jamie? What are you doing? We can’t leave him here!” I voiced in the hollow space of his neck. 

 

 

“The hell we canna. I dinna give two shits about the bastard. I need to bring ye home. Jesus, Sassenach, please tell me that ye’re okay.” 

 

 

 

I couldn’t stop the tears that flowed and I was so mad that I was still crying. “I’m fine,” I hiccuped. “We have to call for help Jamie. He was so drunk. He could go into shock. He needs medical help, right now!” I mumbled when suddenly Jamie stopped. 

 

 

 

***

 

 

Fifteen minutes later, Frank was took to the emergency room while Jamie promised to the emergency staff on sight to bring me to the hospital in his car. I was numb and tired, so tired. I just wanted to close my eyes and forget about what happened and not think about what could've happened had Jamie not showed up when he did. 

 

 

 

I still couldn’t believe that Frank did this. I was in shock. I started breathing hard, making Jamie yell at the scared, innocent nurses how I needed to be their priority. 

 

 

 

A physical checkup  was done, and the doctor said I was fine. A couple of bruises but nothing drastic. I didn’t really hear what he was telling Jamie but I didn’t care. 

 

 

 

I just wanted to go home. 

 

 

 

“Claire? Sassenach.” Jamie whispered when the doctor left us alone. “I’m so sorry, mo ghraidh. If I didna take that call, I would've been there wi’ ye and this wouldna have happened. I’m so, verra, verra sorry, baby.” 

 

 

 

I just shook my head and cried, because I couldn’t do anything else. I finally whispered the only words that mattered. 

 

 

 

“I love you. Take me home, Jamie. Please. I just want to go home.” 

 

***

 

Jamie was signing my realise papers that the nurse brought to the room when the doctor that examined me came back into the room, clutching a piece of paper like it was a gold bar.

 

 

"Miss Beauchamp, yer blood-test results just came back. Ye're pregnant. Around five weeks, I would say."

Chapter Text

"Miss Beauchamp, yer blood-test results just came back. Ye're pregnant. Around five weeks, I would say.”

 

 

 

I couldn’t understand anything else the doctor was swiftly saying from the buzzing in my ears, pounding of my pulse through my veins, beating of my heart against my chest. I heard the words the doctor said, but I didn’t register them until an unwanted urge to vomit came over me like a pouring rain on an already shitty day. 

 

 

 

I ushered a few words of warning towards Jamie, and bolted for the small toilet joined to the hospital room. The seat was already up, so I just poured everything that was wrong with this morning out of me. Both figuratively and literally. 

 

 

 

I always hated throwing up. The sudden urge that is as unwanted as an F on a test, the horrible acid burning my throat and in result leaving dragon breath in my mouth. The breath alone was playing mind-games on my gag reflex and I was counting seconds until that same unwanted urge came upon me yet again. 

 

 

 

I could feel Jamie kneeled next to me on the cold, plain, white bathroom tiles. One of his hands was in my disheveled hair, saving the strands from being flushed down the toilet, his other hand around my waist, keeping me from falling into oblivion that was my current misery. 

 

 

 

My stomach tried me a few more times, but I was done - empty. There was nothing else in me that could give in to the unwanted urge, and I fell against Jamie, my soft back meeting his rigid front. I felt his heart through the thin layer of my blue and white polka-dotted hospital gown. His heart was racing with my own, the destination still unknown. 

 

 

 

He helped me up and when my legs gave away in protest, he scrunched down a little and picked me up in his arms. 

 

 

 

In the midst of everything, I was still painfully aware of the dragon breath I was sporting, so I turned my head and placed my cheek on his shoulder, looking over at the room where the doctor was talking to the nurse before his eyes followed up Jamie’s arms until he reached my useless form. 

 

 

He immediately went into action-mode, sprinting to the hospital bed on which I was gently being put on by Jamie, like I weighed not more than a feather.  The doctor was asking something about feelings, pain and IV, but I had no intention of answering. 

 

 

 

I was in shock, I knew that. Although, this was a very different kind of shock than the one I experienced upon coming to the hospital. I hated Frank now more than ever. I hated him so much that I couldn’t care less if he was laying on a bed similar to mine, dead or alive. I hated him so much that even if he was alive, I would find him and kill him myself. 

 

 

 

This was supposed to be one of the happiest days of my life. Even more so now that I was pregnant. Pregnant.

 

 

 

Fuck. 

 

 

 

Hot tears rolled down my cheeks. I was pregnant with a baby Jamie and I made. And this was how we had to find out? To say I didn't hate Frank was to say the sky wasn’t blue. 

 

 

 

I looked at Jamie and found him starring at me with the utmost understanding pooling in his panty-dropping eyes. His smile was sad and his hands shook as he took my face in between his palms and stroked away the tears. 

 

 

 

“He’s a dead man, Claire. Being able to breathe doesna change the fact, mo ghraidh.” 

 

 

 

My smile was infinitesimal, the best I could do in the moment. I understood, though. He might technically be alive, but to us he was dead. Simple as that. 

 

 

 

Jamie sat on a chair next to the bed and relaxed his forehead on my stomach. He spoke into my belly, Gaelic words that I couldn’t understand, but loved the sound of them anyway. 

 

 

***

 

 

The familiar smell of bacon and scrambled eggs woke me from my comatose state. I pivoted my head a little, and caught small red lights displaying that it was two in the afternoon. Except from my bruised mental health, I was feeling fine.  

 

 

 

I took the robe off a chair in Jamie’s bedroom, or our bedroom, I guessed. I smiled at the thought. I didn’t know how much time it would take to process this morning, but I would likely never forget it. Still, I didn’t want to let that affect me as it probably should. 

 

 

 

As I was fastening the robe around my waist, I caught my reflection in the mirror. I turned around and unfastened the robe. I couldn’t believe that a tiny person was going to grow in my belly. There was no bump, no physical indication that I was pregnant, yet I had this feeling. I didn’t know whether it was maternal instinct, but I could feel the baby’s presence through my veins. It was there and I wasn't alone in my body anymore. We were a team now, my baby and I.

 

 

 

I closed the robe and wiped at my eyes. I wanted to be so happy but I couldn’t and it was so, so frustrating. I marched out of the room and headed towards the kitchen. 

 

 

 

I lost balance for a second, my knees giving away a bit whenever I saw Jamie was my body’s natural response to him. He was shirtless, a flimsy pair of sweats sat low around his hips, showing off his too-good-for-this-world arse. Droplets of water cascaded from the tips of his ruddy curls onto his shoulders and down his back. I could lick him if I wasn’t so bloody confused with my feelings. 

 

 

 

He heard me, or sensed me, and turned around. “Hi,” his voice was nothing more than a whisper, his smile small. “Hey,” I countered and sat on one of the glass chairs. The cold from the glass travelled through my body all the way to my toes and I shivered. 

 

 

 

Jamie whipped and stirred for a few minutes before presenting me with a full English breakfast and some bacon on the side. Even though I hadn’t eaten anything since I woke up, just looking at the eggs gave me gag reflex. But as the smell intensified, I felt the bile at the back of my throat. 

 

 

 

The bathroom was too far, and there was no way I wanted to throw up on the floor. I liked both Jamie and me more than that. Without further ado, I ran for the kitchen sink and spilled my guts. 

 

 

 

“Christ, Claire.” Jamie yelped, the sound high-pitched, mocking the sound of tires screeching across the pavement. 

 

 

 

I was done quicker than before, and the pressure dropped instantly. “I think…” I said with teensy bit of annoyance, “I think those eggs are a no.” 

 

 

 

“Jesus, Sassenach. I’m sorry, I didna ken. Ifrinn.” And I felt instantly bad. Here I was complaining about breakfast when Jamie just tried to turn this day around. I gurgled some water, spit and took a mint from a jar on a shelf above. 

 

 

 

I turned around and enveloped him in a hug. “This sucks.” I said stupidly. I found out I was pregnant just couple of hours ago, and I already hated the morning sickness. Morning my bloody arse. It was lunch time. 

 

 

 

Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, couldn’t a woman take a break?

 

 

 

Jamie’s hold tightened around my shoulders. “Claire, I think we need to talk.” 

 

 

 

I physically felt all the blood leave my brain with those words. In all this craziness that was this morning, I hadn’t even stopped to think about how Jamie might feel. How could I be this selfish? We never talked about children. Aside the obvious reason that we were together for only couple of months, we had Willie. I didn’t even want to think about how complicated this all could get.

 

 

 

What if he didn’t want children? God, if I continued like this, all the blood would evaporate from me. 

 

 

 

“Okay,” I whispered in the hollow of his neck. I was so scared of what he might say, I actually preferred the morning sickness to this feeling. 

 

 

 

He sat on a chair and brought me to stand in between his legs. “I dinna even ken where to start. I… Claire.” He looked up meeting my gaze, took a deep breath and tried again. “I am so angry at Frank and no words will ever be enough. But, I called Ned while ye were sleepin’ and he’ll get the small portion of what he deserves delivered to him.” 

 

 

 

His gaze slid down my body and stopped at the level with my stomach. He opened my robe and the goosebumps rose all over my body in a greeting to the imposter that was cool air. One of his hands left my hip and his warm palm was splayed over my navel. 

 

 

 

If he didn’t want our baby, I… fuck. The damn tears pooled my eyes again. Bloody hell. 

 

 

 

“Claire, I want ye to ken that I will respect whatever decision ye make. And I ken that the timing isna maybe the best, but I want ye to ken that I feel so happy for this miracle. ’Tis our bairn, mo ghraidh. ’Tis a gift from God himself and maybe an apology for what we’ve been through these past months.” 

 

 

 

My tears were falling freely now and it was really hard to breathe. “Jamie, did you think I don’t want to keep our baby?” I carefully whispered the words. My heart was pounding so hard that my chest hurt. I rubbed my clenched fist up and down but the ache wouldn’t go away. 

 

 

 

“Wait, I… ifrinn. Claire, I thought… Christ!” He rose on his feet and pulled at his damp hair. “Ye are so sad and ye said how “it sucks” -” he air quoted - “and I didna ken what to think. I just…” 

 

 

 

I finally managed to convince my hands to move and I pushed him back on the chair, straddling him. I took his head in my hands and began kissing every inch of that beautiful face I loved so much. “I’m not as sad as I am frustrated with the stupid thing Frank tried this morning. He ruined what was supposed to be our day, and I am really frustrated that I found out I was pregnant and I’m not even able to be so bloody happy about it because of the fact that I was almost bloody raped.” Jamie winced at my words, but there was no beating around the bush. 

 

 

 

“Claire, I wouldna ever let that happen.” He said it even though I could see it in his eyes that he thought about the what ifs as well. 

 

 

 

“Not the bloody point, Jamie.” I kissed the corner of his mouth, nibbling at his lower lip. “I’m happy, Jamie. I am over the fucking moon, but I’m so scared that I will fuck it up.” I confessed, while kissing down his neck. His woodsy scent and the smell of soap overwhelmed my senses. I loved how good he smelled. 

 

 

 

“What do I know about motherhood? How am I going to be a mother if I barely remember my own mother. Sure, I know the basics, I am a doctor after all. But, I’m so inexperienced with children.” I bit at his neck, keeping my frustration in check. But then I felt the warmth of his palms on my ears before he tugged my head back so he could look at me. 

 

 

 

“How canna ye see, Sassenach? When ye’re wi’ Willie ye are yer most natural self. Ye’re great wi’ him and he loves ye so much already. Ye will be a wonderful mother, Claire. What ye dinna ken, ye’ll learn. We’ll learn, together.”  He placed a soft kiss on my lips, swallowing my tears in process. 

 

 

 

“You promise?” I asked, feeling my frustration wearing off along with the fear. 

 

 

 

He smiled sweetly and nipped at my nose, “I promise, mo chridhe.” 

 

 

 

I hugged him so hard I could almost hear the bones cracking but I didn’t care. He picked me up and turned us around and that was when I saw it.

 

 

 

Piles of boxes scattered around the living room. Oh my God.

 

 

“Jamie?” 

 

 

 

“Aye?” 

 

 

 

Oh my God. “Did you go back to my apartment and brought all my boxes here?” My voice was quivering but I couldn’t help it. 

 

 

 

“Oh,” he breathed shyly. “Aye, weel. I didna think ye would want to go back there any time soon and I did ask ye to live wi’ me, no? So, I just called up Rupert and Angus and we brought those here while ye slept.” 

 

 

 

I was speechless. This man was too much . He was too sweet, too loving and I didn’t know what I did to deserve him. “I love you so fucking much, Jamie.” I practically screamed at him before kissing the life out of him. I pulled back, leaving us breathless. 

 

 

 

“You didn’t tell them anything, right?” I just had to check what Rupert knew and whether I should expect to read in the papers that a crazy red-headed lady killed an Englishman in Scotland. 

 

 

 

“Nah, I told them ye didna feel weel, that’s all.” 

 

 

 

“God, I love you.” He laughed and pinched my arse. “Ouch,” I yelped but the desire blackened my irises. 

 

 

 

***

 

“Today was one crazy day.” I murmured while blindly stroking up Jamie’s chest. I loved how my soft hands felt on his firm, muscled chest. And the perfect amount of copper hair made him look bloody dashing. 

 

 

 

My soldier.

 

 

 

“Aye, that it was. But something good came out of it, no?” 

 

 

 

“Yes, something perfect.” I said dreamily. We were laying in our bed. We never made love so tenderly then now, and it was perfect. It was everything we couldn't say in words and more.

 

 

 

We talked out the Frank situation, and agreed not to share that with anyone if it wasn’t of utmost importance that we did. It just felt too personal and something that we wanted to forget. 

 

 

 

“D’ye think it’s a lad or a lassie?” 

 

 

 

“Oh, it’s a girl for sure.” I didn’t know where all this confidence came from. Motherly instinct, I supposed.

 

 

 

“I believe ye’re right, Sassenach. Our wee lassie. I canna wait to meet ye,” he blew a raspberry near my navel and I couldn’t help but laugh. 

 

 

 

Jamie talked to the baby some more, even though it was way too early for that. But when I saw the pure look of joy in his eyes and heard the sheer happiness in his voice, I didn’t have the heart to tell him. 

 

 

 

“When do ye reckon we should tell Willie?” Jamie asked, propping himself on one elbow, his other hand busy combing through my hair. 

 

 

 

“Umm, maybe we should see what he thinks about the topic first and than decide if he’s ready. Also, don’t tell Rupert before I tell Geillis or she’ll skin me alive.” 

 

 

 

Jamie chuckled and when he was relaxed like now, that was my favourite Jamie. He just radiated this powerful energy that overtook all my senses. 

 

 

 

“We’re going to be fine, right?” I asked, needing to hear his reassurance once more. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe we could get through whatever was thrown at us. But we could deal with so much before going mental. 

 

 

 

“Fine and dandy, my Sassenach.” He kissed my cheek and at this moment I felt so loved and alive. 

 

 

 

I strongly believed that everything happened for a reason, and if all that mess had to happen so that I could lay here with Jamie, I didn’t mind. At the end of the day, it was bloody worth it. 

 

 

 

We were going to be great.

Chapter Text

Yes… like that…”

 

“Am I squeezin’ ye?”

 

“No! Harder!”

 

“Claire…”

 

“Go harder, you have to go harder.”

 

“I dinna think  -”

 

“Harder!” 

 

“Claire, I, um… it’s stuck.” The last word barely classified as a whisper, but I heard it fine. And I certainly didn’t like what I heard. 

“It isn't bloody stuck, you just have to pull harder!” I all but yelled, built-up annoyance spilling from me like water from a broken dam. 

 

“Darling, I know you’re frustrated, but yellin’ at me willna make the zipper magically go past yer hips.” Geillis, my soon to be ex-made of honour, was trying and failing to zip me up in my wedding dress. My beautiful, white as a pearl, EXTRA-SMALL wedding dress.

 

“You’re fired, go away.” I meant to say it almost angrily, but I ended up sobbing it out. 

 

I took a step backward and collapsed on the bed. I didn’t even bounce up once, that was how much fat I had gotten. 

 

“Claire-bear, dinna cry. We can make somethin’ work.” Geillis offered, sitting on the edge of the bed. 

 

“The wedding is tomorrow and I’m so fucking fat I’ll have to wear a bathrobe down the aisle.” 

 

“Hey,” she took my hands off my face, and brushed some stray curls from my forehead. “Ye have to stop callin’ yerself fat. Ye ken how much Jamie hates it. Plus, ye are not fat, ye are pregnant.” 

 

“I’m pregnant with twins, Geillis. TWINS! I bloody have two babies, meaning that I’m double-pregnant.” Hiccup. “I’m-I,-” hiccup, “I’m huuuge.” Hiccup. 

 

“Damn, yer hard to talk to right now. I should go get Jamie.” She moved as to leave the room, but I had to stop her. 

 

“NO! Are you crazy? It’s bad luck for him to see me in a wedding dress.” My friend just smiled at me, but that horrible, pity-filled smile that said ‘that’s nice, but who are you kidding?' 

 

“Darling, not to kill the mood completely, but no magician in this world can make ye fit into that dress. ’Tis too small.” She winced, as if that would make me stop crying my bloody soul out. 

 

“The dress isn’t small. It was fine when I bought it… I’m just too big now.” The tears threatened yet again, but I decided to pull my brave front. Also, if I continued to cry, there wouldn’t be any tears left for the birth. 

 

“Do ye want me to call Jamie?” My dear friend asked, in a most somber-like voice. I of course knew it was the fakest bloody thing a person can hear. I loved how whenever hormones took over, she threw me at Jamie, saying “I dinna hit pregnant women, I dinna hit pregnant women, I dinna…”

 

“Yes, please.” My anxiety decreased just on the thought that I would be marrying the love of my life very bloody soon. 

 

Waiting for my future husband - God, it felt out-of-this-world to be able to call him my husband, mine -  to arrive got me to reminisce of how we ended up here after all this time. 

 

Jamie and I had been friends for around two years before the sparks around us caught fire and we weren’t able to extinguish it - therefore we embraced it. It wasn’t easy, and I doubted myself on more than one occasion.

 

Life got hard before it got better, at least in our case. Our mutual love, compassion and need for each other was what got us through those hard times and led us to the magical moments that we would cherish for the rest of our lives… and then some. 

 

William was now not only biologically, but also completely by law Jamie’s son. It took longer than necessary for our lives to stabilise, however, if I was asked a few years if I could have the same amount of love for a child of my own blood and one of another’s, I would’ve probably had said no. 

 

It’s funny how everything I knew of this world changed when I was surrounded by people who made me a better person. I loved and would always love William with all that I was. I loved him because he was intelligent, too wise for his age, of great fashion taste and incredible sense of humour. 

 

I didn’t love him for his father, although it did help that his Da had all those characteristics and many more that they shared together. I could still feel Willie’s tears soaked up in my shirt, when he hugged me after a nasty nightmare and called me mama for the first time. I loved him for himself only, no matter who gave birth to him or who fathered him. He was the son of my heart. 

 

Then, just after Jamie asked me to move in with him, I was taken away from my freedom and stripped of any willingness by an ex. Frank was arrested for attempted rape, but after further trials and him accepting the plea deal, let it just be said that he wouldn’t be rotting in prison as long as I would’ve preferred - which was close to infinity. 

 

From there, things were only progressing for better. After six months of visits, Willie was done with assigned therapy and a few nights later, Jamie proposed to me while we took Willie out to a park to play with friends. It was unique, perfect and everything that I could’ve ever asked for. 

 

Two months later, I was in a starring contest with two, slightly faded pink lines. Who knew that for me, each line represented a child I was carrying. Not me. 

 

So here I was now, one day before my wedding, more than eight months later, waiting for my baby daddy to take the frustration away. 

 

I was deep in my thoughts, which was probably why I didn’t hear the creeks of the door opening and closing, but I felt the bed sinking from under me, and I definitely felt two large palms grabbing their favourite - my arse.

 

“Geillis said ye needed some fondelin’, so here I am, Sassenach.” I could feel his smile on my cheek before travelling south and biting my neck. “I’m yer servant, madam.”

 

“Jamie, stop.” I said through laughter. “That tickles, stoooop.” 

 

But he didn’t stop.

 

So I tried to turn around, but cried out in frustration when I couldn’t even bloody turn. I was like some unfortunate turtle who was stuck on my arse with my limbs just dangling uselessly from my body. 

 

Jamie propped himself on an elbow and looked down at me. “Claire, what’s wrong?” I could hear as well as see the fear on his face. 

 

“Tell me I’m beautiful.” Without hesitation he obliged. 

 

“Ye are the most beautiful woman in the universe, mo ghraidh.” He smiled sweetly at me, and I was more than pleased with his answer. 

 

“Tell me I’m sexy, not fat and will not go commando down the aisle.” The latter seemed to confuse him a bit, but he still fulfilled my request. 

 

“Ye are verra, verra sexy, Sassenach. No fat, but pregnant wi’ my bairns, and I dinna think I’ll mind much if ye chose to bless me wi’ yer endless, pearly skin.” He bent down and kissed my swollen stomach. “But, why again d’ye want to go commando? Ye look verra braw in this dress. ”

 

“Firstly, I don’t want to, Jamie. Secondly, don’t get used to the dress, it doesn’t fit me anymore.” I gritted through my teeth, more annoyed than I should be. 

 

“But didna ye buy the dress less than a moth ago?” His innocent question set my blood on fire. 

 

“Jamie, you’re trying my patience!” I was still trying to get up to no avail, when I heard his laughter erupt from his throat. 

 

“Claire, ye are the cutest woman alive. I dinna care if ye walk down the aisle in sweats, a hoodie and flip-flops.” 

 

His finger brought my chin up, and our eyes locked.  

 

“So long as ye walk up to me, all is good wi' the world.”

 

***

 

I married James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser in the backyard of his childhood home. It was a private and rather small affair, only family and a few close friends in attendance. 

 

Jenny, Geillis and I came up with a simple white and red venue, vintage wooden chairs decorated with red strings braided all around, leading up to an all white aisle with a pallet of green hills and meadows of Highland Scotland behind us. 

 

Scotland’s present for us was no rain and all sunshine on a beautiful spring morning. I never gave it a second thought whether we should’ve gotten married somewhere else. Lallybroch was the perfect place from the beginning. This way, Jamie’s parents were right there with us, joined by my parents who watched from above along side Ellen and Brian. 

 

It felt rather unfair that neither of us was able to share our love and happiness with the people who made us and turned us into individuals we were today. But that morning, when I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my bare face, I smiled. I was happy, about to settle in a brand new life with my soulmate, my other half, and my best friend. Those warm droplets were thanks for my parents that I didn’t remember a lot, as well as for Lamb whom I would appreciate and cherish for as long as I was able to take a next breath. 

 

Ian walked me down the aisle, and Jamie and I exchanged our vows and then the vows of his parents, grandparents and so on. It was a blood vow and it was a beautiful part of the ceremony. ‘Blood of my blood,’ we cited to each other. ‘Bone of my bone. I give you my body, that we two may be one. I give you my spirit, till our life shall be done.’ We sealed the oath with a kiss and were pronounced as husband and wife. 

 

We had our first dance, which was awkward a bit, due to my stomach getting in the way, but we managed. 

 

After dinner, I had retreated to now Jamie’s and mine Laird’s room for the restroom, when a pale, rose vase caught my eye from its place by the window, overlooking the endless greens of Scotland. Something warmed up in my chest at the sight. 

 

I was walking down a street on a rainy day around eight months ago, when I bumped into a lady exiting an unfamiliar store. 

 

‘Ah, pardon me. I should really watch where I’m going, especially with this enormous umbrella shielding half Scotland from my view.’ I gushed, feeling the flush colour my cheeks. It happened every bloody time. I just had to bump into people. I swore, I was cursed to embarrass myself at least once a day. 

 

’Tis fine, lass. Ye canna look where yer goin’ when ye have that look in yer eyes.’ The elderly woman smiled, and I blushed even more if that was possible. 

 

‘Well, what do you mean? What look?’ I asked, curious as ever to hear what a perfect stranger could possible see in my eyes. 

 

‘Correct me if I’m wrong, aye, but I ken love when I see it. And ’tis the only thing that’s pooling in those eyes of yers. A special lad, I reckon?’ The lady smiled, but whether it was in victory or to my plain bewilderment, I would never know. 

 

I managed to pick my jaw from the pavement and plastered an awkward smile that hadn’t quite reached my eyes that were apparently a book written by my heart. I bowed my head and caught a sight of the lady’s shoes. They were purple with yellow and green polka dots. That broadened my previously guarded smile. ’Maybe you’re correct.’ I said simply, but when I finally looked up, the strange lady was already gone. 

 

She was no where to be seen, and as I searched for her, I caught the sight of the storefront on my right. It was a vintage shop. There was a rather plain vase, white with pale roses starting from the bottom and than rising to the brim of the vase. 

 

Before I knew it, I was inside said shop, asking to look at the vase more closely. The shop owner told me its brief history - found in the second world war, there was once a handle on the left side, but it was missing now, and the lady that just exited the shop had donated it mere moments ago, with only one request: ‘Put it in the window if ye dinna mind. ’Tis fur someone special to see.’ 

 

I couldn’t explain what attracted me to the vase, but somewhere deep down I connected with it and knew that I was meant to own it. I glanced inside the vase, but wasn’t surprised to be met with endless blackness. 

 

I ended up purchasing the intriguing piece of ceramics, and going on with my day. Something about it called to me, whether it was the woman or not, the outcome was already decided for me. 

 

Now I looked at the familiar rose covered vase and felt happiness fill me from head to toe. The vase was holding my bridal flowers picked by a very special lad indeed. 

 

As I made a move towards the vase, I felt warm liquid soak the inside of my dress, splashing loudly on the floor. 

 

“JESUS H. ROOSEVELT CHRIST. JAMIEE!”

 

to be continued…