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In My Daughter's Eyes

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It was June third, the day after their eleven month anniversary. Claire couldn’t believe it; it was truly almost an entire year since that fateful Saturday at the stables. A year since their hearts and bodies had spoken what their voices dared not say.

He took her down port again, to a restaurant even more extravagant than the one they’d gone to the last time they were there. It was a glorious Saturday night, and Claire was blissfully happy.

Though something seemed off with Jamie.

His hand had done that tapping that he did when he was anxious the entire drive over, and it was his left, always his left, so she could not reach out and take it to soothe him.

“Why, you’re as nervous as you were on our first date,” she’d teased.

“Aye, well.” He’d forced a chuckle, winking at her. “It’s no’ every day ye celebrate nearly a year wi’ the woman ye love.”

She’d laughed, too, not really considering what an odd thing that was to say.

She also hadn’t considered how strange it was to go so all-out when it wasn’t actually a full year yet. She could truly only imagine how extravagant those plans would be.

And anyway…what was there to be nervous about? There wasn’t a single thing they hadn’t shared, a single thing they didn’t know about each other now. Holding his hand as they left the parking meter, strolling down the sidewalk to their reservation, his palm was as sweaty as it had been the night they’d first slept together.

[[MORE]]

Had he never eaten at this restaurant? Was he worried she wouldn’t like it?

Watching his hand jiggle at his side at a constant loop at the table, Claire put her menu down.

“Jamie. You’re shaking the whole table.”

“Christ, I’m sorry.” He stiffened, reigning himself in. “I didn’t even notice I was doing it.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she said gently. “I’m serious. What’s going on with you? You’re never so out of it when we go out.”

“Nothing’s going on,” he said, and she almost believed him. “I’m alright.”

“You’re about to cause an earthquake with that nervous tick of yours and you expect me to believe you’re alright?”

His lips quirked up in a sheepish grin, and for just a second she caught a glimpse of Jamie again, not the anxious mess she was at dinner with.

“Is something happening with your family? And you don’t want to ruin the evening by bringing it up now? Because I don’t give a damn about the evening. We can leave right now—”

No.”

Claire jumped a little, wincing at how tightly he squeezed her hand.

“Sorry,” he stammered.  “I’m mucking this all up.”

“Mucking what up?”

He sighed. “Nothing is wrong wi’ my family. Nothing at all is wrong. Everything is…perfect. My life hasna been this right since I was a bairn.”

Claire allowed a tiny smile, her eyes glimmering. “Okay,” she said softly, urging him to continue.

“That’s what has me feeling this way, I suppose. You are perfect. Our life is perfect. I suppose this big anniversary is just…I dinna ken. I think I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

“Jamie…” Claire shook her head. “There is no other shoe. I’m not going anywhere. Faith is not going anywhere. You’re stuck with us, darling.”

He sighed in relief, and Claire could not comprehend that he would ever think otherwise to the point where he would feel such relief.

“Even when I’m shaking tables and sweating through shirts?”

She giggled. “Yes. Even then.”

He kissed her hand. “Good.”

The rest of the dinner went off without a hitch, though there was still something underlying buzzing through Jamie. She couldn’t wait to get him alone and reassure him the only way she knew how. If he kept this up, she might not be able to wait until they got home. She’d have to find a long, empty dock and drag him to the edge and kiss him senseless anywhere he wanted. She couldn’t stand to see him like this, and she wouldn’t rest until she could see that he was absolutely sure that she was his and his alone.

Forever.

They went to their usual ice cream place, and as they swapped cups and tasted each other’s, Jamie seemed to relax a little bit more, laughing, savoring the flavor like a little boy. That was one of the things she loved most about him. He took nothing for granted, not even the difference between his moose tracks ice cream and Claire’s mint chocolate chip, not even the pigeons and seagulls that watched them out of the corner of their eye the closer they got to the beach.

“I’ll unleash all my unholy power if they so much as peck this ice cream,” Claire said, eyeing a particularly nasty looking little bastard.

“Dinna fash, my lass,” Jamie said gallantly, raising his spoon like Excalibur. “No harm shall befall ye, or yer precious frozen treat. No’ so long as I’m wi’ ye.”

“My hero.” She batted her lashes at him, then craned her neck and puckered her lips, and he obliged her, kissing her soundly.

The farther along the beach they wandered, the less and less people they encountered, and Claire began scouting locations where they could tuck themselves away for even a few moments of privacy. She certainly couldn’t fully have him here, but a few sloppy kisses and heavy touches would do the trick. Her eyes flicked to a dock with a boat on the end, no people to be found on it. She gave him a mischievous look and began tugging him toward it.

“I ken that look well enough,” Jamie said, matching her mischief. “And I’ll no’ be giving in to ye.”

She stuck out her lip in her most convincing pout. “Why ever not?”

“I dinna trust ye no’ to get us arrested for public indecency. No’ with that gleam in yer eye.”

“I’ll be good! I promise.” She stopped tugging so she could press herself flush against him, arching her back just enough that her breasts were the first thing that came in contact with him. “Come on, love…I promise I’ll behave.”

She fully expected him to grab her hips, press his hardness into her with a growl, and accept defeat.

But instead, he just grinned. Not even a smirk, a full-faced grin.

“If ye can catch me, ye can have yer way wi’ me.”

“What—?”

And then before she could blink, Jamie was running, sprinting away from her, kicking up sand in his wake.

“You bastard!”

She hiked up her skirts and chased after him as fast as her bare feet could carry her in the sand. She lost track of how long she spent going after him, but he was not relenting, not letting her catch up. They were both laughing their heads off, whooping, Claire calling after him until her voice was hoarse. He finally stopped, appearing to not be exhausted in the slightest, and she slowed herself to a jog, chest heaving and burning.

“You absolute maniac,” she panted. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

She was laughing as she said it, and he laughed with her, reaching out his hand and taking it when she caught up. He kissed her hand.

“My legs feel like jell-o. You’d better be planning on carrying me back.”

“Aye, of course,” he said automatically. “But I want to show ye something first.”

She cocked a brow skeptically.

“Come on.”

He tugged on her hand, and out of sheer exhaustion, she allowed him to lead the way. They were walking right to a dock, and before Claire could exasperatedly complain that she’d been trying to do the same thing before he started that marathon, she realized.

There were candles lining every step of the boardwalk, a string of lights wrapped around each wooden post along the way. Across the top was a zigzag of more lights, held in place by thin metal poles attached to the wooden posts. She hadn’t seen it, even as she was running right toward it. She’d had her eyes locked on Jamie’s bright red hair all the while, desperate to catch up to him.

“What…what is all this…?” She was still out of breath, and on top of it her breath was gone for an entirely different reason.

He didn’t say anything, just kept his hand laced with hers and continued walking her down to the end of the pier.

“This is beautiful…is this always here…? I don’t understand…”

A familiar humming noise took her out of her dumbstruck admiration of the twinkling beauty, and she whipped her head around. “Jamie…what…?” Squinting, Claire could make out two figures at the opposite end of the pier, and a bouncing little thing in front of them.

Before she could process what was happening, she felt him take her other hand. She turned her head to question him, but was stunned into silence by the look on his face.

He was radiant.

The string of lights painted glowing streaks in his hair and twinkled in his eyes. And God, his eyes…they were bigger than she’d ever seen; she may very well have drowned in them if he didn’t start speaking.

“Claire, I…” His voice broke, and he cleared his throat. The hand that was grasping hers was trembling.

“Jamie…?”

“You are…the most remarkable woman I’ve ever met,” he continued, holding her gaze and squeezing her hand tighter. “The first time I saw ye I was…blown away by how big yer heart was. The way ye looked at Faith, the way she smiled at ye…I knew. I knew ye were special. And I didna realize at the time, but ye’d already crawled into this hole in my heart that was made for you. Both of you.”

Claire’s eyes welled up with tears, and it very suddenly hit her exactly what was happening.

“I know the pain ye’ve seen, mo ghraidh, I know the fear and doubt that plagues ye. But I…” He cleared his throat again, and then lowered himself to the ground, on one knee.

A single tear escaped Claire’s eye, trickling down as her breath hitched in her throat.

“I will never, never stop trying to be worthy of ye, Claire. I swear to ye on my life that I will be a good husband, and…a good father. You deserve to be loved beyond measure. And I…I do, mo sorcha. I love you wi’ every ounce of my being.”

Claire was fully sobbing now, and his thumb rubbed over her knuckles as his other hand reached into his pocket.

“So will you, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, make me the luckiest man in the world?” He opened the box, revealing the beautiful sparkling ring within. “Will ye marry me, Sassenach?”

Claire could not speak. She nodded vigorously, more ridiculous sobs sputtering from her. Jamie’s strained, concentrated face erupted into the most glorious smile she had ever seen. He leapt to his feet and Claire threw her arms around his neck, and he encircled her waist, lifting her off the ground and spinning her. He exclaimed loudly in Gaelic, laughing joyously, and Claire sputtered her own laughter in between sobs.

He finally put her down, and Claire seized his face in her hands and pressed her lips to his, and he kissed her back passionately. When they pulled apart, Jamie was holding the ring, a small but beautiful rock set within it, and she allowed him to slip it on.

“Oh, love…” she croaked out, and he brought her hand to his lips and fervently kissed the ring.

Something suddenly collided with Claire’s legs, and she cried out a bit in shock. Jamie laughed again as Claire turned around and looked down to see Faith clinging to her legs. Looking up, she could now see that the figures in the distance were Gail and Joe.

“You…” She turned back to Jamie. “You had this all planned, didn’t you?”

Jamie just beamed at her, his eyes glistening with tears. Claire let out a joyous laugh and sank to her knees in front of Faith.

“Hello, lovie….” She wrapped her arms around her and squeezed tight, rocking her gently. “Oh, look at you…” Claire pulled back so she could see Faith, dressed in a beautiful little dress, blue and purple and frilly, white stockings and her perfect little white shoes. When she’d left her with Leina, she was still in her pajamas from the night before, and the plan had seemingly been to leave it that way.

“Look at us, hm?” Claire said, sniffling as she stroked Faith’s hair. “All dressed up? Mummy is going to be married, darling.” Claire’s voice broke, and she laughed through more tears. “See, Faith?” She held up her hand, and Faith immediately began fiddling with the rock. “This means I’m going to be a bride, baby.”

God…I can’t believe it.

A hand suddenly touched her shoulder, and she looked behind her to see that Jamie had crouched down beside her.

“I’ve, ehm, got something for her, too,” he said, his nervousness returning.

Claire’s heart felt fit to burst as her eyes landed on the pink velvet box in his hand.

“With yer permission, Claire…” Jamie took a deep, stuttering breath. “I’d like to ask yer daughter to let me be her father.”

Claire’s chin quivered again, her eyes immediately welling up. She nodded, swallowing thickly, and then fervently kissed Jamie’s cheek before standing up to allow him to proceed.

——

Jamie took a steadying breath before straightening himself out, getting up on his knee the way he’d just done before Claire.

“Hello, wean,” he said. She was fiddling with her skirt and twirling it back and forth, staring intently at its sparkles.

“Faith, a leannan, can ye look at my eyes?” He gently poked her chin with his finger, and she looked up, only to become enraptured by the string of lights above her head.

“D’ye like the lights, Faith?” Jamie flicked her chin with his middle finger, signing light. She giggled and snatched his hand in both of hers. “Ah, ye got me,” he teased, bringing her hands to his lips and kissing them. “I like the lights too, ye ken. Reminds me of our special day in our fairy den. D’ye remember?” She hummed a bit, freeing one of her hands from his grip to flap it, saying fairy

“Aye, that’s right. Very good, Faith.” He took her hand again in hopes of keeping her attention. “I had lots of fun that day, Faith. In fact, I have lots of fun whenever I’m with ye. Because ye’re a very special lass. D’ye ken that?”

She started fiddling with the wee hairs on his hands, giggling to herself.

“I asked yer Mummy a very important question, Faith. I asked her if she wanted to be my wife. And I gave her a special present to celebrate, a very pretty ring. D’ye like the ring?” She nodded absently, still twirling the little hairs. “Well, I’m glad to hear it. Because I’ve got a special present fer you, too.”

That got her attention. She whipped her head up and looked at him, humming and then opening her mouth with an excited groan. Jamie chuckled softly and held the box up to her. She stroked the velvet box with her hands before pressing her cheek into it, likely enjoying its softness.

“Lovely box, is it no’?” he teased, and then gently lifted her chin to pick her head up off the box. “Let’s look inside, aye?”

Before Faith could snatch the box again or get upset, he popped it open.

“See what I’ve got for ye? Look.” He let Faith take it in her hands. “It’s a crown, see? And look what it says. F-A-I-T-H.” He signed each letter to her as he said it. “Faith. That’s yer name, aye?” She hummed, biting her lip with her smile. “Princess Faith, it says.

“D’ye ken that I love ye, Faith?” His voice got tight, his eyes welling up. “I think I fell in love wi’ you just as quickly as I did yer mam.” He tucked a curl behind her ear. He kept his hand there, cupping her cheek, as he signed I love you with his free hand. “See, a leannan? I love you.”

Faith gave a high pitched, squealing giggle, bouncing as she returned the sign. Jamie uttered a breathy laugh, a single tear trickling down his cheek. He heard a tiny sob from above him, and wasn’t surprised to feel Claire’s hand grasp his shoulder.

“Good girl, Faith,” Jamie whispered, rubbing a circle on her cheek with his thumb. “It makes me verra happy that ye love me, too.” He signed happy, smiling widely. “Are ye happy, Faith?” She hummed, jiggling her hands and nodding. “Good, good lass.” He sniffled, blinking away more tears, reaching to his own shoulder to cover Claire’s hand in his.

“I promise to always love ye, and protect ye, and do right by ye, just as I will yer mam.” He gave Claire’s hand a squeeze. “Will ye be my wee princess, Faith?” He poked a finger at the necklace, his fingertip cooling at the touch of the metal. “Will ye let me be yer Da?” He spread his fingers, poking his thumb to his forehead.

Faith hummed and jiggled a bit, but Jamie held the sign patiently. After a few seconds, she giggled, and then copied him exactly, thumb on forehead. Fingers splayed.

Da.

Jamie laughed out loud, fit to burst with joy. He released Claire’s hand to wrap his arms around his wee girl, and Joe and Gail broke into applause. He felt Claire fall to her knees beside him, and his heart cracked open to hear her openly weeping. He folded her into his embrace as well, and she pressed her face into the crook of his neck, fisting his jacket in one hand, caressing Faith’s curls in the other.

“Oh, Jamie…” she blubbered against his skin. “I love you…”

“I love you, too, mo chridhe. Wi’ my whole heart.”

When the three of them finally released each other from their embrace, Jamie freed the necklace from the box and fastened it around Faith’s neck. She rubbed it between her fingers, pulled it up and rubbed it on her cheek, and jiggled it in her hands.

“It’s beautiful, Jamie,” Claire breathed against his neck.

“D’ye think she likes it?”

“She does.”

“D’ye think she…understands?”

They looked at Faith for a moment, grinning from ear to ear as she fiddled with her necklace.

“I think she does.” Claire pressed a kiss into the crook of his neck. “If nothing else, she knows that you love her, Jamie.” Claire met his eye and held up the sign, trembling lips curling into a smile. He repeated the sign, touching their fingers together as he’d often seen mother and daughter do, and their foreheads rested together. “And she loves you, too. She doesn’t say what she doesn’t mean.”

A tear slipped from Jamie’s eye and trickled down Claire’s nose, and they kissed one another sweetly, I love you’s still pressed together.

Gail and Joe suddenly got closer, calling Faith over to them. Jamie broke into a wide grin, watching from the corner of his eye; the last part of the plan was nearly complete.

“Go on, baby,” Gail said. “Go put them on, just like we practiced.”

Faith scampered back to them, bounding and skipping and squealing with glee. Jamie exchanged a look with Claire, who seemed utterly bewildered, and who somehow looked completely and utterly beautiful, even red and swollen from tears of joy.

Jamie ducked his head and allowed Faith to clumsily place the hat atop his head, and then watched as she plopped the one with the bow on Claire. Faith squealed again and jumped up and down, clapping her hands in triumph and then flapping relentlessly.

“What on Earth…?” Claire turned to look at Jamie, and then burst into laughter.

Faith had put Mickey Mouse ears on them both — well, Minnie Mouse for Claire if you accounted for the red bow.

“D’ye no’ find me rather dashing?” he teased, and Claire laughed all the harder. “Here. Look.”

Jamie removed the hat, and Claire did the same, then Jamie held them side by side. Claire exhaled with a breathy laugh, leaning her cheek into Jamie’s shoulder as she read the words that Jamie had had embroidered onto the backs, his and hers respectively:

I asked

I said yes!