This cannot be it.
As their hands moved closer together to touch the stone, Claire’s heart was feeling a million emotions but her mind was clear with just one thing - Jamie.
This cannot be it.
In the three years they’ve been together, neither of them could’ve known just how much they’d mean to each other, depend on each other, care for each other, let alone, love each other - so deeply and passionately that they were willing to change history if it came to that.
This cannot be it.
“Goodbye, Claire” she felt his breath and lips in her temple as he pulled her closer to him by the waist, desperately trying to keep themselves together for as long as they could and engrain the memory of their bodies molded as one. And in the middle, was the miracle they prayed and hoped for who will never know his father and grow up with a family he deserved.
This cannot be it.
Her fingers can almost feel the roughness of the stone surface and the journey that will follow after. She wanted to turn her head and see his face one last time, beg him to release her from her promise and let her stay in this time. But time was running out. In the last seconds, Claire made her wish known again and again.
Me. Jamie. Our Baby. Our Family. Anywhere. Anytime. Together.
Me. Jamie. Our Baby. Our Family. Anywhere. Anytime. Together.
Me. Jamie. Our Baby. Our Family. Anywhere. Anytime. Together.
Claire expected the deafening buzz that usually came with the stones - but what was new was the blinding light that suddenly seemed to emit from it. She wondered if Jamie could see it since he couldn’t hear the buzz and she got her confirmation when she heard Jamie exclaim a “What in the devil..?!” just before everything went black.
The journey to the stones is never easy. It feels like you're being taken apart and then weaved back together. It really takes a toll to the body.
Claire stirred to someone stroking her hair. Once her mind was a little bit more awake, she took a mental stock of herself. She felt whole, alive, and for some reason, she was sitting in some armchair with her head laid down on the table.
She slowly opened her eyes, cautious just in case she got affected somehow by the last light she saw and to prepare herself to know the aftermath of this trip.
“Thank Christ!” was the first sound she heard. “Are ye alright?"
Her mind raced, she needed to respond. In another effort to finally face her reality, she lifted her, fully opened her eyes and saw the two most worried ocean eyes boring straight into hers.
Her eyes widened at the sight before her. Impossible.
“Ja - Jamie?” she softly called out, a hand unsure to touch his face.
“Aye, tis me, Claire. Do ye remember me? I was afraid you wouldn’t recognize me” he replied.
“Jamie, oh my god!” her dizziness forgotten, she quickly stood up as Jamie did too and they held each other so tightly she was sure she couldn’t breath.
She pulled away and started inspecting every part of him she could. “Are you alright? What happened?!”
“I don’t know. All I remember was I brought ye to the stones, we we’re about to touch it when a light beamed through. Next thing I knew, I woke up leaning by that shelf, wearing this clothes, and saw you passed out here.” Jamie shared.
“So you did see the light too! I haven’t experienced or seen that before so I thought it could’ve been just for me but...here you are.”
“Here I am” he said simply.
As their dizziness wore off and their mind became more rational, they needed to investigate fast on where and when they were.
Claire was wearing a white sleeveless shirtwaist dress, almost similar to the one she was wearing the first time she went through the stones, while Jamie was wearing a navy blue knitted shirt tucked in light brown fitted trousers.
They were definitely not in the 1740s anymore.
They were in an old scottish cottage, though obviously renovated and restored, with most of the items inside looking museum grade. A sign hanged up wrote “Old Leanach Cottage” and below it in smaller letters were the words “Culloden Moor” .
They were at Culloden.
Lastly, together they gravitated towards a notebook, a visitor log, and found that the year was 1948.
They were in Claire’s time.
Stunned and a little bit confused, Jamie and Claire looked at each other as the shock passed through them.
Claire and Jamie had more questions than answers and the place they currently were seemed different that what Claire was used to so both of them are pretty much out of place until they knew more about their present lives.
“Whatever this is, whatever has happened” Jamie’s firm voice broke the ice. “We’ll figure it out together.”
“Okay.” Claire replied. The unknowns were endless but with the strength of having Jamie by her side, there was nothing much to fear. “Of course” Claire nodded surely and then leaned her face to Jamie’s for a single deep kiss.
There’s always something that stirs between them whenever they kiss and they both smile at the fact that that feeling hasn’t gone away. Whatever they need it to be, it will be that. And right now, this kiss was a kiss of love, gratitude, comfort, and security.
Just as they were to pull away, they heard voices outside the cottage call for them.
“Jamie, Clare, are you guys finished?” a man’s voice asked.
Surprised by the interaction, Jamie’s first action was to protect Claire. His hands automatically reached out to his side where his sgian dubh always reside but he grasped for nothing in the air. Another reminder that they were in a different time.
“Jamie, those voices…”
“D’ye know them, Sassenach?”
Claire shook her head. Her mind was swirling - the voices we’re so familiar, she was sure she knew them - but she couldn’t put a name or a face.
“Come on, you two! Chop, chop! We still have a 3-hour ride ahead of us.” a woman’s voice followed.
“Should we just head out and see?” she asked. Jamie shrugged in agreement, took Claire’s hand, and led them out of the cottage.
Nothing could’ve prepared either of them for what was to happen next. They were both frozen in place as a couple turned around and in front of them is Henry and Julia Beauchamp.
“There you are!” Julie exclaimed. “What took you so long? We thought you’re only signing the visitor’s log book”. She noticed their confused looks, and slowly reached out a hand. “Are you guys...okay?”
Without another thought, Claire gravitated towards her parents and pulled her mother to a tight embrace and cried.
“Mama” Claire said softly.
“You haven’t called me that in a long time” Julie replied, hugging her daughter back. She pulled her daughter back when she felt a wetness in her shoulder. “Why are you crying?”
Claire didn’t reply but went to her dad and hugged him just as tight. “While I do love this,” Henry began, “I’m not sure what’s going on.” He patted her back, “Claire?”
“I’m sorry, I…” Claire started to think of an explanation while wiping her eyes and fixing herself up. “I just missed you so much”
There was so much more she wanted to say, just in case this was all a dream, but her last words summarized what was at the core of it all.
“I know, we missed you guys too. It’s been almost a month since we got together and this is a little overdue. Do you think you can make it back the car, though? I really don’t want to miss lunch.” Henry teased.
“Let’s go! I don’t want to be late. You know how strict Brian and Ellen are with the lunch schedule. Last time we missed it, there were hardly any food left.” Julia followed.
It was Jamie’s turn to feel more disbelief. “I’m sorry, what?” He didn’t know how we found his voice but, at the moment, his mind had life of its on and the words came flying out.
“What do you mean ‘what’? We’re on our way to see your parents at Lallybroch, James.”
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Claire and Jamie meet more new people!
Thank you for all the heartfelt messages for the first chapter for ATWG. It's been a while since I've written so I wasn't really expecting much readership but your messages encouraged me to think about what could've happened next. This chapter ran longer than I expected it to be but I hope you like it! As always, comments and suggestions are always welcome! :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“What do you mean ‘what’? We’re on our way to see your parents at Lallybroch, James.” Julia explained. “We’ve planned this lunch for over a month now”. With that, she and Henry turned around and headed for the parking lot.
Claire went back to Jamie’s side, grabbed his hand to give him support, get him out from his stupor, and followed her parents back.
It was a short walk and thankfully, Henry offered to take the drive up to the highlands.
Jamie tensed the first time he saw the car but there was nothing to do about it. He just has to adapt quickly and learn cues from Claire on what is good or not.
“It’s fine. Don’t freak out. It will be loud but it’s safe.” Claire quickly explained. “If ever you feel queasy or anything, just close your eyes and lean on me.”
Jamie nodded and entered the contraption. He was a little claustrophobic at first, but admittedly, he found the seat comfortable. Claire followed soon after and Claire’s parents took the front seats.
The car roared to life and Jamie immediately took Claire’s hand in his. As they moved, he squeezed her hand until he experienced enough movement to figure out what the thing was meant to do or how it operates.
Claire and Jamie tried to talk at the back seat but it was impossible without being suspicious. They made eye contact, whispered, but they couldn’t get a proper conversation out. In the end, they silently agreed that until they had the chance to talk in private, they’d just have to go with everything happening in the present.
Soon, Jamie leaned into Claire’s shoulder and drifted off to sleep. Claire soon followed after.
Julia can’t help but take a peek at their children. With hands clasped and heads leaning together, it was a truly lovely sight to behold. Henry stole a view from his rear view mirror then turned to his wife.
Regardless of their weird actions at Culloden, they knew and felt they we’re still the Claire and Jamie they know. Their togetherness was one of a kind and as long as that exists, they have nothing much to worry about.
A rough patch on the road jolted Jamie awake. The sun was higher than when they left Culloden, signaling that it was probably close to noon.
"I'm sorry! I didn't see the puddle" Henry apologetically called from the driver's seat. "We're about 10 minutes out"
He sat himself straight and peered outside. No matter the time, he'd know this familiar path, this familiar smell, and this familiar place.
He knew he was home.
Julia's words rang again in his head - "We’re on our way to see your parents at Lallybroch, James."
His parents. His Mam and Da. People he hasn't seen for years. People he longed to be with.
The closer they get to home , the more surreal everything feels again.
Along with the quiet hum of the car, Jamie allowed himself to feel the overwhelm of being in this time and unknowingly, a single tear escaped his face.
Claire's parents. His parents. What else could they expect? How is this their life? What were they doing before they became these people?
There was a lot to figure out and he was beyond the depth of his capacity as a highlander. He is afraid that he can't protect his family but Claire is here, safe and sound, and he'll make do as they go along.
A few minutes later, he finally saw the arch to Lallybroch and he felt glad that it stood as good as it has for the past 200 years.
The stone exterior wall has not changed though he'd seen a few hanging lines here and there. He'd remember to ask Claire about it later.
Turning to his wife, he nudged her to wake as the car slowed and they arrived at the estate.
Claire similarly slowly opened her eyes and adjusted to her surroundings. "So, it wasn't a dream?" the first words that came out of Claire's mouth as she looked to Jamie for confirmation.
Jamie shook her head and she, too, almost cried of disbelief.
But she didn't have time yet as Henry and Julia exited the vehicle and two other voices joined them in greeting.
“You guys are early!” a woman's voice joked.
“Nah, we just didn’t want to miss the food” Henry teased back.
"Hello and welcome back!" a man's voice greeted them.
"Are you kidding me, I love coming here! Really refreshes the mind after being in the city" Julia replied as she exchanged hugs with the people.
Jamie and Claire finally got out of the car with the most unrecognizable faces as they faced Brian and Ellen Fraser for the first time.
Impossible . There was no other word to explain all this.
Without another beat, Jamie ran to his mam and gave her the tightest of hugs.
"Oof!" the red-headed woman was caught off guard by the strength of the hug of her son. "Jamie, you're not exactly a wee lad anymore. I need'ta breathe"
Jamie let go and looked at his mother. He reached out a hand to touch her cheek and feel the realness of his mother. " Yer just as beautiful as I last saw ye"
"Thank ye, son. It's only been a week at that but I'll take it."
He then went to Brian, hugging him as well. "Da"
"Son!" he greeted Jamie as he hugged and patted him back. What he didn't see was the questioning look Brian gave Ellen and the Beauchamps, which they all just shrugged off.
When Jamie finally did let go, Brian and Ellen turned to Claire to give them a hug as well. She tried to hide her astonishment with the physical contact from two people she had never met and hugged them both back quickly before anyone noticed it.
Everyone turned to head inside the house but Claire and Jamie held back. “We’ll follow up. We just need a few minutes.”
“Lunch is served in 30 minutes. Don’t be late” Ellen reminded as the parents headed in.
Claire and Jamie walked to the back of the house to find some privacy, where they can speak freely without being overheard by their family. There’s a lot to unpack but they only have enough time to cover the basics. For now, they need to know how they are and how to get through the next couple of hours.
They found a perfect spot from the midday sun as a gazebo was present near the fence for outdoor dining.
They looked at each other, took a deep breath, and just came together in a tight hug. With Jamie being several inches taller, he lifted Claire up as he pulled her closer and soon they were openly sobbing, freeing the emotions they’ve been holding up all morning.
After a few minutes, they calmed down, he put her down and started to talk.
“I’m not used to seeing you in these clothes just yet.” Claire remarked as she wiped her tears and face clean.
“Me too. As someone who has no memory of wearing this, I feel oddly comfortable in it.” he remarked. “And ye, ye look just as beautiful as the day I first saw ye, Sassenach.”
“It’s similar to the white dress I was wearing the first day I came through the stones.” Claire replied. “And you, … you look absolutely dashing still”
A blush crept in between them and naturally, they took each other’s hand for support and then sat down to get a little bit more comfortable.
“So, why are we here?” Jamie asked.
“I made a wish” Claire shared. “And it came true”
Jamie stayed quiet, waiting for Claire to continue.
“Just as we were about to touch the stones, I closed my eyes and made a wish. I wished that we, our family, will be together, anytime and anywhere. I kept repeating it in my mind over and over because parting ways wasn’t our plan and I was just too heartbroken being torn away from you like that.” she paused, trying to recall more. “I guess they heard it because next thing I knew, I was seeing this really bright light and then I was in that cottage with you”
“And somehow, we both got pulled through in this time, in 1948” Jamie confirmed.
“We did. We’re here in my supposed time but in some alternate universe if you get what I mean, Jamie. But I still feel me - the same Claire that left 1746.” she turned to Jamie to ask. “How about you? How do you feel?”
“Same as you. I still am the same highlander ye knew, a lad of five and twenty. I’m honestly a little bit out of my depth being here. Everything is new and different but I know in my heart that I can count on you and that I’ll - we’ll - be fine and that’s all that matters. I suddenly remembered how it must’ve been for ye when ye stumbled in our time, and I appreciate ye more, Claire. Ye were so brave. I’ve only been in this time a few hours but everything I’ve seen so far points to this, indeed, being a better life for ye.” Jamie said.
“No,” Claire shook her head. “The first time you took me to the stones, I realized, - that the best life is the one I get to share with you. Doesn’t matter where we are, what we’re doing, as long as I have you beside me, that is enough.”
“It is?” Jamie teased and Claired eyed him playfully. “Aye, tis the same for me and ye know it. Now - what else do we know?”
“Well, both our parents are alive - that’s the most surprising thing so far, and they all seem to be getting along just fine. Let me tell you, when I wished for family , I didn’t expect it to be in a world where our parents are in it.
“But tis’ a happy coincidence, Sassenach, is it not? We’ve rarely talked about our parents as it was a painful time for both of us, with your parents passing when ye were five and my mam passing when I was a wee lad, my da passing and me not being there - just so much pain and loss. But now, we have a chance to get to know and be with them, Claire.”
“I know and I feel the same way. But being the age we are now, I feel like I’m acting like that same five-year old child when I’m around them until I get used to their presence.”
“I dinna think they’d mind that at all, Claire”
“I hope not cause I know I’ll be as clingy as the next person who haven’t seen their parents in 20 years”
“I get you, Sassenach. I couldn’t help myself getting close to my mam the moment I saw her.”
“I’m sure we were acting all crazy this morning but let’s try to control that better.”
“Aye. But sassenach, do we tell them who we are? Where we came from? I’m sure the Jamie and Claire they know probably isna us”
“I was thinking about that too since we arrived but -” Claire hesitated but Jamie encouraged her on. “I thought of keeping it ourselves until we get more information. I’m not sure how the stones changing our course will impact us but until something or nothing happens, let’s try to figure it out first?”
“Okay.” Jamie replied, squeezing Claire’s hand in reassurance. “Plus, to be honest, if this was all temporary, I’d rather spend it with all this rather than not having it. Speaking of figuring it out,..” it was his turn to hesitate this time.
“Out with it”
“Are ye still...with child?”
Claire’s face quickly went from calm to alarmed as she placed her hand in her stomach and face, feeling her body for signs of pregnancy. Claire closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths and finally, opened up her eyes to look at Jamie. She tried to play coy but in the end, couldn’t hide her smile. “He’s still us, Jamie”
Jamie also signed with relief with her news. “”Or she but tis’ a great news, sassenach. I brought ye to the stones as well so ye can give birth in a safer time. I ken I wasn’t there the first time but I dinna ken if ye knew but Mother Hildegard filled me in on what happened to ye with Faith.”
Claire thought of comforting him but she knew he needed the assurance. “I know. Just for that I know you already will be a great father - I’ve seen it in you since with Jenny’s children, Fergus.”
“Aye, but still, I will do everything in my power for this bairn to come to the world safe and happy, Claire.”
“Alright,” she ended that conversation patting the back of his hand. “So quick recap, we’re in 1948, our parents are alive, we’ll check on our extended family later, I’m still pregnant - what else…” Claire thinks then remembers she had a purse with her.
“Oh” she proceeds to open it and take out its items. “Go check if you have a wallet in your pockets.
“A what?” Jamie didn’t know what he was looking for but he felt something in his back pocket, pulled it out and placed it at the table along with Claire’s other things.
Her purse had the normal woman items - make up, cleaning wipes, and a wallet. “Bingo!”
She opened it quickly to scan the contents. The first thing she saw brought her the second shock of her day. “Jamie - “
“What is it?!”
Claire turned the wallet around for Jamie to see. He took his wallet from the table to check too and the same item was inside. Thank God he was sitting otherwise, he definitely would’ve fallen on his knees. The tears are back and so are in Claire’s, still not sure if what they’re seeing is real.
Just when either was about to speak, Ellen called from the back door. “Oy, you two. Lunch in 5 minutes but someone couldn’t wait to see ye”
Just as Ellen finished her sentence, a curly red-headed toddler ran towards Claire and Jamie, squealing with excitement.
Thank you for making it all the way to the end! :) Feel free to drop a comment or kudos if you liked this story!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Claire and Jamie meet Faith and more about their extended family
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It was as natural as breathing when Claire knelt and caught her daughter in a tight hug.
“Ma!” Faith chimed and it swelled Claire’s heart. She couldn’t stop the tears that feel even if she tried. Seeing her photo in the wallet and now, in the flesh in the span of 5 seconds was more than enough to break Claire down.
But it was definitely more for Jamie, who by now, has completely lost it. He was openly crying in awe and disbelief for the daughter he’s never seen or met but prayed with all regret that he could’ve. After everything that happened in Paris and even though they have settled it between them, deep inside his mind and heart, Jamie blamed himself for her loss.
Hearing Jamie sniffle and wipe his nose and face, Faith turned to him and quickly reached out her arms, requesting him to carry her. Without hesitation, he picked her up and held her close to his heart.
Pushing herself up from his shoulder, Faith turned to Jamie with a question. “Da, sad?”
“No, no, not sad. Da is verra verra happy right now.” he quickly assured his daughter with the biggest smile on his face. “We’ve just missed you so much”
Faith mirrored his smile as Jamie continued to take her in. “She has your eyes.” he remarked to Claire.
“And your everything else!” Claire jokingly scoffed back at him. She then, squinted and too, shook her head in wonder. “Jamie, I - “
“I know. I can’t believe it either.” Jamie finished the sentence. He opened his free side to her and she quickly slided in, wrapping Jamie and their daughter together in her arms as close as she could.
The next five minutes have been the most blissful time yet.
If the Beauchamps or the Frasers noticed Claire and Jamie’s puffy eyes and tear-streaked faces when they came to the dining hall, they (thankfully) didn’t mention it.
To Claire and Jamie, everything was new - but to the foursome in front of them and the baby between them, it was practically routine and regular.
Brian, Ellen, Henry, and Julia were talking about the latest in business and social events they were planning to attend. Claire and Jamie tried to keep an ear out to get some clues on what their families may be doing at this time but it was proving to be hard when there’s a two-year old, red-headed Fraser calling your attention every minute whether it was giving her food, her giving them food, wiping her clean, and listening to her stories in the past week she was with grandparents. Between the two, Jamie and Claire focused on Faith, savoring everything about her. Everything else can wait.
They were taken out of their focus when Ellen asked Claire a question. “So, Claire, darling, what was the news ye had to tell us?”
Claire swallowed the food she was chewing and looked at Jamie, a silent conversation ensuing between them. Jamie looked at her belly and maybe got her answer. It was the only thing of significance they could think of at the moment.
“Oh, our news” She put her utensils down and everyone followed suit waiting to hear what’s next. “Well, Jamie and I are very happy to share that little Miss Faith here…” she tickled Faith’s belly resulting in a short giggle. “...is going to be a big sister.”
They waited with baited breath for any reaction and hope that it was information they haven't told before. A few seconds later, all four grandparents erupted in celebration with the news, standing and looping Jamie and Claire into taps and hugs.
“How far along are you?” Julia asked.
“About two to three months. We just found ourselves.” Claire replied.
“Have ye told anyone else?” It was Ellen’s turn to ask.
“No, you guys are the first to know”
“Can we tell the rest of the family, then, give them a quick call?” Brian chimed. Jamie and Claire nodded even thought they weren’t sure the extent of it. However, Brian offered the list immediately after. “We’ll call Willie, Jenny and Rabbie. And of course, we’ll reach out to your Uncle Lamb.”
Jamie quickly clutched Claire’s hand and she did the same. Their entire family and more.
It wouldn’t be far fetched that Claire and Jamie might think that they may have died and gone to heaven because this was everything . But until that reality falls down upon them, they will take this experience and make the most of it.
“We should plan to get everybody here together and celebrate, maybe in another month’s time?”
“I agree, plan for a proper celebration. Plus, I think Lamb would also like to be out of the house once in a while.”
“It’s a date then!”
The parents made all the arrangements and Claire and Jamie were just left to happily agree.
The four grandparents continued their catch up to the library and Claire and Jamie decided to explore the estate. They brought Faith with them, not wanting to part with her just yet, even though the little girl was napping on Jamie’s shoulder.
“Uncle Lamb must be in his 80s now but from what I gathered from my mom, he’s still strong but prefers to stay at home these days.” Claire shared, pulling out a cloth and wiping a drool from Faith.
They’ve checked the family photos and deducted what they could. In this time, William Fraser was married to Mary McNab, Jenny and Ian are together and already have wee Jamie and Maggie, and Rabbie is still in uni finishing his studies.
Further reviewing the contents on both their wallets, what they’ve found so far are: Lallybroch is a whiskey distillery, Jamie and Claire are based in Glasgow, where Claire’s a nurse, and Jamie heads the Glasgow branch of the business - thankfully, jobs that are not necessarily out of their range.
As for how they met, their past, and other information to their present, nothing much on that end yet. Maybe once they head to their own home, they’ll find more answers. But for now, they believe they have enough information to process but more importantly, let go a bit to focus more on Faith.
The day passed rather quickly, with Jamie and Claire coming back to the house to cool off. They made their way to the living room, laying Faith down in one of the solo sofa chairs while they settled on the other.
Jamie pulled Claire beside him and kissed her temple in reverence. She, in turn, cuddled closer to him, crossing her legs on top of his. Soon, sleep took over both of them once again, a much deserved nap as they adjust to today’s time.
Jamie and Claire were woken up when they felt something trying to grab or climb at them.
“Oh, hi, darling. Did you have a good nap?” Claire asked Faith, she herself sitting straight and waking.
“Yes. Are we going home now?” Faith asked as she bear hugged her mother.
“Not yet. We’ll stay one more night and go tomorrow.”
It was nearly dinnertime and one of their parents might’ve opened the lamp to give the space some light. Claire turned to Jamie and found him tenderly looking at the both of them.
“I dinna have the words, Claire.” Jamie sighed and began. “I ken meeting our parents is one thing but meeting her, seeing her, feeling her, talking to her…” he reached to brush Faith’s hair. “Seeing what it is of her or me that is in her, watching ye become a mother…” Jamie shook his head. “I could talk about it all day, Sassenach. But after ye, this has been the best blessing in my life. And I promise ye, I wilna take it for granted.”
“ We won’t take it for granted, Jamie.” Claire reiterated their commitment. She, then, turned to their daughter to ask “Do you want to cuddle with Da next?”
Sure enough, the little lass pulled out of Claire’s embrace and proceeded to go to Jamie’s. He put his nose in her head and breathed her in. “Mo nighean ruadh, tha gaol agam ort”. He grabbed Claire’s hand and placed a kiss on her knuckle. “Mo nighean donn, tha gaol agam ort”
“I love you, too, Jamie.” she replied, squeezing his hand in agreement.
“Love too, Da” Faith said so simply and Claire and Jamie could just not stop the tears from flowing.
Unbeknownst to them, outside the door, Ellen accidentally overheard their unusual conversation when she was coming to get them for supper. Throughout the day, she’d observed some things are rather different but nothing to be alarmed of. However, the chat did leave her a bit confused.
Letting the thoughts pass her mind, she knocked on the door loudly and got the family for dinner.
This story has just been a delight to write. Thank you to everyone who loves and comments about this story. It absolutely warms the heart. <3
As always, comments and suggestions are always welcome. :)