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Jamie gripped Claire’s hand so tightly, he had to continuously remind himself to loosen it a little so not to hurt the poor lass. Not that she ever complained.

Claire had explained the Airport in great detail, as well as the Aeroplane and what to expect. In truth, he was a little excited. Ever since Claire had first told him about the existence of those giant, flying ships, he’d been fascinated by the idea, and had long since wished he could see one.

See one. Riding inside one was another matter entirely.

Despite Claire’s best attempts to prepare him, however, Jamie was immediately overwhelmed by the noise, lights, and colors of the Airport. 

“Oy, watch it, ye fookin’ dobber!” A man barked when Jamie accidentally bumped into him.

“Fuck off,” Claire snapped back, tugging on Jamie’s arm to lead him away, while he couldn’t help but eye her in admiration.

Everyone bustled around so quickly, seemingly to Jamie more quickly than anyone did in his own time. Even in Versailles. They ran about like they knew exactly where they were going…but how could they?! The place was a veritable maze.

“There’s our gate,” Brianna said, pointing to an area that looked blessedly less hectic than where they’d been.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Claire asked, squeezing his fingers.

“Suppose no’,” Jamie murmured.

“Boston airport is bigger,” Brianna offered unhelpfully.

“Is anyone hungry?” Roger asked, gesturing to what appeared to be a marketplace of some kind. “We still have another forty-five minutes before boarding.”

Jamie still wasn’t entirely certain why Roger was accompanying them to Boston, nor truly what his exact relationship to Claire and Brianna was, beyond being the historian that had helped them discover that he’d survived Culloden. 

That Roger was infatuated with Brianna was quite obvious, so that probably had something to do with it. But Jamie couldn’t tell what Brianna’s feelings for the historian were. He simply didn’t know her well enough to read her the way he could read her mother - but then again, Brianna hadn’t seemed to inherit her mother’s glass face.

Claire indicated that Roger’s presence was mostly for Brianna’s benefit. To be a companion she could confide in during this strange time. But to Jamie’s dismay, Brianna spent most of her time with the young man, and Jamie had yet to really hold a conversation with his own daughter. 

He could understand her reservations, her shyness. But he wanted nothing more than to know her. He hoped once they were all in Boston together, in a house that did not belong to strangers, and out from underneath the shadow of Helwater, they could all start to get to know one another again.

“Those pretzels we passed looked good,” Brianna said, then looked back at Jamie and Claire when she and Roger made to leave. “You guys want anything?”

Claire looked to Jamie, who shook his head, not wanting to risk upsetting his already curdled wame. 

“I’ll take a pretzel,” Claire said, smiling, then made her way over to an empty row of chairs. Jamie followed, since his hand was still linked with hers and he had no desire to dislodge it.

“How are you faring, darling?” Claire asked him, with only a hint of teasing to her voice.

“I’m no pishin’ myself just yet,” he said. “Saving that for th’ Airplane.”

Claire chuckled and squeezed his fingers. “You’re going to be fine, you know. Flying is the safest way to travel there is, and it’ll be over much sooner than if we had to sail.”

“Small mercies,” he muttered, curiously watching a child cry and stamp her feet in anger because her mother would apparently not get her a sweet. He couldn’t help but think of what his mother would have done to him had he behaved in such a way as a child. “I’ve been meaning tae ask, Sassenach…what is th’ nature of Brianna’s relationship wi’ Roger Mac?”

Claire gave him a little smirk. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask that. I think they’re still working on defining things, but she has feelings for him, I know. And he quite obviously does for her.”

Jamie frowned at her. “But he hasn’a made his intentions known tae ye?”

“No…not in so many words, but women these days don’t need their parents’ permission to date…erm, “court” a man. Brianna will come to me when she’s ready, and she knows I’ll be supportive, but for now they’re really not much more than friends. Besides, even if Roger hasn’t verbally made his intentions known, I would think putting his own time and safety into finding and saving her father is a pretty big gesture.”

Jamie grunted low in his throat. “Aye, suppose I should be grateful tae th’ man. Isn’a as though I have anything against him…I just…”

When he couldn’t quite find a way to say it, Claire, as usual, was able to put words to his thoughts. “It just saddens you to see your daughter courting a man before you’ve even had the chance to get to know her.”

Jamie looked down at her and smiled, wondering if he would ever be able to convince himself that she was really with him, and it wasn’t a dream any longer. Not that it mattered to him, because just basking in her beautiful smile and sparkling eyes was enough for him. 

Well…that…and the sweet taste of her lips. Unable to resist, he leaned down for a wee bit of that taste, feeling the slickness of the red paint she wore there. He’d seen a lot of women just walking about their day wearing so much cosmetics that they looked like theater performers, and Jamie had vague recollections during his illness of seeing Claire painted up similarly, but since his recovery she’d opted for only wearing a wee bit of the colors around her eyes and on her lips, as well as some kind of powder on her skin. He still preferred her face as it was naturally, but the cosmetics were bonnie, on her at least.

As he pulled away, grinning at the slight flush on her cheeks, Jamie heard a sharp “Humph!” and glanced over to see a woman…the same woman with the misbehaved bairn…glaring at them in disgust.

Shameful…” he heard her hiss to her husband, who gave them a curious look.

Jamie frowned and looked back over at Claire to see that her cheeks had reddened more, and not in pleasure.

Maybe showing such affections wasn’t seemly in these times? Maybe the couple did not realize Claire was his wife? Even in his own time, it wasn’t normally done for a husband to openly kiss his wife in public, but Jamie didn’t care, and neither had his father for that matter.

Still, this was not his own time, and Jamie didn’t want to do anything to embarrass Claire or draw undue attention to himself, so he would keep his more blatant affection to himself until he could get her alone and ask her to explain the societal rules to him.

But he would hold on to her hand, still.

“We’re back!” Brianna called brightly, holding four pieces of what appeared to be knotted bread in her hands. “I got you one too, just in case,” she said, handing one to him. “I know you said you didn’t want one, but I thought it might be better to have a little something in your stomach.”

“She’s right, you know,” Claire said. “It’s only bread, and you hardly ate anything at breakfast.”

Jamie hadn’t felt the least bit hungry until the warm, yeasty smell had hit his nostrils, and suddenly he felt quite famished.

The Pretzel was indeed just bread topped with salt, but it had a texture he’d never experienced before. Soft and doughy on the outside, waxy and chewy on the outside. 

He ended up eating the whole thing, plus the rest of Claire’s when she claimed to be full. 

“Just wait until we get you home and you can experience American cuisine,” Brianna said. “Pizza, chicken wings…”

“Cheeseburger and fries!” Claire exclaimed, with an enthusiasm which surprised Jamie a little, and intrigued him as well, and not just to try whatever cuisine they were talking about.

“Yeah! We’ll have to take them to Carmie’s!”

“You know, I’ve always wanted to try Boston Cream Pie,” Roger said.

“That could be arranged!”

 

Jamie had been satisfied listening to all the different foods his family wanted him to try until a woman announced that it was time to board the Plane. 

All at once, the Pretzel that had sat so well in his stomach started to threaten to come up, and they hadn’t even reached their seats.

The inside of the Plane was much smaller than Jamie had expected. He had to duck his head so not to hit it on the ceiling, and turn sideways to even be able to walk. He couldn’t shake the feeling that people were staring at him either, and he wondered what social faux pas he’d committed this time.

It was small… so small. He’d never used to care much about being in small spaces, even after living in the cave, but this place felt like a cell. Like Helwater. And he knew that once the Plane started to fly, he would be wholly trapped.

“Easy man,” Roger murmured from behind him, and at least Jamie wasn’t the only one struggling with his own size. “Ye’re safe, just breathe.”

Jamie didn’t feel safe. He felt seconds from breaking, and he knew fine well that if he lost control now, in front of all these people, he would be taken away, and probably never see Claire or Brianna again.

“Cannae do this…” Jamie said back, hoping Claire was too distracted with her bag to hear him.

“Aye, ye can. Ye have to.”

At least Jamie had enough presence of mind to help Claire get her bag in a compartment over her head when he noticed her struggling with it, and that was enough distraction for him that he was able to let himself get ushered into a tiny seat beside the window.

At first, Jamie wasn’t sure if he liked that. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to see the ground fade away, trapping him in the air with no means of escape, but after a few moments he realized that in his position, he couldn’t really see much of anything but the backs of a few heads and Claire. If he leaned forward, he could see Roger and Brianna sitting in the two chairs across from them.

This wasn’t Helwater. He was safe. Claire was there with him, she was not a vision, or madness. 

“Shh,” she hushed him soothingly, making him realize he must have been breathing heavily enough to be heard. “It’s alright, darling. Just hold on to me.”

Jamie did, twining his fingers with hers and letting himself squeeze tight. Her hands were strong, after all.

He dimly heard her explain to a serving girl that her husband had never flown before, and just hearing that word from her lips calmed him somewhat. The promise that once they were in flight they would bring him whisky calmed him some more.

The motion of the plane beginning to move felt more like a Car than a ship, but the wame-turning sensation of it lifting off the ground was unlike anything Jamie had ever imagined.

From the window, he really could see the ground get farther and farther away, just as Claire had described to him long ago. 

“Alright?” Claire asked him.

Jamie glanced back at her before turning back to the window, barely able to take his eyes off the sight, but he felt himself smile. “Aye.”

His death-grip on her hand had loosened, and she gently stroked his thumb with her own.

When he looked at her again, she was looking back at him with an odd look on her face.

“What?” He asked.

“Nothing. You’re beautiful, is all.”

Jamie snorted, yet felt oddly pleased at being called beautiful of all things. “Nay, Sassenach. Ye are.”

Claire chuckled, and a bell rang which startled Jamie but apparently meant they they could undo the straps from around their waists and Claire did, so that she could push up the wee bar separating them and lean into his side, sighing in contentment. Not long after that, the maid brought them their promised whisky, presented in the bonniest wee bottles he’d ever seen.

Well then, if this was what it was to fly, Jamie thought he could get used to it.