Original prompt: LOVE modern Glasgow AU I really do hope for more either to fill in on how Claire left Frank for Jamie OR maybe some more fast forward to them finding out that they're going to be parents.
“Claire?” Jamie appeared in the doorway. “We got the last box in the car. Murtagh won’t fit, so he’ll meet us back at the flat.”
She nodded absently and set the note on the table, fished the engagement ring from her pocket, and gently lay it on the piece of paper, weighing it down.
“I’ll never be able to give ye a diamond like that,” he said quietly.
She rose and slung her purse over her shoulder, smiling at him. “I wouldn’t want you to. It just gets in the way.”
He licked his lips and ran his thumb down her nose. “I would give ye the world if I could.”
She grabbed his hand and kissed his palm. Warmth pooled in his belly.
“You’ve given me yourself – unconditionally. That’s more than I could ever want.”
He nodded absently, gaze unfocused. She tugged his hand to bring him back to the present.
“Come on. Let’s get back home.”
The men insisted she go straight upstairs, and for once she kept silent. Better let them deal with the boxes – and make the phone call she’d been dreading.
She closed the door to Murtagh’s spare bedroom and sat on the bed. She knew she could have asked Jamie to be with her, but this was something she needed to do on her own. Had to do on her own, in order to move on with her life.
With Jamie. He was worth it.
Her hands shook slightly as she dialed Frank’s number.
Please pick up. Don’t make me call back. I’m not sure I have the strength to call back.
She swallowed. “Hello Frank.”
“Claire?” The surprise in his voice was evident. “I didn’t think you’d be calling so soon.”
She licked her lips. “Of course. Frank – I – I can’t be with you anymore. I won’t be with you anymore.”
Silence. She knew he was there – could hear him breathing on the other side of the phone. “Just like that?”
“Just like that. It’s easy, right?” She paused. “When were you going to tell me? How much longer would you have played me the fool?”
He sighed. “I deserve that. I – Claire, you’re an extraordinary woman. You don’t deserve a professor.”
“Don’t you dare make this about me!” She rose, limbs shaking. “You’re the one who moved away. You’re the one who chose to see her.”
“Claire, I’m sorry. What else can I say? I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want or need your apologies, Frank.”
Jamie poked his head in the door, arching his eyebrows in a question. She nodded and he slipped in quietly, sitting on the bed.
“I’ve moved out of the flat. I’ve taken all my things – you needn’t worry about it. It’s waiting for you whenever you decide to come back. I even left my key on the table.”
Jamie’s hand found hers and squeezed gently. I’m here. I support you.
“Claire, don’t be rash. I’ll come to Glasgow, we can talk about this – ”
“No, Frank. It’s done. There’s nothing to talk about. I’m not going back.”
“This is foolish, Claire. You can’t do this.”
“I’m not foolish. And I can. No need for you to sneak around – you can see her – them - openly. I won’t get in your way anymore.”
Jamie’s thumb traced the lines on the inside of her palm.
“Claire, I’ll be back in Glasgow in a few weeks. We should meet then.”
“No, Frank. I’m finished. I loved you, you know. But you threw it away.”
“Where are you staying?”
“That’s none of your concern. Let me know when you’re here and I’ll decide whether I want to see you. But it will be at a time and place of my choosing.”
He sighed into the phone. “I did love you, Claire,” he said quietly. “This distance between us – it became too much.”
“It was too much for you, Frank. It was never too much for me.” She sighed. “Good-bye.”
She hung up before she could hear whether he returned the good-bye. Silently she sank to the bed, knee pressing against Jamie’s.
She sighed deeply, eyes fascinated at just how large his thumb was as it traced the bones of her hand over and over.
Jamie was so patient – he was giving her space. Again. He knew more about her, and gave her more room to be herself, than Frank had in all their years together.
“Do ye want to talk about it?” he asked quietly.
She shook her head. “Did you get all the boxes upstairs?”
“Aye. Murtagh nearly ruptured himself hauling those heavy books of yours. All the boxes are in the living room. We can keep them there or move them in here – whatever ye prefer.”
Claire rose. “I’ll bring some of them in here – I don’t want to take up all the space in – ”
Jamie gently tugged on her hand so that she landed in his lap. He settled his arms around her shoulders and drew his forehead against hers. They closed their eyes, breathing each other in.
“Ye’re so brave.”
She exhaled. “I don’t feel it.”
“Ye are. Braver than I am.”
A long moment.
“I dinna deserve you, mo nighean donn.”
“What does that mean?”
He smiled. “It’s the Gaidhlig. It means ‘my brown-haired lass.’ I’ve been longing to say that to ye.”
She butted her nose against his, pleased. “Did you grow up speaking Gaelic?”
“Aye. My parents made sure of it. I – I have no English sometimes, when I am upset or deeply emotional. So.”
Eyes still closed, Jamie trailed tiny kisses along her cheek to her earlobe.
“What did you say to me on the plane yesterday?” Was her voice really that breathless?
He hummed against her jaw. “Silly words. Ye’d laugh at me.”
“I promise I won’t. Tell me.”
She felt him swallow. “I told ye that if ye were mine, ye’d know every single second of every single day how much I love and cherish and respect ye,” he whispered, breath hot in her ear. “And I promised to protect ye, and give ye a home filled wi’ love. And give ye the space I know ye need.”
He inhaled shakily. “I’m in love wi’ ye, Claire. I want ye to know that I’ll never change a thing about ye. I couldn’t.”
Claire pulled back. Jamie saw her eyes shining with tears. His heart sank.
He licked his lips. “Is it too much, Claire? Too soon? Am I – am I being too forward?”
She had no words. All she could do was smile at him and gently, gently bring her lips to his for the first time.
“I love you,” she whispered against his lips, breathless.
He stole another kiss, tears mingling with hers.