original prompt: Modern AU: Perhaps Jamie gets laid off/ fired from his job and the family has to cope with his unemployment
“…dinna care one bit – he canna go about beating up lads in the schoolyard anymore. It doesna matter what his brothers did at his age –”
“Ach – I can come back.”
Rupert MacKenzie, publisher of Leoch Editions, looked up to find his star editor crouching in the low doorway of his office.
“Scarlett, love – I’ll have to call ye back. Jamie is here…” Rupert waved at one of the two chairs on the other side of his desk, watching Jamie close the door and carefully hoist the large stack of manuscripts to the floor.
“No, ye have to tell Moira that she’s still grounded. And ask Senga to tell me all about her test when I get home tonight. All right?…I love ye, my dove. See you tonight.”
Rupert hung up the phone and rubbed his face with his hands. “I swear to God, Jamie – I love all the bairns, I really do – but they’re just so difficult to manage sometimes.”
“I’ve only got the four to deal with,” Jamie smiled tightly. “I canna imagine how you and Scarlett deal with twice that number.”
“I dinna think we do, to be honest – being at home is like having the inmates run the asylum.” Rupert cracked his back and narrowed his eyes at Jamie. Curious.
Jamie looked right back, with that damn blank stare that had won over so many skeptical writers and book distributors – but which never ceased annoying the hell out of him.
“What can I do for ye, Mr. Fraser?”
Jamie sat up a bit straighter. “Weel – speaking of bairns. Claire – *we* are expecting again.”
Rupert stood bolt upright and reached over his desk to clap Jamie on the back. “Congratulations, lad! What wonderful news!”
Jamie flushed – clearly pleased. “We werena expecting it – it’s been almost seven years since William, and we had promised no more, but – ”
“Ah, I ken fine what ye mean. After every bairn Scarlett swears she’ll cut off my ballocks, but then she’s always pregnant again within a year, so…”
Jamie coughed. “*Anyway*, this time the doctors have asked her to take extra care, on account of her age and her troubles with Faith.”
“Aye – I mind that. A bit scary, as I recall – though you’d never know it now, to look at her.”
“So Claire and I were thinking – with a fifth bairn coming, we’ll be spending a lot more time up at Lallybroch. I want her to be up there and rest. And I want to be up there with her. To give the kids fresh air.”
Rupert thought for ten seconds.
“So are ye quitting, then?”
Jamie licked his lips. “No – I’m just asking for a smaller job.”
Rupert skeptically raised his shaggy brows. “*That*’s no’ something I hear all the time. Especially from someone like you – ye ken that ye’re the top editor I have. What you were able to do with Ned Gowan’s latest mess of a book, and how you were able to finally land Tom Christie – ”
“I hear ye, and yes it’s important. But it’s not the most important thing to me anymore. Claire is – my family is. Fergus will be going to uni in less than two years. Jenny’s kids are growing up. I canna miss that.”
Rupert briefly turned away to rummage through the pile of papers on his desk – quickly finding the single page he was looking for.
The list of Jamie’s current projects – from those that were just barely ideas, to those ready for publication, to those currently on book tour.
“I want to do right by ye, man – ye ken I do. I havena given so much of my life to this company, to just throw it all away.”
Rupert nodded, chewing his lip, studying the list. “So what do ye propose?”
“I keep the big names – Ned, Tom Christie, John Grey, Neil Forbes. I manage them as I do now – only from a mix of Glasgow and Lallybroch. None of them are local, anyway. Well, Ned is – but he willna care.”
“And if they’re not happy with the level of service?”
“Trust me – they’ll be happy. Have I ever let ye down?”
Rupert thought about it – and realized he had nothing to counter.
“And what about the other authors? The other tasks?”
“Give it to Willie – ye ken he’s chomping at the bit to prove himself. Or Manfred. Or anyone – I dinna care who. Ye’ll do it the right way.”
Rupert doodled on the list.
“And ye can cut my pay to reflect it.”
Startled, Rupert met Jamie’s eyes – so damn blue.
“Nonsense. Ye’re dealing with the most important names we have – I canna do that to ye. No’ wi’ a new bairn on the way.”
Jamie curled his hands into gentle fists. “Whatever suits ye, then. Dinna say I didna offer.”
Then he rose and extended one big hand.
“Ye willna regret this, Rupert.”
Still dazed, Rupert had no choice but to shake the proffered hand.
“I dinna think I will, Jamie.”
And with that, Jamie Fraser nodded and quickly, quietly padded out of the office.
Rupert looked back down on the list – now covered with doodles – and shook his head.
Jamie paused on the landing at the end of the hallway to text Claire:
*we’re on, mnd. I’ll be yours now all day, every day*
Her immediate reply led him to pack up his things and cancel his afternoon meetings:
*youve always been mine. all mine. come home and show me*