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The Nearness of You

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Jamie Fraser is a happy drunk. He doesn't go dark, he doesn't brood. He tells stories and laughs easier and is annoyingly gesticulate as he recounts tales about one of two of his favorite topics: Scotland or Claire Fraser.

Married for two years and two months, tonight was a rare evening away from her due to his job, having a farm-to-table meal with an American restaurant owner interested in branching out into the UK. Displaying all that Lallybroch could offer had gone so well that Jamie and Ian celebrated afterward with (perhaps) a few too many libations and Jenny trying to insist Jamie stay for the night.

"Nah," he'd decided, shaking his head and squinting at the phone in his hand. "Uber'll get me home to my wife safe. 'Tis where I need to be." He’d said it dramatically, as though it were a sacred oath he was carrying out. The response from his sister had been a dramatic eye roll accompanied by a theatrical gagging noise.

And now he’s in the backseat of a random man’s vehicle, giving a personal essay about all the things he loves about his wife.

“Have ye ever seen hair sae curly it really bounces? A wee movement that goes quick, but to watch it is magic.”

“How long ye been marrit?” asks the driver curiously, glancing in the mirror.

“No’ long enough, and feels like forever at the same time,” he sighs as though a lovesick fool. “Just over two years. Christ, she’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” It’s a common drunken phrase, repeated, and he blinks at the blurry image on his phone, at the lock screen photo. She’s there, smile beckoning, calling him home to her.

“I was marrit once. Wasna for me. Too many other lasses out there to try, ye ken?”

Vaguely aware enough that he shouldn’t comment on the Uber driver’s philandering, Jamie grunts with an inflection of disapproval. “I saw Claire, and no other women existed after.” It’s a slightly (but not unintelligibly) slurred statement of fact that carries him the rest of the journey home. Once the car stops at the curb, Jamie’s phone goes to his pocket as he steps out, giving his thanks before the driver calls out through the passenger side window.

“Ye got a rare woman, sir.”

His grin, drunk and wide as it is, reflects nothing but joy at the statement. “Aye. I plan to love her well.”

Once the car’s gone (with a promise to rate the driver that he knows won’t be delivered upon until he next opens the app), Jamie checks the time, letting himself into a dark home. For a moment he’s crestfallen, wondering if she’s already asleep as his keys drop to the table inside the doorway. Toeing off his shoes (wobbling just a bit but still standing), the top button of his shirt is undone before he’s in the kitchen pouring a glass of water when he sees it: a plastic bag from a party supply store. One eyebrow goes up as he casually peers inside and finds pink and blue cocktail umbrellas. Curious now, he walks through the house until he finds her sitting on their back patio, a glass of something lightly amber-colored on the table beside her, pink umbrella in place.

Grinning, he returns to the kitchen and plops a blue drink decoration right into his water glass before joining her outside. As soon as the door opens, soft lyrics of a random Norah Jones song float by, and he drops a kiss to the top of Claire’s head before settling in the chair beside her.

Meeting his gaze with a bright, unrestrained smile, it’s still obvious she was dozing while waiting up for him. “How did it go?”

“I woke ye,” he says regretfully. “Do you want me to carry ye to the bedroom?”

Claire shakes her head but stands, relocating herself to his lap and curling against him the best she can. “No. I want to hear everything.” Kissing him, there’s a hum on her lips as her tongue darts out to taste his. “Are you drunk, Mr. Fraser?”

“Ian and I had a wee bit to drink. Which means my car is back at Lallybroch, by the way,” he realizes, dropping a kiss to her temple.

“Mm, responsibility. I like that in a man. Now, stop stalling. Did it go well with the Quincy family?”

One hand rubs up and down Claire’s leg, more to shamelessly touch (and because his hands are restless) than for any other reason. “He loved everythin’, Claire. So did his wife and brother, and it was good. I dinna ken if they only put on a polite show, but John all but said ‘tis a done deal,” Jamie finishes, reaching for his water. “So, we celebrated afterward.”

“And now you’re home to celebrate with me,” she says, pleased and eyeing his umbrella. “I see you found my party favors.”

“Aye, I did. Are ye havin’ a party?”

“You’re at it,” Claire reveals, ducking her head to kiss his lips now. When they part, it’s back to business. “So, how long until John begins to look for restaurant space?”

Fascinated by one of the curls he described in such fine detail earlier, Jamie hums. “No’ for another few months. But I’ll know by the end of the week if we’ll be their major distributor, Claire.” The anxiety the words give him by saying it out loud is enough to cause a knot to pull at his stomach, as if gravity itself were trying to yank his confidence back down to Earth.

“This is what you’ve been working toward,” she soothes, sensing his tension, watching the obvious (because he’s mildly drunk, because he’s with her ) emotions play across his face. With a practiced touch, her fingers smooth through his curls as she leans in, nuzzling at them, breathing in the smell of him, of aftershave and outdoors and sun. “It’s going to be the Quincys. I know it.”

The Quincy family, out of rural North Carolina, had amassed a fortune when the patriarch’s grandfather started a chain of high-end, upscale restaurants specializing in a constantly rotating menu featuring local, in-season foods—and very expensive alcohol. In other words, the ideal client to help Lallybroch Farms gain a foothold in America.

“And you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket,” she adds, hiccuping a little as she finishes the thought.

“Aye, that’s true enough,” Jamie decides, eyeing her. “How much have you had tae drink, Sassenach?”

“Don’t worry about me. You’ve had enough that I’m sure I could have my way with you right now and you’d hardly bat an eye.”

The laugh Jamie gives comes from somewhere deep in his chest, and his hold tightens on her. “Oh, I’ve no’ lost my faculties yet. The day ye have your way wi’ me and I dinna even move, ye can call the coroner.” As if to prove it, his hands drift under her shirt, up her bare back, then back down to pull the shirt over her head in one swift, effortless movement. “Tell me that was no’ smooth for a drunkard.”

When she laughs, it’s loud and uncensored, topless now in his lap. Standing for the briefest of moments to shimmy out of her leggings, Claire settles herself once more, straddling him this time. “Was that permission then?” Bending, her mouth makes a home at the hollow of his throat, her kisses becoming more frequent as he tips his head back.

“Permission to what?” he asks, voice raspy thanks to his current position and building want.

“Have my way with you.”

“Can I ask ye somethin’, Sassenach?”

“Right now?”

His hand reaches out to grasp her chin in order to look directly into her eyes. “When have I ever denied ye any part of me?”

With a coy grin, Claire bites her bottom lip before kissing his, then the center of his chest before sliding off of his lap to kneel between his legs.

“I’m assuming this is still fine?” she questions, one hand cupping the obvious bulge in his trousers, squeezing him firmly and smiling in triumph at his groan of arousal.

“Christ, aye it’s fine, when wouldna it be?” He sags a bit in relief as her fingers deftly unzip him, raising his hips obediently as she pulls the offensive garments off on her way down.

“I don’t know. You do love being inside of me,” she suggests — an offer, too, if he wants — even as her lips press a kiss to the tip of his cock.

“If ye’re willin’ to do this, Sassenach, I want all of it,” he requests, voice an octave lower as he watches her with lidded eyes. One hand reaches out to thread through her curls. “Dinna fash, I’ll still take care of ye.”

Dragging her tongue from the base of him all the way back to the tip, she meets his gaze. “I’ve never fashed about that at all and you know it.”

He grunts with some sort of male pride at her statement. Whatever he has to say becomes lost in a groan as her mouth envelops him, warmth feeling as though it’s radiating off of him as his body flushes. “Oh, Christ,” he mumbles, head falling back against the chair for a moment as his eyes close.

Her hand begins a slow rhythm in tandem with her mouth bobbing up and down, tongue dragging in her own wake. Deftly, she traces the vein on the underside of his shaft and she can feel him twitch at the same time his hand clutches at her hair. Humming, her free hand slips beneath her chin, cupping his balls and squeezing, just lightly as she finally uses suction.

Jamie’s free hand grips the metal of their patio furniture with such force, he’s sure he might bend the arm of the chair. Opening his eyes, he gazes at the sky, at the stars above his head. He doesn’t want this to end, not yet, and he breathes in through his nose, exhaling through his mouth before looking down at her.

Any hold he had on his inevitable finish flies out of the window at the sight of his wife, eyes closed and lost in her efforts to pleasure him. He can feel the soft curve of her breast against his leg as she moves, and the stray curls that fall in front of her face beg to be pushed aside. With labored breathing, the hand at the back of her head moves, brushing all of her riotous hair to one side.

The gesture makes her look up, locking gazes with him on another pass of her tongue. Pulling back, she kisses him, stroking with her hand as her lips find his inner thighs, then his pelvis, giving her husband a moment to catch his breath. For a few brief seconds, she sucks only at the tip of him, delighting in the way his thighs tense and he jerks with miniature, involuntary spasms. Then, her mouth envelops him again and the groan he lets loose is followed by a string of Gaelic she can’t understand but knows means he’s close.

Sneaking a hand back to his balls, she cups and squeezes once more, moving her mouth with sheer intent. His pleasure causes her own, an aching between her thighs, eager for him to make good on his promise. Her only warning before he comes is a shuddering gasp of her name as he tenses just before spilling into her mouth. The restraint it takes to not thrust is visible in the way he’s white-knuckling the arms of the chair, chest heaving. Finally, he begins to sag back into the furniture, eyes closed as he struggles to catch his breath.

In no rush, she takes her time, savoring the specific taste of him (salty, of the earth, life-giving) while enjoying the way she can feel his muscles ripple with aftershocks of pleasure.

“I missed you today.” She says it quietly as she stands, only to straddle his lap once more.

Loosely, Jamie’s arms wrap around her waist once his eyes finally open. “Maybe I should let ye miss me more often, Sassenach.”

Claire rolls her eyes, barely managing to hold back a smirk. “Maybe we should go upstairs so you can pleasure your wife?” she suggests, one eyebrow arched as she waits for his answer.

Patting her hip and shifting to stand, he reaches for the rest of her (what he assumes is) whisky. “Aye, I’ll take ye upstairs and show ye how much I missed ye, as well.” Standing, he tosses back the contents of the glass before Claire can say anything about it.

He makes a face.

Looks at the glass.

Looks at her.

She watches as the pink umbrella swirls in its newfound empty container.

“Why in God’s name are ye drinkin’ apple juice?”

Her mouth opens, then closes, and then she clears her throat. “I was hoping you’d catch on with the pink and blue.”

“Claire, I told ye, I’ve been drinkin’ wi’ Ian and—” He pauses and looks at the drink decoration again, then at the blue one in his glass.

“There aren’t many reasons I would choose to drink something that’s actually quite terrible for—” She doesn’t finish her sentence before Jamie pulls her into a searing kiss, then simply cradles her face.

“Yer pregnant?”

“Well.” Claire swallows heavily with a hint of a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. “You did promise.”

I promise, we’ll find out ye’re wi’ child two, three months in, tops. He laughs, stepping back to simply look at his wife, dragging a hand down his face in shock. “Christ, ye really are?”

Since the test had read positive that morning, she’d imagined a dozen and a half different ways he might react. But the look on his face, the awe and hope and wonder focused on her could never have been planned for. Gathering tears make him blur and distort, so she simply nods, blinking quickly.

“I really am, Jamie.”

He strides forward then, hoisting Claire into his arms, her legs wrapping around his hips. “Yer havin’ my bairn.”

“One of how many did you say?”

“Six or seven at least,” he mumbles as he walks forward, lips finding purchase against her neck.

“Oh, well, that’s up since the last time,” she sighs, head tilting for more even as he enters their bedroom and lays her on the bed.

“Do ye mind it much?” he asks, making good time in getting rid of her remaining clothing (then his own) before stretching over her carefully, too aware now of the life growing between them to rest his weight on her like usual. Still, that doesn’t stop him from dropping kisses along her chest, sinking lower until he can nuzzle her stomach.

As he kisses her skin, Claire shakes her head, a tear rolling back into her hair as she whispers, “No, Jamie. I don’t mind it. Come here.”

Doing as he’s told, he moves in order for her to kiss him, but instead of doing so, her eyes lock on his, thumb lightly gliding over the apple of his cheek. For a moment, no words are spoken, but finally she breaks the silence.

“Are you happy?”

It’s a question she doesn’t need to ask; she can see the happiness radiating off of him like a beacon inviting others to share his joy. She just wants to hear him.

“Christ, Sassenach, if I were any happier, my heart would burst wi’ joy.” He smiles, brushing his lips over hers before turning the tables on her.

“What about you, a nighean? Are ye happy?”

The returned ask makes her laugh, one he swallows gladly even as he grins too hard to properly kiss her. Before she can answer, he resumes his previous task of soft kisses to her stomach before moving lower, tugging one of her legs over his shoulder.

“I take it ye are, then?”

Claire hums, closing her eyes with a soft sigh. “If you keep going, I might say yes,” she teases.

“Oh, I plan to make ye say more than that,” Jamie promises before his mouth finally lowers and the conversation ends.

There’s no room for words as her husband makes her feel with lips and tongue and hands that know her body better than she knows herself. She can feel the way he easily glides over her sex, slick from wanting. Head tipping back, Claire’s lips part in a quiet gasp, a hand shooting down to tug at his hair.

As pleasure blossoms in her belly, her whimpers become more frequent — less restrained — and it makes Jamie redouble his efforts. Dragging the flat of his tongue over her, he groans at the taste (honey and smoke) before pulling her hips closer with renewed energy and purpose. A light circle with the tip of his tongue makes her back arch (while he savors the feel of her fingernails digging into his biceps.), two perfectly curved fingers inside of her make her cry out his name (’Ja-mie,’ his favorite way to hear it.), and when he adds suction, there’s a faint echo in the room as she shouts nonsense and falls apart, letting him shatter her completely only so that he can put her back together again.

It feels like an eternity before he raises his head, curls askew, cheeks flushed. “Christ,” he huffs, bracing his hands on either side of her head as he kisses her. “I thought I may suffocate, but I figured it wouldna be such a bad way to go.”

Their laughter carries them through a few moments of touching and nuzzling before Claire focuses, pushing until her husband is flat on his back and she’s able to straddle him. “I always knew I’d fallen in love with a risk-taker,” she says with a quiet laugh, one that trails off into a moan as Jamie reaches down and guides himself into her body. For a moment, all she can see is white, her hands resting on his chest as she rides him slowly, closing her eyes.

While she revels in the building pleasure, Jamie watches her, holding onto her by the waist while taking her in. The furrow between her brows as she concentrates begs to be kissed, though he can’t reach it while on his back. Her lips are pouty, swollen from aggressive kisses, and when his gaze travels further down, he can’t stop watching the way her breasts sway with each movement. He prides himself on being an educated man, but the one thing he’ll never quite know is how he managed to be so damned lucky.

One day, he’ll have to thank her bastard of a boss for suspending her so that she might have a day off to visit the farmer’s market.

“Let me do the work, Sassenach,” Jamie requests, reaching out even as she nods and shifts off of him. When limbs settle and they reposition, she’s on her knees and he’s behind her, pressing his lips along her spine as high as he can reach. Between them, he teases lightly for a moment before thrusting into her again, hand splayed across her back.

“Don’t be gentle,” Claire instructs, her words punctuated by a low groan.

“Christ, are ye sure? I dinna want to hurt—”

“You won’t,” she promises, the hint of a whine in her tone. “You can’t, so please, for the love of God, fuck me, Jamie.”

She doesn’t have to tell him again.

When he moves, there’s nothing tender about the way his hips slam against her body, each thrust accompanied by one or both of them crying out; between them, every profanity in two different languages has a moment to shine, and he has her by the waist, admiring the way her back curves and her curls tumble over her shoulders.

Her fingers dig into the bedding beneath her, and when she knows he’s close, when she can tell he’s making a valiant attempt to hold on for her sake, she reaches to touch herself, fingers brushing along his cock every time he thrusts.

Thig a seo,” he gasps, as her fingers move to propel her toward what he wants: to come to him, to come for him.

Her hearing seems to mute save for a low ringing in her ears, and as pleasure finally engulfs her she decides to let herself drown, crying out his name and sinking forward a bit, which only makes him slide deeper.

When her body pulses warm and demanding around him, Jamie gives in, thrusting home twice more before tensing and bowing his head, spilling into her with a shuddering sigh of her name. Panting, his hands ease her down until she falls to the mattress fully; at her whimper protesting the loss of him inside of her, he curls around her body. Chest to her back, he catches his breath, eyes closed and nose buried in her hair. Her curls smell like sage and lemongrass, and just beneath that, he can smell his own soap. It makes his heart warm, to know they’re so intertwined that she carries him with her, always.

When she can finally think again, her body stretches along his, residual pleasure making her hum. Reaching for one of his hands, she presses his knuckles to her lips, then tugs until his palm rests flat against her stomach.

“When you make a promise, Jamie Fraser, you do try to deliver, don’t you?”

He chuckles, low and warm, before pushing her curls aside to kiss her neck softly. “I told ye. I never promise anything I dinna intend to keep.”

For a while, they lay together drifting, though before she can fall asleep, she takes his hand and kisses his palm this time.

“I am happy, Jamie.”

“Couldna tell,” he says dryly, but his smile curving against her shoulder gives him away. Turning his head, he whispers against her ear before kissing her temple.

“Dream of our bairn, Sassenach.”