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How Will I Know

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 I say a prayer with every heartbeat

 

Jamie was at a loss. He didn't know what to do next. The ball was in his court, he had her number. He already felt like he'd done the wrong move going to see her earlier that morning. 

Had he?

He wasn't sure what to think. She'd seemed pretty glad to see him. And it wasn't as if he'd planned on going in, his body just seemed to do things on its own volition when it came to this woman. 

He was not the impulsive kind. And yet, with her, everything he'd done had been impulsive. Taking her out drinking to that bar. Then going back to her place. How far he'd let things go there. He barely recognized himself.

But he needed to wise up. One wrong move and, he knew, it would all be over. And he certainly didn't want it to.

He knew that he was avoiding thinking about it on a larger scale. He didn't want to go there, not yet at least. Which was, again, careless of him, but he knew that if he allowed himself to think about what his family would think about it, what people would say, what it would mean for his future as a priest, he'd have only one way to go about it, and that was to smother this, whatever it was, in its crib. 

And that... that was not an option he was willing to take into consideration.

What he'd felt today, that was... different. He looked at her for the first time in a possessive manner. He was jealous of some other bloke coming in, ogling her legs, watching her dress fall in silky folds beneath her round arse, staring at those pillowy lips, holding her gaze and catching her attention. No, he could not allow that. He would not.

As he got ready for bed he kept talking himself into texting her, then finding a reason why it was too soon to do it. 

He brushed his teeth for much longer than necessary and rinsed absent mindedly while he realized he was looking at this from a wrong perspective.

Too soon? What was this, highschool? She was a woman, not a lassie. Surely she was past playing these mindless adolescent games. She'd been pretty clear about her intentions from the get go, and she probably wanted him to be just as honest about it as she was. No games. Real talk.

He sat in bed and made himself comfortable. But he felt as though he was sitting on needles.

He fumbled with his phone. 

What do you say to a woman who's probably been courted by way more experienced men?

And what exactly was it that he wanted to say?

He shut his eyes and then opened them blinking rapidly. No, not that. He couldn't tell her that. Not yet, anyway. He sighed. He longed to be able to tell her all about that as well. Maybe sans words. Preferably.

Again, he dismissed the implications of his own admissions of wanting to bed her. 

Before he could ponder it any further he sent her a text message <<You looked lovely today, Sassenach>>

He suddenly could not handle staring at the blank screen anymore. He was about to get up for a glass of water when his phone chimed <<Good evening to you too, James Jamie Jamie Fraser. Thank you. I was not expecting you to come by today>>

<<I'm sorry for dropping by uninvited like that. In truth, I had planned my morning quite differently. >>

<<Oh, yes, I remember you were chastised for skipping church. Tsk... I believe I may be a bad influence on you. And no need to apologize. I only said I wasn't expecting it. It was a pleasant surprise>>

<<I'm glad of it then. And I believe you were about to share with me some "interesting things" you seemed to have a more vivid recollection of>>

<<Yes, I was just thinking about said interesting things, actually>>

Jamie's brows shot up <<Were you, now?>>

<<Indeed I was. What a coincidence. You wouldn't happen to be spying on me, would you?>>

<<Suppose I were, how would I know what you were thinking about?>>

<<Oh there might have been some clues. Some you've been acquainted with, even>>

Jamie inhaled sharply. Christ, this woman. 

<<Cat caught your tongue? >>

<<No. The clues had me... distracted, for a moment>>

<<They had me distracted the whole day. Sad to hear it's only been a moment for you>>

<<It's hardly been a moment that I haven't been distracted since>>

<<Is that why you skipped church? You were too distracted?>>

<<Oh lass. You have no idea.>>

<<Oh but I think I do.>>

Jamie didn't think he could take it anymore. His heart was threatening to burst out of his chest. How could she turn his insides upside down like that just through some text messages? He would've loved to keep at it but he knew it was just a matter of time before she left him speechless again and he didn't want to keep giving her the upper hand. Jamie was a man of action, and he was better at one on one interaction.

<<And I'd love to hear all about it- over that coffee you owe me>>

<<Oh, yes. The infamous raincheck. Alright. What did you have in mind?>>

<<Are you free tomorrow after you close shop?>>

<<Seeing as I don't like to be in debt, and you were promised... errr, coffee, yes I am>>

Jamie bit his lower lip knowing exactly what she was referring to <<Wear something casual and comfortable. What time do I pick you up?>>

<<Oh? Alright. Color me intrigued. 4pm sound ok?>>

<<More than ok. Looking forward to it>>

<<As do I. Good night, James Jamie Jamie Fraser :-) >>

<<Good night, Sassenach :-) >>

 

The following day, Jamie thought it best to wait for her in the car just outside her flower shop. He could see her through the window and when she came hurriedly to flip the sign on her door to "Closed" after the last customer, she spotted him and waved enthusiastically at him. 

His heart jumped in his chest seeing her smile at him like that and he stepped out of the car to greet her as she grabbed her canvas rucksack and set the alarm system before locking the shop.

When she looked at him again and took in his sports attire her smile wavered "Oh shit"

He laughed out loud "Nice to see you, too"

She narrowed her eyes at him "I thought you said my figure was just fine"

He hummed, looking her up and down appreciatively "Aye, and I stand by that statement"

"Then what gives? You look like you're ready to have me run a marathon"

He gestured for her to get inside his car while he opened the passenger door for her. After she got in he leaned over the window "I'm taking you hiking"

Claire's mouth fell agape and watched him circle the car and buckle in his seatbelt "Hiking? You should've said something! I'm wearing jeans! I almost wore flats!"

Jamie gauged her reaction "Ye said you'd love me to take you hiking with me, did ye no?"

She pouted "Yes, but that was because there was whisky involved. Sober Claire would never willingly sign up for a sports session. I'm the laziest person I know"

Jamie's brows furrowed slightly and he lowered his gaze for a moment "Anything else ye regret about that night that I should know of?"

Claire bent forward to catch his eyes "Jamie. I don't regret anything about it. I'm sorry if my fucked up sense of humor made you question that" 

Jamie's breath caught. The sincerity in her sweet voice made him see her in an entirely different light yet again and he was loving everything he was getting to know about this woman.

"Do you?"

His eyes went to where she'd linked their hands together and then back at her honeycomb eyes "No. Of course not"

She searched his eyes "The way you bolted had me thinking that maybe I came on a bit too strong. I'm sorry if I let things get too... intense. I'm not sure what came over me. I'd.... never done that before. I want you to know that" upon seeing his puzzled expression she went on after squeezing his hand and looking at their entwined fingers "Never brought a man home that I'd just met, I mean. But. It felt right. And I don't regret it. And I don't want you thinking it was the whisky. It wasn't"

Jamie's lips curled in a half smile "I'm glad of it. Thank ye for telling me" he cleared his throat and then carefully picked his words "I'd... never done that before, either"

Claire looked like she wanted to say more but instead smiled at him and turned to fasten her seatbelt "Time for something else I've never done before, I guess" she sighed dramatically

Jamie started the engine and drove off "Ye're a rookie, I'm no taking ye rock climbing just yet. It's just a wee hilltop I like tae go to to clear my head. I think ye'll like it"

"I'm sure I will" he could hear the smile in her voice without having to look

 

"Wow. You were right. It's beautiful up here"

Jamie couldn't agree more, but he was admiring her, not the view. This had to be the first time he'd seen her quite as "disheveled". Her curls were everywhere, the wind having made it appear even wilder. Her cheeks were rosy from exertion, the climb hadn't been steep but for someone who was not used to outdoor activities it did get the blood flowing. He'd only seen her in trousers at the religious wedding ceremony she'd attended, but the jeans she was wearing clung to her round arse magnificently. 

She always looked beautiful, but out here, surrounded by nature she just seemed to... belong. She was wearing minimal makeup if any, and what was most attractive had to be her smile. He'd never seen her smile so much ever since he'd first laid eyes on her.

"Hiking agrees with ye, Sassenach. Ye look verra much in yer element here"

"I love nature. I told you, I couldn't wait to get rid of hospitals and drown myself in my first love, botany. I'm just sorry I didn't do it sooner"

"Still, hard to give up being a doctor I would assume. It's not quite the odd job, is it?"

She inhaled audibly "Hm. Quite. Yes, it was definitely not easy, and I do miss it terribly sometimes"

They sat on a rock formation that allowed for respite while still laying out a beautiful view ahead of them. Jamie fished a thermos out of his backpack and held out two cups to pour coffee into, earning a raised eyebrow from her followed by a giggle. The raincheck implied there would be coffee, after all. "Would ye say it was yer calling?"

"Being a surgeon?" she sipped on her coffee experimentally and then decided to have some more

"A surgeon? Christ."

She furrowed her brows slightly "I don't know. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty damn good. And I did like it, I liked it a lot actually. But I'm not sure I liked it for the right reasons, you know?" Jamie tilted his head to the side for her to  elaborate "I think I went to medschool because... certain people felt like that was what I should be doing. I was a great student, finished top of my class, went on to have a successful career, but to me, it never felt... right. It felt almost as if I were living someone else's life. And there was nothing wrong about it. It's just this feeling I had that I couldn't shake off"

Jamie swallowed a lump in his throat. He knew all too well what that felt like. It was as if she was talking about his own inner turmoil over priesthood. Even though he wasn't yet a priest, the pressure and the expectation made it feel like it wasn't his own decision at all. And although he knew he had calling, and he felt extremely passionate about it, it just felt like something that had been already decided for him without him even having a say in the matter, and that made him question whether he really should be pursuing it further or not. After all, priesthood was not an odd job either. 

"How did ye finally take that leap of faith? Must've been daunting" 

She scoffed "Took me years to work up the courage to do it. Let's just say... some events aided my decision. I had to decide quite hastily, all of a sudden, whether I was going to stay or leave that whole life behind. And I knew that if I took the leap, I could never look back. But when I finally did it, it was like ripping of a band-aid. I suddenly felt liberated, almost as if a veil had been lifted from over my eyes. 

"And then ye came here" 

"Yes. And here I am now" she looked around and then smiled and looked at him intently "No other place I'd rather be"

Jamie took her hand in his and she entwined their fingers further. He prayed silently that this moment would never end. Nothing had ever felt so right before "Neither would I"