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Time and Again

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Mo ghràdh, You forever hold my heart and our love and to you I entrust her care and protection until I return. Please understand and forgive me but I must go back. Until our spirit shall be done.  J

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Time. Time alone was what he’d needed and the last week living rough on the moors had given him that. Away from the constant demands for his time and attention, he’d sought solitude to consider his future and a plan to move forward. Now it was time to head back, not home to Lallybroch this time where he truly wanted to go, but his refuge, while he finished sorting things out. He wasn’t a man given to backing away from a challenge, it wasn’t in his bones to do so, but how long could he chase a ghost? Would a lifetime be enough? Whose lifetime?

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“Claire, dear, listen to me,” Frank jostled her from her comfy spot, nestled against his side as he straightened up and shifted his body into the corner of the couch they’d been sharing as he turned towards her, removing his arm from around her shoulders to better see her.

“Frank, can’t it wait a bit?” she asked a bit petulantly. “I need a little inspiration,” she continued not taking her eyes from the screen.

“No, I’d rather not, Claire. I’m sorry, but it’s important.”

Sensitive to his uncharacteristically sharp tone, she straightened up and turned towards him, “Alright, do go on then if you must, but I don’t know what could be so important now, to interrupt what promises to be a bloody good sex scene,” she added flippantly trying to lighten his mood.

Claire muted the sound but kept the picture running in the background.

“I’ve met someone.” He said it softly almost apologetically.

That got her immediate and full attention and reaching out and grabbed his nearest leg with both hands, “Oh, Frank! That’s wonderful, do tell!” as she sat back and settled in, “I want to hear all the details!”

Rather shyly Frank raised his head and met her eyes with a grin slowly spreading across his face as he prepared to share his happy news with his dearest friend. “I can’t tell you his name just yet, he’s – well, we – we’re not quite ready to go public, and I have to respect his wishes and concerns especially given all our circumstances. You’ll understand better than just about anyone else, but I needed you to know. We promised each other, remember?”

“Of course, I do.” Claire leaned back resting her head on the cushion as she looked at him before she continued, “Ah Frank,” she let out with a breath with a small pleased smile as she considered his news, “I am happy for you, really.” In truth Claire also felt an unexpected relief. Frank had had a few, very discreet, little flings in the past, which both tacitly acknowledged, but she had worried he would be caught out and the ultimate consequences would impact his - their professional positions. This was the first time he’d been forthright about anyone with her, so he must be someone very important to Frank, enough that he was serious about moving the relationship forward. She could support that, full heartedly.

“Claire,” looking pensive for a moment, Frank quietly stroked her arm, and took hold of her hand, “I’m sorry. I would never want to hurt you, I hope you know that.”

She considered this a moment and knowing it to be true, accepted his news really had not hurt her feelings nor surprised her. Shaking her head, she acknowledged it, “Hey, no, of course I know you’d never hurt me on purpose. This has only worked for as long as it has because we’ve had each other’s best interests at heart. I guess I’m a bit afraid; I just don’t want to lose my friend.”

“Claire,” Frank started, speaking her name curtly and looked at her as if was being ridiculous.

But she interrupted, “No, it’s okay. I’m a big girl, Frank and it’s time. . .” Time for what?  “Time to come out of hiding. I want,” her voice gaining strength in her certainty “– no, NEED, to experience a bit more real life and not just through a one-dimensional screen!” and with her own unexpected outburst flung the remote at the silent screen where the characters were now thoroughly exploring each other’s naked body amongst their discarded clothes littering the floor. And then again, her mind registering the scene, flinging her hand toward the screen with her finger shaking, Claire released some of her own pent-up frustrations, “I want some of that!”

Looking at each other with bemused expressions at her rant, Claire and Frank burst into laughter and fell into each other’s arms. Frank leaning forward, hugged Claire to himself, pulling her to his side, kissed her temple and vowed, “All right, frustrated, are you? Well dear, it’s high time we found you a man.”

“Great, I’ll just run right out and pick one up; great guys, aisle 4,” she muttered under her breath, but felt an unexpected twinge of anticipation.

“Well you are on a military base, plenty of men, you only have to toss your shoe and you’ll hit one, anyone interesting?”

Claire looked up at Frank from under the shelter of his arm and quirked her brow.

“Forget I suggested that.”

“That’s forgotten, but don’t you forget, I still want details,” as they were settling back.

And Frank, with his own satisfied smile growing as he considered, gave her an assuring squeeze, a quick glance, and responded, “When I can, I promise.”

“I’ll speak to Dom and see about getting things taken care of. And,” she added a bit hesitantly, “since, you’ve been honest with me, I’ve been feeling… I don’t know, restless? That’s there’s maybe someone waiting for me?” and blushing a bit recalling her recent dreams, “a bit better suited?”

Frank grinned down at her, “I’m sure darling. Changes are in the air, I can feel it.”

They snuggled back into their comfy positions, rewound the video for more inspiration, and only occasionally interrupted their peace with a snigger as they each contemplated what had been said and what was to come.