Actions

Work Header

The Artist's Son

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 1 - Ellen 

 

Ellen Mackenzie Fraser had always been an artist. As far back as she could remember her head was in the clouds creating new colors, mentally mixing paint. Long walks across the MacKenzie lands filled her imagination with landscapes seen and unseen that she would rediscover on the canvas. 

 

When she told her Mam that she wanted to be an artist, she was met with resistance. It was not a respectable job for a woman and how would she support herself? her mother had said. Her mother told her it would be best to find a suitable husband and keep her hobby quiet, not wanting anyone to think she was “weird.” Trusting that her mother had her best interest at heart and respecting her as an authority figure, she painted in secret. Ellen scraped together money from doing chores and odd jobs around the town to get money for paints. Her works were hidden away along with a major part of herself for most of her young life.

 

When she began to date, her secret stayed in the back of that dark closet of self that she dared not show anyone. Until, one day, her dear friend Murtagh brought his cousin to town for the summer. He was a Fraser from several hours away. Dark haired with a kind face, she trusted him instantly. A group of them hung around together all summer. It wasn’t long before Brian and Ellen had splintered off to spend more time together, alone, realizing that they were silently smitten with each other.

 

Walking in the hills towards the end of the summer, Ellen gained the courage to share her secret with the man she was now clearly in love with. Naught but 20 years old, she was already determined to marry Brian. She wanted to share all of her secrets with him. She felt deeply that her secrets would be safe with him and she was right.

 

“I ken yer leaving at the end of the summer, but I trust ye and I have to share with ye my secret,” Ellen whispered to him walking through the hills.

 

He grabbed her hand, one of the few times he had in their short acquaintance, and chills danced through her blood vessels.

 

“I’d be honored to ken yer secret,” he said drawing their joined hands to his heart.

 

Ellen almost lost her nerve at the tenderness he displayed towards her.  Overwhelmed, her words danced on the recesses of her tongue, deciding whether or not to come out.

 

“I’m an artist and I want to continue to be an artist. My Mam said that I shouldna ever tell anyone...that being an artist isn’t respectable. She said that I’d never find a husband, but I don’t care. It’s who I am, ye ken, and I needed ye to know.”

 

“Oh Elle, that is no a bother to me.  I ken how ye look at the world and describe it, it makes sense to me. Can I see yer work?” Brian said encouraging her and supporting her with his gentle tone.

 

A smile of a thousand suns of the universe spread across her face. She pulled him along to a secret cave at the edge of the property where she spent hours painting. Sometimes she would paint by the light of day when the weather was good, using the natural light to inform the color. Other times she would create by candlelight inside the cave when the rain was fierce.

 

Brian’s mouth hung agape looking around the cave filled with varying sized canvases. Each canvas colored with shapes, designs, still life, portraits and abstractions. So many questions hung in his mind as he slowly walked around the space. Ellen stood at the entrance, nervously watching the first person to ever see her art (besides her). That particular moment in time would be etched into the deepest caverns of her mind for the duration of her life. It was simply beautiful.

 

“Ellen...t’is incredible, how...when...I am overwhelmed by yer talent,” he barely got out. 

 

“Truly, ye think so?” she responded in disbelief.

 

“Oh aye! Ye need to sell these! Or show them, or whatever ye ken it is artists do to get their work out into the world. These works should no be in a cave in the Highlands all alone with no one to look at them,” he said with the seriousness of someone who supported her and wanted to champion her.

 

Not giving it a second thought, she ran to him and threw her arms around him in a bear hug. His breath hitched and his arms came to surround her, his head resting into the crook of her neck. He tried not to be too obvious, but he couldn’t resist inhaling her scent.

 

“Are ye sniffing me?” she asked still locked in his embrace. Feeling him shift and tense, she thought for the first time that maybe his feelings for her were in fact mirrored by her own.

 

He pulled back from her and shrugged his shoulders, why lie, he had been inhaling her.

 

“Maaaaybe...Elle...what ye said about no caring about a husband...do ye no want to get married or do ye just want to be an artist more?”

 

“I want to be an artist more. I dinna want to have to ignore that part of myself anymore. I canna and if that means my Mam is right, then so be it.”

 

“Can I share a secret with ye now?” He asked as a rising blush found it’s way to Ellen’s face while she nodded her head yes.

 

“I dinna want to be parted from ye...ever...maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but I want ye to be my wife. I want to support ye, and yer art and whatever we can make together.”

 

Speechless at first, breath coming short, a realization settled over Ellen.

 

“Are ye...are ye proposing to me?”

 

“Um...weell...I guess I am, but more like a pre-proposal. I’ve still two years of university but I want a life with ye, I’m sure of that.”  

 

A single tear fell down Ellen’s cheek as she joined their hands and brought her lips to his for the first time, sealing their fate together.

 

______________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

(Chapter 2 will be out in a bout 10 minutes) 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 2 - Claire

 

Claire’s schedule at the hospital had been absurd of late. She hadn’t had a day off in ages. Aimless, she wandered  through the streets of Edinburgh. Popping into a shop that caught her eye here and there. She found her spirit rejuvenated with the freedom of a day unplanned. Tired feet found their way into a gallery called Circles . Though on a main street, she had never noticed it before. The brightly colored canvases in the window called to her lighting her heart with their brilliance.

 

Circling the gallery in a daze of awe, she stepped back to view a piece better. As she stepped back again she bumped into something. A person!

 

“Och, sorry lass,” the red and gray haired woman with compassionate eyes said to Claire as they both turned to apologize.

 

“No, no, I’m sorry, I was walking backwards in a gallery like an idiot. I was trying to get a better look. Seems like we had the same idea. I can’t get enough of this artist,” she said.

 

“Well I’m thrilled to hear that...I’m the artist. Ellen Fraser at yer service,” she said smile aglow as she stuck her hand out to shake Claire’s.

 

“You’re the artist?! What are the chances that you are here in the gallery today? Is today the opening?” Claire exclaimed. 

 

“No, no, I was just dropping off a few extra pieces for the collection that were requested,” the stately woman replied. 

 

“Wow! I’m stunned! Your work is exquisite. The variety you paint is astounding. Most painters fixate on one thing they are good at, but you are talented at such a variety!”

 

“Thank ye kindly lass. Would ye like a private tour with the artist? I’ve some time to spare," she said with a warm smile dancing on her features. 

 

“Would I? Yes, please, what an honor!” Claire practically shouted giddily.

 

Starting at the first piece, Ellen meticulously described her process. She explained how she came up with ideas, the story behind each piece and how she became an artist through the loving support of her husband. It all started one day in a cave in the Highlands, she said as she recounted their love story.

 

Claire was a romantic at heart, not that one would ever know it outwardly. Her secret love of rom-coms and reading overly romantic literature was something she kept locked away for herself. Even her closest friends didn’t know she was truly that romantic. As someone who felt so deeply, she could almost never bring it to the surface to share. The intensity of her emotion had scared away many a man and even a few friends. She learned young to keep that emotion to herself, and used the rom coms as an outlet to let out her tears of joy, pain, and heartache. The flowing water cleansed her each time with a promise for future release.

 

As Ellen shared the story of how she and Brian came to be, Claire had to hold back her tears from the beauty of it. She was so used to suppressing her emotions that she wasn’t sure why she was so affected by this stranger’s story or why she had trouble keeping herself in check.  To her unfortunate surprise, Ellen noticed and took her hand. There was something so motherly about her and Claire was powerless to stop the compassion that came forth from Ellen.

 

Sitting in the center of the empty gallery on a bright red abstract bench, Claire and Ellen bonded. They shared the stories of their lives. Emotion and information poured out to Ellen like the mother Claire had long since missed and never known as an adult.  Ellen encouraged Claire not to keep her romantic side hidden, to seek love, and to always be true to herself.

 

All of a sudden, a flash of insight crossed Ellen’s face, “I know,” she said excitedly, “Ye should date my son!”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 3 - Jamie


Jamie was finished. That was one too many disasters for a lifetime, he raged in his head. How could something that other people made look so easy, be so damned hard? The worst of it was that everyone had the “perfect” (all knowing) advice for him. Each and every single one of them had been wrong. Keep trying “they said.” She is out there, they said. When the timing is right, they said. Try online dating, they said. Try a sporting group, they said. Try new things, they said, but he had had it. It wasn’t happening for him. What’s worse, the harder he tried, the worse he felt about himself as a person. Each failed date brought a deluge of self-doubt regarding relationships and dating.

 

So, he gave up. He marked it on his calendar. No dates for at least 3 months. He needed to hunker down to figure out what was most important to him and what the hell his problem was. Brian and Ellen Fraser’s love story, he suspected was part of his problem. It was unreal and had been told to him over and over again since he was a lad. It was an impossible standard to live up to.

 

Jamie had dated some lovely lasses but he never really fell in love with them and he couldn’t figure out why. Many times he felt he should be ready to take the next step with them, but never was. They were all “just ok.” He had been taught that, “when you know you know,” and “you’ll ken when you see her.” He never did know. More and more he realized this was a fantasy, a unicorn proposition, and an aspirational story that his parents had set for him. Every one of them said the same thing, “when you know, you know.” It was infuriating to Jamie. He had never been that sure of anything in a split instant in his whole life, why would this be any different?

 

Letting the thoughts race over each other and crash into one another in his brain, making a mess, he was disturbed only by his phone’s chirping ping. His Mam.

 

“Jamie love, I have the best news! I’ve met this lovely surgeon today and I’ve set ye up on date. Yer just going to love her. I know it,” the elder Fraser rambled out at breakneck speed.

 

“Mam, slow down. Christ, what is wrong with ye? Why would ye do such a thing without asking me first? I’ve given up dating for a while, today in fact, just this morning. I’m sure she’s a nice lass, just like all the others that the family has tried to set me up with, but no thanks,” his tone firm and resolute.

 

“Och, yer such a spoil sport. I’m telling ye, this one is different. I’ve never said that before, I ken it, so that should make ye stand up and notice. One date, mo bhalaich ruadh.”

 

“Will it get ye and Da off my back if I go? And will ye back off if it is another disaster?”

 

“Agreed. If yer not interested, then go on yer dating hiatus or whatever ye ken it is,” she said in a serious yet loving tone.

 

“Fine, I’ll go then, but not another word after it ye hear...did ye already set it up or do I need to call the lass?”

 

“Och, I set it all up of course. Tuesday late afternoon, coffee at The Empty Tin. She lives quite near to ye so that is in the middle.”

 

“Of course, canna help yer overreaching can ye…”

 

“You wouldn’t have me any other way.”

 

“Yer right. Mam...what’s her name?”

 

“Her name is Claire. I’ll send ye a picture of her. Don’t be late, it’s un-gentlemanly!”

 

“Aye, aye, Mam, ye’ve told me a thousand times,” he said resigned.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 4 - Brian 

 

After all these years with this magnificent woman by his side, he still couldn’t believe she had said yes to his pre-proposal.  Now, fully into a multi-decade marriage full of ups and downs, he had never loved her more. Their marriage was colored at its core with love and friendship, that helped them surmount even the biggest challenges couples can face.

 

On a rocker in the back garden, Brian sipped his morning coffee. First light colored the earth. He stared out at their lands and all they had built over the years. He marveled at the peacefulness of the moment, interrupted only by a daydream about his wife. 

 

Ellen had left before dawn to make it to Edinburgh in time for the gallery to open. Parted just a few hours, it was inevitable that his thoughts would veer towards her. Anytime they found themselves separate, after having been together so long, their thoughts would often drift to each other. Though it could never be proven, he swore, they sometimes shared thought-lines, their connection still as deep as when Ellen shared her secret life as an artist.

 

His life’s work surrounded him, the farm, the bed and breakfast down the lane, and the tiny burgeoning distillery, a joint effort between himself, his son-in-law Ian, his daughter Jenny and son Jamie. He was filled him with pride and accomplishment. All of it possible because Ellen had believed in him, their future together and the family they would create.

 

Brian’s morning ritual was sacred to him. Some would say it was a prayerful time, or a meditative time, but he would say it was his time for gratitude. He was always thankful for another day on earth when so many weren’t as lucky. Their own two sons had long since left this world. Willie from a childhood illness and Robbie in infancy from a heart condition. No words accurately describe the pain of a parent losing a child, let alone two. Everyday he said a prayer for them. It was a miracle that he and Ellen were still able to lovingly exist on the other side of those losses, still a family. The years of devastated hearts, not being able to get out bed, listlessness, and deep pain was a reminder to live everyday as if it was the last. So Brian did. He started each day in reflection for all that was lost and for all that there was still to be grateful for. In awe of his remaining family and the way his life had evolved, he sat in silence save for the sounds of nature. 

 

Each task throughout Brian’s day was completed with reverence, no matter how mundane, superficial or serious. His morning ritual extended the sanctity of life through his day. Even mucking out the stalls of the highly sought after horses they bred, was intentional and sacred.

 

In his distillery office, he sat combing over paperwork and contracts for their next distribution deal. He heard the door open in the outer office and knew it was his love before she made it to his office door. A soft knock sounded on the door, (he knew she never wanted to disturb him, but he was dying to see her) and he beckoned Ellen in.

 

The glow on her face when their eyes locked after all these years still took his breath away. She walked to him behind the desk and giddily planted a tongue filled wet kiss on him. His arms collected her onto the chair with him for a snuggle and a mild grope before he pulled up a chair up for her beside him. Then they sat facing each other, hands connected.

 

“Brian I have so much to tell ye, do ye have time now?”

 

“Oh aye, I was just finishing up and I am so glad yer here. I missed ye.”

 

“I’ve only been gone 10 hours…” she admonished him with a laugh and a gentle nudge to the shoulder before adding, “I missed ye too,” with a smile. 

 

“What news of Edinburgh? Did ye see our boy? All’s well at the gallery?”

 

“Let us have a dram love, I have a grand story for ye.”

 

Brian walked over to the tasting cart in the corner, poured them a sample of the newest single malt (that was ready) and handed it to her. “Slainte.” “Tell me it all.”

 

Brushing a hand down his thigh and giving his knee a squeeze, she said, “I found her,” without any introduction or indication of what she was talking about.

 

“I’m no’ sure I ken yer meaning love,” Brian said with a confused look on his face.

 

“I found the lass for Jamie. I just know it,” she said with an excited rise in her voice.

 

Brian tensed, this recurring topic, while one dear to his heart, had been something they’d both agreed to leave to fate. They’d both interfered too much in their son’s love life as it was.

 

“Elle, I thought we agreed to let Jamie on his own with fate and to stop interfering. Did ye talk to him about this? He canna be happy te have his Mam setting him up again after the last time.”

 

“Och, aye, Laoghaire, was a mistake, but this is different. This woman, Claire, ye have to meet her, she is exquisite. Smart, funny, likes art, a doctor, has a kind heart, and exhibits just enough of the stubbornness that would be needed to marry a Fraser.”

 

Brian adored his wife’s optimistic heart, especially when it came to their children, but he was cautious after what happened with Mrs. Fitz’s granddaughter.

 

“She sounds lovely, but dinna get yer hopes up love, Jamie will never agree.”

 

“He already has. I didna see him but called him right up, and set it in an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

 

“What do ye mean?”

 

“I mean I had already set up the date, ye ken, day, time, place and everything.”

 

“Oh Elle, you didna…”

 

“Yep, it’s happening! Day after next!” she said with a glee reserved for the mother of a bride, “the lad gave me some spiel about being on a dating hiatus to try to sort himself out after all the messes of late, but I convinced him just one date, as only a mother can guilt that boy into doing. Then he can take his wee hiatus.”

 

“I dinna ken if I want to kiss ye for your perseverance, or call the lad and apologize for ye.”

 

“Do both,” she smiled and leaned over to kiss him breathless with her whole heart.  She knew that inside he was happy she was pushing, regardless of the conversation he and Jamie had had during the lad’s last visit to Lallybroch. Ellen figured she could push and Brian could respect fate, and all would come out in the wash as it always does.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 5 - Jamie and Claire

 

Claire

Dressed casually in navy blue jeans, a black wide neck sweater, black leather ankle boots and a maroon knit scarf loosely wrapped around her neck, Claire walked the three blocks to the coffee shop. She turned back towards her house six times in those three blocks. The conversation in her head made her dizzy. Her feet walked back home of their own volition.

 

What are you doing? Are you really this desperate? This guy isn’t going to like me. How could you have said yes to his mother? A blind date? REALLY Beauchamp? How am I supposed to find him? Ellen said, “tall with red hair,” that describes half of Scotland! What are you going to do, go up to every red headed tall man in the shop? Christ, I’m a mess. I should go home.

 

On the sixth turn of the block to her house, she gave herself the pep talk of a person who regularly had to go in and cut open a person’s chest cavity. She could do this, it was just a blind date. The 35 year old put on her best nonchalance armor. The armor that said I don’t even care about this. Then she summoned the god-complex that got her through surgeries and sure-footedly walked to The Empty Tin.

 

Jamie

 

Running late, lost in a story, fingers clacking at the keyboard, his mother’s words rang in his ears, “Don’t be late, it’s un-gentlemanly,” she had said. He rolled his eyes, why was she always right about everything else but his dating life?

 

Jamie was so intent on his dating hiatus, that he hadn’t given this date a second thought once his Mam had told him about it. His plan was to go, make nice, let it fail. Then step back out to the fresh air and unburden himself of dating for three full months. Without a shred of doubt, he knew that this was a fool’s errand. He berated himself for letting his sometimes, ok often, overbearing, and extremely loving mother, convince him to do something he didn’t want to do, again.

 

Putting his hand on the knob of the The Empty Tin, he realized he had no idea who he was looking for. The only detail his mother had given him was that she was a Doctor, a lot of help that was going to be in a sea of people. His Mam never did send that picture of Claire. Maybe she would be wearing a white coat and scrubs, he thought, knowing she wouldn’t be. Already off the a poor start, his mind told him, perfect, just perfect. Maybe he wouldn’t even find her and then he could just walk out having fulfilled his duty to his mother.

 

Claire

 

Claire sat at a table in the center of the shop facing the door so she could see who arrived. After five minutes of waving to every male ginger who walked in, she finally made a sign that said, “I’m Claire, Are you Jamie?” She knew it was stupid, but it was better than harassing every ginger man who walked in. Folding it in half to create a little tent, it stood on it’s own at the side of her table. The sign beckoning to the stranger she was to meet, she was able to pull out a report and make good use of her wait time. Though outwardly pessimistic about dating, in her heart of hearts she held hope, optimism and her secret romanticism . It never occurred to her that he might not show up.

 

Ten minutes later, the thought finally occurred to her. He was fifteen minutes late. Maybe he was standing her up. It’s not like there would be any repercussions. They didn’t know anyone in common and his mother had set them up for god's sake. It was easy to stand her up, she realized as her entire body deflated.

 

Nearing the end of her coffee, she resolved to wait five more minutes. She returned to reading the unusual case file that Joe had asked her for a consult on. Just as she was about to reach for the sign to put it away, a tall figure arrived at the side of her table. Looking up, she saw messy, floppy, curly, red hair.

 

Jamie

 

Jamie pushed the door open then stepped hurriedly in as his eyes scanned for a woman alone. The shop was full of them. White coat and scrubs? Of course not. He took a spin around the room before he caught the curly wig reading intently.  She chewed on her bottom lip, her long index finger made a slow circle around the rim of her coffee mug. His eyes fixed in on the paper propped up to her side facing out.

 

He didn’t know whether to laugh or grimace when he saw her sign. It was cute but also said, I can’t be bothered to look for you when you are so late.

 

At first glance, she was cute, but when her eyes rose to his as she reached for the sign, he saw that she was truly beautiful. Almost no makeup, a few dark curls framing her face having escaped from her messy bun being held together with a pen.

 

His mother had good taste, at least this time around. Claire was at least a grown woman with not a hint of swooning lassie about her.

 

Jamie and Claire

 

“I’m Jamie,” he said pointing to the sign, “I like yer wee sign, thank ye for waiting for me.”

 

“I was just about to leave,” she said grabbing for the sign, annoyed at herself that she had waited this long. Even though the sight of him was, well, rather breathtaking (even with his slightly disheveled appearance), she didn’t care for people who had no respect for her time. That was a big strike in her book.

 

“A sassenach….Och, sorry, well nice to meet ye Claire, I hope ye have a lovely day then,” he said sticking out his hand to shake hers.

 

Claire took it hesitantly. The sensation that ran between them was uncomfortably familiar and she immediately grabbed her hand away. Her brain told her to ignore the sensation like it was a phantom of her imagination.

 

“You could have just said no to Ellen instead of being late and hoping I would leave,” she blurted out, a scowl coloring her features, as he took his hand back and stuffed it in his pocket.

 

“That’s a hell of an accusation to make towards someone ye just met…,” he said matching her tone, a defensive stance taking over his body.

 

“Tell me I’m wrong…” she said standing up and resting her hands on her hips.

 

“Yer wrong,” he shrugged, looking her dead in the eye.

 

Tapping her foot, she waited for him to continue and when he didn’t, she decided all bets were off.

 

“You clearly didn’t want to come. Do you deny it?” she spat.

 

“Will ye sit,” he asked motioning to the chair as he went to sit opposite her.

 

Huffing, she slumped back down, arms interlaced across her chest.  

 

“Are ye always like this?”

 

“Are you kidding me right now? What a waste of time,” she huffed out and began packing her things.

 

“Claire, hold on, let’s start again, aye?”

 

His mind was swimming, he was expecting a disaster, but this was just plain weird.

 

The bag, and books came to rest again on the table. Claire sat still.

 

“Good. Hi, I’m Jamie, I’m sorry I was late, I was working.”

 

“Hi I’m Claire, sorry I was rude....this is too weird for me.”

 

“Well then, hello Claire, it’s weird for me too. My Mam won’t stay out of my business, I came today even though I have sworn off dating, AND anyone my Mam wants to set me up with,” he said sincerely.

 

“At least it’s out in the open now,” she said relieved to know they both thought it was a mess and very unusual.

 

“Aye, ‘tis,” Jamie said really looking at her for the first time, their eyes meeting long enough for him to discern their deep golden brown hue. An altogether not usual shade of brown.

 

“Well, since you are on a dating hiatus, let’s just call this failure what it is and both be on our way, but, answer me one question before we go...why exactly are you on a dating hiatus?”

 

With that, Jamie poured it all out on the table between them. He hadn’t meant to, but since he had nothing to lose with a woman he would surely never see again, it spilled out. The dating disasters, the specter of his parent’s love story, the string of set ups from both parents. ALL of it.

 

Not normally one to overshare, he finally caught himself about an hour into his diatribe. Embarrassed and pink cheeked, he cast his gaze down, intently examining the wood grain on the table like it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen.

 

“Sae sorry, that was...too much information, I dinna ken why I just told ye all that…” he said curling into himself and making himself small ( a very hard task for such a large man).

 

“It’s ok, I thought it was interesting and rather well thought out. Want me to overshare so you feel better?” she offered with sincerity and a kindness that warmed him and cooled the heat of his embarrassment at the same time.

 

He nodded his head and accepted the offer and she was off to the races before he could say another word.

 

Claire told him how she was starting to feel invisible as a single woman in her mid 30s. How she got looks of pity and shame from people in her life for being single for so long.  How med school and residency precluded any sort of real dating life, and now that she just barely had time to date, she hadn’t done it in so long that she didn’t know how. She said it always became an unthinking comedy of errors. By the time she finished, she had shared so much that she wanted to run screaming all the way home. The voluntary vulnerability made her bones brittle and nervous system fray. The vulnerability muscle long since in disuse and disrepair got a marathon sized workout with no warning. She hadn’t been able to stop once she started. She felt sick.

 

“Well aren’t we the pair, the invisible woman and the man on a dating hiatus. That is a start to a bad joke,” she cackled uncomfortably.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 6 - Jamie and Claire - Part II

 

Claire looked down. Her overshare consumed her as she tried to catch her breath. Thank goodness she was never going to see him again. Her fingers toyed with a hole in her maroon knit scarf, like a tongue that can’t stop touching a sore spot in your mouth.

 

Taking in what she said, letting it wash over him, he was filled with compassion and blurted out.

 

“I can fix that hole for ye, if ye like.”

 

“What?”

 

“That wee hole in your scarf that ye can’t stop touching, I can fix it for ye. I’m guessing ye don’t knit since it looks like an old hole.”

 

“I’m sorry, you knit?”

 

“Of course I do,” he said like it was the most normal thing in the world, “is that no something they teach Sassenach children?”

 

“No, they don’t…You are a very strange man.”

 

Shrugging with his whole body, he returned the statement, “Perhaps, but I canna say ye don’t fall in the same category.”

 

Staring at him intently, in a not unkind way, she stopped playing with her scarf.

 

“Well…this has been unusual. It was nice to meet you Jamie,” she said standing, sticking out her hand to shake his again. He stood, and their skin met with the same heat and current that she had tried to ignore before.

 

“So ye dinna want me to fix yer scarf?”

 

“No, I think it’s best we not meet again. It’s clear we are not a match. So you’re right about your mother and match making. Have a nice dating hiatus Jamie,” she said removing her hand from his. She gathered her things and walked out the door into the liberating Scottish air.

 

Jamie

 

Though Jamie was intent on his dating hiatus and didn’t want to date the strange Sassenach, he still felt a wave of loss flow over him when she left. Her firm statement that she didn’t wish to see him again hurt all the same. His emotions confused him.

 

He couldn’t get the situation out of his head. He thought about it on his walk home, the encounter playing in a vicious loop. As he tried to write his long overdue futuristic fiction manuscript, her eyes danced across his screen instead of letters. She followed him to his evening run, and into his conversation with his mother over the phone  that night. Ellen, of course,  had called to check in on how the date went.

 

“Mam, she said I was strange, and we both over-shared. She said she didn’t think it was a good idea to see each other again. It was the most unusual meeting of a person I have ever had. Are ye content now? I went, I saw, I was rejected…I think…?”

 

“Aye, my lad, I’m glad ye went. I canna have ye holding yerself up at yer desk writing yer days away and expecting some perfect woman like ye write about to just knock on yer flat door.”

 

“I dinna write about perfect women. I write about interesting and dynamic women with many lovable flaws.”

 

Jamie heard crackling on the line as his mother put the phone on speaker and his father made his presence known.

 

“Jamie lad, I dinna like this hiatus thing ye are taking. It sounds unproductive. Ye live in a bustling city, why no go on a few dates every week and see what gives. Yer bound to meet someone.”

 

Jamie loved his Da but he just didn’t understand. Brian and Ellen met at 20, were engaged and married so soon after, that they had no real concept of the dating realities of this time in a city like Edinburgh. He knew his Da meant well, but he also knew he had no frame of reference for Jamie’s experience.

 

“Da I ken ye mean well, but that WAS what I was doing. That’s why I am taking a break. It was demoralizing to not have a single second date in months. It shows me that it’s not working right now. I am going to focus on other things for a while.”

 

“Well son, dinna let yerself get too swept up in work. It’s no healthy to practice avoidance.”

 

“I agree with yer father, mind yerself,” his mother encouraged.

 

“Alright, alright, I will. It’s only three months ye ken. I set a deadline so I wouldn’t get to like my own silence and company too much.”

 

The phone clicked off speaker and his mother returned. “What was wrong with Claire?”

 

“Nothing Mam. She seemed fine. Verra pretty, but in the end she didna wanna be there any more than I did…I…was also…late. She didna like it overmuch…”

 

“JAMES ALEXANDER MALCOLM MACKENZIE FRASER! What did I tell ye about being late?! Christ there is no help for you. No wonder it went badly.”

 

“I was working. It couldna be helped. I didna mean anything by it.”

 

“Oh yes ye did. It was to spite me setting you up again against your will…that poor woman. I am so embarrassed.”

 

“Mam, it wasn’t all THAT bad…”

 

“I’m going to call her.”

 

“You WILL NOT.”

 

“Oh aye, I will. Considering you dinna have her phone number and I do. I will apologize for all the Frasers involved.”

 

“Please don’t, I’m beggin ye. It was messy enough without my mam getting involved a second time.”

 

“Pull yerself together lad. Ye need to get yer priorities straight. Take yer wee hiatus and see where it lands ye. I’ll see ye on Sunday?”

 

Deflated, Jamie huffed, “Aye, I’ll see ye on Sunday…Mam…I’m sorry I’m a disappointment to ye.”

 

“Oh Jamie love, ye aren’t. I just want to see ye happy and settled. I want ye to be loved the way yer father loves me and the way I love him. There is no greater gift, save children. I love ye and I want ye to have ALL the experiences of life. I want ye to be loved and supported by someone who truly knows who you are to your soul.”

 

“Thanks Mam. I love ye too,” he whispered out.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 7 - Claire and Ellen 

 

Ellen

Later that night, Ellen rang Claire against the wishes of her son and the caution of her husband.

 

“Claire?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“It’s Ellen Fraser.”

 

“Oh…Um…Hi…what can I do for you?”

 

“I’m just off the phone with that son o’mine. I want to apologize for him, and for setting ye up. It wasna right of me. I shouldna have pushed it.”

 

“Ellen, it’s alright. I said yes to a blind date with the son of a woman I had just met. Just as much of the blame is on me for saying yes.”

 

“No, no, lass. It’s on me. Will ye forgive me?” Ellen said apologetically.

 

“Forgiven. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. He’s a lovely looking lad and all. I am sure he is a good person, but it was kind of a mess. Timing is important in such things and it’s not right for either of us.”

 

“Ach, so he told ye about his wee hiatus then did he.”

 

“He did. I can’t say I fault him. I’ve been on an unintentional hiatus for years…” she said letting her voice trail off.

 

“Your generation doesna put enough emphasis on partnership, ye ken. It’s the emotional circulatory system of a full human life. I ken it’s hard to find yer person, and I got lucky finding mine so young, but ye ken, ye always have to stay open to it,” Ellen said in a motherly tone that warmed Claire’s heart, though the sentiment was biting.

 

“I see your point Ellen. Jamie told me a bit about you and Brian from his perspective. It was interesting to hear it from both of you, two perspectives on the same story. You are truly lucky,” Claire said in seriousness.

 

“He did? This doesna sound like a bad meeting at all. Will ye tell me more?”

 

Claire

 

Claire didn’t know why or how or who or what end was up after her conversation with Ellen. They talked for an hour. There was no other way to characterize it except that she felt like home. Ellen without a shred of a doubt felt like a mother to her. Confused, lying awake in her bed that night, she considered that maybe the set up wasn’t about her son.  Maybe it was about her forming a relationship with a female guide in her life, something she had lacked since her mother and father died when she was very young.

 

Ellen and Claire shared a natural rapport that seemed unlikely. A surgeon and an artist, how could they find such ease? But there it was. Claire felt lighter and hopeful after their conversation. After admitting she had never visited the Highlands, Ellen invited her up to see her studio, their home and the Highlands that weekend. Without a second thought, Claire said yes.  

 

——————————————————————–

 

Arriving at Lallybroch Sunday morning, Claire’s mouth dropped open. Ellen had undersold Lallybroch, by a mile. Understated in its beauty, a deep sense of home washed over Claire. It was the same feeling she had had after she got off the phone with Ellen earlier in the week. It was an unfamiliar feeling to Claire. She had never felt at home anywhere in the world through her many travels and moves. Taken aback by the emotion at seeing Lallybroch for the first time, she composed herself and stepped out of the car. Her mind began to race.

 

Well this time you have really done it Beauchamp, lost your mind. You are desperate for human connection. You met a woman in an art gallery a week ago and now you are at her house. What is wrong with you. This goes against all of your well manicured defenses; the fathomless skepticism of strangers you have built over the last decade and a half of your life…maybe longer. You need to see a professional.

 

Letting her mind run through every possible reason to turn around and get back into the car, she stepped to the front door and rang the bell, not paying heed to her doubts.  

 

A vivacious Ellen opened the door. White and blue paint smudges dotted the side of her neck. A paint brush tucked into her loose brilliant red bun on top of her head. Without a word, Ellen drew her in for a hug.

 

“Claire, I’m so glad ye made it! Come, come in….BRIAN!”

 

A tall man with striking dark hair, about 60 years of age, wearing a kind face, came around the corner and smiled when he saw her.

 

“Ye must be Claire then,” he said reaching out his hand to shake hers, “I’m so pleased to meet ye. My Ellen has been telling me so much about ye!”

 

“She has?”

 

“Och aye, she’s quite taken with ye,” he smirked.

 

Not used to the open and effusive nature of these people she barely knew, she suddenly became shy. Her voice dropped to a barely audible level, “thank you, that is so kind.”

 

“Love, yer embarrassing the poor woman,” Ellen said giving him a playful swat on the shoulder before planting a kiss on him. “Come Claire, let me show ye around before we head out to the studio.”

 

If the outside of the house was impressive, the inside was a dream. As they viewed the huge library, Claire involuntarily pictured herself lounging on a chaise, reading for hours in pajamas, covered with a plaid. The kitchen was outfitted in a way that any famous chef would feel comfortable cooking there. Mahogany was everywhere. Though Ellen didn’t take her upstairs, she knew the long hallway of rooms above would be equally breathtaking.

 

Ellen poured two heaping cups of tea into mugs that were fit for drinking two pints of beer. She showed Claire out the back door into the garden bringing the studio into view.  The studio, a free-standing building with more windows than Claire thought structurally sound, stood about 50 feet from the back door. Made of the same stone as the main house, it had an ancient, storybook quality to it.

 

Ellen explained that when Brian built it for her, she insisted on as many windows as possible. That way she could paint and also watch the children playing in the garden when she was stuck for inspiration. Her children, she said, always sparked her imagination as she watched them play in the way that only children can (free of societies pressures and norms, pure and divine).

 

The heavy, turquoise, worn, wooden door creaked open and Claire was met with a large main room filled with color. The studio consisted of two rooms, a washroom in the back, and the main room. Organized storage rested next to the washroom. Canvases of every size tucked into their correct spot just waiting to be met with the colors of Ellen’s mind and her practiced brush strokes.

 

Claire didn’t mean to be such a fan-girl, but her gasps and face locked in awe as she walked around the space gave her away. Ellen let her wander around before saying anything. She simply watched the lovely curly haired woman taken in her work.

 

“Ellen…I…thank you so much for inviting me here…I am so honored to see your work space. I loved your work at the gallery, but to be here and see where you create…I am overwhelmed,” she said with an air of mystical awe.

 

“Thank ye Claire. I am happy ye came even after that unfortunate meeting with my lad.”

 

Ellen showed Claire a few of her works in progress. She explained the intention and meaning behind each. Claire was attentive and enraptured by this artistic goddess that for some reason had welcomed her into her sacred creative space.

 

Claire took an interest in Ellen’s creative process and how she worked. Claire described how different it was to her own world in surgery. Her scientific brain had always been curious about how the other half worked. Hearing Ellen speak about it with such clarity, helped Claire bridge the gap.

 

Hours later, sitting in the studio, their tea long since finished but the conversation still strong, Ellen asked Claire to stay for afternoon dinner.

 

“As long as it isn’t an imposition, I would love to,” Claire said, realizing again that sense of home overwhelming her from head to toe.

 

The sun of the afternoon had given way to a light mist resting over the land. The mist speckled her curls as they walked the 50 feet back to the main house. The kitchen was empty when they stepped in but they were met with shrieks heard from the living room. Claire looked at Ellen with a question in her eyes. She had expected it would be just Brian and Ellen at dinner. Reading Claire’s mind, Ellen answered her unasked question.

 

“My daughter, Jenny, and her blessed hellions, wee Jamie, Maggie, Kitty and the baby, Ian. I hope ye dinna mind it won’t be just us?” Ellen asked her brow raised.

 

“Oh no, not at all…,” she stammered out, noticing a fear rising in her belly. She was crashing a Sunday family dinner. A slow dawning spread through her mind as Ellen opened the door and Claire’s fear was fully realized. Her belly dropped, and then unexpectedly flopped at the sight before her.

 

Jamie, his back turned, had a small boy over his shoulder.  The child clawed and climbed onto his head of red springy curls. As the child pulled at the neck of Jamie’s t-shirt, he exposed an exquisitely formed clavicle. At his left leg was a girl of about 3; sitting on his foot clinging tightly onto his leg. She took a ride with him whenever he would take a step. A younger girl was clapping and squealing from the sidelines at the riotous show.

 

Hearing the door open, wee Jamie yelled “Nanna!” over big Jamie’s shoulder. Big Jamie turned and nearly dropped wee Jamie at what he saw. Before he could stop himself, he gasped in disbelief, “Sassenach?”

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 8 - Dinner at Lallybroch

 

Claire

 

Shite shite shite. What is he doing here? Was this another setup? Fuck, this is not good! Very not good! How do I get out of this? Why did my stomach flop at seeing him with those children? What is wrong with me? Was he that hot the last time I saw him? That clavicle was to die for. I wonder where my keys are and how fast I can get to my car?

 

“Sassenach?” Jamie said, letting his nephew slide down his body. Wee Jamie took big Jamie’s shirt with him long enough to expose the muscles in his chest that the clavicle supported. Claire shivered and saw a flash of a red cape in her mind’s eye at seeing his chest. She now knew she was losing her mind.

 

Jamie’s gaze went from Claire directly to his mother. His look was unmistakable. What the hell Mam?

 

“Jamie, welcome home love,” Ellen said, as she walked over to embrace him ignoring his look.

 

Over his shoulder, Ellen caught a glimpse of her husband. His expression was a mix of - “tsk, tsk woman” and “well done, I like your style.” She caught him stifling a laugh and shaking his head while he looked at his shoes so Claire couldn’t see his reaction.

 

Claire watched the scene in front of her play out, as she tried to figure out her exit plan. Though uncomfortable at the surprise of seeing Jamie again, it still felt like home. Conflicting thoughts ran through her head and she knew there was no way Ellen would let her leave before dinner. She resigned herself to her fate of sitting at the Fraser Family Sunday dinner table as an outlander.

 

Jenny walked over to Claire with a curious glint on her slight face, her dark hair mirroring Brian’s. “Please to meet ye Claire,” she said with sincerity before continuing, “sorry for my rabble of bairns, they’re loves really, but they havena seen Jamie in a month. They get verra excited to see their Uncle.”

 

Claire smiled at the woman in front of her who was small in stature, but was clearly fierce in spirit. Claire liked her immediately.

 

“It’s no bother, it’s a joy to see happy children. It’s not something I see a lot, to be honest, in my line of work.”

 

“Mam said yer a surgeon, right?”

 

“Yes, in Edinburgh. It’s both rewarding, taxing, and exactly what I meant to do with my life.”

 

“Well then, I ken where to go if any of us are ever in need of a surgeon,” she said with a smile that warmed Claire.

 

Jamie

 

Jamie meanwhile stood stock still, taking in what was happening. He was in shock to see his failed date standing in front of him, in his family home, chatting to his sister like they were old best friends. Part of him thought he would never see her again. While the other part of him hadn’t stopped trying to figure out what went wrong with her. In truth, she had been on his mind all week.

 

Incensed at his mother, she would be hearing from him as soon as he could get her alone, his gaze moved to his father to see if he was a co-conspirator. Brian’s face was resting in a pleasant grin but his involvement was not discernible from his look alone. They were all too much, every single Fraser of his blood, they were all out to get him.

 

The family one by one filled into the dining room, leaving Jamie still stuck standing in the middle of the room. Just as Claire turned to follow them, his senses were restored and he reached out to grab her arm, stopping her exit from the room.

 

The sizzle ran up her arm and straight to her brain, stopping her in place. Jamie felt a jolt as the same energy ran in the opposite direction straight to his chest. Both ignoring it, again, his tone turned deep and low as he addressed her.

 

“What are ye doin here? What happened to, ‘It’s best if we don’t meet again.’?” He said in a mock English accent.

 

“Your Mother invited me to see her studio since I’d never been to the Highlands before. I didn’t think she’d invite me to stay for dinner and I sure as hell didn’t know you or anyone else, for that matter, would be here.”

 

“You didna ken that I might be at my own family’s house for Sunday dinner?” He said with a little more edge on his voice than he meant to.

 

“I didn’t know I was to be invited to stay for dinner. And no, I didna ken that anyone did Sunday family dinners anymore, no parents, remember?” She spat out with a blade edged tongue  that sliced his tone in half.

 

Taken aback, he felt awful at her comment.  She had shared that fact with him during her oversharing session. He was able to see how vulnerable it still made her that he knew that. In his anger at his mother and overall rising emotion, he didn’t make the connection.

 

“I’m sae sorry Claire. I said more than I meant. I ken this is my mother’s doing. I shouldna take it out on ye. I’m not quite sure why we can’t be nice to each other. This is only the second time I’ve met you and we are throwing barbs at each other again. I canna make sense of it. I’m usually a nice person.”

 

“Me too,” Claire said quietly.

 

“Can we start over?” Jamie asked, “Friends?”

 

“Sure, friends,” she said, knowing full well that she was just making peace so she could eat and leave without further incident. Then she could put the Frasers far behind her.

 

Brian

 

Looking around the table at the assembled Frasers, Brian couldn’t help but notice that Claire fit like a missing puzzle piece. Maybe his wife was right. Eating and participating in the meal, but all the while, lost in his head surveying the subtleties of the interactions of the dinner.

 

He watched his wife and Claire at the other end of the table, in their own world and conversation. Jenny chimed in when she wasn’t wiping Kitty’s face. Across the table, wee Jamie sat next to his namesake. The child swung his legs so hard that his chair moved forward and back with the force. His sole focus was on his plate. Jamie and Ian were huddled together chatting about this and that, catching up like they didn’t speak every other day. Still thick as the thieves they had always been since childhood. Baby Ian sat in his father’s lap gazing up at the two friends with wonder in his eyes.

 

Then there was himself at the end of the table, accompanied on his right, by his shadow, Maggie. She full throatedly asked her normal barrage of questions. “Gran Da, who is the new lady? Why is she at dinner? Why does Donas no like me? Will I get a horse someday? Why canna children drink whisky? Why does Nanna Ellen paint? Can I paint? I don’t like carrots. Do you want my carrots?” Brian chuckled. Maggie’s questions drew him out of his wider observations in his head and back into the present. She was a smart one, the little lass, curious as the day is long.

 

Maggie’s questions sufficiently answered until the next round she blurted out, Brian began to watch his son. The lad had grown up to be the best of them. He had never been prouder of him. Exemplifying their ancient lines physically, it was his mind that Brian loved most. His lad had a head for business and always helped him with the farm, estate and the subsidiary businesses when he could. Jamie was his most trusted advisor, but his skill for writing was what filled him with a pride that was unmatched. It was as though Ellen’s talent had been transferred to their boy and came out in a different medium. It was a latent talent until his injury forced him to be on his stomach for months at a time, mostly in silence. Truth be told, it was a miracle that Jamie hadn’t died after being dragged by the horse for miles. His helmet thankfully saved his skull from being crushed, but the damage to his back would always be with him. The horse had been so spooked they had to shoot him to stop him dragging Jamie any further. A small consolation that Jamie had passed out upon impact and didn’t remember much of the incident. The recovery was another matter altogether.

 

Though more than a decade has passed since the incident,  Brian remembered the shock and pain of watching his son being dragged off as if it had just happened. He carried emotional scars from the event as his son carried both the emotional and the physical as a reminder that all can be lost in an instant. Jamie, once out of his mind with whisky, loosening his tongue, had admitted to his father that the scars made him self-conscious with women. It broke Brian’s heart into a million little pieces to hear the admission. His brain took a moment to catch up and find the words to say to his son, “When it’s the right woman, it’ll no matter lad. And you’ll just ken her when ye see her, like I did with yer Mam.”

 

As Brian’s memories danced at the careful consideration of his son sitting before him, he noticed Jamie inconspicuously watching Claire. If you blinked you would have missed it, but Brian knew his boy. Jamie was curious about the lass, regardless of his hiatus thing. Claire ignored the lad’s presence completely, but he noticed there was an energy, an invisible cord between them, barely visible, but forming nonetheless. Brian watched and decided to keep it to himself. His wife didn’t need any extra encouragement.

 

Claire and Ellen

 

Claire tore out of the driveway of Lallybroch faster than was appropriate for the kind welcome she had received from Ellen and Brian. If only their spawn had been the same. He got under her skin so fast it was like he was trying to set up camp there and start a war. Each word felt like a mole trying to burrow its way in and set free a vicious seed of doubt and rage. The conflicting feelings he released in her made her want to yell at the top of her lungs all the way home, so she did.

 

Hoarse by the time she got there, she noticed a text from Ellen while unlocking her door.

 

E: Claire thank ye for coming to visit. Sae sorry if things were awkward between the lad and ye. He wasna sure he was coming until ye were already at Lallybroch.

C:...(typing)

E: Truly, I hope it didna ruin our acquaintance. I’d quite like to keep in touch.

C:...(typing)

C: Ellen, thank you for inviting me to your house, showing me your sacred studio, inviting me for dinner, feeding me and all around being so kind open and loving towards me. I was surprised to see your son, as I had not expected to ever see him again. It seems that he and I cannot have a civil conversation. As much as I enjoy your kindness towards me and our conversations thus far, I think it is best if I go my own way. Perhaps our paths will cross again someday but this week has been mind bending for me and not in a good way. You are a beautiful human and I wish all Frasers nothing but the best.

E:...(typing) …(typing)

E: I understand Claire. Ye are a wonderful woman and I wish you the same….If you ever change your mind, I’d be happy for your acquaintance.

C: Thank you Ellen.

 

Claire threw her phone across her bed and flopped down face first overcome by the day. At least that is over she thought and drifted off into the deep of sleep.

 

Ellen and Jamie

 

Seconds after Claire pulled out of the estate, Jamie was yelling at his mother.

 

“How could ye Mam? I asked ye not to call her, and worse, ye actually invited her here?! What the hell?” he said, his ire increasing with each breath.

 

Ellen Fraser, never one to shrink from a battle, she was MacKenzie AND Fraser, just like her son, and matched him word for word.

 

“First, ye’ll no speak to me that way. Second, I like her, we get along. I didna ken if ye were really coming or not.”

 

“That’s a lie. Ye ken I tol’ ye I was coming when I talked to ye after my date with Claire. I said I was coming.”

 

“Must have forgotten then,” Ellen said flippantly in the way that only a mother can when she has been caught out in her own tales.

 

“Ye have embarrassed me over and over again this week. I’ll no stand for it. Inviting her here so she meets the whole family, hmmprrh iffrnn…” he said throwing his hands up in frustration knowing what kind of message it sent to Claire, given what she had told him about not having a family. He was furious at his Mam but a twinge of guilt also entered his stream of consciousness knowing how all of this must have made Claire feel.

 

“I’ll call her an apologize...”

 

“Ye’ll do no such thing. Leave it be. That poor woman probably wants naut to do with the Fraser clan ever again, and she’d be entitled to think so,” he spat at her. He grabbed his keys and jacket before turning back to her and taking a deep breath, “I ken ye mean well Mam, but this was way over the boundary. Don’t ever do this to me again,” he said furiously and walked out.

 

 

Ellen and Brian

 

Hearing the door slam behind Jamie, Brian walked over to his wife. He brought his hand up and down her back until it rested in the center of her upper back, drawing her in towards him. A deep sigh left Ellen as her arms encircled her husbands back, her head nestled into his chest. Home.

 

“It’s alright love, he’ll settle, but ye ken he’s right. Ye overstepped bringing that lassie here...as lovely as she is.”

 

“I ken, I ken, it wasna right. In truth, I do like her even if she’s no a match for him, which I ken she is. We had such a wonderful time in the studio and at the gallery the day we met. She feels like a daughter of my heart, I dinna ken how to explain it,” Ellen said defeated.

 

“I understand Elle. I feel it too, but ye canna push them before their time. Ye ken the timing is everything.”

 

Brian and Ellen settled into the sitting room and shared a whisky cuddled up together as they had for years. A deep sense of contentment at  the gift they had in each other and how precious it was, washed over them as Brian began to nibble on Ellen’s neck. He nudged her ear with his nose and whispered not so sweet nothings into her ear. The two with a perpetual strong desire for each other, their bond stronger than ever, fell into one another. A silent wish from each of them for the same love they shared to find their lad (since Jenny had already found her true match).

 

__________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

Chapter Text

 

The Artist’s Son - Chapter 9 - One Month Later

Claire

The one good thing to come out of the Fraser debacle was that it put Claire back into a more willing space to date (not that she had much time with her schedule). But simply being open to it created a shift in her and she realized how closed off she had been, even when she met Jamie. It had been a wake up call. 

 

Claire walked into The Signet Library with a renewed vigor of openness, ready to face high tea, and her next suitor. After a string of unmemorable dates over the last three weeks, finally one looked promising, or at least the location was. He was a history professor on sabbatical from Oxford doing research at the University of Edinburgh. Frank met her at the door taking her elbow to guide her as they were walked to their table.

 

Though she had lived in the city for years, she had never had tea in this storied place. Her eyes roamed the room taking in the shelves of books, the columns holding up the ceiling, and the spattering of tables. A smile played among her face until her eyes caught unmistakable red curls, and a partially showing clavicle. At that exact moment, steely blue eyes popped up. Jamie. Dammit.

 

Claire looked away as fast as possible but she knew he had seen her. Before she locked eyes with him, she noticed he was sitting with a man and a woman, papers strewn about the table. A business meeting perhaps. She wasn’t exactly sure what it was Jamie did for work since they never got that far in their limited conversations.

 

A gentle tug on her elbow brought her back from her distracted state as Frank tugged her along. She didn’t have to look to know that Fraser’s eyes were on her. She could feel them searing into her. Tea might be shorter than Frank expected.

 

Jamie

 

Jamie knew he would be an outright liar if he said he hadn’t thought about the sassenach over the last month, but to see her, here of all places, it was a shock. The fact that she was on the arm of another man sent an uncomfortable surge of emotion directly to his core. Jealousy.

 

The man looked like an uptight bore, but still Jamie couldn’t stop watching them. More than once John and Geneva had to call his attention back to their table. John was his agent and Geneva his publisher. The meeting was important. He had missed a deadline, and he had to convince them that he was indeed really writing, hence the pages on the table.

 

“Jamie man what’s gotten into you, do you need a minute?” John, not only his agent but his longtime friend asked reading his face.

 

“Naw, I’m fine, continue…” he said unconvincingly. Geneva picked up the conversation, laying out for the seventh time in their short meeting, the timeline for his latest futuristic fiction book.

 

Without warning he rose and said, “ye know what I DO need a minute, I’ll be right back.” Leaving John and Geneva completely flabbergasted, Jamie headed for the toilet after seeing Claire leave her table. This was the strangest meeting the two had ever had with Jamie. The writer wasn’t normally this erratic. Worry furrowed their brows and they put their heads together. John and Geneva  whispered cautiously about what was happening and whether their client and friend was stable.

 

Jamie and Claire

 

Stepping out of the posh washroom, Claire brushed down the front of her mid calf length, subtle polka dot pencil skirt. She lifted her eyes when she felt a presence. Jamie. He was leaning up against the wall, arms crossed, waiting for her.

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Hello to you too.”

 

“Well then?” She said in a fairly unkind manner, hands coming to rest on her hips in a fighting stance.

 

“I wanted to apologize…for my Mam, for Lallybroch, for our meeting, all of it.”

 

“Your mother already apologized,” she said unflinchingly.

 

“She what?! Christ, that woman, she’ll be the death of me. I told her not to contact ye again, let ye be. When was this?”

 

“The same night I left. We exchanged a few messages when I got home. I told her in no uncertain terms that I wished you all well but I didn’t want any part of anything Fraser.”

 

“Ifrinn…she texted you as soon as I was done yelling at her then,” he said becoming agitated which was of no consequence to Claire.

 

“I have to get back to my date. Thanks for your apology…I think.”

 

“Ye canna really be dating him. He looks so stuffy,” he said mockingly.

 

“It’s our first date if you must know,” Claire huffed.  

 

“Och good, well hopefully it’s your last. I wouldna want those pretty ears of yours to have to listen to that man for too long.”

 

“…well James Fraser, a disastrously confusing encounter as always. Goodbye.” She said whisking herself away as fast as she could.

 

Jamie rested his forehead against the wall letting it bounce a few times to knock some sense into him before returning to his meeting. He walked by a now empty table where Claire had been sitting with the bore. They had cleared out fast. He absentmindedly wondered what excuse she had used, letting his creative mind make up a story of the bore and Claire involuntarily.

 

Three Weeks Later

 

Jamie

 

Jamie had thought of Claire every day since he saw her at The Signet. The jealousy he felt grew every time he thought of her with that man, then it extended to other men. He was jealous at the mere thought of her with any other man. Once, almost convinced of his lunacy, he saw her from a distance across the street, walking back from the market. Claire was in her own world and didn’t see him, thankfully, but his heart shot into his throat seeing her greet an older distinguished looking man with a kiss on the cheek. Though he was headed in the same direction as her, albeit on the other side, he turned in the direction opposite his flat and walked at a brisk pace as far away from her as he could. His Mam had said they lived close but he hadn’t seen her in the neighborhood until now.

 

The Sassenach was putting a wrench in his hiatus. Instead of being free from constant thoughts of women, dating, and relationships, he found himself more consumed by her as the weeks went on. The unknown of her casting stories in his head that shouldn’t be written, but he wrote them in his head anyway.

 

Jamie wasn’t even sure he liked her, or wanted to date her, but there was something that had started to call to him at the Lallybroch dinner. It was subtle at first but the more he reflected on that dinner, it was like she fit. There was no awkwardness at the table except between the two of them from their fight just before sitting down. He had quietly watched her at the dinner. Her tenderly tucked curls trying to hide their wildness, the shimmering paleness of her skin, and the eyes that wouldn’t look at him. They had all started a silent siren song to him when he was sure his ears were shut.  

 

Seeing her at The Signet had been kismet, he was sure of it. The universe was trying to get them in the same space. As he had watched her walk away from the toilets, he realized he couldn’t stop looking at her arse and watching every movement she made until she was out of sight. If the jealousy alone hadn’t been a warning sign, that sure was.

 

The only problem was she hated him, that he was also sure of. For himself, he wasn’t sure what he wanted, but at the least he wanted to know more.

 

Two weeks later

 

Claire

 

Walking through The Meadows, Claire caught a pickup football game out of the corner of her eye. To be more specific a moving form caught her eye. As she got closer, it looked familiar but she couldn’t place why. Then she saw them…scars.

 

Faded more than the last time she had seen them, but they were unmistakable in the shirts and skins game, their owner having shed his shirt. She stepped closer, not wanting to be seen but needing to know if what she saw was her imagination or reality. As she did, she noticed that the owner of said scars had red hair instead of the ink black the owner used to have. It was in that exact moment of realization that he turned around. The face, belonging to James Fraser. Though she was not in his direct sight line, her audible gasp gave her away, and his eyes locked on hers. She had been made.

 

Her eyes glued themselves to the ground. She willed her feet to move at their fastest pace to rid her of another encounter with him, but she was frozen in place. Her mind was reeling to much to be able to speak. Before she could regain command of her limbs, she heard her name in the now familiar Scottish lilt. Invisible cement blocks weighed down each of her feet making movement impossible.

 

“Claire!” He yelled out trotting over, the game having finished.

 

“Hi Jamie,” she said without emotion or color in her face.

 

“Enjoy the game?” he asked her, his stately collarbone triggering an unconscious memory of her tongue on it. His bare chest, glistening with sweat, and moving from heavy breath up and down, hypnotized her further.

 

“I…I…was just passing by…stopped for a second when you saw me.”

 

He smirked at her obvious tall tale. “Did ye now?” Watch yourself Fraser, he thought to himself, not wanting to repeat the familiar refrain of their previous encounters.

 

She nodded her head without saying a word. “Unusual” he thought, her retorts were usually fire laced.

 

“I’m glad I ran into ye. I wanted to apologize again. I was no verra kind at The Signet.”

 

“You apologize an awful lot Mr. Fraser,” was all she could squeak out.

 

“Maybe, but only when it is deserved…and it is. Do ye think maybe we could start over?…Again?”

 

Claire’s mind flashed to the red cape, the clavicle, the dark hair, the glasses, the scars, the kiss that haunted her for years. The kiss that was so far away now, that she thought her brain had revised the history of its intensity. It couldn’t be…but maybe it could?

 

Softening slightly, she agreed. Giving him her number before scurrying off. If she had looked back she would have seen an elated James Fraser saying thank you to the universe for putting her in his path a third time in a month.

 

Jamie

 

Jamie couldn’t help but notice how much more strangely than usual Claire had acted with him before she practically ran off. But he didn’t pay it much attention since he finally got her number and wasn’t inadvertently a complete jerk to her. Small victories.

 

A creeping thought rose up from the recess of his mind…Was it the scars? Did she see the scars? I haven’t been worried about them in years. Surely she can’t care, she’s a doctor, she must have seen worse. Why is she so weird? Why do I care? Am I really going to call her?

 

Jamie pushed his thoughts back into their own black hole, grabbed his things and jogged back to his flat. He had another meeting with John and Geneva next week. He was determined to fix up some of the more obvious plot holes in his manuscript they had pointed to. Then there was the deadline for his piece on the already visible climate change effects in Scotland for The Scotsman and his section of 1001 Walks to Take Before You Die, featuring Scottish hill walks. He had plenty on his plate without Claire joining the fray. Plus he was still on hiatus, hopefully she remembered that, he thought, and then again, am I really entertaining this?

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading!

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 10 -  Memories 

 

Claire

 

Claire walked away from Jamie with as much calm as she could muster. As soon as she was sure she was out of sight, she broke out into a sprint needing the release of her feet pounding on the pavement.

 

Emotion coursed through her. As soon as she opened her front door, she burst into tears. The water mixing with the salt of the sweat on her cheeks. All of it came out, she didn’t hold back for a second. Inconsolable, her back against the door, she slid down, collecting her knees to her chest and shook with an ugly cry for the ages. An hour or so later, dehydrated, weak, and exhausted, she crawled to her kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of California Cabernet, she took out a hunk of Morangie Brie, freed a french bread-stick from her bread box and collapsed into her couch.

 

Claire ate and drank, as her mind wandered to the potentially life shattering revelation that had just occurred. Flush with wine, she replayed the memory that haunted her for years.

 

10 or so Years Earlier - Samhain

 

The University of Edinburgh was notorious for its Samhain parties. People went all-out. Claire being a stranger in a strange land didn’t want to miss out and her new friend Geillis was her entry into the exclusive party. Geillis had openly mocked her costume claiming that it was obscure, uptight, and not at all sexy. Claire disagreed, she thought it was fun, cheeky, and smart.

 

Claire lost Geillis within 10 minutes of entering the party. No doubt she got scooped up by whichever lad she was giving the time of day to that week. Alone and decidedly not receiving a good reception to her costume, she imbibed heavily. Mixing beer and whisky, it went straight to her head. It made her more sociable, but also fuzzy and light. She wandered around without a care, keeping a watchful eye for her friend, wondering if there was anyone worth talking to at the party. Casual conversations that didn’t go anywhere filled her next hour. She despised small talk.

 

A big, open room in the back of the house was her next destination. It was a sea of heads bobbing up and down to the intense nondescript beat pulsating through the room. All she wanted was an exit. Sharp elbows were thrown as she pushed her way to the door to let herself out to the garden. If she had looked up, she would have noticed a large man dressed as Superman/Clark Kent with a sharp gaze on her as she made her way across the room.

 

Free of the stuffy rooms of the party, she breathed in the late October chill. Letting it go straight to her bones, she hoped it would chill her booze induced buzz. Happy to be alone with her thoughts, save the clear sky and moonlight, she failed to hear the door open.

 

“I like yer costume,” a voice from nowhere said.

 

Claire’s head whipped around so fast her shoulder-length, bright red wig almost fell off.

 

“You do?”

 

“Sassenach, eh?”

 

“Yes, I guess so, people keep telling me so…you really like my costume? You know what it is?”

 

“Och aye, it’s not that far from where I grew up in the Highlands. I ken’d what it was as soon as I saw ye pushing through the room.”

 

“My friend said it was silly and not sexy. I said what’s not sexy about a fae inside the stones of Craigh Na Dun? She didn’t get it.”

 

“I get it, and I love it, verra creative…tho’ I’m no sure why ye assume a fae of the stones would have red hair?”

 

“Because it’s Scotland and everyone has red hair…oh well, except you I guess…but why wouldn’t the fae?”

 

“I dinna fault yer observations. Very well put together. Do ye ken what I am?”

 

“Isn’t it obvious? You are Clark Kent.”

 

“Verra good fae of the stones…but who am I now?” he said tearing off the black rimmed glasses and whipping his shirt off to reveal a giant S on his chest and a red cape around his shoulders. 

 

Claire giggled, wondering how drunk this man was. Her giggle was all the encouragement he needed.  Throughout the rest of the night he would run away, come back to her with a replenished drink and re-introduce himself alternately as one character and then the other. Each time he did, he pretended he was meeting her for the first time and made a big show of it. It amused Claire to no end. It was just the right amount of silly and geeky that she needed to put her at ease as they got to know each other. It wasn’t long before they found his room.

 

Both tipsy, him more than her, he showed her around his space before he swallowed one of her giggles with his mouth with no warning. She was shocked at first. She had mistakenly believed that this very attractive man  had been humoring her all night and couldn’t possibly be interested in her.

 

Claire couldn’t miss the energetic shock that ran between them as their tongues were introduced to each other for the first time. Pulling away, each mouth agape, time froze for a second as they each held their breath. A powerful current existed between them and they didn’t even know each other’s names.

 

Getting Claire out of her costume was a ridiculous exercise. The cardboard that surrounded her was glued shut in one piece. She had stepped into it like a dress putting it over her head. The material at the top was sewn together with the cardboard, making her a prisoner of sorts. The other “stones” rested on a wire surrounding her (as the main stone).  Superman tried to free her by pulling it over her head the way it had gone on. She got stuck and with all the wiggling and they both fell onto the floor with a thud and a fit of giggles.

 

The fall knocked her wig loose and when she realized, she became self conscious. She ran her hand over her closely shorn head. She hadn’t been without a wig in anyone’s presence save Geillis and her Uncle since she got back from Cambodia at the end of the summer.

 

The man reached out to still her hand as she rubbed her head in a blanket of emotion. He noticed her body language even in his intoxicated state. His lips found her recently shaved head. Kissing her tenderly, his forehead and nose nuzzled the short hair down the side of her head as his mouth found her ear. Breathing in her ear, before pulling back, he looked directly at her.

 

Cracking under his intense gaze and touch, she blurted out, “I shaved it at my Uncle’s archaeological dig at the end of the summer in Cambodia. There was a lice outbreak and in a fit of fury, insanity and rabid scratching, I rid myself of all of my hair. It was impulsive, but it felt great at the time. Then I shaved it again in frustration of it growing too slow last week. ”

 

“Does it bother ye? Would ye rather put the wig back on?”

 

“No, it doesn’t bother me with you,” she said, the moment turning serious.

 

“Well I hope this won’t bother you either…,” he stood to his  full height and took his shirt off revealing a back full of inflamed red scars creating a patchwork across his back, “I was dragged by a horse for miles. They had to shoot it to get it to stop…I’ve been out of the hospital almost a year now. Finally feeling myself again.”

 

Without a sound, she stood and went to his back. She traced a finger over each scar. Kissed each scar, then licked each scar. She was never quite sure what came over her, but what came over him was an intense vulnerability that led into lust. When she got to his lower back, her tongue traced around his front to his firm, muscled abdomen, before dragging itself up to his nipple and to the exquisite clavicles he possessed.

 

The sound that left him was something she was never sure was human. And in her mind it made sense, this person was not of this world. She already knew their connection couldn’t be put into words. Their lips met again and he was successful this time at tearing off the costume, finding black leggings and a gray long sleeve shirt underneath.

 

Her remaining layers flew off as they devoured each other. There was no hesitation, it felt too right to go slow. Their joining was rough, sensual and impatient. Neither able to believe what was happening, or how it felt, or what it meant. 

 

——————————————————————-

 

Superman woke up with a raging hangover…alone. With no sign of her, he thought he had dreamed the whole thing, except he looked down at his floor and saw the remnants of her ripped cardboard costume. Only then did he know it had been real.

 

______________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 11 - Superman 

 

Claire

 

After a week, Claire gave up hope that Jaime would call. It was a hope she didn’t know she was harboring at the shores of her heart.  In that week, Frank called for a second date. Claire was surprised, given the way she had rushed them out of their first date. She barely remembered the story she had made up and told him. Her mouth produced a “yes” even though she hadn’t given the man a second thought since their first date. “At least he was asking,” she thought to herself. 

 

Preparing for her date with Frank, she barely tried. She looked nice enough, but didn’t spare any effort. Bouncing a particularly coiled curl repeatedly as she got ready, her mind drifted to all the things she was trying to ignore - electrical currents, a shock of skin, a red cape, black rimmed glasses, confusing hair color, scars, a luscious tongue, rectus abdominis , a mother not of her blood, a family that wasn’t her own but felt like home, a man she could barely have a civil conversation with - it was all too confusing. Down it all went into the vault of her soul as Claire desperately tried to forget the combination and slam the door shut.

 

Frank was as boring as she remembered, no, maybe worse. She could appreciate the academic arts and history as much as the next person, but she had found the width of her linguine more interesting than him. When his lips pressed to hers in a goodnight kiss, she realized they had been on two different dates. He had been on a date where he had a great time with her. She, on the other hand, had been on date that was like watching paint dry waiting every second for it to end. Purely for research, she kissed him back, the dry spell of her lips coming to an end. She was still thirsty, his kiss making her parched for something real he couldn’t provide. A polite goodnight should have been the end of it, but he called again when no one else did. Claire saw him a third time, giving it the three date college try. The man was simply dull and a big nope in her book.

 

The night after her third and last date with Frank, Claire scanned her contacts looking for a name she hadn’t seen in a while, Geillis, her college friend. Geillis and Claire kept in touch but not regularly. They had the type of friendship where you can pick up where you left off. Their lives had traced different paths once they graduated and though they both lived in the same city, they rarely saw each other. If asked, both would still say they were close. Claire wondered exactly how long it had been since they last spoke as she pressed her name to start the call.

 

Geillis, now a mother of five, always picked up the phone like it was the last call to the outside world from a closing wormhole in the universe. Hearing it was Claire, her tone shifted. In a second she could have easily been college Geillis all over again, giving Claire advice both solicited and not, on a variety of topics. It was good to hear her voice, Claire thought.

 

After the requisite catch up, Claire broached the reason for her call.

 

“Geillis, do you remember when I got back from Cambodia, I had shaved my head?”

 

“How could I forget? We bought you a new colored wig every week. No one could pick you out of a crowd because you looked so different every time they saw you. I almost killed you when you saved it the second time”

 

Remembering all too well the experiment of shedding herself of a western societal norm for females and how it was received, she breezed past the memory and said “ Right, well, do you remember the Samhain party we went to? I was dressed as a fae in the stones?”

 

“Oh gawd, that awful costume, it was a miracle ye got anyone to look at ye that night, never mind touch ye,” Geillis groaned.   

 

Silence fell on the call long enough that Geillis thought the line went dead.

 

“...I...I...think I re-met him….” Claire whispered.

 

“Who, Superman?”

 

“It sounds so bad when you say it like that.”

 

“Well, ye ken ye never told me his name.”

 

“I didn’t know his name,” Claire said sheepishly.

 

“Superman then, does he look the same?” Geillis relayed with the curiosity of someone who had heard the story many times before.

 

“Well, no. Not at all. Or not what I remember from that night. I think it’s him because of a distinguishing feature...scars on his back.”

 

With that, the whole story tumbled out of her, the set up, Ellen, The Signet, not being able to have a civil conversation, all of it.  Claire was gasping for air by the end. Geillis, never at a loss for words, was silent for several minutes.

 

“I don’t know what to do. It was so long ago. I know he doesn’t know its me. He probably had so many one night stands at University. He probably doesn’t even remember. And he didn’t call after that night even though I left my number. He didn’t call then or now. I’m at a loss as to why he’s shown up in this way,” Claire said tearing through the words at an almost incoherent pace.

 

“Ah back to yer “everything happens for a reason” is it then Claire?” Geillis mocked.

 

“Life has circuits and cycles Geillis, you know this. Things come back around for a reason. To teach you something, to show you you’ve learned something or to stay.”

 

“Christ, ye went to too many fortune tellers on the road with yer Uncle Claire. It made that scientific brain of yers soft in this department.”

 

“I just...it doesn’t make sense Geillis. How could it really be him? After all these years? I don’t know what to do with myself...and he hasn’t called yet. Should I call Ellen? Get his number?” Claire said, exasperated.

 

“Claire I ken ye, the emotion is high, why don’t you let it settle for a bit. Revisit it when your head is calmer. I dinna ken what ye should do, it’s one hell of twisted situation, but I ken ye will know better yerself when yer emotions have cooled. Take a few days and then decide.”

 

Even though Geillis didn’t have the answer, Claire felt better, and took her friends advice. But that didn’t stop her from tossing and turning all night reliving the night she had spent with a gorgeous man who she thought was too good to be true.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 12 - Hiatus Ends 

 

Jamie

 

Jamie took the last month of his hiatus to really consider what he wanted out of his life in the realm of the romantic relationship. Though Claire had been on his mind, he stayed stubbornly committed to his hiatus. The written word, as always, was his outlet and best friend (aside from Ian), giving him insight into his own experience and psyche.

 

Anytime Claire entered his mind, which happened with increasing frequency over the last month of his hiatus,  he wrote about it. He wrote about it in exquisite, tortured, miniscule, detail. Free writing from his consciousness without censoring or editing, adjectives exemplifying the textures and contours of her skin flowed out of his mind effortlessly. New colors were created to describe her hair and eyes. The lush, plump nature of her lips hijacked his mind for minutes without him noticing. Hands hovered with swift motion over the keyboard, stopping only when thoughts redirected words to feelings he hadn’t felt in years.

 

Jamie called Claire one week after the end of his hiatus. Her tone was surprised while also being dismissive, a defense mechanism perhaps. Given the time to think about his interactions with Claire, he realized how defensive they had both been in their own ways. It was something that they needed to cut through like a thicket to get to the real beauty of a rose. He had become sure there was something underneath it for them, after reflection on his own behavior.  

 

The conversation ended with an invitation to her flat for dinner. “Not a neutral ground to start fresh on,” he thought, but he took the opportunity anyways seeing it as the peace offering it was. The intimate space of a person’s home was not open to just anyone and he felt encouraged that she was going to let him in a little. Silently praying that this was her way of creating a détente.

 

Claire

 

Claire, working all day, had suggested Jamie bring over some take away. It was an easy way for her to have control of the situation, cooking was too intimate. A restaurant was often hard to leave quickly in the event of another disaster. Throughout her rounds, Claire prepared a list of questions in her head. Ordered from seemingly obscure to direct. They rested on the tip of her tongue prepared to be released at the right time once he arrived. This interaction would be different she told herself.

 

Still in her scrubs from the hospital, she opened the door in a haze of curls and pheromone laced sweat. Her nerves were heightened and she could feel herself buzzing with a rising anxiety. Going over the questions and events in her mind hindered her ability to move her feet when she opened the door and saw him. Upon first sight his curls were much more tame than hers, shorter, groomed, and lightly product infused . A slightly tighter than necessary black tee enveloped his torso. Jeans just an inch too low, hung at his waist, belt purely for decoration. The spicy smell of curries and naan wafted up out of the take away containers and he was on time.

 

She had considered backing out. Saying she had a bad day and could they reschedule but he was already there. He seemed happy to be invited into her flat. Confusion settled in as he walked around poking at all her things as she took out the take-away containers and plates. He didn’t say much but she felt vulnerable with him looking through her things. Claire knew he was silently passing judgement on each knick knack, book, throw pillow and floor lamp.  

 

The conversation over curries and naan was cordial at best. When he arrived, Claire was struck by the notion that since his mother had set them up, no normal or extended conversation had been exchanged. Starting over so to speak, a conversation about the mundane was the place to start. Thankful for the message the type of food sent, the man was not trying to get into her bed. She relaxed slightly.

 

Half way through the food, Claire knew she was going to need something to loosen her tongue and awkwardness. She grabbed a few beers from the fridge. Jamie took his eagerly, Claire sensing his same need. She made sure their fingers did not touch when she passed him the beer or the food. She gave him a wide berth not wanting any distractions from her main objective: information.

 

Jamie

 

The evening overall seemed to be going well and the conversation flowed more easily with the more beer they consumed. But a tension remained over the space and their interactions. Unsure of the reason for the tension and uncertainty dancing about the room, Jamie decided to share his findings from his dating hiatus. It was his way of starting another apology. He launched into an explanation of the whole scenario with more depth than his original overshare at The Empty Tin. Now that he had even more information and had come out on the other side of the hiatus without breaking it, he felt he had figured some things out. Things he could share with Claire in this restart of theirs.

 

Claire seemed to soften at the segway into the topic, as though she had been waiting for it to come up.

 

As Jamie spilled out his dating hiatus finds, her mind was consumed by her questions.

 

Scars. How did you get them? Sexual history. Have you ever slept with someone without knowing their name first? How many one night stands have you had? Have you ever dressed up for Samhain? Have you ever dressed as superman for a party?

 

“Don’t ye agree?…Claire?”

 

“Hmm, sorry what?”

 

“Were ye listening?”

 

“I…yes…but I…spaced for a second…say that last part again…” she stammered out, a deep flush rising north on her face.

 

“I said, there’s no reason to spend time on useless dates if there is no connection at our age. That’s why I called, ye ken, even though we have barely had a civil conversation, there is something that is drawing me to you. I ken it doesn’t make sense, but I think we shouldna let it pass us by. Maybe explore it, if yer willing.”

 

Claire was speechless. Not only had she not heard ANYTHING he had said as he droned on, but the part he had repeated, floored her. Any composure she had found, melted around her and seeped into the floor. She had to tell him. This was the moment. He had opened a massive window into his thinking and she had to ask her questions.

 

“I have some questions,” she said with a quirk of her head and a flash of mischief in her eyes.

 

“Aye, ye must…ye can ask me anything,” he said with sincerity.

 

He wasn’t exactly sure where this was going, but he was determined to stay open and not get defensive…again. If he was serious about exploring things with Claire, and in his mind he was, he had to stay in a space where he didn’t write everything off as a disaster, giving up too early.  Listening and keeping his temper steady was key.

 

Claire

 

Without much preamble, she launched in and hoped for the best.

 

“I noticed your scars when I saw you at The Meadows,” she said nodding to his back as he visibly recoiled from her question. “I’m a Doctor and you’ll have to forgive my medical curiosity…I can see you don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Sorry, I was just surprised. “Tis no what I thought ye were going to say, ye ken,” he said shrugging noncommittally, “It happened a long time ago, I can talk about it.”

 

Claire’s eyes locked his and focused completely on him, dying for his answer that would help her seamlessly move into her urgent follow up questions.

 

Jamie recounted the whole tale, full with detailed dates, missing university, time in the hospital, starting to write while injured, and the emotional turmoil that followed including his fear with women.

 

“Truth be told, I was a virgin when it happened. It made me not want to date anyone for a long time after, never mind bridge the virginity conversation. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the disfigurement. It doesna bother me so much now. They have faded a lot and I dinna think about them much.”

 

“But you did eventually bridge the virginity gap?” She asked figuring it was a good way into her other list of questions.

 

“Are you asking me about my first time?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Jamie looked at her curiously. People didn’t usually ask about sexual histories unless they planned on becoming part of it.

 

“Well this conversation has turned, has it not?” He asked without waiting for an answer. “I was back to University, after all the time in the hospital. The surgeries, the doctors appointments, the therapy, all of it was finally behind me. In honesty, it was a chance thing, no somethin I planned. It unfolded so naturally. The house I was in living at the time, threw a big Samhain party. I dressed as Superman. Part way through the party, I noticed a lass and sought her out after realizing she was on her own looking uncomfortable. I wanted her to feel at home in my home for some reason. We got to talking and it was one of the easiest conversations I had ever had. Laughing, joking, poking fun at each other, it was light and fun and I hadn’t felt that light since before my accident.”

 

Claire’s breath had stopped. She had known it was him, but to hear the reality of it was completely mind boggling. Never mind the virginity part, which she was just learning for the first time. With all of her might, she stilled herself into a statue and let him continue. She was riveted, even though she had been there. To hear it from his perspective was almost voyeuristic.

 

“We spent the rest of the night together.  I ended up showing her my room and without much discussion or trying, we fell into each other.  I willna lie, it is still one of the best sexual experiences of my life, nay, simply one of the best experiences period.”

 

“What happened to her? Were you ever together again?”

 

“This will sound bad, ye ken, but I dinna even know her name. She was gone by the time I woke in the morning. There was no sign of her, no way to contact her. I never saw her again but it is a memory I cherish, she was truly lovely.”

 

In that moment, ever other question Claire had went flying away into the abyss of unasked questions, never to be heard from again. Adapting to the conversation, she went a different route.

 

“Even with the shaved head?” Claire said in a whisper.

 

Jamie’s eyes shot up to hers, “Wha..what did  you just say?”

 

“I said, even with the shaved head?” she said more confidently.

 

Jamie’s brain grasped to find something that was real. Anything that was more real than moment he was in. It couldn’t be, it simply couldn’t be. He felt like he was falling. His head spun dizzy.

 

“No…no…ye canna know that,” he gasped out.

 

“Oh but I do, don’t I,” she teased her gaze laser sharp into his.

 

“Ye canna be…”

 

“Och aye, but I believe I am,” she mocked. Finally about to let it all out, she felt free and flirtatious, “And I did leave my number.”

 

Jamie’s hands came to cover his mouth. It was too much. He felt out of his body. This had to be fate at work.

 

_____________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 13 - Clarity 

 

Jaime and Claire

 

Jaime stood up and began pacing around the apartment. Not the reaction Claire was expecting after she heard his perspective of that night so many years ago. His hands rifled through his hair over and over again, making him look like Einstein once he stopped playing with it.

 

Trying to regain a modicum of internal composure herself, Claire sat still and watched him.  While Jaime was outwardly unsettled, Claire’s emotions rested internally, playing themselves out between her what if thoughts. 


She was still grappling with the idea that she had taken the man’s virginity without knowing it. Her mind traced pathways back to that night and she confirmed, there was nothing about that night that had shown any indication that he had not been with a woman in that way before. That alone was messing with her head, never mind the connection that night, or the few times she had touched him since they “reconnected.” The physical electrical current between them made her whole body vibrate regardless of how much she tried to ignore it.

 

A deep sigh escaped Jaime as his feet carried him back over to the couch where Claire’s watchful eyed had been following him back and forth.

 

Jaime sat on the edge of the ottoman in front of her. He brought his steely blues to her golden browns.

 

“Claire…I dinna ken what to say. I am well and truly shocked. Ye ken, my whole world feels like it just shifted. What happens now? I don’t know what to do, or even say,” he shrugged, looking for guidance through the minefield this situation was sure to be.

 

“Well I’ve had more time to absorb this than you, so, maybe you should take some time. I suspected when I saw the scars at the football game, but I didn’t know for sure until 10 minutes ago. Still though, I had time to think about it and prepare myself for you coming here, you didn’t…except for the virginity part, I obviously didn’t know that…” she said as measured as she could.

 

Though Claire had alternately been attracted to, hated, and liked the man since his Mam set them up, she felt an overwhelming desire to kiss him, but didn’t want to tell him that. Her curiosity was rising which is why she gave him an out.

 

“It was one night Jaime, and it was more than a decade ago. We are not those two people, regardless of what we shared that night. It is not something guaranteed to be still present, especially given our interactions recently. Sooo…I think you should kiss me…you know…if you want to…as an experiment” she said regulating the shake in her voice that presented itself unexpectedly.

 

Jaime didn’t hesitate, simply leaned over and placed his lips on hers like it was part of their daily routine. The tingling sensation permeated their skin. The spark shot through both of them as he tilted his head and licked her bottom lip, requesting entry. Claire didn’t hesitate. Her mouth opened. Her tongue found his in a tango, and he groaned at the first touch. The kiss, soft and fluid for the first few seconds, turned passionate without warning. Jaime’s hands reached over and pulled Claire onto the ottoman with him, resting her in his lap. His wide hands brought her closer to his body. Claire’s hands came to his hair, giving him an unconscious scalp massage, adding to his Einstein hair.

 

Aware of his hardening and getting lost in her, he pulled back. Her eyes stayed closed for a breath, lips flushed, taking it in when he spoke.

 

“So…uh…what do ye think? Still there?” He asked with a smirk and then a full blown laugh.

 

They both dissolved into giggles. It was laughable because it was obvious in every way that whatever it was that was between them, was still there, and always would be.

 

———————————————————

 

Jaime and Claire spent the rest of the night really getting to know each other for once. Between their one night stand, the date at The Empty Tin and their other interactions since, they didn’t know much about each other.

 

They quickly found that touching each other in some way - hands, knees, head on shoulder, snuggled up together - made it easier to share, be open and be themselves. It was an odd relief for both of them. The defensive walls that each had used to block the other out, crumbled at the skin to skin contact.

 

Hours passed without so much as a glance at a phone or a clock. Only when Jaime stood to use the toilet, did either of them realize they were well into the wee hours of the night. Jaime returned and found himself loathe to leave but knew it was proper.

 

“Sassenach, this has been magical. I am still astonished, ye ken, but I should leave you to sleep. Can I take ye to dinner tomorrow? A proper date?”

 

“Stay,” she mustered out, “and yes to dinner too.”

 

“I canna stay, it wouldna be right. I don’t live far, it’s an easy walk,” he said kicking himself internally at refusing her anything.

 

“It wouldna be right,” she said mocking him in a horrible Scottish accent, “Why wouldn’t it be right? I took your virginity for godsake. You can sleep on the couch if you need to protect your virtue.  It’s too late to be roaming around the streets of the city, regardless of your imposing size.”

 

Feigning shock, drawing his hand to his heart as his mouth hung open, “My virtue?” he cackled, “I dinna want te rush things Claire. This whole thing seems too unreal and I am afraid to mess it up again, truly.”

 

He wasn’t wrong. Claire suspected if he stayed, she would have a very hard time letting him sleep on the couch and keeping her hands off him. The walls broken down, her defensive armor in a pile by the bin, she was fully open to him.  No matter what winding path they took to get to that point, she was stripped down to her base emotions and she knew she would let him have her completely.

 

Each of Jaime’s feet shifted, almost on their own as he weighed the decision. Then his feet then refused to move at all. He couldn’t break himself away and agreed to sleep on her couch.

 

Claire settled him onto the couch after much protest, saying it would be fine, they could share, but he held strong. His massive frame didn’t fit on the couch, legs poked over the edge, but he took the space she gave him anyways. She handed him a bright blue fleece blanket and a pillow but then she lingered.

 

“Well goodnight to you then Jaime,” Claire said, waiting for him to change his mind about sharing her bed to sleep.

 

“Goodnight to you Claire,” Jaime whispered trying not to give her the lustful eyes he knew he was wearing.

 

Jaime stripped off his shirt, and jeans then hopped under the blanket as fast as he could, just in case Claire came back in. He wasn’t sure how it had happened but in the space of this one night, he had gone from attracted to and curious about Claire, to a teenage boy barely able to keep his erection at bay. It could be the memory of his first time playing with him but he suspected it was their kiss and the ease of conversation once they both stopped stubbornly resisting. Maybe it was simply that he now realized how incredible she was in every way. Getting to know her only made him want her more.

 

Lost in thought, he eventually drifted off after a half hour. An hour later, he woke as something warm hit his chest. Claire had climbed under the blanket and was resting her head on his chest. Without thought, his arms wrapped around her like they had laid like that a thousand times before. But Claire didn’t settle, it was clear she was trying to wake him up.

 

“Claire,” he mumbled half asleep, “what are ye doin?”

 

“Learning the muscles of your chest,” she said like it was normal before planting a very wet kiss and a lick on his sternum eliciting a muffled groan.

 

“Sassenach, I thought we were going to sleep?”

 

“I can’t sleep. I’m too excited you’re still here. Come lay with me?” she asked before correcting herself, “I mean to sleep, come sleep in my bed to sleep.”

 

Jaime lifted his head and chest to look at her. He caught a glimpse down her shirt before his eyes met hers.

 

“Aye, but only because I dinna fit on this wee couch,” he mumbled. 

 

Shifting to get up, Claire led him by the hand into her room to stand in front of her bed.

 

“Which side do you sleep on?” she asked curiously.

 

“I’ll sleep wherever you’d like me to Sassenach, but usually the left.”

 

“Good, I sleep on the right,” she smiled.

 

Both a little asleep, a little bit shy and a little bit horny, they climbed into bed. Without a word they settled into a comfortable snuggle, feeling at home and they really did sleep.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

Chapter 14 is a few days a way, I have to fix something up on it. :) 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 14 - Good Morning 

 

Jamie and Claire

 

Jamie and Claire had gone to sleep that night intending to stay separate, without touching. It was too soon. Too much had happened. Jamie was worried about messing everything up again. Claire was trying to honor Jamie’s wishes while trying not to jump him.

 

They woke up entangled anyways. The invisible cord that had begun to form between them on their first night together all those years ago, had frayed over time. One single strand at a time had started to repair itself with each meeting in the present. Through the night, the tether grew stronger, tightening, and drawing them ever closer together.  Bound together on the cosmic level.

 

Claire woke fully wrapped in Jamie’s arms, his thumb gently rested at the underside of her breast. She dared not move and wake him. What she didn’t know, was that Jamie was awake and freaking out as much as she was at how intimately they had woken up (never mind his obvious, deep enjoyment, of the position they found themselves in). Claire decided to try to shimmy out of his arms, but as soon as she moved, he unconsciously pulled her back. It took him a second to realize what he had done.

 

Claire rested peacefully in the embrace, relishing his arms for a moment, and then rolled over to face him.

 

“Hi,” she said in a shy, almost embarrassed voice, looking up at him through her matted eyelashes.

 

“Good Morning, Claire,” Jamie said formally, revealing his nerves, “Sorry I pulled ye back in…I…I ken this was supposed to be a platonic sleep. I dinna ken what happened,” his said, with a shrug in his voice.

 

“It’s ok…I liked it…waking up wrapped in your body,” she admitted, scooching closer to him and tentatively pressed her lips to his.

 

Laying on their sides, the sensual kiss they shared naturally evolved into something more lusty than either had anticipated. By the time they came up for air, Claire had slung her leg up over his hip in an effort to get closer to him. In doing so, she unconsciously began to grind into him, making him harder.

 

Pulling back, Jamie rested his forehead on Claire’s and dragged a finger across her jawline, “Ah dhia, Claire, I’m sorry.”

 

“Fraser, are you apologizing again? What is with you and apologies? What are you apologizing for now?” Claire asked with serious curiosity since she hadn’t seen nor felt anything wrong with a single thing that had happened since she opened her eyes.

 

“I…ah….my situation,” he said, looking down at his body, like a hard-on was a sin.

 

Situation? The fact that your body wants mine is NOT a situation, it’s fantastic. I want you just as bad,” she said firmly, before crashing back into his mouth.

 

Jamie flipped her over, and hovered above her. His head dipped to let his tongue slather across her neck. His pelvis ground slowly over hers, little sounds escaping her mouth.

 

Without thought, her legs wrapped around him, trapping him in her orbit. Chest arching and lifting at the slow methodical nature of him dragging his body against hers, her mouth suctioned to the curve of his neck. Claire’s teeth and tongue found purchase on his skin, as a deep, guttural groan found its way into the ether.

 

Jamie, knowing he was in deep danger of breaking his promise to himself, tried to pull away, but she had him locked there. He had promised himself he would do it right; take her out and treat her like she deserved. His promise buckled with every nibble his skin received from her persistent mouth.

 

“Cl…Claire…humpphgrruhhh…we have to stop…,” he managed to grumble out, his pelvis still moving against hers. Pressing into his legs and arms, he tried to push himself up off her, but she came with him, attached like a cub hanging on to its mother for dear life.

 

“I’m serious, Claire,” Jamie said, removing her with kindness. Though the greater kindness to both of them probably would have been to press himself as deep into her as he could.

 

Claire pouted, “What’s the difference? We’ve already been together. A dinner is somehow going to give us permission to devour each other?”

 

“Claire, we barely know each other. Last night we learned a lot, but it’s too early to sleep together. We don’t know if we like each other as people, or if this is reliving something from the past. ”

 

“We did just sleep together,” she said with an unintended sharpness.

 

“Ye ken fine well what I mean lass,” he said folding his arms across his chest.

 

“It’s not from the past Jamie, and you know it. This is right here, right now. What is this really about? Are you afraid?”

 

“Yes, I’m afraid. Over the last month, I’ve grown an attachment to you, and that was before I even knew you were ‘fae of the stones.’ My attachment doesn’t make sense, since, I barely ken a thing about ye, and I already don’t want to lose you. I want you more than I thought possible. I want you so bad, I can scarcely breathe. So yes, I’m afraid.”

 

His honesty dismantled Claire. She couldn’t imagine anyone else being so honest in this situation - mostly nude, cock barely constricted in boxer briefs, still panting after an intense make-out session. It was frankly unheard of, and it made her listen.

 

Both on their knees facing each other, she reached for his hand and brought it to her heart, “Me too,” she said quietly, dropping her gaze to her heart.

 

Thinking that was the end of the conversation, Jamie shifted his weight to get off the bed. Claire, had other ideas. Catching him as he shifted, she playfully pushed him back onto the bed and emblazoned pure fire on his lips. His arms wrapped around her, disobeying his rational brain’s orders to separate. Within a breath, they were right back to where there were before his admission, insatiable for each other. Clawing at each other.

 

Heat radiating from both of them, she tore her lips away.  Her tongue trailed a wet path down his body. Teeth grappled with his nipple, eliciting a groan, and deep grab of her arse.

 

Lifting her head, she said, “Well, we can take it slow if you want, but I’m not going to leave you hanging,” she smirked.

 

With that, she swiftly dropped her head into his still boxer brief clad crotch. Rubbing her head, face, and chin over his whole groin, teasing him with singular cruelty. Floating in a sea of sensation and lust, he barely noticed that she had taken his waistband in her teeth, dragging them down. Realizing what was happening only when she licked his entire length, he gave up. He was powerless to stop her. Not only did he want her, badly, he hadn’t been with anyone in ages with the dating hiatus and the drought before. He was at his edge just at the mere fact of being mostly disrobed with her.

 

“Ah dhia, Claire, don’t, I dinna want ye to…Christ…dinna stop,” he muttered out.

 

Coming up for air after a deep intake of his cock, her hands fondled his balls as she looked up at him and said, “What was that you said? You want me to stop?” she teased coquettishly, before reattaching her mouth and working him into further frenzy.

 

Feeling his body tense and exhibit a slight tremor, she knew he was close, so she was shocked when he did finally stop her. Jamie forcefully grabbed her and brought her up to his mouth, kissing the life out of her. Without thought, she brought her hands back to him, and he did the same to her finding a home in her warmth. They stroked each other like teenagers in the back of a car, their mouths fused together as if welded into one.

 

So enraptured in their kiss and touch, neither one realized how close they were or each other were to the top of the mountain, until Jamie abruptly turned away from her and released into the sheets. Claire, completely unaware what was happening because of her own powerful waves, closed her eyes and floated above her body until she heard Jamie’s voice.

 

“Sassenach, I’m sae sorry,” he said embarrassed.

 

“Huh? What for?” Claire said, barely out of her haze.

 

“Yer sheets, I…uh…what a mess.”

 

“You are joking right?”

 

“Nae, I didn’t realize what was happening, and I didn’t want to come on you the first time we were together, it wouldna be right…so much for taking it slow…” he said laying back, ruffling his hair with his hand, and brushing it over his face.

 

“I appreciate the sentiment…but you have heard of a washing machine before right?” She said sarcastically, leaning over to lick his clavicles, as a laugh filled his belly.

 

———————————————————————-

 

Jamie and Claire became inseparable after that night. The resistance gone, they reclaimed their original connection and broadened it with the dexterity of an experienced long term couple. More nights were spent together than apart, and it didn’t take long for them to fall for each other.

 

There were many conversations about their near second missed connection. The first being Samhain and the second being the blind date (and subsequent random meetings). Each marveled at the universe constantly trying to put them together regardless of their defense mechanisms pulling them apart. Love was stronger than any defenses in the end.

 

______________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 15 - Dating 

 

Though they didn’t have much in common in the normal sense, him spending his days writing while Claire spent her days cutting, they shared core values and wanted the same things out of life. Top of the list was a committed, monogamous relationship. They were both looking for a partner to share their life with. The ups and downs, the everyday mundane things, new experiences, and children, they both wanted children.

 

Their first dinner date, was a marathon not a sprint, not unlike their initial courtship. Lasting into the wee full moon lit hours of the morning, it culminated with Jamie carrying Claire to her bed after she fell asleep mid-sentence on her couch.

 

The night air was tinged with warmth and the freshness of it enveloped them as Jamie suggested a digestive walk. Miles and hours later, they had walked a significant portion of the city and ended up on the Salisbury crags, guided only by the moonlight.

 

With all their walls finally crumbled beneath their feet, crunching into dust with every word and step,  the conversation was easy and fluid. Claire asked Jamie how he became a writer, while praising him and his talent. He narrated his experience of becoming a writer a only a writer could, with deep descriptive language, writing her a story out loud in the process. He remembered scribbling words a lot as a child. Whenever he was in nature, or out riding a horse in his early teen years, he always carried a small pad of paper and a writing utensil. But around 15 or so, he said, he stopped for some reason, giving his focus more to his schooling and sports. Writing didn’t show up again until he was in the hospital and he needed a way to process his internal experience. Writing was the natural fit for him and the words reappeared as if they had never left.  It wasn’t a hidden talent so much as a forgotten one, like so many people’s creative talents.

 

Jamie asked Claire every question that came to his mind without a filter. Deep laughter erupted when Jamie asked how many boyfriends she had had. “A measly two,” she said, as if they didn’t count at all. By way of explanation she launched into the deepest description of her medical life that she had ever given to another soul. The hours, the sleep deprivation, the healing, the self doubt, the deep internal work she had to do in order to overcome her childhood demons to be able to practice the craft of surgery. She released it all to his eager ears and heart.

 

Sitting on the slope of the crags in the moonlight, Jamie pulled Claire into his side, hugging her tight as she expressed her excitement and fears of their budding relationship. With so little experience, she started to doubt her ability to stay at the heightened deep level of their connection. She doubted her ability to keep giving and be vulnerable. Jamie kissed her temple, then turned towards her, brushing her wild free hair off of her face, tilting her chin up when she tried to look down after her confession.

 

“Claire, I’ll never ask ye for anything ye dinna want te or canna give. We’re in this together now. All I ask is that there is an honesty between us, a truth. Do ye agree?” he asked already knowing that he would do anything for her, give her anything she ever asked for.

 

“I agree, Jamie. Secrets but not lies,” she said interpreting his words into a vow between them, the first of many.

 

Jamie pressed his lips to hers to seal the promise in a gentle, sensual, heart stopping kiss.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

On their second date, two weeks later, Jamie surprised her by taking her to a gallery to see his mother’s new show. It was entitled Love: The truth between us. He was surprised to see the title given what he and Claire had talked about during their first date, then realized it must be something he had heard growing up. It was baked into his bloodlines, that is why it came out so easily with Claire.

 

The show was dedicated to Brian and the life he and Ellen had built together. Each piece was related in some way to their life and the support he gave Ellen along the way. Knowing how much Claire loved Ellen and her talent, Jamie thought it the perfect place to spend some time with her. Little did he know it was in the same exact gallery where Claire and Ellen had first met, Circles.

 

“Jamie, you’re kidding me right?” Claire asked with both eyebrows at her hairline.

 

“What?” Jamie asked, clueless, as he held the door to the gallery open for her.

 

“This is where I met your mother. Did you not know?”

 

“Nay, Sassenach, I had no idea,” he shrugged, “I just figured ye like her work, ye ken, and I thought we could see it together.”

 

Claire stopped him, and simply kissed him for his thoughtfulness. A trait, which when she first “met” him at The Empty Tin, she never imagined he possessed. In the last two weeks, he had shown her it was an innate part of his character. This second date was further proof. In the time between their first and second dates, two weeks due to her schedule, he had brought her coffee in the middle of the night at the hospital, popped by after a she had a hard day with take out and flowers, lent her a book after she expressed interest in knowing who influenced his writing, and wrote her a short story about their first date from his perspective. They had talked on the phone or texted everyday between the dates, and it wasn’t uncommon in the span of that time for one of them to fall asleep late into the night on speaker phone. The other only hanging up when they could hear the heavy breathing of sleep on the other end.

 

Jamie it turned out was just as good of an art guide as his mother had been. They toured the space hand in hand while he interpreted some of the pieces from the view of his childhood. Claire was watched him tell the stories almost as intently as she looked at Ellen’s paintings. Jamie was a natural born storyteller and she couldn’t imagine a time when he wasn’t. Though his accident was horrible, he may have never reignited his passion for writing and storytelling without it. In an odd way, she was grateful for each shattering experience they had each survived because it made them who they were now. It allowed them to find each other again, at the exact right moment. Watching him, made her grateful for the grit they each possessed to overcome and integrate their experiences, making them more wise, more fully human, and in the end, more fully each other’s.

 

Claire couldn’t imagine a better second date than watching her man in his element, gushing over his mother’s talent, telling stories, and letting each word he spoke drip with love for his whole family.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

One Month Later

 

Jamie and Claire’s first month of dating had surpassed all expectations, fears, and fortress walls. There was an understanding between them, an ease, and a comfort that neither had known before. Their connection grew with each word, touch, giggle, and kiss. Each walk they took around the city, each morning they woke up together engendered the strengthening tether between them.

 

Though they slept together on their third “official date,” unable to resist each other anymore, there was much they hadn’t explored sexually. A month into their relationship, standing before his bed, immediately after furiously stripping each other, they stood naked and silent, just looking at each other, taking in every contour of each others body when Jamie spoke.

 

“Claire...I want to put my mouth on ye…” he said low, accent deepening, lust seeping from his lips.

 

“You put your mouth on my all the time? Why are you asking permission?” she asked confused and shrugged her shoulders.

 

Jamie realized she had no idea what he was talking about. He stepped forward, placed his hand over her mound, and slipped a finger inside her and said, “here, I want to put my mouth on ye here.”

 

She looked him directly in the eye, as his finger made small ministrations, “OH,” she gasped out.

 

“No one has ever done that to me before…” she whispered to him, trying to keep her composure as he continued to touch her.

 

“Never?”

 

“No, no one I’ve been with has cared much about my pleasure...except you. ”

 

He kissed her then, slow, sweet, loving, and in apology for every man who had come before him.

 

“I’m asking for yer permission because it makes some women uncomfortable and they arena able to enjoy it when they are uncomfortable. I didna want te assume it was something ye wanted or liked,” he said with the confidence of a much more experienced man than he was.

 

“I’ve not thought about it much to be honest, since it was never offered…I never thought to want it,” she paused, letting herself think and relish the man before her who continued to give her the slow movements that drove her mad with desire for him. “I trust you, I’m willing to try,” she said trying to steel her nerves. The truth was she wanted everything with him. She trusted him with her entire essence.

 

Jamie picked her up and delicately laid her on his bed. He let her body guide him since he had not performed the act before. He had never wanted to with anyone else, but with Claire, he wanted to give her everything. He deeply wanted to please her. Though inexperienced in this matter, somehow he just knew what to do with her. His mouth found it’s way to every inch of her flesh before he made his way down to her navel. Lifting his head slightly to catch her eyes, asking for consent once more. She nodded and bit her lip. It was all the confirmation he needed. Moving down, his mouth enveloped her and she shivered at the first contact. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced and she found herself squirming with pleasure through the entire experience.

 

Jamie seemed to be enjoying it almost as much as she was. Though his mouth was in vigorous use, his voice box was getting just as much of a workout with each moaning groan he released. She would never be able to listen to him savor food again in the same way without getting aroused. Overwhelmed with sensation she was unaware of her impending release. She shattered and splintered without warning. The sound she made was something she never knew she was capable of. Riding the waves of her release, she melted into a boneless stew, immobile on the bed.

 

Clearly pleased with himself, Jamie nipped her thigh and up her torso. He stopped on his side, propped up on his arm to get a good look at her. Her face was more beautiful than he had ever seen it before. She glowed with an ecstasy externally that he hoped was mirrored internally.  He didn’t touch her, just watched, took her in. He wanted to remember her like this always, completely his.

 

Claire was unable to find her words for several minutes, but when she did, she made no sense anyhow. A string of adjectives fell out of her mouth in no particular order. Jamie just smiled at her. Internally he still couldn’t believe the turn of events that led him to be in bed with his favorite person in the world. The invisible cord between them now a strong rope, he fell more in love with her everyday. He hadn’t said it yet, not wanting to scare her off, but he knew there would never been anyone else for him again. Jamie knew it from the first time he saw her in the wee hours of the morning, clad only in his navy blue ratty Uni hoodie, sipping coffee as she hummed around his kitchen. The early morning light, streaming into his flat, bounced off her pale skin, back-lighting her curls, and made her glow like an ethereal being, like a fae of the stones, his fae.

 

_____________________________________________________________

 

Thanks for reading! 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 16 - The Writer’s Girlfriend 

 

Jamie’s curiosity about Claire was never ending. It rolled on like a lay-line directly to her heart, pulling him deeper under her spell. In equal measure, it was the same for Claire. She could often be found clad in his favorite ratty Uni hoodie, not wearing bottoms, coffee in hand, reading over his shoulder as he wrote. At first she tried to be sneaky about it. She kept getting caught right before he pulled her into his lap to ravish her with kisses.

 

Sometimes, he would write something just for her, so she could read it over his shoulder. He loved sharing their bond through his words and letting her read it. The written word helped express what his voice could not when he was overwhelmed with the depth of his feeling for her. Though the words still had not been “I love you,” each thought, word, and sentiment, danced around the seedling of love, making it grow, and watering it with words, until it was ready to be uttered into the world a full bloom.

 

Almost three months into their relationship, Jamie decided to take the plunge and say the words his heart had been begging him to give voice to for the previous month, maybe even longer.  He and Claire had had a lazy night of worshiping each other in advance of her starting a string of night shifts. As he often did in the mornings, especially when she was there, Jamie got up early and wrote. The mornings where Claire laid in his bed, he found inspiration came easily.  She had become his muse without trying. Her entire presence called to him through his craft.

 

Without her knowing it, he had begun to write their story. He never wrote it when she was at his flat though, he didn’t want her reading it over his shoulder. It was loosely titled Cycles and Circles. It was an unusual piece for him, being semi-autobiographical. He had masked the characters so that only Claire would know it was her in the prose.

 

Before heading to the shower, he wrote out a scene just for her, knowing she would wake, wander into the kitchen, grab coffee, and read what he had written when he left his computer open. She wouldn’t be able to resist, and he loved her for it.

 

Claire woke hearing the shower begin to run. Hazy brained, jello-legged, and deeply satisfied, she stretched her body the width of the bed. It has been the perfect night, except that she almost yelled, “I love you Jamie,” at the top of her lungs as she climaxed. By some miracle she had caught herself, not wanting that to be the first time she said it. She woke up, chastising herself for nearly saying it “too early.” It had only been 10 weeks since they got together. Though the best 10 weeks of her life, it was still too soon to lay it all out there. Jamie’s parents still didn’t know they were together, adding a dose of internal pressure to Claire’s experience. They had decided to wait a few months to tell them. She was nervous about telling Ellen she had been wrong and too quick to judge her son. The son she was now deeply in love with.

 

Lazily walking into the kitchen, bare legged, wearing her man’s hoodie, she grabbed herself a coffee and a banana. Noticing Jamie’s laptop was resting open on the island, she decided to see what he had been writing before his shower.

 

Scrolling up the document, she realized it was a piece she had never read before. The chapter was entitled, “The Writer’s Girlfriend.” Her heart skipped. She started from the beginning of the chapter and was immediately pulled in. Without her eyes leaving the screen, she sipped her coffee. Three paragraphs in, she peeled the banana and popped it in her mouth, but then froze, letting it rest there, not eating it, as she realized she was reading about herself.

 

The last ten weeks of the writer’s life had been the most magical of his entire life. The pieces were finally falling into place, all because of Corinne. The first time they met, she had made a space for herself in his heart, without him realizing it. When he woke up alone the next day with no sign of her, the cavern of his heart that belonged only to her, crumbled and closed.

 

The long piled over entrance to the cavern cracked open to let the rays of light in when their tongues met again for the first time in a decade. He couldn’t have known what the touching of flesh would do to him. But here he was 10 weeks later, bursting with every emotion he knew how to contact in his being. All at once he loved her. Body and soul, completely. Knowing it was too soon to tell her, he waited. He waited until he couldn’t wait a second  longer.

 

Knowing words would fail the depth of his feeling for her, he decided to write. She always loved reading what he wrote, over his shoulder especially. He found it endearing and loved her more for it. Her support was unexpected and all encompassing. It filled his heart to the brim.

 

After loving her so thoroughly that each of them could have slept for a week, he got up early and began to write.

 

The words I love you will never be enough to capture the depth of my feelings. 


My soul feels alight when you are near. Your presence in a room grounds me and supports me more than I ever hoped or thought possible.  I know it’s early, but I can’t possibly contain myself further.

 

I love you my darling.

 

The writer left his laptop open for her to find when she woke and he went to take a shower….

 

“Christ Claire, can ye stop eating the banana like that?” Jamie said from his perch resting in the doorway. Claire hadn’t heard him prop himself there.  She turned around at comically slow pace, the banana still in her mouth, a single tear glistening on her cheek, and her eyes wide. Jamie was leaning against the doorway, still wet, wearing only his towel, arms casually crossed in front of his chest highlighting his biceps.

 

Instead of finally biting the banana, she locked eyes with him and teased her mouth over it. She embellished her eating, and made it worse by adding a deep groan and an eye roll. Though meant as a joke, it had the opposite effect on Jamie, his towel exposing exactly what he thought about what Claire was doing.

 

Pressing himself off the door frame, he walked towards Claire with intent in his eyes. She stalked him with her gaze as he crossed the room. Fire rising in her belly.

 

Stopping in front of her, just staring, he grabbed the banana and playfully took a bite. Chewing with his eyes dead set on hers, he swallowed, cleared his throat, cocked his head to the side and said, “Whatcha readin that has ye so distracted?”

 

Encapsulated in his tractor beam blues, she rose off the stool, put both hands on his chest and said, “It’s not too early. It’s never too early to tell the truth. I love you too Jamie.”

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 17 - Meet the Parents 

 

Two Weeks Later

 

Brian and Ellen

 

“Elle, have ye noticed that our lad has been using a LOT of emojis lately? I dinna remember him being so emoji happy,” Brian asked his wife as she dragged her widest paintbrush up and down the canvas in a zoned daze.

 

“Ye ken, I did notice that, but I thought I was just old and not hip to the young folk or sumthin,” she said turning around to face her husband.

 

“Nay, something is up. Look at this message, it has six different faces in it. I dinna even ken what some of these mean,” Brian intoned.  

 

Ellen shrugged and let her thoughts wander as she turned back to her canvas. On occasion, Brian watched her paint. It was a loving and also erotic act for her to have the love of her life watch her create. Always her biggest supporter, it filled her to the heart with love and she created from that wholehearted place.

 

“Och, that’s why!” her husband exclaimed with excitement, “He just sent a message saying he wants to bring someone to Sunday dinner! Ye think he finally met someone?”

 

“He hasna said anything to me, ye ken,” Ellen said, still painting, “In fact he has said very little to me since the Claire disaster.”

 

Brian rose from his chair, walked over to his wife hugged her from behind then rested a kiss on her exposed shoulder. “Elle, ye ken ye pushed him too hard that time. It’s ok for him to take some space. It doesna mean he loves ye any less.”

 

“I know…it’s just…I was so sure that time…I still canna believe I got it so wrong. I just want him to be happy,” she shrugged.

 

Swaying with her in his arms, their fingers intertwined at her waist. Just before his hand tucked under her waist band and traveled south, he said, “I ken love, I ken, so do I.”

 

Sunday Dinner - Lallybroch

 

Claire was nervous. Her hand started to sweat profusely in Jaime’s as they entered Broch Mordha. Ever in tune to Claire, he brushed his thumb over her hand trying to calm her. A conversation was had about the visit, and he had assured her they were going to be overjoyed, especially his Mother, but Claire had expressed doubt. Their conversation played over and over again in her head. She noted that  the last thing she said to Ellen was a clear statement that she wanted nothing to do with any of the Frasers. Now here she was, head over heels for her son. Plus the little fact that she had taken his virginity 12 years earlier. How were they going to explain how they came together in the end, after the near misses. Jaime had indicated that the truth was the best way, which worried her even more.

 

As he pulled into the drive, Jaime saw Jenny and Ian’s vehicle, and breathed a sigh of relief. His parents would be occupied with the bairns running roughshod all over the place which meant that they could slip in the kitchen door and not make a big deal of anything.

 

Claire stood frozen still in the kitchen as Jaime urged her on. He pulled her into him and kissed her senseless, threading his fingers through her hair clutching her head. The kiss passed all the words he needed to say to the woman who had become everything to him in such a short amount of time. The kiss said, everything will be alright, I’m here with ye, there’s two of us now.

 

Jaime’s lips were still on Claire’s when he heard the door open and knew his mother had just walked in.

 

“Ah Jaime lad, there ye are, and ye must be Jaime’s new gir….Christ Claire?!?!?!” Ellen yelled out as Claire turned around to face Ellen.

 

“Hi Ellen, nice to see you again,” Claire said with a shy wave, her lips inflamed from Jaime’s kiss, the blush on her cheeks as red as Jamie’s hair.

 

“I…what…I…ye two are together?…….I’m so confused…but so happy…you two are really together? Ye dinna just happen to be necking in the kitchen right?”

 

Claire laughed at that and relaxed, “Yes, we are really together, for about three months now.”

 

“THREE MONTHS! James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, how could ye keep this from me for three whole months after everything,” Ellen spat out.

 

Raking his hand across his hair, looking at his feet and then taking Claire’s hand in his before a reply formed in his mouth, “ I didna want to get yer hopes up in case things didna work out given that Claire and I had already had a few misses…”

 

“A few? What do ye mean a few?”

 

“Och well, it’s a long story,” he said, “maybe we should wait until Da joins us.”

 

“FRASER! Get yer arse in here, yer boy willna tell me a story without ye,” Ellen yelled as Claire started to giggle. Her nerves had subsided but Jaime’s silent ones were now on display for her to see.

 

Brian materialized and so did a bewilderment on his face when he saw Claire. His gaze traveled the joined hands that rested between her and his son.

 

“Claire, nice to see ye,” he said deciding to let his wife play into and extract the drama of how this came to be.

 

The four sat at the big wooden table in the center of the kitchen.

 

“Tell me now what ye mean by a few misses Jaime?”

 

Claire and Jaime had discussed how much they would share, but now that the moment had arrived, he was rendered useless to remember what they had discussed.

 

“Och well, after our disastrous date and the surprise dinner last time, Claire and I ran into each other three more times after that.”

 

“Three?” Claire yelped since she only remembered the two, the Meadows and the Signet.

 

“One, I only saw ye from a distance but we didn’t interact, but it counts in my head,” squeezing her hand, he gave her an eye that said I’ll tell you later.

 

“And I take it those run-ins did not go as hoped?” His mother asked.

 

“Nay, they were just as bad as the first, though the last time wasna as bad because Claire recognized me by my scars instead of by my face…” he drifted off, realizing he had said too much as Claire shot him daggers.

 

“Yer scars son? What do ye mean?” His father asked, “How could Claire recognize yer scars?”

 

Jaime sighed enough air to save a drowning person, but it did little to help him from submerging in his own mess he had made of the story with only a few words.

 

“Claire is the fae of the stones Da, ye ken,” Jaime huffed out.

 

“No…is that true? It canna be true…this is quickly becoming the most serendipitous story of all time!” He vacillated between shock, and excitement. He looked over at Claire and just grinned. Ellen was lost.

 

“Can someone please explain to me what in the hell yer talking about?” She said as she realized she was the only one not in the loop.

 

Claire chimed in at this, “Ellen, Jaime and I met more than a decade ago at university at a Samhain party. I was dressed as a fae of the stones of Craig Na dun.”

 

Ellen went quiet, pondering for a few minutes, still not in comprehension of how this related to his scars. Suddenly, a flash of recognition crossed her eyes so that everyone could see it.

 

“So I wasna wrong then! Ye are a good match!”

 

“Aye Mam, ye werena wrong and ‘tis true, we are a good match,” he said as he tucked Claire into his side.

 

At that particular moment, Jenny decided to walk in. She was just as astonished as Brian had been to see Claire again, but she didn’t linger on the details. Jenny simply drew Claire in for a hug happy to see her again.

 

With dinner served, Brian stood to make a toast. “To Claire, welcome to the family! Even if ye didna make yer way here in a straight line, I am glad ye have arrived. May ye and Jaime have a wonderful life together!”  

 

Jaime flushed magenta at his father’s overly warm welcome. He hoped beyond hope that his father was right in his implication. Jaime prayed that Claire was there to stay, that she would eventually become a Fraser.

 

_________________________________________________

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 18 - Double Date


Ellen & Brian and Jamie & Claire

 

Ellen finding Jamie and Claire making out in the kitchen was the hilarious origin story they would tell their grandchildren. The way Ellen told it, it was one of the happier, more shocked moments of her life. Sure she could have been smug, saying I told you so, but instead she was overwhelmed with love and joy. Jamie had finally found his match, and she got to have the daughter of her heart. She was thrilled for both of them and for the whole family. Being in the midst of true love is a blessing that not all receive, and Ellen was well aware of that fact. She never took it for granted.

 

A few weeks after Brian welcomed Claire to the family at dinner with his over the top welcome that made Jamie blush, Ellen called the newer couple on speaker phone and asked them on a double date. Jamie was hesitant, for obvious reasons, but Claire was elated and said yes before Jamie could get a word out.

 

Ellen and Brian invited them up to the distillery to taste some of the new concoctions of whisky. Claire had yet to visit the little distillery at the edge of the property close to town, so it seemed like the perfect way to spend time with Jamie’s parents.

 

They ate a late lunch at one of the two pubs in Broch Mordha, fortifying their bellies for the whisky tasting afternoon ahead of them. Jamie was regaling his parents with one his latest editor meetings with John. As Jamie told the story, Claire watched intently with a casual, endearing smile on her face, having heard the story twice already. Ellen was engaged with her son, but Brian, Brian watched Claire’s face, giving his wife’s thigh a squeeze under the table. Ellen glanced at Claire briefly, noted the heart eyes look about her, and squeezed Brian’s hand under the table, communicating silently with her love.

 

The conversation between the four of them was easy and comfortable. Claire’s parents had been gone so long, it was disorienting and blissful to be with Jamie’s parents in such an easeful situation. She silently hoped that they would do this more often. She knew there was so much she and Jamie could learn from both of them. The wisdom and guidance of a long married couple can often be discounted by those early in relationship or in their younger years, but Claire knew the value of experience. She relished it in her already strong personal relationship with Ellen, and knew that her insight into being with a Fraser would be invaluable in years to come.

 

By the end of the meal Brian had eyes only for Ellen. As he fed Ellen chips, they both seemed oblivious to everything around them, and they hadn’t even had any whisky yet. Claire couldn’t help but notice that Jamie didn’t even flinch at his parents feeding each other. Jamie’s right thumb slid over the Claire’s left palm as he made loving shapes on it throughout dinner. Over the few months they had been together, they learned that their skin longed to be in contact. Everything was better when their dermis danced in conversation. Sensations whispered back and forth in the telepathic exchange of two people who don’t need to translate their souls to each other.

 

Satiated, carbed up, and ready for drink, the four drove to the distillery. It was smaller than Claire expected, but seemingly delightfully Fraser. Emblazoned above the entrance, in emerald, read the Fraser motto, je suis prest. Two buildings rested behind the dirt car park. One, a converted stone building, similar in construction to the main house that was an obvious office and small shop. The other was more akin to a long wooden warehouse.

 

Brian let them into the wooden building, unlocking a comically oversized lock with what Claire swore was a skeleton key. Ellen trickled in behind him to help turn on the lights and make it ready for their private tour. Jamie was slow to follow. Claire went to walk ahead of him when he pulled her back by the hand, squeezing her in for a kiss.

 

Licking her lips as she opened her eyes, Claire asked, “What was that for?” Still feeling the emotion of his kiss resting on her lips.

 

“I’m so happy Sassenach…I love ye,” he said brushing her curls behind her ear.

 

The words, still so newly released into their relationship, made her breathless, “I love you too, Jamie.”

 

Eyes locked, Claire went in for another kiss, as Jamie’s hand wandered down her back to the flowing, knee-length patterned skirt that had been taunting him all day. The swishing of the skirt this way and that as she walked had hypnotized him.  His hand tucked under the hem and he daintily dragged his fingers up the back of her leg, until he could get a firm grab on her arse. When he was met only with flesh, his breath hitched. Had the wee vixen gone commando on a double date with his parents, he wondered so loud in his head, he thought she had heard him thinking. His hand floated higher and he found the waistband of her thong. He wasn’t sure if he was disappointed or relieved, but he knew he couldn’t wait to get her in bed later.

 

Claire seemingly aware of where things were headed if they stood there much longer, took his hand out from under her skirt. She kissed it mouth open with a knowing gaze, that said later.  Hands twined, she pulled him into the building to join his parents.

 

They found Brian and Ellen mercilessly flirting with each other as they set up the  tasting. They had been gone maybe 3 minutes from their sides, but the older couple seemed to have had a strong shift in mood in those three minutes. They barely noticed Claire and Jamie walk in. Claire caught Ellen poking Brian’s side, before he grabbed her and pulled her in for a searing kiss. Jamie noticed Claire’s expression and brought her in close to his side. He whispered to her, “Dinna mind them, they’re always like that.” Claire looked up at him, taken aback. She had never met a couple that had been married for multiple decades that still liked each other that much, never mind how these two Frasers were interacting. 

 

Claire observed Brian and Ellen like a hawk as they got increasingly touchy-feeley with each other. Brian even nibbled her neck for when he thought the younger couple was drinking and unawares. By the end of the tasting, something clicked for Claire. It was clear as day, she wanted that with Jamie, for the rest of her life. She wanted to be a Fraser through and through.

 

In fairness, Claire didn’t know many couples who has been married for decades, but their interaction seemed unique. Their level of connectedness was something she knew she shared with Jamie, and it made her want it forever, just like Brian and Ellen. Knowing Jamie grew up with them as a model, she was bolstered by the fact that it was a part of his makeup. Revving herself up inside, she hoped Jamie would want the same thing, forever.

 

————————————————————–

Later that night, walking back to the main house, all with a slight sway in their step, Jamie fell in with his father while Claire walked with Ellen. Claire and Ellen giggled all the way back to the house like two school girls walking about 8 feet in front of Jamie and Brian.

 

“Da…can I ask ye a question?” Jamie said quietly, making sure to keep his speech out of reach from the ears ahead.

 

“Anything lad,” Brian said, squeezing Jamie in for side hug, his arm slung around his son’s shoulder.

 

“Do ye ken any good jewelers?” Jamie said nervously.

 

“Jewelers? I dinna ken, why would ye need a jeweler?” Brian asked daftly.

 

“Claire…I want te marry Claire,” Jamie said, as if it is obvious and tattooed on his face for all to see.

 

Brian’s head swung around to look at his son as he stopped dead in his tracks, stilling Jamie in the process, placing a hand on each of his lad’s broad muscled shoulders.

 

“Do ye mean it? Ye and Claire are the real deal?…I mean ye ken we hoped, but seeing ye together tonight, we knew and just wished and prayed that the two of ye did too,” Brian said, starting to ramble and slur in his whisky infused excitement.

 

Brian brought Jamie in for a bone crushing hug. The two men stood there, in the dark, rooted to the earth of their blood, and exchanged an embrace that spoke of the past, the present, and the future of love. A single, salty tear ran down each of their faces. Brian pulled back, and stared at his boy, his sweet, loving, tender, talented boy who had become an incredible man. He knew Jamie would make a wonderful husband and father, now that he had found his true match.

 

“Ye dinna need to go te a jeweler lad, I have a ring for ye,” Brian said, coming out of his emotional love haze.

 

“Ye do?” Jamie said shocked.

 

“Yes lad, the family engagement ring. For generations, the men of our family have proposed to their ladies with the same ring, and ye shall do the same,” Brian said, in the serious tone of someone who hadn’t just sampled whisky for hours.

 

Jamie stood shocked. He had never heard of such a thing, which he found odd. His parents were always so open with long running familial traditions. The Frasers were a proud clan and their history and heritage were instilled in all Fraser children almost from birth.

 

“How come ye never said anything about this before, Da?” Jamie asked, curiosity filling his body.

 

“Well it’s a coming of age thing ye see. I ken yer in yer mid 30s and all, but traditionally it was something that only came up when a Fraser man went te marry, which generally was much younger. So it was thought of as a coming of age “right of passage.” Around the time I would have told ye such a thing, ye had yer accident, and after that, well, it didna seem important to make a hoopla about an old tradition. Then when ye never really seemed to like yer girlfriends much, I didna see the point of mentioning it. But now, it’s plain to see, Claire is meant for ye, and ye for her. And I’d be thrilled if ye want to carry out the tradition.”

 

Jamie swallowed a hundred small lumps in his throat as he listened to his father’s emotional speech. It was all brand new information to him. His father continued.

 

“Tis a simple silver woven ring of two strands. It is said to date back to the Vikings. Each lass, wears it from the time of engagement until the wedding day when it is replaced with her wedding ring. It symbolizes a special time in a couple’s life where you are starting to weave together yer separate lives into one. At the wedding, the woven band is replaced by a band of a single strand instead of two, sealing the intention of your life together as one.”

 

Jamie gasped a sob, overwhelmed by the beauty of the ancient tradition. Disbelief coursed through him,  he had no idea an ancestral lineage, so rife with romance was in his blood (Lairds, castles and land sure, but romance?). It appealed to the writer in him, and he knew it would call out to the secret romantic in Claire. He couldn’t wait to share it with her. Jamie knew it would mean as much to hear as it did to him.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 19 -  First (Second) Samhain

 

Several Months Later

 

The silver, interwoven, viking ring had been in his possession since their first double date with his parents, but Jamie was having trouble with planning the when, where, and how to propose to Claire. He wanted to give her everything, including the perfect proposal. Each and every scenario filtered through is mind in the months since, as the ring grew heavy in his consciousness and pocket. The ring was begging to be given to its new owner. Jamie wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to wait to give it to her.

 

Jamie considered a public display type of proposal at a restaurant, or hot air balloon, or something big, but decided that wasn’t them. He thought about her birthday, but then her birthday would always be about them and not just her, he never wanted her to feel compelled to be doing something for him on her birthday. He pondered a trip away, some cottage on Skye, maybe a trip to Paris, and even Craigh Na Dun, but nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed to match his love for her. Then her deep love of romantic comedies popped into his head, and he asked himself,  What would  “movie Jamie” do in this situation? The idea hit him like a spark as a flash of a red cape came into his mind.

 

Jamie presumed he had been more or less the same size since University. He found out how wrong he was when he went to put on his superman costume after more than a decade. It was extremely tight. When he donned the costume for the first time, he was still recovering from his injuries. His muscle mass had been on the lower end of his normal scale. Once he could work out again and return to sports, his naturally toned bulk came back. The old costume highlighted that for him in exquisite Lycra detail. It was a memory previously lost to time over the years. He had to get a new costume and fast.

 

Intent on surprising Claire on their first Samhain together as an official couple, Jamie searched the shops before finally buying an extra tall costume online. He had it overnighted to Ian and Jenny so that Claire wouldn’t find the package accidentally. Even though they were not officially living together yet, Claire was at his flat most nights of the week. As soon as the costume arrived, he drove to Lallybroch to picked it up. He spent no more than five minutes at the estate before frantically getting back into the car to return back to the city. Chastising himself all the way home for not trying on his old costume sooner, he hoped he would have enough time to prepare before Claire arrived home.

 

———————————————————————

 

Claire was thrilled to have Samhain night off from the hospital. She clocked out at four that afternoon and thanked the scheduling gods for not having to treat a single person in costume this year. No shattered ankles from inexperienced high heel walkers, no broken noses from someone eyeing someone else’s mate too eagerly in costume, and no cutting anyone out of a costume in order to get to their injuries. She laughed to herself thinking of her personal experience with that. Her mind wandering a pathway back to that very first night with Jamie all those years ago when he was not able to free her from her costume.

 

Jamie hadn’t said anything to Claire about Samhain, which she felt was rather odd considering it was a special night for them and especially since it would be their first as an official couple. She thought that maybe he just forgot, consumed with his latest story. Her mind trailed off and pushed thoughts of something romantic deep down the expectation crevasse.

 

As soon as Jamie heard Claire’s key in the door, his pulse began to race. Sweat broke out over his whole body which he could have done without considering how much spandex he was wearing. He launched himself into a mental pep talk.  I can do this. She loves me. I love her. It’s never been more right. But she could still say no. What if she doesn’t want to get married after all once she is faced with it? Will she freak out at the ring? Is this too cheesy? Is she going to hate it? Am I really worthy of her? She loves me. We want the same things. I can do this!

 

The flat was completely dark. Unusual, thought Claire.

 

“Jamie?” she called out.

 

“In here, mo nighean donn,” Jamie called from the bedroom.

 

Claire swore she saw a flash of red by the door as she turned towards the bedroom. Dismissing it as being tired from work, she pushed it away from her mind.

 

As Claire approached their his bedroom, her breath caught in her throat as she froze in the doorway. Candles dotted the window sills, tables, and dressers, creating a soft romantic glow. Desperately trying to catch her breath, she caught sight of her man, dressed in a collar bone to ankles, form-fitting Superman costume, cape dangling behind him. On the bed stood a fully replicated Craigh Na Dun, in miniature. Resting in the center of the circle, lay a navy blue velvet box.

 

In one big swooping step, Jamie was at her side. He grabbed her hands, and knelt down in front of her at the end of the bed. Tears started to run down her face, she couldn’t believe this was really happening.

 

Jamie leaned over the bed, put his hand in the stone circle, removed the box, and held it in front of Claire.

 

“Claire, mo graigh, thirteen years ago today I met ye seemingly by chance. I now know, without a shadow of a doubt, there was no chance involved. We were supposed to meet. We were supposed to find each other. We belong to each other, and always have since that fateful day. I never knew how much I was missing in my life all those years we spent apart on our own paths, but now I do. I am grateful everyday ye met my mother, and that it brought us back together. I have never been happier. I never want to be parted from ye.”

 

Jamie opened the box, revealing the twined ring. “This ring is the symbol of our two lives intertwining and has been the engagement ring of my family for generations. Will ye wear it? Will ye marry me?”

 

Gasping, trying to find breath through her tears, Claire screeched, “ Yes! Yes, of course, I’ll marry you!” Flinging her arms around him, he toppled back seated against the bed, her landing in his lap, as she attacked his mouth with hers.

 

The ring box fell out of Jamie’s hands as he caught Claire. She was in a lust vortex and he immediately succumbed to her and forgot about putting the ring on her finger.

 

Claire began clawing at him, trying to figure out how the suit worked, as she rubbed her body against his. His erection was clearly visible against his costume as she pressed her pelvis into him. Pulling back, Claire asked “how do I get you out of this thing?”

 

“I thought you’d never ask Love, I’m dying in this thing. I feel like my cock’s about to snap off, right before I die of heat. The back, there’s a zipper under the cape,” he panted, tugging at the front of his suit and wondering if the first one he wore was so…revealing.

 

Jamie and Claire stood. Claire lifted his cape and examined the taut lines of the back of his body in the costume. She brushed her hands over his arse, featherlight, eliciting a groan before dragging her hands slowly up his back. Resting the cape over his shoulder, she inched down the zipper and for the first time noticed how erotic it was to undress him in this way. Jamie loved slowly unzipping her out of dresses, and Claire “got it,” but never really “got it” until she was doing it to him.

 

Slowly revealing his mix of muscled back and scars, she felt her desire dampen between her legs. The zipper ran all the way to the base of his spine. She became an animal. She licked the track the zipper had just taken before threading her hands inside the costume and around his front to take him in her hand. The suit was still tight enough that she was almost trapped, so she got creative. Her hands glued between his body and the fabric, she began to use only her fingers to stimulate him. It was an unusual sensation and she was not sure he was going to like it, but his moan said otherwise.

 

“Claire I canna take it, get me out of this thing!” Jamie growled, tugging at the shoulders.

 

Claire helped him get out of the shoulders, wondering how on earth he got into the getup in the first place. She dragged the red, blue, and yellow fabric down to his feet, slowly exposing his exquisite form that she loved so much. The minute he stepped out of it, she tackled him back to the ground, ravishing everything within lips distance with ferocity of a starving Serengeti cat. With no further foreplay, she took him in hand and brought him to her, sighing with delight as he filled her completely. No matter how many times they lay together, the initial joining was always like the first time. It lit both of them with an all-consuming fire, blazing a path to the deepest layers of their soul.

 

The woman was on a mission. She rode him harder than she ever had in their entire time together. Jamie was just trying to keep up, dancing between sexual bliss, unconsciousness, and orgasm. Claire came with a shattering cry, convulsing, panting, and becoming dizzy enough to sway to the side before Jamie sat up and caught her in his embrace. He collected her into his arms, breathed, “I love you,” into her mouth, though he wasn’t sure she was back in her body yet. Hugging her, to his great surprise she started to move against him again. He flipped her on her back, as she curled tightly around him, her legs and arms locked around his back. He managed to free her arms, spreading them wide, interlacing their fingers, as he filled her with his entire being over and over again, screaming her name in incoherent Gaelic until he found his release.

 

Jamie and Claire laid on the floor panting on their backs, having never made it to the bed. Replica Craigh Na Dun remained unharmed in the center of their bed. Jamie looked over at Claire to find her eyes already on him.

 

“Hi,” Claire said.

 

“Hi,” Jamie said.

 

“Did that really just happen?” Claire whispered.

 

“Which part?” Jamie laughed.

 

“Did you just propose to me in real life? Did I just attack you?” Claire asked with all sincerity.

 

“Absolutely, mo graigh. How about we find that ring, and put it on your finger, so you can KNOW it’s real,” Jamie said, shifting his body weight, to look around them, locating the ring box under the bed after a minute.

 

Placing the ring on Claire’s finger, they both sighed in relief, as if the ring had always belonged there. Jamie brought Claire’s hand to his mouth, kissing the ring, he said, “I can’t wait to be yer husband. I love ye.”

 

“I can’t wait to be your wife, Jamie. I love you too,” Claire said, as she leaned in to join their mouths, sealing their promise to each other for years to come.

 

Claire pulled back abruptly and said, “I have a surprise for you tonight too.”

 

“Oh aye?” Jamie said quirking his head.

 

“Aye,” Claire said sarcastically, as she got up to turn the light on and rummage through her bag.

 

As soon as the light flipped on, Jamie gasped.

 

“What?” Claire asked.

 

“Claire…yer knees, they’re bleeding,” he said with a hint of both horror and amusement, as he made his way to sit on the edge of the bed. In that moment, a flash of intuition sparked his brain. Blood. They’d had uninterrupted sex for 8 weeks. Usually so good about keeping track, he had been so consumed with the proposal that he hadn’t noticed that she’d missed her period. His heart started to race as the realization started to settle in. Could it be?

 

Claire looked down at her knees, then looked up eyes wide at Jamie before she burst into laughter. Claire, you animal, she thought to herself.

 

Rummaging through her bag, she found her surprise, and held it up for Jamie to see.

 

In one hand she held a red wig, her fae of the stones wig, her other hand rested behind her back.

 

Jamie beamed at her as she put it on and sauntered back over to him, crawling into his lap, straddling him.

 

“Well fae of the stones, what a pleasure it is to see ye again,” he said bringing his lips to her neck.

 

“There’s one more thing Superman,” she said, taking her hand out from behind her back, revealing a plastic future-telling stick, “…I’m pregnant.”

 

Jamie immediately began to cry and enveloped her in a deep bear hug.

 

After a few moments, Claire, shook herself free and asked, “Happy tears?”

 

Jamie nodded his head and smiled through his wet face, “This is the best day of my life Claire.”

 

______________________________________________

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 20 - Home 


Jamie and Claire were married at the standing stones of Craigh Na Dun, four months later. Claire’s womb was full with their first children, a set of twins. The wind rose and a hum filled the air surrounding them. One family member for each of the stones (coincidentally), surrounded them with their loving warmth. True love matches, all around.

 

Claire felt the pinging sensation as the knife cut her wrist before it was joined with Jamie’s. Their children reacting with a kick in her womb. Jamie’s eyes pierced through her, crystal blue, wet, loving, and calling out to the deepest parts of her. Their hand-fasting was sealed with a kiss that meant so much more than the limited capability of words ever could. Home.

 

——————————————————-

Four Months Earlier

 

Claire and Jamie arrived at Lallybroch a week after their official engagement having kept it a secret from their family and friends. It had been hard since they were brimming with elation, couldn’t stop speaking in sweeping platitudes, and both had perma-grins from all of the exciting newness in their lives…not to mention all of the sex. That week had been blissful, the two of them in their engagement bubble, without any questions of the future, still reeling in the best of ways that they were also about to become parents. Both would remember that week of their lives with a deep nostalgia for all of it’s beauty between them.

 

Jamie had asked his father not to tell his mother when he took the ring home after the night at the distillery. He guess it was a 50/50 shot his father hadn’t actually told his mother. Jamie knew how close they were, Brian and Ellen shared everything. Not just lovers, married spouses, and partners, but his parents were true best friends. Jamie hoped Brian had kept it under wraps because he really wanted to see the look on his mother’s face when Claire showed up wearing it. The euphoria Ellen would feel would certainly radiate out from her and Jamie wanted them all to be in the path of that, and be there to bear witness to the surprise.

 

To Claire, it felt like deja vu, she and Jamie, walking into Lallybroch with a big secret to tell, this time it was two big secrets. She clutched Jamie’s hand like it was her last hope at life while she dissolved into quicksand below the earth. Though she knew this was the happiest of occasions, she was still nervous. Her lack of experience with parents always showed through during these pivotal moments with Jamie’s parents. It would always pass because Jamie’s parents were phenomenal, but it was always something Claire experienced and would continue to experience for years to come.

 

“Ma, Da, we’re here,” Jamie called out as they walked in the front door, hand in hand. There was no response. Jamie figured everyone must be in the kitchen, it was Sunday dinner after all. The cooking was obviously in process but no one was to be found tending to the stove. Jamie pulled Claire along, towards the back of the house. Before stepping outside, he peeked out the window, then slowly opened the back door making sure not to make a sound.

 

Brian and Ellen were in the garden, between the house and her studio, slow dancing. A simple sway in their step, as they moved together in practiced harmony. Hands clasped at their hearts between them, they danced cheek to cheek to the sounds of nature and the tune in their own minds.

 

Claire’s breath hitched. These two, she thought, overcome with emotion. Her hormones no longer allowed her to swallow her emotions and the tears of awe gently streaked down her face. “Sassenach, what is it?’ Jamie asked, concerned. “Jamie, they are just so beautiful. I hope we’ll be like that when we’re in our 60s,” Claire whispered full of emotion. Jamie collected her into his arms and brought her to his chest, kissing the top of her head. “I love ye so much mo neighan donn. I hope we are too, ‘tis a true gift what they have, but we’ll have our own version, each love is so different and I wouldn’t trade ours for anything,” Jamie said, like he was writing poetry on the spot. Claire nodded into his chest, holding him tighter.

 

It was in that moment that Ellen opened her eyes to see Claire and Jamie standing in the doorway in an embrace. Breaking off from Brian, she yelled, “Welcome loves!”

 

Dragging Brian along by the hand, they both smiled at Jamie and Claire. Once they got closer, Ellen could see that Claire had been crying and immediately got concerned. “What it is Claire?” Ellen asked grabbing her hands…then she felt it. That old familiar Fraser family friend, now resting on Claire’s left finger. Her eyes shot to Claire’s hand. Then to Jamie’s eyes, then to Claire’s.

 

“YER ENGAGED?!” Ellen screamed.

 

A grin the size of the Suez broke out across Jamie’s face, “Aye, Mam, we’re engaged!”

 

The joy shot through Ellen straight to her feet.  The 62 year old woman started jumping up and down. She frantically hugged both Jamie and Claire, still jumping like a teenager. Brian, looked at his wife like she was mad, and simultaneously the most incredible being in the world. He loved her fiercely.

 

Claire’s eyes leaked, Jamie squeezed her into his side with a reassuring tug and they all enjoyed the bliss bubble for a few minutes.

 

After a few minutes of pure jubilation, Ellen realized that she had once again been left out of the fun. “Fraser, you gave him the ring and didn’t tell me?!”

 

Ellen screeched.

 

“Aye, Elle, sometimes a thing has to be between a father and his lad,” Brian smiled at Jamie and then took his wife’s hand kissing it. Looking up at her while kissing her hand, their eyes met. Ellen looked unconvinced. “I swear, I didna want te keep it from ye, and it was no easy, but the lad asked. I had to honor him,” Brian said. Ellen shook her head in understanding and kissed him straight on the mouth.

 

“We’re so happy for ye both,” Brian said to Jamie and Claire, drawing each of them in for a deep Fraser father hug. Slinging his arm around Ellen, he said, “Let’s eat loves.”

 

“Erhmmm,” Jamie sounded as he cleared his throat, suddenly filled with nerves, “There’s one more thing…”

 

Both elder Frasers cast their eyes to their sole remaining son in question, having no idea what else could be said in the same 10 minutes as an engagement that would cause him to be nervous.

 

Claire nodded at Jamie, urging him on. She almost blurted it out, but wanted him to say the words to his parents.

 

“Unrelated to the engagement…yer going to be grandparents again,” Jamie said shyly, like he was a teenager getting caught in bed with a girl.

 

“Truly?” Brian and Ellen said in unison.

 

“Truly,” Claire said.

 

The hugs started again, and more tears. Claire was overwhelmed by the reaction to both events and she wished more than anything that her parents could be there to experience it. But she was also so grateful that even though they weren’t, she had these beautiful people as her family now. Their infectious love was a gift from the universe and she thought romantically, maybe from her parents too, wherever they were.

 

—————————————————

 

8 Years Later

 

Finally after all these years in London, the 6 Frasers  were moving home to Lallybroch.  Claire had taken the position of Chief of Surgery in Inverness, ending a five year stint in London working in an experimental surgery center. It was her job to develop new techniques, test them, get them approved, and teach them to the new residents. It was prestigious, demanding, and rewarding. But it also had a shelf life. They never intended to stay in London so long. The move was set, her new job was in place, all that remained was getting the boxes into the truck, closing up their old life and getting on the road.

 

When Brian fell and broke his hip, they knew it was time to go home. Jamie was needed to take a more active role in Lallybroch again. All the Frasers were needed to run the a distinct portion of the estate and its subsidiaries. Jamie and Claire had always desired a return to the highlands with their whole brood and the time had come.

 

——————————————————————-

 

Though now seventy, Ellen still painted most days, if only to keep moving her arthritic hands. She couldn’t wait to have all of her grandkids in one place. Watching them play outside her studio, as she had once done with her own children was a longtime dream of hers. When the younger Frasers moved to London she thought that dream lost, but it was once reality again and she couldn’t have been happier for it.

 

With Jenny and Ian’s kids now into their teen years, her grandmotherly duties had changed considerably and she longed to have the younguns running around again.

 

The twins, William and Fae (Faith)  now 7, were curious explorers and Ellen knew Lallybroch would be an incredible, educational playground for them. Bree, 5, ran after her twin siblings, desperate to be a part of their exploration club every time they went out. The lass would thrive in the bonnie green fields of Fraser lands. And their parents, Jamie and Claire were always at their best when filled with highland air and wide open space.  

 

To have the daughter of her heart, her son, their bairns and Jenny and Ian and their brood all in the same 5 mile radius again was more than she could have ever dreamed of all those years ago, when Brian looked at her art for the very first time.

 

——————————————————————-

 

Claire’s last day on the job had been full of tearful goodbyes, make sure you come visit comments, and lots of hugs. Taking a look around her office for the last five years for the final time, she was overcome by a wave of nausea and dizziness, then everything went black. She woke up in a hospital bed, connected to an IV, flanked by her dear friend and fellow doctor, Louise.

 

Slowly blinking her eyes open, Claire saw Louise’s petite smiling face.

 

“What happened Louise?” Claire whispered.

 

“Well my dear, you passed out in your office, er, old office,” she said, without the requisite alarm Claire thought she should have in her voice at this moment.

 

“Give me the rundown, what tests did you run? How are my bloods? Have you called Jamie?”

 

“I have not called Jamie because there is no reason for alarm and I know he is with the kids getting ready,” Louise said, succinctly.

 

“Was I just stressed and dehydrated or something? I’ve never passed out before. It’s kind of strange,” Claire stated with raised brows.

 

“Claire, as your friend and doctor, I have to ask you a question,” Louise said, looking directly into Claire’s eyes.

 

Claire began to worry, but nodded her head to encourage Louise on.

 

“You still love your husband right? I’ve seen you together, you must have a lot of sex, no?” Louise asked.

 

Claire went pink, what a strange question, she thought. She and Louise were friends, but not talk about your married sex life type friends. Still a little hazy from fainting, she didn’t think much of it.

 

“Yes, I love my husband, and yes, even after three kids, we make time for the two of us as often as possible,” Claire said clinically.

 

“When was your last period Claire?” Louise asked.

 

“Hummpphh, like a year, I think. I’ve started to transition to the next phase of life Louise,” Claire said, a bit exasperated. Jamie had clued into it before Claire had, (of course). He thought she was pregnant when she missed her cycle two months in a row. But she got a check up from her GP and the GP confirmed she was in perimenopause or pre-menopause. Claire, as a Doctor, knew it was not uncommon to start the multi-year phase before full blown menopause at age 44, but it was still a surprise since she had no family history to hint at when she might begin the shift, since her mother was long passed. Her GP said she might not get her period again, or it might be sporadic and rare. Jamie, ever supportive, had been slightly surprised that she wasn’t pregnant and disappointed too, Claire thought later. She suspected he had always hoped for a fourth child even though they had decided three was plenty new Fraser blood in the world.

 

“Well Claire, this is going to knock your socks off, you’re pregnant,” Louise said, with a smile, “the labs confirm it.”

 

“WHAT?! How? Is this even possible?” Claire stammered out.

 

“You’re a doctor Claire,” Louise laughed, “you know full well it is. Rare, but possible.”

 

“I…I’m speechless…,” Claire said.

 

“It looks like this life change, going back to Scotland, couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s seems…perfect,” Louise said, reaching to give her friend’s hand a squeeze.

 

“Perfect…” Claire whispered out in a hopeful, if disbelieving tone.

 

Claire’s internal monologue began to run rampant. Jamie is going to freak. He’s going to be so thrilled. That man loves a pregnant woman more than anyone I’ve ever seen. To see him with a baby again…sigh…I cannot believe this. A mother again at 45. Oh no, what about the job. Ellen and Brian and going to be over the moon. Can I give birth again. Shit, another baby…I’m…so excited!

 

In the end Claire’s thoughts ran the gamut but settled in the same space where the baby had been conceived, pure love. Out of love and into love this small growing human would be. The only question was when to tell Jamie…and how.

 

—————————————————————————

 

Claire was released after a full check up and a long discussion with Louise and a specialist in “advanced age or geriatric” pregnancy. Armed with some hidden prenatal vitamins in her bag and a long list of dos and donts, she entered their London house for the last time. In the morning, the Fraser clan would hit the road, leaving the bustling city behind for greener pastures, literally.

 

The now 44 year old surgeon walked into their boxed up home and was met with pizza, balloons, flowers, and four Frasers.

 

“Ye ok mo graigh? Ye look a little more pearl than normal,” her ever observant husband said, kissing her on the mouth. All three younger Frasers, yelled out, “ewww” in perfect unison. They were getting to that age when physical affection between their parents grossed them out.

 

“Yes, I’m fine. It was an emotional last day, I’m a tad overwhelmed. Nothing some pizza and mini Fraser hugs won’t fix,” she said, opening her arms wide as her little ones squeezed in for hugs before running back to their food.

 

Jamie eyed her suspiciously but decided not to push. He knew from experience some conversations were better left for when prying little ears were asleep for the night.

 

——————————————————————————-

 

The air mattress puffed up as Jamie sat on the edge before arranging himself next to his wife, leveling off the delicate balance of the modern invention of a pop up bed. The little Frasers were all snug in their sleeping bags on mats in one room, since they had wanted to spend their last night in the house all together. Jamie had found it endearing and couldn’t resist allowing, though he knew they probably wouldn’t get much sleep. Tired children might benefit them on the long drive north.  

 

The unusually translucent paleness of Claire’s skin when she had arrived home had not ceased. She had also been unusually quiet as she made her way through her nighttime routine. She was in “bed” staring at the ceiling by the time Jamie got back from tucking in the small humans.

 

“Claire…I love ye…ye know ye can tell me anything right?” Jamie asked hesitantly, not wanting to spook her. He could feel the thoughts in her mind racing and crashing together.

 

“I know Jamie, really I do and I love you for it. I do have something to tell you and I’m not sure how,” Claire said, rolling over to meet his gaze as the air mattress groaned.

 

He intertwined their hands, kissed her knuckles, encouraging her on, looking up through his lashes. Those flashes of deep blue, could disarm even her biggest fear, even after the years spent together. They consistently said, even in the darkest of times, “I see you, I love you, I am here for you, no matter what.”

 

“I passed out today at the office as I was giving it a final look around. I remember feeling dizzy and the next thing I knew, I woke up in one of the beds hooked up to an IV.”

 

Jamie bolted upright, “WHAT? Why didn’t you call me? Are ye alright? Oh Claire…” said nervously.

 

Placing a hand on each of his shoulders, she coaxed him back down to the mattress. Facing each other, lying on their sides, Claire’s hand soothed the etched lines of concern on his face, and kissed him gently.

 

“I’m fine, nothing too much is wrong…well nothing is wrong at all,” she said, correcting herself. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the situation at all. She was happy, overjoyed even, nervous, but overjoyed.

 

“What do you mean?” Jamie asked.

 

“My love…,” she said dragging a finger along his jaw as he looked at her intently, “You’re going to be a father again.”

 

Jamie gasped, bolted back upright, bouncing Claire on the air mattress as he did, and stared at her.

 

“What…How…is it…do ye really mean it?” Jamie babbled out.

 

Claire sat up, clasped his hand, gave it a squeeze, looked directly into fathomless blue and said, “Yes, I really mean it. I’m pregnant again.”

 

Just as he had done, the two other times she was with child, he began to weep. He brought her in for a hug, and they let their bodies mold into each other. Creating a soul seal, heart to heart. Filled with the bliss of a new piece of physical evidence of their love, slowly making its way into the world.

 

Claire pulled back, “Happy tears?” she asked, knowing the answer.

 

“Aye,” her husband said, kissing her, “Happy tears for our life together, for us, for our three children, for our fourth yet unborn child, and for thanking all that is holy, every single day, for you. Whatever I did to deserve ye, I would do it over and over again in a thousand lifetimes, if it meant I got to feel this with you for even one minute. I love ye so much Claire and I can’t wait to have another child with ye.”

 

——————————————————————-

 

The 10 hour drive north, was made significantly better by the fact that all three small humans slept for 4 hours straight. Letting them sleep in the same room and stay up until all hours chatting had been a stroke of genius on Jamie’s part. Once they woke, there were more frequent stops, lunch, bathroom breaks, running around breaks, and of course, pull over to pry the kids off of each other while fighting breaks.

 

Jamie and Claire split up the driving, but were never far from a hand hold or a stroke of the arm. Their new found secret growing inside of Claire. An excited joy coursed through each of them. Knowing, loving looks, were exchanged, over the questions of whichever Fraser from the back seat was being heard from. Everything felt right.

 

Pulling into the car park of Lallybroch, 12 hours later, Jamie looked over at Claire. He reached over and pressed his lips to Claire’s. Although a chaste kiss, all three small Frasers said “yuck,” in unison. Jamie and Claire exchanged a deep grin. They were truly home.

 

The End

______________________________________________________________