"Jaaaa-mie, breakfast is ready!"
Jamie smelt burned food as he came out of the shower and walked into the adjoining bedroom. Wrapping a towel around his waist, he sat on the slipper chair to check his phone. Burnt waffles! He smiled. This was Claire's third attempt in the week in making waffles after revealing that he loved them.
"Jamie, is there really a need for Angus to drive me to the doctor's today? Surely, I can go by myself. My car hardly gets used, and really, it needs a run." Claire ambled into the bedroom with a mug of black coffee, wearing a short silk floral blue robe loosely tied around her waist, her stomach protruding at the opening.
Jamie sighed, looking up to his wife. "Sassenach, we've been through this before. I can't have ye walking around on yer own in town while I'm away in Paris. I can't take any chances with all the headcases crawling out of the woodwork."
The news of Jamie's marriage had spread like wildfire when they returned to Inverness three and a half months ago. He hadn't liked the intrusion on Claire's privacy as the press found out the identity of his wife. There were several candid pictures taken of her in town and unscrupulously published in a tabloid newspaper. The last straw was when Jamie's representatives had intercepted hate mails and messages on his public social media accounts. Although most were petty and seemingly harmless, one message was traced to Laoghaire MacKenzie's brother with death threats. The threats came after it was revealed that the MacKenzie/Christie case may be taken to the Scottish High courts.
Fearing for his wife's safety, more than his own, Jamie had ensconced themselves in his penthouse apartment with the round the clock security surveillance. He loathed leaving the cottage since it was the first place Jamie had felt at home since leaving Lallybroch, and for the most part, Claire loved it there. Jamie was aware it would have been a matter of time before the media discovered their hideaway, and he was mindful that Tom Christie knew the address of the cottage.
Claire stood in front of him with an exaggerated pout as she handed him the coffee. Jamie knew his wife was restless after being relieved from work after a photographer had nearly hampered an emergency case Claire was working on; moreover, there was the doctor's warning about stress because of her high blood pressure.
Jamie took the coffee off Claire's hand and placed it on the table. He undid her robe to kiss her belly before pulling her down onto his lap, her legs straddling him. "Now Sassenach, ye promise me ye'll not try to lose Angus this time. The poor man was almost out of his wits with worry the last time ye tried to abscond. I know ye don't like the security and the fuss, but we have the baby to think about now, aye? And I'm so sorry I cannae be with ye for the doctor's appointment." He leaned forward for a kiss, his large hands firm on her hips. "Mmm, ye taste of hazelnut chocolate spread."
"I promise." Claire sighed as her arms snaked around his neck. "Besides, I have a project that I'm working on, and I'll need Angus' brawn with the shopping, so I need to stay on his good side. Shall I message you later when I find out the gender of the baby?"
"Ye can call me anytime, Sassenach, but no... I want the gender of our baby to be a surprise. But keep me updated what the doctor says about yer health." Jamie's first and foremost concern was Claire's well being as he tried to push away thoughts of how his mother had died, giving birth to a stillborn child. He didn't want to leave her, but he needed to sort out some paperwork in Paris concerning Château Cheval Blanc.
"Alright then, if you want it to be a surprise, the baby's room is off-limits to you. I plan to decorate it while you're away, and Geillis and Gail promised to come around to help with some ideas."
"Mmmm...off-limits. Got it. Now let see what delectables you have for my breakfast," Jamie breathed nuzzling her neck as he slipped off Claire's robe down her arms.
"Jamie! We just did it this morning, and you have a plane to catch!" But his warm breath against her skin was already sending tingling sensation down her spine.
Jamie ignored her remark. "Christ Sassenach, yer tits are so massive, and yer arse is so plump and round." He nibbled her earlobe delicately, one hand cupping the weight of her breast and another squeezing her arse, as he pulled her closer to his hard arousal. "Feel that Sassenach, that's what ye do to me when ye walk around half-naked. Damn, ye're so bonnie...so sexy," he whispered in a ragged voice.
"And you're so ravenous and insatiable...how are you going to survive a few days in Paris, huh?" Claire whispered as her hips started to move against him, pulling his head down to her breast. She smiled as he groaned, his hip movements matching her own.
Impatiently, Jamie raised Claire by the hips to pull down her panties and whipped off his towel before lowering her down to his cock. Then he reached down to their adjoining nakedness and stroked her sensitive spot. "Weel, ye just have to talk dirty to me tonight on the phone. They call it in French, en libre service ." He chuckled softly as he heard her gasp, knowing she was shocked and roused at his suggestion.
Claire's head lolled back as Jamie bent his head to tease a nipple. " En libre service? Alright Jamie, tell me more about it...what would you like to hear as by way of example..." she whispered as a whimper escaped her lips.
Jamie raised his head from her breast, and with one hand behind her neck, pulled her closer. As Claire began to rock more frantically against him, he whispered all the naughty things he intended to do to her once he was back from Paris.
Joe had suggested accompanying Claire to see the doctor, which he had done on previous occasions as Jamie had been very busy with work. He had recommended as soon as she was back from Lallybroch to make an appointment for a screening test, acknowledging that there was a high probability of abnormality with her baby after she had ingested ketamine a few weeks back. Joe had voiced his concern to Claire, but she had been adamant that whatever they find wrong with the baby, she refused to terminate her pregnancy. Joe knew if Jamie had found out that there was a risk of developmental challenges, disability or risk to Claire's life, he would have had wanted a say as Joe had known how his mother had died. Stubborn as Claire was, she had prohibited Joe from voicing his concern to Jamie, thinking this was probably the only chance she'll ever be pregnant. As it turned out and much to his relief and surprise, and after a series of doctor's appointments, Claire and her baby were in perfect health. And today they were about to find out the gender.
"Are you excited, LJ? I'd say though, you look massive for 21 weeks," he chortled as he looked her over on the examination bed and held her hand. "Importantly though, I'm glad that you're passing through all examinations with flying colours and you're positively glowing."
Claire's face turned a shade crimson as she thought of Jamie, secretly attributing her glow from their lovemaking earlier in the day. "You know, as much as I'm enjoying this pregnancy, I can't wait for the baby to be born. Jamie is driving me nuts with his worry. He has enough on his plate already, and he still insists on cooking when he comes home from work. And for crying out loud, he even hired a cleaner to come twice weekly. And he's so paranoid with the trial, he had the cleaner screened thoroughly."
"Well, after what you've been through, coupled with being a first-time parent, I can hardly blame him. And you missy, knowing how stubborn you are, you tend to do as you please which makes all the more difficult for him. Go easy on Jamie...you know how much he loves you and with his mother's history..."
Claire sighed. "I know, I know. It's just so difficult not doing anything but I guess, I'll be busy enough doing the nursery."
"Mrs Fraser, Dr Abernathy, hello, are we ready for the scan?" Claire and Joe turned towards the door as her doctor, Dr Grant, a woman in her fifties and a female sonographer walked in. "We've done this before, and it shouldn't take long, so whenever we're ready..."
Indeed it was all very a standard routine test, and Claire only felt the mild discomfort of the coldness of the lubricating gel slathered onto her belly, and the handheld probe pressing near her full bladder, making Claire want to burst. When the first images appeared on the screen, she could hardly make out any semblance as the monitor was not in her direct vision, but she could hear soundwaves coming from the ultrasound probe. But when Joe's head tilted funnily and his brows furrowed, Claire became worried.
"Joe, what is it?" Trying to suppress a rising panic, she tried to turn her head around to her side to take a look at the screen monitor, but she couldn't make out the images.
Joe's eyes were about to pop out. "Is that what I think it is?" he asked nobody in particular.
"Joe!!!!! For fuck sake Joe, what is it?!?"
Dr Grant smiled. "Congratulations Mrs Fraser...it looks like you're expecting twins."
"Twins? There was no mention of twins in Claire's previous examination," Joe said with utter disbelief.
"Well, they call it the hidden twin and sometimes they're not detected until later. See here?" Dr Grant pointed, "There's the second baby. And it's quite clear from here the twins are girls."
"Sweet Mother of Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! Jamie wanted a surprise... well... he's definitely in for a surprise."
"Och twin girls, Claire, double the trouble an' double the fun. Ah bet Jamie nearly had a heart attack," Geillis smirked as she danced around the nursery, not really concentrating in measuring the walls for wallpaper.
Claire was sat in a reclining chair she had recently bought, sipping cold lemon water as she watched her friend. "Jamie doesn't know."
"What? Why didnae ye tell him?" Geillis stopped mid-twirl.
"Well, I did ask him before he left for Paris if he wanted to know the result of the scan and Jamie said he wanted it to be a surprise. And surprise he will get." Indeed a surprise considering Claire was still in a state of shock. She had yet to wrap her head around the prospect of having twins, let alone the impact it would have on their lives and her career as a doctor. She had wanted, after her maternity leave, to complete her residency at the Northern Royal Infirmary, instead of continuing to work at the Scottish Ambulance Service. Murtagh had thought too that it was for the best as he didn't want any more press lurking around the emergency department.
"But Claire, he was probably talkin' aboot the gender. Surely he would want tae ken how many mouths he has tae provide for. No' that he cannae afford it,"
"Good Lord, Geillis, it's bad enough him knowing I have a baby...imagine what he would be like when he finds out we're having twins. So promise me that you'll zip your mouth, alright? The only people who know about the twins are Jenny, Joe and you. So not a word!"
Geillis made an action of zipping her mouth, her cheeks dimpling wickedly. "That wee secret of yours will be hard tae keep an' surely, Jamie will start to wonder you're unusual size at yer next stage of pregnancy. An' how about the bairns' shower? An' the nursery? How will ye keep that all a secret from Jamie?"
Claire waved the key to the nursery room. "The nursery is off-limits to Jamie, and he knows that too, but as a precaution, in case he does get tempted to take a peek, the door will be locked. And Jamie will be too busy at work in the next few months...he said so himself as he planned to have paternity leave. And as for the baby shower, Jenny had already offered to organise it. That woman is truly a wonder."
"Speaking of the wee fox cub, there are pictures of him in Paris hittin' the news already. The press in France sure loves him. Ah wonder how the public took the story now that he's nae longer in the single market."
"I don't want to know Geillis, and I don't read news about Jamie. I just hope he doesn't blurt out that we're having a baby because he does have that tendency. Thank God the press doesn't know about it yet, and I guess, having Angus around to drive me about and accompany me, has its perks."
Jamie noticed his godfather came more often to the gym than he used to. Usually taken to running to keep himself fit, he had been doing a lot more strength building and trained more often with Jamie. And the change didn't stop there. Ever since Jamie was a wee bairn, he'd always only seen Murtagh with a full beard, so it was a shock when his godfather walked into the gym with a clean-shaven face.
"Dare I ask what's with the sudden change in your looks?" He tried to suppress a smile, but Jamie had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with his aunt Jocasta. Ian had already informed him that his aunt will be flying back to Scotland soon and visiting Inverness and apparently, to be there when Claire gives birth to their baby.
"Dinna bother and one word about my beard, I'll wallop ye," Murtagh warned in a gruff voice as he started his warm-up exercises doing arm swings and standing-trunk-twists next to his godson.
Jamie didn't say another word, and Murtagh only broke the silence as they went on to their next warm-up on the stationary bicycle. "How's Beauchamp?" Despite Claire not working for the Ambulance service anymore, Murtagh continued to call her by her maiden name.
"Aye, she's braw." Jamie paused, hesitating as he pedalled vigorously on the bike. "Say, what do ye think about Claire's size? That bairn she's carrying looks massive in her tummy."
Murtagh glanced at him as if he was asking a stupid question. "Weel, with yer muckle size, what did ye expect? Obviously, the baby must take after ye...size-wise that is."
"Hmm, I've never seen a pregnant tummy that huge. I'm just worried about Claire...she can hardly get off the chair, and she tires easily. Do ye think that's normal?" Jamie asked, reflectively.
"I dinna ken. Why ye asking me? Ask yer sister," Murtagh muttered as he doubled his efforts on the bike.
"I did. I know Jenny has more experience when it comes to pregnancy, but she just dismissed it as Claire being a tall lassie. She said, the taller the lass, the bigger the tummy. That doesna make any sense at all."
"When is she due?"
"In two months...December she said. But the way I see it, she looks like she's about to pop."
Murtagh just mentally shrugged, not really interested in pregnancy talks. "Jamie, I've meant to ask ye something..."
Jamie got off the bike and waited for his godfather. When Murtagh finally finished, they walked over to the rowing machine. "What is it?"
"Aye weel, I was thinking..."
"Ye're very perceptive! How dae ye ken?"
"For fuck sake Murtagh, I saw ye fondling my aunt's arse back in Lallybroch as both of ye dancing to slow music during the party...the whole hamlet knows," Jamie pointed out laughing, as he settled down on the rowing machine.
Murtagh's face turned red, and it was even more evident without his beard. But Jamie couldn't tell if his reddened face was down to being found out or exertion from their warm-up.
Claire was doing some finishing touches to her hair, and as usual, her locks refused to cooperate, so she opted to leave it loose around her shoulders instead. It was aunt Jocasta's birthday, and she had the whole French restaurant booked for the venue. As Jamie was going to be late for the dinner, Murtagh and Jocasta had offered to pick Claire up on the way.
Claire was slightly worried about going to the party as she knew pregnancy with twins means she can go on to labour before the nine months term. She was already on her 37th week, and Jamie had no idea she was carrying more than one baby. Dr Grant had informed her during one of her more regular visits that at 38th week they would have to induce the birth, assuring her everything was perfect even if she had been complaining of sharp back pains. Twice, Claire had gone to the hospital with Geillis thinking it was time and each time it had been a false alarm. Despite the possibility of complication, Claire had insisted on keeping it secret, knowing Jamie was too busy with work. She wished now she had confided to more people, but Geillis had promised all will be well and to stop worrying as it was not good for the bairns.
When the doorbell rang, Claire waddled to the door, feeling slightly out of breath, as she felt shooting pain in her back. It was Murtagh on his own as he had left Jocasta in the car.
"Christ lass, are ye alright? Ye looked a bit flushed," Murtagh asked with concern in his voice.
And just as Claire had feared and of all days to happen, her water broke.
"Oh...ahh...I think I'm about to give birth," Claire breathed heavily, holding onto the door. As she felt herself sway, Murtagh, caught her in his arms just on time.
Jamie was just finishing some paperwork when his godfather had called to inform him Claire was taken to the hospital. At the mention of the word hospital, he didn't let Murtagh finished his sentence and was already on his feet, dropping everything he was doing. His heart was hammering as Jamie weaved through the traffic, willing his car to go faster, cursing himself for working late. All sorts went through his head and the one memory he didn't want to think about kept resurfacing in his mind: his mother's death giving birth. Dear God, please let her be safe.
When Jamie reached the Northern Royal Infirmary, Joe was already there to greet him. "C'mon buddy. You're about to become a da! Claire's in labour. I think the babies are too eager to come out," Joe announced calmly as he led Jamie to the lift that would take them to the maternity ward.
"Babies? Da? I thought she wasn't due until December. Murtagh only said Claire was taken to the hospital, so I presumed it must have had something to do with her high blood pressure..." Christ, what the fuck is going on...why is Claire having the baby now?
Joe caught himself. "Erm, I mean Claire and the baby are ready. It happened so quickly, and we didn't think...Anyway, she's fully dilated and is on active labour now. The contractions are so close together...so you'll be a da anytime soon."
Fully dilated? What the fuck does that mean? Jamie had attended only a couple of Lamaze classes with Claire, and he remembered the breathing techniques.
Joe looked at Jamie oddly. "What are you doing, Jamie?"
Jamie was doing rapid, short breaths. "Practicing for the birth? Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? Christ, am I doing it all wrong?"
Joe smiled and slapped Jamie on the back. "That's Claire's job. You're only there to assist her with the breathing. C'mon, calm down. Claire's doing wonderfully, and Gail is there with her."
"Oh Christ Almighty, I'm really going to be a da. Oh God...oh God. Christ, can't this lift go any faster?" Jamie was impatiently moving around and fidgeting in the lift much to Joe's amusement.
When the lift finally opened, Joe guided Jamie through the corridors of the maternity ward, and Jamie grimaced inwardly as he heard birthing screams and moans at each door he passed by. "Right buddy, do you want to be in the room with Claire, or do you want to wait until it's over? You don't have to you know...Claire's in good hands."
Jamie didn't hesitate, as he removed his tie and stuffed it in his suit pocket. "Aye, aye. I want to be there. I'm ready." He slammed a fist on his hand, puffing big breaths out as if he's about to enter a boxing ring.
"Right, you need to wear scrubs as we're going to the operating theatre."
Jamie's face turned white. "What? Why the operating theatre? Are there any complications? I thought everything was going well?"
"Standard procedure buddy just in case the doctor deems it necessary to perform caesarian..." In actual fact and what Joe didn't tell Jamie was that most twin or multiple births are done in the operating theatre in case one of the babies refused to come out of the womb and the doctors are forced to perform a caesarian.
"Caesarian? Th-they'll cut her open? Claire had always wanted a natural birth...is it truly necessary?"
"Not necessarily...like what I said it's all precautionary. Calm down now...Claire needs you, remember that. "
A few minutes later, dressed in scrubs, a very nervous Jamie was led into the operating theatre. He stood there for a minute, dumbfounded taking the whole scene in, thinking what a pair of healthy lungs Claire had, and the sounds she was making made him tremble on his feet. Jamie saw his wife surrounded by medical staff, and there were monitors and bright lights everywhere and not the birthing room he had expected.
"YOU BEASTLY SCOT, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN?" Claire screamed as soon as she realised Jamie was there, to the astonishment and shock of the doctors and nurses. Ever since she was wheeled into the hospital, Claire had been shouting all sorts of profanities that would shock a naval officer. Even Jenny and Ian, who were attending Jocasta's party, and were immediately on the scene, was shocked but amused at Claire's very colourful use of the language.
"Mr James Fraser?"
"Aye?" Jamie's eyes darted from the doctor's face to his wife, who had a look as if she's about to commit murder, her riot of curls wild if not plastered to her perspiring face.
"Yer wife is about to give birth, you can stand here or take a stool next to her."
Jamie didn't need prodding and immediately went to Claire, nearly slipping and sliding under the operating bed from his awkward and shaky movement. As he caught himself, Jamie leaned over his wife, one arm around her head and the other, taking her hand in his. "Ssshh Sassenach, so sorry...so verra sorry. I'm here now, and I love ye...love ye to bits. And ye're so beautiful...and I love ye..." He regretted holding her hand after realising what a strong grip she had, her fingernails digging into the back of his. He winced but kept his hold firm, as his other hand stroke her hair, keeping it away from her face.
Claire let out another howl as she pushed with her back. "I FUCKING HATE YOU JAMIE FRASER. LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ME. WAIT TILL I GET MY HANDS ON YOUR BALLS.....AAAAAHHHHHH!"
Jamie swallowed audibly as he felt Claire's body convulsed with pain. He closed his eyes, wishing he could take the pain away from her, and for once, he felt utterly useless.
"I can see the head Mrs Fraser, just a little bit more," a gentle voice reminded Claire, as she prepared to push, her face contorted in pain.
Jamie's face was as white as the hospital's bedsheets, as Claire grunted and his heart thundered between his ears. His wife's nails, earlier digging painfully into the back of his hand was no longer felt as he heard the sound of a baby's wail to rival his wife. The room suddenly spun, and Claire's cries and the medical staffs' mutterings became distant. "Congratulations Mrs Fraser! Looks like this wee one inherited your pair of lungs," he heard one of the doctors said before he succumbed to the oblivion.
A couple of minutes later, a nurse hovered over Jamie, and he came to his senses immediately as something pungent and strong was waved under his nose. Realising at once what was happening, he quickly got onto his unsteady feet, breathing as many big breaths as his lungs can muster. He leaned over Claire, who was sobbing uncontrollably. Taking her into his arms, he looked around to catch a glimpse of the baby, but he couldn't see it. "Sassenach, shh...it's over now, the baby is here. Ye were so brave...so incredible, and I love ye so..."
"Right, Mr and Mrs Fraser, are you ready for baby number two? This next one is very impatient to come out, and we don't need to wait," announced a doctor with a smug smile on his face.
"W-What?? Wait a minute...what ye mean number two?" Jamie's voice faltered before he fainted once again for the second time, his head making a resounding thud on the floor.
It was too late for any of the nurses to check on Jamie, as the second baby came out without a hitch and with less push required from Claire.
Once the babies were safely delivered and taken to be cleaned, the bewildered staff looked at Jamie's immobile body, still on the floor and then Claire, who was wildly dishevelled and wet from perspiration and exertion.
"Well, my darling husband wanted a surprise, and I merely obliged," Claire shrugged with a smile as she leaned back against the pillow, feeling all of a sudden tired and spent; nevertheless relieved and ecstatic that their baby girls were safe, whole and healthy.
Jamie looked down at his wife, the twins nestled against her chest. After Claire and the babies were cleaned, they were rolled into their own private room in the hospital and were given an hour of family bonding. The bairns have latched on immediately as Claire breast-fed them and now slept contentedly. Jamie wasn't ready to share them to the world just yet even if he knew friends and family were waiting outside. Taking off his shoes, he slid into bed next to Claire, putting his arm above her head as he laid on his side, watching his bairns sleep.
He leaned towards his wife and kissed her on the forehead. "Ye were so incredible, Sassenach. The birth...ye...and everything has been a miracle. I dinna ken how ye've done it, but ye were so brave and strong." Jamie contemplated for a bit as he leaned to kiss the babies' head, inhaling their clean smell. "Ye've given me so much...yer love, our babies. I have so much joy in my heart that I feel I'm about to burst anytime soon."
Claire smiled, tenderly at her husband. "And I love you, Jamie Fraser and I'm sorry for shouting at you. How's your head?" she croaked hoarsely as all her screaming from earlier started to take its toll.
Jamie chuckled. "Och, it's fine. I dinna mean to faint like a wee lassie on ye, but it must have been all yer screaming that did it to me. I couldna bear the pain ye were going through. I wanted to take all yer pain, and I would have gladly suffered it for yer sake."
Claire was just lifting her face to kiss Jamie when the door to their room suddenly opened.
"Right, ye two, that's enough. Ye have plenty of time for cuddles later. We want to see the baby!" Jenny announced as she burst into the room, followed hesitantly by friends and family.
"Jenny!" Ian tried to pull back his wife, shrugging apologetically, but Jamie signalled them all to come in with a nod of his head, not moving from his position.
Jenny and Geillis were immediately leaning over Claire's side, crooning at the sight of the bairns as the rest congratulated the new parents.
"Och, they're no' identical... one's got dark hair an' the other lighter," Geillis chirped excitedly as she gently touched each baby's head.
Everybody crowded around the bed to have a better look. "Do we have names for the bairns yet?" Aunt Jocasta piped in as she stood by his nephew's side, one hand on his shoulder.
Jamie straightened up from his position. "Weel, everybody, Claire and I'd like to introduce ye to our beautiful lassies, Hope and Faith Fraser...our wee bundles of joy and miracle..."
"Hope and Faith...how fitting after what both of you have been through," Joe said, smiling.
"Aye, Claire and I have talked about names. We have already decided on the name Faith awhile back if the bairn is to be a girl. But my wife never told me about a second girl," he laughed, lightly tapping Claire on her nose.
Claire looked at Jenny, smiling. "We thought too of the name Brian after your father, if the baby was a boy."
Murtagh peered his head to take a look. "So which one is which?"
"Well, Hope is with lighter hair and Faith is with the darker hair," Claire explained, her tired face breaking into a contented smile as she leaned her head towards Jamie's shoulder.
Jamie felt Claire's head bobbed up and down, trying to keep lucid in front of their friends and family. To his relief, the nurse came in to take the babies and announce visiting hours were over. By the time all of them left, Claire was already sound asleep, weary from all the excitement and effort of giving birth. Jamie remained where he was, holding his wife tight against him, thinking of the future for his young family. He said a silent prayer of gratitude as he stroke Claire's hair, and for the first time that day, Jamie allowed tears of happiness to flow freely until he too eventually fell into a peaceful sleep.