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Out of The Darkness

Chapter Text

May 2019

He sat on the edge of the bed and slumped his shoulders forward and exhaled. I could see his jaw tensing, as the side of his face was exposed to me. There was so much emotion written on his face, that all I could do was look away. I sighed and tried to find the words to express what I was deeply feeling, but the tears rolling down my cheeks were overbearing. I closed my eyes and he began, “I have tried my best to figure out a way…to…to help ye through the guilt your feeling but all ye want to do is shut me out. Why can’t ye just let me be there for ye? Can ye answer that Claire?”. I squeezed my eyes shut when I heard the word “guilt” leave his mouth. I felt his eyes on me searching my face, looking for an answer and the truth was I couldn’t give him one. All of this, everything is my fault and no amount of comfort could ever shake this bone deep pain and guilt I feel inside. “Claire,” he begged and I just looked down at my hands and shook my head.

***Five months earlier***

November 2018

“Happy birthday to you…”
“Now make a wish” I echoed to the identical faces that were illuminated by the lit candles. The two auburn-haired girls brought their heads close together, leaning into one another to blow out the six candles. Both grinning from ear to ear, the beaming smiles matched each other exactly. “Keep smiling and look up at me, a’leannan and m’annsachd,” Jamie said with his phone up trying to take a picture. The girls held the smiles then the one on the left dropped hers and said loudly, “Can we have cake now? We been taking pictures all day Da”. I snickered shaking my head and began removing candles from the birthday cake, “Yes, you can have cake now but only one big piece”. I cut out rectangular pieces of the cake and placed them on small pink plates. Today the girls turn six years old and I don’t know where the time has gone. Jamie and I decided that it was easier to have a birthday party for them at our home. The girls got to pick out everything they wanted from the color of the balloons to the print on the goodies bags. Planning their birthday party was such a painful process, these two never agreed upon anything. There was only one thing that we could get them to agree upon, lots of pink and a strawberry shortcake. The girls’ preference in pink and strawberry shortcake is the only commonality between the two. They are so drastically different that sometimes it’s hard to believe they are identical twins.

Six years ago, today, at 1:54pm, Brianna entered this world, loudly; she was a mere 5 lbs. and 6 ounces. Brianna was such a tiny little thing with soft peach fuzz, where hair should be. With skin still covered in vernix and blood, she was placed upon my chest; it wasn’t until she was placed in Jamie’s arms that she had stopped crying. Emotional from the life changing events taking place, it was then that the contractions started again. Approximately 10 minutes following her sister, Faith entered this world; her birth not as smooth sailing like Bree’s. I could feel that something was wrong before the Obstetrician told me not to push. It felt like my insides were being twisted, pulled, and squeezed all at once but at the same time it felt like I had to take the biggest shit of my life. Faith was stuck, her left shoulder was wedged on my pelvis preventing her from being born. As the birthing team tried their hardest to unwedge her shoulder, I was screaming so hard my vocal cords felt like they were tearing and my throat was drier than the Sahara. While all this chaos was going on Jamie was holding my hand (he didn’t have a choice I was dead set on breaking his hand) trying to calm me down. During that moment, his name escaped my mind, the only thing I could muster up to call him was a “damn bastard”. Finally, when the doctors un-wedge Faith’s shoulder, I pushed with everything I had. It took a few pushes for her to come out, but there was yet another problem with my sweet baby girl. She was blue, not the rosy pink her sister had. My heart shattered into a million pieces when I didn’t hear that piercing cry that Bree let out upon entering the world. The doctors had to resuscitate her. That was the scariest couple of minutes of my life. When I heard a small cry, I let out the breath I had been holding all that time. Jamie kissing every part of my sweaty and tear stained face as tears were running down his face. After being momentarily placed in my arms, the nurses took her away to get tested and cleaned up as her sister had been. Reeling from birthing two little humans and afterbirth, I immediately gave into sleep. Hours later I woke to the doctor explaining to Jamie exactly what happened to Faith. My contractions caused the umbilical cord to be squeezed, thus cutting off her oxygen.

After unwrapping their presents, handing out goodies bags, and saying goodbye to their friends, both girls were knocked out on the sofa in our living room. Faith was stretched out on the left of our ash-colored sofa as Bree was on the right. Both girls with their heads lying next to each other (auburn curls draped off the end of the sofa) with mouths slightly ajar. After placing the last of the dishes into the dishwasher, I leaned into the solid warmth of my husband. “Next time, I bring up having more than four children, remind me of how tired I was in this moment”. I placed my arms around his waist as I hugged him from behind, exhaling as my cheek pressed against his back. “Aye, Sassenach. Are ye ready to discuss having more bairns again?” he said with an innocence that was out of pure curiosity. “No I am not.” I mumbled.

We have been deciding on whether it was the right time to have more children. This was a discussion we have had many times, sometimes it led to an argument and sometimes it led to tears. The root of this issue was my fear, after what happened with Faith the likelihood of that happening again is extremely high. I could see the yearning in Jamie’s face every time he looked at our girls or any baby in public. I wanted so very much to fulfill that desire he held, but something was holding me back. The timing of it all just didn’t feel right.
I slowly was about to release my arms from around his waist, when he grasps them and squeezed, “I’m sorry Sassenach, I dinna mean….”,he trailed off. I released a shaky breath as he turned around to hug me tightly and gently place a kiss in my hair. I responded, “I know. Shall we get them into bed?” He placed both hands on my cheeks moving my head to look up at him. I couldn’t help but smile as my eyes met his, after all these years he still made my heart flutter every time our eyes met. He smiled back and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. “Aye. Lets get them into bed.” he said and placed another quick kiss on my lips. He let go of my face and I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. One look from him and…
Jamie walked quietly over to the sofa and kneeled in front of our girls sleeping bodies. Faith had migrated to curling herself into a cradling position. She had her hands between her cheeks and the sofa with her curls laid out neatly. On the other hand, Bree had her arms thrown up on both sides of her head, with one leg dangling off the sofa. Jamie whispered gently, “Faith, Bree, come let’s get ye in bed”. Both girls groaned and opened their eyes slightly. Jamie moved to stand up but Bree then Faith climbed into his arms and laid their heads on his shoulders. I smiled to myself and shook my head at them. Jamie brought his big arms around their bottoms and looked over at me. “Soon I won’t be able to do this anymore Sassenach. I must take advantage of it now” he defended. Jamie made his way up the stairs rather gently as if he was carry precious cargo. We each got their birthday dresses off and put their pajamas on them. I kissed their small heads and moved to leave their room. Jamie bent down and whispered something to Bree before kissing her forehead. It wasn’t until he bent down to kiss Faith, that I heard him whisper, “Happy birthday a’leannan and m’annsachd".
Little did we know that for one of our daughters, today was the last birthday she would celebrate on this earth.

Chapter Text

“Brianna Ellen Fraser, wake up! We’re all going to be late!”

Every morning it took entirely too long to wake this child of mine up. Now that the girls were at school full time, our morning routine had changed. She groaned and slowly sat up, her auburn curls looking like a bird’s nest. Blinking her eyes open, dejavu struck me and I got a clear image of Jamie waking up next to me with the same expression.

I began taking her uniform out of the wardrobe and laid it out on the bed. A maroon and black plaid skirt with a white shirt, and a pair of black tights which I pulled out of her sock drawer.

“Teeth. Now.” I said, my voice clipped.

Praying that this grumpy child of mine could at least take care of brushing her teeth, I decided to make sure my other children (Jamie included sometimes) were ready for the day.

As I came down the stairs, I saw Faith sitting at the kitchen table, little legs swinging on the chair. She was already dressed and eating breakfast with Jamie, both of them giggling over their bowls of cereal.

“It’s your morning to get the girls up and ready for school, you forgot one of them in bed,” I said scornfully with a finger pointing up.

“I figured it was best you handle her Sassenach, we both know how she can be in the morning,'' he rebutted.

I exhaled slowly and checked the time “Sh--” I began, stopping myself as I remembered little ears were listening five steps in front of me.

“Faith, go rush your sister lovey. Before your both late” I instructed as I picked up her bowl.

I made my way over to the sink and placed the milk-filled bowl in it. Jamie strolled over, coming up behind me like a feline getting ready to pounce on its prey. Putting both hands on the sink, I could feel his nose in my hair, as he breathed me in. The entire lateral side of my body, from my buttocks to the back of my head, was brushing up against some part of his. He gently pushed my curls to the left side and placed his chin on my shoulder.

“Ye smell sweet today, Sassenach,” he said, slowly bringing his hands to rest on my hips. Everything about this man of mine was so sensual and gentle with a possessiveness that made me feel this deep, burning sensation to please and give in to anything he required of my body.

“We need to finish getting ready and get them to school,” I said as I completely melted into his body behind me.

“Aye, we should,” he agreed, not moving a muscle. He placed a soft kiss on my clavicle and gave my hips a small squeeze. In moments like this, it took all my willpower not to jump on this man and let him do absolutely anything to my body.

I turned around and whispered, “We will continue this later,” and gave him a kiss that was inviting and teasing. He let out a small groan that I could feel in my chest, considering the entire front of my body was glued to his. I gave him another small kiss and his bottom lip a small bite before ungluing myself from him.

After shaking off the hot flush Jamie gave me downstairs at the sink I sprang into action trying to get the girls ready for school. Quickly running a brush through Bree and Faith’s hair, I did my best to get every stray curl into a nice bun of sorts.

I dropped the girls off at school and was able to make my morning meeting at the practice approximately one minute before it began.

“Dr. Fraser, so kind of you to join us. And look at that, at least a minute early.” Dr. Randall said, his dead eyes staring at me. I bit the inside of my mouth and found a seat next to one of the practice nurses.

“Well ye just made it today, which was it? One of the girls, you and Jamie had another incident, or is it all of the above?” My friend Geillis asked, whispering in a very low voice.

I gave her a side-long glance shaking my head with a smirk, knowing exactly what incident she was referring to. It had involved Jamie and I trying to have a quickie before the girls woke and… let’s just say we avoid those like the plague now.

I turned my attention back to the arse that is Dr. Randall, the head Professor here at the family practice.
I’d been a GP at this family practice since the girls were born. After Jamie and I got married in Scotland, we both knew we wanted a bit of a change of scenery. When the company Jamie worked for opened a location in London, I knew a return home was meant to be..

“Scotland wi’ always be our home but ye’ canna keep traveling so far to work Sassenach,” Jamie had said to me when we were deciding where to live after our wedding. I had been working in a practice in Glasgow, even though we lived in Edinburgh.

“Dr. Fraser when you are done, daydreaming in that small head of yours, we would like an update on your patients” Randall scolded.

I took a deep breath, trying my best not to give this gobshite a piece of my mind..

“Well…” I began with an edge to my voice that was mixed with annoyance and attitude. As I began giving a rather detailed update regarding my patients, I could tell Randall was just waiting to chime in with his unsolicited opinion.

“May I suggest-” Dr. Randall began.

“So, all my patients are doing quite well with a few minor cases in the past few weeks. But, thank you Randall for always trying to be helpful,” I said giving a strained smile then rolling my eyes at the arse standing before me.

Following our meeting, I was baraged with two unscheduled patients with emergencies. One was a 5 month old with a terribly high fever, poor thing had a terrible case of the flu. I wrote a prescription, infant acetaminophen to help bring down her fever. Then, I reassured her mother that she would be just fine. Not long after, an 11 year old patient of mine, Joanie, along with her frenzied mother. Joanie was clutching a blood stained towel to her chin. After getting Joanie, situated in an examination room, I calmed her mother and ensured her it would be alright. The woman was more afraid and frantic than her own injured child. “Alright, lovey lets see whats happened here”. I gently removed the towel from her chin to unveil a rigid cut along her chin approximately 2 inches long. “We are going to get you cleaned up and a few sutures and you right be bright as new,” I said with a reassuring smile.

I went back to my scheduled appointments; two of my littlest patients came in with croup, an 11 year old with a terrible case of the flu, and a 15 year old with a severe case of attitude and an infected spider bite.

By the time I got home it was almost dinner time. I kicked off my kitten heels and made my way into the kitchen. After grabbing a glass of water I realized it was terribly quiet downstairs. I knew Jamie and the girls were home as his car was in the drive and the girls’ school bags were on the kitchen table. So I made my way upstairs in search of them and what I heard was the purest thing in this world.

“Aye, Bree can ye hand me one of those wee biscuits please?”

“Da, you can only have one more. Or you will spoil your dinner,” Bree answered sternly, furrowing her eyebrows and passing Jamie a biscuit.

“Da can have more biscuits if he wants! You need to share Bree, Mr Beary dosna need two biscuits. Here Da, have one of mine!”

I peeped my head into the room to find my husband sitting in a tiny pink chair which was about to break from the weight of his giant body. To his right was Mr. Beary and to his left was Faith’s precious dolly.

I moved back quickly into the hall when Jamie began,“Thank ye, a neghean, for sharing while your sister keeps all the biscuits to her precious Beary.”

He scoffed the biscuit down and declared, “These wee biscuits your mother got are tasty.”

“Now Da, you have to drink your tea. Pick up the cup and put your pinky up just like mine. See?” Bree ordered, giving Jamie a demonstration.

I got out my phone and couldn’t help but snigger. “Sassenach?” Jamie quickly turned around, his neck and face going red.

“Hi darling, sorry to interrupt your tea party,” I giggled.

He jumped up and tried to grab my phone from me.

“Oh no you don’t, these are getting printed and hung all over our house,” I moved my phone away as he tried to grab it.
“I think Da looks rather cute attending this tea party, don’t you think girls?”

“Aye.” they giggled, moving next to me.

Finally, getting a good look at the both of them, I could see they clearly had an eventful day at school. Bree’s skirt was stained, with what I presumed was dirt, perhaps mud. Her shirt was splattered with food stains. And her hair, lord her hair…. all fanned out and wild, sticking out like peacock feathers. Her sister’s hair was no better than hers. However, Faith’s uniform was free of stains.

“Downstairs now, your homework is waiting for the two of you,” I said sternly. Bree gave me a sidelong glance and followed after Faith.

“Can your poor husband at least get a kiss? I havena seen ye all day, mo neaghan donn.” He reached for my arm and pulled me into a soft kiss.

“Dinna think I forgot your promise this morning,” he said, with his lips still on mine. I hummed, with a smirk on my face. “Neither have I.”

The evening consisted of schoolwork, dinner and baths. Jamie was on bedtime duty so I took the opportunity to take a hot shower.

I couldn’t help but moan at the feeling of the hot water hitting my aching body. I worked my way through my routine of shampooing and conditioning my hair when all of a sudden,

“Here let me help ye with that lass.” Jamie grabbed the conditioner and poured it into his large hands. I glanced behind me to see him completely naked only inches away. He gave me the look and I smiled placing my teeth onto my bottom lip before turning around.

A satisfied moan escaped my body as his hands began working into my hair. I swear he could perform miracles with those hands.

When he was done rubbing conditioner through my hair, he placed his hand on my hip. Fingers curling around my hip bone as his thumb caressed the spot where my back ends and my bum begins.

Spinning me around, I met his eyes. The ocean blue vanishing as a deep, lust-filled black took over.
“Give me your mouth, Sassenach.” Licking my lips, I did as I was commanded.

His hands began roaming, electrifying all my senses from head to toe. As our tongues slowly danced, I slid my hand down his front rubbing his hairy chest before reaching its destination. I took him in my hand and heard a deep grunt.

“I see you’re ready for me,” I breathed against his mouth as he slid his tongue across my top lip. He didn’t respond with words but with his actions.

Backing me against the shower wall, he removed my hand and used his knee to part my legs.
“I do love to serve ye but I dinna think I can wait tonight. I have been thinking about being inside ye all day.”

And he did exactly that and more that night….

Chapter Text

December 2018

I was frozen. Everything around me was moving in slow motion.
Jamie moved frantically to my side as Faith stood by me in complete terror. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying, didn’t quite register the small scared cry Faith let out. All sound was muffled.

And all I did was sit there. Sit there and clutch her to my chest with my shaky hands as tight as I could. She was so small in my arms. Her tiny frame was so frail. It was lighter than a few hours ago, as if the moment her soul left her body, she became even lighter than before.

And then out of instinct, I began to rock slowly. Back and forth, the same way I rocked her and her sister to sleep a thousand times before.

“I do like... to be beside the seaside...” I whispered faintly in her ear.

That was the last thing I ever said to her. The sweet lullaby I sang to her when she had trouble sleeping.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe, as the world around me completely faded. Then--

I felt it.

My heart completely shattered.


****5 days before****

“Dr. Fraser, what did you--”

“Dr. Fraser, your next patient is in the examination room” Geillis interrupted.

“Thank you,” I said to Geillis, making a mental note to buy her breakfast.

“Dr. Fraser we are not finished here.”

“Dr. Randall, I never leave my patients waiting, I’m sure we can discuss this another time. So, if you’d excuse me.” I said giving him a strained, fake smile.

It was mid-afternoon and I had just about had it. Dr. Randall was asking questions about my recent new patient, a former patient of his. Of course he was critiquing and being a complete wanker. If his brother, Alexander, didn’t own the Practice, I would’ve done everything in my power to have him fired.

“Claire, Jamie and Bree are in your office.” Geillis informed me as I was walking back to my office . I quickly sprang into action practically running. There was only one reason why Geillis called me by my name in front of people at the GP. Either Jamie or the girls were hurt or something serious happened.

“Jamie, what are--” I started then stopped on seeing them. Bree was clutching him and he had the most troubled expression on his face.

“Mrs. Fitz called me and said Bree had a fever somethin’ fierce. She’s burning up Sassenach.”

I quickly motioned for him to lay her down. Then, I gently smoothed the sweaty auburn curls off her forehead.

She was on fire, skin blazing. Checking her temperature, the thermometer read 39.5℃.

“When did they call you to pick her up? ” I questioned as I took the rest of her vitals.

“An hour or so ago. Mrs. Fitz said she was acting normal this morning then as the day went by she started to look more and more tired. Bree told her she didna feel well. And so they called me. What’s the matter wi’ her Sassenach? She was fine this morning”

I was at a loss for words. She was her normal playful self this morning. Stubborn and grumpy when I woke her. Then trying to boss her sister around. Just usual Bree.

“I think she’s caught the strain of flu that I’ve been treating other children for.” Bree groaned.

“It’s going to be alright lovey, I will make sure you feel all better. Alright?” I said softly and she slowly nodded her head.

I placed the small blood pressure cuff on her arm. Pressing the button on the machine, I checked her other vitals. As expected with the fever, her blood pressure was above normal and her heart rate was so fast.

“Did the other children recover? Will she be all right?” Jamie rambled in a whisper standing next to me.

“Yes, the other children have recovered but they needed an IV and close monitoring. We need to take her to the hospital.” I informed him as calmly as I could.

Getting ready to leave my office, I picked her up . She pressed her blazing hot rosy cheek to my shoulder and groaned.

“Mama my body hurts.”

“I know Bree. We are going to get you all better.” I kissed her head.

Jamie opened the door and followed behind me. I told Geillis what was going on.

Jamie took Bree from my arms and I followed him to his car. I climbed into the backseat as he gave me a puzzled look. I motioned for him to place her in my arms. His face softened as he realized I simply needed to hold her.

She climbed into my arms moving like a slug, wincing as she moved. Her poor little body must’ve been aching all over.

“The doctors will get you some medicine then Da and I will take you home.

Da can make you some of Granny Ellen’s soup that you love so much. Mhm that sounds good doesn’t it?” I said soothingly, my eyes getting slightly misty.

She gave me the weakest smile that broke my heart just a little bit.

There is nothing worse than when your child is sick. You want to do everything in your power to take any pain away that they might be feeling.

“Bree look at me sweetheart,” I said loudly. There was no response from her. I could feel her fever was spiking and she wasn’t responding to me.

“Jamie!” I said alarmed.

“I ken Sassenach, we’re here. Come.”

Jamie grabbed her from me and practically ran into A&E. I hurried after him.

Jamie yelled for someone to help us. A nurse motioned for him to follow her as she paged the doctor. As he laid Bree down, she began convulsing.

Thirty seconds later, the convulsing stopped. The A&E team began packing her with cold compresses and hooking her up to various machines.

As the doctors worked to get her fever down,

the nurses pulled us out of the room and asked us various questions;

What is her date of birth?

What is her full name?

Is she currently on any medications?

How long has she had the fever?

Has she been sick recently?

Jamie grabbed my hand and interlaced our fingers. He gave my hand a small squeeze. 

I exhaled as a tear fell down my face. 

“Umm, no she hasn’t been sick lately. Her full name is Brianna Ellen Fraser, she was born on November 23, 2012.” I paused trying to think of the other questions the nurse just asked. 

“She developed the fever earlier today and she is not on any medications.” Jamie finished.

The nurse directed us to the waiting room. 

“I should call Mary so she can pick Faith up from school.” I said, eyes wide thinking about my other daughter. 

“Dinna worry Sassenach, I texted the lass when I got to the GP. She’s going to be alright. I feel it.” He said to me before placing a kiss on the side of my head.

He let go of my hand and placed an arm around my shoulders. Bringing me closer as I leaned into him. 

The majority of the children I’d seen with this flu, had a tough time with it. All of them were primary school-aged children.

I felt a dark cloud coming over me. Looming in the distance. My professional side was telling me she was going to recover. But the mother in me was telling me something was terribly wrong. 

Get it together Beauchamp. 

We waited for what felt like hours. 

“Mr and Mrs. Fraser?” 

We both jumped up. 

“Brianna is going to be just fine. We were able to get her fever down following her febrile seizure. Her heart rate is still a bit fast but slowing down. She tested positive for Flu. We will need to keep her overnight for observation and to run some more tests to make sure there wasn’t any organ damage as a result of  the fever”. 

I nodded my head agreeing. 

Jamie gave my arm a little squeeze. And I turned to hug him. 

“Dinna fash, Sassenach. Our little Bree is a wee fighter. She will be jumping out of trees and driving us mad in no time.” He said softly to me as I tucked my head into his neck. 

We both walked into her room. 

“Bree,” I said softly, pushing her unruly auburn curls back. They were sticking to her forehead. 

She partially opened her eyes. 

“A‘leannan. There ye are.” Jamie said brushing a gentle hand over her cheek.

 

The nurses had gotten her out of her school uniform and into  a hospital gown. She still had ice packs on the back of her neck and under her armpits. To keep her fever down most likely. 

“Can I have some of Granny Ellen’s soup now?” she said with a tiny voice. 

I laughed a little with tears in my eyes. Jamie laughed next to me and gave her a kiss. 

“Yes, lovey.”

“Aye. Ye can have anything you want a neaghan.” 

If only we could have given her the world before or known what was going to happen to her in just a few days… 

Chapter Text

***Warning this chapter features the death of a child.*** 

 

“Are ye sure Sassenach? I can work from home and stay with the lass.”

After Bree’s overnight stay in the hospital, Jamie and I were finally able to bring her home. Her test results had indicated that her organ function was back to normal. Her fever had broken late into the night and her blood pressure normalized. Her heart rate was still a tad quicker than it should’ve been but Thank God she was getting better.  

I was concerned that I had passed this onto my sweet girl. I had treated quite a few children her age with the same flu. What if I was the one to pass this virus on to her? And what if Faith were to fall ill next? 

As a mother and a doctor, it can be difficult to walk that line. 

“Yes, I am sure.” I finally said as I handed him the dark blue necktie that was laid out on the bed. He gently took it from my hand and threw it around his neck as he made his way over to the mirror. 

He was wearing one of my favorite tailored suits, dark navy trousers and a clean white shirt tucked in at the waist. His suit jacket, the same blue as the trousers, fit perfectly around his shoulders. The tie had a lined pattern on it only a little lighter than the blue on his suit.  

“You’re always the one to stay home with the girls if they can’t go to school. Besides, I need a break from work, Randall has been driving me insane. Come here and let me help you with that.” 

He turned and raised his eyebrows at me, I finished tying his necktie and attached the tie pin as I grabbed the folds of his jacket and looked up at his face. I could see the worry and stress in his eyes and the creases forming on his forehead. I smoothed the lines with my finger.

“Everything will be just fine. Stop worrying,”He gave me a nod.

With a small smile I rested my cheek against his chest as his big arms engulfed me. He smelt of dove men’s deodorant mixed with a warm cedar scent. 

“Mhhmm, you smell nice. Is that the aftershave I bought for your birthday?” 

“‘Tis.” he replied, placing a kiss in my hair. 

He let go of me,used a gentle hand to lift my chin and placed a soft kiss on my lips.  

“Da, I’m ready.” Faith proclaimed as she made her way into the room. She had her customary school uniform on; skirt, socks, and shirt all in order. And she had a big grin on her sweet face. I was able to get her hair tamed into a slicked back ponytail with a navy bow atop. 

“Let’s go a nighean.” 

“Bye, Mama. I love you.” 

“I love you too, my darling. Have a good day at school.” I reached for her, bringing her into my arms for a cuddle, placing a kiss on her forehead.   

After Jamie and Faith left for the day, I went to check on Bree. She was still asleep, mouth slightly open with curls splayed out on her pillow. I sat on the edge of her bed, outlining her jaw and cheeks. Both Bree and Faith had Jamie’s hair, eyes and nose with my ears and chin. 

I smiled thinking of the two beautiful lives that were created from Jamie and my love. I could watch her sleep for hours and never tire of it. Smoothing the curls from her forehead, I place the back of my hand on it to check for fever. Her forehead was slightly warm but not hot to the touch. She stirred a bit but didn’t wake up.  

While Brianna slept I took the opportunity to get our house in order. Piles of laundry, dishes and other things that needed to be taken care of around the house. 

Between all of this I found myself checking in on her every half an hour. I was so afraid that she would develop another fever and have a febrile seizure or worse still, stop breathing. 

After about the millionth time of me checking in on her, she finally woke up. 

“Well good afternoon to you sleepyhead, you slept all through the morning,” I whispered to her blue eyes blinking a few times before they opened. 

“Are you hungry?” She shook her head and yawned. 

“You haven’t eaten since last night. And Da’s made you Grannie Ellen’s soup.”

I took her wrist to check her pulse then used the thermometer lying on her nightstand. Heart rate normal, eyes look clear, she’s coherent with no fever. She is alright.

After I let go of her wrist, she slowly climbed into my lap.

“Soup please,” she said with a hoarse voice snuggling her head on my shoulder. 

I kissed the side of her head and stood up with her in my arms. 

“Soup and some OJ is just what the doctor ordered. Hhm?”     

After eating a bit of soup and drinking some OJ, Bree was ready to lie down again. 

“Do you want Rainbow Fish or When I Wake Up?” I asked, holding two books up. 

“Fish.”

“Alright, Fish it is.”

I snuggled into her tiny twin bed bringing my arm around her. Her head was resting on my side with Mr. Beary snuggled in on the other side next to her. About halfway into reading, Rainbow Fish, I felt her breathing begin to slow. 

Even though I knew she was asleep, I didn’t move to get up. Instead, I sat there in our silent house listening to her quiet breaths, taking refuge in the fact that she was in fact breathing. 

As I studied the way she breathed in and out, I realized that she was terribly warm against me. I slowly reached for the thermometer on the bedside table and took her temperature. 

The thermometer read 38.9℃. 

“Damn it” I whispered. I slowly slid out of the bed and looked for some children’s tylenol in the cupboard. 

“Bree, wake up lovey,” I said as I gently shook her. She groaned, her eyes remaining closed until I brought the medicine to her mouth. After swallowing the medicine, she scrunched up her nose.  

“Here you are,” I said handing her Mr. Beary who had fallen on the floor. 

She blinked up at me, “Mama, can you stay please?” 

“Of course my love.”

I pulled the thin blanket back and slid in next to her. As she fell asleep with her head on my chest, my mind began to work through so many scenarios.  

It’s a slight fever not as high as the last one she had. She’s going to be alright. 

The next day, I stayed at home with Brianna again. She was definitely showing signs of improving. She stayed awake longer than the day before and was talking. With no fever all day. 

Jamie and I were so thankful she was feeling better.

A couple of days later, Bree went back to school. Both of us were hesitant at first but she seemed to be back to normal. And we were thankful she had recovered quickly. 

After our normal afternoon/evening routines Jamie and I were getting ready for bed.

“I ken she seems somewhat like her old self but does she no’ look a bit more tired than normal? Maybe we should have let her stay home from school again, Sassenach? I’m verra afraid she might have a relapse.” 

“Jamie. Did you not see her at dinner tonight? She’s alright, there’s no need to worry. And she looks tired because she had a long day at school, that’s all.” I said cutting him off, trying to reassure him. As well as myself.    

Fears and worries forgotten, we both climbed into bed and held onto each other as we fell asleep in each other’s arms. 

It wasn’t until around 2 am, when Faith woke me. 

“Mama..” her little voice whispered as she patted my arm.She repeated the action a few more times before I finally came to. 

“Yes darling what’s the matter?” I said drowsily. 

“Something is wrong with Bree.” 

“Is she awake. What’s wrong love?” 

“She’s not asleep but she’s not awake. Mama come now. Something’s wrong.” 

I blinked a few more times, trying to get my eyes to readjust to the dark room. Faith grabbed hold of me and led me to their room. 

As I walked through the door, I felt a chill go down my spine. I dimmed the light, then made my way over to Bree’s side of their room. 

She looked like she was sleeping peacefully. I pushed her curls off  her forehead. And I froze. 

She felt cold… 

“Bree. Bree.” I said over and over shaking her a little. 

“Faith get Daddy now.” I yelled. I couldn’t feel a pulse and she wasn’t breathing. Why wasn’t she breathing? 

“Bree, wakeup lovey. Please,” I sobbed. 

Moments later, Jamie moved frantically to my side as Faith stood by me in complete terror. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying, didn’t quite register the small scared cry Faith let out. All sound was muffled. 

And all I did was sit there. Sit there,clutching her to my chest with my shaky hands, as tightly as I could. She was so small in my arms. Her tiny frame was so frail. It was lighter than a few hours ago, as if the moment her soul left her body, she became even lighter than before.

And then out of instinct, I began to rock slowly. Back and forth, the same way I rocked her and her sister to sleep a thousand times before.

“I do like... to be beside the seaside...” I whispered faintly in her ear.

That was the last thing I ever said to her. The sweet lullaby I sang to her when she had trouble sleeping. 

As the world around me completely faded, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Then-- 

I felt it.

My heart completely shattered. 

Jamie, pried Bree from my arms and laid her down on the floor. My breathing was hitched and irregular. Hands shaking. 

“Sassenach. Claire!” He yelled my name. I shook my head and looked down at her in complete horror. I put my hand over my mouth to muffle the sobs that escaped my lips. I had to look away from her small body lying there.  

I tried to catch my breath as I looked up slowly to see him blowing into her mouth with his fingers pinching her nose. 

I sobbed into my hand even harder at what I was seeing through my blurry, tear-filled eyes. Jamie was performing CPR on her. And continued for what felt like hours. 

 

Until, finally, he stopped.

He laid his forehead on her chest and cried. 

I leant against the side of Bree’s bed and pulled my legs against my chest. I continued to sob with my face in my hands. 

Jamie lifted his head and ran a hand over his face. He swept Faith into his arms as she cried on his shoulder and yelled “ What’s wrong with Bree Da. Wake her up!” 

He nuzzled his face into her auburn hair and cried for our child lying before him. Lifeless. 

With Faith crying in his arms, Jamie made his way over to me. He let out a cry when he looked at me. And I fell apart with him clutching me tight. 

Faith cried out, “Wake her up Da. Please.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

January 2019

 

She was gone. 

 

My sweet little girl was gone.  

 

Days after the paramedics arrived and carried her away, the post-mortem revealed, that after her temperature spiked in the night it had caused another febrile seizure. And I didn't even check for a fever before she went to bed. 

 

Two days later, we laid her to rest. It was a small ceremony, friends and family joined us in our time of bereavement.  

 

The days leading up to her death and following the funeral were a blur to me. Jamie took care of everything, from the flowers to the venue and the order of the service. He asked my opinion on things but I could never give him an answer. Speaking and breathing simply hurt.

 

Everything hurt. 

 

“Claire, Claire?” 

 

“Yes, Mum,” I answered, shifting and pulling the duvet tighter around my shoulders.

 

“Can I get you anything darling?” 

 

I shook my head. 

 

“You haven't eaten today, you need to eat something”

 

“I’m not hungry.” I murmured silently praying for her to leave me alone. 

 

I could feel her lingering by the bedside, thinking of what to say or do to get me to leave the bed. She laid a hand on my shoulder for a few seconds before finally giving up and walking out of the room. 

 

She’d be back in an hour or so prompting me with the same questions. 

 

Both mine and Jamie’s parents had come into town for the funeral. They helped Jamie with everything, planning and taking care of Faith. The only decision I remember helping with was choosing a dress for her to wear.

 

It was a beige dress with small, gold leaves on a vine wrapped around the waist and along the hem of the dress. My mother found a headband that matched the gold leaves and accented her beautiful auburn curls. 

 

Jamie agreed to let Faith match her sister, the same exact dress with matching headband. He told me Faith had begged him to match with Bree one last time.     

 

“One last time…” I whispered faintly as I closed my eyes. A memory of curly hair and gold leaves vividly flashing on my closed eyelids.  

 

A few hours after my mother came to check on me, Jamie walked in carrying a tray. 

 

He gently set it down on the nightstand to my right. There was a small plate of food, it looked like a casserole of some sort. Probably one that concerned friends had been dropping off for us.  

 

“I don't want that,” I exhaled.

 

“Sassenach, ye need to eat. It's been almost two days since ye ate somethin’. Please.” 

 

“I ate food yesterday.” I mumbled. 

 

“That doesna count. Here.” he said as he putout his hands for me to take. 

 

For a second I stared at them, before placing my hands in his as he helped me sit up. 

 

Finally, meeting his eyes, I saw his blue eyes drowning with remnants of pain.   

 

Sitting upright for the first time all day, I placed a pillow behind my lower back and pushed the duvet down.

 

Jamie handed me the plate of food and sat on the edge of the bed. I took a few bites while staring at the plate, not looking up. I could feel his eyes on me.  

 

Silence. That is the only thing that seemed to pass between us these days. 

 

Neither of us could find the right words to say to each other. I knew deep down that he felt angry and blamed me for all this. It’s my fault.  

 

If I had only listened to him, none of this would've happened. We would have kept an eye on her and got her to the hospital sooner, but I had brushed off his concerns that night. 

 

“Faith, is going to have to go back to school some time next week,” Jamie said, breaking me from my train of thought. 

 

“No.” I responded, matter of factly.  

 

“Claire, she has to go back to school, it's been a month. She needs things to go back to normal. She needs to understand life must go on,” he explained. 

 

I couldn't help but feel as if he wasn't just talking about Faith anymore. 

 

“She will stay home with me a bit longer. What if she gets sick like Bree? What then?” I said holding back tears. I moved to put the plate of food I’d only taken a few bites out of back on the tray.  

 

“She won't get sick.” 

 

I cut him off, “You can't know that.” 

 

“Neither can you,” he said meeting my eyes. 

 

I broke eye contact and looked away. Looking in his eyes hurt. I didn’t know it was physically possible to have your heart ache from so much emotional pain. 

 

“I have been trying to give ye time to grieve and making sure ye don't have to worry about anything. But, just because you aren't ready, doesna mean she isna ready.” 

 

“But what if,” I began.

 

“Sassenach, ye have to stop with the what ifs. We canna live the rest of our lives basing all our decisions on what ifs. She has to go back to school, back to normalcy.” 

 

The thought of her going back to school scared me more than I knew it would. But, he was right. 

 

“Alright,” I said as a small tear slipped down my face. He moved to wipe it from my face and I turned my head away from him. 

 

“Now, we need to talk about you” he said quietly. 

 

I looked up at him frowning, “Talk about me?” 

 

“Ye canna lay here all day forever. Ye havena left this room in weeks. I have to bring ye food and something to drink or ye won’t eat. I have tried, your mother and Mam have too but you willna leave. Ye barely even let me touch or hold ye. Ye must let the pain go or begin working on letting it go. Ye canna live like this. We canna live like this.”

 

“What do you want from me?”

 

“I want for ye to talk to me. I want for us to be there for each other and work through this together. Ye canna shut me out forever. I need ye, just as much as ye need me. I need my wife.” He moved closer to me and I immediately moved back.  

 

“How can you want me? How can you continue to love me when I'm the reason she's gone? You don’t need me, you can do better”

 

“Sassenach, I dinna blame ye and ye shouldna blame yourself. This isna your fault and I will always need ye mo nighean donn.”

 

“This is all my fault. It was me.” I sobbed. 

 

He moved closer again grabbing hold of my face. Big hands on my cheeks, wiping away the tears as they spilled down my face.

 

“It isna your fault. Shh, come a nighean,” he said calmly wrapping his arms around me. I gave in and placed my cheek on his shoulder. 

 

No, he shouldn't love me. Why let him waste his love, after what’s happened, after what you did. 

 

I pushed out of his arms and moved away from him, closer to the headboard of the bed. Tears still spilling from my eyes, I wiped them away.   

 

After a few seconds I finally looked up at him and met his eyes and my heart broke for the second time in months. 

 

My rejection had hurt him. Denying him the solace and comfort of holding me and letting him whisper that it would all be alright. He deserves better than what you can give him. 

 

He stared at me with his jaw tense and eyebrows furrowed. He was on the verge of tears; eyes filled with pain and shock. More tears formed in my eyes and blurred the image of him. 

 

Breaking our eye contact, a “Hellooo” came from downstairs as we also heard the sound of a door open and close. 

 

Jamie sighed and stood up. I wrapped my arms around my waist and looked away from him. I squeezed my eyes shut as he placed a soft kiss on my forehead and walked out of the room and shut the door. 

 

I cried and cried until I ran out of tears. That's the only thing I seemed to be able to do.

 

I ended up crying myself to sleep, exhaustion kicking in as the tears ran out. 

 

A few hours later, I woke to a darkened room. My eyes felt sore and puffy and I had a headache from crying.  

 

“Mama,” I heard a whisper. I turned to see the door slightly open and a little head peeking in. I reached over and flicked on the lamp on the nightstand. Faith was standing by the door, Mr. Beary clutched in her little hands with her Frozen nightgown on. Her nightgown is Anna and Bree’s is Elsa. It’s not “is” anymore for Bree, only was.  

 

Either my Mum or Jamie’s, had braided her curly locks into two braids that hung down her back.   

 

Faith climbed up onto the chaise at the end of the bed then crawled over to lay next to me.  She laid her head on the pillow and turned towards me with a faint smile on her face. 

 

“Hi lovey,” I whispered to her with a small smile, tapping her nose. Laying next to her with my body facing hers, I brought her closer to me so there was only a few inches between us. Her eyes were tired from what was probably a long day with both of her grandmothers. Since the moment they arrived they had been giving her anything and everything she wanted. And Jamie and I let them. 

 

She looked up at me, her eyes the same shade of blue that matched Jamie’s and Bree’s. Every time I looked at her sweet beautiful face, I could see her sister. And I hated myself for it. 

 

“Da, said I have to go back to school on Monday. But who is going to stay home with you to make you feel better?” She asked innocently.

 

“Don't you worry about me, alright? You’re going to have so much fun at school, your friends and teacher will be happy to see you.”

 

“But you said it makes you feel better when I'm here with you.” 

 

“I know and it does, every minute I spend with you. But,” 

 

“Faith.” Jamie called from somewhere in the hallway. I could hear him looking for her, until he peeked his head into the room.

 

We both looked over at him before he walked over to the opposite side of the bed. The room suddenly filled with the emotion of the last argument between Jamie and me. 

 

“Say goodnight, a leannan.” He told Faith. 

 

“Goodnight Mama,” she said sadly before wrapping her little arms around my neck. 

 

“Goodnight, my love,” I whispered in her ear and kissed her warm cheek. 

 

She let go of me and crawled to her father. Jamie picked her up and carried her out of the room, her little hand clutching one of Mr. Beary’s paws. 

 

Jamie came back after putting Faith to bed. He had food and some water for me. I sat up and took the food from him. 

 

“Thank you.” I said quietly. 

 

I ate a few bites and he walked away to change. He came out wearing one of his old shirts and a pair of shorts. He walked into our bathroom to get ready for bed. 

 

Some nights he slept beside me, neither of us really touching one another but seeking what little comfort we could from each other. Some nights he didn't sleep beside me, and those nights were always difficult. Given our last discussion, I didn't expect him to come and sleep next to me, until he laid down. 

 

I finished half of the food he had given me, and turned off the light before laying down next to him.

 

“I’m sorry.” I finally said, gently brushing my fingertips along his cheek. 

 

His face immediately softened, as he grabbed my hand and turned it palm up to place a kiss on the inside of my wrist. 

 

“Ye dinna need to apologize. I pushed ye too much. You’re not ready and that's okay.” He rambled. 

 

“I’m sorry for being inconsiderate. I haven’t even asked how you’re doing or how you feel.” 

 

He pulled me closer and this time I let him. I put my head on his chest and he held me, arms strong around me with a gentleness that made me feel safe and loved. 

 

He whispered gaelic in my ear as we grasped onto one another. The last time I had let him hold me like this had been before the funeral. 

 

“You’re right.” I said, muffled. He looked down at me, eyebrows furrowed. 

 

“I need to begin to let the pain go,” I choked out trying not to cry for the millionth time today. I let one tear slip then I pushed the rest away. 

 

He gently brushed the tear from my cheek and said, “When you’re ready. Just promise me one thing. Promise me you willna continue to push me away. Promise ye’ll let me back in,” he said so unsure and scared. Don’t you dare make a promise you can’t keep. 

 

He was so vulnerable and hurt, like he’d ripped his heart out and placed it in my hands. If I were to tell him I couldn’t make that promise and push him away again, it would crush him. He deserves better, don’t.  

 

I exhaled. 

 

“I promise.” 

 

Relieved, he let out a small teary laugh, and placed his warm, soft lips on mine. After a couple of seconds, I gently pulled back and looked into his eyes. I had let my pain and self-loathing deny him the love and comfort he deserved. 

 

I grabbed his face and pulled him in as our lips connected. Our mouths gently moved as groans of love and pleasure built up between us. His tongue gently asking for entry as I gave in and reached for the hem of his shirt. Disconnecting our mouths for a moment, I pulled his shirt over his head and he did the same with mine. 

 

He pulled my body up against his,my breasts crushed against his bare chest. His lips traveled to my neck, the spot just where my pulse is strong and fast. I felt his hands push my shorts and underwear down as his hands brushed against my inner thigh. His mouth was on mine once again, tongues dancing with one another as I felt the heat rise in my body. I groaned deeply into his mouth as he slipped two fingers inside me. 

 

My breathing became hitched and I clawed at his shoulder, trying to grasp onto something. Without breaking the connection he moved on top of me. A moan escaped my lips as he began running his tongue along my neck, my clavicle, and then my breasts. He took one of my breasts into his mouth, as he slipped a third finger into me. 

 

I pulled at his shorts, wanting to hold him in my hand as he pleasured me. Kissing and biting, his mouth made its way back up to mine. Finally, he gave in and let me push his shorts down, taking him in my hand I could feel him throbbing, more than ready for me. Our tongues began a slow dance with each other as our hands moved at the same pace on one another. I whimpered into his mouth when he removed his fingers from inside me. 

 

“I canna wait, I need ye,” he said, full of emotion, catching me off guard. 

 

He ran his hand down my stomach then down my thighs as he clutched my thigh and switched us to our sides. I wrapped my leg around his waist and looked into his eyes. My hands clutching his shoulders as he thrust deep inside me. We both cried out at the feeling, and let out shaky breaths into each others mouths. Without breaking eye contact he began moving slowly inside me. One had on my cheek the other on my thigh wrapped around him, I looked away, unable to look at him as I saw the vulnerability, fear, and pain flash into his eyes. 

 

“No,” he said stopping and bringing my face to look back up at him. With his lips on mine he whispered “Dinna push me away.” He began moving again as I clutched his arm and shoulders. 

 

I felt my release building up inside me and by the way he was moving quicker, I knew his was too 

 

He began whispering on my lips, “Find us Claire. Come find us,” and I climbed on top of him, our hands gripping onto each other. I bent forward to place my lips upon his, tasting and feeling him everywhere.  

 

We needed this. Needed to familiarize ourselves with each other’s bodies and find comfort there. And that’s exactly how we spent the rest of the night. 

 

 




 




      

 

Chapter Text

“Are ye ready?” I said to her holding onto the left handlebar and the back of the bicycle seat.  

“No, Da. I’m not ready,” she said shaking her head quickly, gripping the handlebars tightly.    

Wearing a pink and white helmet and matching elbow and knee pads, Bree was attempting to ride her bicycle without training wheels. After multiple failed attempts she was weary of giving it a fifth try.  

“Dinna fash, I’ve got ye. Start pedaling.”

She set one foot on the right pedal, then the other, on the left. 

A little wobbly, she slowly began pedaling as I held onto to the bicycle to help her keep her balance. 

Mam and Da had given the girls matching bicycles for their fifth birthday. And after months of Bree asking me relentlessly, I finally decided to teach her. It was a bonny day in April - the first time in days that it had not rained constantly - there was a chill in the air that called for jumpers and vests.

Now that the weather had improved, I agreed to teach Bree. I asked Faith if she wanted me to teach her too but she was certain she wasna ready to take  her training wheels off yet, always cautious and the more careful of the two. 

Whereas, Bree was a little daredevil, always looking to try something new. Although she had fallen several times today, she was  stubborn so she would not give up until she could ride a bike. 

“A leannan, there ye go. Keep pedaling!” I said enthusiastically, beaming with pride at my lass.

After a few minutes, I slowly began removing my weight on the handlebars to allow her to gain her balance on her own. 

Without her realizing, I let go. Shaking a bit, she finally gained her balance. 

Her face broke out into a wide grin when she realized.

“Look Da i’m doing it all by myself!” She yelled with excitement. 

“Aye. Good job Bree! I’m so proud of ye, keep going,” I responded as I took out my phone to take pictures of this moment. 

She had made it all the way down the pavement, about four houses down from our home.  

“Da, I don’t know how to stop! Da,” she yelled, fear setting in. 

I  jogged towards her to bring her to a slow stop. 

Bree was about to tip over like a teacup.

I quickly grabbed her by the waist as the bike fell to its side, instead of falling on top of her. 

“There ye are, a leannan,” I said clutching her to my side. 

She turned her head to look up at me her eyes all lit up, “I did it Da! All by myself!” 

“Aye. Ye did. I'm so proud of ye,” I said encouraging her as I shifted her body so she was facing me. I unclasped her helmet and took it off her head. Curls freed, they popped out in all directions.  

“Thank you Da. I love ye,” she said kissing my cheek and wrapping her little arms around my neck.

 “You’re welcome, Bree.” I told her holding her tightly and kissing her cheek. 

“Can we go and have ice cream? I rode my bike all by myself,” she asked innocently, testing the waters and trying to justify a sweet treat to celebrate her accomplishment. 

“Your mother willna let ye have ice cream in the afternoon. Nice try though.”

“Please, Da…

“Da...Daaa... Daddy?” Faith called me, snapping me out of my thoughts. 

I shook my head and blinked away the images of a distant memory, “I’m sorry. Yes, m’annsachd. What do ye need?”

“Can I have more ice cream please? Just a tiny bit more?” Faith said with a pleading look on her wee face.

“Only a wee bit more and that’s it. Okay?” 

She nodded quickly. I put my phone down on the table and took her bowl and gave her two more scoops of chocolate ice cream.

I had been staring at the photograph on my phone. The photograph I took of that sweet day with my Bree grinning from ear to ear, as she rode her bike for the first time.

Faith, was sitting at the table, legs swinging as she happily ate the two scoops I had given her.

It was a chilly Saturday in February. Claire was working in the GP completing some training with staff. Faith and I spent the day together, doll shopping and eating her favorite ice cream after lunch. It brought me joy to spend time with her alone.  

The majority of our day was spent in one of those American Girl doll stores. She had been begging for one for weeks now, so I gave in and told her I would take her.  

The store had multiple floors, with so many accessories for a wee doll. One floor had hair stylists for the dolls, another had clothes for the dolls and the wee girls who bought them. 

First, we started on the floor where Faith could choose which doll she wanted. There were tons of these dolls everywhere, all types of them. After fifteen minutes of her carefully weighing up her options, Faith chose one with the same hair colour as her, named, Blaire. The strawberry red hair hung down the doll’s back.

Next, we went to another floor, where Faith picked out accessories for the doll: a brush, two dresses, shoes, and other small things she assured me were essential. She even got a dress that matched one of Blaire’s. 

When I finally told her she couldn’t pick out anything else, we paid for everything and christ it was expensive. Who knew dolls and wee accessories were so damn expensive!? Claire was going to kill me for how much I spent in that doll shop.

But, my lass deserved anything she wanted after the events of the past couple of months.      

Back at home when Faith had finished looking at her doll and everything we’d bought. She asked “Da, can we look at them now, please?” 

“Aye. We can.”

Faith and I had started a routine when it was just the two of us, we would look through  old family photo albums. She loved it when I told stories of when her and Bree were wee bairns. 

I walked over to the bookcase to pick one of the photo albums Claire had made. 

I sat down on the sofa and Faith climbed into my lap, her legs dangling as she settled into the crook of my arm.

 I opened the album and the first photograph was of Bree and Faith cuddled into each other, swaddled and only a few hours old. The photograph was taken right after the girls had been cleaned up by the nurses. Both of them were so small, I remember how I could cup their wee heads in the palm of my hand. 

“Which one is me and which is Bree?” 

“You are on the left and Bree is on the right.”

“How can you tell?”

“You two may be identical but parents can always tell,” I said giving her a small smile. 

I told Faith about the day her and Bree were born. The way Bree came into the world loudly and how she scared her mother and I. How I held them both in my arms, my heart so full of love looking down at their faces.  

The next picture featured the lasses first birthday. Both curly haired, faces covered with icing, as they sat in their highchairs grinning.    

“When was this one? How old were we here?” 

Faith asked, pointing to a photograph of her and Bree playing in the snow. 

“Well, ye and your sister were a little more than two years old. It was a snowy December when your mum and I bundled ye both up and took ye outside to play in the snow.”

I  smiled faintly staring at a photo of Claire with both girls in her arms. Bree and Faith were bundled with thick coats, scarves, hats and boots to keep them warm. Bree grinning from ear to ear while Faith had her head on her mother’s shoulder. 

Claire looked beautiful. Curls sticking out at the bottom of her dark green hat, and a slight smile on her face. I remember taking the photo and thinking about how lucky I was to have her for a wife.

“Jamie?” 

Claire called as she walked into the house, with a tired voice.

“Hi Sassenach,” I said looking like a deer in headlights. I usually looked through the photo albums with Faith alone. I never mentioned it to Claire because I didna want to upset her. 

“Hi Mama,” Faith said cheerfully. 

“What are you two looking at?” Claire asked, making her way over to the sofa.

Her eyes landed on the photograph of Bree and Faith,; eyes slowing revealing the impact of seeing them together.

 “Faith why don’t you put this back on the bookcase please?” I commanded as I moved to close the album. 

Claire placed a hand on mine to stop me. “No, it’s fine.” 

I looked up at her and saw she was mesmerized by Brianna’s gentle face in one of the photographs. Love and pain flashed in her eyes and it broke my heart just a bit. If there was a way for me to physically take on her pain, I would do it in a heartbeat. 

I shifted Faith to my right knee. Claire sat down next to me and laid her head on my shoulder, cuddling into my side while holding onto my left arm.  

I kissed her forehead and turned my attention back to the photographs. 

“Remember this one Sassenach? When the girls were four?” 

I pointed to a photo of Faith and Bree standing next to each other cheesing so hard I could see all their teeth, happy for their first day of primary school. They were wearing their uniforms, navy skirts with white shirts, their curly hair slicked back into  high ponytails.  

“Yes,” she said faintly as her finger gently traced the outlines of Bree’s face. 

“What about this one Da?”

We spent a little over an hour or so going through the photo album. At one point a stray tear escaped Claire’s eyes and I gently used my thumb to wipe it. It was painful to go through this, to have to look through photographs to remember Bree. If I could I would trade places with her. I would die for them, especially if it meant our girls and my Sassenach were together and safe.  

After going through the album, we sat there for a few moments, Faith not moving or saying a word as she probably felt the same thing Claire and I were feeling. I placed my arm around Claire’s shoulders and gave Faith a small squeeze.

“Mama you wanna see what Da bought me today?” Faith asked breaking the silence moments later. 

“Yes, my darling.” Claire replied brushing a hand over her cheek. 

“Here mo ghraidh, put this away please.” I asked handing her the album. She placed it back on the shelf and ran off to grab her doll. 

Claire cuddled closer into my arms, as I brought my newly freed arm around her. 

“How was your day?” I asked softly. 

“Long,” she answered. She looked up at me with her whisky colored eyes. I smiled at her and leaned in to kiss her. Lips soft and warm. I pulled back and smiled. 

She seemed tired and worn out, but her face had a softness to it. A softness I hadn’t seen since before the lasses were born. 

“Do you do that often?” she questioned. 

“Do what?’

“Look at those photographs” 

I exhaled.

“Aye. It’s become a sort of routine when I am alone with Faith.”

“Every time?”

I nodded.

“Why haven’t you ever mentioned it to me?”

“I didna want to upset ye. You're not ready for that mo nighean donn. I want to spare ye as much pain as possible.” I replied. 

“Jamie,” she started. “ I... you don’t have to do that. I can handle it.”

“Sassenach, ye need more time.” I cupped my hand on her face and gave her an apologetic look. 

Staring down at her hands, she finally confirmed “I don't know when I will be ready to be completely honest.”

“Ye can take as much time as ye need. ”

She gave me a teary smile. “Ye ken I will always be here for ye? Always.”

“I know and I love you so much for it.”

“I love ye too mo nighean donn,” I bringing her lips to meet mine. 

Faith came back into the room with her new doll, breaking our kiss.

“Look Mama, her name is Blaire and she has red hair like mine. And we got a matching dress and I have a brush for her hair and some  shoes.” Faith rambled on with so much excitement not stopping for a moment to catch her breath. 

“Jamie,” Claire said sitting up, breaking out of my arms. 

I shrugged my shoulders and raised my eyebrows. 

“She is a very pretty doll, lovey. Let me see her,” Claire responded reaching for the doll as Faith settled by her side. 

After giving Claire a thorough and full synopsis of her day, Faith eventually went to go and play until it was time for dinner.

“Before ye say anything Sassenach, she has been asking every day for weeks and I couldna say no to her. She gave me a look that was like you when ye asked me for--”

Cutting me off she said, “Jamie, I’m not angry.” 

“Ye aren’t?” 

She exhaled, “No. Faith has gone through so much these past couple of months. I’m glad you got her the doll, truly.” 

Shocked, I slowly nodded.

“Have you eaten anything today?” I asked

“No, my stomach has not been agreeing with me today. I must’ve eaten something dodgy yesterday.”

“Ye had almost half a pizza and so many breadsticks I lost count.” 

“I was hungry alright?” she responded lightly slapping my shoulder.   

“Well what do ye want for dinner. Ye need to eat something, Aye?”

March 2019

Claire and I had continued to work through the overwhelming grief we both felt. We found solace in one another, sharing our thoughts and pain, so the healing could begin. 

Some days we both found it difficult to carry on with normal life and some days we were able to find the smallest joy in simple things that helped to forget about the pain.

It had now been three months since Bree drew her last breath. Every time I thought about her it, It felt like a small stab in my heart.  

With our daily routine back to the way it used to be, we were both  kept busy with work and taking care of Faith. Things seemed normal until one day when Claire came home from work upset. 

 Claire had texted to tell me that she would be home from work late. Faith and I had our dinner and were getting ready for bed when Claire finally came home.

She came through the front door as I was coming down the stairs.  

“Hi Sassenach,” I said smiling as I made my way over to her. I reached in to kiss her lips and she turned her cheek. I furrowed my brows and grabbed her bag from her shoulder.  

“Thank you,” she said weakly moving pass me to go into the kitchen. I followed her, after I placed her bag in our home office. She was drinking a glass of water with a distant look in her eyes. 

“Claire?” I said searching for an explanation. I could tell something was upsetting her the moment I saw her walk into the house.  

Finally, she looked up at me and our eyes met. Her eyes were red and puffy and I knew had been crying. 

I swiftly moved to take her into my arms. I placed the glass on the countertop and pulled her into my arms. 

“Sassenach, talk to me. What’s the matter mo ghraidh?” 

She laid her head on my shoulder and cried. Cried so hard in my arms it broke my heart. I tightened my hold on her and whispered to her soothingly trying to get her to calm down. 

After about five minutes or so she pulled away from me and wiped her face with her sleeve. 

“Claire please talk to me. What’s the matter? Did something happen to ye. Talk. To. Me” 

 “It was me.”

‘What was ye?” I questioned motioning to hold her again. 

She stepped back and placed her hand out for me to stop. She swallowed and met my eyes. 

“It was me. It’s my fault she’s gone. All of it.” she said with a strangled voice,on the verge of tears again. 

I tried to move towards her again, this time she didna motion for me to stop. 

“Sassenach it’s not your fault. Look at me, its not.” 

“I killed her. I am the reason why she’s gone. If I had--”

She began and stopped as a few quiet sobs escaped from her mouth. She  was about to drop to the floor, but I grabbed her ensuring she didna hurt herself. We sat there. I sat there not knowing what could have made her feel this was all her fault. 

She had been doing well working through her grief. We had been trying to heal together, knowing we each could not do without the other. 

On the kitchen floor I held her tightly in my arms and I continued to tell her it would be alright and it wasna her fault. 

“It hurts. I just want this pain to go away. I need this pain to go away. I just want her back. I want her back. I want to hold onto her again.” 

She sobbed with a strangled voice. 

“I know mo nighean, I know. I would take the pain away from ye if I could. But, we can survive this, I promise it will be okay. We can get through this.”

Streams of tears ran down her bonny face. My heart ached at the image of her. There was so much agony and suffering radiating off her.  

Whatever happened today had, changed her. Pushed her towards her breaking point.   

My Sassenach, was broken. Completely shattered into millions of pieces. And I didna know how to begin to put the pieces back together. 

 

Chapter Text

May 2019

 

I stared at it, sitting atop the granite bathroom counter confirming something I had known for a while now, not wanting to admit it to myself considering the timing of it all.   

 

“Not now… god, not now” I whispered to myself, gripping the counter tightly. 

 

Eyes becoming misty, this was the last thing I needed to worry about.    

 

“Mama, Daddy’s here,” Faith yelled from downstairs, breaking my train of thought. 

 

I exhaled and closed my eyes as I placed my forehead on the cool counter. The air in the bathroom getting thicker with my t-shirt and shorts clinging to my sweaty body. 

It had been a challenging morning. I had a night of restless sleep, finding it more and more difficult to sleep without Jamie next to me. I struggled to get out of bed, not feeling my best physically and emotionally. Faith had a school program I had to get her ready for and she was so excited I was barely able to get her unruly curls tamed. 

 

“Mamaaaaa,” Faith yelled again. 

 

“I’m coming now,” I yelled. 

 

Splashing water on my face, I dabbed it dry with the small towel.

 

I stared at myself for a moment in the mirror. Dark circles taking residence under my eyes and my curly hair stuck out in a messy bun atop my head. My clothes were slightly damp from a hot sleepless night; shirt clinging to my chest and shorts riding up.    

 

Looking before me was a woman I no longer recognized.  

 

I gave myself another once over, then marched down the stairs. 

 

“...I missed ye too, a nighean” Jamie said to our daughter, holding her tightly in his arms. They were standing near the kitchen door. 

 

Faith was wearing a pink summer dress with rosy sandals. Her hair was pulled back into a bun with a pink bow around it. The pink a rosy shade that accented her auburn hair.  

 

Faith had her small arms around his neck with her cheek pressed to his shoulder. She was so small in his arms; so small in comparison to his large figure. Heads close together, Jamie was whispering to her in Gaelic.

Hearing my footsteps, both of them turned their heads towards me.

 

“Hi,” I said to Jamie with a small voice, wrapping my arms around my midriff. 

 

He stared at me for a moment, until his face softened and he echoed, “Hi.”

 

A slight smile on his lips with a tired looked. His eyes flashing so much pain, it hurt to meet them. Breaking our eye contact, I moved to put an empty plate from the kitchen table into the sink. 

 

Faith began telling him about her weekend with my parents. She animatedly told him about the way her grandparents spoiled her, how she cuddled with their old Newfoundland, and how her Papa told her stories as they ate cookies. 

 

My mother was fully aware of what was going on between Jamie and I, with his living elsewhere for a while.She did her best not to judge, but she didn't understand the reasoning behind the decision. She asked, tried to pry it out of me last week but I told her I didn't want to talk about it.  

 

While Faith provided her father with a detailed account, I began busying myself in the kitchen trying to avoid Jamie’s eyes. I finally settled on washing the few dishes in the sink. Even with my back to him, I still felt his eyes on me. Being in a room with him was overwhelming. Does he know? Does he know by looking at me? 

 

After slowly washing the plate and two utensils that were in the sink, I turned to see Jamie sitting at the table with Faith in his lap; her legs dangling with one arm around his neck. Jamie had his big hands clasped around her small waist, smiling at her. My heart ached at the image of them. They’d missed one another; missed living in the same home together, under one roof. 

 

It’d been a little over three weeks, since we’d decided on living apart for awhile. I simply couldn’t do it any longer. I couldn’t subject him to living with a guilty and emotional train wreck of a woman that was supposed to be his wife. He deserves better. 

 

It was incredibly difficult explaining to a six year old why Daddy would be living somewhere else for a while. Faith didn't understand but she accepted it. All changes happening in our lives and she never misbehaved or showed signs that it was effecting her negatively. 

 

“Aye. I’m glad you had fun a leannan. Go get your backpack so we can get ye to school,” he instructed, giving her a kiss on the head and placing her on her feet. 

 

“How are ye doing and feeling, Sassenach?” he asked standing up. 

 

I looked up then grabbed the dish towel to dry my hands. 

 

“I’m fine,” I responded rather quickly. 

 

“Are ye?” he said, barely above a whisper.  

 

I nodded slightly. 

 

“I miss ye” he said, frankly. God I  miss you too. 

 

I could tell he wanted to walk towards me, gather me into his arms and make the pain go away. Whisper to me in Gaelic that everything will be alright. My eyes began to water, much to my displeasure. I didn’t know what to say to him. I couldn’t let him love me because I simply wasn’t deserving of that love. I had killed her. 

 

“Claire,” he said with a desperation in his voice, putting one of his feet in front of him about to make his way to me.  

 

“I got my backpack and my jumper, Da,” Faith said cheerfully and proudly, walking back into the kitchen. 

 

He cleared his voice, “All right. Say ‘goodbye’ to your mother” 

 

“Bye, Mama, I love you.”

 

“Bye my darling,” I exclaimed with a small smile trying my best to hide my emotions. I kissed her warm cheek and gave her a cuddle.

 

“Have a good day, lovey and I will see you later.” She matched my smile, beaming and nodding her head.   

 

“Are you still coming too, Da?” she asked innocently. 

 

“Of course I will be there. We both will,” he said matter of factly.  

 

“Yay! Come on Da, I canna be late for school” Faith said, excitedly pulling his arm. 

 

Jamie chuckled a little bit and let her drag him to the door. He opened the door and Faith let go of his arm to walk to his car. 

 

He stopped at the door, and turned to walk towards me. I looked up at him with furrowed eyebrows. 

 

“Wha--”  

 

“I know we have this arrangement right now and you need time but… I just want you to know I love ye and I always will. No matter how hard you try to push me away,” he proclaimed, before kissing my cheek. 

 

I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt his soft lips, a tear slipping from the corner of my eye. When I heard the door close, I opened my eyes and let out a quiet sob and tried to take a few deep breaths. Moving slowly to sit down at the table.  

 

It hurt to push him away and break his heart, but this is the way it has to be. Since that dreadful day I broke down in his arms on the kitchen floor, I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie to him everyday. I couldn’t tell him the truth, the truth about our daughter’s death. Pull it together, Beauchamp. 

 

After a day of intermittent sickness and naps, I pulled myself together and got ready to go to Faith’s school. 

 

I pulled into the school car park with the aircon blasting; it was blazing outside. “Bloody hell!” I said to myself, as sweat dripped in different crevices. 

 

I pulled my hair into a ponytail to get it off my sweaty neck. Wearing nothing but a summer dress with spaghetti straps, I was sweating profusely.

 

Lifting my arms, I placed my armpits directly in front of the aircon on either side of the steering wheel and exhaled as the cool air traveled from my arms through my body.  

 

“Oh God!” I jumped out of the seat as I heard a knock on the window. I looked and saw it was Jamie, squatting down smiling.  

 

I rolled down the window with a hand on my chest. 

 

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” I said. 

 

He lightly chuckled, “Sorry, Sassenach. I didna mean to scare ye.” 

 

I briefly looked at him and rolled the window up. Turning off the car, I removed the keys from the ignition and grabbed my purse. Jamie opened the door and put out his hand to me. 

 

Staring for a moment at is hand, he raised his eyebrows and gave me a small smile. Eventually, I took his hand and stepped out of the car. 

 

“What are you doing here?” 

 

“What did ye mean what am I doing here? Did I no' tell Faith we were both coming just a few hours ago?” 

 

I closed the driver’s door. “Oh yes… I forgot.” 

 

He stared at me intently, slightly confused. 

 

“We should get inside” I suggested trying to slide past him. He placed a hand on my waist, stopping me. 

 

We were facing one another, my back to the driver’s door of my car with his body inches from me. I could feel his breath on me, as his eyes searched my face, trying to get into my head and read me. 

 

He had taken off his suit jacket and rolled his sleeves up. His tie was gone, leaving his shirt unbuttoned at the neck. As hot as it was out, he didn’t smell of sweat; he smelled of the aftershave I had given him.

 

His aftershave was abusing my senses, causing me to feel slightly aroused.  

 

He removed his hand from my waist and kissed my cheek. Smiling at me, he said, “You’re right. We should get inside.” Moving past me, I quickly followed behind him.

 

Finding a spot in the second row, Jamie and I sat down next to one another. We waved at a few parents we knew but I avoided his eyes. I felt his eyes on me always. 

 

“Ye, look bonny, Sassenach. Did ye wear this to work today?” he whispered in my ear, with his mouth lingering near me.

 

“Umm, no. I didn’t wear this to work today” I responded trying to catch my breathe. He doesn’t know. 

 

His arm was around my chair and I turned my head to look at him. He smiled sweetly, before turning his attention back to the small stage. Goodness, the last thing my raging, hormonal body needed was this man making me feel tingly and hot inside.

 

Finally, the program began. Faith came out smiling hard and waved at the both of us. Her sweet face was beaming, and it warmed my heart to see her happy. Faith's gentle features that was a beautiful mix of Jamie and I, so identical to her sister. Feeling rather guilty, I could not help but to think about Brianna. 

 

Bree always loved to do the programs at school, especially the Christmas one. Her big personality always shined, sometimes overshadowing other kids, her sister included. 

 

I felt Jamie grab my hand. I turned my head and he looked at me, gently shaking his head and nodding at me, knowing exactly what I had been thinking about. He gave my hand a small squeeze and we turned our attention back to our girl. 

 

About an hour later, the program ended. 

 

“Daddy!” Faith came running to us after her teacher let her go. 

 

“Hi, mo ghraidh. Ye did such a bonny job singing and doing your wee dance.” 

 

She giggled, “Thanks Da.” 

 

“Mama, I remembered everything!”

 

“Yes, you did. I’m so proud of you” I smiled giving her a kiss and she reached down to hug me with Jamie still holding on to her. 

 

“Mr and Mrs. Fraser?” 

 

“Hi Ms. Fitz.” 

 

“So good to see ye both here.” 

 

“Nice to see ye, too,” Jamie responded, putting Faith down and grabbing her hand.

 

“It's been quite some time. How are ye both coping?” 

 

“Well, we’re doing better,” I said, trying to sound as convincing as possible. 

 

Jamie placed his hand on the small of my back and explained, “A lot better and so glad to see our Faith is doing so well.”

 

Faith smiled at the mention of her name, as Mrs. Fitz gave us more praises on how well behaved and smart our daughter was. Jamie kept a hand on my back as more parents came to talk to us and convey how nice it was to see us. 

 

I didn’t realize it was going to be this difficult. So consumed in the current state of my life, I hadn’t thought of what it would mean to attend a school event for the first time since Bree’s death. 

 

Finally, after talking to just about every parent at the school, Jamie walked me and Faith to my car.

 

“All right, a leannan, climb on in,” he said, opening the backseat door. 

 

“No,” Faith said, stopping in front of him and crossing her little arms. 

 

“Faith, get in so we can go home,” I said, taken aback by her behavior.

 

“No, I want to go home with Daddy.” 

 

“Faith, you’re going home with your mother, now get in please.” 

 

“No!” she yelled. 

 

I looked at Jamie. I raised my eyebrows and gave him a look that said  “You had better get your child before she gets herself a spanking,”

 

“I’m going home with Daddy,” she yelled, stopping her little foot, drawing a bit of attention. 

 

Jamie exhaled and squatted down to her eye level.

 

“Faith, dinna yell. Talk to me. What’s wrong, a nighean?” Jamie asked calmly.  

 

“I want to go home with you, Da, so we can eat dinner and look at pictures of me and Bree and you can tell me all the funny stories and tuck me into bed with Mr. Beary,” she said as she started crying. 

 

Jamie looked up a me, with a sympathetic look on his face. I exhaled and gave him a slight nod.

 

He picked her up and said, “All right. How ‘bout you go home with your Mam now and I change my clothes and come back for dinner and bedtime. Will ya like that?” 

 

She nodded her head as he wiped her tears. 

 

“Look at me, Faith” I told her. “No more yelling like that, all right?”

 

She nodded again and laid her head on Jamie’s shoulder. He helped her get buckled into the car, then walked around to my side. 

 

“I’m sorry, Sassenach for inviting myself for dinner, she-” 

 

“Jamie, it’s fine,” I sighed. “It was bound to happen eventually. She’s gone through so much change the past few months, I’m surprised it took her this long to act out.” 

 

“The usual time for dinner?”

 

“Aye,” I said, mocking him and getting into the car. 

 

After we had dinner, Jamie and Faith sat on the sofa and had their story time together. She enjoyed those stories he told her and was attached to the routine. Perhaps, it made her feel closer to her sister, sparked their connection hearing about the trouble they’d get into together.  

 

It pained me to hear him talk about her, to hear anyone talk about her. After all these months it still didn’t get any easier. Because you’re the reason she’s not here. 

 

I cleaned up the kitchen and put away the leftover food. My body ached and my head was spinning from a long emotional day. Shaking off my exhaustion momentarily, I got Faith into the bathtub. 

 

She took her time; asking me to brush her hair out and for more bubbles. Following a bath, we got her into her Elsa pajamas and into bed.    

 

With us on either side of her bed  Jamie and I said our goodnights. 

 

“Goodnight, my Faith. Sweet dreams.” Jamie said gently, kissing her forehead and tucking Mr. Beary under the cover next to her. 

 

“Goodnight, lovey.”  

 

She gave us a tired smile and yawned, "Goodnight. I love you" 

 

Jamie turned off her bedside lamp and we slipped out of her room. 

 

“Well, it's been quite the day,” Jamie said to me as he leaned against the wall, head leaning back with his arms folded. 

 

“Do you think that was the last time we will be getting that little monster to come out again?” 

 

“If she’s anything like ye then no I dinna think that’s the last time” he said jokingly. 

 

“Ha bloody ha” I responded tartly as my head started to spin again. I walked past him stumbling slightly.   

 

He gripped my arm keeping me steady. I exhaled and blinked a few times.

 

“Sassenach, what’s the matter w’ ye? I have been asking all day and ye havena answered me truthfully. I know somethin’s the matter. Talk to me please,” he pleaded. 

 

“Jamie, I’m fine. Really,”  

 

“Claire!” 

 

His large hands moving to grab my waist as I found myself falling. 

 

"Sassenach"

 

Head spinning ‘round and ‘round... until everything went black. 



 

Chapter Text

“Mr. Fraser”

 

“Yes,” I quickly answered, standing up. 

 

“Your wife is awake and asking for you. Would you like to follow me?”

 

“Yes, thank ye.” 

 

I followed closely behind the nurse as we left the waiting room. 

 

We walked a long a hallway before turning a corner.   

 

Once we reached the room, I moved to push open the door, and before I stepped in the nurse informed me, “The doctor will be in shortly.” 

 

I nodded, taking a deep breath and pushed open the door. 

 

Claire turned her head and looked at me with exhaustion in her eyes. 

 

I gave her a smile and eased into the chair next to her.

 

Just barely above a whisper I said, “Hi Sassenach.” 

 

I slowly placed my hand on top of hers; it was slightly cool to my touch. She didn’t withdraw from me. 

 

Smoothing back her curls from her forehead I questioned, “Do ye ken what happened to ye?”

 

She nodded at me, eyes watering. I gave her hand a small squeeze. She was wearing a hospital gown, with a white cover tucked in. The monitor on her left index finger was relentlessly beeping faintly, tracking her pulse. 

 

 

“It’s all right, mo ghraidh. Dinna fash.”

 

“It’s not alright.”

 

“I will see to it. I promise to make it better.”

 

“They’ve told you?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“You knew already, didn’t you?”

 

I nodded. 

 

I knew weeks ago. 

 

It was that night she came home and broke down in my arms that confirmed it all. I held on tight to her and tried my best to calm her down. The pain she felt was smothering her, closing in and crushing her heart.

 

Later that night, I calmed her down and gave her a Valium to get some sleep. I sat by the side of the bed staring at her sleeping face. Her face was softer, even with all the crying; her body filling her clothes a wee bit more snuggly, she was still so bonnie.

 

So yes, I knew, her face and body gave evidence to what I had suspected. 

 

“Jamie, I should’ve told you sooner. I’m sorry.” 

 

“Dinna fash. I will take care of the both of ye and our Faith, ” I promised, lightly stroking her cheek. 

 

She was silent, not saying another word. Tears gathering in the corner of her eyes. Before one tear had a chance to escape, I wiped it with my thumb. 

 

“Dinna cry please. I canna stand it,” I said, wiping another tear. I placed my lips on her hand and the hospital bracelet slipped down from her wrist. 

 

She took a few breaths and questioned, “Did they tell you what happened to me? Am I all right? Can I go home?” 

 

“Not yet, mo ghraidh. The doctor will be in soon.” 

 

“I want to go home. Where’s Faith?” she asked, trying to sit up. 

 

Quickly placing my hand on her back, I held her arm: “Claire lie down. I’m sure the doctor will be in soon. Ye impatient wee thing!”

 

“I don’t want to wait. And where is Faith?” she asked again. 

 

“Faith is at home with Mary, sound asleep.”

 

“What time is it? How did I get to the hospital?” 

 

“It’s almost 3 a.m. Here let me help ye” I responded, aiding her to get comfortable in an upright position. 

 

“I drove ye here. I called Mary as I was putting you into the car. When the lass answered, I told her to get to the house as soon as she could and to sit there while I brought ye here.”

 

In fact, panic had been setting in so I drove like a bat out of hell. I rushed to the hospital scared something was happening  to them both. But Claire had a strong pulse and she wasna bleeding, so the doctors were none too worried. 

 

“I was unconscious for that long?” 

 

“Aye. Ye scared me half to death passing out like that.”

 

Concern flashed on her face as she looked at me guiltily. Her h air wild with curls in a messy bun as a few curls stuck to her sweaty neck.

 

“I’m sorry if I scared you. I just can’t seem to get it right these days.” 

 

“Dinna say that” 

 

“Mrs. Fraser?” questioned the doctor as he lightly knocked on the door and walking in. 

 

“Yes” Claire responded.

 

“And you must be Mr. Fraser. I’m Dr. Hunter. How are we feeling Mrs. Fraser?” 

 

“Call me Claire, please. I’m feeling alright. Am I ready to get out of here?” Claire queried. 

 

“Thanks, Claire. I’m glad you’re feeling better but we need to talk about your condition, first.”

 

“Is she alright? Is the bairn fine?”

 

“Well, your blood pressure is high and your glucose level is extremely low.” 

 

Instinctively I took hold of Claire’s hand and quickly glanced at her. 

 

The doctor took a glance at Claire’s chart in his hands and continued, “I want to get a Chem 7, CBC, and check your HCG level again, before I discharge you. I am extremely concerned for your health and your child’s health.  Your blood pressure was extremely above optimal. You were in real danger of miscarrying. Also, you are showing signs of gestational diabetes. Some changes need to be made in your life.”

 

“Have you had increased levels of stress? And what has your diet been like recently?” 

 

Usually, I could answer these questions with no problem, but due to our current living situation, I was in the dark. I didna like the feeling at all. “She needs someone to help take care of her,” I thought, to myself. “She needs me to help her get through this grief.”

 

I needed to try harder to care for her, to make sure they are safe, my wife, my children. I wouldna fail this bairn or Faith the way I did Brianna. 

 

“Yes, I have been a bit stressed and my diet has not been the best,” Claire answered, as if trying to convince herself.

 

“After the labs come back, we will see about discharging you. A follow up visit for 48 hours post-discharge needs to be scheduled. We need to check your HCG levels again,” the doctor explained sternly.

 

“Also, I strongly advise you to go on bed rest for about a week or so.”

 

“What? A week?”

 

“Yes. You are still in a critical period where miscarriage is a high possibility.”

 

Before I could say anything, the nurse walked in with sample vials to collect Claire’s blood. She scanned the barcodes on the vials, then Claire’s hospital bracelet and went about setting up the blood collection. 

 

“I will let her take care of those samples and get things ready to release you.  Let us know if you have any questions.” Dr. Hunter placed Claire’s chart next to the nurse and shook my hand before walking out of the room.  

 

The nurse, cleaned the crevice of Claire's arm with an antiseptic wipe. Ripping open the package the needle came in, she piped up, “Are you ready?” 

 

Claire nodded. 

 

She looked exhausted, laying as if she could fall asleep right there for hours. I made a mental note to make sure she gets some rest these next few days. 

 

I cringed slightly at the sight of the needle, as the nurse gently inserted it into Claire’s arm. After the needle was securely in Claire’s arm, the nurse connected the blood sample vials into the other side of the needle. 

 

One, then two and three vials were filled with Claire’s blood. The needle retracted slowly from her arm and cotton gauze, folded at least four times, was placed on top of the pricked area.

 

The nurse placed a bandaid on top of the gauze, shook the filled vials and suggested application of firm pressure, “As soon as we get these labs back we will see about getting you released. Let me know if there is anything you need.” The nurse cleaned up the wrappings of the materials she had used and wrote a quick note in Claire’s chart before placing it into a bin near the door.  

 

“Thank you,” I piped up, then sat back down in the chair. 

 

“How many times have ye been eating a day, Sassenach?” 

 

“A couple of meals a day, here or there. Hand me my chart, please.” she said quietly.

 

I gave her a stern look, then completed her request. With a concentrated look on her face, she slowly made her way through the doctor’s notes and then the nurses’. After each page, her face dropped into a frown. 

 

Giving her a moment or two to go through the rest of the pages, I broke her from her daze, “Claire…” 

 

She quickly turned to look at me when she heard her name. “Everything’s fine. You don’t need to worry,” she said convincingly. She closed the chart and handed it back to me to place back in its spot. 

 

An hour later, the nurse walked back into the room. “Well, Mrs. Fraser the doctor would like for you to come back in for a follow up visit in two days. That two day window is important for those HCG levels. If you happen to faint again or experience any bleeding, come back to the ER immediately. Any questions?” 

 

“No. Thank you.” 

 

Claire pulled back the edges of the blanket and swung her legs out of the bed. I handed her a change of clothes and helped her stand up. 

 

She began to untie the hospital gown she was wearing, then “Ehhm” she cleared her throat and gave me a look. 

 

Looking up from my phone, “Really?”

 

She nodded.

 

I rolled my eyes at her and dragged myself out of the room. She was keeping me at arm’s length. It pained me but I am determined to close that distance between us. “No matter how long it takes,” I thought, firmly.

 

A moment later, she slowly walked out of the room looking a bit pale. 

 

“Okay, I am ready to go,” she exhaled. 

 

After a fairly slow walk to the car, she climbed into the front seat and placed her head against the window, shutting her eyes. 

 

It was well after 4:00 a.m. when we got to the house. Claire was asleep, curled up against the elbow rest with her hair covering her face. I turned off the car and stared at her. 

 

Pushing her hair behind her ear, I whispered, “Sassenach, were home.”

 

She roused and got out of the car. Still half asleep, I helped her make her way to our bedroom. 

 

Removing her jumper, she climbed into bed.

 

“Goodnight, Sassenach” I whispered before getting ready to leave. 

 

“Wait… stay please.” 

 

Furrowing my eyebrows and I stared at her. Had she said what I think she had?

 

“Please” she echoed. 

 

“Aye.” 

 

I took off my pants and jumper and got into bed with shorts and a tee on. She curled into me as I gathered her into my arms. Feeling happiness in sleeping in our bed for the first time in weeks.

 

Familiar with each other's bodies, we found comfort in holding one another and we both fell into a deep slumber.

 

After a long day that turned into a long night, I felt wonderful waking up the next morning. Not long after Mary left, I began cooking breakfast for Faith while Claire slept. 

 

I was relieved to see her get extra sleep, knowing that she desperately needed it. 

 

“How many do ye want, a nighean?”

 

“Two please.” 

 

“Here ye are.” 

 

Slipping the pancakes onto her plate, I cut them up into pieces and let her pour the syrup. Knowing she would get carried away, I grabbed it after she had more than enough.  

 

“Something smells good down here.” Claire made her way into the kitchen, yawning and rubbing her eyes. 

 

“What’s this?” 

 

“G’Morning Mama” Faith said with her mouth full. 

 

“Hi lovey,” Claire responded, kissing her forehead. 

 

“Do ye want some pancakes?” I offered as she made her way over to me. 

 

“Sure...I forgot you were here. Went looking for Faith to see her out of bed already.”

 

“Now that you mention it. What are ye doing out of bed? Back upstairs, ye go lass.” 

 

She frowned at me. 

 

“Doctor’s orders” I shrugged. 

 

She frowned at me again for a few seconds, before deciding to go get in bed.

 

“You better bring me my pancakes, Jamie Fraser”

 

Day one following Claire’s incident, continued to go similarly to the morning: Claire objected to my micromanaging of her diet and activities throughout the day and I ignored her protest. 

 

I stayed over again that night to make sure she was alright. She didn’t ask me to sleep in bed with her again, so I resorted to the couch. I felt the need to be home with them, to protect them.  

 

The next day went by similarly to the day before. I got Claire to stay and bed and she didna object. Whatever it was she read in that chart, had scared her because she released control of her diet and I tried my best to not worry her with anything.

 

The morning of her follow up visit with the physician, we made our way to the A & E practice. 

 

Something had been on my mind and I finally decided to ask her about it. I probed, “I called Geillis yesterday to tell her you would be out for a couple of days.”

 

“Did you?” Claire said nonchalantly staring out the window. 

 

“She was surprised to receive a call from me, especially because you are on sabbatical.”

 

Her jaw tensed as emotions set in. 

 

“Yes, I am, for a year.” she explained. 

 

I wanted to ask more and to know what could have led her to make that decision, but I stopped myself. The last thing she needed right now was for me to ask difficult stressful questions. 

 

I saw a flash of relief on her face when, moments later, she realized I had dropped the subject. 

 

Arriving at the practice, we checked in and sat down in the waiting room. In about 15 minutes or so, we were called. 

 

I held onto her coat and purse as she went about getting her routine vitals checked. Weight, height, temperature, and blood pressure obtained, the practitioner took more vials of blood. 

 

After waiting for a short period of time, the doctor finally came into the room. 

 

“Hello, nice to see you again. So how are we feeling?” he asked after shaking my hand and giving Claire a small smile. 

 

“A lot better,” Claire answered. 

 

“Good, good. Well, I have taken a look at your HCG levels and they have doubled, which is a good sign. However, your blood pressure is still on the high side. I want to get your glucose levels checked as well, next week, but until then continue to get some rest. Also, before you go I think it would be best to do an ultrasound.”

 

“An ultrasound?” Claire snapped up at the word. 

 

“Yes, I think we need to check to make sure the baby is fine. I want to check for any abnormalities to err on the side of caution.” 

 

Watching Claire’s face intently, I realized that the mere mention of this was alarming to her. An ultrasound made the fact of another child a reality, something tangible that brought up unresolved feelings. 

 

The doctor explained more of the details of what he was looking for and the next steps in Claire’s prenatal care. 

 

I watched her face as she zoned out and her mind drifted to another place. After the doctor left to arrange the imaging, I turned towards her and grabbed her hand. Reactively, she moved her hand from mine, then exhaled. 

 

“Sorry, I--” she started. A sob caught in her throat. 

 

I shook it off and responded, “It’s fine. Are ye all right? Is it too much right now?” 

 

“No, I want to make sure everything is fine but I was taken aback.” 

 

“I’m here. Let me be, please.” 

 

She raised her head to look up at me and gave me a sad smile. Eyes pooling with unshed tears, she reached for my hand and I took it. 

 

After getting set up with the ultrasound technician, Claire leaned back and exhaled as she lifted her shirt to bunch it up just below her breast. 

 

I reached for Claire’s hand and she gave it to me. I brought it up to my lips and gave her a smile. She was nervous—nervous at the prospect of bringing another life into this world so soon after Bree . Brianna’s death was heartbreaking and a parents worst nightmare come to life. 

 

The technician squeezed a healthy amount of ultrasound gel on Claire’s abdomen. 

 

Claire squeezed my hand and I brushed my thumb over her fingers. 

 

Utilizing the transducer, the technician, spread the gel over Claire’s stomach. I held my breath until the moment I heard it. 

 

A strong lub-dub, then another repeating in a rhythm. Staring intently at the display, there was our wee bairn. The head being the only body part I could accurately identify. 

 

I let out an emotional laugh and smile.    

 

“There it is, your little one. A nice and strong heartbeat. A good sign.”

 

I nodded, smiling as the image on the display became blurred when my eyes filled with tears. I looked down at Claire to see tears streaming down her face. 

 

“Sassenach.…” was all I could get out. She looked at me and smiled. I placed soft kisses on her beautiful face: lips, cheeks, and eyes. 

 

The technician went about checking other things on the display before printing out a picture of our bairn. After wiping off Claire’s stomach, she left the room to give us a minute. Claire sat up and reached out for me and I gently wrapped my arms around her as we both went to pieces. 

 

She pulled back slightly and grabbed my face. With her hands on either side of my face, I felt her soft warm lips on mine. I kissed her back.

 

“It’s real?” she said after my lips disconnected from mine.

 

“Aye. He’s real,” I answered.

 

“Or she,” she quipped to me as she sniffled. 

 

“Or she.” I repeated. 

 

After completing all the necessary paperwork and scheduling, we walked out of the practice. Claire grabbed hold of my arm and I smiled down at her. 

 

We both got into the car and sat for just a second reeling from what we just experienced. 

 

“Jamie,” she started. 

 

I turned to look at her and to my surprise her eyes were on me. 

 

“I--” she attempted. 

 

Taking a deep breath, she finally said, “I need help, I can’t do this any longer.” 

 

“Do what Sassenach?” I responded.

 

“Grief, pain, and--” she sobbed. 

 

"Sassenach, dinna cry. I think its time. Its time for you to get some help. If you willna talk to me then ye must talk to someone. I dinna want to lose you or the bairn so please. Please talk to someone." I said emotionally. 

 

"Alright. Its time I get some help" she sobbed. 









  




  

Chapter Text

I sat there, hands gripping the steering wheel as rain lightly dropped on the world around me. Fear and anxiety, mixed with dread sat heavy on my chest. I didn’t want to walk into that practice and talk with a complete stranger about how I felt. But I had made a promise and I had to keep it. 

 

It hurt to see what I had become. A woman who couldn’t cope with her problems, separated from her husband with a baby on the way and unable to even care for herself.

 

A shell, empty inside like an oyster without its pearl.

 

Hours before I had left Faith with Jamie at the flat he was staying at. I had promised to try, to try for them. 

 

“Sassenach, I’m proud of ye for trying.” He encouraged as he gave my hand a small squeeze. Meeting his hurt filled eyes, he took Faith’s overnight bag from me. I softly pulled my arm from his touch, his closeness overwhelming me and causing my mind to slip into confusion. 

 

“Thank you.” I said, turning to talk to our daughter. “Faith, be a good girl for Da, alright? I will see you on Sunday.” I said, bending down as much as I could to kiss her on the top of her head. She wrapped her small arms around my neck giving me a kiss on the cheek and responded, “Bye Mama. I’ll be a good girl for Da, I promise.” 

 

Giving her a small smile, I turned my attention back towards Jamie. 

 

“Alright, her bag has a few toys and an extra change of clothes. Call me if you need me to bring anything else. Oh and I forgot—“ 

 

“Sassenach” he began, cutting me off.

 

“We’ll be alright I’m sure of it. Dinna fash. I will bring her home on Sunday. How are ye feeling? Is everything alright?”

 

Staring at him for a moment, I finally responded with a slight nod. 

 

“I feel fine, you don’t need to worry.” I said unconvincingly. 

 

“What did ye eat today? Have you checked your glucose?” He rambled, concern deep in his voice.

 

“Jamie, I'm alright.” I said. 

 

That was only a few hours ago. Now, here I was, sat in the car park, debating whether I should drive away and head home to an empty house or whether I should keep my promise. 

 

After giving myself a pep talk I grabbed my pocketbook and headed into the therapist’s practice. Nerves setting in, my warm sweaty palms collided with the cool handle of the door. 

 

Putting one foot in front of the other, I made it to reception.

 

“Good morning, do you have an appointment?”

 

Snapping out of my swirling mind of negative thoughts, I responded, “Yes, my name is Claire Fraser. I have an appointment with Dr. Louise De Rohan.” 

 

The first session with Dr. De Rohan, I mean Louise, was a nightmare for me emotionally. From the questions she asked, the awkwardness, all of it made the session uncomfortable. While sitting in that lounge chair across the room from this complete stranger for an hour, I constantly fought the urge to get up and leave. 

 

A few weeks passed and I attended a session with Louise ( yes, she prefers to be called by her first name, so unorthodox) once a week. After a couple of sessions, it became easier to talk with her. We built a rapport, thus making it easier to open up.

 

During my sixth session, I came to the realization I needed to tell Jamie the truth. Why it was my fault that Bree was gone.  

 

“Claire? are you still here?” Louise asked.

 

“Oh yes. Sorry what was your question?” 

 

“We were discussing your decision.”

 

“Oh yes. I believe I have come to a decision.”

 

Louise nodded at me to continue. 

 

“I need to tell him the truth. Why it’s my fault.”

 

“Claire, we’ve been over this. What happened wasn’t your fault. Perhaps, hearing him say it will make you truly believe it and accept it?” 

 

“I don’t know if I can do it. Face him.” I confessed. 

 

“You are more capable than you give yourself credit for,” she replied reassuringly.

 

I take a deep breath as tears formed in my eyes. 

 

“How about you invite Jamie to join our session next week? He can see the progress you’re making and it would be easier for you to tell him in this safe space we’ve built.” 

 

Taking a moment to consider her suggestion, I sighed, “Alright. Yes.”  

 

That evening when I got back, I waited for Jamie to bring Faith home. He had picked her up from school that day and they had spent the evening together. When they finally arrived, she came running in excited and jumping up and down.

 

“Mama, look what Da bought me. I got a new dress for my girl and we both are matching see? Isn’t she pretty?” she said excitedly.

 

Nodding my head I responded, “Yes darling it’s beautiful.” 

 

Stroking her bright rosy cheeks, I realized Jamie was standing with his arms crossed, leaning against the counter. With a furrowed brow, I looked at him for a moment before looking back at our daughter. After giving me a quick summary of her daily activities Faith ran off to put away her new dress.

 

Feet aching I sat down at the table and rubbed my hands over my bulging stomach. Jamie slowly made his way over to the table and sat opposite me.  We just stared at each other, broken and tired. 

 

“What's the matter?” I asked reluctant. 

 

“Nothing's the matter. How are ye, Sassenach?” he replied wearily.

 

“Are ye sure? It seems that you have something on your mind?” I questioned. 

 

He exhaled, “Faith asked me a question today and I had no idea of how to answer her.” 

 

Raising my eyebrows I nodded slightly, urging him to continue.

 

“She wanted to know when I was coming home.” 

 

Breaking our eye contact I closed my eyes briefly and exhaled. 

 

“Jamie, I am trying. Loui-- Dr. De Rohan has been helping me but I just need a bit more time.” 

 

“How much more time?” he asked.

 

Pondering his question, I debated on whether I should ask now, before I lost the nerve.  

 

“What if I asked you to come to a session with me?” I said quietly, moments later.

 

“Really?” he said shocked by my request.

 

“Yes.” 

 

“Are ye ready for that?” 

 

“Dr De Rohan believes I am.” I shrugged. 

 

He got up from the table and made his way towards me. Kneeling in front of me, I let him grab hold of my hand. He caressed  my cheek softly and then my stomach. 

 

“I will do anything to get ye to let me back in. I love ye and I will take care of all of ye, always. So, if ye want me to come then I will.” he said gently with his soft blue eyes. 

 

Eyes watering, I nodded and placed my hand on his cheek.

 

God, I missed him. I wanted his arms around me, wanted him to hold me .

 

He won't want to hold you after he finds out the truth about what you’ve done.

 

Giving me a slight smile, he planted a kiss on my head and rubbed my stomach one more time before walking away. 

 

A week later, it was finally time for me to face him and tell him the truth.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Mr. Fraser, it’s nice to meet you.” 

 

“Likewise.” I responded, shaking her hand quickly. 

 

Claire settled on the sofa and I sat down next to her. She looked tired, hair pulled back with a few stray curls loose, around her face. She was making eye contact with Dr. De Rohan. 

 

Nerves set in. I was anxious to hear about how Claire had been doing, if she was getting better. 

 

“Well, Jamie, may I call you Jamie?” Dr De Rohan began.

 

Clearing my throat, I nodded.

 

“Jamie, Claire has made tremendous progress. I know this entire ordeal is difficult for you both. Grief is always a beast no man or woman can beat down. This setting is uncomfortable, I know. To you it might seem like a stranger sitting in on a conversation between a husband and wife. But, just know this comfortable space Claire and I have built is largely because of you.”

Furrowing my eyebrows momentarily thinking of Dr. De Rohan’s meaning. Because of me? What had she meant by that? My mind began to come up with countless explanations, fingers tapping on my knee. 

“Claire, do you want to begin?” Dr. De Rohan piped up. 

 

Refocusing my thoughts, I look over at Claire. Her hands clasped in her lap, fear all over her face as she stares at Dr. De Rohan. 

 

My face softens at the sight of her. I slowly place my right hand over hers, hoping she wouldn't reject me. She simply stares at our hands for a moment. 

 

She takes a deep breath and looks up at me. 

 

I give her a reassuring smile and a slight nod.

She began, “It had been what felt like a normal day at the GP. I saw a few of my patients and got some paperwork taken care of. I was adjusting to being back and work, but I was informed on a few of my patients' status by Dr. Randall... 

 

“Dr. Fraser, may I see you in my office to discuss matters regarding one of your patients.”

 

Rolling my eyes, I followed him. While I respected the work that Dr. Randall did, he never missed a chance to criticize mine.

 

He questions, “Are you caught up and aware of the status of your patients?” 

 

His piercing eyes were staring intensely at me with a slightly amused look upon his face that could also be heard in his voice. 

 

“Yes, I am all caught up, no pressing issues.” I responded sharply.

 

“Well I regret to inform you, one of your patients died a few days ago from a fever. While another one is in the hospital.”

 

Glaring at him I respond, “What are you talking about, if any of my patients were in critical condition or one of them had died, I would’ve been notified.” 

 

“You were notified. I forgot to relay the message to you. Considering you’d just returned, I thought that was best to wait a bit to inform you.” he explains nonchalantly. 

Confusion began setting in for me, he continued, “Both patients were in primary school. Based upon their charts, both were rushed to the A & E, presenting symptoms such as: Tachycardia, Hypertension, body aches, cough, and a fever that resulted in febrile seizures.”

 

I slowly sit down in the chair opposite him. Realization setting in and making my breath come short. 

 

 “Are these not symptoms your daughter presented, Dr. Fraser?” 

 

I snapped my head up at him but I could no longer concentrate on what he was saying. 

 

“From what we have been told the strain these children have been infected with primarily targets those in adolescence. Was anyone else in your daughters school ill, around the time of her death?” 

 

I looked down at my hands, suddenly cold and growing more numb by the moment. I was shaking. I clasped them together at an attempt to get control of myself. 

 

“No, no one else has gotten ill.” I explain not taking my eyes off of my hands.

 

“Well that’s quite odd. How about your other daughter, has she fallen ill?” 

 

“Umm… no, she….no.”

Tears brimming in my eyes, blinking them away. I take a deep breath. The last thing I need is to see Randall of all people, see me emotional. 

 

I needed to detach and compartmentalize. Pushing my feelings deep down, I sat up straighter and tense my jaw as my heart ached, beating inside my chest like a drum.   

 

“Dr. Fraser, you don’t find this situation alarming?”

“Of course, I find this alarming.” I spewed at him, raising my voice louder than necessary. 

 

He narrowed his eyes at me and continued calmly, “Two of your patients and your own daughter, have fallen ill with a virus that appears to infect young children and young adults. There is no other explanation for the outcomes all three children have faced. Perhaps, there are some things we need to take into consideration here.”

 

I gave him a small reluctant nod to proceed. 

 

“Perhaps…” he paused, shrugging slightly. 

 

“...This was you. You appear to be an asymptomatic carrier.”

 

I stared into his dark eyes, my throat getting thick at the implication of his suggestion.

 

“I will say, one of your daughters who is perfectly alright appears to be lucky, much luckier than her sister.” 

“Don’t you dare talk about her, either of them” I said through clenched teeth. 

 

He glared at me, with a hint of a smirk on his lips. 

 

“Dr. Fraser, I need you to provide me with the list of patients you saw leading up to the days you saw these two patients. When did your daughter present symptoms?”  

 

“I will provide you with the list but I can look into this myself. I will no longer need your help with the matter.” I respond.

 

“You see, Dr. Fraser…” he began as he stood up.  

 

Making his way around his desk, to lean against it to my left. 

 

 “I have a strong feeling, the last thing your patients and any of us need is for you to be spreading the virus, you might want to consider isolating yourself for a time till this gets sorted.” 

 

“I know I can handle this entire matter myself and I will make sure my other patients are well. 

 

Don’t you say another word about my family.” I say through clenched teeth, rage surging through my veins. 

 

I quickly leave his office.

 

Trying to catch my breath I ran to my office to gather my things. 

 

“Fraser, where ar—“ Geillis began as I rushed past her. 

 

Slamming the car door, I let out a sob with my hands gripping the steering wheel. 

 

Tears filled her whisky colored eyes. 

 

“So you see, it’s my fault.”

 

Reaching for her, I gathered her in my arms and she began to sob. Head on my shoulder, I rubbed her back holding her as close as I could. 

 

“Mo nighean donn, this isna your fault.” I whispered to her. 

 

She pulled away and looked at me. Slowly bringing my hands up to hold her face, “Is this why you’ve been pushing me away? Because ye think I’d blame ye? You think she’s gone because of what Randall said?” 

 

She nodded.

 

Using my thumb to wipe the tears, before grabbing the box of tissues sitting on the table between us and Dr. De Rohan.   

 

“Claire, I know this was the first time you’ve told anyone this story. And we both understand how difficult that was for you. Jamie, what are your thoughts on what Claire has revealed?” Dr. De Rohan encouraged and questioned.

 

I gave Dr. De Rohan a soft smile and turned to Claire, taking her face in my hands, “Sassenach, it isna your fault. And The only way we can carry the weight of what has happened, is by carrying it together. Thank ye for opening up to me.” 

 

We pulled into the driveway. I put the car in park and put up the garage.

 

“Claire, I need to get back to work but I will be back later. To talk if ye’d like.”

 

She gave me a slight nod still not looking in my direction as she unbuckled her seatbelt. 

 

As she moved to open the door she stopped, staring at something in the distance. She turned pale and her whisky colored eyes disappeared as tears filled them.  

 

She places her hand over her mouth before she begins to sob.

 

I grab her other hand and follow her line of sight and saw Bree-- 

 

Bree’s helmet sitting in the left corner of the garage atop bags full of old things that were meant to be donated.  

 

I squeezed Claire’s hand as my heart began to ache for our daughter. 

 

“I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry” she repeats over and over shaking her head. I quickly unbuckle my seatbelt and come around to her side of the car. Opening her door I kneel and gather her into my arms.  

 

Holding her tightly, I rub my hand on her back. 

 

She stops for a moment and I help her out of the car as she grips my arms tightly trying to stand upright. I place one arm around her back and the other under the back of her knees. With her securely in my arms, I carry her through the garage door.

 

Closing the door behind us with my foot, I proceed to carry her up the stairs, into the bedroom. 

 

Laying her down gently on the bed. She’d stopped sobbing, but stray tears still ran over the bridge of her nose hitting the pillow her head was laid upon. 

 

Out of instinct, I climb into the bed next to her, tucking loose strands of her hair behind her ear. 

 

I reassure her, “I’m here mo chridhe, we'll get through this together”.