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Falling For My Best Friends Daughter

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

My father went to prison when I was nine years old. He and my mother divorced when he was inside. I don’t remember much of that time. I only remember my mother telling me that my father was going away and I wouldn’t see him for a while. He sent me letters from prison and I wrote back, but that only lasted a couple of years. Shortly after my eleventh birthday, I didn’t receive anything from my father. I never knew why. I didn’t see him for quite a few years.

He was released from prison after four years. I was thirteen at the time. His sister Jenny had sent a letter to my mother to let her know. My mother told me when my father was released, but he didn’t make any effort to contact me. Not by phone, or mail, or a visit.

It wasn’t until I turned eighteen that my father got in touch with me. He sent me a letter. I had not seen him in nine years. I had not heard from him in seven. So much had happened. I wasn’t a child any more. I was a man. A young man of eighteen of course, but I was still a man. We exchanged letters, but I didn’t see him again until ten years ago, when I was twenty. It was an awkward reunion and I referred to him as Jamie, not da as I called him when I was younger. He wasn’t a dad to me. Not any more. He was just this man who I used to know.

Over the last ten years, we have become very good friends. In fact, I would say Jamie Fraser is one of my best friends. We take week about to call one an other. I go to Scotland to visit him a couple of times a year, and he comes to visit me here in London.

To people who know he is my father, they think our relationship is weird, but it suits us just fine. He’s just Jamie, and I’m just Fergus. Best friends.

 

I don’t know why he was in prison, neither my mother nor Jamie ever told me. By the time I was old enough to understand more and find out for myself, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t need to know. He wasn’t a huge part of our lives any more. My mother and I were doing fine with out him.

In the beginning though, I remember my mother crying all the time. She was really upset that our family was torn apart. It took her quite some time to begin to move on. She’s never been with another man since Jamie though. I have tried to encourage her to get out there and meet some nice gentleman who will treat her properly and make her happy. Lord knows she deserves to be happy.

 

My mother and Jamie actually adopted me from France when I was six years old. I don’t remember my biological parents, they died in a house fire when I was three years old. I spent much of my time in a children’s home before meeting Claire and Jamie Fraser. I couldn’t believe it when they told me they wanted to adopt me and bring me home to live with them in Scotland. I’d never been to Scotland before so I was really excited about the new adventure and having somewhere to belong.

 

I never was lucky enough to have any siblings. Living siblings any way. My mother fell pregnant before Jamie went to prison, but a few months after he was sent down, she suffered a miscarriage. The worst part was she had to give birth to my little sister, knowing that she was dead. She had to do it alone as well. Jamie couldn’t be with her and I was only a child, I couldn’t help her either. I think that was a reason why she found it difficult to move on properly.

She doesn’t speak about Jamie much, and I don’t bring him up unless she asks of him. It isn’t often though. I can tell she still loves him though. Sometimes I want to ask why they divorced? Why didn’t she just wait on him to get out of prison? I couldn’t though. The last thing I would ever want to do is make her upset.

 

A year after Jamie went to prison, my mother moved us down to London. My mother is originally from England, but she grew up all over the world with her parents. My grandparents were musicians and toured all over the world. My mother’s uncle tried to talk them in to leaving my mum at boarding school, but they simply said that they didn’t have a child to abandon her for the majority of the year. Mum loved travelling the world with her parents. She learned a lot about different countries and their history and culture. I always found it interesting when she would tell me stories when we were abroad on holiday.

Even though she’s a single mother, she has done a wonderful job in raising me. I am really lucky to have Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp as my mother.

 

Today is my last day in London. Well, apart from when I come home to visit Mum. Later today I am flying up to Glasgow. Jamie recently took over a local newspaper business and offered me a job as a journalist. I wasn’t too keen in the beginning, especially leaving Mum here in London on her own, but she persuaded me to go for it.

I studied Journalism here in London for four years and ended up interning at the same place I was working at until about six months ago. The job was alright. The people were...friendly enough, but no matter how hard I worked or how well I performed, my boss didn’t see me more as an errand boy. It wasn’t worth it in the end. After almost six years working for next to nothing, I told my boss to shove his job up his arse.

 

“How are you getting on sweetheart? You almost ready to go?” My mother asks me as she stands in the door way watching me pack up the last things in my carry on bag.

“All done.” I walk over to her and wrap my arms around her and kiss her forehead. “I called a cab, it should be here soon—“

“But—“

“I can’t say goodbye to you at the airport Mum. I would never get on the plane.”

Mum takes a deep breath and tries to fight back the tears, but they begin to fall anyway. “I am so very proud of you sweetheart.” She tells me as she grabs my head between her hands.

“For what? My friend offering me a job out of pity?” I joke trying to lighten the mood.

“Jamie wouldn’t have offered you the job if he didn’t think you were right for the position.”

I nod my head as I fumble about looking for a handkerchief to wipe the tears from my Mum’s face.

“You better call me as soon as you arrive.”

“I will Mum, I promise. I also promise to call you at least once a day, eat properly and drink plenty water during the day and get enough exercise and sunlight. Well, as much sunlight as you can get in Scotland.” We both chuckle.

“I love you so much my darling.” My mother says before she reaches up on her tip toes to kiss my cheek.

“I love you too Mum.”

My phone pings and it’s to let me know that the cab has arrives and is waiting outside. My Mother walks me out to the cab and gives me another kiss on the cheek and a hug before I jump in to the cab. I roll the window down to say goodbye.

“Jamie better take care of you.”

“I’m thirty years old Mum, I can look after myself.”

She rolls her eyes at me and then before I know it, the cab driver is driving me away. I turn my body round to look back at my Mum through the rear window. I can see her crying again.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

“Marsali, I’ll no tell ye again. Get yer arse down here now. Yer gonna be late for school and yer gonna make yer sister late too and me late for work.” Da shouts up to me from the bottom of the stairs.

“I’m coming Da. Chill.” I say as I make my way down the stairs. “Ye ken, if ye bought me my own car, I wouldna need ye to take me to School in the first place.”

Da scoffs at me as I reach the bottom of the stair case. “Dae ye no think I pay for more than enough? Who dae ye think paid for all yer driving lessons and yer test? The tooth fairy? If yer that bothered about a car, get out there and find a job and get saving.”

I don’t respond. I just tut at him and make my way over to the front door where my wee sister Joanie is waiting.

“Why do ye need to rile da up so?” Joanie asks me as we walk out to my dad’s wee Ford Fiesta.

I just shrug my shoulders and jump in to the back of the car with my handbag that has all my necessities in it. My phone, my keys, a pen, my air pods and my purse. I carry a River Island carrier bag with me for all my school books. Today is Friday, so I don’t have all that much to carry today. I have double English first, then double history after break and then I finish with double art after lunch.

Fridays are definitely my favourite when it comes to school. I love English and I love art. The double history I could probably do without. I mean, who wants to sit and listen to some old guy, Mr Wakefield rabbiting on about the battle of Prestonpans for almost two hours? No me anyway. Especially when the whole battle took all of what? Fifteen minutes, if that? What does he need to talk about for two hours? As soon as we move on from the Jacobite topic, the better.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I do quite enjoy history, hence why I chose it, but I think if I had another teacher, I would enjoy it more.

 

“Da?” I hear Joanie ask.

“Yes a leannan? What’s up?”

“Are ye collecting me from school today, or do ye want me to walk round to the paper?”

“Wait on yer sister and the pair of ye’s can walk round to the paper. I might no be able to get out in time to get ye’s. I dinna ken what time Fergus will make to the office the day.”

That’s right. Da’s friend Fergus is moving here today from London. How could I forget that? “Is Fergus coming over to ours for tea tonight then?” I ask da.

“I expect so. I have already filled his cupboards and the fridge freezer with some groceries last night, but I doubt he will be in the mood for cooking for himself tonight after flying up here and unpacking what boxes have already arrived. That okay with ye two if Fergus joins us tonight?”

“Of course.” Joanie and I both say in unison.

Fergus is technically Da’s son. Da was married before he wed my mother. Da and his first wife, Claire? I think that’s her name. Anyway, they adopted Fergus when he was only six years old. Da ended up going to prison after falling in with the wrong crowd. He and Fergus’ mam got divorced and Da didn’t see Fergus again until about ten years ago. They don’t really refer to each other as father and son. They’re more like best pals. I think they both prefer it that way. It’s easier for them. There isn’t much of an age difference between them anyway. Only sixteen years. Da was only twenty two when he adopted Fergus. Not many folk ken that they are technically father and son. Especially since Fergus basically grew up down in London.

 

I don’t see Fergus as my brother either. He’s my da’s best pal. My da’s gorgeous best pal.

I’ve had the biggest crush on Fergus ever since I first met him eight years ago. I was only ten years old, but I could appreciate how handsome and kind he was. He’s still the same now.

We talk on the phone now and again. If da and I have a disagreement or something, it’s usually Fergus I turn to for advice or just to rant. He’s been a very calming and supportive influence on me. It’s gonna be wonderful to have him only living around the corner. I’ll be able to see him and hang out with him more.

 

My mother died of breast cancer when I was nine. Joanie was only three. Jamie isn’t our real father. He and my Mam married about six months before she passed away. Ma and Da knew each other when they were children and when my mother learned she didn’t have long to live, she worried for my sister and I. That was when my Aunt Jenny, Da’s sister came up with the bright idea that they marry and then Da could take care of us. It took both Ma and Da some time to agree, but they did. I could tell they cared a lot about each other, but they werena in love with one another.

Da’s been a wonderful father to Joanie and me. We are so lucky to have him in our lives. Da and I have our ups and downs, but doesn’t every father and daughter? We love each other, and I ken he would go to the end of the earth for me if I asked him too.

 

When we pull up to the school, Joanie and I say our goodbyes to da and agree to walk straight to the paper’s office when we’re finished at school. Ideally I would of liked to go home and freshen up before seeing Fergus, but I suppose there is a chance he will be at his new house unpacking what few boxes already arrived during the week.

When Joanie and I get out of the car, we go our own ways. I make my way over to my best friend Lizzie and Joanie goes looking for her own group of friends.

“So, are you ready for double English?” Lizzie asks as I approach her standing at the main entrance.

“Yup. The only thing to make this day bearable. I heard we have a sub for art this afternoon, so we will probably just be watching a movie or something boring.” I roll my eyes.

 

Lizzie and I walk in to the building and make our way down the corridor to the lockers. I honestly don’t know why I wasted £10 for a locker for this year when I rarely use it. I take everything home with me at the end of the day. The only things left in my locker are a can of deodorant, a bottle of perfume and a spare notepad and pens.

I rest my back against the lockers as I wait on Lizzie to collect what things she needs for double English. I can see Stephen and his crew making their way towards Lizzie and I.

“Hey babe. How are you this fine morning?” Stephen asks me before he plants a wet sloppy kiss on the corner of my mouth.

Gross.

“Fine. Lizzie and I need to get going to class.” I grab Lizzie’s arm and pull her in the direction of the staircase to our class on the next floor.

“Okay. See you after school though babe? We’re having a party at mine since my parents are away.”

“Sorry Stephen, I’m hanging out with my dad and my sister tonight.”

“Oh come on babe! It’s not often I have a free house. You’re eighteen, you should be having fun, not hanging out with your dad and sister. It not very cool babe.” He states as he makes his way towards Lizzie and I.

“I really like hanging out with my dad actually. You should maybe try spending time with your parents now and again.” I don’t wait for a reply and make my way up the stairs.

 

Stephen and I have been together for about three or four months now. Not that I would call it a proper relationship. We kiss, if you can call it that. Stephen’s just so sloppy, it’s disgusting. We hold hands and cuddle in front of his friends, but that’s about it. I ken I should just dump him, but I don’t ken how. I will though. I canna keep this going much longer.

I think I only started seeing him in the summer because da and I had an argument and I wanted to mess with him a bit.

Da hates Stephen. To the point where Stephen isn’t allowed in our house unless da is there and with us at all times. Not that I mind that, it means Stephen can’t try anything.

The last thing I can imagine is actually losing my virginity to Stephen. No way is that going to happen. I need to end things.

Soon.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

The flight wasn’t too bad. I was sat next to an elderly lady who couldn’t stop telling me of how much I remind her of her grandson. She was very sweet and shared some of her snacks with me. I’ve never seen a elderly person with so much chocolate stashed in a bag.

She was adorable, and the fact she spoke quite a bit helped me relax a lot during the flight and made the time pass quicker.

 

As I make my way out of the airport, I am surprised to see Jamie standing there waiting on me.

“What are you doing here? I have a car coming to collect me.” I ask him as I make my way over to him.

He wraps his big arms around me and gives me a hug.

“Dinna fash lad. I cancelled the taxi and thought I would come for ye myself. Thought I could take ye for some lunch before taken ye to the house. We dinna need to be at the office till later on. The lassies are goin’ there straight after school. That will give us some time to get ye settled in a bit, aye?”

“Thank you. Sounds wonderful.”

 

The drive to my new house is quite refreshing. Jamie fills me in more on the job and his business. He tells me about what his daughters Marsali and Joanie have been up to since I saw them last. We talk about my new house and Jamie helps me decide what to decorate first.

On the way home, we stop at a little deli not too far from the house to pick up something for lunch. I’m not overly hungry after the sliced sausage and onion roll Mum made me for breakfast this morning, and all the chocolates dear sweet Mary was feeding me on the plane. Jamie makes sure I order something though, so I just get a baked potato with Tuna and Cheese, same as Jamie.

 

When we walk in the front door of my new three bedroom detached house, it feels strange. I’ve never lived alone before. I stayed at home with Mum when I went to University. I did move out when I was twenty six. I moved in with my girlfriend at the time. We had only been together three months and I guess we just moved along too quickly. After almost a year of living together and constant arguing, I left and went back home to Mum.

Some of my friends found it strange that I wasn’t desperate to move out in to my own space, but for the past twenty years, I am all my mother had. Yes, she has her job at the hospital, but she doesn’t really have many friends apart from Joe and Geillis. I am the only constant she’s had these last few years. It just feels weird to be here without her, but I’m sure I will be fine

 

After lunch, Jamie asks what boxes need sorted through first. To be honest, I have no idea. My mum did offer to help me pack, but I insisted on doing it myself. I just wasn’t very organised in doing so. If she could see this, she would be very disappointed in me.

“It’s fine, I can see to it myself. I don’t really know what’s what.” I shrug.

“Yer mother no gi ye a hand then? I thought she woulda been all over this.” Jamie laughs and I just give him a disapproving look.

Jamie and I don’t usually speak about Mum. Ever. We did in the beginning, but even though I didn’t know exactly what had happened between them, I knew he broke my mothers heart. I didn’t feel comfortable speaking about her with him. Especially when my Mum didn’t want to speak to me all that much about Jamie. Yes, he has come up a few times over the years, but because he’s my friend. I never spoke with my mother about his personal life or anything like that.

“I’m sorry.” He says to me whilst looking at the floor. He can’t look me in the eye.

“It’s fine.” I wave my hand to dismiss his earlier comment. “She offered, but I said I was capable.” We both laughed at that.

“Well then, just let me ken if ye need a hand. I’ll make a start building yer desk for ye if ye want?”

“That would be great. Cheers.”

 

After unpacking a few of the boxes and Jamie building my desk for my small home office, I make us a cup of coffee and we sit down for a little rest before we have to head to the paper.

“Since it’s Friday, the lassies and I will probably just order a couple of pizzas for tea tonight. Dae ye want to join us? I ken the lassies would love ye to come over for a wee while.”

“Yes, that would be wonderful. Thanks.”

 

When we get to the paper, Jamie introduces me to the other journalists working for him as well as some of the staff in printing. Jamie likes to do most of the editing himself, as well being the main photographer for the paper. I honestly don’t know how he does it all with two daughters to raise. He definitely manages though.

Jamie shows me to my very own office, which I never expected. When I worked in London, the only person to have an office was the editor. Everyone else just worked in their own small cubicle in a large workroom. It wasn’t the best set up, but that’s just the way it was. This looks a lot more put together and professional. There was no way to get distracted by someone sitting next to you carrying on. I think I’m going to really enjoy working here.

Jamie lets me know that his office is up on the next floor and unless he has to be at home with the girls, or he’s out on the field taking photographs for a piece, I will find him in the office and I’m welcome to go to him any time for anything at all.

I think I am definitely going to prefer working here. Jamie seems to really care about all his staff. He’s on first name basis with each and every one of his staff. Everyone seems to love him and have a great respect for him, as he does for his staff. It’s nice to see. It’s definitely a far cry from what I experienced all them years working in London.

Jamie leaves me to wonder around the place and speak to various people and get settled in to my office.

I have been given the go ahead to decorated the office any way I like to make it more personal. As much as I can appreciate nice decor, I don’t really think I’ll be in a rush to do anything with my office. I think I should focus on making the new house a home first.

I do have a photograph of my mother and I from when I was younger. I like to keep that on my desk when I’m working. I think I’ll need it more than ever now that we are about four hundred miles apart. I place the framed photograph on my desk next to my computer. I’ll bring in a couple of potted plants or something on Monday to make the office a bit more personal or something.

 

There’s a knock on my office door. I tell them to come in. It Jamie.

“How dae ye like it so far then?” He asks me whilst leaning against the open doorway.

“You’ve really made a wonderful work environment. Definitely different to where I was in London. I think I’ll really enjoy it here.” I say.

“Glad to hear it mate. Ye almost ready to go? The lassies will be here any minute and I can guarantee they will be moaning about how hungry they are after school.”

“Of course. I didn’t realise the time.” I get up from my chair and make my way towards the door.

Jamie doesn’t follow me out though. He’s spotted the picture on my desk, although I doubt he knows what picture it is as the frame is t facing him.

“Em, I forgot my wallet. Make yer way to the front and I’ll get ye there in five, aye?” Jamie says to me.

I nod my head and step away, but I notice Jamie hasn’t moved. I hang back and watch him in my office from behind one of the pillars. He walks slowly towards my desk and picks up the photo to look at it. He makes his way slowly to the other side of my desk and collapses in to my chair still holding the photo. He’s crying.

Is he crying for my mother? For me? For what he missed out on?

I have no idea.

Either way, in my opinion, he has no right.

I do as he said and I walk along to the front of the office. Just as I approach reception, I see Joanie and Marsali coming through the front door.

Joanie spots me first and makes a bee line for me. Running over and giving me a big hug. I haven’t seen the girls since I was last here at the beginning of summer.

“Did da invite ye to tea the night?” She asks me without so much as a hello.

“Hello to you too Joanie.” I say with a big smile on my face. “Yes he did. He’s just grabbing his wallet and then he’ll be down.” I look over to Marsali and greet her with a quick hug and a hello too.

Jamie doesn’t appear for another fifteen minutes. He doesn’t say anything as he makes his way outside and waits for us to follow him. I look at the girls and they just look at me as if to ask what’s happened. I just shrug my shoulders and gently urge them to follow their dad.

Truth is, I don’t know what’s wrong with him. And to be honest, after seeing the way he was looking at that photograph of me and my mum, I don’t entirely feel comfortable asking him about it.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

I dinna ken what’s happened wi Da the day. He seems really quiet. He hasn’t said a word since we left the office.

He stops the car outside one of our favourite pizza places and just sits there silent. He turns in his drivers seat to hand me over his wallet. He doesn’t say anything though. I just stare at him hoping he will voice what it is he actually wants me to do, but he doesn’t. I mean, I can kinda guess that he’s decided on pizza for dinner tonight instead of cooking, but I don’t ken what kind of pizza he wants or how many pizzas he wants me to get.

Fergus, who is sat in the front passengers seat turns and speaks to me instead of da.

“Marsali, can you and Joanie please go inside and pick up a couple of pizzas for dinner please. Since your da is paying, you could maybe get some extras as well? I like fries. Maybe some onion rings would be nice too?” Fergus says and then flashes his beautiful big smile at me.

I take da’s wallet and slide out of the car behind Joanie. Since da didn’t manage to voice his thoughts, I’ll just get two pizzas. He and Joanie can share a ham and mushroom pizza and Fergus and I can share chicken and sweet corn. I’ll add the extras Fergus suggested as well as adding a couple of my own. Da doesn’t like keeping fizzy drinks in the house. Since he’s some how lost his voice, I suppose it won’t hurt to get a couple of cans of coke for Joanie and I.

 

The whole way home, da still hasn’t spoken. When we get inside, he dishes everyone’s food out on to plates for us and then he sulks away to his office to eat alone.

I’ve seen da quiet and stuck in his own thoughts before, but never like this. He’s been so excited lately about Fergus moving to Glasgow. The only time da really goes out for a pint is when he’s wi Fergus. His entire life revolves around his work and Joanie and I.

Something must of happened at work, but if that was the case, Fergus would tell us. He doesn’t seem to ken what’s going on either.

 

After Joanie, Fergus and I finish dinner, Joanie makes her way upstairs to her room to make a start on her homework. Typical Joanie. It’s a Friday night, and she’s voluntarily making a start on homework that’s probably not due until next Wednesday or something. I’m the complete opposite. Unless it’s English or Art, I leave my homework until the very last minute. Seriously, like if my homework is due the period after lunch, I’ll do my homework during lunch.

That’s mainly what da and I argue about. He thinks I should be applying myself more in school. He wants me to go to University and make something of my life. I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet. I’m eighteen, but I can honestly say that I don’t have a fucking clue what career I want to have.

Some people just ken. Like Lizzie, she has kent since she was about seven years old that she wanted to be children’s social worker. How she even kent what a social worker was at that age, I’ll never ken. I mean, unless you have a social worker at that age, how do you ken what they are or what they do?

I would like to do something with either English or Art. Although, I dinna think University is quite for me. Da’s trying to encourage me to look in to some universities in the UK, but to be honest, I’d rather just try and find a job when I leave school and work my way up to whatever that way. Da doesn’t agree though.

I asked him about an internship at the paper. Even asked if I could do some work experience at the paper as well whilst I’m still in school. I had to choose five subjects this year. I picked four no problem, the fifth one I had a bit of trouble with. That’s why I asked him about work experience during those periods, but he flat out said no and told me to look in to doing an access college course instead. I flat out said no to that one and ended up taking German.

Da wasn’t impressed with that one. Da is fluent in a wide range of languages, but German isn’t one of them. When I was in Primary school, it was German I was taught. I actually quite enjoyed it, but when I started first year at high school, they only taught French. German, Spanish and Italian weren’t available until our senior years. So, when I couldn’t find anything else, I took up German again. I’m definitely much better at it than French. I kinda got the impression da was frustrated at how I sucked at French. He would spend ages trying to help me with my homework, but I just wasn’t interested.

 

Anyway, with Joanie away doing her thing, and Da tucked away in his office, it’s just Fergus and I clearing away the dishes and washing them and putting them away. He’s so gorgeous. Even more so than the last time I seen him at the start of summer. He’s let his hair grow a bit more.

Oh to just be able to reach over and run my fingers through his gorgeous brown curls.

“Ye don’t have to help me wi this Fergus. I’m sure ye’ve got plenty to be doing at home.” I say to him.

“It’s fine. Honestly. I think I would be pretty bored sat at home myself. Almost all the boxes are unpacked, but I can’t be bothered doing the rest tonight. I have the whole weekend to be doing that.” He replies. “What’s your plans this weekend then? Off out with that god awful boyfriend of yours? Fergus asks.

I’m taken a back by his comment. I mean, Stephen is a bit of a dick, but how would Fergus know?
Da. Da must of been ranting about him to Fergus.

“No plans. Anyway, he won’t be my boyfriend for much longer. He’s just a boy. I need a man. Someone who knows how to treat a woman properly.” I say to Fergus. I don’t know why I just said that, but I did.

He doesn’t respond. He just looks away and continues washing the last of the dishes.

 

The house phone starts to ring, and as I make my way over to answer, it stops. Joanie must of answered it up stairs.

We have three house phones. One in the hallway, one in Da’s office and one upstairs on the landing.

Joanie doesn’t seem to be coming down with it though. Maybe it was a wrong number or one of them tele marketing people.

I make my way back to the kitchen and help Fergus put the dishes away.

When that’s all done, we make our way to the living room and put on the tv. This isn’t the first time Fergus and I have hung out alone and watched a film or something. We both have a similar taste in movies and tv shows which is brilliant. Trying to find a film to watch with da or Joanie is always a nightmare. The three of us can never agree on anything.

Tonight, Fergus and I choose to watch The Great Escape. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this film, but it’s one of my favourite films set in WWll.

 

Da appears a wee while later with the phone in his hand.

Ah, he must of answered it.

He doesn't say anything, just passes the phone to Fergus and then walks away.

“Um, hello?” Fergus says down the phone obviously wondering who it could be.

“Oh, hello Mum.” Fergus says as he raises from the couch and walks over to look out the window. “Yeah, sorry. My phone died and I haven’t gotten around to charging it yet.”

I look over and see his phone sat on the coffee table, so I pick it up and see that aye, it’s flat. I take it over and plug it in to charge whilst he’s on the phone to his mum.

From the side of the conversation I can hear, it was his mam that called here, obviously looking for him since he wasn’t answering his mobile. That must have been her calling when the phone rang. That was a wee while ago though. Had da been speaking to her all that time? That in itself is strange, but what’s even more strange is the fact that da hasn’t said a single word since we met him after school, and yet he’s obviously been having a decent conversation with Fergus’ mam.

His ex wife.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

When I walk in to Fergus’ office to see if he’s ready to go soon as the lassies will be here any minute, I see a photo frame sat on the desk. I dinna ken what the photo is, but ken it canna be a lass since he’s been single for quite some time now. There’s only one kind of picture I can think of that he would have sat on his desk. A picture of Claire.

I tell Fergus I left my wallet in my office and tell him to make his way to the front and I’ll get him there in a minute.

As soon as he leaves his office, I slowly make my way forward and pick up the frame. When I turn it over to have a look, I’m not surprised to see it’s a picture of him and Claire from when he was a child.

It isn’t a photo that I recall, and the background doesn’t look familiar. They must of had it taken down in London.

They both look the same as how I remember them when I went to prison. The photo couldn’t of been taken that long after moving to London then.

I walk towards Fergus’ chair and fall in to it and just stare at the picture longer than necessary. I canna help it. I canna seem to put the thing down.

Looking at this photograph just reminds me of the life I once had. The family I once had. My beautiful wife and our blessing of a son. I don’t have that any more. I don’t have them any more.

I haven’t seen or spoken to Claire in over twenty years. Yes, I have Fergus in my life, but it was clear when we reunited ten years ago that he didn’t see me as a father. He still doesn’t. He calls me Jamie. Every time I hear him call me by my name instead of “da”, it’s like a dagger to my heart. I ken I let the lad down. I let Claire down. I will never forgive myself for being so stupid and losing my family over nothing.

My son see’s me as his best pal, not his father. It’s weird, and it hurts. Kills me to not be Fergus’ father any more, but he clearly only wants me in his life as a friend. I canna lose the lad, no again. That’s why I agreed to this kind of relationship. It’s far from what I want, but it’s clearly what he needs. Fergus’ happiness is all I care about.

 

When I make my way through to meet Fergus and the lassies, I can barely look at them. I made a right mess of my life, and because of that I messed up Fergus’ too. I tore his family apart. He doesna speak to me about his mother. I dinna ken if she met someone else. I dinna ken if she re married or had any more children. But right now I feel guilty that I have the lassies and they have me. What does Fergus have?

I dinna say anything to any of them the whole way home. I dinna even ken why not? I’m stood in my kitchen, dishing out take out pizza and chips for my three kids. I should feel happy and blessed to have them all here together, but I just feel sad and un easy. The lassies don’t see Fergus as a brother, and Fergus doesna see the lassies as his sisters. I mean, why would they? It breaks my heart.

I lay down their plates in front of them, and without saying a word, I take my own plate through to sit in my home office.

I sit and eat my dinner in peace and quiet. I have a wee kettle in my office, so when I finish my dinner, I make myself a wee coffee and turn on my computer. I don’t ken why, but I click on one of my private folders on the computer. It’s a file filled with pictures of Claire and I. Some pictures of us with Fergus and some home videos of the three of us. We really were a happy wee family until I went and screwed it all up.
I dinna ken how long I’m looking at all these memories and watching the videos, but I ken it’s been a wee while.

The phone rings, and without thinking, I answer.

“Hello?”

No one answers, but I can hear someone breathing.

“Hello?” I say again hoping for an answer.

“Jamie. I-It’s me. Claire.”

Ye could just about blow me over wi a feather. The last thing I was expecting was to be speaking with Claire Beauchamp on the phone.

“Claire...”

“I... Well, I was wondering if Fergus was with you or if you knew where he was? I’ve been trying to call him most of the day, but his phones off. He promised to call when he got to Glasgow, but I think he may have forgotten. The fact that his phone is off though... I started to panic.”

“No need to panic lass, he’s here. I asked him over for tea tonight to save him cooking for himself.”

“Right. Okay, um... Is it possible to speak with him please?”

“Aye. Of course.” I canna seem to get up off my chair though. I just sit there with the phone at me ear unable to move.

I guess Claire can sense I’m not passing the phone to Fergus. “Jamie?”

“Ye’ve done a grand job raising him Sassenach. He’s truly a credit to ye.”

“Jamie, can you just please let me speak to my son?”

“Sassen—“

“And don’t call me that! You lost the right to call me anything after you walked out on us.”

“Claire—“

“Have Fergus call me please. I start my shift at eight. He can catch me at the hospital after that.”

“Hospital? Ye’re still nursing then?”

“Jamie, you and I are nothing to each other any more. We don’t need to know anything about each other. Just please, have my son call me as soon as he can.”

“Claire, wait. He’s in the kitchen eating dinner, I’ll just take the phone through to him.”

“Thanks.”

I want to continue to talk with her. I want to try and apologise for everything. I want to know she’s okay. I need to know she’s okay. Out of respect for his mother, Fergus will never tell me anythin’.

“Claire, before I pass ye over to Fergus, I just want to say how sorry I am for everything. I meant what I said, ye did a braw job raising Fergus on yer own. He’s the fine man he is today thanks to you.”

“Thank you, but I don’t need your approval.”

“I didna mean it like that—“

“You have ten seconds to pass that phone over to my son or I’m hanging up. I don’t have time for this Jamie. Believe me, if I could get hold of Fergus myself, I would never have called your home.”

With that being said, I reluctantly stand up and make my way through to the kitchen, but he must be in the living room with the lassies. I walk in to the living room and hand the phone over to Fergus. I don’t say anything though, I just pass it over and walk away.

 

A wee while later when I hear Fergus hang up the phone, I walk back in to the living room to get the phone back.

Fergus passes the phone over to me and says, “My phone died earlier and I didn’t have my charger on me. I meant to call her when I landed, but I forgot. She’s happy now though, so that’s fine.”

“I should of made ye call her when I picked ye up. I didna think. Sorry.” I say.

“Hah. I’m not a child and you’re not my dad. It’s fine. It’s been a big day and she understands.” Fergus shrugs.

I dinna think he realises how hurtful that wee comment was, “you’re not my dad”. I guess I canna blame the lad. I’ve no been a father to him since he was nine years old.

Fergus sits down on the couch next to Marsali and they resume the film they started.

“Ye gonna join us Da?” Marsali asks.

“No. No the night lass, sorry. I’ve got a few emails to respond to before Monday. I’d rather do it now than do it over the weekend.”

I tell them to have a good night and I’ll see them both in the morning.

On a Saturday, the girls and I usually go out for breakfast to a wee cafe close by. I invited Fergus along earlier as well.

It’s gonna be nice having him around more and getting to spend more time with him, but I need to remember he isn’t my son. He just my best mate.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

I’ve been living in Glasgow for almost a month now.

I quite like it. It’s a city, just like London, except it’s no where near as big or as busy. Buchanan Street is probably my favourite place in Glasgow. Well, I haven’t exactly managed to experience a lot of the city, but from what I have seen of the place, it’s probably my favourite.

It’s quite a busy street, but it has most of the shops I like. Most importantly, it has plenty of places that sells food.

When I want some quiet time alone but don’t want to be stuck in the house, I usually make my way over to Glasgow Green and take a nice walk or go for a good run. The green is so big, there are days where you don’t pass anyone at all because they are at the other side, or there are days when you pass other people walking their dog or going for a run.

The people in Glasgow are really friendly too. Whenever I do pass people in the Green, they always say hello or good morning. It’s nice. Londoners can be friendly too, but I don’t recall a time where I went for a casual walk and some random person wished me a good day in the middle of London.

I’m very quickly beginning to feel at home here. It’s strange though. I didn’t think I would settle so quickly because poor Mum is back in London on her own. I know she has Joe and Geillis, but it isn’t the same. Mum works way too hard and doesn’t really socialise all that much with them outside of work, unless it’s a birthday or something awful happened with a patient.

Mum’s a surgeon. A general surgeon. She was a nurse, but after she and I moved to London, she asked me if I would be alright with her going to medical school and train to be a doctor. I was really excited for her, because up until that point, I was very aware that everything she did, she did for me. This was something for herself. It wouldn’t make up for losing Jamie, or losing the baby, but it would bring her some sort of happiness to her life. I knew she needed that.

When she decided to go on and become a surgeon, I couldn’t of been prouder of her. She had worked so hard in medical school as well as raising me on her own. It wasn’t easy, far from it, but she made it work.

 

Mum’s actually coming for a visit soon. She’s excited to see me and see how I’ve settled in, but I’m worried about her seeing Jamie. I know she won’t want to. She’s put that part of her life behind her. I really want to show her my office though and introduce her to some of my new friends at work. Maybe I could do that one day if Jamie is out working with his camera or something? I don’t know. I’ll try and work something out. It will be fine.

 

I haven’t done that much in the way of decorating the house. I decided to ask Marsali for help with the interior design of the entire place. That girl has a wonderful eye and a very creative gift when it comes to this kind of thing.

She’s coming over this evening to show me some samples of wallpaper and things. Apparently Joanie is going to a sleepover at a friends house, but Jamie might be coming with Marsali. I hope he does. We haven’t had much time to hang out properly since I moved here. I’ve seen him at work and I’ve been over to his house a few times, but I didn’t stay long after dinner.

Things have been a bit strange with Jamie. It’s like things have shifted in to a different gear and neither of us know what to do or say around each other. Mainly Jamie doesn’t know what to say or do around me.

The first day I arrived in Glasgow, things were going well. Really well, until Jamie spotted the photo of Mum and I in my office. As if that wasn’t bad enough that it made him mute most of the evening, my phone had died and I forgot to call Mum. She had been trying most of the day to catch me on my mobile, but when she couldn’t get a hold of me, she reluctantly called Jamie’s home to see if he knew where I was.

It was Jamie that had answered the phone that night. I don’t know exactly what they spoke about, but it was enough to make Jamie start to ask even more questions about Mum whenever we were alone. It felt strange and awkward.

Jamie’s my friend. My best friend. It isn’t too difficult for me to try and keep him and mum separate, because they haven’t been together in twenty one years. I don’t think of them as an ex couple. She is my mum, and he is my friend. Jamie needs to try and keep his thoughts of my mum away from me. I moved here to try and build a life and a career for myself. I can’t do that if Jamie is going to make things awkward between us at every turn.

 

*Ding Dong

I make my way over to the door to let Marsali in. She text an hour ago to say she was going to pick up some fabric samples and fetch us some Chinese food and she would be round shortly. She didn’t mention Jamie, so I guess it’s just Marsali and I tonight. I don’t mind, she’s a great young woman, but I really miss hanging out and having a few drinks with Jamie.

I answer the door and Marsali is stood there with a bag of Chinese food and a cardboard box filled with samples of fabrics, wallpapers and even some paints. I look behind her to see the taxi pull away.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were getting a cab? I could have taken you to get the things and brought you back. Cabs are expensive you know.” I say to her. This girl does like to waste money. Always has since I’ve known her.

“I didna want to put you out.” She hands me the box and walks on past me in to the kitchen and leaves the bag of Chinese food sat on the island and goes to grab us some plates and cutlery. “Anyway, I used da’s money, no my own.” She smiles.

“Jamie won’t be happy when he finds out.” I tell her. He’s always on at her for wasting money on stupid things. Booking expensive taxi’s is definitely something he wouldn’t be happy about.

“I ken. That’s why I did it. When he starts moaning at me about it, I can just say that if he bought me a car, then I wouldn’t need to order a taxi every time I have to be somewhere.” She smirks.

“I’ll run you home when we’re finished. I don’t like the thought of you in a cab on your own, during the day or at night.” I tell her.

“Oh? Think about me a lot do you?” She smiles at me again as she begins to dish out our mixed chow mien and spring rolls.

Is she flirting with me?

I’ve been thinking this for a while now, but she can’t be. She’s Jamie’s daughter. I’m his friend. She’s eighteen years old. She has a boyfriend. That Stephen guy. She did say she was going to break up with him, but as far as I know, they are still together.

I pick up my plate and lead Marsali in to the living room and I turn on the tv. There isn’t much on, so I just leave it on one of the music channels whilst we eat. No point putting on a film when we have so much to do after dinner.

 

“What dae ye think to this then?” Marsali asks as she holds up a sample of a royal blue coloured wallpaper with a golden floral design through it. It looks nice, but I’m not good with this kind of thing, hence why I asked her to do it for me.

“Yeah, looks good.” I shrug.

“Is that it? If ye don’t give me proper feedback, this place will be designed to my taste and then a few weeks or months down the road you’ll be moaning that ye hate it.”

“That’s not true. Listen Marsali, I trust you. That is why I asked you to do this for me. Interior design isn’t really my thing, but you have a wonderful eye for this sort of thing. Just do whatever you want and send me the bill for what you need. I’m sure you will have this place looking like a proper home in no time.”

 

It’s getting late and really I should be getting Marsali home. Jamie has called her twice in the last hour asking how much longer she’ll be. Truth is I don’t want to take her home.

We’ve been having such a wonderful time tonight. I know she was originally coming over to discuss and show me wallpaper and fabric samples and things, but a few times we got side tracked and just talked about other things.

There is an interior design showcase happening over in Edinburgh next week and Marsali really wanted to go. Jamie told her no because he doesn’t feel comfortable her going to Edinburgh on the train on her own and staying in the city all alone. I can see where he’s coming from, I’m not keen on that idea either. Jamie can’t take her as Joanie has a dance concert on that day.

I think Marsali could really take this Interior Design a bit further. She definitely has the talent for it. She doesn’t really enjoy school all that much, except for English and Art. She doesn’t know what she wants to do when she finishes school next year. All she knows is she doesn’t want to go to University. Jamie is really pushing for her to do just that.

Marsali is a beautiful writer. You wouldn’t think it when she speaks sometimes. The woman certainly has a unique way with words sometimes, but the way she can express herself with words on paper is just beautiful.

She asked Jamie if she could do work experience at the paper and he told her no. I think he thinks that that would be too easy for her. I can kind of see his point, but it might of helped her decide what she does or doesn’t want to do when she leaves school.

 

“Are you ready to go? Jamie will be mad if I keep you here any longer.” I tell her.

“Yeah, can ye just give me five minutes to run up stairs and collect some of the samples I left up there?”

“Yeah. I’ll get you in the car. Just pull the door shut behind you and it will lock itself.”

 

The drive to her place is a nightmare. I swear she’s flirting with me. She’s eighteen years old and she’s Jamie’s daughter.

She’s an attractive young woman and if she wasn’t Jamie’s daughter, then yeah, I could be in to her, but she is Jamie’s daughter. I think I’m going to have to try and put some distance between us.

Shit.

Marsali is going to be around my place almost everyday whilst it gets decorated. I’m going to have to make sure either Jamie or Joanie are there too. She wouldn’t be so stupid as to flirt with me in front of them. Right?

When I pull up outside her house. She leans over in to the back to grab her handbag. As she turns back around, I stupidly turn to look at her and our faces are only inches apart.

Marsali licks her bottom lip whilst looking at mine.

This can’t be happening.

I clear my throat and turn to look out the front window. “Thanks again for the Chinese food and also for agreeing to help with the house.”

“Aye, naebother. I’ll see ye tomorrow then.” She leans over and kisses my cheek before jumping out of the car and heading inside her house.

Yeah. I need to keep some distance between us when possible.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

Last night was so good. Just hanging out with Fergus, just the two of us.

He is so damn fit.

But it’s more than that. He treats me like an adult. I mean, my da does to some extent, but then other times he just treats me like his wee lass. I mean, I get it. The man basically raised Joanie and I on his own. I think he tries to over compensate sometimes because we don’t have a mam. He can be so over protective sometimes.

Like, I’m eighteen years old. Most people in my year at school seem to have a lot more independence than I do. Sure I can meet Lizzie in the city centre for a day out shopping, but Da would much prefer if we go to a shopping centre where he and Joanie can come along too and do their own thing. It can be embarrassing sometimes. Last night for example, I was at Fergus’ house, and Da knew that. I was only around the corner basically. Lucky if it’s like a 10/15 minute walk from our house, and da kept calling to see when I was coming home. Like come on! It’s not like I was at the other end of the city with some random person.

There’s a showcase coming up in Edinburgh for Interior Design that I would like to go to, but Da can’t take me because Joanie has a dance thing. I mean, fair enough, but Edinburgh isn’t exactly that far away on the train, but Da said I couldn’t go myself. I could ask Lizzie, but Da would probably say no anyway.

 

Today is going to be very boring. I’m not going over to Fergus’ until later. He’s invited us all over for dinner and then I have more options for his bedroom to discuss with him. He doesn’t seem that bothered about the decorating. He seems quite happy to just give me free reign. To be honest, it makes me feel really good that he has the faith in me to do this. I just hope he likes what I come up with.

I wish I was round there now. Just to even chill out in front of the tv together or discuss literature or something. Conversation with Fergus is usually so easy and comfortable.

I did flirt with him a little last night. I couldn’t help myself.

When he dropped me off home, he turned to look at me whilst I looked at him and our faces were so damn close. I could feel him breathing. I just wanted to kiss him. More than anything I wanted to kiss him, but I didn’t. I hate that I didn’t.

I’ve fancied Fergus ever since I first met him. In fact, I would say it was more than fancy. I swear it was love at first sight. I was only a child though. But, I’m not a child any more... I’m eighteen. An adult. A young woman.

I ken Fergus is the perfect man for me. I just, I don’t ken if he kens it yet.

He probably wouldn’t entertain the idea though. He’s da’s best pal. He probably wouldn’t want to do anything to ruin his friendship with da.

If I wasn’t Da’s daughter though... would Fergus be interested in me?

I don’t ken.

 

Since I’m no going to Fergus’ till later on, I reluctantly agreed to go to the skate park with Stephen and some other folk in our year at school.

I don’t really want to go, but anything beats moping around the house with Da and Joanie. I’m no in the mood for one of Da’s lectures about colleges and universities again.

 

When I get to the skate park. Stephen isn’t even here yet. Most of his pals are though, and some of their girlfriends. To make things worse, my cousin Maggie is here. She goes out with one of Stephen’s friends. Maggie and I aren’t that close. My Aunt Jenny, Da’s sister is convinced her wee Maggie is sweeter than sweet. I ken different though. Da’s family were raised catholic. Strict catholics. I’m catholic too, but my mother wasn’t pushy with it. Growing up, if I wanted to go to mass, she would take me, or get my great granny Fitz to take me. Religion just wasn’t something my mother pushed on me as a child, but always made sure that I knew it was okay to turn to my faith if I needed too. After she died, Da didn’t push me or Joanie either. He still raised us well though. Joanie and I both have good manners and are usually well behaved. We go to mass with Aunt Jenny and her family twice a year, Easter and Christmas.

If only my family knew how many sexual partners Maggie has had out of wedlock. They would be furious and embarrassed. Maggie lost her virginity at the age of fifteen to some older guy she met at a college party she and some of her friends went to. She came to school on the Monday to brag about it to all the girls. In my opinion, the lass is is just a complete slut.

“Hi Marsali. Didn’t think I’d see you here the day. My ma said that Uncle Jamie couldna go over to visit the day because you all have plans.”

“We do. Da’s busy helping Joanie get everything organised for her concert next week, then we’ve been invited out to dinner tonight with one of Da’s friends. I’m sure Da said he was going over to see yer mam on Tuesday or something though. No offence like, but yer mam could always come and visit us.” It’s always us going to visit the Murray clan. I think I can count on one hand how many times they have set foot in our house, and we’ve lived there for seven years.

Maggie just huffs and stomps away. She’s always looking to argue with me over something. I do bite back sometimes, but not too much. Maybe she doesn’t care about making a fool out of herself but, like I said, Da raised me well. I try to ignore her mostly.

As she stomps off over to her latest boyfriend. Stephen sneaks up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist. It doesn’t feel good. I know it should, but it just makes me feel uneasy. As everyone starts to walk over towards us, Stephen begins to slide one hand under my sweatshirt and t shirt. I tell him to stop, but he keeps moving his hand up until he is groping my left breast over my bra.

I elbow him in the stomach and push him off.

“What the FUCK? Why would you do that?” I snap at Stephen.

“I was just saying hello.”

“That is not how you say hello!”

“Goodness sake Marsali, calm down. Stephen is your boyfriend after all.” Maggie chips in.

“And? That doesn’t give him or anyone else the right to do that.” I shout at her.

“We all ken what happens between ye two behind closed doors. Stephen has been quite open about all the different positions you’ve been begging him to try. No need to act like a prude Marsali.” Maggie goes on.

“Excuse me?” I turn to look at Stephen who has backed away a bit and has his head facing down at the ground. “No that it’s anyone’s business but mine, I have not slept with Stephen. Or any other lad for that matter. I am a virgin.” I tell the group of people around me. “And honestly, I’m about 99% sure so is your friend here. It’s pretty clear he doesn’t have the experience that he claims to have.” I announce and then just walk away.

Maggie comes running up behind me. “Marsali, wait.”

I turn to face her, although I don’t see the point to be honest. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Da I saw ye here today.” Maggie was supposed to be volunteering with the elderly, same as every weekend, but she quietly agreed to volunteer once a month whilst the family thinks she does it every weekend.

“It’s no that, but thanks. I just... why did ye say yer a virgin?”

“Cause I am.” I say matter of factly.

“But, ye dinna tell folk that Marsali. Especially boys.”

“I’m no ashamed Maggie. I would much rather brag about still being an innocent, than bragging about how many boys I’ve slept with this month.” With that, I just spin around and walk off with my head held high before Maggie could say anything else.

 

As I walk towards the gate of the park, I realise how shaken I actually am over Stephen touching me like that. I canny tell my Da. He would flip out and I really don’t want him getting in trouble just because of Stephen Bonnet.

I text Lizzie, but she doesn’t respond. She’s probably away with her parents anyway.

I call Fergus. He has a car, he could come and pick me up.

I feel safe with Fergus. I can talk to him.

I don’t want to be on my own right now.

 

When I call Fergus and by the time he answers and I go to speak, I realise I’m crying.

“Marsali? Where are you?” He asks.

I can’t respond so I hang up. Embarrassed.

He texts me and asks me to text him back with where I am and he’ll come and get me.

 

Fergus pulls up in the car park next to the gate. I can see him parking up and getting out of the car to come and get me.

I’m sat on a bench just along from the gate.

“Marsali? What is it? What happened?” Fergus asks as he sits down beside me.

“Can you just take me away from here please?” I ask him without looking at his beautiful face.

“Of course, come on.” Fergus stands up and holds out a hand for me to take.

We walk over to his car hand in hand and it feels good. Safe. Just like I knew it would be.

 

“I take it you don’t want me to take you home to your dad if you called me instead of him?” Fergus asks me as he drives us to a retail park.

I just shake my head. I’m still struggling to come out with the right words.

“I’m making Chicken in a creamy mushroom and garlic sauce and spaghetti for dinner tonight, but it won’t hurt to stop off on the way home for a cheeseburger at MacDonalds, right?” I just turn and give Fergus a smile and nod my head.

As Fergus pulls up to the drive thru, I say, “make mine a double. I might have skipped breakfast this morning.”

Fergus just shakes his head at me, but gives me a flash of that beautiful smile of his.

 

I don’t say anything the rest of the way back to Fergus’ house, and he doesn’t push me.

When we get in to his house and sit down on the couch and begin to tuck in to our double cheeseburgers and fries, I start to open up.

“I was at the skate park with Stephen and some of his friends. He-uh, He snuck his hand under my top in front of all his friends to grope me.”

Fergus’ eyes shoot open wide. I don’t think his eyebrow could get any higher. “What the fuck? Why didn’t you tell me before? I would of kicked his arse. Are you okay? Did he do anything else?”

“I’m fine, I just had to get away. I pushed him off and walked away. It wasn’t until I was walking away, I realised how shaken I was. I didna want to call da because he would of done something terrible and Stephen’s just not worth it. He’s a stupid, immature little boy.”

Fergus puts his carton of fries down on the coffee table and scoots over and pulls me in to a hug.

We sit here like this for a while. Fergus holding me tight against him. He’s running his hand over my head telling me everything is alright and I’m safe with him.

 

After a while, he picks up my phone and shoots off a text to da saying that I’m at Fergus’ already and I’ll see him and Joanie here later for tea.

Da responds straight away saying that’s fine and he’ll see us soon.

 

I’m not the best cook in the world, but I do alright when someone else is helping me. Da is an amazing cook. So is Joanie, I think she takes after our mother and great granny Fitz. I think I take after my bio dad. Not that I remember all that much about the guy. He did a disappearing act when I was two years old. He came back with his tail between his legs a few years later, and then when Mam found out she was expecting Joanie, he disappeared again.

But, since Fergus was kind enough to come and pick me up earlier and take care of me this afternoon, I’ve decided to help him cook dinner. He doesn’t seem keen on the idea though.

“You just sit yourself down there and relax. Let me cook dinner. You can chat to me as I go though and keep me company if you want?” He says to me.

“Fine, but you don’t ken what your missing Fergus Fraser.” I smile.

“Um, Beauchamp. My surname is Beauchamp.”

“Oh, sorry. I just assumed... sorry.” Fuck. This is awkward.

“It’s fine. Tell you what... you could maybe shred the chicken for me.”

“Sure.” I get up and walk over to the worktop and stand beside Fergus as he starts prepping the sauce. “Where did you find this recipe anyway? It sounds delicious.”

“My mother is a wonderful cook. She likes to cook when she can. With her hours at work and her shift pattern, it was usually me who did most of the cooking though. She taught me well though.”

“Shift pattern? What does yer mam do?” We’ve never really spoken about his mam for obvious reasons, but I’m really curious about this mystery woman who was married to da. This woman who raised Fergus basically single handedly.

“She was a nurse for a long time. When she and I moved to London though, she wanted a new challenge. New experience. She went to medical school and then went on to become a surgeon. I’m really proud of her. A lot of doctors, mainly surgeons, find it hard to find that work/family balance. It was difficult at times, for both of us, but we made it work. She’s actually one of the most sought out general surgeons in the country.”

“Wow. She really does sound amazing.”

“She is. She will be here next week. She’s coming to see the house and see how I’m settling in. I haven’t told Jamie though, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t either.”

“I swear I won’t. I promise.”

“Thank you Marsali.”

We continue on preparing dinner and just having random conversations. I do have a question, but I don’t ken how he’ll react if I ask him.

 

“Fergus? I wanted to ask you something. Now, you can tell me to fuck off or whatever, but I’m just curious.”

“What is it? You can ask me anything Marsali. I won’t bite.” Fergus chuckles.

“Me and my mam were quite close when I was a kid. Da’s been brilliant, he really has, but I just feel like somethings missing. I really miss her. I miss not having a woman to talk to about certain things. I ken da tries to encourage me to speak with Aunt Jenny, but I just don’t think she and I have that close a relationship. Do... do you feel like ye missed out in not having a dad growing up? Like I said, ye can tell me to fuck off, I won’t be offended.”

“It’s alright. I guess there were times when I did wish I had a man in my life that I could turn to for certain things. Especially in my teen years and my early twenties. My mother was fantastic at being both a mother and father to me, but yes... I did miss not having a father around. But, I turned out all right, didn’t I? And Jamie has done a wonderful job in raising you Marsali. You’re such a beautiful, funny, strong young woman. I have no doubt in my mind that you could be anything you want to be.”

He called me beautiful.

“Dae you really think I’m beautiful?” I ask him as I turn to look him in the eye. He turns to face me too.

“Very.”

I ken I shouldn’t, but I canny help it. I need to kiss him.

I lean in and Fergus is doing the same. Our lips brush against each other’s nice and softly.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

Shit.

I just called Jamie’s daughter beautiful.

Very beautiful.

And now we’re looking at each other.

God, I want to kiss her so much.

I’m leaning in. Oh god, so is Marsali. Does she want to kiss me too?

This can’t be happening.

She does. It is.

My mouth is gently brushing against Marsali’s.

I pull back. “Shit. Sorry Marsali. That shouldn’t of happened.”

“Wait, what? Why not?” She asks me. She looks confused. Upset.

“I’m sorry, but you’re Jamie’s daughter. He’s my friend. This can’t happen. It shouldn’t of happened.”

“Fergus, I ken what ye mean, but... can I just ask you one thing?”

I awkwardly nod for her to continue.

“Did ye want to kiss me?”

Oh god. This can’t be happening. What the hell have I just done? “Marsali—“

“Cause I really wanted to kiss you. I have fancied ye since the first time I saw ye, but I was just a kid. I’m not a kid anymore though. I’m eighteen, and I really like ye.”

I really like her too, but I can’t say that. It’s wrong. She’s Jamie’s daughter. “Marsali-“

“We get on so well Fergus. Ye don’t treat me like a child, ye treat me like an equal. We have a laugh together and ye make me really happy. Seeing or speaking to you is the highlight of my day Fergus. I dinna think my feelings are one sided either.”

“They’re not.” I say quietly. “We can’t do anything about this though Marsali. It’s wrong. On so many levels, it’s complicated.”

She walks towards me and takes my head between her hands and forces me to look at her. “If I wasna Jamie’s daughter, would you be turning me down?”

“Marsali—“

“If you and him weren’t best friends, would ye want to be with me?”

“If you weren’t his daughter and I wasn’t his friend, we wouldn’t even know each other.”

“And I canny imagine my life without you in it Fergus. I really like ye Fergus. A lot. I ken it’s no a straight forward situation, but please, answer my question... would you want to be with me.”

*Knock knock

“That will be your da and Joanie. Can you finish shredding the chicken please whilst I let them in.” I reluctantly walk away from her to let Jamie in. As if this moment couldn’t get any more awkward.

 

“Hey bud. How’s it going? Thanks for having us over for tea the night.” Jamie says as he gives me a quick hug before heading through to the kitchen.

“No problem. I’m running a little behind, but it shouldn’t be that much longer.” I shout through to Jamie as Joanie makes her way to the door. “Hey squirt.” I smile at her as she hugs me tightly.

“Hi. Is Marsali here?”

“Yeah, she’s in the kitchen.” Joanie eyes widen comically. “Don’t worry, she’s only shredding the chicken for me. Even Marsali can’t screw that up, right?”

“You would be surprised.” We both chuckled.

 

Dinner is going very well. Apart from the fact that I am sat next to Marsali and she keeps brushing her hand lightly over my thigh. Jamie and Joanie are sat directly across from us. What if they see? Does she not care? This can’t be happening.

“Does anyone want some dessert? I didn’t make anything because I suck at desserts, but I’m sure I have some ice cream in the freezer and I also have an apple crumble in the fridge.”

“Apple crumble would be lovely pal, cheers.” Jamie says. Whilst Joanie asks for some strawberry ice cream and Marsali offers to help.

 

I let Marsali dish out the ice cream whilst I dish out the apple crumble. When I go to get the pouring cream out of the fridge, Marsali appears behind me and starts nibbling at my ear lobe. Luckily Jamie and Joanie can’t see from where they are sat in the dining room, but one of them could easily walk in.

“Marsali, you have to stop.” I whisper.

“I don’t want to. I don’t think you want me to either.”

“When your father and Joanie leave, stay behind a while and we’ll talk. Just tell them you want to show me some cushions online or something.”

“Em, I don’t ken if I should be happy ye want me to stay, or disappointed that ye think I just want to fill yer house with cushions.” She goes to storm off, but I grab her wrist and pull her back towards me.

“You know I didn’t mean it like that, I just think that because you came here earlier, Jamie will think you are going home with them when they leave. You and I really need to talk though.”

Marsali nods and after we have everything dished out, we take the desserts through to the dining room and join Jamie and Joanie again.

 

“Well, that was wonderful Fergus. Thank ye so much for having me and the lassies round tonight. The food was beautiful. Wasn’t it girls?”

“Aye. Thanks for having us Fergus.” Joanie says to me as she comes towards me for a hug goodbye.

“No problem at all. I’m just glad you enjoyed it.”

“Da, Fergus will run me home in a wee while. I’ll help him clear up the dishes and then I need to show him some things online that I think would go nicely in the kitchen and dining room.”

“As long as Fergus doesna mind?” Jamie asks as he looks to me.

“Of course not. I’m just happy Marsali is prepared to help me with all this. I would have no idea where to begin.” I laugh.

“Verra well then. Dinna be keepin’ Fergus up too late though Marsali.”

“Da, it’s fine. I’ll no be here too long. Promise.”

“Okay. Home no later that ten. I mean it Marsali.” Jamie tells her firmly. Jamie knows that Marsali can easily get lost in her own little world when it comes to any kind of creativity.

“Don’t worry. I’ll have her home safely soon.” I say.

“I ken ye will mate.” Jamie says to me and then turns to Marsali, “Be good.”

 

After Jamie and Joanie head home, Marsali helps me clean and tidy up the kitchen. I know we need to talk about things, I just don’t know what to say or where to start.

It’s eventually Marsali who begins...

“Tell me you don’t have the feelings for me that I have for you, and I won’t mention it again. I swear.”

“It’s not as simple as that though—“

“That tells me all I need to know.” She tells me as she makes her was towards me.

“This can’t happen though. We can’t take this any further. I think we should stop spending time alone. Your dad is my friend Marsali. My best friend. I can’t be doing anything with his daughter. I shouldn’t even be thinking about you.”

Marsali lowers her head after her eyes fill with tears. I hate seeing her like this. I hate that I make her feel like this.

She mutters something I can’t quite make out and then she turns to storm off in a huff.

I grab her wrist before she can get too far away from me and pull her back. When I pull her, she stumbles over, so I wrap my arms around her waist to steady her. We are standing so close, I’m sure she can feel my erection between her legs. FUCK!

She bites her bottom lip and I am trying my best to not pick her up and let her wrap her legs around me. I need to be strong here. I need to be firm.

“This is serious Marsali. If we take this any further, your father would never forgive me.”

“Who says he has to know?” She smiles at me sweetly.

“We can’t go sneaking around.”

“Why no? We’re two consenting adults Fergus. We both know that what’s between us is more than just a friendship. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I dinna want to spend the rest of my life wondering if we missed something really special just because you’re scared or worried about what my da thinks. You make me so happy Fergus, I just want to do the same for you.”

She makes me so happy too, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to say anymore. I know that my feelings for Marsali are wrong. So wrong, but I cant help it. I’ve never met a woman like her before in my life. She’s perfect. The truth is, if she wasn’t Jamie’s daughter, I wouldn’t even be second guessing myself, I would be with this woman and spend every single minute of every day trying to make her happy.

*Ring ring.

Marsali’s phone rings. It’s Jamie.

“Da, ye said ten, it’s no even nine yet.” She says as she answers the phone.

“Oh. Is she okay?”

“Do you want Fergus to bring me to the hospital?”

“Okay, hang on.” Marsali passes her phone over to me.

Jamie’s sister Jenny collapsed earlier. Jamie and Joanie are on their way to Jenny’s to take care of the children whilst Jenny’s husband Ian goes with her to the hospital.

Jamie asks me if Marsali can stay at mine tonight. He doesn’t want her at home alone as he’s staying at Jenny’s overnight with Joanie. Of course I agree. I don’t like the idea of Marsali being home alone either. And I know for a fact she wouldn’t want to spend the night with her cousins, especially Maggie.

 

Marsali and I agree to go and stay at hers tonight instead. I have a bed in my spare room, but it isn’t the most comfortable. The new mattress for it won’t be arriving until tomorrow afternoon. I would of happily given her my bed for the night and I would of slept on the couch, but I think Marsali would probably prefer to be in her own bed tonight.

I quickly pack an overnight bag for myself with some toiletries and a change of clothes.

The drive round to Marsali’s is quiet. I’m not sure if it’s because of our conversation before, or if something else is bugging her. Probably just me to be honest.

 

When we get to the house, Marsali tells me she’s going upstairs to get changed for bed, but she’ll be back down soon and we can watch a film or something.

“Ye can come and put your bag in da’s room if you want? He just changed his bed this morning, so it’s fresh sheets anyway.”

“It’s okay, I’ll be fine on the couch.”

Marsali shrugs her shoulders and continues to climb the stairs to go tho her room.

I leave my bag down beside the couch and head in to the kitchen to make us some hot chocolates. I remember one time when Jamie had to go away on an overnight job last year and he asked me to come and take care of the girls. We spent the whole night just staying up watching film after film and drinking hot chocolates the whole night. Well, me and Marsali did. Poor Joanie fell asleep halfway through the first film so I ended up carrying her up to bed. Me and Marsali had a lot of fun that night just chilling and hanging out. It was nice. She’s just so easy to be around. It shouldn’t be like this though, but it is.

I make the hot chocolates with milk, because in my opinion, that’s the only way to do it. And I add some cream and marshmallows and sprinkle some chocolate on top. I know how much Marsali loves her marshmallows. You hear of women pigging out on chocolate when they’re feeling down or upset, I know my mother certainly does, but Marsali doesn’t. She would rather demolish an entire bag of marshmallows. I’ve seen her do just that a few times. She’s adorable.

 

Just as I put the mugs down on the coffee table and go to turn on the tv, Marsali comes in to the living room dressed in a crop top and a pair of very short pyjama shorts. I can see her hard nipples through her thin top. Part of me wants to tell her she isn’t being fair and she needs to stop, but the other part of me... god, this is just so wrong.

She comes over and sits down next to me on the couch. Like right next to me. She’s almost sat on my lap. I turn to look at her.

“What?” She asks.

I roll my eyes and pick up the remote and start browsing Netflix for a film to put on.

“I want to watch a romance for a change.” She tells me.

I just hand the remote over to her so she can decide what to put on.

Once she has decided on a film, she puts the remote down on the arm of the couch and pulls a blanket over both our laps. “It’s kinda cold.” She tells me.

“Maybe you should put on some proper pyjamas then?!”

Marsali settles close to me and starts drinking her hot chocolate. “Thank you. It tastes amazing.”

“Your welcome. I’m glad you like it.”

“I really do.” She puts her mug back down on the coffee table and throws the blanket to the back of the couch and climbs on to my lap.

“Marsali, what are you doing? What do you want?” I ask her as she runs her hands under my shirt.

She bites her bottom lip, which is just so beautiful and it causes my cock to twitch. “I want you Fergus. I want you to fuck me. I want you to see how good we could be together.”

Her saying that makes me feel things I shouldn’t. It makes me want her so badly. Ah, fuck!

Marsali groans and I know she can feel exactly what she’s doing to me. “See, someone like the sound of that.” She grins at me.

“We can’t do this Marsali. You know we can’t.”

She removes her hands from under my shirt and wraps her arms around my neck and brings me closer to her so she can kiss me.

Wow.

She is such a good kisser. When I feel her tongue on mine, I decide to take full control of this and kiss her deeper and deeper. She’s moaning in to my mouth as our tongues dance together.

We pull part for air and I start trailing kisses down her neck and over her collarbone, making her moan even more.

Something in the back of my mind makes me stop.

“Wait. Are you a virgin? I know you’ve had boyfriends before, but..”

“I am. But hopefully not for much longer.” She says before pulling me in for another kiss.

I pull myself back, “Marsali, I can’t take your virginity.”

“Why not? Da never said I had to wait until I married, but he did encourage me to wait until I knew I was ready. I am ready Fergus. For you. For us. I want my first time to be with someone special. Someone I care about and someone who cares and respects me.”

I don’t know what to say. I really care about her. Really really care about her. I want to be with her so much. I want to protect her and keep her safe. Show her every single day how beautiful and loved she is. But I can’t. Not tonight. I know she and Jenny aren’t that close, but Jenny is still her aunt and she’s in the hospital.

I reach my hand up to tuck her hair behind her ear. “We’re not doing this. Not tonight.”

“Fergus—“

“Let me finish. This is wrong on so many levels, but you’re right, I can’t deny how I feel for you. I really like you too Marsali and I have done for a little while now. You’re beautiful, smart, funny, crazy talented with words when you write, so creative. You are wonderful Marsali, and I do want to be with you. I want to spend every day making sure you know how wonderful you are. I want to spend every single day making sure you’re happy and loved. This thing that’s between us, I’ve never felt anything like it before, but we can’t do this tonight. I won’t take your virginity tonight. As much as I want to be a part of you and for you to be a part of me, your aunt is in the hospital. We can’t do this tonight.”

She nods her head and climbs off my lap to sit beside me again. “Okay. So... I don’t understand. You want me, but not tonight? Does that mean that you want to be with me, you just don’t want to have sex with me tonight?”

I take her hand in mine. “I want to be with you Marsali, but I won’t take your virginity whilst you are worrying about your aunt in hospital. I care too much for you to let you lose your virginity like that. When I do take you, I want it to be special. You deserve it to be special. Not just because your father and sister are out and we have the house to ourselves. You mean too much to me for it to be like that.”

She smiles and cuddles in next to me. Resting her head on my shoulder and still holding my hand. “So we’re doing this? Like, really doing this?”

“Yes. Just don’t tell your father yet. We’ll see how things go and when we’re sure there is something to tell him, I’ll speak with him. It isn’t going to be easy though.”

“I ken. But at least we have each other.”

“Yes we do.”

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

We’re sat cuddled up on the sofa watching some random romance film on Netflix. It’s pretty crap, but I don’t really care. I’m not paying too much attention to it anyway. We might as well just turn it off, but we don’t.

Fergus has his arm wrapped around my shoulder and my head is resting on his chest. I really like it. I can feel him breathing. His chest moving up and down at a steady pace. My right arm is draped over his stomach. We’re comfortable. It feels right.

If da was to walk in, he would probably beat Fergus up or something. I would definitely be grounded even though I’m eighteen. Luckily for us, he won’t be home tonight. I feel weird about sneaking around behind his back, especially here at home when he isn’t here, it just feels wrong. But if it’s a choice between being with Fergus and having the opportunity to see how this relationship progresses or not having a relationship with Fergus at all, I definitely choose Fergus.

 

The film finishes and I really want to go to bed. I don’t want to leave Fergus’ arms though. I ken he said no to sex, which is fair enough, I can see where he was coming from. It’s sweet that he would think of me like that and consider how I must be feeling about other things going on right now. If Fergus and I did have sex tonight though, I ken I wouldn’t regret it. If it was some other guy, like Stephen for instance, Stephen wouldn’t care about me and how I feel, he would just want to bed me because Da isn’t home. That’s the difference between Fergus and Stephen, Fergus is a man, where Stephen is just an immature lad.

“I’m really tired. I’m going to bed.” I reluctantly pull myself up from the couch and turn to face Fergus. “I ken ye said no sex, and that’s fine but, would ye sleep beside me tonight? I dinna want to be without you.”

“Are you sure?”

“More than anything.” I reach out my hand for Fergus to take, which he does.

“If you change your mind at any time, tell me and I’ll sleep in Jamie’s room, okay?”

I give him a quick kiss on the mouth. “I’m expecting to wake up in your arms tomorrow morning Mr Beauchamp.” I say with a great big smile on my face.

 

I half expected to wake up and it all be a dream, but no. Fergus is literally laying in bed beside me. He looks so peaceful. I dinna want to wake him up, but we should really get up and ready. He said he would take me to Aunt Jenny’s this morning to check in with da and Joanie.

God, how am I gonna face da kennin’ that if he knew what was happening between Fergus and I, he would be absolutely fuming.

“Good morning. Did you sleep alright?” Fergus asks me as he pulls me closer and places a kiss on my temple.

I turn to face him with a big smile on my face. Not normal for me. I’m not usually a morning person, but waking up to Fergus beside me is more than a dream come true. “Very well actually. I haven’t slept that well in a while. I wish you could stay again tonight.”

“I know, me too. Come on. Lets get showered and ready and I’ll treat you to breakfast before I take you over to the Murray’s.”

“Or... we could skip breakfast and stay in bed a little longer?” I suggest with a cheeky grin.

Fergus rolls his eyes and slides out of bed. “No. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I can’t have you collapsing later in the day because you haven’t eaten.” I pout my lips a little, but he just raises an eyebrow at me. “Come on, we can shower together. Fair compromise?”

“You want to shower together? Seriously?” I’m actually shocked at this suggestion. Happy with it though.

“Don’t get too excited though, I said shower. Nothing more.” Fergus says as he turns and makes his way out of my bedroom to go to the family bathroom.

 

We showered together, and that’s all it was. A shower. One of the quickest showers I’ve ever had to be honest. I wish we could of stayed like that longer, but Fergus insisted we had to hurry.

It was the first time I had ever seen Fergus naked. First time I’ve ever seen any man naked. He is so gorgeous and fit. He keeps himself in really good shape. I could barely take my eyes off of him. I caught Fergus looking me over a few times as well. I was a little nervous about him seeing me like that. I’ve never felt so exposed before, but Fergus made me feel so comfortable. It was good.

 

When I finish blow drying my hair and start packing everything I need in my handbag, Fergus comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my waist. I lean back in to his chest and wrap my arms over his.

“You looked so beautiful by the way. In the shower. I mean, you always look beautiful, but I just wanted you to know how beautiful you are. You’re the most beautiful woman I have ever seen Marsali.”

I turn in his arms to face him, “Aye right. Anyway, you are the most handsome naked man I have ever seen.”

“I was hoping I was the only naked man you have ever seen?!” Fergus explains.

“Well, obviously, but still... thought I should tell ye anyway. Anyway, how many naked women have ye seen exactly?”

“Marsali—“

“What? I’m just curious. I ken that yer older than me and have certain experiences that I haven’t, I was just wondering...”

“I didn’t have sex until I was twenty one. And that was a mistake. It was a one time thing and I regretted it almost instantly. I was in a relationship a few years ago with a girl. We were together almost a year, but apart from that... no one. I’m not the kind of guy who just goes around dipping his cock in whatever woman wants it you know.”

“I ken. I just thought that a handsome and sweet guy like you would of had a queue of lassies forming up. It just surprises me a little that you’ve been single for so long.” I say as I wrap my arms up around his neck.

Fergus pulls me closer and whispers in my ear. “I was waiting for the right woman. I don’t want to rush this Marsali, I really like you and really care about you and I don’t want to ruin anything between us. I think it’s important that we explore this, but I also think it’s important we don’t just jump in to bed. As much as I would love to make love to you, I need to make sure we are both comfortable and happy to move forward to that stage. Is that okay? Do you understand what I’m trying to say, because I feel like everything is mixed up in my head right now. I can’t think straight when you’re around me.”

“I understand. It makes me like ye all the more if I’m honest. Ye really do care about me, and ye really respect me. That’s why I want ye to be my first Fergus Beauchamp, my only, but like you say, we don’t need to rush it.”

Fergus leans down and kisses my mouth. It’s nice, slow, gentle, and just perfect. He’s just such a gentle and caring guy.

 

 

On the way to Aunt Jenny’s, we stop in at a little deli around the corner. It does sit in and take away. I thought we were going to sit in, but when we ordered our pancakes, the guy asked if we were sitting in or taking away, Fergus says take away. For a little while I start to panic, thinking maybe Fergus is ashamed of me or something. It isn’t until we got back to the car with our pancakes and coffees that Fergus explains he doesn’t want to sit in there and not be able to hold my hand or kiss me. I guess I didn’t really think about that. We all visit this deli regularly, Fergus, Da, Joanie and me. Everyone kens that Fergus and Da are pals. Of course it would set the gossips in motion if they saw Fergus and I sat there all cosy eating breakfast together holding hands or just even looking in to each other’s eyes, they would be able to see something was going on. No, Fergus was right.

Fergus drives us round to a park close by and we sit in the car park and begin to eat our breakfast. We don’t speak much, but we don’t need to communicate with words. We just click and we get each other.

The pancakes are beautiful, and surprisingly still warm. I opted for blueberries with my pancakes, whilst Fergus decided on golden syrup. I’m all for adding something nice and sweet at breakfast time, but the amount of syrup Fergus requests on his pancakes is insane. It’s unhealthy. I ken he goes to the deli at least four mornings a week for breakfast. Is this what he orders every time? How does he keep in such good shape?

I was a little surprised when Fergus ordered my coffee, a caramel latte. It’s only now that I realise that we’ve had coffee dates a lot over the past couple of years, especially this past month or so. I honestly didn’t expect him to remember my coffee order though, but he did. This is just another sign that he cares about me. That he takes the time to learn all the little things about me. It’s sweet. I mean, I know he takes his coffee strong and black, but of course I know that, I’ve practically been obsessed with Fergus since the first time I met him. I wonder if he realises how much he knows about me without even having to think about it?

“You okay over there? I can hear your brain working overtime from here.” Fergus smiles at me.

“I was just thinking how nice it was that you knew my coffee order.”

“We’ve known each other a long time. Of course I know. I know a lot about you.” He tells me.

“Oh yeah? Like what?” I’m really interested to know.

“Alright, you tell people your favourite colour is purple, your favourite breakfast is french toast. You like your caramel latte in the morning, but you drink strong sweet tea with a tiny dash of milk during the day. You don’t like the taste of water, so you add fruit to your water bottle. You hate romance films, so we just wasted two hours last night. You like to sew things yourself. Not just clothes, but I know that you have single handedly made the curtains in my bedroom and you made the cushion covers for the living room. They’re really impressive by the way.” I can’t help but smile. How did he know that I made the curtains and cushion covers myself? Da doesn’t even ken I like sewing. “You’re very talented Marsali, and only you don’t see how creative you truly are. I meant it when I said I believe you can do whatever you want to do, whether that be writing, art, designing. When you decide what it is you want to do, you know I will be here to support you.”

I can’t help the smile on my face getting bigger and bigger. I lean over to plant a quick kiss on Fergus’ cheek, but he turns his face and I manage to catch his mouth. “Thank you.” I tell him.

I don’t think Da or Joanie know half of what Fergus seems to ken about me. And they live with me.

 

When we pull up to Aunt Jenny’s, Fergus is reluctant to come in. It isn’t until Da comes out to the car and invites him in that Fergus nods and accepts the invitation.

As the three of us make our way inside, I am embarrassed at how chaotic the place is. My older cousin Jamie is here with two of his kids who are running around the place screaming and yelling like young kids do. Maggie is sat in the living room with the volume turned away up on the tv. Worst part is, she isn’t even watching it, her head is in her phone. My younger cousins Kitty and Ian are in the dining room throwing cereal at each other. The only person who seems to be trying to help da is Joanie.

“RIGHT! I said enough!” Da shouts from the hallway, making everyone in the house freeze. Kitty and Ian come through to the hallway and Maggie switches the tv off. Jamie’s kids come skidding in to the hallway to and stand in front of da. “Yer ma and da will be home in a short while. Can he’s please just tidy away yer mess and get dressed before they get here. Ye won’t have much time before heading to school.”

“I’m taken the day aff Uncle Jamie. I’m sure Mam won’t mind and want me hame to help.” Maggie says.

“No lass, yer goin’ to school. Fergus will take ye, he’s taken Marsali and Joanie anyway. That alright Fergus.”

Fergus nods. What could he possibly say?

Whilst the Murrays get themselves ready, Fergus and I join Joanie and Da in the kitchen for a drink. They fill us in on what little they ken about Aunt Jenny and tell us about the nightmare of a night they had with the Murray kids no settling. I mean, fair enough, I ken how horrible and stressful it was when my ma was in and out of hospital. I hated it. No being able to help her or heal her. I just wanted to be close to her too. Da had text Young Jamie this morning and asked him to come round and help, but he didn’t expect him to show up with two of his kids as well.

Time is getting on and if we wait any longer, we’ll be late for school. Da suggests calling the school to say we will be late due to a family emergency, but I tell him that maybe Fergus should take Joanie and I on his way to work, and Da could drop of the Murray kids after they’ve seen Aunt Jenny.

Just as Da calls the school, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Ian come through the back door. Aunt Jenny looks awful. She’s so pale. Paler than usual. Her eyes look sunken in. She sits down at the kitchen table straight away complaining of feeling dizzy again. Fergus, Joanie and I welcome her home and wish her well before moving in to the living room to let them speak to Da and then giving the Murray kids time with their parents.

Da comes through after about ten minutes and says that he informed the school that Maggie, Joanie and I would be in after first period. Apparently the school understood. I don't though. Why do I have to miss out on English because Maggie wants to see her mam? I mean, that maybe sounds heartless, but English is one of the few subjects I like and take seriously. And what am I missing it for exactly? To sit in Aunt Jenny’s living room in silence with da, Joanie and Fergus? Seems like a waste to me.

“Da, can Fergus no just take Joanie and me now? I mean, Fergus is gonna be late for work too.”

“It’s fine Marsali. I ken his boss.” Da chuckles at his own lame joke.

Great.

Young Jamie pops his head in to the living room to say that’s him away and he’s going to take Kitty and wee Ian to school. Could he no take Maggie with him tae? Apparently no.

No long after they all leave, Aunt Jenny and Uncle Ian come in to sit in the living room. We’re still waiting on Maggie to get ready apparently. Ugh. I swear she’s just trying to wind me up!

Aunt Jenny comes to sit down next to me on the couch. At the other side of me is Fergus. Great. She’s gonna turn this in to a conversation no one wants.

“Well, it’s nice to see ye again Fergus.” Jenny says to Fergus, making the entire room uncomfortable.

“You too Mrs Murray. I’m glad you’re feeling a little better.” Fergus replies trying to stay polite.

I can tell he feels awkward though. Jenny never did agree to Fergus’ mam taking him down to London. I don’t think Fergus’ mum kept in contact with Jenny either. I don’t ken what happened back then, but it’s clear Jenny doesn’t agree with it, and she certainly doesn’t like the fact Da and Fergus are more like pals than father and son. It’s a relationship that works between them. It’s none of her damn business if you ask me.

“Mrs Murray?” She scoffs. “Tsk. So, no only is Jamie no yer da, I’m no longer yer aunt?”

“JANET! Enough!” Da scolds her.

“Sorry, what do ye mean no longer his aunt?”

Oh great. Maggie certainly kens how to pick her moments to walk in to a room.

“Oh sorry love, did yer Uncle Jamie no introduce ye to Fergus properly?” Jenny asks her daughter.

“Janet, leave it. I swear to go, just leave it.” Da tells Jenny.

Jenny just turns back to Maggie, “Fergus is yer big cousin. He’s yer Uncle Jamie’s son. He’s been living with hi Ma down in England somewhere for the past twenty years. Good news is he’s back now though. Right where he belongs, wi his family.”

Da doesn’t respond or give Maggie a chance to either. He stands up and tells Fergus to take me and Joanie on to school. He doesn’t say anything about Maggie though, I think he kens she can be just as nosey and judgmental as her mother.

 

It’s a quiet ride to school. None of us ken what to say. For as long as I’ve kent Fergus, he’s always been my da’s pal. I’ve never kent him as any different. Maybe I should try speaking to Fergus about the whole Da and his Mam later? It something I ken he doesn’t like to talk about, but O do have some questions. Especially if Aunt Jenny is gonna be spouting her mouth off like that all the time.

When we get to the school, Joanie thanks Fergus for the lift and jumps out of the back seat to run to her class as quickly as possible.

I turn to face Fergus, “I’m sorry about Jenny.”

He lets out a huge breath. It’s like he’s been holding it in since we left the Murray’s. “It isn’t your fault. It isn’t Jamie’s either. To be honest, I was kind of expecting something. Jenny sure hasn’t changed in the last twenty years.”

“When I see ye after work, can we talk about some stuff? I ken this subject is uncomfortable for ye, but I do have some questions, and if you and I are gonna keep seeing each other, I would like to ken more about... things.”

“I was thinking the same. I promise to tell you everything, but I can’t tell you things I don’t know myself. There is a lot of things about my past that even I don’t know. It isn’t something I really wanted to talk about with Mum. Maybe I should though? It might be weird, but maybe I should speak to Jamie too?”

I nod my head and reach over to take his hand in mine. “Thank you for the lift. And thank you for last night. Have a good day at work, and I’ll see you when you get hame, aye?”

“I can’t wait. Are you sure it’s alright for you to go to mine after school? It’s just I couldn’t find another delivery slot for the mattress and...”

“It’s fine. I would of found an excuse to come over anyway.” I give him a wink and a quick kiss on the cheek. “I’ll see ye later then.”

“See you later.” He tells me before I jump out of the car.

On my way in to the school, I check my watch and realise I’ve already missed English. My next lesson is P.E. That can definitely wait. It’s only ceilidh dancing anyway. I’ve been doing that since I was like five.

Instead of heading over to the P.E department, I make my way up to English to see what I missed in today’s class and see if I can take some work home with me to catch up. It would also give ,e something to keep me occupied whilst I wait for Fergus to finish work.

 

On my way over to the main gym hall, Maggie appears and decides to walk with me.

“So, turns out mam’s pregnant again. That’s why she fainted. Can ye believe it? It should be illegal for folk her age to be doing that kinda thing. Especially when she has grand weans.” Maggie starts filling me in on what Da didna ken.

“Congratulations. She and her da must be happy.”

“Hmmm. They are. Seriously though, it’s gross.”

“I think it’s lovely that after all these years and after so many kids and grandkids, your parents still love each other. No many people have a stable family like you Maggie. No everybody will have their mother there when they get married or have kids. Stop moaning and just be happy for her, alright?” I tell her before walking on ahead.

As I approach the door to the gym hall, the door opens and Stephen and his friend Colin come out. Great. This is all I need.

“So. Who was that lad that dropped ye off then? I couldn’t get a decent look, but he definitely wasn’t your dad.” Stephen asks me.

Before I get a chance to answer, Maggie comes up beside me. “That’s Fergus. My big cousin. He’s Marsali’s older brother.”

What the fuck?!

I turn to give Maggie a look to make her shut up, but she doesn’t seem to care that she actually doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about.

I turn back to Stephen. “His name is Fergus, he’s my da’s pal. He isn’t her cousin and he certainly isn’t my brother.” I cross my arms across my chest and walk past Stephen and Colin and make my way in to the hall.

As if mine and Fergus’ relationship wasn’t complicated enough, the last thing we need is the Murray’s making out that we’re one big happy family when that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

I arrive to work a bit later than usual. The rest of the staff are quite shocked considering I am usually a stickler for being on time. Luckily the story I’m working on doesn’t need to be handed in to Jamie until Friday. I’m almost finished anyway. I just need to try and get hold of someone reliable enough for a decent quote or two.

“No like you to be running late pal. Guid job the boss is no runnin’ on time either the day.” One of the lads shouts over from doorway in to the kitchen.

I just ignore him and continue to my office.

 

One of the reasons I was kind of reluctant to accept Jamie’s job offer, was worrying over maybe bumping in to Ian or Jenny Murray. It’s no secret that Jenny likes to baby her younger brother, and I was sure that I would probably bump in to her here at the office sometimes. When I first came on board, some of the lads told me that Jenny usually came in once a week to stick her nose in. She doesn’t know much about journalism or how to run a paper, but she likes to boss the staff around like they work for her none the less. Apparently it annoys Jamie to no end. I’m not surprised to be honest.

I always remember Jenny being one of them busy bodies. Always has her nose stuck in to other people’s business. Turning her nose up at some people. I have to say, I didn’t really take to her when I was a lad. Every time we went to visit her, she would have me do chores around her house. My mother and Jamie did encourage me to be helpful, so I didn’t mind to begin with. I was always happy to lend a hand, but when it was happening every single time, I started to resent her. I know my mother pulled her up on it a few times, but Jenny never bothered.

Apparently my mother and Jenny used to be quite close for a time. Jenny didn’t approve of my mother when Jamie first took her home, but eventually she warmed to my mother and they became the best of friends.

When my mother and Jamie brought me to visit her for the first time after I was adopted, Jenny didn’t know what to make of me. She barely acknowledged the fact I was there. It took her quite some time to warm up to me. I don’t think she approved of them adopting me. I don’t think I was in her plans for her brother.

When Jamie went to prison, my mother didn’t want to lose Jenny. She didn’t see the need to put Jenny in the middle of whatever was going on. My mother tried to maintain a relationship with Jenny, but Jenny had other ideas. Jenny had made it very clear that if my mother was happy to walk away from Jamie, she was walking away with the whole family.

I remember coming home from school one day and Jenny had come over to see Mum. They were in the kitchen arguing. I went and put my school bag in my room and came back to stand in the hallway to hear what was being said. Apparently Jenny thought that my mother wasn’t fit to take care of me and wanted me to go and live with her and Ian. When I heard that, I ran in to the kitchen and pleaded with my mum not to leave me. Jamie had already left me and was in prison, but I didn’t know why. I didn’t want the only mother I knew to leave me too.

My mother gathered me in to her arms and told me that there was no way she would ever leave me.

It wasn’t long after that, that my mother started looking in to us moving away. It didn’t happen straight away as my mother wanted to make sure she was doing the right thing for me and not just herself.

When she told Jenny about our plans to move to London, Jenny went off on one and started threatening to take my mother to court to get custody of me as there was no way Jamie would want me to be separated from his family.

It was two days later when my mother and I boarded a flight down to London to begin our new life without Jamie and his family. My mum made sure that she passed on our new details to Jenny and when I wrote my next letter to Jamie, she had me enclose our new address and home telephone number. Jamie had told me in a letter that he understood why my mother took me away. He said it was for the best and he hoped that we would be happy down in London. The only person in the world that had a problem was Jenny Murray.

It’s a s simple as this... the woman is a complete control freak.

I have enjoyed the past twenty years without her interfering. If she thinks that now I’m back in Scotland that we can just go back to being some kind of dysfunctional loving family, she’s wrong.

Yes, Jamie was married to my Mum and they adopted me together. They were my parents. Jamie was my da. He was a good one too. I loved him more than anything, but Jamie hasn’t been a father to me for twenty one years. Not properly any way. We lost contact for longer than he was a father to me.

Yes, we reconnected and built a new relationship, but Jamie isn’t my dad. He’s a wonderful guy, and I’m blessed to have him in my life, but he’s my best friend. He can’t be a father to me and I can’t be a son to him. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

As the end of my working day approaches, I start packing up my things and shoot a text off to Marsali saying I will be home soon and offer to pick us up some pasta from the Italian takeaway down the road.

I didn’t expect to look up and see Jamie stood behind my closed door. There is a small narrow window on my door and I can just make him out. He looks as if he’s hesitant to knock or come in.

I walk over to the door and pull it open, “You going to stand about there all day, or are you going to come in?” I say to him with a cheeky grin. He looks stressed.

“Sorry, I just wanted to apologise for Jenny this mornin’. She had nae right openin’ he big gob like that and sayin’ what she did to Maggie.”

“It’s fine mate. A lot of people don’t understand our relationship, and that’s fine. What’s important is it works for us.”

“Aye.”

Jamie’s looking down at the floor and shifting from one foot to the other. There’s more on his mind.

“Come on.” I say as I grab my coat and lock my office door behind me. “I said I would pick up some pasta for dinner to thank Marsali for helping with the house. You should join us too. When she’s off doing whatever it is she does on her laptop with that design app thing, you and I should talk properly. I know we have talked, but there is still so much about the past that I don’t know. I was a kid and I know you and mum wanted to protect me. I could of asked questions when I was older, and I’m sure if I googled you, I could of found out why you went to prison, but the truth is, I didn’t care. I had a good life with Mum down in London. I have a pretty good life here now too, but I do think the time has come where I need to know exactly what happened.”

Jamie doesn’t say anything, but he nods. I don’t want to just turn up at home with Jamie in tow and not warm Marsali. I really wanted to spend a couple of hours with her on our own, but this conversation with Jamie is really important.

“Can you call Marsali and tell her that you’re coming over for dinner and ask her to set the table for three please?” I know she’ll be disappointed, but I know she will understand.

Joanie is having a sleepover at her friends tonight as they are working on a project for their science class together. If Joanie had of been with us, it would of made things a lot more complicated.

 

Dinner was a little quiet tonight. Most of the conversation was between Marsali and I. We tried to engage with Jamie too, but he was just so far in to his own little world, he didn’t seem to notice anything or anyone around him.

After dinner, Marsali went upstairs to do whatever it is she does on that design programme of hers. That leaves Jamie and I in the dining room with a cold bottle of beer.

“I don’t need ALL the details tonight, but can we start with why you went to prison?”

Jamie looks at me for what feels like the first time since we came home.

“I’m sorry... I canna...”

Jamie just gets up and leaves his bottle sat on the coffee table and leaves.

 

It isn’t until Marsali comes down a little while later and I realise why Jamie was so out of sorts. Behind where Marsali and I were sat at the dining table, is a big canvas photo of Mum and I cooking in our kitchen in London. I must of been about fifteen/sixteen at the time. It was Mum’s friend Joe who had took the photo one night he and his wife Gale were over for dinner. It’s one of my favourites of mum and I together. I really wanted to hang it somewhere and Marsali had surprised me the other day by having it printed on to a canvas and hanging it in the dining room.

“Where’s da?” Marsali asks as she sits down beside me.

“He just got up and left. I didn’t think, but maybe he isn’t ready to talk about any of this.”

Marsali gets up of her seat and moves to sit on my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck and kissing me on my forehead.

We just sit there for a while and then I realise that I came home in Jamie’s car tonight. He’s already left and judging by his mood, I don’t think he would be in a hurry to come back and collect Marsali.

“I’ll come with you I’m the taxi to drop you off.” I tell her as I order her a taxi on the app.

“You don’t have to Fergus, I’m a big girl.”

“I know you are, but I would just feel better if I was with you, okay?” She kisses me on the mouth and I know that she’s happy we’ll get a few more minutes together. Even if it is in a taxi.

 

When the taxi pulls up to her house, I give her hand a gentle squeeze since I can’t kiss her. I tell her that I will text her later and she should keep an eye on Jamie tonight. She squeezes my thigh before reluctantly jumping out of the taxi and running into the house. She waves me goodbye from the front door as the taxi driver starts to pull away.

 

The next morning when I’m getting ready to order a taxi to take me to work, Marsali walks in to the house and tells me that she will be here again after school to see how the decorators are getting on and she will see me when I get home from work. She also tells me that Jamie is waiting outside and he’s offered to take me to work today since my car is at the office still.

 

The ride to Marsali’s school is quite good. Lots of conversation between the three of us and a bit of banter going on too. It’s good. When we drop Marsali off though, things go back to being strange.

“You’re not over my mum are you? You still love her?” I ask Jamie.

“Aye. Your mother had her reasons for taking you away down to London, and I agree it was for the best. But no. I couldna get over her. She’s the love of my life. Always has been, always will be. For so long I only had the memory of her in my head. But, being in your home, seeing some of the things you have around the place that belonged to her so long ago, or pictures of her on her walls. It’s good. It’s nice. It feels like home to me Fergus, but it isna. It’s your house with your memories. I do want to talk to you about everything, ye deserve to ken everything that happened. I just, maybe I could speak to yer mam first?”

“I don’t think she would go for that. It would be a lot easier if the three of us could just sit down together and have a good open conversation, but even though I don’t know what exactly happened, I do know that it broke my mothers heart and even though so much time has passed, I didn’t think he heart has ever properly healed. I wouldn't want to do anything to risk her being that upset of heartbroken again.”

“I can understand that. Truly. Yer right. I dinna want to cause yer mother any more pain than I already have.” I just give Jamie a small smile and pat his shoulder. “I need ye to ken something though Fergus, I never stopped lovin’ you either Fergus. I ken I did a shitty thing by stopping contact with ye, but I just thought it was best for ye and yer mam to move on. The best day of my life was the day Claire and I brought ye hame to Scotland.”

I don’t know what to say to him now, so the rest of the journey to work is in silence. It’s a comfortable silence though. I believe he will answer my questions when he’s ready. Maybe I should call mum tonight and see what answers she can give me?

 

As we pull up to the office, some of the lads are stood around my car. When I get out of Jamie’s car and walk over to ask what’s going on, I see that one of my rear tyres is flat.

Great. This is all I need.

Jamie wastes no time in calling his friend Rupert to come and take my car back to my place. One of Jamie’s talents is tinkering with cars, so he offers to change the tyre for me after work. Saves me a job and saves me having to pay someone else to do it.

 

During lunch I send a few texts back and fourth with Marsali. I tell her that Jamie will be bringing me home again tonight since I can’t use my own car yet. But, I tell her that he won’t be coming in as he has something he has to do at home after work, so when the decorators leave, we will have the place to ourselves to curl up on the sofa together and just be us for a little while. Jamie said he would try and pop over about eight tonight to change the tyre.

I wish Marsali could stay the night, or we had more than just some stolen moments together, but I suppose this is our reality until I know I can sit down with Jamie and discuss with him properly how much I care about Marsali and how much we want to be together. He told me just this morning how my mother was and still is the love of his life well, that’s what Marsali is for me. I can’t imagine my future without her in it. I want to marry this woman. I want to start a family with her. Buy a nice house out in the country so our children have plenty of space to run around and enjoy being children. I want to grow old with her. I want to die peacefully with her at my side holding my hand. I want to be her first and I want her to be my last. This woman completes me. There is no one who could ever come close.

I love her.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

“So what time is yer flight then?” Geillis ask me as we walk out of the hospital after our night shifts.

“Not until four. That gives me time to get home and sleep for a few hours, thank god.” I say

“And Fergus doesna ken yer gan to visit a few days early?”

“No. I wanted to surprise him. He’s seemed a little... distracted the past couple of weeks when we’ve been on the phone. I thought it would be nice to surprise him. I know he has to work, but it means I can spend the evenings with him and spend my days exploring Glasgow.” I smile. I can’t contain how excited I am to see my son again. Speaking in the phone and face time and texting just isn’t the same as being properly face to face where I can hug my boy.

“I actually canny believe that ye lived in Scotland and ye’ve never set foot in Glasgow! I mean, I ken Edinburgh is the capital, but Glesga is definitely the more popular city.” Geillis explains with a hint of disappointment in me in her voice.

“I lived in Inverness Geillis. Glasgow wasn’t exactly just around the corner you know.”

“I ken that Claire. But, I also ken it’s no exactly a million miles away either. God.” She rolls her eyes at me.

“Well, at least I’ll see it soon.”

“Hmmm. Have fun. And tell wee Fergus I’m askin’ for um aye?”

“I will. Thanks Geillis. I’ll see you when I get back.”

“See ye then doll.”

 

 

The flight to Glasgow doesn’t take long at all. I feel like I was in the air no time at all. I kind of regret flying over catching the train now to be honest. I decided to surprise Fergus, but now that I’m here, I’m not sure if it was a good idea or not. Not the surprising Fergus part, I’m sure he will be just as excited to see me as I am to see him, but I’m nervous at the fact I’m aback in Scotland. Not only that, nervous that my ex husband apparently lives in the same area as my son. Fergus hasn’t said much about Jamie, and I haven’t asked, but now I find myself worrying. How close does Jamie live to Fergus? Is there a chance that I’ll bump in to him in the street? How would I cope after all these years seeing Jamie again?

I need to stop over thinking things. I need to go somewhere and have a coffee and try and calm down.

 

When my taxi pulls up outside Fergus’ house, I am pleasantly surprised. There is a small garden in the front with a couple of rose bushes. Fergus isn’t exactly the gardener type, so I am a little surprised he has a garden. I’m sure with a bit more colour, it could be a lovely little garden. I can’t see my son doing much with the space though.

The taxi driver helps me bring my bags over to Fergus’ front door. I thank him very much and pay my fare and give the driver a tip.

I knock softly on the door, but it’s taking a while for him to answer. His car is parked in the drive and I can hear people moving around.

The door finally opens and it’s a young woman with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes standing there.

“Hiya. Can I help ye?” She asks with a lovely warm smile on her face.

Is this Fergus’ new girlfriend I wonder? It could explain why he’s been a bit distracted lately I suppose. But wouldn’t he tell me if he was seeing someone?

“Hello, my name is Claire. I’m Fergus’ mum. Is he about?”

“Oh, Ms Beauchamp. It’s so nice to meet ye.” She puts her hand out for me to shake. “I’m Marsali, a friend of Fergus’. I’m helping with the house. Fergus has been held up with work, but he should be home soon. I’m just here whilst the decorators are here to do the master bedroom and the home office. Sorry, come on in.”

“Thank you. It’s nice to meet you Marsali.”

“Aye, you too. I didna ken ye were coming so soon? I thought Fergus said you wouldn’t be here for another few days.”

“Ah, yes. I thought I would come a little earlier to surprise him. I’ve really missed him since he left.” I say as I follow Marsali in to the kitchen.

“He’s really missed you too. I think it’s lovely how close you two are.” Marsali makes her way over to boil the kettle. “Can I get ye a tea or coffee or anything? Like I say, Fergus shouldn’t be too long.”

“No, I’m okay thank you. Um, how is Fergus getting home? I see his car is in the drive.”

“Oh, um... he got a lift to work this morning with a friend of his. He’ll probably bring Fergus home too.”

“Ah, I see.”

“Jamie won’t come in though, he’ll just drop Fergus off and be on his own way home.”

“Jamie?” I ask wondering how this girl seems to know how uncomfortable I feel at the thought of Jamie coming by.

“He will probably bring Fergus home.”

“Right. Are you sure Fergus won’t bring his friend inside? I don’t want to be in the way.” I say, not really knowing what to say to be honest.

Something tells me this girl knows more about Jamie and Fergus than anyone normally would. Has Fergus told her that Jamie is his father? Do Fergus and Jamie have a father/son relationship now that Fergus is now in Glasgow?

I really need to stop overthinking everything.

“Ms Beauchamp, I can say for sure that Jamie won’t come inside.” She smiles at me.

 

She was right. Not long after, Fergus comes through the front door without Jamie. Thank god.

“Mum?! What are you doing here?” Fergus asks in shock as he hurries over to pull me off my chair and give me a big hug.

“Hello my darling. I wanted to surprise you. Is that alright? If it’s inconvenient, I can stay at a hotel and fly back to London tomorrow.”

“No. Don’t be ridiculous. I’m so happy you’re here. I’ve missed you so much Mum.”

“I’ve missed you too sweetheart. More than you know.”

Fergus finally lets go of me and we sit down at his kitchen table. Marsali says she will see me around and says goodbye. Fergus gets up and walks her to the door. They seem to be chatting, but I can’t quite hear what they’re saying. Not that I want to know, it’s none of my business anyway. I just hope I haven’t interrupted any plans they may of had. The few minutes I spent with Marsali, I’m sure she and Fergus are more than just friends. She seems like a really sweet girl though. And if she’s the one who is responsible for the style of decor in Fergus’ house, she certainly has an eye for design. The house is beautiful. Well, what I’ve seen anyway. It’s all nice and natural. Light and airy with pops of colour here and there, but not too colourful, mainly accessories to show the colour. It really suits Fergus.

When Fergus comes back through to the kitchen, a couple of young men appear behind him. I’m guessing they are the decorators that Marsali was talking about.

“Thank you so much guys. I’ll see you both tomorrow. If I’m not here, Marsali will be here when she finishes school.” Fergus explains to the gentlemen.

They give him a nod and turn to smile at me before leaving Fergus and I on our own in the kitchen.

Fergus comes to sit down next to me at the table with a big smile on his face.

“It’s so good to see you mum.”

“It’s good to see you too darling. I just hope I haven’t disturbed you too much?”

“Of course not. Were you here long before I got home? I got held up at the office tonight during a meeting.”

“I got here only about ten or fifteen minutes before you. Marsali seems nice. Are you two seeing each other? She seems quite taken with you.”

“Oh that’s good. Yeah, she’s really nice. Been a great help with this place. We um... yes, we are seeing each other. It’s early days though, like really early days. We haven’t told anyone yet and we would prefer to keep it that way.”

“I won’t say anything. I don't know anyone anyway.” I laugh as Fergus smiles at me. “Is that because she’s still in school? You told the men that Marsali would be here after school. I knew she was younger, but...”

“She is eighteen. We have... well, we’ve known each other a while actually. Neither of us expected this to happen, but it has. I really like her mum. I care about her so much and she feels the same. I know she’s a fair bit younger than me, but it just feels right, you know?”

“Yes. Yes, I know. I’m very glad you’re happy sweetheart, just please promise you will take good care of her.”

“I intend to. I don’t plan on hurting her. Not on purpose. I can’t imagine doing anything to hurt her or let her down.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

It’s a little after seven and neither Fergus or I have eaten. I’m starting to feel a little hungry. “What do you fancy for dinner then? I could cook us something.” I say to Fergus as I follow him with my bags up to his guest room.

“We should just go out. I wasn’t expecting you for another couple of days so I don’t have much shopping in. I was just going to order in.”

“Well, ordering in sounds wonderful.” I say hoping that he will agree. I don’t really like the idea of going out to dinner in the area where my ex husband lives.

“Come on, I could get us a table at this wonderful little bistro around the corner. It does the most beautiful carbonara. You would love it.”

“That sounds really nice darling, but I just came of a night shift his morning and then flying up here today, I’m just a little tired. Can we stay in? When you’re at work tomorrow, I’ll go and get some shopping and make you a special dinner for when you get home. Marsali can join us as well if she likes?”

“Yeah, that sounds good Mum. Thanks.”

 

We decide on just ordering some pizzas and some chips. It’s been years since I had pizza and chips. It was delicious though.

We used to eat pizzas all the time when Fergus was a child, but when he hit his teenage years, I decided that I should introduce him to more healthy foods and try and cook at home more. It wasn’t easy with me being in med school and then working insane hours at the hospital, that’s why we ate out often or ordered in.

Fergus became quite the chef in his teenage years, and he absolutely loved it. It was wonderful coming home from a long hard day at work and Fergus would have cooked some delicious dish for our dinner. It made me so proud that my son was willing to do this. He wanted to do this. Not many teenagers would. It made me sad sometimes when I realised that my teenage son was preparing meals for us more than I was. I’m the mother, it’s up to me to feed my child. I made sure that when it was my days off from the hospital, I would cook dinner for us. Sometimes Fergus and I would do it together and that was one of my favourite things in the world. Especially when we didn’t follow a recipe, we just threw things together and hoped for the best.

Sitting in Fergus’ living room tonight eating pizza and chips was just so wonderful. I couldn’t help but think back to when he was a child. Now though, he’s all grown up and living four hundred miles away from me. I know he chose to take this job because it was an amazing opportunity for his career, but I’ve really missed him since he left. For the past twenty years, my son has been my life. And my job. I have nothing else in the world, and I don’t mind that. All I need is Fergus. It’s just unfortunate that he’s thirty years old now and has a life of his own. He doesn’t need me anymore. Not like I need him.

 

Not long after we finish dinner, Fergus’ phone rings. I can tell by the way he looks at the screen and then looks at me, that it must be Jamie.

“Sorry Mum. I have to take this.”

“It’s fine sweetheart.” I tell him.

When Fergus ups and leaves the room, I am certain my suspicion was correct. If it wasn’t Jamie on the line, Fergus would have just answered his call in front of me.

It brings back memories from when he was a young lad and Jamie would send him letters. Fergus would always read them and answer them in his room. I know it was to protect me and to not upset me, and at the time, I was grateful. But, now I realise what a huge burden that must of been on my son. Does he feel split between his loyalty to me and his friendship with Jamie? Does Fergus feel like a child stuck in the middle? That is the last thing I ever wanted for my son, but there was no way Jamie and I would of been able to maintain an amicable relationship.

Maybe we should of at least tried though. For Fergus’ sake. If we did, would Fergus of lost all the, years with his father? Would he of had a better childhood?

Oh god.

Does my son resent me for taking him away from his family? Is that why he accepted Jamie’s job offer and returned to Scotland?

Stop overthinking Beauchamp.

Fergus had a wonderful upbringing. You raised him alone. He is the man he is today because of you. James Fraser can’t say the same.

 

Fergus comes back through and decides to make us both a cup of tea. He doesn’t say anything, but he looks a lot more relaxed now. I wonder what Jamie wanted?

 

“How is he?” I ask.

“How is who?” Fergus asks me confused. I suppose I’ve never really spoke to Fergus all that much about Jamie over the years.

“Jamie. That was him on the phone, right?”

“How did you know?”

“The way you looked at the screen before glancing at me. Then you left the room to take the call. Sweetheart, I know you and Jamie are friends. You don’t need to sneak around.”

“Okay. It was Jamie. I have a flat tyre and he was going to come over tonight and change it for me. I completely forgot until he rang me. He’s held up with some work at home though so he won’t be coming by. He doesn’t know you’re here. I didn’t even tell him you were planning a visit at all.”

“I see. And why didn’t he change the tyre when he dropped you off earlier? Isn’t now a bit late anyway?”

“How did you know he dropped me off? He had work to do at home and, you know Jamie.”

“Indeed I do. Well, I did. Twenty one years is a long time. He’s probably changed a lot. I know I certainly have. Any way, Marsali said a friend was dropping you home. I know Jamie lives in the area, so I just assumed it would be him. Does Marsali know about Jamie being your father? She was trying to reassure me that Jamie wouldn’t come in earlier. I just wondered how she would suspect I needed reassurance.”

Fergus finishes ,asking our tea once the kettle is boiled and he brings our mugs over to the table.

“Um, yes. Marsali knows that Jamie is your ex husband and you and he adopted me. She is also aware that Jamie and I haven’t had a father/son relationship in years. She knows that we’re good friends though. She gets it. She’s one of the few people in the world who knows the situation and understands. I’m sure she just didn’t want you to worry or panic.”

“Well, it was sweet of her. I must admit though sweetheart, I know you and Jamie have this... friendship, and I am so glad that you have been able to form some kind of relationship with him. I just... I don’t think I’m ready to see him or speak with him just yet, so if you wouldn’t mind not telling him I’m here, I would really appreciate it. I don’t want to make things awkward for you sweetheart—“

“It’s alright Mum. Jamie rarely comes over unless I ask him to. I don’t plan on inviting him over for dinner whilst you’re here though. I know you’re not ready to see him. I get it.”

“Thank you darling. There is something else you want to talk about though. I can see it in your eyes.”

“If you don’t want to talk about it, I completely understand, but I was wondering if you could tell me what actually happened. All I know is I came home from school one day and Jamie said he was moving to Jenny’s. A couple of days later, he came by the house and you were crying and he told me there was a chance he was going to prison. He told me it was a mistake and he didn’t do what they said, but neither of you told me what happened. You told me that even when he got out of jail, we wouldn’t be the same family anymore. You and Jamie were splitting up. Then there were the arguments between you and Jenny when Jamie was inside and then we moved to London. I’ve went the last twenty one years without asking anything, but now I feel like I need to know what happened. It’s a huge part of my past Mum, and I don’t even know what happened. You and Jamie were so in love. I’d never seen a love like it. I don’t understand why you got divorced? It must of been something big for you not to wait for him to be released from prison. But, if it was that bad mum, you wouldn’t of allowed me to send him letters. You wouldn’t of encouraged us to write to each other.”

“You’re right my darling. You need to know exactly what happened. And I will gladly tell you everything, but not tonight alright? It’s been a long few days and I want to organise my thoughts properly before we have this conversation. Is that alright?”

“That’s fine mum. There’s no hurry. I just want to know.”

“I know my darling. Tell you what, I’ll go shopping tomorrow when you’re at work and I will cook something special for you and Marsali. I can’t wait to get to know her more.”

“Sounds great mum. Just remember though, it’s early days.”

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

Wow. Was not expecting Fergus’ Mam to turn up the day.

She’s so freakin’ beautiful. Well, I have seen some of Fergus’ pictures of her around the house, but they really don’t do her justice.

She’s a wee bit shorter than I am. Beautiful dark brown curly hair. I would literally kill for curls like that. I have a natural wave in my hair, but it borders on annoying more than being able to do anything nice with it. Her eyes as well. Wow. I’ve never seen anyone with eyes that shade of brown before. Beautiful flecks of golden shining through whenever we spoke about Fergus.

I can tell how Da fell for her. She’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s a woman in her forties and she has the clearest looking skin I have ever seen in my life. I have no shame in saying I have a bit of a girl crush on the woman.

 

I haven’t told Fergus this yet, but I’ve actually seen his mam once before. Only from a distance mind you, and we never had a conversation.

God. It must of been about four years ago now, I think? Da had taken Joanie and I down to London for a few days to see Fergus. We were staying at this really fancy hotel not too far from Fergus’ house. He had either not moved out yet, or he had just moved back in with his mother, I canny quite remember. Anyway, he was living at home with Claire at the time. I don’t think she kent that we were there to visit Fergus, because I remember he couldn’t hang with us all the time. I ken he still had his work, but even when he wasn’t at work, he seemed to need to be at home.

I think it must of been the third day we were in London and we were supposed to spend the whole day together. The four of us. The plan was to go bowling after lunch and then swimming later in the day. I was really looking forward to it, but Mother Nature had other ideas. That morning I had woken up really early with bad stomach cramps. My bloody time of the month. I had no idea it was going to happen. I had been getting my period since I was eleven years old, but even after three years, I still wasn’t regular. In fact, I had just went two months without a period, so I didn’t think it would happen when I was away. Naive, I ken. Anyway, luckily I had packed some sanitary products with me.

It was so embarrassing though. Da decided that because I was in so much pain, Fergus was to take Joanie out for the day and go sight seeing to all the places Joanie wanted to go that I wasn’t too interested in. Da stayed in the hotel with me. We didn’t talk much because the pains were so bad. We cuddled up on the bed and watched some rubbish film that was on the tv.

After a few hours, I was starting to feel a little better. The heat pad I had was helping a lot, but it was the last one I had. I asked da if we could go and meet Fergus and Joanie for dinner. I felt bad that we all missed out on a good day out because of my bloody time of the month. Da reluctantly agreed. He wanted me to stay at the hotel and rest, but I insisted I would be fine if we stopped off at a chemist for some more heat pads and some ibuprofen, because I find they work better than paracetamol.

 

Whilst in the chemist, Da had gone to pick up some bits and pieces and I was just wandering about myself. I heard this woman speaking over at the counter. I don’t ken why, but I couldn’t help but stand and stare. I mostly only saw the back of her. I caught a glimpse of the front of her face when she turned her head laughing a couple of times. I was just drawn to her. This wasn’t my first time in London, but it was the first time I ever heard anyone speak like her. She was so posh and proper sounding. I could of listened to her speak all day. It was the kind of voice that would soothe ye to sleep when ye were a bairn.

Da came up behind me and pushed me in to the queue. I think he must of heard her speak, because his head snapped up from looking in the basket, and he looked right at her. As she turned to leave, he moved aside and turned away so she wouldn’t see him. I didna have a clue what was going on. Next thing I know he hands me the basket and disappears out the shop door. I don’t ken what happened, but when he came back inside, he told me we were going straight back to the hotel. He wasn’t in the mood to go out to dinner. He and I ended up ordering room service that night.

A while later, I asked him what was wrong. It took some time but then he told me that the woman in the chemist was Fergus’ mam. He hadn’t seen her since he was in prison. Before she moved down to London with Fergus.

 

 

Friday. Three days after Claire arrived in Glasgow.

 

“Come on Marsali! I’ll no tell ye again. We need to pick up Fergus on the way. We dinna have time to be runnin’ late. No the day.” Da shouts at me from the bottom of the stairs.

“I’m comin’ da. Just need to find my jacket.” I respond.

“It’s doon here lass, now come on.”

 

On the way to Fergus’, I shoot him a text to say we won’t be long, just in case Claire is out in the garden, or standing in the front room. Da still doesn’t ken she’s here, and she still doesn’t ken I’m Jamie’s daughter. Well, step daughter.

Claire and I have spent the last few days really gettin to ken one another. She’s so lovely. I don’t ken what happened between her and Da, but it must of been big for them to split up. I think they would be perfect together.

 

Claire still hasn’t told Fergus what happened, but she promised to tell him this weekend. She isn’t leaving until Wednesday, so there is still plenty of time. I think she just wants to enjoy some time with Fergus first. Fair enough.

 

Normally I would sit in the front and jump in to the back when we pick up Fergus, but since we don’t want Claire to ken I’m da’s daughter just yet, I jumped in to the back so I wouldn’t need to get out of the car at Fergus’.

The ride to school is normal. Joanie filling us all in on what happened at dance class last night, and how excited she is for her concert tomorrow. Da and Fergus discussing work and Da trying his best to get Fergus to talk me in to looking in to colleges as applications will be opening soon.

When we get to school, Joanie says bye to us all and runs off to find her pals. Da asks me to hang back a few minutes. There’s a look on his face I canny quite read.

Shit.

Does he ken?

Have me and Fergus no been hiding our relationship as much as we thought?

Naw. He wouldn’t of offered Fergus a ride to work.

Da wouldna be this calm.

Fergus would be lying under the wheel of the car or something.

“Fergus, I want ye to go to Edinburgh this weekend. An old pal of mine, John Grey, is opening up a new restaurant there tomorrow night. He also has one here in Glasgow, two down in London and one in Cardiff. He asked me to go and do piece on the opening. I canna go because wee Joanie has her concert tomorrow night. I could of asked one of the other lads, but I have a wee favour to ask as well ye see.” Da explains to Fergus.

What this has to do with me I have nae idea.

“Yes, that would be great. Thank you for this opportunity Jamie. Is this the same man who owns the Ivy then? I’ve been to the one in Cardiff and been to them both in London. One of my favourite restaurants. I didn’t know there was one in Glasgow too though.” Fergus says with excitement written all over his face.

I expect he will want to take Claire. I think she would really enjoy it. Spending time with Fergus and seeing him work.

“Okay, well... it would be an overnight stay. You would go tomorrow morning. With Marsali.”

“What?” Fergus and I say in unison. Both extremely shocked and confused as to where this is going.

“Marsali wants to go to some interior design showcase or something in Edinburgh this weekend, but I said no. I dinna want her goin’ herself. The idea would be you both drive over together. Fergus will go wi’ ye to the showcase thing tomorrow and on Sunday. And Marsali will go wi you to the opening. The hotel is already booked and paid for and I’m happy to buy both of yer tickets for the design thingy. I just need ye to say aye Fergus and gi’ me yer word you will take care of my daughter, aye?”

“Awww Da! Thank ye so much. You won’t regret this. I promise.” I reach over to hug my da as best I can from the back seat.

“I can do that. It’s just one night though, right?” Fergus asks.

“Aye. Just the one night. And she’s eighteen, so she can have some alcohol. I just ask ye to make sure she doesna get carried away or mixes her drinks.” Da tells Fergus before turning to me. “Ye drink vodka, ye stick to vodka. Ye drink wine, ye stick to wine. No mixing lass, I mean it.”

I roll my eyes. “I ken da. I’m no a wee wean. I’ll stick to vodka. Promise.”

“Good lass. Right, away wi’ ye. I’ll see ye tonight. Have fun and behave yerself.” Da tells me as I climb out the car.

 

The whole day at school, I couldn’t help the smile on my face. My da literally just paid for Fergus and I to go away for a night together. This is amazing. This is big. I mean, obviously my da doesn’t have a clue as to mine and Fergus’ relationship, but knowing how protective Da is over me, I really like that he trusts Fergus with me. Even if he doesna ken he’s my boyfriend just yet.

Fergus and I have spent every evening together and saw each other in the mornings when da took Fergus to work. It hasn’t been what I would of hoped though. I mean I love Fergus’ mam. We get on so well and she treats me like an adult. She doesn’t think less of me because I’m younger than Fergus, or still in school. It’s been wonderful having her here and getting to ken her, it’s just a shame she arrived so soon after Fergus and I deciding to give this a shot. We haven’t exactly had any us time. Well, not alone any way.

This trip to Edinburgh couldn’t of come at a better time. I just hope Claire will be alright with Fergus gone for a couple days.

 

 

I really wish I was seeing Fergus tonight, but Da is insisting I spend the evening with him and Joanie at home instead. I suppose it would be nice for Fergus and Claire to spend more time together on their own. At least I’ll have two whole days with Fergus.

I wonder if he would be up for going to the exhibition for a little while tomorrow before we can check in to the hotel, but then spend the rest of the day in the hotel before going to the restaurant opening? As much as I really want to see this design show, I would much rather spend some quality time with my boyfriend. Alone.

 

“Right lassies, What dae ye’s fancy for tea the night? We could order pizza or I could whip up some pasta or somethin’?” Da asks Joanie and I as we walk in to the living room.

“I’ll eat whatever. I am starved. Got held back before lunch to help Mr Wakefield with organising his library. I’m lucky I got to eat anything at all. Why the man has so many books, I’ll never know. I mean WWll is t on the curriculum. Why does he need so many books about it? Same with books about the royals. We learn about the Tudors and Stewart’s in primary school, not secondary school. He should really take all the, books home. The classroom would look a LOT less cluttered if ye ask me.” I say quite dramatically. But it’s true. Why have books in the classroom we don’t need?

“I agree. We’re learning about WWl at the moment, but there are next to know material on the subject because his books are all based on topics we don’t cover. And the guy is so old, he doesn’t like us going to the computer rooms to do research during class time. Well, HOW are we supposed to learn anything. It’s HISTORY, we weren’t exactly around that period in time.” Joanie adds with a roll of her eyes.

I’m glad. I think Da just thinks I like to moan about Mr Wakefield and his ridiculous ways sometimes, but that’s not the case. Well, no entirely.

“I’ll order pizza. I need to pop out for some milk anyway, so I’ll just pick the pizza up. Dae ye’s want to come, or dae ye’s want to get the plates out?” Da asks us.

“Okay. We’ll stay and we’ll choose the film as well.” Joanie answers with a big cheesy grin. This means it’s going to be some rom com or something boring. I suppose she sits through mine and da’s action adventure films often enough.

“Okay. I won’t be long. No arguing or fighting whilst I’m gone.” Da warns us. “I wilna be gone long.”

 

Da finally walks back on the door and Joanie and I are all set up in the living room with the plates and the drinks. Luckily we haven’t opened out bottles of orange juice yet, because I see da has brought us each a bottle of Irn Bru. This rarely happens. He doesn’t like us having too much fizzy juice, so he refuses to buy any when shopping. I think tonight’s going to be a good night.

Da dishes out the pizza on to our plates and then adds some salad. Would of preferred chips, but I suppose I can pig out on as many chips as I like when I’m in Edinburgh this weekend.

“I stopped by Fergus’ to see if he wanted to come over and join us.” Da announces.

Shit.

Did he see Claire?

Does he ken she’s there?

“He said no. In fact, he couldna get me away fae the door fast enough. I think he has a lass over.” Da grins.

I ken fine Fergus doesn’t have a lass over. I ken fine that his mam is visiting and she doesn’t want to see da. But, da looks really happy at the fact that he thinks that Fergus is seeing someone and it really bugs me that he wouldn’t be so happy for Fergus if he knew that I was the lass he was seeing.

“Did he say he had a lass over da?” Joanie asks.

“No. But ye dinna send yer pals away unless ye’ve got a lass tucked away in the house. I offered him pizza and he turned it down. The lad never turns pizza down. Especially if it comes wi’ a chance to hang out wi’ ye two for a couple of hours. Nah. Must be a lass in his life. I’m glad. The lad deserves to be happy.”

I don’t say anything. What could I say?

 

When Joanie starts the film, it takes me about ten minutes to realise that this was the film I put on last weekend when Fergus stayed over. The film that I barely watched because I was too busy stealing glances at Fergus. Too busy thinking about him. Too busy making out with him and listening to him finally open up about his feelings for me.

 

When the film finishes, Joanie asks me what I think.

Fuck.

I barely paid attention the first time, and I couldn’t pay attention this time because all I thought about was cuddling up here on the couch with Fergus. Stealing kisses and holding his hand.

“It was alright. No my kinda film though, but it was okay I suppose.” I shrug before taking the dishes through to the kitchen.

Da follows me in with the empty Irn Bru bottles. “Fergus said he will pick ye up here tomorrow morning about half nine. I suggested breakfast, but he said he couldn’t. I guess his wee girlfriend will be stayin’ over the night then.”

“Aye. Maybe.” I say plainly.

I put the dishes in the dishwasher as quickly as possible and then kiss da goodnight and make my way upstairs to pack my overnight bag before jumping in to bed.

This time tomorrow, I will be in Edinburgh lying in a hotel bed with Fergus. Nothing could be better.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

“Good evening sweetheart. How was work today?” Mum asks as I come in to the kitchen. She’s been busy baking today I see. The kitchen counter is filled with scones and cupcakes and cookies and muffins.

Somethings wrong. She always over bakes when she’s worried or stressed about something.

“It was fine mum. Just a bit of a long day.” I answer as I sit down at the kitchen table watching my mother fuss about clearing away the dishes from the dishwasher. “How was your day? I can see you’ve been... busy.”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking darling, and you don’t need to worry. I just thought I would do some baking today. That’s not a crime you know.”

“I know mum. I just worry about you, that’s all.”

Mum comes over to stand behind me and bends down to wrap her arms around me. “I am the parent. Not you. It’s my job to do the worrying, alright? I’m fine. I promise.”

I don’t believe her. I know it’s tough for her being here knowing that Jamie is literally around the corner. I wish there was a way that I could make this easier for her. If they just saw each other or something? Not over lunch or dinner or anything, but if I could just talk mum into bumping in to him for like two minutes, just to clear the air, I think she would be a lot calmer. I don’t want it to be like this every time she comes to visit. She’s my mum. I shouldn’t have to hide her away in case he comes around. She shouldn’t feel like she has to hide away. It’s all in the past. I think we all need to move on now.

 

Mum and I sit down to dinner. She made us a lasagne and some garlic dough balls. Yum.

I have to tell her about me working away this weekend. I feel kind of bad because she came all this way to see me and I’ve been working most of that time, but this is an amazing opportunity for me. All my articles have been mostly about local sports games. Mainly school sports. Writing an article about John Grey opening another IVY restaurant in Edinburgh could really do wonders for me. These are the kind of articles people want to read.

I know part of the reason Jamie sent me on this gig, is to watch over Marsali, but if he didn’t think I was up to the job of this article, he wouldn’t of asked me. Especially if it’s his friends place.

It will be nice to spend a couple of days with Marsali too. I feel like we haven’t had a proper chance with this relationship yet. We were only together two minutes and then my mother arrived in town. Not that I’m not happy to see her, it was just bad timing. I’m going to make sure that Marsali has a wonderful time in Edinburgh though. We just need to be careful when at the opening. If John and Jamie are friends, we need to make sure nothing happens that could get back to Jamie.

Of course I want him to know. I don’t like the idea of sneaking around with Marsali, but we need to make sure we are doing the right thing before telling Jamie. This isn’t something he will just accept. I’m one of his best friends. Marsali is his daughter. He would be really disappointed. Angry even.

 

Mum is surprisingly alright about me working in Edinburgh this weekend. She said it will give her a chance to go out and explore more of Glasgow without having to rush back to make us dinner. Not that I’ve asked her to make my dinner. She’s my mum. She likes to take care of me. Who am I to refuse some delicious home cooking I didn’t have to make myself? I’m sure mum will be alright. She seems excited to have the house to herself for a couple of days. I imagine she will probably face time Geillis and have a few glasses of wine. Usual Saturday night for them if neither of them are working. Either Geillis would come over to ours, or they would face time. It’s very rare that mum goes over to Geillis’. Ever since we moved to London, my mother hasn’t really been the social butterfly she used to be when we lived in Inverness. She likes being at home.

I haven’t told her Marsali is coming with me to Edinburgh either. I don’t know why, but I don’t think she really needs to know that piece of information.

 

After dinner, mum decides to go for a shower. That gives me time to look up some more information on John Grey and his businesses.

Wow.

The man isn’t just a successful businessman, he’s a freakin’ lord. How did I not know this? How is Jamie friends with a freakin’ lord?

I’ve been to this mans restaurants a few times over the last few years, but I’ve never seen the man or met him. Well, I didn’t think I had.

As I scroll through images of a Lord John Grey on google, I realise that I have in fact met this man before. Well, not met exactly, but he has been in our house a couple of times when I was younger. Not in Inverness though. Not to see Jamie. This man was in my house in London. He was speaking with my mother. I remember she told me to go to my room before she let him in the first time. I hung around on the staircase so I could listen to what was going on. I couldn’t hear very well, but I saw his face when he left. The second time he came to visit, he was already there when I got home from school. My mum asked me to go straight upstairs and start on my homework. Again, I tried to listen to the conversation because it was so unusual that my mother would send me away when people came to visit. Not that we had many visitors.

He must of come to speak to her about Jamie. If he’s Jamie’s friend and mum never introduced me to him, that must be why.

When I was telling her about this job in Edinburgh, I didn’t tell her the name of the restaurant or the name of the man opening the place. What would of been her reaction if I said it was one of Jamie’s friends? John Grey.

I don’t want to risk unsettling her though. Especially when I will be away for two days and leaving her here alone.

 

*Knock knock

I stand up to go and answer the door and see Jamie’s car parked out the front. Why did Marsali not tell me he was coming by?! She maybe doesn’t know.

“Hey Jamie. What’s up?”

“No much lad. The lassies and me are having a pizza night the night. Do ye want to join us?”

“I’m really sorry Jamie, not tonight. I have a lot to get organised before tomorrow, you know?”

I try to end the conversation as quickly and as politely as possible, but Jamie just keeps on talking. I can hear my mother walking down the hallway. She must of banged in to something because I’m sure the clatter I just heard was something falling to the floor. Thank god she didn’t say anything, Jamie would of known straight away who was there.

“Ye got a lass in there lad?” Jamie asks me with a big grin on his face.

“What? No! Look Jamie, I really need to get organised for tomorrow okay.” I try to shut the door but Jamie pipes up again.

“I can bring Marsali round tomorrow morning. Maybe we can all have breakfast before ye’s leave eh?”

“Sorry Jamie. I have some things to do tomorrow before we leave. I’ll swing round and pick her up around nine thirty. That alright?”

“Aye that’s braw. Have fun the night then. See ye the morn.” Jamie says with a weird owl twitching wink before he finally leaves.

 

Fuck. That was close.

 

“Mum? Are you alright?” I call out as I walk down the hallway towards her. She’s crouched down on the floor picking up some magazines that have fell.

“Yes I’m fine. Sorry sweetheart. I got distracted with this text from Joe and banged in to the book case. Luckily it was only some books and magazines that fell.” She looks up at me, “Who was at the door?” She asks.

“Someone ordered a delivery and the driver wasn’t sure which house it was supposed to go to.” Luckily she actually buys that little tale and doesn’t say any more on the matter.

 

 

THE NEXT DAY

I finish eating breakfast with mum. I only have a bowl of cereal because I thought I would treat Marsali to a nice brunch later before we go to the exhibit.

I feel kind of nervous about leaving Mum here for the night, but she assures me she will be fine. Apparently there are a few episodes of Holly City she could do with catching up on.

 

After I put my overnight bag in to the boot of the car, I go back over to the front door to give mum a hug goodbye. She wishes me luck for my article and hopes I enjoy my night. She gives me a kiss on the cheek and tells me how proud she is of me. That makes me so happy. After everything she has been through in life and everything she has done to love and protect me over the years, all I ever wanted to do was make her proud.

When I get in to the car and start the engine, I roll the window down so I can say good bye again.

“Have a wonderful time my darling. I love you.” She tells me.

“I will. I love you too mum. Call me if you need me, okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Now, off you go.”

I wave goodbye and reverse out of the drive. It’s only a few minutes before I am parked outside Marsali’s. I send her a text to say I’m here. The less I need to see Jamie the better. I just feel weird about all the secrets I’m keeping from him. This is something he and I have never done before. We’ve always been open and honest about everything. What happened in the past, he and Mum didn’t tell me the full story because I was a child and they wanted to protect me, so I completely understand that. They have both agreed to talk to me about it, but they both needed some time to get their heads sorted before hand I think. I understand that as well. Whatever happened tore our family apart. It changed our lives forever. I am more than happy to give them the time and space they need. This though, the secrets I’m keeping from Jamie really does make me feel terrible. I am in a relationship with his daughter. It’s still early days, but there is no doubt in my mind how much I love and care for Marsali. I have no doubt in my mind that she feels the same for me. This isn’t just a teenage crush for her. This is real between us. I just hate that we have to keep everything so secret. Also, having mum staying at my house this week and Jamie doesn’t even have a clue she’s here. It’s tough. I’ve been feeling it all week, but last night... god. I almost had a heart attack. I wasn’t expecting him to come by the house, and he did. It was just pure luck that Mum hadn’t opened her mouth to speak. He could of easily have found out she was there. And then what would of happened? I haven’t seen them in the same room together since I was nine years old. I haven’t had a conversation about the other properly since I was a child. There is no way to know how either of them would react to seeing each other again after all these years.

 

It doesn’t take too long before Marsali appears at the front door with Jamie, Joanie and about three overnight bags. I jump out of the car to open the boot to put the bags in with mine.

“You do know we’re only going for one night, right?” I ask her as I try to fit all three bags in the boot with my own bag.

“Don’t you start. Da’s already had a go at me about it.” She says before jumping in to the front passengers seat.

“Just ye ask her how many outfits she’s packed. Bloody ridiculous if ye ask me. And... make up. I’ve told her she’s a bonnie wee thing that doesna need all that muck on her face, but will she listen? Naw, I’m only her da.” I can tell Jamie’s really frustrated.

“I dinna even wear make up every day. I only wear tinted moisturiser, mascara and lip stick to school. I thought tonight it would be nice to dress up for a change.” Marsali shouts from the car.

I tell Jamie I’ll take good care of Marsali whilst we’re away. I give Joanie a big hug and wish her luck for her dance concert later and tell Jamie to send me plenty of pictures and videos. I know how much work Joanie has out in to getting ready for this show. I feel bad that I won’t be there to support her, but she will do brilliantly.

As I jump in to the car and start the engine, Jamie is over at the other side of the car speaking to Marsali through her open window.

“Ye have a good time lass, and please be careful when yer out tonight. Fergus has a job to do, so I’m trustin’ ye to no get too carried away with drinkin’ and such—“

“Da, I’m no a wee wean anymore. I promise I will only stick to one kind of alcohol and I swear I won’t drink too much.” Marsali assures him.

“I ken lass. But no matter how old ye are, yer still my wee lass. I love ye mo leannan, and I’ll see ye the morn.”

“I love you too da.”

Marsali and I wave goodbye to Joanie and Jamie and I set off on the road. After being on the road for about five minutes, Marsali connects her phone so we can listen to some music. Marsali and I have the same taste in a lot of things and music is definitely one of them. She always has the best playlists. The first song to come on is Bryan Adams singing “can’t stop this thing we started”. It is definitely one of my favourite Bryan Adams songs. Marsali starts singing along at the top of her lungs. She’s not the best singer in the world, but she’s not the worst either. She’s having fun and looks adorable.

“Dae ye remember when we went to see Bryan Adams in concert?” Marsali asks me after the song finishes.

“Of course. It was only a couple of years ago.” I smile.

“Joanie took no well and Da had to leave early to go home to her and make sure she was okay. It was just you and me for the last half of the show.”

“I remember.” I tell her.

“I ken it wasna a date, but I really enjoyed myself with ye that night, just the two of us. I liked dancing with ye.”

I reach over and take Marsali’s hand in mine, “I enjoyed it too. All of it. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I was kind of relieved when your da left. I loved being able to hold you in my arms and dance with you. It was the best night of my life.” I tell her.

“Really?” She asks me.

“Yeah.” I squeeze her hand gently before pulling away to place mince back on the steering wheel.

“It was the best night of my life too. Well, until ye finally kissed me and told me ye wanted to be wi me just as much as I want to be wi you.” Marsali reached her hand over to place it lightly on my thigh.

We drive like that the whole way to Edinburgh whilst singing some more of the songs on Marsali’s playlist and just talk about random nonsense that only we would find interesting.

We got held up on the road a couple of times, but we make it to Edinburgh a bit before eleven. Plenty of time to go and find somewhere for brunch before heading to the design show.

 

 

We spend about an hour at the show and I can tell Marsali is really keen and taking everything in that’s all around her. We found out that there are some stalls downstairs, so naturally, Marsali wanted to head down there to have a look and see what all she could buy.

The very first stall she spies is filled with racks of material. Marsali makes a beeline for it and starts just collecting fabric after fabric. I lose count after the first eight or so. How much different fabrics does this girl need? I try to tell her to leave it and she can come back and buy things she needs tomorrow, but she doesn’t listen. This girl has a mind of her own and does what she wants. One of the things I love about her.

The next stall is for nic nacs and things. She’s filled a small basket with sewing needles and different coloured thread. She’s also picked up a bobbin? Apparently it’s for her sewing machine.

Eight shopping bags and £312 later, Marsali announces she wants to go back to the hotel to get settles in and rest before tonight. She’s quite happy to see more here tomorrow instead. I don’t argue. I’ve never been so bored in my life. Of course I would do it all again because it’s Marsali, but I can’t deny how good it would be to just grab a coffee and head to the hotel and relax before tonight.

When we get to the hotel to check in, we learn that our rooms are right next to each other, which I’m glad about because I wouldn’t want Marsali to be on a different floor on her own.

When we reach the second floor and get to our rooms, I put in my key card to open the door and Marsali makes her way in ahead of me.

“Um..?”

“Dae ye really think I’m gonna be able to sleep at the other side of that wall kennin’ fine you are in here? It’s one night Fergus. One night where we can lie together and hold each other and just be us. Are ye really gonna send me next door?” Marsali asks as she walks over to me and wraps her arms around my neck.

“No. But nothing else is going to happen. And if you change your mind, let me know and I will take the other room, okay?” I tell her before kissing her forehead.

“Ye’re such a gentleman Fergus Beauchamp, but believe me, I’ll no be changing my mind. We belong next to one another.”

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

Fergus text me just before eleven to say that he had just arrived in Edinburgh. Apparently there was a few hold ups on the road. I was a little relieved to be honest. It isn’t a road he has driven before, so it wouldn’t hurt for him to be extra cautious on his journey.

Since I have the place to myself for a couple of days, I’m in no hurry to do anything. I am on holiday from work after all, so having the time to catch up on television shows and reading a book or two sounds like my idea of a relaxing couple of days.

I told Fergus that I would t mind using the time to go out and explore Glasgow a little bit more, but to be honest, I think I would rather just stay here and chill out. The only time I plan on going out is to go and get some more groceries.

 

After catching up on the last three episodes of Holby City, I decide to give Geillis a call. I haven’t really had the opportunity to call her really since I’ve been here.

Geillis being Geillis has decided that it isn’t a good idea for me to be sat in the house on my own for the next two days. She reminds me that our friend Louise from medical school is running a dance concert tonight to raise funds for the NHS in Scotland.

Louise is a very talented dancer. She has done ballet, tap, ballroom and highland dancing since she was a little girl. When a Geillis and I decided to go on and become surgeons, Louise had just found out she was expecting her first child and decided to become a GP so she could have a better work/family balance. Six years ago, Louise decided to leave London and take a job at a medical practice in Glasgow and also start up her own Dance Academy. Apparently it’s very successful and she has some of the best dance teachers working for her. She has over two hundred students ranging from the ages of four to eighteen in different dance classes.

“I’ve text Louise to tell her yer in town to visit Fergus, but he has to work tonight and yer at a bit of a lose end. She said she’ll leave a ticket with your name on it at the door. No charge. If ye can, yer to pop down to the hall for about six, and she’ll meet ye for a drink at the bar.” Geillis informs me.

“It does sound like a good night. And it’s for a good cause, but Louise will be busy. She doesn't need me distracting her before hand.”

“Look, the lass misses ye. Talking on the phone once a month isna the same as catching up over a wee drink in person. I’m sure she wouldna have suggested it if she didn’t want to see you. Just, go out tonight and have some fun aye?”

 

After hanging up with Geillis, I send Louise a text to thank her for the ticket and tell her I will see her at six if she’s sure she won’t be too busy. She replies almost straight away assuring me that she will be glad of the drink and the company before the show starts.

 

When I go to make a late lunch, I decide that I’m really in the mood for a baked potato from the deli round the corner. They have so many different fillings to choose from, and it would save me having to prepare lunch for myself. That’s what I miss most about being so far away from Fergus now he lives here in Glasgow, cooking for the two of us and enjoying each other’s company over a meal. For so long it was only the two of us, and now it’s just me on my own.

Fergus has been trying to persuade me for years to try putting myself out there and meeting someone. Truth is, I haven’t been with anyone since Jamie and I don’t think I ever will. I’m just not interested in the whole dating thing. And I am definitely not someone like Geillis who is more than happy to have one night stands on a drunken night out.

It can be quite lonely sometimes, but this is the life I chose for myself, and 9/10, I am happy with my choice. My work keeps me busy. Long conversations with Fergus in the phone keeps me busy. I don’t need a man in my life. I don’t want a man in my life.

 

The deli isn’t as busy as I thought it would be. I suppose it is well past lunch time. I go up to the counter and order and pay for a baked potato and tuna and some salad. As the young woman prepares my order, I go over to to sit at one of the tables in the corner and read one of the magazines that someone left on the table. There are only a couple of other customers sat inside and a couple of customers who came in after me are also getting their order to take away.

I get so engrossed in the magazine I’m flicking through, that I almost don’t hear the young woman telling me my order is ready. I jump up off my chair and make my way over to the counter to collect my lunch and thank the young woman. As I turn to make my way to the door, I notice Jamie sat at one of the tables. I don’t think he’s seen me though. He has his head stuck in his tablet. Since this isn’t the time or the place for awkwardness, I just continue over to the door and make my way back to Fergus’.

Once I finish my lunch and a coffee, I realise that I actually don’t have anything nice to wear to the concert tonight. I quickly send off a text to Geillis asking for advice. Do I just go to the concert in the peach pant suit I brought with me, or do I chance my luck and venture in to the city centre to try and find something new to wear.

I am shocked when Geillis encourages me to wear the pants suit I brought with me. Usually Geillis is the first person to drag you off shopping and spending painful amounts of money on clothes you don’t really need.

I suppose the pant suit is a good idea, because I’ve never been to this location before. If it’s too chilly inside, at least I have my blazer. If I get too warm, I can take my blazer off. Yeah, that will work. I just need to work out what I’m going to do with my unruly hair.

 

By five o’clock, I’m all ready to go. I’m wearing a cream coloured blouse under my blazer and my favourite pair of black stilettos. I quickly check to make sure I have everything I need in my hand bag. My phone, keys, purse and a miniature lipstick.

The taxi should be here to pick me up shortly. Apparently the hall where the concert is being held is about twenty minutes away from Fergus’s house. Since I’ve never been before, I want to get there a little earlier if possible, just to make sure I get to the right place.

 

They journey doesn’t take that long. I get a very talkative Glaswegian taxi driver, who decides to give me the history of the are of Glasgow we are heading to. To be honest, I don’t really pay that much attention because my mind keeps going back to seeing Jamie sat in the deli.

The man doesn’t seem to have aged all that much in the last twenty years. How is that even possible? Most days I feel and look a lot older than I should. How has he managed to stay so fit and healthy looking?

No. I can’t think about Jamie right now. I can’t think about him at all. I need to just relax and enjoy my rare night out. I’m sure Louise has done a magnificent job pulling all this together.

 

 

Jamie’s POV

 

A few hours after Marsali and Fergus leave for Edinburgh, I need to get Joanie organised and get her over to the Dance Academy for her dress rehearsal for tonight’s concert.

She’s so excited. She’s one of the few dancers that is taking part in most of the concert. How she and the other lassies have the strength and the stamina for it all, I’ll never ken. Joanie has been looking forward to tonight ever since the Academy announced they were doing a concert.

Usually, the Academy only open up concerts and showcases to the families of the dancers. This is the first time that a concert will be open to the public to come and enjoy. It’s for a good cause as well. The founder of the Academy, Louise, is a GP at a near by medical practice. She see’s first hand just how much the NHS is suffering with lack of funding for the right staff and equipment. Not just in Scotland, but all over Britain.

Louise came up with the idea one night to do another concert, but this time open it up to the public and raise a bit of money for the NHS. This fundraiser isn’t going to get the NHS out of a hole or anything, but every little helps.

The Academy is big enough to host the normal showcases, but since this concert is going to be bigger than normal, Louise decided to get in touch with a local theatre and ask if we could use it for the concert. They were only too happy to agree, especially when they found out it was a fundraiser for the NHS. They didn’t even charge the Academy for use of the theatre, instead, the theatre offered use of the whole place for free and even gave a donation to the NHS and the Academy.

The only issue they came up against, was the stage was being used during the afternoon, so the dancers have to do their dress rehearsal at the Academy, but that’s okay.

Louise has roped me in to serving food tonight during the interval. I don’t mind though. Louise has done a lot for Joanie over the years and I always like to do what I can to help support the Academy. If that means serving some appetisers tonight during the interval, then that’s fine. I ken it means a lot to Joanie as well that I’m there to help in any way I can.

 

After I drop Joanie off at her dress rehearsal, I stop in at the deli for something to eat and a coffee whilst I finish off some emails for work. I don’t need to go back and collect Joanie after her rehearsal because she is going over to her friends house before the concert. I’ll see her before the show starts to wish her luck and such.

The deli isn’t that busy, but sayin’ that, it’s a wee bit after lunch time by the time I get there. I order myself a wee box of chips and a coffee and sit down at my usual table near the counter.

After I finish with my chips, I order another coffee and pull my tablet out of my messenger bag and start getting on with some of these emails.

A short while later, I hear the bell ring as someone enters the shop. I quickly glance up and see Claire Beauchamp walking over to the counter. I quickly put my head back down and try to focus on my work. I dinna want to just be sat here staring at the lass. But, what is she doin’ here? Fergus is away to Edinburgh for the night. Surely he told his mother he wouldn’t be here. Is she planning to surprise him?

Claire orders a baked potato with tuna and salad and then makes her way to sit at a table in the far corner of the deli and starts to look through a magazine.

Wow. She looks incredible. Her beautiful dark brown curly hair hanging loose around her face. She’s dressed in a pair of figure hugging jeans that show off the shape of her beautiful round arse and a plain black t shirt. She looks absolutely glowing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so beautiful before, and this woman has always been beautiful.

I try to focus on the emails, but I canna help but glance over at Claire now and again. When the lass behind the counter announces Claire’s order is ready, Claire jumps up off her sat and takes her bag from the lass and turns to make her way towards the door. I do my best to keep my head down, hoping she won’t see me. As much as I want to speak with her, spend time with her, I ken that she wilna want that. I need to respect that she has a life wi’out me now.

I do wonder why she’s here now though?

 

Throughout the rest of the day, I try my best to forget about seeing Claire, but I canna. She seems to occupy every part of my mind.

As I leave the house to make my way over to the theatre, I decide to drop by Fergus’ place and see if she’s in. Just to say hello and see how she is. She’ll probably slam the door in my face, but, I just have this need to see her.

As I pull up to the house, I see there are no lights on. She could be at the back of the house though?

I slowly pull myself out of the car, take a deep breath and walk on over to the front door. I pause for a few moments before knocking on the door.

No answer.

I knock again a little louder and wait.

Still no answer.

Maybe it wasn’t her? No, it was definitely her. It’s maybe been a few years, but that was definitely Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp sat in the deli earlier today.

Maybe she’s popped out for the evening?

Maybe she’s staying in a hotel or a bed and breakfast and planning on catching up wi’ Fergus when he gets home?

I walk on back to the car and turn to look at the house one last time before getting in the car and driving over to the theatre.

 

 

I get to the theatre a little after six, and make my way in to find Joanie. I eventually find her with a group of her friends backstage doing some stretches. As soon as she clocks me, she comes running over to give me a big hug. She fills me in on her day and admits she’s a little nervous. This is the biggest audience she’s ever performed in front of. Apparently the concert is almost a sell out. There are only a handful of tickets left. I tell her not to worry and to just go out there and enjoy herself. I ken for a fact that the second she sets foot on that stage, she will be in her happy place, and won’t even notice the audience. She listens to what I say and takes a deep breath and thanks me for being here. I tell her there is no where on earth I would rather be. Joanie and Marsali may no be my blood, but they’re my daughters just the same. I canna imagine my life wi’out either of them and I couldna love them more if they were my own blood.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. Most of them effecting Claire and Fergus most. But, I am so lucky that god gave me another chance to be a father to these lassies. I may no be the best Da in the world, but everythin’ I do, I do for my girls.

Before I go to find Louise or one of the dance teachers, Joanie reminds me that she’s staying over at one of her friends house tonight. Thank Christ the lass reminded me, cause I totally forgot.

I wish my lass good luck, give her a kiss on the top of her head and then make my way to find someone who can fill me in on what I’m needed to do during the interval.

 

 

The first half of the concert went really well. I couldna be prouder of my wee lass. Joanie was one of the first dancers in stage performing a jive with her dance partner Lewis. They make a wonderful partnership. I think Lewis has a wee crush on the lass, but my wee Joanie is only focussed on the dancing and her schoolwork.

Throughout the first half, Joanie took to the stage to perform some ballet and highland dancing. Out of all the types of dancing Joanie does, highland dancing is her favourite.

The wee soul used to get picked on a bit by some of the other kids when she was in primary school, because she was a dancer. Apparently dancing isna a real sport. Well, my wee Joanie wasna long putting some of them bullies in their place. “When I do a six step fling, I jump vertically 192 times. That’s the equivalent of running a mile by the way. And I do it on one foot at a time whilst performing complicated and intricate footwork, and using my muscles from head to toe. Highland dancing is basically like sprinting. So, why don’t you go and run a mile with your arms above your head, on your toes in soft dancing pumps and wearing 7-10 pounds of wool clothing. Oh, and dinna forget to smile, aye”. That’s what she would say to them every time someone would laugh at her.

Joanie isna as confident as her sister, but she can be a feisty wee thing and can definitely stand up for herself when she needs to. I couldna be prouder of her.

 

As I make my way through the crowds of people in the bar and offer out some appetisers, I happen to bump in to Louise. I never managed to find her earlier, but one of the other dance teachers was able to fill me in on what they needed from me tonight.

“Jamie, I think you’ve rotated the bar enough, don’t you? Why not go and treat yourself to a pint or something? I think you deserve it.” Louise suggests.

“Ah, just happy to do my bit. I’m driving the night, so no alcohol for me I’m afraid.” I tell her with a small smile.

“Well, grab a coke then.” She lets out a small laugh. “How did you enjoy the first half of the concert? Joanie was breathtaking by the way, you must be very proud.”

“It was really good. Ye’ve all done a wonderful job in pulling all this together. She’s a wee smasher alright. I couldna be prouder of her. She works hard.”

“She really does. I must go and check on the dancers back stage a second, but thank you so much for helping out tonight. I really appreciate it.”

“Anytime.” I tell her before letting her past.

As I lay the empty food plate on the end of the bar, I make my way along to try and get served. When I finally find a spot to stand, I nearly pass out when I hear a familiar voice not too far along from me. I slowly lift my head and look over to see Claire ordering herself a gin and tonic.

She looks stunning. Her hair is pinned back, but she has a few lose curls around her face. She’s dressed in a really nice peach suit. It really suits her. She looks really well.

The person who was stood between us moves away from the bar and now there is an empty space between us. She doesn’t seem to notice though, she just takes her drink from the bartender and starts to sip away at her drink. The bartender then walks over to me and asks me what I would like.

“Em, just a coke thanks.” I say trying to keep turned away from Claire.

“Wow. Finally off the whisky and beer then?”

I look over and she’s looking right at me.

Claire.

She actually spoke to me.

I walk over to fill the space between us. “I’m driving. Wouldna be a good idea to drink and drive, ken?”

Claire nods and then turns and walks away without another word. When the bartender hands me my coke, I look around to see where she went, but I canna see her.

Fuck.

I look around the bar, but she’s no where to be found.

Soon enough, it’s time to head back in to see the second part of the show.

 

 

When the show finishes, I make my way backstage to find Joanie to take her a bunch of roses I bought her and tell her how well she did and how proud I am of her. Her wee face lights up when she sees the flowers. She asks me to take them home with me and out them in a vase and put them in her room. Just as Joanie is about to say goodbye, Louise appears to congratulate Joanie on her wonderful performances. It takes me a few moments to realise that Claire is stood with Louise. How do they ken each other?

“Ah, Jamie, this is my friend Claire. She’s visiting from London. She is actually staying with her son for a few days. He lives not too far from you I believe.” Louise explains.

I look over at Claire, but before I get a chance to explain to Louise that we actually know each other, Claire speaks first. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Aye, ye too lass.”

“Well, Claire here was just about to call a taxi and I was wondering if—“

“Och no, I can gi’ ye a lift. If it’s in the way anyway.” I say to Claire.

“Um, no it’s okay thank you. I don’t want to put you out.” Claire answers. I can tell she’s a little uncomfortable.

“I need to go now Da, but I’ll see ye tomorrow. Is it okay if I come home tomorrow night after tea?” Joanie asks me. I completely forgot she was stood there.

“Aye a leannan. As long as that’s okay with Mrs Ferguson? Call me when ye want picked up. I’ll be at home all day.” I tell her.

Joanie nods and says goodbye to Louise and puts a hand out to Claire to shake and says it was nice to meet her. Claire tells Joanie it was nice to meet her too and she was wonderful in the show. Joanie gives her a big warm smile before turning back to me and wrapping her arms around me in a big hug. I kiss the top of her head.

“Goodnight Joanie. I’ll see you tomorrow sometime.” I tell her.

“Aye da. I love you.” She tells me.

“I love ye too mo leannan.”

After Joanie walks over to her friend and her mam, I turn back to Claire and Louise. Claire is still resistant on a lift home, but Louise assures her that I am a much safer driver than most Glasgow taxi drivers. Eventually Claire gives in and she and I walk towards the exit.

 

When we reach the door to outside, Claire pulls out her phone to phone a taxi.

“What are ye daein’ lass? If yer stayin’ at Fergus’ I can drop ye off. It will save ye a fortune if nothing else.” I tell her as she just stares at me as if I repulse her.

She lets out a big sigh, “Fine. No talking though. Just silence.”

Claire motions for me to lead the way and she follows me to my car with a bit of a distance between us. I need to keep looking back to make sure she’s still there.

It’s the longest twenty minutes of my life driving back to Fergus’ house. Kennin’ Claire is sat right behind me in the car, but no bein’ able to talk to her or touch her is proving verra difficult. There is so much I want to say to her. So much I want to apologise for, but she wilna let me. Kinda says it all when she decided to jump in to the back of my car instead of riding in the passenger seat beside me.

When I pull up to Fergus’ house and stop the car. She says a quick and dry thanks before hot footing it out of the car and practically runs to the front door with her heels in one hand and the house keys in the other.

I canna let it end like this.

I canna leave it just like that.

We need to talk.

Now.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

The restaurant opening is really boring. The place is filled with loads of rich snobs thinking they own the place. The amount of folk lookin’ down their nose at me because they think I’m too young or too common to be in a place like this.

It’s no what I expected, that’s for sure. I’ve never been to any of John’s restaurants before, but I’ve heard loads of folk talkin’ about how amazing the menu is and all that. No that I would ken. It’s a set bloody menu tonight isn’t it? I got a choice between prawn cocktail or some fancy rich soup for a starter. I chose the prawn cocktail cause at least I ken what that is. There was nae choice when it came to the main though. Some weird fish dish that I couldna finish. Then for the dessert, it was meant to be a berry dish of some sort. I looked really nice and I was fair looking forward to it, but then John brought me over a slice of chocolate fudge cake and ice cream because he thought I would like it better. That didn’t help with the looks I was getting from everyone else.

To make the night even more boring, Fergus and I couldn’t speak properly. We had to watch what we said. We couldn’t be ourselves. John kens fine who Fergus is, and if he was to suspect something between Fergus and I, I am damn sure the guy wouldn’t hesitate to go and call da.

 

The night FINALLY ends and I make sure Fergus and I are one of the first people out of the place. The restaurant isn’t too far from the hotel, so Fergus and I decide to walk instead of getting a taxi.

I wait until we are out of sight of anyone who might of been at the restaurant and I take Fergus’ hand in mine. Oh god, I’ve wanted to do this all night. He pulls me closer and lets my hand go so he can wrap his arm around my shoulder before he re takes my hand with his other one. We walk like this the whole way back to the hotel just laughing and talking about everything and nothing.

 

Not long after we get back to the hotel, I text Da to say that’s me back at the hotel. He doesna answer though, so he’s either passed out at home after sitting through Joanie’s concert, or he’s went out for a few pints with someone. Kennin’ da, it’s probably the first idea.

I wait another twenty minutes and send him a text saying I’m going to bed, so I’ll phone him in the morning.

 

Fergus comes out of the bathroom wearing nothing but his boxers. “You can say no if you want, but I’m running a bath and I just wondered if you wanted to join me?” He looks really shy. Like he’s scared to ask me.

I jump off the sofa that’s in our room and skip over to stand in front of Fergus with a great big smile on my face. “Of course I will. And then after, we’re going straight to bed and we are going to hold each other all night.” I reach up on my tip toes and kiss Fergus on the mouth. “That night you stayed at mine, that was the best nights sleep I’ve had in a long time. I haven’t slept that well since. Ye just make me feel safe and happy Fergus.” I tell him.

Fergus takes my face in his hands and plants a kiss on my forehead, “I’m glad. I never want you to feel scared or anxious. I don’t ever want you to be unhappy either. I will do whatever I can to always make sure you are safe, happy and loved.”

“Ye already do.”

 

After our little relaxing time in the bath, Fergus and I get out and dried off. Fergus sits on the edge of the bath and watches in fascination as I apply my body moisturisers and oils.

“What are you doing that for? You just washed.”

“It’s moisturiser Fergus. Need to take care of my skin. Ye literally just said to me ten minutes ago how lovely and smooth my skin was. How d’ye think it gets like that?” I laugh.

Fergus walks over to stand behind me and kisses my shoulder. “You smell like coconuts. I like it.”

I place my oil down on the worktop next to the sink and turn in Fergus’ arms. “I’m glad.” I reach up as he bends down to me and we kiss. It’s slow and gentle and then Fergus lightly brushes his tongue over my lips. I part mines so he can slip his tongue in to my mouth to meet mine.
God. I love the way this man kisses me.

Fergus moves his hands down the side of my body and reaches down to lift me up. I immediately wrap my arms around his waist as he moves me back and sits me on the work top. He’s still kissing me. It’s still soft and gentle.

We eventually break apart for air. Fergus wastes no time in kissing my neck and bringing his lips back up to my jaw and back to my mouth.

I gently pull away.

“I’m sorry Marsali. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” Fergus says. I can tell he’s worried he’s done something wrong.

“No. Don’t be sorry. I like it. I like it a lot Fergus. I just... I want to do this in bed. Can we?” I ask him.

Fergus nods his head and lifts me off the work top and places me on my feet. Fergus grabs a clean pair of boxers and begins to put them on. “Wait.” I say. “Do we really need to wear anything to bed? I mean, we’ve seen each other naked more than once now. We don’t get the opportunity to spend the night together often. Why can’t we just sleep nude? I love the feel of your skin next to mine.”

“Fergus nods his head again. “I like that too.” He says with a smile. “The minute you feel uncomfortable, you tell me and we cover up, okay?”

I walk on past Fergus and in to the bedroom. I pull down the cover at my side of the bed and jump in. “Ye know, I really do like that ye care about me so much. I like that ye take the time to ask me if things are okay, if I’m okay. The way ye always want to make sure I’m comfortable. It’s really sweet Fergus, it really is, but can ye just stop being so damn sweet and considerate all the time please? It’s starting to get just a teeny bit annoying.”

I look over at him at his side of the bed and he’s grinning at me.

Thank god. For a second I was worried I said something wrong.

“Okay. I’m sorry. I just want to make sure that you feel safe and comfortable, that’s all. This is new for both of us.” Fergus climbs in to bed beside me and pulls me closer. “I know this relationship is still in it’s early days, but I really need to tell you something. Something I have wanted to say for a while now. I know that if I don’t tell you now, then I will probably just blurt it out at the wrong time or something.”

“What is it? You can tell me anything.” I reassure him.

“Marsali, I don’t even know how or when it happened, but it did. I tried to put it to the back of my mind, but it was really difficult.”

“What?” I ask him again.

“I love you, Marsali McKimmie, I am in love with you.” Fergus tells me. He looks worried, like I’m just going to laugh in his face and walk out or something, I don’t ken.

I takes Fergus’ face in my hands and pull his face close enough so I can kiss him. “I love you too Fergus Beauchamp. I have fancied ye since the moment I first met ye. Fell in love wi ye no long after. This, what we have, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and more.” I tell him with a huge smile on my face.

“You have no idea how much I love you though.” Fergus tells me.

“Then why don’t you show me then? I get why ye didn’t want to rush the whole physical side of this, but if we love each other, and neither of us plan on leaving each other, why do we have to wait?” I ask.

“It’s your first time though. I wanted it to be special.”

“It is special. My first time will be with the man I love. With you. And, we’re in a pretty fancy hotel. No one is gonna disturb us. When will we get another chance where we’re no worrying if my da’s gonna turn up at yer door or if Joanie comes home from dance class or after school club early? I love you Fergus, and I really want to be with ye. Please.”

Fergus kisses me again before pulling away. “Okay. But, and I mean this Marsali—“

“...if at any point I change my mind and want to stop, I tell you straight away. I know.”

“I mean it Marsali.”

“I promise Fergus. But, there is no way I will be changing my mind. I’ve wanted ye for forever.” I smile at him before he lays my head down on my pillow and leans down to kiss me.

 

 

“How do you feel? Did I hurt you too much?” Fergus asks as way lay in bed holding one another.

“I’m fine. Better than fine actually.” I turn my head to plant a kiss on Fergus’ shoulder. “It did hurt, but only for a second or two. It was worth it though. I really liked being with you in that way Fergus. I’m glad my first time was with you.”

“So am I. I just wish my first time was with you as well.” Fergus tells me before placing a kiss on my temple.

“I don’t. I’m glad ye kent what you were doing.”

We get up to go and get cleaned up in the bathroom. We can barely keep our hands off each other.

I canny believe I just lost my virginity. To Fergus.

Like, what?! I have dreamed of this moment for so long. This was so much better than anything I have imagined tough. For me, whenever I thought about sex with Fergus, I always knew that it was sex with the man I love. But, to hear Fergus tell me he loved me tonight. To actually hear him say those words to me. Wow. I knew he cared about me a lot. I knew he had love for me, but I wasn’t 100% sure if he knew it was the same love I had for him though. We love each other, and we’re together. I don’t want to be sneaking around though. I think after Fergus has spoken to his Mam about her and Da and after Claire leaves, I think Fergus and I should tell Da we’re together and there’s is nothing he can say or do to stop us because we love each other.

“Hey, what are you thinking about?” Fergus asks as carries me back through to our bed.

“Nothing. I was just thinking how lucky I am to be with you. To have you in my life.” I say

“I think it’s me that’s the lucky one.”

“Okay, we’re both lucky. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

 

 

I wake up wrapped in Fergus’ arms. I can’t think of a better way to wake in the morning.

We’re disturbed by my phone ringing.

Fuck. It must be da.

I reach over to grab my phone off the bed side table. It’s John. What the hell does he want?

“Hi John. What can I do you for?” I ask tiredly.

“Sorry Marsali, did I wake you?”

“No. But I did just wake. What’s up?” I ask him.

“I just wondered if you could maybe let me speak with Fergus for a second. I need to speak with him about something.”

“Aye. Sure. Hang on, I need to grab my dressing gown.” I walk over to the couch and out on my dressing gown and walk out the hotel room.

I knock on the door and wait for Fergus to answer. I did tell him I just woke, so he would wonder why I was able to just pass the phone over to Fergus. I had to make it sound like we were in two different hotel rooms.

Fergus answers the door and I tell him John is on the phone and would like to speak with him.

I can’t hear what John is saying, but it’s pretty clear he wants to see Fergus at some point before we head home. Fergus explains that we are due to be somewhere most of the day, but agrees to meet John about two.

As soon as Fergus hangs up, I ask him why John wants to see him. My heads going in to overdrive thinking that maybe he suspects something between Fergus and I and he wants to talk to Fergus before calling da.

Shit.

 

Fergus explains it’s nothing to worry about. John just wants to catch up and speak to Fergus about last night. Fergus thinks he just wants an idea of the article he’ll write when he gets home. Fergus thinks it’s a good idea, because he didn’t get speaking to John as much last night as he would of liked. Apparently he could do with a couple more quotes for the article.

That’s good. That kinda eases my mind a bit.

 

Before Fergus and I leave for the design show, we stop by a little cafe near the hotel for some breakfast. I try texting da again, be he doesn’t respond again. This is really no like him. Especially with me being away for a night. Fergus tried texting him too, but no answer.

I decide to give Joanie a call and see what’s what. Although, I’m sure she said she was staying at the Ferguson’s last night after the concert. Maybe hasn’t seen or heard from him either.

 

As I thought, Joanie hasn’t heard from da either. She said she tried calling the house phone too, but there was no answer. Now that is strange. It’s Sunday, so he won’t be at the paper. He should be at home.

I give the house a call as well, but there’s no answer.

“Fergus, somethin’ isn’t right. He isn’t answering my calls or texts. He isn’t answering the house phone. We need to go home. Like now.”

Fergus agrees and we quickly finish our breakfast and get back to the car as soon as we can and make the journey back to Glasgow.

On the way, I call John and let him know what’s happened, so unfortunately Fergus won’t be able to meet him. John completely understands. I tell him Fergus is more than happy to call him later this afternoon so they can talk. John says that would be great, but there’s no hurry. We’re to make sure Da is okay.

 

We get home in just under an hour. The car isn’t there and it looks like the house is empty. I get out of the car and run to unlock and open the door. There is no sign of da anywhere. I shout and shout, but no answer.

Fergus brings my bags in and we search the house. His bed hasn’t been slept in.

Where the hell is he?!

I call him again, but there is still no answer.

Fergus decides to take me back to his place and we can try and work out a plan of what to do. He says that his mam is really good in this kind of situation. I agree.

I ken I should maybe call Aunt Jenny, but I did text Maggie to see if she’s seem Da and she said no. I’ll call Aunt Jenny when we get to Fergus’ though.

Just as we turn the corner, we se da’s car parked outside.

Shit.

He’s at Fergus’. Which means he kens Claire is here.

Fergus pulls the car over and stops it.

“What ye doing?” I ask him.

“I need to take you home and leave you there.” He tells me.

“What? Why?”

“Because if we walk in there together... my mother knows you are my girlfriend. As far as we know though, she isn’t aware of your relationship to Jamie. What if she says something about us? I need to take you home and I’ll come back here and find out what’s going on. I promise to call you though. I promise.”

There’s nothing I can really say. Fergus is right. I don’t think Claire letting slip about Fergus and I is the right way for da to find out.

I just have to sit at home and wait patiently for Fergus to call me and let me know what they he’ll happened to Da.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

I get out of Jamie’s car as quickly as possible and hurry down the path to the front door. My feet were killing me after walking almost ten minutes to find Jamie’s car, so I took my shoes off on the ride home and I’m carrying them in my left hand. When I get to the door, I can’t get the key in to the lock. I forgot to leave the outside light on before coming away earlier.

Damn!

I drop my shoes to the ground and start looking in my handbag for my phone so I can use the torch. I am very aware of the fact that Jamie hasn’t driven away yet, but that’s just the kind of guy he is. Well, at least he was twenty one years ago. He’ll be sat there until he knows I’m safely inside.

I can’t find my damn phone.

I don’t know how it happened, but when I hear the sound of keys jingling, I look up to see Jamie has unlocked the door for me.

He has a key to Fergus’ home?!

I quickly pick up my shoes from the ground and walk in to the house. I’m unable to close the door though because there is a giant Viking looking Scot stood with his foot pressed firmly against it keeping it open.

“Sassenach—“ Jamie begins, but I cut him off.

“Don’t you dare call me that!” I snap at him. “What the hell are you doing here? Don’t you have a wife of a partner to get home to or something?”

“No, I don’t. We need to talk.” Jamie says softly.

“No. I-I can’t. Not tonight. Not... I can’t do this. Can you please just go.” I beg him.

“I’m no goin anywhere Sassenach.” Jamie tells me firmly.

I move inside the house a little more to allow him past me. I close the door behind us and lock it. Jamie turns on the lamp in the hallway and then makes his way in to the kitchen. I stand frozen at the door for a few moments before taking a deep breath and following my ex husband through to my sons kitchen.

As I walk in the the doorway, I see Jamie has pulled out two mugs and is boiling the kettle. The way he moves around the kitchen so freely and comfortable makes me slightly uneasy. Of course I know he and Fergus are friends and he must come over sometimes to hang out or whatever, but it isn’t really something I’ve thought about all that much.

“Coffee. Strong and black. No sugar.” I tell him as I sit down over at the kitchen table.

“Ye dinna drink tea anymore?” He asks me with his brows all furrowed like he’s confused.

Tea was my main hot drink of choice years ago, but I needed to drink something stronger whilst I was going through medical school and it still helps me function properly now with my long shifts at the hospital.

“Sometimes. Mainly coffee now though.” I answer.

“I see.”

As Jamie waits for the kettle to boil, I quietly slip away upstairs to change in to something more comfortable. I can tell this is going to be a long night. I knew the day would come when I would need to face Jamie Fraser again, I just didn’t bank on it being the very first time I came to visit my son.

When I look in the chest of drawers for some pyjamas, I realise that none of these are suitable attire for sitting in front of my ex husband for the first time in over twenty years. Instead of choosing my usual pyjamas or a nightgown, I decide to throw on a pair of sweatpants and an oversized t shirt. Perfect. Comfortable and modest.

Jamie shouts on me a few times before I muster up the courage to go back down to face him.

When I make my way down stairs, I see Jamie is stood at the bottom of the stair case waiting on me with my mug of coffee in his hand.

“Here ye go Sassenach.” Jamie hands me the hot mug.

“I told you not to call me that. I mean it. Call me that again, and I swear I will walk back up them stairs and I won’t come out until you leave.” I tell him as I move past him to go and sit at the kitchen table.

“Then I’ll just no leave.” He answers as he follows behind me.

“Then I’ll call the police and Fergus and get him to come home from Edinburgh and then where do you think your so called “friendship” will be then?” I huff at him.

He doesn’t answer me. He just comes to sit across from me at the table and doesn’t say anything. He just sits there and watches me.

 

We sit there and drink our coffee’s in silence. Once Jamie has finished, he begins to speak.

“So, ye ken Fergus is in Edinburgh then? When did ye get here?”

“Yes, he told me last night you were sending him to Edinburgh to cover a new restaurant opening. He’s really excited.” I say, ignoring his second question.

“It’s a good opportunity for him. He’s brilliant journalist. A beautiful writer. I wouldna want to send anyone else.” He pauses for a second before opening his mouth again. “Ye didna tell me when ye got here.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s any of your business. I wasn’t aware I needed your permission to visit my own son.” I bite at him.

“I was only askin’ Claire. He didna say ye were comin’ is all.”

“Sorry Jamie, I’ll be sure to call you and let you know next time and get Fergus to do the same, shall I?” I snap a bit more heated.

“For Christ sakes Claire, it was just a shock seein’ ye the day at the deli and then again the night at the theatre.” He pauses again, thinking. He lifts his head to look at me and search my eyes. “You were here last night, weren’t ye? When I came round to invite Fergus over for Pizza, he... said no. I thought he had a lass over. It was you?!”

“You saw me at the deli? Wait, when did you..? Ah, the pizza delivery guy with the wrong address.”

“Eh?”

“I asked Fergus who was at the door, he told me that someone on the street ordered food and the delivery guy wasn’t sure what house.” I explain to him.

“So, ye were here last night. When did ye arrive?”

I let out a huge sigh and get up to walk over to the kettle and boil it again to make another coffee. Jamie follows up behind me and places his mug down on the counter beside mine.

“Tuesday. I arrived on Tuesday. It was a surprise for Fergus, he wasn’t expecting me until yesterday I think. I really missed him and rather than spend a few days at home on my own, I decided to come and surprise him.” I turn around to face Jamie after putting the coffee in our mugs and a sugar in his. “I asked Fergus not to tell you I was coming. I wasn’t ready for...well, this.” I wave my hand between the two of us.

 

Jamie leans in towards me and places his forehead on mine. It feels good. It feels like old times. He used to do this all the time when we were together.

But, we aren’t together any more.

I gently push Jamie away from me. “Don’t touch me.” I whisper.

“Claire...” he begs.

“Twenty one years is a long time Jamie. I think we should talk, more for Fergus’ sake than our own. He’s been asking me about the past and I just sort of froze. For the last twenty one years I have tried to keep you as far from my mind as possible. That isn’t fair on Fergus though, he deserves to know why the only family he ever really knew fell apart.”

“Aye, he asked me as well. He asked me why I went to prison. I never told him though. I just panicked and upped and left. I promised him that I would tell him though. I even asked him to let me get in touch wi ye so I could talk to ye first, but he said no. He didna want me upsetting ye. I get that. I’ve hurt ye more than anything Claire, and it kills me. I need ye to ken how sorry I am.”

I lift my head to look him in the eye, “I know Jamie. You don’t need to apologise. You didn’t do anything wrong. What happened, it wasn’t your fault. You were sent to prison for something you didn’t do. I just...” I trail off not knowing what else to say.

I turn to fill our mugs with the boiling water and stir our coffees.

“I still ruined our family though Claire. Our son had to grow up wi’out a father because of my stupidity.” Jamie whispers and I can hear him sniffling.

I turn to hand him his coffee and see that he’s crying. I want to hold him. Rock him in my arms and tell him everything is all right. Fergus had a wonderful childhood and he wanted for nothing. I can’t do that though. I can’t get too close to him. It wouldn’t be good for either of us.

 

Instaed, I reach in to my hand bag that is sat on the kitchen counter and grab a clean handkerchief and pass it to Jamie. He takes it with a small smile and starts to wipe his tears away.

We walk on back over to the table to sit again. It’s just silence again. So much we need to say to one another, yet neither of us can bring ourselves to open up properly.

“Your little girl is a really talented dancer. Take it she takes after her mum then?” I smirk.

“I couldna tell ye. I dinna think her mam was that in to Dancing.” He says.

“Well, she certainly didn’t get her grace from you.”

“Och, I ken that. She’s no mine Claire.” He tells me as he looks right at me as if it’s important that I know this.

“Yeah right.” I laugh. “She called you “Da”. It was you she was asking permission from to stay longer at her friends and oh yes, she has your flaming red hair. Beautiful girl by the way.” I say.

“Fergus didna tell ye then?” He asks me.

“Tell me what? About you and your new family? No he didn’t. We don’t talk about you Jamie. You are irrelevant in our lives. Well, mine anyway.”

“Huh, thanks.” Jamie scoffs.

“Excuse me? You and I have been divorced for twenty years Jamie. You can do whatever and whoever you like. It’s none of my business.” I tell him.

“The lass isna mine Claire. There are other red headed folk in Scotland ye ken? She’s my step daughter, and before ye start, I need ye to ken the story of how that came about.”

“I’m not really in the mood Jamie. I’m glad you moved in and found happiness. You deserved that.”

“I didna love her Claire.” Jamie snaps at me to try and prevent me from speaking over him and get me to listen.

We sit there and drink our coffees whilst Jamie fills me in on his late wife Laoghaire. How she was a struggling single mother with two young children and she was dying of cancer. She and Jamie had known each other for years apparently. In fact, I think I remember Jamie and Jenny speaking of her years ago.

Jamie tells me how it was Jenny’s idea for them to marry so that the girls would be well taken care of after Laoghaire was gone. Apparently it took them a few months to agree to it. Laoghaire passed away six months after they married and Jamie has been raising her two daughters single handedly ever since.

It’s really quite sad. Them poor girls. I’ve only met the youngest one, Joanie, but she seems like a very well brought up young lady. Jamie should be proud of the job he’s done being a father to the girls.

“Laoghaire and I didna live like husband and wife Claire. The marriage wasna even consummated. No that anyone kens that, but it’s true. We married only for the bairns ye see? We slept in different bedrooms as well. People assumed, Jenny and Ian included, that that was because of the cancer and Laoghaire needed her own space.”

I reach over and place my hand on Jamie’s, “You’re a good man James Fraser.” I tell him.

“Nah. I’ve made plenty o’ mistakes in my life Claire. Especially when it came to ye and Fergus. I let ye’s both down terribly. I’ll never forgive myself for it. But the lassies... I’m no the best father in the world, far fae it, but I do my best for them.”

“They’re really lucky to have you Jamie, really. From the sounds of it, if they didn’t have you, they would be in the system living god knows where with god knows who. And, as for not forgiving yourself for what happened to our family, you need to Jamie. Fergus and I don’t blame you for anything.”

“Fergus doesna blame me because he doesna ken the whole story. What if... what if I tell him everything and he doesna want anything to do wi me? I canna handle that Claire. Dae ye ken how hard it is to hear him call me Jamie. To listen to him introduce me as his pal? When he first moved here, the first night, he came over to mine for dinner wi me and the lassies. Christ, I was over the moon to have all three of my weans sat around that table. He doesna see me as his da though. And I ken that’s my own doin’ Claire, but it’s so fucking hard. He’s so good wi the lassies. They love him to bits. But, they dinna feel like siblings. Fergus doesna see them as his sisters, and they dinna see him as a brother. I mean, why would they? It just kills me though Claire.” Jamie gets up from his seat and walks over to stand in front of the sink just looking out in to the darkness through the window. “Ye’ve done a grand job raising him though Claire. He’s a credit to ye. He’s a braw lad. Truly.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say here Jamie. I did do a good job raising him on my own, but it was tough. Some nights I would come home from school and cry all night long fearing I was letting him down because it was just the two of us.”

“Ye did what was best for the both of ye Claire. It wasna safe for ye’s to stay in Inverness. Hell, I dinna think anywhere in Scotland woulda been safe for ye’s.” Jamie turns back to face me. “Why was he crying when he came home from school? Did he no settle in well? Did he struggle?”

“No, he took to London like a duck to water. It was me who struggled. I wanted to start a fresh, so I asked Fergus how he would feel about me going to medical school. It was difficult, but we made it work.”

Jamie smiled at me and made his way back over to the kitchen table. “Medical school? Yer a doctor now?”

I nod my head and smile back at him, “Yes. I’m, well... I’m a surgeon. A general surgeon. That’s how I know Louise. We were in medical school together.”

“Ah, I see. Well, I’m verra proud of ye Claire. No an easy thing, raising a child on yer own. Never mind adding medical school and becoming a surgeon on top of that.”

I smile at him again. Not really knowing what else to say.

We fall back in to a silence again.

 

 

Jamie’s POV

It’s so awkward. We’re just sat here basically looking at one another and no talkin’. There is so much we should discuss, but we don’t seem to be able to.

Things have went better than I expected to be honest, but I really dinna want to push it and end up bein’ thrown out and she never wants to see me or speak to me again. I couldna handle that.

“Okay. Clearly we do need to talk about a lot of things. Neither of us seem to be able to do that yet, so why don’t you come back over after work on Monday after you and Fergus finish work, and the three of us will sit down and talk. It might be easier that way. If Fergus asks us direct questions he wants answered.” Claire suggests to me.

“Aye, aye. That could work. Could we make it maybe during the day instead? I plan on giving Fergus a couple days off next week anyway to make up for going to Edinburgh. I could work from home on Monday and come over and the three of us talk.”

“Yes, I’m sure that will work.” Claire says with a small nod.

“Right, settled then.” I say as Claire nods again. “When are ye goin’ home then?” I ask her warily.

“Um, Wednesday afternoon. I’m not sure when exactly, I booked my flight a while back.” She answers.

“Dae ye thing maybe ye and I could meet up again before ye leave? Just the two of us?”

“I’m not sure Jamie. I mean, what is there to say?”

“I havena been with anyone since you Claire. I never will be with another woman either. Ye are the only woman I have ever loved. The only woman I will ever love.”

“Jamie—“

“Do ye have someone special in yer life Claire?” I ask her. Praying the answers no.

Claire snaps her head up to look at me. She doesna look happy. “That isn’t really any of your business!” She spits out at me.

“I’m just curious. I’ve told ye a great deal tonight about my life over the last few years. The only thing ye told me is that yer a surgeon now.”

“And isn’t that MORE than you need to know?”

“Sassenach—“

“I SAID DON’T CALL ME THAT!” Claire screams at me before throwing her empty mug over my head and letting it smash on a cupboard door behind me.

I turn my head to see the mess and then look back at Claire, “What the HELL was that for?! Ye could of taken my heid aff there!”

She doesna answer me. She gets up from her chair runs up the stairs and slams what I assume is the bedroom door shut.

I forgot how angry she can get just over the smallest wee thing. Usually only me that brings this side out of her as well. I dinna mean to, I just... twenty one years is a lifetime to go wi’out the person ye love. I just want to ken more about her and the life she’s had wi’out me.

 

I find the dustpan and brush in the wee cupboard under the sink. I go over and sweep up the mess Claire left behind. I’m sure Fergus will no miss the mug, it is only a mug after all, but he’ll definitely want to ken how it came to be smashed and out in the bin.

After I tidy and clean up the kitchen, I slowly make my way upstairs to check on Claire. I can hear her crying through the bedroom door.

I knock on the door and ask her if I can come in.

She doesna answer.

I knock again, but she still doesna answer.

“I’m comin’ in Claire.” I warn her gently before pulling down the handle and slowly pushing the door open.

She curled up on the bed with tears trickling down her eyes.

“Claire. I’m sorry. I dinna mean to upset ye.” I say quietly as I walk on over to stand beside her bed.

Claire turns her back to me, slides her legs out of the side of the bed and sits up and stares at the wall.

I walk over to the other side of the bed to try and get her to look at me.

“Claire...”

“You need to leave now please.” Claire sobs.

“I’m no leavin’ ye like this Claire.” I tell her.

“Really? Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time you walked out the door leaving me in tears. At least this time I want you to go!”

“I’m no goin’ anywhere Claire. Not until I ken yer alright.” I tell her as I sit down on the bed beside her.

I half expect her to jump up and move away from me, but she doesna. She just sits there staring at the wall, trying to stay calm.

“I will be alright when you leave.” She tells me.

“Claire—“

“YOU, are the only person who upsets me like this. As soon as you walk out that door, I will be fine. I can’t do this Jamie. Not now. You need to go. Now. I promise we will speak on Monday. Only with Fergus here. I can’t be alone with you.”

“Why not?” I ask her.

She doesna answer. She just takes a deep breath and then stands to walk towards the door. I grab a hold of her wrist to try and get her to look at me, but she tries to pull away from me.

“Claire, I dinna think ye realise what’s it’s been like for me all these years since ye left me. Twenty one years without my wife. My son. My family. My heart. Dae ye ken what it’s like to just go around in the world only just existing?”

“Do I know what it’s like? Of course I fucking know what that’s like, but it wasn’t me who made that happen Jamie, it was you. YOU were the one who hung around with the wrong people instead of coming home to your wife and son. YOU were the one who went to prison for something you weren’t even guilty of. YOU were the one who decided to move in with Jenny and Ian. YOU were the one who decided you didn’t want Fergus and I to visit you. YOU were the one who didn’t want contact with me. YOU were the one who decided you wanted a divorce. YOU were the one that decided to stop contact with my son. See the pattern here Jamie? It was all YOU. Those were all your choices. I didn’t get a say. Fergus didn’t get a say. You say I left you? It was you who left me Jamie, long before you went to prison. You left me and our family the second you decided to join that horrific gang.” Claire breaks away from me and walks to the other side of the room. “To answer your question, no. There is no one special in my life. I haven’t been with anyone since you. I made my own choice when Fergus and I moved to London. I put my son first and did my very best to raise him properly. I went to medical school and became a surgeon and worked damn hard to build a career for myself. To provide a safe and loving home for my son. Fergus is my priority. Always has been, always will be.”

She storms out of the bedroom and locks herself in the main bathroom.

What she said is true. I canna argue. But I need her to ken how sorry I am for everythin’. That, even after all these years, I never stopped loving her. For the past twenty one years, I have been wi’out most of my heart. I got a part of it back ten years ago when I started to rebuild my relationship wi Fergus. But today, in the deli, the rest of my heart was put back together the second she walked through the door. It was like I could breathe properly for the first time in a long time.

I sit down at the bottom of her bed, waiting for Claire to come back.

This isna over.

 

 

Claire’s POV

 

I lock myself in the bathroom and try to calm myself down. Jamie Fraser is the only man in the world who can get me worked up like this.

I don’t have anything else to say to him. There is nothing he could possibly say to me that I would want to hear.

Our past is exactly that... it’s in the past. I’ve moved on. Mostly. I have a life that I am comfortable with. My son, good friends, fantastic career.

The best thing that could happen now is for Jamie to leave, we answer all of Fergus’ questions honestly when he’s home and then I go back to London on Wednesday as planned, and I never have to see Jamie Fraser again.

 

With a deep breath, I unlock the bathroom door and turn the knob. I walk down the hallway slowly to my bedroom. Jamie’s still here. He’s sat at the bottom of my bed with his elbows in his lap and his face in his hands. He’s just staring at the ground. I don’t think he even realises I’ve returned. As I make my way past Jamie to close the window, that’s when Jamie looks up and turns to face me. His eyes run from the top of my head right down to my feet. I’ve seen this lustful look in his eye many times before when we were so much younger.

Does he really think all that has been said tonight is forgotten?

If I could physically throw this man out of this house, I would.

“Come here Claire.” His voice is for, as he reaches for hand. I just scoff and make my way past him again to the other side of the bed.

Before I get far though, Jamie grabs a hold of me and pulls me towards him. “Claire. Look at me.” I don’t. I can barely stand the sight of him right now. He basically told me that I was the reason our family fell apart. That I abandoned HIM.

“I need to see ye Claire. Will ye please take these off?” He’s pulling at my oversize t shirt and tugging at the waistband of my sweatpants. I shiver at his question, but my brain won’t form words for me to speak.

Jamie starts to lift the hem of my t shirt up and over my head and drops it to the floor beside us. In my head I am angry, but for some reason, the words don’t come out to stop him. He hooks his fingers in to the waistband and pulls my sweatpants and knickers down. I don’t even know why, but instead of stopping him and pulling them back up, I step out of them.

He takes a step back to sit on the edge of the bed again and looks me over again. Same lustful look as before. “Christ Claire, I swear ye only got even more beautiful.” Jamie pulls me closer and starts to kiss my stomach whilst running his hands over my arse and then up and down my back. “So. fucking. beautiful. Claire.” He says between kisses.

The fact that I am stood in front of Jamie completely naked and exposed for the first time in over twenty years sends a tremor through my body. Jamie stands up in front of me and turns as he begins to remove his own shirt and trousers. I see the scars on his back and lightly use my index finger to trace them. This is only the second time I have seen these scars. The scars that were inflicted on him the night his gang let him take the blame for something he wasn’t involved with.

What the fuck am I doing?

He’s my ex husband.

We’re arguing. We’re fighting. We shouldn’t be doing THIS.

I kiss a couple of his scars before he turns around again to face me. I can’t look him in the eye. He’s hurt me. I know he didn’t mean to say it like that, but his words hurt me. His actions from so many years ago have hurt me. If I was a stronger person, I would step away and demand a proper and rational conversation with him, but I’m not apparently.

I run a single finger down the middle of his chest and down his stomach. I then move lower down to the “V” that dips below his waistline. I run my finger lightly along the edge between the elastic of his boxers and his skin, causing his arousal to grow beneath his boxers.

Jamie takes a gentle hold of my chin and tilts my head so I look at him. “I love ye Claire, more than anything in the world. I need ye Claire, ye ARE my world. My heart. I’m so sorry for lettin’ ye down. Please dinna push me away and run. Let me show ye how sorry I am, how much I love ye. I have no life but ye Claire. Well, and the weans as well.” I can see the love he has for me in his eyes. I never doubted it. Not for a second. Not even when he mentioned a divorce. I knew he was doing it to protect me because he loved me.

I nod my head, and in one swift movement before I know what’s happening, Jamie lifts me up and lays me down on the bed. He’s moving slowly. Slowly letting his tongue explore my body. My mouth. My Jaw. My neck. My collarbone. My chest. My breasts. My nipples. My stomach. There is a gentleness, but also a need with every touch, every kiss. He needs to possess me. Every bit of me.

He runs a hand up my leg and over my hip and waist until he reaches my breast and begins to knead it whilst his mouth takes responsibility for my other nipple. I let out a moan and I can feel him smile against my breast. He slides a hand down to reach in between my thighs. I shake and gasp at the slightest touch of him. My hips react to his movements and Jamie lifts his head from my breast to give me a look as if to ask if it’s okay to continue. I give him a nod before he slips a finger inside of me, and then adds a second.

Jamie brings his head up so he can whisper in my ear, “I canna wait to be inside ye Claire.”

I turn my head to face him and smile. “Then don’t.” I say simply.

He moves his face closer to mine and kisses my mouth before positioning himself between my thighs. He removes his fingers from my centre and in one thrust, Jamie Fraser is inside of me.

Once he is inside me though, he pauses. He doesn’t move for a few moments. He just stares down at me and tells me over and over again that he loves me. “Then show me.” I breathe out and it isn’t long before Jamie is moving inside of me. Slow and gentle. Just like the first time we made love when I was nineteen years old.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

I awake in the middle of the night to Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp laying in my arms. She looks so peaceful. Beautiful as ever. The last twenty years have definitely been kind to her.

The blinds and the curtains are open, so I can make out certain parts of Claire’s face as the moonlight hits her in certain areas. I could just stay here the rest of my life just looking at her. Watching her as she sleeps. Seeing how she’s changed. How she’s the same.

Never in a million years did I think I would have the opportunity to have my wife back in my arms like this again.

I lean down and place a soft and gentle kiss on her forehead.

I don’t ever want to lose my beautiful wife again.

 

 

Claire’s POV

Something smoothing over the top of my head wakes me. I slowly open my eyes to see Jamie laying next to me just watching me.

“Hey, close yer eyes and go back to sleep mo nighean donn. It’s still the middle of the night.” Jamie leans down to lightly brush his lips over mine.

I realise that Jamie and I are basically holding each other. My legs are literally wrapped around him. I pull myself away from him and grab my dressing gown from the chair next to my bed. I turn my back to Jamie and put on my dressing gown and get up off of the bed.

“Claire—“

“I’m sorry Jamie. I shouldn’t of let this happen. You should leave.” I say as I back myself away from the bed and stand against the wall. I can’t look at him.

It’s still dark, so I can’t really see much, but with the moonlight coming in through the window, I can see Jamie trying to reach for me.

He climbs out of the bed and turns on one of the lamps and walks towards me. I turn my head. I can’t look at him. Not now. What the hell did we do? What the hell did I do? How could I of let this happen?

As Jamie gets closer to me, I try to step back, but there is no where for me to go. “Jamie, please.” I beg him. “Just go.”

“Okay. I can see yer uncomfortable. I’m sorry lass. I didna mean to make ye feel so...” he trails of at the end. Jamie moves his hand up to my chin to turn my face to look at him. “I’m sorry Claire. But, I need ye to ken that I canna regret what happened. I love ye. I always have, and I always will. We should talk about this... when yer ready.” He moves in and kisses my forehead and let out a breath I didn’t realise I was holding in. “Get some more sleep Sassenach, and I’ll see ye tomorrow when we speak to Fergus.” Jamie kisses my cheek, turns to collect his clothes from the floor and then leaves.

I stand with my back against the wall, completely frozen, until I hear the front door shut.

Good. He’s gone.

 

Jamie’s POV

As I get to the bottom of the staircase, I feel terrible at the idea of leaving Claire here alone tonight. I could tell she was confused and regretted what had happened between us. She needs some space. She needs time to get her thoughts together. I can do that for her. I’ve spent twenty one years wi’out her. I could go another couple of days.

I make my way towards the front door and unlock it. I open it just enough, but realise I canna seem to walk out the door. I close the door over and make my way slowly and quietly over to the cupboard in the hallway where Marsali has put most of Fergus’ spare blankets. I dinna ken how many blankets the lass thinks he needs, but the house is filled with throws over the furniture.

I take one of the bigger, thicker blankets from the top shelf and make my way over to the couch. I’m quite a large man, but I’m sure the couch will be fine.

 

When I wake a few hours later, I’m half laying on the couch and half off. I pull myself up and stretch myself a bit before sitting back on the couch and resting my head in my hands. I dinna even hear Claire comin’ down the stairs until I hear a clatter coming from the kitchen. My first instinct is to run through and see what she’s done now. Claire’s always been a clutz when she’s distracted. I decide to keep away for the time being though. I dinna want to upset her any more just now.

 

 

Claire’s POV

It took me quite some time to get back to sleep. I obviously did eventually though. I wake up in bed alone and pray that what I think happened was just a weird dream. I know it wasn’t though. It was real. I ended up in bed with Jamie and we had sex. Not once. Not twice, but three fucking times. Well, I say sex, it was more like making love. All three times, it was slow and sensual. Yes, there were moments where we were biting and clawing at each other like animals, but it wasn’t like animalistic sex. It was...gentle, caring and loving. I doesn’t make sense. I know that. I also know that it shouldn’t of happened. I should of stopped him. If I asked him or told him to stop, he would have. I know that. So, why didn’t I say no?

Because you wanted to be with him Beauchamp.

You’ve only ever wanted to be with him.

No one else could ever come close.

 

I grab my phone and see that it’s late morning.

Shit. I never sleep this late. I suppose I did over exert myself last night though.

 

I reluctantly slide out of my warm bed, grab my dressing gown and make my way down to use the bathroom before going downstairs to the kitchen to make a very much needed mug of coffee.

I don’t even know how I managed it, but when picking up a teaspoon from the drawer, a piece of the broken plastic cutlery tray got caught on my sleeve, and when I went to move my hand from the drawer with the spoon, the tray started to come with me. Some of the cutlery fell out in to the drawer. I quickly tried to untangle my gown from the broken piece of plastic. I put the fallen cutlery back in to the tray and place it back in the drawer. I make a mental note to buy Fergus a new cutlery tray.

 

I make my coffee and then walk through to the living room so I can see what rubbish is on tv this morning.

As I walk through the door, I almost jump right out of my skin as I see Jamie sat up on the couch with a crumpled blanket beside him.

“What the bloody hell are you doing here?!” I shout at him. “I asked you to leave!”

“I ken Sassenach, I’m sorry. I just... I couldna walk out that door.” Jamie tells me as he stands up, but thankfully doesn’t make an attempt to walk over to me. “What dae ye fancy for breakfast? Ye canna just drink coffee. I could make us omelettes or somethin’?”

“No. I won’t ask you again Jamie, just please leave.”

“Look Claire, I can see ye dinna want me here, and that’s fine. We do need to talk about last night whether ye want to or no. Why don’t ye sit down and I’ll make us breakfast. After we eat... and talk, I’ll get out o’ yer hair. I’ll come back tomorrow though to speak to Fergus wi’ ye.”

I nod my head silently as Jamie makes his way past me to start on breakfast. I follow him through a few minutes later. It still makes me feel uneasy how comfortable he seems to be in Fergus’ home.

“I’m going for a shower. You... you stay down here and do th... that. I’ll be back soon.” I don’t give Jamie a chance to respond, I just turn on my heel as quickly as possible and run back upstairs to take a shower.

This is such a bad idea. We shouldn’t be alone together. Last night only proved that. We ended up in bed. Together. I mean what the actual hell?!

 

 

Jamie’s POV

When Claire comes down after her shower, she’s dressed in a pair of figure hugging jeans, similar to the ones she wore yesterday at the deli, and a sweatshirt. Her hair is still damp, but she tied her lovely curly brown locks up in one of those messy buns Marsali is always talking about or doing with her own hair. This look suits Claire. She looks at home here. I just wish she was a little more relaxed.

We sit at the table and enjoy the tomato and basil omelettes I made for us. I can tell I’m going to need to start the conversation, but I don’t ken what else I can say. I love her and I canna regret what we did last night. It felt right. I ken she felt it too, otherwise...

 

“...I didna exactly force myself on ye Claire. Ye coulda said no.”

“I know that. I should of said no, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. And I’m mad at myself because I didn’t when I should have.” She tells me.

“But why? It felt right Claire. What we have... this thing between us—“

“Jamie...”

 

I dinna recall what happened next, but the next thing she’s aff on one. Screaming and yelling at me and pushing me away when I try to calm her down. This goes on for a while. I end up screaming and yelling back at her. At one point I hit my fist of a wall.

“What on earth is going on in here?!”

Claire and I both turn to the kitchen doorway to see our son stood there with shock and concern written all over his face.

What’s he doing home so early?

 

 

Fergus’ POV

When I walk up towards the front door of my house, it’s like WWIII is kicking off inside. I unlock the door and open it and quickly rush in, following the screaming and yelling of my mother and Jamie to the kitchen.

My mother lifts her hand to smack Jamie across the face. He takes a step back so she misses and then he turns to punch his fist in to my kitchen wall.

“What on earth is going on in here?!” I shout loudly to be heard.

Jamie and mum just turn to look at me.

“Jamie was just leaving, weren’t you?” My mum says so softly, I could barely hear her.

“No one is going anywhere until I get answers.” I tell them.

Jamie goes to sit down at the kitchen table whilst my mother excuses herself for a moment. I go to sit across from Jamie at the table.

“Have you hurt her?” I ask him. I’ve heard Jamie and mum argue before. Never at this level, though, something tells me that this level is nothing new.

“Not physically. No. She had a fair few goes at me, but I managed to step out the way.”

“I noticed.” I scoff.

“Where’s Marsali? What ye daeing hame so soon?” Jamie asks me.

“Finally remember your daughter then?” I ask him with a bite in my tone.

“Excuse me?”

“Marsali called and text you last night, but you didn’t respond. She tried again multiple times this morning and had no answer. Joanie was worried too when she couldn’t get a hold of you. I cancelled a meeting with Lord John this afternoon so I could bring Marsali home. I left her at your place. She was going to call round some people to see if they’d heard from you. I’ll call her and tell her that you’re here and you’re okay.” I don’t wait for a response, I just pull my phone out and quickly call Marsali before mum comes back.

 

When mum eventually comes back, she doesn’t sit at the table straight away, she goes to make herself and I cup of coffee before coming to sit down beside me.

“Dinna fash Claire, I’ll get my own, shall I?” Jamie asks with quite a bit of venom in his voice.

“If you want.” Mum shrugs.

 

Something has definitely happened. Why is Jamie even here? How did he find out mum was here?

 

Jamie comes back to sit across from me at the table and begins to fill me in on the fact that he saw mum yesterday at the deli when he was there catching up on some emails. Apparently they didn’t speak though. Jamie came by the house before going to Joanie’s dance concert, but mum wasn’t in. Turns out, Joanie’s dance teacher is my mums old friend from medical school, Louise. I had absolutely no idea. Mum had gone to the concert last night and ran in to Jamie at the bar. Apparently they spoke briefly, and then mum went to find her seat again. Louise, not knowing the connection between my mum and Jamie, got them speaking again after the concert and Jamie ended up driving mum home.

That’s where they stop.

“Doesn’t explain why you’re here again this morning. Or, did you stay? Still doesn’t explain the outburst between the two of you when I walked in. And it definitely doesn’t explain you not answering your phone last night and today.” I say, aiming the last part specifically at Jamie.

“Your mother was having difficulty seeing to get the key in the lock. I wanted to wait until she got in the house okay, but I saw her rummaging about in her wee bag for what I assume was her phone so she could see to work the key. I got out of the car and made my way over and unlocked the door for her. I begged her to let me in so we could talk. Well, we talked, we argued. Just a little mind, no to this level. Oh, um, ye might be a mug down by the way.” When Jamie said that, mums head lifted straight up from the table and gave Jamie a really disapproving look.

“Sorry sweetheart, I just got a little frustrated when Jamie started asking about my personal life, so I accidentally threw a mug.” Mum explains to me. “Not directly at him.” She adds quickly. “I threw it past his head and it smashed on the cupboard. Sorry darling. I’ll buy you a new one.”

“It’s alright, it’s only a mug. As long as no one was hurt.” I say.

“Nah. No one was hurt. Well, except yer mam’s feelings. She tore up them stairs and slammed the door shut. I cleaned up the kitchen and that, giving her time to cool down and then I went to check on her. She was upset. I didna want to leave her like that. We spoke again a bit and then—“

“Don’t you dare!” My mother screeches at Jamie through gritted teeth.

“He’s an adult Claire.” Jamie answers back to her.

“Don’t you DARE!” She shouts and then turns to face me, “I asked him to leave MULTIPLE times, but he didn’t.”

I turn to look at Jamie. “Aye, she did, but I couldna leave her like that. Anyway, she’s just angry because at some point, she stopped asking me to leave. We ended up in bed together.” Jamie says casually as if this is the most normal thing in the world.

“I’m sorry? You did what? Jamie, she’s my mum!”

“I ken that fine lad, she was my wife first though.” Jamie answers.

“I’m not your wife any more though. Haven’t been for a long time. It was a mistake and it shouldn’t of happened.” Mum explains to Jamie before turning her head back to me again. “Look sweetheart, I woke up during the night with Jamie next to me and I told him it was a mistake and asked him to leave. He did. Or... at least I thought he did. I heard the front door close and I assumed he left. When I came down this morning, he was sat on the couch.”

I look to Jamie for an explanation. “Look lad, she asked me to leave and I did. I wanted to give her the space she needed, but Fergus, ye dinna understand. She was... she was confused and annoyed with herself. I didna want to leave her like that. I care too much for her to just walk out on her in that kinda state.”

“It wouldn’t of been the first time though.” Mum spits at him.

“Alright, I’ve heard enough.” I say as I put a hand in the air to stop them saying another word. “We’re going to take a break. Jamie, you’re going home and get cleaned up and speak to your daughter and let her see you’re alright. Come back in a while though. You two are going to tell me what happened between you twenty years ago. After this though...” I wave my hand between the two of them, “I don’t think I need too much information. All I want to know is why you went to prison Jamie and why you got divorced. If you want Jamie, you can say why you stopped contact with me, but I’m fine if you don’t. I’ve moved on from that part. But, if you are both going to be a part of my life, I need to know what happened between the two of you. I don’t want to be caught in the middle again.”

Chapter Text

Tuesday 20th October 1998

 

It was Claire’s Twenty Seventh birthday. Her husband Jamie had promised her a special weekend away for the weekend before her birthday, but instead, Jamie had ended up on a pub crawl after work with some of his friends, not coming home until well after midnight that Saturday. Jamie had spent the rest of the weekend apologising over and over again to his wife and promising to make up for it on her actual birthday. Jamie had booked a table at Claire’s favourite restaurant in Inverness, and even made the reservation a little earlier, so they could take their nine year old son with them on this special occasion. It would be the first time in months they have done anything as a family.

 

Back in February, Jamie had got involved in a pub fight but accident. Jamie had popped in to the pub on his way home from work for a quick pint. Usual on a Friday evening. The pub wasn’t necessarily busy, but there was a fair few folk hanging around the bar area. Just as Jamie finished his pint, he noticed one of the customers antagonising one of the bar maids. The lass must of only been in her early twenties, if that. Jamie went over to try and stop the fellow from going any further. The man had soon left the pub after a few words from Jamie Fraser. What Jamie didn’t know, the man was waiting for him outside. After Jamie spoke with the lass to make sure she was okay, he made his way outside to head for home to see his wife and son. Not two seconds after Jamie made it out the pub door, he was jumped by the man inside. Jamie was quite a tall, muscular man, so he was able to hold his own. He wasn’t looking for a fight, but that’s what was happening. Soon enough though, a group of three other young men jumped in to help Jamie. The Grant brothers. Over the next few months, the Grant brothers would be hanging around with Jamie Fraser quite a bit.

 

Jamie made it home just in time for a quick shower before taking his wife and son out to dinner to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Claire was a little annoyed that Jamie had promised he would be home by four thirty since their reservation was for six. Claire wanted to spend some time with her husband and their son before going out to dinner. Since Jamie didn’t make it home until quarter past five, Claire was not in the least bit impressed. Jamie had promised he would make it up to her for ruining their weekend away.

When they got to the restaurant, there was no such reservation under the name Fraser and unfortunately, it would be another couple of hours for a table to become available. Claire felt really embarrassed. Jamie was adamant he made the booking and was arguing with the staff. Poor Fergus didn’t have a clue what was happening. His mother took him outside and the two of them made their way down the street to a sit in chippy. It took Jamie a fair wee while to realise his wife and son were no longer by his side. As he made his way out to the street, he knew exactly where Claire would of taken Fergus.

Jamie strolled in to the chippy and sat down across from his wife and next to his son. Jamie gave Claire an apologetic look, but this was getting beyond ridiculous now. Jamie was spending too much time with the Grant brothers and their gang, and not enough time with his family. Claire had had enough. She tried speaking with Jamie about his change in attitude and the fact he was hardly ever at home any more, but Jamie honestly didn’t see the problem. As far as he was concerned, it was just like Claire going round to Jenny’s with Mary and catching up with friends.

It wasn’t the same though. The Grant brothers weren’t friends of Jamie’s. They weren’t friends with anyone. They were a gang. They did awful, awful things to people. They had been arrested way too many times for Claire’s liking. But, nothing seemed to stick. Every time they got arrested, they were released the very next day due to a lack of evidence. They weren’t stupid these Grants. They were smart and calculating. The only person who couldn’t see that, was Jamie.

After the Fraser’s had their unexpected chippy tea, they went straight home. Fergus suggested they watch a film together before his bedtime. Claire was thrilled at the idea, but Jamie had other plans. Jamie decided to go out to the pub and meet his “friends”. Another thing Claire had noticed lately, Jamie was spending more and more time at the pub these days. Drinking when he should of been at work.

 

What Claire didn’t know, Jamie was fired from his job as a journalist at one of the local Inverness newspapers. Oh, Jamie had another job, but not one his wife would approve of. Jamie Fraser was now working with the Grants. It started off as smuggling some wine and some whisky in and out of the country, but very soon it became more. As well as alcohol, there were drugs. Heroin to be precise. Jamie didn’t seem to care. It was a job that allowed him to provide for his family.

 

21st October 1998

Jamie woke up around ten in the morning and made his way downstairs to find a crying Claire curled up on the couch. Claire had just gotten a phone call from one of her friends from work at the hospital, who had informed her of rumours of Jamie being involved in the Grant’s illegal dealings. At first she couldn’t believe it. Not her Jamie. Not the young man she fell in love with when she was nineteen years old. The man she married. The man who she shared a son with. But, the Jamie who was standing in front of her right now, wasn’t that Jamie. He wasn’t her Jamie.

When Claire finally calmed herself down, and steadied her breathing, she asked her husband of five years what the hell was going on? She begged him for the truth. Jamie tried to assure her it was just rumours and she shouldn’t believe such nonsense, but he could tell that it was him she didn’t believe. Jamie had no choice but to come out with the truth.

Jamie and Claire argued most of the morning before Jamie stormed off, leaving his wife heartbroken and hysterically crying collapsed against the couch.

Jamie didn’t come home that night.

Or the next night.

 

23rd October 1998

Jamie Fraser walked through the front door of his family home in Inverness at five thirty in the morning. He looked tired. Exhausted even. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t even hungover. He was just... numb.

He made his way up the stairs and went for a quick shower before sliding in behind his wife in bed. He pulled Claire as close to him as possible. Her back resting against his chest. He wrapped his left arm around her waist and held on to her stomach as he tried to drift off to sleep. His wife didn’t even wake when he joined her, but she did melt in to his body. Fitting against him like she always had. They hadn’t slept like this in months Jamie realised before sleep took a hold of him. They hadn’t been the same in months, and it was all down to him.

When Claire woke a couple of hours later, she was pleasantly surprised to find herself wrapped in her husbands arms as he slept. Turned herself around to look at him. He didn’t look peaceful in his sleep, but at least he was in fact sleeping. Claire had noticed over the past couple of months that he would spend most of his nights tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. This morning he seemed to look content though. Claire reached over to run her thumb lightly across his cheek. As she did, the corner of his lip turned up in to a smile. Claire loved that smile. She hadn’t seen it in quite some time.

Claire also noticed that her husband had obviously showered before he came to bed, whatever time that had been. He didn’t reek of booze and he didn’t seem to have been out in a drinking bender with the gang like she expected.

Where had he been then?

 

Claire got herself up and showered before heading downstairs to make breakfast for her and Fergus. Claire’s back shift wasn’t starting until four, so she decided to send Fergus off to His Auntie Jenny and Uncle Ian’s for a few hours so she and Jamie could talk.

 

When Jamie appeared not long after Claire got home from dropping off Fergus at his Aunts, Jamie broke down in tears in his wife’s arms and apologised over and over again for putting her through hell and back these past few months.

Jamie opened up about how he came to know the Grant’s. How he got caught up in the fact of having friends around his own age, rather than just hanging around with his distant cousins. Claire could understand that. She knew it was important for Jamie to have friends of his own outside of the family and his work. She just wished it wasn’t the Grant’s and their gang.

In the beginning, Jamie didn’t think they were all too bad. They jumped in to help him in that fight outside the pub. They didn’t need to do that, but he was grateful. As much as he tried to walk away from the man he found himself fighting against, the man wouldn’t let Jamie go.

There was no harm in hanging around with the Grant’s, Jamie thought. He was grateful to them and they lads were around his own age. It made Jamie feel good. It wasn’t until they encouraged him to spend more and more time out drinking with them and encouraged him to bunk of work. Jamie didn’t even realise that he was seeing less and less of his wife and son. Jamie didn’t know that his son would cry himself to sleep some nights because Jamie hadn’t been home in a couple of days.

When Jamie lost his job, the Grant’s told him not to worry. He was part of them now and they would take care of him. They offered Jamie a job smuggling a little alcohol here and there. Jamie wasn’t sure to begin with, knowing his wife would be devastated and angry if she were to find out, but after a few days thinking, and drinking, Jamie decided to take the Grant’s up on the offer so he could provide for his wife and their son. He didn’t want them to suffer for his mistakes.

Soon the Grant’s talked Jamie in to smuggling some drugs as well. Jamie wasn’t aware that they were actually drugs. Jamie was told they were just simple packages. It took a little while for Jamie to find out the truth, by which point, it was too late. The Grant’s had pulled him in way too deep.

After the argument with Claire the other day, Jamie felt terrible leaving the house knowing the state he left his wife in. Claire was begging him not to walk out that door. She was hysterical, but Jamie just upped and left his wife all alone. On his way to meet the Grant’s Jamie started thinking about what Claire had tried to say. She was right, he had put the Grant’s before their family. He was missing out on spending time with his family. Jamie couldn’t remember the last time he played football in the park with Fergus and his friends. He couldn’t remember the last time Claire wasn’t disappointed in him for something. He even put a night out with the Grant’s before his own wife’s birthday weekend away. Who does that? He was so sure he made that reservation at the restaurant, but apparently not. He did have a bit to drink when he thought of the idea, so maybe he didn’t call?

When Jamie had got to the Grant’s that day, he had decided he wanted out. He needed to be there for his family and put them first. The Grant’s didn’t like this idea though. They made it clear that it was too late, and Jamie was in almost as deep as them. Once he was in, there was no way he was getting out... unless it was in a box.

Jamie had considered that idea for a moment, but then wondered what the Grant’s would do to his family when he wasn’t around. He knew by then how bad the Grant’s truly were. He knew that they would soon start harassing Claire and Fergus, possibly his sister and brother in law as well. Jamie had no choice, but to stick with the Grant’s. He had no way out. He was stuck.

 

“Claire, if I could get out, I would. But, if I try... Claire, they’d kill me. Then they’d come after ye and the lad too. I canna let that happen. I canna lose ye’s. I ken ave been a terrible husband, a terrible father lately, but I need ye to ken that I do love ye. Both of ye.” Jamie pleaded with his wife to try and understand.

She did. “Jamie, I know. But, we can’t keep going like this. YOU can’t keep going like this. It doesn’t just effect you and me, it’s effecting our son as well. He misses you. He NEEDS you Jamie.”

“I ken.”

 

Not an hour after Jamie and Claire talked through their issues and their feelings, there was a knock at the door. One of the Grant brothers.

Some of the gang had been arrested and Jamie was needed to work that day. Jamie couldn’t refuse. Jamie kisses his wife goodbye as she silently begged him not to leave her. But of course, he had no choice.

Claire called in sick to work that day and waited patiently for her husband to return home. Fergus returned sometime after lunch, and the two of them kept busy by preparing the dinner for later and doing some housework.

Jamie made it home just in time for dinner, and they sat down as a family and enjoyed the meal together. Fergus was excited to spend some time with his father. Jamie was happy to spend time with his son and see him so happy. After dinner, the three of them settled in the living room to watch a film.

It wasn’t long before Fergus fell asleep and Jamie carried him up to bed. As he did, Claire noticed the uncomfortable pain her husband seemed to be in.

When Jamie returned to her, she asked him what was wrong. Jamie tried to pass it off as nothing of importance, but Claire being the stubborn woman she is, wouldn’t let it drop.

Jamie reluctantly removed his black hoodie and then his shirt, and turned his back to his wife.

She let out a gasp.

In all her years as working as a nurse, she had never seen anything like this before.

Jamie’s back was covered from top to bottom in seeping cuts. His back was literally covered in blood. Claire tried to talk Jamie in to calling the police and going to the hospital, but he refused, claiming he didn’t know who it was that attacked him and that it would be safer for her and Fergus for him not to tell anyone. He asked, begged his wife to clean up as much as she could and just let it drop.

It broke her heart seeing Jamie in such a way.

 

A couple of hours later, there was a knock at the door. The police were there to speak to Jamie. They refused to talk at the house though and asked for Jamie to accoutrements to the police station. Fergus had woken at the sound of more voices downstairs and went down to see what was going on. Jamie went to the station with the two officers, leaving his wife and son at home wondering what the hell was going on.

 

Jamie arrived home a few hours later. Claire was wide awake sitting on the couch cradling her sleeping son beside her.

“Ye stayed up all this time?” Jamie asked her quietly as he stepped towards her.

“I wasn’t the only one. He only just fell asleep a few moments ago.” She replied.

“I’ll take him up to his room and then ye and I can go to bed ourselves, aye?”

Claire nodded. She wasn’t sure Jamie should be carrying Fergus to bed with the state his back was in, but he insisted that he was fine.

Once Claire and Jamie were in bed, she asked him about what happened. He said there was a knife fight down near the River Ness. The a Grant’s were supposedly involved and someone had mentioned Jamie. Jamie wasn’t under arrest though because there was no evidence to place him at the scene, and since Jamie wasn’t actually there, he couldn’t tell the police anything of interest.

 

24th October 1998

Claire and Jamie woke to a banging at the door. When Jamie went downstairs to see who it was, Fergus had followed him without Jamie noticing. It was two of the Grant brothers. Claire had pulled Fergus back and took him back upstairs whilst Jamie spoke to them.

They were there to give Jamie a warning. They had informed Jamie that certain things have been said to the police and they would probably be on their way to arrest Jamie soon for being involved in the knife attack. The Grant’s were doing this because Jamie made it clear he wanted out. They framed him for something he didn’t do.

The eldest of the Grant brothers made it clear that if Jamie said anything about them or their involvement or their dealings, Jamie would be attending his wife and sons funerals.

The Grant brothers were right. As Claire and Jamie argued over the gang and the best way to deal with it all, the police arrived and arrested Jamie for GBH.

Claire was distraught as she witnessed the police leading her husband away.

He didn’t do it. He was innocent. He was framed.

She shouted out to the officers pleading with them to let her husband go, but they didn’t.

 

 

26th October 1998

Jamie was released from the station pending further inquiry. Apparently, the police only had the word of the Grant brothers and their gang, as well as the victim of the assault who was laying in hospital with a non fatal stab wound to the leg. The weapon had not been found.

Whilst Jamie was kept at the station for questioning, the police did a very thorough search of the Fraser’s home looking for any piece of evidence they could use, but there was nothing. Of course, because Jamie Fraser was innocent.

When Jamie came home though, he and Claire argued yet again. This time causing Jamie to drink heavily during their heated exchange and then throw his fist in to the dining room table.

Both Jamie and Claire had tempers on them. Not often, but sometimes. It would take a lot for these tempers to come out though, but no matter how angry or frustrated they were, they only used words to hurt each other.

Jamie had packed a bag and declared he was going to stay with Jenny and Ian whilst all this was sorted. Jamie was pretty sure he was going to end up in prison on a GBH charge. He was right.

Fergus came home to find the house in a bigger mess than the police had left it when they did their search. He could tell his parents had a disagreement. Claire stood back and watched with tears in her eyes as Jamie explained to their son that he was going to go and stay with his Auntie Jenny and Uncle Ian for a while. Fergus was just as upset as Claire and Jamie. He begged his father not to leave him. It broke Jamie’s heart, but he promised he would come and see Fergus all the time and he would be welcome at Jenny and Ian’s whenever he wanted.

 

2nd November 1998

Jamie came by Claire’s to pick up some more of his belongings. He knocked on the door, but Claire didn’t answer. He knew she was home because her car was in the drive. He knew she didn’t just come off a night shift because she was now on her second day of her three days off. Jamie used his own key to let himself in. He called out, but there was no answer.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he heard the muffled sounds of someone crying. He called out for Claire again. She eventually responded by telling him to leave. Jamie followed the sound down to their bedroom and in to their en suite bathroom. Claire was laying on the floor, curled up in to a ball holding herself.

Jamie panicked at the sight of her and ran to kneel beside her. Trying to calm her and get her to sit up. She wouldn’t though. She kept sobbing and sobbing and refused to look at him.

“Sassenach, Claire. Please, tell me what’s wrong? What’s happened? Has someone been round? Was it the Grant’s?”

“You left me!” Claire cried. “You said you wouldn’t, but you did. And now... now...”

“Claire, what is it? Tell me!” Jamie demanded.

“I’m pregnant.” She said. “I’M FUCKING PREGNANT!” She screamed at him before sitting up. “You’ve left me. You’re going to prison for god knows how long for something you didn’t even do and now... I’m pregnant with your fucking child. As if it isn’t bad enough forcing Fergus to go through this, we have to add another child in to this whole mess as well.”

Jamie moved himself to sit beside Claire and gathered her in to his arms and held her. “Ah mo ghràidh. This child is a blessing. They are a gift. A gift of the love that ye and I share.”

 

Claire couldn’t get her head around how Jamie could be so happy about the pregnancy when he knew there was a strong possibility he could be locked away for years. And, instead of spending his last days at home with her, he chose to live at his sisters. As far as Claire could see, he DID leave her. And not just when he moved out, but when he first got involved with the Grant’s and their dodgy dealings.

 

8th November 1998

Jamie Fraser was sent down for five years for GBH. The weapon involved in the attack was found with Jamie’s prints all over it. How they got there, no one knew. Jamie was offered a deal. Tell all he knew on the Grant’s and the sentence could be reduced, but knowing what type of people the Grant’s were, Jamie refused. He couldn’t put his wife and children in danger like that.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

So, Jamie was involved with a gang. How did I not know this? I knew he fell in with the wrong crowd of people, I had no idea he was in this deep though.

He was a smuggler. Alcohol, drugs.

I remember him changing suddenly. He was coming home stinking of booze, but he never made me feel uncomfortable. I was just always happy to see him home.

He went to prison for something he wasn’t even involved in. I knew that. I didn’t know why though. He was framed, for GBH. A knife was found with his fingerprints on it, but no one knows how.

He was offered a bloody deal to cut his sentence shorter, but he didn’t take it. By protecting mum and I from that gang, he was protecting the bastards that put him in that place.

 

“So, uh... who decided that I couldn’t come and visit you in prison then?” I asked my mother and Jamie.

“T’was me. I didna want you, or yer mother to see me in a place like that. I kent the Grant’s had... well, they kent a few folk inside. I didna want to draw much attention to myself or the two of ye. I’m sorry lad, truly. T’was the only way I could think of to protect ye fae a distance. I ken it was tough on ye, it was tough on me tae. To not see ye’s every day broke my heart Fergus.” Jamie explains to me.

I look over to him sat on the couch next to mum. They both have tears in their eyes, I can see this is painful for them. It’s painful for me too. For so long I haven’t seen Jamie as my father, because he simply hasn’t been. But, all this talk about the past, sitting here with both of them together, it’s like sitting down with both my parents for the first time in twenty one years. And, it really bugs me that I lost my father simply because what? He was so desperate to have friends?!

I get he didn’t know what he was involved with until it was too late, but from what I can make out, mum stood by him as much as possible. What happened? Why did she suddenly decide she couldn’t wait five years for him to be released? We were a family, but then they divorced. This is the part that really makes no sense to me.

“Okay. I get all that, I think. What happened next? With the two of you? Why did you write to me and not mum?” I ask Jamie.

“Yer mother kept requesting to visit me. Just before Christmas, I accepted. She came to see me and... Fergus... it was so difficult. To see yer mam sat right in front of me, tears stinging her eyes. She was so upset and there was nothing I could do to make it better. To make HER feel better. I couldna touch her. I couldna hold her. I couldna tell her everythin’ would be alright, because I wasna sure that it would be.” Jamie takes a deep breath before continuing. “I told yer mam that she wasna to come again. She was to move on wi’ her life wi’out me. It wasna an easy decision, but I couldna bare yer mam to sit back and wait on me for five years. It coulda easily been longer. Prison wasna a safe place. Especially when yer an enemy of the Grant’s. I told yer Ma it would be too difficult. I promised I would write to ye all the time, but I had to cut ties wi’ her. If the Grant’s thought me and yer Mam were no longer together, they might no come after the two o’ ye. The followin’ year, I sent a letter to ye mam askin’ her to come and see me. She did. I told her that I thought it was best if we divorced. She shouldna have to put her life on hold for me.”

“I knew why he suggested the divorce. It was to protect you and I from any danger that may of came our way. I reluctantly agreed. I wasn’t happy about it but, as soon as I left that visit, I went to find a solicitor and I filed for divorce. It was your fathers decision. Everything was your fathers decision. So, instead of waiting for him to file for divorce from me, I got in there first. And then I moved you and I down to London.” Mum explains her side. Not that it was much of a side. As she said, Jamie made all the decisions for us and our family.

“But she was your wife. She was your everything.” I tell Jamie. “There are some parts of my childhood that I don’t quite remember clearly, especially around that time, but I remember how in love you two were. You literally lived for each other. I had never seen a couple more in love than the two of you.”

“Like I said Fergus, it wasna an easy decision. But, if I had to make it all over again, I would. If it meant protecting you and yer mam, I would do it again in a heart beat. NOTHING mattered more to me than you and yer mother. Nothing.” Jamie says as he tries to search my face to make eye contact with him. I can’t though, I just look past him to watch mum.

“Fine. I don’t think I need to hear any more. Thank you both for being honest with me. I know it wasn’t easy, but I really appreciate knowing the truth.” I say as I stand up. Mum and Jamie stand as well. “I’m heading out for a while. Going for a drive. I’ll be home later. Much later. Don’t wait up.” I turn and walk towards the door before turning back to look at them both. “I know that wasn’t easy, but I think it was good to talk. I think you two should do the same though, with each other. There is a lot that you two need to discuss. Start with the past, start with last night, I don’t care. Just get it sorted please. Like I said, I don’t want to be in the middle. You are my mum, and you are one of my best mates Jamie. Talk. Please.” I say, leaving them both behind as I walk out the door.

 

When I get out to the car, the first thing I do is call Marsali before even closing the car door.

“How did it go?” She asks as soon as she answers her phone.

“Well, it went. It was good... I suppose. I know why he did what he did, and I guess I kinda understand. I feel better knowing the truth. I couldn’t stay in that house though. Get yourself ready, we’re going out.” I tell Marsali as I get ready to start the car.

“Where are we going?” Marsali asks me.

“I don’t know. I don’t really care, I just need to get away from here. I need you with me though.”

 

Marsali and I end up driving down to Ayr. It might be October, and pretty chilly outside, but I buy us both a couple of ice lollies and we park the car down near the beach just looking out to the deep blue water. It’s October, so nothing much to see, but it’s nice. Just Marsali and I sitting talking. Sitting in silence. It’s just nice being in her company.

“Ye sure yer okay?” Marsali asks me with a concerned look on her face.

“Yes. Why?” I ask as I turn to face her.

“There’s something yer holding back. What is it?”

“I told you everything they told me. I didn’t leave anything out.”

“I get that Fergus, but it YOU that’s holding something back now. What is it?”

I know what she’s talking about, I just don’t want things to turn awkward between us. If I don’t open up though, she’ll just keep pushing and pushing until I do.

“It was just strange, I suppose.” I tell her.

“I’m sure it was.” Marsali reaches over to take my hand in hers.

“No, I mean... this is so strange saying this to you because he’s YOUR da and... well... you and I are...” I trail off not really knowing what to say.

“Fergus, what is it? Tell me, please.”

“It’s just, when the three of us were sat there and they were opening up to me about the past, it was like sitting there speaking to BOTH my parents. Jamie wasn’t my friend, he was my father. It’s insane because that... he hasn’t been a father to me in so long, but for them couple of hours, it was like I had a dad again. I had to leave, I had to get away. I needed to see you, but...”

“Fergus, Jamie loves you. Not as just a mate, he loves ye like a son because you ARE his son. Ye don’t see it, but he actually cringes every time you call his name. The man is heartbroken every time ye introduce him to someone as yer pal. Even after all these years Fergus, as far as Jamie Fraser is concerned, you ARE still his son. I wouldna be surprised if he still thought of yer mam as his wife. The lord kens he’s no been with any other woman since he’s been in my life. I doubt he was with anyone before either. He loves Claire. Always has. Always will.”

“Things were complicated enough when you and I got together because Jamie is my friend. I didn’t honestly think about it in any other way—“

“Fergus Beauchamp, I love you, and you love me. WE are meant to be together. We’re not doing anything wrong. Jamie adopted ye, and even if he didn’t, he isn’t my biological dad. We’re not doing anything wrong Fergus.” Marsali places her hand behind my head and pulls me towards her so she can kiss me. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” I say back before pressing my forehead to hers.

 

 

When we get back to Glasgow later that night, I drop Marsali off home, but the house is in darkness.

“Do you think Jamie is still at my place?” I ask Marsali. She had text Jamie after I picked her up to say she was going out for the day and he said that was fine, but she hasn’t heard from him since.

“Nah, he’ll be away to get Joanie or something. Do ye no want to see him or something?” She asks me.

“It’s not that, I just... I think once mum is gone, things will be better. I think with the two of them being with me today, it was just a bit strange I suppose.”

“Dae ye think Claire will go home though? Ye did say they spent the night together.”

“Mum didn’t seem to want it to be anything more. I guess they didn’t really have proper closure did they? I mean, he went to prison and they divorced whilst he was inside. By the time he got out, he hadn’t contacted me in almost two years and mum and I were living down in London. He didn’t make an effort to try and find us then. Maybe that was just mums idea of closing that chapter, I don’t know. To be honest, I REALLY don’t want to be thinking about my parents’ sex life.” I chuckle.

Marsali smiles at me.

“What?” I ask her.

“You said your parents. Does this mean that you and Jamie’s relationship is gonna change? I am all for it if that’s what you want. I ken he would love to have his son back properly. And like I said, it doesnt change anything between us. We love each other and we have a right to be happy. I don’t mind referring to Jamie as Jamie if it makes it easier for you.” She tells me.

“No. Oh god no. Jamie is YOUR dad. He hasn’t been a father to me in a long time. He’s your dad Marsali. Yours and Joanie’s. It was just strange with him, mum and I together again today. Like I said, things will be easier when mum goes home and things go back to normal.” I run my thumb over her cheek, “Jamie adores you. The man lives for you and your sister. Jamie and I will be fine. I promise.”

I give Marsali a passionate kiss goodbye and then after I walk her in to her empty house, I drive back to my place.

Jamie’s car is gone.

Thank god. Marsali must be right. He must of gone to get Joanie.

 

When I walk in the house, it’s quiet.

Good.

Walking in to the argument between Jamie and Mum was just insane this morning. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. I’ve certainly walked in to the house or a room after they’ve argued, but very rarely during. It was never that level of intense though.

When I walk in to the living room to just collapse on the couch, I realise I can’t. Mum is curled up on the couch holding herself and crying so damn much. I haven’t seen her this upset since after Jamie went to prison.

I rush over to her and kneel down by the couch and try to pull her up to a sitting position to help her calm down and breathe properly.

Once I finally get her to sit up, I slide up next to her and hold her.

“Mum, what happened? Tell me, please.” She doesn’t answer me though.

After about twenty minutes, she still hasn’t said anything. She’s stopped crying though. Mum pulls herself up from the couch and then walks silently up stairs and shuts herself in her room.

 

The fact that she won’t speak to me, tell me what’s happened, I have no choice but to call Jamie. I left her here with him. If anyone knows what’s wrong, it will be him.

Do I really want him coming around though? If I tell him how upset mum is, that’s exactly what he’ll do. He’ll come over and try and help. Is that what she needs though? Does she need Jamie? Does she want him?

I don’t know. She won’t speak to me.

Fuck it. I pull out my phone and call Jamie.

 

Just as I expected, he’ll be round after he drops Joanie off at home.

When Jamie arrives, I let him in and tell him to call me if he or mum need me. As much as I want to stay and make sure mum is okay, I don’t think it’s me she needs right now. I tell Jamie that I will be at his place with the girls and then I leave.

Chapter Text

Joanie’s POV

 

When we pull up to the house, Da doesn’t park in the driveway, we’re out in the street. He tells me to run on inside and stay with Marsali. Apparently, the woman I met last night at the concert was Fergus’ mam. I don’t understand why she and Da acted as if they were strangers? Anyway, Da explains that she isn’t in a good way and he has to go over to Fergus’ to check on her. I don’t ask any questions because Da has a really worried look on his face. The last time I saw this look was when I was a lot younger and Marsali had fell off one of the horses at her riding lesson. It was a nasty fall and she needed all sorts of scans and tests done at the hospital. I think Da was actually scared we would lose her.

I tell him to tell Ms Beauchamp I was asking for her and then I jump out of the car and make my way inside.

As I walk in the door and head to the kitchen for a snack, I see Marsali is looking through the cupboards for some food.

“Where’s da?” She asks me with a worried look on her face.

“Fergus called him. His Ma’s in town and apparently she’s in a really bad way. Fergus canny calm her down, so he asked Da to go over. Must be bad then if he’s asked Da to go over. She’s a nice woman. I hope she’s alright.” I say as I dump my bags down next to the kitchen table.

“Ye met her?” Marsali asks stunned.

“Aye. Last night at the concert. She’s friends with Miss Louise apparently. Weird thing is though, when Miss Louise introduced Claire and Da, they both acted like strangers. She told me I did well and I was a good dancer.” I grinned. “Must of been a shock for her though when I spoke to Da in front of her. I don’t think Fergus has mentioned you or I to his mother.” I say as I make my way over to the fridge.

“The whole thing is a mess if ye ask me. The two of them never got any closure. I don’t ken the full story of what happened, but over the years, I’ve managed to piece the odd bit of the jigsaw together. The two of them need locked in a room and they need to talk about it all. It’s poor Fergus I feel sorry for. He’s spent the majority of his life being stuck in the middle. Not being able to say so many things in case it hurts one or both of them.”

“Hmmm. I’m sure they will sort it out. Anyway, ye no had tea or something? We only had cheesy chips, but they were rank. I couldn’t eat them all. Kinda hungry now. Fancy just getting a pizza or something since it’s just us?” I suggest. It’s been a fair wee while since Marsali and I actually just chilled out together on our own. She’s been so busy fixing up Fergus’ place lately and I’ve been busy with dance rehearsals and such.

“Aye, could do. Rather have Indian though since Da isna here.” Marsali chuckles. Da always orders the same spicy curry dish and then moans it’s too hot and then doesn’t eat it. It’s got to the point where we hardly order Indian now because we’re just sick of da’s moaning. Why he doesn’t just get a tikka masala instead or something, I don’t ken.

 

As I go in to da’s office to look for the menu, I hear the door bell. Marsali shouts through that she’ll get it.

When I eventually find the pile of menus in one of the drawers in da’s desk, I make my way back down the hall to find Fergus sat in the living room talking with Marsali.

“Hey squirt.” Fergus calls over to me. “I hear we’re having Indian tonight.” He’s trying to be cheery, but I can tell he’s worried about his mam.

“Yup. What dae you want? I fancy a chicken balti and some fried rice. Oh, and some poppadoms.” I announce.

“Tell you what squirt, how about you and I share that balti, huh? Not like you are going to finish it all is it?” I smile. Fergus knows me all too well.

“Sounds good to me.” I smile again and hand the menu over to Marsali so she can decide. Marsali is one of these people who demands a look at a menu and then after fifteen minutes, decides on the usual.

Fergus whips out his phone with a grin and starts ordering on the app. He sends the order in before Marsali even says what she wants. Fergus leaves his phone down on the coffee table in front of him and Marsali and then turns to take the menu from her.

“What?” Marsali asks annoyed. “I was lookin’ at that.” She snaps.

“Yes. And wasting time. I’ve already placed the order. You are having chicken tikka masala and boiled rice. I also ordered some garlic naan bread, some plain naan and some popadoms. Oh, and three Irn bru’s. Don’t tell your Da though.” Fergus winks at me.

I let out a chuckle and then go to turn the tv on, but Fergus takes the remote from my hand. “So, you haven’t told us how the concert went last night.” Fergus says with a smile on his face.

“Ye really want to ken?” I ask him as I sit down beside him.

“Of course. If your dad didn’t send me away to Edinburgh with this one, I would of been there. We both would have.” Fergus explains.

Marsali sits froward to look at me and agrees with what Fergus just said. So, I start telling them about the last rehearsal and then the show. I tell them about the argument that broke out backstage before the second half between four dancers arguing over glitter.

Not long after I finish up my story, the bell goes and Fergus gets up to answer the door. When he comes back with the food, he refuses to take any of my or Marsali’s money. Said it was his treat.

Fergus has always been pretty good with me and Marsali. He doesn’t feel like a brother to us, but I ken that any time I need someone to talk to, he’ll be there. I ken that Marsali has turned to him a few times over the past couple of years when she and Da have had their arguments.

I don’t think they ken it yet, but... they like each other, Fergus and Marsali. Like, a lot. It’s so obvious. Not to da though, but definitely to me. I think they would make a really good couple actually. Marsali needs someone like Fergus who treats her like an adult. Like a proper woman. The boys Marsali has been a hanging around with are no good for her. They’re so immature and gross. They’re only after one thing. And when they get it, they move on to some other poor lass. My sister deserves better than that. All women do.

I think Marsali could be good for Fergus too. He’s a wonderful man. Good manners, polite, friendly, not too bad to look at. But, he can be a little up tight sometimes. Marsali could really help him loosen up a bit.

I think if Marsali was a bit older, Fergus wouldn’t be so shy around her sometimes. I think another barrier is the whole Fergus being Da’s friend. Da definitely wouldn’t agree to his pal dating his daughter. Shame though.

 

We talk a little more over dinner. Just random stuff about school and what they got up to in Edinburgh. Apparently they went to Ayr today. Fergus had left Da and Claire to talk and he needed to get away. Sounds like a really cute date to me.

 

It’s been a really long week for me, so I excuse myself and say I’m heading to bed. I give Marsali a quick hug and then do the same with Fergus.

“I really do hope your mam gets better soon Fergus.” I say before backing out the living room door.

“Me too squirt.” He says with a small smile on his face.

 

 

I’ve been up in my room for almost an hour and I can’t sleep. I’m really tired though, I just can’t seem to fall asleep. I reach over to my bedside table to pick up my phone so I can text da. I haven’t heard him come home yet. I do hope Fergus’ mam is alright.

I send da a text saying I’m in bed, but I hope that Ms Beauchamp is doing okay.

He doesn’t respond. She must still be in some sort of state.

I wish there was something I could do for her. Or even Fergus. But there isn’t. I suppose it was good for Fergus to be with me and Marsali tonight, I know he still worried about his mam, but it would of been good for him to try and relax and be occupied on other things.

When I put my phone back on my bed side table, I hear Marsali’s bedroom door close. I didn’t hear Fergus leave though. Surely she didn’t leave him downstairs all on his own? Maybe da called him and he went home? But I didn’t hear the front door or his car starting.

Just as I go to get out of bed to see if Fergus is still here or not, I hear Marsali squealing. That’s strange.

I slowly and quietly slide out of bed and as quietly as I can, open my bedroom door. I hear her squeal again. It isn’t until I walkout to the landing, I realise she isn’t alone in her room. There’s no intruder either. She must be with Fergus. I can’t help but smile. I’m surprised it took this long to be honest.

As I make my way back to my room, I realise that there is no way I am going to be able to sleep with that noise going on down the hall. I grab my pillow and my warmer blanket from my bed, my phone and my book and make my way quietly downstairs.

It isn’t much better down here either. Apparently my sister isn’t the quietest when she’s with a man. I can hear her calling Fergus’ name over and over again. I swear I heard the bed slide over the floor a little as well. Ugh.

I go down to da’s office and look for his headphones so I can listen to an audiobook instead. Hopefully that will block out the noise a bit.

 

Quite a while later, I realise the noise has stopped. The couch isn’t the comfiest to try and sleep on, and if da were to come home, he would wonder why I was laying here. I grab my things and make my way back up the stairs. When I get to the top however, I literally bump in to Marsali and Fergus coming out of her room. I just grin at them as they stare at me in horror.

“You went to bed.” Marsali informs me.

I just smile even more and then say. “I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs to try, but couldn’t sleep there either. Now I’m going back to bed.” I push past them, but then turn to face them again and call them back. “You know, you should really try and practice being a little more quiet Marsali. No one wants to listen to their sister screaming in the throws of passion.”

Marsali’s face turns bright red and her mouth is wide open in an “o” shape, but she doesn’t say anything. Fergus turns his head slightly to giggle and then Marsali slaps him on the chest.

“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.” I tell them as I go back towards my room.

“Um, squirt?” Fergus calls.

“Look, this isn’t really the kind of conversation I feel comfortable with. I mean I’m twelve, but I know fine well what you two were up to. I don’t need to talk about it. I won’t say anything.” I tell them and they both kinda relax their faces a bit. “I will say this though... it’s about damn time.” I say and then just walk in to my room leaving them out on the landing.

 

This has obviously been going on a little while then. I mean, there is no way in hell this just started tonight. I’m happy for them though. I just don’t want to hear it when I’m home.

I suppose they couldn’t exactly use Fergus’ home since his mam and da are there right now. I’ll get the details from Marsali tomorrow. Not the sex details obviously. I don’t need to know about that. No way.

 

When I come down for breakfast in the morning, it’s Fergus who is making us some french toast. Marsali must still be in bed.

Fergus tells me that he stayed over because da called him about midnight and said that his mother was doing a lot better, but they still needed some time to talk. Da asked if Fergus could stay here and get us to school this morning and then his mam would like to see him afterwards.

Marsali eventually graces us with her presence for breakfast. She sits down at the table beside Fergus and takes his hand in hers as she enquires about his mam. He fills her in on what Da told him.

When that conversation finishes, I take my chance to ask about the two of them. Fergus smiles fondly at Marsali as she rolls her eyes at me and her cheeks flush red.

Fergus starts to explain to me how he’s liked Marsali for a while now, but he didn’t do anything about it because she is so much younger than him and things are complicated with his relationship with da. I get that. He said that it was Marsali that opened up about her feelings first and he tried to fight it, but he couldn’t anymore. Apparently it’s still early days for them, but they’re both really happy. And they’ve admitted to each other that they’re in love.

I smile at them and tell them how happy I am for them.

Apparently Claire knows about them too. The only thing is, she isn’t aware that Marsali is Da’s daughter. They just have to go and make it more complicated, don’t they?

Well, if Claire kens, surely she might let something slip to da about Fergus’ girlfriend. And, what if da talks about Marsali and I? Marsali isn’t that common a name, she might put two and two together and tell Da.

Da won’t be happy at first, but when he sees how in love they are and how perfect they are for each other, I’m sure he will come round.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

After Claire and I speak with Fergus, he decides he needs some space. I get it. That was some pretty heavy stuff we had to talk about. He thinks it’s a good idea for Claire and I to talk too. Canna say I dinna agree. Claire on the other hand...

 

When Fergus walks out the door, Claire turns to look at me and let’s out a deep breath. “I can’t do this now Jamie.” She tells me.

I take a seat on the couch and watch her for a moment. “That’s fine. I have the rest of the day anyway. I’ve waited twenty one years Claire, I can wait a bit longer.”

She nods her head and turns to walk out of the living room. I hear her climb the stairs as my phone pings with a text. Apparently Marsali is going out for the day. She’ll be off out with Fergus. They’ve become quite close recently, and I’m glad. He needs a friend right now. I’m sure Marsali will make sure he’s okay.

 

An hour goes past, and then two and Claire still hasn’t come down stairs. I call up to her, but she doesna answer. I decide to make her a cuppa coffee and take it up to her. I knock on her bedroom door, but she tells me she isn’t ready to talk yet. I tell her I made her a coffee and I’ll leave it at her door. When I get down to the bottom of the stairs, I hear her opening her door to get the mug of hot coffee. Good. At least she’ll have something to drink.

Another hour ticks by and I go up again with another drink. This time a tall glass of water with strawberries and a slice of kiwi. She opens the door to me this time and takes the glass and says thanks. She says she still isna ready to talk yet. I offer to make her somethin’ to eat, but she insists she isna hungry. My phone rings. It’s Joanie. I apologise to Claire and answer the call. Joanie is ready to be picked up from her friends place.

When I hang up the call, I tell Claire I will be back after dropping Joanie off home. She tells me not to come back tonight. She isna wantin’ to talk. Not tonight anyway. She tells me to go home and spend time wi the girls. On the one hand I really do want to catch up wi the lassies, but on the other, I really need to speak to Claire. And not just about last night.

I tell her I’ll be back over tomorrow after lunch and she will have to be ready to talk about at least somethin’. If she’s insisting on leaving on Wednesday, lord only kens when we’ll get another opportunity to speak.

She doesna answer me, just slightly nods her head. It will have to do. I make my way down the hall and down the staircase. Pick up my jacket and keys and head out to my car to go and pick up Joanie from her friends.

 

Just as I’m waiting on Joanie to come out, I get a call from Fergus. He’s just arrived home and Claire is curled up on herself and crying. He canna get her to calm down. Not enough to talk anyway. Apparently he hasn’t seen her like this in years. I can probably take a good guess and say it was down to me that she felt like that after I went to prison, and here I was making her feel like this again. Fergus is at his wits end. He doesna ken what to do for the best. It must of taken a lot for him to pick up the phone to call me, but I’m grateful that he did. I dinna want Claire to feel like this. I dinna want her to be upset all the time. I need to try and get through to her and get her to open up wi’out pushing too hard. It’s no easy, but the woman needs to talk to me. She needs to tell me how she feels and why she feels like that.

I tell Fergus I’ll be round as soon as I drop Joanie off at home wi’ Marsali.

When Joanie comes out to the car, she’s all smiles and full of beans. Still on a high from last nights concert I expect. Once she’s seated in the car and tells me about her night, I explain to her that the woman she met last night, Claire, is actually Fergus’ mam. I can tell she’s a little confused, and I dinna blame her. Claire and I stood there and spoke as if we were strangers. Well, that was more Claire’s doing than mine. Joanie starts gushing over how pretty Claire looked and what a lovely woman she was. That’s Joanie though. The lass lost her ma when she was three. Hasn’t had a mother figure in her life since, really. Every woman that seems to compliment Joanie or say something kind, the lass holds on to it.

When I pull up to our place, I park on the street, no the drive. Joanie looks at me confused. I tell her that Claire is unwell and Fergus doesna know how to handle Claire just now, so he’s asked me to go over and see if I can help her. She tells me to tell Claire she was asking for her and she hopes she feels better soon. That’s Joanie though, always concerned for the people around her. I give her a quick kiss on her forehead before she jumps out of the car and heading in to the house.

Once I see she’s inside, I put the car in gear and drive round to Fergus’ place.

 

I walk straight in to Fergus’ house, not even knocking. I’m anxious to see Claire. I need to make her okay. I need to fix this.

I find Fergus pacing up and down the hallway not knowing what to do with himself. He asks me what happened after he left, and I tell him. Nothing really. His mam didna want to speak. She shut herself in her room and I had to take her up drinks a couple of times before I got the call from Joanie that she wanted picked up from her friends. She didn’t seem upset when I left though. If she did, I would never of left her. Fergus tells me he will go over to my place and hang with the lassies for a while and I’m just to call him if Claire or I need anything.

 

I take a look in the kitchen, and it looks the same as when I was here before. I dinna think she’s made herself anythin’ to eat. Probably hasna even had a drink since I took her the water. I make us both a coffee and then take it up to her room. I knock on the door and don’t give her a chance to turn me away, I open the door and walk in to her room with our coffees. She’s sat up on the bed, leaning against the headboard. I hand her a coffee, which she accepts with a small smile and I climb on the bed beside her. I half expect her to tell me to fuck off or somethin’, but she doesna.

We sit here in silence and sip away at our coffee. I dinna want to push her, no yet. I need to make sure she’s happy and comfortable wi’ me being here.

A wee while after we finish our coffee’s, Claire begins to speak.

“Shouldn’t you be at home with your girls?” She asks me.

“They ken I’m here. Wi you. Fergus is wi’ them. He’s really worried about ye Claire, as am I. Is this about last night?” I ask her as gently as possible.

“Sort of.” She says before turning to face me as I face her, “I don’t know.” She whispers.

“I’m no gonna push ye to talk Sassenach, but I really hope ye do. I think we need to sort this. If no for ourselves, then for Fergus. I ken he’s an adult now wi’ a life o’ his own, but he’s still our son Claire. He’s the one in the middle here, no kennin’ what to do for the best.” I explain to her.

“I know Jamie. I just don’t know where to start.” She tells me wi’ a sad look in her eyes.

“Well, I ken how things were before I went to prison, but I dinna ken how ye and the lad were afterwards. I mean, Fergus and I exchanged letters, but whenever I asked about ye, he wouldna tell me. It got to the point where he wasn’t even tellin’ me that much about himself. That’s why I stopped writing to the lad. I thought he didna want me any more. I thought ye’s were moving on fine in life wi’out me.”

Claire moves to get up from the bed again. Fuck. Have I overstepped already?

“Come on. We should make some dinner or something. And I promise, I will tell you everything. Everything I should have told you long before now.” She reaches out a hand to me, and I take. I thought she would pull her hand away once I got up, but she didn’t. Either did I. I held on to Claire’s hand right up until we made it down to the kitchen.

I open the fridge and see there isn’t all that much in. I suppose Claire or Fergus hasn’t really had the opportunity to go shopping today. I pull out a packet of sliced haggis, turn on the oven to pre heat it whilst Claire starts peeling some potatoes. There isn’t that much to have a proper meal, but it will do. Kennin’ Fergus, there will be plenty of ice cream in the freezer for us for afters.

As we wait for the haggis to cook in the oven and the potatoes to boil, we set the kitchen table and pour ourselves some more water and sit down at the couch to talk a little.

Claire opens up about how depressed she was after I was sent down. She really struggled to get out of bed in the mornings to get Fergus ready for school. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, she realised that our nine year old boy was taking care of her. He had been missing the odd day off school so he could be at home to take care of her. Make sure she got up and showered and dressed. He would make all their meals. He was only nine at the time, so it was pretty basic stuff. She didn’t really want to eat, and was just picking at foods apparently. It wasn’t until she got a phone call from the school asking why Fergus had a few unexplained absences. She realised that she couldn’t go on like this anymore. She was the parent. It was up to her to make sure that Fergus was being looked after, not the other way around. She also realised that it wasn’t just Fergus. She had another life growing inside of her now too. In order to protect our unborn child, she needed to take care of herself.

“It really wasn’t easy, but I did it. Everything I did, was to love and protect our children. I missed you so much. Especially not even getting to see your face or hear you voice. It killed me Jamie. I made sure our children were safe and loved and protected, but as for everything else in my life... I was numb Jamie. I was literally only just existing.” I can see her eyes filling with tears and she’s trying her best to not let them fall.

I take a hold of her hand and move slightly closer to her. “ I. Am. So. Sorry. Sassenach. It was killing me too. It was the hardest decision I ever made in my life, but it was the only way to protect ye.”

“I know.” She whispers.

 

We sit in silence for a few minutes and then go to dish out the dinner. We sit down to eat and we talk about some lighter topics. I tell Claire more about the paper and how well Fergus has settled in. How proud I am to have Fergus working there with me. It’s doubtful the lassies will want a career in journalism, so it would be my great honour to pass the business down to Fergus. Claire tells me about her life in London and fills me in a bit more on her time in med school. It’s great. Learning each other all over again. The conversation just flows. We’ve always been like that though. Except when it comes to talking about our shared past apparently. But this, this is good.

When we finish dinner, we wash up the plates and put them away before heading back through to the living room to sit on the couch. I wasna expecting it, but Claire sits down really close to me and lays her head down on my shoulder and takes one of my hand in hers.

“Her name was Faith.” She tells me. I dinna need to ask who she’s talkin’ about. She’s talkin’ about our child. The child that Claire lost whilst I was in prison.

Jenny had come to visit me one day with the news that Claire had lost the baby. Claire was in a right state by all accounts. Understandably so. But, every time Jenny tried to check on her, Claire pushed her away. Pushed her away to the point where Jenny couldna really tell me anythin’ besides Claire had lost the child. I had asked Fergus in my letters, but he didna say anythin’ about what had happened. I tried to contact Claire, but she wouldna answer the phone. No one could or would tell me anythin’. I had to accept that it was all my fault. The stress I put her through. The hurt she must of felt. It was my fault our child died.

When I reconnected wi’ Fergus, I tried to ask him what had happened to the pregnancy, but he just said it wasn’t his place to talk about it with me. I hated that answer, but I had to accept it.

“Fergus named her. At first I couldn’t understand why he would choose such a name as Faith, but then he told me that, even with everything that happened the last few months, we had to have Faith. Faith that she would be in a better place. Faith that you were safe. And Faith that he and I would be okay without you both.”

It broke my heart that I wasn’t there for them. They needed me. I wasna there to comfort them or to help them. I dinna ken what to say to her, so I just give her hand a gentle squeeze.

“She was born sleeping Jamie.”

“Wait, what? Ye mean—“

“Yes... I, um... I hadn’t felt her move in a couple of days. At first I thought I was just exhausted and was just not concentrating enough. But then I realised that I was fairly certain it had been a couple of days since I felt her move. We went to the hospital and they were un able to find a heart beat. She was gone.”

“You gave birth to her?” I asked her. This is so much worse than I thought. I had no idea my
wife gave birth to our daughter. Our dead daughter. “Claire—“

“Don’t Jamie. I’m not telling you this to make you feel bad, or guilty. It’s something I should of told you long ago.” She says and then I pull her in closer and kiss the top of her head.

 

Claire goes on to tell me that she was allowed to hold our daughter. Fergus had apparently heard at school that his mother was in the hospital, so he snuck out during lunch time and made his way over to the hospital to find her. He was a scared wee lad. He already lost me, he didna want to lose his mam as well. Since Claire was a nurse at the hospital, the staff knew him and he knew them. One of the nurses came to tell Claire that Fergus had arrived and he was really upset and demanding to see his mam. Claire had agreed for him to go to her room. She explained to the lad what had happened and told him all about his baby sister. Claire had mentioned she was able to see her and asked if Fergus wanted to see her too. She thought it would be too much for him, but he was insisting he wasn’t leaving Claire’s side and Claire really wanted to hold our little girl.

“She was so small Jamie. Possibly the smallest baby I had ever seen at that point. Her eyes were a little slanted, just like yours. Her skin was so thin, it was almost see through. She had a beautiful little nose, and a tiny little mouth. She had the most beautiful wisps of copper hair, just like her daddy. Her eyes were closed, but when I think of what she would look like now, I imagine she has your ocean blue eyes. She looked so peaceful Jamie.”

I canna help the tears streaming down my face. “Thank ye Claire.”

She turns her head to look up at me. “For what?”

“For telling me about her. I never knew if I had another son, or a daughter. I definitely didna ken that ye had to go through birthing her Claire. I’m so sorry ye went through that alone. I shoulda been there.” I tell her. So angry at myself for not being the husband she deserved. Not being the father our children deserved.

“It was difficult, I won’t lie. I can’t say it’s something I ever got over, I never will. But, Fergus was right. I had to have Faith that our little girl went to a better place. I believe she did.” Claire looks at me with a small smile on her face.

I canna help myself, I lean down and kiss her softly on her mouth. Surprisingly, she doesna push me away.

“There’s something else though Jamie...” Claire trails off as she sits up away from me a bit.

“What is it Claire?”

“Faith... she was...”

“Claire? What is it? Ye can tell me.” I plead with her.

“At home, in London, I have a four bedroom house. One room is mine, obviously. One is Fergus’ room and I have a guest bedroom. The fourth bedroom... is Faith’s. It’s a simple, plain room with only a couple of shelves with some photos of you, me and Fergus. I have a rocking chair in there as well. I go in there sometimes to think of her. Read a book. I sometimes speak to her. Weird, I know. But, it helps me.” She looks over to me with a small smile before letting it go again. “Her ashes are sat on one of the shelves next to one of our wedding photos.” Claire tells me softly.

“Ashes?” I ask.

“I was twenty six weeks pregnant. I could either burry her, or have her cremated. I didn’t like the thought of her being alone Jamie.” Claire starts crying again, so I gently pull her close to me so I can hold her. “I wanted to scatter her ashes somewhere that was important to you, so that she could feel close to you since you never got to see her, to hold her. I couldn’t let her go though.”

I keep rocking her and tell her she did the right thing. I couldna bear the though of our daughter being left out there in world all on her own. Whether that be buried in a cemetery, or her ashes scattered somewhere.

We sit there on the couch for hours, just holding each other. Crying for the daughter we lost. The family we didn’t get to raise together. I realise it’s coming up to midnight. Shit.

Claire asks if I’ll stay wi her tonight. She understands if I need to get back for the lassies, but I tell her they’ll be fine. Fergus will probably stay wi them if he kens I’m stayin’ here.

I text Fergus to let him ken his mam is doing better, but I’m gonna stay over night anyway. As expected, he tells me that he’ll stay at mine. I tell him his mam would like to see him tomorrow morning though. She kens how worried he’s been about her. He agrees to come straight over after dropping the lassies off at school. I thank him so much for taking care of them.

I go to grab a blanket from the cupboard for the couch, but Claire takes me by the hand and leads me upstairs to her room. I dinna want her doing something she’s gonna regret again, so I stop before we reach the staircase. She turns around to face me with a confused look in her face.

“What’s wrong?” Claire asks.

“You head on up and get some sleep, aye? I’ll see ye in the morning.” I tell her before turning to walk back to the living room.

“Jamie, I want you to stay with me. I don’t want to be alone.” God, this woman is killing me here.

“Claire, I canna. I canna stay wi’ ye, only for ye to crawl away back in to yersel in the mornin’. If ye need me, I’ll be here.”

“I need you now Jamie!” She cries.

Hesitantly, I take her hand and give it a small squeeze. “Okay, lets get some sleep.”

 

When I wake in the mornin’, Claire is already awake and lookin’ down at me. “Good morning Jamie.” She says with a small smile.

“Mornin’ Sassenach. What time is it?” I ask her before sitting up.

“Six thirty, or there abouts. You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to wake you.” She whispers.

 

We get ourselves up, showered and dressed for the day ahead and then make our way down to the kitchen where Claire makes us some coffee, and I see about making us some breakfast. Since no one has been shopping yet, I decide on toast and peanut butter.

We sit at the kitchen table and then Claire decides she finally wants to talk about what happened between us the other night.

“I don’t regret it Jamie. Well, not completely anyway. I... I could of said no. I should of said no really, but I didn’t want to. I wanted you Jamie. I’ve only ever wanted you.”

I canna help the smile on my face when I hear her words. I can tell by the ways she canna meet my eye that there’s a “but” coming my way.

“But, we have been apart for twenty one years. When you got out of prison a year before you were supposed to, I might add, you didn’t come for me. You didn’t come for either of us Jamie. You knew where we were. You knew where to find us, but you chose not to. I got a letter from Jenny telling me of your release. I wanted so badly to pack mine and Fergus’ life up in London and come home to you, but then Fergus made me realise that you hadn’t contacted him in two years. I hadn’t seen or heard from you since we divorced. What would we be going back to? We couldn’t exactly pick up from before all the bad stuff happened to us Jamie. We couldn’t do it then, we can’t do it now.”

I reach my hand over to turn her face towards me so she’s looking at me. “Claire, I had no idea that that’s what ye or Fergus would want. Ye moved to London. Ye didna even keep in contact wi’ Jenny. I was scared Claire. I was a coward. I was scared that I’d pushed ye both away so far that I’d lost ye for good. If ye were in contact wi’ Jenny still, maybe I would have known it wasna too late. For all I knew, ye moved on to someone else.”

“I moved our son and I to London to keep him safe as you asked. The reason I stopped contact with your sister is because she made it perfectly clear that she didn’t think I was fit enough to care for my own son. She wanted Fergus to go and live with her. I know I wasn’t myself back then, but there was no way I was allowing her or anyone to take my son away from me. He was all I had left Jamie!” She snaps at me. Her hands are curled in to fists and she’s pressing them down hard in to the table.

“I’m sure Jenny was only tryin’ to help Claire. I’m sure she didna mean to take the lad away fae ye for good. Maybe she just thought ye needed some time for yerself.”

Well, now I ken I’ve went and said the wrong thing. She’s lookin’ at me as if she canna believe what I just said. She’s glarin’ at me. No happy at all. She’s clenchin’ her fists tighter.

“Don’t you DARE take her side. You weren’t even there Jamie. One time, Fergus came in from school and heard mine and Jenny’s argument over the matter. He burst in to tears Jamie. He didn’t want to be separated from me. He already lost you, he couldn’t lose me too. Jenny certainly didn’t help matters by trying to force him to go home with her in a few days. She would barely listen to me and she didn’t give a single thought to what MY son wanted or needed.”

“OUR son Claire. Fergus is my son too. I ken I’ve been a shit da to the lad, but no matter what he thinks or how he feels about me, I am his da. I did what I did because I needed to protect him. And you. I couldna lose ye’s.”

“But you did Jamie.” She says softly. “You lost us any way.” She whispers.

Claire gets up from her chair and walks over to the kettle to make herself another coffee.

“I think this has been good. The talking, I mean. I think I should try and get a flight home later this evening if I can.”

“Claire—“ I start, but she outs a hand up to stop me.

“I love you Jamie Fraser. I always have, and I always will. But it’s too late for us now. We both have lives. Me down in London. You here in Glasgow with your daughters, even Fergus is here with you now. He might refer to you as his best mate Jamie, but that boy idolises you. He loves you. You have him in your life Jamie, don’t ruin it. I’m begging you. Don’t hurt our son again. I can see the pain in your eyes every time he calls you Jamie, but you need to find a way to be okay with it, for his sake as well as your own. He can’t lose you again.”

“He’ll never lose me Sassenach. I just wish I didna have to lose you again.”

“It’s for the best.” She looks at me with a sad smile before walking back towards me. “Jamie, I know you’ve been in London over the past few years. I don’t know if that was only to see Fergus, or if you had other reasons but... if you’re ever down my end of the country, you have my home number now, you should give me a call. You should come and see our daughters room. Well, you should at least see—“

“Thank ye Claire. That would mean a great deal to me.” I say softy.

“I thought it would.” She smiled at me and I smiled back.

 

 

No long after nine, Fergus comes home and is happy to see his mam in one piece. And his house. No hands, fists or crockery flyin’ around this morning.

The three of us sit down and have a good open and honest chat about how Claire and I have decided to leave things. I guess I shouldna be surprised she wants to go home. She has a life there as she said. A career. At least we are in a place now where she and I could maybe, maybe meet up for a coffee or something when she comes to visit Fergus. It was really nice of her to invite me to hers when I’m in London so I can see Faith. That meant everythin’ to me.

 

Claire managed to get a flight home to London tonight. I apologised to Fergus over and over. I didna mean to cut his mam’s visit so short. He assures me it’s alright and he will see her in December for Christmas anyway.

That’s somethin’ I didna think on. Christmas. Maybe, I could invite Claire and Fergus over to ours this year. Normally we spend it wi’ Jenny and Ian but, it would be nice to spend it wi’ my family. I ken Claire is my ex, but she will always be my wife. Always. And Fergus can call me Jamie all he wants, he will always be my son. Always.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

ONE MONTH LATER...

 

Today is my and Fergus’ one month anniversary.

I canny believe we have actually been together a month. The first week was a bit tough with us just finding our way and then his mam’s unexpected early visit. But, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

This has been one of the best months of my life. It sucks that Da doesn’t know yet, but every time Fergus or I think we should tell him, we chicken out. Not that because we think what we’re doing is wrong, but we just know that Da won’t understand.

Da had told me that when he was younger, his da told him that as soon as he saw the woman for him, he would just ken she was the one. Apparently that’s exactly how he felt when he saw Claire for the first time. He knew as soon as he saw her that she would be his wife,

I feel that way about Fergus. As soon as I met him, I just kent he was the man for me. I’ve had to wait a few years and grow up a bit, but we’re finally together and really happy. We’re in love. Da canny really grudge us that. Can he?

 

It really helps that Joanie kens about Fergus and I. It means she can cover for me when I want to spend some time with him alone.

It was proving kinda difficult when Joanie was at a dance class or some after school club and it was just me and Da at home. How could I get away to spend time wi’ Fergus? In the end, I decided to open up to Lizzie about Fergus and I. This really helps, especially with tonight.

It’s our one month anniversary and we really want it to be special. Unfortunately we can’t really go out in public for a meal together in case anyone see’s us and tells da, so instead, Fergus is cooking us a special meal at his place. And because Lizzie now kens about us, I was able to tell da that I’m staying over at hers tonight when really I’m staying at Fergus’.

I really do hate sneaking around and lying to da, especially when I have Joanie and Lizzie lying to him too just to keep my secret, but I just don’t think Da could handle mine and Fergus’ relationship just yet.

 

Since Da thinks I’m staying at Lizzie’s tonight, it would look strange if I wandered downstairs all dressed up just to go and see my best friend. I did plan on going over to Lizzie’s first to get ready and have Fergus come and pick me up from there, but Fergus insisted I didn’t need to dress up. It’s a special night, but it’s our special night. The only thing that matters is the two of us being together and enjoying one another.

So, I’m walking round to my boyfriends in my favourite curve hugging jeans that are also a favourite of Fergus’. A simple white vest top that you can see my new pink lacey bra through, and a simple pale pink sweatshirt.

I also have a little surprise for Fergus tonight as well. We definitely don’t have any issues when it comes to our relationship. Not yet anyway. We have a wonderful connection with each other. We enjoy just being around one another. I mean the sex is AMAZING! But, what we have isn’t just good sex, it’s good company. Good conversation. It’s deeper than anything I could ever imagine being in love would be. Fergus is my world, and I know I’m his too. We just fit perfect together. We have this wonderful connection. It’s hard to explain.

Even Joanie agrees. Lizzie, well, she took a little convincing. She wasn’t too thrilled about me not telling da, but she soon started to understand why we are so hesitant to tell him. I think Lizzie was just worried that Fergus was ashamed of me or something, but she soon realised that if we could, Fergus and I would be shouting from the rooftops how we feel for each other.

 

When I get to Fergus’, I just knock once and let myself in. Da wasn’t planning on going out tonight, but I don’t want to be hanging around Fergus’s front door just in case.

I hear him speaking as I walk down to the kitchen. He’s on the phone to Claire. I can tell. There’s this certain sweetness in his voice when he speaks to her. It’s really nice. It’s not often you find men who respect women these days, never mind their own mother sometimes. Claire has really done a fine job raising Fergus. I love how close he is to his mam. The bond they have is just... beautiful.

As Fergus turns around from the stove and catches my eye, a big smile forms across his sweet little face. He walks over to me and kisses me and then tells his Mam that I’ve arrived. They talk another few moments and then he hangs up after telling his mam he loves her.

“Hello my beautiful girl, how are you?” He asks me before planting another soft kiss on me. This time on my forehead.

“All the better for seeing you. How’s yer Mam?”

“She’s okay, she was feeling a little withdrawn today though. She ended up leaving work a little earlier and went home to rest. She feels a bit better now though. She thinks it’s just stress with work. Apparently they are cutting down on nursing staff due to budgets, so the doctors and surgeons are getting a bit more than stressed about it. She’ll get there though. Nothing an early night won’t fix.” Fergus turns back to the stove to stir the sauce. “She told me to pass on her congratulations. She thinks it’s sweet we’re celebrating tonight.” He lets out a small chuckle.

“Well, I ken it’s no usual to celebrate one month, but we do what works for us.” I smile as I walk over and wrap my arms around his waist.

“I would quite happily celebrate every day I’m with you.” He tells me.

“Same. Happy one month anniversary babe.” I place a kiss on the middle of his back.

“Happy one month anniversary my love.”

 

We sit down to this wonderful dinner Fergus has prepared for us. He has done a wonderful job. It’s one of Claire’s recipes, but he won’t tell me what all is in it. It’s some kind of chicken dish. It’s quite a creamy sauce. Definitely some mushrooms and onions. A little bit of spice too, but can’t place what. Apparently Claire pairs the chicken dish with potatoes and some other vegetables, but instead, Fergus has cooked us some penne pasta to go with the chicken and sauce instead. It’s delicious. My man can certainly cook.

The conversation just flows. We talk about our days. Fergus has the opportunity to go and do a two day journalism course down in London in February. He says he was shocked da put him forward for it because it’s usually only experienced and well known journalists that get the chance to go, but da recommended Fergus and the lecturers would apparently really like to have Fergus attend. Fergus has even asked me to go with him if he decides to go. He has until the middle of December to decide. That would be really nice. The only way I can see it happening though, is if Fergus and I tell da about us.

I tell Fergus about my chat with the careers adviser today at school. She and the rest of my teachers are impressed that I haven’t been skipping out on any lessons recently, as is da. I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying being in all my classes, but I don’t ken. It’s just, my attitude towards school and study has changed since I’ve been wi’ Fergus. I think I’m slowly coming around to the idea of university, not that I’ve told Fergus or da that yet.

The school unexpectedly came up with the idea to send my year out on work experience for a month. It’s only two afternoons a week, and doesn’t interrupt our main classes. The idea was to send us somewhere to do with our chosen careers. Since I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I leave school, it was suggested to me that I pick my favourite subject and then help one of the teachers in class. I wanted to choose art, but the art teachers at school can be a little... eccentric. I don’t think I could handle any more time than need be with them. So, instead I chose English. One afternoon a week I help Mrs Graham with her class, and the other afternoon, I help Mr Randall. I really enjoy helping Mrs Graham, she’s one of my favourite teachers at school. Mr Randall on the other hand... I swear that man hates women. The way he looks at the girls in school, and even the female teachers, it’s like we repulse him. Thank god I only have two more weeks helping him in his class.

The thing is, by helping out with Mrs Graham and Mr Randall, I think I’ve decided what I want to do when I leave school. I think I want to become a teacher. I haven’t decided on primary teaching, or becoming an English teacher, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to get in to teaching.

As much as I hate school, I’m starting to realise that it’s more to do with not liking some of my teachers, than not liking the actual subjects. If I became a teacher, I would try and make sure that all my students were supported and treated equally. I would request the respect of my students, but I would respect them in return. Where as, a lot of teachers in my school think us students owe them something or something. If some teachers showed us a little more respect, I’m sure they would get the same respect in return.

 

After dinner, I try to clear away the dishes, but Fergus insists I leave them.

“Go on upstairs. I left a present for you in my room.” Fergus tells me as he pulls me in to his arms.

I playfully slap him on the arm, “We said we weren’t doing presents.”

“I know, but we haven’t spent nearly as much time together as I’d like and I wanted to make tonight special for you.”

“Tonight is already special because I’m here wi’ you Fergus.”

“Come on, you need to go get your present. I don’t want us to be late.” Fergus tells me before planting a kiss on my temple.

“Late for what?” I ask him with a confused look on my face. I thought we were staying in tonight.

Fergus takes my hand and leads me upstairs to his bedroom. Hanging up in front of his wardrobe is the most beautiful pale blue midi dress. It has long lace sleeves, the top half of the dress is all lace and the bottom half of the dress is the most beautiful pleated skirt I’ve ever seen.

I turn to look at Fergus with a huge smile on my face.

“Well, do you like it?” He asks me.

I walk over to Fergus and slowly wrap my arms around his neck and pull him closer to me. “It’s the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen.” I tell him. “But why? What are we doing?” I ask him.

“Put it on. I’m taking you to the Barrowlands to see Peat and Diesel.” Fergus informs me with the brightest smile spread across his face.

“Wait, what? They sold out months ago.” I tell him. “Me and Lizzie spent ages trying to get tickets but they sold out in like under an hour or something ridiculous like that.”

“I know. One of the lads at work was selling two tickets because he and his wife could no longer go. I’ve had them since before we got together. I was always going to take you though.”

 

It doesn’t take long for us to drive over for the concert. I can’t believe it. Peat and Diesel are one of my favourite bands at the moment. Three lads from over on the Isle of Lewis. Their songs are basically just nonsense, but they’re pretty good. They already have an album out and have been selling out gigs all over the Highlands and Islands. I was devastated I couldn’t get a ticket to see them. They have a second album coming out soon and I canny wait to hear it.

When we walk in to the venue, first thing Fergus does is gets us some drinks before taking us in to find a place. I am in shock that we’ve managed to get not too far from the front. This is gonna be incredible.

Tonight was already shaping up perfect because it was just me and Fergus spending time together, but the fact he bought me this beautiful new dress and surprised me with tickets for the concert... I am one lucky lass indeed.

The place is absolutely packed. Hardly much room to move at all. I can think of worse things than being held closely by Fergus though.

We sing along to all the songs and dance a wee bit. It’s been one of the best nights of my life. It reminds me a little of when we went to see Bryan Adams. Da was with us both, but he ended up leaving and it was just Fergus and I.

 

 

When we eventually get home, Fergus leads me by the hand straight up to his bedroom. Fergus walks over to his bed and pulls me to stand in between his legs as he rests his hands on my waist.

“Did you have fun tonight baby?” He asks me.

“Of course I did. I was with you.” I lean down and kiss him passionately on his mouth. I pull away gently for some air. “Thank ye Fergus. The dress is absolutely beautiful, and the concert... I wasn’t expecting any of this tonight, but it was probably one of the best nights of my life.” I smile down at him.

“I just wanted you to know how special you are to me. How much I love you Marsali.”

“I love you too.” I lean down and kiss him again before tearing my self away from his arms.

“You okay baby?” He asks me.

“Yeah. I just need to go and get ready for your little surprise now.”

“Marsali, I told you—“

“I didn’t get you anything. But I want you to have some fun tonight.” I say before grabbing my bag and turning to head in to Fergus’ en-suite.

 

About a week ago, Fergus and I had a conversation about if he ever felt uncomfortable being around me when I’m in my school uniform. He said no. He thinks he quite likes it actually. Normally if a guy was to say something like that, I would brand him a creep or something, but from the way Fergus and I were talking, it didn’t feel creepy or anything like that.

So, tonight I thought that we could do a little role play. Normally I wear a royal blue polo shirt or a blouse and tie and black trousers to school. When the weather is nicer in June, sometimes I wear a black skirt with my blouse and tie.

I take off the gorgeous dress Fergus bought for me and leave it in this laundry hamper and change in to my school blouse and tie. I don’t button my blouse up like normal. I only start fastening the buttons from under my chest and down so part of my pink bra is on show. The skirt I have isn’t one I would actually wear to school. It’s one I bought last summer, but never used after realising how short it actually is. For this though, it fits perfectly, and I’m sure Fergus will love it. My tie is sitting the way it usually does. It’s tied very loosely and sits just below my breasts.

I rummage about in my bag searching for my hair brush so I can brush my hair out and then tie my hair up in a clean and neat ponytail.

Once I’m all ready, I check myself in the mirror before making my way out to Fergus in the bedroom.

 

“Wow.” Fergus says as he sees me emerge from the en suite.

I give him a twirl and say, “Do you like?”

Fergus nods his head, apparently unable to find words.

“Well,” I say as I take a few steps towards him sat on the bed, “I thought we could maybe make things a little more interesting tonight.” I say as I sit down on Fergus’ lap.

“Interesting?” Fergus asks as I kiss down his jaw and on to his neck.

“Mmhmm. I was thinking you could be the teacher and I could be the student?”

“You know, this is very naughty of you Marsali.” Fergus says as I nibble on his ear lobe.

“Really Mr Beauchamp? Are you going to give me a detention?” I ask.

“No.” Fergus says as he slides his hand slowly up under my skirt. “Oh. You seem to be missing your underwear, Miss McKimmie.”

“I was in such a hurry to see you sir, I must have forgot.”

Fergus takes my tie off and throws it on the floor before he pushes me off of his lap and lays me face down on the bed. Fergus moves to sit on the bed beside me and lifts my skirt up. “I’m sorry Miss McKimmie, but I’m afraid I am going to have to punish you.”

Before I can respond, Fergus smacks his hand down on my right arse cheek. It stings for a second before he rubs his hand over the spanked area. I turn my head to the side to look at Fergus and give him a small smile.

“Did you like that?” He asks.

“Mmhmm. You should do that again, sir.”

He does. This time after soothing his hand over where he smacked me, he starts to kiss the area as well.

“Is that you kissing me better sir?” I ask him with a smirk across my face.

“Can’t have you lying there in pain Miss McKimmie. Now, do you promise to be on your best behaviour from now on?” Fergus asks me as I nod my head. “Good. I don’t want to have to punish you again.”

“That’s very kind of you sir. Now, what can I do for you?”

“Well, can we stop role playing now? I just want to rid you of them clothes and make love to you Marsali.”

“Come on then.”

 

Fergus jumps off the bed and strips himself in recorded time before removing my skirt and ripping my blouse off me. Good job I have at least another three at home. He climbs back on to the bed and unclips and removes my bra before hovering over me.

He pulls my face to his and starts by kissing my mouth before trailing his way down the length of my body to me centre.

 

This has definitely been the best night ever.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

Marsali and I celebrated our one month anniversary last weekend. It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time.

She came over and I cooked us a lovely meal before surprising her with a new dress and taking her out to see her favourite Scottish band in concert at the Barrowlands. Marsali had her own little surprise for me when we got home.

Role playing isn’t really something I’m in to, but when I saw Marsali coming out of the bathroom wearing her school uniform, it was a real turn on. More than it should of been to be honest.

There is an age difference of twelve years between us, but it isn’t really an issue for us. We’re not doing anything wrong. She is of age. We are two consenting adults in a loving relationship.

 

We haven’t really seen each other much since that night. She came over on Monday night with Jamie and Joanie and the four of us had dinner together. I saw her briefly last night when I went to pick up Jamie to go to the park for a game of football with some of our friends from work.

I don’t really mind that we haven’t seen each other all that much because I know Marsali has been a lot more focused on her studies lately. I would never forgive myself if our relationship was the reason she was falling behind or failing. Turns out, our relationship is actually having the opposite effect. Marsali is passing all her classes now and has even stopped skipping some of her classes. I’m really proud of her.

On Sunday morning before she left to go home, I caught her looking up some universities in Scotland. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t tell her I noticed though. I thought it would be better to let her tell me what she’s considering when she’s ready. She is a such a smart girl, she can do whatever she wants to do. I will always be there at her side to support her as she is with me.

 

Work today seems to be going by so slowly though. I have been working on a few articles this week, and all of them are finished before my deadline.

It’s the same every Friday though, I’m either completely bored because I’ve finished my work, or too bust trying to get things completed before the weekend. There is no in between where a Friday goes at a nice steady pace.

 

*Knock knock.

“Come in.” I call from behind my desk.

“Hey Fergus, I was wondering if ye and I could maybe have a wee chat over a pint or something after work? There’s something I really need to speak wi’ ye about.” Jamie asks me with a nervous look on his face.

“Yeah, sure. Everything all right? Is it my work?” I ask concerned.

“Naw lad. ‘Tis’ more about ye and I. Me and yer mam had a good talk when she was here and, I think it really helped a bit. I would like to clear some things up wi’ ye as well. It’s important to me Fergus.”

“Okay, sure. Although, I don’t know what there is to say. I mean you and me, we’re good right?”

“Aye, course. I just—“

“Sorry to interrupt guys.” Geordie says as he sticks his head in the door. “Fergus, there’s a guy called Joe on the phone for ye. Said he tried yer mobile but it’s switched off. Said it’s something to do wi’ yer mam. I couldna get the call to come through to yer phone here though for some reason.”

“Do you know what’s happened with my mother?” I ask standing up from my desk and walking towards Geordie.

“Sorry mate. He hasna said. He’s just asking for ye.”

“Put the call through to my office Geordie. Fergus will take it there.” Jamie says as he pushes me out the door.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when Jamie shuts himself in his office with me. He’s obviously concerned about my mum too.

“Hello, Joe. What’s happened?” I ask as soon as I lift the phone.

“I’m sorry Fergus, it’s your mom. She collapsed on her way to surgery. She didn’t want us to call you, but I think you should maybe get yourself down here this weekend at some point if you can. I’m forcing her to take a few days off to rest. She’s been overworking herself the last few weeks.”

“Yeah, she said she was stressed with work due to the cut backs and more work was falling on you guys. She’s definitely been distracted and preoccupied when I’ve spoken to her on the phone. Is she okay though? I mean do you know why she collapsed?” I ask.

“She WHAT?” Jamie shouts from the corner of the room.

“Hold on a sec Joe.” I tell him over the phone before looking up at Jamie. “She’s overworked and stressed. Apparently she collapsed today on her way to theatre. If you let me finish this call, I may be able to tell you more.” I tell Jamie before turning back to the call and speaking to Joe.

 

When I hang up the phone, Jamie is pacing back and forth in his office. “She’ll be fine, but she gave herself a scare. She didn’t want me to be called, but Joe thought it would be good for me to go down and see her and check in on her. I’m going to see if I can get a flight either tonight or tomorrow. I’ll try and get a flight either Sunday evening or Monday morning so I’m back in time for work.” I tell him.

“Dinna worry about work lad. Yer mam needs ye. Take as much time as ye need.” Jamie tells me.

“Thanks. Do you mind if I look up flights now?”

“Course no. Can... can I come wi’ ye? I want to see her for myself. I want to ken she’s alright.” Jamie asks warily.

“That depends. You left it on good terms last time, right?” Jamie nods his head at me. “Okay, and will you go in there all guns blazing and make her feel worse, because she doesn’t even know I’m going down, I don’t want her upset.”

“I get that lad. I promise ye, I just need to see she’s alright, ken? We sorted a lot out when she was here, but I canna sit here wondering how she is and what’s happened. I love her Fergus. I always have, and I always will. I just need to ken she’s okay. Please son.” Jamie pleads with me.

“Okay. I’ll go and look for flights. You better tell the girls.” I say as I head towards the door.

“Here,” Jamie stops me to hand me his wallet. “Take this. Doesna matter how much it costs, just get us there, aye?”

I take Jamie’s wallet and make my way back to my office to start looking up flights. Not because I think he should pay for my flights as well, but because I know better than to argue with him. When I open Jamie’s wallet, I see a picture of him, Marsali and Joanie on the right. It was obviously taken a few years ago, Joanie looks tiny. She couldn’t of been more than four or five. When I go to pull out Jamie’s bank card, I see there is a picture on the left side of his wallet. A picture of him, me and mum. I remember that picture being taken. It was after one of my football games. My team had won 4-0. I was so happy that day. We were all happy then. Together.

 

After almost an hour, I’ve found a flight that leaves tonight at seven and then the flight back isn’t until Monday afternoon. If Jamie needs to get back on Sunday, I’m sure he could catch a train.

 

 

The taxi ride to the airport is practically in silence. Jamie’s just sat staring out the window ignoring every conversation starter I try.

“She’ll be okay.” I say

“Jamie, she’ll be fine.” I say trying my best to reassure him.

“Jamie, look at me.” I demand.

He finally does turn to look at me. “She’ll be fine. I promise. It’s just stress from work, that’s all. If it was something more, Joe would have told me. SHE would have told me. If it was more, Joe would of asked me to stay longer than a night. She just needs some rest, like what Joe said.” I tell him.

“I just hate the thought of yer mam bein’ down there in London all on her own. I just... I hate that thought Fergus. I ken she has a life, but is it really as good as she made it out to be?”

“She’s happy in London Jamie. It’s her home. She has her job and her friends. It isn’t too far from me on a plane either.” I tell him.

“Aye, but what if it was worse Fergus? What if we couldna get on a flight until Monday or somethin’? I dinna like the thought of her bein’ in London alone.”

I don’t respond. I know what he wants. Unfortunately, it isn’t the same as what my mother wants right now. She hasn’t moved on completely from Jamie or her life before we moved to London, but she’s done a damn good job trying. If she wanted to be with him, she wouldn’t of jumped on a plane and went back to London, but she did.

 

Jamie and I are sat next to one another on the plane, and I’m starting to regret not trying to get us seated apart. He’s nervous and worried about mum. His left leg is shaking like mad and he’s drumming his fingers against the side of his leg.

Great. This is going to be a long flight.

 

When we’ve been in the air for about half an hour, Jamie suddenly turns to me. “Mind if we have that talk now? No an ideal location granted, but I suppose ye canna get up and walk away fae me like yer mother tends to dae.”

“Yeah, she definitely has a thing for storming off during conversations that don’t go her way.” I say with a small laugh. “Go on then. What do you want to talk about?” I think I can already guess. He’s been treating me differently since Mum left for London last month. He’s been calling me “son” quite a bit as well. This should be... interesting.

“I dinna ken how to say this Fergus. I dinna want an argument, and I dinna want to upset ye.” Jamie explains.

“Just spit it out.”

“Right. Okay. Well, I uh... I ken that I let ye down. Ye and yer mam, and I’ll never forgive myself for that lad, ye ken that?” Jamie asks me and I nod. I do know that. I know that painfully well in fact.

“Right, well... I ken when ye and I first started to... reconnect, ye wanted to take things slowly. And, I understand why. Ye wanted to build a relationship wi’ me Fergus, and I was just so grateful. I would do anythin’ to finally have ye back in my life. Even have ye as my pal, rather than my son. When ye said I wasna yer da anymore, it broke my heart Fergus. I ken that was all my own doin’ though. I ken that. It’s been tough though these last few years. Even more tough than I thought it would be when ye moved to Glasgow. Yer my son Fergus. I ken ye dinna see me as yer da, but ye will always be my son. I just... I just needed ye to ken how I feel about ye. I love ye, so much. I’m so proud o’ the man ye’ve turned out to be. I ken that’s all down to yer mother, but I am so proud that yer my son Fergus.”

I knew it was going to be a conversation like this. I just, I don’t know what to say back to him. He’s right in a way, things have been a little tougher for me too since coming back to Scotland and spending so much time with him. The way he is with the girls, it reminds me of how he was before everything went bad between him and mum. He was a wonderful father to me, just like he is with the girls. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss having a dad, if I didn’t miss HIM being my dad, but he’s Marsali’s dad now. It complicates things. If I had to choose between Marsali and Having Jamie as my father again, I choose my relationship with Marsali. I love her.

“I know all that Jamie. I’m sorry that you feel like this, I really am. I do want to talk about it more, but can we maybe discuss it later? I just need some time to think things through.”

“That’s fine lad. Yer just like yer mother, ken?” Jamie tells me with a smile on his face and I just smile back at him.

 

As Jamie and I make our way through the airport to try and catch a taxi, I notice Joe is waiting for me near one of the seating areas.

“Fergus!” He calls. “Over here!”

Jamie and I make our way over to him. “what are you doing here?” I ask him.

“Your mother wouldn’t let me stay with her. I thought I would come and collect you from the airport to save you getting a taxi.”

“Thank you Joe, that’s very kind of you.” I tell him. I can see Joe giving Jamie a glance, and from the corner of my eye, I can see Jamie looking Joe up and down. “Um Joe, this is Jamie. Jamie, this is Joe. He works with mum as a surgeon at the hospital.”

“Ah, yer a friend of Claire’s then? Pleased to meet ye. Thanks for lookin’ out for her. The lad and I got here as soon as we could, ken?” Jamie explains to Joe.

I can see Joe’s brain working overtime trying to figure out who Jamie is and why he’s with me.

“Been really good friends since I moved here fifteen years ago. She’s a one off.” Joe says.

“Aye. She is that.” Jamie replys.

“It’s good that Fergus has a friend like you to come all this way and support him.” Joe says to Jamie. “Claire will be fine though. The stress of everything happening at work is getting to us all. You know your mom though, she just storms her way through. She just needs a little rest. I thought you would want to come and check on her for yourself though.” Joe explains to me.

“Aye. We thank ye. We’re just really anxious to see her, ken?” Jamie says.

I could tell Jamie was a little disappointed when Joe called Jamie my friend. Of course Joe doesn’t have a clue who Jamie is. Mum would never speak of Jamie to anyone except me, and even then it wasn’t all that much.

I can tell Joe is wondering why I brought a friend with me and I think it’s obvious that he’s curious as to why Jamie is so wound up and worried about my mum. I don’t know if the next thing to come out of my mouth is a good thing or a bad thing, but it will hopefully clear up something, for Joe’s part anyway.

“Joe, Jamie here is actually my father. He was with me when I spoke with you earlier and he was really worried about mum and asked if he could come too.”

I can see Jamie relax quite a bit from the corner of my eye. Joe looks between the two of us and then smiles. “Better get you two men to see your woman then, huh?” Joe says with a big grin.

The look on Joe’s face makes me wonder if mum has confided in him lately about her and Jamie. Not their whole story obviously, but the look on his face when I said who Jamie was and the fact he wanted to come and check on mum as well, it was as if Joe knew something.

 

Joe drops us off outside the house. I invite him in, but he insists he has to get home to his wife. Jamie relaxes a bit more at that revelation. Did he think that there was maybe something between Mum and Joe?

The house is in complete darkness when Jamie and I walk in. I tell Jamie to leave his bag in the hallway and to make himself comfortable in the living room.

I walk down to the kitchen and fill the kettle with water and flick it on to boil. I then make my way quietly upstairs to find mum. She must be in bed resting. When I reach her room though, she isn’t there. The only other place I can think of, is my sister’s room. I walk down the hall and gently push the door open, but mum isn’t there either.

Just as I make it back to the living room to tell Jamie she isn’t home, the front door opens and slams shut.

“Shit!” I hear mum shout.

“Mum? Where the hell have you been?” I call as I make my way through to her.

“What in the devil are you doing home?” She asks me.

“Good to see you too Mum.” I scoff. “Come on, go and sit down in the living room. I’ll make you a coffee.” I say.

“I’ll have a tea instead please.” She says. “Don’t want to be up all night.”

Fair enough. She definitely does need the rest. She looks awful.

As soon as Mum walks in to the living room, I see her jump. I forgot to mention Jamie was with me, didn’t I?

“Never mind askin’ what the lads daein’ here Sassenach, where the hell did ye go? Ye should of been here resting.” I hear Jamie scold her.

I chuckle to myself a little as I make my way down to the kitchen to make us some hot drinks. One things for sure, they are both as stubborn as each other. Tonight is definitely going to be interesting.

Whilst I’m alone in the kitchen, I take the opportunity to call Marsali and tell her Jamie and I got here safely and we’re at the house now. I know Jamie called the girls earlier, but I wanted to speak to Marsali myself. I can’t stay on the phone all night though. Mum and Jamie will be wondering where I got to.

 

I take the tray with our mugs and some biscuits through and leave it down on the coffee table. Mum is sat on the couch snuggled up with Jamie. His arm is wrapped around her shoulders and her head is resting on his chest.

“So, do I start by asking how you are and what happened? Or do you want to tell me where you were when you were supposed to be in bed resting? Or is there something you BOTH need to tell me?” I ask, staring down at them both.

Mum sits up straight and moves away slightly from Jamie and grabs her mug from the tray in front of her. “You know how stressful work has been lately. I guess I just let it all get on top of me and collapsed with the stress and exhaustion of it all. I’ll be fine in a couple of days. I promise sweetheart. I slept for a good five hours when I got home. When I woke, I decided I wanted a little fresh air, so I went for a walk. I couldn’t of been out any more than half an hour, and I’m fine. And to answer your third question, no. I was just telling your father what I just told you. He was comforting me. Nothing more.” Mum states firmly. “Thank you for the tea darling. Now, why are YOU two here? I told Geillis not to bother you.”

“She didn’t. Joe called me. He thought I would want to check on you myself. We’re flying home on Monday.” I inform my mother.

“Okay. I can understand you being here, your father on the other hand..?” She turns to face Jamie.

“I was wi’ Fergus when yer pal Joe called him. I was worried Sassenach. I needed to ken ye were alright. I needed to see ye for myself.” Jamie tells her.

“Right, well, have you two eaten anything? I haven’t started dinner yet. I wasn’t hungry when I woke. I’m famished now though.” Mum explains.

Before she can get up out of her seat, I tell her to sit back down and I’ll whip us all up something. That will leave the two of them some space to talk some more. I think that’s what they both want but are scared to say anything to me.

 

After dinner, mum takes Jamie by the hand and leads him upstairs to show him Faith’s room. I imagine they will be up there for some time, so I take the opportunity to call Marsali again. I know Joanie was worried about my mother too, now that I’ve spoken to mum properly and seen her for myself, I can fill the girls in more on how she is. Joanie has definitely taken a shine to my mum since she met her.

 

When it gets to be time for bed, mum explains that the guest room isn’t prepared for any guests. She wasn’t expecting any and she recently started having work done in the guest room. It won’t be ready for another week. Jamie offers to go and stay at a hotel, but I tell him to take my room and I’ll sleep on the couch. Mum wasn’t keen on that idea though and insisted that I stay in my own room and Jamie take the couch.

I have a feeling that he won’t be sleeping on the couch though.

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

I couldn’t believe it when I came home from my walk to find Fergus stood in the hallway of my house. What was even more surprising was walking in to my lounge to find Jamie stood in the middle of the floor waiting for me to ask the same question Fergus had.

I was so close to calling Geillis and giving her a piece of my mind for calling Fergus and telling him what had happened, but then Fergus told me that it wasn’t her that called him, it was Joe. I suppose that makes more sense. The man had wanted to stay with me when I got home, but I insisted I was fine and told him to just go.

I wasn’t expecting Fergus or Jamie to be here when I came home from my walk. I have to admit though, I wasn’t entirely mad at seeing them. Either of them.

When Fergus went to make some tea and coffee, it was just Jamie and I sat in the lounge together. I don’t know why, but when Jamie sat down on the couch, I immediately went to sit beside him. He put his arm around my waist and pulled me towards him. I didn’t pull back. I rested my head on his chest when he moved his arm to wrap around my shoulders. It felt nice just to be held by someone. By him.

I can’t deny how much I’ve really missed him these past few weeks since I came back to London.

 

After the lovely late dinner Fergus prepared for the three of us, I took Jamie upstairs to show him Faith’s room. He’s here, and it’s only right he has a chance to see how I’ve chosen to remember our daughter. Jamie seemed to like her room. It’s simple, but it’s cosy. We sat there for almost an hour just just talking about my pregnancy, the miscarriage, holding Faith and then we spoke about Fergus and how our family could have been.just before we left our daughters room, Jamie took the time to go round the shelves in the wall and look at all the photographs I had placed on them. The one he took the most time with was one of our wedding photos I placed next to Faith. It wasn’t one taken by the wedding photographer, it was taken by Jamie’s godfather Murtagh. We weren’t even aware he took it, but it was always mine and Jamie’s favourite photograph of our big day. We were barely out of the chapel five minutes and Jamie had picked me up and spun me around. The photograph captures just how happy we really were. Both grinning widely at one another. One of the best days of my life.

 

It isn’t until we are back down stairs and Fergus mentions how tired he is and wants to go to bed, that I remember the guest room isn’t exactly appropriate for guests at the moment. I wasn’t expecting any and had gotten workmen in to rip out the built in wardrobe and make an en suite in the room. The guest bedroom is quite large, so it would be ideal to have a toilet, sink and shower installed. It won’t be finished for another week though.

Fergus offers sleep on the couch and let Jamie have his room after Jamie insists on a hotel. I tell them they’re both being ridiculous and Fergus should sleep in his own room and Jamie can have the couch. It isn’t that uncomfortable anyway. They both agree, but I think all three of us know that Jamie won’t be sleeping on the sofa tonight.

Fergus bids us both a goodnight and then leans down to kiss my cheek before mounting the stairs to his room. Jamie and I just sit in the couch cradling our mugs of tea.

“Ye better get to bed yerself Sassenach. Ye need yer rest mind.” Jamie tells me firmly.

“I know. I’m just waiting for you to finish your tea before we head up.” I say with a small smile.

“We?”

“We, Jamie. Did you really think I was going to let you sleep in the couch? I bet any money even Fergus knew you would end up in my bed tonight.” I answer.

“Ye need yer rest Sassenach.”

“We’re not going to be having sex Jamie.” I tell him firmly. “That shouldn’t of happened last time. We’re two grown adults that have shared a bed before. It will be fine. I mean, take the couch if you want, but if your staying three nights, might as well be in comfort, right?”

Jamie nods slightly before finishing off his mug of coffee and we make our way upstairs to bed.

 

 

“Ye gonna tell me what been stressin’ ye our so badly ye collapsed then?” Jamie asks me before I can turn of the bedside lamp.

“Just work really.” I sigh. “I don’t want to bore you with the details Jamie. Just get some sleep, okay?” I answer.

“Christ Claire. Ye collapsed, that’s no normal. Tell me what’s goin’ on. I was fair worried about ye. Still am.” He says.

I let out another sight before turning on the bed so that we’re facing one another. “Alright. There have been some major cut back at work over the last few years. Things have been a lot worse the last few months though. New reduced budgets won’t allow for agency nurses to be brought in when we’re understaffed. There can be downsides to working with agency staff because they only come in as and when needed, so they don’t know the run of the hospital like regular staff, but they can be a huge help as well. Now that the budget has been cut, departments are relying on nurses from other departments to come in and cover when needed. It isn’t working at all. Just last week, a nurse with fifteen years experience working in the ED, was sent up to work in Neurology. The nurse didn’t have any experience working in that ward.” I pause to take a breath. “A patient died Jamie. It could of been prevented if the budget allowed for more qualified staff to be recruited. I don’t know the full details of what happened, but the nurse is in bits. It wasn’t her fault though. She should never of been placed in that department. It would be similar to sending me, a general surgeon, in to perform a triple by pass surgery on a heart patient. It wouldn’t work.” I pause again fore a few moments to just look at Jamie. “A job I once loved in a hospital I have given my whole surgical career to, is just wearing me down. I’m exhausted and stressed. Overworked and frustrated. Lack of nurses on my ward has me doing even more work than I should be doing. People think that it’s the doctors that run the hospitals. It isn’t Jamie. It’s the nurses. Without them, patients aren’t getting the proper care and support they need. I collapsed because I did four back to back surgeries, literally about to go and do a fifth, and barely had time to sip a cold coffee, never mind eat something properly.”

Jamie reaches his arm out to wrap around me and pulls me closer to him and kisses my temple. “Ye were always one for focusing on taking care of other people Sassenach. It’s what made ye a wonderful nurse. It’s what I’m sure makes ye a wonderful surgeon, but ye need to take care of yerself. I dinna like the idea of ye being here in London on yer own. Would ye no consider moving to Glasgow? Be closer to me and the lad. I’m no saying move in wi’ me and we pick up where we left off, but if ye were in Glasgow Claire, ye would have Fergus and I there to take care of ye as ye take care of others.”

“My jobs here Jamie. My friends. My life. I can’t just up and leave just so you feel better. As much as I miss Fergus, he’s an adult now Jamie. I don’t think he would appreciate his mother following him up to Scotland, do you?” I chuckle.

“I think he would be happy Sassenach. I think he would be so much happier if ye came home to Scotland.”

I don’t answer. I just sit there in silence for a few minutes before turning away from Jamie and turning off the lamp.

“Goodnight Jamie.”

 

Jamie’s POV

 

When I woke up this mornin’, I could barely believe the first sight I saw was Claire laying beside me. I thought it was a dream, but then she woke and smiled at me. I kent it was real.

We get ourselves up and ready and head downstairs for some breakfast. Fergus is already in the kitchen cooking up a storm. Claire has definitely taught the lad well. He’s a brilliant cook.

Claire and I sit down at her kitchen table and watch in fascination at Fergus doing his thing. His phone rings just as he’s about to plate up some pancakes. He looks to the screen to see who’s calling. He hesitates a few moments before finally deciding to answer.

He’s very hush hush on the phone. Clearly no wantin’ me or his mam to listen in to the conversation. Claire obviously picks up on this too and decides to start a conversation wi’ me. It’s no a heavy conversation, she’s just wonderin’ what I’m gonna get up to over the next couple of days. I tell her we’re no here for a lads weekend or a holiday, we’re here to see her and make sure she’s okay. We’re here to take care of her. She’s a stubborn woman my wife. Hates to feel weak in front of anyone, but she’s far from weak. It isn’t weak to accept a helping hand from yer family either when ye need it now and again.

Fergus hangs up the phone, but before he does, I catch an “I love you too”. Has the lad got a lass on the go then? Must be serious if they’re using the “L” word. I’m happy for him. If he has managed to find himself someone special in Glasgow, then I dinna need to worry about losing him again hopefully. I just wish I could get Claire to just consider coming back to Glasgow wi’ us too.

I get up to pour us all some coffee’s before Claire can. Fergus brings the plates of pancakes over and sets them down in front of us.

“So, that yer lass on the phone then son? Ye didna tell me ye we’re seeing anyone.”

Fergus and Claire exchange a look that tells me Claire knew there was a lass involved somewhere in his life. “It’s early days. I wanted to tell you, but maybe not today, okay?”

“Whenever yer ready lad. I just hope she makes ye happy.” I tell him.

“She does, very much so. I think I make her happy too. We really do love each other.” He informs me. He really emphasised that last sentence though, like it was really important that I knew they really love each other.

“I’m glad son, truly. Ye deserve to be happy.”

“Thank you.” He smiles at me.

 

We spend the day in the house, just talking to each other and Fergus and I do our best to make sure Claire stays calm and relaxed. She seems to be doing okay though.

After dinner, the three of us sit down to watch a film together. We let Fergus choose the film, although I think Claire quickly comes to regret that decision when Fergus announces we’re watching IT! Chapter two. Claire was never the kind of woman to shy away from a film, even if it was a horror. I guess she has changed in some ways then.

“Jamie, tell YOUR son that we are NOT watching that... that thing!” Claire squeals.

“Why is he always just MY son when he does something you dinna like or agree wi’, eh?” I ask her with a wide grin spread across my face.

This is the first time in about twenty one years that the three of us have just hung out like this. Like a family. OUR family. The only thing that could make this day any better, would be if our daughter Faith was here to join in the fun too. And Marsali and Joanie. Nothing would make me happier than more nights like this. My wife and all my children around me.

“His name is Pennywise, mum. You can’t just go around calling it a “thing”.” Fergus laughs.

“I’m not watching it Fergus.” Claire spits out. “You put that on, and I’ll lock myself in my room.” She says firmly.

“Oh, don’t do that mum. What if Pennywise gets you in your room and we can’t hear you scream. Just stay here, we’ll protect you.” Fergus laughs.

“Fergus, leave yer ma alone, aye? What else ye got?” I ask him.

Fergus walks over to Claire and wraps an arm around her and plants a kiss to her temple. “Sorry mum. It was just... too easy.” He states with a small smile. “Tell you what, since I love you so much, I’m prepared to sit through one of your nauseating romance films.” He adds.

“Good. There is a film on my watchlist on Netflix I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. Put that on.” She tells him with the biggest smile on her beautiful face.

“Fine.” Fergus trails himself over to pick up the remote. “What’s it called?” He asks as he turns on her account.

“Forever my girl or something like that. Mary from work says it’s a beautiful film.”

The three of us sit down on the couch and the film begins. We each have a glass of fresh orange and lemonade in front of us and I sit in between my wife and my son with a big bowl of sweet popcorn sitting on my lap for the three of us.

 

A little while after the film ends, Fergus announces he’s going up to his bed. He pulls himself up from the couch and take our dishes through to the kitchen. When he comes back through to say goodnight, he pulls Claire in for a tight hug and says, “goodnight mum, see you in the morning.” and kisses her cheek goodnight. He then turns to me and surprisingly pulls me in for a hug too. “Night dad.” He says before turning and leaving Claire and I behind in the living room.

For the first time in twenty one years, my son called me dad.

 

 

Fergus’ POV

 

I called Jamie “dad”.

I called him dad.

Why?

I know why... yesterday had been brilliant. The three of us together like this. It was like when I was a kid. The three of us laughing and joking around, cooking together, watching tv... just, having fun. Being a family.

I can’t face going downstairs to sit with him just now. I need to call Marsali. What do I say though? “Hey baby, I called your da “dad” last night before I went to bed”? Yeah, like our relationship isn’t complicated enough, I have to go and make things even more complicated.

FUCK!

 

*Knock knock.

Shit.

“What?” I call through the door.

“Morning sweetheart. I just wondered when you would be down for breakfast. Time is getting on a bit now, it’s almost eleven.” Mum replies.

“Yeah, sorry. I’ll be down soon mum, I just need to make a phone call, okay?”

 

As soon as I hear mum’s footsteps fall down the stairs, I grab my phone to call Marsali.

“Good morning babe.” Marsali sings cheerfully down the phone to me.

“Morning baby. Listen, I need to talk to you about something really important...”

I tell Marsali about how mine and Jamie’s relationship shifted slightly after mum came back to London. It’s like we grew closer in some way. It’s difficult to explain though. I tell her about the conversation we had on the plane the other night and then I tell her how the three of us had a wonderful day together, it was like having my family back. Once I say that, I feel like a jerk. This is Marsali’s da I’m talking about. The only da she really knows.

To my surprise, Marsali is actually encouraging me to speak more openly with Jamie about all this and try and rebuild our relationship properly.

“But he’s YOUR da Marsali.” I tell her.

“He is. But he was yours first. He adopted ye Fergus, he only has me and Joanie because he felt sorry for us having a dying mam. He’s our step da Fergus, a bloody good one, but it’s not like he’s actually ours. I said it before Fergus, if it makes ye feel more comfortable, I’ll stop referring to him as my da, and just call him Jamie.” She says.

“You’re not doing that my love. He’s your da Marsali, and he loves you. I’m not taking him from you.”

“He’s your da too Fergus. Can’t ye see how it breaks him a wee bit more every time ye try to pull away? Let him be yer dad again Fergus, ye’ll both be a lot happier for it.”

“It makes things more complicated for us though.” I tell her.

“No it doesn’t.” She assures me. “We’re no siblings Fergus, we’re not doing anything wrong. If it comes down to a choice between you and him, I would choose you every time Fergus Beauchamp. I love you.”

“I love you too baby.” I tell her.

 

After I hang up with Marsali, I have a quick shower and head down stairs for breakfast. Jamie and I need to have that conversation he started on the plane.

I wish Marsali was here. She would make it easier. I might be a journalist, but Marsali is so much better with words than I am.

Can this really work?

Can I really have my father back properly and still have the women I love in my arms?

All I know is how happy I was yesterday. Even the night before. Normally I would cringe if Jamie called me “son” or argue with mum if she referred to Jamie as my father, but I didn’t do any of that. He called me son, and I liked it. She referred to him as my father, and not Jamie. It didn’t bother me either. It made me feel happy. Really happy.

 

I make my way in to the kitchen and pour myself some coffee before going to find Mum and Jamie in the living room.

I walk in to find them cuddled up together on the couch, each reading a book. They both sense me at the same time and look over to me and say hello.

“Okay, I really need to speak with Jamie, but before that, I have to ask... what the hell is going on here? Are you back together or what?” I ask them as quickly as I can get the words out of me.

They both turn to look at each other and then mum pulls herself away from Jamie to sit up straight on the couch. “I know this might be confusing for you sweetheart, but no. Your father and I are not back together. We’re just... comfortable with each other.” She says.

Comfortable? What does that even mean? I know he’s been sleeping in her bed with her. This isn’t normal. If they were together, I would totally get it, but this...

“You’re right, It is confusing. The whole damn bloody situation is confusing!” I snap before collapsing down on one of the arm chairs.

Mum moves from her seat on the couch straight away to come over and sit on the arm of my chair. “Are you alright sweetheart? You seem a bit on edge.” She tells me as she gently rubs her hand over my back to try and soothe me.

“I just don’t understand any of this.” I say, looking between the two of them. “You had no contact for twenty years, but then you slept together the same night you saw each other again. Then mum decided it was a mistake, but you decided to part of “good terms” for my sake. I get a call to say you collapsed at work and Jamie asked to come with me to check on you. I only agreed because I could see how worried he was. I know he still loves you mum.” I say before letting out a big sigh. “I know he’s staying in your room, and from the way you were cuddled up in the couch before, do you really expect me to believe there is nothing more going on between you two?” I ask.

“Yer right lad, I do love yer mam. Always have, always will. She’s made it clear to me though that nothing can happen between us. I had my chance, and I blew it. She has a life here in London, I just need to accept that and move on.” Jamie says.

“But you won’t. Neither of you will. It’s been twenty one years now since our family was torn apart. Twenty one years and neither of you have moved on. Mum might be living here in London, but she hasn’t moved on, she doesn’t have much of a life—“

“Hey!” Mum cuts me off.

“You don’t mum. You refused to move on from him. For twenty years, you built a career for yourself and raised me. You have friends at work, but how often do you socialise out with work? Not very often.” I say before turning my gaze over to Jamie, “and him... he hasn’t been with anyone else in all that time either. He married Laoghaire because he felt sorry for her and her daughters. He felt guilty about leaving us, so he decided to try and make up for it by being there for her girls. He’s done a wonderful job raising them, they’re lucky to have him. You are both happy... enough on your own, but when I see you together like this, like yesterday, it’s like when I was a kid. We’re like a family. A normal one. If you two want to give things another shot, you have my blessing, not that you need it, but it’s there. It’s obvious you two belong together. You’ve lost twenty years, don’t lose any more.”

“That’s for me and your father to decide between ourselves darling, and we have.” Mum says before standing to walk out of the room. “You said you wanted to speak with your father, I’ll leave you both to it. I have a headache, I’m going upstairs for a nap.” She says before leaving Jamie and I alone in the living room.

 

“Ye alright son?” Jamie asks me.

“I’m not sure really. I’m a little confused.” I say softy, staring at the floor.

“About me and yer mother... or ye and I?” He asks.

“You and me.” I say as I slowly lift my head to look at him. “The past couple of days have been great. The three of us here, together. It reminds me of when I was a child.” I say.

“I was thinking the exact same thing.” He says.

We just sit there silent for a few minutes, just looking at one another. It’s Jamie who eventually breaks the silence though, “ye called me dad last night, dae ye remember?”

I nod my head.

“Did ye mean to, or was it an accident?”

I shrug. What am I supposed to say?

“It just sort of came out, but... it came out for a reason. You ARE my father. Ever since mum left Glasgow last month and came home to London, you and I... we have been behaving differently around one another. You call me son... all the time. You call me that more than you used to. I used to cringe when you would call me that, but lately, I’ve really liked it to be honest. Since we’ve been here... well, mum has kept referring to you as my father. Normally I would correct her and say “Jamie”, but I haven’t. It just felt right, you know? Since we’ve been here, it’s just feels like we’re a family again. I don’t know... ” I trail off not sure I’m making any sense and not sure what else to say.

“Fergus, ye have always been my son. Even these last few years when ye only ever wanted my friendship, ye were still my wee lad. I’ve made no secret that I would love the chance to be a proper father to ye again, but it’s you that needs to decide if that’s okay. The last thing I want to do is make ye feel uncomfortable.” He gets up from his seat and walks over to me and crouches down in front of me. “I love ye son. If ye decided to allow me to be a father to ye again, ye would make me mad wi’ joy. When ye called me dad last night, I couldna keep the smile from my face. I promise ye son, I’ll never let ye down again. I would dae anything and everything to keep ye in my life.” He tells me.

“I love you too... dad.”

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

When I come down from my nap, my headache is clear. Turns out I was only upstairs for about an hour.

I’m happy at the sight in front of me when I walk in to the kitchen. Jamie and Fergus mucking around together, laughing and joking whilst making us some sandwiches for lunch.

“You two look happy. What are we having?” I ask as I make my way over to sit at the island.

“Aye, we are. We’re making ham sandwiches for lunch. Dinna worry Sassenach, we put some mayonnaise on yers. Fergus or I will head out and get ye some shopping later. Yer fridge and cupboards are a little bare.” Jamie tells me.

“Thank you. Don’t worry about shopping. I’ll nip out sometime before dinner and pick up some things.” I say.

“No you won’t mum. You need to rest. Like dad said, one of us can go.” Fergus says with a smile. “How’s your head?”

“Much better now thank you. Think I just needed to shut myself away in a dark room for a little while.”

“Did ye take anythin’ Sassenach?” Jamie asks.

“No. I try not to take any medication unless I have to. If the headache comes back, I’ll take a couple of ibuprofen. I don’t think it will though.”

 

The three of us sat and ate our sandwiches together at the kitchen table and then I made a list of things I should get from the supermarket. I tried to insist I was capable of going along myself, but Fergus insisted he would go in a while.

Whilst we were eating lunch, Fergus admitted he was wary of going home to Glasgow tomorrow. I said I was fine. The last couple of days off work has actually really helped a lot. I’ve been less stressed, able to sleep better and also managed to eat and drink properly. I told Fergus I am due back to work tomorrow anyway, so he would be better off back at work in Glasgow himself. He nor Jamie thought it was a good idea for me to go back to work so soon, but they don’t know my body like I do. They don’t know my job like I do.

Even me explaining that I will be cooped up in my office all day tomorrow catching up on boring paper work wasn’t enough to convince them I would be okay. I don’t have any electives at all this week, and Joe has managed to sort it so that I won’t be operating at all this week on any cases that come in. I will mainly be based in my office or on the ward. There’s nothing for Jamie nor Fergus to worry about.

 

 

An hour or so after Lunch and Fergus decides now would be the prefect time to head out and grab a quick coffee with one of his old school friends and then head over to the supermarket for some shopping. I don’t mind. It will be nice to have him out of my hair for a little while. As much as I love my son, and appreciate him coming all this way to check on me, he is annoying me just a little bit with all his fussing.

If only I could get rid of Jamie for a while as well.

 

With only Jamie and I in the house, I take the opportunity to bring up a certain visitor I received recently. I honestly don’t know why out of the blue, Jamie decided to send him round again. It’s not like we hadn’t spoken a couple of times since I came back to London. Why would he need to send his so called friend over to check on me?

 

“John came by last week.” I casually inform Jamie, although I’m sure he’s already aware.

“Oh? And what was he sayin’?” Jamie continues to unload the dishwasher without turning to face me sat at the table.

“Oh, you know. The usual.” I respond, but Jamie still doesn’t look over to me. “Why did you send him this time Jamie?”

“Eh? What ye gan on about now Sassenach?” He turns and asks me.

“Well, I haven’t seen or heard from your friend John Grey in quite some time. In fact, I would say he stopped his casual monthly drop ins after you were released from prison. Sorry, scratch that... after you and Fergus started speaking again.”

“I dinna have a clue what it is yer insinuating Sassenach.” Jamie states as he comes to stand just in front of me at the table.

“John Grey and I have never got on. You know that. Why on earth would the man come and visit me to “check on me and Fergus” once a month if you hadn’t asked him to? I’m not an idiot Jamie. I know exactly what he was doing. Coming to check on us as you asked and then when he visited you in prison he would update you on what I told him. Even when you left prison, he would stop by every once in a while. His visits stopped after you came back in to Fergus’ life though. It made sense, you could just ask Fergus yourself.” I stand up and move so I’m just inches from Jamie. “I don’t understand why after all these years, John Grey would pop in for a quick coffee and a catch up.” I cross my arms over my chest and look Jamie straight in the eye. “Why did you send John last week Jamie?”

Jamie turns his head and slowly moves back over to continue emptying the dishwasher. I can tell I’ve made him uneasy. He’s rubbing the back of his neck.

“I dinna like the idea of ye bein’ here in London on yer own Sassenach. I asked John a couple of weeks ago if he would mind popping in on ye and see how ye were keeping when he came back down to London. He didna tell me much though. Just said ye were fine and happy ye seen Fergus. He said that Fergus was the only topic ye were willing to speak about. John was really impressed with the lads work on the article for his restaurant in Edinburgh.”

“He isn’t my friend Jamie, and I don’t feel comfortable talking about you with him. I don’t feel comfortable talking to him at all, so if you don’t mind, please don’t ask him to check on me again. I’m forty eight years old, not a child. I don’t need minding—“

“Sassa—“

“Especially from the man who tried to break us up the day before our wedding.”

“Claire—“

“Especially from the man who came to “check” on me and MY son, and tried to persuade me to come to London alone and leave Fergus with him.”

“What?”

“Oh, he didn’t tell you that? The man who has been in love with you since he was a teenager, told me to come to London alone, and leave my son with him.” I scoff and continue, “He told me that Fergus would be better off with him. That when you would be released, the three of you would be happy together.”

Jamie steps towards me with his arms out in front trying to grab me to pull me close, I just step back from him. “Sassa—“

“That’s not even the worst of it.” I pause and turn my head away from Jamie. “He said it was a good thing that god had decided to take our unborn child.” I pause for a moment feeling sick at the words John Grey spoke to me twenty years ago. “He said it was a blessing.” I say barely louder than a whisper.

“Claire, I had no idea. I’m so sorry. He should never of said any of that.”

“No. No, he shouldn’t have.” I turn to face Jamie again. “He hadn’t even met Fergus. That’s how often he was part of your life after we were married. He didn’t even know our son. But, he thought that he could be a better parent to him than me? He thought that what, you would get out of prison and fall in love with him because he had your son? OUR son? He came by every month before coming to visit you, I assume. I never let him in the house. On a couple of occasions though, he let himself in. I never allowed him near my son. I hated that he would turn up at my place of work if he couldn’t find me at home. I was relieved when he stopped coming by. Then, out of no where, he was stood on my doorstep last week. The only reason I allowed him in was because he made out something had happened to Fergus. He made out that my son was in trouble and needed my help. Turns out, it was just to get in to the house. I don’t like the man Jamie. He doesn’t like me. The only reason he was here was as a favour to you. I think he only agreed this time so he could make sure I wasn’t going to go back to you. He told me about his plan to move back to Scotland. Told me it was for his restaurants. I don’t believe that though. I believe he’s moving to be closer to you.” I pause and take a deep breath, “He told me how he could have you any time he wanted.”

“Claire...”

“It’s none of my business Jamie. Just be careful, alright? He’s clearly still in love with you. I just want to make it clear that I don’t want that man anywhere near me. Or my son for that matter. If I had known who’s restaurant Fergus was visiting that night I was in Glasgow, I would of asked him to pass the job over to someone else. Fergus is an adult, I get that. But, that man Jamie... I don’t want him anywhere near me or my son unless we can help it. Am I clear?”

Jamie nods.

 

 

Jamie’s POV

 

It’s no secret that John had a crush on me when we were younger. I dinna have a problem wi’ people being gay. I’m just not. John has always been a wonderful friend to me though. A great support over the years. Especially during my time in prison and afterwards.

It’s true what Claire said earlier. I did ask him to check on her and see how she and the lad were doing. I didna want them going to see me in that place. It was no place for a son to see his father, or a wife to see her husband. With John checking in on them now and again, it gave me some peace of mind.

The only time John and I had our issues was around the time Claire and I got married. John had tried to talk me out of it. Told me I was too young and I should use my young adulthood to explore and have adventures.

He even tried to tell me that Claire was taking advantage of me. Yes, Claire is older than I. But, only by two years. I was twenty when we were married, Claire was twenty two. Not exactly children. Young aye, but we kent what we were doing.

 

The day before our wedding, John came to me and told me how he was in love with me, and had been for a while. He asked me leave Claire and run away with him. Obviously I said no. I knew John had some kind of feelings toward me, but I assumed it was a crush, and he would get over it in time. I honestly thought the guy was happy for me, but he wasna.

We had a huge row and he didna come to the wedding. He took off down to London and I didna see him for a good two or three years.

We became friendly again, and as time went on, we were back to being the best of friends. Wi’ him living in London though, we didna see each other all that much. I honestly thought he had come round to the idea of being happy for Claire and I, but after listening to all she has said today about John, I realise how wrong I have actually been. He had no right sayin’ anything to Claire about either of our children. No right at all.

As soon as I get home, John Grey is gonna get a verra unexpected visit.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

“...yes Marsali, I know. I miss you too. I’ll see you in a few hours though.”

“Will I see ye though? Are you coming over tonight, or are you going straight home? The fact that Jamie’s been gone a few days, he’ll want Joanie and me at home.”

“I know. Don’t worry, I’ll tell him I’m coming over for dinner tonight. I’m sure he’ll be happy about that. I’m just sorry we won’t get any alone time.”

“It’s okay I suppose. We’ll get plenty alone time tomorrow.”

“Yes we will. I promise.” I pause for a few seconds as I finish packing some things into my case. “Anyway, more importantly, you can’t call Jamie, Jamie. He’s your da Marsali, call him da. He’ll be heartbroken if you start calling him Jamie.”

“I just want you to feel more comfortable around him when I’m there though.”

“I know baby, but it’s fine. Just, don’t call him Jamie, okay? We’ll sit him down real soon and tell him about us, okay?”

“Okay. Any way, hows Claire? She feeling any better?”

“Hmm. She’s insisting on going back to work today. Me and Jamie tried to talk her in to taking another few days off, but you met her. You know how stubborn she can be.”

Marsali laughs down the phone. “Oh I ken fine. Da’s the same. How the hell did they manage being together so long? They’re both as stubborn as each other.”

“That’s probably why they worked so well... until they didn’t.”

There’s a small silence until Marsali breaks it. “You know, ye can call him dad around me Fergus. If ye want me to keep calling him da, ye should call him dad if that’s what ye want.”

“It’s just strange, you know?”

“I ken. We’ll get there though. We’ll be fine. We all will.”

“I know. Well, I better get myself downstairs for breakfast before Mum heads to work. I’ll text you at lunch time. Have fun at school and I’ll see you at yours later.”

“Okay babe. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I hang up my phone, finish packing my things and then head down to eat breakfast with Mum and Dad. Feels strange calling Jamie dad again. It’s good though. It makes me happy. Definitely makes him happy. I think it makes mum happy too.

 

 

When I reach the bottom of the stairs, I can hear Mum and Dad arguing. Not a massive argument like the ones they had before he went to prison, but they’re still snipping at each other. I walk in to the kitchen and they both stop and turn away from each other to say morning to me. They both flash these really uncomfortable smiles at me.

“Morning. You know, you don’t need to stop on my account. I heard worse when I was younger. A LOT worse.” I say casually as I head over to make a cup of coffee.

“Your father was just trying to convince me to call in sick for the rest of the week. And when that didn’t work, he tried to talk me in to moving back to Glasgow with you both.” Mum chuckles. “I mean, if I’m not going to take off some sick days, what makes him think I will resign completely and move to Scotland?”

“Well, if ye insist on stayin’ Sassenach, ye need to promise me ye’ll take proper care of yerself. Any problems, call me and I’ll be here as soon as I can.”

“Oh, shut up Jamie. I’m a grown woman. I took care of myself and Fergus all on my own and we did fine, didn’t we sweetheart?” She asks me.

“Of course.” I walk back over to the table and kiss my mothers cheek and sit down beside her and grab a slice of toast from her plate and turn to face my father, “she’s a strong woman, mum will be fine. We talk often any way.”

Jamie says something in Gaelic under his breath. I cant remember all that much Gaelic to be honest, but I’m sure it was a curse word. Mum and I just give each other a look and then smile before tucking in to breakfast.

 

Jamie’s POV

Well, I tried my best, but she didna budge. She didna even stop to consider taking another few days off work. Even when I suggested stayin’ here with her so she wasn’t alone, she just told me to piss off.

I tried to bring up her coming back to Glasgow with us, but she kept digging her heels in and insisted she’s fine here in London on her own.

I wish I could believe her. Aye, she has her job, but is it worth it? The woman collapsed because she was overworked and unable to take proper care of herself. I suppose there’s nowt I can really do about it though. I just need to let her be.

 

 

“Alright sweetheart, that’s me off to work now. Love you.” Claire shouts up the stairs to Fergus.

“Okay Mum. See you later. Love you too.” Fergus calls back.

Claire smiles at me stood beside her and then starts walking towards the front door wi’out another word.

“Em, excuse me?” I say to her as I follow behind.

“What?”

“Is that it? Yer just goin’ off to work like that? No gonna say anythin’ to me?”

“Jamie, I don’t have time for this, I have to catch the tube or I’ll be late.” She says before reaching for the door handle.

“Claire—“

“Look Jamie, I have to work. I’ll be fine, I promise. I’ll see you later, bye.” And then she just walks out the door.

Is that it? A quick bye as she quickly runs off to work?

Does she really no care that I’m leaving in a few hours? When will we see each other again? Is she gonna allow me to call her? Text her? Are we gonna be able to be friends?

I don’t have a clue because she just dashed out the door with barely a second glance.

Maybe I just need to face things as they are. I have lost her for good.

At least I still have my son, and my girls. I just wish Claire was a part of our family properly as well though. I just ken that the lassies would love her.

 

 

Fergus’ POV

 

The day has consisted of me and Dad just chilling out at home after mum went to work. We done a few things around the house to save mum spending a fortune getting a man in to fix some small jobs for her. We did some housework as well so she wasn’t too overwhelmed when she comes in from work this week.

Dad also managed to get through all two baskets of Mum’s ironing,

“Didn’t know you liked ironing so much?” I tease him.

“I dinna, but when ye’ve twa’ lassies at hame, the ironing pile never seems tae gan down any. I dinna ken how many outfits they need to change in to a day.” He shakes his head.

“Don’t they do their own ironing?” I ask. Mum had me ironing small and easy things when I was ten years old.

“Aye, when it suits them. I dinna mind the ironing to be honest. The lassies are usually good at doing other chores around the house. In fact, it’s verra rarely I need to ask them to do much around the place.” He says.

 

 

Before Mum left for work, she asked if Dad and I would have time to drop by and see her before we left. I thought it was a little strange, but now I figure that she really wanted to see us before we left, and also, make sure we knew she would be alright.

Pretty sure she just wants to see Dad before we leave as well.

 

“Alright, that’s me ready. You all set? Cab will be here soon.”

“Eh? We dinna have to be at the airport for like another couple of hours yet lad.” Jamie responds to me with a confused look on his face.

“I know, but we’re going to visit Mum at work before we go. Didn’t she tell you before she left this morning?” I ask him.

“No. She didna say much as she left. She couldna get out the door quick enough.”

“She must of been running late for the tube. Oh well, you’ll see her soon enough, if you’re ready?”

“I’ll maybe wait in the canteen whilst ye check on yer mam. She made it clear this mornin’ she isna that bothered about me.”

“Seriously? SHE was the one who asked me if we could pop in on our way to the airport. She wants to see you dad.” Jamie looks up at me from his chair with his eyes wide open in shock. “She knows we’re worried about her, so that’s partly why she asked for us to go and see her. So we know that she’s okay.” I pause for a moment and then continue, “ She loves you dad. She’ll want to say goodbye to you.”

 

The cab ride takes almost twenty five minutes due to the city traffic. I forgot how hectic the roads can be in London. I mean, Glasgow’s a city too, but London is a whole other level.

When we get near the hospital, we make a quick stop at the bakers down the street. One of mine and Mum’s favourites in the whole of London. Dad decides on the lentil soup, same as me and what I ordered for Mum, and we each have a buttered roll. Even though we have soup, I order myself and Mum a coffee too as they are the best coffee’s in the area. It may also stop Mum from coming out herself to get one from here.

As we make our way in to the hospital and up to the Mum’s office on her ward, I can see Dad taking in every little detail about the place. The clean grey floors, the freshly decorated white walls. The staff, the patients, the visitors. The signs hanging from the ceiling to direct you to wherever you wish to go.

“Mum’s on the third floor. I would normally just use the stairs, but since we have soup and coffee...”

Dad just nods his head and follows me in to the lift and hesitantly pushes the third floor button for me as my hands are full.

“Well... this place is definitely a LOT different to where yer mam was before in Inverness. Raigmore looks like a community hospital compared to this place.” He says.

I just chuckle. The hospital is HUGE. I can’t even tell you how many wards there are, but the hospital is quite large and has five floors, and that’s only in the main building. There is an outpatients building around the back and then a separate building for maternity. Raigmore is a pretty decent sized hospital. It has to be able to take patients from not only the whole of the highlands, but the islands as well. If someone was to take ill on the Outer Hebrides, and the local hospital can’t provide the correct care, the patient gets air lifted over to Inverness.

Still, it’s no where near as big as this hospital.

 

 

Claire’s POV

 

Work has been so slow so far today. On one hand I’m really grateful for the space and time, but on the other hand... I really miss being in my operating theatre.

A patient came in from the admissions ward earlier, a diabetic who had been left unsupervised for almost ten hours with no one checking his bloods or feeding him and giving him insulin. Apparently they wanted him nil by mouth because they wanted him operated on today. By the time he came up to our ward, he was almost dead. There is no excuse for what happened to that poor man in that ward downstairs. No excuse at all. There was no way in hell that patient was getting surgery today, so the staff in the admissions ward almost killed him.

Luckily one of the nurses on this ward managed to get to him on time and he seems to be doing a bit better, but unfortunately it’s going to take a few days to get his diabetes back on track. It wasn’t even his bloody diabetes that brought him in to the hospital in the first place. It was his gallbladder, and now his organs are starting to shut down due to staff downstairs neglecting his care.

When I overheard a couple of the nurses speaking about the patient outside my office, I went to see if there was anything I could do to help, but Geillis just ushered me back tot my office to continue with my paper work.

I made sure to catch up with the nurse that was handling the patient and asked her to put in a complaint about what state we received the poor man. She was adamant that she would do just that when she had a moment.

I’ve seen it too many times over the last few years, patients, mainly diabetic patients being left without receiving their proper medication. It makes me wonder what nurses these days are getting taught in university. They never seem to have a clue about anything to do with diabetics and how to treat them. It really angers me.

 

When Fergus and Jamie arrive at my office, they walk in on me stressed out to the max as I furiously type out an email to the CEO of the hospital to make my own complaint about the patient.

This is the last thing I need them to see. I can just tell from the look on Jamie’s face, he’s going to try and convince me to go home again and take the rest of the week off.

I can’t do that though.

After I send the email off, I tell Jamie to close the door behind him and take a seat on the couch next to Fergus.

They stopped off at my favourite bakery down the road and brought some food with them. I did manage to eat a banana and some nuts earlier, but the soup and buttered roll and the hot coffee is a welcome surprise.

We dig in to our soups in silence. I can tell that Fergus knows better than to start speaking to me about what’s happened, so he just continues to eat in silence as his father keeps staring at me, desperate to say something.

“It’s just wrong that a patient was left in that state Jamie. The poor man could have died. All because the nurses downstairs are incompetent. I had to send that email.” I say as calmly as possible.

“Fair enough Sassenach, but dae ye really think ye should be at work already? Take a few extra days off.” He replies.

“No. It’s not like I’m out there treating any patients today, or doing any surgeries. I’m stuck in here until I finish my shift at eight. I’m fine.”

“Yer in here Claire, but yer still stressed. Ye’ve been doing so well at hame. Taking another few days off wilna hurt.”

“I’m not going to tell you this again Jamie, I’m fine.” I give him a glare to let him know that we’re not talking about this again.

 

When we finish our food and our coffee’s, the three of us just sit and chat for a little while. Nothing important really, just random chit chat. When they arrive back in Glasgow, Fergus won’t see his girlfriend tonight as he’s going back to Jamie’s to have dinner there and catch up with Jamie’s daughters. Jamie has spoken to them both numerous times since he’s been in London, but he’s anxious to get home and make sure they haven’t wrecked the house after a party and make sure they’ve done all their homework. Fergus lets me know that he made a lasagne and left it in the freezer and he also made me some macaroni and left it in the fridge for my dinner tonight when I get home.

Fergus jumps up from the couch a little while later and says he’s heading to the loo before calling a cab to come and get him and Jamie to take them to the airport. I think he’s just giving Jamie and I a few minutes alone to say goodbye ourselves.

Fergus walks over to me and pulls me up from my chair to give me a tight cuddle and a kiss on my cheek before saying bye and wheeling his case out of my office. He turns outside the door and tells me he loves me. I tell him I love him and thank him for coming down to see me this weekend.

That just leaves Jamie and I in my office. Instead of sitting back down at my desk, I walk over and sit next to Jamie on the couch.

“I’m sorry about rushing out this morning. I just, didn’t want to risk missing the tube and then being late for work.”

“It’s fine.” Jamie says without even looking at me. He stands up and grabs his case to head for the door. “It was good to see ye again Sassenach. Thanks for allowing me to stay this weekend. I just wanted to ken ye were alright.”

I stand up and quickly grab Jamie’s hand. “I’m really glad you came Jamie. Even if there really was no need for you or Fergus to take time off work to come down here. It was nice spending this time together, the three of us.”

“Aye, it was.” He says with a small smile on his lips.

“I’m really glad it’s brought you and Fergus closer together too. He deserves a father Jamie.” I say to Jamie as he slowly moves his head without looking at me. I move closer to him and cup his face with my hands. “You both deserve the chance to be happy and be a proper father and son again.”

“Aye. Ye’ve done a grand job raising him Sassenach. I thank ye for being the parent to our son that I couldna be. I promise ye though, I’ll never let the lad down again. I canna lose him again.”

“I know Jamie. You won’t lose him though. He loves you. He moved all the way to Glasgow to be with you. He needs his father Jamie, he needs you.”

“I canna tell ye how happy it made me the other night when he called me dad. And, to hear him say yesterday that he wants me to be his dad again—“

“I know Jamie, I know.”

“The only thing that could of made this weekend any better would be for ye to tell me you loved me, and for ye to give me a second chance. I so wish ye would come to Scotland wi’ me and the lad Claire. We could be happy again, I ken it.”

“Jamie—“

“Please, just listen to me for a second Sassenach.” I nod at him to continue. “My older lass, she’s eighteen Claire. I fear I may have messed up wi her a bit these last few years. She needed a Mam. As much as I tried, I just wasna enough for her. Jenny and her, dinna get on so much. They’re both strong women and butt heads like no ones business. Jenny has her own lassies, I thought it would be good havin’ my lassies growin’ up wi’ Jenny’s, but they just dinna seem to get on. I fear that now that wee Joanie will be coming a teenager soon, I’ll mess up wi’ her as well. They need a mam Claire, both of them. We could be the family we were always meant to be. You, me and the weans. We could be so happy Claire.”

“I can’t just pack up and move up to Scotland Jamie, I’m sorry. I have a life here, and I’m happy. I really am. I’m sure your girls are wonderful, I know you’ve done a fantastic job with Joanie, I’m sure your other daughter has been raised just as well. They’re your family Jamie. The people here, in this hospital, they’re mine. I do love you though. I never stopped. I doubt I ever will. But, we have been parted for much longer than we ever were together. We have our own separate lives now. We have a son together though, and I really would like to keep in touch with you. Do you think we could be friends?”

“If having ye as a friend is the only way to keep ye in my life Sassenach, friends it is.”

I smile at Jamie before he leans down and brushes his soft lips against mine.

“I love ye Claire.”

“I love you too, but you should go now.”

“Aye.” Jamie pulls away and goes to open the door. “I’ll speak to ye soon then, aye?”

“I look forward to it. Have a safe journey home.”

“We will. Ye take care of yerself.”

“I will.”

Jamie nods his head and then turns to leave. He keeps my office door wide open and I stand and watch at the doorway as Jamie Fraser walks down the corridor of my hospital and disappears.

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

The past couple of weeks since Da and Fergus came home from London has been tough. Fergus and I have rarely managed to spend any quality time together due to him working and me studying so hard for school. And when we do get to spend time together, it’s as a family. Da is always around us making it awkward and difficult.

I don’t ken how much longer Fergus and I can keep this up. We haven’t even been together two months yet, and I feel like our relationship is over before we even got a chance to explore it properly.

I love that man, and there is no doubt in my heart that he loves me just as much. But my head... Christ, it’s like I canny stop overthinking everything to do with me and Fergus. My head tells me things aren’t working and I should let him go. But my heart reminds me how much I love him and want to be with him. It’s difficult. I canny even find five minutes alone to talk any of my thoughts or feelings through with Fergus.

We need to either come out and tell Da about us, or end things. If we do end things, which I hope we don’t, I hope Fergus and I will still be able to be around one another.

Was there any other way Fergus and I could of went about this relationship? Maybe. I don’t ken. It’s so frustrating being in the same room with the love of your life for hours at a time and not being able to hold him or kiss him, or even just hold his hand.

 

A few days after they returned from London, Da had actually asked Fergus to give up his house and move in here with us. It was heartbreaking. On one hand, I really wanted him to because it would of made me so happy living with him, and there’s no doubt that it would of made Da so very happy, but there is no way Fergus could move in to this house and we be in a relationship. It just wouldn’t work.

Fergus had thanked da for the offer, but turned him down and said he was happy having his own place. He’s thirty years old.

They are spending a lot more time together now. Da picks Fergus up every morning and they travel to work together. When they come home, they come here and Fergus eats dinner with us every night. He’s stayed over a few times, not with me obviously, but that was really hard for me. Sometimes I feel like Fergus is happy having his dad again, he doesn’t need me or want me any more. But then he smiles at me and gives me that loving look of his, and I ken he loves me just as I love him.

We definitely need to have a conversation though. I might need to try and enlist some help from Joanie. I don’t think she’d mind though. Even she’s a little gutted for me about how things have been between Fergus and I since London.

 

The landline rings and I hear Joanie answer upstairs. It must be one of her wee friends from school because she hasn’t shouted down to either Da or I. If it is one of her pals though, why didn’t they just text her? When I was that age, Da gave me my first mobile phone because I was starting secondary school and he wanted me to have it for emergencies. All my new friends had one and they would always be texting one another. Da eventually agreed to let me use my phone to stay in contact with my friends, but I was responsible for putting credit in it, and if I ran out, I would need to wait until I got my next allowance to top up. My phone was rarely out of my hand for the first year I had it, but then the novelty wore off and I only really responded to certain people. It’s very rarely I see Joanie sat on her phone. Saying that, she only had a small group of friends at school and she doesn’t really see them out with school. She tends to socialise more with her friends from dance school.

 

Whilst Joanie is rabbiting on to lord knows who on the phone, Da, Fergus and I are sat in the living room. I’m reading Wuthering Heights again, whilst they sit and go through some old photos Da took when we were all on holiday to the Isle of Arran a couple of years ago.

 

After about an hour, I get up to make myself a coffee so I can start revising some more for my history test tomorrow.

When I walk back in to the living room with my coffee, Joanie appears with the house phone from upstairs in her hand.

“That was Claire on the phone. She says she’s doing well. She had something to do, but she said she’ll call back in a wee while. She wants to talk to ye about something Da.” Joanie says as she leaves the phone down beside da on the couch.

“Ye were on the phone to Claire for an hour? What the hell were he’s talking about Joanie?” Da asks her.

Fergus and I give each other a look. Joanie has become pretty obsessed with Claire since meeting her that night at her dance concert. Originally because Claire had praised her on her dancing. But then when Joanie found out who Claire was, she became even more interested in the woman. They speak quite regularly on the phone. Not normally this long though. I think it’s lovely how well Claire and Joanie get on, I mean, Claire and I get on too, but she isn’t aware that her sons girlfriend is also her ex husbands step daughter.

“She was asking how I was getting on at school and asked about my dancing. I told her about the Highland Dancing Competition I’ve entered for the Hogmanay celebrations. I asked her to come. She said she isn’t 100% sure about her shifts over the new year, but she told me that if she can, she’ll be there.” Joanie says with a wide smile on her face. “Yer so lucky to have a mam like Claire, Fergus.” She tells him.

“Oh, I know. She’s one in a million is my mum.” He tells her.

“Did she say what she wanted to speak to me about?” Da asks Joanie.

“No. It was you she called for, but we just got busy chatting ourselves. She said she’ll call back soon though.”

 

When the phone rings no long after, Da grabs the phone as quickly as possible and makes his way upstairs to his room. There’s no way of kennin’ how long he will be busy talking to Claire, but this is the perfect opportunity for Fergus and I to have that talk.

Lucky for me, I don’t even need to ask Joanie, she kens we need the space.

Joanie disappears upstairs to her own room, leaving Fergus and I alone in the living room.

I start to walk over to the arm chair I was sitting on before, but Fergus grabs my hand, takes my coffee and sits it down on the table and pulls me to sit on his lap.

“I love you baby.” He whispers in my ear. I know what he’s doing. He’s reassuring me. Reassuring us both that nothing has changed. But it has.

“I know.” I say back. I wanted to say it strongly and confidently, but it came out as nothing more than a whisper.

“You love me too.” He says. Again, trying to reassure us both.

“I do. But I don’t think it’s enough anymore.” I say quietly as I look down at my twisting hands on my lap. I can’t look him in the eye.

“Please don’t say that baby.”

“Okay, so when Da comes back, we tell him about us.” I say firmly.

“Baby, you know he won’t understand just yet.” Fergus tells me softly as he runs his hand up and down my back soothingly.

“He will never understand Fergus, and the longer we keep hiding, the worse it will be. This is the most you and I have been alone since you came back from London.”

“Marsali—“

“Please, let me finish.” Fergus nods for me to continue. “I would never deny ye building a relationship with Jamie. I would never stand in the way of that Fergus. He’s both deserve to be happy. We canny keep going the way we are Fergus. No like this. Yer right, I do love you. I love you so much it physically hurts sometimes, but we just don’t work anymore. Things aren’t the same.”

“You can’t leave me Marsali. I love you, I want to be with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want us to build a family together.”

“I wanted all that too Fergus. But how the hell is that ever going to happen if ye refuse to tell Jamie about us?”

“We will work this out, I promise you baby. I’ll fix this.”

“It’s too late. Unless we tell Jamie about us, I canny see us moving forward with this relationship. I canny see a future for us if we have to be a secret.”

“Baby plea—“

“I’m sorry Fergus. I need to end this because it’s too difficult. We haven’t done anything wrong, but lately, and I know you didn’t mean to, but ye made me feel like we have done something wrong. Ye made me feel like I wasn’t enough for ye to be honest. I don’t want to be anyone’s sorry little secret. Especially yours.” I kiss Fergus one last time before getting up from his lap, grabbing my school books and heading to bed.

I can hear him trying to call me back, but I just ignore him and go upstairs. Joanie must of heard me crying because she comes out of her room and puts her arm around me and takes me to my room.

 

When I wake in the morning, I can’t believe I actually needed things with Fergus. I start crying again. I canny help it. The tears just don’t seem to stop.

I can feel someone’s arm reaching over my waist and I start to panic thinking he followed me to bed, but to my relief, when I open my eyes and look at the hand resting on my stomach, I see it’s Joanie.

I remember her bringing me to bed last night and sitting with me while I cried and cried and cried. She must have stayed in here with me last night.

“He’ll do the right thing and make it up to ye Marsali. I ken he will. The man is in love with ye.” She tells me quietly as she tucks my hair behind my ear.

“I doubt it Joanie. He has no intention of telling anyone about us.”

“Ye met Claire though. He told her ye were his girlfriend.”

“Aye, but she doesna ken I’m Jamie’s step daughter. I ken he loves me, I just don’t think his love for me is as deep as mine is for him.”

 

After Joanie and I both get ready for school, we make our way downstairs for breakfast. One person I didna expect to see sitting in the chair next to mine, was Fergus.

“Did ye no go hame last night Fergus?” Joanie asks curiously.

“Nah, I told him just to stay. You pair disappeared to bed early last night. He’s didna even say goodnight to me.” Da says.

“We were tired. We both have a lot of tests and I have my first year exams coming up and Marsali has her prelims coming up too. We just needed the rest. Any way, ye were on the phone to Claire.”

“Fair enough. He’s still coulda popped yer heids in though.”

“Sorry Da. We just wanted to give ye some space.”

 

Fergus pours me a cup of coffee, but for some reason I canny stomach it. I think it’s just him being here acting like everything’s fine and we’re one big happy family. I get up and pour the coffee down the sink and grab a banana from the fruit bowl.

“I could do with some air to calm me before my history test this morning. I think I’ll just walk to school.” I say.

“I’ll walk wi’ ye then.” Joanie announces.

“That’s fine. Just make sure the pair of yes eat something decent for breakfast before ye go, aye?” Da says.

“I’m no hungry the now, but I’ll eat this in the way. I promise I’ll get a bowl of cereal or something at school.” I tell him.

“Aye me tae.” Joanie adds.

“Fine, but make sure ye’s do. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Especially when he’s have tests and exams at school.” Da says.

Joanie and I nod before giving da a hug and leaving the house.

 

We barely get down the driveway before Fergus shouts on me.

I just ignore him though and Joanie and I keep walking.

He’s doing the same as he did last night, calling for me to turn back and speak to him, but when I don’t, he doesn’t make much effort to try and get me to talk to him. He gives up way too easily.

To me, that says it all.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

I can’t believe Marsali just ended things between us. I mean, I know it’s been tough since Dad and I came home from London, but he always wants me around, and I can’t say no to him. I don't want to say no to him. I really like having a father again. I like the relationship we’re building. I just... I really didn’t want it to come between Marsali and me.

When she walked up them stairs earlier, I could tell she was crying. I just wanted to grab her and hold her and tell her everything will be alright and we’ll find a way to make it work. I just didn’t know how, so I let her go.

After a good hour or so, dad hadn’t returned from speaking to mum, so I assumed they were still talking. I quietly made my way upstairs and I could hear Marsali crying through the door. When I went to open the door, I had to quickly stop myself because I could hear Joanie in her room with her.

Basically, I was a coward. I should have opened the door and walked in there like a man and held Marsali and tell her I love her. I didn’t do that however, because I was scared of my dad coming out of his room and seeing me in his daughters room with her crying in my arms.

Instead of talking and trying to work things out with the only woman I have ever really been in love with, I turned around and headed back down stairs.

 

When dad eventually comes back downstairs. He looks like he’d been crying himself.

“Is everything alright? Is it mum?” I ask him as he comes towards me.

“Nah, she’s fine son. We just had a lot to talk about. She’s gonna try and come up over the new year to see yer sister compete at the dance contest on Hogmanay. She is a sure if she’ll be able to stay long though because of it bein’ such a busy time of year at her work. She says she’ll try though.”

It wasn’t until that moment that I realised that Jamie really does think of us all as family. I’ve never thought of the girls as my sisters. Not really. They were Jamie’s daughters, but for a long time he wasn’t even my dad, he was just my friend.

I really want to make things right with Marsali and be open and honest with everyone, including dad about our relationship. But, if he thinks of me and Joanie as brother and sister, I assume he thinks that Marsali and I are brother and sister.

I can get on board with Joanie being my little sister. It would be pretty easy actually. I suppose she is like a little sister to me, but Marsali? No way. There is no way that woman is like a sister to me. I love her. I’m IN love with her. I’ve been in love with her a lot longer than I should have been, but I couldn’t help it. There is no way I can let him think that we siblings.

I can’t let her go, but how do I tell my dad that I’m in love with his daughter? I only just got my dad back. What if he doesn’t approve and tells me to stay away from him and Marsali?

I told Marsali that if it came to a choice between her or my father, I would chose her. I still stand by that. I just don’t know how to tell him. If he thinks of us as siblings, he’ll think we’re doing something wrong when we’re not. What if he keeps her away from me and I lose both of them? AND Joanie.

I honestly don’t know what to do. The only person who would understand any of this is upstairs right now crying herself to sleep and there is nothing I can do about it because my dad is stood right in front of me.

“Ye alright lad? Ye look a wee bit distracted.” Dad asks me.

“What? Oh, sorry. I was just thinking.”

“About what?”

“About what you said, referring to Joanie as my sister.”

“Well, she is. Yer both my children. Marsali too of course. Do ye no like having a couple of wee sisters around to annoy ye?”

“I don’t see them as my sisters is all. I mean, I know they are your daughters, and you’re a wonderful father to them, I just... they’re more like really good friends, rather than sisters, you know?”

“Ah, ye and Joanie the gether are just like Jenny and me when we were younger. Always laughing and joking. Teasing each other, prankin’ each other. He’s are definitely like every other brother and sister in the world lad. Might take a bit to get used to, wi’ you being raised an only child.”

I don’t say anything to that. What can I say? He’s really not that wrong. Joanie and I do have a different kind of relationship to anything that Marsali and I have ever had.

“Marsali, well. She’s no the easiest lass to get close to, but I ken she loves ye son. She really looks up to ye. In fact, I think ye movin’ up here has been great for her. I think ye’ve been a really good and calming influence on her. I’ve never seen her so enthusiastic to gan to school I’m such a long time.”

“Yeah, she’s great. I love her too. Just... not like a sister. Marsali is definitely NOT like a sister to me.”

“Nah, I see how close ye’s are. I ken how protective ye are of her. Of both of the, actually. Ye might no see it lad, but yer the best big brother they could ever ask for.”

 

Dad and I sit down to go through some more of our holiday pics from a couple years ago.

“So what else was mum saying then? Joanie said she called for you the first time, so there was obviously something she wanted to talk about.” I ask curiously. I haven’t forgotten that he looked like he had been crying when he came down.

“Not a lot.”

“Wow. I mean you were up there for quite some time. How boring if you just didn’t talk to one another all that time.” I say with a smirk.

“Alright fine. We’ve been speaking almost every day since I came home from London. We’ve been getting on really well and she was just calling to fill me in on her day. It was a day off so she spent some time in town and just chilled out at home. I told yer mam that I was missing her. A lot. She admitted to missing me too and so I asked her why she was reluctant to give us another go. Ye dinna need to ken what all was said, but she said she’s happy the way things are. I called her out on that because I could tell she didna mean it, but... well, ye ken yer mam.”

“I’m sorry. I know how frustrating she can be when she’s stubborn about something.”

“Aye.”

“I also know that she isn’t the only stubborn one in this family. You shouldn’t give up on her dad. She loves you. She just needs reminding of how much. Fight for her. She wants you to fight, she just won’t admit it.”

 

Dad tells me just to stay the night since the girls are apparently both in bed. He has this thing where he doesn’t like any of us walking anywhere in the dark. Even if I am thirty years old and only live about a ten minute walk from here. I agree hoping that it will give a chance to maybe see how Marsali is doing in the morning. Maybe even get Joanie to distract dad so I can speak with her alone. I really don’t want to lose her.

 

 

When the girls come down for breakfast, it’s clear that Marsali isn't happy to see me. I think Joanie is surprised, but isn’t really that bothered.

Both girls decide to walk to school without sitting down to eat breakfast with me or dad.

When the girls go out the door, I go after them as dad heads to his office to sort out his work bag.

I call out for Marsali, but she just ignores me. She doesn’t even turn round to face me. Is she always going to be like this? I don’t know if I can take it. I’ve really hurt her and I don’t know how to fix it.

She thinks I don’t want to tell dad about us because I might lose him. That’s partly true. My biggest concern is what he’ll think of her. What if he turns his back on her as well as me? I couldn’t take that. She’s already lost her mother. My dad is the only parental figure she has in her life. He’s her dad too. I don’t want her to lose him. I don’t want to be what comes between them.

 

 

It’s been a pretty hectic day at work so far. There’s still another couple of hours left, but my head isn’t in it. Luckily I have done all the work I can possibly do. I’m waiting on someone to call me with a quote or two I can use in the article I’m writing. If they would just call, I can add the quote to the article and get it sent to dad and then I can leave.

I’m struggling being stuck in this office all day though, I need to see Marsali. I need to get her to talk to me.

I grab my jacket, my phone and my wallet and head out of my office and walk to my dad’s.

“Hey dad, I’m just heading out to see if I can get them quotes from Mr Andrews on the poverty statistics in the area. The quotes is the only thing I need to get the article finished. He hasn’t called me yet, so I thought I’d go speak to him in person.”

“Aye that’s fine lad. Ye alright? Ye look a bit distracted.”

“Yes, sorry. It’s just frustrating waiting on a call, you know? I just want this article finished and then I can get home.”

“Alright. Ye comin’ for dinner tonight? The Joanie is in the mood to make some carbonara apparently. She made it in school a few weeks ago and now she’s obsessed with making it.”

“Sounds good. I’ll text you and let you know, okay?”

Dad nods and throws me the keys to his car since I always come in with him now and never bring my own car. I turn and walk out of the building and head to the car to drive to the school. If I remember correctly, Marsali has a study period, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find her.

 

The first stop I make is to see Mr Andrews at the old church in the area that has been turned in to a shelter for homeless women and children.

He’s working in the kitchen with some of the other volunteers, but he takes a break for a few minutes to speak with me about the article I wrote and gave me quite a few quotes to add to it.

I thank him very much for his time and tell him what a wonderful thing he and the rest of the volunteers are doing in the community. The community is very divided about turning the old church in to a homeless shelter, this is why I thought it was important to write about it. Give the community a chance to see what it is exactly and how much a shelter like this in the area is helping.

 

 

When I get to the school, I can see Marsali and her friend Lizzie walking down the path to the library building. I get out of the car and jog down the path to meet them. I call her, repeatedly, but just like this morning, she doesn’t acknowledge me being there.

I can see Maggie and some other people approaching the girls.

“Oh, hiya Fergus. How are ye?” Maggie asks me as I get closer to the group.

“I’m fine thanks, how are you?”

“Aye, no bad. When ye comin’ round wi’ Uncle Jamie? My mam’s desperate to see ye.”

“I’ll try and get round soon. Things have just been a bit busy lately.” I say as Marsali starts to walk away from the group.

A boy walks behind her and pulls her by the hand back to stand with the group. He starts whispering in her ear and I can tell she’s uncomfortable.

“Marsali, I really need to speak to you about something. The fact that I’ve come to your school tells you how important it is that we speak.” I tell her. She just rolls her eyes at me.

“You must be Marsali’s brother.” The boy standing with Marsali states before shoving his hand out between us for me to shake. “I’m Stephen. Her boyfriend.”

I look at Marsali in shock. Is this guy for real? Has she really gone back to him less than twenty four hours after leaving me. Without even giving us the chance to talk properly?

“We’re not together Stephen. Not any more. Ye had yer chance and ye blew it. I deserve better. I deserve better than men just wanting to use me for sex. I deserve better than being used as an accessory in front of your friends. I deserve better than the way ye speak to me and treat me.” She turns her head to look at me. “I deserve better than catching a quick kiss here and there when no ones around. I deserve better than being someone’s dirty little secret.”

I know them last statements were about me. Luckily, I don’t think anyone else standing here noticed, except Lizzie. Of course she would know. She’s Marsali’s best friend. Marsali would of told her exactly what happened last night.

Stephen says something under his breath and starts to walk away. All his friends follow on behind him, leaving just Maggie, Lizzie and Marsali stood with me.

“Marsali, ye could do a lot worse than Stephen. And he really does like ye. He Ken’s he acted like a pillock, but he really does want to make it up to ye.” Maggie says.

“It’s too late. I need to focus on myself right now and what I want for my future. I dinna have the time to be in a relationship that just isn’t workin’. I’m sure he’ll move ion to some other lass soon.” Marsali replies.

Maggie shrugs her shoulders and walks away.

Lizzie whispers something to Marsali and then walks away towards the library.

“Marsali please—“

“There’s nothing left to say Fergus. Unless ye’ve changed yer mind and yer willing to tell Da.”

“Baby, please just give me five minutes, that’s all I ask.” Marsali shrugs and then walks towards dad’s car. I suppose it will be better having this conversation in the car rather than out in the open.

 

We sit in the car, but neither of us can speak. I don’t know where to begin to make this better. To make everything alright again.

I reach ,y hand over to take Marsali’s hand in mine. Tears start to fall from her eyes. I just want to take her in my arms and hold her and tell her everything will be alright.

“Baby, please don’t cry. I hate seeing you so upset.” I say to her as I wipe her tears away with my thumb.

“All I need to ken is if ye’ll tell Da. If no, there is nothing to say Fergus.”

 

I tell Marsali that I would love nothing more than to shout it to the world that I am hers and she is mine, but it isn’t the right time. She tells me it will never be the right time, and she’s right. I try explaining to her that she has things wrong. I tell her that my reasons for not wanting to tell dad about us is different to what she thinks. I tell her that the main reason I don’t think we can tell him yet is because I don’t want her losing the only parent she has left. I have lived without Jamie as my father for twenty one years, I can do it again if I have to. But it isn’t fair to ask Marsali to lose the only parent she’s really known. She was so young when her mother died. Jamie is everything to her and Joanie.

None of what I say changes Marsali’s mind though and she tells me firmly that we’re over before leaving the car and heading to the library.

 

I finish off the article and email it over to dad. I grab my things and leave the office again. This time, I walk home. I didn’t even tell dad I was leaving.

When I get home, I grab my suitcase and pack it. I don’t really have a plan. I just know I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to sit and eat dinner with her every night and hang out as if everything is fine when it isn’t.

 

I get to the train station and I purchase a one way ticket for the first available train. I don’t even know where I’m headed for, but I know that the train leaves from platform twenty two.

I walk over to the platform in a daze. I board the train and put my ear phones in as soon as I sit down. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to be left alone.

It isn’t until I have to show my ticket that I realise where I’m going.

Apparently I have a long journey ahead of me. Five hours on a train is a long time. I should of went to the airport. It only takes about an hour and a half.

 

When the train gets to London. I don’t know if I should go to a friends and crash for a few days or go home. Mum will want to know what happened, and I could really do with talking to her, but what if she talks to Jamie and says something about it or mentions Marsali by name? I don’t know what to do.

Before I can make up my own mind, my mother appears right in front of me.

“Darling? What the bloody hell are you doing here?” She asks me.

“I could ask you the same thing.” I tell her.

“Well, I was planning on surprising you in Glasgow.”

I burst out in to tears and my mum doesn’t hesitate for a second before pulling me in to her arms.

 

I want to be here. With her. I don’t want to go back to Scotland. I want to be at home, in London. Just me and mum.

Chapter Text

Jamie’s POV

 

I’ve tried calling Fergus at least twelve times, but his phones turned off. He left work early wi’out a word to anyone. I’ve been to his house and his car is in the drive, but he doesna seem to be home. 

 

I’ve asked the girls if they’ve heard from him, but they say they havena seen or heard from him since this mornin’. None of his pals in Glasgow seem to ken where he is either. 

 

He was seein’ some lass, but I dinna ken who she is or where she lives. Hell, I dinna even ken the lass’ name. If he was stayin’ wi her the night though, why no say so? It doesna make any sense. He never just disappears like this. Well, no since he was a wee lad anyway. He was always taken off and hidin’ in the woods somewhere near the lake.

 

 

 

It’s gettin’ late now and it’s dark outside. The rain is gettin’ heavier and heavier. I dinna want him out in that. 

 

I’m runnin’ out of ideas now and I need to call Claire. She’s gonna flippin’ kill me. Fergus may be an adult now, but he’s still our lad, and somethin’ isna right.

 

 

 

I have the girls keep tryin’ his mobile and landline to see if he answers them whilst I call Claire.

 

 

“Jamie? It’s quite late. What’s up?” She asks me.

 

“Sorry Sassenach. Did I wake ye?” Claire has been sleepin’ a lot more than usual lately. I think it’s the stress of her job.

 

“Ah, no. I think I’ll be up for a while yet.” She tells me.

 

“Right. Look. I dinna want to worry ye Sassenach, but it’s been hours since I’ve seen him now, so I thought I better let ye ken—“

 

“What are you rambling about Jamie? Been hours since you saw who?”

 

“It’s Fergus, Claire. He’s missin’.”

 

“Missing?”

 

“Aye. He left work early wi’out a word. He was meant to come over for dinner, but he hasna. His car is in his drive, but he’s no hame Claire. No one has seen or heard from him. I dinna ken what to do Claire. I’m so sorry.”

 

“Jamie, Fergus is here.”

 

“Eh?”

 

“I thought you knew. Jamie, if I knew he didn’t tell you, I would of called you straight away. I just assumed you knew.”

 

“Naw. He didna say a word. Is he alright? He did seem a bit distracted the day. I just thought it was stress at work wi’ deadlines and what not.”

 

“It’s nothing to do with work, and before you ask... it’s nothing to do with you either. He’s really upset Jamie. I haven’t seen him this upset since... well, since he lost you.”

 

“Has he told ye what happened?”

 

“He and his girlfriend broke up last night apparently. He tried to speak with her today, but she was having none of it apparently. He packed a bag and before he knew it, he was in London.”

 

“Christ. Did he say why they broke up?”

 

“No. I’m trying slowly to get him to open up. I don’t want to push him too far and then he doesn’t tell me anything.”

 

 

 

Claire and I spend a good half hour on the phone speaking about Fergus. 

 

 

I tell the lassies that he’s doin’ okay and he just wanted to spend sometime wi’ his mam after a fall out wi’ his girlfriend. I dinna want to worry them. They both care about Fergus a lot. 

 

 

 

 

I organise for Fergus to take a week off, and no more. Claire told me he’s quite happy to work from London, and that’s fine wi’ me cause I ken my son, and I ken that he’ll still be able to do what’s needed to be done. He’s a hard worker and he loves his job. It’s important to him.

 

 

 

 

I wake at 4am with a text message from Fergus.

 

 

Hey. Sorry I took off like that without saying anything. It was unprofessional and unforgivable. Mum says you have allowed me to work from home this week. Thank you. I hate to let you down, but is it possible for me to work from home for two weeks? It will be my two weeks notice. I’ve decided to stay here in London with Mum. I’ll hire someone to pack up my house and get everything shifted down here. I’m not asking you for anything, I don’t deserve it. I’m only asking for you to let me go.

 

I have to read his text at least three times to make sure I’m reading this properly.

 

I try to call Fergus, but he’s turned his phone back off. I dinna want to call Claire’s house and disturb her sleep.

 

Things must have really turned with his girlfriend then if he’s plannin’ on stayin’ in London. I dinna ken what’s happened, but one thing I ken for sure, I’m no lettin’ my son go wi’out a fight. I only just got him back in my life properly. I’ve already lost Claire. I canna lose them both. No again.

 

 

 

 

 

Marsali’s POV

 

 

Since Fergus returned from London a couple of weeks ago, I have been feeling a little off. Light headed, nauseas, headaches, tiredness. 

 

I thought it was just stress about the state of our relationship.

 

After da told me last night that Fergus had took off down to stay with Claire for a while, I was devastated. I don’t even know how to describe exactly how I felt. All I wanted from him was for us to be able to be open and honest about or relationship with those closest to us. 

 

He just took off though. Wi’out a single word or a text. It stressed me out so much last night not knowing where he was or what he was doing. It just isn’t like him to do something like this.

 

When Da told me it was because he and his girlfriend split. I felt so guilty. Da was in pieces last night no kennin what was going on, and it was all my fault.

 

 

 

It wasn’t until Joanie came to my room late last night to ask me if I had any sanitary pads as she had ran out. I gave her a few from an unopened packet and I realised that I haven’t used any.

 

I didn’t say anything to Joanie though, but I did go through my diary to check when my last period was. 

 

I thought again that it was maybe down to the stress of everything just making me late, but who the hell was I kidding? Fergus and I never once used a condom when we made love. I hadn’t even made an appointment to see my GP about my options for contraception. 

 

 

 

First thing this morning, I ran down to the shop along the road and bought a home pregnancy test. It’s new people that have taken over the store, and we really don’t use that store all that much, so they dinna really ken who I am.

 

 

Of course the test came up positive.

 

Fan. Fucking. Tastic.

 

 

 

I think I knew deep down for at least a couple of weeks. I was just trying to block it out because I knew that there was no way Fergus and I could keep going the way we were and have a happy future.

 

Now we’ve split up and I’m pregnant with his child. Our child.

 

There is no doubt on my mind that Fergus would step up and do right by me. But, would he feel like he has no choice but to come clean to Da about us, JUST because of the bairn. Would he blame me? Would da kick me out? Would I be left to raise my child all on my own?

 

If I was to call Fergus and tell him, would he come back? Would he stay in London? Would he be willing to try and make things work properly and actually admit to Da about how we feel for each other. 

 

We won’t actually ken how da will react to our relationship until we actually tell him. It wasn’t that long ago when I thought that my love for Fergus was strong enough to to see us through anything. 

 

I can deal wi’ losing my relationship wi’ Jamie if it means I still have Fergus, but he just doesn’t get that. 

 

Rather than even consider telling Jamie about us, Fergus jumped on a bloody train and took off down to London! What the hell? I know I ended things, but I genuinely thought that he loved me enough to at least consider coming clean.

 

I wish my mother was here. I wish I had someone to talk to about this. But there’s no one though. 

 

I’m all alone.

 

Alone and pregnant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claire’s POV

 

 

After breakfast, Fergus and I sit down and talk some more about his break up from Marsali. Whatever happened, I don’t know how to advise him to fix it. He isn’t telling me the whole story. I know when my son is holding things back from me.

 

“Sweetheart, I can only help you if you tell me the full story.”

 

“I can’t mum. You’ll hate me.” He says as he starts to sob again.

 

I haven’t seen my son this cut up about something since Jamie stopped contact with him when he was in prison. Fergus was heartbroken.

 

“I could never hate you Fergus, I love you. I could be disappointed, but I could never hate you.” I tell him softly. Trying to reassure him so he will open up more. “Did you cheat on Marsali? Is that what happened?” I ask.

 

Fergus looks at me in horror. “No! God no. I could never be unfaithful to her.”

 

“Alright, I’m sorry. I just... don’t understand why you think I would hate you.”

 

Fergus takes a deep breath and then begins to speak, “The thing is mum, Marsali is—“

 

*Ring ring...

 

Fergus is cut off by my phone ringing. It’s Jamie.

 

“Sorry sweetheart. It’s your father. He’s really worried about you.”

 

I answer the phone and speak briefly to Jamie before trying to pass the phone to Fergus. He shakes his head in refusal, so I continue speaking to Jamie. 

 

I am deeply confused at the fact Jamie is telling me about a text Fergus sent his father at four in the morning. Fergus never even hinted to me that he wasn’t going home to Glasgow. He’s even spoke in his text of quitting his job at Jamie’s paper, and getting movers in to bring his belongings down to London.

 

 

“Right. Fergus and I have some things to discuss here. I will see if I can get us a flight tomorrow. If we can’t get a flight, we will get the train to Glasgow and he will speak to you in person. He’s a grown man Jamie, I won’t let him run away from his life and his professional responsibilities over some girl. That is NOT how I raised him.” I tell Jamie with Fergus sat right next to me.

 

Fergus turns to give me a disapproving look, but I don’t care. He had commitments and responsibilities in Glasgow. Just because his father owns the paper he works for, doesn’t mean he should get am easy ride.

 

“If the lad wants to take a few days in London, that’s fine Sassenach. Ye canna force him to come home when he clearly doesna want to be here yet.” Jamie tells me.

 

“I don’t care Jamie. People break up all the time. What makes Fergus bloody Fraser so special he can just do what he wants?” I snap, making sure my son can tell how frustrated I am with him right now. I don’t mean to be so hard on him, but unless he tell me or his father the whole story, neither of us can help him. And frankly, I have enough of my own problems to deal with right now.

 

“Sassenach! What the hell has gotten in to ye? The lads obviously hurtin’.”

 

 

 

 

I hang up with Jamie and turn to make my son look at me. 

 

“I mean it Fergus.” I tell him firmly. “It’s obvious you’ve gotten yourself in to some kind of trouble. I need you to tell me what’s happened so I can help. If not, I WILL take you back to Glasgow and your dad can try and help you.”

 

“Marsali broke up with me because I refused to tell dad about us.” Fergus tells me so softly, I could barely hear him.

 

“Okay... did she want to meet your father? Is that what you mean? Are you not ready?” I ask him as gently as possible, hoping not to come on too strong.

 

Fergus sits back on the couch and runs his hands over his face.

 

“Fergus sweetheart, you said before that it was early days. You’ve been together almost two months now. Don’t you think your dad would like to meet Marsali too?” I ask.

 

“Jamie knows Marsali.”

 

“Oh? Is that why you don’t want him to know? Does he not like her? I’m sure he will darling. I absolutely adore Marsali, and I think you two make a beautiful couple.” I tell him.

 

Fergus stands up abruptly and paces across the living room floor.

 

Eventually he stops in the middle of the room and turns to face me. His eyes are all red from the tears.

 

“Promise me you won’t hate me. We weren’t doing anything wrong. She’s eighteen.” He cries.

 

“I know that sweetheart. I know.” I say as I stand up to go and wrap my arms around him. “Did her parents find out about you two? Do they not approve? What does that have to do with Marsali wanting you to tell your father about your relationship?” I know I’m asking a lot, but I just can’t make any sense of what actually happened between them.

 

“Her mother died when she was younger. Her father doesn’t know about us. That’s why she dumped me.”

 

“I thought you said she dumped you because you refused to tell your father about your relationship?”

 

Fergus takes a deep breath and backs away from me. He can’t look me in the eye. He’s focusing on my mobile sat on the coffee table. “Marsali is Joanie’s older sister. She’s Jamie’s step daughter.”

 

 

What the fuck?!

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

 

“I’m sorry? Marsali is Jamie’s daughter?” My mum asks me with a confused look on her face.

 

Step daughter. Yes.”

 

“Fergus, how on earth could you let this happen? She is your father’s daughter!” She snaps at me.

 

“Mum, you don’t understand. Please, just let me explain.” I beg her.

 

“Damn right you’ll explain!” She tells me firmly.

 

 

 

After sitting down and telling mum the whole story, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

 

“You really love her.” It isn't a question. I nod my head yes. “And I know she loves you Fergus. Judging by everything you have just said, I imagine Marsali ended things because she isn’t comfortable hiding this relationship from Jamie any longer. I can’t say I blame her.” Mum pauses for a moment and takes my hand. “I do however see your point as well. I don’t think Jamie will take this well. And even though technically you and Marsali haven’t done anything wrong, you are both Jamie’s children. I think he will come round though, with time. When he sees for himself how perfect you and Marsali are together, I’m sure he will support you both. I think we need to get you home so you can have a proper conversation with Marsali about what you both want from the future. If she is willing to take you back sweetheart, you need to be honest with your father.”

 

“I’m not worried about losing him from my life. I mean, it would suck, but he wasn’t my dad for a really long time, mum. I can live without him. It’s Marsali I’m worried about. She lost her mother when she was a child. Dad is all she has left. She can’t stand Jenny, and there really is no one else for her. She needs Jamie. I can’t let her lose the only family she has left.”

 

“That’s very admirable of you sweetheart, but doesn’t Marsali get a choice in this? It’s her life too. There is no doubt things will be awkward with your father for a little while, but I know him darling. He will come round. I promise you that. At the end of the day, it only comes down to one question. Do you want to be with Marsali or not?”

 

“Of course I do. I love her.”

 

“Then you need to sort this out. Running away to London isn’t helping any one, is it?”

 

 

 

 

Mum and I spend the majority of the day talking about Marsali. I tell her about all the things I love about her. Her sense of humour. Her stubbornness. How she fights with Joanie, but at the end of the day, she loves her sister more than life and would do anything she can to protect her. I love her smile. I love her enthusiasm and drive for doing anything creative. She’s a beautiful artist. Wickedly smart. She can be whatever she wants to be. I just love her. Plain and simple. I love the way she makes me feel. I love the way I am when I’m with her. She’s my world, and without her, I’m lost.

 

 

 

Mum tells me she has booked us a flight for tomorrow. She has suggested I call Marsali and ask if she will meet me after school.

 

Her phone keeps ringing out though. She doesn’t answer. 

 

I call Joanie next, because she knows about Marsali and me. Hopefully she can help me sort this mess. 

 

When Joanie answers the phone, she barely takes a breath. “Fergus, Da says ye dinna want to come back Is that true?”

 

“Hey squirt. I’m okay thanks, how are you?” I joke.

 

“This is serious Fergus!” She snaps at me down the phone. “Da is devastated. He doesna want to lose ye again, and Marsali...”

 

“How is Marsali? I tried to call, but she won’t answer.” I say.

 

“She’s locked herself in her room. Didn’t go to school today. Said she had a migraine. She won’t talk to me. She misses ye Fergus. All she wanted was for you’s to be like any other couple. You couldn’t give her that though.”

 

“I’m going to fix this Joanie, I promise. I love your sister more than anything, I’m lost without her. I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping our relationship a secret, but I was wrong. I’m coming home tomorrow. I need your help to get her to speak with me. I don’t want to tell Jamie about us until I’ve spoken to her. Ideally, I would like us to tell him together.”

 

“That’s all she wanted Fergus. I’ll try and get her to call you tonight, but no promises. She hasn’t left her room all day apparently. Da’s the same. He’s heartbroken ye left Fergus. He’s already heartbroken over yer Ma, to lose you as well is killing him.”

 

“I promise squirt, I will fix this. Even if it takes Jamie years to come round to the idea of me and Marsali being together, I don’t care. I’m sick of hiding how much I love her.”

 

 

 

When Joanie and I finish what we need to talk about, I hand the phone over to mum so she can speak with Joanie. I really like how they’ve bonded. Seeing my mum speak with Joanie on the phone, her face just lights up. It reminds me of how Joanie looks when I see her speaking with mum on the phone. 

 

It’s a shame Mum couldn’t of been Joanie’s mother. 

 

My mother is a mother without a daughter, and Joanie is a daughter without a mother. They would make the perfect little family if my mum just did what she really wants and got back together with Jamie. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t manage to speak to Marsali last night. She kept ignoring my calls. She did however, text me and asked me to go round to the house when I got to Glasgow as she wasn’t going to school. She agrees we have some things to discuss. I just hope that she isn’t skipping school because of my actions lately.

 

 

 

 

Not long after landing in Glasgow though, Marsali texts to say that Jamie didn’t go to work, so she wants to meet me at my place instead. I told her that was fine. Mum said she has something important to discuss with Jamie, so she will head straight over to his place and give Marsali and I some time to talk.

 

 

 

*Knock knock

 

 

I know who it is before I even open the door. 

 

“Hey baby. Thank you for coming.” I move to the side and let Marsali by me. She doesn’t say anything though. She looks tired and miserable. I’ve caused this. I’ve made her miserable. “You didn’t need to knock.” I tell her.

 

“Are ye back for good, or is this just a flying visit?” Marsali asks me softly without making any eye contact.

 

“I’ve come back to try and make things right between us Marsali. I love you and I hate how things ended between us. I’ve hurt you, badly. I’ve hurt us both.”

 

“I can’t go back to the way things were Fergus. I can’t be in a secret relationship with ye.”

 

“I’m not asking you to Marsali. I want us to talk and decide what we want for us and our future. Then, if we think we can make this work, I want to go and tell Jamie that I am in love with his daughter. If he doesn’t approve, I will be disappointed, but it won’t stop how I feel about you Marsali. I love you. I love you so much it has been a physical pain without you these past few days.”

 

“I love ye too Fergus, but there’s something else we need to discuss before we can even think about us trying to make this relationship work and telling Jamie.” She explains as she sits down on the couch. Her hands are shaking.

 

“Baby, are you alright? You’re shaking.”

 

“Can ye get me a glass of water please?” She asks in a whisper.

 

 

 

When I come back with her glass of water, she gulps it down her and leaves the empty glass on the table beside the couch.

 

“I’ve been feeling a bit off for a couple of weeks now. It wasn’t until the night ye left, I realised that I’m late.” She lifts her head to search my eyes for some sort of reaction of some sort.

 

“You mean—“

 

“I took a test yesterday morning and aye, I’m pregnant Fergus. We’re havin’ a bairn. Well, I am. I dinna expect anythin’ from ye. It’ll be tough, but I’m prepared to do whatever I can to raise this child myself if I have to.”

 

“What do you mean? Of course you’re not raising our child alone Marsali.” I tell her softly as I move to sit down beside her and take her hand in mine. “I meant what I said before, I want this to work. I love you, and I want to be with you. You’re pregnant with my child, this doesn’t change anything. In fact, it makes things even more perfect.”

 

“Seriously? I’m pregnant, and yer happy about it?”

 

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be. I mean, the timing could have been better. You’re still in school. You have exams coming up. You were looking in to Universities. Having a baby means we both need to re evaluate a lot about our lives. I’m sure it will be worth it.”

 

“Really? Ye think we can do this? Together?”

 

“If Jamie can’t accept our love, that’s fine. You and this child are all I need Marsali.”

 

She smiles and moves to straddle me and we kiss more passionately than we ever have.

 

 

 

I’m going to be a father.

 

 

 

 

 

Claire’s POV

 

 

I’ve never felt more anxious than I do right now.

 

What is it about James Fraser that gives me butterflies in my stomach? Even after all these years.

 

What the hell is he going to think? About any of it?

 

I can’t hold off on telling him any longer than I already have. 

 

 

 

*Knock knock.

 

I take a deep breath just as Jamie opens his door. 

 

“Sassenach, yer here! Where’s the lad?”

 

“He um, had some things to sort out. I wanted to give him some space. I have something I really need to discuss with you anyway, and I’d rather do it without an audience if that’s all right?” Jamie nods and steps a side to let me in. “Are the girls home?”

 

“Ah no. Ye just missed Marsali, she’s nipped over to the school to collect some school work she missed yesterday and today. She’s had a bad migraine. Could barely lift her head fae her pillow when I checked in on her this morning.”

 

“Oh that’s awful. Does she suffer with migraines a lot?”

 

“Sometimes. She’s no had one in a while though. She seems to be a little better now, hence the going to collect some work from school. Joanie is at school too. She wilna be home for a while yet Sassenach, so it’s just the two of us.”

 

I smile at Jamie and accept his invitation to sit down at the kitchen table as he makes us some tea.

 

“I was hoping ye and Fergus would of been home earlier in the day. I wanted to spend as much time wi’ him before he leaves again.”

 

“Oh, well... I um, sorry. That’s my fault. I’ve been a bit... sluggish in the mornings recently, and getting a flight first thing just didn’t appeal to me at all. As for Fergus leaving, I don’t think he will. Regardless of whether he and his girlfriend manage to work things out, I don’t really think there is much for him in London any more.”

 

“Well, there’s you. I think it says it all about mine and his relationship when he felt he couldna turn to me when his heart was hurtin’. He jumped on a train and went to you.”

 

“Yeah, but I don’t think he planned it that way. As far as I can make out, he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. He didn’t even realise he was on a train to London until he handed his ticket over. I think he was just as shocked to see me at the train station as I was to see him.”

 

“You were at the station? Why?”

 

“Oh, um... well, I was actually coming to see you. I know it was a late train, but I was planning on coming to see you the next morning. I thought that because I had already made up my mind, I should come straight away so I couldn’t back out.”

 

“Back out of what Sassenach?”

 

“Oh god. You’re going to hate me Jamie.” I start pacing the floor, avoiding Jamie’s eyes.

 

Jamie walks towards ,e and take a hold of my shoulders to keep me still. “I could never hate ye Claire. I love ye. What’s on yer mind? Tell me.”

 

“I’m pregnant.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie’s POV

 

“Yer.. yer pregnant?”

 

She nods her head. I can see the tears fillin’ her wee golden whisky eyes. Is she happy about the news? Is she upset? I canna tell.

 

“Well then, I suppose congratulations are in order.” I sigh as I get up to move towards the island, keeping my back to Claire.

 

“You seem a bit—“

 

“Ye said ye werna wi’ anyone Claire.”

 

“Excuse me?” She asks with a bite in her tone.

 

I turn to face her. “Who’s the father?” I ask softly.

 

“Oh for goodness sakes! Considering you are the only man I have slept with in the past couple of months, it’s quite obviously you.”

 

I snap my head up to look at her. Tears falling from her eyes. She looks hurt and confused. “Sassenach, why didn’t ye just tell me when I was in London? I knew somethin’ was up.” I walk towards her to pull her in to my arms.

 

“I didn’t know. I thought it was stress, but when things weren’t getting any better, Geillis ran some tests for me the other day and, well... I’m pregnant.”

 

I move my head back slightly so she can see the smile on my face. Claire smiles back at me. This beautiful smile that’s reaching all the way up to her eyes. “We’re havin’ a bairn?” 

 

“We are, yes.” 

 

“I dinna want to push ye Claire, but—“

 

“The reason I haven’t been working the last few days, is because I’ve already resigned. When Fergus bumped in to me at the station, I was coming home Jamie.”

 

“To Scotland?”

 

“To you.”

 

I lift Claire’s chin with my index finger and move my lips softly over hers. The kiss is soft and gentle, but then I can feel Claire’s tongue slide over my lips and I know she want me to give her access. I do. Our tongues dance together, and I canna help but smile as she kisses me.

 

My wife.

 

She’s come home to me. Finally.

 

 

 

When we finally break apart for some air, neither of us can take our eyes for each other. 

 

I do have a question though.

 

“Claire, are ye only here because of the bairn? If ye werna pregnant, would ye still be stood here now?”

 

“No Jamie, it’s not because of the pregnancy, although, I do think it is a sign that I made the right decision. I resigned two days before I found out I was pregnant. I had some things to sort out, but I just wanted to be here with you right away. I couldn’t get here until the other night, but then Fergus...”

 

“Does he ken? Have ye told him? About the bairn? About ye comin’ home?”

 

“No. He had his own things to deal with. Speaking of, I really need to speak to you about something. And I need you to promise to stay calm and listen to everything I tell you before you react. I’m serious Jamie, if you don’t do as I ask, I will leave this house and I will take Fergus back to London with me.”

 

“I promise I wilna say anythin’ until ye say I can Sassenach. I’m no gonna lose you and the lad, no now. And no this wee one either.” I say with a mighty grin as I place my verra large hand over Claire’s tiny stomach.

 

“We should sit. Preferably in the living room.”

Chapter Text

Claire’s POV

 

I know it isn’t really my place to say anything about the kids to Jamie, but if I can just warn him about what’s happened, he might be easier on Fergus and Marsali.

I hope.

 

We sit down in the living room. If he is going to take it badly, I’d rather be sitting comfortably with not too many sharp objects around or a massive kitchen table that Jamie could easily over turn in a rage.

 

“What’s wrong Sassenach? Is it the bairn? Fergus? What?”

“It’s about Fergus and his girlfriend.” I say warily.

“What about them? Did they sort things out?”

“I’m not sure. They are planning to meet up and talk today, I just don’t know how things will go between them. I do know that he loves her, very much. He hasn’t felt like this about anyone before. He hasn’t told you much about her because he was worried how you would react.”

“To what? Is she a bad lass like?”

“No, god. Of course not. She’s actually a really lovely young woman. I get on really well with her in fact.”

“Ye’ve met the lass then?”

“Yes, a few times when I was here staying. She was at the house a few times. We got chatting and we really hit things off actually. The thing is Jamie, she’s only eighteen.”

“Eighteen? Christ, that’s the age our Marsali is. Ah well. I ken our son, he wouldna dae anythin’ to hurt the lass. She’s got a good yin. She’s lucky to have a lad like our Fergus. Why was he worried about how I would react Sassenach? As long as they’re both consenting adults, it’s none of my business.”

“Right. Exactly. Except...”

“Except what Sassenach?”

“Jamie, Fergus has been seeing Marsali. Your Marsali.” I say to Jamie softly.

“Sorry, what did you just say? Yer sayin’ my son has been in a relationship wi’ my daughter? Christ Claire, they’re brother and sister for cryin’ out loud. And ye kent all about this?!” He practically yells at me. Not that I can really blame him to be honest.

“No, not until he came to London. When I was here and I met Marsali, I wasn’t aware she was your daughter. Neither of them told me she was yours. Jamie, I swear to you I didn’t know. If I did, I would have made them come clean straight away.”

“Ye honestly didna ken she was mine?” He asks confused.

“Of course not. How would I? I didn’t even know of Joanie’s existence until the night at the dance concert. Fergus never told me about them. We never spoke about you or your life. I didn’t want to know. When we spoke of your daughters, you never mentioned Marsali by name. If you had, I might of put the pieces together and I swear Jamie, I would have told you or got the kids to open up to you themselves.”

“I need to ken what happened Claire.”

 

Jamie and I sit calmly as I fill Jamie in on what little I know of their relationship and how things started. He’s doing as I asked and allowing me to speak. He seems to be taking everything in.

 

“Dae ye think they’ll sort it out then?”

“I’m not sure. He is lost without her Jamie. I haven’t seen Marsali, or spoken to her, but I think she’s just as lost without him. They really do make a wonderful couple. Fergus just... Fergus’ main concern was your reaction. Not because he was worried about himself and losing you, but because he was worried you would turn your back on Marsali. He didn’t want her to lose the only parent she has. He couldn’t do that to her. He didn’t want to keep their relationship a secret, but he didn’t want to lose Marsali and he didn’t want her to lose you.”

“It’s strange Claire. I canna understand how I didna ken? How did I miss it? She’s no been right these last couple of weeks. I put it down to revision and school, but she’s been heart sick Claire. My wee lass was strugglin’ and I was so wrapped up in havin’ my son back properly, I dropped the ball.”

“Jamie, it’s alright. Everything will be alright. If the kids decide that they want to make a go of their relationship, you need to support them. I know it won’t be easy Jamie, but they both love you. They both need you. If you can’t accept them being together, I can’t stay here. Not without Fergus.”

“Yer no goin’ anywhere Claire. None of ye are. It’s gonna take some gettin’ used to, but if they love each other as deeply as ye say, I’ll try my best to get on board wi’ it. We can make this work. We all can. I ken it.”

 

Jamie and I spend some time talking and laughing and joking around. Then Jamie realises the time and says he has to go and collect Joanie from school. He asks me if I would like to go with him. I can’t help but jump at the chance.

I’ve grown quite fond of Joanie. We speak on the phone almost every day. She’s a special girl. So is Marsali. Jamie has really done a wonderful job in raising them all on his own. I always knew he would be a wonderful father. I just wish we had the chance to parent Fergus together for longer than we did.

This new child though, maybe it’s a new beginning for all of us.

Instead of being two broken families, we can be one. One family full of love and happiness.

 

As we drive over to the school, I get a slight knot in my stomach.

“Jamie?”

“What is it Mo nighean donn?”

“How will the children react to the news of the pregnancy? I mean, I think Fergus will handle it well, but what about the girls? Will they be alright? What if they don’t want you and I to be together? What if they don’t like me that much after all?”

“Claire, dinna fash. Marsali will be fine. Maybe a bit repulsed at the thought of her father having sex, but I think she’ll come around to the bairn just fine. As for how she’ll feel about us, I think she’ll be grand. She needs a woman’s influence in her life, and I couldna think of anyone better than you to be there for her when she needs a mam. As for wee Joanie, ye ken that lass already thinks of ye as a mam?”

“Wot?”

“Aye. The lass is obsessed wi’ ye. She doesna remember her mother Claire, she was so young when Laoghaire died. Joanie has this thing about clinging to any mother type figure that comes her way. The fact ye spoke to her the night of the concert and complimented her on her dancing, she was so happy. Then, to learn ye were Fergus’ mam... well, no a day goes by where she doesna mention ye. She loves speakin’ to ye on the phone. Keeps askin’ when I can take her down to visit ye.”

“She’s really sweet Jamie. They both are. They’re lucky to have you.”

“Nah, they’re lucky to have us Claire. They all deserve two loving parents that would do anythin’ for them, Fergus, Marsali, Joanie and wee Brian.”

“Wee Brian? What makes you think we’re having a boy?”

“I’m really hopin’. Two lassies is more than enough Sassenach. Canna have ye three over runnin’ me and Fergus.”

 

When we drew up to the school, Jamie and I got out of the car to get some fresh air.

We waved to Joanie as we saw her approach. She waved back, but it took her a few moments to realise it was me. When she did, she came running over to me and threw her arms around my waist.

God, I really love this little girl.

“Claire, yer really here?” She asks me with a wide grin on her face.

“Looks like it.”

The three of us get in the car and then it dawns on Jamie that Marsali hadn’t come home from going to collect her coursework from the school.

“Take it she didna really come to collect coursework then, Sassenach?” He asks me.

I give him a small smile. “She might have, but my guess is she is with Fergus right now.”

“Ye talkin’ about Marsali?” Joanie asks from the back seat.

“Aye. She went out earlier to come and get some coursework. She never came back though. She’s probably wi’ yer brother.” Jamie explains.

“Um, I don’t really think... I don’t think Fergus see’s Marsali and me as his sisters. I think, I think he just see’s us as friends.” Joanie stutters out.

I turn my head round to look at her. Her face is all red. “You know don’t you?” I ask her.

“Ken what?” She asks me with a worried expression on her face.

“Of course she doesna ken Claire. She’s a child.” Jamie states firmly.

“She’s twelve Jamie, not exactly a small child. And she has eyes and ears. The way them two gaze at each other, I am actually surprised you didn’t work it out.” I turn to look back at Joanie, “You know about Fergus and Marsali’s relationship, don’t you sweetheart?” I say with a smile.

Joanie looks over to Jamie and waits for his reaction, but he just laughs. “Fergus told Claire when he was in London. Claire told me the day. I have to say, was a bit of a shock, but I’ve lived twenty years wi’out a heart, I canna ask it of them to do the same.” Jamie pauses and looks at Joanie through the rear view mirror. “How did you find out then? Did they tell ye lass?”

“Not exactly. Dae ye’s remember the day after my concert? Fergus asked ye to go over and check on Claire cause she wasna feelin’ too good?” Joanie asks.

Jamie and I both nod yes.

“Well, Fergus came over. We sat and had some dinner and watched tv, then I went to bed. A while later, I heard Marsali go to her room. I was confused because I didna hear Fergus leave. I thought it was bad if Marsali left him alone downstairs kennin’ how worried he was about his mam. Anyway... I soon realised that Fergus was with Marsali in her room. I needed up tryin’ to sleep downstairs instead, but I could still hear them. They told me the next day about how they were together and really happy, but they begged me no to say anythin’. Sorry Da.”

“It’s alright a leannan. Canna say am all that happy about them... you know, with ye in the house. In fact, I would prefer it if they didna do such thing at all.” Jamie says. His brows are furrowed and his hands are tightening on the steering wheel.

“Calm down Jamie. They’re both two consenting adults. Of course they’re having sex. But you’re right. I don’t agree with them doing so in your house with Joanie there.” I say.

“I ken fine what sex is. It was a bit gross having to listen to them going at it like that, but they do make a lovely couple. Marsali’s been in love wi’ Fergus for forever. It was about time they got together. I hope they can sort it out.” Joanie says.

“I’m sure they will sweetheart.” I tell her.

“Right, no more talk about sex. Yer twelve Joanie. I dinna want to hear ye talkin’ about it again, clear?” Jamie tells her firmly and she nods her head with an amusing smirk as if she’s amused about making her father uncomfortable. “Well, since she must be at his place, we’ll just head there too. It’s time we have a family meeting and get everythin’ out in the open. No more secrets.”

Joanie and I don’t argue. I personally think a family meeting is a great idea.

 

I just wish I had the thought to call or text Fergus that we were on our way before we arrived...

Chapter Text

When Jamie, Claire and wee Joanie arrived at Fergus’ house, Jamie didn’t think to chap the door before letting himself in. Claire had tried to warn him not to just walk in, but he didn’t listen. This was his sons house after all. He never usually knocked before he entered, why start now?

As the three of them walked in the front door, they heard some strange noises coming from the living room.

“Och no again.” Joanie groaned because she knew fine what Fergus and her sister were up to in the other room.

Jamie’s face went pure red. Claire couldn’t tell if it was embarrassment or something else.

She didn’t need to wait long to find out though. Jamie pushed himself through the living room door with a hand covering his eyes.

“Get yer grubby paws OFF OF MY DAUGHTER!” Jamie yells.

Fergus quickly pulled himself away from Marsali, but tried his best to keep her blocked from view in her undressed state.

 

Claire ran in behind Jamie and saw both Fergus and Marsali half dressed. It was fairly obvious what they had interrupted.

“Da, we can explain.” Marsali says, trying to be as calm as possible as she hurried to get dressed.

Jamie scoffed and turned to leave the room. As he did, he told Fergus and Marsali to get showered and dressed, there was to be a family meeting.

As Marsali and Fergus both climbed the stairs, Jamie spoke. “Separate showers, aye?” He said firmly through gritted teeth.

Fergus told Marsali to go on up and get herself organised and he came back down the stairs to try and explain to Jamie as calmly as possible what was going on between him and Marsali. Fergus didn’t get the chance though, because as soon as Jamie saw Fergus walking towards him, Jamie had turned and pushed his son up against the wall and pinned him there so hard, Fergus could barely breathe.

“Jamie get off him! Let him go!” Claire cried as she tried her best to pull Jamie from her son. When she eventually did, she held her son and checked him over to make sure he was okay. Fergus pulled himself away from his mother and assured her he was fine and left his parents and Joanie downstairs as he went to shower.

 

“Jamie, you knew there was a possibility they would make up. What did you think they would do if they had?” She asked him softly, trying her best to calm his temper down.

Jamie shrugged her off and stormed in to the kitchen to where Joanie was sat at the table drinking some juice and eating a fruit salad she found in Fergus’ fridge.

 

Whilst Marsali and Fergus were getting themselves organised upstairs, Claire, Jamie and Joanie sat at the kitchen table waiting for the love birds to return. Joanie couldn’t help but giggle.

“It’s no funny lass.” Jamie deadpanned at her, making the youngster giggle even more.

“Come on da, surely ye kent it was a possibility. What, did he think they were playin’ chess or somethin’?” The lass laughs.

Jamie rolled his eyes at his daughter and then turned to Claire. “When ye said they were and item Sassenach, I couldna believe it. Even as we spoke about it, I guess... I just thought it was some sort of... I dinna ken. But, to walk in here and witness... that. God Claire... he’s my son. She’s my daughter. Like, how... how? How is this supposed to work? They’re siblings Claire.”

Before Claire could respond, Joanie spoke up to her da. “Can I just say that, aye... I kinda think of Fergus as my big brother, but he’s never thought of Marsali or I as his wee sisters, because he never saw you as his da. And Marsali has never seen Fergus as a brother because she’s always been in love wi’ him. They’ve never behaved or acted like siblings, because they’re not. Even when Fergus came back from London wi’ ye and he was calling ye dad, him and Marsali still didn’t feel like siblings. But it was something that caused an issue in their relationship. Marsali even told Fergus that she would refer to ye as Jamie because she couldna lose him.” Joanie could see the hurt in Jamie’s eyes just then, so she reached over to lay a hand over one of his. “She didna want to lose you either da, she just didn’t know how ye would react. When ye see them together and how happy they make each other, ye’ll get on board. Ye’ll have no choice if ye want them both in yer life.”

Jamie took a deep breath and shot a small smile to his youngest daughter. “It was just a shock is all. No father wants to walk in on their daughter...” he trailed off waving a hand dismissively.

“You need to find a way to get on board with this Jamie, because I swear to you, if Fergus decides to go back to London, Marsali will follow him. So will I.” Claire told him firmly hoping that he would understand all that he could lose if he didn’t at least try to work things out with them.

 

 

When Fergus and Marsali quietly came down stairs and headed in to the kitchen, Marsali was glued to Fergus’ back, too ashamed to look Jamie in the eye.

“Take a seat kids. Preferably no the same one.” Jamie tried to joke with a wee chuckle.

No one else laughed though.

Fergus pulled out the chair next to Joanie for Marsali to sit down and he took the seat next to his mum.

“Look. What you saw... I’m sorry you had to find out that way—“ Fergus tried to explain himself, but Marsali cut him off.

“Look, Fergus and I love each other and we want to be together. If ye canny accept us because of him bein’ yer son and me bein’ yer step daughter, that’s fine. Joanie and I will move in here wi’ Fergus and ye can still be his da, but ye dinna need to worry about me or Joanie. I’m eighteen now, so I can take care of her.”

Jamie turned to face his eldest daughter with tears filling his eyes. “And how the hell would you and yer sister moving out help? Ye are MY daughters. Neither of ye are goin’ anywhere.” He told her sternly.

“Fergus is yer real child. He’s yours and Claire’s. Me and Joanie... we’re nothin’ to ye, no really.” Marsali tells him.

“Excuse me? How can ye say that Marsali? I love you and your sister verra much. Ye might no be my blood, but ye are MINE. How can ye even doubt how much I love ye lass? I dinna love Fergus any more or any less than I love you and Joanie. All three of ye are my children.” Jamie took a deep breath and then continued on, “Claire had already told me about ye two earlier. Canna say I was happy about it, but I was kinda coming round... slowly. What I didna expect, was to walk in to the house and hear ye’s goin’ at it on the bloody couch!” Jamie snapped and then turned to look at Claire. “I thought ye said he was good to the lass?”

“Jamie—“ Claire started, but was cut off by Jamie.

“Look. This is weird for me. Yer both my weans. My son seein’ my daughter?! It’s... it’s gonna take a bit of gettin’ used to you being a couple, but I am prepared to at least try. All I’ve ever wanted was for ye’s to be happy. And if that means ye two bein’ together romantically, then...” Jamie trailed off.

“So I dinna have to move out?” Joanie asked relieved.

“Course yer no movin’ out lass. Neither is yer sister.” Jamie told an upset looking Joanie. “Now, we have other things to discuss, but let’s just say that... ye’s have my blessing. But she is my daughter lad, and if ye hurt her—“

“I won’t, I promise. I will never say or do anything to hurt her ever again.” Fergus assures his father.

“Glad to hear it. Now, on to some other news...” Jamie says.

 

All three of the children were over the moon about Claire’s decision to move to Glasgow and re build her relationship with Jamie.

“So, when I met you at the station the other night, you were coming to get back together with dad?” Fergus asked his mum as she smiled and nodded yes. “Why didn’t you just tell me that? You didn’t need to stay with me, you should have just come.”

Claire put her hand over Fergus’, “You were upset Fergus. Really upset. I hadn’t seen you like that since... well, in a really long time. I knew something was wrong and I couldn’t just leave you, darling. You had a far off look in your eye, like you didn’t know where you were or what you were doing. You barely spoke to me the whole way home. It was painful to see you in such a state. And, when you eventually opened up to me and told me you couldn’t return to Glasgow, I decided that if you stayed in London, then so would I.”

“I’m glad neither of ye are stayin’ in London.” Jamie stated.

“Um, I just want to make sure that you girls are alright with this. I mean, if you aren’t happy about me and your father—“ Claire started but was cut off by Joanie and Marsali both assuring her they were more than happy for them to get back together.

“Da’s never had a girlfriend since I’ve known him. Maybe he’ll be less crabbit now he has ye back.” Joanie said and they all laughed.

Claire smiles fondly at the youngster. “I just don’t want you or your sister thinking that I’m here to take the place of your mother, because I’m not—“

“Claire, I’m eighteen. Been wi’out a mother half my life, but I like the idea of having ye to come to if I need any advice or that. When I was Joanie’s age, I basically had to work things out for myself. I mean, da was great, dinna get me wrong, but he’s a man. It wasna ideal going to him to talk about certain things. And well, speaking to a teacher about some things was just... embarrassing.” Marsali said before Joanie jumped in.

“I’m only twelve, and I dinna remember my mother at all. Da and Marsali have spoken to me about her over the years, but I dinna really have that connection to her that Marsali did. Marsali has been good though. She’s been like a ma to me sometimes, but it isna fair of me to keep hounding her about things. Marsali took me to the doctors a few months ago to get me some medication for my periods but—“

“Ye did WHAT?!” Jamie shouted across the table to his eldest.

“What? She was in a lot of pain and asked me for some advice.” Marsali said casually.

“She’s a child Marsali. MY child. Why wasn’t I told? Why did the doctor prescribe something wi’out my consent?” Jamie demanded.

Marsali shrugged her shoulders. “Look, she came to me and asked for help. She was in a lot of pain, and I remember what it was like when I started getting my periods. Ye dinna understand what it’s like for women.”

“Anyway Claire...” Joanie butted in, “I don’t like the medication the doctor prescribed. They make me really nauseous and the pills are too big. I hate swallowing them. Can ye come wi’ me to see if there is something else she can give me instead?”

Before Claire could answer, Jamie announced that if anyone was going with his daughter to see the doctor it would be him. Joanie and Marsali tried arguing with him, but he wasn’t for backing down. Eventually it was Claire who managed to calm Jamie down and suggested that maybe Joanie could try some natural remedies instead? Joanie seemed to like the idea, and Jamie then agreed to let Claire take Joanie to find something suitable for her, as long as he was able to go along. Joanie rolled her eyes and then agreed with a slight huff.

 

To try and get away from the conversation topic at the table, Jamie helped Claire over at the other end of the kitchen to prepare some drinks for everyone.

“She’s supposed to be my wee lass Claire, but she’s becoming a young woman. They both are. I dinna think am ready for this Claire. I told ye I messed up wi Marsali, and now am doin’ the same wi’ Joanie.” Jamie complains to Claire.

“You didn’t mess up with anyone Jamie. You have done a wonderful job with both of them Jamie. You did it all on your own. I know how difficult it is to be a single parent. I only had one child, you raised two. And two girls at that.” Claire smirked. “I meant what I said, I’m not trying to take the place of their mother Jamie. I just want them to know they can come to me with anything they need to talk about. Like they said, it isn’t that easy to come and discuss certain things with your father.”

“I want ye to be a mother to them Claire, especially wee Joanie. As Marsali said, she’s eighteen now, but I ken she’ll still need ye. Joanie, well, that lass already see’s ye as a mother figure.”

“Let’s just take things one step at a time. We still haven’t told them about the baby yet. How do you think they’ll take that news?”

“I think they’ll be over the moon for us Sassenach.”

 

Fergus and Marsali were shocked, but very excited about the new addition to the ever growing Fraser/Beauchamp/McKimmie clan. Joanie on the other hand... went a little quiet.

“What’s wrong squirt? Aren’t you excited about a new little brother or sister?” Fergus asked her gently, sensing that something was terribly wrong with the youngster.

Joanie just drew him a look and slid her chair out from the table and upped and left the kitchen and headed up the stairs to lock herself in the bathroom.

Fergus and Marsali looked confused to the lass’ reaction. Jamie moved to go after his youngest, but Claire grabbed his arm and asked if he minded if she had a word with Joanie first. Marsali agreed that that was probably for the best. Jamie looked deflated, but gave Claire the green light to go and check on his daughter.

Claire knocked on the bathroom door for a good ten minutes before Joanie eventually relented and let Claire inside the bathroom too. She locked the door behind them and slid down against the locked door. Tears streaming from the young girls eyes. Claire’s heart broke at the sight of young Joanie like this.

“He said I didna need to move out.” The young lass cried, trying to wipe her tears away.

Claire crouched down beside the lass and pulled her closer and cradled her in her arms. “Of course you don’t need to move out. Why would you think you would?” Claire asked her as she rocked the lass soundly.

“With you moving in wi’ da and having the bairn on the way, ye’s won’t want me around. Like Marsali said, we’re no his. Not yours either.”

“You and your sister aren’t going anywhere. As much as your sister thinks she’s moving in with Fergus, I know for a fact your father will put a firm stop to those ideas of hers. Anyway, I never said I was moving in with your father. We haven’t been together in a really long time. It wouldn’t be fair on any of us to rush in to things too quickly. And as for us not wanting you around... that’s ridiculous sweetheart. Your father and I love you very much. Maybe we’re not your biological parents, but we love you just as much as if you were. You’re Jamie’s daughter. And we’re...” Claire hesitated as she didn’t know how to phrase her relationship with the lass. “Friends, aren’t we?”

“When ye said ye were moving to Glasgow and gettin’ back together wi’ da, I thought I was finally gonna get a mam, like everyone else. You and da are gonna be so busy wi’ the new bairn though. Ye’s won’t want me hanging around. I dinna blame ye.”

“Joanie—“

“I think ye should move in wi’ da. It makes sense, especially wi’ the bairn coming. I’m sure Fergus would let me and Marsali move in here. They’ll need to stop wi’ the loud sex when I’m about though. That’s just nasty.” Joanie scrunched up her nose.

“Well, do you want to know what I think?” Claire lifted Joanie’s chin with her index finger so the lass would look at her straight in the eye. “I think you need to start listening to what I’m trying to tell you. You are not going anywhere Joanie. Your father and I love you, and we’re going to need your help with the baby when it comes. Do you not want to have a baby brother or sister, is that it?” Claire asked.

“But it isna my brother or sister though, is it? It’s Fergus’. Me and Marsali are just in the way. Ye can just say so.” Joanie stood up and unlocked the bathroom door and Claire slid across the floor to let Joanie open the door slightly. “Ye said it yerself, you and me are just friends.” Joanie walked out of the bathroom leaving Claire sat alone on the bathroom floor feeling absolutely devastated that she couldn’t get the girl to realise how much she is loved and how much she is part of this family.

Chapter Text

Joanie’s POV

 

When I ran out of the bathroom and rushed down the stairs to get away from more awkward conversations that I thought were just a waste of time, I made my way towards the front door if Fergus’ house and walked out the door, slamming it behind me. I didna mean to slam it shut, it really was an accident, but I just had to get out. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do, but I couldn’t stay in the house any longer playing happy families wi’ Jamie and Claire, all the while wondering when will they be kicking me out?

I’m not their daughter. Jamie’s my step dad. And only because he’s a kind man that felt sorry for my mam and her two kids. Now he’s back together wi’ Claire, the love of his life, his soulmate. Why would he want me and Marsali kicking about when he and Claire have their own new bairn on the way?

I continued to walk down the street, going no where in particular, when I heard Marsali and Fergus calling after me. I didn’t respond or turn to face them, I just kept walking.

When they finally caught up wi’ me, I eventually agreed to sit with them at the park across the road. I didna agree to talk though. I didna see the point. They obviously couldn’t understand how I was feeling, or know what would happen to me down the road.

At least they had each other. I had no one.

 

After about ten minutes sat in silence on the bench at the park, it started to rain. Typical Scottish weather, but it was always ten times worse coming in to the winter.

Fergus decided enough was enough, and picked me up from the bench, threw me over his shoulder, and carried me down to the little coffee shop at the other end of the park.

Marsali walked beside us, as I kicked my legs and begged Fergus to put me down. He eventually did, but only once we got inside the coffee shop. I gave him a look of disbelief that he actually just did that. All Fergus did was smirk at me.

I turned around with my hands over my chest and let out a deep sigh. I noticed there was an empty table over in the corner, away from the other customers. I made my way over wi’ Marsali following on behind me. Fergus had ordered us some hot chocolates and then came to join us at the table.

It was Fergus who broke the silence after the barista brought over our drinks and some muffins. Blueberry for the loved up couple, and a raspberry one for me.

“Look squirt, Mum told us what happened. She didn’t mean that you were just her friend. She wants to be more. She wants to be a mother to you, she just... she doesn’t want to overstep, or want you to feel like she’s trying to replace your mother.” Fergus explained to me.

“Canna replace what ye never had.” I scoffed.

“Look, this whole thing is going to be an adjustment for all of us, but they love you Joanie, we all do. I just dinna understand what the problem is?” Marsali added time the conversation.

“Ye’s won’t understand...” I said sadly.

“Squirt, we need you to tell us what’s going on in that little head of yours. Do you not want them to be together? If you don’t, I’m sure they wouldn’t start something that you’re not comfortable with. Their relationship effects all of us.” Fergus told me.

“Of course I dinna mind them being together. They’re made for each other. They’re soulmates.”

“Then what is it Squirt? The baby?”

I nodded my head. “I’m happy for them, truly. It’s just...”

“It’s just what squirt?”

I took a deep breath and then went on to explain, “It’s clear you two want to live together. And I bet Marsali will be moved in wi’ ye before the bairn comes, and then it will just be me and them. And then the bairn will come and they’ll realise they dinna want me hanging around. They’ll have their own family. They’ll have you and the bairn. And, well Marsali, because she’s your girlfriend now. They won’t want me anymore.”

“Joanie...” Marsali cooed. “They’ll no want ye goin’ anywhere. They love ye. They love ye to bits. The new bairn wilna change that. And me and Fergus’ relationship doesna change anything. Jamie’s still my da, and Claire... well, I could think of worse stepmothers/mother in laws.” She joked.

I looked at my sister as if she was mad. I kent what was coming, I just didna ken when. Would they want me out before or after the bairn arrived?

“Hey squirt, the bairn is going to be your baby brother or sister. Are you not looking forward to that?” Fergus asked me.

“They’ll be your baby brother or sister, not mine. I’m just no one in this situation.”

 

Marsali’s POV

 

The silence between the three of us was deafening. It seemed like there was nowt that Fergus or I could say that would make Joanie feel any better.

How could she possibly think that she wasn’t part of this family?

It broke my heart to see my wee sister to lost and confused. It was like she didna ken how loved she was. She didna ken how much she meant to any of us. It was sad. Heartbreaking.

 

“I’m pregnant.” I blurted out.

Fergus snapped his head round to face me so fast, I thought it would snap right off. Joanie looked up from the ground that she had been burning a hole in to wi’ her eyes for the past ten minutes.

“Marsali! What did you say that for?” Fergus demanded.

“Seriously?” Joanie asked me.

“Aye. Only just found out, but aye. Early days, so dinna tell Jamie or Claire, right?”

Joanie nodded and smiled as she congratulated me and Fergus on the new bairn. Just the reaction I was hoping for when I thought to announce it to her.

Fergus and I explained that it was really early days, and we didna want to tell Jamie and Claire until we were further along and Jamie was feeling more comfortable wi’ mine and Fergus’ relationship.

Fergus told her how she would be busy pretty soon, having school and her dance classes and after school clubs, as well as baby sitting her niece or nephew, and her brother or sister. Fergus and I laughed, but the smile that had been splashed across my sisters face for the last few minutes had completely gone.

“As long as babysitting your bairn doesna interfere wi’ my schooling, it will be fine. Their baby is nowt to do wi’ me though. It’s your sibling, no mine. They aren’t my parents, remember?” Joanie shot back at him.

Fergus and I were both stunned back in to silence. Why did she feel like that?

The only way to sort this out, was to get her home and get her speaking to Joanie and Claire, just the three of them.

 

Fergus’ POV

 

When we walked back to my place, Marsali and I walked on ahead, hand in hand. Joanie trailed her feet behind us, again not talking.

Marsali and I kept turning our heads back slightly, just to make sure she was still with us.

She was. Thankfully.

In all the years I’ve known Joanie, I’ve never seen her so deflated. It was like some switch went off in her head and her spark had went out. She reminded me of Tinkerbell in Return to Neverland, when she died because Jane didn’t believe.

It was like Joanie didn’t believe how much we all loved her, and she just shut down.

 

When we got back to mine, Joanie passed Marsali and I in the hallway as Mum and Dad were coming out of the kitchen.

“Did ye enjoy the hot chocolate lass? Did ye thank Fergus and Marsali?” Dad asked her.

“Of course.” She bit out at him before heading towards the stairs. “I’m going to bed. It’s been a long day. Claire can stay at Jamie’s tonight.”

“Squirt, you can’t stay here tonight, I’m sorry.” I told her as I pulled her to my side. “Anyway, you haven’t had dinner yet, and you can’t go to bed on an empty stomach.” I told her.

“But... I canna go home Fergus. Please... let me stay wi’ ye. I won’t be any trouble, I promise ye.” Joanie practically begged me in a small voice.

Before I had the chance to respond to her, Dad stepped in. “Yer coming home wi’ me and yer mam lass. We’ll have some dinner and we’ll have a wee chat. Gi’ these two a chance to sort out whatever they need to as well.” Dad turned to Marsali next, “But ye will be home for ten. I mean it Marsali, no sleep overs. No the now anyway. No until I ken how serious this relationship is. I dinna want any grandweans runnin’ about just yet.” He warned her.

Marsali and I just stood there silently and tried not to make anything too obvious. It wasn’t ourselves we should of been worried about though.

Joanie started giggling and everyone’s attention turned to her. Marsali gave her sister a serious look and Joanie stopped her giggles.

“What’s so funny lass?” Dad asked her. Joanie just shook her head as if to say, nothing. “Well it was somethin’.” Dad said, demanding an answer.

Joanie let out a sigh and moved away from me slightly. “Ye heard them when we came in the door earlier. Dae ye think stoppin’ her fae staying over is gonna stop them having sex?”

I didn’t know where to look. Poor Marsali looked like she was going to die of embarrassment.

Dad just kept going on and on and on at Joanie about her behaviour and attitude today and how disappointed he was in her.

I could see Joanie shrinking away in to herself even more. I tried to get dad to stop, but he wouldn’t. He kept going on and on at her.

And then... she snapped.

“Well at least ye dinna need to worry about grandweans Gettin’ under yer feet just yet. Ye’ve got about seven or eight months yet before Marsali has the bairn.” Joanie announced.

It was like everything in that moment just happened in slow motion.

I could feel myself falling back against the wall behind me. Marsali turned her back to dad. Mum moved towards me. Joanie immediately regretted the words that had just left her mouth. Dad turned towards me and Marsali.

I honestly thought he was going to kill me...

Chapter Text

Marsali’s POV

 

“Well at least ye dinna need to worry about grandweans gettin’ under yer feet just yet. Ye’ve got about seven or eight months yet before Marsali has the bairn.” Joanie announced.

 

Oh my god. Did she really just say that?

Aye.

 

I could see Fergus from the corner of my eye, backing up against the wall. He obviously couldna believe Joanie’s wee outburst either. I looked over to Joanie, who I could tell regretted her words immediately. She looked really disappointed in herself. I just wanted to go over to her and hold her and tell her everythin’ was okay, but then I caught Jamie’s eye, and I had to turn away from him. He looked really disappointed in me. No that I blame him. Me and Fergus are both adults, and we acted like children who didn’t know any better. There’s no excuse for us not using any kind of protection. We just, didn’t.

 

I could feel someone standing behind me. At first I thought it was Jamie, but it was Claire. She put a hand on my shoulder and turned me to face her. I could see Jamie over her shoulder. He was glaring at Fergus like he wanted to rip his head off.

“Sweetheart, is it true? Are you and Fergus expecting?” Claire asked me calmly, with a small smile on her face. She was so gentle and warm. Exactly what I needed in that moment.

I nodded my head yes. “I only found out when Fergus was in London. I... I told him earlier.”

Fergus moved along the wall to beside me and took my hand in his. “It wasn’t planned, but we’re both happy about the news. We do have a lot to sort out though, our lives are going to be completely different now.” He smiled at me and then to his mam.

“Is that why ye’ve been absent from school the last couple of days then? Morning sickness?” Jamie asked me wi’out looking in my direction.

“Aye. Well, I havena really been sick, but I have been feelin’ quite nauseous.” I took a deep breath and walked over to stand in front of Jamie. He still couldna look at me though which made me feel even worse. “I was in a mess because I didna ken what to do. I couldna talk to ye about it, and Fergus was in London and I didna ken how to tell him somethin’ like this over the phone when we just broke up. I just... I needed some time to sort things out in my head. School was the last thing on my mind.” I told him.

Jamie nodded his head in understanding. “Ye’ve got options lass.” I looked up at him confused as to where he was goin’ wi’ this. “I dinna agree wi’ terminating a pregnancy, but it’s your body lass, if that’s somethin’ ye consider, I’ll support ye. And then there’s adoption. It means ye’ll still need to finish this year of school pregnant, but I’m sure there is a wonderful couple out there that would love the gift of a bairn that they canna have themselves. And ye—“

I shook my head. “No. No! I am not terminating my own child Jamie!” I snapped at him. “I won’t give away my child either. Our child may not have been planned, but it’s exactly that, it’s ours. Mine and Fergus’. Maybe the timing isna perfect, but we’ll make it work.”

“Marsali, yer only eighteen. I’ve seen the interest ye’ve taken in colleges and universities lately. I’ve seen ye knuckling down at school and workin’ verra hard at catchin’ up on what ye missed at the start of the year. If ye have this child lass, that’s it, yer life will be over.” Jamie told me.

“I canny get rid of my bairn Jamie. How would you like it if I turned round and told Claire her options for your bairn?”

“That’s different Marsali, and ye ken that.”

“How? As far as I can see, the pair of ye might be grown adults, but ye spent one night together, didna use protection obviously, and now she’s pregnant. At least Fergus and I are in a serious, committed relationship.”

“Serious and committed? Lass, ye dumped him the other day and he took off on a train down to London. Ye havena spoken until the day. Ye canna bring a bairn in to the middle of a mess of a relationship. Give the bairn to a family that can love it, and give it the home that ye canna. Go off to uni and study whatever ye want. Even if it’s art. I’ll support ye. Live yer life. Travel the world. Come home, and if ye and Fergus still want to be the gether, then give it another try and settle down wi’ bairns when the time is right.”

I shook my head and stepped back. “Ye never supported my art before. When I said I wanted to go to do something creative like interior design, ye went mental. Ye did everything ye could to get me to change my mind. Even when I asked to do work experience at the paper, ye turned me down. Ye were insistent that I get my heid down and look in to doing a “real” course at University. And I did. When Fergus and I started seein’ each other, he showed me that I could do whatever I wanted, and he would support me. I stuck in at school, and I’m doin’ very well.”

“Aye, ye are.”

“Just listen, please.” Jamie nodded his head once in acceptance and took a step back. “Look, I decided I wanted to go to university to study teaching. I havena decided between teaching English, History or Art, but I ken I want to teach in secondary school. My teachers and careers advisor have been brilliant, and they think that if I keep goin’ the way I am, there’s no reason that I canny get the marks I need to go and study teaching.” I took a deep breath. “Being pregnant changes things, but no completely. I havena had the chance to speak to Fergus about all this properly yet, but I think I ken what I want to do. I just need to ken I have his support, and Joanie’s. If I have them behind me, I’m sure we can make it work.”

Fergus stepped towards me, I could feel him at my back. He put his arms on my shoulder and brought his lips to my cheek and kissed me. “You know I will always support you. We can do this.”

I turned in his arms to face him and I smiled. “There’s no question about us having this child. We were both shocked, and surprised, but neither of us doubted for a second that we couldn’t make it work, as long as we have each other, we’ll be fine.” Fergus nodded. “I will continue at school this year. Do all my exams, and hopefully get the marks I need for University.”

“Ye canna go to university right after havin’ a bairn Marsali, dinna be ridiculous. It isna gonna work.” I could hear Jamie telling me behind me.

I kept my focus on Fergus. “When the bairn comes, I’ll take a year off study. Apply for university the following year. It’ll be tough, and we’ll need to work out some child care and that, but we can make it work, I ken we can. Plenty other folk do it, so can we.”

Fergus smiled and planted a kiss on my forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you too” I said back with the biggest smile on my face.

 

“Well, your father and I will be here to help and support you as well, won’t we Jamie?” Claire stated, but Jamie just kept his focus on burning a hole through Fergus with his eyes. “Jamie!” Claire snapped.

“Ye two have a lot to discuss. We’ll leave ye to it.” Jamie turned to Joanie, “Get your bag lass, we’re goin’ home.”

I could tell that Joanie was terrified of goin’ home. Jamie has never been one for raising his voice, well, never to me or Joanie anyway. He’s snipped at me a few times, but it’s never been as serious as his outbursts today. I could tell Joanie was worried and upset. She hadn’t made a sound since she let slip about me bein’ pregnant. “I’ll be home later Joanie, I promise. Ye and I can have breakfast together in the mornin’ and then we’ll walk to school together, just us. How does that sound?”

“I’m so sorry Marsali, I didna mean...” Joanie trailed off and the tears just started streaming down her wee face.

I moved away from Fergus and pulled my wee sister in to my arms and held her close. “Shhh. It’s okay. It was gonna come out sooner or later.” I tried to reassure her and then I turned us to face Jamie. “Jamie will be fine. He just needs to get used to the idea that Fergus and I are together, and we’re havin’ a bairn. It’s a lot to get his head around in one day, but he’ll get there. Won’t ye?” I gave him a serious look as if to warm him no to make things worse for Joanie’s sake.

Jamie walked over to Joanie and I and wrapped his arms around the both of us. “I screwed up lassies. Big time. But I want to sort all this out. Marsali, I love ye, and I promise I will support ye and Fergus and the bairn. It was just... quite the shock, ye ken?” I nodded in understanding and I could feel the tears coming down my cheeks as well. “Ye stay her wi Fergus and talk over what all ye need to, I’ll come by and pick ye up later, alright?” I nodded again and then moved over towards Fergus, so that Jamie could speak wi’ Joanie. “And as fer you lass, I’m sorry I shouted at ye the way I did. I never should have snapped at ye like that. I just really need ye to come home wi’ me and Claire so we can try and work all this out. We hate seeing ye this upset and we really want to help ye, but we canna if ye just shut down on us and storm off. We need ye to talk to us, properly.”

 

After Claire, Jamie and Joanie left, it was just Fergus and I. We didna ken whether to laugh or cry at the fact they just walked in to the house and caught us having sex on the couch.

We ended up laughing. A lot.

God, it was so embarrassing. Poor Jamie stood there wi’ his hand over his eyes.

 

Fergus made us some sausages and chips for dinner, just for quickness. We had a lot to talk about.

Fergus was completely on board wi me finishing school and taking a year off to be a mam, before going on to study teaching. It would also give me more time to decide on what it is I actually wanted to teach.

We talked a little about me taking two years off instead, but we decided against that because I didn’t want to wait too long before starting university.

We also discussed the idea of me maybe finding a position as a volunteer at a school or something maybe once or twice a week for a few hours, just to gain some more experience to put in my applications.

 

We decided to not try and plan too far ahead, because plans can always change. The fact that I’m pregnant proves that, but we’re both over the moon.

 

I sent Joanie a quick text to see how things were over at home. It took her a wee while to respond, but when she did, she told me that everything was fine. She had opened up to Jamie and Claire about how she was feeling, and they really listened to her and they talked everything through. They assured her that neither of them was going anywhere.

I think Joanie’s always felt a bit abandoned by our mam. Not that she blames mam for not being here, she understands that she passed away, but I think she just feels lost in a lot of ways because she’s never had a mam before. I think she was just worried that if Claire had her own bairn on the way, she wouldna want to be a mam to Joanie. Obviously that isna the case.

I’m glad Joanie has Claire in her life now. She really does need a mother. Maybe if I had one, I wouldna have fought wi’ Jamie as much and pushed him away as much as I did. I love the man, and I’m so glad I get to call him my da, but a young woman really does need a mother of some kind in her life. I’m glad Joanie’s getting that in Claire.

Fergus told me once that his mam is a mother wi’out a daughter, and Joanie is a daughter wi’out a mother, and he was right.

Joanie will never replace Faith, Fergus’ wee sister, and Claire will never replace my mam, but it’s nice to know that Claire and Joanie have got some comfort in one another.

 

When Jamie came to pick me up, he arrived alone.

“Yer sister asked Claire to stay the night. That alright wi’ you?” Jamie asked me.

“Aye. Doesna bother me.” I said.

Jamie looked over my shoulder to Fergus and told him to go and pack an overnight bag. He could stay too, but warned us no funny business under his roof. Fergus and I agreed and Fergus went to grab a change of clothes and some toiletries.

 

“Are you sure about this?” Fergus asked Jamie as we jumped in the car.

“Aye. Nice family breakfast tomorrow would be lovely.” Jamie then turned round to me sat in the back, “and that means ye call me da, NOT Jamie. Am I clear on that?” I nodded my head in agreement and smiled. “Good. Ye and yer sister calling me Jamie all day has done nothin’ but tear me apart. As awkward as things may be for a while, ye are still my daughter Marsali, even if ye are wi’ Fergus. And yer carryin’ my grandchild. Even if it wasna Fergus’, it would still be my grandchild because it’s yours.”

 

The ride home didn’t take long. And Fergus and I filled da in on what we decided and he seemed to be on board with our decisions. Even offered Fergus flexible hours at work, but we said no because we will need as much money as possible. He told us not to worry about money because he will help us out if we need it. We thanked him, but assured him we will only ask if we really need the help.

I told Da about my decision to continue living at home if he’ll let me, until the bairn comes, and then the bairn and I will move in to Fergus’ place.

He agreed, but then suggested Fergus gets rid of his place and moves in too, that way he’s saving rent money and money he would usually spend on bills and grocery shopping. We decided to take a few days to think the offer through. The house might be a bit crowded with us all under the one roof, but da assured us it would be fine.

 

When the three of us walked in to the house, Da and Fergus went straight to the kitchen to get me some juice and have a wee chat between themselves. I walked in to the living room to find Joanie laying down on the couch with Claire laying behind her with her arm draped over Joanie’s waist. They were both asleep. I couldn’t help but just stand and watch them for a little while. They looked happy and peaceful.

“She wants to be a mother to you too Marsali.” Da said quietly as he snuck up beside me with a glass of orange juice in his hand.

I turned to him and smiled, taking the glass from him. “It’s just weird. She’s Fergus’ Ma. But, I’m glad Joanie has her. I’ll just be grateful to be able to have someone to turn to for help and advice. It’ll be strange goin’ through pregnancy wi’ my mother in law, but I think it will be nice at the same time.”

“Aye.” Da said wi’ a huge grin on his face. “Ye ken, whether ye think of Claire as yer step mam or whatever, or yer mother in law, she’ll still be a mam to ye Marsali.”

I didn’t say anything, I just smiled before taking a sip of my juice and turning back to look at Claire and Joanie snuggled up on the couch.

Chapter Text

Fergus’ POV

 

The next day started off wonderful. I woke a good hour before Marsali’s alarm was due to go off. Instead of trying to get back to sleep, I decided to get up and showered and head downstairs to start preparing breakfast for everyone.

 

When I got to the kitchen, I saw Mum sat at the kitchen table, cradling a glass of milk in her hands. She looked distracted. She was just staring off in to space and hadn’t even realised I had walked in to the room.

“Are you okay with the milk, or do you want some tea?” I asked her as I flicked the switch on the kettle.

“Sorry darling, what did you say?” She asked me distractingly.

“Are you alright with your milk, or do you want a cup of tea?” I asked her again.

“I’m alright sweetheart. Thank you.” She smiles at me. “Marsali not awake yet?”

I laughed at the question. “No. Her alarm will go off at seven. But you’ll be lucky if you see her her before quarter past eight.”

“Not a morning person then?” Mum asked me with a small smile.

“Nope. That will need to change when the baby comes though.” I laughed.

“Well, I can’t really say anything. I was never much of an early bird until I became a doctor. Even when I was nursing, I hated having to be up early for my day shifts.” Mum got up from her chair and walked towards me. “When you were little, it was your father that usually got you up and ready for school. I didn’t want to leave my bed unless I absolutely had to. Especially on my days off.”

I laughed a little too loudly. “Oh god, I remember. You were always so cranky in the morning.”

 

Since Mum and I were the only ones awake, had some time to decide on what to make for breakfast. It gave us a chance to talk as well whilst we worked.

Apparently her and Jamie had a long and lengthy chat last night before they went to bed. When Mum decided to move to Glasgow and try and re build a relationship with Jamie, she wasn’t planning on moving in with him straight away. She was hoping to stay with me until she found a place of her own. But now that Marsali’s pregnant too, she doesn’t want to get in the way. I assured her she wouldn’t, and if she wanted to stay with me at my house, I wouldn’t mind. She told me that Jamie wants her to stay here with him and the girls, and wants me to move in too. I think Mum is under the same impression as me and Marsali, and that’s that the house simply won’t be big enough to house all five of us, plus two new born babies when they arrive.

I told her that when Marsali and I had been discussing things, we were planning on Marsali living here at home until the baby is born, and then she and the baby would move in with me. It would mean she could be more focussed on her studies if she was living at home with Jamie and Joanie.

“We’ll take a couple of days to think things through, and then I think we should all sit down and discuss the living situation. I love your father, very much. I just... I don’t want to rush in to anything, you know? I mean, it’s been twenty one years now since...” Mum trailed off. I knew she didn’t like thinking about what happened all them years ago and how Jamie’s poor choices ended up with us losing our family.

The only good thing to come out of that, was dad finding the girls and becoming their father. If it wasn’t for that, I would probably have never met them. I wouldn’t have Joanie as my little sister, and I wouldn’t have met the love of my life. I wouldn’t of had a child on the way.

I just wish we didn’t have to lose two decades. As much as I love my dad, and as happy as I am that I can call him that again, sometimes I look at him and he’s just Jamie... my best mate. I think that the twenty year separation has definitely caused some damage in our relationship. For the most part, I know we’ll be fine. But my dad was out of my life for a long time. We were estranged longer than he had been my dad in the first place. It’s sad when I think about it like that, but that’s the reality of our situation.

 

By seven thirty, Jamie and Joanie were down stairs in the kitchen with Mum and I. Jamie had given Mum strict instructions to sit at the table and not to move. It was nice seeing how he was taking care of her. I imagine this is what he would of been like during her pregnancy with Faith.

 

“Marsali, will ye get yer arse down here now? Breakfast is ready!” He shouted up the stairs for the fifth time in ten minutes.

 

Marsali eventually made it down the stairs. Showered and dressed, but she still hadn’t done anything with her hair.

“She reminds me of you, Sassenach.” Jamie told Mum as Joanie and I dished out everyones breakfast.

Mum just gave him a wide smile as Marsali flung herself down on her seat at the table. “Ye’s dae ken that school doesna start till nine, right? Still plenty of time.” Marsali scoffed.

“Lass, if I didna shout on ye, ye’d be rolling outta yer bed at five to nine.” Jamie shot back at her with a hint of irritation in his voice. “What’s gonna happen when the bairn comes and needs fed during the night? Wakes ye up at the crack of dawn? Ye canna expect Fergus to be seein’ to the bairn just cause you canna get our from under yer duvet.”

“Like Mum you mean? We were just saying this morning how it was always you getting me up and ready for school.” I laughed.

Dad shook his head and bent down to give Mum a kiss on her cheek. “Aye, I remember that well lad.” He chuckled.

 

The five of us sat down to a nice cooked breakfast that consisted of scrambled eggs for Jamie and Joanie. Poached eggs for me and Mum. And a boiled egg for Marsali. We had some bacon, slice and link sausages, haggis, black pudding, mushrooms and toast. There was a lot of food, and most of it went to waste because after a few bites, both Mum and Marsali struggled to eat any more. Apparently the smell of mine and Jamie’s coffee was making Mum sick and the smell of all the food just didn’t sit well with Marsali.

 

I ended up driving the girls to school because Marsali didn’t feel like walking. Jamie decided to take the morning off work so he and Mum could talk a bit more. Yesterday and last night was spent mainly with Joanie and trying to talk her round, make sure she knew that she was loved and wanted, even when the baby comes, she will still be a part of the family.

“I’ll no be too long lad. I’ll be in by eleven. You’re in charge until I arrive, son.” He told me.

“Me? Why me?” I asked him, genuinely shocked he was placing me in charge instead of Geordie.

“I’m the boss am I no? If I say you’re in charge in my absence, then ye are. And, yer my son. The place is gonna be yours one day. I doubt either of the lassies want it.”

Both Joanie and Marsali told me I was welcome to it and made their way over to give my mum and Jamie a hug before walking out to the car.

“Okay, well I’ll see you later then. Bye Mum.” I called as I walked towards the front door.

“Bye love. Have a good day.”

 

It was a busy day at the office, and I didn’t really have a chance to speak with Jamie. There was something I desperately wanted to talk to him about, but I didn’t really want Mum or the girls listening in. I was hoping to grab ten minutes with him today at the office, but it didn’t quite turn out like that.

Just as I was packing up to go home, Jamie came by my office and asked me to go over to his place for a family meal. He said he had a meeting he had to attend to first, but Mum had said she was more than happy to prepare the meal for him getting home. I agreed, but asked that he stop by my place on the way home so he and I could have a chat before heading to dinner. I could tell he was curious about what I wanted to talk about, but he had to get away for his meeting.

 

Jamie had text to say that he would be at my place in the next ten minutes. He had let Mum know that he was stopping by to pick me up on the way.

Suddenly I got very nervous. I started pacing up and down my hallway, waiting anxiously for my dad to arrive. I was feeling hot all of a sudden.

I was distracted in my own thoughts and worries, I didn’t hear dad coming in the front door.

“What is it lad? What’s wrong?” Dad asked me as he came towards me with a worried look on his face.

“I need to ask you something. I don’t think you’re going to like it though.” I tell him.

“Spit it out lad. Yer mam’s making dinner.”

“I wanted to ask your permission for Marsali’s hand in marriage.” I said warily. Not sure on how my father was going to react to this news.

“Ye what? Lad, ye’ve been together all of five minutes!” He snapped at me.

“Yes, I know that. But I love her. And I would of wanted to marry her anyway, but with the baby coming... I want her to be my wife before the baby arrives.” My dad took a step back and run his hand over the back of his neck. He wasn’t happy. “I’m asking you because you’re her da. I wanted to do this properly. Marsali and I haven’t handled our relationship well. I mean the whole sneaking around and hiding it from you. I don’t want to do anything behind your back any more. I love her, and I want her to be my wife. But I don’t want to ask her without your blessing.” I told him.

“Can I think on this?” Dad asked me and I nodded yes. “I appreciate ye askin’ me lad. I just... I’m still coming to terms with the fact that yer the gether. That I’m gonna be a grandfather. It’s a lot of change, ye ken?” I nodded again in understanding. “Are you only asking this because of the bairn, cause I dinna think that’s a good enough reason for marriage.”

“I swear to you dad, I love her. I want her to be my wife. I just... didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but I want my child to come in to the world with parents who are truly committed to one an other.”

Dad nodded, but didn’t say anything else on the subject. “Right, yer Mam will be wondering where we are. Let’s go.”

 

Dinner went by quite uneventful. Marsali and Joanie filled us in on their day at school. Joanie kept reminding me that I was to drop her off at dance class tonight after dinner. Mum was unusually quiet. I remembered she and Jamie has spoken this morning, but I hadn’t actually had the opportunity to ask either of them what they were discussing.

Of course it isn’t really any of my business, but I’m very protective of my mum. Especially when it comes to dad.

I kind of get a rough idea though when Joanie declared it was time for me to drop her off, and mum came over to the car as well with her suitcase in hand. She obviously decided on staying with me instead of here with dad and the girls then. Not that I minded. I get on really well with my mum. And if Marsali was going to be staying at home with dad, it meant he could take care of her when I couldn’t, and I could take care of mum.

 

After dropping Joanie off at her dance class, mum and I just went straight home. I could tell mum was exhausted, and to be honest, so was I.

We sat down with a mug of tea each and listened to some music as we just sat in silence, relaxing. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence, this is just something mum and I had done for years. We would each make up a playlist, and take turns with who’s got played.

I would always out in a few songs I was sure my mother would hate, but sometimes she would surprise me and admit she thought they were quite “catchy”.

 

“We just have a lot of issues to sort out. I don’t think your father realises that things won’t just work themselves out over night.” Mum spoke softly over the music as she laid her head back against the back of the arm chair she was sitting in.

“Of course you do. He’ll understand soon enough, Mum. I think he’s just so excited to have you here. To have you back, you know?”

“I do.” She sighed. “The pregnancy just complicated things, you know?”

“Should of used protection then.” I laughed, trying to lighten the mood.

“You’re lecturing me on contraception? Fergus, explain to me please, how a grown man like yourself neglected to wear a bloody condom? I thought I raised you better. And, whilst we’re on the subject... how come Marsali could take her twelve year old sister to the doctor to get some medication for her periods, but not make an appointment for herself to get on the pill or something, hm?”

I could see where my mum was coming from, but it was kind of an awkward conversation, and I wished I hadn’t opened my mouth.

“Marsali was planning on seeing the doctor, I should of made sure she was on something before actually sleeping with her. I should of been more responsible and used protection too. I wasn’t thinking clearly.” Was all I could say in return.

Mum didn’t say anything else for a little while.

The next time she spoke, was to say she was turning in for the night and she would see me in the morning.

I wished her good night, and after she went up the stairs, I got my phone out to call Marsali and see how she was doing.

 

“Aye, I’m fine. Da’s just home from picking up Joanie. He’s in one foul mood though.”

“Is that because Mum decided to come and stay here instead of with him? She said they still have some issues to sort through, but she didn’t think he was fully understanding where she was coming from.”

“Nah. I mean, he is disappointed she isna staying, but he gets it I think. He was on the phone wi’ that John Grey guy a wee while ago. I dinna ken what was bein’ said exactly, but they were certainly arguing about somethin’.”

“Hmm, that’s weird. Why would they be arguing? I know they had an argument after Jamie came home from London, but he told me that it was nothing to worry about and they were fine now.”

“Och, I dinna ken. I dinna care either to be honest.”

 

 

Marsali and I spoke a little more about our relationship and talked about ways to try and make it more stable. I mean, we both loved each other, we both knew that. But, if Jamie was going to get on board fully, and allow me to ask Marsali to marry me, I needed to make sure there was nothing about our relationship that could go wrong.

Obviously communicating is a big must. Especially now Marsali is bringing our child in to the world in a few months.

I need to prove to Jamie how much love and respect I have for Marsali. Respect is a big thing to him, so hopefully if he see’s how much I do respect her, he might take us really seriously.

The thing was, I knew this would all take time, but I really wanted my child coming into the world fully loved and wanted. Have two parents who were fully committed to each other. I didn’t want to have to wait until my child was of school age before finally marrying their mother.

 

“I’m really tired babe, so I’m gonna go to sleep. Can I come by tomorrow after school?” Marsali asked as she let out a big yawn towards the end of her sentence. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. She was adorable.

“Of course you can, my love. Just, come by the paper, and then we can come home together. I don’t think I will get finished before four, but you and Joanie could maybe keep Mum company for a little while. She’s getting the full tour tomorrow afternoon, but she might be a little bored waiting on me or Jamie finishing.”

“Sounds good. I could even show her where to get the best pastries next door. Now that’s an important part of being at the paper.” Marsali laughed.

“Just don’t go eating too many.” I warned her.

“Me and your mother are eating for two. Joanie won’t have any because she has a dance thing coming up soon. I wouldna be a very good sister if I let her wee pastry go to waste now, would I?”

“Whatever my love. Just make sure you have a good nights sleep, and I’ll speak to you in the morning.”

“Night babe. Love you.”

“Good night baby. I love you too.”

 

After hanging up the phone, I couldn’t help but wonder what Jamie and John could possibly be arguing about? They’ve been such good friends for forever. It must be bad if this is another argument in such a short space of time.

When I went to plug my phone in to charge, I remembered I received a voicemail from John whilst I was in London. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time because I had other things in my mind, but he seemed desperate to speak with Jamie. Why he was calling me though, I had no idea.

 

It was pretty clear that something was going on, but Jamie wouldn’t be very forthcoming in telling me what was happening. Maybe I would need to speak to John myself and see what he has to say.

He did ring me after all.

Chapter Text

Thank you guys so much for all the feedback and comments on this fic. I really appreciate hearing what you all think.

I’m afraid I am going to take a wee break from writing for a wee while due to my health. Nothing serious, but I’ve just had a diagnosis for something and it’s gonna take me a wee while to get my head around.

There is only a few chapters left of this fic and I truly hope to have them posted soon. I just need to take a break from writing for a little while. I hope to be back soon. I hope you understand.

Kirsty X