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Leap of Faith

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She knew of her power before she could name it or even comprehend the roaring reverberations that certain stones and gems sent through her body. She had known exactly what it was without truly experiencing it. Faith was made in her father’s image but she truly was her mother’s daughter; a time traveler.

Having survived the torrid circumstance of her birth, Faith was raised under strict watch. She may have been the elder sister on Fraser’s Ridge, but she often felt coddled by her over protective parents. Jamie and Claire loved her dearly- too dearly- ever since she nearly died upon entering this very misunderstood world.

Although she had never time traveled herself, Faith had heard the tales from her mother, who had survived three trips. She had also felt the second-hand apprehension from her younger sister Brianna, who had recently traveled to 1980’s Boston for wee Mandy’s heart to be mended. At least that was the plan. One could never be certain.

God, may they be safe, well, and cared for.

She prayed aloud but below anyone’s hearing as she rode Donal, her jackass of a horse, alongside her nephew Germain with the rest of the family further ahead. They had made it all the way to New York in their journey from the Ridge up north to meet members of the Mackenzie Clan who had settled in Nova Scotia.

“The city of New York will become a mecca of sorts for foreigners of all nationalities to visit and possibly call home. Quite a loud and dirty city if you ask me- they don’t call it, ‘the city that never sleeps,’ for nothing- but it sure is a beautiful place to be when it snows,” her mother had rambled.

“Ye ken I’ve seen yer wee electric city lights in my dreams, Sassenach,” Jamie chimed in, wide mouth sporting a cunning curl of the lip.

God gave Claire a home she wasn’t born to, but she was always meant to find, in the past. She still glowed with awe of the future as her memories seemed to flow in unintelligible tangents. She’d described all that she could to Da, Faith, Ian, Marsali, Fergus, her many grandchildren, and anyone else who wouldn’t burn her at the stake for such nonsense. Most times these faerie tales were riveting to hear, other times Faith’s whisky eyes burned emerald at the thought that she may never leave her parent’s loving side. Would she ever discover what lies between the tangible, what floats above the surface of the natural, and what loopholes God had given them to walk the line through space and time?

They stopped to allow the horses a drink, feed the many MacKimmie-Fraser children, and most importantly give everyone a much needed break from the saddle. Each went a separate way for peace and quiet, knowing they’d find a place to camp together soon enough.

Faith was naturally a wanderer. How else might one tend to be when they constantly felt tied down? She danced along the boulders of Central Manhattan, long legs landing lightly despite her height, and auburn hair glowing as the sky burned in sunset flames above her.

All flow of movement suddenly stopped, save the rush of blood through her beating heart. Faith didn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. Her hair was the only thing that betrayed her halting shock as dark glistening curls rose and fell on the wind. She had stopped before a circle of stones. It was a crude circle about fifty feet down from the boulder she stood on. As a child her mother introduced her to various gems to teach her the difference between herself, her father, and many others without the gene for time travel. They’d warm her hands, Claire’s, and Bree’s but remained cool to her father’s touch.

Strict instruction to stay as far as possible from buzzing stones, stone circles, and calling caves were a repetitive lesson for the Fraser daughters. Fear is a powerful thing indeed, intangible yet capable of holding her 6 foot tall frame captive for nearly 30 years. She could lie and say she didn’t hear the buzzing but Lord knows Faith Fraser felt it in every atom that made her being. She felt the stones call her just like she felt her bare feet start again then quicken their pace. She tripped, slipping on leaves, toes grinding against crumbling rocks as she mindlessly ran directly toward the call she had sworn never to answer. Hands finally met stone and before she could summon regret, her body followed her soul. She was gone.

Christ.

She woke with her cheek pressed to the rough, cool dampness of stone. Her body, splayed across a boulder, ached terribly and she couldn’t help but think of biblical women taking stones upon their backs as punishment for their transgressions. It was only then that she suddenly came to her senses. In fact, her senses came to her as mind and body worked to filter in their new surroundings.

Her mother had always said then was loud.

Or was it- here and now is loud?

Whenever she was, Faith had made it.

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“We’re on in five, Fee!” came a call to the backstage lounge from Gisele, the drummer. Faith pulled one last drag from a cigarette between her fingers, rosebud lips pressed tightly together, then nearly choked midway on a laugh.

Paper.

Her lips were wrapped tightly around paper. Bree used to make paper. Da used to write frontways, backways, and sideways on paper. Paper was so valuable simply as it was, not for how it’s used here as currency. Here and now in 1982 this rolled up bud of paper sizzled before sulking away in the shot glass she had just emptied into her mouth. Smoke then filled the air around her as she let loose a long sigh which came from a much deeper place than the impulse to inhale again.

It had been two years since she arrived in New York City. Or was it? What is time when it had been two living years but 200 ghostly years between 1982 and her departure from life as she knew it. The Fraser’s Ridge she knew felt both lightyears and yesterday away.

October 12th. She ran away from home into a black hole just 8 days before her mother’s birthday. How could she have been so impulsive, so selfish? Mama must’ve lost her mind. Da could’ve soothed Claire, calmed her even, because only one of them could forfeit control at a time. If mama flew off the handle over Faith first, then Da couldn't burn the town down looking for her. He’d have to be level-headed for Claire. Some days Faith grew so engrossed in her new life that she’d forget where she came from. Most days she teetered back and forth between scenarios depicting the reactions of her family, left behind, on the other side of those stones.

Sometimes Jamie was the one to freak out. He’d uproot small trees in anger, finally reaching the stone circle in his search for her and realizing he had no one to fight in order to save his Bonny Fidēs. There’d be no one’s blood to spill in blame. Faith was to blame and she was gone. In today’s daydream it was Claire who screamed at the stone circle for the baby she had now lost thrice.

The only thing that kept Faith afloat upon her arrival in 1980, Central Park, was hope in the faerie tales her mother told and an intense draw to Brianna. She awoke drowning in sensory overload. Gone were the forests of her day. Sound bounced off buildings like light in a room of mirrors. Buildings, vehicles, electric music. Bree was able to describe most of these things to her but these concepts were always just that; abstract concepts packaged away in the basement of Faith’s subconscious, her mind’s eye knowing she would need those stories to survive one day. It took her two days wandering the streets of New York looking like a scarecrow before the police arrested her for loitering and she could finally contact Bree in Boston. Could you imagine trying to piece together how to use a pay phone to reach your unsuspecting younger sister when you’d never seen a phone, or dimes, or a present day phonebook?

Faith spent her first 11 months of life with both of her parents before Jamie sent Claire through the stones to birth Bree safely. Brianna spent a few years growing up in Boston with Claire before their persistent mother found enough proof of her family’s survival to return to Scotland to find them. Faith’s school age years were spent with her elder brother Fergus, Auntie Jenny, Uncle Ian, and the many Murrays while Da did his best to keep them safe by staying hidden.

Claire had returned through the stones- with six year old Brianna in tow- following the desperate whim brought on by another faerie tale; the Highland legend, Leap O’ the Cask. Reeling from a failing marriage to Frank and an unfulfilling career as an OR nurse, Claire was in her final moments of desperation. Reading about Culloden survivor The Dunbonnet, James Fraser, was enough proof for her to risk it all. Faith and Fergus had spent almost nine years without their mother after having her for such a brief time. Bree spent her first six years of life without Jamie and was raised as an only child.

After Claire’s return to the past things were still rough. Jamie had turned himself over to the British and Jenny resented Claire for leaving them all behind without the courtesy of even a simple letter. There was nothing simple about leaving your children and husband behind to save the one; all relationships were estranged. Time finally healed the wounds between them, scar tissue permanently binding the Fraser family where sutures had once been.

Bloody fucking stones. Mama should’ve known a place like Central Park would hide the secrets of space and time.

Faith rose from the (God I hope that’s wine) stained cushion of the papasan chair and faced a mirror for one last look before heading out to perform. Freckles left behind by the last heat of autumn speckled her nose. Her naturally red lashes were painted black by mascara, her whisky eyes dressed in smudged eyeliner, her cheekbones touched by glitter. It was cover night at Cubbyhole and her band would be performing, “Call Me,” by Blondie. She bent forward with her head toward her knees, letting long arms hang and the small of her back stretch beyond the crop top she wore. Her hair fell over her face and shoulders revealing an undercut. Auburn curls nearly black in the dim backstage lighting swirled erratically as she shook her head, arms, and legs loose of nerves. Faith stood up slowly, pulled her septum piercing into proper position, and just as she turned she was nearly clubbed.

“Gis, dinna fash! You know I’m never late” Faith exclaimed in surprise and laughter as Gisele jumped into her arms wielding drum sticks as faux weapons.

“Thirty seconds to showtime is cutting it pretty damned close!” Gisele hissed back before taking Faith’s plump lips into her own.

Pale freckled hands roamed through her girlfriend’s coarse chocolate colored curls. Faith took a fist of soft coils then tugged gently. She paused, observing the steady pulse below the jawbone at Gisele’s fully exposed neck then returned to the task at hand. There was a spiteful effort to sink her slick tongue in deep but she broke the kiss gently, returning to Gisele’s wet lips one last time for a soft peck.

Standing tall and slim despite her curves, Faith wore oversized, torn, black jeans tucked into salvation army combat boots. Her presence exuded confidence and demanded attention. She made a guttural Scottish sound, clearing her throat as she grabbed the mic, “Hullo, my name is Faith. My friends call me Fee. We’re Fidēs and we’ve got some songs for ye tonight!” Lights lit the room in every direction glistening on colorful sweating bodies but there was no way to make out faces. She could honestly say she was happy but heavy was her heart for having not returned home by now.

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It had been a long Amtrak ride from Manhattan to Boston and the tickets were expensive, but this trip would be well worth it. What they couldn’t save in tips from waitressing, Faith and Gisele had easily made on cover-nights at clubs across the city. This trip was important for many reasons; Faith would spend her mother’s birthday amongst family, and the MacKenzies would meet her greatest gift from this odd curse of time travel- her girlfriend. Brianna and Faith had always been close and spoke often, despite the distance. If 200 years couldn’t keep these two apart, then 200 miles didn’t stand a chance. Faith wasn’t the same frightened girl Brianna had picked up from the police station two years ago, but her sister knew her well. The knowledge of Gisele was not new to Bree, despite the unmasked surprise that blossomed crimson from her chest to her hairline upon their arrival. There was more than enough to be surprised about.

“Your face! A piercing, Faithie, really?! Da would kill you. Then Mama would bring you back to life just so Da could kill you again!” Bree gasped as she pulled Faith in for a hug, pushed her back to arm’s length for a really good look at her, and then pulled her in again for a mutually long-armed embrace. Two heads of red stood six feet tall at the train station; one blue-eyed, one with eyes the color of whisky, and both a sobbing mess. 

They arrived at the brownstone Mackenzie home after a much-needed icebreaking drive. Gisele marveled over the differences between the sisters’ accents, and Brianna’s parent-like vetting of Faith’s love interest thawed. Before the ride ended, they were harmonizing to Fleetwood Mac’s new single, Gypsy. Bree’s angelic soprano melody rose effortlessly above Faith’s smooth alto tones. She mindlessly tapped in tempo on the steering wheel while Faith plucked invisible bass guitar strings against her long torso, and Gisele accompanied the drumline, which she patted against the headrest of the passenger seat in front of her, with beatbox vocals. The singing overflowed into a fit of giggles even as they stepped through the front door.

~~~

“Auntie Fee, ye seem to have a boogie hangin loose. I don’t think yer friend noticed though.” Sweet Jeremiah whispered in Faith’s ear as she bent to scoop both her niece and nephew into a bear hug.

“A booger ye say? Can ye get it for me?” Faith joked, her golden eyes crossing as she wiggled her septum piercing with a long finger. 

The children adored Faith and seemed to enjoy her guest even more. The ever inquisitive Jemmy tested them with his recently-learned elementary earth science facts, and delighted in Gisele’s quick wit. Mandy spent the evening never more than 12 inches apart from Gisele, either perched in her lap or playing with curls that were wilder and freer than her own crown of black ringlets.

“What can I say, my mom raised me to be the perfect mother and housewife. She got a drummer instead, but kids still love me!” 

“Ye really don’t know how bonny ye look with a babe, Gisele. I- I just had to tell you.” The thought leaked from Faith’s mind to her lips and out for all to hear before she even realized she had said it. Her girlfriend’s coffee colored eyes grew wide and roses began to bloom beneath the natural sepia tones of Gisele’s cheeks before she tucked her face into Mandy’s strawberry scented hair to hide.

It struck Faith deep at her heart’s center when she looked at Mandy and saw a glimpse of her mother in the blend of Roger’s dark features. Faith’s brother-in-law was on a business trip to Scotland. The Mackenzies planned on moving back to Lallybroch, over 200 years since the Fraser sisters had last lived there. Faith realized then that celebrating Claire’s birthday and the holidays to come in Boston , surrounded by the small family she still had left, may be the last time in a long time.

~~~

There were very few times when Faith envied her sister, but they always revolved around the same topic- Time travel. As children, Faith would soak in Bree’s stories of the future. Excitement would turn to envy, and she’d drown herself in thoughts of her own shortcomings well before she knew she’d eventually see the future herself. One thing Faith knew she’d never find was a partner with her same ability. Roger’s initiation into the Fraser family came before there even was a Claire Fraser. A chubby hairless version of Roger had met Claire, and her then-husband Frank, when they visited his adoptive father, the Reverend, on their second honeymoon. He was a child, then, and only remembered her as the ‘ faerie lady ’ after her return from the stone circle nearly three years after she went missing.

Roger was 13 years old upon his third encounter with Claire, when she had returned to the manse from Boston with 6-year-old Brianna. There was always something different about the Randalls, something that tethered Roger to them despite the infrequency of their interactions. It wasn’t until he and Fiona followed them to Craigh na Dun, on the day of their departure, that he learned Claire truly had disappeared all those years ago. Roger had watched from afar, too afraid of the buzzing he could hear at a palpable frequency. Seeing Claire and Brianna depart into the cleft of a large standing stone was all the confirmation he needed. 

Moved by compulsion and obsession, he had taken a step to follow them into the unknown before Fiona pulled him back. She hadn’t given him a chance or a choice. Fiona had grabbed Roger by the arm, turned, and pulled him down the hill to catch a train back home to Inverness. They wouldn’t speak of that day for another fifteen years. The curious boy later became a history professor at Oxford, after delving into the Scottish texts, folklore, and legends from the manse library in search of an answer for what he had witnessed. He wasn’t sure if it was bravery or a fuck-all attitude, but Roger finally found the courage to touch the stones himself after his beloved father had passed away.

It definitely wasn’t that Faith was jealous that Roger had found them and chosen Brianna, but rather that Bree had found someone whose soul was so interconnected to hers that even the concept of time and space was no barrier. Mama had fallen in love with someone beyond her time, someone for whom time had broken, over and over again, to make space for their kind of love to exist. That was all the hope Faith needed to calm her fears of loving Gisele.

~~~

Dinner consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before the family sang a happy birthday to Grannie Claire. Jem and Mandy were finally coming down from a sugar high when Brianna took the opportunity to bathe them and put them to bed. 

Bree carried Amanda on one hip as she softly patted a sleepy Jeremiah’s bum in encouragement to make his way up the stairs in front of her. As she reached the top she turned and called out to the girls, “Hey, I know I’m gonna knock out after washing these two monkeys, so good night and see ye in the morning, Gisele! Oh, and I set up the basement for you both, Faithie. Good night!” She sang the last words as she disappeared down the hall.

The basement was still set up like a studio apartment even though Faith had moved out the year before, when she decided to return to New York City. The sofa bed was pulled out and prepped for two. Christ, Bree, what a creep, she thought to herself, and laughed aloud as she tore off her shirt and pulled back the covers. Also, thank you! Her sister was being exceptionally accepting, which only made Faith’s heart ache more for her father’s acceptance. The excitement of the day was finally catching up to her and all she wanted was to be held. 

She was the big-spoon tonight with Gisele’s smooth thighs resting in the seat of her lap as they lay together, her right hand was in its usual home, feeling Gisele’s steady heartbeat below a supple breast. As far as Gisele knew, Faith’s parents were dead. And it wasn’t a lie because here and now they were dead. She needed a distraction from these intrusive thoughts and knew neither of them had actually fallen asleep.

Faith’s right hand started slowly with a squeeze as her other arm looped under and around Gisele’s waist, pulling her in closer. Her thumb circled a milk chocolate colored nipple until it quickly perked for her, then slid her hand up from Gisele’s breast to her throat. Arching her bum into Faith’s hot center, Gisele tilted her neck back and moved her mass of hair out of the way until she found Faith’s lips. She couldn’t see it, but Faith could feel the pulse at Gisele’s neck quicken and throb. Her other arm reached from under her girlfriend’s waist through layers of heavy blankets toward the matching pulse she knew was further south. Wet wasn’t a good enough word to describe what awaited her fingers. Slippery wasn’t even close. 

“Damn, have ye wanted me all day, G?”

“Of course! Seeing you with your family was so different than any other time I’ve ever seen you. You were so happy, but obviously sad, and I just wanted to hold you close all day. I didn’t wanna push it though, so I waited for you to come to me when you were ready to talk about things… or not talk at all , Gisele said as she turned to face Faith, their legs entwined and their small breasts the only thing between them as they pressed closer together. Gisele could taste the salt of tears upon her lips as Faith pulled her in for another kiss.

“I dinnae want to speak just yet.”

Faith was a generous lover; pleasing a woman, her woman, did more for her than any man she’d attempted to date had ever made her feel. She catered to Gisele’s body with reverence, a choreography of adoration just short of blasphemy. They faced each other; one a sultry shadow, the other a pale glimmer reflecting the scarce amount of light left in the room. Their tongues explored one another as hands gripped each other’s sex with a greed and carnal belligerence for the same body. They rocked rhythmically, hands sliding between layers of heat as honey coated their thighs, and they slipped into one another. Faith’s lips left Gisele’s and traveled to her throat where she sucked long and hard before moving further down. Her own pierced nipples were hard in G’s hands as Faith suckled her girlfriend. 

The home was old, and Faith knew from experience that sound traveled through the vents. She sat up on her knees, scooped Gisele by her hips then pulled her down to the edge of the mattress before stepping off of it. 

She leaned forward, blessing her girlfriend with a kiss on the nose as she whispered, “Dinnae make a sound, lass” then knelt down looping Gisele’s legs around her neck. 

“Fuck, Fee! Mmmm, Faith, I- Fuck!” Gisele quietly moaned in the best kind of frustration as Faith’s tongue swirled and flicked the throbbing center of her desire. Her hands roamed in Faith’s hair, urging her on as kisses and nibbles worked their way to her inner thighs, before Faith’s fingers were replaced by tongue again. A pale hand made its way to Gisele’s lips, reminding her to be quiet, and she covered her own mouth when dark eyes looked up at her from the shadows where their bodies met. Faith knew she was close and couldn’t help but touch herself as she brought Gisele to the edge. Three fingers circled her own throbbing clit while her other hand held Gisele’s arse cheek with a full grip. Faith’s tongue rolled and dipped deeply, fervently, in and out while a finger soaked in Gisele’s sweetness roamed from honeypot to the cleft of Gisele’s arse and explored. 

As Gisele quivered before her, thighs squeezing her face, Faith raced to stop herself from coming by her own hand. She stood up and muffled Gisele’s breathless pants with a kiss before straddling her face. She rode Gisele’s mouth, grinding gently against her features while cupping her own breasts, thumbs stroking her very own pierced nipples. 

“God, your ass is perfect.” Gisele said, pulling her face to the side for air and filling her hands with Faith’s round arse before pulling her back onto her mouth again. It didn’t take long at all before Faith was holding the arm of the sofa bed for stability, her nails digging into fabric as she met her release. They were lost in a tangle of limbs, sheets, and hair. The girls both laid as if dismembered and scattered until they could finally catch their breath and piece themselves together again, not caring if one kept a lost part of the other. Once the heat of passion had passed, the nightly chill of Boston autumn came over them and each settled under the blankets to sleep once again.

“Now, speak your mind, mi amor,"  Gisele whispered into the pillow of Faith’s hair as she gathered her into her arms, chest pressed to Faith’s back.

Pale, freckled shoulders shuddered slightly in the dark as Faith finally sighed and gave in to her emotions while wrapped in Gisele’s embrace.

In the arms of the little big-spoon, a grown woman weeps tonight.