“Open yer mouth.” I ordered with what I thought
might be a commanding voice, holding a spoon in front of her stubbornly closed
lips. “This jelly actually looks delicious. Ye need yer strength.”
“Yuck.” Claire showed me her tongue in
distaste. “Why don’t you eat it,
then? I’ve been eating that yellow blob for the last three weeks!”
“Sometimes it’s red.” I pointed patiently. “I
ken ye’re tired of being here, mo nighean
donn – I have spent enough time in hospitals to last me a lifetime, I assure ye – but ye’re scrawny as a bird fallen
from its nest. They won’t let ye leave unless ye put on some weight.”
“Fine.” She replied in a mordant tone,
clutching the spoon away from me. “But I can feed myself – I’ve been shot, not
taken back in time to when I was two years old.”
“Then stop acting like a wicked bairn.” I
offered her a playful nose scrunch. “How is yer pain?”
“About as good as it was two minutes ago, the
last time you asked.” Claire swallowed a spoonful of the hospital’s dessert,
grimacing. “Are you sure you haven’t been a nurse in a past life? You seem to
like prodding and ordering way too much.”
“I’m sure whatever I was, ye were always the
one in charge, lass.” I kissed her forehead – marvelling with the freshness of
her skin, after so many days of burning fever. On top of her surgery, from
which she was slowly recovering, Claire had developed an infection of her
suture – which finally had started to heal properly, after days of intravenous
antibiotics. Her usually calm and centred temper had suffered with prolonged
seclusion and constant fear of a relapse – and undoubtedly she found my
constant attentions profoundly tiresome, if amusing and heartening.
“How is my favourite patient?” Denzel asked,
entering the room and greeting us with a warm smile. He looked tired, wearing
his crumpled scrubs, his surgical cap slightly hanging from a pocket. “I hear
half of the nurses in the department are handing in their notices, unless I
“Hardly.” Claire smiled, neatly folding a
corner of her sheet after pushing away the lunch tray. She still looked quite
pale, with deep dark smudges under her eyes, but her orbs had regained their
usual sharpness and liveliness. “But I’ll let you get away with it if you let
me leave this damned place.”
“I’ll have to check your dressings.” Denny
squeezed my shoulder in a companion manner, before stepping in to expose her
abdomen, still covered with fluffy white bandages. “Your labs are back though –
your infection parameters are finally down, so you might be in for some good
After some clicking of his tongue – and a heated
debate between the two doctors, from which I only understood about half the strange
words – it was settled that Claire was allowed to leave the next day, as long
as she accepted to come in every two days to check and redress the wound.
“And you have to build up some body again.”
Denzel alerted, ignoring her disarming glances with a professional face. “The
infection took almost all of your muscle. You need to eat a bit more if you
want to heal nicely.”
“Fine!” She conceded, mocking exasperation. “Get
me a cheeseburger, then!”
“Take care, Claire.” Denny winked and brushed
her hair with a kind hand. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning before you leave.”
“Will ye go home, do ye think?” I asked slowly,
as she adjusted her pillow to settle in for the afternoon, after Denzel’s departure.
“Where else would I go?” Claire gave me a
questioning look, softly squeezing my hand.
“Well,” I started, caressing her knuckles with
my thumb. “I was thinking ye could come to my place – just while ye heal.” I
added hurriedly, trying not to sound desperate and possessive. “My mind wouldna
be at ease if ye were alone in her house, almost empty as it is, with no one to
look after ye.”
“If you’re sure.” She raised a brow and smiled.
“I can be quite the handful.”
“I am.” I breathed out, trying to control the
emotions that seemed to ran so close to the surface, exposed and rampant, after
her injury. “Bad things seem to happen when we’re apart. I want ye close to me –
I want to care for ye, mo ghraidh.”
“It’s settled, then.” Claire grabbed by hand
and pulled me in for a rewarding kiss. “You’ll be my private nurse.”
She had protested, assuring me she was quite capable of climbing up the stairs
to my apartment – but I saw the effort everything required of her, even
standing or laughing too hard – and carried her in my arms, only letting go
when I laid her down on my bed.
After helping her change into some comfortable pyjamas,
I contentedly sat by the bedroom window, grading some tests from my students,
while she took a nap. Once in a while I stopped, my eyes drifting to her,
reassuring myself she dreamt within my reach.
I cooked us a simple dinner – roasted chicken
with basil and tomatoes, aromatic and homely – and helped her to lay down
again, determined to find a place in the sofa or on the floor, where I could
sleep close to her without disturbing her.
“Will you sleep next to me?” She asked softly,
her brown curls and hawk eyes almost the only visible thing inside the cocoon
of quilts I had made around her. “I’d sleep better with you beside me.”
“Aye.” I replied in a husky voice, easing
myself under the covers next to her with gentleness, trying not to disturb her
with my movements – the idea of causing her any pain made my stomach churn.
I placed an arm around her, reassuring her of
my presence – mindful not to put too much pressure over her or to touch her
scar. For a time we laid silent, aware of each other’s presence, discovering
the intimacy of a bed shared in darkness.
We had been so once before – but at that time
she had been devastated, wrecked like a ship after an unforgiving storm, and I
had offered her security, a presence of someone who loved her without any
demands. I remembered how I had stayed awake, memorizing her until I could
recreate her in my heart - believing I’d never see her again, much less hold
her in my arms. I wondered if she too recalled that night, when I had offered
her the knowledge of my feelings, in the hope that she could use them to heal –
and she had.
she wasn’t sleeping – I’d spent every day and night for the last weeks watching
her sleep, until I knew the cadence of her breathing, the comes and goings of
her dreams, like a second nature of my own.
She trashed about a little, fidgeting with
bedclothes and adjusting her body on the mattress – always laying on her left
side, wishing to avoid the tenderness of her upper right quadrant – slowly searching
for the contact of my body behind hers, sheltering her like a cloak, two halves
finally falling into place.
I waited for her to speak, painfully aware of
the desires of my body, feeling her soft arse wedged between my thighs – yet completely
restrained by the will of the woman who ruled me.
A hand came up in the darkness and she placed
it gently on my hip.
“I want you.” Claire whispered, almost sobbing.
“I need you, Jamie.”
“Are ye sure?” I asked in a husky voice, my fingertips
brushing her face, tracing her lips to find truth in her words in the absence
of sight. “I dinna want to hurt ye. I’d die if I hurt ye, mo nighean donn.”
“You could never hurt me.” She replied softly,
caressing the length of my thigh. “I can’t breathe while we’re apart. I must
have you – please, Jamie.”
I didn’t try to dissuade her again, even afraid
as I was that it was too soon, too hazardous. I knew all too well the hunger
that moved her towards me, starved for life when death had come so close, when
it seemed that each moment could be the last. We had lost and found each other
in the past, time and again – it seemed that while we were one flesh, one body, parting us would be
impossible. While we were in each other, life – and death – was an
afterthought, a remote threat, to which we were immune while moving as one.
I moved impossibly slowly, wishing to give her
enough space to retrocede at any time, baring us of as many clothes as possible.
I kissed the back of her neck, delighted in the small shivers of her skin next
to mine, the testament of her arousal in her hardened nipples. I caressed her
body with a worshiping hand, taking time at each new discovery that made her
moan and hiss in pleasure.
When I thought her ready – desperately pressing
herself against me while clawing at my hair – I held her thigh with a light
hand and raised her, slightly folding my legs, so I could enter her. I rocked
calmly with her body nestled against mine, letting her command the pace while I
carried all the weight of her movements.
“I love you”. She whispered – moaned - tilting her head to kiss my
lips. “Jamie.” I felt the moistness
of her cheeks mixed with mine, tears of a joy long forsaken, exploding between
us with enough force to leave us gasping, deeply moved.
It didn’t take long – I knew she was still
weak, stubborn and lustful as she might have been. When I felt her tire in my
arms, my hand came around her hips to delicately touch her in time with our
movements, smiling as she cried out my name.
Afterwards, I held her against me, my hand
brushing the dressing on her belly to make sure everything was in place –
feeling the comforting thump of our hearts beating together, close enough to be
inside the same chest.
“I was right.” She murmured on the verge of
sleep, surrendering to my keeping once more. “Nothing hurts when you love me.”
Claire had arrived at the village three days prior and the tension that ran through it was palpable. She’d heard the stories of how the little hamlet had sided with one Earl over another. Two brothers vying for power; one ascended, the other roamed the lands wreaking havoc on those deemed his brother’s sympathizers. Rumours had the wannabe-Earl headed for them next.
She had only meant to stay a day or two before moving on, but there were more people that needed her help than she had anticipated. Rumours or not, she was more than eager to be gone; the villagers’ fear seeped through her, Claire had resolved to leave early the next morning, come what may.
They heard them just before daybreak.
A high pitch, blood curdling screech pierced the early misty dawn. Claire sat bolt upright, the sound going straight up her spine, making her entire body unpleasantly tingle. There was a moment, where the entire world stopped in silence. For a heartbeat after the cry, nothing moved, nothing breathed, nothing dared. Then the screaming started.
It was sheer pandemonium. Everyone seemed to burst out of their beds and crofts at once and ran every which way, but the marauders were far too organized for the farmers and crofters. They fell where they stood, no match for the violence that befell them.
Claire kept to the shadows, skirting her way tightly along the houses, trying to make it to the safety of the treeline and beyond, from whence the marauders had come. She tried to focus on the directions the sounds came from, but it was no use, there was just too much noise and carnage to focus on anything but keeping her heart from exploding out of her chest.
She found herself outside a stable, the horses frightened, neighing frantically, kicking at their stalls trying to get away from the shouts outside. Take a horse! she thought, you’ll get away quicker! But no sooner had the thought entered her mind, when a group of men burst into the stable, dragging women in with them - spoils of war. Claire pushed back into the shadows, praying they’d swallow her whole.
They spoke a tongue she didn’t recognize, a deep guttural sort of language, as rough as the men themselves. they were big and utterly savage. One man stood apart; a giant of a man, towered over the others, as drenched in blood as the rest. Something about him drew her gaze. Bloody sword in hand, shirt half-torn down the front, a gaping wound beneath, he had no woman of his own and didn’t seem all that pleased with those that did.
One of the other men pushed a woman toward him, forcing him to grab her by the shoulders and set her aside. He said something, fiercely glaring at the other man, who had stepped forward, his back to Claire, and stood an inch from him - he would have blocked out any other man from sight, large as he was, but he was no match the giant Berserker - glaring back. A fire blazed outside the stable, silhouetting the redheaded giant in a fiery haze.
His eyes suddenly flicked up over the man’s shoulder, as if he could feel the intensity of her gaze on him. His eyes locked with hers, fear paralyzing her to the spot. His face was a iron mask, she could read nothing whatsoever on it. Then, with an infinitesimal of head shakes; don’t scream, it said, gesturing her to the deeper shadows on her right. She did as he bid, crouching low into the corner and held her breath.
It felt like a lifetime, hands pressed against her ears, filled with pain and misery before the group was done and had moved on, but Claire had been too afraid to stand back up, to move, to even open her eyes, till she felt the gentlest of touches. Hands on her elbows urged her to her feet, yet she still didn’t dare open her eyes. A hand moved from her elbow and light a feather, brushed an unruly curl back behind her ear. A voice deep and soothing said something she didn’t understand, but knew from the tone of his voice, he meant nothing threatening. Slowly she opened her eyes and looked up into the face of the bloodied Berserker.
He spoke again, but she shook her head, “I don’t understand you,” she said, barely above a whispered breath. He looked surprised. It wasn’t something he was expecting.
“Don’t…” he said halting, “Don’t be afraid. I mean you no harm.”
She stared at him astonished. No one here spoke her language - herself only speaking their common tongue in bits and pieces, ‘where does it hurt?’ the only thing she truly needed to know how to say after all, to heal.
“What do you mean to do?” she asked shakily. His hands on her elbows tightened a fraction. She was still in her night shift, the cold morning air and the shock of the dawn’s savagery, had her shaking uncontrollably, yet she could feel the heat emanating from him and seep into her, as if he burned from within.
“See you safe,” she said, looking over his shoulder. Voices and hurried footsteps sounded from outside, moving to and fro. “If I can.”
“Why would you help me?”
He looked down at her, eyes soft, almost pleading. “There’s been enough death and pillaging tonight. If I can save just one, I will. They will not dishonour you, I won’t let them.”
She felt truly safe for the first time since it had all began, something about the young Berserker comforted her.
“You aren’t like the others. You’re not one of them, are you?” she said with a surety that surprised even her.
“You ask a lot of questions, do you know that,” he said, smiling a crooked smile at her that she couldn’t help but return.
Then they came. Footsteps rushing back into the stable. They had no time whatever to conceal themselves; the men upon them in a flash.
“Do my eyes deceive, or has young Jamie found himself a woman,” said one of them, voice dripping with contempt.
“This is none of your concern,” the Berserker replied, turning to face them, shielding her from view at the same time. He felt her fingers take a handful of the back of his shirt, holding fiercely to him.
“Easy! It isn’t like we’ve come to watch - though I have half a mind to - just glad to see you’ve taken to our ways at last. Your uncle will be pleased. Just remember to leave some for him when you’re done,” he smirked.
Claire had understood not a word of their conversation, but felt the burning fury of the Berserker’s last word and whatever the men he faced saw in his face was enough to have them back away from him and out of the stable. She kept her hands on his waist as he turned back to her. “What did you say to-” but her question was cut off as her hands came in contact with the wound across his torso, making him wince. “You’re hurt, “ she remembered, stupidly, peeling the blood soaked shirt away from the wound,
her fingers already drenched crimson.
“It’s nothing. We need to get you away from here! Now!” he said urgently. She could see his mind working as he thought of an escape route.
He closed his eyes trying to control his racing mind and heart. The men would have told his uncle already about the woman. And he knew his uncle well enough to know he’d covet her for nothing more than to spite him - to take what was his. He needed to get her away before they returned.
“Come! This way!” He said, and not waiting for any more questions, he grabbed her arm and rushed them out the stables and into the rising sun.
I started ME1 a few years back and just couldn’t get into it. Came back a year later, switched from MaleShep to Femshep and did two playthroughs of the trilogy within a month. Now I basically live in my N7 hoodie.
I walk about 8 blocks to class cause fuck paying $55 for student parking. After class I’m gonna talk to a guy about a tattoo.. hopefully he’s not too overpriced cause his work is fucking dope. My next piece is gonna be hella big, but I want it so I’m getting it. Also, high key ready for the summer lmao I’m kinda tired of school.