Flood my Mornings, Part 7
From the prompt @ask-charming-david asked: Imagine if Jamie somehow made his way through the stones after Culloden, found out where Claire was, made his way there, and surprised her in Boston.
Bleeding out from the heart. Aye. That was it.
He could barely breathe. To hear such a tone in Claire’s voice…such…revulsion….
She was still facing away from him, leaning against the counter.
Jamie opened his mouth to speak. God, just turn around… Just look and you’ll see its me… Turn around, mo chridhe… Christ, turn around and see me before ye. “Cl…Claire?” His voice sounded strangled. Higher than usual. His mouth was dry, and each word grated against his throat. “Claire, it’s…it’s me….Jamie.”
“I know it’s you,” she said at once, startling him, “but you’re. not. here.” She clipped each word, then laughed through her nose and took another long draught of whiskey.
A Dhia, that that were true. Surely this was a dream, a nightmare. He was feverish from hunger and fatigue. This wasn’t real. This wasn’t how he met Claire. Was not.
No, he was awake; he could feel his fingernails pressing into his palms, could hear the air that whistled through his nostrils as he struggled to remain calm.
…but that didn’t make the nightmare any less real.
Slowly, footstep by footstep, he moved toward her. “Sassenach…I—am—here. See?”
She made a small noise and stiffened, but made no move to turn. “You always say that….” She was slurring her words. How much had she drunk, then? A considerable amount. “…and you’re always there, alright. Just not…there, there. Like the bloody bus stop.” He saw her raise the glass to her forehead. “Was doing—so well—was going to stop—really…really was—and then you have to go and…” She made a vague gesture with her glass, laughed again, whispered a low, “damn you,” then drained it.
Christ, she had seen him, then; had heard him as he chased the OmniBus. His excitement at this realization was brimming from him as he reached her. “Claire… I ken it sounds… mad, impossible…” He was beside her against the counter, facing her–-God, she was even more beautiful than she remembered. “…but I’m here... I’m real!”
Her eyes were shut and she was shaking her head slowly from side to side. She didn’t turn.
Jamie reached out a trembling hand and touched her cheek. He gasped aloud at the feel of her under his palm. How long had he dreamed–? How long had imagined–? She had gasped involuntarily at his touch, too, and Jamie’s heart had leapt…but she immediately gritted her teeth, squeezing her eyes even tighter and repeating under her breath, “No. No. No.”
He turned her gently by the shoulder with his free hand, bringing her to face him. Her face was still pointedly facing the counter, eyes closed. “Claire,” he begged softly, “look at me, love.”
She resisted for another long moment, her facial muscles working in a thrum of effort to resist the rest of her body. Then she did look, opening her eyes and looking straight into his, golden and perfect.
“Oh, mo chridhe,” he gasped, taking her face in both his hands as he beamed downward, not daring to take his eyes from her. “Claire...it’s me.”
She stared blankly for a moment. She blinked. Swallowed. Then, slowly, she reached up a hand and laid it atop his, silver ring glinting in the dim light. Jamie leaned his forehead against hers, tears beginning to fall in the agony of waiting for her to speak, to cry, anything.
Tentatively, she lifted her other hand to trace the lines of his face. He gave a soft moan and followed her touch, moving with her to try to capture it. The fingers were cool and capable. They moved up to smooth away a wavy lock above his temple, and Jamie had to close his eyes for a moment, bowled over by the intimacy and familiarity contained in such a simple gesture. They might have been by a roadside in the highlands, or walking through the hay fields at Lallybroch. Husband and wife.
When he opened his eyes, her mouth was quivering, as though smile were trying to fight through. “You cut your hair,” she said, very quietly.
“Aye,” he said, with a gasping laugh. He slowly, carefully wrapped his arms around her waist. “It’s still me, though. I promise.”
“Beautiful…” She was smiling, but faintly, and the hand on his face was trembling as it followed the hollow of his cheek down to his lips. “My beautiful….beautiful love…perfect…”
Then, something snapped. Her hands jerked away as though from hot iron, and she stumbled backward. “Stop this, fucking, fucking stop this,” she muttered through clenched teeth with a strangled sob, turning back to the counter and pouring more whiskey. “Stop, stop it, stop.”
Jamie’s heart, which had rising, soaring with her touch, plunged back into icy dark panic. He growled and pushed the glass from her hand before she could lift it. “Damn you, Sassenach, this isna a dream!”
“…can’t do this anymore, Beauchamp…”
He took her by the shoulders again, bodily this time. “It’s Jamie. Your husb—” His voice cracked, and the tears surged, hot tears of pain and grief and anger, “—husband. I’m alive….I’m here….”
“…let him rest….”
He gritted his teeth, anger bubbling to the surface. “Look at me, mo chridhe—I need ye to—”
Her face had changed, somehow. She was staring at some point in her vision, but not at him, her eyes out of focus from drink. “…need…”
He shouted a curse in Gaelic and shook her, very, very hard. “Can ye no’ feel my hands touching you, woman? Or yours touching me, or—”
Her mouth was on his and the heat of it was so intense that he moaned and opened to her before he even stopped to think. She tasted of whisky and heat, both shooting into his core in a blinding second. He gripped her and twined his fingers hard into her hair. He lost all comprehension of the passage of time, aware only of her mouth…until he realized she was fumbling with the buttons of his trousers.
“What in God’s—?” He jerked back.“Ye canna be thinking—”
“Yes, I bloody can.” Her jaw was set as she got the Zipper down and she was crying. “Don’t—care— if it’s a dream—”
He pushed her away from him again, taking a step back and looking down at her in horror. “No, Claire, we—”
She staggered and looked up into his face, eyes wet and defiant. “You don’t want me?”
He made a wild gesture as he shouted, “Christ, of course I want ye.” He had gone hard as soon as her greedy lips touched his. “Claire, I have burned—” his hands shook with intensity before him, as though he held his heart in them, “—burned for ye for two long years, but—”
“And I’ve burned for you,” she choked, stepping forward, a fresh tear slipping off her jaw as she reached hungrily for him.
He held her by both shoulders again, pleading. “But I need ye to see me, damn you.” He shook her again, her hair swinging around her face. “I need ye to ken that I’m truly here wi’ ye, and—”
“I do see you…” she cried, cutting him off and struggling against his restraining grip. “…and I need you. I need you, Jamie….” He was shaking so badly that she managed to break his hold and nearly got her arms around him. “It’s been so… long…”
He caught her by both wrists, and pinned her against the counter to keep her still, gritting his teeth and watching as his vision blurred with tears. “You. are. drunk, and we canna—”
She thrashed madly against him, glaring, eyes still not quite focused. “Yes, I’m drunk but I know exactly what I’m doing,” she growled, her cheeks shining. “I know you’re not—know that you’ll disa—disappear as soon as we—” She broke off with a sound of distress and slipped his hold again—Christ, had she always been so strong?—and pressed against his chest. She sunk her lips into his neck, kissing up to the hollow under his jaw, her voice harsh through strangled tears, “—never going—to stop—trying—”
“Claire,” he pleaded, feeling his resolve cracking, emotion and need rooting him to the spot. He was aching so strongly with it that he could barely see straight, and though his arms were raised in a gesture of protest, he couldn’t make his limbs obey to repel her advances. She was breathing deep and raggedly, grabbing wildly to cling to him. Her hands were cold as she ran her hands under his shirt and into his loosened waistband, cupping his bare buttocks. His hips had grown so thin that the trousers fell to his ankles easily at her touch, exposing him. She pressed herself against him, and, with a groan, slipped a hand down between them and grabbed his cock, hard. Jamie cried out, a deep, tearing sound, and so did she, their cries echoing off the walls.
Claire had closed her eyes and was leaned heavily against his shoulder as though unable to stand on her own any longer while she grasped and pulled his length. “Jamie…please…come to me….” she whispered.
“Christ… Sassenach….no,” he pleaded weakly, his vision going black under her touch. “I dinna want… it shouldna be like this…like…”
Then, a sound of pure hunger escaped her throat, so deep and animal that—
He flung his arms around her waist and jerked her off her feet, stepping out of the discarded trousers and crushing her to his chest. He rucked up her foolishly short skirt so that she could get her legs around him. She was bare underneath. He spread his fingers out across her buttocks—a Dhia, so full and heavy and round—squeezing and kneading as he pulled her hips tight against him.
She wanted him, alright, badly. He could feel the heat radiating from between her legs, the scrape of her hair against his belly as she ground hard against him with her arms tight around his neck, seeking purchase.
And yes, he wanted her; wanted her so badly he thought his cock couldn’t take another moment of this torture, rubbing agonizingly against her arse as she moved. But he had no joy in this; only his need and an ache of despair and fear he’d never have thought possible in Claire’s arms.
How much of this was drink…and how much was something deeper… more sinister? He remembered it all too vividly: the wishing and the pretending. He had felt the madness come upon him many times—in the Oxford prison; before the stones; every night in the cave; the need to see her, to talk to her, or to just hold her in his arms. To not be alone with his grief. Might hers have taken hold in a way that could never be healed? Was this what Frank had referred to? The ‘deadness in her eyes’? The nurses had said she didn’t socialize. The neighbors at Fury Road had said much the same. She had changed her name and fled without telling a soul. Had the Claire he had known, the home of his heart, died in 1746?
God… even with her in his arms at this moment…even as he laid her down on the cold, white floor … even as he knelt and she spread herself before him, already quivering and keening from her need… Jamie’s heart was being torn apart.
“C l a i r e,” he sobbed, hands shaking on her thighs, feeling as thought he’d die if he didn’t have her…feeling as though he were dead already.
“Jamie, please….” She was crying, too, but she clawed at him, his hips, his neck, pulling him down to her, begging, “…come to me… stay with me…please…”
He felt his eyelids fall closed, time seeming to slow as he allowed himself to be dragged downward, his body remembering the way of hers without thought. His throat burned with grief. His chest heaved with loss. He felt his breath hot on his lips as he whispered,“‘Til our life shall be done, Claire.”
And with a sob of despair, he thrust home.
The next second was an explosion in Jamie’s senses.
The feeling of her on his cock… He’d had no other woman, and he cried out with a cracked sound of ecstatic need, as if he would lose himself there and then. But it wasn’t desire to delay his impending release that made him go still as stone and the blood freeze in his veins.
It was Claire’s scream.
She had gone white as her gown. Slack-jawed. Unmoving. Seeming not even to breathe.
Panicked, Jamie pushed himself back, “Christ, have I hurt ye, Claire?! Have I—” But even as he said it, he knew he hadn’t. He didn’t even need to look at their still-joined flesh for signs of damage, as had been his first impulse. That scream…that hadn’t been the sharp “oh!” that sometimes accompanies sudden joining. The sound Claire had made was something more visceral: utter shock…and utter terror.
She was staring at him, directly now, as if seeing him for the first time, all befuddlement of drink apparently vanished. Her hands were gripped so tightly on his arms that he was sure the fingernails would draw blood. Her pale lips suddenly parted, and though he barely heard the syllables, he saw the look in her eyes. Recognition.
Jamie let loose a desperate, tearing sob. He fell forward onto one forearm, scooping his hand beneath her head. “YES, yes, its me—I’m here, mo chridhe—I’m here.”
His face was mere inches from hers now, but she was still staring at him, her brows raised and joined in the middle in the shock, horror, and dawning comprehension that flew across her face in quick succession. “I….Jamie…? Wh…Jamie…?”
He was weeping and laughing in equal measure, and kissed her forehead before resting his own against it. “Aye, it’s ME, sweetheart—it’s me—it’s truly me—it’s your Jamie, I swear—” He brought his other hand—shaking uncontrollably, like the rest of him—to cup her cheek, his whole body fixated on the need to hold her, surround her. He felt her contract around him and he gasped out in dawning joy, “Can ye feel me, now? Can ye feel me inside ye, Claire?”
“Yes…yes….” she breathed, and he could see in her look that it was so, the thoughts exploding across her glass face. She fumbled one hand under his shirt. She cried out as the fingers met the ridges of his scars. “You’re here,” she gasped, grabbing for his face. “JAMIE—How—h—ow?” Before he could answer, she stiffened, looking up with eyes wide and streaming; and so very sad. “Does this…am…am I dead, too?”
“No,” he said, smiling wide and tasting the salt that trickled into his mouth, palming her face over and over “No, no, no, my Sassenach, you’re no’ dead. We are alive, the both of us. I wouldna ever lie to ye…least of all in heaven.”
“But you died—” she said in a grating whisper, her hand a vice on the back of his neck, now. “You — died— at Cul—.”
“Survived—survived, Claire—”Jamie choked out, palming her face over and over. “And I dinna ken how but I touched the stones and fell—”
“—and I found myself here, Claire, 1950—”
“—through to your time, and—”
“You’re here?” she sobbed, shaking him.
“Aye, I’m truly here—”
A storm of tears overtook them both as she reached up fiercely for his mouth. Jamie bent to her, despair vanished, intent on nothing but tasting her, feeling her in his arms; feeling her touching him and knowing him to be there. The hand cupping the back of her head held her tight against him and his cock involuntarily pushed deeper inside her.
A deep, guttural sound escaped her against his mouth. “Oh…oh my God,” Her eyes rolled back and the lids flicked shut as she moved against him in return, bringing him in still further. “Oh—God—”
“Jesus…Christ...” Jamie echoed, feeling his blood run hot as lead. He forced himself to move slowly—so slowly—slipping all the way out….and then in, slowly, inch by inch until her breathing hitched and she made a mewling sound against his cheek. “Mo ghraidh…” he moaned, closing his eyes, feeling tears running down his jaw.
She was grabbing fistfuls of his shirt and pulling herself full against him, forcing him in deeper, “—don’t—bloody—stop—”
He didn’t. He doubled his speed and sank into her, over and over, calling her name.
She was struggling furiously with the buttons down the front of her frock, panting, “I need—I need—”
Without a word, he rolled his weight back onto his knees and ripped the dress open down the front, buttons flying everywhere. He put an arm beneath her back so that she could remove the sleeves. On impulse, he brought his other arm beneath her and lifted her bodily off the floor, never breaking their fragile link. She lowered herself down onto him, bringing him impossibly deep as he settled back onto his haunches. The shirt came over his head in a flash of blue, the flimsy garment that bound her breasts fell to the ground, and there was nothing, nothing, between them. Jamie lowered his mouth to capture a nipple, so hard and soft at once, hearing her cry out. He trailed upward to her neck. He could feel the shapes of her beneath his hands as he gripped her to him, against his chest, under his lips: so small, and yet so strong.
“Jamie, you’re—I’ve—” she sobbed as she rode him, arms around his neck, cupping the back of his head as he cupped hers. “—I've—missed you—so much—”
Jamie was weeping, too, so hard that he could barely do more than croak as he pulled and pushed her against him by the base of her spine and buried his face in her shoulder. “—been—searching so long—couldna find ye—I thought you’d—”
“—I couldn’t bear to let you go—”
“—Mo nighean donn—”
They both lost words, then. It didn’t take long, pounding as they were with such frenzy and desperate need. She was underneath him again on the white tiles. He slid his hands under her, lowering himself and holding her tight against him. She clung to him just as tight, and when Jamie felt her begin to come apart around him, he followed her; followed his wife into that place where they were one flesh. Where time was of no concern any longer.
“No!” she cried, heaving, when he made to pull out of her at last. “Don’t you dare.”
Her teeth were gritted and her tears still flowing freely as she gripped him, eyes boring into his, wild with fear. “Don’t you fucking—dare—leave me…”
“No, no, mo ghraidh,” he murmured, breath ragged and heart pounding. He caved his shoulders and pressed the length of his body against hers, sheltering her. “I shall never be parted from ye, again, Claire… ever. I swear it.”
After a time, he made to shift position again and she moaned once more in panicked protest, her fingernails digging into his arms.
Making small, soothing sounds, he tucked her securely against his chest and rolled, setting them both onto their sides. He took care not to unsheathe from her even for a moment, letting their limbs intertwine. She was still frantic, and was saying his name over and over, grasping him to her as if to keep him from vanishing. He pressed every inch of his arms against her body, holding her to him. “Never…not ever,” he whispered to calm her, though he was breaking apart, too. “Not…not…oh, Christ, Claire…”
They wept. Wept until there were no more tears between them. Clinging together, murmuring, affirming over and over to one another those most simple and yet unfathomable truths.