This Is Us- Chapter 13
Thanks to @Tammywt a terrific sounding board and all around cheerleader!
I broke this chapter into two parts– it got too long! I’ll need to keep chapters consistent between AO3 and Tumblr so revamped future chapter list at the end of this post.
The promised early morning rain was moving on just as Claire and Faith reached the outer fields being used for the Quarter Day festivities. It had been a muddy walk over but the sun would soon dry out the paths. Not that such matters had dampened enthusiasm amongst the crowds. It was approaching mid-day and the place was packed.
Music could be heard coming from several different areas over the the fields. A small demonstration of traditional highland games was in full swing as were the various activities for children from sack races to sheep wrangling. Faith tried her hand at winning a goldfish with a ping pong ball. Faith (luckily) had a terrible throwing arm.
Every now and then, they would catch sight of someone they knew from Lallybroch in the crowd. Ian tended to draw the eye with his unusual gait and Jamie’s hair and height made him easier to see. They didn’t go out of their way to greet anyone, though. Mindful of Jamie’s observations, they remained two lost in the larger crowd.
Claire and Faith checked out the various strength challenges, impressed by the size of the competitors. She watched participants tossing around massive hammers, stones and logs. Not for the first time, Claire found herself thinking about the national psyche of the place.
How the games had remained the same generation after generation, still more or less using implements that were used then. Gooseflesh ran down her arms, these men, in kilt and boot, could have walked straight out of a rift in time.
From the corner of her eye she saw Faith standing in front of a cluster of women just as awe-inspiring as they readied themselves for a go and smiled for there was progress writ on today’s fields, too.
“Good luck, ladies!” She cheered them on as she reached her hand down to Faith and moved her a safer distance from the action.
After a time, they meandered through the crafts area, exploring everything on offer: gloves and socks made locally, candles, honey, fine metal, leather goods, cheeses and vegetables of all kinds. Nibbling samples and touching the knitted items as they went.
“Ooh…What’s it?” Faith asked on a reverent sigh after stumbling on a soft blanket in her favorite purple hue.
“Och, darlin’ ‘tis made from the finest alpaca, no’ more than 10 kilometers from here.” The squat man with a pipe hanging off his mouth proudly declared.
Faith pleaded with her eyes. Claire wasn’t certain if bargaining was part of the expected entertainment but her Uncle Lamb hadn’t carted her from hither and yon without teaching her a thing or two. By the time they were done she’d parted with £70.00 (down from £100).
She watched as Faith hugged the bag containing her new lovey to her chest, careful to keep it out of the damp path but she caught her surreptitiously rubbing her cheek against the soft corner that peeped out of the top. She smiled, knowing she’d gotten the best of the negotiation.
The afternoon sun was in their eyes as they made their way over to the bleachers set up for the shinty game. Though by the time they sat, the sun was behind them. A light breeze rising as the afternoon lengthened.
Faith had spotted Jamie right away, of course, and then noticed Jenny, Murtagh, Fergus. By that time, though, Claire had spread out the little picnic lunch she assembled from the various food stalls. A tempting array of snacks had kept Faith content and her mouth too busy for idle chatter.
It was a coed game, that much was clear but Claire wasn’t entirely sure about the teams or the rules. The players were wearing t-shirts of varying plaid designs in muted colors with Slainte prominently displayed. It looked as if Jenny and Jamie were on opposite teams.
Jenny had a wicked hook and didn’t shy away from muscling anyone who crossed her path out of the way. The game was physical. The smack of the ball against caman audible as were the grunts and calls of the players.
Claire watched for a bit and then concluded that whichever team Fergus was on, his only goal was scoring with a pretty blonde woman flirting right back.
The game looked like it might be winding down. Claire finished packing their food away then asked Faith if she wanted to visit the ponies. Just then, Jenny got in a particularly good shot.
Claire heard an appreciative cheer behind her, followed by young Jamie asking, “Did Mum score?”
She looked over to see Ian standing hand in hand with his son watching the field of play. She raised her hand as he smiled his hellos at them.
Faith called out “Uncan!” and pulled Claire up, urging them to Ian’s side where she promptly offered her lovey for inspection.
“Och, verra soft!” Uncan dutifully agreed.
Then Faith and wee Jamie began inspecting some bugs underneath the row of seats behind them.
Claire and Ian were chatting, eyes off the field when a sudden yell and the unmistakable sound of a collision rent the air.
Claire knew without looking that she would be needed. Wide eyes met steady ones.
“Faith?” She asked, even as Ian reached his hand out to the lass.
“I’ve got her. It’s no’ Jenny, she’s fine, I can see her still standing. Dinna worry, Claire. I’ll get the bairns back to the house. We’ll meet you later.”
Claire spun quickly and, running onto the field, reached into her bag for the kit she kept on her person at all times. There was a small crowd gathered around the centerline of the field.
With all of the efficiency of a master drill sergeant she split the crowd and was down on her knees next to the three people splayed out on the ground before she had even registered what she was looking at.
A woman, red cleats, long blonde hair, startlingly green eyes, another woman, short brown hair, shorter skirt- no, it was a skort– and glasses, not moving and a man, naturally, Jamie.
There was that kind of muted murmuring that happens at sporting events when players are injured. Claire caught Jenny’s eyes and with a minimum of mostly non-verbal communication was able to confirm that the first responders had already been called. They were housed under a special first aid tent set up between venues. They’d arrive momentarily.
She only hoped Ian had gotten Faith off the field and looking elsewhere. If she saw her parents, she’d want to come see them. No telling what might happen but there were too many people around to want to risk having to pass off anything Faith might say as accidental.
She eyeballed Jamie. His problem was obvious, though treatment for him could wait. He had a cut along his thigh. It would need stitches.
Red cleats was moving around but in pain, the skort was still flat out. Claire thought red had a dislocated shoulder, skort undetermined.
Skort then. Her skin was gray. A, B, C the three part emergency assessment vital to such situations.
Struck out at A - airway was compromised. She wasn’t breathing. Jamie was about to start chest compressions when Claire shot her hand out and stopped him.
“No, that’s– “ rather than explain she pushed at his body, understanding he was in the way, Jamie quickly moved to the side.
Claire dug her hands up and under skort’s back and hoisted her into a half sitting position, her body braced against Claire’s knees as Claire’s arms came around to the front of the woman’s chest.
Claire made interlaced fists just under her rib cage and then heaved for all she was worth, once, twice and a wheezing sound from skort told her she was on the right track, on the fourth squeeze a piece of rubber came flying out of the woman’s mouth.
Along with some water and what looked to be some fruit from lunch. An audible, grateful wheezing inhale told Claire that she had successfully cleared the blockage. Color was slowly returning to the woman’s face.
“You are alright.” Claire told her. “That’s it. Just shallow breaths, in and out. You’ll feel a lot better in a minute.”
Jamie was on the woman the second he saw she was out of immediate danger. He handed her a wet towel for her face and checked the rest of her out, even as Claire was doing the same.
“Lass, are ye ok? Anything else hurt?” She gave a grunt of negation to his question, still trying to get her breath back.
On a smaller wheeze Claire heard her breathe out, “Jaaaymee-EEE” in a rhythm that obviously had a hidden message.
Jamie chuckled in relief and responded with an answering grin, “Gen-EEEEVA. Tell me true, are ye ok?”
Claire smiled recognizing Wall-E calls – one of Faith’s favorite movies. By this point Geneva had readjusted her glasses and could see a bit better.
“Yes, Jamie, honestly I am. I borrowed my niece’s mouth guard, I guess I should have just skipped it?”
Jamie hugged her to him.
“Ye scarrit the hell out of me, dinna do that again.”
“Oof, get off! You’re a bloody mess and I just bought this skort!” She declared.
“Well, if I’m bleeding it’s because of you and yer wicked handmaiden -determined to take me out ye were! Between the twa of you and Jenny, I stood no chance!” Jamie pretended to be affronted.
Jamie was bleeding more heavily now. Claire quickly wadded up some bandages from her kit and pressed them firmly into Jamie’s leg.
He gave a grunt of pain.
She slapped his hand over the cut instructing, “Press here, hard, don’t move around too much.”
Jamie nodded at her but then turned to the other woman.
“An’ speaking of which, Geillie, how’s yer shoulder?”
Geneva gave a soft cry and turned her head around to find Geillis hurt though she had managed to sit up. Her eyes were closed and it looked like she was trying not to throw up or pass out. The shoulder needed tending.
Jamie crab crawled over to the woman.
“Geillie?” he asked. “Are ye ok?”
The woman’s eyes opened. She was clearly in pain but heard him.
“No.” She responded.
“Geillie?” Claire said to get her attention.
Her eyes shifted to Claire’s.
“I’m Claire I’m going to help you. You have a dislocated shoulder. Have you had one before?”
Geillie shook her head no.
“I know it’s painful but in just a minute or two you’ll feel much better.”
Jamie made to reach over and help.
Claire put her hands on his chest and pushed him backwards, repositioning his bandages.
“You stay right where you are. Damned stubborn Scot! Did you not hear me before? What do you think you’ll accomplish bleeding all over the place? Sit still, apply pressure. We need to stop the bleeding. Geillie will be fine, Jamie. I will take care of her, ok?” Claire reassured him holding his eyes. When she saw he understood she turned back to attend to Geillie.
With Jenny and Fergus’s help, she soon had Geillie in the right position. It took bit of maneuvering and two tries to pop the shoulder back in and she was sweating considerably before it was done.
“Oh, that feels much better!” Geillie said.
Claire gave her a quick rundown on aftercare just as the first responders came onto the field. They transported everyone off the field back to the first aid tent.
Jamie had declined the recommended visit to the Urgent Care clinic in favor of Claire stitching him up right where they were.
The ladies would be transported although Fergus had offered to drive them to save the ambulance fees. Geneva sat next to Geillie a comforting arm resting on her leg, the only part of her that Geneva didn’t think was hurt just then and waited for Fergus to pull up.
Claire numbed Jamie’s leg. There wasn’t a whole lot to look at in the tent so they all watched Claire work.
Jamie saw a small neat row of stitches appearing. Her hands automatically making the movements.
“Sassenach?” he began.
Her eyes came up.
“I…what ye did for Geneva? I dinna think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”
“I told you I was a doctor.” Claire downplayed but smiled when she said it. It had been nothing, every step drilled into her years ago.
“Aye, but there is a considerable difference between understanding something and knowing it. I wouldna figured it out in time. You saved Geneva’s life, Claire. I dinna ken how to thank ye for it but—”
Claire’s hands were still busy with the sutures so she contented herself with gently headbutting him and resting her forehead against his as she softly chided.
“Shh, you. That’s my job, it’s what I do.”
Jamie laughed as his hand reached behind her head and he pressed a lingering kiss of thanks and murmuring the same to her brow.
“Ladies? Shall we go, the car is just outside.”
Jamie glanced up, having forgotten that anyone else was with them. He watched as Fergus ushered Geillie and Geneva to the car. His eyes locked on Geillie’s and she smiled sheepishly and waved as she left.
Claire gently closed the door to the Laird’s room after making sure Faith was sound asleep and straightened her emerald green wrap dress a little as she turned.
She looked up to find Jamie ambling down the long gallery hall wearing a kilt with a blazer and a black Slainte t-shirt. The cotton worn and faded, it likely would feel soft as Faith’s lovey, she thought.
“Is the lass asleep?”
“Yes, but I’m sure a last cuddle from you won’t keep her up, she’ll be out again soon as her head hits the pillow. We had a big day.”
Claire watched him make his way toward her.
Jesus, the way he moved.
“Y-your– leg not troubling you?” Babbling tongue tied idiot! Claire admonished herself.
“Nah, I was in great hands and it’s no’ in a place that chaffs.” Jamie smiled, continuing to come towards her in slinky strides, as much big game cat as man. Something about the plaid changing his walk or his balance.
Perhaps it was just her, Claire thought. For whatever reason, she was especially aware of his body and how it moved within.
She normally tried to forget how freaking hot he was. He was her daughter’s father. Period, end, finito.
From the very first, she’d felt that pull, but normally she could pretend it came from the pit of her stomach and live with the white lie.
Oh, but not when he was wearing that …yum, no.
Now, she couldn’t help but be aware that the clenching in her body originated far lower down.
Claire made a funny humming sound in her throat as he brushed past her, the faded wool of his plaid caressing her hand. She shivered at the sound his heel made on the hardwood.
That caused him to pull back from the door just as he was about to open it. He turned his astonished gaze to hers and she could not hide her blush.
“Something I can help ye with, Sassenach?”
Jamie deliberately stepped in closer to her, rubbing up against her the tiniest bit. Not so much it was obvious but in a way that made her feel…why that ruddy Scottish bastard, he knew! He knew damned well how good he looked in his kilt.
A walking inducement to anyone with a pulse.
Too flustered to do anything about it she tried to soldier on.
“Uhm, no. I’ll just go down and —” Claire lost the train of her thoughts as his hand came up into her hair, light as a butterfly.
He was watching her closely. Pinned under that deep blue gaze, she had nothing to bluff with. His head moved closer to hers, she tried to move a little away but his body mirrored hers and followed where she led.
Aware of his mouth thisclose to hers, the sound of the soft rumbling noises he made, the smell of his soap, sandalwood and cedar. She tried to take a steadying breath but found herself panting instead.
“Sassenach?” Softly intoned on a whisper.
“What–what are you doing?”
She swallowed and looked up to find him watching her closely. His face so close she could feel the exhalations of his breath. If she moved a fraction of an inch he’d come straight into her.
Claire stared hard at his lips, tender and just a little sunkissed. He hadn’t shaved in long enough that the hair was just turning from prickly to malleable.
How would it feel against her tongue? She wet her lips.
He made a little sound that caused her eyes to lift up. He was staring at her mouth with as much intensity as she was his. An aching need spread through her.
She moaned a tiny bit imagining him leaning in with his body, trapping her solidly into the wall.
Unable to help herself, Claire pushed all the way back imagining how it would feel, the cool plaster behind her, the heat of Jamie in front, pressing inward until their bodies were joined.
He moved with her, but not pressing against her. He kept the sliver of space between their bodies. Oh, please!
His fingers traced her hair once more.
She squeaked a little and her lips parted as she shifted her weight on her tiptoes unconsciously reaching up toward his just as he spoke.
“Just getting this out of your hair, Sassenach.”
He said matter of factly and handed her a piece of crinkle paper from a box that Faith had been playing with earlier.
Claire looked at his hand rather stupidly. Then she understood what he had said.
“Oh, oh. Well, ah.” She couldn’t seem to form a coherent thought.
“I’ll see ye under the tent, shall I?” A raised brow of dismissal as he stole into the Laird’s room to kiss his daughter good night.
Chest heaving, Claire tried to slow her heartbeats down as she slumped against the wall and sighed too loudly to hear Jamie collapsing against the other side of the closed door trying to catch his breath as well.
Chapter Updates: Chapter 14: Into the Mystic/Kiss Me; Chapter 15: Like on A Date, Chapter 16: The Date (I think You Will Love This One), Chapter 17: Operation Lard Head, Chapter 18: Three Ravens