Fanfiction - A Lifetime of Her (Part VIII)
Part VIII – “Please teach me gently how to breathe”
You can find every previous part here.
“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 discharge you.”
“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 news.”
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.
I knew 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.”
…for now - End of Section 1