Fanfiction - Fairplay (College AU)
“And the teams are out on the field, looking decided - and pretty scary if you ask me! Jamie “King of Men” Fraser leading Oxford and Tom Christie commanding the Edinburgh fellows!” The speaker roared, as the stands applauded and cheered, a jungle of whistles and shouts of incentive. “You can tell the rivalry is strong in this one - the winning team today will definitely be the front runner heading to the Championships next month!”
“Jamie looks focused.” Ian commented next to Claire, clapping as the Oxford team players were announced by the speaker. “And Christie looks like gloom and doom – I bet he isna up to anything good.”
“I’m sure our team will handle it.” Claire replied, adjusting her sunglasses – the sun was out that morning, apparently eager to pay testimony to a much anticipated rugby game. As Jamie’s name was called and he briefly waved at the crowd, screams and chanting enhanced tenfold, as if the volume switch had been turned to maximum. “Is that the new player?” She asked curious, noticing the young man sitting on the bench, his blonde hair glowing like a marigold in the sunlight.
“Aye.” Ian smiled. “John Grey was the one drafted – too bad there wasna enough time for him to become better acquainted with the team. Our current scrum half is rubbish and John seems to be a great player.”
“What a shame!” Claire agreed. Jamie and Tom approached the centre of the field to shake hands, a duel of crushing grips, their eyes locking with unspoken promises of a ruthless game.
The Edinburgh team kicked off with brutal intensity, taking the lead with an early drop goal. Tom Christie was indeed a good player, Claire had to recognize – he seemed to make the rest of his colleagues better just by interacting with them, pushing them to their limits – a lot like Jamie did.
“It seems like Fraser was just warming up!” The speaker pointed with excitement in his voice. “He is leading the team to a try – the Edinburgh boys will need to catch a ride with a motorcycle to be able to get to him!” And soon enough Jamie grounded the ball over the opponent’s goal line, awakening huge clamours from the cheering crowd.
The next few minutes were hectic, with both teams achieving scoring points – they were fairly equated, both having some weaknesses and a couple of extraordinary players. The game became rougher, with a couple of ugly tackles taking place, the nastier one inflicted by Christie on Jamie. Claire’s heart tightened when she saw him projected in the air – echoes of the game with Northumbria and his head injury racing through her mind – but he promptly got up and raised a thumb to ease the mind of the howling crowd. They reached the halftime with Edinburgh on the lead, having been awarded a penalty point after an infringement from Oxford’s scrum half.
“I canna believe we might lose this!” Ian clenched his teeth, looking thoroughly annoyed. “I canna stand the idea of Tom Christie prancing about our campus, gloating after their victory!”
“It’s not over yet.” She said in a cheerful tone, looking as Jamie talked and gesticulated with the coach. He seemed irritated with something and kept throwing evaluating looks at their scrum half and then at John Grey. “I think we might be in for a surprise.”
When the halftime was over, the substitution was made – clearly a joint decision from Jamie and the coach - and John Grey entered the field for the first time wearing Oxford’s colours, looking pale but decided.
As soon as they made the formation, Grey threw the ball into it and moved as lightening to the hindmost foot of the scrum, neatly picking up the ball and passing it - like a guided missile - to the hands of Oxford’s fly half, the captain himself, Jamie Fraser. With the proceeding game, it became quite clear that Grey was not only an outstanding player – with a knack for impossible passes and agile as a gazelle in avoiding Christie’s tackles -, but also that he and Jamie were meant to play together. They seemed to predict each other’s moves with easiness and stormed the field like dancers in a physical duet, battering the Edinburgh team’s lines and inspiring the rest of Oxford’s players. A short stretch of time was enough for them to recover from the disadvantage at the score board, sealed with a mind-blowing drop goal that made the fans go crazy.
Chanting propagated like a tribal calling in the stands, encouraging both Jamie and John, which by then had already earned the right of a nom de guerre – John “The Lord” Grey.
When the referee blew the whistle to signal the end of the game, a joyful wave of blue crashed on the grass, as Oxford’s players ran and jumped on top of Jamie and John – the solid foundation of a victorious human pyramid. Claire looked around, grinning as Ian fist bumped the air – her heart overflowing with pride, noticing the gigantic smiles all around her. Jamie was hugging an incredulous John, complimenting him on his achievements – the promise of a legendary friendship being born on a cloudless day.
“You’re late.” Claire announced, as Jamie arrived half running, his hair flaming on the light of dusk - as if the sun was setting inside him.
“I’m sorry, mo nighean donn.” He kissed her forehead in apology, as she pursued her lips and began the task of fixing the collar of his shirt. “I went for a run with John and lost track of time discussing some tactics.”
“That’s alright.” She sighed, bumping his nose. “Ian called to say he’ll be meeting us there. Is John coming too?”
“Aye.” Jamie caught her hand and entwined their fingers, as they began to walk together. It was the college’s anniversary – a big milestone, even for such an ancient institution – and a fancy party was taking place in the Main Hall, where lots of prominent students and alumnae would be gathered to celebrate. “He went to his dorm to shower and will meet us there.”
“You quite like him, don’t you?” Claire asked, caressing the back of his hand with her thumb. “You two became quite close in this last month – always training together and talking.”
“John is a kind, good-hearted, man.” Jamie agreed. “Talking to him always seems easy and uncomplicated – a lot like talking to you, actually.” He smiled, the corner of his mouth twitching. “And we’re much stronger as a team since he came on board. We might actually have a chance at the Championships.”
“Should I be jealous?” She elbowed him, playfully, in a mock pretence of grievance. “You have been spending more time with him than me, that’s for sure.”
“John Grey might be an interesting lad and a good friend.” He let go of her hand and held her by the waist, the tip of his fingers brushing the curve of her buttock, hidden under the emerald green fabric of her cocktail dress. “But he doesna have an arse like yers, Sassenach. You will always be number one in my book, especially when ye wear such a nice dress – A Dhia, I can feel ye underneath it. Do we really have to go anywhere at all?”
“Always making me feel special.” Claire replied dramatically, offering him a light peck on the lips – careful not to smudge her discrete lipstick – and then a possessive squeeze of his own hardened and well-shaped derrière. “Enough time for me to wear your shirt later.”
The vast room was already filled with people, wearing unusually elegant garments – girls with dresses of vivid colours, forming a spontaneous bouquet against the blooming light of chandeliers and sparkling glasses – luring men in their suits with promises of hidden secrets. Jazz music played in the background, setting the rhythm to conversations and filling the gaps of silence in some awkward exchanges.
Claire and Jamie smiled to a couple of acquaintances and waved to some colleagues, as they made their way into the heart of the party. They were standing close together, talking about Claire’s classes, when a male voice imposed over their conversation.
“Claire?” Frank Randall smiled at her, his brows furrowing when he glanced at Jamie from the corner of his eye. “It’s good to see you.”
“Hello, Frank.” She greeted him, turning around. “It’s nice to see you too.”
“Fraser.” Frank acknowledge Jamie with a small nod of his head, his thin lips forming a weak attempt at a pleasant smile. “Congratulations on that fantastic game with Edinburgh last month. Very well played.”
“Thank ye, Professor Randall.” Jamie gave him a relaxed smile and turned to Claire. “Mo nighean donn, I think I’ll go and say hello to Ian and John. I’ll see ye in a bit.” He kissed her cheek and squeezed her fingers in goodbye, offering her strength – reassuring her of his trust and love – and walked away, towering over the crowd.
“I was wondering…” Frank hawked, his fingers fidgeting with the glass of champagne he was holding. “If we could talk.”
“We are already talking, I daresay.” Claire pointed, accepting a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, offered by a passing waiter. “What is it, Frank?”
“Ah – yes.” He licked his lips, quickly looking around them, scanning for anyone within earshot. ““It has become my understanding that you and James Fraser are dating.” He said in a hurry, as if he was running away from his own words. “Is it serious?”
“I don’t see how that would be any of your business.” Claire replied in a dry tone, raising a brow. “We haven’t been together in a long time, Frank. But yes - everybody knows Jamie is my – very serious - boyfriend. It’s not exactly a secret.”
“I see.” He swallowed hard, avoiding her piercing amber eyes, and glancing at her silver ring. “I thought maybe it was a fleeting dalliance. I believed you fancied someone more refined – more polished.”
“Is that what you are?” Claire asked gently, anger and resentment completely absent from her words. “Because I was under the impression things didn’t work out between us – and not by any fault of mine, Frank. If only you had been happy sleeping with one student at a time, perhaps we would be together until this day.”
“I deserve that.” Frank pinched his nose with his skinny fingers. “I was terribly foolish to hurt you, Claire. You are, by far, the most singular woman I ever met.”
“I’m happy you did.” She said softly, looking intently at him. “I only met Jamie because of it – and everything that led me to him has my deepest gratitude.”
“I was under the impression you still had some…feelings for me.” He whispered in a strained voice. “You are always so charming and pleasant every time we meet and have a conversation.”
“I’m over you, Frank.” Claire affirmed, trying to infuse some kindness into the situation, but getting increasingly more uncomfortable. “That’s why I’m nice when we talk. I don’t have any repressed feelings – no secret expectations of you wanting me back. You were important to me, once – I offer you the respect that position deserves. Nothing less – nothing more.”
“I have seen how you look at him. The pride and joy in your eyes.” Frank bit his words. “Did you ever love me?”
“I did.” She whispered, softly. “But not like that – not how I love him.”
“He knows about us, doesn’t he?” He brushed his short dark hair. “And yet he left you with me. Maybe he doesn’t care all that much.”
“What we have has no room for mistrust or lies.” She smiled, distracted, her eyes already searching for Jamie amongst the crowd. “He left because he respects me. Because he trusts me – us - with all his heart.”
“I wish you happiness, Claire.” Frank finally turned away, hiding the pain in his eyes.
“Be happy too, Frank.” She tilted her head. “As I am.”
Claire searched for Jamie inside the room – spending quite some time in pushing through the animated crowd and stopping to exchange pleasantries with teachers from the medical department, some already quite inebriated. He was nowhere within sight, so Claire decided to search for him outside.
When the big oak doors caved under the pressure of her hands, she was saluted by the night’s cold breeze, the taste of oranges and jasmine on the back of her throat. It seemed like the party had extended beyond the premises of the Hall - students were scattered in the lawn in front of the building, laughing and talking in small groups.
She spotted Jamie – looking magnificent in his grey suit pants and light blue shirt - talking to John – clad in black and grey - under the shadows of a cypress. They were tall and beautiful, like legends of days long forgotten, best friends in times of peace and warriors when the occasion called for such actions. John was talking rapidly to Jamie, who seemed to be entirely amused by whatever was being said. Eventually he whispered back to John and they both laughed together.
Claire could tell the moment Jamie had spotted her – even at distance his eyes seemed to soften and the corners of his mouth were pushed on an eager smile. He patted John’s back in farewell and started to walk towards her.
For an instant she could see John Grey, left behind as Jamie made his way to her, and a shiver shot through her spine. It was like looking into a strange mirror - his eyes betrayed exactly the same desire and adoration that could be found within her own.