Fanfiction - Stealing Tomorrow (Chapter 2)
Chapter 2 – Forget Me Not
Broch Mordha, 15 years ago
Hearing a soft knock, Claire opened the door of the small cottage that was her temporary residence in the village, property of the clinic - kindly lent to her for the duration of her internship.
“You look very smart, Jamie.” She smiled, noticing his impeccably ironed blue shirt, which made the colour of his eyes even more striking. He had tried to tame the cowlicks and waves of his hair and was perfectly shaven – the grooming being slightly impaired by the giant bruise on his cheek, extending like an oil leak to his lower eyelid, and the redness and swelling on his lip – as if he had been bitten and forcefully kissed. “Even if you slightly resemble an oversized Dalmatian.”
He shrugged and smirked.
“Ye look lovely, Sassenach.” His eyes quickly travelled across the span of her body, clad in a long floral dress, the lightness of the fabric enhancing her curves. Jamie blushed a little, realizing she had noticed his overt attentions, but defiantly met her eyes. “I brought ye a wee gift – I’ll still get ye some popcorn, though.”
With the suspense and skill of a magician, Jamie produced a small vase in which a couple of small blue flowers nestled together.
“They are Myosotis, aren’t they?” Claire exclaimed, delighted, taking the delicate vase on her hands. “I’ve never seen them quite so blue. Where did you get these?”
“From my home’s garden – Lallybroch, that is. I did the plant seedlings myself.” He seemed content with her reaction and somewhat proud. “I thought ye’d like something that ye could keep and watch growing day by day, more than a bouquet that would dwindle and waste away.”
“Well, you were right.” She inhaled the sweet and lively scent, the unique perfume of nature’s creation. “They have another name, don’t they? I think I recall Uncle Lamb calling them something else.”
“Aye.” Jamie’s cat-like eyes smiled in time with his lips, his voice husky. “Forget-me-nots.”
“Were you afraid that I’d forget you, Jamie?” Claire asked softly, placing her precious gift on the kitchen table and grabbing her purse to leave with him.
“I ken I’d have a hard time forgetting ye, Sassenach.” He gave her a lopsided smile and the tip of his fingertips brushed against her hand, a caress so heartbreakingly gentle that her heart fluttered like a trapped moth against an unshielded light. “But it couldna hurt to make sure, aye?”
“Are you watching the movie at all?” Claire asked, biting a crunchy popcorn, saltiness and sweetness flooding the back of her tongue. She had been following the intricate plot of the movie, an acclaimed musical candidate to win several coveted awards – they were about to enter the part where the star crossed lovers realized that their love could never be – but the feeling of being observed had made her look through the corner of her eye, only to realize Jamie had been absorbed in contemplating her instead of the screen.
“Aye.” He grinned in the half light, his eyes never leaving the outline of her face. “The lad doesna sing sae bad, but he isn’t much of a writer. It will end badly for them both.”
Claire raised her brows, impressed by his accurate remarks. Nonetheless, being so closely inspected was making her uncomfortable and very self-aware.
“Is there something weird on my face?” She asked tentatively. Jamie leaned closer to her, his blue eyes intent.
“I was wondering how ye’d look with yer hair down.” He whispered softly, close to her ear. Claire had decided to trap her wild curls on an elegant braid for their date – and having met her at the clinic, when she was wearing her working bun, he hadn’t yet seen her with her hair loose.
“You can thank your guardian angel that you haven’t seen me that way.” She snorted. The small and cosy cinema room was almost empty, but a couple of young girls threw them looks of reproach for disturbing the gut-wrenching atmosphere. “It might just attack you when you’re not looking.” She finished in a lower voice.
“Hm.” He casually reached for a handful of popcorn, only to allow his hand to get closer to hers. “Ye are so different from all the lassies I knew all my life, Claire.”
“Uppity?” She suggested with apprehension. His fingers were making circular movements on the back of her hand, until they eventually entwined, like scattered pieces of a forgotten puzzle coming together. “Strange?”
“Strong.” He said, his face serious. His eyes fixed on her lips and she couldn’t avoid to subtly lick them, the mere suggestion of his touch enough to make her thirsty. “Beautiful.”
“You don’t know that much about me yet.” Claire whispered. The smell of him, so close, was inebriating in the darkness, like all her senses were sharper, more in tune with him. “You could be wrong.”
“I may not know yer birthday or yer favourite drink. Which books made ye cry and what position ye sleep in – but I already know that I would do almost anything to have the chance to find out.” Their foreheads were almost touching, as he came even closer to her. “I already ken how ye make me feel, Sassenach.”
Their lips met – not needing any type of compass in the darkness - the soundtrack of the love story on screen playing just for them. And as Jamie’s hands found her curls, untangling her hair until it fell over her shoulders, they could be the only two people in love in the entire universe.
Edinburgh, Present day
Don’t cry. Breathe.
Claire mechanically reached for his hand and started to unfold the bandages in silence. Jamie winced and hunched his shoulders, as if he was surprised – and his eyes were filled with true wonder.
“Ye are real.” He whispered, his eyes following the steady and calculated movements of her gloved hands. “I…wasn’t sure that ye were.”
“How are you feeling, Mister Fraser?” She asked in a monotonous tone, like a cold but professional stewardess on a long and tiresome flight. His eyes widened, the lines of his face a mirror of pain, as if she had just slapped him without further warning.
“When did I become Mister Fraser?” He said between teeth. “How long have ye been working here, Sassenach?”
“Don’t call me that!” She demanded in a strong voice, exhaling. “Not that I owe you any explanations, but I’ve been a surgeon here for almost three months now.” Claire said. “Can you wiggle your fingers for me?”
“Claire…” He began, his blue eyes imploring. “There are things I should tell ye…”
“No.” She replied, firmly. “You are a patient here and I’m bound by my oath to treat you to the best of my abilities. But we have nothing to say to each other – apart from you answering my questions and I informing you with truthfulness about your condition.” Anger filled her chest, like something sticky and dark, making her breathing more laboured.
“I can’t move them just now.” He said, after a while, in a hoarse voice. The removing of the dressings revealed the terrible sight of a compromised hand – only his thumb seemed unaffected, while his middle and ring fingers were crushed into unnatural positions, the joints shattered. His index finger was broken in at least two places, even if it still maintained an air of normalcy by comparison. Blood still oozed from deep cuts on his palm and from the place where the bone had ruptured the skin, like a gruesome and bloody flower springing from the inside out. “Can ye save it?”
“I’ll certainly try.” She nodded, the lump in her throat approaching the size of an ostrich egg. Even the best surgeon in the world wouldn’t be able to rebuild a perfect hand from such wreckage – the best possible outcome was to save all his fingers and to obtain a range of function that would allow him to carry ordinary movements with his hand. His hand had been so tender in the darkness of the cinema. “I need to assess your belly. Is it sore?”
“A wee bit.” Jamie admitted, avoiding her eyes as she pushed up his shirt, covered in soot and blood, in order to expose him to her cold hands. Claire touched his flank with light movements, going deeper in critical places – once she palpated his upper left quadrant he hissed like a resentful cat and his abdomen went rigid.
“You might have a ruptured spleen.” She bit her bottom lip, still glancing at his belly. There, that small spot – she had bit him there, once. She could still hear his throaty groan, half moaning half laughing. “We will do an ultrasound, but it’s likely you’ll need surgery today.”
“Will ye do it?” He asked. Jamie was gritting his teeth – he was on basic painkillers and Claire was sure he was experiencing some excruciating pain from his damaged hand, acute abdomen and several first degree burns on his body.
“I’m not sure that is wise.” She said slowly. “I’ll ask Joe to do it – he is a very gifted surgeon.”
“Will you be there, Claire?” He pleaded in a low voice, hesitant.
“I will.” Claire hawked. “It’s my team – it’s my duty to oversee it.” He seemed discouraged and battered, looking at the white ceiling.
“Are my men alright?” Jamie asked, while she began to clear some debris from the wound. “Are they safe?”
“They are being taken care of. You should focus on getting stronger now.” She replied more softly and then, raising her eyes to meet his – so he could see the emptiness there – added in a neutral tone. “Your hand is swelling. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to cut your wedding ring out.”