Flood my Mornings: Service
Notes from Mod Bonnie:
- This story takes place in an AU in which Jamie travels through the stones two years after Culloden and finds Claire and his child in 1950 Boston.
- See all past installments via Bonnie’s Master List
- Previous installment: Thanks (Thanksgiving and Bree’s Birthday)
Late November, 1950
“Bath time, little smudge!”
Bree squealed and, like a shot, went barreling toward the bathroom. Turning two years old seemed to have turned on a tap of perpetual energy from on high: energy to throw tantrums, energy to hate going to bed, energy to form VERY strong opinions about what she did and did not plan to eat, and so on, and so forth for all time.
However, she had also decided she loved baths, and by the time I arrived at the tub myself, she was already standing on the bathmat, triumphantly nude and brimming with expectation with her toys in hand. I laughed and kissed the top of her head. “One minute, you goofy girl.”
I poked my head briefly into the living room. “Do you want bath duty or bedtime duty tonight?”
“I’ll take bed, if it’s all the same to you, Sassenach,” Jamie said, looking up from the rolltop. “I’d like to get the rest of the bills paid and ready for tomorrow’s Post.”
“Fine by me,“ I said, taking the chance to stretch my back, already thinking of plopping into bed as soon as humanly possible. “Thank you for handling those, sweetheart.”
“’Course,” he said with feeling, rising and kissing my forehead. “How are ye feeling?”
“Pretty well, at the moment,” I said, pleasantly surprised, now that I thought about it. “Like death, this morning, but I haven’t vomited once since lunch!”
“Victory, indeed,” he grinned, kissing me, long and sweetly.
“MaMAAAA?” bellowed Bree, her voice bouncing ghoulishly around the bathroom walls. “Come’on do insee’pyder, please!”
“I’m being summoned,” I murmured against his lips.
“Go,” he whispered. “Heaven forbid ‘insee’pyder’ have to wait.”
“Oh,” I called when I was halfway back down the corridor, “I think the electric bill came today. It’s on the counter by the phone with the rest of today’s mail.”
“Thank you, mo ghraidh,” he called back.
Tub filled, baby inserted, bubbles abundant, I knelt beside the tub and swirled my hands in the warm water. Bree beamed up at me, ready: “GO! Insee’pyder, Mama!”
“Alright,” I said dramatically, reaching for the green plastic sandbox bucket and scooping up water as I sang: “Theeeeeeee ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiiider went UP the water spout ….”
I raised the bucket theatrically. “Down came the raaaaaain AND—”
The payload released on, “WASHED the spider out,” dousing Bree with warm, soapy water.
Fizzy giggles emerged through the waterfall pouring down her scrunched-up face as I sang on. “Out came the suuuun and dried up all the rain, and the ITS-Y-bit-sy spiiiiider went UP the spout—?”
“—AGAIN!!!” Bree finished, knowing the drill and LOVING it.
We had just finished washing the shampoo-spider from her hair and ANOTHER rendition was demanded, when Jamie’s voice came from the doorway. “Sassenach?”
“Yes, darling?” I said absently, reaching for the bar of soap Bree had just knocked into the water.
“What is the ‘selective service?’”
My blood froze absolutely cold. I whirled on my knees to gape at him, praying that it was a newspaper clipping in his hand, or one of his library books, or—
But it was a letter bearing the words ‘Department of Defense’ across the top. The truth was written on his face, the tightness of his voice, the rigid set of his jaw. “Tis the forced conscription for the war in the east, aye?”
“Jamie—” I staggered to my feet, praying in blind panic. Please, God, no. “Jamie—Please tell me—you haven’t been—?”
“To Mr. James Fraser,” he read,
“According to our records, you have not yet registered with the Selective Service, as is required of all permanent residents of the United States.
Please report no later than December 15th, 1950 to the enlistment station named below for registration, or risk revocation of your residency status with the Department of Immigration.
Jamie trailed off, his face a mask of control I hadn’t seen in many years. The sight terrified me to my core—his face of duty, of danger, of great burdens to be borne.
My hands were shaking as I reached for the letter, as I scanned it wildly for some salvation. “But you’re—you’re not even a citizen! They can’t just force you to go off and fight in their wars!”
“Apparently they can,” he said stiffly. “’All permanent residents,’ it says.”
“Jesus…” There was no way out. “Jesus—fucking—”
“FUN-KING!” Bree squeaked from the tub, sounding immensely pleased. Normally, that would have incited riotous laughter, then stern admonishment and promises between Jamie and I to guard our words more carefully. But we barely noticed.
My blood pounded so loudly in my ears I could barely hear myself blurting, “We could go to Canada."
He cocked his head in question. “They dinna fight wars there?”
I gave a jerking shrug. “They don’t usually start them, at least.”
“That’s the coward’s way,” he whispered, his face still stone. “I canna just run.”
“And why not?” I demanded, my voice treacherously close to both tears and shouting.
“Why can I no’ take the coward’s way?” The mask wavered, showing his scorn. “Christ, Claire, do ye no’ ken me at all?”
“And do YOU not know me?” I shouted. “Do you not have the faintest idea what it DID to me to—” It took only the cracking of my voice for the panic to overtake me completely in wracking sobs as my hands went feral. “ —to let you go to your death? For a cause you—shouldn’t even have been dragged into in the first place?? I w—” I choked. I was mere inches from his face, but I could barely see him through the tears. I wrenched a breath from my throat. “—WON’T, do it—again—do you—hear m—?”
Jamie suddenly snatched me hard against him, his voice a cracked moan of despair through his own sobs. “I know, mo chridhe…I know….”
I buried my face in his chest, and could only croak, “Jamie—”
He tried to say something, but couldn’t get a word out.
We clung to one another with every ounce of strength, swaying and weeping for a long time, until —
“I’m scairt of this, Sassenach.”
His breath was hot and gasping in my hair. “God, I—dinna want any part of it…. The thought of leaving ye….the—” He let out a sob, and I could feel his tears against my temple, the resonance of his words in my chest. “—Christ, the bairns—”
He buried his face in my shoulder. “I’m so scairt, Claire.”
“What’s you scairt, Daddy?”
We turned to see Bree standing in the tub, still naked as you please, looking up, stricken.
With a small sound that broke my heart, Jamie released me and crossed to the tub. He lifted his daughter up into his arms and pressed her against his chest, not seeming to notice that his shirt was instantly soaked.
“Daddy? What’s you scairt?” she repeated.
I had to clamp my hand over my mouth. He clutched her tighter, rocking her, focusing his entire being on love of her.
“Use-r words, Daddy.”
Despite everything, he choked out a laugh at that.
“I’m scairt,” he answered hoarsely after a moment, “of having to leave you and Mama, a chuisle.”
I came and wrapped my arms around them both, trying so very hard not to slip into panic. This—this was my home, these three people I held—That it might be ripped from—
“Dinna leave though’kay?” Bree demanded, glaring sternly at him. “Okayyyy, Daddy?”
“Okay?” I seconded in a feeble whisper.
He let out another weak, broken laugh and leaned down to kiss us both. I could feel his chest shuddering with the sobs he was suppressing.
The words were in Gaelic, breathtakingly quiet, and he repeated them over and over.
"I won’t…I won’t.”
When he drew back a long, long time later, his eyes were dry. “Now,” he said, kissing Bree and wrapping a towel around her shivering back, “let’s get ye ready for bed, wee cub. Which storybook shall we have, tonight?”
Jamie resolved never to let Claire or Brianna see his fear of this ever again.
“I’ll go tomorrow to register my name,” he said firmly to Claire as he held her in their bed that night, “but it willna come to anything, Sassenach.” There are millions of folk they’ll call up before me.”
“You don’t — ”
“Dinna fash, mo nighean donn,” he crooned, kissing and soothing away her fears. “I’m staying right here—We’ll no’ be parted—I’m right here—”
But he lay awake far into the night and most nights to follow, praying with all his soul.
Dinna take me from them.
[more to come]
From the prompts:
@dlouise2016 said: This may not be appropriate for FMM but in response to your request for Jamie “firsts” & since he is only about 27-28, there was a military draft going on at the time for the Cold War & the Korean War. Since Jamie was certainly a warrior, he must have some strong feelings about war & Claire definitely would with her WWII experience
@chechzooo suggested: Staying out of the draft