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After All This Time

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After All This Time:

It's strange, being here.

Scotland.

She's never been before, but memories of a time that now seems like a lifetime ago overwhelm her senses—a time when she could wrap herself up in his Scottish brogue and listen to him all night long and never tire of it.

But that was high school. That was twenty years ago. God, how has it already been two decades since she was an easy-going teenager, not bogged down by the realities of adult life?

Claire Beauchamp checks her watch, bouncing on her heels as she waits in line at the local coffee shop. The line is long, which she takes as a good sign that this is the best coffee in town, just as the receptionist at her hotel, Mrs. Baird, had declared.

She has plenty of time, she doesn't need to be there for another hour and a half, but she was hoping to get to the conference hall in time to go over her speech.

The annual Neurology, Neurosurgery and Trauma Conference is being hosted in Scotland this year, and Claire was chosen to give a seminar on the newest laparoscopic technology that had been piloted at her hospital.

As she waits in line, she runs through her speech, or, well, the parts she can remember anyway. Nerves seem to be getting the best of her today.

Words like adenoma, saccular aneurysm, and thrombus fly through her mind, and she imagines the slide show images that will go along with each point.

Before she knows it, she's at the counter, ordering the largest coffee available and a blueberry scone to tide her over. She's too nervous to eat, her stomach is in knots as is, but she knows if she doesn't at least try to eat something, she'll feel even worse under the bright lights while she's on stage.

She moves off to the side after paying, waiting amongst the other patrons for their names to be called. It's crowded in this corner, people bumping shoulders as they try to make room for one another.

It's suffocating, honestly, so she worms her way out, trying her best to slink to the other corner of the tiny establishment. She has to turn backwards to shimmy out, and when she turns about face again, a large, plaid-covered chest meets her.

"Oomph!" she grunts, raising her hand to stop herself from running face first into this stranger. She's in heels for the conference, so her nose is almost to his collarbone. "I'm so sorry!"

"'Tis no' bother," the man states, and Claire looks up at the sound of his voice, making eye contact with another person for the first time all morning; her nose has been in her phone or her mind's been too occupied with her speech to notice her surroundings until now.

But she'd recognize that voice anywhere.

Her breath catches in her throat, more suffocating than the thought of giving her speech in front of thousands of people later today. Those eyes, she'd never forget those clear, blue orbs, the way they used to look at her with so much love and tenderness.

She exhales shakily, shaking her head in disbelief. "J-Jamie?"

Claire feels like a teenager, like those twenty years she was just thinking about had never happened. How is this possible?

"Cl… Claire?" he breathes.

His eyes widen, his large hands gripping her shoulders to lean her back a smidge, trying to take her all in. She bites her lower lip, trying to squash the smile blooming on her face.

"Christ, Sassenach! What're ye doin here? In Scotland?"

She giggles breathlessly, tucking a strand of her dark hair behind her ear. She'd left her curls wavy today, styling them so they weren't as wild as they naturally are, but this one ringlet never seems to want to stay down.

"I," she starts, her voice seeming to get caught in her throat. She tugs at the collar of her black shirt, the bow that rests there suddenly feeling like a noose.

Before she can say more, a loud, "Claire!" rings out from behind the counter.

Looking over her shoulder, Claire waves a hand to the barista to signal that she's Claire, then looks back to Jamie, asking him to hang on for a second. "I'll be right back."

He nods, and she turns away, squeezing her way through the other customers to retrieve her breakfast.

When she returns, Jamie takes her hand, the gesture seeming so natural, like no time has passed in all the years they've been apart, and he urges, "Can we talk outside? Less people out there."

She grins at how sheepish and adorable he still is and suddenly she's back in high school.

Back in New York, where all the girls can't stop talking about the new exchange student that's come for their senior year before they all head off to college.

Claire giggles at the memory, remembering how excited everyone was and how shocked she'd been to see the handsome ginger walking through the doorway of her History class. His hair was longer back then, but he is just as beautiful now as she remembers him being so long ago. She was entranced by the boy, and somehow, for whatever reason, he'd navigated toward her as well.

They'd been drawn to one another like moths to a flame, maybe for the sole reason of them both being outlanders in a new country. Before the school year could even really get started, all the other girls hated Claire because the cutest boy in school was besotted with her and not them.

They'd been inseparable, Claire and Jamie, had held hands to and from each class, and were lucky enough to be lab partners, which led to study dates at her house.

Her parents had died when she was younger, something Jamie could relate to since his own mother had passed away a few years prior. Claire grew up with her Uncle Lamb in the States, who was endlessly amused by the pair of teenagers so young and in love.

Lamb was an archeologist who traveled the world, but once Claire grew old enough for school, they'd settled in New York where Lamb could study and work at The New York State Museum that had a collection of over three million different archeological finds, some of which he had contributed over the years.

Uncle Lamb always allowed Jamie to come over, so long as the bedroom door was open, which amused Claire but made Jamie's cheeks turn just as red as his hair.

Not that the open door had stopped them from exploring one another. There were plenty of dates to sneak away on—late nights in open fields, making out in movie theaters, and anywhere else the pair could find to be alone.

The school year ended, however, and after graduation everything changed...

"How have you been?" Jamie asks, leading her to a table just outside the café.

His hand is still holding hers lightly, and she's reluctant to let go. The feel of him there with her settles her nerves more than anything else has so far today.

It's warm out, a light breeze cooling things off. Jamie's plaid shirt is covered by a thin hunter green jacket, and she's thankful she chose a black suit with a matching jacket today instead of the dress she originally had planned.

Situating herself in the chair, she releases his hand and sets her coffee and scone down as well, saying, "Really well. I'm a doctor, a, a surgeon, actually."

"Aye," he huffs with a boyish grin, "I always kent ye'd be. Ye were always so fascinated by the wee beasties and what not."

Chuckling, she shakes her head with a fond smile. "They're germs, and you certainly know that by now."

Memories of helping the young Scot study Biology and teaching him all the science she knew back then flash through her mind, and she smiles wistfully at the wave of nostalgia it washes over her.

"But it's sae much more fun callin' 'em that."

They laugh lightly, and Claire can't help but stare at him in wonder.

He's grown up, for sure, who hasn't in twenty years? His hair is still just a gorgeously red, still curls on the ends like she used to love. His body has grown, his muscles much more defined than they were at eighteen, and holy hell, is he gorgeous.

She bites her lips, trailing her eyes back to his face when she realizes they've meandered elsewhere.

"Sorry," she huffs in embarrassment as she catches his gaze and notes the amused smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "I just can't believe you're here."

He grins again, "'Tis me that should be shocked, no? I'm the one that lives here."

Before she can reply, his eye catches the gleam on her finger. Slowly, oh so slowly, he reaches across the small, wooden table, lifting her hand in his.

Shit.

He'd given her that ring, that thin, silver band that meant nothing, really. It had been a promise back then, so long ago, that when he returned from Scotland, after tending to his family's farm for the summer, they'd be together.

That summer, though, his father had grown ill, cancer, and had passed away before Jamie really had time to wrap his head around what his father's death would mean for him, and for them.

His mother was gone, then his father, which just left Jamie and his older sister, Jenny to run the land. Jenny was fresh out of University at the time, newly married to Ian and already with child. She was in no way prepared to take over the family business with everything going on in her life. He'd never want to put that kind of burden on her. Especially after Ian got knocked from a horse he was training one day and had his leg trampled on, injuring it permanently.

It wasn't what Jamie had planned for his life, Claire knew that. They'd spent plenty a night planning a future together. They'd wanted to move to Boston for her to attend medical school, and he wanted to go to college as well, to study linguistics.

They were going to start a life together, no matter how young they were—marriage, a gaggle of kids, graduation, buying a house… they wanted it all. They'd make it work because they were convinced they'd never love another human as much as they loved each other.

But that all changed with one phone call, one teary-eyed conversation where Jamie told her he had to put their dreams on hold, had to take care of his family's business. They'd have nothing without the farm, and he was the only one who could manage it for now.

He'd begged her forgiveness, begged her to still go to Boston, to not let this hiccup in his life stunt her own dreams.

And after months of toying with the possibility of moving to Scotland to be with Jamie or moving to Boston, her longing to attend Harvard won out… especially after Jamie completely pulled away and distanced himself. Removing himself from the equation.

Bloody bastard.

She knows now he'd done it to make her decision easier, and she's thankful for it all these years later. He knew she would've given up everything to be with and support him. But back then she'd hated him, had been so mad that she often considered tossing the ring into the trash.

But she couldn't.

Something always told her not to.

So there it sat, on her right ring finger. Just a tiny sliver of a reminder to her and only her that love was possible, even if it wasn't with Jamie Fraser, being loved so deeply again could happen.

After a while, it became like a second skin to her, often forgetting it was there after so many years.

"I never took it off," she whispers, rubbing at the back of her neck as pink tinges her cheeks.

He tugs at his bottom lip with his teeth, nodding with wide, watery eyes as he lets her hand go, his thumb trailing against her skin as he does.

She grabs her coffee, not knowing what else to do, praying that her rapidly beating heart would slow down enough to stop echoing in her eardrums.

Inhaling sharply, she bounces her leg that's crossed over the other, smiling shyly over at him.

Jamie smiles back, shaking his head. "It's verra nice to see ye, Sassenach."

Her stomach flutters at the nickname that she hasn't heard in two decades, instantly making her feel like she's eighteen again, sitting under a starry night on a blanket holding hands and peppering kisses to his neck.

"So a surgeon, eh?"

She pulls herself from the memory and nods, explaining that yes, she went to Harvard, loved it, in fact, and became a surgeon. "I had to work my ass off, of course, to become one, but it was worth it. I'm in line to be chief of surgery, actually." She smiles fondly, knowing that no matter what happened in their lives, becoming a surgeon was one of the best decisions she ever made. "What about you? Are you still running your family's farm?"

"Aye," he replies, tucking his chin to his chest before looking up at her through those long lashes of his. He tells her, "I won't bring us down with the details of the first few years, tryin' tae keep the business afloat wi'out my da, but after some time, things worked out." He tells her how with the help of his business partner and family friend, Murtagh, they've been able to expand the business. "'Tis now more than just a farm, ken? We've got horses fer people to ride, we do lessons fer kids, and we've got an apple orchard people visit each Fall. It's become a bit of a popular attraction around here."

She smiles watching him light up as he explains his business, and she's truly happy for him. It brings her great peace to know everything worked out. "Horseback riding lessons?" she asks, "My daughter would love that."

His head tilts, wonder filling his eyes. "A daughter?"

"Yes," she grins, reaching for her phone. "I was married for a little while during medical school. But," she waves her hand, not wanting to go into the details of how terrible Frank was and how his mistresses took precedence over Claire and their child. "Well, let's just say after only four short years, I realized Frank was a mistake and I went back to being a Beauchamp." She sighs, shrugging, having long since put the prick behind her. "My daughter, though, is named Julia."

"Fer yer Ma," he whispers reverently, smiling softly, knowingly, at her.

She could cry from the sincerity in his eyes, so instead she nods and unlocks her phone, clicking on a picture of the freckle-faced girl and holding it out to Jamie.

"Och, I'm afraid if I'm to see, I'll need these," he admits, pulling a pair of thin glasses from his jacket pocket. "Only fer reading an' such," he assures, a blush creeping onto his cheeks.

She grins, telling him, "You look as dashing as ever," before her own face grows pink at the realization of what she's just said aloud.

"I dinna look like an old man?" he jests, tipping the glasses to the end of his nose for good measure.

Giggling, she promises he doesn't. "Because if you do, then I look like an old woman with mine." She reaches down, retrieving her glasses case from her bag to show him that she, in fact, has a pair of black-rimmed glasses that she needs for reading as well. "And I refuse to believe that we are old. I may have some gray in my hair now, but that does not make us old."

Jamie smiles brightly, reaching across the table to cup her cheek briefly, thumb rubbing against her jawline. "Time doesna matter, Sassenach, ye will always be beautiful to me."

He says it so casually, letting his hand drop as if he didn't just spew one of the most romantic things a man has ever said to her before. As if he didn't just create a moment between them, he looks back at the picture with an air of ease about him. "This is Julia, eh? She's stunning… jus' like her ma."

She's stunned, knows she hasn't blinked since he touched her cheek because her eyes begin to sting. Claire shakes her head, the blush residing on her cheeks can't possibly get any deeper, yet she feels her skin heat as she looks down demurely, then back up to him. Wanting to focus back on Julia, she laughs, swatting at his arm playfully. She swallows thickly and informs him, "You're a flatterer, aren't you? But yes, this is her. She's seventeen now." She shakes her head in disbelief. "I can't believe I'm old enough to have a teenager already."

"Dinna fash, ye dinna look a day over eighteen." He winks, and the heat grows on her cheeks again.

Damn him. She doesn't think she'll ever not be blushing during this conversation.

Smiling, she looks down, showing him a few more photos of Julia, telling him how smart she is and how she's going to be attending Harvard after graduation.

"Smart like her mother, too, I see."

Claire chuckles, but nods, before locking her phone and putting it away.

"I have a son," Jamie announces, and Claire beams, sitting up taller. "His name's Fergus. I adopted him about ten years ago when he was eleven."

"Are you married?" Her stomach drops at the thought, she hadn't seen a ring on his hand, but Christ, it's been twenty years. She wouldn't be surprised if he was.

She wants to slink away at how desperate she sounds asking that, suddenly realizing there's a voice in the back of her mind screaming, please, God, be single!

Jamie laughs softly, pulling out his phone. "Nae, I was," he confesses. "But it didna work out. Laoghaire was much more interested in my family's money than she was me, so…" he shrugs, not seeming bothered in the least bit. "We divorced a year after being wed, God, almost fifteen years ago. Havena found another lass since that I'd consider marrying, not…" His eyes widen and he trails off, shaking his head as if stopping himself from admitting something he shouldn't. She bites her lip, knowing, hoping, anyway, that he was thinking the same thing as she has all these years: No one could live up to what they had.

Clearing his throat, and breaking the growing tension, Jamie chuckles again, saying, "So now here I am, stuck with a twenty-one year old that thinks he's ready to get marrit!"

He turns his phone around, pride shining in his eyes as he shows her pictures of a dark, curly-haired boy, tall and slender but with the kindest smile she's ever seen. "He's very handsome. Just like his father."

She winks dramatically, showing him two can play this game, but she can't help the little snort that comes out when he informs her dryly, "Good looks can't rub off on someone, Sassenach, the looks come from his biological parents," before joining her in laughter.

Still chuckling, Jamie flips to the next photo, one of the young man on the beach with Jamie.

Fuck.

Jamie is shirtless in the photo, of course, they're at the beach, but good lord, the man has only gotten better with age. His chest is broad and strong, much more in shape than most thirty-eight year old men she's seen.

Granted, she's only dated a few men over the last few years, so she doesn't have much to go on, but surely this isn't the norm.

"Aye, an' he kens it, too!" Jamie chortles, swiping to another photograph of Fergus with a blonde girl. "This is Marsali, bless it all. She's eighteen and already prepared to marry the damned fool."

Claire laughs, but knows deep down she understands that feeling. Would have married Jamie in a heartbeat back then and never looked back.

"I ken back when we were eighteen, we thought we could handle marriage," he says, that sheepish smile back on his lips, "but now that I've raised th' boy, I canna imagine him married at twenty-one! Let alone Marsali at eighteen!"

She chuckles, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, we sound just like Uncle Lamb."

Jamie barks out a laugh, clearly remembering all the times Uncle Lamb forbade the two of them to run off and get married like he could see in their eyes they wanted to do. "How is Uncle Lamb?"

"Good," she breathes, taking a sip of her now cold coffee. She checks the time, knowing they're on borrowed time now as she has to get going soon. Should already be there, really. "He's slowed down in his old age, obviously," she chuckles, rolling her eyes good naturedly, "but you know to Lamb, that just means he goes on three excavations a year instead of his usual five or six."

Jamie guffaws, saying how much that sounds like good ol' Uncle Lamb.

They grow quiet for a moment, Claire sipping her coffee.

After a few moments of peaceful silence, both silently trailing their eyes over one another, Jamie takes her hand again, making those butterflies in her stomach flutter all over again.

It should feel strange, holding his hand like this, but for some reason, it feels like it's the most natural thing in the whole world.

She lets her thumb lightly graze the back of his hand as they spend the next little bit catching up even more, reminiscing about their life together all those years ago. Talking about friends they had and which one's they've kept in touch with, laughing about the pranks Jamie and their other guy friends had pulled on the principal so many times.

"It's a miracle you never got suspended," she titters, shoulders shaking in mirth.

"Och," Jamie scoffs, waving her off. "We didna ever get caught. And ye ken jus' as well as I do that Mr. Dunson loved us."

His eyes are alight with humor as if he can see their principal's reaction right in front of him, and she laughs, letting him enjoy the memory.

They fill in some of the gaps from the last twenty years, talking more about their children and careers. But after a while, with a heavy sigh, Claire lets go of the hand Jamie is still holding. She clicks on her phone screen to check the time, shoulders slumping when she sees how late it's gotten.

Nodding toward her phone, Jamie asks timidly, "D'ye need to be somewhere?"

Looking towards him with apologetic eyes, she sighs. "Unfortunately." She grins. "I'm giving a seminar this morning at the annual neurosurgeon's conference, and I should've been there five minutes ago to prepare."

"Christ, Sassenach!" he says, jumping from his chair. "Why didn't ye say anything?"

Giggling, she admits, "I wanted to catch up with you. And I'm rather nervous, if I'm being honest. I was trying to avoid it at all costs."

"Och," he scoffs, waving her off. "Ye're the smartest lass I ken, always have been. Ye'll do great!"

Her heart warms at his unyielding confidence in her, even after all this time.

"Well, thank you, but it's been twenty years since you last saw me, I could be a horrible person, for all you know, and an even worse doctor."

"Nah," he breathes, shrugging a shoulder. "Ye were the only Sassenach I kent at eighteen that already acted like a fully grown adult. Ye kent what ye wanted to do in life, and I always kent ye'd achieve that dream." He smiles, taking her hand to help her stand from the table. "I have no doubt in my mind that ye're going to have the best seminar out of anyone there."

She chuckles, a blush creeping over the skin as the warmth from his hand seems to settle the nerves floating in her stomach once again.

Sighing, Claire relinquishes her grip on his hand and grabs her still uneaten scone. "Well, then," she hesitates, not ready to say goodbye. "I guess I should be going."

"Let me drive you."

"Jamie, I," she starts to protest, but he holds up his hand, saying he won't take no for an answer. "You didn't even get whatever you came here for," she retorts, pointing behind her to the coffee shop.

He shrugs once more, waving it off. "I was just getting some snacks fer my employees. I can always come back. Rupert and Angus especially will be happy for free food no matter what time it shows up."

"Your cousins?" she asks with a smile, remembering the boisterous phone calls she'd taken part in where she got to speak with the wild cousins across the pond.

"Aye," he responds, shaking his head with a smile. "Still jus' as crazy as ye probably remember. They joined my team a few years back."

Huffing out a laugh, she concedes to the free ride, "Well then, lead the way."

His face lights up so brightly that she thinks it could generate the whole city's electricity, and she grins right back, following him, side by side, to his car.

The ride isn't long. The conference hall isn't far; she could have walked, honestly, but it's nice to have this extra time with him. They laugh and catch up in the five minutes it takes to get there, Claire feeling more at ease than she has in a long time.

Jamie parks the car, both sitting idly by, neither clearly wanting to move.

With a quiet sigh, she checks her phone when it pings. It's a text message from her co-worker and best friend, Joe, checking to see where she is. He's giving a seminar right after her, and they'd promised to run through their speeches together.

"I really do have to go, but—"

"Would ye like to have dinner tonight?" Jamie asks, cutting off her thought.

He blushes, but she giggles breathily, agreeing. "Dinner would be lovely."

She hands him her phone, instructing him to put his number in. As soon as he does, she sends him a text so that he can store her number as well.

He swallows thickly, shoulders slumping when her phone pings again. "Dr. Beauchamp is in high demand, I see."

She grins, but nods, reaching for the door handle.

When she emerges from the car, Jamie is already there, and she snickers under her breath at how he must've dodged around the car to beat her there.

"I ken we havena seen each other in a verra long time, but…" he stops, chewing on his lip. "I… I would verra much like to hug ye. May I?"

She feels as if her insides are melting at how sweet he looks asking, and honestly between all the hand holding and the way he'd rubbed his foot along hers earlier, a hug is the least of what she's ready to do with him.

This morning has been so wonderful, and seeing him, catching up, feels like no time has gone by when in reality, a lifetime has.

They're parents now, both divorced. They've lived two entire decades apart, yet she feels like this is where she was always meant to be.

Inhaling deeply, she sighs out shakily, "Yes," before blinking away the tears she hadn't realized were in her eyes.

His blue eyes are misted over as well as he steps closer, his large arms enveloping her into his chest.

He takes a deep breath, whispering, "I havena done this in a verra long time," and they both awkwardly chuckle into each other's spaces.

"What, hug someone?" she asks, hand resting on his strong shoulder blades and her voice muffled in his large pecs.

He pulls back, just a hair, to grin down at her and roll his eyes playfully. "Hug you, I mean, ye wee besom. Ye ken what I meant."

She smiles mischievously, running her hands down his back and wrapping her arms tighter around his middle as she soaks up all the warm, strong, muscled chest she can while she's here.

God, she's a grown woman. She's almost forty, she should not be this affected by a single damn hug. But, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, it feels amazing. No one could ever compare to the feeling she has when she's with James Fraser, no matter how much time has gone by.

She sighs into the embrace, leaning up on her tiptoes to get as close as possible, her nose practically nuzzling into his neck. She can smell his cologne, and she thinks for a moment that blowing off the conference to stand here and smell this man for the rest of the day might just be the best idea she's had in a while.

His arms tighten, and he sways them a bit. She can feel his chest rumble against hers when he admits, "I dinna want tae let ye go."

She bites her lip, eyes instantly wet as she realizes she doesn't want to let him go either. "Well, you have my number," she reminds, squeezing around his middle for good measure.

"For God's sake, Claire!" they hear bellowed from a few feet away.

They break apart, long before either was ready, and Claire whips around, wrapping her arms around herself as she sees Joe running toward her. "I thought you were dead on the side of the—oh, hello," he purrs, grinning like a cat who got the cream and reaching out a hand toward Jamie. "I'm Joe Abernathy, Claire's work husband."

She rolls her eyes, but smirks, shyly introducing the two. "Joe, this is Jamie Fraser. He, uh, well… we dated back in high school."

"Ohhh," Joe drawls, and Claire could kill him, will kill him, because he adds slyly, "I've heard of the great and wonderful James Fraser before. Nice to finally meet you!"

Her face has to be completely red by now, she can feel it, especially when she locks eyes with Jamie and he's biting down so hard on the inside of his cheek that she just knows he's probably drawing blood to keep from laughing.

Fuck. This is so embarrassing.

"Nice to meet ye, too, Joe," Jamie says, shaking his hand. "Are ye giving a presentation today as well?"

Joe nods, saying he is, and that he needs to get in there to prepare. "It was really nice meeting you, though. And Claire, I don't want to rush you," he adds with a grimace, tapping his watch, "but you only have thirty minutes before you're up."

Shit.

Her eyes widen, but she nods, watching as Joe dashes away with a grin on his face, yelling from a distance, "I'll wait for you backstage!"

She waves in Joe's direction before catching Jamie's gaze, shoulders falling as she realizes their time is officially up.

"Ye better get inside, then, Sassenach."

"I know," she breathes, another giddy smile growing. "I just don't want to. Not yet."

He smiles right back, and says he understands the feeling. "Call me tonight when ye get done, and we'll get that dinner ye promised."

With that, he leans in, kissing her cheek before walking to the driver's side of the car. "Knock 'em dead, mo nighean donn," he adds with a wink before sliding into his car.

God, mo nighean donn, she never thought she'd hear that name ever again, and her heart swells at the sound of it.

She glances behind her at the scone still wrapped up and in the seat. Guess she won't eat before this presentation, after all. "Keep the scone, at least Rupert and Angus can enjoy it!"

"They'll be fighting all morning over who gets th' bigger piece, I hope ye ken that!"

"Tell me all about it at dinner tonight!" she calls before waving one last time and darting off toward the building.

Knowing she's officially out of time to really prepare, Claire floats into the conference hall and finds her stage.

She meets Joe backstage, his eyebrows bouncing playfully as he asks about Jamie.

Blushing, she whispers that she'll tell him all about her morning after their seminars. Joe takes her hand, squeezing reassuringly and smiles as he kisses her on the cheek and wishes her luck on her speech. She tugs on her suit jacket and runs a hand over invisible wrinkles, and when her name is called, she puts on a bright smile as she walks onto the stage, all the while, thoughts of James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, drift through her mind, bringing her the peace she needs to get through her speech.

After an hour long presentation, then an hour of Joe's, and another four hours of peeping into other seminars and mingling with some of the greatest surgeons around the world, some whom she's studied and looked up to for years, Claire heads to her hotel room (not before a hefty amount of teasing from Joe, of course).

The black pantsuit and matching black blouse she'd worn all day were perfectly acceptable for a conference, but now, knowing she'd see Jamie again, she wanted to be more casual and less business-like.

It's almost five by now, so she takes her time washing her face and reapplying her makeup to be a bit sexier for dinner. She does a slightly smoky eye and finishes it off with a matte red lip.

Claire spends some time rummaging through the clothes she'd brought, knowing she didn't pack anything particularly great for a date with the man she was in love with twenty years ago, but knowing Jamie, he wouldn't care if she showed up in a brown paper sack. He'd still make her feel as if she was the most gorgeous creature to ever grace his line of vision.

She's got casual clothes, jeans and some cute tops she planned to wear sightseeing. But… she does have some backup options she brought for the seminars.

So, with that in mind, she slips into a pair of black leggings, a black leather skirt and a maroon top she'd just bought last week that has ruffles on the shoulders of the sleeves. She throws on a pair of black booties to finish off the look, and decides with the cool night time weather here in Scotland, it would be perfect with her jacket later. She runs her fingers through her hair to loosen her curls a bit before plopping down onto the freshly made hotel bed.

She's nervous, maybe even more so than she'd been earlier today to give her speech.

Memories of the past flood her mind, the good and the bad, and she weighs her options. Should she really call him, or did she just get ready for nothing?

She sighs, smiling to herself as she thinks over today, of the way he'd smiled at her, the way he'd made her stomach twist in knots. There was still so much chemistry between them, and she'd be an idiot not to at least have dinner while she was in town.

She has two more days of the conference, then two days to sightsee before heading home. What is the worst that could happen?

Biting down on her lip, she picks up her phone and clicks his name.

She waits a beat, one, two, three rings, before the other end picks up. "Sassenach?"

"Hi, Jamie…"

{********************************}

End (maybe? lol)

Thanks so much for reading! I originally planned for this to just be a one shot but someone asked me if I was going to turn it into a multi-chapter fic, which got me thinking… and planning… lol so if you'd be interested in seeing more of these two, let me know! And, like always, please review! :)