A new AU that I’ve been creating. I hope you enjoy.
“Where’s the body now?”
“In the morgue already, Detective Sergeant.”
“It’s been moved from the crime scene already? What’s the damn hurry?” he inquired from the constable in front of him. The young man just shrugged. How in the hell was he supposed to deal with a crime scene when the body was missing? How was he supposed to gather evidence in relation to the victim if that vital piece of the puzzle was missing? James threw up his hands, and left.
Detective Sergeant James Fraser was seriously considering an early retirement. The job was wearing on him. Every day the same thing. Murder. Mayhem. Liars. Drug Addicts. Runaways.
The perpetrators seemed to get younger and younger. Which was a peculiar thing for him to think since he was only in his 30s. James had joined Scotland Yard at 23. He rose quickly through the ranks with his clever mind, and a work ethic that rivaled men many years his senior. He was single, which was fine. So far the couple of girlfriends he’d had couldn’t handle his job. They hated his hours, the way he detached himself from society in order to stay sane. He took to the outdoors to clear his mind. He left London every chance he could to hike the countryside, sometimes taking nothing but his grandfather’s plaid as a blanket, a backpack of food, and a small tent.
James was a Highlander, born and bred. He was often teased about his broad Scots accent at the precinct, but he didn’t care. They could say what they wanted about his speech, they couldn’t deny his skill as an investigator.
Which was another reason why he was considering early retirement. Most days he was surrounded by incompetence.
And right now he needed to pay a visit to the new medical examiner in order to ascertain why protocol had been abandoned.
Dr. Randall was not yet satisfied with her new digs. The old Examiner kept a very shoddy house. The Morgue had been a mess. Files in disarray, and improperly managed. Some notes were illegible, and nothing in the drawers were grouped in any sort of order, that she could see. The instruments were scarce, some rusted.
She made an inventory of what she needed. She contacted the cleaning staff and had them come to the Morgue immediately to scrub it and make it worthy of the medical facility it was.
She liked being a Medical Examiner. It was a solitary profession. Quiet. Simple. No more losing patients, facing loved ones with the news. But beyond that, being an M.E. afforded her the reclusiveness she craved. No one to give her dirty or inquisitive looks. No one to gossip about her personal or professional life. Here she could hide her talents.
Talent as a doctor.
Talent as an intuitive.
She got tired of the “how did she know that?” questions that plagued her over the years when working in a hospital in Boston. She’d gotten better at holding her visions inside until she could find the medical evidence and precedent needed from other cases to support them. But as an M.E. she could be herself with no one to see her.
Now, with her husband dead, she had moved back to London to start over. A new life. A life in which she wasn’t cheated on, or made to “play nice” with boring, stuffy academics. A life where “keeping up appearances” could go straight to hell. She wasn’t the meek and obedient type, which was what Frank had wanted. She’d married far too young. Married too long to an intolerant man.
The only men she wanted to spend time with now were cold on a slab in front of her.
She walked over to the morgue’s refrigerator, and pulled open the only occupied drawer. The body needed to be examined, but she had to set up a few things first.
She closed the drawer, and turned to walk away when the double doors to the morgue were flung open. She registered five things.
Tall. Red headed. Broad shouldered. Handsome as the devil.
This fic idea was just floating around in my head for a while and I finally wrote it. It will probably be around four or five parts. Let me know what you think!
Part 1 // Maybe it’s You and Me? //
The museum was busy for a weekday, Claire thought. She would
know as she visited the museum at least once a month one her days off from the hospital. People bustled around her
in hushed whispers around the gallery, gazing at the art hanging on the walls.
Claire stood back from the cluster of people, readjusting her
sunglasses on the top of her head and squinting as the small text box next to the painting
instructed to do. Art was one of her favorite things, though she had no
creative ability whatsoever. Science was more her style, but that didn’t mean
she couldn’t spend her days admiring others’ labor of love.
Museums were quiet and evoked a sort of peace in her, she
had found. In contrast to the hectic ER, the museum juxtaposed the energy in
her professional life. She would get lost in a gallery, tracing the footsteps
of others and observing the other guests as much as the art on display.
Having been through all galleries three times, she decided
it was time for coffee. Black and strong. It was a treat she always looked forward to at the end of her visit. A nice place in the museum café, looking out at the
streets with a book for the next few hours.
She walked down the corridor leading to the main lobby of
the museum, pulling out her phone and glancing at the lock screen.
Just landed. Talk to
She typed out a quick response and pocketed the phone again.
Frank was on a trip to London for the weekend. He usually came along to museums
with her, though he preferred the historical museums more than the modern.
They had been dating for the past three years, and a little
part of Claire loathed to admit that she preferred going to the museum without
She loved Frank. She really did. He took care of her and
loved her, but Claire couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. Or was
she being unrealistic? They had a solid love, a comfortable partnership. Dependable. Frank
had mentioned marriage more than once, he being eight years older than her 28
years. He was ready, but she wasn’t.
Sighing, she glanced around the small café at the seats available
and sighed again when there was a man in a beanie sitting in her usual spot. She shrugged her jacket tight around her in frustration and moved to grab her coffee, all the while glaring at the face hidden in their laptop.
Grumbling to herself, she sat her purse on the table behind
her usual, hoping the man would leave soon so she could snag it. Her spot had the perfect natural lighting for
reading and the one she currently sat at was uncomfortably close to the rubbish
Cracking open her book, she began to lose herself once more
in “Wuthering Heights” and sipped her hot coffee.
Immersed in the world of Catherine and Heathcliff, she
neglected to notice her phone buzzing until it rang for probably the third
JAMIE FRASER flashed on her screen with the photo of them
together on the estate of his family’s home. She loved that picture. Faces
pressed together, smiles on their faces from the crazy wind whipping their hair
around, and the green valley in the background.
Quickly, she tapped the screen and held the phone up to her
“I was beginning to think ye were ignoring me.”
The sound of his voice made a ridiculous smile spread on her
face and her toes curl.
“No, not ignoring you. I was reading and didn’t hear the
phone,” she laughed. “What’s up?”
“Can’t a guy call his best friend?”
“Oh, I’m your best friend? I thought that was Ian?”
He laughed. She missed his laugh. “Ian’s my brother-in-law.
It doesn’t count.” He paused for a moment, “What are you doing?”
She glanced up and noticed the the man had left and her
table was vacant. Scrambling, she put the phone into the crook of her neck and
gathering her purse, coffee and book. “Just reading a little. Boring, you know
Triumphantly, she deposited her stuff on the table and
sighed as she sat down, settling in for another long haul. “What, are you coming home from the gym?”
He liked to call her on his way home after a work out to
pass the time and chat. Though, it was usually a lot earlier where he was. Time differences were a bitch.
“No. I’m rather annoyed though,” despite the statement, she
could hear him smiling.
“Oh, about what?” She inquired, taking a sip of her now cold
“This girl just stole my table,” he said with a huff.
She almost dropped her cup. Without being obvious, she
tried to scan the room. He’s not here, you’re being ridiculous, she thought to
herself, but still, her eyes searched.
“Well, go steal it back,” she said, a little breathless. She
hoped he didn’t hear it.
“Alright,” he laughed and simultaneously, she felt two hands
clamp onto her shoulders. The familiar feel of them meant she didn’t need to check, so she turned and threw herself into his arms.
He hummed into her hair, “Well, hello there,” he chucked,
wrapping his arms around her tight. She remembered how they felt when he held
her against his chest and when he carried her in his arms, and when he pinned
her down to the be–
“Happy to see me?” He interrupted her memories while
stepping back to look at her.
“Of course, but why aren’t you in America?”
She took a step back from his embrace with regret. His denim
jacket smelled like heaven and she wanted to breath in the scent all day until she got drunk off it.
“I just came for a visit. I’m heading to Lallybroch in a few
days, but I wanted to see you.”
An ear-to-ear smile spread on her face and she felt it flush. He smirked and wrapped an arm around her, grabbing her stuff off the
table and leading her towards the exit.
“Let’s go,” he said, his nose accidentally grazing her
Gathering her thoughts, she made a few inches of space between their bodies, shrugging out of his arm. Don’t get close, her brain warned. Not again. You won’t recover a second time.
~Five Years Earlier~
Tonight, the sky was lit with a smattering of stars that illuminated
the walk to the pub. The inside glowed like a snow globe, a little
bubble from the harsh Scottish weather. It would be cozy inside with multiple
fires burning and some good company.
It was Jamie’s 23rd birthday tonight and she was here was to help him ring in the new year of life, along with a few other
close friends from uni. It was also a premature goodbye party as graduation was
approaching fast and soon they would go their separate ways into the real
As she walked in, rubbing her gloved hands together and
sighing from the sudden embrace of warmth, she immediately felt eyes on her. She
didn’t need to look around from hanging her scarf and coat up to know that it
was Jamie’s eyes looking at her. She always knew what his gaze felt like. A
spark of adrenaline, warmth and awareness was the recipe and she found it
They had met as freshman and were close ever since. There had been an attraction since the beginning, but nothing ever happened between them. He was
her best friend and vise versa, but he had had a high school sweetheart, Laoghaire,
and he had dated her the first two years of uni. When they broke up –which everyone
saw coming– Claire had already been dating André, a transfer student from
Spain. Their relationship was rocky at best and lasted the better part of last
year, but quickly ended after he moved back to Spain.
But now, since the first time they had met, they were both
single. Though, Claire felt sure that friends was all they were destined to be.
“Ah, there she is! And late, who would have thought?”
Smiling, she shook her head and butted her shoulder against
Jamie as she took the vacant stool next to him. “You’re lucky I came at all,
bastard. I do have an exam in two days.”
His eyes crinkled as he smiled at her, which made her heart
skip, and wrapped an arm tight around her. He poured her a beer from the
pitcher the table had been sharing and raised a glass towards her. “Now, WE
“Ayes” were exclaimed around the table, from Rupert, who had already
looked drunk to Gellis, who looked more than annoyed with him, to Angus,
Willie and a few other faces ready to get pissed as Rupert was putting it.
“Cheers, birthday boy,” she clicked her glass against his.
“Cheers,” he murmured, not taking his piercing blue eyes off
hers as he took a sip.
Warmth pooled in her belly, but she fought it away with a
gulp of cold beer and enjoyed the rest of the night without any feelings
“SHE WANTED ME, MAN! BERDAAAAA! COME TO ME!” Rupert stumbled
drunkenly while Jamie and Angus tried to shuffle his huge body into a cab.
“She didna want ye, Rup,” Jamie struggle to say under his
weight. “She just wanted ye to leave her be. Yer drunk, man. You’re going home.”
Rupert glared at him while Angus got in the cab and pulled
on him with all his might. Between Jamie’s shoving and Angus’ pulling, Rupert
finally managed to get himself in.
Right before Jamie shut the door, Rupert pulled on his collar
while looking at me with a cocked eyebrow and whispered something to Jamie that
made him turn bright red.
Glancing away nervously, she pulled out her phone and
pretended to type something out while the door closed and started to drive
“Do ye want me to call you one, Sassenach?”
“Um,” she glanced up at him as he looked down at her. Damn
that poker face. She could never tell what he was thinking, but she hoped that
he couldn’t see through her glass face at that moment.
The wind whipped around them, chilly for May. She didn’t
want the night to end, to not see him again until next week after finals were
over. And then what? Where would they be?
Time seemed to be slipping away too fast for her to catch it
and it made her palms sweaty and her heart race.
He moved a step closer to her to block the wind while she
decided what to do next. She wasn’t drunk enough to say anything rash, but
maybe had just enough buzz to do something daring.
He rubbed a hand down her sweater to warm her. A friendly
gesture. Did he only see her as a friend?
Well, if he rejected her, she could just joke it off as her
having to much to drink tomorrow. Or she felt bad he had no one to kiss on his
“Claire, do you want me to –”
She cut off his question with her lips.
He jumped slightly as if the feel of her kiss was the last
thing he ever expected, ever imagined in that moment. He was motionless underneath
her hands. Still as a statue.
Gently, she released his top lip with the upmost reluctance,
stepping down and looking at his unreadable face.
She knew he could read her own face in that moment. Her eyes
were wide and lips parted still. She licked her bottom lip and his eyes watched the motion like a hawk.
Taking a step back even further, she pushed the hair from her
face and looked down at her feet.
“You don’t have to say anything, Jamie. I’m sorry,” she
stuttered and fumbled for her phone in her pocket while he still gawked at her.
“I’ll just,” she motioned back to the bar. “I’ll call a cab.”
She turned sharply and wondered if she should stumble to
make it seem like she was drunk for her alibi tomorrow.
“Oh my god,” she muttered under her breath, watching it form
a cloud in front of her. Caught up in her own humiliation, she didn’t hear his
footsteps until she felt his touch.
Before she realized what had happened, she found herself
against the cold brick of the bar, out of sight, in the dark with Jamie’s lips
pressed urgently against hers.
Gasping into his mouth, she did nothing as one arm snaked
around her waist to pull her body tight against his. She felt his other hand
weave into her hair, pushing her beanie off and gripped her hard. Her own hands
dangled at her side as his lips and tongue urged her mouth open to him.
He pulled back to look at her, gasping for breath as if he
had just run a marathon. His lips were red and swollen from her kisses, a curl
of red dangled in front of his face and his eyes were heartbreakingly blue. The
earlier mask was gone and all she saw was urgent hope. She had never seen him
“Are you drunk?” He asked, looking carefully into her eyes.
“No, are you?”
“No,” he whispered, brushing a strand of hair away from her
face, then cupping her cheek in his palm.
They starred at each other for a long beat, both unaware of
what to do next.
It’s time to be brave, Beauchamp.
She licked her lips again and took a deep breath. “Maybe you
can call that cab?”
He stared at her for a moment and then his eyes flickered
away from her as he shuffled his feet.
“Ok,” he cleared his throat and patted his pocket for his
phone, eyebrows drawn together in either confusion or disappointment. Maybe both.
She smiled a little and snagged a finger into one of his belt
loops, pulling him back against her. He jerked in surprise and look at her like
she was a puzzle he couldn’t find the missing piece to.
for shifted could we please get jamie and claire fluff while she's pregnant?! (idk why but this is my favorite thing)
Shifted prompt! How about Jamie getting a gift for Claire and being
worried/shy about what she’ll think of it when he gives it to her.
Something sweet and sentimental, of course!
For the next few weeks I’ll be writing one-shots in the Shifted
universe, filling in the blanks that we don’t see in the main story,
before we resume the main action with Part 7 - The Visitor.
If there is a particular scene you’d like to see, send me an ask and I’ll see what I can do!
In Shifted, the premise is simple - what if Claire had gotten pregnant with
Brianna a month or two earlier in the story, and she and Jamie had
re-evaluated their priorities and decided that the cause was lost, and
they were able to slip away from the army and quietly return to
Jamie could hear her dreaming. The nightmares had
returned again – growing in intensity as their new bairn grew within her belly.
Sometimes it was the dream he had sent her back to Frank
– the same dream that had troubled her so when Brianna was a newborn.
Sometimes it was dreams of walking on a dark, quiet
Culloden Moor, wading through the bodies of fallen Highlanders – and then
finding him cold and dead.
And sometimes it was a dream full of redcoats – burning
the house, taking Brianna away, throwing
Jamie into prison. Taking away everything she held dear.
He couldn’t tell what it was tonight – only that she
would wake soon, and that she would need him to hold her, to listen to her, to
The temperature had dipped significantly in the past week
– and no amount of extra wood added to the fire could heat the room to his
satisfaction. Brianna was like him – impervious to the cold – and only relented
to sleeping in the same bed as two of her cousins after receiving orders from
her parents and Murtagh to do so.
Claire, on the other hand – her fine skin was exquisitely
sensitive, now that she carried the bairn.
In the circle of his arms, he felt her swallow – limbs tightening
as she awoke.
“Ssshh,” he whispered. “I’m here. Ye were dreaming
Slowly, slowly she rolled to face him – pressing the
bulge of her belly against him.
“Can you light the candle, please?” Her voice was raw,
rough, two hundred years away. “I need – I need to see you.”
Swiftly he kissed her forehead and turned on his side,
striking one of the clever matches Claire had made and then coaxing the small
flame to life.
He settled back against the pillow, meeting her tired
eyes, pulling the quilt closer around her shoulders.
“I shouldn’t have had that extra helping of mincemeat –
my stomach has been rolling all night.” Her whisky eyes glowed like a cat’s in
“Ach – it’s only Hogmanay once a year,” he smiled,
stroking her cheek with the back of his knuckles. “Ye’re entitled to celebrate
a bit. Lord knows we have plenty to be happy about in the new year.”
“I feel terrible that I didn’t even make it to midnight.
Some Fraser I am.”
“Then we have something to look forward to next time when
ye can hold our newest Fraser in yer arms to greet the new year.” He bopped the
tip of her nose with his thumb – eliciting the smile he craved.
The bairn moved against his belly.
His mother’s rosebush scratched against the window.
“Hold still,” he murmured – fixing the moment in his memory.
She humored him – eyes locked. Sharing.
He smiled then – so wide – and softly pulled back the
quilt, careful to keep her tightly wrapped up against the chill.
“Jamie? What – ”
He padded over to the fire, added a log, and then stooped
to rummage through the trunk against the far wall.
“It should be past midnight by now. I have something for
“Are ye saying ye dinna want a gift from yer husband?”
His voice was muffled – teasing.
She sat up against the headboard, hands spanning her
belly, soothing their now quite active bairn.
“He’s awake, too,” she murmured, meeting Jamie’s eyes as
he returned to bed. Smiling.
The feather mattress dipped beside her, and Jamie held
out one clenched fist.
“Give me yer hand, Sassenach.”
She lay her right hand – palm up – on the mattress. And
then felt a small bit of metal – warmed from Jamie’s hand – slide against her
Curious, she brought it closer to her eyes, squinting in
“Do ye need spectacles in yer auld age?” he whispered.
She ignored him – studying the worn but beautifully made
Silver – a bit tarnished – and old, but clearly
well-made. Circular – shaped like a wreath – with carefully incised flowers and
leaves. Stylized – figural and yet abstract. The work of a master craftsman.
“Jamie – I – ”
“It was my Da’s,” he whispered, reaching one tentative
finger to trace the smooth surface. “Mam gave it to him as a wedding gift – she
took it from her own father’s bedroom, at Leoch. My grandfather had had it made
in Edinburgh, you see – and Mam didna think he would miss it.”
He so rarely spoke of Ellen Fraser – or the family she
had so scandalously left behind – that Claire bit back her questions.
“When Mam met Da – it’s true they ran off together, that
night. But Mam was practical – she kent weel that she’d have to bring some
things wi’ her. So she had Murtagh help her prepare – he helped her gather a
wee bag of her possessions, because she also kent that she would never go back
Jamie lifted his eyes to meet Claire’s startled gaze. “Oh,
aye. He helped her escape wi’ my Da.”
Tears suddenly sprang to Claire’s eyes. “For he loved her
so much that he helped her sneak away with the man she chose.”
Jamie bent to kiss her cheek. “Aye. And then followed
behind, to witness their handfasting. Have I never told ye that before?”
She shook her head – but that was a story for another
time. “But how does this brooch fit in to the story?”
“Mam was busy packing her personal things – but she
realized she didna have anything to offer Da. So she asked Murtagh to find
something of her own father’s to give him.”
“How in the hell did he get into the Laird’s chamber? I
remember there were always men hanging about Colum’s room – ”
“Weel, in the auld days, they werena so careful – or else
they wouldna have let their prized daughter sneak away wi’ a selkie, now, would
She shook her head, amazed. “So Murtagh chose this?”
“Aye, he did. He knew my grandfather was wearing his best
brooch, with his plaid that night – so he picked the second best. And that’s
what Mam gave Da on their wedding night.”
“I guess I could make a joke about second best – ”
“Mam always did. But Da was just honored to have it. He
wore it wi’ his plaid every day when I was growing up. And now I want our son
to have it.”
Jamie splayed his hand over her belly – fingers tangling
with hers – delighting in their bairn’s acrobatics.
“You’re so sure it’s a boy?”
His fingers tightened in hers. “Aye. Ye are, too – so is
Brianna. And Jenny. And Mrs. Crook.”
Claire theatrically rolled her eyes. “Well then. That
*must* mean it is so, if so many Frasers are convinced.”
He pursed his lips, and swallowed. Thinking.
“I ken the lad will never be able to wear his plaid out
in the open – at least not while he’s a bairn, anyway. But I want him to learn
our traditions – learn the way things were. The way they should be.”
His eyes lighted on the floorboard under which they had
so lovingly stored their Fraser plaids in the dark days after passage of the
“The way it will be again, Jamie.”
His lips twisted in a wry half-smile. “Aye. Ye’d ken that
now, wouldn’t ye?”
Gently she lay the brooch on her bedside table, and
opened her arms.
He came, and rested so closely beside her – tangling his
legs in hers.
“Thank you,” she whispered after a long while. “I want
him to be raised as a true Fraser – in your own image, and with the memory of
his grandparents. Surrounded by love and family.”
He burrowed his face in her neck – inhaled the hair at
the base of her skull.
“I love you,” he whispered.
She held him close – as she would the baby, when it came.
“You are the breath in my body – my blood – my bone.”
She kissed the crown of his head.
“In this child – and in Brianna, Jamie – we are united.
We will live forever now, you and I. And your parents – and my parents – they continue.”
He shifted against her, burying his face under her chin.
“I need you.” His voice shyly vibrated against her
sensitive skin – so soft she felt it more than heard it.
She undid the neck
of her shift, and he opened the laces, and they softly, sweetly celebrated one
more year together.
We walked arm in arm down the cobbled slope of the Royal Mile at a quarter to five, suffused with a glow engendered by several bowls of well-peppered oyster stew and a bottle of wine, shared at intervals during our “private communications.” The city glowed all around us, as though sharing our happiness. Edinburgh lay under a haze that would soon thicken to rain again, but for now, the light of the setting sun hung gold and pink and red in the clouds, and shone in the wet patina of the cobbled street, so that the gray stones of the buildings softened and streamed with reflected light, echoing the glow that warmed my cheeks and shone in Jamie’s eyes when he looked at me.
“She always complained about her ears — said they stuck out,” I said, feeling the tears sting my eyes as Brianna came suddenly to life between us.
“They’re pierced. You don’t mind, do you?” I said, talking fast to keep the tears at bay. “Frank did; he said it looked cheap, and she shouldn’t, but she wanted to do it, and I let her, when she was sixteen. Mine were; it didn’t seem right to say she couldn’t when I did, and her friends all did, and I didn’t — didn’t want—”
“Ye were right,” he said, interrupting the flow of half-hysterical words. “Ye did fine,” he repeated, softly but firmly, holding me close. “Ye were a wonderful mother, I know it.”
I was crying again, quite soundlessly, shaking against him. He held me gently, stroking my back and murmuring. “Ye did well,” he kept saying. “Ye did right.” And after a little while, I stopped crying.
“Ye gave me a child, mo nighean donn,” he said softly, into the cloud of my hair. “We are together for always. She is safe; and we will live forever now, you and I.” He kissed me, very lightly, and laid his head upon the pillow next to me.
“Brianna,” he whispered, in that odd Highland way that made her name his own. He sighed deeply, and in an instant, was asleep. In another, I fell asleep myself, my last sight his wide, sweet mouth, relaxed in sleep, half-smiling.
Claire placidly munched her cereals – a bit
soggy for her taste – as she inspected the cover of The Scottish Sun, frowning in concentration. The evocative headline
occupied almost half of the front page, with a photo illustrating their cover
story – “Murrayfield Hero ready to go
home!”. The image – certainly captured by one of the first reporters at the
scene – showed Jamie wearing his full firefighter gear, walking out of what
seemed like the dooryard from Hell, carrying one of his men – probably
unconscious - on the shoulder. The article promised more details and juicy revelations
on page four (“From Broch Mordha to
Edinburgh’s hottest”), page five (“Other
legends on the Fire Department”) and page six (“The heartbreaking testimonies of Fraser’s braveness”).
“One would think that almost turning into
crisped bacon was the fastest route to stardom.” She snorted to herself, taking
a sip of rich and dark coffee. “I bet they are scavenging the Highlands for gossips
about Edinburgh’s new sweetheart.”
The last couple of weeks had seen an increasing
interest on Jamie’s persona by the media – the well-liked Station Officer with
an irreprehensible career, respected both by men under him and by the ones in
charge behind a desk; the lone wolf, by all reports divorced years ago, that
refused all approaches from desirable women and seemed to wear an irremovable
chastity belt; the loving son, who accompanied his crippled father until his
death two years ago; the hunk, spotted
working out without his shirt on, delighting all women in the headquarters’
Claire tried to avoid every conversation that
contained even the slightest mention of Jamie – a considerable feat, since even
the nurses continuously buzzed about how handsome and well-mannered he was.
After his shattering revelations – which had
thrown Claire into a new spell of insomnia, which she used to get her charts up
to speed – their conversations had consisted mainly of monosyllables and
medical exchanges. She would check his drains; he would ask about a prevision
to start physical therapy on his hand. She looked for signs of infection on his
surgical wounds; he told her his pain was a four on a scale of one to ten. She
compressed her lips, trying to avoid screaming at him; he said nothing,
accepting her radioactive silence with the hopeless patience of a convict
sentenced to imprisonment for the rest of his days.
Claire knew he was trying to give her time to
process their conversation, before touching the subject again. His Fraser
stubbornness, usually despairing, was serving him well in that instance.
Knowing his reasons had changed the starting
point of their fallout – but not the outcome. He had tried to protect her and
give her the life she was meant to live – and in that harrowing attempt, had
failed to comprehend that, without him, every achievement felt void of its
meaning. Jamie had used lies as a gift – and the unwrapping had broken both
their hearts. Where once stood sadness and incomprehension, now rested anger
and betrayal, pumping from her with every heartbeat, crushing her vessels with
But the most unbearable pain, the one that kept
her awake at night, was the undeniable desire to forget it all – to take him in
her arms and cradle him against her repairing heart. To kiss him and feel him
melting against her – to bite his lip and taste his blood, knowing it pulsed
with her name. To hear him whisper his secrets and the truth in them.
“Bloody man.” She whispered, her fingers
reluctantly caressing his picture. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Thank ye for taking me.” He repeated for what
was probably the tenth time. “The lads were supposed to get me but they’re
shorthanded as it is in the department.”
“No problem.” She replied shortly, driving
through Edinburgh’s streets, immersed in the evanescent light of dusk. Claire
had offered to take him home after his discharge from the hospital, using the
employee entrance to avoid the questions and flashes of journalists. “At least
this way I know you won’t do anything stupid with your hand, until you’re
actually inside the house.”
“Hm.” He snorted with mirth, looking at his
still- bandaged hand. “I’m just glad I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, without
anyone waking me to ask if my bowels moved already or spooked by the beeping
sounds of the wee machines.”
“Which way now?” Claire asked, softly tapping
the steering wheel with her fingers, as they achieved a deserted crossroad.
“Left.” Jamie gave her a renitent half-smile.
“Ye’ll keen the way from here, I suppose.”
“Yes.” Claire breathed out, a tight knot
forming inside her throat. “I believe I do.”
The building of their old apartment was visible
down the street, looking exactly as she remembered it – the earthy tones of the
façade vivid, that used to remind her of the soil of her flowers, fertile and
homely. Propelled by the sight, memories came rushing back, as if they had been
expecting to be summoned just in the corners of her conscience, brutal as
needles in the back of her eyes.
“I received half of the money when the
apartment was sold.” She blurted incredulous, blinking furiously in the
half-light. “The man who bought it was someone named Angus MacKenzie.”
“He is a friend.” Jamie said softly. “He sold
it back to me as soon as the deal was done.”
“Why would you want to live in this place?”
Claire asked nervously, brushing back some of her curls, which had been falling
over her face. “After everything that happened?”
“You were still here.” He whispered in a hoarse
voice. “In a sense. The mattress of our bed had the shape of your body carved.
There was the wee spot on the kitchen’s wall, were tomato sauce spilled,
because we were too busy making love on the floor. The curtains ye chose,
because ye never had such a house before, and a true home needed proper curtains.” Jamie looked at her,
his eyes soft. “This house is everything I had left of ye, Claire. I couldna
“You should have burnt it.” Claire hissed,
fighting back the surge of emotions that made her vulnerable to his words.
I don’t want you
I loved you well.
She parked the car in silence and helped him
getting out, prescinding of the assertive tenderness she usually applied to
every wounded creature. They slowly climbed up the stairs – the elevator being
broken again – until the third floor,
the former residence of a happy newlywed couple.
Jamie opened the door with his keys – he still
used the same keychain, Claire noticed, of a leaping stag shaped in silver. She
had offered it to him, on their first Christmas together.
“I need to use the bathroom.” He smiled shyly. “I’ll
be right back, aye?” And without waiting for her agreement, he rapidly strode
out of her sight, as if to avoid that she used the opportunity to say her final
The living room was almost precisely the same –
photographs taken more than ten years apart would only show small changes, like
a different elegant cream-coloured rug and a new lamp by the corner. Everything
else seemed to have been caught in the webs of time, as an insect amid flight trapped
by a predatory spider.
Claire’s eyes travelled across the tomes on the
bookcase – where some new volumes had been added to Jamie’s impressive collection,
sleeping next to their photographs – and her eyes were attracted by a drawer’s
open crack. Feeling ashamed, but somewhat entitled, she slid it open until the full
compartment was exposed.
With her hands shaking, she grabbed the
magazine on top of the pile – an old issue of The American Journal of Medicine. She recognized it instantly – she
also had a copy of that same issue, stored in one of her boxes since the move.
Abandoning any attempt at discretion, she surveyed the contents of the drawer.
Jamie seemed to have found every publication
where her name came up – from obscure magazines where her name had been cited
after another dozen; to the most reputed surgical journals, with her articles
and findings front and centre. It must have been a constant and tiresome job,
keeping up with her career, for someone not even in the medical field.
How many hours had he laid there, only their
ghosts for company, the consolation of her success a bittersweet drug to numb
All those days between what they had been and
what they were now, forever lost – no regret or anger would win them the right
of a replay. But perhaps they still had the chance of stealing tomorrow; of
reclaiming the piece of themselves left behind, placing their stones and pillars
to build a new sacred place, a new life.
“In my darkest moments, it helped.” She
listened his deep voice say from where he stood by the door, his eyes secluded.
“Knowing that what I did had some meaning. I celebrated each one of yer
victories from afar, as I couldna be kissing ye as I wished.”
“It was your choice.” Claire replied, forcibly closing
“Aye.” Jamie said, his shoulders slumped in
defeat. “I told ye – I dinna regret what
I did. But I do regret every tear you shed and every unhappiness I may have
caused ye. That I regret…most
“If I hadn’t come back and found you by accident…”
She said, her arms hugging her body in defence. “Would you ever tell me the
He tilted his head, his auburn hair coming
alive with the slight reflection of the white glow outside. Jamie walked until
he was closer to her - able to touch her in an instant, if it wasn’t for the
barrier they had both fought so hard to erect.
“There was a time when I thought it a blessing
to know what ye were thinking at all times.” He licked his lips and closed his
eyes, his long lashes shielding bottomless blue. “My glass faced lass. Now I only see yer pain and yer hate - and it
kills me. I’d rather be dead than to see ye so. No – I wouldna say a thing. I
wished to let ye live yer life and, hopefully, forget me.”
“How could I forget you?” She whispered. “And
how can I forgive you?”
“I’m prepared to wait as long as it takes,
Claire.” Jamie swallowed hard. “And if it canna be in this life, I shall pray
for a chance to meet ye again in the next - and find yer forgiveness there.”
know how to start.” Claire brushed her forehead with her fingers, breathing
fast. “I don’t know what to say to you.”
“Tell me how I’ve hurt ye.” Jamie slowly
touched her hand. “Speak to me about what has been broken. I am still the man
ye loved – and what ye dinna ken about me now, you can learn in time.”
“And if I don’t want to?” She said slowly, tilting
her chin to avoid his scorching gaze.
“Then know I shall love ye forever.” Jamie
brushed her knuckles with the fingers of his sane hand. “Ye are my home, mo nighean donn.”
“This home is lost, Jamie.” She sobbed, the pressure of his fingers making her
flesh tingle. How many times had they stood there, him whispering his love, her
believing it with all her heart?
They were bathed almost in complete darkness –
night had fallen outside and the scarce light that came from the lamppost by
the window dipped them in shadows. Jamie swished, as if he was about to fall on
his knees – but his hand came up then and he touched her cheek, insecure and
“But it can be found again.” He softly kissed
her forehead, real against the absence of light surrounding them. “Find me, Claire. Find us.”
Claire tossed the newspaper aside, sighing in frustration.
Joe had stuffed the copy in her locker, attached to a Post-It with a question mark and a heart drawn on it. It was a daily gossip rag, featuring a picture snapped at the restaurant before Christmas. Jamie was featured at an angle, smiling at Claire, and then a smaller picture beneath that showing Claire’s face for all to see.
The article labeled Claire as Jamie’s new squeeze (God, who even used that word?) and included accurate details of her work and past. She guessed it wasn’t that hard to Google. She ran a hand through her curls, and with the other clutched at the chain around her neck until she touched the ruby ring, for comfort.
She felt her privacy had been invaded, obviously, but also that protective bubble they had formed around them, separate from Jamie Fraser the rock star. This was reality seeping in. It was relatively harmless, but still…
The room was dark; a faraway streetlight cast a glow through the window so their features were faintly outlined. Jamie gave a brief laugh, and his hand never stopped tracing patterns on her back.
“I ken how ye feel. On the one hand, I would like nothing more than to stay wi’ ye. On the other, there’s the second thing l love most – music.”
“The second, huh?” Claire kissed his shoulder and snuggled in closer.
“The writing, composing, working with my mates… it’s such a part of who I am. I’m blessed many times over.”
Claire made a small noise of agreement and held him closer to her. There had been a couple more pictures Claire and Jamie walking around London. She had taken to wearing thick woolly scarves to wrap around the lower half of her face, obscuring most of it from view of the constant, clicking paparazzi.
Her flat and Jamie’s had become a sanctuary away from curious eyes who sometimes believed that because Jamie was a public figure, they were entitled to touch and scream at him. And that because Claire was dating him and therefore ‘hers’, she deserved vitriol and hatred.
Was he worth it too? The small inconveniences? Joe had had hospital security escort her as she left work. She plainly ignored the photographers who regularly camped outside her building. She refused to take calls from various morning shows who wanted to interview her or get her opinion on various celebrity topics. She got hate e-mail from spurious accounts and the occasional mean glare from random strange women.
“Call me when you land.” Claire swallowed against the lump in her throat as she gripped the front of his jacket.
“Ye ken I will, Sassenach.” Jamie wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his forehead against hers. “I’ll be back before ye notice. We’ll talk every day. We’ll both be busy as bees, and time will fly by. Dinna fash, alright?” He bent his mouth to hers and lost themselves in each other, ignoring the blaring airport announcements and the racket of other passengers awaiting flights.
Claire held him tight, a small thread of fear weaving into her heart. She didn’t know why she felt so emotional, so clingy – she who was usually so practical and sensible. Perhaps because her heart understood how much it stood to lose if Jamie ever left for good.
Jamie gave her discreet pat on the bottom, making her laugh, and the somber mood was broken. He kissed her nose with a whispered I love you and shouldered his carry-on backpack. Claire crossed her arms, holding herself as he walked down the gangway. Jamie turned and waved, then marched around the corner out of sight. Until three weeks.
“What makes it go faster, Sassenach, is that I had many song lyrics written down. We’re here fine-tuning and coming up wi’ music to accompany them,” Jamie said, his face crystal clear on the screen.
“I’m glad,” Claire replied, sipping her coffee one-handed as she held her phone to video chat with him; she was still in her robe and pajamas, enjoying a rare morning off from the hospital. “What else have you been doing?”
“No’ much. We’ve been out to dinner a few times, me and the lads, and yer friend Geillis and Rupert are really something, let me tell ye.” Jamie wrinkled his nose and laughed.
“I hear that too. She’s been texting me a lot the past week.” Geillis had been thrilled to be in the same city with Rupert for once, and both had been out and about frequently. Rupert was not as high profile as Jamie, so reporters and paparazzi seemed to leave them alone. Geillis had, however, been discussing Claire’s new public persona frequently via phone, asking her how she felt about it and offering much-needed reassurance.
“And ye, mo nighean donn?”
“Work. Study. Work. Study. Medical school is hard, but I love it,” Claire said happily, nestling into the corner of her couch. “I’m preparing for my next class this afternoon, and I have a lot of notes to go through.”
“Then I won’t keep ye. It’s good to see ye, hear yer voice. I miss ye. We’ll talk tonight, aye?” Jamie grabbed his own phone and seemed to be walking down a corridor. Claire recognized it from pictures as the recording studio.
“Of course. I look forward to it.” Claire smiled coyly and drew a finger down the edge of her robe, past the ring on its chain, following it with the camera on her phone until she heard Jamie gasp.
“So do I, Sassenach,” he growled as Claire pulled the phone up and blew him a kiss goodbye.
Claire was focused at the hospital that weekend, intent on helping out an immigrant family whose child had been admitted with a fever. They spoke little English, and Claire had made it her personal mission to help them navigate A&E and support them through this uncertain time.
She was nervous about an upcoming test in her biochemistry class, wanting to do well and prove herself to her professors. She was scheduling study time between her work hours and days off, even using her break time to peruse her textbooks and notes frequently.
So Claire didn’t notice the looks and whispers some of the other staff were giving her, particularly the female nurses. No one had spoken to her directly about any problem or incident, so she ignored it for the most part. Until Dr. Abernathy approached her at the end of her shift.
She wound around her neck a beautiful blue, red, and green tartan scarf; a gift from Jenny in Fraser colors. She was about to step outside when Joe called out.
“Lady Jane? Do you have a minute?”
“Sure,” Claire said, confused. “Is it a patient? Should I change again?”
“No, it’s—personal. Please, LJ, come with me.”
Claire was instantly alert, sensing tension in Joe’s tone. Perhaps she had made a mistake in one of her charts. She started going through a mental list of her patients and their care as she strode briskly next to Joe down the hall to his small office.
Dr. Abernathy let her in first and shut the door firmly behind him and sat in his swivel chair, facing Claire. She sat down herself and gripped her purse, still confused as to what was so urgent.
“Claire, I asked the staff not to mention anything since I overheard the talk in the hospital lounge, because I thought it would upset you,” he began.
“Upset me? About what?”
“I suppose you haven’t seen it. I’m sorry, Lady Jane.” Joe sighed.
Claire exhaled in a huff. “Joe, I don’t understand it. Seen what? All this drama—”
Dr. Abernathy reached into a drawer and pulled out a folded newspaper. He flattened it out with the briefest hesitation on the desktop so Claire could read it.
Jamie Fraser, lead singer of The Clan, caught in secret rendez-vous with famous French pop star Annalise de Marillac.
touch is such a primal part of Jamie’s nature. to be deprived of touch for so long scarred him deeply. reduced his humanity. yet another aspect that Claire ultimately restored to him.
At night, you would hear the sounds of desperation, stifled sobs or stealthy rustlings. Some men would, in the end, reach out to another—sometimes to be rebuffed with shouts and blows. Sometimes not.
I wasn’t sure what he was trying to tell me, nor what it had to do with Thomas Christie. Or, perhaps, Lord John Grey.
“Did any of them ever … touch you?” I asked tentatively.
“No. None of them would ever think to touch me,” he said very softly. “I was their chief. They loved me—but they wouldna think, ever, to touch me.”
He took a deep, ragged breath.
“And did you want them to?” I whispered. I could feel my own pulse begin to throb in my fingertips, against his skin.
“I hungered for it,” he said so softly I could barely hear him, close as I was. “More than food. More than sleep—though I wished most desperately for sleep, and not only for the sake of tiredness. For when I slept, sometimes I saw ye.
“But it wasna the longing for a woman—though Christ knows, that was bad enough. It was only—I wanted the touch of a hand. Only that.”
His skin had ached with need, ’til he felt it must grow transparent, and the raw soreness of his heart be seen in his chest.
He made a small rueful sound, not quite a laugh.
“Ye ken those pictures of the Sacred Heart—the same as we saw in Paris?”
I knew them—Renaissance paintings, and the vividness of stained glass glowing in the aisles of Notre Dame. The Man of Sorrows, his heart exposed and pierced, radiant with love.
“I remembered that. And I thought to myself that whoever saw that vision of Our Lord was likely a verra lonely man himself, to have understood so well.”
I lifted my hand and laid it on the small hollow in the center of his chest, very lightly. The sheet was thrown back, and his skin was cool.
He closed his eyes, sighing, and clasped my hand, hard.
“The thought of that would come to me sometimes, and I would think I kent what Jesus must feel like there—so wanting, and no one to touch Him.”