Red Jamie and the White Lady - Part 4
Well since @tammywt was so kind as to ask nicely and @shamelessmiraclemaker also asked nicely, I’ll post this chapter. Monday and Tuesday I have finals I have to write, so I won’t be online at all. Don’t worry, the new Vegas chapter will still post on Tuesday no matter what.
MASSIVE thank you to @diversemediums for her AMAZEBALLS brain. Seriously. She’s pretty incredible. And also to one of my favorite nurses (I don’t care what you say, you’re a nurse to me) @outlandishchridhe for making sure my writing about injury and medical practices was accurate. Catch up on previous installments below:
Claire sat curled up on the couch, blanket tucked in around her, as she nursed her glass of wine. Geillis would be home soon more than likely and Claire could only hope she’d return alone. Picking up the TV remote, Claire flipped through the channels aimlessly, wanting to settle on something that didn’t require her to think or follow a complex plot. She finally settled on some reality program and let her mind rest.
But she felt restless, like there was something important that she’d forgotten. An urge to get up and move about the apartment came over her like an ocean wave, as strong as it was sudden. It had been a long day at the hospital, checking on her patients after their operations. All she really wanted was a quiet night at home where she could turn her mind off and not be anything, yet here she was, mind racing and thoughts bouncing to and fro like an internal tennis match.
She shook herself back to reality when a key in the door unlocked the deadbolt. Claire set down her empty glass and pulled herself out of the slouch she’d fallen into. Geillis waltzed in, face a little flushed and hair slightly out of sorts.
“Good night, then?”
“Oh, quite,” she said with a predatory smile.
“I take it he was a quick one, or you’d have brought him home.”
“Weel, I kent you’d be here. So I shagged him at the bar.”
“Not on it, I hope.”
“Of course not. Now… What have yoooouuuu been doing all evening?”
Geillis plopped herself down on the couch, dropping her heels on the floor beside her.
“Just watching some reality program. Nothing exciting. It was a long day.”
“You didn’t go and see that psychic lad again?”
“Again? Geillis, how many times must I tell you. I saw him the day you dragged me there and never again.”
Emerald green eyes narrowed at her, disbelieving. Frank had told her once never to play poker because she was a rubbish liar. She’d never seen the point in lying to begin with, so it hadn’t really mattered. But something about Jamie, about the time they’d spent together, made her hide the information from Geillis.
“But why!? Claire! He asked you back! You took my appointment with him and then he asked you back for another personal reading!”
“As I’ve said at least a dozen times since then, Geillis Duncan, I don’t believe in psychics or spirits or true love. It’s all fairy tales given to children.”
Geillis waved her hand in a dismissive manner and headed off to her bedroom. Judging by the strength of the whiskey on her breath, she’d be passed out within a quarter hour. So, Claire turned the reality program back on and watched it for a while. Still… This nagging sensation in the back of her mind…
With a huff, she got to her feet and dug around the flat for a scrap piece of paper. After scribbling a note, Claire grabbed her keys and went out.
Geillis - Went out for a walk. Be back soon. Don’t worry.
The cool night air bit at her cheeks as she walked, but it soothed her. There was no destination to her walking, she only wanted the movement and fresh air. As she gradually began to relax, her thoughts wandered back to Jamie. True, he’d asked that she not tell anyone he was a Scot. But he hadn’t asked her to conceal her entire visit altogether. That had been… Instinct?
Flashes of that strange, shared dream had come back to her nearly every night. The feel of his lips on her neck, his teeth moving down her chest, the way his fingers moved so deftly in her-
Shaking her head again, she reminded herself it had been his vision, not hers. That thought, however, reminded her of his sudden migraine. The unknown cause was bad enough, but even he’d said it was unusual. Before she could think about it, her feet turned and started taking her down to his shop. They’d never exchanged personal numbers, so she had no other way to contact him.
“Besides,” she muttered to herself. “He claims to be an all powerful psychic. He’ll see me coming. Probably knew I was coming before I did.”
When she arrived at the shop, she noticed the lights were all on. Blinking up at the door, she tried to remember all the turns she’d taken to get there, but couldn’t. She felt as if she’d been entranced and had come to this place completely without thought.
If the lights were on, someone should be home. Stepping up to the door, she knocked on it gently. It swung open on silent hinges as if it had been expecting her.
“Odd,” she said quietly. “He’s not usually one for being creepy.”
Right, she thought. Because you know him so well? You’ve spent maybe two hours with him in the last two weeks and you ‘know’ he’s not one for being creepy? Get a hold of yourself, Beauchamp.
Walking slowly, she moved down the same hall he’d taken her twice. Something about the place felt… off.
“Hello? Is anyone home?”
A deep grunt was her only greeting and she went in search of it.
“Hello?” she called again. “I’m not sure where you are. I’ve only come to help.”
“Here,” answered a voice she didn’t recognize.
What she did recognize, however, was the thread of pain in it. Moving faster, she turned a corner into a kitchen and found him sitting on the floor. He leaned against the wall, one arm clutched protectively over his ribs. One eye was swollen shut, his bottom lip was split, and Claire suspected he had a decent head wound somewhere, judging from the blood coating one side of his face.
“Who the devil are ye?!” he demanded, free hand groping for something to defend himself with.
“Claire!” she said, holding up her hands. “Claire Beauchamp!”
“What do ye want?”
“I only came to see if Jamie was alright. He got a nasty migraine a while back when I was here and I wanted to check if it had come back or gotten worse! I only came to help!”
She knelt down beside him and began prodding his head gently. He yelped and jerked his head away when she found the gash in his scalp, right near a decently sized lump.
“Aye, I ken I’ll need stitches. And I’ve broken my ribs again. I’ll do.”
“Wait,” she blinked down at him, tearing her eyes from the lump on his head. “You’re Scottish too?”
The one eye that wasn’t swollen shut darted up and met hers, wariness and rage warring in it.
“What do ye ken about the lad?”
“That he believes he’s a powerful psychic and he’s got to hide from someone or something. I know we had the same dream about two weeks ago.”
“Who do ye work for?! How did ye find us!”
Claire lurched back when a knife came suddenly to her throat.
“I don’t work for anyone! You mustn’t move like that! You’re only going to cause yourself more pain. And who the bloody hell are you?”
Getting up, she went to the sink and wet a rag to clean him off with.
His good eye narrowed in a glare and Claire returned the look, with interest.
“Look, I don’t work for anyone. I sort of had a feeling I needed to come here, so I did. All I wanted to do was make sure he was alright.”
With the blood cleaned off his face, he didn’t look too bad. A little dour maybe, but not as angry as he’d first seemed.
“The lad needs ye.”
“Where is he?”
“Tell me… Are ye true to him? Ye really willna betray him to… them.”
Heaving a sigh, she got to her feet, anxious to find Jamie and find out what the bloody hell was going on.
“Given that I don’t have any bloody clue who they are, no. I won’t betray him. I already promised I’d keep his secret. He knows mine.”
After what felt an eternity he nodded once.
“I’m Murtagh. Jamie made it upstairs to the panic room. We converted the attic. Go upstairs to the library, second door on the left. Pull the book wi’ the red spine that says The Truth About the ‘45. That’ll open the door. Jamie will be inside. I canna get up the stairs wi’ these ribs.”
Taking the stairs two at a time, she paused on the landing and counted the doors on the left hand side. The library wasn’t quite what she’d expected. She’d thought it would be like any old library, filled with old books that were rarely touched. What she found was the oddest assortment of books she’d ever seen, all with creased spines and well-worn pages.
How much time does Jamie spend in here, she wondered.
Peering carefully at the unfamiliar collection, she found the bright red spine that read The Truth About the ‘45 and pulled it. A quiet click sounded before the entire case began swinging away from the wall. Claire leapt back and looked down, seeing a small trail of blood droplets.
She rushed into the brightly lit room and turned in a slow circle. Jamie was propped against a wall, much like Murtagh had been, but was in much worse condition.
“Jesus H. Bloody Christ!”
Both of his eyes were nearly swollen shut, blood trickled from his nose in an alarmingly steady stream, his face was a webwork of bruises and scrapes, the knuckles on both hands were raw and bloody. His left hand was pressed against his side and she could see the drying blood staining his skin. Puncture? How deep? How long had he been bleeding?
Not long, by the looks of the small puddle on the floor. The tiny slits of ever-changing blue met her eyes and widened a little.
“Ssncchh,” he mumbled.
“Hush,” she said, dropping to her knees. “You don’t need to speak. Let me take care of you, alright?”
Her hand brushed his shoulder and he winced, causing her to look at it more carefully. She realized his shoulder was completely out of joint, which must be agonizing.
“I need to put your shoulder right. But it’s not in the right position. It’ll hurt like hell, but I promise it’ll feel better when it goes back. Are you ready?”
Eyes locked on hers, he nodded once and she began rolling his arm around, feeling for the right alignment.
“One… Two…” before she got to three, she snapped the shoulder back in place.
Jamie’s whole body went rigid and he muffled a cry. Before a sound could come out, he slumped back and relaxed.
“Th… Thank ye,” he mumbled, voice rasping.
“Oh you won’t be thanking me in a minute. What the hell have you and Murtagh done? Gotten into a fight with an elephant?”
He shrugged and winced at the movement.
“Do you have any sort of medkit around? There’s only so much I can do with my bare hands.”
“In… The cupboard. Red bag.”
Claire got to her feet and rummaged around until she found the medkit. It wasn’t as small as she’d been expecting, almost the size of a duffle. Bringing it with her, she set it down and began looking through it. She needed to listen to his breathing, make sure that stab wound wasn’t too deep. Pulling out the stethoscope, she pressed it to his chest and closed her eyes. Heartbeat. Breathing. Clear lung sounds, which was excellent. No punctured lung then. That meant she could stitch up the wound and finish examining the rest of him. But she needed a clear, clean area, so she cut away his shirt, laying the bloody fabric aside.
It was only oozing a little, but the area around it was smudged with blood. Looking around the room quickly, she spotted a small sink. She waited until the water warmed a little before putting the stopper in. Lathering a fresh bar of soap, she soaked a clean cloth in it before returning to him. Careful not to let the soapy water into the wound, she cleaned around it as best she could. By some miracle, this medkit had anesthetic in it.
“This will help numb you a bit so I can check for debris before I close it up, alright?”
She filled a syringe with the anesthetic before injecting all around the wound and waited a few minutes before gently poking near the wound. When he didn’t flinch away or yelp, she took it as her cue. Another syringe, without a needle, sat filled with sterile saline. With it, she irrigated the wound to clear it of any debris that might have found a way in. As carefully as she could, she peeled apart the edges of the wound to take one last look.
“Alright soldier, looks like it’s clean. Time to close you up.”
Claire took a deep, steadying breath, and began closing up the stab wound. It went faster than she’d expected and she was quite pleased with her work when she looked down at it.
“Now,” she said, stretching her back a little. “Let’s have a look at the rest of you.”
“Is… Is Murtagh…”
“He’s alive, but with bruised or broken ribs. I’m not sure. He wouldn’t let me look at him until after I’d tended you. Did they stab you anywhere else?”
“No, they didna.”
Nodding to herself, she cut away the rest of his shirt and hissed at the dark bruises already forming. She cleaned the blood off his skin to check for any lacerations. Most of the bleeding on his face had come from his nose. Thankfully, that flood had ceased. She wiped gingerly around his face, but only found more bruising. A few places where the skin had broken open, likely due to someone’s fist, were already clotting. There wasn’t much she could do for the split lip at this point, but it too had stopped oozing.
“Well, you don’t have anything more serious going on. How’s your head?”
“Throbbin’ a bit.”
“Like the migraine you had last time I was here?”
He nodded shortly.
“A bit. No’ quite so bad. Weel, it was earlier, but no’ as much now.”
Claire exhaled, wiping her brow with the back of her hand as she sat back on her heels and met his eyes squarely.
“Now, would you care to tell me just what the hell happened here?”
Jamie took as deep a breath he could with his new stitches and nodded again.
“Aye, ye deserve the truth. Ye ken I’m no’ English. I’m hiding out, trying to stay clear of a group that kens how powerful I could be. They want to unleash my power and use it for their own gains. All I want is to have a quiet life, help people when I can. I dinna want to ken the fate of a city or country or entire people.”
“And they want to use you?”
“Aye, they do. Been hunting me for years, ever since…”
The blue of his eyes suddenly shifted into a deep, dark tone.
“Ach, weel. I thought you’d come back, ye ken. I’d seen ye in the hallway, in a different vision, so I thought the knock was you. I see now that the vision I had was you coming in alone, concerned, no’ as I’d thought before.”
“They blitzed you?”
“Something like that, aye. As soon as I kent it wasna you, I called for Murtagh. He’s my godfather, ken? Swore to my mother on her deathbed that he’d keep me safe as if I was his own child. He’s good in a fight, especially an unexpected one like this. I dinna think they meant to stab me, I think they were aimin’ at Murtagh. I just got in the way. But he kept them busy until I could get up here and safe.”
Claire nodded slowly. Jamie visibly relaxed at that, then let out a stifled groan with the movement.
“We really should get you to a hospital.”
“No!” he said, wincing and clutching at his side. “No. That’s the first place they’ll look for me.”
“Please,” he said, “please, Claire. Ye canna take me there.”
The look of absolute terror in his eyes swayed her, against her better judgement.
“Fine. But I need to get downstairs and examine Murtagh. He took a nasty blow to the head and I’m afraid he’ll need stitches too. And I’m not leaving you alone up here. Come on, I’ll help you up.”
Taking hold of his left hand, she braced herself and helped him to his feet. He wobbled a little, but a hand on her shoulder helped him steady himself.
“How’s the head.”
“It’s… Starting to hurt a bit.”
His eyes were glazing over as he swayed on his feet.
“No, mo ghraidh… dinna go just yet.”
She giggled contentedly and nuzzled against him.
“I have to, I’m sorry. If I’m not in the surgery soon, they’ll come looking.”
“I’m no’ ready to let ye go yet…”
With a growl, he rolled above her, pinning her down.
“Aye! I’m a brute! And I have ye at my mercy!”
Peals of laughter echoed in the small room, filling him with indescribable joy.
He swayed again, reaching for the wall to keep from toppling over all together. Everything hurt. Then, it was as if every ounce of pain in his body had moved behind it eyes..
“Christ my head…”
His vision began to blur, though not from visions.
“Damn it, your nose is bleeding again.”
She vanished from his sight for a moment before she returned, gently pushing something into his nose. He resisted the urge to sneeze, but was happy to realize blood was no longer running down his face.
“How bad is the pain? Scale of one to ten, ten being unbearable, excruciating pain?”
“Six and a half.”
Her cool, soft hands held his face between them, keeping his head from wobbling.
“Do you mind if I try something?”
“I dinna mind.”
“Is the pain in your temples?”
Then her long, elegant fingers pressed against his head. Without meaning to, he leaned into the pressure, eyes drawing closed. A lifetime might have passed right by him in those moments and he never would have noticed. All he knew was the connection they had, the way she drew the pain out of his head.
When she pulled her hands back, he nearly fell over. She smiled up at him, golden eyes glittering.
“Aye, much better. Thank ye.”
“Can you walk now, you think?”
“Verra slowly, but aye. I can walk.”
It took some time, but they got down the stairs and back to the kitchen. Murtagh wasn’t on the floor, at least, but he looked half dead. Half his face was caked with dried blood, his hair matted with it as well.
“Alright soldier, your turn.”
Jamie eased into a chair and took some amount of pleasure in watching Murtagh go through the same examination he’d just finished. She stitched up his scalp and cleaned the blood from his face and beard.
When she was satisfied they were both as cleaned up as she could make them, she sat down with a huff.
“Will they come back?”
“No’ tonight. Stabbing Jamie will likely get them in trouble. It was meant for me.”
“So why not kill you and wait for Jamie to emerge?”
Murtagh shrugged and Jamie envied the ease of his movement.
“Dinna ken. But they’ll no’ be back tonight. Ye can head home, lass. I’ve got Jamie.”
“Not with that head wound. I’m not going anywhere until I’m sure the both of you are,” she interrupted herself with a yawn. “Until you’re stable.”
Jamie glanced up at Murtagh, who’s good eye was locked on Claire. He had the most curious expression on his face, one Jamie couldn’t figure out.
“Get some rest, lass. I’m no’ falling asleep for a good while yet.”
“I couldn’t possibly,” she said, yawning again.
Claire leaned forward and folded her arms on the table, resting her head on top of them. She was asleep a moment later.
“Did she touch ye?” Murtagh asked in a harsh whisper.
“What?” Jamie asked, staring blearily at his godfather. “Why?”
“Just answer the bloody question. Did she touch ye?”
Jamie felt his frown deepen.
“Aye… She did.”
“When? What was happening?”
“She’d got me on my feet to come down to she could tend ye. I started havin’ a vision again. The pain was awful. Thought my head was gonna burst. And then she… I dinna ken what it was, Murtagh. But it was beautiful. Like she just reached in and pulled the pain out.”
“And the vision?”
Jamie shook his head before wincing.
“It was over before she did anything. Murtagh, what does this mean? You kent Mam and Da, Willie. I dinna ken what’s happening to me.”
Murtagh made a valiant effort at smiling, though it ended up looking more garish than soothing. It did nothing to tame the fear churning inside him. His visions were getting out of control and he didn’t know what to do. Anyone who might have helped him, who’d gone through this before, was dead. Jenny didn’t have the same powers and not in the same intensity. Loathe as he was to admit it, Jamie was growing fearful of his own power.
“You’re growing, lad. I didna see Brian come into his full powers, ken. But I saw what Ellen did for him a time or two. They were a True Pair, aye? Meant for one another.”
“Aye, Jenny said so. Mam broke an engagement wi’ another man to marry Da.”
Murtagh waved his hand dismissively.
“Ach. That was part of it. But yer da was one of the most powerful psychics in the world. His visions were strong, like yours are, started causin’ him problems. Until he met Ellen. What she did for him… I dinna ken if there’s words strong enough for it. But the look on your face was the same he had after Ellen healed him.”
“Mam was… Mam was a healer?”
“Aye, like yon Claire.”
A tight ache formed in Jamie’s chest at the thought of his mother. He didn’t remember much about her, and only had a few photographs of her. Murtagh had known her for a long time, though he didn’t speak of it often.
“What does it mean?” he asked, heart pounding. “That she’s a healer like Mam?”
“It means ye need to keep her close, aye? If yer visions get worse, like Brian’s did, they could rightly kill ye. Ye need her.”
A sudden realization hit Jamie like a ton of bricks.
“Da didna die of a stroke, did he?”
Murtagh shook his head slowly.
“No, lad. It was his visions what killed him. We only had it written up as a stroke, to try and keep you and Jenny safe. Losing Ellen meant he had no healer to keep the visions from getting too strong.”
Jamie looked at Claire, sleeping peacefully in front of him. A dark tendril of curly hair brushed her pale cheek, making her look heartbreakingly young and innocent. He swallowed and shook his head.
“She’s got a man, Murtagh, a life. I canna ask her to gi’ that up.”
“When ye first read her tea leaves, and then her palms, what did ye see?”
Jamie closed his eyes to recall the images.
“No, lad! Dinna do it that way or you’ll start bleedin’ again and she needs time to recover. Just think, dinna call it up again. Use memory, not power.”
Rather than recall the images, he recalled the memories.
“I told her she had a choice to make, her life branched into two paths. One was uneventful, but comfortable. The other was more exciting. Neither would bring destruction.”
“What do ye think that means?”
“I dinna ken,” Jamie complained, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I try not to interpret things for other people, ye ken that. And I dinna look into my own future.”
Murtagh nodded slowly.
“Aye. But maybe just think about what that might mean for her. And for you. She already keeps your secrets. And she was drawn here tonight, like she kent ye needed her. Your power calls to hers, they compliment each other, ken. Ye need her, but she needs you too.”
Jamie’s eyes moved to Claire again, her mouth hanging slightly open in sleep. He wondered if she would have kept herself awake under more normal circumstances.
“Did it hurt her? When she healed me?”
“Dinna ken, but I dinna think so. Ellen explained it to me like this. It’s no’ so much that she takes the pain into herself, but she channels it out o’ you.”
“And it willna hurt her?”
“As long as she doesna go too far, no,“ Murtagh responded, shaking his head. His good eye moved to Claire, exhausted and dead to the world, and his expression softened. "This was, I’d be willin’ to bet, the first time she did this sort o’ healing. I’m surprised she made it down the stairs, let alone stitched me up.”
Jamie took in the sight of her; her pale skin; her brown, curly hair ruffling over her shoulders. If left in that position, she would wake up sore. He couldn’t bear the thought of her in any sort of pain.
“What are ye thinkin’ lad?”
Jamie knew, if left in that position, she would wake up sore. He couldn’t bear the thought of her in any sort of pain.
“That Claire willna wake verra happy if we leave her slumped over like a sack of grain.”
Murtagh rolled his eye.
“And just how do ye expect us to get her onto the couch?”
“No’ the couch. She saved our lives tonight. The spare bedroom, at least.”
The eye went wide enough that Jamie half worried it would fall out of his head.
“Up the stairs?! Have ye gone mad? Claire didna say ye’d been clouted o’er the heid!”
Jamie started to shrug, but caught himself.
“I havena been clouted o’er the head, Murtagh. Maybe I’ve gone mad, but she did save our lives.”
Murtagh pursed his lips, wincing as the split began oozing again.
“Aye. And ye’ve a useless arm. How do ye propose we get her up the stairs? Magic?!”
Jamie rolled his eyes.
“Ye have visions, Jamie. Ye dinna lift things with yer mind.”
“Come on. I’ll no’ leave her here.”
Between the two of them, they somehow got her up the stairs. There was one moment when Jamie was sure Murtagh was about to drop her, but they kept themselves together. Murtagh lay her on the bed and left, seeing no other need. Jamie heard him shuffle down the stairs and putter about the kitchen.
Jamie struggled for a moment before removing her shoes, setting them on the floor beside the bed. Then he brushed back the curls on her forehead, staring at her beautiful face. Before he knew what he was doing, he leaned down and pressed his lips to the top of her head.
“Rest, mo ghraidh,” he whispered in Gaelic, the endearment from his vision coming all too easily in the present. His thumb softly stroked her cheek. “Get peace while you can, for I fear your life has been thrown into chaos by mine.”