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Asylum

Chapter Text

They often say that you can’t go home again, and Roger had never given the phrase much thought before, but he now understood it entirely. 

While he hadn’t actually lived in the manse full-time since he left for college, it had always been home to him. The place he’d grown up, a place he could always return to.

But it wasn’t the place. It was the people who had inhabited it. Namely his father.

Now that the reverend was gone, the manse was just a building. The reverend was the house’s soul, and without him, it was just a shell. It wasn’t home to Roger any longer.

He hadn’t returned since the wake, but he had some mail to collect, and Fiona was away on her honeymoon. 

Roger was in and out quickly, finding that being there was especially cold and unwelcoming without even Fiona there to brighten it. One of the items he was expecting were the papers to sign ownership over to Fiona and her new husband, should they wish to accept it. Oh, he would give an asking price of course. No sense risking insulting Ernie’s pride by offering it for free, though Roger would do so gladly. As it was, he wouldn’t be accepting more than a fraction of what it was worth.

As Roger flipped through the stack of mail, he was met with a very welcome surprise, one that lifted his spirits tremendously. A letter from Brianna. 

He decided to go into the village to a little cafe he knew of, and enjoy his letter with some coffee.

As he sat at the small outdoor table, he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. He never could, not when he was thinking about her.

It was all inconsequential things. Stories about school, her friends, a brief mention that her mother was doing well, and Roger very much hoped that was true.

But she didn’t so much as touch on what they’d all been through the summer before. None of her letters had. Roger had followed her example in his responses, but he couldn’t help but wonder if it had to do with not wanting to, or not quite able to put it to paper, or simply trying to forget. 

He really did hope Claire was okay. Brianna so often lived in his mind, but every now and then Claire was there too, with those sad eyes that still haunted him months later. 

“Roger? Roger Wakefield, is that you?”

Roger looked up from his letter, blinking against the sun in his eyes at the man standing beside his table.

“It’s me! Ronnie! Ronnie McNabb!”

Roger blinked again, this time in realization, and he jumped up to shake the other man’s hand. “Ronnie! How good tae see ye! Why don’t ye have a seat?”

Ronnie glanced at the empty seat, then shrugged good-naturedly and took it. “You’re no’ expecting anyone?”

“Nah,” Roger said, waving a hand. “Just catching up on some letters here. How are ye? Haven’t heard for ye in forever it seems!”

He and Ronnie had been good friends throughout primary and secondary school, but had gone their separate ways after graduation, as most people do. Roger remembered Ronnie as an amicable, energetic lad, often into mischief but with a good heart. 

“How have ye been?” Ronnie asked. “I heard about th’ Reverend. So sorry, mate. He was a great one.”

Roger nodded. “Yeah. Thank you. It’s been rough, but I’m alright. What about you? What are ye up to these days?”

Ronnie sat up straighter, grinning. “I’m marrit! Can ye believe it?”

Roger laughed. “Ronnie McNabb, chaser of skirts, has settled down? But no...I can believe it, Ronnie. Who’s th’ lucky lass?”

“Her name’s Lucy,” Ronnie said, quickly pulling a photograph out of his wallet to show Roger.

“Och, she’s bonnie. Too bonnie for you!”

Ronnie threw back his head, laughing. “Don’t I know it! What about ye? Have ye got a Mrs. yet?”

“No’ yet,” Roger shook his head, but held up his letter from Brianna. “I have a lass I’m interested in, but we haven’a reached that stage yet. What d’ye do for a living now?”

“I work security at Helwater Asylum.”

Roger’s eyebrows shot up. “Helwater Asylum? Th’ place for erm...unstable folk?” Nuthouse was what had first come to Roger’s mind, but he’d opted for a slightly more tactful description.

“Aye, ye can put it that way, but it isn’a as bad as what you’re no’ doubt thinking. Most of our residents are elderly and have dementia, and a fare few others are young and just have some issues that keep them from being able tae live alone. It’s a nice place, and th’ residents are treated well. Some o’ them ye wouldn’a even ken there was a thing wrong wi’ them just tae talk tae them. One in particular, really nice guy, intelligent, kind a guy I could get a beer with in any other situation. Shame, really.”

“So why is he there?” Roger asked.

Ronnie winced. “Well, I canna give you any details, but it was written up in th’ newspaper when he was first found, wandering around th’ wilderness in a filthy, blood-stained kilt, raving about bein’ from a different time.”

Roger felt like his heart had stopped, the hairs on his arms suddenly standing on end. “Different time?” he asked.

Ronnie chuckled. “Yeah. Like I said, it’s a shame. But, hopefully th’ doctors there can give him th’ help he needs, and they’ll let him out.”

Roger barely registered any of the rest of the conversation until Ronnie checked his watch and said he had to be getting home. He hugged Roger, insisting they get together again soon, and was gone. Roger was left sitting at that cafe table with an ice-cold cup of coffee in front of him, and a letter from the daughter of an actual time-traveler. 

Could the man in that asylum really be another time traveler, or truly just insane? But they knew that Claire wasn’t the only one who could do it. Roger had seen with his own two eyes the woman who was supposedly his many times great-grandmother walk straight through solid stone.

If the man in that asylum really was from another time, the poor bastard was probably petrified. Roger knew it wasn’t his responsibility or his business, but something was telling him he had to find out. 

He couldn’t help Claire, but maybe he could help someone else.

 

The first thing Roger did was find that news article Ronnie had mentioned. It had taken a good deal of digging at the library, but he finally came across a small blurb in the back of an issue six months prior about a man found wandering the hills around Craigh na Dun. He’d been malnourished and dehydrated, filthy, covered in old scars, and claimed he was from the 18th century. 

“Jesus Christ,” Roger murmured, hearing the echo of Claire elaborating the blasphemous phrase by adding an “H. Roosevelt.”

There was a photograph, but it was so grainy Roger couldn’t make out much, although there was also a brief description, in effort to find the man’s family. 6’4”, red hair, blue eyes, approximately thirty-five years old.

“No name?” Roger huffed. 

That the unknown man was found near Craigh na Dun was enough to make Roger believe he could be the real deal. 

He considered writing to Brianna about it, but decided against it in the end. He could tell her about it when next he saw her, but he didn’t want to dredge up the events of last summer if she didn’t want to talk about it.

Now...how to get into that asylum to see him?

 

“Ronnie! Glad tae catch ye in,” Roger said into the phone. “Look, I dinna mean tae bother you...it’s just, when ye told me about that gentleman at your work, it struck a chord wi’ me, and I looked up th’ newspaper article. Fact is, I think it’s possible that he may be th’ relative of a friend of mine…”

It wasn’t a terrible lie. Maybe no blood relation, but if this man was indeed from the 18th century, it certainly “related” to the Randalls’ life. 

“Do ye think it’d be possible tae come see him? I’d like tae take a look myself before even mentioning it tae my friend, of course.”

“Oh aye, that could be arranged,” Ronnie said. “Normally we only allow relatives tae visit, of course, but if ye’re just wanting tae take a look at him, ye could come in as a volunteer. Our volunteers just make rounds and visit our...well, friendlier residents. Play games wi’ them, chat, that sort of thing.”

Roger nodded, but stopped himself when he remembered Ronnie couldn’t see. “Aye, I could do that. How do I volunteer?”

 

His volunteer application was accepted immediately. Apparently they didn’t get many applications, and a reverend’s son seemed to be an exciting addition.

Ronnie only worked nights, so when Roger showed up one Sunday afternoon to “volunteer” he was on his own in figuring out which of the residents was possibly an 18th century time-traveler. He didn’t want to ask too many questions, lest anyone get suspicious of his motives, so he figured he would just do his job as volunteer and try to work it out himself.

He’d been given a brief training in how best to approach and speak to the residents, though he was assured that the ones he would encounter in the recreation room were not deemed dangerous. 

Roger spent a few hours walking around, chatting with a few sweet elderly people, one of whom was convinced that Roger was her grandson, Martin. 

It made Roger incredibly sad that many of these people probably didn’t receive many visitors, if at all. Just locked away somewhere when they became too much trouble to take care of at home, or too embarrassing to have around. But most of the residents he could see were older, not in their thirties like the article had said, except for a charming young woman with Downs Syndrome who had laughed and flirted shamelessly with him in a completely innocent, childlike fashion that had made him smile and almost forget his intended purpose.

And then he looked over, as someone else was entering the room.

He stood a head and shoulders above everyone else, even though he walked a little hunched over, as if he was trying to hide. 

It was the hair that caught his eye first, though...and then Roger caught a good look at the man’s face.

Roger would never have tried to imagine Brianna’s face in a man, but if he had...this would have been it. Same high cheekbones, same cat-like slant to their eyes...and then that bright red hair.

He felt like the earth was sliding out from under him, and at any moment he would fall through and just keep falling.

When he’d started this little venture, he’d never even entertained the idea that the mysterious 18th century man could actually be the man he, Brianna, and Claire had searched weeks for. 

But it couldn’t be. Claire had said Jamie had been unable to travel. There was no way.

The man had made his way to the far corner of the room and had taken a seat at a chess table. He moved the pieces around distractedly, but no one was playing with him. Every now and then his eyes would flicker up toward the TV in the opposite corner of the room, playing some daytime soap opera, but it wasn’t in the way one would if they were half-watching. He looked nervous about it.

And then, from across the room, their eyes met. Only briefly, before the other man turned his attention back to the chessboard, but Roger could barely breathe. They were Bree’s eyes.

“Hey, what’s a’matter?” the young woman asked him, tugging on his sleeve.

“Sorry, Polly,” he said, smiling at her but scarcely able to take his eyes off the man lest he disappear. “But there’s something I gotta do now, hm? I’ll say goodbye before I leave, though.”

He made his way over to the chess table with measured steps, trying not to appear like he was rushing, but with every step his heart raced faster.

“Fancy a game?” he asked.

The man glanced up at him again, narrowing in suspiciously at his volunteer badge, then grunted in the back of his throat. “Aye, if ye like.”

He quickly reset the pieces, and Roger took a seat. “Been a long time since I’ve played,” Roger said. “But I used tae be pretty good.”

The man simply grunted again, making his first move.

Their entire first game was silent, and all the while Roger was wracking his brain for how to ask him who and what he was.

The man beat him easily, and Roger chuckled wryly. “Like I said, it’s been a while. Rematch?”

“Ye’re never gonna win what wi’ th’ way your brain is runnin’ like a horse, trying tae think what tae ask me,” the man said, resetting the game. “So ye might as well come out wi’ it.”

Roger gaped, wondering how he could have been so transparent. “What makes ye think I want tae ask ye something?”

“Your sort always have questions.”

“My sort? Look, mate, I dinna work here. I’m just a volunteer. Here tae visit.”

The man looked up at him again. “I heard ye were a reverend.”

Roger scoffed. “My father was, no’ me. But, I guess I could ask ye a question. What’s your name?”

“...Jamie.”

Roger really did think he did a passable job of not looking like he was about to faint, but Jamie still narrowed his eyes further. “What’s yours?”

“Roger Wakefield. Well...I was raised by my uncle, who was a Wakefield, but my birth name is MacKenzie.”

Roger was aware that he was rambling, but it felt a relevant thing to mention.

The corner of Jamie’s mouth quirked just slightly in a half-smile. “I’m a MacKenzie as well. On my mother’s side.”

I know, Roger wanted to say. 

This was impossible. It should be impossible. But the damned proof was staring at him through eyes that were a carbon copy of the woman he was in love with...or hers were the carbon copy, more like. 

Roger didn’t know what to do. What he wanted to do was grab the man’s arm, drag him out of the asylum, and straight to Claire and Brianna. But he knew he had to be a lot more careful than that. To start with, he had to make absolute certain this was Jamie Fraser... the Jamie Fraser, before involving Claire and Bree.

“Forgive me for asking...but what’s a chap like you doing here?” Roger asked, going for oblivious tactlessness.

Jamie’s expression darkened. “Well I must be mad, aye? At least that’s what they keep tellin’ me.”

“You don’t seem mad tae me.”

Jamie opened his mouth to respond, but was halted by an orderly announcing that rec time was over for the day.

“Better be going,” Jamie said lowly, still giving Roger that same unnervingly piercing look. Similar to the one Brianna sometimes gave him, but with none of the good humor.

“Wait!” Roger exclaimed, wincing when it came out too loud. “I’d like tae talk tae ye again…”

Jamie shook his head. “Dinna have anything tae talk about.”

Roger grabbed his sleeve, desperate not to let him go but knowing this wasn’t the time or place. He lowered his voice so that hopefully only Jamie could hear. “Ye’re not mad, okay? I ken ye came through th’ stones. Ye’re James Fraser of Broch Tauroch…aren’t ye?”

Jamie snatched his arms away, eyes wide. “Who are ye?”

“Just...someone who believes ye.”

“Time to go, Jamie,” the orderly said brusquely. 

Jamie turned to go, casting astonished looks over his shoulder at Roger as he went.

 

Roger frantically paced the length of his hotel room, stopping only every so often to sit on the bed beside the phone, debating whether to pick it up. 

“Why didn’t I tell him I know Claire?” he muttered to himself for the fiftieth time. 

He supposed that, in the moment, he was still trying to determine if the man really was Jamie Fraser, somehow miraculously come into the twentieth century. He also had been a little afraid that either Jamie wouldn’t believe him, or react so strongly he would attract too much unwanted attention from the staff.

Now he was debating whether to pick up the phone and call the Randalls. Would they even believe him?

In truth, there were several things that didn’t quite add up. For one, Claire said that she’d witnessed Jamie touch the stone minutes before she did, and nothing happened. He hadn’t been able to hear the buzzing that evidently was some sort of indication that a person was capable of passing through. Roger appeared to be one of those people...a fact he didn’t like to dwell on too much.

For another, Roger thought that they had established that the timeline in the past moved along at the same rate as the one here...but the man sitting in that nuthouse was barely any older than Roger, for all that he gave off the impression of a man who’d lived much too hard a life for someone so young. Claire was in her late forties, and had said that Jamie was only five years younger...not fifteen.

No...he couldn’t tell Brianna and Claire just yet. He couldn’t put them through that pain if it turned out to be completely wrong. He had to talk to Jamie again. Preferably alone.

 

Roger couldn’t wait. He didn’t want to try and use his friendship with Ronnie, but at this point he was figured it was worth it. 

“Roger…” Ronnie said in surprise when he opened the door to admit him into the facility. “It’s late. Did ye forget something this afternoon?”

“I’m sorry tae just show up like this,” Roger said. “But listen...th’ resident we talked about, Jamie, I do believe he’s my friend’s relative, but I need tae speak tae him alone. Five minutes, that’s all I need.”

“I’m sorry, Roger,” Ronnie said, shaking his head. 

“Please, man, I’ll no’ tell anyone ye let me in.”

“It isn’a that. Look, I’d help ye if I could...but Fraser’s been moved intae confinement.”

Roger scowled. “Confinement? What th’ hell is that?”

Ronnie sighed sympathetically. “He’s locked up, tae put it bluntly. He tried tae escape this evening. Again. Now, that’s no’ normally cause for too much alarm...but he attacked one of th’ orderlies so now he’s been labeled as dangerous. Now they’re keeping him locked in his room, and he’s got nurses watching him ‘round th’ clock. I can’t get ye in, Roger. I’m sorry.”

Roger raked a hand roughly through his hair. “Christ, Ronnie. If this guy is who I think he is...keeping him prisoner is just going tae make things worse!”

“I hate it too, okay? Fraser’s a nice guy, and I dinna think it was his fault. Th’ orderly’s new, and he got too handsy. He didn’a mean anything by it, and others tried tae warn him that Fraser doesn’a like being touched. Fraser snapped.”

Roger started pacing again, trying to figure out what in the hell he should do. Ronnie watched him a few moments, then sighed deeply. 

“Listen. In about an hour, th’ nurses are gonnae switch out for th’ night. Cassandra called tae say she’ll be runnin’ a bit late so I’m keeping an eye on him between shifts. I can give ye five minutes, Roger, but no’ more. If this is found out, I’ll lose my job and all credibility, d’ye understand?”

Roger nodded frantically, shaking Ronnie’s hand. “Aye...thank ye, Ronnie. Truly.”

He snorted. “Dinna thank me yet. Come back in an hour.”

 

“Five minutes,” Ronnie reminded Roger again, opening the heavy door to admit him into Jamie’s room.

A cell was more like it. There was nothing in the room save a cot with a single, thin blanket, and a nightstand that held an untouched plate of food and cup of water. All utensils made of plastic. The walls were padded, and there was only a small window to let in light during the day, but was too far up to see out of and far too small to fit through. The overhead light was on, casting the room in blinding white. Was a person supposed to sleep like this?

“Jamie?” Roger called gently. After everything Jamie had been through, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect him to truly be a little unstable, so Roger wanted to be sure to go carefully.

The figure on the bed opened his eyes, fixing Roger with a cold stare that was quite unfocused. 

Sedatives, Ronnie had warned him.

Better sedated than tied down, Roger thought, eying the leather straps on the sides of the cot that thankfully weren’t in use.

“Jamie, it’s me, Roger. From this afternoon.”

“I remember,” Jamie slurred. “I’m no that mad.”

“I told ye, ye’re no’ mad at all! I want tae try and get ye out of here, d’ye understand? I want tae get ye back tae your family.”

Jamie snorted. “Family’s gone.”

“Not all of them,” Roger said, kneeling beside the bed. “I want to help you, but I need you to tell me who you are.”

“Ye already ken who I am.”

“Aye, but I need ye tae say it.”

Jamie’s eyes had drifted shut, but then he opened them again, blinking rapidly as he tried to focus. “James Alexander...Malcolm MacKenzie...Fraser. Now please...go away.”

There was nothing for it. Roger had to just come out and say it.

“I’m not going away. I’m going tae get ye tae Claire.”

Though still drugged, Jamie’s eyes zeroed in on Roger with intense focus, and his fists clenched.

“Roger,” Ronnie whispered from the doorway. “Time's up, come on.”

“Two more minutes!” Roger hissed back. “Jamie, listen tae me. I ken Claire, alright? Last year I was helping her look for ye.”

“Claire…” Jamie whispered, forming the name so carefully, as if uttering a prayer. 

“Roger!”

“I’m coming! I’ll call her, Jamie, okay? She’s going tae come and help get you out of here.”

Jamie rolled his head back and forth on the cot. “No.”

“No?”

“Roger! Now!”

“She’s gone!” Jamie rolled over, squeezing his eyes shut. “She’s gone!”

“She’s not gone, man! She’s here! In this time!”

All of a sudden, Jamie snapped back around to face Roger, eyes blazing. “Get out!” he roared, lunging unsteadily to his feet and shoving Roger halfway across the room. “Get out!”

Roger felt someone grab him by the collar and drag him out of the room, locking a drugged and enraged Jamie inside.

“Now ye’ve gone and pissed him off!” Ronnie snapped. “Ye need tae get out of here, Roger. Now.”

“Alright,” Roger said, voice wavering as he stumbled to his feet and made his way back down the winding corridors toward the lobby and out into the frigid night air.

He took deep, shuddering breaths, trying to clear his head and shake the terror he’d felt when Jamie fucking Fraser had drawn himself to his full height and turned to him in anger. Before, in the rec room, he’d seemed harmless. But now, Roger had seen what a genuinely dangerous man he could be. And one who was not stable.

How in the hell was he supposed to tell Brianna and Claire that he’d found Jamie Fraser...not in the past but here, only to have to tell them that there might not be much left of him?