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Heartbroken in the Highlands

Chapter Text

 

HITH

“And as always, if ye have found that special someone, keep them close tae yer heart. Thank ye fer listening…until the next time.”

Claire turned off the ignition, gathered her belongings, and taking a deep breath, made a mad dash for her front door. Once inside, she set her belongings down on her table in the entryway and then proceeded to hang up her rain jacket and take off her boots. “You would think after living here for the past three years I would be used to this bloody weather,” she grumbled, trying to shake off the dampness that had seeped into her bones. And yet, here you still are…hoping…praying for a miracle, her mind reminded her.

Claire made her way into the kitchen and started to heat up some tomato soup and toasted cheese. Nothing like some comfort food to go with her current mood. She had always enjoyed listening to Dr. Alexandra’s, Heartbroken in the Highlands, segment on the local radio station. It aired every Thursday evening and there was something about the stories that the woman shared that spoke to Claire. It was as if this woman was looking into her soul and speaking directly to her. Tonight’s segment, with the trauma experience, had really rattled Claire, since it was something she had experienced as well. In an odd way, she found it comforting to know that other people had had similar experiences in their lives, but for a moment, Claire was no longer in her kitchen, but curled on the ground in Holyrood Park.

Ye need not be scairt of me, Claire…nor anyone else, as long as I’m with ye.

She shook her head and forced herself to focus on not burning the toasted cheese. While tending the griddle, she found her mind wandering again, except this time she was in Jamie’s cottage at Lallybroch.

We can make it work, mo chridhe, I ken we can.”

I want to believe that Jamie, truly I do…but I’ll be at Oxford for at least four to five years. I’ll be busy with my studies and then my residency. Once that starts, my time will no longer be my own.

Aye, but do ye trust me, Claire?

With my life.

So much hope and promise, only to be tossed aside when neither she nor Jamie were able to keep their end of the bargain. It wasn’t as if they had grown apart…Claire knew and possessed part of Jamie’s soul, just like he possessed her own, but in the end it simply wasn’t enough. Claire was at the mercy of her professors and later the hospital schedule, while Jamie was being pursued by multiple broadcasting stations. Looking back, she was proud of him for chasing his dreams. She knew how hard it was for him, knowing what his father had to give up when his mother found out she was pregnant with his older brother at the young age of nineteen. This had made Jamie even more determined to pursue his degree, and she didn’t begrudge him of that. They were both headstrong and passionate about their future careers…it just meant that their relationship hadn’t come first.

Now, six years later, a doctor at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Claire was doing quite well for herself. She had a beautiful little cottage, on the outskirts of town. Being closer to the highlands suited her. She often found herself spending her days off hiking. The serene landscape was a balm to her frenzied psyche after multiple days in a row at the bustling hospital, surrounded by the constant din of machines and neon lights. It was peaceful here and often reminded her of happier times.

Jamie! Someone will see us!”

He was quickly laying her down and pulling off her leggings and thong beneath. “I doubt that, but they’ll certainly hear yer wee noises,” he teased.

“I do not make wee noises,” she protested, right before eliciting another sigh of ecstasy as Jamie’s tongue found her center.

He pulled slightly back and looked up at her with ocean-blue eyes. “Aye, ye do Sassenach, but I would’na change a thing about ye.” He then went back to his work and Claire didn’t even try to keep quiet about it.

A warmth had flooded her abdomen, followed by a slight tingling and pulsing further below. “Jesus H. Christ, Beauchamp!” She was angry with herself for dwelling on the past, especially since it had been happening more and more lately. She knew she had to move on. Her friends, Geillis in particular, had set her up on multiple blind dates. Some of the men were lovely, others were creeps, but even the ones that she should have been attracted to, just didn’t compare to the love she had experienced just a few short years ago.

Claire settled on the couch with her soup and sandwich, flipping on the television to find something to occupy her mind. After an hour of flipping through the channels and not really watching what was on the screen, Claire realized she had been focusing on those ocean-blue eyes, framed by auburn curls, that seemed to consume every waking moment. Claire stood and turned off the television. She tidied the kitchen, made sure the cottage was secure for the night and then went to draw herself a bath. She lit some candles, played some soft music, and allowed herself to be swallowed by the bubbles. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back, trying to relax and free her mind of the one person she never stopped thinking about.

After ten minutes, Claire gave into the fantasies running through her brain and allowed her hand to sink below the bubbles to her throbbing center. Her fingers were a poor excuse for what she really wanted, but she was craving the touch. She hadn’t been with another man since Jamie and was convinced no one else would ever know her body the way he did. Christ, even she couldn’t please herself the way he did, but it would have to do for tonight.

When she was finished, Claire relaxed on to the bath pillow, somewhat more relaxed after her release. “Tomorrow, Beauchamp. It’s a Friday night and you are going out with Geillis. This has to stop.”

You almost have me convinced, but we both know your heart won’t be in it, her mind reasoned.

 

“Another great show, Dr. Alexandra!” Rupert teased through the headphones from behind the studio window. “Guess ye canna spend all the time up in yer fancy office.”

“Thanks mate,” Jamie replied, forcing his smile and the tone of gratitude.

“We’re headed out to the pub, care tae join us?” Angus asked, as he started shutting down the small studio.

“No’ tonight lads, but thank ye fer the offer,” Jamie replied as he started to gather his things and throw his jacket on.

“C’mon mate! Ye never come out with us. It would do ye some good, mebbe even get laid.” Rupert wiggled his eyebrows, but in reality, he and Angus were genuinely concerned about their friend. When they first agreed to help Jamie with the broadcast, they thought it would be fun and different from their other tasks at the station. But after a few months of this gig, they were quickly realizing that Jamie’s goal was not to help his fellow listeners, although that was an added bonus.

Jamie turned to face Rupert, a feral look on his face, so Angus stepped in. “Ye ken the odds of her listening are about a million tae one, right?”

Jamie let out a deep sigh and his shoulders slumped. “I ken, but somehow, talking about it, makes me feel as if she’s still here with me. Tonight threw me fer a loop. I would’na be good company. You two go out…ye ken I like tae be alone after the show, but I promise ye…I’ll go out with ye tomorrow.”

Rupert and Angus looked at him, both with skepticism etched across their faces.

Jamie chuckled, “Ye have my word.”

At that, Rupert and Angus nodded, bid Jamie good night and left, while he finished locking up. Every time Jamie left for the night, he couldn't help but look back at the two-story building that was his. His. He had worked so hard for this…to open his own studio. He spent most of his time doing managerial tasks, but a few months ago he had the idea to host this talk show. There was a tiny part of him that hoped if his ex was listening, she would pick up on the stories and realize he was speaking to her. Fat chance, ye numpty, since yer using a female pseudonym and a voice enhancer to make ye sound like a lass, he chided himself.

He got into his car and drove out to Lallybroch, his family home. His parents still lived in the main house, but the property was large enough that all of his siblings lived scattered about. Jenny and Ian had the largest cottage, since they already had one bairn and another on the way. William had just proposed to his girlfriend and they hardly left their cottage, as Jamie noted by the two cars out front and the lights out. “Christ man! It’s barely ten o’clock and in bed already…bastard,” he muttered to himself. Jamie pulled up to the smallest building that was on the property, which wasn’t saying much. It was still a two bedroom cottage, with a living room, kitchen, and one and half baths. Despite all of this, it still felt small and lonely…without her.

Jamie turned off his truck, unlocked the front door, and threw his bag over on a chair. He’d eaten at the studio with Rupert and Angus. Thursday night had become something of a ritual among them. Pizza was ordered, a six-pack picked up and consumed, all while they talked about the Scotland National team. It was as if they were all boosting their manhood, before the act that would follow. What Rupert and Angus did not know was that every Thursday night, Jamie would go home to an empty house and drink several drams of whisky, all while thinking about Claire, and tonight was no exception. After sharing tonight’s show, Jamie would be lucky if he didn’t down the whole bottle of whisky.

“Jamie, we’ve got a caller on Line 2…lad’s girlfriend is recovering from trauma. Do ye want tae take it?” Rupert asked at the first commercial break.

Jamie’s mouth went dry…Christ, I dinna want tae relive those days, but if my experience can help someone else, it might be worth it. “Aye,” he responded.

Switching over the voice enhancer, a lovely lass’ voice came across the airwaves. “Thank ye fer joining us tonight. I understand we have a caller on Line 2. Are ye there?” “

Aye,” came a weak voice. “I was hopin’ ye might be able to give me some advice, Dr. Alexandra. See my girlfriend has just been through an awful scare…something I would’na wish on my worst enemy. I want tae be there fer her, but she keeps pushing me away. I ken she’s scared, but we need each other now more than ever. What do I do?”

Keep it together, Fraser, Jamie thought to himself. “Weel, everyone processes trauma in their own ways. I experienced a trauma back in high school, no’ sure if it’s what yer lass is going through, but I was attacked while on a date. Lookin’ back, I should ne’er been out with this boy, but the heart wants what it wants, when it wants aye? I can joke about it now, but it took many years to reach that point. I had a close friend who never left my side. Did’na push me tae talk, but was just there. I opened up when I was ready, but by him simply being there, made me feel safe again.”

“That makes a lot of sense, Dr. Alexandra. Thank ye, truly. I dinna want tae disclose what has happened to my girl, but it was traumatic. Thank ye fer being brave enough tae share yer experiences with us. I’ll just be there fer her, even if it’s just tae hold her hand.”

“That’s a good lad. She just wants tae ken that someone is there. She’ll open up when she’s ready.”

Jamie threw the first dram back in one gulp. Frank Randall, the fuckin’ bastard! Down went the second dram.

Jamie had been in love with Claire from the moment he’d laid eyes on her in freshman English the first day of school, but for some reason he still didn’t understand, Claire had been drawn to Frank Randall. Maybe it was because they were both English, or that he was a junior, while Jamie was only a freshman…he didn’t know, nor did he care, but from Day 1 there was something about Frank Randall that he didn’t like. One night, late in October, Jamie had been out for a run in Holyrood Park. He was trying to keep his mind off of Claire, when he heard what appeared to be an argument between two people.

“You’re such a tease, Claire. What am I supposed to think when you dress like that and suggest we walk in the park after dinner?” It was Randall!

“Honestly, Frank. I’m 5’9”, everything is too short for me and I thought a walk in the park would be romantic. I didn’t expect you to put your hand up my skirt.”

Jamie was seething and using every ounce of energy to not jump through the bushes and throttle the man.

“Well, I’ve never been told no and I certainly won’t have a freshman denying me.” Randall then grabbed Claire and forced her up against a tree, while hiking up her skirt.

“Frank!” she screamed. “Stop! You’re hurting me!” Claire was desperately trying to pull her skirt back down, but Frank had her hands pinned above her head, while the other was unzipping his pants.

Claire was struggling to free herself when Jamie came running in and grabbed Frank by the back of the neck and threw him to the ground. Randall was slight for his age and Jamie was well-built and tall for his. He had four inches on Randall and at least thirty pounds. He put himself between Claire and Randall, fists clenched, ready to do whatever necessary.

“I heard the lass say no from thirty yards away, sae I ken ye heard it too. Leave Randall, now, and no harm will come to ye, but if I ever see ye touch Claire again, ye’ll have two black eyes and a broken nose…that’s a promise.”

Embarrassed and pissed, Frank rose and brushed himself off. “You can have her, but let me warn you before you pull out all the stops…she won’t put out. Damn prude that one.”

Jamie saw red and lunged at Frank, but Claire’s cries caused him to halt his advance, giving Randall time to retreat to his car.

Jamie would never forget the sight of Claire when he turned around. She was crumpled on the ground, shaking from the cold and fright of the situation, and sobbing…the sobbing is what tore him apart. Jamie remembered kneeling down and trying to put his arm around her, but she flinched at his touch and that broke his heart more than seeing her this upset.

“Ye need not be scairt of me, Claire…nor anyone else, as long as I’m with ye.”

Coming out of the memory he quickly poured himself a third dram and threw it back. His beautiful Claire. What he wouldn’t give to have her in his arms tonight to show her how loved she was and assure her that he would always keep her safe. This gig of assuming the role of Dr. Alexandra had seemed like a good idea at first. What he hadn’t prepared for was the flooding of memories that came during and after each show. Christ, how long can ye keep doing this tae yerself man, he asked himself every week, but his heart always had an answer…As long as it takes tae find her again.

Chapter Text

 

HITH

It was early Friday evening and Claire was already regretting her promise to Geillis. She was pleased with the smokey look she had pulled off with her eye make-up and the hair gods were with her as she had tamed her unruly curls into a classic updo, with just a few framing her face. But as she stood in her closet, wearing a strapless bra & matching thong, she was less than thrilled at the possibilities. She was scanning her wardrobe and desperately trying to avoid looking at the strapless, slinky black dress tucked into the back, but it was calling out to her like a beacon. The last time she had worn that dress had been the night she was accepted into medical school at Oxford.

“I’m sae proud of ye mo chridhe!” Jamie had said for the tenth time that evening.

“We all are darling!” her father had chimed in and her mother still had the smile on her face from earlier. “I’m ordering a bottle of champagne for the table.” Henry Beauchamp summoned a waiter over.

“Daddy! That’s not necessary, really,” Claire pleaded.

“It’s not everyday that our daughter is accepted into Oxford’s Medical School,” he reasoned and ordered a bottle for the table.

Claire looked helplessly at her mother, he just shrugged her shoulders. Jamie squeezed her leg under the table and leaned in to whisper in her ear. “Tonight we’re celebrating ye Sassenach. Just enjoy!” He kissed her temple and then whispered one more thing, “Oh and this wee piece of black fabric that ye call a dress, will look just fine on the floor next tae my bed later.”

Claire flushed immediately, reaching for her glass of water so her parents wouldn’t notice, all while Jamie slid his hand a little further up her leg, just under the hem of her dress.

“Stop it, Beauchamp! You have to let him go. He’s moved on and so should you.” Claire muttered to herself as she reached for the black dress, telling herself that it was just a piece of clothing. She knew it made her look hot and wasn’t that the point of going out to the pub? With one last look in the mirror, Claire grabbed her phone and scheduled an Uber. She and Geillis had agreed to meet at the pub and see where things went from there. When the Uber was only a few minutes away, Claire grabbed her clutch, threw in her phone and some cash, and made her way out the front door. She locked it behind her and headed out to meet the arriving Uber.

 

Jamie was standing at the sink in his bathroom, wearing nothing but boxers, surveying his face in the mirror, trying to decide if he should shave or not. He rubbed his chin between his thumb and index finger, assessing the three-day old scruff. He honestly didn’t feel like putting in the effort of shaving as he had no intention of getting close to any lass he met that evening. “But isn’t that why yer going to the pub…tae meet someone?” The reflection didn’t answer back, but a voice from his past did.

“Do not shave your beard,” Claire said as she walked up behind him.

Jamie had just started slathering shaving cream on one cheek, but his arm was stopped by a small hand that had snaked its way between his arm and abdomen. Unruly brown curls, followed by whisky colored eyes popped up over his shoulder and met his gaze in the mirror. Jamie knew that look, but thought he would tease her just a bit.

And why ever no’ lass?”

“Because I like how it feels.” Claire raised her eyebrows.

“Ye do, do ye? And just where, do ye like how it feels?” Jamie turned around to face her straight on. Claire ran her hands up his chest and pulled his face closer to hers.

“Here,” she said as she ran her smooth cheek against his. “Here,” she continued, as she brought his face further down to her neck. “And here,” she whispered, as she took his hand and brought it to the soft skin between her legs.

Jamie’s breathing hitched as he felt the warm expanse of her thigh, quickly realizing he was losing control of the situation as his erection made itself known by pressing into her stomach. He pulled back to see the fire in her eyes.

Jamie shook his head to rid himself of the vision of Claire, but it was not lost on him that his body had betrayed him and left him in the exact same state as the memory. It would have been quicker to just change his train of thought and keep getting ready, but his cock clearly didn’t agree. Jamie stripped off his boxers and turned on the shower. “Ye have tae stop doing this to yerself, Fraser,” he mumbled, but stepped into the steaming shower anyway. With the image of those whisky eyes and ivory skin, Jamie quickly found release. He then laid his head against the cold tiles of the shower wall and sighed. “It never feels as good as ye did, mo nighean donn.”

Jamie quickly finished his shower, toweled off, and decided not to shave. He threw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, boots, and his favorite leather jacket. He put his phone in his pocket and grabbed his keys. He had no intention of drinking too much, since he planned on coming home alone. Too much whisky and he couldn’t guarantee that would happen.

 

Claire stepped out of the Uber right at the entrance to The World’s End pub. It was the most popular place for singles in Edinburgh, and on a Friday night, there was already a line down the block to get in. She was pleased to see that Geillis was chatting it up with one of the bouncers, knowing full well that those emerald eyes and long red locks would get them in sooner rather than later. Claire smiled and thought to herself, Sorry fellas…if you only knew that she was more interested in the fairer sex. But Claire wasn’t opposed to Geillis’ ways. She knew her friend was a natural flirt and Claire often went along for the ride, if for no other reason than to just enjoy the show. Claire wished she could be more Geillis, in terms of self-confidence and risk-taking. Of course she probably wouldn’t be caught dead doing half of what Geillis did, but to even have the confidence to give her number to a guy tonight. That’s your goal, Beauchamp. If you can interact with a decent member of the opposite sex, give him your number. Just have to find one first. Claire was pulled from her thoughts by her friend’s shrill voice.

“There ye are, hen! I was waitin’ fer ye! My new friend Geordie here,” Geillis stroked said friend’s arm, “is going to let us, on the promise that I’ll buy him a drink later when he’s on his break.” Geillis flashed her award-winning smile in Geordie’s direction. Claire felt sorry for the poor man who was clearly smitten with this red-headed vixen, knowing full well that Geillis would make good on her word, all while sliding her hand up the slutty dress of the woman next to her.

“Thank you, Geordie. That’s awfully kind of you,” was all Claire allowed herself to say, as Geordie pulled back the red rope and ushered the two ladies in.

Once inside, the lights were turned down and the music was turned up. Bodies were pressed tight on the dance floor and the group in front of the bar was three deep with people waiting for drinks.

“I ken one of the bartenders working tonight. We had a fling before I met ye, but ended on good terms. She told me tae stop by if I came in tonight and that she would hook me up.” Geillis grabbed Claire’s hand and pulled her over to one of the smaller bars in the back of the pub. When Geillis made eye contact with the woman behind the bar, they were signaled over to the end.

“I see yer tastes have’na changed Geillis,” the female bartender said while looking Claire up and down. “Still like the fair skinned brunettes, aye?” The bartender smiled and winked at Claire.

“Actually I’ve been branching out! My last lass was a blonde, but this is my best friend, Claire! Claire, meet Louise.”

Claire smiled and extended her hand. “Pleased to meet you Louise!”

“Nice tae meet ye too, Claire. Sorry for implying -”

“No! It’s quite alright! While I do prefer red-heads,” Claire was shocked when those words made their way out of her mouth, “and I would be lucky to have the attentions of a woman as wonderful as G here, I have a thing for the ruggedly handsome highlanders.”

“Weel, I ken a few that will be making their way in tonight. I’ll send them yer way if I see them. Now, what will be startin’ off with? I’ll get a tab going fer the two of ye, so just make sure to keep coming back tae me.” Lousie winked at Geillis and Claire.

“Yer the best, Lou! I’ll start with a gin and tonic. Claire?”

“I’ll have a glass of yer best whisky please.”

After they had their drinks in hand, Claire and Geillis made their way to an area that had several couches in the back. The music wasn’t quite as loud here and they were able to chat a bit. Claire and Geillis were often on the same shift at work, but for the past few days, Geillis had been working nights. She had Thursday off, which meant she was ready to go out.

“I’m sae glad ye decided to come out, hen! I ken it’s hard fer ye, but this is a step in the right direction. While I dinna prefer a stiff cock, I do have a good eye for attractive people. Let’s see if ye can get a number tonight, hmm?”

Claire laughed, no longer embarrassed by Geillis’ blunt statements. The two had met in med school, Geillis specializing in cardio-thoracic and Claire in orthopedics. They became fast friends, after only a slightly embarrassing incident, when Geills had tried to kiss Claire. All was forgiven quickly and the two had been inseparable ever since. Geillis was the only one who had had a front row seat to Jamie and Claire’s break-up.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to getting a number tonight, or even giving mine,” Geillis’ eyebrow went up at that, “but please do not let me do anything rash. I have been out of the dating scene for so long, that I would prefer to simply dip my toes in tonight, if you will.”

“Whatever you say, love! Let’s enjoy our first drink and then will make a run at the dance floor.”

They clinked glasses and enjoyed people watching for the next few minutes.

 

Jamie picked up Rupert and Angus, knowing full well that they would need help getting home later. When they parked and walked up to The World’s End, they were disappointed by the line to get in, but then Angus noticed who was working the door.

“Och! It’s Geordie…I ken the guy from university. Geordie!” Angus called out as they approached.

“Angus, mate? Is that ye? It’s been a few months since I’ve seen ye here.” The two men clasped hands and slapped each other on the back.

“Aye, been busy with work, but it’s Friday night and we’re here tae have a bit of fun. This here is Rupert McKenzie and James Fraser.”

“Nice tae meet ye lads! I ken there’s a bit of a line, but let me see what I can do.” Geordie winked at the guys and ducked into the club for a minute. When he came back out, he had three bracelets and opened the rope to let the guys in. “My manager said it was alright tae let ye lads in. Have a great night!”

The three men all thanked Geordie, shook his hand, and then made their way inside. The place was packed and it felt like the last place Jamie wanted to spend his Friday evening, but he had given Rupert and Angus his word. Relax Fraser, a dram or two will not hurt. It’s Friday night and ye’ve worked hard all week, he reasoned with himself. Jamie asked the other two what they wanted from the bar and said he would wait in line, while they made their way onto the dancefloor. Jamie was not one for dancing…perhaps it was that he towered over his partners or that his size fourteen feet simply didn’t allow him to float across the dancefloor. Either way, he was content to stand in line at the bar.

After about twenty minutes, Jamie had two bottles of Tennent’s and a dram of whisky in his hands. This was one of those times that Jamie was thankful for his size; people parted when they saw him coming, so he easily made his way to a hightop and set the drinks down. He was scanning the dancefloor for Rupert and Angus, to let them know he had a table and their drinks. It was a sea of bodies out there, and with the lights turned down, it was difficult to make out who was who. As he continued to look through the crowd, he went to take a sip of whisky, but his arm froze half way up to his mouth. He set the glass down and blinked a few times, to be sure that he hadn’t imagined it.

About twenty yards away was a feisty red-hand, grinding against a woman with ivory skin and a beautiful head of brown curls…some of which had come loose while she was dancing. Here back was to him, but he would know that beautiful, round ass anywhere. And the dress. …oh the dress!

“Christ Sassenach! I’ve never seen ye look sexier than ye did tonight.”

They had finished dinner and bid the Beauchamps good evening, with a promise to have fun and be safe. They had barely made it back to Jamie’s cottage before he was sliding the silky black dress up over her head.

“I told ye it would look good on the floor by my bed,” Jamie said in a husky voice as he discarded it and grabbed Claire by the arse and lifted her up.

She immediately wrapped those long, beautiful legs around his torso and had started grinding against his erection. “I need you, Jamie…inside me, now. Oh God please!” She was begging for him, all while reaching behind her back to undo her bra. As her perky, milk-colored breasts appeared in front of his face, it was all he could do to not rip her thong in half and thrust his way home.

“Fuck,” Jamie hissed when he realized that he was quickly going to have a rather large problem at hand if he didn’t stop thinking about that night. Afraid to turn the other way, for fear that she would disappear, he quickly threw back his dram and then wiped his hands down his face. When he focused on her again, he noticed a older gentleman had come up and started dancing with her as well. If he lays a hand on her, I swear I’ll kill him, was all Jamie could think.

Suddenly, Rupert and Angus appeared at the table. “Thanks, mate!” Angus had said as he picked up his bottle of Tennet’s and took a long swig. Rupert had also taken a sip, but noticed that Jamie hadn’t said a word when they walked up. He looked at Jamie’s face and then followed his line of sight. There was a beautiful red-head and a gorgeous brunette dancing together on the dance floor.

“Weel, I was thinking if we could hook ye up with one lass that would be a success, but a fucking threesome?! Jamie-lad, get in there!” Rupert said, while slapping him on the back.

Angus was now looking over there as well. “I already see a guy with them,” he gestured out to the floor.

Jamie still hadn’t said a word, but hadn’t taken his eyes off of her either. Just turn around Sassenach, Jamie was pleading, but she was clearly enjoying herself. Perhaps more so than Jamie would have liked to see. Maybe she had moved on. Maybe this whole ruse of Dr. Alexandra had been for nothing. No, no…I ken her mind, body, and soul. Just turn around mo nighean donn. Let me see yer face and I’ll ken it has’na been fer naught.

“Umm, Earth tae Jamie? What’s going on?” Rupert had waved a hand in front of Jamie’s face and Angus was looking at him as well. Jamie stared blankly at the two men. “What has ye sae spooked, mate?” Angus chimed in.

Jamie turned back to where Claire was dancing. He tried to speak, but no words would come out. He reached for Rupert’s beer, finished it in one swallow, then tried again. “The brunette,” he croaked out, “is Claire. My Claire.”

Chapter Text

HITH

Rupert and Angus just stood there watching Jamie, who had yet to take his eyes off of Claire and the man dancing with her. No one spoke for several minutes and they just watched as Claire continued to dance. She seemed so carefree and appeared to really be enjoying herself.

Jamie had been waiting for this moment for the last six years, but now that it was here, he wasn’t sure what to do. Should he go up to her? She was clearly having a good time and he didn’t want to ruin her evening…would he ruin her evening? Who was the man that was dancing with her? Then it dawned on him…I’m a fucking eejit! How could I think that a lass like Claire would still be single, he berated himself. James Fraser was not a man who often found himself at a complete loss for what to do, but this was one of those rare times. Sighing, he turned around and walked toward the entrance of the bar, with Rupert and Angus chasing after him.

“What are ye doing, mate?” Rupert asked incredulously. “This is your Claire! The one ye’ve been looking for! Why are ye leaving?”

“Did ye no’ see her with the other guy?” Jamie hissed back. “How could I have been that stupid…thinking she’d just be pining away fer me?”

“How do ye know she’s with him? They may have just met!” Angus tried to reason.

“But did ye see how happy she was? I promised that I would never be the one tae cause her pain…” his voice trailed off.

“This is the third weekend in a row Jamie!” Claire, who was frustrated and near tears, cried into her phone.

“I ken that, and I told ye I was sorry. It’s no’ my fault that DJ came down with the flu and they need me to cover his weekend shifts. It's a braw chance for me.”

“I know, but you promised! We haven’t seen each other in over three weeks!”

“Ye could come here for once.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth he regretted them. He knew she couldn’t just disappear for a weekend, but the fact that he was always expected to go to her had started to wear on him.

“Oh right, because I can just pick up and leave my shifts and patients. Christ, Jamie! It’s bad enough that we haven’t seen each other in almost a month and now you want to make me feel guilty about the fact that I never come see you?! Maybe if you weren’t constantly promising to come see me, I wouldn’t be disappointed.” Her voice was becoming shrill.

“That’s not fair, Claire, and ye ken it. I was’na trying tae make ye feel guilty. Believe me, I will’na make the mistake of promising ye again. I’m sorry fer being such a disappointment.” Jamie bellowed back.

It was silent on the line for a full minute before Claire spoke between clenched teeth. “I’m going to be late for my rounds. We can talk about this later.”

Jamie should have let it go…he knew better than to antagonize her, but he was pissed. “Will we? Ye always say we’ll talk about it. About how frustrated we are, what we want to do to make it work, but when the time comes, ye brush it off.”

“I think it would be best, if I hung up now. Goodbye Jamie.” And she was gone.

Looking back, Jamie was surprised it had taken them that long to have an argument about not seeing each other as regularly as they had planned. He knew between the two of them he had the more flexible schedule, but the fact that Claire had just assumed that his job was not as important had really hurt at the time, but now? Jamie would give anything to go back in time and keep his promises to Claire.

Jamie looked at his friends. “I ken she’s in the area, aye? That’s a start. I’ll have tae bide my time. The last thing I said tae her was that I would never be the cause of her pain again, and I meant it.”

Rupert and Angus looked at each other, before Angus spoke up. “Are we continuing with the show still?”

“Aye, I think we will. At least we ken she could be listening!” Despite the turmoil going on in his head, Jamie was more hopeful than he had been in years. His Claire was here, in Edinburgh!

“Alright,” Rupert said, while running his hand through his hair. “We’ll follow yer lead on this, but I hope ye ken what yer doing. I guess we’re no’ going back in?”

Jamie felt guilty. “Christ! I drove the two of ye. Do ye want me tae give some cash for an Uber home? I dinna want tae ruin yer evening…it’s early still.”

“Let’s just head tae a different pub. Play some pool or darts, enjoy some drinks?” Angus suggested.

“If I go back in there, I canna promise I will’na go up tae yer lass and tell ‘er ye’ve been pining away,” Rupert added.

Jamie looked horrified by that suggestion, but before he could say anything, Rupert and Angus started laughing uncontrollably. “Ye should have seen yer face!” Angus howled.

“If the two of ye shut yer gobs now, the first round’s on me, aye?” Jamie raised an eyebrow at his friends.

“Deal!” they said simultaneously. They headed towards Jamie’s truck and decided to go to Hellwater Pub.

 

Claire had been thoroughly enjoying herself, until the man had come up behind her. At first, she just continued dancing with Geillis, subtly hinting that she wasn’t interested. After several minutes, the man moved in closer and Claire started to feel uneasy. She was trying to make eye contact with her friend, but Geillis’ attention had been drawn to the voluptuous blond that had been next to them. Claire went to move closer to Geillis, when two large hands grabbed her hips. She flipped around and was face to face with an older gentleman. She went to push his hands away, but he wouldn’t let go.

“Take your hands off of me,” Claire said between gritted teeth.

“Och, what’s a pretty sassenach like ye doing here in Scotland?” The smell of whisky on his breath was almost enough to intoxicate Claire from where she was standing, but the term that he used is what caused her to pause.

Claire turned around, “What did you call me?”

They were sitting in freshman English and the tall, red-head had just asked her a question. He blushed, before saying, “I meant no disrespect lass. It’s just yer accent, I ken ye are’na from around these parts, making ye a ‘sassenach’...an outlander.”

Claire was listening to him, but she was having a hard time concentrating with those sapphire blue eyes staring at her. “Well, as long as you meant no offense, then yes, I do have a pencil you can borrow.” She smiled as she dug into her bag and grabbed on to hand him.

“Thank ye, Sassenach, truly. Now I can finish my assignment.” He then blinked both eyes at her, in what she could only assume was an attempt at a wink.

Claire would have remained in that memory, had the gentleman’s hands not started to wander further south. “Let go of me you fucking bastard!”

Geillis turned at that and dove for the man, shoving him hard in the chest. “The lass said leave her alone! Do ye have a problem with that?”

The disturbance had caused Geordie to come rushing in and when he saw the red-head who had promised him a drink, he immediately came to her aid. “What’s amiss?”

“This jackass is making unwanted advances towards my friend here.” Geillis explained.

Geordie turned to see who the advances were coming from. “Dougal McKenzie! I’ve thrown ye out twice in the past six months for being too forward with the lasses.”

Just then, the owner of the clue appeared. “What seems to be the problem, Geordie?”

“I’m sorry ye were disturbed Mr. Willoughby, but this gentleman canna seem to keep his hands tae himself.”

“Then throw him out,” and looking McKenzie in the eye, Willoughby added, “if I ever see you in my club again, I will call the authorities.” With that, the owner turned towards Claire. “My apologies, miss. Please let me cover your tab, along with your friend here. Who has been taking care of you?”

Claire was quite shaken by everything that had transpired, so Geillis stepped in. “Louise, at the bar in the back.”

“Of course, I will see to it immediately. I do hope we see you ladies again in the future and this does not deter you from coming back to the World’s End.”

“Thank ye, Mr. Willoughby. We appreciate that,” Geillis said, shaking his hand.

Once McKenzie had been escorted out, Geillis took Claire by the elbow and walked her over to one of the couches. The blond that had been dancing with Geillis, followed at a slight distance. “I ken yer friend needs ye, but I wanted tae give ye my number. Give me a call some time.” She winked and then left Geillis to tend to Claire.

“Are ye alright, hen?” Geillis was rubbing Claire’s upper arm. “Yer shaking sae hard yer making my teeth rattle.”

“I’m…I’m sorry G. I know you were hoping to take that girl home, but -”

“Absolutely not, Claire. Dinna go there. Yer my best friend and I would never pick a lass over ye. Let’s get ye home, alright?”

“I know you aren’t ready to leave, but yes, please take me home.” Claire was trying very hard to keep herself together, but she kept thinking about being attacked in high school. The image of Jamie leaning over her, after saving her from Frank, was so vivid in her mind, she had to keep looking around to make sure he wasn’t there.

As Geillis and Claire were making their way out of the club, the blond came back over. “I’m heading over to Hellwater, if ye feel like meeting me later?”

Before Geillis could find a reason to say no, Claire spoke up. “She would love to! She’s just going to drop me off at home first.” Claire looked at Geillis and dared her to argue.

Realizing she wasn’t going to win, Geillis smiled back at the blond. “I would love that! I’m sorry, though, I did’na catch yer name.”

“It’s Laogherie. Laogherie McKenzie. No relation, I swear!”

“Nice tae meet ye, Laogherie. As my friend Claire here has already said, my name is Geillis.”

The two ladies smiled at one another and Geillis promised to call Laoghaire when she was leaving Claire’s.

Twenty minutes later, Geillis had Claire home and in a comfortable pair of sweats and an old t-shirt, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea. “Just say the word, Claire and I’ll call Laoghaire right now and tell her I canna come.”

“You are such a wonderful friend G, and I love you for offering, but I will not ruin your evening. Until the… incident… I was having fun, so thank you for pushing me to go out. It’s just going to take me some more time to get back into the swing of things.” Claire smiled at her friend.

“Alright, but make sure tae lock the door behind me. I’ll call ye in the morning?”

“You better! I’ll want details!” Claire hugged her friend and kissed her on the cheek. “Have fun and be safe!”

“Always!” and with that, Geillis was gone.

 

Claire settled back on to the couch and sipped her tea. She turned on the television, hoping to focus on anything other than the events that had transpired over the last hour, but her mind drifted back to that horrible night in the park.

Claire was sobbing and shaking when Jamie tried to reach down and help her up. She had flinched when he touched her and she could see the hurt in his eyes. The last thing she wanted was to hurt Jamie, but the thought of a man’s hands on her, made her want to be physically ill.

She had pushed herself up into a sitting position and tried to pull her skirt down to a respectable length. Jamie had blushed, but quickly took his long-sleeved shirt off and threw it over her lap.

“Jamie, it’s too cold for you to be out here without a shirt on! Really, I’m ok.”

“It’s fine Sassenach. Besides, I dinna ken how long we’ll be sitting here and I’m still sweating from my run.”

As if realizing that she now had no way of getting home, a fresh wave of tears fell down her face.

Jamie made to put his arm around her but stopped. Claire leaned her head against his shoulder instead.

“What can I do Claire?”

“Could I trouble you to take me home? Clearly my ride has left and -”

“Is that what yer worrit about?! Do I look like the type of man who would leave a lass out here alone?! In the park, hurt, with no way to get home? My mam would box my ears! No' to mention what my da would do to me! I thought ye kent me better than that, Sassenach.”

“No, of course not, and yes, I do, I…I just didn’t want to assume.”

They were quiet for a few more minutes before Claire spoke up. “I feel so stupid,” she whispered.

“Tis no’ yer fault lass,” Jamie whispered back.

“I should have known better than to wear something like this. It’s my fault, I must have given him the wrong impression.”

Jamie clenched his fists at his sides and took a long breath in before responding. “Claire, look at me.” He waited for her to meet his eyes. “This is no’ yer fault, do ye hear me? Ye asked him tae stop and he did’na.”

“It’s a cool October evening! Why did I just not wear some skinny jeans, boots, and a sweater?” She started crying all over again.

Jamie leaned his head against hers and whispered soothing Gaelic in her ear, “Gabh fois do cheann a ghràidh. Tha mi an seo. Tha mi an seo. Cha robh e airidh ort.”

From that point on, Jamie and Claire had been inseparable, starting out as friends and then the relationship became so much more, reaching a level neither of them even knew existed.

Without realizing it, tears had started flowing down her cheeks again. Claire wasn’t really sure if she was upset about tonight or the night back at the park. She couldn’t help but wonder how she would feel if a familiar, red-headed Scot was sitting next to her on the couch, whispering Gaelic to her right now. Claire always loved when Jamie would whisper to her…the cadence of his voice, the Scottish burr, and even when she couldn’t understand the words, she could feel the love behind them. “So much for moving on tonight Beauchamp. I feel like I’ve just gone ten steps backwards.” She blew her nose and stood up to carry her cup over to the sink. As she was shuffling out of the kitchen, a thought occurred to her. “I wonder what Dr. Alexandra would think of my predicament? A thirty-year old, successful, single female who is so hung up on her ex, she cannot bring herself to date anyone else. Yeah, pathetic.” Claire had always loved listening to the show, and was starting to consider calling in for some advice. Hundreds of people probably called in all the time, so the odds of her getting to speak with Dr. Alexandra were slim. It’s worth a shot Beauchamp…you’ve got nowhere to go but up.

Chapter Text

HITH
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Geillis had been hesitant to leave Claire, but she knew her friend wanted to be alone. Nothing had actually happened, but she was aware that tonight’s events had caused some of Claire’s darkest memories to resurface.

Pulling up outside Hellwater, Geillis texted Laogherie asking if she was here. Three little dots immediately popped up, followed by Laogherie’s response of “Aye, at the bar.”

Geillis walked in and immediately took a seat next to Laogherie at the bar.

“Gin and tonic please.” After a long sip, Geillis looked at Laogherie.

“How’s yer friend?”

“She’ll be alright…just brought up some bad memories. But enough of that, I’d like tae learn more about ye, lass.” Geillis rested her hand on Laogherie’s thigh and gave her a dazzling smile. Laogherie reached down and interlaced their hands together.

“What is it ye want tae know?”

 

The two women spent the next half hour drinking and getting to know one another. They were in their own little world and oblivious to all that was going on around them, until a large man came up next to Geillis to order a drink.

“I’ll take two more Tennent's and another dram of whisky.” The gentleman was leaning against the bar, behind Geillis. Normally she would not have thought twice about turning to look at a man, but something about his voice seemed familiar and his mere presence drew her to turn around.

“Och, I’m sor-,” the man froze when the red-headed lass turned around. He had thought he had accidentally bumped into her, but those piercing green eyes were the last sight he had expected to see.

“Jamie! This is my friend Geillis! We have several classes together and she’s been a lifesaver with studying.”

“Nice tae meet ye…James Fraser.” Jamie was in town for the weekend and it was the first time he had met Geillis. For a slight woman, he was rather impressed with her firm handshake, but it was the green eyes that made him feel uneasy. It was as if she was sizing him up to see if he was all Claire had hyped him up to be.

“Pleasure, Jamie. I’ve heard a lot about ye. Our girl here is head over heels in love with ye.”

Claire blushed and leaned in closer to Jamie. “Alright, G. Maybe the love of your life is here tonight…we just have to find her.”

Jamie looked at Claire and raised his eyebrow. She winked back at him and grabbed his hand to bring him over to the bar. While they were waiting in line Jamie leaned in to whisper in Claire’s ear.

“Geillis is into the lasses then?”

“She is…does that bother you?”

“Of course no’! It just explains the look she was giving me earlier.”

“Oh and what look was that?”

“One I’m no’ likely tae forget. I swear she was sizing me up tae see if I was good enough fer ye. I think she’d be more than happy tae take my place.” Jamie blinked at Claire, still unable to master the wink.

“Oh darling, you are utterly ridiculous. Geillis and I are just friends, but she is protective of me. She knows how much I love you and would hate to see my heart broken.”

The look those green eyes were giving him now were not one of caution, but of complete disbelief. They continued to stare at each other until the bartender broke the uneasy silence.

“Sir? Yer drinks?”

Jamie blinked a few times and then turned to accept the drinks, nodding his thanks, before turning back. The pair of green eyes were watching his every move.

“Yer here?!” Geillis whispered.

“Aye,” was all Jamie could say. He looked around, realizing that Claire was nowhere to be seen, and turned back to Geillis. “Where’s Claire?”

Geillis gave him a hard stare, not willing to just give information up that easily.  “How do ye ken she’s even here in Edinburgh?” She knew her best friend was desperate to see this man again, but she had to be sure that Jamie was interested in more than just seeing her. Claire’s heart had been shattered by this man once and Geillis would be damned if she let it happen again.

“I saw ye with her earlier.” He said it so matter-of-factly that Geillis had to ask him to repeat what he had said. “I saw ye two at the World’s End. I’m guessing Claire and her boyfriend went home early.” Jamie was gritting his teeth.

“Boyfriend?!” Geillis launched herself off the stool and stood chest to chest with Jamie Fraser. She may have been a foot shorter than he was, but she wasn’t scared of him. “That bastard assaulted Claire, or tried tae.”

“What?!” roared Jamie.

“Calm the fuck down, would ye? I took care of her…I always do. I’m the one who was there tae pick up the pieces of her broken heart. Where were ye? Spreading them across bracken an' heather so tha' she may never find them all again?!” Geillis challenged.

At this point, the pair had quite an audience. Rupert and Angus had come up behind Laogherie, none of them had any intention of stepping in between the two red-heads.

Jamie was fuming, but he needed to know what had happened to Claire, so he was desperately trying to get his temper in check. He knew Geillis wouldn’t tell him anything if he didn’t calm down. “Geillis, please,” Jamie pleaded. “Is she ok?”

Geillis could tell Jamie was genuinely concerned about Claire, but she wasn’t about to just give him what he wanted. After all the pain he had put her best friend through, she felt he could suffer a bit as well. “Why do ye care? She’s no longer yer concern.” She raised her eyebrow at Jamie and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Don’t, Geillis.” Jamie’s voice was dangerously low. “Ye were there. Ye ken I would have fought fer her, but she made it clear that she did’na want me tae.”

“Really, because that’s now how I remember it.”

Claire had just come home from a double shift and she was practically dead on her feet. She unlocked her door and was surprised to see two red-heads on the couch.

“Jamie? What are you doing here?”

“I thought I would surprise ye,” he said as he stood and moved towards her. “I kent how upset ye were last weekend when I could’na come up.”

“Yes, but I told you I was working a double yesterday and had another shift tomorrow. I won’t even be here, except to sleep.” Claire said as she yawned.

“I dinna mind just staying in bed,” Jamie smiled.

“You aren’t hearing me Jamie.” Claire’s voice rising. “I swear, do you even listen when we are on the phone?”

Jamie was caught off guard. Last weekend she was upset that he had promised to come, but then got called into work. This weekend, he knew she had to work, but still wanted to surprise her. “Christ Claire! Is there no’ pleasin’ ye?! I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I kent how upset ye were about last weekend, so I thought I would surprise ye. I ken ye have tae work, but I thought we could spend time together when ye were home.”

Geillis had been watching the entire exchange. She knew Jamie was trying, but she also knew that Claire was fed up. Trying to have a relationship, while in med school was tough. Trying to have a long-distance relationship, while in med school, seemed impossible. She knew the two people before her were deeply in love, maybe more than they actually realized, but this wasn’t working…not now anyway. She kept her mouth shut, her two cents could only cause more strife.

“And I told you I would be sleeping! Or studying…that’s all I do these days. Work, eat, sleep, study. It’s a never-ending cycle!”

“Aye and one ye chose.” The air in the room was electric. Jamie and Claire each buzzing with their own pent up frustration, both on the verge of exploding at any minute, so when Claire spoke in a quiet, calm voice, Geillis knew how serious it was. “I can’t do this anymore Jamie,” Claire whispered.

“Ye can Sassenach and ye will. Ye were meant tae be a doctor.” He moved towards her, arms open to embrace her, but she stepped back.

“That’s…that’s not what I meant.” Claire stood up straighter, determined to not break. “I can’t do THIS anymore.” She was gesturing between Jamie and herself.

“What do ye mean? Ye only have a year and a half of med school left and NOW ye want tae give up on us?!” Jamie couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Geillis remained on the couch, knowing she would have to pick up the pieces, but it wasn’t her place to interject, on either side.

“I think you should leave Jamie. Please.” Claire stepped aside so she was no longer blocking the door.

He continued to stare at her, but Claire refused to meet his eyes. He could see them glistening and he knew she was upset. He didn’t think she truly wanted this, but if he loved her as much as he had always told her, he would have to let her go.

“I’ll love ye ‘til the day I die, mo chridhe. I’m sorry fer the hurt I’ve caused ye. At least I’ll no’ longer be the cause of yer pain.”

“You both gave up on each other Jamie,” Geillis said.

There were tears in Jamie’s eyes and he looked down at Geillis. “Please tell me if she’s ok, G.”

Geillis let out a sigh. “Aye, she’s alright. Guy got a bit handsy, but it was addressed quickly. Turns out he’s been thrown out of The World’s End twice before fer similar behavior.” Geillis was watching Jamie’s reaction. “Unfortunately, it brought up painful memories.”

Jamie’s eyes closed and he muttered, “Thank Christ!” He was thankful that she wasn’t physically hurt, but it pained him that she was still plagued by those memories. Ye should’na have been a coward, Fraser. She needed ye and ye just walked away. He was furious with himself, but he would have to deal with that later. “Why did ye leave her alone?”

“She assured me that she was ok. Plus,” Geillis looked over her shoulder and smiled at Laogherie, who had been taking everything in. “Plus, she told me to go and have a good time.” Geillis turned back to Jamie and prepared to go in for the kill. “Ye ken I would have stayed with her…I love her as much as ye do.”

Geillis let that statement sink in. Jamie was a master at hiding his emotions, except when it came to Claire. A single tear fell down his cheek and he smiled at Geillis.

“Aye…I do.”

Chapter Text

HITH

That was the response Geills had been hoping to hear, but she kept her excitement to herself.

“Weel then, fox cub, what are ye going tae do about it?”

“I honestly hadn’t gotten that far yet, G. I have spent the last six years wondering what I would do or say if I ever got the chance to see Claire again.” Jamie blushed. “Christ, I actually started a radio talk show, hoping she might be out there listening.”

Geillis raised her eyebrow at this, with a slight look of confusion on her face.

“Heartbroken in the Highlands…it’s broadcast every Thursday night,” Jamie said quietly.

“Aye, I ken the show. Claire never misses it, but that’s no’ you. It’s a lassie doing the show.”

Jamie’s heart leapt when he heard that Claire had been listening. Jesus, Sassenach! Ye’ve never picked up on the fact that all the scenarios I talk about were about us? He looked at Geillis with a wicked grin on his face. “A lassie’s voice, aye, but it’s me doing the talking. The studio has a voice enhancer.”

Geillis sank down onto her barstool. Laogherie handed her a drink and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Mary, Michael, and Bride,” she let out in a single breath and then threw back the rest of her drink. She took a minute to compose herself and then looked back at Jamie. “Yer telling me, that every Thursday night, ye sit in a studio…change your voice to sound like a lass, and talk about relationship issues with people that call in?”

Jamie nodded and shoved his hands in his pockets. This was when Rupert felt the need to chime in, coming from behind Laogherie to stand next to Jamie.

“He owns the studio! Most of the time he’s sittin’ up in his braw office doin’ paperwork, but every once in awhile, he finds time to come hang out with us DJs.” He winked at Jamie to show support. Angus nodded enthusiastically and came to stand on Jamie’s other side.

“I recognize yer voice!” Laogherie smiled at Rupert! "I listen tae ye every morning while driving tae work. Yer the only thing that can make a half hour drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic bearable.”

“Och, thank ye! I love what I do and I’m glad that comes through!”

Jamie had kept his attention on Geillis, waiting for her to say something. It was obvious that she was still processing everything that had transpired in the last few minutes. He reached out and lightly touched her upper arm. “Geillis?”

“Hmm?” She focused back on Jamie, narrowing her eyes, just slightly.

“I never stopped loving her G. Ye have to believe me. I’ve been second-guessing every decision that I made for the past six years. I’ve tried, tae move on, but life just is’na as bright, without my Sorcha in it.”

Geillis’ expression softened. “Then what are ye waiting for?! Give her a call!” She pulled out her phone and went to her favorites to pull up Claire’s number.

Jamie put a hand on Geillis’, causing her to pause. “It’s late and I ken she has’na had the best night. If she’s fallin’ asleep, I’ll no’ wake her up. I need tae be sure of her feelings fer me Geillis. Ye remember how things went when I surprised her that last weekend. I could’na take it, if it were to end up as more of the same.”

“Aye, but take my word fer it. She misses ye terribly. I beg her tae come out every weekend, but she’s no’ interested. She still loves ye, even if she won’t admit it out loud.”

Jamie smiled. “She never was one to admit her feelings, at least not first.”

Henry & Julia Beauchamp were sitting on the couch when the door opened and Claire stepped inside. Jamie had just dropped her off, and they had spent a good fifteen minutes saying goodbye on the front stoop.

“You look like you had a wonderful time darling.” Julia was smiling at her daughter.

“It was wonderful! Just when I think the evening’s date cannot possibly top the last one, Jamie surprises me!”

Henry looked up at that and raised his eyebrow. “I trust he's been nothing but a… gentleman?”

“Daddy! Of course he has! Jamie would never pressure me into anything and he treats me as if I were made of glass. Sometimes I think he’s afraid to touch me, for fear of you.” Claire had a slight teasing tone to her voice, but there was some truth in what she was saying.

“As he should,” Henry nodded and went back to his newspaper.

Julia stood up and ushered Claire into the kitchen. “A cuppa before bed?”

“Thanks Mum, that would be lovely.”

As the tea was brewing, Julia sat down across from her daughter at the kitchen table. She had noticed that Claire had not stopped smiling since she came home.

“I know you always have a good time out with Jamie, but something seems different tonight. If possible, you are happier than usual.”

Claire was practically giddy and grabbed her mother’s hands and squeezed. “He told me he loved me tonight! I was so relieved! I knew my feelings for Jamie were strong, but I hadn’t been able to admit to myself that I was in love with him…until tonight.” Claire sighed and closed her eyes, the smile still on her face. “It was right before I came into the house. He gave me another kiss and just said it. I guess I needed to hear him say it first.”

“That’s wonderful lovey! I’m so happy for you two!”

“I’m happy for me too, Mum! I’ve never felt like this before and I hope it never ends.”

“Sae what’s the plan…Romeo?” Geillis jabbed Jamie in the ribs with her elbow.

“Honestly, I’m no’ sure yet. I’m afraid tae just pick up where we left off. We both said some hurtful things.” Jamie paused, considering his next words very carefully. “I need ye tae trust me, G. Please let me handle this, at my own pace. Can ye promise me that won’t tell Claire we spoke?”

Geillis looked at Jamie thinking. “It’s no’ my place tae interfere, so I’ll keep my mouth shut. But-”

“I kent there would be a ‘but’,” Jamie laughed.

Geillis narrowed her eyes at Jamie. “But, if ye fuck this up James Fraser, ye’ll have me tae deal with.”

Jamie bit the inside of his cheek to keep his face stoic. The last thing he wanted to do was upset Claire’s best friend, and while he physically was not afraid of Geillis Duncan, he certainly did not want to be on the receiving end of her fury. “I will’na, no…I canna fuck this up. Geillis, ye have my word. Claire means too much tae me, which is why I want tae take it slow. Simply knowing she’s here in Edinburgh has made my heart lighter.”

Once Jamie and Geillis had finished their conversation, Jamie bought the group a round of drinks and then headed home. His mind was racing with how he could clue Claire into the fact that he was Dr. Alexandra. He hoped she would be listening to the show this week. Trust the process Fraser. Just knowing she’s here and has been listening tae the show is more than ye ever could have hoped fer.

Jamie fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. It was the first time in six years that he went to bed full of hope and eager for what the coming week would bring.

Chapter Text

HITH

Claire had worked eight days straight and was practically asleep on her feet as she made her way to her car at the end of her shift on Thursday. She was looking forward to the next two days off as these had been some of her most grueling shifts yet.

She had lost a patient to a post-op infection on Monday, which seemed to have set the tone for the week. There were complications in several surgeries, ornery patients giving physical therapists and nurses alike a hard time, and to top it off, Claire had the odd feeling that Geillis was avoiding her. Claire was on days this week, while Geillis had been on nights, but they usually tried to get together at shift change for a cup of coffee at least once or twice. Each time Claire saw Geillis, her best friend had been friendly, but evasive. Claire had finally texted, asking if everything was ok. Geillis assured her it was and she was just busy with work and had been spending most of her free time with Laogherie.

Claire was happy for her friend, but selfishly, she was sad that she didn’t have more of her attention. Claire chided herself all the way to her favorite Chinese place You’re being ridiculous Beauchamp. She deserves happiness. Just because you’re pathetic and sitting at home alone, doesn’t mean Geillis should be. She knew that Chinese take-out, a bottle of wine, and Dr. Alexandra would make for a perfect evening. Or at least one where she could attempt to feel better about her own social woes, while listening to others’ relationship issues. Claire was hoping, after a little liquid courage, she would feel bold enough to call into the show herself. It wasn’t the first time she had relied on liquid courage to do something. As she exited the Chinese restaurant, her mind began to drift.

“No’ like this Sassenach. Yer drunk.”

“I am (hiccup) not. Buzzed, most definitely, but I AM not drunk. Besides, I’m still standing and you said if I was drunk that wouldn’t be the case.”

Jamie eyed Claire carefully, assessing her inebriation. True, she was still standing and her golden eyes were still focusing on his azure ones. “Are ye sure Sassenach? I dinna want ye tae do anything ye are’na ready for.”

“I’m sure Jamie. I’m nervous, but I’m sure. I’ve never wanted anyone more.”

“Weel, that makes two of us. I’ve wanted ye more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life. I dinna ken exactly what I’m doing, but what we dinna ken, we’ll learn…together.”

Claire cupped Jamie’s face. “I love you.” She leaned in and kissed him, Jamie was able to taste the sweet whisky on her tongue.

He laid her down on the plaid he had brought with him on their evening picnic on the northern edge of his family’s property. He had hoped tonight would be the night, but he would never pressure Claire into anything she wasn’t ready for. He had filled one of his Da’s flasks and brought it with them. They may both need a little bit of liquid courage tonight.

The whisky had loosened him up, but it had made Claire positively glow. Her cheeks were rosy and her inhibitions lowered just enough that she wasn’t over thinking every decision.

Jamie deepened the kiss and moved on top of Claire as she willingly spread her legs inviting him to take the next step.

Jamie broke the kiss, pulling back to look into Claire’s eyes. “I want ye Claire. I want ye so bad I can scarcely breathe. Will ye have me?”

“Yes,” Claire panted, pulling him back down to her lips. “Yes, I’ll have you.”

Lost in the beautiful memory of her and Jamie’s first time, Claire hadn’t realized that she had arrived home and pulled into her drive. Shaking her head to clear the memory, she grabbed her food, and made her way into the cottage, turning on the lights as she went. She quickly changed out of her scrubs and into some sweats, knowing she would soak in the tub later, feeling the need for a little pampering. Claire took out one of her nice china plates and a crystal goblet to continue the pampering and served up her food before pouring a generous glass of merlot. Lighting a couple of candles, Claire settled herself at the table and then using her iHeart radio app, had Alexa tune into the radio station that broadcasted Dr. Alexandra’s show. It was a few minutes before eight, so Claire enjoyed listening to the rest of the song that was currently playing. After some local advertisements, a familiar voice came over the speaker.

“Thank ye fer joining us tonight. I’m Dr. Alexandra and I’m here to help all of ye who are Heartbroken in the Highlands. Phone lines are open, we would love tae hear from ye. Looks like Line 1 is already flashing. Good evening, who so I have the pleasure of speakin’ with?”

“M-my name is M-Mary,” the young girl stammered.

“Hallo lass! How can I help ye this evening?”

Mary proceeded to slowly describe her situation to Dr. Alexandra, who listened with the patience of a saint. Again, Claire was startled to hear a similar situation to one she had been in…Mary and her boyfriend were in college and trying to make long distance work. They hadn’t seen each other for several weeks and Mary was upset that when she surprised him at his apartment, he wasn’t thrilled to see her.

“I was in a similar situation, Mary. My boyfriend and I were at separate colleges and hadn’t seen each other for almost a month. I decided to surprise him one weekend, knowing that he was busy, but assumed it wouldn’t matter. That was my biggest mistake…assuming that he would drop everything for me. It was like telling him that I did’na respect his work or it was’na important. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of the end fer us. I often look back and think if we had only communicated better, perhaps things would have ended differently. Talk with him, make sure he knows you appreciate what he does. Thank ye fer calling, Mary. I wish ye luck.”

A couple of other callers and two glasses of wine later, Claire had her phone in her hand and was contemplating calling in. “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ, Beauchamp. What are you afraid of…being called out for being pathetic? Maybe that’s what you need.” Claire quickly downed her third glass of wine and pressed the dial button on her phone. It rang four times and she was getting ready to hit end, when a deep Scottish voice answered the phone. “Dr. Alexandra’s hotline, may I ask yer name and what your story is?”

“Hello, my name is Claire. I guess I’m suffering from a broken heart and was hoping Dr. Alexandra may have some advice for moving on.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line, long enough that Claire cautiously said, “Hello?”

“Aye, I’m here lass, sorry! Yes, we’ll patch ye through after this next commercial break. Just remain on hold if ye will.”

“Of course, thank you!” Claire poured herself another glass of wine in the meantime. “Here goes nothing, Beauchamp.”

 

Angus had just switched off Jamie’s mic and gone to commercial break. Jamie stood to stretch and grab a bottle of water, when he noticed Rupert banging on the glass. Jamie gave his friend a questioning look and then Rupert held up a piece of paper that simply said ‘Claire’.

Jamie’s eyes went as round as a twenty-pound piece and he mouthed back, “My Claire?”

All Rupert could do was shrug and that was when Angus’ voice came back over the speaker saying they were back on in ten seconds.

No time to stress about it now, Fraser. This is what ye were hoping fer, sae just do what ye’ve been doing for the past few years. Talk.

Jamie took a long swig of his water and sat back down in his chair. He put his head set on, made sure the voice enhancer was set in front of him, and gave Rupert a nod.

“And we’re back…thank ye so much tae those who have called in tonight and those that are simply listening. I understand we have our next caller…hello and thank ye fer calling in. Who am I speaking with?”

“Hello, this is Claire.”

Jamie’s heart literally skipped a beat when that beautiful English accent came across the line. He looked up to see Rupert and Angus staring at him, waiting for confirmation that it was her. He nodded, but was still having trouble finding his voice.

“Hello?”

“Aye, sorry lass…I’m here. Took a sip of water and it went down the wrong way. Needed tae mute my mic fer a minute.” Jamie looked up at his friends, seeking some kind of guidance. They just motioned with their hands to keep going. “What has made ye call in tonight?”

“Well, I need some advice on how to move on from a long-term relationship. I dated a guy for all of high school and most of college. The last several years were long-distance and…” The line had gone quiet and Jamie thought perhaps he had lost her. “And…” he prompted. “Well, I was trying to think about why things ended and I honestly don’t really know what happened. We both said some things, that at least I know I regret, but…I don’t know. Every time I try to convince myself that we made the right decision, and I try to move on, I just can’t.”

Jamie put his head into his hands, hoping that his friends couldn’t see the tears running down his cheeks. He had wondered for so long if Claire even thought about him. Only in his dreams did he hope she hadn’t moved on and still wanted to be with him. Weel, we ken she has’na moved on at least, he tried to bring himself back to reality.

He cleared his throat before speaking into the voice enhancer. “Do ye think, on some level, lass, that mebbe, ye dinna want tae move on?”

“Maybe, but I haven’t seen him in six years. I doubt he even still thinks about me. How pathetic is it that I haven’t moved on? He was - is the most talented, generous, loving man and if I’m being honest, incredibly good looking. I’m sure he’s more than moved on.”

Jamie blushed while his friends snickered behind the sound-proof glass. “He sounds like quite a catch.”

“He really is - was - is, ugh I don’t know, Dr. Alexandra. Any woman would be lucky to find a partner as wonderful as him. He supported me through some really hard times and then through most of med school…long distance! I was a bloody fool to not try harder and make it work.”

Jamie wanted to throw the voice enhancer across the room and tell Claire it was him on the other end. Anything to help alleviate the pain she was feeling, when he knew he held an equal role in it. The blame was shared between them. Sassenach, it’s me…I’m here, he was screaming in his head. Then he remembered something he had told her years ago.

“It’s going to be alright, mo chridhe. Yer alive…ye are whole.”

“How do you know that? You can’t possibly know that!” Claire was sobbing as she leaned against him. Jamie had propped himself up on the hospital gurney that they were laying on.

Jamie had raced to the ED when he got Claire’s text…she had been riding with her parents when a drunk driver ran a red light and slammed into the driver’s side of her parents’ car. Claire had been sitting in the back, on the passenger side, with her seatbelt on. She had a laceration on her right temple, from smashing into the door, and had a mild concussion. Julia had also thrown against the passenger side door and suffered a concussion, a few broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, putting her in critical condition. Henry had not fared as well. Taking the brunt of the impact, he had been pinned in the car and the jaws of life were needed to extract him. He had been diagnosed with a severe concussion, compound fractures in his left leg, both the femur and tibia had broken through the skin. He also had a separated shoulder, and was covered with cuts and bruises from broken glass. He had been rushed to surgery to repair his leg and then moved to ICU. He had not regained consciousness since they brought him to the emergency department.

There was not much Jamie could say, knowing full well that Henry may never wake up or Julia night not pull through, but he had to be strong for Claire. He didn’t know what the future held, but one thing he was certain of, was his love for Claire.

“Aye, yer right mo chridhe. I dinna ken that all will be weel. We can hope and pray, but only time is going tae give us answers.” He tilted his chin up to his mouth and gave her a soft kiss. “What I do ken, is that ye’ll never be alone Claire. I will always be with ye.”

“I’m sure the break-up was’na entirely yer fault lass. All will be well. And Claire…” Dr. Alexandra paused, unsure if the next sentence would clue the listener in to her secret identity, “Ye’ll never be alone. Thank ye fer calling.” 'Dr. Alexandra' disconnected the line before Claire could respond.

“We’ll take a quick break, and play a song, before recapping tonight’s show.” Jamie clicked over to the advertisements and took off his headset. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Rupert and Angus, who at least had the sense enough to let him gather himself before stepping in. Jamie ruffled his hair, cleared his throat, and then stood up, making his way to the door of the sound booth.

“Rupert, when the ads are done, I need ye to play ‘Far Away’ by Nickleback.”

“Whatever ye say, boss.”

If those four little words had not clued Claire in, surely the song would. Bide yer time, Fraser. This will work…it has tae work.

 

It took Claire several minutes to realize the line had been disconnected and she was listening to advertisements over the air waves. Ye’ll never be alone. Those words echoed through her brain. Jamie had said those exact same words to hear many years ago while in the Emergency Department after the car accident. She would never have made it through that period of time without him. Luckily, both her parents had made full recoveries, but it had taken months before her father could walk without a cane. Claire had been terrified to get back into a car, but Jamie had eased her back into it. Jamie. She hardly had a memory that didn’t include him, and yet he had been gone from her life for the last six years.

Claire reached to refill her wine glass, but froze when the song came over the radio.

This time, this place
Misused, mistakes
Too long, too late
Who was I to make you wait?

Just one chance, just one breath
Just in case there's just one left
'Cause you know, you know, you know

That I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away, for far too long

I keep dreaming you'll be with me
And you'll never go
Stop breathing if I don't see you anymore

Claire brought her hands up to cover her mouth, not even realizing that she dropped the goblet, until she heard it shatter on the floor. Tears were streaming down her face as she listened to the words that she knew by heart.

But you know, you know, you know
I wanted, I'd wanted you to stay
'Cause I needed I need to hear you say
That I love you (That I love you)
I have loved you all along
And I forgive you (And I forgive you)
For being away, for far too long

So keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Believe it
Hold on to me and never let me go

No words had ever been truer…Claire still loved Jamie and knew that she always would. She had forgiven him, long ago, but he needed to hear it. She had to find a way to get in touch with him. She reached for her phone and opened her messaging app.

“I know you're working and it’s late, but G? I need your help. Call me when you get this.”

Chapter Text

HITH

Jamie had quickly recapped the show and turned the station over to the overnight DJ. He had told Rupert and Angus that he would handle closing everything up. Despite wanting to talk to him about what had happened this evening, both Angus and Rupert knew that Jamie needed to be alone. He often wanted to be by himself after a show, but tonight had been different. It was obvious that Jamie was at war with himself…excited that the love of his life was nearby, and missing him as much as he missed her, or so it seemed, yet he wasn’t sure how to approach her.

“What are ye so nervous about bràthair?”

“I’m no’ nervous.”

“Jamie, she’s just another lass.” Ian Murray, Jamie’s best friend was giving him a hard time while he stared at the beautiful brunette across the cafeteria. It was three weeks since the start of freshman year and Jamie had been watching the beautiful English lass from afar since.

“I ken Ian, but she seems to only have eyes for that arse-hat Frank fucking Randall.”

“I canna figure out why. Smooth talker, that one, but I hear he’s rather aggressive and does’na take ‘no’ for an answer. His reputation certainly precedes him.”

Jamie’s fists clenched under the table. The thought that Frank Randall was slowly pulling the lass in made his blood boil.

“Is she no’ in yer English class?” Ian asked.

“Aye, I sit behind her now.”

“Then there’s yer chance mate! Ask fer a pencil or piece of paper…anything, just tae introduce yerself. What are ye waitin’ fer man?!”

“That seems awfully lame, Ian.”

“And sitting here, drooling at her from across the cafeteria is’na?”

Jamie scowled at his friend, who was trying hard not to laugh. Whether at him or the situation, Jamie wasn’t sure. Ian had a point. If he never spoke to the lass and at least introduced himself, how would he ever ask her out?

Jamie smiled at the memory. The next day he had finally plucked up the courage and asked her for a pencil in class and a new friendship was formed. While it was several months before it had progressed into something more, just having Claire in his life made his days brighter.

Jamie had arrived home and was pouring himself a dram, thinking over his next move as he sat down on his couch. She has to have some clue now, especially after playing that song Jamie thought. He took a long swallow and allowed the whisky to settle in his stomach, slowly filling him with warmth. His phone was on the cushion next to him and started to vibrate with a text coming in. Glancing down, he saw that it was Geillis.

Geillis, 23:42…Claire just texted me. Did she call into the show?

Jamie, 23:43…Aye, she did.

Geillis, 23:43…And??

Jamie paused, not really sure what he should share with Geillis. He was hoping that by using the line ‘Ye’ll never be alone’ and then playing the Nickelback song, it would clue Claire in. But yer still using a voice enhancer ye numpty. He was going to need Geillis’ help.

Jamie, 23:45…I’m goin’ tae need yer help, G.

Geillis, 23:46…I thought ye would never ask! :-) Leave it tae me, fox cub. I promise I’ll no’ just come out and say it, but with any luck, ye can speak tae her this weekend. Using yer own voice.

Jamie, 23:48…Thanks G! I owe ye one.

Geillis, 23:48…Aye ye do and I plan tae collect verra soon. ;-)

Jamie dropped his phone back down on the couch and smiled to himself. To think that he could be face-to-face with Claire this weekend made his heart beat a little bit faster. For the first time in months, maybe years, Jamie took a shower and then went to bed with a smile on his face. Just before drifting off, he whispered out into the universe, I love ye mo nighean donn. I never stopped. I just hope I’m no’ too late and ye would be willing to give us another chance.

 

Claire knew her friend might be busy, but that didn’t stop her from pacing around her cottage, waiting for her to text back. I swear Duncan, if yer still avoiding me… Before Claire could finish that thought, her phone buzzed.

Geillis, 23:52…Sorry hen! A bit busy tonight. Everything ok?!

Claire, 23:52…Yes, I didn’t mean to alarm you. Are ye free enough for a quick call?

A few minutes passed before Claire's phone rang.

“Thank you so much for calling me! I feel like we haven’t spoken in almost a week. Are you mad a me?” Claire asked.

“Of course no’! Why would ye ever think such a thing?”

“We just don’t usually go this long without grabbing a cup of coffee or something.” Claire paused. “I called the Dr. Alexandra show tonight.”

Geillis paused for a moment, not wanting to give away on that she knew anything. “Wow! I’m glad ye had the courage tae do so. How did it go? Did they take yer call?”

“Yes! I actually got to speak to Dr. Alexandra and honestly G, I think I may have actually come to a conclusion.”

“Aye?”

“I’m still in love with Jamie!” Claire blurted out. She could hear Geillis chuckling on the other end of the line. “What’s so funny?”

“Is that supposed tae be breaking news? Honestly Claire, did ye think I did’na ken ye were still in love with him?”

“If I didn't even know then how did you?  And if you did know, then why are you always trying to get me to go out on dates?”

“I just want ye tae be happy hen. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, but now that ye have final come tae yer senses, how do ye propose finding yer wee fox cub?” Geillis asked.

“That’s where I was hoping you could help me.”

“Me?! How do ye mean?”

“After speaking to Dr. Alexandra tonight I noticed how many similarities there have been to her stories and to my own life. Tonight she actually said an exact phrase to me that Jamie used to say. Then, after we disconnected, the radio station played ‘Far Away’ by Nickelback. That cannot be a coincidence. That was our song.”

“Ok, sae what are ye getting at?”

“I wonder if Jamie works at the radio station! He majored in broadcasting and had been working at one when we were dating! We have to meet someone at the radio station! That will be our key to finding Jamie…at least I think so!”

“That - that sounds like a good plan,” Geillis hesitated.

“I can tell by your tone that you disagree,” Claire laughed.

“I was just thinking about something I heard at the hospital earlier this week. Ye ken we have all types of people coming through those doors. I heard a verra interesting rumor.” Geillis had dropped her voice to a whisper. “About Dr. Alexandra.”

“Really?” Claire was whispering back, although she wasn’t sure why. “What did you hear?”

“That she is no’ really a she…she’s a he.”

“Huh?”

“That Dr. Alexandra is actually a man, disguising his voice, to sound like a lass.”

The line was silent. Claire was trying to process what Geillis had just said.

“Claire? Are ye still there?”

“I’m here G. I’m just - what are you saying?” Claire’s voice was shaking a bit.

“I’m no’ saying anything. I just heard a rumor. That might be all it is.”

“Perhaps. It’s late, and I know you’re technically working. Can we meet up this weekend? Maybe grab drinks Saturday night?”

“I would love that! I’ll tell Laogherie we have plans, sae ye and I can catch up.”

“That would be great G, I would really like that. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Night Claire.”

“Good night. And G, thanks.”

Claire had been walking around her apartment while speaking with Geillis and had ended up in her bedroom. That last piece of information from Geillis hadn’t sat well with Claire. Why would someone go to such great lengths to disguise their voice? What were they trying to hide? Then Claire gasped and fell down onto the bed. What if Jamie is Dr. Alexandra?! Don’t be silly Beauchamp, that would be ridiculous, she tried to reason with herself. But the more she thought about it, the more it seemed plausible. All the stories and advice Dr. Alexandra had shared over the past few months, where Claire had thought she had so much in common with the callers, suddenly seemed to make more sense. It’s not that others have had similar experiences…it’s as if Dr. Alexandra has LIVED those same experiences! But still…why would a man go through all that trouble of changing his voice? Did he not want me to know it was him? And then a little light went off in Claire’s head. If he’s doing this show every week, then he’s thinking about me! Claire couldn’t deny that whenever Dr. Alexandra spoke about her own experiences, she always seemed fond of the memories.

“You are not going to solve this tonight Beauchamp.” Claire had resorted to talking out loud to calm herself down. She decided to take a hot shower and climb into bed. Despite the thoughts swimming around her brain, she couldn’t seem to get the image of a red-headed Scot out of her brain. Her last thought before she closed her eyes was what she would say to Jamie if she had the chance. I have thought about you everyday and regret pushing you away when we needed each other most. I still love you and pray that you would be willing to give us another chance.

Chapter Text

HITH

Claire and Geillis were both off for the next three days. Claire knew that after working a week of nights Geillis would no doubt be sleeping in, so she focused on doing chores around her cottage and running some errands in the morning.

It was late afternoon when Claire’s phone pinged, she looked down to see a text from Geillis.

Geillis, 16:27…Fancy a dinner out?

Claire, 16:27…Of course! I thought you were seeing Laogherie tonight?

Geillis, 16:28…I thought if ye and I went out t’night, then we could all hit up a pub tomorrow night. Would that be ok with ye?

Claire, 16:29…That sounds wonderful G! I’ve been craving Thai. The weather’s been lovely, Chaophraya?

Geillis, 16:30… Yes, I’ve been dying tae go there! I’ll make reservations for 20:00, good?

Claire, 16:30…Aye! LOL!

Geillis, 16:31…Starting tae sound like a proper Scot. ;-)

Claire tossed her phone on the bed and went to shower. She hadn’t been out with just her best friend for dinner in a long time. Deciding to take her time getting ready, Claire put on her favorite playlist and hopped in the shower. Twenty minutes later, she was toweling off and thinking about what to wear. She wrapped the towel around herself and wandered into her closet. Christ, Beauchamp…you need some new clothes. Claire made a mental note to ask Geillis if she wanted to go shopping tomorrow. She might as well have something fun to wear out to the pub, especially since she now had zero intentions of meeting anyone. Her heart belonged to one tall, red-headed Scot and she was determined to figure out how to find him. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to look good during the process.

Claire eventually settled on a pair of dark skinny jeans, a low-cut v-neck jumper, and some black ankle boots. She did a smokey eye and settled on soft waves for her curls. After a final look in the mirror, she grabbed her purse and drove over to the restaurant. Geillis was already there waiting out front. Giving her friend a quick hug, Geillis signaled the maitre d' and they were seated.

“I feel like I have’na seen ye in forever!” Geillis said as soon as the pair had sat down and ordered their drinks.

“Only because you’ve been avoiding me for the past week,” Claire retorted.

Geillis actually blushed a bit, but quickly changed the subject. Just a while longer Duncan, ye can do it. “I’m sorry, hen. I was just trying tae ken Laogherie a bit better. Yer going tae love her!”

Claire smiled and reached across to squeeze her friend’s hand. “As long as she makes you happy, you’re right, I’ll love her.”

The two chatted over appetizers about some hospital gossip. Being on opposite shifts for the past week, and heavy patient loads, had prevented them from catching up earlier. As the entrees arrived, talk shifted to tomorrow’s plans.

“I was hoping we could do brunch and then some shopping. I was looking through my closet G, and am ashamed to admit that I haven’t bought anything new in a few years, other than essentials. I thought it would be fun to dress up a bit tomorrow night!”

Geillis almost choked on her pad thai. “Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp wants to dress up and go out?!” Geillis narrowed her gaze at the woman across the table. “Who are ye, and what have ye done with my best friend?”

Claire laughed and smiled at her friend. “I’m just feeling more optimistic than I have in a while. Jamie’s out there Geillis and I believe that we are meant to be together. He must have friends in the area! Perhaps we’ll meet someone at the pub tomorrow who knows how to get in touch with him!”

Geillis smiled back at her friend, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Perhaps,” was all she managed to say. She was starting to feel terribly guilty about the secret she was keeping from her best friend. Not that much longer and ye ken it will be worth it, she reminded herself. Lord, let her no’ be mad at me forever.

Changing the subject back to shopping, Geillis asked, “Would ye be alright if Laogherie joined us for brunch and shopping? She has a much better eye than I do fer fashion. She’ll help make ye look hot!”

“That sounds perfect! It will be easier to get to know her, before sitting in a noisy pub all night.”

The two finished their dinner and chatted a bit more over some tea before parting for the night. They agreed on where to meet for brunch and gave each other a quick hug before getting into their respective vehicles.

 

Jamie had spent Friday doing paperwork. After his show on Thursday nights, he often needed time to be by himself and focus on very specific, work-related tasks. Usually catching up on emails, making sure everything was set up with sponsors, and ensuring that any local events who required a DJ to attend over the weekend were squared away.

He had decided that on this particular Friday, he would cut out of the office around 15:00 and head out to Lallybroch for dinner. With plans to go out with Angus and Rupert on Saturday night, a family dinner and a quiet evening was just what he needed.

The drive out to Lallybroch took about ninety minutes and Jamie enjoyed listening to music with the windows down for the duration. It also gave him some uninterrupted time to think. He had been texting with Geillis earlier in the day and was confident in the plan they had come up with. His heart felt lighter than it had in months, maybe even years. Whether or not he and Claire could work things out was still uppermost in his mind, but he would no longer have to wonder. In just over twenty-four hours, he was hoping to be lost in those whisky-colored eyes once again.

“I could get lost in yer eyes Sassenach.”

“I could say the same about you. Fathomless blue eyes, the color of the North Sea.”

“Yer’s remind me of the finest whisky. I feel drunk jus’ staring at ye.”

The two continued to whisper sweet nothings to one another as they lay tangled in Jamie’s sheets. It was their last year of high school and Jamie’s parents were out for the evening, giving the two love-struck teenagers plenty of alone time.

Jamie had rolled over on top of Claire and was eagerly kissing his way down her neck and along her breasts when his door opened and his father’s voice rang out.

“Jai- och!” Brian Fraser had quickly closed the door as Claire screamed and tried to pull the covers up over herself, kneeing Jamie in the process.

Jamie fell off the bed and rolled into the fetal position, as Claire frantically looked for her clothes that had been thrown all over the room.

“Jamie!” she hissed. “Help me find my clothes!”

“I’ll no’ be moving anytime soon Sassenach,” Jamie replied as he clutched his manhood.

Just then there was a knock on the door. “Jamie? Claire? Put yer clothes on and meet us downstairs.” This time it was Ellen Fraser, and her voice was oddly calm.

It had been years since they had been caught, the first time, and Jamie still found it difficult to meet his father’s gaze at times, but at least he could look back on the memory with a smile now. It had taken a while for the embarrassment to wear off, but it was obvious to the Frasers, as well as the Beauchamps, that their children were not just sex-crazed teenagers. They were clearly in love, and had their sights set on the future. Both sets of parents had had serious conversations with their children about the potential consequences of their actions and how to take precautions.

Despite all of that, both the Frasers and the Beauchamps were excited for their children and the future they were creating. It had come as a total shock when Jamie and Claire broke up, upsetting their parents almost as much as it clearly upset Jamie and Claire. Jamie knew how happy his parents would be if he told them that he knew Claire was in Edinburgh, but he couldn’t risk it. What if things didn’t work out? He wasn’t sure he would be able to survive another break-up with Claire, so why drag anyone else into it? No, he had to be sure this time. He was prepared to lay the world at her feet, but would she be willing to accept it? That remained to be seen.

As Jamie pulled up to the house, he was not surprised to see his mam waiting for him on the front stoop. She smiled and stood as he got out of the car.

“Hello Jamie! How are things with ye mo mhac?”

Jamie leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m fine Mam, how are ye?”

Ellen looked up at her son and raised her eyebrow. “I ken quite well yer no’ just fine. Ye forget that I like tae listen in tae yer show every once in a while.”

Some color drained from Jamie’s face and he swallowed hard, so Ellen continued. “I ken ye had an unexpected caller last night. Do ye want tae talk about it?”

“There’s no’ much tae talk about, Mam. I ken that she’s in Edinburgh, which is more than I kent already.”

“And?” Ellen prompted.

Jamie just shook his head.  “How do ye do that?” 

“Do what?” Ellen asked innocently.

“Ye ken what,” Jamie was smiling, “ye always seem to have an idea when there is more tae a story.”

“I’m your mam Jamie. I ken ye better than almost anyone and I ken when yer no’ telling me the entire story.”

Jamie relaxed his shoulders. “Alright Mam, but please dinna say anything tae Jenny. I ken better than tae ask ye no’ to tell Da, but until I actually speak tae Claire, I want tae keep this quiet.”

Ellen nodded silently and squeezed Jamie’s hand, urging him to confide in her.

“I ran into Geillis about a week ago at a local pub. We had a few words, but when I told her that I had been looking fer Claire, she warmed up tae me.”

“Ye still love her Jamie and she clearly still loves ye. I was listening tae everything she said.”

Jamie nodded and a smile spread across his face. “Aye, I do, but that’s all I’ll say about it. Ye ken how hard it was fer me when we broke up and I’m no’ ready tae get everyone’s hopes up until I speak with Claire.”

“I can understand that mo mhac and I will’na say a word tae yer sister. Yer da already kens Claire called into the show.”

Jamie just shook his head and then put his arm around his mam as they walked towards the front steps.

“I’ll only say one more thing about the matter,” Ellen said as she turned to face her son before they went inside. “When ye and Claire broke up, it was hard on all of us as well. Yer da and I love Claire too. We will support ye no matter what happens, but there is a love that runs deep between the two of ye.”

With tears in his eyes he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “Aye and I’m hoping tae have the opportunity tae tell Claire that soon.”