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Where it's Safe

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Everything was as it usually was, the same array of songs blaring through the speakers, copious amounts of alcohol and dead-end conversation flowing through the pub. It was as typical as expected. 

Jamie, John, Ian, and Rupert made this an almost weekly routine to end their long and demanding week at each of their jobs. It went without saying that it was something to relieve the stress and clear their minds. For Jamie, he has his own reasons tonight. 

He was about to start a new position as Captain of Security at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary this coming Monday after taking four months leave from his former job. One would think it was cause for celebration; Jamie however, did not.

Despite his distant mood, this Friday seemed just as ordinary as the others, but would quickly prove to be the beginning of something of an entirely different nature. 

__________

Jamie was a deputy in Edinburgh’s police force for the past eight years. He had joined at the ripe age of twenty-two, fresh out of the academy. He loved his job, every part of it, even the desk duty. But most of all, Jamie loved being on the road with his partner Angus. 

That is, up until recently. 

Four months ago, Jamie and Angus received a call from the chief about a possible domestic disturbance. They’d gotten calls such as these dozens of times over their eight years together as partners. They knew how to handle them - for the most part. 

This last one just happened to take a turn for the worst.

They arrived at the scene and instantly heard the yelling and screaming from the street. With a quick nod to one another, they made their way to the door. 

Jamie and Angus hardly had to communicate on the job. They knew each other’s moves before they happened. Their own unspoken language. Without hesitation, they knew who would open the door while the other took the lead, and vice versa. This time, Angus kicked the door in while Jamie entered first. 

What they walked into was disturbing, but not as uncommon as one would hope. A couple tearing into each other, except they knew where this argument had gone, and where it had the potential to go. The woman was cowered on the floor in between the couch and the table, clearly trying to make herself as small as possible. There was a man leaning over her, yelling and kicking her. 

The couple didn’t hear the officers announce themselves, or even hear them bust down the door, but they had seen enough. Angus took the right while Jamie took the left. There were no weapons visible, the perp’s fists were doing a fine job on their own, or so it seemed. Once more, they announced themselves and told the abuser to put his hands up. It took a second to register, but he finally heard them. 

Angus had his gun pointed towards the perp while Jamie was behind him on the other side. That's when Jamie saw it. The perp reached his left hand back. 

Two shots were fired. The first was from the perp, the second from Jamie’s gun. And that was it. The perp was dead before he hit the floor, but Jamie didn’t realize that he got to Angus first. 

It only took a moment, for everything to change.

Before Jamie even reached the other side of the couch, he knew his partner of eight years was gone.  

I should’ve reacted quicker. I was trained to react quicker. 

I failed him.

Following Angus’s death and a thorough investigation, Jamie was placed on mandatory paid-leave, with the department’s hope of his return after he recovered. Despite all their accommodations, counseling, and a mandatory retraining course, Jamie knew he wasn’t going back. He could no longer risk putting another partner in danger, or to waste away within his guilt at a desk forever. He needed a change. A new purpose. 

After a bit of research and self contemplation, Jamie discovered a security position at the hospital had opened up. His semi-upstanding resume seemed to impress the chief of security, seeing as he offered Jamie the rank of captain right off the bat. Assuming in part to his previous experience. Nonetheless he didn’t shy away from asking why a young thirty-year-old police officer wanted to come do security at a hospital. Jamie explained it was simply where he wanted to be. To attempt to protect those who can actually save others, unlike himself. 

Or so he thought. 

Maybe it's the least I could do despite my past failures both as an officer, and a partner.

Jamie then set a challenge upon himself. He vowed to dedicate not only his career, but himself to protect those inside one of Scotland’s largest hospitals. Jamie was determined to do his absolute best to ensure the safety of those with the ability to save lives.

Maybe I could honor my former partner along the way. 

__________

Planted in their usual corner booth, so the other lads could have a view of the entire pub, lasses and all, they were simply going about pub business as usual. 

Jamie had just started his second dram, but in truth, he was ready to call it a night. The past week was filled with nothing but long conversations and formal resignation papers. He was longing to go home, and officially close the door on his past. 

Just as Jamie was about to excuse himself from the lads, already prepared to ignore their judgemental protests, when something caught his eye. 

It was the most exquisite mop of curls he’s ever laid eyes on. Elegantly draped over a lovely knit jumper, were innumerable shades of brown and auburn that were visible even in the pub’s dim lighting. The curls were so free, so beautiful. What I wouldn’t do ro run my fingers through those curls. Jamie sat there from afar just admiring them. Maybe for just a few seconds, if not minutes. They were mesmerizing. 

Jamie wasn’t the type to go after women at a pub, he didn’t feel it was the proper place. However, he just couldn’t peel his eyes away from those bouncing curls. Without second guessing himself, he decided to approach her. Jamie didn’t even have to see the woman's face to feel how drawn he was to her. Her curls alone were like a gravitational pull, inviting him in. 

Jamie had just begun to slide out of the corner booth, determined, when he noticed she was with a man. Disappointment ensued. But that wasn’t all that he noticed. Her head was down, as her body faced his on the bar stool, his hand with a far too firm grip on her bicep. From almost fifteen feet away Jamie could see the whites of his knuckles. 

Jamie immediately bolted up from the booth. It took everything he had not to march up to the man and bounce his forehead off the edge of the bar. 

Ye son of a bitch. 

“Jamie lad, where are ye off too?” Rupert said in the midst of a laugh. “I’m just going to get a wee refill is all.” Jamie firmly said to him over his shoulder without looking back. He overheard the lads remarking how his dram on the table was still full, but he didn’t care. 

Jamie was maybe six feet from the couple when he stopped dead in his tracks. He realized that he was in no position to confront the man. In contempt of what he’d see he had no notion what was truly going on. He was not about to cause a scene that could potentially make it worse for the lass, despite the pull he felt towards her. 

Clearing his head, Jamie decided to stand off to the side of the lass to “order another drink”. That was when he heard all he needed to confirm his initial thought.

“I can’t believe you came out with me wearing such a ratty jumper. God, you never put any effort into looking even the least bit presentable.” The man hissed at her. “Frank, I- I- this was all I had in my locker at work. I didn’t know my shift would go over and I would have to meet you here. I’m sorry.” she responded with a hesitant whisper.

Ah. Sassenachs, both of ‘em. 

 “It doesn’t matter. You’re always looking disheveled no matter what you wear, especially with that rat's nest looking excuse of hair you have on your head. It’s embarrassing being seen in public with you. Then you wonder why I never bring you around my department at the university.” This time, it was more of a disgusted snarl as the man was practically spitting in her face. 

Jamie could hear the blood pumping in his ears and his fists automatically curling on top of the bar. It was his turn for his knuckles to turn white. He didn’t have to see the lass to know that she didn’t deserve to be spoken to in such a manner. 

Nobody should be spoken to like that, especially in a public setting. 

“I’m sorry. I’ll start trying harder to look more presentable for you. I’m sorry, please don’t be angry.” Jame could hear her attempt at suppressing a cry in her voice. “That’s just it, you don’t try to do anything. Not with your looks, not your job, not in this relationship, not your life. You’re just this shell of a woman. A mediocre bore. Yet you expect me to just stick around and wait for you to become what I want? Do you think you’re even worth that much?” She said nothing. Jamie could feel the rage heightening inside him. The lass just kept her head pointed towards the floor. That’s when Frank  leaned in closer and loudly said “So you have nothing to say for yourself?” 

This caused her to flitch, Jamie did too. As a result, he accidentally elbowed her purse off the bar and onto the floor spilling its contents. He immediately knelt down to pick it up when he felt her get down from her stool as well. She was frantically trying to gather her belongings and shove them back into her purse. “I’m sae sorry lass. How clumsy of me.” Jamie said in what he hoped was a soft, reassuring tone. “N-no. It’s fine. It was m-my fault.” She still hadn’t looked up, but he could see the faint glisten of tears on her face.

“At least let me buy ye another round for causing such a mess.”

“That isn’t necessary, we’re leaving.” This Frank said as he all but hurled the lass off the floor by her arm. Jamie hardly had time to stand up before he dragged her out of the pub. 

Before Jamie could process what was happening he started to follow them. It was quiet, but he clearly heard the man say: “Again, you caused an embarrassing scene by making such a mess. Wait until we get home.” Jamie had enough. He didn’t care, he wanted to intercede. He needed to say something, but as always, he was too late . She was already being shoved into a taxi. 

Jamie watched as the taxi drove off with the poor lass inside with that horrid excuse for a man. He took a minute to gather his thoughts before heading back inside to tell the lads he was going home. 

I should’ve said something sooner. Lord, I can only imagine what he must be like in private.

That poor lass.

Her head was still down.  

Jamie trudged back into the bar when he nearly slipped on something. He looked down to notice a plastic card under his shoe. When he picked it up, his breath hitched in his throat. He immediately recognized those curls. 

It was her. 

Dr. Claire Beauchamp, MD

General Surgery 

It was her hospital ID badge. She was a doctor at…

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.