Archives for the Date August 12th, 2022 2022-08-12 21:10:06


Little Bit Better Than I Used To Be

Catch up:Chapter 1 (Starry Eyes) || Chapter 2 (Save Our Souls) || Chapter 3 (Dancing On Glass)|| Chapter 4 (Merry-Go-Round)|| Backstage (1) || Backstage (2) || Chapter 5 (Danger)|| Backstage (3) || Chapter 6A (Love Walked In) || Chapter 6B (Without You) || Backstage (4) || Chapter 7 (Stick To Your Guns) || Chapter 8 (Time For Change) || Backstage (5) || Chapter 9 (Take Me To The Top) || Backstage (6) || Chapter 10 (Home Sweet Home) || Backstage (7) |Chapter 11a (Nightrain) |||Also posted at AO3


Chapter 11B: Nothing Else Matters

Never opened myself this way // Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words, I don’t just say // And nothing else matters…

Soundtrack: “Nothing Else Matters,“ Metallica, 1991 [click here to listen]

~~Summer 1990~~

“There she is. Wake up, sweetheart. It’s all right.”

Claire’s eyes fluttered. Arch’s kind, lined face swam before hers.

“Welcome back. You need to take deep breaths, Claire.”

She turned onto her side and threw up.

Arch’s weathered hands soothed her back. “That’s it. Get it all out.”

Dimly she remembered that he’d served as a Marine corpsman in Vietnam – had patched up hundreds of men in the jungle, skills that not too infrequently came in handy on the road with Print.

“Jamie,” she spluttered. “Where’s Jamie?”

“We got him downstairs in the service elevator, back to your room.” Ian. “Jenny’s with him now. He’ll be all right, once that shit gets out of his system.”

Claire coughed and tried to sit up. Ian and Arch helped.

“What happened?”

“The fuckers from Poppy – the twins – they emptied an entire speedball in the punch bowl.” Angus – still seething, but now hugging the girl (wrapped in a towel) on a deck chair nearby. “They know how outspoken Jamie is about his sobriety. And they deliberately wanted to fuck that up.”

Claire blinked harshly. “I need to go to him.”

You need to rest,” Arch chided gently. “You just saved his life, Claire. He’s being taken care of.”

“I need to be the one to take care of him,” she insisted, voice firm. “I need to be there for him.”

“She’s right, Arch.” Ian stood, and so did Angus. “You know that as well as I do.”

So with Ian and Arch at her elbows, she stood. Angus helpfully wrapped a towel around her shivering shoulders.

The deck was deserted.

Ian guided her toward the elevator.


“Can we please get some more water?”

Ian nodded from the bathroom doorway and disappeared into the suite.

Claire rubbed Jamie’s bare back – the muscles strung tightly – and held back his hair as he vomited yet again into the toilet.

“That’s it. Get it all out, sweetheart.”

She handed him a damp washcloth, and shakily he sat back and wiped his face.

“Oh fuck,” he said for the twentieth time in the past half hour. “Cocaine doesn’t make you throw up. So why am I throwing up?”

“There’s a lot of shit in a speedball. It’s probably the heroin. Did you ever do heroin before?”

Ian reappeared with two bottles of Perrier from the minibar. He cracked one open and handed it to Jamie, who downed it in a long gulp.

“Ian, did I ever do heroin?”

With a quick glance to Claire, Ian nodded. “Back in ’84. Miami. You picked up a girl at the gig. She must have brought the smack with her to your hotel room. I only know because you broke down my door because you thought you were dying, and you scared the hell out of Jenny, and then threw up all over the sheets.”

“Fuck.” Jamie covered his face with the washcloth. “This is so fucked up. I’m so fucked up.”

Claire lay a careful hand on his shoulder. “Just breathe deep. Remember what they taught us at The Ridge. Deep, centering breaths.”

Jamie breathed in, and out. In, and out.

Ian squeezed Claire’s shoulder. “I need to talk to Colum. He’s waiting down the hall.”

“Those Poppy bastards are paying for everything that happened,” Jamie seethed. “Who the fuck are they to mess with me like this?”

Ian pinched the bridge of his nose. “We need Colum to help us, Jamie. He’ll keep it out of the press.”

“Fuck the press.”

Claire pulled the washcloth away from Jamie’s face. “Stop it,” she said in her firmest Doctor Fraser voice. “Ian, do what you need to do. I’ll stay.”

Wordlessly Ian left the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Claire stared down her husband. His pupils were still dilated from the drugs. His gaze was unfocused. But he didn’t back down.

“It’s terrible what happened, Jamie. I agree. But we need to let other people handle it now. That’s what we pay them for.”

“I fucked up, Claire.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Jamie.”

“I fucked up. And now you’re gonna leave me. Take Bree and leave me all alone.”

“Oh, my love.” She scooted closer to him on the tile of the bathroom floor and sat in his lap, framing his face between her hands. “I will never leave you.”

“I never wanted you to see me like that,” he whispered. “This is who I was before you came into my life. Before I grew up. I promised you I’d never be that man again.”

“You keep your promises, Jamie. You’re not that man.”

“But I broke my promise to you, Claire. That man came out tonight. Everything I’ve worked so fucking hard for – gone.”

“Stop that talk. You’re still you. I don’t love you any less.”

“I’m always afraid, Claire. Afraid you’ll see that man, and leave.”

She kissed his forehead. “I’m right here. Bree’s in the next room. We’re both here, with you, because we love you.”

His chin trembled, and tears streamed down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Claire. So, so sorry.”

She pushed his damp hair back behind his ears. “Sshh. Lay your head.”

Claire pressed Jamie’s face into the crook of her neck. His hands wrapped around her middle. He kissed her clavicle.

“I can’t live without you.”

She kissed the crown of his head. “You won’t need to.”

Suddenly he twisted away, and heaved into the toilet just in time.

She sighed and picked up the washcloth, folded it, and placed it on the back of his neck.


“Well, Doctor?”

Claire packed away her stethoscope in the travel medical kit that was always at her fingertips during the tour. “Your heart sounds fine, and so do your lungs. You finally slept last night after two long days. And you aren’t weirdly sweating anymore. All in all, I’ll say you’re fully recovered.”

“Did you hear that, Bree? Daddy’s all right!”

Jamie tickled their daughter’s tummy, and she giggled – nestled among pillows on the hotel bed.

“You know I’d never do anything to screw this up, right?”

She leaned across the bed and kissed him.

“Every day. Come on. Let’s go home.”

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