A/N: This is a Von/Frank fic. I know, not the most known pair, but I really think they could work! To everyone who reads: please, leave me a review so I can see whether you liked it or not. Reviews are my best friend!

Disclaimer: I do not own anything. Nor will I ever, I'm afraid...

Chapter One

As soon as she had made it into the break room, Von's composed demeanor crumbled.

She had to grab the edge of the table in front of her for support, as she felt her knees threatening to give way. Her heart was beating so hard she could feel it pounding against her chest. And she was feeling physically sick.

Von couldn't prevent tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. For thirty-nine years she had believed she had dealt with it! And now she realized all of her demons were still standing where she had left them when she had returned from Vietnam.

She angrily fisted one hand and roughly wiped the drops away. She was not going to cry, she promised herself.

How was it that something as small and stupid as being locked up in a bathroom could do this to her?

Okay, if she were honest it had been more than that. Dominic locking her up in his bathroom had just been the last drop.

First she had had to endure that man saying the exact same words as her two attackers back in Vietnam.

The moment those words had left his mouth, a cold shiver had run down her spine, fear filling her entire body. It had transported her all the way back to the day she had longed for so long to forget.

Suddenly she was aware there was someone coming up to her. The footsteps were becoming louder and louder.

Before she knew what was happening, a soldier had appeared behind her and had put his hand over her mouth.

"Do as you're told," he had whispered, close to her ear.

She had felt the cool gun against her temple. His warm hand on her hip. The way said hand was beginning to move upwards.

And as if that hadn't already been enough, she had been separated from her friends during the robbery at the hospital. Stuck in a room with two male doctors.

That had had the same effect on her as Dominic's bathroom. She had felt as if it was all happening to her again.

But she had kept silent. Nobody knew about the terrible ordeal she had experienced, and she didn't want to have to explain why being in one room with two doctors she had known for a long time was scaring her more than being threatened by a couple of robbers who wanted nothing more than the hospital's pharmaceutical supply.

Some might think it odd she had never spoken about being raped. Yet what had happened in Vietnam had stayed in Vietnam. Not only for her, but for many others as well. It was as if it was another part of her life, as if it had all happened to someone else instead of her.

Von could hear footsteps in the distance. She realized someone was coming towards the break room.

So she quickly walked towards the sink and grabbed a cup. Whoever opened the door would think the liaison nurse was just enjoying a cup of tea before going back to work. It would save her a lot of questions.

When the door handle clicked, she exhaled one last time, in order to appear calm and in control as always.

"Oh, there you are, Von. I was looking for you," Gabrielle said.

"Really? What can I do for you than?" Von asked her.

"Frank has got a patient who's just been diagnosed with schizophrenia… He wanted to know whether you could contact the family and speak to them about the different options for this man," Gabrielle told her.

Von nodded.

"I'll get onto it straight away," she promised.

"Thanks, Von," Grabby said.

And when the door closed again, Von was alone once more.

It was time to get back out there. There was no denying that. Her colleagues would start getting suspicious soon.

So she splashed some water on her face, dried it with a towel and checked herself in the small mirror before leaving.

If she played her cards right, nobody needed to know she was having a hard time.

The rest of the day she tried to keep a low profile, which she seemed to be rather successful at. She managed to avoid questions, the other nurses seemingly were unaware of what had happened before.

Luckily for her it was a busy day. People were in and out the ED sooner than she could count them.

And there was of course Mister Aldridge's family who had arrived, and who needed some explanation about his condition.

She was standing beside Frank, and he was preparing to inform them about what having schizophrenia meant. And then it would be her turn.

"Misses Aldridge, I'm sorry to say this, but your husband has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia."

There was a silence. Amanda Aldridge clasped her hand in front of her mouth and grabbed a hold of her daughter Lara.

"Misses Aldridge, I know this will come as a shock to you. You have probably heard about schizophrenia. And it is true, it's not an easy condition to deal with. Neither for the patient, nor for his family, I'm afraid. But together, you can try and find a way to deal with it," Frank tried to console his wife and children.

"Can our father still live at home?" his son, Malcolm, wanted to know.

Frank looked at Von to take over. She took a deep breath before starting to speak.

"Malcolm, do you realize what problems your father will start to experience in the near future?" Von inquired.

The young man slowly shook his head. She hadn't expected anything more. After all, few people knew the real difficulties of the disease if they had never been confronted with it personally.

"He will start to forget things. Small things at first. But then it'll become more frequent. He won't even remember something you told him ten minutes before. And after a while, he'll even forget your name."

She waited a few seconds before continuing.

"I'm not saying this to scare you, believe me. I just want you to know what it'll be like. Because I can see that you really want to take him home. But you have to realize, it'll be hard on all of you. You'll need help. And that's what I'm here for, to help you find the help you need so you can keep him close."

She could feel Frank's eyes on her back, obviously wondering why she seemed to be affected by this case even more than she usually was.

But she pretended not to notice it as she explained to the family what they could do to make it a little easier in them to allow their father to live with them for as long as possible.

Eventually, the family left to visit Mister Aldridge one last time before heading home. Frank waited until they had left to start filling out some paperwork.

Von used the opportunity to sneak past Zoe and retreat in a small corner outside the hospital. The fresh air was a welcome change from the warm, suffocating heat inside.

She lit a cigarette and sunk down against the wall. She was glad her shift was almost over. She had really had enough for one day.

The only thing she wanted to do, was head home, take a hot bath and get some sleep. It would all be better in the morning, she was sure of it.

But at home, she'd be all alone. With nobody to distract her from the horrible images that would start playing in front of her eyes when she closed them.

Bloody hell, she thought. Why does everything have to be so bloody hard?

She rested her head against the cool stones behind her, angrily pushing out her cigarette on the ground.

Just then, she heard her name being called.


She lifted her head to see Frank walking towards her. He was looking a little worried, which made her realize she must have shown more of what was going on inside her than she should have.

"Yes, Frank? Did you need me?" she wanted to know.

"No, I just wanted to ask you whether you're okay."

She was more than a little surprised at hearing him say that. But she was touched as well, it meant he really did care for those around him.

She decided to show him the same courtesy as he had shown her and tell him the truth. Maybe she'd end up regretting it, maybe she wouldn't. But what did she have to lose?

"I'm not okay. But I will be," she said, softly.

He looked right into her eyes now.

"Alright then. But if you need anything, just let me know, okay? Call me, come to my office, anything."

"I will," she assured him.

And after that, Frank left. Von slowly rose from the ground, preparing to finish today's work.