A/N – Series 5 of Doc Martin is nearly upon us and whilst I haven't remained spoiler free, I can say that there are no spoilers in this story. This is just another idea of what might happen in the first episode. Thanks to Diane for her beta skills, any errors are my own from further tinkering.
Disclaimer – "Doc Martin" and its characters belong to Buffalo Pictures Ltd.
Rating – T
Change of Heart
"You can go in now, Dr Ellingham," announced the rather surly nurse who passed him after slipping out of the nearby room.
"I have no idea why I had to wait outside in the first place," huffed Martin.
"Because Miss Glasson wanted you to," came the nurse's blunt reply.
Mumbling insults under his breath, he walked past the woman, giving her a disdainful look in the process. Martin opened the door to the private room and poked his head around.
"Louisa," said Martin as he took a seat at her bedside.
Louisa looked up and then quickly turned her attention back to the quiet little bundle resting in her lap.
The silence that accompanied the stony look on Louisa's face only confirmed his worse fears: that she was still cross with him.
"I don't know why you're being like this," he hissed. "I was merely pointing out a common medical condition that happens to many newborns as they pass through the birth canal."
"Martin… you really don't get it, do you?"
"What I get is the fact that you are overly emotional at the present time. A consequence, no doubt, of the exhaustion that you have suffered during the birth process."
"No, Martin. I'm not overly emotional," Louisa replied. She was finding it hard to engage in conversation with him and was starting to believe that it would have been better if he'd just gone to London and left her alone with her baby.
"The first thing most new parents would do is say how beautiful their baby is… but not you. You have to point out that his head is an odd shape… which it isn't, by the way."
"Yes, it is. And I explained why," Martin replied.
"But why do you have to point that out?" asked Louisa.
"Ah, so you agree with me then?" Martin replied triumphantly, the smug expression on his face further fuelling Louisa's anger.
"NO! I bloody well don't, and at least he hasn't got your flappy ears," Louisa spat in exasperation as she unsuccessfully tried to make herself seem more imposing in the hospital bed.
"As far as I'm concerned, he is perfect, Martin. I couldn't have wished for a more beautiful little boy."
Martin looked on as Louisa stroked her son's head tenderly and gazed at him like only a mother could.
He reflected on the events of the day and felt a lump in his throat as he thought how near he was to missing the birth of his son. If it hadn't been for Tommy and his stupid scheme to save on fuel bills for his taxi, there would have been no reason for him to stop at the Platt and he would have driven out of Portwenn… possibly forever.
"Well, yes, he is quite… acceptable," grunted Martin, as he shifted his chair a little closer to the side of Louisa's bed.
Louisa noticed that Martin was now staring at the little boy much in the same way as he had stared at her for so many years. She could see that his features were softening and she knew deep down that Martin was indeed proud to be a father, even though he might not say so, in so many words.
"What are you going to do now, Martin?"
"I'm sorry, I don't quite follow you."
"Well, your furniture is probably in London by now and you have given up the surgery - so, what are you going to do?" Louisa asked.
She didn't want to remind him of his earlier declaration about being wrong, "wrong about you, wrong about everything" he had said. But she felt that his words had come in the heat of the moment and knowing him too well, she feared that he would probably just call her delusional and say that he had never uttered such things.
"Oh, I see. Well, I haven't really thought about it. I suppose I should probably go to London. After all, you've now had the baby and… well, you have everything organised, so you don't need me to hang around any longer than necessary."
Martin tried to convince himself that it would better for everyone concerned if he just followed through with his plans, but secretly he hoped that Louisa would ask him to stay. He'd told her that he'd made a mistake by planning to leave, but he wasn't sure that she'd actually taken any of his words in, given that she was in the throes of childbirth at the time.
"Well, it'll probably be for the best," she replied. Trying to hide her disappointment, she turned her attention once again to the little bundle in her arms.
Martin looked up from the little boy and saw that a single tear had started to trickle down Louisa's cheek. He reached for her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Louisa, I…" Just as Martin began to speak, the door swung open abruptly and they both looked up to see the unmistakable figure of Edith Montgomery standing before them.
"I heard that your baby had been rushed in, Ellingham. I have to say, though, I'm rather surprised to see you here. I expected you'd be in London by now," Edith stated, with all the warmth of a rattlesnake.
"Err, I… that is, we…" Martin stuttered as he gestured towards Louisa.
"What Martin is trying to say is that I asked him to accompany me and OUR baby to the hospital," Louisa answered for them both.
Edith peered over at the little boy after totally ignoring Louisa's words. "Hmm, it is rather small, as we expected and I see its head is a little elongated; the skull has become compressed in the birth can…"
Martin cleared his throat, loudly. He could sense Louisa's irritation; it wasn't difficult, as she had tightened the grip she had on his hand until it became vice-like. Edith glared at him rather surprised by his interruption.
"Louisa and I are very pleased by the arrival of our son," said Martin, nodding as he moved to sit beside Louisa on the edge of the bed and put a protective arm around her and the little boy as if to keep them safe from Edith's clutches.
Walking towards the door, disgusted at the scene that she saw before her, Edith turned and looked directly at Martin, ignoring Louisa once more. "So, Ellingham, I'll see you at Imperial. I'll be over in London next week and we can catch up then."
"Not if I can help it," Martin mumbled, so that only Louisa could hear him. She looked at him quite taken aback by his obvious dislike of the prickly woman who had once again turned to make her way out of the door.
"Actually, Martin has decided to stay in Portwenn for a while," Louisa blurted out the words without really thinking.
Martin's head snapped around and he looked at Louisa.
"I have? - err. I mean, yes, I have. Obviously I'll contact Imperial and let them know that my arrival will have to be postponed."
"Well, don't leave it too long, Ellingham. Superb surgeon you may be, but there are plenty more like you out there. They won't hold the job open for you indefinitely."
And with a click of her heels, she turned for a final time and slammed the door behind her as she left.
"That woman will not take no for an answer," groaned Martin.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh - err, no… nothing. I'll tell you another time."
Louisa looked at Martin suspiciously as the colour began to rise in his cheeks. She'd always suspected that he and Edith had rekindled their romance, although she'd hoped she was wrong. Perhaps her gut instincts had been right all along.
Seeing Martin's discomfort, she decided not to pursue the matter. There would be plenty of time for that later… hopefully.
After a companionable silence, where Martin remained with his arm around Louisa, he finally plucked up the courage to speak.
"What you said to Edith, is that what you want me to do?"
"Oh, that. I just didn't want her to think that you were here out of some misguided sense of duty. I wanted her to think that we were both happy about this," she said, as she slightly raised the baby from her lap. "And… I was jealous of her. Always have been if I'm being honest. Ever since I saw her with you that first night I was back in the village."
"You didn't need to be jealous of Edith. Any feelings I had for her died… a long time ago."
"That's not how it appeared, Martin. She was always around, even when I needed to talk to you about the baby. I felt very self-conscious around her."
"Why… I don't understand?"
"Oh, Martin, can't you see how alike you and she are. She was far more suited to you than I could ever be. And I thought you'd moved on, forgotten about what we had. If I'm being truthful, my hopes were dashed."
"What, you mean that you hoped we might get back together?"
"Yes, I suppose I did. But all that changed when I saw her."
Martin shifted now so that he was facing Louisa. He took hold of her hand once again.
"You need never be worried about Edith. She can never, ever come close to the way I felt… I mean, feel about you. I really don't want to talk about her because she brings back unpleasant memories for me. I once thought that I loved her, but I only realised once I met you, that I'd never really known love before."
Martin leaned forward and cupped the side of Louisa's face in the palm of his hand. He kissed her softly on the lips before bending further down and placing a gentle kiss on his son's forehead.
"Do you want to stay in Portwenn?" asked Louisa, hopefully.
"I will have to contact Imperial and see how they are about me not taking up my post straight away. But, I can't lie to you Louisa; the thought of returning to surgery does appeal to me, very much actually."
"What about your blood phobia?"
"Well, apart from the odd set-back or two, I think I have it under control."
"It didn't look that way earlier."
"Like I said, there's bound to be the odd hiccup."
"So, you won't stay in Portwenn indefinitely?"
"I think my relationship with the villagers has… run its course, shall we say."
"And what about our relationship. Martin? Has that run its course?"
Martin wasn't prepared for Louisa's blunt words. He hadn't even thought about them being in a relationship for the past eight months so how was he supposed to react now that she was implying that there could be something between them once again.
"I don't know, Louisa. Perhaps it has. I would always be there for anything that you or the baby needed. But I really think that in the long term, you'd be better off without me."
Martin stood and moved away from the bed now.
"Maybe you should let me decide what's best for me," Louisa declared.
He turned and looked at Louisa. He couldn't deny his feelings for her. They were still there, stronger now than they ever were. Seeing her there, the mother of his child, knowing that she still cared for him and would even be prepared to try and give their relationship another try was heartbreaking.
In the past few months he'd made so many major decisions in his life that he wasn't sure that he could stop the wheels from turning. It almost seemed like he had finally got his life back when he gained a modicum of control over his blood phobia. And if there was no position for him in Portwenn, then he really didn't think that he would be able to suffer the inane comments of the villagers, day in day out. At least when he was their doctor, he did feel certain dominance over them.
"Well, I better go and make some phone calls and see if I can stay with Aunty Joan for the time being." Martin stepped back towards the bed and bent down to kiss Louisa on the cheek before heading towards the door.
"You could stay at my cottage… if you want, that is." The words came out of Louisa's mouth like a runaway train. She was mindful of the fact that she had nearly watched Martin walk away earlier in the day and she was determined that it wasn't going to happen again. She knew he was difficult, that things wouldn't be smooth sailing for them, but she also knew that she wanted to give it a go, if not for herself, at least for the sake of their child.
"Erm, I think it'd probably be best if I stay with Joan. Of course if there's anything that you want me to do at the cottage before you come home, then I'd be happy to help out."
Louisa nodded, "Thank you, Martin. That's kind. We can talk about it tomorrow."
"Hopefully they might let you come home tomorrow afternoon, so if you think of anything in the meantime, just call me."
"Thank you, Martin."
"Mmm, you're welcome. Bye, Louisa."
The door closed behind him.
"Bye, Martin," sighed Louisa, as she brought the little baby up onto her chest and gave him a much needed cuddle.
To be continued…