Secrets Best Left Hidden.
Jac Naylor groaned and rolled over as the silver alarm clock on her bedside table yelled its "morning surprise." Hastily, she leaped out of her double bed to find that she had barely creased the sheets. She glanced at the other side of the duvet to which she had slept – untouched. No one. But Jac Naylor was used to this. She was a loner. Jac's colleagues despised her, her only friend had disowned her, and she had lost the only man she had ever loved. He had melted the icy exterior that had shielded Jac since her childhood. His name was Joseph. Joseph Byrne. Jac shook her head almost violently, to defeat the conquering thoughts that still lingered inside her brain. She couldn't let that distract her. Not now.
The room was lined with framed artwork – bright and colourful yet dark and dismal at the same time. Carelessly, the book Jac was reading the night before was sprawled across the carpet and an unfinished letter to Joseph waited expectantly for pen to meet paper again. The curtains weren't drawn, yet some leopard prints of sun light escaped through the gap between. A long, slim mirror hung between the wardrobe and window – this was something Jac had gradually come accustom to. Joseph had thoughtfully bought it for her at a market not far from Holby. It reminded her of him. He had left Holby City General Hospital almost six months before, to live a simpler life with his son in Penrith. She remembered with excruciating clarity their last moments together; he had held her in a passionate embrace and kissed her with such tenderness and fervour she had never felt before, as he took her in his arms for the final time. Jac could recall how she had begged him to stay, tears running down her cheeks. But it hadn't been enough. She had reluctantly refused to go with him and he couldn't stay. There was no solution. Stumbling, Jac made her way over to the mirror and looked herself up and down. Carefully, she took her glossy, auburn hair down from the tight bun it had been in and let it fall gently behind her back. Her skin was even paler than usual and her emerald eyes flickered like a lighted candle. Jac brushed the hair out of her face. She had high cheek bones that Joseph had thought beautiful, but she detested them. Stop it Jac! Stop mentioning his name. He's gone! Her oversized pyjamas failed to outline her slim figure that most women would die for. Rubbing her eyes, Jac entered her bathroom, stripped and walked into the shower. She almost sighed in relief when the hot, soothing water washed over her body. After, she dressed, glancing into the mirror one more time. Jac shook herself. You can do this. It's just like any other day. Just act normal. Treat patients, in and out. No preferential behaviour, no getting all connected to the patients like that mess of a woman, Sahira, does. Just do your job.
Jac Naylor glanced at her wristwatch; she was in impeccable time as normal – unlike her incompetent F2. The clock ticked louder than usual, as if underlining that Oliver was absent. After a couple of silent minutes (except the continuous ticking of the grand clock and the occasional sighs from the Ice Queen herself), Jac gave up and headed for the door. Stupid F2! I bet he's hung over at the flat of his latest fling. Why did I even sleep with him last year? As if in slow motion, Oliver threw the door open in frenzy, a boiling cup of coffee in his shaking hands. It leaped and sailed through the air almost majestically, getting closer to the astonished women on the other side of the door. Closer. Closer. And closer. Ollie's eyes followed the doomed cup as it clambered through the air, its contents spilling from the edges, until it sailed into the already furious Ms Naylor. He was in for it now. Jac stood motionless for a second, staring at her expensive, floral top now stained with a murky river. I'm going to kill him! What the bloody hell is wrong with his family? First it was his sister Penny, and now… Jac broke of -even at the mention of Penny's name in her thoughts brought back memories from the past that she would rather forget. The truth was, she was ashamed of them, and now that Penny had was dead, she would never have the chance to make it up to her. Scowling, Jac slowly glanced up at Ollie, his face contorted into something between disbelief and fearfulness.
"You idiot!" exclaimed Jac, spite imminent in her words. She was already in a bad mood, she did not need this.
"I'm sorry Ms Naylor, I didn't mean to… I'm so sorry. Let me help…" Ollie stuttered, flinching at Jac's every movement.
"No! You've done enough damage!" He certainty has! But, I suppose it was my fault just as much as his… NO! What are you doing Naylor? He deserved to be shouted at, plus he's late! Although, he is my F2 and that's not an easy road… Jac stared into space, unaware of the confused Ollie looking on, as her conscience battled with her mind. Look Jac, Not Jackie, not Jacqueline, Jac. You chose that name because it meant nothing to you and you didn't have to be constantly reminded of your "family", so you have to toughen up! It's your reputation at stake here! But its Ollie… No… Do I really have a soft spot for him? Why? Its just Ollie… we had a one night stand, so what? It was a one off... Besides, I had a soft spot for him before we slept together... wait, am I really considering this? Look, it can't hurt for one time… give him a chance… just kill him later.
"Ms Naylor?" Ollie had finally plucked up the courage to bring Jac from her daydream, or her battle.
"Ollie… Look, next time you plot to kill me, make it more successful." Jac retorted, sarcasm tripping from her words. She nearly smiled at the puzzled look that had grown onto Ollie's face. She continued. "Well, now I have to get changed, and I hope you tell everyone why I'm going to be late for work!" That came out a little harsher then intended…
"Right." Ollie said as he turned and headed for the door.
"I've got an Aortic Valve Replacement at 12:00 if you want to assist?" Jac asked, pretending to be focused on her notes. Oliver whipped around and then hesitated.
"Sure. Thanks Ms Naylor."
Jac opened her locker – it was bare except for a small oblong object in the centre of the space. Slowly, she lifted the delicate box from its metal home and prised it open. There it was. Jac could hear herself let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding, as if imagining that the precious object in front of her had disappeared. Don't be so silly Jac! What was it going to do, run away? Perhaps at the sight of my face… no... scratch that… Sachas… Jac smiled, a rare site. However, it soon faded as she remembered what this object meant to her. It was a silver plated shell necklace, not unlike the one Joseph had bought her on their first date. In fact, it was a gift from that very person, before he left of course. Jac had not dared wear it since. Carefully, she picked up the glistening necklace and tenderly placed it on her delicate neck. It was beautiful. So beautiful. It fit her perfectly as if it had been made especially for her; it complimented her pale skin faultlessly. Jac could feel the tears that were threatening to fall from the waves of sadness that surged through her, wanting to take her under its murky debts. She couldn't let that happen. Quickly, Jac stretched her hand out to rip the jewellery from her neck, but her hand seemed to hesitate, not knowing whether to follow her heart or her brain. What are you doing? Joseph means nothing to you know! He left, he chose Harry instead of you, and you will always be second best to him. Just do it! But she couldn't. Sighing, Jac grabbed a clean, blue pair of scrubs from her bag and lifted her top over her head, defeated. At that moment, the door opened.
"Ollie!" Jac yelped, snatching up her scrubs.
"Ms Naylor, I'm sorry. Again…" Oliver took a quick glance at his mentor before turning his head.
"Didn't anyone teach you to knock before entering?" Jac said, noticing Oliver's lingering eyes. At this point, Jac made sure that her rolled up scrubs were definitely positioned so that it concealed her underwear. "Get out! Now!" Jac let out a shaky breath as Oliver left the room. What was he on, some sort of bet? Suddenly, the acute sound of her pager burst the dreary silence. Keller? Jac thought to herself for a moment, then after dressing, headed for the stairs.
A sleek, professional looking man strolled through the bustling hospital. His brown hair was a clean cut and his eyes, a dark blue, scanned the familiar surroundings. Casually, he passed some unknown faces amongst the old ones he new, as he ambled down the corridor and was being respectfully greeted by a nod of a head here and there. However, his brisk walk was unforeseeably interrupted as his eyes were drawn to a glistening panel on the nearest door. He stopped and turned. The door was a light colour with a silvery plaque drilled into the tough wood; this was engraved with bold letters. It read:
Ms Jac Naylor
MBBS MS FRCS (Eng) FRCSTh
Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
The man smiled to himself. She had done it. Well, he always knew she would. She was Jac Naylor for crying out loud! And with that thought blossoming in his head, he made a quick swipe at straightening his tie and headed for Darwin.
"You paged me?" Jac Naylor strutted behind Keller desk, eying up the mess of paperwork and the half eaten lunch nestled between patient folders.
"Yes, patient in Bed 3, John Bulk, 22, may have cardiovascular complications." Sacha replied glancing at his notes. Jac whipped around and scanned the patient, an ever-growing smile creeping onto her face. "Don't!" said Sacha Levy, obviously conscious of the fact that his colleague wasn't one for sympathy. For, in the sleek, snow white hospital bed was a young, handsome man dressed as Scooby Doo.
"Have you been giving him loon tablets Mr Levy?"
"Oh come on, give him a break, his fiancé left him at the alter yesterday."
"I'm not surprised!" Jac replied, raising her eyebrows a little. "What was he wearing, a bugs bunny outfit?" Sacha looked like he was about to crack, but then he regained composure, standing up a little straighter.
"Can you just examine the patient please?"
"Fine." Jac grinned. "I'll tell him Shaggy is waiting outside shall I?"
With her stethoscopes slung around her neck, Jac headed for the nearest, but one, crisp, white hospital bed. Keller was larger than Darwin by some degree. The huge floor space was divided into sterile work zones. In each, was a segment of life, poured over by bustling figures in pink clothes. Ms Naylor had worked on Keller in her early days at Holby City as she had intended, then, to be a Gs Consultant. However, Ric had seemed to favour Diane (an ex colleague) in all different aspects of their work and Jac had soon started to realise that there was no hope, in that specialty, of getting to the top. So, she soon was transferred to Darwin where she had worked with Joseph. Yet again, I seem so determined to mention his name! What is wrong with me? It's hard to believe that he felt the same pain as I did when he left, or feels the same ache as I do now, months after his departure. Pain. That's an overused word. Much like love. But, love is known as the hardest emotion to understand and is the cause of so much pain. You only know when you have love when it is gone, out of your reach, never to return. That's what I felt when I messed everything up with Joseph, all those years ago. If there's a thin line between love and hate, then why do I not love my self? I hate everything about me, what I have done in the past, what I am going to do in the future. I am a parasite. I suck all the goodness out of someone then move on, ready to break another person's poor soul. Then why not end it all? If there's nothing to live for, than why don't you, Jacqueline Elizabeth Naylor stop yourself from hurting other people? Because, you live for your job. Jac hadn't realised she had reached the hospital bed already, had she really been thinking for that long? She cleared her throat, trying not to make eye contact with the man in front of her, in fear of making a sarcastic comment.
"Mr Bulk? I understand you are in here for a kidney transplant?"
"That's Right… Miss...?" John questioned, examining Jac, his eyes darting up and down.
"Jac Naylor, Consultant Cardiovascular Surgeon on Darwin. May I have a listen?" Jac asked, tilting her head, indicating his chest.
"Of course." John agreed, flinching slightly as the coldness of the stethoscope hit his dark skin. Jac's brow furrowed. Intrigued, she changed the position of her stethoscope and nodded urgently. Jac was jolted from her diagnosis as Oliver joined them, obviously hoping for a chance "to shine" in surgery. Last time, Jac had just told him to dip himself in Cillit Bang.
"What do you think Dr Valentine?" Jac said, handing him the stethoscope. Oliver took the silver instrument in relish, his other hand combing his brown hair and tugging at his tie. Ollie considered for a minute.
"Sounds like a heart arrhythmia?" Jac raised her eyebrows in surprise.
"Very good." She turned to John. "Nothing to worry about Mr. Bulk but we will have to book an ESG just to make sure." Oliver leaned in towards Jac and assumed a confidential air.
"Can I ask a question?" Ollie asked, taking a secretive glance at the patient that not even Jac noticed.
"On what?" Ollie said, a slight whine in his elevated voice.
"Whether or not your question is relevant and if I can be bothered to answer." Jac retorted, clearly not interested, even if it was beneficial to her F2.
"Why is he dressed as a fictional character from a children's television show?"
"Because he knew you were a massive fan… How should I know?" Jac exclaimed.
"You didn't bother to ask the patient?"
"No. But if your so in love with him then why don't you take over? Yes, you will take over. I have enough on my plate on Darwin, let alone here, trying to convince the Patron Saints of Boob Jobs not to take any more of our beds." Ollie stared at his mentor.
"Are you serious?" His mouth grew wide in disbelief.
"Deadly. Close your mouth, unless you like the taste of flies!" Jac answered. Closing his mouth abruptly, Ollie self-consciously tugged at the rim of his collar as Ms Naylor strutted away.
"Great." Oliver muttered under his breath.
Jac had just passed Keller desk when someone caught and pulled her arm. She halted suddenly and her eyes followed the hand grasping her elbow to the bumbling face it belonged to. "Mr. Levy... What?"
"Why have you given Ollie your patient?" Shit. Jac's face was plastered with surprise. How did he know that?
"I thought he could do with a little hands-on experience…"
"No. It was because you wanted to get rid of him wasn't it?"
"Look, Sacha, I don't need this. Why would I want to get rid of my F2?"
"I can think of many reasons why you'd want to get rid of your F2." Sacha replied. Jac opened her mouth to retort something that Sacha could only assume was a sarcastic comment, so he quickly interrupted. "Look, just supervise him, ok?"
"Of course, I wouldn't have just left him there. But, on the other hand, who wouldn't want to be eaten alive by Scooby doo? Hanssen better watch out, he might get his gang on him. How I would enjoy that moment."
The man entered Darwin slowly; he didn't know what the reactions would be from his old colleagues. Tweaking his cufflinks, the man resisted the urge to repeat this action several times. The expensive suit he was wearing clashed with the light green, bloodstained scrubs the surgeons were using. Green? When did that happen? The doctors station was less cluttered, the dark green patient folders was neatly stacked in rows of five and the computer had been cleaned quite thoroughly, the chair under it positioned beneath the desk. Stroking his head, the man's eyes swept over the room, noticing the lack of blue curtains and the gradual overtaking of red. An Irish accent, one that could only belong to Greg, shouted out orders from a nearby cubicle. As soon as Darwin desk came into site, Greg froze, staring at the man that, at this very moment, was rifling through some of Ms Naylor's old notes, his brow furrowed in concentration. It couldn't be. But, it was. "Joseph?" The man looked up at the mention of his name. Realizing he'd been spotted, he quickly dropped the folder he was holding and walked over to Greg before offering a hand. Greg took it in relish and smiled his perfect smile whilst yanking it forward to pull Joseph into an unexpected hug. "It's been too long Joe, how are you?"
"I concur. I'm very good thank you – Harrys doing well." Joseph murmured, slightly distracted as he searched the crowd for the familiar face he was craving. Greg was more bemused than annoyed at Joseph's short answer, noticing his friend's eyes darting around Darwin.
"Looking for someone?" Greg teased.
"Hmm… No, No, of course not. Just looking around." Joseph paused to do up his button on his jacket, cursing himself for being so obvious. "You don't, by any chance, know where Jac is, do you? Only she has left some notes on the desk which I think she'll need." Joseph said, only managing to stop stuttering half way through his first sentence. He had never been good at lying. Fishing out the folder he had secretly already selected, Joseph made sure that the rest of the pile was lined up accurately. He tapped the notes with his finger. "Better make sure Ms Naylor gets these before she bites anyone's head off."
"Don't worry about it. I'll get one of the nurses to send them up. Most of them owe me a favor anyway."
"No, no, I can do it. No need to bother the nurses, they already have a lot to do." Greg raised his eyebrows before replying.
"Sure. She's up on Keller with Ollie." Greg gestured towards the lift, the door of which had just, conveniently, opened. "You probably remember the way." The Irishman smiled as Joseph nodded and walked away, unconvinced that his little trip to Keller had an innocent purpose. Greg had not known he had been staring into space until a voice, issuing from behind, awoke him from his improper imaginings.
"So, who was that then?" Sahira Shah asked, her brown hair falling delicately around her cheeks as she talked.
"Joseph Charles Mortimer Byrne. Ex Ct Consultant, a super clean freak and a terrible liar."
Jac Naylor nursed her ritual tiredness remedy – a mug of steaming hot coffee. This was a surgeons "fuel", it was vital to sooth the every day stress of being a doctor. As she savored the warmth of her drink, Jac could hear Greg's Irish accent float through the door of the Staff Room, chatting up a locum nurse that worked on Keller. Greg? What is he doing here? This is Keller Staff room; shouldn't he be on Darwin actually working? He'd probably rather sleep with the local bimbo than do his job properly.
Jac sighed under her breath, curling her lips into a disgusted grimace. She grudgingly lifted herself from her chair and, placing her coffee on the table mat, threw open the door to confront her lazy registrar. "Mr. Douglas, would you mind telling me why you are not on Darwin actually doing your job?"
"I'm sorry Ms Naylor, but there's too many attractive woman up here and I couldn't resist!" Greg pointed out, throwing a smile at the blonde nurse that stood beside him. "Besides, Sahira can handle Darwin while I'm gone."
"Well, if you'd rather chat up the local blonde than tending to your patients, consider that the next time I catch you, you'd be living on the streets with a greyhound named Shaggy and using the sport section to keep warm! Which reminds me, I have to see how my mentee is doing, and by the time I come back, you and your Juliet better have got back to work!" Greg nodded nervously and escorted his lady friend back to Keller Desk before heading for the lift. Jac heaved yet another sigh and ran her fingers through her hair. She tweaked her new-on, plain white top and exhaled heavily, rubbing her wrists with a circular motion that had always seemed to sooth her as a child. Quickly, she strutted to see Oliver, her look sleek and professional.
Jac collapsed gratefully on the adjustable chair behind the desk, rubbing the hardened soles of her feet – a consequence of the high heels that had been carelessly kicked off as soon as she sat down. Suddenly, the phone she had accidently left on, tore its way through the storm that was now raging inside her head. She fumbled in her pocket for her mobile to check the Caller Id. Joseph? Her heart fluttered as if a bird was trapped inside her ribcage as something in her stomach tickled. What would he want? He hasn't called me since the day he left. What could he possibly need now? Jac could feel the pure desire to press accept hit her like a bullet, egging on her thumb as it hovered over each button. But then, anger surged through her, delving into her mind and reasoning with her conscience. Ruthlessly, she threw her phone down, hard, on Keller desk, her irritation and fury rising at each beckoning ring.
"Nice to know I'm wanted." Jac froze. Deep, grasping breaths issued from somewhere behind her. Holding herself as still as a corpse, she slammed down the notes she had been holding in prostration and found that she was unable to move her legs. Could it be? No. But his voice sounds so similar! "Jac?" She held out her trembling hand and pushed the hair out of her eyes. Shaking, she inhaled slowly and pinched her arm in astonishment. It hurts! Can he really be…? With trepidation, she spun the chair around and came face to face with the man that broke her heart. Her throat constricted as all the words that she had so carefully prepared inside her head for this exact moment, melted away into oblivion. She just stared. "Hey Jac, Long time no see."