Title: The Long Shadow
Authors: dancesabove and jewell
Disclaimer: The creative rights to the characters and plotlines in Foyle's War belong to Anthony Horowitz, but no infringement is intended and we in no way profit from the story we've written.
A/N: Please don't read this story unless you've seen "The Hide," the final episode of Foyle's War, as this immediately gives away the big reveal in that marvelously intricate episode.
Christopher Foyle could not figure out quite where he was as he slowly came to, but it was clear he was not in the trenches or on the field. He could see things only in a vague and unfocused way, as if he had his eyes open under water. When finally the world became clearer, he could see a dingy white tin ceiling above him, and smell antiseptic. He tried to shift and sit up, but a stabbing pain in his shoulder stopped him abruptly. Like autumn leaves falling into a pattern, his thoughts drifted together to form a likely answer to all the questions popping in his mind.
Hospital. Or infirmary of some kind. Dozens of beds; men sleeping, men moaning in pain, and nurses hurrying. I was hurt. Running with my bayonet, something burning my shoulder, down I went. Was I shot?
Gingerly Foyle moved his right hand toward his left shoulder, which was heavily bandaged, the arm braced as if it had been broken. His tentative touch of it made it leap with pain, and he threw his head back as he winced.
"Oh, no, try not to move."
He looked up at the young nurse who had halted at the foot of his bed. Though she looked almost too young to be yet out of her teens, she had an elegant, sloe-eyed quality that made her seem more mature. Soft dark brown hair curled softly about the edges of her white cap, and her irises were palest blue.
"You were shot through the shoulder and you must keep very still so that it will heal properly." She smiled.
The young soldier felt his heart hitch at her loveliness, and it flashed through his mind that there was something cool about her bearing at the same time that her smile was warm.
A doctor hurrying by the row of beds noticed that Foyle was awake. He glanced worriedly further down the line at a man whose condition seemed beyond a nurse's capabilities, but paused for a moment to say to Christopher, "You were extremely fortunate not to have any bones shattered. The bullet hit between your collarbone and scapula—shoulder blade," he added, when the young man looked puzzled.
The physician moved abruptly away in answer to an urgent summons from somewhere to Foyle's right. The fetching nurse moved closer towards him. "Do you need anything?" she asked in a soothing contralto voice.
"Um…where am I?"
"You're in an Army Hospital just east of Brighton."
"East of Brighton?" he asked, confused. So he wasn't still in France. He was badly enough injured that they had sent him home. Why couldn't he remember any of the journey? It must have taken days.
His face brightened and he chuckled briefly.
"What's that?" the young nurse asked.
"Well, if we're east of Brighton, I'm almost home. I come from Hastings."
"Jolly good! Then you'll have family here for you."
A shadow crossed his face, dimming his intense blue eyes.
"No, there's no one." A pause. "Could I possibly have a drink of water?"
She wanted to ask about his family, but that could wait. Water.
She fetched a glass and carefully helped him raise enough to sip.
Her touch felt like fire to him. The pain in his shoulder was sharp, but the heat of her hand and arm across his back was what he noticed. O God! How long had it been since he'd seen such an attractive young woman, let alone had her touch him?
He needed a distraction.
"What is this place? I mean what was it, before?"
"Ah, you'd remember it as St. Alban's School."
"Yes, I know it well." He had been to St. Alban's not long before he volunteered, to look into a case of vandalism.
"Forgive me," he added. "My name is Christopher Foyle. Are you from near here?"
"Yes, Sergeant Foyle," she smiled, "we knew you from your disc. "I'm Caroline Devereaux. I'm afraid I must help some of the other patients. Is there anything else you need?"
He hated to see this beauty leave his side.
"Please, one thing: I don't remember any of the journey from France—I don't remember much at all. Getting wounded, anything… Is my shoulder all that's wrong with me?"
"I'll have to ask the doctor to explain it properly, but it seems it's common after receiving a wound such as yours to suffer a slight memory loss. It doesn't help that you soldiers are generally in a constant state of exhaustion from battle. It's normal."
It wasn't normal for him to suffer a memory loss, but she smiled so winsomely that he just nodded his head and agreed. Then again, it wasn't normal for him to get shot.
"I'll come by and check up on you in a bit."
Christopher smiled, and watched as she walked away. He was exhausted… but if he slept he might miss her return. Caroline Devereaux. Stay awake! Such a sweet smile. Open your eyes! Those pretty eyes... She smelled good, too.