Disclaimer: The story and characters of Doc Martin belong to Buffalo Pictures. This work of fanfiction is for personal amusement only and no infringement of any legal rights is intended.
Setting: Series 5 Episode 7-8.
Many thanks to robspace54 and jd517 for their kind suggestions and thorough editing. Any errors are solely my own.
Dr. Ellingham sits in his consulting room with the door closed, and hopes for a few minutes to review the stack of laboratory reports that sit on his desk. After the word spread, like contagion, that Doc Martin is leaving for London to resume his career as a vascular surgeon, the patient schedule is double and triple booked. He glances at the appointment list and frowns. These people need a dose of common sense, not a doctor. He sighs and pushes the paper aside. More likely, they are coming to gawk at the man who could not, once again, make a go of it with Louisa Glasson.
He looks out the window; his blue eyes reflect the over cast sky typical of the Cornish coast. She chose to leave him, take their son away and raise him here, miles from where he plans to live and work. Anger sweeps through him, replaces the dull ache that had been his unwanted companion for the past week. How could Louisa do this after he made every effort to care for them, ensure their health and well being? What did the bloody woman want from him?
He closes his eyes, imagines James Henry's tiny weight in his arms. This goes a little way towards slowing his racing heart.
Enough of this, Ellingham!
The pathology report of a punch biopsy he took of a suspicious mole from some idiot fisherman who doesn't believe in sun block waits his review. As he writes a note in the patient's record, his aunt Ruth steps into room, softly closes the door behind her.
"Looks like you're busy," she says, makes her way to the well worn chair reserved for patients, and sits on the edge, her expression impassive.
Martin scowls. "But you're going to come in anyway. Are you here as a patient?"
She hesitates. "Yes and no."
Of course not, thought Martin wearily. He sits back and waits, barely able to conceal his impatience.
She takes a deep breath and asks, "Have you changed your mind about Louisa?"
Martin looks away. A few days ago, Ruth came to him and asks about Louisa and the baby's move out of the surgery, back to her rented cottage across the village. 'It is for the best,' he told Ruth; why try to fix something that's broken beyond repair?
That night, he laid in their, no his bed, wished he could reach over and touch her, as he had done so many times while she slept next to him. He stares at the ceiling, spent but unable to sleep. Images of their short time living together flitter by; the baby cradled in her arms, her beautiful smile, soft lips against his cheek. Then the image shifts to Louisa telling him she can't go on, that it's never going to work between them. The ache in his chest became unbearable. Maybe he should have tried harder, but little of what she says or does makes any sense to him. No, trying harder would not make a difference. It hadn't with Edith.
He looked at the empty crib, eyes filled with unshed tears. He desperately wants Louisa in his life, but as night turns to dawn, it became clear he will never make her happy.
Martin blinks; his aunt patiently waits for his answer. "No." He looks away, not trusting what Ruth can see in his eyes.
Ruth shifts uneasily on the hard chair. She saw the same, sad look on young Martin's face after a treasured book or toy was unfairly taken away by his tyrant of a father. She is about to offer a word of comfort but before she can speak, he turns to her, his expression guarded.
"So, as your doctor, what can I do for you?"
She thinks quickly. "I've run out of oral lube."
"You could have telephoned for a repeat prescription." Why was everyone, his aunt included, so intent on wasting his time?
"I assume you would want to see me in person. My symptoms might have changed, my condition deteriorated."
"Has your condition deteriorated?"
"Not in the least."
"I supposed not." Martin quickly writes the prescription and with a sharp flick of his wrist, tears the paper off the pad. Maybe she'll leave now.
But Ruth isn't done.
"So you're going out to London as planned and Louisa will stay here with the child?"
Her concern for Martin is genuine. After all he is, with the exception of her estranged brother, the only family she has left. But she doesn't understand how Martin was so careless as to conceive a child with a woman so poorly suited to him in every way. Louisa is nice enough and a good mother but not Martin's intellectual or social equal. Of course, Martin is difficult at the best of times. Ruth witnessed far too many rows, more often then not the product of Martin's insensitive comments to Louisa. At least, they both have enough sense not to marry. Martin's decision to move to London without her is for the best. He can always make arrangements to see the child on holidays or when his busy work schedule allows.
Martin leans back in his chair, swallows hard and answers "Yes."
"Good," said Ruth. "Your parents stayed together for your sake. No one got out unscathed. We don't want a repeat of that."
Yes, thought Martin, she had to bring up his parents. The pictures Ruth found at the farm brought back childhood memories he didn't know he had or wanted. The dark, musty closet where he had spent countless hours, terrified, after transgressions not deserving of such punishment, returned to haunt his dreams. Later, his mother made it painfully clear that she never loved him, and he learnt his father was both unscrupulous and a womanizer. Ruth is wrong. His parents didn't stay together for his sake but to keep up appearances with their circle of ostentatious friends. He vehemently refused to inform his parents of James Henry's birth, to Louisa's consternation, leading to yet another row.
He shakes his head and sighs. Best not to dwell on such things; but he does wonder if the haemophobia and his difficulties with Louisa lay buried in his abysmal childhood experiences. In the end, he does not want his son raised by unhappy parents, their fractious relationship marked by daily rows, unwittingly hurting the child they love.
"Well, this has been fun," said Martin quietly and hands Ruth her prescription. She stands and walks to the door.
"If you want to discuss it further Martin, you know where to find me."
Ruth looks at him, surprised. Martin isn't in the habit of thanking anyone for anything. She gives him a half smile, closes the door behind her, leaving him to it.
To be continued…