The Damage we do
Disclaimer : Don't own Casualty or any of the characters.
I am not a member of the armed forces and I am not an A & E doctor. This means I will try really hard to make it realistic but there are some things research just can't teach you. Please forgive the technical missteps. I hope this won't be too difficult to follow. At this point there are multiple Points of view but points of view of characters other than Sam and Dylan will be fleeting. In this chapter Sam's POV is the present (normal text) and Dylan's is the past (italics). This is a oneshot so far but I may add to it. Please review if you have constructive criticism or you like it. By the way am I the only one really gutted casualty has been lost to eurovision this week? Noooo!
Sam woke with a start breathing heavily. The face of the Afghan man she had killed felt like it was burned into her eyes. She tried to calm her breathing and absently reached out for her husband. She felt the cold bed and drew her arm back quickly, wrapping both arms around herself to try and provide some kind of comfort even if she didn't feel she deserved it. She turned her face into her pillow silently. The thought of the man's son entered her head and she wondered who was comforting him now.
Perhaps things were better the way they were. Perhaps this broken miserable thing that was her relationship with her husband was now her penance. She knew that further sleep was a lost cause and she rose, showered and got ready for work at a reasonable pace.
She sat at the kitchen table staring at the deployment paperwork she had received yesterday. The blonde flicked through to the next of kin notation. She breathed deeply and filled out Dr Dylan Keogh just like always. Even if he no longer belonged to her, he deserved to be told properly. She owed him that much. He deserved to be recognised as her most important person. He deserved not to see it on BBC news. It wasn't going to happen though. After all this time would be third time lucky. She felt the familiar pre-deployment mix of fear and anticipation fill her. She would tell Mr Jordan today.
One week in Holby left.
Two weeks to go.
"One week?" Mr Jordan questioned "That's a bit short notice isn't it?"
"I actually go in two weeks but I have to do some pre-deployment refresher training the week before I go."
"Well allow me to say we will miss you Dr Nicholls. And when you come back I would be happy for you to rejoin the department if you'd like." He gave her a firm handshake and she moved to the door.
"Thank you for what you've taught me. I'm going back a better doctor because of you. Will you give me the day to let Dylan know?" Nick nodded and watched her leave regretfully. It didn't take a genius to figure out why the young woman had brought her deployment date forward. It was unfortunate that the torment in her personal life meant that the only way she could escape the emotional hurt was to put herself in physical danger. The way they worked together, it was like they had known each other all their lives. It was just a shame their relationship outside work didn't play out the same way.
6 years earlier….
Dylan gazed along the bar happily buzzed from the alcohol he had consumed. It had been a hard day and he had uncharacteristically accepted an invitation from a couple of his colleagues to get out and enjoy himself. Usually he wouldn't have accepted but his best mate had made a couple of comments about his drinking on his own and he just wanted a night of a good drink without the guilt complex that usually followed.
Jack was there now, surrounded by a group of pretty girls who were laughing at his attempts to buy them all their own bottle of champagne. Dylan wondered how long it would be before Jack accidentally dropped the fact that he was a surgeon into the conversation. He was still only a trainee of course, but Jack didn't let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially where there was a pretty girl involved. Dylan noticed a blonde- haired girl at the edge of the group seemed less than impressed by his mate's efforts. She was exceptionally beautiful, in that effortless, non-made up way that suggested she didn't know it. She was checking her phone and was laughing at Jack's story in a way which suggested she thought he was talking balls. Which to be fair he was, even he would admit that if you asked him fair and square.
Suddenly one of the girls piped up "Sam, is that right, could he really do that? Our Sams' a doctor too!" The young woman he had been watching looked up and knocking back the last of her drink waved her arm in the universal sign for not getting involved.
Dylan still feeling the bravery of the happily intoxicated felt like talking to her and squeezed in by her side.
"My mate Jack." He said pointing at Jack. Sam looked less than impressed. "God, he's talking balls isn't he!" She laughed, and any guilt Dylan would have felt for bursting Jack's bubble went out the window.
"Can I buy you a drink?" She looked at him and then back at her friends who were roaring with laughter at something Jack had just said. Dylan suspected it was the hamster story. That was a good story.
She smiled and Dylan couldn't help smiling back. She was breath-taking.
"Yes thanks. I'm Sam."
"Actually I was just thinking about getting some shots. Fancy it?" Sam challenged.
Two hours later Sam and her friends departed and Dylan had both her mobile number and a sort of promise that they would meet in the same bar in a couple of day's time. Jack also had a couple of numbers from her friends.
Dylan watched them go and Jack swaggered up to him and hung onto his neck swaying. "I'm an awesome wingman for you, you know. All you had to do was lay in wait for the weakest one that got separated from the pack. You owe me big time Keogh!"
Dylan shook his head laughing, and then promptly stopped as it made the room spin alarmingly. "You're an idiot Jack. She wasn't the weakest one. She is the strongest one." He explained in his best 'patients are idiots' tone. "Right then. Chips!"
"Chips!" Jack repeated happily and they staggered off for chips and home.
Sam decided to tell him sooner rather than later and successfully stalked her husband to the staffroom during a less manic moment. Luckily it was just them and Scarlett who was collecting her purse to go to the café. Sam waited until she had left and watched Dylan as he made his bowl of cereal. She was silent and propped herself against the counter waiting for him to give her his attention. He tensed and she watched as his posture became rigid and the cereal was abandoned.
"When do you go?"
Sam moved closer, still facing the other way so they were looking in opposite directions, nearly touching. Nearly, but not quite. "Pre-deployment in one week, Bastion in two weeks. Six month deployment just like before."
He was silent for what seemed like an age. The he slammed the cereal bowl into the counter and walked away. Sam watched him go, feeling her heart break all over again and slowly and carefully cleaned up the mess he had made.
Zoë watched Dylan exit the staffroom, walking so fast he didn't even see her, bounding up the stairs to CDU like something was chasing him. She stood there continuing to try and sort out the recalcitrant ward sister on ward 20 who was putting up a valiant fight to avoid taking a frequent flyer. Sam left the staffroom and came over to the desk to grab a patient file.
"What's up with him?" She asked putting down the phone victoriously, knowing the army medic would know who she was referring to.
Sam stared intently at the patient file and Zoë wondered if she was going to answer at all. "I'm leaving."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Where are you going?" She asked genuinely confused. She knew Sam should be somewhere in the middle of her nine month secondment to Holby City E.D.
"Afghanistan." The blonde said shortly and walked off with her file.
Zoë watched her go, certain any comment was unwelcome. She thought about the Dylan and about Nick and how she would feel if Nick was suddenly called up to a war zone. She liked the young doctor, despite how Sam could be a bit of a handful at times. Zoë had never been close to anyone who had been a member of the armed forces apart from her grandparents. She couldn't imagine how Dylan dealt with it. She collected her files thoughtfully. She hoped this turned out alright, both for her gruff friend and his ex-partner. What a mess!
6 years earlier
Dylan woke up slowly, squinting at the light and realised he wasn't alone in the bed. He was wrapped around a warm body and he could see a mess of long blonde hair in front of his field of vision. He remembered last night, seeing Sam again, and then coming back to his flat. Oh God! He thought to himself. The alcohol has worn off. This will be unbelievable awkward and I'll never see her again. What if she doesn't fancy me sober? What if she thinks I'm too old? How can I keep from messing this up?
She shifted in his arms, obviously waking up and turned to face him. She looked even younger than he had thought and he felt a pang of anxiety as he resisted the urge to ask her how old she was. She smiled at him and leaned in to kiss him happily and Dylan smiled too, because this he could do. This wasn't awkward at all. There didn't need to be words.
"Fancy breakfast?" She questioned sometime later. He nodded and they clumsily made a hearty hangover cure of scrambled eggs and beans on toast. They timed things wrong, they put the toast on too early and overcooked the beans but it didn't seem to matter to Dylan for some reason.
As Sam was leaving Dylan finally got up the courage to ask her if she would like to meet for dinner the next day. She agreed and he went into work that afternoon feeling distinctly charitable. That is until the first drunken fourteen year old vomited on him and then he was pretty much back to normal. However he still hadn't clarified her age. How young could she be anyway? She had to be at least 23 to have graduated Medical school and be a doctor.
The dinner date and subsequent night went really well so he was annoyed to have his good mood broken on Monday by the news that for the next three weeks he would be shadowed by two medical students doing their first A & E rotation. He wasn't good with medical students, he made them cry, drop out etc. So knowing these students were exclusively his was not encouraging.
He walked out of the locker room at seven am Monday morning with the haughty dignity of a man who had been wronged and was bearing it as best he could. His supervisor brought along the two students clad in clean white coats and notebooks at the ready. The first student was a young black woman. The second was a blonde who seemed to be hiding behind the black girl. He wasn't holding out much hope for that one.
Until he got a good look at her.
"Dr Keogh, this is Astrid Nugamu and Samantha Nicholls, third year medical students.
He was speechless. Sam looked sick. His supervisor, as always was completely oblivious and prattled on, "I'm sure girls that Dr Keogh will try and teach you as much as he can about emergency medicine in the time that you are with us. Any problems he will be happy to help you."
Dylan managed a passable encouraging smile/grimace and the supervisor smiled as if he actually believed that and wandered off again. Dylan stood there for a second and then pulled himself together.
He pretended to look down at the file he was holding in his hands and read off it. "Ah yes Miss Nugamu and Miss Nicholls. Before we start, Miss Nicholls, a word please."
He led her to his supervisors office and closed the door. Sam still looked faintly sick and it took all of his self restraint not to bang his head on the door in frustration.
"I thought you were a doctor. God how old are you?" He ground out.
Sam looked annoyed and the sick look disappeared. "My friends think I'm a doctor. Med student, doctor, it's all the same to them. And I'm 21 and I bloody look it so don't you try that rubbish on me! I didn't lie to you!"
Dylan shifted uncomfortably as he considered he had ignored his misgivings about her age. She was so out of his league, that she even looked at him twice was enough, he hadn't cared about her age. He put his hand up in front of his eyes.
"I'll lose my job. You're my student."
"And I'll lose my army sponsorship." She snapped back. "We both have something to lose here. So we get back out there and we don't say a word. It's only three weeks okay! It's fine." She walked towards the door and Dylan's hand shot out of its own accord to grasp hers. He held it for a second and held her eyes in his gaze before nodding.
"Fine. Shall we, Miss Nicholls." He held the door open for her. "Thank you Dr Keogh." She said politely and walked back out into the busy A & E department, ready to start her placement.