A/N: I actually have no idea where this came from, but it's quite different from the other things I've written so please be kind!
Gerry sat with his grandson on the Haematology unit, after Paula had asked him to take the boy for his test results while she was working. There was a small chance Gerry Jr. could have haemachromatosis as Paula's mum carried the gene, but it was a long shot. This test was just a precaution. Sitting next to Gerry was a teenage girl, who looked extremely frightened. Her hands shook on the magazine she held, and she was a white as a ghost.
Gerry stood up and got a plastic tumbler of cold water from the tank and handed it to her. "Are you alright?" he asked her, genuinely worried for her. She looked barely seventeen, and she was here, waiting in this unit, alone. No parents, no boyfriend, nobody.
"Thank you," she smiled, gratefully sipping the water. "I'll be-" she cut herself short. "I was going to say I'd be fine, but I wouldn't be here if I was," she laughed humourlessly. He smiled back at her. He didn't think it was right for her to be here on her own. It wasn't fair.
"What are you in for?" he asked. "If you don't mind me asking," he added. "I don't mean to pry or anything." She brushed away his concern for her privacy with a silent wave of her small hand.
"I've not been well since I had an accident a few weeks ago. The bruise is still there, which is what worried my doctor. So this is the day of my judgement, so to speak. What about your little guy?" she returned, nodding her head at little Gerry, who was playing on his granddad's phone.
"We're just checking that he doesn't have a blood problem. Just a precaution, really," he concluded. "You look scared to death. Where are your mum and dad?"
"No idea," she answered. "I left home last year. Finally had enough, I guess. I can take care of myself, and I'm better off without them."
"That bad?" he asked. They were interrupted by the nurse calling on Gerry Jr. so they followed her into the doctor's office. He was straight to the point – little Gerry did not carry the gene and he was going to be fine. That was a huge relief, at least.
They thanked the doctor and left his office, and Gerry Jr. went and got a glass of water from the cooler. Behind them, a nurse called, "Sarabeth Johnson!" The girl he'd been speaking to froze, and her dark brown eyes widened with fear. Gerry turned and looked upon the girl. She looked terrified.
He approached her carefully, and knelt before her. "Would you like me to go in with you? Just so you have someone next to you?" he offered her sincerely. It was in his nature to help the helpless. He'd always been guilty for it.
"Would you?" she asked him disbelievingly. He'd been right – she was terrified.
"Of course," he smiled. He turned to a nurse and asked her to look after Gerry Jr. while he went with the girl he now knew to be named Sarabeth. It wasn't the most common name he'd ever heard, but he liked it. He put a hand lightly on her back and guided her to the same office he'd just been in with his grandson. They sat down and faced the doctor.
"It's not good news, I'm afraid, Sarabeth," the doctor told her grimly. "Your blood tests show that you have a fairly aggressive form of leukaemia. Do you understand what I mean by leukaemia?" he checked. "I do worry that you're only seventeen, and though seem to fend for yourself very well, you're still just a teenager. You must be very scared, and very brae," he complimented her.
"You mean blood cancer?" she managed to force from her mouth, ignoring the part about her age. "I have cancer?" she demanded, tears welling up in her eyes. Gerry felt her hand grip his very tightly.
"Yes," he confirmed solemnly. "There is a good treatment regime for this particular form, and there is a very good chance we've caught it in time, and it won't come back," he tried to reassure her.
"Do what you have to do," she told him, wiping away the tears. "Do whatever you need to to, but please just get rid of it." The last of her tears were wiped onto her sleeve, and she sat up, back straight, and Gerry could see she was a very proud person. And a very courageous young woman. God only knows why she'd left home at sixteen, but he had a feeling things weren't very pleasant for her there.
"Alright," he said slowly. "Well, I'll send you out an appointment for a chemotherapy consultation, and from there things should move fairly swiftly," the doctor promised her.
"Have you got anything you want to ask, Sarabeth?" Gerry reminded her to ask anything she needed to, but she merely shook her head. "Do you want to go now?" he asked her gently. To this she nodded silently. She was obviously in shock, and he wasn't about to leave her on her own in this condition.
He guided her back out, taking his grandson's hand and taking them both off the unit. Sarabeth had said absolutely nothing to anyone. He sat her down in the café and bought her a piece of chocolate cake and some sweet tea. "Get that down you," he ordered her softly as he gave Gerry Jr. his can of fizzy pop and packet of crisps Paula was never finding out about. Ever. They had a pact: what Paula didn't know couldn't hurt either of them.
"Are you OK?" Gerry Jr. piped up to Sarabeth. It snapped her out of her trance-like state and she grinned at him.
"I sure am, you little monster," she smiled at him. She lifted his can of pop and waved it about a little. "I'm guessing your Mummy doesn't know that your Granddad is giving you fizzy juice and crisps?" she winked at him, drawing attention from the fact that she and the man facing her both knew she'd just been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Just then, Gerry's phone made a noise and he opened a text message from a clearly livid Sandra: Where the bloody hell have you disappeared to? You said an hour. Nearly 3 hours ago!
Now he was in hot water. He hadn't meant to take so long, but traffic had been bad taking Gerry Jr. in here, and he'd went in with Sarabeth and the time had just flew away. "She's gonna kill me when I get back," he groaned to himself.
"Who?" Sarabeth asked interestedly.
"My boss. She ain't pleased that I've been out so long," he explained.
"That'll be my fault," she sighed. "Sorry for getting you in trouble. And thank you for taking the time to help me. I don't know if I'd have dealt with that very well on my own," she admitted.
"Don't be silly," she scolded her. "No trouble at all. Between you and me, the guv'nor wants to throttle me most of the time anyway. I have a habit of winding her up. Unintentional, of course," he winked at her, bringing a smile to her lips. She actually chuckled. "No, I just have to take little Gerry back to school and then get back to work."
"Which school does he go to?" she asked.
"Christ Church," he answered.
"I'll take him on the bus with me. I live round there anyway, so it would be no problem," she offered. For some reason, he trusted this kid implicitly to look after his grandson.
"It's fine," Gerry replied. "Sandra can wait til I've dropped him off," he smiled.
"After what you just did for me, it's the least I can do...sorry what's your name?" she laughed, and he realised he'd never told her.
"Gerry," he told her. "My name's Gerry. And only if you're sure," he checked. She'd just had a nasty shock, and he didn't want to out her under any strain.
"No trouble at all," she smiled, finishing her cake. "And thank you, for earlier," she said again. "Right," she breathed. "I think if we're going to get you back in time for lessons, we need to get the next bus!" she said in a falsely happy voice so as not to upset the child. She stood up and helped him into his coat and packed his school bag up.
She was clearly a natural with kids, Gerry observed. She was genuinely a good kid who was having a hard time. He stood up himself, and she stretched up on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. "Thanks," she said yet again.
He handed her his card, and told her, "If you ever need me, just call me. Or even come into Scotland Yard and ask to see Gerry Standing from UCOS," he added with a smile, knowing it would drive Sandra off her head. He saw them to the bus and promised Gerry Jr. he'd see him at the weekend. Then he got in his car and went to face Sandra's wrath. What was he meant to tell her? He wanted to just come clean and tell her what had happened. But he didn't think she would take to it very well.
Hope this is OK!
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