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Something Always Brings Me Back To You

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This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

She was planning on a romantic Christmas surprise. She was going to fly home for Christmas, spend some well needed quality time with her husband and her best friend, catch up on all she had missed, and catch them up on all they had missed.

She couldn’t wait. She’d been looking forward to it for weeks, counting down the days and crossing them off the calendar with each passing day as the day got closer and closer.

Then she got that phone call.

And her whole world changed in a matter of seconds.

***

Five more days; just five more days, she thought to herself as she ran an affectionate hand over her slightly protruding stomach with a smile. Five days wasn’t all that long, right? Five days was nothing. But still, she couldn’t believe how long it had been since she last felt the warmth of her husband’s arms around her, since her fingers last entwined with his, since her lips last brushed against his. She missed him, there was no denying it.

And in five days, she would be back where she belonged, right beside her husband as they slept, protecting each other from the bitterly cold December weather and filling the void of loneliness in her heart.

Three months ago, she’d left her husband behind just a week after their rushed wedding and he had told her to go and do what it was that she did best, with whispers of love and affection and promises that everything would work out, that it was only six months; it wasn’t forever. He was her forever, Yale was temporary. She needed to do this, for herself, her career, and for their relationship. It hadn’t been an easy decision, of course not, and when she had to say goodbye at the departures gate there were many tears and long, tightly squeezing hugs and more promises of phone calls and skype sessions and the reassurance that Christmas was only three months away.

That was before the test.

Six weeks into her placement, Zosia began to feel exceptionally emotional, with mood swings more drastic than those caused by the bipolar. She wondered if her medication had stopped working, whether she needed her dosage adjusted, whether she needed a different type of medication altogether, but quickly shut the spiralling thoughts down and put it down to the stress of moving to an entirely new continent, to a new job three thousand miles away from her home. When the aversion to coffee started, she knew something was up. She loved coffee, it got her through the early starts and late nights and she often frequented Pulses with Dominic back at home, and never had it created an issue before. Brewing her usual morning coffee in her apartment one day, a wave of nausea came over her and she poured the entire lot down the sink immediately. When she thought about it, she realised she’d been more tired than usual lately, and upon doing some quick maths, realised her period was well overdue.

After a quick trip to the local convenience store, she returned with a pregnancy test in hand, but didn’t even need to take it to know what the result would be. This was just like the last time. She took it anyway, and was of course greeted with two pink lines on the plastic stick in front of her. Seeing the result confirmed in front of her was overwhelming, to say the least. Here she was, three thousand miles away from her husband, her home and her life, pregnant and without anybody to share it with. This wasn’t the kind of thing she could just tell her husband over the phone, estranged or not, long distance or living in each-others pockets. No, this had to be face to face.

So she kept it to herself, carried on with her day to day life and started the countdown to the day she would be back where she belonged. She hadn’t even told her colleagues, as friendly as they were, nor her boss, regardless of his potential need to know; she couldn’t – Ollie had to be first to know.

There was an Oliver Valentine shaped hole in heart, and she was tired of sleeping alone, of not coming home to his smiling face or the smell of his cooking. She was tired of not being able to tell him about her day, about a patient, about Dominic’s latest romantic dramas, about the baby. She supposed she should be used to it by now, but the Christmas season was not the time to be alone, especially nearly three months into pregnancy.

But then she steels herself up and remembers that she’d waited three months already, what was another five days?

***

She was on her lunch break when she got the call.

It was a surprise to see Dominic calling her in the middle of the day, normally he or Ollie would call early evening her time, just before they went to bed to catch up on their days. But she figured he just had some extra exciting mundane hospital gossip to tell her today, or maybe he had a day off.

                “Hi Dom, what’s up? Why are you calling so early?” Zosia answered her phone with a smile, looking forward to catching up with her best friend.

                “Zosh…” Dominic trailed off with a sniff, his voice caught in his throat.

At that moment, Zosia felt her heart drop straight to her stomach.

                “What? What is it? What’s happened? Are you okay?” Her mind was racing at a thousand miles an hour, wondering what on earth had happened to upset him that much.

                “Um…there was a – I, uh – god, how do I even start?” He stammered, taking a deep breath, hoping it would help him reset and

                “Dom, please. Just tell me.”

                “There was a shooting, at the hospital.” He swallowed hard, fighting the tears desperate to make their escape. “Raf, he um, he didn’t make it. Jac was hurt, but she’s doing well. Ollie, well, he um, he was in theatre. Morven said he protected them all. Typical Ollie, huh?” He took another deep breath and steeled himself to finish. “He was shot, in the head. He’s alive, but critical. They say the bullet may have damaged his frontal lobe, but they won’t know until he wakes up. I think you need to come home, Zosh. He needs you. I need you.”

Zosia felt her knees give out from underneath her and she felt as though she had been punched straight in the stomach, as though all the air had been knocked out of her body. Grabbing the counter beside her for support, and clutching her phone tightly in her other hand, she let out a gut wrenching sob. Why Ollie? Her Ollie. Her precious, perfect, stupid husband had to do the selfless thing and put himself in harm’s way to protect everyone else. Why couldn’t he have been selfish this one time?

She had no idea how long had passed when one of her colleagues found her, knuckles white from the intense grip she held on the counter trying to steady herself, phone clearly dropped on the floor and sobbing inconsolably through her hand, almost to the point of hyperventilating. She wished more than anything she was back home, then maybe none of this would’ve happened. Ollie would already know he was going to be a father, and maybe he’d think twice about recklessly taking a bullet to the head. Even if she couldn’t have prevented this, she would be there, by his side where she should have been for the last three months.

                “Doctor March? You’re having a panic attack, you need to calm down.”

Doctor Bethany White was only young, a wide eyed fresh faced junior doctor straight out of med school, and she seemed to idolise Zosia from the moment she arrived. She was a sweet girl; she stayed by Zosia’s side and comforted her until her sobs subsided, speaking softly and providing comforting sweeps over her arms to attempt to bring her back to reality.

Staring blankly ahead of her, a vacant look in her eyes, Zosia remained silent, the only sound her breath hitching every so often.

                “Doctor March? Are you okay?” Bethany asked softly, looking her senior colleague in the eye, hoping to gain some kind of reaction.

                “I need to get home.” She stared back at her junior, tears still shining in her eyes.

                “Um, okay, I guess I could call you a cab, it shouldn’t be too hard –“

                “No, I need to go home. My husband, he’s in a critical condition. He was shot in the head, Bethany. I’ve got to go home. I need to go home. I need to get to him. I need to get to Ollie. I’ve got to make sure he’s safe, I’ve got to get home.” She spoke rapidly, pulling herself up from the floor, suddenly hyperaware of her surroundings. “I need to get out of here.”

                “Okay, okay, come on, we’ll go to Mr Anderson together. Let’s get you home.”

So the young junior doctor took the hand of her mentor, clearly in a state of distress, and carefully guided her to the consultant’s office, cautious of spooking her any further.

***

Zosia couldn’t tell you much about that day in hindsight, but all she did know was that she would be forever thankful to that young doctor for helping her out and getting her back home to her family. Thankfully her bags were already packed, ready for her original flight just days later, speeding up the process of her getting to the airport and getting on the first flight out of Connecticut the very same day.

A long and draining 8 hour flight and a further hour in a taxi later, Zosia reached the hospital she once called home. Just standing outside the building, in the middle of the night, she felt the shift in its aura. Something horrific had occurred here just hours ago, and now her husband was left fighting for his life, and her colleagues, her friends, had had their lives changed forever. Living in the States had made her realise her stateside colleagues had become desensitized to this type of news, but she had no idea how they did it. How could one move on from this? She couldn’t even move one foot in front of the other.

Her vacant stare at the building in front of her and her whirring mind’s thought process was soon broken by a figure bounding towards her, shouting her name.

                “Zosia!” Dominic yelled as he ran across the car park to where she was stood. Noticing the tears sparkling in her eyes, tears that had been building for the last nine hours, he immediately pulled her close and squeezed her tightly, providing any and all comfort to her and to himself. “Oh Zosh, I’m so glad you’re home. I wish it wasn’t like this. I’m so sorry.”

                “How is he?” She croaked out, having barely spoken a word since she received that awful phone call earlier today. Or maybe yesterday. She had no idea what time it was, what day it was, or how long she’d been travelling.

                “Stable, for the moment. Critical, but stable. Ms McMillan, Roxanna, she was in theatre with him when, he, um, you know. Morven, too. They saved him.” He explained with a curt nod. “Come on, it’s freezing out here, let’s get you inside.”

                “What about Jac? Is she –?” She couldn’t even begin to think about what word was supposed to finish that sentence. Dead? Alive? Stable? Never going to walk again?

                “Jac will be fine. Sacha, Essie and Professor Gaskell saved her. She’s right next to Ollie in ITU at the moment, but they think they’ll move her onto Darwin tomorrow.”

                “Can I see Ollie? Can he have visitors?”

                “Of course. I don’t think anyone would stop you even if he couldn’t. Come on, I’ll take you to him.” He took her suitcase and wheeled it behind them as he snuggled her into his side like he always did, kissing her temple as a comfort.

Making their way up to ITU, Zosia was reminded of the last time she was here, when she was unsure if her father would recover from his various issues on the day of her wedding. God, why couldn’t she just catch a break? It seemed like the universe was against her, even when she tried her hardest to fight back and live a normal, happy life, something got in the way. First the death of her beloved mother, her undiagnosed manic bipolar disorder, which threatened to ruin her career, her overdose, the drinking, the drugs, the endless partying and random hook ups in her F1 days, which nearly ended her life, being presented as unfit to practice in local media thanks to that bloody Alex Lambert, losing her best friend in Arthur, her various arguments and fall outs with her father, Ollie running off to Mexico leaving her alone at Christmas, the abortion and nearly losing her other best friend to Isaac, and now her husband had been shot – she was just so tired of it all. When would it all end?

Dominic gives her arm a tender stroke when he let her into ITU, promising to be right outside if she needed him or if it all got too much. She nodded as she took a deep breath and steeled herself to walk onto the ward and see her husband in his currently comatose state. She saw patients in much worse situations every day, held their beating hearts in her own hands, but somehow when it was her own husband she forgot the surgeon part of her and just became a normal, concerned wife who knew nothing and could only pray for his recovery. Even with multiple stints in neurosurgery, nothing could have prepared her for this moment.

She audibly gasped when she saw him, and a lone tear fell down her cheek as she sat beside him on one of those awfully uncomfortable plastic chairs. Surveying his lifeless body, she took the hand closest to her in both of her hands, pressing a gentle kiss to it as more tears escaped her eyes and she cried silently over the hand she held clasped between her own.

                “Oh Oliver. What have you done?” She sniffs, trying and failing to keep more tears at bay. She strokes his head gently, keeping one hand intertwined with his, never losing physical contact, and careful to mind the bandages covering his wound. It brings her some sense of comfort to be close to him, to hold his cold, lifeless hand in her own. “You’re so selfless you probably threw yourself in front of them all without a second thought for your own safety, or for anything else. Because that’s just the type of person that you are, Oliver Valentine. And I love you for it, I do, I love you so much, but why did you have to go and be the hero? Now I’m left here, alone, and terrified that you’ll never wake up.”

Her voice cracks as she talks to him, but she keeps going, the one remnant of her brief neuro career reminding her that talking can help patients recover faster, give them something to come back to, something to focus on. She looks up to the ceiling and recomposes herself, taking a long deep breath before looking back at him.

                “I was going to tell you at Christmas, but you had to go and ruin that surprise, didn’t you? I’m pregnant, Ollie. All those times in that one week before I left, savouring every moment and stocking up on each other’s love for the next three months, turns out we weren’t as careful as we should’ve been.” She lets out a watery laugh, and wipes her eyes before continuing. “I can’t do this on my own, Ollie. So you have to wake up. I’m begging you, please, just wake up.” It was futile, she knew, he would wake up on his own time, but she had to at least try. “Please, Ollie. This baby needs you. I need you. I can’t do this on my own.”

Her voice breaks as she sobs over his lifeless body, his chest rising and falling thanks only to the ventilator keeping him alive. She cries helplessly at his bedside, and sometime later she is too exhausted from the high emotion and long day of travelling to keep her eyes open. She falls into a dreamless sleep, and she is thankful for the rest. She’s not sure she’ll be getting much of it for the foreseeable future.

***

She doesn’t know how long she’s asleep for, leaning over the edge of her husband’s bed, head resting by his side, it feels like only minutes, but she supposes it must’ve been longer. The exhaustion just wasn’t going to lift any time soon. She stirs when she notices someone approaching Ollie’s bedside, and wipes her eyes before sitting up and taking note of her surroundings.

                “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” Standing in front of her is one Morven Digby, who looks from Ollie, to Zosia, and back again, her facial expressions never changing from that of sympathy and heartache. “When did you get back?”

                “Earlier today, a few hours, maybe, I don’t really know. Time difference, jet lag, all this…” She trails off, motioning to Ollie and the various medical equipment surrounding him.

                “How are you doing?” Morven asks quietly, unsure of what she should say.

                “Um, I don’t really know how to answer that. Everything is just…wrong. He shouldn’t be here. This shouldn’t be happening. It’s not how it was supposed to be.” Zosia shakes her head, willing herself not to completely break down in front of the young doctor. “How are you, anyway? You were there.”

                “I’m…well, I’m doing as good as can be expected. I’m alive, and that’s because of Ollie. He protected us, Zosia. All of us. Me, Roxanna, everyone in that theatre is alive because of him. I won’t ever be able to thank him enough.” Morven wells up even thinking about it, and Zosia squeezes her hand for some comfort and support. God knows they both needed it.

                “That’s my husband for you.” She chokes out. “Always the selfless one. Never thinks about the consequences, just dives straight into action. Do you remember that bomb on AAU a few years ago?”

                “Yeah, how could anyone forget it?”

                “My dad, he was um…he was held captive, in the office. I was in theatre, with Ollie and Elliot. We carried on even though we were told to evacuate. When I found out my dad was downstairs, I ran towards AAU. I don’t really know why, just that moment of blind panic, you know?” As the tears fall from her eyes, she wipes them, sniffing, and continues her story. “Ollie ran after me, of course. He threw himself on top of me when the bomb went off and probably saved my life. That was when we had our first kiss. He’s always trying to save people, to protect them, but he never thinks about himself. And now he’s lying here, and I can’t do anything to protect him.”

                “Nobody could’ve done anything to make this any different, Zosia. What Fredrik did…it was unthinkable. Ollie made light of a bad situation. He sacrificed his own safety for everyone else’s. Nobody could’ve protected him, and all we can do now is wait and hope for the best. You know that more than anyone.” The young doctor tries to be encouraging, to make this awful situation even the slightest bit better.

She fails.

                “What if he doesn’t remember me? What then? How do I cope with my husband, the love of my life, the one constant, completely erasing all memory of me?”

                “You can’t think like that. If that’s what it comes to, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But for now, it doesn’t help anyone to be negative about his recovery.”

                “It’s all I can think about. Ever since Dom called me all I can think about is losing him, and our baby never knowing its father. How am I supposed to get through this?”

Recounting that story and thinking of the mere possibility of her child being fatherless sets off her sobs again, and Morven holds her close, squeezing tightly trying to comfort her. She didn’t think there were even any tears left at this point, but apparently she was wrong. Not being able to do anything was hard. Nothing could help him, no one could help him. Even being a former neurosurgery specialist, there was nothing she could do. And feeling hopeless was the worst feeling in the world.

                “Sorry, did you say baby?” Morven backtracks on the conversation about a minute later, having only just registered what Zosia had said. “As in, Ollie’s baby? You and Ollie?”

                “That is kinda how it works, Dr Digby. I’d hope you knew that much.”

                “Sorry, just a bit of a shock. You must be what…”

                “3 months.” Zosia finishes her mental calculations for her, and so she becomes the only person other than her comatose husband who knew about the baby she was carrying. There was something about Morven that made her trust her. Maybe it was her connection to Arthur, something comforting about sharing something so monumentally important with someone who was just as monumentally important to her best friend. She’s sure Arthur would be very pleased with this new found friendship.

                “Well, congratulations. And I’m sorry it’s not under better circumstances.”

                “Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault. Like you said, nothing could’ve changed this. All we can do is watch, wait, and hope for the best outcome.” She nods firmly, kissing Ollie’s hand, still entwined with hers, praying for some kind of miracle. “Morven, listen, Dom said that you treated him, in theatre, after…I will never be able to thank you enough for saving his life. You gave me a husband to come home to, even if he’s not awake to see me, you saved him.”

                “I just did my job, nothing special.” She mused, watching her colleague, her friend, lying there, unconscious, not a clue what was going on around him.

                “I’m not sure I could’ve been so strong in that situation. So thank you, I know you don’t think you did much but you’ve done more than I ever could’ve asked.”

***

Weeks passed, and whilst Ollie was showing considerable improvement, he was still yet to wake up. They had tried to bring him round a few times, tried taking him off the ventilator and allowing him to breathe for himself, but he wasn’t quite strong enough just yet. And so they waited. And waited. And continued to wait.

The continued waiting wasn’t doing Zosia any good in her already sensitive and emotional state, let alone with the added pressure of a mental illness and a pregnancy without her husband. Only Morven, Jac and Dominic (and probably Lofty by extension) knew about the baby at this point, and Zosia intended to keep it that way as long as possible. She didn’t want Ollie to feel left out when he woke up that everyone knew before he did. But if he left it much longer to rouse from his extended slumber, she’d have no choice and people would know just looking at her.

On the rare occasion Zosia wasn’t at Ollie’s bedside, she was with Dom at his flat, not wanting to stay in her marital home while her husband’s life still hung in the balance. Plus, she needed her friend more than ever.

 Christmas had snuck up on everyone, and nobody could be blamed for feeling less festive this year, though everyone attempted to continue their daily lives and celebrate the festive season. Zosia didn’t much care, Ollie was her only family now, and without him, nothing seemed worth celebrating.

Dominic had managed to convince her to sleep in an actual bed on Christmas Eve, to spend the night watching cheesy Christmas films with him on his sofa, both with pagers and phones placed next to them in case something were to happen. He had tried convincing her to give herself some real rest, but she snuck out early Christmas morning before he awoke and headed for the hospital to spend the day with her husband. Unconscious or not, she wanted to be by his side, especially on a day like today that should be spent with family. She would not leave him alone in that hospital bed with nobody by his side, especially not at Christmas.

It was mid-afternoon, and the ward was unusually quiet for Christmas. With Ollie still being housed in Keller’s HDU, all Zosia could hear was the steady beeping of the machines surrounding him. The silence didn’t much bother her, she’d almost grown accustomed to it. But in order to stop herself from going completely insane, she’d taken to reading to her comatose husband, and today’s selection was, aptly, A Christmas Carol. She knew it was one of his favourites, and Penny’s worn copy had become his on her death, and he treasured it. He’d told her once that as a child, he’d been cast in his school’s production of the novel, and he was a very proud Ghost of Christmas Present, and she’d cried with laughter when he showed her the photo of him in that ghastly green robe.

                “’Ghost of the Future!’ He exclaimed, ‘I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?’ Ironic, huh? Scrooge begging the spirit to speak to him, whilst I sit here praying for you to wake up and speak to me again.” Zosia sighed as she looked from the book to Ollie and back again, gaining no response. Of course not. She was beginning to think this was a lost cause. Roxanna had told her not to give up hope, that he was steadily improving, but how could she hold onto hope when nothing was working.

                “Some Christmas eh?” Zosia was startled by the voice coming from the doorway, she hadn’t realised anybody was there. “First Christmas as a married couple, bet you didn’t exactly have this planned.”

The unmistakable voice belonged, of course, to Jac Naylor. Her injuries had also been pretty severe, and they hadn’t let her out in time for Christmas. Zosia hadn’t even realised she wasn’t the only one without family on Christmas.

                “Shouldn’t you be with Emma?” She questioned, turning around to look at her former boss as she walked towards her.

                “She’s at Jonny’s, having the Christmas she deserves. They wouldn’t let me out of this place just yet. How’s he doing?”

                “The same, mostly. Roxanna says he’s improving but it’s just so hard when you can’t physically see any of that improvement.” She sighed, willing herself not to get upset.

                “Zosia, you know more than anyone what Roxanna means. You might not have wanted neuro, but you were very talented. Must be genetic.” Jac shows her a small smile, mindful that the situation with Guy was still very delicate for the younger doctor. “How are you, Zosia? Really? And don’t lie to me, you know I know you better than that.”

                “I’m coping. That’s all I can do. Dom says I need to focus on the baby, but how can I when Ollie’s like this? The thought of him never getting to meet his child kills me. He’s all I can think about, even when I do sleep, I have nightmares about this whole thing. What if I wake up one day and they just decide to pull the plug? Or he has another seizure and he ends up brain dead? What if he wakes up and I’m not here? All these thoughts are just constantly swimming around my head and it’s so hard.” Well, that resolve not to get upset didn’t last long. Why was Jac always there for her weakest and most vulnerable moments? That wasn’t the impression she wanted her mentor to have of her.

                “Zosia…” Jac sighed, and pulled her in tightly as she had done before, when she was breaking down and nobody could see it. “Listen to me, I never thought I’d say this but Dominic is right, this baby needs you, and you need to look after yourself to look after the baby. Trust me, been there done that. I know it’s hard, but I absolutely promise you so long as Oliver remains under treatment in this hospital, nobody will be pulling the plug, not if I’ve got anything to do with it. As for the other scenarios, those I can’t promise you anything, but I can tell you that he wouldn’t want you engaging in this self-destructive behaviour, especially not carrying his child. You’ve got to stay strong, but that means knowing when to go home and get some rest. It’s not an ideal situation, clearly, but you’ve got to make the most of what you have.”

As Jac finished her little pep talk and squeezed Zosia’s hand for comfort, a very red faced and out of breath looking Adrian Fletcher appeared in the doorway.

                “Jac, what the hell are you doing down here? I’ve been looking everywhere for you. You know you’re not supposed to be out of bed, I was pushing it letting you walk around Darwin let alone touring the entire hospital! Will you please come back upstairs, before you get me into trouble?” His words tumbled out faster than his brain could keep up.

                “Calm down, Fletcher. I just wanted to see how Oliver was doing. Can’t you wait? I’m kind of needed here.” She reasoned, glancing between him and a vulnerable looking Zosia.

                “Not really, I need you upstairs, you have visitors. Sorry, Zosia.”

                “Visitors!? Fletcher, what have you done, I swear, I told you no visitors!” She’d warned Petrenko about this. She didn’t want visitors. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this. She was weak, vulnerable; emotional. Nobody got to see that side of Jac Naylor.

                “You’ll want to see these ones. Trust me. Just, please?”

She sighed as she looked at Zosia, the poor girl was going through enough; Jac didn’t want her to be alone in this state.

                “It’s fine, honestly, go. I’m just going to read him some more of this.” She smiled weakly, encouraging Jac to leave her and head back upstairs. She could do this. She was a grown woman, she could be alone.

                “Alright. You know where I am if you want to talk. And Zosia, remember what I said. Stay strong.”

Comforting words from Jac Naylor, who’d have thought it?

With Jac and Fletch heading back upstairs, Zosia was left alone again, so picked up the book and began to read again.

                “’I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it for all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me, I may sponge away the writing on this stone!’

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.’

Well that was dramatic, huh? I can see why you like this book so much. Quite ironic that this part is all about the fear of death though. I feel a bit like Scrooge today, just begging for you not to die, begging someone somewhere to change the fates.”

She put the book down having finished the chapter, and closed her eyes as she sighed.

Then, she felt his fingers moving between her own, and her eyes snapped open. His other hand was doing it too.

                “Oh my god. Ollie, it’s alright, I’m here, open your eyes, come on.” She encouraged, almost leaping out of her chair. She must’ve knocked it over as she stood up so fast, as Sacha came running towards the room.

                “Zosia, are you alright? What happened?”

                “He’s waking up, Sacha, I know he is. He’s moving his hands, look.” She beamed, squeezing his hand and continuing her encouragement as he began coughing. “Come on, Ollie, you can do this.”

His eyes started to flutter and screw as he continued coughing, clearly choking on the ventilation tube he was still wearing. Sacha reacted quickly and tore off the tape holding it down, trying to extubate him as quickly as possible to stop him choking.

“Zosia, can you wait outside for a minute while I do this and check him over? Get someone to page Ms McMillan urgently.” Sacha requested, never lifting his eyes from the procedure.

“I don’t want to leave him, Sacha, please.” She all but begged her former mentor, and whilst his heart broke for her, he had to do his job.

“Zosia, I mean it. You can see him in a minute. I need to do this and Roxanna needs to check him over, please just go and have someone page her urgently. You need to do this, for Oliver’s sake.” He remained firm in his request, and she quickly scurried out of the room to do as she was told.

As Sacha finished extubating Ollie, he poured him a cup of water, knowing his throat would be dry and scratchy after nearly a month on ventilation. “It’s alright, Oliver. You’re safe now. You’re going to be okay, I promise.”

***

After Roxanna’s initial consult and Sacha’s check on general health, Zosia was finally allowed back in the room, thankfully alone so she could have her reunion with her husband in private. Almost as soon as she stepped into the room, she made eye contact with him, and almost sprinted over to his bedside with a smile brighter than the hospital lights on her face. She couldn’t believe it. He was alive, he was awake, and alive, and he’d come back to her.

                “Thank god you’re alive.” She choked out as the tears started, and she sobbed into his shoulder, the relief palpable and the joy exuding from her. She sat up just slightly and kissed every part of his face she could reach, checking to make sure this wasn’t a dream. He really was awake and physically reacting to her.

                “Aren’t you supposed to be at Yale? Saving lives and publishing research under a different name?”

                “Ollie, about that, I’m sorry, I never meant –“

                “I’m joking, Zosh.” He grinned at her as she sat up, and grabbed her hand to prevent her moving any further. “It’s alright, really.”

                “You’re an idiot.” She rolled her eyes and looked down at their entwined hands. “You’re such an idiot and you’re so stupid for throwing yourself in front of that bullet. Do you have any idea what possibilities I’ve been faced with?”

                “I’m sorry, Zosia, I am, but I had to. I had to protect them. I couldn’t just stand by and let him shoot freely.”

                “I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just can’t stand the thought of losing you, ever. I love you, so much, I don’t ever want to imagine my life without you. These last few weeks have been utterly terrifying. Not knowing if you would make it or not, if you’d even remember who I was.” He lifted their joined hands to wipe the tears from her face as she spoke.

                “How could I forget you, eh? My beautiful, talented wife. You were all I could see, and hear. It gave me something to come back to, knowing you were here. I had this dream, too, about this little girl. She looked exactly like you, but she had my eyes. It was like she was trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t figure out what. It was…weird.” He shook his head, confused, as Zosia looked down sheepishly. “What? What aren’t you telling me?”

                “I’m pregnant, Ollie. Again.” She almost laughed, but bit her lip and held it in, smiling as she looked up.

                “Sorry, what? You’re…pregnant?” He appeared confused, and she wondered if the bullet had damaged his basic medical knowledge.

                “Yeah. Nearly four months now. That one week before I left…” She trailed off, grinning as she remembered it. It was one of the best weeks she’d ever had. They’d barely left the flat. “Is that, um, okay? I guess? I don’t know. Tell me how you feel, please.”

Instead of responding with words, he pulled her forwards and wrapped his arms around her, squeezing tightly and kissing every part of her he could reach affectionately as she giggled happily.

                “We’re going to get through this, me and you. I’m going to help you, with all the physio and everything else you might need. I can’t leave you, again, not like this, not with a baby on the way.” She grinned as she sat up, looking deep into his eyes and noting the concern in them.

                “But Zosh, what about Yale? It’s your dream, and you still have a few months left of your placement.” His forehead creased with concern, he couldn’t possibly let her give up her dream job just to look after him. She had to at least finish her placement.

                “Yale was my dream, but I don’t need it anymore. I have a new dream now.”