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A story of a different kind

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Were this a story of a different kind, hands would tangle in hair, fingers would press flesh, breaths would become ragged and pulses would become raised, until one of them, realising that now was the time, finally the time, would stand, would pull the other to her feet, would lead her by the hand to somewhere more appropriate than the floor of an operating theatre, and this thing between them, this thing that has been palpable, almost tangible, for weeks, this thing made manifest and physical would distract them from what has happened to their friend, would sooth them, would bring them together and bring them relief, and make it so that they could face the next day, and the next, and the next, and make it so that they could do so side by side.

This is not a story of that kind, however.

And so, hands tangle in hair, and fingers press flesh - and then the incessant beeping of a pager reminds them of their responsibilities, and so, they stop.

And then one of them stands, and without saying anything leaves the other. She goes to fill Hanssen in on Fletch's condition, and she tries not to think about what they have just done, and what it means.

And the other - her guilt increased rather than assuaged by the reassurances she has just received and the comfort she has just taken - sits for a moment on the floor, until, suddenly decisive, she springs to her feet. She heads to ITU, and she stays there, keeping vigil, all night.

And so, instead of facing the world together, they face it apart.

And so, instead of embracing the remarkable new beginning that is theirs for the taking, they are forced to look backwards, weighed down by the burden of unfinished business and pulled apart by the loose and unravelling threads of their lives.