Fuller, Keaton decided as he watched said doctor cradle Lily in his arms, apparently had an interesting talent for proving people's opinions about him very wrong.
When the three of them had first arrived he'd noticed some things about each one right off the bat. Brenner, as innocent as she looked, was sharp as a tack and not afraid to jump head first into whatever situation they needed her to. Minard was outwardly heartless but she was efficient, analytical, surprisingly emotional at times and actually quite fun to watch when put outside her comfort zone. So really anything that had to do with a living breathing human that wasn't comatose. Fuller, well, his initial impression of the kid had been just that. That he was a cocky little brat fresh outta the states that wanted nothing more than to fool around with the locals and give hot girls bigger boobs and face lifts. Cole had readily agreed with him on that front, unsurprisingly. One raised eyebrow thrown his way after seeing Fuller for the first time and Keaton knew he wasn't the only one thinking it.
Though it'd turned out that they had only been partly right.
Tommy Fuller was a cocky little brat. He was sure of himself and flippant about everything that he didn't understand or simply didn't want. Before his little girlfriend came around he hadn't even attempted to learn the language. It hadn't come as a shock to any of them that it took a piece of tail for the kid to even think about it. He'd probably forget about it as soon as he broke it off with the poor girl. And truly, Keaton had been surprised Cole hadn't beaten him within and inch of his life after the kid had almost chased off one of the most influential healers on the whole continent. Who basically told the people their clinic was a safe place to be treated. That particular scenario could have been disastrous in itself.
But then Fuller had gone after the healer by himself and talked him into continuing to help the clinic by deciding to push aside his skepticism and actually listen to what the old man had to say. He'd fixed that little girls' scarred face with a skill that even Cole had to admit to. Convinced a scared, stubborn man that didn't even understand English to let them treat his dying family. He'd taken Charlie under his wing, worried about and encouraged the boy until he became the flourishing, happy teen that they had all tried, but ultimately failed to bring to the surface until Fuller had shown up.
When challenged, Fuller was a machine, striving without end to accomplish his task and make sure that it went above and beyond the standards set out for him. Keaton mainly worked with Brenner, so he hadn't witnessed the kid's interactions with patients as much as Cole or Minard had. But he remembered the look Fuller had given him when he'd said to let their latest patient go. The thought alone had mad his jaw clench angrily and having to giving the order to just let the man die made Keaton loathe himself just that little bit more. His mind had been a whirlwind of; he couldn't save this man, couldn't save Abby, and couldn't do anything for Ryan except for sit and hope to God nothing went wrong. Keaton had always been told he was a damn good doctor. But when it came to the things most important to him? He was little more than useless.
Sometime during this he'd turned and looked back into the fierce light in those hazel eyes and his train of thought came to a screeching halt. The determined set of Fuller's jaw shocked him out of his self-depreciating state and for a moment all he could do was stare right back. There was anger in that gaze, whether it was directed at Keaton or himself the elder doctor hadn't been quite sure, and there was a definite edge of defiance that made his eyebrow twitch up curiously. He knew how to deal with young doctors that didn't want to follow orders and liked to 'rebel' against the system and do things their own way, but Fuller was different. This look didn't say, "Fuck you, I'ma do what I want." it said, simply, "I'm not giving up."
Even when Keaton had told Fuller to just let the patient go peacefully and the kid had looked away with a defeated slump of his shoulders, he knew in the back of his mind that as soon as he walked away, the kid was going to do the exact opposite.
Funny how he was still surprised to walk back into the room the next morning and not only find the patient still alive, but that he was actually going to make it. Bewildered and more than a little impressed, Keaton had smiled at Fuller who wasn't able to do much else but grin back. His relief and happiness at the success made him glow in a way that had nothing to do with the sun shining through the open window. Keaton had been proud of the kid, and more than a little bit glad that he hadn't listened to him.
"Hey uh, Lily c'mon now, what's wrong?" Fuller's nervous stutter broke through his thoughts. Brenner had at some point transferred to Minard's hold and was still sobbing quietly in the other woman's shirt. Keaton felt horrible for her. And could sympathize with the guilt he knew was eating her alive. What happened to that kid was not her fault, but she would carry it with her for the rest of her life. It was just the way she was.
Mina ran one of her hands over Lily's hair in a surprisingly tender gesture, sharing confused glances over her head with Fuller who was standing close with his hand smoothing circles over Lily's back. Their bodies were angled close together unconciously in a sort of protective circle around their friend and Keaton wondered if they realized just how close the three of them had gotten during their terms here. Baring Minard and Fuller's drunken tryst of course. That wasn't the kind of close he was talking about.
"I…" Lily sobbed, fingers twisting Mina's shirt in her hands. "I…"
"Shhh." The blond doctor tried, looking like she wanted nothing more than to run the other way. To her credit she only widened her eyes at Fuller in a silent "Help!" gesture.
Circling around but keeping his hand still on her back, Fuller ducked his head to meet Lily's eyes.
"Hey." He whispered to catch her attention. She sniffled and took a deep breathe before lifting her gaze to his. Fuller smiled. "I promise to send you an invite next time if it'll make you feel better?" He joked, raising his eyebrows to accentuate his mock leer.
Minard sputtered, shooting him a fierce glare over Lily's head. Brenner blinked a couple of times, adorably confused as she stared at her colleague and for a few moments Keaton thought she would hit him. She surprised them all, however, but bursting into watery and slightly hysterical giggles.
Despite the fact that she was shaking her head at him in disbelief, Mina couldn't seem to stop the amused tilt of her lips as she rolled her eyes at the man and Fuller shot her a grin that was all teeth and freakin' sparkles. Lily had lifted herself out of Minard's hold though, and was now wiping tears from her eyes as she laughed.
"Oh my god Tommy, only you." She giggled again. The utter devastation was gone from her face, but even from his position Keaton could see the lingering pain there that in all honesty would probably be there for a long time.
But she had friends in all of them and he knew that Mina and Fuller would take care of her as soon as she felt she was ready to tell them everything that had happened with the kid in the river.
"He was just joking." Minard ground out. "At least he'd better be." She glared at the kid who shrugged innocently as he slung his arms around both of the girl's shoulders and began leading them down the hill.
"Oh come on Mina. There's enough of me to go around. And it's Lily. You can share with Lily, can't you?" He smirked at her and she viciously pinched his side in retaliation. "OUCH. Bitch." Fuller pouted, making Brenner laugh again, while Minard just smirked back. It didn't seem like their friendship was going to suffer as much as the kid had thought.
Amused and shaking his head with it, Keaton couldn't stop his own chuckle from escaping his mouth and Fuller's head snapped up to meet his gaze. Tommy's pout fell from his face for a moment as he studied him, head tilting slightly in a way that reminded Keaton of a curious baby bird. The kid smiled at him then. Slow and almost shy and Keaton was smiling back before he had the chance to decipher the strangely pleasing ache it was causing before the three were walking past him and the moment was broken.
Odd. Ben thought, absently brushing a hand over his chest where his heart lay. He shrugged it off quickly and started making his way to his bike. Had to catch up to Ryan after all.
The ache went away when he kissed her goodbye.