Bad Case of Loving You
My A&E shift’s just starting and I’m already knackered. Yesterday’s shift was shit and I didn’t sleep much once I got home. I hate it when a case goes bad. I know they always say you shouldn’t bring your work home with you, but sometimes I can’t help it.
We all did our best but it still wasn’t enough.
I have to get my mind off it. I’ll be useless if I can’t focus today.
At least Baz wasn’t on last night. He does his best to maintain that icy façade of his, but I know the drink driving incidents hit him hard. They hit all of us.
But not as hard as they hit Baz.
He lost his mum to an accident like that years ago.
It doesn’t help that he was in the car at the time. It doesn’t help that he’s never quite lost the limp from the fractures in his leg.
I didn’t know him then. Didn’t meet him until medical school, but Agatha knew him from before. Her father was one of Baz’s physicians and their families ran in the same posh circles. Still do.
Well, Agatha doesn’t. Not anymore.
Not since she called it quits second year and hightailed it to America to study veterinary medicine.
Penny knows Baz from secondary school. Took top marks in their class, Baz did.
He turned right around and did the same thing in medical school, to her eternal annoyance. She might have forgiven him the once, after the accident, but not the second time around.
Says he’s been a right prick since the first day she met him, but brilliant as hell.
He still is, the tosser. A brilliant bloody arsehole.
It’s uncanny, the way he can come into the trauma room and grasp the situation lightning fast. Hooded grey eyes darting from the patient to the monitors, barking out a rapid-fire of questions in that posh voice of his, then snapping us all to attention as he starts rattling off orders. Makes me feel like a registrar all over again, the way he just takes control of the situation and I’m relegated to the sidelines.
It’s how it should be, I suppose. My job is to triage and stabilize and Baz’s job is to do the rest. So once he hits the room, the command is his.
It shouldn’t bother me.
It doesn’t bother me when it’s Niall or Dev. Not that they aren’t pricks, but they’re not as shitty about it. They don’t sneer at me or pepper me with questions that make me feel stupid.
I may not have been doing this for that many years, but neither has Baz.
I’ve been at this longer than he has, what with his training as a surgeon taking more time than mine did as an A&E physician.
I know what I’m doing. I’m good at what I do.
I just get flustered and frustrated when he sweeps in and takes charge, as if I’m a trainee all over again. Pisses me off, it does.
But I can’t yell at him or make a fuss. We’re part of a team, so I’ve got to bottle it up until I get home and can vent to Penny.
There are days I wish she hadn’t gone on to get her doctorate, that she’d kept on the path to being a GP, rather than going into research.
I know she’s more suited to lab work though.
Penny’s bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. She’s my best friend and I think the world of her, but even I have to admit she’s a bit shit with the pleasantries. Meaning she’s got none.
She just can’t be bothered and plunges right on in to the heart of the matter. Every time. She’s all about solving the problem, Penny is. Hones right in on that and forgets the hand-holding part.
I’d love to say Baz has shit bedside manner but he doesn’t, the wanker. He’s all imperious with me and the other staff but it’s like he’s a different person with patients. Like he cares.
He almost makes me think he really does.
I’ve already checked the roster and Baz is on today, which isn’t helping my mood any.
Sundays are the worst. You’d expect them to be slow days, quiet compared to the rest of the week. They’re anything but quiet.
Fuck. Now I’ve pissed in it. I don’t know how many times I’ve growled at the others when they’ve used that word. It’s bad luck to say ‘quiet’ in A&E.
Fuck. I just did it again. Bloody hell.
It doesn’t matter if you say it or think it, it’s always the same sodding outcome. We’re a superstitious lot, we physicians are, and I’ve just gone and fucked my whole bloody shift now by thinking about it. It’s going to be a shitshow and I can only blame myself.
There better not be a fucking full moon.
There’s coffee at the nurses’ station. I prefer tea most days, but I need the hit of caffeine today. Hospital tea is a bit shit anyway. The coffee is usually better even though I typically steer clear.
There’re just a few patients still listed on the board and they’re all pending discharges. Looks like Keris left me a tidy unit, everyone tucked away and accounted for, nothing for follow up.
I’ve had quite a few shifts in a row this week and more to come. I can feel the fatigue all the way down to my toes. It’s what I get for taking a few days off to go to that bloody conference Dr. Mage insisted I attend.
He insists on a lot of things, Mage does. He’s been chief of staff here for years now and he runs it like a dictatorship. I mean we’ve committees and such, but he still always does what he wants. Even more so now that he’s been made chief administrator as well.
I didn’t think someone could do both, but he managed to convince the Board somehow. A lot of rot about clinically integrated networks and data driven results and healthcare informatics.
Hence the conference I was obliged to attend. Not something useful like new techniques in opioid overdose management or emergency coronary angiography for cardiac arrest survivors or more hands-on training for orthopaedic emergencies (those bastards never want to come in when they’re on call) (I’m looking at you, Nicodemus, you twat).
Mage made me go to a Digital Transformation Summit which was three days of absolute rubbish on electronic medical records. Pretty useless for me. I’m not all that tech savvy in the first place and I tend to fall asleep in large lecture halls, especially when the topic is so excruciatingly boring.
It’s not like I make any decisions on policy or tech around here. Mage was there himself, so I can’t for the life of me understand why I had to go, other than to give him someone to eat lunch with every day.
He didn’t seem to have a lot of friends there.
For some reason he always picks me to go on these missions to ‘advance the service lines’ available at Watford Hospital. Probably because I’m shit at saying no, that’s what Penny would say.
It’s true. I am shit at saying no to him.
I owe Mage, I suppose that’s it. My old hospital shut down while I was in training and our entire registrar program was orphaned as a result. Nowhere to train. No hospitals willing to pick us up. It could have been the end of my career, for all I knew. Mage swept in and found places for a few of us. Called in some favors.
So now I’m here, at Watford, thanks to him.
This coffee is shit. I doubt it’s a new pot. It’s probably been sitting on this burner for hours. It’s starting to make sense why Baz pours in so much cream and three lumps of sugar every time.
I don’t want to think about why I know how he takes his coffee.
I don’t want to think about Baz.
I’ve been trying to think of anything but him, but that’s near impossible.
It’s been seven months since he started working at Watford and it’s more of an effort every day to keep my mind from wandering to thoughts of him.
Fuck. It’s as bad as first year.
I thought I’d won the dorm lottery first year of medical school, landing the big corner room with the en suite and no roommate. Didn’t last long. Halfway through the first term I found out I’d be getting a roommate after all. Didn’t think it’d be Baz Pitch, of all people. Thought he’d be off in some posh flat in Chelsea, away from the riff-raff.
Turns out he had been. But living with his aunt hadn’t meshed well with medical school or his study habits, so I got saddled with him, having the only empty quarters.
I knew who he was, of course. Everyone knew Baz. Top of our class. Competing with Penny to be the first one to answer the professors’ questions. Always sitting in the back row with Dev and Niall, sneering at the rest of us.
Oh, yeah, I knew Baz.
Knew just how he squared his shoulders before raising his hand in class. The way he’d tuck a strand of his hair behind his ear as he studied. The narrowing of his gaze when he found someone particularly annoying. Mainly me.
And that was all before he even moved into my room. Before he invaded my space, cluttered up my bathroom with his posh hair products, drove me mad with his rules, seared my senses with his bloody cologne.
It’s hard to ignore Baz. He takes up space, not in a physical sense, but with his presence. I don’t know how to explain it. Any room seems smaller when he’s in it and your eyes are drawn to him, magnetized in his direction.
He’s mesmerizing and it’s so bloody unfair that he occupies my mind like this.
Fine, I think he’s fit, I’ll admit it. I’ve thought he’s fit since I first laid eyes on him. But I find other blokes fit and I don’t fixate on them the way I do with Baz.
Penny says I’m obsessed. She won’t let me whinge about him anymore. Said I passed my lifetime ‘whinging about Baz’ quota third year.
Fuck it all. It’s the most exasperating thing about him, I think, that I find him so attractive.
No, that’s not quite true. The most frustrating thing about Baz is that he can’t stand me.
I’ve got three shifts with Snow this week and I’m sure to go mad as a result. I usually try to limit myself to one or two, it’s about all I can manage in a week. But with him going off to one of Mage’s idiotic conferences last week and Dev’s blasted vacation days later this week, I’m stuck with him it seems. I tried to switch with Niall but he just grinned at me and said “Nah, mate. I’ve got plans. Have fun with your little snowflake.”
I don’t know why I’m still friends with Niall, honestly. He thinks he’s so clever, making comments like that, waggling his eyebrows at me, sniggering with Dev at my expense.
Worst mistake I ever made was confessing my crush on Snow to them. That particularly shitty work shift (and my overconsumption of whiskey when it was over) severely affected my judgement or I never would have said a word.
But they know and absolutely take the piss about it constantly.
I knew Snow worked at this hospital when I took this position. I knew I’d have encounters with him. What surgeon can manage to avoid A&E?
But I thought I was over him. Thought I’d exorcised my feelings for him long ago. I hadn’t seen him in years. Of course I still thought of him from time to time (time to time translating to multiple times a week) (and occasionally when I wanked) (I’m pathetic, I’m aware).
But I’d had a few relationships in the interim. I had started at Watford while I was in one, in fact. Assumed that would make it easier.
It didn’t. Sebastian and I broke up within weeks of my hiring. I was “too focused on work” according to him, and I was once again far too consumed with Snow to bother working out the issues with Seb.
I couldn’t turn down the position at Watford, even if it meant being in Snow’s orbit again.
Dev and Niall had both signed up here, part of Mage’s revamping of the surgery department. I don’t think he was too keen on hiring me, but the Board bent over backward striving to attract Natasha Pitch’s son back to the Watford fold.
It would have meant the world to my mother to have me here.
My mother was the Chief Administrator of this hospital for years. Pulled it back from the brink of bankruptcy. Initiated the community tailored preventative care programs that made it a well-known name in London’s medical circles. Expanded services for women and children and then created the country’s first on-site nursery for the children of hospital staff.
Her picture is still on display at the front entrance. Even Mage can’t make that go away.
Father thought it would be too traumatic for me to take a position at the same hospital where Mother had worked.
And where she ultimately died.
But it’s home to me, despite the difficult memories. Just as much as the Manor is. I was born here. Spent the first days of my life on the third floor. Napped in a playpen by Mother’s desk when she first came back to work. Played with blocks on the floor of her office when I was a toddler.
I gave her the idea to create the nursery. Not directly of course, even I wasn’t that erudite as an infant. But she made a habit of bringing me to work with her one or two days a week and that planted the seed of the idea. By the time I was four she had taken over some of the billing department’s space on the first floor and created the Watford nursery.
There are good memories here. It’s just shit to see Mage occupying the space she held. It’s infuriating watching him steamroll her humanist ideals with his data driven infometrics.
He defies every principle she founded her career on, except the one about fiscal responsibility. Although I’m not so sure about that one anymore, seeing how much money he wastes on consultants, attending conferences, mandatory staff webinars.
He’s grooming Snow for something. There’s no question. What other reason would he have to keep dragging an A&E physician to all these administrative and executive focused meetings? Maybe Mage wants to put Snow up as Chief of Staff so he can focus on the administrative side of things and know he has a proven lackey in the job. Someone who will be guided by Mage and do his bidding.
I know it’s hateful to think of Snow that way. He’s not like that really. He’s probably one of the strongest advocates for the humanistic approach my mother espoused, but he doesn’t have the authority to make a difference, not with Mage in charge.
I’m at the surgical ward now and I manage to fill my mind with aberrant electrolyte results and wound checks instead of thoughts of Snow.
Until my pager goes off and I see the A&E number.
The first patient rolled in before I even managed two sips of my shitty coffee. There are some diagnoses you can make from across the room. This was one of those. From the writhing and moaning I’d put my money on kidney stones.
I’d locked eyes with Philippa as I put my hand on my flank and she’d nodded at me. You can have quite a few nonverbal conversations in A&E, particularly with trusted staff. I knew she’d ring up the CT tech while I examined the patient and punched in the orders.
The next patient showed up as I was confirming my kidney stone diagnosis with the radiology consultant.
I’d need Baz for this one. Hot gall bladder. He’d have to make the call on if the patient went to the ward for observation overnight or straight to the surgical suite.
I make sure to have all the pertinent data at my fingertips. I freeze up with Baz sometimes, stammering and stuttering my way through my reports to him, like I’m a student again. I’m determined not to let that happen this time.
“Dr. Pitch on the line for you, Dr. Snow.”
I pick up the phone and punch the button with the blinking light. “It’s Simon.”
“What have you got for me today, Snow?” His cool, cultured voice echoes over the phone line.
“Hot gall bladder. Healthy forty-five-year-old female. No comorbidities. She was here twelve days ago with similar symptoms but her temp is up this time and the white count is concerning. Thought you might want to take a look before I send her up to the ward.”
“I’ll be there shortly.”
He rings off and I congratulate myself on my coherence.
Snow’s nailed it this time. This gall bladder needs to come out. I ring up the head nurse and call in the team. My ward work is all done which means I’ve got some time before the operating theatre staff is assembled, so I choose to indulge myself a bit. I commandeer a chair near Snow’s workstation and make a pretense of being absorbed in my mobile. I’ve got just the right angle to glance at him above my screen and hope to hell he’s too immersed in his work to notice.
He's not. I catch him eyeing me and have to look down at my mobile again. Blast him. I can’t even ogle him in peace.
I’ve had a thing for Snow since we first met. I’d been eyeing him from across the room at that first year meet and greet, nonchalantly making my way over to where he was chatting with a frightfully animated Penelope Bunce. I was about to insinuate myself into their conversation so as to wrangle an introduction to Snow.
Instead he laughed at something Bunce said and flailed his arms around, accidentally spilling his drink on me. I instinctively barked at him (red wine stains on linen pants are a certified disaster) and things went to shit from there.
I think we were both mortified. I responded by insulting him and he responded by blustering. It was open hostility from then on.
Rooming together didn’t help matters. I thought it might, when Dr. Possibelf had said the only open dorm space was with Snow. I’d thought perhaps sharing a space would somehow magically make us friends.
It didn’t. His proximity only fanned the flames of my attraction to him, which made me anxious and irritable.
Which in turn made him stubborn and argumentative. We wrangled about everything. Room temperature, whether the window should be open or shut, shower times, counter space, general tidiness, the state of cleanliness of the en suite.
It became a pattern we fell into and even though my feelings for him deepened rather than receding, I couldn’t make myself stop sabotaging it all.
It’s one of my self-destructive tendencies. Yes, I’ve spoken to my therapist about it. Doesn’t mean I’ve managed to rid myself of it.
I’ve a tendency to sabotage good things. I have an ingrained conviction that I don’t deserve them.
My father believes it stems back to my mother’s death and that’s certainly a valid supposition. My mother was not only a parent to me, she was my best friend. My confidant. My strongest supporter and the person who had my back, time and time again.
Not that my father doesn’t. He’s a good man, believe me, but something broke in him when we lost my mother. He’s never been quite the same.
He tries to be supportive. But he’s not got Mother’s way with words, her quicksilver assessment of any situation, her natural empathy that always seemed to find the right response. Her fierce protectiveness.
I miss her.
I shake my head. I can’t sink into these kinds of thoughts now, not here, not when I’ve got work to do. I close my eyes and mentally walk myself through the steps of the surgery I’m to perform shortly.
It’s a habit from when I was a trainee, a calming approach to hone my focus.
Mental checklist complete, I dare to dart another glance at Snow. He’s focused on his computer screen now, the blueish light of it fading his tawny skin to a pale gold, blunting the contrast of the freckles and moles that dot his skin. His fingers peck at the keyboard as I watch him and then he sucks his bottom lip between his teeth.
I want to do that.
I want to tug at that lip of his with mine. Trace the scattered constellations of moles on his skin with my tongue. Sink my fingers into his bronze curls.
I’m so fucked.
I’m not sure why Baz is still in A&E. I swear I heard him tell Philippa to prep the patient for surgery.
I’m doing my charting. I can’t let myself fall behind or I’ll spend half my night here catching up. Ear infection—check. Kidney stone lady—check. Admission for pneumonia—waiting on a bed. I click into Baz’s patient’s chart and pause. I’ve been darting glances at him while I do my work. I don’t think he’s noticed—he’s all wrapped up in his mobile, tapping away at the screen, leaning back elegantly in the office chair near me.
He does everything elegantly, the tosser. Baz can be down here, running a cardiac arrest in the trauma room, blood splattered all over his scrubs, strands of his hair slipping out of the elastic band holding them up, fingers gracefully threading a central line or endotracheal tube into a patient, and he still looks bloody perfect. Shoulders back, head held high, the calm stillness of his face reassuring the rest of us that he’s got everything well in hand.
And he’s looking right at me now.
I frown to cover and wheel around in my chair to address him, as if I that was what I was about to do when he caught me staring.
“Dispensation to OR then, for the gall bladder?” It’s a perfectly natural thing to ask. I need to know so I can close out my chart, after all.
Baz’s lip quirks up on the left side. He’s got a dimple there when he smiles. Which isn’t often, mind you, so it’s maddening that I know that.
But I do know it.
It’s not on display at the moment, more’s the pity.
“Yes, her gall bladder needs to come out. She’ll be back, no question, if we don’t take care of it tonight and in far worse shape for the waiting.” Baz crosses his arms and regards me. “Good that you called me.”
“Ah, yes, um, yeah, always feel better letting the surgeons have a look when the exam is like that and labs are wonky.”
His lip stays quirked and his eyes go soft. There’s almost . . . well, I might call it afond look, if I didn’t know better.
It’s fleeting, gone before I have a chance to get a good look at it.
“Well, you’re thorough, Snow, and you have good judgment with this sort of thing.”
I’m flummoxed now. Did Baz just compliment me on my clinical skills? “Thought you said I couldn’t diagnose a laceration even if it was bleeding on me?”
He scoffs, the tosser. “That was third year. And you were exceedingly thick back then. You convinced yourself that you had contracted Dengue Fever after a microbiology lecture first year, when you’d never even left the country.”
I mutter at him. “Wasn’t just me that thought that, you prat.”
“Microbiology mass hysteria, the lot of you. You should have known better.”
“If you’d let me open the window I might not have thought I was running a fever.”
“It was January!”
“Still. You were of no assistance. You’re the one who told me I was covered in spots!”
“You are covered in spots, Snow. I didn’t lie about that.” He’s smirking, the twat.
Despite the digs back and forth, this may be one of the most civil conversations we’ve had in years.
Baz’s pager goes off. He glances down at it then raises an eyebrow at me. “Duty calls.”
He saunters past me and I can’t help but watch him walk away.
Even scrubs can’t disguise what a nice arse he has.
This gall bladder is proving to be more of a challenge than expected. The patient’s been sitting on this for longer than a few weeks, no question about that. I clip another vein and painstakingly dissect a bit more. I’m almost done, just a few more passes and I’ll have it out.
My pager’s been beeping almost nonstop and just as I finally get the gall bladder out I hear my mobile start to ring again.
“Ugh, Trixie, would you get that?”
“It’s A&E. Dr. Snow on the line.”
I roll my eyes at her. “What does he want this time?” I irrigate and then check for any stray bleeders before I start to close the small laparascopic incisions.
She shrugs and focuses her attention back to the call. I dart a glance at her when she doesn’t volunteer any information to me.
“Trixie? What does Snow want?”
She shakes her head. “He said he thinks he has a ruptured appendix down there for you.”
It’s going to be one of those fucking days, isn’t it? I wonder if there’s a full moon. Wouldn’t doubt it.
I’ve been bombarding Baz with consultations. The gall bladder was just the first of many today.
I’ve managed most of them myself, with some indirect conversations with him, Trixie being the go-between since he’s still up in the operating suite. He’s going to find a few patients waiting for him on the ward when he’s done for the day.
This appendix needs him now though.
The A&E double doors slam open and Baz sails through looking like a scrub-attired version of that one scene from The Lord of the Rings. Fucking Aragorn doing an open sesame on the doors. Dramatic wanker. All he’s missing is a sword.
His bouffant surgical cap spoils the effect a bit. Likely forgot he’s even wearing it.
I like that Baz wears a bouffant and not a surgeon’s cap. He could do it—put his hair up and wear the old school cap, but he doesn’t. He still wears his hair up, but always with the bouffant.
Over the years I’ve learned it’s always the arseholes who insist on wearing the surgeon’s cap. Not that Baz isn’t an arsehole, but obviously not enough of one to let it affect his headgear.
I try not to think about the fact that Mage always wore custom surgeon’s caps in his signature green hue, when he was still operating. Made him look like bloody Robin Hood from that old Disney animation, with his reddish hair and precise mustache, white coat streaming behind him like a cape.
I shake my head and go back to perusing the lab work, keeping an eye on Baz while I do. He’s headed straight to me. He stops at my station, resting his crossed forearms on the counter in front of me.
“Where’s the appendix, Snow?”
“He’s in ten. White count’s high and he’s miserable. Temp’s up and he’s tachycardic.”
“Fuck it all.”
“Sorry. I’ve been a pest today, I know.”
There’s that look again, the one that I’d call fond in anyone but Baz. “Not your fault. It’s just a bloody nightmare here today, isn’t it? Is it a full moon? I didn’t check.”
I shake my head. “No, that’s next weekend.” I chew my lip. “I’ve got a shift Saturday, I think.”
“My condolences.” Baz pulls his mobile out of his pocket and taps at the screen. “Bloody hell, I’m on Friday night.” He shakes his head and turns away, heading in the direction of room ten.
I watch him go.
I can’t seem to stop watching him today. I’ve been resisting the urge for months now, poorly mind you, but for some reason I’m losing control of my discretion today.
I wish . . . I don’t know quite what I wish for. The open hostility we had in school has faded but it’s left this awkward détente. I can kid around with Dev and Niall, trade barbs with them, but overall it’s fairly congenial.
Dev can be a bit of a pompous arse and Niall is condescending too bloody often, but they’re alright for the most part. Solid surgeons. Pains in my ass, but not more than expected.
Baz is different. There’s always been this thread of tension, a ripple of aggression just below the surface. We don’t explode at each other anymore but it’s still there, this magnetic pull between us.
Electric. Unpredictable. Undeniable.
I’m not even going to think about why I can’t stop looking at him and what that might mean. Or why I was checking out his arse earlier. I don’t have time for it.
Baz hasn’t come out of the patient room yet when the Philippa takes the ambulance call.
“Simon.” Her tone of voice demands my attention.
She’s got a white-knuckle grip on the phone in her hand. “Multiple vehicle accident on the M25. We’re the closest hospital so they’re bringing the first of them here.” She blinks at me. “I think I’m going to have to put the alert out. We’ve not got enough people to handle that.”
Bloody hell. Today is turning into absolute shit.
We haven’t had to pull an alert in months. We can usually handle whatever hits the door but a pileup on the M25 is a bit more acute, especially if they’re bringing in numerous patients. I glance in the direction of room ten. Baz is going to be caught up with this appendix. I don’t know if I’ll need him down here. If Philippa puts the alert out we’ll get a few more nurses, maybe Gareth in early with me, and one of the other surgeons to help Baz.
I nod my head. “Do what you have to do, Philippa. Are they on the way?”
Right, then. May as well let Baz know what we’ve got headed our way.
I’m about to walk into room ten when he walks out, so we end up almost colliding with each other. I stumble a bit as Baz shifts to the side, but we’re so close that I catch a trace of that familiar cedar and bergamot scent of his.
I close my eyes and breathe in for just an instant before meeting his gaze.
“You all right, Snow? Navigating the flooring proving a challenge again?” His eyebrow arches up and there’s that quirk to his lips again.
I shake my head. “Ambulances incoming. Pile up on the M25. Not sure how many they’re bringing our way. Philippa is pulling an alert but I thought you should know before you take the patient up.”
His expression shifts, all seriousness now, the mask slamming down. “How many did you say?”
I shake my head again. “Don’t know. They didn’t give us an estimate, just to be prepared for the first wave. I’m going to assume they’re bringing the worst our way, since we’re close.”
“Who’s coming in? Is it Dev?”
I shrug. “Don’t know. Philippa just put the calls out. It’ll take a bit to get them all here.”
His grey eyes are boring into me. There’re flecks of green and blue in them. I didn’t know that. I don’t think I’ve ever been close enough to notice.
We’re still standing close, too close. It makes me a bit dizzy to be this near to him. I take a step back. “I’ll have them call you with updates, while you’re operating. In case we still need you when you’re finished.”
Baz shakes his head. “No, I’ll stay down here until whoever’s on back up shows up. You’ve no idea what you’re going to be dealing with.” He puts his hand on my shoulder for just an instant. “I’ll give you a hand, Snow, at least until the reinforcements show.”
I can hear the sirens. Getting louder now. “Thanks, Baz.” I nod in his direction and then jog over to the ambulance entrance.
It’s only as I see the first stretcher coming in that I remember.
It was a pile up on the M25 for him too, all those years ago.
When his mum died.
It takes me just a moment to dart back into the room, to let the boy and his mother know the operating suite is ready, but there may be a short delay due to some unexpected traumas coming in.
They’re far more understanding than I would be in similar circumstances. The boy is still writhing around a bit, so I make a mental note to have the nurse give him another dose of morphine before I get caught up in whatever shitstorm is headed our way.
“Hope no one’s hurt too badly,” his mother says as I turn away.
“I do too.”
I’ve taken care of far too many auto wreck patients in the intervening years to let it get to me too much anymore. It’s just a breath, a moment when I feel my jaw tighten, where I grit my teeth at the memory, and then go on. This is my job. It’s what I do.
It’s part of why I do it, a legacy in memory of my mother, a way for me to carry on.
It’s already mayhem in the rest of A&E when I step out of the room. Snow’s in Trauma Room One barking out orders. There’s another stretcher in the room adjacent and two more coming in the double doors that lead to the ambulance entrance. There are nurses and aides rushing back and forth.
Someone’s already called Mac down from upstairs. That’s a good thought—an anesthesiologist is an asset in situations like these. He catches my eyes and tilts his head at Trauma Room Two. I nod back and rush down the corridor to take charge of whatever’s going on in there while he trails after the stretchers being brought in.
I can hear Snow next door, calling out for blood, for another IV. I let his voice filter away as I look down at the pale-faced young girl on the stretcher before me. Her eyes are wide and terrified, her mouth a thin line as she grimaces in pain. I take her hand in mine and lean down. “Hello, love. I’m Baz. I’ve got you, alright?” She gives me a tiny nod and still holding her hand I lock eyes with the ambulance tech who wheeled her in. “Status?”
It’s autopilot from then on. IV’s full bore, labs drawn, portable x-rays at bedside, pain medication given right before I pull her tibia back into alignment and wrap the splint on. Fucking Nicodemus is never here when you need him.
Fuck. I forgot the pain medicine order for the boy in ten. “Priya—tell someone to give the appendix in ten another dose of morphine.”
Priya shouts down the hall and someone scurries in to take the order from me then hurries out again.
Snow’s still shouting orders in the room next door. More blood. I don’t like the sound of that.
This girl’s set for now—tibia fracture reduced and splinted, all her other injuries minor cuts and scrapes. I’ll send her to the ward. Nicodemus can take it from there, whenever the wanker shows up. “Priya, we’re all set in here. I’ll just go see if Snow needs any help next door.” I take the patient’s hand in mine again. “You’re alright now, we’ll move you to a nicer bed, in a quieter room and see if you can get a bit of rest?” She nods at me as I pat her hand and then I’m stepping into Trauma One.
The monitor shows the patient’s pressure is concerningly low and his heart rate’s up. IV fluids and blood are already hanging and oxygen is going at full blast. “What have you got, Snow?”
“I’m suspecting a ruptured spleen. I’ve not sent him for a scan yet because of that blood pressure.”
I can’t fault him for that. He’s right. A patient crashing in the radiology department is an unmitigated disaster.
I do a quick exam, take in the vitals again. “I think you’re right, Simon. I don’t think there’s time for a CT with that pressure.” I look around the room. “Phillipa, get me the peritoneal lavage set up.”
“A bit old school?” Mac’s just stepped into the room.
“Tried and true. Faster than a CT and immediately diagnostic.” I reach for the supplies Philippa brings in. Snow’s already prepping the abdomen for me.
He doesn’t miss a beat. Snow’s an exceptionally good A&E physician under the best of circumstances, but he truly shines at moments like this. He’s unparalleled in crisis mode—single minded, focused, articulate.
And quite an astute diagnostician, as the peritoneal lavage proves his diagnosis correct. Fuck. The boy in ten is going to have a much longer wait.
Orders are shouted, Mac runs back up to the operating suite to get the team up to speed on the change of plan, I explain the circumstances to the patient. That’s when I find out it’s his daughter in the next room. With the tibia fracture. She’s all he’s worried about, I don’t think he’s really heard a word I’ve said to him about his spleen.
I reassure him she’s alright. Tell him she’s in good hands, that we need to get him up to surgery so he can visit with her later. A quick glance at the monitor shows me his pressure is still too low. “Snow, I’m taking him up.”
“Thanks, Baz. I’ll let you know if we’ve got anything else for you. I’ll keep an eye on room ten while you’re up there.”
“What’s in room ten?” I hear Dev’s voice behind me.
“Took your time, didn’t you?”
“Piss off, I got here as fast as I could.” Dev peers at the monitor and his brow creases as he takes in the detritus of my peritoneal lavage. “Spleen?”
“Taking him up now. Talk to Philippa and see if she’s got enough people called in to staff another room. There’s a ruptured appendix in ten that’s been waiting. I’d hate him to go septic because of the delay.”
“I’m on it. Go on now. I’ll clean up your messes for you.” Dev’s grinning, the prick.
I roll my eyes at him but keep my words to myself with an awake patient in the room.
“You alright down here, Snow?”
He nods and then swallows. It’s a whole scene when he does, Adam’s apple bobbing, neck muscles rippling with the motion. “Mac’s got the other two stabilized. Work for Nicodemus mainly. We’ll be alright.”
I grip the stretcher handles tightly and nod my head at Priya to help me wheel the patient up. We can monitor him just as well upstairs and it’s always faster for me to do it than wait on the transporters. They always take forever when you’re in a hurry.
It’s hours later, when I finally drag myself to the call room. I took care of the spleen while Dev dealt with the appendix. The day wasn’t over for me though, thanks to a bowel obstruction on the medical ward that made me take another trip to the operating suite. And the GI bleed that needed an emergency scope.
I’m knackered. I just want to drop into bed and sleep for a bit. I’m starving, haven’t eaten since morning, but I’m too tired to make my way down to the vending machines in the basement.
I just want to go to bed.
I stumble into the call room, without even bothering to switch on the light.
I attempt to flop onto the bed only to bang my head into an unexpected wood slat. I stagger and reach out a hand to steady myself then yelp in surprise when I make contact with someone’s arm.
“What the fuck?”
A groan emanates from the bed and I stagger back in alarm, colliding with the wall behind me and scrabbling madly for the light switch. The weak overhead light blinks on.
To reveal a disheveled Snow, shirtless and bleary-eyed, in the lower part of what appear to be bunk beds in my call room. What fresh hell is this?
“What the fuck are you doing in here, Snow?”
“You called me Simon before.” He’s obviously still half asleep, the numpty.
“I most certainly did not. What the bloody hell are you doing in my call room and what the fuck did you do with my bed? Why on earth does it look like some boy scout barracks in here?”
Simon rubs his hand over his face and then scrabbles at his hair. “Mage. Didn’t you get the email?”
Snow yawns before answering. I can’t take my eyes off the line of his neck as he does. “The one about the A&E call rooms.”
“Why would I read an email about the fucking A&E call rooms?”
He squints at me. “Because it came from the chief administrator?”
I snort. “Spare me, Snow. Mage’s emails are bombastic diatribes or buzzword gibberish. I’ll pass.”
“Well, if you’d read it you’d know he combined the A&E call rooms with the surgical ones. For efficiency. He’s using our old call room for some administrative office now.”
“Fuck his efficiencies. You’re in my fucking call room, Snow.”
He sits up now, eyes narrowed as he glares at me, chin jutting out. Fuck, I know this expression.
“It’s our fucking call room now, Baz.”
“I think the hell not.”
Snow shrugs and sinks back down on the bed. “Check your emails next time. Now kindly fuck off and let me go back to sleep. I’ve only got a few hours before I have to relieve Gareth.”
“You fuck off, Snow. Get out of my bed. You’re the intruder here. If anyone’s going to get the bottom bunk it’s me. You want to sleep, then you take the top bunk. Now move.”
“Oh come off it, Baz. I’m already here. You take the top.”
“Snow. I’m not going to say this again. Shove off.”
“I don’t want to be on top. Christ, Baz, I’m always on the bottom. Don’t make me be on top.”
“Since when are you on the bottom? I didn’t even know there were bunks until two minutes ago.”
“It’s been weeks. I always take the bottom. Don’t like being up on top.”
“Well, you can bloody well get used to it. Fuck it, Snow, I’m knackered and I don’t want to be arguing when I could be sleeping. Move!”
“I’d think you’d prefer being on top, you can sleep anywhere. I’ve seen you sleep in a fucking chair, for Christ’s sake. I’m more comfortable on the bottom.”
“So am I!” I can’t believe I’m having an argument about bunks with this moron. I glare at him and he glares right back.
“Honestly, I don’t care what you prefer, top or bottom. You’re in my fucking bed, in my fucking call room, so kindly fuck right off and let me get some rest. I’m on the bottom and that’s the end of it.”
Snow’s still glaring but his face is all flushed now and he’s not meeting my eyes anymore, his gaze directed somewhere behind me.
I’m weighing the option of dragging him out of the bed versus the ignominy of letting him win and taking the top bunk myself, when my face starts to heat up, as the echo of my words repeats itself in my brain.
Oh fucking hell. I’m know I’m blushing furiously. I hadn’t realized how suggestive that whole exchange was and now I can think of nothing else.
If Snow’s face is any indication he’s in the same predicament. I just want this to be over. I can’t look at him anymore, I’m so mortified.
“Fine. Be obstinate. I’m getting some sleep.” I find the ladder and climb up to the top bunk with as much dignity as I can muster.
“You left the light on, you prat.”
“Not my problem, Snow.”
“Wanker.” I hear him shuffle to his feet, grumbling his way to the light switch. He flips the switch with more aggression than necessary then stomps his way back to the lower bunk.
I can hear him toss and turn. He huffs and shifts again. “Would you kindly shut up, Snow? Go the fuck to sleep.”
“It’s too hot.”
“Christ, I am speaking to Mage about this as soon as he’s back in the office. This call room situation is unacceptable. I cannot be expected to share a space with someone like you.”
“I could say the same.” Snow’s growling now.
“I’m not the one whinging and rustling and being an inordinately loud mouth breather.”
We both stop speaking but Snow’s still rustling in the bedclothes. It’s annoying but there’s something alluring about it too. We’ve not been in such close proximity since we shared a dorm room. And even then, our beds were across the room from each other.
I can picture him in my mind right now, arms behind his head on the pillow, curls in a tousled mess drooping over his forehead, eyes shut, chest rising and falling.
I’m so tired but the thrum of adrenaline is still coursing through me. Snow breathes so loudly I can count his breaths.
It’s an achingly familiar sound.
I keep counting them until my eyes close and I fall asleep.
Baz is so close. I can see the dip in the mattress above me. I can hear him when he shifts position. I could reach his hand, if he dangled it over the side of his bunk.
I don’t know why I think of that.
My face is still flushed and warm. I hadn’t realized it at first, what it sounded like, arguing about the bunks. I’m embarrassed. I’m glad Baz finally took the top bunk so I wouldn’t have to look him in the face anymore.
I need to stop thinking about it and get some sleep.
I don’t know how I’m going to do that with him so close.
I’m lying here in this bed and all I can think about is Baz.
I can try to blame the inadvertent sexual innuendo of our banter just now. I’d like to think it’s simply that and nothing more that’s got me all agitated.
Maybe it’s just the enforced proximity of Baz—the scent of his cologne, the familiar cadence of his breathing—when I’m so knackered and not thinking clearly.
But that’s no explanation for the list of things in my head that I find undeniably attractive about Baz. It’s not an excuse for the catalogue of things I want to do to Baz that’s cluttering up my brain at the moment.
I’m never going to get any bloody sleep.
The blare of Snow’s alarm startles me awake and I forget I’m six feet up, as I scramble to get out of bed.
Snow stands up right as I launch myself off the top bunk and he crashes his stupid, hard head into mine. My floundering for a handhold and Snow’s frantic flailing results in us both crashing to the floor in an awkward heap, with me sprawled on top of him.
We’re frozen for a long moment, his intense blue eyes staring up at me in shock. Snow’s still bare chested and the heat of his skin seeps through my scrub shirt to warm my skin. My hands are on his shoulders and I can count the moles and freckles dotting his face.
I want to kiss the one under his left eye.
I scramble back, trying to stand up but I end up tangling my feet with his and thump back onto the floor, seated between his legs.
It’s no less awkward.
He sits up, his bent knees bracketing my legs and I find I can’t move. I’m rooted to the spot, the tawny expanse of Snow’s bare chest filling my vision.
I struggle to right myself, to pick myself up off the floor. The space is small and I’m wedged back against the bed so every movement causes me to bump into him as he tries to stand as well.
I finally get to my feet, one hand clutching the top bunk rail for stability. Snow’s a breath away, right in front of me. I’m breathing fast, from the shock of the tumble I assure myself.
I blink at him and clear my throat. “Sorry. Told you I’m not used to being on top.”
Fucking hell. I’m an absolute disaster. I want to burst into flames, sink into the floor, be consumed by a raging inferno. Anything to get me out of this place, where my words fail me like this.
Snow steps closer to me. “That’s a bit of a problem, yeah, if we both prefer the bottom.” He’s grinning now, absolute nightmare that he is.
There’s almost no space between us. He tucks a strand of my hair behind my ear and I shiver at his touch. I can’t bring myself to speak.
I’m holding my breath.
Snow’s hand is cupping my cheek, his thumb lightly brushing against my skin. His eyes are blue and grey and shot through with flecks of silver. I’m drowning in them.
I can’t look away.
They fill my vision as Snow moves nearer, so vast and overwhelming that I close my eyes just as his lips brush against mine.
He’s kissing me. Simon Snow is kissing me.
Christ, I’m living a charmed life.
I remember how to breathe, my mouth roaming over his, taking his breaths as my own. My hands are on his shoulders, the smooth skin heated under my fingertips, every touch searing its way into my consciousness.
Snow’s hands grasp my hips, pulling me against him. I don’t want to pause for air, don’t want to let him go, don’t want to break the contact even when I feel myself start to get light-headed.
He pulls back first, panting a bit. I’m winded, as if I’ve been running, my heart hammering against my sternum. Snow brings a hand up to my chest, pressing his palm over my scrubs. I can feel the heat of his fingers, imprinting themselves into my skin.
His hand moves lower, rubbing my stomach, and that only makes my heart pound faster. Christ, does he have any idea what he’s doing to me?
From the expression on his face the answer is obviously yes. His eyes are crinkling at the corners, his grin’s so wide.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a while now, Baz.”
I dart my tongue over my dry lips before I answer. And then instead of speaking, I lean forward and kiss that mole under his left eye. “So have I.”
“For how long?” Snow tilts his head to the side.
I kiss him again. “For a long time.”