Two particularly complicated operations provided a much needed distraction from Mike's thoughts of Kath. His conversation with Tash over lunch had been enough to convince him finally that he had to see Kath and explain to her his reasons for leaving Holby, and therefore leaving her.
The end of the day came around and Mike returned to his office and slipped on his jacket. He was sure he could feel the letter of appointment burning through his breast pocket such was the intense pain he felt in his chest.
He said an absent minded goodnight to the other staff of Kellar ward before turning out of the department and heading off to the lifts.
Kath finished drying the last two dishes and placed them neatly in the cupboard. The whole kitchen had been scrubbed from top to bottom over the course of the last week; it supplied a good distraction from thinking about Simon’s death, or more often thinking about Mike.
Having been cooped up in her house with Danny fussing around her ever since they had returned from Manchester, Kath had finally managed to convince her son that she didn’t require babysitting and he’d gone out with a couple of old school friends. She knew that when he disappeared off with the lads he wouldn’t be home for hours. She looked around the kitchen to see if there was anything else that needed to be done and started to regret her haste at getting rid of Danny for the night. At least he would provide company for her; she’d never felt so lonely as she had done recently.
She slumped onto a seat at the kitchen table, she could here the tap dripping rhythmically, thudding onto the bottom of the empty washing up bowl. It was a noise that seemed to echo around the room, reminding Kath that she was alone now.
It didn’t take long for Mike to invade her thoughts, the longer it was getting since she’d seen him, the more she found herself day dreaming about him. Every time she told herself that it was wrong, she would inadvertently glance down at the now redundant wedding band on her finger and realise that to all intents and purposes she was single and could justifiably spend her time thinking about anyone she chose to.
She replayed their kiss over and over in her mind, even as a memory it was enough to make her excited, and she longed to feel that way again. That wasn’t to say she didn’t still feel the pangs of guilt that had racked through her at her husband’s death, just that she’d had time to think things through and had come to the conclusion that had she not been with Mike, Simon would still have had the accident. It was bad timing; that’s all.
Kath felt that to every extent possible she had come to terms with the past, it was the future that concerned her now. Possibly even a future with Mike. But Mike still hadn’t spoken to her and she was becoming increasingly nervous that the kiss around which her life seemed to be pivoted had indeed meant much more to her than it did to him. She couldn’t bear that thought. If that was the case then she really had broken her marriage vows for nothing and she refused to believe that.
She clasped her hands together and bowed her head in reverence, praying that the Lord would help her.
Mike waited outside the door to Kath’s house. Last time he’d stood on that doorstop his heart had been beating fast for a completely different reason. Last time he’d known he was going to spend the evening with a beautiful woman who he adored, but now he wasn’t sure what would happen. He didn’t know if she’d want to see him, or if she did, how she’d react to finding out that he was leaving. He didn’t like unknowns. He liked to make a detailed diagnosis of a problem and then an informed prognosis. He couldn’t predict how Kath would react and although he wouldn’t have admitted it, that made him more than a little scared.
He took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. He could hear it’s welcoming chiming as it rung through the house. He felt like he had to wait an eternity before he heard soft footsteps coming to open the door and when Kath finally did open it, he stood completely lost for words.
“Mike!” Kath exclaimed, immediately embarrassed that she sounded so enthusiastic. Her embarrassment quickly turned to worry though as she took in the expression on his face. It seemed clouded over, more than just worried, he was deep in thought and obviously not liking whatever answer he was coming up with.
“Can I come in?” He asked, feeling as though the whole street were watching him.
“Of course” She turned and showed him into the living room. It looked much the same as it did a week ago except now there was a cardboard box sitting in the middle of the coffee table. Mike glanced into it on his way to the sofa, it was full of assorted bric-a-brac: magazines, a mug, a few golf balls...
“Some of Simon’s things. There doesn’t seem much point leaving them lying around.” She explained, though he had guessed as much already.
“Kath, I am so very sorry.” He said as he sat down. She sat down next to him.
“Thank you.” She said politely. Over the last several days she’d had a great many people come to her to tell her how sorry they were and she still hadn’t worked out the proper response.
“How are you coping?” Mike asked, continuing the terribly polite tone.
“Not too bad. Having Danny around has helped.”
“Where is he?”
“Out with some friends, I thought he deserved to have a little fun. Besides I could do with a breather from his fretting!” She smiled and the smile seemed to relax then both a bit. They descended into a surprisingly comfortable silence.
“I’ve been trying to call…” Mike started after a few seconds.
“I know.” She glanced sheepishly at the pattern on the rug, realising that it wasn’t very nice not to return his calls, but knowing that this conversation would have been ten times harder over the phone.
“You didn’t answer.” He tried hard not to sound accusatory.
“I thought you might stop by.” She responded lamely knowing perfectly well that that wasn’t much of a reason.
“Ah.” More silence. Mike couldn’t work out if she meant that she didn’t answer the calls because she wanted him to stop by, or because she hoped he wouldn’t. He rubbed his forehead. Why did this all have to be so difficult?
“I’m glad you have. Stopped by, that is. We...er…this is going to sound like a line from a soap opera or something but… we need to talk.” This was his opening, his chance to tell her he was leaving before he bottled out completely.
“I’m leaving.” He blurted out, his mouth working independently of his mind. He tried to gauge her reaction. She looked shocked. He cursed himself silently for being so insensitive.
“Leaving? Why? Where are you going? When!?”
“I accepted a job in Newcastle. I thought it would be easier for you if I wasn’t around. I’ll be going as soon as possible, the next week or two I expect, it rather depends on how efficient Anton is at finding a replacement… probably tomorrow actually, on thinking about it!” He tried to joke, but it was clear that Kath didn’t find it the least bit amusing.
“Easier for me?”
He took a deep breath, “After what happened…with us… I thought you might not want me around reminding you.” He tried to elaborate.
Kath stood up and started to pace slowly across the room, it didn’t make sense.
“You think I…” She glanced furtively around as though someone might jump of a cupboard at the sound of the word, “kiss people I don’t want around?”
Mike had honestly never looked at it that way before and he had a dreadful feeling in the pit of his stomach that he’d made a huge mistake about leaving. Her eyes were screaming out for an answer, reaching deep into his soul. He stood up and took a step towards her. She backed away.
“Well, do you?” She asked softly.
“Then don’t go.” She said in a voice softer still, stepping forward again.
He reached out and drew her to him, and she didn’t resist. Mike wrapped his strong arms around her petite frame, engulfing her in the warmest of embraces, breathing in the scent of her perfume.
“It’s not that simple, Kath…” She pulled out of his arms and looked up at him.
“I’ve resigned, I’m expected to start work at St.Mary’s, I can’t just change my mind…”
“You could talk to Anton, I’m sure he would understand…”
“It’s not a very professional thing to do.” She wanted to scream that she didn’t care if he was being unprofessional, but she couldn’t. His dedication to his job, his devotion to it and to everything that he really cared about was one of the things that had attracted her to him in the first place. It was something she admired greatly and although she knew she shouldn’t think ill of the dead, Simon had only ever been devoted to his barstool at his golf club.
“But Mike…” She faltered, she had no way of continuing the sentence. Even if she could convince him to stay and perhaps dent his career, she wasn’t sure that rushing straight into a relationship under that kind of pressure would be good for either of them.
“I know. I wish things were different, but they’re not. I don’t want to go, but I have to.” There was something painfully final in that statement, but it didn’t matter which way he or Kath twisted it, it would still be true.
“What am I supposed to do when you’re gone?” Kath whispered, reluctantly accepting the truth of the situation.
“We can stay in contact, then in a while when things have settled down a bit, perhaps we could try again? If you find that you want to…” Mike replied anxiously, hoping that she would want to.
“I expect my children would have trouble accepting you so soon after their father’s death anyway.” She said, attempting to force practical Sister Shaughnessy back to the forefront of the conversation in an effort to save Kath the heartache of saying goodbye to the man she knew she loved.
“And it’ll give you some time to come to terms with things too” Asserted Mr Barratt.
They stood in the middle of the room, an arms length away from each other, neither entirely sure how to proceed. The both now knew that the other one loved them, and the both now knew that they weren’t going to be together. It was a wonderful torture.
“You won’t forget me when you’re in your new hospital, surrounded by goodness knows how many beautiful single women?” She said, forcing a smile even though she felt she was going to cry.
“I’ll never forget you Kath.” She moved towards him once more, pressing her body against his, stretching up to kiss him even more passionately than their first kiss. It was a kiss that lingered long after they parted. Long after they said goodbye. Long after Mike had gone.