Maggie drove down the sloping streets of Holby, navigating her way through the familiar shops and offices, towards Broadway General Hospital. The drive up the motorway in her little red car had been uneventful, and a welcome chance to relax after the hectic week of night shifts that she’d just completed.
After her decision to return to Holby she’d been unable to get away from work until now, but at least the constant pressures of A&E life had distracted her from her thoughts a little. Although the week had still been unbearably long.
She’d played through the next several hours over and over in her head, practising exactly what she would say when she came face to face with Andrew again, and, of course, how he would react. No doubt, she had pondered, he would be surprised by her sudden reappearance, but then, once the shock had worn off, he would be happy that she’d returned to be with him, and he’d tell her he loved her still, and they’d embrace, the rest of the world forgotten. She had decided not to call in advance; thinking it would be easier to communicate if they could see each other. Besides, surely it would be harder for him to resist temptation if she were right in front of him. Maggie had tried to put thoughts of Andrew actually being happy with his wife out of her mind; and the more she rehearsed their meeting the less problems arose, as she found new and convincing arguments as to why they should be together.
Duffy will not be a problem, she told herself, nothing will.
She pulled up at some traffic lights, her journey nearing its end. She wasn’t certain he’d be on duty, but she knew deep down, even though she didn’t want to admit it, that she couldn’t just turn up at his home. If Andrew were faced with an on-the-spot decision between her and his wife he wouldn’t be strong enough to go with her. No; she had to talk to him in on his own, without the distraction of his family, and the only way she knew to do that was to turn up at the hospital, for an unexpected visit.
* It was Charlie’s day off, but he’d decided to drop by the hospital to wish Duffy a happy birthday. Louis sat in the corner of his Daddy’s office, happily playing with a couple of plastic dinosaurs, while Charlie pulled a card from his jacket pocket and handed it to the birthday girl. It was a nice surprise that Charlie had bothered to stop by, he and Louis were clearly planning a big day out, although she had rather been hoping to let this particular birthday slip by unnoticed.
"Where are you off to today?" she enquired of the younger Fairhead, as she perched on the edge of the desk.
"Don’t know" came the reply. He went back to his dinosaurs.
"It’s a surprise!" Charlie looked considerably more excited at the prospect than his son did.
"Oh, I like surprises, came I come?" She again tried to engage Louis in conversation. He just shook his head and coyly hid behind the peak of the Toronto Blue-Jays baseball cap his mother had sent over for him.
"That’s not very nice, is it?" laughed Charlie. He turned to Duffy, "As if Andrew starting work here wasn’t surprise enough." She didn’t reply, or look him in the face, just made a sort of groaning noise as she brushed past him and stood in front of the desk. She peered down at it trying to avoid his gaze.
"Now what’s that supposed to mean? You’re not exactly looking forward to it?" he sounded concerned.
"No, not exactly"
"Well, maybe it won’t be as bad as you think" he tried to reassure her. Still not looking up she picked up the envelope he had given her. Across the front it said simply ‘Duffy’ in his familiar scrawl. She began to open it.
"Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. I just wonder what the others will make of him. That’s all." The others in general, Max in particular. She looked at the humorous card and the badge attached to it. It said ‘I’m 40’, with the 40 in huge blue letters. She rolled her eyes at him, knowing that he was going to make her wear it.
"Dr A. Bower……yes……8:30 tonight. Yeah that’s right. OK. Goodbye" Andrew put the phone down and leaned back in his chair. Rachel had entered his office whilst he’d been talking, he gestured for her to speak.
"Leaving it a bit late to be making reservations, Andrew" she jokingly chided him.
" I’ll have you know I’ve had this table booked for weeks, I was just confirming my reservation."
"What restaurant are you going to?" she enquired, taking a seat opposite him.
"Alberto’s" he said smugly.
"Alberto’s! You must have booked it years ago, let alone weeks ago. That’s one of the most exclusive places in Holby!" Rachel was suitably impressed.
"Well, it is Duffy’s 40th, and what with work and the kids we don’t get to go out that often. I wanted to make it special. Besides I treated the Maître d's toddler last month and the opportunity to take advantage of his gratitude seemed too good to miss!"
"Andrew, that is an abuse of your position!" she waggled a long, elegant finger playfully at him.
"I didn’t hold him at knife-point and demand star treatment, he offered" Andrew said somewhat defensively, "You’re just jealous!"
"Too right! Honestly, you’ve just got back from a romantic weekend, now a meal at a plush restaurant, what next, a punt along the canals in Venice? A balloon ride over the Serengeti at dawn?"
"If only! I just so happen to think that my wife is worth it, that’s all" He glanced down at the picture on his desktop. It brought back all the memories he needed to confirm it.
Maggie was quite tired by the time she reached the hospital, she’d been driving for several hours and although the sight of the familiar grey building gave her her second wind, she still took a moment to compose herself before continuing. She didn’t want Andrew to see her looking exhausted; she wanted to be at her best for him. Pulling a small black compact from her handbag, she checked her make-up and fluffed up her hair. Since making her decision to find Andrew she had begun to feel a little better, and her complexion seemed to have benefited as a result. She had even gone to the hairdressers for a bit of pampering in an attempt to make herself as irresistible as possible. She smiled, a wicked little smile, at her reflection.
There’s no way he’ll resist me!
She didn’t even notice someone coming up beside her. Jenny stooped down a little and tapped on the glass of the car’s window. The noise startled Maggie for a second; she came back to reality, and wound down the window.
"Maggie! I thought it was you, but… well, what are you doing here? Come on, tell all!" Jenny gushed.
"Um, just here for a visit Jen" Maggie was a little taken aback by Jenny’s enthusiasm. They had always chatted; it was all but impossible not to chat to Jenny, but had never been particularly close.
"Really, who are you visiting?" Jenny asked mischievously.
"Dunno. Whoever still works here, I suppose" Maggie knew better than to bring up Andrew’s name in front of Jenny.
Sensing that she wasn’t going to get the answer she was hoping for out of her, Jenny changed the subject.
"So where are you staying?" she asked. Maggie shrugged.
"I would say you could stay with me, tell me all about London, but I’m still in the Nurse’s Home" Jenny was genuinely disappointed at missing out on the prospect of good gossip, Maggie tried not to show how relieved she was.
"Never mind. I’ll find somewhere" she assured her, " I don’t want to keep you from your work Jenny" Maggie really wasn’t in the mood for an interrogation, and rather hoped that Jenny would leave her alone to continue with her business.
"Don’t worry, you aren’t" replied Jenny. Inwardly Maggie groaned. "Why don’t we go inside?" Jenny stood back from the door, giving Maggie enough room to exit the vehicle. She might have been a petite young woman, but sometimes she seemed incredibly imposing. It was clear to Maggie that she wasn’t going to be left alone. She got out of the car and slammed the door shut, frustrated that already things weren’t going according to her plan, and allowed Jenny to lead her to the casualty department.
She wasn’t surprised that the building hadn’t changed much, what did surprise her was that there were very few people she recognised amongst the crowd in reception. She could see a new doctor, a couple of new nurses and a new receptionist; she’d forgotten how many things in casualty could change in only a year. She scoured the crowd for Andrew. She couldn’t see him. Her heart began to beat faster, and she got a queasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, was it possible that she’d come all this way only to find that Andrew had also moved on? She fought back the urge to ask Jenny if he was about.
"Hey Mags!" Phil, an SHO, came through the assembled masses and stood right in front of her, smiling warmly. He’d always had a bit of a crush on the nurse, though he wouldn’t have admitted it even to his closest friends. He shook her hand vigorously.
"Hi Phil." She responded; trying to look pleased to see him. Not that she wasn’t pleased to see him; just that she was too preoccupied by thoughts of his boss.
Soon several of Maggie’s old friends were gathered around her all hugging her and saying how much they’d missed her. It was nice to feel wanted, to be in the centre of everyone’s attention. After spending so long with only her own thoughts for company she’d forgotten just how good it felt to be surrounded by friendly faces. For a moment she relaxed and put thoughts of her mission to the back of her mind.
Jenny quietly slipped away from the crowd and headed to the right, back corner of the department where Andrew’s office was located. She wondered absently as she went what his expression would be when he found out that his ex-lover was back in Holby. She let out an involuntary giggle; this was too good to be true!
Reaching the door to his office, Jenny composed herself, and knocked politely. A second later she heard Andrew summoning her in. She opened the door about halfway and slid through the gap.
"What can I do for you?" Andrew seemed quite chirpy, he had been thinking about the meal that evening, imagining the look on Duffy’s face when she found out exactly where he was taking her.
"Thought you might like to know we’ve got a visitor in the department"
"And who would that be?" he asked, more out of courtesy than interest.
"Maggie Jeffries, she just arrived. Here to look up old friends I think. I’m sure she’d like to see you…" the words hung in the air. Andrew’s brow furrowed, he didn’t really want to see Maggie, to stir up all those old memories again, and yet he was curious at what might have brought her back to Holby. For a moment he wavered, indecisive as to what to do next. Then he noticed Duffy smiling up at him from the holiday snap on his desk, and his mind was made up.
"I would come out and say hello, but I really am very busy. And I’m sure you two have a lot to catch up on, I wouldn’t want to get in the way of a girlie chat." He forced a smile, hoping that his excuses sounded plausible.
Jenny didn’t believe him for a second, but she was too clever to let on. She returned his smile.
"Oh well, if your sure" she turned and left the office. Andrew was worried; it wasn’t like Jenny to be so blasé. He went back to his work, but couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen.
Jenny returned to reception, to find that a lot of the fuss had died down in her absence. Maggie and Phil were sitting on the brown plastic chairs reminiscing about a regular patient, Fred, an eighty-six year old who came in every six weeks or so with some minor complaint. That morning it had been a sore throat, last time he needed his ear’s syringing. Maggie and the others always used to laugh at him; unable to understand why anyone would hang around all day in casualty when they didn’t have to. The staff only humoured him because he was a harmless old man who just seemed to be lonely. For some reason Maggie didn’t find it quite so amusing anymore.
Jenny coughed slightly by way of an interruption. Maggie and Phil stopped their conversation and looked up at her.
"Caught up with everyone then?" she enquired innocuously. Maggie had been enjoying herself with Phil so much that she’d almost forgotten Andrew. Jenny’s comment brought it all back.
"Just about" she replied " I haven’t seem Rob, or Kelly or Andrew…" she hoped that sounded innocent enough.
"Rob’s day off, and Kelly left a few months ago, Andrew is about somewhere though" Phil responded naively.
"Andrew’s in his office I believe, why don’t you go and say hello?" Jenny suggested.
"I’m sure he’d like you to stop by" Phil reiterated, completely unaware what he was getting involved in.
"OK" shrugged Maggie, appearing a lot calmer than she felt. She stood up and made her way through the department to Andrew’s office.
Maggie stood outside the door and read the name label, in an effort to convince herself that she was really there, this was really happening. She took a deep breath, brushed her hair out of her eyes and knocked on the old wooden door.
"Come in" Andrew’s voice was slightly muffled, but hearing it again made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She slowly opened the door and stepped inside, closing it again behind her.
Maggie stood and looked at Andrew, sat behind his desk, his gaze still on his work rather than on her. Very little about him seemed to have changed. Maybe he was a little greyer, and she was fairly sure he had different glasses to when she’d left, but the effect was still the same, she still found him incredibly attractive and was excited just being in the same room as him again.
"Hi Andrew" she spoke softly, gently. He recognised the voice immediately and looked up. He had hoped, foolishly perhaps, that Maggie would have left without seeing him, but then Jenny had been involved, she was probably lurking outside the door at that very moment waiting to hear what would be said. He took Maggie in with a glance. He didn’t want to notice how pretty she was, her beautiful clear eyes that seemed to vary from blue to green and back again as you looked at them, or her thick shoulder length hair that fell in flawless spirals around her almost doll like face. He didn’t offer her a seat; he didn’t stand up himself. All he could think was that she had to leave, quickly, before things got any more complicated. Eventually he spoke.
"What are you doing here?" He considered it to be a fair question, but she looked taken aback, hurt even.
"I came to see you" this wasn’t going like she had planned, she tried to bring the conversation back to her script:
"I’ve split up with Adrian" she announced.
"I heard about you and Adrian. I’m sorry it didn’t work out" Maggie was surprised he knew, and wasn’t sure how to take it. On one hand it meant he obviously still took an interest in her life, on the other, he’d known she was alone but still hadn’t come to find her. She decided she preferred the first option.
"What happened?" his curiosity took over for a second, he wanted to know if he should expect an angry visit from her husband.
"It was never going to work between us, not when I was still in love with you." She waited a beat to see how he would react. His brow furrowed a small amount, but otherwise he was motionless.
"So you left him?"
"No. He found out about us" Andrew didn’t like the sound of this.
Maggie looked at the floor, overcome by a feeling of sadness at the thought of her lost child. She wanted to tell Andrew the truth but wasn’t sure how to phrase it. Andrew was still staring up at her waiting for an explanation. She moved closer to him, walking around the side of the desk and sitting on the corner of it. She was so close that it wouldn’t have taken much to reach out and touch him, but she didn’t want to rush things. He swivelled his chair round to face her.
"Did you tell him?" Andrew asked again.
"Not exactly." She took a deep breath "When we left Holby, I was pregnant…" A feeling of sheer panic rose in Andrew. He knew that Adrian was incapable of fathering children, and that meant only one thing: He’d become a father again himself. He had his hands full with two children, without coping with a secret third one as well. He knew that sometimes he didn’t spend as much time with his sons as he ought to, even though he loved the boys dearly. Another child would in effect spread him even thinner, emotionally and, of course, financially. How could she be so thoughtless, lumbering him with another kid!
"I’ve already got a family, Maggie." He interrupted "I’ve got Duffy, Peter and Jake. I don’t want any more than that" He knew it sounded harsh but he didn’t want to give her any reason to doubt his sincerity.
"I didn’t keep the baby, Andrew. Adrian found an appointment card for the clinic and put two and two together. I never even told him who the father was. He didn’t want to know" Maggie spoke solemnly, and Andrew felt guilty for making such an outburst, although he had to admit that he was relieved.
"I’m sorry, Maggie" he said quietly as he saw the pain in her eyes. He almost moved to comfort her, but caught himself just in time.
"I miss you, this last year has been so empty without you. Without us"
"Maggie, I don’t know what you expect me to say, but our relationship ended last year. Duffy and I are making a real go of it now. I love her, not you." He hoped the tone of his voice would make him seem less unsympathetic.
"There is no ‘but’ Maggie. You shouldn’t have come back" He was starting to feel distinctly rattled. It unnerved him having her sat so close. He could smell her perfume. It was subtle but strangely provocative. He rolled his seat back a few inches, away from her.
Maggie had come too far to give up so quickly. Andrew’s movement didn’t deter her, she could sense that she was having an effect on him, that it was only a matter of time before he succumbed. She got off the desk and moved toward Andrew, manoeuvring herself so she was behind him. He stubbornly remained seated; he didn’t want her to think that she had control of the situation. Even if perhaps it was true. She slipped her arms around his neck and bent down so her mouth was next to his right ear, and whispered softly:
"Tell me you don’t still have feelings for me, tell me you don’t want me right now. You’ve missed me, it’s all right to admit it, admit that it’s me you want to be with. I can make you happy, we can make each other happy."
As Andrew listened to her, he could feel his heart beating faster. He tried to tell himself he was just nervous, in case someone came in and found Maggie draped around him, but inwardly he knew that wasn’t the whole truth. Having a woman like Maggie wanting him so badly was flattering, in fact it was much more than that. He liked the attention, the way she made him feel about himself. But he didn’t love her, the feelings he had for her were purely physical, it had taken him a long time to recognise that there was a difference, but now that he had he wasn’t going to be lured back to her.
Andrew jumped out of the chair, nearly making Maggie fall over on to it. She steadied herself and watched as he strode purposefully to the door and stood with one hand on the handle, ready to pull it open.
"I think you should leave now. Right now" He tried to keep the emotion out of his voice. He wanted to sound firm, but didn’t want to start an argument.
Maggie stood defiant. He hadn’t fallen straight into her arms, and she’d failed to seduce him, but she wasn’t going to give up. He had to be hers; he just had to be. She was certain she caught a look of indecision on his face and that meant she hadn’t lost yet.
She picked up the photograph from his desk, studied it a second and then looked back at him.
"I don’t believe that you’d rather be with her than with me. Don’t you remember what it was like when we were together, how we felt? Don’t try to tell me that I never meant anything to you, because I know that isn’t true. We were good together. If it wasn’t for her we’d be together now. Just because you met her first doesn’t mean that she’s right for you. You stay with her out of duty, but you don’t have to. Think of yourself, what do you want?" Maggie’s voice was raised but her speech was carefully controlled.
"I want my wife. I love Duffy, and my family. I don’t stay with them out of duty, I stay with them because I want to." And it was true, Maggie could never mean as much to him as Duffy did. He still firmly believed that marrying Duffy had been the best decision he’d ever made, he wasn’t going to put that in jeopardy again.
"Then why sleep with me?" She almost shouted the question; her eyes opened wide, her cheeks flushed. How could he stand there and lie to her, how could he possibly turn her down.
"It was a mistake," he said pathetically.
"It was quite a few!" countered Maggie.
"Alright. I was stupid, I should never have let it carry on as long as it did, but that doesn’t make it right Maggie. I don’t want to start things up again. We had fun but it’s over now. Please don’t ruin things" he pleaded with her.
"Ruin things! How could I possibly do that?" she looked down at the picture still in her hands, her smile bordering on malevolent. "Hmm, she looks so happy here, I wonder if she’d look quite so happy if she knew what you’re really like. What you were up to all those nights you ‘worked late’. Do you think she’d forgive you? Do you think she’d believe it was just a mistake? A two year long mistake?" she spat the words at him "Or do you think she’ll throw you out on the street?"
Her outburst frightened him, he knew it wouldn’t be hard for her to find Duffy, and he really wasn’t sure that she’d forgive him again. He certainly didn’t want to put it to the test. He could her the sounds of the bustling department through his office door, making him acutely aware that they could be interrupted at any second.
Slightly calmer, outwardly at least, Maggie continued:
"I’d take you in Andrew, you wouldn’t even miss her"
"Maggie I don’t want you to take me in! Duffy and I are happy, she wouldn’t even believe you" Andrew hoped that Maggie would accept this as true and forget any dangerous ideas about speaking to Duffy. He thought it was the clever thing to say. He saw by the look on her face that it wasn’t clever at all.
"Yeah? I wonder if you’re right!"
Maggie moved back around the desk and headed straight to the door. Whereas before Andrew was waiting to open it for her, now he was determined not to let her go.
As she neared him she could tell that he wasn’t going to be easily moved, she’d have to distract him. She got as close as possible to the door and then threw the photo as hard as she could across the room. It made a satisfying smash as it hit the wall, splinters of glass flying out at all angles. And it had the desired effect: Andrew turned to see it land. She grabbed the door and made her escape. Andrew shot out into the corridor after her, but there were too many people about for him to pull her back. She slipped into the crowd and he lost sight of her.
Go to Part Four
* This scene was originally shown in the episode 'Marking Time' written by Len Collins. I claim no rights to it whatsoever.
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