Made for each other

           "It'll never work," Charlie said, looking at all the protesters lined up outside the hospital with placards and banners reading 'Save our night shift'. Not that he didn't want it to work, if ever there was a cause to be passionate about it was this one, but however many heartstrings a chorus of 'We'll meet again' could pull, it wasn't going to change the minds of the bureaucrats.
           He glanced across at Baz. She was smiling, humouring him he thought, as she edged towards the others ready to join in. A part of his brain nudged him with the idea of leaving them all to their demonstration and going home for some well deserved sleep, but he had rather hoped that said sleep would be next to Baz, and she seemed determined to lend her support to Megan, Duffy and the others.
           He thrust his hands into the deep pockets of his leather jacket, and strolled over to her.
           "I thought you had no time for silly demonstrations like this," Baz said as he stopped beside her.
           He shrugged. "Well, I'd rather be back at yours missing Rocky IV, but I suppose there's no harm in showing a bit of solidarity. A united front so to speak".
           "Did you get that out of the union leader's handbook?"
           "I hope you're not making fun of me Doctor Samuels!"
           "Wouldn't dare Mr Fairhead," she replied, grinning, causing him to grin too; a dopey grin born solely of his happiness at being with her.
           He felt a tap on his shoulder, and dragged his eyes away from Baz to see who was interrupting. It was Megan.
           "Didn't think we'd see you here, Charlie".
           "I didn't think I'd see you lot here either, I thought I said..."
           "We all have our ways, Charlie" Megan cut him off. "You want to fight through the unions, Ewart's using his position, and us mere mortals are just trying to have our say".
           "You organised this behind my back".
           "Don't look at me like that Charlie! Besides, most of the hard work was put in by Duffy and Susie, so don't be blaming me".
           "I'm not," he said softly, looking around him. The crowd had grown even since he and Baz had joined in and there was barely a window in the hospital without a poster in it, or a banner hanging out of it. Such a lot of support for their little shift. "I'm impressed actually, but it'll take more than this..."
           "Is there anything we can do?" This time it was Baz interrupting, with a cautionary glance at Charlie to stop him from saying more.
           "There might be some spare placards floating about, I'm not sure; Susie was in charge of them. Otherwise, just try to get them up there to take some notice!"
           She pointed up to the top window of the opposite building, where Ewart had gone to discuss the department. Charlie and Baz followed her gaze.
           "Do you think they can see and hear all this?" Baz asked.
           "I hope so!" the Irish nurse answered fervently.
           She whirled around to face the direction her husband's voice was coming from. "Coming Ted," she called back, then to Charlie "I'm glad you stayed. Both of you".
           They nodded back to her as she left to go to Ted.
           "How she keeps going is a mystery to me," Baz said as Megan disappeared into the gathered throng, "It's not exactly been an easy year for her".
           "It's not been an easy year full stop. We've all come through it though. Together".
           "Yeah, I'll miss this place".
           "So much for fighting the good fight Baz, you sound like you've given up already".
           "I'm only an SHO Charlie. You've had my company for longer than most Casualty Officers would have stuck around for. Even if you get the shift..."
           She conceded his point with a nod of her head. "When, you get the night shift back, I'll have to move on".
           "Even if I ask you nicely to stay?"
           "How nicely?"
           "Very, very nicely?"
           "It's tempting..."
           "Tempting enough?"
           "Maybe," she nudged him playfully, her eyes sparklingly, "Will that do?"
           "I suppose it'll have to".
           He watched her raise her eyebrows, could it be that she was amused that she had such an affect on him? Surely, he thought, she could tell how much she meant to him. He felt his cheeks start to burn despite the chill in the air, and he turned his attention back to that third storey window everyone was so busy shouting out.
           He knew that among his friends he was often laughed at for falling madly in love with every woman he dated; at least that's what Robert was forever saying. But the way he felt with Baz was different to how he'd ever felt before. She was special, they were special together - could it be he'd found that 'One' that soppy American films talked about? The thought was exciting, but a little frightening too. He'd always imagined that sooner or later he would find the woman he'd want to settle with, but it had always been the 'later' part that seemed most likely.
           He felt a shiver run up his spine, not an entirely unpleasant feeling given the circumstances, but he automatically hugged his jacket around him.
           "What? Nah... but how'd you fancy a trip to the canteen? 'Heart-attack-on-a-plate' for two?"
           "How could any girl resist an offer like that! Should stay here though..."
           "They won't miss us. Come on!"
           He held out his hand and she grabbed it, letting him guide her through the crowd and back into the building, already buzzing with morning admissions.


           They sat by the window, opposite each other, the remains of their food in front of them, and a plastic pot plant encroaching on their space from a plinth to the side.
           "It'll be odd being back on days again," Charlie commented, scooping up and eating the last of his meal with the relish of a man who hadn't eaten for weeks.
           "It was odd going on nights in the first place," she picked up a piece of slightly burnt toast and frowned at it before biting off the corner, "But, I suppose I'm as used to it now as I'm ever going to get. After tonight though I could really do with a good ni...days, rather, sleep".
           "Tonight was quiet. Only had one patient for most of it," Charlie pointed out.
           "But what a one! Your party idea was a good one though".
           "I just hope it wasn't a farewell party".
           "Now who's being defeatist. Anyway Ewart's not going to give up. Susie was saying earlier that he said he'll tender his resignation before letting it drop".
           "Stands to reason".
           "It does?"
           "The night shift's a good idea, and I'll support him all the way to get it back, but it's personal for him, his creation - and all he's got left."
           "Now it's over with Roz, you mean?"
           "Exactly. He's been throwing himself into his work more than usual lately, and that's saying something. You know, I just can't imagine it. How anyone can prefer being at work to being with their family. When it comes down to it family has to come first don't they?"
           He waited for her to cast her opinion on the subject. She simply stared back for a few seconds, then bowed her head, seemingly absorbed in the task of arranging her knife and fork carefully on her plate.
           "What? What did I say?" He racked his brain to try and work it out. And then it clicked. "Oh, oh, Baz, I wasn't talking about you".
           He reached across the table, clasping her hand in his in an attempt to prove he was earnest. He hadn't meant to infer anything about her abortion, it hadn't even crossed his mind as he'd spoken. Charlie understood her reasons, if not her secrecy, and even agreed with them to a point. He wasn't ready to be a dad, not yet, not if he was completely honest with himself; but in a few years... he could just imagine himself, Baz and Charlie junior living together. He really could...
           "Sorry. Really. Must have spent too much time hanging around with Kuba, I've picked up an inability to say what I mean." He saw her fight back a smile, and felt it safe to continue, "What I meant was after making that commitment, marrying, starting a family, how can you then not want them to come first?"
           "I don't know. I have trouble seeing beyond my next set of exams, let alone settling down into a family".
           "I'll tell you now though, I'm not going to end up like Ewart Plimmer, married to the job with no time for anything important".
           "And what's important?"
           "At the moment, you are. I hope it'll be quite a long moment an' all".
           "You can be quite charming sometimes, Charlie,"
           He pouted, trying to look hurt but far too pleased to carry it off successfully. "Just sometimes?!"
           "Well I wouldn't want you to get big headed." She twisted her hand in his, so she could reciprocate the clasp, and gave it a small squeeze. "But for what it's worth, I hope it'll be a long moment too".
           It was exactly the response he had hoped for, and his emotions got the better of him. He rose slightly, stretching across the table to kiss her full on the lips, oblivious to everything but the woman he loved. It was only as she gently pulled away that he became aware of the cheering and wolf whistling coming from the other patrons of the canteen.
           Baz blushed, and whispered to him, "Well, I'm embarrassed!"
           "Not as embarrassed as me," Charlie replied, straightening slowly to reveal the greasy stain that straddled his waistband. "I think I should have moved the plate..."
           He sat, trying to clean himself up with a paper napkin and if anything making it even worse, while Baz shook with laughter across the table.
           "That's not helpful Baz".
           "I know... I'm sorry". She bit on her bottom lip, and took a deep breath to calm herself, "But it is funny!"
           He gave a wry smile. "If you say so".
           "Oh, don't be so grumpy! Come on, let's get you home and out of those clothes..."
           "Now that might cheer me up!"
           She stood, picking up her coat and bag. Indicating for him to follow her lead. He pulled his jacket off the back of his chair, folding and holding it so it covered the stain, and provoking a fresh batch of giggles from Baz for his trouble.
           "I hope you're not going to show me up like this in France, Charlie!"
           "Yeah, well, I'll try not to. You're not having second thoughts about coming away with me?" he joked, although merely entertaining the idea that she was made him feel queasy.
           "Course not. Actually, seeing as your present to me was so much more than I expected, I have an extra present for you". She opened her bag and pulled out her door keys, dropping them on the table. "I mean, we spend enough time together anyway, it's silly to always have to knock".
           He looked from her to the shining keys, and back to her again, confused. "I'm not sure I follow..."
           She sat back down, "Well, we can't move in together. I promised I'd live at my aunt's place, and you can't get out of your contract, but I want you to know that you're always welcome at mine, even if we're not working the same shifts".
           "You mean that?"
           "Of course I do, I'll even give up one of my shelves in the bathroom!"
           "Wow!" he gasped, and earned himself a punch on the arm, "And you know you're always welcome round mine as well."
           "So that's sorted then," Baz replied, standing once more, "We're practically living together. Not as scary sounding as I thought it would be!"
           "No it isn't, is it. Not scary at all".
           Charlie looked up at her, feeling the urge to kiss her again, to hold her and not let go, and he knew in that instant that he'd found the woman he was made to be with!

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