DISCLAIMER: Doctors and its characters are the property of the BBC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Brief context - Doctors is set in a GPs' surgery. Zara Carmichael is a GP who has recently been diagnosed with early onset menopause. Michelle is a nurse there. Ruth is the receptionist and the only person who knows about Zara's condition. This follows an episode in which a woman goes into labour in the surgery.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After the day that they'd all had, Michelle prepared herself for the worst as she approached Zara's office, knocked on the slightly ajar door and poked her head round the frame. She'd anticipated glaring perhaps, coupled with that ice cold tone that made the doctor seem capable of cutting diamonds with her words. Or stony silence and a refusal to engage in anything but the barest bones of communication. Even shouting and swearing would have come as little surprise to the nurse, given Zara's increasingly volatile behaviour in recent days and weeks.
What she'd not expected, however, was the sight of the doctor hunched over her computer, with pictures of babies - cute, adorable little babies - on the screen, her cheeks pale, her lower lip clenched between her teeth and what looked suspiciously like the beginnings of tears forming in her eyes. Zara seemed not to have noticed her, lingering hesitantly in the doorway, and Michelle had the sudden feeling that she'd intruded on some intensely private moment. Much as she knew that she should leave, however, an equal mix of curiosity and compassion drove her on; even her wariness of Zara's caustic tongue unable to prevent her stepping forward into the room.
"Zara? Is everything ok?" Michelle asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
The doctor's head whipped round sharply, an accusing stare in her eyes as she scrambled to close the web page she'd been browsing. "What are you doing here?" she barked.
Michelle took an instinctive step back, holding her hands up in front of her in an attempt to pacify her colleague. "I just wanted to let you know Lily's seeing your last patient now. So you're done."
"Oh." Zara swallowed guiltily, instantly ashamed of her earlier harsh tone. She offered a sheepish smile. "Thanks."
Encouraged, Michelle stepped forward into the room once more. "How'd things go at the hospital?" she asked softly.
Zara squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head, tiredness and emotion threatening to overwhelm her as she reflected on the events of the day. "Why is it," she muttered bitterly, "that some people would give anything to have a child" - "people we see here, I mean," she quickly clarified, "yet others seem incapable of realising what a precious thing they have?"
Michelle frowned, unused to such displays of feeling from the doctor and consequently at a loss as to how to respond. She could sense the undercurrents, bubbling away beneath Zara's words, but while she recognised that they were there, she had no idea what they might mean to a woman like Zara, whose cards remained so firmly clamped to her chest. By the time she'd thought about what she might want to say, however, the moment had passed and Zara had returned to her usual prickly self, bustling round the office, gathering her coat and bag, evidently getting ready to leave.
"Zara..." Michelle began tentatively, but the doctor cut her off.
"Ignore me," she instructed, her voice tight and full of false cheer. "It's been a long day."
"Honestly, Michelle, I'm fine," Zara snapped, her impatience showing plainly in her voice. "Now if you don't mind..." Michelle stood back as Zara swept through the already open door, and, with a blatantly forced smile, strode off down the corridor. The nurse frowned, watching Zara's retreating back and mulling over their conversation in her head. Something was definitely up, and she would figure out what it was if it killed her.
Zara was less than pleased when her doorbell rang just under an hour later. A hot shower and a strong cup of coffee had succeeded in making her feel almost human, and she'd been looking forward to an evening curled up in front of the television, seeking some sort of escape from the chaos that had become her life. Her frown grew as she took in Michelle on the doorstep, her nurse's uniform replaced by jeans and a purple cardigan over a smock-like top, a carrier bag clutched tightly in her right hand. "Michelle," she stated curtly, raising one eyebrow, inviting the other woman to elaborate on the reason for her visit.
"Hey." Michelle smiled nervously, then, when the gesture was not returned, started to speak. "I just wanted to make sure you were ok."
"Honestly, I'm fine." Zara insisted irritably, rolling her eyes in an effort to downplay her earlier show of emotion. "How many times do I have to tell you? I'm just tired."
Michelle paused, searching Zara's face for something more, taking a deep breath when it became clear that the other woman was not about to give anything away. "Ruth told me," she offered simply, her eyes full of compassion, deciding to come clean about just how much she knew.
"Told you what?" Zara echoed, her seemingly calm voice in direct contrast to the panic which Michelle's words had awoken in her mind. She clenched her fists tightly at her sides in an effort to control the rush of conflicting emotions coursing through her body. On the one hand she was furious at the thought of Ruth and Michelle gossiping about her private affairs, but on the other, she felt something akin to relief at the realisation that she no longer had to pretend.
"She told me..." Michelle paused, aware that she was skating on perilously thin ice. "She told me... why things are difficult for you at the moment." She drew back as Zara's face grew red and her eyes clouded with an unreadable emotion. "Don't be angry with her," Michelle gabbled desperately, fearing the words that were about to pass the doctor's lips. "I made her tell me." She faltered slightly, feeling Zara's cool gaze boring into the top of her head, but not quite daring to look up. "I was worried about you,' she continued, her voice softer and more level. "You haven't been yourself in weeks." She paused again, taking Zara's unrelenting silence as a sign to continue. "All that baby stuff couldn't have been easy for you today."
Zara's attempt at a casual shrug did little to disguise the tension in her body and she could immediately see that Michelle had been far from fooled by the gesture. Not trusting herself to speak, she shook her head, willing the other woman to leave before she broke down completely.
Michelle smiled sympathetically. "Look I know there's nothing I can say that you don't already know..." she offered with a nervous laugh. "You're a doctor, for god's sake. But I thought this might help in the short term." She thrust the carrier bag forward into Zara's hands, blushing slightly as she did so.
Instinctively gripping the handles of the bag, Zara peered inside to discover a bottle of wine - significantly nicer than the cheap rubbish she suspected the nurse usually drank - and a tub of luxury ice cream. Despite her hesitancy, an endearing pout crept onto her lips, slowly dispelling her earlier irritation. She glared at Michelle as she looked up and met her gaze, but there was a certain fondness in her eyes as she turned wordlessly back into the house, inclining her head in an invitation for the nurse to follow.
"You know," Zara mused, a faraway look in her eyes as she pushed the now empty ice cream tub away from them on the table and topped up their glasses with the last of the bottle of wine. "I never thought I wanted children, but now, suddenly..." she trailed off as her voice rose in pitch and then cracked altogether, making no effort to pull back when she found Michelle's arms wrapped tightly around her, one of the nurse's hands stroking soothing tracks through her hair.
"You know, even if you can't conceive a baby, it doesn't mean you can't ever have a child... if that's what you want," Michelle offered a few moments later, when Zara's tears had subsided and the other woman had somewhat reluctantly pulled away. "There's always adoption."
"That's sweet of you Michelle," Zara began, genuinely grateful for the other woman's efforts. "But we both know I'm hardly the ideal candidate for that."
"Oh, I don't know," Michelle began brightly, quickly trailing off under Zara's sceptical gaze. "Fine. But that's not the only way."
Zara raised her eyebrows. "Oh yeah?"
For a brief second, Michelle seemed stumped, but then a slow grin spread across her face and she shrugged casually, as if her next suggestion were the most obvious idea in the world. "You could always get a girlfriend and get her to have the baby."
"Are you volunteering?" The caustic remark was past Zara's lips before she'd really thought about what she was saying, and for a moment there was silence in the room as she stared at Michelle, wondering why her question - intended entirely as a witty comeback - had sent her heart beating just that little bit faster. Michelle stared back, unsure if she was imagining the subtle blush on Zara's cheekbones and the insistent fluttering in her own stomach, her world suddenly narrowing to a sofa in the corner of Zara's living room and the space between them as they each sat, motionless and caught in the moment. But then Michelle blinked and Zara laughed - a little too loudly - and the tension was gone as quickly as it had appeared, evaporating into the air, leaving a residual feeling of confusion in its wake as both women frowned and quickly turned the conversation to safer topics.
Michelle wasn't quite sure where the second bottle of wine had come from, but before she knew it, her glass was full again and they were talking more, not just about Zara's condition, but about all the things they'd both wanted to know about the other, but never found the time to ask. For her part, Zara felt more relaxed than she had in weeks, glad finally of the opportunity to talk to someone who seemed in some way to understand. Although she'd been mortified when Ruth, the surgery receptionist, had found out about her condition, embarrassed at the way in which her body seemed to be betraying her, she'd quickly come to be glad of the silent understanding which the other woman had provided. And talking with Michelle was the first time she'd found herself examining the problem in non-medical terms, exploring her feelings, rather than symptoms and treatment and research. She'd avoided the conversation so far, because if there was one thing Zara hated in life, it was other people feeling sorry for her. With a shudder she thought of her sister - her sweet little sister with her perfect job and perfect husband and perfect children - and her parents - who had made no secret of their desire for more grandchildren - renewing her decision that she'd rather die than suffer their stifling pity. But something about Michelle was different. Michelle didn't patronise her, she didn't give in. She didn't scurry away to seek refuge in the corner when things got difficult. She listened and she was there and in that moment that was what Zara needed most.
Over an hour had passed, the second bottle of wine also now empty, when Michelle finally declared that it was late and that she should go. Zara stood up reluctantly to show her to the door, pausing in the hallway to thank her and drawing her into a friendly hug. She was almost sure - almost - that she'd been aiming for Michelle's cheek and that the kiss had been meant as a chaste confirmation of her friendship and gratitude towards the other woman. But - and if anyone had asked, she'd have blamed Michelle, although she strongly suspected the opposite to be true - as she leant forward, she found her lips ghosting across Michelle's, then grazing them, then finally kissing them unmistakably, her hands moving upwards to cup the back of the stunned nurse's head.
Michelle opened her mouth to ask what they were doing, but before she could speak, Zara's tongue slid between her lips and she decided that she didn't care, concentrating instead on the surprisingly exhilarating feeling of Zara's warm mouth against hers, Zara's hands pushing insistently on her hips as their bodies moulded together against the wall. She let out a series of small moans and whimpers as Zara nipped hungrily at her earlobe, throat and collarbone, before returning to her mouth and claiming it with renewed vigour, encouraged in her pursuit when Michelle kissed her back just as energetically, her hands beginning to roam increasingly lower on the doctor's back.
"Do you want to..." Zara managed to gasp between kisses, then, breathing heavily with the force of her arousal, gave up all attempts at speech, instead casting a desperate glance at the stairway which led to her spacious double bed in order to convey her drift. Instantly catching the significance of the gesture, Michelle nodded, her heart thumping hard in anticipation as she followed the doctor up the carpeted stairs, unable to take in any of her surroundings beyond the rhythmic sway of Zara's skirt as it clung to her slender legs. She paused briefly as they entered the bedroom, surprised to find a light and airy room in place of the den of seduction which she supposed she'd expected, knowing what she did about Zara's past. Zara sensed her hesitation, turning and eyeing her carefully, her expression uncharacteristically tender as she attempted to read the nurse's face.
"We don't have to do this, you know," Zara reminded her, hoping that the insecurity in her voice was masked by her attempt at concern. "We could stop now."
"No," Michelle responded quickly, shaking her head. "I want to, honest." She eyed Zara earnestly, blinking as she processed what she'd just agreed to, taking a deep breath to steady her nerves. "This is what I want."
"I was hoping you'd say that." A predatory smirk spread across the doctor's face as she reached out for Michelle's hips, pulling the other woman close to her and steering her towards the bed, all the while claiming her lips with her own. Easing Michelle back onto the mattress, she straddled her, one leg on either side of her knees, pausing only to remove her suit jacket and toss it across the room, before her hands continued their frenzied exploration of the nurse's body.
"That was... amazing," Michelle finally managed, a good while later, shifting underneath the other woman as she slowly recovered her breath.
"You sound surprised," Zara retorted dryly, the corners of her mouth upturned in a self-satisfied grin.
"Yes... no... well yes..." Michelle scrambled, becoming increasingly flustered as Zara lounged calmly in the bed beside her, her fingers absent-mindedly trailing paths across the nurse's over-sensitive skin. "It's just that I've never done that before."
Zara raised one eyebrow, her features settling into a self-indulgent smirk. "Well in that case," she purred, rolling Michelle onto her back and stretching herself the length of her body, laughing as she whimpered softly in response, "we'd better do it again."
Michelle was already on her third cup of coffee when Zara breezed into the surgery the next morning, throwing a cheerful 'good morning' at both herself and Ruth before grabbing her patients' notes from the reception desk and disappearing into her room.
"Someone's in a better mood today," Ruth murmured approvingly over her shoulder as she searched the computer for details of the day's appointments. Michelle made a non-committal noise of agreement, turning away from the receptionist to hide the subtle blush rising on her cheeks, wary of giving far too much away.
"You know what?" Ruth continued, remaining oblivious to the other woman's discomfort, taking care to lower her voice so that only Michelle could hear. "It's a good job I talked you out of going round there last night, because I reckon someone was busy getting laid."
Return to Miscellaneous Fiction
Return to Main Page