Chapter 30

"Grey," she breathed, hardly knowing if she'd even said the name out loud. But the doctor moved close, putting a finger to his lips as he drew closer. As he neared, she inspected him again. Curly dark hair that fell perfectly across his brow, his jaw dusted with whiskers, broad shoulders that had once filled his parents doorway, and his eyes. Eyes that couldn't belong to anyone else, eyes filled with apology and embarrassment, eyes filled with fear.

He sat down beside her, reaching out for her hand. She allowed him to take it, her mind still too confused to be angry at the man that had caused so much pain.

"Thank you for not yelling. I knew it would be a shock for you, and I was afraid you'd blow my cover." he said quietly, keeping his head close to hers to avoid any ears that were listening for a juicy bit of hospital news.

"I don't understand," she mumbled, staring at the face she had been looking so hard for.

"I was injured in a Battle. Several of the men in my company were. I wasn't hurt too badly, but they thought I was bad enough to bring here. When I got here, I realized how badly they needed doctors, especially at the hospitals close to the line. So I got rid of my tags and claimed that they were lost. Then I told them I was a doctor and was hit when we went to go help the soldiers in the field. After a quick demonstration of my ability, they took me on right away, explaining how badly they needed a doctor like me."

"But why lie? Why not tell them that you're Grey Mansfield and you're a doctor and can help?"

"Because they also needed soldiers. But Maggie, I couldn't go back to fight and leave the men that were injured. When I became a doctor, I knew that it would always be my job to help those in need. Once I saw how bad it was, I couldn't leave."

"But what about your parents! She was sick with worry when she got that telegram. You weren't there. I watched the color drain from her face, as she feared she had lost another child! That was selfish Grey, selfish and hurtful. You know how much she loves you and you know exactly what she went through with your sister."

Grey grew quiet, letting his head fall against his chest. When he looked back up at her, tears trailed down his cheeks. "That was the worst part of deciding to help here. I knew what Mum and Dad would think. I knew how badly it would hurt them. But I also knew how proud Mum was that I had become a doctor. I know she believes in all that I do, and I knew that she would tell me to do the same thing I had already decided to do. When the war's over, she'll forgive me the worry I caused because she'll see how many lives I've saved, including yours."

"She's not going to wait until the end of the war! You're going to write her a letter right now!"

He lurched toward her, throwing a hand over her mouth. "You must be quiet! No one can find out who I am, no one! I can't write Mum because the postmen read the letters to make sure no secrets are being passed across the lines. And you can't tell her either. I know my Mum, she's a strong lady and she'll be okay until the end of the war knowing that you're safe, and you will be safe Maggie. Promise me that you won't tell anyone."

"No one else knows?" she asked, not believing that he could keep such a huge secret for so long.

"Just Pete, the ambulance driver. He was in my company; one of the reasons I stayed was to help him survive. He wouldn't have made it without me, he would never tell a soul. Please don't say anything, Maggie."

She glared at him, not knowing what to do. How could she let Mrs. Mansfield continue to suffer, unsure if her son was alive or dead? Hadn't that been her mission?

"Listen, when I found you in that hospital, I didn't know what to do. I knew that you would know the moment you opened those eyes. But I also knew that I couldn't leave you in that hospital. So, I rescued you, hoping that whatever had hit you in the head would keep you from recognizing me. I asked for a transfer the moment we got you settled, hoping that if I moved on, you wouldn't realize what had happened and wouldn't remember the man who picked you up from the rubble. But they told me we were too short staffed, and that I had to stay.

"Your eyes being injured were practically a miracle, but I knew I had to be the one to care for you. Nurses were constantly scolding me for paying so much attention to you, but I knew my mother would want it that way, especially after I read your letters."

"You read my letters?" Maggie asked in shock.

He hung his head again, in shame. "I'm sorry, I know they're personal, but I've missed her so much I just needed to see how she was, even if she wasn't writing to me. I had no idea how fond of you she is. That gave me even more reason to give you the best treatment I could so that you could return to her in one piece. But in all those decisions I also realized that eventually you'd see me for who I am. I didn't want to take your bandages off because I was hoping to break it to you slowly, while you still couldn't see, but the other doctors decided that it needed to be done, because we need your bed. Please, Maggie, you can't breathe a word of this, to anyone. You can't call me Grey, I'm Jack now, Jack Benedict."

"I don't want your mother to be angry with me when all of this is over. I need her." Maggie said, hoping he'd give her permission to write a letter right away.

"I promise she won't be angry with you. If she's to be angry, she'll be angry with me."

"Fine, I suppose I can be quiet, but I'm not happy about it." Maggie said, looking away.

"It might be best if we don't see very much of each other, to avoid any slips," Grey said quietly, removing himself from her bed.

"Alright, Dr. Benedict. Thank you for everything you've done for me."

"You're welcome, and please, call me Jack."

Maggie nodded and smiled. Jack stood and left her bed. Maggie rested her head against her pillow and closed her eyes, diving back into the dark world she had been in for weeks. It was all so unbelievable, her mission was over, but she didn't feel excited about it, at all. She wished she could tell Grace, or talk to someone!

"Mags? Mags! How can you possibly be lying there with your eyes closed when you've had them shut for nearly a month? Let me see those eyes!" Grace squealed, jumping on her bed, paying little attention to the wounds that still afflicted them both.

Maggie kept her eyes closed for another moment, shaking her distress before facing her dear friend. When she opened them, Grace's face was wet with tears. Reaching out, she carefully embraced her friend. Maggie could no longer contain her tears upon seeing Grace. Even after a month of healing her face still bore the scars of Maggie's selfishness.

"Oh, Grace, can you ever forgive me?" Maggie asked her, her voice breaking as she spoke.

"For what?" Grace asked, confusion etched across her features.

"For being selfish and allowing you to follow me on a pointless mission that got all of us injured!" It had been a pointless mission, for Grey had never needed saving at all. He was safe all along, and she'd been a fool to believe he would need her.

"You weren't selfish, I volunteered, and this scar, is nothing that a bit of fringe won't care."

Maggie allowed Grace to pull her into another hug. How had she managed to secure such a friend? And then she realized that she had several friends of such caliber. Petia, Grace, Mrs. Mansfield, and Amelia. Perhaps it hadn't been a pointless mission after all.