For lives; not men; for flags
As promised, the new Dunkirk fic. Enjoy everyone!
When you first met Farrier and Collins, it was in the most awkward of situations. That was to say, you would’ve preferred to be in any place other than the food hall of the RAF training base, surrounded by hungry to-be pilots who eyed your nurse uniform with intense interest. It was late 1939 and the RAF were in desperate need of trained pilots. Here in the very mess hall you were standing, were almost a hundred of them. And out of the hundred men who sat at the tables the Matron had asked you to find a certain Frank Delaney. Needless to say–you weren’t having much luck. Apparently, he had twisted his ankle some time earlier this morning and failed to report to the nurse’s station for a continued check-up later this evening. And you, being the newest member of the nursing staff at the training base, was despatched with this role. What the Matron failed to tell you was what a scene you would cause by walking in through the front entrance of the mess hall. Nor did the Matron tell you just how hard it is to find this ‘Frank Delaney’ amongst all the ducked heads there were slowly but surely turning your way.
Now you weren’t one to get easily intimated. Having two older brothers that teased you constantly in your youth gave you more backbone than any could’ve guessed in your small stature. But with hundreds of pairs of eyes slowly drawing towards you and the sheer difficulty of your task was starting to make you panic. Frank Delaney. What did the Matron say? Black hair, freckled skin with a distantly East London accent? You could hardly see any faces distantly among that chewing mouths and turned positions. The sound of chatter ricocheting off the walls made you question if you could actually hear anything at all. But you were standing there, staring at the men hunkered down over their meals and you realised you looked like an idiot. In your white aproned dress, blue shirt, and white habit over the back of your hair, you couldn’t have stuck out more even if you tried. So you began to walk around the circumference of the room, eyes glancing to the side occasionally hoping to see this Frank but all you see were curious glances.
Change of plans.
It was the side of the side door opening that you made your exit, counting the steps towards some sort of salvation. You had to regroup, rethink and ultimately come out with a plan that didn’t result in your melting from humiliation in front of intimidating men. Thoughts spiralling with your determination, your eyes didn’t land on the pair of shining black shoes until you were hitting smack bang in the centre of RAF uniform. There was hollering in the background, your habit was askew and out of all the things that could happen, you were starting to turn into the tomato your brothers always teased you of being.
“You alright?” asked the tall man you surprised. Subconsciously your mind registered two things. One: the accent was not East London, rather it was Scottish. Two: the lingering tobacco scent on the uniform gave you a longing pang for your brothers who you hadn’t seen for some time. You nodded quickly, straightening your habit and looking up apologetically into kind eyes.
The laughter had gotten louder and with increasing embarrassment you tried to head for the door again. Only now the doorway was blocked by another RAF pilot, shorter than the first but with an steady gaze. He simply glanced at you then at the Scot, taking in the scene in a matter of seconds. Then in the brisk manner you would come to know from him, he raised his voice to tell then men to shut it.
“Farrier, mate, just having some fun!” One of the men called out jovially and others around him nodded. Farrier said not a word, swept his eyes across the dining hall and returned to you.
“Seems you require assistance, Sister…” He waited for a beat.
“Sister Y/N,” you supplied, still eyeing the men warily. Now they had settled down you tried to peer at them more clearly, going up on your toes slightly. There were some with black hair but you weren’t quite sure whether it was natural or due to sweat. At this point you cringed inwardly at the latter.
The Scottish pilot sounded rather amused. “Trying to find someone, Sister?”
“Actually, yes.” An idea sparked up in your mind. “I’m looking for a Frank Delaney. He needs to report to the Matron about an…injury earlier this morning. I was going to go find him but if you two…” You trailed off, waiting for their response. You knew the outcome anyhow. In the RAF if you didn’t make a good laugh at someone else’s expense, then you weren’t getting the full experience.
The most boyish smile came up on the Scot’s face and even Farrier seemed interested.
“What do you think, Collins?” Farrier queried unnecessarily.
“Well that would depend on the injury. What did Frankie boy do, aye?” Collins asked you.
You tried to look demure or even serious but that gleam in their eyes reminded you so much of your brothers when you were little. “A twisted ankle. He forgot to report in earlier before supper.”
Both men muttered a ‘right,’ but you could clearly see they weren’t paying attention to you. There was a certain comradery between them that was unlike any you had witnessed before. It was like they both grew up in the same neighbourhood, kicked ball on the streets and badgered all the girls mad when they were younger.
“My turn to do the shoutin’.” Collins told Farrier in a jesting tone.
Farrier raised an eyebrow as if to ask, are you really making a play at this? But Farrier stepped to the side, hands behind a straight back with a face as passive as glass. And as Collins called over the crowd of men for quiet, Farrier’s constant blank expression made it hard for you not to snicker or laugh. Even more so when a red-faced Frank Delaney limped towards you and you heard Farrier’s considering, “Might be worthwhile to get a watch, Delaney.”
You had to bite the inside of your cheek the entire way to the infirmary, unable to meet Frank Delaney’s eyes. You had shaken your head inwardly though. Those two, you knew, had more fun than their professional exterior entailed. Especially Farrier but you could see Collins brought the lighter side of him out.