I’ll Be Seeing You, a
far too long Collins Imagine
Summary: A nurse survives a the sinking of one of the destroyers and is picked up by the crew of the Moonstone. Collins x reader.
A/N: It’s quite intense in places so if you're looking for pure fluff you better keep scrolling! George also features quite heavily in this fic, just to warn y’all.
“I think they’re dead Dad.” The voice seemed to drift towards you as if it were borne on the wind. You were aware of a soothing rocking motion, someone speaking and little else.
“Here, give me tha’ rope.” Another person, Scottish by their accent, spoke. You didn’t really care, you were so dazed.
There was a bump and a shake as wood struck wood and you finally opened your eyes. There was endless blue above you crowned by a golden sun, it was beautiful. Your vision was bleary so you couldn’t make out much else, but there was a dark green blob next to you and a much larger white and brown one on your other side.
“The lass is awake.” The Scot called. It slowly dawned on you that you were the lass he spoke of. “Here, be careful. Take my hand.” He continued more quietly. You looked in the direction of the voice, it had come from a blond man in blue who was leaning over a railing on the small white boat.
You sat up, becoming suddenly, uncomfortably aware that you were on the sea, floating on the top of a chunk of wooden table, and you were not alone. The green blob was, or rather had been, a man, a soldier, a boy. His lips were blue, his face pale and lifeless. One hand went to your mouth to stifle a cry and the other you used to push yourself up. This was a bad move. The wood beneath you shifted and instantly you were falling. The water was cold but you barely noticed: memories were flooding back, of the ship, the explosion, the screams of men into the blackness of night. Sights like that would take the fight out of even the bravest, and this had only been your first deployment. Would it be so bad to let go and sink down to the watery depths of the channel like all those others?
Choice was removed from you as a hand wrapped round your wrist and pulled you up. Your head broke through the water and you gasped for air.
“Come on.” The warm voice came again, and you did, clawing your way up the ladder on the side of the little vessel. It was hard work, your muscles were achy and tired and you were weighed down with a nurse’s uniform of a blouse, heavy wool skirt and a cotton apron.
You pulled yourself onto the deck of the boat, still breathing heavily and lay there.
“Is there any use getting the man?” The first voice asked. The other sighed in response.
“Hypothermia got him, Peter.” A third voice joined the conversation, he sounded Cornish or thereabouts, and something told you he was older than the other two.
“Best leave ‘im there lad.” said the Scottish man, he was the closest to you, and it was him who helped, or rather pulled you to your feet.
“Son, get her a blanket.” The older man from the cabin commanded.
“Let me take that.” The Scot said, taking the lapels of the soldier’s jacket you only now remembered you were wearing. It was sodden and salt-stained but it still felt wrong to remove it. You shook your head and wrapped it tighter around you.
You began to shake then, your body rocking with a wave of sobs as hot, angry tears filled your eyes.
“He’s dead. He’s dead. He shouldn’t,” you involuntarily inhaled, “he-he shouldn’t be dead.” You squeezed out between sobs. A blanket was placed on your shoulders and the blond man in front of you pulled it closer about you. “It’s my fault.” You wailed.
“Shhh, now.” The man in blue replied as his arms surrounded you, pulling you into his chest. You let him hold you but continued:
“The-the man, he g-gave me his jacket.” You spluttered. “If he’d kept it he’d be alive.”
“Don’ think like tha’. You can’t possibly know what might have happened.” he was speaking softly and gently rubbing circles on your back.
“I should have stayed in England. I should have stayed at home.” a fresh wave of tears fell from your eyes at the thought of the home you left.
“You’ll be home soon,” the Scot cooed “You’ll be home soon.” That made you feel a bit better. “When you get home, what’s the first thing you’ll do?” It was obvious what he was doing, he was trying to distract you from the terrible situation you were in, and it worked. You sniffled but were able to speak with surprising normalcy.
“I’ll go to back to my father’s bakery, Y/L/N and Sons in St Albans. I’ll bake the cakes like I always used to, with the radio on loud, up to my elbows in flour.” a small smile threatened to break out across your face at the thought of that.
There was silence for some time, punctuated with the occasional call of a seagull or bluster of wind. All the while the man held you; and it was only when your breaths had slowed to normal, that he pulled away to hold you at arm’s length to survey your face. You returned the favour and took in a pointed nose, a friendly smile and intense blue eyes that, under different circumstances, would have left you weak at the knees.
“I’m Jack, Jack Collins.” He said, softly.
“I’m Y/N Y/L/N.”
“Nice to meet you, Y/N.” The two of you shook hands. “Would you like some tea?”
Hands wrapped around a steaming cup of Earl Grey and safely cloistered in the cabin below deck, you felt a great deal better. You were still damp and every so often you would hiccup but for the most part you were yourself again and were back to asking questions:
“So where’s your plane?” you asked, from behind a curtain of steam rising from your tea. Your companion chuckled lightly.
“In the drink, I’m afraid.” Jack answered. “So, where’s your surgery?” the pilot countered, his eyes darting to your apron, where the red cross that singled you out as a nurse was printed. No doubt he had intended it to be light hearted, but you were not quite ready to think about last night. You took a sip of tea and braced yourself.
“HMS Wakeful was torpedoed off the coast of Dunkirk.” you deadpanned with glazed eyes. Jack appeared apologetic, and you forgave him instantly, but you couldn’t help but tear up slightly.
“Excuse me, Miss.” Came a voice at the door, it was a boy, with neat blond hair and high cheekbones.
“Yes, um, Peter is it?” You replied. The boy nodded.
“My friend George, he-” a flash of anger passed over his face. “He fell down the stairs and hit his head, could you have a look at him, please?”
“Give ‘er a minute for christ’s sake!” Jack interjected, with a surprising amount of concern in his tone.
“No, Mr Collins, it’s quite alright.” You gathered yourself and followed Peter to where the patient had been placed.
You knelt by the dark haired boy and inspected him.
“Can you hear me, George?” You asked, marking the blood on the makeshift pillow beneath his head.
There was a second of silence then “Yes.” he answered.
“Can you see me?”
“No…No.” Worry crept into his voice. You took one of the boy’s hands in yours and gave a gentle squeeze. You bent your head close to that of the boy’s and peered into his left eye, then took a measure of his heart rate with a finger pressed on the inside of his wrist.
“You’ll be alright, George. I’m a nurse, I know what I’m doing.” you stood, took off the blanket and the dead boy’s jacket, and tied up your still damp hair.
“George, I need to get you to a bed, can you walk do you think?” You asked, motioning for Jack to help him up. The pilot had been looking at you but quickly bent to his task.
The boy was badly injured. He clearly had a terrible concussion which had triggered his brain to swell, it was pressing up on the inside of his skull, preventing proper function of his ocular nerve. His brain would only continue to increase in size unless something could be done. He needed to be put on a ventilator and be dehydrated if he was to survive, but you were at sea. How could he be put on a ventilator if you were miles from a hospital? And even a fully stocked medical kit was unlikely to hold a strong enough diuretic to help him, so what could be done?
“Peter,” you took the young man’s arm and led him out of earshot of the dark haired boy. “Your friend has a concussion, a bad one. His brain is swelling. I can’t lie to you, he is in a bad way, but there is still hope. I need you to find a diuretic.” The poor boy looked absolutely terrified and clearly had no idea where a diuretic would be found. “Caffeine pills perhaps?” You prompted.
“I’ll ask my Dad.” He nodded, turned and dashed up the stairs.
Following George and Jack to the cabin, where the boy was lying, you explained: “I need you to induce hyperventilation, it’s a big word, I know.” you tried to inject some levity to the situation, you heard Collins utter a quiet “ha”, but paid no mind to it. “You have to breathe quickly and shallowly, George.” The blind boy nodded and sucked in a breath.
“Aye, like tha’, George.” Collins encouraged, his gaze fixed on you.
Your next task was to pile blankets on top of the patient, with the hope of causing him to sweat. Collins helped you find as many as possible and when you were done, only George’s head protruded from a heap of blankets.
Tired, you sank to the floor and crossed your legs beneath you. You glanced up at Jack then and were surprised to find him already looking back at you.
“What are you looking at?” you questioned, your eyebrows knitted together in confusion.
“Just you.” your lips parted and your eyes widened. The pilot was smirking down at you.
“Miss Y/L/N.” you jumped and your head spun so fast you cricked your neck.
“Um, yes Peter?” you asked while rubbing your neck. You heard Collin’s chuckle and rolled your eyes.
“Here: caffeine pills.” the young man explained, holding out a battered pack of tablets. You rose, took the pills and went to George’s bedside.
“George, you’re going to have to take these dry, we can’t give you any water.”
“I-I don’t think I can.”
“I know,” you studied the boy’s face, noting the lines of stress in his forehead. “But you have to try.”
The packet said the maximum dose was two tablets; you disregarded this, popping out three and placing them in George’s hand one at a time. It was clearly not easy for the lad, but after many attempts and a few fits of coughing he got the first pill down, then the second, then the third.
“Well done George. I’ll be back in half an hour with two more.” You were worried about the boy, but impressed, he’d remained calm throughout a very stressful series of events; but, you remembered, his treatment was far from over.
You did as you had said, administering the remaining caffeine tablets, whilst trying not to blush whenever you caught sight of the blond pilot. His strong Scottish accent and dimpled boyish grin certainly didn’t help in this regard.
The rest of the afternoon passed in a haze, you were exhausted, but kept to your task of looking after George. Later there was the small matter of a Heinkel bomber and leaking oil from a sinking ship, but you knew that it was not your place to be scared anymore, god knows, you’d come back from the brink once today already. You stayed with George whilst Peter and Jack pulled petrol-covered men from the water. It was just as the first of the rescued men were thumping down the stairs that George spoke up after a long period of silence:
“Y/N, I think-I think I can see something.” he breathed.
“What can you see?” you asked hurriedly.
“Just light.” you held your hand above his open eyes, displaying two fingers. “Wait, I think there’s something there…Is it a hand?” you let out an unashamed whoop of joy and rushed from the cabin, through the press of sodden soldiers.
“Hey! Jack, Peter, Mr Dawson!” you called from behind a gaggle of men. Peter was the first to reach you, his eyes wide with worry. He quickly calmed when he saw your smile.
“What is it?”
“It’s George, he’s started to see again. It’s a really good sign. The pressure seems to have gone down somewhat, allowing him to see again.” you rushed. “He’s out of the woods, Peter!” the young man let out a relieved bark of a laugh, hugged you and dashed down to the cabin.
“So the lad’ll live then?” came Jack’s familiar voice. You nodded keenly. “He’s alive because of you. You saved him, Y/N.” his voice was deeper, huskier with seriousness. Your grin faded then, as you looked at the pilot. Again you nodded, understanding what he was really doing: Jack Collins was absolving you of the death of the soldier, and it meant so much to you.
Up on deck it was very cold as the west wind was blowing with great force. The gusts cut through your thin blouse and the apron, making you shiver. You refused to let the cold affect you and instead pushed your way to the prow of the little vessel. It had been turned about and now pressed for home.
“Here.” Jack had followed you over to the railing and was placing his blue RAF jacket around your shoulders.
“Are you sure?” you asked, though in truth it was just a courtesy, he knew you were cold and you knew he wanted you protected.
“Aye.” Jack smiled.
It was dark when the boat finally docked. There were hundreds and hundreds of other little ships all along the quayside and out of each of them the boys were pouring. After the Moonstone’s cargo of soldiers had disembarked, you sent Peter to find an ambulance and prepared George to be moved to a hospital. You did this by writing a quick note of what had caused his injury, the medication you had given him and the timings of all of this, then changing over to a fresh bandage for his head. George was transferred to a stretcher and put in the back of an ambulance, Mr Dawson sent Peter with him. Jack was with you as you waved goodbye to the pair.
“I suppose it’s goodbye then.” The man said as the vehicle rounded a corner and the sirens became quieter and quieter.
“Yes, it is.” As much as you wanted to stay, you knew you had to return to your home base in Portsmouth. You said a short goodbye to Mr Dawson and followed the floods of men to what you presumed was a train station.
The streets were crowded and you were jostled by the men all around you, you understood why, they were all desperate to get inside a warm train, so you didn’t begrudge it, but Jack did. Mr Collins quickly took you by the arm and used his taller frame to cut through the throng much more effectively. The third train you walked past had the sign “WEST-Portsmouth, Dorset” illuminated. You patted him on the shoulder and pointed to the train you knew you had to get on. Jack stopped and turned to face you.
“I never got round to asking you,” you piped up, “what will you do now you’re back?”
“Probably go tae the pub, me an’ Farriers always did after a mission.” you were surprised to note some sadness in his face, he certainly wasn’t smiling. “It’d be a shame to break the tradition.”
“Yes, yes it would.” you nodded. “What about when the war’s over, what will you do then?” you asked with a lighter tone.
“Oh,” he smiled sheepishly, “Ah dinnae ken.” (I don’t know.) The Scottish phrase made you smile; it was close to the English so you understood.
The pair of you lapsed back into a tense silence then, as you tried not to glance too long at his eyes or worse, his lips.
“Un tuh-r oo ghawnh pawk?” Jack asked, popping the quiet bubble you’d been trapped in. You could make out that the Gaelic was a question from the tone but besides that you had no idea. He inched almost imperceptibly closer.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what that means.” he was looking intently down at you, lips parted. You noticed his gaze flick down to your mouth, then back to your eyes. You hadn’t realised just how blue his eyes were until that moment. Your breath hitched.
“Oh, I think you do.” he whispered, only just audibly, his face so close you could feel his warm breath on your cheek. You were petrified and exhilarated all at once. Thoughts flew through your mind faster than a Spitfire, then you stopped thinking at all.
He was kissing you. You were kissing him. One of his hands was on the small of your back, you could feel the heat of it seeping into you, the other rested on one of your cheeks. His lips were very soft you noticed. There were soldiers all around you, some were laughing, you didn’t care in the slightest: they weren’t real, only he was.
The kiss stayed simple and gentle. It ended far earlier than you wanted it to though, but then, you could have quite happily kissed Jack Collins for eternity.
Jack reached up to slide a lock of hair behind your ear.
“You have very pretty eyes, you know, Y/N.” he intoned.
“Come find me, after the war.” you asked, unable to keep a pleading tone out of your voice.
“I will.” Jack said. Neither of you knew when the war would end, nor even if it would, but you could sense that his promise was solemn, so you allowed yourself to be put on the train. He stayed on the platform and waved you off, neither of you smiled. Before long the train had gathered speed and you were flying through the English countryside. You were home.
The war had ended two weeks ago and it seemed as though the whole world was rejoicing. The sun was casting god rays through the glass windows of your father’s shop front, the people all but skipped by in the street and the wireless was belting out Billie Holiday. Everything felt right, almost everything, that is. You sighed and set back to your work, picking up a piping bag full of pink icing and going back to work on the cake on the worktop in front of you.
You hummed along to the song, “I’ll be seeing you”, as you worked and only looked up when the bell rang, signalling that a customer had entered the shop.
“Just a moment.” you called, wiping the icing off your hands with your baker’s apron.
You turned and gasped. It was Jack. The clothes had changed, now he was dressed in a smart black suit, a well-fitting shirt and a blue tie, but the smile was the same, dimpled and warm. You dashed over and threw your arms about him.
“You found me.” you breathed into his chest, finally content.