DISCLAIMER: ER is the property of Constant C Productions, Amblin Entertainment, and Warner Brothers Television.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To But Your Love is My Relief
In the Dancing Together of Her and Me
I do what I always do. I run.
Beneath the ruins, way down deep where even I am not allowed to venture, I know that I am not wanted. Never was, never will be. Flawed. Wrong.
It is only a matter of time before I am discovered revealed, a better word. I am not who everyone thinks I am.
I can be cruel I don't know why
I grin despite my brutal self-assessment. Not my speed but that song, that song, I felt delight when I heard it.
She's working a graveyard again. Duck and cover. Pulling back a little like she's been burned. Which she has of course, over and over mother, ex-husband, lovers, work, life, pick a card, any card.
I desperately want her, right now, deep inside me. I want to succumb, bend to her, accept her, invite her within. I can't, not now, not yet. Too much work to be done, so many things unresolved. She will understand, of course, in that way she has quiet acceptance. People think she's always strong but it's a lie that she's told herself for so long that it's the truth now.
I realize that by the time I am ready, she will no longer be an option. She will have moved on, found someone a little less work, a little less effort.
I can do this. I have done it before, I can do it again.
Oh Sweet Jesus the levees that break in my heart
I am almost down the stairs when Luka's door opens. Some girl. Woman, I correct myself, come on, play nice.
Luka comes to the door and he is so kind, so persistent.
How come I can forgive him not that pretty, not that special and run from someone who's never done anything but be good to me?
I sit on the couch and watch the festivities, firmly in detached observer mode. Every so often, Luka looks up and catches my eye, a sweet grin crossing his face. The blonde offers me a drink and I hesitate. The first test of the evening. If I start, I will not leave tonight. Some perverse part of me knows that she will forgive me. We won't continue, of course, but she will be there for me as a friend.
I hate that line, the one that divides friend from lover. Fuck, why do I always have to choose?
"Are you okay?"
I look up, startled. Everyone has left and I haven't even noticed. I shake my head no.
"I can't believe they let him get away with it. You know what's worse? She'll probably go back to him eventually."
He nods sympathetically, then smiles grimly.
"I'm glad I gave him something to think about."
His words slam into me like an elbow to the gut. A thought struggles through my brain and I realize that she had mentioned that Luka had hit him. How could I have forgotten? I stand slowly and gather my coat and purse.
"Where are you going?"
I say nothing, just make my way to the door and let myself out. The drive feels endless and I am shivering when I walk into the ER. It is unnaturally quiet, no one at the desk, the board clear. The lounge is empty. I wander down the hall, checking each exam room until I find her, stretched out and given over to exhaustion.
I study her for long moments, the subtle rise and fall of her breathing, reaching out to brush my fingertips lightly down her cheek. She stirs but doesn't surface. I lean down and press my mouth against hers. I do not kiss her so much as accept her breath into me. I pull back and watch her. Her eyelids flutter and she suddenly jerks awake, instantly alert. Her gaze is clear and focused as she looks into my eyes.
"I didn't see you leave."
"No. I--needed some air, needed to think."
"How everything turned out. You got a shitty deal."
I contemplate her for a beat, then shrug.
I ignore her question and ask one of my own instead.
"You don't treat me any different at work. Why?"
She blinks, opens her mouth and then closes it. Opens it again.
"I don't treat you any different at work."
I begin to laugh, nodding my head in understanding as she continues.
"I have faith in the hospital grapevine they'll find out soon enough. But I won't let them consume us. We're private. Is that okay?"
"I would like to tell John and Luka before they hear it through that grapevine."
She bows her head in acquiescence.
I reach out again and brush the bangs from her forehead. She closes her eyes and allows the intimacy.
"I would like to come home with you."
She does not open her eyes but lets out a slow breath and smiles gently.
"I have three hours to go."
She rises to a sitting position and slides off the gurney. I hand her the crutch propped against the counter and she slips her arm through the cuff. She walks to the door, stops, turns around.
"I can give you the key
I shake my head.
"No. I'll wait."
I climb up and lay my head on the pillow where she has just rested, her scent cradled there, warm and inviting.
I look at her until my eyes can't stay open but I know she is standing there, watching over me even as I drift off to sleep.
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