DISCLAIMER: Not mine, no profit, just some indulgent reading hopefully...
SPOILERS: Umm, a little for s10, ep 2, but nothing major - if you've seen the ep you'll get the inspiration....if you haven't seen the ep nothing will be spoiled....
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I might be stepping out of canon a bit here - I like Cruz and am traditionally hopeless at writing men, so have assumed she's the ER Director now...but I'm also assuming Maca and Esther are s8/9, rather than 10/11, which may be causing canon confusion (I honestly don't know when Cruz became director or why....) Anyways, you'll cope, I'm sure....
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In sickness and in health
"Esther?" Since she was busily signing off charts, requisitions and anything else the Head Nurse decided needed the ER Director's signature, Cruz was somewhat bemused when the steady stream of papers stopped being passed to her, despite the large pile she could still see sitting on the counter in front of the Head Nurse. Looking up at her friend, rather than at the pile of paperwork in front of her, Cruz suddenly noticed the problem.
"Esther?" she tried again, quieter and kinder this time, her pen left sitting on the counter, trusting Teresa to keep it for her as her hand reached out now to feel the nurse's forehead.
"Yes?" Mumbled Esther wearily, seemingly unable to attempt to stop Cruz touching her forehead, her arms too heavy to raise from the counter. Concerned, Cruz felt the warm forehead with her palm as slightly damp strands of hair, no doubt from the fevered sweats Esther's body was starting to have, rested on the back of her hand.
"Go to the lounge..." the ER Director ordered kindly, but in a tone that left no room for argument. Obediently, Esther began to move, only to pause
"Maca?" she asked in concern, Cruz uncertain if the plea-like question was for Maca to be found or to be not told. Seeing the tall pediatrician looking towards them, Cruz decided that Maca not being told was no longer an option - she'd seen Cruz's hand taking Esther's temperature.
"Go to the lounge..." encouraged Cruz, turning Esther in the right direction and starting to guide her towards the door, only to call out, "Rusti? Take Esther to the lounge..." Satisfied that her head nurse was being safely escorted to the lounge, Cruz turned, ready to intercept her fellow doctor.
"Calm down Maca..."
"Is feeling unwell...so I'm going to have a look at her..." No sooner had Cruz said the word 'unwell' and Maca was striding past her, her long legs covering so much ground so quickly that Cruz's only way of checking her rapid progress was to tug hard on Maca's white coat, bringing the pediatrician to an abrupt halt and unfortunately, Cruz belatedly realised, unleashing Maca's bubbling fury, fueled by concern and panic about her lover.
"Cruz..." Maca's voice sounded less like her normal speaking tone and more like the growl of an angry bear.
"Maca, she needs a doctor to look at her, and then she's going home..." declared the ER Director firmly, no longer treating Maca as a medical colleague but instead as the nervous lover of her patient.
"I am a doctor..." protested Maca, making an attempt to continue to the lounge, only to be held firm by Cruz, who was now holding her arm rather than her coat.
"No Maca, you're not..." Cruz paused to breathe at just the wrong moment, because Maca misinterpreted Cruz's remark and thought her boss was about to start the traditional debate that pediatricians could not treat adults properly.
"Cruz, I'm a doctor, just like you..." was as far as Maca got before Cruz cut over her in a tone which had Maca instinctively quiet.
"Yes, but to Esther you're her lover...so, wait outside with Rusti for five minutes while I look at her, and then you can come in and be her lover....let me be her doctor, ok?" It took all of Cruz's professional skill to stop a smile forming on her face as she watched her colleague's expression change from one of anger and fury to calm comprehension to pouting when she realised Cruz wasn't letting her into the lounge yet, to shy acceptance when she understood Cruz's reasoning. Maca examining Esther was hardly going to produce a professional or helpful result, whatever Maca's protestations might have been.
"Ok..." murmured Maca quietly, heading towards the lounge with Cruz and leaning against the wall next to the door, before sliding down it to sit in a heap of legs and arms on the floor as she literally crumpled, her body suddenly exhausted from the strain of trying not to let her brain start presenting an ever increasingly dramatic and ultimately irrational list of illnesses Esther could have based on a fever.
"Maca?" mumbled Esther tiredly, curled up in a heap on the couch, Rusti sitting by her feet.
"Is outside and can come in when I'm done...Rusti?" prompted Cruz, nodding her head towards the door, her instruction clear - go stay with Maca now. It was an instruction he obediently followed.
"Esther...sit up?" asked Cruz kindly, crouching by the couch and running her hand over Esther's neck, feeling the flushed skin and beginning to form her diagnosis. With a groan, Esther finally managed to get her aching body up into a sitting position, but not without plenty of help from Cruz.
"Hurts?" asked Cruz kindly, immediately slipping her hands under Esther's jaw to feel the slightly swollen glands.
"Everywhere..." whined Esther, not making a good patient, and not enjoying how Cruz was hovering in a spinning room.
"Yes..." As Cruz continued with her gentle exam and questions, she quickly built up her diagnosis. Happy that she knew what was ailing her Head Nurse, she helped to prop Esther up in her sitting position by sitting down next to her, before calling out
"Maca?" knowing that Rusti would be listening for the call, which was echoed weakly by Esther.
"Here sweetie..." explained Maca, flying through the door and slipping onto the couch next to Esther on her other side, gladly accepting the weight of her lover as Esther instinctively shuffled away from Cruz and into Maca.
"Hurts..." mumbled Esther, snuggling into her lover, resting her aching head on Maca's shoulder and, as Maca instinctively brought her arms up to hold Esther in a protective embrace against her, Esther felt herself giving in to the urge to fall asleep which, until her lover's arrival, she'd just about managed to resist. Seconds after her last mumbled contribution to their conversation, Esther was snuggled up against Maca and fast asleep, bringing a smile to Cruz's face as she took in the sight of the two lovers together. Just as Esther had forgotten about Cruz when she'd felt Maca's arrival, so too had Maca forgotten about her, being now completely focused on the dozing bundle snuggled in her lap.
"Fever..." muttered Maca quietly to herself as she tenderly ran her fingers over Esther's flushed skin.
"Glands swollen..." she continued, stroking Esther's jaw, making the diagnosis much to Cruz's surprise, only to remind herself that Maca would probably notice even the slightest change in Esther's body far more easily and quickly than Cruz would. Content to wait until Maca remembered her presence, Cruz watched as both lovers found their peace, one by finally giving in to the exhaustion her sickness was causing now that she'd found the comfort of her lover's embrace and the other by having her lover in her embrace.
"Flu?" concluded Maca finally, looking up at Cruz for confirmation.
"Yes...the one everyone's been getting..." agreed Cruz, reminding Maca of the outbreak Madrid had been experiencing for the last couple of weeks. It really wasn't surprising that Esther had finally caught it after days of treating those sick with it.
"But I thought..." began Maca sheepishly, recognising now that Cruz had been correct, and that Maca wouldn't have been able to be Esther's doctor.
"I know...but I'll get Eva to take her home now, and you can look after her..." explained Cruz kindly, getting up and heading out to find Eva and make the arrangements for sending Esther home. She'd have loved to send Maca home with her, but unfortunately, the pediatrician had another couple of hours of shift and, judging by the number of children in the waiting room, the ER Director was going to need her pediatrician for a while yet...
"Esther?" Closing the front door quietly behind her, Maca left her motorcycle helmet and jacket by the door before moving through the apartment to the bedroom. It hadn't been easy, but they'd managed to rouse the sleepy Esther and get her home with Eva's ambulance crew who had later told Maca they'd got Esther to bed, where she'd fallen asleep almost immediately.
"Esther..." murmured Maca affectionately, taking in the sight of her pajama clad lover sprawled face down across their bed, the covers long since kicked away, presumably as her fever made her feel too hot, although the presence of the thick wool blanket from the ambulance on the floor suggested that, when she'd arrived home, Esther had been shivering.
Carefully climbing onto the bed beside Esther, Maca gently coaxed the still sleeping Esther onto her side, before slipping down the bed so that they were lying together. Hardly waking, Esther automatically responded to her lover's presence by snuggling up to Maca but not waking, something which concerned Maca slightly. It was a game they played, on the infrequent occasions when one had got home before the other and was napping on their bed: whoever came home second would greet the other one with kisses, and it was a competition to see who could pretend to stay sleeping the longer...Maca was the undisputed champion, with the doctor being able to lie still until Esther was curled up behind her...Esther on the other hand, was normally awake and laughing by the time Maca had finished the first kiss.....
"Esther, sweetie..." tried Maca again, running her hand through Esther's hair, hoping to rouse her.
"Mmm?" Sleepily, Esther roused herself reluctantly from a dream about Maca...
"Maca?" Confused, Esther blinked hard, trying to force her fuzzy brain to work out what's happening. She was dreaming about Maca lying with her...so she's still dreaming, right?
"I'm really here sweetie..." explained Maca, understanding her lover's confusion and unable to stop smiling with amusement at how adorable her lover is looking, despite the sickness.
"Hurts..." mumbled Esther, trying to reach Maca's lips for a kiss, but finding the effort too much for her head.
"You have flu sweetie..." explained Maca kindly, obliging Esther with the kiss she'd sought by moving her own, much clearer head to Esther's lips, only for Esther to suddenly recoil from the kiss, prompting an anguished
"Owww..." as Esther's head protested to the sudden movement that had helped Esther roll onto her back. Pushing herself up onto her side, Maca looked down at her lover with a mixture of concern and amusement.
"Esther?" she questioned, carding her fingers gently through the sweaty hair, hoping to soothe Esther's headache with her caress.
"I have the flu..."
"You can't kiss me..."
"Why not?" Maca pouted as Esther declared her fate...she liked kissing Esther....
"I have the flu!" protested Esther, thinking her lover was being stupid.
"I know..." agreed Maca, dipping her head down and kissing Esther gently, now understanding Esther's point but disagreeing completely. Seeing Esther's perplexed expression, Maca delivered another tender kiss before explaining
"I'm a pediatrician...I've picked up immunity from all those children..." Whilst not medically proven, it was certainly true that, in all her years of treating sick children, Maca had developed apparent immunity to most of the common germs and viruses since she very rarely got sick herself....
"But..." Esther, despite her fuzzy head, was seeing the weakness in Maca's point - few children seemed to be catching this flu...
"But nothing...if I was going to get this, you'd have given it to me last night..." observed Maca practically, looking knowingly at Esther as she remembered with a shy smile what they'd done last night.
"Yes?" prompted Maca flirtatiously, despite enjoying their time together, knowing that Esther really did need to go back to sleep...
"Yes..." agreed Esther, yawning dramatically as sleep fought to claim her once more.
"Rest sweetie..." coaxed Maca, shuffling down the bed so her head was on the pillows, pulling Esther with her...right now, a good night's sleep with Maca holding her was the best medicine, for both of them....
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