Smile by MutedTempest
Summary: Feelings develop between two people who never expected them to.
Categories: Three Rivers, Miranda/David Characters: Andy Yablonski, David Lee, Miranda Foster
Genres: drama, friendship, romance
Spoilers up through: 3R Season 1
Warnings: angst
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: No Word count: 7047 Read: 15133 Published: November 25, 2009 Updated: May 06, 2010
Story Notes:
Disclaimer: CBS owns the show and the characters/settings, I just borrow them and try to make them cute. No copyright infringement intended.

This is for DD as they all are, because she asked me to and pouted at me and encouraged me in her sleep. lol

1. Seedlings by MutedTempest

2. An Ordinary Tuesday Afternoon by MutedTempest

3. Something To Look Foward To by MutedTempest

4. Waiting by MutedTempest

Seedlings by MutedTempest
“Chicago?” Miranda asked, hoping her voice wouldn’t fall on saying it like her heart had when she’d heard the news. Not that she was clear on why it had done so to begin with, but she didn’t want him to hear it.

David shrugged. “My residency’s almost up,” he said by way of explanation, trying not to get his hopes up when he saw what looked like a tinge of sadness in her eyes before she looked away from him and back at the computer screen. “It’s a good offer.”

“I thought you got an offer here,” Miranda countered, staring at the screen but not really focusing on it like she probably should have been.

“Yeah, but this one is higher pay and I’d be working mostly on my own,” he replied, and could have sworn he saw her face fall in the reflection from the screen. “Not that I don’t like working with you…”

“No, I understand,” Miranda said, because she did. David’s role at Three Rivers had been to learn, and no matter how good a surgeon he’d turned into he would probably always be looked upon in that light. Especially with Andy around. While they all got along reasonably well, the transition from being a resident to a full fledged surgeon was frustrating, especially when you stayed at the same hospital. It was why she’d come back here from Philly, after all.

David didn’t press the issue, and Miranda didn’t say anything more. She just got up from the computer and tried to make herself look busy. She didn’t know exactly what was going on with her today, but she knew she couldn’t be around him right now. It was too hard. So she walked off toward one of her patients’ rooms with no real reason for going there in the first place.

David watched her go and sighed. From the look and sound of things, she was upset that he was thinking of leaving. It came as something of a shock. They got along really well, but she’d never seemed too receptive to his advances and he’d slowly come to terms with the fact that they’d never be more than good friends. The reaction she’d given to his news wasn’t the reaction a friend would have given, though, and he was a little confused by the whole thing. Still, he knew it wouldn’t do him any good to approach Miranda about it, so he shook his head slightly when she turned the corner and went about his own business.

Miranda did the same, or at least tried to look like she was. “Hi Mr. Carther, how are you feeling today?” she asked with artificial brightness as she entered the patient’s room. This guy was in his mid forties and had been admitted with chest pain, although they were still running tests on him and hadn’t figured out the exact cause as yet. He seemed pretty stable at the moment, but she figured it couldn’t hurt to check in with him anyway. It would keep her from being around or thinking about David, and right now that was the only thing she really needed.

“I’m all right,” he replied, although he didn’t exactly sound it. His breath was coming in short wheezes and gasps, and Miranda frowned in concern and took out her stethoscope.

“Sounds like you’re having some trouble,” she told him, hoping he’d fill her in on what he was feeling. He seemed pretty reserved and from what she’d been able to gather he hadn’t been all that forthcoming with the nurses when he was brought in, but she held out some hope that if he was feeling bad enough he might speak up.

No such luck. He simply nodded and tried to lie back as much as he could so she could get a good sound on the scope. What she heard in those few seconds worried her. It sounded like something was blocking the man’s breathing, and she didn’t like not knowing what exactly that was. “We’re gonna need to run some more tests,” she told him as she stepped back and put her scope away. “We need to figure out what’s causing the wheezing sounds along with the pain.”

Carther just nodded slightly and seemed a bit bored by the information, but Miranda had stopped caring. She just left the room and went to find Andy, hoping he might be able to help. When she’d finally located him and told him the situation, he ran through a list of things it could be and told her what tests to order, and to notify him when she knew the results. She was about to walk away and head back to doing rounds when he cleared his throat. “Did you hear about the offer David got in Chicago?”

It stopped her in her tracks, and she hated the fact that she was being so obvious about it bothering her. “Yeah,” was all she said. Andy didn’t pry, just gave her a wry sort of smirk in acknowledgment and walked away, presumably up to one of the surgeries he had scheduled for the day. She had one at three herself but had about an hour to kill before then, so she figured she’d just keep doing rounds to avoid David and the conversation she knew was coming at some point.

As she went from room to room checking on everyone and making sure things were as they should be, she tried to figure out what was going on in her head. She and David were friends and colleagues and often spent time together after work, but that was no reason for her to be upset that he was thinking of taking what would undoubtedly be a better job for his career development. In fact, her reaction was a contradiction to that, and she was hard put to try to figure out why she’d reacted the way she did.

It didn’t come to her immediately, but somewhere during the course of walking all over the hospital she found herself thinking of all the sweet little looks David would always shoot her when he thought she wasn’t looking, and even sometimes when she was. His reputation around the hospital had preceded him when they’d met, and she’d been under the impression that his flirting with her since that day had just been part of his routine to get with every woman he possibly could at Three Rivers.

But the looks…he didn’t look like that when he talked to or about any of the nurses he’d seen, even when he went on a second or even third date with some of them. His eyes never got soft when they were mentioned, and he never smiled as if involuntarily when he talked about them. But he did both when he talked to her, and the way he looked at her sometimes made her wonder if it was really just routine after all. She’d never given any thought to the notion that he might actually care for her, mostly because she wasn’t sure she could handle it if she allowed herself to fall for him and he wound up not caring about her as more than a conquest after all.

Given her romantic history and the way things had turned out in that regard in the past, she’d been far more comfortable keeping him at a distance and being his friend. She hadn’t entertained the thought that he could be interested in order to spare her heart. If she never thought about it, she wouldn’t think of him in that way, and she wouldn’t get hurt.

As she was finishing her rounds and checking the computer one last time before heading up to do her surgery, she ran into David, who came to check on some potential donor stats at the same time. When their eyes met and she saw him smile, she had to look away to keep from blushing, and knew she was in serious trouble.
An Ordinary Tuesday Afternoon by MutedTempest
Author's Notes:
This one is kinda boring, and I apologize. I just needed to set a few things up.
“This has gotta be the worst day ever,” David muttered, half to himself and half to Ryan as they sat behind the computer terminal looking for matches. “Nothing is even coming close.”

Ryan shrugged. “Well, he was just listed this morning,” he said in reference to David’s patient. He wanted to say something else, something encouraging, but he couldn’t come up with anything. He’d been searching all day and so far the most promising thing he’d been able to find had been a 20% match in Scranton, which belonged to an old man with a history of alcoholism. He doubted the liver was even viable anymore, and when he’d called to inquire the transplant coordinator there had laughed and told him he might as well keep looking anyway.

“Kid’s only nineteen,” David said, and this time it was obviously to himself. Ryan didn’t say anything, just kept plugging search terms into the system without too much hope.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said finally, noticing that David seemed to be staring off into the distance without really looking at anything in particular. He hadn’t been his usual sarcastic self for the past few days, and he looked completely exhausted. Ryan guessed the job offer in Chicago was weighing on him, and this patient getting thrown into the mix wasn’t helping matters.

“That’s sort of my job,” David replied suddenly, and when Ryan looked at him he was looking back and smirking as usual, seeming to have broken through the brooding for the moment.

“I just meant don’t stress yourself out about it if you can help it. I’ve got everything open and I’m glued to this desk until I hear something,” Ryan told him, but David had already started to walk away again. Ryan considered gong after him and asking if he’d be all right, then decided that would probably be one of the dumbest things he could possibly do. He sat back and stared at the computer screen, hoping something would come up soon.

David, meanwhile, was heading back to his patient’s room to at least inform the kid that he’d been listed. He was asleep, though, and David didn’t have the heart to wake him. He had to be feeling like crap and he needed his rest, so David just turned in the other direction with no real destination in mind.

It had been a couple days since he’d gotten the offer in Chicago, and mulling it over wasn’t quite as joyful or exciting as he’d thought it would be. He was honored to have received it and honestly felt that he was pretty undeserving given the fact that his residency wasn’t even officially finished yet, but it just didn’t make him feel like he’d expected it would when he’d dreamed about it during med school and most of his life in general. It was nice, but it wasn’t something that really did a lot for him beyond that.

It made him a little angry when he thought about it. The job was everything he’d been searching for, and would be very prestigious as well as a huge career boon for him. But it wasn’t Three Rivers, and as much as he tried to downplay his emotional attachment to the place, he really did love it. The thought of waking up every day in Chicago just didn’t appeal to him nearly as much as staying in Pittsburgh did, and it was something he could scarcely believe himself.

Not that it was too hard to figure out why. The reason for his attachment to the transplant wing worked beside him every day. There was no use in trying to deny it to himself any longer; Miranda was the reason Chicago looked so bleak from here.

He hated himself for it a little. When he’d gone to medical school he’s sworn that he’d never let a woman determine his future again. He was going to make his own way and his own decisions based on what was right for his life, not what was right for a woman he’d fallen for. That had been one of the many reasons he and his father hadn’t gotten along very well in recent years. It had gotten better since med school had ended, but there had been more than a few times that he’d tried to rearrange his future to make a girl happy rather than doing what he needed to do for himself. It was why he didn’t even get close to relationships anymore. He took them far too seriously and he knew it, so it seemed smarter to focus on his work and have a few flings a week rather than to actually let feelings develop.

And now he’d gone and fallen for someone he knew he could probably never have, completely against his own wishes. He’d just been offered an incredible position at a great hospital where he could really make a difference, something he was very keen on, and he wasn’t happy because it meant he’d have to leave Miranda behind. It made him feel a little crazy. He tried not to show how smitten he was, at least not obviously, and had been doing all right from what he could see. She’d certainly never noticed, anyway. She seemed to take his flirting in stride, and he did try to pass it off as a joke, so he knew he couldn’t blame her. But it was still tough to keep getting rejected time and again, even if he knew she had no idea he was serious with it.

He didn’t even think he was ready to settle down. He knew she wasn’t, either, and it just made it tougher to come to grips with the way he was feeling about her. Had felt all along, really, and had just never admitted to himself. There was no sense in denying it now, though. Every time he saw her he felt lighter than air, and he knew it wasn’t a good thing.

He’d always been attracted to the feisty ones, and he couldn’t think of anyone who fit that description better than Miranda Foster. He’d been smitten from the day they first met, when he looked back on it now. She’d just come back from med school and her residency in Philly when he’d gotten hired on, and at first she hadn’t seemed all that happy to be at Three Rivers. Having learned about her relationship with her father, though, he could easily understand that now. Sometimes he wondered why she stayed, since she’d always be in her father’s shadow as long as she stayed here. He thought he saw some defiance in her decision to stay on, as if she were planning to make a name for herself despite her father’s obvious influence rather than because of it. He really liked that about her, although he knew it could make for some big fights and problems if they ever did wind up together.

He shook his head as he walked through the hospital. It was ridiculous to even give that notion any consideration. She wasn’t interested in him, and she had no reason to be. He knew he was seen as the womanizer and playboy of the hospital, and he’d done that on purpose, so he had no right to feel sad that the one person he was actually interested in wouldn’t give him the time of day romantically.

“You okay?” he heard an all too familiar voice inquire to his left. “You look sorta lost in the clouds today.” It wasn’t Miranda, unfortunately, and he was in no real mood to make small talk with Andy. Sure, they’d joked around over donuts at the department meeting that morning, but that was just part of the routine. He’d been focusing mostly on Miranda anyway. “I heard about the kid,” Andy continued, looking at him compassionately. It was a really tough case and he hoped it wasn’t more than David could handle, especially with the other stress in his life right now.

“Yeah, I’m good,” David replied finally, knowing that Andy would just stay on him about it until he made some sort of response. Not that he was a bad guy; David just really didn’t feel like having a male bonding experience with him at the moment. He could feel Andy looking at him, but he didn’t say anything.

“Oh, I wanted to let you know that I’ve sent a letter of recommendation to Chicago and Dr. Jordan’s working on one too,” Andy told him as they continued walking. “I’m not trying to sway you one way or the other, I just wanted you to know. If you’re considering any other offers, let me know and I’ll write you a recommendation as soon as I can.”

David thanked him, but his heart wasn’t really in it. It seemed like everyone at Three Rivers had already made their peace with him taking the job in Chicago, and it wasn’t like he could really blame them when he looked at the offer in his head. He’d be a fool not to take it, and he knew it.

That didn’t change the fact that the second he saw Miranda coming down the hall toward him, Three Rivers was really the only place he wanted to give any thought to staying. She smiled when she saw him, and he thought she looked a little…not nervous, exactly, but a bit out of sorts. But he was pretty sure it wasn’t because of him.

They said hello and joked around like they usually did, and she told him she’d heard about the patient that had just been listed. It was the first case he’d had where he was actually in charge for the most part, and he was worried. He figured that was obvious from the way Ryan and Andy had acted toward him earlier, and the way Miranda was acting now. She wasn’t being much different from her normal self, but her tone was a little warmer than it would have been on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon and while he knew it was pointless, he couldn’t help hoping that she might care for him a little bit after all. He berated himself silently for the thought and tried to focus on work rather than on the new scent Miranda seemed to be wearing that day.

“We can always get a drink later if you want to talk about it,” Miranda said, pulling him out of his thoughts. It was pretty plausible that she’d been talking long before that, but nothing had registered up to that moment and he figured he could wing it enough to fake it.

“A drink sounds really good,” he said, trying to keep the hope out of his voice. The last time they’d gotten a drink together after work had been more than he could have expected. They’d gotten to know each other as people and he was happy to learn that he really enjoyed spending time with her as friends. He was just ready to move past that if there was any chance at all. “But I was thinking we might get some food along with it.”

“The bar has pretty good bleu cheese burgers,” Miranda said with a shrug. She wasn’t much into food, and nowhere near David’s level, but she did like the bar burgers and thought they were good enough that he might like them too.

“Yeah, they do,” he agreed, smiling at learning this new bit of information. He didn’t think he could consider being with a woman who didn’t like a decent bleu cheese burger and beer after work. “I’ve been craving some Mike’s lately though. They have a Philly Cheesesteak with grilled red pepper that’s out of this world.” he paused and looked at her, hoping he hadn’t overstepped his bounds. They’d spoken the last time they’d gone for a drink about some of her family history and how she felt about Philly, but he knew she loved the food. “I mean, it’s not completely authentic or anything…”

“No, Mike’s is great,” she replied, a little surprised that he’d remembered how much she loved Philly cheesesteaks. “I haven’t been in years. I thought they closed down?”

“They did, but one of his sons took it over and reopened right after I moved here. I don’t go very often but it’s been in the back of my mind lately. Thought you might appreciate it more than other people I’d go with.” He didn’t elaborate on that but it was pretty clear he meant some of the nurses, and Miranda felt herself blushing a little at what that might mean. She hated herself for it, but it was there anyway. She tried not to get too excited; he was obviously stressed and probably just needed a friend to talk to, but she couldn’t help hoping that it might be a date anyway.

He watched the play of emotions on her face and felt simultaneously awful and elated. “I’m off at seven,” he told her softly. She nodded and said she had an hour’s break then. An hour might be pushing it, but he decided he needed to say it anyway. It was long overdue and he was going to go crazy if he didn’t. “I think we need to talk about a few things.”

“Yeah, we do,” she said, and from the way she looked at him he knew he wouldn’t have to waste any time on explanations. She already knew.
Something To Look Foward To by MutedTempest
Author's Notes:
This one is kinda cutesy and boring, but i didn't want to put too much into one chapter so I figured a short sappy one wouldn't hurt anything.

This one is for weasley74 for being supportive and awesome.
For one of the first times in his life, David had no idea what to say. Well, he supposed that wasn’t entirely accurate; he did know, he just had no idea how to actually go about saying it. He and Miranda had sat at one of the back booths at Mike’s and looked over the menus for about five minutes before both deciding on a classic Philly cheese steak and Coke, and he’d gone up to the counter to place their order. Now that he’d returned to the table, conversation had waned and he felt a little awkward.

The place was usually swarming with people, but tonight it was fairly quiet, at least for Mike’s. It was a pretty popular little restaurant, at least the times he’d been in here since his arrival, and he was a little surprised that it seemed so empty tonight. There were still some people at various tables and a few at the counter, but he and Miranda were pretty secluded back in their little corner.

“It’s gotta be because a lot of people don't know they reopened,” Miranda said after a minute or so, following his gaze around the restaurant. “I came here with my dad quite a bit when I visited and it was always packed.”

David glanced at her, unsure of what to say to this revelation. Calling Miranda quiet about her past would have been an understatement. However, he was saved by one of the staff bringing their order to the table and telling them that if there was anything else they needed, to just give a yell. They thanked him and looked in surprise at the size of their orders.

“This might be normal for you, but I usually don’t eat this much in three meals,” Miranda joked, staring at the small mountain of fries between them in disbelief. “I didn’t think we were getting fries?”

David shrugged. “I didn’t order them,” he said, shooting a glance toward the counter, where the staff member who’d brought them their food just gave him a dismissive wave. “Guess they come with the meal.”

“Well, you can take a doggy bag home. There’s no way I can eat all this,” Miranda said with a tiny giggle that he found extremely adorable.

“You can always take some back with you,” he said, worrying again about how she ran herself ragged at work and never seemed to take her breaks like she should. “Put it in the fridge in the lounge and have some later tonight.”

“Nah, that stuff’s too heavy while I’m working. I shouldn’t even be having any now, it’ll just make me sleepy when I go back.” She caught David’s concerned expression and smiled. “Don’t worry, I’m just on rounds tonight and I’m off at ten anyway.”

There was silence for a few minutes after that as they both focused on their rather large and quite tasty food, which was better than either of them remembered it being. After a while though, David knew he needed to get it over with. He set his cheese steak down and simply said “I’ve had feelings for you for awhile now.”

It didn’t seem to catch her off guard as much as he’d expected it to. She seemed to take it rather well, really, simply nodding as she processed the information and then setting her food down as well. She looked at the cheese steak rather than at him as she replied, though, and he thought he saw a bit of a blush as she said that she’d felt the same. They both felt the need to qualify their statements but neither really knew how.

“I’m not good at relationships,” David said finally after searching for the right words and failing to find them. “I didn’t want to tell you because of that.”

“So you just flirted like you do with everyone else?” Miranda asked, but she didn’t seem upset. More understanding than anything else. “I’m not good at them either.” She’d have gone further into it, but he’d already started talking.

“I was thinking about taking the job in Chicago,” he said softly, more to judge her reaction than anything else. He’d really been giving it a lot of thought, and if she didn’t have any interest in him staying in Pittsburgh, he saw no reason to hurt his career. He wanted her to want him here, but if she didn’t, he was going to have to call it a loss and try to move on. But he was hoping.

She finally looked at him, and he thought he saw traces of tears in her eyes as she took his hand. “You should go. I mean that. It’s an amazing opportunity.” As soon as she said it, he realized that she did want him to stay, but she wanted him to be happy and have a good job more than she cared about herself. It made him love her more, but before he could say anything to that effect she’d stood up.

“I should get back, I start again in ten,” she said by way of explanation. “Thanks for dinner, it was great. We’ll talk soon, I promise.”

She’d walked out before he could reply, and the quickness of her speech let him know that she was upset. He hated having made her feel that way, but he was elated at the same time and planned to be outside the hospital to meet her that night so they could finish their talk.

As he sat there, though, he knew he wasn’t going to be content to leave things for another couple of hours. They needed to talk a lot more extensively, but what they’d just admitted to one another was huge in his mind and he was afraid that if Miranda gave it too much thought between now and the time her shift ended, she might decide that the whole thing was a bad idea and tell him that she couldn’t be with him and didn’t like him that way after all.

He knew it was foolish and exactly what he’d been trying to avoid with all the flings, but he knew he had to go after her. Now. He left all the food on the table and left Mike’s at a brisk walk that turned into a run when he saw Miranda a few hundred feet ahead, her head down and making her way quickly back to the hospital. He didn’t call her name, just ran until he caught up with her and barely avoided a punch to the jaw when he touched her shoulder and she turned on him in what looked like a mixture of fear and rage.

“It’s just me!” he said, still ducking a little to avoid the blow that he was pretty sure still stood a good chance of coming even after she recognized him.

“I really have to get back…” she started, but trailed off and fixed her eyes somewhere over his shoulder. He thought he could hear traces of crying in her voice and it made him feel like the biggest jerk on earth for doing this to her. But it wasn’t like he could take it back, and he couldn’t let himself stop now.

“I don’t want to leave,” he confessed, looking at the ground as he spoke. He felt her eyes on him but couldn’t bring himself to meet them. “I really like you and I don’t want to go if there might be a chance.”

“David, I don’t know,” she started, but he shook his head. He knew what she was going to say, and he didn’t want to hear it at the moment because it wasn’t true, and she would only try to convince herself that it was.

“I don’t know either, I just know I can’t go if I feel like this. And I think you feel something too.”

She didn’t answer for awhile, and her silence was more than enough affirmation for him. “I really do need to get back,” she said finally, and he nodded.

“I’ll be outside at ten,” he said hesitantly, elated when she grinned. “I should probably go back and get whatever food hasn’t been thrown away.”

“Yeah, I’ll probably be hungry by then. Bring me some fries,” she said, and things felt normal for both of them again. But with a little something to look forward to added on.
Waiting by MutedTempest
Author's Notes:
DD's been asking me to update this for a long time now. Sorry it was such a long wait! Not sure where I'm going with the story but I do plan to continue.
The table had already been cleared and wiped down when he got back. A little disappointed since there’d been quite a bit of food left, David slumped his shoulders and sat back down in the booth. He’d only been there a few minutes when the waiter came over, apologizing about taking the food and offering him a replacement order. David immediately filed this information in the back of his mind, since in his pretty lengthy history of food and restaurant experiences such a thing was practically unheard of.

“That’d be great, thanks. I’m actually gonna wait here awhile if that’s all right…” he told the waiter, looking around a little doubtfully as the line at the counter kept growing.

“No problem, this crowd will probably be take-out orders anyway. Just let me know when you want me to get started on your stuff, okay?” the waiter answered cheerfully, heading back to the front of the restaurant before David could come up with a suitable reply. He sat back in the booth and tried to relax a little, although his heart was still racing from the discussion he’d just had as much as the jog.


Miranda wasn’t able to keep her mind on much of anything, which was one of the reasons she was happy to be on rounds rather than something more intensive. Not that she was completely lost in her thoughts, of course. She was able to hold conversations with all the patients, aside from the ones who were already asleep, and her checks found nothing amiss with any of them. Some were in pretty bad shape and she felt incredibly sad for them as she always did, but the conversation with David was at the forefront of her mind. At least for tonight.

She couldn’t help feeling a little guilty in being grateful for that, but she did all the same. It felt somehow wrong to be glad to focus on her own life for once, no matter how messed up that was, than to feel her heart breaking at what felt like every other room. Not that the talk with David could completely take away her empathy for her patients or the sadness she always felt when she knew the situation was nearly hopeless, but it did help her not to focus on it so much. Which she considered a good thing.

Finally stopping to take her long overdue evening break, she sat at one of the tables in the lounge with her head resting on one hand, the other playing with her nametag. She noticed that she really needed to update the picture on that thing; she hadn’t worn her hair like that for years, and it made her look a lot younger than she felt she should.

“I’m trying to be a respectable adult here,” she muttered aloud to the image on the nametag before she could stop herself, then shook her head in dismay and sighed. She had no idea whether it was her recent lack of sleep, the stress from the job or tonight’s conversation with David, but she hadn’t felt this much like a teenager even when she’d been one.

She knew she’d handled things badly. She probably would have even if she’d been well-rested, though. Romantic conversations and feelings in general weren’t something she excelled at, and she’d considered herself lucky that nothing like that had come up for a long time now. She’d known she’d have to discuss it with David for some time, but his taking the lead in the discussion had been a relief. She’d been somewhat surprised by his honesty and how open he was about his feelings, and while she’d told him she’d felt the same, she hadn’t really elaborated. She’d honestly had no idea how to do so, and was immensely grateful that she’d needed to come back to work. She did feel awful for running out on him the way she had, but that much emotion hitting her at once hadn’t been something she’d expected and she’d had no idea how to react.

She still didn’t, but she knew she was going to have to come up with some way to talk about it. He was coming back before too long, and when he did, she was going to have to tell him something. No matter how vulnerable it made her feel, or how much it would break her to realize that although she cared for him a great deal, he was going to take the job and leave her anyway.

There was no reason for him not to. It had been the same with her father; while she knew and had always known that he loved her mother, Miranda had realized early on that his job would always come first. She couldn’t even blame him for it, really. He’d sacrificed so much of his life training for it and then dedicating himself to it that it was no real wonder he’d placed it before his wife and child in many ways.

Not that she didn’t resent him for it, and for the affair that still upset her if she let it into her mind in any way. But she could understand it, and that was the point. She could never ask David to stay for her. Even if they’d been a couple, and they weren’t. She couldn’t allow herself to be the reason he put his career in jeopardy, no matter how deeply she felt for him.

She had to really think about that, too. She’d been avoiding it for so long now that it was hard to judge just how she felt about him. At first it had been no more than a passing crush, but as their days working together had become more familiar and more welcome, she’d noticed an intensification of her feelings. Which was no surprise; she’d studied enough psychology to realize that the very nearness of him was probably the reason her feelings had continued to develop. She didn’t think that made them any less real, though. If anything, it probably made them more valid. But she couldn’t let that familiarity and feeling of safety influence her, especially not now.

She knew it was futile to think about it, but as she sat in that chilly lounge by herself she couldn’t help wondering how things might have been if she’d admitted her feelings earlier rather than dismissing them as something unsubstantial. She was lonely, and had been for a long time. The guys she’d seen for a date or two had never really gotten close enough to make her feel anything real, and David had done that from the very start. She’d heard about things like that, but had never thought they were anything more than romantic passing fancies brought on by too many romance novels and movies. She’d brushed it off, and now she wondered where things might have been if she hadn’t.

A passing nurse made her shake her head and get up from the table. She still didn’t know what she’d say to David when he got there, but there was no point staring at the table thinking about it. With an exasperated sigh, she adjusted her nametag and went back to her rounds.


David was there at 9:50, a white bag with a fresh cheesesteak and fries in his hand when Miranda walked out of Three Rivers. “They remade the order for me,” he told her upon seeing her surprised expression when she opened the bag and steam hit her face. “Hope you’re hungry.”

She graced him with one of her rare smiles, and he felt ridiculous at the way his heart leapt at the sight. But as they started walking and she began to tell him very matter-of-factly about the thoughts she’d had sitting in the lounge, his heart seemed to crash back down to earth again. She was talking fast while looking at the ground, seeming determined to get everything out. He decided to let her finish, and when she had, he sighed and stopped walking.

“You make good points,” he started, and held up his hand when she tried to interrupt. “But I think you should consider how I feel.”

Miranda glanced at him and looked away again quickly. “You’ll be gone less than a month before it stops mattering,” she said. The words made him sad, but her tone even moreso. She wasn’t bitter or angry, just sad.

“I don’t really think you can say that with any authority,” he replied. The usual joking between them was gone, and he was completely serious. She’d hurt him, and it was evident in his voice.

“That’s how life is,” she said with a resolute shrug. “People move, and they move on. It’s how it has to be.” She started walking again, more to distance herself from the conversation than from him, but he still had to jog a few feet to keep up.

“It’s my life, and my career. I’d like to think that I have at least some say in the matter.”

“Obviously, but you need to make the decision for your career, not for me,” Miranda said firmly.

“I can set my own priorities,” he shot back stubbornly. “We haven’t even given it a chance, why are you so sure it would fail?”

She sighed. “I can’t be sure of that, but you can’t be sure it’ll work, either. It’s stupid to throw away an opportunity like this for a relationship that could implode in a day.”

“I could hate the job,” he countered. “I love Three Rivers. I’m comfortable here and I can advance. Maybe not as fast as in Chicago, but the possibility is there. And you’re here…” he saw Miranda shaking her head slowly and took her hand. “Please don’t sabotage it. If you really don’t want to try, we won’t.”

“It has nothing to do with what I want,” she said, getting a little annoyed at his lack of understanding. “I just DON’T want you to sacrifice your career for something that may or may not work.”

“I’m not sacrificing my career. If I’m good, I’ll get more offers. And it should be my choice where I work and where I live.”

The conversation ended when Miranda realized they were very close to her building. She turned to look at David, confused as to what to do. He didn’t look any more confident, though. Still, she decided not to analyze it when he leaned in to kiss her, deciding to just let things play out as they would.
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