“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.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This one is kinda boring, and I apologize. I just needed to set a few things up.
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