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with a little help (from my friends)

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Morgan nudged Claire, and whispered, “Claire, I think we should exit stage left.”

Claire looked back at Morgan with absolute disgust written all over her face, and said, “No, we’re staying until this is all explained. We should never have done this. We should never have pressured Shaun to do this.”

Lea looked helplessly at Shaun, who was silently rocking back and forth, saying absolutely nothing.

Then he fled back to his room and shut the door once again.

That would be Shaun’s version of a mic drop.

Well, he said his piece, didn’t he? Why talk any more? Lea thought.

Instead, Lea directed a furious glare at Claire and Morgan.

“What the hell made the two of you think that you had any right to do this?” Lea hissed.

“Well, I — ” Morgan started.

“Shaun is — ” Claire began, at the same time.

“I don’t care which one of you tells the story, but somebody better talk!” Lea spat.

Nobody moved or spoke.

“You,” Lea addressed Claire, pointing at her, “You seemed to have a whole lot bottled up to say to me earlier. You explain.”

“Can we all sit down first?” Claire asked. “Then I will explain, Lea.”

“Okay,” Lea relented.

They all found seats in the living room: Lea on the couch, Morgan on a barstool, and Claire on the opposite end of the couch.

Claire began telling the story. “Morgan noticed that Shaun seemed to be unhappy at work lately. She pressed him for details, and, um, Shaun told her that you had a new boyfriend, and he wasn’t doing so hot with adjusting to it. So Morgan came up with this hare-brained plan to make you realise what you were missing out on. And I, uh – encouraged it. And I’m sorry.”

“You were pretending to be involved with Shaun so I would get jealous?” Lea filled in, glaring at Morgan.

Morgan stood up and defiantly spoke back, “I have to work with Shaun, and I need him present on the job, okay?"

“Right,” Lea nodded. “Keep talking.”

“There's a rumour that the new Chief of Surgery has been talking about transferring Shaun’s residency to Pathology – did you know that? And that would be professionally devastating for Shaun. So he has to be one hundred percent right now, Lea, more than ever,” Morgan summarised. "He’s my co-resident, and I can’t have him miserable and mopey. He can’t work properly in that state. Our whole team is already on thin ice due to an investigation into the events of the quarantine.”

“Oh, so this was all about you, was it?” Lea shot back, sarcastically.

“When is it not?” Claire muttered, under her breath.

Lea jerked her head in Claire’s direction and gave her a withering glance. 'I’ll deal with you later', it said.

And patient safety!” Morgan expanded, defensively.

“You know, Morgan, it’s really funny that you’ve involved Shaun in this little game, yet I don’t hear one scrap of concern for his welfare in any of your words. At all.” Lea mused, her voice positively dripping sarcasm. “His job, yes. But Shaun, himself? Nothing.”

“She’s got you pegged, all right,” Claire crowed at Morgan.

Morgan scowled.

“Okay, so you guys thought I’d be jealous if you both pretended to be interested in Shaun,” Lea continued.

Morgan and Claire nodded.

“Right. So, do either of you psychos actually like Shaun, or is he just your little charity case – plaything – whatever?” Lea asked, her voice dangerously matter-of-fact and even.

Channelling Shaun, really, if any of them actually stopped and thought about it.

“I absolutely consider Shaun a good friend, and a remarkable person in general,” Claire affirmed. “But I don’t like him like that.”

“The hell you don’t!” Morgan interrupted rudely.

Claire instantly whirled around to Morgan, probably fast enough to give the average person whiplash.

“Haven’t you done enough damage already?!” Claire flung at her, giving Morgan an extremely nasty look.

“Well, is she right, Claire?” Lea asked, warily.

Claire sighed. “He loves you, Lea.”

“That’s not the question I asked, Claire,” Lea said.

“I know it isn’t,” Claire replied. “Yeah, sure, I’ve been attracted to Shaun. He’s handsome, and intelligent, and he’s very, very honest — ”

Lea snorted. “Preaching to the choir, girl.”

“ — But he’s fallen in love with you, Lea, and I don’t think he’ll stop feeling that way for a long time. Maybe one day, when he’s ready, and he’s had enough of waiting and pining, he might find someone else. But, right now, he is ass-backwards in love with you, and if he stops, that’ll be his own decision. I’m not going to tell him what to do — ”

“ — Which is a first for Claire, let me assure you,” Morgan butted in.

Both Lea and Claire ignored her.

“ — However, I am going to tell you that I think you’re very lucky to have him,” Claire finished, giving Lea an apologetic look.