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this freeze-frame moment can't be wrong

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“These are good, Dr. Qadri.”

The praise perked Dahlia up slightly, her shoulders straightening, chin lifting a little. A smile flickered over her face, lighting it up for a brief moment before exhaustion slumped everything forward again. “Thank you, Chief.”

“These are very good. These,” Bailey fanned the pictures out, waving them twice, “do our hospital justice. They capture the essence of what it means to work at Grey-Sloan Memorial.”

Thank you, Chief,” Dahlia repeated, smile genuine this time, blossoming over her face. Her chest warmed at the praise. “You know, I’ve actually won a few photography contests. The last one was before med school, but… Today made me realize how much I missed it. Submitting my work. And it made me expand my horizons as a photographer.”

Realizing she probably should have stopped talking several words ago, Dahlia shut her mouth. For once, though, Bailey didn’t rebuff the information about her personal life. Instead, she nodded slightly.

“Sometimes, it’s good to rediscover things you forgot you were passionate about.” She set the photos down. Dahlia’s eyes followed them. “The presentation is next week. Would you like to come?”

Startled, Dahlia’s mouth fell open. “I--Really?” It wasn’t a gastric bypass, but it felt pretty good. Bailey being willing to spend time with an intern outside of the hospital was… Well, the only other intern that had happened to was Levi.

“Sure. You’re young, and smart, you’re becoming a respectable surgeon. The kids might have some questions about being an intern, and who better to answer them?”

“Dr. Bailey, I would be honored.”

Bailey smiled, that smug smile that Dahlia was starting to realize was really a front for a woman who understood more than she let on. “I thought you might.”

Dahlia stood when Bailey didn’t say anything else, understanding herself to be dismissed. When she was almost to the door, however, Bailey said her name again.

“Yes, Chief?”

“I had to push my gastric bypass to tomorrow morning. How would you feel about scrubbing in? I can’t let you do anything important, but you can watch. Maybe close.”

Dahlia turned around, eyes wide, beaming. “Dr. Bailey, that would be amazing.”

“Yeah, yeah.” The corners of Bailey’s mouth twitched. “Now go on, go brag to your all your, your little friends. And remind Helm she’s supposed to be there too.”

“Yes, Dr. Bailey. I mean, I will, Dr. Bailey. I mean--Thank you.”

“Doctor Qadri?”

“Yes, Chief?”

“Get out of my office.”

“Yes, Chief.” Dahlia stepped out of the room and shut the door. She glanced around, making sure the hallway was clear, and then fist-pumped. “Yes!

“I can hear you!” Bailey yelled. Dahlia jumped, cleared her throat, and proceeded to walk away with as much composure as she could.

At least until she was far enough away from the Chief’s office that she could do it again without being heard.

 

By the time Dahlia reached Joe’s, everyone else was already there, crammed into a booth in the back. Taryn got up so that she could scoot in, settle in the corner. Opening her satchel, Dahlia pulled out the folder of the pictures that she’d kept.

“Taryn, the Chief wanted me to remind you about the gastric bypass we’re going tomorrow,” she said, casually opening the folder. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Levi’s mouth drop open, Casey’s eyes narrow. Affection washed over her, and she picked up the photo of Levi and Nico from that morning.

“For you,” she said, handing it to Levi where he was sitting across from her. He took it, forehead crumpled in confusion. Once he looked at the picture, however, his expression smoothed, went almost awed.

“Oh, wow,” he murmured. “Thank you.”

“I can make you a frame for it, if you want,” Dahlia offered. Levi nodded without looking up, his fingers tracing over Nico’s form lightly.

Casey sat forward a little when Dahlia reached for the next picture, a side profile of him and Dr. Pierce working side-by-side in deep concentration. Casey took it from her, looked up at Dahlia from under his brows, quirked one.

Dahlia shrugged. “It was the most Casey shot I took,” she explained. Levi tore his eyes away from the picture in his own hands to peer over Casey’s shoulder, but Casey put his photo face down on the table before he could see it.

“What, are you naked or something?” Taryn asked, trying to grab it.

“No,” Casey pulled his bag out from under the table to put the picture away. Taryn snorted.

“Right,” she said, turning to Dahlia. “My turn?”

Corners of her mouth twitching downward, Dahlia handed Taryn the last picture, one of her sitting next to her patient and holding her hand, watching Dr. Deluca perform an ultrasound on a hugely pregnant stomach while Dr. Grey was looking at a chart.

Taryn stared down at the picture for a long few seconds, her eyes suspiciously misty when she looked back up. “Did I tell you it was a boy?”

Dahlia put her hand on Taryn’s shoulder softly, slid it down to rub her back. “We’ll talk later,” she promised.

“I was told this was the place to be,” a voice interrupted, and Dahlia found herself looking up and into the deep brown eyes of the guy she’d been thinking about for months.

“Dean,” she said, blinking up at him. “What are you doing here?”

“This guy invited me.” His thumb jerked towards Levi, who shrugged, gave her a sheepish wave. Casey smirked next to him in response to Dahlia’s glare.

Dean pulled up a chair from a nearby table, but wouldn’t sit, looking between the four of them. “Is that okay?”

“Yes!” Dahlia blurted, shaking her head. “Of course! It’s good to see you.” Hoping her smile was more soft than exhausted, Dahlia looked up at him. “Sit down, please.”

“I think I’m gonna get you a drink, first,” Dean said, after a moment’s more hesitation. “Shirley Temple?”

“Sounds great.” Dahlia watched him go, turned back to her friends. At least they waited until he was out of earshot to start snickering. After a few seconds of that, though, it tapered off. Casey cleared his throat, and Taryn nodded.

“Right. We should go.”

“What?” Dahlia’s eyes widened. “No, no, you can’t go.”

“Relax. He’s into you, and you’re a smart, hot lady surgeon. You’ve got this.” Taryn slid out of the booth, and Casey and Levi stood as well, photos tucked safely away in their bags. “Besides, we have to get Levi back to his boyfriend.”

“He is probably missing me,” Levi was just tispy enough to agree.  

They were long gone by the time Dean came back, despite Dahlia’s protests.

“Subtle,” he said with a grin, setting her drink down in front of her. Dahlia flushed, shook her head slightly.

“They mean well.”

“Meddling friends always do.” Dean sighed. “Can’t say I mind being alone with you.” He put the chair back, took the other side of the booth instead.

The heat from her cheeks traveled down to spark an ember in her chest, and the corners of Dahlia’s mouth curled up.

“No, me either.”

It was kind of the perfect end to the day.