Chapter 1: a rough-cut tuesday
Dr. Bailey has a task for Dahlia Qadri.
“Dr. Qadri, may I speak with you a moment?”
The interns had fallen silent at Miranda Bailey’s approach. As recent as two days ago, she had been reinstated as Chief, and it did her ego good to know the respect had been reinstated as well. Or maybe they just hadn’t wanted her to overhear what they were talking about. Miranda was going to believe the former--for her ego’s sake.
“Of course, Chief,” Qadri said, pushing her chair back from the table and standing. She exchanged a glance with Helm, sitting to her right, then Schmitt next to her. Schmitt’s eyes darted towards Bailey and his eyebrows went up and together, grimacing.
Lord help the boy, he still needed to work on that subtlety.
Qadri followed her a few feet away, where Miranda suddenly found herself unsure how to start. Damn it, why did so many of these damn people have to be so much taller than her? She drew herself up a little.
“Dr. Qadri,” she said, putting a bounce in her voice. “I understand that you...take pictures.”
It took a second for Qadri to pull herself out of whatever fear had her standing there like a baby deer in headlights. Good fear, in Miranda’s opinion. Fear she would nurture.
“Oh!” Qadri chirped, face brightening. “Yes, Dr. Bailey, one of my hobbies is photography.”
“Excellent.” Miranda clapped her hands together, once, curled her fingers around her palms. “I want you to take some.”
Confusion again. Qadri managed to school her features quickly, though. Miranda made note of that for later, too. “Some...pictures, Dr. Bailey?”
“Yes, some pictures. Of the hospital. Of people working in the hospital. It’s for a P.R. stunt,” Miranda explained.
“Oh, well, people aren’t usually my subjects. I tend to take pictures of things, you know, that kind of stick out or are random…”
“Well, plenty of people in this hospital stick out or are random. Just look at Schmitt, over there. He does both.” Miranda glanced towards the table, and her expression absolutely did not soften. Gaze snapping back to Qadri’s, she smiled at her. The smile of a woman who was in charge and liked it. “Bring your camera tomorrow. I’ll put you on my service.”
Qadri’s mouth opened, like she was going to maybe protest, but Miranda’s look stopped her. Smug, she walked away.
Dahlia returned to the table and her friends, slumping down in her chair with a stunned expression.
“So...what did she want?” Taryn took a sip of her sparkling water as she waited for Dahlia to answer.
“She wants me to take pictures.”
Silence fell over the table again. Finally, Levi spoke.
The next morning, Dahlia knocked on the door of the Chief’s office before pushing it open. It felt weird to have her camera around her neck when she was in scrubs, heavier than usual, and her free hand kept moving up to touch it. The other hand was holding a paper tray with two cups in it.
“Morning, Chief,” she greeted, smiling her brightest smile. Dahlia had practiced it on Taryn that morning, and had a pillow thrown in her face for being “too fucking sunshine-y too damn early”, so she knew it was good. Third in her class good. If she got through today, maybe Bailey would let her scrub in on something really cool later. There was gastric bypass on the board for later, and Dahlia wouldn’t mind seeing one of those.
“Oh, good, Dr. Qadri. You’re right on time. Punctuality is a wonderful trait.” Bailey moved out from behind her desk, taking one of the coffee cups without waiting for an offer; luckily, it was the one that actually contained coffee. Moving quickly, she spoke even faster. Dahlia barely had time to take her own cup and throw the tray in recycling; she had to jog a little to catch up.
“Now, what I want is a few good shots of the head of each surgical department working with an intern. Ah--Nothing graphic.”
“Are you promoting the internship program?” Dahlia asked. Her free hand fiddled with the lense cover of her camera. She really didn’t take pictures of people very often. Not with an actual camera, anyway. Her instagram was full of ones she’d taken of her friends and family.
“The Grey-Sloan Memorial internship program does not need promoting,” Bailey sounded affronted by the very idea. “No, this is…” Bailey paused, both verbally and physically. Dahlia nearly ran into her, but managed to catch herself millimeters away. She backed away quickly as Bailey turned around. “My son, Tuck. His high school has a career pathway program, and I am putting together a presentation on becoming a surgeon.”
“Dr. Bailey, that doesn’t really sound like P.R.,” Dahlia began, correcting quickly with, “but I am still very happy to do it,” when Bailey glared.
“It is P.R., Dr. Qadri, because your pictures in my presentation are going to inspire young minds to become surgeons. That inspiration will bring them back to Grey-Sloan Memorial when the time comes, thus ensuring the future of this hospital.” The more passionate Dr. Bailey got, the closer she got. Dahlia had to resist the urge to lean back a little by the end of it. Bailey smirked, stepped back. “Also, it’s going to be a lot cooler than my husband’s presentation on firefighting. Firefighting! The man’s going out for Medic One, he has no business talking about a career he’s not staying in.”
There were some underlying things there that Dahlia wasn’t going to touch. She took a sip of her tea, nodding. Tucked away the information about Ben Warren for later gossip. “So you want me to take pictures of department heads and interns.”
“And residents, fellows, attendings,” Bailey waved her hand as if to say, and so on, turned sharply on her heel and started walking again. Dahlia jolted into motion. “I want some shots of Dr. Pierce’s mood rooms, and of course, the moon spa--ah, the hyperbolic chamber.”
“Got it,” Dahlia nodded.
“And just...get some random shots. You said you take pictures of random things that stick out. Do that. Just nothing explicit. These are for children, after all.”
“Right.” Dahlia nodded again.
“Well?” Bailey threw a look over her shoulder. “What are you waiting for? Go! Take pictures!”
“Right!” Dahlia stopped, glancing around. “I’ll go do that.”
She just had to figure out where to start.
Chapter 2: slow-motion weekdays stare me down
Dahlia finds that finding a subject proves slightly difficult.
The pit had seemed like a good idea, when she thought of it. There was usually something going on down there. Dahlia hadn’t expected things to be slow. Dr. Webber was attending that morning, and he leaned back in a chair at the nurse’s station with a crossword and a cup of coffee that he sipped at periodically.
Sighing, she dragged herself over to him, holding up her camera. “Can I take your picture, Dr. Webber?”
“Hm? Oh.” Webber set his cup down, his little crossword book, and turned to her. “Dr. Qadri, good morning. Is this for Bailey’s little pet project?”
“It is, sir,” Dahlia confirmed, forcing herself to smile. He sounded about as enthusiastic for the project as she felt. She held her camera up a little higher. “So can I?”
“Well, I’m not sure I’m doing anything worth having my picture taken, right now. Come back in a little while, when things have picked up.”
Shoulders slumping, Dahlia lowered her camera, nodded. “Yes, Dr. Webber.”
“Uh, before you do though,” he continued, stopped Dahlia before she could turn away, “do happen to know a ten letter word for ‘quick board meeting’?”
Dahlia blinked at him. “Um, no, sir,” she said, then thought about it. “I would maybe ask Dr. Helm? She’s good at stuff like that.”
“Helm… Okay. I’ll do that. Thank you, Dr. Qadri.” Webber smiled at her. “I’ll see you later.”
“Yes, sir.” Dahlia left again, quickly, before he could call her back for more crossword help. She fiddled with the lens cap for her camera as she waited for the elevator, tilting her head back to study the ceiling. Maybe she could try Neuro. Levi was there this week, and watching him try not to act squeamish was always fun.
The doors to the elevator opened, revealing Dr. Grey and Taryn, engrossed enough in their conversation that neither of them noticed Dahlia, or the fact that the elevator had stopped. Dr. Grey was gesturing to the tablet in Taryn’s hands. Thinking quickly, Dahlia unscrewed the lens of her camera and raised it. She managed to focus and snap a quick shot just before the elevator doors started closing again. The doctors on it finally realized what was going on, Taryn shoving her arm between the doors to push them open again.
“You could have just hit the button,” Grey told her, doing so to prove her point despite the fact that the doors were already sliding open again. Taryn’s cheeks pinkened.
“Right,” she muttered, rubbing her arm where it had hit the door. She glanced upm noticing Dahlia for the first time, and startled, groaned. “Please tell me you didn’t get a picture of that.”
“Not of that, no,” Dahlia told her, smirking down at her camera as she replaced the cap on the lens. “Good morning, Dr. Grey.”
“Dr. Qadri,” Grey smiled at her, stepping off the elevator. “Good luck with your special project.” She said it like she was speaking to one of her children, winked at Dahlia as she passed by. It must have been hilarious to her, Dahlia thought with a slight scowl, seeing an intern lose precious surgery opportunities to take pictures.
“Hey, page me if anything really amazing comes in down here?” she asked Taryn, brushing past her as the other intern moved to follow Dr. Grey. They traded places, Dahlia pressing the button for the third floor, holding the elevator door with her other hand and leaning against it. Taryn nodded.
Dahlia stepped back, letting the door close as Taryn turned to hurry after Dr. Grey, her ponytail swishing.
When the elevator opened again less than a minute later, Dahlia stepped out onto the third floor, heading for Neuro. It didn’t take her long to find Levi, who was slouching outside of the lab while Dr. Kim leaned over him. Their heads were bent to together, Levi leaning in slightly, hands fisted in Dr. Kim’s lab coat while Dr. Kim’s were on either side of his head.
Dahlia’s steps slowed to a stop, reaching for her camera before she’d even really thought about it. That one, she wouldn’t be giving to Bailey, but it would make a nice gift for Levi. Once the picture was taken, she cleared her throat. Both men startled slightly, jerking away from each other, Dr. Kim’s arms falling as he stepped back.
“Oh, it’s you,” Levi muttered sourly, after his head had jerked towards her in a panic. He turned his whole body in her direction, crossing her arms.
“Are you going to be cutting into any brains today?” Dahlia asked, blunt just to watch Levi fight the shiver of revulsion.
“I don’t know,” Levi snapped back. “Dr. Shepherd isn’t here yet.”
“She’s here,” Dr. Kim said. “She’s with Link.” He rolled his eyes, shaking his head slightly, but made no further comment. “If you’re looking for something to photograph, I’m about to do a consult on a double articular cartilage replacement.”
“Cartilage replacement?” Interest piqued, Dahlia raised an eyebrow. “Transplant or Torres method?”
“Torres method,” Levi interrupted, leaning into the conversation with a little bounce and a proud look. “It was his idea.”
“It was,” Dr. Kim agreed, amused. He gave his boyfriend a fond glance, and Dahlia smothered a sigh. It was hard to appreciate all the adorable couple moments when she was single and pining.
Something must have shown on her face, because Levi frowned slightly once he’d managed to drag his gaze away from Dr. Kim’s.
“Has he still not texted?”
“No.” Dahlia shook her head. At Dr. Kim’s confused look, she elaborated, “I met a guy a few months ago at a dog park. We texted a little, but…”
“But you’re an intern, and dating’s only easy if your partner works at the hospital.” Dr. Kim nodded, a knowing look on his face.
“And I haven’t heard from him in awhile.”
Dr. Kim nodded again, opened his mouth to speak just as his phone started beeping.
“Damn,” he muttered instead. He turned to Levi, leaning down to give him a quick kiss. “I gotta go do that consult. I’ll see you later. C’mon, Dr. Qadri.”
With a wave to Levi, Dahlia spun on her heel to follow after the ortho fellow. On their way, they passed Dr. Shepherd, hurrying back towards Neuro, looking flushed.
Dr. Kim made a noise, so quiet Dahlia only heard it because she was walking closely next to him. She gave him a questioning glance, and he shook his head, put on a smile as they stepped into the room belonging to his cartilage replacement patient.
“Morning, Ms. Chase,” Dr. Kim greeted, smiling at the young woman in the hospital bed. She responded with a wince, leaning over to rub at her knee. Blue bangs covered her face for a moment before she brushed them out of the way.
“Tell me it’s ready, Doc. I want to get back to my trails.”
“Ms. Chase is a champion marathon runner,” Dr. Kim explained to Dahlia, who nodded. “Ms. Chase, this is Dr. Qadri. She’s one of our surgical interns, but today she’s working on a project for the hospital. If you’re uncomfortable with her taking pictures of you, let me know. Otherwise, when we discharge you, you’ll get an image release form to sign with the rest of your paperwork.”
Ms. Chase directed her response to Dahlia. “If I give you my email, can you send me whatever pictures you take of me? This is all going on my blog, and none of my followers are going to believe me when I tell them how hot my doctor was.” She gestured to Dr. Kim, whose smile lost some enthusiasm. Ms. Chase didn’t seem to notice, but Dahlia felt a twinge of sympathy for the man.
“If Dr. Kim’s alright with being put on your blog, of course,” she said lightly, rather than just agree.
“Oh, he’ll be fine with it.”
Dahlia wasn’t quite sure that was the case. Rather than keep fighting Dr. Kim’s battle, however, she uncapped her camera and took a step back.
“For now, I just want to get pictures of the consult,” she said instead. Dr. Kim nodded, taking his cue.
“Right, so, Ms. Chase. To answer your earlier question, yes, your cartilage is ready. We can schedule the surgery at the end of the consult, and we might even be able to get you in today. However, there are just a few things Dr. Lincoln and I want to go over with you one more time first…”
Dahlia half-listened to Dr. Kim’s words as she raised her camera to her face, adjusted the lens, and took her shot.
Chapter 3: a hot flash factor
Dahlia has an adventure in the Pit.
The page came for Dahlia just as Dr. Kim was finishing up his consult. She thanked him, excused herself, and hurried down to the pit, passing Dr. Lincoln. On the way, she pulled her phone out of her pocket, checking to see if she’d had any texts from Taryn specifying just what she was rushing down to see.
There was nothing. She was going in blind, then. Knowing Taryn, it was probably something pretty bad. The worse the injury, the more complicated the surgery to put the patient back together, after all. Dahlia took a deep breath, steeling herself for something bloody and complicated, possibly with organs falling out of gaping wounds.
Unfortunately, before she could find Taryn, she was waylaid by Dr. Webber, a miserable looking Dr. DeLuca trailing after him.
“Ah, Dr. Qadri, there you are. You answered that page very quickly, I’m impressed.”
“Oh,” Dahlia said, brows furrowing, “You paged me, Dr. Webber?”
“I did page you,” Webber agreed, “because things have picked up, and I’m about to stitch up a nasty wound on an otherwise fairly handsome face that I suspect would be very photogenic.” He chuckled, although Dahlia didn’t get the joke.
Stitches. Well, Dahlia supposed that taking pictures of Dr. Webber giving someone stitches probably was just the right amount of gross for high school freshmen.
“Alright,” she agreed, reaching for her camera. “Where’s the patient?”
“I’m telling you, we should wait for Avery,” Dr. DeLuca finally spoke, crossing his arms over his chest. “If you stitch his face up, the man’s going to scar.”
“And I’m telling you he wants the scar. We don’t need to wait for Avery. I have stitched up plenty of face wounds in my lifetime.”
“Why would he want his face to scar?” DeLuca demanded, albeit at a much quieter volume as they approached the patient’s bed. Dahlia was wondering the same thing.
When she saw him, she got it. The man was… Well. Dahlia worked with a lot of very unfairly attractive men. This one made them all look like complete duds. Chiseled jawline, perfectly shadowed with stubble that only emphasized the sharpness of his cheeks, full lips, jade eyes, black hair that fell into them… For a moment, she actually lost her breath.
In fact, the only thing marring the perfection of the man’s face was the jagged cut along his right cheek, jolting enough that Dahlia winced when her eyes landed on it. DeLuca was right. If Dr. Webber stitched it up, it was going to scar.
“It’s going to backfire, you know,” she said without thinking, and all three men stopped to look at her. Face hot, Dahlia continued. “The scar might make you look less perfect, but it’s going to make you look more rugged. Anyone remotely attracted to men is still going to want to throw themselves at you.”
She wondered where Levi was.
“Dr. Qadri,” Webber spoke after a moment, voice slightly strained. “Why don’t you just take your pictures. Quietly.”
“Yes. Right away.” Dahlia bit her lip. Was she really allowed to just...take a picture of this man? “If he wants me to.”
The patient sighed. “Go ahead. You’re not the first woman who’s wanted to.”
“This is actually for the hospital,” Dahlia tried to explain, and then paused. “But you know what--what’s your name?”
“You know what, James? I can zoom in so that I’m just getting the stitches. Nobody will know they happened on the world’s most perfect right cheekbone.”
James started chuckling, and Dahlia smiled.
Webber was just finishing up the stitches when Dahlia’s phone chimed. Taryn, finally. She excused herself, turning away and pulling it out of her scrub top pocket. The message itself, however, confused her.
“Why were you peds?” she asked when she met Taryn at the elevators a few minutes later.
“A mother was in the waiting room while her toddler had surgery, and she was complaining of appendix pain right before she collapsed,” Taryn explained, hurrying them both towards scrub room. “Turned out it ruptured like, three days ago, and there’s a lot of infection.”
“Wait, this is just an appy?” Dahlia’s steps slowed. “Taryn.”
“No,” Taryn shook her head. “That’s the thing--on top of the infection, the mother was pregnant.”
“Oh.” Dahlia swallowed. May Allah help her, she thought, and started moving again, a little more swiftly. “I don’t know if I can give Bailey pictures from a surgery.”
She still wanted to see it, though.
“Carina is in the O.R. with us,” Taryn said, as if Dahlia hadn’t spoken at all, and Dahlia nearly stopped again.
“That’s why you want me there! You’re scared to be in the same room as Dr. Grey and Dr. DeLuca for longer than five minutes!”
“Every time I see her I think about the wedding,” Taryn hissed, turning around and moving closer to Dahlia so that she could keep her volume low. “She was so nice and she smelled really good.”
“But you’re in love with Meredith Grey,” Dahlia reminded her. “You have been since you got here.”
Taryn grimaced. “Yeah, well, that’s why I don’t want to be alone with them, so hurry up.”
“You know, technically you wouldn’t be alone with them even if I didn’t go.” Even as she said it, Dahlia was grabbing Taryn’s arm and tugging her along.
It’s what friends were for, after all.
Chapter 4: zoom-lens feelings just won't disappear
Dahlia spends some time with a couple of bleeding hearts.
Dahlia knocked on the door of the cardio lab, waited thirty seconds before she pushed it open. It seemed like the kind of thing that Dr. Pierce would appreciate. Also, it would prevent her from walking in on anything she didn’t want to see between her and Dr. Avery, which Dahlia would appreciate.
Instead of Avery in the lab with her, however, Casey was sitting in front of a computer at the desk. Dr. Pierce sat less than a foot away from him, perched on the long stretch of desk, papers scattered on the surface next to her, a few of them in her hand. The room was quiet, but not uncomfortably so. If anything, Dahlia almost felt like she was interrupting something when she walked in there. Both occupants of the room turned to look at her, almost in unison, and she paused on the threshold.
“Um,” she began, “Dr. Bailey was hoping I could get some pictures of surgical department heads and interns, for a P.R. project?”
“Pictures?” Pierce’s brow furrowed, mouth curling downwards, and she glanced at Casey, who nodded once.
“Dr. Bailey sent a memo,” he told her, confirming Dahlia’s words. Pierce’s frown deepened. She reached for her phone, presumably to check her email. Dahlia took her distraction as an opportunity to move closer to Casey, leaning over his shoulder to study the scans on his screen.
“What is this?”
“Dr. Pierce and I are studying some of the data we’ve already collected from her mood rooms,” he explained, “and comparing it to data already out there on other mood rooms.”
It sounded like a snoozefest, but Casey didn’t seem to mind being stuck up there instead of scrubbed in on a surgery, or at least trying to be.
“Whoever’s asking for Parker, tell them they can’t have him,” Pierce said absently, back to reading over whatever she’d been looking at before. “I need him.” She said it as if she’d had to many times before.
Casey’s ears were red, but his face otherwise stayed carefully blank.
“Oh, no,” Dahlia said, “I’m just here to take pictures.”
Dr. Pierce looked up then, gave her a smile that seemed confused. “Sorry. I’m used to someone coming in here at least once a day asking for him, but I have permission to keep him on my service unless it’s an emergency.”
“Well, I don’t want to distract you. I’ll just take a couple of pictures, and go.” Dahlia lifted her camera for emphasis.
“Thank you, Dr. Qadri. I’m sorry we’re not doing anything more exciting.”
“This is pretty exciting,” Dahlia countered, moving around the room as she looked for a good angle to capture both Casey and Dr. Pierce’s intent looks. “Personally, I think holistic medicine needs to be researched more thoroughly.”
“It really does,” Pierce agreed brightly, offering Dahlia a rare, wide smile. “I’m hoping--”
“Knock knock.” The door opened again, Dr. Avery sticking his head into the room. The rest of him slid in as well, and he smiled at the interns before focusing on Pierce.
“Hey, Maggie. Mom and Richard want to take us to lunch.”
“Oh, I was just going to take a working lunch…” Pierce paused, turned her head to look at Casey, who was resolutely staring at the computer screen in front of him. She looked back at Avery, who raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sure Dr. Parker has it covered. He’s been on this project since the beginning.”
“He has.” Dr. Pierce’s smile seemed a little forced, to Dahlia, who startled when Avery gestured to Dahlia.
“He probably wouldn’t mind some time to hang out with Qadri anyway.”
“What?” Dahlia squawked, and the same time that Casey’s head jerked around, eyes wide.
“What do you mean?” Dr. Pierce’s chuckle sounded nervous, her eyes darting between Dahlia and Casey. “Parker, you didn’t tell me your girlfriend was Qadri.”
“She isn’t,” Casey said, at the same time that Dahlia vehemently interjected, “I’m not.”
An awkward silence settled over the room, Dr. Pierce looking anywhere but at Casey, whose jaw was so tight Dahlia worried he’d break it. Finally, Dr. Avery broke it by clearing his throat.
“Right, okay. Maggie, Mom and Richard are waiting?”
“Yeah.” Dr. Pierce nodded, swallowed. “Yeah, right. Um, Parker. I’ll be back in--two hours, tops. You can keep working, or take a break with Qadri… Or whatever! I’ll be back.” The words were pushed out, fast and high, as Maggie hopped off the desk.
Once they were gone, Dahlia looked at Casey, who was back to staring at the computer screen.
“So, Dr. Avery thought we were dating,” she tried to joke. Casey’s jaw flexed. “Casey…”
“Don’t.” His voice was barely audible.
“Right.” Dahlia pressed her lips together, breathed out through her nose. “So, are you not coming to lunch, then?”
“I have a lot of work to do.”
Dahlia sighed. “I guess I’ll come back and take pictures later.”
Chapter 5: now freeze
A lunch break.
“How can one hospital have so much drama?” Dahlia threw herself down in the chair next to Taryn and her lunchbag on the table. She opened it, pulled out the contents of her lunch: a mason jar salad and a soup thermos.
“The same way one hospital can have so much tragedy,” Taryn said, sighing. Her chin rested in one hand, eyes drooping with exhaustion. “I don’t know if my pregnant chick is going to make it.”
“Nico thinks it’s cursed,” Levi chimed in, glancing up from the book his nose was currently buried in. “How did his consult go, by the way?”
“It went good. The patient agreed to have the surgery, but they couldn’t schedule the surgery until next week because of O.R. availability.” Dahlia started vigorously shaking the jar with her salad in it. “You know, he’s kind of amazing?”
Levi preened as if she’d complimented him personally. “He’s an artist.”
“Gag me,” Taryn muttered, forehead dropping forward for a sharp second before she caught herself, rubbed her eye with the heel of her palm.
“Why aren’t you taking a nap somewhere?” Dahlia demanded. She set her salad down, nudging the thermos of soup towards Taryn when she realized there was no food in front of her.
“If I fall asleep, I might miss a page,” Taryn explained. Ignoring the thermos, she leaned her head onto Dahlia’s shoulder, yawned. “I want to make sure I’m there for Carlie.”
“It’s what she wants to name the baby,” Taryn explained, yawning again. “Carlie.”
“Cutesy,” Levi wrinkled his nose.
“Oh, what would you name a baby, then?” Taryn snapped, without much heat, lifting her head slightly. “Agnes?”
“No. I just wouldn’t name it Carlie.”
Taryn held her glare for maybe ten more seconds before she deflated, leaning against Dahlia again. “Well, I like Carlie.”
“You’d make a good mom,” Dahlia said absently. That seemed to wake Taryn up, because she pulled away completely to narrow her eyes at her. Dahlia took a bite of her salad, hoping she looked innocent.
“I’m not adopting a patient’s baby. I’m not Dr. Hunt. I don’t have a girlfriend! I don’t even have my own apartment! Which, as my roommate, you know! You want to raise a baby with me?”
“I don’t want a baby until my fellowship is over, at least,” Dahlia said, shaking her head. “You bring home Carlie, you’re on your own.”
“Not fair. I help you with your dog.”
“Sonny doesn’t need diaper changes!”
Levi cleared his throat, interrupting the girls and their bickering.
“Speaking of Sonny, Dahlia. You said earlier you still hadn’t heard from Dean?”
“I didn’t say that,” Dahlia said, shaking her head, then slumped a little, poking at her salad with her fork, “but you correctly inferred it from my face and I agreed, so… No, I haven’t heard from him.”
“Cheer up,” Taryn said, patting Dahlia’s back. “Hey, your hot firefighter guy is here, down in the pit. Maybe today’s the day you talk to him.”
Dahlia blinked. Laughed a little.
“You mean Dean?”
“Wait. Hot firefighter guy is Dean from the dog park?”
“Dean-with-a-dog and hot firefighter guy are the same person ?” Taryn and Levi exchanged a look, while Dahlia rolled her eyes and nodded.
“Yes! Didn’t I mention that?”
“No, you did not,” Taryn said, Levi shaking his head next to her. “Not even once.”
“Well, he is.”
“Yeah,” Levi huffed. “Got that.”
Dahlia took another bite of her salad.
Chapter 6: test-strip, proof sheet love is hard to find
Dahlia gets some advice.
Lunch over, Dahlia headed down to where Dr. Pierce had her mood rooms. The plant room was empty, but Dr. Avery was in the game room.
“Oh, sorry. I was just going to take some pictures.” Dahlia held up her camera for what already felt like the millionth time. “You know, having someone actually playing the game might actually make a good one. Mind being my subject?”
“Go ahead.” Avery barely glanced at her, he was so intently focused on the screen.
“Do you feel like playing this game relaxes you?” she asked, getting her camera ready and focused on the unfairly gorgeous man in front of her.
“I feel like it stresses me out in a less stressful way than other stressful factors in my life,” Avery muttered, throwing the remote onto the couch when the words GAME OVER flashed across the screen. “Damn it.”
“Hm.” Dahlia snapped a couple of pictures, lowered her camera again. “Have you tried the blue room?”
“Ah,” Avery leaned over the back of the couch, looking at Dahlia and shaking his head. “Don’t go into the blue room.”
“Just...don’t go in there.”
“I need to take pictures in the blue room.”
“Wait half an hour.”
“Just...trust me, Qadri. Wait half an hour.”
With half an hour to spare, Dahlia thought she might try cardio again. She made her way up to the third floor, pausing outside of the cardio lab. She could hear voices, low enough she couldn’t make out the words, but loud enough she could sense some urgency to them.
The cardio lab could wait. Maybe she should go find Levi. At a much slower pace, Dahlia trudged back in the direction she had come, reaching the Neuro wing at the same time as a breathless Dr. Shepherd showed up, cheeks pink.
“Dr. Qadri,” she practically panted, falling into step being her. “I understand Bailey has you taking pictures? You haven’t been to my lab yet.”
“I can do that now, if you’d like?” Dahlia offered. Shepherd nodded, speeding up so that she could overtake Dahlia and lead the way.
Levi said it too loud, too seriously. As soon as the firefighter’s name was out of his mouth, he wanted to duck around a corner to avoid being seen.
It was too late, though. Dean and his partner had turned around, were watching Levi with curious expressions on their faces. Levi took a deep breath, notched his chin up, and strode forward as confidently as possible.
“You’re Dean, with the dog?”
The confusion only got worse. “I’m Dean, and I have been known to have a dog…”
“You met my friend Dahlia at a dog park a couple of months back.”
Dean’s confusion cleared the second Levi said her name. “I remember.”
“You stopped texting her.”
“...I got busy, man. And she was busy too. You’re an intern, you get it. These things just happen.”
“I know,” Levi nodded. “I’m not...blaming you for anything. I’m just saying… If you would still be interested. I know she is. She’ll be at the bar across the street tonight, Joe’s?”
Levi didn’t want to hear a response--he was second guessing himself before he’d even started talking, and Dean’s growing bewilderment only made things worse--so he missed what was said.
Andy turned to her partner, sizing him up, and raised an eyebrow.
“What is it with you and women at this hospital?”
Chapter 7: we'll dance the spotlight grind
Dahlia tries to take a moment to relax.
“You said this is for Bailey?” Dr. Hunt clarified, his eyes flickering to Dahlia only for a moment before they went back to his patient--or rather, to carefully pulling pus out of the patient’s bite. Dahlia wasn’t sure what had bitten him, but the result was horrifying.
She took another picture.
“It is,” she assured him. “She wanted me to get pictures of all the attendings, interns, fellows, department heads…”
“Well, Dr. Altman’s head of Trauma now,” Hunt pointed out, glancing up at Dahlia more fully as he did. “Maybe you should go find her.”
“You’re still an attending,” Dahlia reminded him, inching closer to get a better shot of the bite mark itself. It looked fanged, and the flesh around it was mottled green and purple, swollen and oozing blood-tinged yellow pus. Her camera shuttered.
“Bailey wants you getting shots of this kind of thing?”
“Surgeons in action,” she said, taking a step back when Hunt pulled out the syringe and the wound literally spurted. She got a good shot of that, too. “Besides, these are more for my personal collection.”
Dr. Hunt paused, looking horrified, and Dahlia realized what, exactly, she’d said.
“Qadri…” Hunt closed his eyes, sighed. “Go find Dr. Altman.”
“Alright.” Dahlia nodded, but she took one last shot of the sheer exasperation on Dr. Hunt’s face.
It was too good not to.
Dr. Altman was about as impressed with the concept. Possibly because she was busy scrubbing in for a surgery when Dahlia found her.
“Why is Bailey having you do this?” she asked, expression quizzical. There was a hint of laughter in her voice. “It seems a little strange to have an intern taking candids of hospital staff.”
“Just people in the surgical track,” Dahlia explained. “Interns through department heads. It’s for a P.R. project the Chief is working on. There was a memo.”
“A P.R. project.” Altman still sounded like she wasn’t quite buying it, but she sighed. “Well, alright. If that’s what Bailey wants. Do you want to take them from the floor or the gallery?”
Dahlia bit her lip, considering. The gallery would probably get the kind of sterile shots Bailey was after, but Dahlia was a surgical intern. “I’d like to be in the O.R. Maybe get some good shots of the tools you’re using?” Which reminded her, Dahlia still needed to get down to the hyperbolic chamber and get a few photos of that, as well.
“Whatever Bailey wants,” Altman said, shutting off the water. “Come on, then.”
Dahlia resisted the urge to squeal in delight.
Five hours later and swaying on her feet, Dahlia made her way down to the hyperbolic chamber. If no one else was around, maybe she would spend a few minutes taking herself to the moon spa, she thought, smiling to herself. Technically, there was no one place she had to be... Dahlia had to admit, she kind of loved the freedom of not having any patients to check on. She knew the hospital like her own hands, but she’d never really had free reign to roam, before.
Bailey found her with her feet up, pointing the camera lazily at the ceiling of the hyperbolic chamber and humming to herself. It was, perhaps, not her most professional moment.
“I am going to let this slide because you’re at least taking pictures,” was how the Chief made her presence known, “but I know you didn’t think that’s what I meant when I said take pictures of my moon spa.”
“Of course not, Chief.” Dahlia scrambled to her feet. “I am so, so sorry--I only just sat down…” She trailed off when Bailey held her hand up.
“How are you doing on those pictures that I wanted?”
“I still need Dr. Karev, Dr. Grey, and Dr. Pierce.”
“You took some serious pictures?” Bailey checked, gesturing to the room around them. Dahlia nodded.
“Then go take some more.” Bailey shooed her off with a flutter of her hands and an irritated hitch to her voice.
Once Qadri was gone, Miranda settled herself on the same chair the intern had been sitting in, leaning back and closing her eyes. Imagine the nerve, she thought with a chuckle, thinking she could hang out in her moon spa.
Chapter 8: no defects to be found
Taryn has a rough time.
“How’s she doing?” Dahlia knocked on the door of Taryn’s patient’s room, leaned against the frame. Taryn was sitting at her bedside, going over her charts. She jerked when Dahlia spoke.
“She coded earlier, but we got her back. Dr. Grey says we took out so much of her large intestine that if she makes it, she’s going to be using a stoma bag for the rest of her life. We got everything that was infected, though, and she’s stable for the moment.”
“Has she woken up since she coded?”
“No.” Taryn shook her head.
Dahlia came a little further into the room. “At least they didn’t have to take out her baby.”
“No, just her burst appendix, a quarter of her large intestine, part of her bladder, and an ovary. All because she couldn’t afford childcare long enough to go to the hospital.”
Sitting down in the chair next to Taryn, Dahlia reached out, covered Taryn’s hand with her own. “At least she lived.”
“Who knows how badly the surgery cost her, though? Jo said she’d had to save up for the surgery for her toddler. Now she’s going to have huge medical bills anyway.”
“That doesn’t seem fair.”
“It’s not,” Taryn said it with such force that Dahlia leaned back a little. “It’s not fair.”
Dahlia remembered the patient she’d had a few months ago with Karev, with his bleb, and wondered if there wasn’t something they might be able to do. If they talked to the right people. It wouldn’t necessarily be the most ethical solution, but working at Grey-Sloan Memorial had taught Dahlia that what was ethical was debatable, anyway.
The sound of voices had both young women sitting up, and seconds later Dr. Grey and Dr. DeLuca entered the room. They paused at the sight of Dahlia.
“Qadri,” Dr. Grey said, after a moment’s awkward silence. “I’m sorry I couldn’t let you stay in the O.R., but the situation was so delicate--”
“It’s alright, Dr. Grey, I understand.” Dahlia got to her feet. “I was hoping I could take a few pictures of you and Dr. Helm now, though? And maybe Dr. DeLuca too, since she’s here?”
Dr. Grey rolled her eyes, but she nodded. “Alright, fine. But just for a few minutes.” She moved closer to Taryn, holding out her hand for the tablet. Dahlia moved back, letting the women actually in charge of the patient do what they needed to do. Dr. DeLuca seemed to be there to give an ultrasound, using her own tablet and a wand, while Dr. Grey and Taryn discussed vitals and medication. Dahlia raised her camera, took a few pictures of the women working.
From behind her lens, Dahlia was realizing just how much she could see. She just wondered how to make her friends see it, too.
Just as she was taking what she had decided would be her last shot, the Doctors Karev walked into the room.
“Vinnie’s awake,” Jo chirped. “Alex was just checking his vitals, and he’s fine. How’s Mom doing?” Her face fell even as she finished the question, eyes landing on the motionless woman in the bed.
Dahlia took a picture, and then a couple more, making sure to get both Karevs in a shot with Dr. Grey.
“What are you doing?” Dr. Karev snapped, head jerking to glare at Dahlia. She slowly lowered the camera.
“It’s for Bailey,” Meredith defended, swatting his arm. “Leave her alone. She had to get a picture of you.”
“Candid’s better anyway, babe,” Jo said, fingers tugging on his jacket sleeve, “you know you don’t pose for pictures well.”
Dr. Karev scowled, opened his mouth, undoubtedly to snap at her again. Dahlia began inching towards the door.
The patient started coding.
“Get your camera out of here,” Karev barked out as Dr. Grey rushed forward.
Dahlia didn’t have to be told twice.
Chapter 9: close-up darkroom sweet-talk in my ear
Dahlia thinks Dr. Pierce knows nothing about the ways of the heart.
The cardio lab was her last stop. Hand on the door, Dahlia took a deep breath. As tense as things had gotten earlier, she wasn’t sure what stepping inside would bring. Dahlia pushed open the door slowly.
Neither Casey nor Dr. Pierce bothered looking at her. Shoulders relaxing a little, Dahlia stepped fully into the room, studying the scene in front of her. Casey and Dr. Pierce had once again gravitated into each other’s space, less than a foot between them, engrossed in the screens in front of them. There was a calmness that almost felt like stepping into one of Pierce’s mood rooms. Dahlia didn’t want to break it by speaking.
Instead, she quietly uncapped her camera lens.
When the quiet was broken, a few minutes later, it was by Dr. Pierce.
“Parker,” she said, putting her hand on the back of his chair. “Look at this. This is the sixth study I’ve read that reports this.”
Casey leaned in to study her tablet screen, and he hummed, glancing up into her eyes. “They don’t report it like it’s a big deal.”
“Well, case-by-case it wouldn’t seem like it would be.”
“But when you look at them all together…” A smile was forming over Casey’s face. Dahlia stepped back a little more, zooming in enough to catch the way the corners of his eyes somehow crinkled at went soft when he looked at Dr. Pierce. “This might be your angle, Dr. Pierce.”
“Our angle,” Pierce corrected. “You have been with me since I started this project, Parker.”
“I haven’t done much,” Casey tried to defer, and Pierce rolled her eyes.
“You’ve done a lot.” Their gazes met, and then Pierce was clearing her throat, moving away. “Anyway. I think that’s probably enough for now. I’m going to go, uh, get some coffee. Do you want any coffee?”
“Sure.” Casey watched Dr. Pierce flee, although she paused at the door, turning back and looking in Dahlia’s direction for the first time.
“Um, Qadri, did you want some coffee?”
“No thank you, Dr. Pierce.”
The door clicked shut behind her. Dahlia focused on her camera, making sure she really was out of film, putting the cap back on the lens, fiddling with the strap, until Casey was ready to speak.
“How did taking pictures all day feel?”
“How does looking at data all day feel?” Dahlia shot back, although really, she hadn’t minded. It had been kind of fun, being able to take time to do a hobby she hadn’t picked up in awhile. It reminded her of why she had started taking pictures in the first place, even if she still wasn’t a huge fan of people as her subjects.
Casey sighed. “I know, it’s pathetic.”
“It’s just confusing. She has a boyfriend, you have a girlfriend… Neither of you are ever going to make a move.”
“We don’t need to.”
“I gotta be honest, I don’t get that.” Shrugging to herself, Dahlia headed towards the lab door. She’d taken all the pictures that she needed to. Now she had to just get them developed and give them to Bailey.
Still, Dahlia paused before she reached the door, turning to face her friend one more time. “Are you going to be okay?”
Casey looked up at her again, smiling slightly. “Of course.”
Chapter 10: stop-time heart for me
The day ends on a high note for Dahlia.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“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.
“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.”
“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.
Hey! If you made it to the end, thank you so much! I'm sorry for medical ignorance and vagueness.
Please, please let me know what you think.