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(if you like it then you) shoulda put a ring on it

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floyd reynolds carries a ring in his pocket.

an engagement ring, to be more exact. it’s beautiful; a two carat diamond in a fourteen carat rose gold pave setting with intertwining bands. it’s expensive. maybe it’s a little bit presumptuous of reynolds to carry it around with him, but he’s such a hit with evie’s family and he’s pretty sure she’s the most spectacular person he’s ever known. being with her is great. reynolds has never been in a relationship like this, one where he’s secure. he knows exactly where this is going- he doesn’t have to guess where he and evie will be in six months, in a year, in five years.

then lauren bloom walks back into new amsterdam and floyd reynolds’ life, upending everything like a gust of strong wind.

he’s not even sure he sees her at first. she’s in the hallway near the ed, looking over the surgery board, and reynolds’ feet are carrying him over to her before his brain can make them stop. he calls her name- god, his voice sounds so shocked- and when she turns to look at him, he loses his breath a little. it’s because she looks so young, he tells himself. when he’d gone to see lauren at the rehab center, she’d looked so gaunt and tired and beat down. older. now, reynolds notices, her cheeks are fuller and rosier, and with her hair down, bloom looks exactly like she did when they first met in residency.

‘hey,’ bloom says to him with a soft smile.

‘hi.’ floyd almost doesn’t know what to say to her. there’s so much he wants to tell her, and the ring in his pocket feels heavier somehow. ‘you back for good?’

she hesitates. that’s new. in all the time that he’s known her, lauren bloom has never hesitated. ‘no. i’m here to talk to max about extending my leave, actually.’

‘for how long?’

‘for forever.’

reynolds’ heart drops out of his chest and punches a hole through the floor. at least, that’s what it feels like. ‘oh.’ he has to fight to keep a smile on his face. ‘okay. anything i can say to change your mind?’

bloom, who knows floyd better than anyone, sees right through him and shakes her head sadly.

‘anything max can say to change your mind?’

that makes her laugh. ‘no. although i’m sure he’ll try.’

‘he’ll fight hard,’ reynolds agrees. like i want to.

‘yeah.’ silence settles over them, but it’s not particularly charged like it tends to be between them. ‘well, no one here has seen him, so i’m gonna go find sharpe. if anyone knows where max is, it’s her,’ lauren finally says. the soft smile is back. ‘i’ll see you around, floyd. say hi to evie for me.’

and then she’s gone, walking away and leaving no evidence that she was ever there except for the ache in reynolds’ chest and the faint smell of strawberry shampoo.

~

an hour later, and the ache still hasn’t gone away. floyd makes up his mind- he’s going to get lauren to stay. it’s just not new amsterdam without bloom running the ed, calling him at all hours of the night to come in and do a surgery. she has to stay. not for him, but for the hospital; bloom is one of the best emergency medical doctors in the city. her staying is what’s good for new amsterdam. it’s only an added benefit that he would get to keep one of his closest friends.

reynolds runs into evie on the third floor, typing away on her laptop at a table overlooking the atrium. ‘have you seen lauren?’ he asks as he kisses her hello.

‘lauren? lauren bloom?’ evie says with no small degree of disbelief. ‘not in three months, why?’

‘she’s back. kind of. i saw her a little while ago, but now i can’t find her.’

‘she’s back and she didn’t come talk to me?’ she sounds hurt, and reynolds slowly realizes that when lauren had said ‘say hi to evie’, it had meant that she herself was not going to talk to evie.

‘oh. well, um, she said she was looking for max, and that it was urgent, so maybe she just wanted to do that first,’ floyd tries to assure her. she still looks a little put out, so he sits down next to her and grabs her hand. ‘what are you doing?’

‘hospital’s taxes,’ she says, smiling at his grimace. ‘they’re due in a month, but if i don’t start now they’ll never get done.’

‘you’re so smart,’ reynolds tells her. the ring in his pocket feels as warm as the feeling in his chest. ‘wanna do my taxes?’

‘is that a euphemism?’ evie snorts. ‘either way, no.’

‘c’mon, i’ll cook for you.’

‘why are you trying to bribe me with that? you’re a horrible cook!’

‘you’re right,’ he smiles. ‘but i’ll- i don’t know, i’ll do something. i’ll get you that expensive french ice cream from the place down the street any time you want.’

‘uh huh,’ evie says, trying not to laugh. ‘whatever you say, floyd. you ready to go, or did you need to find lauren first?’

‘go?’ oh, yeah. family dinner. the thing he’d made such a big deal about just the other day. ‘yeah, let’s go. i’ll find bloom some other time.’

‘okay. do i look alright?’ evie stands up and does a turn so he can see her dress. she’s still smiling, but her eyes are nervous.

reynolds has to take a second to breathe. she’s stunning, really, and her dress is fantastic, and he doesn’t see any way that his family couldn’t love her.

‘you’re gorgeous,’ he finally assures her. ‘they’re going to love you.’

~

floyd reynolds has never brought a girl to family dinner. he’s sat and watched as his older sisters have brought boyfriends who became fiancés and eventually husbands, and he’s seen boyfriends who haven’t made his mother’s cut. she makes it horribly clear from the start who she approves of and who she does not approve of.

and momma reynolds loves evie. floyd can tell.

how couldn’t she? evie is polite. evie helps set the table. evie plays with his nephews until dinner is ready, and evie remarks upon the absolutely gorgeous roast and chicken. all solid check marks. she talks to his sisters about her job and blessedly says nothing when two out of three say they don’t work full time.

there’s a tiny bump after the whole ‘wasn’t raised religious’ comment, but reynolds thinks it gets smoothed out nicely. on to the real reason for bringing evie to sunday dinner: the family ring. really, it’s what he’s supposed to propose to evie with. it’s been passed down for generations, apparently, and what every first born reynolds son gets to propose to his future wife with. unfortunately for tradition, it’s horribly simple and not at all evie’s style, which is why he bought the ring that’s been sitting in his pocket for weeks. floyd asking his mother for the family ring is a...technicality. a warning sign, if you will. a loud, flashy one that reads ‘get ready! your only son wants to get married’.

he follows his mom into the kitchen with a clear goal in his mind. the family ring. his mom handing it over is basically her stamp of approval. reynolds makes his case, shows the evidence, and waits for his answer. what he gets is less than great.

‘oh, honey,’ momma reynolds sighs as she grabs the bowl of brussels sprouts she’d been fixing.

‘what?’

‘evie seems like the perfect woman-‘

exactly.’

‘just not the perfect woman for you.’ and just like that, his mother plasters on her best hostess smile and breezes back out into the dining room, like she hasn’t just totally upended floyd’s whole life plan.

the ring in his pocket feels radioactive.

he spends the rest of dinner trying to put evie in positions where she can show off. oh, annie, you’re doing your taxes? how wonderful, evie handles the finances for the largest public hospital in new york! luke, you and becky were just at the symphony? well, i don’t need to go to the symphony hall, evie can play any piece on the piano. katherine, you should talk to evie about your nonprofit because she is totally in to outreach work. but each time floyd tries to put the spotlight on evie, his mother changes the subject. in fact, she resolutely refuses to even look in his direction. his sisters know exactly what’s happening and keep sending him pitying looks all the way through the main course.

finally, it gets so bad that reynolds grabs evie’s plate and practically chases his mother into the kitchen.

‘you can’t keep ignoring me,’ he hisses, sounding entirely like a belligerent teenager.

‘i’m not ignoring you,’ his mother deftly lies. she won’t even look at him.

‘you’ve always told me that you’re saving the ring for me, and i finally want to use it!’

‘all your adult life, you’ve been telling me about your plan,’ his mother says, finally looking at him and holding a hand up to stop him talking. ‘about how you want your new family to look like this one.’

‘and i still do.’ floyd has never interrupted his mother before out of fear of god, but he doesn’t understand why she can’t just give her approval and pretend that she’s supportive of him. a family with evie does look like the one he’s always envisioned.

‘and how’s that gonna happen with evie? she doesn’t go to church, doesn’t cook-‘

‘she can’t, she works twelve hour days ma-‘

‘and will she give that up, when you have kids? or will you? will you give up your job?’ his mom demands.

reynolds doesn’t say anything for a moment. ‘i don’t know,’ he finally sighs.

she nods like she’s been validated. ‘exactly. come back for the ring when you do.’

floyd is shocked. he’d been so sure that his mother would love evie. and she’d said that evie was the perfect woman, but then turned around and found every small reason she could not to like her. his hand slips into his pant pocket, fingers tracing over the diamond ring absentmindedly while he thinks about what went wrong.

‘she’s right, you know.’

it’s annie, his middle sister. she’s always been the one closest to floyd, two middle siblings banding together against what they saw as a tyrannical older sister in becky (who really just wanted to keep them safe) and an annoying little sister in katherine (who really just wanted to be like them). out of all three of his sisters, annie always knew exactly what floyd needed to hear and how to help him.

but this is not what he wants to hear.

‘don’t say that.’

‘she just wants you to be happy,’ annie argues.

‘no, she wants me to marry someone like her!’ reynolds shoots back, and that makes annie slam the fridge shut and throw her hands on her hips.

‘yeah, because that’s how you get a family like this!’

they’re being too loud. they both take a second to breathe and calm down before annie speaks again.

‘no judgement, but it’s the truth. a future with evie isn’t gonna look like this,’ she says, putting a hand on floyd’s arm. it’s meant to be comforting, but it makes him feel worse. ‘it’s not going to look like what you planned, and mama’s smart enough to see that. why can’t you?’

reynolds feels like he’s sinking. the beautiful ring in his pocket no longer feels heavy, or hot, or radioactive. it just feels like nothing.

dessert is torture. the only one who doesn’t realize something is off is evie, who chatters away about the pie and the kids and how nice the apartment is. katherine disappears somewhere at the end, becky’s husband luke is watching football under the table, and annie is making half hearted attempts to act interested in evie’s stories. momma isn’t even trying anymore. finally, thank god, becky says that she needs to get the kids home to do homework and everyone quickly agrees that they should be off.

as they’re putting on coats, momma politely tells evie to come back whenever which incites a comment about evie being too busy for that. everyone in the mud room freezes slightly, but continues on when all momma does is smile and hand evie her coat. there’s a tap on floyd’s shoulder, and when he turns he finds katherine with a small velvet box in her hands.

‘here,’ she whispers, passing the box over to floyd. ‘it’s yours, isn’t it? it’s not fair for momma to keep it from you just because evie works or doesn’t cook or fit her definition of the perfect wife. that’s so outdated.’

reynolds looks at his little sister in surprise, then opens the box. it’s the ring. the family one. ‘how did you-‘

‘doesn’t matter,’ kitty smiles. ‘you gonna take it?’

as floyd stares at the ring, he comes to a series of startling revelations. one, that his younger sister may be a thief, as this ring was kept in a lockbox under their mother’s bed. second, that the same younger sister, who he’d been so horrible to as a child, is a wonderful human being.

and third, that he doesn’t really want a family like the one he has now.

yes, he wants the family dinners and the like. but what he really wants is the love, and the way that his family rags on one another. he wants the unconditional support and the harsh truths and the soft advice. floyd reynolds wants the sentiments of his family, not the traditions.

he shuts the ring box and slides it back into his sister’s fingers.

‘no,’ he tells her, and watches as the smile grows on her face. obviously the right choice, in her opinion.

katherine takes the ring. ‘okay,’ she smiles, and she’s walking away when floyd grabs her arm.

‘hey, i feel like we haven’t really had a chance to catch up lately,’ he says to her sheepishly when she turns around. it’s an understatement, and a big one. ‘wanna go get dinner or coffee tomorrow?’

‘yeah.’ she’s trying to play it cool, but her face lights up with the force of her grin. it’s infectious, and soon reynolds finds himself grinning back. ‘see you tomorrow, then.’

nothing can dampen his good mood after that, not even the disapproving look his mom sends evie’s way when she thinks floyd’s not looking. he grabs his jacket, hugs each of his sisters, kisses his mom on the cheek, then whisks evie out of the apartment.

~

‘i did good,’ evie laughs breathlessly once they’re a block away from the house. ‘i did good, right?’

she’s happy, and he doesn’t want to ruin her mood. ‘my sisters love you,’ he agrees.

‘and your mom?’

‘called you the perfect woman.’

evie smiles, pleased with herself, and continues walking. reynolds grabs her hand and contemplates what just happened.

so his mom doesn’t like evie. fine, he’ll live. (not really, but he’s got at least one sister on his side and a lifetime to make her change her mind.) also, what he thought he wanted isn’t actually what he wants. it’s a big thing to come to terms with, especially since he’s broken up with girlfriends and ended relationships because a future with them doesn’t look exactly like what he’s had planned in his head since he was eight. how many great people has he broken up with for petty and insignificant reasons? how many times has floyd broken his own heart for this misguided plan?

‘you okay?’ evie asks, breaking reynolds out of his thoughts.

‘yeah,’ he says, shaking his head a little. ‘just in a food coma. let’s go back to the hospital?’

and when evie runs up to the curb to flag a taxi, floyd smiles, sure he’s looking at his future.

oh, how things can change in thirty minutes.

~

when the cabbie pulls up to the hospital, he lets out a string of highly inventive new yorker curses that surprise both reynolds and evie. it’s not until evie gasps and points out of the window that he realizes that something is very, very wrong.

the scene makes floyd feel physically sick. not that he hasn’t seen limbs torn off or particularly horrible accidents before, but he sees one of the paramedics and realizes that he knows these people. reynolds is scrambling out of the door before evie can even say his name.

he can see max in the distance, holding a baby. his baby? he passes georgia on a stretcher looking less pregnant, which answers his question, and she’s so bloody and banged up that he almost stops to see if he can help, but there’s doctor kapoor, looking a little hopeless and muttering prayers over her. vijay catches his eye and shakes his head minutely; there’s no help for georgia goodwin.

‘max, what happened?’ he calls, rushing over to check on his friend. ‘are you alright, any injuries? how’s the baby?’

‘no, we’re fine,’ max answers distantly, and this is not the max floyd knows. he’s not here, in the moment. ‘the other ambulance, it just- helen was with us, but bloom-‘

bloom.

‘lauren?’ reynolds asks frantically. ‘lauren was with you?’

‘doctor reynolds!’ it’s candelario, on the other side of the ambulance. he runs over and sees she’s doing chest compressions on- someone- and nurse acosta is on the other side of her, intubating. ‘please, if i stop this she’ll- but the paramedics, i don’t know if they’ll know what to do, the metal went straight through her abdomen when she went flying!’

candelario is frantic, and he understands. he looks to where she’s gesturing and sees panicked emts working on someone else, and he can’t tell if it’s sharpe or lauren until one of them moves and he spots long braids. so that means-

like earlier, reynolds’ feet start taking him towards lauren without his brain even realizing it. her leg is broken, he notices, and he wonders why she needs to be intubated. oh, god, there’s a deep gash on her chest-

‘floyd,’ candelario gasps. ‘we’ve got her, but those paramedics might let helen die.’

that’s motivation enough to leave lauren. he can’t let helen, his friend since residency, die. not today, when max has already lost enough. he pushes an inexperienced tech out of the way and gets to work triaging her injuries.

‘blood pressure?’

‘60 over 40.’

‘heart rate?’

‘120 and climbing.’

‘she’s bleeding out,’ reynolds concludes, but it’s obvious. there’s a chunk of metal pierced straight through the lower right side of helen’s abdomen, and he has the sinking suspicion that it’s torn apart at least one kidney and her liver. she’ll need a transplant. ‘i don’t know what her blood type is, but-‘

‘ab positive,’ a voice says, and when floyd turns, it’s max. he’s no longer holding the baby, but he’s teary eyed and his hands are a little shaky. reynolds looks over to where they’re working on lauren and sees kapoor setting her leg. georgia is gone. ‘she’s ab positive,’ max repeats himself, and then is immediately sick into a bush next to him.

‘okay, good. thank you,’ reynolds says to max, hoping his voice sounds more comforting and less terrified than he feels. he motions for a paramedic to check on max and another to pay attention closely. ‘do not walk,’ he instructs the emt, ‘run. find georgia- the doa vic- and get her prepped for organ harvesting. crossmatch and find out what blood type she is- go!’

floyd thinks he can breathe for a split second as the kid runs off- helen is still breathing well and he’s sure he’s stopped the bleeding for now- until he hears candelario curse loudly.

‘talk to me,’ he demands as he runs over.

acosta makes a wild gesture. ‘her heart is beating, but she’s not oxygenating right. her lips- they’re turning blue.’

he’s right. candelario stopped her chest compressions minutes ago, and lauren’s pulse is still there. weak, but there. casey is still methodically squeezing the air bag that’s pumping air into bloom’s lungs and floyd’s hands hover over her and he freezes.

floyd reynolds never freezes. and now, when it matters most- when the life of his closest friend is on the line- he doesn’t know what to do. all he can do is stare down at lauren bloom, who knows him better than anyone else in the world, and watch her chest rise and fall disjointedly. reynolds is distinctly aware of everyone watching and waiting, but his hands still over her torso as he just watches, and thinks about all the times they screamed and fought and how many things he wants to tell her and how many times he’s woken up in her bed, head resting on her now caved-in chest.

her chest, he realizes suddenly. it’s caved in.

‘stop,’ he says to acosta.

the nurse looks positively furious. ‘no, are you kidding me? she’ll stop breathing and you’ll kill her, no-‘

‘casey, stop!’ reynolds is finally back in doctor mode and the authority in his voice makes acosta drop the bag immediately. he takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and leans down to press his ear to just over her heart. ‘muffled heart sounds,’ he breathes out. floyd sits up. ‘muffled heart sounds! there’s blood in her chest cavity, and it’s caved in. we’ve got to get it cleared out. get me a scalpel and some tubing, and for the love of god, someone get her a back board and a stretcher!’

the next few minutes are a blur as a flurry of activity happens. someone finally comes from the hospital with stretchers for lauren and helen. reynolds has his hands full when he makes an incision in lauren’s chest and a veritable river of blood comes gushing out. he’s so busy trying to stop that and explain to the surgeon in charge of saving helen what needs to be done and talk to the paramedics that he doesn’t even protest when candelario shoves him out of the way and sends bloom to the operating room with doctor prince instead of him.

‘doctor reynolds!’ the emt reynolds sent away before comes running into the emergency department. ‘she’s a tissue match for doctor sharpe- the dead on arrival vic. you get consent and they say they’ll have the organs prepped and ready to go.’

floyd nods in appreciation, then runs over to max. he’s standing just inside the ed doors, covered in blood that is not his own and looking like a lost man in his own hospital. he’s carrying the baby again, bouncing distractedly on his toes to keep her quiet. max’s eyes come into focus as reynolds comes into his field of vision and he blinks rapidly.

‘helen-?’ he asks, sounding choked up.

‘okay for now,’ reynolds assures him. ‘but max...she’s going to need a new liver, at least, and possibly another kidney.’

max stares at him as he puts it together. ‘and georgia’s a match.’

he looks horribly small. it makes floyd remember that for all of his easy confidence and self-assuredness, max is younger than him by a few good years.

‘you don’t have to say yes. i can call around, see if anyone can rush a liver here.’ reynolds really hopes he says yes. the probability of finding a match that quickly and that close is extremely low.

‘of course i do,’ max says, but he sounds more confused than bitter. ‘it’s helen. you have to save her, floyd, you have to.’

‘okay. of course we will, max,’ reynolds says, nodding to the paramedic who’s still hovering. go. he hates to leave max just standing there, but now that there’s a clear plan for saving helen, floyd needs to worry about lauren. ‘allen!’ he called to one of the ed nurses. ‘run to room 4 and tell them that they’ve got matched organs coming at them hot. and run to room 7 and tell doctor prince i’m scrubbing in.’

‘oh no, you’re not,’ candelario stops him dead. ‘you’ve gotta sit this one out, doctor.’

‘what?’ reynolds has to physically take a step back. ‘no, i’m not going to do that, it’s lauren in there, i’ve got to save her-‘

‘lauren will be okay. doctor prince is highly trained and knows what he’s doing.’

‘no, you don’t understand!’ floyd practically shouts. ‘she can’t- she’s got to be better than okay, candelario, and i need to be in there!’

‘floyd,’ the emergency doctor says softly, and she’s got this pitying look on her face. reynolds suddenly notices that the whole ed is watching him break down. ‘you cannot be the one to operate on bloom. if she died under your knife, you would never forgive yourself.’

there’s a conviction to candelario’s words that makes this cold feeling in his chest start to spread all over. sure, floyd has lost people in surgery before. but could he live with himself if it was bloom that he lost?

‘fine,’ he finally says, and the whole ed takes a collective breath.

candelario nods. ‘you can watch from the gallery,’ she concedes before running off to save someone else.

~

reynolds hates feeling like he’s doing nothing. being in the gallery and watching lauren in surgery is better than not doing or knowing anything, but his hands still itch and perform the motions that he would be doing in thin air, like a very macabre game of charades. every once in a while, he’ll ask prince how it’s going through the intercom, and prince will look up at him and give a thumbs up. but floyd knows better, and can see the concerned looks his nurses keep sending around, and knows that something isn’t right.

‘hey.’

the voice behind reynolds makes him jump, and he sighs deeply when he sees who it is.

‘hey,’ he says back as evie comes to sit next to him. she’s very deliberately trying not to look down at the surgery, but he can’t tell if it’s because she’s squeamish or because it’s her friend. ‘sorry i ran off back there.’

‘don’t be, you did what you needed to do,’ evie smiles. ‘are you alright?’

floyd sighs again. he’s really not. the shock of seeing helen sharpe nearly bleeding out, the fear of losing lauren… it’s been a lot. but evie looks pretty okay, and he doesn’t want to make her feel bad, so he just makes a pretty bad attempt at returning her smile. ‘yeah, i’ll be alright. just worried about bloom. and helen and max,’ he adds hastily at the end.

evie finally turns her eyes to the glass apprehensively. ‘will she be-? well not okay, but- will she live?’

not for the first time that evening, reynolds feels useless. ‘i don’t know,’ he admits. ‘i don’t know, and prince won’t tell me anything. i wish i was in there; at least i’d know what was going on.’

‘would it help to get out of here? or do you want to stay?’

leave? how could he leave? floyd can’t even imagine leaving lauren here, on a cold, metal table, while they try to piece her back together. he’d never forgive himself; it would be worse than if she died while he was operating on her. for all of the times they had fought, lauren had never, ever left his side. they could be fighting in an on call room one minute, but she would be standing by his side at a patient’s bed the next, backing him and his decisions. what kind of person would he be if he left her now? what kind of friend?

‘no,’ he finally says. ‘no, i’ve got to stay here.’

‘okay,’ evie says, rubbing his arm softly, but her voice sounds a hurt and reynolds knows he came off a little too harsh.

‘i’m sorry,’ reynolds tells her. ‘you can go home, if you want. there’s not really anything you can do here. i’d just better stay to make sure everything goes okay with bloom. and sharpe.’

evie smiles softly again and nods. ‘don’t stay too late, okay? you won’t be any help to anyone if you’re falling asleep at the operating table.’

then she’s kissing him on the top of his head and walking out of the tiny gallery, leaving him with nothing but the sounds of clinking metal and the horrible beep. beep. beep. of the heart monitor coming from the operating room. floyd doesn’t know how long he sits there. it feels like forever and much too long but he doesn’t know because he knows nothing about what’s happening down there.

the nurses’ faces are getting more and more concerned. prince isn’t giving him updates anymore. reynolds is truly afraid that he’s going to just give up and let lauren sit there until she dies.

‘i’m sorry floyd,’ prince eventually sighs, throwing down his scalpel. ‘her lung is just- shredded. she’ll need a new one.’

reynolds might be sick. truly; his stomach is churning and his heart is in his throat, pounding away and denying him any air. he knows prince is looking up at him, waiting for confirmation that he’s been heard, but all he does is stand there until he can’t take it anymore and runs out of the gallery and into the hallway.

he’s seconds away from hyperventilating- might actually be there, already- when someone pushes him down into a chair and instructs him to breathe. it’s max. he’s still got the baby in his arms, and reynolds wonders faintly why he’s here in the empty hallway instead of a waiting room somewhere when it hits him- he’s waiting on sharpe just like he’s waiting on bloom. god, lauren. where are they going to find a match for her so quickly? how will she get through this? all of the doubt does absolutely nothing for floyd’s panic, and his breath is coming out in horrible, ragged heaves now; it feels like nothing will calm him down until max literally shoves his baby into reynolds’ arms.

oh, he’s done this before. he held katherine as a baby, and nephews and nieces galore. floyd knows how to do this. two arms, support the head. baby luna squirms and what becomes important is not how lauren bloom is going to survive the night, but how floyd reynolds is not going to drop this poor child on her head. luna opens her eyes and he notices that she’s got the same blue eyes as max.

‘she’s so small,’ max says as they both look down at his child. ‘i don’t know how i’m going to do this if-‘ if helen doesn’t survive. ‘i was watching them do the transplant. like, watching them put parts of my wife into helen and i just…’ he sighs and rakes a hand down his face. ‘i just really hope neither of us lose anyone else tonight,’ max finally finishes.

reynolds doesn’t say anything, and keeps staring down at luna. she’s only been alive for five chaotic hours, but she doesn’t know that. she doesn’t know that the woman who gave birth to her is dead. she doesn’t know that the woman her father loves almost died. she doesn’t know that the woman who helped bring her into the world is dying. all she knows is that she’s warm and sleepy and being held by someone who may be grasping her a little too tightly. what floyd wouldn’t give to be so ignorant.

‘lauren needs a lung transplant,’ reynolds tells max. ‘i’ve got to be the one to do it. i have to- she’s gotta live. i have too much to tell her.’

max has an odd look on his face. reynolds can’t read it. ‘like what?’

‘what?’

‘what do you need to tell bloom?’ max asks again.

oh. does floyd even know? all evening, he’s been saying that lauren can’t die so he can tell her- what? ‘that i’m sorry,’ he decides. ‘i’m sorry for all the times we fought. and all of the times i said something i didn’t mean. i’m sorry that i didn’t see that she needed help, and that i wish i was a better friend to her.’

max leans back in his uncomfortable chair. he looks off down the hallway, towards the operating room. towards helen. ‘do you still love her?’

max goodwin is lucky that reynolds does not crush his baby in surprise. like, extremely lucky. ‘excuse me?’

‘lauren. do you still love her?’

‘no. no, i love evie,’ floyd defends. he’s a little hurt that max would ask that. doesn’t he see how in love he is with evie?

‘you can love evie and still love lauren,’ max points out easily. he’s still looking down the hall. ‘like, i love georgia, but i’m pretty sure i’m falling insanely in love with helen sharpe. it’s weird. there’s a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. what i thought i wanted isn’t actually what i wanted at all.’

reynolds is shocked. does max understand the implications of what he’s just said? possibly not, because all he does is take luna back from floyd, smile down at her a little sadly, and kiss her softly on her tiny head. floyd breaks himself out of his stupor to check his phone- he’s gotten a text from one of the pathologists.

FROM ‘doctor grace (lab)’:

(8:36 pm, UNREAD)
g goodwin 52% match for bloom. do we go ahead w transplant? possible lung from sinai west but no confirmation on crossmatch yet.

52%. only a 52% chance that lauren’s body won’t reject a lung from georgia. if floyd does the surgery and it doesn’t take, he could kill her. if he says to wait and see if the other lung is a match and it isn’t, she dies. even if the lung is a match but he waits too long, lauren dies. it’s his only option.

TO ‘doctor grace (lab):
(8:39 pm, SENT)
it’s a go.

now it’s reynolds’ turn to lean back in his chair. as he sighs, he shoves his hands into his pockets, and is surprised to feel- what is that, a ring? oh. the ring. he pulls it out to look at it and max whistles lowly at it. it brings reynolds back to what max had said just a minute earlier. does he still love lauren?

the weight of the question and the stress of the night and the fact that floyd reynolds does not know weighs down on his chest and as he gasps for air, he starts to cry.

~

surgery takes seven hours.

floyd scrubs his hands five times before. he says invictus twice. leanna, one of his nurses, goes to put on the usual reynolds surgery mix, and is surprised when he stops her and tells her to put on a different playlist. she no doubt notices the name of the mix, but blessedly says nothing.

(it’s the playlist of all of lauren’s favorites that he made her when they were- doing whatever it was they did. it’s called ‘lozza’s better than sex mix’. reynolds doesn’t think he’s lauren ‘lozza’ in- god, in ages.)

the surgery is mind numbing and exactly what reynolds needs. he probably could have done it in five and a half hours instead of seven, but he checks every suture, every stitch, and every airway before he closes up the gaping hole in lauren’s chest. it goes so well, and so easily, that if it were anyone else, floyd might’ve been slightly annoyed that he’d been the one called in to do this surgery. prince could have done it, or any other member of reynolds’ staff. but when they put lauren back in a hospital bed in the icu, floyd remembers why he did such a routine surgery.

lauren looks little. he knows she’s not, really, but she does. visiting hours have technically been over for ages, but no one tries to stop reynolds when he drags a chair into her room. he just has to make sure she’s breathing right, he tells himself. make sure she doesn’t get a fever or start rejecting this risky lung. every breath, no matter how intubated bloom is, is proof that floyd has done his job.

reynolds can hear max talking quietly to sharpe across the hall. she’s not awake, but it’s probably more for his sake than hers. he’ll just sit here by lauren for a little bit, then go check on helen, then go home. evie’s probably already asleep, so what’s the harm in staying just a little while longer?

~

‘floyd. babe, wake up.’

floyd reynolds knows he does not have fluorescent lighting in his house. who would have fluorescent lighting in their house? this is terrible, and call him spoiled, but it’s not what he wants to see first thing in the morning.

‘good morning, sleepy head.’

evie. yeah, now that seems right. the lighting is horrible, but she looks beautiful, and what the fuck is going on with this goddamn lighting?

‘i can’t believe you fell asleep here last night,’ evie laughs down at him. ‘you almost gave me a heart attack when i woke up this morning and you weren’t there.’

floyd rubs the sleep out of his eyes, and the night before comes rushing back to him. the lighting is blinding and his back aches and he’s wearing an odd combination of scrubs and his sunday best because he fell asleep at the hospital. where lauren bloom just had a lung transplant.

reynolds jumps to his feet, effectively startling evie, and runs to check the chart hanging on the end of the bed. bloom’s numbers look good. more than that, they look great. no fever, good blood oxygen levels, no sign of infection.

the lung is taking. the lung is taking.

he whoops loudly, laughing and giddy. lauren is going to live! evie is smiling at his enthusiasm and the nurse out in the hallway is giving him a dirty look, but floyd doesn’t care because he’s done it. bloom has done it!

‘oh my god,’ he gasps, and falls back into a chair. ‘i didn’t know if it would work. 52%!’

‘you did it,’ evie concedes graciously. she’s still smiling but her eyes look a little glossy.

‘lauren did it. i only did the surgery but lauren survived it.’

the room gets quiet for a moment before evie gestures to a bag on the floor. ‘i brought you some clothes,’ she says, sounding a little distracted. ‘i figured you’d want to change if you spent the night here.’

reynolds sighs. ‘evie,’ he says, standing and kissing her on the forehead. ‘you are the best.’

with that, evie’s expression goes back to normal. she smiles and gives reynolds a little wave and leaves, and as floyd looks back to lauren, he feels much better about everything.

~

it takes bloom five days to wake up, and reynolds spends as much time as he can between surgeries and evie and his family at her bedside.

(helen wakes up in ten hours, which is also great but makes floyd even more impatient. it’s gross to see her and max making shy little heart eyes at each other and it’s not fair that lauren isn’t awake to make fun of them for it with him.)

they move lauren out of the icu after it becomes clean that her body isn’t rejecting the lung. reynolds ditches his dinner with katherine to oversee the move, and tries to explain why without scaring her. his sisters love lauren, and floyd knows anything he tells kitty will go straight to annie who will tell becky who will tell momma, who will make them all come visit. lauren does not need 10 reynolds’ crowding her. what lauren needs is space, which is what he makes sure she gets.

bloom wakes up at 4:35 on friday afternoon.

floyd misses the quick twitch of her fingers. he almost misses the light groan, but he doesn’t miss the way her head turns towards his, and he looks up from his patient chart just in time to catch her eyes opening.

‘’loyd?’ she says, sounding confused, then groans again at the pain in her chest.

‘hey lozza.’ all he can do is smile, grin building then more she comes to. ‘hey, don’t rip your stitches.’

lauren brings one hand to her chest, feeling her skin under the thin hospital gown. ‘the crash. oh my god, helen- the baby?’

‘both okay,’ reynolds assures her, coming to stand by her side. ‘helen had to get a new liver and kidney, though. she’s awake and walking around, and they’re discharging her tomorrow.’

she tries to take a deep breath, but it hitches and reynolds can tell it hurts. lauren’s eyes well up as the entirety of her near death experience catches up to her, and her other hand comes up to grasp at her heart. ‘reynolds, my chest, why does it hurt so bad- i can’t-’

‘woah, hey, calm down,’ reynolds says, trying to be soothing. he watches the heart monitor she’s hooked up to as her heart rate slowly starts to lower. ‘i’ll tell you, but only if you promise to try and relax, okay? do you think you can sit up?’

lauren nods. floyd doesn’t know which question she’s answering, but knowing bloom, it’s both. so, he props her up on all the pillows he can find, and gently brings her hands away from where she’s precariously stitched together. reynolds tries not to think about how one of her small hands stays firmly grasped in his own as he sits on the edge of the hospital bed.

‘okay,’ he says once she’s comfortable. ‘keep breathing. what do you remember?’

‘just that- we got hit? i remember the impact, but not anything after that.’

‘an ed patient tried to run from the cops and stole an ambulance. he died on impact,’ reynolds confirms. she seems to take this well, so he continues. ‘georgia died on impact. max has a concussion, but he’ll be fine. the baby is doing great, no injuries at all. helen was by the doors in the back and she got flung out when the ambulance flipped- she had the two transplants and woke up with a nasty headache, but she’ll make a complete recovery.’

here, he pauses. it still scares him to think about lauren almost dying, and it hadn’t even happened to him. lauren fixes him with that look of hers, the one that means ‘get on with it’, and so he does.

‘you, uh. you went through the windshield,’ floyd explains, and her grip on his hand tightens ever so slightly. ‘your leg broke when you hit the ground, and your chest caved. we had to give you one of georgia’s lungs, but- lauren, breathe,’ he instructs her when her heart rate spikes again. reynolds doesn’t even realize it, but he’s started rubbing his thumb over her hand.

bloom follows his instruction and takes shaky breaths, which seems to reassure her. it certainly reassures him; he never thought the sound of someone breathing would be relaxing, but every breath lauren successfully takes proves that he did his job.

‘who did the transplant?’ she asks suddenly, and it catches floyd a little of guard.

‘i did.’

‘okay, good.’ it’s all she says. she doesn’t give any reasoning for her question, and instead looks out into the hallway, eyes going a little glossy.

reynolds lets her stay in her own little world for a little while. ‘mind if i listen to your breathing?’

lauren shakes her head and sits forwards, so he goes straight into doctor mode. he listens to her breathing and takes her pulse and makes her cough until she glares at him. reynolds is glad for it- if she can give him a death stare, then she’s already on the road to recovery. lauren stays quiet through it all until she cocks her head and gets that little line between her eyebrows. she’s listening for something.

‘are you listening to my playlist?’ she asks, hint of a teasing smile on her lips as he grabs her hand again. he doesn’t really know why, but it’s comforting to know that she’s warm and alive and still lauren.

oh. floyd had forgotten that it was playing softly from his phone- had been, in fact, for the whole time he’d been sitting at her side. ‘yeah. yeah, i am,’ he confirms a little shyly.

‘lozza’s better than sex mix.’ she’s definitely laughing at him now. ‘you kept that?’

he cocks an eyebrow at her. ‘you didn’t keep mine?’ loyd’s greatest hits of all time (no contention).

‘no,’ lauren answers defiantly, but her eyes drop and she starts to fiddle with the edge of the blanket he knows she’s lying.

‘ha!’ reynolds laughs, pointing a finger in her face. ‘i knew it!’

‘get that finger out of my face, or so help me god i’ll-’

‘you’ll what? you can’t even get out of bed.’

or i’ll bite it off!

‘what are we biting off?’

the new voice makes floyd disentangle his and lauren’s hands and jump off the bed. standing in the doorway to the tiny room is evie, looking a little amused and a little confused. reynolds doesn’t really know why, but he has the distinct feeling of being caught doing something he shouldn’t have been doing.

‘evie,’ lauren sighs, and though she looks glad to see her friend, there also another, indiscernible look in her eyes. ‘it’s so good to see you.’

‘you had us worried there for a minute,’ evie scolds her lovingly. she walks over and takes the hand that reynolds just dropped. it must still be warm with his body heat, he knows, and the look evie gives him makes floyd feel all kinds of weird. ‘you had floyd worried- he’s been here every day since the accident.’

‘reynolds!’ lauren admonishes him and he grins sheepishly.

‘hey,’ he says, raising his hands placatingly. ‘i had to make sure my best girl was alright, didn’t i?’

the phrasing is a little weird but it makes lauren blush anyways. when they were together, he always referred to her as his ‘best girl’. there’s no way evie would get it, but the phrase is obviously emotionally loaded and she clocks the way lauren is blushing, and floyd can tell she’s not really happy- lack of context or not. but then lauren’s asking her what she’s been up to, and the tense mood dissipates, and reynolds’ just happy that they get along.

~

he brings evie to sunday dinner again.

his sisters all give him wide eyed expressions when he walks through the front door, evie on his arm, but they all just busy themselves elsewhere and leave floyd to deal with momma himself. surprisingly enough, however, momma is cordial; she takes evie’s coat and lets her help set the table and engages in polite small talk until it’s time to eat.

then, at dinner, momma asks The Question.

‘now, floyd,’ she starts off easily enough, ‘how is lauren doing?’

everyone at the table stills.

‘lauren?’

‘yes, lauren bloom! kitty told me she was in an accident.’

floyd sends katherine a glare. kit, for her part, shrugs and gives him an apologetic look.

‘um, yeah, she’s good,’ he assures his mom. ‘she actually woke up the other day, which is progress. she had to have a lung transplant, but it looks like she’ll make a full recovery.’

his sisters and their husbands nod and trade relieved looks. floyd is so ready to drop this, but as everyone starts to eat again, momma starts talking again.

‘how wonderful!’ she says with a smile, and damn is she laying it on thick. ‘you know, you should invite her over to dinner one sunday. once she’s better, of course. it’s been so long since she came.’

evie turns to floyd, and he can tell that she’s hurt but trying not to show it. ‘lauren used to come to sunday dinner?’

before he can even defend himself, becky jumps in. ‘oh, all the time! i don’t think that poor girl had a home cooked meal before she came over.’

‘momma put ten pounds on her by the end of their first year of residency,’ annie laughs. ‘i’ve never seen someone destroy a plate of collards like lauren.’

and just like that, all of floyd’s family is sharing their favorite story about lauren bloom. evie stays quiet, eyes focused squarely on her plate as she pushes her mashed potatoes around. floyd almost misses the smug look on his mother’s face and he doesn’t know what hurts more: the fact that she’s trying to break him and evie up, the fact that his sisters are in on it, or the fact that it’s working.

evie doesn’t speak to him the rest of the night. floyd has had enough by the time they get home and can’t help the way he slams the front door just a little too hard.

‘what?’ evie asks, sounding exasperated.

floyd physically has to take a step back. ‘what? i should be the one asking you that. why are you being like this?’

‘why am i being like this?’ she’s shouting now. ‘are you kidding me, floyd? were you at the same dinner as me? i mean, what happened to ‘oh, i’ve never brought a girl to sunday dinner before’?’

‘i haven’t! i hadn’t.’

‘oh, so your mom and your sisters and their husbands were just making all that shit up about lauren? huh? she wasn’t at your house every sunday when you guys were residents?’

‘yeah, she was, but never in her capacity as my girlfriend! evie, lauren used to go days without eating. if i brought her to my mom’s, at least i knew she wasn’t going to drop dead on me,’ floyd tries to explain, lowering his voice and reaching out to evie.

evie snatches her hand away from him. ‘so she was your girlfriend?’

‘no. no, i misspoke. you know what i meant.’

‘no, i don’t,’ evie spits, and reynolds catches the tears that spill out of her eyes before she angrily wipes them away. ‘and i don’t think you know either.’

with that, she grabs her purse and moves for the door.

‘hey, woah, where are you going?’ floyd asks quickly.

evie sends him the dirtiest look he’s ever seen her give anyone. ‘home,’ she mutters, sidestepping him and practically stalking out of the apartment. ‘to my apartment. don’t bother calling.’

the slam of the door shakes the frame and makes reynolds’ soul quake. he just stands there in his front hallway, not really sure what he should do. as he hunches his shoulders and shoves his hands into his pockets, an unusually empty space greets his right hand. he can’t really place why this is odd until he realizes: for the first time in weeks, floyd reynolds did not put the engagement ring in his pocket.

~

floyd texts and calls evie all monday, but gets no response.

he’s a little afraid that if he walks up to her while they’re at work, she’ll slap him in front of everyone, so he doesn’t do that. but he does text her apologies all day and he calls her when she doesn’t come home. practically all of evie’s things are at his place, and while he knows that she still does have her own apartment, he’s not really sure how she’s sustaining herself off what little she must have at her place.

he sees her tuesday at the hospital across the atrium. he’s ordering a coffee from ella at the cafe when they lock eyes through the little pickup window; her gaze is steely but also a little broken, and floyd doesn’t know if that look means she’ll still punch him if he gets too close, so he doesn’t try. yet. he gets an emergency surgery which throws a small wrench in his apology efforts, but on wednesday morning he makes his move.

reynolds waits for evie outside her office.

‘hey,’ he tells her, trying to give her his best impression of max’s patented ‘i fucked up, please don’t hate me’ look.

evie looks around, clocks everyone staring, beckons him into the small office and shuts the door.

‘i’m sorry,’ floyd says before she can even open her mouth. ‘about my family and how i yelled at you. things got really out of hand, and i’m sorry for getting mad at your totally valid questions.’

evie stares at him for solid second before she all but falls into her office chair and buries her head in her hands. ‘me too,’ she groans, eyebrows knitting together. ‘oh, i don’t know why i got so upset! it’s just- all the stuff about lauren, and- i don’t know, floyd, i know you two used to be so- whatever- i guess i just didn’t realize how serious you’d been. you’ve got all those inside jokes and the nicknames and the mixtapes and i guess all the time you’ve been spending with her made me realize that we don’t really have any of that.’

‘of course we do,’ reynolds assures her, and when he reaches across the desk to grab her hands she doesn’t flinch away. ‘we’ve got a song, don’t we?’

‘yeah,’ evie admits begrudgingly.

‘and we have routines, yeah? favorite restaurants and favorite sides of the bed. i know not to drink the last of the coffee, you know i’ll always want the last piece of bacon,’ he lists, and evie is finally starting to smile. she looks confused when he pulls his hands away, but gasps when she sees the small velvet box that he pulls out of his pocket and places on the desk. ‘plus, you’ve got another advantage over her right now.’

‘oh, floyd,’ evie says, hand coming her her chest.

‘you gonna open it?’ he asks, heart hammering in his chest.

there’s a pause.

‘no.’

the look on reynolds’ face must be comical. ‘no?’

evie looks up at him, eyes a little watery. ‘no. i want to marry you, of course i do. but no to this proposal- you don’t get to whip out a ring to win an argument and prove a point. ask me again some other time and i’ll say yes, okay?’

floyd really doesn’t know what’s going on right now. he feels a strange mixture of sadness and relief, but which emotion is directed at what is a mystery to him. ‘uh...okay. so- so you’re saying no?’

‘for right now,’ evie nods.

‘for right now. got it.’

floyd reynolds is a smart man, he swears. but this? totally not what he was expecting and he really can’t process it.

‘floyd.’ evie’s laughing, so that’s at least a good thing. he thinks. he totally can't tell at this point. ‘ask me in a month. maybe two. let’s get our feet under us, let’s plan a little. i will absolutely say yes to you then. okay?’

planning. that makes sense to him. floyd likes plans. he can do plans. ‘that may actually be the hottest thing you’ve ever said to me,’ he says, finally smiling.

evie scrunches her nose. ‘i know. i love you.’

‘i love you too.’ reynolds stands, pockets the ring box, and kisses evie softly.

‘kick ass and save some lives today, floyd reynolds,’ evie says against his lips, ‘and i will see you later at home.’

if floyd smiled any bigger, his face would split open.

~

lauren bloom gets discharged a week later. she does not come back to work at new amsterdam. floyd only sees her sparingly, when she comes to the weekly new am family dinners that iggy throws. eventually, she stops coming.

a month and a half later, floyd reynolds proposes to evie garrison. (again.) she says yes. his mother doesn’t approve and evie suspects it now, but he really couldn’t care less. (it only hurts a little.)

three months after that, max goodwin calls floyd into his office. he’s not surprised to find helen sharpe there, but he is a little stunned to see lauren.

she’s holding luna, legs folded up underneath her and hair hanging down long into her face so that she doesn’t see him when he walks through the door. the look on her face- she looks absolutely joyous and it makes floyd lose his breath a little. he doesn’t really know why.

(he has a horrible inkling, but the second the thought crosses his mind, he pushes it away.)

max clocks him come in, and he looks at helen not as subtly as he probably thinks he does. helen raises her eyebrows back at him, and floyd gives them both a look.

‘hey, you,’ he finally says to lauren, who looks up startled. ‘it’s been a few weeks.’

she smiles back at him. she looks good; she looks healthy and free and alive and if he didn’t know it was there, floyd would have completely missed the scar that sits low on her chest. she’s obviously been spending time out in the sun, because the little thin line of scar tissue only sits out amongst her freckles because the rest of her is a bit tan.

‘hey.’ even though lauren’s face is soft, her voice is strong. ‘yeah, i went to washington, saw a few college friends.’

‘i hope you didn’t exert yourself too much,’ reynolds chides her, back in doctor mode and also a little worried. ‘you’re still not supposed to be doing anything strenuous.’

floyd.’ the roll of bloom’s eyes is practiced and familiar, and despite the fondly exasperated look on her face, floyd is glad he pulled it out of her. ‘i barely hiked. and i didn’t even bungee that much.’

‘woman, you are going to be the death of me.’ he holds out his hands. ‘give me my niece.’

max has an amused look on his face. ‘actually,’ he says as lauren gently hands floyd luna, ‘that’s what we wanted to talk to you about. i think my mom is going to disown me if we don’t get luna christened in an actual church soon.’

max. what he’s trying and horribly failing to as you is this: will you be luna’s godparents?’ helen asks with a smile, finally jumping into the conversation.

‘what?’

the fact that they say it simultaneously is kind of funny, but the sentiment is real.

‘are you joking? have you ever met me? i would be a horrible godparent,’ lauren says incredulously.

‘lauren, you’d be a great godmother,’ max says reassuringly, in that oh-so-confident way of his. ‘reynolds, not the reaction i was expecting out of you but we’re rolling with it.’

‘no,’ floyd says, bewildered. ‘i mean yes, of course i’ll be luna’s godfather. you just caught me off guard.’

he looks down at the tiny human in his arms, who is currently falling asleep. godfather! to this tiny thing! the thought makes reynolds smile, and he looks over to lauren. she’s watching him with an odd expression on her face, but eventually, she nods too.

‘okay, yeah. yes, i’ll be her godmother,’ lauren tells them, and the sentence itself is emotionally loaded, because soon she’s smiling too. ‘but i’m not catholic, i’m going to be useless at an actual ceremony.’

‘don’t worry, i’ll teach you,’ floyd says distractedly as he holds out a finger of luna to sleepily grasp hold of. ‘lots of standing and sitting and kneeling.’

he misses the way lauren’s eyes glaze over slightly, and how max looks from lauren, to him, and back to lauren, then purses his lips slightly.

‘alrighty then,’ max says, looking over to helen. ‘when’s it gonna be, again?’

helen tsks at him. ‘two weeks. at st. patrick’s.’

‘two weeks,’ reynolds says, quirking an eyebrow at lauren. ‘think we can do it?’

that’s all it takes before the lauren bloom he knows and loves is back. ‘oh, you’re on!’

floyd tells evie that he’s going to be luna’s godparent. he does not tell her that lauren will be one as well. she’s still a little touchy about the whole bloom subject, and it doesn’t help that every time they leave sunday dinner, momma asks when they’re going to bring lauren along too. evie makes sure to wave goodbye with her left hand each time, diamond on full display.

(thank god none of his sisters have told her it’s not the family ring. floyd actually thinks that annie and becky threatened katherine not to tell. he can feel them kicking one another under the table every time momma and evie have a tense exchange.)

anyways, evie thinks it’s so cute that luna’s getting christened, and buys her more gifts than a four-nearly-five month old infant could ever need. the dining room table in reynolds’ apartment has turned into a veritable gift wrapping station, like the kind you see at macy’s during christmas. it’s weird to be having dreams of wintertime in the dead of summer (then again, maybe not), but floyd’s dreams recently have been of little kids ripping the wrapping paper off of toys around a christmas tree. he tries not to read into the fact that evie’s never in these dreams.

unfortunately for floyd’s great plan to keep lauren out of evie’s christening extravaganza, max and helen send out actual invites for the thing. invites. they’re adorable and they’ve got a really nice picture of luna smiling up at the camera on them but they also read ‘godparents floyd reynolds and lauren bloom’ across the top in that horrible white person simply southern cursive font that floyd just knows helen did not pick out.

evie comes stalking in his office not an hour after the invites go out. reynolds knows why she’s there and tries to innocently beat her to the punch.

‘hey babe,’ he says casually despite her somewhat pissed look. he raises the invite. ‘did you see these? aren’t they cute?’

‘did you know?’ evie asks, ever straightforward.

floyd fights to keep his expression neutral. ‘know what?’

‘about bloom. c’mon, did you?’

he weighs his options quickly. one: he tells her the truth. evie gets mad. he sleeps on the couch for a while. two: he lies. evie is mad, but not for as long.

‘no,’ reynolds says easily. ‘of course not, or i would have told you.’

beat.

‘sorry,’ evie finally groans, sitting in one of the chairs across from his desk. ‘i just get so in my head. i didn’t know lauren was catholic?’

‘she’s not,’ he confirms, then pretends to mull it over. ‘i wonder if she’ll know what’s going on or if she’ll need help.’

seed: planted.

evie looks off into the distance. ‘it’s quite a big deal,’ she muses. then she brightens up like she’s had a wonderful idea. ‘hey, i’ve got that finance meeting tomorrow night. maybe you should have her over, help her with the latin or whatever.’

bam!

‘the catholic church doesn’t do services in latin anymore,’ floyd laughs, ‘but there are other things she’ll have to learn. that’s a great idea, i’ll ask her.’

evie grins, then says something about some meeting or spreadsheet or maybe both, and is gone. the second she’s not in the room, reynolds wonders if he should feel bad for lying to her and essentially manipulating her. then he feels bad for not feeling bad. he tries not to think about it, and instead texts lauren.

TO ‘lozza bloom’:
(11:32 am, SENT)
tomorrow: you, me, too much kung pao chicken. crash course in catholicism/christenings. you down?

the reply is almost instantaneous:

FROM ‘lozza bloom’:
(11:33 am, UNREAD)
wow reynolds, you really do know how to show a girl a good time

(11:34 am, UNREAD)
lemme check my calendar, i’m totes busy between having no job and zero tinder matches

it’s so totally lauren that it makes floyd laugh out loud. he’s forgotten that she texts like a middle schooler, or like his mom thinks young people text. reynolds wonders what she does with her days now that she’s not working before discovering he doesn’t really care. she’s coming to spend the night with him, and that’s all that matters.

~

if floyd reynolds has more energy the next day, no one calls him out on it.

well, ella the barista does tell him he looks ‘invigorating’, but he doesn’t know if that’s a callout, a compliment, or just an observation. it doesn’t matter. five can’t come fast enough, and the day seems to move slower and slower the closer the clock gets to when reynolds can respectfully leave. then there’s traffic all up second avenue so he ends up getting out of his cab at fourteenth street and just walking, and by the time floyd gets home, lauren is sitting outside his apartment door, bags of chinese food at her feet.

‘you moved the spare key,’ she pouts in lieu of a greeting, and reynolds just laughs and shrugs.

‘gave it to evie,’ he explains as he shoulders open the door.

bloom just hums and follows him in. she still knows where everything is in the kitchen, and they move around each other like clockwork as they get food and drinks and move everything over to the big couch in the living room.

‘hey, so what are you doing with your days, anyways?’ reynolds asks her as he slurps on a noodle.

lauren shrugs. ‘nothing, really. i read a lot, go to the park. normal people stuff, i guess.’

‘you aren’t bored?’

‘no,’ she laughs. ‘i’m bored out of my mind.’

‘but no job.’ it’s a statement, not a question. he stops eating to look at her, wanting to read into every expression and movement.

bloom stills, then puts down her chopsticks. ‘no.’

‘ever... i dunno, thought about coming back? to new amsterdam.’

‘no.’

‘no, you’ve never thought about it or no-’

no, floyd. i’m not coming back,’ lauren says, and the air is suddenly charged.

floyd missed this. the fighting. he can’t really say why. he and evie almost never fight, and it’s such a weird thing to miss about a person.

‘why?’ he challenges, because that is what he’s good at. ‘why not, lauren?’

‘because i don’t trust myself, okay?’ she cries, and for a moment he’s taken aback. that’s not the reason he was expecting. ‘i don’t trust myself.’

‘why?’ this time, the question comes from floyd’s chest. he sounds so confused. he is so confused.

lauren just stares at him, and he’s afraid for a moment that she’s just going to leave. then, she takes a deep breath and fiddles with her chopsticks. ‘the emergency department is a crazy place,’ she starts. ‘everyone’s got to be at their best, one hundred percent of the time. i’m afraid that if i relapse- people get hurt when ed doctors aren’t at their best, one hundred percent, and you know it.’

reynolds doesn’t know what comes over him, but he sets aside their plates and grabs her hands. she looks a little stunned by it.

‘lauren bloom,’ he says, and though she looks a little distracted, her eyes lock on to his. ‘i have known you for ten years. if you want to do something, you go for it. you’ve always been like that. you are completely capable and totally qualified to do this job. i’ve seen you work on patients, and i know what you did for max and georgia. if you could do that at your lowest, imagine what you can do now.’ floyd looks down at her hand. he tries not to think about how their hands slot together perfectly. he seems to not do a lot of thinking around her. ‘i’m of the firm belief that you were born to be a doctor,’ he continues. ‘you don’t have to go and ask for your job back this week, or anything. just promise me you’ll think about it.’

lauren stares at him for at least a minute. he tries not to fidget. ‘okay,’ she finally promises. ‘i’ll think about it.’

‘thank you.’

they stay like that, quiet, while they both consider what just happened.

‘alright, aren’t i supposed to be learning, like, latin?’ lauren asks slyly, letting go of his hand.

for the second time in as many days, floyd laughs at the statement. ‘there’s no latin anymore!’

they have another catch up catechism the next day, and the next, and the one after that. each time, reynolds remembers something he loved about being with lauren; she’s spontaneous, she’s brash, she makes him laugh. there’s a laundry list of things that pull him right back into her and he feels horrible for it. he holds evie tighter, kisses her longer, does whatever he can to make the storm of emotions within him calm for even just a second. it works well enough, and floyd is still positive that he could marry evie and be blissfully happy for the rest of his life.

until he’s not really so certain anymore.

about a week after they’ve started their little baptism bible study lessons, max pages everyone down to the ed. no one’s really sure why, but there are people from every department there. evie comes over to grab reynolds’ hand, and helen looks excited, so it must be something big.

‘everyone! hey, quiet down!’ max calls out, grin wide. the change is instantaneous; even the patients are listening in. ‘i’ve got some big news. exciting news. think you’ll love it.’

‘get on with it!’ iggy shouts, which gets a laugh from most everyone.

‘alright, alright.’ max waves him off. ‘i want everyone to give a big, warm, new am fam welcome back to everyone’s favorite ed doctor (sorry, candelario)... lauren bloom!’

there are gasps and cheers and lauren pops up from where she must have been hiding under the nurses’ station, and floyd has the air knocked out of his chest in a heartbeat. she’s in scrubs, honest to god scrubs, the fun kind with the little dogs printed on them, and she looks so happy, grin splitting her face, eyes and nose scrunched- and she looks beautiful.

floyd reynolds is distinctly aware that people- specifically evie, his fiancee- are speaking to him, but he runs to sweep lauren off her feet and spin her around.

‘i told you that you didn’t have to decide this week,’ he tells her, but his grin matches hers, so no one is really confused on where he stands on her being back.

he’s put her back on solid ground, but her arms stay wrapped around his neck. ‘i know, i know.’ she rolls her eyes, and his stomach does a corresponding loop de loop. ‘but you were right- i was born to do this. i’ve got a support system and people i love and trust to help me now, so… why draw out the inevitable, right? i’m always going to come back to this.’

it’s a vague statement, pretty ambiguous, and although he knows she’s talking about medicine, floyd is content to believe, if only for a moment, that she’s talking about him.

then evie comes up, grin plastered on, to congratulate lauren, and reynolds is pushing back and away from her as quickly as he can. lauren’s smile is just as faked, and floyd can’t help but wonder when these two friends became something less friendly. thankfully for reynolds’ sanity, bloom is called away to say hello to someone else, and he takes evie to a very expensive dinner to take her mind off of it.

~

working in the same hospital as lauren bloom again feels right. floyd knows that really, there’s no innate difference at all whether bloom was there or not, but he can tell. maybe it’s the fact that lauren’s little network of nurse spies gets up and running again, or the fact that every once in a while, the new am department heads group chat will ding with a new meme about disruptive patients. add to that the fact that he’s is seeing her after work at least every other day to practice for this christening, and floyd reynolds is surrounded by her.

he’s getting dressed for the ceremony when he notices that he suit jacket smells like her. smells like her! strawberry and vanilla, and something a little almondy. evie walks in on his sniffing his sleeve, and though she looks a little closed off, laughs when he says he thinks she got some of her almond butter on it.

‘sure you wanna do this?’ she asks him in the cab to the church.

he gives her a face. ‘of course. why wouldn’t i?’

‘well,’ evie says all too nonchalantly as she takes his hand. ‘if anything were to happen to max, god forbid, it would be up to you and lauren to raise luna. you sure you’re ready to take that on with her?’

reynolds feels damned if he says yes. he’s definitely damned if he says no. all the while, the cold hardness of the ring on evie’s finger presses into his. it’s a reminder, he realizes, and suddenly, he’s not so sure of anything.

the christening goes well; half of the hospital must be there. floyd’s family is there, as are max’s parents (duh), and georgia’s (a little awkward). lauren remembers when to sit and stand and kneel and what to say when. they each do their ‘yeah we’ll take care of the kid’ vows, and when floyd holds luna for the priest to pour the water over her, she doesn’t cry a bit. all the while, max and helen look on from the front row, looking every bit of the ‘proud parent’ role. are they dating yet? reynolds can’t tell. he doubts there’d be any change in their behavior even if they were.

afterwards, everyone makes floyd and lauren take a million pictures. with the baby, no max and helen. no baby, with max and helen. baby and just helen. baby and just max. baby, and max, and helen, and the priest. just reynolds and bloom. it’s exhausting, and in half of the pictures, it looks like luna is their child.

‘look at that, we look like proud parents,’ lauren laughs, pointing to a picture someone took on her phone.

‘we essentially are. if anything happens to max or sharpe, it’s you and me, baby,’ floyd shoots back, mirroring evie’s earlier sentiment. he’s kind of interested in what she’ll say.

bloom groans. ‘oh god. i think i’ll stick to just being auntie lozza for right now.’

that makes him laugh. ‘c’mon, you’d better go say hi to my mom. she’s been begging for you at sunday dinner every week for months, now. you’d better come up with a good excuse for why you aren’t coming.’

lauren stick her tongue out at him, in full lauren fashion, and bounds off to talk to his mom and all of his sisters. evie’s there, so reynolds just assumes that they’re talking about wedding things and other girl stuff, and leaves them be.

that’s mistake number one.

mistake number two is not asking evie why she’s so quiet on the way home. he probably makes countless more from the second they leave the church to the moment they get home, but these are the big two.

floyd lets himself into the apartment, whistling something tuneless, evie trailing behind him. he kicks off his shoes, hangs his jacket over the armrest of the sofa, and slides on socked feet into the kitchen.

‘do you want a beer?’ he asks her as he rifles through the fridge. there’s no answer, so he asks again, and when evie doesn’t reply a second time, he sticks his head around the corner to look for her.

she’s standing in the doorway still, and twisting the ring on her finger. she looks thoughtful, and like she’s about to cry.

‘is this the family ring?’ she finally asks him.

the stare at each other for a moment.

floyd shakes his head. ‘no. why?’

a few tears slip out of her eyes at the admission. ‘i heard your mom mention a family ring to doctor kapoor earlier. said it was simple, and any reynolds son could use it with their mother’s permission. this isn’t simple, floyd.’

if there was a question there, floyd reynolds didn’t hear it. he stays still, and quiet.

‘did she not give her blessing?’ evie sobs, and as he’s about to answer, she holds up a hand. ‘don’t answer that, she obviously didn’t.’

‘evie,’ floyd says soothingly. ‘it doesn’t matter if my mom gave her approval or not, okay? i love you, and that’s what matters.’

‘no.’ she shakes her head. ‘you need your mom’s approval for everything. you won’t even miss sunday dinner. but you don’t need it for the biggest question of your life?’ she shakes her head again. ‘i knew she didn’t really like me, but i didn’t know how much until today. she was so warm with her, floyd.’

‘with who?’ he has the sinking suspicion that he already knows who.

‘oh, c’mon,’ evie all but hisses. ‘with lauren. your mom loves her. and anyone with eyes can see you’re not over her.’

floyd takes a step towards her, but she steps back, like a defensive animal. ‘evie, please,’ he begs. ‘of course i’m over her.’

‘i should have known better. i saw it at the start, but i thought you’d move past it. i told myself that i wouldn’t be like georgia goodwin, or like akash panthaki,’ she laughs bitterly, staring at the ground and letting her tears fall. ‘i said i would know better, would see the signs. and i did. but i ignored them. i really didn’t want to love someone who loved someone else.’

‘i love you!’ floyd insists, because it’s true. he does love her.

she shakes her head and takes another step back. ‘you don’t mean it.’

‘i do. evie, i do.’ floyd can see where this is going, and it scares him. he tries to reach out to her.

‘you think you mean it,’ evie corrects quietly. floyd almost misses how she twists the engagement ring off her finger easily. two steps is all it takes before the ring is pressed into his chest. ‘and that’s even worse.’

the door slams so loudly that it drowns out floyd’s cries for her to come back, for them to talk about this. he freezes, listening to the clack clack clack of her heels through the walls as she walks away from him. when he can’t hear them anymore, he looks down at the ring in his hand, sinks to his knees, and begins to cry.

~

he only gets out of bed the next day by the grace of god. floyd comes home to find that all of evie’s belongings are gone and somehow, that’s worse than if they had just sat in the apartment for weeks. it means that she was ready to move everything at a second’s notice.

reynolds goes through the motions for the next week. people know, and they’re worried about him. he can tell. max keeps inviting him along to do things with luna, and vijay kapoor brings him sweets and gives him sad smiles. there’s a story going around that evie garrison dumped floyd reynolds because he’s in love with someone else. floyd thinks sharpe may be threatening people over it, because when he walks in a room, all conversation stops and the subject gets changed. that, he can handle. what hurts is the pained and lost look lauren gets when she’s in the room for it.

three weeks later, and the story has changed. apparently, not even helen sharpe can dish out enough evil stares to stem the flow of this rumor; by the end of the day, the whole hospital’s heard it once, twice, and three times over. the story is now this: evie garrison dumped floyd reynolds because he’s still in love with lauren bloom.

reynolds doesn’t hear it at first. he’s in surgery all day, but he does notice that more people than usual come to sit in the gallery and watch. floyd does great, the cardiac bypass surgery going as routine as possible, and he’s just washed off when he notices lauren stalking towards him down the hallway.

‘hey, bloom,’ he sighs. that face usually means he’s done something wrong. ‘what’s up?’

‘don’t ‘what’s up’ me! are you kidding me?’ she hisses, and floyd can’t help but notice that the whole hallway is trying to listen in as covertly as possible.

‘...no?’

it’s lauren’s turn to sigh, and she pinches the bridge of her nose. ‘have you heard what everyone’s saying?’

reynolds is confused now, and shakes his head. bloom looks both ways down the hall, then pulls him into an empty exam room and locks the door.

‘everyone’s saying that evie went to caroline sykes crying when it all went down. they’re saying that evie said the reason she broke up with you was because you’re still in love with me. is it true?’

floyd reynolds might actually be sick. he stares at lauren, wide eyed and caught off guard.

‘is it?’ she asks again, stronger than before.

he doesn’t know what to say. he could lie, but she’d see right through him. she’s always had that ability.

so reynolds nods.

it’s dark in the exam room, but half of lauren’s face is illuminated by the lights outside. he can see how her lips part in a gasp and how she blinks at him, her weight shifts backwards as if she were pushed by some unseen force, but she doesn’t want to take a step away to balance herself. she looks- scared. like she did months ago when she was waking up from that surgery.

lauren takes a deep breath, like she’s preparing herself. ‘and do you?’

floyd doesn’t know what to tell her. he’s not really sure himself, but he’s pretty sure he does. they have time to figure it out. ‘when you came back that first day,’ he starts slowly, ‘the sight of you knocked the breath out of my lungs. i didn’t know why. then- then after the accident, i couldn’t focus, couldn’t sit still because i didn’t know if you were gonna be okay. doctor prince was the one who tried to put your lung back together, and he wouldn’t let me in the or, which was terrifying. and max- he’s the one who calmed me down- he said there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone.’

bloom opens her mouth to say something, but reynolds is on a roll now.

‘and then, after. i listened to your playlist on repeat for days because i thought it might help you wake up faster. the first thing you said when you woke up was my name, and- i don’t know, lauren. i spent more time with you than i did at my own house because i wanted to but i didn’t know why. it felt like- like before, with the nicknames and the mixtapes and the spontaneity. then you left, and that hurt, but you came back and we fell right back into it like nothing had ever happened. evie saw it. even when i didn’t.’

floyd has never seen lauren bloom speechless. yet here she stands, mouth agape, not saying anything.

‘but- your plan, you want what your family has and you know i can’t give you that, floyd, you know it,’ lauren finally says. her hand flitters to her chest, grabbing at her scrubs like it still hurts to breathe. ‘i can’t- i won’t,’ she repeats.

‘i don’t care,’ reynolds insists, and he puts his whole body into those three words, willing her to believe it. ‘i don’t care anymore.’

‘bullshit.’ she’s angry now. floyd doesn’t know when she started crying, but it hurts to see the tears that wet her cheeks. ‘don’t say that, it’s bullshit, of course you do. you’re not being serious. you have to, otherwise what’s the point? what was the point of all the times you ended things with me because i didn’t fit into your plan for how your life is gonna look in ten years?’

lauren’s words feel like a gut punch. what was the point of all those heartbreaks? of all the fighting, the making up, the running back into each other’s arms?

‘i won’t do it,’ lauren shrugs, shaking her head resolutely. she doesn’t necessarily sound mad anymore, just resigned and very, very sad. ‘i won’t let myself fall into the playlists and the nicknames and the habits and come back to you. i won’t let you break my heart again, floyd reynolds.’

floyd doesn’t know what to say. his heart feels shattered and his lungs are in his throat and he really feels like he might fall over. lauren just hastily wipes her eyes, and is at the door so quickly that he doesn’t have time to try and persuade her to stay. there’s a moment, when she opens the exam room door, where lauren turns back to look at him. she’s backlit and shrouded in light and she looks so goddamn beautiful that reynolds doesn’t know how he could have been so stupid. it’s so obvious, he’s so horribly in love with her in that messy, terrifying, and all encompassing way that lauren taught him to be, and now he’s losing her again.

then she’s gone, and the door to the exam room closes, and he’s left in the dark. the smell of strawberry shampoo hangs in the air as he tries to steady his heart. his chest aches, and for the first time in a long time, floyd reynolds doesn’t know what to do.