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On Call

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Andy Sachs woke up on a lumpy sofa, and wondered where in the hell her clothes had gone. Well, it wasn’t the first time.

Squinting in the frankly aggressive morning light, she spied the naked form of a woman under the gray blanket that had been her bedding for the past two weeks since moving from Boston. Snatching it back to cover her severe lack of modesty, Andy dropped a consolation cushion gently on the sleeping woman’s ass. If she’d had time, she might have spent some time dwelling on what a nice ass it was.

The dropping of the cushion was enough to wake the sleeping guest, and Andy pulled the blanket tightly around herself with morning-after self-consciousness. God, tequila had a lot to answer for.

Looking sleepy and dazed, the woman pulled her head out from under what might be a discarded black shirt and Andy was momentarily stunned at the sight of dazzling silver hair. That she did not remember from her admittedly very fuzzy memories of the night before.

A glance at her watch was enough to startle Andy back into action; so much for being on time. She’d almost made it around the couch when the woman on the floor raised one arm and threw Andy’s missing bra at her.

“Oh, thanks,” Andy muttered. This was just so much easier when one-night stands were polite enough to slink out before dawn. The woman sat up, not caring about her naked state at all, and opened her mouth to speak. Andy knew she had to head off any small talk before awkward chatter over a bowl of Fruit Loops cost her any more time.

“You have to go,” she stated, being as nice as she could force herself to be.

“Or you could join me down here, pick up where we left off?”

The woman’s confidence was undaunted by Andy’s attempt to kick her out, which was actually kind of impressive. Looking at her properly for the first time, Andy had to concede that a few extra years on the clock had done her date no harm—the woman was completely stunning.

“I’m late,” Andy protested, “which isn’t what you wanna be on your first day at work.”

The woman stood, stretching with the grace of a ballet dancer, before effortlessly collecting her discarded clothes. She began to dress while holding conversation, not exactly friendly in her tone, making Andy feel like she was being quietly interrogated.

“So, you actually live here?”

Slipping her skirt back around her waist, the woman didn’t seem bothered by Andy’s eyes on her. Andy, meanwhile, was mentally high-fiving herself on excellent taste in one-time eye candy.

“No,” Andy responded, wincing at the sort-of lie. “Yes. Kind of?”

That didn’t impress the woman, who was buttoning a black silk blouse and tucking it neatly into her charcoal skirt. Not a wrinkle on her clothes, Andy noticed, dreading to think what state her own t-shirt and pants from last night were in. Sweeping her eyes over the room, the woman didn’t seem entirely impressed by what she saw.

“Well the house has excellent features. With the right designer, you could—“

“It was my mother’s house. I’ve only been here a few days. That’s why there’s dust everywhere.” Andy had seen the accusation in her visitor’s eyes, and felt some bizarre need to defend herself.

“Oh. Well, I’m sorry,” very little in the woman’s expression suggested that she was actually sorry about anything, or even familiar with the concept. Realizing the assumption, Andy waded in to correct it.

“Thanks. Um, I mean, my mom isn’t dead. She, uh, well, we don’t have to do this.”

“After last night,” the woman interjected, “we can do almost anything, I would think.” There was a sparkle of excitement in her eyes that Andy found incredibly tempting. Still, the clock was against her.

“We don’t have to do the details, the small talk, pretending we care? Look, I’m going upstairs to shower, okay? And when I get back you won’t be here. So uh, goodbye…”

“…Miranda.” She filled in helpfully.

“Goodbye, Miranda.”

With a cool smile, Miranda collected the last of her possessions, finishing by slipping some fabulous sunglasses over her eyes.

“It was nice to meet you…”

“Andrea. Well, everyone calls me Andy.”

“Andrea,” Miranda replied, twisting the name into something sort of French-sounding, something Andy hadn’t heard since her time in Europe.

Backing away, Andy motioned once more towards the stairs and the shower she needed to take. Thankfully, Miranda seemed to take the hint and breezed past Andy and straight out of the front door.

Before the slamming of the door had stopped echoing, Andy had made it to the bathroom, ready to set a new world record for the fastest getting-ready in history.

~~~~~~~~~

She drove along the expressway with the CD player blasting out Rilo Kiley, applying her makeup before she began encountering the stoplights of Monday morning rush hour. Though she was a little concerned that her blood alcohol might be a tad high, she felt totally in control of the mud-splattered blue Discovery that had seen her through the last two years of med school and the cross country drive to take up her residency in this city that had never felt like home.

Seattle was pretty though, and as if to laugh at the stereotype, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Andy had only been back twice since her early childhood, though the cityscape was familiar enough. Drumming her hands on the wheel in time to the music, she realized that she hadn’t needed directions to get to the hospital. Perhaps because it had been a second home to her before kindergarten age, she felt drawn in the right direction almost on a gut level. Which was ridiculous, the scientist in her knew, but nonetheless she didn’t need to check more than a few street signs before she was pulling into the vast hospital parking lot at Seattle Grace.

~~~~~~~~~

Mortified to discover the first presentation had begun without her, Andy sneaked in to join the group as quietly as possible. A short man with an unconvincing set of hairplugs and wire-rimmed spectacles was addressing the group of Interns, all still dressed in their street clothes. From the no-effort indie boys to the over-dressed power suited girls (six, out of twenty, Andy quickly counted with no surprise), they couldn’t look less like doctors if they tried.

The presumed-Chief of Surgery, who looked eerily familiar to Andy, was rattling off statistics about how many of them were destined to fail. Andy tuned the worst of the numbers out, having heard them since announcing a desire to pursue surgery on her first day of medical school. Dartmouth didn’t turn out doctors with unrealistic expectations.

Before long, the Chief had bid them farewell, with a half-hearted good luck. Andy looked around the room at the nineteen people who would be her competition for the next few years. Maybe it was the hangover talking, but she didn’t feel quite so ready to kick ass when presented with all these keenly intelligent faces and lithe bodies. Suddenly they had stopped looking like overgrown kids, and Andy had to mentally kick her confidence back into shape.

Seeking out her assigned locker, Andy traded in her blue sweater and black pants for regulation scrubs. She’d known from her mother, and all the nurses and doctors she’d known in her life, that the very thin scrubs usually required a bit of extra layering; and so she kept her long-sleeved t-shirt on under her blue scrub top. Andy couldn’t help but smile as she noticed that almost nobody else had done the same. Slipping into the white coat still felt like dress-up, but as she was slipping her stethoscope around her neck, Andy caught the eye of the silent woman with the locker next to hers. She decided to stick with the hopefully safe gambit of sisterhood.

“Twenty Interns, and only six are women?”

“Ridiculous, isn’t it?” The other girl turned out to be British, judging by the accent. “And I hear one used to be a model, so that will really help our case.”

“Great,” Andy found herself murmuring in agreement. “I’m Andy, by the way.”

“Emily. Who’s your resident?”

Emily wasn’t exactly being friendly, Andy noticed uneasily. Still, it didn’t make sense to alienate people on the first day, and there was something about the girl she just sort of… liked.

“Kipling. The Nazi?”

“Me too,” Emily replied with a dramatic eye roll. Andy couldn’t help but notice that the girl’s make up was a bit too much for a working hospital, but she guessed not everybody had known the reality of a surgical floor since they were in nappies. It was better if people learned this stuff for themselves, really. Before she could find out any more, a tall guy across the room butted into their conversation. He looked pretty nervous.

“You’ve got the Nazi? Me too. I’m Doug. Doug O’Malley. We met at the mixer?”

Andy nodded in acknowledgment, since the guy did look kind of familiar and well, a lot of the mixer was kind of a blur.

“Sachs, Charlton, O’Malley, Stevens, Karev.” The names were called from the hallway and Andy felt herself jolted into action.

“You’re with Dr. Kipling,” the resident said, not looking up from his clipboard as he pointed down the hallway. Andy had heard all kinds of horror stories about being an Intern under the Nazi, the most feared resident at Seattle Grace. She was kind of surprised to see the friendly-looking man that the resident pointed too, with his thick glasses and bald head, he didn’t look threatening at all as he chatted with a couple of nurses.

“Huh,” Emily said as they strode towards their new mentor. “I was expecting someone a lot scarier.”

Someone came storming along the hallway behind them, pushing between Andy and Emily.

“Maybe he’s brilliant. Maybe it’s just professional jealousy, and he’s actually really nice,” she said with an easy smile. Her accent was faint, but definitely from somewhere a lot more exotic than Seattle, Andy noted.

“Oh, you must be the model,” Emily pronounced, with her biggest eye roll yet. Andy grinned quickly in solidarity. Ignoring them, the model-doctor marched up to their new boss and offered her hand confidently.

“I am Doctor Serena Stevens, but you can call me Serena. I am so excited to be working with you—“

“I have five rules,” Dr. Nigel Kipling interrupted, with a disdainful look at Serena’s offered hand, which she quickly withdrew. “Rule number One, don’t bother sucking up. Not only do you look like idiots, but I already hate you and that is simply never going to change.”

With a dismissive wave of his hand, he indicated the pagers, trauma protocols and phone lists that they all scrambled for right away. Andy couldn’t resist flicking the buttons on her pager, but was disappointed that it didn’t do much with nobody having paged her yet. She put everything away in her pockets, keen not to seem like the new kid fascinated by the toys.

“The nurses will page you,” Nigel continued, taking off down another hallway that they were supposedly meant to follow him down. Scurrying, Andy struggled to hear the torrent of words falling from his lips over the sounds of sneakers squeaking against the linoleum floors.

“You will answer your pages at a run; not a stroll, not a jog, not a hop, skip and jump—at a run. That’s Rule number Two.”

They rounded the corner into some kind of waiting area, but Nigel made no indication that they would stop. Instead, he continued spouting out instructions.

“Your first shift will start now and last 48 hours. You’re Interns, runts, nobodies – the lowest of the low. You’re the very bottom of the surgical food chain, and yes, that does mean below the nurses. We need them—you’re optional.”

The waiting room gave way to a bridge-style walkway, leading out over the atrium of the hospital. The view, as they rushed past it, was pretty stunning. Andy didn’t remember all this space and light from her childhood visits, but assumed some remodeling might have been done in twenty-something years.

A brief tour of the on-calls rooms (the domain of Attendings, where lowly Interns had no hope of securing a bunk) revealed Rule Three: nobody was to wake Nigel unless a patient was actually dying. Andy really hoped it wouldn’t come to that on her first shift, and she swallowed nervously as her mind raced over Code Blue scenarios and possible gunshots wounds. She was so preoccupied in the imagined drama that she almost missed Rule Four—make sure the dying patient didn’t actually die once the resident had been woken: it was bad enough to kill the patient without waking a tired doctor for no good reason.

“Okay, are we clear?” Nigel asked, already distracted by reading the chart in his hands. Andy coughed, raising her hand nervously.

“You said five rules. That was only four.”

At that, Dr. Kipling’s pager beeped, causing him to whip it from the waistband of his scrubs. Andy looked at the clothes more carefully, noticing how flattering the cut seemed to be. Had he actually had his scrubs tailored?

“Rule Five: when I move, you move,” Nigel added, before taking off down yet another new hallway at a sprint. Andy led the pack of Interns chasing after him, hoping she wouldn’t be sick after a night of boozing and no breakfast to soak it up.

By the time they reached the helipad on the roof (four floors up, on a windy day) Andy was ready to collapse. She’d been pretty fit at Dartmouth – swimming and doing track during her undergrad. It was just that drinking and dancing seemed like a way more fun way to spend her time after a while, and the race to meet their first patient had definitely taken a toll on young Dr. Sachs. She had to join a gym, especially if she was going to be spending her days with stick-thin Emily and ex-model Serena.

The Interns fumbled with the gurney, managing to pull it up without losing any fingers at least, and rolled it over to meet the settling chopper. Andy only caught snippets of information about seizures over the din of the helicopter blades, and was left to hope that someone would fill her in once they made it back inside. The kid on the stretcher looked young to be wearing so much makeup and a fancy ballgown, but by the time they’d had a briefing on the way down, it appeared she’d come straight from a beauty pageant. Andy couldn’t believe those things still existed; so much for feminism.

In the trauma bay, the Interns managed to get in each other’s way pretty spectacularly. After the floppy-haired guy named Karev almost stuck her with a large bore needle, Doug pushed into Andy just as she was applying the leads to the patient, a teenage girl in the midst of a Grand Mal seizure. As they yelled at each other to move, or to help, Nigel was shouting over them with a barrage of corrections, reprimands and bitchy comments about whether any of them had actually passed a practical exam in medical school.

Eventually their combined efforts took effect, and the girl flopped peacefully back onto the mattress the only movement in the light flickering of her eyelids. At that moment, a taller man came striding into the room, reaching for the chart that Nigel had been clinging to like a life preserver. The room went quieter, sensing the presence of a higher authority.

“What are your instructions, Dr. Thompson?” Nigel was unrecognizable in his sudden calm politeness.

“Dr. Kipling, let’s shotgun.” The Attending didn’t even seem to read the notes as he issued the order, his eyes skimming the group of Interns without much interest instead. Andy noted his navy blue scrubs, the confident air he had about him as the rest of the room hung on his every word. His blonde hair was fussily styled, and for a surgeon he wore a surprising amount of jewelry.

“That means every test in the book,” Nigel explained, “CT, CBC, Chem 7, Tox Screen.” In the next moment, he was issuing detailed instructions as to who would take which task, leaving Andy with the job of wheeling the slowly reviving girl up to CT. Or was it down? Damn, why didn’t they hand out maps with the trauma protocols?

Even worse, by the time she wheeled the bed into the elevator, the patient had started to revive. It took about half a sentence for Andy to realize that she liked the girl better when her brain was short-circuiting.

~~~~~~~~~

With a budding headache and a handful of CT films, Andy returned to the patient’s room in the hope of handing off the seizure-prone teenage beauty queen to her Attending. Maybe this way she’d have time for a snack and some coffee. She walked into the room only to be met by a barrage of questions from the anxious parents, while Katie the patient sullenly sent text after text from her phone.

Seeing Nigel walk past, Andy seized her chance and called out to him. She joined him in the hallway, trying to fob off the CT results on to him. While she’d been able to read them, Andy was fairly sure that Interns weren’t supposed to update patients and their families like that.

“Above my pay grade, sweetheart. You want an Attending.”

“Fine. Do you know where Dr. Thompson is? I had him paged.”

Nigel fixed her with a suspicious glare, though Andy wasn’t quite sure what he suspected her of.

“Dr. Thompson has handed the case off to the new Head of Neuro. Dr. Priestly is just over there,” Nigel explained as he pointed back through the open double doors.

Andy looked in the direction he pointed and felt her knees threaten to give way.

She’d recognize that silver hair anywhere, even in the last place she’d expected to find her one-night stand. It took a moment for Andy to compose herself, and she was sure Nigel had spotted her open-mouthed shock. As she tried to appear calm, Andy couldn’t help but notice how damn good Miranda looked in her regulation dark blue scrubs and pressed white coat. Somehow she managed to look smarter and more stylish than the similarly dressed doctors around her, which absolutely wasn’t fair. Fending off flashbacks to the drunken fun of a few hours ago, Andy muttered her thanks to Nigel and braced herself to meet her fate.

Opting for nonchalance, Andy summoned her best smile and interrupted Miranda’s conversation politely. Handing off the results, she attempted to flee before any personal matters could arise, but one look from Miranda seemed to freeze Andy where she stood.

“You work here?” Miranda asked, apparently amused at the unhappy coincidence.

“First day. I’m an Intern.”

“And last night you had no idea who I was, or where I worked?”

Andy shook her head, wishing that the floor would show some damn mercy and swallow her up.

“So when you seduced me, in that clumsy way of yours—“

A passing nurse shot Andy a scandalized look, and Andy realized she had to act before word of her little mistake started spreading around the hospital faster than a flu virus. Grabbing Miranda by the arm, she pulled her through yet another set of doors into a deserted stairwell.

“Dr. Priestly—“ Andy began the conversation over again.

“Dr. Priestly? This morning it was Miranda.”

“Dr. Priestly, we should pretend it never happened,” Andy continued, hoping to sound insistent rather than pleading.

“Pretend what never happened? You sleeping with me last night? Or you throwing me out this morning? Because both are fond memories I’d like to hold onto.”

“No!” Andy exclaimed, trying to stop herself from shouting. “There will be no more memories, fond or otherwise. I’m not the girl in the bar anymore, and you’re not the woman I picked up. This can’t exist, you get that, right?”

Miranda treated Andy to a quizzical stare, the suggestion of a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Staring at her mouth was a whole other problem Andy realized too late, but thankfully Miranda spoke before Andy could make an even bigger fool of herself.

“You’re very presumptuous, Andrea.”

Blushing furiously, Andy wished she hadn’t gone in all guns blazing.

“So, to summarize, you took advantage of me, and now you want to forget all about it?”

Andy actually gaped at the suggestion. She might not have known Miranda’s name until this morning, but even a few minutes in her company made it quite clear that nobody ever took advantage of her.

“I did not!” Andy protested.

“Oh, yes you did. I was drunk, vulnerable and wearing Chanel, and you took advantage.”

The smile was getting harder to conceal, Andy noticed with a silent groan. Miranda was enjoying this extra bit of leverage over a lowly Intern, as if Attendings didn’t have enough already.

“Okay, I was the one who was drunk. And I wouldn’t know Chanel if it walked up and bit me.”

Miranda sniffed as she took in Andy’s disheveled appearance.

“Well, I can’t argue with that. Perhaps you should take advantage of me again on Friday night. I have some other pieces by Chanel that you can fail to appreciate.”

“No,” Andy replied in an instant, even though a very loud part of her brain was screaming for her to say the opposite. “You’re an Attending, and I’m your Intern. Stop looking at me like that!”

Miranda flicked her eyes back up from where they’d been quite obviously checking Andy out.

“Like what?” It came out in an amused drawl.

“Like you’ve seen me naked. Dr. Priestly! This is inappropriate, has that ever occurred to you?”

With that as her parting shot, Andy swept out back into the main hallway. Her pager beeped, telling her to report to the OR galleries, and with a sigh she made her way there. Some lucky bastard was about to cut for the first time, and no woman was hot or distracting enough to make Andy miss that.

Without looking back to see if Miranda had also exited the stairway, Andy took off for the one floor of the hospital that she wanted to make her home. The rest she would worry about later.