Chapter 1: A Hard Day's Night
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.
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.
Andy’s heart was racing by the time she reached the surgical floor, not least because of all the times she’d looked back to make sure Miranda hadn’t followed her. It was really bad enough that she’d accidentally slept with her boss, but letting the other interns find out would be career suicide. Bad enough that someone would eventually spill the beans about Andy’s famous mother, another reason to accuse her of benefiting from favoritism. Not to mention that if the other Attendings found out, they were likely to come down hard on her so they could be seen as impartial. Hospitals are a little too much like high school for comfort, Andy mused as she checked the surgical board.
Sure enough, there was Dr. Thompson’s name, with Doug’s in the assist column. Andy wasn’t sure exactly now nervous, fumbling Doug had impressed enough to get tapped as the most promising Intern, but the tradition of the Attending on-call singling out one person was older than Andy herself. She tried to bite back the surge of jealousy at not being the one selected, clenching her hands into fists to suppress the physical desire to be the one holding the scalpel. Feeling at home in the dull gray corridors, Andy strolled towards the gallery for OR 2, grabbing a seat next to Emily as soon as she walked in.
The small room was already buzzing with bets and bitchy comments, making Andy roll her eyes. She looked through the glass at Doug, being summarily ignored by the scrub nurses as he tried to hide his nerves. Dr. Thompson hadn’t arrived yet, and although Andy only had a vague (drunken) memory of Doug being nice to her at the mixer, she couldn’t help but root for him. Her mother would be appalled at her lack of competitive zeal.
Nate, betting $25 on Doug not being able to identify the appendix, was the final straw.
“Fifty says he pulls it off without a hitch,” Andy stated calmly. “That’s one of us down there.”
A contemplative silence settled over the room before Emily piped up.
“Seventy-five says he drops the scalpel.”
A new flurry of bets and raises flowed through the small room, interrupted only by the sight of Dr. Thompson striding into the room. With his hands still wet from scrubbing in, he looked relaxed and cheerful as he greeted the surgical team. Only when he stood next to O’Malley did he switch straight over to intimidating. For the first time, Andy thought she might be kind of glad to just be watching this one.
There was a collective intake of breath as Doug picked up the ten-blade.
Later, in a quiet corner of the cafeteria, Andy laid a consoling hand on Doug’s shoulder. He’d stopped shaking at least, and she really hoped for his sake that he kept any crying to the privacy of the men’s room. First day tears would not be forgiven any time soon.
“It wasn’t that bad, Doug. It could have happened to any one of us.”
“Not me,” Emily muttered, around a mouthful of yogurt. Andy shot a warning glare in her direction, but couldn’t help silently agreeing. Small mistakes were one thing, but slicing up entirely the wrong part of a patient’s anatomy was pretty amateur. Hadn’t they all spent months and months of lab time slicing and dicing cadavers to avoid exactly this situation when let loose on live patients? Shaking off the less than charitable thoughts, Andy patted Doug’s shoulder again, hoping he’d sit up and shrug it off soon.
“They’re calling me 007,” Doug wailed, his face pressed into the formica surface of the table.
“007?” Serena asked, picking at her salad with little interest.
“Licence to Kill,” Nate explained gleefully as he threw himself down on an unoccupied seat next to her. His curly hair was falling in his eyes, and while Andy knew that plenty of women would find that cute, she felt more like shaving his head just to teach him a lesson. Hungry, and eager to get away from the new acquaintance she liked least, Andy headed for the lunch counter.
As she made her way back to the table a few minutes later and a couple of dollars lighter, her stomach sank at the sight of the group huddled in whispered conversation. A brief glance in Andy’s direction from Serena confirmed Andy’s worst fear: they were talking about her, and on the first day that probably meant only one thing: they’d discovered her ‘in-bred’ status.
So much for blending in.
As she rejoined the group, they had the decency to pretend that they hadn’t been talking about her. Seizing the chance to change the subject, Andy started off with a complaint.
“Seriously though, Katie Price is a pain in the ass. She keeps paging me 911 because she’s bored. And the nurses are falling for it. If I hadn’t taken the Hippocratic Oath, I’d Kevorkian her with my bare hands.”
That got a laugh from Emily and Nate, and it gave everyone else a chance to bitch about their days, making Doug feel a little better about his surgical catastrophe, Andy hoped. She didn’t want to get too involved, because honestly, someone who ripped the secum on something as simple as an appy wasn’t looking too promising. Andy thought back to the numbers the Chief had scared them with during the introductions – would Doug be one of the ones who failed or moved to an easier specialty?
Before long the chatter had moved onto specialties and Christian Thompson, Head of Cardio was apparently another legend in his field. Only Doug seemed a little out of the loop on exactly how impressive some of the names at Seattle Grace were. Andy kept quiet, not wanting to bring up her mother’s association with the place before she had to.
“I heard there’s a new head of Neuro, too. Some bigshot out of New York.” Nate supplied, just cementing Andy’s dislike of him. He’d managed to hit on her second least favorite topic of conversation.
“Is it that Shepherd guy?” Emily asked, practically bouncing in her seat with excitement.
“No, better than him. Some chick surgeon,” Nate replied before chugging down a can of Coke. He almost choked on the fizzy drink at the sound of a quiet voice behind him.
“A ‘chick’ surgeon? How enlightened. Next thing you know, they’ll be letting women vote, or drive cars.”
It was all Andy could do not to spray her mouthful of water all over the table. Almost choking, she forced herself to look around at the familiar voice. Sure enough, Dr. Miranda Priestly was hovering behind Nate with a look of intense dislike evident on her flawless face. A quick scan of Andy’s colleagues confirmed that introductions wouldn’t be necessary, since Emily looked ready to burst with ass-kissing excitement and even the so-far laconic Serena looked truly animated for the first time all day. Even poor, slow Doug had put the pieces together in record time.
Anyone else would have fumbled for an apology, but Nate tried to bluff his way through, taking another measured sip from his Coke as though nothing had happened.
“You’re about to be paged, so I may as well tell you now. Conference room, second floor, five minutes.”
With a lingering look in Andy’s direction, Miranda swept off through the cafeteria. She was stunned to notice that the woman wore a suit under her white coat, as well as four-inch heels. She’d been in scrubs earlier, much like every other surgeon, and Andy found herself wondering why the change to distract herself from noticing exactly how damn good Miranda had looked, all dressed to kill like that.
Emily and Serena were talking quietly, with the occasional high-pitched squeal or giggle, and Doug had gone back to finishing his rubbery pasta. Nate was suddenly very interested in his fingernails, and Andy realized what little appetite she’d had was gone. Knowing there was no point in prolonging the torture, she stood to leave.
“Come on, you guys.”
“Yeah, better see what the Dragon Lady wants,” Serena said in a mock whisper, provoking another giggle from Emily.
Andy sighed, and wondered again just why in the hell she hadn’t accepted any of the other three Internship offers. She could be back East, safe from most of her mother’s legacy and this problematic little group she’d already allied herself with. Maybe in Boston, or New York, or Baltimore she would have resisted the pitfall of sleeping with her future boss.
Falling into step with the group, she turned her thoughts to her seizure patient and began running through possible diagnoses to keep herself occupied.
Doug was foolish enough to comment.
“Cram it, 007.” Snickering broke out around the room. Emily turned back to her banana. “Sorry, I get mean when I’m tired.”
Miranda walking into the room silenced all chatter immediately, and Andy noted that Nigel was hovering in the hallway.
“I’m going to do something incredibly rare for a surgeon,” Miranda began. “I’m going to ask Interns for help.”
A fresh wave of murmurs rippled around the room, cut off by a lazy flick of Miranda’s hand.
“Katie Price is fifteen years old, and unless we can work out what’s causing these seizures, it’s likely she’ll be dead by tomorrow morning.” The room stayed silent this time as Miranda paused, and she nodded slightly in approval at how quickly they’d learned.
“Her scans are clean, but she’s not responding to her meds. Her labs are spotless, and there’s no visual cause. This is open now to all of you, not just the original five. Hit the journals, ask other doctors, use your limited imagination if you have to, but bring me a reason for these seizures.”
Gathering up the papers she’d placed on the conference table, Miranda looked as though she was about to leave, but she halted, apparently struck by an afterthought.
“Of course, as surgeons, you’ll be looking for an incentive. It’s not about being right any more, it’s about getting something in exchange for being the best. So, whichever Intern brings me the solution first will scrub in on whichever procedure is deemed necessary.”
This time Miranda did leave, though she’d barely cleared the doorway before eager Interns spilled out after her. Andy was the last to leave, dragging her heels as she weighed the prospect of winning big against being stuck in an OR, possibly for hours, with that woman. What if the nurses picked up on tension? What if Andy got so nervous she made a mistake? She didn’t want to be the next 007, that was for damn sure.
As she exited into the hallway, she was met by Emily, who dragged her quite forcefully by the elbow until they were clear of the other chattering Interns.
“Do you want to work together? I mean, you’ve spent the most time with Katie, and that gives you the edge. Then we can flip for who gets the surgery, if we win.”
Andy wasn’t sure if this was a friendly offer or some kind of attempt at sabotage, but Emily seemed genuine enough.
“Sure. But if we win, you get the surgery. I don’t want to spend any more time than I have to with Dr. Priestly.”
As Emily opened her mouth to question that frankly ridiculous statement, Andy shook her head to warn her off.
“But this is the biggest opportunity any Intern will ever have!” Emily protested, seemingly unable to help herself.
“Do you want to work together or not?” Andy asked, and she knew that there was only one answer.
Sure enough, Emily gave up her arguing and fell into step with Andy as they headed off in search of a library. The major benefit of a teaching hospital was the space given over to research materials, and so the two women set off for the East Wing and the countless books and journals that it held. It wasn’t long before they were sprawled out on the floor of the Geriatrics section, having quickly grabbed the most relevant titles from Neurology and formed a private little study circle to ward off the competition.
“Well, she doesn't have anoxia, chronic renal failure or acidosis. It's not a tumor because her CT's clean. Are you seriously not going to tell me why you won’t work with Priestly?” Emily asked, with obviously forced indifference. She was flicking rapidly through a stack of journals, not looking directly at Andy.
“No.” Andy repeated, quite calmly. “What about infection?”
“No, there’s no white count, she has no coetal lesions, no fevers, nothing in her spinal tap. Just tell me.”
Andy sighed, realizing the battle was probably already lost. Besides, it might calm down her whirring brain to actually tell someone; too many secrets got exhausting really fast.
“You can’t comment, make faces, or judge me in any way.”
Emily nodded briskly in agreement.
“We had sex.”
At that, Emily busted out a pretty good impression of a guppy, opening and closing her mouth in apparent shock. Gathering her wits pretty quickly, she looked back down at her notepad.
“What about an aneurysm?”
Andy shook her head, still tensed for some reaction.
“No blood on the CT, and no headaches.”
They both read in silence for a couple of minutes until Emily picked up yet another journal.
“Okay, there’s no drug use, no pregnancy, no trauma… was she good? I mean, she looks like she would be; was it any good?”
The temptation to gossip was strong, but Andy already felt queasy about admitting anything had happened. If word did filter back to Miranda, she didn’t want to seem like the kiss-and-tell type. She decided to change tactics slightly.
“What if nobody solves this? What If she dies?”
Emily thought for a moment, jotting something else down on her pad.
“This might sound a tad selfish, but I really wanted that surgery.”
That forced Andy to smile, because she’d always imagined she’d be the same. At least, before Miranda and the potential mortification of becoming the Intern the whole hospital gossiped about.
“It’s just, she’ll never get to grow up, you know? She’ll never turn into a real person. All she’ll have to look back on is almost winning some dumb beauty pageant. A pageant in which she did rhythmic gymnastics, for God’s sakes!”
“Is that the thing with the ribbons and the ball?” Emily didn’t seem too interested in the philosophical discussion about the patient’s life, but Andy’s attempts to divert her from gossip suddenly came to a stuttering halt. She remembered, lost on the way to CT earlier, how Katie had been bitching about nurses when she fell.
“Emily, come on!”
Leaving the books strewn across the floor, Andy led the way back to the surgical floor. With any luck, they’d catch Dr. Priestly right away. Andy’s wish to avoid her definitely came second to having maybe found a way to save Katie’s life.
They rounded the corner to the nurses’ station on the surgical floor, only to see the distinctive figure of Miranda Priestly walking towards the elevator. The nurses in the elevator when it arrived muttered between themselves upon seeing Miranda and then hopped out of the elevator to call for the adjacent one. Weird, Andy thought, but she was intent on updating Miranda about Katie. Emily got there just ahead of Andy, and stuck her skinny arm in the closing elevator door to buy them time. Miranda didn’t look impressed.
“Dr. Priestly? I’m Emily, Emily Charlton. Katie Price competes in beauty pageants,” Emily babbled.
“I’m aware. Regardless, we are obliged to save her life.” The flicker of a smile tugged at the corners of Miranda’s mouth, and Andy had to force her suddenly distracted brain back to the topic at hand.
“Okay, so she hasn’t had headaches, nor has she experienced neck pain and her CT is clean. So there’s no actual medical proof of an aneurysm—“
“Dr. Charlton, if you’re keeping me from my meeting to tell me facts I’m already aware of…”
“She fell!” Andy snapped, worried that Miranda would storm off before they could explain. Miranda’s attention switched to her immediately, making Andy wish she’d just kept quiet. “Katie does rhythmic gymnastics and a few weeks ago, she twisted her ankle.”
Seemingly grateful for the backup, Emily continued,
“What if she has an aneurysm anyway? Sure, the fall was minor, and there were no noted head injuries. In fact, her doctor didn’t even mention the incident when I took a history from him. But she did fall.
Miranda shook her head, gently pushing Emily’s hand away from where it held the elevator door open.
“The chances of an aneurysm bursting as the result of a minor fall are literally a million to one. I know you want to win, but I suggest you try harder.”
The elevator door slid closed, leaving Andy and Emily to turn on their heels and leave. Before they can make it even three steps, there’s a ping as the door reopens.
“Oh, come on,” Miranda ordered as she swept past them in a cloud of subtle perfume and clicking heels.
“Where?” Emily had the presence of mind to ask.
“To find out if Katie is one in a million.”
It didn’t take long to get a new scan arranged, and something about Miranda’s quiet insistence made all the techs totally fine with Katie cutting in line. Andy tried not to dwell on this scary side, and how she hadn’t seen any evidence of it on the sofa, on the floor, or on the kitchen counter last night. Damn, two nights ago; this first shift really was a doozy.
Miranda looked impressed, despite herself. Andy felt a fresh surge of energy at being right, and trotted after Emily and their boss as they went to collect the chart. She was all ready for Emily to get the nod when suddenly Miranda spoke and offered the surgery to Andy.
She meant to say ‘no, take Emily’. But somehow the words didn’t come out. As Miranda headed off to update the parents, Emily stormed off in an obvious sulk. Great, Andy thought to herself. Just great.
It took a while to track Emily down, between the pages from Katie’s nurses and the hundred other jobs that everyone dumped on Andy the minute they recognized her as an intern. Only after dropping off yet another set of labs for the Paeds attending did she get a chance to head back to their basement corridor with the broken beds.
Sure enough, Emily was sitting cross-legged on one of the beds, poring over a textbook as Doug wheeled himself around in a lopsided wheelchair and Serena braided and unbraided strands of her long, blond hair. Andy hesitated in the doorway longer than was necessary, her face already flushing as she fumbled for a meaningful apology. She couldn’t overdo it, either, not with someone she’d barely known for two days. Becoming the soft touch on the program was almost as bad as being labeled 007.
“Emily,” Andy began, hoping against hope that she might get a fair hearing. Emily did not look up from her book.
“Listen, I just got blindsided. I’ll go to Priestly and tell her I don’t want in on the surgery.”
“No!” Emily exclaimed, slamming her book shut. “Just accept it: that was a cutthroat thing that you did. If you’re going to be ruthless, at least have the class to own it.”
“I, uh—“ Andy tried to defend herself.
“I don’t want to hear it. You want to screw me over? Fine. But at least I didn’t get into med school because I have a famous mother, and I don’t get surgeries by sleeping with my boss.”
The gasps of surprise from Doug and Serena left Andy even more humiliated. Emily had been decent enough not to blab to them right away, and then Andy had made things worse by trying to smooth it over. Story of her damn life.
Knowing that she wasn’t going to repair the damage with a simple apology, Andy beat a hasty retreat. She’d made it all the way to the coffee cart before getting paged by Dr. Kipling. Snatching the mocha latté from the unimpressed server, Andy headed back to the surgical floor, expecting to be chewed out for some new infraction.
To her surprise, she walked into Katie’s room to discover Miranda seated at the head of the patient’s bed, electric razor in hand. For a fleeting moment, Andy felt herself rocking onto the balls of her feet, ready to bolt. But with a sigh, she accepted that the hospital was only so big and avoiding this many people really couldn’t be sustained.
“I promised I would shave as little hair as possible,” Miranda said softly, only just audible over the whirr of the razor. “It turns out that being a bald beauty queen is literally the worst thing ever.”
There was something unexpectedly maternal about the way Miranda was smoothing the girl’s hair before running the razor in neat lines across her scalp. Andy found the anger and panic in her chest begin to dissipate, and saw her chance to put things right.
“You should let Emily in on the surgery. She deserves it. And I don’t want anyone to think it’s because—you know.”
Andy kept her gaze trained on Katie's sleeping face, the sedation enough to prevent further seizures until the craniotomy could be performed. Miranda's hands didn't skip a beat in their rhythmic sweeping of the razor, but the silence between them took on a notable chill.
"Are you suggesting I only gave you this surgery because we slept together?"
Feeling defiant, Andy nodded. Miranda clicked the razor off.
"You are Katie's doctor. On your first full shift, with very little training and nothing in terms of real world experience, you saved her life. Objectively, you deserve to see this case through to the finish. It would be... foolish to let the fact that we had sex get in the way of you taking your chance."
Andy was astounded by the compliment wrapped in a scolding. She opened her mouth to respond, but it appeared Miranda wasn't quite done.
"Unless, of course, you're just looking for an excuse? Worried you'll do as badly as your little friend?"
That was all it took to make up Andy's mind. Squaring her shoulders, she looked Miranda straight in her cold, gorgeous (Dammit, she chided herself) eyes.
"I'm not scared. I'll see you in the OR, Dr. Priestly."
Thankfully, Andy didn’t trip or otherwise embarrass herself as she strode out of the room, but her only destination was the restroom at the end of the corridor. Once safely in a cubicle, she threw up quickly and quietly, and hated herself a little because it was purely the result of nerves. Having washed her face and dragged her long, hair back into a messy bun, Andy thought she looked tired but decent. Her light blue scrubs were wrinkled, but with just about six hours to go there probably wasn’t much point in finding another pair.
Ignoring the dark circles forming under her eyes, Andy stretched out her back and steeled herself for the return to the real world; hiding in the bathroom was a little too junior high for comfort. She headed out into the hallway, only to run straight into a miserable-looking Doug. Keen to avoid another awkward encounter with Miranda, Andy offered to buy him a cup of coffee, and they retreated outside into the rapidly darkening evening.
Andy motioned for Doug to follow her, pulling herself up onto the solid concrete ledge that formed part of the hospital’s weird modern architecture. With a view over the entrance and the parking lot, they’d catch any commotion, but be almost invisible to anyone who didn’t know where to look for them.
“You know this place pretty well, huh?” Doug was the first person to mention her home court advantage without sounding bitchy about it.
“It was sort of my kindergarten. My mom spent a lot of hours here.”
Doug offered her some M&Ms from a packet he pulled from the pocket of his lab coat.
“We’re gonna survive this, right? I mean, my parents are just so proud of the whole doctor thing, and I spend every day freaking out about how disappointed they’ll be if I mess this up. You should hear them ‘our youngest, Doug, is going to be a surgeon”, to everyone they meet.
Crunching her M&Ms thoughtfully, Andy regarded the kind guy sitting next to her with a fresh surge of gratitude. Maybe, if she made the right kind of friends, she wouldn’t turn into her mother after all.
“When I told my mom I wanted to go to medical school, she tried to talk me out of it. She walked out of the room and came back the next day with a bunch of prospectuses. Law at Stanford, she suggested. Said I didn’t have what it takes to be a surgeon.”
“Ouch.” Doug patted her shoulder in sympathy.
“Yeah, so from where I’m sitting, having parents who brag about you like you’re some kind of superhero sounds pretty good.”
A rush of footsteps could be heard through the window behind them, and both young doctors turned to watch the code team rush across the open space.
“Guess we can’t stay out here forever. And you, missy, have a surgery to do. Go dazzle them, and prove your mom wrong.”
“Okay,” Andy conceded, jumping down to the ground in one easy move. “And thanks, Doug.”
“What for?” He asked, before jumping down to join her.
“For talking to me like I’m a person. For not caring that my mom is surgical royalty.”
“Any time,” he promised, and they headed back in to pick up the rest of their evening’s work.
Andy walked into one of the post-op recovery wards, looking for a chart that Dr. Kipling had requested on a bowel resection. She almost walked into the back of Nate, who seemed to be arguing with a nurse. He wasn’t going to last long if he kept doing that.
“Dr. Karev, the patient in 4B isn’t getting any better.”
“It’s post-op pneumonia, did you give her the antibiotics?”
The nurse didn’t quite manage to hide rolling her eyes.
“Yes, <i>doctor</i>, and they should be working by now.”
Nate turned slightly, catching sight of Andy behind him. He shrugged at her, in a chummy sort of way that made her skin crawl. She turned back to the nurses’ station, looking through the pile for her chart.
“Well, she’s about nine hundred years old, so maybe you should bother me about a patient who wasn’t alive during the Civil War, huh?”
Nate had turned around fully now, obviously about to complain to Andy, when a deep voice behind him made both Nate and Andy jump.
“Your patient is still short of breath? Did you get an ABG or chest film?”
Andy recognized the voice of the Chief of Surgery, and judging by the 180º in Nate’s attitude, he did too.
“Yes, sir I did. I just haven’t had a chance to—“
Addressing the room with the confidence of absolute authority, Chief Ravitz posed a simple question.
“Name the common causes of post-op fever.”
Fumbling for a notebook in his pocket, Nate didn’t answer. Andy looked around to see other interns mumbling to themselves or frantically flicking through notes. Sighing at putting herself on the radar, she spoke up anyway.
“Wind, water, wound, walking, wonder drugs. The 5 Ws. It’s usually wind: splinting or pneumonia. Pneumonia is the easiest to assume, especially if you’re too busy to check the test results.”
As she looked at the Chief, there was no missing his glare towards Nate. His features softened though as he spoke directly to Andy.
“What do you think is wrong with 4B, young lady?”
Hoping she wasn’t about to make a complete ass of herself, Andy went with her gut instinct.
“The fourth W: walking. She’s a prime candidate for a primary embolus.”
Nodding encouragingly, Ravitz actually smiled at Andy.
“And how would you diagnose?”
As Andy rattled off the necessary tests, she could feel Nate staring a hole in the side of her head. Well, screw him. Anyone who treated nurses that way didn’t deserve to get ahead.
“Why don’t you do <i>exactly</i> as Dr. Sachs says? And then tell your resident to take you off this case.”
Nate stomped off, sulking like an overgrown kid. Andy tried her hardest not to smirk, because there might just be a decent guy under all that attitude. She had her doubts though.
She had gathered up her charts, ready to seek out Dr. Kipling, when the Chief spoke to her again. It occurred to her in that moment that he had no reason to have known her name.
“I’d know you anywhere,” he started to explain. “You’re the spitting image of your mother. You know, a million girls would kill to have that advantage.”
With that, he walked off, and Andy thought she’d seen something like fondness in his eyes. That wasn’t exactly a typical reaction to a mention of Ellis Sachs, whose legendary skills had never seemed to include making friends that Andy knew of. Sticking a fake smile on her face, she ran off to finish her errands, determined now that nothing should stop her from scrubbing in with Miranda.
When the time came, Andy was relieved to see that her hands didn’t even quiver as she reached for the soap in the scrub room. With her hair pulled back, and her surgical cap resting securely on her head, she felt ready to give it her best shot. That familiar adrenalin began to course through her veins, the same jolt that had spurred her on through exams all through her life. This was just another test, another opportunity to prove that she could, and would succeed in her own right.
As she stepped through the sliding doors, into the waiting surgical scrubs that the nurse held out for her, Andy stopped worrying about whether Emily hated her, or how great the sex with Miranda had been, or even if the sun would rise in a few hours. The subtle scent of antiseptic and iodine wafted through the space, smelling of childhood and familiarity in a way that nowhere else ever had.
She was home.
Though she’d been expecting just to observe from the throng around the anaesthetized Katie, she was pleasantly surprised when Miranda called her to stand at her side. From that prime vantage point, Andy could almost feel the vibration of the drill, and saw every tiny detail once the portion of skull had been removed. Miranda surprised her further by letting her observe the clipped aneurysm before closing, and in her excitement, Andy managed to ignore her body’s reaction to Miranda’s sudden proximity while Andy stared through the microscope.
The hours had flown past, but Andy had been relieved to look up and see Emily watching from the gallery. At least there was some hope of salvaging things between them.
In the haze of cleaning up, Andy tripped out of the scrub room without noticing that Emily lay in wait for her. An awkward silence hung in the air for a few painful moments before Emily took the bull by the horns.
“We’re not going to do that ridiculous girly thing of gushing apologies, where we talk about our feelings.”
“Yuck. Thank God.” Andy couldn’t help smiling as she replied. Her buzz was pretty strong in that moment, one that even tequila couldn’t have touched.
“Good. Well, get some sleep. You look like absolute crap,” Emily sniffed, ready to head off into the early morning.
“I look better than you!” Andy exclaimed, glad they were joking around again.
“It’s not possible,” Emily threw back over her shoulder, and Andy felt herself laughing for the first time in what felt like forever.
She managed to get a grip on herself at the sight of Miranda exiting surgery, pulling her elegantly-patterned scrub cap off to reveal tousled silver hair that looked remarkably similar to how she’d looked post-coital.
“That was amazing,” Andy offered, when Miranda strolled straight to sign the chart without noticing her intern.
“Mmm,” Miranda replied, distracted by the pages in front of her.
“I mean,” Andy continued, “you practice on cadavers, and you watch from the gallery, and you think you know what it’ll feel like when you’re finally at the table… but that was such a high!”
That got Miranda’s full attention, and she looked directly at Andy, that half-smile tugging at her mouth.
“I don’t know why anybody does drugs.”
“Yes. Quite.” Despite her short replies, Miranda just looked tired, rather than bothered by Andy’s ramblings.
“I should go update the parents.”
“You should,” Andy agreed. As she stood there, she felt the weight of two mostly sleepless days weighing down on her in one fell swoop.
“I’ll see you around, Dr. Sachs.”
With that, Miranda took off down the corridor, her sneakers making no sound against the linoleum.
“See you around, Dr. Priestly,” Andy replied to the empty waiting area.
The clock on the wall confirmed the hour of freedom had finally rolled around, although Andy knew she’d just about have time to sleep, eat and do a few errands before the hospital would own her again. She jogged back to the locker room, showering and changing quickly, meaning she was ready to leave with the group she’d adopted as her newest friends. Serena was teasing Emily about something, and Doug looked as tired as Andy felt, but as they headed out to the parking lot, Andy felt a lightness about her that hadn’t been there in too long. They went their separate ways with friendly goodbyes, and Andy felt rejuvenated as she got behind the wheel of her car.
Ten minutes later, she took the turning for the first errand of her day off, grateful that the morning rush hadn’t really taken hold yet. At her destination, she went through the already familiar process of signing in, fetching two cups of coffee, and making her way to the day room. The second wind of energy was already wearing off, but Andy didn’t want to put it off any longer.
She placed the coffees on the lace-covered table, sitting down heavily in the unoccupied chair.
“Well, guess who survived her first shift as a surgical intern?”
Her coffee companion didn’t look up right away, and Andy had the sinking feeling in her stomach that almost every other visit had caused. No hope of lucidity, again.
“Are you the doctor?”
“No,” Andy sighed. “I’m not your doctor. But I am a doctor.”
“What’s your name?” The older woman seemed genuinely interested.
“It’s me, mom. It’s Andrea.”
For all the reaction it got, Andy could have introduced herself as the Queen of England. Wherever her mom was today, didn’t include a life with a daughter in it.
“Okay. I used to be a doctor, I think.”
Andy blinked away a tear, sure it was just the exhaustion at work.
“You were a doctor, mom,” she explained as she reached for her mother’s hand. “You were a surgeon.”
Chapter 4: The First Cut Is The Deepest
Andy strolled up to the nurses' station with an unavoidable spring in her step. She'd posted a sign looking for roommates, meaning she could finally unpack instead of living out of a battered suitcase and the torn rucksack from her Europe trip. She hadn't hit a single red light all the way to work, and her hair was having one of its better days.
All of which, she reasoned, were cosmic signs that she was ready for her first official surgery. One where she got to wield the scalpel herself, dazzle an attending or resident along the way. To seal the deal, she had stopped at the better of the two coffee carts and picked up what she knew to be Dr. Kipling's favorite indulgence: a piping hot mocha latte.
The rest of the gang saw through her right away, unfortunately. Emily snorted and muttered something about a bribe, while Serena and Doug began pestering her about being her new roommates, something Andy desperately wanted to avoid. She liked them well enough, and she had every sympathy for Doug about his overbearing mother who ironed his scrubs and made him packed lunches every day like he was coming to surgical kindergarten, but the last people she needed in her mom's house were the doctors in the same group. Forty-eight hours at a time was already testing their friendship, and Andy was reluctant to give up her one escape from them.
At the sight of Dr. Kipling's bald head heading towards them, Andy leapt straight into what she called her 'kickass' mode.
"Dr. Kipling? This is for you. I've been working very hard for the past few shifts, and I believe I'm ready for my first surgery."
Dr. Kipling snatched the cardboard cup without so much as a glance of acknowledgment, and for a moment it looked like he would head straight upstairs without replying. He hesitated though, sighing deeply, something that Andy had picked up as meaning 'lecture imminent'.
"You may as well call me Nigel. That doesn't mean we're friends, I just prefer it." He took a long drink of the coffee, looking fleetingly pleased at the temperature as he swallowed. "You intern puppies are all obsessed with cutting. Got to get in the OR, need a real grown-up to pat you on the head every day and say 'nice stitching'. Well, that's not what you're here for."
"No," Nigel continued. "What you're here for is to make your resident happy. Do I look happy to you?"
The group collectively shook their heads, seeing any chance of cool surgeries ebbing away before their eyes.
"To make me happy, I need the code team staffed, I need some of you in the Pit to suture, and lab results and discharge papers handled. None of you will cut more than your lunch order until I'm so happy that I'm Mary Freakin' Poppins, you understand?"
With that, he did storm off up the stairs to the surgical floor, leaving five deflated interns in his wake. Doug took the code team pager, proudly proclaiming that he'd be spending his shift saving lives. The labs and discharges had been assigned to Nate and Emily, and with a lot of grumbling, they split the pile of charts between them.
Shrugging, Andy followed Serena to the elevators, heading down to the ER where Andy had been tasked with handling traumas. Poor Serena had been stuck on sutures, which was probably a valuable practice but nobody wanted to waste time in the Pit.
"You should think about us as roommates," Serena offered once they stepped into the elevator. "I cook, and I'm obsessively clean. Plus, you can borrow any of my clothes, any time."
Andy stared at the Amazonian goddess standing next to her. With an incredulous look back at her own 'child-bearing' hips, she smiled at the idea of even being close to Serena's size.
"I just want to live with strangers, Serena. I want to be able to go home and ignore them after a long day here. All I want from a roommate is their share of rent and bills; not a friendship."
"Suit yourself," Serena shrugged as they walked out into the ER. "Oh good, it's chaos as usual."
Of course, the moment Andy walked into the Pit, she was being sent on yet more intern grunt work. Conjuring up a 'can-do' smile, she made her way back to the elevator. She was less than thrilled when the doors opened to reveal Miranda Priestly, and Andy instinctively raised the files she'd been given to deliver as a pointless sort of shield.
As the doors slipped closed behind Andy, Miranda continued typing quickly on her Blackberry. Trying not to stare, Andy was forced to concede that the woman really did have the textbook perfect 'surgeon's hands'. Andy was already so distracted that she almost missed Miranda's opening statement.
"Seattle has ferryboats."
As non-sequiturs went, Andy supposed it wasn't the weirdest.
"I didn't know that. I've been living here six weeks; I didn't know there were ferryboats."
At a loss for a witty comeback, Andy decided to state the obvious.
"Seattle is surrounded by water on three sides."
Miranda did look away from her Blackberry screen at that, irritation flickering across her features as she glanced back at Andy.
"Hence the ferryboats." Miranda sighed deeply, as though the ferryboats had provoked some kind of existential crisis. "Now I have to like it here. I wasn't planning on liking it here."
"I'm from New York," she continued. "Genetically engineered to dislike everywhere that isn't Manhattan. And well, maybe Paris, some of the time. But I love ferryboats. Have done since I was a very little girl."
The elevator dinged to signal its next stop, and the doors slid open to reveal a gaggle of nurses. Andy was surprised to see that none of them got on, pretending not to see the open door and staring intently at the other elevator. She was just about to ask Miranda what the hell that was about when the doors closed again, allowing Miranda to turn one of her more predatory looks on Andy.
"I'm not going out with you," Andy stated, sounding a hell of a lot calmer than she felt.
"Did I ask you out? Did I somehow speak without moving my lips?" Miranda retorted, not looking any less intent on jumping Andy.
"I'm not dating you. And I'm definitely not having sex with you--ever again! You're my boss."
Miranda sniffed at the argument, dismissing it entirely.
"I'm your boss's boss."
Trying a different tack, Andy fumbled around for another line of attack.
"You're my teacher. You're my teacher's teacher."
At that, Miranda rolled her eyes quite dramatically.
"I'm your father, I'm your brother, I’m your cousin. It makes no difference"
The mocking dismissal was starting to seriously anger Andy now. Sure, she had respect for her superiors, but she'd be damned if she'd let anyone walk all over her. That, at least, she had inherited from her mother.
"You're sexually harassing me."
That caused a ripple of displeasure in Miranda, at least. Andy thought she might be gaining some ground.
"I'm merely riding an elevator."
"Look!" Andy exclaimed. "I'm drawing a line; a line is drawn. There's a big freakin' line."
Miranda looked thoughtful at the suggestion.
"So this line... is it imaginary? Or do you need someone to get you a magic marker?
The sarcasm was enough to make Andy snap.
Only, instead of yelling or saying something wildly unprofessional, the emotions of the moment bubbled over in a quite different way. One minute, she was standing behind the flimsy shield of a bunch of charts, and the next those charts were scattered over the elevator floor. Instead of holding on to files, she'd grabbed Miranda's upper arms and pulled her into a searing kiss.
And damn but the woman could kiss, Andy had to admit.
All too soon the goddamn ‘ding’ of the elevator warned of another stop. Just in time, Andy managed to pull away, and with clumsy hands she gathered her fallen papers and stumbled out through the waiting staff. She looked back just once, only to see that nobody had joined Miranda in the elevator. Weird, she thought, but it was hard to think much of anything else over the loud samba her hormones were conducting all over her damn body.
A half hour of fetching and carrying later, Andy finally got her first legitimate trauma page. By the time she reached the ER bay, she wished she hadn’t. In front of her lay the body of a young woman, already intubated, and covered in blood, swelling and bruises that made even the strong-stomached Andy feel sick.
The trauma nurses were shouting out questions, or verbally confirming their own actions, but Andy couldn’t quite hear the words. Her eyes were drawn almost magnetically to the woman’s shoes – the same ‘cute’ leopardskin ballet pumps that Andy had worn to work that morning. Once in the hospital, they’d be traded for the requisite running shoes that made a whole day on her feet bearable, but there was no mistaking that these were the exact same shoes as the ones currently tucked away in Andy’s locker.
Swallowing hard, she finally zoned in on one of the nurses shouting ‘Hey’ from the other side of the gurney.
Andy snapped to attention, barking out a few simple commands and pressing her stethoscope to the woman’s exposed chest. The nurse came back with what Andy needed to know.
“21-year-old female found down at the park. Rape victim.” The nurse paused, even in the hardened reality of the trauma team, that crime still caused an uncomfortable moment. “Her status is: post-trauma, she came in with a GCS of 6, BP 80 over 60, head trauma, unequal breath sounds, right pupil is dilated, and she's ready for x-ray. You ready to roll?”
There was challenge in her tone, and Andy realized she hadn’t exactly been impressive so far. With a calming breath, she summoned up all the authority she could muster.
“Yes I am. Call CT, tell them to be ready for me. I’ll get the X-Rays while I’m down there. And you’d better let the OR know we’ll be there before long.”
In a sudden flurry of activity, Andy found herself pushing the gurney with a couple of nurses flanking her all the way to the elevator. Her heart was beating fast, the thrill of a real patient taking over Andy’s initial discomfort. This was going to be a bit of a day.
Having cut in line at both CT and X-Ray, it wasn’t long before Andy was wheeling her patient into OR 2. She’d spent the wait time talking to the unconscious patient, whose belongings had identified her as Alison. Andy was already starting to feel protective of the poor girl. If anyone tried to send her out of this OR, she really wouldn’t be responsible for her actions.
She quickly scrubbed in as the rest of the team assembled around the operating table, and by the time she squeezed her hands into waiting gloves, Miranda and Dr. Thompson had taken up their positions by the head and side of Alison, ready to get to work on saving her.
Andy knew better than to get personally invested in a patient, it had been drummed into her since the first day of med school (and honestly, for years before that in the rare conversations with her mother). Nonetheless, she found herself living and dying with every cut, stitch and spoken command over Alison's body. Standing in the small cluster of residents and interns not yet directly involved, she watched Miranda's latex-covered hands working efficiently to stop the brain bleed identified on the scans, while Dr. Thompson was deftly re-inflating Alison's collapsed lung.
The monitors beeped in a steady rhythm, and although Alison had looked close to death when first wheeled in, there had been no cardiac or respiratory crises as yet. Conversation struck up as the two accomplished surgeons worked, Miranda softly spoken and reticent on details, while Christian Thompson turned on the sort of charm that had always left Andy determined never to date a doctor. Miranda seemed unimpressed by it, from the little Andy could see of the expression about her surgical mask. Still, things stayed civil enough, and as they cataloged the damage, Andy felt a fresh wave of sadness engulf her.
What kind of monster did this to a young woman? In broad daylight, too, in the middle of a busy city park. One thing was for damn sure, Andy promised herself: she'd be putting her forgotten pepper spray back in her purse and taking it everywhere from now on.
Christian let out a low whistle as the list of injuries drew to a close.
"You know, a lot of these are defensive. This little lady fought, she really gave the guy what for."
Miranda fixed him with a momentary glare, before turning her attention back to the laceration she was stitching.
"Yes, it would seem this girl's a fighter."
Unable to bear it, Andy spoke up without thinking.
"Alison." Christian and Miranda both turned to stare at her. "Her name is Alison."
Miranda, at least, seemed to take Andy's point. Instead of talking about Alison like some kind of curiosity, she continued her work in silence. Only when Christian pulled a fleshy lump from Alison's digestive tract did the conversation in the room begin to ripple loudly again.
"What the hell?" Christian turned the object back and forth under the surgical lights, apparently bemused by his discovery.
"What is that?" Miranda snapped, her question full of impatient.
Nobody spoke, although the whispers around Andy suggested she wasn't the only one to have worked it out. Having spoken up already, she figured it couldn't be any worse.
"It's uh, it's a penis."
Christian visibly paled as he made the connection for himself, and for a comical split-second, it looked like he was going to drop it.
"She bit it off?" He spluttered, and every other man in the OR was horror-struck.
"Well," Miranda replied, "we'd better keep fighting every bit as hard as she did."
Andy felt a surge of warmth at Miranda's words. So much for the rumors flying around the corridors about 'Beastly Priestly' and the 'Wicked Witch of the East'. Maybe she was biased, but all she'd seen so far was a tough but fair woman, not to mention a particularly badass surgeon. To hell with what everyone else thought.
The rest of the surgery passed without incident, and Andy waited to follow Alison back to the ward. Now the waiting game began: to see if Alison would ever regain consciousness.
The long wait took its toll on Andy pretty quickly, and before long she found herself looking for company. Doug found her first, and seeing her miserable expression he offered to let her in on his newest cure for the rigors of the surgical program. Expecting food, or maybe an unused on-call room, Andy was confused when he led her towards the nursery. She was even more surprised when they stopped in front of the huge window that overlooked rows of shiny, smiley newborns.
Andy had barely had a maternal thought in her life, and she'd hardly had a role model that way in her own mother, but damned if she didn't feel better watching those tiny fingers form fists, while unseeing eyes stared at the lights and colors of the room around them. Even through the glass, the low-level burbling and cooing of baby noise sounded more soothing to Andy than any whale-music ever had.
Too soon, Doug was paged away to another code, and he took off with enthusiasm to 'save another life'.
She turned back for one last look at the only peaceful place in the hospital, only to watch in horror as the pudgy baby boy at the end of the second row turned blue right before her eyes. Reacting on pure instinct, she swiped her keycard to enter and pulled her stethoscope from around her neck. By the time she pressed the smooth metal to the baby’s chest, his color had returned to normal. She was checking the chart when a Paeds intern came rushing in, her lilac scrubs an easy identifier.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She asked, and the familiar rivalry between surgery and other specialties reared its head in that sentence alone. Andy sighed, but straightened her back, ready for the challenge.
“This kid has a murmur. Why have no tests been ordered?”
The other intern was staring Andy down, clearly irritated.
“You’re not even supposed to be in here. And it’ll go away with age—it’s a benign systolic ejection murmur.”
“But you didn’t order tests to make sure?” Andy wasn’t prepared to let it drop that easily.
“Not necessary. I’m a doctor too, you know. Why don’t you go back to cutting people up before I get my resident in here to throw you out?”
Not willing to cross the line for a hunch, at least not quite yet, Andy backed down. She walked out of the nursery with her head held high, wishing Doug had been there to witness the baby turning blue as well. A little corroboration wouldn’t hurt.
By the time she made it back to the surgical floor, Andy found herself surrounded by fellow interns whose names she barely knew. Each one had a shouted offer about rent, about cooking habits, about being the best roommate in the history of house shares, and though Andy knew that she’d have to get someone in to afford staying in her mom’s house, she was beginning to regret posting the damn notice in the first place.
She was saved by the approach of Miranda, whose mere presence was enough to scatter the usually arrogant surgical interns like dust in the wind. Andy figured she’d better start listening into the rumor mill at some point, to find out exactly what was so scary about Dr. Priestly. She didn’t need to be asked, falling into step with Miranda as she walked past as though starting a familiar dance on the right beat.
They came to a halt outside Alison’s recovery room, the monitors bleeping softly in their disjointed harmonies, but Andy held back as Miranda strolled in to perform some basic checks. With another look at the chart and a sweep of her penlight, Miranda sighed softly in frustration. No change, Andy surmised.
“I’ve called every hospital in the county.” Miranda said, though it wasn’t clear if she even knew Andy was still there. She hadn’t even turned around, her attention fixed firmly on Alison.
“Sooner or later, the rapist scumbag who did this will seek medical attention. And we have the evidence to nail him.”
Andy nodded, relieved that she hadn’t been tasked with custody of the detached penis. It would have meant another run-in with the Chief, and given his apparent fondness for her mother, Andy deemed it wise to avoid him as much as possible. Too many questions would only lead to trouble, after all.
“Where’s her family?” Andy asked, noticing the sadly empty visitors’ chairs.
“She doesn’t have any. No siblings; both parents deceased. She only moved to Seattle three weeks ago. Welcome to the city.”
Miranda’s wry attempt at dark humor did nothing to conceal her obvious concern—something about this patient was getting under her skin. Andy wanted badly to offer some kind of comfort, but in that moment, inspiration struck.
“Sorry, I—I have to go.”
With that, she took off in search of the solution to her baby problem.
Andy took the stairs two at a time as she went in search of Dr. Thompson. She had paged him, but it was quicker to seek him out given that there was no actual emergency; not yet anyway.
She finally found him in the cafeteria, flirting with a nurse. Not caring if she interrupted, Andy insinuated herself between the pair and ignored the glare from the nurse. It wasn’t hard to get his attention, at least while discussing the tet spell and murmur.
“So which Paeds attending will I be working with?”
“That’s the thing, Dr. Thompson—“
“Please, call me Christian.”
“Christian,” Andy amended with what she hoped was her most dazzling smile. “They haven’t technically asked for a referral.”
To Andy’s relief, he laughed at her willful disregard of the rules.
“You mean you want me to help you steal a patient? I was wrong about you, Andy Sachs. I thought you were by the book, all the way.”
Christian looked over her shoulder at that point, gesturing no doubt to the nurse he’d been forced to abandon.
“I only break the rules when a patient needs me to, I swear.” Andy tried to keep her voice as charming as possible. “Can I count on your help then?”
Laughing less convincingly this time, Christian’s nice guy image slipped away in front of her eyes.
“Listen, Sachs, I’m a busy man. You bring me a viable case with the proper consent and I’ll take it. Until then, I don’t have time to break the rules for some upstart intern who probably won’t survive the first six months. It’s not like I’m the Chief or something.”
The bitterness in his tone seemed disproportionate to the favor that Andy had asked, but Christian took advantage of her hesitation to rejoin his lunch date. Sighing in frustration, Andy just about resisted the urge to kick something on her way out of the cafeteria.
She made her way back down to the pit, but her pager remained annoyingly silent. Typical of Seattle to choose today to be light on traumatic incidents. Where were all the careless drivers when Andy needed them? Not wanting to be sucked into menial tasks or suturing, Andy took off for the deserted basement the group had made their own, figuring she may as well raid the stash of textbooks there and bone up on some cool surgeries.
It wasn’t really a surprise to find Emily already there, her shockingly red hair falling around her face as she lost herself in the pages of a cardio journal. It took three loud coughs and a sharp nudge to get her to even notice Andy’s arrival, but Emily scooted up on the broken gurney without having to be asked.
“I’m having a bad day,” Andy confessed. “And somehow that led to kissing Miranda. In an elevator.”
Emily’s head snapped up at that little tidbit, the intricacies of valve replacement techniques no longer holding sway over her.
“In an elevator? Really, Andy, have you no class?”
“Hey!” Andy protested, aiming a gentle slap at Emily’s forearm.
“Anyway, I thought she didn’t let anyone but a patient ride in the elevators with her?”
Which, Andy realized, would explain the nurses who had scurried off or treated the arriving elevator like it was invisible. Miranda’s reputation was clearly well-known to everyone but the intern she’d slept with. Great.
“She let me. I didn’t mean to--kiss her, I mean—it just sort of happened.”
“I wish my bad days included a lot of ‘accidental’ snogging,” Emily sighed, turning her attention back to the article in her lap.
Just then, Andy’s trauma pager sprang to life with a shrill beep that echoed in the empty corridor.
“No rest for the wicked,” she groaned as she got to her feet.
“Try not to make out with anyone, if you can possibly avoid it.” Emily’s parting shot wasn’t the meanest, but it managed to make Andy smile. The smile stayed on her face until she raced into the pit and saw the sleazy looking guy clutching his very blood-stained pants.
Got him, Andy thought to herself, and as she ran through the basic orders, it was tempting for a moment to order a bunch of painful and unnecessary tests. Unfortunately, surgery was the priority to stop the bleeding, and so Andy had the nurses call ahead to the OR and page Dr. Kipling to perform the surgery.
Emily arrived moments later and scrubbed in to observe, and the gallery was soon packed with the curious forms of most surgical interns, not to mention a few residents. Part of Andy was screaming not to operate at all, to let the scumbag bleed to death there in front of them all, let him suffer just a fraction of what he’d put poor, battered Alison through. Andy took another peek at the gallery, just in the moment that Miranda arrived, leaning against the door with her arms folded, apart from the rest of the crowd.
Forcing her attention back to the surgery in front of her, Andy watched Dr. Kipling begin to investigate the injury. Apart from a brief wince, he managed to keep his face impassive. Before long, it was another teaching opportunity.
“Sachs: why are we not attempting to reattach the severed penis?”
Andy almost kept the smirk off her face as she replied.
“Because teeth don’t slice cleanly, they tear. And the digestive juices did too much damage anyway.”
Kipling nodded as he continued to place pads strategically and then stitch quickly.
“Charlton: what’s the prognosis?”
Emily straightened in pleasure at being called upon, her inherent kiss-ass mode coming straight to the fore.
“Well, he’ll be urinating into a bag for a very, very long time. Not to mention that he won’t be having sex ever again.”
Looking up at them for a moment, Dr. Kipling allowed just a glimmer of fraternity to show.
“Let’s all take a moment to grieve over that.
Charting at the nurses’ station later, Andy was beginning to feel so tired that every blink threatened to turn into an unscheduled nap. Only Emily and Nate bickering behind her kept her conscious, so although it was tempting, she couldn’t afford to tell them to shut the hell up.
“My head hurts,” Nate whined, bouncing a tennis ball off the nearest wall in a maddening rhythm.
“Maybe it’s a brain tumor,” Emily snarked back, without even looking up from her own pile of lab results.
Nate aimed the next throw at her feet, but was disappointed when with lightning-fast reflexes, Emily simply snatched the ball away and spoiled his fun.
“You wish I had a brain tumor.”
“Don’t tempt me,” Emily replied. “I’d rip your face off, if it meant getting a chance to scrub in.”
At that point, Serena walked up, and Andy couldn’t help an appreciative glance at the way the gorgeous woman conducted herself. Seattle Grace really had her spoiled for eye candy, and it was a wonder anyone got any work done. She hadn’t had a read for Emily or Serena on her gaydar as yet, but at least Emily hadn’t been weird about Andy confessing to a girl-on-girl fling. Not that Andy was planning on sleeping with anyone else at work, ever again. Life was way too complicated without more of that.
And yeah, a small voice in the back of her mind conceded, she was still hoping at some kind of shot with Miranda—no matter how vociferously Andy and her ‘line’ protested.
Flexing her hands, which had to be cramping from hours of suturing, Serena pulled herself up to sit on the desk.
“Does anyone else feel like they don’t know what the hell they’re doing?”
Every other person at the desk put their hand up in answer. No hesitation, the tiredness making them brutally honest.
“I’m learning how not to sleep,” Emily conceded. “Which would be useful if I had any hope of a surgery to stay awake for.”
“I found a sick baby upstairs and nobody will let me help him,” Andy said quietly, the subject weighing heavily on her.
“Scared of breaking the rules, Sachs?” Nate was teasing, his hands shoved in the pocket of his labcoat. Andy considered lecturing him on how she didn’t want to be thrown out of the program, but she lacked the energy. Instead, she dragged herself to her feet.
“I didn’t say I was done yet,” Andy said. “I’ll see you guys later.”
Lurking outside the nursery, it didn’t take long to identify the baby’s parents. It seemed each set only had eyes for their own little one, a kind of tunnel vision that Andy could certainly understand. And as she took a deep breath, mentally justifying what she was about to do, Andy knew that this wasn’t about scoring a chance to cut. A baby might die because of something they could fix, and no doctor should stand by and let that happen.
“That’s your baby?” Andy asked, pointing to the little boy who seemed to be sleeping peacefully in his cot.
“Yeah, he’s ours,” the dad responded, beaming in that punch-drunk way that new parents seemed to have. Andy felt a fresh wave of guilt at the thought of denting that happiness, but she plowed on.
It didn’t take her long to explain her concerns, and she maintained eye contact even as both parents’ faces crumbled with concern. She’d just finished explaining about the tests they should demand be performed with the Paeds intern from earlier came storming across the corridor.
“You are so out of line!” She hissed at Andy, not stopping to address the parents.
“She says our baby is sick – is that true?” The mom asked, and Andy felt some relief that they’d listened to her. It hadn’t always worked that way so far, with her young face and sometimes messy appearance.
“The echo is benign,” the Paeds intern explained, her voice calm and professional--but she quickly turned back to Andy with a sneer. “It’s your career; I’m gonna get my resident.”
“I’m sorry about this,” Andy began to explain, but moments later the intern had returned with a resident Andy didn’t recognize. Damn, she’d been hoping for Dr. Robbins, who had been friendly and helpful on the one day Andy had covered Pediatrics so far.
“Is there a problem here?” The resident asked, with weariness quite apparent in his voice.
“If our baby is sick, we want all the tests run. Now.” The dad spoke up, his shoulders tensed for a fight.
“Who said your baby is sick?” The resident continued, although his glare at Andy said he already knew the answer. Unfortunately, his intern was perfectly happy to speak up.
“A surgical intern who’s not even supposed to be up here, never mind causing unnecessary stress.”
“On whose authority are you taking this patient?” He was looking almost happy to be throwing Andy out, and that just made her feel even worse.
“Well, I uh, that is I thought that I should—“
“I sent her up here, Jake,” a voice said from somewhere behind Andy. She turned around to see the unexpected but very welcome form of Dr. Thompson approaching.
“Christian—I didn’t realize. I’ll get the chart for you.”
The intern spoke up, obviously pissed that Andy had escaped an ass-kicking.
“They can do that?”
“He’s an attending,” Jake explained. “He can do whatever he wants.”
While they waited for the paperwork and transfer to get started, Andy watched in quiet awe as Christian charmed the parents and eased their worries. He rattled off a list of tests for Andy to get done ASAP, but the glint in his eye said he agreed that the case was surgical. Practically skipping down the corridor, Andy wheeled the bassinet with the still-sleeping baby to the nearest exam room.
Andy 1, Universe 0, she noted silently, unable to suppress her smile.
It didn’t take long to run the tests, since each stop on her mini-circuit let a sleepy baby jump to the head of the line. With a fistful of results, Andy tracked Christian down to the doctors’ lounge, and as he flicked through the pages, he nodded in confirmation.
She was feeling tired and grubby from the long and difficult shift, but the thought of being right lifted her spirits in an instant.
“It’s a birth defect,” Christian explained. “Tetrology affirmed lower pulmonary atresia. I’m booking the OR for tomorrow.”
“Thanks so much for having my back,” Andy answered, diplomatically ignoring the part where he hadn’t at first.
“Whoa, there. Now, I know you’ve got some pedigree Sachs, but if you pull another stunt like that, potentially pissing off a whole department by stealing a patient? I will make your life here very difficult.”
The scolding couldn’t take the edge off Andy’s high though, so she nodded contritely without feeling bad at all.
Christian stood to leave, running his fingers through blond curls in a way that he probably thought was appealing.
“Although you keep bringing me cool surgeries like this and I might look the other way. Maybe even take you out to dinner to say thanks.”
With that, he left, obviously thinking he’d made the first step in seducing another foolish intern. Andy laughed quietly to herself—if only he knew how wrong he was.
The night passed in a blur of charting and collecting labs for every doctor still working. Seizing her chance before rounds, Andy ran back up to Pediatrics before the second 24 hours of her shift began.
It didn’t take her long to find the intern she’d pissed off, and Andy was grateful for that. At least the girl seemed in a better mood, going so far as to shake Andy’s hand in greeting.
“I really thought I was right, you know? But his surgery is scheduled for this afternoon.”
“I know. We’re almost never right, but when you feel it, you feel it. We’re interns, we’re not supposed to be right. That’s why everyone acts so shocked when we are.”
The girl considered Andy’s point, nodding as she pressed a stethoscope to the chest of another sleeping baby.
“Are you ever—I mean, being an intern, do you feel—“
“Terrified,” Andy interrupted. “100% of the time.”
“Well, if the arrogant jerks in surgery can feel terrified, I guess it’s not just me. Thank God for that.”
Andy laughed, and checking her watch one last time, decided she had time for another stop before Dr. Kipling called them for rounds. Down in the ICU, she was stunned to find Miranda asleep in an uncomfortable visitor’s chair next to Alison’s bed.
With a gentle touch to Miranda’s shoulder, Andy woke her.
“How is she?” Andy asked, gesturing towards Alison.
Miranda took a moment to focus, scanning the machines and monitors as though to confirm her own thoughts.
“Have you been here all night?” Andy asked, wishing she’d thought to bring coffee.
“Yes.” Miranda eased out of the chair, stretching with that balletic grace that Andy had noticed on that first morning, in her living room. Even with smudges under her eyes and mussed hair, the woman still looked stunning in the weak dawn light spilling through the high windows. Andy was enthralled at the sight, trying not to be too obvious as she stared.
“I have family,” Miranda began, before seeming to change her mind. “If I were in a coma, there would be people here. I think I’d want them here, too. But having no one? I can’t imagine that.”
The wistful tone struck somewhere deep inside Andy.
“I can,” she admitted, her voice barely a whisper. The thought hung in the air between them for a moment, before Miranda drew her eyes away from Alison.
“What are you talking about?” It was snappish, and for a moment Andy understood the fear of the other interns. “What about your mother? She’d be flying in experts from Prague, or arguing to do the surgery herself, and to hell with the AMA.”
For a brief, panicked moment, Andy considered the possibility that Miranda and her mother might know each other. But there had been ample opportunity to mention that, and so Andy had to assume it was just the reputation talking, as normal. Wiping an unexpected tear with the back of her hand, Andy sighed softly.
“That’s true. I do have my mother.”
If Miranda detected anything off in Andy’s tone, she kept it to herself. With one last look at Alison’s monitors, she crossed the room to stand beside Andy. In her very quiet voice, Miranda started a completely different conversation.
“So we can kiss, but we can’t date?” Despite Miranda’s obvious disdain for the term, the question seemed sincere.
“I knew that was going to come up,” Andy groaned.
“Don’t misunderstand me, Andréa, I have no objection to the kissing. It’s just mystifying to me that kissing should be acceptable, but not anything more.”
A long pause hovered between them, as Andy considered her words.
“I have no idea what that kiss—uh, those kisses—were about. I didn’t mean to lead you on.”
Miranda turned fully towards Andy with one raised eyebrow.
“Is it going to happen again? I’d appreciate a little warning. I need to know whether to carry lipstick with me so I can undo your particular brand of damage to it.”
“Oh, shut up,” Andy said with a grin, because despite the weak-ass complaint, she was kind of flattered by Miranda’s continuing interest. If only it wasn’t the worst idea, you know, ever.
She thought of the baby having surgery in a few hours, and her mood deflated all over again.
“There’s this baby up in the nursery, and he’s brand new. No one’s neglected him, or damaged him yet. How do we get from that to this?” Andy took a deep breath, aware she was rambling slightly. “She’s wearing the same shoes as me, and someone’s beat the crap out of her, and she’s got nobody.”
Any response Miranda might have had, whether mocking or understanding, was interrupted by a loud and frantic beeping.
Alison was crashing.
On pure instinct, Andy reached across to smack the code alarm with her palm, but Miranda had already sprung into action, yanking off leads and maneuvering the bed ready for transport. As the doctors and nurses arrived, she barked out commands in a low, but still quiet voice.
“Get us into an OR. Emergency craniotomy, coming straight up!”
Having forced herself to go about her rounds, Andy found it hard to concentrate and so she let Emily and Serena suck up all the attention and limited praise that Nigel dished out, Andy was ready and waiting outside OR 1 when Miranda scrubbed out.
“I had to leave the skull flap off,” Miranda sighed, with no preamble. “Until the pressure in her brain goes down.”
“She isn’t going to make it, is she?” Andy couldn’t keep the tremor from her voice, nor hide the fresh tears welling up in her eyes.
To her credit, Miranda didn’t comment on either sign of weakness.
“She’s going to be fine. The craniotomy was textbook.”
Andy longed for Miranda’s steely confidence.
“If she ever wakes up?”
With a discreet hand laid on Andy’s forearm, Miranda dropped her head in a temporary moment of defeat, causing white strands to escape her still-tied scrub cap.
“If she ever wakes up,” Miranda confirmed.
Unwilling to let any actual tears fall in front of her boss, Andy pulled away from Miranda’s grip and took off down the hall. She’d made it almost to the washroom when she ran into Christian, who didn’t seem to notice her slightly distraught state.
“Dr Sachs, the rulebreaker.”
Andy offered a half-assed smile in return.
“Go scrub in; OR 2. Once the chest is cracked, I’ll let you hold the clamp.”
It was just the jolt Andy needed to turn her crappy day around. Pediatric surgeries were even more intricate and complex, and getting to actually be involved instead of observing was a hell of a boost.
“Don’t make me change my mind, Sachs.”
He patted her on the shoulder in a not-that-creepy kind of way, and Andy changed her path to head for the OR. Only when she turned around did she see that Miranda had been watching the whole exchange, and was pursing her lips in what appeared to be disapproval.
Well, Andy rationalized, Miranda hadn’t offered an in on the craniotomy, so screw it. With a nod and a smile, she trotted down the corridor past Miranda without stopping, ready for open-heart surgery.
Suddenly the day didn’t feel so pathetically long anymore.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six - Winning a Battle, Losing the War
Andy cursed under her breath as she scurried towards the hospital. With her car in the shop she’d been forced to take the bus, and even with three separate alarms she’d still managed to sleep late. As she approached the corner opposite the main entrance, she caught sight of a familiar shock of silver hair a few feet in front.
One thing she was not in the mood for was another round of flirting, or being made to feel awkward about working with Christian Thompson all week. Besides, Andy reminded herself, she was nowhere close to picking a specialty yet, so why not learn from a Cardio God while she had the chance? It meant working with Emily most days too, since Em had her heart set on pursuing Cardio, and it was nice to have fun and snarky company.
With one last street to cross, Andy hung back to let Miranda get ahead of her again. As she lingered, Nigel Kipling came strolling along the other sidewalk, joining Miranda as they waited for the lights to change. Unable to resist, Andy stepped just a little bit closer, close enough to overhear them.
“Honestly, Nigel, I’ve known you since you were a badly dressed med student – are we really going with formality?”
“Fine. You’re looking well, Miranda. Though I still can’t quite believe you’re here—-it used to be difficult enough to get you to Brooklyn, never mind the West Coast.”
“People change,” Miranda explained in that offhand way of hers. Seeming agitated as she sipped from a Starbucks cup, it left Andy feeling a strange compulsion to step up and offer a decent shoulder rub.
“Hmm, maybe they do. I feel like I’m forgetting something about today—-“ Nigel seemed distracted as they all watched for the lights to change in their favor, but just as the impatient Miranda moved to step out into dwindling traffic, Nigel grabbed her arm.
Just in time, too, because a split-second later an avalanche of crazily-ridden bikes came sweeping past them. At least two or three guys went flying off onto the road surface as the loud, jostling group took the corner way too fast. Andy watched in amazement as bruised and bleeding guys in their early twenties picked themselves up and got back on their bikes, in one case pulling the bike out from under a car forced into an emergency stop.
Oh, this much carnage was going to be great.
Ten minutes later, hastily changed and joining her little intern posse, Andy was listening intently to Dr. Kipling.
“Today is the Dead Baby Bike Race. To any non-locals, may I introduce you to one of Seattle’s premier cultural and sporting events.”
“Dead Baby what?” Nate asked, much too loudly. Doug, born and raised in Seattle, answered him in an urgent half-whisper.
“The Dead Baby Bar—-every year they have this underground bike race.”
Which rang a bell for Andy—-even in Boston her mom had talked about it with the macabre fondness of a surgeon.
“Right,” she backed Doug up, aware that Nate had a nasty habit of picking on Doug given half a chance. “It’s totally illegal, and the only rule is ‘no eye-gouging’.”
“Who would call their bar something so horrible?” Serena piped up, disgust apparent on her pretty face.
“Keep your pants on, Nancy Drew,” Nate shot back at her.
“Natural selection,” Nigel intoned, having let them chatter enough between themselves for one morning. “It’s weeding out the terminally stupid from the herd.”
“I don’t know,” Emily mused. “No holds barred competition sounds kind of exciting, really.”
“You would say that,” Andy muttered, although she smiled at Emily to show she meant it in the good way.
“When we’re quite done gossiping,” Nigel interrupted, his already short patience clearly wearing thin. “You will all be in the Pit, and I don’t want to hear a word of complaint.”
Grumbles broke out in the group regardless. Having added the trauma gear to their scrubs as they talked, the interns followed Nigel into the rapidly filling ER, trying not to get carried away. Emily was the first to betray her cool.
“Oh, this is like Christmas morning; but with blood, which is so much better.
“Okay,” Nigel instructed, clearly looking to escape back to the surgical floors as soon as humanly possible. “Sew fast, discharge faster. If it even smells surgical, get them up to the OR and page the relevant resident on the way. And no fighting over patients—they all need to be treated.”
With that, he swept back out of the ER, leaving them to find a chart or an unattended patient in the really loud craziness.
Despite Nate almost barging her into a gurney, Andy managed to snag the skater guy with the bike spokes sticking out of his abdomen. She had managed to get a first name out of him for the chart when Nate made his second attempt; so much for not fighting over patients.
“Hey, how about you give me this guy, and I take you out tonight to say thanks?”
Andy rolled her eyes, not missing the smirk on the patient’s face either.
“What is that? You’ll buy me a day-old sandwich from the cafeteria and call it dinner? You’re broke too. So get your own patient. And don’t flirt with me.”
“Ooh, burn,” their patient chimed in. “Now, about this metal in my stomach?”
“We need to do some tests, Mr. uh… Viper? Then we can book you in for surgery,” Andy explained, making a few more notes on his chart from her visual exam.
“Can’t we just pull them out?” Viper asked, with what he obviously thought was a winning smile. Andy was really starting to be over guys with ‘winning’ smiles trying to manipulate her. Give her frosty neurosurgeons who rarely smiled any day.
“Sure we can,” Nate chimed in, before pulling the spokes out one-two-three. It took all of Andy’s willpower not to beat him around the head with her clipboard.
“What? It’s superficial—he’s walking and talking!”
“Urgh, you idiot. What about his peritoneum-—it could be ruptured.” Andy was yelling, but thankfully the noise around them drowned it out.
“Whatever,” Nate sighed.
“Well, I’m not putting my name anywhere near this case,” Andy said, throwing the chart towards Nate. You discharge him.”
With that, she stalked off to find another patient. She’d barely made it ten steps before a stressed-looking nurse handed off a teenager with a bleeding head wound. Sutures were better than nothing, Andy supposed.
The stitches took hardly any time, and as Andy looked around for her next (hopefully surgical case) she was surprised to see Viper walking towards her. With a cheeky grin, he motioned for her to join him in one of the still-empty exam rooms. Hoping he’d finally seen the light about letting her run additional tests, Andy shrugged and followed.
“Hey, I gotta go win my race.”
“Well, don’t let me stop you.” Andy let the irritation show in her voice.
“That frat guy said I’m gonna be fine. I just wanted to know if you’ll meet me at the finish line party, since you’re not going out with him tonight.”
“You really think you have a shot here?” Andy asked, not quite believing the cojones on the guy. “And that frat guy is an ass. You shouldn’t be leaving this hospital.”
“I already signed some AMA form, love. But I need one thing before I go,” Viper stepped closer as he spoke.
“And what’s that?” Andy asked.
Viper kissed her full on the mouth. She hadn’t been dating guys in the past year or so, but Andy couldn’t help but respond. The guy might be a near-suicidal idiot, but he knew how to kiss.
“That was for good luck,” Viper smirked before practically skipping out of the room. Andy smiled and shook her head. She turned around to return to the ER when the sight of Miranda leaning against the doorframe stopped her in her tracks.
“Can I, uh, help you Dr. Priestly?”
“You’re kissing patients now?”
Andy decided not to dignify that with a response. Since the initial crush in the ER seemed to have calmed, she was going to grab a cup of coffee while she had half a chance of actually getting to drink it.
“What are you, jealous?” She had to say something, since Miranda had opted to follow her towards the cafeteria.
“I don’t get jealous,” said Miranda, like someone who hadn’t just acted exactly that way.
“Good. Because we only had sex once,” Andy pointed out, ducking into a side corridor to keep the conversation relatively private.
“And we kissed,” Miranda pointed out. “In an elevator.”
“Once!” Andy hissed, painfully aware of how close Miranda was standing.
“So why not go out with me? Then we could kiss in more appealing environments,” Miranda suggested, the flicker of a smile playing on her lips.
“No,” Andy replied, but it didn’t sound as firm as she’d like.
“You know I almost died today. Crazed cyclists came this close. Are you sure you want to miss your chance?”
“Oh, get over yourself,” Andy said, not wanting to admit how Miranda’s flirting was getting to her.
“I think you’re the one who needs to get over herself. And your mystifying opposition to dating someone you’re obviously attracted to,” Miranda reasoned, not dissuaded at all by Andy’s rejection.
“Is this some thrill of the chase thing? You’re only interested because I turned you down? You know you’re my boss, you know it’s against the rules, and you know that I keep saying no. So I’m thinking it has to be the chase.”
“I’m not accustomed to being told no,” Miranda admitted. “But I’m finding the experience rather fun.”
“Well, you have your fun,” Andy said, striding back out into the main corridor. “Unlike you, I still have something to prove. So you’ll be having your fun without me.”
A few minutes later, coffee in hand, Andy was ready to resume the stitch and bitch morning in the ER. Just before she made it through the doors, she was tackled by an even more tense than normal Emily.
“Ow,” she said pointedly, but Emily didn’t seem to notice.
“I have just spent twenty minutes performing CPR on a dead man,” Emily grumbled. “All because Serena apparently attended a medical school that doesn’t mention death as a potential outcome.”
“Didn’t Serena go to Yale?” Andy asked, more than a little confused.
“That’s not the bloody point,” Emily snapped. “She can’t seem to accept that this guy is legally dead, and even the prospect of him being an organ donor isn’t distracting her from Mission sodding Impossible.”
“Oh, so she’s unspooling? That sounds kind of fun to watch, actually.” Andy was already too tired to be nice.
“She’s the vice-president of fantasyland. But we’re in it now, and her patient needs an aortic repair if he’s going to be a viable donor.”
“So we go to Nigel?” Andy asked, wondering exactly when she became part of this ‘we’.
“Needs to be higher than Kipling,” Emily argued.
Andy sighed. Another cardiology favor was going to be hard to pull off.
Ten minutes later, they spied Christian Thompson walking into the men’s room. With time at a premium, Andy motioned for Emily to follow her.
Christian didn’t exactly look thrilled to be interrupted at the urinal.
“Can I help you, ladies?” His eyebrows were raised nearly all the way to his hairline.
“Dr. Thompson,” Andy began in a rush. “I know you’re busy, but our John Doe needs an aortic repair.”
“John Doe?” Christian looked puzzled for a moment. “Isn’t he legally dead?”
Emily popped her head around the door at that.
“He’s sort of…still around? We think he’s a viable candidate for organ donation.”
Christian sighed, loudly.
“I am a surgeon. I save lives--that means I don’t operate on dead people. Now, this is the men’s room, so either whip one out or leave.”
Recognizing defeat, Andy stepped back into the hall and dragged Emily along with her. For such a skinny girl, she put up a lot of resistance.
“But he said no,” Emily protested.
“We need a new approach,” Andy told her, taking a deep breath and resolving to do that which she really did not want to do. “Wait here.”
It took three different on-call rooms, but Andy finally tracked down Miranda. The look she got from a sleepy Miranda suggested that Andy should join her on the very convenient bunk, but Andy shook it off. She had a mission, after all. Besides, if she was quick, Miranda could get back to her lunchtime nap.
“So let me be clear,” Miranda said after Andy’s babbled explanation. “You’re asking my advice?”
Suddenly Andy felt like a mouse spotted by a particularly hungry cat.
“Yes?” She squeaked.
“Now who’s chasing?” Miranda was positively smirking now, and Andy mentally reminded herself that this was worth it to help Serena, who was lovely even if she was also delusional.
“Not funny,” Andy snapped. “This is serious.”
“Fine,” Miranda responded, with just the hint of a pout. She sat up properly in the lower bunk, running her fingers through her sleep-mussed hair. She looked tired, Andy noticed, but also incredibly attractive.
“If you want to get past Christian Thompson,” Miranda said the name like it left an unpleasant taste in her mouth. “Then you need to get Irv on board somehow.”
“Irv?” Andy asked.
“The Chief,” Miranda said with some irritation, as though speaking to a willful child.
“Right. Good tip. I’ll uh, just go do that, then.”
“I have a shunt procedure in an hour – do you want in?” Miranda asked casually, seemingly not interested one way or another.
“I have this to follow up on. Maybe some other time?” Andy hoped that Miranda wouldn’t be pissed at her. She didn’t hang around to find out though, choosing to depart with a smile instead.
It took almost an hour to hatch a plan with Emily and a surprisingly calm Serena. Getting the chief on board proved easy enough, once they sent Serena in to do her best Doctor Model routine. Andy was reading up on her procedures, hoping that Christian would give her the nod along with Emily. She was technically on his service this week after all.
Instead, the next time she saw Dr. Thompson he was scrubbing in with Nate kissing up to him over the sinks. The floppy-haired jerk had somehow gotten wind of their plan and jumped in to steal the surgery. Andy felt her hands forming fists as she watched him fawn over Christian, even as she admitted to herself that she might have done the same in Nate’s position.
Having run labs and other scut work for the duration of her shift, Andy had the bad luck to be back in the locker room when Nate returned from his hours of surgery with Dr. Thompson. Worse, he chose that moment to get up in her personal space, which she really did not need after a day of Emily’s homicidal muttering and Serena’s poignant thoughts on the meaning of life and how it would be better to save her John Doe instead of saving him just long enough to be an organ donor. The little patience that Andy usually possessed had officially worn away to nothing.
So when Nate backed her into the lockers with a smug grin and an order to ‘smell this’, Andy was ready to snap once and for all.
“I do not want to smell anything, Nate. Get the hell away from me.”
“But it’s the smell of open heart surgery, Sachs.”
Clearly the idiot thought he was turning her on, and between her exhaustion levels and general frustration, Andy had had enough. When the first punch landed on his chest, Andy instantly felt better and so she kept going, punctuating her words with hit after hit, spurred on Nate’s patronizing smile.
“You want to be a little frat boy bitch?” Punch. Slap. His smile wavered just a bit when she really connected.
“Fine. You want to steal surgeries and take credit for other people’s saves? That’s fine too. But everyone will hate you. I already do. Not just stay the hell out of my face.” Punch. Punch. Open-handed slap. “And for the record? You smell horrible.”
Nate was rocking now, kind of stunned that a mere girl could actually hurt him. Only a quiet cough behind her was enough to stop Andy.
“Dr. Sachs? Dr. Karev? What’s going on?”
Great. Miranda. Just the person Andy wanted to walk in on her first mini-meltdown of her career. But then Nate just had to go and make it worse, affecting his best flirty-innocent face.
“She attacked me, for no reason.”
“Oh yeah?” Andy flew at him again, but was stopped by a surprisingly strong arm around her waist.
“Dr. Karev, I suggest you get out of here. Or I’ll let her beat you to death—-with her tiny ineffectual fists.”
Nate wasn’t dumb enough not to grab a chance at escape, but he pulled a face at Andy like the immature jerkwad that he was. Only when the door closed behind him did Miranda let her go, and Andy found herself kind of wishing that she hadn’t.
“What was that about?” Miranda asked, concern apparent on her face.
“One of those days,” Andy non-explained, because she didn’t want to deal with Miranda and her flirting either.
Andy needed some sleep, preferably in an actual bed, and a hot meal at some point. None of that would be achieved making eyes at an attending who thought Andy had gone fully round the bend. Grabbing her street clothes from her locker, she headed out of the door, leaving a silent Miranda behind. So she’d have to change in the car; well, Andy had done worse.
Andy met Emily by the coffee stand at the entrance, reaching gratefully for the offered mocha latte—-ever since buying one to kiss up to Nigel, Andy had been kind of hooked.
“I need roommates,” Andy blurted, having just spent an hour the previous evening going through a nasty stack of bills. “But the thought of living with people from the hospital makes me feel queasy.”
“Wow, if you had to live with them as well as work with them?” Emily considered for a moment. “I think I’d have to start a sweepstake on how long before you snapped and murdered them all.”
“Thanks, Em. This must be why we’re friends.” Andy downed the rest of her coffee, letting the heat of it wake her up once and for all.
Serena met them in the lobby, her sleepless night spelled out on her usually flawless face. Andy couldn’t help but feel a little better at the sight. Even Emily had scaled back her work-of-art makeup, and they were both starting to look like regular human beings. Andy tried not to dwell on the fact that her own beauty ‘regime’ had consisted of a five minute shower and a quick splash of moisturizer for her face.
“You guys ready for leftovers?” Andy asked as they read the board assigning them to another day in the Pit.
“Leftovers?” Serena seemed confused by the term.
“All the idiots from yesterday who were too drunk, or too stupid or too scared to come in for treatment yesterday. I predict lots of infected cuts.”
Andy turned out to be painfully correct, and they all spent a dull few hours stitching and prescribing antibiotics. They had one guy walking around on a fractured tibia, which Andy found a little bit impressive, but otherwise they were dealing with the boring end of the race.
She wasn’t expecting to see Viper in the waiting room when she went to pick up another set of labs, but he smiled weakly at her. Andy walked over to give him a piece of her mind, only to be horrified by the sight of him basically holding his abdomen together with shaking hands. The minor lacs from yesterday had infected and burst the skin, forming one long gash that was already starting to bleed profusely. Before Andy could question Viper, his eyes rolled back in his head and he slid, seemingly boneless, from the hard plastic chair to the floor.
Andy screamed for a gurney, and dropped to the floor to apply pressure to the bleeding wound. She was grateful to still have latex gloves on, but even with her full weight pressing down the blood continued to seep around her fingers.
The nurses wrestled Viper onto the gurney, grumbling at having to work around Andy, but she refused to let go and risk him bleeding out right there. Her heart was pounding already from the thrill of potentially saving a life. She directed the nurses to OR 3, telling them to page Dr. Kipling too. Nigel met them just before the elevators, with Nate hot on his heels.
“Dr. Sachs, there had better be a good reason for you to be straddling my patient.”
In her desire to keep pressure on, Andy had simply jumped up onto the gurney to sit on top of Viper. She didn’t actually care how stupid it looked.
“Look at my hands,” she said, staring Nigel straight in the eye. He did, nodding in understanding.
“Let’s get him upstairs, people. I need to get my intern off this poor boy before we have to add crush injuries to the list.’
Andy pulled a face at Nigel’s back, but continued to press down as the nurses wheeled them into the elevator. Nate attempted to follow.
“No thank you, Dr. Karev. I seem to recall you discharging this patient in record time yesterday. See what happens when you only go after the ‘hot’ cases?”
In a moment of sparkling maturity, Andy stuck her tongue out at Nate, who scowled. She would have flipped him off, too, if it wouldn’t have compromised patient care.
The bustle of the OR took Andy by surprise, but their cool efficiency was comforting right away. A resident stepped in to take over holding the wound closed, and Andy jumped off the gurney without falling flat on her face, which had to be some kind of personal victory.
“Sachs?” Nigel called out from the scrub room. His bald head disappeared under a vibrant red scrub cap, tied nice and tight by one of the nurses.
“Yes, sir?” Andy walked in, not quite daring to hope.
“Sir? I thought we saved all that for the Chief. Although it’s not the worst idea in the world.” Nigel mused for a moment, before remembering why he’d called her in there. “Scrub in. All goes well, I’ll let you sew him up at the end.”
Andy almost broke her neck in her hurry to get her arms under the running water. Nigel allowed a quick smile to escape.
“You probably saved his life, riding him up here like a rodeo bull. Let’s not blow that in there, okay?”
Andy scrubbed hard, watching her pale skin go pink from it. The surgical bug had bitten her hard, and just getting to be in there was cool enough. She took the offered scrub cap and let the nurse tie it on for her. Forcing herself to take a deep breath, Andy closed her eyes for a moment and focused. She was coming home.
Post-surgery she had an ache in the balls of her feet and a crick in her neck that she couldn’t seem to roll out. Investing in regular massages might be a good idea, she thought. Four-hour surgeries were nowhere near the worst she’d have to get through in the next few years. The locker room had already emptied out with the changing of the intern shifts, and Andy knew that her friends were probably already tucked up in bed.
She pulled her shoes out of the locker and forced her tired feet into them, leaving her sneakers for another day on the surgical floor. As she straightened up, she heard the locker room door open and then close behind her.
“It’s not the chase,” Miranda said so softly that Andy almost missed it.
“Hnuh?” Andy was too tired for proper words.
“You and me. It’s not a game. It’s not the ‘thrill of the chase’.”
“Oh,” Andy replied. “Then what is it?”
“It’s your tiny, ineffectual fists. And the fact that you jump on unsuspecting patients to save their lives. And your hair.”
“My hair?” Andy whispered as Miranda stepped even closer, only inches separated them. Miranda closed her eyes.
“It always smells good. And you’re bossy, which no one else dares to be with me. It makes me think maybe you--Andrea Sachs, lowly intern--can keep me in line.”
“Oh,” Andy said, again. “I’m still not going out with you.”
“We’ll see,” Miranda replied, as though Andy hadn’t just shot her down. Smiling, Miranda took her leave.
Leaning back against the locker, Andy let out the sigh that had been building in her chest. She thought of her empty, still dusty house and going home to another night alone. Doing a load of laundry, having a beer and then trying to grab a few precious hours of sleep. Would it really be so much worse to have roommates? Maybe tomorrow she’d ask Doug and Serena, who were both looking for somewhere new. Unlike Emily, whose parents had bought her a new apartment to say ‘congratulations’ on her new job.
And roommates would also prevent her from doing anything stupid, like inviting Miranda Priestly back to her bed. It might be worth it for that alone.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven - No Man's Land
Andy slammed the door of the Jeep in supreme irritation, but neither Doug nor Serena heard it over the sound of their bickering. They’d been sniping at each other since 4am, when Serena had woken Andy up with a cup of coffee, wearing only a skimpy tank top and Hello Kitty underwear. Not that the ensemble had given Andy’s sleepy libido any cause for complaint, but Doug had been ranting ever since about being a man and being treated like one. Clearly, his crush on Serena was interfering with what Andy had originally assumed to be pretty obvious gayness. But what the hell did she care, if they’d just shut up?
She barreled into the locker room in the darkest of moods, and the respite from Serena and Doug ending their argument was brief--Nate immediately started in on Serena, waving a magazine in her face and calling her Doctor Model again. Andy should have beat the crap out of him when she had the chance.
Emily was sitting on one of the benches, already studying a chart. Andy didn’t want to think about how early Em had to have gotten there, but she sat down on the bench and bumped shoulders with her anyway.
“I’m going to be in surgery today, Andrea,” Emily said without ever taking her eyes off a page of lab results.
“Like I’d tell you,” Emily snorted. “You’re the one screwing an attending; get your own surgeries,” she added, sotto voce.
Andy opened her mouth to protest, but at that moment Miranda appeared in the doorway, and the presence of an attending was enough to silence the room in an instant.
“Dr. Sachs? Can I borrow you a moment?”
Since she was already in her scrubs, Andy had no excuse but to follow Miranda out into the hallway. Miranda hadn’t changed yet, but she looked effortlessly stylish in a black pantsuit and a dangerously dipping white blouse. The slash of red leather at her waist was complimented by what had to be a real ruby pendant at her throat. Andy couldn’t help but lick her lips at the sight.
“Did you want something, Dr. Priestly?” Andy asked the question sweetly, but followed it up with a little sting. “Or are we just taking a tour of this first floor corridor?”
“I have a cordotomy at 5.00am. I’ll be done in an hour. I thought I might take you to breakfast after rounds.”
“I’ve eaten,” Andy shot back, already on the defensive. She couldn’t let her guard down for a minute.
“What did you have?” Miranda asked, as they approach the staircase.
“None of your business!” Andy hissed, because an approaching nurse was giving them a funny look.
“Bacon? Or maybe just cereal, since you don’t look awake enough to have cooked anything? Or maybe one of your new roommates made you pancakes?”
“Fine. I had leftover grilled cheese, if you must know,” Andy replied, noting Miranda’s dramatic wince at the news. Andy was also not thinking about how Miranda knows anything about her living arrangements. Goddamn gossipy hospital.
“That is a crime against food, Andrea. A good breakfast sets the tone for your whole day.”
“Listen,” Andy barked as they enter the stairwell. “I am not being seen with you in the hospital. We are not ‘hanging out’. We are not having breakfast.”
“I’m simply an attending getting to know one of my interns,” Miranda protested, with a smirk.
“An intern you happen to have slept with.”
“When I barely knew said intern,” Miranda pointed out, though she sounded a little less patient, a little less playful.
“You barely know me now. Please, keep it that way,” Andy didn’t care if she sounded like she’s begging.
“Fine,” Miranda snapped, in that waspish way of hers. “You want professional? We’ll keep it professional. Good day, Dr. Sachs.”
And with that, Miranda strode ahead on the stairs up to the OR floor, leaving Andy to release a quiet sigh of relief.
Her relief was short-lived, however, because in heading for the nurses station to start rounds, Andy met up with her squabbling colleagues. They hadn’t gotten any less annoying during her brief walk with Miranda.
Nigel finally appeared, fiddling with his pager and looking far too harassed for that early in the morning.
“Sachs, Karev, O’Malley--get upstairs. Dr. Priestly needs all three of you. Stevens, Charlton--get on with pre-rounds, right now.”
“Uh, Dr. Kipling?” Andy ventured. “Dr. Priestly is in surgery until six.”
Nigel’s head snapped up at that, his eyes narrowing briefly in suspicion. Thankfully, he decided to let it slide.
“She got pulled before she could start. And she’s requesting at least three interns, so get your lazy asses up there. Now.”
Nate and Doug took off at a run, and Andy followed at a more reluctant jog. A waiting nurse directed them to the exam room, and Andy gasped loudly at her first sight of the patient that Miranda was examining.
“Are those--” she started to ask.
“Yes,” Miranda answered without taking her eyes off the patient’s bleeding scalp. “Why do interns feel the need to ask such obvious questions? It’s just beyond me.”
Andy felt Nate’s mocking smack on her arm and ducked Doug’s sympathetic look. Seemed the whole ‘professional’ thing wasn’t going to be pleasant.
“I can’t see,” the patient said softly, though he was clearly distressed.
“He’s talking?” Doug gasped.
“Obviously, Dr. O’Malley,” Miranda said as she placed a steadying hand on the patient’s shoulder, dissuading him from moving. “Mr. Cruz here has damage to the optic nerve, but seems to have missed the blood vessels.”
“That is sick,” Nate chimed in, with obvious glee. His reward was a glare from Miranda.
“Mr. Cruz--” Andy began to ask.
“Please, call me Jorge. You’re gonna be pulling nails out of my head, I think we can skip the formalities, don’t you?”
“Jorge,” Andy amended. “Can you tell us how your arms feel? Especially your hands.”
Miranda nodded in approval as the patient carefully moved each arm.
“My right feels kind of numb?” Jorge ventured, staring past the waiting interns at the wall.
“Okay, so what is our primary concern right now?” Miranda spoke the question softly, as though none of the answers were incredibly scary to a patient.
“Well?” Miranda snapped as the three of them stood there staring at the Jorge. “Infection. I want these nails out within thirty minutes. I need someone to get him to CT. Immediately.”
“Um,” Doug piped up. “CT is down. They exchanged them out last night and the computers crashed. Won’t be back on line until lunchtime at the earliest.”
“So typical,” Miranda sighed. She did not look happy. “Give me alternatives.”
“MRI?” Nate jumped in like an overeager puppy. Andy saw her chance to shoot him down, and took it.
“Brilliant. The guys got nails in his head, so let’s stick him in a giant magnet,” Andy bitched at him. Turning to Miranda, she continued. “You want films from three axis points, and a C-Arm in surgery.”
“Very good, Dr. Sachs. Why don’t you take Jorge for his x-rays and then meet me in the OR?”
Nate and Doug both kicked the floor at missing out on the assist. Tough cookies, Andy thought to herself. She stepped up to steady Jorge and prepare his gurney for the move, only for her breath to catch in her chest at accidental contact of her fingers with Miranda’s. Miranda, for her part, pulled back as though Andy’s skin was radioactive.
“O’Malley, Karev - research. I want examples, I want journal articles, I want case files. If I’m going in there half-blind, I want to know that it’s been done before. That’s all.”
“My wife? Is she coming? I need to see my wife,” Jorge cried out as Andy pulled the gurney bars up to support him. She looked questioningly at a nurse who mouthed ‘on her way’ at Andy.
“She’s on her way, Jorge. Now if you just hold on here and keep as still as you can, we can work on getting you fixed, okay?”
He offered her a weak smile, in almost the right direction, and Andy nodded at the nurses to help her start steering the bed out into the corridor.
“Stay with him,” Miranda ordered as Andy rolled the gurney out. “Make sure he stays calm. I’ll send his wife to you when she arrives.”
“Of course, Dr. Priestly,” Andy answered before disappearing into the hall. It was going to be one hell of a morning.
She’d barely finished the films and patient history (headaches, a bit of dizziness sometimes--when would his wife get there?) when Miranda appeared in the doorway, a beautiful dark-haired woman by her side.
“You must be Sona,” Andy offered her hand to the woman with the most reassuring smile she could muster. “Jorge’s been telling me all about you.”
“Is he gonna be okay, doctor? Those damn nail guns, I just can’t...”
“We’re going to take him into surgery now. Dr. Priestly will take very good care of him; she’s the best for this kind of case, trust me.”
Miranda looked unperturbed by Andy’s compliment, but Sona turned to look at Miranda with panicked but grateful eyes.
“He’s all I have, Dr. Priestly. Please don’t let anything else happen to him.”
“I’ll do everything I can, Mrs. Cruz. I promise you that.”
With that, Miranda tilted her head to indicate that Andy should get moving, and Jorge was on his way to the OR.
Andy tied her scrub cap with steady hands, before whacking the tap on with her elbow and reaching for a fresh bar of antibacterial soap. Moments later, Miranda joined her and replicated the little routine, saying nothing as the soap coated the pale skin of her arms. Andy tried her damndest not to look, but Miranda certainly knew how to wear the hell out of simple navy blue scrubs.
“I was thinking, Dr. Priestly,” Andy started.
“Always dangerous,” Miranda sassed back without missing a beat.
“He’s been having headaches--and dizziness for about two months now.”
“Vertiginous, or light-headedness?”
“Light-headed,” Andy supplied. “He’d have to brace himself to get out of bed some mornings.”
“Could be a million things,” Miranda sighed, rinsing off the last of the soap and raising her hands to drip-dry.
“What made him fall downstairs with a nail gun, though?” Andy persisted, mirroring Miranda’s pose as they walked through into the main OR.
“He said he tripped,” Miranda pointed out. “Just because you hear hoof beats, don’t assume zebras.”
“Something made him lose consciousness and fall,” Andy tried again. “He could have a tumor.”
“Dr. Sachs, I have no earthly idea why this man is alive, let alone why he’s still moving and talking. There’s no reason at all I can think of to explain how he’s survived this injury. So why don’t we concentrate on fixing this first, before we go digging around for more trouble, hmm?”
A scrub nurse brought the phone over for Miranda to confer with Doug and Nate, leaving Andy to stand there quietly, feeling chastized. Oh well, she’d tried. There would be plenty of time for an MRI after the nails were extracted. Letting the nurse snap on her gloves, Andy took her position just to the left of Jorge’s head. Moments later, Miranda was in place and the incredibly delicate procedure was under way.
Thirty minutes, a lot of gel-foam and a lot of holding their collective breath later, the surgical team were high-fiving each other over a job well done. Cutting through the victory whoops, Miranda’s voice was quiet but firm.
“Well, I don’t think we made anything worse. The question remains over the optic nerve, but that will have to wait until morning.”
The atmosphere had sobered considerably, and Andy felt her own spirits droop at the reminder that Jorge still had some way to go in his recovery, and it might be even worse if her own suspicions went on to be confirmed. She joined Miranda in the scrub room to clean up, and was stunned to see Miranda resting her head against the back wall instead of leaning over the big metal sinks.
“Miranda?” Andy asked, forgetting the need for formality in her concern.
“Oh God,” Miranda groaned, though it was barely louder than a whisper. “I hate flying blind. I had no idea if he’d make it through that, if I could pull any of those nails out safely. I always know, but not today.”
Andy had the feeling that she was witnessing something especially rare.
“But you did it. You rocked it, in fact. When the room breaks out in applause, you gotta be doing something right. Right?”
Miranda turned back around, slumping her back against the wall this time as she considered the praise from a lowly intern.
“You’re a nice person,” she said, her tone implying it was somewhere in the more serious range of mental disorders. “All this time I’ve been trying to work out your angle, but you’re just... you’re nice. You’re decent. You’re good with patients, and you don’t want to get ahead by sleeping with an attending.”
“Um,” Andy tried to respond, but Miranda was on a roll.
“Your angle is that you don’t have an angle. How funny,” Miranda said, but she wasn’t even smiling, let alone laughing.
“So,” Andy tried again. “Does solving that mystery mean I’m not interesting to you anymore? No more chase? No more breakfast?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Andrea.” Miranda shook her head, smiling just a little at last. “I’m merely making an observation. And someone needs to help you with those terrible breakfast choices.”
“Of course,” Andy sighed. “So, should I order the MRI?”
“He needs to stabilize,” Miranda replied. “So don’t schedule it before the morning.”
And with that the conversation was apparently done, leaving both women to wash up in silence, before going their separate ways.
Andy was just sitting down to lunch--an uninspiring egg salad sandwich that hopefully wouldn’t kill her--when Emily collapsed into the seat next to her.
“Don’t you have a Whipple?” Andy asked, having heard the buzz in the cafeteria line.
“I should. Burke won’t schedule it, and instead I’m playing tour guide for the returning hero.”
“Hero?” Andy asked around a mouthful of sandwich.
“Liz Fallon. She used to be a nurse here. Apparently she was one of your mum’s favorites. The Chief nearly pulled you out of the human pin cushion to give you my damn Whipple.”
“My mom’s old scrub nurse is a patient?” Andy could barely form the words, but she spat them out anyway. She’d hoped her mom had been in Boston for enough years to avoid these situations, at least in her first year, but it seemed some of her luck had already run out.
“Yeah, but it’s not happening today. So tell me about Nail Guy. Did it completely gush when you pulled each one out?” Emily looked almost giddy at the thought.
“Sorry, Em. I have to go do something,” Andy apologized as she abandoned her lunch and got to her feet. “I think half the hospital was in the gallery though--ask them about it.”
And before she could think better of it, Andy took off back towards the surgical floor.
It took just a quick glance at the charts to get the room number, and summoning up yet another fake smile, Andy knocked on the open door before walking straight in. Luckily, one of the male nurses was just leaving and so Andy got Liz all to herself. The older woman was propped up in bed, her once-dark hair now graying and her dark skin altered by the jaundice Andy had seen noted in the chart.
“Hi, you might not know me--” Andy began, but Liz cut her off with a wheezy laugh.
“I’d know you anywhere. You look just like her, only your hair is darker. Your mom was a little smaller, though.”
“Right,” Andy pressed on. “I was talking to my mom this morning, and when she heard you were here she wanted me to send her regards.” She leaned on the edge of the bed, not comfortable enough to sit and attempt small talk.
“That doesn’t sound like her,” Liz shot back, something suspicious clouding her otherwise friendly face. Andy fumbled for a moment, before stepping closer to fix the mussed blankets on the bed.
“Excuse me?” She asked a moment later, having regrouped a little.
“Ellis Sachs doesn’t have regards for anyone except Ellis Sachs. But I figure you knew that already,” Liz said, regarding Andy with that same suspicion. “Where is your mother these days?”
“Traveling,” Andy offered with another smile, fake enough to make her cheeks hurt. Nonchalance wasn’t easy to fake, not with people who could shred her secrets that easily.
“Is she practicing?” Liz tried another angle, pulling her cardigan closer around her body.
“Not much,” Andy lied through her teeth.
“That doesn’t sound like Ellis either,” Liz pointed out, with unerring accuracy. “She was all work, just like me. Never left the hospital. But I suppose you know that too, don’t you?”
Liz seemed to have relented, but she tested Andy’s resolve with one last shot across the bows.
“Is she well?”
“She’s fine,” Andy insisted. “She just wanted to send her regards. Take care,” she offered as she made her way back out into the hallway.
It took a lot of resolve to keep walking and not let her knees give out like they were threatening to. In that moment she hated her mother, and though it wasn’t a new feeling, it didn’t make Andy feel any better.
That evening, with Jorge booked in for an 8am MRI, Andy was able to leave at a decent hour. She had to grit her teeth and force herself to drive towards the rest home, but she made it by seven and waited in the lounge for her mom to be done with dinner.
They started their usual circular conversation--it took about ten seconds and the mention of a craniotomy for Andy to confirm that her mom wasn’t even close to lucid--and after a while, Andy pulled out the photo album that her mom’s doctor had recommended she bring.
Ellis didn’t show much interest beyond asking ‘who is that? who are these people?’ at every turn of the page. Instead, she fussed with her messy blonde hair and fidgeted like a kid in some really boring class. Andy tried to squeeze away the tears every time her mom didn’t recognize Andy staring back at her from the fading photos.
“Who’s this man?” Ellis asked, starting to get agitated. “He’s everywhere. I don’t like him.”
“That’s my dad, mom. Your husband. You called him Thatch. His name is Thatcher,” Andy explained as calmly as she could.
“Well, I don’t like him. Take these stupid pictures away. Bring me my charts, or I’ll be behind.”
“Fine, mom,” Andy agreed with a sigh as she shoved the photo album back into her bag. “I saw Liz Fallon at the hospital.”
“Liz? Oh, I love her!” Ellis exclaimed, her face lighting up like Emily’s would at the sight of an exposed aorta. “Is she still a scrub nurse? My God, she was excellent. Best I ever worked with.”
Andy took the reaction like a punch to the gut, and it was a long moment before she trusted herself to speak.
“She has pancreatic cancer. She’s in for surgery, tomorrow, I think.”
“Oh, that’s very sad,” Ellis frowned as she said it, before appearing to shrug it off. “Do you know when my daughter will be here? She always comes on Wednesdays.”
Andy had come to remove Jorge’s dressings and prepare him for his MRI, and with all that done she was pacing impatiently back and forth in his room as she waited for Miranda to check in. She tried to focus on the case, but a bad night of not much sleep and more emotion than she was comfortable with processing at work were threatening to derail her.
At least there was some good news, she thought as Miranda came sweeping in, her tailored white coat hanging on her immaculately. Without further ceremony, Andy turned back to Sona and Jorge.
“Jorge? Can you tell Dr. Priestly what color dress your wife is wearing?”
With the bandages removed from his eyes, Jorge took a long and deliberate look at his beautiful wife, who was welling up with tears as he did.
“Red. She’s wearing a red dress, doctors. And it’s thanks to you that I can tell you that right now.”
Andy stood back as the happy couple celebrated the news with exuberant kisses, amused by Miranda’s nonplussed reaction to the scene in front of her. When Jorge and Sona came up for air, Miranda smiled at them both and picked up Jorge’s chart.
“That’s very good news, Mr. Cruz. I’ll leave you in Dr. Sachs’ capable hands, and I’ll see you after your MRI.”
Andy followed Miranda out into the hall, expecting further instructions.
“Grilled cheese again?” Miranda asked with a smirk?
“Cold pizza,” Andy shot back honestly.
“This is why you should let me take you to breakfast,” Miranda said, before taking her beeping pager from her waistband. “But alas, not this morning.”
Andy was glad to be rid of the distraction, and when Miranda left her standing there, she stepped back in to wheel Jorge downstairs for his MRI. She’d be dealing with Miranda again soon enough.
Miranda was fiddling with her pager when she walked in to the Imaging Suite, and the tech nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight of her. Andy resisted the impulse to roll her eyes, but it was a close thing.
What she hadn’t prepared for was standing close to Miranda in a much smaller space like that. Sure, they got close in the OR, but all the antiseptic layers of cloth and latex made that safer, somehow. As they stood side by side and watched the image slowly process on the screen, Andy was painfully aware of Miranda’s nearness--the heat from her body through the thin layer of scrubs, the smoothness of her skin as their arms brushed, and the hint of perfume that teased Andy’s nose gave her an olfactory jolt back to that night spent together in the dusty emptiness of Andy’s house.
She almost shouted with joy when the image finally cleared and provided a distraction, but the findings shot that feeling down pretty fast.
“I’ll be damned,” Miranda said, her face falling as she surveyed the digital map of Jorge’s brain. “That’s a midline tumor, right there by the hypothalamus.”
“Shit,” Andy cursed, not caring about appropriate. For once, she might actually have enjoyed being wrong.
They took Jorge straight back to his room, and unusually for an attending, Miranda tagged along. When he was comfortably back with his wife, Miranda stepped forward to deliver the news. Andy watched on silently, glad that this wasn’t her job yet.
“The best option would be for me to operate--remove as much of the tumor as I can. Now, I’m good, but I can’t get all of it. Maybe I’ll get 99%, but at least one part is touching parts of your brain that I can’t cut. The tumor will grow back eventually, but it gives you 5-10 years at the most.”
“Then let’s do that,” Jorge said firmly, who seemed calm despite the fear and shock in his eyes. Sona gripped his hand firmly, muttering a quick prayer under her breath. Even the red of her dress seemed less vibrant than it had a short while ago.
“You haven’t heard the downside,” Miranda warned, and only then did the penny drop for Andy. “The tumor is sitting in a part of your brain where your memory--and your personality--resides. And this tumor has what we call fuzzy edges - it’s not clearly defined. I’d have to cut a lot to be sure we get as much as possible.” Miranda paused for breath, running a hand through her hair. “There’s a good chance you’d lose most of your memories.”
“You’d lose who you are,” Andy supplied, sadly. Miranda looked at her quizzically, confused by the interruption.
“Right,” Miranda confirmed. “The alternative is less invasive: focused radiation treatment. It shouldn’t affect memory or personality, but it costs you time. Jorge, it would mean three to five years at the most. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but these are your choices as we stand now.”
“Three to five?” Sona asked, tears streaming down her face. Miranda held her gaze, but Andy looked away. “Is that all?”
“I’m afraid so. This is a very difficult decision, so I’ll make myself available to you at any time if you have questions. Just ask Dr. Sachs or the nurses to page me; but we should leave you to talk it through together.”
Andy was relieved to have an excuse to leave the room, unsure of what to say or do in the face of the body blow Miranda had just delivered. Miranda strode off straight down the hall, without mention of breakfast or any other meal, and Andy found herself at a loss for somewhere to be.
Taking a steadying breath, she decided to collect her charting pile and find a quiet place to work. She already had somewhere in mind.
Two hours later, Andy had signed off on almost a day’s worth of work when the patient in front of her finally stirred. Andy put down the juice box she’d been sipping from and waited for Liz’s eyes to open.
“Hi,” she said warmly when Liz’s gaze landed on her. “I brought your labs here for Emily to check. She’ll be here soon.”
Liz sat up with some difficulty, but waved away Andy’s offer of help.
“She’s a surgical junkie, that one. Doesn’t know that surgery never stops, never goes away; she can’t have been born into it, like you.”
“I know it never goes away, that’s for sure,” Andy answered. “I told my mother we spoke. She remembers you very well.”
“Well, of course she did. Ellis Sachs never forgets anything. I bet she can walk you through the last surgery we did together like it happened yesterday.”
And finally, hopelessly, Andy couldn’t hold it in anymore. She laughed.
She laughed until the tears came running down her cheeks, with Liz watching patiently the whole time.
“I’m sorry,” Andy choked out. “It isn’t funny. I mean, it really isn’t funny, but...”
“What’s her diagnosis?” Liz asked, solemnly.
“Alzheimer’s. Early onset.” Andy spoke the words without thinking, and felt her back actually straighten once they were out. Oh God, what a relief. What a ridiculous, insane relief.
“And she doesn’t want anyone to know?” Liz continued, tiredness in the slump of her shoulders and the lines of her face. “She’s hiding out somewhere, and she’s got ten legal tricks in place--meaning nobody knows but you, am I right?”
“Wow, you really did know her,” Andy said, feeling calm again at last. “That’s pretty much it. She had the nursing home sign a contract, and now it’s just me and her.”
“What a bitch,” Liz sighed, and this time when Andy started laughing, Liz joined in.
Evening rolled around fast, and Andy found herself in the deserted basement corridor with the others, trading fruit for chips and swapping textbooks to get the neuro one she needed.
Emily and Serena were ganging up on Nate for his stupid prank of photocopying Serena’s last modeling shoot and sticking the pictures up all over the staff areas. It seemed Serena had already kicked his ass, and so Andy stayed out of it.
“You do realize that we hate you,” Emily told Serena once Nate wandered off with his tail between his legs. “If I looked like you I wouldn’t study, I wouldn’t be nice, I wouldn’t have a job. I would just walk around naked and look in mirrors all day.”
Andy tried to concentrate over the sirens of her internal gaydar going off. Jeez Em, tone it down, she thought.
“It’s makeup,” Serena shrugged. “Retouching. Photoshop.”
“It would save me from rolling Liz Fallon around on her funeral procession,” Emily continued. “They brought her here to die, and suddenly I’m an undertaker instead of a surgeon.”
“She’s really dying?” Andy asked, feeling the pang of a new ally already slipping away.
“Well, they’re not operating,” Emily confirmed. “I don’t understand. If it were me, I’d want everyone doing everything they could. Cut until there was literally nothing left to try. But don’t give up this early.”
“Sometimes it’s kinder to stop sooner,” Andy said, tracing the diagram of the hypothalamus with her index finger. “Degenerative illness are the worst, I think.”
“Well, you’re welcome to trade in your scalpel for a stint in palliative care,” Emily snarked, but Andy let it slide.
Before the argument could start up in earnest, Andy was saved by her pager.
“I’ll see you guys later. Everybody try to keep their clothes on, okay?”
She found Miranda waiting outside Jorge’s room.
“Jorge and Sona have decided they want the surgery. Can you book an OR and tell oncology we won’t be needing the radiation therapy.”
“Seriously?” Andy asked, because although she’d been hitting the books, she’d honestly expected her patient to choose the option that let him keep his life as it existed now. Who chose to erase himself? To erase their whole life?
“Yes, seriously,” Miranda answered with a frown. “It’s their decision, Dr. Sachs.”
Andy hid her frustration as best she could, walking off to carry out Miranda’s orders with a heavy heart. Pulling her hair up into a messy knot, Andy was all the way to the OR board with the pen in her hand to book the slot when she let her emotions take over. She felt the slide of control changing like a physical thing, and slamming the pen back onto the desk, she turned on her heel and marched back to Jorge’s room.
“Sona?” She called quietly from the hallway, since Jorge was already asleep. The puzzled woman walked out to join Andy in the corridor.
“We should talk, about your decision,” Andy started, trying to sound cool and professional, but failing.
“Jorge and I talked. We want as much time as possible,” Sona explained.
“But you understand it won’t be Jorge. He won’t be your husband like you know him now,” Andy pressed on. “He won’t remember you. He won’t remember all those stories he told us in the exam room about how you burn his omelets and love to wear red. That will all be gone.”
“But it means an extra five years,” Sona fired back, her face angrier now.
“Five years of him not knowing all the things he knows about you. Five more years of him not recognizing you.”
“This is our business,” Sona snapped, her voice raised now.
“You have no idea what this will do to you!” Andy was yelling now, and could do nothing to stop it. To make matters worse, Miranda had just appeared from around the corner. “Isn’t five good years better than ten bad ones? You have to listen to me.”
“Andrea! What the hell are you doing?” Miranda shouted (for the first time that Andy could remember) before grabbing Andy forcefully by the arm. “Mrs. Cruz, I am so sorry. Please forgive her, she’s a brand new intern and sometimes--”
“This has nothing to do with being an intern,” Andy struggled under Miranda’s iron grip. “She needs to understand.”
“I do understand!” Sona yelled at her. “I don’t care how bad it gets, I want him to have all the time he can. And if he can’t remember? If he changes? Then I’ll remember for both of us.”
“But you have to--” Andy tried to continue, but Miranda was dragging her away. Sona went back into the room and closed the door behind her, and that was the last Andy saw of her as Miranda pulled her into a side corridor.
“What the hell were you thinking? Compromising patient care that way is irresponsible...”
“With all due respect, Dr. Priestly?” Andy interrupted. “You can shove your lecture.”
Miranda stared at Andy like she had lost her mind. Hell, maybe one day Andy actually would. It ran in the family, after all.
“You might be a world-famous neurosurgeon, and you might know things that I can only dream of learning. But on this? I am the expert. I know what I’m talking about. And if she won’t listen, I don’t want in on the surgery. You can call on someone else.”
“Dr. Sachs, I suggest you think very carefully about this. I don’t offer second chances.”
Andy hesitated for a moment, common sense making one last futile attempt at controlling the situation. But no, her mind was made up.
“Then I don’t get a second chance. But I’m off this case. Goodnight, Dr. Priestly.”
Chapter 8: Shake Your Groove Thing
Andy has to deal with a party in her house, and the continuing demands of caring for her mother. (I've nixed the popped glove storyline, because I don't care about Andy doing cardio and I don't want any Christian right now.)
Nigel hadn’t exactly been happy when news of Andy storming out of brain surgery had filtered back to him. Miranda, to her credit, hadn’t ratted Andy out, but too many witnesses had been lurking in the hallways. It had made for an especially tense week, with Andy being relegated to the scuttiest of the scut tasks on a daily basis; she knew better than to complain.
She didn’t express anything like jealousy when Emily got the nod ahead of her to assist Christian Thompson on a CABG. There would be other opportunities to hold a heart, after all, and Em was one destined to be a Cardio God. So Andy ran around collecting labs and doing rectal exams and vowing to never take a stand about anything, ever again.
The interns were hiding out in their basement lair instead of taking lunch in the cafeteria, and Andy found herself wishing she’d sneaked off somewhere on her own.
“It’s so cool of you to throw a party for Serena’s boyfriend, Andy!” Doug exclaimed for about the hundredth time. His confidence was slowly growing, and it meant he didn’t think twice about expressing his enthusiasm. Andy found herself maliciously hoping he had a crappy day, if only because it would shut him up for a while.
“It’s not a party. It’s a gathering,” Andy corrected (again). “Serena wants her boyfriend to meet her friends, and so we’re having a few people round for a few drinks.”
“Jocks only,” Emily warned. “Surgery, Trauma, Plastics. No losers.”
Serena mumbled something and looked away, blushing slightly.
“Excuse me, Serena?” Emily pounced on her. “Did you just say that you’ve invited people from Peds?”
“Yes?” Serena ventured. “This was this really nice girl on my case yesterday.”
“Great,” Nate cut in. “Pre-schoolers at our party.”
“I don’t recall you being invited,” Andy sniped at him. “And can we keep the numbers down? You guys have to buy more ice. And more booze, if you keep adding people like this. Don’t trash my mom’s house.”
“Okay, but can we agree no Psych people? I don’t want them running around analyzing people all night,” Emily whined.
It was Doug’s turn to mumble then, causing an uproar from the group. Andy shook her head, wondering what in the hell she’d signed herself up for. Thankfully her pager went off, signaling the end of her short break, and she went dutifully to whatever pile of crap Nigel had to punish her with next.
Her punishments seemed to have lessened slightly, since she was on discharge duty. Simple enough, it meant giving final results and getting forms signed so that patients could go home and free up some beds. Andy didn’t exactly like it (mostly due to all the unsolicited hugging from relieved loved ones) but she’d had worse days lately.
She was so intent on her paperwork that she didn’t hear Miranda’s approach. One minute Andy was happily scribbling alone at the nurses’ station, and the next Miranda’s elbow gently brushed her own.
“Coffee?” Miranda ventured, passing off a cup from the good coffee cart as though she had no idea how she came to be holding it.
“I’m not thirsty,” Andy protested, weakly. Miranda made no move to retrieve the cup, sipping from her own instead.
“How are you doing? I see Dr. Charlton got the nod for the CABG this morning. That had to hurt.”
Andy shot Miranda a dirty look before initialling another set of test results and signing the discharge papers.
“Em wants cardio; it’s not a big deal.”
“And you want neuro?” Miranda asked, her voice suspiciously light.
“I haven’t decided on my specialty. Besides, I blew my chance at neuro last week.”
“Hmm,” Miranda replied. “Well, why don’t we discuss that, or something completely unrelated, over dinner tonight? Waiters, real silver, plenty of carbs--if you insist.”
“I can’t,” Andy grumbled, pretending not to be tempted by the offer. Miranda all dressed up for a fancy dinner would be a sight to see, but Andy had an appointment with her mother’s lawyer after her shift. Who knew how long that would take?
“Forget about the party,” Miranda teased.
“How do you know about the party?” Andy asked, wide-eyed with surprise.
“Never mind that. Half the hospital will be at your house. We can be somewhere else, alone.”
“What do you mean, half the hospital?” Andy choked.
“Thanks for not inviting me by the way. I see working here has done nothing to improve your manners. Anyway: dinner. Think about it. That’s all.”
Watching Miranda walk off down the hall, Andy resisted the urge to bang her head repeatedly on the desk. When was her life ever going to get less complicated?
Almost as though Nigel had sensed Andy’s conversation, her day took a turn for the worse after lunch. Instead of the easy world of discharge forms, she had a box of latex gloves and a few tubes of lubricant jelly await her. And not remotely in the fun way. Nigel made a bitchy comment about getting in on the ground floor of general surgery, and Andy forced herself to smile sweetly and thank him for the opportunity. She’d just content herself with silent fantasies of spiking his next mocha latte.
Emily and Serena came to alleviate some of her boredom between exams, and it seemed the invite list had spiraled completely out of control as Andy feared.
“Nurses, Serena? Seriously?”
“Oh, you’d rather have the whole nursing staff pissed at us instead? We need them more than we need attendings.” Serena pointed out. Andy had to reluctantly agree with her logic. Senior doctors could ignore interns or freeze them out of a specialty, but nurses could do serious damage to their workplace survival.
Just then Andy’s cellphone rang, and she ducked out into the hall to take it.
“Dr. Sachs?” Great, Isabel from the nursing home.
“Yes. Is everything okay? I have the notary coming, and the attorney, for 6.30pm?”
“That’s right, Andy. Just calling to confirm, and to remind you not to be late. Your mom is pretty lucid today and we don’t want to waste that.”
“I’ll be there,” Andy confirmed. “Anything else I should bring?”
“Well...” Isabel paused. “Your checkbook? There will be a small fee for--”
“Yeah, I got it,” Andy snapped, hanging up the phone.
But four hours later, even with traffic delaying her only slightly, Andy arrived at the nursing home only to find out that there was absolutely no point. A group of embarrassed men stood around her mother, who was swatting away nurses and barking out orders about a cranial reconstruction.
Andy blinked back the tears of frustration that were forming, and for one insane moment she thought about calling Miranda and saying ‘hey, I’m free for dinner after all’. But her house was already being filled with drunk and rowdy hospital staff, and Andy knew the responsible thing would be to go check up on it. And hey, at least there would be booze.
Emily greeted her with a cheer and an almost full bottle of tequila. Figuring what the hell, Andy took a big gulp, threw off her jacket and joined the grinding bodies on the dancefloor that her living room had somehow turned into. In that moment, with the loud music and the sound of Em laughing in her ear, Andy felt better than she had in weeks.
Things calmed down a little as the night went on. Andy was stunned to see Nigel there, chatting with a bunch of fifth-year residents and hogging a bowl of Doritos. Everywhere she turned there was a vaguely familiar face, clutching some kind of booze and yelling thanks at Andy for such a great party. Oh well, a little popularity wouldn’t hurt.
She ended up in the kitchen (pretty much the rule for any decent party) playing strip poker with Em and Doug. Doug kept apologizing for out of control the guest list had gotten, which made it even easier for the girls to cheat him left, right and center until he was down to his boxers.
The drunk and maudlin stage was settling in, as Andy thought about returning to the nursing home tomorrow to finally resolve the power of attorney for her mom. She thought about all the bills that were eating through the money her mom had left, and how long it would be until Andy’s meagre intern salary started picking up the shortfall.
“Why the hell did we want to become surgeons, anyway?” She thought out loud, prompting Emily to snatch the almost empty bottle of tequila away from her.
“If you’re talking that kind of nonsense, you must be drunk,” Emily spat.
“I’m not! I can drink as much as I want. I’m not driving, I’m not on call, I’m not doing surgery tonight. It’s my house, so gimme!”
Andy grabbing the bottle back prompted Emily to fall off her stool. She lay on the floor laughing, the Queen of Hearts stuck to her face and her hair all over the place. She looked happy, Andy thought, before climbing down to join her.
“Hey, has anyone seen Serena’s boyfriend?” Andy asked, from her new hangout on the kitchen tiles. “Isn’t this party supposed to be about meeting him?”
“Oh, he came earlier,” Emily said between hiccups. “But we needed more ice so I sent him to the store. Stupid hockey player.”
They dissolved into helpless giggles, and in that moment, Andy felt very glad for her new best friend.
Later, as the party finally began to wind down, Andy took her little bit of remaining tequila and wandered outside. She looked up at the house she now called home again, trying hard to remember her early childhood there. Images flashed into her mind--a red wagon, a neighbor’s big, brown dog--but nothing seemed to stick. Hugging herself against the late evening chill, she was lost in thought when Miranda came walking up the driveway.
“I didn’t invite you,” Andy said upon noticing her.
“You turned down dinner with me for tequila? Tequila’s a bad choice, Andrea. It won’t call, it won’t write; it won’t remember your birthday. Tequila will only... disappoint you.”
“Do you know when my birthday is?” Andy asked, squinting a little in order to focus.
“That’s hardly the point,” Miranda deflected. “So, are you going to invite me inside? Or can anyone just walk in from the street?”
“Nope,” Andy answered, glowing with the success of a new and quite amazingly good idea. “Not going inside.”
She stepped closer to Miranda, dangling the tequila bottle before dropping it gracelessly in the grass. Miranda’s eyes lit up suddenly when she saw the look on Andy’s face. Not that Andy took a lot of time to savor that. Not when she had something much, much more important to do.
She kissed Miranda good and hard, and let Miranda kiss her back. There, in the midst of the overgrown lawn and the strewn party debris, Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda’s slender waist and pulled her even closer, before breaking briefly for air and then kissing her again.
Not thinking was amazing, Andy realized. Not thinking meant the warmth and wetness of Miranda’s mouth, and that determined tongue caressing her own. Not thinking meant that Andy let Miranda lead her by the hand to Miranda’s parked Mercedes before slipping into the backseat like rebellious teenagers.
“This is probably a bad idea,” Andy mumbled as Miranda pressed hungry kisses against her throat. “But oh...”
“Finally,” Miranda muttered in turn, her usual cool composure nowhere in evidence. Even her hair, that perfectly-styled silver bob, was already mussed. Andy felt a little proud at having that effect on a woman internationally renowned for being unflappable. And even better? Miranda was as good a kisser as she was a neurosurgeon. Talk about hitting the jackpot.
But Andy remembered her not-thinking plan, and reapplied herself with enthusiasm. The tequila had left her feeling pleasantly warm and horny. The hours she’d worked lately had left her so exhausted, she’d barely had the energy to get herself off, aside from the occasional quick fumble in the shower when the frustration got too much to bear. But this was something entirely different.
Not trusting her balance, Andy was quite content to let Miranda be on top. Sure, Andy’s legs were a little cramped because five-nine was five-nine and not even Mercedes made a backseat to accommodate that, but better here than in her bedroom where any nosy partygoer could stumble in.
Miranda’s impatient hands half-unbuttoned, half-tore Andy’s shirt open, and her contented sigh on uncovering Andy’s simple black bra sounded a lot like relief.
“I don’t do this,” Miranda murmured as she let her mouth trace across the slope of Andy’s exposed chest. “Sleeping with interns is the oldest cliché in the book.” She paused, looking up at Andy with heavy-lidded eyes. “And I do not do cliché.”
“But you’re gonna do me, right?” Andy asked, feeling pretty damn flirty as Miranda sat upright to pull her own off-the-shoulder sweater off. And Miranda in a bra and tight black jeans was just about the hottest thing Andy had ever seen so she was really, really glad that Miranda’s answer to her stupid question seemed to be ‘yes’.
Andy ran her hands over the smooth skin of Miranda’s torso, revelling in the heat and softness of her skin. Miranda took the opportunity to unhook her bra, which left Andy feeling pretty glad that the windows were fogged up already.
When Miranda fell on her again, Andy fumbled a little to ditch her own bra, and the reward of their bare breasts brushing while they kissed left Andy moaning softly from the back of her throat. She’d had trouble remembering that ill-advised night together, thanks to the effects of way too much alcohol, but Andy felt confident that she would remember this even through her tequila buzz.
“I have no idea how I held out this long,” Andy confessed, panting, when Miranda released Andy’s mouth and moved on to her breasts. “I mean, ahhhh--”
She’d been interrupted by Miranda’s very pleasant attention to her right nipple, already sensitive from the slight chill in the car. While the steady flicks of Miranda’s tongue sent electric shocks flying through Andy’s nervous system, she busied herself with stroking the impossibly smooth skin of Miranda’s naked back. As Miranda got a little rougher, teasing with little nips, Andy responded in kind by raking her short nails down Miranda’s back, which made her hum with pleasure.
“God,” Miranda breathed when she finally pulled away for a moment. Seeing her chance, Andy sat up and fumbled with the buttons of Miranda’s jeans. Miranda gripped hard on Andy’s shoulders, letting her head drop back in enjoyment when Andy let her mouth return the favour of exploring.
“I don’t know why you changed your mind,” Miranda whispered. “But I’m so very--oh, yes--glad that you did.”
And somehow, with a little wriggling and yanking Miranda’s tight jeans down, Andy got to what she most wanted: the considerable wetness between Miranda’s thighs. Miranda welcomed Andy’s touch, and it was a struggle to try for finesse when Miranda began to buck her hips so eagerly. Andy settled for working two, and then three, fingers inside, using firm strokes that drew little gasps from Miranda’s parted lips.
Using her other hand to cup and caress Miranda’s bare breast, Andy found herself mesmerized at the. Miranda’s perfectly pale skin had flushed a really pretty, dark shade of pink as she ground herself against Andy’s hand. Twisting her wrist, Andy offered a silent prayer that her tendons would forgive her before tomorrow’s potential surgery, but it was worth any potential pain right away. As she grazed Miranda’s clit with her thumb, Miranda cried out softly. Oh God, that kind of power could get addictive, fast.
Andy picked up her pace, muttering words she’d barely thought about, and when Miranda came the sight alone nearly sent Andy along with her. Oh damn, was she in trouble.
Miranda fell against her, boneless and sated but pressing dazed kisses to the exposed skin of Andy’s neck and shoulder. Leaning back against the window, Andy hissed at the cool condensation against her skin.
Just as Miranda had recovered, and Andy found her own jeans being undone by nimble fingers, there was a sharp rap on the driver’s side window.
Please let it be Emily, Andy thought. At least then there would be no explanations necessary, though whether Miranda would be okay with another intern catching them was dubious at best.
“Miranda,” Nigel’s voice sounded angry through the glass. “I don’t know what piece of ass you’ve dragged in there, but you’re blocking me in.”
“One moment,” Miranda said, her voice strangled and her expression mortified. She yanked up her jeans, almost falling off the backseat in the process, before pulling her sweater back on haphazardly. Andy would have laughed at the disorganized sight if she weren’t also pretty traumatized.
Andy pulled her own shirt closed, doing up a couple of buttons and looking around for a jacket or a blanket of some kind to hide her face under. Not that it mattered, because in her panic, Miranda had already opened the car door and stumbled out to find a waiting Nigel staring back at them both. Andy flushed what had to be a violent shade of red, and looked away.
“Uh huh,” was all Nigel said as he stormed off towards his own car. Miranda stood there, dumbstruck, for the briefest of moments before slamming the open door shut and then sliding in through the driver’s door. She gunned the engine without saying a word, reversing out into the street already crowded with cars. Unsure what to do, Andy simply lay there on the backseat, feeling like a complete idiot.
As Nigel’s car pulled out of the driveway after them, Andy watched the tail lights blink and fade away as he drove off into the night. Miranda had kept the engine running, drumming her fingers nervously on the hard leather of the steering wheel. Andy contemplated reaching out to touch her, but everything in Miranda’s super-tense body language suggested that might be suicide.
“I should go,” Andy said at last, forced into it by the oppressive silence. Miranda gave a terse shrug and said nothing; she didn’t even bother to look round. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
As she stumbled back towards her own house, Andy felt suddenly and painfully sober. Miranda’s Mercedes peeled off into the night, like she was fleeing the scene of a crime, and Andy tried her damndest not to cry.
At least now, she figured, she’d have a nice concrete example for the next time she tried to rationalize dating her boss. It sucked, and it would be super embarrassing come the morning, but it would be one of those nights a person learned from. Or Andy hoped like hell it would be, anyway.
Trudging up the stairs, Andy dodged drunk doctors and nurses, at least half of whom were making out with each other. By some miracle nobody had invaded her bedroom, and so she slipped inside before barricading the door with her dresser. It wasn’t until she flopped down on the mattress that she finally let the first tear fall.