She deserves to be here, Maya reminds himself as she takes another sip of her whiskey. She deserves to loosen up and relax after the events of the day - they encountered a fucking black bear in the woods, for God’s sake. That, and she managed to get the nose to the hospital in time.
She deserves this spot at the bar. She deserves this glass of top shelf whiskey. She deserves to unwind here at Joe’s.
Maya swirls the golden liquid in her glass and takes another sip before setting it back down on the napkin on the bartop.
The rest of the team be damned.
“Hi,” a sweet, unknown voice says to her right. Maya side eyes the woman who now sits next to her. “White wine, please,” she orders.
Maya picks up her glass again and stares intently at the drink inside. She can feel the other woman staring at her; she keeps her eyes forward.
“You look familiar,” the other woman states.
Maya turns to her before quickly offering, “Oh, I drink here a lot.”
Apparently, it is not a satisfying answer.
“Ah, no,” she replies and then pauses for a moment, trying to place Maya. “Were you at the hospital earlier?”
“Yeah I was,” Maya answers, nodding before she explains why she found herself in the hospital this afternoon. “I’m a firefighter. I was.. bringing something.” It is not a lie by any means, but telling a complete stranger at the bar that she actually dropped off a part of the human body didn’t seem like your run of the mill casual conversation by any means.
There is a moment of silence between them as the woman maintains eye contact. Then, there’s a sudden change. Her face lights up as it all falls into place. “Oh my god! Yes!” she exclaims. “You were the one who ran in with the nose.”
“Yeah!” Maya laughs as she nods. At least she isn’t the one who brought up the detached appendage. She holds out her hand to the other woman. “Captain Maya Bishop.”
She takes Maya’s hand and introduces herself as “Dr. Carina DeLuca.”
Maya opens her mouth to say something, but the words do not come because, well, suddenly the world just stops. Maya finds herself unable to speak - unable to look away from the gorgeous woman sitting next to her.
”Well, okay,” Carina continues. “If I buy you a drink, would you tell me the story of how you ended up carrying a nose in a plastic bag?”
She’s entrapped by Carina’s beauty - every aspect of it. Her flowing, gentle wavey, long, amber hair. She’s serenaded by that gorgeous accented voice. Her captivating, brown eyes that were locked on Maya. Her infectious smile and those enticing lips. It all nearly knocks the wind out of Maya.
It scares her - the fluttering feeling in her stomach.
“Sorry, I’m drinking alone tonight,” Maya finds herself declining from behind the metaphoric wall she built. Her voice nearly cracks on the word alone , as if her own subconscious refuses to believe this answer.
“Okay,” Carina says softly.
Maya looks away, overcome instantly by guilt and regret at her own stupid decision and proclamation. She’s kicking herself figuratively.
Hell, she’d even do it literally if she could.
“Are you sure?” Carina asks.
A window of opportunity.
Maya turns back to Carina, who’s genuinely smiling so wide. There’s a sparkle in her eye. Damn - not only is this woman stunningly beautiful. She’s also hot. She’s cute. The fluttering in Maya’s stomach is now making her heart race; she’s never felt this way before.
“Maybe not,” Maya corrects her previous answer, the corners of her lips tug into a smile to match Carina’s.
Turning away from her, Carina waves down the bartender and then gestures to Maya, “Another of what she’s drinking on my tab, please.” She swivels on her barstool again, her attention back to Maya. She picks up her glass of wine and takes a sip, raising her eyebrows as she waits for the story she had been promised.
Maya complies. She tells the newly met doctor the story behind her running into the emergency department while carrying a man’s nose in a plastic bag - a case of being at the right place at the right time, actually. Well, maybe not entirely so about the black bear confrontation. They could have gone without that encounter entirely, but maybe then Maya would’ve caught the ambulance on time.
“Or maybe we wouldn’t have found the nose at all without that mama black bear, who knows, right?” Maya says with a shrug of the shoulders as she finishes off her original drink.
As if on queue, the bartender returns with a second round for the both of them. Maya nods her thanks.
“ Grazie ,” Carina says as she picks up the new glass. She returns her attention to Maya. “Well, as morbid it is to say, I’m glad you ran in with the nose - mostly for the man’s sake, of course. But also - selfishly because I wanted to talk to you,” she confesses.
“You wanted to talk to me ?”
“Wouldn’t you want to talk to a woman who runs into the emergency room with a human nose in a plastic bag? That’s just a story ready to be told, no?” Carina questions. “But also, why wouldn’t I speak to a beautiful woman sitting at the bar alone?”
Maya shrugs her shoulders, trying to ignore her last question and trying to stop herself from blushing (dear god, her cheeks were suddenly on fire), “I’d think most people would be too squeamish, but then again - you are a doctor, right? You probably have your own fair share of bizarre incidents.”
“You’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve seen the most random objects stuck in places where they shouldn’t be,” Carina automatically replies.
With eyebrows furrowing, Maya tilts her head to the side slightly.
“I’m an OB/GYN,” Carina explains.
Maya lets out a short laugh, before quickly covering her mouth with her hand. “Sorry,” she apologies. “But I think that makes it, uh, even worse. Do I even want to know the weirdest thing..?”
“Oh, bellissima , I don’t think you can even guess,” Carina challenges, following up with another sip of white wine.
Maya meets Carina eye. The doctor is smirking - it’s adorable. Instead of coming up with an answer - not that she can, not while being completely smitten and lost in Carina’s gaze - Maya just shakes her head in defeat and raises her whiskey glass to her lips.
“A gun in a vagina,” Carina states rather non-chantantly as Maya takes a poorly timed sip.
Throat now burning, Maya coughs harshly into her elbow and sets her glass down on the bar. She takes the napkin Carina offers her and wipes her mouth. “Excuse me, what ?” she manages to choke out. “Was it loaded ?”
It was Carina’s turn to laugh - a sound filled with such melody that Maya immediately is determined to make her laugh as much as she can. Plus, the way she scrunches her nose and her eyes crinkle were kind of cute.
This is not the night at Joe’s that Maya had envisioned when she stepped through the door, but it is one that she’s happily taking. They continue to talk, ignoring everything around them - focus only on each other, as if no one else was at the bar. They continue to trade work stories back and forth.
What’s it really like being a firefighter - the captain, no less?
Well, it’s a lot more paperwork than one would imagine.
What’s the craziest fire you’ve put out?
One of the craziest - overturned tanker from a crash. Ethanol fire - can’t even see it, making it so much more dangerous.
Are you ever scared?
It’s the job. You head into danger. You save lives. Sometimes, you’re putting out fires. Other times, you’re saving cats from trees.
Hang on, that actually happens?
Once and the damn thing scratched up my entire right arm.
Got through it. Kept my eyes forward and got Poptart back to her owner on the ground.
Eyes forward, is that your own personal mantra?
Yes. It helped me earn a gold medal at the summer Olympics.
You were in the Olympics? When?
London, 2012. So, um, why does Grey Sloan have so many crazy stories?
Are you certain it’s just Grey Sloan and not the Seattle area in general?
At least it gives them stories to tell gorgeous women at the bar, they conclude before cheering and finishing off their drinks. They debate another round, but Carina ultimately decides she has to pass. She has an early shift at the hospital in the morning. At the very least, they keep talking.
“So, where are you from?” Maya asks.
“Does it sound like I’m not from here?” Carina teases, wrinkling her nose, before answering earnestly. “Italy - I’ve been in Seattle for the last couple of years.”
“How does one decide to come to Seattle all the way from Italy?” Maya follows up.
“My baby brother is also a doctor,” Carina explains. “He did all his education here in the States and then he was matched to Grey Sloan as an intern - he’s a surgical resident now. I came to be closer to him because, you know, family is important. That, and the Chief of Surgery was willing to allow me to conduct research.”
“What’s your research on?” Maya asks.
Before Carina can respond, the bartender makes the last call and delivers their separate checks. Both of them suddenly realize just how late it is. At least Maya knows she still has one more day off; Carina’s not so lucky, it seems.
“The female brain before, during, and after orgasm,” Carina replies as she tucks a few bills under the receipt before standing up.
Embarrassingly, about an hour ago, Maya lost count how many times Carina rendered her completely flustered, speechless, breathless, or a combination of all three during this chance encounter this evening. Here she is again, finding herself unable to breath, yet again. How is this woman even real ?
“Um, maybe next time you can tell me all about your, uh, research?”
There’s a tiny bit of more shared small talk between them before they part ways for the night. It’s only when Maya gets halfway back to her apartment when it dawns on her: they didn’t plan for a second.. what would you even call this? It also hits her that they didn’t exchange numbers either.
So fucking smooth, Bishop .
Once home, and after showering the day away, Maya flops into bed and immediately gets on her phone. What she does next, she’s not entirely proud of, but it is all the hope she has at the moment.
She pulls up Facebook and types into the search bar: Carina DeLuca.
Okay, fine, one more - Instagram, maybe?
Still no hits.
The woman is on social media lockdown. Or maybe just not on any of them - more power to her, if that’s the case. Maya’s not at all savvy herself. Honestly, she only has the two because members of the squad pushed her into it, before she became captain. You know, when they would actually talk to her.
She turns to her last resort: good ol’ Google.
Dr. Carina DeLuca, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. - OB/GYN at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital - Profile.
Maya clicks on the link that doesn’t provide her a way to actually reach the doctor, but it does offer a rather fantastic photograph of Carina in that embroidered white coat. Hot doctor , she catches herself thinking before she begins to scroll through the profile: a short personal and professional bio followed by her formal education and ending with a list of her publications.
Hot and smart , Maya corrects herself. And you still don’t have her number .
She can’t really sleep that night; she’s too worked up and too busy playing over their conversation over and over again in her mind, trying to pinpoint moments where she could have easily just slipped her number.
The idea comes to her a lot later than it should have.
But at least it comes at all.
She’s not entirely sure how early a doctor would consider an early morning shift. She knew her standard shifts start at 6am and that was early enough. She doesn’t imagine Grey-Sloan follows the same schedule as the station by any means. So, she forces herself to wait until she’s certain that Carina would be in.
From the coffee cart just outside of the hospital, Maya orders two lattes. Why lattes? Well, it sounds pretty Italian, right? (Carina would later tell her, when they were actually dating, that there really wasn’t anything Italian about it - latte is Italian for milk. Starbucks did not authentic Italian coffee culture any favors.)
When her order is ready, Maya asks to borrow the barista’s pen. She quickly, but legibly (she makes sure of it) writes down her telephone number on one of the disposable cups. She picks up the numbered cup in her right hand and heads towards the hospital, mentally chanting to herself: right hand, right hand, right hand .
God help her if she gave up the wrong cup.
Maya wanders into the hospital, knowing full well this is kind of where her plan dissolves. She’s not entirely sure where she can find Carina -- oh, she’s standing at the reception center.
Maybe the universe’s throwing her a bone after completely and utterly failed last night.
Whatever the case, she appreciates the good fortune.
“Good morning,” Maya greets, coming up to her side.
Carina does a double take, clearly not accepting to see the captain in the hospital - at least not again. “Oh! Maya! Hi,” she replies, a bit distracted. Maybe Maya shouldn’t have come. “Good morning - what brings you here? Are you okay?”
“Yes, sorry, I’m good,” Maya immediately replies and holds out her right hand. “I kept you way too long yesterday and I figured I owed you this.”
Her genuine smile makes Maya forget any lingering doubt that she shouldn’t be here. As Carina takes the cup from Maya, she gently brushes her fingers against hers. Maya shivers slightly; she hopes no one notices.
“ Grazie . You didn’t have to, but I’m glad that you did,” she says, taking a small, quick sip. “I’d like to see you again, if that’s alright with you.”
Maya nods, maybe a bit too eagerly, “Yeah, me too - maybe you can tell me a bit more about your research?”
“Tell you? Or maybe show you,” Carina says rather coyly with a half smirk.
And there Maya goes again - forgetting how to breathe and welcoming the fluttering butterflies in her stomach once again. “I’m, uh, I’m,” she begins, trying to find her voice. “I’m looking forward to it, then. Text me?” she points to the cup in Carina’s hand.
Carina looks down at the cup and her smile grows - there’s that enticing smile that entrapped Maya at the bar. Biting back a laugh, Carina takes another sip and nods in compliance. “I will, bella . I’ll see you soon,” she ensures.
“Have a good day, then,” Maya replies and then turns on her heel to take her leave.
When Maya steps out of the hospital, she releases the breath she isn’t aware that she was holding. She lingers in the courtyard for a few minutes, waiting - waiting for her phone to go off. A notification. A call. Anything.
She walks home - or, rather, runs. Of course she does. She needs to get out of her mind for a second; she needs to let go of the building stress. Maybe it wasn’t an accident that they didn’t exchange numbers at the bar last night - fuck, maybe it was intentional. Maybe last night didn’t go as well as Maya thought. Maybe she read into things wrong.
Maya gets to her apartment door and finds the appropriate key. Before she could unlock the door, she feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. Maya freezes in place. Her heart begins to race painfully in her chest as she fetches it. She looks down at the screen and sighs a sigh of relief, unable to contain her grin.
Ciao, bella! :)