Heart and Mind
Catra is running late on the worst possible day in the history of her life. She’d underestimated the traffic in upper Brightmoon in the early afternoon—rush hour for people on their lunch breaks—and even with her motorcycle she comes up a couple minutes short just outside the parking garage. The motorcycle was a bad idea on her part; her roommate (a close friend since her undergrad years) offered her car but Catra was positive in her ability to get to her internship on time but, as she rolls into the lobby with sweat staining her clothes, a reminder of the way her fabric stuck to the leather seat of her bike during the ride, she instantly regrets her decision.
“Come on, come on,” Catra chants under her breath. The damn keycard they gave her for the intern locker room is a piece of shit. The interns are less than scum and apparently have their quarters located all the way in the basement where it’s hot and stuffy—the place where all the trash piles up. The forgotten items. “Screw it,” Catra says, deciding to change in the nearest bathroom on the first floor.
She stuffs her bike riding gear into the brown shoulder bag she’s toted around since last year, shoving herself into her light blue scrubs, before drying off with some cheap paper towels (poor budgeting for the number one hospital in the region). Catra dumps her bag into a cabinet under the sink before ducking out—she pulls her hair into a sloppy ponytail when she notices a gangly group of babyface young adults that look out of place.
Catra snatches a pen from a nurses desk before she slips into the back next to some guy with shaggy brown hair. She thinks she’s in the clear when their Fellow finds her in the crowd. Those dark eyes narrow in on her and Catra knows she’s screwed for the rest of her career at this hospital.
“…Catrina,” she doesn’t read off the clipboard—instead, she has Catra’s name memorized for disdain. “What time were you supposed to be here?”
Catra’s face burns with embarrassment as her peers look on at the train wreck that is her life. “0800 hours.”
“And what time is it now?”
“Fifty minutes wasted, if you were a surgeon on call and you arrived fifty minutes late your patient would be dead.” Her tormentor thankfully doesn’t waste too much time on her, doesn’t leave a mark next to her name on the clipboard, but Catra knows she’s been mentally marked. “Next we will move on to the OR, none of you will step foot in there for a couple months but it’s nice to know where it is in case of an emergency. Come on, keep up or you’ll be left behind.”
Catra hangs back not wanting to draw more attention to herself. It doesn’t work as well as she planned because she catches a flash of blonde as an eager intern leaves the front of the group to saddle in next to her. Catra gets stuck on how blue her eyes are so she misses half of what she says.
“Huh?” Catra says, smooth as a glass of water laced with shards of glass.
The girl laughs into her hand. “I said don’t worry about Dr. Weaver. If it seems like she hates you, it’s, probably true, but she hates everyone.”
“Ah,” Catra nods. “Thanks…I was worried I messed up my shot.”
Catra grew up skipping around a lot from foster homes. She never did find a family so when she turned eighteen she decided to pave her own path by taking some classes at Horde Community College. Her passion for medicine hit her in the gut when one of her close friends who she knew from the system died from a brain aneurysm. After that she hit a rough patch; trouble sleeping and eating, all of which impacted her mood and therefore her schoolwork. She managed to pull out of her funk by focusing on other things; so, she got a reception job at a hospital in her area to understand more of the process (from the time the doctors come in to when they leave at night). After that she actually got a scholarship—her, of all people—to the Brightmoon University where she majored in Biology, minoring in Chemistry to begin her journey.
Everyone said she couldn’t do it.
There’s no way in hell she’s gonna prove them right by messing up now.
“You’re Catra…” the blonde ducks her head. “I swear I’m not a stalker or anything but I read your thesis posted through BMU’s science journal. I went there, graduated a year before you so that’s probably why we’ve never met until now.”
“Oh, wow, thanks.” Her professor at the time had criticized her hard on that thesis so it makes her feel great knowing at least someone got her vision. “Hey, sorry…what’s your name?”
Catra memorizes it. “You said you graduated a year early, so you’re a second-year intern then…why are you hanging out with first years?”
“They typically ask one upper class intern to help out. It’s better when you have someone who’s been where you are, you know?”
Catra definitely feels better in her presence.
“0850!” Dr. Weaver’s voice is like a bucket of ice water—the numbers are foreign, no way to address a person, but Catra snaps into attention; somehow she knows it's directed at her. “Keep up! And stop distracting Adora!”
Catra bites her tongue, a vicious slur burns at the tip of her mouth but she’s older now. A couple years ago maybe but, no, she couldn’t throw this away.
She’s rewarded for her restraint, she thinks, when Adora bumps shoulders with her before she scurries back to the front. Catra staggers behind, a step out of time, when a cloud of flowery fragrance leaves her sluggish.
Catra slinks out from the humid basement where the interns reside sometime in the late afternoon on a Saturday. Her schedule lately has been pretty decent; 2:00pm is great even on the weekend because it gives her time to sleep in.
Ever since Weaver stepped away from the day to day business that was ruining her life, Catra’s time at the hospital has been bearable. Scorpia’s girlfriend, Perfuma (a Peds surgeon on the top floor), told her that Weaver was retiring soon so she was slowly relinquishing the reins. Which meant, thank God, Catra wouldn’t have to deal with those scornful eyes when she actually became something at this place.
“Nurse, could you get Mr. Johnson 2.5mL of acetaminophen? Thank you.”
Catra forgets what she’s doing (how important could it have been?) when she sees Adora, dressed in her fancy royal blue scrubs—a stark contrast from Catra’s baby blue—talking to one of the nurses.
Authority is strange and perfect for Adora all at the same time. She gives the nurse a job to do with a kind smile to match her albeit tired eyes (which is far kinder than the way Weaver barks orders at her subordinates).
Catra sneaks up behind the blonde with a sudden urge of playfulness that only bubbles to the surface when Adora’s involved. “You look awful,” is not what she wanted to say but she gets nervous and tongue tied all of a sudden.
“Gee, thanks a lot.” Adora chides but her eyes look brighter than before; her mood shifts but the loose strands falling from the tightest ponytail in the world reveals the truth. “I’ve been here since 3am with all these new patients. Bow was given too many.”
Catra tilts her head.
“You know, he’s super busy with his research project he’s working on with Entrapta in the lab...so I took some off his plate. It pays better but it’s exhausting.”
Catra nods as she trails down the hall, always at Adora’s side. “I bet, but it’s your own fault you know.”
“Dare I ask?”
“You’re a hotshot surgeon now Grayskull. Get some interns to do some work for you. That’s honestly the only thing that keeps me going these days is knowing that in less than two months I’ll be a resident equipped with interns to do my bidding.”
Adora laughs. “Not sure that’s how it works—but it’s fine. The on-call beds aren’t too bad, plus, I know what it’s like to be an intern and I’m not gonna subject them to that—”
“You heard most of the interns were taken and you’re worried you might get stuck with Kyle aren’t you?”
Adora drops her head in shame. “He’s a great guy but—”
“He couldn’t boil water without mysteriously setting fire to an above ground pool. I got it.” Catra snorts, “so what’s your plan then? You’re too paranoid not to have at least five backups.”
“True…” Adora stops near one of the exits and leans against the cream wall. “I was thinking—”
“Sounds dangerous already.”
Adora pushes her playfully. It seems to do the trick because Adora leans off the wall and actually makes eye contact with her like a normal human being. “You’re an intern, and we get along great; you’re capable, smart, and you already know my habits—we make a great team. And I saw that no one has added you to their schedule yet…”
“You want me to be your intern?”
Adora stutters, “you wouldn’t be my intern just, like, on my team...you’re a person you don’t belong to—“
Catra saves her the embarrassment. “Wouldn’t that be weird? You’d be, like, my boss. I don’t think I could take you seriously.”
“You’re just full of compliments today aren’t you?” Adora quips. “But really, you’re good at separating your personal life from your work so I’m not worried.”
Catra warms up to it. “I guess…it’ll kinda be like old times; staying up late working on cases, checking up on the patients, but I’d actually get to stay in your on-call room in an actual bed instead of sleeping on those stale matts stacked up in that damn basement.”
“Yeah,” Adora stutters “I guess we would share the same bed—bunk I mean, and I’d top—I mean, I’d take the top. The top bunk.”
Catra’s too lost in thought to notice Adora’s inner turmoil.
She and Adora haven’t had an all-nighter in ages. In fact, this conversation is the longest they’ve spoken in weeks but not out of spite or whatever bullshit drama that’s going on in this hospital. Adora’s busy with all her new patients and adjusting to her big girl job while Catra is knee deep in grunt work reserved for the interns.
Catra has been scraping burnt skin off the legs of some campers who had a campfire-gone-wrong situation for the past week. It’s not the best job but it’s better than changing bed pans like Kyle (nobody trusts him with too much responsibility after the fish incident last week).
Long story short, Catra can go without the smell of burnt skin lingering on her scrubs.
“Alright,” Catra decides “I guess this makes us partners.”
Adora grins, all dorky and wide. “Cool.”
“Cool,” Catra mimics her. “Now go get some sleep already you look exhausted.”
Adora’s shoulders slump as if a weight has been lifted. “That was my last one so I’m heading out now. Check the board tomorrow, I’ll have you added as soon as I get in.”
“Sounds good, I’ll see you soon.”
Adora offers a sluggish wave as the day finally catches up to her. If she hadn’t seen Bow’s car in the parking lot Catra would be worried about Adora getting home on her own.
The next day Catra has to get to the hospital early in the morning which means the traffic is light and riding her bike is actually the fastest route through the normally congested streets. All in all it honestly feels freeing. She worked late last night, only getting a couple hours of sleep, but it’s kind of worth getting to look at the way the sunset reflects in the ocean just over the bridge.
“Ready to find out whose bitch we’re gonna be for these last two months?” Lonnie asks, wasting no time at all to pounce on her as Catra slips into the intern changing room.
Catra shoves some stuff into her locker. “Speak for yourself, Adora’s got me covered so you’re on your own this time.”
When they first started working together as interns Catra and Lonnie couldn’t stand each other. They’re both headstrong so they got into it a lot with arguments about petty things that they can’t even recall—it feels so long ago now. Catra isn’t sure exactly where the change occurred. Maybe it was the night they worked on that Alzheimer’s case, the one that triggered memories Lonnie had from her past.
Catra hadn’t spoken that night, but she sat outside the door in the darkened hallway where no one could see Lonnie break down into her shoulder. The change wasn’t instant, they went back to throwing verbal jabs at one another but suddenly the words were more endearing than biting.
Even their friends noticed the change between the two and were left wondering.
“Of course she’d pick you.” Lonnie says. There’s something else, lingering in her tone, that makes Catra’s skin prickle.
She should drop it, they need to head to the fifth floor to see whose detail they’re on for the last two months, but she’s curious. The tone is familiar; Catra’s heard it, lingering behind the words of her friends, generally when they’re talking about Adora.
“What does that mean?”
Lonnie pauses, as if she’s contemplating the fate of the world. “Nothing,” Lonnie decides against whatever she was gonna say. “Come on, let’s get upstairs before we’re late.”
Catra’s too tired to argue so she does as she’s told.
The trek up to the upper level of the hospital is always a workout. Since Brightmoon Hospital includes a trauma center the elevators are always backed up for the patients or the doctors; there are the main elevators but those are all the way at the front of the building while the basement exit is towards the back for trash dump access.
Catra and Lonnie found a way around this annoying system during their second year as interns. There are freight elevators for the maintenance workers in the back; they’re hot and stuffy, far smaller than the luxury elevators up front, but it saves them from having to climb several flights of stairs.
“You’re late,” Glimmer, of all people, berates them as they slip into the room.
Catra huffs, “not all of us have the luxury of staying in the on-call rooms because our mom and dad run the hospital.” She hates it the moment the words leave her mouth. “…sorry, I didn’t get a lot of sleep and I’ve been stuck on burn victim duty.”
“It’s fine.” Glimmer sighs, rubbing her arms as if a chill crept up. “I get it.”
Glimmer longs to crawl out of the shadow of her family. Born into a class of world-renowned surgeons, Glimmer struggles with making a name for herself and separating from the high expectations that is her family legacy. Catra could never understand the burdens of family, and status.
Glimmer is a third-year intern and, similar to Lonnie, she and Catra didn’t exactly become best friends right away. Adora played a huge role in getting them acquainted but the level of trust and friendship they’ve built is all on them. Catra’s had conversations, admitted deep fears, to Glimmer (some of which she hasn’t even told Adora).
“Where is everyone?” Lonnie asks.
“There’s a huge trauma that just came in. Some roller coaster at the amusement park down the street collapsed into the street. Mermista is backed up so she’s taken most of the interns to help her out today. I was walking by and I saw a guy with a metal pike through his chest just stumbling in.” Glimmer shudders. “He didn’t even know it was there.”
Lonnie swoons . “Please let me be in her detail…” she scans the board frantically, “yes!”
Catra isn’t against gore, she doesn’t have a weak stomach, but trauma isn’t her thing. It does attribute to her creative nature but something is always missing for her when she’s pushed into the chaos of it all. “Pull your panties up, geez.”
Lonnie smiles, flipping her off simultaneously. “Screw you, I’ve been changing bed pans in the clinic all week so this is like the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“What about you?” Catra asks, turning to Glimmer.
“Bow picked me to help come up with some ideas for his research project.”
Catra nods, “Adora said she’d pick me for her detail so I should head over and get her charts ready. She likes to have them ready before she arrives, in order of importance. Last time Kyle had her checking up on patients with minor heartburn while one of her other patients was going into cardiac arrest just around the corner.”
Glimmer laughs, “I remember that! She was so stressed when she came back home—”
“Uhh, Catra.” Lonnie speaks carefully as if she’s trying to coax a frightened animal. “You might want to see this.”
Catra shares a look with Glimmer. “What is it?”
“Don’t freak out.”
Catra tenses up. “What?”
Lonnie slowly backs away from the board. She points to it without a word.
“…seriously,” Catra says, walking up to the white board to see what has her friend so spooked. “What’s up with—”
Work detail schedule for the month:
Mermista (Trauma center): Rogelio, Lonnie, Kyle and the first years
Perfuma (Peds): Scorpia
Bow (Cardio): Glimmer and Entrapta
Adora (Cardio): Double Trouble
Weaver (Nuero): 0850
Catra stumbles back. “No…”
“Catra,” Lonnie says with a hand stretched out.
Catra shakes her head. “No…God, no…kill me. Kill me now.”
“There you are 0850.” Speaking of the devil; Weaver slithers into the hall with an angel at her side. Adora’s twisted face, rich in sorrow, makes Catra feel a little bit better knowing that Adora didn’t have a choice—that she hadn’t left Catra out to dry on purpose. “Late again. If you’re going to be with me these last two months then you’ll have to be on time.”
“What’s going on?” Catra asks, just a little bit hostile. She uses a tone she had worked hard to master in the foster homes she’d bounced from but also one she’s worked even harder to omit over the years.
“What’s going on,” Weaver says as she shoves an iPad into Catra’s hand “is located in those files. Better hurry up and get reading, we’ve got fifty-nine patients to get through these last two months before this hospital makes the decision to actually give you some real responsibility. It’s my job to make sure you’re capable.”
Catra growls. “Capable?”
She graduated the top of her class, has come up with the most creative mechanisms throughout her internship, was hand picked by Micah himself (the chief of surgery), and Weaver is questioning if she’s capable .
“Let’s get moving. And change your scrubs before you meet me on the second floor, you still smell like scrapping duty. I’ll give you ten minutes.” Weaver orders before slinking back into the darkness of the hallway.
Adora turns to her, eyebrows pinched together. “I’m so sorry. She called me five minutes after I wrote your name down and told me she would be taking you on instead. She trumps my vote—”
“It’s not your fault the universe hates me, Adora.”
Glimmer rolls her eyes. “You’re so dramatic.”
“She’s had it out for me—”
“Since the day you came in late, we know.” Lonnie says, “it’s only for a month…well, two actually. And she’s the best neurosurgeon we have—”
Catra snorts. “Duh. She’s a master at mind control.”
“For the love of…” Lonnie pulls Catra by the collar of her shirt and drags her away. “Let’s go before you piss her off more than you already have.”
A few days into Weaver’s work detail and Catra finds herself walking into the lunch room very zombie-like. Her body is lethargic as she goes about snatching a tray and piling it up with two apples, a turkey sandwich, and a bottle of water (Adora always bugs her about getting a Hydro Flask and just using an available filter to save the environment or whatever but she’s too exhausted to grab it her from her locker).
“Wildcat!” Scorpia’s shout is like a hammer to her head. “Over here!”
Catra takes a breath to prepare herself before she walks over and plops down into the bench next to Adora. Glimmer and Scorpia sit across from her happily munching on their lunches without a care in the world.
“You okay?” Adora asks softly, nudging her shoulder gently.
Catra moves on autopilot, stuffing whatever’s on her plate into her mouth. “…it’s been three days since I arrived in hell—”
“Here we go with the dramatics,” Glimmer mutters to herself.
“—five cases down, fifty-four to go…I arrive at 6am to organize her charts, Weaver does it differently so I have to give myself an hour in advance to prepare.”
Scorpia frowns. “What do you mean?”
“It’s like…” Catra tussles her hair. “She doesn’t do it in order of importance…I can’t find her pattern. She has a system but I haven’t cracked it yet and if I ask her she’d just pile on more work.”
“Do you need help with anything? I’m caught up with my patient’s now that I have DT working with me.” Adora says, “they’re surprisingly organized.”
Catra checks the time. “Nah, I only have fifteen minutes before I have to get back. There’s this patient who’s having headaches, and loss of vision, but there’s nothing showing up on the scans. All of their other vitals are fine…Weaver needs me to read through some case files to come up with some ideas of what might be going on.”
Adora sits up straighter. “I have some time,” she says quickly.
“Don’t worry about it,” Catra says through a yawn “Lonnie is done with trauma duty so she’s working with Spinerella, she has a case she has to work on too so we’re gonna meet up and suffer together. Misery loves company and all that.”
“Oh, okay.” Adora trails off, looking helpless as Catra stands with her tray.
Glimmer asks suddenly, “what’s up with you and Lonnie?”
“Nothing?” Catra frowns. “Why, should something be going on?”
Glimmer shrugs. “You guys couldn’t stand each other—”
“I couldn’t stand you either.”
“—but now you two are attached to the hip. Is there something there?” Glimmer has a shit eating grin on her face; it’s enough for Catra to narrow in on, so much so she doesn’t see the panicked look on Adora’s face as she shakes her head violently in Glimmer’s direction.
Catra would laugh if she weren’t so drained. “We’re just friends…kind of.” She snatches her red phone out her pocket when it buzzes. “Shit, my blunt trauma victim's aneurysm is about to turn into a scrambled egg. I gotta go.”
Catra barely has time to drop her tray in the trash before she’s off.
On the last day of her first month in hells hospital, Catra is being somewhat complimented by Weaver in the woman’s private office.
“Well, you’ve managed to not screw up these last few weeks.”
Catra tilts her head. “…thank you?”
Weaver grunts, tossing Catra another daunting tablet. “We’ve gotten through more than half of our patients so I’m sure you have time for a little side project. Check it out.”
“A new patient?” Catra says, scanning through the details. “Tracy Bivins aged 56, symptoms of headaches, balance problems, body stiffness and...that’s it?”
Weaver rolls her eyes. “You have to do some of the work 0850.”
Catra sighs. “Fine then, I’ll add her to the list. After I’m done checking on Vivian I’ll run more tests on Bivins.”
“You’re not allowed.”
“Bivins is a private person. Tell me what you need from her and I’ll perform the tests myself. Just give me a list of the tests you need and then I’ll send the reports to you. I expect you to have some ideas by the end of the week.”
Catra runs a hand through her hair to calm herself because this goose chase is the last thing she needs.
Since the day Catra has been put on Weaver’s team she has not stepped foot into an OR. It’s a little unfair how Catra does all of the grunt work, slaving over case studies to diagnose patients and checking in on them to make sure they don’t, well, die.
So, when Weaver heads to the OR for a routine aneurysm surgery and looks at Catra to say “are you coming or not?” to say Catra is shocked would be an understatement. A month of being stuck in the library and now she’s about to be in the room where it happens. Catra hasn’t seen the inside of an OR since Micah let her scrub in on a whipple before she got added to Weaver’s detail. She misses the energy the room puts off so she hurries in to scrub before Weaver can change her mind.
“0850,” Weaver hasn’t even grabbed a scalpel yet and she’s already trying to embarrass her in the OR. At least her mask hides the twitch of her lips (one of her tells according to Adora when she’s irritated). “Walk me through this surgery.”
Catra has given up questioning this mad women’s teaching. She answers swiftly, “make an incision above the parietal lobe and then proceed to clear excess blood from the bone flap which is then carefully placed inside a pan upon further treatment. A microscope is used to gain a clear view of the brain to carefully separate the aneurysm from unaffected blood vessels. The aneurysm is then clamped with a clip, from there the bone flap will be secured back into place and the wound will be sealed.”
Weaver stares her down for a long moment. Catra almost falls over in shock when Weaver steps aside and says, “get to it then.”
Moving on autopilot, Catra slides into position and does what she’s dreamed of doing for years. “Scalpel.”
When the surgery is complete (successfully of course), Weaver doesn’t offer praise or a reason for her actions. She just slams another stack of patient files into Catra’s arm. The adrenaline from the surgery keeps her going along with the crushing hug Adora gives her when Catra’s heading out of the parking lot late into the night.
“Whoa,” Catra almost falls over from the hug “what’s the occasion.”
Adora squeals. “Everyone’s talking about the surgery you did! Congrats!”
Catra’s stomach flips pleasantly. “It’s not a big deal.”
“It’s amazing and we’re celebrating. No drinks obviously because we have to be up early but let’s indulge in some greasy food.”
Catra laughs. “Sounds perfect.”
The turning point comes when Weaver lets Catra take on the remainder of her surgery’s.
Catra is sitting in Weaver’s office getting another one of her hunches about patient Bivins rejected half-way through her last month as an intern.
“This would be easier if I could meet this lady. By the time I have the tests too many things have changed.”
Weaver doesn’t budge. “No excuses. Figure it out.”
“I’ve got my hands full with these surgeries. Not that I’m complaining, I love the rush of the OR and just being able to be in the room.” Catra leans forward; maybe it’s how much time she and Weaver have spent together because Catra feels more relaxed around her to tease occasionally. “My success rate is great though, right?”
Weaver frowns. “People’s lives aren’t a game let alone a record to achieve like some high score. And stop fishing for praise, I’m not going to congratulate you for doing your job.”
Catra is so used to Weaver’s grim look on life the comment actually makes her smile. “Okay, that’s fair but I have made your filing life easier. I finally cracked your code, no one’s done it before, and because of it we’ve been able to release twice the number of our patients than last month.”
The system is hard to explain. Catra doesn’t understand it herself. She just watched how Weaver stuck around to talk to the patients, getting to know them.
Weaver once picked a simple headache case over a brain tumor sitting on a patient's occipital lobe that rendered them blind. It was the right move because the headache turned out to be meningitis that would have spread quickly if left untreated.
So, Weaver’s master method of prioritizing patients is pure instinct. It’s not a skill that can be learned, something Catra’s used to survive the moment she was placed into the system. She wonders if Weaver recognized her trait and that was the reason for her request.
“You’re not a terrible intern.”
Catra smiles. “So throw me a bone. Why’d you request me? I was supposed to work with Adora and learn about cardio for a bit.”
Weaver scoffs. “Adora wouldn’t have challenged you. You’re about to go into the real surgeon world and I’ll be damned if you’re not prepared. You’ve never even had an interest in cardiology, your college thesis was on nuerotransmitters.”
“You,” Catra sits up “read my paper?”
“Why do you think I picked you for my service?”
“Cruel and unusual punishment?”
Weaver cracks a smile. “You’re the less incompetent intern in your year.”
“Wow, you’re really bad at compliments.”
“Shut up and get working on the Bivins case. I’d like you to have a solution before I drop dead.”
Catra scoffs on her way out. “And they say I’m dramatic.”
Catra is slumped on the Bivins case and with only three days left of her internship she decides to take it back to the beginning. So, when the door opens, Catra immediately holds up a bag of burgers and wings in one hand and a jug of iced tea in the other from a popular food shack on the south side.
“I come bearing gifts.”
Glimmer isn’t amused. “Now you know we exist?”
“Let her in Glimmer!” Adora shouts somewhere from the living room.
Catra takes her cue to shove the jug into Glimmer’s unprepared hands before sliding inside. “Hey Adora.”
Catra groans. “Not you too. Look, I have your favorite. Went all the way to the south side.”
Adora’s growling stomach betrays her. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in months.”
“Weaver’s service isn’t a joke. I barely have time to be here right now.”
Bow joins them on the couch. “Everyone’s talking about your success rate with all the cases you’ve gotten from Weaver. This’ll definitely jumpstart your residency.”
“Yeah,” Glimmer teases “the nurse on the Cardio floor has been asking about you. I think she might ask you out.”
Catra snorts. “Elaine hates me.”
“Not anymore. You’re a hotshot surgeon now.”
“Whatever, I’m not into her. Even if I was, I'm too busy with this case.”
Adora speaks up after being quiet for so long. “Need someone to run some ideas off of? I’m off tomorrow.”
Catra grins. “Yes please, I need my muse to help me out with this one.”
Adora flushes. “Where do we start?”
They pull out the old white board from Adora’s intern days and crack open some case files that Catra definitely wasn’t allowed to take off the hospital ground (Glimmer pretends not to notice). The flow is familiar and they slip back into it easily; Catra throwing ideas out, Adora shutting it down or redirecting it with her shared knowledge.
Bow taps out after three hours, and Glimmer is soon to follow not too long after, but Catra and Adora are too wrapped up in checking disorders off the list to notice.
Catra rubs her eyes. “Did we try multiple sclerosis?”
“She doesn’t have any vision loss.”
“Not yet,” Catra huffs “these scans are so inaccurate, I should be reviewing them the moment they occur not hours later.”
Adora hums. “It could be anything...mercury poisoning left unchecked, anxiety, the brain can be affected in so many ways without us knowing until it’s too late.”
Catra jumps up to glare at the board up close. “Man, if I don’t figure this out by the end of the week Weaver’s gonna have my head for lunch and dinner. Come on, what are we missing?”
“We only have a few symptoms. A headache, which could mean anything, stiffness in the body...”
“The rest of her levels are fine…” Catra paces. “There was nothing on the cat scan, we have generic symptoms but we need to narrow them down. But I can’t do that because Weaver hates me and wants to make my life hell by sending me on this goose chase. If I don’t figure this out she’s going to ruin me and then no one will take me seriously as a surgeon—“
Adora stands up and says calmly, “Catra. Breathe.”
“—and I’ll be stuck with worse interns than Kyle—freaking Kyle!”
“Why does Weaver always have to—“
Adora steps in front of her before she can continue her rapid pacing. Catra doesn’t realize how hard she has been breathing until the force of Adora’s kiss takes the breath away from her. A pleasant fog wraps around her like a security blanket; the thoughts previously encumbering her fade away with each press and pull—dragging her further into Adora’s orbit.
She wouldn’t mind getting lost here.
Every sensation seems to be heightened; Catra notices every hitched breath, every brush of an eyelash against a flushing cheek, she marvels in even the sloppy parts when their noses bump in their eagerness. But any traces of awkwardness is drowned out by laughter and wide grins.
But above all, what Catra really notices is the way Adora trembles under the touch of her hands. Her stomach caves in when Catra brushes along smooth skin; it makes Catra smile so hard she has to break the kiss.
Part of why she never made a move on Adora was because of their friendship, the blonde had quickly become someone in Catra’s inner circle so she didn’t want to screw up on that front. Adora is also a year older, and heavily focused on work with no room for much else, so she’d considered if Adora was even interested in romance—let alone with someone younger than her.
It’s a revelation honestly—the effect she has on Adora, so much so that her entire body shakes under her touch like a fragile leaf in the breeze…
Adora pulls away when she realizes Catra has stopped. “Are you okay?” She looks panicked but Catra is too deep into the rabbit hole to stop now.
“I have to go,” Catra says.
Anyone else would have taken this as a dismissal or a deflection but Adora knows her too well. She can see the familiar spark behind those feline eyes and it reassures her.
Adora can’t stop smiling. “Okay,” Adora says, hesitating for just a moment before indulging in one last kiss.
Catra nearly falls to the floor as she rushes to gather her things. The traces of Adora’s kiss keeps her warm despite the biting chill of winter's night.
Weaver looks up from her desk when Catra barges in with her last and final diagnosis. Weaver doesn’t speak so Catra keeps going right after she shuts the door behind her.
“I double backed and checked the previous scans to find a consistent pattern; low dopamine levels. It gives reason to the cramping and headaches and loss of balance.”
Weaver isn’t impressed. “That’s not a diagnosis—“
“Trembling.” Catra says, “low dopamine levels can also cause trembling to occur; a shaky arm, or hand, and it can lead to stiffness in the neck especially. The patient was cleared from Alzheimer’s, head trauma injury, stroke risk, and high levels of stress.”
Weaver keeps quiet.
“Parkingson’s disease.” Catra confirms, “there’s no standard test to identify it but the low dopamine levels attributes to why those neurons aren’t receiving those transmissions. That’s my final diagnosis. Bivins’ has Parkingson’s disease.”
A brief pause before Catra whispers:
“...you have Parkingson’s disease.”
Weaver’s only tell is when she turns her chair so her back is facing Catra.
“That’s it isn’t it? It’s why you’ve let me take on all your surgery’s—“
“I let you take them on because I knew you could do it. This...just gave me a reason to finally make good on my responsibility as your teacher. When you first came to this hospital I limited you based on false assumptions but you proved me wrong day after day.”
Catra’s eyes burn with unshed tears. “It’s manageable, you can take something for the tremors and fix your diet so that means no more caffeine. If you set up a plan then you’ll be back—“
“I’m an old woman,” Weaver turns around with a thin smile. “I’ve had a good run. I’m retiring. Maybe I’ll catch up on some shows.”
“Does your family know? We have to tell them, you need a support system—“
“Everything is taken care of. My family has been informed, I’m set to retire,” Weaver pauses “and I’ve taught you how to be a surgeon.”
Catra shakes her head. Stupid tears. Why won’t they just stay in.
“Catra.” Weaver smiles at the unfamiliar name that falls from her mouth. “Dr. Catra, you’re going to do great things. Don’t doubt that.”
Catra clears her throat. “So...you do know my name.”
“Get out of here 0850.”
Catra lets out a wet laugh. “There she is.”
“Snowflake,” her intern bristles at the nickname but knows better than to object by now “go to the clinic and help out Netossa. There’s a group of sorority girls who had a wild night at some stupid frat party so we’re gonna need some banana bags set up.”
Frosta groans. “Come on, you’re doing a neuroendoscopy and you’re benching me so I can help sorority girls get over their hangover? That’s not fair, I haven’t been in the OR in weeks.”
Catra doesn’t look up from her iPad. “Great so you’ll go down to the clinic to set up the banana bags and then head over to Plastics to rub ointment and the burn victims from the fire that happened downtown.”
Adora shakes her head from where she’s subtly listening across the room beside Glimmer. It’s cruel but she has to stifle a laugh at the outraged look on Frosta’s face.
“What, that’s not-"
“Okay great,” Catra adds on “we’re short on nurses on the fifth floor so you can go ahead and help them clean up bed pans.” She finally looks up from her tablet with a narrow glare. “Pattern recognition should be setting in right about now. You see how this goes, Snowflake?”
Frosta huffs, “I’ll head over to the clinic now”, before she’s spinning around and heading for the elevator.
Catra calls out, “interns take the elevators in the back!”
Glimmer laughs when Frosta is out of ear shot, “she hates you.”
“If she didn’t then I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
“Still, Frosta is the best intern this year. Shouldn’t you give her a break?”
Catra scoffs. “She’s way too arragant.”
Adora leans against the desk to peer down at her girlfriend beneath long lashes. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Catra whispers, bashful all of a sudden.
Glimmer makes a barfing sound. “Gross, you too are gross. I’m out of here before I throw up,” she says but they’re too wrapped up in each other to notice.
“How do you feel about takeout tonight?” Adora asks.
“Anything’s better than the food here,” Catra huffs. “But sure, I’ll head over to your place but I get off a little bit later so it might take awhile. Then I have to drop off my car and swap it for Scorp’s bike since your building has shitty parking.”
Adora teases her ponytail before going out on a limb. “Or I could just wait, I have some files I can look through until you get done. This way you can leave your car and you could just stay at my place.”
“Your place. The one you share with two other people and occasionally everyone in this hospital whenever they’re having a bad day?”
Adora rolls her eyes. “I’m looking at places.”
“Oh, shit, really? I thought you loved that house?”
“I do but you’re right, it gets a little crowded now and again. Plus,” Adora flushes “it would be cool to have some privacy for, whatever.”
Catra’s breath leaves her for a moment. “Yeah, privacy is good.”
“Dr. Catra...” an intern whose name Catra couldn’t tell anyone for the life of her pops their little bubble they’ve created. In his defense, he does seem to understand what he has just done and takes a shaky step back.
Catra raises an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“They need you up in Ortho.”
“Alright.” Catra sighs, “guess I should head up. I’ll see you tonight?” She brushes her fingers against Adora's arm in passing.
Adora brightens the hallway with her sideways grin.
“It’s a date.”