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shaking like a leaf

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It was unusually warm for April, the first day of what was predicted to be a two-week heatwave, and Ava had all but dragged Sarah to one of the picnic benches around the back of the hospital to have lunch. It still wasn’t as warm as back home, but it was already so much better than the bitterness of the long Chicago winter that Ava didn’t care; she was just happy to not need a dozen layers to stop her from freezing to death.

Sarah seemed to have other ideas though, Ava noted. Her shirt was buttoned all the way up to her neck, the collar just peeking out from the top of her Gaffney fleece, and she had the sleeves of the fleece pulled down beyond her fingertips. 

They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes, Sarah watching in amusement as Ava picked out what seemed to be a never-ending amount of onion from her burger, until finally she was satisfied with the pile of it that had amassed on her napkin.

     “Do you think they know what no onion means?” She took a bite of her burger, then frowned and pulled another bit of the cursed vegetable out of her mouth.

     “I think they’re just doing it to piss you off.”

Ava’s frown deepened. “Well, it’s definitely working.” She set the burger down on the little cardboard tray it was served on, eyeing it distrustfully, then focused her attention back on Sarah.

     “Aren’t you eating?”

The younger doctor shook her head, then produced a large, clear bottle of water from her backpack. It was half-full, with some leaves and slices of lemon and cucumber floating in it.

     “Is that basil?”

     “Mint. It’s really good for you, y’know.”

Ava didn’t say anything. She couldn’t wrap her head around what she was seeing, the way Sarah was so casual about having half a bottle of iced water for lunch. Even from across the table, Ava could see that Sarah’s nails were closer to a pale purple than the healthy pink she was used to, and she felt a pit open in her stomach.

     “You’re shaking like a leaf, my love. You need to eat something.”

Sarah smiled, then took a sip from her bottle. “I’m fine. I had two of those uh- the blueberry Belvita things you like before my shift, and I had a coffee an hour ago. I feel fine.”

That wasn’t enough. Ava didn’t need her medical degree to know that that wasn’t enough, and from the way Sarah was fiddling with the cap of her bottle and avoiding eye contact, Ava could tell that at least some part of her knew it as well.

     “Your shift started almost six hours ago. You need more than-”

     “No, I don’t. I told you, I’m fine.” She’d never snapped at Ava before, and the look on her girlfriend’s face was almost enough to make her feel bad about it. Almost.


     “No! I don’t have to justify anything to you. Why can’t you just trust me?”

She didn’t give Ava a chance to respond before she’d stood up, taking her backpack in one hand and her bottle in the other, and left. Her brain felt foggy - it was just tiredness, that was all - but somehow her thoughts were going a mile a minute as she tried to process what had just happened. She’d said too much. Ava knew too much. She had to be better next time or Ava would get suspicious, and Sarah wasn’t sure if she had it in her to defend herself like that again. 

But it was fine. Everything was fine, and she had it under control.