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From the Beginning

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“Maybe not.” Maya eyes the woman sitting next to her and smiles.

“So, may I ask why you are drinking alone?” Carina has turned to face Maya, her right elbow resting on the bar top, her hand in a fist underneath her chin. She can feel the hesitancy wafting off of Maya. Carina can already tell that this woman doesn’t talk about her feelings or things that happen in her life. That she tends to keep everything bottled up inside and would rather drink alone at a bar.

She waits for Maya to turn back to her. She watches Maya lick her lips before lifting her glass to them to take another drink.

“What if I said no.”

Carina furrows her brow. “Well, I guess I’d accept that answer, but you just look like maybe something is bothering you. I mean, drinking alone, in a bar.” She shrugs.

“Do you usually go around making assumptions about strangers?” Maya asks quickly. She doesn’t say it with a negative tone, more a curiosity than anything.

“Ah.” Carina raises an eyebrow. “We, as humans, always make assumptions about others. It’s a common thing. Not that assumptions are bad. They can be, but they don’t have to be. What are your assumptions about me, then?” She challenges. “I know you have some.”

Maya watches her. Eyes skimming her face before shifting lower, taking in this mysterious woman that has taken up residence on the bar stool next to her and who appears to not be leaving anytime soon. “You’re nosy. Bold. You get want you want, in general.”

“All true. Though I don’t know if I’d use the word nosy. Inquisitive, maybe.” Carina smirks.

“Smart.” Maya mumbles. She can clearly see that this woman is intelligent.

“Anything else?” Carina wants to know what Maya thinks of her. This little game that they are playing is interesting.

“Well-“ Maya swirls her drink around in its glass. “It’s less of an assumption and more of a fact, I think.”

Carina tilts her chin up waiting for what’s coming next.

“You’re tall and confident. That confidence is evident in the way you carry yourself and in turn makes you seem taller and larger than life. And that combined with your accent- Italian?” Carina nods. “Is super hot and sexy.”

Carina chuckles. “I’d say you’ve got a pretty good read on me, Captain.”

Maya scoffs.

“What?” Carina curls her lips up on one side.

“Captain.” Maya grumbles under her breath.

“Well, that’s how you introduced yourself.”

“And you see where you have all the confidence in the world that’s the one thing that I lack right now. Which usually isn’t a problem for me.” Maya brings her glass to her lips. It bothers her so much that she feels so out of sorts.

“How so?” Carina raises her glass of wine to her lips and takes a sip as well.

“I’m the captain of the fire station but I don’t feel like it. It was a recent promotion, and my team hates me for it. I took them on a camping trip to build team moral and it turned out to be a disaster. That’s how I ended up in the hospital with the nose.”

“I see.”

“It was supposed to help but I think it just made things worse. I just can’t believe it. I’m failing at this and I’ve never failed at anything in my life.” Maya turns to face Carina now, her whole body, not just her head turned to look at her. “I mean-“ She sighs. “I won a gold medal on a sprained ankle. I can do that, but I can’t do this.” She runs a hand through her hair in frustration.

“You won a gold medal? Like the Olympics?”

Maya smirks. “Yeah. Like the Olympics. London. 2012.”

“That’s impressive.” Carina runs her index finger around the rim of her wine glass. “So, why do you feel like your team hates you?”

Maya rolls her eyes. “Andy hates me for sure. She won’t talk to me. She was my roommate and then she moved out and I don’t know where she lives even because she won’t talk to me. She thinks it should’ve been her to get the captain spot. She’s basically lived in the fire station since she was a little girl. Her father was the captain and he stepped down recently and everyone, myself included, thought Andy would get the promotion. See, Andy, and Jack and I were all lieutenants. But they’ve both been lieutenants longer. We all applied to be captain though. I never thought I would get it. Because of all that, but my dad always says if you want something go after it. Plus, you don’t know if you don’t try. But I got it and so they hate me.”

“Wow.” Carina breathes out. “That’s a lot.” She gives Maya a sympathetic smile.

“I guess.” Maya looks out across the bar, deflecting. She feels weird inside. This is not something she does. Share her feelings. With anyone, let alone this strange woman.

“So, that’s why you are drinking alone tonight?”

Maya sighs and looks back at Carina. “Yeah. Are you like a shrink? Is that what kind of doctor you are? Getting me to spill my guts to you.”

“Spill your guts?” Carina furrows her brow.

Maya rolls her eyes playfully, knowing English is this woman’s second language. “Tell you what’s bothering me.”

Carina nods. “Ah. No. I am an OB/GYN.”

Maya grins at that. “So, like, you look at vaginas all day?”

Carina chuckles. “Not all day but, si. I also deliver babies.”

“That come out of vaginas.”

Carina laughs. “Si. Si.”

Maya smiles at Carina’s little laugh. She notices that Carina’s wine is nearly gone. “You want another?” She motions to the glass.

Carina looks at the wine glass in question. It’s decision making time. It’s late but it’s not super late. Carina has a shift tomorrow but it doesn’t start until one in the afternoon. Another glass of wine at this hour won’t hurt anything. “Does that mean you aren’t drinking alone anymore?” She flirts.

Maya rolls her eyes playfully. “I mean, you can sit next to me, if you want. I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

Carina licks her lips and raises an eyebrow. “Promise?”

Maya exhales slowly. She raises her hand for the bartender to come over. She focuses on him and not the sexy Italian woman sitting next to her. “Another round for us.” She tells him. “Put it on my tab.”

Suddenly, there’s a hand on Maya’s thigh and she nearly jumps out of her skin. She slowly collects herself before looking over at Carina, trying to remain cool, calm.

“Thanks.” Carina says and gives her thigh a squeeze.

Maya thinks for a moment about self-care Wednesday. It’s not Wednesday though. She’s extended that to other days of the week before, so this could be the same. But then the hand is gone.

“You’re welcome.” Maya whispers before clearing her throat. “So, what is an Italian doing in Seattle?”

“Ah, originally, I came to do a study here because I couldn’t get it funded where I was working. And because my baby brother is here. He told me about his chief and when I heard about Dr. Bailey, I knew she would fund my study. And I was right.” Carina grins happily.

“I know Dr. Bailey. She’s married to one of my firefighters.”

“Si. Ben.” Carina smiles and nods. “I’ve worked with Ben. Briefly, but, si, yes.”

“We have more in common than I thought.” Maya hums. Their drinks arrive and Maya takes a sip of her whiskey. “I have a little brother too.”

“Is he just as annoying as my brother is?” Carina chuckles.

Maya pinches her lips together before taking another sip of her drink. “I don’t know.”

“What?”

The mood and atmosphere changes between them. More somber and quiet as Maya sets her drink down on the bar top. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. He’s not- he’s not-“ She doesn’t want to really talk about him. She doesn’t know why she even brought him up. Probably because Carina mentioned her brother.

“It’s okay.” Carina’s hand cover’s Maya’s on the bar. “You don’t have to say anything you’re uncomfortable with.”

Maya smiles her thanks as she looks at the hand on top of hers. She rubs her thumb over Carina’s fingers. “How is your brother annoying?”

“I think he thinks I came here to steal his lightning.” Carina looks up at the ceiling before her eyes return to Maya’s.

“Thunder.”

“Si. Thunder. He was cementing his feet at Grey Sloan when I showed up a few years ago but-“

“Oh, so you didn’t just move here?” Maya doesn’t mean to interrupt.

“No. I was here doing my study. I wasn’t even working as a doctor, just doing the study but then one thing led to another and then I had privileges at the hospital and yeah.” Carina shrugs. “But then I had to go back to Italy for a while. But I came back. I want to be around for a while to keep an eye on Andrea.”

“Andrea?”

Carina nods. “My brother. That’s his given name but he goes by Andrew.”

“That’s Andy’s name. Andrea. Though it’s pronounced a little differently. But only slightly now that I think about it.” Maya mentions. Not that it really matters. Just and interesting coincidence.

“Aren’t languages amazing?” Carina taps her finger against Maya’s hand.

Maya flips her hand over and Carina’s fingers tickle her palm. “It’s interesting. I know just a little bit of Spanish from Andy but that’s it. Just a dumb American who only knows English. Do you know any other languages?”

“Si. Italiano, obviously. English.” She runs her middle finger back and forth across Maya’s palm. “Some Spanish, mostly because it’s similar to Italian. And I little bit of French.” She runs her finger over the calluses on Maya’s hand that she knows she’s developed from being a firefighter.

“You’re very worldly.” Maya mumbles. She’s too busy watching Carina’s fingers play over her hand to have complete thoughts.

“If Andrea weren’t here, I don’t know if I would have stuck around this long.” Carina is into her third year in Seattle. Originally, she was just going to come to do the study and check in on Andrew and then see where life took her; but then she was doing more than the study and checking in on Andrew.

Maya hums. “I’ve lived in Seattle my entire life. Boring, I know.”

“That’s not boring. I’m sure you have a real connection to this city. It’s what keeps you rooted. What keeps you here.”

Again, Maya thinks Carina has hit the nail on the head. She’s not wrong with what she’s saying.

“You are a Fire Captain for the city, after all.” Carina reminds her.

The door to the bar opens and a noisy pair of men walk in. Maya flinches and pulls her hand away from Carina’s. In an attempt to recover she grabs her drink and lifts it to her lips taking a bigger gulp than intended. It’s too much and she starts coughing. It turns into a coughing fit.

“Lift your left arm.” Carina instructs.

“Wh-what?” Maya coughs out.

“Mi nonna always says lift your left arm when you are choking but I don’t know if that’s medically proven to do anything.” Carina says quickly.

When Maya doesn’t lift her arm but continues coughing, Carina reaches out and lifts her right arm above her hear, holding onto her wrist gently.

“That not-“ There’s more coughing. “-my left-“

“Stop talking.”

The bartender comes over. “Is she alright?”

“She’s fine. I’m a doctor.” Carina stands and gets behind Maya and raises her left arm too.

“What are you-“ The coughing won’t stop.

“I said stop talking.”

Maya wants to roll her eyes but the pressure on her chest and in her throat is starting to be relieved. The coughing stops after another minute. Carina lets her wrists go. Her hand coming to rest on Maya’s back, rubbing circles there. “That’s better.” She mumbles before sitting back on her bar stool next to Maya.

Maya just stares over at her incredulously.

“What?” Carina asks.

Maya just shakes her head and laugh.

“Mi nonna says raise the left arm but I think it could be either arm or both arms.”

“Aren’t you a doctor?” Maya smirks.

“Si.” Carina takes a sip of her wine.

Maya swivels around nervously on her bar stool. She doesn’t know what to do with all the energy she has all of a sudden. She doesn’t know where it came from. It definitely wasn’t there when she first sat down at the bar, but then neither was the woman next to her.

Maya watches her for a few moments. Openly. She sees Carina glance over at her but then look away again, well aware that Maya is watching her. Maya is trying to think of something to talk about but can’t come up with anything that she doesn’t think sounds too dumb. There’s this worldly Italian sitting next to her and all she can do is stare at her.

“What’s Italy like?” Maya cringes as she asks the question. It sounds so dumb coming out of her mouth.

Carina turns back to her so that they are face to face again. She quirks an eyebrow at Maya. “Why? You thinking of going there?” She teases.

Maya shakes her head. “You hear story, tales, see stuff on tv or in movies. Is it as romantic as people make it out to be?”

Carina brings her wine glass to her lips again. “Depends.”

“On?”

“Where you are, I suppose. Just like every country. There are romantic parts and then there are the parts that no one sees or talks about.”

“That makes sense.” Maya nods.

“Where have you been?”

“What do you mean?” Maya doesn’t understand the question. She’s already told Carina that she’s only ever lived in Seattle.

“Like, visited, in the world.”

Maya nods. That makes more sense. “London. For the Olympics.”

“That’s it?” Carina smirks. She almost can’t believe it.

“Well, all over the United States for track but we would just go and come back. I never got to do any sight seeing or traveling or whatever. I was always busy and had to focus on track.”

“So did you run long distance or are you just super-fast?”

“Super-fast.” Maya smirks.

“Do you still run?”

“Everyday. Unless I don’t get a chance if I’m working a 24 hour shift. But on shift, I usually run on the treadmill. I prefer to run outside though. I can go out and start running and just go. I run for miles and miles. I lose myself in it. But on the track, the event I won my medal in was long distance. So I have lots of stamina.”

“Interessante.”

“It’s all rather boring. Everyone always groans when I ramble on about running.”

“Can I see your medal sometime?” Carina asks.

Maya opens and closes her mouth. She’s not sure what to say. She eyes Carina trying to figure out if she’s really asking or just asking to make conversation. If she’s really asking, what Carina just asked would imply that they will see each other after tonight. See each other again.

Carina sees her hesitancy. “You don’t have to. I was just curious.” She gives Maya an out.

“No, it’s just- that part of my life is over. I don’t show people my medal.”

“And yet you told me about it tonight.” Carina smirks.

Maya bites her bottom lip. This woman sitting with her is really something. Maya can’t exactly put her finger on what it is that has made Maya reveal more than she would to anyone else. Maybe it’s Carina’s confidence or her own openness but Maya thinks it’s something other than that as well.

“I don’t know why I did.” She says honestly.

“Bragging about your accomplishments, maybe?” Carina smirks and raises an eyebrow.

“Maybe.” Maya wrinkles her brow together. Usually, she doesn’t brag. Most people that she’s trying to pick up don’t like a bragger. Actually, most people that she’s trying to pick up she doesn’t talk this much with. That leads to another thought. Is she trying to pick up this woman and bring her home for a quick hook up?

When Maya set up shop at the bar tonight it was supposed to be by herself and for her to drink away her problems for the night and forget about everything. Instead, she’s barely had two drinks and has mostly been talking to the Italian sitting next to her. She wasn’t looking for a hook up. And she’s not really sure if this is turning into that or not. It’s far different from most situations she’s found herself in before.

But then Carina is standing next to her, a hand on the small of her back. Maya just barely prevents herself from openly moaning at the touch. There’s a napkin from the bar being slid in front of her.

“If you ever change your mind about the medal, let me know.” Carina whispers in her ear. “I am curious to see it, but I understand if you don’t want to show me or- anybody.”

The hot breath on her ear and neck tickles. A shiver runs down Maya’s spine. She feels herself nodding. It’s all happening so fast, and she can’t keep up. The hand is gone from her back. The woman that had been sitting within inches of her for nearly two hours is taking a step back. Maya turns. “Wait.” She’s confused. “You’re leaving?”

Carina nods. “I have a shift at the hospital tomorrow. I can’t stay out all night.” She blows a kiss with her hand and adds a little wave. “Ciao.”

Maya sits there and watches Carina back her way to the door. Carina points at the bar top just before turning and pushing the bar door open and disappearing into the night. Maya turns back to the bar and looks down at the napkin with a phone number on it. She looks over her shoulder again at the door.

“What the fuck just happened?” She mumbles to herself. Maya motions the bartender over again. “Another.” She points at her drink.

“Who was that?” He asks of her white wine companion.

“Apparently, Dr. Carina DeLuca.” She lifts the napkin and looks at the numbers on it.

“Never heard of her. And I’ve heard of a lot of doctors.” The bartender shakes his head.

“Neither have I.” Her thumb rubs over the numbers on the napkin.

“She gave you her number.”

Maya nods. “Yeah.” She lets out a long breath. “She wants to see-“ Maya stops herself. “Yeah, she gave me her number.” She leaves it at that.

Maya punches the number into her phone and save the contact as Dr. DeLuca. She puts her phone, along with the bar napkin, in her coat pocket. Maya grips onto her glass and takes a drink, resuming her nights drinking activities to forget about her job and her day and her team.

Except she doesn’t want to forget about what just happened at the bar so Maya finishes that drink and heads home.