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a hard day’s night

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“Cordelia. Cordelia.”

A sigh, and then-


Cordelia shot up like an arrow, her hand flailing for her phone before her eyes were even open.

“I’m awake, I’m up.”

She squinted at the intrusion, her eyes still adjusting to the bright lights. Zoe took a step back and gave a timid smile.

“Sorry for waking you,” she apologised. “But I need a consult.”

Cordelia nodded and ran her fingers through her hair. She dragged herself out of the small bed and shrugged on her lab coat. She grimaced and stretched her arms above her head, hearing an audible pop.

“God, the beds in these on-call rooms are horrible,” she complained as she left the room, Zoe hot on her heels.

The younger woman handed her a chart as they made their way to the ER. Cordelia flipped through it while Zoe filled her in. “It’s pretty straight forward,” she shrugged. “But I need a more senior doctor to take a look and sign off before I discharge the patient.

Cordelia had been an ER doctor for just over seven years, and had worked in this particular hospital for four. She loved her job, but on nights like this, when she was on call and awake for 21 hours with only a ten minute nap in the nearest on-call room, she wondered if maybe she should have been a teacher instead. Something with a nice, short work day, where the most stressful part of her job was planning lessons, and no one’s life was in her hands on a daily basis.

Entering the ER, Cordelia didn’t even blink at the various noises that immediately assaulted her ears, instead striding towards the patient Zoe pointed out and double checking the other doctor’s exam. Within a few minutes, she declared the man good to go, presenting him with discharge papers and sending him on his way. Sliding the chart across the ER desk to one of the nurses there, she rested her chin in her hand and allowed herself a moment’s reprieve. She started at the hand that landed on her shoulder, spinning around to see Coco holding a Starbucks cup towards her.

“I am in love with you,” Cordelia said in lieu of a greeting, accepting the coffee and taking a grateful sip.

“As you should be,” Coco replied. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and glanced around the ER. “Especially since I came all the way down to the pits of hell to give you this.”

Cordelia rolled her eyes and continued drinking her coffee. It was still hot, and made with a shot of hazelnut just the way she liked it, and she thanked every star in the galaxy for aligning in a way that made Coco her best friend. “What do you have against emergency medicine? It’s not that bad.”

“It’s literally like a war zone down here,” Coco complained. “Do you know how much stress I’m under right now? None.” She raised an eyebrow at Cordelia, who remained in a perpetual state of stress. “Hence why dermatology is superior.”

“Dermatology is not superior, it’s boring.”

Coco gasped, her hand coming to press against her chest. “You take that back, Cordelia Goode.”

Cordelia’s playful reply got cut off by a nurse appearing by her side. She shrugged at Coco and waved as she walked backwards away from her.

“My war zone calls,” she said instead. “I’ll meet you for breakfast after our shift.”

She turned on her heel and headed towards her latest patient. Glancing down at the paperwork the nurse had given her, she stopped at the foot of the examination bed. “Miss Montogomery, I’m Doctor Goode,” she introduced. “You’re here with an ankle injury?”

She looked up and saw the woman – Madison, according to her paperwork – wearing dark sunglasses that covered most of her seemingly pale face. She was flanked by a woman on either side, both looking a mixture of concerned and exasperated.

“I fell off a table last night,” Madison said in a bored tone. “I didn’t feel the pain until early this morning.”

“When she sobered up,” one of the women elaborated.

Cordelia hid her smile at the glare Madison threw. “Not the first alcohol related injury I’ve treated, won’t be the last,” she assured the three of them.

She looked up at the woman who had made the comment, and their eyes locked. Cordelia’s professional smile faltered slightly, caught off guard.

She was beautiful.

She tore her eyes away quickly and began her examination of Madison’s swollen ankle.

“I’m Misty, by the way,” the woman introduced with a smile. She pointed at the other person by Madison’s side. “And that’s Mallory.”

“Nice to meet you,” Cordelia greeted politely.

“Could you maybe stop flirting with the doctor, Swampy, I’m looking to get out of here as quick as I can. My head is killing me.”

Cordelia’s hand slipped minutely from Madison’s ankle, thankfully not enough to be noticeable or hurt the girl’s already sore foot. She glanced up out of the corner of her eye and saw a light blush settling on Misty’s cheeks.

“Y’know what, next time you wake up complainin’ of a sore ankle, I think I’ll leave you to walk to the hospital yourself,” she shot back.

“Okay, okay,” Mallory interrupted. “Let’s just let the doctor do her job and then we can all leave without killing each other.”

Cordelia couldn’t fight a small smile at their arguing. She reached for some bandages and began to wrap Madison’s foot, asking a passing nurse to bring her some crutches. “Well, the good news is it’s not broken,” she told Madison while she wrapped the bandages. “But it is sprained, so you’re going to have to keep your weight off it for a while.”

Amidst much complaining, Madison balanced her weight on the crutches Cordelia held out to her, Mallory hovering beside her cautiously. After signing the discharge papers and snatching the painkiller prescription Cordelia wrote out for her, the two women left the ER slowly, with Mallory graciously thanking Cordelia as they left. Misty stayed behind, twisting one of her rings.

“Thanks for all your help, Doctor,” she said. “And sorry about- sorry about Madison’s comment. I wasn’t- I didn’t mean… yeah. Sorry if it made you uncomfortable. She has no boundaries.”

Cordelia smiled at her. The light blush had returned to Misty’s face, and Cordelia let her eyes flicker over her features briefly. “Please, call me Cordelia. And don’t worry about it, I wasn’t uncomfortable. Madison seems… like a character.”

Misty snorted. “A bitch, I think you mean.”

Cordelia laughed brightly, and Misty’s eyes lit up as she gave a wide grin.

“You’re friends with her, though.”

Misty shrugged, her eyes never leaving Cordelia’s face. “She’s a good person underneath it all. Way, way, way underneath.” She smirked. “I kicked her ass once, years ago, and ever since there’s been a sort of mutual understanding. She’s a bitch, but I know she has my back.”

There was a moment where they both just looked at each other. Misty opened her mouth to speak again, but the sudden sound of sirens in the ambulance bay stopped her short. “I should go,” she said instead.

“Yeah,” Cordelia agreed, and why was she feeling a little disappointed? “I should…” she gestured vaguely to the ambulance reversing into the bay, nurses already gathering around ready to receive their next patient.

“See ya, Doctor Cordelia.”

Misty gave a wave and a smile, and then she was gone, disappearing through the ER and leaving Cordelia to rush to meet the paramedics at the door.

Not long after, the clocks struck 8am and Cordelia heaved a sigh of relief. She quickly filled in the doctor arriving for the next shift and went to change out of her scrubs. She hadn’t done a shift that long in a long time, and she could feel her entire body crying out to her. Grabbing her handbag and phone, she made sure not to look back as she left the hospital.

Driving on such little sleep felt slightly irresponsible, but she opened the window to let the breeze in and made sure to pick a radio station with a talk show, something with a heated debate on the air that would keep her awake long enough to reach the café around the corner. Spotting Coco’s car already parked up, she pulled in beside it and strolled in tiredly. Coco waved at her, two cups of coffee already sitting on the table, and Cordelia practically fell into the seat across from her.

“The waitress came while you were parking, so I ordered you the pancakes. That’s still your go-to here, right?”

Cordelia nodded and took a hefty swig of her coffee. “Thanks, Co.”

A comfortable silence fell between them while they waited for their food, both too tired for conversation until the caffeine kicked in. Coco regained her energy first, as she always did, just as their breakfast was placed in front of them by the waitress.

“Did I see you with Madison Montgomery before your shift ended?”

Cordelia paused with a forkful of pancakes in front of her mouth. “Yeah,” she answered. Her brow furrowed as she chewed. “Do you know her?”

Coco shrugged and took a bite of her eggs. “She’s an actress,” she explained. “Nothing big, just a few TV roles, but I recognised from an episode of some rerun I got invested in one night when I couldn’t sleep.”

Cordelia nodded absently, spearing the blueberries on her plate on her fork one by one.

“That other blonde she was with was pretty hot,” Coco commented casually.

Cordelia stabbed another blueberry and looked at Coco suspiciously. “I don’t like it when you say things in that voice, it makes me think you’re plotting something.”

“I’m just saying,” Coco held her hands up in surrender.

Cordelia’s memory flashed back to seeing Misty that morning, her curly hair and bright eyes lasered into her brain. She shook her head and forced the images out of her mind.

“Eat your breakfast, Coco, I wanna go to bed.”

“Patient in bay 6 for you, Doc.”

Cordelia thanked the nurse as she entered the ER. Heading to bay 6, she grabbed the chart by the bed and looked up to greet the patient.

“Misty,” she said in surprise.

Misty flashed her a grin. “Hi, again.”

“No Madison with you today?”

“God, no,” Misty wrinkled her nose, and Cordelia was sure hearts appeared in her eyes when she saw her do it. “If there’s no vodka involved, Maddi ain’t interested.”

Cordelia gave a small laugh and stepped closer to Misty, gesturing at the cloth she was holding against her hand. “What happened?”

“Just cut myself by accident when I was making lunch,” she shrugged. “I wasn’t gonna come, but my friends said they thought it needed stitches.”

Cordeia nodded as she carefully unwrapped the cloth. She muttered a small apology when Misty winced, her features twisting in sympathy.

“Well, I’m afraid your friends were right,” she told Misty once she had looked at the cut on her hand. “It’s not too bad, but definitely deep enough to need stitches.”

Misty’s shoulders slumped, her face falling at the same time.

“You okay?” Cordelia asked softly. She would be as gentle in her approach with any patient in her care, it was part of being a doctor, but something about Misty made part of her call out, especially when she looked as small as she did now.

“Not too keen on needles,” Misty admitted embarrassedly. “I was kinda hopin’ you’d be able to just throw a plaster on it and call it a day.”

Cordelia chuckled and started rooting through the drawers beside the bed. Pulling out a suture kit, she looked over at Misty. “A lot of people don’t like stitches, don’t worry.” She snapped on a pair of gloves and opened the kit, carefully taking out the needle and thread. Looking up, she saw Misty’s face pale even further, and her heart clenched.

“Hey,” she nudged her gently. “I’ll be as quick as I can, okay? It probably won’t even scar.”

Misty nodded quickly, her eyes glued to the needle in Cordelia’s hand. Cordelia was quick to tap her chin with her index finger, gently forcing her to look up.

“Don’t look,” she instructed softly. “Just look at me, okay?”

Misty’s eyes locked onto Cordelia’s for a beat, almost as if searching for something. Trust, perhaps. Honesty. Whatever she was looking for, she found it, because she nodded firmly and held her wounded hand out for Cordelia to take. Cordelia smiled at her, small but genuine, and began stitching the wound.

Misty made sure to keep her eyes trained on Cordelia’s face, trying to distract from the stitches by watching the look of concentration, the slight crease between her brows as she carefully but expertly handled the needle and thread.

“All done,” Cordelia declared.

Misty blinked herself back into the present from where she had been mesmerised by the way the bright lights of the ER glinted off Cordelia’s glasses. She looked down at her hand, which had been cleaned and stitched neatly. She looked back up at Cordelia with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said sincerely. “Wasn’t so bad after all.”

Cordelia risked a wink that she told herself was friendly. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” She smiled wider at the grin Misty gave. “Come on, I’ll sort out your discharge papers and then you’re good to go.”

Misty hopped off the bed and followed her to the nurses station. Once Cordelia signed the papers, Misty reached out to touch her arm.

“Thank you, again,” she said. “You’ve been great, Cordelia, with both me and Madison the other day.”

Cordelia smiled warmly at her. “Just doing my job,” she waved off Misty’s words.

“Well,” Misty’s eyes flickered down and back up before they landed back on Cordelia’s face with a bright smile and a glint in her eye. “I appreciate the soft touch.”

She gave a wink of her own and left the ER with a final lingering touch to Cordelia’s arm. Cordelia stood frozen for a few seconds before she cleared her throat and went back to her work.

Was Misty flirting with her?

After seeing a few more patients – and trying to keep her mind from wandering to Misty – Cordelia spotted a small card on the floor, just beside one of the beds. Bending down, she picked it up and recognised it as a bank card that someone had clearly dropped at some point throughout the day. Turning it over, she read the name printed on the front of the card.

Misty Day

She huffed out a small laugh, not believing the odds of Misty being the one to drop her card out of all the patients that come in and out of the ER on a daily basis. Maybe it was a sign. Rolling her eyes at herself for even having a thought so silly, she slipped the card into the pocket of her white coat with a mental reminder to find a way to return it to her. She tugged off her latex gloves and dumped them in the nearest bin, grabbing a pen and heading to greet her next patient.


With all the chaos that came with being one of the head doctors in the ER, Cordelia nearly forgot about Misty’s card sitting in her pocket. At long last, her shift ended, and as she pulled off her coat in the locker room, she felt the edge of the plastic through the material of her jacket. She quickly changed her clothes and slid the card into her back pocket before picking up her bag and heading back down to the ER.

Stopping at the admissions desk, she tapped the card against the wood and hummed absentmindedly under her breath while she searched for Misty’s name in the database. Pulling up her file from earlier that day, she scanned the personal details until she found, right at the bottom-

Her phone number.

She grabbed a post it and a pen from the desk and quickly scribbled the number in her illegible doctor’s scrawl.

Once she was outside the hospital, away from all the noise – and the potential of being nabbed for “one more patient” before she left – she punched the number into her phone. She hesitated and tugged her bottom lip between her teeth. She was the doctor who had treated Misty when she arrived in the ER, so looking through her file for her phone number technically didn’t break confidentiality, but she still felt a flutter of nerves that Misty would be disapproving. Hoping the happiness of being reunited with her bank card would outweigh any ethical concerns she may have, Cordelia hit the green button on her screen before she could back out.

It seemed to ring forever.

In reality, only a few rings passed before it was answered with an accented “hello?”

“Misty? Hi, it’s Cordelia- um, Doctor Goode, from the hospital.” She ran her thumb over the raised letters of Misty’s name on her card. “Sorry, I took your number from your file, but you dropped your bank card in the ER earlier and I just wanted to let you know that I have it.”

“Oh!” Misty exclaimed on the other end of the phone. “I’ve been lookin’ everywhere for that! Thanks for ringin’ me, I really appreciate it.”

“No problem,” Cordelia breathed a sigh of relief. “Um, how do you want me to get it back to you?”

The easiest – and most logical – thing to do was leave the card at the admissions desk in the ER and let Misty stop by someday to pick it up. It would be safe there, and that way both Cordeia and Misty could carry on with their lives before Misty collected it. It was professional, and realistic, and-

“Is there somewhere I could meet you to give it to you?”

And apparently not what Cordelia was going to do.

She could hear shifting on the other end of the line, a faint rustling and some distant voices. She heard a door shut, and then Misty’s voice came back over the phone.

“Sorry, my friends were bein’ kinda loud,” she apologised briefly. “That would be great, but only if it’s not too much trouble. I know you’re probably super busy what with bein’ a kickass doctor and all.”

Cordelia blushed, grateful Misty couldn’t see her over the phone. She laughed lightly. “It’s no trouble at all,” she promised. “I just finished my shift and I have a few days off, so I can meet you whenever.” She cringed at the forced casualness in her tone. She had only met Misty Day twice, but already there was something about her that had a hold over Cordelia, a grip on her that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be released. She was infatuated already, and despite the warning signs blinking faintly in the corner of her mind, a bigger part of her brain was flashing green, desperate to see where this could go.

“There’s a cute lil diner near the hospital,” Misty suggested. “We could maybe grab some breakfast there in the morning? Say around ten?”

Cordelia didn’t even try to hide the smile breaking across her face. “Sounds perfect,” she agreed, and she couldn’t bring herself to care about the happiness that probably seeped through to her tone.

Cordelia, in all her stress, arrived at the café early. She sat in her car for a few minutes until it was a more acceptable time to go in, tapping out a mindless rhythm on the steering wheel. It was the same café she and Coco frequented in after night shifts, and she was glad that she was familiar with the place Misty had chosen. Once the clock in her car struck five to ten, she double checked that she had Misty’s bank card in her purse before turning off the ignition and making her way inside.

She spotted Misty easily, waving over at her from one of the tables. She quickly ordered a tea for herself and made her way over to the other woman.

“Hi,” she greeted with a smile.

Misty smiled back, light and airy. “Hey, Miss Cordelia.”

Cordelia blushed at the title and bit her lip. She took a quick sip of her tea and unzipped her purse, pulling out the small plastic card and slid it across the table towards Misty. “Your card.”

A grateful look crossed Misty’s face as she pocketed the card. “Thank you so much,” she said. “It was so clumsy of me to drop it. I really do appreciate you meetin’ me to give it back.”

“It’s no problem,” Cordelia assured her. “It was a nice excuse to see you again.”

Cordelia didn’t know where her sudden burst of confidence came from, but it was worth it for the look on Misty’s face, an endearing mix of shyness and confidence with a small smirk growing on her face. Cordelia ducked her head with a shy smile of her own.

“Well, I gotta admit I was also glad to get to see you again,” Misty said happily. “I didn’t think I was ever gonna see you again unless I ended up back in the ER.”

Cordelia laughed and watched with a smile as Misty launched into a story about some alcohol induced fight Madison had gotten herself into over the weekend. She watched the ever present light in Misty’s eyes, the way she gestured with her hands while she told a story and paused at random moments to claim she was rambling, only for Cordelia to encourage her to keep going.

Breakfast flew by, while at the same time lasting forever as if Misty and Cordelia had always known each other.

“Babe it is practically the middle of the night, you better have a good reason for calling me.”

“I think I like someone.”

There was a rustling on the other end of the line, and then Coco’s voice came through again, clearer than before.

“Yeah, definitely a good enough reason. Who do you like? It’s not that Hank guy who keeps asking you out, right?”

Cordelia scoffed. “Of course not.”

She settled back against the pillows, her limbs heavy with tiredness. Despite the dryness she felt in her eyes with every blink, she felt wide awake. Her lamp cast a soft glow across her room, causing shadows to dance across the walls. She didn’t even dare to look at the time, knowing she had been tossing and turning for far too long for someone who had work in the morning.

“It’s.. it’s this patient I treated a while ago.”

She could practically sense Coco’s excitement thrumming through the phone, regardless of the late hour.

“We met twice at the hospital, and then we met for breakfast because she left her bank card in the ER, and-“

“Wait, wait,” Coco cut her off mid-sentence. “She?”

At Cordelia’s answering silence, Coco continued. “Holy shit, this is amazing. Being your best friend is so worthwhile.”

“Coco, I’m being serious.”

Coco’s voice softened. “I know you are. Talk to me, Cords.”

“I just-“ Cordelia sighed. “I think I really like her, Co. And I don’t really know what to do.”

“Have you considered telling her?” Coco asked.

“Obviously I’ve considered that,” Cordelia snapped. She took a breath. “Sorry.”

Even though Cordelia couldn’t see Coco, she could picture her shrugging. “You’re good,” she said. “Do you wanna do a pros and cons list?”

And this was what Cordelia loved about Coco. Sure, she annoyed her endlessly, but Coco seemed to understand Cordelia on a level that few before ever managed. She not only knew the way Cordelia worked, but she accepted it, despite not always understanding it. She knew the things that made Cordelia calm, and she was always more than willing to play along for the sake of helping her best friend. The biggest example of this was her willingness to make lists with Cordelia anytime she got stressed. Displaying all the virtues of a true best friend, Coco would listen dutifully as Cordelia recited the pros and cons of whichever situation was stressing her out, never once teasing her or making her feel silly.

She sighed. “Pros,” she began. “She’s really nice. Really pretty. We get on really well. We never ran out of conversation when we were together. She makes me laugh.”

She paused, hearing Coco shifting on the other end of the phone. She stroked her finger along her duvet. “Cons,” she continued. She paused again. “I can’t think of any cons.”

“Cordelia, I love you,” Coco said. “But you’re killing me here.”

Cordelia groaned. “Okay, okay,” she conceded. “So should I do something?”

“I’m hanging up the phone now. I love you. Go get your girl.”

Cordelia sat at the bar and nervously sipped her vodka and coke. She tore at the napkin under her glass with her nail, the thin paper ripping easily. Taking Coco’s advice, she had rang Misty the following morning and invited her out for drinks, sounding more confident than she felt on the inside.

“Like a date?” Misty had asked.

Cordelia had managed to only stutter once when she confirmed that yes, it was a date, if that was okay with Misty.

Now, she heard Coco’s encouraging words ringing in her ears thanks to the pep talk she had given her after work that day, and she resolved to act calmer in Misty’s presence.

She looked to the door and spotted Misty walking in, looking angelic, and she felt her nerves dissipate into the warm air of the bar.

“Hey, darlin’,” Misty greeted as she took a seat and ordered a drink.

“Hey,” Cordelia smiled back, and did she have to blush every time Misty spoke to her?

Misty immediately started asking Cordelia about her day, and Cordelia had never been put at ease by a person so quickly. She laughed at Misty’s horrified expression when she heard that Cordelia had just finished three night shifts in a row.

“Lemme order you another drink, you deserve it. Do you do nights often?”

Cordelia accepted the new drink gratefully, taking a sip before she answered. “I have to do three every month, and two on-call shifts a month, but the rest is all days,” she explained.

Misty nodded slowly, taking a sip of her own drink. “It must be difficult,” she said. “Being an ER doctor. I imagine you see a lot of hard stuff.”

Cordelia shrugged and twirled her straw. “It can be,” she answered honestly. “You have to try and compartmentalise. If you bring the job home with you every night you’ll go insane.”

She looked back to Misty’s face, feeling her breath hitch slightly at the warm smile the other woman was aiming in her direction, her eyes flickering over Cordelia’s face as she took in every word.

She could feel the warmth from Misty’s gaze seep into her bones, warming her insides with something she was cautious to name. She let her own eyes wander over Misty, taking her in with a smile of her own.


Cordelia blinked, becoming aware that Misty had been talking to her. She blushed and offered her an apologetic smile. “Sorry,” she bit her lip.

“S’okay,” Misty smiled back. “You okay?”

Cordelia nodded and refocused her attention on Misty’s words. “Yes, perfect,” she breathed. “We’ve only been talking about me. Tell me about yourself.”

As Misty spoke, the lights in the bar caught the highlights in her hair, the blonder streaks almost glowing. Cordelia smiled at the sight and leaned back in her seat, laughing at one of Misty’s stories.

A few drinks later had Cordelia feeling light and happy, trading stories and light touches with Misty. They had moved from the bar to a booth, looking for somewhere quieter as they spoke. Spying the time and Misty’s near empty drink, Cordelia decided to take a leap she couldn’t resist.

“Do you want to come back to mine for a while?” she asked, sounding steadier than she felt. “I promise the drinks are much cheaper,” she added with a smile.

Misty looked at her, their eyes locking for a second longer than Cordelia’s blood pressure could handle.

“I’d like that,” Misty said, and her bright smile mirrored Cordelia’s and nearly made her weak at the knees.


It was late when they fell into bed together, the room dark except for the soft light emanating from the lamp in the corner. They smiled against each other’s lips, kisses soft and touches softer, and Cordelia felt like she could float off the bed without Misty’s grounding touch keeping her tethered.

When Cordelia woke, it was brighter, the sun trying its best to shine through her curtains. She could feel feather light touches on her back, fingers trailing down her spine and back up again. She shifted to face Misty, whose hand froze above Cordelia’s body.

“Mornin’,” she greeted softly with a grin.

“Good morning,” Cordelia returned, her voice still hoarse from sleep. She saw Misty smile wider. “Sleep well?”

“Mmm,” Misty exaggeratedly pretended to consider her answer while she rolled closer to Cordelia. “Pretty good,” she decided. “I woke up during the night and saw this really pretty gal sleeping beside me, so I’ve definitely had worse nights.”

Cordelia gave a light laugh and lay her head on Misty’s shoulder. “I’m glad to hear that.” She could feel Misty shifting, grabbing the remote from Cordelia’s bedside locker and turning on the TV. The screen lit up, still paused from where Cordelia had been watching Sleepless in Seattle while getting ready for her date the previous evening.

“Big Tom Hanks fan?” Misty smirked.

“I’m more of a Meg Ryan girl, actually,” Cordelia said around a yawn.

Misty nodded. “Same. I used to have a huge crush on her when I was younger.”

“Really?” Cordelia asked, a single brow raising as she lifted her head to look at Misty.

“Oh, yeah,” She replied. “That diner scene in When Harry Met Sally was a big sexual awakening for me.”

Cordelia snorted into her pillow, shoving her head into Misty’s shoulder to muffle her laughter. She felt Misty’s arm come up to hold her, her laughter mixing with Cordelia’s. Cordelia let herself relax into the hold, the steady thump thump thump of Misty’s heart a soothing beat.

She let herself drift off to sleep again, warm from Misty’s touch, feeling the light kiss she placed on her head as she slept.