- Taryn Helm
Levi is exhausted. He thought he knew what exhaustion felt like. In high school, he’d stay up until 4 am playing Dungeons and Dragons and then wake up at 7 to go to school. In college, he went a little overboard compensating for all of the partying he didn’t do in high school. In medical school, he pulled all-nighters to ensure a place in the top 10 of his class.
The point is he’s been tired before. He knows tired, but he has never felt the bone-deep ache for sleep he’s feeling right now. Well… there was that one time in Santorini.
He’s slipping out of his scrubs and into his jeans when Taryn walks into the intern locker room. He only met Taryn two weeks ago when they started this surgical internship at Grey-Sloan. He doesn’t know her very well, but she’s falls slightly below the other interns on the amount of less-than-kind things she says to him per day. Maybe that makes them friends.
Levi’s not stupid. He knows he’s a little nerdy – or maybe he’s geeky. He’s never really fully grasped the difference. Anyways, the point is he knows how he’s perceived. He didn’t think it would be such a big deal among a group of surgical interns though. Aren’t they all nerds? They willingly pursued a career that takes a decade to achieve and then a commitment to lifelong learning. How is he somehow the only nerd? But it’s not just that he’s a nerd, it’s that there’s some sort of mob mentality that lends itself toward tearing him down at every turn. It’s not necessarily a new thing. Levi was less than popular in high school. However, itissomething he hasn’t really experienced since hitting adulthood. He was nerdy in undergrad and medical school, but no one really gave him a hard time for it. He was well liked, he had friends, a lot of people thought he was funny.
He has no friends at Grey-Sloan – at least not yet. Taryn is the closest he’s come
“You know its seems pretty unfair that at the end of the day when we’re exhausted and ready to fall into bed, we find ourselves changing out of our scrubs and back into jeans,” Levi comments.
“Who even invented jeans?” Taryn says. She’s apparently game for some banter even though it’s nearly one in the morning. “They’re maybe the least comfortable pant, which is counterintuitive because I think they were developed as a uniform for hard labor.”
Levi Strauss invented jeans. Hold it in. Don’t say it. Don’t be the weirdo that knows who invented jeans. Play it cool.
“I think that was less about comfort and more about durability,” Levi says. He sits on a bench to begin putting on his shoes, but feels himself rock back into a lying position. His eyes slid shut.
“Levi! How are you talking about jeans right now? You’re practically asleep.”
“I’m not asleep,” Levi mumbles.
“You’re eyes are closed, and you’re lying horizontal on bench. You’re at least seventy-five percent asleep.”
“Seventy-five percent seems high. I couldn’t be having this conversation only twenty-five percent awake,” but even as he said it he felt himself slipping further into his exhaustion.
“Are you going home? You should just grab an on-call room.”
“I can’t just grab an on-call room. I’ve been here for almost forty-eight hours. I actually have the weekend off for once. If I go to an on-call room, I’ll sleep. Then, I’ll wake up and walk out of the on-call room to leave and go home. But I won’t actually make it home. I’ll be intercepted by Grey or Pierce or Karev. They’ll trick me into working through my time off. Then I’ll never stop being exhausted, and I’ll never get to see my – ”
“Okay, okay I get it. You can’t drive like this though. Doctors die trying to drive home after shifts like this. There are literal journal articles written about it,” Taryn insists.
Levi heaves himself into an upright position, “I’m glad you’re expressing interest in whether I live or die. I’m honestly a little touched by it. I have to go home though. You’d understand if you were – ”
“If I were what? A crazy person? Because that’s what you are if you think I’m going to let you drive home like this.”
“I’m fine,” Levi gets up on his feat and spreads his arms to show off his general fineness. “My house is like 7 minutes away. I’ll even get coffee in the lobby.”
Levi starts walking out of the locker room. He just needs to make it down a flight of stairs, through the lobby, to his car, and approximately 5 miles down the road. And, okay, maybe that does sound like an unfavorable amount of steps to complete in his current state.
Taryn follows him down the stairs and into the lobby.
“Look, I’m headed home too. I’ll just give you a ride.”
“You’re not headed home. You haven’t even changed out of your scrubs.”
“So I’m not headed home, but I have like an hour before I have to go take over for Parker in the ICU. I’ll drive you,” Taryn seems to notice how unconvinced he is. “Look, it’s as much for me as it is you. Spending time outside of the walls of this hospital sounds like a much needed break.”
Levi looks at Taryn and notices for the first time how frazzled she looks. “Are you okay?”
“I maybe have not had the best day, and I maybe embarrassed myself in front of Meredith Grey. Which is the worst possible thing that I could’ve done because she’s everything to me. She’s the whole reason I chose Grey-Sloan, and I’m like a little in love with her or whatever.
She says it quickly, and her eyes are darting around the lobby. She’s giving every indication that she just divulged something personal. She’s trying to share a private moment with him.
Wow. Maybe they are friends.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Levi offers. He’s slowed his steps as they approach the hospital doors.
“You’re exhausted, and I’m sure you have like a thousand of your own problems. I maybe thought we could talk about it when I saw you in the locker room, but you need sleep. I don’t want to bore you with my boring work struggles and my boring unrequited love struggles.”
“Trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of both of those struggles. Things have a way of working out,” Levi says. He hopes it doesn’t come off as a simple platitude. He knows it’s over simplified, and it probably goes against the scientific method every medical student so completely believes in, but it is genuinely how he feels.
“You’re too nice to me,” Taryn says.
“I’m not too nice to you. You’ve been nice to me,” Levi shrugs. He stops at the coffee cart and hands the barista a dollar. He fills a cardboard cup with the saddest drip coffee around.
“I’ve maybe been nicer than some of our cohort, but I haven’t exactly been nice,” Taryn admits. Levi appreciates the confession. The general poor reception from the rest of the interns hasn’t been completely imagined then.
“Nicer counts for something.”
“See? You’re nice. You’re literally being nice right now.”
“You’re being nice right now. You’re driving me home at 1 am.”
“But you’re consistently nice. How do you do that? You’re even nice to Roy, and he doesn’t even pretend to like you.”
“I don’t know,” Levi says. “I guess I just don’t need anything from Roy. I don’t need anything from anyone here other than an education. I’m here to learn how to be a great surgeon, not to make sure everyone likes me.”
“Why don’t you just be mean back then?”
“This is apparently a foreign concept here, but I find it hard to be mean. I don’t like to be mean. I like to act like myself, and I’m pretty nice.”
“So you admit you’re nice?”
“Okay,” Levi laughs, “I admit that I’m generally a nice guy. But what I really mean is that my personal life is fine outside of work. I’m happy the way things are, so it doesn’t bother me that I’m not making friends.”
“Well you’ve made one friend,” Taryn counters. She gestures to herself.
“I’ve made one friend,” Levi concedes as they walk out the front doors of Grey-Sloan. “So where did you – ”
Oh. That’s unexpected.
Levi and Taryn turn toward the source of the shout. There’s a guy leaning against a sleek, black car – or crossover, or something. Taryn doesn’t know much about cars. She does know a little bit about guys though, even if they’re not exactly her taste. This guy is hot. And not generic white boy hot. Like uniquely hot. He’s uniquely hot, and he’s apparently here for Levi.
Levi, who looks equal parts embarrassed and pleased.
“Uh, hi,” he says, and it’s accompanied by an aborted wave-like gesture.
Hot Guy looks entirely pleased, “Hi.” So he’s not just unattainably attractive, he also has a really warm, welcoming smile.
“What are you doing here?” Levi is apparently not suffering from the same sudden muteness Taryn is.
“Thought you might need a ride home. You’ve been here for like two days, and it’s the middle of the night. Tired Levi does some weird-ass things sometimes,” the guy says.
Tired Levi. Huh, that’s a level of familiarity beyond what Taryn expected.
“That’s not entirely fair. Fully-Awake Levi does some pretty weird-ass things too,” Taryn says. “You must be Levi’s – ”
“Husband,” Hot Guy supplies. “I’m Levi’s husband.”
Taryn’s gaze widens. She was going to guess roommate. She didn’t even know Levi was gay. Looks like they do have something in common. She turns her disbelieving gaze toward Levi.
“Right,” Levi nods. He’s gripping his coffee cup with both hands and his eyes are darting between her and Hot Guy. “This is Nico, my husband. Nico, this is Taryn. She’s one of the other surgical interns, and she was going to give me a ride home.”
“Sounds more like a friend than a fellow intern,” Nico smiles. Taryn notes again that it’s a really nice smile.
“We’re friends,” Taryn confirms. No way is she letting Levi get out of this friendship now that she knows his personal life is this interesting. “Although, as your friend, it would’ve been nice if you had told me you had a husband.”
“Levi!” Hot Guy – Hot Husband – Nicosaid indignantly. “You don’t tell your friends about me?”
“It’s not like that! I don’t tell anyone about you!” Levi says. Then he thinks over what he just said and realizes it’s not exactly the defense he was looking for.
“I don’t see why not,” Taryn jumps in. “If you told everyone about your hot, bodybuilder husband they might not laugh when you do weird-ass things like drop your glasses inside a patient.”
“You dropped your glasses in a patient?” Nico seems even more taken aback. Taryn realizes she may be over-sharing here.
“It was one time! And I was going to tell you eventually. It’s just that if I told you every embarrassing thing I did during a day, I would never stop talking, and you would be seriously worried about my mental health,” Levi says.
“It can’t be that bad,” Nico says. “And thanks for offering to bring him home, Taryn. Even though you seem pretty awake now, babe.”
Babe. Taryn has had her worst day ever, and the one intern who seemed to have it a little worse than she does has a hot husband who calls him things like babe.
“Yeah well a lot has happened in the last five minutes. I made a friend, I was forced to reveal my secret husband, and I drank pretty much an entire cup of coffee.”
Levi moves toward the car, and Nico opens the passenger door for him.
“Is it that or is it that you’re going to force me to – ”
“Make midnight pancakes when we get home? That may be a contributing factor.”
“Not to ruin the moment, but its a little past midnight,” Taryn says, even though she is suddenly craving whatever midnight pancakes are.
“We can make an exception every now and then,” Nico laughs. He’s hot, he smiles, and he makes his husband pancakes at 1 am. Cool. “Especially if Fully-Awake Levi skipped some meals since I lost saw him two days ago.”
“He definitely did,” Levi sighs. He’s pouting, Taryn notices. Nico seems to be eating it up.
“Well we can’t have that,” he says.
“Take me home? I feel like I haven’t seen you in a week.”
“Let’s go home,” Nico agrees.
Levi moves to get in the car, but then pauses, “Wait, Taryn, wanted to talk about her no-good day. Can you wait for like five more minutes?”
Nico nods, and he shows no sign of annoyance. Taryn feels like a burden anyway.
“I’ll see you on Monday,” Taryn offers. “We can talk about it then. You should go home!” She turns to head back into the hospital. Maybe she’s dragging her legs a little bit. She had honestly been looking forward to talking to someone about her bad day.
“Do you like pancakes?”
It’s Nico, not Levi, that asks. Taryn whips back around.
“I love pancakes.”
“Get in the car,” Nico says. “We’ll talk about your no-good day over pancakes. I can drive you back after.”
He’s hot, he smiles, he cooks his husband midnight pancakes, and he invites his husband’s friends over at 1 am because they’ve had a bad day.
Wow. Way to go, Levi.
- Casey Parker
Levi and Taryn are huddled in the corner of the intern locker room whispering and laughing. Two months ago this would’ve been unheard of, but now it’s a regular occurrence. It isn’t that Casey’s jealous. He and Taryn hadn’t made a friendship oath or even ever really acknowledged the way they seemed to more-than-tolerate each other. However, that doesn’t mean it feels good to stand by and watch as the two only other tolerable people in his cohort form become friends without him.
He still hasn’t figured out how this happened. It seemingly occurred overnight. One day Taryn was joking about Levi with the rest of them, and the next day she was throwing glares at anyone who referred to him as Glasses. Then, she and Levi were eating lunch together and having secret meetings on the gurneys in the ambulance bay.
If Casey’s gaydar wasn’t nearly perfect, he would guess they were sleeping together. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though.
Anyways, now he’s in the locker room changing back into his street clothes. He knows Levi and Taryn are going off shift too. He doesn’t want to hang around and hear them make plans without him. For a second, Casey thinks about how his lack of friends is maybe giving him a leg-up on the upcoming intern exam. At least the copious amount of time he spends alone can be devoted to studying.
“We can just go to the research library. It’s usually empty by now,” Taryn’s remark catches Casey off-guard. He’s been studying in the research library several nights this week and hasn’t seen Taryn or Levi there. He feels weirdly possessive of his favorite study spot.
“No way,” Levi says. Casey is relieved for a second. At least the pair of them won’t go to the library and see Casey studying alone. “I’m not spending another second in this hospital. I got thrown up on twice today. Twice. By two different patients. This place is cursed, and I’m not risking my exam results by studying in a cursed place.”
“Okay you’re at like a twelve today, and I need you to be at like no more than a seven if we’re going to study together,” Taryn says.
“I’m sorry,” Levi says, and he sounds genuinely sorry. “I’ve been alone for a week now. I don’t have access to any of the things that normally calm me down.”
“Stop there. I’ve heard enough,” Taryn interrupts. “If you don’t want to study here, can we please just study at your place?”
“I don’t like –”
“Mixing your work life with your home life. I know, but your place has enough room for us to sit more than a couple of inches away from each other. You have a library full of medical journals and textbooks. Your place is preferable to my place. My place has my smelly roommate and her smelly cat.”
“That cat is the worst,” Levi concedes. “We can do my place, but I should probably call – ”
Casey has every intention of quietly leaving the room now that he’s changed clothes. He doesn’t need new friends. He’s fine.
“Could I join?” Okay, so maybe he’s not quietly leaving after all.
There’s an uncomfortable moment of silence where Taryn and Levi look between each other and him.
“I’m smart,” Casey says. “I know things, and I was a coveted study partner at Columbia. Studying is practically my thing, so I’d be doing you a favor, really.”
“You should come,” Taryn says. She turns to Levi, “He should come.”
“He’ll be a good buffer! We’ve talked about how we need a buffer. When you and I study together we spend more than half of the time completely off track. We need a buffer to keep us on topic.”
Levi sighs, but he’s smiling a bit, “Do you like flashcards?”
“I love flashcards,” Casey says.
Levi and Taryn are riding together, and they offered him a spot in Levi’s car. Casey chose to follow behind them though. It was a self-preservation tactic incase he needed a quick exit from the study session. It’s one of the few times when he’s left the hospital while it’s still daylight outside, and the drive to Levi’s isn’t far at all.
He trails them to a cute, craftsman-style bungalow near downtown. It’s painted blue, and has a little porch. Casey wonders how Levi found this place, and how he affords it on their meager internship salary. He must be renting, and he must have a couple of roommates. He thinks wistfully for a second about how Dr. Grey and her friends had all lived together during their surgical internship. Casey lives alone, and he has to admit that it’s lonely sometimes.
Levi pulls into the driveway, and Casey parks on the street out front. He doesn’t want to take up the rest of the driveway, in case one of Levi’s roommates comes home.
Levi and Taryn start making their way to the front door, and Casey follows. There’s a hall tree in the entryway, and Levi and Taryn both take their shoes off and push them under the bench. Casey feels a little strange taking off his shoes in another person’s home, but figures it’s best to follow suit. He follows them down the hall and past the living room. Casey notes how purposeful the décor seems. It looks nothing like the houses and apartments he’s shared of the years. Those were all a mishmash of inherited furniture. Levi’s stuff looks new, or at least specifically chosen for the space. Casey thinks for a second that Levi might live with his mom. He thinks he’s heard Levi mention she lives in Seattle. If that’s the case, he can’t blame him for not advertising it. He gets enough crap from everyone without admitting he still lives at home.
“You have a really nice house,” Casey observes as he follows them into the kitchen. “Did you grow up here?”
Levi grins like he’s genuinely pleased with the complement, “Thanks, and no. I grew up in Seattle, but out in the suburbs. My mom still lives out there. Downtown is just a better location right now. It’s closer to the hospital, restaurant – ”
“Closer to the Mariner’s stadium,” Taryn says.
“You like baseball?” Casey asks. He’s a little surprised.
“I’ve learned to like it,” Levi says.
“We should go to a game sometime,” Casey says. It’s maybe a little premature to make non-hospital related plans, but he’s trying to make some friends here.
“Levi lovesgoing to Mariner’s games,” Taryn smiles. She moves around the kitchen island and starts pulling three mugs down from a cabinet next to the fridge. She moves with the ease of someone who has been here a few times before. “I’m assuming we’re all down for mid-afternoon lattes?”
“Oh we’re so down,” Levi says. “You have to make them though because I still can’t operate that stupid espresso machine, much less froth milk.”
“I’m the barista in this friendship,” Taryn tells Casey. She’s right, too, because ten minutes later they’re drinking three flawless lattes.
They’ve got stuff scattered across the entire living room. There are articles open on the coffee table, notecards lined along the front of the couch from end-to-end, and empty mugs balanced precariously on textbooks stacked on the rug.
Levi is reading a case study from some random textbook when Taryn suddenly groans.
“Ughhhh. Can we please move on from general? I’m up to my eyeballs in general. I need more cardio. I know nothing about cardio, and I hardly ever get on Pierce’s service.”
The last sentence is slightly directed toward Casey. He just smiles.
“I’m Pierce’s favorite,” he shrugs.
“Well we’re nobody’s favorites, so we need to mooch off of your experiences,” Levi says.
“I know some stuff about cardio, but I can’t just throw it out there in a useful way. Does your ‘library’ have any books on cardiovascular surgery? We could go through some cases, and I might have some insight.”
“Yeah there’s got to be at least one in there,” Levi says, but he doesn’t sound sure.
“You don’t even know what all is in there, do you?”
“Only like three of the books are mine,” Levi laughs.
“Wait, then whose are they?”
The front door opens.
“Speak of the devil,” Taryn says.
“You’ve got a lot of nerve calling me the devil when I let you sleep in our guest room and eat our food,” a voice calls from the entryway. Footsteps come closer to the living room, and a man enters.
Casey looks him up and down. He’s built, and he’s handsome. He has on well-worn jeans and a zip-up from the Mariner’s team gear.
“Babe,” it’s directed toward Levi. “I’m gone for five days, and you manage to convert the living room into the library?”
“In my defense, we did this in a matter of hours, and you weren’t supposed to be home unit tomorrow morning.” Levi stands, and he’s grinning.
“Some of the team were coming back tonight, and I grabbed an extra seat.”
“You missed me,” Levi’s grin gets even wider.
“So what if I did?” the new guy raises an eyebrow. “We’re married, Levi. I can miss you if I want.”
Casey feels his eyes widen. He looks at this stranger. He takes in his general physique, his wedding ring, and his Mariner’s jacket.
“Wait you’re married to a Seattle Mariner? You could’ve mentioned that when we were talking about baseball!”
Levi, his husband, and Taryn all laugh.
“It’s a flattering misconception, but I’m just the team physician. I don’t play. I did play in – ”
“Please don’t bore my new friend with tales of your glory days as a high school short stop.”
“I’m Nico, by the way,” he holds out a hand. Casey shakes it and introduces himself. “I’m assuming Levi’s told you nothing about me. I’m his dirty little secret.”
He says it with a smile, like he’s amused by the whole cover-up rather than annoyed by it.
“You’re not a dirty little secret!” Levi says it in a way that makes it obvious this is a recurring conversation. “I just like having our relationship be ours. You have no idea what kind of relationship drama goes on at Grey-Sloan. Even Dr. Bailey can’t escape it, and her husband doesn’t even work there anymore. Everyone is in everyone’s business all the time. I like keeping our marriage away from all of that.”
“That is exactly what a dirty little secret keeper would say.”
“I think it’s nice,” Casey offers, and it’s sincere. “Levi’s right. Grey-Sloan is kind of a toxic cesspool where happy relationships go to die. You’re safer on the outside.”
Nico laughs, and he picks up a duffle bag from where he dropped it on the floor.
“I guess I should be thankful then,” he says. He turns to Levi, “Come help me put up my stuff?”
“You’re an idiot,” Levi says, but he follows Nico back to what Casey presumes is their bedroom anyway.
Casey looks at Taryn. She’s still sitting on the couch, and she’s picked up a couple of discarded notecards from the floor.
“So that’s Levi’s husband?”
“Believe me, it was a shock to me too. I wish I could say he’s not as perfect as he is on first impression, but he kind of is. I mean Levi finds all sorts of things to complain about, but I think that’s kind of their thing.”
Casey thinks about this new side of Levi he’s seen tonight. He’s far from the babbling, fumbling Levi who shows up to Grey-Sloan every day. This Levi throws out endless streams of information without stumbling while they study, he argues with Taryn when she disagrees with his diagnosis, and he makes jokes with his husband.
“It definitely explains the house,” Casey chooses to say. He already knows Taryn sees the difference in Levi too. “We’re years away from this kind of place.”
“Don’t remind me,” Taryn groans. “And that’s only if we manage to pass this stupid intern exam.”
“I heard someone in Dr. Grey’s year had to repeat his internship, so at least there’s a chance of that if we fail.”
“We’re not going to fail!” Levi chimes in. He’s walking back into the living room, and Casey would never comment on his obvious change in appearance. Levi’s hair is a little ruffled, and his cheeks are only just dulling from a bright red flush. More incriminating than that is the way Nico walking behind him, practically hanging off of his back.
Casey would never comment, but apparently Taryn would.
“Wow, can you guys maybe not wait until we’ve left to celebrate your reunification?”
“This is my house, Helm,” Nico says. He’s released Levi and is walking toward the front door. “Judging by the lack of pizza boxes, I’m guessing you guys haven’t eaten dinner.”
“We’ve been in a studying time warp,” Levi says.
“I’ll go grab take out,” Nico is already shrugging into a jacket by the door. “Casey, do you like Thai?”
Casey is surprised by the direct interest in his opinion, “I love Thai.”
“Sweet. I’ll be back in thirty,” and he’s out the door.
“Ugh,” Levi groans as he flops down into an armchair. “He’s kind of annoyingly great, right?”
“Oh definitely,” Taryn says.
Casey nods in agreement.
- The Karevs
Jo Karev is wearing a nice dress. She’s wearing a nice dress, and she’s sitting across from her husband. Her husband is wearing a nice suit, and they’re in a nice restaurant. It’s Valentines Day, and they’re not exactly Valentines Day people. They’ve made an exception because Valentines Day weekend happens to be the only mutual weekend off they have for the month of February.
So here they are. They’re in a fancy restaurant, they’re wearing fancy clothes, and they’re drinking fancy wine. It’s nice, albeit a bit unnatural.
“This so isn’t our thing,” Alex says. He’s pulling a little self-consciously on his tie.
“Maybe not,” Jo agrees. “But the booze is good, and the wine is good. We’re grownups, and we’re married. This is what married grownups do on Valentines Day. They pay too much for dinner and wear the clothes from the back of their closet.”
Alex takes a big sip from his wine glass, “The booze is pretty good.”
Jo smiles at him. Alex is so confident at the hospital. He runs the peds floor and commands the OR. It’s weirdly pleasant to see him out of his element.
“You know this is the first Valentine’s date we’ve ever been on.”
“That can’t be right,” Alex says. He reaches into the bread basket between them and grabs a piece for his plate. “We’ve been together for like five years or whatever. There’s no way we’ve gone this long without spending at least one together.”
“Out of the two of us, I think I’m the one who’s more likely to know whether or not that’s actually the case. This is the first one, I’m sure.”
“Does that bother you?” Alex asks. He keeps his expression cool, but Jo can tell he’s bothered that she might be bothered.
“Definitely not,” Jo says. “Besides, the bill for this dinner is probably going to be equal to the sum of the other five Valentines Day dinners we could’ve had.”
Alex realizes he hasn’t even looked over the menu yet. He supposes he’s lucky he has a wife he can actually get lost in conversation with.
His eyes flit over the entrée list, and he grimaces, “Damn. We might have to eat hospital cafeteria food for the rest of the month to make up for this.”
Their eyes meet, and they laugh. The persistent financial worry is something they have in common. It seems ridiculous, considering they’re both surgeons. Even if Jo is still on a smaller fellowship salary, Alex is the head of an entire surgical department. There’s no need to carry on about it like they’re prone to do. Nonetheless, they both truly came from nothing. Financial security is a foreign concept, so the jokes come naturally.
Their waiter comes back to refill their wine glasses and take their orders. When they’re finished ordering, Jo’s eyes follow the waiter as he walks back to the kitchen. She’s just about to turn her eyes back to Alex, who’s starting telling her about one of his patients, when she spots him.
“Holy crap,” she says.
“I know, right? I mean this tumor is like the size of a softball and –”
“No not that,” Jo cuts him off. “Schmitt is here!”
Jo rolls her eyes, “Glasses. The surgical intern?”
“Oh, yeah, Good Ole Blood Bank. Is he here on a date?” Alex makes to turn his head and look.
“Don’t look! I don’t think he’s seen us, and you’ll draw too much attention.”
“Yeah good call. We don’t want him coming over here.”
“Oh come on,” Jo says. “He’s a nice guy, he’s just a little frazzled at work.”
“Oh, he’s totally nice,” Alex agrees. “I just mean that he’s the type of guy that would come over here to say hi and then find some way to accidentally knock over our table or spill wine on your dress.
Jo opens her mouth to argue, but decides Alex is probably right.
Jo cuts her eyes back to Levi’s table. He’s sitting there, and he’s wearing a navy suit. If Jo weren’t distracted by the fact that he was sitting alone in a fancy restaurant on Valentines Day, she would take a second to think about how Schmitt really cleaned up well. She probably would’ve noticed him earlier if he had been wearing his glasses, but he’s either chosen contacts or to go without his eyesight for the night. He seems generally at ease other than the way he glances at his phone every few seconds.
“Aw, man,” she groans.
“What? Did he see us?”
“No, but he’s wearing a suit. There’s a bottle of wine and two glasses, but he’s the only one at the table. He’s checked his phone like five times in twenty seconds.”
“Aw, man,” Alex agrees.
Their waiter returns and sets down two salads.
“Leave it to Schmitt to ruin our first Valentines Day dinner,” Alex shrugs and starts eating.
“Yeah watching him get stood up is going to be a total bummer. Especially if he notices we’re here.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it now. Maybe he’ll leave soon if whoever he’s waiting on doesn’t show.”
“He’s going to have to walk right by our table to get to the front door. There’s no way he’s not going to see us. This is your fault, you know?”
“How is Schmitt getting stood up my fault?” Alex asked.
“Not that. He’s going to see us eventually because we’re sitting next to the door. We’re sitting next to the door because somebodywaited until the last minute to make these reservations.”
“Oh, come on, that is not a thing.”
“It’s a thing! It’s a fancy restaurant thing. It makes this Schmitt situation even more tragic. He’s seated in the more private area toward the back. He must’ve made this reservation months ago.”
“Damn. That is pretty sad.”
“Makes me feel kind of bad about all of the times we’ve ragged on him at work,” Jo says.
“Giving interns shit is practically part of the job description, he’s only like two months away from residency. Things get easier from there.”
“I just feel bad for him. He’s a sad, lonely intern. I was a sad, lonely intern once!”
“So was I,” Alex shoves the last bit of salad in his mouth. They don’t usually come to places like this. “Look at us now. We’re married, happy attendings now.”
“I’m not an attending,” Jo says.
“You’re close enough,” Alex counters. His gaze falls over her shoulder, towards the entry to the restaurant.
“Ooo,” Jo says. “Did someone come in alone? Do you think it’s Schmitt’s date?”
“Nah,” Alex said. “This guy’s alone, but he seems a little too straight jockfor Schmitt. Besides, we don’t even know if Schmitt’s gay.”
“He’s gay,” Jo says with certainty. “I’ve heard him and Helm talk about it.”
“He’s scanning the room.”
Their waited comes and switches out their salad plates for their entrees.
“Wait is that him? He’s headed straight toward Schmitt.”
Alex risked a glance over his shoulder, and saw it was in fact the same guy.
“Oh that’s him.”
“Damn. What app is Schmitt using?”
“Why do you need to know?”
“I mean I’m not going to use it, but I’m definitely going to recommend it to every single person I know if it sets you up with guys that look like that.”
Jo surveys the guy from top to bottom. He’s got the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing going. She can tell by just watching his back as he walks.
“How was his face?”
“I don’t know,” Alex says. He’s chewing his food, and looking at her like she’s asked a ridiculous question. “It was a face. Strong jaw. Asian.”
Jo looks back over at Schmitt. He’s grinning now, and his phone lies on the table forgotten. His date bypasses heads toward their table but bypasses his chair in favor of bending down and giving Schmitt a kiss that is just short of inappropriate for a public setting.
So maybe he’s not a date from an app, maybe he’s a boyfriend.
“They totally just made out,” Jo whispers urgently.
“Will you stop watching them? You’re being creepy. Eat your expensive dinner, and stop staring down our intern.”
“We are so going over there and saying something before we leave,” Jo says, even as she follows Alex’s directive and begins eating. “There is no way we’re passing this moment up.”
“Fine. We’ll go over and say hey, but you have to promise to stop talking about it until we’re done. I was in the middle of a pretty interesting tumor story before we got wrapped up in Schmitt’s love life.”
“The last time I was this invested in Schmitt’s love life, I was trying to pick him up at Joe’s while he was a sub-intern,” Jo mumbles without thinking.
“Don’t be so offended. He turned me down. He’s gay.”
They manage their way through their dinner and dessert without bringing up Schmitt and his mystery date again; however, the second their server clears the plates and the check is settled, Jo is back in the game.
“So we’ll just go over there and do the whole fancy-seeing-you-here thing. Introduce ourselves, meet the guy, and then leave with some hot Grey-Sloan gossip for the attendings’ lounge on Monday.”
“Are you sure you want to interrupt them?” Alex is slipping on his suit jacket, and he glances over to where Schmitt and his guy are conversing steadily over a split salad. “We might ruin the mood.”
“I’m too invested to back out now,” Jo says. She grabs her purse and takes the lead in walking over to the other table.
Schmitt looks over right as they’re closing in, and he looks a little shocked before his features school into a friendly smile.
“Schmitt! I never would’ve thought of running into you here – and on Valentines Day!” Alex thinks Jo’s enthusiasm is bordering on creepy, but he stands by and watches anyway. “But here you are! You and your…”
It’s a leading statement, and a thinly veiled attempt to not seem nearly as nosy as she’s feeling.
“Husband,” Levi supplies.
Jo feels her jaw drop, and she turns to her own husband to make sure he’s as surprised as she is. Alex is hiding it better, but his eyebrows are nearing his hairline.
Levi continues as if they aren’t openly gaping at him. “Nico, this is Alex and Jo Karev. Jo is a surgical fellow, and Alex is head of pediatric surgery at the hospital.”
“We should probably confess we’ve been spying on you since we saw you sitting alone. We were pretty close to inviting you to join us when your husbandshowed up,” Jo says.
Levi turns to his husband, “See? Your tardiness did make me look like a sad, lonely loser.”
“I’m sorry,” Levi’s husband says in a way that makes it obvious that he’s apologized numerous times already. He turns his attention back to Jo and Alex. “Just so I don’t come off as a total ass, I wasn’t that late. I got hung up at work, and got here five minutes after our reservation. It only looked worse because Levi has to be ten minutes early to everything.”
It’s the kind of criticism that would send Levi into a verbal spiral at work, but to Jo’s surprise Levi just laughs.
“Make fun of my compulsion all you want, but remember it’s the entire reason we even met.”
Nico grins. “Its true,” he tells Alex and Jo. “Every time I got out of organic chem, Levi was sitting outside the door waiting for the room to clear even though his class didn’t start for another fifteen minutes. Although, I still like my theory that you saw me come out of class the first day and then came early everyday afterwards to ensure you could catch a glimpse.”
“You are so arrogant,” Levi says. It’s affectionate though, and Jo notes that he didn’t deny the theory.
There’s a beat where Levi and Nico are just grinning at each other. Jo takes a second and surveys the scene. Nico is really attractive, and Jo would know. She works around a disproportionate amount of attractive people every day. He seems confident too, but there’s a warmth to him. He’s obviously friendly, and he’s wearing what appears to be a really soft sweater. It’s maybe a little casual for the restaurant, but it’s paired with an obviously expensive watch – so there are signs that he does belong. Even beyond the friendliness and good looks, he seems sweet. He’s grinning at his husband, telling the story of how they met, and completely unbothered by their date being crashed by two of Levi’s bosses.
“Anyways,” Alex says, “We just wanted to come by and say hi. I’m sure we’ll see you soon, Schmitt.”
“And it was really nice to meet you, Nico,” Jo says.
“Likewise. I love meeting Levi’s coworkers,” Nico says.
There’s something to be unpacked there if the look between Nico and Levi is to be believed, but they’ve taken up enough of their time.
“Enjoy your dinner,” Alex says and he gives Jo a little nudge to start leading her toward the front of the restaurant.
“So Schmitt is married,” Jo muses as they walk toward their car.
“He was different in there, right? Like less Glasses?” Alex asks.
“He was! If he was that chill at work, everyone would be less eager to rile him up. He seemed kind of fun.”
The next morning, Alex is waiting on two lattes at Jo’s favorite coffee shop. It’s within walking distance from their apartment, and yesterday was Valentines Day, and he’s feeling a little sappy. Sue him.
“Hey,” he hears from behind him. Alex turns around. It’s Schmitt’s husband. “It’s Alex, right? Or are you Jo? It was a little unclear.”
It’s very early, barely 6 am, so Alex hasn’t had time to be put in a bad mood yet. He finds himself willing to be friendly.
“I’m Alex, but I understand the confusion.”
Nico smiles, “You come here often? I drop by at the end of my run pretty much every day. Levi got me this crazy elaborate espresso machine for Christmas last year, and we’re both too proud to admit we can’t work it. So, we both just act like we love the coffee from here and can’t imagine giving it up.”
“It’s Jo’s favorite,” Alex says. “We pretty much only come by if we have the day off. Crazy schedules and all that.”
“Yeah I remember those days,” Nico laughs. “I was an orthopedic surgeon in California before we moved up here for Levi’s internship.” The barista calls his name, and he ducks around Alex to grab two to-go cups.
Alex figures that will be the end of their conversation, but he’s proven wrong when Nico doubles back to wait with him for his own order.
“Should’ve known you were an ortho guy,” Alex says good-naturedly. “All of the ortho guys are runners.”
“Bone health isn’t all about drinking your milk,” Nico says. “Wouldn’t have pegged you for peds, though.”
“Peds is hardcore.”
“All surgery is hardcore, really. I liked it, but I’m just not built for a life with practically no downtime. I switched over to sports medicine when we moved. Best decision I ever made. The money, the hours, a chance to actually see my husband more than once a week…”
“Yeah I jumped ship to private practice for a while. The perks were pretty great.”
The barista calls Alex’s name, and he grabs his drinks. He and Nico start toward the door.
“Are you at Seattle Sports Med? We refer a lot of our non-surgical cases over there.”
“Nah,” Nico says. “I interviewed there – really nice guys. But, I’m actually the team doctor for the Mariners.”
“No shit. Let me know if you and your wife ever want to catch a game. I can swing some tickets, maybe even a suite.”
They’ve made it to the street corner and realize they’re going separate ways.
“I can’t believe Schmitt has never mentioned you before. Most interns are pushing every medical connection they have in the city to impress the attendings.”
“I know, right?” Nico pauses, and then continues. “Levi is usually an open book. He wears his heart on his sleeve, ya know? He always wants to talk about feelings and why they’re happening and why they matter. So, it’s been kind of a surprise to find out that literally no one he works with even knows I exist.”
“As someone who has had to share the ups and downs of every relationship he’s ever had with the entire Grey-Sloan surgical department, I can say I see the appeal of keeping your relationship far away from the hospital.”
Nico nods to himself and looks appreciative.
“Sorry for the over share, man. I better head home before Levi comes looking for me. I’m five minutes late, and he immediately assumes I’ve been attacked by a wild bear.”
Alex thinks over their talk while he walks back to his studio, and he’s still thinking about it when he hands Jo her coffee.
“You look pensive,” Jo observes.
“Yeah,” he says. “Maybe we should keep the whole Schmitt-is-married thing to ourselves.”
“I’m sure he has his reasons for not talking about it,” Alex says and leaves it at that.
- Cameron Brennan (The Intern)
Schmitt looks up from where he had been conversing with Taryn and Parker. It’s Brennan. It’s always Brennan.
“Casey, remind me. Did we bother our residents with stupid questions during lunch? Did we try and disturb the one time per day where they actually had some peace and quiet?” Taryn has been the surprising frontrunner for their class’ Nazi. Levi pretends not to know that it’s because Meredith Grey was rumored to be the Nazi of her class.
Levi, on the other hand, has a particularly hard time being outwardly disproving of his interns. He finds himself holding his tongue more often than not, and his interns are actually pretty tolerable. Maybe there’s something to be said for being encouraging rather than diminishing.
Anyways, Levi knows why Taryn has chosen to tease Brennan at this particular moment. Out of all of his interns, Brennan is definitely in need of the most validation. He approaches Levi with at least a dozen questions a day, several of which could be addressed by his attending or his fellow interns. Levi can’t place the blame entirely on Brennan, though. He’s the one that tried to create a collaborative environment with his interns. He basically encouraged them to come to him with any of their problems. He’s spent a disproportionately large amount of time dishing out personal advice as well as medical advice. He knows his fellow residents see him as weak, but he’s gotten a lot of positive feedback about his interns.
Levi throws a warning gaze at Taryn, and turns to Brennan.
“What’s up, Brennan?”
“I was just wondering if I could go ahead and discharge Mr. Patterson? He was the gallbladder guy from two days ago.”
“Did Dr. Grey sign his discharge papers?”
“Yes,” Brennan says. Levi notices how he’s getting a little red in the cheeks.
Brennan makes to move to leave.
“Is there something else?” Levi asks.
“You’re not wearing your glasses,” Brennan says. He says it quickly, like he had been holding in saying something about it all morning.
“Sometimes I wear contacts,” Levi replies. “If we’ve covered everything about your patients, whey don’t you go discharge Mr. Patterson. We can talk over any other questions you have after lunch.”
Brennan finally takes the hint and leaves.
“Oh, Dr. Schmitt, I’ve never noticed what big, beautiful eyes you have,”Casey says mockingly. He’s grasping his chest with one hand and grabbing Levi’s arm with the other.
“Cut it out,” Levi says. He feels his own cheeks heating up.
“You’ve seriously got to put that kid out of his misery,” Taryn says.
“He’s not a kid, and he does not have a thing for me! You guys have been after this for weeks! How about you put me out of my misery and stop talking about it?”
“That’s the third time he’s interrupted us during lunch this week,” Casey says. “I think we all know that he comes in here hoping that you’re sitting here all alone, and he can casually join you.”
“There’s now way you haven’t noticed how he looks at you. And that comment about your glasses? He’s got hot for teacher written all over him,” Taryn laughs.
Levi aggressively stabs a piece of lettuce with his plastic fork and avoids eye contact with his friends. It’s not that he hasn’t noticed how Brennan tails him like a little confused duckling. He just would rather actively avoid addressing it until Brennan finally takes the hint and realizes it’s never going to happen.
“Look,” Levi finally says. “I’ve been the one with a stupid unobtainable crush before. He probably thinks he’s being subtle, and he probably thinks I haven’t even noticed. If we just proceed as normal, he’ll eventually see I’m not interested. There’s no need for me to embarrass him by turning him down.”
“You know this would all be easier if you would just tell everyone that you’ve already got a trophy husband.”
Levi glares at Taryn.
“Nico is not a trophy husband. He makes more money than I do.”
“But did he also make you that salad?” Casey asks.
“That’s unfair,” Levi says, but doesn’t deny it. “Sure, Nico does most of the cooking… and the cleaning… and he sometimes packs my lunch... and oh my God I’ve turned him into a trophy husband.”
He immediately gets out his phone and sends a text.
Levi: Have I turned you into my trophy husband?? If yes, plz know it was unintentional
“You have,” Taryn agrees solemnly. “But that’s all the more reason to turn down the slutty intern.”
“He’s not slutty!” Levi defends – maybe a little too loudly judging by the amount of people looing curiously at their table.
“The slutty intern is wasted on you, Levi,” Taryn bemoans. “Set him free. Let the single residents have a shot.”
“You’re a lesbian. You don’t want to date the slutty intern either!”
“So you admit he’s kind of slutty?”
Levi’s phone vibrates before he has a chance to retort.
Nico: Maybe it was unintentional on your part ;)
The thing is, Levi has only ever dated one person. He and Nico had their first date when Levi was still in undergrad, and they’ve been together ever since. Beforehand, Levi had never even been on a date. He wasn’t exactly popular in high school, and he didn’t even have his big gay revelation until his freshman year of college. The bottom line is that he hadn’t spent a lot of time flirting or being flirted with. Accordingly, it probably took him longer than it should have to realize Brennan’s requests for one-on-one time in the skill lab and one-on-one time in the research library were a little less than innocent.
Levi has a demanding job, a schedule that keeps him relatively sleep-deprived, and a husband who wants to plan a trip to Thailand during the Mariner’s off-season. He doesn’t have a lot of extra brain space to devote to worrying whether his intern is trying to make a move.
Levi’s walking down the hallway and scrolling through a patient’s chart. He’s reasonably distracted, so he’s a little shocked to be yanked into an on-call room.
He’s even more shocked when the person who yanked him in turns out to be Brennan.
“Brennan!” Levi exclaims. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I can’t take it anymore,” Brennan says. “I’ve been giving you every indication that I’m interested, and we’re still just talking around each other and avoiding the inevitable.”
“The inevitable?” Levi questions. He knows where this is going, and here goes his plan of avoidance at all costs.
“This,”Brennan says, and he gestures between himself and Levi. He also gestures toward the bottom bunk of an on-call bed, but Levi doesn’t really want to acknowledge that. “I can’t keep going on like this. We need to talk about us, or I’m going to go insane.”
Levi thinks privately that Brennan has already gone insane.
“There is no us, Brennan.”
“Well not yet,” Brennan says, and he smiles.
He’s got a good smile. Levi is willing to admit that. In fact, Brennan is a good-looking guy. He’s got the whole muscular, blonde, golden-boy thing going for him. He’s exactly the kind of guy Levi never would’ve imagined having a chance with in his pre-Nico days. It’s a little flattering he’s piqued Brennan’s interest, but the inappropriateness of it all counteracts that.
In all of his musing, Levi has forgotten to contribute to the conversation. Brennan takes this as an opportunity to continue his monologue.
“I know you’re probably talking yourself out of this because you’re a good guy and a good resident, but I’m not some sad student who’s going to turn around and accuse you of taking advantage of me. I’m not a kid, and I’m only two years younger than you. I’m old enough to know what I want.”
He’s moving progressively closer to Levi as he speaks. Levi realizes he’s close to being pressed against the door, so he makes a sudden movement under Brennan’s arm to move further into the room and create some distance.
He’s hoping the gesture gives Brennan some idea of his lack of interest, but he’s proven wrong again.
“You don’t have to worry about making me uncomfortable,” Brennan laughs.
“You’re making me uncomfortable, Dr. Brennan!” Levi finally blurts.
Brennan’s whole face drops, and Levi realizes directness is the only way to get out of this.
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry if I unintentionally gave you some idea that I was interested in all of this,” Levi makes his own awkward gesture between the two of them. “But that’s not the case.”
“I know it’s not exactly kosher, but I mean this is Grey-Sloan. I hardly think we’d be the most controversial –”
“It’s not just about me being your boss,” Levi interjects. “I’m married.”
There. He said it. To an intern. Who’s definitely going to turn around and tell the whole hospital. Great.
“You’re married?” Brennan says. Levi tries not to be offended by how shocked he sounds. “You’re lying. You don’t wear a wedding ring!”
“I’m a surgeon,” Levi says. “Lots of surgeons don’t wear wedding rings – most don’t, even!”
I’m also actively keeping my marriage a secret from the majority of my coworkers, but the point still stands.
“Okay,” Brennan nods. “Okay. So you have some wife at home. I don’t care! I’ve noticed how you look at me, and it doesn’t matter to me that you’re married!”
“I have a husband at home,” Levi corrects. “I know this is Grey-Sloan. I know that the culture here is to have affairs, and get divorced, and do inappropriate things with interns in on-call rooms. I can understand how you got the idea that this was okay here.”
Brennan is looking a little embarrassed now, and Levi feels sorry for him. He needs to set the record straight and stop this before it goes too far, but that doesn’t mean it feels good to shoot someone down to his face.
Levi continues, “It’s not okay with me though. I’m happilymarried. I love my husband, and we’re going to be together forever if I have any say in it. I’m decidedly unavailable for romps in on-call rooms with interns.”
Brennan collapses down on to the bed behind him and places his head in his hands.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbles. “I’m so humiliated right now.”
It’s been pretty well established that Levi is a nice guy, so he drops onto the bed next to Brennan. He also makes sure to sit at least a foot away.
“Believe me when I say I’ve done plenty of things in this hospital that are way more humiliating than this,” Levi says sincerely. “No one has to know this happened. It’ll just be between us.”
“Come on,” Brennan sighs. “You’re totally going to find Dr. Helm and Dr. Parker and laugh about this later.”
“I won’t,” Levi promises. “Before I met my husband, I thought I was totally undateable. It’s all about waiting for the right guy at the right time.”
“Ugh,” Brennan groans. “You’re so nice. I just threw myself at you against your will, and now you’re giving me relationship advice instead of reporting me to the chief.”
“Would it help if I were mean to you? I can do the whole no-nonsense resident thing. It’s just not how I prefer to operate.”
“No,” Brennan laughs. “It’s just a crush. I’ll get over it.”
“You’re a good doctor,” Levi offers. “I’m nice to my interns because I like you guys. That being said let me know if it’s too much – being my intern or whatever. I can switch you to someone else’s service. No questions asked.”
“I think I can handle it.”
Levi and Nico are on a jog in the park on a Saturday afternoon. Well, it was supposed to be a jog, but Levi has managed to turn it into more of a casual stroll. If he’s lucky, he’ll turn it into lunch on a bench with hot dogs from his favorite food truck.
“So I was thinking –” Levi starts.
“How about we just skip the part where you try to casually bring up getting lunch from the hotdog truck and go straight you offering to find a bench and me offering to go get two chili dogs.”
Nico is grinning, and he’s already walking backwards in the direction of said truck.
“I hate you,” Levi laughs. “How can you even know that was what I was going to say?”
“Sorry,” Nico calls as he continues backing further and further away. “Did you want to suggest something else?”
“Don’t be so smug,” Levi calls after him. “And don’t forget the extra napkins. You eat like a kindergartener.”
He turns to find a bench, but hears Nico laughing as he walks away.
He spots an unoccupied bench a few yards away, and begins speed walking over to it. Open benches are a hot commodity on sunny days like this. He’s got his eyes on the prize, so it’s annoying but not unexpected when he collides with guy walking the opposite way.
“Sorry!” Levi exclaims, spinning around to survey his victim. He’s about to make his bench-related excuses when he realizes he hasn’t just run into some stranger. He’s run into Brennan.
Oh my God. He’s stalking me.
It’s a brief thought though because Brennan looks genuinely surprised to see him.
“Dr. Schmitt,” Brennan greets.
Levi stops short of telling him to call him Levi outside of the hospital. He would hate to create any false familiarity where Brennan is concerned.
“Enjoying your day off?” Levi asks.
“I am actually,” Brennan says. “Time outside is few and far between these days, so I thought I’d come out here and soak it up while I can.”
“Great minds,” Levi says. He’s trying very hard to act normally. It’s been two weeks since the on-call room incident, and things with Brennan have generally settled down. There have been awkward moments here and there, mostly when Levi tries to congratulate him for something he’s done well. Still, things are mostly normal.
“Got the hotdogs, and I remembered the extra napkins!”
It’s Nico, and he’s striding toward them holding said hotdogs and napkins. He stops to stand next to Levi and looks between Levi and Brennan expectantly.
“This is Cameron Brennan. He’s one of my interns,” Levi says.
“Awesome,” Nico says. His grin is still in place. “I’d shake hands, but they’re a little full. I’m –”
“You must be Dr. Schmitt’s husband,” Brennan interrupts. Levi waits for Brennan to do something awkward like apologize or rush off, but he doesn’t. “Its nice to meet you. Dr. Schmitt speaks very highly of you.”
“He does?” Nico asks.
“Does that surprise you?” Levi asks.
“It surprises me that you’ve mentioned me at all. I’ve always been under the impression that Levi doesn’t talk about me at work. I’m his – ”
“I swear to God if you say ‘dirty little secret’ we’re getting a divorce.”
“It was nice meeting you, Cameron,” Nico says. “Babe, I saw an open bench over by the fountain while I was walking over. I’ll go grab it. Take your time.”
Once Nico’s a sufficient ways away, Brennan speaks again.
“So that’s your husband?”
“That’s my husband.”
Brennan nods, “I guess I can see why you turned me down.”
- Meredith Grey
Meredith Grey is a surgeon. More than that, she’s a surgical attending at one of the leading research and teaching hospitals in the world. She even owns said hospital, and has earned the most prestigious surgical award in the country.
The point is Meredith Grey is not opposed to hard work. She’s welcoming to difficult situations. She’s been known to seek out difficult situations on purpose.
She’s just not very enthusiastic about this difficult situation in particular.
“Bailey,” she says for probably the fifth time. “All you have to do is pick one pair of shoes. One pair. That’s it.”
“But I like my old shoes,” Bailey repeats for probably the fifth time. He repeats it with more patience than Meredith has left. He’s seemingly unfazed by the half hour they’ve spent negotiating a new pair of tennis shoes.
“I like your old shoes too,” Meredith says. “Your old shoes were great. They also have holes in them. They have holes in them, and they’re dirty. We need to get new shoes so your school doesn’t think that Mommy doesn’t notice that you need new shoes.”
“There are no blue shoes, and my shoes have to be blue,” Bailey says very seriously.
Right. Bailey has been all about blue ever since Meredith casually mentioned it had been Derek’s favorite color.
“Blue is a great color,” Meredith agrees. She’s staring at the stack of boxes for the shoes Bailey has already tried on, trying to think of some way to get out of here before dinner. One box grabs her attention, and she has an idea.
“How about we buy these ones?” She holds up a pair of white canvas sneakers.
“Mom,” Bailey groans. “Those ones are the most boring ones!”
“Well they’re boring now,” Meredith concedes. “But what if we take them home and paint them however you want?”
“Really?” Bailey whispers.
After that promise, getting the shoes is easy. Meredith pays and lets Bailey carry the bag after he insists that he can handle it. Meredith looks a few feet away to where Zola and Ellis had been walking around the girl’s shoes. She spots Zola immediately, but doesn’t see Ellis.
“Zola!” Meredith calls. “Where’s Ellis? Weren’t you watching her?”
Zola seems just as confused as Meredith.
“She was right here!” Zola’s tone is already on the defensive, and Meredith knows it isn’t worth the argument right now.
“Well when was the last time you saw her? Where was she then?”
“I was just talking to her! She was looking at those glittery shoes!” Zola gestures to a pair of shoes less than a foot away. Ellis is nowhere to be found.
Meredith holds in the anger she’s feeling. Now is not the time to blow up at Zola for what was obviously an accident.
They’re in a relatively small sporting goods store downtown. It had been one of Derek’s favorite places to get fly fishing equipment, so Meredith is a little familiar with the guy who mans the register. Surely he wouldn’t let some stranger walk out with Ellis.
“Okay,” Meredith says. “Stay with me. We’ll look around. I’m sure she’s not gotten far.”
She keeps her voice calm as to not upset Zola and Bailey. They start making a route through the store, and Meredith makes sure to scan each section with her eyes. There are only a couple of other people in the shop, but Ellis is small enough to be pretty much anywhere.
They’re rounding the corner to the menswear section when Meredith spots a tall man holding up two folded t-shirts. It’s not a suspicious sight in and of itself, but it is a little weird that he seems to be talking to the ground. He’s also grinning a lot for a guy perusing some t-shirts alone.
Meredith cuts through the section quickly. Zola and Bailey follow behind.
“So what do you think?” the man is saying. “I like the blue, but I know someone else who prefers green.”
Meredith follows his line of sight, and she’s instantly relieved. There’s Ellis sitting on the floor, and she’s holding the missing glittery shoe.
“Ellis!” Meredith exclaims in relief.
Ellis looks up to Meredith with a sweet little smile.
“Oh thank goodness,” the guy holding the shirts says. “I was getting worried she’d been left her on accident.”
“I’m frazzled but not that frazzled,” Meredith replies.
“I figured it was better to try to keep her in one spot than go looking for you,” the man says. He’s dropped the shirts back on the table and holds out a hand. “I’m Nico, and she’s adorable by the way.”
Meredith shakes his hand. Now that she knows Ellis is safe, she notices t-shirt guy is also pretty cute. She notes that Ellis always seems to find the cute ones - here, the grocery store, the park.
“I’m Meredith,” she says. “You already met Ellis. These are my other two, Bailey and Zola.”
“Good to meet you,” Nico says. Meredith watches as a look of realization comes over his face.
“Wait,” he says knowingly. “You’re Meredith Grey, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry,” Meredith says. “Do we know each other?”
“No no no,” Nico smiles. “But you know my husband. Levi Schmitt?”
Meredith tries not to look as surprised as she feels. She scans Nico up and down and notices the wedding ring this time. Good job, Schmitt.
Nico is still talking, “Sorry. I don’t mean to seem creepy. It’s just like how many women are there who are named Meredith and have a daughter named Zola?”
“I’d imagine not many,” Meredith says. “I didn’t realize Levi was married. I’m glad Ellis managed to organize this meeting.”
“Me too,” Nico says, and he seems like he means it. “I’m actually here to get Levi some shirts to wear under his scrubs. He’s always freezing.”
“I heard you trying to get Ellis’s opinion,” Meredith admits.
“Maybe you could help me instead?” Nico asks.“ Levi would be over the moon to know his shirt had Meredith Grey’s seal of approval. He speaks very highly of you. He would leave me for you.”
“He might like me but not enough to pull him over to general.”
“I thought he was going to go with trauma, but it looks like it’s going to be peds.”
Meredith laughs unexpectedly, and Nico waits for her to explain.
“Did Levi ever tell you about his trauma certification?” Meredith almost starts laughing again thinking of the complete chaos DeLuca described to her. If she’s not mistaken, it involved Schmitt bursting into tears three separate times.
“Oh he did,” Nico laughs. “Yeah that probably should’ve tipped me off that trauma was not for him.”
“To be fair, I think that wasn’t so much a test of his trauma skills as it was a test in mental fortitude when faced with true insanity.”
“They’re kind of one in the same though, aren’t they?” Nico asks. “I tried to steer him into ortho, but he’s not big on all of the sawing and breaking.”
“Why ortho?” It’s really the last place she would put Schmitt.
“I was an orthopedic surgeon before I got into sports medicine. I guess I should fess up and say the surgeon in me is a little thrilled to be talking to the Meredith Grey.”
“I’m flattered,” Meredith smiles. She feels Bailey tug on her pant leg and remembers they’re supposed to be picking up dinner for the rest of the house. “I’ve got to run and get dinner for the kids.”
Nico glances at his watch and his eyebrows lift. “Wow! I have been staring at these shirts for much longer than I realized. Enjoy your night!”
Meredith gathers up Ellis and turns to leave. Before they’re too far away, she turns back and says, “Go with the green. It reminds me of Schmitt.”
Nico looks up from where he was still staring at the two shirts, “You’re so right.”
Meredith smiles and heads toward the register.
She’s usually right.
+1 Atticus Lincoln
Ellie Hughes is blushing. She knows she’s blushing, and she can feel it getting worse as she takes case history from the patient in Bed Two.
She’s finds herself blushing at work more often than she’d like. It’s bad enough that pretty much three out of four of her coworkers are attractive enough to be movie stars. Is it too much to ask that the patients not be overtly attractive too?
The patient is sitting up in his bed in the pit, and he’s relatively calm for someone who, by the looks of it, has most definitely broken his arm.
“I’m Dr. Hughes, and I’ll be checking out your arm today. How’d you hurt it?”
The patient, Ellie curses herself for not getting his name off his chart before setting down the tablet for the examination, offers her what she thinks is supposed to be a smile. It comes off as more of a grimace.
Ellie gently maneuvers his arm, and the patient starts talking.
“I’m afraid it’s not particularly original or interesting. It involves gardening shears, a ladder, and a branch that was getting precariously close to the roof.”
He lets out a little sound of discomfort when Ellie asks him to make a fist.
“It’s probably a radius fracture,” the patient offers.
Ellie was thinking the same thing, but she doesn’t want to confirm the patient’s suspicions and feed into his apparent fondness for WebMD. Everyone comes to the ER ready to contribute his or her own diagnosis these days.
“Could be,” she says lightly. “The good news is that we should get you fixed up today. I’ll page our head of orthopedics to come talk to you, but it’s not likely you’ll need surgery.”
She tries not to sound too disappointed. She’s been in the pit all afternoon and has yet to have one case turn surgical.
She sticks her head out from the curtain to ask the nurses station to page Dr. Lincoln, and then ducks back in.
The patient smiles at her, and it manages to actually look like a smile this time. She feels the heat rise in her cheeks again. He’s really cute, okay?
“Could you possibly page Dr. Schmitt?”
He’s less cute when he’s asking her to do things she really shouldn’t do. It’s not uncommon for patients to request to see an inappropriate doctor. Many throw out the name of any doctor from their hospital with favorable yelp reviews. Dr. Schmitt is a popular request for that reason.
“Dr. Schmitt is a pediatric surgeon,” Ellie says. She starts cleaning a laceration on the patient’s upper arm. “This isn’t really his area.”
“Right. It’s just that -“
“Dr. Schmitt keeps a pretty full schedule as it is. I can’t really page him for non-surgical, adult cases.”
The patient seems to consider this.
“Sure. Yeah. Forget I asked.”
He’s a little less friendly after that, so Ellie quietly finishes cleaning his laceration.
“What’ve we got, Hughes?” Dr. Lincoln slides back the curtain, but his attention is still on the tablet in his hand.
Crap. She still hasn’t checked the patient’s name. Or age.
“Looks like a radius fracture, Dr. Lincoln,” Ellie blurts out. She tries not to be embarrassed by using the patient’s self-diagnosis in front of said patient.
Lincoln taps a few more things on his screen, and then turns his full attention toward the bed.
“Nico!” Dr. Lincoln exclaims.
Well at least someone knows the patient’s name.
“Hey, Link.” Nico’s greeting is a little less enthusiastic. Hughes concedes that it’s difficult to match Dr. Lincoln’s enthusiasm on a good day, much less a day when you broke your arm.
“You know when I said we needed to hang out now that I’m in Seattle, I thought we would do it somewhere other than the hospital.”
Okay is there some Grey-Sloan Hot Person Support Group that Ellie doesn’t know about? How do this many attractive people convene in one building and manage to all be friends and/or be related?
“Yeah me too,” Nico releases a little laugh. “My ladder and general stupidity had different ideas.”
“You did this falling off a ladder?” Dr. Lincoln looks amused. “Dude, you are in so much trouble.”
Before Hughes can really unpack that, Dr. Lincoln is back to questioning her.
“So a radius fracture, huh? That your diagnosis or his, Hughes?”
“Um,” she’s not sure what to say.
“It was a collaborative effort,” Nico says. He’s obviously amused.
“I’m sure,” Dr. Lincoln says in a tone that suggests he knows exactly what’s happened. “Dr. Kim here was my orthopedic surgery fellow at UCLA. I’m guessing he didn’t give you any idea he knows what he’s talking about.”
“He did not,” Ellie says. She can’t decide if she likes Dr. Kim for his humility, or dislikes him for withholding valuable information.
“Gotta let the interns think it through for themselves,” Nico - Dr. Kim says.
“Have you offered the patient any pain medications, Dr. Hughes? Broken arms can be very uncomfortable.”
“I was waiting on your consult, sir,” Ellie says.
“Go get a room in ortho and put in an order for Vicodin. Its not displaced, so there won’t be any surgery. I’ll let you help put on the cast though.”
Ellie nods and turns to go do as directed.
“Dr. Hughes!” She turns back to Dr. Lincoln. “Page Dr. Schmitt to whatever room you book once you’ve gotten Dr. Kim up there.”
“But Dr. Schmitt -“ Ellie begins with confusion.
“Will probably want to know that his husband came into the ER with a broken arm,” Dr. Lincoln finishes for her.
Ellie rushes off, her cheeks flushing, before Dr. Kim can tell him he asked her to page Dr. Schmitt half an hour ago.
Ellie will admit that the idea of putting a cast on an orthopedic surgeon is pretty intimidating.
Or it would be, if Dr. Schmitt weren’t roasting his husband throughout the entire process.
“So what? You just thought today was a good day to fall off a ladder, come to my place of work, and not even call me to give me a heads up?” Dr. Schmitt says from his seat next to the bed. He sounds angry, but he’s also holding Dr. Kim’s uninjured hand.
“I barely fell off the ladder! I was halfway down it already,” Dr. Kim explains. It does not seem to deter Dr. Schmitt at all.
“That doesn’t explain the lack of phone call.”
“I’m sorry. I was a little busy driving myself to the hospital with a broken arm. I forgot to get my phone.”
“You drove yourself here?” Dr. Schmitt repeats incredulously.
“I’m a doctor, Levi. I assessed the injury and knew it wasn’t bad enough for an ambulance.”
Dr. Kim is handling this whole thing with the patience of someone who has done this song and dance before. Ellie wonders how long they’ve been married.
She cuts in before Dr. Schmitt can start up again.
“Is there a particular color you want?”
There’s silence, and Ellie feels stupid for even asking. Then Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Kim both crack up.
“I think I’ll go with –”
“Oh no way! If you get to go against my suggestion to hire someone to trim the tree, then I get to pick the color of your cast.”
“That’s doesn’t seem like a fair trade at all.”
“Do you really feel in a position to argue with me right now?”
“Honestly, yeah,” Dr. Kim says. “I’m the one with an injury here.”
“I’m the one sitting here thinking about the hundreds of worse things that could’ve happened to you when you fell off the ladder!”
There’s a stare-off. Dr. Kim is the first to waiver.
“Fine. I’m too high from the Vicodin to argue with you right now.”
It’s true. Dr. Kim’s been fighting off the drowsy effects of the pain medication since he took it 20 minutes ago. It looks like he’s finally giving up.
There’s a sweet moment Ellie is a little embarrassed to witness where Dr. Schmitt brushes back Dr. Kim’s hair.
In a second, Dr. Schmitt is back to a mischievous grin.
“We’re going with purple,” he says.
“Are you trying to embarrass me with some gender normative bullshit because you know I’m not bothered by that kind of stuff.”
“No,” Dr. Schmitt says, and his smile is sweet now. “It’s just my favorite color on you.”
They’re cute. Ellie spends a second pondering whether they’d consider being her surrogate gay uncles.