Dr Jared Kalu sighed as he walked over to the nurse’s station and placed the empty container on the surface.
It was more than strange being back at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital after all these years, but now he knew that it had been a wasted trip.
He scanned the faces of the staff clustered around the station to see if there was anyone that he recognised.
His smile fell when he discovered that none of them had been here while he was.
One of the nurses looked up from the chart that she was working on and asked, “ can I help you, doctor?”
Kalu nodded and asked, “I’m visiting from another hospital to pick up a donor heart, but it fell through...I just thought…” he trailed off and considered what it was that he wanted, before he added, “I worked here a couple years ago with Dr Melendez and I was wondering if his residents were around?”
The nurse already appeared to have stopped listening as she looked down to the chart again and said, “I’m not sure where they are. They might be in surgery so you could check the board?”
“Right,” Kalu replied, “thank you.”
The nurse didn’t look up again so he just nodded and grabbed the empty container to head towards the board.
He had at least a couple hours until his ride back got here so he figured some investigation couldn't hurt.
At the very least, he could see what he was missing out on.
It didn’t take the doctor long until he reached the board and his eyes scanned over the writing upon it.
The Brit took a couple seconds to take in the procedures that he could have taken part in if he hadn’t punched Coyle what felt like a lifetime ago.
He lingered on a few names he recognised for a second until it finally fell onto ‘Dr C Browne-Reznick’.
He drew his eyebrows together and took a step closer as if the proximity would ease his confusion.
He was about to decide it must be a mistake, was it really that unreasonable to think that whoever wrote it missed out the ‘Dr M.’ before ‘Reznick’? Even if the rest of the board didn’t look like it had any mistakes on it at all.
But that idea was dashed when he heard an unfortunately familiar voice:
Jared closed his eyes for a second.
When he said that he wanted to see his former colleagues, he meant Shaun or Claire, maybe even Melendez, if only to say ‘hello’ before he went home.
There was one person he hadn’t even considered saying ‘hello’ to.
He opened his eyes and glanced over to Morgan Reznick, before he replied with a forced smile, “hello Reznick.”
Morgan Reznick-Browne tore her attention away from the test results on the tablet in her hands.
“Shouldn’t you be in surgery?” Kalu asked and gestured towards the board.
“Why would I…” Morgan started but cut herself off from saying anything else. She hadn’t heard those words in about a year and a half, not since the earthquake.
Thankfully, she had her wife around (well girlfriend at the time) to support her through the transition from surgery to Internal Medicine.
There was still a lot of work to do but she was actually in a good place.
At the very least, she still had some access to surgical stories through her wife.
She balled her left hand and covered her ring from the other doctor’s view.
She liked to think that she had become less petty since accepting her diagnosis, but she now was also aware that the ill feelings she held for Dr Kalu was because she was jealous. It wasn’t like she had considered him a threat to her career, but he was definitely a threat in other area of her life.
Now, when she looked at Kalu, all she saw was the man who had slept with her wife, albeit, a very long time ago.
It was for this reason that she plastered a sickly sweet smile that she knew would irritate the man and she said, “I pissed off Melendez so he bumped me to scut work, guess they forgot to take my name off the board.”
Jared narrowed his eyes.
It seemed likely that Morgan would piss someone off, but unlikely that she would go far enough to annoy an attending.
She usually knew where the line was to stop herself from getting bumped.
He couldn’t get past the thought that she was lying, but what could she be lying about?
Surely Morgan Reznick wouldn’t admit to getting kicked off a surgery, to having had failed at something?
When it became apparent that Dr Kalu was too suspicious to say anything, Morgan said, “you know, Cl...Browne will be out of surgery in about 30 minutes, you should meet us for lunch. I’m sure she would love to catch up with you Jared.”
She was giving him that smile again so Jared was sure that she was up to something. She looked excited about something which was definitely a red flag.
However, she was offering him the chance to see Claire Browne so he just nodded, “sure, sounds...great,” he replied.
Morgan smiled smugly and said, “I need to go and talk to a patient, so I’ll meet you in the cafeteria, okay?”
“Okay,” Kalu said and watched the other doctor walk away with his mouth slightly open.
He glanced back at the board, looking for Shaun’s name and quickly decided that it wasn’t on there.
Gripping the empty container he just walked off in search of Murphy.
At least with him, he wouldn’t have to worry about figuring out what he was hiding.
Dr Claire Browne-Reznick yawned as she walked away from the OR. It had been a long surgery but it had gone well, which meant that she could go and enjoy lunch with her wife.
More often than not she would have missed the lunch date because a procedure ran over or there had been a drastic advance in the team’s case.
Since Morgan had joined Internal Medicine, she didn’t see her as much as she would like to, so actually making it to lunch was very exciting.
As she walked, she pulled her ring out of her pocket and slipped it onto her finger.
Honestly, she still wasn’t used to the action, it made her just a little bit giddy every time she put the simple band back on.
It was like a daily reminder that she was actually married to Morgan freaking Reznick.
The idea of it still didn’t make complete sense to her, but about seven months into their relationship they had a weirdly mature conversation in which they decided that getting married made sense, that they wanted to be other’s family. Legally at least.
Well it had technically been Morgan who had proposed, but it was still more a mutual decision.
She rubbed the ring with her index finger with a smile as she remembered the small ceremony that Morgan had begrudgingly invited her family to, but had been more than willing to invite Park, Murphy, Melendez and Lim to.
It had been perfect.
Claire pulled out her phone to make sure that Morgan hadn’t texted her to say she got caught up in a case (it wouldn’t be the first time but Claire was hardly one to judge).
Thankfully there was nothing there, so she just kept going towards the cafeteria.
As soon as she got there, she drew her eyebrows together when she saw Morgan sitting at the table with someone on the other side.
Whoever it was had his back to her so she couldn’t tell who he was.
Hopefully it was just someone she was sucking up to in Internal Medicine and they would go away when she came over with her food and started sending strong hints that she wanted the next thirty minutes with her wife.
She made short work of getting a coffee and a salad before she went over to the table.
As always, her gaze fell onto Morgan first and she said, “hey.”
And, as always, she received a bright smile with those dimples she loved so much in return.
“Hey,” Morgan replied.
Claire wanted to lean forward and place a peck to her lips, but she remembered that they weren’t alone so she forced herself to glance up to the other side of the table so that she could make sure that she wasn’t about to do something incredibly unprofessional.
Her mouth fell open a little though as she managed to take in who it was that was currently looking on with wide eyes as he tried his best to read the situation.
If it were literally any other two people in the world, he would have thought they were clearly in love.
But this was Morgan Reznick and Claire Browne here.
He could probably believe that Morgan could be attracted to Claire (probably because it was something he had definitely experienced himself) but the other way round?
Claire finally slipped into the seat next to Morgan (she was seemingly naturally compelled to sit closer than he had ever seen before and it didn’t help that Morgan was currently wearing a very smug smile).
“Jared?” Claire said, resisting the strong urge to elbow her wife in the ribs.
She could have sent her a text message, just a quick heads up about this...situation.
“What are you...I mean...why are you…”
Dr Kalu tilted his head at the stammering.
He wasn’t expecting them to rekindle their relationship in the few hours he had here, but he did think maybe they could have a mature catch-up about their lives.
Jaru patted the empty container in the seat next to him and said, “organ harvest that fell through, they needed the helicopter to go collect another one so I’m stuck here until they come and get me. Figured I might as well relive the joy of the food here.”
He lifted up the sandwich that had already been half-eaten as he sat in silence with Morgan.
Claire nodded and was about to ask him how he was but she was interrupted by a newcomer to the table.
“I need to talk to the two of you,” Dr Murphy announced and fell into the seat on the other side of Jared.
Kalu raised his eyebrows at the doctor that he had spoken to only briefly earlier until he had to rush away to a patient.
Shaun seeking advice from Claire perfectly matched up with what he knew about their relationship, but from Reznick?
Of course, he didn’t know that since she had started dating Claire (and especially since she had joined Internal Medicine) that Morgan had been generally nicer to people.
“Hello again Jared,” Shaun added, but his eyes remained on the couple on the other side of the table.
“Hi,” he mumbled into his sandwich.
“What’s up Shaun?” Claire asked, with relief evident in her voice.
“I want to ask Lea to marry me,” he replied.
Jared almost choked on his food and Morgan snorted into her coffee at Kalu. Claire actually elbowed her this time.
When the man regained his composure, he turned to look again at Dr Murphy and asked, “you and Lea are actually dating?”
Shaun tilted his head and asked, “is it really that surprising?”
“I...guess not,” Jared replied and when Claire shot him a look, he added, “I’m really happy for you Shaun.”
It wasn’t a lie, he was happy for him. It was just a little jarring how much things had clearly changed since the last time he had been here.
“Thank you,” Shaun replied before he continued, “Dr Glassman mentioned that the next stage after moving in together is marriage. Lea and I have been living together for almost a year so I think I should ask her to marry me.”
“You shouldn’t propose because you think you ‘should’ Shaun,” Claire replied, “you should propose because you want to commit to Lea for the rest of your life and even then, you don’t need to get married for that kind of commitment.”
Shaun hummed as he took in the reply and he thought about it for about five seconds as the other doctors waited.
Finally, he asked, looking over to Morgan, “why did you propose to Claire?”
This time, Jared actually spat out his sandwich onto his plate and looked up at the pair, breathing deeply.
Claire frowned at him and Morgan only smirked harder.
She raised her left hand up to lean her head on so that the man opposite her could actually see the gold band.
Shaun glanced between the three of them, trying to figure out why Kalu was staring at Dr Reznick-Browne’s finger until it hit him that he would have had no way of knowing that that the pair had even started dating, let alone that they had gotten married.
“I proposed because I didn’t like the idea of my mother making my medical decisions,” Morgan replied and Claire just rolled her eyes.
Sure, it was a factor that came up in their conversation, but she had been much sweeter at the time. She’d long since accepted that she would probably only see the more romantic side of her wife when they were in private though, she wasn’t one for huge displays of affection in public.
It was for this reason that she didn’t make any attempt to correct what her wife had said with what had specifically happened.
“It was more romantic than it sounds,” Claire said instead and glanced at Jared to see if he was still freaking out.
He looked very much shocked and she could think of a long list of reasons for that, she just hoped that one of them wasn’t that he’d come here thinking that he’d had a chance.
In that moment, she decided that she was definitely going to make Morgan pay for not telling him earlier.
However, Shaun (who was currently considering the implications of Lea making his medical decisions) was still looking for advice, so she turned back to him and asked, “have you and Lea ever talked about marriage?”
“No, it’s never come up before,” he replied, completely oblivious to Jared’s state of shock that had yet to come to an end.
“Maybe bring it up in conversation before you drop a proposal on her. You know, find out if she would actually want to be married,” Morgan suggested.
Shaun nodded a few times and said, “yes that is a good idea.”
With that, he stood and walked away.
“I didn’t mean right now, Shaun,” Morgan called after him, but he was already too far away, plus he wasn’t listening.
“Do you think that will end well?” the blonde doctor asked, turning to her wife as if Jared were no longer present.
“It depends if Lea wants to get married…” Claire replied.
The pair had been together long enough now for Lea to not be considered a flake anymore, but her commitment issues were well-documented. Mostly because Shaun tended to discuss his personal life...a lot.
Morgan was about to reply, but a beeping at her waist cut her off and she reached down to look at the pager that was displaying ‘911’.
She sighed heavily and turned to Claire, “I have to go, do you mind…”
Morgan gestured towards her tray and Claire nodded instantly. It was a routine that they were unfortunately used to, when one was paged, the other would take their tray when they finished.
“Of course,” Claire replied, deciding not to add ‘babe’ on this occasion, but she did accept the peck to her lips that Morgan gave her before she rushed off.
Even if Kalu was there, it was a habit and Morgan didn’t have time to consider that she shouldn’t kiss her wife in front of the vexed man.
There was also the fact that they wouldn’t see each other until later that night,
Dr Reznick-Browne just nodded at Jared and continued to rush off towards her patient.
Claire watched her go for a second but forced herself to remember that she was not sitting alone.
She turned back to Kalu who was still looking on with his mouth slightly open.
Apparently his mind was still short-circuiting?
Claire let out a heavy sigh and pierced a piece of lettuce on her plate, before she reluctantly said, “Jared?”
This seemed to break him out of his fugue state and he replied, “really Claire? Reznick? She’s such as…”
Claire held up her hand to cut him off and said, “don’t finish that sentence.”
“Why?” he asked in exasperation.
“Because she’s my wife, Jared,” Claire shot back.
Jared took a couple deep breaths and tried very hard to get some perspective here. It had been a long time since he’d been here, obviously things had changed at more of an exponential rate than he’d originally thought.
“How did it happen?” he finally asked. For a second he wanted to ask how she could commit to Morgan and not him, but that didn’t really feel relevant anymore.
It was more clear than ever that they were in the past.
“It’s a long story, but she was there for me when I needed someone and then I was there for when she had to leave surgery. I guess we just...helped each other and fell in love,” Claire explained.
It was definitely an oversimplification but Kalu didn’t need to know everything.
He didn’t need to know the long list of reasons that Morgan was inexplicably perfect for her.
“Reznick left surgery?” Jared asked, visibly deflated at the news. He had to assume that something catastrophic must have happened for Morgan to leave the surgical programme, which just made him feel a little bad for trying to call her a ‘bitch’.
Claire hesitated for a second.
Would Morgan want Kalu to know?
She decided that everyone currently in her life knew, so why would this matter?
“She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and had surgery to try and give her 10 years as a surgeon but...when she was recovering there was an earthquake and a patient would’ve died without surgery, but there was no else around. She pulled the stitches and wrecked her hands. She physically can’t perform surgery anymore so she switched to Internal Medicine.”
Jared nodded slowly and asked, “so your name is actually...Claire Browne-Reznick?:
Claire tried not to sigh, was that really all he got from that?, but she replied, “yes it is, Jared, we wanted to change our names but we didn’t want it to get confusing at work, so she’s Reznick-Browne and I’m Browne-Reznick.”
Jared fell back into his seat and it suddenly hit him how childish he was being.
He allowed himself a second to bite the inside of his cheek and just mentally bemoan how different it all was.
Naturally, he couldn’t help but imagine what it could have been like if he had stayed.
But that was over, he had a different life now and in that life, it didn’t matter who Claire was married to.
“I’m sorry, Claire, I was just...shocked. I mean it’s Reznick, you know?” holding up his hand before Claire could say anything and he added, “the Morgan I knew would have never risked her career for a patient. Obviously things have changed...Are you happy?”
Claire relaxed at this and actually smiled at him, “I really am.”
“Good, that’s really...I really am glad, Claire,” Jared said, now that the initial shock had worn off, he managed to actually sound genuine.
Claire just stared at her ex for a few moments until she finally raised the fork to place the lettuce into her mouth.
“So, are you seeing anyone?” Claire asked after she swallowed.
“Not right now,” Jared replied, “but work has been great lately…”
For the next twenty minutes, they discussed interesting cases they’d both had, but the meal was ended by a page from Melendez.
Claire quickly agreed to at least e-mail Jared to let him know whether or not Murphy got engaged before she gave him a very awkward hug and then made short work of putting away hers and Morgan’s tray.
As she walked down the hallway, she pulled out her phone to shoot off a quick text message, “you’re a jerk.”
Just before she made it to the office where she could see Melendez and Park already discussing some lab results, the device buzzed and she rolled her eyes at the reply from her wife which was just two kiss emojis.