Will hates Connor.
Of this, Natalie is absolutely sure. Will’s stubborn and argumentative by nature, but she’s never seen anyone rile him up like Connor can. It’s almost like fighting with each other is an essential part of their day, the way they seek out an argument with each other. More than once, she’s found Will in the break room, still stewing over Connor’s words while he fixes himself a couple of cups of coffee.
Natalie looks across the room to see Will, in the throes of another argument. His arms cross defensively over his chest as he levels Connor with a flat stare. She makes her way over with annoyance already seeding in her stomach.
“Yes,” Will says, voice dripping with sarcasm, “I have no doubt that you’re sure the angiogram is necessary, but I’m telling you that it’s not.”
Connor rolls his eyes in response, “I’m sorry, I forgot that you were the cardiothoracic specialist.”
This only makes Will throw up his arms in exasperation, looking to Natalie for help. She opens her mouth but before she can get a word in, Will is off again.
“You may be the expert, but I know my patient. I know what he needs.”
Connor scoffs, clearly ready to retort.
Natalie can already see the conversation stretching on endlessly in front of her and puts a hand to either one of their chests to halt the argument.
“Please,” she says tiredly to Will, “Can you just get the goddamn angiogram? There’s literally no harm to it. You’re being stubborn.”
The redhead hardly looks happy about it, particularly in the face of Connor’s smugness, but reluctantly agrees. He fixes Connor with another irritated look, which the surgeon returns with a sardonic smile, and turns away to order the test.
Natalie sighs, looking at the all-too-pleased Connor. “Do you have to push his buttons all the time?”
He shrugs, but this time the smile looks genuine, “I sure do.”
It’s only an hour or so later that the results come back. The patient has a faulty right ventricle and would need surgery. Will looks as though his whole world is ending when he reads the results.
“Fuck,” he says, succinctly.
Connor shoots him an utterly delighted smile, as if already calculating all the ways he can use this against him later and claps him on the arm. “Don’t worry about it, Halstead,” his voice filled with false sympathy, “We all get it wrong sometimes.”
Will slaps his shoulder back, just a little harder than usual, and it makes Connor laugh all the way down the hallway.
Yep. No doubt about it. Will hates Connor, and sometimes, Natalie can’t blame him.
There’s a begrudging respect that all doctors have for each other, especially in the ED. It’s a fast paced, high stress environment and reliance on colleagues and faith in their medical abilities is sometimes truly the only way you can get through.
Connor and Will are no exception to this rule. Their disagreements are almost legendary in the department, though admittedly less frequent since Connor moved into cardiothoracic surgery, but they always work seamlessly together when they occasion arises.
It's an absolute waking nightmare of a day. Ethan has been run off his feet since the shift started, barely getting a chance to catch his breath before the next patient needs his help. It's no wonder they've called everyone on deck, with the victims of a six-car pileup heading their way.
Maggie calls for Ethan from across the department, and he rushes to the doors just in time for the paramedics to burst through with a patient.
"Elaine Williams, 22 years old, she was in the second car," the medic informs him in a rush. Elaine looks to be in bad shape, the blood caked in her hair leading Ethan to suspect head trauma.
Will and Connor step up to his side instantly, and they share grim looks with Ethan.
"Head trauma, and spinal cord injuries definitely," Ethan notes.
They pull Elaine onto the bed on Ethan's count, and Connor immediately places a stethoscope to her heart and lungs. He winces at what he hears.
"Bilateral crackles, there's fluid in her lungs."
She looks so young on the bed, and Ethan can feel his heart constrict in his chest at the sight.
They get to work checking her vitals and trying to stop the bleeding from her various wounds, but it's in vain. The monitor flat line hardly comes as a surprise, but it takes Ethan's breath away all the same.
Without hesitation, Will pulls her bed flat and begins pumping on her chest. Connor administers the epi at his request, but both he and Ethan know there's no helping her. They share looks over Will’s head, Connor’s eyes brimming with sympathy. Will is never one to give up, they both know this.
"C'mon," Will mutters to her, strained with the effort of the CPR.
Connor moves silently to his side, placing a gentle hand on his arm, "Will," he says, but the doctor doesn't stop moving.
"Will," he continues, more forcibly this time, "C'mon, stop. There's nothing you can do."
Will steps back, arms falling uselessly to his side, desolate at he looks at Elaine's body.
As quietly as he can, Ethan calls her time of death. Connor's arm wraps firmly around Will's shoulder for just a moment before letting go.
"You did everything you could. We did everything we could," he tells him, and Will nods.
Connor looks out to the ED where more patients are arriving and nods at Ethan. "We gotta go," he says gently to Will, and the three of them step out of the room together.
Ethan pats Will on the back, and he returns the gesture. His eyes drift across to Connor who is watching Will closely. He looks ready to jump in and take over if necessary, but he lets Will make the call.
The redhead rolls his shoulders, relieving tension, and gives Connor a small, terse smile, which is enough to alleviate the surgeon’s concern. Connor makes his way across the ED where Natalie is calling for his help, squeezing Will’s wrist gently as he goes.
Ethan is a little surprised at the ease with which their silent conversation takes place, but it makes sense. Even if they don’t like each other, there’s no denying that the two are talented doctors, and have experienced their fair share of loss. He supposes it makes sense that they can check in on each other in this way.
Besides, Ethan considers with a little amusement before he can think too hard about it, it won’t last. They’ll go back to their regularly scheduled disagreements in a few days’ time, he’s sure of it.
Talia doesn’t hate her job.
But her new position at Gaffney Chicago Medical Centre’s Emergency Department has hardly been fun.
The people were nice, sure, and she was hardly going to turn down the opportunity to look at some of the frankly ridiculously gorgeous staff that worked there, but by God, it’s hard work.
She feels constantly swept off her feet, and woefully undertrained for the life or death situations she finds herself in all too frequently.
So, who could blame her for seeking a little solace in the form of the jaw-droppingly-swooningly-unbelievably handsome Doctor Connor Rhodes? Between the blue eyes, dark beard, rugged stubble and that one time she heard him speak Spanish, he’s practically irresistible. Of course, it would be a more pleasant flirting experience if every time she did so, she wasn’t immediately glared down by Doctor Halstead.
She doesn’t mind though. She’s sure that Dr. Halstead is just jealous of all the attention the other man gets. After all, Dr. Rhodes is one of the most gorgeous eligible bachelors in the entire city. Though, of course, he wouldn’t be much longer if Talia has any say in it.
She’s drumming her fingers against the desk of the nurses’ station when a pair of navy scrubs pulls her attention.
“Hey,” she says with a smile, batting her eyelashes at Dr. Rhodes, “What brings you down here?”
Dr. Rhodes fixes her with a charming smile, and it takes everything in her not to physically melt under the attention. “Checking in on a patient,” he tells her, “Have you seen Dr. Halstead around, by any chance?”
Talia casts a glance idly around her, and instantly catches the eye of the man in question. Dr. Halstead’s eyes could bore a hole in her head with how hard he’s staring from over Rhodes’ shoulder. It’s unsettling, to say the least. He stares after her, two cups of coffee in his hand.
She plasters on a fake cheery smile, “Nope! Not recently,” she lies.
“Huh,” Rhodes muses, his beautiful eyes creasing in confusion, “I could’ve sworn he said he would wait for me,” he mutters, mostly to himself.
“Yeah, well,” Talia says dismissively, before stepping around the table to get closer to him. “Listen, I have two tickets to this museum exhibit this weekend,” she brushes a hand against his arm, “What do you say you and I go and check it out? I heard it’s beautiful.”
Rhodes laughs, a little awkwardly, and a red flush tinges his ears. “Uh, I’m sure it is, but—”
Whatever he’s about to say is interrupted by Halstead’s hand landing firmly on his shoulder. He holds up one of the coffee cups and Rhodes takes it gratefully.
“Connor, we have to go,” Halstead informs him, his voice sounding a little strained.
Talia watches the tension drain out of Connor’s system. “Yeah,” he says to the other doctor, softly. He turns to Talia with a restrained smile, “Thanks for the offer, but—”
“Now, Connor,” Halstead interrupts again, halfway down the corridor.
Connor smiles after him, giving Talia a helpless sort of shrug, before following him without hesitation.
“Told you it wasn’t going to work,” Doris says from behind her, matter of fact.
“It might’ve if Dr. Halstead wasn’t so jealous that he isn’t the hot bachelor,” Talia sulks, her shoulders dropping as she makes her way back behind the desk.
Doris pats her on the head, like a baby, “Sure,” she says, a little sarcastically.
Talia shoots her a pathetic glare before slumping onto the desk with a groan.
She really hates her job.
Noah’s been trying to get after work drinks going for a while.
He thinks it would be fun to sit around after a long shift, drinking beers and reminiscing—like a TV show of some sort. But it's hard when your shifts are 12 hours long and mostly filled with tragedy. Every time he's brought it up, he's been met with varying degrees of disagreement, ranging from "I'm just too tired" all the way to "are you fucking kidding me?"
He's almost given up on the idea when he casually suggests to Will that they should grab a beer. Will's face lights up and he's agreeing instantly.
"Yeah, sure man! That sounds like a good time," he says with enthusiasm. "Hey, I reckon I could convince Connor to come too, huh?"
Noah can't believe it. His dream of post-work drinks is finally coming to fruition. "Fuck yeah!" he tells Will, "Bring everyone!"
It turns out to be just the three of them. Noah was admittedly getting ahead of himself when he thought he could wrangle more people into the bar. But even as it stands, three people is enough for a party, and so Noah chooses to count this as a win.
They're a couple of drinks deep already when Will comes back to the table with a beer. He turns to Connor with a grin, "I did what you said, I branched out!"
Connor snorts derisively, "What are you talking about? You're still drinking beer."
"Ah ha," Will continues with a playful grin as he settles into the booth next to Connor, "But I've never had this brand before. So voila, a diverse drink!" He takes a long sip, and the smile immediately dies on his face.
Noah can't help but laugh at his expression, "Bad call?" he asks.
"Terrible," Will chokes, "I didn't even know beer could taste this bad."
Connor rolls his eyes, "Don't be dramatic."
Will pushes the pint towards him, challenging, with his eyebrows raised.
Connor takes a sip, and tries to school his face into a neutral expression, but the disgust breaks out all the same. "Yeah, okay," he concedes, "That's fucking terrible."
Will looks delighted at Connor's agreement, "See? I told you so!"
"Yeah," Connor acquiesces, squeezing Will's thigh lightly, "Go get your usual beer, save yourself the torture."
Noah laughs at how quickly Will stumbles back to his feet, patting Connor lightly on the head as he walks past.
"This is fun," Noah says, mostly to himself, but Connor grins back.
"Yeah, we should do this more often," he agrees, before his eyes drift over to the karaoke machine in the corner, "But maybe somewhere without one of those, 'cause if I know Will the way I think I do—"
He's cut off by Will loudly calling out their names, and pointing to the machine in question with unbridled excitement.
Connor puts his head in his hands, "He likes to sing when he gets drunk."
Noah is briefly amazed by how Connor can read Will like a book. He would love a friend like Connor or Will. He's about to comment on how awesome he thinks their friendship is when Will makes his way back to the table.
"I've signed us all up," he says, looking far too proud of himself, "You're first, Noah."
Noah groans. Maybe he doesn't want a friendship with Will.
Will wakes up to the smell of sizzling bacon. He reaches across to where Connor usually lies only to find expanses of empty sheets.
Out the cracked open bedroom door, he can hear Connor's voice flowing softly from the kitchen as he sings along to whatever song is playing.
He pads out of the bedroom, hair in disarray.
Connor is standing at the stove, shirtless as he flips a piece of bacon.
Will smiles at the sight and wraps himself around Connor, pressing a kiss to his neck.
Connor chuckles, and the hand not holding the spatula comes up to cover Will's, "Good morning, sleepyhead,"
"Goo' mornin'" Will mumbles back, face still pressed to Connor's warm skin.
Connor looks behind him to greet Will with a kiss, their lips slotting together seamlessly, and practised. "Breakfast will be ready soon," he tells him, "You better get ready for work."
Will kisses his neck again before shuffling off.
"And don't use all the hot water either, Will! I mean it!" Connor calls after him, only to be met with a dismissive wave.
They're on the way to work in Connor's car like always when Connor suddenly looks across to him and the intensity of it slams into his chest.
Connor smiles, slow, and shakes his head. "Nothing. I just love you."
It's nothing new, but the candour that runs through his voice sends a shiver up Will's spine. He wouldn't admit it, even if pressed, but his voice tremors as he echoes Connor's words.
When they're walking into the ED doors, the conversation replays in Will's mind.
He looks at Connor, so open, so trusting, his blue eyes shining down on him like Will is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, and he just can't help himself.
He leans over and kisses Connor soundly on the lips, no PDA at work rule be damned.
Connor's hand comes up and cups his cheek gently, just for a moment, before they're both pulling away.
Will swoops down again for another kiss, brief as possible this time, and then turns back to the ED where he is met with identical shocked faces from everyone.
He shares a confused look with Connor as Natalie starts to splutter.
"What?" she asks, gesturing between the two of them, "I mean, what? What is going on?"
Connor looks flabbergasted, his eyebrows set in heavy creases, "What are you talking about?"
"You two!" Natalie continues, "You hate each other!"
This breaks Will's stupor, and he breaks into quick laughter, "Are you serious? We don't hate each other."
"But the arguing—" Natalie says, but Connor interrupts.
"Arguing? What those little disagreements over work? Please."
Will nods in agreement, shrugging a shoulder casually, "It never means anything. Besides, if we ever get too heated, we just cool off, bring each other coffee, and call it even."
"I knew you didn't hate each other," Ethan muses, "But I thought you just respected each other as doctors."
"They do a hell of a lot more than that," April points out under her breath, and Connor stifles a laugh.
"No, wait," Noah cuts in, "But I thought you guys were just bros! I mean when you came out for drinks with me—"
Will laughs incredulously, "Noah, man, we were sharing drinks and touching each other's thighs and you thought we were just bros?"
Connor cuts in incredulously, "Really? None of you knew?"
"No!" choruses the group.
"We drive to work together every day, we go home together, we bring each other coffee," Will counts off his fingers. "Seriously, good thing none of you are detectives. We were not hiding it."
Connor laughs and kisses Will firmly once more, "I have to go," he tells him, "Please get these geniuses up to speed."
As he leaves the group immediately fires off questions, making Will put his hands up in joking surrender. "Relax, I will tell you all about it. Who's in for drinks tonight at Molly's?"
There's a round of agreement (which has Noah throwing his hands up hopelessly saying, “If I knew all I needed to do was sleep with Connor Rhodes to get everyone to agree to drinks, I would’ve done that months ago!”) before everyone moves on to their actual responsibilities. Will's almost at the break room when a hand tightens around his arm. He looks up to see Natalie, who still looks a little in disbelief.
"Do you love him?" she asks.
Will ducks his head to hide the blush spreading rapidly across his skin. "Yeah," he says, a little dopey. "Yeah, I really do."
She warmly at him, “I’m really happy for you.”
Will turns to eye the corridor Connor left through, a smile gracing the corners of his lips without permission. “Me too.”