Chapter 12

He really has no idea why he thought Chicago would be any better than Starling City. He hadn't been in town for more than 48 hours and he's already been in a train crash. Its like he attracted trouble, courted it even. From his childhood to his residency to his fellowship as a Trauma Surgeon, it seems he can't go somewhere calm.

Or doesn't want to. He can't deny that he's a thrill seeker.

Although showing up to his first day of work in the back of an ambulance, covered in blood wasn't in his plan. He knew Chicago wouldn't be serene but still…a train crash? Did these events follow him around?

He didn't mean to traumatize the med student. He just had a job to do and do fast. So he had stepped in. Now, sitting in a quiet room, faced with the gash on his arm, he felt a little bad about it. Just a little. She had to get used to the pace of the ER. He didn't pull punches. That wasn't who he was, not since the earthquake. Leaving Starling had changed him. He wouldn't coddle interns. It would hurt them in the long run.

Connor sighs and pulls off his shirt so he can get a better look at the cut on his bicep. Compared to his other injuries, this is nothing, a scratch. He grabs himself a suture kit and disinfects the wound. It's long and deep enough that he's going to have to stitch it, even if it would be a bitch to do himself. The rest of the doctors are busy saving lives and there's no way he's going to ask an intern to assist.

"Doctor Rhodes, I thought you could use these…"

He glances back to see the spare scrubs being carried in by one of the nurses. He offers her a barely there smile and focuses back on his arm. "Thank you."

"How'd that happen?"

"Must have snagged it on the wreckage." He would shrug if he wasn't working on his own arm. He'd laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Chicago reminds him so much of Starling, so much so that the difference between him now and him five years ago is jarring. Before everything, before the Undertaking, before Tommy Merlyn died, he had been in love with Laurel Lance, had been fragile and…safe. Now, getting hurt in wreckage was common place, stitching himself up was a fact of life. No wonder Oliver had gotten stranded on an island and become a vigilante.

The nurse frowns at him, voice adopting a teasing tone: "You know we do have a couple of doctors around here. I could hook you up."

Connor smiles and glances at her nametag. April. Oh, he likes her. Humor in the face of odd doctors. That's good. Cause he's independent and quirky. He likes people that can work with that. "I don't need one. I could use a nurse though. Come be my other hand?"

She nods. He feels bad testing out his new back story with her. It's technically not a lie, that he grew up in Chicago. He lived here as much as he ever lived in Starling City. They joke about the situation, tossing words back and forth in friendly banter as he closes up the wound. She's efficient as they talk, clearly capable. If he was still Tommy, he'd be hitting on her already, but he's not. He's Connor Rhodes. He doesn't hit on everything that moves. He appreciates that she can be a nurse and just that.

Whispers follow him around all day. He supposes that dramatic entrance where he told off the Senior Resident What's-his-face, didn't help with flying under the radar. Nor the fact that he managed to butt heads with the Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles. Or that he had to display his fluent Spanish when his patient's girlfriend arrived with only a rudimentary understanding of English.

He does his best to ignore the stares and do his job. That's why he's here: to use medicine to save lives.

He had to fight to get Jamie on a ventilator, fight to get a kid with terminal disease treatment of pneumonia. It was one of those things he hadn't expected to happen his first day. Then again, he was told that the worst part of practicing medicine was patients that wouldn't listen to reason. Jamie had the right to refuse treatment. It was just frustrating. He'd had to fight Dr. Charles too just to get him to convince the boy to do it.

At least he and Dr. Charles ended up in a good place. Connor's not sure he's ever going to be on solid terms with Dr. Halstead. It started off Rocky and got worse. Seems like he wanted to pick a fight, like the fact that Connor had grown up rich had protected him from the world. He would like to throw it back in Halstead's face, but he bit his tongue. Halstead wasn't going to break his cover.

The view from the roof though, that was doing wonders for his peace of mind. It's vaguely self-depricating, standing on the roof staring out at a skyline that reminds him of Starling, or rather what Starling looked like before the Undertaking levelled half the Glades. Oh, he knows it's a completely Oliver-like thing to do, to stare off into the void and brood. At least he tries to make conversation with people when they approach him.

God, he could use a drink.

Connor takes a deep breath and closes his eyes against the setting sun. He's had his moment, a break in his hectic first day, now it's time to get back to work, time to save lives. That is why he became a doctor after all: to save lives.

The breather was just when he needed for his luck to turn, apparently. He came back from his break to test results that match his crash victim to Jamie, the college student fighting so hard to live with a terminal illness, the kid who just needs a pair of healthy lungs.

Coming off that high, he comes across the med student from earlier.

She's hunched over the practice dummy, stabbing in a needle to practice her central line. She's doing everything right now with her headphones blasting and blocking out the rest of the world. Her hands are steady, the motions sure. He knows first hand that real life ERs are never like that. Feeling a little bad that she's probably doing this because of what happened earlier, he steps into the room.

"Central line. Can't tell you how many times I missed before I finally got it."

"I know how to do it," she insists without looking over. "I just couldn't do it in there."

"It takes practice, that's all." And now he sounds like all his teachers, especially Doctor Corbal who insisted that if he spent half as much time practicing as he did flirting, he would be a great doctor one day.

"I'm fine with him." She finally looks at him. "I never miss."

"Yeah, he's the ideal patient." That's the thing that's so hard to understand in med school, that life is messy and hardly ever follows a textbook definition of anything, especially in an ER. "You can't hurt him and his life's not hanging in the balance."

"If this rotation weren't a requirement, I wouldn't be here."

Finally, the truth comes out. He's oddly proud of himself for getting her to open up. "And where would you be?"

"I'm a lab person."

Of course. "Pathology?"

"Maybe."

That's a yes. It's adorable how much she believes it. "Yeah, every med student, once they start dealing with patients, thinks they'd do better in pathology. I did." He'd insisted on it too, for months, right up until the moment he had to apply for residencies.

She narrows her eyes at him, like she doesn't believe it. "What made you change your mind?"

Connor shrugs. "I interned in an ER like this one. I saw people come through the door every day, on the verge of death and I saved lives. It's different, working with your hands. It takes heart. You lose that in the lab."

She nods slowly, turning back to the practice dummy. "Maybe that wouldn't be so bad."

"Just you wait, Doctor…"

"Reese," she supplies. "Sara. I'm not a doctor yet."

"You will be," Connor says with a grin as he walks out of the room. If she can channel that conviction into an ER room, that drive into helping a living, breathing patient. Then she's going to be just fine. She wants to be good at this. She just needs to get past that anxiety.

These people are starting to grow on him. Chicago was definitely the right choice.

"So, how was your first day?"

Connor laughs at the question as he walks down the dark street. "It was good, Felicity. It started out with a train crash and ended up with a life-saving lung transplant."

"A train crash? Sounds gruesome?"

"It was rough. Something happened to the track. I was lucky I wasn't in the car that fell."

"Please tell me that was just a really bad joke and that you weren't on the train."

"This coming from the woman who runs around with vigilantes," he teases as he slows to a stop outside the bar. Molly's had been recommended to him by just about everyone in the hospital. It was apparently owned by some firefighters over at 51. "I made a splash when I came in with an ambulance and pissed off the Head Resident, who might also hate me because I grew up rich."

She laughs. "Well, you haven't slept with his girlfriend so he can't hate you too much…you didn't sleep with his girlfriend, did you?"

"Whoa, Lis! I'm not the one who had a habit of sleeping with taken women. That was my cohort in crime who now dresses up in green leather and shoots arrows in people." A couple girls walk past and look him over before ducking into the bar with a giggle. He shakes his head. "Besides, I'm just trying to make friends."

"Tommy, you've got like a magical ability to make friends," Felicity sighs. "I mean, even if you're Connor now, you're still you. You attract people like…I don't know…Frat boys to a toga party? It's ridiculous. As if your good looks weren't enough, you can talk to people without accidentally putting your foot in your mouth."

"Felicity, your babbles are endearing. You literally have Oliver wrapped around your little finger."

She sighs, a happy noise. "Yeah, I kinda do, don't I?"

"Yes. You really do," Connor says with a smile. "It's nauseating."

"You're not even here." She harrumphs. "How could you possibly know that?"

"John and I talk." He spots Dr. Charles through the window. "Listen, I am about to go give a potential new friend some good news. Call you later? And then you can tell me about the date Oliver's going to ask you on."

"Uh-huh. You and John with your talks. And if Oliver ever does ask me out, you will be the first to know."

"I'm holding you to it, Smoak. I better be the first call."

A laugh. "Deal."

"Call you later, Smoak."

"Bye, Wizard. Make good life choices."