Ethan has always had April locked away in a special place in his heart. A heart that he kept very guarded and that most people at the hospital thought was reserved and distant an excellent doctor none the less. He knew he wasn't that person. He knew he had warmth in his heart for that special woman. He knew that he loved to laugh, have fun, and enjoy life but having PTSD after his tours in the Middle East surely changed him inside. He worked hard to keep his stolen glances beneath the surface sometimes she would catch them and smile back. Sure they worked great together; sure they were great friends outside of the ED they all were. She was different than other women he had crossed paths with. She had a zeal and spark that drew people in like a moth to a flame and yup he was one of those people.
There was one major thing holding him back from gaining the courage and telling her how he really felt. Her Asshole of a boyfriend Tate, he looked like a perfect guy on the outside. The way he would pick her up and drop her off, the way she would invite him to the department festivities. They always had a ball. They always appeared perfect. But Ethan had this nagging twinge in his gut that told him there was something amiss. Chalk it up to his vast military expertise it was a feeling that he just could not shake. He hoped and prayed he was wrong, for April's sake. He tried to push his suspicions away he was great when they were on the clock the hustle and bustle of the ED was a great distraction. It was in his off time, that his thoughts wandered to her and Tate.
"Good Morning Mags" Ethan chimed as he walked into the ED for his shift on Monday morning.
She waved back in response she seemed really caught up in the conversation she was having on the phone. He went into the locker room to change into his scrubs.
"Dr. Choi I am updating your schedule for this week you are getting another nurse April called out sick for a few days."
Maggie spoke as he pulled his shirt over his head.
"She was fine yesterday. What's wrong with her? This is totally out of her character she never missed a day."
His concern was very visible.
"She said she thinks she has a stomach bug that's been going around so I told her to take the day and Tate is away on business so she is laying low and staying by the bathroom"
She smiled and left the room to start her shift.
It seemed like his shift dragged on for way longer than it should have. She was in the forefront of his mind. Which was a recipe for disaster and he knew it. His focus should be and needed to be on his patients. He knew without a doubt he was going to check on her as soon as his shift was over.
April stood naked in front of her full length mirror. Her heart broke as she looked at the damage he had done. When did it get this bad? First it was little arguments over her job. He didn't think she should be so devoted to her job. The little tiffs grew into shouting matches over time. Soon it was everything she did that had anything to do with the hospital. They were her family she drove that point home to him over and over. She hated the way she would smack on a fake happy mask at gatherings with her friends and at work. She never thought she would be that woman. The ones she would try so hard to convince to seek help when they would come into the ED battered, bruised, violated and ashamed. His death grips on her arm at gatherings his demanding to always be with her when they all hung out. It graduated from grips to shoves to hiding her car keys to pushes and shoves. This morning it all came to a head. He wanted to make love before she left for work. She was already running late as it was and he wasn't letting it go.
"Tay I am going to be late babe"
She said as he pulled her back into bed.
"I do not care I keep telling you to quit that fucking job."
He held her from behind as she sat with her back to him on the side of the bed.
"I am a nurse it is my duty to help people. No one is going to make me change that Tate you know that."
She felt empowered like she was standing up for her whole ED family when she defended her career. Sadly he didn't see it that way.
He grabbed her hair on the back of her head and pulled her back flat down to the bed from her seated position.
"OWWWW she yelled let me go you are hurting me please stop"
She begged and pleaded. He did not care about her begging. He was fed up with coming in second to that damn hospital. He grabbed her face as he laid on top of her he squeezed her face so hard she swore he was going to break her jaw.
He snatched her robe open and took what he wanted from her roughly like always he was never gentle and compassionate. She would lay there and wait for it to be over holding her breath and scared to move. When he was done she scrunched her robe closed and tried to salvage what was left of her pride.
"You care so fucking much about that place you didn't even want to please me before I left. And you thought that shit was fucking cool?"
He yanked her up off of the bed by her arms she knew they would bruise they were his favorite place to assault besides her legs. He never hit her in the face. His secret would be out if he did. She felt the sting not only on her arms but in her heart. Roughly he kissed her and whispered in her ear
"You better not miss one of my fucking calls remember I know your work schedule so I know when you should be picking up that phone."
Just like that he left her apartment. She stood there in shock afraid to breath she was thankful he did not have a key to her place she could at least be prepared when he got back into town he couldn't just come strolling in when he wanted. She took a scalding hot shower to cleanse herself. She dried off and tried to hide the hurt in her eyes that was coming up. It was then she decided to call out.
"He is gone for the week I will stay in the house all week I have plenty of food, and cable TV I can't concentrate on work right now. And I damn sure don't want to see Ethan right now"
She called Maggie right then.
She spent the day in bed between crying and sleeping before she knew it was dark out. It seemed lately the only thing that held her together was the thoughts of Ethan. She would often catch his glances that lasted a little longer than they should. She loved that she could be herself with him. He never looked down on her because she was a RN and not a MD. He valued her opinion, insights on cases and respected her at all times. That was one of the things she loved about him. She got up and from bed and flopped in front of the TV. As she flipped through the channels, her doorbell rang.
She sat frozen on the couch
"Maybe they will leave if I am really quiet"
She thought to herself
"April it is me Ethan I heard you were sick I am just checking on you"
It was then he called her phone.
"Fuck she whispered"
Of course it wasn't on silent as it buzzed and played Cardi B "I Like It Like That" across her coffee table her new favorite song.
She tied her long sleeved robe super tight she had on shorts and a tank but she surely couldn't let her legs and arms show.
"Coming Dr. Choi"
She opened the door and smiled softly as best she could in her metal state. There he stood with a shopping bag full of ginger ale, crackers, and ingredients for soup.
"First of all April it is Ethan we are not at work."
He smiled as he walked in went right to the kitchen and unpacked.
"Operation get you better has begun"
He looked at her and smiled through his coifed hair that he let down after worked she was instantly pulled in damn he was sexy she thought to herself.
"You didn't have to do this I am ok at least I will be E"
She was so afraid that he would find out her shameful secret but relieved that he was there all the same she had to leave the room to hide her uneasiness. Before she knew it they laughed and talked and ate his wonderful soup and totally lost track of time. It was close to 11pm. Like clockwork her phone rang and of course she knew it was him.
"Are you ok April hello April"
Ethan noticed her whole body tense as she froze briefly
"You want to get that?"
"Uh yea excuse me"
She went upstairs and into her bedroom.
Almost a half hour passed and she still hadn't come back down he didn't feel weird about going upstairs in her home he had been there a zillion times. He was worried about her at this point for someone with a stomach bug she had not went the bathroom the whole time he was there. He could her side of a very heated conversation from all the way downstairs. She was doing a lot apologizing. It was obvious it was Tate on the line.
Her bedroom door was ajar and he could hear the soft crying from within.
"April are you ok?"
He knocked softly as she tried to wipe her face and hide her tears.
"Yea sorry that was rude of me to be gone for so long"
"No needs to be sorry are you ok do you want to talk about it?"
He asked as he walked to her he approached from behind and placed his hand on her shoulder she instantly winced in pain with a slight flinch.
"I am fine just a small misunderstanding between Tay and I that's all."
She tried to deflect as she walked around him.
It was then he decide to step out on faith and call it like he saw it if he was wrong great because this was not a time where he wanted to be right at all.
"When did it start April?"
He asked her barely above a whisper as he stepped in front of her and softly held her hands.
She automatically froze at his touch. Sure they touched a zillion times at work and hanging out but this was different. This time she felt his warmth and concern for her wellbeing. But she could not find her voice to admit anything. She just stood there ashamed, embarrassed, and scared.
"You know you can tell me anything right? So many times you save my ass and have my back. You are the main reason I make it through my day. No matter how hard my day is in ED no matter what case triggers my PTSD I know I get to look into those eyes and see that warm soul behind those eyes and I know it will be ok. Please let me be there for you."
Never had Tate or any man for that matter hold her in that regard. That was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard from a man. She knew then he was her safe place her solace.
She let his hand go and slowly undid her robe and let the satin fabric slide from her battered frame. It seemed like all the air had been sucked out of his lungs he couldn't find his words. He couldn't find his breath. Had this been a different time or moment this would be the beginning of an all-night lovemaking session. She hung her head in shame as she slowly found her voice.
"Ethan I need help she whispered as she looked at her feet."
He didn't lash out in anger even though he was going to kill Tate. He didn't yell or lash out in a fit of rage like he could have. He picked her up bridal style and carried her over to her bed. He laid her down took off his shoes, belt, phone, and wallet. He then climbed in bed next to her and cradled her as she sobbed in his arms.
"It will be ok April we will get through this. I am here and I am not going anywhere. Do you hear me?"
She nodded against his chest as she slowly cried herself to sleep. Of course he was wide awake all damn night thinking how and why her. Why any woman for that matter.