AN: Some quotes are from Season 5, Episode 21. A big thanks to everyone who has been reviewing so far.
Spring was in the air, and Elizabeth was indulging Carol's all-consuming appetite. It was Saturday morning, the first they both had off together in months, and had declared a girls brunch was in order. Their favorite weekend spot was a pub with an outdoor patio and bottomless mimosas. Well, bottomless mimosas for other people. Elizabeth had forgone the brunch drink to be supportive of Carol, who was eyeing the drinks on another table with envy.
"So this is, what did you call it? Elevenses?"
"Yes." Elizabeth was explaining the finer points of the meals a Hobbit eats since her friend's eating habits had started to resemble one. "You've got breakfast, Elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and then supper."
"Hobbits sound like my kind of people," Carol managed in between bites of bread. They had placed their orders and were nibbling on the basket of bread and butter left on their table.
Carol had finally told her mother what had been going on the night before, and her very catholic mother was not thrilled. She managed to extract a promise from Carol to attend Mass that Sunday, and since it would be Mother's Day, Carol agreed. A late-night SOS had gone out to Elizabeth, and the Elevenses had been planned to deal with the fallout.
"How do you think your mum is going to be tomorrow? I know you said she was never a big fan of Doug's." Elizabeth was used to being cautious where mothers were concerned, having learned the hard way with her own.
"I don't know. I think she just needs time. It took me a while to come to terms with everything and decide what to do." It had been a long-overdue conversation, but Carol looked as if a weight had been lifted from her now that her mother knew about the pregnancy.
"So, just cross that you didn't say anything sooner?"
"Probably. That and I'm -"
"Not married," Elizabeth finished for her. The waiter had arrived with their food, and Elizabeth watched in amusement as Carol practically snatched the plates from the waiter; Elizabeth was going to need to leave a good tip for that.
"Yup. Unwed mother to be, and pregnant by an atheist that moved to the other side of the country. What would your mother react like?"
"Ha." Elizabeth snorted. "Madam Corday would have no issue with the not married part; she divorced my father quickly enough when she decided she was done being in a relationship. She would be more concerned with it being an unplanned pregnancy and how that would affect my career." Elizabeth adopted a pinched look, " 'You've worked so hard, Elizabeth, don't let having a child stop you for having a career. Find a good nanny now and have them move in.' " Elizabeth did her best impersonation of her mother and rolled her eyes. She could tell that Carol wasn't sure if she should laugh at the impersonation or be terrified at Elizabeth's mother.
"Yikes. Very career-minded then. I knew your dad was with being a surgeon, but that's the most you've ever talked about your mom." Carol had finished her Croque Monsieur at this point and had lost the hangry look from her eyes. Never get between a pregnant woman and her Elevenses.
"Oh yes, both workaholics, both at the top in their chosen fields. She never let being a wife or mother stop her." Two workaholics as parents, and yet her American colleagues often wondered how she could work as much as she did. Clearly, it was just genetics at this point.
"What kind of workaholic does a surgeon marry?"
"Mother's an astrophysicist and a senior lecturer at the University of London." Carol struggled and failed to keep the look of surprise from her face, and Elizabeth recognized it quickly. "Oh yes, my father overheard her talking about something to do with quantum mechanics, I think, in a pub and fell in love sight unseen. Mother was sitting in a booth behind him, and her friend got up to fetch a new round of drinks. He introduced himself by saying, 'You must be Belle, the only suitable name for a woman with a mind as beautiful as yours.' " The story of how her parents met always brought a smile to Elizabeth's face. Her father was a firm believer in 'the mind stays whilst beauty fades,' and Isabelle Corday was the most intelligent woman of his acquaintance, with her mind and looks becoming like a fine wine, only better with age. A trait that Elizabeth hoped her mother had passed on along with her fiery curls.
"Damn. What are you doing for her for Mother's Day?"
"Oh, it's not Mother's Day in England, and she's not even speaking to me right now, so there's that." Elizabeth couldn't tell if the bitter taste in her mouth was from her bad coffee or her words. Both, it was her mother, after all.
"Well, if you're mom isn't speaking to you...you could come to mass with my mom and me tomorrow."
"You mean come and play buffer for you in case your mum is still cross."
"How about this. You can either come to mass tomorrow or tell me what's been going on between you and Mark lately." Carol gave her a pointed look, knowing full well that Elizabeth had been quiet where Mark was concerned.
Elizabeth asked when and where mass was rather quickly, having no desire to say that while Mark has attempted some relatively harmless flirting, she was interested in a different medical professional. She and Robert hadn't had time to discuss the rather seismic shift in their relationship, and she certainly wasn't ready to bare all to Carol. It was time to change the topic away from mothers and men, and Elizabeth did her best to turn the focus of the rest of their brunch to Carol. Piling Carol with food was turning out to be a convenient diversion, and Elizabeth managed to escape the remainder of the weekend without a single question about her love life.
The week had flown by for Robert. Work was going great during the day, and his evenings were spent grabbing dinner or drinks with Elizabeth, whichever her schedule allowed. They had yet to go on what Robert considered to be a proper date; everything had been rushed after work. No getting dressed up and going out to a nice place, no staying out all night, and certainly no Lizzy coming home with him. As much as Robert wanted her to go home with him, he had no desire to rush her. They were finally reading out of the same chapter, but he was still a few pages ahead of her, and Robert was happy to wait while she caught up.
One of the things they were not on the same page about was the Trauma Fellowship. Robert had made it very clear that he believed Elizabeth would be wasting her time with it and that he would not be voting for her. Perhaps not the best way to start a relationship, but he had no desire to back down from his stance. Elizabeth was far more talented than what the fellowship could offer.
Instead, he had focused on the Cardiothoracic Fellowship. Peter Benton still appeared undecided about if he would take the fellow even though he had been saying all the right words to Robert. It was a pity that Elizabeth had no interest in Cardiothoracic, or he could have put her name forward and watched as she slaughtered the competition. Then again, Robert knew if she had been interested in that particular specialty, she would have never left England and would be working with her father.
Anspaugh has been pressing him all week for the vote on the Trauma Fellowship, and Robert has finally run out of excuses to put it off; he was Acting Chief of the ER after all. It had weighed on him all day as he went into surgery with Elizabeth. A trauma had come in, and the A-team had been called to clean it up.
"So thought about what I said?" Robert looked across the operating table at Elizabeth, enjoying the thrill of getting to work with her.
"What was that?" Elizabeth was being obtuse in her response, and he knew it. The slight arch of an eyebrow from her was all he needed to tell.
"About not wasting your life on this trauma fellowship." He was hoping she would pick up the gauntlet he had so readily thrown.
"What and miss out on cases like this?" She gave a weak attempt at sarcasm in response, clearly too absorbed in their work to pay attention to him.
"Uh ha, you're avoiding the question."
"Frankly, I don't think I've got a lot of options at the moment, do I." At this, she looked up at him, a defensive edge creeping into her voice.
"I'd consider you for cardiothoracic. I could sneak in a late application."
"I thought that belonged to Peter."
"Ha well. He didn't hesitate to uh throw his hat into your rice bowl, did he." Robert knew he had Elizabeth's attention. Her ambitious nature could never resist a challenge, and dangling an opportunity to challenge Benton was something she would struggle to pass up. Elizabeth would go for it and look past the trauma fellowship. She was a Corday, after all.
They were coming out of the OR when he got a taste of the Anspaugh Ambush first hand. Suited and booted, Anspaugh was ready to leave for the night, and Weaver and Greene were standing by, ready to place their votes. Elizabeth knew what it was about as he passed of their patient to her to take to recovery.
"Look, I wanna do this now; where are you on this trauma fellowship." Anspaugh was looking at Robert as the Acting Chief of the ER.
"Well, I think I've already told you, I don't really see the need. But if I'm the minority, I vote for the Georgetown guy." Robert presented a disinterested façade to his colleagues, knowing full well that the aftermath of the vote was going to be ugly for someone.
"Kerry?" Anspaugh turned to Weaver next.
"Peter Benton's the strongest candidate." Of course, Weaver would say that. She still couldn't look Elizabeth or Robert in the eye, so why would she want Elizabeth working out of the ER.
"I disagree, Elizabeth Corday brought us the idea, she has passion and certainly talent-" Robert suspected that Greene was voting with his cock at took the opportunity to interrupt him.
"Of course she does, but I don't want to see either one of them wasted on this, no offense."
Anspaugh didn't appreciate Robert's interruption, however. "Well, they both applied, didn't they. Well, it looks like you're all of separate minds. It's late; I want to go home, so I'm going to make this quick. Peter Benton, it is. Thank you." And with that, Anspaugh walked off having decided Elizabeth's career.
"That's not a very encouraging entrance. "Elizabeth was tucked away in an x-ray room, reviewing the post-surgery films from her patient when Mark Greene walked in.
"I'm sorry. You didn't get the trauma fellowship ship." He leaned against the doorway, watching as her mood darkened at his words.
"Is it Peter?" Elizabeth tried to keep the anger from creeping into her voice.
"Yeah." Mark was still watching her, waiting for some sign that it was safe to approach.
"Well. That's that then." To say that Elizabeth was cross was an understatement. She was more than cross; she was livid. Peter. Bloody. Benton. Not even a good enough shag for the level of headache he was now causing her. Sure he was lovely in the moment, but she should have trusted her first instinct. 'Shedding your skin Dr. Snake she had once told him. How very accurate indeed.
"I was looking forward to working with you." There was something in Mark's tone of voice that made Elizabeth uncomfortable.
"Yeah, same here." She moved across the room to pick up another set of x-rays, determined to act as if there was no double meaning in his comment.
"So, now what?"
"Well, I guess I'm left to ferret around picking up scraps where ever I can find them."
"It doesn't mean Peter was a better candidate." Mark was still watching her; his eyes were lingering a little too long for Elizabeth's liking.
"Oh, I know." She instilled a more dangerous edge to her voice, the back off coming through loud and clear with Mark turning the conversation away from the fellowship.
"How much more time do you have on your internship?" Elizabeth looked over her shoulder at his question. She had momentarily forgotten that she frequently put Mark Greene into the inept male friend category for a reason.
"You'll have your license you can do anything you want." Mark had yet again continued with a dangerous topic. A very, very inept male indeed.
"Except the trauma fellowship," she snapped the film into the lightbox with a little too much force, and it made an audible noise.
"Just about anything."
"How did the voting go?" The curiosity got the better of Elizabeth, and she had to know just how badly she had lost out.
"I think you know."
"Yeah, Romano didn't want either of us, Anspaugh was keen on Benton, don't tell me you were."
"No, I wanted you, but I'm not really objective." There it was. The confirmation from Mark that he had, in fact, been hitting on her that all the support she had been getting from him on the fellowship was because he found her attractive.
"Really." Elizabeth managed to keep a neutral tone while her mind ran rampant with just how this conversation would have been going if she had gotten the fellowship. Wondering if Mark would have had the confidence to be more forward with her if he was delivering good news.
"You know what you need?"
"What?" Alcohol. She needed a drink, and any would do.
"A milkshake, what time do you get off?"
Elizabeth scoffed at him. "Is this more of your bad day therapy?"
"It's free of charge, I'll come find you," and Mark exited the room.
Great. Just bloody great. On the one hand, Elizabeth knew she needed all the friends she could get. On the other, she couldn't trust whatever strings came with Mark Greene's friendship. Elizabeth would never know for sure, but the conversation had left her believing that he had voted for her in the fellowship because he was making a pass at her. Bollocks.
She found Peter in one of the small surgeons' lounges a while later; her intent was to rip the band-aid off, so to speak, and get this conversation over with.
"I supposed a congratulations are in order."
"Look, Elizabeth, you don't have to say that. "Peter had gotten up from his chair and moved towards her as if to comfort her. In times gone by, she might have welcomed it but not tonight.
"Peter, I'm just trying to be gracious."
"Thank you." Elizabeth could tell from the tone of his voice that Peter understood this would change their friendship. Elizabeth was trying to keep a civil disposition when the door opened.
"Peter. "Robert, however, was not striving for gracious, and his stormy demeanor was making that clear. "Elizabeth, would you excuse us, please."
As much as Elizabeth wished to be a fly on the wall for that conversation, she knew better than to try and stay. Elizabeth was not above lying in wait for Robert though, when he was done tearing into Benton.
Robert's conversation with Peter was short-lived, and when he exited the lounge, he almost walked straight into Elizabeth. She had her arms crossed, and her face told him she was ready to go to war.
"We're you serious?"
"What?" Robert was caught off guard, still on edge from his conversation with Peter, and wasn't keeping up well.
"The offer you made today, were you serious?"
Cardiothoracic. Elizabeth was talking about the fellowship he had offered. Robert knew she wouldn't be able to refuse it as a backup, but he hadn't expected her to move that quickly on it.
"Yes. I didn't think Cardiothoracic interested you, though."
"I..." Elizabeth struggled to find the words, her intent demeanor crumbling the moment he questioned her. "I don't have many options if I want to stay on at County and..." a great sigh escaped her, and the strong facade Elizabeth presented began to crumble. "I've had a far worse evening than you can imagine." It came out in a rush, and her actions followed suit. In the middle of the hallway, she was reaching for him, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face into his neck, seeking comfort.
All Robert could do was pull her close, all the while looking around to make sure they weren't seen. The last thing he wanted was to cause trouble for her. All Robert wanted to do was hold her and make everything better, but he didn't even know what else had happened.
"Lizzy, honey, what's wrong. This isn't the kind of reaction I expected about the fellowship." She pulled away ever so slightly at his words, just enough to look at him as she spoke.
"No. Something...something happened after, and I just.. I just want you to make it all better."
He could do that. Happily, whatever Elizabeth needed, Robert would do.
"When do you get off?"
"I've got another hour to go."
"Honey, I'm off now. Just leave with me. If anyone gives you grief over leaving early, I'm sure Anspaugh owes you a favor or two for helping with all of the Surgery admin. Let me take care of you." To Robert's delight, she smiled at his suggestion and didn't hesitate before nodding in agreement.
It had taken time for them to change out of their scrubs, but Robert had managed to get them out of the hospital promptly. They had their last patient to check on before leaving, it was still early, but it looked like she might be permanently paralyzed—another thing to add to the list of bad things that happened this evening. The outcome of the evening was finally in Robert's control, though, as he pulled up to the house. His house. With his Lizzy in the car. She had been silent the entire drive, never once questioning where he was taking her. Robert's plan went as far as the mango sorbet in the freezer, a glass of wine, and plenty of Gretel love until he could figure out what else had happened.
Gretel was awake and thrilled to find that it wasn't just Robert walking through the door. Robert was pleased to see that Elizabeth had instantly perked up at Gretel's enthusiastic greeting; she really was a dog person. He took her through to the lounge and had her curl up on the couch while he went into the kitchen for bad mood snacks. When he reentered the lounge, Robert found Elizabeth seared on the floor and leaning against the couch with Gretel's head in her lap.
"Hey. Are those for me?" Elizabeth asked, looking up to see his hands full with wine and sorbet.
"No, Lizzy, these are for Gretel, she's had a long day without me."
He walked a crossed the room and sat down on the couch, and passed her the wine and sorbet. Elizabeth dug in whole Gretel made a face that stated plainly, 'Dad, where is my snack?'. Robert had a milk bone in his pocket for that particular look.
"So, do you want to tell me what else happens today? I can always pile you with chocolate if you don't."
There was a long silence as Elizabeth dug into the sorbet, her appetite for it indicating it wouldn't last long. Robert was content to wait in silence while she took out her frustrations on the sweet treat and wine, though. Roughly half of the pint was gone when she finally spoke.
Mark Greene was her topic of conversation. A man that she thought she was becoming friends with, partially due to her friendship with Carol Hathaway. At some point, Greene had taken an interest in her. Robert couldn't blame him for having an intelligent thought once in a while, but he wasn't surprised. He had, after all, cornered Greene on the very topic not long ago. Robert was surprised to find that Greene had tried flirting with her and then decided that tonight of all nights was the perfect time to be more forward in his interest. "I wanted you, but I'm not really objective."
Robert wanted to hit the man, but a black belt surgeon against a weak chinned ER doc was hardly a fair fight. All he could think was how dare Greene corner Elizabeth when she was feeling horrible and all but tell her that he voted for her because he found attractive. We're those his words? No. Was that the meaning he meant to convey? Yes. An ugly and protective side of Robert came out at it, one Robert did not realize existed. He wanted to hit Greene for making Elizabeth feel worthless after losing the fellowship to her ex. A bubbling rage was forming in him as she spoke, describing all the little ways Greene had been flirting with her, cumulating in the unwelcome conversation tonight. Elizabeth had thought that he had taken the hint when she had declined to spend time with him outside of work on several occasions, putting him in the inept cans harmless male friend category. She felt it was a slap in the face to learn that the only person who voted for her had ulterior motives.
At some point, she ran out of steam, having polished off her sorbet and wine. Physical and emotionally exhausted, Elizabeth leaned into him for support and rested her head against his knee. Gretel had long since drifted off to sleep with Elizabeth, gently stroking her head. The two of them on the floor together warmed Robert's heart. His Lizzy fit so well in his life that at that moment, Robert knew he was dangerously close to losing his heart to her.
The silence that had settled throughout the room was punctuated by Roberts yawn. It was late, well after midnight, and Elizabeth had stirred at his yawn.
"I should go, it's late." Elizabeth got up, trying not to disturb Gretel as she stood. "I need to call a cab." Robert stood up at that, not wanting her to leave.
"Stay." He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close. "It's late enough as it is. You won't get to bed until at least two if you have to call and wait for a cab."
Elizabeth had placed her arms around his neck and had begun to gently stroke the delicate skin there. Her hands and her face were at opposite ends of her emotion spectrum, though, with Elizabeth's face showing how uncomfortable she was with Robert's suggestion.
"Robert, I, "she looked away, trying to find the right words, "I uh-" Robert had started smiling at her, and the slightest hint of a laugh escaped him. "Hey! You're laughing at me." Elizabeth tried to pull away from him, but Robert held her tight with one arm and brought his free hand to caress her cheek.
"Elizabeth, relax, it's not that kind of night. And I didn't mean to laugh at you; you just looked a little too awkward trying to find the right words, adorably, of course." Thankfully Elizabeth smiled and leaned in to kiss him. "I just want you to stay, nothing more, nothing less. I'll even promise to behave. Let me take care of you, Elizabeth."
For a moment, she was silent, and she held him in her penetrating gaze, trying to determine his sincerity.
"Alright." It was quiet enough that Robert almost missed it, when he realized what she said, he kissed her quickly before pulling her closer and nuzzling his face into her neck.
Robert "Rocket" Romano had shared his bed with women on many occasions, but never did he imagine that the most intimate night would be spent sex free. Elizabeth wasn't clad in any delightful lingerie, just a pair of borrowed pajama pants and one of his "Rocket" scrub tops, and she was all the more beautiful for it. Robert lay awake for a while after Elizabeth dozed off, arms wrapped around him and her head resting on his chest, contemplating how extraordinarily happy he was. He would give anything to fall asleep with her every night and wake up with her every morning.