Credit for this goes to Ilikebigficsicannotlie...I asked her to challenge me to 'write' a wrong and she chose Season Four, Episode ten, "Do you see what I see?"
If you like it and feel like challenging, drop me a direct message or in a review and I'll see what I can do….
Do You See What I See?
Robert Romano stood underneath the powerful jet and tried to relax as the hot water cascaded down around him, washing away the days grime. He closed his eyes and raised them upwards directly into the spray and felt his mood lift slightly. Dropping his head back down, he rotated his neck and shoulders as he placed his hands against the shower wall and leaned his weight against it. Welcoming the soothing relief it brought to his stiff muscles, he stood like that for another full minute enjoying the relative peace, but knowing he couldn't hide under there forever without soon resembling a raisin. Regretfully, he turned off the water supply and reached for the towel.
Patting himself down, he finished drying himself off and wrapped the towel around his waist as he walked to his locker. When he opened the door he caught his reflection in the small mirror he kept there and stared back at himself. Okay he thought; so the face looking back at him may not exactly be Hollywood leading man material, but considering the long week he'd had...no, make that the long year...he didn't think he looked too bad. Tired, yes, but not too shabby. This Christmas break couldn't have come at a better time for him really. He desperately needed this; needed time off to decompress and have some fun...see his friends and family and tonight's Christmas party was certainly going to kick off the fun part. He fully intended to enjoy himself and reached inside the locker for the bottle of cologne he kept there, splashing some into his hands before patting the woody scent over his cheeks and neck. Feeling better, he glanced at himself in the mirror again and grinned. The grin turned into a full on smile as his eyes drifted across to the photograph he kept tucked next to the mirror. It showed himself standing next to Elizabeth Corday and had been taken shortly after their first ever surgery together in London. They were both smiling, and looked relaxed after what had been a long but successful procedure.
From the very first moment he'd laid eyes upon her beautiful face he'd known he was in trouble, and true to form, he'd fallen hard for her. Elizabeth Corday had unwittingly stolen his heart away from him, and yet...annoyingly, despite his best efforts...still remained a complete and utter enigma to him. Sure he'd managed to tempt her away from her little isle to the good ole U.S of A, but recently she'd veered away from his chosen path for them, instead choosing to walk her own…and of late, he couldn't seem to get on the right side of her for love nor money.
Every time he opened his mouth these days, he seemed to say the wrong thing and kept receiving short shift back in spades. Take today for example. The day had started well enough. He'd gallantly lugged her travel bags for her, nearly earning himself a hernia in the process...I mean, sweet Jesus, that woman does not travel light. He'd surprised her with the Beaumont surgery, the case that he knew was close to her heart. He suspected she blamed herself for putting the patient into a coma, and had thought that pushing on with the treatment would make her feel a little better. That it would give her a small sense of progress, of hope – it was the best gift he could think of to give her. To send her on her Christmas holidays feeling better about herself. When he'd tried to broach the subject with her in the O.R, she'd basically shut him down. Not only shut him down, but turned on him, like he didn't care, so long as he got to start his vacation feeling better about himself. He didn't get it and she clearly didn't get him.
He'd thought bringing her to America would've brought them closer together. Well that's what he'd hoped for if he was honest, but of late she'd definitely been more aloof around him. When they'd met in London she'd been genuinely excited to be around him, and eager to listen to his stories. He didn't want to use the word sycophantic, but she'd definitely been deferential towards him, and he did admit to having felt his ego stroked at the time. That had continued for at least a few weeks after they'd got to County, but then she'd found her feet, her independence and she'd definitely starting pulling away from him. He could feel it. In the way she spoke to him, the way she acted around him. Definitely less deferential.
If he'd had a plan bringing her here, well it certainly wasn't going to plan! He sensed things had started to sour a little when he'd bought Benton into the team. Somehow that had thrown the dynamic. He knew the competition that Benton brought wouldn't trouble her, so what the hell was it?
He shook his head in frustration and got himself dressed, determined to try and put her out off his mind and focus instead on tonight. He had Tom's Christmas party at the Prudential Building to look forward to and that meant good food and fine Champagne. Plus he was guaranteed to find himself some female company there...just not the female he wanted. 'Get out of my head Corday,' he muttered to himself, and left the changing room, heading straight to his office to pick up his coat. Once he'd got it, he confirmed his diary with Brenda and wished her happy holidays. He said goodnight and started for the elevator. He was adjusting his wrist watch when he happened to look up, and there she was...standing there, right outside of the SICU looking beautiful as always.
"Lizzie?" he spoke, unable to keep the quiet incredulous sound from his voice.
Upon hearing her name, she looked up and met his curious eyes. All resolve to put her out of his head evaporated in a flash of teeth as she smiled warmly at him and he felt his mouth mirror hers.
"I thought you'd be somewhere over the Atlantic by now," he queried.
"Errr, slight change of plans," she drawled out neutrally.
Oh God, he heard himself groan. Please don't let this be my fault! "I didn't make you miss your flight, did I?" he asked, going for concerned neutrality.
"No, no," she sighed, shaking her head side to side. "I just decided I'll be spending Christmas in Chicago after all."
Well okay, that was a giant curveball he did not see coming! He swallowed down his gulp of excitement and managed to whisper out a quiet, "Awesome." The question of why she was staying flashed across his mind but he chose to ignore it, hoping instead to capitalise on this latest twist of fate.
"I'm on my way to a Christmas party," he began, opening up his jacket to reveal his seasonally decorated matching suspenders and tie. To top off the manoeuvre he flashed her a charming smile and it worked...she actually smiled and laughed. A full on throaty laugh coupled with an amused toss of her head causing her curls to bounce. Feeling emboldened he thought he'd chance it further and walked around the desk to stand next to her. "Yeah, a friend of mine is renting out the entire top floor of the Prudential building. You errr, want to come along?" he asked smoothly, while his mind screamed 'Say yes, say yes, say yes!'
She eyed him carefully and shook her head, but at least the smile remained in place. "Thank you, but no...I'm waiting on a neck and head consult."
He tried not to let his disappointment show and sighed. "Ahhh, the Beaumont girl?" he guessed. "I heard she'd woken up."
She nodded her head confirming. "Yes, but now I'm afraid her vocal chords may be paralysed."
He tried to think of something profound to say, but instead watched with a weird surrealism as his hand drifted up and his fingers began to play with the Aids awareness ribbon on her lapel. He cursed his subconscious for so obviously wanting to touch her so badly. 'Pull yourself together Romano,' he told himself and attempted to get it together.
"Well don't hold your breath…on the consult that is," he clarified at her look of confusion. "He's probably on his way to a party somewhere himself."
"Just the same," she shrugged, her smile now fading.
"Well maybe New Years Eve?"
"Hmmm, lovely," she said, the smile now morphing into one even he could spot as fake. He was losing her and this was definitely going nowhere he reasoned, so he nodded at her, tapping his hand dismissively against the counter top. Regrettably he forced his feet to move and propelled himself away from her, before he made a bigger ass of himself. He made it as far as the elevator and pushed the call button, but couldn't resist turning to look back at her as he waited. Normally when he schmoozed a woman, it didn't take much. To be fair as soon as they learned he was a doctor and clocked the gold Rolex he didn't have to work too hard. In fact, he could usually sit back and let them do all the running after that.
The snag with Lizzie was there was no awe to be awed at when she herself was a beautiful, intelligent, talented surgeon. In fact if anyone was in awe of anybody he realised, it was actually him of her. No, if he wanted Lizzie Corday to notice him, he needed to not only up his game, but to change the whole gameplay to boot. He glanced down at his watch and looked up again as the elevator doors opened. Decision made he turned around and headed back towards her.
"Lizzie," he said, happy to hear a more confident tone back to his voice.
She turned around looking a little confused to see him again. "Did you forget something?"
He smiled at her and placed his hand over his heart. "Only my manners."
"Pardon?" she asked, clearly not following him.
He placed his coat down on top of the counter and looked up at her. "Well it would be kinda rude of me to leave you standing here all on your lonesome, while I swan off to a party knowing you've missed your flight to stay and help."
She offered no argument to contradict him so he continued. "Look Lizzie, we started this case together so I think its only fair we carry it on together...I would like to help."
"That would be marvellous, but I really wouldn't want you to miss your party," she said, sounding sceptical.
"What's a party without your wingman," he shrugged playfully and reached over the desk for the phone. "Who are you waiting on?" he pressed on, trying to reassure her.
"Dr Matheson," she answered slowly.
He couldn't believe his luck and offered up his silent thanks to Saint Jude...he knew Glenn Matheson from way back having gone through medical school together. They'd always got on well and it wouldn't be too much of an imposition to call in a favour, but if it came down to the wire, he knew he wasn't above begging if it made him look good with Lizzie. "Let me make a call and see if I can gee him along for you."
That earned him a genuine smile and she nodded her grateful thanks.
Two hours and one consult later it was confirmed that the vocal chords were indeed paralysed. Lizzie looked crushed by the news.
"Not what you wanted to hear, I know," he said as they watched Matheson walk away.
She shook her head, looking miserable. "No. I knew it was unlikely but I had hoped we'd be able to lift her sprits with some positive news."
"Well we're not finished yet," he said, trying to sound upbeat.
She stopped walking and looked at him. "Why? What are you suggesting?"
"I know a guy over at Mercy who may be able to help."
"Really?" she asked, brightening instantly.
"Yeah," he said matter of factly. "I'll ask him to take a look at her, but I doubt he'll be available until after the holidays...leave it with me, okay?"
She nodded and smiled at him gratefully. "Quite frankly Doctor Romano, that would be absolutely amazing. Alison can take all the help we can give her."
He returned her smile. "Well, its the least we can do, and I really wish you'd dispense with the formalities and call me Robert."
"Okay...well in that case," she said warmly. "Thank you, Robert."
He actually felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand up as she said his name for the first time. It rolled off her tongue like a purr and gave him goose bumps. He looked down briefly at his feet to hide his grin, but she must have mistaken it for embarrassment, and she touched his elbow for just a second in a reassuring gesture.
"No, Robert I mean it...you really didn't have to stay and help, but I'm very grateful that you did. I really do appreciate your help and I hope you know that."
His eyes stared at the spot on his arm where her fingers had briefly touched and shrugged nonchalantly as he tried to regain his composure.
"Di nada," he mumbled.
He managed to pull himself together enough and found her eyes regarding him with a hint of bemusement.
"Well, like I said. I'm really very grateful...I'm just sorry you had to change your plans for me."
"Plans change," he said, shrugging. "Especially in our line of work. Anyhow...seems only fair since I was kinda responsible for you changing yours."
"How do you mean?" she enquired.
"Well, if I hadn't sprung that surgery on you this morning, then we wouldn't have needed the consult and by now you'd be sat on a plane home, quaffing Champagne."
"That is true," she laughed. "I can't fault your logic there, but regardless I am truly sorry I made you miss your party."
"Well, if we're doing nonsensical apologies, I think I owe you one."
From her shift in body language he knew he'd surprised her, but the small smile that played at the side of her lips suddenly made him feel like human prey.
"Pray tell Robert, what on earth is it that you feel the need to apologise to me for?" she asked slowly, in that purry tone of voice that caused another attack of goose bumps to trail down his neck and beyond.
He recovered himself quickly enough and feigned bravado. "Well, for bringing you to America and basically leaving you to it."
At her raised eyebrow he continued. "I mean I brought you here, to a foreign land, a foreign city and in essence abandoned you to find your feet. I feel it wasn't very gentlemanly of me and for that I'm sorry."
"That's okay Robert," she said, clearly amused and gave him a smile that he found utterly beguiling. "I've never thought of you as a gentleman."
"Ouch," he said, playfully touching a hand over his heart. "Well in that case, it wasn't very sponsory of me then," he countered.
The smile that graced her lips took his breath away and it was all he could do, was to stand there and watch transfixed, as he watched the mirth travel all the way to her eyes and he felt himself falling. He'd thought he couldn't fall any harder for this woman and yet here he was in utter free-fall.
"Sponsory?! Is that even a word?"
"Of course it is."
She looked sceptical and he smirked. "It's American-English," he tried, and watched as she folded her arms across her chest, whilst openly laughing at him.
"When in Rome Lizzie, when in Rome," he tutted, shaking his head. He pointed a long finger up at her. "In fact this proves my point...I can help you sound more like a native."
"That's very kind of you," she scoffed. "But I think I'll stick to the Queen's English if its all the same."
"Fair enough," he shrugged, and pulled a pouty face. This was going way better than he thought it would and he actually felt himself relax in her company.
"But on a serious note, Robert," she continued. "You needn't apologise...I'm a big girl and can look after myself."
"I know that, but a more gracious sponsor would have at least checked in with you to see how you were finding it here. Have you even had a chance to explore the city for example?"
She openly giggled at that and tossed her head, lending her curls a short bouncy burst of life. "Why? Are you offering to be my tour guide?"
"If that's what you need," he grinned, before continuing in a more serious tone. "Look, I know it's belated, but I can't in all conscious leave you alone at Christmas, in a foreign land and a big city. It would be remiss of me not to look out for you. Trauma's aside, I am, or was, the reason you came here after all. And if we're going to continue working together like I hope we will, I'd also like to get to know you better. I feel we've been a little cross wired with each other of late?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, and he could almost see the proverbial cogs clicking away behind them as she considered his words. He adjusted his face to hopefully reflect his earnestness, but after a lengthy pause, he caved and nudged her. "Elizabeth?"
That caused the corners of her mouth to stretch in amusement. "Elizabeth?" she said. "Who's being formal now?"
He found her eyes with his and looked pointedly at her. "Not at all...I just wanted to convey to you that I'm serious."
He knew he'd succeeded as he watched her unfold her arms and visibly relax.
"Okay," she said. "I shall bear that in mind from now on."
"Excellent," he said, happy to be back on a level field with her. "Well, I don't know about you Lizzie, but I'm ready to get out of here. Can I offer you a ride home? Can't see you wanting to juggle all that luggage on the El!"
She grinned shaking her head. "That would be marvellous, but are you sure you don't want to try and make your party? At least try and salvage some of your evening?"
"Oh, erm...I'm not sure I want to now," he said shaking his head and she raised a curious eyebrow at him.
"By now they'll all be half cut on Christmas spirits," he explained. "It won't be pretty."
"Hah," she giggled, gracing him with a bemused smile. "Yes, it's never quite as much fun when you're the only stone cold sober one in the room is it?"
"No," he agreed, shaking his head.
"Well, how about I be your wingman then?"
"What?" he asked, surprised.
"Do you think we could still make it to your friends party? I mean, it's either that or I'll be staring at four walls with a cup a soup...as you said yourself...it would be remiss of you to leave me alone at Christmas in a big city."
He desperately tried to control the goofy grin he knew was adorning his face. Not trusting his voice, he simply offered up his elbow in response and was delighted when she latched her arm around it.