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by Revan


Copyright: This story is copyrighted to the author © November 1999 by Revan. Do not use any part of this story without my written permission. Contact: Revan3@hotmail.com

Disclaimers: This was written as a genre piece. It is an uber/alt novel. If you don’t know what that means you will miss the inside jokes, but I hope you will enjoy the story regardless. Those who do know may recognize two strong characters who meet in conflict, but find the paths of their lives crossing again and again. I wanted to explore what would happen if one were confronted with a second soulmate within one lifetime. In this incarnation, our friends are equal in age and status, but have followed different career tracks, reflecting their differing personalities. The characters are mine; the city and the setting are as real as I could make them. My world lacks guns, prisons, illegal drugs, military pilots, filmmakers, millionaire corporate executives, and subtropical weather. Since I enjoyed entering these other worlds, however, thanks to some wonderful stories, I decided to write about what I know, which has its own brand of drama. The resemblance to any person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The fact that my eyes are green and that I’ve done my share of martial arts is also coincidence; one of my characters needed these attributes to meet the requirements of the genre. However, I would never ride a motorcycle after what I’ve seen in the EW. The clinical situations are taken from my own experience but have been radically changed to protect patient confidentiality. There is a moderate amount of profanity, and there are sexual situations involving characters of the same gender. If this is not what you wish to read, or illegal where you live, please read no further.

Many, many thanks to my beta readers, Debbe, Glor and especially Ann for their enthusiasm and advice. Thanks are also due to Sharon Bowers for permission to use her famous line from Lucifer Rising, and to Llachlan for permission to borrow Reed Lewis from Silent Legacy.

This is for G., with love, always.

Comments are welcomed at Revan3@hotmail.com






"This is the third time you’ve asked me that, each time in a different way. Don’t think I haven’t noticed!"

The small woman sitting at the side of the hospital bed grinned at her patient. "I can’t put anything over on you, can I, Mrs. Fiorelli?"

"You never could, dear... Why I’ve put up with you all these years is beyond me."

Green eyes sparkled. "You think I don’t know? It’s because you’ve never thought I had a decent haircut, and you still want to get me into one of your chairs."

"No, I promised you a complete makeover. So...swear to me that you’ll come by when all this is over? I’ll open the shop just for you." The elderly woman’s voice was light, the undercurrent of fear barely noticeable.

"You’re on. So...have the surgical doctors been good to you? Sometimes they can be...challenged...in their bedside manner." The blond doctor reached out and held her patient’s hand.

"Oh, they’ve been fine, especially the Chief...sat for a long time and told me what to expect. What a nice person. And the nurses are all wonderful."

"Well then, I’ll come by the ICU later today and see you after your surgery." Her voice became serious again. "Now, you’re sure that you don’t want..."

The grey-haired woman interrupted. "Not a fourth time!"

Her doctor paused. "It’s my job."

"And you’re doing a good one, too. I talked it all over with my two daughters before I came in this time. No tube, no shock thing for my heart, niente! Never wanted it, never will. And I do understand." She gave the doctor a mock glare.

The internist held up her hands in surrender. "OK...OK. And I sure need that makeover. Maybe it’ll jumpstart my lovelife." She grinned at her old friend, gave the hand one last squeeze, and escaped before damp eyes betrayed her.

Shit. Those surgeons better do a good job. She found the chart...6A, Fiorelli, West Surg...and started writing. She put down the details of their conversation, noted that the patient was DNR--do not resuscitate--and entered the order. Thank god I started talking to her about this months ago.

"Hey, Dr. Mallory, what are you doing here so early?"

Bryn looked up from her note. It was Cameron Miller, the first year clinical Infectious Disease fellow who was working with her this month. How can he be so...perky...at 7:15 in the damn morning? And if he doesn’t stop calling me Dr. Mallory, I’m gonna kill him.

Still, the slim, bespectacled guy, so quintessentially Midwestern, had retained his enthusiasm even after five months of doing ID consults, so Bryn gave him a smile. "Cam, how many times have I warned you? Call me Bryn...you’re making me feel too damn old."

He grinned, untroubled. "Habit. No one dared to call the attendings by their first name at the University of Chicago." He glanced at the chart she was writing in. "Fiorelli? Is that a new consult? Nobody called me..."

Christ. He thinks I’m butting in, doing his work for him. "No, she’s a clinic patient of mine. I just wanted to see her before she went to the OR this morning."

"A clinic patient? You told me you were a lab person...I didn’t know you saw folks in the ID clinic, too."

"You’re right, I don’t." Bryn finished the last sentence and signed her name. "I kept three or four people from my internal medicine residency days...clinic patients that I just couldn’t bear to say goodbye to." She motioned to the chart. "Mrs. Fiorelli’s seventy-five now. She used to run a beauty shop, kept hounding me to come and get my hair cut there. I told her I wanted the full makeover, it was our running joke...anyway, her leg pain got so bad she couldn’t stand at the chairs anymore, and when I worked it up we found out she has this enormous abdominal aneurysm that’s ready to explode. So here she is. The vascular guys are all over her...she’s got heart disease, too, so it’ll be touch and go."

Cam grimaced. "I thought that’s why we became subspecialists, to avoid managing these messes."

Bryn smiled. "It’s not so bad when I’m on the clinical service, like now, but it’s a real dog show when I’m in the lab...the clinical stuff can eat up the whole day." She looked at her list. "So...we’ve got Good and Bowers on this floor...let’s each take one and then I’ll start doing the follow-ups from the top of the list today, OK?"

"Fine." Cam thought for a moment. "Good’s the old gome with the pneumonia; if he didn’t have a fever overnight they’ll want to ship him back to his nursing home today, they’re freaked he might lose his bed."

"Right, I’ll see him so we can bill before he leaves," the blond internist decided. "Bowers is the one with the infection of her left total hip replacement, right? Anything growing yet?"

"No, not yet...I’ll swing by Micro later and take another look at the culture plates. Rounds at two o’clock?" At Bryn’s nod, Cam pulled out Bowers’s chart and moved down the hall.

Bryn closed Mrs. Fiorelli’s chart and tried to think lucky thoughts at it before she stuck it back in the rack. Magical thinking, the best part of medicine. She pulled out Good’s, just before the entire rack was wheeled away by an exhausted-looking surgical intern.

When’s the last time I’ve been here early enough to catch the surgeons rounding? thought Bryn. Six a.m. rounds...what a fucked-up life.

Room 14 held Mr. Good and another equally ancient, toothless old man. Well aren’t you two a pair. A quick scan of the temperature chart showed that Mr. Good was, indeed, ready to be launched. Let’s hear it for antibiotics.

"Hey, Mr. Good, it’s Dr. Mallory from the Infectious Disease service. How are you this morning?" She knew that she wouldn’t get any answer. The nurse’s notes always had him as ‘alert and oriented.’ Right. She scowled, propping him up with one muscular arm, extricating the stethoscope from around her neck and listening to his lungs and heart. He moaned.

Well, I could hear that, at least. She lay him back down and studied the blank face.

"Looks like we can get you off those IVs and onto some pills instead, Mr. Good. I’ll let your doctors here on the floor know that you’re ready to leave from our point of view." Her speech was met with resounding silence and no change in the slack-jawed face. Bryn sighed.

She washed her hands at the sink outside the door, trying to scrub away her slight depression. Glad I helped Mr. Good so much. She sat back down at the nurses’ station with the chart to write her note and, most importantly from the ID Division’s point of view, to bill.

She barely registered the surgeons as they made their way down the hall on their rounds. It was almost 7:30 and the ward was coming to life with the extra bodies from the change in nurse’s shifts and physicians starting their day. She half-heard a heated exchange, a low voice and angry words.

The phrase ‘DNR’ worked its way into her consciousness. Whoops.

"Who wrote this note?" came out in a growl seemingly deep enough to shake the charts off the table.

"I did." Bryn continued writing. She had a sudden vision of a storm about to break directly over her head. She swiveled her chair around and looked up to see a tall surgeon in wrinkled scrubs striding towards her.

"Who. Are. You?"

Each word was like a scalpel blade, spoken in the richest, deepest, most intimidating voice Bryn had ever heard. She was suddenly, inexplicably, frightened. She swallowed, feeling her heartrate increase, and knowing that her voice, as usual, was going to reveal her lack of confidence. Damn.

She looked up...and her hazel eyes met deep, blue pools, which suddenly sparked with a golden streak. Uncannily, those eyes reached straight into her heart and pulled out through the jagged rift a soul that she didn’t even know existed.

She uncoiled from the chair and rose, a good head shorter than the towering presence above her, but no longer intimidated. A slow, almost sexy smile flickered over her lips. "Who wants to know?"

The golden streak was gone, replaced by a core of glacial ice. "I’m head of this team. You wrote a DNR order on my patient. Care to explain?"

Bryn cocked her head. "Nah...not really."

There was a pause, then the words came back, soft and very, very dangerous. "Pardon me?"

The blond gave a slight shrug. "I don’t want to explain...but I will if you need me to."

The surgeon’s response was impassive. "Perhaps you’d better."

"Mrs. Fiorelli doesn’t want to be intubated or cardioverted in the event of a cardiac arrest." Whoa. Why am I being so damn condescending?

The surgeon’s gaze was stony. "I understood that part. What you need to know is that nobody writes orders on my patients without my consent."

Bryn raised an eyebrow. "I referred her to the surgical service."

The taller doctor’s calm hid what Bryn sensed was a mounting fury. "She’s my patient."

Bryn mixed anger with amusement as she stepped close to the surgeon, pitching her voice low so that her words wouldn’t be overheard. "I did what needed to be done to take care of Mrs. Fiorelli. I’ve been her primary care doctor for almost ten years...she’s shared her dreams and fears with me. My guess is you wouldn’t know a damn thing about that if it came and bit you on the ass."

Angry, almost violent eyes flashed back, but the return voice was for her alone.

"You can’t do this."

"Guess again." Where was this arrogance coming from? She ticked the list off on her fingers. "I outrank you in title, years, and experience. About the only thing you have that outmeasures me is your swollen head and your cup size." Jesus, that was...

Bryn wasn’t sure if the surgeon was going to kill her or...laugh.

"This won’t end here..." blue eyes flicked to the ID badge "...Bronwyn." Lips curled at the archaic name.

The blond looked up. "My friends call me Bryn." She paused. "You can call me Dr. Mallory."

Wow, thought Bryn into the silence, that must be the first damn time I ever got in the last word. She turned, sat down, and resumed working on her abandoned consult note. It was only when she felt a vacuum behind her and heard the clatter of the surgical team’s departure that she let her head sink into her hands.

"Well, that was something." The head nurse, who Bryn recognized from her residency days, slid into the chair next to her.

Bryn looked at her sideways, suddenly ashamed. "I’m sorry. I was way out of line, having an argument like that out here where patients and visitors can..."

The nurse dismissed her with a wave. "Couldn’t hear a word you two said. But...that’s the most fun we’ve had in weeks. And it’s about time..." she glanced meaningfully at the backs of the departing surgical team as they swarmed down the hall.

"Yeah?" Bryn was intrigued. "So...who won?"

"You did, just by standing up to her. She’s got that team of hers so pussy-whipped..."

Bryn raised an eyebrow. Guess she wasn’t the only one ready to vent a little today. "Bitch," she hissed. "I hate the fucking surgeons with their superiority attitude." Her head sunk down on her hands again and she groaned. "Sorry, I try not to talk like that in the hospital...I don’t know what’s come over me today."

The nurse gave her an appraising glance. "You’ve sure changed since you were a medical intern up here. I seem to remember a very quiet, pleasant young girl."

"Amazing what ten years in this place will do to you," agreed Bryn. "So," reminding herself with a glance at the nametag, "...Lisa, who’s my new enemy?"

Lisa paused, as if deciding where to begin. "That was Dana Sanders, this year’s Chief Resident for West Surg. And God’s gift to mankind, to hear her team talk. She’s good...really good...and her team walks around like they’re the damn Green Berets because they know with her around there won’t be any mistakes...and she’ll make them all better. And she does. Dana’s boys."

Bryn thought that over. "That doesn’t sound so bad." And doesn’t explain the force of nature that just blew out of here. "Where’s the catch?"

"There isn’t one, actually." Lisa’s eyes scanned the room. "She’s the best surgeon...maybe even the best doctor...I’ve seen here." Her eyes met Bryn’s, acknowledging the magnitude of her words. "But she works insanely hard, and if you’re not doing the same and something fucks up...you’ll find the dragon lady breathing down your neck, big time. I’m surprised that there aren’t a few singed hairs on you."

Bryn laughed. "That’s because I was doing the right thing."

Lisa cocked her head. "Well, she didn’t cancel your DNR order, that’s for sure." She started to get up from the chair. "Her patients love her...god knows why, as she never spares a word for any of us. Half the staff here are ready to kiss you for sticking it to her." She smiled and returned to the main desk.

Better watch out, I just might kiss them back. Bryn let herself enjoy the thought for a moment before turning back to her half-written note. She stared at the sheet for a few seconds, realizing that she had no memory of this patient’s exam. Lungs--they were clear, weren’t they? Hell, had she even listened?

That wasn’t just her bad girl persona who had shown up, but someone different...someone who knew exactly how to handle that living force called...Dana Sanders.

Bryn was struck with a powerful realization.

That was fun.




The rest of the morning found Bryn working her way down the follow-up list. We’ve got to sign off some more of these patients...there’s too damn many on the team. Good’s gone...that’s one. Time for me to slash and burn.

She walked up five flights to the Neuro ICU. She always got a workout when she was doing one of her two months a year on the clinical Infectious Disease service, as she was constantly on her feet, walking from floor to floor in the huge hospital, examining patients, checking labs, writing notes. And billing. Don’t forget the damn billing.

The secretary buzzed her into the unit. Bryn was never entirely sure why she liked seeing patients up there; maybe it was because there were always so many needing ID consults, so she had a chance to get to know the staff on the floor that month, and they got to know her. It certainly made for a better working relationship; a lot more things got handled face-to-face, rather than through the charts.

Gee...I had a productive face-to-face conversation this morning, now, didn’t I? She cringed, still puzzled by her uncharacteristic outburst.

I do sort of like the NICU, though; God knows, it’s not because I can talk to the patients. They’re all so damn sick.

She could see why some of the staff found the neuro ICU to be depressing; the patients all had severe brain problems, which often cut right to the heart of their caregivers’ deepest insecurities and fears. She looked at her list. At the moment, they were following four patients in the ICU, and had another three that had initially been seen there but were still having fevers on the regular floor.

"Hi, Bryn." She looked up to see Deirdre McKenzie walking towards her. The redhead had been in her internship class, doing a preliminary internal medicine year before a neurology residency. Now she was an expert on the management of acute strokes, and was the November attending in the NICU.

"Hey, Dee...what do you have for me? Any excitement overnight?"

"Yeah, but not on your patients...at least, not yet, right?" They laughed. "Actually...you have James--or is that the other ID team?"

"No, that’s us...I think I’m practically your personal ID attending this month."

"Well, nobody here’s complaining about that...you actually talk to us. Can’t say the same for the neurosurgeons. So...Ms. James has a new rash, and her fever’s up again...she just had a chest X-ray, and I have urine, blood, sputum off...just let me know what you want, OK?"

"Don’t I have you trained." They grinned at each other. Bryn checked her list. "Mr. Maas’s arterial line is growing some Gram-positive cocci...but you’ve already taken out that line, and he’s been afebrile, so try to keep your guys from obsessing over the culture, OK?"

"Sure. I’ll be here...grab me when you’re done."

Bryn went and found James’ chart. Sad case. She was a young woman--a kid, really-- who had severe head injuries during a MVA--a motor vehicle accident. Her fever had been as high as 105, likely because of the blood in her brain, but she was on antibiotics while she still had the pressure monitor in place. Bryn was watching for other possible infectious causes.

A new rash. She went into the patient’s room. Well, no doubt about that. Ms. James was red and blotchy just about everywhere. Drug. She flipped open the flow chart and ran through the meds.

Either the nafcillin...or the dilantin.

She moved over to the patient. "Hi, Ms. James, it’s Dr. Mallory from ID. I’m just going to examine you." The nurse who was adjusting the IVs nodded to her, and moved out of the way. Someday James’ll answer me. Bryn had been astounded by how some--particularly young--people could recover from head trauma. She always spoke to every patient.

At least they don’t talk back to me. She was still thinking about the fight that morning. Come on, get over it. She shook her head and finished the exam, then washed her hands and sat down outside the room to write her suggestions in the chart.

Her beeper went off. 8-2967; her lab. Huh. Wonder what Ellen wants? There hadn’t been any problems when she had swung by her lab earlier in the morning...everything was crawling along, slowly as usual. Right now, her research life seemed like a different universe.

Ellen’s cheerful voice came through the receiver. The world’s best tech. I’m gonna kill myself when she leaves for med school. "Hey, it’s Bryn. What’s up?"

"Hey, Bryn, you asked me to remind you that you had a staff meeting at 12:30 today."

Fuck. Bryn looked at her watch. 12:20. "God, thanks, I would have forgotten, again." They both laughed. She always forgot.

The blond picked up her papers and stethoscope and headed to the elevators. Need to grab some lunch so at least it won’t be a total waste of time. Usually she didn’t mind the monthly ID Division staff meetings, but she always felt weighed down by enormous time pressure when she was on the clinical service. I’m never going to get enough followups done before I have to start seeing the new consults. Maybe there wouldn’t be too many new ones.

Yeah, fat chance of that.

Ten minutes later found her stuck in the basement, waiting for the excruciatingly slow elevator to arrive. Well, nobody’s ever on time for these damn meetings, anyway. Bryn scanned her tray. Two pieces of pizza and a large coffee. So healthy. I’ll pay for this at the gym tonight...if I can get out of here before eight. She knew that would never happen.

Glumly, she poked the up button, again. The elevator finally arrived.

"Come on," she bitched, poking at the ninth floor button, which finally turned a reassuring green.

Her fellow passenger, a grizzled man wearing a Buildings and Grounds uniform chuckled sympathetically. "When they built these elevators they said, ‘Let’s make these buttons easy to push.’"

"Right," said Bryn. "I’ve been here ten years and they’re still a pain in the ass."

The doors opened on the ground floor and the maintenance man got off, his departing chuckle lifting Bryn’s mood slightly. Well, at least I made someone’s day.

Finally arriving at the ninth floor, she entered the conference room only five minutes late, to find that she was the second one there--the third, if you counted the Division Chairman. Typical. Feeling unusually antisocial, she found a seat as far from the Chairman as possible, and took a bite of the pizza. Might as well just stuff this pepperoni into my coronary arteries.

Finally, there was a quorum; Mac Hiller, the chairman, a superb clinician who did clinical HIV studies; Anthony Call, the fellowship advisor, the second-most senior member, whose lab worked on sepsis; and the usual variety of junior faculty.

Where are all other old white guys? Bryn wondered. Guess after twenty years they’ve learned to give this one a miss. I’ve got ten more years to go. She ate more pizza.

The agenda was standard; a discussion of income from the different clinical units, a review of the structure of the conferences, the latest on fellowship recruitment, new antibiotic changes on the hospital’s formulary.

"How are the clinical fellows doing? Any problems?" Mac’s eyes pinned down Bryn and Jon Saylor, the other attending on the consult service this month.

"Fine..I’m working with Cam, and he’s really good...he rounds at 7 a.m., for god’s sake. His only problem is that he’s too damn happy all the time, I can’t stand it." Bryn sipped some coffee.

Philip Waxman, across the table, laughed. "Sounds like the pot’s calling the kettle black."

"Huh?" Bryn was astounded. Did she come across as terminally cheerful, too? Sure, the fellows always seemed to like working with her, but if they only knew...

She thought back to her run-in with the surgeon that morning. Wonder what Phil would have made of that. Wouldn’t call that a happy performance.

Why did I blow up like that? It wasn’t like her to be so confrontational. She reran the scene over in her head. Wierd.

She was still puzzling over it as the meeting ended and she walked back to the main ID offices to meet Cam for their 2 p.m. rounds.

Cam chortled when she poked her head into the library. "Good news! No new ones yet so far."

"Yes!" Bryn was delighted. "Maybe we’ll have a chance to get the team under control. I think we can sign off at least three or four today. Let’s run the list." She sat down, unconsciously assuming command. "Um...Mr. Dunne?"

Their fourth year medical student, Roger something-- I never can remember their names--launched into a recitation of Mr. Dunne’s last twenty-four hours. Bryn and Cam listened with studied patience. She hated to quash the med students, but they all talked too much. Enough of this shit.

"Fine," she said finally, keeping her voice noncommittal. "Since we’ll have some time today, let’s go see his echo--it’d be good to see that aortic valve vegetation. Next?"

To Bryn’s relief, the next few patients were Cam’s. They moved quickly through the list. The fellows were happy enough to work with the blond attending because she was all business...focused on patient care, with a few clinical teaching points thrown in here and there but no long-winded lectures, and rounds weren’t endless. To the students’ delight, she didn’t have a penchant for pimping them for trivial facts, either.

"Right." They finished their twenty-second patient. "I’ll sign off of these four...that will get us under twenty, finally." Bryn smiled. "Maybe we’ll all get out of here by a decent hour tonight. We could use it after that hellish weekend."

"Yeah, what was that all about?" Cam wondered. "Did they have a clearance sale on ID consults or something? I’ve never been so slammed."

"Well," Bryn thought a moment, "it wasn’t my all-time record, but it was close. OK, let’s check those plates in Micro, look at that chest CT and the head MRIs for those neurosurg ICU patients, then go to echocardiography."

As they headed out, Bryn allowed herself to hope that she might make it to the gym, after all. God, I’d like to do something fun tonight. She could pretend she was sparring with that bitchy surgeon....yeah...punch, block, front kick-side kick combination...that would do it...knock her on her ass.

Hah. Pleased with that scenario, she led her little team down the hall.




The phone rang, jarring Bryn, swamped by the paperwork on her office desk, from her reverie. Now who the fuck... She was on edge, still worried about Mrs. Fiorelli, who she had just seen in the Recovery Room, still unconscious following her surgery. The procedure had gone well enough, but it was evident that the patient had had some episodes of cardiac failure during the operation. Here’s hoping she didn’t have an MI--a heart attack.

Bryn grabbed the receiver. "Hi, this is Bryn Mallory," she managed to say in her typical friendly cadence.

The drawl on the other end was unmistakeable. "Hey, girlfriend, what’s up?"

Bryn breathed in relief, some of the tension from the day leaving her body. "Oh man, I’m glad it’s you. I’ve had a real crap day." She broke into singsong. "Crap crap crap crap crap. So...I hope you’re going to invite me out to do something dangerous tonight."

A delighted laugh came through the line. "Well, do we have an attitude today or what?"

Bryn grimaced. "Just restless, I guess. I’ve got a real sick clinic patient in house, and can you believe that I actually had a scream fest with a surgeon right in the middle of the nurses’ station on Ellison 7?"

"You gotta be kidding me...you are going to have to tell me all the details." The woman on the other end paused. "Let’s see...did you have something in mind?"

"Well, I was about to go to the gym, but I’d be happy to be convinced otherwise." Bryn chewed on her pen, considering the options.

"What, you still do that kickboxing stuff? I don’t get it. You’re too...well, you know...for that."

"Face it," Bryn kidded back, "it’s my split personality. That half just likes being a walking cliché. And it’s Tae Kwon Do, remember? It’s an art form."

"Yeah, right. Well...I was going to suggest something sedate, but since you’re in the mood, and it’s Wednesday night, how about the Tavern? My shift in the pit is over at seven."

Bryn glanced at the clock and made some quick mental calculations. "Great, that will give me time to lose this suit and pick you up. Look for me outside the White lobby doors?"

"No problem." Bryn could hear the EW intercom in the background. "I’ll just look for the buff blond with an engine between her legs."

"Oh, you are so bad..." Bryn laughed.

There was an answering chuckle. "See you then."




Bryn felt her mood lifting as she saved her files and shut off her computer. She surveyed the disaster that was her office and shrugged, turning off the lights and closing her door. She walked through the quiet lab--her tech and post-doc had already left for the day--and locked the outer door behind her. By the time she had made it off the T and walked the twenty minutes up Concord to her apartment, she felt that her funk had disappeared.

She was surprised at the amount of mail that had been pushed through the slot and now lay in a haphazard pile at her feet. She flipped through it. Phone bill...oil bill...god, she hated the heating season...

Her eyebrow shot up. Christmas cards, already? Who was so anal that they sent their cards out before Thanksgiving? Had to be the Ragson’s...yup. She surveyed the return address. They’re always first, every year. Pretty soon, they’ll be mailing them out on Halloween.

At least she didn’t have to send cards...only grownups did that.

She tossed the pile onto the long table in the hallway and made her way toward the bedroom. It had been five years now that she had been in this apartment, and it truly felt like home. It was getting too cluttered, though--the result of her habit of collecting stuff on all of her trips and being driven it display it all.

Well, I can at least get rid of this lamp. She flicked on the offending light, clearly the most elegant item in the whole apartment. Maureen had given it to her, and for some reason she didn’t feel like being reminded of...that.

Bryn opened the closet door, looking for clothes to fit her mood. Okay...easy. Black jeans, black silk shirt--made for her on her last trip to China--her favorite brown leather jacket, claimed after some hot bargaining in the streets of Shanghai. Driver’s license, some cash, keys, done. She examined the apparition in the mirror and nodded in approval at the bad girl who scowled back at her.

Grabbing two helmets, she was ready to find some trouble.




Dana’s beeper went off just as she pushed her way back out of the King and I restaurant with her Thai dinner in hand. 8-6995: the EW. The message on the pager’s display gave her all she needed to know; MVA going to the OR, she was needed to supervise. The senior residents were tied up with other cases.

Her sigh at not heading home was quickly dismissed as her mind was already on the upcoming challenge. She crossed over Cambridge Street and headed down North Grove with the impressive...stodgy...facade of the hospital in front of her.

Who’d have thought it ten years ago? She laughed at herself. Goddamn Chief Surgical Resident. She shook her head at what her old friends would have said. Obscenities, mostly. But...Sara would be proud...

That thought was interrupted by the loud roar of a revving motorcycle engine. Annoyed, she glanced at the idling bike with its leather-clad driver, waiting by the curb near the front doors. Damn noise pollution flicked through her mind with a trace of disgust. Not like the deep quiet of the mountains. The lights reflected off the tinted visor of the driver’s helmet and back into her eyes.

She turned, swallowed into the vastness of the lobby.




Bryn had managed to flip her visor down the moment she had recognized the long legs and black hair coming towards her in the rear-view mirror. Invisible, she was able to study the surgeon in a way that had escaped her during their confrontation that morning.

Jesus, she’s...beautiful. The tall resident’s face was almost gaunt, with elegant planes highlighting each feature. Her hair was outrageously black, hanging loosely below her shoulders. She moved with an animal’s grace, all controlled power, with an unconscious hint of a swagger.

Bryn revved the engine, and perversely enjoyed the annoyed look that it produced.

"Anybody home?" was accompanied by a knock on her visor. Bryn jumped.

Cassie slid into place behind her. "So, feeling better?" Her eyes followed Bryn’s toward the tall form striding through the doors. "Ah, the Dragon Lady."

Bryn’s shoulders jerked. "Remember what I said about having a fight with a surgeon this morning?" She nodded towards the door. "That’s the one."

Cassie snickered. "And you’re still alive to tell about it? Now I really can’t wait to hear the story. That one’s already a legend."

"Yeah..." Bryn answered absently, her eyes still on the door. "It was fun."

Cassie slapped her on the shoulder. "Oh, no, girlfriend, no no no." The brunette leaned forward. "Don’t even think about it. She’s definitely not your type. She’s the farthest thing from a people person as you can get and still be human, know what I mean? I’ve worked with her in that EW for five years and the most personal thing I know about her is her first name, and that’s on her ID badge."

Bryn pushed up her visor and smiled at her friend. "Great bod, though."

The EW nurse laughed. "Glad to see the attitude’s still there. Let’s get outta here."




Bryn felt the deep thud of the music in her bones as they neared the door. She had always liked the Tavern, especially on Wednesdays when it was particularly friendly to patrons of her gender. Her eyes took in the slim form of the brunette beside her. She had worked with the EW nurse for four years during her rotations in the pit as a resident and fellow, but had only really gotten to know Cassie after they recognized each other during a chance encounter at a downtown bar. Given the particular night, and the particular establishment, it was clear that they shared more than just a place of work. But...not enough to become intimate. Still, Cass was a good companion for nights like these, and the two of them made a striking pair, often drawing out eager hunters...or perhaps prey.

They found a table, and Bryn collapsed happily into the beat-up wooden chair. "Beer," she said to Cassie’s questioning look, and the nurse nodded and made her way to the bar, already several deep.

It’s packed tonight, Bree noted absently. Now...how do I get Cass to tell me more about that surgeon?

She was still working on this when Cassie returned with their drinks. The nurse slid into the chair across from her, clearly broadcasting with her body language that the two of them, though sharing a table, were not together...and she was available. Bryn grinned to herself at the old game.

"So," she began, deciding to be direct, "I’m still obsessed with the Dragon Lady. Tell me more."

Cassie shot her a look. "I didn’t know you were into pain. You really looking for a relationship based on yelling?"

Bryn grimaced. "That bad, eh?"

"Drop it," advised Cassie. "Face it, you’re really just a sweet kid who likes to dress up in bad girl clothes. She’s the type who will slice up your heart into little pieces and laugh as you bleed out."

"Sounds like fun," Bryn noted, with a good helping of irony. She looked at her beer. "What..."

Her question was interrupted by the appearance of a tall blond with gorgeous curls who had wrapped her arm around Cassie’s shoulders.

"So, I was hoping to see you again this week."

"Hey, Corinne," breathed the nurse. "Are you going to ask me to dance?"

"Sure am." The blond glanced at Bryn. "That is, if your friend over there doesn’t mind."

Bryn gave a small shake of her head and dismissed them with her hand. She took a swallow of her drink as her eyes watched the two women make their way down to the dance floor. So that’s why Cass was so eager to come here tonight. Figures.

She scanned the room, then closed her eyes, shutting out the harsh lights, the din of voices and the pound of the music. To her amusement, the vision of icy blue eyes and thick black hair was much more enjoyable than anything actually available in the flesh.

She spent only a few moments playing with the image until she realized that she was becoming aroused. Wow...when’s the last time that happened? She sat up and shook off the sensation.

"You know, you shouldn’t drink alone," said a husky voice in her ear. Bryn opened her eyes wide enough to observe that the chair next to her was now occupied.

"Not tonight," she said, working to keep the irritation out of her delivery. The woman disappeared, annoyed.

OK, Bryn, she thought, twenty minutes later. You’ve had another beer and blown off two more potential interests. This just isn’t working for you. She extricated herself from the chair, shrugged on her jacket, and went in search of Cassie.

There...by the bar. Definitely getting close to Curly Hair. Bryn pushed though the crowd, ignoring the complaints. "Hey Cass, I’m leaving...you going to be OK?"

Cassie gave her a grin, reeking of stronger stuff than beer. "Yeah..." She bent close to the blond. "You going home with someone?"

Inexplicably, Bryn felt happy. "Yes...actually, yes I am."

"Well, good for you, girlfriend." Cassie gave her a small pat and leaned back toward her new friend. "See you in the pit sometime."





Continued in Part 2

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