On Forgetting Ch. 08byewebie©
"What the fuck happened?" Connor demanded angrily, meeting Eamonn at the entrance to the surgical wing.
"I don't know, man," Eamonn tried to placate Connor. "She was fine and then she was almost fainting."
"Just like that? She has one of the strongest stomachs of anyone I've ever met. Surgery has never made her lose her lunch." Connor ran a hand through his hair, taking a deep breath. "I mean, she's been tired lately, but fainting?"
"Look, she's in the break room. I gave her a mug of tea and told her to stay there. She didn't seem too happy with me, for whatever reason."
"I'm not too happy with you right now," Connor growled.
Eamonn stopped before they reached the break room and snagged Connor's white coat. "Are you ok?"
Connor released an aggravated sigh. "Aside from the fact that I haven't gotten laid in a few weeks, my girlfriend doesn't remember dating me, I live in constant fear of her getting lost because she doesn't remember where we live, and I know she's holding things back from me. She seemed so content to be back at work. Do you know that she woke up screaming last week from a nightmare?" Connor stopped talking and started pacing.
Eamonn watched for a moment before speaking. "Does she know you're wound this tight?"
Connor turned sharply to face him. "If you mean, have I told her I need to get laid? No! She has enough problems as it is." Connor tried to calm himself. "I don't want to put any pressure on her. And you aren't going to tell her any of this, alright?"
"Lang, reads people like a book. I'm sure she can tell you're stressed out." Eamonn frowned slightly, "Just take care of yourself. She'll kill you if you end up sick over her." Connor's laugh was strained, but he laughed nonetheless. "Anyway, she was stubborn enough to finish out the surgery, but I'm taking her off the list for the rest of the day. And if you find out why she's so pissed off at me, let me know?"
"I'll let you know," Connor muttered and squared his shoulders before heading into the break room. His breath nearly left him when he caught sight of Laney. She had wedged herself in the corner of the window bench, her knees tucked under her chin, and her hands clutching the mug of tea. He watched her take a shaky breath and use the heel of her hand to wipe away tears. She looked defeated. God, she was crying, he cringed at the sensations it wrought in his gut.
"Laney?" She turned to face him and tried to fake a smile, failing miserably. Giving up on the smile, she sniffed and looked down at her hands, her lower lip quivering. "Oh, sweetie," he dropped onto the bench next to her and pulled the mug from her hands, setting it on a nearby table. "What happened?"
"How long was I crashing on your couch after Katie died?"
Whatever he had been expecting her to say, that wasn't it. He blinked trying to catch up to the question. "When Katie died?" he asked. She nodded. "I don't know, three weeks maybe a month. I didn't want you in your flat by yourself, Robby didn't mind you being there, and you weren't really willing to go home for a break."
She sniffed, straightening her back as if bracing herself. "What happened between me and Eamonn?"
Connor took her hands in his, running the pads of his thumbs over her knuckles. "Laney, you don't have to do this."
She gave a bittersweet smile. "I do, though." She glanced around the empty room before returning her gaze to their joined hands. "I can't imagine I took being thrown out of theatre very well."
"No, you didn't." He tugged her from the corner and wrapped her in a comforting hug. "I took you home that day. You were in shock, a violent and angry shock, but shock nonetheless. Anytime anyone got near you, you'd start yelling."
"Except me." He gave her a small smile. "You didn't talk to Eamo before the funeral, and he let you be. About a week later, he convinced me to let him come over and talk to you. I thought it was a good idea. But then you started throwing things."
Langdon frowned, "Really?"
"How does he still talk to me?"
"You guys worked things out. Not as a couple, but first to work together again, and then just socially. He's a decent guy, but he gets a little skittish around you when you're holding dishes." Connor pulled back to get a read on her face. "Is that what happened, then? You remembered Eamonn throwing you out of theatre that day?"
She nodded. "I remembered the whole miserable day."
A short laugh managed to escape him, "I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you. But it explains why Eamonn thinks you're upset with him."
"I thought I had every right to be," she muttered.
"Well, maybe you did. At least a little. You shouldn't have been running that resuss, and Eamonn knows that."
She felt a ripple of tension run through him and she raised a delicate brow. "You told him so, didn't you?"
A guilty grin spread across Connor's face. "Maybe." Langdon laughed and Connor breathed a sigh of relief. It was good to see her laugh. "Look, Eamonn took you off the surgical list for the day." He continued quickly to keep her from objecting, "Which I agree with." She frowned and nodded reluctantly. "You can go home and rest if you want. I shouldn't be late."
"No," she shook her head vehemently. "I'll be fine. I can't just go home whenever I have a bit of a rough day." She stood and collected herself, straightening her scrubs, smoothing her hair, and wiping the last traces of tears from beneath her eyes. "I'll go back to ward work for the rest of the day. Page me before you go home?"
Connor smiled warmly. "That's my girl." He gave her a quick hug and rested his hands on her shoulders.
Langdon didn't miss the pained expression that flit through his eyes. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, of course. I'm just a little tired today," he lied.
"You've been restless at night."
He plastered a reassuring smile on his face. "So have you. Take care of yourself today, alright?"
"Out of trouble, check." She watched him leave before collecting her white coat and leaving the surgical wing for the wards. It'd be a cold day in hell before she'd slink home with her tail between her legs. She didn't want to work on the wards all day, but it was better than the alternative. Langdon straightened her coat and hurried to find Eoin.
Eoin gave her a wry smile when she showed up on the ward. "Get sick of cutting so soon?"
Langdon scowled. "Very funny."
"I'm a funny guy, what can I say." He handed her a stack of charts. "Good news, I'm also busy."
"Oh, you're just peachy." She stared at the pile of paperwork.
"You love me," he grinned.
Langdon threw herself into the work, spending the day taking blood, running lines, re-charting prescriptions, re-dressing wounds, and filling in page after page of patient charts. It was tedious, necessary work, and work that she had spent much of her medical rotation slaving over. When a call came in of a report that needed to be picked up from the pathology department, she volunteered to take pick it up so Eoin could finish with his patients.
She wound her way through the maze of halls that comprised the old hospital, reaching the far basement corner where they housed the morgue, the post-mortem rooms, and the path labs. Why did every hospital put the morgue in the basement? she wondered with a shudder. She edged past the autopsy rooms with a slight frown on her face. There was something creepy about the rooms.
The door leading to pathology office cluster was ajar. She knocked and peeked her head in. "Dr. Maslow?" She heard someone in the back of the lab and stepped into the dark room. "Dr. Maslow? I'm here to pick up the path report." At the far end of the office block, she could see a light on and started to wend her way through rows of filing cabinets and specimen lined shelves. The smell of formalin was overwhelming and she wondered how anyone could work down here. It wasn't just the smell; the whole place was eerie. Who wanted to work late next to the room where bodies were dissected or remains were prepared for burial?
The sound of something clattering to the floor had her spinning. She squinted into the dark, but couldn't see any signs of movement. "Dr. Maslow?" she called again. Now she was vividly reminded why she'd hated working late on her path rotation. As interesting as the work was, the whole place gave her the heebie-jeebies.
A hand dropped down on her shoulder and she jumped, stifling a scream. She whirled, coming face to face with Paul. "Jesus, Paul!" she pressed a hand to her chest, trying calm the rapid beating of her heart. "You scared the crap out of me!"
Paul gazed down at her, his hands now shoved in the pockets of his white coat. "Sorry, I didn't realise there was anyone else down here." He scanned the room, seeing no one else in sight. "What are you doing down here?"
Langdon took a step back, Paul's proximity making her uncomfortable. "I came down to pick up a report. Have you seen Dr. Maslow?"
Paul took a step forward, closing the distance between them again. "No," he said, his voice low. "In fact, I don't think I've seen anyone around here in the past hour."
Langdon retreated another step and felt her back collide with one of the filing cabinets. "What are you doing down here, Paul?"
He took another step forward, his size dwarfing her smaller frame. "Oh, this and that. You know how it is when you're running all over the place." Langdon furrowed her brow, feeling the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
"Ms. Murphy?" a call came from the lit office.
Langdon cleared her throat and stared at Paul. "Yes, Dr. Maslow?"
"I thought I heard someone out there. Come on in, I have a report that I need you to sign off on."
Langdon inched away from Paul, backing toward the office. "I'll see you around, Paul," she said softly before turning and fleeing into the sanctity of Maslow's office.
Paul watched Langdon close the door and grumbled to himself. It unnerved him that she had surprised him again. She didn't seem to be scared of him. That was a good sign, right? If she'd remembered, she would have run like hell, right? What if she was just messing with him? What was he going to do? She had been right there, alone... He pounded his fist against his forehead. If he couldn't get the job done, he was dead. Fuck.
Langdon spent a few minutes catching up with Dr. Maslow. She had worked in his lab for a few weeks when she was trying to decide on a specialty. He was brilliant, loved his work, but it wasn't the job for her. She collected the report and was relieved to find Paul had left the offices. She had always thought of herself as a good reader of people and situations and her gut was in knots over her last interaction with Paul. Something was just off. And she rarely had such a reflexive fear of anyone. Regardless, she didn't feel comfortable until she was back on the ward brushing shoulders with Eoin.
She filed the report with the appropriate chart and resumed her work. It was later in the afternoon when Eoin dropped into a chair next to her and grimaced slightly at the dirty look she shot his way. "Hey now, I didn't tell you to come up here."
"Did you make a dent in your to-do list at all?" she asked, closing the last chart and trying to shift a kink out of her neck.
"Sure, though you may have made a bigger dent than I did. If you ever want to drop the whole surgical career, I'd welcome you to the medical any day."
"And switch to the dark side? Never," she graced him with a half smile.
"Well, if nothing else, you look better than you did earlier." He clapped her on the back. "Want to tell me about it?"
Langdon glanced at her watch, "Do you have time for a mug of tea?"
Eoin nodded and helped her return the completed charts before heading off to the canteen. He waited until they were both seated with steaming mugs of tea before asking, "So what have you been mulling over all day that's had your forehead wrinkled. I can practically hear the gears grinding from this side of the table."
"Mmmn, just a little more sarcasm to sweeten the tea there, Eoin?"
He chuckled. "Snarky, nice."
She rolled her eyes. "Are you going to be helpful or are you just going to make fun of me?"
"I'm always helpful." His blue eyes turned serious, "Lang, you know if you need something..."
"I need some advice, Eoin." She stared at the mug in her hands for a few moments, swallowing the swell of pride that was about to prevent her from asking for his help. "Look, Connor isn't talking to me. I don't know what to do. He's not sleeping, he's not eating like he should, and I'd bet money that it's worry over me."
Eoin stared blankly, blinking at her slowly blushing face. "Do you need the handcuffs again?" She turned bright red and he laughed. "Tell me something, Lang. When's the last time you two... you know?"
Langdon furrowed her brow. "The last time we what?"
His mouth drew up into a slow and menacing smile. "You know. Had sex, bumped uglies, screwed around, slept together, made love, fuck-"
"Stop!" Her face was bright red now. "I get it, Eoin. And it's been since before the accident."
"And you're wondering why he's high strung. Seriously, Lang, I thought you were smarter than that."
"It's not like I haven't been encouraging the attention, Eoin," she hissed. "He blows hot and cold all the time."
"Maybe he's gay." Eoin raised a brow and grinned.
"Oh you'd love that, wouldn't you?"
"Ha!" Eoin set a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Lang, he's straight, I promise. Otherwise, I'd be all over that. But here's the thing: are you 'encouraging attention' or are you throwing yourself at him?"
She cleared her throat nervously. "Encouraging?"
"And does that normally work with him?"
Langdon considered what she remembered of how she and Connor started dating and blushed again. "No," she muttered.
"Then you know what needs to be done." He winked at her.
She rolled her eyes. "I love that this is your solution."
"I have a feeling that he's trying to be gentle with you. He's never been able to keep his hands off of you, so let's look at it from a different perspective." Eoin laced his fingers and formed a point with his index fingers, tapping them together in thought. "If I were Connor, which I'm not, thank God... No offence. And you were 'fragile' and couldn't remember that you were dating me, the idea of sleeping with you would make me feel like I was manipulating you in some way. You know, it would make me feel a little sleezy."
"You think?" she chewed on her lower lip, contemplating Eoin's idea.
"Well," he grinned lasciviously. "I don't think I'd have a problem taking advantage of you. But Connor probably would."
Langdon laughed. "You're terrible."
"And you, chicken, are going to have to take the initiative on this one." He reached across the table and patted her arm in a comforting manner. "Take him in hand if you will."
"Enough, Eoin, I get it." She fiddled with her mug as she thought about the proposal. "So, when do I do this?"
"The sooner the better." He leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head. "Put him out of his misery, dearie. Put yourself out of your misery. If I remember correctly, you're quite the accomplished masseuse. You know what, take him away for the weekend and fuck his brains out so I don't have to see you glowing in the mornings. That would just piss me off."
Langdon broke down in a fit of giggles and Eoin was quick to join her. Connor and Lang had been his friends since they started school and it bothered him to see either one upset. Hopefully, this would help. Otherwise, he was serious about handcuffing them together again. "Eoin, you're brilliant."
"I still hate you."
"You love me and you know it."
Eoin smiled. "Yeah, I know. Can't put anything past you, can I? Now get the hell out of here. Go home and plot this coup of yours."
Langdon grinned and planted a kiss on Eoin's cheek before heading for the locker room, plans for the evening already forming in her head.
Paul stripped the bloody surgical gloves from his hands and dropped them into the biomed waste bin. He made the mistake of glancing back at the body that lay on the table, slowly growing cold. The first time he had seen a dead body was the first day of their anatomy lab. The cadaver that had been on the table was there as a learning tool, a sacrifice to the furthering of their education, a wonderful and generous gift to those needing knowledge and experience.
Now, he had seen more bodies than he could count. Hell, he'd had his hands in more than a dozen of them and, he shuddered, maybe he'd brought the end sooner than expected. He thought of himself as merciful. What he did down here was art. Brilliant really. No one suspected a thing... Except Langdon.
Then again, she didn't really suspect anything, but she would know sooner or later, he was sure of it. Growling to himself, he shouldered the bulging backpack and flicked off the lights. He had a new plan. He knew how he'd get rid of her. But it seemed like such a waste.
Connor eyed Langdon from his vantage point against the counter. She had been quiet all evening. Too quiet for his liking. He knew she was getting bored, restless, frustrated. But tonight she was nearly silent, shooting furtive glances his way when she thought he wasn't looking. Now she was scurrying around the kitchen, cleaning up the remnants of the evening meal. He moved to help her, but she slapped his hand. "You've been tending me for two weeks now. I told you that I'd take care of everything tonight and you agreed. I cooked, I'm cleaning. That was the deal. Go sit down."
Connor smiled and the spunk she was showing then moved out of her way, settling on the couch and letting her work out whatever peeve had her so worked up. He turned on the TV to catch up on sports and tuned out the noise from the kitchen. Moments later, he tuned out everything and dozed off on the couch.
Langdon finished cleaning and glanced over to find Connor out cold. She frowned slightly as she watched him sleep. His hair was mussed as if he'd been running his hands through it all day, his shirt was rumpled, the sleeves rolled to his elbows, his face was drawn, pale, there were dark circles under his eyes, and exhaustion etched in every line of his body, an exhaustion that she felt responsible for. He needed her. No, she shook herself. He needed the now Laney, not the past Laney. Past Laney seemed to be rather needy and wasn't getting the job done. She didn't know what to do anymore and was flat out of ideas. Maybe Eoin was right. Sighing, she shrugged and trudged over to the couch. If nothing else, she could help him relax.
Connor didn't notice as she slid behind him on the couch or the first few tentative touches as her hands grazed his shoulders and arms. Slowly, he awoke to softness, warmth, and the sensation of small but strong fingers massaging the knots from his shoulder muscles. He groaned; it felt fantastic. The hands hesitated when he stirred and he groaned again, this time in frustration. "God, Laney, don't stop. That feels wonderful."
Langdon smiled softly and pressed the pads of her thumbs into the muscles running up the back of his neck, smoothly freeing the tension he held there. "Rough day?" she asked quietly.
"Mmn," Connor couldn't bring himself to open his eyes, nearly losing himself in the sensation of her fingers. "Nothing too bad, just busy," he managed to mumble.
"Liar." She wove her fingers through his hair to massage his scalp with one hand, and he didn't think to stop her when the other hand began to unbutton his shirt. The warm flats of her palms slid into the collar of his shirt and along his shoulders, her fingers like small kisses as they worked down his arms from inside the shirt.