Night and Day - Page Three

By JuneBug <>    
Please see Page One for disclaimers.

Five - Lessons in Appreciation

In a dark, brick-paved street half-lit by guttering sodium lights, two figures were walking side by side.

The street was surprisingly quiet for a hospital area, even at this time of night. The silence resonated with a sense of stillness, punctuated only by the occasionl vehicle passing by, their bright lights passing them by like shooting stars. A light breeze broke through the almost-crystalline air, bringing the fresh fragrance of the Jacaranda trees from the park across the road. The same breeze now carried a light, musical voice to blend with the soft footfalls.

"'The Fez'? No, I've never eaten there before." Piersen watched the woman beside her as she spoke, blonde eyebrows raised in interest.

"It's a mixture of Moroccan and Turkish influences." Kai briefly indicated at the keys in Piersen's hand. "No need to drive, it's just down the road."

"Moroccan and Turkish... that's an interesting combination."

Kai nodded slowly, her eyes never leaving the stretch of footpath before her. "It's certainly different."

Talking to her is like drawing a thread from a big, tangled skein of wool... The silence between them, unlike that of their surroundings, weighed uncomfortably on Piersen's slim shoulders, and she cursed inwardly. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Whatever persuaded me to ask her to dinner? She listened to her own footsteps, sounding strangely stark in the quiet street.

Piersen regarded the dark haired woman a moment from the corner of her eye. Then again - this is perhaps the first time since I got here that I've been out purely for leisure. Piersen's first month in Sydney had been like a complex dance; she would be lined up with a dozen errands and tasks, and when one was over she would be sent whirling to the next. I should've taken Chris up on his offer. If anything, it would've been nice to have another pair of hands around to help settle in, even if it was just for the first few weeks. She smiled inwardly at the thought of her younger brother, who had been so insistent in flying over with her. Well, giving him my apartment for half-rent certainly shut him up fast. He's probably enjoying himself far too much now.

Drifting with her thoughts from family, friends, to home, she found that familiar feeling returning. I miss him. And mum. She paused. Dad. Squeezing her eyes shut for a moment, she pushed those thoughts aside, knowing the pain they could bring if her mind lingered.

Come on, Piers - enjoy this. Your first real night out in a new city... try and make the most of the company you have. A soundless sigh. It's not her job to entertain you - we're here to get dinner, and she's going to tell me what's going on with Richard. Slowing her pace by a fraction, she dropped back a little and watched the doctor from a more comfortable distance. She was in the same rich blue shirt and charcoal pinstripe skirt the she wore in the cubicle. A matching jacket was slung on a surprisingly strong-looking arm, and she carried a deep brown-red leather briefcase. In the last 24 hours I've seen so many different sides of her, I think she could give a kaleidoscope a run for its money. Her eyes blinked. Oh - I don't think I've seen this before...

The doctor had touched a pair of fingertips to her forehead, kneading small circles at her brow.

"You look tired. Are you alright?"

Pale blue eyes flickered up at her, and her hand dropped to her side. When was the last time someone came right out and asked me that? She quietly regarded the blonde woman's pale face, made even paler in the dim light. "Perhaps I should ask you. The last 24 hours haven't been the best for you, I'm sure."

An inhaled breath, and a slightly surprised grin. "It's been difficult, but I've been through worse." The blonde woman turned to glance at the doctor's face. "It's picked up in the last couple of hours, though."

Kai smiled, a brief flash that was gone as soon as it had come. "Indeed. Good to hear."

Piersen drank in that one instant, taking the warmth of that moment and distilling it into a draught that warmed her slightly cool skin.. Amazing, her mind murmured in wonder. It was like a complete transformation... She walked on beside the tall, quiet woman, the silence suddenly less forboding.

The doctor opened the door and motioned for Piersen to enter, who nodded in thanks.

The tantalising aromas of woodsmoke, incense, grilled vegetables and rose petals swirled out to meet her in the doorway, and the curator inhaled slowly, eyes blinking open wide and a look of wonder crossing her face as she did so. The restaurant wasn't large, but it had a sense of space and airiness that came from the huge open windows, whose dark wooden shutters opened to the street and let the night in. The walls that were windowless were covered with heavy rugs and tapestries; rich blacks, russet browns and crimson reds painting intricate patterns, contrasting with the mottled sandstone walls. Silk cushions and raffia mats lined the hardwood floor, and ceiling fans whirled lazily overhead. Piersen turned, and beamed a smile to the doctor, who stood just behind her, watching the expression of wonder lighting up her face.

"Golly, this place is wonderful... It's just like Delacroix's paintings, you know? Rich colours evoking such exotic smells and perfumes -" She spoke animatedly, her voice taking on a different timbre as she gestured at the patrons who sat scattered around the room, their conversation hovering over the collection of low tables at which they sat. "Whispered words and raucous laughter -" She cocked her head, her ears picking something out from the buzz of activity. "Oh, and the music..."

Kai knew the melody - a male voice, untrained and raw but throbbing with devotion, flowing and ululating over the distinct pentatonic harmonies. She spoke quietly. "It's a call to prayer. It's sung at dawn from the minarets - the towers that they build next to the mosques. Their voices carry a long way, all over the city, summoning the people to worship."

Piersen nodded. "So this is what it sounds like - I've never been to a mosque, but I knew about the ritual. Do you know what exactly he's saying?"

Kai opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a loud, accented voice. "Doctor! I haven't seen you in a long time! What a wonderful surprise!"

Her rich voice drawled slightly. "Hello, Aydin."

The short, nuggetty man laughed, nodding. "I thought perhaps you have been busy - I haven't seen you here for lunch in so long. Speaking of which, it's a little late for lunch, no?" His English was slightly broken, distorted here and there at times by a thick Middle Eastern accent, others by an exaggerated Australian drawl.

A smile. "Do you have room for dinner?"

"Of course! I'll set up a place - " He stopped as he noticed the blonde woman watching their conversation with interest for the first time. "Oh, doctor - you have a friend with you?"

Kai hesitated - friend. "You don't have room for two?"

"Oh no! We always have room for you - come now, please follow me." He turned to Piersen, who smiled as he offered his hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Miss."

She laughed, and shook his hand. "Please, Piersen's fine."

"Okay, Piersen." Aydin nodded, his colourful voice placing an exotic accent on her name. He led the two through a maze of chairs and tables, stopping at a table by the window. "It's good to meet your friend, doctor. You never bring your friends for lunch - how am I to run a business if you are my only customer?" His voice chided her, but his smile was broad.

"Aydin, your restaurant is full." An eyebrow lifted.

He laughed again, and held out a chair for Piersen. "Alright, doctor. Would you two like something to drink?"

Kai looked at Piersen, a questioning eyebrow raised. "Do you like wine?"

"Yes, but I'm not all that familiar with them. You should choose."

Kai nodded. "Alright - You have Penfolds 407? 1990?" Aydin grinned. "Great. And some bread with the sides, please."

Aydin laid down the menus. "Of course. I'll bring that over." He turned and left.

Piersen read through the lists of different foods, slowly trying out the foreign names as she went. She glanced at the doctor. "So I gather you come here often."

"Yeah. It's either here, or the cafe in the gazebo, just over at the park." She fidgeted slightly with the corner of her menu. Hey, lighten up. Working hours are 9 to 5, Kai. The irony of the comment struck her for a moment, but she strived on.

"So..." She drew out the word, temporising as she searched for the appropriate words. "You're not familiar with wines? I'm sure you've had an Australian wine at some point in time." Yeah, doc. Talk about wine, why don't you.

"Yes - I've heard of Penfolds... ther's what you ordered, right?" She looked over at the doctor, who nodded. "And I know of the famous wine areas - Hunter and Barossa Valleys, you know."

Kai nodded, smiling. "Yeah. They're beautiful places - amazing scenery, and strong-flavoured grapes that give really full-bodied reds."

"Right." She laughed her agreement. "I wouldn't know about the grapes, though. People used to try and teach me all about bouquets, noses and palates, but I can only taste the wine."

Kai inwardly grimaced, the comment having tweaked her gastronomic sensibilities. That's a shame - you've only had half the experience. "Used to? Your friends should keep up with their lessons. Once you know how to appreciate wine, it's a skill and a pleasure you'll never forget." Feeling a pair of intent eyes on her, she folded her arms across her chest, suddenly feeling exposed.

A skill and a pleasure? So you do know how to enjoy life. You could've fooled me before.  "Well, I'm sure I'll pick it up sometime. Maybe you can give me a lesson or two over the one you've chosen." Bright emerald eyes searched her face.

A nod. "If you'd like."

Subject exhausted, they read through the menu in an easy silence, feeling the smells, the wailing prayer and the drifting breeze imbue them with the sensations of an exotic place and strange, uncharted waters.

The table was littered with the remains of their dinner - crock pots piled on top of each other, spattered with spices and sauces. Plates bespeckled with crumbs, remnants of seared lamb, eggplant, olives pits. Two empty wine bottles stood on the side of the table, one with an origami flower, detailed with intricate drawings and designs, resting snugly in the bottle neck. The hands that made it now twirled the stem of her wine glass absently, the fingers of one hand running along the fine rim. "So - "

"No!" Piersen abruptly cut in. "Don't talk to me."

A slight frown. "What?"

"Don't talk. If I open my mouth, I'm going to throw up." Dark green eyes glared at her in mock challenge.

"Ah." Her lips twitched. "I did warn you about having too much of the olives."

"Yes. Well, now I know." She's joking with me. I'm joking with her. Their meal had served as a catalyst for their conversation - Piersen was fascinated by the plates and pots of food that streamed to their table, marvelling at their smells and colours, and the doctor surprised her by explaining every dish as they came. She seems to love doing that - explaining things. She shook her head slightly, absently. She just seems to know so much...

That should not have come as a surprise to Piersen - after all, she is a doctor. They're supposed to be really knowledgeable, boring and patronising, right?

But the fact was - She isn't. There is so much under the surface, and she has such a - Piersen stopped, suddenly at a loss for words to describe this elusive feeling. She talks about everything from Istanbul to ice-cream making with an easy eloquence, makes you think with a seemingly-flippant remark, makes you laugh when you least expected it... all the while wearing that unyielding, that inconquerable face.

Piersen smiled deprecatingly to herself. For so long, I didn't know whether she was joking with me, or laughing at me.

It had been most disconcerting, not knowing how to read the enigma sitting opposite her. But as time went by she gradually began to notice the intricacies beneath that stoic face - a glance, a word, a quicksilver smile - tiny cracks in the mask that slowly began to fall away before her eyes...

"Tell me what you taste."

Piersen dutifully swirled the crimson liquid in her mouth, raising an eyebrow in mock scrutiny. "Mm dfmt mfst mmyphng."

Kai arched an eyebrow, silently waiting.

The blonde woman rolled her eyes, and swallowed deliberately. "I don't taste anything. Just the wine."

The doctor held up her glass. "Okay. What if I told you that I could taste blackcurrant and mint in there?"

She shot her a sceptical glance. "I'd think you had a pretty good imagination."

Kai sighed inwardly, glancing at the half-empty bottle. Okay... another approach. She straightened, and signalled for the waiter, who navigated the tables to reach her. "Can you bring me a bottle of your house merlot and two extra glasses, please."

Watching the waiter nod and turn away, Piersen quipped flatly. "Getting more wine wouldn't be the next thing I would do, considering just how well I'm progressing."

"No - I have another approach. It should be easier for you this way." She waited, her bright eyes alive from the challenge. Seeing the waiter return with her request, she motioned for the tray to be laid on the table and poured out a glass, passing it quickly under her nose before handing it over. "Take a sip of this."

Piersen gingerly took the offered glass, then gave her a suspicious look. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were trying to get me drunk." 

Kai's momentarily surprised expression turned serious. "Do you get drunk easily?" Damn, I didn't think of that. Clever, Kai. She mentally kicked herself. Very clever indeed.

"Not exactly - it's not that I fall over after a glass or anything..." The blonde woman flushed. "Well, it's just that I've been told I get a li-ttle happy when I drink over my limit." She indicated a short space between thumb and forefinger, an wry quirk on her lips. "Apparently I start singing Broadway musicals. Loudly." Her expression indicated that this was not something she wished to undertake tonight.

Kai nodded solemnly with reassurance, not knowing why her heart warmed to that remark. "Well..." She looked away with thoughtful expression, idly fingering the silver chain around her neck as an errant idea made its way to her mind. "There are several things we can do to remedy that situation." She kept a tight rein over the smirk that threatened to betray itself, and her conscience rapped her over the wrists half-heartedly. Naughty. This is bad, and you are going to stop it now.

There was something in the doctor's tone that held a tantalising promise, and like a moth to a flame Piersen gamely took up the invitation, mirroring the inflections of the dark, rich voice. "Oh? And what is that?"

She ticked off each item on her hand. "Well, you have one of several choices. One - we can forego this exercise."

Piersen's face artfully portrayed an expression of quiet indignation. "And give up on a free wine appreciation class? Do you know how much some people would charge for something like this?" 

The doctor couldn't help but chuckle. "Alright. Two - we keep going as we were, and perhaps sample some of your extensive musical repetoire along the way."

Piersen laughed an unbelieving laugh, then sobered quickly as a realisation came to her. Golly, was I laughing? The shock of it wore off, and thoughts came in a more coherent manner. She was joking with me... wasn't she? She smiled, finding an answer that could suitably test the unfamiliar waters that presented itself. "I don't think I shall volunteer myself as the entertainment for this evening, thank you."

Kai smiled accommodatingly. "Fine. Or three - we can try a time-honoured remedy that usually prevents intoxication following wine appreciation."

Oh god - she is. She's playing. And here I was thinking this was someone who wouldn't know what fun was if it danced naked in front of her. She scoffed, feigning offense. "Well, it's certainly NOT going to be Two." She softened her expression into a impish grin, still surprised at this new dynamic she found between herself and the quiet doctor. "I'll take Door Three, thank you."

"As you wish." She turned around in her chair, beckoning Aydin forward and began to mutter instructions at length.

Piersen strained to hear, but the doctor's low voice was murkied over by the diffuse sounds from the restaurant and the street beside them. What are you up to...? Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, but in her heart she did not really care. I know she's planning something, but... She tried to put her finger on that peculiar feeling she felt bubbling inside, without success. There's something in her - I know that somewhere in there, there's a person far removed from the cold and arrogant doctor I saw last night. She looked carefully at the dark-haired woman, whose eyes were alive with a certain something as she nodded to the grinning restauranteur.

Piersen watched the doctor speculatively, not knowing what that sparkle in those eyes meant, but wanting very much to find out. What makes you tick, Dr. Jamieson? What does it take to put such delight in your eyes? She mentally sighed, finding her mind full of thoughts - rhetorical questions being what they are.

Kai returned her gaze to her dinner companion, allowing an urbane smile on her face. "He should be back in a minute. Why don't you close your eyes, and take a sip of this new glass here."
The curator touched her lips to the glass, closing her eyes as she swirled the liquid in her mouth. It tasted good, with a hint of something unknown that made it different to the first bottle they had tried. Hey, maybe this way might work after all. She smiled with some satisfaction. 

The expression did not go by the doctor unnoticed. "And how are we progressing?"

Piersen spoke with considerable bravado, feeling emboldened by the positive development. "I'm think I'm going quite well indeed."

Kai gave her a lingering look, her voice dropping a register. "Really...?" It wasn't too long ago when you couldn't taste anything, if I recall.

The blonde woman glowered quite admirably, green eyes dancing in the half-light. "Are you doubting my abilities, Dr. Jamieson?"

Kai folded her arms and leaned back into her chair, a ghost of a smile hovering on her lips.

The curator tried to maintain her suspicious glare, the effect of which was lost as a teasing grin lit up her face. "And what might you be waiting so patiently for?"

"I'm waiting to be impressed by your considerable abilities, Ms. Evans." She drawled easily, watching her with heavy-lidded eyes.

So you want to be impressed, do you? She affected a lofty expression, augmenting her natural London accent to upper-class overdrive as she spoke, drawing out her vowels and articulating her consonants in perfect, measured diction. I'll show you impressive, Dr. Jamieson.

"There are remarkable differences between this and the former vintage." Piersen dipped her head slightly, sniffing the wine with poised decorum as bright green eyes sent a smiling glance skittering over the rim of her glass. "The bouquet here is quite delicate, with warm undertones. The taste is rich and blackcurranty, minty yet muscular - "

"Muscular?" The amused doctor arched a questioning eyebrow at the woman opposite her, who regarded her with an innocent look.

"Oh yes. Muscular. Minty. Blackcurranty too." She coaxed out her words slowly, savouring each syllable with sultry gusto as they rolled off her tongue.

Kai laughed, a rich, throaty sound that warmed Piersen to the quick. God, that was fun. An innate sense told the doctor that part of the performance might have been at her expense, but surprisingly, she did not care. Hell, when was the last time I laughed like this? With David, perhaps, but never with someone I had just met... and it had never felt like this.

Still caught up in a haze of wonder, Kai spoke without thinking, much softer than she intended. "You are quite something else."

"Of course. I told you I was getting better." Piersen grinned as she took another sip, delighted to receive an answering smile before closing her eyes again, sensing the tastes disseminating over her tongue. Without the distractions of vision, she trained her focus on the contents in her mouth for a few long moments, moments which were broken by the sound of someone approaching, and something being deposited on the table.

"Thank you." Kai turned her gaze back to the blonde woman, her eyes brimming over with suppressed mirth. "Well - it's here. Would you like to take a look?."

Green eyes opened hesitantly, peering with some apprehension before widening in surprise. Piersen struggled to keep the liquid in her mouth. Oh no - you - you have GOT to be joking...

She had expected some coffee, or at least some sort of food that would help draw away the effects of alcohol. After all, she's a doctor, right? She would know about these things. But nothing, nothing in the doctor's calm, serious demeanour could have prepared her for -

A bucket.

Her eyes levelled daggers at the dark-haired woman, who wore a slight smile and wicked delight in her eyes. A bucket??

Kai could not mistaken the meaning of the incredulous look on the pale face, her voice struggling to maintain her calm exterior. "Perhaps you've never been to a wine tasting - we've been using these for thousands of years. It's almost 100% effective in preventing alcohol intoxication."

A blonde eyebrow shot up. Surely you don't expect me to...

"Oh yes. Door Three it was, remember? You asked, and I delivered." There was a dangerous gleam in her cobalt eyes as she spoke, her voice dropping several registers to a chocolately richness.

"I don't disappoint."

Piersen felt the voice reverberate all over her, feeling the spell wind around her and the fluid-like thrill pass her by. Ignoring the strange sensations coursing through her, she grabbed the bucket, her green eyes narrowed with vengeance. I will get you back for this. She turned to survey the neighbouring tables, whose occupants now happened to look at her with undisguised curiosity.

Oh, just you wait, Dr. Jamieson. Just you wait.

Kai remained dutifully silent for a moment, only her eyes hinting at her inquisitiveness at the woman's reverie. She looked over the cluttered table in mild amazement. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone eat quite so much."

Piersen sighed with a touch of drama in mock defeat, giving in to the subtle prod for conversation. She smiled ruefully. "I get that line way too often. But dinner was wonderful - I couldn't help myself."

I'd go out to dinner more often if I had company who enjoyed their food as much as you. "Good. I wouldn't have been able to finish that on my own." A pause, as her conscience came to the fore. Enough fun now, Kai. Remember why you're here.

The doctor looked away, taking a deep breath before returning her gaze to the blonde woman. "I still have to tell you the good and bad news."

Good and bad news...? Oh. Her face fell slightly. "Right." She swallowed. "Good news, then bad, please."

Concern was in her eyes as she spoke. "Good news is that your husband is doing fine. Everything is healing well, and very few complications have occurred." A breath. "Bad news is that he is in a coma, despite everything - which means we don't know exactly why he's still out. We can't do much more to hasten his recovery, but he could wake up tomorrow. Or next month. There is simply no way of knowing."

Kai dared to steal a glance at the woman before her, trying to gauge the thoughts behind that surprisingly passive face. "Since his condition's stabilised, we can move him out of Intensive Care, and into Neurology, where there is still specialised care. If he has the right insurance policy, we can put him in the Private hospital, which is next door - their facilities are newer and better." She was dismayed to hear the familiar, clinical words coming from her mouth, that feeling that had buoyed her during the evening wilting slowly as she spoke.

Piersen bit her lower lip, and nodded. "Okay."

Kai did not speak, her eyes lingering on the drawn features cast in shadows. What can I say? What do I do?

Her voice wavered a little. "I - I'm sorry."

The downcast frown persisted for a moment before Piersen looked up, smiling sadly. "No - thank you."

The doctor pressed her lips together, no more words forthcoming.

Six - Reprise

The night air had chilled noticeably since they paced this same road last. Two figures walked side by side, the guttering sodium lamps casting long shadows.

"Where did you park?"

"I'm that one - there." She waved towards the cars outside St. Vincent's Clinic.

"I'll walk you. I'm heading that way."

"Which one is yours?"

"None of them. I'm heading into my office before I go home." She indicated the driveway partially obscured by buildings. "My car's parked in the car park."

She has an office. I never thought of that. "Ooh. Car park - The perks of the job?"

A slight shrug. "It's the only way they can get the doctors and consultants to come here. Somewhere to put their toys while they work."

"Yes. If it's one thing I've learned about Sydney, it's that it's impossible to get a park around here."

Learnt...? Of course. Her accent. How could I have missed -  "Yeah." She stopped outside the Clinic. "This is my stop."

She looked over her shoulder, into the opulent foyer of the building. "Nice."

"Yeah - well, it's home." Kai smiled deprecatingly, then felt a brief silence descend between them.

Piersen hesitated, words poised on the tip of her tongue as silence came between them. Drawing a breath, she let them fall. "Dr Jamieson, I -- I want to apologise for what I said to you this morning." She bent her head, missing Kai's startled eyes turn ice blue in surprise. "I don't know why I said what I did. Actually, I do, but I can't explain why. I mean -" She covered her nose with her hand, flustered. "I wasn't myself. I'm - I'm very sorry."

"Please - that's not necessary... you weren't unprovoked." It was Kai's turn to lower her eyes, words coming with difficulty.

"You were probably on your feet for the past 5 hours before you had to deal with Richard." Me.

Five, twenty, what the hey. A knowing smile. "Something like that."

"Nevertheless - I want to apologise." She paused. "And thank you. For looking after Richard. For putting up with my outburst -- for dinner." She smiled at the last one.

"Pleasure." Really.

Piersen fidgeted with her keys, their soft clinking like silver bells in a moonlit night. "So..." Her voice trailed off, lost in her thoughts.

"Yeah." Deft fingers fished her security card out of her jacket pocket. "I should go - finish up some work." She looked up at the woman standing few feet away from her, her face almost disappearing in the shadows. "You'll be alright driving home?"

"Yeah - I'll be fine." She glanced at her watch. Golly - almost midnight. "Besides, we spat half of it out, remember?" She wrinkled her nose at the doctor, who chuckled.

I don't think I can forget. "Well, that's why wine tasters can drive home after a day at the winery. But we had quite a bit to drink before that, and the bucket isn't completely effective..."

"Really - I don't feel Rodgers and Hammerstein coming on any time soon." She grinned.

"If in doubt, I can always breathalyse you." Blue eyes were luminous in the half-light.

Piersen laughed, shaking her head helplessly. When she says things like that, it still surprises me... and I don't know why, but it just feels... really good.

Kai's lips curved sinuously. "Well, I guess it's good night then, Ms. Evans."

Piersen blinked briefly, then laughed. "Piersen."

"I'm sorry?" An eyebrow rose in a puzzled look.

"Please - call me Piersen. Ms. Evans is my mother."

A chuckle. "Alright. Good night, Piersen." She forced her gaze away, and turned to enter the dimly-lit building.

Piersen waited in the darkness, the low chuckle echoing in her ears as she watched the doctor's tall figure stride to the lift and press the button. Can your impression of someone change so much in just 24 hours?

She took in the doctor's posture - arms folded across her chest, leaning her weight on one leg, one hand playing with the chain at her neck - and realised it was she same posture she had taken when she was in front of the X-Ray panel. Full circle. It's almost like another reality, as if last night never existed. A faint light washed over the figure as the lift doors opened, and she disappeared.

Piersen waited still, lost in her thoughts. To think I thought she was soulless. She shook her head. Her eyes betray her more than she knows - only I couldn't see it before. She sighed, partly to help her think, partly in question as to why she was thinking this at all.

Oh Piersen, what has your impulsiveness gotten you into?

She tilted her head up thoughtfully, her finger tracing her jaw line absently. She wasn't offended by this morning. Or at least, she wants me to think it's alright. The wandering finger settled over her lips, which were pursed in a worried pout. But just knowing I said that.. it makes me feel awful. Piersen sorted thorugh a whole host of different emotions quickly, finally reaching the core of the matter. It's just that I'd hate to see this - this thing, this rapport between us blown out like a light.

As luck would have it, a window several floors above her lit up.

That must be her. She mentally counted the floors above ground - 6th floor. Top floor. She frowned slightly, fitting the pieces together in her head. You're up on the top floor in the consultant's building... you had the authority to bring that mess in Intensive Care under control... you're not just some doctor in Casualty, are you?

An echo of the warm feeling she felt moments before came back to her - seeping, spreading. Wrapping its lush tendrils around her, from toes to arms to face. This is a good thing.

All her thoughts came together, and the verdict was issued. 

"It was my first night out in Sydney, and I had a wonderful time." And next time, dinner will be on me. She pressed the central locking button firmly, unlocking the doors even as her words locked in her resolve.

Yeah - next time.

She smiled, unable to resist a tiny pirouette as she started towards her patiently waiting car.

To be continued...


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