Thank you very much to Melissa Larkin, saved-by-grace, PinkSparkle02, Susan and Mrs Clooney for your reviews. I thought you might like the last chapter! Unfortunately, things are not that easy…
Some Things Just Aren't Meant To Be
Susan woke the next morning, her face pressed against the pillow and her arm hanging off the edge of the bed. Something felt different, but her head was still drowsy and her brain had yet to wake. She moved and felt something next to her reciprocate. She frowned and turned her head, and found herself face-to-face with Mark sleeping next to her. The previous night's events suddenly came flooding back to her.
'Oh God, what have I done?' she thought. Slowly, and as quietly as possible, she began to get out of bed, searching for any piece of clothing to cover her otherwise naked body.
Her movements disturbed Mark from his sleep. He opened his eyes to see Susan's blurry form in front of him. He smiled as he remembered what had happened between them the night before. It had been perfect; like two souls connecting. It was better than Mark could ever have imagined – and he had imagined it time and time again.
"Hey," he said softly, reaching out to stroke Susan's back.
"Hi," Susan said. His touch made her tingle and even though inside she was screaming silently at herself to move, she couldn't.
Mark moved across the bed and began planting kisses up her spine and across her shoulders. Susan closed her eyes, momentarily losing herself in what he was doing, until reality kicked in. She shrugged him off, her muscles tightening. She spotted a sweater on the floor and pulled it over her head, covering herself.
Mark immediately sensed her agitation. "What's wrong?"
"This," Susan answered quietly. "This is wrong."
"No," Mark said, shaking his head. "This is about the only thing in my life at the moment that is right."
"What about Elizabeth?" Susan asked. She still had her back to him.
"What about her?"
"You're supposed to be in love with her," Susan said incredulously, but without raising her voice.
"But I'm not. I don't love her, not the way I should," Mark said. "I love you. I'm in love with you."
He reached out to touch Susan's arm and she shied away from him.
"I think you should go," Susan said, getting up off the bed. Mark followed suit, getting out the other side.
"Don't do this, Susan. Last night was amazing; it was perfect. I know you think so too," Mark said.
"Last night shouldn't have happened," Susan answered.
Mark came up to face her, cupping her face in his hands.
"I love you," he said, emotionally. "I know you feel the same, you told me last night while we were making love."
"No," Susan shook her head, struggling to get out of his grasp.
Mark bent his head down to kiss her.
"Mark, stop it," Susan pleaded. He wouldn't let go. "Mark, stop!"
She had raised her voice now, pushing Mark away with surprising force, causing him to stumble backwards.
"I can't do this. I won't. I won't be the other woman," Susan said.
"I'll end things with Elizabeth. It's over. I want to be with you," Mark cried. "I'll do it today, I'll go to the hospital and tell her it's over."
Susan shook her head in disbelief. "You think if you dump Elizabeth, I'll jump into bed with you? Is that really all you think of me?"
"No, Susan, I…"
"Please, Mark, just go," Susan asked.
Mark stood and looked at her in shock. He refused to believe that this was what she really wanted.
"No," he said simply. "I'm not walking out of here until you tell me why you're doing this."
"Because…" she wanted to explain, but the words wouldn't come.
"Because what? I need to know. If you're going to break my heart again, I need to know why," Mark said.
Tears sprang up in Susan's eyes. "Do you think this is easy for me? It's breaking my heart too," she said.
"Then why?" Mark asked again. He needed an answer.
"Have you forgotten about Ella? She's lying in the hospital right now and that's where you should be. With Ella and Elizabeth, not here with me," Susan said angrily.
"Of course I haven't forgotten!" Mark cried, angry that she would think that. "But what am I supposed to do? Elizabeth won't let me near them until I send Rachel away, and I won't do that."
"Talk to her. Break down the door if you have to, but do something!" Susan replied. "She's your daughter too."
"Is this really about Ella?" Mark asked. "Or is this about you feeling guilty?"
"Of course I feel guilty! Don't you?" Susan asked. "You cheated on your girlfriend last night, Mark, the mother of your child. You should feel guilty."
"I don't want to hurt Elizabeth. I've been there, I know what it's like. But I can't help feeling the way I feel about you. I loved you five years ago, and I love you now, and I'm not sorry for that," Mark answered. "I've spent too much of my life without you and I want that to change."
More tears fell down Susan's face. He wasn't making this easy for her.
"Please, Susan," Mark begged.
Susan shook her head. "I'm sorry. I love you too, and I want to be with you," she cried. "But not like this."
Mark sighed. She wasn't going to change her mind, he knew her well enough to know that. Silently he got dressed as the tears continued to spill down Susan's cheeks. He walked past her as he left the bedroom, fighting back every temptation that was telling him to hold her. Susan watched him walk across the room towards the door, resisting the urge to run after him and ask him to stay.
Mark turned around to look at her, hoping to see some sign that she had changed her mind. Nothing. Without even saying goodbye, he left her alone in her apartment, pulling the door shut behind him. It missed the catch and swung open. Susan followed his footsteps and shut the door, leaning against it for support.
"I'm sorry," she whispered into the air. She slid down the door and buried her face in her hands, crying herself into exhaustion.
Mark wandered down the road, needing to clear his mind. It was still early in the morning and the air was crisp. Mildew had settled on the cars parked along the streets. There weren't many people around – some early morning joggers and few dog-walkers passed him, but he ignored them all, keeping his head down as he walked.
Why did everyone he loved keep leaving him? What was he doing wrong?
He felt tears starting to form in his eyes and he blinked them back. He didn't want to cry over her. Not again.
He shivered in the morning chill and doubled back towards his car. He paused outside Susan's apartment block, staring up at the window to her apartment. He wished things could be different. He wished they had woken up this morning and everything had been as wonderful as it should have been. But this was life, and life could be really shitty sometimes.
He got into his car, turned on the engine and blasted warm air out of the heaters, rubbing his arms to get some warmth back into his lanky frame. He thought about the past twenty-four hours.
'What kind of person have I become?' he thought.
He had one daughter in the hospital, another home alone and he had cheated on Elizabeth. Life was not supposed to be like this. He sighed and closed his eyes, tilting his head backwards against the headrest.
'Susan was right,' he thought. Whatever was going on right now, he should be with Ella.
Mark drove to the hospital and, once again, avoided the ER. He only paused to phone home. Rachel was already up and getting ready for school when he called. Mark mumbled a lie about staying at the hospital overnight and Rachel accepted it, promising that she would stay at school all day and return home straight after. After he hung up, Mark went up to the PICU. There was no sign of Elizabeth, and Mark used the chance to slip past the security guards. He went over to Ella and was surprised to find her awake and extubated. She gurgled at him and reached her hands up. Mark reached down and she happily accepted his finger in her tiny palm.
"Hey, Ella," Mark said gently. He berated himself for not being there when all this had been happening. So much for Mark Greene, the family man; he was now Mark Greene, the liar and cheat.
"I love you," Mark whispered. Ella smiled in response and Mark reached his spare hand down to run his hand over her soft hair.
"Mark," Elizabeth's stern voice came from behind him, acknowledging his presence. Mark sighed. He wasn't ready for another altercation but he guessed that there would be one coming.
"She's extubated," Mark stated. He didn't bother with pleasantries, they were beyond that by now.
"Last night," Elizabeth replied. She moved next to him, but the distance between them was overwhelming. She reached her hand down to Ella.
"Where's Rachel?" she asked.
"At home, getting ready for school," Mark answered. He didn't have to explain his decision, it was evident in his answer. To his surprise, Elizabeth simply nodded. There was no reaction, no shock in her face; she remained focused on Ella. She had always known what he would do.
Mark raised his eyebrows. "You're not going to say anything?"
"What is there left to say?" Elizabeth sighed.
Mark studied her face. She looked tired and sad, and he knew that he was largely responsible for that. "I'm sorry," he said. "I never wanted any of this."
"I know," Elizabeth said gently.
"You can't stop me seeing Ella," Mark argued.
"I know," Elizabeth repeated. "I shouldn't have said what I did. I shouldn't have made you choose."
They were both quiet, watching Ella, who was watching them back.
"I'll move my stuff out of the house by the end of the week," Elizabeth said matter-of-factly, finally admitting what they were both trying to avoid.
"There's no hurry," Mark said. "At least stay until you find another apartment. There's no point paying for a hotel when we've got the spare room."
Elizabeth nodded gratefully. It was over, they both knew it. The passion that was once between them had fizzled out and they were no longer in love. There was no point trying to hold on to something that didn't exist any more.
Susan wandered into work at 5.30pm. She wasn't due to start until 6, but after a day of moping in her apartment, she wanted to be anywhere but there. Her bed felt empty without him. Her apartment was quiet and lonely. She ached for him. One night together, and she ached so badly. She had gone for a walk to clear her head, but he wouldn't leave her alone. She didn't know how she was going to face him again.
She went into the lounge, greeting Chuni and Haleh with a half-hearted smile. They were deep in conversation and they barely noticed her.
"It's definitely over?" Haleh asked.
"Yeah, she's moving out of the house at the end of the week," Chuni answered, a gossiping tone to her voice.
"What about Ella?" Haleh asked.
Susan's ears pricked up at this question, realising that they were talking about Mark.
"I heard that she made him choose between Ella and Rachel," Chuni said.
Haleh shook her head. "What kind of a person makes a father choose between his two daughters?"
Susan kept her back to them, pretending to be more interested in the contents of her locker. Was she really hearing this or was her mind playing tricks on her?
"I never thought they were well-suited," Chuni said.
Susan left quietly out the door to the ER. The two nurses watched her go.
"His heart always belonged somewhere else," Haleh said.
Susan grabbed a chart and pretended to be busy, checking the board for an empty exam room. Was it true? What did it mean for them? She had told him that even if he ended things with Elizabeth, it didn't mean that they were ready to fall into a relationship. But wasn't that what she wanted?
She found exam room 2 and crept in, closing the door behind her, resting her head against the door and sighing. She closed her eyes.
Susan's heart jumped. 'Tell me I imagined it,' she told herself. She turned around slowly and found Mark stood in front of the x-ray board.
"I…I'm sorry. I thought this room was empty," Susan said.
"Have you just started your shift?" Mark asked.
Susan nodded. "What are you doing down here?" she asked.
"They got busy, I thought I'd help out," Mark answered.
Silence fell over them. Mark turned back to the x-ray, hating the awkwardness between them. Susan watched him.
"Is it true?" she asked. Mark turned back towards her again.
"About you and Elizabeth, is it true?" Susan asked again.
Mark nodded. "It's over."
"I'm sorry," Susan said.
"Don't be. It was over before you and I…" He paused, not wanting to finish that sentence. "I don't know what that means for us, if it means anything. I'm not expecting…I just..."
Mark sighed, unable to articulate what he was thinking and feeling. Susan took a step closer to him.
"I'm sorry for the way I reacted this morning," she said.
"You were right," Mark admitted.
"I wish I wasn't," Susan said, regretfully. "I don't know what it means for us either. Things keep changing, Mark, and I don't know what to think. I know that I love you. I know that last night was amazing and I know that I didn't want you to leave this morning. But it all feels so hard and I'm just not sure I have the strength to go through it all. I mean, being in love shouldn't be so complicated, should it?"
A tear fell down her cheek and she wiped it away, willing herself not to start crying again.
Mark shrugged desperately. "I don't have all the answers, Susan. I can't promise you a life without complications. No-one can."
"I know," Susan said. "But I think that's what I need right now, I'm sorry."
Mark shook his head. "Don't be sorry."
They were interrupted by Malik, whose head appeared through the door.
"We've got a multiple MVA coming in," he said, holding out gloves and gowns for both of them.
Susan sighed. He wasn't leaving without them so she began to follow him out of the door.
"Susan," Mark called after her.
She stopped and turned back to face him.
"Do you think we'll ever get our chance?" Mark asked quietly. "To be together?"
Susan shrugged, a sad expression on her face.
"Maybe some things just aren't meant to be."