Hello everybody! I don't know what made me think of this story really... I was a little depressed and while I was wallowing in self-pity I thought up this plot. It's going to be pretty long and although I've got the entire thing plotted out from beginning to end in my notebook, I haven't written the actual story.

After finishing my last story, I went through and realized how short my chapters are. So with this story I'm going to try to make the chapters really long and packed with detail. I hate stories that have pointless chapters, so I'll make sure that everything I put in here has a point! I promise!!

The rating on this story is for chapters after this one. This one is really tame... but as the plot goes on, there will be some intense situations... language... drama... I don't really feel like putting a lemon in this, so no lemons... But I do like oranges... Just for fun, I think I'll try to include some citrus fruits into later chapters. Just to lighten the mood. Anybody want to plays see the citrus? If you see a citrus fruit in the chapter... laugh at how much of a dork I am and keep reading! hahaha

All standard disclaimers apply. I own nothing but a few sweaty taekwondo uniforms and a couple cats. There's no point in suing me. I can't even afford to put gas in my car.

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The Will To Live Chapter One

The fragile sounds of china being moved about could hardly be heard over the low rumble of a thousand voices that echoed throughout the dining hall. Large doors leading away from the dance floor had been flung open to allow the cool night air to flow in on a delicate breeze and waltz about the room, hardly noticed by the arrogant occupants. Near the head of the room, a portly gentleman in a well-tailored tuxedo stood from the long table situated in front of everybody and worked his way to the nearby podium.

"If everybody could please give me a moment..." He spoke into the microphone, letting his voice drop off quietly from his request. "I'd like to thank all of you for coming out tonight. I'm told that the funds we have raised from tonight alone have outdone those of every other fundraiser we have done." He paused to allow a moment of applause and then he cleared his throat. "Before I allow you wonderful people to finish your meal and dance the rest of the evening away, I would like to take a moment to recognize one of the fine physicians on the staff here at Mountain Breeze Hospital. This man came to us, almost six years ago, fresh out of medical school. Although we tend to be wary of new doctors, his credentials are impossible to ignore. He graduated at the top of his class at Harvard, tied only by his best friend, who is also a part of our staff. If you ask them, you'll always get a different story on which helped the other through classes.

"Of course, we aren't here to talk all night about college life. In addition to being a very smart and studious man, over the past six years, he has proven to be one of the best doctors I have ever had the pleasure of working with. His quick thinking has saved countless lives that lay in his hands at the operating table, his incredible bedside manner has never left a patient wanting, and his good looks don't hurt. But above all, he has the most charming wife I have ever encountered. And as they say, behind every great man, is an even greater woman. Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado and without any more ramblings from myself, may I present to you this year's recipient for the award for service above and beyond the call of duty, Dr. Darien Shields! Please join me in a round of congratulatory applause!"

Thunderous applause broke out through the entire banquet hall as every face gazed upon the blushing man who sat at the head table with his petite wife. The pride for her husband written on the blonde woman's face was apparent to all who looked upon her.

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"I can't believe it!" A squeal echoed down the hallway of the dark apartment building. Serena Shields waited for her husband to unlock their humble home before she unceremoniously threw herself into his arms. "Don't take me wrong, Love, I always knew you were great, but I can't believe you won this award so early on in your career!"

Darien grinned boyishly, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "Oh ye of little faith!" He teased.

"You dork!" She slapped his arm playfully. "You know I've always had faith in you. I'm so proud! This calls for a little private celebration!" She scurried into the kitchen and attempted to grab one of the bottles of wine high above her head. Just as she managed to wrap her fingers around the neck of the bottle, Darien swooped in behind her and wrapped his arms around her diminutive waist. In her surprise, she lost her balance and accidentally swung the container into his face.

"Oh my God!" She exclaimed. "I'm so sorry, Sweetie! I didn't mean to hit you!"

Darien smirked at her. "Sure you didn't. Darn abusive woman..." Just then a small trickle of blood made it's way down from his nose. He wiped it away with the back of his hand and quirked his eyebrow. "Geez..." he muttered. "I didn't think you hit me that hard."

"Let me get you some ice," the small blonde volunteered in attempt to clear her guilty conscience. "Go sit on the couch and I'll bring it out to you."

The young doctor washed the blood away from his face and hands then followed his wife's directions. He sank wearily into the soft cushions of his old couch, reveling in the comfort of home. He closed his eyes and drew in a deep refreshing breath, slightly wincing as the air passed through his tender nose. After a few moments, he felt Serena settle herself onto his lap and press a small ice pack to his face. She slid a glass of wine into one of his hands and pulled his other hand around her waist so that she was cradled in his embrace.

"There." She grinned. "All comfy. But we do have one other problem."

"What's that?" Darien inquired lazily as he downed his flute of wine.

"I have been a horrible wife, and I have injured my faithful and innocent husband. What do you suggest we do to fix this?"

"Burn the horrible witch at the stake!" Darien laughed as he caught Serena's flying hand before it could intersect with the back of his head. He set his empty wineglass and his bag of ice aside and stared lovingly at the woman on his lap. "I know the perfect thing," he murmured, instantly calm.

"And what's that?" Her voice was barely above a whisper; her heart fluttered inside her chest.

"When was the last time we got to spend an evening getting to know each other all over again?"

"Too long ago..."

"Then let remind you how much I love you."

The two stood and began to make their way down the hallway toward the bedroom. Suddenly Serena paused and turned to Darien.

"Hey Darien? Let's play a little game while we're at it. Wanna play doctor?" She squealed and ran as fast as her legs could carry her as he let out an exasperated growl at her joke.

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The hospital was relatively quiet compared to most other days. The emergency room was packed as usual, but for once there were no patients in critical and life-threatening situations. Dr. Darien Shields came down the hallway toward the reception desk at a leisurely pace, allowing his mind to wander during the short break he had between patients.

He smirked, thinking of the pale purple bruise that had appeared around his nose that morning. His beautiful wife... ever the clumsy one. He and Serena had spent most of the previous evening in each other's arms, enjoying every moment they could get together. And, of course, enjoying the other pleasures they could provide to each other. It was so rare that they were able to share and evening... or a moment...

It seemed that the further the two got in their chosen careers, the further apart their lives were from each other. She had chosen to become an architect, and any moment she wasn't at the office she was locked away in her study, mumbling incoherently to herself as she stared at her computer monitor. On the rare occasions she did stumble out of her study early, he was still at the hospital.

It wasn't always like that... They used to spend more time together... They used to make more time for each other... But it seemed that after she lost the baby, it had been so much harder to face the emptiness of home, knowing that the sound of a small child's laughter should have been echoing through the spacious apartment.

Darien felt a shoot of pain twist through his heart, and his breath caught in his throat. After she lost the baby... the baby... it wasn't the first time she had miscarried... But it had been the worst... The first two times, they had hardly had time to get used to the idea she was pregnant before it was all over... but the third time... There had been ultrasound pictures hung on the refrigerator door. They had picked out colors and furniture for the nursery... They had even felt him kick a few times... him... It had been a boy... a wonderful baby boy... They were going to name him after his father. Darien Thomas Shields Junior. To avoid the confusion of father and son sharing the same name, they were going to call him Thomas. Little Tommy...

About four months into the pregnancy, Serena had rushed into the emergency room saying that she had felt Thomas thrashing about wildly and then he had stopped moving completely. After hours of testing and speculating, they found out that little Tommy had had a seizure. And he hadn't survived.

Darien stopped walking altogether. He leaned wearily against the wall, staring at his white sneakers and the dark blue color of his scrubs. He blew his breath out in a huff, causing his dark bangs to ruffle about on his head. A few days later, she had miscarried the small body of their unborn son. After she was finally released from the hospital, Serena had spent a month lying in bed and sobbing her broken heart out into the pillows. They spent every night holding each other, clinging to each other for every bit of strength they could muster to get through each day. And they got through it together. That was a year ago. Now they were too scared to try again... to start a family. Too afraid of going through the same pain... But things were getting better now... and soon everything would be back to normal.

He shook his head and resumed his endless march to the emergency room reception area. Just as he reached the doors and lifted his hand to push his way into his destination, he felt a slight tickled under his nose. He brushed at his face in annoyance, and a slight flash of red caught his attention as he was lowering his hand. Blood. His nose was bleeding again.

"That's not right," he mumbled to himself, turning toward the nearby bathroom to clean himself up. "Noses don't bleed for no reason." He stared into the mirror above the sink. The bleeding had stopped already. Nothing serious. "I've got to stop being so paranoid..."

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Woo hoo!! First chapter finished!! I'm so excited!! I've got great things planned for this story!! I've also got two other stories I'm trying to finish drafting and typing so that I can post them. I'll pretty much update my stories on a reviewing basis. Whichever story gets more reviews, I'll update that one more often. I read someone use the term "Review whore". I thought it was perfect! I'll sell my stories for reviews! Mwahaha!!

While you're reading, go read "Ice Cold Escapades" ( Please! ) and let me know what you think. It's not my greatest work, but it's kind of a fun read! And it's a complete story!!

Feel free to e-mail me for any reason. I like e-mail... It's fun... And please let me know what you think of this story. If you feel the need to tell me that I'm annoying or stupid or anything like that, please send the flaming insults through my e-mail. And while you're at it, please throw some bread in with the flame. I've been craving toast lately and I'm too lazy to go to the store and buy myself some bread. But I do have grape jelly!!

And in closing... Now that I think of it... anybody interested in being my beta- reader? I read my chapters a few times and think they're okay, but I need somebody else to tell me when I'm being boring... Just a thought... for now... These chapters have been read and approved by.... Me!!

Buh-bye for now!!!