It had taken him six months to get to the point where the thought of Elizabeth didn't slice into him and cause him to bleed. Countless hours of overtime and sleepless nights had pushed him to the limits of endurance. Every time he thought he was ready to let go of the anger, the confusion, or how violated he felt over the ordeal, some trigger would remind him of his ignorance and the cycle would start all over again.
He was mad at that little winged fat fuck in a diaper. At Alexis who at the last second decided to give him more to mull over on the nights he was unable drink himself stupid. Elizabeth for . . . well he was just mad at her. He was maddest at himself for being stupid enough to be yanked around like that. And when he was good and pissed, he was mad at God for letting it all happen.
Nothing he did filled the void that had been left in him when he'd woken up to find that Elizabeth's mother had transferred her to a more qualified hospital. It was probably a blessing in disguise, seeing how he'd become this walking emotional mess.
It'd taken a few days for him to process everything. A few more to come to terms with how his questions would never be answered. Weeks to get over the embarrassment for falling for a girl in a coma, whether he was supposed to or not. A month or two to be able to shower without tossing his clothes over the curtain. To now, where seeing Elizabeth Webber walking down the hall didn't make him swallow his tongue.
Choking instead on the hot, bitter cafeteria coffee, Jason barely registered the mess he'd made as his eyes stayed glued to the petite brunette. His mouth turned dry as the Sahara and his heart seemed to travel from his chest up to his throat.
She was even more beautiful alive.
A bright red knit cap was pulled over her rebellious curls. Her checks were colored from the cold weather outside, Jason was in awe how bright and happy she seemed to be. Talking to one of the nurses, her hands moving animately as she spoke, Jason felt a chill run down his spine when she let out a deep, throaty laugh.
A nudge from behind reminded him he was standing in a puddle of coffee, with a geeky look on his face. Elizabeth Webber had a way of making an ass out of him without even trying.
"Hey Morgan, I need you to sign off on Mr. Evans tests."
Turning around to see Carl standing with a chart held out to him, Jason watched as his friends eyes looked over his shoulder to where Elizabeth let out another chuckle.
"Hey isn't that - ." Yanking the chart from the other man, Jason let out a grunt. "She's freaking hot."
The knuckles wrapped around the pen turned white and Jason forced himself to reread Mr. Evan's chart at least four times to make sure he had a vague idea of what he was signing.
"Have you spoken to her yet?" Wincing when Jason slapped the folder in his chest, Carl hid a smirk.
"No." It almost killed him not to look back to where he knew Elizabeth was still standing. By shear willpower alone he stood rooted in place. There was no talking to her. He'd had weeks to go over what he'd say to her if ever given the chance to see her again. He had nothing that wouldn't have her looking at him like some kind of twisted lunatic.
"Dude you saved her life -."
"She saved herself." With a tired sigh, Jason tried to push past his friend, only to stop when the sweetest voice called his same.
He was truly screwed. Not ready, not yet. He wasn't prepared for this yet.. Jason contemplated the option of avoidance. Pretend he didn't hear her call out to him. Was ready to take the cowards way out when the sound of approaching footsteps on the polished linoleum floors mocked him.
"Dr. Morgan?" Elizabeth was right behind him, making him turn around and face her. "I'm Elizabeth Webber."
Looking down at the hand she was extending to him, Jason took it grudgingly. Not surprised by the warmth his body felt by her touch, he let go of her hand as quickly as possible. Carl nudged him from behind when it was his turn to speak.
"Uh, what can I do for you?" It wasn't quiet what he planned on saying, but it beat going off on her for all the pain she'd unknowingly caused.
"Duncan Peters told me you were in charge of the Christmas project on the pediatric floor." Almost mesmerized by the way she neatly tucked a stray curl behind her ear, Jason found she was once again waiting for him to contribute to the awkward conversation.
He vaguely remembered bumping into the Chief of Staff a few weeks back in the cafeteria and agreeing to helping out. It'd been during one of his double shifts and he would have agreed to just about anything to get his boss to move away from the coffee machine.
"Yeah. I've been kind of busy . . ." He saw a look pass through her eyes and immediately felt like an idiot. There was an entire floor of kids who'd be away from home over the holidays and he'd totally spaced it.
"Duncan told me you were the person to talk to about helping out."
Alarms went off in his head and before he could make his mouth stay firmly shut he was already making an ass of himself. "I already have a full list of volunteers. Why not check with OB-GYN."
Elizabeth's brows knitted together and her eyes narrowed in a way that suddenly made him feel as though he should prepare himself for the worst.
"But you pretty much admitted you haven't even started."
"No." Jason drawled, trying to give himself some time for a smooth recovery. "I said I've been busy . . . with the project."
Her eyes turned a deeper shade of blue, while the corner of her mouth curled up. "So let me get this straight. You're turning away a volunteer?"
Wondering what in the hell he was doing, Jason scratched his brow. "I suggested checking with -."
"The OB-GYN floor. Gotcha." Reaching into her purse she pulled out a slip of paper and Jason watched in confusion. "My Mother, who really is a pain in the ass, just spoke to Duncan the other day. He said you've been pulling several double shifts and needed help with the Christmas project."
Her Mother really was a pain in the ass, Jason though irritably and he should have been a little bit quicker on the uptake and noticed she was on first name terms with his boss.
Elizabeth's perkiness vanished and she all but shoved her planner in his hands. "Let's cut to the chase, shall we?"
Bewildered by the sudden change in her demure, Jason frowned down at the folded piece of paper in his hands before looking back at her pinched expression.
"I am desperate. After my accident, which you know about seeing you were my first doctor, I've been forced to move back in with my parents." Unable to keep from wincing, he saw Elizabeth's smug expression. "Ah, you must have fond memories of my Mother. I believe she's the Anti-Christ."
Jason cleared his throat. Yeah, that pretty much summed it up.
"It's either you allow me to volunteer here, or she's gonna force me to help her with this huge 'Family' holiday she has up her butt." She took a threatening step forward and Jason almost retreated. Almost. "Which means I get to deal with my Mother's manic need for grandchildren. My drunk brother who's highlight in his miserable life is planning the perfect murder, of his wife. Watching my sister try to cover up my brother-in-law's affair with Peter, his golf partner. Not to mention the ever so popular game of who's Daddy doing under the Christmas tree!"
Her voice really did carry when she got upset, forcing Jason to grab onto her upper arm and pull her into the first empty room.
"I'll also go to Duncan and tell him you wont let me help." Staring him in the eye, Elizabeth threw her final threat onto the table and waited for his reply.
"Fine." Knowing he was trapped, Jason gritted out the only response he logically had. Knowing his only refuge over the last few months was being ripped from his grasp, he silently wondered if Elizabeth's little buddy Joe had anything to do with this.
God he hated that guy.
"Good." The tension in her tiny form seemed to thaw. "There's a list of idea's I have. Why don't you read through it. Duncan said you aren't pulling another double so we can meet tonight."
"What if I had plans?" He was feeling like he was quickly losing control again and the feeling didn't put him at ease.
"Oh." Biting down on her lip, Elizabeth blinked a few times before quickly snatching the paper from him. "I suppose I could do it."
"Wait." Grabbing the paper back, Jason balled it into his fist and gave a look that almost dared her to take it from him again. "I didn't say I did. I'd appreciate it if you didn't boss me around like some hired hand."
Her mouth dropped open and her face turned pink. "I'm sorry. Really I am. My Mother does that all of the time and you'd think I'd know better. I just never thought . . . Listen I'm sorry. You're busy and I can really do this by myself."
Nodding at his hand where her list was clenched, Elizabeth looked at him with unease.
"I also didn't say I wouldn't help." Shoving the paper in his scrubs pocket, just in case she got grabby again, Jason folded his arms over his chest. "Meet me here at five."
With a nod of her head and a suddenly nervous smile, she spun on her heel and almost ran from the room. Leaving Jason feeling as though he'd run a marathon.
"I swear to God Joe, if you're manipulating this I'll kick your ass."
Hurrying down the halls as fast as her size sevens would take her, Elizabeth put a hand to her forehead and let out a short hysterical laugh. She'd done it. After weeks of uncertainty she'd actually spoken to him.
The first time she'd seen him was on her way to a physical therapy session. The specialist she'd been seeing was on vacation and for two weeks she had appointments at the hospital. Elizabeth couldn't say why she was so drawn to the young doctor and was almost worried it only had to do with him saving her life. But with each visit she'd searched the halls to catch any sign of him, careful to keep hidden in the buy hallways.
A few times they'd come close to coming face to face. But she'd chicken out and duck into an open elevator or on one occasion made a quick retreat in the opposite direction. Unable to deny the pull he had, Elizabeth felt off her game and to lose confidence around a complete stranger made her feel even more foolish.
So when she'd been stuck at another one of her Mother's luncheons, and over heard Duncan Peters talking about the upcoming Holiday projects at his hospital she couldn't resist the golden opportunity. Jumping in with both feet and manipulating her way into being partnered up with Jason, she took away her ability to make any other excuses.
What she hadn't been prepared for was his hesitation in accepting her help. It puzzled her. He didn't seem to be completely uninterested, but very standoffish. Elizabeth didn't like forcing him to taking her on. But she'd come so far, she wasn't ready to admit to defeat yet.
Maybe once she got to know Dr. Morgan she'd lose some of her intrigue. Seeing him as every other over paid jackass in her Mother's inner circle. God she hoped so, because if she didn't, she was so fucked.