Prompt:New Year's Eve – the midnight kiss
Summary: Written for the 1/5/08 Saturday Night Writing Challenge at the Fox Forum.
Disclaimer:I'm not sure I got Cuddy's inner voice exactly right in this, but since I've never heard her inner voice and neither has anyone else, I guess its okay.
Sometimes I hate this place.
Stupid, of course I hate it sometimes. Who doesn't hate their job some days? Most days? I really shouldn't complain; there are plenty of people out there doing worse jobs than this, jobs they detest, and for far less money than me.
But some days it's just a little too much.
Ten years ago, hell even five years ago, the idea of being the youngest administrator on the East Coast was thrilling to me. It gave me such a sense of power, of accomplishment, of pride that I was willing to sacrifice basically everything else in my life for it.
And now, it's everything I have.
Do I regret my choices?
Have you got that kind of time?
Today is just one of those days. One of those days when your head is pounding with a jumble of complaints, figures and crises. One of those days when your pulse is racing with adrenaline and anger and frustration. One of those days when your stomach is churning with guilt and anxiety. And it's not even lunch yet. You know those days.
It's New Year's Eve. Fun? Oh no. Not at the hospital. We're already gearing up with extra nurses on shift and doctor's pulling doubles in the ER, just waiting. Waiting for the inevitable alcohol poisonings, overdoses, drunken brawl participants and car crash victims. New Year's Eve is anything but fun at a hospital.
There's no real reason for me to stay. Yes, it's my hospital and yes, I like everything to run smoothly. But if I'm going to be completely and brutally honest, I'm in the way in the ER. I've been out of that sort of rapid paced treatment for far too long to be anything but a burden to the staff, and the last thing they need tonight is a burden.
But I stay, because I have nothing else to do. There is no one waiting for me at home; no one who wants to stay in tonight and snuggle up on the couch, watching the ball drop and mocking the fools freezing themselves to death in Times Square hoping for a chance to be seen on one of the myriad of New Year's Eve specials. There is no party to attend; no soiree where my presence will be sorely noted and mourned.
So I sit in my office, shuffling through paperwork that isn't important enough to really hold my attention and think about what makes today such a horrible day.
Not nothing in the sense that I did nothing. Far from it. I arrived at least an hour before most of the day shift staff. I juggled budgetary paperwork, an angry board member, two hours of clinic duty, three of the very few patients I actually still see regularly, a tearful complaint about House from a junior member of the nursing staff and finally, the man himself, who barged into my office mid-afternoon and demanded permission to perform an exploratory laparotomy on a patient with no abdominal issues because he 'had a hunch'.
But none of those things are extraordinary in any way. The paperwork it takes to run a hospital could very well represent an entire equatorial rain forest. Board members are always angry about something. The clinic is always teeming with patients. Nurses are always in tears over House and House … well, House is always House.
No, what makes today such a rotten day is quite different from any of the typical goings on. Right now, sitting in my office, I can see the lobby through the darkened clinic. Two couples have exited while I've been sitting here, each set so utterly wrapped up in their own togetherness that I doubt they even felt the cold when they left the building. A third couple has paused in the lobby, stealing a kiss before steeling themselves against the harsh winter weather.
That is what makes today so horrible.
Everywhere I turn, it seems, I am faced with happiness that I, for whatever reason, cannot find. I'm happy, mostly, but it's a different sort of happiness. It's a quiet pleasure; the pleasure of having done something difficult, having achieved something great.
And that's why I hate this place today. This place that for all it's challenges, for all it's triumphs and all it's glory has taken away the kind of radiant joy that I see in other people. The joy of friends, the joy of family, the joy of love.
I look back out to the lobby. The couple has gone, thankfully, and despite the fact that I hate myself a little for envying them, I give in to the relief I feel in not having to watch them anymore.
I turn back to my paperwork, determined that if I'm going to be here I'm at least going to be productive while I wallow in self-pity. A few minutes later I hear a soft knock at my door. I turn, expecting someone with a problem. I'm surprised to see Dr. Wilson.
"Hey," he says as he walks a few steps into the office.
I stand and walk around the desk to speak to him. I don't know why, exactly, but he's giving off the impression I should be preparing myself for something. Immediately, my mind goes to House and some stunt that he has pulled. Wilson often acts the part of the fall guy.
"What did he do?" I ask resignedly. He seems hesitant, but whatever it is I'd really rather just get down to it so I can get to work in cleaning it up.
"What did who…oh, no, nothing. He went home hours ago," Wilson says with a wave of his hand. I relax. If it's not House, then it's already only half as bad as I was afraid of. But he seems to tense up.
"Well what can I do for you Dr. Wilson?" I ask him.
I watch in amusement as he unconsciously begins to rub his neck. I wonder if he knows that he does that. But immediately afterward, I think I could do a much better job.
"I was heading home," he says, drawing out each word with an unnatural cadence. "I saw the light on."
"I'm sure House has convinced a few nurses I'm really a vampire, but I assure you I don't enjoy working in the dark," I say with a smirk and he smiles back. Unbidden, I think about other things that I enjoy doing in the dark and I have to turn back to my desk to hide an unexpected blush that rises on my cheeks.
"No plans tonight?" he asks. I turn back to him but he keeps going in that endearing Wilson way he has of muttering things aloud without really giving the other person an opportunity to speak. I wonder if he did that before he met House. "No of course you don't have any plans. I mean, not that you couldn't have plans. I just meant you obviously don't or you wouldn't still be here. What are you doing here, by the way?"
"Just catching up on some paperwork," I reply and then I make a face. "That sounds even worse out loud than it does in my head."
He smiles then, and I smile too. It isn't often someone just stops by my office to talk. I realize that Wilson and I haven't talked, just talked, in nearly a year. Not since our 'dates' when I was still …well, a long time ago.
A muted cheer sounds from the ER and instinctively we both look at the clock on the wall. It doesn't chime, I stopped that long ago to avoid distraction, but midnight has arrived.
"Happy New Year Lisa," Wilson says softly.
"Happy New Year James," I answer, and I wonder if he came in here just to tell me that.
"Well, I guess I'll be heading home," he says reluctantly.
"I think I'll be going soon as well," I say, the lie falling from my lips without thought. Going home to what?
He smiles again and walks out. I turn back to my desk and sigh. Maybe I really will go home. I'm far too tired to do anything useful.
I don't even hear him behind me until his hands are on my arms and he's spinning me around. I open my mouth to ask him what he thinks he's doing and he covers it with his own.
It isn't long before I'm completely lost in him. His lips are so soft, but there is nothing soft about this kiss. He runs one hand up my arm, across my shoulder and into my hair where it tangles tightly in my curls. I grip his biceps and fleetingly wonder when he has time to work out. We kiss for what feels like forever and not nearly long enough.
He looks embarrassed and pleased and aroused and shy. A deadly combination that only James Wilson could pull off. He's adorable.
"The midnight kiss," he says and I nod stupidly.
"Very important tradition," I finally say.
"Exactly," he says.
We stare at each other for a long moment.
"Well, goodnight then," he says.
He leaves then, and I watch him go.
I wonder if he has plans for Valentine's Day.