I Never Knew You
He should have known. He should have never gone to Sean and Meghan's in the first place. God, he was supposed to be intelligent! He was supposed to be Noel Crane, the computer geek before computer geeks were even cool!
But no, he was invited for dinner and so he went (without Zoë, that is) and he ate Sean's good food and then he made the mistake of eating the cookies Meghan had brought out with coffee.
Naturally, they had beet powder in them.
And though Meghan apologized profusely; she had only wanted to have a little fun! Had only wanted to relive all of his dramatic episodes that involved beets! She hadn't counted on him swelling up like a blow fish!
What did she expect? He was allergic, for God's sake! So what if he had only gotten profusely hyper in the past? That didn't mean that was the only side effect!
Sitting in the hospital waiting room was hardly a delightful way to spend his Saturday night. He had long ago sent Meghan and Sean home, too angry with Meghan to allow for her 'false' sympathy and insincere apologies. But he had been waiting an awful long time. Where the hell was the doctor on duty?
As if on cue, "Mr. Crane?" a voice said, popping her head out the door of a room. She was a slim woman with a blonde head who reminded him particularly of Zoë, who was probably now at home wondering where the heck he was. (He had panicked so bad he forgot to call her.) The nurse smiled. "Dr. Covington will see you now."
Noel's stomach sank. He was in New York, a place he had not been for about three years. In a hospital. He was pretty sure that the last he had heard, a former rival of his was just finishing up med-school.
Oh crap. Oh damn. Oh shit.
Noel really, really didn't want to see Ben Covington, he really, really did not. He had dealt with Ben Covington for four miserable years of his life and quite frankly, now that he was out of his life, he was plenty happy.
As it was, Noel wouldn't have hated Ben so much had it not been for Felicity Porter. Felicity. The gorgeous girl he had met in his sophomore year. The one who stole his heart and threw it away, but never bothered to help him retrieve it. No matter how much he loved Zoë, he would never love her as much as he did Felicity.
He would always love Felicity.
If only it hadn't have been for stupid Ben Covington, waltzing in as Felicity's former high school crush. He had only rejected Felicity's affections for an entire year before deciding one day, out of the blue, that he was romantically interested in her; which led to another three years of dramatic ups and downs.
When it came down to it, Felicity picked Ben. She loved Ben, she protested. She had told Noel once that no matter what she did, no matter which way she looked at it; she was meant to be with Ben.
Noel disagreed completely, but who was he to say otherwise? She hadn't wanted him.
So to say that even after all these years, Noel still hated Ben Covington was a bit of an understatement. Sure it was petty and childish, but it was how he felt and he was never one to deny his feelings.
But even so, his throat was still closing up and he needed medical attention and. goddamn it, he was going to kill Meghan when he was through with this.
He entered the room expecting to see the tall man with the blonde hair and blue eyes he so passionately hated, but instead his eyes met with the view of a woman's backside, her long, brown curly hair pulled into a messy knot on the top of her head. He froze.
"Hi, there," she said, picking up a folder and not looking at her patient. "I'm Dr. Covington. So we're having some kind of allergic reaction Mr…" she paused, taking a look through the file folder she picked up, undoubtedly his. "Mr. Crane." She looked up then, her eyes taking on a look of surprise. "Noel?"
He nodded, swallowing best as he could. "Hi, Felicity."
He had expected her to clamp up then, to bow her head and then proceed through the examination quickly as she could. She was never completely comfortable around him again after what happened in her senior year of college, but he was okay with that. It was how he knew that she still cared for him.
Instead, she broke into a grin and placed a hand on her hip. "Noel! I can't believe it's you!" she glanced at her sheet again, and then looked up with an amused expression on her face. "Beets?'
"Meghan's trying to kill me," he explained, taking a seat on the examination table.
Felicity laughed, coming closer to him and placing a hand on his throat. He jumped back. She hadn't been that close in…forever.
She gave him an odd expression. "Calm down, Noel. I'm just checking the swelling in your throat."
He nodded, completely uncomfortable, and took a moment to look her over. Her hair was still as curly as ever and her eyes still as blue, but it was the differences that struck him the most. Examining the hand in front of him, he noticed two gold bands on her left ring finger; one with a glittering diamond in the centre. He swallowed.
"So, you're Dr. Covington, then?" he asked, looking away from her. "I gotta say, I was expecting someone…blonder in your place." Felicity tensed then, unsure of where this was heading. "Didn't get through med-school then, did he?"
Felicity drew back from him, her mouth set in a frustrated, angry line. "As a matter of fact, Ben is also Dr. Covington. He just happens to be a pediatrician, and at the moment, home with Eddie."
She brought her hand to her stomach then, and it felt like ice slid through Noel's veins. A small bump had risen on Felicity's lower stomach. She was expecting.
Surveying the room, he took a deep breath, his eyes falling immediately to the pictures on her desk. There was one of she and Ben on their wedding day; she in an ivory gown looking more stunning than he could have ever imagined, looking up at Ben with that look in her eyes. Another of the two of them and two young kids, one with dark hair and the other blonde.
Noel stared, taking it all in. How could he have missed so much of her life? "You're pregnant again?"
She grinned. "Yeah, this little one is due in June. It's a girl."
Noel smiled softly. "She'll be as beautiful as her mother."
Her face grew soft and she placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm happy, Noel. I'm more than happy. Ben makes me happy."
Noel didn't say anything. "Ben was the only one who ever really could."
Frowning, she turned away and began scribbling something on her clipboard. "I'm going to get one of the nurses to give you a shot to clear your throat and reduce the swelling, as well as a prescription for you to take a couple of times a day for the next week." She ripped a sheet of paper off and handed it to him.
She turned to leave then, and he felt his throat close up again, but for all the wrong reasons. "Felicity!" he called, and she paused in the doorway. Looking over her shoulder slowly, she waited.
"You're back in New York, then?" he asked meekly.
She smiled one last time. "We didn't want to be anywhere else."
And with that she left, and Noel was left waiting for a nurse, one who was too rough with him and gave him his shot too quickly.
As he left the building, he saw Felicity standing in the lobby, speaking to a receptionist, when a man came up beside her.
It was Ben. He was still blonde and blue eyed, but seemed older, more distinguished. He was carrying a sleeping child; Edward, no doubt. Felicity grinned and Noel felt his heart squeeze tightly as she stepped up on her toes and gave Ben a kiss, before taking the little boy in her own arms.
He looked away hastily. He was looking into Felicity's life and quite frankly, that was one place he had never really belonged.