A/N: First I'd like to say thank you to Emmettluver2010 for the review. I had about half of this written, and the words of encouragement inspired me to read over and finish this chapter. This one follows Liz and how she sees/interprets Christian and Matilda's relationship. I tried to make her in character even though I don't watch this show as nearly as much as I did when I started writing this. Next chapter will most likely return to Christian's thoughts. Read away!
Previously on Twist of Fate…
Matilda moves to grab her iPhone back as Christian laughs and sporadically moves his thumb across the screen. Instead of reaching the phone, she brushes the sliver of wrist above his sleeve. It feels good to touch him again. And she's not nauseous at all. She's so wrapped up in laughing that she doesn't notice Liz watching them from a few feet away, or her worried wrinkles on her forehead.
Liz doesn't like labels. Labels are used to hurt people, and she doesn't enjoy slandering or objectifying anyone, despite her feelings towards them. She's a divorced single lesbian, all of which are frequently demeaned into cruder and uglier terms. But, after only a year of working with Christian Troy, she wasn't shy about labeling him an arrogant womanizing asshole. When he left the practice unannounced to leave Miami, she was ecstatic. Sean initially had some trouble getting the business to run with only one surgeon, but he quickly adjusted and collected a long list of patients.
Over the past seventeen years, she grew closer to Sean and the entire McNamara family, especially the funny, hardworking, and patient Matilda. Why, Matilda's practically her younger sister. She told Liz everything. Liz heard about Matilda's first kiss when the girl was thirteen, giggling about a boy in her algebra class as her and Liz shared a banana split. At the beginning of Matilda's sophomore year of high school, she had confessed of going farther with her boyfriend of seven months, the sixteen-year-old blushing in her satin blue Cinderella costume at a fairly boring company Halloween party. She knew about Matilda's sprained ankle last year four days before her parents, when she tried to stop Amy from driving off in Julia's brand new BMW. And she'd even been confided in about Matilda's first time with her boyfriend Seth who'd she'd been dating for almost a year, the awkward details sputtering out between twitching and shifty eyes after Matilda had accidentally drank too much wine at dinner. She also witnessed Matilda's decision to break up with Seth three months later, near the end of her junior year of high school, because in a somewhat surprise twist of genders, he had become too clingy. Liz knows she can be a little overprotective. So, she ignores the warning lights zigzagging her pulse like a frenzied heart monitor when she sees Matilda and Christian flirting.
For an entire month, she doesn't comment on the amount of time they spend talking and laughing around the office in the afternoons Matilda volunteers after school, which become more and more frequent. She doesn't question Matilda when the younger girls' eyes focus too much on Christian from across the room or that she smiles more when anyone mentions him. Liz bites her tongue, hoping this is a passing attraction.
This hope seems to drift farther from reality when she walks in the office kitchen. Christian is holding an unopened container of yogurt above Matilda's head as she strains her arm to reach it. He's grinning. She's almost dying laughing.
Liz stops by the door, far enough to remain unnoticed.
"Christian." Matilda sounds like she's scolding him, swatting the air.
"Haven't you heard that you need to be this tall to eat Yoplait?" He waves the small, white container back and forth.
Matilda jumps up slightly, losing her balance and steadying herself with a hand on his chest. He finally lowers his arm to offer her the yogurt. "You know, I heard being a dwarf is a good thing when you're a gymnast."
She playfully grabs the chilled dairy product, keeping a palm against the front of his button-up. The touch becomes more of a caress as she says, "Gymnasts aren't just short. We're flexible too."
Liz wants to slap Matilda over the head. Instead, she bustles inside while pretending to read the patient chart in her hands. Even in her peripheral vision she catches them hurriedly scamper apart like interrupted cockroaches. She grabs her left over grilled chicken breast and green beans from the refrigerator and walks out of the room just as quickly as she came in.
Hours later, Liz is washing her hands in the girls' bathroom, looking forward to driving home to her couch and the ten o' clock news. She's mentally reciting the alphabet as she always does when cleaning her hands, when Matilda walks into the bathroom.
Matilda steps back. "Hi," she says. After a pause, she shakes her head. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting anyone else. I thought you already left."
She smiles. "I wish. I still have some small things to do before I get to leave. What's a busy girl like you staying here so late?"
Matilda plays with the tips of her hair. "I just got caught up with some filing. Then we decided to go out to dinner afterwards, so I worked on, or really tried to work on a paper in my dad's office."
Liz's smile brightens. "Aww, you and Sean are having a daddy-daughter dinner?"
She seems to take a quick a breath and shut her mouth. "Well, Dad is pretty busy, so I'm grabbing some food with Christian."
Liz's entire face sours. "Just the two of you? Alone?"
Matilda raises a recently plucked blonde eyebrow. "Yeah. I mean, it's just Christian, not like a vampire or a Jehovah's Witness or something."
She rips a paper towel from the automated machine. "I think those would both be safer alternatives."
Matilda stares at her for a moment, maybe waiting for a punch line. "Are you feeling okay? You've seemed in a bad mood for a while."
It warms Liz to hear Matilda concerned, and she can't seem to get the right words out. "I'm fine. I just think…I'd like to see you enjoying your senior year with your friends more and spending less of it trapped in here."
"I like working here." Matilda sweetly touches Liz's arm. "Plus, you're my friend. No worries, Lizzy."
Liz's jaw nearly clicks from the pressure she uses to tighten her teeth together. "What did you just call me?"
Matilda blushes, moving away slightly. "Sorry, Christian says it all the time. He said you liked the nickname. I should probably go."
"Matilda," Liz says sternly. "I wouldn't believe much of what he has to say. Please remember that."
She nods with an unreadable expression. "Goodnight."
Liz heaves two crumbled paper balls in the trash can, wishing she'd said more, knowing who she needs to talk to next.
"Come in." His voice is muffled, probably with food.
Stepping inside, Liz closes the door behind her as Sean takes another hearty bite of a salad that Liz is positive Matilda whipped up for him. The folder for tomorrow morning's consultation lies open on his desk.
Sean gives her a polite, welcoming smile. "What can I do for you, Liz?"
Her smile is thin. "Sean, I need to tell you something."
His fork is forgotten, posture straightening, attention honing in on her. He gestures for her to sit across from him. "Is everything alright?"
"I'll stand, if that's okay." She clears her throat. "Sean, how are you and Christian doing?"
Some tension seems to ease from his shoulders. "How are we doing?"
"I mean, are the two of you as close as you were? Are you spending much time together outside of work?"
"I wouldn't say our relationship is exactly as it was. He's been gone a long time, and it will take a while to rebuild what we had. But, Christian isn't shy about visiting. When you mention it, well, Christian seems to be either here or my house. Why?"
She tries to tell him gently. "I think Christian might have some ulterior motives for coming over so often, maybe building a relationship with a different McNamara."
He squints, his face crinkling in puzzlement. "I'm not quite sure I know what you're getting at."
"Why are Christian and Matilda going out on some dinner date?"
He seems slightly offended. "Liz, it's not a date. Julia is out of town and there's isn't a lot of food in the house, so I offered to take them both out, until I realized I still had some work here. Christian was generous enough to pay and give her a ride home."
"And you think that's wise?"
He's still wearing the same look of confusion. "Do you have a problem?"
"Sean, they've been flirting, practically circling each other like a couple of cats in heat for nearly a month around here."
Sean chuckles. "Christian and Matilda? My Matilda? Liz, that's crazy. Christian just got back in town and Matilda is merely being friendly because she knows he doesn't have a lot of friends, and they happen to have a lot of things in common. Is that really a crime?"
"No, that's not a crime." She sighs. "But unless you'd like to walk in on something that is a crime, I'd suggest you pay a little more attention."
"Liz, you're jumping to conclusions," Sean says.
"Alright, but just do me a favor, and keep an eye out." Her tone is friendly, but firm. "I know we both care a lot about Matilda."
"Sure thing, Liz."
She swears the ten o'clock news will watch as tame as the home shopping network after this mess of a day.
A/N: Reviews would be awesome :)