Relax, it's still me; I just changed my name again. :D I'm really sorry that I haven't updated before, guys. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, New Year's and that 2010 has so far been kind to you. Mine was great; though I got RENT for Christmas and developed what my sister calls an "unhealthy obsession"…but I call it "undying love". Anyway, that is my excuse for not updating earlier, haha.
In slightly more somber news, I feel it is right to mention that this is the final chapter. Don't look at me that way; I know I said two more chapters but I figured out a way to jam the solution to Perry and Elliot's love troubles and the fluffy epilogue in the same chapter. So, I guess this is the end. For a slightly more sentimental author's note, go to the end. I'll write it there :)
For now, enjoy!
My Lapse In Judgment
My Lapse In Judgment
(please don't comment on my lack of originality)
In life, there are always going to be moments that you wish you could change; moments where you lose your mind for a moment, where you do something out of character or downright stupid. If you're lucky, these moments might not matter. If you're really lucky, they'll be the best damn things to ever happen to you. But if you're neither…well, those moments could haunt you forever.
But I suppose, at the end of the day, how you deal with the consequences is what affects the rest of your life. It determines what kind of person you are; whether you're a coward or a fighter.
So, what do my momentary lapses of judgment say about me?
Of course, I'm not the type of man to lose my way very often. I'm not. I'll admit, my constant dealings with my ex-wife were destructive, for both of us, and if I could, I would take it back and fix it. Hell, in different circumstances, perhaps Jordan and I could have been really happy together. But in this case, separate lives were the only solutions.
I'll admit that I have made some errors with a few patients—bad calls, mostly, but dammit, at least I tried. In the end, that's all you can do: try and save them and hopefully succeed.
And then there was my gigantic, life-changing, irresponsible lapse in judgment: getting drunk and knocking up the most annoying female doctor I have ever met, save for Newbie. I swear, if anything almost made me swear off alcohol, it was discovering Barbie was pregnant. But I didn't, mind you. I didn't give up drinking but I sure as hell didn't run away either. I was an idiot and it was my consequence to deal with.
Well, ours, technically. It takes two to tango, right?
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had run away, or Barbie had got rid of the baby, or even if Mrs. Hillsdale hadn't died and we never ended up at that bar almost a year ago. I know one thing for sure: I wouldn't be in my apartment, with Barbie curled up on one side and our eight-week-old son sleeping soundly in the next room.
I stretch a little and stifle a yawn. It's almost three-thirty AM and I haven't slept all night. It's probably the knowledge that the moment I do, Benji will probably be wide awake and screaming the next. Alternatively, it could be because this is the first time Barbie has fallen asleep in my bed since…well, we dated.
But she practically lives here as it is. All of Benji's things are here and usually he keeps us up long enough that she never has the energy to go home. Most of the time, she crashes on the couch but this…this is different. This is the longest Benji has slept through the night.
This sucks, because now I can't sleep.
Next to me, Barbie stirs and rolls over to face me. I groan and clench my eyes shut. Maybe if I wish hard enough, it'll be tomorrow morning and I'll magically not be exhausted. Sigh…
"Perry?" a thick voice mumbles and my eyes fly open. Barbie is leaning up on one shoulder and blinking blearily at me. Her hair is tousled, her eyes are red and, well, she looks beautiful. Damn.
"Is he still asleep?" she asks, a degree of disbelief in her voice. I'm too tired to make any witty comeback.
"Um, have you slept?"
She giggles and snuggles up to me, as though we're a real couple as opposed to two really messed up people who…you know what? I'll finish that sentence tomorrow.
At quarter to five in the morning, Benji starts wailing. Damn that child…
Elliot staggers off of the bed and out the door while I roll up stubbornly in the covers. There's no way that I'm getting up now, not when I'm warm and could still get another fifteen minutes' snooze.
"Scoot," Barbie's voice cracks through my sleep-hazed mind and I obediently wriggle over as she sits on the bed and crosses her legs. Benji is in her arms, all cosy in his white jumpsuit and mouth open like a baby bird's in anticipation of feeding. Though I close my eyes, I can still hear the scuffle as Barbie opens her pajama shirt.
After a few moments, during which Ben is blissfully quiet, Barbie opens her damned mouth, "Isn't he precious?"
"I'm not getting any sleep, am I?"
"You know, I think he's beginning to look a little more like you," she continues, completely ignoring me, "Oh, you do remember that Paige is coming out next week to see the baby, right?"
"How could I forget?" I grumble, sitting up and rubbing my eyes. Ever since Ben's birth, a metaphorical clown car of family and friends have been breezing in and out cooing over Ben and passing him around like a trophy. Elliot loves it, of course; she's more than happy to entertain people as long as they praise her and her gorgeous son. Meanwhile, I'm usually in the kitchen trying to find the scotch Elliot so cleverly hid and wondering what everyday appliances could make useful emergency weapons in case another "uncle" comes over and slaps me on the back in congratulations again.
"Relax. It'll go fine," she says casually and looks down as Ben gurgles, "Oh, are you done, sweetie?"
That's it. "Barbie, why are you here?"
"What do you mean?"
She looks confused. Shit, I wish I didn't love that face.
"You have a house of your own—one which, I gather, you haven't spent time even near in eons. Instead you're here, every day and every night. To be honest, it feels as though I have a wife again, only without the consolation of sex whenever she feels like it. What's going on?"
It's only as I pose my question that I realize the tips of Barbie's ears are red. Naturally, my eyebrows shoot up, "Uh, Barbie…?"
"Do you want sex every night?" she asks in a squeak, "Cos, you know, we could. Well, not every night because I don't know about you but it feels like I'm always tired nowadays, and if we did start then that sort of would compromise our relationship and—"
"What relationship?" I demand, effectively breaking her off, "All I know is that we have a kid and you slept in my bed last night."
Elliot blinks at me, as if genuinely surprised, "I, uhm…" then she looks down at Benji, who has by now dozed off. Then, she lifts her eyes to mine, a steely look to them that I have rarely seen, "What do you want it to be?"
It takes all of my willpower not to drop my jaw. For one thing, it actually sounds as though we are heading into Relationship Territory, in which we actually discuss our likelihood of a future together—something neither of us are that good at. For another, it doesn't help that Elliot's voice becomes low and husky; almost suggestive.
Maybe it's that seductive quality, or my own messed-up yet powerful feelings for her. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't had a full night's sleep in two months. Heck, maybe it's a combination of all three. Whatever it is, something makes me lean forward and brush my lips against hers.
Of course, it isn't that simple. The moment our mouths make contact, she reaches up with one arm and grips the back of my head, pulling me closer until our teeth clash. Her lips part and I take the opportunity to deepen the kiss, leaning towards her and groaning. My hand moves to slip over her waist and bring her towards me but instead my fingers curl around Ben's face of their own accord.
I break away from Elliot, who whines at the loss of contact and look down at my son. He's sleeping peacefully now, his head turned to my touch and his breath soft against my fingers. Despite whatever situation I just launched myself into, I smile.
"Told you he was precious," a breathless voice says. Elliot grins at me, her lips red and wet and her eyes a little wide. She looks so thoroughly kissed that I want to kiss her again.
"Elliot," I say suddenly and her eyes widen a little more. I called her Elliot, so she knows it's serious. Unfortunately, it's so impromptu that I actually have no idea what I'm going to say that's so fucking serious.
"Yeah?" she murmurs, her eyes flitting across my face. My hand slips from Benji to her trouser-covered leg and I rub it absently.
I love you.
The words are so unexpected as they shove their way to the front of my mind that I snatch my hand away from her. I love you. Why the hell would I want to say that? The last person I said that to—excluding my son—was Jordan and she cared so little she might as well have laughed in my fucking face. Why would I want to put myself through that humiliation again?
But dammit, I do love Elliot. I love her and Ben and this whole little family we somehow manage to make up. I even love the fact that she sometimes irritates me until I want to throw myself off the roof.
"Elliot…" I repeat, swallowing nervously, "I…I don't think you're as annoying as you used to be."
Her face falls. Shit.
"I'm not?" she says in confusion. I shake my head.
"N…no. I think I tolerate you a hell of a lot more than I once did," I reply and then add (God forbid, shyly), "I can't stop thinking about putting up with you even more."
There is a flicker of surprise in her eyes before understanding abruptly dawns on her face. Then I realize that I didn't have to say it to make her know how I feel. Somehow, she understands anyway.
"I love you too," she smiles and presses her lips to mine again. I cup her face with both hands and take a moment to enjoy the feel of triumph.
She loves me back. And maybe this could be the start of my first healthy relationship.
But, of course, with Elliot and me, that kiss on the bed isn't the start. The start is resting in the crook of Elliot's arm and feeling a little neglected. Promptly, Elliot breaks away as Benji starts screaming.
"Oh, no, honey," she croons and then stares at me as she clambers off the bed, "I'll just calm him down a little. Stay right there; we're not finished yet!"
Then she maneuvers Benji onto her shoulder and walks out the room, whispering sweet nothings to him to cease his cries. I'm aware that we both probably look and feel like crap, that the house is a mess after weeks of caring and adapting to a newborn and that the hospital is still calling for our attention in the distance. Despite all the craziness, I lean back, shut my eyes and smile.
Lapse in judgment? Maybe so.
Best lapse in judgment ever.
Let it never be forgotten that I am the Queen of Cheesy Endings.
But all of our problems were resolved, yes?
Well, it's been one hell of a, what, ten months? Let's just say year. It's been a crazy ride, with a lot of slowness from me and amazing patience from all of you and you have no idea how much I appreciate and admire you for that. I really hope that I managed to meet your expectations and keep everything to your liking, but you know that if I got any details or characterizations wrong, I would really like to know. Con-crit is the only way to know how to improve, right?
Goodness, I'm getting teary-eyed! As I said, you've been amazing readers and I hope you drop me a final review to let me know what you thought. Thank you so much, guys!