A/N and disclaimers: In addition to the Sailor Moon 'verse, I also don't own Grey's Anatomy, Armani, Taco Bell, Pepsi, Fire sauce, Mickey Mouse, Calvin and Hobbes, Shakespeare, Strawberry Mint Orbit, Jelly Bellies, Tiffany's, etc. Zachy owns his own disgusting eating habits and verbal diarrhea. Thanks to everyone who liked and reviewed Tokens of Love! This is the first chapter of its sequel.
A hospital pediatric ward was an usual place for a first date on a Saturday night.
Dr. Amy Anderson stitched up the gash on her eight-year-old patient's forehead with gentle fingers. The boy, a brash young daredevil with a head of inky curls, had been a patient of hers for the last two years. In the waiting room, visibly worried and pacing in white patent Mary Janes and lacy socks, was a pretty little girl about his age with wispy blonde curls and tear-filled sea-green eyes.
"There, Michael. You are all set," Amy pronounced as she took off her rubber gloves. "Be more careful next time you climb a tree after Tracey's cat, okay?" There was no point in telling him NOT to climb trees, or do wheelies on his bike, or take dares from his friends, but he was young still, and resilient, and he did listen to advice about crash helmets and kneepads. She opened the door, and the little girl called Tracey rushed in.
"MIKEY!" she reached the table where he sat in a flurry of pink skirts and trembling lips. "Are you okay?" She hugged him tightly before remembering herself, and Amy grinned as her fearless patient blushed to the tips of his ears even as he made a manful grimace and shrugged her off.
"Gee golly whiz, Tracey, it's just some stitches, not like I got surgery or something. Bobby MacNeill got his appendage thing taken out and they cut his stomach open." There was a note of boyish awe and envy in the last statement.
"I was really worried and I'm glad you're okay and thank you for getting Midget down and does it hurt any more?"
Michael Conway, a veteran to bumps and bruises of all kinds, had refused any anesthetics, but he shrugged airily now in the face of Tracey's tearful, adoring expression. The little girl all but had hearts in her eyes when Michael gave her the lollipop Amy gave him. His mother came in then, thanked Amy, and ushered both kids out.
"My boy hasn't been the same since that little girl moved into the neighborhood last year," Michael's mother told Amy with a shake of her head. "And she follows him around everywhere. Insisted on coming along to the hospital today and cried the whole way here while holding his hand. He says he put up with the hand-holding because it would have hurt her feelings otherwise."
Amy smiled nostalgically. "Well, you've already gotten the first date over with, as it were. And you've got another eight years or so before you have to worry about the next one."
Mrs. Conway laughed at that, picked up Michael's belongings, and left the room. Amy glanced at the clock, and noting that it was quite a few hours past her time to punch out, made her way out of the examination room.
"Have I ever told you that you rock the Grey's Anatomy look?" The man who spoke had wavy hair the colour of old gold and wore a chalk-striped, charcoal Armani suit that emphasized his lean, lanky form. A silk tie was unknotted and dangling from his neck, two patterned bands of pearl gray against snowy linen. He approached Amy with a smile on his face and took her hands.
She blushed. "You look very nice, Zach. Whereas I... Well. I'm sorry that I'm so late."
"I had a visit today with an elderly client regarding his will, hence the monkey suit, and it's not a problem," he told her. "What did Michael do this time?" It had not been the first time he'd waited for her at the hospital and seen the boy in question.
"He hurt himself going up a tree after his little girlfriend's cat for her," Amy answered, giving him an arch look. "SOME little boys are gentlemen and don't hide in stairwells looking to bully little girls."
"Hey, it's unfair to dredge up the tales of my misspent youth," he protested with a laugh. "So, where do you want to go eat?"
She glanced down at her pale blue scrubs and sensible white sneakers. "Nowhere fancy."
They cruised around for a while, and ended up in the drive-thru lane of Taco Bell with the usual Saturday-night crowd of those who wanted to quickly fill their stomachs with cheap alcohol buffer before going to the bars or clubs. Zach placed their order, and Amy could almost hear the cashier's relief through the staticky speaker that they, at least, weren't rowdy bar-hopping types arguing over who was paying for what.
He bought her some type of burrito and a Pepsi, and it tasted surprisingly good despite the loads of preservatives and sodium inevitably characteristic of fast food. Zach pulled his car into a parking spot and Amy watched in amazement and a little bit of horror as he poured about two dozen packets of Fire sauce on his nachos.
"Do you want any food with your sauce today?" she wanted to know.
He merely heaped three sides of jalapenos on the runny yellow and dark red mess on top of his chips and dug in. "It's good," he pronounced after several bites.
"I'm surprised you have any taste buds left to develop an opinion on the matter one way or another," she shook her head as she finished her burrito and carefully folded up the empty wrapper. They pulled over to the dumpster after finishing their food at her insistence so that she could throw away the trash, and sometime on the drive back to his house, exhaustion set in.
She was dimly aware of him pulling into the garage, of strong arms lifting her and carrying her inside and up the stairs. She hadn't officially moved in, but stayed over more often than not, and gradually, the house that he'd bought around the same time that he'd opened up his law practice was developing signs of female habitation. Moonlight filtered through the muslin curtains of the bedroom (an improvement upon the tablecloth that he'd had thumb-tacked up before) as he laid her gently down on the bed and untied her shoes.
"Get some sleep," she heard him whisper as he tucked her in and pulled the covers up to her chin. There was the warm, gentle pressure of firm lips on her forehead, and she smiled.
She drifted off with his arms around her and the oddest feeling that there was something different about the bed.
When Amy awoke on Easter Sunday the first thing that she noticed was that the floor was a bit farther away from her than she expected. Startled at the distance, she sat up bolt upright and looked around her wildly.
The room was the same: cream-coloured walls and a mahogany dresser, a Mickey Mouse tie draped carelessly over the doorknob of the walk-in closet. On the bookshelf, his collection of Calvin and Hobbes comic books lay cheek by jowl with her collection of Shakespeare's plays. The bed...!!
There was an actual bed.
Zachary O'Connor had, since his law school days, always slept on a mattress thrown on the floor of a bedroom wherever he happened to live. She had nagged him about getting an actual bed ever since she found out about this habit, and he'd always contended that with a mattress on the floor, he'd not hurt himself if he fell off the bed while asleep. But now, said mattress was propped up on a bedframe, and there were honest-to-goodness carved mahogany head-and-footboards to match his dresser.
She could not have been more touched had he bought her five dozen long-stemmed red roses or diamonds the size of golf balls. And so it was that when he poked his head in the door, wearing jeans and carrying a tray bearing a plate of toast, a glass of orange juice and a small basket, she sniffled and thanked him.
"It's just toast, honey... oh, the bed?" He gave her a lopsided grin. "I bought that Friday, and the furniture store has free next-day delivery. I thought you might like it."
"I do, I love it," she set the tray down on the nightstand and wrapped her arms around him. "I love you."
"I love you more. All this for a bed," he quipped, and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. "Happy Easter, by the way."
It was then that she noted the small, pale blue Easter basket on the tray next to the plate of toast. "I'm a bit old for this, hmm?" she remarked as she picked it up and glanced inside. Nestled on a bed of crinkly green cellophane grass was a pack of Strawberry Mint Orbit, and she laughed as she picked it up. "The grown-up variety of strawberry bubblegum, Zach?"
"Something like that." There was something in his eyes that belied the lightness of his tone. "There's more. I'm going to expect you to share the Jelly Bellies."
She dug through the basket, finding a small packet of the aforementioned jelly beans, a Swiss chocolate bunny, and a small box covered with navy velvet, and she froze. With shaking fingers, she opened it to reveal a pear-shaped sapphire surrounded by diamonds and set in platinum, nestled against stark-white satin.
He had a whole speech planned, and at the sight of her, barefoot and wearing wrinkled scrubs and a shell-shocked expression, it drained out of his head and he raked a hand in agitation through his strawberry-blond curls. His usual eloquence deserting him, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"If you marry me, I'll buy whatever furniture you want." He reached her side and tipped her face up to meet his flustered gaze. "Raye helped me pick it out, since I don't know a single damn thing about shiny things and carats and sizes and stuff and would probably get kicked out by Tiffany's on the basis of gross and unforgivable ignorance. I had all these things I wanted to say so that I'd look really awesome and your brain would turn off for long enough to say yes, but I forgot them. I'm never quite sane or level-headed around you, but I kind of like it. I want you to know that you've ruined me for anyone else-- possibly since we were kids, by the way. And that while I'll probably continue to irritate you and stare at you until you blush because you're so damn sexy it drives me wild, I'll always love you. So, uh, yeah... if you'll say yes, that'd be really awesome. And that was the lamest proposal ever."
She slipped the ring on and waited until he was finished before reaching up and pressing her lips to his, and smiled against his mouth as his arms reached around her waist and pulled her close. "Is that a yes?" he asked when he pulled away.
"Well," she deliberately kept her expression bland. "You DID bribe me with home furnishings." Giving up, she laughed, the sound silvery and carefree as a young girl's, "Of course I will."
He gave what could only be called a whoop and lifted her off her feet, twirling her around in dizzying circles, and she had time for a single giggle before his lips caught hers again. Both of them fell onto the new bed, laughing, and her new ring twinkled like a beacon as their fingers linked, and she made a mental note to tell him much later how happy he'd made her.
It was quite a bit later when he cuddled her to his chest and fed her bits of cold toast. She made a contented noise against his shoulder as the ring sparkled in the sunlight shining through the window. "For the record, by the way, your proposal was perfect."
"It was chock-ful of verbal diarrhea," he remarked, though there was a definite note of giddy triumph in his tone.
"I'm glad that I can make you lose your coherence," she said primly, and at the double-entendre, he wrestled her underneath him again. Green eyes glittered in joy and amusement.
"You were right, of course," he declared as he framed her face in his hands. "It was definitely a good idea to get a bed."