Author's Note: This is April/Stark. I kind of like them together, so I wrote this. Don't like it? Don't read it. Thanks.
"Nobody ever lies about being lonely."
- From Here to Eternity
He's been avoiding her eyes. They still work together; he still gives her surgeries; they even exchange pleasantries and the occasional joke. But he won't look her in the eye. She knew it wouldn't be easy for either of them, but she never expected it to hurt so much. Of course, she's fine. She doesn't get distracted and she never cries. But little things catch her in quiet moments, like the way he would put his hand on the small of her back just before he opened doors for her. It's the end of a long day now, and as she pushes the button to call for the elevator, she suddenly remembers that the last time he looked her in the eye, steadily and openly, he had told her she was beautiful. The elevator dings and the doors open, and there he is.
"Doctor Stark," she says, stepping into the elevator.
"Doctor Kepner," he replies, his voice not unfriendly. He glances up but his eyes never meet hers. She feels her face fall; she knows he didn't see it. At the next floor, a nurse gets off, and they are alone. They haven't been alone since she told him he was only a friend. The silence, the distance between them presses against her. She draws in a breath.
"I miss you."
He is staring at his shoes. He doesn't look up.
"And I know that I hurt you, but I got so comfortable around you, and then everyone was saying that a movie at your place meant pants were coming off, and I—I got scared, so I pushed you away, but now I miss you."
He tucks his chin against his chest.
"Robert, I miss you." Her face says it all, but he won't look at her.
"I would never—" finally he looks at her, square in the eye, "never make you move faster than you wanted to. I'm not the nicest guy, I know, but I would never do that." His eyes are fierce and emphatic. He doesn't look away, and she smiles, slowly. She doesn't say a word. She doesn't need to.
The elevator doors open and he steps out. He turns back to face her and says, "April, I miss you, too."
He's still looking at her as the elevator doors close between them.