A/N: In my opinion, what should have happened during White Wedding where April finally told Stark off about the way he was treating her and how much she cares about her patients. The italics are actual dialogue from the show and everything else is my own creation (after the scene, of course).
She had done a terrible job today. Well, he admitted to himself with a sigh, that wasn't entirely accurate. After all, he had seen her attempt to communicate with Asha, a child who lived with HIV and advanced TB, and couldn't speak a word of English. He had to admit that he admired that about her - her ability to reach above and beyond for her patients - but it irritated him that Owen Hunt had to repeat himself because she couldn't stay focused. The irritation only grew, now, because he needed her and she was nowhere to be found. For the second time today, she was losing focus for the sake of one patient who would probably die anyway - a cause that, to him, hardly seemed worth it.
After a few unanswered pages and asking around, he found her in the empty cafeteria, making something. Shaking his head in disgust, he opened the door and walked in to see that she was stirring whatever it was for whoever it was that she deemed more important that getting back to him on her other patients. Stark threw his arms up in the air, exasperated, as he walked toward her. The cafeteria was empty save a few janitorial workers, and he liked it that way. He wasn't a man who enjoyed much company and strangers around him listening in on his conversations was uncomfortable for him, especially in this hospital where word spread like wildfire. The thought brought him back to a month or so ago - when she had shot him down - because word of them had spread around and it had gotten to her. She couldn't lie to him; he knew the reason for her backing out was because of constant peer pressure. Stark scowled and shook his head, trying to focus on why he was really here. The thought of her rejection, however, left a sour taste in his mouth and emitted through his tone as he asked her, "Apparently you stopped answering my pages in order to...What? Join the kitchen staff? I need those post-op reports."
April didn't look up as he put his hands on the counter-top and watched her stir the porridge; she couldn't look at him now, not when she had to focus on this and Asha and helping her patient - because that was all that really mattered right now. Not Rob - Stark - not the way he treated her and not the way he stared at her now with disgust because he couldn't believe this took priority over his post-op reports. Were she not busy, she'd throw his scoff right back at him. Instead, she answered, "Dry dressing applied to 118, vitals stable on your patient post-op-"
He finally stared down at what she was doing and commented, "You were exposed to HIV positive blood. I suppose you've checked yourself for cuts."
April looked up at him finally and snapped, "I'm a doctor. We get exposed to things all the time. I know proper protocol."
Stark didn't like the smirk on her face; he hadn't meant it the way she had taken it - that he was attempting to condescend and didn't think she was capable of taking care of herself. Despite everything, the thought of her becoming infected with HIV positive blood...That bothered him because, no matter what, she wasn't any other doctor...And he wouldn't be okay if something happened to her. Flashing back to the way she had run to Asha without considering protecting herself flashed in his mind, tugged at his heart, and he forced it away with a scowl. He had to not focus on that and the reason he was here - because it was so much easier berating her than fighting off the feelings that rushed back whenever he looked at her. "And this sticky yellow mess here has taken priority over reporting back to me because...?"
"This sticky yellow mess is sema." She bounced on her heels and glared at him for the way he stared at her like she was a child and beneath him. But this was Asha, and here she would not back down - not anymore, not for this girl who had no one to fight for her. "It is a corn based porridge that happens to be a staple for most east African countries. I found the recipe online."
He shook his head, perplexed but allowed her to continue without much rebuttal - showing him why every patient was lucky to have her. But he couldn't help but stare at her like this - like he didn't want to be around her - because he had to focus...He had to focus because he couldn't think about her and what she had meant to him and how she had rejected him and how, now, she was proving to be everything he had hoped for and more.
"I don't why Asha hasn't been eating, but I'm sure she's not used to eating processed American food." She looked up at him and scowled when he shrugged and motioned for her to continue, as if he didn't understand and needed further explanation. "But I do know when she does is ready to eat after surgery, she's going to be hungry and she's used to corn porridge. So while I can't make her talk, I can't do anything about the fact that she is sick and living with advanced TB, and is a ten year old living with AIDS, I can do this! I can make my patient something she will eat! So unless you're here to insult me some more, Dr. Stark, I'm a little busy now...Making porridge."
Stark rested his arms against the countertop and inspected her closely, stunned by the way she had stood up against him - all in the name of her patient. It was clear to him that she was no longer nervous, no longer had faltered when trying to find her voice. Her voice was clear - though he thought for a moment it was going to crack - and he had heard her. Still stunned, he chuckled softly. Stark continued to stare at her as she glared up at him. "Wow."
"What?" She snapped, angrily, throwing the wooden spoon down as she stopped stirring. "What now? I just-"
"Dr. Kepner, stop." He stood straight up and couldn't help but smile at the way she glared at him - both confused and infuriated. He couldn't help but laugh again.
April only shook her head and bent down to continue stirring - because this took precedent over his snarky insults and the way he stared at her. When she looked up again, she froze. He was standing beside her and had gently took hold of her arm to stop her from stirring. She couldn't help but stare at him - open-mouthed - but didn't pull her arm away as he stared at her, his eyes no longer condescending but...soft. She hadn't seen this look in her eyes since he had asked her out, since he had accepted her rejection with an attempt to understand. April was so stunned by the gentleness in his eyes that she couldn't find her voice anymore. This wasn't a side she was used to, so she stood frozen and stared at him, at the way his mouth curled gently in a smile.
Stark looked down at the bowl before he looked back up at her again. "That took guts."
"What?" She hoped he hadn't heard the crack in her voice.
"Standing up to me like that for your patient," he answered, chuckling softly. "That...Good job, Kepner."
She scowled at his compliment and forced her arm away from him, turning back to her porridge. She sighed heavily when he stopped her again and stared at him with fiery eyes - because he was keeping her away from her goal and for what? So he could insult her more? She scoffed and shook her head. "Dr. Stark-"
She hadn't heard him. "I think-"
"April!" He took hold of the spoon and threw it down against the counter-top, ignoring the splatter it made. He couldn't keep his eyes off her. Standing so close, feeling her bare skin underneath his fingertips, he fought for control and he knew what he had to do. "Just...Listen."
"Fine," April snapped again, something he knew he deserved. "Talk."
"What can I do to help?"
"What?" Her voice cracked again, and she knew he had heard it, because he smiled brightly and his eyes...She had never seen that before. Whatever it was, she couldn't place it, but it warmed her heart to the point where she could only stare at him open-mouthed in surprise and shock and, God, he wasn't making this easy for her. There was that charm - the same charm he had shown her during their "dates" - and she was finding herself drawn into it again. His simple smile and warm eyes chilled her, sent shivers down her spine because his stare was so intense and raw and honest that she wasn't sure she would ever breathe again.
"What can I do to help?" He repeated, letting her arm go. It didn't move, and remained suspended in the air. "I want to help."
Stark nodded. "What do you need from me?"
April finally found her voice and soon - after she had told him what to do - they were working in tandem in the small kitchenette, doing something she never imagined would happen: he was helping her care for a patient, putting aside their differences for the sake of Asha. Every once and a while they would get in each other's way but she didn't care. It felt nice to have him move around her without throwing insults her way. He actually worked with her for once and didn't talk down to her, but instead treated her as an equal. She would laugh at his jokes, too, and the way he didn't seem to know his way around the kitchen despite being able to handle a scalpel perfectly.
As they worked, she found her breath again and she took large gulps of air in case he sent her back down again. She was certain he would because this charm - this sweet sincerity - warmed her heart and sent her head spinning. April hoped she could wipe him out of his mind but his smile, the way he stared at her with such tenderness, she couldn't forget. Soon she found herself smiling at him for no reason other than she wanted to see a grin curl on his face - on the fact that was normally cold. And when she saw that warmth, she couldn't breathe anymore. She couldn't do anything but smile at him as he grinned at her for seconds, the silence speaking volumes.
And, like that, he had pulled her back in.