A/N: This is how the ending of "This Is How We Do It" should have gone, in my opinion. I so wanted April to change her mind and go watch the movie with him, and when she didn't, I wasn't happy.
So this is my take. It's a one-shot. Read and review, if you're so inclined.
April had thought her day wouldn't get any more irritating. After the slew of comments and snide remarks from her peers about her dates with Robert, she had buckled from the pressure and canceled their movie date, citing work. That was a lie, and he had caught her in it; she wasn't sure why she thought she'd get away with it, and she knew she hadn't the moment he looked away from her.
The look on his face – despite telling her he understood – told her she had broken his heart. Somehow, through the fog, she realized her rejection had hurt her, too. Only adding to her misery were Jackson and Lexie making out on the couch like they owned this house and no one else lived here.
Promptly, she kicked them out.
April rolled her eyes as Jackson and Lexie moved from the couch. She had come down here in an attempt to forget about her troubles for a few moments, not make the pining worse. Her agitation level was so high on alert that she glared angrily when Jackson took some of her popcorn as he walked away. This was definitely not how she had envisioned her night when she woke up this morning, but circumstances and peer pressure had forced her here. Once the movie started, April knew she had to roll with unexpected.
As she saw the title – From Here to Eternity – she tried to imagine exactly what she had expected. They had a dinner date scheduled tonight at seven, which wasn't uncommon. All of their other dates had been dinner in some quant, quiet restaurant that allotted time to talk and enjoy each other's company away from the chaos of other diners. She had savored the soft silences, too, because they weren't filled with awkward stares but a solid contentment she hadn't felt with anyone before. Every so often, before Robert could construct a bridge between conversations, she'd catch his soft, gentle smile and find herself smiling back.
The pauses were where they had lived.
Not in the moments of conversation about work or life, but in the silence because there, she realized, he had opened himself to her more honestly than words would ever express. She could have the words with anyone – even Alex – but the pauses, the gentle calmness that swept over his face when he looked at her . . . Every expression wrote a story he'd never vocalize, a story only she could see.
Like the way his eyes would fill with wonder at one of her stories, or how he'd take complete interest by leaning forward and coaxing her with an encouraging smile. She wouldn't forget the way his eyes flashed in a sudden sadness when she told him about the patient she had lost which subsequently got her fired – as if he never wanted her to experience such a horrible feeling and would do anything to shield her from that horror. Every so often she'd catch him staring at her, his green eyes so gentle and warm that it made her breath catch. He had a way of stirring up her heart in moments when she least expected, and that had been more important than any life conversation.
His eyes told her more about his life than his mouth ever would.
She remembered once a crowd had walked past them and she had turned slightly to see that it was filled with beautiful women enjoying a girl's night out. His eyes hadn't left her, didn't even realize that a group had walked past, and didn't seem to care. Simply, he had smiled and waited for her to continue, hanging on every word.
She was certain she would never have that with him again.
April was certain she wouldn't have that with anyone else.
And that was the saddest part about this, which made her want to shrivel into the couch and never come up for air. Because if she hadn't listened to the comments from what she thought were experienced mouths, she wouldn't be sitting here on this couch all alone with a bowl of popcorn and her thoughts. She'd potentially be on his couch, and even though the idea was somewhat frightening, she would have seen his true colors, and lived in the pauses with him. They would have interacted in the silence with soft smiles and gentle, innocent touches.
April sighed heavily at the could have, would have, should have's that plagued her thoughts. She could be sitting with him, would have smiled at the way his eyes filled with interest watching the movie, and she should never have listened to Alex, Cristina, or Meredith. Maybe Lexie, because she was the only one who really supported a relationship with an older man.
The guilt wracked her heart so much that the popcorn became inedible, losing its taste. She threw it apart absentmindedly, and tried her damnedest to focus on the movie, but found her resolve dwindling as it had just gone to commercial. Great. The last thing she needed to focus on was an online dating commercial.
Her focus was so low that the ringing doorbell had jolted her from the couch. Were the movie on and she were invested, April was sure the sound would never have registered. Sighing heavily, April wondered if someone else would get the door. She didn't have the emotional energy to battle with her choices anymore, let alone physically move to answer the door. When no one else came down, April shook her head and walked toward the door. Opening it, she asked, almost curtly, "What do you want?"
And there he stood.
April's mouth suddenly clamped shut as he returned her stare, slightly confused and a little startled. He didn't move or speak, and instead stared at her closely, inspecting her to make sure she was real. She thought for a moment that he was trying to find her soul, and it was both overwhelming and marvelous. Her voice grew soft, the agitation gone, as she asked, "What are you doing here?"
Robert swallowed hard. Moments lapsed before he answered, almost a whisper, "I don't know."
April bit her lip softly. "How did you find out where I live?"
"Computer files. I have that ability as Head of Pediatrics," he answered matter-of-factly with a shrug. When discussing work, his voice was monotone and then he said, as if basked in wonder, "And I didn't realize I was here until now."
She swallowed hard. "Maybe not."
"I thought about it, about what you said about…us. And being friends and…" Robert stopped suddenly and his mouth clamped shut, as if admittance pained him. She had made him feel…He hadn't been alive until now, until she gave him something that he hadn't felt in such a long time. She definitely knew how to make his heart skip a beat with a simple look. And then she had shut him down and told him they couldn't be anything but friends. What was he thinking? Coming here and expecting different? He hated himself for it, and simply shook his head. "I don't know why I'm here. I'm sorry."
April watched as he swiftly turned around, avoiding her eyes, and began to walk down the steps. When he had only advanced a few steps, she told him, "I'm not."
Her words stopped him, but he didn't turn around. "You aren't?"
Finally, he pivoted and what she saw in his eyes sent chills down her spine. Such wonder and hope…it astounded her. His voice was stiff, bristled, as he asked, "I didn't interrupt anything, did I?"
April smiled gently at the contrast between the thoughts in his head that he verbally expressed and the message his heart attempted to hide that she saw in his eyes. She shook her head and was amazed to find her voice had gone soft, coy, like her soul was reaching out to his. "Just a movie."
Robert only nodded. "Well, I'll…I'll let you get back to it then."
April watched him walk a few steps again. "Robert?"
He stopped again, this time turning to face her without a second thought. "Yeah, April?"
"If you're not busy, maybe…" April paused. "Well, if you're interested…"
April wasn't sure after that about the tentativeness of his movements. He could have moved slowly or quickly, she didn't know. But somehow he had walked through the fortress of the door and helped her settle down on the couch with her popcorn and soda with ease. Now they sat, side-by-side, the movie playing on the small television screen. Every so often, he'd explain certain parts of the movie because she hadn't seen it before, whispering like they were in a crowded room and didn't want their conversation overheard. Then there were times when he'd smile and laugh, and she forgot how nice it was to see him smile.
Here they were again, living in the silence, comfortable, content, and April didn't ever want to see the light in his eyes die like it had the moment she'd rejected him.
For that reason, she didn't stop him as he kissed her tentatively; when he pulled away, moments later, she warmly returned his smile, his way of letting her know that he wasn't asking for more.
It was there, in the solidarity and solace of the couch that was hers – that wasn't anything the others could touch – where April found her courage, the truth that her heart was dying to get out but didn't know how. Though he had made his feelings clear, she noted that he demonstrated that he wasn't going to push for anything she didn't want. Wordlessly he had put his heart on the line, again.
And who was she to reject that? Reject this safety and comfort that simply his gaze brought? Without a word, she knew she had taken him by surprise when she returned the kiss. She wasn't sure what happened after that, if he had initiated it or not, but somehow all logic had crept into a dark corner, out of sight and out of mind because within moments she was leaning over him, his head against the arm of the couch. His response was passive, but not detached, and she knew every so often he was there when suddenly his kisses turned eager. Whenever she turned compliant herself, he'd match her pace perfectly, shifting gears like someone had handed him a scalpel and he was back to work and it didn't matter because all he cared about was the person before him.
What had she been thinking giving this up?
She was proud of herself, too, for not letting any pants come off – because, after all, he had given her no inclination that this was where they were headed. It was all in her head, she decided. Strangely, she didn't care who walked in. Jackson and Lexie's impromptu make out session suddenly made sense, and she made a mental note not to berate them again for it.
April separated from him for a moment to breathe, lips still near his. In this moment, she chuckled softly and shook her head, resting her head gently on his shoulder. April didn't need to see his face to know he was confused. Her small squeak of laughter was her only response when cupped her cheeks in his hands and forced her to look at him. "Hey."
Robert inspected her closely, his jaw clenched tightly as he tried to figure out the reason for the outburst. Finally, he smiled when she beamed. "Something funny?"
"Can…Can I ask you something?"
He nodded slowly. "Of course."
"Did you…Did you come over here expecting something?"
"No," he answered, and she knew by his even tone that he was telling her the truth. "Well, I came here expecting to sit here and watch a movie with you but that's it. Why?"
April shook her head. Alex, Meredith, and Cristina didn't know what they were talking about. "It's nothing, really."
Robert didn't believe her, but he had already pressed his luck once today, and lost her. He wasn't about to do it again. "Can we go back to kissing then? I really enjoyed that."
She smirked and, in response, bent her head to meet his lips again. He responded with such passion that it intoxicated her; April realized this was nothing like she'd ever experienced, monumentally different than her miss with Alex – because even though his kisses were full of fervor, she knew on some deeper level that he wasn't going to ask for anything more. She didn't know what she had been so afraid of.
Suddenly, it hit her like a train when his hands moved down her sides, gently grazing the bare skin that revealed itself from her shirt riding up. The contact of his skin against hers sent her brain into frenzy.
Robert felt the sudden change in her and pulled away from her gently. Gazing at her face carefully, intent, he saw a fear and nervousness that both scared and troubled him. "April?"
Her eyes refused to meet his.
"Yeah?" Her voice was meek as she stopped staring down at her hands, which were on his chest, and met his gaze.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah." April nodded furiously, hoping that would convince him when she saw a concerned stare. "I'm all right. I just…"
"What?" He inquired gently when she trailed off, tucking a stray hair behind her ear.
She had to clear her throat. "I just…um…I'm not ready for that tonight."
Within seconds his hands removed themselves from her skin, and he wrapped his arms around her long enough to pull her body tightly against his while he sat up so they were face-to-face. Gently, he cupped her cheeks and smiled at the way she refused to look at him again, staring down at her hands, which were still on his chest. "April, look at me."
After a moment, she did, and his eyes...They were so open, honest, that it made her want to cry. She knew she was right. There was a nice man inside him, and she was staring at it and he was opening his soul for her to see, and it was amazing and breathtaking. They sparkled in his tenderness and she found her breath catch as she kissed him suddenly, deeply, so she knew he wasn't going anywhere.
Making a decision, because Robert knew this had veered into a direction she was uncomfortable with, he kissed her softly before shifting their positions so they cuddled, her head in between the crook of his shoulder and neck. Wrapping an arm around her, he lazily traced a trail down her side before resting his hand on her stomach. When he felt her body sigh against his, he kissed her hair. "It's fine, April."
"Yes, really. I wasn't expecting anything. And…We don't need to have sex, and we won't, unless we're both ready."
"You mean that?"
April was so glad he couldn't see her tears as they both turned back to the movie.
He kissed her hair and lingered just for a moment, closing his eyes to take her in, to savor the fact that he was holding her in his arms just for tonight - and even if he never would again, they had tonight. He never wanted this moment to end, to feel the breaking of his heart again like he had when she trotted out the just friends speech. Silence had never been so calming.
April was certain she could live in these exquisite pauses forever.