My first fic. I just love Wade and Zoe too much, and decided to try. I'm sorry about the mistakes you may find.
And Happy Thanksgiving!
She doesn't quite know why but she's always the last one to leave the practice. Others could blame it on the amount of paperwork she needs to do but everyone knows better – Bluebell's population doesn't allow her to complain; she treats, in a busy day, three to four patients tops.
If she wants to be honest, it's the charts that Harley kept the ones that entertain her every afternoon. It's like reading a novel about Bluebell's families.
Sometimes she wonders if Harley ever wanted to be a therapist because she doubts that knowing the names of every cat Shula Whitaker has owned during her life could be necessary information.
The ringing of the small bell, that she has learned to love and despise, signals that a new patient has arrived – just when she is about to close, right after she finishes the last paragraph about the birth of the Miller's preemie.
Zoe pokes her head outside her office and chuckles when she is greeted by the image of the old man holding a rag over his shoulder.
Like father, like son.
He shoots her a sheepish smile, and she knows he's probably not completely sober. It's funny but she knows that many years ago, Earl was probably as charming as his youngest son (and more likely than not, a bit of a Casanova).
"I…" He pauses, trying to clear his mind before showing her the wound on his shoulder. "I was fixing the fence but I guess… I should've fixed it before, 'cause it fell on me."
Zoe smiles sympathetically at him, thinking that perhaps fences and Kinsellas don't get along so well to begin with.
She motions with her head to follow her. "Let's check that, okay?"
If any other older man went to be checked by her that often, she would think he is a little perv but she knows Earl prefers to seek for her help instead of Brick's because he hates the speeches about how one is supposed to behave as much as her, no matter how nice Brick is trying to be.
The cut on Earl's shoulder needs a couple of stiches but is not too serious. He will also need a tetanus shot because he can't remember when he got the last one, and he doesn't want to call Wade to ask because it makes him feel like a child.
"We could just-"
"No," Earl cuts her off, frowning while looking at his lap. "I don't wanna bother him."
"Okay, fine." Zoe sighs and starts working on the stitches. "So, the fence, huh?" This is one of the reasons why she needs to work on her bedside manners; she just doesn't know how to make small talk.
"Jesse, he, uh, tried to help when he came but… he's busy," Earl offers, trying to cover up for his son. "He had to go back to… to his job."
Zoe feels sorry for Earl because it's obvious he has no clue about where Jesse is living or what he is doing for living now.
"I'm sure he tried."
Earl chuckles, completely ignoring the pain as she stiches him up because he's a tough man; life has been hard on him so why would a needle bother him?
"Wade fixed it up last time, before the storm?" Earl continues when she nods. "But he's been busy and I can't ask for more time 'cause he's working too."
Zoe blushes a bit because maybe she's the reason why Wade's been busy lately. Maybe she's keeping him from helping his dad and she hadn't even thought about it. Maybe she is selfish and wants to have him at her service; a cheap booty-call.
"You should tell him."
Earl snickers, tilting his head to the side. Yeah. They are not only men but they are Kinsellas. They don't do talking. This? This is probably just because Earl spends too much time on his own and he's half drunk.
"They are like day and night, you know?" Earl mutters wistfully as she finishes up. "Jesse and Wade. One was born in a hospital, completely planned, a sunny afternoon; when I held Jesse for the first time he was a tiny, little thing wrapped in a light blue blanket Alice had picked for him months before." He snorts a laugh and Zoe just smiles in response, looking at this man who's sharing pieces of his life with her. Perhaps this is why Harley wrote everything down on his files. "Wade? He decided when to come to this world, in the middle of a storm, when my truck decided not to work and I had to walk here, looking for Harley because there was no time to take Alice to Mobile." He drags a hand over his face. "We had to wrap him up in one of my plaid shirts."
Zoe chuckles. Just like Wade Kinsella to be wearing plaid from the moment he was born.
"He is younger but he has always been the one who does things his own way." His face scrunches up when she stabs him with the syringe, apologizing under her breath when he narrows his eyes. Earl just shakes his head. "Jesse was always the… good one. Good grades and well-behaved. He was always following me around while Wade… he just did what he pleased. He only ever said sorry to his mama. I don't think he's ever respected me."
Zoe sighs. "Earl-"
He chuckles. "No, it's fine, 'cause my Alice was the good one. He is smart like that. He knew that no matter how many times I yelled at him – or whacked the boy – he only listened to his mother. A lot like me."
Zoe feels like Earl is probably sharing too much. She knows he wasn't always a drunk; that there must have been a point in his life where he became Crazy Earl and she has always assumed that it was when his wife died. It just surprises and saddens her at the same time that a man could love only one woman this much. She has never known a man that has lost his mind for love, until Earl.
This man is still mourning his loss. And he was selfish but the grief didn't let him take care of his children.
"Jesse is a lot like Alice," Earl supplies, stealing Zoe's attention again. "Trying to be the best he could, respecting other people's feelings and all that."
"And Wade is like you?"
Earl gives her a crooked grin that reminds her of certain blonde bartender who happens to be sharing a bed with her every night lately.
Zoe smiles before placing a bandage over Earl's wound. "Is that a bad thing?"
"As bad as it could be." Earl hums to himself, as if he's agreeing with his thoughts. "Everyone knows that a Kinsella only gives his heart to one woman, and then loses his mind. Wade's tough but… he'll suffer more than Jesse." He slips his plaid shirt back on as Zoe gets rid of her disposable gloves.
This is probably more than she should hear from Wade's father, so she tries to lighten up the mood.
"But as brothers they must have many stories and adventures, Jesse and Wade. It can't be all bad."
Earl laughs. "Millions! Like the time they tried to break in one of the neighbors' horse. Jesse was nine and came back home crying to Alice because he had a nasty bump on his head. Wade didn't say a thing, though. He was a scrawny kid but pigheaded, just like now. Alice realized the next day that his bed was stained with blood 'cause he had a nasty cut on his left side. He had fallen off the horse but he'd rather endure the pain than having his mom disappointed on him."
Zoe chuckles. It sounds just like Wade to keep things to himself, especially if said things are going to get him in trouble or hurt someone he cares about.
"Uh, I… I should go," Earl mutters, as if he had suddenly realized that he has said too much, that he shouldn't be sharing secrets about his life with her because, well, he doesn't know her that much. "Thank you for your fine work."
Nodding, Zoe leads him to the front door. "You're welcome. And next time, be careful around fences," she quips.
Earl's mouth curves into a weak smirk. "Keep an eye on him?"
"We are not…" She stutters and blushes, which makes Earl laugh. "We are not."
"It's not like that."
"Is it?" Earl allows her to not answer that question, probably because the answer only matters to her. And Wade. "Have a good night, Zoe."
She watches him walk away for a few seconds before her phone beeps in the pocket of her white coat. It's a message. From Wade. When are you getting here? I feel lonely. BTW, your mom sent you more cookies. Come home before I eat them all.
She smiles fondly at the screen before replying that he'll be sorry if he touches her cookies. She laughs at his answer. I'll do more than touching your cookies when you get here.
It's hard to define what casual is when they are technically exclusive; and not only that but they are practically living together. It's not something she wants to think about so early in the morning but it's not like she can ignore it when Wade is softly snoring next to her, with his arm thrown around her waist because, as shocking as it might sound, they both are cuddlers.
Most of the times, Wade's the one waking up before her. She doesn't know why but it's like that. She just hopes he's not a creep and watches her sleep. In fact, she knows he doesn't. Wade just likes to watch cartoons without her judging. Though, she has to admit Yosemite Sam cracks her up.
She opens one eye to see that his mouth is barely parted, and giggles quietly before he frowns. She woke him up.
"Stop staring at me," he grumbles under his breath and rolls away from her. Of course she follows and climbs on top of him to poke him in the chest until he huffs. "I hate it when you are in a good mood."
He chuckles but keeps his eyes closed. "Can we just nap for like five more minutes?"
"Zoe," he whines.
She grins at how adorable he can be sometimes. And then she remembers about the previous night. She's not exactly gentle when she forces him to turn on his side and lifts his left arm.
"What's with you?" Wade groans and glares at her before burying his face in a pillow.
There, over his ribs, there's a small, old scar. It's not too big but in a little boy must look much worse.
"Nothing," Zoe replies and traces the line over his skin with her index finger. "When did you get this?"
"I was a kid. Kids get hurt. It's a rule around here." He sighs and she knows he's five seconds away from falling asleep again.
For a moment, she's afraid Earl is right. Maybe Wade is a lot like him but it seems unfair. He shouldn't be one of those men who fall in love only once in a lifetime. Wade shouldn't go through that.
She wraps her arms around him and feels a little smile tugging at the corner of her lips when he hugs her back. Pressing the side of her face to his shoulder, she finds peace. Keeping him with her for five more minutes sounds like the best idea ever because those are five minutes in which she knows he's still happy.
She doesn't want to over analyze why she wants to see him happy, though. So, just like many times before, she fools herself into thinking they are casual.
But there's nothing casual about them.