Edward knocks on Eric's door, staring idly at the nameplate on the left that pronounces him Division Head.
Edward steps inside the office that's easily twice as big as his.
"Hey, Edward," Eric greets from his desk. "Have a sit. What can I do for you?"
"Just wondering if you had a chance to read my e-mail yet." It's been three days and Edward hasn't received a reply. He knows Eric is extremely busy, but he's usually pretty good about getting back to people.
Eric leans back in his chair, eyeing Edward. "About you wanting Christmas off? It's so you can spend it with your daughter, correct?"
"Yeah." No point in denying it now, ever since Bella came storming in, news of Edward being a dad has spread through the hospital like wildfire. Nosy gossips, every last one of them. "I know it's short notice and that I already said I would–"
"But that was before you knew you had a kid. It's fine, Edward, I get it. Every parent and child should get a chance to spend their first Christmas together."
"Thank you," he says and while last weekend this was something he didn't want, now he feels excited at the prospect of being there when Kaitlyn opens her presents. Excited by the thought of waking up in Bella's house, sharing breakfast and coffee and just being with them. "Do you know who's covering instead?" Edward wants to thank them as well.
"Yes." Eric nods. "Me."
Edward widens his eyes. "But you have a baby of your own, you just said every parent–"
"Should spend their first Christmas together. Peter will be two in March."
"It's fine. The kid is small enough that he won't remember, and you worked Christmas last year. There's five hepatologists, so we should all only have to be here on Christmas once every five years. You're good for another three years. Enjoy it."
Edward bites his lower lip, not pleased with having Eric be the one coming in when he said he would do it, but not wanting to give up the chance to be with Kaitlyn either. It's been years since he actually had someone to share the holidays with.
"I will. Thank you again." Edward makes to get up, but Eric halts him.
"You know, did I ever tell you that I spoke about you with Carlisle this past summer?"
"Carlisle, as in the Chair of Medicine Carlisle?" Edward asks, surprised, not sure if what's coming is going to be bad or good.
Eric smiles. "He likes you, hell, we both do. He reviewed your record and CV, said if you keep this up we'll have to make you an associate in a couple more years."
Edward's stunned, to make associate professor in only four or five years is really damn awesome. It'll make him eligible for tenure and would be one hell of a pay raise.
"I also told him that Marcus is thinking about retiring in a few years." Doctor Marcus Volturi is the director of hepatology. "But first he says he'll want to step down as medical director of liver transplantation," Eric says and looks at Edward pointedly.
"I… wow, do you think I have a shot?" That's the position Edward has been eyeing since he started here.
"I'd say your chances are pretty good, especially if you can make associate first. But Edward," Eric pauses, doesn't look happy about whatever he's going to say next. "The circles under your eyes are getting darker each time I see you. How many hours of sleep a night are you getting? Four?"
Edward shrugs. "About."
"You've been pretty good about leaving here at five, so my guess is you go spend a few hours with your daughter then go back to your place late and spend hours on your computer working until the dead of night."
"With all due respect, I'm not sure what this has to do with anything," he says, not sure what business this is of Eric's. "Have you gotten complaints about me?"
"No, no. No complaints, your work is exceptional, like always. You do a lot for the university, both academically and clinically. But you're running yourself too thin, and drinking more coffee isn't the cure. Nothing's happened yet, but fatigue leads to mistakes and mistakes here can mean death. You know that."
"What are you getting at?"
Eric takes a deep breath. "I'm saying you can't have both."
"Bullshit," Edward replies immediately, pissed off. "The majority of doctors here have families."
"Damn it, boy, calm down, that isn't what I meant. I mean, you can't be a proper dad and become the world-renowned hepatologist that you want. You won't be able to get the publications and marketing you need to go traveling around the world giving talks and teaching. You're running yourself into the ground trying to juggle both now. You have to make one more important. Family or career, one needs to come first."
"And if I don't choose?"
"I won't stand for a doctor on my staff that looks as if he's ready to collapse."
Edward deflates in his chair. He can't cut back clinically, Eric knows that. "But if I decrease my research pursuits, I'm not going to make associate in a couple of years."
"No, you're not," Eric says with sympathy in his eyes, and Edward knows he's just being realistic.
"And the board isn't going to give the transplant position to junior faculty, are they?"
"I'm not sure, but probably not. I'm sorry, Edward."