"Stupid bloody wanker" Neela fumed as she stormed over to the admit desk, muttering under her breath. Slamming her chart down; she ran her hand through her hair, turning her head to the left as she felt someone's eyes on her. When she turned her eyes met the green-gold gaze of non other than Ray Barnett – intern, rockstar, ladies man extraordinaire. Turning around to face him fully, Neela crossed her arms over her chest, almost as if she was getting ready to defend herself as she asked him none too kindly,
"What are you staring at?"
Raising an eyebrow, Ray shook his head lightly, sticking his bottom lip out just slightly as he replied with a soft shrug,
"Nothing, I just thought you looked a little tense roomie"
Picking up her chart, Neela walked over to the other side of the desk where Ray was standing and began to fill it in as she worked on the computer. Not taking her eyes off the screen, she replied back,
"First, what gave it away, and second, I told you not to call me that"
Pushing himself off the desk, Ray leaned close to Neela as he grabbed another chart, making Neela wander did he know the meaning of "personal space", and said back in his usually quirky manner, a lopsided grin on his face,
"You know you love it"
But before Neela had a chance to even declare to the entire admit desk, which included Frank, Jerry and Chuny that she did not like to be called Roomie her raucous roommate had already snapped up another chart and was making his way down the hall, glancing back at her with a smile as he said,
"Cheer up roomie; you don't want to scare the patients!"
Glaring at his back, Neela finished filling in her chart before picking up another one and making her way down the hall, wishing that her shift would end already.
Giggling. That's what Neela could hear coming from the drug lock up. That same girlish laugh that she would hear through the thin, correction paper thin, walls of the apartment that she shared with Ray on a frequent occasion. Only to be followed by the lovely sounds of screaming and moaning. She didn't know why the thought made her angry, but it did. Maybe it's because Ray's an inconsiderate ass who needs to think a little more with his upstairs brain. Of course when she finally made it to the drug lock up and seen that the source of the giggling was practically flaunting what God gave her in his face, her hand on his shoulder as she threw back her head slightly, long blonde hair flipping back as she laughed at whatever joke he had just said.
Please, he isn't even that funny. Especially if that Sikh joke is anything to go by, Neela thought, wandering how on earth she was going to get in and retrieve the bottle of penicillin she needed without seeming rude. Nurses were needed to help with her job, making things easier. She didn't need to rub one of them up the wrong way on account of the fact that Ray was whoring himself around the entire E.R. Walking over, a smile on her face Neela said,
"Excuse me", waiting for Ray and the blonde to move out of the way. Of course Ray didn't, she should have known that. That would be the simple thing to do, allowing her to get on with what she was doing.
Turning to look at her, smile in place, Ray asked,
"Hey roomie…what do you need?"
"You two live together?" The blonde nurse, who Neela could now see was called "Amber", looking at her county I.D asked, her face taking on a confused expression.
"Yes" Neela replied simply. She didn't really think that there was anything more to say. Thus an awkward silence enveloped the small space, Ray being the one to break it again as he asked,
"What was it you wanted again?" Looking at the cabinets as if the penicillin Neela wanted was going to magically jump out and into his hand.
Pulling the hair in her ponytail through her hand, Neela looked at him as she replied,
"I didn't, but it's penicillin" May as well be useful while he's standing there
Bending down to the bottom drawer to attain the bottle, Neela watched as Amber tilted her head slightly, enjoying her brief view of Ray's "assets". Turning her head as she rolled her eyes, unable to believe the way they were behaving.
"Here you go" Ray said with a smile as he dropped the bottle into her hands, shoving his own into the pockets of his jeans as he tilted his head to the side a little.
"Thanks" Neela replied quickly before turning and leaving the drug lock-up, the sound of giggling soon returning.
Finally her shift was over and Neela was looking forward to going home and curling up on the couch with a good sappy romance, a big tub of Ben Jerry's and her favourite blanket. Walking out of the doctor's lounge she was just passing the admit desk when Ray fell in step beside her and said,
"Hey Roomie, I'm going out tonight so don't wait up"
Guessing that it was probably with nurse Blondie, Neela looked at him with a slight scowl as she said,
"Why would I wait up?" Of course she hadn't meant for it to sound so rude and harsh, but by the way that Ray's smile faltered she could tell that it came across as such.
"You're right" Ray replied with a smile that didn't reach his eyes, showing Neela that she had hurt his feelings somewhat. "I'd better get back to work. Goodnight" Ray said quickly before walking back into the mayhem of the E.R.
Looking after him, Neela sighed before pulling her coat tighter around her and making her way out into the cold Chicago night air.
It was already nearing 2AM and Neela felt herself growing tired. Around her lay a half empty tub of ice cream, an empty packet or Oreos and the crumbs of the packets of chips that she had just finished munching at. She had already watched her two favourite movies, "Pride and Prejudice" and "Dirty Dancing". She was glad to have had the apartment to herself for a while because she knew that there was no way Ray would ever watch either movie. Like I would tell him that I own them, he would be teasing me for weeks! Over the past few weeks she had found herself spending more time with Ray, although a lot of it was spent arguing over who had used the last of the hot water or who left the window in the kitchen open allowing it to fill with snow. And although at times he was inconsiderate by bringing groupies back at all hours, waking her up just so she could listen to the soundtrack of "right there" and "oh baby yes" as he went at it like the energizer bunny, he did think of her. If one of the girls he had over ate the last of her cereal he would always give her his, or he would let her use the last of the hot water even if they had spent the previous hour arguing over who was to blame for the fact they didn't have enough hot water for both of them.
Making a mental note to apologize to Ray the next time she seen him Neela gathered up all of her rubbish and threw it in the bin before making her way to her bed, falling into the soft plump pillows and closing her eyes.
Turning over in bed, Neela looked at her clock through blurry eyes, seeing the neon lights flashing 04.30AM. Dropping her head back down to her pillow, Neela waited for the ritual sounds of giggling to commence. So much for Ray being considerate…he makes as much noise as a baby elephant! Of course when a few more moments passed and the sound of girlish laughter coupled with Ray's smooth voice as he charmed whoever it didn't follow, Neela felt her heart begin to beat faster in her chest.
"Great, we're being robbed and I'm here alone" Neela muttered under her breath as she grabbed her dressing gown and pulled it on before lifting the vase her mother had bought her that was sitting on her night table.
Opening her bedroom door a crack, Neela peered out into the darkness of the living room, surprised when she saw no one there. Glancing to her left she saw a slither of light coming from under the bathroom door, cutting into the darkness. Setting the vase down, she tentatively walked over, seeing that the door was slightly a-jar. Pushing it open with one hand, she was shocked to see Ray holding his t-shirt up as he inspected his torso, which was littered with cuts and bruises.
"Oh my God, Ray! What happened?" Neela shouted in shock, causing Ray to shoot his head up. Of course that action had only served to make him dizzy; his eyes squeezed shut as he tried to stop the bathroom spinning.
"Nothing" Ray said as he dropped his t-shirt back down and moved to sit on the edge of the bath, the dizziness not having ceased yet.
Walking over in front of him, Neela knelt down and put her hands gently on his face, seeing that he had a lovely bruise that was deep purple around his left eye and jaw, as well as a cut along his right cheekbone.
"It certainly doesn't look like nothing" Neela said as she ran her thumb gently across his jaw, apologizing when Ray winced at the contact.
Guessing that Ray's face wasn't the only thing that was bruised, Neela looked at him with a soft smile as she said,
"Listen, I'm sorry when I snapped at you earlier at the hospital. I've just had a pretty crappy day and shouldn't have taken it out on you"
If it wasn't split, Ray would have bit his lip like he always did when he felt embarrassed, so instead he ducked his head down a little before looking at her and saying,
"It's fine, don't worry about it"
Glad that she had done what she had planned to do, Neela went back to doctor mode as she turned Ray's face with her hands gently and asked,
"O.K, so now will you tell me what happened?"
Giving her a sheepish smile, Ray asked,
"Remember earlier in the drug lockup with that nurse Amber?"
Guessing where this was going, Neela walked over to the sink and ran a washcloth under the tepid water as she replied,
"Well we went out after work and then we kind of ended up back at her place"
Turning around, a puzzled expression, Neela walked over to Ray and gently pressed the washcloth against his face as she blurted out without thinking,
"Don't you usually bring them back here?"
Brows furrowed, Ray looked at her as he said,
"You said you had a bad shift…I knew that if I brought somebody back you wouldn't", but before he could even finish explaining, Neela, caught in the fact that Ray had done something so considerate for her, and had subsequently gotten himself hurt in the process, said in a soft voice,
"You mean you're looking like this because you were trying to do something nice for me?"
Giving her a crooked smile, Ray tilted his head up slightly to look at her as he said,
"Yeah…I figured you wanted to watch Dirty Dancing or whatever other crap you have hidden around here"
Face flushing red, Neela turned back to the sink to get a clean cloth to wipe away some of the blood, saying as she did,
"First of all, it's not crap, and secondly how did you even know that I have that?"
Laughing a little, Ray looked at her as he replied in a somewhat smug manner,
"Lucky guess. I know you enough Neela to know that you're not what you make people think you are"
Gathering what she needed, Neela walked out and into the living room, signaling for Ray to follow her. Sitting on the couch, she began to clean the cuts and bruises on his face, holding his chin gently in her hands. It was the most intimate touch they had ever shared, except when she was punching him, but she guessed that didn't really count. Trying to ignore the tingling sensation in her fingers and the butterflies in her stomach, Neela kept her eyes fixed on the cut she was cleaning as she asked,
"So what happened after you got to her apartment...I'm guessing she didn't do this" she joked, seeing the way the corners of his mouth turned up just a little at her teasing.
"Funny. No, she forgot to mention that she had a boyfriend. A really huge boyfriend" Ray added.
Looking up into his eyes, Neela gave him a soft smile as she said,
"Well, you've probably got off pretty easy then…I doubt you'll even get a scar"
Lifting his hand up and wrapping his fingers around her wrist, halting her motions, Ray smirked as he said,
"Good, don't want to ruin this pretty face, huh?"
Shaking her head, a soft laugh escaping her lips as she tired to ignore the warmth of his skin touching her own, Neela nodded her head as she said,
"What an atrocity to society that would be"
Nodding his head in agreement, Ray released her wrist before turning around in the seat and facing the T.V. Kicking his shoes off and leaning forward, he picked up the remote as he announced,
"Well, we're both up now and off tomorrow, so may as well make the most of tonight"
Normally Neela would have objected, but he had been so nice to her, making her reevaluate everything she had previously thought about him, and so if he wanted her to stay up and watch something with him, she would.
Pulling the blanket from the back of the couch, Neela draped it over both of their laps, Ray looking at her for a moment and giving her a soft smile, before leaning back into the couch.
"Can you believe that?" Neela whispered, referring to the young couple on the T.V. Getting no reply she turned her head to find that Ray was asleep, his head turned slightly towards her. Lowering the volume on the T.V, Neela smiled as the sound of Ray's soft snores filled the quiet apartment.
She was so used to being aggravated by his thumping around in his room early in the morning or late at night, or the way that he would play his music and guitar at full volume, not caring if the neighbor three doors down didn't really care to listen to Black Sabbath or not. But hearing him now, the soft sounds that came from him, his chest rising and falling slowly, Neela couldn't help but smile.
Pulling the blanket up around him more, she laid her head on his shoulder gently, closing her eyes. There was more to Ray Barnett that meets the eye. And Neela hoped that one day she could see it all.