It happened on a wet Wednesday night, in between shifts.
Abby was changing her scrubs, and Neela walked in.
Simple as that.
Neela stared a little and Abby noticed, and through the blushing and the stammering it became clear that Neela was still staring and Abby was not moving.
Neela was the first to walk away, but not before asking Abby if she wanted to catch lunch later.
And Abby, not really thinking about it, said yes.
The night began like that.
Abby was a nurse by night, but she was always thinking like a med student.
She quizzed Neela on the bones of the skull, just to stay awake during a slow hour.
A slow hour meaning they were stitching a guy's arm, which was sliced open from a pizza cutter gone awry, if he was to be believed. Behind the curtain on the right, a woman who had come in with a cough appeared to have emphysema, and they were waiting on tests.
Neela liked to be quizzed, she liked to think about her books and her papers. It calmed her down in between frantic moments, which were frequent in the E.R.
Abby was good at being in charge, asking the questions instead of being asked. It worked well, because at this hour neither one was willing to do anything out of the ordinary or against her nature.
"Mmm?" She was filling out paperwork, trying to make sure all the nurses got their fair share of night shifts. Someone was going to complain no matter what she did....unless she could squeeze in another Thursday for herself, though that would mean four nights in a row and there was an exam the very next Monday....
"What was it like, dating Kovacs?"
Abby looked up and saw Neela scrutinizing Luka, who was across the room whispering something in Sam's ear. Abby felt a wry sense of rejection come over her - not because of Luka's flirting, but Neela's curiousity.
"Why? Wanna have a go when he's decided it's time to move on to the next bit of stuff?"
It came out crueler than Abby meant it to.
Neela looked at her, wide-eyed. "No...I, that is..."
Neela looked down at Abby's fingers, clutched around the top of her clipboard. She brushed a knuckle against Abby's middle finger and Abby drew in a breath.
"I just want to get to know you better."
Neela was covered in blood.
This was her least favorite thing about being a doctor.
The accident victim came in at a quarter to two, and now the sky was starting to lighten outside. That was what, four hours spent with one case?
Abby was nowhere to be found.
Neela made her way to the locker room, cringing at the squeaking of her shoes. Blood on the soles, probably tracking.
The guy didn't even live through it.
She opened her locker and pulled out a second pair of shoes and clean socks. She'd started keeping them there after her first week at County, when three days in a row had her standing in puke or bile or blood.
She let her gaze linger on her stack of books and papers and slammed her locker door shut.
"Neela, we need you out here, stabbing victim en route."
Pratt's voice was a needle in her ear.
She nodded and didn't tie her shoe all the way because she was in a hurry.
Abby had managed to catch a short nap. She felt bad about it - that car accident guy had been a hell of a case, but the rest of the night had been so slow and he was really the only person in there, and she had worked a day shift, too.
The sky was a dark gray.
How long had she slept?
"Abby, stabbing victim, we need hands."
She didn't register the voice, just the words. She nodded.
Stabbing victim? The guy was practically a pincushion. She sighed, rolled up her sleeves, and started taking orders from Luka.
An elbow dug into her side and Abby looked to see Neela, harried and tired and trying to help out.
She shifted and Neela moved to get something from a drawer, another needle or more gauze or something else that the nurses were in charge of but that Neela felt comfortable doing when she had no idea what to do. Neela stopped suddenly and looked back at Abby.
"You're on my shoelace."
Abby stepped back and focused on Luka's orders - "10 of atropine" - but she lingered a little on the way Neela said "shoelace."
She did have a lovely voice, and Abby had always liked accents.
It was seven o'clock, or just after. Neela knew because Kerry Weaver had come in about a half an hour before, yelling about something in administration.
Abby was doing the last of the inventory in the supply closet. Or at least, that's what she'd told Neela she'd be doing. Neela didn't think that Abby had been doing inventory to have to finish it.
But she was in the supply closet.
Kovacs was helping Sam into her coat, and Pratt was arguing with Weaver. Carter was on his way in the door, and Susan Lewis was right behind him, looking more pregnant today than the day before. Neela wondered why that happened, why pregnancy always seemed to speed along. She figured it was her perception.
No one noticed her slip into the supply closet. Except maybe Jerry, who gave her a little wave as he took up his station behind the desk.
But he didn't know why.
Neela didn't either.
Until Abby's arm was around her waist, and Abby's lips were pressed against hers.
Making out in the supply closet.
Susan had told her about it. No one usually went in there, except for nurses. And Abby was still the head nurse, by default. She made sure everyone heard that she was going in to do inventory before she knocked off for the night.
Who had Susan come in here with? Carter? Or was it just that Susan had heard about it, maybe about Doug Ross when he was still prowling these halls?
Abby didn't care. She hadn't ever wanted to come in here with someone. Carter didn't inspire that kind of spontaneity, really. And Luka did, but she didn't like public affection, much less running the risk of getting caught.
So why was she in here now?
Abby liked the way Neela kissed. Soft and shy, completely unsure.
She was short, too. Abby didn't have to stand on her tiptoes.
Neela didn't know what to do with her hands, so Abby held them.
Abby was good at taking charge.
Thursday morning was here, and it was going to be a good day.