The morning started stressful enough. Evangeline had awoke with her alarm blaring precisely at five o'clock in the morning. Since she was pretty used to being up so early, Adele's soothing voice was more than enough to effectively rouse her from her sleep.
But from the moment her barefeet touched the floor's wooden tiles, everything seemed to go downhill. She had tripped and fallen face fist, creating a small gash near her hairline. Evangeline had spent ten minutes to stop the bleeding and disinfect the cut, putting a simple band-aid when she finished.
Her shower had been quick, for as soon as she got out, her phone started ringing. At first, it had been her best friend, checking in on her and wishing her good luck on her first day. However, the second phone call was most disconcerting. Evangeline had yet to earn any money and didn't have enough to pay the rent, so she pleaded with her landlord to give her until the end of the month to pay both this month and the next. That would blow her first salary, but she needed a roof over her head.
Evangeline didn't have the time to eat a proper breakfast before realizing she would be late if she didn't leave the house at that precise moment.
Saying she was a mess when she arrived at the hospital didn't even cover it. Eva was hungry, half-asleep and her hair was sticking out in every direction. As soon as she could, she would go fix her appearance in a bathroom mirror and buy a snack at the cafeteria.
"Uhm, good morning?" she hesitantly approached the secretary. "My name is Evangeline Glassman, I'm the new resident surgeon. Could you please point me to Dr. Melendez's office?"
The nurse at the desk smiled kindly and nodded. "Sure, hun. Elevators are down the hall, the main office is in the sixth floor. Just ask a nurse passing by and she'll tell you where to go. Good luck."
"Thank you," Evangeline shot over her shoulder, her pace fast as she strode towards the direction that she had been given.
The elevator ride was quiet enough, Evangeline didn't dare to look at the tall guy next to her. It made her uncomfortable, really. She was used to being at least an inch or two shorter than most people, but she only reached this guy's chest!
With a soft ding! the doors slid open and Evangeline slipped into the main office, her eyes looking around for a nurse so she could ask for more directions. She was about to walk over to a blonde wearing a blue uniform when she saw the man next to her.
There was no mistaking. Wavy hair, lanky figure and skinny frame. His head turned, and Evangeline caught a glimpse of the face she most hated in the world.
Shaun Murphy, she fumed silently, her hands curling up in fists, nails digging into her skin as she attempted to control her temper. Of course he would be here, too.
He had yet to noticed her, so Evangeline silently hid in the shadows, seething as she closed her eyes and counted to ten. She couldn't afford being snippy when meeting with her new boss. Her father's guilt had gotten her a job, she wouldn't lose it because of his precious golden boy.
A hand on her shoulder startled her more than she would ever admit. Evangeline tensed as her mind registered the feeling of the large, clearly male, hand ever so slightly pressing down on her shoulder. She quickly pivoted, coming face to face with a handsome man.
"Can I help you, Miss?" he asked in a baritone voice, letting go of her shoulder and tilting his head to the side, curiosity in his eyes.
Evangeline blinked. "No. I mean, yes!" she blushed at the amused glint that shone in his hazel eyes. "I'm looking for Doctor Melendez."
He raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Yeah," she cleared her throat. "I'm the new resident surgeon."
Realization dawned in his face. "Evangeline Glassman?"
"Neil Melendez?" Eva replied with a question of her own. He smirked, and Evangeline felt amused as her eyes shifted to read the tag on his white coat. How she'd missed, she couldn't even begin to figure out.
"Come, I'll give you your equipment, find you a locker and then we'll meet the rest of the tea," he said with a friendly smile, his hand gently touching the small of her back as he guided her through the main office.
After she was ready to start working, dressed in a big, white coat with her name printed under the breast pocket, her boss had taken her down to the OP rooms. Just before the entrances, there was a large sink with long faucets to scrub one clean after a shift, and further away from that, were the locker rooms.
They were shared, since none of the residents actually showered there, but he explained that usually the men took the left side while the women chose the further right side, away from them.
He had waited for her while Evangeline fixed her hair by pulling it back in a charmingly messy ponytail and applied lipstick to her lips. She took care to make sure her mascara wasn't smudged and followed him into the main office once more.
Hatred bubbled up again when she saw Shaun waiting with another two residents for them. Melendez didn't seem to notice the change in her demeanor since Evangeline was fighting the urge to slap Murphy senseless down. How she hated that git.
"Guys, this is our newest team member, Doctor Evangeline Glassman."
"Call me Eva," she waved at them, shooting a pointed look at Shaun. Don't you call me Eva.
"Eva, these are the rest of the team. Doctor Claire Browne, Doctor Jared Kalu and Doctor Shaun Murphy," Evangeline didn't miss the way his voice steeled ever so slightly as he introduced her to the autistic savant.
He doesn't like him, she mused thoughtfully.
"Nice to meet you Eva," Claire stepped forward, Eva smiled at her. Jared Kalu was the tall guy from the elevator, and now that she wasn't looking like shit, she allowed herself to give him an once over. He looked more indifferent about her presence than anything.
"Today we aren't supposed to do much," Melendez clapped his hands to shift their attention to him. "So I'm putting us all on scutwork. Should something arise, I want your pagers ready so we can act fast. Jared, East Wing. Claire, West Wing. Murphy, Nurse Fryday is waiting for you in the South Wing. Eva, you're with me," he barked out the orders and they all quickly dispersed.
It wasn't lost on Evangeline that Melendez had paired Shaun with a nurse instead of letting him do his part of the scutwork on his own. From what her father had shared - and Evangeline hadn't been the least bit interested in the little punk - Shaun had been at the hospital for close to three weeks. And Neil Melendez wasn't making it easier on him.
"You coming?" she snapped back to reality at the sound of her boss's voice. The surgeon raised an eyebrow as she lightly jogged to catch up with him.
"Sorry, spaced out for a bit," Eva smiled shyly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
"No problem," Melendez looked at her oddly, but the next second seemed to shake his head and look right in front of him. "I haven't done this in a while. Scutwork, I mean," he shared as they started their rounds. "But time to time there are no urgent surgeries to be done and scutwork is all that's left."
"Are all the Wings the same?"
He shook his head. "The East Wing focus more on the young adults. I sent Jared there because he's the silent type that doesn't make small talk and they usually appreciate it. Claire is in the West Wing because she's the most compassionate out of us all and that Wing is mostly reserved for the elderly people."
"South Wing has the least problematic patients. Things like faint tummy aches or dizzy spells. They tend to come here to check they don't have cancer simply because they've got a cold," Neil smirked in amusement. "Always hated that one."
"And the North Wing? Where we're going, right?" Eva asked curiously.
"Yes, where we're going. Children," he replied, the smirk softening into a kind smile. "They tend to be my favorites. I'm known around here for not having any patience, but that's only for mistakes. Kids are a soft spot."
"I can understand," Eva nodded in agreement.
"Oh? I didn't think Glassman had any other kids."
Eva smiled. "He doesn't. I was the only one until Shaun came along," she couldn't help the bitterness that slipped into her voice as she pronounced his name, and Melendez sure didn't miss it. "But my best friend has little cousins that are no older than ten and my ex-boyfriend had a young son from a previous relationship. I've always loved kids."
Melendez didn't say anything, but she could see his smile from the corner of her eye. They stepped into a large room filled with beds, some hidden by drawn curtains, some not. There was a lot of noise but Eva didn't care. Parents and siblings bustled around, entertaining the sick children.
"Here," Melendez handed her a clipboard. "Write down the name and age of the patient, plus what's wrong. If you can solve it easily, check with green ink, but if you think they need surgery, check with red ink."
"Okay," Eva dragged the word out as she watched him grab a clipboard for himself and heading to one of the kids.
Eva looked around and her gaze settled on a lonely girl. She looked no older than seven or eight, but was all alone, sitting on a bed near the window, ignoring everybody around her. It didn't seem like she had any visitors, so Eva made her way over to the bed.
"Hello," she said gently, but startling the girl regardless.
The girl looked up at her, and Evangeline was taken aback at how pretty she was. Her hair was dirty blonde, and much like hers, was pulled back, but the girl's was in a messy bun, a few strands framing her heart-shaped face. Her eyes were a bright ocean blue. Eva wondered how such an innocent face could have such troubled eyes.
"Hi," the little girl replied quietly, looking down at her tiny hands as she played with her thumbs.
Wanting to put her at easy, Evangeline slowly lowered herself to sit on the edge of the hospital bed. The girl made no movement to protest, so Eva tilted her head, smile still in place, as she started asking for her name.
"I'm Eva," she figured introducing herself first would be a bonus, "What about you?"
"That's a pretty name," the girl mumbled under her breath, still not looking at her. Eva waited patiently for her to speak again. "Jayla. Not so pretty, but that's my name."
"Well I think Jayla is pretty beautiful, too," Eva leaned in as if she was about to let Jayla in in an important secret. "Between you and me, I think Evangeline is too long. That's why I want to be called Eva. What about I call you Jay?"
She high fived herself mentally when she saw Jayla smiling at her hands. The girl lifted her head and stared at Eva, eyebrows scrunched together as she studied the surgeon before her. Eva gave her a friendly smile.
"Soooo... you're here to check up on me?"
"Yeah," Eva nodded. "Can you make my job easier and tell me your age?" she winked at Jayla.
Her actions caused a delightful giggle to come out of the little girl. She abruptly stopped, blushing deeply as she realized people had turned to stare. Eva quickly glared at them and stretched out her hand for Jayla to take. Surprisingly, the girl did so without hesitation.
"I'll be nine in two months. November 1st," she said as Eva used her right hand, the one not holding Jay's, to scribble down the date of birth and current age.
"And why are you here, Jay?"
"My cousin brought me since my parents were busy. He was babysitting me, but as soon as we got here, he got a call saying his girlfriend was involved in a car accident. I told him to go," Jayla said quietly, playing with her thumbs again.
Eva nodded wordlessly. And then. "What symptoms do you have?"
"I've been more irritated lately, the nurse said it might be cause by high blood pressure. And I've fallen ill twice this week! Had a high fever the first time, and then my tummy wouldn't stop hurting the second time," Jayla complained, glaring at a nearby nurse as if she was the cause to all of her problems. "Haven't been hungry either."
Eva was listening attentively to her description of her symptoms as she scribbled everything down on the clipboard, her neat fancy calligraphy marked in blue ink. She rose from the bed and set down the clipboard.
"Can you lift your shirt for me, sweetie?" she asked in a soft voice, and Jay complied without question. Eva noticed a few red splotches around the area of her bellybutton, but the girl didn't seem to be squirming in pain.
Her touch was feather light on Jayla's skin as she felt her abdomen. There were notable bumps around her abdomen. Eva quickly scribbled down on her clipboard. It was clear Jay was feeling a kind of pain, but not as intense as she should be considering the bumps. It gave Eva a suspicion of her condition.
"Thank you, sweetie," Eva smiled down at the girl, helping her pull down her shirt again. "I'll ask one of the nurses to do a few tests on you and send the scans down to the lab, okay? I'll be back."
Jayla returned the smile and lied down on the bed, as Eva tucked her in and drew the curtains around the bed, leaving the young girl to sleep undisturbed. She quickly checked her clipboard in red before moving on to more patients, noting that her boss was already three beds down from his starting patient.
One hour later, Eva had checked on fifteen patients in total. Out of the fifteen, only two had rose serious suspicions, which were Jayla and a boy around her age. His name was Scott and his father brought him in after he fainted out of nowhere. She could be wrong, but Eva thought that aside from the fainting, Scott was showing signs of early leukemia.
She met up with Neil in the main office, where the other three were already. However, it looked like they had already given their reports, for they were mingling about. Jared was dozing off with his head in his arms, Claire was sipping coffee next to Shaun, who was staring blankly out of a window.
"Eva," Melendez called when he saw her. "Come," he led her to his office.
She sat down on one of the visitors chairs and rubbed the back of her neck, feeling the stiff muscles. Eva opened her eyes - she didn't remember closing them in the first place - and saw Neil staring intently at her. His eyes widened a fraction before returning to their normal size, a light coloring to his cheeks told her that he was feeling sheepish.
"What did you find?" he asked as he cleared his throat.
"Most had common colds and stomach aches, but there were two in particular that I think should be watched," Eva told him professionally, giving him the clipboard. "Jayla Jackson and Scott Thomas."
"You checked red," Neil muttered under his breath, waiting for her to continue as he scanned her beautiful handwriting.
"It's possible that Scotty has leukemia. Acute lymphocytic if I were to guess. His parents want him treated right away. Wealthy people. The father is apparently a generous donor of the hospital and is speaking with Marcus Andrews and Aaron Glassman right now."
Melendez tensed when she told him the names of his boss's. He put down the clipboard and steepled his fingers, looking expectantly at Eva.
"Jayla has probably already been tested and the lab is printing the results soon. I have reasons to believe she has Neuroblastoma," Eva bit her lip, thinking about the blue-eyed girl. "Unlike Scotty, she is all alone because her parents were too busy so she was being babysitted by her cousin. He may be in the hospital, but in the ER since his girlfriend was involved in an accident."
"You're getting attached," Neil commented, narrowing his eyes at her.
"I'm not. Just like you, I have a soft spot for kids. But I don't give them false hope," she protested calmly, narrowing her own eyes at him. "I simply tell them that whatever happens, they can count on me to talk about it. I don't go around telling them they'll be fine."
A moment of silence followed her statement.
"Very good," her boss nodded approvingly. "I'll go talk with Scott's father right now. Meet me here in another hour so we can get the results from the lab and go talk to Jayla."