Actions

Work Header

anything for catherine black

Work Text:

Doctor Ian Bickman is not easily surprised, as one might imagine.

But- 

At ten o’clock, ready to finally go home after a nearly sixteen hour day, he finds Catherine Black, teary-eyed and curled into a ball, sitting on the third floor landing, looking positively miserable. 

And he’s surprised

Justshutup.” She hisses to him when he reaches the landing, and any possible witty comment falls flat on his tongue.

“I wasn’t going to say anything.” He shrugs casually, his eyebrows knitted in confusion. “Do you want to...talk about it?” It sounds horrendously awkward, coming from him of all people, but he’s trying his best.

“He’s an asshole. He’s such a fucking asshole.” She murmurs angrily, but her voice cracks on the last syllable.

Now, there’s no question who she’s talking about. Ian has only met Will what’s-his-face once, and he didn’t like that douche from the get go. (And he can see the way he makes Catherine feel, he can see the underlying toxicity of their relationship and it drives him mad).

“Yeah, he is.” He agrees with a sharp laugh. 

“Just leave me alone.” She curls up even tighter, and he slides down the wall to sit next to her with a sigh.

“Not going to happen, Black.” He counters, and right next to her, he can hear her shuddering breaths. When he glances over at her, her head is leaning against the wall, her gaze trained towards the ceiling. Her hair is messier than usual, her wrist red from how many times she’s angrily snapped her hairband against it, her eyeliner and mascara smudged around her eyes. “What’s wrong?”

What isn’t?” She laughs humorlessly. “He is such a fucking douche.” She practically spits the words like venom, and then she’s angrily ripping off her engagement ring and throwing it at the wall opposite of them. 

“Whoa there, slow down-”

Ohmygodhe’sgoingtotelleveryoneeverything.” The words come out in a breathless rush, and her shoulders are shaking, she’s practically hyperventilating.

“Calm down-” He places a hand on her shoulder, and she tears away from him violently.

“You don’t understand!” She practically shouts. “I am ruined.”

Catherine.” He whispers urgently, and she pauses. It’s the first time he’s ever really used her name, and it’s intoxicating, the way it wraps around his tongue. “Breathe.”

He takes her hands hesitantly in his, because this is the first time he’s ever really done this and he’s absolutely terrified.

He interlocks his fingers with hers, and she looks up at him with amazement. He's pretty amazed, too. 

"What are you doing?" She whispers, glancing down at their intertwined fingers.

"Trying to help." He admits, and he can't describe the look on her face; a mix of awe and deep, impenetrable sadness. He's never felt so vulnerable but he kind of likes it. "Do you want to go?"

After a long moment, she nods, silent tears sliding down her face. However, she makes no move to get up.

He wraps an arm around her shoulders, and she feels too frail and slight in his arms as he helps her to her feet.

Her steps are hesitant and unsteady, and he instinctively keeps his arm around her as they make their way slowly down the stairs.

"95th and Amsterdam." She mumbles her address when they reach the street, her voice clouded with tears.

As he helps her into a taxi, he spares a long look at her distraught frame, tear stained face, and dead eyes. He can't leave her alone.

He gives the driver his address instead.

As the taxi speeds across town, she curls towards the frosty window next to her, lights streaming over her reflection in the glass.

When he puts get arm around her again, she turns into him easily, face pressed into his shoulder and she curls into his side, and he finally exhales.

He knows it's impossible, but he's half worried that she can hear his heart thudding uncontrollably in his chest.

Anger bubbles in his chest at Will, the tool, because he is breaking her heart. Now, Ian has broken hearts left and right, but somehow Catherine is different. She's the exception.

She has always been the exception.

"This isn't my building." She mumbles hoarsely, voice thick with tears, as they get out of the taxi.

"You can't be alone. Not tonight." He states, trying to sound logical, like a doctor stating the facts, and failing spectacularly. She nods slightly, looking down. "Is that... okay?"

"It's okay." She reiterates numbly, following him into the lobby. The doorman gives him a questioning glance, but says nothing.

He wishes suddenly that his apartment was less like a bachelor pad.

She stands awkwardly in the door, taking in the hardwood floors, brick walls, and expensive bookshelves filled with books on neurosurgery.

"You can sit, if you want." He offers, suddenly feeling extremely self conscious. "Do you want something to drink or eat? Like coffee or tea?"

"No." She shakes her head. "Thank you."

"You're tired." He sighs, and she smiles slightly with a nod. "There's only the one room, so..."

"That's fine." She swallows hard, crossing her arms over herself as she pads down the hall behind him.

"You need something to sleep in." He realizes, scouring his drawers for a t-shirt and a clean pair of boxers before handing them to her. "Bathroom's to the right."

She nods her thanks, hands curling into fists in his clothes. When she steps towards the bathroom, his stomach twists because he can't let her out of his sight.

"Following me?" She muses as she reaches for his toothbrush to brush her teeth.

"Absolutely," He replies with a quick smile, and the corners of her mouth curl into a grin as she begins to brush her teeth, and it sends a flood of warmth curling through him that he can't quite describe.

"You'll let me get changed in peace, I hope." She asks when she's finished, and heat rises in his face.

"Only if you promise-"

"I'll be okay, I swear." She assures him quietly, shutting the door.

And he's allowed to pretty much have his breakdown now because he is so so so so not good at this and he can barely look at her without his pulse racing, and his mind mind of goes a little blank every time he's near her, and his heart aches to see her so sad.

She looks like she's in one piece when she emerges from his bathroom. It's the most beautiful he's seen her; no make-up, flushed skin, messy hair, drowning in his oversized clothing.

She flashes him a small, sad smile, hands clenched in his worn Columbia t-shirt.

"I'll be on the couch in the other room if you need anything." He coughs, his voice somehow too loud for the room. She looks so small curled in his bed, eyes tired and shoulders hunched in exhaustion.

"Please stay."

He blinks in surprise, and she looks down, fingering his blanket nervously. He nods after a long moment, can hear his heart thudding wildly in his ears as he quickly begins to change.

She averts her eyes in embarrassment, and normally he would have a smart ass comment for her, but this time he's just focused on steadying his breathing and mentally preparing himself to be so close to her.

When he turns off the lights and slips into bed next to her, the silence is suffocating. He moves on to his side to look at her, she's curled deep into his covers, eyes peering out from a mess of blankets.

"Don't listen to Will." He whispers, because just laying here staring at her is practically making him go into cardiac arrest.

Tears immediately form in her eyes, and he feels like he wants to vomit because seeing her cry is literally the worst thing in the world, and it makes his heart and lungs kind of squeeze together painfully.

"You're too good for him." He continues honestly, reaching out hesitantly, nervously to brush her bangs out of her eyes. His heart stops the moment his skin brushes hers. She inhales sharply.

His fingers work their way through her hair before coming to rest by her face on her pillow. She scoots closer to him, places a hand on his chest right where his heart is, fingers curling in the fabric of his shirt.

"Thank you." He barely catches the words that leave her lips, and when he looks down at her in languid surprise -

She's already asleep.


When he wakes up to sunlight pouring through the slits in his blinds, her face is pressed firmly into his shoulder, right where the bone meets his neck. His lips are practically buried in her hair, and the scent of her shampoo fills her nose.

His fingers rest on the soft skin of her waist where her t-shirt has rumpled up, his legs and feet are tangled in hers and this is the best he's felt in possibly forever.  

And at this revelation, he leaps out of bed as quickly and calmly as he can without waking her up.

He splashes his face with cold water, grips the edge of the sink so tightly in his hands that his knuckles turn white, and wonders if this is what love feels like.

When he looks into the mirror, he can see little black marks on his shirt where her mascara-tinted tears dried.

Shit.

When he steps back into his bedroom, her arms are splayed where he was sleeping a brief moment ago, and her eyebrows are furrowed in the most adorable way, like she's searching for him and -

And any thought of closing her out of his life completely crumbles.

When she wakes up, he's making breakfast, whistling mindlessly and playing soft jazz in the background.

(He's built up his facade again, because he's not ready, too scared to let her see how much he cares for her)

He can hear her incoherent mumbling as she rouses, her soft noises of discontent at realizing she's awake.

"Good morning, sleeping beauty." He grins as he throws open the curtains in his room. She blinks tiredly before burrowing back under the blankets, murmuring something that sounds like 'incorrigible tool' in his general direction.

He chuckles lowly. "Breakfast will be ready shortly." She begins to get up, emerging from the mess of sheets, but he stops her with another laugh. "Breakfast in bed is just another perk of staying at the Hotel Bickman."

When he returns with an omelette and a cup of coffee, she's sitting against the headboard, knees curled into her chest and hands rubbing tiredly at her red, exhausted eyes. Her hair is falling over her face, and he nearly moves to brush it behind her ear, kiss her on the cheek and hold her right against him.

Instead, he sits right next to her, offering up the coffee and a fork.

"Your omelette, mademoiselle." He grins.

"How kind of you, monsieur." She replies, lips barely curling into a grin as she takes a bite. He grabs the fork from her hands to take a bite as well, and her eyes widen in surprise and she suppresses a laugh.

"How are you feeling this morning?" He asks on a serious note as he watches her hands tremble when she sips her coffee.

She shrugs a little, searching the nearly empty breakfast tray like something is missing.

"You didn't have to do all of this." She looks at him carefully, fingers playing with the hem of her shirt.

"Come now, Black." He grins, nudging her gently. "What was I going to do? Let you sit there?"

"Most people would." She counters, and there's a long silence before she continues talking. "You make better omelettes than Will."

"You're goddamn right I do." He agrees, and she laughs shortly, her gaze fixed on the blankets a foot in front of them.

"No wonder he didn't want to be with me." She murmurs, low enough that he has to turn closer to her to hear.  "Who would?"

"Don't talk like that, Black." He places the empty breakfast tray down besides them. "Who wouldn't?"

And the moment he says it, he freezes because he has just slipped up; showed a mere sliver of his feelings for her, and he has no idea how she'll react and -

"You don't understand." She whispers, shaking her head, instead of reminding him Bick, we've been through this, it was meaningless sex!

He searches her melancholic resigned eyes for any sign of what she is talking about, but only finds deep-seated fear.

"Tell me and I'll try." He replies, hesitantly lying his hand on top of hers. For a long moment she looks at his hand on hers, and when she looks back up at him, she looks terrified; pupils wide, hand shaking under his.

"I'm bipolar." He has to lean closer to her to hear her. "My mother had it, but I have a tendency to go off my medication. A history of noncompliance. Will only found out because I...cheated on him during a manic episode." A few tears escape her eyes, sliding down her face. "No one knows about it, not even at work. Please, you can not tell anyone, I'll lose my job."

All of the pieces kind of fit together just then, and somewhere in the back of his mind, in his subconscious, he kind of knew, he thinks.

Tears are falling faster the longer it takes him to respond. He wants to say something, but the words aren't quite coming to him so he kisses her instead.

He brushes her tears away before his hand rests on the side of her face. The other moves to her waist, pulling her so close to him that he swears he can feel her heart beating against his.

She tastes like orange juice, minty toothpaste, and salty tears, and he loves it.

"I would never," He murmurs against her lips. "Ever hurt you."

She pulls away from him, skin flushed and eyes surprised, hands resting on his shoulders. And then she smiles, and a little noise of shock escapes her lips but it comes out more like a hiccup through her tears.

"Catherine, you are so smart but you can be so blind." He kisses her forehead, eyes closing in contentment when she moves to hug him.

"Thank you," She murmurs into his shoulder, hands moving down his back, and she's so close to him that she's practically is in his lap.

And Ian Bickman, for one of the first times in his life, doesn't really know what to do, or how to feel. Part of him is absolutely terrified and panicked, because he's never opened up himself to any woman like this before, he's never opened himself up period.

But Catherine has trusted him with what he figures to be her most tightly held secret, and suddenly his asshole facade seems horribly stupid, and his fear of opening up is nothing compared to what she's going through, and -

And suddenly three tiny words hang heavy in his mouth, and that scares him but also excites him. The thought is almost comforting, and he tucks it into the back of his mind for another time.

His feelings for her terrify him, but he couldn't care less, when every inch of her is pressed against him, when she makes a little noise of contentment as his hand sinks to her lower back, tracing patterns on the exposed skin there. Her warmth makes him tired, like he wants to fall back in bed with her and sleep for years.

"Ian," She looks up at him, forehead resting against his and this close, he can see the flecks of blue and green and hazel swirling together in his eyes. It's the first time he's ever heard her use his first name, and it makes his heart squeeze tighter with his lungs.

She presses her lips to his for a long, poignant moment, and he allows himself to melt into her, hand in her hair.

"I don't want to go to work today." She admits with a small, mischievous grin that immediately makes him smile, too.

"Good, I don't either." He agrees, and she laughs slightly as he lifts her more fully into his lap, and he hums with excitement when her legs instinctively wrap around his waist. "But I'm sure we could find something to do."

"Really?" She murmurs against his skin, and it sends a chill down his spine. God, this woman will be the death of him - and he loves that.

When her eyes meet his, they gleam with feigned innocence. Her hands rest on his hips, and she leans so close to him that he can practically taste her lips on his. "Any ideas?"